Disclaimer: If Power Rangers belonged to me, in any incarnation, I'd be too busy ogling my private episode collection to write this. Obviously I'm not, because my private collection consists of seven DVDs, one VHS, and various tape-recorded episodes that were sucked up by the Evil Black Hole that Circulates My Room(tm).

I just realized the other day that my watch looks like one of the MMPR communicators. It's clear plastic, so obviously the band is different, and has a shiny blue face, but the bubble over the face makes me think of them. This thought just occurred to me as I was driving to work, and I'm not sure why. It makes my watch even cooler, though. ^_^

After that random thought, many thanks to everyone who's reviewed Forced Confessions and Comaraderie. I hope you all like this one as well.

AREH#1: Here's your explanation of how Dustin's mom reacted.

cmar: *Bows* Thanks for your complements. Here's the part *you* asked for, about why Shane doesn't question his preferences. Don't worry; things are far from over. By the way, is it the end of February yet? ^_~

Weesta: *Giggles* I was wondering why no one commented on the fistfight. I'm glad to know you approve. I tried to make Shane have to suffer for a bit on his decision, and as for the women knowing more, I've always considered Shane to be a little slow on the uptake in some things. And yes, it's still going. It's not about Comaraderie anymore, but there are still more plot bunnies bouncing around. *Curses* I've read too many Sugarplum comments. The plot bunnies are contagious!

I think I had too much sugar again this weekend. Blasted Valentine's Day. All it is anymore is a day for lonely people to eat too much candy and couples to be sappy. Yes, I'm broody today. *Pouts* Thankfully, I wrote this *before* I brooded. Enjoy.

Second Thoughts

Shane lay on his bed, staring at his ceiling. He'd brought Dustin home, only to watch his mother cry and fuss over him, demanding to know what had happened. Dustin had handled her with a patience few rarely saw in him, but he was used to dealing with his mother's antics. A slight smile crossed Shane's face as he wondered what Cam and the Thunders would think if they found out Dustin was one of the more stable members of his family.

The smile faded as the memory went on. He'd been politely and rather pointedly told that it was late, and his parents must be worried. Dustin had flashed him a smile as he was leaving, and then the door closed in his face. It was at that moment that the true implications of what he'd done set in.

He'd spent these past few months thinking about whether he loved Dustin romantically. When he'd finally reached his conclusion, he was so happy about the idea of seeing Dustin give him a real smile again he didn't stop to think things through. Yeah, he loved Dustin, and he liked knowing that the more he said it the more he wanted to grin like an idiot. But loving Dustin and being in a relationship were two different things, and he was just now realizing the changes this would bring in his life.

The Rangers, thankfully, weren't a concern now. Tori would be happy that they were happy. Hunter and Cam obviously weren't a problem, and if Blake was okay with them he doubted he would mind him and Dustin. Sensei was hard to judge, but somehow he figured he would accept it. Or at least he hoped so. He frowned at the thought of another complication.

Kelly apparently didn't care. Storm Chargers had been his favorite hangout since the day it opened, and Kelly had become a good friend. She was like a big sister to them, and he knew Dustin would be glad to know she'd be supportive. If nothing else, they would always have a place to go.

The kids at school would definitely not be cool. Dustin wasn't much liked in the first place, for reasons he still didn't understand. They never had any classes together, which made it harder to keep an eye on him. He'd always insisted that school was fine, that no one bothered him, but he and Tori knew him too well to believe it. If anyone knew they were dating... He shivered. They'd have to be careful.

And then there was his family. He frowned. He honestly had no idea what his parents' stance on gays was, and he was a little afraid to ask now. Porter, who knew? They'd never exactly been close in the first place, and this probably wouldn't help things. And even if they were all accepting, which he was a little skeptical of, there was a whole different problem.

There was a light knock on his door. "Come in, Mom." he said automatically.

She poked her head in, frowning at him as he rolled over onto his stomach to stare at her. "Shane, what happened?" she asked worriedly.

He frowned, wondering what she was talking about, then abruptly remembered his fight with Dustin. "Oh. Uh..."

She shook her head with a sigh. "I'll get the first aid kit."

She returned within moments, and he sat up obediently. He watched her eyes crinkle with her worried frown as she cleaned the tiny cuts. She worked silently for a moment before glancing at his eyes. "You wanna tell me something?"

His gaze dropped. "Dustin and I got into a fight."

She sighed again, but this time it was with fondness. "You boys never can settle an argument reasonably."

"Mom, how do you feel about gays?" he blurted out, then inwardly cursed his big mouth. That was subtle.

Her hand paused for a split second. "Why do you ask?"

He tried not to fidget. "I just...wondered."

She stopped what she was doing to look at him. "I'm not homophobic, Shane." she told him seriously. Just as he began to relax, she continued "But your father is."

He froze, the words echoing through his mind. His chest felt tight suddenly, and he wondered distantly if this was what a heart attack felt like.

"Shane. Baby, look at me."

He reacted instinctively to the firm voice, forcing himself to look at his mother. Her expression remained serious, but her eyes were concerned. "He's not abusive or violent, but he is against it." she told him. She reached out to stroke his cheek. "But I think he loves you enough to get used to the idea."

"I didn't say *I* was!" he snapped defensively.

She raised an eyebrow. "Then why did you ask?"

The anger faded in front of her calm expression, and he flopped over backwards with a groan. "I don't know. If I am, I mean."

"Why don't you try telling me the whole story, so I can have an idea of what you're talking about?" she suggested, sounding amused.

And he did. He told her what Dustin had said to him two months ago, about all the time he'd spent thinking about it ever since, wondering if he cared the same way. He told her about the fights with Tori, about Kelly telling him what he'd been pondering so long. He told her about Hunter and the discussion they'd had, carefully editing out the bits about the Rangers, of course. He told her about finally confronting Dustin, physically fighting over whether or not he loved him, only to end up laying together in the grass for an hour. He told her about taking Dustin home and being dismissed by his mother, and the realization that he'd never thought things out beyond what he felt. He told her how scared he was, for Dustin, for himself, of what their families would think. She listened silently, letting him take as much time as he needed to talk, never interrupting. In the end, he felt a little better for it as he turned his head to look at her.

"That's a lot to think about." she said at last. "You've been really worried, haven't you?"

He nodded wordlessly.

She smiled down at him. "Does it matter if you're gay or bisexual, if you're with Dustin?"

"No." he said instantly, blinking as the instinctive response registered.

"Then don't worry about that so much." she soothed. "As for Dustin's family, he'll have to take care of that on his own. All you can do is support him if he needs it."

"And Dad?"

The smile faded a little. "Let me work on your father." she said at last. "You just enjoy whatever time you two get together." She leaned down and kissed his forehead, then patted his shoulder as she stood up.

He sat up a little, suddenly feeling like he owed her something. "Thanks, Mom. Love you."

She glanced back with a warm smile. "Love you too, Baby." The door closed, and he was left alone with his thoughts.

He immediately rolled over to bury his face into his pillow and scream. Tori was wrong; it didn't help.