Real Treasures Returned
a Persona 5 fanfiction by The Overlord Bear
Summary: The Phantom Thieves of Hearts have a habit of returning the stolen Palace Treasure to its owner in reality.
WARNING: ALL-OUT SPOILERS AND CRAZY CANON DEVIATION AHEAD!
Suguru Kamoshida was certain that he had not ordered a counterfeit of his treasured Olympic Gold Medal (and why would it not be a counterfeit, when it even came with a note that went “By the way, our leader forced us to give this back to you, bastard – The Phantom Thieves of Hearts”?), but he had a feeling that he had forgotten about the real thing when the probably poisoned fake made him vomit.
It was strange how he could even remember how wimpy he sounded before that happened, too. Killing himself to atone for his sins? He could imagine ‘fessing up, which was already wimpy enough no matter how cool he tried to make it look, but not to the point that he would drive a blade into his gut. Maybe Sakamoto and the transfer’s red cards were laced with some slow-acting airborne poison similar to the one on the fake medal. And at least Kobayakawa hadn’t gotten him in the slammer yet.
Now, if only he weren’t feeling too sick to even go for those losers’ asses. His stomach just had to outdo Yoshizawa whenever his dick got hard. He still hadn’t cleaned up his lunch off the carpet, too.
At the very least, Kawakami wasn’t making fun of him. Sure, she glared at him as she wore those charming pigtails and worked in that skimpy French maid outfit he saw right through long ago, and it all would’ve been fun to watch. But bring in the aforementioned problems involving his body, and Suguru might as well be the biggest loser in all of this. His muscles also felt like they tagged along with his wasted meals, and damn him if he admitted that here and now.
The great Suguru Kamoshida wasn’t going to let some nausea get to him!
And then Kawakami bent over. She even gave him a smirk over her shoulder.
“AH, FUCK, GET ME TO THE ER ALREADY, KAWAKAMI! MY DICK’S KILLING MY STOMACH!”
He was pretty sure that he was gonna regret this later on, but at least it would get him back into action more quickly. He just had to keep all these issues under wraps…and then he groaned when he remembered Kawakami’s fun news about how that bitch Takamaki, that slut Suzui, and that wimp Mishima had been hanging around Sakamoto and the transfer even more closely lately.
“I could leave you be or ask you to pay me some more, but be thankful that I’m not that heartless, Kamoshida.”
Well, at least Kawakami thought of him as human somewhat.
Ichiryuusai Madarame’s eyes felt like they were going to burst out of their sockets whenever he tried to look at what had just been delivered to him.
Counterfeits were nothing new to him, for he once had lavish living off of them. But even though he knew that what had just been delivered to him was certainly not the original “Sayuri” despite the removed purple cloud, it was a contender with the real one in terms of not only emotional but also physical impact. Even a little peek at it made him feel like his eyes were being gouged out, and those who saw him look at it laughed it all off. Those people, Shido’s associates, could even look at the painting and call it beautiful! It was a strange picture of honesty, fellow evil men and women being so willing to stay and grow ugly yet remaining so capable of being inspired by and towards beauty.
But he hadn’t yet read the note that came with the copy. It didn’t take too long for him to realize who its writer was:
As much as it pains me to say this, I still struggle with letting go of the times we had with each other. Cruel you may have been, but you were the closest person to a father – to a parent – that I have ever had in my life. I am still disgusted by what you did to my mother, the true creator of the greatest inspiration of our lives, but I also find it hard to mourn for someone I know so little about, and I like to believe that you possessed some glimmer of virtue within the dark pit that is your soul when you cared for me. I feared that such feelings would alienate me from my new friends, but I am eternally grateful that they understood and even supported me regarding this matter.
Now, I hope you would be greatly inspired by this duplicate of what we consider the most beautiful piece of art that we have ever seen, Sensei.
Tears came out of Ichiryuusai’s eyes, but they were not threatening to explode like they did when he made that strange confession or whenever he tried to look at that “Sayuri” copy. The tears were gentle creeks more than raging rivers, and they made his heart ache more than they did his eyes.
After so many years of wallowing in self-loathing over his lack of artistic skills to match his old fervor and the audience’s fickle wants, he found inspiration in the rotten pits. In hindsight, it seemed so obvious a worthwhile pursuit, especially with how images of decadence and controversy made more glory and profit than people thought recently, and it was quite an embarrassing thing to admit. What was the point of all that envy and vanity he had, then? What was the point of all the torture and all the suffering he had caused?
“Hah, look at Madarame, he looks like he’s found a new kid to rip off!”
Perhaps he could truly start over by painting something based on this ugly scene he had made with Shido’s associates?
“If ugliness rules the world today, then I certainly have a lot to gain…” Ichiryuusai whispered to himself with a smaller smile.
And then he laughed at the irony to be found in Yusuke being a thief, difference in acceptability be damned.
“Hey, Boss, those Phantom Thieves sent us this briefcase. They had a note with it, saying it was yours and that they wouldn’t deny how broke and shit you were back then, even though they still think you’re shit today. Not the shit, but just plain shit.”
Suddenly, Junya Kaneshiro felt like he should be getting a lot more special treatment than this. He even wondered why he kept on refusing those cops’ help and went on and on about atonement like some broken record. Looking back further, it was like being the guys and gals he tortured everyday. If that was what the public called a change of heart caused by the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, then he was pretty sure that the whole world was doomed. Such victims made more victims, after all.
But when he read the note and opened the golden briefcase with fake money, he was both curious and awestruck. Not only had those Thieves made such an exact copy of the well-kept memento of his earlier criminal years with real gold, they even got his face right! For people who claimed to be against him and were backed by insane idiots, they certainly knew how to touch and even melt a hardened criminal’s heart! And even if they didn’t intend to impress him like this, he still had the last laugh!
“Uh, Boss…it’s just the wall behind you?”
Though for some reason, he felt twitchy. He was sure that those kids he threatened some time ago weren’t god-like, but a feeling of being watched bugged his psyche, pricklier than the usual paranoia to be found in a criminal. Junya wasn’t going to belittle it, not when he had outlived so many idiots who died by doing that in the rat race.
“Hey, get me more info about those Phantom Thieves! We’re gonna help them out!”
“W-What!? But – ”
“DO IT, YOU DUMBASS! I’LL EVEN GIVE YOU A RAISE, OR I’LL KILL YOU ALL!”
He needed to be close to those Thieves for now. He wasn’t sure how they did it, but they were probably as dangerous as that black-masked hitman he had been hearing about, and he didn’t want to be on the wrong end of an attack if he ever found out the truth.
Now, if only he weren’t so fat…
Kunikazu Okumura thought that he had forgotten that toy spaceship completely, but he only realized that when Haru suddenly went to him holding something so exactly like it. He still knew that he could try to treat it as something useless, but the outstretched emptiness within him suddenly being filled by something so small yet so precious left him in a daze and then his instincts. Childish or childlike, he didn’t know, but…
Everything hurt. Not to the point that he fell down, but while his heart felt warmed and softened, his insides also felt like they were creaking and cracking. As he cried quietly, tightly hugging his supernatural thief of a precious daughter he almost sold off in cynicism to a fellow despicable man, Kunikazu even felt like he would split in two…and then he heard a voice.
“The firing squad awaits.”
It was quite a foggy sound, and it sounded like his voice. He could’ve asked Haru about it, but he let his daughter drag him along to meals and outings with her and her new friends. It was quite awkward to discuss when they all seemed to take so much joy in their ordinary living.
That was how Kunikazu spent time before he called for a press conference to do his public confession. And then things got weird…
They were trying to get away from some hitman – likely Black Mask – after he mentioned Shido’s name. Kunikazu felt his chest seize and burn up as the youths who accompanied him brought him into the strange world they went into to change the hearts of people like him.
The pain didn’t stop when they entered. As they ran outside the Okumura Foods HQ, Kunikazu fell and screamed, his head searing along with his chest. As the shouts of his companions became muddied, his eyes leaked something thicker and hotter than tears and crusted around them.
When the pain stopped, he turned around to face the children.
In order, those were Haru, the blonde Sakamoto boy, and a bobble-headed cat that was probably the one they called Morgana. They were pieces of a shocked collective that saw some strange thing that he didn’t.
Perhaps it was the crusting around his eyes? His hands found that it was shaped like a mask, edges sticking out for his fingers to slip behind.
“YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD!”
And then there was a shout. Everyone turned to find a certain masked individual in black. Until now, Kunikazu had only heard about the hitman he hired through Shido to take down rivals.
“No matter,” Black Mask continued, taking out a gun and summoning a sword-toting being in dazzle camouflage, “I’LL KILL YOU ALL HERE AND NOW!”
Kunikazu’s youthful companions walled in front of him, wearing clothes that helped them fit the moniker “Phantom Thieves.” As they defended him, the strange voice in his head called again, making his body seize and burn so strongly like never before.
“The firing squad awaits. Who do you wish to be, then?”
“A good man,” Kunikazu growled to himself, “A better man. A truly better man. If such a thing is a child’s ideal…then I still get what I wished for all my life!”
The Phantom Thieves turned to look back at him. Black Mask took the chance to get some critical shots at them.
The voice within Kunikazu laughed.
“Then show them your secret selves! Show them that their wildest dreams will never outmatch your own! I am thou, thou art I!”
With a great cry, Kunikazu tore his mask off. Fire consumed him as he found freedom. The earth shook as he stood his ground. A name to shout came to mind as he faced his fellow vile and dishonorable creature:
And then the hatted man wearing a stylized three-piece suit blinked. Everyone else seemed to do the same, and then Black Mask was driven into the ground by a blazing silver blur with golden streaks.
That silver blur with golden streaks came to be known as “Judge,” her real identity being Sae Niijima, Makoto Niijima’s older sister, while the beaten Black Mask came to be known as “Crow,” his real identity being Goro Akechi, Masayoshi Shido’s bastard son. How fortunate that the prosecutor assigned to the Phantom Thieves case had been lucky enough to have a younger sister helping her in becoming a good Phantom Thief early on, then. The prosecutor was also antsy enough to personally stalk the so-called “Second Coming of the Detective Prince” on the day of the press conference, even deciding to become the Akechi boy’s legal guardian later on as part of their atonement.
Though for now, “Don” had to hide, for Shido was still prowling about.
When Masayoshi Shido received a strange duplicate of his legislator’s lapel pin while waiting for the inevitable in his penthouse, he also found a note from a certain someone:
You are my father. Only biological, though. Wishing for your approval is pointless. I’ve had enough of trying to outdo my mother in the dramatic suicidal idiot department. I’ll still have you eat shit in court, though, which, hopefully, will be the last time I’ll ever give you any attention.
But enough about that. See that duplicate you received? This is the second phase of the Phantom Thieves’ attacks on people like you. Even I myself find it unbelievable, but I’ll put all of my faith in those fools I now call my friends, just like how they’re putting all of their faith in scum like you and me.
So remember the weight of your crimes and repent as you live on, Masayoshi Shido.
If you want to get back into politics, get help from Toranosuke Yoshida.
But before Masayoshi could read the note, the sight of the duplicate pin had him falling over in dizziness. He had blacked out for a while, and then he woke up seeing Akechi in that Black Mask outfit the traitorous brat once showed off to him. The thing stood still, but it accompanied a sense of dread that turned his short temper against him. Ironically, in one particular aspect, he would be much like the country he had tried to have total control over: He would experience a lot of sudden quakes everyday.
This definitely wasn’t in Isshiki’s research.
Reading the note, Goro Akechi being his traitorous bastard wasn’t news to Masayoshi. What was news to him was the faith the brats had in him. They had already outed him, he spilled as much rotten guts as he could in public, but they still dared to let him live? It pissed him off, because living life as a humiliated criminal would be worse than death, but what pissed him off even more was how the image of his bastard would get in the way of his suicide plots!
Of course, others would notice. But he was too proud to admit it to just anyone. He had already shamed himself in public, and he would rather be a public dick than a public pussy at this point. Besides, he had been observing political affairs outside his country, and he found that even the most obviously flagrant idiots in power could still stay in power, all because everybody wanted attention no matter the cost. He’d stay alive to show how the masses were all rotten, then. And if he himself were rotten, then they were getting what they wanted. Whether he was dead or alive wouldn’t even matter as long as he had their attention for him to shove his point down their choking throats. If they complained, then of course they would. They were idiots led by idiots!
Why was he even wondering about this? He had nothing left to lose!
“Hello, Mr. Shido? This is Toranosuke Yoshida.”
And then the old manchild had to knock on his door. And that bastard kid had to be a hallucination again.
“What the fuck do you want?”
So if Yoshida were a lesser evil, then Masayoshi would take that. It would certainly be better than looking like a lonely weakling…and everybody loves buddy cops, right?
Christmas had come and gone, and New Year was on its way. Tokyo was bustling, countdowns and resolutions being discussed, though they weren’t the only hot topics at the moment.
“So that Shido guy’s sucking up to Tora now?”
“Looks like the Phantom Thieves struck again!”
“But wasn’t Shido with Tora in that Season’s Greetings video yesterday?”
“Bah, Tora’s got it! Shido’s gotta learn from the guy who really changed for the better!”
“Still doesn’t make the rude jerk any more appealing, though…”
“I can’t believe that my beautiful Detective Prince is the son of such a dick!”
Other hot topics included Suguru Kamoshida’s scary prison volleyball team, Ichiryuusai Madarame’s gleefully morbid painting, yakuza threatening other yakuza into imprisonment, and Kunikazu Okumura trying too hard to be hip with the kids.
“Good day, everyone.”
Suddenly, a distorted voice sounded through the city. All the screens became a glowing red, and then a familiar flaming top hat appeared. As the citizens broke into relative whispers, the announcement continued.
“We are the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. But unlike last time, this is only the leader, Joker, speaking.
“I would like to announce our impending disbandment. Along with that is a confession that my friends let me make by myself, thankfully.
“The confession? We actually have a habit of returning what we stole to their owners.
“I had insisted on that since the beginning, much to my friends’ dismay. I did understand where they were coming from, and I don’t think words can even describe how personal the targets were to us. We reacted just like how ordinary people would have, even when we found ourselves with the power to retaliate.
“As for what caused that insistence of mine, it was when I saw what happened to our very first target after we stole from him. With all my honesty, I found it quite a painful reminder of how I gained my own spirit of rebellion. Sure, that target was no man trying to do any actual greater good, being a rapist abusing his authority, but what should have given me a spike of pleasure also gave me a lot discomfort, especially when he declared the desire to kill himself. We wanted him to suffer alive, but I also hated seeing a puppet. That sight made me think of my own rebellion as a miracle I never made all by myself.
“When my friends and I met up again after that, I then pushed for the return of his heart. Of course, my friends felt betrayed. What if he remembered what we did? What if he could strike back? It was a blind move based on my crazy conscience, but I would’ve felt way more insane if I hadn’t put my foot down. I mean, as much as I wish I couldn’t, I can be just as bad as or even worse than that man. The same goes for my friends as well. And all you too. I think I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to remind the gang about how we were being arrogant every time we hesitated about returning the stolen goods and not selling them off or something, though we did argue a bit less after a certain heist, where we just had to save our target, who directly called us, from suicidal depression.
“Still, it all feels like a miracle, as much as I tried to think that I’ve seen it all coming. Same goes for the inspiring bonds we helped form. And the same even goes for my friends’ realization about what I meant after we stole your collective heart. And yes, we’re giving you your heart back. We’re not going to give much explanation about it, but…”
The video suddenly cut to a picture of a jeweled golden chalice standing all by itself.
“It’s actually a cheap imitation. Fortunately, the real one’s closer than we think. Good day again, everyone. And goodbye. Don’t give us all that work again, okay?”
And then the screens cut to black. The people displayed an unnerving silence as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts did the same. The criss-cross of the crowd’s conversations did come back, but…
“What the heck were they talking about?”
“I think I got a headache from that…”
“Me too…and I think my breakfast wants to go to outer space…”
“Does anybody remember some creepy shit going on during Christmas?”
“You mean the whole blood rain and bone towers thing?”
“Did we just survive the apocalypse? Are we living in a simulation? What the hell’s going on!?”
“Agh, I’m too hungry for this right now! Somebody feed me!”
Meanwhile, a bespectacled man with brown hair and a white coat walked away from the crowd.
“How could they do this…?”
When I saw him and his friends again after our big fight, he was going through a send-off at the train station. I stopped my drive to tell them about how I was ready to face life head-on and all.
And then he gave me that newsletter.
So this is how it feels to have one’s stolen Treasure returned in the real world? I forgot that Rumi’s parents were already dead until I got it back. I’ll have to apologize for the racket I made in the hospital the other day, then.
Anyway, I didn’t try to kill the Thieves or anything. I just cried. It was a bit embarrassing, to be honest…and it was also nice to be the center of a group hug. Considering the circumstances, I guess I’m an honorary Phantom Thief now, then?
Even though his friends looked agitated, he didn’t look offended as I called him by his Phantom Thief codename. That gave me more confidence.
“Sorry,” I said. “And thanks.”
He smiled back.
“You’re welcome,” he also said. “And you’re forgiven. Don’t give us all that damn work again, though!”
I laughed hard as I kept those words in mind.
“Will do!” I answered.
And then he left for the platform. His friends made quite a noisy goodbye, I went back to my drive, and then at the end of the day, we crossed paths for them to drag me along to ramen and coffee and curry and more.
“Perhaps I should be a counselor for prisoners next time…” I thought out loud with a smile.
“Then why not have us for practice first, Sensei?”
And then I cried again, though I was still smiling.
Author’s Note: If you think this is awesome, then what more if I actually played the game?
Also, sending special thanks to Kazero for that one moment that inspired this fanfiction.
Oh, and one more thing: Merry Christmas, fellow filthy animals.