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“Seems that we can continue on at this rate,” Ren finished checking up on each team member, trying to judge where they stood in terms of energy and stamina. Akechi had tried his best to seem slightly fatigued, in order to not raise suspicion. However, his years of training had served him well, keeping him full of vigour. He would have definitely been able to clear this palace in one day all on his own, without teammates to hold him back. The Phantom Thieves had taken three days so far, with this one expected to be the last one before the calling card is sent.

“All right, leader.” Makoto replied, standing up from her seat besides Akechi, “Let’s carry on.”

Akechi had to restrain himself from gritting his teeth. The whole ‘leader’ thing was the one thing he could not stand; why was someone who was so weak in charge of this team? If only they knew Akechi’s power, they would be calling him leader.

Well, if he was honest with himself, that wasn’t the only reason he was angry.

He hated the fact that Makoto held Ren in that high of a regard as well.

Akechi secretly wished that Makoto would value him as much as she valued Ren. During his time knowing her, Akechi had developed a crush on her. It was simple at first, he had admired the way she always challenged him, the way she was unyielding to defeat in his name. Over time he found himself daydreaming about her when work was slow, thinking especially about her stunning red eyes. Eventually his heart yearned to claim her as his, not only in conquest, but with her reciprocation. He never felt love so he couldn’t judge if whether or not this was love, but he wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what his feelings have developed into.

How weak of him.

He liked to think he was smart enough to control his emotions around her, not allowing any drip of truth into his conversations with her lest she deduce his true feelings for her, going as far as to insult her at times to keep the façade. However, sometimes his mouth spoke before his head could think. “Niijima-san?” Akechi said, as the rest of the group filed out of the safe room. “Your power is absolutely stunning.” His heart had spoken first, forcing his mind to backtrack in defense, “Perhaps I was wrong about assuming you were all brains and no brawn.”

“We may be in a safe room, but I won’t hesitate to show you my true extent, Akechi-kun.” Makoto’s face was turning a light red. She balled her hand into a fist and for a moment Akechi thought his teasing might have pushed her over the edge.

However, Akechi smirked, enjoying her extreme reaction, “I’m only teasing.” His tongue stopped short of saying what he secretly wished he could say: ‘We’d make a great team together.’

Because they would never be. They were fated to become enemies, nothing more, nothing less.

Makoto must have seen his expression grow darker because her expression softened as she put her hand on his shoulder, “I appreciate your comment.” Giving Akechi a small smile, she gestured to the door, “We should go before we lose them.”

“Of course.”

The pair had just left the safe room when the group came rushing up to them. Ren looked at them, confused, and asked, “What were you guys doing? We were about to step into the House of Darkness before we realized you two were missing.”

“H-house of darkness?” Makoto’s eyes widened, leaving Akechi to answer.

“We were discussing a new strategy.”

Ren looked annoyed, “Show us next battle then,” He turned, his black coat tails fluttering as he walked. “Let’s go.”

The group proceeded to the House of Darkness where a shadow explained the rules to them. If they succeed in clearing the level, they would get 10,000 chips and be able to head to the next area. The team expressed their determination to get through this maze, but Akechi noticed Makoto was awfully quiet.

Ren pushed the lavish door open and peered inside. “It’s pretty dark.”

The rest of the group agreed. They slowly went into the house, desperately trying to focus on anything in the pitch black.

“That bastard lied to us!” Akechi heard Ryuji exclaim somewhere on his left, “He seriously undersold the darkness.”

Directly beside him, Akechi heard a small whimper.

“Don’t worry, I can see through this.” Ren said, sounding confident, “Try to follow my steps.”

The group proceeded with ease as Ren led them slowly but surely. The clack of his boots was really grating to Akechi, however. This was just another one of Ren’s amazing abilities that he didn’t deserve. Akechi deserved this more.

Just as they rounded one more corner, Akechi felt someone bump into him. It wasn’t out of the ordinary, as they were in complete darkness. As he was about to apologize, he heard another whimper. Suddenly, a pair of arms were wrapped around his right leg.

The group was already too far ahead to be called out to.

Leaning forward, Akechi reached out to feel who was clinging desperately to his leg. His hand felt soft and short locks of hair, smooth to the touch. “Niiji-Queen?”

Her response was yet another whimper.

Akechi sank down to her level, unwrapping her arms from him as he sat himself on the floor. “What’s wrong, Queen?”

“Please...Let me hold you…” Makoto whispered.

Akechi’s throat went dry. This was something he never thought he would hear. “Excuse me?”

“I’m...afraid.”

Confused, Akechi asked, “You’re afraid of the dark?” He felt Makoto lean forward and press her head into his shoulder. Wrapping his arms around her, he tried to console her. “You’re brave, Queen. You shouldn’t be afraid of anything.”

“But I am.” She responded, burying her face deeper.

Akechi could feel a blush rise on his cheeks. “I have an idea.”

Makoto’s shaking stopped for a moment. “What’s that.”

“I’ll help you get over your irrational fear of the dark.” He brought one hand to Makoto’s cheek and felt as she nodded in agreement.

“When?”

“You’ll see.” Akechi took Makoto’s hand in his and urged her to get up. “For now, we have to meet up with the group again.”

“My legs...won’t move.”

“You’re Queen, the strongest woman that’s ever been.” She probably thought his words were just falsities he said to keep her moving, but Akechi felt their truth resonate in him as he said them.

He heard her take a deep breath. “Let’s go.”

“I’ll be right next to you.”

“That’s not what I need.” Makoto whispered, hurting Akechi’s feelings. He resolved to giving Makoto a lead when he felt her soft hand in his rough one. Their fingers intertwined, sending electricity through Akechi’s body. “I’m ready.”

The pair began their journey to finding the others, together.

-
The Thieves emerged from the House of Darkness victorious. As soon as she passed through the door frame, Makoto collapsed against the wall. Coming to stand by her, Akechi noticed how pale her face was. The rest of the group was too entertained with their victory to notice, however. He put his hand on her shoulder, “Are you okay, Niijima-san?”

“I need...a minute.” She said, taking a deep breath.

Akechi looked around the neon tinted room, noticing an opening in the curtains behind the counter. Grabbing Makoto by the wrist, he led her into the coat closet.

“Where are we going?” She asked, parting the curtains as she entered.

Akechi flipped on the lights. The closet was small, filled on each side with coats of expensive mink and velvet. A velvet loveseat sat on the opposite wall, facing them. “Sae-san’s customers sure have expensive tastes.”

Makoto looked confused, “Why’d you bring me here?”

“So you can calm down without the rest of the group hovering over you.”

Looking up at Akechi, Makoto’s expression softened a bit, “Thank you.” She made her way to the velvet couch to sit down. Leaning forward, she covered her face with her hands. “I’m sorry for acting so insensibly back there.”

Akechi leaned against the door frame, admiring Makoto. “No need to be.” He gave a small smile, “We all have our fears.”

Makoto looked up at Akechi, interest piqued, “Don’t tell me; does the Ace Detective have a fear as well?”

Giving a small chuckle, he shook his head, “Nothing too unconventional.”

“Spiders? Snakes? Fear of the unknown?”

Akechi looked down at the ground, “Spiders, actually.” He knew that his tone did not convince the ever intelligent Niijima Makoto. He didn’t actually care about spiders. His deepest, darkest fear was actually present in the conversation: he truly feared the darkness inside himself. He feared every night that he would truly lose himself to that darkness if he continued forward with his plans. But revenge was sweeter than the bitter fear. He was thankful when Makoto did not press his obvious falsity. If she was as intelligent as he thought, she would deduce the answer. Someday.

“I’m feeling a lot better,” Makoto said as she stood up. “Didn’t you say you wanted to help me get over my fear? I doubt you ever could.”

Akechi nodded, peeking behind the curtain, “Seems like we lost the group.” Before Makoto could comment, Akechi flipped the light switch. “Perfect timing.”

“Akechi what are you doi-” Makoto said, panic evident in her voice. “Turn the lights on.” She fumbled for the light switch before Akechi caught her.

The light that entered the closet through the curtain was very minimal, but it shone enough for Akechi to study Makoto’s face. Worry was etched in her expression, her red eyes staring back at his. She bit her bottom lip, a nervous tic he had often seen her exhibit.

“Let me help you get over your fear.”

“Y-You don’t have to.”

“But I want to.”

When he felt Makoto start to slightly shake in fear, his hands flew to her shoulders. “I’m here.”

She looked up and squinted in an attempt to see Akechi more clearly. “I’m worried.”

“About?”

“Something could be in the dark…”

“You’ve seen the room. There was no one else here but you and me.”

“Just us?”

Suddenly, a muffled sound came from their right, causing Makoto to instinctively grab onto Akechi’s shirt and bury her face in the white fabric. Akechi moved his hands to Makoto’s waist subconsciously as his face began to redden. He had never been so close to Makoto - or anyone else, for that matter.

“That was just a coat, Niijima-san.”

She looked up slowly, her expression changing from one of fear to one of surprise. She glanced back and forth between Akechi and her hands clinging onto his shirt. “I’m sorry.” She whispered, letting go of him. Through the dim light, Akechi could barely make out a tint of pink on Makoto’s cheeks. “Perhaps I can get over this fear some other way.”

Akechi did not want to jump to conclusions for fear of getting his hopes up, but when Makoto’s arms wrapped around his neck, he couldn’t help it. He lifted his mask off, casting it down to the floor and repeating the action with Makoto’s mask. His hand found the nape of her neck, where her hair curled up. Stroking her cheek with his thumb, Akechi internally cursed himself for getting into such a vulnerable state. His mind could not stop his mouth from asking, “And what do you have in mind?”

“I think you know.”

That was enough for him. Akechi quickly closed the gap between them, sending their lips crashing together. He felt Makoto stiffen under his touch before melting into the kiss. Tightening his grip on her waist, Akechi pulled Makoto’s body flush against his. She sighed against his mouth before pulling away.

“Is this okay?”

“Yes.” Akechi tried saying without being too enthusiastic, definitely failing. “Is it okay with you?”

Makoto looked at the floor before looking back into Akechi’s eyes, judging whether or not to disclose too much. “I’ve been waiting for this.”

The surprise on Akechi’s face must have been evident because before he had a chance to respond, Makoto’s lips collided with his. He felt the heat rise on his cheeks as he closed his eyes and kissed her back.

It was better than anything he could have fantasized about before. Her soft lips sent chills through him as he judged whether or not this could be her first kiss. She seemed too experienced for it to have been her first. Her lips seemed to know exactly what to do, unlike his inexperienced ones. Akechi could sense another emotion in her kiss: desire. The way she held him close, coaxing him to deepen the kiss, trying to get as much out of him as she could, it seemed as though she had waited for this just as long as he had.

Sinking down to sit on the floor, Akechi guided Makoto to sit on his lap. She straddled him, sending Akechi’s vision out of focus for a moment. Makoto smirked at him, “You seem to be enjoying yourself.”

“As do you.” Akechi retorted, kissing Makoto once more. This time, he coaxed her tongue out by tracing the outline of bottom lip with the tip of his tongue. He felt an intensity rise within him, becoming evident between his legs; he needed more.

Running a hand through her short brunette locks, he gave a gentle yank, pulling her head back and exposing the sensitive skin of her neck. His lips met her skin, lightly sucking and nipping. He wanted to leave his mark on her, somehow claiming her as his, even if the future had different intentions. Pushing the thought out of his mind, he sucked harder, hoping the red marks would turn blue, eliciting a few moans from Makoto.

“Gor-” She started, before moaning loudly, “Fuck.”

His hands found themselves nestled at her hips, greedily feeling her up. Makoto arched her back in pleasure, accidentally brushing against Akechi’s obvious erection. He moaned out, feeling the intensity turn into one of urgency. He desperately wanted her; he always had.

Makoto must have been a mind reader because she said breathily, “I’m on birth control.”

Akechi couldn’t believe his ears, “Are you implying…?”

Rolling her eyes, Makoto nodded, “You caused his mess, so fix it.”

Not hesitating twice, Akechi found the zipper on Makoto’s suit with ease. Before he could begin to take it completely off, she motioned to the couch behind them. “There would be more comfortable…”

He lifted Makoto into his arms and laid her gingerly on the velvet couch, kissing her all the while. “Of course, my Queen.”

As he undressed her, he snuck glances at Makoto’s body. Her perfect curves were barely illuminated in the sparse lighting, but he still made the attempt to memorize her all, as he knew he would never have the chance to again.

Her breasts came free from the tight leather suit, bouncing slightly, much to Akechi’s delight. Makoto fumbled with the buttons of his suit, unable to see them well enough in the lighting. As he finished sliding the suit off Makoto, he marvelled at her body, feeling the intensity grow inside.

Helping her with the buttons, Akechi was free of his dress shirt and he noticed Makoto was staring at his body with the same intensity he felt. She began working on the button of his pants, and smiled as she freed his erection. “Lay back.” She commanded authoritatively.

Doing as he was told, Akechi laid back and watched in pleasure as Makoto straddled him. He enjoyed her taking control of the situation; never for a moment did he doubt her need for perfection. Grabbing her hips, he pulled her down so that her body was flush against his. He kissed her with a slowness meant to drag the moment out for far longer than it would have lasted, wanting to savor her before he ravished her.

Makoto pulled away from the kiss, eyes hooded with lust. It was that look that sent Akechi over the edge, into animal-like desire. He pushed her hips back, angling himself so he could enter her. She sank down onto him slowly, inhaling sharply as she took all of him in. He thought he saw stars as she began to ride him, moving herself up and down, her wetness dripping onto his dick. It was pure pleasure to watch the Niijima Makoto, someone he had wanted secretly for so long, vulnerable and on top of him. Mesmerized by the way her breasts bounced with her movements, he decided to grab one, pinching the pink nipple slightly. He smirked at her response, a quick flutter of her eye lashes as her mouth opened, letting out a shaky moan.

How that sent him over the edge.

He pulled her hips down hard, deciding to fuck her instead. He thrust into her at a quickening pace, enjoying the various moans that punctuated her curses. Akechi could feel how wet she was and how her core was rapidly tightening around him. She was close, but he knew he was closer.

Pulling her body against his again, he growled, “You’re coming when I do.”

He slid his hand between her legs, feeling her folds, finding her clit. He rubbed it in a circular motion as Makoto dug her nails into his upper arm, adding to his pleasure. Her lips found his neck and began to suck hard.

Akechi felt the intensity boil up as he orgasm came. “Makoto, I’m going to-” The world felt as though it had stopped as stars took over his vision and the intense heat rippled throughout his entire body. He gripped her hips as she continued to ride him. He let out a loud moan as he felt Makoto tense up around him as she followed with her own release. Her hips bucked as she rode her own high out on him.

She moaned his name, “Goro…” sending even more intense electricity through him.

Shaking from the pleasure of release, Akechi sighed. Makoto still laid on him, panting. Brushing a lock of hair behind her ear, Akechi commented, “That was better than I could have imagined.”

Makoto gave a shy smile. He moaned when she lifted herself off him, his seed spilling out as she did so. As he pulled his clothes back on, he noted her straightened back, the way she focused on fixing her hair, and the way she carelessly searched the dark floor with her hands to find her own clothes.

“Looks like my idea worked.”

A curious sound came from Makoto before she started to notice her surroundings. She gasped as she looked around, probably in awe of the fact that she did not seem bothered by the dark. “You’re right.” Her hand reached out to caress his cheek before she brought her lips to his once more in a light kiss. “I guess I’ll concede, Goro.”

After the initial shock of her words passed and Makoto was zipping her suit back up, Akechi asked, “Is that all it took for me to win this little rivalry?” He smirked as he noticed how angry his statement made her, “You’re easy, Makoto.”

“Says the guy that almost came in two minutes.” She shined brilliantly at her retort.

He allowed her to have that little win, as he instead chose to peek behind the curtain. The group was now in the center of the High Limits Lobby. “Seems as if they’ve noticed our absence.”

“What’s our plan?” Makoto appeared next to Akechi, putting her mask back on and handing Akechi his own.

“Simple, you had an emotional moment and I was there to help you.”

She sighed, “If that’s the most believable thing we can think of.”

“Perhaps it will bode better if you tell them the whole truth of our disappearance...”

Makoto’s face flashed with something like hurt as the red blush returned to her cheeks. It quickly twisted to a sort of disappointment, throwing Akechi through a loop. What could she be disappointed about? Was it disappointment in herself? Disappointment that this would be a one time thing? That last thought was absurd to Akechi; she had no idea that he was going to disappear from her life soon.

However, he did feel a similar disappointment settling in his stomach. When he continues on with his plans, this would have to be the first and last time that they would have together. Makoto would never want him after she found about his past or what he planned for the future.

He wished he had included her in it.

Only for a moment though, as he realized what an absurd thought that was. There was no room for whatever feelings he was feeling for Makoto. There never was. He was lucky enough to have had her just moments ago; it was as if luck itself threw this situation straight into his lap knowing full well how he felt.

He had fallen for her long ago, but he always knew he would never have her. It would be too risky, too stupid, too weak.

He wanted to kiss her one last time, to give the feelings he had for her one last recognition before burying them deep within his heart forever. His lips yearned to be with hers. Wanting to tell her everything, Akechi wished he could wrap his arms around her. Even if it was for the last time.

Of course, he had thought that as soon as he had a taste of her he would fall deeper. And how right he was. He cursed himself for going this far with her. He wouldn’t be able to get her out of his mind until the day he died.

“Shall we, my Queen?” Lifting the curtain, he gestured towards the large group of thieves.

The use of her pet name caused a light pink to spread on her cheeks. Unconsciously, Makoto placed the palm of her hand on her cheek, swiping at the coloring under the surface. Akechi noticed it as one of her tics, one of many others that she did subconsciously around him. He knew them all.

The two left the dark room, with Makoto taking one last look at it, proud to finally be over her biggest fear. Haru was the first to notice the pair and waved to them, “We thought you left the palace.”

“Where were you guys?” Ren asked, standing in front of the pair, “I just won us the rest of the chips we needed.”

Makoto tried to explain, but when her mouth opened and no words came out, Akechi came to her rescue. “Queen had an emotional moment and I stayed with her to calm her.”

It was unmistaken that Akechi saw as Ren’s expression darkened. He came up to Makoto and placed a hand on her shoulder, much like Akechi had done earlier. “Are you feeling better?”

She nodded, not trusting her voice. Akechi found himself smirking; could her voice have fallen victim to the way he made her scream?

He realized his weakness immediately. This was something he would never be able to get out of his head.

Just one more battle. Then he’d never be weak again.