az: It started randomly because I've been musing about why Ryunosuke had been excited over the events in episode 30, and I went on rambling off in the usual Ryunosuke fashion to the point I have no idea what we're talking about anyway in this shot.


Growing up

By honou-no-izumi alias Izzu

o

o

Chiaki shook his head again as Ryunosuke continued being in such jolly mood, despite the fact that the six of them were already halfway home. He glanced towards Kotoha, the one being the center of Ryunosuke's affections currently as he pitied her. But apparently, Kotoha did not look any bit bothered by Ryunosuke as she quietly entertained the older samurai. He frowned as he turned to look at Takeru and Mako.

It seemed even they themselves had decided to let Ryunosuke be with his own merriment. Chiaki sighed.

"Eh, Takeru. Are you sure it's okay to leave him like that?"

Takeru gave him a reproachful look at him.

"Ryunosuke's not bothering anyone save himself. And Kotoha doesn't mind him, just let him be. He'd be over it any time now... anyway."

Chiaki let out a small grunt before glancing back towards Ryunosuke and Kotoha again.

"But he's bothering me!" he muttered to himself.

Unaware of what happened between his other team mates, Ryunosuke smiled.

"So, you really enjoyed yourself... being a high school student for a while?"

Kotoha giggled. "Yes, Ryuu-san. Like I said earlier, it was enjoyable while it last." she said as Chiaki kept his eyes on her.

Ryunosuke nodded.

"Good. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. By the way, I'm amazed at how you had come out with that idea to sneak behind that Gedoushu. I'm so proud of you..." he said, beaming again, patting her head fondly.

Kotoha blushed.

"Ah... that was nothing! It's because I've learnt a lot in the past from Ryuu-san, that's why--but Ryuu-san! You're great also... acting as a teacher. You must have been so good at school before!" exclaimed Kotoha as Ryunosuke waved it off.

Takeru frowned a little as he noticed the slight sobering in Ryunosuke's attitude before he reverted back to his cheerful act.

"It's nothing of that sort. Kotoha... I had always been home-schooled. I never entered high school before."

"Ah! I'm sorry, Ryuu-san!" Kotoha exclaimed in alarm as Ryunosuke told her to not worry herself. It was then that it struck Chiaki that it might have been the same with Takeru, Mako-neesan... even Genta. He never thought of what would the others have felt if they get to enter high school like he used to when they never get to experience that feeling of being in high school before.

Suddenly, Chiaki felt bad about himself. He never actually thought about how had the others lived their lives before finally realizing their destiny to become Shinkenger. Ryunosuke, among others; must have went through a lot in the past... training to be a samurai while also trying to learn kabuki...

Chiaki smiled weakly.

"You must have been jealous, Ryunosuke... having never to experience high school life." he said before Mako started scolding him, "I probably should be glad I never had to have you as a teacher. Must've been terrible..." he teased as Ryunosuke laughed.

"You think? Even if I never entered high school, I can always teach something to you--!" Ryunosuke cried out as Chiaki dragged Kotoha along to flee from the older samurai...

xxx

"Something bothering you?"

Ryunosuke turned his head before giving him a shrug. Takeru sat beside him as he cocked his head at him.

"There's nothing bothering me, Tono. Don't you worry about me."

Takeru sighed.

"So... you were taught at home too, eh?"

Ryunosuke shrugged.

"Aren't we all? All of us were supposed to be taught and raised from young age on how to use our abilities and to learn how to fight."

Takeru rolled his eyes.

"Chiaki gets to go to high school..." he said in passing before adding, "I wonder what it's like... going to school to study."

Ryunosuke smiled.

"Hikoma-san shouldn't be a bad teacher... eh, Tono?"

Takeru grinned. "Jii was not that bad... but I used to remember, it had been so lonely back then..."

Ryunosuke smiled weakly before glancing back towards the sky.

"It can't be helped. I used to watch the other kids in the neighbourhood going to school with their friends. But then I know, I wouldn't be able to enter normal school anyway... between the moji lessons and trainings. And I had wanted to learn kabuki too, then."

"You never wanted to experience high school?" Takeru asked as Ryunosuke raised an eyebrow at him. He cast a curious look at him. "You did seemed too excited to see Kotoha enjoying her brief high school expearience though."

The other man chuckled.

"It's because Kotoha is still young, and around that age. It had been a good chance for Kotoha to learn new things." Ryunosuke reasoned. "--I know how such times are important, like getting a lot of friends around the same age as your own. I didn't manage to get that chance while I used to be around that age, so seeing Kotoha having that chance made me happy for her. I would also feel the same for you too... Takeru-tono."

Takeru suddenly felt the heat rushing up his face as he glanced away for a second. He coughed.

"You're not that old yet, Ryunosuke."

Ryunosuke laughed again.

"I used to have to spent a lot of time training and studying that I never had any spare time to spend any time getting to know more of the other youngsters my age at my home district, Tono. The most people that I've spent time with had been my father and the other elders that had taught me. I used to be called boring and many other things because I chose to train more and not play with them. And old-fashioned because I always spent time with my elders. Not that I minded. It's all passed, now."

"Ryunosuke..."

Ryunosuke chuckled.

"Don't worry about that, Tono. I haven't regretted making the choices that I've made in the past. And I'm happy to be able to serve you to the best of my ability and knowledge."

He shrugged.

"That aside, I would like to see Tono and Kotoha to have chance to make more friends. Kotoha herself had been so happy when she had befriended Eri-chan earlier."

Takeru blinked before shifting uncomfortably.

"I'm not that bad! I had Genta... Kotoha... Chiaki... Mako... you..." he muttered softly, slightly embarrassed as Ryunosuke cried out in alarm.

"Of course! I'm not saying you're unable to have any friends... Tono!"

Takeru jumped.

"EeehH...? N-no.. Ryunosuke! I'm not angry or anything--"

"I am very deeply sorry!" cried Ryunosuke as Takeru fidgeted in alarm to try reassuring him as Ryunosuke kept on apologising to him.

xxx

Several meters away from the two and hiding inside one of the rooms, Chiaki sighed. He never imagined to hear anything of this sort from the two of his seniors whom he had always respected and strived to be like. He turned around to see Genta silently sobbing (for some reason), Kotoha watching the two admiringly and Mako-neesan staring at him with that wise expression she always wore.

"W-w-what are you guys d-d-doing?" he stuttered as Mako shrugged.

"Nothing. It's always nice to get to watch those two together..." said Mako cheekily as Chiaki turned around to see Kotoha already joining the other two and chatted happily together...