David Bowie Day Challenge: Write fanfiction and pick 3 pieces of lyrics from songs of your choice that must be taken literally and incorporated into the story.
This fanfic is set after the true ending of the game Persona 5 Royal and as such contains major spoilers. You have been warned.
The lyrics I picked are “I try to tell myself/That everything will be okay” from Shadow and the Stain by From The Ash, “For the fates are devious by heart” from Heal My Wounds by Poets of the Fall and “This is how you remind me of what I really am” from How You Remind Me by Nickelback.
“I will carve my own path for myself. I refuse to accept a reality concocted by someone else, stuck under their control for the rest of my days.”
“I’m done being manipulated.”
“Let’s go back… to our true reality.”
“We have to win this — no matter what.”
Akira envied Akechi’s unyielding perseverance so much that he thought he might choke on his envy.
“Akira? Hey, Akira!”
Akira startles and looks up to the cat on his bed.
“You’re staring at Akechi’s glove again.” Morgana fails to hide the unease from his voice. “Are you okay?”
Akira sighs. “I wonder if Akechi is okay.”
“You know he…” Morgana pauses. “He will come for that duel you promised someday. I’m sure of it. I bet he has your phone number memorized so he can call you even if he loses his phone. He’ll find you when he’s ready.”
“Don’t tell me you think dangling my life before us is going to have any impact on our decision.”
“So, you knew…”
“Well, I lacked conclusive evidence… But after I fought against you all, I had a gap in my memory that ended with meeting up with Akira again. There were also the cases of Wakaba Isshiki and President Okumura… Of course I’d find all of that suspicious.”
“Yeah… He’ll turn up someday…”
Akira tries to tell himself that everything, including Akechi, will be okay.
If only he believed it too.
The next autumn, a faded Missing person poster with a familiar face smiling on it sucker-punches him. Right there and then, he decides that enough is enough. He needs to try to find information.
He looks up Goro Akechi and finds nothing. The man is still missing.
“Let’s make a deal, okay? You won’t say no, will you?”
“Change Shido’s heart… in my stead… End his crimes… Please!”
Disbelief settled in Akira’s stomach. This could not end like this. “You better deliver your promise.”
A small gasp. “Heh… After all this, that’s what you have to say? Seriously, you really are…”
Akechi never finished that sentence, Akira realizes once again. He never found out what he wanted to say to him then.
“So, my final enemy is a puppet version of myself… I…!”
“Isn’t there some way to get this open, Mona?”
Two gunshots rang on the other side of the wall.
“His signal is… gone… I’m only getting… the weaklings…”
The disbelief hardened into a lump that replaced Akira’s stomach.
“Come on, you guys! We can’t let a rotten criminal like Shido do what he wants any longer! We can’t… no matter what!”
When Akira regains his awareness of his surroundings, he is leaning against the wall next to the bulletin board, clutching the black glove to his chest and tears streaming down his cheeks.
Morgana says that Akechi is just still hiding and preparing for the duel. Akira only barely acknowledges the words, more focused on regaining the peace he had made with the likely scenario that Akechi was dead.
He has half a mind to call Maruki to discuss grief, but he decides against it. That would probably make things even worse by twisting the knife apparently still sticking out of the wound, what with the events of the false reality.
Perhaps Akira had managed to change Akechi’s fate, yet their fates had still been devious by heart.
The winter rolls around. Akira still holds onto the glove, the only thing that remains of the one friend he could not save.
“I wonder why we couldn’t have met a few years earlier, Akira…”
To his surprise, Akira finds himself at a clothing store, staring at a selection of gloves.
“Are your hands cold?” Morgana leans over his shoulder. “Wearing gloves did do you all good in the Metaverse. They could be good in the real world, too.”
Akechi wore gloves in the winter is what Akira does not say aloud.
“But… it’s no use talking in hypotheticals. That didn’t happen in reality…”
The mere idea of wearing gloves, no matter how unlike the one in his pocket, stings with grief even after all these months. Yet…
…yet it would be a nice way to commemorate his friend, the only one who challenged him enough to be called his rival.
The only one he could not save no matter how much he wanted to.
Akira wanted to scream. He wanted to cry. He wanted to call for Akechi with hopes that he would answer.
He wanted to tear down this stupid fucking wall that separated them, but the red glove pressed against it could not do anything.
That day, he learned to hate the maroon of that wall with a burning passion.
A pair of red gloves catches Akira’s attention and before he realizes it, he is inspecting them.
“Ooh, red like in your Metaverse outfit. Those would look good on you,” Morgana comments.
Akira hums in response. Somewhere deep inside, an itch forms. If he wore gloves, once they would have had the promised duel he could challenge Akechi to a duel the same way he challenged him last year in Tokyo. It would be funny, turning the table on him.
A chuckle escapes Akira’s chest when he imagines the look of shock on Akechi’s face after he has had a red glove thrown at him.
Yes, this is the pair he wants. This pair will commemorate the year spent in Tokyo, the friendships made and the rivalry that, in the end, saved them both from being manipulated by Maruki’s distorted sorrow.
This pair will always remind him of what he really is.
When he exits the store wearing his new gloves, Akira feels a new flavor of confidence bubble in his heart. Perhaps one of these days Akechi will show up at his door and request to have the duel right there and then. If not, that will be fine too. He will keep his memory alive.
They can always have the duel in the afterlife, after all.