“Those damned Lupinrangers…”
Keiichiro balled his hand into a fist, his body shaking as he resisted the urge to hit the desk. A Gangler had attacked a nearby city, proclaiming how it was the top bully among the rest of the Ganglers. The Patorangers were having trouble with the monster, who thought it would be hilarious to give the three wedgies.
And if it couldn’t get any worse, the Lupinrangers appeared.
LupinRed had taken one look at them, Tsukasa was the only one who wasn’t pulling at her suit, before bursting into laughter. Yellow quickly joined in while Blue had turned his head away.
Keiichiro burned underneath his helmet, a curse on the tip of his tongue.
Once the Lupinrangers finished the bouts of laughing, they made quick work of the Gangler, even getting the aid of Good Striker to finish them off once the monster grew big.
The Patorangers went back to their headquarters, rubbing their behinds the entire way.
Tsukasa pushed away from her desk, her chair swiveling until she faced the center of the room, “Don’t worry, Keiichiro. Next time, we’ll be prepared for the next Gangler attack.”
“Tsukasa-senpai is right!” Sakuya piped up from his own desk. He leaned back, hands folded behind his head, “Just think, if the Lupinrangers had gotten there first, they would have gotten the wedgies!”
A clang rang out as Keiichiro got to his feet. From her position, Tsukasa let a small grimace rest on her face. Without responding to either of his teammates, Keiichiro exited the room.
Sakuya sat up, arms falling to his side. “What did I say?”
The door to Jurer swung open, revealing Keiichiro still in his GSPO uniform.
The bistro was empty save for the three workers. Touma turned away, busy whisking something in a mixing bowl as Umika pursed her lips together, shielding her own face with a tray.
Only Kairi strode forward, smile wide on his lips, gesturing for the cop to enter. “Kei-chan! Welcome!” He pushed him towards the Patorangers’ regular table.
Keiichiro only let himself nod as he took his usual seat. “Coffee, please.”
“Coming right up!”
Shifting in his seat so that he could see the trio, Keiichiro registered the decorations spread out on the walls.
“Are you celebrating something?”
Kairi didn’t miss a step, taking the cup of coffee from Touma and setting it before the policeman. He kept a smile plastered on his face. “Oh, those aren’t for anything.”
“It’s Kairi’s birthday tomorrow!” Umika piped up from behind Kairi, her grin showing off her dimples.
“Oh!” Keiichiro sat up straight in his chair, “Happy birthday, Kairi-kun.”
Kairi let out a groan, smile sliding off his own face as he crossed his arms, head turned the other way. “Yeah,” he pursed his lips, “thanks.”
“Do you have any plans?”
“Nah,” Kairi rubbed the toe of his shoes against the floor, “Just gonna be here.”
“We’re having a party!”
No sooner did Umika make the proclamation did she take off, narrowing avoiding Kairi’s hand. She leaned back against the counter, just out of reach from Touma.
“Why not come?”
A trio of voices spoke in unison.
“I couldn’t possibl—“
Umika held up her phone, her screen showing her text messages. “Sakuya-san already said he would come, and so did Tsukasa-san.”
Touma sighed deeply, before holding up his bowl and resuming his stirring.
“Well,” Keiichiro finished off his coffee quickly, placing his cup back on the tray and then standing to his feet, “I’ll see you three tomorrow then.”
He followed Umika to the register, paying for his drink, and then waved as he walked out the door.
A Gangler attacked the next day.
The Patorangers arrived late, the Lupinrangers already engaged in the fight. The thieves dodged attack after attack, but it became more and more obvious they hadn’t grabbed the Lupin Collection piece yet.
“Come on!” LupinYellow held up the Scissor and Blade Dial Fighters, activating the Scissor Shield and Blade Boomerang. “We don’t have time for this!” She swung the boomerang, hitting the monster square in the chest.
The Gangler waved off the attack, sending the aftershock right back at Yellow. Managing to dodge it just in time, she fell into formation with her fellow thieves.
Keiichiro held up his VS Changer, as Sakuya and Tsukasa fell in line at his sides.
“Don’t move, Gangler! Lupinrangers!”
“Aahhh.” LupinRed tilted his head, resting his own VS Changer over his shoulder, “If it isn’t the cops.”
The nonchalant tone in his voice had Keiichiro’s blood boiling. With a burst of extra gusto, he slid his Trigger Machine into his Changer, transforming without the other two.
“By the authority of the Global Police, we’re stopping you by force!”
Running forward, Keiichiro made a beeline right for LupinRed, who dodged, landing on a nearby building rooftop.
“I thought you were here to stop the Gangler, Officer-san?”
“I can do that and arrest you!”
LupinRed hunched over the edge of the roof, “You could try.”
“I will!” Keiichiro raised his VS Changer, when a blast went off behind him.
“Yes!” Yellow jumped in place as Blue held the Lupin Collection piece the Gangler must have had in its safe. It looked like a sword, but the markings on the blade gave it the appearance of a ruler.
“Well, Officer-san,” LupinRed lifted the buckle of his belt, a wire shooting off from it, “We’ll leave the Gangler to you!” And then he, and his friends, were gone.
The Gangler was easy to defeat, once the Lupin Collection piece it had was taken by the Lupinrangers. Good Striker arrived just after Gauche used her own Collection piece to make the Gangler grow into a giant. With the use of Trigger Machine Biker, the monster went up in an explosion.
PatKaiser separated, and Good Strike took off in a random direction. The Patorangers stared after him. Keiichiro let out a sigh.
“If we hurry, we’ll be able to make in to Jurer in time for the party.”
Tsukasa gave Keiichiro a side look, her arms folded over her chest.
“That’s right!” Sakuya bound forward, tugging at Keiichiro’s sleeve, “We have to hurry, senpai!”
Keiichiro pulled his arm back, taking in a deep breath before nodding, “Yeah. Let’s go.”
The party was in full swing by the time the Patorangers showed up at Jurer. Touma was hovering over the display of foods, while Umika and Kairi were joking with each other.
At the sound of the bell jingling, the trio turned to the door.
“Welcome!” Umika ran forward, stopping just short of Tsukasa, “We’re so glad you could make it!”
Tsukasa nodded, a smile gentle on her face, “We’re glad to be here.” She glanced beside her, at Keiichiro, who had his hands behind his back.
Sakuya clapped a hand on Keiichiro’s back, “Come on, senpai!”
Keiichiro’s cheeks darkened as he pulled his hands out from their hiding spot. In his hands was a simple red shopping bag. He held it out in Kairi’s direction.
“Happy birthday, Kairi-kun.”
“Oh.” Kairi turned his head, so he was looking at the wall. He scratched the side of his face, “Thanks Kei-chan. You didn’t have to.”
“What is it?” Umika leaned forward, as if to peek inside.
“Umika!” Touma gave the girl a stern look.
“It’s nothing,” Keiichiro reached inside the bag, pulling out a vinyl record. “Just a little something I hoped Kairi-kun would enjoy.”
Turning back so he was looking forward once more, Kairi stepped forward, taking the vinyl in his hands.
“Isn’t this important to you?”
Keiichiro shrugged, keeping his eyes on Kairi’s face. “I thought you would like it. And maybe, if you want, we could listen to it together.”
The rest of the group had ventured over to the food table, where Touma was in the middle of cutting the birthday cake in slices so everyone could start eating. At the question though, his hand slipped, cutting a piece bigger than the rest by accident.
All eyes went to the two men who still stood by the door, a vinyl record between them.
“Sure. We cou—we can do that.”