~*Just Another Day*~
There was nothing special going on, contrary to what you may have thought.
Neku hunched his shoulders; lifting the wide collar on his blue jacket and basically displaying all of his usual don't get near me vibes that he was known for. The teen's quick, sharp azure eyes flashed from left to right, searching for anything that could betray his secret.
A smile was tugging at the corner of his mouth. He had done it!
The Golden Emperor is mine!
There was only so many Golden Emperors available after all. The Pin was a special edition once in a lifetime collector's item. No one in all of Shibuya would have this Pin! No one! There were only one hundred in existence! Just wait until Shooter got a load of this, he'd be so green with envy that they'd mistake him for a leaf of lettuce!
Shibuya was loud, large, and about as vivid as a monochrome disc with splashes of unexpected color. The Scramble Crossing was packed with civilians, and every once in a while, a whoop of anger or joy emerged from the crowd as they battled with the best thing ever invented—Tin Pin.
Skulking discreetly, Neku hid himself in the shadow of a large building. The alley was surprisingly clean, devoid of anything but some dusty crates and a half-filled trash can. Twisting the bright yellow Pin in his hands, the boy's eyes glinted even in the gloom.
An unexpected chord was struck, then another, and a blast of music assailed his eardrums. Irritated, Neku dug out his cell phone and checked the number.
Crap, what did she want now? If it had to do with the Prince or the Crayon Warriors or Shooter or anything related to fashion, it was most definitely not worth his time. He had hours of fawning over the Golden Emperor to get to. The nerve.
"Hello?" He mumbled past gritted teeth.
"Neku!" Shiki exclaimed on the other end. He heard the wild pumping of a pop song in the background. He didn't recognize any of the words. "You won't believe what's just happened!"
"Does it have to do with the Prince or some other—"
"Nope, nuh uh! It's not that! Black, I mean Rhyme, she says she has this awesome Pin that no one else could possibly have in all of Shibuya!"
A cold feeling of dread hit Neku's stomach. Did that blonde Bito girl have a Golden Emperor too? Annoyance followed a short second later. "Is that so? Did she say what it is?"
"Some kind of Platinum….thing," Shiki replied with a trace of thoughtfulness in her high voice. "Anyway, we're meeting at Ramen Don in five, you gonna be there?"
"I guess," Neku muttered, his heart flipping. A Platinum "thing"? Could it be that one of a kind contest prize that…?
"Great! See you soon!" She hung up.
Neku did the same, frowning, drumming his fingers along his white shorts. Maybe, just maybe, Shiki had been wrong. She was rather scatterbrained.
"Hanging out in dark alleys, Neku?"
Jumping, the boy whirled around to find a pair of purple eyes about a hairsbreadth away from him.
"Oh dear God!" Neku leaped back, stumbling, almost falling onto the hard cement. He managed to stabilize himself by snatching a drainage pipe before he collided with the unforgiving and very painful sidewalk.
Joshua, for of course it was he, clicked his tongue and formed an arch with his fingers. He turned his head and surveyed him from the corner of one eye, a lazy smiling playing on the edges of his lips.
"There was no one the hell in this alley! How did you get behind me?!"
"Why, I wanted to be."
"What? That doesn't answer my question!" Neku spat, annoyed by how the pale blonde had snuck up on him. Then he remembered his rendezvous with the others, and he turned away, checking the road for vehicles. He had meant to leave the very unwelcome visitor behind, but of course Joshua tagged along anyway.
Weaving around and through dozens of city-goers, the boys exchanged their usual snarky remarks.
"I don't want to be accused by Shiki again of hanging out with you for 'reasons'." Neku broke the awkward silence with that charming little statement, glaring at his companion.
Joshua neatly sidestepped past three little girls following their mother, red bows bobbing on their heads. "Now, now, Neku, let's not pretend."
The lighting became obscured as they entered the darker corners of the city, hunting for the Ramen Don. The people around them became more eccentrically dressed, and as such the billboards displayed odder and odder things to reflect the now teenager-centered market.
"Pretend that you don't like me," Joshua noted with some satisfaction.
"You can rot in Hell."
"Would you inflict such mortal agony on the Devil?"
Neku growled crossly and a tick starting going in his right eye. Noticing the twitch, Joshua commented airily, "You might want to get that checked out."
A furious roar made them both pause, and Neku glanced over his shoulder. A tan bear Noise was…well… bearing down on a group of Tin Pin players.
He turned away, and Joshua didn't even dignify the situation with a look.
The Noise had always been here, in any case. Obviously Neku wasn't dead—Joshua might be, or at least his heart was, the bastard—but regardless the Noise were accessible to everyone and everything. They were excellent suppliers of Pins after all. How else would such wonderful items come into existence? Not only did they make fantastic game pieces, but they battled the empty-eyed monsters too!
Banging open the shop door, Neku and Joshua strode into the establishment. It had its usual tidy appearance, with the down-toned color scheme and familiar smells that saturated the air oh-so wonderfully. The Ramen Don was the headquarters of the…what were they called again? Tin Pin Slammers? He didn't care; they were basically "Crayon Warriors".
Luckily, since the heat of the Pin thieves had died down, the whole being-named-after-a-color concept had dropped off the proverbial map. Neku prayed to God that it never came back. Ever.
Ken Doi was the manager of the Ramen Don, and he greeted Neku with a cheery wave. The spiky-haired teen said nothing, just averted his gaze and sidled away from Joshua.
"What did I do to deserve such harsh treatment, dear?"
"One more word from you and I'll show you 'harsh treatment'."
Neku clenched and unclenched his fingers, contemplating murder no doubt, but he relaxed as he spotted Shiki springing lightly towards him, pink hair bouncing with every step.
"There you are! You're late," she accused. Mr. Mew hung from under one arm, his black tail limply drooping. He found it strange that she wasn't animating her precious stuffed cat.
"I got held up by the Royal Prick over there." Neku jerked his thumb towards the smirking boy leaning against the wall, arms crossed, never blinking.
"R-e-e-ally?" Shiki drew the word out, brown eyes shining suggestively. "And what were you doing?"
"Get out of your little twisted fantasy world! Is Rhyme here?" He lightly popped her on the head, and though her hat probably took a good deal of the pressure, she flinched and ducked back.
Neku followed her gaze and spotted the insipid white door that led into the girl's restroom.
"Oh," he said in lack of anything else more intelligent to say. He rubbed at the back of his orange spines. "What're you up to?" He inquired at last.
Shiki rested against the countertop, stroking Mr. Mew's head absently. "Where to begin? You still haven't come to my place so I can design an outfit for you!"
Grimacing, Neku replied, "Well. I forgot."
The truth was, he didn't want to be "blessed" by the "White Angels", Shiki's horde of Prince-obsessed fan girls.
She pouted at him, lower lip trembling. "You're making excuses. Do I have to do whatever Josh does to get you to listen to me?"
Ken snorted with laughter as he cleaned a bowl with a cloth. Neku was mortified to feel heat rushing to his face. A soft giggle made him whip around to glare at Joshua, only to find that the boy was once again right behind him and he only just avoided an embarrassing situation by dropping to the floor. The action caused him to crash his head against a stool, and he groaned, rubbing his skull.
Rhyme pranced towards him, blue eyes narrowed shrewdly. Her cute, infantile appearance was only an illusion, since she was about as cunning as a fox. "Are you okay?"
Pushing aside Shiki's offered hand, Neku forced himself to his feet. His head was spinning, and every heartbeat generated a painful pulse that ran across the entire length of his scrawny frame. Swearing in every way possible—in the solitude of his mind—Neku just shrugged at her question. "I'll live."
"But you didn't answer me," Shiki said after she had scanned him for any signs of blood. "Do I have to do whatever Joshua does?"
"Joshua does nothing," Neku stressed the word, shooting daggers at the silent and very much amused boy. But of course Joshua was never quiet for long.
"Oh, but dear, you don't have to keep it a secret!"
"What's a secret?"
Neku groaned and slammed a hand onto his face as Beat joined them, stuffing curry in his mouth, his hat sliding down onto his left eye. It gave the skater a lopsided appearance. Rhyme studiously straightened his cap, standing on the very tips of her toes.
"Apparently Neku and Joshua 'do things' for one another," the not-so-innocent Bito sister said with a trace of smugness.
"No we don't! I want this message to get across once and for all." Neku ignored Shiki's interested expression, as if she was hearing something particularly intriguing to her. "Now, Rhyme, what the hell was worth coming across town and listening to this conversation?"
"Even if it's not the truth, I don't want any of that in my restaurant," Ken said with an austere frown in their direction, obviously still referring to Neku's and Joshua's implied "things".
Laughter suddenly exploded from Beat as he caught on, clapping his palm onto his face and guffawing loudly. Rhyme's lips twitched with amusement.
The Bito girl said in her shrill voice, "Okay, Neku. See? I got the Platinum Monarch!" She lifted her hand and displayed the shiny metallic Pin laying face-up. The symbols and design were reminiscent of an angel's.
Stunned, the orange-haired teen examined it from every angle. "That was a contest prize," he spluttered, too shocked to really move.
"I won it."
"Really? What are the odds of that?" Joshua mused, violet eyes narrowed as he surveyed her. His tone was vaguely accusing, but it was so subtle that Neku wondered if he was imagining it.
"I dunno," she replied cheerily. She closed her fingers over her shiny prize and it was gone, just like that.
"Where's Shooter?" Ken questioned casually as he gave Beat some more curry.
Neku reached into his pocket and showed everyone the Golden Emperor. "This really pales in comparison," he grumbled.
"No, it's still good," Rhyme disagreed with a mocking wink.
Shiki answered Ken's query. "Oh, he's with his grandfather at some family gathering thing." She tossed her hand as if simply waving the matter off. "I can't wait to see his face!"
Scowling, Neku looked at everyone's awestruck expressions—minus Joshua, who just looked bored. Jealousy boiled up within him. "Say, Rhyme…What would you say if I challenged you to a Tin Pin match for the Monarch?"
She froze, and then slid her eyes over his form as if searching for something. "Oh? And would you give me the Golden Emperor in exchange?"
Rhyme tilted her head back and smirked. "But it's the Platinum Monarch. Rare as yours is, I think you'd have to give me at least one other Pin to equal the value of mine."
"You can have your pick."
"Neku, are you serious?" Shiki gasped.
"Well, he's the best player here," Joshua shrugged. "I have complete faith in my dear—"
"Do we have a deal?" Neku interrupted. He offered his hand to Rhyme, and the girl studied him silently before returning the gesture with surprising force.
The match ensued right there in Ramen Don. It was tense, it was wild, it was vicious and crazy and nerve wracking and nail-bitingly close and tense and above all else, stunning. In fact, it was so amazing that the writer of this piece couldn't properly portray it and she had to put down some filler text in a sad effort to convey unto you the mind blowing power of such a spectacular duel.
And of course, Neku won, because he's the protagonist and never loses anything major.
Rhyme just stared for a few heartbeats, and the expressions flying across her face would no doubt generate some terribly vicious Noise that he'd have to take care of later, but that didn't matter. What did matter was that he possessed both the Platinum Monarch and the Golden Emperor, and no one on earth, above it, below it, or in any of its co-existing planes could match or beat Neku's satisfaction.
Pulling his earphones down to hang on his neck, to better hear Rhyme, Neku asked, "I'm sorry? What was that?"
"I said you won fair and square," the girl ground out from between her teeth. She shoved the Pin towards him and stalked off, followed by Beat, whom gave the triumphant teen a look that said you and I will settle this in a violent manner.
But that didn't matter, naturally, because Neku was somewhere up on Cloud Nine. He'd feel guilty about taking Rhyme's prize Pin later, most likely, but he shoved it to the corner of his mind for now.
As Shiki and Ken Doi began excitedly chatting to Neku about the rare Pins he had just won, Joshua quietly slipped out the door.
The slender teen walked around the crowd.
Then he walked through them.
The transition from the RG to the UG was soundless and unnoticeable, and as the visiting Composer began to head home, he allowed himself a fleeting smirk.
Just another day in this Shibuya.
Written because I wanted to try something humorous, because I was bored, and because I had an urge to do something TWEWY related. This is obviously set in Another Day, and since there are both Noise there, they don't appear to be dead, and the place is generally rather crack-filled, I wasn't concerned with canon rules.
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