Rated: Fiction K - English - Friendship/Romance - Words: 2,721 - Status: Complete
Also available at AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/works/1116933/chapters/2249768
Author's Note: The characters of Kamen Rider Gaim do not belong to me, but to their respective creators. Might deviate from canon as the series progresses. Spoilers for the entire series up to Episode 12. Enjoy~
Hideyasu told everyone and anyone who would listen to him that he didn’t care for Hase-chan, and that he was only with the Raid Wild leader because he had what Hideyasu needed in his climb to the top; his own heart, however, was apparently one of those who wouldn’t listen, pounding anxiously in his chest as he sat by the hospital bed waiting for Hase-chan to please wake up.
As Jounouchi leaned into him to wipe away the cream that lingered on the corner of his mouth – ‘Mou, Hase-chan, you’re such a messy eater.’ – all Ryouji could think about was the Invitto leader’s breath against his lips, and wonder if Jounouchi would taste like the strawberry parfait he had just eaten.
Contrary to popular belief, Jounouchi Hideyasu had indeed formed Team Invitto as a dance team – by the time their reputation had snowballed to what it was, Jounouchi was known more for his control of Inves and his games of manipulation and deceit rather than his dancing – and as Ryouji watched him flow to the rhythm of the music – loose-limbed, graceful and relaxed in the way that he never was in fights – he couldn’t help but think that the Invitto leader was absolutely beautiful with that carefree smile on his face.
‘I can walk, Hase-chan, stop carrying me around; I am not a damsel in distress.’
When news of their betrayal spread, Ryouji knew that it was only a matter of time before other teams walked out on their alliance with Team Baron because Kaito – as strong and feared as he was – was not Jounouchi; the Invitto leader was ambitious and ruthless, and had no qualms about using people for his goals, but he also understood the need for mutual reliance – using the strength of others to make up for his own weakness, using his strength to compensate for the weakness of others – and the importance of having equal opportunities for all parties involved – an alliance worked best when everyone had something they wanted, and it could only be given to them by the person they allied themselves with; that was why Ryouji knew that as long as they both benefited from the partnership, Jounouchi was the best partner he could have.
Not many people knew, but Hase was actually a friend of Kouta’s – they had attended the same schools, had hung out with each other before the Yggdrasill Corporation had taken over and changed everything, and even after that, still called each other up with the occasional Inves battle challenge – so he was understandably concerned when Jounouchi entered the picture, especially when he spotted Hase sporting something pink – something that looked suspiciously like the Invitto leader’s scarf – peeking out just above the edges of his shirt collar; the Hase he knew would’ve killed himself before he ever wore pink, and Kouta didn’t really want to know about what Jounouchi had said – or, even worse, what Jounouchi had done – to convince the Raid Wild leader otherwise.
Hideyasu had learnt from a very young age that everyone always wanted something from him and when he couldn’t give it to them, they left – when he was no longer the cute doll his mother could play dress up with, she decided that travelling was more fun than the mundaneness of raising him and his father was much too busy for a son who had no interest in taking over the family business – so Hideyasu always talked in trade and bargain – a tit for a tat, an exchange of mutual benefits – and that was why he always had a reason – a new piece of information, a new tactic, a new Lock Seed – for Hase-chan whenever it was time for their meeting because if Hideyasu had nothing for him, Hase-chan would be gone; after all, Hase-chan really had no reason to hang out with him.
Unlike Ryouji who shoveled the his parfait into his mouth, Jounouchi tended to eat more slowly and delicately – though, in Jounouchi’s opinion, the way he ate his parfait was normal and it was Ryouji who clearly needed lessons in table manners – and sometimes, it made Ryouji want to snatch away the other leader’s ice-cream and devour it himself, especially on the really hot days when Jounouchi had to swirl his tongue around his spoon to catch the rapidly melting ice-cream, which made a different kind of heat pool in Ryouji’s gut.
Their challenger had been defeated so soundly that even Ryouji was stunned, and as he caught Jounouchi’s eye – it was his advice that Ryouji had been following – he could see the other leader’s smugness written all over his triumphant smirk – ‘I told you we’d make a great team,’ Jounouchi mouthed, and for the first time, Ryouji truly believed; Invitto, Jounouchi had once told him, was Italian for ‘invincible’ – ‘Not just becoming stronger,’ Jounouchi had said, mesmerizing Ryouji with the hard glitter in his eyes, ‘but rising to the very top, becoming the very best, unstoppable, undefeated, invincible.’ – and for the first time, Ryouji hungered for it – with Jounouchi, he could not only become stronger, he could become invincible.
Hideyasu had learnt very early on that he should never walk into an Inves battle with loose change in his pockets if he wanted to keep his money; Hase-chan had a penchant for grabbing him and swinging him around in their combo attacks, and it simply wasn’t worth the amount he lost even if the Inves had gotten distracted by the jingling of the coins rolling on the ground, which had given him and Hase-chan the split second advantage.
Beat Rider Teams never formed alliances or partnerships because, in the end, there could only be one winner; Hideyasu was different – he had scoffed at them because sure they were friends, but they were still adversaries, and it was stupid to pretend otherwise – until he stood opposite Hase-chan in a knockout round and realized too late how deep he had gotten.
The members of Team Invitto stared at their leader, completely gob-smacked, as he entered their team hideout before their expressions melted into varying degrees of mischievous glee; much to Hideyasu’s immense annoyance, none of them believed a single word of his explanation when he said, ‘I coerced Hase-chan into lending me his jacket because it was his fault I got soaked to the skin, and it was freezing outside.’
‘Stop mooning over him like a love-sick puppy and ask him out already.’
Hideyasu was pulled from his dark thoughts when a parfait was pushed under his nose – banana and chocolate topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream – and even as he turned to Hase-chan questioningly – ‘I didn’t order this.’ – the Raid Wild leader just shrugged – ‘You looked like you needed it.’ – before unceremoniously digging into his own delicious dessert; banana and chocolate with added whipped cream – this was the parfait that Hideyasu often ordered when he felt upset and simply wanted to indulge himself, and clearly, he wasn’t the only one who had been taking notes during their meetings.
Everyone saw them, but nobody looked twice – here in the amusement park, both plucking at the humongous cotton candy the bespectacled young man held in his hand, both laughing as he tried to catch the popcorn that his partner tossed at him, they were an ordinary sight; they were not Jounouchi Hideyasu, leader of Team Invitto and Hase Ryouji, leader of Team Raid Wild – with people watching, whispering and wondering at why they were together and what their next move would be – they were not Armoured Rider Gridon and Armoured Rider Kurokage – where their mere presence would catch the eye of everyone within a ten meter radius and prompt a crowd to form in anticipation of the start of an Inves Game – here in the amusement park, they were just two ordinary young men caught between the playfulness of youth and the responsibilities of adulthood, two ordinary friends hanging out and having fun.
Like every parent out there, Hase Michiko worried about her son – while her other two kids were building families and careers, her youngest had always been less focused and less ambitious than his brother and sister – and it didn’t help that Ryouji, unlike most young men his age, was more interested in playing those childish games rather than getting together with a nice girl; then, she had secretly attended one of his battles and watched as even as he celebrated his victory with his teammates – it made her heart swell with pride to watch her Ryou-chan surrounded by his friends, all cheering him on and laughing with him – Ryouji’s eyes never left a figure that stood at the edge of the crowd, his eyes lingering even as the person walked away without so much as a backward glance – from her vantage point, Michiko could see that it was a young man who stuck out like a sore thumb because he was dressed so completely differently from everyone else at the battle – and it was then that Michiko knew: her Ryou-chan would never be interested in a nice girl, and well, at least she had her other two kids to give her grandchildren.
Ryouji found it questionable as to whether Jounouchi actually needed his glasses – the one time Ryouji had stolen them, Jounouchi had nearly walked straight into a ditch, but then there were other times when Ryouji had, on a whim, stuck out his tongue at Jounouchi from a safe distance away and Jounouchi had called him out on it; Hideyasu was not about to tell Hase-chan that while he did actually need his glasses, his sight wasn’t that bad, and it was actually because Hase-chan had looked stunningly suited to his glasses – which the Raid Wild leader had playfully tried on after swiping it from Hideyasu – and that momentary distraction was the real reason Hideyasu had nearly walked into the ditch.
Maki of Team Raid Wild wondered who Ryouji thought he was fooling when he sent them a text message on Christmas Eve telling them that he would be skipping out on their team’s annual Christmas party because he had promised to, and Maki quoted, ‘work a part time job with Jounouchi’, so he was genuinely surprised when he stumbled upon the two leaders dressed as reindeers, holding signs, handing out fliers and looking extremely disgruntled with life in general.
With the tip of the bow pointed at his heart, Hideyasu looked up at Hase-chan, desperately searching his face – the blank mask – for a sign of the Hase-chan he knew – and Hideyasu knew that Hase-chan was in there somewhere because he now held the bow the way Kurokage would hold his spear – the way Hase-chan had held his spear – when he was ready to deliver the final blow; it was ironic that, of all people, it was Hideyasu who was trying to convince the Raid Wild leader to discard the Sigurd Armour, trying to convince him not to throw away everything else he treasured – his beliefs, his identity, his friends – simply because he wanted to come out on top.
Most Beat Riders became Beat Riders because they held a grudge against the Yggdrasill Corporation – the loss of a family, the loss of freedom, the loss of life in general – and so it wasn’t a surprise that they wished turn back time; Ryouji, however, wasn’t one of them because if it weren’t for the Yggdrasill Corporation, Beat Rider Teams and Inves Games, he would never have met Jounouchi.
Everything he had worked for had unraveled before his very eyes – his Belt, his stage, his team, Jounouchi – and Ryouji could barely comprehend how he had lost everything – a single moment of recklessness, a single blow, everything, he had lost everything – and there was nothing he could do to get them back; even as the music blared – music, once inviting and exciting, now cruel and mocking – and as the sound of dance filled the air – once, it had been his dance, but now, it was Baron’s – all Ryouji could see were Jounouchi’s cold amber eyes – they hadn’t been that cold since the first time they had met – and Jounouchi’s all-knowing smirk – the other leader’s shields were up, up in the way they hadn’t been since they started spending time together, talking over parfaits and suffering through embarrassing part time jobs, and all the progress they had made towards something resembling a friendship had just gone poof in the wind; Ryouji had known Jounouchi, had even begun to befriend the Invitto leader, but the man standing before him was a complete stranger, not the person who he had come to see as his friend, not the partner he was beginning to fall in love with – and Ryouji just came undone.
They had won – barely – but limping through the carnage and charred fields, his entire body screaming with pain and his head aching from a headache because his glasses had cracked and he was seeing everything in double-vision, it felt hollow and nothing like victory; until a familiar pair of arms swept him up into a tight hold and Hideyasu found his nose pressed into blood crusted hair as Hase-chan buried his face in the curve of Hideyasu’s neck.
For a split second, Hideyasu turned away as his resolve wavered – contrary to popular belief, he had actually believed that his partnership with Hase-chan would last because they did have something good going, and he had come to accept Hase-chan for the long-haul when the Raid Wild leader had taken his word over Kaito’s; as much as he tried so hard to deny it, some part of him had trusted Hase-chan in the way that he hadn’t trusted anyone else in the game, which was why he had always included Hase-chan in his schemes even when he hadn’t needed to and why he had stuck it out when Hase-chan had put him through the most ridiculous training routines – but then, Hase-chan had been stupid enough to get his Belt broken – had forced Hideyasu to choose between Hase-chan and his own survival – and he wasn’t about to go up against Team Baron when he knew he would lose – because he wasn’t strong enough on his own; he had needed a partner, had needed Hase-chan – and Hideyasu made his choice; it was time for him to move on.
‘Hase-chan, please tell me you didn’t just xerox 1000 copies of the wrong pamphlets; they’d deduct it from our, already, measly pay!’
Hideyasu was smart and Ryouji was strong, but they weren't considered to be threats; not yet anyway.
Ryouji never saw the point in staying up all night to count down to the new year – after all, it was just another tomorrow like all the other tomorrows he had woken up to, and he liked his sleep – but Jounouchi had insisted and Ryouji decided to humour the Invitto leader who had invited him out to watch the fireworks display; he was utterly glad that he did because even as loud voices screamed “zero”, all he could hear was the pounding of his heart as Jounouchi leaned in to kiss him fully on the lips.
Credits: Ice Chain @ Tumblr