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A New Beginning

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MOVING DAY

Haru stood in the empty living room as she held the keys to the estate that was once in her father’s name. After graduating from college with a business degree and a license to grow her own coffee beans for Okumura Foods, she managed to get a loan that would allow her to start her own cafe. However, she didn’t want to make her new start in Tokyo. There were far too many bad memories here.

Instead, she purchased a building that was vacant in Inaba and would be moving there. Haru had taken many weeks to prepare for moving. Between going through her father’s old things and working with a retailer to sell the estate; as well as arranging when movers would be able to relocate her furniture to her new apartment -- needless to say, she was quite stressed. But now, everything was moved and she had a little bit of settling in to do back in Inaba.

She just needed to say her final goodbyes to this place that was more of a gilded cage than a home. So many memories were in these walls, so few were actually positive. Haru spent so many days between these walls alone or arguing with her father about her future. Now that he was no longer in the picture, she felt no regret leaving this place. Even as she stood in the center of the living room, she recalled the one fateful afternoon that marked her true heartbreak.

After speaking with the current president of Okumura Foods about her coffee and the forced engagement with Sugimura, he had mentioned how close her and Akira had been. Though the notion caused butterflies in her stomach, she inquired her leader about the idea..only to be told that he just saw her as a friend and that he was already seeing someone.

As much as hearing that hurt, she was grateful for his honesty. She had then turned her back to him after removing herself from his side, informing him that she had studies to tend to. In reality though, after he left, she found herself crying and unable to properly focus. It took her a few days to overcome that depressive slump but she managed to push through it, forcing a smile on her face as she was happy that Akira had found someone during his short time in Tokyo. She didn’t have to ponder long as whom he was dating, as her classmate, Makoto, made an off comment about her date with Akira before they drove him home.

Haru felt nerves twisting and turning in the pit of her stomach. She wasn’t going to miss this place. Hopefully, whoever bought this property would have happier memories than she did while living here.

She took one last moment to ensure all the lights were off before leaving the estate and locking it, leaving the keys in the mailbox for the retailer to collect later in the evening. Taking hold of a small suitcase that had a few of her personal things, she made her way to the train station. To her surprise, the rest of the former Phantom Thieves, save for Akira and Morgana, Sae and Sojiro were there to bid her farewell.

A faint blush brushed over her cheeks as she nearly dropped her suitcase out of her hands. “O-oh my goodness. Did...you all come here for me?”

“Well of course we did, silly! Now come over here and give us a hug!” Ann chimed as she reached her arms out to Haru. The pair shared a tight embrace.

“It sucks that you have to leave but...I understand why. Take care of yourself out there, okay? Don’t be a stranger. You are always welcomed to come and visit!”

“I’ll try to see if I can come to visit during holidays if time permits me to,” Haru confessed softly.

“That’s all we can ask.” Ann lets go of Haru, giving her a small smile as she takes a step to the side for Futaba to barrel roll into her arms.

“I’m not good with emotional stuff but at least try to write every so often, okay? I’m gonna miss you.”

Haru could feel her chest tighten as she hugged the young hacker close. “I’ll miss you too, Futaba-chan. I promise to be sure to write.”

Reluctantly, Futaba slides out of Haru’s arms, nodding. “You better! Or I’ll spam your phone with memes.”

Haru laughs nervously. “Please don’t do that.” She was well aware of how much Futaba enjoyed internet memes and how easy it was for her to hack into anyone’s device. So her threat wasn’t exactly an empty one. Haru would likely get an anxiety attack if Futaba actually went through with that. Thus, making a mental note to at the very least send something to Futaba.

Makoto gave a nervous laugh as well before embracing Haru, “Sometimes I forget how scary she can be.” she admitted softly.

“Y-yeah..no kidding. Thank you for coming to see me off today. You didn’t have to.”

Makoto gave her a tight squeeze before letting go. “It’s no problem. Besides, what sort of friends would we be if we didn’t at least say goodbye before you leave?” She offers her a small smile. “I hope everything turns out to be better for you in Inaba..and please don’t be afraid to text or calls us. We might be several miles away but we are still your friends, Haru.”

The corners of her eyes were starting to water as Haru nods. This was starting to become too much for her. “Y-yes...of course!”

Once Makoto took a step back, Yusuke gave her a light embrace, petting her head. “I wish you the best of luck in your new chapter, Haru.”

Their height difference made the embrace a little awkward but she was happy to hear that he wished her well. “Thank you, Yusuke. I’m looking forward to starting my life out there. I just hope I am able to make good memories.”
When Yusuke lets go of her, he gave her a pleasant smile as he took a step back. Towards the back, Ryuji rubbed the back of his neck with a flustered expression on his face. He walked up towards Haru, avoiding eye contact for a moment “Take care of yourself out there, okay?”

Haru couldn’t help but giggle a little, a faint flush brushing over her cheeks. “I will. Thank you for your concern, Ryuji-kun,” Going on her toes, she leans up and kisses his cheek, making his face go completely red from embarrassment.

Futaba stretches her arms out behind Ryuji, giving his back a light push that allows him to lean towards Haru. The pair hug for a few seconds before he turns to face Futaba with an annoyed glare.

“Damn gremlin! Why the hell did you do that for?!”

Futaba gave him a cheeky grin. “You were procrastinating. I just gave you a nudge.”

“Alright children, that is quite enough…” Sae says as she places a hand on Haru’s right shoulder. “I know it can’t be easy for you to move and all but I hope you are able to find happiness in Inaba. The police force in that area is far more reliable there than it is here. So if you have any troubles, I’m sure you can count on the authorities there. But, if for any reason things don’t work out and you run into trouble, you are free to call me. “

Haru bows to Sae, a small smile warming over her lips. “Thank you, Sae-san. I will be sure to keep that in mind.”

Once Sae removed her hand, Haru walked towards Sojiro and gave him a bow. “Thank you for everything you’ve taught me, Sakura-san. I will do my best to make you proud when I finally have my cafe up an running.”

Sojiro, much like Ryuji, was emotionally flustered. He just shook his head and pulled Haru into a tight bear hug. “Geez kid, you don’t have to be so formal. Just be sure to take care of yourself out there, alright?”

Nodding in his arms, the faint tears in the corner of her eyes finally fell. This awkward little-broken family supported her even when her own blood-related one cared little for her. It was difficult for her to let go of all the people that cared for her. But she had to do this. It was the only way she would be able to move on in her life.

NOW BOARDING SHIBUYA TO INABA.

“Oh! That’s my train. I have to get going now.” Haru quickly slid out of Sojiro’s arms as she picked up her suitcase. Waving a hand to everyone, she boarded the train as the glass doors closed behind her. They all waved back to her until she was out of sight.