Actions

Work Header

ta lumière guider ton destin

Chapter Text

 

 

 

The Empress of Thunder was a legend. The most notorious pirate to ever set sail upon the seven seas.

 

She was a figure demanding of respect. All who saw her claimed she stood tall, her face hidden behind a black skull, yet dark eyes blazed fiercely, bright with fire and determination. Wherever she went, sparks of lightning flashed upon the sky, thunder roaring loud as the boom of her Adventure Galley's cannons firing.

 

She was a terrifying force of nature. People feared her. Some nearly admired her. The King of Yongen-Jaya? He hated her.

 

Nearly every vessel that departed from Yongen-Jaya's port sailed with the threat of running in to her own Adventure Galley looming over them.

 

The piles of splinters and cinders she'd left in her wake were enough to make even the most hardened of sailors wary.

 

And yet, there were a few who spoke of the kindness that shone in those dark eyes. People who spoke of the brave soul that guided lost vessels through the choppy, stormy waters of night, claiming they would not be alive without her.

 

In truth, Kyouka Sakamoto wanted nothing more than to keep the seas safe. The sea was her domain; it was her duty, as its Empress, to protect it.

 

She couldn't have deplorable people sullying her waters with their mere presence.

 

 

 

But one day, she gave it up. Docked the Galley away somewhere safe, where no eyes would pry. Gave her crew all the thanks she possibly could, wishing them well. 

 

The Empress of Thunder sailed no more.

 

 

 


10 Years Later

 

 

"I wanna take over!"

 

 

"...what?"

 

Kyouka wasn't sure she was hearing her son correctly at the moment.

Ryuji sighed, repeating himself just a tad louder. "Ma, I wanna take over the Galley!"

 

Kyouka's eyes went wide for just a second. She was not, in fact, hearing her son wrong. She shook her head, pinching the bridge of her nose. Oh, how she feared this day.

 

"Ryuji, honey, do you know what you're asking for right now? That ship, it's—you realize what it entails, don't you?"

 

Her voice was firm, but Ryuji heard the worry dripping from her words. He nods, the beginnings of a smile gracing his lips.

 

 

"Ma, I know. I know—I know the risks, I knows the dangers, but you've told me the stories! You told me that the sea, that's our home! If we don't protect it, who will? That's what you did, ma! That's what  wanna do!"

He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, and when he opens them, he looks her straight in the eye.

 

"Please, let me take over the Adventure Galley!"

 

 

He can tell that his mother is deep in thought. Her eyes are brimming with worry. She even begins to worry at her lip. The silence is killing him. 

 

 

"....you'll need a crew. Supplies. Weapons."

 

"C'mon, ma! You can't—wait. Wait wait wait, you...you're lettin' me?"

 

Now he's got a shocked expression, and she's the one offering him a weary smile as she leans against the chair next to the dinner table.

 

"I know you. You're as stubborn as me, kid. Besides, I know how bad you want this. You've been workin' as hard as you could to get to this point. I know you're ready, I just..."

 

She lets out a small laugh. "C'mere, 'yuji," she says, and she stands up to pull her son into a warm embrace.

 

 

"I'm gonna make you proud, ma. I promise." Is what he mutters. "I'm already proud of you, Ryuji. I've always been proud of you. I'll always be proud of you." She replies, voice low and shaky.

 

 

 

A week later, Ryuji's gathered his crew, and the ship is ready. On his seventeenth birthday, he sets sail. The Empress watches the Galley disappear into the horizon.

 

 

She knows the new prince will do well.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Only two years have gone by, and yet, the Lightning Prince has become as legendary as the Empress herself. 

 

The Galley’s new captain was very much different from its first. He did not hold the same regal air that she possessed, and though he stood tall, it was never to his tallest. His strength and skill made him a captain demanding of respect.

However, beneath the hood in which tufts of blonde peeked out, under the silver skull that hid his face from the world, the same dark eyes blazed fiercely, bright with fire and determination.

 

He was a terrifying force of nature. People feared him. Some even admired him. The King of Yongen-Jaya? He absolutely despised him.

 

Once again, no sailor would depart from Yongen’s ports without fear of running into the famed vessel, followed by sparks of lightning across the sky. No one wanted to become the next pile of splinters and cinders he left in his path.

 

Even so, there were some that spoke of the warmth in those dark eyes; they spoke of the kind, brave captain who guided lost vessels through the stormy waters of night, with the help of his friends; the fire that kept spirits high, and the bright moon that could read the stars like an open book.



In truth, Ryuji Sakamoto simply wished to carry on his mother’s legacy. He wanted to make her proud. Protect his home, protect the sea from bad people, and help the good people who needed it. 



 

 


 

 



Ryuji sighs.

 

He’s leaning on the Galley’s railing, looking out to the bright-blue sea. Mask gone, hood uncovered. It’s peaceful.



That bastard Kamoshida wouldn’t be back on these waters for a while. Not after what they did to his fleet.

 

And hopefully Miss Fuuka made it home safe. She got caught in that real bad storm on her way back to Tatsumi, and they were lucky to have spotted her vessel. Good thing they were close enough to help keep that boat upright, or else—


“Heeeeeeey, earth to Ryuji!”


He’s pulled out of his thoughts by a loud voice, and a pair of fingers that snap right in front of his face. He jumps back slightly, shaking his head before turning to Ann.

 

“Oh, Ann, what’s up?”

“What’s up?! Ryuji, I’ve been trying to get your attention for the past five minutes!” At least she doesn’t sound too irritated, but her brows are furrowed, arms crossed against her chest.

 

...was he really zoned out that long?

 

A hand reaches up to sheepishly rub at the back of his neck.


“...sorry, Ann. I guess...I guess I’ve just had a lot on my mind.”



“I’ll say,” she raises her brow, “What’ve you been thinking about, anyway?”


He’s leaning his back against the railing now. “I dunno, just…..this time around was real rough for us. That storm the first week threw us off real bad, and we had to fight a lot more than usual.”


Ann’s leaning up against the railing now too, and she's offering Ryuji a smile.

 

“C’mon, captain! We handled all that stuff just fine, like we always do. There’s nothin’ saying we can’t pull it off again! We’re doin’ pretty great, if I do say so myself.”



A small smile graces his lips. “...yeah. Yeah, you’re right. Thanks, Ann.”



Her smile grows wider. She stands up from the railing, stretching her arms above her head. 

 

“By the way,” she’s setting her arms down slowly, “I actually came to tell you that we’re gonna be home soon!”



Ryuji’s bolting up from the railing, and he shouts out a loud “Forreal!?”



“Yep! Yuuki said we’ll be docking in about an hour, give or take.”

 

The sigh Ryuji lets out is one filled with relief. “One more hour till home.” He says happily, and Ann lets out a giggle.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Once the Galley is docked, he gathers the crew together. “One month,” he says, “We’re meeting back here in exactly a month.”



The crew is dismissed. They take turns travelling from the hidden docks back to town.



Yuuki and Ann stick around. They wait until it’s just the three of them before heading to town themselves.



They’re walking along and talking amongst themselves, seemingly without a care in the world. Or, as carefree as you can be when you run an infamous pirate ship.

 

“I get to go home! To the shop, and Shiho…” Ann sighs dreamily, resting a hand on her cheek. 

 

Yuuki groans in reply. “Yeah, and I get to go home to the palace...I’m just hoping Miss Kawakami doesn’t grill me out again like last time.”



Ryuji’s brow raises, “How the hell d’you manage to keep your job? You’re basically gone from it most of the time.”


“Oh, you’d be surprised at how much the prince and Miss Kawakami cover for me.”

 

The prince?” Ryuji asks with the slightest bit of disbelief in his voice, and Ann is gently elbowing his arm for it.

 

“Oh, he’s not bad. He’s actually pretty sweet, y’know.” She says, and Ryuji grunts in response.

 

Yuuki shrugs. “She’s right, He’s pretty cool, nothin’ like you’d expect him to be. I think you’d like him, if you ever got the chance to meet him. He’s not—ah, crap. I gotta go from here. We still doin’ Leblanc tomorrow night?”

 

“You know it.” Is Ryuji’s answer, and they exchange their goodbyes. Before long, Yuuki’s off, treading the main road to the palace.


Ann and Ryuji walk on, their exchange eventually dying down into a comfortable silence. 

 

When the reach Carmen’s, Ann’s grabbing the door before Ryuji can say anything. “Stop in for a sec!”

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Business has been slow this week, but Shiho doesn’t mind too much. Running the shop isn’t easy. On the bright side, the order for that skirt isn’t due to be picked up till next week, so she can start tomorrow and not have to worry.

Maybe Ann would be back home by then, too…

 

Shiho sighs, picking up one of the rolls of silk to take to the back room. She misses her fiancée terribly. She should be home by this weekend, but…

 

“Oh, what’re you worrying for, Shiho? Have more faith, will ya? They’re gonna be fine.” 

 

Her little self pep-talk helps, but only for a moment. Once she’s in the back room and she’s set the fabric roll down by the sewing table, she sighs again, heavier this time.

 



‘...I’m worried about them…’

 

 

The chime of a bell as the door is opened brings Shiho out of her thoughts, and she shouts a quick “Coming!” as she heads back to the shop.


Shiho does not expect to find both Ryuji and Ann waiting for her.

 

With a yelp of Ann’s name, Shiho practically jumps into her arms, and Ann is more than happy to oblige, picking her up and spinning her around. 

 

“You guys are back early!” Shiho nearly shouts, smile plastered on her face. She’s looking between the two as Ann sets her back down, and she’s making her way to hug Ryuji the second her feet are back on the ground. It’s a hug he happily returns.

 

“Heya, Shiho.” He breaks away from the hug first. “You been holdin’ up ok?”

 

She nods her head, “Of course.”


The friendly banter lasts between the three for a while; Shiho talks about how uneventful it’s been for her working the shop, and she listens intently to Ann’s talk of their most recent adventure. Ryuji takes a glance at the window near the door, and he sees the sky already fading to dusk.

 

“It’s gettin’ late. I’d better get goin’, but I’ll see you guys tomorrow?” He turns his head towards them.



“Yep! Leblanc!” Shiho says, and Ann nods along.

 

“See ya tomorrow then.” Ryuji says with his own smile. 

 

Before the door closes behind him, he hears Ann shout, “Hey! Say hi to your mom for me!”

 

 


 

 

 


The streets were busy this evening, but it didn’t hinder Ryuji. He managed to reach the crossroads rather quickly. Off to the cliffside he went.

 

He starts humming to himself; it’s a song he used to hear often when he was younger. During times when he needed it. 

 

Soon enough, he sees the familiar lone cabin off in the distance. There’s a figure in front of it. Ryuji quickens his pace; the closer he gets, the clearer his mother becomes. She’s carrying firewood back to the cabin. 

 

Kyouka turns her head, and the first thing she sees is her son waving at her. She doesn’t miss a beat. She shifts the wood so she can carry it with one arm, and she uses the other to wave back as she exclaims, “Welcome home!”


She sets the firewood down by the door so she can hug her son when he arrives. They enter the house, and Ryuji heads straight to the dinner table. He takes a seat, and lets his forehead gently hit the table.

 

Kyouka chuckles, rolls her eyes at him. “You’re back early. How was it?”

 

“Horrible, for the first few days at least. Then bad, then okay. Storm screwed us up real bad.” Ryuji’s muffled by the table. 

 

Kyouka takes a seat next to him. They talk for quite a while.

 

 

 


 

 

 

“Mishima!”

 

Yuuki’s startled by Miss Kawakami’s voice. He didn’t realize she’d be this close to that specific back entrance upon his arrival. 

 

Kawakami’s brows are furrowed. “You don’t usually get back early on these ‘trips’ of yours.”



“I know, I know, I was lucky this time around.” Is his swift reply.

 

She takes notice of how disheveled he actually looks. He’d changed hastily.

 

“Well, you’d better check in with the prince. Let him know you’re back. Oh, and before you do, fix your shirt. It’s backwards.”



Yuuki looks down and realizes that it is, indeed, on backwards. His eyes widen in horror, and he’s scurrying off with a “Y-Yes, Miss Kawakami!”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Phantom Thief of Yongen-Jaya first began his ‘crusades’ about a year ago. He was quick to becoming notorious among the people; more specifically, the nobility themselves.

 

Clad in black, donning a mask to hide his face away from the world.

 

In the darkest hours of the night, when the blankets of the shadows would keep him cover, he would strike. Slip into the homes of his unsuspecting ‘victims’, swiping them blind and leaving them with nothing but a simple warning.

 

Change your corrupt ways. Repent for your sins, unless you wish to face my blade.”




In truth, Akira Kurusu, crown prince of Yongen-Jaya, simply wished the best for his home and his people. Everything his parents allowed to be taken from them, he swore he would bring back. 

 

He would bring justice home.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 



“Akira! Wake up! Wake! Up!”


Morgana was yowling, digging his claws right into the lump under the covers. The lump merely shifted around, and poor Morgana was nearly thrown off the bed.

 

The cat huffed, hopping back up to the lump. He reaches the pillow, where a mess of black hair is peeking out from under the blankets. Nosing around, he finally finds an ear, and then,

 

“WAKE! UP!”

A moment passes, and Akira groans as he once again shifts away from the voice howling into his ear. A few more seconds pass, and Morgana backs away as Akira slowly begins to push himself up.

 

He takes his time shoving the blankets away from himself before he rises from the bed, and he stretches his arms up, as high as he can, until he hears that satisfying pop .

 

“Took you long enough!”

 

Akira responds to the cat with an eloquent “Mhmn…”, rubbing the sleep away from his eyes with one hand as he reaches out to the bedside table for his glasses with the other.

 

“Is it late…?” He asks.

 

“You have…” Morgana glances over at the small clock hanging from the wall, “...exactly sixteen minutes to get ready if you don’t wanna be late to that meeting. Y’know, with your father, I might add.”

 

Akira sighs...or is it a yawn? It’s actually a mix of both, and he reaches a hand up to stifle whatever it is. He’s gingerly sliding off the bed, padding away to the bathroom, and Morgana immediately steals his place afterwards, curling up into the pillow.


It takes him fourteen minutes to get ready. Lucky him.

 

He sits on the edge of the bed once again so he can slip on his boots. Morgana picks his head up to watch him for a bit.

 

Akira’s up from the bed once again, and he’s giving himself a quick once-over in the mirror near his wardrobe. He looks quite well put-together, simple dark pants and tunic, and hair that isn’t a frizzy mess for once. He takes a moment to push his glasses up his nose.

 

Once he’s satisfied, he heads off, and before he slips out the door, he’s calling back a “Wish me luck,” to Morgana. The cat replies with a curt “Yeah, yeah.”

 

Akira can’t help but roll his eyes.

To his surprise, Goro is waiting for him outside.

 

“I didn’t expect you’d be back so soon. Those ‘special missions’ of yours usually last long.” The beginnings of a smile grace Akira’s face as he speaks.

 

“Well, to be quite honest, I didn’t expect to be back so quickly either. But...well, this one had to be cut short.” Goro gives him a nod, smiling back. Akira wants to pry, but he knows better. Asking questions has never gotten him anywhere…

 

“...what’re you here for, anyways?”

 

“Ah, I’ve been found out. I’m to escort the prince to his meeting with the King.” 

 

Akira chuckles. “That’s...that’s a bit much, don’t you think?” Goro crosses his arms with a small shrug, and the prince shakes his head.

 

“Very well, then. Escort me to my parents, my dearest crow. Lead the way!”

 

Akira sweeps into a dramatic bow, and Goro can’t quite stifle his fit of laughter. “ Again with that old name? I wore that mask one time!”

 

 


 

 

The meeting was Horrible. Absolutely Terrible. If Akira had rolled his eyes anymore they would have rolled straight into the back of his skull. 

 

Alas, he had his manners. He stayed calm and listened intently throughout the duration of the meeting. 

 

However, every one of these meetings was another testament to his patience and self-restraint. 


Akira could feel the wave of relief washing over him as he entered his room. Morgana, who’d been napping peacefully on the pillow that he hadn’t moved from since Akira left, cracked an eye open. He watched Akira shuffle over to the bed, turning around before flopping back with a little bounce.

 

“It can’t have been that bad.”

 

“Oh, Mona, you don’t know the half of it.” Akira groans in reply, letting his eyes slip shut. He’s tempted to take a nap, just a small one…

 

He feels a soft paw poking at his cheek.

 

Akira shoots a deadpan look at Morgana. They’re locked into an intense staring contest for quite a while, until Akira sighs and brings a hand up to scratch under the cat’s chin. Morgana’s purrs are the only audible sound in the room.

 

A knock at the door interrupts the peace, and Akira shouts “Come in!” as he’s sliding off the bed. Morgana is only slightly disappointed by the absence of those chin scratches.


Yuuki peeks his head through the door before fully entering. “O-oh, Sir, I hope I wasn’t interrupting anything.”

 

“No, no, you’re fine Yuuki, come in.”

 

Yuuki slips in wordlessy, shutting the door with both hands.

 

Morgana meows rather loudly, and he hops off the bed to pad over and rub up against Yuuki’s leg. He’s always told Akira that Yuuki gives the best belly rubs.

 

“D’aww, hey Mona.” Lo and behold, Yuuki bends down on his knees to start petting the cat, and Mona’s loud purring only spurs him on. He meows and paws at his hands when he tries to stop, and Yuuki laughs as he scratches behind his ears.

 

“How was your trip?” Akira asks, and Yuuki finally pulls his attention away from Mona. Not completely, as he scoops the cat up into his arms before moving to sit down on the floor by the bed, but most of his focus is still on the prince.

 

"It was...pretty good, actually." Yuuki started, a smile gracing his lips as Mona got comfy in his lap. "Weather was a bit rough, but everything was smooth sailing, for the most part. My family was okay throughout the whole thing too, so that was a relief."

 

His smile grew just a bit wider. Sure, he wasn't all too clear on what he was really up to, but he didn't necessarily tell any lies either. The sea was calm after the storm passed, and the crew that he considered his family were doing well.

 

Akira grins, reaching up to push his glasses up his nose. “I’m glad everything went well. I’m glad you made it back safely.” He’s pulling his leg up onto the bed, leaning forward just the slightest bit.

“Me too. Have things been okay here? You seem--hey, Mona!” Yuuki’s laughing as Mona begins nuzzling into his hand, and he starts running a hand across his back. He starts to speak again as his laughter dies down. “ A-Anyways, I was sayin’ that you seem kinda worn out. Has the King been...well, you know…”

Akira sighs, his head tilting down to stare at the floor. He starts to fiddle with the ends of his sleeves. “Having to sit in a room full of snobby rich people at least once a week? And him being the absolute worst of them? Yeah. He’s been great. He just proves how ‘great’ he is every time I have to speak to him. I think that Lady Niijima and Lord Yoshida, oh, that whole scandal with him embezzling funds got cleared up while you were away, and he was proven innocent. Anyways, those two are the only reasons he hasn’t let the rest of his court wreak havoc and ruin the rest of the kingdom.”

 

“They’re the only people in his court that have any common sense. And they actually listen to you.” One hand is still running across Mona’s back in slow strokes, and the other is holding his head up. 

 

Yuuki’s words net a small laugh out of the prince. “That they do. They’re good people.”

 

Mona settles his head on Yuuki’s knee, and he rests a hand on the cat’s head in return, muttering, “Goooood kitty, Mona.”

“Good kitty? More like spoiled brat cat.” Akira says with a smirk, and the annoyed yowl that Morgana replies with makes Yuuki’s eyes go wide.


They go on for quite a while, friendly banter interrupted every so often by Morgana looking for some extra attention.

 

Yuuki doesn’t leave until late evening. Morgana’s especially sad to see him go, but he’s going to drop by tomorrow anyways. 

 

Akira makes a mental note: keep Kawakami off of his back tomorrow. 

 

He takes a glance at the little clock again. Just past five. 

 

That’s right. Tonight’s the night. 

 

“Hey, Mona?” Akira takes a quick glance at his door as he strides across the room to his wardrobe. Morgana gives a meow of acknowledgement, and he asks, “Keep an eye out for me?”

 

Morgana doesn’t reply to him. He slowly pads over to the little table by the door, and he crouches to the floor before jumping all the way up. He settles on the table, sitting down and staring intently at the door, tail swishing back and forth.

 

“Thank you, Mona.” Akira says with a smile and an almost sing-song voice, and then he’s digging into his wardrobe until he finally gets a grip on his secret drawer. 

 

He pulls out three different things from the drawer: a pair of blood-red gloves, a deep black cloak, and his trusty knife.


Once he slides the drawer closed, he pops out of the wardrobe.

 

He’s folding and tucking the gloves away inside the cloak, and he begins to follow with his knife when he hears his door swing open. Morgana nearly plummets to the floor. 

 

Fast thinking allows him to chuck the knife to the other side of the bed, where it clatters just quiet enough to where the sound is hardly noticeable. 

 

Miss Kawakami enters the room with little warning, and she looks more annoyed, rather than completely angry. She’s suspiciously eyeing Akira, who’s seemingly been occupied with smoothing up his cloak until his head shoots up and turns to face her.

She raises a brow. “You’re going out. Again.”

“...yes? What of it?” Akira asks with a tilt of his head; however, no amount of his feigned innocence could faze her. 

 

“Akira, you were just out yesterday, and you came back extremely late” She exhales, reaching a hand up to rub at her temples. “You can’t just go off doing who knows what every day. We’ve talked about this.”

 

He felt like a child being scolded by his mother. 

 

“Miss, I took care of my responsibilities for today. And yesterday was an accident, you know I’m good at keeping track of time.” Akira was not, in fact, good at keeping track of time, but before yesterday his luck had kept him safe.

 

...helping Yusuke with his art was time consuming, as he’d come to figure out the hard way yesterday.

 

Kawakami crosses her arms, holding her elbows up with her hands. “Akira, just--now hold on, let me finish,” she says, cutting him off before he can but in, “I was just going to say, please stay in tomorrow if you’re really leaving today. Someone almost caught on yesterday, and Mishima just returned from his trip. Let things settle for a bit tomorrow, please?”

 

Akira’s expression deflates into dismay. He knows that she’s right. But she’s just not aware…

 

He starts rubbing a thumb and a finger against the edge of his sleeve, glancing at the ground for a second before looking her in the eyes. After a small pause, he says, “...Okay. Okay, I won’t go anywhere tomorrow.” 

 

Kawakami’s face fills with relief. “Thank you.” she says, and her smile lasts for a couple of seconds before a serious look overtakes her face.  

 

“Are you leaving soon?” She asks, and Akira nods. She takes a breath. “Okay. I’ll leave the balcony open for you, then. Try not to be home late this time.” He nods his head again, this time with more vigor.

 

“Good luck, with whatever you’re up to. And be careful.” 

 

She leaves the room, and Akira lets out a breath he wasn’t even aware he was holding. Morgana, who’d been frozen on the table for that whole exchange, finally twitched, and after a few seconds he was hopping off the little table.

 

Akira is standing still, and then he jolts into motion, flopping onto his bed and scooting forward so he can reach over the edge and grab the knife from the floor. 

 

He’s picking up the cloak, which had originally been dropped onto the bed, smoothing it out and throwing it over his shoulders. He adjusts it a bit, and once he’s satisfied, he’s hiding the knife away under it.

 

He turns his attention down to Mona.

 

“You coming?” He asks, the hint of a smirk growing on his face, and Mona makes a show of hopping onto the bed and curling up into a ball. “Absolutely not. You have fun out there!”

 

Akira shrugs. “Suit yourself!”

 

Mona watches as he exits the glass doors leading to the balcony before curling into himself tighter and shutting his eyes. He’s earned a good nap…

 

Akira finds the spare rope he keeps in the corner, and he’s tying it tight around one of the pillars holding the railing. Once he’s deemed it tight enough, he takes ahold of it, proceeding to swing his legs over the railing.

 

Down, down, down he goes, until his feet hit the ground with a gentle thud. He does his best to hide the rope; it isn’t too noticeable, but still… he’s hoping no one thinks to inspect the odd vine-looking object any closer. He’s been safe so far!

 

He takes a quick glance around to make sure no one is here to spot him, and then he’s sneaking and slipping around to the front entrance of the castle. The guards don’t even notice him slipping past the front gates. Success!

 

 


 

 

It only takes around an hour to reach Leblanc, which comes as quite a surprise to Akira. It usually takes him longer.

 

No matter. Akira pushes the door open, and the chime of the bell alerts the man behind the bar. He looks up from the glass he was occupied with cleaning, and when he sees Akira, the thin line his lips are pressed into curves up into a small smile.

 

“Hey kid.”

 

“Evening, boss.” Akira strolls over to the counter to take a seat while Sojiro is putting the glass away. 

 

Akira rests his arms on the counter, setting his chin down on them. “Futaba and Yusuke busy?”

 

“They’re in the back, doin’ somethin’. Got strict orders from her not to enter under any circumstances. Unless it’s an emergency.”

There’s a loud bang coming from the back room. Akira’s head shoots up. They’re both staring at each other with wide eyes.

 

Akira jolts up from his seat, but before he can move any farther, there’s an arm in front of his chest stopping him. Akira opens his mouth to speak, but shuts it right away; Sojiro’s shaking his head slowly, and he wordlessly slips back into his seat. He asks, “Has that been happening more often?”

 

Sojiro nods slowly. Akira purses his lips.

 

Futaba suddenly appears, half covered in ash and soot, seemingly very irritated, but with all that soot on her face, you couldn’t quite tell. 

 

“What did I tell you?! I specifically said, ‘Don’t do it Yusuke! It’s not gonna work!’ And you went ahead and did it anyways!” She’s shouting, Gripping at the goggles nestled on her head. Yusuke is walking into view just a few moments later, just as covered in soot and ash. 

 

“I simply wished to be sure! And we have now confirmed that it will not work in the future!” He shouts back, and he’s trying his best to rub some of the ash from his face with his sleeve. 

 

“Yeah, we’ve confirmed it! At the cost of two. Whole. Weeks! Two whole weeks worth of work and progress, Inari!” She throws her head into her gloved hands with a loud groan, shuffling over to take a seat on one of the barstools.

 

Yusuke sighed in defeat, shuffling over to sit right next to her.  

 

Sojiro and Akira are staring at them. The tavern is completely silent for a spell, until Sojiro breaks it when he clears his throat.

 

They’re all just staring at each other. Futaba blinks owlishly. “...hey Akira.” She says, another attempt to break the silence.

 

“You kids wanna get cleaned up before anythin’ else?” Sojiro breaks in, and Futaba looks down at her sooty state. She lets out a squeak, and she’s scurrying to the stairs leading to the second floor of the building. Yusuke looks down at his clothes.

 

Akira scoots down a few stools, and once he’s close enough, he’s gently patting Yusuke’s back.

 

Futaba bounds down the stairs a few minutes later in a fresh shirt and overalls. She hops down the last step, and she calls out, “Your turn, Inari!”

 

Yusuke stands up, and he reaches a dirty hand out to touch her as he passes by. She yelps, swatting his hand away and kicking at his shin.

 

Needless to say, he takes longer hobbling up and down the stairs. But he hobbles down in clean clothes. Futaba and Akira are simply chatting, and Sojiro’s leaning on the counter, listening intently.

 

He takes a seat next to Akira, and Futaba brings her knees up to kneel on the stool, slamming her palms on the counter.

 

“I’ve told you not to do th—”

 

“Alright! Now that the team’s all together, it’s time!” Futaba’s digging around in the pockets of her overalls, and she’s pulling out a rolled up scrap of paper. “Pay attention, big bro, I’m only gonna go through this one time today.” She says, and Akira nods, shifting so he has a better look at the paper once Yusuke’s unfurling it. The paper contains a complete scale drawing of a mansion, courtesy of Yusuke. 

 

“Ok, so we’ve got the whole of this manor mapped out. Most of the time, these guys don’t have too much security packed in. The same goes for Madarame here, but! The guards he does have are usually all packed up by the front gates,” Futaba’s pointing her finger around and moving it on the paper as she’s speaking, “and that’s a good thing, it’ll give you an easier time for you to sneak in through the back. The only trouble is those big walls he’s got set up around the place. Scaling those is gonna be your biggest issue. But, you get past those walls, sneak into the window riiiiiight,” she presses her finger to the bottom left corner of the sketch, “here, grab what we’re lookin’ for, and then come out the same way, and you’ll be set. Mission complete!”

 

She pumps a fist into the air as she shouts, but Sojiro cuts in. “Alright, but how’s he gonna get over those walls?”

 

“Hah! That’s where I come in!” She’s jumping off her seat and making a mad dash to the back room. The other three wait patiently for her to come back.

 

A crash, then a couple of bangs, then a "BBRRAAAHAAGHOUGHUUGH—", and another crash, and Futaba comes back out, only looking a bit worse for wear. She's got a contraption in her gloved hands, and when she props herself up on her barstool, she holds it out for Akira.

He’s reaching out for it right away, but he’s careful as he takes it into his hands.

 

“Hookshot.”

 

“...hookshot.” He repeats, twisting it around and inspecting it closely.

“That little trigger, on the bottom--yeah, that one--you press down on that, and that hook sitting on the top’s gonna propel into the air. Just aim it at the wall, shoot, and it’ll hook on. You’ll be able to scale them in no time! Oh, and it’s retractable. Wire can’t be cut easily either.” 

 

She’s pointing around the gun-shaped contraption as she explains how to work it properly, and he’s strapping it to his belt once she’s finished. 

 

“I’m gonna go get some stuff together upstairs. Come up when you’re ready! Let’s go, Inari!”

 

Yusuke sighs as he rises from his seat, and he’s following her back up the stairs. Akira turns his attention back to Sojiro, who’s got one hand resting on his hip while the other is scratching the back of his neck.

 

His eyes are shut, and when he opens them again, he’s giving Akira a very stern look. That look doesn’t faze him quite as much anymore, but it still has him fidgeting with the hem of his cloak.

 

“...boss?”

 

“Be careful out there, alright?” The frown on his face is one born of worry. He has every right to worry. 

 

Akira offers him a nod, and Sojiro can see that glint in his eyes. His fears are assuaged, if only a bit. He knows the kid’ll be ok.

 

“I’ll be fine, boss. No worries.”

 

And with that, Akira swiftly turns to the stairs; he hardly makes a sound as he’s climbing them.

 

“...Hey! Don’t damage the roof again!” Sojiro shouts, but he received no reply. He lets his eyes slip shut for a moment, and he sighs as they open up again. 




Akira reaches the top of the stairs, and he immediately catches sight of Futaba near the window. She’s fidgeting with some sort of box. Yusuke’s nowhere to be seen, which means he’s probably waiting patiently on the roof.

 

Futaba finally breaks out of her intense focus and spots Akira, and she’s waving him over enthusiastically. He takes a seat on the edge of the windowsill, and he tilts his head when she opens the box. These are new, he thinks. 

 

The box holds a pair of chips that resemble some type of crystal. Futaba gingerly takes one from the box, handing it to him. He takes it from her carefully as she speaks. “I call them comm chips. Like communication! Just snap that on your ear, and we can stay in touch. If anythin’ goes awry, I can send Yusuke in a flash.”

 

Akira examines the little crystal before clipping it to his earlobe, and he asks, “These are neat, but how’d you find them?”

“Ann brought them when she came to visit a while back. She found them on one of her work trips! Oh, and before you ask if they actually work, I can confirm that they do. I used them once to make sure Inari bought food instead of more paint at the market.”

 

Akira chuckles, and once she’s clipped the other chip to her ear, she gives him a thumbs up. However, she quickly lowers her hand when she realizes that something is missing… 

 

“Oh, right! One sec.”

 

She dashes to the corner of the room, beginning to rummage through another box, and Akira takes the time to pull his gloves from his cloak and slip them on; the fabric is smooth and soft between his fingers, and he rubs a thumb against his other hand.

 

“Hey, catch!” Futaba calls out, and Akira only has a second to process what’s happening before she throws his mask straight at him, and his hands quickly dart out to catch it. He slips his glasses off, replacing them with the mask, and Futaba’s shuffling her way back to him.

 

He strikes a dramatic pose, head turned to the side as his hand cups his chin. “How do I look?”

 

“Like a clown.” Futaba deadpans, and Akira nearly falls over. He’s hunched over as he clutches at his chest, and he wheezes out a low “Tha-nks..”

 

Futaba’s cackling as she slinks up behind him, and then she’s shoving him towards the window with all the force her little body can muster. “C’mon, no time for sulking, you big clown! You gotta go!”

 

He lets himself get shoved to the window, taking a moment to fold and stow his glasses away in his cloak. 

 

“Ready?” Futaba asks. Akira doesn’t give a reply. Not verbally. He hops up on the windowsill, turning his head back and seeing her raising both her thumbs up. “Good luck. You’ve got this.” She says, and he gives a smirk before he disappears, making his quick climb to the roof.

 

 


 

 

Yusuke is indeed waiting on the roof, keeping as a lookout. His trusted katana sits poised on his hip, hand resting on the hilt. When he finally takes notice of the new presence joining him, Akira spots the slightest trace of a smile on his face.

 

“Are you sure you’ll be alright on your own today?” Yusuke asks, and it looks like he’s going to say more, but he stops himself when Akira shakes his head. 

 

“I’m fine, Yusuke. Besides, on the off chance that something does happen? You know Futaba would send you over in a flash.” 

 

Though he looks displeased, Yusuke doesn’t object. “If you say so,” he replies, “then we await your return, Phantom Thief.”

 

Akira can’t help but smirk. No words are exchanged, but Yusuke understands completely, and he silently watches as the Phantom Thief leaps gracefully from their rooftop to the next one. On, and on, till he’s nothing more than a spec in the distance. 



 

 

It’s not easy to miss the sight of the large manor, sitting right on the border between the commons and the nobles’ quarter. Though strangely enough, it looked as drab as most of the other smaller buildings surrounding it. 

 

Akira hears a voice pick up in his ear. 

 

“How’s it goin’?” Futaba asks. Akira scans what he can see. There’s a large group of foot soldiers at the front gate. “You were right. The front’s all choked up.”

 

“Now, why wouldn’t I be right? Anyways, you see any way to sneak around back?”

 

“The walls can keep me cover, no worries. I’m going in.” Akira’s instantly moving, sliding down the side of the building he’d been taking residence upon till that moment. Once he hits the ground, he’s taking another glance around to make sure it’s safe, and then he darts to the safety of the shadows the manor’s walls cast. He reaches the back wall, unbuckling the hookshot from his belt.

 

“Hookshot time.”

 

Akira pulls the trigger, and the hook whizzes up the height of the wall, crashing right on top. Perfect. He tugs at the wire to make sure it’s secure, and then he’s scaling it up in mere seconds. He reaches the top, and the hook immediately retracts back into the rest of the contraption. “This thing works wonders, Taba.” He comments, taking a moment to twist it around and admire it.

 

“I know, right? Anyways, what’s it lookin’ like.”

 

It’s looking like the back of this manor is heavily lacking in security. He catches sight of the balcony Futaba marked on the map. “I see the entry point.”

 

“Perfect. Is your escape route secure?”

 

He turns around to scan the area. There’s a house just close enough for the hookshot to reach if he aims it correctly. Well, he’s just gotta hope for the best.

 

“Escape route just secured. I’m heading to entry point.” He’s getting the hookshot prepared to fire again, a small “Good luck!” echoing in his ear. The sound of the hookshot is the next thing to echo in them, the force of it propelling him forward until he’s landing right on the edge of the balcony, only stumbling a tad. The hookshot retracts, and he straps it back to his belt.

 

 The checks the window, which is locked. His lockpick comes in handy, and he’s slipping into the manor with ease.

 

He enters, and he instantly regrets it. The outside was quite plain in appearance, but inside...the inside of this manor simply became gaudier and gaudier the farther he trekked. 

 

“I’m inside. This guy’s secretly a big showoff, it seems.” He presses a finger to the chip on his ear as he mutters.

 

“Just about what I expected. Madarame’s pretty much a fraud like that. Shows off as humble, secretly steals from his own pupils and profits off others. It’s gross…” Futaba goes silent on her end, and it makes Akira a bit anxious as he treks on in the shadows, but then her voice is picking up again, albeit much quieter than before. “...just remember what you’re there for today. Yusuke said it should be in a room closed off by two cherry wood doors. Big doors. Can’t miss ‘em.”

 

Yusuke…

 

Akira remembers well his recounts of the horrible treatment Madarame’s pupils had gone through under his care. He himself…

 

He shook his head. Focus.

 

Futaba’s right once again. Straight at the end of the hall, two large door, dark colored wood. He peeks around the corner, and there’s only one guard who’s already disappearing to another hallway. Coast clear. He slinks up to the door, which is locked. There goes another lockpick.

 

He slips inside, and it’s worse than he imagined. The room is chock full of artwork, most of it things he’d supposedly sold already. Stolen. One in particular catches Akira’s eyes.

 

He steps forward, taking the painting off the wall with utmost care. He hadn’t thought to bring something to cover it beforehand...ah, well. He’d just have to be extra careful getting home.

 

He tucks the painting securely under one arm. He’s about to leave the room when he takes a glance back at the rest of the art. He’ll have to work something out with the others after this, figure out a way to return all this art…

 

He’ll have to worry about that later. For now, he worries the chip on his ear with his free hand. “The treasure has been secured. I’m coming back out.”

 

Futaba’s reply is almost instantaneous. “Remember to watch your back.”

 

 

Akira peeks out the doors, and no one is around; he slips out the room quietly, shutting the doors behind him. It’s then when he catches the sound of footsteps approaching from around the corner of the other hallway. That’s when he makes his decision: make a beeline for the balcony.

 

There are voices growing louder as he runs, until he hears shouts of, “It’s him!” and “Don’t let him get away!” catching up to him. He thinks that this hallway is much longer than he originally thought it to be.

 

He finally exits the window to the balcony, but when he turns his head as he’s readying the hookshot, he spots a growing number of guards approaching him. “Stop!” one of them yells, their voice muffled by the window.

 

Akira smirks, hopping onto the balcony’s railing. He’s giving the guards a quick two-fingered salute before he’s being dragged back to the wall with the hookshot. When he lands, he takes a moment to readjust his grip on the painting. Readying the hookshot one last time, he finds the house closest to the manor; as he’s aiming, he’s secretly praying to whatever’s out there that he doesn’t miss the shot. Falling straight towards the ground at this height is not an appealing idea.

 

Thankfully, the hook lands just right, and he reaches the house’s roof with no issues. He can hear the clamor from the manor. More and more guards are pouring out the front gates to search for the Phantom Thief. 

 

That’s his cue to not stick around any longer. “Everything went smooth. I’m on my way back.” He says. Futaba tells him, “Be careful on your way back.”

 

 

 


 

 

Leaping from rooftop to rooftop as a means of travel was surprisingly efficient, but extremely tiring. Akira’s breathing was hard and heavy by the time he reached LeBlanc, and Yusuke had to help him back down into the room. They find Futaba sitting cross-legged on the floor, messing with a pile of papers scattered around her. She glances up, and she jolts up from the floor, hopping over her papers to reach the pair and help.

 

Akira's set down on the spare bed, and he discards his mask somewhere as he flops down onto it face first. Of course, not before setting the precious Sayuri right into Yusuke's hands.

 

Futaba peeks over Yusuke's shoulder to get a closer look at the painting; she realizes that Yusuke's hands are trembling, struggling to hold the painting up properly.

 

She pats his back a few times. He looks up from the painting, but he stops himself from speaking when he hears a snore. And another. Akira's fast asleep, snoring gently into the mattress. Futaba giggles, reaching over Yusuke's shoulders to pat Akira's head. "We'll just hafta wake him up early tomorrow." She remarks, and Yusuke hums in agreement.