Ronin was playing outside that day with Morro. It was sunny and they were left alone. It wasn’t any better then that. The monastery felt empty without Wu but that was what Ronin wanted. He’s sitting with Morro when he notices the wide open door.
“Think we should go outside?” Not run. That didn’t work. It didn’t with just him and then it didn’t when he ran with Morro. Morro shrugs back. “What would we do.”
“Hang out, that’s all.” He continues quickly before Morro could speak. “I know we do it all the time, just I want to it at least away from the monastery..”
“Alright, we can do that.” Ronin sighs. “Thanks.”
Morro helps pull Ronin up and they run for the door together. It’s been open that day and both of them go to the village nearest the temple. They stop breathless by some trash cans. They hear some knocking nearby and Ronin reacts by shoving himself into a trash can.
Morro opens the can he’s placed himself into. “Are you alright?”
“Ye- yeah, just a little scared.”
“So will you be hiding in there?” Ronin shrugs. “I guess.” And with that, Morro climbs into the one right next to him. Ronin had made grabby hands for the lid and Morro gave it back without question.
When Morro looked at Ronin, he saw he had the lid on his head. “Uh.”
“It’s a hat. And I’m going to keep it.”
“That’s not smart at all.” Ronin gets out of the trash, still having the lid on his head. “Well, what do you suggest?”
“Anything but that.” Ronin just pouts, “I could paint it. Make it my color.”
Morro tilts his head to the side. “Maybe. It’s worth a try.”
“Should- Should we go home then?” He sounds scared and now he’s clutching the lid to his chest. “No, we’re going to stay here for a while. We just got here, remember?” Ronin sighs in relief. “Right.”
“There’s a painter’s shop nearby, we can go there.” Ronin lights up at the suggestion. “He won’t mind us?” Morro shook his head. “No, everyone already knows we visit a lot.”
They arrive sometime by a man’s shop. It’s cluttered with various paints and art in the making. Pieces are scattered from the floor to the ceiling in place, some have price tags but most are seen unfinished and so don’t. The place has a much more peaceful atmosphere then what he usually felt from the monastery. It’s beautiful there and he’s never knew it existed. Morro knocks on the door three times before waiting. “He should be here.”
The door opens some five minutes later. “Hello?” A graying old man says to them. “Can we paint something? My brother has something he’d like to keep.” The man laughed. “Of course, come inside.”
They run startling the poor man. “Do you have red paint? My color, you know?” Ronin immediately says sounding more then a little excited.
“I should, why?” Morro points to Ronin. “He wants a red hat, but it’s a lid.”
And the man almost doubled over laughing but coughs instead. “I’ll get him his paint.” He comes back with two buckets of red paint, both the same shade as Ronin’s gi. He then hands them both a paintbrush after Ronin tries to put the lid in the paint and failing.
Morro had laughed at him but gave him his brush when Ronin had pouted. They begin to paint in unison, the man watching in guidance.
They get all of the top when Ronin tries to turn it upside down, accidentally splattering himself in paint. “Aw.”
“You’re going too quick. We should wait first.”
“Oh- Okay.” He’s almost scared that he’s going to be yelled at. Flashes of Wu appearing for a few seconds. Morro brings him back to the present by patting his shoulder. “It’s fine. I swear it that he won’t come here.”
“He wouldn’t, will he?”
“I thought he was on a break. Had he left you two alone?” The man interrupts scaring the two from their small conversation. Ronin nods before Morro can stop him. “Y- yeah, we’re going to be staying at the monastery for a few days.”
“May I suggest you stay at the village then?”
“Can we? Can we really?”
“Of course, I can set up beds for you.” Ronin is surprised by this man and he nearly drops the paintbrush. “But for now, let’s finish that hat of his.”
For several hours, they all continue to paint the trash lid. Eventually finishing at night.
“Stay here. I should get you two clothes.”
“Okay, sir.” Ronin responds within a beat of time. “There’s not need to call me sir. I’m Harley.” The man tells him and Ronin just nods.
Once the kids are alone, Ronin turns to Morro. “Why is he so nice? I don’t get it.” Morro shrugs. “We’re kids.”
“No, I mean just- why is he letting us have freedom? He’s letting us do things for fun and not yelling at us either.” Morro smiles. “Maybe we don’t have to know.” He smiles back and Harley returns with some spare clothing for the two.
“Both of you should go shower but I only have one. Would any of you like to go?”
“Can we go together inside? We can take turns waiting for each other.” Ronin replies, unsure.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” Harley sighs. “Alright but one of you must come out when you’re finished cleaning.” He stands up and places the hat on a nearby drying rack. And then motions for them to follow him.
Glancing through some windows they find out that since that it’s night time. The building is small enough that they reach it quickly. Ronin ended up taking the shower first. He tries not to let his thoughts get to him. He does end up asking one question to Morro before he’s done. “Do you think Wu abandoned us?” Morro had snorted.
“I doubt that. But are you done showering? Harley gave us some fresh clothes so we wouldn’t have to wear our gis. He told me he was going to clean them.”
“O- Oh, alright. I’m done now.” He had just finished getting the conditioner out of his hair. He doesn’t ask for the towel, instead trying to grab for it.They change spots in tandem and Ronin leaves the bathroom.
He has covered most of himself in the towel with just enough moving space. Harley points out the room from a few steps from the bathroom. They likely would’ve missed it otherwise.
“You will sleep there. Your clothing for tonight is already in place.” He nods in acknowledgment and he goes to the room. It’s a seldom decorated room with two separate beds. He notices that each have a set of pajamas on them, maroon and a dark leafy green. He just notices a few seconds afterward the undergarments and quickly puts them on.
He dresses quietly, first putting on the pants and then the shirt. It’s so comfortable, he can hardly believe it was something for him. Ronin briefly wonders if he could keep them at all. He was still standing there when Morro opens the door, wrapped in such a way similar to a burrito. Not that Ronin was any different. Ronin points to Morro’s set of clothing and he starts moving quicker to them.
Ronin lets him change in private, getting into the bed. Like the pajamas. It's also comfortable, enough to want to melt just to stay in it. He finds himself comparing his old monastery beds to it. While this was warm and enough to cover him, his first in shed was barely anything. Merely just a scrap of fabric and left at that. The shared bed was better but hardly much from a rock due to previous disuse.
“I’m thinking we could stay here.” Morro’s muffled voice calls. He’s in the blankets and Ronin could just feel the relief. “Maybe..”
“You want to, don’t you?”
“I- I do, I really want to stay..” Barely perceptible shaking in his voice. “But I’m so scared we’ll be caught again. It’s happened twice already and for you only once. I just- want- need us to be away from Him. Forever. But it’s not happening and I feel like I’m going to break soon. I was already so close before.. I don’t want it to happen either.”
“So we’re going back to that hellhole?” Ronin feels himself grin a bit at the description. “Not like we have a choice.”
“Anyway I’m going to dye some of my hair.” A happier change in subject. “Really? What color?”
“I’m thinking green. It seems fitting with that Green Ninja Wu seems to think I am.” The talking continues and then fades with them asleep. Neither knowing who fell first but neither having the need to care.