Ren tapped the foot of his shoe against the concrete of the subway platform. The echoing voices of those around him talking about today’s weather and the upcoming festivals of the summer.
The voice announcements overflowed through the crowd on repeat for reminders to stand behind the lines, wait for the trains to come to a complete stop, do not push or shove anyone getting off or on, etc etc etc.
This was all just background noise for Ren, he had more pressing matters on his mind.
“Gotta pick up more cat food for Morgana...Futaba wants to buy sparklers again this year...Boss said he needed me to help run the shop this afternoon, so I have to skip working at the Beef Bowl today…Shit don’t I have a test today in English?”
Ren’s mind continued to overflow with all the tasks for the day, that he completely could not hear Futaba calling out for him.
“Uhhh hello?!? Earth to Ren! Can you even hear me?!” Futaba raised her voice snapping her fingers in Ren’s face.
Futaba’s snap snapped him back into reality, “I am sorry...Futaba,” He softly chuckled, rubbing the back of his head, “I just have a lot on my mind right now.”
Futaba pursed her lips and crossed her arms tightly, “We are going to be late with your ‘a lot on my mind right now’, the train already came and left!”
Ren sighed in disappointment, “I’m truly sorry, Futaba.”
Futaba’s scrunched up face soften and turned into a smile, “it’s not a big deal, the next train will be here soon, I am more worried about where the hell Ann and Ryuji could be.”
“That’s right, they aren't here yet are they?” Ren said looking around the area, not seeing his friends anywhere.
Pulling his phone from his pocket, Ren dialed his best friend’s number.
“Renren! Wassup?” Ryuji’s over-excited voice spoke through the speaker. It’s seven am, how could he be THIS loud and awake at this time.
“Why do you sound so enthusiastic this morning?” Ren questioned his friend.
“Ann decided to buy my breakfast this morning! How effing great is that?!”
“I guess she is with you right now then?”
“Uhh duh, where else would she be?”
“I dunno, maybe the subway station where both of you should be.”
“Relax! We are walking down the stairs now! I see you Renren!”
Ren turned and faced the stairs, seeing his two blonde friends walking in his and Futaba’s direction, both waving their hands.
Ren ended the call, sliding his phone back into his pocket.
Futaba’s scrunched up her face again, once again crossing her arms to her chest, tapping her foot on the ground.
“What’s with the long face Futaba?” Ryuji said with a smile.
“We could have left you, ya know,” Futaba scoffed, “But SOMEBODY, not naming anyone, was completely spaced out.”
“There is literally no one else here, we all know you are talking about me.” Ren frowned.
Futaba giggled with a radiant smile, “you know I have a quota to bully or tease you a certain amount a day!”
“Yeah yeah, what a lucky person I am.” Ren said painfully sarcastically.
“Dude,” Ryuji stepped in, “you are like the luckiest person I know! I do not want to hear that sarcastic shit!”
“You are pretty lucky Ren! Sometimes I wish I had your luck!” Ann laughed with such grace.
Ryuji and Futaba joined in on the laughing, which to no surprise, made Ren laugh as well.
Ryuji Sakamoto, Ren’s first friend when he moved into the big city of Tokyo. Ryuji and Ren fell under the category of “misfits and troublemakers,” so naturally they became best friends quickly.
Ann Takamaki, a childhood friend of Ryuji and the second closest friend to Ren. Ann has the same class as him, she even sits in the seat in front of him in class. Eventually, their paths crossed, making herself, Ryuji and Ren the dynamic trio of Shujin Academy.
Futaba Sakura, the adopted daughter of Sojiro Sakura, aka boss and the owner of the cafe Ren calls home up in the attic. Futaba’s story is a difficult one, she was a complete shut-in, closed herself off from the world and everyone around her, even Sojiro. But that changed when Ryuji, Ann, and Ren took a leap of faith and brought her out of her shell. Now she is a 1st year at Shujin Academy and still slowly coming out of her turtle shell to the rest of the world. Ren sees her as his little adopted sister. But she’s the one who clearly does all the teasing as a big sister would do.
“Hey Ren, do you mind if we come by Leblanc later today after school to study for the math exam next week?” Ann asked cheerfully.
“Damn do not remind me about exams..” Ryuji frowned, hanging his head down, “I am not ready for that shit.
“Yeah, I do not mind at all,” Ren smiled brightly, “I have run some errands after school then help boss with the cafe for a bit so I can join you guys later.”
“Wait,” Futaba questioned, “wasn’t Akechi suppose to come over as well?”
Ren had a vacant look upon his face, “huh?”
“Akechi called the store late last night remember?” Futaba asked raising her eyebrows, “We were in the middle of a match of super smash bros and you had to run downstairs to answer the phone, then returned saying Akechi was coming over tomorrow.”
Ren hung his head low, eyes completely abused and his mouth gaped open, arm tangling at his side, “dammit I completely forgot about that.”
“That damn Akechi..” Ryuji scoffed.
Ren glanced up at his best friend, “take it, easy man, he’s one of my friends.”
“Yeah yeah...tch.” Ryuji shook his head.
Futaba changed the subject, clinging to Ann’s arm, “Ann! We should totally go shopping while we wait for Ren to get done with his errands!”
“Oh gosh, we should! There’s actually this new department store that opened in the Red Light District that I would like to check out!”
Futaba looked at Ann with such a bug-eyed expression, you could practically see her eyes sparkling, “does it have a tech and video game stores!?!”
“I believe so yes!” Ann said returning the same look to Futaba.
Ren couldn’t help but smile at Futaba, the way she always brightens up at the smallest conversations of technology or video games is too adorable.
“Ya know man, for someone who claims he doesn’t see her in that light sure, does smile at her a lot.” Ryuji teased, giving him a nudge on the shoulder.
“Come on Ryuji, you know it’s not like that, she’s like my little sister, plus I smile at you all the time too.”
“OH! Is this a confession Renren?” Ryuji said with such an appeal in his voice.
“I don’t know, maybe so? Wouldn’t you like to find out?” Ren teased Ryuji back, giving him a smirked smile.
“For real, man?!?” Ryuji bug-eyed taking a small step away from Ren.
“Plus if its anyone who has secret feelings wouldn’t it be the two of you?” Ren said going back to his much more serious look.
“No way man!” Ryuji exclaimed with slight panic, “We are just friends!”
“Just friends, huh?” Futaba joined in, “With the way you two act, I highly doubt it’s just friends.”
“It’s true! Right, Ann?!”
Ren and Futaba gave them both the same fixed expression.
“The next train is approaching, please stay back behind the line and wait for the train to make a complete stop before boarding”
“About time!” Ann said changing the topic.
“Y-yeah! Can’t be late for school right?”
The train approached and came to a stop. Ren followed behind him friends, listening to them continue to argue.
The door flew open and a raging voice woke her up, causing her to fling forward in her bed clinging onto her pajama shirt, “GET UP NOW OR YOU WILL BE LATE FOR SCHOOL!!!”
Makoto’s widened eyes turned and looked at her older sister, “Oh my god I completely overslept!” She said rushing herself out of bed, nearly tripping over her school books on the floor.
“Your room is a pig pen Makoto! How did you let it get like this?!” Sae said with disappointment.
“I’m sorry sis, I was up late last night studying for the history exam today.” Makoto tried to hold back a yawn, this wasn’t like her to oversleep and keep her room messy.
“This is completely out of character, Makoto,” Sae sighed, “You are a 3rd year, you cannot slip up like this.”
“Yes, I know sis..” Makoto mumbled changing into her school uniform and fixing her hair into its normal braided crown with the rest hanging down.
“Breakfast is on the table, I can also give you a ride to school if you want?”
Makoto shook her head, “no thanks, sis, I can walk it's no problem.”
“You sure?” Sae said with a concerned look for her younger sister.
Makoto shoved her books into her school bag then slung it over her shoulder, “yes I am sure, Sae.” Makoto gave her sister a bright smile as she walked past her.
“Okay, well I will be returning home late tonight again, so make sure to fix or pick up yourself something for dinner.”
Makoto nodded with a frowned expression, Sae was always coming home late, but what can you expect? This small town of Inaba needed a detective, a damn good one at that, and that person was Sae. She always puts so much passion into her job that Makoto sometimes feels as if that was more important than coming home.
Makoto understood that it cannot be helped, but she just wished Sae would fight to come home sometimes.
It gets lonely here at home after all.
Makoto quickly finished her breakfast, waving her sister good-bye and running out the door, starting her daily walk to school.
The walk from home to school wasn’t too bad, it was just a half-hour walk, sometimes forty - forty-five minutes depending on the weather or how fast Makoto decided to walk.
Usually, Makoto’s friends walk with her, but some days they don’t, which was fine, Makoto didn’t mind the company but also didn’t mind being alone either. It’s just the way she is.
Makoto felt her phone buzz from her pocket, expecting it to be a text from Sae but seeing it was actually a text from her best friend.
Haru: on your left!
Makoto looked to her left, seeing Haru stroll to her side on her bike, “good morning Mako-chan!” Haru said with her usual cheerful smile.
“Good morning Haru,” Makoto smiled back, “but don’t you know to not text and ride a bike at the same time?”
“Always so protective, aren’t ya Mako-chan!” Haru said jumping off her bike, now walking directly beside Makoto, “besides, it’s a bike, not a car, two completely different things.”
Makoto sighed in defeat, “yes but you should still be careful.”
“I know, I know, don’t worry!”
“Where is Yusuke?” Makoto asked, looking behind to see if he could possibly be catching up.
“He told me yesterday that he would head to school early today to finish up his art piece for the summer festival,” Haru sighed, “He works so hard and never takes a single break.”
“Ain’t that the truth! He never puts down his sketch pad!” Makoto teased the absent Yusuke.
Haru and Makoto shared a tiny laugh, smiling uncontrollably.
The sound of a car coming down the street pushed Makoto and Haru off more to the side, but the car that pulled up only caused Haru anxiety.
The car slowed down to a walking pace of the girls, rolling down the window, one of the male volleyball team players slung his arm out the window, giving Haru a devilish smirk.
“Hey rich girl, don’t your daddy got a personal driver to take you to and from school??” the male teased. Haru hung her head low, eyes making contact with the concrete.
“Oh no man, you made her sad!” the male driver spoke.
“You gonna cry?”
At this point, Makoto had had enough.
“Shut the hell up!” Makoto snapped, pulling Haru behind her, “don’t you idiots have anything else better to do with your spare time? Like looking for a brain to fill those empty heads of yours!”
The males stared blankly back at Makoto, her angered face grew darker the longer they kept eye contact with her.
“Come on, dude, don’t want to be late to school.” with that being said, the two males drove off down the street, leaving Makoto and Haru behind.
“Those jerks! Who do they think they are!?!” Makoto snapped, “I swear one day I wo--”
“You don’t have to always have to stand up for me you know..” Haru mumbled.
Makoto’s angered face soften at seeing her best friend looking so low, “I know, but I cannot stand for them to treat you that way, as your best friend and stupid council president I can’t let them get away with it!”
“You’re always so kind Mako-chan.” Haru forced out a fake sad smile, which told Makoto it was time to change the topic.
Haru Okumura, Makoto’s best friend and daughter of the famous Kunikazu Okumura, the owner of Okumura Foods and the famous Big Bang Burger. Putting it bluntly, Haru is pretty rich. She grew up in Tokyo but moved out here to the sticks with her father to open up more food stores. Haru does not have the rich girl vibe, she acts like a normal sweet person, you would have never guessed she was the daughter of a famous company owner. But because she is, a lot of people tease her for it. Makoto and Haru have been friends since she’s moved, Makoto did not care about her money or the family type she has, which made Haru really grateful to Makoto.
“Come on, Haru, let's continue to school.” Makoto said, giving her a warm smile.
Haru’s bright smile came back, nodding her head and pushing her bike along, she followed Makoto the rest of the way to school.
With no surprise, Yusuke was found outside on the school steps with his sketch in his lap, pencil between his teeth, and his pen moving drastically across the paper.
“No no this is all wrong!” Yusuke mumbled between the pencil.
Makoto and Haru walked up to their friend slowly, “is there a reason for you sitting on the steps of the school? You know you are in a walking hazard right?” Makoto said with a stern voice, crossing her arms.
Yusuke glanced up at his friends, letting out a soft sigh standing up and removing the pencil from his mouth, “as persistent as ever aren’t you, Makoto?”
“I have to be when you always do the same thing every single day,” Makoto fought back, “Haru said you were working on your art project, so why aren’t you in the art building?”
“I was kicked out.” Yusuke said with another sigh.
“I should have seen that one coming..” Haru whispered dropping her head into her palm.
“And why were you kicked out this time?” Makoto asked.
“I was simply just making comments about my painting to the other students, even though it was not fully complete.”
“So you were showing off your progress..again.” Makoto placed her fingers to her forehead.
“If you’re putting it in that way then yes, it's such a shame, I am not allowed back in there until this afternoon.” Yusuke looked as if a small tear could form in his eye.
Yusuke Kitagawa, the art prodigy of this small town and second-best friend of Makoto’s. Yusuke never knew his parents and is living with his art mentor. Together with Haru and Makoto, three are known as the weird trio of Yasogami High School. Makoto being the student council president, Haru the rich gal, and Yusuke the art fanatic. Yusuke is a 2nd year, while Haru and Makoto are 3rd years. The group often worries Yusuke for when Haru and Makoto graduate.
Makoto caught eye of the guys from earlier in the car, they were talking amongst themselves before noticing Makoto’s glare. They glared back, softly whispering to themselves, clearly staring daggers into Makoto’s soul.
Yusuke glanced at the direction Makoto’s eyes were looking, “They are staring aren’t they?” Haru asked clinging tightly to the ends of her pink hoodie.
“Who? Those guys?” Yusuke asked, “what is the story with them today?”
“They were teasing Haru on the way to school this morning.” Makoto grumbled.
“Should I go teach them a lesson?” Yusuke said with anger in his tone.
“Yusuke-kun please let it be, I am fine.” Haru softly spoke.
Makoto and Yusuke, looking back at their friend, seeing the pain in her eyes was adding more fuel to the fire and was enough to have them wanting to beat the shit out of those guys.
The first bell finally rang, which meant school was finally ready to start.
“Come on you two, let’s get to class.” Makoto said pulling her two friends along, and catching two guys standing side by side with a PSP in hand, “That means you too, Narukami and Hanamura.”
The two boys glanced up, from their handhelds, the boy with headphones around his neck aka Yosuke Hanamura groaned at Makoto’s words, “yes miss president, come on, Yu.”
Yu Narukami nodded, following behind his friend, “Yosuke, we should meet up with Chie at Junes after school.”
Their conversation faded as the two made their way to the 2nd floor of the school, Yusuke following shortly after them.
“This is just the beginning of the day and I am already ready to head home.” Haru yawned.
“Me too, Haru. Me too.”