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Shiro no Exorcist

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I can't do this anymore. Please take care of him for me.

Rin found himself reading over the note again, and he even flipped over the notecard to check and see if anything else was written on the back. A name, an address, anything. The inspection turned out to be pointless, though, as card was completely blank, save for those two sentences. It was a short note, but it got the point across clearly enough.

With careful movements, Rin lowered the card so he could look over the top of it. The boy in front of him was tiny, even for an eight-year-old. The duffel bag at his feet looked comically oversized compared to him, and it was a wonder he had even managed to drag it all the way here. Or maybe he was dropped off, Rin thought to himself. There was no way a boy like this could make it this far into the city by himself, and he wouldn't have known where to go anyway.

Honestly, he had no idea what to do. Just barely past thirty, Rin had never really interacted with kids that much. He was single, with no kids of his own, and he wasn't a teacher like Yukio was. The most time he ever spent with kids was the odd afternoon of babysitting for one of his many friends with kids, or filling in at the academy when one of the cram school teachers was sick. It hardly qualified him for the sudden responsibility of taking care of a third-grader.

The boy met his gaze, despite how scared he must have been. He was trying to hide his fear, but his mask of indifference wasn't as complete as he was trying to make it. No matter how much this kid tried to stand up straight and act all brave, Rin could still see the fear in his eyes, even behind those large glasses that partially obscured his eyes with a reflection of light.

Well, if this boy was going to put up a brave front, Rin could do the same.

After hastily sliding the notecard into his pocket, Rin crouched down to the boy's level. "Well then," he said, "You're gonna be staying with me for a bit."

The boy nodded tersely. Rin continued, saying, "I'll be honest, I don't have much here, so it might be kinda boring. But there's a park nearby, and there's a lot of kids living in this area, so I'm sure you'll make friends quickly."

At the mention of friends, the boy glanced away quickly, but he nodded again. Rin caught some movement out of his eye, but it was only the boy clenching his hands into fists, so Rin let it go. "Do you remember my name? I think I told you, the last time we met."

Once again the boy nodded, but this time he spoke as well, saying "Okumura" in a quiet voice, and a moment later he hastily added "San" to the end of that. Rin smiled in return, and he said, "That's right. You can call me that, if you want."

Another nod. Talking with this boy was going to be like pulling teeth, he could tell. "Now what was your name again…? Fujimoto, right?"

"Fujomoto Shiro," The boy answered, speaking slightly louder than before. The pattern in the floor must have been very interesting, since he was staying intently at it right then.

"Ah, right, I remember now! Well then-" Rin stood up then, and he held a hand out to Shiro, "Let's work together, Shiro."

Finally Shiro looked up a Rin once more, his eyes narrowing slightly as he furrowed his eyebrows. He must have been thinking intently about something, because he was quiet for a few seconds, leaving Rin standing there awkwardly as he waited. He was about to pull his hand back when finally Shiro nodded one final time, and he reached out to grab Rin's hand.

It wasn't a perfect start, Rin said silently to himself, but it would do.