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Persona 5: The Bond That Makes Us One

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P5: The Bond That Makes Us One

Episode 1: HOMETOWN

Cafe Leblanc
Valentines Day

"She's going to love this, I totally know it!"

Within the illuminated streets of Tokyo was the familiar black cat striding his way through the narrow back alleys. In his mouth held a long, beautiful, freshly picked red rose. During his trek, Morgana passed by many couples along the road, all of them heading towards their planned reservations at various restaurants and bars to enjoy the romantic night with their significant other. Just like them, Morgana's heart was pounding fast as he inched closer to his destination where he planned to give his special gift that he had worked hard to retrieve.

"Uggh.. I should have gotten one with fewer thorns. I feel like the insides of my mouth are being stabbed by a bunch of needles.." Morgana mumbled, stilling clenching the rose in his teeth. In his excitement he hadn't accounted for the many thorns that covered the stem of the rose. He had obtained the rose from a rooftop garden a couple blocks away from home. At first he wanted to sneak one out from the Flower Shop within the Underground Mall, but it would have been too difficult with the sheer amount of witnesses there at the moment.

"Whatever.. this is what they do in the movies anyway: the ever handsome boy doing whatever it takes to make his sweetheart happy. No matter what pain he goes throughout his journey, he will be triumphant in his affections, just like I will!" Morgana motivated himself as he neared his destination. He had been reading up on various romance novels and doing research on the internet for the past weeks, studying on how to truly present your affection for your significant other on the fated Valentines Day. Seeing as roses were a sign of love, Morgana decides to scavenge all across the city in order to find the boldest and perfect-looking rose as a gift.

Arriving at the front of Cafe Leblanc, Morgana pushed the door open and entered, hearing the sound of water pouring from the sink as dishes clashed onto the shelves after being washed. At the moment, Sojiro and Ren Amamiya were finishing up cleaning the cafe after a wave of couples had left the premises. Morgana could smell the aroma of coffee still brimming the air, noting that the cafe must have been very busy for the past couple hours, understandably due to the special holiday that night.

"I must find the grandest of ribbons to top off this beautiful rose." Morgana commented to himself as he walked passed the main counter, immediately heading upstairs to the attic where he resided for the past year. It had served as the hideout for the Phantom Thieves as they planned out their missions to change people's hearts throughout Tokyo, but now that Mementos was closed and their heroic duties finished, it was now simply the living quarters for both Ren and Morgana until they would eventually have to leave for home next month. Morgana jumped onto the work desk at the corner of the room, which was initially used to craft various infiltration tools for their escapades in Palaces. He began to shuffle through the toolbox full of supplies that was placed on top of the desk.

"Aha! This shall do the trick!" Morgana exclaimed as he pulled out a crimson ribbon out from the toolbox. He carefully wrapped the ribbon around the stem of the rose into a cute little bow. He took a moment to look proudly at his work. "Mweheheh.. Lady Ann will sure love my gift! And alas, after all these months, I will finally have her heart."

Ever since they had formed the Phantom Thieves, Morgana's eyes and heart had been focused on the beautiful blonde on their team: Ann Takamaki. To him, everything about her was perfect: her looks, her personality, her voice. Sure, their team had been focusing on stealing the hearts of others for the past couple months, but never would he have thought that his heart would have been stolen simultaneously, let alone to the gorgeous Panther herself. Morgana knew he had to act now if he wanted her all for himself.

And tonight was going to be the time he'd steal Ann's heart!

"Don't you have anything exciting happening? I mean, you've been here nearly a whole year." a gruff voice echoed from downstairs, causing Morgana's ears to perk up. It was their caretaker and shop owner of Cafe Leblanc, Sojiro Sakura. Judging by his comment, Morgana assumed that he was talking with Ren, who was assisting with clean up. "You know, when I was young, hoo boy..."

Ohhh Sojiro.. I wonder what kind of crazy antics you had in your young romance life. Morgana thought to himself. For a moment, the cat pondered on the image of a youthful Sojiro throwing out smooth pick-up lines while tilting his beige fedora to unsuspecting girls. Morgana began to shudder at the image he created in his mind. Ekk… On second thought.. never mind.

"...Hi there! Do you have a minute." another voice spoke from downstairs, except it was one of a girl's. Morgana's heart began to pound when he recognized whose voice it belonged to. Hold up.. Lady Ann? She's here? No way! This couldn't have been planned any better! Now is my time to present my prestigious gift and allow my fated lover to finally fall for me!

Morgana quickly grabbed his rose gift and jumped down from the work desk, making his way downstairs into the cafe. He began to wonder what to say to Ann when he'd present his gift. Morgana had focused so much on finding the rose that he had forgotten to think of what to actually say. Various lines popped up in his head.

"I present to thee, Lady Ann, a rose, to compliment your beauty."

"May this rose be a symbol of our love, blessed to blossom into a passionate creation."

"Only the finest rose is worthy of the finest body of Tokyo."

As Morgana reached the bottom of the stairs and slowly rounded the corner into the cafe, a sight that his heart was not prepared for suddenly played in front of him. One that would slowly tear it apart and crush his dreams that he had basked in for far too long. As he silently waited for the right time to give his gift, he could only watch in defeat as the scene unfolded right before his eyes.

"For you.. Of course I'd have the time." Ren responded, making his way around from the cafe's counter and facing towards Ann, who stared back at him from the cafe's entrance with a smile. Both Morgana and Sojiro took a moment to process the events and realize what was happening.

"Ohhh… You should've just told me. Here, I'll leave the store to you." Sojiro offered. He quickly turned towards Ren and gave him a small wink of approval, before making his way towards the cafe's doors. He nodded towards Ann as he passed by her. "Enjoy yourselves."

Morgana's jaw dropped open in distress, causing his rose gift to fall onto the floor. A mixture of emotions sprawled inside him, trying to figure out the appropriate response to the situation. Anger, confusion, despair. It was if these emotions were commanding an All-Out attack onto his heart as Morgana attempted to comprehend what was happening. Ren and Ann? Together on Valentines Day?

But.. wait.. when did all this happen? Was it her all along that he was texting? Why didn't he tell me? Noo.. but she was supposed to be mine.. Morgana began to shake his head, as if trying to make himself wake up from this nightmare. But unfortunately, this was reality. Unable to watch the scenario continue in front of him, Morgana had to leave and take a few moments to calm down. But he had to pass by both of them to the only exit of the cafe.

I.. I can't stay here any longer.. I need to get out.

Morgana made his way towards the cafe's exit, disregarding the fallen rose he had dropped on the floor. He kept his head down towards the floor, ignoring Ren as he passed by him. Suddenly, he felt himself freeze in spot as he approached Ann, who looked down to him and noticed his sad demeanor. Morgana took a moment to accept the fact that this night of love he had planned for a while would have to be spent in his lonesome. Even with the girl of his dreams right in front of him, she was truly out of his grasp now.

Letting out a sigh, Morgana somberly made his towards the exit and outside into the streets of Yongen-Jaya. He sat outside of the doorway for a moment, wondering what to do now. He knew he had to go for a walk to relieve his mind, but his limbs felt weak as he still felt the heartbreak weigh down upon his entire body. Sojiro Sakura followed, exiting the cafe and taking a moment to watch as Ren offered Ann a seat and began making coffee for her.

"I gotta say, the kid caught himself a real sweet girl.. Good on him." Sojiro commented. He gave out a small chuckle before making his way home. Morgana could only lower his head in grief after hearing the comment. Already Sojiro was giving his support to the couple. Had the old man secretly wanted this to happen? Morgana recalled the moment last year when Sojiro asked if Ann had a boyfriend. Never did Morgana realize that Sojiro may have wanted to see Ren and Ann together in a relationship. Yet today made that possibility become real.

For the remainder of the night against his own better judgement, Morgana sat outside of Cafe Leblanc. He peered inside through the windows, watching as Ren and Ann spent the night together. Gradually, he felt his heart being hit with more devastating blows as he witnessed Ann's signs of affection become more intimate, beginning with her taking out a chocolate gift for Ren. She eventually sat beside him and began to cuddle with him within the booth seats. Finally, the two got up and made their way upstairs, firmly holding their hands together with a smile on each of their faces.

Morgana didn't want to go for a walk anymore. All he wanted to do was lay down in front of the cafe doors and cry himself to sleep. Never had he felt this kind of defeat in his whole life. Months and months of fawning over Ann Takamaki, giving her compliments every moment they spent together – all that meant nothing as she fell into the arms of Ren Amamiya. What made it hurt the most was that she had fallen for who Morgana thought was the closest friend he ever had. He wanted to hate him.. but at the same time, Morgana knew that Ren was the kindest, more selfless individual he had known. It should have been no surprise that Ann chose him for her valentines.

Letting out another deep sigh, Morgana curled up into a ball outside of the cafe and allowed loneliness to accompany him for the remainder of the night. One thought kept repeating in his mind due to the outcome of the tragic situation.

..why couldn't it have been me?

Kyoto, Japan
Ren Amamiya's Neighbourhood

Spring soon fell upon Japan. The brisk, cold winter days were left behind as the country transitioned to warmer weather. Cherry blossoms began to sprinkle around the mainland, with the grass growing a vibrant green, along with the chirping of birds as they flew through the clear, blue skies enveloping above Japan. Regardless of the welcoming change of scenery, this was a bittersweet moment for the Phantom Thieves, as they neared the end of their road trip to bring their leader back to his hometown – Kyoto.

Kyoto itself was once the respective capital of Japan until Tokyo overtook its status. However, losing its prominence did not change the fact at how beautiful and diverse the city became overtime. Kyoto consisted of a magnificent landscape with a variety of different locales to visit, including the traditional temples that could be visited, such as Kiyomizu-dera and Kinkaku-ji. The famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove was located near the city, allowing an excellent and up-close personal view of an expansive forest of bamboo plants. At the moment, the city itself flourished with many cherry blossoms trees that sprouted within the busy metropolitan.

"Damn.. this place is a lot more lively than I expected." Ryuji commented as he peered out through the windows of the van that the Phanthom Thieves were cruising in. At the moment, they were passing through downtown Kyoto, heading towards Ren's neighborhood, which resided closer to the mountainous region beside the city. He gently elbowed Ren beside him. "Hey, since this is your hometown, think you could show me where all the cute girls usually hang out?"

"Ohh Ryuji.. just because we're out of Tokyo doesn't mean that the girls will react towards you any differently.. They'll all be screaming and running away at the end, trust me." Futaba spoke up. She sat behind the pair within the backseat beside Haru. At the moment, she was leaning back in her seat as she nonchalantly played on her portable gaming console that she brought, knowing that the trip would be for awhile.

"Watch it! I didn't ask for your opinion!" Ryuji yelled back to her, yet receiving no reaction from Futaba whatsoever as she continued focusing on her video game. He crossed his arms and sat back in his seat. "Hmph.. I'll prove you wrong. These ladies will never see what's coming when I shower them with my inner-city Tokyo charm."

"They probably will need to shower after being exposed by your weird-ass presence.." Futaba added.


"Yusuke, would you mind if I see what you are drawing right now?" Haru asked, peering over the artist's shoulder as he was mindlessly sketching away into the notebook sitting in his lap.

"Why certainly.." Yusuke responded, handing his notebook over to Haru for her to look at. He had begun sketching various ideas into his notebook immediately after they had entered the city. He was quickly inspired by the differing landscape that Kyoto had to offer compared to Tokyo, which meant new ideas for his art that he could eventually incorporate later on. "Although the appearance is quite similar to Tokyo, I can immediately feel the difference within the atmosphere, though I can't quite put a finger on what it may be. Nevertheless, I must capture the emotion that it evokes onto me right now during our limited stay."

"I think you might just be talking about that takoyaki restaurant we passed by a couple minutes ago. It smelled super good there.. although maybe I'm just really hungry right now." Ann commented, with the others agreeing. They had been spending almost five hours driving straight to Kyoto, with the occasional stop for gas, bathroom breaks, and switching of drivers. They didn't have time to have an actual meal in between. She turned back from her seat to face Ren. "Hey.. you sure your folks don't mind if we have dinner with y'all? I mean, it's been almost a year since you got to spend some alone time with your family."

"Not at all. Believe it or not, they're super stoked to meet the friends I had made back in Tokyo." Ren responded, giving her a reassuring smile. His parents were very intrigued to meet the people that managed to accept their son for who he was, despite previously having a false criminal record plastered onto his identity. "I believe they ordered a whole ton of sushi for tonight. It's from one of the best sushi restaurants in Kyoto."

Everyone within the van responded in delight. They couldn't wait to fill their faces with loads of fresh sushi soon. Surprisingly, the one who would be most excited about sushi happened to be the one who didn't respond at all.

At the very moment, Morgana laid down in Ren's lap with his eyes stuck over to Ann in the front seat. He was currently going through the memory of Valentines Day. It felt very weird for the cat. During this moment of carefree relaxation with his friends, a simple thought had the power to suddenly crush his mood and spiral him back into this mood of angst. He should be enjoying the last of his time he had with his friends for the time being, yet couldn't focus on this happy memory that was being made due to one of previous heartbreak overshadowing his mind.

Come on, Morgana.. it's already been over more than a month.. why can't you let it go?

"Uhm.. Ren? Are you sure that this is the correct address?" Makoto asked, nodding over to the home they were nearing in. The group looked out the van's windows, getting their first glimpse at Ren's home. It was located along the side of a hill beside the other houses. A white, concrete stairway lead up to a large, modern-looking two story rectangular building. Each floor had a balcony surrounding it, with many windows aligning the sides. Sturdy rows of columns were built along the side of the house, supporting both the building's foundation on the hill, balconies and roofing. Potted plants surrounded the home, allowing it blend into the hillside it resided on. The overall color was a dark-grayish with hints of sleek white outlining the building's borders, railings and window frames.

"Yup.. that's the one. That's my home." Ren answered.

"What the- no effin' way! That's where you live in?" Ryuji exclaimed, leaning forward from his seat with his mouth gaped wide open in awe. "Dude, it looks like a freakin' mini mansion! You never mentioned this to us before!"

"I dare say, the architecture itself is magnificent. I'd even call it a work of art." Yusuke commented. He immediately swiped his noteback back from Haru and began sketching Ren's house into his notebook. "I must take into account the angles of this building. The asymmetrical shape to it provides a simple, yet complex emotion."

"Seriously? Are you really drawing our leader's home in your notebook? That's kinda weird, Inari." Futaba chimed in, rolling his eyes over to Yusuke as he ignored her comment and continued sketching.

Makoto took her time to park their van in front of Ren's home. It was evening by the time they had arrived. The sunset had casted an orange hue overlooking the area, giving it a warm, welcoming feeling as the Phantom Thieves exited the van and made their way up the steps towards Ren's home. Their leader door belled the front door as the group waited eagerly to enter.

"Who is it?" an older woman's voice called out. The door opened, revealing Ren's mother, Mrs. Amamiya. She had long, flowing black hair matching Ren's own color, except it had been tied into a ponytail with the end resting in front of her shoulder. At the moment, she was wearing a beige, long sleeve turtleneck, along with a plain, long black skirt that reached down past her knees and white slippers. Ren's mother could only stare in bewilderment as she faced her son in person for the first time in what seemed like forever. "Oh my goodness.. Ren-kun."

"How are you, mother?" Ren greeted his mother as he bowed to her. He was immediately grasped into a hug by his mother. At first surprised, he soon returned the embrace. The rest of the group couldn't help but feel moved at the sight of the mother and son reunion.

"Oh, my baby boy. It's been so long since I've been able to hug you. How have you been? Have you been eating well? I do hope that Sojiro-san fed you well. He better not have fed you just curry and coffee during your stay in Tokyo." Mrs. Amamiya drilled at Ren, who simply replied with simple answers to her list of long, complicated questions.

"Mother, I'd like for you to meet my friends." Ren stepped to the side and presented the group to her. They all greeted Mrs. Amamiya formally. "They supported me throughout my entire probation period. It made living in Tokyo all the more easier for me."

"May I give my grandest of thanks to you all. My Ren-kun has talked a lot about you during our calls during his stay with Sojiro-san." Mrs. Amamiya said as she gave them a heartwarming smile.

"You already told your mom about us? Since when?" Ryuji whispered to Ren, only to end up getting poked in the back by Futaba. "Hey! I was just curious! Can't I say anything without you stabbing me in the back?"

"Keep at it blondie and I'll upgrade to full-on slaps to your ever so beautiful buttocks." Futaba retorted, giving him a mischievous grin, causing Ryuji to hide behind Yusuke in fear.

"What's all the ruckus?" an older man's voice suddenly spoke. Ren's father appeared from behind Mrs. Amamiya. He was taller than all those present, even surpassing Yusuke's height. Mr. Amamiya had the same black hair as Ren's, abeit shorter and styled more cleanly than his son's, as well as the same type of glasses. He wore long-sleeved, buttoned up white shirt, along with gray slacks and matching shoes. Mr. Amamiya chuckled at the sight of his son. "Well well well, if it isn't the little delinquent, It's about time that the court finally got their head out of their asses and cleaned up your record."

"It's good to see you too, Father." Ren respectfully bowed before his father, before the two embraced in a hug. He began to introduce his friends to Mr. Amamiya.

"Our boy didn't end up causing any more trouble with you, did he not? He may be quiet, but he can also be quite stubborn at times. But that's only because he got that from me, haha" Mr. Amamiya joked as he wrapped his arm around his son in a playful manner. "Come on in! We've got loads of sushi waiting to be devoured in the kitchen!"

"Hell yeah! Let's go and tackle 'em! Whoot!" Ryuji exclaimed, being the first one to dash forward into the Amamiya residance. The others could only sigh, knowing that they'd be in for a whole night of his antics very soon.

"Ryuji! Use your indoor voice. And for once, behave!" Ann called to him, following after the overly-ecstatic boy into Ren's home.

"For Mr. and Mrs. Amamiya's sake, please forsake us from any of Ryuji's unnecessary yelling or outbursts.." Makoto began praying as she and the others followed suit.

"He didn't even take off his shoes. What a dumbo." Futaba added.

During the whole interaction, Morgana had been peeking out from Ren's bag, looking over his new home that he'd be sharing with Ren. The cat was impressed by the overall interior of the house. Everything appeared to be clean and organized, as well as being very spacious with lots of room for him to walk around in. Unlike the traditional homes in Kyoto, this one clearly had a more updated look to the inside. The walls were mainly sleek and painted a futuristic white, with the floors mostly being made up of a black floor tiling design. Within the first floor held the living room, guest bathroom, kitchen and dining hall, all having a unified, modern look to them. Morgana couldn't help but make comments on everything that he saw in his head.

Whoah.. they have their own fire place? And how big is that flat screen television mounted on their wall? No way.. it's a Smart TV! Awesome! Hehe.. I could get used to living here.

"I have to say, Ren. Your home reminds me of my very own in Tokyo, but maybe just a little bit smaller in comparison." Haru commented. She was the least unfazed out of the entire Phantom Thieves, as all of them seemed to be taking lots of interest at every small detail within the Amamiya residence. "Nevertheless, I do love your family's style of décor. It's clean and very contemporary."

"I have to admit, it's hard that you managed to live in the attic of a coffee shop for a whole year. It'd be so difficult to adjust to that kind of lifestyle after living in a place like this your whole life." Ann added.

"My father is an architect. He made the whole floor plans to our home." Ren explained. "It took him nearly a whole year to build this place, but fortunately he had many connections with friends who offered the materials and labour, plus he also knew those who could provide furniture to add some style."

"Damn, that makes sense now.. and what does your mom do?" Ryuji asked, with Ren answering that she was a professor at the university within Kyoto. "Huh.. your parents are actually really well-off, now that I consider it. Along with that fact that they are super cool and down-to-earth.. Explain to me why you never bothered mentioning them to us?"

"Ren had so much to flaunt about regarding his home lifestyle, yet during the entire time in Tokyo he never bothered to mention it once. It just goes to show how humble he is." Makoto perceived. "Plus, I'd assume that at the time, being known as the son whom possibly committed a crime and got arrested may have tainted his family name. He had tried to distance himself away from his parents so he could spare them the ridicule for their sake."

"Right.. he didn't need to exercise the status of his family.. All he did was show his true self. And that was more than what was needed for us to grow close to him.." Ann mentioned, look over to Ren as they both smiled to each other. Morgana happened to catch their moment and decided to bury himself further into Ren's bag, unable to take their gaze upon one another without feeling hurt.

Why now.. the last thing I need is for you two to stare lovingly at each other's eyes all night.. huuunggh..

"Come on over to the kitchen, gang! Dinner is awaiting us." Mr. Amamiya called them over.

"Hehehe! After a long game of driving, we finally come to the boss battle: The Almighty Sushi Buffet!" Futaba exclaimed, raising her hands up in the air as both she and Ryuji sped into the kitchen. The rest of the group followed them, preparing themselves for a wonderful meal of tasty sushi, along with a night full of exciting talks and much needed fellowship.

Kyoto, Japan
Amamiya Residence

"Ugggh… I feel.. so full." Ryuji struggled to let out as he slouched back on his chair. He let out a loud belch from all the sushi he had just digested. "I don't think I've ever ate that much sushi before.."

"Ryuji, please sit up straight. Other than it being bad for your stomach after a meal, it's also very rude." Makoto lectured him. She along with the rest of the Phantom Thieves sat around the big, circular dining table with their plates covered in bits of leftover sushi and drops of soy sauce and wasabi. In the middle of the table laid a large serving plate with assorted sushi the Amamiya's had ordered for them. They had spent the majority of the night indulging on the succulent seafood, spending every last second in conversation. Just a few minutes ago the room had been filled with laughter and joy, but now everyone sat in silence as they took a breather from the feast they partook in.

"Health points.. fully replenished.. yet feeling overbloated. Must.. rest." Futaba groaned. She had her head down against the table resting upon her arms. Haru sat beside her, also feeling the effects of the massive sushi meal they had eaten.

"Have we discussed on the accommodations for tonight? Surely none of us will have the stamina to drive home at this time, especially after the behemoth of a meal we had just endured." Yusuke brought up. Makoto nodded, saying that Ann was able to talk to Ren's parents with him on being able to stay at their home overnight before they would be leaving the next day.

"Wait.. we are we gonna sleep? I doubt we're all gonna fit in Ren's room. That'd just be weird if we all shared the same bed anyway.." Ryuji brought up.

"I think we've got the living room and basement all to ourselves. Both rooms are pretty spacious. So long as we help with cleaning up, they won't mind letting us crash here for the night." Makoto explained.

"Alright! Then I say let's begin cleaning up so we can all rest up for tomorrow." Haru exclaimed, suddenly standing up from her seat as she picked up her plate and scurried over to the kitchen's sinks.

"How can you be so excited in cleaning up? And weren't you just writhing in pain a couple seconds ago over eating too much..?!" Futaba hollered at her. She gave out another sigh as she slowly stood up and brought her respective plate and utensil to the kitchen. Everyone else began following suit as they began clearing the dining table and rearranging the chairs.

Underneath the table, Morgana continued to enjoy his plate stacked full of sushi. For once, he'd finally receive his share after being skipped over on so many occasions back in Tokyo. He made sure to have his plate filled up with as much medium-fat tuna, fatty tuna, salmon roe and anago rolls. Morgana ensured to savour every last bite of sushi he had taken in order to make the moment last forever.

Mmmm.. I hope we always have sushi every night for dinner here.

After licking the last of the soy sauce off his plate, Morgana took a moment to stretch his entire body, completely satisfied with his meal. Hearing the others begin to wash their plates in the kitchen, Morgana pushed his plate out from underneath the table, meowing to grab Futaba's attention to collect his plate.

"Finally got to enjoy your little sushi feast, huh?" Futaba asked as she happily petted Morgana's entire head, much to his annoyance. "Aren't you lucky.. You get to spend the next part of your life in this awesome home. Ahhh, what a simple lifestyle a cat like you gets to enjoy."

"Hey.. if I recall, we all took part in battling a power-hungry god last Christmas. My life is just as eventful and busy as yours." Morgana reminded her. Futaba nodded and resumed with the others in clean up.

With nothing else left to do, Morgana decided to got out for a walk to stretch his legs and familiarize himself with the neighbourhood. He headed towards the front door leading outside, taking a deep breath of the fresh air in the evening. Already the atmosphere felt much cleaner than Tokyo's metropolis area. Being within a neighbourhood beside the mountains was a much welcome change for Morgana. The evening itself felt quite peaceful as Morgana gazed from atop the stairway that lead down to the street. The street lamps were currently on, shining along the sidewalks as a small number of vehicles were parked alongside the streets. Morgana had to admit it felt strange not hearing the occasional sounds of residents mumbling outside along with the busy traffic at night. Things felt a lot more tranquil in the quiet neighbourhood.

Morgana looked towards the bottom of the Amamiya's stairway and noticed two figures sitting close to one another at the bottom steps. Recognizing their voices, he realized the familiar couple conversing. He sighed, knowing that the sight of Ren and Ann together was still hard for him to comprehend and get over. His initiative to go for a walk was suddenly diminished, overtaken by the need to curl up into a ball and sulk for the time being.

On the positive side, since they're leaving.. I won't have to be worried about seeing them together like this for awhile.. gosh why does that sound so selfish.. Morgana shook his head once more. He shouldn't be thinking like that. He should be happy for his teammates, right? But on this specific issue, the feelings of hurt still attached to his heart. Morgana was still emotionally invested on his crush, and if a whole month wasn't enough to get over it, then for sure he'd be dwelling on this for quite some time.

"I really enjoyed our dinner tonight. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.. even knowing that this'll be the last time we get to see you for awhile now." Ann spoke. She attempted to keep a cheerful tone, but it was obvious it had trailed off into sadness from her last couple of words. "..I'm really gonna miss you. It won't be the same sitting in class knowing you won't be there behind me."

"Like you said, you've waited long enough for me to be released from juvenile hall. What more can a long-distance relationship do to us?" Ren assured her, trying to keep a positive tone in their conversation. Ann couldn't help but smile, appreciating his optimism. She scooted closer to her boyfriend, wrapping her arm around his and resting her head upon her shoulder.

How I wish she could lay atop her head on me.. Morgana thought to himself as he continued watching them from atop the stairs. Although a pleasant thought to go over, in reality, he'd be crushed by the weight of Ann's head on his entire body.

"I.. just need to bring up one thing.. your parents. First off, they have to be one of the sweetest and most down-to-earth adults I've met, and that's saying a lot from our past adventures. It's no mystery to where your kindness comes from." Ann stated. She suddenly paused for a moment and let out a small sigh. "But.. you didn't tell them yet, did you? About us? I noticed when you were introducing all of us during dinner and called me your friend."

Both Ann and Morgana waited for Ren's response. He shook his head.

"Nope.. they wouldn't approve of me being in a relationship right now." Ren answered. He sighed, realizing how much more difficult it was to fully acknowledge the situation. "Sorry.. I know I should have told you before. Seeing as how I've been put on probation, they'd rather me focusing on myself for now, especially with my studies and such. Things like this, such as a relationship, would be seen as a distraction from their perspective."

"I see..." Ann replied, keeping her eyes fixated forward at the road in front of them. She wasn't sure how to respond to his answer.

"But I do plan on telling them about you, that's for sure. Right now.. may not be the best moment. I need to spend time with them to make up for all the lost hours. Show them that I'm really focused on improving myself. Being the good son that they've missed for an entire year." Ren turned over to Ann and caressed her cheek. "And when the moment arises, I'll be proud to show them who my girlfriend is."

"You're doing it again."

"Uhh.. what?"

"Putting the needs of others before yourself. Like.. uggh, I still can't fathom how you do it! And with such class too.." Ann playfully pushed him aside before putting both hands over her face to hide the gigantic smile that began to cover it. She took a moment to stare back at Ren. "I trust in your decision, Ren. And I believe you'll be the best son to your parents. And while you're here, I'll be making improvements on myself every day.. so I can be sure to give my best to you when we meet again."

"Can't wait." Ren replied. The two chuckled before taking a moment to stare at each other. As if a natural pull gravitated their faces towards one another, the two locked themselves into a kiss to commemorate the night and the promises they made to each other.

Seeing each of them promise to do their best while separated.. That's something I have to respect.. Morgana thought, still watching Ren and Ann as they sat in silence, simply enjoying the presence of the other. Morgana couldn't help but feel the natural chemistry between the couple: with Ann's sweet and understanding nature, along with Ren's bold, patient and firm movement to put aside his own desires for the benefit of others. Still.. I would've done everything I could for you Lady Ann.. Everything..

Do not worry.. for your purpose will soon be revealed to you soon..

Morgana suddenly perked up his ears, surprised by the voice that spoke out of nowhere. He looked around, finding no one else in sight. He pondered for a moment, wondering if he was now going crazy. He recalled that the voice sounded like a girl, yet they sounded nothing like his friends, so it had to be someone else.

Maybe I just need to sleep.. It's been a long day anyway.. Morgana thought to himself. He took one last glance at Ren and Ann as they continued conversing at the bottom of the stairs before heading back inside.

Unaware to Morgana, he would soon play a much more integral part between Ren and Ann's relationship.



To be continued!