WARNING: SPOILER ALERT! You don't need to be caught up completely, just past the 27-28 episode mark. NO definite date for when this is set, but definitely after 27-28, but before the finale. AU.

I have another one-shot that explains Shinonome's past more.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Kamen Rider franchise or Kamen Rider Gaim! The only thing I do own is Shinonome.

The apartment door opened quietly, and then just as quietly closed a few seconds later. Nevertheless, it caught the attention of the only person currently in the apartment. Kouta hurriedly slipped his orange Lockseed into the pocket on his hoodie and turned around to see Takatora straightening up, his shoes set by Kouta's own. Their eyes met, and Takatora froze. Kouta looked away, and stepped out onto the balcony, closing the door behind him. He sighed, and leaned up against the railing. He'd done it again. Why couldn't he just man up and talk to the guy?

"He believed that Sengoku Ryouma was his friend, then got stabbed in the back by that same 'friend.' Then his brother, the little brother he's supposed to be protecting, the little brother he begged to help save humanity, goes and does the same thing. He's hurting just like you, and he needs to vent. He knows me, so he knows all my tricks, so he won't talk to me. So I want you to try." Shinonome's words echoed in his head. But how could he help him if he couldn't even stand to be in the same room as the man? He looked out over the silent city, imagining what it would be like if Helheim didn't exist. A buzz from his hip pocket jerked him back to reality. Pulling out his phone, he saw that Shinonome had sent him a text.

Sometimes, what's most needed is being, not saying.

"What's that supposed to mean?" he muttered, shoving his phone back in his pocket. What did being and saying have to do with anything? He roughly combed his fingers through his hair, wincing as he pressed a bruise on his forehead from an Inves battle earlier. Sometimes he wished he could just be...

Kouta stiffened. Sometimes, what's most needed is being, not saying. He slowly got up, took a deep breath, and then headed back inside.

Takatora was sitting at the table, a glass full of water in front of him, and his head in his hands. He looked up when Kouta re-entered, then looked away. Kouta grabbed his own glass from the table, refilled it, and sat down on Takatora's right. He took a few sips, keeping his eyes fixed on his hands. The silence lasted for a good half an hour, before Kouta's phone buzzed again.

I'm thinking about inviting Akira over for dinner. Is that a good idea, or not? S.

Should be OK, he sent back. Just don't expect to have her tonight. Try for sometime next week.

Will do. He still there?

Yeah. Haven't talked to him yet. Thanks for earlier, by the way.

My pleasure. There's makizushi in the fridge. If you start eating, so will he.

Thanks. He got up and found a plate, then returned to the table with the makizushi. Placing it well within reach for both of them, he picked up a piece and popped it in his mouth. When Takatora's hand absently reached out and plucked a piece from the plate, Kouta hid his grin by raising his glass to his lips and taking a sip. Three more pieces disappeared in quick succession.

"I can't help but wonder where I went wrong." The words were so quiet Kouta almost missed them. "Was I too cold? Too distant? Was there something I could've done to prevent it? Or was it inevitable that he-that they…" Takatora trailed off and pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes, releasing a harsh breath. "I should have seen it coming."

"Really?" Out of the corner of his eye, Kouta saw Takatora look at him. "Your closest friend, the man who was helping you to better humanity, who had been there for you since the beginning, who had given his time and efforts to help you, you should have suspected him of betrayal? Your little brother who looked up to you, who came running to you if he had a nightmare, who trusted you to scare away all of the monsters in his room, who could smile so happily because of you and everything was suddenly alright, you should have suspected him of wanting to take your place? Could you really have imagined how they would eventually turn again you?"

Silence fell once again, broken only when Kouta got up and refilled their glasses. Takatora didn't say anything more, just sat and stared away into space. Kouta finally put the plate on the counter then walked into the living room and flopped down onto the couch. He pulled out his orange Lockseed and held it up in the air. He thought once again of the dark look in Micchi's eyes and tightened his grip, his knuckles whitening. Something moved on the edge of his vision, and the couch sank down next to his head. Tilting his head back, he saw Takatora, and sat up. He rested his forearms on his knees, keeping his Lockseed in his hands.

"Tell me about Micchi," Takatora said quietly, momentarily hesitating on the unfamiliar name. "Tell me about the Micchi you knew, the Micchi you danced with, the Micchi that was your friend."

"There's not much point now," Kouta muttered. "I'm not even sure that Micchi still exists."


Kouta sighed, and ran his fingers through his hair. "Sure." He sat back, looked at his Lockseed once more, clipped it back onto the carabineer, and began to talk.

The bit about the Kureshima siblings' past was inspired by the fic "It's been a long year (or few)" by Lady Perditus. This can be read independently from my other Gaim one-shot, "The Evening After," but it is set in the same universe.

3/29: Changed "Kota" to "Kouta." I'm trying to be consistent.