Author’s Note: Beware SPOILERS. I do not suggest reading if you have not finished the game. I suggest leaving immediately if you have not yet finished the Justice Confidant. You have been warned. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy. I threatened waiting until Christmas, but it ended up less Christmasy than I thought it would, so I’m posting it now.
Mandatory Disclaimer: The story is based on the world and characters of the Atlus video game Persona 5. I do not own Akira, Morgana, Akechi, ect.,. I do, however, own this story itself, and any original characters who appear. Additionally, assume images used are official. Any which aren’t will credit the artist.
Example: featured image is from Pixiv.
Now, read, enjoy, and maybe even review. I hope you enjoy.
Joker topped the familiar stairs to enter a familiar room. Filled with gifts from his friends, star shaped lights dimly illuminated the small room. In front of the TV, his Shadow busily tapped away at a controller. It didn’t even look up.
Across the room stood the shoddy bed he had spent most of a year using. Someone was tied to it, rope going under the mattress.
A red mask with the nose broken off rested on the windowsill.
The sounds of someone furiously tapping a controller stopped. A final click, and the light stopped fluctuating.
“Go ahead and put Morgana on the bed.” Joker’s Shadow stood. “I wouldn’t want him getting hurt.”
Joker slowly moved towards the bed. One good look at the tied up Akechi and he nearly dropped Morgana.
He’d figured that’s who was tied up on the bed, but he hadn’t expected so much damage. Akechi’s messy hair stuck to a shallow wound on his forehead, and his bottom lip bled slightly from a bite mark. That wasn’t the only bite mark either. The buttons on his Phantom Thief uniform had been undone and he had bite marks and bruising on both shoulders. There appeared to be bruising throughout his body.
“He kept running,” the Shadow explained. He sighed. “I really wish he wouldn’t. That he’d choose to stay, but his pride won’t allow it.”
Joker gingerly laid Morgana down beside the injured Akechi. “How could you do this to him?”
“I hate him.”
“Then let him go.”
Joker spun to face his Shadow. They looked identical except for the yellow eyes.
“Why are you doing this? Why are you keeping them around like this? These cognitions, they’re miserable.”
The Shadow shrugged. “They’re my game pieces. I need them.”
“They’re my friends,” Joker corrected.
“No, they’re replicas of our friends. Most of our real friends are in Tokyo. These cognitions exist because of my desire to see them again, my desire to have them by my side.” He grinned. “And my desire to continue the Phantom Thieves.” He slammed his head against the wooden wall. “I feel so useless like this.”
Joker looked away.
“What do you want, Joker? What do you really want? Why are you living like this? You don’t know why you study. Why you do anything. You don’t know what you want. Your friends don’t need you to be happy or successful. So, what good are you? No one needs you and you don’t even know what you want.”
The Shadow stepped forward. “Tell me what I want. What can happen to make me happy?” he pleaded.
“I don’t know.” Joker looked up to his Shadow once more. “I just know I have to keep moving forward.”
“You’re not though. You’re stuck in place. We’re stuck in place. I play all these games to keep my mind busy. To hone my intelligence and my strategy, but there’s no reason for any of it. I don’t even please myself.”
Unable to really think of a response, Joker just said, “Let Akechi and Morgana go. Let everyone go.”
“And be alone?”
“Better than imprisoning others.”
“Maybe, but I want the real thing. I want them back.” The Shadow’s form morphed, black wings sprouting from his back. His hands extended into monstrous talons, and his mouth a beak. “And I know you won’t give it to me, so maybe you should just die.” It hunched forward. “Maybe I should just die.”
“There’s a better way.”
“You don’t get it at all. You don’t understand what you’re really asking me to do.”
Joker pulled out his knives. “I will free them.”
His Shadow beat its wings, generating a hurricane of wind.
Joker held his position, but couldn’t move forward. Unfortunately, all he could do against such a gale was wait for it to end.
And it did. Just moment before talons raked into his arms. He fell to the ground, bleeding heavily. His Shadow pressed down on him, tearing into him with its talons.
Arrows of light descended on the Shadow. It howled in pain. Joker took the opportunity to get up from under it.
Glancing over to the bed, he saw Robin Hood dissipate. A moment later and Akechi sat up. Morgana moved down to his feet.
“How dare you,” the Shadow hissed.
“Kougan,” Akechi whispered in response. Robin Hood appeared once more. He looked dull compared to how he had been before, but Joker wasn’t about to complain as light once more rained down on the Shadow.
Another rope came undone.
The Shadow went for Morgana. Joker dived after it, grabbing it around the waist. They tumbled together at the base of the bed.
His Shadow got him pinned, only to get a slingshot hitting its head.
Joker used that distraction to jab it with a knife. It howled, but also slashed him with a talon.
Morgana leapt at it with his scimitar.
The Shadow tossed him aside, but not without receiving a rather large gash across its arm.
Joker slide out from under it, coming to his feet near the stairs. Akechi moved away from the bed, towards the shelves stacked with gifts. Morgana shifted closer to the TV. No matter what it did next, the Shadow would expose its back to someone.
Indeed, it stopped to look at each of them in turn. It ended on Akechi, glaring at him.
“I hate you so much. Everything you did, so unforgivable.” Its talons clenched. “I despise you, and I despise how little I despise you. Worse yet,” it took a faltering step forward, “I despise how little you despise me.”
With a sudden spin it lunged for Joker.
A darkness surrounded it, surging ahead of its own charge.
Joker cross his dagger in an attempt to guard.
The darkness dug into the wound caused by the talons just moments ago. He grimaced as it widened the gashes.
“Mercurius,” Morgana shouted. A warm light shone over Joker, Morgana, and Akechi. Joker’s wounds stopped bleeding, the darkness within them dissipating.
Unfortunately, healing couldn’t stop the Shadow’s charge.
A red sword slashed across its midsection, practically hurling the Shadow into Morgana. Loki hovered in front of Joker, but something seemed different. There was more flow to its form than Joker remembered.
The Shadow attempted to barrel into Loki, only to have Mercurius punch it. It went tumbling down the stairs.
Loki dissipated, but not before Joker realized that the black and white stripes around it seemed to be unraveling. He passed Akechi a concerned look.
“I’ll be okay.” He wore his black outfit now, but even it seemed to be falling apart. “Let’s get him while he’s down.”
“Agreed,” Morgana replied, hopping down the stairs.
Joker grabbed Akechi’s arm. “Are you sure you’re alright? We need to get out.”
“We have to get rid of the cognitions.”
With a nod, Joker let go of his arm, and proceeded to head down the stairs where he could already hear the whipping winds.
Akechi was right behind him.
Black blood covered the arcade machines. Morgana had apparently managed to get a deep gash into one of the Shadow’s wings while it was down, and now it staggered around, slashing wildly at the quick moving Morgana.
Akechi called out. “Take him down, Loki.”
Loki’s red blade left a deep gash in the Shadow’s back. It spun angrily.
“How dare you. After I pitied you, how dare you.”
Akechi placed a hand on Joker’s shoulder, steadying himself.
So he was hurting, even after Morgana’s healing.
“You didn’t pity me,” Akechi hissed. He gripped tightly on Joker’s shoulder. “You just couldn’t let me go.”
The black and white around Loki’s form continued unraveling. They unfurled into a black and white cape, like snow falling at night. A mask like encircling flames surrounding the Persona’s face, and its horns remained relatively unchanged.
Runes ran along the blade.
The Shadow charged the shifting Persona.
“Oh no you don’t,” Morgana shouted. Mercurius once more slammed into the Shadow.
Morgana looked up at Akechi. “Go get him, Crow.”
“Allow me,” Akechi responded, stepping ahead of Joker. His outfit shifted as well, some of the white and red from his Robin Hood uniform sneaking in, as it too seemed to unfurl. The cape grew into a long jacket similar to Joker’s, with runes in red and white around its edges. A golden clasp of a two-headed snake held it together.
The Shadow looked passed him, to Joker. “Do you see it now? Do you understand?”
Loki raised Laevatein high.
Joker reached out to hold Akechi’s, Goro’s, hand.
Laevatein pierced the Shadow, and it screamed, darkness spreading around the room.
Morgana moved over to them in the darkness, standing just in front of Goro.
The darkness cleared to expose his Shadow, dressed in the Shujin Academy uniform, sulking in the middle of the room.
Joker looked to Goro. “Come with me?”
He received a slight nod in response.
All three of them walked forward together, but Morgana let Joker and Goro take the lead. Goro wore a mask again, once more a crow motif, but all black.
“Now what?” Joker asked his Shadow.
“That’s up to you.”
Joker looked down at his and Goro’s hands. “This is my treasure, isn’t it?”
The Shadow nodded. “Your guilt, your anger, your hatred. All of it, right there.”
“This is real.”
Joker looked carefully at Goro. “You’re real.”
“That’s my understanding.”
“He’s real,” the Shadow assured them. They both looked to it. “I found him injured and starving in my domain sometime after the disappearance of Mementos, sometime after I came into being.”
“You’ve been inside me a long time.”
The Shadow nodded.
Letting go of Goro’s hand, Joker kneeled down to look his Shadow in the face.
“I need to return to Tokyo, to see my friends for who they are now. To grow with them.”
“Does that mean we’re moving back?” Morgana asked from behind them.
Joker smiled slightly, but otherwise ignored him.
“You, both of you, have limitless potential. Being unable to tap into that…”
Goro spoke up. “If we’ve been here for an extended period of time, why did he only just now start showing up?”
“I don’t know,” the Shadow admitted. “I think I just kept growing stronger, until he couldn’t hide from me anymore.”
“I shouldn’t have hidden to begin with,” Joker admitted. “I wanted new experiences, to try new things, and make new friends, but you’re right, I need my friends from the Phantom Thieves. I can’t just leave that behind. I don’t want to.” He turned to Goro. “Any of them.”
The Shadow smiled, rising up to take the form of Arsene. “I am pleased to return. Do not fall into complacency. It is simply not your true self.”
Joker reached out, taking the mask offered to him.
The area around them began to shake.
“Uh, so did we ever figure out how to get back out?” Morgana pressed, coming right up to him.
“I’d guess we just wake up.” Joker grabbed Goro’s hand tightly. Morgana hopped onto his back.
Goro clenched his hand tightly. “I’m ready to get out of here.”
“Arsene,” Joker whispered, “get us out of here.”
The persona surrounded them, lifting them high. The Palace crumbled beneath them.