Fandom: Zyuuden Sentai Kyoryuger
Summary: King works very hard to organize everyone's birthday parties. EVERYONE'S.
Notes: This is Elle and Libby's fault. Own it, you guys. <3
King made the list on his own and kept it on a need-to-know basis. His sources—Souji's dad, Gentle, Rika, the janitor in Ian's building, and Torin—agreed not to tell anyone, and the brave leader of the Kyoryuugers moved to the next part of his plot.
The resulting series of incidents would be remembered as the most devious King would ever get.
Souji's eyebrow threatened to fly away with all that twitching.
Right at the school entrance, he found the biggest cake in history, his teammates standing right in front of it. If the loud green of its frosting hadn't been enough to call everyone's attention, the loud "Surprise!" they yelled at unison did the trick.
"Is something like this even allowed?" one of his classmates asked, although he obviously was more interested in the possibilities of he getting a slice.
"Happy birthday, Souji!" King said as he put a hand on the boy's shoulders, and steered him toward the cake. "I hope you have a great time with us today!"
"You didn't have to do this," Souji replied as he followed. He had no idea if he was letting his leader guide him that easily out of loyalty or shock. "Or at least not in public..."
"Nonsense!" Nossan said. "If we don't celebrate a friend's birthday, it could be seen as us giving him a shoulder so cold it grows frost-ing!" He punctuated the last part of the sentence scooping some from the cake with his finger and eating it. Groans followed.
Souji shook his head and returned his attention to the cake, looking for the candles. Knowing them—knowing King —, they surely expected him to blow them off. However, only one candle shone on top of the cake. It was huge, though, with a flame as bright as the whole team was brave.
Souji's eyes widened. They didn't expect him to blow that off, did they?
"Come on, boy," Ian said leaning his arm on Souji's shoulder after reading his expression. "We know you can do it. However," he added with a pout, "if you don't feel up to the challenge, we understand."
Souji's mouth became a thin line. He shook Ian's arm off and he began looking for a way to reach the top of the cake without having to step on it.
"Did you bring a ladder?"
Nossan gasped. "I knew we forgot something!"
"I know!" King interrupted flashing his victory sign. "Why don't you stand on someone's shoulders?"
Souji was about to dismiss that suggestion, since it would be easier to borrow one from the school. But he thought it better and chose Ian to help him.
The ensuing sight broke several paradigms among Souji's classmates.
Once Souji was on top of his shoulders, Ian took great care on swinging back and forth between the young swordsman taking deep breaths and he blowing out with all his might to keep their balance.
The moment the candle went off, however, Souji stopped and even smiled. But Ian, who was getting ready for another go, lost his step. With the alternative being hitting the asphalt, Ian pushed forward so they could fall face first on the cake.
"Oh... my..." Ian mumbled between coughs as he tried to clean frosting from his eyes.
Souji stared at Ian and then at his own hands and his ruined uniform. Well, at least it's still green? he thought.
Someone started laughing. A few seconds later Souji realized it was him. But soon everyone laughed as well, so it didn't matter.
But not only Souji's uniform took a hit. His reputation did as well. Most of his classmates and his teammates ate cake directly from the pile without bothering with plates nor cutlery. The next few hours were a big mess of food, music and dancing.
But they were also the ones that saw Souji smile more times in a row ever.
Three days before the actual date, due a series of unexpected circumstances, Amy got home from school ten minutes earlier than usual. However, an even more unexpected commotion coming from behind her house put her on guard. She left her bag among some bushes and, ready to spring into action at the first sign of an enemy, she hopped from tree all the way to the back.
She hadn't been sure what to expect, but it wasn't what she discovered. King, Ucchii, and Ian, coordinated by Gentle, unloaded closed cardboard boxes from Nossan's truck down to a cellar.
She was about to step out to greet them and ask what they were up to, but then the butler said, "Hurry up! Miss Amy will be here any second now!"
"That was the last one!" Nossan announced. "I guess we can say we completely unboxed the truck's box!"
A moment of absolute silence later, Gentle turned to the cellar. "I hope the event proceeds smoothly. And that we have nothing to regret."
King showed him his victory sign. "Don't worry! We'll take care of everything!"
"As for regrets," Ian chimed in, spreading his arms in a casual shrug with his usual display of confidence, "there won't be any. You can trust our taste."
Gentle looked at each of them from head to toe. "Can I, really?"
Ian winced and turned to the others with an apologetic look on his face. "Oh, my?" he sighed.
Yes, Ian. You did try, Amy thought, hiding a smile behind her hand.
"Gentle-dono," Ucchii said, planting himself in front of the butler. "Please, rest assured we will do our best to make Amy-dono's birthday party a most memorable and enjoyable event."
Gentle hesitated for a fraction of a second, but he finally calmed down. "Very well, Utsusemimaru. If you say so, I will leave you in charge." He bowed to the samurai, and Ucchii bowed back.
It was adorable how much Gentle trusted Ucchii. He deserved it, of course. But then again, all of the Kyoryugers did. Amy knew deep down Gentle knew it; he just liked to play hard to get.
"Thank you, Gentle-dono," Ucchii said.
"All right!" King said. "Now that's settled, we better leave before Amy arrives."
"I'll be waiting for you tomorrow morning to continue the preparations," Gentle said.
Even when they never realized she'd been there all along, Amy waited a couple of minutes before going back for her bag and into the house. Gentle welcomed her as if nothing had happened, and she was more than happy to keep the charade.
That, of course, didn't stop her from to spend the remaining days until her birthday dropping subtle hints to her teammates. Whether in the Tiger Boy, the Spirit Base, or during battle, she found a way to mention things like her favorite kind of cakes and how much she liked Ucchii's homemade food.
Naturally, she also pretended to be oh, so surprised about the party when it happened. It helped that her happiness was all true, and that she didn't see the decorations before.
The setting was a refined and perfect mix of tradition and modernity Gentle could stand in the middle of and feel at ease. On the side, there was an obstacle course with the best traps Nossan could build, which ended in a fighting ring surrounded by torches.
"This is perfect!" Amy exclaimed, bouncing.
"I'll go first!" King said, jumping into the ring.
"You have to go through the course first, you cheater!" Ian yelled as he and the rest of the Kyoryuugers hurried to hold King back by the shirt.
They spent the rest of the afternoon taking the time it took them to beat the obstacles—and each other. There were a handful of ties and the score were more or less even in the end. They all knew Amy would never forgive them if they let her win just because it was her birthday.
One day, Gentle would accept out loud her friends never did anything but their very best, and were the best influences possible for her. Meanwhile, she would enjoy the memorable evening Ucchii promised on behalf of the team as she kicked their backsides.
The best influences, indeed.
Ian, wearing sunglasses and a dark, long coat, arrived to his apartment building as late as he could after a long day of dodging his teammates.
He was grateful for the lack of monster attacks. Ian didn't put beyond King's wild and unpredictable tendencies to randomly stop the fight and start a party to which he would invite the enemy.
To keep his guard high paid off. By then, Ian was sure no one had followed him. Besides, it was school night, which meant that by then at least Souji and Amy were in bed, and Nossan, having sent little Rika to bed, would be having dinner with his sister. King wouldn't dare to have a party without either of them around. Ergo, Ian was safe.
Yet, as he noticed climbing the stairs, the hallways unnaturally silent. Weird. There were always noise from several TV sets at this hour. The emptiness coming from the apartments around him made Ian feel uneasy.
Frowning, Ian kept moving, his hand placed next to his Gaburevolver, ready to use it at the first sign of trouble.
His door opened with a creaking sound. For a second, everything was darkness. Then, the bright light hit his eyes and the loud, "Happy Birthday!" chanted by what sounded like a multitude took him out of balance even further.
"What—?" he yelled back.
By the time he could focus his sight again, he was sitting down on one of his chairs and wearing a colorful party hat courtesy of Nossan.
"What—?" Ian repeated as he looked around, trying to look more indignantly dignified than a lost deer caught by headlights. "Oh, my," he mumbled when he could assert the situation.
His place was, indeed, packed. All his friends, neighbors, and some girlfriends—past and present—were there. If they wanted to have a proper party, they'd have to spread through the hallways. He wondered what Mrs. Harada, the landlady, would say.
Amy was the first one to hug him, and Ian saw Souji over her shoulder.
"King talked us into this," he offered as an explanation with a shrug.
On the one hand, if there was anyone who could convince the responsible boy to miss a night's sleep for a party, that would be King. On the other, Souji probably just wanted an excuse to have revenge over the Giant Cake Incident.
"We wanted to give you a very brave surprise," King said, grinning and flashing his victory sign.
Well, you managed, Ian thought without intention to say it. He did have a question, though. "How did you even get in here?"
"I can answer that," said an small old woman who now approached him with a beautifully wrapped gift box. The landlady. Ah. That answered Ian's previous unspoken question as well. "I thought this was a wonderful gesture from your friends," she continued.
Ian put on a charming smile and accepted the package. "Thank you, Mrs. Harada."
Now in full party mode, Ian sat back on the chair, legs crossed and fingers elegantly tapping his chin, ready to receive the rest of his presents. With so many people lining up, it took a while, but no one complained.
The best present, however, cheesy as it sounded, was everyone in that room and the friendship they offered.
Another thing Ian would never say out loud, opting instead for criticizing King's gift for being the wrong shade of black.
(King offered to go change it first thing in the morning, but Ian decided to keep it. He could be incredibly generous too.)
Nossan went over his schedule three times to make sure he'll have his birthday free, and he dropped hints about it as subtly as possibly whenever he could. He also spent good chunks of his time daydreaming of what the guys had in mind for that day, and he even wrote down a brand new set of appropriate puns ahead of time. Nevertheless, fate had a thing to say, and two unexpected situations came to happen.
The first: Rika fell in love with a very expensive doll she daydreamed of even more than her uncle about his party. Since she didn't have the same limitations as him, she spoke of it often to whoever was there to listen. The little girl went on and on about how pretty the doll was, and all the games they'd play together. Nossan's heart ached; he wanted to make her niece happy and get her the doll right away, but it would be a while before he could save enough money.
But then, the second incident: he got a call from a big house on the mountains. The owners had a problem with the electric installation no one had been able to solve, and a former and satisfied customer recommended Nossan. At that moment, the despairing uncle saw the light. The only problem was that he'd have to be away a few days, one of them his birthday.
It's all right, he told himself as he dialed King's number. This is for Rika.
King accepted the news, but sounded like a sad puppy when he got them, as Nossan had dreaded.
He felt bad for letting down his friends, but a child depended on him. After telling only Yuuko what he was truly up to, Nossan said goodbye and drove away.
"Thank you very much for your help. I was at my wit's end already," the house owner said. "You're my hero!"
"Problems of this kind are like a good joke," Nossan replied. "Once you get it, you have to go get it, get it?" He finished with jazz hands.
The woman's smile grew a little awkward, and her eyes darted around, scanning the room for something else to say. Luckily, the rumble of an helicopter flying nearby saved the situation.
"I wonder what they're doing," she said. "That thing has been coming and going all day."
Nossan took a peek out the window. "Probably they just want to find another place where to build a house—" He stopped himself when he saw Pteragordon going after the helicopter. If the Zyudenryu wa involved, this could be important. "Excuse me, I have to go now," he said and hurried to pick up his toolbox. One quick check that his payment remained secure in his wallet later, he left, hurrying to the direction taken by both the helicopter and Pteragordon. He tried to call his friends, but they didn't answer. Were they in a difficult fight? Was there even enough signal in this place?
He followed the road until the forest became too thick for his truck. Looking up, he saw nothing but treetops.
Trying to call again failed once more, so Nossan closed his eyes and focused. Since he didn't have any other clue, he would let his brave to guide him.
Seconds later, there it was. A dinosaur roar a couple of kilometers away that said, "Ready here!"
Nossan gasped and opened his eyes wide. "Stegotchi?" he exclaimed.
Now more intrigued than ever, he followed the roar.
He stopped behind some bushes at the edge of a huge clear, and saw his friends, human and dinosaurs and even Torin, gathered around several set of tables covered with all kinds food. They were still setting up some balloons.
"What is going on?" he said before he could stop himself.
"Nossan?!" they all exclaimed, freezing in their places.
"What are you doing here?" Nossan insisted. Stegotchi had gone to greet him, so now he was petting the stegosaurus's head as he waited for the answer.
"We thought that since you couldn't come to the party, we'd bring the party to you!" King, the first one to regain his spirit, explained as he showed his victory sign up in front of him.
"And since this is a secluded place, we thought we could join you," Torin added, his arms spread to include himself and the dinosaurs.
"Amy helped us to get a helicopter and bring the supplies," Ian added and Amy waved, smiling.
Pteragordon screeched and flapped his wings, which Ucchii translated as how he had helped too.
Moved to the core, Nossan began to sniffle. "You—you're so great, guys," he mumbled. "You're so good for bringing the food all the way to the wood."
Instead of silence, the biggest group hug ensued, with Nossan at the center. He felt so, so lucky to have such good friends, he thought nothing could ruin this moment. Until he remembered he left his joke notebook at home.
Ah, well. He could always keep improvising, couldn't he?
Ucchii could talk lengths and go into loving detail about how much he enjoyed helping celebrate his comrades’s birthdays. He'd given his best and the effort paid off; they all had fun and enjoyed the parties.
Their leader deserved the title of Party King, without a doubt. His work coordinating them all had been excellent—although at more than one point it had been a community effort to prevent King himself to blurt out the surprise when he got too excited. Small, forgivable incidents, however, with Kyouryu Red being so honest and open about everything. Besides, they'd managed, and their plans had gone smoothly.
Once he reached this conclusion, Ucchii smiled blissfully and continued to sweep the floor of the Spirit Base. It wasn't his turn, but he was free and wanted to be of use. He was nearly done when a flash near the entrance announced someone had arrived. Ucchii turned his head to see Souji carrying a large box.
"Welcome, Souji-dono," he said, reaching forward to the box. "May I help you?"
Souji's expression changed from mild annoyance to one of pure panic in less than a second. "Ucchii?" he exclaimed.
Before Ucchii could ask what happened, the young Kyoryuger fumbled with his Gaburevolver to shoot at the floor again. In an instant, he was gone.
That, of course, did nothing to assuage the samurai's worries.
Ucchii ditched the apron and went after Souji. When he emerged on the other side of the gate, he found nothing. Not even the signs of a fight. A closer inspection, however, revealed the path Souji took. In his hurry, the youth had been careless.
Frowning, Ucchii followed the trail all the way to the street corner. The area was less crowded than it could've been, but enough to corrupt the clues. He remained still as he looked around, trying to understand what had just happened. Was there a Deboss Monster around that made Souji shy beyond all measure? Or one that made him fear his own friends?
I probably should warn the others, he thought, but as he reached down for his mobuckle, a sudden firm hand on his shoulder made him jump.
"Ah! There you are!" a friendly and cheerful voice said.
"Ian-dono!" Ucchii replied, although it was more like a whine. The samurai pressed a hand against his chest as he took a deep breath to stabilize himself.
Ian patted Ucchii's shoulder. "I apologize. I didn't mean to take you by surprise." The grin on his face told another story, though.
Ucchii straightened up, cleared his throat and got serious again. "Ian-dono, did you by any chance see Souji-dono around here? I believe something may have happened to him."
Ian waved his hand, dismissing Ucchii's concerns. "Ah, yes. I saw him Don't worry about it. The boy is fine. He just had something to do somewhere else." Without giving Ucchii time to think about it, he slid his hands over the samurai's shoulders and steered him across the street. "I'm very glad I ran into you. I was on my way to buy a present for a girl who likes traditional things. I thought maybe you could recommend something that's on good taste."
Not that long ago, Ucchii would've outright refused to help Ian to woo yet another innocent young woman just like that, but now that he got to know the Black Cupid's intentions better, he couldn't refuse. Besides, to be recognized as an expert on traditional Japanese gifts made him feel good.
"All right. I will help you."
"I knew I could count on you!" Ian said, grinning and tightening his grip on Ucchii's shoulders.
For an instant, Ucchii thought he saw Ian winking to someone behind his back as the walked away. He didn't want to turn around in case it was a woman, but he took note to add it to the next lecture on manners he'd give Ian.
A couple of hours later, they were on their way back to the Spirit Base. Ian had flirted with the store owner and got a discount. A couple of customers tried to flirt with Ucchii, but he developed a sudden interest in some dolls in the back of the store. Either way, the adventure was now over.
"Thank you very much, Ucchii," Ian said as he drew his Gaburevolver to open the gate.
"Don't mention it, Ian-dono," the samurai replied.
As soon as they were inside, Ucchii had to do a double take. The clean and peaceful place that was there when he left was gone. It had been changed and turned into a big birthday party in record time.
"Surprise!" King, Amy, Souji, Nossan, and Torin yelled at unison.
"Eh—?" Ucchii began, but Ian pushed him forward without further ceremony.
"There you go!" Ian said. "I told you guys I'd bring him on time."
Ucchii remained so confused that he even forgot to blush when Amy and Nossan hugged him from each side at the same time. Tears, however, formed in his eyes.
"How did you—" he chocked "—know?"
Six hands—five human and Torin's—offered him tissues. Ucchii stood still not knowing which one to take, until Torin pushed his into Ucchii's own hand.
"Thank you, everyone," Ucchii continued as he wiped the tears already on his cheeks. "I wasn't expecting it." He didn't think he was worthy, but he kept that to himself.
King showed his victory sign. "Ucchii, you've worked so hard for all the parties. Of course we would throw one for you!"
Still overwhelmed, Ucchii smiled and looked at each his friends. The gratefulness from earlier was nothing compared to what he felt right this moment.
He took a deep breath to recover. He didn't intent to keep them waiting. "Very well, then." Grinning, he jumped toward the cake. He felt daring and brave and playful. "The last one won't get any!"
"Ucchii!" they all yelled back, following suit.
Of course, in the end Ucchii didn't have the heart to leave any of them without cake. Specially since it was ice-cream cake, the best invention ever to come from a human mind.
"Does anyone know when King's birthday is?" Amy asked one day they were lazying in her living room and King wasn't around.
The rest of the guys looked at each other. They didn't.
"That information proved to be impossible to get," Gentle provided as he brought a tray with some lemonade. "Young Daigo showed himself to be as —" brief doubtful pause "—enigmatic as usual."
"You mean dense," Ian said.
"I did not say such thing," Gentle said, but his nearly imperceptible nod signaled that yes, he'd meant that.
"Do you think Torin knows it?" Souji asked.
One call later, they learned that their mentor had no idea either.
"There has to be a way to find out," Nossan said.
"Perhaps there is a public record," Gentle adventured. "I could make some arrangements," he began, but everyone's mobuckles rang.
They all got the same text from King with an image attached. And they all grew worried as they read it, since King wasn't one to send texts, specially not like this:
Follow the map. I'll be waiting.
The attached image was a map, yes. One that lead to a secluded beach few people knew about.
"Do you think it's really from him?" Ucchii asked.
"It doesn't say when he'll be waiting and the map is drawn with crayons. What other idiot would do that and be so vague?," Ian grumbled. However, an obvious concerned filtered through the annoyance on his voice.
"Let's go, then!" Amy exclaimed. She was already at the door.
Of course, no one hesitated to follow.
Despite being made with crayons, the map turned out to be quite accurate. It pointed them to the easiest path in what otherwise would've been an arduous climb. It was a good thing the Kyoryugers were in an excellent shape, though.
When they got to the last boulders hiding the beach from them, they stopped to catch their breaths.
"All right," Ian said. "What do we do?"
"We should find out what is on the other side and then formulate a plan of attack if one is required," Ucchii said.
"No need for that," Souji said. He'd already taken a peek to the other side of the boulders and gestured to his friends to go with him to the beach. "You have to see this. Come on!"
The group exchanged looks and dashed around the boulders.
What they saw was a shirtless King standing in front of the ocean and under a banner held by Gabutyra that said:
in colorful capitals.
"Hey, guys!" he greeted them, his victory sign up high. "Welcome to my surprise birthday party!"
With a most serious stride, Ian walked toward him to hit him in the back of the head. "That's not how it works! And you know it! You've organized one for each of us."
King rubbed the offended part. He had the decency to look like an scolded puppy, at least. "Yes, but if I'd told you, I would've known and then it wouldn't have been a surprise."
Ian pressed the bridge of his nose. "I need an aspirin."
"King-dono, don't you trust us with the organization of a birthday party for you?" Ucchii asked.
By then, even Gabutyra shot disapproving looks at King. This wasn't what he signed up to do.
"Of course I do!" King replied. "You can organize all the parties after this one, now that you know the date. I just wanted to keep surprising you." He grinned. "Your happy faces are the best part."
It was hard to argue against that reasoning, and King had truly surprise them all. In the end, the Kyoryugers agreed that King acted in good faith—because how else was he going to act, really —, so the party formally started.
Thus, the first cycle ended, but soon it would begin anew. And it presented the possibility to grow and get better and better.
"So, who knows when Torin's birthday is?" Amy asked as they left the beach that night.
All eyes turned to Gabutyra, but the t-rex was only a dot in the distance by then. Humans weren't ready to get a certain kind of classified information.
So they'd have to go to the source. And they would as soon as they had a plan.