Chapter 1: A Welcome Surprise
I hope you guys enjoy this.
I do plan on continuing this and writing some more chapters, however I've lost some of my motivation atm. Also, I've got another fic that I've been planning for quite a long time now and I should probably actually make a start on it...
"Ow! Damn, Futaba, quit elbowing me!" Ryuji grunted in irritation, rubbing his side as the small girl shifted away from him.
"It's not my fault! Inari's being weird again and he's taking up too much room!" she yelled, pushing her glasses back onto her face.
"I beg your pardon?!" Yusuke spoke up, clearly offended by that accusation as he peeked at Futaba from behind his sketchbook.
"You heard me, Inari! You're being weird!"
"I am doing nothing of the sort!"
Ryuji just groaned. Out of all the people he sat in the same row as, it had to be those two, didn't it?
"Now, now, calm down, we'll be there soon, so let's just stay relaxed for the rest of the journey, okay?" Haru said from the row behind them with her usual sweet smile as she nibbled on a cupcake from the picnic basket she had brought with her. She pulled out the small box of cupcakes and offered it to the raven haired girl sat next to her.
"Oh! Thank you," she responded as she plucked up one of the cupcakes with her slender fingers. "Um, I know I've said this before, but thank you so much for inviting me along," she added as she delicately took a bite of her cupcake.
"It's no problem at all, Togo-San." Makoto reassured her, quickly glancing at her through the rear view mirror.
"Yeah, 'sides you're friends with Yusuke and Ren, why wouldn't we invite you?" Ryuji added as he casually leaned back on his seat.
"If you define 'friendship' as 'bonding over your mutual distaste for your spoiled, rich classmates' then yes, I suppose we are very good friends," Hifumi replied as she took another, larger bite of her cupcake.
"Such as, Nakamura from 3-B? When she showed off three different phones and then deliberately broke two because 'her daddy will buy her five more by tomorrow'?" Yusuke gave an example, irritation and tiredness evident in his voice. Hifumi just gave a disgusted groan as she rolled her eyes.
"Wow, they sound annoying... The worst we have at Shujin are girls who think they're better than everyone else 'cause they've got an older, rich boyfriend who constantly spoils them..." The blue haired boy sitting in the back row finally spoke up as he put down his phone. As he said that, the pigtailed girl in the front seat groaned.
"You're talking about that Haruka girl in the year below us, right Mishima? All she ever does is show off her jewelry, brag about her boyfriend, accuse everyone of being jealous of her and insult everyone..." Ann sighed as she leaned on her girlfriend's shoulder with a pout.
"Surely, she can't be that bad..." Haru muttered, trying to stay optimistic.
"She told me that my life has no meaning..." Mishima refuted.
"She called me a freak just 'cause I stuttered in a conversation..." Futaba added.
"She made jokes about my leg when she saw me limping once." Ryuji tacked on.
"Is that so?" Makoto asked, her voice considerably deeper with a slight hint of venom.
"She should learn some manners," Haru cheerfully remarked. However, the dangerous glint in her eyes did not match her sweet smile at all. Ryuji quickly turned his attention to the window. He'd been looking forward to today; they'd been planning to give Ren a surprise visit during the summer holidays. They had planned to stay an entire week, maybe more, but they weren't sure they'd be able to stay at Ren's house, so they'd all been saving up for months just in case. They'd stopped along the way to pick up Shiho, who lived in a town close to Ren's but too far away for them to visit each other. Ryuji had been excited all day, but now he was just starting to get annoyed. It was way too hot, some of the group had managed to oversleep, they’d had to stop to fix a flat tire, and now everyone in the van was just growing restless. Goddammit, he didn't want any of this bullshit... He just wanted to see Ren…
"We'll be there soon, right?" Mishima asked, checking the map on his phone anxiously.
"Judging by all the fields we're driving past, my guess would be yeah." Ryuji huffed out sarcastically. Ann turned round and smacked his arm. "Ow! The hell was that for?!"
"Quite acting bitchy! We get it, you wanna see your boyfriend, but how about you just shut up for now, and when we get there you can make out with him all you want!" She lectured him, clearly feeling hot and bothered herself, probably thanks to the lack of AC in the van. Ryuji sunk down into his seat and muttered out a sulky 'fine'.
"Eloquent as always, Ann." Futaba commented sarcastically, grinning at the show she'd just witnessed. Ann didn't say anything, but shot Futaba a playful fingergun.
"I really can't wait to see him again. I need to thank him for everything he did to help me. Plus, I really wanna meet Morgana!" Shiho piped up excitedly, holding Ann's hand all the while. Shiho had found out about the Phantom Thieves a while ago. It had been an accident on Ann's part; she’d unlocked her phone to take a selfie with Shiho, but forgotten that she still had the PT chat open. Luckily, Shiho was very understanding and found the whole ordeal hilarious. Plus, it was nice knowing that her girlfriend was a badass thief who beat up criminals' inner selves.
"Oh, that's right! You never met Mona, did you? It was only around the time all that... stuff happened that we met him." Ann remarked, squeezing Shiho's hand slightly in the middle of her sentence.
"Morgana's the cat that Ren always had in his bag, right?" Mishima butted in awkwardly.
"Yes, that would be him." Yusuke answered as he continued sketching.
"Oh, that's Morgana? I'd seen him a few times before... He's rather cute..." Hifumi commented, blushing slightly.
"Seriously, I always wanted to stroke him, but I wasn't sure if Ren knew that everyone could see Morgana..." Mishima admitted shyly.
"D'ya remember that kid who sat behind Ren? The one with the green pencil case?" Ann asked Mishima as she turned around again.
"Oh! U-Um... Takehara, right?" Mishima responded, taking a few seconds to recall the name.
"Yeah, that's him! Well, I asked him why he never snitched on Ren even though he always saw all the shit Ren did at his desk."
"Yeah, and he told me it was because 'the cat in Ren's desk was so cute, and I didn't want to snitch just in case he stopped bringing the cat to school' and honestly? That's the purest thing I've ever heard!"
"Oh my fucking god."
"I know, right?!"
"That's kind of adorable?" Shiho giggled at the story.
"I'm happy that we get to see Mona-Chan again, too!" Haru exclaimed happily, clapping her hands together.
"What exactly is Morgana like?" Hifumi enquired, leaning forward slightly.
"Horrible." Ryuji joked bluntly.
"No! Don't be so mean to Mona-Chan!" Haru protested.
"Brat cat." Ryuji persisted.
"Stinky bastard man." Futaba joined in, a mischievous grin on her face.
"Ryuji. Futaba. Stop antagonising Haru." Makoto ordered sternly.
"Yes, Queen." The pair obeyed.
"Is the group always like this?" Shiho asked Ann with an innocent twinkle in her eye.
"Unfortunately..." Ann sighed. Shiho giggled in response as she glanced back at everyone else in the van. Ryuji's eyes widened slightly as he began to see an increase in houses through the window. He sat up in anticipation as he realised that they would be there soon.
"I hope Ren has been taking care of my painting." Yusuke remarked as he closed his sketchbook and glanced out the window.
"This is Ren we're talking about. He may be a clumsy idiot at times, but you know that he'd always take care of a gift from a friend." Makoto reassured him as she focused on the road in front of her, turning the steering wheel to drive around a corner. Yusuke just chuckled contendly in response.
"Honestly? I just can't wait to get out this van... My legs're cramping up..." Mishima mumbled as he massaged his legs in an attempt to get feeling back into them.
"Sooooo, how are we gonna go about greeting Ren? I vote we scare him!" Futaba snickered with a dangerous smirk on her face. "Ooh! Or we could prank him! Maybe even dogpile on him!" She continued with her suggestions, giggling more and more with each new one.
"No. No scares. No pranks. And no dogpiling. Understand?" Makoto interjected, squeezing the steering wheel with an iron grip. "We are just going to knock on the door and say hello. That's enough of a surprise for him, wouldn't you agree?" She added, glancing at Futaba through the rear view mirror with a stern glare. Futaba crossed her arms and pouted in defeat.
"And you wonder why we call you 'team mum'..." Ryuji muttered under his breath.
"You say something, Ryuji?" Makoto demanded with a deadly edge in her voice.
"N-Nothing at all!" Ryuji stammered, avoiding eye contact.
"But, y'know, I'm really excited to see Ren. Texting and phone calls and video chats are nice and all, but I just wanna see him in person..." Ann changed the subject.
"Yeah, I know what you mean..." Futaba agreed quietly, fiddling with the headphones that rested on her shoulders.
"I concur. I'm not entirely sure how to describe it... But Ren has quite a comforting presence..." Yusuke added, placing his hand on his chin in thought. Ryuji usually had trouble figuring out what Yusuke meant when he said things like that, but this time, he completely understood. Whenever he was with Ren, he felt like he had somewhere he could belong. Ryuji smiled slightly to himself at that thought. Everyone else in the van agreed too. It was honestly kind of amazing how Ren had made all of their lives better just by being there for them and giving them someone to talk to. As Ryuji remembered how much Ren had helped him the past year, he was pulled out of his thoughts by the van slowly down to a halt.
"We're here!" Makoto announced as she turned the engine off and unclicked her seatbelt. "Don't jump out! Just slowly exit the van and then quietly walk up to the door, okay? We wanna surprise him, remember?" She quickly added when she noticed how excited everyone was. Everyone agreed as Ryuji and Yusuke carefully slid the van doors open.
After everyone had gathered around the front door, they all looked at each other for confirmation before turning to Ryuji with huge excited grins on their faces. Ryuji nodded with an anticipative smirk on his face as he stepped forward and pressed the doorbell. A loud bell rang. Ryuji felt his heart beat faster than usual.
"Coming!" A voice called out from inside the house. They knew that voice. That was the voice they wanted to hear. Ryuji's heart began beating even faster. The sound of footsteps could be heard slowly getting closer before they stopped right in front of the door. They could see his shadow now. He was right there! The door was unlocked and slid open as the boy began to speak.
"Sorry, mum and dad aren't here right— What?" The raven haired boy froze at the unexpected sight in front of him. Ryuji had to hold back his laughter at the sight of Ren's face. His eyes were wide open and his mouth was hanging agape as he turned his attention to all of his friends. He was trying and failing to think of something to say as Morgana came trotting up from behind him, an excited smile on his face. Ryuji looked back at everyone for confirmation and turned back to face Ren again.
"Surprise!" Everyone cheered, flashing huge smiles at their friend. Ryuji jumped forward and flung his arms around him. Ren's arms stayed at his side while he processed what was happening before gently wrapping around the blond's back. After a few seconds, Ren pushed himself away from Ryuji with a confused smile.
"The hell're are all of you doin' here?" He exclaimed, unintentionally letting his natural country-tinged voice make an appearance. This time, Ryuji couldn't hold back his laughter.
"W-We came to g-give you a... a surprise visit!" Ryuji wheezed out between laughs. Ren pouted as he blushed a bright red.
"Your country voice is kinda cute!" Haru complimented with a cheerful smile. Ren blushed even more at the compliment and began fiddling with his hair. A nervous habit of his. Ryuji thought it was adorable.
"And look who we've brought along!" Makoto announced in a slight sing-song voice as she gently pushed the trio forward. Ren's eyes widened even more as a smile spread across his face. He slid past Ryuji and flung his arms around the three of them.
"Heyyyy! Holy crap, how are you?" He gasped out as he pulled back to get a closer look at them. The three of them giggled happily at his excitement.
"I'm doing great! I'm still working on the Phan-Site and I'm still writing that documentary script!" Mishima informed him, grinning proudly.
"I'm doing very well. I think you'll be happy to hear that my mother isn't forcing me into fame anymore, and I'm slowly getting much better at shogi." Hifumi chimed in with a grateful smile. Ren smiled at the two of them before focusing his attention onto Shiho.
"And what about you? How are you doing? You doing better?" He asked, gently encouraging her to give him the details.
"I've been doing much better, thank you. I'm still having a few problems with one of my legs, but my doctors have prescribed me some painkillers, so I'm slowly but surely getting better." She quietly explained.
"That's amazing, I'm so proud of you!" Ren cheered as he pulled her into a celebratory hug before freezing as he realised something. "Hey, Ann... I remember you telling me that you'd give me Shiho's number or give Shiho my number so we could keep in touch... Why didn't you?" He asked while frowning childishly at Ann.
"Yeah... Why didn't you, Ann?" Shiho joined in, turning around with a childish frown on her face.
"Uhhhhhhh..... I forgot?" Ann awkwardly replied.
"Lady Ann!" Morgana hollered happily as he galloped towards Ann and jumped up into her arms.
"Hey, Morgana!" Ann greeted him as she scratched his chin. Shiho leaned down to get a close look at him as he purred contentedly.
"So, this is Morgana... You said he talks right? I wish I could understand him..." She observed. Hifumi and Mishima shuffled closer to see Morgana as well.
"Now that I've gotten a closer look at him... He's pretty cute, isn't he?" Mishima muttered to himself.
"C-Can I pet him?" Hifumi asked bashfully.
"If you think you can handle my beautifully silky fur, then please feel free." Morgana answered with a smug tone.
"What'd he say?" Shiho asked, turning to look at Ren.
"He's just being a cocky lil shit... But, feel free to stroke him." Ren sighed in response, waving his hand dismissively. Morgana glared at him but quickly began smiling as Mishima and the two girls began gently petting him and scratching him behind the ears. Hifumi smiled gleefully as Morgana began purring.
"So, um, do you guys wanna come in?" Ren clumsily asked, vaguely gesturing with his arm.
"That would be wonderful, thank you." Yusuke replied, brushing his hair out of his eye. Ren gestured for them to follow him.
"Could the last person shut and lock the door behind them, please?" He politely requested as he guided the group into the living room.
"Sure thing!" Makoto called out from the back of the group. Ren offered the sofa and chairs to everyone, watching as they all took their seats. Futaba sighed in relief.
"Ahhhhhh, it's so nice to sit on a soft, comfy chair after being stuck in that godforsaken van for so long..." She groaned contentedly with a peaceful smile on her face. Ren chuckled at the sight. There was a reason he considered her a little sister.
"Um, do you guys want anything to eat? Anything to drink?" Ren asked, fidgeting about from foot to foot, unsure what to do. To be fair, he’d had no idea he was gonna have so many visitors at once. He’d had no idea he was gonna have any visitors at all, actually.
"It's quite alright, I brought a picnic basket with me, so we've all had something to eat already. Although... We did run out of tea quite a while ago..." Haru replied sweetly.
"I dunno, I could use a cold drink..." Ryuji grunted tiredly.
"I'd have to agree, it was rather hot in the van..." Yusuke chimed in. Everyone else seemed tired and sweaty. Ren let out of quiet, breathy chuckle at the sight.
"Do you guys want me to put the AC on?" He asked. A loud chorus of 'YES' and a single very loud 'OH GOD YES' sounded out in reply. Ren couldn't help but laugh as he wandered out into the hallway. He pressed a few button and turned his head as he made sure the AC was working. He was assured of it when he heard sighs of relief from all of his friends. He giggled quietly to himself as he walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge. "So, uh, what do you guys want to drink? We've got some, uh, Coke, Dr. Pepper, lemonade, orange juice, cranberry juice and chocolate milkshake." He called out.
"You want some help sorting all those drinks out?" Ryuji called back.
"No, no, it's fine."
"Tough shit, I'm helping." Ryuji refuted as he wandered into the kitchen and slung his arm round Ren's shoulders.
"Then why'd you ask me?" Ren asked, smirking at his boyfriend and raising an eyebrow.
"Eh, I gave you the chance to make the right decision." Ryuji mumbled as he nuzzled against Ren's cheek.
"Oh, well, thank you for your generosity." Ren replied, sarcasm dripping from every syllable. He hadn't realised how much he had missed Ryuji until he saw him. A blissful smile made its way onto his face as he leaned into Ryuji, placing a small, gentle kiss on his cheek. Ryuji giggled happily.
"Okay, I wrote down what everyone wants." Makoto announced as she stepped into the kitchen before freezing and giving the boys a knowing look. "Happy to see each other by any chance?" She asked sarcastically as she handed her phone over to Ren and walked back into the living room. Ren bashfully fiddled with his hair as he pushed himself away from Ryuji and made his way over to a cupboard to retrieve the large group of cups he required.
"Could you get out the milkshake, orange juice, cranberry juice and Coke please?" He asked the blond as he scanned his eyes down the list.
"Sure thing." Ryuji agreed, leaning into the fridge to grab the drinks. He grabbed them one by one and placed them next to Ren. After placing down all of the cups, Ren checked the list again and began pouring out all of the drinks.
"Is there anything you want to drink?" He asked, glancing at Ryuji out of the corner of his eye as he poured the final listed cup.
"I'm fine with some Coke, thanks." Ryuji answered simply. Ren flashed a quick smile at him as he began pouring a drink for his boyfriend.
"Do you guys want any ice?" He called out as he screwed the lid back onto the Coke bottle. Everyone responded with an enthusiastic yes. Ren laughed again as he made his way back over to the fridge, placing all of the bottles back inside before closing the door and pouring ice into every cup. "Hey Ryuji, there's a tray in that cupboard down there, could you take in everyone's drinks for me, please?" He asked as he placed the cups back onto the counter one by one. Ryuji replied with a simple 'sure' and retrieved the tray from the cupboard Ren said. After placing the last cup on the counter, Ren got one more cup and poured himself a cup of Dr. Pepper. After making sure that everywhere in the kitchen was clean, he followed behind Ryuji back into the living room.
"So, uh, how are you guys doing? Or you know what, more importantly, what are you guys doing here?!" Ren spoke up as he perched himself on the arm of the sofa. Everyone laughed quietly at his question.
"Would believe me if I told you that we've been planning this months?" Ann giggled.
"Yep! We all really wanted to see you and we all really wanted to surprise you, so y'know, win-win!" Futaba explained cheerfully.
"Yes, by the way, Ren, I'd hate to change the subject, but have you been taking care of 'Desire And Hope'?" Yusuke asked, a slight hint of concern evident in his voice.
"Desire and what?" Mishima asked, clearly confused.
"Yeah, it's hanging up in my room, where I know it's safe." Ren reassured his artist friend with a soft smile.
"Ohhhhh, a painting, okay." Mishima muttered to himself in realisation.
"Oh wow, an original painting as a gift? You better step up your game, Ryuji. Otherwise Yusuke's gonna steal your boyfriend..." Makoto joked as she took a sip of her ice cold drink.
"Shut up and make out with your girlfriend..." Ryuji huffed.
"I'm sorry, what? 'Girlfriend'?" Ren butted in, choking on his drink.
"Yeah? Makoto and Haru are dating?" Ann confirmed, slightly confused.
"SINCE FUCKING WHEN?!" Ren exclaimed, leaping up to his feet. Haru giggled at the raven haired boy's outburst.
"Oh shit, we forgot to tell him..." Ryuji gasped as the realisation hit him.
"YOU FORGOT TO TELL ME?! GIVE ME THE DETAILS. NOW." Ren yelled out in surprise, focusing his attention on the two girls in question.
"There's not really much to say? We decided to share an apartment while attending university because it's cheaper and we've gradually grown closer and closer. Then, about three months ago, I asked Haru out on a date and she said yes." Makoto explained, stifling a giggle at Ren's over dramatic reaction.
"Seriously?! Three whole fucking months, and I'm not told anything?! What the hell? Also, living together because it's cheaper? Haru's got plenty of money?" Ren spoke quickly, rushing to get answers to all of his questions at once.
"I'm sorry, I guess we never really noticed that we didn't mention it in the group chat at all... If we had realised that, we would have definitely told you. Also, yes, we're both attending the same university, so we thought it would be nice to share with someone we feel comfortable around rather than a stranger. Besides, I'm focusing on creating my own line of small cafes and I'd much rather achieve that goal by myself." Haru explained slowly, leaning over to hold Makoto's hand. Ren nodded his head slightly as Haru spoke to convey his understanding.
"Right, okay, that makes sense. Besides, you guys are pretty busy now, huh? Yeah, I still really like your cafe idea, you'd better save a cup of coffee for me on opening day." He responded with an encouraging grin. Haru just giggled gleefully. "What about you, Miss Future Police Commissioner?" Ren asked, staring at Makoto.
"Lessons are going well and I'm receiving some help from Sis, she's explaining the current state of the police force and the judicial system to me." She responded matter-of-factly.
"Nice! Oh, hey, how is Sae? How's the whole defense attorney thing going for her?" Ren asked excitedly, clearly happy to be catching up with all of his close friends.
"It's going really well! She's already defended for fifteen clients, and she won thirteen of those cases!" Makoto informed him with an enthusiastic smile.
"Holy shit, that's incredible!" Ren exclaimed, eyes wide open.
"Enough about us, what about you?" Haru announced, focusing everyone's attention onto the fluffy haired boy.
"Mmmm, not much really. Been studying a lot, got a few part time jobs... That's it, really. What about you guys? Have you decided what you're gonna do after school? And hey, what about you, Futaba? How's Shujin treating you?" Ren dismissed the question aimed at him, turning the attention back to his friends. Everyone raised their eyebrows but decided to just let it go.
"Okay, um, I'm still working on my modelling career, I'm getting a lot better I think! Plus, I'm actually on friendly terms with Mika now, if you can believe that." Ann started. Ren raised his eyebrows in surprise at that news.
"Well, I'm still focusing on art. So, I'll most likely go to an art college, although I must admit that I haven't made any decisions yet." Yusuke admitted, placing his chin onto his hand.
"I'm not entirely sure what I wanna do yet... But, I've been considering maybe getting into viral marketing?" Mishima suggested. Ren nodded thoughtfully.
"Yeah, I think that would be great for you. If not viral marketing, what about web design? I think that could work out?" Ren proposed another idea. Mishima hummed in thought.
"I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do right now, but I know I want to focus on my shogi career" Hifumi quietly admitted. Ren made a vague 'that's fine' hand gesture.
"Y'know, I've been thinking of becoming a physiotherapist. Y'know, helping kids that suffer from similar injuries as mine to get back on their feet?" Ryuji announced in a unsure tone while bashfully scratching the back of his neck. A chorus of 'oooooh's' and 'awwwwww's' left his friends mouth.
"That's a great idea, Ryuji! I love it!" Ren exclaimed joyfully with a big smile covering his face. Ryuji just blushed and grinned.
"See, I'm in a similar mindset as Ryuji, I've been considering becoming a high school PE teacher. Y'know, give the kids the kind of coach I wanted instead of... That piece of shit." Shiho chimed in. Everyone burst out laughing as she finished her sentence and began sharing insults for the piece of shit in question. After they had calmed down, Ren focused his gaze on Futaba and gently encouraged her to speak up.
"Shujin's going pretty well so far. Ann, Ryuji and Mishima have been taking care of me when things get a bit much. Plus, I've actually made friends with a boy in my class!" She informed her brother figure happily. Ren smiled merrily.
"I'm so proud of you!" He yelled as he ruffled her hair playfully until she swatted his hand away.
"Oh yeah! That boy! What was name again? Uhhh... Kaoru?" Ann butted in.
"Oh! Uh... Iwai-Kun, right?" Mishima checked.
"Yep! That's him! He's really cool, really funny too. We study together a lot." Futaba confirmed.
"Wait, wait... Kaoru Iwai?" Ren asked slowly, his eyebrows creased together.
"Holy shit, that's awesome!" Ren shouted.
"Wait, do you know him?" Futaba asked him, readjusting her glasses.
"Yeah, remember Iwai from Untouchables? Kaoru's his son." Ren explained.
"That guy has a kid?!" Ryuji howled in disbelief. Ren choked on his drink as he began laughing at shock plastered on Ryuji's face.
"Anyway, you still haven't properly answered our question: What are you doing?" Ann smirked as focused the attention back onto Ren once again. The boy in question clammed up.
"He does music!" Morgana piped up for the first time in ages from Ann's lap. Ren glared at the cat.
"Wait, seriously? Music? You've never mentioned anything about music before." Ryuji asked his boyfriend. The black haired boy blushed a bright red as he fiddled with his hair again.
"Mona, you little snitch..." He muttered as he avoided eye contact with all his friends.
"What exactly do you do? What instruments?" Haru quizzed him, genuinely intrigued by this new information. Ren just grumbled quietly under his breath as his face grew redder.
"He plays the piano, violin and guitar, but he mostly composes!" Morgana called out again. Ren frowned at the cat as his face grew redder still.
"Wow, what kinda guitar? Acoustic or electric?" Futaba asked, pushing for more details.
"Both" Ren mumbled quietly.
"Why didn't you tell us that you did music?" Mishima asked, confused by Ren's reaction.
"...'s... barassing..." The boy mumbled again, blushing profusely.
"Why? I think your commitment towards music is very admirable." Hifumi replied bluntly.
"Can we please change the subject?" Ren pleaded, hiding his face with his hands. Ryuji smiled to himself. It was pretty funny, really. The capable leader of the Phantom Thieves who took charge of every situation and probably had a bit too much fun killing shadows was ridiculously embarrassed by the fact that he wrote and played music. How adorable.
The group chatted and laughed with each other for a few hours before noticing that it was starting to get dark outside. Ren cooked a couple of pizzas for everyone to eat as they all continued to happily chat away.
"Y'know, I've been meaning to ask, but where are your parents?" Ryuji asked between mouthfuls of pizza.
"They're on a business trip, left a couple of days ago, gone for two and a half weeks." Ren informed him after swallowing his mouthful of pizza.
"Oh! I've just remembered, I've been meaning to ask you." Makoto piped up, wiping her mouth with a napkin. Ren gestured for her to continue. "We've planned to stay down here for a week or two. So, would we be able to stay here? If not, we've got plenty of money to stay at the Amagi Inn." She explained. Everyone else looked at Ren, waiting for his response. He held a finger up to ask them to wait for him to finish chewing his food.
"Of course you guys can stay here! There's plenty of room! There's not quite enough space in my bedroom for everyone... But, we could either put the all the boys in my room and all the girls in the guest bedroom, or we could rearrange the furniture in here and all sleep down here?" Ren suggested after finally swallowing.
"I think I'd prefer everyone in the same room..." Ann commented.
"I think everyone would prefer that. We drove for hours to see Ren, we're staying with Ren the whole time!" Futaba butted in indignantly.
"That's fair." Ren said blankly. "You guys want me to find any spare futons or sleeping bags or anything like that?" He continued, wanting to be as helpful as possible. Makoto was about to respond, but was quickly cut off by Shiho gasping.
"We could build a pillow and blanket fort!" She suggested delightedly, clapping her hands together with a gleeful smile.
"That's kinda childish... I love it." Mishima remarked with a grin.
"Oh my, I've never actually made a blanket fort before." Haru admitted. Everyone stopped and stared at her in silence.
"Well, that settles it. Let's make a motherfucking pillow fort!" Ren announced with a determined smirk. "Have you guys brought your stuff?"
"Oh, we left it all in the van." Hifumi observed.
"Okay, here's how we're gonna do this: Ann, Ryuji, Mishima and myself will collect all of the blankets and pillows we can find, Makoto, Futaba and Shiho will bring in everyone's bags from the van, Yusuke, Haru and Hifumi will rearrange the furniture in here to make room for our fort. And Morgana... Make sure they don't break anything..." Ren ordered everyone with a carefully thought out plan (That he came up with in less than a minute.)
"Sure thing, Joker!" Morgana affirmed with a dedicated nod of his fluffy little head.
"Alright, then. Let's get this shit started!"
Forty five minutes later, an impressive blanket fort stood in the middle of the living room, practically covering the entire room. While searching for blankets and pillows, Ren had the idea to pull out the fairy lights that were usually brought out during parties and Christmas, just to gain a light source and make the fort look that little bit more festive. At this point, everyone was pretty tired, not surprising seeing as they'd been active since the early morning.
"Hey, Ren, where's the bathroom? I wanna change into my pyjamas and brush my teeth..." Ann asked sleepily while rubbing her eyes.
"There's a bathroom downstairs, next to my parents' office room, and there's one upstairs next to the guest bedroom." Ren informed her while plumping a pillow.
"Thanks..." Ann yawned out as she wandered off to the closest bathroom, dragging her feet across the floor.
"I'm gonna go get changed too..." Makoto mumbled, clearly a bit drowsy herself as she sluggishly stood up. One by one, everyone of the group stood up and wandered off to change into their pyjamas. Ren giggled quietly to himself at the sight.
"Welp, I should probably get prepared to go to bed too..." He whispered to himself. Before standing up, he placed down the pillow he was tending to and patted it. "Here you go, Morgana." He said as he offered it to the black cat. The four legged animal trotted over to the pillow and plopped himself down.
"Aaahhhhhhhhh.... So cozy... Thank you, Ren." He purred happily as the boy with the glasses smiled gently at him and wandered off to find his own pyjamas. As he slowly climbed the stairs, a fond smile was plastered on his face. Just yesterday, he was sat in a quiet house with only Morgana to keep him company. Now all of his closest friends were all piled together in a huge blanket fort, that he was actually pretty proud of, and having a sleepover. He gently swung open his bedroom door so he didn't disturb his tired friends in the closest bathroom and flicked on the light. His bed was missing it's usual pillows and duvet, since they were now downstairs in the ever so wonderful fort. Meandering over to his wardrobe, he pulled out a random pair of pyjamas. He carefully removed his glasses and placed them down on the nearby desk before pulled his shirt up above his head. As he reached for his pyjama top, he heard Futaba call out to him.
"Yeah?" He shouted back, pulling his top down and sliding his arms through the sleeves.
"Are there any stools? I can't reach the mirror..." She admitted in a defeated tone. Ren laughed quietly to himself as he tugged his jeans down.
"There should be one next to the shower, check there." He informed her, reaching for his pyjama trousers.
"Next to the shower... Oh! Found it! Thank you!" Futaba called back gratefully.
"No problem!" Ren replied while yanking his trousers up. After having a quick stretch, Ren ruffled his hair and slid his glasses back onto his face. He picked up his previous outfit and carried it back downstairs, flicking off the light as he left his bedroom, and placed the clothes into the washing basket next to the washing machine. All he had to do now was brush his teeth. With his new objective in mind, he made his way over to the bathroom and softly knocked on the door. "Are you guys done in there? I need to brush my teeth." He asked politely.
"It's fine, you can come in, we're all decent." Ann responded. After being given the all clear, Ren opened the door and made his way in. Makoto and Hifumi had already sorted themselves out and shuffled their way past him, Haru was carefully folding up her clothes, Ann and Shiho had let their hair down and were now brushing it, and Futaba was balancing on the stool and brushing her teeth.
"Ah! Ren-Kun, where should I put my clothes?" Haru asked with the said clothes in her arms.
"There's a basket next to the washing machine, just throw them in there and I'll wash them tomorrow morning." He told her, pointing towards the kitchen.
"Thank you!" She thanked him as she made her way towards the kitchen, closely followed by Makoto and Hifumi. Ren slid past Ann to reach the sink and grabbed his toothbrush.
"I've gotta say, this is a really nice house, Ren!" Shiho remarked as she placed her hairbrush back into her bag.
"Yeah, my parents are pretty successful, so, y'know." Ren replied vaguely as he put some toothpaste onto his toothbrush. As the two girlfriends left the bathroom, Futaba finished brushing her teeth, spitting out all of the froth. She stepped back, forgetting that she was stood on a stool.
"HOLY FUCKING SHIT!" She screamed as she toppled over. Ren quickly reached out and grabbed her waist, gently helping her get her footing again.
"Doesh Shojibo knowp yoou shay shutff like bat?" He asked her with his toothbrush hanging out of his mouth and toothpaste dribbling down his chin.
"Don't tell him." She ordered him. Ren just winked and turned back to face the mirror and continued brushing his teeth as Futaba exited the room while glaring at him. After finishing and washing his face, he placed his brush back into the cabinet and set the stool back down next to the shower so no one would trip over it. When he returned to the living room, he found everyone else happily huddled up in the fort.
"And here he is!" Ryuji celebrated, his words slightly slurred due to his fatigue. Ren smiled as he sat down next to the sleepy blond. Hifumi smiled at the scene in front of her as she picked up her phone and checked the time.
"Oh! 11:30 already?" She observed in surprise.
"Well, that explains why we're so tired..." Yusuke commented, rubbing his eyes.
"We should probably go to sleep now." Makoto stated as she shuffled in a lying down position and pulled a blanket over her body.
"At least it's not Morgana telling me to go to bed this time." Ren joked with a yawn. Morgana just rolled his eyes and curled up on his designated pillow.
"Goodnight, everyone." Haru whispered sweetly as she nestled herself next to Makoto. Everyone else whispered out their own quick 'goodnights' as they all shifted into more comfortable positions. As Ren snuggled into Ryuji's chest and felt Ryuji's hand gently by firmly grasp his waist, all he could think was,
"I wish days like this would last forever."
Yes, it took me a year to write a new chapter for this fic. No one really seemed to be interested in it after the first chapter, so I didn't see much point in updating.
But I got a really sweet comment from someone a couple of weeks ago, so I decided to write this for them.
Hope you guys enjoy this.
Ren grumbled softly as his eyes fluttered open. The early morning sunlight filtered in through the blankets as he gently pushed himself off of Ryuji's chest, picking up his phone and checking the time. He had to squint and hold the phone an inch away from his face since he wasn't wearing his glasses.
"Should probably get up…" he mumbled as he put his phone back down and reached for his glasses. Ryuji groaned as he wrapped his arm around Ren's waist and pulled him back down.
"Ryuji… I gotta get up… No one else knows where everything's kept…" Ren giggled, noticing Makoto and Haru waking up out the corner of his eye.
"Just five more minutes…" Ryuji grumbled sleepily, flipping the two of them over and pinning Ren down. The raven haired boy just sighed and accepted defeat. The blond let out a contented huff as Ren gently patted his back. They laid there until a strange growling sound echoed through their pillow fort, causing everyone to sit up and look around.
"My apologies…" muttered Yusuke, his cheeks turning a light pink.
"That was your stomach?!" Mishima asked in disbelief.
"Don't bother… When it comes to nutrition, he's useless." Futaba yawned as she slipped her glasses onto her face.
"You get used to it after a while…" Ann remarked, sluggishly leaning on Shiho's shoulder. Ren couldn't help but laugh.
"C'mon, Ryuji… I gotta get up and make breakfast before Yusuke starves." He chuckled as he gently pushed his boyfriend off of him.
"Fiiiiiiine…" Ryuji eventually huffed, sitting up and rubbing his bleary eyes. Ren smiled softly at him, planting a kiss on his cheek before standing up.
"Okayyyy… So, what do you guys want for breakfast?" He asked with a stretch.
"What do you have?" Haru politely enquired, pushing her fluffy hair out of her eyes.
"Quite a lot. My parents made sure to stock up the fridge and cupboards before leaving. So, if you just want something simple like cereal, or you want a cooked meal, you can." Ren informed them as he stepped out of the pillow fort and into the kitchen.
"Wait, Ren, don't sort everyone's food out by yourself… I'll help you." Makoto quickly spoke up, leaping to her feet.
"No, it's fine. Besides, you guys are guests, it's only polite to make your meals for you." Ren protested gently with a smile.
"Ren, don't be ridiculous. There's ten of us, plus Morgana. It's not fair to make you cook all of that by yourself. I'll help." Makoto commanded with her Queen persona making an appearance.
"I'll help too!" Haru called out as she crawled out from the blanket fort.
"Alright, alright…" Ren conceded defeat.
"So, what do you guys want?" Makoto asked with a proud huff.
"Do you want us to write it down like we did with our drinks yesterday?" Suggested Hifumi.
"That would make things a lot easier." Haru giggled.
"I'll sort the oven and stuff out." Ren offered.
"That'd be great, thank you. I'll still cook stuff, though." Makoto replied.
"Yeah, I know, I'm just setting it up for you." Ren chuckled, knowing that once Makoto had made up her mind, she wouldn't be changing it anytime soon.
"I can handle any pastries and tea!" Haru cheerfully announced.
"Well, thanks to Sojiro, I've got my own new speciality… So, if any of you guys want coffee, I'm your guy." Ren yawned, ruffling his hair tiredly.
"Why don't we sort drinks out first?" Makoto suggested.
"Yeah, good idea." Agreed Ren.
"What would you all like?" Asked Haru with her usual pleasant smile.
"I'll take some coffee!" Ryuji called out. Everyone stopped and stared at him.
"Since when do you like coffee?" Shiho asked.
"Yeah, I thought you hated it." Ann tacked on.
"Not when Ren makes it…" muttered Ryuji with a bashful pout. Ren simply giggled quietly to himself as he set himself to work.
Everyone let out contented sighs as they finished their breakfast.
"That was delicious…" Hifumi puffed happily.
"Seriously, thanks for that, guys!" Mishima politely spoke up.
"No problem." Ren chuckled as he began clearing up plates.
"So, uh, do we have any plans for today?" Futaba asked, leaning casually onto the table.
"We didn't really plan for anything other than visiting Ren…" admitted Yusuke.
"Seriously?! Who goes on vacation and doesn't plan anything?!" Morgana yowled in disbelief.
"What did he say?" Shiho asked, looking up at Ann.
"He's calling us idiots…" Ann sighed awkwardly.
"Well, he's not wrong… We should have researched a bit more…" Makoto muttered with a bashful frown.
"Well, it's not like there's much to actually do here… Most kids our age hang out at Junes or get the train to Okina City… I mean… I could show you around the shopping district or something, if you want?" Ren huffed, feeling a little embarrassed by the lack of entertainment in his hometown. Especially since Tokyo was filled with thousands of different shops and amenities to pass the time. He really didn't want his friends to be bored when they had made the effort to come down and visit.
"I've heard that there are some beautiful parks here in Inaba." Yusuke commented lightly.
"Yeah. Yeah, there are. My personal favourite is the one at the top of the hills. It overlooks the whole town and the view's pretty amazing." Ren described with a smile. Yusuke's eyes immediately started to sparkle at that information.
"It's a good thing I brought my sketchbook…" He murmured cheerfully.
"Seriously, dude?" Sighed Ryuji.
"Are there any other places you'd recommend?" Hifumi asked. Ren scratched the back of his head as he thought about it.
"Well… If you've brought your swimsuits, there's Shichiri Beach… Not a lot of people go there, so it's pretty peaceful." He suggested.
"Wait, so we could have the whole beach to ourselves?" Ann asked.
That sounds amazing!" Shiho squealed. Everyone seemed excited by that idea and, as it turned out, they had all brought swimsuits with them.
"Really? You all thought to bring swimsuits?" Ren enquired, baffled by the coincidence.
"Well, be fair, it's the middle of Summer. When you think Summer, you think beaches!" Snickered Mishima with a grin.
"Although, I think we should carefully plan our activities… We are here for two weeks after all, let's make sure we have as much fun as possible." Makoto suggested.
"True… Maybe we should write a schedule to help us figure out when to do stuff?" Hifumi added.
"I request a few down days where we just stay here… I can't be active for an entire two weeks…" Futaba announced awkwardly.
"Yeah, I think that's a good idea. Ren could play his music for us!" Ryuji agreed with a smirk. Ren just shyly muttered something under his breath.
"Alright, so we're going shopping today?" Ann checked.
"Well, it's more of a tour of the town… but, yeah, we could go shopping too." Ren mumbled, awkwardly scratching the back of his neck.
"So, we're not going to the park today?" Haru asked.
"No, but we'll probably do that tomorrow… Otherwise Yusuke may go insane…" Hifumi remarked, pointing over to the artist who was furiously muttering possible sketch ideas to himself.
"Good! Because I was going to suggest making a picnic to take with us!" Haru cheerfully announced.
"Oooh, that's a great idea!" Shiho giggled.
"Well, if we're gonna go into town, I think getting dressed would probably be a good idea." Ren spoke up. Everyone glanced down at their pyjamas.
"Yeah. That would probably be for the best." Mishima chuckled.
"Hurry up so we can go already! I'm excited to explore now!" Morgana cried.
"Alright, alright… Uh, girls get dressed downstairs and guys upstairs, then meet at the front door. Sound good?" Ren shared his plan.
"Sounds good!" Was everyone's reply as they scurried off to prepare themselves for their outing.
"You said that Inaba was boring, but I think it's quite beautiful." Makoto remarked as the group wandered leisurely through the shopping district.
"Yeah, it's pretty to look at but that doesn't mean there's much to do…" Ren huffed as he pondered which shops his friends would be interested in. The sun was shining down on them as a lovely, cool breeze blew through the area. The sounds of cicadas echoed out from all the trees as excited children tried to catch them. Ryuji couldn't help but smile at the sight. As he silently wished he could have done stuff like that as a kid, a voice from across the street caught his attention.
"That's the kid…"
He cautiously glanced over in the direction it came from. There were two housewives muttering to each other.
"He's the one who assaulted someone?"
"Yeah, Yuri's kid."
"Poor her… Having a thug for a son… Although, I thought they reviewed the case and found him innocent?"
"Well, you never know, do you? I'd much rather just keep my distance…"
"True… You don't know if he'll lose it again…"
Ryuji scowled angrily at those words and wrapped his arm around Ren's shoulder, making it a point to pull him closer.
"Is there something up, Ryuji?" Ren asked, caught off guard by the sudden physical contact.
"What? Ain't I allowed to hug my boyfriend?" Ryuji asked with a smirk, raising his voice loud enough for the gossiping women to hear.
"Well… no, that's not what I'm trying to say… it was just kinda out of the blue, y'know?" Ren murmured as his cheeks turned a pale pink.
"Hey, Ren! What's that shop over there?" Ann piped up, emphatically pointing to the building in question. Ryuji immediately recognised Ann's behaviour. She was changing the subject. It seemed the rest of the group were pretty pissed off by what they overheard too.
"Hm? Oh, that's Daidara's. The guy who owns it makes his own weapons, armour, ornaments, that kinda stuff. His work's pretty amazing, he puts so much detail into every piece. Although, fair warning, if you're not talking about art, he won't be particularly interested." Ren explained.
"A fellow artist?" Yusuke commented, his eyes sparkling brightly.
"Oh boy…" Futaba huffed, knowing exactly what that look in his eyes meant.
"You guys wanna go in?" Asked the glasses wearing boy.
"Yes please, it sounds intriguing!" Hifumi immediately answered with her eyes sparkling just as brightly as Yusuke's.
"Ooh! I wonder if he has any axes!" Haru excitedly pondered.
"These girls are scary…" Mishima awkwardly whispered to Ren and Ryuji.
"You get used to it." Ren bluntly responded.
"Just don't piss 'em off." Ryuji added as the group entered the shop.
"Holy crap! This stuff's amazing!" Futaba shrieked as she stared in wonder at all of the works on display.
"Wow!" Was all Shiho could gasp as she gazed at the incredibly detailed folding fans on a nearby shelf.
"Incredible…" Makoto murmured, entranced by the delicate patterns etched into the metal armour.
"Toldja it was good… He's a master of his trade." Ren bragged, gesturing at the artist himself who let out a hearty chuckle. The first Ryuji noticed was the large cross-shaped scar on the man's face.
"Holy shit, this dude looks intense…" He whispered into Ren's ear, honestly a little scared to let the man hear him.
"He is intense." Ren answered as he noticed Ann pulling her phone out of her short pocket.
"Watch this." Ren ordered Ryuji. The blond boy watched in confusion as the pigtailed girl go to take a photo of the incredible artwork. Ren watched with a knowing smile, quietly speaking up,
"Three… Two… One."
Everyone except Ren flinched as the artist suddenly barked at Ann with his gruff voice.
"Y-Yes?" Ann nervously squeaked.
"Put your phone away!" He commanded her.
"B-But, all I wanted was to-"
"But nothing! I've heard it all before! They want a photo so they can look at it again! But that sullies the art's luster! If you can look at it whenever you want, it loses that enchantment that attracted you to it in the first place, you'll get bored of it! Besides, it took me months to create these masterpieces, they all have their own stories behind them, so they're all one of a kind! If you take a photo, then they'll exist somewhere else and then they'll lose their uniqueness. These works exist only here. These works are parts of my soul. These works are 100% unique!" Daidara dramatically explained.
The teenagers stood there, completely stunned by his sudden outburst, except Ren, who already knew the whole spiel off by heart. Yusuke nodded in agreement, a passionate smile plastered on his face. Despite the overly dramatic wording of his speech, the group understood what Daidara was trying to say.
"I understand… I'm sorry, Sir." Ann apologised as she slid her phone back into her pocket.
"Thank you, young lady. At least some customers are cooperative." Daidara replied, suddenly completely calm.
"What? Like, that one tourist you had here last month?" Ren gave an example. Daidara growled in irritation.
"That's the one…" He confirmed. After noticing the teenagers staring at him with questioning expressions, he explained.
"He argued with me for a whole hour and a half! All I was asking him to do was one thing: put his phone away! And then he started going on and on about god knows what and he kept threatening me! It was a mess! It was a good thing that Dojima and his nephew showed up 'cause they were eventually able to drag him out!" He ranted before letting out a tired sigh.
"I keep telling you: get a 'no photography' sign…" Ren huffed with a knowing smile.
"Yeah, yeah, I know but-"
"Lemme guess, they're all so bland and you want something artistic displayed on the door… right?"
"Oh! Please allow me!" Yusuke excitedly offered pulling his sketchbook out of his bag.
"Hm? You wanna make one, kid?" Daidara glanced at him cautiously.
"Yes! I believe I have an idea that will suit this incredible palace of artwork's aesthetics perfectly!" The young artist declared confidently. Daidara hummed thoughtfully.
"Alright… Let's see what you've got, kid! Get sketching!" The older artist laughed, excited to see what the boy would come up with. Yusuke immediately set to work, the sound of his pencil scratching against his sketchbook echoing out through the shop. Everyone else decided to browse while Yusuke sketched to pass the time. Mishima gently tugged on Ren's sleeve, gesturing for him to lean down.
"I thought Yusuke was eccentric, but this guy takes the cake!" He whispered in disbelief.
"Did you say something?" Yusuke asked in a low voice, not even looking up from his sketch.
"N-Nothing at all!" Mishima called back with a nervous grin on his face. Ren couldn't help but laugh.
"I must say, this is a stunning katana! Was this piece perhaps inspired by the Taisho period?" Hifumi asked as she carefully picked up the weapon of interest.
"That it is! You have a good eye, young lady!" Daidara cheered, happy to hear that someone noticed the smaller details of his work.
"Ooh! I know about Taisho! 'Water Breathing! Second Form! Water Wheel!'" Futaba exclaimed with dramatic arm gestures.
"Ayyyyyy!" Ryuji giggled while Ren, Shiho and Yuuki all showed signs of acknowledgement too. Haru and Ann simply stood there with baffled faces.
"I'm… guessing that's from an anime…?" Makoto asked, completely unsure. Futaba just grinned.
"I would love to display this in my room… But, my mother would never allow me to have a katana…" Hifumi muttered sadly, staring at the katana in her hands with a longing expression.
"Let me ask you something, young lady: Why do you think I made all of these creations?" Daidara spoke up with a serious face.
"Because you wanted to?" Hifumi answered, unsure of what the artist was doing.
"And do you think I let what other people thought stop me?"
"And isn't that all you really need to do whatever you want in life?"
Hifumi stood there, thinking about the man's words before a large, determined smirk made its way onto her face.
"You're absolutely right… I would like to purchase this katana please!" She declared, carefully placing it on the counter.
"That's what I like to hear! I'd recommend keeping it in the sheath when you're public though… I don't need another complaint from the police…" Daidara chuckled as he took her payment and carefully handing the intricate blade back to Hifumi.
"Understood, sir!" Hifumi giggled, delicately clutching the sword to her chest.
"It is done!" Yusuke announced with a prideful smile.
"Oh? Then let's see it, boy!" Daidara demanded with a huge grin on his face. Yusuke placed his sketchbook onto the counter and displayed his work. It was simple yet beautiful. Traditional style drawings of cherry blossoms, clouds and dragons made a border around the paper while 'No Photography' was written in the middle in graceful calligraphy.
"Oooooh! It looks wonderful!" Haru cooed, clasping her hands together in excitement.
"Even though it's just a rough sketch, it already looks amazing!" Gasped Shiho.
"There ain't all that much on it, though…" Ryuji muttered, tilting his head in confusion.
"Sometimes simplicity is key!" Yusuke retorted, still beaming widely. Everyone stared at Daidara in anticipation. He hummed thoughtfully to himself before finally speaking.
"It's perfect! You are truly talented, my boy!" He exclaimed, patting Yusuke on the shoulder energetically.
"Yes! Yes! I hope you don't mind if I add some colour to it and go over the writing with a calligraphy brush!"
"Not at all! What colours did you have in mind?"
"I think a pastel colour scheme would suit this perfectly; you know, some pink there, a bit of blue there, some lighter shades of grey mixed with white, maybe even a little violet."
"Incredible, that's exactly what I had in mind"
"Haha! Great minds think alike, my boy!"
Everyone else awkwardly stood there, not sure how to butt into the two artists' passionate rambling. Ren couldn't help but smile. He remembered how dejected Yusuke was when he was stuck in his slump, so it was nice to see him so excited about his work.
"You're really gonna far, you know that? Keep working hard and you'll be renowned as a master artist who moved people with each piece he creates before you know it!" Daidara declared as he happily ruffled Yusuke's hair.
A huge, ecstatic, beaming smile spread across Yusuke's face at those words.
"Th-Thank you, sir!"
"For what? Speaking the truth? Just keep at it, kid!" Daidara laughed heartily. Everyone smiled sweetly at the sheer amount of pride displayed by Yusuke's face. The scarred artist glanced up at his clock.
"Well, time's getting on… You kids should go do something else. The weather's great outside! Don't waste your day in here! Now, go on, get!" He gently shooed the group towards the door. Everyone complied with Yusuke and Hifumi both stopping to politely bow at the artist before scurrying off. Ren was the last person left in the store.
Ren froze and turned at the mention of his name.
"Those're some great friends you've got there… Take good care of 'em, okay?" Daidara instructed the boy with a wise grin on his face. Ren smiled back.
"I will!" Was all he needed to say before running after the rest of the group.
"Oooh…" Shiho mumbled as a shop caught her attention. Mishima stopped and read the sign.
"Tatsumi Textiles… I didn't know you were interested in this kinda stuff, Suzui…" He remarked in surprise.
"Well, I only got into it recently… My mum taught me how to knit when I was in hospital to help me pass the time and it turns out that knitting is quite relaxing… So, yeah, it kinda became a hobby." Shiho bashfully explained.
"That's lovely. I hope you're better at knitting than I am; I tried once and the only thing I was able to make was a tangled mess of wool…" Makoto giggled quietly.
"I'm better than I expected to be! I've managed to make some socks for my dad before! I'm learning how to make sweaters and ponchos right now." Shiho proudly admitted.
"This don't mean that you're gonna be giving us ugly Christmas sweaters each year, does it?" Asked Ryuji cautiously.
"Oh, you know it does." Shiho smirked.
"And I will wear them with pride and love!" Ann promised.
"You useless lesbian…" Futaba huffed.
"I am her, do you have a problem with that?" Ann grinned back.
"Absolutely none. Keep being superb. Also I would love any and all ugly Christmas sweaters you would make, please and thank you." Ren butted in with his usual cheeky smile.
"Please god, no…" Morgana let out an exasperated sigh at Ren's antics.
"It's called fashion, bitch. Look it up." Ren retorted.
"I don't think I'll ever get over Ren arguing with his cat…" Yuuki mumbled, watching the raven haired boy and his black cat with an amused expression.
"It ain't my fault he's a lil bastard." Ren pouted.
"Excuse me?!" Protested Morgana.
"See what I mean?" Ren snickered, clearly succeeding in his mission of annoying Morgana.
"Say goodbye to your ankles…" Morgana warned Ren ominously as he slid back down into the bag to sulk.
"Um… We've been standing outside of this store for a while… Are we going in or…?" Hifumi awkwardly spoke up.
"I must agree with Hifumi's point; the people across the road are staring at us." Yusuke added.
"Ah… Good point... I suppose we do look suspicious to any passersby…" Makoto commented.
"But do they really think that a bunch of 'rowdy teenagers' would rob a textiles store?" Ryuji huffed, shoving his hands into his pockets.
"...Also a good point."
"Then… In we go?" Ren asked, gesturing for everyone to walk past.
"In we go!" Ann cheered as she gently shoved Shiho through the door.
"Suzui-san, pardon me if I come across as forward, but would I be able to request you to knit something for me? I would be more than happy to pay you, of course!" Haru politely enquired.
"If it's not too complicated, then sure!" Shiho replied cheerfully.
"It shouldn't be complicated, I don't think… It's simply a tea cozy." Haru stated.
"Those things you put over tea pots to keep them warm?"
"Yes, exactly! I enjoy having tea parties, but the tea always goes cold before we can finish the pot… Thus, wanting a tea cozy." Haru explained with a disappointed frown, remembering the cold tea.
"Ahhh… Yeah, that sucks… Well, it'd just be a sleeve kinda thing with holes for the spout and handle, right? I'll see what I can do!" Shiho accepted Haru's request with a sweet smile.
"Thank you so much!" Haru giggled excitedly.
"Oh, Shiho, you really gotta go to one of Haru's tea parties! They're amazing! Plus, you know how Haru's a rich girl? She always manages to get the most delicious cakes and pastries! They're soooo good!" Ann squealed, her mouth watering at just the thought of those cakes.
"Oh, yes! We simply must have another tea party soon! And invite Shiho and Hifumi, of course!" Haru announced with a happy giggle.
"Oh, that sounds lovely!" Hifumi chuckled fondly.
"Wow… Aren't you a lucky lady, Makoto?" Shiho joked.
"Damn right, I am." Makoto smirked back with a wink as she wrapped her arm around Haru's waist.
"Since when were you so bold?" Ryuji asked, dumbfounded by Makoto's forwardness.
"Since I can easily kick your ass, next question." Makoto retorted.
Ren snorted as Ryuji just stood there looking defeated.
"The hell, dude?"
"S-S-Sorry…" Ren eventually gasped out between giggles, patting his boyfriend encouragingly on the back. As the group browsed through all of the different wools, fabrics, stuffed toys, and whatever else on display, a loud voice from the back of the shop startled them.
"Ma! I keep tellin' ya! You gotta stop trying to carry the heavy stuff! You're not as young as you used to be, y'know!" It said with a concerned tone.
"Are you perhaps calling me old?" A softer voice teased back.
"Argh, you know that ain't what I meant! Look, just… Gimme that box, could you get the stuff for the kid's workshops and put 'em on the table for me? It starts in half an hour and I wanna make sure everything's ready."
"Alright then, dear."
"Thanks, Ma." The gruff voice turned softer as a tall man with bleached hair and glasses entered the shop, carrying a large box before promptly freezing.
"Whoa, that's a lot of people!" He exclaimed in surprise.
"You, uh, haven't been waiting long, have ya?" He asked worriedly as he carefully placed the box down and began unpacking its contents.
"No, we've just been browsing." Makoto assured him. The man let out a relieved sigh.
"Hey, Kanji." Ren casually greeted him. The man looked up at the raven haired boy.
"Oh! Hey, Ren! 's rare to see ya hangin' out with so many people." He greeted back with a friendly smile.
"You saying that I haven't got any friends?" Ren asked, faking an offended expression.
"Oh, don't you start…" Kanji huffed. Ren giggled cheekily.
"So, I'm guessing these're your friends from Tokyo, huh?" Kanji asked.
"Yep. They came to visit."
"Cool. I'm Kanji Tatsumi, I run this shop with my Ma. Nice to meet all of ya." Kanji introduced himself casually. Everyone politely responded with their own 'nice to meet you's.
"By the way, what's with the glasses? You lose your contacts or something?" Ren asked, pointing at Kanji's face.
"Ah, I dropped 'em on the floor an' Naoto accidentally stood on 'em and broke 'em. So, now I gotta get new ones." The man explained with an amused smile.
"Yeah, whoops is right."
"Pardon me for interrupting, but how exactly do you know Ren? The two of you seem awfully familiar." Yusuke butted in, unable to keep his curiosity in check any longer.
"It's a small town; everyone knows everyone." Ren chuckled with a laid back grin.
"Plus, one time when he was a little kid, I scared off some kids that were bullying him and he ended up following me and my friends around like a lil lost puppy." Kanji added, smirking widely.
"They don't need to know about that…" Ren hissed through his teeth, not wanting his friends to hear about any embarrassing childhood stories of his. At all.
"Awww, did you hang out with the big kids?" Hifumi giggled with a huge grin on her face.
"Since when do you tease people?" Ren grumbled in irritation, surprised by Hifumi's comment.
"You haven't seen her at school. She makes many sarcastic comments about our spoiled classmates." Yusuke bluntly informed him.
"Well, maybe if they weren't so detached from reality, I wouldn't need to." Hifumi retorted with a huff.
"...Damn. Okay then." Was all Ren could say, caught completely off guard by this side of Hifumi that he'd never really seen before.
"So, is there anything I can help you guys with?" Kanji asked as he delicately placed beautiful fabrics onto the displays.
"No, not really, I mean, only one of us really does this kinda stuff…" Mishima awkwardly replied, tapping his foot against the floor.
"Oh yeah? Who's that?" Asked Kanji, standing up straight and placing the empty box in the corner of the room.
"Um, me." Shiho raised her hand.
"So, what kinda thing do you do? Sewing? Knitting? Crocheting?" Kanji persisted, hoping to help this girl as much as possible.
"You been doing it long?"
"No, not really. My mum just wanted to help me find a new hobby when I was stuck in hospital, since I can't really play volleyball anymore…" Shiho quietly explained. Ann couldn't help but frown at those words and gently squeezed Shiho's hand.
"Damn, I'm sorry to hear that… But, it's great that you've found something else to enjoy!" Kanji gently encouraged her.
"Here you go, dear." A soft voice called out as an older lady entered the room, carrying a small box with fabric, stuffing, scissors and sewing kits.
"Thanks, Ma." Kanji murmured with a sweet smile as he took the box from his mother.
"What're those for?" Ryuji asked.
"Kanji runs a workshop for the small children." The lady informed them.
"I teach 'em how to sew and knit and all that stuff. It's pretty helpful stuff to learn plus gives kids stuff to do when they're on break." Kanji added as he placed everything onto the table in small sets.
"That sounds lovely." Haru giggled.
"What're you teaching them today?" Asked Ren, pushing his glasses up absent-mindedly.
"We're just gonna be making some small stuffed animals." Kanji answered, putting a pair of scissors down at each spot.
"That sounds like fun…" Ann mumbled.
"You wanna give it a go?" Kanji offered.
"Sure!" Ann cheered excitedly.
"You really wanna be the only teenager making a teddy bear?" Yuuki checked, personally finding the idea a little embarrassing.
"I get a cute teddy bear out of it soooooo… Yes." Ann proudly replied, a huge grin plastered on her face.
"Could I make one too, please?" Shiho pleaded.
"Sure thing, the kids will be here in a lil bit, so just wait a few minutes, okay?" Kanji requested as he placed the now empty box in the corner with the others.
"Thank you!" The two girls cheered excitedly as they carefully knelt down next to the table.
"Something tells me we're gonna be here longer than we anticipated…" Ryuji muttered quietly to Ren. The raven haired chuckled in amusement.
"Yup. Sure seems like it."
"I gotta say those actually look pretty good!" Yuuki laughed, staring admiringly at the small, floral patterned bears in Ann and Shiho's hands.
"I know, right?! It turned out so much better than I thought it would!" Ann exclaimed with a big, beaming smile on her face.
"The rose pattern on it suits you perfectly!" Haru remarked, clinging delicately onto Makoto's arm.
"But, of course! It's like I always say-"
"A beautiful rose has thorns." All of the Phantom Thieves finished the pigtailed girl's sentence with knowing smiles.
"Just how often does she say that?" Yuuki enquired in shock, a baffled smile slowly creeping onto his face.
"Way too often." Futaba huffed.
"To be fair, she only says it when she absolutely destroys shadows…" Ren defended her.
"So, what you're saying is… She's a total badass." Shiho snickered as she carefully held her teddy close to her chest.
"That's exactly what I'm saying."
"Damn right!" Ann cheered, patting Ren on the shoulder enthusiastically. As the group laughed, a loud growl echoed out.
"My apologies…" Yusuke mumbled, averting his gaze from everyone staring at him.
"That's the second time today…" Hifumi muttered in concern.
"Do you ever eat a proper meal?" Asked Yuuki.
"...Define 'proper'." Yusuke requested.
Everyone just stared at him in disbelief.
"...Yeah, let's go get something to eat." Ren announced, glancing at Yusuke worriedly.
"Good idea…" Makoto sighed.
"Where do we go?" Futaba asked, rocking back and forth on her heels.
"Well, I mean, we're literally like three minutes away from Junes… Should we go to the food court there?" Suggested Ren with an unsure shrug of his shoulders.
"Eh, might as well." Ryuji answered as he slung his arm around Ren's shoulders.
"If it's nearby, then sure." Haru politely responded.
"What kind of stuff do they have?" Asked Ann.
"It's a food court… All sortsa stuff, I guess…" Ren mumbled with another shrug of his shoulders. He wasn't trying to be dismissive, he just wasn't really sure how to say that the main place kids go to eat in his hometown was a supermarket, to a bunch of people who grew up in a huge city with hundreds of restaurants. He knew it was silly, but he couldn't help but feel a little embarrassed.
"Welp, here we are." He declared as they approached their destination. Everyone stayed silent as they stared at the building, obviously caught off guard. Ren was the only one stood there with a straight face.
"Wait, so when you said 'Junes'... You meant, like, the supermarket chain?" Yuuki checked awkwardly.
"Everyone our age hangs out here?" Futaba added, squinting up at the store.
"I'm starting to get what you meant when you said there wasn't much to do here…" Ryuji mumbled.
"So, where is the food court?" Yusuke asked, more preoccupied by his hunger.
"On the roof." Ren informed him with a point. The group followed Ren's finger and glanced upwards, hearing the casual chatter and children's laughter.
"Well then, shall we go?" Hifumi asked, gesturing for everyone to walk in front of her.
"Sure thing." Makoto sweetly answered, gently tugging on Haru's hand as the group wandered through the doors.
"Y'know, there's a lot more food here than I thought there would be." Ryuji remarked as he took a large chomp out of his burger.
"Although, I suppose it is a supermarket?" Yuuki pointed out, waiting for his meat buns to cool down a little.
"True… But, the shop and the stalls are separate things though, aren't they?" Ann questioned before gulping down her milkshake.
"I dunno… I'm not a businessman…" mumbled Yuuki as he gingerly nibbled on his meat buns.
"Regardless, the food is delicious." Yusuke contentedly chuckled, dipping his udon noodles into their broth.
"Are there any other places to eat?" Makoto asked, delicately sipping her hot chocolate.
"Yeah, they're both in the shopping district. There's a stall that sells steak skewers 'cause, I mean, steak is Inaba's delicacy… And then, there's Aiya's, which is a Chinese diner." Ren informed them as he happily munched on his curry.
"Oh, so you brought us here 'cause there's more variety with the food?" Hifumi spoke up, flinching after taking a sip of her piping hot green tea.
"Yeah… I didn't know if you guys would like them, so I thought I'd play it safe, y'know?" Ren awkwardly chuckled.
"Yeah, that's fair enough." Futaba nodded as she blissfully slurped her yakisoba, swinging her legs childishly under the table.
"Although, I wouldn't mind trying them." Shiho sweetly told Ren, scooping some cream off her crépe and licking it.
"Alright, well, we've got two weeks together. I'll make sure to take you guys to them." Ren noted.
"Now that you mention it… When we walked past a diner, I noticed a sign that said the 'Rainy Day Challenge'. What exactly is that?" Haru spoke up, offering a forkful of her cake to Makoto, who happily accepted it.
"Oh yeah, that's Aiya's. It's a special challenge that they only offer on rainy days, obviously. It's basically a huge bowl with piles and piles of rice and meat, and if you finish it in a certain amount of time, it's free. If you don't finish, you gotta pay up." Ren explained.
"Oh! So, it's similar to what we do!" Haru remarked cheerfully.
"Yeah, pretty much."
"Have you ever been able to beat it?" Hifumi asked Ren.
"No… My mum took me there when I was a kid and we both tried it but we failed and then ended up throwing up when we got home… Dad was not impressed… I remember he said, and I quote, 'Why the hell would you encourage him to eat something that's bigger than him?'" Ren chuckled nostalgically as that memory flashed through his head.
"Pfft, yeah, that's fair enough." Laughed Yuuki.
"Just how big is that thing?!" Yusuke gasped, clearly a little tempted to try it, although trying to convince himself that he wasn't.
"Really?! You weren't able to beat it? You beat the Big Bang Challenge! C'mon, you can beat some meat bowl!" Ryuji howled, slapping Ren's shoulder encouragingly.
"He what?! Do you have a black hole for a stomach?!" Shiho shrieked in disbelief.
"Ryuji… Do you really think I'm gonna retry something that made me puke?" Ren smiled exasperatedly.
"Considering how impulsive you are… Yes." Makoto huffed with a smirk.
As everyone laughed and brought up other stupid thing Ren had done on impulse, a brown haired girl who was walking past recognised the head of raven hair and wandered over to the teens' table.
The glasses wearing boy flinched at the sudden mention of his name before turning around to look up at the source of the voice. Everyone else watched in curiosity as the girl stood next to their table.
"Oh, hey, Nanako!" Ren cheerfully greeted her. The brown haired girl giggled happily as she fiddled with her pink hair clips and glanced at the large group.
"Seems like you did pretty well in Tokyo, huh?" She remarked, placing her hands behind her back.
"Yep! Here, let me introduce you: everyone, this is Nanako Dojima, I've known her since elementary school. We met 'cause her cousin is one of Kanji's best friends." Ren announced as he stood up from his seat.
"Hello! It's nice to meet all of you!" Nanako giggled with a sweet smile on her face. Ren smiled back and lifted his hand as he spoke up again.
"And Nanako, this is: Ryuji, Ann, Shiho, Yuuki, Yusuke, Hifumi, Makoto, Haru, Futaba, aaaaand you already know Morgana." He informed her, pointing at each person as he introduced them. Everyone said hello back to Nanako with big smiles. Morgana purred contentedly as Nanako patted his head.
"So, this is the boyfriend you keep gushing about?" Nanako asked while staring at Ryuji with a smirk.
"I, um, I wouldn't say that I've been gushing about him…" Ren mumbled bashfully as his cheeks flushed a bright pink.
"I would." Nanako stated cheekily. Ryuji grinned widely at his blushing boyfriend as everyone else laughed quietly to themselves.
"Awww, babe, did you miss me that much?" He teased.
Everyone giggled at Ren's shy pout when Nanako suddenly remembered something.
"Oh! Right! What about that Goro friend of yours? Is he here?" She innocently asked. Ren instantly tensed up and fell silent. The whole group glanced up at him worriedly.
"He, um… He couldn't make it…" Ren muttered, awkwardly scratching the back of his neck and avoiding eye contact.
"Oh, that's a shame… I hope I can see him sometime!" Nanako sighed, twirling a lock of hair around her finger.
"Yeah… Yeah, so do I…" Ren mumbled quietly.
"Well, I've gotta go, I promised Yosuke and Teddie that I'd help out around the store today! Oh, and Otonashi-sensei asked me to remind you that our piano recital has been scheduled for the end of August." Nanako announced as she began to slowly walk away.
"Right, yeah, thanks for letting me know. I'll see if I make it into practise sessions." Ren quietly replied.
"Well, bye guys! It was lovely meeting you!" Nanako called out with a friendly wave as she jogged off.
"It was nice to meet you too!" Makoto called back, as everyone else shouted out a quick 'bye'. Silence quickly fell over the table again as everyone glanced at Ren, who was quietly stood there staring at the floor. Ryuji gently reached out and squeezed his hand. Ren flinched as that tiny gesture pulled him back into reality.
"I'm fine." He choked out, sitting himself back down next to Ryuji who softly stroked Ren's hand with his thumb. The rest of the group sat there awkwardly, trying to think of anything they could say to cheer Ren up. After a few minutes, the raven haired boy himself spoke up.
"Hey, so, I discovered this series a few days ago, what do you guys say to binge watching it tonight? We could order some food from Aiya's, change into our pyjamas and snuggle into the pillow fort! Well? What do you say? That sound good?" He suggested with a smile on his face that was clearly forced. It was obvious to everyone else that he was just trying to change the subject. Although, if he didn't want to talk about it, they weren't going to force him. Ryuji just fondly smiled back at him and squeezed his hand again.
"That sounds great, babe."