Renzou feels odd when he looks at himself in the mirror; his hair is dyed raven black, his natural hair colour. He already misses the pink hair, but he prefers the black, though he knows the pink suits him more. It felt right for him to ditch the unnatural hair colour; he'd only dyed it to suit the role of a rebellious spy. Now that chapter of his life was over. He was an exorcist for the Order of the True Cross now, with the Middle First Class rank, and of course, the knight and tamer meisters. He'd played his role beautifully, just as Mephisto had predicted he would, and this was his reward. A well-paying job, set for life.
His exorcism duties also kept him from going back to Kyoto, so he was very grateful for that; he could say he spent his free time studying and "looking out for Bon" and Yaozou would be none the wiser for it. Though he did study, because Yukio would kill him if he didn't, he didn't spend nearly as much time on it that he told Yaozou and his mother he did. It was also an excuse he could use for not answering phone calls or responding to their texts; it was like a get-out-of-jail-free card. One he probably abused too much, but he didn't care. It wasn't like Yaozou was winning any Father of the Year awards.
He knew it bothered Bon, because Bon didn't understand Renzou's hatred for his family, but Renzou was fine with that. Bon didn't have to understand, as long as he didn't say anything to Renzou about being a terrible son, they were fine. Really, considering their friendship had survived the Illuminati and countless betrayals on Renzou's part, the youngest Shima son's daddy issues were nothing. Bon would let Renzou do his own thing, as long as he was happy and healthy.
Renzou knew that Bon gave Yaozou skewed updates on Renzou, telling him vague things that couldn't be considered lies, but weren't that close to the truth. Renzou appreciated that, because it saved him a lot of trouble.
And with his new job as the magic circles and seals instructor, being saved from the trouble of his family is exactly what he needs.
"I don't see why Lightning or Miss Kirigakure can't keep doing this job," he says to Yukio as the two of them eat breakfast together. Then, he adds jokingly, "My familiar isn't summoned like most are; who decided I was qualified for this job?"
"I think everyone's asking that question," comes a familiar voice in his ear. He turns to see Izumo standing behind him with a tray of the expensive food that the Academy has prepared for the students. "Now your time as a spy will be good for something," she adds sarcastically as she sits down across from them. Though this has been a regular thing for the better part of a year, it still surprises Renzou every time Izumo plays nice with him.
"She has a point," Yukio says with a wry smile. "You can use Yamantaka to scare your new students!"
Renzou laughs because of course that would be Yukio's takeaway from it. He laughs even harder when Izumo clicks her tongue and reaches across the table to flick Yukio's nose. "You're a teacher, you moron. You're not supposed to say things like that," she hisses at him.
The look on Yukio's face is priceless, and Renzou wishes he could capture and frame it, because the pharmaceuticals teacher looks like someone had just up and told him that Santa doesn't exist for the first time. Izumo doesn't mind getting physical with Renzou and sometimes Okumura, but Yukio is a new one, and it sends Renzou over the edge; he doesn't even care that the entire cafeteria turns to look at him, or register the pinches from Izumo when she tells him to "Shut up, idiot, it's not funny."
"What's going on?" Bon asks, his voice putting an end to Renzou's fit of laughter. He's carrying a tray of yakisoba and sandwiches that Renzou assumes were made by Konekomaru. He hands Yukio a folded-up envelope. "This is from Juuzou. He said he forgot where you said to mail stuff, so he asked me to give it to you."
Yukio takes it with a grateful smile. "Thank you, Suguro," he says as he tears it open. "I appreciate it."
Renzou watches as Izumo moves down a seat to make room for Bon and finds himself wondering if Bon still had a crush on her; the last time the two of them discussed it, the talk ended with Bon saying he just wanted Izumo to be happy, whether it was with him or not, whether she even knew of his feelings or not.
She could be mean, though now that was only ever seriously directed at him, and even that was rare. Izumo was a lot happier and softer these days, now that she'd come to terms with the fact that loving and being loved by her friends wasn't a betrayal to her mother and sister at all. Renzou liked how it looked on her.
"So?" Bon turns to Renzou with an expectant look. "Why were you laughing like a madman?"
Renzou points vaguely to Izumo and Yukio. "Yukio told me to use my familiar to scare my students, and Izumo told him off for saying it," he explains. As he's saying it, he realizes Izumo was right; it wasn't funny at all, but he'd only gotten three hours of sleep last night. He blames it on that. "I think maybe it would be funnier than it sounds if you'd gotten here five minutes ago."
"I think you're wrong, but okay," Izumo retorts with a roll of her eyes. Suddenly she stands up and starts waving, presumably at Shiemi. Renzou doesn't turn to check, but his suspicions are confirmed when Moriyama plops herself down on Izumo's other side.
"Juuzou says Mamushi is pregnant again," Yukio says, sliding the letter over to Renzou, who pretends to skim over it because he already knew, but he pauses when he reads the little note at the end asking Yukio to be the godfather.
"And you're the godfather," he replies with a smile. "Does that make you a father at seventeen?"
Yukio snorts and takes the letter back. "I'm not sure that's how it works, but yes, I am the godfather. Assuming the pregnancy goes well."
"I'm sure it will," Bon butts in. Renzou notices the worry in his friend's eyes and makes a mental note to ask about it later when they have time alone.
"Where's Okumura?" he asks instead, looking at each of his friends for an answer. He'd been back at the Academy for two weeks already, preparing for classes, and he had yet to see the older Okumura twin, despite the fact that they all shared a dorm specifically meant for under-aged exorcists.
Everyone falls silent at his inquiry.
He realizes that they all definitely know something about the half-demon hero that he doesn't.
"Is he okay?"
Yukio nods slowly and looks away, avoiding Renzou's eye. "He had an emergency to attend to."
Renzou wants to tell Yukio that he knows he's lying, but it already feels awkward, and he doesn't want to make it worse, so he moves on and listens to Shiemi tell Izumo about all of her classes. She likes her English as a second language teacher the best, is all he takes away from it.
Renzou's class is relatively small. There are five students in total, and each of them reminds him of Jun's kids, though these ones are only three years younger than him and the only difference between them is he's in somewhat of a leadership position, which he finds both terrifying and exciting.
When they ask if he has a familiar, a few of them tell him he's so cool to be a teacher with a high level familiar at eighteen. He relishes in the compliments because they ease his nervousness to be teaching. He'd doubted his ability to be a good instructor before, but if these kids aren't the problem kids his class was, he knows he'll do fine. And even if they turn out to be, Renzou has Yukio and Shura to turn to for advice.
Long after he's dismissed his class, Renzou is distracted from the files he's reading by someone clearing their throat and knocking on his open door.
He looks up and a grin splits across his face. "Yukio!" he greets, standing up to hug the younger teacher. "How was your first day back?"
Yukio shrugs and looks around the room. "It went alright," he replies. "How was your first day?"
Renzou didn't think it was possible for his smile to get any bigger, but it does. "It was great," he says. "These kids, man. They love me. I showed them Yamantaka and they said he makes me their favourite teacher!"
Yukio chuckles in response. "Ah, so my idea of scaring them with him is off the table?"
"Afraid so, teach."
"Oh. Shima-san. It's you," says a familiar voice at the door, and the sound makes Renzou feel like his heart is about to stop beating. "I was wondering who they chose to replace Lightning after he resigned."
"Okumura-kun, it's nice to see you," Renzou says, bowing his head a bit in acknowledgement. "What are you up to these days?"
Rin gives him a wry smile. "Doing the exorcist jobs that they don't want to send normal humans to do," he says, though he doesn't seem all that bothered about it. This was the job he'd fought so hard for, after all.
Yukio turns to Renzou with an apologetic smile. "That's why we didn't answer your question this morning," he says. "Nii-san wanted to tell you himself. Well, that and we didn't want to promise he'd be back in case he didn't come back."
"Geez, Yukio, you make it sound so grim!" Rin exclaims. He turns to Renzou. "Did he really tell you to scare your students?"
Renzou chuckles, and offers a small nod. "He did. I laughed so hard when he did that Izumo got mad at me," he says. "You should've seen the look on his face when she got mad at him, though." He points at Yukio, who turns pink, and he nearly bursts out laughing as hard as he had this morning.
Renzou and Rin end up talking about their day, with Yukio occasionally chiming in, and the two make plans to meet up for lunch together when they both have a day off.
Renzou goes to sleep feeling happy and, for once, excited for what tomorrow has to offer.