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The Only One Who Knows

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As sad as it may seem, adulthood takes you away from your friends. Yu Narukami still had them, but it was rare when he got to see them, and he had let others into his life, hard as that was. After Adachi, well it hadn’t been very easy.

He loved Inaba and the times he shared with his friends, but once he left, they began to scatter as well, and soon enough Nanako and Dojima were all that remained. It was hard to get in touch with the others.

Once in awhile he visited Dojima though. He was getting grayer, and Nanako was growing up fast; she was so beautiful. He was pleasantly surprised when he got to meet her the last time. She became more mature with each visit it seemed.

So Yu Narukami didn’t return to Inaba, but he moved instead to a prefecture called Yongen-Jaya. It was the best of both worlds, he thought-- It wasn’t as tame as Inaba but it wasn’t like the big city either. He hated the city worse than anything. It was so devoid of compassion or human decency. A man could be left to die in the street, and everyone would still be on their way to work.

He tried living with his parents for a time, but he came to the conclusion soon enough that they didn't want him around. It was painful to live with his parents, so he kept his distance from any reminders. 

It really wasn’t all bad, though. He had a job that he liked, and a night job he liked even better. He always did overwork.

His day job was as an investigative journalist. He investigated the more paranormal aspects of popular cases and managed to turn it into a popular podcast, though he was just a writer. Yu would be embarrassed to call it popular, though.

His night job was as a server in a bar down in Shinjuku. To be more precise, he was a crossdresser. It was a hobby that he was forced to enjoy many years ago when his friends signed him onto a crossdressing competition without his consent. It was the best mistake ever.

And at the time it had been hilarious.

On nights where he wasn’t working at the bar, he ate out. Normally he would just eat the finger-foods they served, but sometimes he could hear the scolding voice of Chie or Yukiko telling him to eat more. Honestly, any time he got a call from any of his friends they scolded him about his health.

He knew it just meant they still cared, and he cared about them as well.

Tonight just happened to be another one of those nights he had off, and he didn’t feel like catching the train downtown to eat anything fancy. Luckily, there was a small cafe around the corner from his place that he liked to eat at, called LeBlanc.

It had amazing food, although there was only one item on the menu; Yu appreciated the quiet atmosphere but he wished that the place got more business for The Owners sake.

The bell above his head chimed as he pushed the heavy door open, and he could immediately felt the warmth of the building seep into his skin. His hair still felt cold, though.

“Hey,” The Owner said with familiarity in his voice, though Yu knew that neither one of them knew the other’s name.

“Hello again,” He said politely, “It’s cold out.”

“Puh!” The Owner huffed. “You’re telling me; everything gets colder when you’re old.”

Yu laughed warmly at his complaining.

“You want a plate?” he asked callously as Yu took a seat at the bar. Yu didn’t mind at all. It reminded him of Dojima, who was turning more and more gray lately.

“Yes; I’ll take a cup of coffee too. Columbian, please.”

As usual, Yu waited patiently for The Owner to stir up a hot plate for him and stared at the TV in the corner with mild interest. Nothing ever seemed to be as interesting anymore since the Phantom Thieves stopped appearing; Yu reported on them often and talked with a lot of fans about the thieves in their hayday.

He was a phanboy with or without work involved anyways.

He didn’t know much about cognitive science outside of the layman’s version of it but his experiences in the past helped him make sense of it online and at work.

The Boss set his coffee down, and he sipped it carefully as he continued to stare at the TV.

The TV volume was so low that it could barely be heard, but Yu wasn’t paying much attention. He wondered what happened to the leader of the thieves, Akira Kurusu, whose face was hidden due to the fact that he was a minor at the time.

Yu did read about him a little more in a popular book written about the thieves, but the author, Yuuki Mishima, remains quiet in interviews about any personal information. In the book he speaks to the characters of all of the thieves, referring to them as their codenames, and details their exploits, but Yu still wanted to learn more.

He tried to get Yuuki on the podcast but he politely declined.

Mostly, the thieves reminded him of the world behind the TV, but more than that, Akira Kurusu in particular reminded him of his own pursuit for the truth.

The fact that his personal information was hidden was for the best, but still. A guy has to wonder. Joker was the only thief who was outed, so Yu also had to wonder where the others were.

But Yu thought if the Phantom Thieves were a band, Akira Kurusu was the singer. Everyone wanted info on him.

Yu got knocked out of his daze when The Owner set a heavy, hot plate of curry down onto the counter, clacking the ceramic loudly.

“Here you go. It’s all yours,” He said with some small pride.

Yu appreciated it. He liked the curry there a lot since each time it was a little different. He heaped a steaming spoonful into his watering mouth just as his stomach began to growl.

“Hm,” Yu sighed, swallowing his food quickly. “It’s not very spicy today. Is there coconut in this?”

“You found me out again,” The Owner answered sort of fondly. “It’s nice having someone in here who knows a little something about food.”

“I used to cook a lot while I was in high school but it’s hard to find the time now,” Yu answered, wearing the smallest of smiles.

Making lunch for his friends was a small pleasure that he took for granted in high school. It wasn’t that he didn’t have the time, it was that he had no one to cook for anymore.

“Kids these days give themselves too much work,” the Owner said, grimacing. “You sound just like my son.”

“Oh, yeah?” Yu asked. The Boss usually didn’t bring up any personal information, so Yu was a bit intrigued to find out more. It didn’t help that he was naturally inquisitive.

“Heh, Yeah,” He said, glancing at the TV. “He’s coming back from college for the holidays. Actually I’m going to be closing the shop up early tonight so I can go pick him up from the station.”

Yu smiled again. ‘I’ll bet he would be happy to know you were thinking of him.”

The Owner seemed to fluster, ordering him to hurry up and finish his plate, so he did, but it only made him think of Dojima again. He was like a father to Yu, more so than his own father, even despite his shortcomings.

And he never could bear to get too sentimental for too long.

The Boss was a huge part of why he liked LeBlanc, truth be told.

Yu quietly cleared his platter, handing The Boss a neat bill when he was done, and walked back to his apartment with his hands in his pockets.

~

Akira stepped away from the bustling train onto the platform and felt the cold, air blast him; it was a fresh breath of winter.

And with winter, as always, came a flux of emotions. With seeing his homemade family again, came revisiting some painful times. Akira thought that they were also the best times as well.

It definitely wasn’t all bad.

He climbed the damp stairs of the busy station and stepped out into the city, searching with impatient eyes for Sojiro’s old clunker. He spotted it in less than a minute, and quickly walked over to it with the snow beneath his feet crunching loudly.

He swung open the car door, surprising Sojiro, who had been reading the paper to try and pass the time.

“Jeez Kid!!” He exclaimed at the same time as Akira said, “Long time no see!”

Akira launched himself across the stick shift to throw his arms around Sojiro’s stiff shoulders.

“The hell’s a’matter with you!?”

“Did you miss me?” Akira asked slyly, pulling away to fasten his seatbelt. “Where’s Futaba?”

“She’s at her part time job. Gets off in a hour or so,” Sojiro said, grimacing. He didn’t wear a sour face for long though. He began to smile, though he tried to hide it with his hand.

“She can’t wait to see you,” he added with uncharacteristic tenderness.

“Ah, me either,” Akira sighed. He knew what Sojiro was really trying to say was ‘we both couldn’t wait to see you,’ and he appreciated the sentiment. Akira also felt proud that Futaba was doing more things on her own.

The car coughed to life, and they pulled away from the station and into traffic, which somehow wasn’t too bad. Akira was relieved to just be off his feet. He leaned back into the peeling old leather of his seat.

“So, is business still slow as ever?” He asked, though not unkindly.

“Yeah, the old Ayanami couple stopped coming around… I think her husband passed. But there’s a new young customer who comes in pretty often. Actually sort of reminds me of you,” Sojiro trailed off.

“That’s a shame about the Ayanami’s. It’s nice to have a new customer though! Even nicer that he reminds you of me,” Akira wiggled his brows.

“Bah! Shut it!”

Akira laughed and laughed as they moved down the street, but he eventually schooled his face.

“I’m really happy to be back,” Akira said, suddenly serious.

“Yeah, well,” Sojiro muttered. “You’re welcome back any time. I know you’re busy with school, but…” Once again it seemed that Sojiro was unable to finish his sentence.

"I know," He replied calmly. Akira didn't need Sojiro to finish his sentence to know what he was trying to say.

Life had been kind to Akira so far. He leaned back into the car seat, wondering about his old friends, and the ones he hadn't met yet.