Filled with Good Works

Hi Face, This is Wall. Let’s be Friends

No matter how many times he actually did it, Dustin couldn’t help but feel incredibly awesome every time he ended up dashing across a set of rooftops, flipping and jumping to compensate for the changing heights before continuing his sprint dash towards (what was usually) a battle; the streets and alleys far below disappearing in a series of black and grey blurs.

Seriously, it was the coolest; probably the closest to feeling like Superman he would ever get in his lifetime (if Superman ever decided on an all-yellow costume change which really, would be awesome) and despite the lack of like, flying ability, Dustin had learned to savor every moment.

Even the moments that followed him temporarily abandoning his injured teammate/good-friend/sort-of-brother to face the wilds of the world all on his lonesome.

Nope, nope- he couldn’t do that right now. The yellow ranger didn’t like it, at all, hated the idea of splitting up just as much as Hunter probably hated the idea of being left behind (which if you thought about it, was a frighteningly large amount, because of pride and stuff), but they were out of options. If it had been left up to Dustin he probably would have dawdled and worried and eventually crumbled under the weight of Hunter’s stubborn insistence, his argument of “Yeah, sure I’m totally falling over and can’t actually walk on my own, but who really needs to do those things anyway, right? Right?” that no one should buy that Dustin would buy because he had this thing about doubting his friends that he never wanted to do.

Luckily for him and Hunter, and Hunter’s ribs, Dustin decided to abandon his usual methods of coping and went straight into the mindset of “What would Shane do in this situation?”.

Aside from making out with and then shaking Hunter senseless for the impressive amount of damage the older Bradley had managed to accumulate in such a short time span, Dustin was pretty sure he had done the red ranger proud.

The blond would grumble and complain about it later, but for now Hunter could rest where he was safe, in a place Dustin could actually remember which would prevent him from going into the not-so-fun exercise of “Where’d I put my teammate?”. The fact that Dustin seemed to be the only one who ever played that game was about as discomforting as it always was, but on the bright side, it did earn him a few funny stories. It wasn’t much, but it eased the embarrassment some, so Dustin would take it.

You sort of had to take life’s compromises when you were lucky enough to get them. It was one of the things Dustin had learned early on that helped him cope with life being all…life-y. Chaotic. Sporadic. Unpredictable. There were plenty of words to choose from (most of which were Cam-approved); there was no need to settle on one label.

The thought of Cam was unavoidable, mostly because the green ranger and all green-ranger-related things had sort of merged into a constant loop of background noise underneath Dustin’s other thoughts around the time they had started dating. Always present, always expected, but muffled and un-insistent, until Dustin really thought about them and then it was game on because where was Cam? Was he still in the middle of an epic space battle? Was he okay? Were the others okay? And speaking of the others wasn’t Dustin supposed to-?

“Get an update” were almost certainly Blake’s exact words when Dustin had taken off. It was the entire reason they had split up in the first place. It wasn’t to save Hunter- not that Dustin ever a thing against saving his teammate’s/good-friend’s/sort-of-brother’s life, or that he couldn’t believe how unbelievable lucky he had been to manage that particular escapade and would forever be grateful for whatever part of the cosmos had allowed him that opportune timing, but it hadn’t been the actual goal. It had just been the thing that distracted Dustin the most.

He didn’t beat himself up about it though. Having to listen to Hunter’s…not-quite successful attempts at breathing had been enough of a concern for Dustin to forget his duty, and then having to play hardball…

He had gotten the gun, which was good; saved Hunter, which was better, and still managed to be on his way back towards the action in less than ten minutes.

A decent detour, if you thought about it.

Just…missing some things.

Whatever; Dustin would worry about that stuff later. He probably didn’t even really need to call Shane and Tori, Blake had said it was just if Dustin was able to- Except here he was, not an enemy in sight, with a body that was perfectly able-

It didn’t take long for the brunette to find a nice little hidey-hole (another, because he had serious skills today) amongst a sea of heavy-duty vents and pipes that spider-webbed across a rooftop. Dustin assumed it was yet another industrial building. Seemed like there was a lot of those hanging around. It didn’t matter too much though; it was a perfect hiding spot for the ninja on-the-go and provided enough protection for Dustin to power-down without worry, Quantum Defender (he could practically hear Hunter and Blake’s relieved sighs in his mind for using the proper name) still in hand.

The next step was locating his cell phone.

The step after that was to patiently listen to his call get pushed to Shane’s voicemail, and then to Tori’s voicemail, and then to Shane’s again, and then to Tori’s again, and then to-

So…this wasn’t working. Probably because they were suited up, so they wouldn’t have their phones (kind of like Dustin hadn’t, but now he did, so whatever). And the chance of them deciding to take a break to check their messages was…zero. Negative Zero. Imaginary zero, if such a zero existed, and based on what little Dustin had snooped from the mathematical problems Cam dabbled in for fun (so unnatural, but so very, very Cam) was unlikely. Or impossible. Dustin would look into it later.

Okay, so it was a no-go on the phone situation. At least Dustin had tried right? Now he could go back on his merry way and help Blake beat up bad guys with a clean conscience, knowing he had fulfilled the navy ranger’s orders to the best he was able. Which was not. But Dustin had tried, so it still counted. Right.

Anything I can help you with, dude?”

Well speak of detours-not-being-a-complete-waste-of-time; Dustin had made it through to someone.

“Cyber Cam!” Dustin smiled, grateful for the familiar voice, or like…any voice. “Dude, I haven’t heard from you since…”

That unfortunate incident that made team communication so very difficult.

Since you guys blocked me out?”

“Yeah,” Dustin agreed with a sigh, rubbing the back of his head bashfully. “That sounds about right.”

Because it is.”

Cool, Dustin was really glad they had all that sorted out.

“So,” Dustin began loudly, tackling a new topic with enough enthusiasm to make them forget all that old stuff. At least for the moment. “What’s going on?”

You know,” Cyber Cam replied conversationally, sounding amused. “Just your usual stuff. Cam’s still trying to blow up Zurgane and according to the trackers placed in each of the zords-

A response to the whole Toxipod/getting-warped-away-to-an-alternate-not-alternate dimension business that still confused Dustin-

“-the others are already in Silver Hills.”

“Really?” Dustin asked, more from surprise than actual doubt. “You think I would have noticed that.”

“My new lady-friend’s been telling me that things are kind of hectic down there, so I wouldn’t rag on yourself too much dude.”

“I feel like this is the part where I should say ‘New lady friend?’, but I kind of want to get back in on the action and, you know, help with the fighting and stuff. Any chance you could point me in the right direction?”

Even with Cyber Cam’s advanced tech-y-ness, Dustin wasn’t sure if it was possible, but he figured it never hurt to ask.

“Ahh…let me see what I can do bro,” Cyber Cam replied, [cyber-] mind already focusing on the problem. “I’m tracking your cell phone in relation to the zords. Any chance you see a big billboard for orange juice nearby?”

Cautiously, Dustin risked a peak outside of his nest of air vents, scanning the surrounding area until he found what he was looking for. “Dude,” Dustin breathed, smile playing across his features. “How did you know?”

Just accessed some friendly, neighborhood satellite images from my new friend,” Cyber Cam cheerfully replied, combining smugness with awe in a way that should have been more conflicting than it was. “She is totally awesome.”

“You’ll have to tell me more about her later,” Dustin declared, grinning happily for his friend.

He was glad that Cyber Cam had found a new buddy to hang out with. It had to be lonely right? Being the only super-advanced artificial intelligence hanging around.

Now he had someone to talk to that wouldn’t threaten to re-write his programming for being too annoying. That had to be a nice surprise.

Yeah, that’s totally happening,” Cyber Cam agreed, leaving very little room for the idea that this might be debated. “But anyway, if you keep straight, pass that billboard, you’ll be in the thick of things in at least five minutes.”

“Thanks CC, you’re a…”

And then there was that awkward moment when Dustin realized the word “life saver” might be a little too strong in this instance, because it was kind of (if you squinted and looked at it sideways) Cyber Cam’s fault for the restricted communications in the first place.

“Awesome,” Cyber Cam happily finished for him, saving Dustin from an unpleasant pause.

“Yeah,” Dustin agreed, less enthusiastic. “You’re an awesome.”

Works for me.” The program’s chirp didn’t sound all that remorseful, too pleased with itself. “Hey, do you want me to push you through to Cam? He managed to turn off his blocker.”

“Can you do that?” -was Dustin’s first question, overly eager, which was instantly followed by- “Isn’t he busy? I don’t want to distract him or anything.”

Especially if he was in space. That wasn’t the kind of battleground you wanted to risk zord-explosions on. Or in. Whatever the correct wording was.

“Just keep it short and sweet then,” Cyber Cam suggested, bright and undeterred by Dustin’s hesitancy. It was all the warning the yellow ranger got before a buzz of static rang in his ear (which he was pretty sure Cyber Cam did for Dustin’s benefit, as opposed to there actually being static) before he was back online, greeted with a terse-

“What is it now?”

-from regular Cam. Cam original. Cam-prime, Cam-standard, the one-and-only (flesh and blood) Cameron Watanabe.

“CC?” Cam tried again, annoyed but present enough to not sound distracted. Must not be that bad a fight then. “What is it?”

“Just me,” Dustin offered, unable to think of a better answer that was “nothing” because really, that was all he had.

Dust-?” Cam cut himself off so suddenly that Dustin felt an unpleasantly familiar tension settle in his chest, frustrated that he could only listen and not be there to have Cam’s back- but then the green ranger was talking again, sounding safe and whole and not-horribly damaged. “Switch to private communications.”

“Already did dude,” Cyber Cam replied, smug and all knowing. Cam’s response was an irritated sigh, but he wisely chose to say nothing. To Cyber Cam, that is.

“Dustin,” Cam began again, and the yellow ranger was totally listening and not picturing the face of annoyed-Cam, not thinking about the way his lips would stretch into a thin line of disapproval, not-quite a frown- “Are you alright?”

“Never better,” Dustin responded automatically, not even bothering to contemplate another answer. If he thought about it, he might have to lie, and he was okay enough as it was, so his reply was technically true. “I just wanted to check up on you. I uh…know that you’re busy.”

“I am,” Cam agreed, which was- yeah, Dustin knew that, duty before feelings and stuff like that and he shouldn’t have called, but Cam kept talking. “However, since you’re here I’d like to remind you that the deal still stands.”

The tension, the shyness and whatever doubts the brunette had immediately vanished, replaced with a grin and newfound lightness. “You mean the Battle Deal?”

“The very same.”

Dustin hadn’t mentioned it earlier, on the first phone call, but the “Battle Deal” had started as a long-running joke between Cam and him. It began right after Cam had finally gotten his morpher when Dustin suggested, on a whim, that they needed a set of rules to go by if they were ever separated in battle.

It was a joke because the established procedures or “Battle Deal”, as Dustin preferred to call it, consisted of basically obvious things everyone tried to achieve.

Don’t get killed?” Dustin offered, smile wide.

“Or maimed. Try not to get kidnapped-”

“Keep in one piece-”

And, if worst comes to worst-

“And everything falls apart-”

“Blame it all on Cyber Cam.”

Dustin laughed, remembering that addition had been made after the program’s first rogue escapade. “Or Blake,” Dustin suggested. “If he’s close.”

Which was another joke, seeing as they only set the blame on the navy ranger if he hadn’t been involved at all. It made him indignantly sputter more. Sometimes, it even made Hunter smile.

You know, if Dustin had done the blaming.

“Yeah,” Dustin said with a happy sigh. “I remember the deal.”

“Good,” Cam replied. “I’ll stick to it if you will?”


I’ve got to go now,” Cam said, maybe sounding remorseful, maybe frustrated, but Dustin was too elated to notice, too happy he had gotten the Cam-talkin’ that he had. “But remember-

“To stay safe,” Dustin concluded with a firm nod, even though his boyfriend couldn’t see him. “Battle Deal?” he offered in place of a goodbye.

Battle Deal,Cam agreed.

After that the line cut off, leaving Dustin alone in his metal-wrapped hideaway, satisfaction of dutifully following orders a shining beacon in what was otherwise a not-so-pleasant day. He reveled in it for a moment- that and the confirmed knowledge that Cam was still okay and kicking ass- before he was on the move again, suiting up in a yellow flash and taking off at full-speed into the distance, blazing past Cyber Cam’s indicated billboard.

Dustin had the gun, the right direction, the comfort that Hunter was safely sidelined and the knowledge that his teammates were somewhere in front of him, fresh to the battlefield and bright-eyed, preparing to kick some serious tail. And if those things were somehow not enough for Dustin to think that victory could be and definitely was a not-so-distant possibility, then he had to be either crazy, or Hunter.

As the brunette was neither, he didn’t attempt to contain his excitement or hope, knowing that the end had to be near.

A good end.

Not a bad one.

“Watch the swords,” the new green ranger warned, diving between the enemy General’s zord- “Zurgane”, as the ranger had called him- and the Mega Winger to deflect an attempted parry.

Kai labeled it “attempted” as the blow never would have connected, such was the benefit of fighting in a battlefield without restraints to mobility; the limitations of gravity forgotten in the weightlessness of space. From what Kai had gathered, the new ranger was not accustomed to such freedom, but he had adapted quickly and effectively, never falling into the rookie mistake of applying Earth-physics to a battlefield where they would be futile.

The immediate adjustment to battle approach indicated that this ranger was, as Leo would say it, the “brains” of the operation. Or at the very least, the Ninja Storm team. The conclusion, while not explored as thoughtfully as Kai would have preferred, was a logical one. If this was the ranger that had been sent to investigate the legitimacy of Sheila and her multitude of communication and data gathering functions then it stood to reason that he had aptitude towards technology which usually, in Kai’s experience, implied greater intelligence.

The Samurai’s following contributions in the possible discovery of the “Doompots’” weakness and continued dialogue accompanying their battle - a narration of past strategy along with helpful suggestions for the Earth-bound rangers - all while successfully keeping his zord intact, certainly supported this.

It was not a recent discovery for the blue Lost Galaxy ranger, nor was it one that took him by surprise. That was not the intention of his mental review.

No, the purpose was to quell the growing frustration of knowingly being held up by a frivolous decoy, the sole purpose of which was to keep him and the two others from being anywhere else. Anywhere they could help. Zurgane’s goal was not one of victory, it was not to cripple them or to force them into a tactful retreat, it was simply to buy his allies time.

And he was achingly good at it.

Kai could admit that zord combat had never been one of his fortes, even if it, like every other battle, was cemented in strategy and tactful decision making (of which Kai excelled), there were still nuances that escaped him. Perhaps because it was so similar to his…experiences from early in his military career, yet not similar enough, almost as though it were misaligned, set slightly off, leaving Kai almost always one step behind.

There were no excuses for it. In the Galaxy Megazord Kai’s weaknesses were compensated by his team’s strengths- Damon’s natural proficiency towards piloting, Leo’s reflexes, Kendrix’s sharp eyes- but here, playing secondary pilot to Zhane’s growingly disjointed navigations, there was only so much Kai could do. Even he had his limits.

Before word of the Space team’s disappearance, there might have been an opportunity to end this battle sooner, but now Zhane was distracted an unfocused, his mind too consumed with the whereabouts of his team to give his entire attention to the task at hand. The silver ranger had surrendered to the oppressing forces of his emotions, allowing them to sway his actions. There would be no turning back from this.

It was the heat of battle; a description that couldn’t be more accurate.

With a quick word to Sheila, Kai deftly switched his and Zhane’s helmet frequencies to a private channel, keeping an ear out for the Samurai as he began his inquiry.

“Zhane,” Kai began, tone carefully void of all emotion. “You need-”

“If your next words are ‘To focus’,” Zhane interrupted, voice bitter. “Then my opinion of you is going to plummet dramatically.”

“I would not do this thing,” Kai promised, ignoring the mental backlash for falling into the old phrase, back from the days where his grasp on the English language was more tenuous. “It was not my intention.”

Zhane scoffed, yanking the controls to the side and sending them into a rough barrel roll, allowing the Samurai’s zord to swoop in on the offensive.

“You would,” Zhane said, knowing better.

Kai would, yes. Were it necessary.

He always pushed when it was necessary, whether it was preferable or not. He knew his duties.

“Perhaps,” Kai allowed, and it was enough. Either reluctant enough or playful enough that it earned him a bark of laughter, a short spark of Zhane’s usual attitude before it disappeared again behind that wall of tension.

Kai permitted himself a quiet sigh. Unnecessary, but it was the small things, the subconscious reactions no one gave attention to that communicated the most humanity. It helped, allowed Kai to “level with” Zhane, in this instance.

“Zhane-” Kai tried again, voice low.

Just-” the interruption was not surprising, nor was the tightness in Zhane’s tone, the indicators of fissures in his once-strong composure. “Just don’t say that stuff right now. I know we need to finish this.”

“In one piece,” Kai reminded.

Normally an needless thing, not worth mentioning, but here, teetering on this balance, Kai couldn’t help but feel-

He couldn’t help but think there was value in the remembrance.

By the way Zhane’s gloves tightened around the controls, grip shaking against the yoke, Kai recognized his words had been perceived as a provocation. An unhelpful statement of the obvious, not a quiet attempt to address his concerns.

It was unfortunate.

“Don’t you dare-”

“Zhane,” Kai took his turn for interruption whether it was welcomed or not, knowing it was, undoubtedly, necessary. “I promise you, we will not lose them.”

“I know that.” Automatic reply, distracted as Zhane moved in for another lunge, going for the other zord’s weak points. “I know we-”

“No, you don’t.” Because if he knew he would not be doubting. “You’re upset to be here, you’re upset to be where you have decided you can’t help them-”

“Are you going to lecture me about all of us having important roles?” Zhane asked, annoyance and frustration unreserved, blatant and hurting. “That we all have a job to do? Or are you going to tell me to suck it up because we can’t do anything until this creep is finished-?”

“A little of the latter, mostly,” Kai admitted with a deferent shrug. “Because we, in the most literal sense, cannot move on until this is taken care of-”

“How wonderful of you to point this out for me,” Zhane murmured furiously in what was most likely a sizable display of sarcasm. “I’m so lucky to have friends like-”

“But with that said,” Kai continued, talking over the other man’s words to minimize the amount the blond would regret saying later. “You have to understand that even if we are the last three rangers fighting, even if all the others are captured, we will fight back.”

Dramatic pauses had earned a reputation that somewhat belittled their effectiveness, with ridiculous, overdone connotations, but in all of Kai’s training he had never known them to be fruitless.

He allowed his words to sink in; Zhane falling into tense silence before the blue ranger continued, forcing his point home.

“We will fight.” Kai’s voice a low, even threat. “And we will return our friends- your family- to where they are needed. To where they belong.”

For a moment, Kai had feared he had pushed too much, that he had crossed the line of emphatic passion into overdramatics. He would lose Zhane, if he had done so, and his hard work-

“And that’s with us.”

The statement wasn’t as…determined as Kai had assumed it would be. It didn’t hold any of the anger or frustration Zhane had previously exhibited. It was more subdued…withdrawn, voice flat but distinctly unyielding.

A quite guarantee.

A reminder.

Mission success.

The transition from frantic, reactionary combat into a calculated duel was seamless, an adjustment so smooth Zurgane had allowed it to shake him. It gave Kai and Zhane an opening they exploited appropriately, leaving him, not horribly damaged, but at the very least rattled. Zhane had rallied.

Kai had succeeded.

That was the purpose of multi-ranger zord combat yes? To allow one’s strengths to accommodate for others’ weaknesses.

“Nice pep talk,” Zhane said, commenting almost idly, tone casual. “And uh…thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.”

It was only their familiarity that allowed Zhane to know that Kai’s statement was not in jest. Kai didn’t want to be known for his speeches or improving moral, he only sought to do what was needed. Even when he didn’t want to.

“No worries.” There was a smile in his voice when Zhane said it, the silver ranger’s old spirits returning with mischievous vengeance. “My lips are sealed.”

Further replies were cut off by diverted focus; a panel to Kai’s left- a radar- indicated a small, incoming object.

“Sheila,” Kai began. “What’s approaching on our right side?”

“Incoming Jet Jammer,” Shelia dutifully replied, electronic tones perpetually cheerful, indicating this was an expected event. “Leo has requested Zhane’s presence earthside.”

“That’s great and all,” Zhane exhaled through gritted teeth, keeping his arms steady as the Mega Winger shook from a charge on its left side. “But we’re a little-”

“I’ll take over.” Kai didn’t wait, he moved, abandoning his position until he was beside Zhane, preparing to take over as soon as the silver ranger evacuated his seat. “They want to start instigating the plan. You’re the only un-captured Space ranger; they need you down there more than we need-”

“It’s my zord,” Zhane argued, no doubt aware of Kai’s zord-related struggles, but the blue ranger waved him off.

“I’ll bring it back to you in one piece.” With that offer, he pushed Zhane out of his seat and deftly took over, settling in and shifting the Mega Winger just out of reach of Zurgane’s attack. “And if that fails, I’ll make Damon fix it.”

“Oh,” Zhane scoffed, expression presumably displeased as he stared at the ranger who had usurped his control. “Since you sound so sure about it, then.”

“I am,” Kai said, giving no thought as to whether it was true or not. “Now go, get this over with.”

The other ranger realized, finally, that Kai’s decision would not be swayed, that his stubborn insistence would not crumble under the weight of future protests. There was a sigh- a weary, resigned sounding thing- and from the corner of his eye the blue ranger could see Zhane finally surrender to his logic, allowing his zord to stay under Kai’s care.

“You better not scratch it,” the Space ranger warned, wagging a half-wary finger in Kai’s direction. There was another sigh, pure exasperation as the silver helmet rolled up towards the ceiling of the cockpit, as though asking some being of higher power why he had to put up with such aggravations.

The show was…nice, for Kai’s benefit. It was an attempt to loosen him up, to relieve him of some of his own tensions about continuing the battle solo.

He would never say it, but the gesture was greatly appreciated.

There was no goodbye. No offerings of good wishes or the “best of luck”. Just the sigh, and then the sounds of mechanics shifting, Zhane following Sheila’s instructions towards the Jet Jammer.

Kai was alone.

The battle would be longer now, yes; it brought no less frustration now than it did before. However, despite Zurgane’s intentions they had (through Leo’s quick thinking), still managed to find a way for Zhane to be where he was most needed, so Kai wouldn’t mark it as a loss.

Now the only thing the blue ranger needed to worry about was how long it would be until the Mega Winger started to take massive damage.

Not “if”; when.

There were no doubts in Kai’s mind that the price he would need to pay Damon back would need to be immense and time consuming.

But such was life.

“Hey uh…” Leo began, sentence trailing off as he was forced to frantically somersault over an abandoned SUV. “I think we…yes. Yes, it appears we have lost someone.”

Off to his right, he could see Eric’s helmet snap in his direction, somehow managing to convey his sincerest annoyance despite the expressionless mask. “Sparky, we’ve been doing nothing but non-stop roll calls since those two-” He gestured in the vague direction of the red and aqua Ninja Storm rangers, relatively, as they had already bounced out of direction the Silver Guardian was pointing and proceeded to kick ass. “-Joined the fray.”

“I know that,” Leo replied, because it felt like the next obvious conversational step and Eric appreciated predictability when his panties were all in a wad. “I wasn’t talking about us.”

“Doompot?” Lucas prompted, releasing a short “Woop!” of satisfaction as he and the newest red ranger tricked a Doompot into running its horribly maniacal face through a brick wall.

They even had time to high-five before the thing unceremoniously rolled out of its mortared prison with some less-than-comforting high pitched cackles, showing no obvious care that it was collapsed in a pile of rubble.

So…good news?

“Not Doompot,” Leo said, and they should know, seeing as everyone else (those who had not been wrangled into creepy-henchman-shepherding *cough* Eric *cough*) was tag-teaming it to take down the other two Doompots that so generously graced them with their presence. It looked like the two Ninja Storm Blue Rangers were making quick work of one of them, forcing it to get whiplash because of the dizzying circles they kept weaving; two dazzlingly shiny targets waiting to be destroyed that it could never, in any reality, hope to hit.

The enraged shouts of frustration were enough to get Leo through the battle with a smile on his face- hell, probably through the rest of the week- assuredly.

Through some stroke of wizardry Leo would really have to ask him about later, Adam had managed to get the other Doompot monologuing, monologuing, of all things. The black ranger, who was probably sporting a very proud look on his face, had taken up residence on one of the smoking husks of a destroyed mini-van, Power Axe resting against his knee as he prompted the monster when appropriate. At least that was what Leo assumed he was doing, as the veteran ranger would occasionally nod, showing he was, in fact, still listening, and then the Doompot would launch itself into a passionate spiel about just how thoroughly he was going to destroy the entire human race.

Leo would give the blood-thirsty lunatic this; at least he was ambitious. You could admire that.

He could also admire how Adam managed to get himself a completely justified time-out mid-battle, but Leo sort of had his own stuff going on, so he should probably focus on that-yes, focus on that business instead.

At least, a second ago, he had business to which he could call his attention.

Now, that was not such the case.

Heh, check him out, getting all fancy-talk in his internal monologues. All those books Kai had suggested Leo read really were paying off.

“Then who?”

And there went buzzkill Eric- go figure- stomping all over Leo’s happy boyfriend-daydreaming-time and ruining it with the much more depressing reality.

What a surprise.

“What?” Leo asked, Quasar Saber balanced in his palm, trying to remember where he had left off. What was it-? Oh, right. “Yeah, it looks like we lost Airplane-Gorilla.”

“Gorilla-Plane,” Lucas automatically corrected, giving his still-grounded Doompot an idle kick. For his efforts he received an off-pitch gargle, quickly accompanied with what Leo would describe as the flail a child might give in the midst of an impressive temper tantrum, before the Doompot settled back in for naptime. Above it, the Red Ninja and Lucas exchanged bewildered head-tilt…things.

Okay, maybe their super-epic-overpower-the-Doompots plan wasn’t necessary at all. Maybe they just needed to out-last them or something.

“Whatever.” Leo made a vague hand gesture in Lucas’ direction before turning his attention to Eric, whose posture managed to radiate the epitome of snippiness at Leo’s obvious lack-of-battle-occupation.

The red ranger did not rise to the non-vocalized bait; he was above such nonsense.

Right, he was pretty sure hearing his teammate’s resounding laughter in his head in response to his thought processes was completely normal, and not at all something Leo needed to investigate further.

He was digressing.

“Point is, he’s gone. Poof, vanished into thin air.” Leo waved at the destroyed car graveyard that littered the street around him. “And he didn’t even annihilate me or anything. What’s that about?”

“You’d think it would at least have some professional courtesy,” Lucas drawled quietly, still staring at his own essentially-beached Doompot.

“I know right?” See, see, Leo had not been the only one to notice this. “Usually they don’t give up and leave unless-”

“Sparky,” Eric growled, each syllable punctuated with a shot from his borrowed blaster, minions flying in every direction as the other man warded away from his men. “The Doom-” the Quantum ranger had to cut himself off from the sheer stupidity he believed the name had, and motioned to Adam’s monster wordlessly. “-They are the objective here. Just, keep them occupied. We’ll worry about the other stuff later.”


“No arguments,” Eric barked, and then that was the end of his allotted time for Leo- no, no, he had much more important things to do than humor conversations with guys who had been a ranger longer than him.

Whatever. Fine. If he wanted to be that way then so be it.

With a weary sigh, Leo strolled away from the Quantum ranger, kicking his feet as he made his way around Lucas and New-Red-Guy, waving at the blue ninja (the girl, maybe; it was hard to tell) as she (him?) blurred past. He thought he might have seen a wave back, but with the super-ninja-speed thing going on it was hard to tell, so Leo went ahead and humored himself by assuming the gesture was reciprocated.

Eventually he reached his destination, the crumpled, wrecked mini-van warm on his legs as he took a seat next to Adam.

“You looked like you could use some help,” he offered in place of a greeting.

“Thank goodness,” Adam replied, a smile distinct in his voice. “I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.”

“Well, you know.” Leo shrugged. “Rangers together and all that.”



“That’s not what I meant Sparky!”

La-la-laaa,” Leo sang, waving at the Doompot to continue after a particularly dramatic pause. “I’m just following orders.”

“I hate you!” And Leo didn’t have to look over his shoulder to witness Eric make a crude gesture at him, he just knew it was happening, in his bones.

“I love you too Q-Bear!” Leo cheered, bumping his shoulder against Adam’s companionably.

It was nice, all things considered.

They had also, undoubtedly, just reached the eye of the storm, so the real calamity was about to hit the fan in maybe…

Soon. It would be soon.

They might as well enjoy the break while they could get it then.

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