Adam and Ren changed into something more appropriate for a day in the woods.
Ren gave Yusei's bed a onceover, realizing he hadn’t seen him since morning - in fact, he was already gone when Ren and Adam woke up.
Part of him was relieved, since Yusei was a little too rough for Ren, but another part of him couldn’t help but worry.
There was a chance he was with Airi and Agatha, making a move.
Then again, Cupid said Yusei was afraid of girls, so it’s possible he was actually the one being terrorized instead.
A dry sound behind him startled him as he tied his shoelaces.
Adam had knocked down a thick book from the nightstand on his side of the bed.
It was a black notebook with a thick cover embossed with silver decorations, and it had fallen open face down on the floor.
He saw Adam pick it up carefully and examine the pages to make sure they weren’t damaged.
As he did so, Ren also saw in it plenty of drawings - mostly pencil art, detailed and gothic, of dragons and other similar creatures.
He approached him carefully, never taking his eyes off the artwork.
“...Did you draw those, Stoker?”
“I didn’t know you liked to draw.”
“You never asked.”
Okay, that’s fair, Ren thought.
Last night when they were talking for who knows how long, it really was mostly Ren doing the talking. Adam would chime in with a few questions from time to time, but it was mostly Ren who opened up.
He had barely learned anything about Adam, or even made a genuine attempt at getting to know him.
Then again, just thinking about getting close to Adam made his stomach drop. Did he really want to get to know him out of genuine curiosity, or were his desires ultimately ulterior, so as to keep Adam from falling for any of the others?
He hated how Cupid had poisoned his brain.
Before he knew it, he ended up apologizing.
Adam gave him a blank stare for a second before turning away to tuck his sketchbook into his backpack.
“No, it’s not,” Ren sighed. “I was pretty selfish last night and ended up only talking about my situation. I should have listened to you, too.”
Adam shook his head.
“If you had tried to get me to open up after what you told me, I wouldn’t have wanted to. So in a way, it was better that you didn’t.”
Ren was surprised that they were both thinking the same.
He couldn’t help but smile a little.
“...You’re a good guy, Stoker.”
“You said that to me before, too.”
That’s right, Ren thought.
He called him ‘nice’ last night and Adam looked shocked. How could he forget?
More and more, he was convinced nobody ever treated Adam like a decent human being.
He stepped closer, handing Adam a bottle of water he took from the kitchen.
“Well, I said it before because that’s how I feel.”
Adam accepted the bottle, taciturn, but slightly awkward. He avoided Ren’s eyes when he spoke.
“...I think you’re a good guy, too.”
Ren blinked a few times.
“Even after I told you about the Cupid thing?”
“Precisely because you told me.”
“Hah. I’m mostly impressed you took me seriously without proof.”
Adam shook his head.
“Julius Verne is part of the student council. Someone like that would never approach me for no reason, so what you said had to be true.”
Ren completely forgot Julius had some sort of important standing in the school.
He just knew him as the snobby kid that hung around the library often, but never cared enough to find out anything about his life. So if he did know at one point that Julius was part of the student council, it never mattered enough to stick in Ren’s memory.
Adam looked at Ren’s quiet but sour face.
“...You don’t like him either, do you?”
Ren felt busted.
“I… Don’t really know him.”
“That’s not what I asked.”
“He’s… hard to handle sometimes.” Ren finished adjusting his clothes and his bag, sighing.
The part of him that wants to stay neutral about everyone was at odds with the part of him that hated dealing with Julius Verne.
“Anyway, are you ready? They’re waiting for us.”
The moment they stepped outside the cabin, Ren flinched.
“Wait, I forgot the water bottle. Gimme a sec.”
“You gave it to m—”
Ren didn’t wait for his answer before he briskly walked back inside the cabin.
In reality he didn’t forget, he simply wanted to grab an extra one for Emma, who most likely didn’t bring one herself.
Once inside the room, he reached for one of the bottles he kept on the nightstand, and to his surprise, there was something else resting beside it.
He approached the object slowly.
It had been placed neatly facing up, and definitely not there before they left.
It was a golden ticket with big, fancy letters printed on it in dark ink that sparkled when held to the light.
Ren reached for it and examined it from front and back.
The big inscription in the middle of it read “Cupid Summoning Ticket”
Of course Cupid was involved in this.
Whatever a Summoning Ticket was, though, Ren had no idea.
He shook it, bent it in half, tossed it in the air and caught it, but nothing happened.
“You know, if you’re gonna leave a cryptic item here for me to find, at least add some instructions on how to use it.”
He said to nobody in particular.
But last time Emma called his name, Cupid emerged from the bus— it might have been a coincidence, though. On the off chance it wasn’t, Ren figured talking to the air like this might work, anyway.
He waited a couple of seconds, but there was no answer.
“...Fine. Suit yourself. I’ll burn this in the campfire we’re having this evening.”
He turned around and was ready to toss it away when suddenly he heard a bell from somewhere behind him.
When he turned, he saw a white cat sitting on the window frame.
Its fur was long and well cared for— nothing like what a roaming cat would look like. It was wearing a pink velvet collar with a heart-shaped tag and a bell.
Ren squinted at it.
The cat stared at him.
They looked at each other for a while.
Eventually, the cat opened its mouth to speak in a very familiar voice.
“Well!? Aren’t you surprised to see a cat here!? Where’s your reaction, Mr. Voice of the People!?”
I knew it.
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