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    • By Kirito in Mikan - A Wanko to Kurasou inspired series
         1
      Disclaimer: This chapter contains messing. If that's not your thing, feel free to skip it!
      The very next morning, I take Mikan to the pet shop for a check-up. Somewhat remarkably, minus a few vitamin deficiencies, all of her test results all came back healthy.
      I also take this opportunity to mention Mikan’s potty problems to Nadeshiko. According to her, this is not entirely uncommon in anthropoids. It can even get worse when they go into "heat."
      Though Mikan hasn't hit that stage yet, Kotarou it seems hasn't been so lucky. She has just recently hit her phase this month and has had a few close calls as a result.
      "During this time of the year.. if it gets too bad, I tend to give Kotarou a bit of extra.. protection, to avoid any embarrassing incidents."
      Protection..? Oh. She must mean diapers. Just getting Mikan accustomed to wearing her night-time padding was a hurdle on its own, I'm not sure how well she'd react to being put in them all day.
      “The alternative is a medication to help smooth out their heat cycle, but these medications always carry the risk of side-affects, so I’d recommend not relying on them unless absolutely necessary.”
      "I see.."
      Nadeshiko gives me a smile as an idea seems to strike her. “You know, there's an annual fair that just opened relatively close by. This would be an excellent opportunity for Mikan and Kotarou to bond... and help keep Kotarou's mind occupied a little bit in the process.”
      I have no objections. A visit to the fair with two cute doggy girls sounds like a fun way to spend my weekend!
      Nadeshiko even lets me loan her company car for the drive there. I just rely on walking and public transit myself, so I don't have one of my own.
      Mikan and Kotarou are both thrilled when I tell them the news. Nadeshiko seems to take Kotarou almost every year, but this'll be Mikan's first time.
      "There's lots to do there! They have games, and contests you can enter in with your master! Mom and I usually do them every year." Kotarou lists all the various things to do at the fair to Mikan all the way to the car.
      "A-Ah.. I see! T-that sounds like fun, Kotarou!" Seeing Mikan's overwhelmed expression in response to Kotarou's excited rambling makes me chuckle. Seems like Kotarou's been looking forward to this for a while.
      The drive is fairly uneventful. It only takes us about 20 minutes to get to the festival and find a parking space. As we make our way to the admission gate, I dig out some money Nadeshiko gave me and pay for our admission. It's ¥1,000 for me, and ¥600 each for Mikan and Kotarou.
      Nadeshiko left me with quite a bit to spend. Enough that I almost felt guilty accepting it, but as usualm, Nadeshiko registered my worries and made me promise not to skimp on anything, just to "have as much fun as possible."
      When she sensed that wasn't enough, she said if I came back and most of it wasn't spent, she would make me work overtime my first day. So, she really left me no choice, heh.
      Once we're inside the fair grounds, I take Mikan off her leash and let the two roam free. The first thing we agree to do after our long drive here is get a bite to eat and drink. I mean, food is one of the main festival attractions after all!
      After some debate, I decide on some Takoyaki for myself. Mikan opts for a candy apple (I should probably make sure she eats something other than candy today). Last, Kotarou goes for a giant serving of Ikayaki, a type of whole grilled all for herself.
      For drinks, all three of us get giant cups of fresh-squeezed lemonade, of-course!
      Both Mikan and Kotarou's tails are wagging in excitement as they patiently wait for me to give them permission to eat. Truth be told, if I had a tail between my legs, it would also be wagging right now. Everything here smells delicious!
      I nearly forgo manners and dig right in, but catch myself at the last moment and offer a hasty "Itadakimasu~!" as both Mikan and Kotarou do the same and eat away.
      It doesn't take long before all three of us have finished our meal, and with that out of the way, we can finally make our way further into the fair.
      "So.. Mikan, Kotarou, what do you two want to do first?" "Uhm.. this is Mikan's first time here, so.. she's fine doing whatever Risa and Kotarou want to!"
      Kotarou promptly chimes in with "Games! Let's play games!" as she runs over to a nearby shooting game. Mikan and I join her, but..
      Clink!
      The only one of us that hits anything is Kotarou. She seems to be a natural at this.
      Mikan's eyes light up as Kotarou offers her some of the doggy treats she won. "Here Mikan. For you!"
      After that, we move on to a ring toss game, and I somehow manage to win a baseball among all the prizes available. Well, it's perfect for playing fetch with later!

      We continue cycling through various other festival games for a while until our tummies are rumbling from the smell of festival food again. I'm only human and all this food everywhere is making me drool, so I can only imagine how this place must be for anthropoids with their sensitive noses.
      I swing by a couple food stalls and grab me and Mikan some Dango, while Kotarou goes straight for another grilled squid. She seems to really love that stuff.
      Once we have our food, I lead the two to a nearby Ferris Wheel we can relax on while eating.
      "So, are you two having fun?"
      Kotarou gives an enthusiastic nod. "I love going to festivals! Is this your first time too Risa?"
      "I've been to a few when I was younger. I only have faint memories of them."
      "This is Mikan's first time. She's having lots of fun spending time with Risa and Kotarou!"
      After a few minutes pass and we've all finished our food, I notice Kotarou squirming around a bit as the Ferris Wheel reaches its peak height.
      I realize its been a while since all of us arrived at the fair, and none of us have taken any restroom breaks since then. I guess I should ask.
      "Uhm, hey Kotarou.. do you need to.. use the bathroom by chance?"
      That's when I notice Kotarou has stopped squirming.. and her face has grown red.
      Mikan's ears twitch, but even I don't need her super hearing to catch this muffled noise..
      Pffssssshhhhhhhhh...
      I blink a bit in surprise as I glance down, noticing the front of Kotarou's jeans bulging outward. She seems to promptly register our gawking and struggles to shift and hide it, but all that does is elicit a noisy squish and crinkle, confirming what the two of us already suspected.

      "..U-Uh.. sorry, Risa.. I.. I uhm, just went."
      Oh my gosh. I know Nadeshiko mentioned her having weak control, but.. well, I guess it's a good thing she is padded. I offer a smirk and shrug.
      "Ehehe, well, at least you have protection. Mikan her flooded her skirt in the park recently, and boy did she make a mess." Oh, whoops. I have a big mouth. I say that trying to comfort Kotarou, but don't think how that might make Mikan feel. I glance over and see her cheeks puffed out, reddened almost as much as Kotarou's.

      "R-Risa..!!"
      "Eheheh, sorry~"
      "...R-Risa peed herself too, you know!"
      "..!"
      And now it's my turn to burn red with embarrassment.
      "H-Hey, I just did that on purpose!"
      ...
      Oh come on. Of all things, why did I say that?
      I look over at Kotarou and see her giggling so much I'm almost concerned she may end up flooding her diaper again.
      "Risa pees herself on purpose, huh?"
      "L-look you two, I was just.. trying to make this doggy feel better!"
      Now even Mikan is giggling away. "Risa used to wet the bed too!"
      I reach over and give her a pinch on the cheeks, which just makes her laugh harder. "Listen, you two!"
      As we make our descent, I do notice that all this giggling has produced a squirmy Mikan as well.
      "Alright, let's get you to the bathroom before I end up having two wet doggy girls on my hands."
      After we're let off, I lead her to the nearest stall and watch with a giggle of my own as she jolts inside.
      "Hey Kotarou, do you need to, uhm.. you know.. change? Or do I need to.. change you? Or.."
      Kotarou grows red and rapidly waves her arms in dismissal. "N-No! I can't ask that of Ris.. uhm, Mom didn't pack any extras.. anyways, so.."
      I burst into a giggle as Kotarou stammers trying to explain herself, which only seems to add to her embarrassment.
      "Sorry, sorry! I don't know.. how these things usually work, is all. It's getting late and the festival will close soon anyway, so we'll probably leave after this. But uhm, I kind of do need to pee myself, so, be right back!"
      I catch Mikan washing her hands as I enter the restroom myself, and promptly give her a light pat on the head. "Good girl~"
      She gives a smile and wags her tail a bit at the praise as I enter a nearby stall and quickly jostle my panties down before hovering over the toilet seat.
      "Ahhh~"
      I let out a sigh as a golden stream pours out of me and splashes into the toilet bellow.
      Once I've concluded my business and washed my own hands, I lead Mikan and Kotarou towards the parking lot.
      As we near the car, I notice Kotarou's having to.. waddle a bit from the bulk between her legs. I smirk a bit at the sight. Much like with Mikan having accidents.. this sight is rather endearing on its own.
      As we start our drive home, traffic has gotten significantly worse. I guess this is what happens when you wait until the last minute to leave; now everyone's trying to drive home at the same time.
      Aside from the delays, everything seems fine for most of the drive. About 15 minutes in, Mikan ends up drifting off to sleep in the backseat. Kotarou, however, is wide awake and jostling around in the passenger seat next to me.
      I ignore it at first, until about 10 minutes later, when her arms wrap around her waist and a straining expression fills her face.
      If she has to pee that bad.. why doesn't she just go like before?
      "Hey, Kotarou? Are you oka-"
      BBBRRRRRRRRRRRRTTT.
      ..Ah! Oh, wow. That was so loud it startled me.
      Wait. Oh no, does.. does she need to do.. "that?"
      We're stuck in a traffic jam at the moment, so there's no way we can make a quick escape to a gas station or anything of the sort.
      I glance up at Kotarou with concern and see her cheeks burning red.
      "Uhm.. Kotarou, are you.. are you going to be okay until we get home?"
      "..I.. think so.."
      "We're somewhat stuck in traffic right now, otherwise I'd pull over somewhere. It looks like this may be a while, too.. so.. If you can't hold it.. I won't judge or anything. I understand it's hard for you right now."
      I say that, and I mean it. But much like before.. I actually find myself getting incredibly aroused by Kotarou's predicament. Jeeze.. does this.. actually turn me on, too?
      Traffic starts moving once again, albeit slowly. Kotarou has one hand wrapped around her stomach and one hand tightly gripping the arm rest at this point..
      It goes on like this for another 5 or so minutes, with Kotarou leaning forward and letting out a few quieter involuntary farts every couple minutes. Part of me wants to tell her to just go if it's too painful, but..
      Brrrrrrtttt! Pfflrttt..
      "Nnnghhh...!!"
      "K-Kotarou..?"
      "R-Risa.. I'm sorry.. I can't.. anymore!"
      BrrrRRRRTT.
      Kotarou's entire body immediately tenses up as she leans forward in her seat, tail shot up in the air and both hands wrapped around her stomach as she lets out a heavy grunt. Oh my god. She's.. is she actually going to..?
      PFFFLRRRTTTT.. Crkl.. crklcrkl..
      I can hardly believe what I'm hearing and seeing for a moment, but seconds later, I see a small tent bulging out from the seat of Kotarou's crinkly jeans.
      Moments after that, the doggy girl gives a firm grunt and.. Crkl.. CRRRRKLKLKLKLcrklcrkl.. Pffrrtttscclchh!!
      Several violent sound effects errupt out all at once as a small ball forms in Kotarou's jeans, suddenly errupting.. or exploding even, into a massive balloon that rapidly blows out beyond what I thought was even possible for a single person.
      All the while, Kotarou hovers there, quivering and moaning in relief.
      I'm so enamoured and aroused by this display, I don't notice the traffic suddenly stopping again.
      "..!!"
      I have to slam on the breaks, narrowly avoiding the car in front of us.
      "..A-Ahh?!"
      Kotarou exclaims in surprise as she's lunged forward, the sudden pressure on her gut sending another noisy eruption from her backside, before..
      Squeeellccchh!
      Kotarou's eyes grow wide as her body is abruptly hurled back into her seat. The mountain in her jeans making an extremely audible squish as the doggy girl is forced to sit in the mountainous mess she made.
      "A..ah?!! O-oh..! Oh.. gross.."
      Kotarou protests in speech, but ends up just slouching backwards in defeat anyways.

      A few moments of silence pass as Kotarou works to catch her breath. "..S-Sorry Risa. You.. must think I'm disgusting." Her ears droop as she says this.
      "Ah? Oh, oh no, I don't! Uhm, don't worry about it. Really! Like I said, I'm not going to think of you any less for it or anything."
      Kotarou just looks away and looks like she's on the verge of crying.
      "Risa. Don't lie."
      "..I'm not lying, really. You're not disgusting Kotarou. This isn't going to lessen the way I see or think of you in the slightest."
      "Risa.. you're still lying."
      She's not going to believe me. I find myself more frustrated than anything, so once again I do the only, stupid thing I can think of to possibly convince her.
      "Sigh.. look, Kotarou, if you want proof I'm not disgusted by you or anything.."
      My cheeks burn red as I pull the hem of my skirt up, showing off my panties which have grown visibly wet and semi-translucent from arousal at this point.
      Kotarou stares at me in surprise and confusion for a moment. "Risa.. is in heat too?"
      I can't help but giggle as Kotarou just tilts her head.
      "Uhm.. no, I.. we don't go into 'heat' like you do. This is just.. uhm.."
      "Risa..?"
      She's not going to get the hint, huh? Gah, this is so embarrassing.
      "Kotarou. If anyone here is disgusting.. try getting turned on by all of this. Seeing you wet yourself and.. you know.. is probably one of the hottest things I've ever witnessed. I.. don't know why, but.."
      "...O-oh."
      Cue the awkward silence.
      "Risa.. finds me attractive?"
      "Oh, er. Honestly.. yes. You and Mikan both. I'm sure you find me gross and even maybe resent me for enjoying all of this, but.. if this doesn't prove I don't think any less of you, I don't know what will."
      Kotarou blushes as her ears perk back up a bit and the doggy girl suddenly leans over and gives me a lick on the cheek.
      "..A-ah?!"

      "..You're not gross, Risa. You're cute. You're really weird, but I like weird Risa."
      I give Kotarou a smile and pat her on the head as she closes her eyes and gives her tail a few wags.
      "Gee, thanks. Now as adorable as you are in your current predicament.. I have to be honest.. you are definitely starting to stink over there, eheh. So how about we hurry up and get home and, uhm, I let you take a nice long shower at my place?"
      Kotarou blushes brighter and nods enthusiastically. "Yes. Shower. Please."
      ---
      Banner artwork by たちみ.
      Fanbox - Pixiv
    • By Kirito in Mikan - A Wanko to Kurasou inspired series
         0
      "So cute! What do you think, Mikan?"
      After dinner, I brought Mikan to my room to go through the supplies I bought together.
      She's trying on one particular outfit that caught my eye. It's an orange and yellow sweater with a paw print at the top, combined with a short brown skirt for the bottoms.
      It's simple, but cute, and I wanted to get her something warm for the cooler weather coming around.
      ..Okay, the sweater is for warmth. The skirt may have been a bit of a selfish choice for me, but you can't deny it's cute!

      "It's nice. It's warm and really soft!"
      I was a bit worried shopping for her on my own, but it looks as if I made a good choice on everything so far! That, or she's just really amenable. Either way, she looks happy, and that's what matters!
      "It fits you well. I'm glad you like it, Mikan! Now, one more thing I need to show you.."
      I reach into the bag and pull out the collar and leash I bought.
      Mikan's eyes light up. In a sense, this collar is a symbol of the bond between master and pet. The thought sends flutters up my chest as I hand it over to Mikan.
      "..Sniff, sniff."
      Mikan holds the collar in her palms and gives it a few curious sniffs.
      A few moments pass before Mikan looks up at me with a bright smile.
      "It's perfect, Risa. Mikan doesn't know how to thank you for all of this.."
      I give a cheerful smile. I know just the thing.
      "That's simple, Mikan. Let's go for a walk and try it out!"
      Just like that, Mikan and I set out for our first walk. I help adjust the collar around Mikan's neck, making sure it's not too tight.
      "Does that feel okay, Mikan?"
      She gives a nod, looking down with a smile as she plays around with it.
      The leash itself is light and straps around Mikan's wrist. Nadeshiko says only specific larger breeds, such as Kotarou, need stronger leashes that hook onto to the collar.
      "All set?"
      Mikan's ears give a twitch, tail wig-wagging left and right as her head gives an eager nod.
      The sun's already setting, so we won't have long to enjoy it, but..
      We set out on our walk anyway. I figure we at least have enough time to take a quick stroll.
      The weather is chilly, but not quite frigid enough to bundle up yet.
      I let Mikan lead the way as we enter the park. Her tail is still wagging so much that now and then, I get a peak up her skirt. I can't resist giving a bit of a pervy grin at the display, though Mikan appears oblivious to the show she's giving as she happily strolls along the park path.

      I decide to give her a little tease. "Hmm hmm, yes, I believe those paw-print panties I picked out suit you rather nicely too, Mikan~"
      The doggy girls face goes red for a moment as she tugs her skirt down.
      "..R-Risa!"
      "Kehehe~". I grin and giggle, and Mikan can't help but giggle a bit in response too.
      We continue on like this until it gets dark out. Once the parks automated lamps cut on, I decide we should head home.
      "Hey, Mikan? It's getting late now, so we should start heading back."
      ..?
      Mikan's so preoccupied she doesn't notice me calling her. She's been squirming a lot towards the end of our walk, and come to think of it, I don't recall her using the bathroom once since this morning. I wonder..
      "Mikan?"
      "..A-Ah! S-Sorry! Uhm, Mikan is done walking for tonight, can we go home now?"
      I walk up to Mikan and ruffle her hair a bit. "Yes, I just said that. You look a little distracted there, is anything bothering you?"
      Mikan flusters and looks up as she waves her hands in dismissal.
      "M-Mikan is fine! Mikan is fine."
      "Hmm, really?", I give Mikan's tummy a playful poke and she lets out a whine.
      "...Uwwu, R-Risa!"
      I give a sly grin. "Perfectly fine, huh? If you gotta go so badly, there's no one around. I'm sure we could find you a bush, or perhaps a tre-"
      Mikan suddenly blushes a deep red and shakes her head. "T-That's way too embarrassing! M-Mikan can't do that! S-She'll be fine! Mikan is a good girl!"
      I guess even anthropoids can be shy about these things. If I'm being honest though.. I may have resorted to this method once or twice before. It's not like anyone's going to see anyway.
      Come to think of it.. Mikan's not the only one who hasn't gone potty in a while. Though I'm nowhere in near as dire of a position as this doggy girl, I could certainly use a break myself.
      I give Mikan a light pat on the head. "Come on then, let's get you home before you stain those cute panties I just got y-"
      Mikan flushes a shade of red again and flails at my arms. "Risa!"
      I giggle to myself before tugging the doggy girl along. She's no longer leading the way, so I have to peer back now and then to make sure she's keeping up.
      As much as she protests being fine, every now and then I can see her tail tensing up as her legs clench and rub together.
      Something about this display I can't seem to get enough of. It sends fluttery feelings up and down my body. By the time we're almost home, I notice that my own panties have grown damp from the display.. and.. I don't mean from pee.
      At this point, it's become glaringly obvious that.. I'm getting turned on by Mikan's struggling.
      I feel a little shameful realizing this, but I do my best to push the thoughts out of my mind and focus on getting us home for now.
      Eventually, we reach the parks entrance. My apartment happens to be right next to the park, so it's only a little but further now.
      I glance back at the doggy girl to let her know we're nearly home, but..
      "...Hnnnghh..!"
      Mikan suddenly keels over. Her hands dig into her skirt, legs lock together, and ears, along with her tail, stand at attention as she lets out a loud whimper, and..
      "..!"
      My eyes barely catch it, but beneath the lamp-light I can see a modest trickle running down Mikan's thigh.
      Doki doki
      I feel my heart pounding for a moment. I'm so taken back by the display I don't have time to react when Mikan bolts off towards a nearby tree.

      "P-Potty! M-Mikan needs to go, now!!"
      "..A-Ahh, Mikan, wait!"
      Before I can catch up with her, the leash hits its limit and yanks the doggy girl back, spinning her around and sending her barreling into my chest.
      Clash!
      ...Ow. Mikan slams into me, knocking my wind out and sending us both falling down into the dirt.
      "Owch.. d-don't go running off like that. You're a lot faster than I am, you know!"
      I look up to check on the doggy girl as I struggle to catch my breath. We landed only inches away from each other, so I can see with a quick scan she doesn't look visibly injured. But I notice her ears have drooped and a few tears are strolling down her cheeks.
      "Hey, Mikan? Are you okay? You're not hurt are you?"
      I reach up to giver her a light pat on the head, and that's when I hear it.
      Pssssshhhhhhhhh~..
      ..Huh? W-wait, what?
      My head darts down as I feel a warm wetness creeping up my legs and spreading towards my butt. "O-Oh". There's yellow puddle flowing out from beneath the doggy girl.
      I quickly scan our surroundings, making sure we're alone before wrapping my arms around the doggy girl, drawing her into my chest and gently petting her head.
      My first instinct is to comfort Mikan, but at the same time, I can feel my heart pounding. As I continue stroking my fingers through her hair, I can still hear it.. and feel it. This tiny doggy girl is still peeing. I've lost track of how long its been, but at this point the puddle has crept all the way around my butt.
      It's so warm.. the surrounding air is cold, but the ground beneath my butt is anything but. The feeling is sending shivers up my spine.
      After a few more moments, I can hear the doggy girls stream trickle down as she lets out a subconscious sigh of relief between sobs.
      "..M-Mikan.. M-ikan is so sorry. Mikan was a bad girl.."
      I loosen my grip on the doggy girl and dry away a few of her tears, giving as comforting of a smile as I can.
      "I-it's okay! Accidents happen.. but.. boy, for someone so small, you sure can go, can't you?"
      Mikan looks down and seems to just notice the extent of the damage between the two of us.
      "M-Mikan made a mess again.. Risa.. Risa must be mad. Mikan knew this would happen. Mikan is being a burden to Risa already.."
      ...
      Pinch.
      I grab ahold of Mikan's cheeks with both fingers and pinch hard.
      "O-Ow! R-Risa!!"
      "What did I say about calling yourself a burden?"
      "..B-But.."
      My heart is racing. I should sit here and try to calmly comfort her.
      That's what I think. That's what I tell myself. But that's not what I do.
      Smooch.
      "..!"
      Before the doggy girl can protest further, my lips find themselves planted against hers.
      Mikan's ears and tails jolt back up in surprise.
      It takes me several seconds before I regain my composure and realize what I'm doing. My body retreats as my face glows a deep shade of red. Mikan sits there dumbfounded for a moment as her hands reach up and touch her lips.

      "..I told you, you'll never be a burden to me. There's no reason to get so upset over something silly like this. It's no big deal. All this means is a bit of extra laundry.. and an excuse to bathe with a cute doggy girl again tonight! I like you Mikan, and that's not going to change, so don't get so depressed over every little mistake that happens, okay?"
      ...
      A few moments pass before Mikan ends up filling in the awkward silence.
      "..Risa..?"
      ..?
      ..A-Ah!
      I nearly stumble backwards as the puppy girl lunges forward and licks my cheek. "Thank you."

      Mikan smiles at me, and at this point both of our cheeks are red as tomatoes.
      I return her smile and ruffle her hair some more. "Eheheh. Any time. What do you say we go back home and get cleaned up now?"
      Mikan gives a shy nod. The once warm puddle beneath our butts has grown cold and clammy at this point, and the longer we sit out here the more likely it is someone will come by and notice us.
      So the logical thing to do would be to get up and hastily make our way home now.
      Of-course, I don't do the logical thing.
      My whole body is still tingling at this point, and among all these sensations firing at once, I notice the pang of my own still rather full bladder protesting.
      Unlike Mikan, though, I'm confident I could easily make it back to our house without wetting myself. Despite that..
      "But first, since you already got my skirt all wet anyways Mikan.."
      My hands creep back down to the hem of my skirt as I shyly grip down and pull it up, exposing my white-cotton panties to the doggy girl in front of me.
      A playful, pervish smile creeps across my face as I close my eyes and relax.
      "..A-Ah..! Risa?!"
      Mikan gasps in shock moments after as I feel a warm trickling making its way out into my cotton panties.
      ...Pss...pssh..pshhhhhhhhhhh...
      A tingling warmth and relief pours out of me as the puddle beneath my butt quickly grows warm again.
      I have to bite down on my lip to suppress a moan as my legs instinctively lock together, causing the golden liquid to pool up into my lap before trickling over and running down my legs.
      I'm seriously doing this. I'm wetting myself in front of another girl.. in a public place, no less.
      After several moments, my stream dies down and I'm finally able to open my eyes. Mikan's eyes are still wide-open with her hand covering her mouth and rosy cheeks.
      Her awestruck expression makes me giggle.
      "See? No big deal!"
    • By Kirito in Mikan - A Wanko to Kurasou inspired series
         1
      The weather is nice today. I close my eyes and take a moment to relax and enjoy the gentle fall breeze.
      "..Ah. Hello. Welcome!"
      ..?
      Oh. There's a large blue-haired anthropoid girl behind me. She's holding a few leashes.. it looks like she finished taking a few dogs on a walk.

      "Hiya! Uhm.. Do you work here?"
      After I finished giving Mikan a bath this morning, I did some much-needed laundry and made breakfast for the two of us, then made my way to a local pet-shop I had passed by a few times on the way to my apartment.
      "Yes. I'm Kotarou. Are you a customer?"
      Kotarou, huh. I've seen her around town before.. usually shopping or carrying out other errands. You're normally required to accompany your pet on a leash in public; that Kotarou can go out on her own must mean she is a licensed work dog.
      "Ah, uhm. Yes. This is my first time here."
      Kotarou smiles in response as she leads the dogs in ahead of me.
      "Come inside. I'll introduce you to mom."
      The blue-haired girl leads the dogs into the store as I follow behind.
      "..Wow."
      This is my first time seeing this place from more than just the outside. There are shelves upon shelves of both anthropoid and normal pet supplies. There's even a clothing section and almost an entire wall devoted to collars and leashes.
      "Mom, I'm back! We have a customer."
      A young brown-haired girl appears from behind the counter. If I were to guess, a middle schooler? Maybe she's related to the owner. "Oh. Welcome! Can I help you find something?"

      I guess I should start from the beginning and explain how I found Mikan.. maybe the owner of the store can give me some advice.
      "Hiya! My name is Risa. Uhm, is the store owner around by chance?"
      The girl smiles and responds. "Yes. That's me. What can I do for you?"
      ...
      I'm caught a bit off guard. She is the store manager..? The girl tilts her head in confusion when I don't answer, but seems to promptly register my doubts.
      "Despite my appearance, I had my coming of age ceremony a long time ago. My name is Mochizuki Nadeshiko."
      Even though she gives me a reassuring smile as she says that, I feel I've done something rude.
      "O-oh, I'm really sorry. I'm Oumi Risa. Nice to meet you."
      The store manager brings her hand to her cheek and chuckles. "I get it all the time. I'm used to it, so don't worry. It's nice to meet you too, Risa. Now, it sounded like you needed help with something?"
      I explain the situation to Nadeshiko; how I found Mikan abandoned on the street and have been taking care of her ever since.
      "Oh, my. Is she here with you now?"
      "No, I left her at home to rest. She still looked rather exhausted. ..Also, I don't have any clothes that can fit her, and the ones she was had were so torn up I had to throw them out.."
      "I see. It's good you're letting her rest. If you can give me her description, I can see if there are any missing pet reports posted."
      Much like missing person reports, authorities in our area each have their own system used to report missing anthropoid animals. With any luck, one matching Mikan could come up, and we can find her original owner that way.
      "..However, you say she was not wearing a collar when you found her, right? If that is the case, I have to be honest with you. It is very possible her previous owner has abandoned her."
      "Oh. I see..". I can feel the weight of her words crushing down on my hopes.
      Nadeshiko let's out a concerned sigh as she seems to become lost in thought.

      "Unfortunately, this is not entirely uncommon. People adopt anthropoids without considering the tremendous responsibility that comes with owning them. Some choose to quietly abandon them when they don't want to take care of them anymore, so they can avoid having to pay to put them back up for adoption."
      That's... horrible. Hearing this and remembering Mikan laying there in that alleyway.. she could have died! What kind of person could be so.. selfish? So cruel?! I do my best to stay composed, but I can sense some anger creeping onto my face.
      Nadeshiko seems to take notice as her worry turns into a sympathetic smile.
      "Yes, I understand your anger completely. It is a horrible thing to do. It seems like Mikan was very fortunate to be found by someone so kind-hearted."
      Her comments make me blush a bit. I just did what any decent person would've, didn't I?
      "Uhm, if someone did abandon her.. what happens then?"
      "Well, you can leave her in our care, and if no one files a missing report and comes to claim her, she will end up being put up for adoption again."
      "...I see."
      "The second option.. you can adopt her yourself, Risa. Anthropoids are extremely loyal, those that have been abandoned by their masters sometimes never come to accept anyone else. But it sounds like Mikan has already opened herself up to you."
      I honestly wouldn't mind that. In truth, I've been lonely living by myself for so long. Having someone like Mikan around to keep me company would certainly be nice.
      It would be nice, however..
      "..I'm not sure if I'm what's best for Mikan. I'm still just living off inheritance from my parents right now.. I can barely take care of myself, so I don't think I could afford to give Mikan the care she needs."
      Nadeshiko brings her palm to her cheek and tilts her head in thought. She spends a few moments like this.. before glancing over to the blue-haired doggy girl.
      "You know, even with Kotarou to help, there are days we're overwhelmed here. We could use an extra pair hands or two. If you and Mikan are willing to help around the shop, I could provide you with a salary and a discount on any supplies you may need."
      I'm a bit shocked at the offer. This girl hardly knows me, and yet.. she's willing to offer me a job and everything else just like that?
      "Are.. are you sure that's okay?"
      Nadeshiko gives me a smile. "Of-course. I think Mikan senses in you the same thing Kotarou and I do. You are a really kind-hearted person Risa. I think you would be a perfect fit here."
      "..Thank you, I think you overestimate me, but.. if you'll have me, I'll happily accept your offer."
      Nadeshiko claps her hands together and smiles. Even Kotarou looks happy.
      "Wonderful! I'll let Kotarou show you around and help you get everything you need."
      With that, the blue-haired doggy girl and I make our way through the store. I gather some vitamin supplements, which Kotarou says should help speed her recovery along. A few pairs of doggy clothes and undergarments (including some special "night-time" undergarments), as well as a simple red collar and leash.
      I carry everything up to the counter and watch as Nadeshiko rings everything up. Even though she says I won't have to pay for the items now, I can still see how much everything ends up costing..
      ..67,000 Yen, or roughly $595.
      Ouch. That would have been almost a full months rent.
      Kotarou helps bag all the items as they're rung up, and the only thing left on the counter is Mikan's collar.
      "If you're going to be taking care of Mikan, we must get you registered as her caretaker. You won't officially become her owner until the mandatory 30 days pass for someone to claim her, but this way if she ever ends up getting lost, all of your contact information will stay with her."
      Nadeshiko hands me a form titled Anthropoid Adoption and Registration. It covers all of my contact information.. name, address, phone number.. and the pets name, any medical history, allergies and so on.
      I've learned little more than Mikan's name for the time being, so I have to leave the rest of the form blank.
      Once I hand everything over to Nadeshiko, she transfers all the information over to her computer, and then appears to run the collar through a device behind the counter.
      "All right, Mikan's all registered now!"
      Nadeshiko hands the collar over. "Make sure she always wears this whenever you're out in public. This is extremely important, so don't forget!"
      She looks quite serious about this. "Not only is it the law and you could be fined if she's caught without it, but this collar has your registration ID and all your contact information embedded on it."
      I never realized the collars were such a big deal, but I guess it makes sense. Anthropoids are mostly self-sufficient, but many aren't capable of functioning entirely on their own without training. Basic things like adhering to traffic laws, street lights and so on can be a bit difficult for them. So the law requires they be accompanied at all times for their own protection.
      "There's now a debate on passing a law that lets owners opt to have these chips surgically embedded in them instead, but.. even if it passes, the procedure to do this will be expensive, so I'd recommend getting used to using the collar now."
      Nadeshiko goes through some other basic pet laws to recognize. Once that's done, she hands me a business card with all the shops contact information on it.
      "For now, I want you to focus on taking care of Mikan and making sure she is recovering well. If she is feeling up to it, please bring her by the shop sometime tomorrow so that Kotarou and I can give her a check-up."
      I slide the business card into my jacket pocket. "I will. Thank you again for everything."
      Nadeshiko and Kotarou see me off as I make my way back home.
      I swing by the grocery store again on my way back, taking the time to shop properly tonight. By the time I get back, it's past noon and Mikan has curled up on the couch and fallen asleep again.
      I tip-toe my way over to her. She still looks like she's doing well. I rest my palm on her forehead, and it doesn't seem like she's running a fever anymore. Still, I decide to let her sleep for a bit longer as I work on fixing the two of us something to eat.
      As I rummage through the pile of groceries, I settle on some canned chicken soup. It's a cliche remedy, but a warm bowl of soup has always helped me get through these things, so it seems as good a choice as any.
      "Hmm, hmm..", I hum a bit to myself as I warm the soup up, peering over at Mikan now and then to make sure she's still asleep. Once the foods done, I measure out some vitamin supplements Nadeshiko provided me with and mix it into Mikan's bowl.
      "Hey.. hey, Mikan?", I nudge the doggy girl with my elbow as I set the tray of food in front of us, watching as she sleepily stirs from her slumber.
      "..Mmh..?"
      I grab a nearby napkin and wipe some drool from her mouth as she wakes. "It's time to get up, sleepy butt. I made us some soup, and once you're done eating, I have a few things to show you!"
      Mikan sticks her nose in the air and gives a few sniffs as she struggles to keep her eyes open. Once she recognizes the scent as food, however, it doesn't take long before she's up and awake.
      I give the doggy girl a smile and light pat on the head. "Sleep well? Judging by the way your nose is working overtime there, I guess I made a good choice on the soup."
      I hand Mikan a spoon and pull the table closer to us.
      "Itadakimasu! Dig in whenever you'd like, Mikan!"
      Mikan's tail wags a bit as she leans in and gives the bowl a few more sniffs. "..I-Itadakimasu."
      I watch and wait to see what Mikan thinks of the food for a moment, but she seems hesitant to eat it. Did I not cook it properly?
      I slurp down a spoonful of my own bowl to see, and..
      "..! H-Hot!"
      Owch! Right. Stupid. I forgot to let it cool.
      Mikan looks at me in surprise and concern.

      "R-Risa, y-you need to let it cool off first!"
      ..Even the dog knows this, apparently. I blush and scratch the back of my head. "Ehehe, whoops."
      While we wait for the food to cool, I turn on the TV and flip to a random slice-of-life anime. Once the soup is at a safe temperature, Mikan wastes no time digging in.
      Still, for as hungry as she must be, she takes the time to eat with proper manners and only makes.. a slight mess, and when it's not scalding my tongue, the soup is actually surprisingly good.
      A few minutes pass as we both heartily work down most of our dinner. Finally, I decide to ask. "So.. Mikan."
      I realize I can't avoid this question forever. I figure I may as well just ask and get it over with. If she's not ready to talk about it yet, I won't push, but.. I at least need to try. I can't just come in and claim her as my own without being sure.
      "..I'm sorry if this is sudden, but I have to ask. What were you doing in that alleyway last night? Did you get lost?"
      Mikan's ears droop almost immediately in response to the question. She sets her spoon into the bowl for a moment as she looks to contemplate how to answer.
      She probably anticipated this question coming, but.. it doesn't seem as if she wants to answer.
      "I understand it must be painful to talk about, but I hope you know you can trust me Mikan. I'm not going to abandon you. I'm happy to have you here and take care of you myself, but.. I need you to tell me what happened first."
      I can tell this question is bringing up painful memories for her. It makes my heart ache seeing this, because no matter what the answer, I'm fairly positive this isn't a case of her only getting lost now.
      "Mikan.. ..Mikan was told to wait there. Master left Mikan there, but never came back."
      "..How long were you out there waiting, Mikan?"
      "Uhm.. Mikan doesn't remember.. it was a long time though. But Mikan wanted to be a good girl and wait like she was told to. No matter how long it took."
      ..How awful. It sounds like she really was abandoned. I think deep down even she knows this.
      I scoot closer to the doggy girl and wrap an arm around her. Her ears perk up as I tenderly pull her into a hug.
      "Well, no matter what happened, I want you to know you don't have to worry anymore Mikan. I will make sure you're taken care of. It's a bit small here.. and it won't be easy, but.. if you're okay with that, I'd even love for you to make this your home."
      Mikan casts her gaze from side to side, contemplating how to answer. "..Uhm.. Risa saved Mikan, and she's really.. really greatful for that. Risa is very kind.. she gave Mikan a place to stay and helped take care of her.. but.. Mikan doesn't want to be a burden to anyone anymore."
      My hand drifts up to the doggy girls cheek, and I give her a playful pinch.
      "O-Ow!", Mikan's ears and tail tense up as she tries to swat my hand away. I giggle a bit at the sight before leaning in and nuzzling against her other cheek.
      "You're not a burden, Mikan. The thought of having someone around to talk and play with truly makes me thrilled! So don't say things like that. You're more than welcome here, and you'll never, ever be a burden to me, and if you ever say that again I'll pinch your cheeks right off."
      Mikan blushes, and as much as she resists, she can't help but burst into a few giggles herself as she tries to wrestle free.

      "O-Okay! You win, Risa."
      I give her a smile as I lean back, ruffling her hair a bit, and we finish our meal.
      It looks like today officially marks the day of our new life together.
    • By MasterXploder in Peesona 5
         0
      With thanks to Sake for editing
       
      Sunlight. Warm weather. Chirping birds. People walking and talking all around. The various roars and beeps of traffic nearby. Not that long ago, these would have been the bane of her existence, something she would have done anything to escape from. Today, however, they were things she could tolerate, at least while she was close to home, where an escape route could easily be planned.
      But she needed to do better, not just for her sake, but for all of her friends and the people who needed her help. This was why Futaba was squatting outside of Leblanc Cafe one summer Sunday afternoon. She had been mentally preparing for the task that lay before her today. It had nothing to do with going into the Metaverse or battling sinister shadows. No, this task was far scarier than that, something she had nearly talked herself out of doing several times: going somewhere with a lot of people and getting used to being around large crowds, as she had written on her promise list.
      Thankfully, she wouldn’t be going alone; Ren would be by her side. That was the plan, at least, but it required that he was actually present first.
      “What’s he doing in there?” Futaba asked herself as she checked her phone again. Twenty minutes late now. She wondered if Sojiro had tied him up with some dishes to wash or something. She could always go in and see what the deal was, she supposed.
      That, and she had another reason for going into Leblanc. Her morning coffee and just-for-building-confidence energy drink had been working through her body while she waited, and they were reaching their last destination before they would exit her body. Her squat especially didn’t help, since her bladder couldn’t tell the difference between it and the position she took whenever she made use of a squat toilet.
      “Okay, bathroom time!” She stood up and stretched her arms and legs. If she was gonna finish her task, using the toilet beforehand would be a smart idea. It was like her video games, after all; proper prepping could be the difference between success and failure.
      But before she could take a single step, she heard the bells jingling above Leblanc’s door. Out walked Ren in his casual clothes, with no bag or Morgana in sight.
      “Oh! There you are,” said Futaba. “Took your sweet time getting out here, huh?”
      “Yeah, sorry about that.” Ren rubbed his head. “Boss had me do some prep-work before I could leave. Dishes, cooking food, stuff like that.”
      “Heh, figured he roped you into something again. Guess I’m not the only one who needs you as a Key Item.”
      “Er, the what?”
      “It’s nothing,” Futaba said with a giggle. “But speaking of Sojiro, we should probably let him know what we’re up to today. Can’t have him thinking you kidnapped me or something.”
      Ren nodded, his eyes holding a bit of fear at the thought.
      With that, the two headed back into Leblanc. Futaba could feel a mixture of excitement and nervousness coursing through her. She was about to get started on her first promise list since childhood. It wouldn’t be easy, but she would give it her all, and she knew the best place to get started.
       
       
      Akihabara was like heaven on Earth for anyone into the geek scene. Stores for tech and machinery for the nerd in everyone ran up and down each street, with loads of shoppers going in and out every day.
      It was the perfect location for Futaba to learn how to overcome her fear of crowds. The many displays of brand new electronics would help keep her distracted from how scared she was. It was also somewhere she had been to before, even if that trip would have ended badly if not for Ren saving her at the last second.
      Futaba looked up at Ren as they walked through a large and busy chain store. She had already noticed in that prior trip, but it was rather strange how just being around him had a calming effect on her. Even surrounded by strangers and noise with her heart pounding, she didn’t want to run away and hide under a blanket and laptop. She could actually focus on things other than how anxious she felt, like the nifty features on that new laptop, or how ridiculously overpriced those headphones were.
      Her biggest focus, however, was how bad she needed to pee now.
      Futaba realized her mistake the moment she and Ren crammed into the first subway. Being wedged between so many strangers got her anxiety up, and that always made her need to pee worse. Again, Ren’s presence kept her fears from going out of control, but there was little he could do for the other problem.
      It felt like ages had passed before they finally stepped off the last subway. Her nerves calmed down not long after, but her bladder felt just as full. She knew full well the solution to her problem, and had turned to Ren a few times already to try asking him where the bathroom was. Each of those attempts ended with the question dying in her throat.
      Whenever she looked at him, Futaba couldn’t help but recall the day she took down Medjed for the Phantom Thieves. She didn’t acknowledge at first, but it felt nice to show off her hacking skills in front of an audience. That was, until she peed her pants immediately afterwards, with Ren and a talking cat there to see it all. It didn’t make her wish for death like she had told them, but it was still a humiliating experience that she would rather forget as soon as possible.
      She had no doubt Ren hadn’t forgotten about that incident, and mentioning her need to pee would bring that memory front and center. She couldn’t let that happen, not when she was doing everything she could to make herself a capable, semi-sociable individual again.
      Instead, she had a better plan: wait for Ren to visit the bathroom, then slip into the ladies’ room while he was gone. No need to even say anything, then; he probably wouldn’t even mention anything once she got back. All she had to do now was play the waiting game and act inconspicuous all the while.
      “You okay there, Futaba?”
      “Huh?”
      Perhaps she needed to work on the inconspicuous part. Futaba looked to Ren like she’d been caught peeking at another student’s paper during a test. “Um, sure! Doing okay here, yep, that’s me!” she quickly answered, standing up tall.
      “Er, alright then,” said Ren with a slight head-tilt.
      He might have said it, but Futaba knew he had to be concerned for her, scrutinizing every last move she made to see if she was hiding something. She had to distract him, somehow. It was a long-shot, but she would have to use a skill that she was still a novice at: smalltalk.
      “Hey, did you see that tablet earlier? Whoever drew that was a real pro,” she said, “Not as good as Inari, though. He’s got a particularly pervy view on art.”
      Futaba looked away the whole time, not wanting to see if Ren’s inquisitive stare still piercing through her. If she couldn’t think of a way to placate him, then she just had to hope something else would take his focus off her.
      Just as she thought that, a loud commotion started up next to the two.
      “Wh-Whoa, what’s going on!?” said Futaba as they turned to find a crowd near them.
      “There’s a super-limited sale at the PC section!” yelled a skinny man.
      “Three terabytes for only 500 yen!? What a steal!” declared a black-haired woman.
      “That’s gonna sell out in seconds!” said another man as he jogged past the two.
      He was not the only one. Futaba and Ren felt a rumbling of people moving all at once behind them. They turned around, but it was already too late: a massive crowd rushed past, too dense to avoid anyone. Before Futaba knew it, she felt herself being dragged along its numbers, the sheer body heat and density making it hard to breathe.
      “Gah! Ren! Help! Teammate pulled by horde!” she yelled, flailing her arms in an attempt to break free.
      Almost as quickly as she was pulled in, the crowd came to a stop. Futaba knew this would be her best chance of escape. Pulling her arms back down, she made use of her small frame to squeeze through the mess of unfamiliar faces while they remained unaware of her presence. Eventually, she stumbled out of the crowd like someone lost in a corn field, landing on her hands and knees. Oh sweet personal space, how I missed you! she thought while she took the moment to breathe.
      “Well, that was one experience I wasn’t expecting today,” she said as she stood up, turning towards Ren.
      Ren was unable to respond on account of not being there.
      “Uh, R-Ren?” Futaba looked around, scanning the dozens of faces around her. Not a single one belonged to her friend. It only now dawned on her that she was the only one pulled away by the crowd.
      All by herself in the middle of the city, surrounded by strangers; Futaba had reached her worst-case scenario. She could hear her heart beating faster even with all the commotion around her. A bead of sweat formed on her forehead, and her hands began to shake.
      But worst of all, her bladder let off a sharp pang of pressure, forcing her legs together from the knees up. As her anxiety grew, her faith in her ability to hold it dropped in response. She could already picture herself standing in a puddle with soaked pants as a crowd stared and judged, the words “Game Over” hanging above her head while tears flowed from her eyes. At the rate things were going, that fantasy seemed destined to become reality.
      No! Futaba clapped her hands to her head. This is just the first task on my promise list. I’m a Phantom Thief, I can beat this no problem!
      Despite her attempt to calm herself, Futaba could still feel her heart beating faster with each second. She had to act before her anxiety could take over, or it would be mission failed on level one. With trembling hands, Futaba pulled out her phone and called Ren’s number, doing her best to ignore that she was calling a boy around her age. One ring, two rings, and then…
      “Futaba? You okay?”
      Hearing his voice made Futaba feel like she was in a post-apocalyptic film and had just made contact with another living person.
      “M-Mayday, mayday,” she started, looking around herself. “I’m trapped in the Home Appliances Kingdom. The Three Terabytes war rages on outside. There are just… so many people…” Another pang from her bladder forced her to put a hand to her groin. “Hrgh… I don’t know if I can last much longer. My heart’s pounding, and I… I really have to-”
      A dial tone interrupted her. She looked at her phone and saw the words “Call Failed” in an ominous red color. Her plan to stay put while helping direct Ren to her was not going to work now. He’d have to comb the whole appliance section to find her first, and between her panicky brain and bursting bladder, she simply couldn’t wait that long. She had to get back to where they got split up, and fast.
      Keeping one hand between her legs, Futaba stepped off in the direction the crowd came from. She bit her lower lip and whimpered while passing what seemed like dozens, no, hundreds of strangers, each one looking more intimidating and judgmental than the last. She could only wonder how many of them were looking at her and thinking snide remarks about the strange girl walking by.
      Aah, don’t think about that! she chided herself. She needed to stay focused on her target, the scruffy-haired and bespectacled Ren. Her fearless leader wouldn’t let anything stop him, especially not being lost in a store. He would be calm and suave and totally in control like usual.
      Most importantly, he would be standing right over there, which he actually was.
      “Ah!” Futaba ran to him just as he was about to take off somewhere. “There you are!”
      “Futaba!” He turned to her, his worried frown disappearing.
      “I… I, I, I…” With everything she was feeling, Futaba couldn’t begin to think of a response.
      “I was about to come find you,” said Ren.
      “Oh…” Futaba looked at him and smiled. “Th-Thanks. I didn’t think I was gonna see you until the end of time, but then I thought about you while I was wondering around the store, and bam, a wild Ren appeared!”
      Ren chuckled. “It’s good to see you again.”
      “So you’re relieved? What an incredible coincidence! Me too.” Back by his side, Futaba could feel her heart slowing down and muscles relaxing. With the terror of the crowd in the past, she felt like the rest of this trip would go smoothly now.
      “Aah!?”
      Until a spurt into her underwear reminded her of something she had neglected for far too long.
      Futaba’s face contorted and hands snapped back to her groin to keep anything and everything else from slipping through her defenses. Time was running out and she knew it; if she didn’t find a bathroom soon, she’d be tripping the instant-fail condition of this quest right at the tail end.
      “Hey, what’s wrong?” she heard Ren ask.
      “Nngh, bladder status critical! Need toilet now!” she managed to say.
      “A… bathroom?” Ren raised an eyebrow.
      “Now!”
      “R-Right! They had some at the entrance. This way!” said Ren as he stepped forward.
      “Th-The entrance!?” Futaba’s pupils shrank. It already felt like she couldn’t take more than a couple steps. The front of the store may as well be on the other side of the city. Curse you, real world, and your lack of fast travel!
      While she fretted, she didn’t notice Ren walking around her until he felt his hands on her bare shoulders. She jumped a little at the contact, but was otherwise rooted to the spot.
      “Come on, Futaba, you got this,” he said. “Just take it one step at a time.”
      “I…” really don’t think I can make it! she wanted to say as she looked up to Ren. That thought died once she saw his eyes, full of confidence and concern for her. She had no idea if he knew, but looking into those eyes made the impossible tasks feel beatable, like getting a special new power right before the final boss.
      “A-Alright,” she said. “There, now, please!”
      Futaba lowered her head and closed her eyes, letting Ren guide her steps through the store. With each step, she felt her bladder tremble, fearing that it would be the one that burst the dam. Even with how weak her hold felt, she refused to give in, not when her friend believed in her. She didn’t think about how many people were potentially looking at her, or how far she still had to go to reach the bathroom. All of her focus was on taking that next step, making sure she could keep it all in for just that little bit longer...
      “Futaba, we’re here!”
      “Huh?” Futaba opened her eyes. Right in front of her was the door the ladies’ room, a sight so good that she had to wonder if she wasn’t just suffering from some pee-induced delusion. She would figure that out soon enough.
      “Aah, BRB!” she declared as she pushed through the door, disappearing from Ren’s sight.
      A nice, clean bathroom greeted her, with an open stall at the end. It wasn’t more than a few meters, but Futaba knew they would feel like miles. One false move here, and her efforts would be in vain.
      Come on, just a little further! She thought as she squeezed herself especially hard, steeling herself for the desperate run to come. “All-out attaaaaack!”
      Throwing everything she had into this last dash, Futaba rushed forward, one hand firmly between her legs while the other caught and closed the door as she stepped inside the stall. Once it locked, she faced the toilet, discovering it to be the Western sit-down kind. She thanked her lucky rolls that Sojiro’s House had one of these, so she was well-trained either way.
      Turning around, she wiggled in place while undoing her belt and zipper. Once undone, she executed her super move of yanking down her cargo pants and Feathermen-themed panties while falling back onto the toilet.
      As soon as her butt landed on the seat, the last of Futaba’s holding strength gave out. It started with a light dribble falling straight down, the noise of each drop distinguishable from the other. The floodgates slowly opened from there, growing into a powerful, erratic, yellow-tinted spray, much of it crashing into the water while a bit still hit the surrounding bowl. The room filled with a loud splashing noise coupled with a strong hiss. If anyone else was in the bathroom, they would have no doubt as to what was happening in her stall.
      None of it mattered one bit to Futaba. Not the noisiness of her pee, not having to do it in a public bathroom, or the desperate march she made through the store to get there. Against all odds, she had averted disaster and made it to the toilet, with only a single spurt into her panties counting against her. It was a mission accomplished by the skin of her teeth, and  a victory worth celebrating.
      Leaning her head back, Futaba shut her eyes and opened her mouth into a big smile. Lost in her delirium, she let out a sound that was part-sigh and part-laughter, not unlike a hyena’s laugh. Anyone else in the bathroom would think she was a demented girl, but how else was she to express her relief and joy with this tingly sensation coursing through her?
      Her pee went on like this for who-knows-how-long. Futaba certainly didn’t; it seemed like years passed before her stream slowly died away, turning into a light trickle for a little bit, then stopping altogether. Her big smile died away as well, though a bit of the tingle remained.
      Futaba paid little mind to it, however. The high of her pee time had passed, letting her become more aware of her situation again. Sooner or later, she would have to leave this stall and face Ren and anyone else who saw her desperate march. Suddenly, she didn’t feel so much like celebrating anymore.
      But first, she needed to clean herself up. Turning her head, she reached out for the toilet paper.
      “Wh-What!?”
      Her smile dropped entirely as she saw the dispenser completely void of any paper, her arm trembling in the air. She was officially stranded on the toilet without a lifeline, a situation she had never considered happening despite her many hours spent preparing for this outing. She couldn’t even begin to think of a solution to her problem.
      Facing forward, Futaba let her arm down, content to sit there and let her anxiety build. However, her hand didn’t fall to the side like she expected. Instead, it landed on a panel next to the seat, the palm pressing a button.
      “What th-GYAAAAAH!?”
      Futaba didn’t even have the time to process that when something far more important got her attention. Beneath her lap, a spray of water shot from the bowl, landing a critical hit right at her weak spot for massive damage. Her eyes and mouth shot open as sensations and emotions of all kinds bombarded her brain.
      It was too much, too fast for her liking. She fumbled along the panel, mashing buttons faster than she did for any video game. Each one made the pressure and aim go all over the place, giving her bottom and elsewhere a good soaking. She eventually found the off button, but the damage was done.
      Yup, I’m done here! Futaba stood up and patted her behind at lightning speed, only getting it to a cool dampness before pulling her pants back up. She shivered at her underwear making contact with the wetness. Please don’t show up on my pants!
      From then on, Futaba’s only thought became of leaving the bathroom. She certainly did not want to think about the lingering tingling at a certain part of her, at least not until she got back to her room where she would be totally alone again. Her mind went elsewhere while she washed her hands, scrubbing for much longer than necessary. Afterwards, she stuck a paper towel down her pants to try and properly dry those places, for as much good as it could do by then.
      Seconds later, she creaked the bathroom door open and crept outside, where Ren turned to her at once. His eyes went down to her pants then back to her red face and fogged-up glasses.
      “Um, you alright there?” he asked.
      Futaba kept her head down while she spoke. “C-Can we, um, please b-be somewhere, er, not people-y?”
      Ren looked as if he was about to ask something else, but instead nodded and motioned for Futaba to follow. She walked behind him like a puppy following its mother, not caring where she ended up, just so long as it was not here.
       
       
      “Will this do?” Ren turned to her and asked.
      Futaba looked around at the alleyway Ren brought her to. While she could still hear and see people walking nearby, she knew this was probably the most privacy she could ask for. That, and the short walk outside in the fresh air helped to cool her down after… that happened. Her face wasn’t so red, and her glasses were no longer fogged up from the heat on her face.
      “Y-Yeah, it’s good enough.” Futaba turned back to Ren, her hands behind her back. “Uhh, so… good news: I didn’t have a nervous breakdown or an accident on this trip!” She looked up with a shaky smile.
      A couple seconds later, and that smile fell back to a frown. “And that’s about where the positives end.”
      “Is that not good enough?” asked Ren.
      “Are you kidding? I almost wet myself in front of you a second time. I don’t even wanna think about all the people who might’ve seen me being marched to the bathroom like I’m five years old.” She let out a sigh as if she were deflating. “My performance today was like bronze-medal caliber at best.”
      Ren shrugged. “I thought you did alright.”
      “At least you agree with me… Wait, what?” Futaba looked up in confusion.
      “You found your way back to me when we got split up all on your own. That’s something to be proud of.”
      “I, well…” Futaba rubbed her head. “Yeah, I did do that. Still, I wanna go out one time without embarrassing myself. Just be like a total NPC, that’s all.”
      Ren chuckled. “You’ll get there. It just takes time. Think of it…” he scratched his chin for a moment. “Like your RPG’s. You don’t hit the max level from only one quest, but each one gives you more experience than you had before.”
      “Th-That…” Futaba’s eyes widened like a kid on Christmas. “That makes perfect sense! Why did I never think like that before?” She lifted her arms and looked at Ren with a smile. “Okay then, I won’t stop until I’ve completed all my tasks and maxed out my social skills tree. You can count on that!”
      Ren only smiled, for he didn’t need to say anything else.
      “Alright, just gotta remember a few tips next time we’re out. First, think of you if we end up getting separated again. Second, absolutely visit the bathroom before we go anywhere.”
      “See, that’s the spirit,” said Ren.
      “Third, bring emergency toilet paper in case the bathroom doesn’t have any.”
      Ren only blinked in response.
      “Oh, and maybe we should zip-tie our arms together so there’s no chance of us being split up again!”
      “Um, Futaba…”
      “Hee hee, I’m just joking!” About that last one, at least. She sighed and let her arms fall down, slightly swinging from the momentum. “Phew, I know we haven’t been here long, but I feel worn out.”
      “We did go through a lot today.” Ren stepped forward. “We should probably head back.”
      “I guess so,” said Futaba, turning around and setting off. “It feels kinda weird, though. We came all this way to Akihabara, but we didn’t buy anything. Would’ve been nice to have something to take back with… huh!?”
      Futaba stopped in her tracks, her jaw wide open.
      “What’s going on?” asked Ren at her side.
      Futaba lifted an arm and pointed straight forward. “Is that a retro gaming store?”
      Ren followed her hand to the storefront, its windows filled with old video games and merchandise. “Looks like it,” he said.
      “And someone I know happens to have a FamiDrive at their place. Mwehehe…” she turned to him with a smirk. “Come, Ren, it’s time to start your education of the classics.”
      Keeping that smile, Futaba set off towards the store with Ren in tow. Even with her fatigue, she was not going to miss on the chance to help bring him into her world. It was the least she could do after everything he had done for her. After this, she would have to keep working at her promise list and give it her all as a Phantom Thief. Look out, world, here comes Futaba!
    • By MasterXploder in Peesona 5
         0
      (Note: Contains story spoilers past the third palace. Reader discretion advised)
      With thanks to Big Boss for editing
       
      The subway system of Tokyo was not an experience for the claustrophobic. With hundreds of commuters crammed like sardines into the same vehicle underneath the city’s streets, it was hard for even the most intrepid travelers to not feel a little anxious. Makoto Niijima already had quite a bit to worry about before she even stepped through the train doors and was pressed together with complete strangers. This was not uncommon for her; as both president of the Shujin Academy student council and younger sister to a public prosecutor, it was rare for her to not be concerned with something.
      That had not gotten any better when she ended up becoming a Phantom Thief a month ago, entering into a world she never knew existed before. Not that she regretted such a thing, quite the opposite, as she had never felt a stronger sense of purpose than the moment she donned her thieving costume and mask. She may have looked like an upstanding honor student with her proper posture, white dress shirt, and black short pants, but in her heart, she had fully embraced the path of a rebel fighting against an unjust world.
      At the moment, however, it was rather difficult to focus on any of that. The subway ride had given her time to become aware of some unpleasant feelings radiating from her body. Her stomach felt bloated from all the sushi that she just enjoyed with her friends, and would likely remain that way for a while. It was inconvenient, but at least it would fade away over time, unlike the other pressure that currently plagued her.
      Makoto groaned and squeezed her legs together as she felt another pulse from her groin. With all the fun they were having at the sushi bar, she never once thought about visiting the restroom. Her bladder had been letting her know how big of a mistake that was since then.
      Going for long periods without a bathroom break was nothing new to her, given her many responsibilities at school and home. However, judging by the pressure, it had been quite some time since she last relieved herself, and with coffee and other drinks on top of that. Now, it was enough to make her worry. She was thankful that with so many strangers around her, chances were nobody was focused on her. That way, she could squeeze her legs and hold herself if she needed to without being seen.
      “Hey, Makoto?”
      Or so she had thought.
      “Hmm?” Makoto turned around as best she could and found Ann Takamaki, a fellow student and Phantom Thief. Now knowing that an acquaintance was next to her, she stood up straight and put her hands at her sides. “Oh! I’m sorry, did you need something?” she responded at once.
      “I was just wondering if you had thought of something. You looked like you were concentrating pretty hard.”
      I suppose I was concentrating on something, thought Makoto. “Hmm, no, I can’t say I’ve thought of anything fruitful,” she replied.
      “Me neither,” said Ann with a frown. “My brain’s been spinning in circles, but I don’t feel any closer to solving our problem than when it first came up.”
      That’s right, their problem. It had been roughly a week since Medjed had declared war on the Phantom Thieves, threatening to expose Japan’s private information if they did not unmask themselves. With their target being anonymous cyber-terrorists, they had no idea how to begin fighting such a shadowy foe. To make matters worse, Ren had begun receiving texts from a strange figure named Alibaba asking them to change the heart of one Futaba Sakura. After some detective work, they learned that Futaba was living at Sojiro’s house, the same man overseeing Ren’s probation. At one point, they had an agreement set up: the Thieves would change her heart, and Alibaba would help them with Medjed in return. Problem was, Alibaba had disappeared, and with no way for the Thieves to contact them, they were essentially back to square one.
      “I know, it’s been frustrating me too,” admitted Makoto, “But we’ll think of something. We just need to get everyone together at Leblanc first. Besides, I’ve never been able to focus very well on the subway.”
      “I guess you’re right. Better to brainstorm somewhere quiet and with all six heads put together. Well, more like five and a half with Ryuji.” Ann smiled and chuckled at her joke.
      Despite the remark’s snideness, Makoto found the laughter contagious, and put a hand to her mouth to hide her giggling. That laughter came to an immediate stop, however, as it caused yet another pulse from her bladder. Makoto winced against her wishes, her frown and eye twitch being visible for a split second.
      “Hey, something wrong?” asked a concerned-looking Ann.
      “Huh? Oh, n-no, it’s nothing,” she replied, her eyes drifting away. “I guess I’m just… a little uncomfortable right now.”
      “Uncomfortable? Are you claustrophobic, Makoto?”
      “N-not particularly.” Being honest probably was not in her best interests, but Makoto could not bring herself to lie to a friend. Beating around the bush was the most she could do.
      “So is it the sushi, then? I know I can’t believe how much I had.” Ann rubbed her stomach. “This train ride isn’t helping much, either. Hope I won’t need to make a run for the bathroom, or anything.”
      “Y-yes, me too.” Despite referring to two different uses, Makoto’s bladder let off another pang out of sympathy. Her eye twitched again, and all she could think about was something, anything to change the subject.
      “Now arriving in Yongen-Jaya Station!”
      Fortunately, she didn’t need to this time. Even without the announcement, she felt the train slowing down, and saw the lighting outside the windows change ever-so-subtly. Their platform was coming up, and it was not a long walk to the cafe from there.
      “Well, sounds like we’re at our stop,” said Makoto, turning towards the doors. “Let’s pick this back up at Leblanc, shall we?”
      “Um, okay, I guess?” Ann blinked a couple times, but did not say anything else.
      With that, the ladies and the other Thieves departed with most of the other commuters. Makoto allowed herself to sigh now that that part of her personal trial was over. Still, she needed to pee pretty badly, and waiting until she got home would be a bad idea for certain. It would be for the best if she made use of the toilet at Leblanc before too much longer.
      That, however, came with a couple issues. First and foremost was her pride, something that had rubbed off on her from her sister. Makoto may have been the newest member, but she was still the oldest among them, and their designated strategist to boot. For her to admit that she seriously had to go out of the blue would be… awkward, to say the least. Not just that, but she had been inside Leblanc before, and saw how close the toilet was next to the dining booths. With the cafe closed today, there would not be anything to hide the noises of her relief. She would never be able to walk out of there without a red face.
      Regardless, she was certain her situation would reach critical levels if she neglected the bathroom. She would have to come up with a solid plan soon, or else suffer an experience more humiliating than anything Kaneshiro had threatened her with.
       
       
      The bells above Leblanc’s door jingled as it opened, letting in the Thieves. As expected, not a soul lingered inside; even Sojiro was absent.
      “Okay, so did anyone manage to think of anything?” asked Ann as she took a seat at one of the booths. The rest of the group gathered around her, all choosing to remain standing.
      “We went through all sortsa options on our way here,” said Ryuji Sakamoto, “But, looks like we got no choice but to ask for Alibaba’s help.”
      “Question is, how do we get in touch with him?” asked Ann.
      “He cut off all contact with us after that misunderstanding,” commented Yusuke Kitagawa. “Then again, if we manage to steal Futaba’s heart, he may attempt to reach out to us once more.”
      “But we don’t have any clue what her keywords are,” said Morgana from Ren’s bookbag, “Without those, we can’t so much as set foot inside her Palace.”
      Ryuji threw a fist down in anger. “Dammit, Alibaba! Where the hell are you!?”
      Meanwhile, Makoto stood nearby with her hands held just below her navel. She did her best to listen to the conversation, but couldn’t stop herself from glancing towards the toilet every now and then. Now that she was near one, the signals from her bladder only grew stronger, like it was already preparing to release all the liquid built up inside.
      As strong as that was, her pride was a bit stronger, so she remained where she stood and tried her hardest to think of something. Trouble was, her concentration was just as weak as it was in the subway, since her urge to pee took up the majority of her thoughts. Rather than a plan to thwart Medjed, all she could come up with were plans to get into that bathroom while maintaining her dignity. Even then, they all required her figuring out what to do about their real problem first. She almost wanted to voice out loud her desire for Alibaba to only live a couple blocks away so they could take care of that problem with ease.
      Wait a minute…
      “Actually, he might be closer than we think,” Makoto chimed in.
      “Huh?” Ryuji looked towards her, as did everyone else.
      With all eyes on her, Makoto realized her theory had not completely formed, but she steeled herself and continued. “Hypothetically speaking, even if we stole Futaba’s heart, how would Alibaba know that the deed has been done? Would he truly be able to discern that just from cell phone messages?”
      The group exchanged looks among themselves for a bit. “You mean he’d have to meet her in person?” asked Morgana.
      Makoto nodded. “Alibaba was able to deliver the calling card here. On top of that, he can check on Futaba’s condition. However, according to the circumstances he put forward, he’s unable to meet with us. This leads me to believe that it would be bad for him if we were to see the two of them together.” She paused to take a breath. “It seems to me that Alibaba may in fact be Futaba herself.”
      Every eye in the room opened wide like they had just stumbled onto some rare treasure in the Metaverse. “For real!?” said Ryuji.
      “So she’s asking that we steal her own heart?” asked Yusuke.
      “Maybe she wants us to save her from the scars of her abuse?” said Ann, “That would be hard to ask directly.”
      Makoto turned to Ren and asked, “I’d like to meet with Boss. Does he live nearby?”
      “Yeah, his place is right around the corner. I could take us there now,” Ren replied.
      “Let’s all go together. Boss may get the wrong idea if Ren-kun and I show up alone.”
      Everyone nodded in agreement, and Makoto allowed a little smile to form. Perfect, she thought. With headway being made on the Medjed problem, she could now focus on her more personal matter. Luckily, she was able to devise a plan at the same time she explained her theory: Right as everyone was stepping outside, she would excuse herself to hang back and “freshen up” before meeting with Sojiro. She could pee as much as she want, and while they might suspect her, no one would be able to prove it.
      It was almost worrisome how well she had taken to the art of deception, but she would celebrate after her bladder was empty. First, she just had to say the words to get her potty plan started.
      “Yo, hold up. Can we wait just a second? I gotta take a leak first.”
      The words died in her throat at Ryuji’s declaration, replaced with surprise and worry. Another person needing the bathroom was not something she had accounted for. She had to stop herself from whining in disappointment, silently cursing herself for such an error.
      “Really? You sure now’s the best time for a bathroom break?” asked Morgana.
      “Hey, I can’t help when nature calls.” Ryuji turned and walked towards the bathroom. “I’ll just be a sec.”
      Meanwhile, Makoto could feel the panic swelling up inside. It’s alright, she told herself, This is just a little setback. As soon as Ryuji’s done, you can carry out the plan. You have this.
      “About that,” came Ren’s voice, “Our toilet’s broken right now.”
      Ryuji stopped in his tracks and turned around, his face matching how Makoto felt on the inside. “For real!?” he exclaimed.
      “Something’s wrong with the pipes, so everything’s backing up. There’s supposed to be a plumber coming to fix it tomorrow,” said Ren, rubbing the back of his head.
      “Jeez, that’s some shit luck, literally,” groaned Ryuji, his legs idly rubbing together. “So where have you and Boss been going?”
      Ren pointed to the door behind him. “We’ve been using the one at the bathhouse across the street. The owner is pretty understanding.”
      “Guess I don’t gotta choice.” Ryuji shrugged as he headed towards the front door.
      “Seriously, can’t you just hold it until we’re done talking with Sojiro?” said an annoyed Ann.
      “I would think dealing with our Alibaba problem would be a more pressing matter,” said Yusuke.
      Ryuji glared at the two. “Oh, come on! Do you guys wanna try talking to Boss on a full bladder? I know I don’t!”
      Ann looked away, her fierce look gone. “Um, no, but…”
      “Great, argument over! Be right back!” Ryuji declared as he beelined for the door, going through before anyone could say anything else.
      The group remained silent for a few seconds after the door slammed and the bells quit jingling.
      “Hmm, and I took him for the kind of person who would make use of the sink and be done with it,” commented Yusuke.
      “Ugh, can we move on from the pee talk now? Talk about gross,” said Ann with a grimace.
      “Y-yes, I agree,” Makoto chimed in. “We need to stay focused on the task at hand.” She hoped the pain of having to say those words did not show in her voice.
      “Then I suggest we set off before any further interruptions can occur,” said Yusuke, getting nods from everyone else.
      One by one, the group walked out of the cafe. Despite being closest to the door, Makoto was the last to leave, pausing to take one last look at the broken bathroom with a frown.
      Her plan had been doomed from the start. That was enough to set her insides quivering with worry. Now what was she going to do? The Bathhouse was not an option; there was no way she could use her “freshen up” excuse and expect her friends to buy it. Even then, they had made their desire to go straight to Sojiro’s house clear, especially after the hard time they gave Ryuji. Her chances of reaching a good toilet stealthily seemed worse than beating Medjed right now.
      No, I can’t give up now! She thought, shaking her head and furrowing her brow. I didn’t despair in front of Kaneshiro’s shadow, and I won’t let this beat me, either! On her honor as the Phantom Thieves’ Strategist, she would find a solution to her problem, and rise above it without a stain on her.
       
       
      It had only been a few minutes later, but each one felt like an hour to Makoto. After waiting for Ryuji to get out of the bathhouse, they made their way towards Sojiro’s house. Makoto hung behind the others to hide her stiff walking and occasional hand pressed to her groin, though it did little to alleviate the pressure at that point.
      But soon enough, they had reached the house. For what seemed like the umpteenth time, the soft sound of a doorbell ringing filled the small street. Makoto retracted her finger again and deepened her frown.
      “Nobody’s answering,” she groaned, “But the lights are on…”
      “Think he’s nappin’?” asked Ryuji.
      “Even Boss would’ve woken up with how many times we’ve rung this doorbell,” said Ann.
      “I would think Futaba would have answered now if she were here, too,” added Morgana.
      Yusuke looked at the gate blocking the front yard, and pushed on it. To everyone’s surprise, it pushed open, giving them a clear path to the door.
      “Dude, you can’t go openin’ other people’s stuff like that,” said Ryuji.
      Makoto looked towards the front door and pointed. “But look. The door seems to be slightly open as well. I wonder why. That’s rather careless.”
      As she kept glancing towards the door, Makoto couldn’t help but think of another plan to safely and discreetly relieve herself. Not that she had success with that; even if Sojiro let them in, how was she supposed to excuse herself without anyone catching on? Nobody being home would be her best bet, but then that raised the moral issue of just walking in and using someone’s toilet without their permission.
      The debate continued in her head until a flash of light and rumbling noise caught everyone’s attention. They all turned their heads to the skies and saw the thick, dark clouds heading their way.
      “Whoa, it sounds like it’s going to rain!” said a wide-eyed Morgana. “We should get inside!”
      Gladly! is what Makoto wanted to say, but even with her bladder fit to burst, she thought better. “Do you think that’s okay?” she asked the others.
      “Prolly?” said Ryuji with a mischievous grin.
      That was all the reasoning she needed. “My apologies, Boss!” she declared as she and the rest of the gang quickly made their way inside the house.
      A dark hallway greeted the group once past the doors, with only a crack of light and the faint noise of a TV show at the very end. Not a soul could be found within, giving the house a foreboding atmosphere.
      “Hello, sir?” called out Makoto, her voice losing its confident tone.
      Nobody responded, the sound of thunder filling the gap and everyone removing their shoes.
      “He’s not out, is he?” she continued, stepping forward on bare feet. “The door ahead is open, and I can hear the TV.”
      “I hope he didn’t pass out or something. I mean, Boss is kinda old, ain’t he?” said Ryuji.
      “I’m a bit worried. Should we go in and check on him?” said Ann.
      If it gives me the chance to find the bathroom… “Please excuse us,” she mumbled while they proceeded forward.
      For every step taken further into the house, Makoto felt the chill in her spine grow deeper. She may have infiltrated a Palace to steal its treasure, but trespassing in Sojiro’s home gave her a sense of dread that dwarfed her Metaverse adventures. At least, that’s what she would say if someone questioned her as to why her walk was so stiff now. She wished the doors in the hall weren’t all closed; she might have passed up a good bathroom and had no idea.
      Just as they were about to reach the hall’s end, a bright flash and loud boom went off from outside, and what little light was in the house shut off. An instant later, the group heard a young, feminine shriek from somewhere in the house.
      “A scream!? What was that!?” Suddenly, Makoto felt like a character in a horror movie, her least favorite genre by far.
      “H-How should I know?” replied Morgana.
      Another noise came up, like a door being closed nearby.
      “Did you hear that!?’ said Makoto.
      “Could it be Alibaba… I mean, Futaba?” said Morgana.
      “Can we get out of here, please?” said Ann.
      Makoto didn’t catch the rest of the conversation, too focused on the pounding in her heart and bladder. All she knew at that moment was she was behind Ann a hundred percent on leaving the house. However, her legs felt unstable from both the fear and how bad she had to go. If she was going to go anywhere, she would need help.
      Turning to Ren, Makoto held out a shaky hand. “Um, sorry,” she mumbled, “Can I hold onto you?”
      Ren nodded and turned around, and Makoto wasted no time in putting her hands on his shoulder, holding onto him for dear life. They took baby steps on their way back to the door, the hallway growing longer and menacing with each step. Meanwhile, Makoto’s eyes darted about, trying to find anything that looked like a dangerous monster about to kill them.
      All the while, her hold was the weakest it had ever been. The pulses from her bladder quivered as fast as her heartbeat. It felt like it would only take one false move for her to leave a large stain on Sojiro’s carpet.
      Wood creaked somewhere nearby.
      “Eek!” Makoto shut her eyes and squeezed Ren’s arm harder than ever. She only barely registered a bit of warmth appearing in her underwear.
      “I can sense someone’s presence,” said Yusuke.
      “Who is it? Who’s there!?” Makoto turned her head all around to find her would-be murderer. Still, nobody could be found in the darkness other than Ren.
      Her breath labored, heart pounding, and bladder about to burst, she had had enough. “I can’t take this anymore! I’m leaving!” she yelled with her eyes shut, attempting to take another step.
      But her legs refused to cooperate. Rather than moving forward, all the strength in her legs disappeared at once. She fell onto her knees, only supported by her death grip on Ren. Another spurt of pee escaped into her clothes, this time making the wetness pass into her pants.
      “M-Makoto?” asked Ren.
      “N-no… I can’t move,” she whimpered. She felt more frightened in that moment than if a Shadow had inflicted the Fear ailment on her.
      That fear only grew bigger as she got the feeling that someone or something was very close to her, and she knew it wasn’t Ren. As much as she wanted to close her eyes and pretend everything was fine, Makoto turned her head at a snail’s pace to look behind her.
      Someone was there. She couldn’t make them out, but she knew when someone was in her personal space. A flash of lightning then confirmed her fears. She only had time to process the reflection of eyewear, orange hair color, and an emotionless expression before instinct took over.
      “Aaaaaahhhhhh!”
      “Waaaahhh!”
      Makoto’s legs came back to life for a split second, letting her jump back out of desperation to get away. At the same time, the figure of maybe-Futaba shrieked and ran off. However, Makoto did not even register that she was safe again. Her brain had entered into full fight-or-flight, with the same unfortunate effect as earlier. Her legs quickly gave out once more, and she fell to her knees, grabbing on to Ren’s leg for dear life.
      “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry, please save me, sis!” cried Makoto, her head held low and eyes shut.
      Fully enveloped in her panic, Makoto only paid the slightest sliver of mind towards the growing warmth at her groin. The scare from the shadow was the last break in concentration her bladder needed in order to finally do its job. Pee quickly flowed out into her underwear and pants, soaking her groin within seconds. It was not much longer before it broke through the outermost barrier, starting as broken drops and forming into a stream that broke apart within inches, making a soft piddling sound on the carpet. The rest of her legs were not spared, either, as trails ran down to her knees and pooled there.
      But that didn’t matter in the least to her right now. Somehow, even after being held at the mercy of a ruthless gangster in both the real world and the Metaverse, Makoto had never felt more scared in her life than she did now. She prayed as hard as she could for someone, anyone, to save her from the darkness.
      “Are you okay, Futaba!?”
      Sojiro’s voice came loud and clear through the front door, which swung open moments later. It may have been someone she knew, but hearing the Boss speak in such a threatening way did not quell her panic inside.
      “Who the hell are you? Don’t move, you hear me!” Makoto could hear Sojiro grabbing something. Light then hit the side of her face, making her open her eyes at last. She slowly turned to face Sojiro, whose expression went from fury to surprise.
      “N-Niijima-san? Amamiya? What are you doing here?” asked Sojiro.
      “G-Good evening, sir,” she mumbled.
      Sojiro’s eyes went down as something else caught his eye. “Are you… wetting yourself?”
      In that moment, Makoto no longer cared about her life being in danger. Unfortunately, the panic inside her changed target, and for the first time, Makoto became fully aware that she was peeing her pants.
      “Ah! Oh, no no no no no…” she muttered as she looked at the big wet patch still growing beneath her. Not only that, but Sojiro’s flashlight now lit up the dark patch on her pants and the stream petering to a stop, putting the gross, wet warmth on her legs at the forefront of her mind.
      For a moment, Makoto could not believe that what was happening was real. Shujin’s class president and upstanding younger sister to a prosecutor kneeling on the ground and having an accident, let alone while hugging a friend’s leg? It was more unbelievable than an alternate world made up of humanity’s twisted desires. Yet, it was happening right now, and she had no choice but to believe it, as did the rest of the people in the house.
      “M-Makoto?” Ren gasped as he looked down at her.
      “Whoa! She really is pissin’ herself!” said Ryuji.
      “Does she have severe nyctophobia?” asked Yusuke.
      “I thought I smelled something gross,” said Morgana, his nose wrinkling up.
      “Would it kill you all to show some concern!?” Ann marched straight up to Makoto and knelt down, placing an arm around her shoulders. “Are you okay, Makoto?”
      Makoto looked at Ann, her face red and eyes moist with tears ready to fall. “I… I…”
      Ann wrapped her other arm around Makoto’s stomach. “I’ll help clean you up. Can we borrow your bathroom, Boss?”
      “Uh, sure, it’s the door at the end of the hall,” replied Sojiro, “But I want an explanation from everyone when you’re done, got it?”
      “Sure thing.” Ann looked back to Makoto. “You ready to stand up?”
      Makoto could not speak, so she gave a shaky nod instead. She wanted to go somewhere a lot further away, but the bathroom would have to do.
      “Alright, up we go,” said Ann before Makoto found herself being lifted to her feet. They made their march to the bathroom, Makoto’s legs feeling weak but still carrying her every step of the way.
       
       
      “Well, at least we know for sure that a girl lives here now.”
      It was the only light thing Ann had said since they entered Sojiro’s bathroom. Her statement referred to the hair dryer she found in the cabinet, which she was using to dry off Makoto’s pants and panties, both sprayed with perfume to try and mask the smell. Both girls were thankful that the power kicked back on right as they entered the bathroom.
      Makoto, meanwhile, sat on the toilet, entirely bottomless with just her hands and shirt to preserve her modesty. The irony of the moment was not lost on her.
      “Um, so, are you cleaned up?” asked Ann, keeping her focus on the wet clothes in front of her.
      “Mmm, y-yes,” replied Makoto, her voice carrying no energy. Her legs and elsewhere were dry again, for as much comfort as that was.
      Ann sighed. “I guess that’s good. Means something’s getting dry.”
      Things getting dry was the least of Makoto’s concerns. Her legs were already fine again, and her clothes could be cleaned or even thrown out. No, she was worried over the irreparable damage to her dignity. It was not even a month ago that she had opened herself up to her new friends and earned their respect as a dependable Phantom Thief. Had she already destroyed all that with her utterly humiliating accident tonight? They would never look at her the same way again, that much was certain.
      “Um, Makoto?”
      Makoto stared into the room’s corner.
      “I can probably guess what you’re thinking right now.”
      “Hmm?” Now she had no choice but to pay attention. “Y-You do?”
      Ann nodded. “I just want you to know, this doesn’t change my respect for you. In fact, I think I can relate to you a little more now.”
      “Y-You can?” Makoto had expected a few responses to try and cheer her up, but this was not one of them. “How so?”
      “Well, not the ‘fear of the dark’ part, but…” Ann paused for a moment. “Back when I first moved here from Europe, everything felt so foreign and weird to me. The worst of it was getting used to the squat toilets.”
      “The squat toilets?” Makoto blinked in surprise. She never considered that someone outside the country would have difficulty adjusting to something she learned to use as a little kid.
      Ann nodded. “I hated those things. Never wanted to use them… but, I was at a photoshoot one day, and I really had to pee, but they didn’t have any western toilets nearby.”
      Makoto had an inkling how this story would end, but couldn’t stop herself. “What happened?”
      “I thought I could hold it until I got home,” continued Ann, “but the shoot ended up taking way longer than they said it would. I got on the train back home, but then I…” It was Ann’s turn to look away with a blush. “You can probably guess what happened next.”
      “Y-You didn’t!?” Makoto motioned to cover her mouth, but remembered there would be little to keep her modest.
      “I did. In the train. With the whole car to witness it.” Ann’s cringe became greater with each statement. “It was my worst day in Tokyo up to that point. If I didn’t have school the next day, I probably would have never left my house.”
      “Goodness,” muttered Makoto. She had thought many things of Ann before, but “Public Pants-wetter” was not one of them. Even now, she had trouble imagining Ann in the subway, red-faced and teary-eyed as dark streaks ran down her red leggings among a crowd of people crammed together. Then again, she found nothing but sincerity in the way Ann told it, and Makoto had heard about how bad she was at acting.
      “If I may ask,” Makoto continued, “How did you get over it?”
      “It took a long time. Having to deal with stuff like Kamoshida and being a Phantom Thief helped me remember there are bigger things to worry about, though. I can also say I learned how to use a squat toilet pretty quickly after that,” Ann replied with a nervous laugh.
      “I can imagine,” said Makoto, scratching her cheek.
      “But I guess what I’m trying to say is, yeah, peeing your pants sucks, but it doesn’t mean you can’t bounce back from it. Heck, if I could get over it, I know you can for sure.”
      For the first time that evening, Makoto felt some of the dark clouds inside her lifting away. “You r-really think so?”
      “Totally!” Ann raised a fist. “You’re a kick-butt Phantom Thief now. There’s no way a mistake like this can take all that away.”
      Makoto could not help but smile a little in the face of Ann’s cheering in such a bizarre moment. “Hee hee, then I suppose I’ll just have to keep being ‘kick-butt’ to make up for this.”
      “That’s the spirit!” Ann shot a smile, then looked back to the clothes on the sink. “Well, it looks like this is as dry as they’re gonna get right now. It’s a good thing you wore dark pants today.”
      “Mmm,” Makoto sighed as she remembered what was to come next. “I suppose we should get going. I don’t want to keep Boss waiting any longer than I need to.”
      “Same.” Ann shut off the hair dryer, handed Makoto her clothes, and turned around.
      With as much privacy as she would get, Makoto stood up and slowly pulled her underwear and pants back on. The dampness brushing against her thighs and other places felt awkward, but not nearly as much as when she first wet them.
      “I have to admit, I am not looking forward to meeting with everyone again after this,” she lamented.
      “I don’t think anybody would.” Ann turned to face Makoto. “But just remember, if not for your smarts, we’d never have figured out who Alibaba was.”
      “I guess that’s true.”
      “And if they still try to say anything, feel free to slap them. Twice as hard if it’s Ryuji, okay?” Ann giggled.
      “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” said Makoto, covering her smile with a hand.
      With that, the girls departed from the bathroom. A hint of red still remained on Makoto’s face, but at least she had found the resolve to head out and face the world again. She now knew Ann was right, and that someday, she would be able to wash this stain off her image and continue to do right by her friends and the world as a true Phantom Thief.