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female A Stain on Her Image

(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.



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