An alternate take on the interrogation with Sae Niijima: the tale of the Phantom Thieves' first six excursions fails to register any good faith with her. To earn her trust, Joker tells her more; without revealing his confidants' identities, he tells her of how he formed his bonds with each of them. As Sae slowly registers the personal motivations of the Phantom Thieves and the lives that they've changed, the Judgment link slowly grows to accept Joker's tale.
Humorous bordering on crack and with the pairing of Joker and Makoto, mixed with the suspense and heartwarming nature of the game, each chapter focuses on one confidant.
It can also be found here.
A sequel, Believe in Me, was completed three months later. It details the confidants' endeavors for Joker after the events on Christmas Eve.
BEWARE OF UNMARKED SPOILERS FOR PERSONA 5 BELOW.
Tropes contained in Confide in Me:
- Actually Pretty Funny: In Chapter 8, Joker makes a couple of corny jokes while talking about Yusuke. Sae claims that the twitching in her lips is just her trying not to sigh.Joker: ...Why would my jokes make you say your own name?
Sae: (rolls eyes)
- A-Cup Angst: In Chapter 15, Futaba wonders if eating healthier will make her grow in all the right places like Ann and Haru. Makoto, who she asked, wonders why Futaba hadn't mentioned her as well, and Futaba's Innocently Insensitive nature means that she doesn't see what Makoto means.
- Adults Are Useless: Alluded to in Chapter 5 when Joker talks about his bond with Takemi, and Sae is surprised that the Phantom Thieves trusted any adults.
- Alternate Universe: The premise alone is this, but Joker's relationship with Makoto leads to him coming to several realizations that he never had at this point in the game. In particular, the fact that Masayoshi Shido was the man responsible for his criminal record.
- In Chapter 22, Morgana pipes a word in while Alibaba is speaking to Sae in the Metaverse, which means that when Sae arrives at Leblanc at the end of the chapter, she can hear his real voice in cat form.
- Armor-Piercing Question: In Chapter 6, Sae realizes how much she was neglecting Makoto when Joker reveals that Kaneshiro, whom Sae was trying to investigate, had targeted Makoto with blackmail, and what circumstances had led to Makoto being targeted. Joker accurately 'guesses' that she said something she regretted. Then...Joker: Niijima-san, would you have preferred that we left this to you or the police now?
Sae: I...don't know.
- Armor-Piercing Response: Chapter 6:Sae: History doesn't look well on people like you. People who try to change society by force.
Joker: (smirking) It does if they succeed.
- Babies Ever After: The ending flashes far into the future, wherein Makoto tells Ren, her husband, that she's pregnant.
- Berserk Button: Makoto is this for Sae; Joker intentionally avoids bringing her up by name for the most part.
- And Sae loses whatever sympathy she had for the late Kobayakawa when she learns that the principal blackmailed Makoto into investigating the Phantom Thieves.
- At the end of Chapter 19, Sae accepts, with forced calm, that Makoto is one of Joker's confidants. In the following chapter, Joker tries her temper frequently when he says what he likes about her.
- Big "NO!": In Chapter 15, Futaba does this to Joker after getting over her BSoD from the latter suggesting that she and Fox were dating.
- Blatant Lies: In a flashback to the Niijimas' childhood in Chapter 20, Sae does this a lot in a vain attempt to persuade anyone, including herself, that she's a mature adult. She doesn't still like sleeping with her plush dolls, Jack Frost is just scared of the dark. She's not playing a game by sneaking up on her father with a manga held upside-down in her hands, she's just testing his alertness.
- Cliffhanger: Chapter 20 ends with Joker telling Sae that his final confidant, Makoto, is his girlfriend of several months.
- Comically Missing the Point: Sae asks if any of his female confidants are his mysterious girlfriend and is shot down every time. When Joker mentions returning some of Makoto's feelings, Sae immediately assumes Ren is cheating on his girlfriend and is blindsided when Ren admits Makoto is his girlfriend.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: In Chapter 17, Makoto threatens to pay Eiko back for the relentless teasing of her relationship with Joker by including extra calculus in their tutoring session.
- Deadpan Snarker: Joker. In order to try keeping his cool throughout the pain of the beating and drugs, he erodes Sae's.
- Death Glare: The Niijima family seems to be proficient in this; Chapter 11 has Joker mention that he learned it from Makoto, who learned it from Sae, who learned it from her father, and so Joker dubbed it the Niijima Death Glare. Chapter 15 shows that Futaba learned it as well, and Makoto is so proud. And Chapter 20 shows that they had mastered it from the time Sae was almost done with elementary school and Makoto was just 3.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: The whole point of the story is to earn Sae's trust one hundred percent so that she'll be able to save his life when her interrogation ends.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: This exchange from Chapter 20:Joker: So would this be a bad time to mention that she wanted to go to the Red Light District together afterwards.
Sae: Excuse me!?
Joker: O-Oh, well, I mean, she wanted to go, but I told her 'I'm sorry, Makot-...err, Niijima-sempai, but that's very irresponsible, not to mention that your incredibly smart and talented older sister would never approve of t-
Sae: Yeah, nice try. Now why don't you tell me what really happened?
Sae: You have five seconds to explain before I wring your neck.
Joker: You wouldn't do that...
Joker: Like I said, she wanted me to go there with her!
Joker: We were pretending to be a couple!
Joker: She wanted to meet with this club host.
Joker: (originally written without spaces) She was really worried about a fellow classmate because of rumors that she was seen at the Red Light District so she asked for my help and we found out she had a boyfriend who was also a club host so she asked me if we could pretend to date so we could go on a double date and investigate him!
Sae: (Death Glare)
- Double Entendre: In Chapter 20, Makoto texted Joker "Let's do it in the student council room. I'll leave the back entrance open for you." She was referring to talking to Eiko about her time in the Red Light District but left Joker flustered, and apparently, Eiko was the one to point it out judging by her laughing her head off and Makoto apologizing profusely when Joker arrived.
- Dramatic Irony:
- In Chapter 5, flashing back to when he first formed a bond with Takemi, Joker reflects that the police would never catch him in the Metaverse.
- Embarrassing Nickname:
- Chapter 14 alludes to the anime as it mentions that Ryuji calls Joker "Renren."
- In Chapter 15, Futaba calls Joker a 'nasty crimeboy,' an attempt at an insult by Panther in Chapter 3.
- In Chapters 15 and 16, Makoto has two. "Beep Boop" to reference how she seemed robotic to other students for a long time and Mamakoto as Team Mom. Also, Ren calls Futaba "squid girl." Reason why in Shout-Out below.
- Futaba gives all the Thieves embarrassing chat nicknames when they tease her over her relationship with Yusuke in Chapter 16. Haru becomes Fivehead, Yusuke becomes Stupid_Inari, Ann becomes Ditzy_Blonde, Ryuji gets Mona's_Chew_Toy, Makoto gets the two mentioned above and Ren gets Renren_The_Nasty_Crimeboy.
- Exact Words: Throughout the interrogation, Joker invokes this when he has to answer Sae's questions about his girlfriend in order to tell the truth and still keep the secret that said girlfriend is Sae's younger sister.
- Chapter 10:Sae: Do your girlfriend's parents know she's dating you?
Joker: Told you, it's a secret. Her caretaker doesn't know about us.
Sae: They must be pretty neglectful then, if they don't even know that the person that they're supposed to be taking care of is dating a criminal.
Joker: (smirking) I love it when we agree on things, Niijima-san.
- Chapter 15: On the subject of the police force and the corruption therein:Joker: See, my girlfriend's dad was a cop, and she's got nothing but good things to say about them.
Sae: Anyone I would know?
Joker: I...would think so, yes.
- Chapter 16: Not long after Joker says that his girlfriend has an older sibling:Sae: ...Why don't you tell me about the elder sibling?
Joker: They're quite stern, but they're a good person once you get to know them.
Sae: Another confidant, perhaps?
Joker: I think they might be! We've been talking a lot more recently.
- Different instance: Joker recalls an incident where he proposed studying "adult things" with Makoto around exam time. She spent an hour teaching him how to file taxes. Sae actually chuckles at that.
- Chapter 10:
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In Chapter 19, Sae considers what Joker says about the traitor to their group; namely, that there was no traitor because anyone who would sell them out was never one of them in the first place. When Sae runs over the seven human suspects of the Phantom Thieves, she realizes that that was precisely how Joker defined Goro Akechi. Then, through the revelations of the Devil confidant, she realizes that Akechi is responsible for the mental shutdowns, and through the fact that Joker said he trusted her with his life in Chapter 11, she then realizes that they're planning to assassinate him.
- Fake Memories: In Chapter 9, Joker falsely remembers failing to stop Kaneshiro and having Makoto sold off as a prostitute, utterly shattering his composure. Fortunately, Sae snaps him out of it and calms him down.
- Fee Fi Faux Pas: In Chapter 15, Futaba asks Makoto if she's a neetnote . Makoto, unaware of the lingo, responds that she thinks Futaba is very neat.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Mentioned by name in Chapter 11 by Joker, alluding to the other thieves.
- Freudian Slip:
- The truth serum makes Joker slip up and mention Morgana's real name. Of course, considering that Morgana isn't humanwhich he also disclosesit's not a particularly important slip-up.
- Later, while discussing the Emperor Confidant, he mentions Yusuke's real name several times. Sae doesn't realize it until later, but Joker manages to pass it off as drug-induced confusion.
- Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: When Joker breaks down from the Fake Memories and Sae realizes that he's hallucinating rather than lying, she immediately tries to make him recall what really happened. Thankfully, she succeeds.
- Giving Up on Logic: Chapter 17:Sae: Just so we're clear...you tried to change the heart of a notorious cheater, and, failing to do that, you had an elementary schooler teach you how to play an arcade game so you could beat him.
Joker: Yes. You sound...surprisingly calm about this.
Sae: I just accepted that there's another world out there based on people's cognition, and that in your gym teacher's cognition, you found a talking cat that can transform into a van. Of all the crazy things you've told me, this doesn't even crack the top 5.
- Heel Realization: Sae goes through this the more that Joker earns her trust, realizing that she was too caught up in winning and moving ahead to focus on what mattered most.
- Chapter 3 has her ask Joker if there was any cognitive version of Makoto in her casino palace. Joker responds in the negative...which, based on the experience with Okumura, indicates that she had no feelings for Makoto, neither love nor hate. Joker consoles her that at least there wasn't a distorted version of her.
- Chapter 6 has Joker informing her that Makoto became Kaneshiro's target because she desperately wanted to prove she wasn't useless. This, of course, happened soon after Sae let her stress get the better of her and called Makoto useless. This goes so far that she sincerely thanks Joker for saving her sister.
- Chapter 16 has her realizing the full scope of how far she's fallen from justice, and it crosses over with My God, What Have I Done? in magnitude. This is where she truly puts her priorities back in the proper order.
- Heroic BSoD:
- Joker in Chapter 9 when he falsely remembers that Makoto was sold off by Kaneshiro. Thankfully, Sae snaps him out of it.
- Played for Laughs in Chapter 15 when Futaba complains about Fox taking her to an art museum; she enters this when Joker insinuates that he took her on a date.
- Again in Chapter 16 when Joker calls Futaba family; she does this for a bit before glomping Joker.
- Sae in Chapter 21. She's already having trouble parsing that Joker is dating Makoto, but she enters one of these when she realizes that Makoto gave him a hickey. She takes a while to snap out of it, too.
- Hidden Depths: This story shows that Joker is rather insecure about the bonds he has, worried that after his old friends cut ties with him and he had no contact with his parents since he moved to Tokyo he could lose the new place he's found to belong.
- Hurricane of Puns: When discussing taking down Okumura in Chapter 18, Joker decides to live up to his name, triggering the following:Joker: I just hope we can mustard the courage to take him down.
Oracle: ...You've been spending too much time around Fox.
Fox: Well, I for one relish his sense of humor.
Skull: I'm going on ahead! Try to ketchup!
Noir: Um...Lettuce forge onwards, everyone.
Oracle: Urrgh...what have I started?
Panther: Okumura's in a real pickle now!
Mona: Yeah, he's about to meat his maker.
(everyone looks at Queen)
Queen: M-Me too?
Oracle: Don't do it, Queen! You're better than them! You have dignity!
Queen: ...Ignore the small fries everyone! We're after the big cheese himself!
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Sae in Chapter 6, thanks to Joker. She doesn't get to indulge until the last chapter, though.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: In Chapter 14, Sojiro asks Joker about some expensive beans going missing. Joker asks if he didn't just use the Blue Mountain beans and forgot, and Sojiro points out he never said which beans he was talking about. He lets it slide when he learns that Joker made it for his girlfriend.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In Chapter 18, Haru confesses her feelings for Joker - as the latter's already in a relationship with Makoto by that point, he politely declines and admits he only sees Haru as a friend. Although she's unsurprisingly heartbroken, Haru takes the loss in stride and eventually reconciles with Makoto over a night of ice cream and horror movies.
- Jade-Colored Glasses:
- In Chapter 2, Joker lectures on how the opinion of the general public towards corruption inevitably turns towards this, justifying the Phantom Thieves' actions.
- Joker had been pretty nonchalant before the incident that got him arrested. Afterward, he lost what little drive he did have until he met his friends and formed the Phantom Thieves.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Joker remembers Akechi's treachery with perfect clarity this time, but the story hints that he's forgotten something else, something involving Makoto and Kaneshiro. It comes to a head in Chapter 9 when we find out he was falsely recalling the Bad Ending of failing to change Kaneshiro's heart, wherein Makoto was sold off as a prostitute and he was arrested as an accomplice. With some difficulty, he realizes that the memory is false and dismisses it.
- Meaningful Echo: Throughout the interrogation, Joker mentions several phrases or ideas that allude to Sae's Shadow, stirring the memories within her.
- In Chapter 3, and later in Chapter 17, the phrase "fair and square."
- In Chapter 5, people who prioritize their careers over doing the right thing.
- A different echo: in Chapter 8, Joker asks for a break to get his head together and Niijima refuses. In the following chapter, after he breaks down from a drug-induced fake memory, he comes clean about his faked calm and requests a moment again. This time, Niijima complies.
- At the end of Chapter 1, Joker pleads with Sae to hear him out about his confidants, desperate to earn her favor so he won't be killed. It takes 15 seconds for Sae to agree. At the end of Chapter 21, when the interrogation comes to an end, Joker pleads with Sae to take care of Makoto and tell her that he loves her if something goes wrong. Another pause of 15 seconds later, Sae reassures Joker that he can tell her himself when he sees her again.
- Medium Awareness: In Joker's initial testimony in Chapter 1, he mentions some of the SIU Director's conversations with himself or Shido when nobody was around. When it's pointed out, he blames it on the truth serum.
- Mistaken for Gay: After Joker finishes telling Sae about his bond with Fox, she comes to the conclusion that the two of them are dating. Joker disabuses her, but it was not an unreasonable assumption considering the context from Fox's social ineptitude...Sae: (thinking) He [Joker] offered to strip in the church for him, keeps inviting him to eat, they rode in that boat together, and he [Fox] called him his Light and hope.
- Mushroom Samba: Played for Drama when the police's drugging of Joker causes him to have a false memory of Kaneshiro successfully forcing Makoto into Sex Slavery, and he is so utterly horrified and guilt-ridden for letting this happen that he actually wants Akechi to kill him. Fortunately, Sae snaps him out of it.
- My God, You Are Serious: When Joker freaks out in Chapter 9 at Makoto being sold as a prostitute, Sae is livid at the false testimony until she sees the heartbroken expression on his face and realizes he believes what he's saying, shortly followed by the realization that he's hallucinating.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!:
- In Chapter 11, Joker takes the revelation that Mishima has a crush on Futaba (who Joker views as a surrogate sister) very poorly, in part because Mishima initially believed her to be a lewd camgirl of all things solely because she said she used the internet a lot.
- Sae does not take the revelation that Joker is dating her sister Makoto particularly well.
- Mythology Gag: Several.
- Joker's real name in the story is Ren Amamiya, the name he has in Persona 5: The Animation.
- Likewise, Ryuji's embarrassing nickname for him, Renren.
- In Chapter 4 (among others), Joker alludes to Morgana's in-game refusal to allow Joker to do anything when he needs sleep. Commencing their conversation where Morgana worries about his usefulness, the cat tells Joker that it's more important than sleep and he thinks for a minute that Morgana is an impostor.
- In Chapter 8, the ill-fated incident Ren mentions where he and Makoto handed finance control to the other Phantom Thieves originates from the Dengeki Manga anthology. Chapter 15 does the same, mentioning Futaba having met Mika.
- In Chapter 11, Sae mentions that the school should get a counselor, who could even end up being a confidant. Joker scoffs at the idea. Persona 5 Royal introduces Dr. Maruki, who does indeed become a confidant of the Counsellor Arcana. Chapter 15 also alludes to it, with Chihaya finding the Faith and Consultant arcana in her Tarot deck and musing that they weren't in it before.
- Chapter 15:
- A good chunk of the dialogue between Makoto and Futaba comes from their interaction in Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight.
- Joker mentions having a weird dream about going to a place called the World of Light, where he met a giant floating hand, a blue puffball with a mask and a part-squid girl who resembled Futaba. All of this is a reference to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where Joker is a playable fighter.
- In Chapter 18, Haru references this anime-exclusive moment.
- In Chapter 19, Ren mentions that Futaba had given him some tips on negotiating with Shadows that led to him doing impersonations of motorcycles and airplanes. Apparently, she got the idea from a video game.
- In Chapter 20, Eiko remarks that Joker looks more like an Akira, his real name in the manga.
- Joker's real name in the story is Ren Amamiya, the name he has in Persona 5: The Animation.
- Prematurely Grey-Haired: At the end of Chapter 5 when Joker says that his girlfriend isn't as old as Sae, the latter wonders how old he thinks she is. He begins to allude to this trope and she angrily changes the subject.
- Punctuated Pounding: After Sae remarks on how many intense women Joker knows, he makes a wisecrack about another one who keeps assaulting his eardrums...by banging on a table.Sae: (SLAM)
Sae: (SLAM) What's that? I can't hear you.
Joker: At this point, I'm surprised I can hear myself.
Sae: (SLAM) You hear that?
Sae: Good. Now that we've established who's in charge, let's continue.
- Pungeon Master: Joker lives up to his name in this story.
- Rage Breaking Point: After having to deal with gossip and rumors about him for months, Joker finally loses his temper and storms out of the library during a study session with Makoto in Chapter 20.
- Reality Ensues: As is the case in the original game, Joker couldn't immediately return the model gun Iwai hands-off to him because he didn't have the Guts to confront him about it. Unlike the game, Iwai comments that Joker took a really long time to bring it back.Iwai: Didn't I give this to you over two months ago?
Joker: You're a... very intimidating person.
Iwai: You shop here all the time. Why the hell couldnt you give it to me any of those times?
- Running Gag:
- Sae slamming the table when she gets frustrated, taken from the game but taken to extremes; she even notes that her hands are starting to hurt in Chapter 14.
- Joker bringing up taking the Big Bang Burger challenge to develop his skills.
- Ship Tease:
- Futaba and Yusuke; despite the former's vehement denial, her actions tell another story.
- This story teases Eiko and Ryuji at a few points. And at the end of the sequel, he asks her out.
- In Chapter 1, Sae quotes Abridged Vegeta when asking how Joker could possibly know about a private conversation the SIU Director had at the start of the game, asking "How did you know about the parts you weren't there for?" Joker doesn't actually know the answer.
- In Chapter 8, Yusuke is revealed to have named the two lobsters. The first being Leonardo da Pinchi. The other is named Ryoma, referencing both the Lobster Lord meme and possibly an Actor Allusion to Matt Mercer.
- In Chapter 10, Joker muses on combining Hifumi's and Makoto's hobbies into Shogi on motorcycles.
- In the same chapter, Hifumi quotes Owain and his daughter Ophelia from Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates, a fitting series of games for someone who likes strategy games.
- In Chapter 12, we get this exchange:
- In Chapter 15, Joker mentions to Futaba that he had a strange dream about being in a place called the World of Light where he fought a giant floating hand that laughed in his voice, a masked knight that was a blue puffball beneath his mask, and a girl that looked like Futaba but was part squid.
- The whole chapter is filled with Video Game shout-outs, typical for Futaba. Examples include her saying "I am error" and to make like a "hedgehog and spin dash out."
- In Chapter 17, when talking about Shinya, Joker mentions his nickname of the King, and Sae asks if he means the King of Games.
- In Chapter 21, after finally revealing his relationship with Makoto, Ren jokes to Sae about the latter having an outlaw for an in-law.
- In Chapter 22, when Morgana pipes up during Alibaba's call to Sae, Futaba tells him to "stop pulling a Nebby and get back in the bag!"
- At one point, Joker wonders if Morgana could actually be a green-haired goddess.
- Stepford Snarker: Joker.
- In Chapter 7, he uses this to try fending off the increasingly intense pain and influence of his injuries and the truth serum. It lasts a couple of chapters before he finally snaps and breaks down after hallucinating Fake Memories; after Sae helps him pull himself together, he goes back to being genuine...but still a little snarky.
- He tries this in Chapter 8 as well, during the flashback to the beach trip, trying to remain composed as the leader that the Phantom Thieves need, but Yusuke sees through it and helps to work him out of his shell.
- Stunned Silence: Sae, upon realizing Joker and Makoto are in a relationship. For ten lines.
- Swear Jar: In Chapter 6, flashbacks reveal that Kawakami got fed up enough with Joker's snark that she started charging a little extra for it.
- Team Dad and Team Mom: Joker and Makoto fall into these roles for the Phantom Thieves, with Futaba remarking on it in Chapter 15 and the interactions with her highlighting it.
- Tranquil Fury: Makoto shows this in a flashback in regards to Ryuji and Ann being...less than responsible with their money.
- Trying Not to Cry: Chapter 22 reveals that the looming threat of Akechi's assassination led to the first and only big fight that Joker and Makoto had. Both break down as the attempt to stay strong proves too much for them, and they agree to confide more in each other.
- Verbal Backspace: In Chapter 22, when Joker is trying to get Morgana to give him and Makoto some privacy:Morgana: I'm staying, and nothing will change my mind!
Ann: ...Hey, Morgana, why don't you spend the night at my place.
Morgana: (without spaces) Ok bye Ren have fun studying and make sure you get plenty of sleep!