Happy Ken Amada Week! Wrote this in honor of the week celebrating him. This is essentially a sequel to Ace in the Hole, my Phantom Thief Ken fic, but you mainly just need to know this is an AU with the P3 twins, but Minako survived while Minato became the Seal, and during the events of P5, she suggested to Mitsuru to send Ken undercover to investigate the Phantom Thieves. He eventually joins them and starts dating Makoto late into the story.
The baby on the other side of the screen stared at Ken, his little mouth forming a little o. He squirmed in his mother's arms, before making a grabby motion with his hands towards the screen.
Ken couldn't help but smile a little watching his wife adjust her grip on Riku before their son ended up smacking Makoto's laptop.
"And here I thought Riku loved you best," he couldn't help but tease.
It's not that Riku fussed when Ken held him. But when he was crying, all Makoto had to do was hold him in his arms and he'd settle down. Though Ken couldn't criticize. He had adored his mother for as long as he could remember. If anything, Riku took after him in that department.
Makoto rolled her eyes for a moment. But her expression softened, growing fond, as she dropped a kiss on top of Riku's head. "He can't help it. He's never been apart from you this long."
Riku gurgled at her statement, as if he agreed with Makoto.
"Settle down, Riku," Makoto cooed. "I know you miss Daddy but Daddy has a couple more days before he'll be back home."
"So it's just Riku who misses me?" Ken couldn't help but tease lightly.
Makoto just huffed, glaring at him. Ken stifled a laugh as Riku let out a little squeal, clapping his hands.
She then grumbled out, "Don't encourage Daddy, Riku, he can get annoyingly smug sometimes."
"Only when I'm right," Ken said lightly.
Makoto huffed in response, narrowing her eyes at him. "Don't think I won't smack you once you get back to Tokyo."
"I suppose I'll just have to hold Riku then," Ken laughed.
Riku then began to fuss a little, a small whimper escaping him, catching both of their attention. Makoto reached out, picking up his teething ring and offering it to their son. Riku snatched it up, practically shoving it into his mouth and gumming the toy.
"How are you holding up with him though?" Ken inquired, feeling concerned as he watched Riku continue to suck on the ring.
Makoto waved her hand. "Don't worry, Ken. Riku has been fussing a little because of teething but nothing too bad. He's been cranky when he wakes up in the middle of the night but I got him to go back to sleep with no trouble."
She then smiled wryly.
"Nothing like Tatsuo-kun."
Ken couldn't help but laugh a little at that. To say that Ren and Anne were a tad envious about the fact was putting it lightly, given their son's issues as a baby. Futaba called Tatsuo a hellion with good reason.
"I'm glad to hear that." Ken gave his wife a small smile. "I feel bad enough about leaving..."
"It's fine, Ken," Makoto insisted. "You'll be back tomorrow evening anyways."
"That is true," Ken admitted.
Makoto then adjusted her grip on Riku before speaking again. "So... how's everyone on Port Island?"
Ken caught his wife up to speed how everyone was doing. But as he continued to talk, Riku began to get fussy from hunger. So they decided to cut off the call, promising to call again in the evening.
Ken then shut his laptop before getting up to leave his room. He was currently staying with Shinjiro and Fuuka. As thanks for letting him stay at their house, he offered to watch their two-year-old daughter Ruri until Fuuka got back from work in the afternoon. Shinjiro and Fuuka's son, Takeo, was eight now so he was in school.
Ruri was sitting on the couch, listening to an audiobook on Fuuka's tablet. Ruri already loved stories so Fuuka ended up buying her several audiobooks for the times Shinjiro and Fuuka were out of the house and she was under the care of a babysitter.
He'd never admit it, but he had a soft spot for little Ruri. The toddler resembled Fuuka for the most part, with her light turquoise hair and fairer complexion. She had Shinjiro's steel gray eyes, however.
She looked up as Ken came closer, before fiddling with the audiobook to pause the reading. She then beamed up at him.
Ruri asked, "Did you have a nice talk with Auntie Makoto?"
Ken smiled. "I did."
"When are you gonna bring Riku-kun back?" she asked eagerly.
Ken raised an eyebrow. "Oh, so you're interested in just Riku now, are we?"
"Auntie Makoto too..." she mumbled out, sheepishly smiling. "But Mama's been showing me some pictures and he's sooo cute! I told Mama and Papa that I want a little sister but they told me that they'll think about it."
Ken couldn't help but laugh at that. He remembered Shinjiro complaining about that to him a few weeks ago.
"Well, Makoto and I will be coming to visit for New Year's as usual," he told her.
Ruri pouted. "But Uncle Ken, that's three months away! We still have most of October, then November, and December!"
Ken just smiled slightly before crouching in front of her. "Sorry, Ruri. But we'll bring you something nice, I promise."
"Like what?" she asked eagerly, her eyes shining.
Ken tapped the tip of her nose. "That'll ruin the surprise. You'll have to wait."
"So mean..." Ruri grumbled.
Ken chuckled. "So... do you want to keep listening to your story? Or do you want to do something together?"
Ruri clapped her hands together. "Oooh, can we bake cookies?" she begged. "I want to surprise Mama! Her desserts are the best but I wanna make her something! Pretty please? With sugar on top?"
"Even though your papa doesn't like sugar?" Ken asked teasingly.
Ruri's brow furrowed at that but then her face brightened. "Maybe I can convince him! Auntie Mina says that he's such a sourpuss so maybe he just needs more sugar!"
"I don't see why we can't then. But... Good luck convincing him," Ken said slowly, struggling to keep a straight face.
Then again, Shinjiro had a huge soft spot for his only daughter. He might do it... for Ruri. For all the mocking he gave Akihiko and Junpei for how they acted around their daughters, Shinjiro wasn't much better. Minako just called it karma.
Ruri didn't seem to hear his last comment though, already skipping towards the kitchen.
"MAMA! You're home early!"
Fuuka crouched down, catching Ruri in her arms.
"Hi there, sweetie," she cooed as she straightened up, before kissing Ruri's cheek. "Did you have fun with Uncle Ken today?"
Ruri wrapped her arms around Fuuka's neck before kissing her back.
"Loads of fun!" she said cheerfully, only for her to frown. "But hey, where's Nii-chan?"
"He wanted to play with Daiki-kun so his mama took him to their house," she explained before she smiled. "So what did you do with Uncle Ken today, hm?"
Ruri tapped Fuuka's shoulder so Fuuka put her down. She grabbed Fuuka's hand.
"Uncle Ken and I made cookies! Chocolate chip! And matcha! Well... Uncle Ken helped. I did it! Mostly!"
"Did you now?" Fuuka laughed, letting Ruri tug her towards the kitchen.
Though Ruri probably was going to leave out how she dumped so much sugar in the first batter. Shinjiro probably would've had an aneurysm if he saw.
"You're hungry after work today, right, Mama? You should eat my cookies!"
"Sweetie, you don't have to pull so hard. I'm coming."
Ken just smiled, watching Ruri chatter away. She was actually kinda quiet with strangers, often opting to hide behind one of her parents' legs. But you wouldn't guess it if you looked at her now.
Though... he couldn't help but feel a little sad. He remembered feeling similar about his own mother. She had been the center of his world.
"Though... I suppose that I would be thinking that of today of all days," Ken sighed to himself.
The date was October fourth, 2027. Sometimes Ken couldn't believe that it has been twenty years since his mother's death.
Ken snapped to attention at Fuuka's soft voice.
"I'm okay, Fuuka," he said hesitantly. "I was just... thinking."
Fuuka smiled gently, understanding in her eyes. "Are you going to head out now?"
Ken nodded. "Yeah, I think it's best to do that before it gets too dark."
"You're leaving, Uncle Ken?!" Ruri gasped.
"Don't worry, Ruri." Ken smiled reassuringly. "I just have an errand to run. I'll be back for dinner. Besides, I'm pretty sure that Aunt Minako would drag me by the ear if I skipped out anyways."
"Okay." Ruri then ran to him, hugging his leg. "See you soon, Uncle Ken!"
Ken chuckled, bending down to kiss the top of her head for a moment. "I'll see you soon."
Fuuka laughed before leaning up to give Ken a quick kiss on the cheek. "Bye, Ken-kun. We'll see you tonight."
So after peeling Ruri from his leg, Ken left the house. It wasn't a complete lie... he did have a couple things to pick up before heading to the graveyard.
But soon enough, Ken was standing in the graveyard, picking through the graves until he found his mother's grave.
"Hi, Mom," Ken greeted.
He then set to work, cleaning the stone monument before setting out his offerings. He then lit the incense, offering his prayers before inserting the sticks in the dirt.
He found himself staring at the date of death.
October fourth, 2007. His mother would have been fifty-four now, had she lived. The what ifs still crept up on his mind.
Twenty years. Has it really been that long? It had been eighteen years since he had met SEES and he had found the will to live again. Eleven years since he had accepted the mission to monitor the Phantom Thieves, not knowing how important they'd become to him.
"You know when I visited with Makoto last year? And how... Makoto was pregnant after we were trying for so long? We have a son now. His name is Riku. He was born in February. February 22nd, to be exact."
He then took a shaky breath.
"The moment I held him… I understood, Mom," Ken said softly before he swallowed hard. "Why you sacrificed yourself for me."
He remembered holding Riku for the first time. He had been afraid then, for he had never held a baby that new. Then his son's eyes slowly fluttered open, revealing that his eyes were the exact same shade as Makoto's.
He thought of the way Makoto had looked so exhausted from the labor but her smile and the way her eyes had shone had made her look positively radiant.
"I know… you didn't hate Dad for the divorce… for supposedly not being ready for a child."
He then shook his head.
"But I just can't understand it."
He really couldn't. The first few months had been rough, trying to adjust his sleeping schedule for Riku. He remembered raising an eyebrow at Akihiko for wanting to watch his infant children as they slept, but now he understood.
"I wish you could meet him though," Ken said. "You were the best mom anyone could ask for… you would've loved being a grandmother."
He wiped at his eyes.
"I thought about bringing Riku here with me too but... he's kinda young to travel for so long. But we are planning on bringing him for New Year's. I'll bring him to meet you then, I promise."
He didn't know how long he talked. He didn't think the hurt of losing Mom ever went away but... it came easier. But...
It didn't make Ken stop wishing that she was still here. Even though he knew that it was a strong possibility that if she hadn't died, he wouldn't have met everyone in SEES. And that had also led him to going to Tokyo during his last year of high school, allowing him to meet Makoto and everyone else.
And he really couldn't imagine his life without any of them.
But he jumped at the sudden sound of crunching leaves. Shinjiro then stood next to Ken, staring down at the grave.
"Shinjiro..." he said quietly.
"So... it's been twenty years, huh?" Shinjiro mused, before shaking his head. "Damn, time flies."
The older man then heaved out a sigh, rubbing at his face.
"How are you feeling, Ken?" he asked suddenly.
"The... usual," Ken said hesitantly before looking at his former guardian. "But how are you holding up, Shinjiro?"
Shinjiro's expression turned pensive.
"Sometimes I think about what I took from you that night. It wasn't just your mom. I made you lose your childhood. You had to grow up too fast. And I still think 'bout how Takeo is almost as old as you when you lost your mom."
"It wasn't your fault..." Ken murmured. "You know that, right? Besides... you've more than made up for it."
He couldn't think of many people who decided that they needed to make up for that kind of mistake... by becoming the kid's guardian. But Shinjiro had. He had taken Ken in and tried his hardest to give back to Ken. Even though Shinjiro wasn't much older than Ken, the older man was the closest thing Ken had to a father figure.
"You've told me too many times." Shinjiro smiled sardonically. "But I guess I've forgiven myself... but I can't forget."
Then he glanced towards Ken.
"I never knew your mom personally but I think she would've been proud of what you've become. Any mom would be."
Ken swallowed hard. "Shinjiro..."
His words were stuck in his throat.
Shinjiro coughed into his hand, his cheeks suddenly turning pink.
"Even though you can be a real little shit sometimes."
This just made Ken laugh. "Takes one to know one."
"I think if she could, Mom would've thanked you," Ken said. "For everything you've done for me over the years."
"It wasn't much..." Shinjiro grumbled out.
"I think you're downplaying things too much," Ken said. "I think... she would've liked you too. As a person, I mean. She appreciated honesty."
Shinjiro grew somber at that.
"You really think so?"
Ken nodded. "Yeah. Though she probably would've smacked you for how much swearing you do. Might have even scrubbed your mouth clean with soap."
Shinjiro snorted in response. "Yeah, yeah, not everyone can be as squeaky clean as you."
Then he cleared his throat.
"B-But anyways, we should head back," Shinjiro said gruffly. "We don't want Minako to give us crap for being late."
Ken laughed. "Can't have that, can we?"
But as they walked away, Ken glanced in the direction of his mother's grave.
"Bye, Mom," he silently thought. "I'll see you soon."
Tokyo's train station was as packed as always. But Ken was happy to be here, since he was nearly home.
He turned at the sound of his wife's voice. Makoto was weaving through the crowd, keeping a tight grip on Riku. Ken met her halfway, giving her a quick kiss. Then Makoto led him to a more stranded area before speaking again.
"Welcome home," she said with a soft smile.
Ken smiled back at her. "It's good to be home."
It was then Riku began to fuss a little, squirming in Makoto's arms. He stretched towards Ken with grabby hands.
Makoto chuckled as she handed Riku over. "Someone wants Daddy," she said with a warm smile.
"I missed him too." Ken pressed a gentle kiss against his forehead. Riku took the opportunity to reach up and pat Ken's cheeks. "Everyone sends their regards, by the way."
"Your bag is a lot bigger, you know," Makoto commented. "Don't tell me that Minako-san gave you baby toys for Riku..."
Ken smiled wryly. "I could but I'd be lying."
"Unbelievable..." she sighed.
"Hey, it's not like Sae-san doesn't spoil Riku," Ken retorted.
Makoto huffed, rolling her eyes for a moment. "Sis is one person. You have eight surrogate older siblings who want to spoil our son."
Riku seemed to know that they were talking about him, as he let out a soft coo in that moment.
Ken shifted Riku in his arms in a more comfortable position. "So did I miss anything?"
Makoto narrowed her eyes at him. "Don't change the subject."
Ken raised an eyebrow. "What are you talking about?"
"Ken!" But Makoto was laughing now, shaking her head. "Though I suppose I should wait until we get back home before scolding you further."
Ken just smiled at his wife. She and Riku—they weren't just his future. They were his family, after losing his one blood relative who had loved him with no strings attached.
"I love you," Ken said quietly.
Makoto blinked before her expression softened. "I love you too."
Then she frowned sternly.
"But don't think this will get you out of trouble!"
Ken laughed. "I wouldn't expect anything less."
I don't think I've really talked about how much I love Ken's character arc. He grows so much from a scared, suicidal kid. Though I do really wish that in canon, that Ken and Shinjiro could have made amends and built a relationship together. And for those of you who are waiting for the next update for Ace in the Hole, it's coming, I promise. There were some irl complications regarding my beta, but an update will be here soon!