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Who Says I Need To Like You

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One day Kengo met an idiot who nosed his way into his business despite having no place there. A complete moron who jumped off a bridge for a useless letter from someone he’s never even met before. From gelled hair to flame-embossed bag, Kengo knew an idiot when he saw one.

(In future he will reflect that there are better ways to meet the love of your life.)

 

+++

 

Because Kisaragi Gentaro is the definition of idiot it surprises only Ryuusei when he befriends the local yazuka. Kengo has by this point resigned himself to a life where friends follow Gentaro around like lost puppies and the idiot himself thinks all is right with the world so long as said friends are happy. If Kengo weren’t half in love with him by the time they left high school he would’ve dismissed the warm feeling that that gave him as heartburn. As it is, whenever they have one of their big fights- always about laundry, occasionally about the future but Kengo doesn’t like to think of those fights- Kengo still pretends he can’t really love such a slob and it must be an advanced neurological disorder that makes him want to hold on tight to Gentaro’s hand and never let go.

Gentaro is incapable of picking up after himself, organising things, or putting things away. Allowing him into Kengo’s carefully laid out space is like letting a whirling dervish loose. If there’s a switch he’ll press it- and wasn’t that an interesting combination with the Flower Switch, which Gentaro made him swear never to bring up again- and if it says ‘Do Not Touch’ he seems irresistibly attracted to it. After more than ten minutes with a bored Gentaro, Kengo is more than happy to send him off to annoy someone else; the only time Kengo’s happy he has so many friends to choose from.

 

+++

 

 “-but how was I supposed to know about some British invasion? I thought we were in English not History,” Gentaro complained, walking backwards through the door to Rabbit Hutch and spinning round dramatically. “I mean- Shun!”

There was a small sound of smacking lips as Shun broke his embrace.

“Huh? Gentaro?”

A hand reached up and punched Shun in the arm.

Miu?” Gentaro pointed at them. “Shun with Miu? Miu with Shun in Rabbit Hutch- is this a club activity?”

“They were kissing, idiot,” Kengo said, setting his suitcase down.

“Kissing?”

“It doesn’t mean anything!” Miu yelled at Shun, stalking towards the door. “I’m still not going to go out with you again!”

Kengo was suddenly grateful automatic doors couldn’t be slammed.

“How did this happen?” Gentaro cried, “In Rabbit Hutch, too? We’re on the moon! Who does-“

He trailed off apparently finally lost for words and Kengo went back to his homework. He’d end up filling in the answers on Gentaro’s sheet later so it was worth a quick revision to keep him above failing.

“-That!”

Kengo rolled his eyes.

“You keep supporting Daimonji-senpai in his ridiculous attempts to win Kazashiro-senpai back,” Kengo pointed out when Gentaro paused in his third horrified retelling. “What did you expect to happen?”

“Springtime of love! A bond to bring them together! Sharing a slice of cake and talking about their feelings!” Gentaro shouted in Kengo’s ear. Kengo winced and covered it with his hand but didn’t move away, purely because there was no reason for him to move. He was here first after all.

“Daimonji-senpai does that with the rest of the Kamen Rider Club anyway.”

“But, Kengo!”

 

+++

 

The first time Kengo tried to ride a motorbike he stalled, hit the garage door and had the bike fall on top of him. The second him he opened the garage door first and got a whole metre out before forgetting where the foot break was and knocking the bike over on top of himself. After that he started practising at the dirt track. The rough conditions weren’t the best for learning but there was a considerable dearth of obstacles and less chance of anyone seeing him fail.

 

+++

 

The Kamen Rider Club had an unfortunate tendency to fall hopelessly in love with Kisaragi Gentaro but Kengo refused to be just another idiot.

Arguably it started with Yuki. She knew Gentaro first, knew him longest, and had so clearly been in love with him for years it made Kengo wince to watch every time she got jealous and worried over her place in Kisaragi’s affections whenever he met a girl. Her arguments with Kazashiro-senpai were troublesome and if it wouldn’t make both girls slap him Kengo would lock them both of out Rabbit Hutch until they could interact without the underlying jealousy.

Kazashiro-senpai was the obvious one. Really, who’d want an idiot like Gentaro when they had Daimonji-senpai falling over himself to ask them out? Kengo was surrounded by idiots. Gentaro had to be the source of it all; no-one was quite this ridiculous before he arrived.

 

+++

 

“We’re going back to my apartment,” Kengo insisted again. This time however he pulled himself away from Gentaro and began walking off.

“Kengo? Kengo, wait!”

“We’re going back to my apartment!” Kengo called back, steaming on ahead through the passage back to Earth. “Where there are no club members liable to walk in on us, a working lock on the door, and no neighbours to complain!”

Gentaro didn’t pause in his pursuit of Kengo, but did reach out to try and capture his hand, smiling happily to himself.

“And if you so much as try to touch me while we’re on the moon I’ll lock you out of my apartment and spend the evening doing homework instead.”

“But, Kengo,” Gentaro protested, “Friends touch all the time and we’re friends. The others wouldn’t mind if they saw.”

“Are you an idiot?” Kengo pulled a face at him and forced open the locker door. “We’re going home.”

Gentaro would’ve protested further but Kengo’s shoulder bumped affectionately against his and it somehow made his mouth dry and his mind blank.

Instead he bumped back and they walked home bickering contentedly.

 

+++

 

It took Utahoshi Kengo longer than he liked to admit, even to himself, to realise Kisaragi really wasn’t an idiot. He was foolish and he meddled constantly as if the private lives of everybody he met were somehow his business, but when it came to the things that mattered Gentaro wasn’t the idiot Kengo always called him. He knew things instinctively that Kengo had to spent months working out, he could turn an enemy, a traitor, into a friend simply by seeing the parts of themselves they tried to hide and accepting them, even as he changed them for the better. Changed him for the better.

 

+++

 

Miu knew herself rather well, she was no stranger to ignoring parts of her personality that didn’t fit with her image but she wasn’t one for prolonged denial. Miu loved Gentaro with the strange power of a love that hadn’t simply happened; as queen she was the natural choice for Daimonji as king, and any feelings had come along later after a pattern of familiarity had already presented itself. But Gentaro had seen the real her, the effort she made to be the best. She loved him because he noticed how hard she worked.

But even then it was Kengo who saw to the heart of things. Although everyone came to realise her incredible work ethic, no-one thought to ask her what it was all for. Did they think she was going to spend her life having been the queen of Amanogawa High School, that a position of popularity was the height she aspired to? Despite going to university no-one, not even Shun, had asked her what she wanted to be. And Miu had resigned herself to having friends but still not having a special someone to see beneath the surface.

Until the day a complete set of law texts books, straight off her course list, appeared in Rabbit Hutch. Miu was the first to arrive; Shun enjoyed sleeping in of a weekend and everyone else was off presumably doing the same, apart from Yuki who made a weekly pilgrimage to the space museum with Gentaro, and as she walked in there was an innocent-looking stack of thick texts books lying on the table. Miu couldn’t help running her fingers over them, cracking open the domestic law history book on the top and avidly devouring the words.

“You can keep them here.”

Miu spun round exclaiming, “Kengo! You startled me, what are you doing here so early?”

“I couldn’t sleep.”

“Another headache? Kengo-kun-“

“You don’t have to tell them if you don’t want to,” Kengo ignored her protest. “Just leave them here and use them to study.”

“Kengo-kun-“

“Let me know when Kisaragi arrives, there’s three new switches ready for testing today.”

Miu smiled and nodded. Maybe what Gentaro really needed was Kengo-kun there to pick up on the details. She walked over and placed a hand on Kengo’s shoulder.

“Thank you, Kengo-kun,” Miu told him, and kissed him on the cheek.

If Yuki and Gentaro hadn’t shown up then with Shun in tow who knows what Kengo’s reaction would have been, but all he did was turn red and go back to his computer.

 

+++

 

Kengo had absolute faith in Gentaro. He just wasn’t willing to admit that anywhere someone might hear.

 

+++

 

Kengo didn’t share well. If Kisaragi was going to be his friend, and he apparently couldn’t do a single thing to stop him so he might as well give in gracefully, then he should damn well be his friend and cut down on running off with every idiot that turned him down.

Kengo wondered why Yuki didn’t get jealous and then remembered her first love was space. And then there was the horrifying incident involving Rabbit Hutch and a model of Hayabusa-kun (that vibrates. Kengo knew this because he installed the starter motor for it and now wished he’d questioned that feature more) and the far porthole he now couldn’t go near without blushing, that Kengo had tried valiantly to forget, but that was neither here nor there.

Before he might have been the same, loving space and the legacy his father left him more than anything, but then he’d never had a friend like Kisaragi Gentaro. A friend who was currently trying to write his name on the surface of the moon large enough that he could see it with a telescope back down on Earth.

“I can’t believe I let you out in public with weaponry,” Kengo sighed. If by this point it was more fondly resigned than cutting then it was no-one’s business but his.

 

+++

 

While everyone else was busy worrying about exams Daimonji Shun learnt to have a healthy distrust of teachers because you never know when they might be monsters, that even an idiot can save the day if he has enough friends, and that the moon could be the perfect make out spot.

Unlike the others that last one had nothing to do with Kisaragi Gentaro, no matter what Miu tried to insinuate.

 

+++

 

Gentaro got people’s numbers, it was what friends did. Consequently he had numbers of those who tell him to get lost- friends in waiting – as well as actual friends, and the occasional girl who isn’t a friend but more of a girl. He had to upgrade his phone before transferring to Amamogawa because storing over a thousand contacts was slowly killing it.

Even so he didn’t think he’d ever have gotten Kengo’s number if it weren’t for Yuki.

‘Diva’ as a term was probably coined for Kengo. Gentaro wasn’t sure why he even bothered having a conversation with Kengo when he was still annoyed about something; for his efforts all he usually got was a kick out of the door and the noise of it locking behind him.

 

+++

 

Kengo walked through the door with a hand over his eyes. It was a reasonable precautionary measure at this point, if there was a single member of the Kamen Rider Club that hadn’t decided a secret moon base was the perfect place to indulge in romantic entanglements then Kengo was sure it was only a matter of time. Even Oosugi-sensei had been in there the other day rubbing his face up against a photo of Sonoda-sensei. The noise he’d made when he snapped his braces afterwards had haunted Kengo’s nightmares.

“I’m just here to pick up the data files for the latest switches,” he said, hand still covering the most part of his vision as he picked his way over to the computer.

“I-it’s fine,” Sakuta stuttered, “I was just leaving.”

“You don’t have to leave.”

“Nozama?” Kengo couldn’t help himself, his head whipped round to stare at where Nozama had Ryuusei backed against a wall, a gecko skin hanging in his face and a green tinge to his cheeks that clashed horribly with the brown of his uniform.

“She’s trying to curse me,” Ryuusei said, scrabbling for the door.

“A curse of love, Ryuusei-san,” Nozoma told him, a tiny smirk decorating her lips before she leaned in and kissed his cheek.

Huh. Kengo hadn’t seen that one coming.

 

+++

 

Gentaro played rugby. Shun did not approve of the way he kept bringing rugby terms into discussions about the school’s chances at American Football. The one time he tried to prove American Football was the better of the two sports he’d arranged to meet Gentaro on the field at the weekend when extra practises took place.

Gentaro showed up with an entire team of middle-aged deliverymen that looked like they could singlehandedly crush the linemen of any NFL team that made up the local rugby club. It had apparently been the most popular local sport in high schools before Amanogawa High School showed up, powered by the love of all things space and they’d decided to keep up with it despite now having jobs and families.

One of the players, a large gruff man called Tanaka that Shun recalled seeing ordering workers about when Miu had her pool installed, told him, “We’d normally just have a friendly scrum down by the river, but Gorou’s grandson asked us to come along and show you boys a thing or two.”

“Ah,” Shun attempted to look as if this hadn’t been suddenly foisted on him. “We were just running drills.”

“I’ve seen you play,” Tanaka growled. “What you kids need is more power on the line. Get your team together and we’ll teach you how to really push with your hips. Told Gorou’s grandson we’d whip you into shape.”

If Gentaro didn’t go home as black and blue as the rest of them that day, Shun swore he’d tackle him with Powerdizer the next time a Zodiarts attacked.

 

+++

 

“Why is JK the only one of you who doesn’t seem to think Rabbit Hutch is their personal love nest?” Kengo demanded. Yet another instance of walking in on Daimonji and Kazashiro had shortened his temper considerably, and yet he’d never caught JK doing anything more inappropriate than normal. JK’s personality should come with a warning as far as Kengo was concerned.

“Ah, that’s because Kazashiro-senpai is scary and I wouldn’t want to interrupt her,” JK joked.

The look Kengo shot him was unimpressed. The one from Miu was even less so. JK grinned unashamedly at them, twirling a loose hair round his finger, and sensibly making sure he was out of Miu’s reach.

“I go through too many girls to bring them all here,” JK shrugged.  “This is supposed to be a secret base after all”

 

+++

 

Kengo could create the cutest things. Give him a badly drawn design and he would turn it into a can of Coca-Cola that chirrups every time it recognised someone and liked snuggling up to Miu. All the Foodroids acted completely adorable around him, but Kengo never noticed how they would hand him pens or track down stray print-outs of results as they were designed to be helpful. The others found it too cute to tell him in case he reprogrammed them.

 

+++

 

Sometimes Gentaro got the feeling Kengo had analysed his every move and already planned how their conversations would go. The bored expression on Kengo’s face during their conversations surely had to mean he’d already worked out how the whole thing is going to go and now he was just acting it out! Kengo was always so mean to him.

“If you didn’t want to talk to me you should’ve just said,” Gentaro groused. “I know you already know this.”

“What are you on about, idiot? Everybody knows. I was there,” Kengo returned, rolling his eyes.

“But you know it more than normal people know because you know what I’m going to say because you know!”

Kengo stopped walking at that and stood there with an incredulous expression on his face.

“Every time I think you can’t get any stupider you surprise me. Would anyone understand that sentence?”

The resulting argument made Gentaro feel much better. Even if Kengo did plan everything ahead he seemed to have more life when they were bickering. Fights were the food of friendship! He did a fist pump at that and manfully ignored Kengo’s scoff as he waded back into their argument.

 

+++

 

It took Kengo the better part of a month to realise he no longer had blinding headaches and could therefore join any sporting team he liked. Intellectually he’d known from the start, but it hadn’t sunk in until the day before when Yuki had dragged them all out to the amusement part and he’d spent all day running ragged trying to keep up with her and Gentaro as they had raptures over everything but the haunted house. Nozama had pulled Ryuusei inside despite his protests and, from the screaming they’d heard, proceeded to scare the workers half to death.

He joined the track team again, figuring knowing the biology behind the events would help him perform them himself instead of just advising. For once Kengo couldn’t be more wrong and the first practise the Kamen Rider Club show up to watch he fell over two hurdles, almost hit the captain with a javelin and is reminded endlessly that all his data on athletic prowess has come from people with significantly different body types and skills than him.

Gentaro clapped him on the shoulder after the practise finally ended and told him that if he wants to be good at this then he should keep trying. Kengo almost feels touched until he ruined it by saying that not everybody is meant to play sport.

Kengo refused to walk home with him and signed up for the tennis club the next day just to spite him.

(He was no better at that either, but Gentaro refrained from pointing it out.)

 

+++

 

“We never did get to make out in Rabbit Hutch,” Gentaro pouted. “Everyone else got a chance.”

“At least I didn’t give up the lease on my apartment when I was leaving, or you’d have nowhere to be making those ridiculous statements,” Kengo said, throwing Gentaro’s shirt at his head and clambering over him to get to the kitchen.

“That’s because you knew we’d need somewhere for the Kamen Rider Club to meet. And maybe part of you thought you’d be back someday?”

Kengo froze. No-one had talked about his situation or his miraculous revival since the club meeting they’d had celebrating it. Kazashiro-senpai had even had a cake made, although with her pastry chef on speed dial that was far from unusual. There had been hugging, JK and Daimonji-senpai both crying in the corner, and not a single one of them had mentioned the words Cosmic Child or Presenter.

Kengo had thought they were all as anxious to pretend he was as human as the rest of them and ignore the fact that he was even more of an alien presence than the Zodiarts. At least they started out as people; he started out as a switch.

 

+++

 

No-one asks Gentaro but if they did he’d tell them that he liked Kengo from the first time he called out his name and Kengo didn’t yell ‘Don’t say my name so casually!’ at him.