Akira rolled his neck as he stood in the hallway, waiting for Ann and Ryuji. Usually he was the last one here, but it seems like he got lucky today. As he stood there, two third year girls went by, gossiping between themselves.
“Did you hear about the new transfer student?” one whispered.
“Huh? Didn’t we just get one?” her friend asked.
“Yeah, but this guy is like a total hottie.” the one swooned.
“What? No way! I want to see him!” her friend replied.
New transfer student? Akira hadn’t heard anything about that. Morgana peeked his head out and hummed.
“That’s odd. I didn’t hear anything about that.” Morgana muttered.
“Hey, there you are.” Ann called as she climbed the steps.
She leaned over, panting a bit before straightening up and grabbing his arm.
“Whoa! Where are we going, Lady Ann?” Morgana cried.
“There’s a new transfer student coming today. I want to go see them!” she said excited.
Morgana huffed, annoyed that Ann was interested in this new student.
“I don’t see what the big deal is.” he replied.
Ryuji happened to be walking by then and when he saw them, he paused. Ann grabbed his arm too.
“Whoa! Easy, Ann!” Ryuji stated.
“Come on. I want to get a front row seat.” she stressed.
They got to the front gate and noticed a few people milling around, all clearly here to see the new student as well. As they stood around, they heard the rumors already swirling.
“I heard he’s from really far away and he got transferred her to escape an abusive ex!” one girl whispered.
“I heard she’s so beautiful that she had a stalker in her last town.” one guy said.
“Geez, we don’t even know if it’s a guy or girl?” Ryuji muttered.
A few people shifted away from them when they realized it was Ryuji and Akira. Ryuji scowled and glared at them.
“Yeah, apparently they literally just transferred this morning. No one knows who they are, not even the teachers.” Ann whispered.
A slick black car pulled up just then and Ryuji made a noise.
“Wow, what a show off.” Ryuji muttered.
Akira couldn’t help, but agree. As the car stopped, everyone waited with baited breath. Suddenly the door opened and a tall man stepped out. His hair was red like fresh blood and his eyes were covered by a pair of dark sunglasses. He wore the school uniform, but the tie was missing and the first two buttons were undone. His bag was over his shoulder and when he smiled, some of the girls swooned.
“Oh great, just what we need.” Ryuji muttered.
Ryuji didn’t seem interested at all, but Akira found himself curious. Of course, people started talking immediately.
“Did you see him? He’s so hot.”
“Aw man, I was hoping for a cute chick. This blows.”
“He seems kind of stuck up, don’cha think?”
Ann looked around and crossed her arms.
“The rumor mill is already starting.” she muttered angrily.
The new student started to walk towards the front doors when he stopped before the three. He slowly tilted his sunglasses down as he looked them over, his dark eyes now on display.
“Well now, I didn’t expect to find a beauty like you to be in a backwater school like this.” he purred sweetly as he dropped his bag to the ground.
Ann flushed and looked away as he reached out his hands, but instead of taking Ann’s hand, he grabbed Akira’s. Flushed brightly, Akira’s head snapped up and down as he glanced between their now conjoined hands and the other student’s face.
“And tell me, what is your name, sweetheart?” he said smiling.
“A-Akira!” Ann squeaked.
“Hey man, Akira’s a dude, you know!” Ryuji snapped.
The student glanced over at the two of them and sniffed, though his eyes stayed on Ryuji for a little longer than Akira was comfortable with.
“I know that and he is quite simply the most beautiful person I have ever seen. Tell me, beautiful, how about you and I go someplace for dinner tonight?” he asked wiggling his eyebrows.
Akira was stunned silent and Ryuji looked like he was about to blow a gasket. Just then a few teachers came out and started to break-up the crowd that had gathered. As they were ushered back into the school, Akira was handed a piece of paper and a wink before the new student disappeared into the crowd. When he got back to class, he slowly opened the note and flushed again. The name ‘Renji’ and a phone number was written on there with a heart. Ann turned in her seat and stared.
“Do you think he was serious?” Ann asked.
“I’m not sure. It seems very odd to me, but then again, he could be.” Morgana said nervously.
A large clap made them look up. Sadayo Kawakami stood in front of the room, clapping, and beside her, the new transfer student. He threw Akira a wink when their eyes met.
“Students, settle down please. I know this is an exciting time, but try to control yourselves.” she demanded.
The class settled and she coughed.
“As you all heard, we have a new student joining our class. Please introduce yourself to the class.” she asked as the new student stepped forward.
“Hello, my name is Renji Abarai. I hope you all take care of me.” he said politely and with a bow.
The class started to mutter, but the teacher got it back under control quickly.
“Let’s see. I suppose I could put Renji-kun behind Akira-kun. Akira-kun, please raise your hand.” she said.
Akira raised his hand and he saw Renji beam with delight. Renji walked over to his new seat and sat down. Akira could feel the eyes on his back and sighed. Morgana peeked his head out and frowned.
“At least he’s not this way with Lady Ann.” he muttered.
Akira threw him a glare.
“Ah, sorry.” Morgana said.
The rest of the class was silent, but watching. Akira soon fell into the daze of schoolwork as he concentrated on getting ready for exams, but that’s when he felt a brush of something against his back. He ignored it. A few moments later, he felt it again and shuddered. Some time later, he felt it again, this time on the back of his neck. Slapping his hand on his neck, he looked back. Renji gave him a smile and a little wave and Akira huffed. He waved back, but went back to his work. A few minutes later, he felt another brush to his neck and turned around fully. The teacher noticed this and huffed.
“Akira-kun! Is there a problem?” she demanded.
Akira shook his head slowly and turned back around. The rest of the time, he ignored the brushes to his neck, the touches to his back and the muttering around him. When class was over, Akira grabbed his stuff and bolted, making Morgana yelped.
“What was that about?” Ann asked when she caught up later.
“It’ was that Renji guy. He was touching Akira all class.” Morgana explained.
Ryuji, who just joined them, scowled and kicked a wall.
“The prick. You want me to set him straight?” Ryuji asked cracking his knuckles.
Akira shook his head, but sighed. Just then, Renji appeared and smiled brightly. Ryuji scowled and stepped between Akira and Renji.
“And what do you want?” Ryuji demanded.
Renji seemed to stare for the longest time, head tilted to the side before smiling and grabbing Ryuji’s hand.
“Well, hello there, darling, how are you on this fine day?” he purred.
Ryuji immediately ripped his hand away and took a step back, flushed. Akira glared angrily and pulled Ryuji beside him. Ann placed her hands on her hips and huffed.
“What is with you?” she demanded.
He eyed her boredly before sniffing and turning his head away.
“I’m not interested in talking to you, woman.” he replied.
“W-Woman! My name is Ann!” she snapped.
“I don’t bother to learn the names of the ugly few.” Renji replied, dismissively.
“U-Ugly! How dare he! Let me at him, I’ll set him straight!” Morgana hissed, trying to get out of the bag.
Akira quickly wrapped his arms around it to keep him inside. Renji turned his attention back to Ryuji and winked.
“So tell me, which one of you would like to go out on a date first? Don’t worry about cost, I can pay.” he said sweetly.
“How about neither of us, asshole!” Ryuji snapped.
“And why not? I mean, if it’s because I’m a guy, don’t worry about it. I will treat you better than any woman ever could.” Renji said flippedly.
“It’s not about you being a guy!” Ryuji snarled.
“Then what is it about?” Renji asked.
Akira grew tired of this game. Without a thought, he grabbed Ryuji by his shirt and pulled him into a deep kiss. Ann just crossed her arms.
“It’s about the fact that they have been dating for two months now.” she replied boredly.
Renji, as well as the other students in the hallway, looked shocked as Ryuji and Akira pulled away. Both were flushed deeply and Akira’s glasses were all fogged up. Akira grabbed Ryuji by the hand and started to drag him away. As they walked away, Ryuji turned back and threw up the middle finger in Renji’s direction.
“Eat shit, asshole!” he yelled.
Ann sighed and chased after them as Renji just stood there, eyes wide. The whispers were insanely loud now and Renji’s eyes became dark as he glared.
On the rooftop, Ryuji let out a laugh and rubbed the back of his neck.
“I guess that is one way to get the rumor mill turning.” Ryuji said with a blush.
Akira just sat next to him, pleased. Ann showed up a few minutes later and shook her head.
“You guys really had to go there, huh? You know you both could get kicked out. I heard the principal is super homophobic!” she explained.
“Who cares? It was totally worth it to see the look on that asshole’s face.” Ryuji said grabbing Akira’s hand.
Akira nodded as Morgana climbed out of his bag.
“True, but you both still should be careful. Lady Ann is right. If you piss off the wrong person, you could get hurt.” Morgana stated.
Just then, the door opened and Ryuji dropped Akira’s hand. Mishima peeked his head around the door and gave a wave.
“Hey, Mishima, what’s up?” Ryuji asked.
“Ah, is this a good time?” he asked nervously.
“Always, man!” Ryuji said with a smile.
Mishima walked over to a chair and sat down.
“Well, it’s about a request for the Phantom Thieves. Check it out.” Mishima showed them his phone.
The forum was pulled up and the top comment was brand new. Ann leaned in and squinted.
“Renji Abari needs a change of heart. He’s an extremely manipulative and abusive person.” Ann read.
“Wow, just what we need. Another asshole in our school.” Ryuji muttered annoyed.
“That’s not all. I did a little digging to see if this is legit and I did find something, but it’s mostly speculation and rumors right now.” Mishima leaning in a bit.
Everyone else leaned in too. He looked nervous.
“The reason he was transferred to our school was because of his parents. His father is a politician and Renji-kun is involved in a huge scandal right now. They moved him with the hopes the press would die down a bit.” Mishima explained.
“Ok, but what did he do?” Ryuji asked.
“He’s involved in the disappearance of another student from his old school. Apparently, he might be the prime suspect!” Mishima hissed.
Just then, the door opened and Renji appeared. Mishima went completely pale and Ryuji scowled as he stood up.
“Can we help you?” he demanded.
Renji just flipped a piece of hair over his shoulder and smiled.
“I was just wandering around, trying to figure out the layout of my new school is all.” he said sweetly.
“Except no one is supposed to be up here.” Ann stated.
“Yes, so it seems we are all in a bind, hm?” Renji replied.
Akira eyed him with calm interest before standing up and grabbing his bag, Morgana already inside. Placing his bag on his shoulder, he moved towards the door. He stopped to stare Renji down before walking past him. Ryuji, Ann and Mishima quickly followed. As they walked down the stairs, Mishima looked at them.
“Do you think he heard me?” he whispered.
“Even if he did, the rumor mill is already going, so those rumors would have gotten to us eventually.” Ann stated.
In the main hallway, they split up, but Akira couldn't help, but wonder where they went from here. Renji never showed up for the rest of the day and Akira had an odd feeling about the reason why. As they left school for the day, Ryuji and Akira walked together. Ann had explained she wanted to stop and see Shiho, so she went off the other way.
“Man, what a pain.” Ryuji muttered.
Akira could only nod in agreement. As they walked, they were suddenly cut off by a car. Ryuji scowled, about to freak out when Renji rolled down the window and winked.
“Hey there, beauties. Care for a ride?” he asked.
“No.” Ryuji stated coldly as Akira shook his head.
“Oh come on. I think we got off on the wrong foot. Just let me make it up to you both.” he pouted.
“Listen, man. There’s nothing to make up. We just want to be left alone, got it?” Ryuji demanded.
Renji looked between them before sighing deeply.
“I can see one of you has your mind made up about me. Akira-kun, please just give me a chance. I mean, we are both transferring under bad circumstances. I’m sure we can get along if we tried.” Renji begged.
Akira’s bleeding heart was getting the better of him. He looked at Ryuji, who glanced between them.
“You can’t be serious.” Ryuji hissed when he caught on.
Akira gave him a wide eyed pout. Ryuji turned his head away, but was flushing deeply.
“I happen to know this sweet little ramen place nearby~ I heard someone likes ramen.” Renji sang.
Ryuji’s will crumbled and he bowed his head in defeat.
“UGH! Fine!” Ryuji scowled.
The door opened and Ryuji slid in first and then Akira. Renji was all too pleased to start telling them his whole life story, about all the woes he had dealt with over the years. Ryuji and Akira shared a look. This ramen better be worth it.
Close to two hours later, Ryuji sighed as he leaned back in the booth. The ramen really had been worth it, even Akira could admit that. His stomach was nice and full. Morgana, whom he had snuck some pieces to every time Renji was distracted, purred lightly in Akira’s bag. Renji, they learned, was a blowhard, but not a bad guy from what they could tell. He was a little overly flirty with the staff, but kept his hands to himself so far.
“So, Akira-kun, Ryuji-kun, please tell me about yourselves, I am dying to know more.” Renji asked finally.
Akira and Ryuji eyed him before Ryuji huffed.
“Not much to tell in my case. I mean, lived here all my life, was on the track team, yada yada.” Ryuji said waving his hand.
Morgana nodded his head. They had made the decision to keep Renji at arm’s length. The less they told him, the better.
“Ah….Akira-kun! What about you?” Renji asked, but his smile was sharp.
Akira gave a shrug.
“You know, I looked into you a little myself.” Renji said as he played with his chopsticks.
Akira felt himself stiffen. That never went well.
“I mean, it’s noble what you did for that girl, but things like that will just weigh you down in this world.” Renji said simply.
Ryuji scowled and Akira placed his hand on Ryuji’s under the table.
“He did what was right.” Ryuji stated.
“And it cost him everything. I mean, do you think that is fair? You helped someone out and then ended up with more problems because of it?” Renji asked.
Morgana was growling now. He didn’t like where this was going. Renji leaned in.
“And you, Ryuji-kun. I’ve heard the rumors there too. Star of the track team suddenly shatters his leg right before the big race. Your whole team turned against you, huh? And your poor mother, she couldn’t afford to have your leg fixed properly, so you suffer with pain.” Renji continued.
Ryuji squeezed Akira’s hand hard under the table and Akira resisted the urge to flinch. It was so tight.
“What are you getting at?” Ryuji demanded.
“Well, what I am getting at is simple; I like you both and I want to keep you both. Akira-kun is cool, calm and collected, but I can practically taste the fire under your skin. And you Ryuji-kun, are like a firecracker. I want to see what happens when you explode.” Renji’s grin got wider.
“My father is extremely wealthy and has amazing connections all around the world.” he explained
Renji reached out and held Akira’s and Ryuji’s other hands, eyes locked on Akira’s. Ryuji tried to pull away, but it was like a vice.
“Akira-kun, imagine what I could do for you. I could clear your record, wipe it clean. No one would ever have to know about it. You would be free.” Renji stated.
Akira sucked in a breath. He turned to Ryuji.
“And you, Ryuji-kun. I know of several amazing doctors who could fix you leg. Imagine, being able to run again with little to no complications. And with a few strings, I could definitely get you back on the track team again or even one better. You can go back to the thing you love.” Renji cooed.
Akira and Ryuji both found themselves speechless, maybe even a little hypnotized. Ryuji’s hands were shaking and Akira was not much better. He released them and leaned back in his seat.
“Just think about it.” Renji finished.
Ryuji didn’t think twice, he got up from the table and bolted. Akira looked between them before nodding his head at Renji and chasing after Ryuji. He found him a block away, leaning on a wall with one arm and clenching his knee with his other hand. He slammed his fist into the wall and cursed.
“That bastard. That motherfucking bastard!” Ryuji growled.
“Easy, Ryuji. Just relax.” Morgana muttered as Akira placed a hand on his shoulder.
Ryuji ripped himself away and glared at them.
“How can you be so calm? Don’t you see what he is doing?” Ryuji pointed.
“Of course we see it, but you need to calm down. Don’t make a scene.” Morgana said looking around.
Ryuji grabbed his hair and yanked, but Akira gently pulled his hands free and held them. Ryuji glanced at him and his eyes were watery.
“Do you know how long I waited to hear something like that? To hear someone say they could fix me? Fix my leg? That’s all I’ve ever wanted since Kamoshida stole it from me.” Ryuji whispered before shaking his head.
“But I feel like if I say yes, I’m making a deal with the devil.” Ryuji finished.
“Remember what the post said. Renji is extremely manipulative. He’s probably going to hold this over you until he gets everything he can from you. Don’t let him win!” Morgana hissed.
Akira looked at the ground. To have his record wiped clean would be amazing. He could move back home, return to his old life if that happened. But at what cost? Morgana was right.
“So what do we do now?” Ryuji asked.
“We head to Mementos. If the post is right, then his shadow should be there.” Morgana replied.
“He doesn’t have a Palace?” Ryuji asked and Morgana shook his head.
“No, but if he did, it would be at his old school or house. I don’t sense one coming from him though, so it must not have formed yet.” Morgana explained.
Akira nodded and Ryuji rubbed his eyes.
“I know this is difficult, but we need to stop him. You two can’t be the only ones he is looking to go after. If we don’t do something, there is a high chance he could harm another student.” Morgana explained.
With that decided, they headed for the train station. That night, Akira blinked as his phone went off. Putting on his glasses, he saw it was Ryuji.
“I’m kind of nervous about tomorrow. Do you think we will be able to change his heart?” Ryuji texted.
“Of course. He is no match for us.” Akira replied with a winky face.
Ryuji sent back an emoji with a shy blush and Akira smiled before laying back down.
Ann whistled as she stood in the station accessway the next day.
“That is quite...troubling.” Yusuke agreed.
“Why did you guys even agree to go with him?” she demanded.
Ryuji winced and rubbed the back of his neck.
“He offered us free food.” Ryuji admitted as Akira gave a nod.
“I see. It makes sense then. Most likely he knew you both wouldn’t cause a scene in a restaurant. He is very clever.” Yusuke remarked.
“Yeah, really clever.” Ryuji muttered annoyed.
“Ok, everyone, we need to focus. This is not going to be an easy fight, he’s clearly extremely manipulative and controlling. We need to be on guard.” Morgana stated.
“Got it. Let’s go!” Ryuji demanded.
They entered Mementos and slowly made their way down. The shadows were strong, but they were stronger. As they hit the rest stop, Ryuji let out a deep sigh and rubbed his shin. Ann noticed this and frowned.
“Does it hurt?” she asked.
Yusuke and Akira looked up.
“All the time. You just kind of get used to it after a while.” Ryuji admitted with a shrug.
“That is quite concerning. Is that why you considered his offer?” Yusuke asked.
“When it first happened, I remember hearing the doctors say it might never heal right, that I might never even be able to walk again. I remember praying that someone would come along and fix it like it was before, but doctors like that are so expensive and we just didn’t have the money.” Ryuji explained.
“So he offered you everything you could ever want.” Morgana muttered.
Ryuji gave a small nod and Ann sighed.
“Let’s just beat this creep and go home.” she said standing.
They travelled farther down until they came across the red portal. After jumping through, they found Renji.
“There he is.” Ryuji muttered.
“This whole world will bow at my feet. I can have anyone I want for a price!” Renji cheered, his yellow eyes gleaming.
“People aren’t as easy as you think they are!” Ann snapped.
“Everyone I have ever met wanted something in this world. Maybe it’s money, maybe it’s fame and maybe it’s a new start! I give them what they want and they gave me themselves in return! What’s so wrong about that?” Renji snarled.
“So what about the guy missing from you other school? What about him?” Ryuji demanded.
“Him? Please, he wasn’t even worth my time in the end. I gave him everything he could want, a chance to get into the university of his dreams and suddenly he wanted to tell me no?” he sneered.
“No one tells me no! No one! I refuse to let them!” he howled as he changed.
He looked like a demented rat with two heads. The two heads hissed and spat, clawing at the air feebly. The battle was harsh and they were on their last rope when Akira placed the final blow. As he changed back, he looked at the ground woefully.
“No one ever wanted me for me. They always wanted me for my dad’s money or power.” Renji whispered.
Ryuji stepped forward.
“Then you need to find people who will like you for you. Sure, there are a lot of scummy people in the world, but if you let that drag you down, you’ll never find the ones who do care about you. And besides, you need to do the right thing.” Ryuji explained.
Renji looked up and then smiled before disappearing. Morgana sighed.
“Let’s go home, team.” Morgana stated.
Akira was watching the news later on that night when the announcement was made. The missing student had been found safe and sound. He had apparently run off on his own, scared that Renji was going to hurt him for leaving. Akira sighed and relaxed.
“So I guess Renji had nothing to do with it after all?” Morgana asked.
Akira shrugged, but was pleased they had still managed to change Renji’s heart.
The next day at school, Ryuji and Akira were waiting outside for Ann when Renji approached. Gone was the sunglasses and overconfident walk, instead he seemed almost normal. His shirt was buttoned and his tie was done.
“Um excuse me? Can I talk to you guys for a moment?” he asked rubbing his neck.
“Sure, what’s up?” Ryuji asked.
“I wanted to apologize for the other day. I was really rude to you both and I am sorry.” Renji said simply.
Ryuji smiled and Akira nodded. They talked for a moment longer, but soon the bell rang and they had to head to class. In the hall, Akira gave Ryuji a sneaky smile before pecking him on the cheek. As Akira walked to his classroom, he heard Ryuji let out a cry of shock and laughed.
“You are so mean.” Morgana muttered.