"Come on, please," Masayoshi said. He fidgeted with the messenger bag slung over his shoulder. Gotou stood in the doorway to his apartment, arms crossed. He had been afraid for a few minutes that Gotou wouldn't even come to the door, that the lights would go off and he would ignore Masayoshi's knocking. Like he did last night. And the night before that.

He'd spooked Gotou but good, and Masayoshi didn't like that. If anything he wanted things to go back to where they were just a few weeks ago, before he knew about Gotou's girlfriend, before Sawada, before all of it. But that was all past them now and they just had to move forward, and damn it if he wasn't going to just put his head down and charge at this. Gotou had been hiding from him for days now. He was lonely.

"I hate that stupid hotel room," Masayoshi said. "It's lonely. It's not as nice as my apartment, but there's room service and it's all paid for so you can get whatever you want." He fiddled with the bag he was wearing over his head. "Master even lent me some DVDs - it's not Harakiri Sunshine but it's still something..."

Gotou's expression hadn't changed at all. Finally he sighed, and ran a hand through his hair. "You're not going to leave me alone, are you?"

"I was going to call Mari next," Masayoshi admitted. Gotou actually shuddered.

"All right, fine," Gotou said after another moment. His expression had softened somewhat. "If it'll get you to stop making that face at me."

Masayoshi hadn't realized he was making a face, but that seemed to play to his advantage. He stood in the entranceway while Gotou fussed around for a moment - turning off the TV, grabbing what had become an overnight bag, and his cigarettes. And his new cell phone. Masayoshi pointedly looked at the floor when Gotou checked it, and then looked back up when he tucked it away in his pocket.

"So, anything I want from room service?" Gotou said as they walked along the street outside. "Do they have beer?"

Masayoshi frowned at him. "Don't you have to work tomorrow?"

"No." Gotou looked straight ahead, and did not elaborate.

They walked in a silence for a bit, before Masayoshi got up the courage to ask. "Gotou, do you hate me?"

Gotou made a bit of a funny noise, like a keycard jamming. "No! Idiot, why would you think I hate you?"

"You've been acting so strange lately," Masayoshi didn't know what to do with his hands, so he kept them on the strap of his messenger bag. "Won't answer your door, won't answer your phone or return my calls..."

He tilted his head back and looked up at the patch of dark sky between the buildings. There were too many lights in the city, and he couldn't see any stars from here. "We've been through a lot of shit," he said. "I just ... needed to get my brain back online. After Sawada..." Gotou darted a glance at him and then looked away. It was hard to tell but Masayoshi thought he might be blushing. "I don't hate you," he muttered.

Masayoshi breathed a sigh of relief. He didn't know what he was going to do if Gotou had answered that differently. In fact, he said as much. Out loud. "You're my only friend."

"I wish you wouldn't say that," Gotou groaned. "You're so creepy about it. Besides, what about the other Flamengers? Aren't they your friends now, too?"

Masayoshi made a funny face. "They're more like coworkers," he said after he thought about it.

"We're going to have to find you some other friends," Gotou said.

"Nah," Masayoshi said with a grin. "I only need you, Gotou-san."

Gotou was definitely blushing now.

They were arguing again by the time they reached the hotel lobby, but it was a much safer topic to be on - about whether or not they should watch the DVDs that Kaname had lent Masayoshi. "If the room service is on the house then the pay-per-view should be too," Gotou said. "We can watch a movie or something without you jumping up and down every five minutes. It's exhausting."

"But I thought you liked Red Axe!" Masayoshi whined. "Master is so cool!"

"No, you like Red Axe," Gotou said. "Have you even watched a movie recently that doesn't star a costumed hero?" The elevator released them to the right floor, and Gotou followed Masayoshi out. "There's some good kajiuu versus mecha one that came out last year I've wanted to see. Mecha isn't so far removed from sentai now, is it?"

"I don't know," Masayoshi said as he unlocked the door to the room. "It's not the same thin-"

Masayoshi stopped in his tracks in the doorway, and Gotou almost walked into him. "Hey-!" Gotou said angrily, and then he recognized the body language and expression and swiveled his attention to the other end of the room as well.

The dark-skinned man stood from where he had been sitting in the shadows of the room. "Masayoshi Hazama?" he asked, his accent clearly American. "You and I need to have a talk."


Masayoshi looked at Gotou. "I don't suppose you speak English?"

Gotou shook his head negatively. "Nope."

"What do we do?"

"You're the superhero, you stall him. I'll go find someone who speaks English."

"Gentlemen," the man in the eyepatch said in Japanese. "That won't be necessary."

"New plan," Gotou said. "Tactical retreat." He grabbed the hood hanging off the back of Masayoshi's shirt, yanked him back into the hallway, and they hauled ass.