Don't ask. I don't know. It started as tumblr derping. Then, um, something happened. (Because reasons.)
Spoilers for Star Driver re: link between Reiji and Takuto. Actually, it's relatively spoiler-free (since those are somewhat minor spoilers) and pretty safe overall. Also non–timeline-compliant and a little messy. Go figure.
...Golden Shuttle, Antikythera Gear, Moai...
III flipped over the top card of his deck and added it to the chain on the floor. Crystal Skull.
That was when IV entered the room.
III ignored him, but it wasn't as if he meant to – he was busy tuning his deck, and that had importance over all other things. He flipped the next card over – Stonehenge Method. He heard the twang of springs as IV sat on their couch, and in the corner of his eye he could see his brother...
...looking extremely intently at the cabinet full of souvenirs and figurines.
Souvenirs and figurines that were part of III's OOPArts collection.
"Um," said III, "nii-sama...?"
He was cut off by a crunch of springs this time, not a twang. IV jumped up and onto the couch, before leaping over the back, and walked toward the cabinet as if in a trance.
(Correction:, III's brain told him then, when he'd taken a moment to double-take, IV's movements were more like skipping than walking.)
III rose to his feet. He hurried across the floor to the cabinet, worried for all his precious treasures. There was only one reason for IV to be so intent on something he found old and uninteresting.
"Nii-sama!" cried III, "no, don't! You promised—"
—you wouldn't hurt them, was what he wanted to say. But that was when he looked at IV's face.
IV was... excited.
"Oh!" exclaimed IV, in a very un-IV–ish manner, and his eyes were wide as he peered closer. It was, strangely, very non-violent for him – the only real thing that could have classified as damage belonged to the nose leaving smudge marks along the glass. Not even a lack of clear sight could dissuade the newfound fascination; he merely paused to wipe away the fog after his breath misted up the surface. "Wow!"
III stared. "Nii-sama... are you—okay?"
IV turned to face him. III noticed his eyes weren't narrowed from years of unbridled cynicism.
"Okay?" echoed IV. He blinked. III blinked back. "Why wouldn't I be?"
There was a brief pause. IV turned back to the cabinet, but soon faced III again.
"V hasn't seen this, has he?"
Mutely, III shook his head without thinking. He was too distracted by the words. Never could he remember a time when IV used such a genuine tone when speaking about their eldest brother; he was more inclined to grumble. V was their superior in not only age but knowledge, after all.
III's eyes widened. Of course.
"I'm, um," he said, "going to talk to V–nii-sama."
Cards lying forgotten on the floor, III skedaddled out of the room to find his eldest brother as quickly as he could. There was a problem.
"So," repeated V, "IV's starting to act really strange."
III nodded. "Yes, nii-sama."
"What kind of strange?"
"Well... he's really interested in my OOPArts. And he's kinda, um... completely different from normal."
V sighed. The book between his hands was closed, placed on the side table, then he uncrossed his legs and began to knead his brow with thumb and forefinger.
"Now, of all times," he muttered. "Just when father's plans were underway...!"
III blinked. "You... nii-sama, you know what's going on?"
"If it can be called knowing." V rose to his feet, and smoothed his coat down. "Pack your bags for a week, III. We're leaving in fifteen minutes."
"L-Leaving...? But what about the plans? What about—"
"There's nothing we can do with IV in this state."
"But Tron—" spluttered III, "what are we going to say?"
At the hand which then rested on his shoulder, III looked up to his brother's warm gaze. V smiled, as if there were no problems at all.
"Don't concern yourself with that, III. I'll talk to him. Can you make sure the two of you have your bags packed?"
III nodded. "Yes, nii-sama."
"Good. And—another thing. Find out how much has changed."
III nodded again. "Okay. Nii-sama?"
"...Where are we going?"
Strangely enough, V hesitated. III waited patiently, knowing his brother would answer if there was a reason for him to know.
"Southern Cross Isle," came the reply, a few moments later. "We're going to... visit family."
III smiled as he tapped the OOPArts Crystal Alien on his side of the field, innocently cunning. "And now Crystal Alien attacks you directly!"
"Augh," said IV. There was the scratch of pencil against paper as he subtracted 2100 from 4300, leaving him with 2200 life points. He switched to English; "what a pinch."
"I set two cards," said III. "Your turn."
As IV drew a card, III found himself looking back out to the sea which surrounded the ferry on all sides. Some of the spray leapt over the deck to land dangerously close to their cards; III turned back to suggest moving only to find IV scratching his hair and crossing his eyes.
IV prodded a finger beneath the card set in his spell and trap zone, muttered what sounded like 'oops' and turned back to his hand again.
III looked toward the book occupying the table beside him. He tried to crane his neck around the mass of long silver hair to see the face hidden behind.
"V–nii-sama," he said.
"What is it?" came the reply, though V didn't turn around. III suppressed a grumble at having to speak to hair.
"How long until we get there?"
V checked his watch—and because III sat on his right, the action only caused more hair to gather between them. "About an hour. If you look, you should be able to see the island off the horizon now."
III looked toward the front of the ferry. He couldn't see anything because of the head of red-gold hair shooting up as IV straightened in his seat.
"Alright!" said IV, "I special summon Gimmick Puppet – Magne Doll, because you have an Xyz and I don't have any monsters, then I normal summon Gimmick Puppet – Gear Changer!" He slapped the two cards on the table with excited gusto. "Then I increase Gear Changer's level to Magne Doll's, and Overlay for No. 40: Gimmick Puppet – Heaven's Strings!"
III nodded. "Okay. Go ahead."
He had to swerve when IV thrust an arm forward and it almost got him in the curls.
"Heaven's Strings attacks Crystal Alien!"
"Chain!" shouted III. He flushed and shrank when some of the other passengers on board stared oddly in his direction, but regained himself soon after. "I activate Stonehenge Shield, which reduces Heaven's Strings' attack to zero and negates its effect!"
As IV groaned and ended his turn, a phone rang. III stared when V closed his book and rose to his feet to answer the call.
Oh well. Crystal Alien was still in a duel. IV, for all his strange personality, still knew how to play.
III grinned. "Finish him, Crystal Alien!"
"Aztec Mask Golem!"
"Ley Line Power!"
"No," said V, voice stressed in false calm. "I don't think you understand. We have to meet with him immediately."
"I'm sorry," repeated the young man, "Katashiro-san is about to have an appointment with his sponsors."
V rested an arm against the counter and leant forward. "Who do you think your sponsor is, Vanishing Age?"
The young man blinked. Once. Twice. Then he swore under his breath, language most inappropriate for his secreterial role, and quickly ushered them past corridors and – upon seeing the lifts under maintenance and swearing yet again – up a flight of stairs. He knocked on the second door.
It swung open before his fist left the wood.
"No need to knock, Tsukihiko-kun," said the man behind the door. A rough beard stretched across a square chin, and scraggly brown hair fell over a black eyepatch. "I heard your swearing the whole way."
The man turned to V, smiling slightly in apology. "Thank you for your patience." Then, turning to Tsukihiko, he added, "ensure you watch your tongue. There are many other people who could do with your position, Stick Star."
One last grumble, and Tsukihiko disappeared.
The man let them inside. "Please, take a seat."
They did so. The man sat behind a modest desk, V took the seat directly opposite, and both IV and III took armchairs on the edge of the room. Inside the sparsely-furnished office, IV continued looking around him in unabashed curiosity and awe, just as he had done from the moment they'd approached land whilst on the ferry, disembarked, and journeyed all the way to their current destination.
III couldn't blame him; he was curious himself as to what was going on.
"You are Katashiro Ryosuke-san?" asked V.
A nod. "I am." He was older than III expected – then again, he'd been around a family of people where the eldest had been six for the past few years. "I know you come from the Board, but your name...?"
V told him – his real name. Ryosuke's eye widened. V leant back in his chair.
"I take it you knew my aunt, then."
"I do. Sora... she was a beautiful woman. Though I realised too late."
"True beauty is always one of the last aspects to be seen."
Ryosuke nodded again. "Unfortunately. Again, I apologise for calling off the marriage. I take it you aren't here on business?"
"Business? No." V frowned; his eyes glanced briefly in IV's direction. "I'm here to ask about Miyabi Reiji. Or," he added, "as you would have known him: Tsunashi Tokio."
"...Ah," said Ryosuke. "Can I ask why?"
"Can't we meet him directly?"
"You may, but... I'm, ah," a brief pause, "afraid it'll be a little messy. What are you after?"
"We're looking for his son."
"His son? Tsunashi..."
"Tsunashi Takuto-kun, yes."
"Takuto." Ryosuke's features, kind and welcoming, shifted into unreadable territory. "Tsunashi Takuto is here on this island."
V raised his eyebrows. "Really? That would save some trouble."
"Yes, he is. He... arrived a week ago, and is now staying at the dorms of the local high school. Southern Cross High. I can give you the address, if you'd like."
"That would be appreciated."
Ryosuke ripped off a sheet of paper from the pad by the telephone on his desk. He wrote the address down, the end of his ballpoint pen flicking as he did so, then he replaced the pen back into its holder and handed the information across. It was given a cursory scan, before being folded into quarters and tucked in the pocket of a coat.
"Is..." began Ryosuke, cautiously, when V made no sign to leave, "business going well?"
"It's fine," replied V. "Don't worry, there's no reason for us to withdraw our funding."
"Ah. Very well. I – can't imagine trading cards as an area for earning sufficient enough capital."
III tore his eyes away from the conversation when he caught sight of a blur in his peripheral vision. IV had hopped up from his chair, and begun rolling back and forth from the balls of his feet to the tips of his toes.
Just as III turned back to the conversation, another blur of movement drew him to glance away again.
IV had moved to one of the bookshelves on the side, and now hovered around a bunch of flowers. III could see why they would have caught his interest – they were fairly odd-looking in both shape and form, plastic petals and synthetic glossy finish offset by the wooden cup they were held within.
"Do you happen to follow the Circuit by any chance?" came V's voice.
III looked back to the centre of the room, just as Ryosuke answered. "Occasionally. The current Asia Champion is from your family, isn't he? I hear he's very catering to his fans – in fact, I heard an interview with him on the radio some time ago."
V glanced to IV's direction again; this time, Ryosuke's eyes followed. IV had taken one of the flowers out and now played with it in two hands.
"He..." said V, "probably won't be doing any interviews any time soon."
A sudden clatter. IV jumped back. The flowers and their container were spilled across the carpet, IV's hands were empty, and III could see a dark line trailing across the back of one of IV's palms.
"It's a pe~n," IV breathed, English expressing surprise and dismay.
Realisation entered Ryosuke's expression.
"Ah," he said. "I see. That explains everythin—"
—The next moment, Ryosuke's eyes were staring into III's, suddenly very close and filled with strange concern. That was when III felt unfamiliar pressure against his forehead, and noticed the golden mask positioned atop Ryosuke's nose. His own sight, too, was now limited; when he realised he also had a mask on, Ryosuke's hand had already moved away.
"Are you alright?"
The question wasn't directed specifically toward III. Both V and IV had masks on, also, strange pointed things with large, protruding noses. The world around them was grey. Everything had stopped; there was nothing but silence.
III lifted a hand to his own mask and bumped into the nose immediately.
"Don't," said Ryosuke, when III made to take it off. "Otherwise you cannot be aware during Zero Time."
"Zero Time?" asked III.
V was the one who answered. "One of the problems hindering the corporation's successes. It's related to business. You can remove the mask if you don't want to watch."
III shook his head. "I'll keep it, nii-sama."
"If you'd like," came the reply. "We will soon appear in a public area; the two of you, remain silent and don't draw any attention. They should not know we are here. Is that clear?"
"Yes, nii-sama," said III.
IV shrugged. "Sure."
Then the ground melted away. Rainbows replaced greys. The four of them, enclosed within a single bubble yet still standing on the office's floor, hovered in the air. They were one bubble of hundreds – all the inhabitants were anonymous, their masks glinting from sunless light.
That was when III noticed an elaborate structure in the sky. Golden interlocked gears, four panels; three revolving; and floating far beyond any of the bubbles' reach.
He'd opened his mouth to ask what it was when a voice interrupted.
"Oh, not again."
Between IV standing beside him and where the voice originated below – from the only person standing upon the floor.
Then the whiplash hit him from moving his head too fast. His mask fell to the ground. Luckily, because they still had their carpet, nobody noticed. If they did, they would have seen pink hair and a hand rubbing against a neck as III leant down to put it on again.
"Sorry, V–nii-sama," he whispered. "But... um, V–nii-sama?"
V turned toward him. He didn't speak, though his head tilted to show he was listening. Suddenly, III noticed how the mask enhanced authority in the tall, stiff-backed figure of his eldest brother, and felt the wave of power wash across him.
Even so, he continued. "Is that...?"
"Tsunashi Takuto," confirmed V. "Our cousin."
Tsunashi Takuto, hand on hip, threw his other hand out in the air.
"So?" came the voice again. III was floored by how similar the inflection in the words and the sharpness to the gestures matched how IV would normally be. "Who's it gonna be?"
"I challenge you, Tauburn!" The voice, this time female, belonged to a humanoid machine with pink chrome for armour and ball-joints for flexibility. It also stood some thirty metres tall. "Peshent and I will take you down!"
"Heh, alright. You want my fanservice?" asked Takuto. "I'll give you my fanservice. Apprivoise!"
III gave up trying to find words. He would only remember it as the most fabulouseriffic, splenderouspiffic transformation sequence he'd ever seen; starbursts of light and power, incomparable radiance, and a majestic white coat sweeping in invisible wind. At some point, Takuto's fringe had garnered a golden sheen, only furthering his likeness to IV; were it not for the slightly more saturated shades, III would have said it was IV himself standing within the weightless orb, piloting his own machine as if it were his own arms and legs.
"Fanservice the stage!" said Takuto; "Galactic Pretty Boy: Tauburn!"
"He's a Galactic Pretty Boy?" said V, suddenly, spinning to Ryosuke for answers.
Ryosuke nodded. "Mark of the Tau. Passed on from Tokio's father."
"Hey," said IV. "What's a Galactic Pretty Boy?"
"Nothing important," said V.
III knew this wasn't the case, and by the look on his face IV didn't think it was unimportant either, but III was glad to see that IV kept his mouth shut instead of asking further. Sometimes they didn't need to know about the business end of things.
A flash of crimson light had him drawn to the sight below.
"This time, I'm going to win! Star Sword – Rubis!"
"Star Sword – Emeraulde! Saphir!"
And then they clashed. The clang of heavy metal against concrete rang with each step, despite the ripples that bloomed on the stone sea. The speeds of both machines were beyond plausibility – were it not for the afterimages from glowing blades and the fantastic light show, III could have said they'd disappeared entirely.
"This fanservice is over!" said Takuto. "Tau Galaxy Beam!"
A flash of cerulean light, then the machine called Peshent exploded. Its remains soared into the sky, then there was an explosion once more.
—the rainbows disappeared. The space vanished. The four were in the office once more, no where nearly as colourful or interesting than Zero Time. But they were on Earth, aware, and the faint sounds of traffic outside the window meant the rest of the world was aware too.
By the time III removed the mask and placed it on the desk, V had been conversing with Ryosuke. Judging by the look on their faces they were still talking about some business or other. IV, on the other hand, had already started bouncing on his feet beside the doorway.
"Can we go exploring now?" said IV.
III blinked. "Exploring?" There may have been an undercurrent of hope in his voice. He'd spotted a mountain surrounded by forest on their way there, the type that reeked of fascinating finds.
V stopped saying whatever he was saying. He paused to nod to Ryosuke, the type of dismissal, and Ryosuke bowed back.
Then V spoke. "There's no time to go exploring."
The responses were in the form of simultaneous cries.
"We already found what we came to find and I packed for a week!"
"But it looks like such a cool island!"
"No," said V, looking at each of them in turn. "Tron's plans must take precedent. We will visit our cousin, then go back to Heartland."
"C-cousin—?" IV stared. "We have a cousin?"
Tsunashi Takuto was not at the school dorms. Rather, after V had a few words with a rather pretty girl with bubblegum pink hair pulled in twin tails, they were directed to the Shindo household some fifteen minutes down the way.
They didn't need to even approach the large, vast grounds, to find what they were looking for.
"—nothing wrong!" came a voice over the trees. Takuto's voice.
"Nothing?" said a female. "After what you did to Ruri? You were better than this, Takuto-kun!"
"She was so excited to go on a date with you! And now she won't go to school after you gave her that 'fanservice' of yours—"
"Fanservice is my motto!"
"Well you can take your fanservice and—"
A petite blonde broke off mid-rant after the three of them turned the corner and came into view. She jumped when she saw them, her cheeks flushed pink, whereas a young man stiffened behind her. III noticed the two maids standing to either side of the front door tensed rather unnaturally at the man's reaction.
Takuto simply turned to look at the source of the interruption without reaction, eyes lazily half-open – IV, in comparison, was staring wide-eyed at the clouds in the sky.
There was silence for a few moments before V spoke, as if he hadn't noticed the awkward nature of the pause. He probably didn't.
"You are Tsunashi Takuto-kun?" asked V.
V turned back to the blonde. "I would like to apologise for my cousin's behaviour, Agemaki-san," – the blonde jumped – "Shindo-san."
The young man, presumably called Shindo, placed a hand protectively atop Agemaki's shoulder. "Cousin?"
"Correct," said V. "I don't wish to intrude, but we overheard the last part of your conversation—can I presume his behaviour has changed dramatically, for no reason?"
"Yes," said Agemaki, slowly.
"How do you know that?" said Shindo.
"Our family..." said V, then paused. "Our family line doesn't have the most... stable genetic pool. Coupled with forces beyond mortal control, accidents tend to occur."
Agemaki blinked. "Accidents?"
"Oh, so you're my cousin?"
At the sudden voice, everyone who had not previously been paying attention to IV suddenly did. And for good reason; IV had stopped staring at the clouds and his attention now diverted to Takuto.
Takuto ignored the outstretched hand. "I don't have a cousin."
"No," said IV, grinning slowly. "You have three cousins."
There wasn't a reply.
"Don't worry," said IV. "I didn't have a clue either! Nice to meet you – I'd tell you my real name but I shunned it a while ago, so you can call me IV—"
III could never be sure what followed. He was only aware of a sudden spark, a heavy crackle, the sensation of a giant something shifting and then—
"—What the heck?"
Ignoring the rest of them, IV pat himself down rather self-consciously. He ran his fingers through his hair, he pulled down his sleeves – and stared at the dark line trailing across the back of his hand.
"No," he said, "what the real fu—"
He broke off. Across from him, Takuto grinned sheepishly. "Hi."
"We're done," said V. "Let's go."
By the time III spun to look, V had turned around and begun walking away. III spun back to address IV. "Welcome back, nii-sama."
IV groaned. "I don't want to know."
This was going to be complete derp but herp happened and it actually kinda(kinda) makes sense now wow
Hmm, there's not enough Takuto. Maybe I'll use this story as a compilation of oneshots. Rather tempting. Who knows?