Joshua received his first cell phone on his tenth birthday. He accepted his gift with the fake graciousness he'd learned over the years; he knew the cell was less about giving him a present and more about his parents' desire to keep up appearances.
What's worse, he thought as he idly thumbed through the menus, was that there was no one he wanted on his contacts list.
Well, maybe that wasn't entirely accurate.
"Hey, kiddo! What brings you here today?"
Joshua glanced up from the cell phone in his hand to where the barista was leaning against the counter, a cleaning cloth in his hand. It took Joshua a long moment before he responded; it seemed like such a stupid reason to come to the WildKat. Forget it. He'd just satisfy his other curiosity instead. Tossing his cell phone over to Mr. Hanekoma - he didn't really care whether the older man dropped it or not - he said, "This design is yours, isn't it? CAT."
Mr. Hanekoma caught the cell phone easily in one hand before he glanced down at it and laughed, a hearty guffaw. "Can't put anything past you, can I, J?" He took on a more serious look, though, and added, "But that's not why you came here, is it?"
Joshua huffed and folded his arms, looking away. "You've a cell, right?" He couldn't quite bring himself to ask, 'Can I have your number?' and just let the unasked question dangle between them for a long moment.
He yelped when his cell phone nearly struck him in the face, and ended up fumbling the thing until it clattered onto the WildKat's floor. As he knelt to pick it back up, Mr. Hanekoma said, "I think you should take better care of that cell, J. You're the only one in Shibuya with a direct line to CAT, now!" and laughed long and loud like the whole thing was some private joke at Joshua's expense.
Just for that, Joshua sent his first text message to Mr. Hanekoma at 4 AM.
It'd been so long since anyone from his class talked to him of their own volition that he could only stare, slackjawed, at the new girl. Haruka, on the other hand, put a finger to her chin in thought and asked, unsure, "Did I say something wrong?"
Joshua thought for a moment, before he shook his head. "It's not every day someone asks me for my number." More like, never. "You've only known me for-" Joshua checked the time on his cell phone, "- forty minutes, after all."
She smiled and flipped open her phone, thumb ghosting over the buttons before handed her cell phone over to him. "Go on," she encouraged, when he didn't take the phone, "Friends should share numbers, so they can share even when they're not physically next to each other."
Friend. That wasn't a word he'd heard associated with himself. He was tempted to just brush off her offer - she'd undoubtedly be taken in with the rest of the giggling gaggle in the school and forget about him - but he found he couldn't quite shake off that tantalising promise of having someone else to talk to. Silently, he took her cell phone and hesitated over the unfamiliar feel of her cell's keys before entering in his number, handing her phone back when he was done.
"Now," Haruka said cheerfully, holding out a hand, "give me your phone."
That night, he received a text message, "4-6-4-9," and couldn't help but smile.
He wasn't disappointed; from the day on, Haruka's name was a constant alongside Mr. Hanekoma on his contact list. Frustrating nights at home were made all the more bearable with the ability to text to someone his age under the cover of his blankets when he was supposed to be asleep. Even when he was forced to leave Shibuya - no thanks to his parents - they kept in touch through long voice calls over Saturday nights that stretched until Sunday dawn.
But then he ran away from home, intending to come back to Shibuya, only to die.
When he found out Haruka didn't remember him anymore - his entry fee… his real entry fee he forfeited when he chose not to play the Game by the rules - Joshua gripped his cell phone so tightly he could feel the plastic and metal shift under his hand. Bitterly, he deleted names until there was only one person left on his contact list.
He had no reason to come back to the RG now.
"I seem to have misjudged you. For that, I apologise."
Joshua waved away the apology with a hand, shoving the other one deep into the pocket of his Reaper hoodie. "Please, you're making me blush, Megs." His tone was light and easy, on the other hand. "You were my dear, dear partner."
The older man smirked, eyes hard to make out from behind his dark shades. "You still are."
At that, Joshua turned away, unsure of how he felt about that. Megumi hadn't liked him at first, despite being partners, so this buddy-buddy attitude made him off balance.
"What is your number?" Joshua's internal question of 'why' must have been quite obvious; Megumi clarified, "If I hear anything, you'll be the first to know."
He can't help but quip back, "My, my, I get to be first in the queue? I'm flattered," but exchanged numbers with Megumi anyway, giving the Harrier a small wave as he left.
Talking to Megumi wasn't the same as talking to Haruka - his gut twisted a little, whenever he thought of that name - but there was a different kind of companionship to their conversations over the phone. As time went on, he grew to appreciate it. And, Joshua had to admit, it was nice having someone he could trust to have his back.
But when he became Composer and saw the lack of recognition behind Megumi's shades, Joshua excused himself from the Room of Reckoning and disappeared to the roof of Pork City. There, he could see everyone and feel the thoughts of the entire city flow through and out of him. With a frustrated scream, he lobbed his cell phone as far as he could throw it.
Joshua bought a new phone. A rather plain thing in orange, compared to his old one. He wasn't entirely sure why he bought it, when there was only one number he would put on there. And why would he even need it, when he could drop by the WildKat whenever he wanted, now?
But, he supposed, that wasn't quite true. Joshua's thumb hovered over the buttons, hesitating, before he finally pushed one.
He raised his cell phone to his ear and…
… waited for the dial tone and…
… waited for the phone to be picked up…
Joshua closed his eyes when he heard Neku's annoyed and confused demand to know who was calling him in the middle of the night, and quietly thought, I can't do this again, and abruptly pushed another button. Flipping shut his phone, he closed his eyes against the words that had gloomily blinked at him from the darkness.
Author's Notes: 4-6-4-9 is another way of saying yoroshiku, which has a pretty wide nuance in meaning, but basically means "pleased to meet you" in this case. Admittedly, this is one of my lazier pieces, and is based off one of my earlier one-shots, No Dying Until the End.