It was Ryuji's final year at Shujin Academy and things were going... well it was school so things were never great, but they were better than usual. His grades across the board had gone from “dirt worst” to “possibly passable” and he'd even found something that he could excel: his training both before and after Kamoshida broke his leg had given him a decent knowledge of physical fitness and health, so when those subjects were added into the tests his results skyrocketed. Not to the top of the class but enough to smug it up to whoever was calling him an idiot. The Phantom Thieves might not be righting wrongs or stopping bad guys like they used to but things were going okay.
Until two words sent him crashing down.
“Careers week!?” He yelled, pounding his fist on a Leblanc table, an open letter bouncing with the impact “What the hell?”
“It was mentioned a month ago Ryuji,” Ann explained, holding up her own copy of the letter “We got to find places to do 'Work Experience' for a week or two. You either found a place on your own or school decides it for you,” the blonde continued, adding sarcastic air quotes around the key words “Haru and Makoto did it last year, we have to do it this year.”
“No-one ever told me about it!” He said defensively.
“Uhh, pretty sure they did. Which is why Kawakami's gonna send you somewhere.”
“Aww man...” the delinquent groaned, resting his chin on his folded arms “So what do you have to do?” He asked.
“Well I've got mine at the modelling studios.” Ann answered as Sojiro placed two cups of hot chocolate at their table.
“Thanks Boss,” Ryuji said glumly, blowing a little gap through the cream “Wait, at the modelling studio?” He asked pointedly.
“Yeah..?” Asked Ann with a slight nervous twinge in her voice, watching the gears in Ryuji's head starting to add 2 and 2.
“Don't you already do modelling?”
Ann inhaled sharply, wishing the hot chocolate was cool enough to drink already for a distraction “Well yes, but...”
“So you get to do stuff you were already gonna do for a week while I have to go to who knows where and do who knows what!?” Ryuji snapped.
“Well you should have found somewhere earlier!” Ann snapped back, folding her own arms “Not my fault you switch off between lessons ending and hitting the gym.”
“Arg...” The dyed blond growled, turning attention to Sojiro “Hey, Boss! Can I do this crap with you? You can skip paying me for it.”
“We're not getting paid for this.” Ann pointed out.
“WE'RE NOT!? Dude, this is slavery! We have to do 'adult' shit but not get paid for them.”
“Sorry Sakamoto, but you're a little late on asking me. Says on that letter you had till last week to ask so they could check that the place you were working's legit. Couldn't help ya even if I tried.” Sojiro answered, tactfully ignoring the outburst. Thankfully there weren't any other customers to scare away.
“C'mon Ryuji,” Ann said, taking the time to lick away the whipped cream on her drink “It's only for a week and there's no homework or study materials.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Ryuji conceded “Still, sucks for you more I guess. You were already doing modelling work, so now you just won't get paid for it for a week.”
“Oh. I'm still getting paid. I mean, I have the modelling gig anyway...”
Ryuji was dreading what he'd be getting for career's week and even Ms Kawakami picked up on the dark cloud hanging over him, trying to ease him into potential ideas even if she had to default to the less than helpful “What would you like to do?” when several suggestions of office work flopped.
“Well,” the blond began, “I guess I could... maybe...” he stalled, blatantly.
“I'm all ears Ryuji.” The teacher reassured
“...possibly do a week with a wrestling fed?” He suggested with a guilty smile “They could probably do with the extra hands for a show. Building the ring and all.”
The brunette's expression dropped from a helpful smile to a disappointed frown. Not angry, just disappointed “I don't think that's a good career option. This is supposed to be about potential long term plans.”
“Aww man.” Ryuji groaned, shoulders dropping as his hopes of getting a week of front row seats were dashed.
“But, if it's something physically focused you're interested in I think we have something here for you,” She added, reaching through a set of files. “Ah, how about a construction firm?” the teacher added, forcing a smile.
“I gotta pick something, right?” He asked, getting a confirmatory nod in return “Then... sure,” he groaned, muttering “they better not be assholes.” under his breath.
“Then it's settled, I'll phone ahead and make sure they'll have equipment ready for you! Take this form with you when you go,” she declared, letting Ryuji sulk off with the form while she reached for the staff phone “Hello? It's Ms. Kawakami. Am I speaking to the man in charge? I called earlier about potential experience placements... no I'm not going to call him that and he knows it...”
With a send of from his mother, Ryuji was left to take the trip to the outskirts of Tokyo to slave away working for a guy he didn't know for no pay. There wasn't even a metro station near the site he was supposed to go to, leaving him to take the bus early in the morning instead. Tiredness edging into his vision as he was jostled along bumpy roads, he shuffled unenthusiastically to the temporary office on the edge of a construction site, being early enough to not immediately be greeted by a worker with a foul attitude telling him to scram before he could even explain. Heck, maybe that wouldn't be the worst. Get told to get lost before he could even start working, go do stuff that was actually worth his time, and then if the school asked he could turn and blame them. Sweet!
But no such luck was available, Ryuji was left to walk up to the office and look for someone who might possibly be in charge. “Okay,” he began, reading the dirty plaque on the cabin door “Boss, Head Foreman, Guy In Charge and Company President. Is it one guy or is it all of them?” He wondered out loud before moving on to the actual name beneath the overly long title “Goro-Chan?!” He yelled out loud, jumping back in shock. It couldn't be the same Goro, there had to be more than one person in Japan named that, but seeing the name after a year still caused a bunch of unpleasant memories.
“Did someone call my name?” Came the high-pitched Kansai-accented response as the door kicked open. Ryuji wasn't sure what he was expecting from a construction boss, but this was not it. Not by a long shot.
The man who booted the door was old, at least in his forties, but dressed as though he was forever young in the 1980s. A Snakeskin Jacket was worn over a bare chest, leather pants and matching boots, probably not up to workplace safety standards, but his face was the strangest of all. A bright yellow helmet squashed hair that pressed out to the side, one of his eyes was covered by a black leather patch, adorned with a patch design. “What the hell did I get into?” He mumbled to himself, panicking under the one-eyed glare of this evil-looking man.
“Oh! You're that kid that Kawakami-han said was coming for a week. Well, welcome aboard this crazy train!” His scowl had changed into a grin but was no less intimidating for it.
“Uh... yeah. I'm Ryuji Sakamoto. Nice to meet you?” Ryuji answered, trying to look at a spot on the wall about five inches up and to the left of where his temporary boss actually was.
“Well Ryuji-chan, let's get you started!” The man declared, suddenly slipping past the stunned blond and pushing him into the office “Your first day with Majima Construction!”