After their time together, the group split up and went their separate ways. Lucina however, remained at Ren's side. After all, she'll be spending the night at his place.
She watched the black-haired thief send off both Ryuji and Ann before he took her arm, surprising her as he drew her after him, gently tugging her in the direction to follow him before letting go. "Stay close," Ren told her. "Even at night, Shibuya is still loaded with people, so it's quite easy to get lost."
"I understand," she responded. "Please, lead the way."
Nodding back, the two went across the street, and she found her gaze wandering around more than once. The more she looked at the city, the more she felt fascinated by how different it all looked compared to any of the remaining settlements back in Ylisse.
From the structures, all the way to how the people dressed and behaved as they carried on with their daily lives. There was no dread nor despair in the air. No lingering threat of impending doom ready to claim all life.
Everything feels so peaceful, Lucina thought with a faint smile.
Morgana peeked his head out of Ren's bag. "Hey, Lucina," he called out to her, "You seem awfully quiet. Do you have something on your mind?"
The blue-haired princess was pulled out of her thoughts by the smaller thief, and before she knew it, she was once again inside the underground tunnels, only that this time they looked less sinister and had more people around with no monsters in sight.
"D-don't mind me," Lucina was quick to respond. "I am yet not used to the environment, so I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that I am no longer in my own time."
Morgana appeared to understand. "I see," he said. "Well, I guess that can't be helped. After all, adapting to such a radical change can't be that easy."
Seeing his concern, Lucina smiled at the gesture. For the little time she has known Morgana, he seems to be pretty understanding and knowledgeable about a lot of things. So far, he has been nothing if not supportive, so she appreciated his concern over her wellbeing.
They stopped when the thief took a moment to look at a strange object in his hand. "The next train to Yongen-Java should be parting in a couple of minutes, so we should get going."
"I beg your pardon?" Lucina asked as she looked over his shoulder at the object in question. He didn't seem to mind, although it didn't really matter once she realized that she couldn't understand the language.
"I'll explain on our way there," he said, leading her further down to a different set of stairs.
It wasn't long before she began gathering a good amount of attention, though she did her best to ignore the growing stares.
Lucina heard a loud clickety-clack sound before reaching a weird-looking metal box where crowds of people entered and exited without missing a beat—in a way, it reminded her of Morgana and his odd transformation.
"What manner of transportation is this?" The blue-haired princess asked, not sure of what to make of the strange object that she was looking at.
Ren's glasses gleamed as he responded, "It's a train."
Chapter 2: A Night at Leblanc
Lucina's first experience on a train was, for lack of a better word, not her finest moment. He could tell that much from a glance alone that she didn't handled it too well.
"I… I don't feel so good." She nearly tripped over her own feet, but he was quick to grab her arm, preventing her from diving face-first into the concrete.
He helped her support her weight over his shoulder. "Just hang in there," he told her as they climbed the stairs out of the subway station.
Morgana of course had to voice his own opinion. "Jeez, I knew that you probably never used a train before, but I didn't think it would turn out to be this bad."
Lucina had to take a deep breath to muster the strength to speak. "I'm really sorry…" Her voice was weak as she let out a quiet groan.
"It's fine," he reassured her. "Just let me know whenever you feel like you can walk on your own again."
Yongen-Jaya was a much quieter place compared to the Shibuya district. Activity was scarce, so there were fewer people around as well, making it much easier to move around without drawing too much attention to themselves.
Turning over a corner into an alley, they soon came across a familiar coffee shop. He couldn't help but heave a sigh, knowing full well the trouble he'll be getting himself into for doing this.
Lucina furrowed her brow. "Is… something wrong?"
"It's nothing." He turned his eyes back to her. "Feeling any better?"
She furrowed her brow, thinned her lips, then flicked her gaze down with a suppressed grunt. "My head still hurts, but I think I can manage."
"I guess that's good enough." He gently let her rest against the wall leading to the bathhouse. He looked down at Morgana and said, "Watch over her, will you?"
Mona nodded as he responded, "You got it." He hopped out of the bag and stood next to Lucina. "Just make sure not to give the Chief a reason to suspect you."
His lips drew into a thin line. "With my luck, I'd say the odds are stack against me," he said as he adjusted his bag over his shoulder. "He should probably be almost ready to close the shop, so it shouldn't take that long."
Lucina lowered her gaze. "I must apologize for being a burden. I… I never meant to trouble you like this," she mumbled under her breath, though it was still loud enough for them to hear.
"Nobody thinks that," he told her, allowing for their eyes to meet. "We're all helping you out willingly, so stop beating yourself over it."
Morgana climbed over the wall so he could be at her eye level. "He's right. As gentleman thieves, it is only natural to help those in need. Isn't that right, Ren?"
Not in the mood to argue, he choose to play along. "I guess you could say that." He cleared his throat. "In any case, I'll call you over when it's clear, so be ready."
"Understood…" she responded between shallow breaths.
Knowing that he can trust Morgana to watch over Lucina, the thief walked ahead into the coffee shop. The doorbell went off the moment he stepped inside.
The interior didn't changed a thing from when he left this morning. Slight illumination, the appetizing smell of coffee over the air and no customers for the eye to see.
Just like any other day, I guess, Ren thought as his eyes wandered behind the bar.
A man stood there—Sojiro Sakura took his attention away from what he was cleaning and glared at the frizzy-haired problem boy. "You're late," he said harshly, putting down a piece of cloth.
He took a subtle deep breath, concealing any features that may expose him, just like he always do. "Sorry," he said. "I was hanging out with some friends and lost track of time."
"Whatever excuses your have, save them," he interrupted him. "I can't always wait for you to come back, you know? I have things to do."
He send the man an apologetic look and replied, "I'll be more careful next time."
Sojiro's gaze lingered on him for a moment before letting out a sigh. "Just try to keep that in mind…" He rubbed his head tiredly. "At least I hope you're making an effort to stay out of trouble."
He nodded—if only so he could ease the elderly man's state of mind. He saw no point in arguing about it and there was no way he was bringing up any Phantom Thief related business.
Their relationship was not as complicated as one may think. It's true that there was a degree of tension between them, but Sojiro wasn't too overbearing as to meddle into his own personal life. As the man once said, he'll be taking care of him, but he won't be holding his hand throughout the entirety of his probation.
"I guess that's good enough," he said, taking off the apron and putting it away. "Make sure to keep the shop close while I'm gone, understood? No funny business." Ren nodded once again, earning a look of approval from Sojiro. "Good, I'll see you tomorrow then."
Watching as he left the shop, Ren remained still for a couple of seconds to make sure he made it far enough before releasing a breath he didn't know he was holding.
Take Your Time
"…And this is where I stay," Ren said after leading her up the stairs. "I know it isn't much, but this place is the closest I have to an actual home."
Feeling much better, Lucina climbed the stairs behind him. Her hands gently grasped the wooden railing while her blue eyes moved across the room, taking in her new surroundings.
It wasn't much of a sleeping quarter itself, but more of a storage room. She wasn't one for luxury per say, but even she could tell that these living arrangements weren't exactly what one would call appropriate.
Letting his bag drop on a table and loosening the buttons of his blazer, Ren heaved a relaxed sigh before turning his attention back to her. "I know this is hardly an appropriate place to rest, but it'll only be temporary," he said as he took off his glasses. "I'll come up with a long-term solution, so just bear with it for now."
Lucina shook her head with a smile. "On the contrary, this place is far more than I could ask for. It definitely beats sleeping out in the open, of that I can assure you."
He smiled back, catching up to the humor in her voice, and responded, "Well, that's good to know."
The two of them were currently alone, as Morgana took off after the owner of the establishment to verify that he made it all the way home, and to make sure they didn't had to deal with any unexpected surprises. Ren told him that it was an unnecessary precaution, but Mona insisted.
"I'll sleep on the coach, so you can go ahead and use the bed." He turned to arrange the mattress, surprising her.
"Please, there's no need for that," she said. "I am merely a guest here, so it wouldn't feel right for me to use the only bed."
Her sloppy attempt to decline was met with a nonchalant shrug. "I don't mind," Ren responded, making it clear that he won't be backing down on this one. "Make yourself comfortable. I'll go fetch up something to drink." He stood up and headed downstairs, leaving Lucina all by herself.
She stood there, taking a moment to collect herself before opting to follow the thief's advice. She unhooked her cape and cleanly folded the fabric, gently putting it on the side alongside some pieces of armor. Next she took off her belt with Falchion in it, which was safely sheeted inside its scabbard.
She sat on the surprisingly soft bed and took her boots off one at the time. The feeling of her toes being able to move freely felt surprisingly refreshing—perhaps even soothing.
"This… feels kinda nice." A deep breath entered her lungs, and exhaled. For the first time in years, Lucina was finally able to enjoy a moment of peace and quiet without fear of being attacked.
It truly has been that long, hasn't it? Her face grimaced as dark memories resurfaced her memory.
So many innocent people—including friends and family—lost to a monster that has no pity nor remorse. A creature that feels nothing but pure enjoyment out of the suffering of those who only wish to live their lives.
She brushed those thoughts aside, not letting them cloud her mind. She knew better than to let her emotions get the best of her. It was a luxury that she couldn't afford to take, if only for the sake of her friends whose whereabouts are still unknown.
Lucina turned her attention back to the atmosphere. It was so calm that she didn't even realized that her eyes were closed. She was entranced by the soft feel of the mattress against her lower body, the calming silence and the sweet smell of coffee filling her nostrils…
Hold on. Her eyes shot open in confusion. Coffee?
Much to Lucina's own surprise, there was indeed a freshly made cup of coffee in front of her. Her eyes went from the cup to the one holding it.
"Thought this may help you relax," the leader of the thieves said, offering her the cup.
The blue-haired princess stared at him before her cheeks flushed with embarrassment once she realized that she was too lost in thought that she never saw him approach.
"Thank you." She took the offered hot drink and brought it to her lips. Having the bitter-sweet smell so close gave it an alluring scent that even she couldn't resist. She took her time to savor the flavor, and much to her own shock, the taste was unexpectedly breathtaking.
"I'm… surprised," she said with a beaming smile. "This is actually quite delightful!"
Ren smirked. "I had a good teacher."
Her lips curled into another smile as she took another sip, and the drink tasted even better. It was honestly hard to believe just how much she could enjoy a simple cup of coffee.
"I see you two are getting along." Morgana suddenly came in from an open window, hopping down as he took a seat next to her.
The black-haired thief smiled and said, "I take it everything went well on your side?"
"Yep. The Chief made it home alright," Morgana said. "I don't think he'll be coming back any time soon, so we should be good for the night."
"Good," Ren responded. "Then I guess I should probably finish things up before calling it a night." He took a seat over the nearby desk and pulled a couple of objects out of his bag.
Lucina quickly identified some of the items as books and some other tools. "What are you doing?" she couldn't help but ask, feeling rather curious.
"Homework," he answered as he opened the textbook. "I haven't really had the time to finish some of the stuff I had to do, so I may as well do it now."
"Is this about your coming exams?" Morgana asked.
The thief responded with a quick nod. "I got a couple of subjects that I still need to cover before the end of the week, but I should be good as long as I don't slack off."
"Exams?" Lucina asked with her attention now perked.
"Oh, yeah," Morgana replied. "I didn't tell you about it, but Ren here goes to this place called 'school' to learn all sorts of stuff. I don't know if you have something like that where you're from though."
She nodded and responded, "Yes, I believe I have a vague idea of what you mean."
It was hard to come up with a straight comparison, but it did sound pretty similar to what they had. Before the war, Yllise used to have a learning system for commoners, and thanks to that education flourished throughout the majority of the kingdom.
However, as a princess of Yllise, she was taught at the royal palace by tutors in a number of subjects—including on how to behave as royalty and such—so she didn't know much about how it was to experience that sort of education.
Taking a pen out, he turned to address her. "You go ahead and rest. I'll try to catch some shuteye once I am done."
Lucina shook her head and said, "It's alright. I would rather stay awake, if only for a little longer." She took another sip and smiled. "After all, keeping you company is the least I can do after you've made me such a delicious coffee. Unless my presence disturbs you, of course."
"Not at all," Ren responded with a smirk.
An irritated Mona spoke up, "Hey! You two aren't forgetting that I'm still here, have you?"
The frizzy-haired teen snickered at Mona's response, and even she couldn't stop herself from doing the same—much to Mona's annoyance.
Take Your Time
It's been only half an hour, and so far everything was going smoothly. However, the more time passed, the harder it got to stay awake.
Mona was snoring quietly as he rested next to Lucina. The feline thief fell deeply asleep not long after the first couple of minutes, but he didn't really mind so he opted to let the little guy rest. Morgana may not say it, but he sure acts like a cat far more than what he cares to admit.
Speaking of which…
He caught a glimpse of Lucina—her now empty cup rested on the table—cleaning the blade of her sword with a piece of cloth.
Ren's gaze lingered on the weapon for a moment. "You seem awfully attached to that sword of yours," he noted. "Is it that important to you?"
The princess from another time was surprised at first by the suddenness of the question. Her brow furrowed before she replied. "Yes, it is very important to me."
He saw a hint of emotion in her eyes. "Is it personal?"
Her gaze remained on him. "…Yes," she responded with a somber tone. It didn't take a genius to see that he was starting to get too close to a line that he shouldn't cross.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to pry," he said, putting his textbook down. "Just… forget I said anything."
"It's alright," she replied, trying her best to reassure him. "I really don't mind talking about it. Not anymore at least."
Her eyes—which no more than a second ago displayed a number of sentiments such as grief, anger and sadness—quickly hardened. It was a good mask, but he could see beyond the cracks quite easily.
Putting the cloth away, she spoke again, "This sword once belonged to my father. It was passed down to me when he passed away." Her head bowed as she spoke. "It's… the only thing I have left to remember him."
There was a small silence between the two as she let her words sink in. "I'm sorry to hear that," he responded after a while.
A smile spread across her lips. "Don't be. I'm not as fragile as you may think," she said. Her eyes rested on Morgana and she couldn't help but pet his soft fur. "The memories I have of my father are very precious to me, yet they're hard to grasp at times. I… I was no more than a child when I was told about his fate."
There was another pause before she let out a soft chuckle. It was an unexpected response and he questioned her about it with an odd look.
"I just find it quite strange." Letting her voice die down, she said, "I haven't talked about my father this openly before other than with my aunt, and even then, that was years ago. I haven't told any of my friends either. It feels odd yet at the same time refreshing."
Taking this new information in, he nodded though he choose to remain silent. Seeing her drop her strong exterior in front of him like this—it was like he was looking at the real Lucina for the first time.
"I don't know why, and it probably goes against my better judgement to say this, but…" There was hesitation in her voice before she continued, "….I feel like I can trust you."
The frizzy-haired teen's features remained the same, but pay a closer look and one would see that his eyes widened slightly after listening to her words.
There was so much he wanted to asks her, but he wasn't oblivious to the situation. She was exhausted—that was more than clear. She tried to hide it, but he could see pass that strong facade of hers.
Of course, that only brought more questions about where she came from and what her life was like before they met, but that will have to wait.
He felt like he understood her a little bit better now.
Take Your Time
His eyes twitched before they shot open soon after he regained consciousness.
The first thing that he saw was the color blue.
"I'm quite pleased by your progress, Trickster," he heard a raspy voice speak. "You have formed a new bond with an intriguing individual. A visitor from a different reality, none the less. You surely don't cease to amaze me."
"Well, I'm glad I'm keeping you entertained," he responded with plain sarcasm as he stood up from the uncomfortable berth.
Rubbing the back of his head in irritation, he got close to the cell bars as much as the chain on his feet allowed him to. Igor's bulging, bloodshot eyes followed him the whole time.
"The Aeon arcana. An unusual one indeed," he said with a dry chuckle. "For you to encounter an individual such as this was but one of an endless void of possibilities, yet you continue to defy my expectations. Destiny sure can be an intriguing phenomenon."
The thief's eyes narrowed. "How much do you know about Lucina?" He wasn't surprised by the fact that Igor already knew about her. The master of the a Velvet Room has long ago stated that he would, as he likes to put it, 'observe his progress' even before he first awakened his Persona.
Standing at his right outside the cell, he saw Caroline hit the bars with her baton, sending an electric charge across the metal. "Watch that insolent tone, Inmate?!"
The man behind the desk chuckled as he responded, "No more than you do, of that I can assure you. However, due to the given turn of events, your rehabilitation may have gone through an unexpected drastic change."
"What are you talking about? What kind of change do you mean?" Even after all this time, Ren had yet to understand what Igor meant by 'Rehabilitation,' but he was starting to get an idea.
"You haven't forgotten what the girl told you, have you Trickster?" A wicked smile spread across his lips. "There were others who came alongside her across the gate through time, though not all of them were necessarily allies."
What is he trying to say? Ren thought in confusion before a memory came to mind. Hold on, is he talking about those creatures that we fought back in Mementos?
"I see that you finally understood," Igor said with a pleased tone. "Our time is short, so heed my words and beware the distortions that now plague the Metaverse and the real world. Go forth with your Rehabilitation and continue changing the hearts of the ignorant masses like you've been doing until now."
He was about to retort, but Justine, who stood outside his cell at his left, cut him off. "It's time for you to go back, Inmate," she said as the sound of an alarm ringed across the room.
And before he knew it, he was back in his room.
A time-traveler from a far land seeking to change the future. She and her companions traveled through time by unknown means and got separated.
A warrior from another time. You're currently helping her search for her missing allies. She is aware of your identity as a Phantom Thief and seems to trust you.
Well, that was an entertaining chapter. Writing both Joker and Lucina bonding can be quite fun to do when you consider both of their personalities, but I believe I'm doing alright so far. I'm also shifting their POV between sections, if only to display each of their individual thoughts more easily.
Igor seems to be dropping some hints to who or what else came through the portal alongside Lucina and the other Shepherds. I'm sure all of you can tell what it is, as it's even written over the summary for the story.
I have a few other things that I would like to continue to work with, but for now this should be it. Hopefully you guys enjoyed the chapter. With that said, I wish you all a wonderful day.