|Paved With Good Intentions
Author: Rebel Paisley PM
Dustin needs a little help to take on the bad guys. The rest of the world may suffer for this. Or maybe just Eric...Yeah, probably just Eric.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor/Friendship - Dustin B. & Eric M. - Words: 8,875 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 1 - Published: 08-22-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8456394
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Paved with Good Intentions
Disclaimer: I don't own Power Rangers.
Summary: Dustin needs a little back up to take on the bad guys. The rest of the world may suffer for this. Or maybe just Eric. Yeah, probably just Eric.
Part one of the Intentions-verse.
Much love and thanks to the real vampire, who keeps me from writing things like "clean plate" when my derpy brain clearly meant "clean slate" (and fixes other similar slip-ups). Your patience and help are miraculously outstanding. Could not do this without you!
The trouble with having a good plan vs having a great plan was that a great plan was made in like, the best of conditions where you had options and choices and you could start from the very beginning. Fresh, clean slate, with all the resources you needed. Like if you were painting a house you could think of every approach possible and then pick the best of them to go through with because that was undeniably a great plan.
Now a good plan didn't sound bad, and it really wasn't, but it didn't have the pizzazz and like, overall goodness that a great plan had. See, a good plan for painting your house resulted from a leak in the roof that ruined most of your walls. Your walls were ruined so you might as well repaint them, but now you were limited with what you could do because you had to take a certain approach or else nothing would gel right.
Good plans happened when your back was against the wall. Good plans were undeniably better than bad plans, because at least they had the possibility of a happy ending right?
Yeah, Dustin wasn't really buying it either.
Because good plans didn't have anything on Cam or Shane's or even Tori's great plans. Great plans were awesome. Great plans left you with a feeling of confidence and winning and good plans, especially good plans made by Dustin, well...they just didn't.
It wasn't his fault, he didn't think (he was kinda biased), but desperate times called for desperate measures and Dustin had to work with what he had. Yeah, it sucked that all he had was him, but that was something more than the nothing he could have that would lead to a bad plan.
This was a good plan; there was no need to mope about it.
So scratch the moping, but being worried, that was totally legit. He could worry about the others until the cows came home.
The latest monster attack had sucked them into some kind of limbo/alternate-dimension/plane-of-existence thing and the only information Cam had managed to get was that it was completely immune to all elemental attacks. In fact, it was pretty much invulnerable to any of their morphers attacks, including Cam (or especially Cam, because he just wielded the morphing power exclusively with his samurai skills, not like the rest of them who tempered it with their elements), which he managed to discover just before he got sucked in too, with everyone else. Dustin had, for lack of better word, freaked the holy smackeroos out. They were all gone, and the monster wasn't doing any damage, he just wanted them all trapped in his Indestructibly-Evil Pot of Doom and Dustin really, really didn't want to be. Let it be noted that he also didn't want his friends to be either, but he and Evil-McJerkface-pants were probably way past negotiating their release. "Pretty pleases' " would not cut it.
As much as he hated it, Dustin had turned tail and ran, streaking back to Ninja Ops to consult with Sensei and Cyber Cam and hoping that someone (who wasn't him) would have some brilliant last-minute, just-in-case scheme or technique or something that could get the others back.
But that's just it; there wasn't anything they could do. There was nothing Cyber Cam could build or Sensei could teach him that didn't involved the Ninja Storm powers. There was nothing, nada, zilch; a complete absence and painful void of nonexistence where things should very rightly be existing. And to add insult to the most grievous of injuries (of losing your friends, because that hurt) they even knew how to beat Evil-McJerkface-pants. They knew, were a hundred percent certain that all they had to do, the one thing they had to do was break the stupid Indestructibly-Evil Pot of Doom and all would be well. The others would be set free, the monster would get mad, then he'd get big, and then they'd get big, and everything would be well and good and winning could be enjoyed by all because they were awesome and not stuck in an Indestructibly-Evil Pot of Doom.
It was when the few minutes of brainstorming/waiting turned into a few hours that Dustin realized how serious things were, that the monster wasn't going to just spit his friends back out, and he wasn't going to terrorize the city, he was just going to wait. Eventually Shane and Tori's parents were going to call, and Dustin didn't know what to tell them, and he really didn't want them to be marked as missing people, they would hate that, but he just didn't know what to do.
With Sensei's gentle prodding and Cyber Cam's cyber awesomeness they managed to come up with a cover story for Shane and Tori, forcing Dustin to lie outright to their parents about a last-minute, week-long camping trip. They were lucky it was summer time and they could manage things like that.
(They were unlucky because they were trapped somewhere with no way out, but Dustin didn't have the strength to mention that.)
His mom was out of town on a business trip, so Dustin didn't have to worry about her interfering, which left him plenty of time to mope and hate himself for not being able to think of a plan that would fix this mess.
"I bet the other rangers," he had said, when it had gotten late into the night and they still had nothing. "I bet they could have handled this crap way better than us. I mean, they got out and beat the bad guys right? They all won. Why can't we?"
He knew they had won; he'd seen the video clips on YouTube. Clearly there were no bad guys running amuck, ruling the earth, so yeah, winning had been accomplished by all the other teams. They could use their weapons and their techniques and their zords and –
It was like they had all gotten the same idea at the exact same time because none of them even had to say anything, they just knew, knew immediately through Dustin's complaining that hey- they finally had a good idea.
Because if their weapons wouldn't work against the bad guy…
Somebody's had too. Right?
There had been like, ten ranger teams before theirs; someone had to have some weapons that still worked. And they were all fighting for the same thing right? They would totally be willing to lend Dustin a hand. He would, if the tables were turned. And even if they weren't he could bargain with them or beg them or do something to get a freaking zappy ray or sword or magical-bubble-wand that could destroy the Doom-pot.
This, this was a good plan. It was good because it had to be, because it was the only one they had.
And no, that did not create a certain feeling of doom in the bottom of his stomach.
Really, it didn't.
The biggest problem with the good plan (which was what made it only a good plan because it was kind've a huge problem) was that like his team, most of the other rangers had rocked the secret identity thing. Which Dustin got, honestly, because with super herodum came super hatredum and people who would be only too happy to hurt the people you loved so yeah, obviously not-shouting to the world that you were a power ranger was a good thing. The best thing, even.
It just felt a little stupid though for the saviors of the universe (or world or planet or however you wanted to phrase it) to not be able to get in touch with other saviors of the universe. This was a flaw. They needed a ranger phone tree, or something. Maybe an email group. Keep stuff like this from happening. Dustin understood they couldn't call for backup all the time; Sensei had explained why there were so many ranger teams, that each set of morphers was specifically designed to fight their bad guy, or something like that, but stuff like this, or asking for advice, that shouldn't be prevented should it? They should be allowed to go to lunch and throw birthday parties and share stories with all the other crazy people that had risked their life on a daily basis.
That was it; when this nonsense was over he was starting an email list. This should not happen again.
With all the private rangers out of reach, Dustin had to resort to the ones with public identities, ones that everybody knew.
The closest were two guys in Silver Hills from…Time Force, yeah, that's what Cyber Cam had said. Their phone numbers and addresses hadn't been listed but Cyber Cam managed to hack into their workplace to get the info on one of the guys. Eric…something or other. Okay, Dustin had been too worried about his friends at the time to pay attention; he just gassed up his bike, loaded his backpack with the essentials and hit the road, Cyber Cam feeding him directions while he figured out the best way to approach his new best friend Eric.
By the time he reached Silver Hills he had nothing.
Yeah, that couldn't hurt too much.
The house wasn't anything special, just a medium-sized, modest house in suburbia surrounded by other medium-sized, modest houses. It had two stories and wasn't badly maintained; there wasn't anything special about it. No ranger bikes parked in the driveway or security cameras or even the wall mounted plasma ray thingies. Just a house. Cyber Cam made Dustin take scans of it with a pdf-thing Cam had made just to be sure, but the average house checked out just as averagedly-average as it looked.
Dustin doubled checked his notes.
It was the right address.
He would think there would be more security, or at least people outside trying to get pictures or something. This guy was a ranger right? Still had his morpher and everything and people weren't trying to get a piece of him? That was what happened to famous people right? Dustin was almost sure of this.
Well, maybe people just didn't like him. Or he had a habit of punching out paparazzi. Or both (because the latter led to the former, and all that).
Dustin didn't think about it too hard, he just gathered his courage and rang the doorbell, figuring if he spouted out "Hey I'm also a power ranger and really need your help, see my morpher, here's my morpher" before the guy slammed the door on his face all would be well.
Of course, to manage this part of his plan the door had to be opened first.
After a few minutes of nothing Dustin rang the doorbell again and waited.
And then rang the doorbell again, in case the guy was in the shower or something.
And then he waited again. It was only polite.
Two minutes. Five minutes.
He rang the doorbell again.
Things were not going well.
The guy's car was outside the house. Cyber Cam had been adamant there was a heat signature inside, big enough for a person, so it wasn't like no one was home. It was just that Dustin's new-best-friend Eric was ignoring him. And that would not flow.
Okay, enough with the civilities, Dustin had friends that were in trouble and no door was going to stand in his way. He was a ninja for Pete's sake. He would ninja his way in.
And that would be the end of that.
It wasn't the end of that (or maybe it was; he wasn't sure how the expression worked) because second story windows were easy to open, probably because they were not prime sneak-in territory (though clearly they were) and Dustin got his first look of the house's insides. Like the exterior, it wasn't anything special. It wasn't super messy and it wasn't the cleanest of clean. It was like, moderately clean, like Shane's house. The room Dustin had snuck into looked like it was an office, maybe, or like the bare bones of one. Still, there weren't any people, so everything was going pretty well.
He smoothed himself against the wall nearest to the door and held his breath, listening for other noises; footsteps, voices, maybe a tv, some form of life. He didn't hear any kind of movement, of someone else in the house noticing his presence and –
There. Just there. A bed moving. Well, not like a bed stampeding around a house (though that would be so cool) but like, someone moving on a bed. Like the floorboards and bed frame did that creaky thing as weight was redistributed, sheets rustled, all that jazz. It wasn't a lot but it was all Dustin had to go on.
So Eric-the-other-ranger was a late sleeper was he? Stuck in bed.
Dustin checked his watch and realized it wasn't that late, but it was still weird. If this guy was a ranger he had to be super active. Why would he be snoozing the day away?
The yellow ranger advanced cautiously, keeping Cyber Cam in the loop via Cam's handheld to check for any hidden security things. So far there was nothing (which was something the other guy should be more concerned over right? There were stalkers out there) and there continued to be nothing until he reached the edge of the door the bed-sounds had come out of. Which was probably a bedroom, but whatever.
"He's in that room," Cyber Cam told him through Dustin's super sneaky ear bud (that he had insisted on in case of required sneakiness, and look where that had gotten him. Go him).
So…now what? Dustin was pretty sure waking someone up after sneaking into their house was not a good way to ask for backup. Or to get any kind of help that wasn't getting arrested by the police. He was sure Eric would be more than happy to help him with that. Maybe he should just hold his morpher in front of Eric's face so when he woke up it would just be "Hey lookie, a morpher, that means a ranger," and then Dustin wouldn't get arrested and then he could borrow a ray gun and get this guy's email address and they could be best friends for life. Or maybe second-best-friends (Dustin couldn't just replace Shane; he was sure Eric would understand).
Dustin's planning was interrupted by some very unhappy grumbling from the bedroom, like Hunter on the worst of days.
The bed shifted again, sheets rustling, and Dustin finally figured out the reason behind his new best friend Eric's late sleepy-time.
The guy was sick.
Dustin knew from experience how frustrating/awful/want-to-punch-someone-in-the-face-ish being sick while being an active ranger could be. The power was supposed to heal them but some things, it seemed, even the common cold, rangers were still susceptible to.
Which was a special kind of stupid, but Dustin figured if it allowed them to have shiny laser-resistant suits of armor it was a reasonable enough exchange.
"Will…kill…everything," friend-Eric groaned, burying his head into his pillow, and Dustin decided to take action because he couldn't just leave him there. He was all alone in a big house with no one to look out for him. How could Dustin abandon another ranger? That was the entire reason he had come here anyway, to help out his team, so it wasn't like he could just leave. That would make him a hypocrite.
Besides, if he helped new-Eric-friend feel better it would totally add to his credibility as a not-stalker/paparazzi/totally-a-power-ranger…ness. And then Eric would lend him a weapon and they could start a tradition of Sunday brunches every other week of the month.
It was a total win-win scenario. And it ended in chocolate chip waffles. Everyone loved chocolate chip waffles. They were awesome.
Victory in sight, Dustin stopped thinking and started doing, abandoning his ninja stealth and entering the bedroom, taking in the state of Eric the new-friend.
It was a warzone, if wars were fought with wadded up tissues, cough drop wrappers, and an assortment of blankets. In the middle of the mess had to be Eric himself, curled into as small an area he could manage while he hacked out some serious coughs, finishing up with a groan as though it had done some major throat damage. It probably had. New-friend-Eric had all of Dustin's sympathy and then some.
First things first, clean up the mess. The waste basket had clearly been declared too far away by Eric and was ignored, mostly empty, so Dustin picked it up and scooped in the trash decorating Eric's bed, doing his best not to disturb the sick ranger. Eric either didn't notice or didn't care, or he did notice but assumed Dustin was a hallucination or something. Fair enough, Dustin could work with being a figment of his imagination, so long as he still got a ray gun.
What's next, what's next…?
Dustin leaned against the side of the bed and felt around for Eric's forehead, and…yes, that was definitely a fever. He wasted no time ducking into the bathroom (which had also accumulated its own trail of debris) and wetting a wash cloth, quickly returning to the bedroom and placing it on Eric's head.
Okay, that would help, but if Eric really wanted to feel less crappy Dustin needed to get some food in him, and some fluids. Strike that, it was probably mostly fluids, and then some food. Fluid food. Soup. Soup would do.
He was about to exit the room to get started on this next task when Eric's voice called out behind him, ragged and tired but definitely aimed at him.
Okay, so he wasn't completely incoherent. That was good. That meant he would be okay by himself if Dustin had to leave. (And Dustin knew he was probably a loner, had probably mastered the solo-living thing, but that struck a sadness within Dustin he couldn't really explain because no one should be used to being alone).
But back in real people world. Where the sick and the semi-home invader joined together in the purpose of saving the world, slowly.
Dustin got back on track, trying to like alleviate all negative vibes. He didn't need to add anxiousness on top of being super sick. That wouldn't be cool.
"Dude," the yellow ranger said, switching course and picking up the trash on the bathroom path. "Of course I'm real. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to move stuff."
He emphasized this by waving around an empty tissue box (there were three of them. Three. How long had Eric-friend been like this?)
Eric stared at him blankly (Dustin thought, he wasn't actually sure because half of the other ranger's focus looked like it was on the wall beside him) for a few seconds, processing this, and then coughed, tense hands curling around the sides of his current box of tissues.
"…get out," he mumbled, a few seconds after Dustin had given up on there being a reply.
The yellow ranger just waved at him vaguely, already refocused on mission make-spotless-floor-spotless. He shrugged offhandedly and continued his task, replying, "You're sick."
Which they both knew, but sometimes being sick made processing things like, eighty times more difficult than necessary. Like, you could be so sick you barely even registered your sickness. Not that Eric didn't have it figured out, but that should be a good enough reason for him to be here. Especially if he was cleaning. That should give him major brownie points.
It soon became apparent Eric was not familiar with the brownie point system.
Or maybe he just didn't support it. Either way…
"Get. Out," the sick ranger growled at him, going so far as to hurl his precious box of Kleenex to demonstrate his finality on the subject. Of course, in this instance Dustin was using the term "hurl" rather loosely as Eric didn't so much as throw as nudge it over the edge of his bed in a very convincing manner, but Dustin always thought that the effort should totally count.
Also it felt like he was dealing with like, an older, grumpier, super-proud version of Hunter, and Eric/Hunter always appreciated it when "you acknowledged what they had aimed for with the highest regard" (Cam's words, but Dustin totally got it).
He knew Eric would appreciate it.
Dustin nodded to show he understood and carefully replaced the tissue box within Eric's reach, giving the room a final once-over before he decided to hit the kitchen.
He pointed towards the door. "Dude, I'm just going to go downstairs and make you some soup, okay? We can talk about the trespassing thing later." As he left a thought struck him, so he poked his head back in the door to give some last minute instructions. "Keep the towel on, and if things get bad just like, thump the wall three times or something. I'll come."
And one last thing…
Dustin nicked the phone off the bedside table and left, deciding to keep it down in the kitchen with him. No need to invite unwelcomed calls to the police. And if Eric tried to call that other ranger on his morpher Cyber Cam would be able to block the call. He wasn't sure how Cam's program would be able to do it but-
Cam. Dustin missed him. He missed all of them. But he couldn't-
He couldn't stop right now. He couldn't. He just…he couldn't think about them. He had to stay focused on the mission.
Enter phase two. Make the best darn soup new-friend Eric had ever tasted.
Maybe then he would be so impressed he would have to give Dustin a zappy ray. And all would be well with the world.
Wes called Eric somewhere around twelve, partly to check up on his friend and partly to revel in the absolute misery said friend must be experiencing. Normally Wes wasn't one to take pleasure in someone else's unhappiness, but Eric had been more than happy to rub in his suffering when Wes had been taken down by a summer flu of his own. Eric's barely coherent and venom-loaded grumbling was entertaining enough for Wes to bend that rule, if just for the day. He would play nice later.
He expected Eric's greeting to be nothing but hatred delivered after about five rings, whenever he managed to find the phone, so Wes was surprised to hear the line pick up almost immediately after he dialed. Eric must have moved it closer to him after the first two calls.
Which had also been completely necessary.
Wes was about to give a one-quarter-soothing/three-quarters-mocking quip when the voice on the other end startled him, distinctly not Eric's. "Hello?"
It sounded like some high school kid, which was the almost opposite of what Wes had been expecting. Well, that explained the early pick up. He must have dialed the wrong number.
"Sorry," he said, doing his best apologetic voice. "Wrong number."
"Oh," the kid said. "That's cool."
Which…okay, so that was the end of that because the dial tone clicked. Clearly they were done with their conversation. Whatever.
Wes was more careful when he dialed this time, making sure he got each number right. Alright, the afternoon was still young. Eric would still be unhappily grumbling when he picked up the phone this time. Wes would give him six rings.
The line picked up after one.
"Hello?" the voice said. Same kid one from before.
Wes frowned. Had Eric changed his number? He had threatened to earlier but he could barely manage moving right now, let alone fast track that civic procedure.
Maybe Wes had just switched the numbers around or something. He would look up Eric's number in the computer; make sure he got it right.
"Me again," he said, realizing that the kid was still on other end of the line. "Sorry."
"Don't sweat it dude," the kid said, just as upbeat as before and the line clicked out again, signaling the end of the conversation.
Kids today, man. Just because they were strangers didn't mean they couldn't exchange a few simple "goodbyes." If the kid hadn't sounded so cheery Wes would have immediately flagged him as one of Eric's clan. Same gruffness. Just with more pep. Which was actually a great deal more disconcerting.
The blond ranger pulled up his contact list on his computer and…no, the number wasn't any different. It was the same one he had dialed the last four times.
This was weird.
He punched in the numbers again and waited for the one ring; the kid, as now expected, picking up on the other end.
"Dude, it's still just me."
Which was kind of what Wes was afraid of.
The kid, not needing any kind of response to manage the conversation, carried on. "Who are you looking for?"
Hey, the kid sounded friendly enough. Maybe this was just some kind of misunderstanding, or something.
"My friend. Eric Meyers." Wes paused before he added, "He lives there."
"Oh yeah." The kid didn't sound at all perturbed by supposedly being in someone else's home. "He's sick," the kid explained. "I'm making him soup."
Wes glazed over the part he was familiar with, being that it was the entire reason he had called, and focused on the latter half of the kid's story. For all his skill in interrogation, instead of asking something that could be meaningful his mouth went ahead and blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
"Why are you making him soup?"
Because that was the really troubling thing about this whole situation.
The voice on the other end was not bothered by his question, if anything, it seemed cheerful. "Because he's sick."
Yes, he got that, but –
"Why are you making him soup?"
Which was also a bad question because it implied the kid shouldn't be there, though in Wes' defense the very concept of "kid plus Eric" was mind boggling enough that it in itself supported his entire argument as to why the kid shouldn't be treading in such sacred territory.
Luckily the possible-home-intruder seemed too focused on whatever he was doing (the soup, right) to actually notice what Wes was inferring, and actually sounded a little patient when he replied.
"Because he's sick."
And that was apparently that.
Either this kid had mastered the art of being interrogated, or he genuinely did not see any qualms with him being in Eric's house. Making soup. Which probably meant that there actually was a good reason for him to be there. Like, he was being paid to.
Well that took a load off of Wes' shoulders. Eric had finally seen the light and paid a nurse or someone to come take care of him. Maybe a neighbor kid; Eric had a soft spot for them. Though how this kid could worm his way into the Quantum ranger's heart was beyond Wes. He seemed way too perky for Eric's taste.
Oh. Ooohh, maybe Eric didn't even want him there. But he couldn't do anything about it and –
Wes' afternoon looked a whole lot brighter.
That would teach him for making fun of sick people.
"So it's your job?" Wes asked, spirits raised as he confirmed his theory.
There was no hesitation.
"Yep," the kid chirped. "Chicken doesn't boil itself."
"Mmhm," Wes mumbled absently, smiling at the sheer unpleasantness Eric had to be experiencing from this kid. He would get homemade soup with a side of unyielding optimism.
And he would hate it.
"Well don't let him get to you, okay," Wes advised. "He's grumpy when he's sick."
"Oh," the kid replied. "Yeah, I got that. He tried to throw a tissue box at me. But it's cool. I'll make him better."
"I bet you will."
This was going to be magical.
Wes wasn't cruel though; he would come by and relieve Eric later, let the kid go home, but for now –
For now he would just sit back and let nature run its course.
"Take good care of him, okay?"
"Roger that," the kid said, completely serious, and Wes' smile grew.
It was going to be a good afternoon.
Dustin felt better after he hung up the phone. So Eric the ranger wasn't alone; he had friends to check up on him, they just had to work and stuff because they didn't have a magic ninja base to supply all the necessities. How unfortunate.
Dustin wondered if whoever he talked to was the other ranger from Silver Hills. He probably should have asked for his name. Oh hey- the other guy didn't ask for Dustin's name either. Man, these guys were like, super trusting. Maybe there actually was a secret ranger network set up and they just assumed (except for Eric, because Eric had wanted him out) that Dustin was a part of that and people sneaking into their houses wasn't a big deal. Most people don't do break-ins. Clearly, only a ranger would think to do that.
It was an option. Dustin would hook Cyber Cam into Eric's computer later to see if it had any merit.
With the chicken set to boil (he was sure Eric wouldn't mind him raiding the fridge; it was for the sick ranger's benefit anyway) Dustin went to work looking for fluids that would optimize Eric's recovery. Orange juice, Gatorade, Ginger ale, the works. He had his hand wrapped around a bottle of orange Gatorade when he heard a loud thump from upstairs, giving him the sinking feeling a certain someone had fallen out of bed and probably couldn't get up.
Dustin took the stairs two at a time, making it up to Eric's bedroom to see the other ranger attempt to drag himself towards the bathroom.
"Dude," Dustin began. He still had the Gatorade in his hand so he tossed it on the bed before making his way towards Eric's side. "I told you to thump the walls."
Maybe that had been too hard for him but whatever, Dustin didn't think about it too much. He just bent down, wrapped the sick guy's arm around his shoulder and hauled him up as carefully as he could; slow enough so there would be no inadvertent pukings.
Inadvertent pukings never equaled happiness.
"Bed or bathroom?" he asked just in case Eric had changed his mind or something and the guy (the huge guy, by the way, he was bigger than Shane, like muscle-y and big) thankfully kinda jerked/flopped his head in the direction of the bed. Super good; that was much closer than the bathroom. Way easier to deal with.
They hobbled/collapsed onto the bed, Dustin grabbing the stray Gatorade bottle just before Eric fell on top of it. He placed it delicately on the nightstand then got to business re-wrapping the other ranger in blankets, making sure he wouldn't get cold.
It was too bad there weren't anymore pillows. A pillow mountain was always good whenever you had a cold. Dustin should look around the rest of the house to see if there were other bedrooms or something.
"You don't have any straws," Dustin began once he had Eric settled in (giving him a stink eye he in no way deserved, if anyone wanted to know). "Which is a shame because they greatly improve the whole drinking experience, seriously bro, and they like, keep your teeth from getting all stain-y." He leaned towards Eric to look him in the stink eye as he cracked the seal on the Gatorade bottle. "You should definitely consider investing in a box or two. It will change your life."
"Who…are you?" Eric grumbled, displeased or cranky (or both. It was most likely both), and Dustin waved another hand at him. It helped in these kinds of situations. Distracted from the things that need not be spoken of.
"We're not getting side-tracked," he lectured, because they weren't; Eric was going to drink his Gatorade and take his nap and Dustin was going to make soup and-
Oh, but for peace of mind…
"I'm Dustin," he explained, and then he offered the bottle out to Eric who had what he could only describe as the most epic look of disdain on his face.
For a second Dustin thought they were going to start throwing things again, but then Eric just grumbled and buried his face into his pillow, nesting down until he was just a pile of blankets.
The yellow ranger blinked, then waited, like, maybe the guy was gathering his energy, and when Eric continued to not turn back over and drink his electrolyte-regenerating beverage like a good little sick ranger Dustin gave a grumble himself and re-capped the bottle, placing it to the sides and rolling up his sleeves for the job to come.
He was Dustin Brooks. He was the yellow wind ranger, an earth ninja, and semi-pro motocross racer/mechanic. He had fought enough monsters to be well into double digits, he had been sucked into at least three alternate dimensions, he had been trapped as a perfume, he had been exploded more times than he could count, he had fought in enough zord battle to last him a lifetime and on top of all this he had dealt with not only Hunter, but Cam on the very worst of days.
He was not going to let some grumpy, bed-ridden, too-stubborn-for-his-own-good ranger stand in the way of him and making said ranger feel better. That was not in his realm of capabilities. Not now. Not ever.
Alright Eric, it's on.
"Now you," he muttered, grabbing at the lumps that were probably Eric's shoulders. "You are going to quit your-"
Eric fought against him, beginning to curl into a ball.
"He-ey!" Dustin cried, moving to straddle the slow moving mound of blankets; that would solve one problem, "I am here to help you. And you-"
With what Dustin assumed was an immense effort, Eric rolled to his other side, pinning Dustin partly beneath some blankets as a growl echoed out from the mulit-colored mass.
Dustin scrunched his nose. "You wanna play tough huh? Well-"
He sat up and dived-ish, as best as one could dive into a pile of bedspreads, and attempted to find the face of the elusive Qua-something ranger. When he did manage to pull off this monumental task he was met with an accusing look, eyes narrowed as Eric tried to bundle himself towards the edge of the bed.
"Wes sent you," he spat, so beyond displeased it wasn't funny, like he was offended by the very thought. And you know what? Fine. Let him think that. Clearly this Wes-guy was awesomesauce if he was nice enough to send people to help sick people, and if Eric didn't like that well, tough stuff. Now they could both be mildly unhappy.
"You need fluids," Dustin countered, grabbing onto Eric's shoulders and pulling him up into the sitting position, propping a few pillows behind his back while he remained the least helpful person ever.
"I don't need help," Eric declared, pretending for all the world that sitting up was exactly where he wanted to be the moment he realized he couldn't overpower Dustin. The yellow ranger shrugged and grabbed at the Gatorade bottle again.
"Right," he said, because Dustin found when you agreed with someone it was hard for them to keep arguing with you. "You need fluids."
Which was not help, it was a beverage. A delicious beverage.
Eric gave him/the wall a sullen look. "That's helping."
Alright. Fine. Time to break out the logic and smack down this ranger with some intellectual undeniabilities.
"How much have you drank today?" Dustin asked. "Have you had anything?"
There was the steady silence of Eric not replying because he was stupid and hadn't had anything.
"Right," Dustin said, holding up the bottle. "So since you know and I know you need fluids to stop feeling like a big ole' pile of awfulness, why don't we put an end to our little throwdown and you drink the freakin' beverage?"
When Eric continued to stare at him/wall because he had pride and couldn't admit to things, Dustin opened up the drink and took a long sip of it, making a show of wiping his lips with the back of his hand.
"Mmmm, yeah, man, this orange stuff, it's so good. And not poisoned. Look at how refreshing and healthy and aiding to my recovery it would be if I were sick. Perhaps you would like a taste?" He batted his eyes at Eric, because if he was going to be stupid then Dustin could be too, and the eyes, though narrowed, stared longingly at his bottle.
Dustin smiled and took another sip, sighing just as he pulled the bottle away. "Man this bottle is huge. I can't finish it. Would you…?" He tilted the bottle in Eric's direction, grinning innocently as he made his offering.
Eric gave him one last glare before begrudgingly relieving him of the bottle, chugging the thing in a couple of seconds before tossing the empty bottle over the side of the bed and collapsing back into his pile of blankets.
"Thanks," Dustin said, not at all smug or anything and helped Eric resettle himself. "You're a good friend."
When he went to go check on the chicken he heard a stubborn and not-at-all sincere protest.
"Not friends," Eric muttered.
See, Dustin knew it wasn't sincere because he was friends with Hunter, and when you were friends with Hunter, you knew when to look over some things.
They were totally on their way towards best-friendship.
After Dustin deboned the chicken and added the frozen vegetables into his wonderful-healing-soup-of-awesomeness he grabbed another two bottles of Gatorade and headed upstairs. More fluids definitely wouldn't hurt. Maybe he should have grabbed three bottles. You know what; he'd just go heavy on the orange juice whenever the soup was done. That would work.
Dustin had been checking in with Cyber Cam and Sensei regularly over the past couple hours. So far doom-pot man had been quiet, no actions, still just waiting for Dustin to come and get sucked in. Not that the yellow ranger wasn't grateful for it, but man, that guy was stupid. Clearly Dustin wasn't going to show up anytime soon. Shouldn't he be like, rampaging the city to make the yellow ranger come out or something?
Whatever, Dustin was willing to bite into this too-good-to-be-true sandwich. The way he figured, the guy from the other end of the phone was bound to show up sometime to check up on new-friend Eric. After that Dustin could find the weapon he sincerely hoped Eric had and leave, save his friends, and bring the weapon back. It was a win-win-win scenario (phone guy got to win because he got awesome-healing-soup).
When Dustin got back upstairs he was greeted with the sight of Eric staring very unhappily at his bathroom door, hands fidgeting in that oh-so familiar way that Dustin only had too much experience with. It was the potty-hand dance. The dance specially reserved for sickness when no other energy could be exerted to demonstrate how badly you needed…well, the potty (or the facilities, as Cam liked to put it).
Dustin blinked, trying to fight off the wave of sadness that hit when he thought of Cam, then shrugged, plastering on his best happy face.
"Bathroom?" he asked cheerfully, and he received a heavy and stubborn glare, because clearly no, Eric didn't need to use the bathroom, and if he did he could do it by himself, thanks.
Because he obviously hadn't attempted to drag himself there before. And had done pitifully. Of course it was obvious that if Eric had wanted to go to the bathroom he would have done it by now because he was fine.
Dustin sighed and put his two Gatorade bottles down, thinking of a new plan of attack.
"So…" he began after a few minutes of Eric glaring at his bathroom for having the audacity to be four feet away. "I have to use the bathroom."
That got Eric's attention.
The bed-ridden ranger blinked at him, confused, and Dustin cleared his throat awkwardly.
"I have to use the bathroom," he tried again. "But I…I uh, I get scared!"
Yes, that was it.
Eric jumped at his sudden outburst and Dustin smiled, clapping his hands at his own ingenuity.
"Yes!" he said, bounding over to the bed and gripping Eric's arm. "Yes, I get scared and I need you to come to the bathroom with me!"
He was met with a properly befuddled look and absolute silence, so Dustin added, "Please."
He was totally going to use this on Hunter if he ever got sick. No, wait, he'd tell it to Shane. It would be way funnier if the red ranger did it.
God he missed them so much-
"Fine," Eric grumbled, because he knew what it meant and Dustin knew what it meant and Dustin needed to stay focused and-
"Yes!" Dustin cheered, pumping his fist, and without further ado he freed Eric from his blanket cocoon and dragged him into the bathroom, going as fast as he could so that the other ranger wouldn't change his mind.
Dustin stared thoughtfully at the ceiling while he kept a hold of Eric's arm and another wrapped around his back, making sure to keep the other ranger stabilized while he did his business. Neither one of them commented when Dustin failed to use the bathroom, or for that matter, on any part of the bathroom excursion. What happened in the bathroom, stayed there.
Like, literally, but Dustin meant figuratively too.
"Tell no one," Eric grumbled after he face planted onto the bed.
"Why would I tell anyone about me using the bathroom?" Dustin replied innocently. "That would just be silly."
Eric lifted up his head and gave him a level look, studying him for the first time with what could have been serious intent. The other ranger nodded, then flopped back down, pulling a blanket around himself.
"Of course," he mumbled, sounding…relieved maybe? Or just like, tired and appreciative. "But we're still not friends."
"Okay," Dustin whispered, grabbing the abandoned Gatorade bottles. "We'll just be best friends."
He was pretty sure Eric had heard him but the other ranger didn't comment on it.
Which was his way of totally agreeing.
Dustin spoke fluent Hunter. He knew how it translated.
The soup was almost done, the grumpy pants mostly asleep, and Dustin was just searching out one more box of tissues to put by him when he discovered It.
Dustin hadn't been expecting a lot, okay, because even if he did get any weapons it wouldn't be ninja weapons (which were arguably the best) so when he found…it, he couldn't actually describe the supreme feelings of joy that fireworked out of his poor, overworked limbic system (yes, even in his state of complete awe he could still remember Cam's teachings).
It was a dinosaur gun.
Like, a dinosaur head, as a gun.
IT WAS THE RAY GUN!
It was red and black and silver and looked like a dinosaur and holy sweet mercy Dustin had never been more glad to see anything in his life. He could feel it, should it be weird that he could actually feel the morphing energy going through the gun? It matched the morpher on Eric's wrist; it had to be his.
This was it. This was the answer. This was what Dustin had needed and he found it and all he had to do was drive back to Blue Bay Harbor, sneak up on what's-his-face and shoot his doom pot dead.
And it had been hiding in Eric's bedside table the entire time. Figures he would keep it close by.
Dustin had checked under his pillow first.
Like fate or the universe or whatever decided to call, Dustin's morpher immediately started beeping, Cyber Cam informing him that doom-pot man was attacking civilians (finally) and it was now or never. Just after that Eric's phone rang again and, thank goodness, it was phone-man again, calling to say he was going to relieve Dustin of his duty.
Great. Awesome. Fine.
Dustin quickly told him (but his head was totally somewhere else) about the soup on the stove, the Gatorade that had been digested, and that phone man had to play nice (because for all Dustin knew he could be a crazy stalker man) and then he hung up without saying goodbye (so much more important things to do) and began packing up his stuff, shoving the dinosaur gun into his backpack and whispering a quiet goodbye to Eric, who had entered into fully-asleep mode.
He wished he could leave a note or something but there was no time. He had to get back. If he sped really fast and maybe ran lights and-
Oh, scratch that. Cyber Cam said to dump his bike in the woods. He would send the Samurai Star Megazord to pick Dustin up. Yeah, that would save a bunch of time. He would trade email addresses with Eric-new-friend whenever he came and returned the gun.
Of course, in all the excitement, it was highly plausible he may have forgotten to mention he was a ranger on a mission.
That probably wouldn't come back to bite him in the tukkis.
Wes was far into impressed when he surveyed Eric's house. Not only was it still in good condition with no obvious fires rampaging amuck, but the odors of what could only be the most delectable soup ever wafted through the air. Eric himself wasn't in too bad a condition; his bed was way cleaner from when Wes had last seen it (because he was an awesome friend and no, it wasn't just to take pictures, though those had been nice) and it even looked like…yep, the kid had managed to get Eric to drink something. Miracle worker.
Wes smiled. He would have to trade tips with this kid on Eric-handling. Despite his lack of social skills the kid had that down like a pro.
Maybe it was that "birds of a feather" thing at work.
"Glad to see you're in one piece," Wes offered, leaning against Eric's doorframe.
It would probably make him mad. It was Eric's doorframe and Eric should be leaning against it.
Wes slumped a little more.
Eric, unexpectedly, did not glare. He rolled his eyes instead and looked off to the side, fidgeting with his blanket. "Yeah well, that kid you sent over…he wasn't so bad."
The last part was said as off-handedly as possible, and Wes would be all for calling Eric out on that if he hadn't gotten stuck on the first part of the sentence.
"I didn't send him," Wes began, straightening up. "I thought he was your neighbor."
They stopped and stared, and Eric slowly craned his head around to make sure Wes wasn't playing him, but he wasn't because-
"Who. The hell. Was he?" Eric growled, fists clenching in his sheets as he began to sit up. Damn if he hadn't been perfectly content two seconds ago.
"Hold on," Wes said, trying (and failing, oh boy was he failing) to put a comforting hand on Eric's arm. "How did he get into your house?"
Eric gave him that special kind of silence that said he had absolutely no idea but refused to admit it to Wes.
Wes was fluent in Eric.
And that meant…
"Holy crap," Wes said, the beginnings of a laugh building in his throat. "A kid broke into your house and made you soup."
He then gave up on all pretense and burst out laughing because that, that was too sweet. Eric had a not-so-secret, super-fan admirer who was willing to put up with him while he was sick.
On second thought, kid totally earned his right to bask in his idol's presence.
"It isn't funny," Eric mumbled, trying very poorly to hide the flush in his cheeks. Eric hated the attention they got for being rangers. He just wanted to do his job.
"Think of it this way," Wes said, not attempting to cover his smile. "You said he wasn't so bad. That means you like-"
"Shut up," Eric warned, aiming a finger at his chest. "We never speak of this again."
And since it would be bad to encourage other young fans to break into their houses and (quite possibly) make them soup, Wes decided to go ahead and let the Quantum ranger's pride have this one.
"You gotta admit though, it is kinda sweet."
Eric shrugged, but Wes knew he totally agreed.
He almost felt bad for a moment. Eric had really liked that kid. He was probably disappointed with how things had turned out.
"What was his name?" Wes asked, scooping up some empty Gatorade bottles and depositing them in the trash can.
Eric grunted. "It doesn't matter, does it?"
Well maybe, but…
"I guess not," Wes said, shrugging his shoulders and barely containing his smirk.
He knew it. Eric did like that kid.
When he exited the room, fully intent on loading up some bowls with that delicious smelling soup, he stopped just outside the door, waiting for…
"Dustin," Eric mumbled, begrudgingly even to the emptiness of his room. "His name was Dustin."
Well, whatever Dustin had been looking for, Wes hoped he had gotten it. And he really hoped the kid would pop out of the woodwork again. Think of the evils they could do if they tag-teamed Eric together.
And that was the really important thing.
So the way I saw it, the Ninja team gets sucked into enough alternate dimensions that this outcome would be totally plausible. Just saying.
I'm not sure where I got this idea, but once Dustin + Eric came into my brain it wouldn't leave. It hads to happen.
And then it became Dustin + sick Eric and only winning could be achieved. Those two, combined = magic!
So yes, this is part one. Eventually there will be a part two pertaining to the return of the Quantum Defender (which is totally a dinosaur head and therefore cause of endless amusement).
I hope you enjoyed the read : )
Until next time.