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The Elephant in the Room

Chapter Text

"Jin."

Kuroki had to force himself not to bellow his friend's name, and he only barely kept his temper. It didn't help one bit that Jin strolled in, hardly looking uncomfortable as he made his way past the massive obstruction in the middle of the room, gave a cocky salute, and called out, "Yo, Kurorin."

"Jin," he growled. "What is THAT?"

Almost lazily, Jin looked over his shoulder. "What's what?"

"THAT," Kuroki said, pointing right behind him.

Jin smirked. "It's an elephant in the room. What else would it be?"

Kuroki took a breath, held it for a moment, and reminded himself that strangling Jin would do nothing. The avatar could always re-form. And if it DID do anything, it would be bad for Jin's real body.

"Tell me it's a realistic-looking Buddyroid."

"'Fraid not," Jin said, frowning. "Real and living. Though I wouldn't mind giving her a name like them. Kurozou Peanut, you think?"

"JIN!" This time, it was a bellow. At least Jin had the decency to stop trolling. "Why is there an elephant in the Command Center?"

Jin put on his best innocent expression. "Kurorin, is this all I mean to you? All those years of friendship? There's an elephant in the room, and it's automatically my fault—how can you think like that?"

"Because it usually IS."

Jin grimaced slightly. "You've got a point there."

Kuroki glared, holding off the urge to go straight for the aspirin...or the liquor cabinet. Finally, as he'd hoped, Jin caved.

"All right, all right," he admitted. "I know how it got here, but it's not my fault."

This was believable. Jin was a magnet for trouble—sometimes it just fell into his lap when he hadn't done anything. Sighing, Kuroki asked, "What happened?"

"You might need a drink for this one."

Kuroki couldn't help but groan loudly, which only led to Peanut the elephant trumpeting. To Kuroki's immense relief, Jin only gave the elephant a comforting pat before making his way to the locked cabinet where Kuroki had hidden the emergency stash of alcohol—for use when chickens, overheating, sugar crashes, or Jin and J had gotten to be too much for him. Jin grabbed the bottle of whiskey and poured more than the recommended amount—this was going to be a painful story.

"Here you go," he said, setting the overly full glass down in front of him. Kuroki knew he had to take a drink first before Jin said anything.

"What happened?" Kuroki asked again.

Jin stood at Nakamura's desk and started playing with one of her stuffed animals. "Well, you know the Kamen Riders?"

Kuroki took another drink. "Yes. We've got a whole file on them after the fiasco with Decade and Gokai Red."

"Missed that one," Jin admitted.

"Lucky you," Kuroki muttered.

Jin realized that his patience was running thin and added, "So there was a small incident involving three of them. Ryuki, OOO, and Den-O were sent back to the Edo Period."

That was messy enough to consider. From their file—not to mention the huge stack of migraines the Timerangers had slapped on his desk warning, "You're going to need this one day."—Den-O alone was the most troublesome Rider of them all, and Ryuki was no slouch either. "How does that explain the elephant, though?"

"I was getting to that part," Jin said.

There was an unusually tired look on Jin's face. Kuroki took one look at his glass and offered it to Jin. Even though he knew the alcohol wouldn't do anything to his avatar, Jin took a gulp.

"So. The whole thing started when Ryuki and Knight were fighting Odin..."