We're Just Friends and I'm Okay With That (Seriously)
A Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS one-shot
Summary: What could Takeru be possibly doing that he has to be so secretive and not tell his childhood friend Kiku? Kiku's about to find out. Pre-VRAINS 120 Timeskip.
Ishimoto Residence, Shirakawa
Kiku knew he wasn't ignoring her. She'd never been more certain in her life. After all, with the way he practically hug attacked her when he came back home after being in the city all his time, ignoring her was out of the question. But, it still didn't make sense. The two of them always walked back from school together, starting from when they were just little kids in elementary school—and when he decided to go to school. There were three times total when they hadn't: one, when Takeru had been missing for six months; two, when Takeru decided to leave for the city because of who knows what for a few months; and three, the past month.
Of course, Kiku had already asked Takeru about it—several times. Why did he suddenly dash off in the other direction as soon as school ended? Each time, though, he'd just laugh that stupid, lovable, infectious laugh and said he'd explain later. She'd be extremely annoyed that he kept pushing off the answer, but she just couldn't bring herself to fully indulge that feeling. It wouldn't have been worth it, since she had no idea if Takeru was ever going to suddenly disappear for several months again.
But, darn it, if the suspense wasn't killing her!
One day, after Takeru yet again decided not to walk home with her, she confided in her friend Hana-chan. She had decided to swing by her house to do homework as well as discuss her latest Takeru troubles.
"I just don't get him," Kiku sighed as Hana continued to slowly French braid her hair. "He comes back all excited to see me. Then he just decides to not walk home with me anymore. Can he just make up his mind? 'I'll explain later?' It's been a freakin' month!"
Hana sighed in understanding, finishing the last of the braid. "Are you sure he's just not getting into fights again?"
Smoothing her hair, Kiku laughed. "Please. Takeru as he is now? An overgrown horsefly could probably beat him up, so I'm definitely sure of that. And Homura jii-san and Homura baa-san haven't seen any fight injuries on him lately."
"Have you asked them what the deal with Homura is? Maybe they'd know."
Sighing, Kiku laid flat on her stomach, staring at her math homework. At least these problems were ones she could figure out. "They were the first ones I asked. Unfortunately, they don't have a clue what's going on either."
Hana also laid on her stomach right in front of Kiku and pulled out the bright green math book. "Nothing we can do for now. Let's focus on the problems we can solve." Kiku grinned and the two spent the next several hours getting their homework out of the way. By the time they were done, it was barely light out. Kiku scrambled to her feet, not wanting to risk the wrath of her parents for being late to dinner.
"See you tomorrow, Hana-chan!" Kiku called out as she put on her brown shoes. After she and Hana waved goodbye, she dashed out of the house and ran towards the main street, her primary route to her house. But, she was so preoccupied with her being late to dinner that she hadn't noticed someone turning the corner at the same time she was. She felt and heard a thud, followed by a grab of her wrists. Not registering who it was for a moment, Kiku fixed her stance to kick the crap out of whoever was in her way, as one could never be too careful, but a confused "Kiku?" brought her out of her momentary trance. She looked up to find her white- and red-haired childhood friend Homura Takeru staring at her, his gray eyes filled with confusion.
He let go of her wrists. "What're you doing out so late?"
"I should be asking you that!" huffed Kiku. "Shouldn't you be training with Homura jii-chan right about now?"
Takeru glanced off to the side, gritting his teeth, a reaction not unnoticed by Kiku. He shoved his hands in his hoodie pocket. "Don't tell him you saw me here. Please."
She raised her eyebrow. "Huh?!" Taking a step forward, hands on her hips, she stared up at him. "Takeru, you're not doing anything illegal, are you? I thought you said you weren't gonna get into any more fights—"
Takeru shook his head. "It's – It's nothing like that. Really."
"Then what is it?"
As soon as Kiku had asked that, more accusatory than intended, she stood up properly, sighing.
"I. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you," she mumbled, crossing her arms. She wasn't sure why she's getting so worked up, anyway. Of course Takeru's free to do whatever he wanted. They weren't little kids anymore. But, she knew in her heart that hadn't meant she could stop worrying about him. If anything, that meant she had to worry more. The source of her confusing feelings laughed, face flushed, and she felt warm on the inside.
She really had missed him—a lot more than she'd realized.
"It's okay," reassured Takeru. "I guess. I guess I should finally spill the milk now."
". . . Don't you mean 'spill the beans'?"
He scratched his head. "Is that what the saying is?"
Kiku exhaled, crossing her arms. Good to know he was absolutely, completely, and utterly hopeless still. "So, what's going on, Takeru? Why have you been acting like a dodgy criminal for the past month?"
Takeru took a step back at the comparison, his mouth hanging open. "Eh? Kiku, that's mean!"
Inhaling and exhaling slowly, Takeru furiously scratched his head again. "I still can't tell you—"
"But, you just said—!" protested Kiku, but Takeru only put up a hand.
"I was gonna ask if you can walk with me to my house tomorrow, after school. I'll explain everything then, promise," he said, flashing that ridiculous smile of his. Kiku sighed, but she remembered she didn't have time to hang around. She's going to be super late for dinner if she didn't get a move on.
Brushing past Takeru and explaining her dilemma, she said, "You better keep your word, Takeru!" before running off. A short laugh rang in her ears and continued to do so on the way home.
Kamishirakawa Residence, Shirakawa
By the time Kiku got home, her parents and her younger brother Benjiro were seated at the table, laughing, carrying on with their conversation. Checking her watch, she realized she was five minutes late. Five minutes too many! Her father was the first to notice as she washed her hands and made her way to the table, promptly catching the attention of her mother and Benjiro.
"Nice of you to join us, Kiku," her father commented. Kiku only sighed as a response, not really wanting to explain her unusual lateness. But, her father wasn't ready to drop the subject just yet. "You're usually not this late. What's going on?"
Kiku took a deep breath to prep for her answer. She barely uttered a syllable before her younger brother noisily cleared his throat.
"Well, obviously," started Benjiro, smirk on his face, "she was seeing her boyfriend Takeru on a secret date."
She's definitely going to kill him. Kiku sat straight in her chair. "Where in the world did you come up with that, Benji?"
Benjiro only continued to smile as he grabbed for his plate, Kiku getting more and more frustrated.
"Now, now, you two," their mother intervened, "we still need to eat. Save your squabbling for after dinner, please." Kiku frowned, but it was better than nothing. And, at least Benjiro was more concerned about his stomach. As soon as their mother had said that, he grabbed his plate immediately and piled it with food.
The rest of the dinner went by without too many jabs at Kiku's tardiness. Benjiro would, however, make a snide comment every now and then about her apparent date with Takeru, even after she had plainly said she was just studying with Hana-chan, but it just got super late. Of all the ridiculous ideas! Who'd even go on a date with him? She did her best to ignore her younger brother, but, for some reason, the comment really bothered her. They were friends, and they'd be only friends. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
After dinner, Kiku immediately called Hana-chan, relaying her story from when she left her house to that moment, including her bumping into Takeru and her brother's wild conclusion.
"Okay, but Benjii could be right in his own, strange way," mused Hana-chan. "Acting weird for a month. Asking you to come with him after school suddenly—"
Kiku frowned. "Hana-chan, whose side are you on?"
"The 'I wanna know what Homura's thinking, so I'll take what I can get' side?"
She leaned back in her chair, exhaling. "Forget it. I'll see you in school tomorrow, alright?"
Sighing, Kiku and Hana exchanged goodbyes, and Kiku leaned back in her chair, staring at the ceiling, decorated with brightly colored paper stars she and Takeru had colored together once, back when they were small kids and just started school together. It was ridiculous. Takeru might have gotten a few more braincells since coming back from the city down south, but in terms of dealing with people? He's the same as ever.
So, why, exactly, was her heart racing at the thought of walking from school with him again the next day, for the first time in a long while?
Maybe I just need more sleep.
The Next Day…
Homura Residence, Shirakawa
True to his word, Takeru asked Kiku if she still could walk with him after classes were over. Fortunately, he didn't make a huge deal out of it because that would've been embarrassing. Ignoring the snickering of nearby classmates, the two strolled away from the school grounds, through the bustling town square, towards Takeru's house. It made her nostalgic, her mind flashing to when they were little and would walk home from school, pretending they were embarking on a grand adventure into other worlds like they would see on Kiku's television set. Takeru would always be super into the whole thing, randomly shouting at the worst possible times, causing the adults to sharply reprimand him. But, Kiku had admired his enthusiasm, and cherished it even more after he'd disappeared for six months.
It finally felt like he truly came back.
They arrived at Takeru's house, Takeru shouting, "Ojii-chan! Obaa-chan! I'm back!" Takeru's grandparents both appeared from the outside. Kiku guessed they were tending to their garden out back.
"Oh, Takeru, you're back early," the grandfather commented. "And with Kiku! This is a surprise."
"Good evening, Homura jii-chan and Homura baa-chan." Kiku bowed ever so slightly.
"I. I'll be at the dojo in a moment," said Takeru. Kiku noticed he was fiddling with his hands. "I just need to give Kiku something first."
Kiku raised an eyebrow.
Homura jii-chan looked at Takeru for a moment, then, with a nod of his head, walked back in the other direction. Homura baa-chan explained, "Don't take too long, okay, Takeru? You've been skipping a lot of your exercises."
"I know . . ." mumbled Takeru. Kiku couldn't help but giggle. Did Takeru really think his grandparents wouldn't notice? Sighing, Takeru turned to her and motioned for her to follow him, and the two went into Takeru's room. Going through one of the bins, he pulled out a bright pink box and handed it to Kiku, who stared at it.
"Takeru," said Kiku, "if this box just has a bunch of rocks in it, I'm going to shake you."
Takeru laughed, throwing a hand behind his head. Kiku couldn't help but smile at the sight. "Don't be like that. I haven't done that since we were little," he said. Then, a mischievous glint appeared in his eyes, behind his green glasses. "But, no guarantees there aren't worms."
Kiku didn't like worms.
"I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Just open it. There's nothing bad, I promise."
Kiku hesitantly took the box and shook it for good measure. No sound, so it couldn't be the rocks. Or the worms. That was a good sign. But, what could've Takeru possibly gotten? She tore into the wrapping, unveiling a dark blue machine with a gold piece at the bottom and hexagonal glass screen. On the side were two gray parts that could be snapped together. Looking at Takeru, stupidly grinning from ear to ear, then back at the machine in her hands, Kiku raised an eyebrow.
"Takeru . . . what the heck is this?"
His face changed instantly. "Eh? What do you mean? You've never seen a Duel Disk before?"
Kiku sighed, staring at the contraption in her hand. "Not like this. This is the big surprise?"
Takeru eagerly nodded. "I wasn't completely broke before coming back, but I knew it wasn't enough. So I did a little work. Well, a lot of work. Ton of work. Tedious, back-breaking work."
"And the work started right after school, I'm guessing," concluded Kiku. Thank goodness he wasn't doing anything shady. "But . . . why a Duel Disk? I thought you weren't interested in that anymore. Not since after . . ."
The incident. Kiku couldn't bring herself to finish the sentence out loud. Takeru's eyes softened, face relaxed, an expression she hadn't seen before.
"I wasn't, but . . . a lot changed between then and now. Dueling's fun for me again," he explained. Then, switching to grin, he said, "Plus, there's this awesome virtual space called Link VRAINS! It's so much fun, Kiku! You can ride on hoverboards and see all kinds of stuff!"
Kiku hadn't seen Takeru this excited about anything for a long, long time. She listened intently to him ramble on about Link VRAINS, something she'd heard about but didn't know a whole lot. It absolutely baffled her—especially since Takeru's knowledge about technology was pretty small, as far as she knew. It almost made her want to see it to see what the fuss was about. Only almost, though. Didn't you have to make an avatar for stuff like that? What would she do?
Suddenly, Takeru stopped. "Kiku! You should come with me to Link VRAINS one day!"
Kiku closed her eyes. She knew it. "I don't know, Takeru—"
"It'll be fun!" he insisted. "Just once would be fine."
"You seem . . . very insistent on this."
Takeru shifted his legs. "I just want you to see how fun it is. We. We used to pretend to go to worlds like that, right? It'd be a dream come true for our younger selves."
"But, you've already been. Multiple times, right?" Kiku laughed. "You don't need me to go."
"But, I want you there with me!"
Kiku's mouth dropped. "Takeru?"
Takeru furiously scratched the back of his head before he looked, eyes gazing directly at hers. "Kiku, I—"
"Takeru! Are you done yet?" Homura jii-chan asked from down the hallway. Takeru flinched.
"Almost!" he shouted back. He scrambled to his feet. Kiku also got up, doing her best to stifle a laugh. "I gotta go, but promise me you'll think about it?"
Kiku glanced at the blue Duel Disk in her hand. He made all that effort to buy something not exactly cheap. Just for her. Compared to all the rocks and leaves he usedto give her when they were kids, it was a huge step up. She smiled.
"Yeah, I'll think about it."
Takeru grinned, but his face immediately changed, frowning. "You need me to walk you back?"
"Nah," she replied, "I'm a bit tougher than you, so I'll be fine."
Takeru laughed and pulled her into a hug. Kiku froze. Hugs weren't unusual between the two of them, as they were incredibly common when they were little, Takeru usually having been the one to initiate them. Sure, the two of them got teased by the other kids. Kiku couldn't have cared less, however. Takeru—she had known—was even more so. Even after the incident, the hugs hadn't stopped, something Kiku had been grateful for, since she'd missed him so much.
But, of course, when middle school came around, puberty rearing its ugly head, all that had stopped. And it had stayed that way until that very moment.
But, Takeru hadn't acknowledged her confusion. Instead, he only hugged her closer, tighter, chin resting on her shoulder. Kiku felt her face grow warm but relaxed into the embrace, focusing her ears only on Takeru's breathing. She wasn't sure why Takeru was unusually affectionate, but she wasn't about to question it.
He let her go, save for his grip on her forearms, and, grinning his stupid, infectious, lovable grin, he asked, "Tomorrow, usual time?"
Kiku returned with a smile of her own. "Tomorrow, usual time!"
Kamishirakawa Residence, Shirakawa
"So, the reason Takeru was acting suspicious . . . was that he was working to buy a Duel Disk for you?"
"And he wants you to go with him to Link whatever it's called."
"Link VRAINS. And, yup."
"And he hugged you for the first time in years."
Hana-chan hummed over the phone. "And you're sure he wants to be just friends with you?"
Kiku frowned. "You're really gonna go there?"
"It's a little sudden is all I'm saying," returned Hana-chan. "Well, maybe not for him, but still."
Kiku sighed. "This is stuff he used to do all the time when we were little. And I did too. I told you that."
"I know that," Hana-chan replied. "But, you also told me he used to be more loud-mouthed about it, so the fact that he was all sneaky . . ."
"Give it up. There's nothing like that between us," Kiku insisted. "God, you're sounding like my brother now."
Hana-chan laughed. "Sorry, Kiku. But, still, you have to admit. It's a little weird."
Kiku stared off in the direction of a small photo on her dresser. She had a few photographs of her and Takeru, but the one on her dresser was her favorite, even if it had been taken the week Takeru had gone missing. It was the two of them at their first festival together, festival garb and all. At the time, Kiku was the stronger of the two, so she was lifting Takeru on her back, the boy stupidly grinning his infectious, stupid grin, eyes closed, at the camera.
Out of all the friends she had, she valued Takeru the most, that much she knew.
"Sure, but I like weird." Kiku returned, shifting her attention to the blue Duel Disk next to the photo.
Maybe the two of them would be something other than friends. Maybe they'd just be friends. Either way was fine with Kiku. As long as she got to be with Takeru, it really didn't make a difference.
A/N: so was anyone curious about how Kiku got that Duel Disk in the final VRAINS episode or is that just me? 😂
So yeah this fic was basically an exploration as to where she got the Duel Disk and how she wound up in Link VRAINS with my boi. Also I needed to write more Entrust, so. Win-win. Let me know what you think of it \ .D. / And thanks for reading~
- Hakase Fudo, October 13, 2019