It was about 3 in the afternoon. Another talk show about a recent popstar was on the television, which Sojiro then shut off after a few minutes in the show. He had already heard the same discussion from a different talk show at a different channel and there weren't any nothing good except for the talk shows at that hour. He then continued wiping the counter of his café, concentrating on the coffee stain the last batch of LeBlanc's customers had made before leaving a few minutes ago.

Of all things to do, they had to make a very thick stain on the counter. He never complained about them talking for 4 straight hours over a single cup of coffee, at which it was already cold as tap water and very uncomfortable to swallow without reheating, but leaving stains that would took at least an hour to remove was the line. Before he could start on it, the doors of the café opened and the bell attached at its top rang, letting Sojiro know that someone came in. He looked up from the counter and smiled at the teen that came in. Unfortunately, the kid had his entourage behind him, souring his smile of relief into an expression of resignation; it would be too rude of him if he had to make the kid work at his café while his friends are there. One is acceptable but a group of five is an entirely different matter.

"Oh, you're back," he said nonchalantly. "And I see your group came too. Get in, I'll get the usuals for you kids." He then left the counter, carrying the cloth he was using to wipe it, while listening to the chatter the group his adopted daughter had joined recently. As he went to the kitchen area to get the mugs he had washed a while ago, Sojiro mused on the recent events that happened in his life.

First was that Chikage and Toichi's son was caught by the police and was under probation. While he fully understood that Akira was always a little rascal back at when he lived at Ueno, back before he decided to open up his own café, he knew that the kid never had the guts to do something illegal, much less immoral like beating somebody up. There was an older girl and boy in their neighborhood that looked out for the kid when his hands were a bit flighty, so the idea that Chikage and Toichi's son would beat up someone was something Akira wouldn't do. But recent events in his life, especially with the way Isshiki-san died, showed him that things sometimes happen without their permission, much less with their own happiness in mind, and he had to cope with the situation in order for him to live peacefully.

Sojiro secretly hoped that the advice he had given to Akira had been drilled into his mind. There are some things in life that people like them shouldn't get their hands into, like dabbling in the affairs of people who are in power. If what happened to him at May didn't taught him that lesson, well…

He'll just have to sear it to the kid's brain, personally. If trauma came as a side-effect, well… That would certainly be bonus.

Second was that Futaba, the girl that he had adopted, began to make friends. He was still shocked that Futaba figuratively broke the shell she had created around her and it was already a week, 2 full days more than the 5 days she went out of her room years ago. Sojiro had already steeled himself to support the girl in her life by bringing her food and drinks to her room, along with taking out her trash and laundry in her room when she goes to the bathroom, for the rest of his life, thinking that Futaba was intelligent enough to find a job someday on the internet with her skills in tinkering around computers. She always had been a special girl before but…

He shook his head, and at the same time, flinging the excess water off from washing his hands. Despite it being a surprise to him, it wasn't unpleasant nor completely unwanted for. There was always a small voice in the back of his mind that told him Futaba would someday get out and join society but he dismissed the voice whenever it came around, thinking it was bound to happen far in the future and not soon. But to think that it happened boggled his mind and, he hated to admit it personally, shook his heart.

Speaking of hearts, there was a vigilante group in Tokyo that, for some reason, were able to change the minds of people. On the news and the gossip on the street, they were called as thieves of hearts because the people that were said to have the darkness of their hearts stolen confessed their mistakes and deepest fears out in public. Heck, even criminals that were out hiding from the public view came out and cried out their wrongdoings alongside that the Phantom Thieves of Hearts had stolen their hearts. Not to mention, there was their weird testimonies and 'calling card' the said thieves left at their 'victims'.

It was like a Real-Life Thief's Calling Card, ones that he only had read in books and, God forbid, mangas. Aside from the physical proof of their existence, there was also their own 'request site' that was being talked about at last night's evening news. Although he may be an old geezer, thus giving the impression he has no idea about the latest technology in the world, he knew that the Thieves has a backer of some sort if their 'request site' wasn't being taken off the internet by the authorities.

Sojiro also had a feeling that there was a distinct possibility his daughter had been a 'victim' of their 'operations', since she seemed to have a 'change of heart' but… Sojiro got the feeling that there's more to that. Really, the change was so drastic that he still couldn't believe his eyes when she went down to greet him that night he came back home.

"…Really?! I've heard recently on the 'net but it's not supposed to be that…"

Futaba's voice echoed through the café as she spoke, making Sojiro almost drop the mug he had been carrying. Although he had heard the girl's voice frequently and he had grown used to it, it was absolutely different. Her previous tone of bored, mellowed and terrifyingly apathetic voice whenever she talks to him through her door or through the bathroom door was so different from the light, energetic and confident voice she now was using to talk with Akira's friends. Him hearing it almost made him tear up in relief, satisfaction and gratification.

Sojiro took a peek at the group from the divider and saw Futaba talking amicably to the black-haired teen. Akira was also sporting a grin at her childishness and even smirked at when her adopted daughter argued with the boy he saw once at the news. Something about him being a budding artist, painter, whatever. They all look the same to him nowadays. Heck, he was appalled nowadays by the way this 'modern art' works.

A nail. A painting of a nail. And somehow it costs a million dollars according to the lifestyle magazine he had a monthly subscription with.

He went back to preparing the drinks the kids usually ordered. In all ways, they were his patrons now, with the way they all seem to congregate at his café every now and then. Studying for exams and even just talking about the recent happenings in their school were the sight Sojiro often saw them doing. Them hanging out at the attic also counted, regardless of them not ordering his café's drinks but snacks and other finger foods. Like the dark-blue haired kid. He now had a stash of potato sticks under the counter's cupboard for him. Sojiro sometimes wondered if he was part-hamster or something, due to him nibbling down the potato sticks like a hamster does to the carrot sticks. Or was it a rabbit?

Sojiro doesn't care enough to remember it correctly. Instead, he went to the small display case he had for the pastries he ordered and some he personally baked, taking a slice here and there from the one the kids preferred. He hid his wince when he noticed that the pancakes at the corner were left untouched and it was already the end of the day. The pancakes were tasty and scrumptious, especially since they were made by the owner of Koro-chan's.

Thank heavens that the young man doesn't care if Sojiro gives away the excess pastries to the kids in his block, he bakes and cooks because he likes to and not that he wants to earn money. Not to mention the girlfriend of his that was so sweet to him whenever she delivers the batch her boyfriend made early in the morning; she was the one who dropped the hint about giving away before it gets bad. Frankly, he was hurt that the two decided to have him as their sole recipient of their secret pastries, even though they had their own restaurant to take care of.

Something about him reminding a friend of theirs, which was understandable yet unsettling.

Resolving to ask the kid, his friends and his patrons to take a batch of pancakes next time, he placed the plates on the counter one by one, at which his under-probation assistant barista and server took and placed down their tables, along with the drinks he had made for them. Sojiro then took out a notepad from his apron's pockets and wrote down their bill, sliding it to his prisoner… no, his barista.

Of course, he gave them a discount. He wasn't stingy and frankly, he never need money to live his life the way he wanted: peacefully. The earnings he got from his café even on a very 'dead' day pays his bills, including his electric and telephone bills, and the lot his café/house/home is on was his own land, only leaving him to pay his tax which isn't that high. And there was the fact that the young man and his girlfriend practically cooks his pastries for him for free…

He protested the idea initially but in the end, he allowed it, thinking it was probably an effect of his looks and aura. He certainly looked like a senior citizen and he genuinely enjoys having a senior citizen discount whenever he buys his groceries. Really, never judge a book by its cover, which is in his case, a person's appearance. Maybe it's the beard? His choice of clothes?

Pink and white looked fine to him. It looks great. And the hat, he could never go wrong with the hat. Though, the specific term of it eludes his mind.

"I'll be get something up, wait for me guys, alright?"

Sojiro looked up and saw Akira went up the stairs. Must be to his flat… wait, it's an attic in the first place so…

"Ugh," he groaned out loud, causing the kids to pay attention to him. "Don't mind me. Just remembered something."

Futaba gave him a weird look.

"Something unpleasant," he said, pointing a finger upwards while his other hand massaged his forehead.

"Oh, we're going out for a while," Futaba spoke meekly. That made Sojiro turn his head in confusion towards his daughter. "We'll be at Shibuya. They want to… um…"

"We're going to buy Futaba-chan some clothes Master! We're planning to go on a school trip in a couple of weeks and we thought, hey, maybe we could get Futaba-chan her own swimsuit! We want to have her experience the beach before we leave," Takamaki replied for his daughter, earning a frown and grumble for the shorter girl.

Sojiro raised an eyebrow at that. Faster than he expected but maybe throwing Futaba into the hot pan as soon as possible was a great way for her to adapt quickly to society. She really needs all the help she needs and frankly, with him being an old geezer, his options in helping Futaba are slim to none. Thankfully, Akira and his friends discovered the girl, though he had suspicions that it was Futaba that handed out her hand first to them.

It wasn't hard not to, especially that their group are already infamously well known. Their school's injured star athlete, a girl with foreign blood in her veins, sister of a well-known prosecutor in the city, an apprentice of an art thief and a kid that was said to have beaten up a famous politician. Futaba must have gotten curious with his new ward and have done some investigating on her part.

And there was the fact that he never made any indications that he had a daughter in the first place. Futaba must have made herself known to the group because of the fact they were at his house, searching for her reclusive daughter. In the end, he had let them known later her circumstances why she wasn't mentioned before; they even had listened to him ramble about how she got under her care.

Then a few days later, his daughter began to come out. Frankly, he was terrified when Akira and his friends barged into his house. Futaba was already having problems with people around her, all thanks to how Isshiki-san went away, that he didn't even let the kid stay in their own house; insufficient house space notwithstanding. With his daughter changed, he had a feeling the kids had made contact with the rumored Phantom Thieves of Hearts or Futaba did it.

But that was all just his speculations. And honestly, he doesn't care. His daughter is a hikikomori already, her joining a band of misfits doesn't sound bad at all.

…Correction: A rehabilitating hikikomori. And that all makes the difference.

"Meow."

Sojiro looked down at the floor. With Nijima leading the party of four out of the café to the outside alley, he was now left with the blue-eyed cat. The cat that for some reason made the café its home for a couple of months now. It didn't left waste like any other street cats in the area; in fact, it looked to be healthy as a rich kid living on vitamins: shiny and quite plump.

It was also the same cat that can open up the café's door all by itself, which was mystery all by itself. He never saw how it does because he couldn't catch the cat doing it. It opens the front door everytime he doesn't look and it annoyed him. If he was being honest, he wanted to throw knives at it when the cat barged into his café when Akira had forgotten it outside. He was startled at seeing no one coming inside the ajar door, only to be confused when he looked down and saw the cat coming in like it owned the place. Sojiro would have stabbed the cat right there if Akira hadn't gone back down to the ground floor and took the cat.

"Sure, don't be out too late, okay?"

"I'm back. Have you guys seen… Oh, there she is."

"She?" Sojiro asked Akira, who was carrying a bag on his shoulders. He placed the bag on the table next to him. The cat that was sitting on top of the table his friends were at moments ago then jumped into the bag, making itself cozy by settling its head on the small hole the bag's zipper made. "You know what, I don't care. I've asked myself many times before why I even care about that cat but please," he paused, giving the cat a glare. "Teach that cat to knock before it opens the door. You know how many times I've been startled by the door opening by itself because that cat is hidden from my sight by the counter."

"Your friends are already out waiting for you," Sojiro gestured to the door where Futaba was standing beside Takamaki, smiling like she doesn't have a problem at the world anymore. He sighed, looking straight at the black-haired kid's eyes. "I'll give you now this warning. If something ever happens to her, you'll be responsible. Remember that you're on probation and I have the power to make a single call to the station. It would be the juvie for you in an instant." Akira gulped.

"Good. Now, get out. You better bring her back safe. Also, don't be out too late. Futaba's a girl and you have lots to do when you come back."

The kid nodded, grabbing the bag where the cat sits comfortably before rushing out of the café's doors. Sojiro placed his hand over his face and dragged it slowly down.

"Now where's the cleaner...?"


Surprisingly, he had finished cleaning the counter and the tables of the café in record time, leaving him with nothing else to do. He expected the young detective to come around 15 minutes ago but he didn't come. The vest wearing kid always comes in at the same time but then again, he must have been doing on a case or something. Kid always complains out loud while munching on the pancakes and downing a mug of coffee. Coincidentally, he wondered if the kid rarely gets sleep with the amount of caffeine he takes on his evening visits.

Too bad, the pancakes were supposed to be eaten that day or it will go bad. Sojiro turned on the television and watched as the evening news starts. With a confused look, he gazed at the scene outside the café's door and saw darkness starting to creep in.

"Oh, it's late already. Better close up later," Sojiro mumbled before hanging up his apron at a hook. He then stared at the arc where the stairs to the second floor of the café was located and got reminded of the mess his attic was before. Before the kid became his ward and got the honor of having a café as his place of residence. Temporary residence.

"…Should I?" he asked himself. He never had once stepped up after he had delegated the responsibility of the place to Akira and he always have the kid bring up their snacks there. With Futaba now joining their small group, the chances of her joining in their hangouts was so high it was almost a forgone conclusion itself. With the realization of his daughter going up there in the future, Sojiro said, "I'm just gonna check it. That's all. If I see clutter, I'll have the kid clean it up when he gets back. Yes, that's right."

He slowly climbed up the stairs, muttering reassurances to himself of the place clean for his daughter's well-being as well as clean and hygienic for human habitation. The scenery he came up to shocked him.

The place was tidy, not a single trash can be seen. Not even the bags of garbage he got used seeing in Futaba's room were in sight. The windows were shut and the bed was arranged, along with the single pillow and blanket Sojiro gave to the kid. Everything was there where he left, the old television, the bookshelves and the table that was left from his old batch of tables in the café. There was also the workbench that young man had used when he had volunteered to help Sojiro in fixing up his café.

What shocked him was the other things scattered in the room aside from the ones he himself had left. There were stuffed toys on top of the table, now made into some workbench, the bookshelves now filled with some fast food paraphernalia, the walls were plastered with posters of a pop idol he once saw being featured on a talk show, the old gaming system he thought he had thrown out ages ago was connected to the old television, and small pile of bags on the side.

The last one made him curious. While the others were quite normal for a teenager like Akira, the amount of cassette tapes and concerts he had gone through and to before when he was at his age vastly outnumbered the hidden rolls of the pop idol's posters at the side, the small pile of bags on the side was suspicious and, frankly, doesn't belong in a teenager's room. They're bulky and looked like camping backpacks to him

Sojiro's mind immediately went blank for a moment. Camping backpacks were used to carry things on a trip. He looked around and saw the dresser he had carried up when he received the news of him being a guardian of a teenager under probation. He opened it and sighed, there were clothes in it.

The kid wasn't planning to run away. That's good. Then again, he realized, he wouldn't be able to do so in the first place because where would he be afterwards? The police would just hound him down, all because he's a high-profile target.

Mess with a politician and pray that the said politician won't file a complaint. It would certainly be a one-way ticket to infamy and jail.

Curious and honestly intrigued, he approached a bag and opened its zipper. He was immediately stumped by the sight of junk. No, not worthless junk but actual valuable junk. Well, maybe junk wasn't giving justice to them. Some looked like parts of a machine while some looked like various items that would fit in a museum. There were even whips and broken… swords? And was that a plastic of… jewels?

Sojiro may have seen too many weird shit in his life that he wasn't even fazed when Akira calls that maid over to give him massages but the 'junk' in front him just rendered him speechless. He opened the plastic pouch and took a jewel. After a few inspections and weightings, he noticed it was solid and heavy. Quite heavy.

"…. Did he steal all of these?" he voiced out, rummaging through the bag once more. "Leather… Yarn… A ball of… something. Okay, where in the world would he steal this from? A construction site? And why?" Angling the broken cement-like object to the light, he concluded that the kid did not steal the junk. Aside from the jewels, which were the only indications of his suspicions, the rest were junk. Absolute junk that most likely be sold when the kid goes out. Again. At some junk shop. Or some auction or pawn shop that would be gullible enough buy his shit.

He must have left these at the corner before he left with his friends. Well, too bad for him because Sojiro decided to check the attic that evening. Pocketing the jewel in his pocket, he twisted the wire around the pouch and threw it back in, zipping the back and tossing it to the corner afterwards. Sojiro made another over the entire room. Now that he had discovered what the contents of a bag, he noticed the clutter on the workbench were some of the junk inside the bag.

He inspected the workbench and the stuff that was on it. A couple of intact make shift lock picks were on arranged neatly at one side; he recognized it instantly for there were a couple of those broken lock picks at the front of his café every morning. The kid always forgot his key to the café at times he went out in the middle of the night, Sojiro knew that Akira sometimes go out to buy some stuff at the convenience store or at the nearby fast food at 1 in the morning due to him watching the early morning replays and saw him coming out from his room. A couple of miniature smoke bombs, ones that were quite common whenever the fireworks festival comes up; throw one at the ground with enough force and it would explode, creating smoke that would then be swept away by the wind. It isn't harmful, per se, for it was only the brief noise that would startle the unsuspecting people, making it famous amongst the younger kids. That reminded him of trying to convince his daughter to come and check the festival themselves but he had a feeling she would join with her brand-new friends.

There was more junk paraphernalia that he could identify scattered at the nooks and crannies of the workbench, making Sojiro quit in frustration. It was confirmed to him that Akira either had a habit of collecting weird junk and making said junk into… even weirder junk. Or he was indulging in his kleptomaniac tendencies and had to release his urges in a quite discreet and legal way. He was always has been a kleptomaniac ever since he was young, with the way his parents deprived him of material things since he was young, but Sojiro knew that his habit got less frequent after elementary.

And seriously, him pilfering weird junk was certainly the less evil than him going out in the city and beating up men who were abusing women while at the same time having power over their national judicial system. That sense of justice was quite new but then again, both Chikage and Toichi were like that back when they were at his age. Too bad, they were under the suspicions of having supported their son's 'delinquency' and thus had to resort to letting him be taken away from their care.

Which was a load of bullshit, if Sojiro had anything to say about it. It all fell down to that man. Isshiki left Futaba all because of him and now, Akira was dumped at him for the same reason.

Sighing, he went back down to the ground floor, turning off the lights as he climbed down the stairs. Sojiro turned his attention to the wall clock and saw it was already half-past 6.

"I think I'd get something to eat. Have to check if this jewel is true or not."

Sojiro grabbed his coat that was hanged behind the divider and wrote down a note on the notepad. He then ripped if off and taped it on the café's door, allowing the kid to read it when he came back home. Futaba knew where the house key was hidden if she forgot to bring hers, though Sojiro had a feeling she didn't for his daughter rarely goes out of their house. He also took a paper bag and stuffed the remaining pastries from the display case, taping another note for Akira to wash the said display case when he comes back. He better or else…


"Oh, Sojiro-san! Good evening! Come on, sit here! It's a surprise you came to visit us!" the young woman hastily spoke, ushering him to sit near the counter and the kitchen area. It was quite secluded and rarely got unoccupied due to how comfortable the seat was. Situated in a corner with the seat backed at the wall and the table facing at the restaurant's entrance, it was the best place to dine at when wanting to have an excellent view of the entire place. "You're lucky, Sojiro-san. You came in after the dinner rush. You really have to see the sea of people that were here moments ago."

"I noticed it." He did. On the way, he saw how satisfied and full some of the people passing by him and noticed that most, if not all, were coming at Koro-chan's direction. "I gave out the extra pancakes on my way here to a homeless man on the subway. The detective kid didn't pass by today so there was some left."

She frowned. "Too bad. For him. Well what the use of food if it isn't eaten, right?" she cheerfully supplied. "So, should I get you what you usually have or do you have something in your mind?"

"Beef stroganoff, please. I'm craving for it for a while."

"Alright, be right back!"

The young woman then left, leaving him with a glass full of cold iced tea and a complementary napkin. Sojiro brought out the jewel he pocketed moments earlier and inspected it once more. While he isn't a connoisseur of gems and the likes, he had an idea that the stone on his hands was valuable. Him inspecting the jewel closely to his eyes was the scene the young woman found him doing, coughing lightly to catch his attention.

Sojiro dropped the jewel on the table in surprise, at which she quickly caught with her free hand. She then placed his order on the table slowly from the tray she was carrying on her other hand, along with the utensils his plate came with.

"I've gotta say," she started, admiring the stone with an inquisitive look. "It's been a long time that I've seen these guys again. Where did you got this, Sojiro-san? Me and my friends back in high school had tons of these stones at our school, we even use them as currency in our monopoly games." She giggled. "Miss those guys."

"Got it from my ward." The young woman gave him a curious look, making Sojiro explain further. "The kid that the police threw at me to take care, remember? I have him stay at my café's second floor. He basically becomes my café's watcher at night." He took a piece of meat and took a bite. "Decided to check the attic after some time, found a pile of junk in one corner afterwards. Found that and other stones in one of the bags at the pile."

He drank down half of his tea. "So is it actual gems or just imitations? I'm suspicious if he's stealing those and selling at some place here in Tokyo. Actually planning to check it later but you seem to know a thing or two about gems. "

"No, they're not real," she replied instantly. "They're just plain imitations. It was a fad back then at Port Island about 7 years ago. Surprised to see these going around." She then posed in a thinking position, sitting down on a vacant seat across his table. "No wonder I've been hearing from some of the vendors we buy from about imitation jewels. Then again, there's that one anime that uses jewels becoming famous again this year. Probably for cosplay."

Sojiro contemplated on the young woman's words and he had to agree, cosplay is a thing some people take seriously that they even resort to using life-like props. "So you think he's planning something like cosplay? He has lots of junk in the café and I can't believe the things my mind had been going to because of it."

"Most likely," she replied. "Say, what's his name again? Quite curious of him, to be honest. Sounds like a troublesome kid if you are troubled by him."

"Kurusu Akira."

"Kurusu-kun…. Hmmm, okay. At least I have a name now. Well, all I can say is that whatever stuff he does, I'm pretty sure it's nothing bad or too serious. You've been saying that he's been making friends lately and to me, that's great. Wasn't the reason he's there at your place because of some mishap with a politician in the first place?" He nodded. "Being the new guy in a new school sucks and having everyone think you're the worse sucks more; I was a transfer student once. It's good that he has friends now, right? And honestly speaking, he sounds like a nice guy if he was able to have a couple of friends that seem to stick with him wherever they go."

She paused, tapping the table lightly. "Maybe you should give him a chance to show he's not like what that politician been saying of him? I mean, you know how he is and what he's like, right? Unless you're pretty sure there's some basis of your suspicion."

Sojiro answered instantly. "He's rascal when he's young and had a record of being kleptomaniac, meaning he often shoplifts things from shops and even from his classmates. His parents told me to watch out if he went back to his habit. It's something they always fear he'll do again; he somehow stopped doing that back in middle school. But now that he's in a brand-new place with no one else having any idea who's he…."

"Ah, I see your point," she conceded, a wry smile creeping to her lips. "Still, my point remains. Has he done anything wrong or bad lately? Something that would be a reason of solidifying your suspicion?"

"…No. In fact, he's being well mannered and all. Can't say what he's been doing at school and whenever he goes out at night. Don't really know what he's doing during those times. Maybe getting part-time jobs? He's been hiring these maids lately for massages-"

She raised her hand. "Wait! Maids for massages?"

"Yes, he calls using the landline and a few minutes later this maid comes in and they go upstairs to give him a massage."

She stood up and went to the counter, shuffling some papers underneath. A flyer plastered with some different colors with a familiar name stamped as its headline was presented to him, making him nod in affirmation.

"So they're actually legit? Wow. And it's pricy."

Sojiro pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. "That's why I'm concerned. One of the reasons out of many. Just how does he able to earn that amount of money. His parents constantly send him money in his account and some to me for the board and lodging but I know that it isn't enough, even if he had to add the pay he gets from his hypothetical part-time jobs."

"…Just give him a chance, alright? That's all I can say. I know it's hard but I had a gut feeling that he's not doing anything wrong."

Sojiro somehow felt she left out the 'and illegal' part intentionally but he didn't voice out his thoughts Instead he agreed with her, nodding at the auburn-haired girl, but at the same time, he disagreed. The kid was nice but he's everything but an immoral person. His sense of justice, which he got from his parents, would bring him grief unless he learned to know his place. A thing Sojiro wants him to know.

After that, the young woman left him on the table, leaving him to eat in silence as she goes around the restaurant and help their own attendants in serving the customers that came in every now and then. By the time he had finished, she was out of his sight and he had an employee of theirs help him paying his meal. Sojiro was already a patron of the place, giving him a very high discount on all of his meals, that even their employees are already familiar with him.

"Tell Arisato and Aragaki that I enjoyed the meal," he said to the employee wearing a Mei tag on her shirt. "I had to go now and I'm sorry that I have leave so soon."

"Don't worry, sir. They both know. Oh, and Aragaki-san had me to give this to you before you leave," she said, handing a small paper bag. He opened it and saw a plastic bag of… "What's this?" He has no idea what it was except it looked like food.

"Uh, food, sir. Let me check," she trailed off, looking over the bunch of post-it notes on the wall beside her. "Oh, it's for the… cat? You have a cat, sir? That's nice."

His girlfriend must have noticed the cat once at the café when she came to deliver the pastries and had told him about it. "The kid that stays at my place does. Still, thanks. He would certainly appreciate it."

"Have a pleasant evening, sir!" She bowed to her and waved her hands afterwards, leaving Sojiro amused at how nice their employees were at him. The two certainly picked very polite people to hire in their restaurant.

A short ride on the subway and a couple of minutes walking, he came to the café with its second-floor lights on. He unlocked the door and called out Akira to come down. The kid came down wearing his night clothes with the cat trailing behind him.

"Hey, kid. Did you clean the display case?" He looked at the side. "Ah, good. Well, here. It's for your cat. None for you though," he said, tossing the paper bag at him. The kid gave him a confused look before chuckling at the scraps of meat and sauce inside the plastic bag. His cat immediately meowed wildly, making him fetch a small bowl for the animal to eat at.

"Lock the doors, especially the arc leading to the second floor. I've heard there has been a gang that breaks into cafés and other establishments."

"Sure. Thank you so much, Sojiro-san. For Morgana's food," Akira said, smiling at him. The cat feasting on the scrap pieces of meat and leftover sauce of his beef stroganoff only meowed in delight, making Sojiro feel bad about his thoughts of throwing knives at it.

"It's no problem. Just…."

"…Just?"

Sojiro made his way to the café's door and opened it. He paused at the doorway before turning around.

"Just make sure your stuff upstairs are in order. The amount of junk you have there made me want to throw them out earlier."

The kid was visibly stunned and seemed to have his words caught in his throat.

"I don't care where you got those or what you're going to do. Just… please don't make a mess. Futaba's going to hang with your group and I don't want her to get sick. The last time a doctor came to visit her, he got stuck with two black eyes."

He then left the shocked kid in the café, locking the door as he closed it. Sojiro smirked all the way back to his house, enjoying the brief moment of making fun of Akira. Futaba called out to him from the second floor, letting know Sojiro she had dinner with Akira and the others at Shibuya. He smiled.

Whatever the kids were doing, it was making wonders to his daughter's self-esteem. He hoped that it would continue all throughout the year. Isshiki-san would certainly enjoy seeing her daughter smiling again.


A.N.

A drabble to get my writing hands kick in again. Tbh, no spoilers here. Basically set mid-game, so maybe mid-game spoilers?

Oh yeah, this is dedicated to the Persona Series' tradition of having their protagonist quirky af. A couple of my headcanons also got mixed in here so take everything here with a pinch of salt if you can't handle headcanons.

And dammit, it somehow went from him getting pissed at the junk to him thinking much about Futaba.

One-shot.

Set in an AU I'm working.

Basically 4 years after P4AU, set in an AU where FeMC exists and her BF lived.

They had a restaurant.

The two were in Greece or in France or overseas during the events of Arena and Ultimax.