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As Thick As Thieves

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“Ah man, the door is lock! His mother must have seen me sneaking out this morning.”

Morgana gave a groan before sitting down on the soft carpet welcome mat. The Amamiya Family — the parents at least — despises animals, complaining about how their fur will get everywhere, ruining their chairs and sofas and clothes. Honestly, Morgana’s fur wasn’t that long, and it was easy to clean off.

For a good while Morgana waited for his owner to realize he’s missing, hoping the teenager would open the front door and let him in. After what Morgana thought it was maybe half an hour, he began to walk around the house. The Amamiya Parents were quiet forgetful when it came to windows. Morgana hoped he can get inside quick; the once lovely sunset sky and white clouds were turning dark and grey. He did not want to get wet.

Unfortunately, all the windows on the first floors were close. However, as luck would have it, a window on the second floor opened up. Out from window, Morgana saw the head of the messy haired and glasses wearing. Ren Amamiya. Ren had given out a loud sign, and removed his glasses to clean them with a small yellow cloth. As Ren puts the glasses back on, he turned his direction downward, with Morgana decided to give out a cry of attention.

‘Ren! Hello!’

“Oh! Hey there Morgana.”

Good old Ren, always stating the obvious, thought Morgana.

“Did you get yourself lock out again after sneaking out the living room window?”

‘Yep!’

“Do you want me to let you in?”

‘Of course!’

“Hold on, okay? I got to double check when our parents get home.”

Ren quickly vanished, and Morgana made his way back to the front door. Morgana bobbed his head from side to side, knowing well that Ren’s parents won’t be back until the next morning. They may be terrible parents, not caring about the well being of their son, but they are the perfect workers willing to do whatever to keep their jobs. Morgana saw Ren opening the door slightly, sticking his head out, as if he was on the watch for nosy neighbors who may rat on him.

‘Ren, you know the coast is clear.’ Morgana can’t help but judge him for something so simple.

“Morgana, don’t judge me. You never know in these parts.” Ren raised an eyebrow, and opened the door bigger, allowing Morgana to enter the warm, cozy home.

“I’m honestly surprised you locked yourself out, Morgana,” stated Ren, grabbing a cereal box —a brand no one but Ren eats — from the top shelf, and pulled out a very small bag of cat treats.

As he placed a few onto the ground, Ren gave Morgana a small head rub. “I know Akira allows you to wander around town, but we both made it clear if you sneak out while our parents are home, they’re going to do everything in their power to make you stay out for good.”


 

Believe it or not, Akira has an identical twin name Ren Amamiya. Of course, during Akira’s time in Tokyo, he had to forgo Amamiya, and became Akira Kurusu. The Amamiya parents was embarrassed enough of having a ‘good for nothing criminal of a son’. But they fear if anyone (re: extended family members) outside of town knew what Akira did, the Amamiya good name would be tarnish forever.

As such, his parents gave Akira the fake surname for the general public. Shujin officials, Sojiro Sakura, and a few other (non relative) adults knew the truth for obvious reasons. It was only later when Akira realize he could trust the Phantom Thieves did he reveal his proper surname.

However, Akira didn’t trust them enough to tell them of Ren. Heck, the only reason Morgana knew Ren exist was because of a letter! Akira thought he was being sneaky, using his phone light to see in the dark. Morgana however, like anyone else, hate sudden bright lights. He had gotten out of bed and jump onto the table, and had a stern lecture planned to Akira about not doing homework late at night and to go back to sleep.

It was only reading the words, “While I made plenty of friends here, just know none of them could ever replace you Ren-Ren, as my best friend,” did Morgana decided to let it slide.  Apparently, writing letters was the only way the brothers could communicate. Phone calls and texts were forbidden, and Akira’s new e-mail addresses were always quickly got block by their father.

For a good while, Morgana can remember when the two were writing to each other almost every week. Of course, with Phantom Thieves duties, and what in November happened, Akira couldn’t write to his brother at all. Letters sent went unanswered, and Ren went as far to try calling Sojiro via Café LeBlanc’s telephone (best not to ask how Ren found that number), who only gave the excuse of Akira being sick.

Ren’s existent only became know to everyone after he called LeBlanc, with Futaba answering the phone to spite Akira. After that call, everyone pretty much flip their lid. No one let Akira forget the fact he hid a twin brother back home for almost a full week. After days of persistent nagging Akira answered, “I always planned to talk about Ren, but things just got in the way.”

In private however, Akira told Morgana something else entirely.

“To be honest Morgana,” said Akira, “I never did plan on telling everyone. I mean, if they thought my parents were that awful to me, who knows what they would have thought about my brother?”

“Well, I’m not judging you,” answered Morgana.

Akira gave a small scoff. “Oh sure.”

“I’m not! Since learning about your midnight letters, I have been pretty generous! I don’t force you to go to sleep as much. I lie to the others that you’re pre-occupied with plans when in reality you’re writing and re-reading Ren’s letters. It’s not like I’m asking out front why Ren-”

Morgana quickly caught himself, but he feared it was too late.

“Go ahead,” scowled Akira, his face looking as if he was going to kill a Shadow in Mementos. “Finish that question.”

“…It’s not like I’m asking out front why Ren didn’t support you when you were arrest.” Morgana lower his head, and in a quieter voice, continued speaking. “I had that question inside me for over three months now you know. All this time I could have asked, but I didn’t.”

“…Really?”

“Yeah.” Morgana raised his head and stared at Akira. “Ever since we read Ren’s letter about how your former teammates on the soccer team were smack talking about you. So Ren just happened to eavesdropped on them calling you hidden criminal, and he extracted revenge by somehow making all the soccer balls mysteriously vanish. But he was never part of the team, only you. Honestly Akira, while Ren’s supportive yet strange vigilante’s ways are touching, I have doubts if they even happened.”

“Morgana,” said Akira, who face is still in a scowl, but his voice is kinder and soft than before, “believe me when I say what Ren is telling me is the truth. He’s my brother.”

“But how can I? If Ren is supportive of you now, why couldn’t he stand up for you back then?”


 

Morgana almost felt there was an insult in Ren’s comment.

‘I’m not terrible as sneaking out! I was a former thief you know! I just think your mother got lucky catching me this time around,’ complained Morgana, as he finally began eating on the tiny cat treats the teenager secretly bought two weeks ago.

Ren gave a small smile, and rubbed Morgana’s head once again. “If it helps, I really do think we can change our parents mind. Akira and I saw them looking at a nice water bowl last week.”

‘Always the optimistic,’ stated Morgana, finishing up the last of the treats. ‘By the way, where’s Akira? I could have sworn he never left his room.’

“If you’re wondering where’s Akira,” continued Ren, “he ended up going to bed early. Like, 6 PM early. Said he was feeling tired today after finishing his homework. Do you want to see him?”

Morgana nodded his head yes, and then Ren picked up him up, carrying him over his shoulder. While proud Akira is finally taking his advice, something honestly felt off with the idea Akira being tired this early. As the two climbed up the stairs to reach Akira’s room, Morgana could only wonder if Akira made an excuse to avoid Ren today. If he recalled correctly, Ren was in charge of dinner, and Ren wasn’t a very good cook.

As Ren lowered Morgana onto the floor, Morgana made a quick dash to the bed, hoping that his jumping wouldn’t wake Akira up. Underneath the sheets was Akira in his pajamas, sleeping like a baby. However, Akira’s expression wasn’t pleasant. In fact, his eyes were close to tearing up. However, his hands weren’t clench too tightly to be the nightmare Morgana is familiar with.

I guess Akira is just tired after all, thought Morgana, placing a paw onto Akira’s face.

“I think it might be best for you to sleep in my room tonight,” stated Ren, picking up Morgana again. “If there’s a chance my parents think about having to check up on a possible ill son, they’re going to find you. And if they find you-”

‘I’m a goner for good this time,’ finished Morgana.

“Not sure what you said,” replied Ren, as they made their way to Ren’s bedroom. “But I agree.”


 

Even though Akira was only older by five minutes, the Amamiya parents placed great responsibility onto their eldest son, wanting him to do great things. When growing up, Akira could do no wrong, and did no wrong. He was the one who teacher praised constantly, and who students wanted to befriend. Akira was the Angel of Light sent from the heavens above, blessing them with his eternal goodness!

“Akira, we know the story. You were an honest to good kid who reputation got ruined when you saved that woman from Shido, and your parents decided to agree to the probation instead of standing by you,” said Morgana. “Even Shadow Shido was able to remember.”

“…But that’s what I want you to think.” Akira sighed, and ran a hand through his hair. “Everything that I told you and everyone about my past is a lie.”

In reality, Akira would rather play pranks on people he dislikes. He would rather ditch school and visit nearby cities. While Akira didn’t live in a backwater town in the middle of nowhere, but there’s only so much a boy can do without getting recognized sooner or later. In fact, Akira can say he only got into soccer is that they get to travel to different high school outside of town.

“Every time I decided to ditch school, Ren pretended to be me,” Akira said to Morgana, his eyes narrowing down to the floor. “Every prank I did that was eventually caught, Ren pretended he done them.”

In other words, everything Akira Amamiya was known for, it was in fact done by Ren Amamiya.

Akira didn’t really mind it at first. In fact, Akira didn’t realized what Ren was doing. Sure, Akira knew Ren was covering for him. Why else Akira was considered the top of his class (which help Akira keep his spot on the soccer team, a spot Ren sometimes fill in when Akira ditched a full day of school)? However, Akira never thought about other than a benefit for himself.

Now, on this particular day, Akira brilliantly decided to ditch school mid-day, a feat done by faking a short stomachache during lunch and sneaking off when the nurse wasn’t looking. Ren found out, and decided covered for Akira. It helps that the two aren’t in the same class, making the switch easier to pull off. Unknown to Akira, his parents had saw ‘Ren’, and waited to confront him when they got home.

Akira didn’t expect his mother to dragged Ren down the stairs, yelling why he took advantage of Akira’s poor condition of all days. Akira didn’t expect his father to throw Ren outside. Akira didn’t expect the two to let Ren back in until almost ten at night, after he had return from the library studying five hours straight. When Ren finally got inside, Akira could hear the all so important question on why couldn’t Ren be more like his damn brother.

For a full week, Akira didn’t ditch school. Instead, he stays to keep a close eye on Ren. Ren was quieter of the two, and had no friends except Akira. The ‘closest’ Ren had to a friend was a second year student who left mid-year out on account of his parents’ job transferring them overseas. With the second year student gone, Akira could finally see what others saw in Ren.

Some students saw a calm, docile boy who emotions run so flat, he couldn’t be trusted, and did their best to avoid seating or walking near him. Teacher saw a handsome student can make their life hell, and spoke to him with scorn and disgrace. Everyone only saw a trouble making demon that shared his face with the angel.

Akira wondered why Ren didn’t stick up for himself. Ren could easily stop pretending to be Akira and undo unravel the threads of lies build. Hell, if Ren was truly fed up, he could all accounts, paint himself as a victim and get Akira in trouble. Yet Ren didn’t. And Akira hates it.

“What I hate the most,” said Akira, rubbing his eyes, “is that Ren is doing this because he doesn’t think his life matter. Everyone knows what he does will be nothing compare to me. So I told myself that one day, I would make sure Ren won’t get into anymore trouble. After all, I’m his older brother. I’m supposed to get him out of trouble, not the other way around.”

Morgana remembered trying to think why Akira was acting he was in confession at church. Nothing really stood out. But it, it finally dawn on Morgana.

“Are you telling me…?”


 

Upon reaching Ren’s room, the teenager gently placed Morgana onto his bed, and opened the closet door. Surprisingly, the floor was clean, with a makeshift bed made out of a cut at the middle cardboard box with two pillows taking up a third of the space. Written in marker, the cardboard is label ‘Morgana’ in big block English letters in yellow.

Morgana gave a quick glance at Ren before jumping back down. Making his way to his own bed for the night, Morgana jumped into the box, and lied down. As Ren waved goodbye and went back downstairs, Morgana can’t help but think he’s lucky to have Ren in his life.