Disclaimer: No luck convincing Square Enix to wage the rights to The World Ends With You on a game of Tin Pin Slammer yet. Soon as they do, though, I'll be able to claim ownership, because I rock at Tin Pin Slammer. But until then . . .
Authors' Note: Goofy little idea that came to me while I was serving up coffee at work. Keep in mind that when I say goofy, I mean goofy. This fic is crack on par with Another Day (that is, on par with the crack levels). Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy it.
Sanae Hanekoma - a man of many talents. A successful coffee shop owner, clothing designer, graphic designer, graffiti artist, pin creator, cell phone technician . . . As far as Neku was concerned, there was nothing the man couldn't do. One day, Neku discovered that Hanekoma could also write books - and this was not something Neku was pleased to discover.
"The hell is this, Mr. Hanekoma?!" The words were out of Neku's mouth before he even finished entering the café, Shiki, Beat, and Rhyme following in after. Despite Neku's angry outburst, Hanekoma turned to face him with a grin, leaning against the counter.
"Looks like my new book, boss." Hanekoma chuckled. "What, you don't like it?"
"Don't like it?" Neku stopped in front of the counter, and - still scowling - flipped the book in his hands over to read the back cover. "'From the multi-talented artist CAT comes this thrilling new novel of harrowing adventure with dashes of romance. The World Ends With You follows a fifteen-year-old boy named Phones as he struggles to regain his memory and his life in an otherworldly game. With only his partner Kitty to help him, Phones has seven days to complete the missions and avoid dangers posed by Reapers and otherworldly monsters known as Noise.'" Neku looked up at Hanekoma, his glare heated. "Really, Mr. H?!"
"Well, I think it sounds like a pretty good tale." Hanekoma took a drink of his coffee, grinning around the rim of the mug. Neku dropped the book upon the counter, folding his arms.
"Who the hell gave you permission to turn my life into a fantasy novel?! Half the stuff in that book isn't even accurate! And why are you calling Shiki 'Kitty'?"
"Ain't it obvious? She carries that stuffed cat everywhere."
"Stuffed . . . ? Wait, you mean the pig?"
"Neku!" Neku had almost forgotten that Shiki and the others were there, and he looked over his shoulder to find that Shiki was glaring at him. "How many times do we have to have this conversation? Mr. Mew is a - "
" - cat. Yeah, yeah." Neku turned back to Hanekoma, but picked up the book again as he began to flip through it. "Aside from the cat-pig thing, you weren't subtle. At all. Phones, Kitty, Skaterbrain . . . And 'Rhythm' for Rhyme?"
"Close enough." Hanekoma shrugged, and looked over at Rhyme. "Do you mind?"
"It's better than Skulls Jr.," Rhyme said, walking over to hop up onto the one of the stools. Beat joined her, reaching over to give Neku a playful shove.
"Yo, Phones, chill. S'not like it matters much. 'Sides, who's gonna believe somethin' like that? People don't read books, so it don't matter."
"Beat, your actions don't represent the rest of the world," Neku told him flatly, but Beat ignored him.
"Yo, Coffee Breath, got any pancakes?"
"Sure do." Hanekoma moved to go into the back room, but Neku held up his hands, unable to let the subject drop.
"No, I want an answer. How did you even manage to get away with this? Aside from issues with characterization, this . . . this is pretty much my experience in the Reaper's Game for all three weeks. How is this even allowed?"
"Come now, Neku, you give the populace of Shibuya too much credit. Mr. H's book is a work of fiction, and most people are going to take it as such. They wouldn't find out the truth of the matter unless they died, and by then it's far too late. You and your friends were the exceptions to the rule; most people don't get second chances."
The words came from behind them, and Neku turned to find himself glaring in the face of a smirking Joshua, who casually walked forward to hop up onto the counter, his movements far more cat-like than Mr. Mew's ever were in the Game. Hanekoma nodded toward Joshua, remarking, "What he said," before he disappeared into the back room to get pancakes made up for Beat.
"Hate to say it, but Joshua does have a point," Shiki agreed, reaching out to put a placating hand on Neku's shoulder. "We know it's not fiction - well, mostly not fiction - but the rest of Shibuya doesn't. They'll just think it's a good story."
"Not only that, but it fits with the sort of artwork CAT has already shown to the world," Joshua continued. "The motif of Reapers fits excellently with the Gatito brand."
"Yeah, don't get all twisted up, yo," Beat agreed. "Jus' chill."
"There's no use closing the barn door after the horse has already run out of the stable," Rhyme supplied. "The book's published, so getting upset now won't help, right?"
Neku sighed, raising his hands in defeat. "Fine, fine. I'll lay off. Still pisses me off that he wrote this, but I guess you're right; getting mad won't do anything now. Besides, it's not like this'll really affect me, since he didn't use my real name."
"There, see?" Shiki smiled, squeezing Neku's shoulder comfortingly. "I bet you feel better already."
Before Neku could either agree or disagree with her statement, the door to WildKat opened, and two giggling girls walked in. When they were near enough to spot the book they ran over, several high pitched squeals coming out of their mouths, and practically dove to swipe the book off the counter.
"Ohmigawd, you guys read it too?!" one of the girls asked, and without waiting for a response, continued. "I finished this book in, like, a day! It was sooooo good! The best book this year - CAT's amazing!"
"Well, I finished it in an hour!" her friend jumped in. "And oh my gosh, speaking of The World Ends With You, did I tell you about that amazing new fansite I found?!"
"Ohmigosh, no!" The first girl turned toward her friend while Neku, Beat, and Rhyme exchanged bewildered glances; Shiki and Joshua seemed to have no problem following the conversation. "Tell me, tell me!"
"It's the best site ever - tons of fic, fanart, and no wank!" The second girl paused and then asked, "Wait, you ship Phones and J, right?"
Neku had no idea what the word 'ship' meant, but he had a feeling it was bad when Shiki clapped her hands over her mouth, her eyes going wide, and Joshua began to smirk. "Wait, 'ship'? What the hell does that - "
"Uh, duh! Jhones is the hottest ship since Benho or Prinseven." The first girl rolled her eyes. "But seriously, good fic and art and no wank? Sign me up! Is it on ThriveJournal?"
"Oh, no, it's totally independent of TJ. Though, I did find some good art on vagabondART the other day. And even a good fic on FunFicdotNet!"
"Okay, WHAT the hell is everyone talking about?!" Neku burst out, finally gaining the attention of the two girls.
"I know, right?" Shiki jumped in. "Everyone knows that Prinseven would never work out. An OT3 with Def Märch is where it's at. Benhoseven, baby."
"Pft, who even cares about them anymore?" The first girl demanded. "Jhones is where it's at and - and . . ." The first girl seemed to truly look at the others gathered in WildKat, her eyes flickering rapidly between Neku and Joshua. "Oh . . . Oh my god . . . Are you guys cosplaying J and Phones?!"
"What? Cosplaying?" Images of maid cafés and anime otaku burst into Neku's mind, and he quickly shook his head. "The hell are you playing at? Of course we're not - "
"Got your pancakes, Skaterbrain," Hanekoma called as he came out of the back room. "Sure you don't want any, Phones?"
"Oh my god, you so totally are!" The girl's voice was shrill enough to nearly shatter the windows of WildKat, and she and her friendly quickly whipped out their cell phones, cameras at the ready. "You guys have to do some yaoi poses for us! Those are the best cosplays ever!"
"Ooh, ooh, get Skaterbrain in on it too! It'll be an awesome OT3! Kitty and Rhythm, you guys could just get in the shots looking all jealous or shocked or whatevs."
Rhyme looked as though she'd have no problem looking surprised, but Shiki groaned, placing her face in her hands. "I'm sorry, Neku. I tried to change the subject, but . . ."
Neku could only stare in horror at the girls for a few moments before Joshua spoke up, sounding as unaffected and amused as ever.
"Neku, dear, I do believe they mean that they want us to pose in a way that would suggest sexual - "
"I know what they mean!" Neku hissed, backing slowly away from the two girls. "Uh . . . I'm . . . gonna bounce, later!" Those words spoken, Neku turned and bolted, ignoring the panicked cries from the two girls as he ran far and fast from the café, Shiki on his heels.
"Phones' own fault if he misses on some pancakes," Beat remarked, shrugging. Rhyme might have said something in response, but was paying more attention to Joshua, who was rapidly hitting numbers on his phone, smirking all the while.
"What are you doing, J?" Hanekoma asked, sending Rhyme's curiosity. Joshua chuckled.
"Oh, I'm just looking for some pictures to send to Neku's phone. I think he might find them amusing." His smirk widened. "Who knew that you could find so much fanart for your book on vagabondART? Our characters seem to be rather popular, and I think that there are some pictures that Neku will simply die to see . . ."