They exited bio Labs the same way Hunter had (stupidly) managed to enter it; by utilizing months of training, some lofty ingenuity, and a handful of stubborn can-do-ness to bring it all home in a stratagem of remarkable simplicity, if not rudimentary in its apparent ease.
Or, in the words of someone who wasn’t Cam; they stole some shit and ducked out while no one was looking.
All in all, it was not the most fitting exit for a ranger team, especially not- and if Shane went off on that particular tangent again after the eighteen other times he had that day, he was going to brain his head against the nearest wall so many times the damn thing would give way under his frustration. There wasn’t anything to be done for it; he made his call, they made their call, Lothor made his call, and now they had to get home and pretend they weren’t the individuals responsible for massive property damage in Silver Hills (mostly because they weren’t. Not really. That was all Lothor).
There were funds set aside for reconstruction efforts, Cam had assured them. Hell, the state of California had ruled to add a special ‘monster tax’ to all purchases when they eventually realized Earth was now a prime target for the occasional world-conqueror, and that wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. And apparently all space villains/ninjas/mutants/robots really liked California. Or hated it. Depended on which way you looked at it.
The point was, they had about as much going for them as they could to partially negate the guilt that had been incrementally growing since day one, and if they were going to leave they needed to do it now, so-
It should have been hard to steal paramedic uniforms. And medical equipment. And an ambulance.
They left that last one to Dustin. The brunette came through with flying colors, proving he was just as good at intentional thievery as he was at unintentional burglary. It wasn’t the greatest asset to have in your arsenal, but it worked for them. It was only a few hours after Hunter had been released from surgery that they managed to orchestrate their escape.
It was creeping into the early hours of the morning, somewhere between two and three AM when their wheels hit the streets, falling neatly in line with the rush of other emergency vehicles. Tori maneuvered with expert care, threading through ruble and overturned obstacle just as easily as any of the trained paramedics.
It wasn’t too long until they had made their way to the outskirts of Silver Hills, in what looked to be a manufacturing district, full of factories and repair shops, places that needed space from suburban homes.
As expected, the mobile command center was waiting for them behind a cluster of abandoned warehouses, adjacent to a road concealed from most commercial operations.
They made the transfer in easy time; Hunter – unconscious and wane beneath the florescent bulbs of the trailer – neatly tucked away and strapped down in the dedicated med bay area. Yes, they had one of those and yes, it could provide for multiple injuries at once and yes, it did make Shane sick to his stomach every time one of them was hurt enough to necessitate its use, especially when it was Hunter. Especially when it was Hunter and he couldn’t talk, and IVs were present, and he looked so pale-
Cam left a tracker behind on the ambulance as the eighteen wheeler gradually rumbled towards the highway, ready to be activated as soon as they had safely made their way back to Blue Bay Harbor. There had been a brief argument about leaving tech behind, but they were already ducking out on what was undoubtedly a pretty shitty situation; Shane wasn’t going to leave them wondering where their ambulance was too.
There had been a brief stop to retrieve Dustin and the Bradleys’ motorcycles and then they were back on the road; Shane playing pretend driver in the cab while the autopilot took them home, trying not to think about how the others were holding up behind him. How Cam would be keeping a critical eye on Hunter’s vitals, checking IVs and bandages. How Tori would be huddled up with Blake in that nook just across from the recovery beds, how Dustin would be curled on the floor, waiting for Cam to settle down so he could rest his head against the tech’s knee, just as they always did.
How Hunter would still be unconscious.
It was- They’d made a real mess of things.
Shane could only hope the others would understand.
“What do you mean, they’re gone?” Eric snapped, glaring down at the Silver Guardian cadet with as much ferocity a handful of hours of sleep would allow him – which was not a lot, or more than usual, if you listened to Rocky’s opinion (which he didn’t, because it was Rocky). “I thought you were watching the exits.”
The cadet – Anderson maybe, or Stevens; Eric always got those two confused – visibly swallowed. “We were keeping an eye on the areas with public access to keep everyone else out. We never put anything in place to-”
“Are you telling me they just waltzed out of here, as easy as you please?”
The cadet- Anderson, Eric decided; this kid was going to be Anderson whether it was his actual name or not- swallowed again. “We’re not sure exactly how they got out sir. The cameras were disabled for this area of the medical center before the rangers came in for security reasons-”
“I know why the damn cameras were turned off,” Eric snapped. On one of the beds behind him, there was a snicker that sounded suspiciously like it came from the dumbass in the cowboy hat, Joel – whatever, or maybe Rocky, but Eric stubbornly ignored it. “Anderson, I want you to comb through footage from every online camera from the last moment anyone saw those kids to the first time their absence was noted. Have the rest of the cadets do an inventory check for any missing gurneys- one of their guys is badly injured, there’s no way they could have risked moving him otherwise. On that note-” Eric’s eyes narrowed in thought, staring over the cadet’s shoulder as he considered this. “Focus your camera searches on areas that are gurney-accessible. If they left, they had to use one of those.”
“Yes sir,” the kid – Anderson – threw a hasty salute.
And then he paused, clearly torn between his desire to get the hell out of there while he could, and something else.
“What?” Eric didn’t have time for this. Really. If their trainees couldn’t even handle the simple task of security duty, then how the hell was he supposed to make delivering instructions any easier?
“It’s Sanchez, sir,” the cadet – not Anderson – replied.
This time the laughter behind him was definitely Rocky.
Eric definitely did not give him the finger, but it was a near thing.
“Sanchez,” Eric echoed, dragging out the word in a bored tone that three hours of constant adrenaline and a pitiful ten minute nap would not contain. “Get the hell out of my sight.”
With that, Eric abruptly turned away, pointedly ignoring the wild scrape of boots against the tile in an exit containing far less grace than Eric would have liked.
He sighed – a restrained, dignified thing – and did not collapse into the chair he had been occupying earlier, though he was sorely tempted. To the soundtrack of Rocky and Joel’s joint laughter, he took his seat with gradual pausing, resting his head wearily in both hands.
“You didn’t have to be so hard on him,” Rocky chirped.
“Shut up,” Eric grumbled. There may have been further complaints, but Eric didn’t have the energy for an argument right now.
How long had it been? Maybe ten minutes since Trip had barged into his office, demanding his attention now, now, and- oh hey, now. The green ranger had been insistent, poking and prodding and blithely ignoring all threats and growls and promises of destruction until he had Eric on his feet and out the door, following him down the hall.
It wasn’t until a few minutes of blindly trudging after the energized psycho that Eric noticed he wasn’t alone in his pilgrimage. His company came in the form of two petite females - one blonde, one brunette – both dressed in shades of pink and wearing similar expressions of annoyance and confusion. Or, in the case of the brunette sporting a hot pink arm sling (so that must be Kim) – mind numbing weariness.
Their pitiful parade followed Trip to another room just as Justin came into view, a bewildered Carter and Ryan on his heels. Carter himself looked like he was ready to nod off, which was more than could be said for Dana, who actually was asleep, only standing through the efforts of her two teammates, propped up between them in her pink hospital scrubs.
They filed into the room – Rocky’s room, by the looks of it – and settled where they could. Angela was already in the other bed and unconscious, Joel curled up beside her, his leg propped on a few pillows. Eric hadn’t even noticed Adam until the door had shut behind them with an ominous click, and the Quantum ranger was about half out of his skin before he realized the other ranger was there, hiding in the shadows like the stupid half-ninja he was.
And then, of course, they had gotten the news.
The kids had vacated the premises, and no amount of cadet grilling or cursing or complaining was going to change the fact that they were just gone. And one of them had just exited surgery goddamnit what the hell where they even thinking?
“I think I would have done the same thing, were our roles reversed,” Rocky said after a short silence. “I mean, I wasn’t even in active combat that long, and I feel a little shaken up about the situation. Who knows how they feel, and they’re newbies.”
“They’re kids,” Eric corrected, because even though they were novices when compared to the rest of them, that shining factor right there was the thing they needed to focus on. “They’re dumb kids doing dumb-kid things.”
“Did something spook them?”
Eric jerked his head in shock. When he met the origin of the voice – a new one he didn’t recognize – he was surprised to see the barely conscious brunette from before, looking remarkably more collected than anyone who was practically asleep ten minutes ago had any right to be.
Kim. That was right, her name was Kim.
“Did we say something that might have set them off?” she continued.
Kim had settled on the other side of Rocky’s bed, making it so that she and Adam flanked the bedridden red ranger. The pretty blonde, who had traveled begrudgingly behind them, lingered near the foot of the bed, unsure of her place there.
It was a posture Eric was familiar with.
“Dana.” The quiet prodding brought Eric’s attention back to the other side of the room, to the row of chairs pressed against the far wall, right next to Angela’s bed. “Dana,” Ryan tried again, shaking his sister’s shoulder. “Come on, we need you right now.”
The doctor woke with a spasm, eyelashes fluttering against her cheeks as she regained her bearings. Between Carter and Ryan, she looked painfully thin on the hard plastic chairs. Though it could not be said she appeared the least responsive, as Carter had happily surrendered to unconsciousness and was snoozing contently with his head against the wall, mouth half open.
Eric would have glared at him for giving in so easily to something he himself had just been doing so well, but if there was any person he couldn’t begrudge things, it was Carter. That guy had earned a nap, and it wasn’t like he’d actually had that much interaction with the kids.
“-the exact words you used,” Ryan was saying, eyes locked on his sister’s as he dutifully caught her up on the situation. “Was it anything that might have set them off?”
Through the dissipating fog of inactivity, Dana’s eyes gradually regained their focus, narrowing in concentration as she reviewed the referenced conversation that was who knew how many hours ago.
“There was only one,” she said, frowning as she replayed the scene in her mind. “The others were split up. One with…Dustin, I believe his name is, and the others…”
“Waiting room,” Adam interrupted, his voice strong with recognition as he added in his own two cents. “Two were holed up in the waiting room, where we could find them. I gave one – their leader – tea.”
“So it was just the green ranger, then.” Dana continued. Her gaze was unfocused, detached from the present as she reran the conversation. “I remember the trim on his uniform. Green. He was the tech, I guess. Very savvy; seemed to know what he was talking about.”
“Did you get a spooked vibe from him?” Kimberly asked. “Anything that gave the impression he might bolt?”
A frown settled onto Dana’s lips as she considered this, head tilting to the side ever so slightly as though it would somehow clear the haze of exhaustion. “I don’t…I don’t think so,” she said eventually. She looked to her brother, the first time she had bothered with eye contact since this little investigation of theirs had begun. “I don’t know if he was too tired to exactly process what I was saying, or if he’s just…I don’t know how to explain it but- He listened very patiently, asked a bunch of thorough questions about aftercare, what the next move would be, what we needed from them in order to jeopardize the least amount of people.”
Before Eric could open his mouth and demand some clarification – because that was some seriously skeevy shit right there – Rocky already had him beat to the punch, sharing a confused look with Adam. “Rewind a second, what do you mean ‘jeopardize’? How could they put anyone at risk here, they’re patients.”
“Unconventional patients,” Dana replied mildly, nodding along as though she had expected this hiccup. “Who potentially needed to be off the books, or at most, required some creative paperwork. That was what we were discussing; how his teammates would appear on the official record. They’re both minors, which would present certain complications in terms of what would be required of them, but it wouldn’t have been a problem. At least, not for Dustin – their yellow ranger.”
“What about the crimson ranger?” Eric asked. He was the one Eric was more worried about, honestly. He didn’t know the extent of the damage the kid had suffered, but anything severe enough to require surgery would definitely require contacting a parental guardian of some kind.
“He has two legal guardians,” Dana replied, rubbing her temple. “Both are aware of his ranger status, the tech was very clear about that.”
“Guardians?” Carter echoed. “Not parents?”
Dana shook her head sadly, and that was really all that needed to be said about that.
“Would they even need to be on the official record?” Joel asked, breaking the melancholy with a very unsubtle stage whisper, peaking around his wife’s wild hair, eyes comically wide. “I mean, can’t we keep it hush-hush, if his guardians are informed?”
“That was the point I was trying to stress,” Dana said.
“And it clearly wasn’t a point that made its mark,” Eric grumbled, running a hand across his face. “The question is, what do we do now?”
“Is there anything we can do?” Rocky asked. “I mean, you guys would know better than me, but last I checked we still didn’t have access to their secret ninja server, so it’s not like we can call them.”
“I think the more appropriate question here is should we do something,” Adam murmured. He shared a look with Rocky, leaning down to give the man’s shoulder a brief squeeze before he slowly trailed down the length of the bed, towards the unnamed blonde. “Do we disregard the opportunity to hear their side of the story? Do we need to initiate contact?”
His gaze met each of the others as he walked about the room, fixing each individual with at least a few seconds of his attention before moving on. He came to a stop beside the blonde. They didn’t so much as look at each other, but there was the softest bump of their shoulders. If Eric strained to look, he could see a tiny smile adorning the women’s face at the action which-
He knew that look too.
Despite her obvious exhaustion, Dana was struggling to get to her feet, her face twisted into something in the near vicinity of ‘fired up’. “Of course we need to! One of them was just in surgery. I don’t care how good their facilities are or how-” She paused to frown at Ryan and Carter – the latter have awoken to the sound of her impassioned spiel – as they tried to settle her in the seats.
“Look,” she declared when the short and comically uncoordinated battle of wills was over, ending with her nestled in the chair just as it had begun. “Morpher or no, he needs a trained medical professional to monitor his recovery.” She jerked her head to the side ruefully, as though overcome by a sudden thought. “I can’t believe I gave that kid my business card. As though calling me would be good enough-”
“So we need to track them down,” Eric summarized, recognizing an imminent headache when he saw one. “And we need to sneak you guys out before the media circus shows up – if they already haven’t – and we need to start rebuilding and preparing a press package and-”
A hand landed on his shoulder. A calm hand, a warm hand, with meticulously groomed nails and slender fingers, all leading up to the face that had remained steadily silent throughout the course of the conversation.
“One thing at a time,” the blonde said. She had an Australian accent – of course she did – and despite that minor oddity, Eric found himself relaxing.
“One thing at a time,” he echoed, nodding.
He looked around the room, surveying the matching expressions of fatigue and determination, and discovered another oddity.
“Where’s Trip and Justin?”
“Stop following me.”
“I’m not following you.”
“Oh, really?” Justin turned, brushing off the mental backlash that was bound to arise whenever one resorted to horrible clichés. He even had his hands on his hips, because he didn’t have the energy to not fall back on old standbys. “Then what exactly are you doing?”
There was a rapid series of blinks before Trip was turning on the doe eyes, all wide and imploring and about as innocent as Justin was stupid, which was, you know, not very much.
“Is it my fault we just so happen to be walking in the same direction?” Trip asked, tone taking on a lyrical, almost soothing lilt.
If it wasn’t for the neon green arm accessories burning into Justin’s retinas, he might have even succeeded too.
Justin clenched his teeth together, forcing a lungful of air between his closed jaw and attempting to count to five. He made it to three. “I’m heading for the parking lot,” Justin murmured, quietly inferring the – to get to Storm Blaster – without actually having to say it. “So unless you really-”
But Trip was already chirping. Just, fluttering away. “Oh, awesome!” Trip cheered, face lighting up in one of his contagious smiles. “I’m going there too.”
“Really?” Justin quirked one eyebrow, bestowing Trip with the incredulous look to end all incredulous looks.
In a stunningly artful reply, Trip tucked his uninjured hand behind his back and started rocking back and forth on his feet innocently. Like Justin couldn’t tell it was a calculated act intended to sway its target with picture-perfect cuteness.
Justin would not be so easily won over.
Even if he kind of was.
“Yep,” Trip said, when it became apparent Justin wasn’t going to play his little game. “If that’s where you’re going.”
Justin sighed, squelching the desire to start pulling at his hair. He knew that was what it was all going to come down to.
With another deep breath, the Turbo ranger squared his shoulder, shifted his stance, and prepared for a battle. “You can’t come with me.”
“Sure I can.”
The little shit didn’t even hesitate before he answered, and he was still smiling – grinning as though the day hadn’t ran them over and dragged them through the mud, a vat of acid, and then another pool of mud just to be funny.
Aaand Trip was still talking, because he finally acknowledged Justin was going to go on a strangle rampage if he didn’t have a more substantial argument. “We came back to the past to minimize the ramifications of this event,” he said brightly, because that was the only setting Trip knew right now, bright and undeterred. “I think this definitely pertains to the success of that mission.”
“You don’t even know where I’m going,” Justin – rather wisely – pointed out. “Hell, I could be going back home. It’s not like those experiments are going to conduct themselves.” Or research properly accumulated, or job offers considered, or papers outlined with militaristic precision. “I have stuff to do, you know.”
The look Trip was giving him…Justin would best describe it as patient. Annoyingly patient and condescending and chipper all in one, combined into this ultra-expression of pure worldliness that Justin should immediately despise, and yet, on Trip, he found it tolerable. In time, he might even come to appreciate it.
A horrifying thought.
“You’re going after them,” Trip said slowly, the same way you would address a particularly stubborn five-year-old. “You are not the first stubborn person I have met,” he added helpfully, his face neutral. It would have been more effective if his eyes hadn’t been dancing, but it was Trip, and if he committed to a full-time serious face Justin would have…feelings, on the subject. Many, complicated feelings.
His disregarded them to the pit of his waning focus, and turned his eyes to actually examine the teen before him. Trip had been put through the ringer, his once pristine-white uniform now battered and torn. His arm had taken the brunt of the damage; the shoulder seam clean ripped away to reveal a flash of green – an undershirt maybe – beneath the once-shiny cloth. The green hair, clumped and silky to the touch, had been combed into a maelstrom of topsy-turvy angles, glued with blood and sweat, dirt and debris smudged against his face.
Without glancing in a mirror, Justin knew he wasn’t much better off. Knew he probably looked just as worn, just as tired, and just as done with this business.
Suddenly, Justin was all out of arguments.
“I’m driving,” Justin began suddenly, just loud enough just to see Trip jolt – throw him off his game for a few seconds. “So I pick the music. That’s not up for negotiation; that is a rule. We’ll have to stop by Wes’ first to pick up our stuff, and then we’re leaving.”
And if Lucas
just so happened to drag the green ranger out of the car kicking and screaming,
well then, that was one less feeling Justin wasn’t going to contemplate because
his freakin’ brain hurt, okay?
The words were barely out of his mouth before Trip was on him, too much energy and force and angel-soft hair shoved right into Justin’s face as he did his singular best to burrow into the Turbo ranger and never let go, even when the hug had passed the length of ‘friendly’ and then ‘awkward’ and then ‘people would be staring if they existed right now’.
In the end, Justin gave up and started to walk with Trip plastered against his front, feeling not even the tiniest hint of surprise when the smartass deftly maneuvered himself under the Turbo ranger’s shoulder and wrapped an arm about his waist, because he was a clingy-little-super-genius-goofball who Justin would probably never understand. And, for the sake of his brain, he should probably never try.
Better to play it safe that way.
“We know you’re busy,” Henderson was saying, armed with his most charming grin and those soul-searching eyes that usually had the birds clamoring over each other to help out the giant Boy Scout, the way he knew they did, because Henderson was a real knob like that.
Except, Jones noted, if it was a harried night-nurse five hours into her shift of disaster recovery, in which case the best Henderson could hope for was a mild glare just this side of murderous.
Henderson, being a stubborn - if somewhat-suicidal - individual, determinedly pressed onward, smile refusing to yield under the nurse’s glare. “But we just need to know-”
“Look love.” Jones broke his silence with a lazy tilt of his head, startling Henderson out of his charm-game and earning the woman’s attention. “We need to know if our intern managed to make it here, okay? Bloke took a couple of blows to the ribs and insisted on walking here on his own.”
“You shouldn’t have allowed that,” the nurse said with a glower. A mighty glower, but it was dialed back a few notches from the promised-murder glare Henderson had been bestowed with, so there was something. “It’s irresponsible.”
“We know.” Jones did his best to look appropriately apologetic, allowing the wear of the day to edge into his tone, exhaustion, sweat, and soot drenching him in equal parts. “But with things as they were…”
He allowed her to finish the sentence how she would. Personally, he would have gone with ‘like bloody hell, two years of semi-peace and then FIRE and so much screaming’ that still wouldn’t adequately explain the disjointed chaos that had rained down on Silver Hills, but she seemed to get the point.
Also, he had been told many a time that his mild-incompetence was just a little bit endearing (by females, thank you - and okay, one time, Dellario) and every little advantage helped.
Hence the introduction of the big guns in light of Henderson’s failing attempts, a.k.a., the British accent.
Jones couldn’t say it worked every time, but the odds were often enough in his favor for the Brit to find it satisfying.
They stood there, held at an odd impasse as the intake area of the Medical Center bustled around them, nurses ducking in and out, juggling clipboards in viselike grips, stretchers with paramedics making their way back to the ambulances to meet another set of emergency calls. There were Silver Guardians and other Bio Labs employees camped out on chairs, some with bandages and ice packs, others clutching cups of coffee, waiting for news from the inside.
Jones made his face slightly more pathetic.
The nurse sighed, and turned to her computer.
“What was his name?”
“Mike Struthers,” Henderson said, with the excess enthusiasm of one who had doubted the plan in action, and was incredibly relieved it had worked. Thanks, chap. “It would have been right when the alarms went off.”
“Spelled?” the nurse asked, eyes focused on the screen as her fingers flew across the keyboard, each button pressed with deft precision.
“S-T-R-U-T-H-E-R-S,” Henderson said. He threw a grin at Jones, one of his stupidly pleased ones, and the Brit rolled his eyes towards the ceiling. This wasn’t that exciting; they already knew what the answer was going to be. They really only came to get a room number so they could see about getting the kid moved in with Burke.
Jones winced in sympathy; dislocated-shoulder-with-mild-concussion was never a pleasant combination, and the overnight observation would be more bearable with familiar company.
Last he checked, Dellario was camped out at Burke’s bedside, introducing the man to the world of ‘anti-jokes’, and Miller was off calling the kid’s parents to explain the right buggers muddle [ALR1] that had been made of his ribs. Odds are there would be yelling, loads and loads of yelling.
Jones tried not to be too terribly smug about the fate Miller would suffer.
The glare that had been so generously given to the two Silver Guardians was transferred to the computer monitor before the nurse. It narrowed – somehow – and her fingers tapped out a furious pattern that cued her imminent approach to ‘done with this shite’. Which was…unnerving.
She pulled away from the keyboard with what Jones would politely describe as a growl. “I don’t have time for this,” she snapped, snatching up her abandoned clipboards. “I have patients to attend to.”
“But we just need-”
The nurse cut Henderson off with eyes like venom, her mouth twisted into something mean as she stared the slightly shorter Guardian down. “Mike Struthers called in nine hours ago to report a mugging,” she hissed. “He was never even in the building.”
With that, she abruptly turned on one heel with precision so sharp Burke would have wept, and marched away, her ponytail swinging in a deadly pendulum behind her.
Jones was still watching that hair when Henderson came to, pulling himself out of his shock with a startled, “What?”
Really, it was just one of those days.
“They’re gone?” Leo asked.
In the hallway, not far behind them, he could still hear the muffled noise of people darting to and fro, the rest of their home-bound accomplices still frantically trying to coordinate with each other to pick out a meeting room, and then a plan of attack and then-
Well, there was a reason Leo had opted to stay with his sleeping teammates.
“They’re gone,” Kai confirmed. He was posed just to the side of the door, reclining back against the wall in a grace that was almost sinister. It was, on first impression, unspeakably cool looking; a posture that radiated this languid kind of confidence that stole your breath away. You know, radiating sex with a looming hint of danger.
The ultimate bad boy. Weird, to think such body language could come from his nerdy little soldier, but there it was. Kai and his years of training they so rarely spoke about.
It was another reason Leo had stayed with his team. It was where he knew he would be useful.
“Well, you called that one,” the brunette said lightly, glancing down at the glowing numbers on his phone. Two more minutes until Kendrix’s ice packs needed to be switched out. The other two had suffered from mostly cuts and scrapes from flying debris, but Leo wanted to keep a sharp eye on the pink ranger’s wrist. It wouldn’t do for their team’s sharpshooter to suffer a minor hang up. On either the battlefield or for professional, science-y reasons.
He was just saying, Kendrix could be one unhappy panda whenever she didn’t get in her lab time.
There was a small sound of agreement from behind him. He knew it was merely for his benefit, that this kind of expression was not one that came naturally to Kai.
It was depressing, but Leo never criticized him for it. He always appreciated the effort, and hoped that one day, it wouldn’t be necessary. One day, Kai would trust him enough to not contemplate every reaction before making it.
It was the same reason Leo never would have heard Kai’s footsteps if the blue ranger hadn’t consciously put some weight into his steps, giving the brunette proper warning before he was slowly levering down to Leo’s side, legs folding perfectly underneath him, hands folded across his knees like art.
“I had hoped I would not be,” Kai said quietly.
It was an odd discourse, compared to the banging in the hallway – okay, that had to have been someone banging into the walls; no one was that loud on their own – but Leo took it for what it was.
That here, in the darkness, they were the closest thing to their true selves as they could be. He supposed, in light of the recent rookie-escape and the commotion outside of Wes corralling the troops with Lucas as a quiet presence beside him – the same could be said for any of them.
It was when they didn’t have to wear the masks that the honesty came out.
“It’s a real mess,” Leo said, even though Kai was already intimately familiar with this fact. “It would have taken a lot for me to put my complete trust in strangers.”
“But you did,” Kai pointed out. Kai was never one to really sugar coat things; he told it like it was.
That, or he bottled everything up so deep inside that it might as well stop existing, and only careful excavation could reveal the oldest and most forceful of the scars. There are plenty of things about Kai’s life that Leo’s sure he doesn’t know yet.
But he did know, without a doubt, that if he asked, Kai would tell him.
Until that point, Kai would do what he needed to survive, just like the kids did.
Without any kind of fanfare, Leo grabbed onto Kai’s shoulder and promptly flopped to the side, pulling the blue ranger down with him onto the massive nest of pillows, airbeds, and blankets he had carefully constructed. Through the wizardry only someone with stupid ninja skills could have, Kai managed to land before him and get settled in and comfortable as though the unexpected bed-trip had been his idea all along. If Leo could see his face, he imagined he looked pretty smug about it.
“And to think,” Kai said quietly, tugging a blanket over their shoulders while simultaneously curling into the heat of Leo’s body, as though they had done it a million times before, and not the handful of moments Kai could manage it. “All they had wanted to do was return a borrowed weapon.”
Leo laughed quietly into the top of Kai’s head. “Well, you know what they say. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
“While the road to heaven is filled with good works,” Kai replied, making his all-knowing sage wisdom thing sound sexier than it ever had any right to.
“Wait,” Leo said, when the content of the words dawned on him. “Who says that?”
“My sister did.”
“You had a sister?”
Another thing he didn’t know.
There was a pause, Kai considering his next words very carefully. “She wasn’t really my sister.”
They fell into a silence after that – and Leo, he knew it, that Kai was uncomfortable because it was the PAST and FAMILY and Kai sort of got locked up anytime one of the two of those was ever mentioned, especially both.
But he had revealed it so easily, with little prompting on his own and…
He had sounded proud.
“Kai?” Leo said after a few minutes.
The other man didn’t reply, but then again, Leo really hadn’t been expecting him to. He was playing dead, and would continue to do so for as long as he saw fit.
Leo took that as his cue to keep going, because he was a stubborn son of a bitch who liked to poke at things that very distinctly said Do-Not-Poke in big flashing letters.
“She was your sister,” Leo decided quietly. “And she did a good work.”
He kissed the top of his head and left it at that, expecting no further responses.
And audibly, he was correct. He got none.
But the hug he received was tight enough to be painful, and Leo reveled in every second of unrestrained expression.
He did a good work. They all did good works.
They were rangers. It was what they did.
At the end of the day, Cyber Cam beat the guy, got the lady, and managed a wonderfully executed battle with his newest bro Delta.
All in all, it was a very good day.
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