Disclaimer: Buena Vista owns the Power Rangers. No profit from or offense intended to Motel 6 or McDonalds. Thanks to the PRC at RangerBoard for motivation, character analysis, and much silly fun.
Cam was gone. And the phone was ringing. He wasn't sure which he noticed first, but neither one seemed like a good omen. He'd be better off to close his eyes again, pull the pillow over his head, and just forget today.
Blake was getting married. Damn. That wouldn't work, then. He'd used that method to some effect in the past.
Why the hell was the phone ringing? He rolled over, banging his hand against the table as he fumbled for the receiver. "Yeah," he mumbled. He was greeted by a dial tone.
The phone rang again, and he groaned. Cam must have changed the ring tone on his cell. It was all the way on the other side of the room, too, by the sound of it. There was no way he was going to get there before voice mail picked up, so he just dropped the hotel phone back on the table and stared up at the ceiling.
Cam was gone. Just to be sure, he cleared his throat and called, "Cam?"
There was no answer.
The phone had finally stopped ringing. He braced his arms behind him and pushed himself up, squinting around the room. It was freakishly neat. Of course. He was sharing a room with Cam, after all. He obviously hadn't made any effort to be quiet before he took off. Too bad Hunter had slept through it anyway.
What time was it? The only way to answer that question was to find his phone, so he shoved the sheets away and swung his legs over the side of the bed. There he paused, regarding the room through half-closed eyes.
Hurricane Cam had definitely been here. His guitar had been returned to its case and stowed by the bureau. All their clothes had been picked up, Hunter's folded neatly and set on top of his duffel bag and Cam's nowhere in sight. The other bed had been made, with the "strip" card placed exactly in the middle and propped up against the pillows so there would be no missing it.
Well, that was it then. Cam was clearly not freaking out, so there was no reason for him to. He levered himself out of bed, blinking the sleep out of his eyes as best he could. He'd slept surprisingly well, considering the circumstances.
What those circumstances were, exactly, he wasn't sure. He knew he wasn't up to thinking about it this early in the morning, though. At... 7:29? How early had Cam gotten up, that he'd had time to reorganize the entire room and still be dressed and gone by 7:29?
At least, Hunter assumed he was dressed. His lips quirked, and he couldn't quite put that image out of his mind. And unfortunately, that image only prompted others. They didn't even seem real this morning--and if he admitted it to himself, he wasn't sure whether that was good or bad.
He picked up his phone and called Blake back without bothering to listen to the message he'd left. Blake shouldn't be up this early either. What was the point of having an afternoon wedding if you were just going to get everyone up at seven-thirty anyway?
Blake answered on the first ring. "Yeah."
"Hey, bro." Hunter didn't try to sound anymore awake than he was. "What's going on?"
"I'm being kicked out of the apartment," Blake informed him. "You want breakfast?"
Was everyone in the world already awake? Hunter reached up to scrub his face with one hand, trying to figure out an appropriate response. "Yeah," he said at last, staring over at the bed he'd just gotten out of. "Sure. Give me a few minutes to shower, okay?"
"Aw, did I wake you up? Sorry, bro. The girls have been up forever; I forgot how early it was."
"S'okay," Hunter muttered. "C'mon over. I'll be ready by the time you get here."
"You want me to pick something up on the way?" Blake offered. "We can eat there if you want."
He shook his head, even though he knew Blake couldn't see it. "Nah, it's fine. I'll be ready."
"Right. Be there in ten."
He really was anxious to get out of the house. "Sure," Hunter said with a sigh. He set the phone back on the bureau and headed for the bathroom, wondering where Cam was. The keys to the truck were still there, so he couldn't have gone far. Would he be hungry?
The bathroom was still damp, and he frowned to himself. Cam hadn't been gone that long, after all. His towel was tossed over the hook on the back of the door, while the hotel towels still hung neatly on the rack. Only Cam.
He had turned the water on before the fact that Blake would be here in ten minutes really sank in. He hesitated, considering the bathroom, but what was compromising about towels? He headed out into the room and cranked the windows open, turning up the air conditioning as he did so. The hotel staff would love him, but he was going to get some air into this room. Fast.
He showered as quickly as he could, managing to get dried off and at least half-dressed by the time Blake knocked on the door. Glancing around the room, he caught sight of the boxers and t-shirt folded on top of his duffel bag. Yeah, because he folded his clothes all the time. He stuffed them into the bag, closed the windows, and grabbed a shirt as he headed for the door.
Blake was knocking again when he yanked it open, and he must have looked annoyed because his brother apologized. "I didn't really mean to get you up," Blake said ruefully. "I just didn't think."
There was a lot of that going around, Hunter thought. "Nah, it's all right," he said aloud. "You tired, after last night? C'mon in," he added, backing away from the door to pull his t-shirt over his head.
"Too nervous to be tired," Blake said with a grin. He shoved his hands in his pockets as he sauntered into the room, letting the door slam behind him. "I couldn't sleep last night. And it wasn't because we probably violated fire code by having that many guests."
"It's gonna be good," Hunter said over his shoulder, grabbing his wallet and his room key and stuffing them in his pockets. "Everything's gonna go just like it's supposed to."
"Yeah, right." The wry note to his voice made him sound just like Cam. "Like that ever happens. We'll be lucky if everyone shows up, let alone does what they're supposed to do."
"Hey, I'm supposed to be the cynical one, bro," Hunter reminded him. He glanced at his hair in the mirror, decided to ignore it, and gestured toward the door. "Let's go find something to eat."
"Where's Cam?" Blake wanted to know. "He coming?"
Hunter glanced over his shoulder, checking to make sure the keys were obvious. Cam knew he could take the truck if he wanted to, right? Maybe he should bring his phone. "He was gone before I got up," Hunter said, backtracking to pick up the phone. "He gets up early."
"Gone where?" Blake asked, waiting by the door. "What'd he do, take the bus to the library? I don't think they're open this early on Saturdays."
"I dunno." He wasn't going to admit how much it was nagging at him, either. "He knows we're all meeting at eleven. He'll be back by then."
Pulling the door shut behind him, Hunter turned in time to see Blake shake his head. "I dunno, bro," he echoed. "Not telling you where he's going? That's the first sign... Before you know it, he's not gonna be holding doors for you anymore."
"Shut up," Hunter snapped without thinking.
Blake looked taken aback, but all he said was, "Sorry."
"No--" Damn it. Sure, he was fine as long as he didn't have to interact with anyone. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean..." He sighed, shooting a covert look around the empty lobby as they entered. "I had kind of a bad night, okay? Didn't mean to jump on you like that."
"Bad night, huh?" Blake waited until they were outside to add, "Doesn't have anything to do with the reason Cam's gone, does it?"
"No," Hunter retorted. He frowned at Blake's shrug, belatedly remembering just how much his brother must have seen last night. "What are you smirking at?"
Blake, whose expression had been perfectly calm up until that point, did smile at that. He pulled the car door open and lifted his hands in self-defense. "Hey, I'm not smirking, bro."
"You look like you're smirking," Hunter grumbled, throwing himself down in the passenger seat and folding his arms. "You got something to say, just say it."
Blake put the key in the ignition and the car into gear, not saying anything about Hunter's lack of a seatbelt. "Thought getting some would put you in a better mood," he said bluntly. "Didn't think it'd make you even more broody."
Hunter glared at the dashboard, refusing to take the bait. Not that his silence wouldn't tell Blake everything he needed to know. His brother read him better than anyone, and the only secrets he kept from Blake these days were Cam's. Blake had probably known before he walked into the room.
"So, you did sleep with him," Blake remarked, when the silence stretched out. If that was his way of continuing the conversation, it wasn't a particularly brilliant one.
"Yes, I slept with him," Hunter snapped. "I screwed up, all right? Good job, Hunter, you win the Stupid Prize."
Blake didn't answer right away. Finally, though, he remarked, "Cam looked pretty into you last night, bro. From where I was standing, he sure didn't look like he was protesting."
"Yeah, well." Hunter transferred his gaze to the window. "Maybe I should have been."
Blake snorted. "You're not gonna convince me that was one-sided, bro."
Of course it wasn't one-sided. Cam had been on last night, and no one on the planet could have turned him down. Hunter braced his elbow against the door and propped his chin on his fist, staring out at the side of the road without seeing it. What else was he supposed to do with a Cam that was passionate, hungry, and very, very willing?
"He was frustrated," Hunter mumbled, watching the white line slide by at the bottom of the glass. His own reflection flickered with the changing scenery. "I took advantage of him."
"Whoa," Blake interjected, making him realize he shouldn't have said that aloud. "Cam's a big boy. He can make his own decisions. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't like you taking responsibility for anything he did."
"Somehow," Hunter told the window, "I don't think he's gonna see it that way."
"You think he's mad at you?" Blake asked incredulously. "That's crazy. You're best friends. He's practically in love with you!"
Hunter flinched. Should he have seen it coming? Guessed, or... something?
"Hunter?" Blake sounded uncertain. "He's not, is he?"
No. Because honestly, Cam? Who the fuck did Cam love? No one. Not one single time in the history of Cam Dating had he given a damn about the other person in the relationship, beyond the usual "oh, she had a bad day at work" or "he was bummed that I had to cancel." Passing stuff, nothing that had even once made him change his plans with Hunter. Cam just didn't care that much.
Blake didn't ask again, and they rode in silence until they turned into the entrance to Mickey D's. Even then, Hunter opened his mouth and closed it again, thinking better of it. But when Blake turned the car off and reached for the door, Hunter burst out, "You know what really bugs me? That he didn't tell me. All this time, he didn't tell me, and what the hell am I supposed to think about that?"
Blake paused, glancing over at him. "All this time?"
"What's wrong with me that he can't tell me something like that?" Hunter demanded. "I told him when I first got laid, and he can't tell me how he freakin' feels about me?"
Blake cleared his throat, and he would have sworn his brother was trying not to grin. "Bro... no offense, but the first time you got laid? That's not a story that's gonna make someone who, y'know... cares about you, feel any better."
Hunter frowned through the windshield at the lamppost in front of the car. "It was a support thing," he muttered. "He was coming out."
"Yeah, well, it wasn't exactly about emotional commitment," Blake pointed out. "You do have a kind of love 'em and leave 'em history."
"Which has nothing to do with Cam!" Hunter said defensively. "He knows I wouldn't ditch him!"
"Like he knew you wouldn't love him?" Blake suggested.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Hunter demanded, glaring at his brother. "I don't--" His glare was met by raised eyebrows and a pointed look.
He slumped in his seat, averting his gaze. Like he didn't feel crummy enough already. "If I'd thought I had a chance with Cam, I never would have slept with him," he mumbled. "He's gotta know that."
That made Blake pause, but hell, he didn't even know what it meant, so he couldn't really blame him. Finally, though, Blake just asked, "You think that makes him feel better?"
Hunter grabbed the door handle and pushed, climbing out of the car without another word. He didn't need to hear any more about Cam right now. He didn't need to think any more about Cam right now. All he really needed was a lot of greasy breakfast that Cam would never eat without complaining. Loudly. And for way too long.
Blake did him a favor and changed the subject for a while, going on about the chaos that had taken over his apartment and the flowers that Marah and Kapri were even now cutting and tying and wiring and who knew what else. It was enough to make a guy hire a florist, as far as Hunter was concerned, but Blake and Tori didn't have that kind of money. They were doing this entire wedding with what was essentially a student budget and the help of Tori's family.
They were lucky to be getting married at all, he thought, a little morosely. Not that he wanted to get married, but of course he couldn't even if he did. Not in California. And not in any church. Not that he wanted that either. It was just a matter of principle.
Blake kicked his chair, and Hunter looked up in surprise. "You listening?" his brother wanted to know.
"Sure." Hunter had no idea what he was talking about, but Blake was stealing his fries and that was totally uncalled for. "Hey, eat your own!"
"You're the only person who orders fries with a breakfast sandwich," Blake told him.
"But I guess I'm not the only person who eats them," Hunter retorted. "If you want some, get them yourself!"
Blake just smirked, dipping another fry in ketchup and studying him across the table as he popped it into his mouth. "So, do you love him?"
Hunter choked on his soda. "What?" he sputtered. "Me? Who?"
Blake chuckled, taking another fry. He had almost finished his breakfast while Hunter wasn't even halfway done, and wasn't that a switch. "Cam, who else? You don't do dark and brooding for just anyone anymore. Do you love him?"
"Of course not!" he exploded. There was a family by the windows shooting him furtive looks, and he lowered his voice a little. "Don't be ridiculous, bro. This is Cam we're talking about. Remember, nerdy tech support guy?"
Blake just shook his head. "You never saw him that way," he informed Hunter.
"I still see him that way," Hunter retorted. "No matter how many degrees or students or whatever he ends up with. I don't care how much he changes his wardrobe or how well he sings or what the fuck kind of car he drives, he's still that guy who asked the Wind Rangers if they were happy with their long distance service over Shane's morpher five years ago!"
And now that family was really staring at him. He swung his head around to stare at them, and they hastily turned back to their own breakfast. There was another guy a few tables down, reading a newspaper and minding his own business as far as Hunter could tell, but Hunter glared at him too just in case.
"Whatever you say, bro." Blake's voice brought his attention back to the fry-stealing that was still going on, and he frowned at his brother.
"You want to finish the rest of my food while you tell me about my love life?" he demanded.
"What love life?" Blake countered, reaching for his sandwich. Hunter slapped his hand away irritably, and Blake just grinned. "Thought you weren't in love with anyone."
"I'm not," Hunter snapped. He took a tremendous bite of his sandwich, partly to keep Blake from getting any ideas, and partly to keep from having to explain. He didn't love Cam. He couldn't. They would kill each other.
"Sure," Blake agreed amiably. "Because you panic every time you sleep with someone."
Hunter's eyes widened, and he glared balefully at his brother. It took a couple of swallows accompanied by a really irritating smirk from Blake before he could manage, "I am not panicking!"
Blake frowned suddenly, craning his neck to look over Hunter's shoulder. "Hey, is that your truck?"
He had turned halfway in his seat before he caught himself, picking up the burnt end of a fry and flicking it at his brother. "Very. Funny!"
Blake was snickering, clearly getting way too much enjoyment out of this. "C'mon, bro," he chortled. "You pushed me and Tori together for ages! What's wrong with you and Cam?"
"I didn't push you together," Hunter objected. "Believe me, you didn't need any pushing!"
Blake leaned forward, his grin fading to an insistent smirk. "What's wrong with you and Cam?" he repeated. "Why do you flip whenever someone mentions it? You obviously get along great--God knows why. And you're totally into each other. What's wrong with doing something about it?"
"We get along because we're friends," Hunter informed him. "I wasn't kidding when I said it would last a week. Cam gave it a day," he added darkly.
"So you've talked about it?" Blake pressed. "C'mon, this is ridiculous! You already know everything about each other that drives you crazy. Most people have to figure that out after they start dating, not before."
"Yeah, which is why it would never work," Hunter said firmly. "You can put up with a lot in a friend that would drive you nuts in a date."
"Like you take any crap from your friends," Blake scoffed.
"The only reason we're friends is 'cause I can walk out on him when he pisses me off!" Hunter exclaimed. He was aware in the back of his mind that he hadn't walked out on Cam in a long time. If ever. "You can't do that to a date!"
Blake was shaking his head. "If anything Cam did drove you that crazy, you wouldn't spend every free weekend in Blue Bay Harbor with him. Next argument."
"I'm not proving this to you!" Hunter snapped.
"No," Blake interrupted. "You're not. 'Cause all I hear is you telling me that you can't be together, not that you don't want to be."
"Same thing," Hunter insisted.
"No, it's not!" Blake looked exasperated. "Look, you've never played dumb about relationships before. What's different about this one?"
"I'm not playing dumb," Hunter grumbled. "I'm just saying. Maybe Cam deserves better, all right?"
Blake considered that for maybe half a second. "Nope," he said, shaking his head again. "Not buying it. You got him through that shit with the Academy and the stuff with his dad afterward. You're good for him; you've told me so a dozen times."
"Good for him doesn't mean good with him," Hunter said irritably. "Just leave it alone, all right? We're friends. We're gonna keep being friends. That's it."
"Friends that sleep together?" Blake inquired.
"No," Hunter gritted. He was lying through his teeth, but it sounded so good. "I told you, that was a mistake. We have to just forget it and go back to the way we were."
Blake snorted. "Doesn't work that way, and you know it. You're so done with the friend thing. Trust me, I know. Once you've been in bed together--you don't go back from that."
"We have to," Hunter insisted, squashing the last of his sandwich into a little flat pancake on his tray. "Let it go already!"
"Why?" Blake demanded, equally intent. "Why won't you even think about it?"
"Because it won't work and I can't lose him over this! I can't, Blake!" He stared at his brother, finally seeing the understanding dawn in Blake's expression. He had to close his eyes, not wanting to acknowledge it himself. "It would kill me," he muttered. "Do you get that? It would kill me."
There was a long pause, and then Blake agreed quietly, "Yeah. I get that."
Hunter crumpled up the sandwich wrapper and pushed it across his tray. He finished off his soda, avoiding Blake's gaze the whole time. "Can we get out of here?" he wanted to know. "What time is it, anyway?"
Blake glanced at his watch automatically. "Just after eight-thirty." He seemed to consider that, then added, "Good time for cartoons."
Hunter felt the corner of his mouth lift, and he managed a half-smile. "Yeah," he agreed gratefully. Mindless animation was about the level of activity he was up for right now. "Sounds good."
They were quiet for most of the ride back, Hunter staring out the window and Blake thinking about who knew what over there. His cell didn't ring, and when they got back to the room the truck keys were right where he had left them. It was stupid to worry. Like Blake had said, Cam was a big boy. He could take care of himself.
He wished Cam had taken the cell phone.