Well, here's the third in my Hirota series. For this one, unlike the last one, you need to have read the previous one. Otherwise, it won't really make sense. And, yes, I know that this doesn't have very much Kenta in it, but the story is all from Kazu's perspective, so get over it! Besides, he thinks about Kenta a lot.

Thanks so much for reading. Please leave me a review!

Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon. I do not own Kazu, Kenta, Takato, Jeri, Rika, Ryo, Henry, Suzie, Ai, or Mako. I do, however, own Ryouji Leiko, even if she's a major loser. And I own the plot.


The Girlfriend

Leiko ended up staying for a while, which Hirokazu decided he completely hated. But he couldn't tell Kenta this, now could he? If Kenta knew that Kazu despised his girlfriend… well, he felt it safe to say that Kenta wouldn't take it very well. And, knowing Kenta, like Kazu of all people did, he wouldn't just shrug it off like a normal guy would. Instead, he would be heartbroken, whine and complain at Kazu, and, then, despite how much he might hate it, he would break up with her and try this best to say that living a life without a girlfriend or lover would make him happy. And, no matter how much Kazu might make fun of the guy, Kenta was his best friend, and he didn't like to see him miserable—truly miserable.

Sure, Leiko was some stupid girl, but she did make Kenta happy. The two boys didn't talk about her much—mostly because Kenta seemed to get the distinct feeling that Kazu didn't particularly care for girls at present. He was very correct, but he didn't seem to understand that Kazu really didn't care for that particular girl ever. But they never broached that subject either.

Most of the time, though, Kenta wasn't even home. Yes, he had work, but, other than that, Leiko seemed to take up most of his time. Kazu and Kenta still went out every Saturday evening to the arcade that they had gone to when they were kids, and, sometimes, Takato showed up, but that was a rarity, considering Takato and Jeri's wedding was an impending danger (according to Kazu, at least).

One time, when all three of them were there, Takato decided he wanted to meet this girl that he had heard so much about (from Kenta only because Kazu never spoke about her). Kenta said that, when the Tamers had their monthly get-together, he could bring her. Kazu mentally protested this, but he knew he couldn't say any of it aloud. Damn Kenta and his low self-esteem issues. Damn annoying.

So, on the thirtieth of June, when the Tamers got together at Takato and Jeri's house, Kenta brought Leiko with him. Honestly, it was the most time Kazu had ever spent with the girl, and, the more time he spent with her, the less he liked her—but he easily discovered that that was because Kenta seemed to like her so damn much.

Kazu was the first to arrive, coming alone, not wanting to spend another second around Kenta at the apartment while he was getting ready to go pick up the girl. He had left without even a word of goodbye, and he didn't regret it for a second. Takato tried to question him about his earliness, saying things like "Why aren't you helping Kenta right now?" and "I thought you were coming with Kenta and his girlfriend," but, when Kazu refused to speak about it, he finally decided to let it be.

To get his mind away from depressing topics (like Kenta and his girlfriend), he eagerly asked Jeri if he could help her with the food preparations. So, while Takato was organizing things around the house as his homemade bread was cooking in the oven, Kazu and Jeri were cutting up celery, carrots, and broccoli for a vegetable dish when people arrived.

Henry and his younger sister, Suzie, now a teenager with a passion for pink clothes and makeup, were the next ones to arrive. Suzie decided to help with the food preparations as well, and Takato and Henry began to talk about the old days with their digimon and the D-Reaper until Takato had to take his bread out for cool.

Rika and Ryo were the next to arrive, arguing as usual. Once inside, they immediately began yelling at each other, but Ryo was still able to take off her jacket for her, which she had been wearing despite the summer weather outside, and hang it up by the door. They followed Takato, who was being an excellent host, into the large kitchen, where everyone else was waiting, and proceeded to scream their heads off, fighting about how he had been too controlling when it came to the radio in her car. As usual, it ended with him making a sly comment, her groaning in frustration before allowing him to kiss her, and then, when she pulled away from him, still angry, her usual comment of, "You know this doesn't change anything. I still hate you."

And everyone, even Kazu, who was no longer in a foul mood, laughed at this strange display of dysfunctional affection. Then, forlornly, Kazu wondered if he'd ever be able to have a sort of relationship with someone like that—one where he could say anything and the person would still love him. Not very likely. And then he accidentally cut his finger while he was distracted.

Takato eyed him worriedly before nodding at the doorway into the living room, signaling him to join him there before disappearing in that direction. Kazu used the excuse of needing to wash and bandage his small wound to leave and make his way toward their bathroom. Takato was waiting in the living room for him there, and the two silently moved toward the bathroom so that he could clean the cut.

"What's up with you, Kazu?" asked Takato anxiously. Of course Takato knew something was up, and both of them knew that he had known something was up for quite a while.

Kazu didn't say anything for a while as he ran his finger under hot water and applied liquid hand soap to clean it. After completing that task and then drying it, he pulled out the second drawn by the sink and pulled out the first aid kit there. He quickly put a band-aid on his finger and put away the kit before even preparing to respond.

"Nothing's up."

"Liar," Takato said. "Kazu, you're one of my closest friends—have been since middle school—and I can tell when something's bothering you. I don't know you as well as Kenta does, but I do still know you."

He sighed. "Right, so you got me. I'm a lying pig, and I'm actually all torn up inside. So what? Nobody really gives a damn," he snapped, rolling his eyes.

"I do!" Takato said rather loudly. "Jeri does. Henry does. Ryo does. Suzie probably does. Rika does, even if she says she doesn't. God, Kenta does."

"No, he doesn't," he snarled angrily before he could stop himself. "I know you care, and I know Jeri does, but she cares about everyone, so that doesn't even really count. The others… they might care, but that doesn't really matter anyway."

"What do you mean?" he asked in surprise. "Of course Kenta cares. He's your best friend, isn't he?"

Kazu shrugged at that before pushing past him and exiting the bathroom back toward the living room. "I don't know," he said over his shoulder before turning to see Jeri and Henry standing there worriedly, having heard the loud voices. Suzie was also standing in the doorway to the kitchen, her brow creased in confusion.

"What's wrong?" asked Jeri, her eyes sparkling with concern.

All Kazu did was shrug again. "Nothing. Everything's fucking fine," he spewed before turning away from everyone, those in front of him and Takato behind him, quickly making his way toward the door leading to their backyard. Once outside, he sat down on the edge of their porch to try to mull things over in his mind.

No one followed him. Instead, the doorbell rang, and Takato and Jeri rushed to allow Ai and Mako inside. Wasn't that just lucky?

Of course something was up. Of course something was bothering him. Of course something was wrong. Kenta having a girlfriend was wrong. Kenta kissing a girl was wrong. Kenta spending all his time with a girl was wrong. Kenta having sex with a girl was wrong. Kenta leaving him for a girl was just plain fucking wrong.

That's right. He had had to leave early for the party because Kenta had tried to talk to him about something. Apparently, Leiko had talked Kenta into moving in together, but, as she had said, she couldn't move in with him and Kazu because she could barely stand his best friend. Wasn't that just fucking convenient. So, for the couple to truly be together all the time, he needed to leave.

But the worst part was that Kenta was actually eager for it.

Kazu knew that his dislike of Leiko and her dislike of him had not escaped Kenta's awareness, no matter how stupid that boy could be. In fact, Kazu knew that it was greatly disturbing his best friend, and Kenta was growing very frustrated with the two of them, angry that they couldn't just get along. So moving out of the apartment would help with that. Kind of. But not really. At all.

He could hear the knocking on the door then. Kenta and Leiko had finally arrived. So much for peace and quiet. He knew that Kenta's voice would haunt him the whole night. If Leiko had her way, it would probably be the last time he would ever hear his best friend's voice.

Hadn't Kazu ever told him how horrible girls were?

The backdoor opened and closed, and footsteps were heard as Rika, who he recognized from the way she walked, drew nearer and nearer to him. A second later, she was sitting down beside him on the edge of the porch, both staring at the beautiful rock garden Takato and Jeri had created there. Neither looked at each other, even when Rika finally said something.

"You know," she finally said, "it's okay for you to be upset, Kazu. I know we've never really gotten along, but you guys are like a second family to me. You're all the closest people to me in the whole world—well, and my mom and grandma. It hurts me when you guys are hurt."

He didn't say anything in response to that. Honestly, what could he say.

She glanced back toward the house thoughtfully. "I don't like her that much. She seems a little overbearing, don't you think?" she said.

And Kazu couldn't hold back his small bout of pitiful, bitter laughter. "You're one to talk, Rika," he replied, but he still heartily agreed. "But, yeah, she really is."

"You don't have to like her. It doesn't make you a bad person to dislike her." And then she added as an afterthought, "Or a bad friend."

"It sure seems like it." He heaved a sigh and lied back on the wood deck, placing his hands underneath to support his head and neck. "I can't really tell him what I think of her, though, because he'll freak out. I don't want to make him upset."

She looked down at him with a sad smile. "I think he'd be more upset if you never told him what was wrong. He's upset that you've stopped talking to him, that you're out here and you won't come in. This Leiko girl seems to relish it, though, but she doesn't let him realize that."

They stopped talking after that, just listening to the babbling of the water out in the lawn and the idle chatter inside the house. Leiko's voice came out distinctly to them, and Kazu simply hated it—hated that someone like that could ever make Kenta happy.

"It's okay for you to want their relationship to be over."

"I know," he replied.

"It's okay for you to try to stop it. It's okay for you to hate her."

"But?"

She smiled at his small prediction. "But," she agreed, "it's not okay for you to ignore him. You're still his best friend."

"I can't stand to see him with her, though."

For a minute, Rika had to response to that, until she finally said in a small, small voice, "It's okay for you to have romantic feelings for you best friend, Kazu. You don't have to be ashamed of it."

He started that that, confused by her small accusation, but, funnily enough, he wasn't that surprised by it. "I don't have feelings for him."

Suddenly, he was reminded of his date with Yoshino Nami nearly half a year ago and what she had said. "If you were in love with me as much as you're in love with your little friend, I'd call you a stalker." Of course he loved Kenta—he was his best friend—but that didn't go beyond platonic. Did it?

And Takato's words hit him, too. "The person you love is your best friend—no matter what." If Kenta was his real, actual, for-now-and-always sort of best friend, then, according to Takato, that would mean he was in love with him, wouldn't it? Or did that just mean that he loved him—platonically or romantically?

"It's okay for you to have romantic feelings for you best friend, Kazu. You don't have to be ashamed of it." Rika's words were probably the worst—worst because they were said by someone that knew him well and wasn't talking about her own relationship. She meant him and Kenta—she knew. She knew before even he had.

And, then, he realized that she was right. It wasn't a bad thing for him to be in love with his best friend, now was it? It was just awkward. And completely horrible because said best friend appeared to be in love with someone else: his girlfriend.

Yeah, well, damn all girlfriends. Especially Ryouji Leiko.