Horseshoes and Hand-grenades

Author: Green Phantom Queen

Rated: T/M

Summary: After being killed by Kamen Rider Meteor, Kengo succeeds in reviving Gentaro. Unfortunately, he could not bring back Gentaro's true form. His soul bonded with the dark recesses of Cosmic Energy and the Magnet States that protected him from death. Battle-scarred and angry, Fourze only has one thing on his mind: Revenge.

I: 18-5-22-5-14-7-5

"Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades"

-Proverb

Kengo Utahoshi looked in awe.

In the Kamen Rider Club's base the Rabbit Hatch, the remains of an abandoned space station that was once used by his father, Kengo could only look in amazement and feel tears forming in his eyes at what he accomplished. He did the impossible - he brought the dead back to life.

He watched Gentaro Kisaragi slowly open his eyes. Gentaro, who met his demise through the dreaded one-inch punch just hours ago, was alive. After all of the countless tries Kengo took in restarting his friend's heart - which involved donning a robotic hand that drained him of energy with each use - and after reaching out for his friend within the realm of the afterlife through their established bond of friendship with the power of the Cosmic Switch, he did it. Gentaro Kisaragi was alive.

Amanogawa High's geography teacher, and newly self-appointed faculty adviser to the Kamen Rider Club, Chuta Ohsugi, wept tears of joy. A student under his care came back to life even though it seemed impossible. It was a miracle. He could just wrap his arms around the student who would befriend everyone in Amanogawa High and kiss him. How the Cosmic Switch resurrected Gentaro didn't matter; all that mattered was Gentaro Kisaragi was no longer a corpse, and could start befriending everyone again.

"You did it, Utahoshi!" said Ohsugi, hugging Kengo. "It's a miracle! Kisaragi's alive and well!"

"I know, sensei," Kengo whispered, wiping the tears forming in his eyes. "I know..."

Gentaro slowly sat up with a groan, his face covered with bruises from his scuffle with Ryusei Sakuta, aka Kamen Rider Meteor. His gelled pompadour reverted into its original form of black hair that framed his equally black eyes. His red shirt was torn, and his black motorcycle jacket was also covered with holes made from Kamen Rider Meteor Storm ripping and tearing through him. There wasn't any blood - due to the finishing blow being the one-inch punch to the heart - but Gentaro placed a hand on his chest as if to defend himself. The last conscious thought in his mind was how he was glad to help Ryusei, even if doing so meant his own death. Then, everything went black.

But now...now he was alive and able to finish what he started.

Kengo's eyes watered with more tears; he did it. The Cosmic Switch and the bonds of friendship Gentaro forged with the Kamen Rider Club were enough to bring him back to life. His father's words were correct: the connections humans created with one another become enough to do the impossible. Resurrecting a person from the afterlife could be done.

"Kisa… Gentaro," Kengo corrected himself, shaking his head. He placed a hand over Gentaro's, blinking away his tears. "You're alive. You're here..."

Gentaro shifted his gaze to the relieved teen but otherwise didn't say anything. Kengo saw those black eyes - those eyes that were usually filled with elation and mirth in making people smile - devoid of emotion. They didn't reveal anything that resembled the Gentaro of the old. Instead, it was if Kengo was looking into the eyes of a porcelain doll in Gentaro Kisaragi's likeness.

"Gentaro…" Kengo repeated. His voice became agitated as he worried for his friend's well-being. "A...are you alright? Can you hear me? Say something!"

Gentaro still didn't say anything. He just kept staring into Kengo's eyes, tilting his head to the side. There was this feeling inside Kengo's mind that screamed that Gentaro was dangerous, but his heart would not admit that his best friend did not return as he originally was. He had to return as the "man who would befriend everyone"; it wouldn't have been the real Gentaro Kisaragi if that was true.

"Kisaragi!" Ohsugi cried, wrapping his arms around the teen. He sobbed on Gentaro's shoulder and stroked the teen's hair. "You're alive! Ryusei didn't kill you! You're here and—"

Gentaro's eyes narrowed as he pushed the geography teacher off of him. He then stood up and stared at his hands. There was some silence as he just stood there, his body trembling with absolute rage. He clenched his hands into fists before letting out a low snarl, sounding like a savage beast going for its prey.

"Ryusei Sakuta," Gentaro repeated, his voice hollow. Kengo felt chills fall down his spine—this being looked like the same Gentaro Kisaragi he knew, but that voice told him otherwise. He turned to Kengo and grabbed onto his shirt so the two were face to face. It was then that Kengo could see that something was just so off about his best friend. "Where is he? And where are the others?"

"I...I don't know," Kengo replied, shaking his head. He felt his heart beat against his chest at this new Gentaro. "The last I saw him, he was with Aries Zodiarts and the unconscious members of the Kamen Rider Club. I was the only one who managed to escape due to someone calling himself Tachibana. Gentaro, are you…"

"Leave me be," Gentaro tossed Kengo to the side and placed a hand over his eyes. "I must do this on my own."

He lowered his hand as his eyes began to glow. Kengo and Ohsugi saw that the color of these eyes resembled rubies. No, the color was darker than the shine of a ruby. It was the color of blood. Those blood red depths drew the two deeper and deeper into Gentaro's spell. Gentaro raised a hand into the air as if he was a king addressing his subjects.

"Close your eyes and forget what you have just seen," he hissed, lowering his hand. With that motion, the eyes of his victims also closed. "In your eyes, I have died by the hands of both Ryusei Sakuta and the Aries Zodiarts. My corpse is lying down on the bench you see before you, and the Cosmic Switch failed to revive me. No matter what you do, I will never be revived. There is nothing that you were able to do in order to bring me back from the afterlife. Do you understand?"

"Yes, master," the two replied. Gentaro smiled, although his smile was not the bright and friendly smile he usually wore on his face.

"Excellent. Now, when I snap my fingers, you'll forget that this conversation ever happened." Gentaro looked at the Fourze Driver wrapped around his torso and pulled out the Cosmic Switch. He then placed it into Kengo's hands as replaced Switch 39-Stamper in the middle left slot for a brand new switch and inserting Switch 1-Rocket back to its original post on the far right. Then, with a snap of his fingers, Kengo and Ohsugi woke from their trance.

Kengo's brown eyes went glassy as he saw the empty bench in front of him and then back to the Cosmic Switch in his hand. "No…" He whispered. "Kisaragi!" His hands shook over an imaginary corpse. "Wake up! Please wake up! Open your eyes! KISARAGI!"

Gentaro's eyes flickered to a shade of black as walked out of the Rabbit Hatch, hearing Kengo's anguish throughout the Cosmic Energy tunnel. At the other end of the tunnel was the locker that lead the Kamen Rider Club to the Rabbit Hatch. He had half a mind to burn it in a cloud of fire and smoke...but that would come later. He had something more important to do.

A small smile graced his lips—a smile that showed satisfaction at what he accomplished in such a short amount of time. He then pulled the four tabs of the Fourze driver down, hearing its countdown.

3…

2…

1!

"Henshin," he whispered, pulling the lever.

0-0-0-0-0-

Ryusei Sakuta fell to his knees, his whole body screaming for him to stop fighting. Surrounding him were the Dustards that Yamada Tatsumori, the self-proclaimed King of Subaruboshi High and the Aries Zodiarts, summoned to deal with him and the Kamen Rider Club. The Kamen Rider Club, the students from Amanogawa High whom Gentaro befriended, the people who helped fight against the Zodiarts, could do nothing except watch their savior stand his ground and fight off their common foe.

Yuki, JK, Tomoko, Shun and Miu, all dressed in tan clothes and bandannas wrapped around their sleeves, from Yamada's original plan of the five killing off disobedient students, were still tied to the row of metal poles, unable to do anything but watch the man in front of them make his vows to protect them. Ryusei could not ask for their forgiveness for what he accomplished, but if protecting them could atone for his crimes, then so be it. He would not go down without a fight.

He dodged the swing of a metal staff and jabbed his elbow into the gut of another Dustard. His tan school uniform was coated in dust and his short brown hair was matted with sweat. Dirt was smeared all over his face, yet his eyes showed nothing but determination to defend the captives tied to their posts. He would never be forgiven for his actions, but protecting the Kamen Rider Club would be a step in the right direction to forgive himself of his crimes.

The black cloaked ninja-like Dustards continued their assault as their master looked on with absolute glee. Yamada Tatsumori was pleased at the spectacle, laughing as if a jester from a far-away land arrived for his very own amusement.

"Yes, Ryusei," he exclaimed. "Show me all of your pain and suffering! Give more to your magnificent king!"

Yamada continued to laugh as he watched the martial arts exhibition unfold in front of his eyes. Ryusei kept silent as he gave a quick roundhouse kick to a Dustard on his left. He swiftly dodged the attack of another Dustard on his right before punching it in the gut. He rolled out the way of a third attack but couldn't react to a Dustard kicking him in the face. He toppled onto the ground with a thud, his body no longer able to support him.

"Ryusei!" Tomoko gasped, seeing the former Kamen Rider Meteor unable to stand. Yamada laughed harder as another Dustard landed a powerful kick to Ryusei's ribs. With his curled ram horns, and gold and silver body trimmed with a wool cape, the Aries Zodiarts looked as if he was a distant relative to Satan himself. The only difference was that this devil carried no pitchfork, but rather a staff to induce a permanent sleep onto all of his subjects whenever he wanted. With that staff, he could do whatever he wanted. The whole world was in his hands.

"Well, Sakuta," Aries Zodiarts announced, approaching the fallen martial arts expert, poking him with the scepter in hand. "It seems that you've surpassed both your limit and your usefulness." He raised his Coppelius scepter into the air, a hand on its rolling cylinder. "But now it's time for the curtains to fall down and for me to end this little drama once and for all. And then, I think it is time for me to enact the 'School Wars' that I have been waiting to direct for quite some time. It'll be a performance that no one will ever forget."

"Not...yet..." Ryusei gasped, rising to his knees. He felt his heart pounding in his ears. "I'm...not finished..."

His arms began to tremble as he collapsed onto the gravel road once more, too tired to move. Yamada let out another laugh.

"Do not lie to yourself, you peasant," he chuckled. "It's time for you to have a nice long nap where you can dream about how you wore that pretentious, little, goody-goody mask all this time while masking the true monster that was inside of you. Good night, Ryusei Sakuta. Sweet dreams."

Ryusei closed his eyes, knowing the inevitable. He failed. He failed to revive Jiro, and he failed to be a hero to the Kamen Rider Club. All he could do now was be trapped in an eternal sleep so that he could spend time in his dreams to atone for everything he had done.

"I'm sorry..." he whispered. "Jiro...Gentaro...everyone...I'm so sorry..."

Just then, the sound of gunfire alerted him to someone entering the area. Ryusei's eyes opened as he saw someone flying in the sky, a rocket attached to their right arm and a gatling gun attached to their left leg. He blinked to make sure his eyes weren't playing tricks on him—it was impossible...

"Gen-chan!" Yuki cried, seeing Kamen Rider Fourze flying around and obliterating Dustards. "You're alive!"

"That's Gentaro alright," said Miu, a smile appearing on her face. "Nothing's impossible for him."

Kamen Rider Fourze descended onto the ground, the Dustards dissipating into Cosmic Energy. As the rocket and Gatling gun faded away, he turned his orange eyed stare to his immobilized friends before turning away from them. There was some silence before he spoke.

"I'm not alive," he said in a solemn tone. "I'm still dead."

"Eh?"

"What?"

"It can't be..."

"Oops..."

The Kamen Rider Club looked in confusion. In front of them was Gentaro Kisaragi, their leader, alive and well. How could he proclaim that he was "still dead" when they saw him taking down Dustards and responding to a simple question? It didn't make any sense.

Yamada saw the revived Kamen Rider Fourze and snarled. "Ryusei!" he roared at the collapsed teen. "What is the meaning of this?! How is he still alive?! I specifically told you to kill him!"

"I died by the hands of Ryusei Sakuta," Gentaro explained, turning to Yamada. He lowered his gaze and added, "But I returned to the land of the living thanks to my master's blessing. In return, I only have to follow his commands."

"And what, if I may ask, are you supposed to do?"

"To start, I must kill you."

Gentaro replaced the switches on the far left and right of the Driver and pulled out the N/S Magphone. He split them into two Astroswitches, inserting the two halves into the now empty slots of the Fouze Driver, the Driver chanting, "N/S Magnet" in succession. The Kamen Rider pressed the buttons on top.

N/S Magnet On

A pair of large horseshoe magnets emitted beams of electromagnetic energy that transformed Fourze into his bulky Magnet States. However, unlike the shiny pristine silver warrior that fought Aries a few hours ago, the armor was damaged with pieces of electricity and metal sticking out, the most notable sign of damage being the jagged line across the neck as if someone tried to open the helm with a large can opener. The Magnet Cannons on his shoulders spewed out clouds of black Cosmic Energy while Fourze's orange eyes were now bright red.

"Your plan to have me dead and out of the way was very clever, Yamada," Gentaro noted, shaking his head. "And you were just so close in fulfilling your plans. Oh well, you know what they say, 'Close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades.'"

"This doesn't sound like our Gentaro," said JK, turning to his fellow Club Members. "I'm getting scared..."

Yamada stared at the fractured Magnet States and shook his head. Pointing at him with the Coppelius Scepter, the Zodiarts noted, "Your form is inferior to mine in every way! How will you defeat the King of Subaruboshi High? With a wave of my hand, you'll fall into a never-ending sleep as I take the pleasure in killing you and your so-called 'friends!'"

"Gentaro!" Shun exclaimed, still struggling to escape the ropes binding him. "Get out of here! You're going to get yourself killed once more! Save yourself!"

Gentaro didn't say anything. Instead, he just bowed his head, his hands squeezing the triggers of the Magnet switches. Yamada laughed.

"That's what I thought." he noted. "Now it's time for me to-"

The eyes of Magnet States Fourze began to glow as Gentaro lifted his head. From the cracks of the armor, a geyser of Cosmic Energy burst forth. It slowly took on a serpentine shape and flew toward the unprepared Zodiarts, coiling around its body.

"W-what's happening?!" Yamada screamed, fear spreading throughout his body for the first time. "H...how dare you attack your king like that!" He raised the Coppelius Scepter, ready to emit the golden mist that placed all of Subaruboshi High under his rule and freed Ryusei's friend from his irreversible coma. The mist sputtered out into a small spritz, but there was no other effect. He looked on in horror, his voice trembling when he found his secret weapon useless. "W...what? My powers! How...What...are you?!"

The energy began to grow a serpent head and tail, its eyes a pair of Red Giant stars. The snake let out an evil laugh that sent shivers down everyone's spines. Fourze also copied the laugh, grinning from behind his armor.

"We are Ophiuchus," The serpent and Fourze answered back. "And we are your grand finale!"

The serpent opened its mouth, revealing a pair of glowing, white fangs. Yamada looked on in horror, seeing nothing but an empty abyss about to swallow him up.

"N...no!" he cried out. "Please don't kill me! I didn't mean to cause all of this! I'll do anything! Please spare..."

The serpent swallowed him whole. As the serpent's jaws closed in on him, the Zodiarts exploded, its Switch flying toward Gentaro. He caught it in his hands and threw it onto the ground, stomping it with his foot. The switch shattered when it made contact with his heel and Cosmic Energy escaped its confines, the energy then flying into the cracks of Fourze's shattered Magnet States. The Cosmic Energy serpent disappeared, leaving behind the unconscious form of Yamada Tatsumori.

Seeing that his work was done, Fourze flipped the tabs of the Fourze Driver up. In a pillar of light, the armor faded away, revealing the teenage boy simply known as Gentaro Kisaragi. Ryusei slowly stood up, limping toward the formerly deceased Kamen Rider. Gentaro Kisaragi was alive; Ryusei could apologize for being such a horrible person. He didn't mean to be so aloof to Fourze; all he wanted was to get along and be friends. He let his determination to save Jiro destroy everything between them, the Kamen Rider Club, and his own best friend.

"Gentaro..." he whispered, a hand trembling in the air. "I'm...sorry..."

Gentaro stared into Ryusei's eyes, seeing the emotions of regret, remorse, guilt and fear in those depths. He took a good long look at them before turning heel and walking off, not even turning around when Ryusei collapsed to his knees. The Kamen Rider Club noticed this - Gentaro didn't even extend his hand of friendship to Ryusei to forgive him for what he caused. This was unlike the man who made friends with everyone...

"Gen-chan!" Yuki exclaimed, still wriggling around against the ropes. "What happened to you? How did you come back to life? Why are you-"

"I'm not here," Gentaro replied, his eyes glowing red. He lifted his gaze so he could see the frightened expressions on the Kamen Rider Club. There was hesitation in his voice before he smiled and continued. "I'm dead. Yamada was defeated by a blast of Cosmic Energy and nothing more. Break the news to my grandfather of my death and then, move on with your lives. I died, but you should live on for my sake."

"Gentaro..." Ryusei whispered, seeing the bodies of the Kamen Rider Club turn limp. "What's going on? What are you..."

"And as for you..." Gentaro interrupted, turning to face the exchange student. His eyes were back to normal as he continued. "I suggest that you get this memorized: You killed me. I'm never coming back to life. I died. No amount of science or magic will fix what you have instigated. I am not allowed to find peace until I complete my mission.

"If you have any sanity, you go to your friend, you tell him that you were forgiven, and you hide. You are no longer the Kamen Rider that came to save me and the Kamen Rider Club from the Zodiarts, and now you no longer have the means to fight. You are the target of my hatred and my vengeance...but I shall spare you. After all," Gentaro narrowed his eyes and smiled as he added, "We're friends."

Ryusei watched Gentaro disappear in a cloud of Cosmic Energy. He then turned to see the Kamen Rider Club stir from the trance and look around, confused as to what happened. The former Kamen Rider Meteor returned his gaze to where Gentaro once stood, repeating those words in his mind.

What have I unleashed? he thought to himself.