By the hands of the Gods, you have been plucked from your time and from your world, dropped into the box.
Only the box is a world of its own.
We are a mass crossover based on the concept of Pandora's Box. Characters from nearly any fandom can be played here. Because of the endless character possibilities, we are canon only here at Pandora. Take a peek at our rules and plot information before starting your new life in Pandora.
He was going to be fine. Despite being right next to the bomb when it exploded, the only thing that happened to him was that he hit his head and breathed in a lot of smoke. He'd still need to rest for a good while, but he wouldn't need to stay in a hospital for much longer. The doctors were really just monitoring him to make sure nothing would get worse, but Ryuji was pretty sure he was going to be fine.
Futaba though... she got it a lot worse. Ryuji couldn't help but think that he could've prevented it if he'd just found the bomb a little sooner. Maybe then she'd be able to get out of the range of the explosion, or at least not get as injured as she did. He knew that it was just dumb luck that he even found the bomb to begin with but still, one of his friends got seriously hurt and there was nothing he could do about it.
Ryuji sighed as he sat on his bed. He was in a good enough shape that he could walk around if he wanted to, but it wasn't like there was anything for him to do. He couldn't do any exercise without a nurse yelling at him. There weren't any fun games to play at the hospital, nor anything good on TV. He was glad that at least he wasn't in pain or struggling to move like last time he'd been in a hospital, but this was still really boring.
Ah well, his friends should start showing up any second now.
Fucking shit in a goddamn handbasket, Qrow was tired of explosions.
Yesterday was just...fucking...well, he was glad everyone was mostly okay. Got to watch Kakashi get literally blown out of the window of his own damned shop, as his entire life went up in fucking flames. James got the damned PDF dropped on him. And Qrow...well, he was left somewhere in the center of this shit storm, trying to put together the pieces and make sure everyone he cared about was still breathing.
He ended up in an ARMOUR safe house on the edge of town with Kakashi - following news reports on what else got hit. His kid was okay, at least. As were her friends. When other reports came in about the explosions though, a familiar name popped up.
The fucking kid.
So he drove his ass to Ark City, once he cleared with Kakashi that it'd be fine to head out without risk of shit going sideways. Managed to track him down to the hospital. Qrow...hated hospitals, but just...needed to see if the kid was alright. He barely knew him, but felt responsible for his well-being now that he started training him.
A text probably would have been fine but...fuck it.
Qrow got pointed to the room, with some illegal food hidden in his jacket. He had been in the hospital enough times in his life to know that...it was shit. So he grabbed some beef jerky on his way over. Pretty universal like...hopefully.
Reaching the room, he knocked on the door frame once, before offering a half smile. He probably looked half dead himself with how stressful the past day had been - but fuck it. He wasn't the one in the hospital.
"Hey, kid," he greeted, loitering in the door frame, "Needed to make sure you were in one piece when I heard the news. You in the mood for any company, or should I fuck off?" his tone light, as he hooked his thumb over his shoulder - a smile on his lips.
When the door opened, Ryuji was expecting to see Makoto or Ann, maybe Futaba coming back from whatever it was the doctors were doing to her. Seeing Qrow standing at the doorway really caught him by surprise.
"Huh?" he blinked in confusion. "How did you know I was here?"
Qrow was teaching him about Aura, sure, and also made a sick new weapon for him, but Ryuji didn't think he'd care enough to make a trip over to the hospital just to see him. Did something else happen?
Taking a better look at Qrow, Ryuji soon noticed he wasn't looking all that great himself. Maybe worse than him. "Dude, you look like shit," he bluntly stated, looking a little concerned.
Wasn't surprising that the kid was surprised he was here. Probably was overstepping, but fuck it. Past day had been shit, and he wanted to make sure the kid was good. All he knew was what he heard through Kakashi. It just happened to be chance that his friend was apparently one of Ryuji's.
Funny how that shit worked.
"Your friend Futaba...think that was her name. She knows my boyfriend apparently. They were texting each other when everything went to shit yesterday," he shrugged, leaning on the doorframe.
Then he was told he looked like shit.
Qrow laughed, shaking his head, "Looked in a mirror in awhile, asshole?" he smirked, shoving himself up from leaning on the doorframe - pulling the bag of jerky out of his pocket, before chucking it at the kid, "Glad to see your ass is in one piece. Use your Aura?"
A day later, everything was...still kind of in shambles. She did manage to get some sleep last night, so Makoto wasn't as run down as she'd been before. Missing people were being accounted for, buildings were cleaned up, and plans were put into action. As soon as she left their latest emergency meeting, Makoto grabbed some entertainment for Ryuji and a spare pair of glasses and laptop for Futaba and went to visit them again. She had no idea if Futaba could even use a laptop in her current state, but she might feel better with it anyway.
And she may or may not have smuggled Rai in with a Pokeball. He missed Ryuji too, after all.
"Hey Ryuji, I found the game you wanted to play yesterday-" Makoto opened the door and stopped when she caught sight of someone that definitely wasn't hospital staff. A dark haired, red eyed man that looked like he'd been through a wringer recently too. She didn't recognize him from anywhere, though. "Uh..." She closed the door behind herself. "Am I interrupting something?" Ryuji didn't look stressed out, and this stranger didn't seem like a threat either, leaving her visibly confused.
Futaba knew Qrow's boyfriend? That was... one hell of a coincidence. Not surprising that it was Futaba though. If anyone in the Phantom Thieves would have a bunch of connections scattered around, it'd be either her or Ren.
When Qrow snapped back at him, Ryuji laughed as well. He was in a surprisingly good shape considering what happened, but he didn't look good in a hospital gown. The complete opposite, actually.
He reflexively caught the jerky bag thrown at him and smiled. "Actually--" he began explaining himself, only for Makoto to come in. Now that's someone he was expecting to see. "Hey, Mako-chan!" he greeted her with a smile, almost as if unaware of the awkwardness of the situation.
Ryuji hadn't actually told Makoto anything about the aura training so far, mostly because he wanted to impress her by showing it once he had gotten better at it. He didn't even mention it when she came over last night, so... yeah. There was a lot of explaining he needed to do now.
Once that sank in, Ryuji glanced back and forth between the two other people in the room for a bit before settling on Makoto. "Uh... that there is Qrow," he gestured towards his sort-of-teacher. "He's the one who made my bat, and he's been teaching me some stuff too," he then shifted his focus to Qrow. "That's Makoto, she's my girlfriend, also the police captain around here!" he said, sounding proud.
The hospital wasn't the most comfortable place to be but Futaba was okay with being there- especially since she wasn't really sure where she'd go afterward. Besides, if Ryuji was stuck here it only seemed fair. Hopefully they'd all go home soon and she could figure it out there, outside of the smells and bright fluorescent lights.
They'd put her on painkillers pretty fast and kept her there, so she'd slept most of yesterday, waking up to a cast on her right arm and thick bandages on what was left of her hand, now lacking a ring and pinkie finger and part of the palm. A sprained hip and knee, some bumps and bruises- easily fixed, if a little hurty.
She couldn't really fault them; the docs were doing their best and she was healing way faster than she would have on her own. Rationally, she knew that. But she still didn't like the poking and prodding by strangers, even if she did put up with it. They'd taken her back for some more treatments and x-rays for part of the day, but now that it was almost lunchtime she got a reprieve and taken back to the room so she could eat something.
Ryuji having guests wasn't a surprise, and she glanced over them as the nurse slid her past, taking her to her hospital bed. "Yo, what's up?" she said to them, then squinted in confusion at the stranger. "Is that your doctor?"
Qrow had to admit he was more than a little curious if the kid had actually used his Aura in a dangerous situation. Would show how far he had come, and if his reflexes were working right. Since it was so new, it wouldn't have surprised him if it didn't kick in naturally. Sort of like when Kakashi was trying to teach him Chakra shit, and it ended with him turning into a bird with his Aura up, instead of sticking to the side of the tree.
Before the kid could answer - a girl about Ryuji's age came in. Futaba maybe? Nah, Ryuji called her Mako-chan, after she asked if she was interrupting. The girlfriend.
"Ah, the bisexual girlfriend," he smiled, offering a smile and nod, "Nice to meet ya. Police captain? I used to be a detective. Just...in Pandopolis," he hooked a thumb over his shoulder, as if it was right behind him, "Been showing your boyfriend how to suck less," he shot Ryuji a smirk.
Then another kid was brought in. That one was Futaba, maybe.
Kind of entertaining how this group of friends seemed to greet each other with yo. It was how Ryuji had come into his shop every time without fail.
"Yo," he greeted back, "Not a doctor, just a concerned asshole," he considered saying he knew Kakashi, but knew the guy was careful about his information getting out, "I train this one," he pointed at Ryuji.
Oh, so this was the shop owner. What kind of lessons was Ryuji getting from a man that made weapons, blacksmithing? She had no idea he was interested in crafting. Makoto froze up at Qrow's greeting, her brain taking a moment to process what he was saying. Wait, were they physically training together?
"Yes, I...I am. It's um, nice to meet you, sir." she said, standing up a little straighter. Where did he learn that? Was it somehow obvious just by looking at her? Not that she really...minded, it was just not what she expected to hear. At all. "You've found another partner, huh Ryuji?" Makoto didn't actually mind at all, but it was fun to watch him try to talk his way out of the hole he thought he was in.
A nurse opened the door, and Makoto took up a chair next to Ryuji while they brought Futaba in. She looked much better than yesterday, even if her cast and bandages were a stark reminder of what was underneath them. They had to get to the bottom of this Killing Game before they lost more than fingers and personal belongings.
"Ryuji's weapon seller," Makoto told Futaba with a knowing smile. Not quite the same as an ex-yakuza in a back alley, but still reminiscent of old times. She dropped her bag and unzipped it. "I brought you glasses, by the way." She set them down on the nightstand, along with a laptop. "Try to behave yourself on the internet while you're recovering."
Ryuji glared at Qrow as he started dissing him to Makoto, who was understandably confused about the whole thing. "Don't listen to him, he's just being an ass," he said with clear annoyance in his tone.
Then Futaba came in. It was weird seeing her without glasses on, not to mention the cast and the bandages, but despite all of that she was still acting the same as ever. She was a small and frail looking girl, but she could be surprisingly tough too.
"He's not teachin' me how to fight or anythin' it's just..." he trailed off, scratching his head. "He's prolly better at explainin' it than I am, but he's been teachin' me to use this thing called aura. It's like... a magic shield, sorta, that also makes me stronger and faster. Feels kinda like when we have all those buffs stacked up in the Metaverse, y'know?"
He'd only started learning about it what, two weeks ago? He'd been practicing to keep it going for longer ever since. It was pretty easy to fit that into his usual training and usually left him feeling tired enough that he'd been sleeping earlier than usual.
"I found the bomb in a bag just seconds before it went off. If I didn't get my aura up in time, I'm pretty sure there wouldn't be anythin' left of me," he winced at the thought, feeling a chill going down his spine.
She'd have been really confused if people thought she was 'tough'; to her, this wasn't strength. It didn't feel strong at all, just angry and cautious, with a well of guilt and fear underneath it. The Palace might have been gone but the wrath and tendencies remained.
Makoto and Ryuji's comfortableness eased her paranoia a little and Futaba even managed a smile at the glasses and laptop, reaching over and carefully picking up the spare glasses. "Thank you Makoto," she said in a It wasn't that hard to put them on with a left hand, but her right kept trying to chip in and that took a minute. "No promises." To be honest she wasn't even sure she could open
It was weird how much the glasses helped, like somehow she could even hear and think better once her vision cleared up. They'd been talking about something else when she came in, at least that's what she would have guessed, but now they were introducing this guy, and he kind of introduced himself. Evidently he knew Ryuji, and had something to do with weapons and teaching 'aura'? Whatever that was. "What's your name?" she asked, still staring at him. Maybe she shouldn't have been suspicious. It wasn't like she had any right to be. It was lucky that Ryuji had been taking magic lessons, or he would have gotten blown up in her house and probably died due to helping her.
This was the first time she'd heard what had happened downstairs and she hid a wince and glanced away, lips pressed together as she started to climb clumsily back up into her hospital bed. She wasn't quite sure what to say yet, so it was better to be quiet until the words came.
The look on Mako-Chan's face was enough to make Qrow not regret being an asshole. Ryuji dismissing him as an ass, as the other kid confirmed she was - in fact - the bisexual girlfriend.
"Actually, fighting comes next - once you get the Aura shit down," he rose a brow at the dismissal of teaching the kid how to fight, "Personal shield that makes you faster and stronger. Technically everyone with a soul has one - just a matter of unlocking it," he shrugged - leaning against the walls with his arms crossed in front of his chest.
Qrow smiled as Futaba bluntly asked his name, after Makoto explained who he was, title-wise.
"Qrow. Think ya know a friend of mine, Kakashi," wasn't going to out the full nature of his relationship with the guy - but if Ryuji had two braincells he could probably piece it together.
Then Ryuji actually explained what happened.
Yesterday had...way too many close calls.
Qrow's jaw clenched as his gaze dropped, before he cleared his throat. His fucking training just saved this kid's damned life. Without it, he...really wouldn't have survived that shit.
"I uh...well, glad you had an Aura, kid," exhaustion coming through Qrow's tone, as he shook his head with a sigh.
On instinct, she glanced at Qrow when Ryuji mentioned the Metaverse. Did he know about it, then? Had Ryuji told him already? But this Aura that he was apparently learning...it saved his life. He would've taken a bomb from point blank range. The sheer amount of luck they had was difficult to grasp.
"Thank you...for taking care of Ryuji for us," Makoto said to Qrow, looking him in the eyes. "I have no idea how to repay you"- Something shook inside her bag on the ground, followed by a strange light coming from it. She cursed under her breath and knelt down to stop it from moving. As soon as the nurse left the room, she unzipped the duffel bag. Rai's head popped out, and Makoto picked the short dog up so he could see better. "...I brought Rai, by the way. Surprise?"
Everyone got pretty quiet after hearing what had happened. Not that Ryuji could blame them, it still hadn't fully sunk in how close he was to dying in that moment. If he hadn't found the bomb, he wouldn't even have thought about having his aura up. There was so much that could've gone wrong for him there, but in the end everything lined up in a way that allowed him to get out with just a mild concussion.
If only Futaba had been that lucky.
Makoto was the first to start thanking Qrow, but then something started happening and watching her struggle with her bag was admittedly pretty funny. When she pulled Rai out of that bag, who was looking at him with his usual happy face, completely unaware of everything that happened.
Ryuji smiled wide at the sight of his dog, only now realized how much he wanted to see that fluffy loaf of bread. "You're the best, Mako-chan," he then lifted the bag of jerky Qrow had given him and began waving it. "Hey, boy! I got some jerky!"
He opened the bag and then grabbed one for himself, taking a bite out of it before looking back at Qrow. Funny how the guy who he just happened to meet while looking for a new weapon to defend himself with, turned out to be the only reason why he was still alive right now.
"But yeah, I'm just lucky that I met you when I did. I wouldn't be here now if I hadn't," he spoke in a softer tone than usual, still smiling, but not as wide. "Thanks, man. I really owe you one."
It...was kind of hitting Qrow harder than it should have, really. With all this fucking explosion bullshit, he hadn't been able to do jack shit, outside of just kind of...stand there. Yeah, he put Kakashi back together and got his ass to a safehouse - but thanks to not knowing about it, he hadn't been able to even begin to prevent it. James got hit, and was in rough condition. Kakashi lost everything. But Ryuji...actually was alright, because of what Qrow showed him. Honestly he was used to being more associated with negative bullshit. Generally he saw himself as the worst part of most peoples' lives. After all, he was an unlucky charm. Shit went wrong around him, thanks to his Semblance. That's just how it was.
So when something went...right - he genuinely didn't know how to react.
The weight of what the kid just dropped on them, seemed to shift the entire room. Futaba messing with her phone, as Qrow sort of felt like he got punched in the gut - but in a positive way.
The girlfriend seemed genuinely grateful - Qrow scratching his neck as he casually forgot how eye contact worked, "Nothing to repay. This is Ryuji's skill in action. Yeah, I gave him the tools, but he's the one that pulled up his Aura when he needed it," the arms crossed in front of his chest tightened a bit - as Makoto's bag started...glowing?
Little fucker. Qrow half grateful for the distraction, as Ryuji dug into that bag of smuggled food - taking a bite himself, before offering it to Rai.
"Luck has nothing to do with it," his voice flat, "And you kids seem way too eager to owe me something. As I said, it was all you kid. Probably means we should actually get into using your Aura in a fight, now that it's instinctual. Might not be long until we unlock your Semblance at this rate," a proud smirk on his lips.
Rai wriggled his way out of Makoto's grip and settled on Ryuji's lap, licking at his hand before inspecting the meat. After some intense, excited sniffing, he started to eat. Makoto just hoped he didn't shock the medical equipment.
"Even so, we're used to just relying on people in our...group." It was hard to trust strangers to actually want to help without strings attached after being used by adults not long ago. The world was full of people that would think nothing of taking advantage of you, as much as Makoto tried to think positively. "I don't know what you taught him, but it was still a great help. He needs to learn to defend himself better on the streets." That always did worry her after he was attacked by a gang for interfering with a situation. What if he picked a fight he couldn't get out of?
Ryuji idly pet Rai with one hand as the little guy went through some of the jerky Qrow had gotten him. He missed his dumb dog and having Rai around made him feel like he was at home again, almost. It was hard to forget what happened when it was something they were all still talking about.
At the mention of his Semblance, Ryuji perked up. "For real!?" he asked, starting to get excited. He honestly had no clue what to expect, but learning some kind of special move sounded really cool. "Didn't you say that stuff happened at random?"
Makoto was right that they didn't usually rely on people outside the Phantom Thieves. After everything that they went through, it was kind of hard to. After dealing with assholes like Kamoshida and Shido for a whole year, you kinda started getting suspicious of other people. Even Doc ended up turning against them in the end, though that wasn't because he was a bad person.
"Hey! I can already defend myself just fine!" he argued, raising his voice. Then, he looked back at Qrow. "What can you even teach me anyway? Isn't Aura just a power boost? What else do I have to learn other than keepin' it up?"
Futaba nodded an acknowledgement at the name, then turned her attention to her phone and started to text Kakashi. If this guy said that he knew the older ninja, that was easily confirmed. She felt a little guilty and silly for not trusting someone that her friends seemed to really like, even Makoto who had just met him, but she couldn't help it. Someone snuck a bomb into her house; they'd have to break in to do that, and to have a bomb at their disposal. Who better than someone that one of her friends trusted and knew how to construct weapons?
It took a lot of effort and concentration to text but it was still way easier than yesterday. Luckily, she got through, and talking to Kakashi did help. He didn't seem to give out praise easily, and if he called this guy a good person, and even recommended him as a teacher, then that was a positive sign. Some of the tension eased, brow unfurrowing a little and she exhaled carefully. While she was in this process, best to message a few other people- Ren, Rise, Lelouch, a few others she knew might be part of the game. i'm alive, are you?
The conversation came to her in bits and pieces as she'd messaged, the gist of it pretty clear nonetheless. Everyone was right. If not for Qrow, things would be worse. Luckily, Ryuji had met him before all of this and not afterward, whether Birdman liked the idea of luck or not. She didn't put her phone down or anything, but she did look back their way, glancing between all of them for a moment before she finally spoke. "Looking better, Ryuji," she said first, now that she could actually see well enough to make that assertion. Then she looked to Qrow. "Should take a compliment. You did a good thing, and taught Ryuji well, so." A shrug followed that, and an uncomfortable settling of her shoulders as she went quiet.
Awkwardly pulling her laptop onto the bed as well, she tried to open the latch, then winced and gave up for the moment before turning to Makoto. "Are Smush and Pi okay?"
The kids had trust issues too. That was...unfortunate to hear. Meant that they had been fucked over by others enough, they knew it was safest just to stick to each other, rather than reach out. Considering they were a bunch of kids, and what Ryuji mentioned about his father...yeah, he was glad he was standing where he was standing.
"At random...mostly. Typically it's when you have a better handle on your Aura, that it naturally comes out," Qrow explained with a motion of his hand.
Makoto admitted she didn't really have a handle on what Aura actually was, before Ryuji defended his ability to fight.
"Kid, I don't doubt you can hold your own...but there's a difference between knowing how to swing a baseball bat at enemies, and how to actually fight. But if you can beat me in a spar...sure, yeah, you know how to fight," a smile on his lips, before he tilted his head, "You feeling up for a demonstration on Auras Ryuji?" he asked, with a quiet laugh, "Why don't you show Makoto and Futaba how it works, by taking a swing at me?"
He glanced over his shoulder to make sure no nurses were coming.
Probably would look concerning to well...anybody who wasn't in the room and had context.
Comment about him just taking the compliment caught him more off-guard than any sucker punch could, "I uh...thanks, kid. Gotta admit, I'm not great at taking a compliment."
Ryuji always insisted he could handle himself, but Makoto knew there were people out there that could wipe the floor with their entire group in a regular fight. She just wanted him to have as many tools as possible at his disposal, whether it be aura or semblances or Personas.
"They're adjusting, see?" Makoto pulled up a photo on her phone and set it on the nightstand next to Futaba. It was an image of Pi on Makoto's bed, watching Rai struggle to jump up. There was conspicuously 2 stuffed pandas on the bed too, and one had a Ditto's smile. "I brought Rai here partially to give them all a break."
And Qrow wanted to demonstrate the power of Aura...by getting punched? Makoto wasn't against the concept of a physical showing, but was it safe?
"So aura just blocks attacks? Is that it?" Like a magic shield you could summon.