Disclaimer: All standard ones apply, obviously.
To my reviewers: You guys are the ones who made me feel so bad about leaving the story on a cliff-hanger that I finally completed it. Feel proud of yourselves, and thank you sooo much for encouraging this story to it's close.
Mike raced through the halls of Terra Venture's main complex, Damon hot on his heels. Skidding to a stop at the doors to the med bay, he threw open the barriers keeping him from his brother and raked his eyes across all of the beds lined up against the walls. His frantic gaze finally located Leo on the bed farthest from the door against the left wall. Kai, Kendrix, and Maya were all gathered on his right side, their quiet voices the only sounds other than the heart monitor in the otherwise empty wing. All three jerked their heads up at his sudden appearance, but their tense stances relaxed as they recognized the intruder to be friend and not foe. Maya smiled wearily at him as Mike approached, but Mike couldn't bring himself to reciprocate. Staring down at his younger sibling's prone form, his mind flashed back to the conversation the two had held that morning.
"Could you leave us alone for a while?" he heard himself asking Leo's teammates. Maya responded for all of them.
"Absolutely," she replied immediately, and when she started towards the double doors, Kai and Kendrix followed. Damon placed his hand on Mike's shoulder reassuringly.
"He's gonna be okay, man. He's Leo." With that, he followed the other Rangers out of the hospital bay.
Mike almost fell into the plastic chair that was situated at Leo's bedside, and both his hands shakily reached out to envelop on of the other's. He tangled their fingers together and brought them up to his lips, a trembling sigh escaping him. Leo's eyes fluttered and opened; he blinked several times before focusing on the face beside him. A tired smile tugged his mouth upward.
"Hey there." Mike blinked.
"'Hey there?' You collapse in a routine practice and all you can say is 'hey there'?" The Red Ranger cocked his head to the side, confusion covering his features.
"I don't remember collapsing." Mike snorted, amused despite himself.
"That's because you lost consciousness." He stressed the last two words, causing Leo to grin in response. The lighthearted atmosphere dissolved much of Mike's previous worry.
A nurse chose that moment to come in and check the younger Corbett's vitals. She nodded as she watched the machines, making notes on her chart all the while. Gray eyes tracked her progress, finally causing her to acknowledge the youth who was staring at her.
"May I help you?" the nurse questioned. The brother shrugged, Leo's hand still encased in his own.
"Do you know what's wrong with my brother?" There was no use beating around the issue; Mike wanted to know as soon as possible so that he could have Leo back in their apartment and out of the cold, sterile med bay. The nurse smiled placatingly at him, relieved that he had asked a question she could answer.
"You're brother's severely exhausted and dehydrated. Apparently he hasn't been eating regularly either. Because his body was under so much strain, a small cold turned into a fever. This is why he collapsed earlier. He will be free to go in an hour of so to recuperate at home." Seeing that she had answered all the other man wanted to know, the young woman excused herself and went into a room labeled 'Medical Personnel Only'. Mike turned his eyes back to Leo, who was in turn watching him tiredly. The joking mood of before was absent from the room.
"What would have happened if you collapsed on a hunt?" he asked quietly, eyes boring into his younger brother. Leo closed his eyes and turned his head to the side, but Mike wasn't about to let this go. One of his hands reached out and grabbed the other's chin, forcing the eyes to hold his gaze.
"Mike," Leo began with a sigh, but his brother moved two fingers from his chin to hold his mouth closed.
"Don't try and worm your way out of this one," he growled. "If this had happened when you were fighting a monster, you would have died. Did you happen to forget the conversation we just had before breakfast?" Leo shook his head, lips straining against Mike's fingers, but couldn't succeed in opening his mouth. "You promised me that you'd take care of yourself, promised that you wouldn't leave me here alone. How am I supposed to believe that you'll keep your promise when you pull a stunt like this? Damnit, Leo, I will lock you in our room and keep you bound and gagged if you refuse to be careful!" Leo was finally able to wrench his lips open to answer his sibling's tirade.
"Mike, today was a mistake –"
"A mistake! It was you being careless!"
"No, actually, it was not having slept in a while and having my first full meal in almost three weeks be too soon before the workout! It wasn't being careless, but being sick had me weaker that I thought." Disbelief and doubt clouded his audience's features.
"You've been sick before, man, and you know your limits when you're healing. What aren't you telling me?" Fear tinted with grief flashed across the younger's face so fast that Mike almost didn't catch them, but years of living with Leo had made him able to pick up what might be lost on strangers. "Leo?"
"I don't know what you're talking about, Mike, and I'm definitely not hiding anything from you. Yeah, I made a mistake, that doesn't mean you can't trust me." The brunette shook his head sadly.
"It's something about that dream you had. Something's haunting you and I wanna know what." There were tears in his brother's eyes and Mike hated to think that he had caused them.
"Mike..." Leo's voice broke, but he cleared his throat and continued his plea. "Please, just let it go. It's over now, nothing to worry about."
"It is something to worry about. Whatever you saw, it's hurting you. If you keep this to yourself, you'll get sick again, maybe collapse and when that happens, we might not be so lucky." The possible scenarios ran through the technician's brain and a shudder rippled through him. Mike's pain broke Leo and tears started cascading down his boyish face.
"She died..." he whispered brokenly, making Mike lean forward to hear him.
"Who died, kiddo?" Mike's hand cupping his cheek, the other still entwined with his fingers, and the concerned voice of a big brother caused the tears to come faster.
"A couple of weeks ago... Margaret." Mike was suddenly granted clarity as his mind rewound to when Leo was talking about. Trakeena had come to wreak havoc as usual, but this time walked away with a casualty. The Rangers had been split up during battle and Leo had been with the one civilian who had so far been unable to escape. Leo had been doubled teamed, about to be triple-teamed by a third attacker sneaking up behind him, but the sneak had caught sight of Margaret and fired. Leo had had no chance to protect her from someone he hadn't even seen yet, and by the time he had dispatched of the other two opponents, it had been too late.
Taking in a shaky breath at the realization of the guilt Leo must now be harboring, Mike used his thumb to wipe away several of the tears from the ruddy cheeks.
"Oh hell, bro," he whispered, voice cracking. "God, Leo, that wasn't your fault."
"I let her die, Mike..." There was a vulnerability in his sibling's words that released the floodgates behind the elder's eyes.
"You didn't. You did everything you could." He saw that Leo was about to interrupt and shook his head firmly. "Look at me. Now listen." Their eyes locked. "It wasn't your fault. You have no reason to go and punish yourself just because those bastards didn't fight fair." Guilt still laced the chocolate orbs, but Leo trusted his brother infinitely, and if Mike said it wasn't his fault, then could he really be innocent? "You did everything you could and a hell of a lot better than I could. Now, yeah, I'm sorry she died and I'm not saying you shouldn't be. But unless you realize that her death wasn't your doing, you'll be going to join her soon. We've had this part of the conversation before, kid, you know I couldn't live without you.
"So, you have two choices. You can either die for her... or you can live for me." Silence reigned in the room until Leo let out a choked sob, dissolving into tears three weeks overdue. Feeling that the danger had finally passed, Mike moved to hold his brother's trembling for, letting the healing begin.
-2 Days Later-
"Leo, I swear, eat your dinner or I'll force feed you!" Mike yelled, thoroughly exasperated. Leo jumped from his position in front of the TV. and walked over to the kitchen table, muttering obscenities under his breath. As he settled down and began eating, Mike took the time to study his brother.
In two days, the younger Corbett had gone from crying on a hospital bed to laughing and enjoying his life again. Their talk in the med wing and others that followed had done wonders to alleviate the guilt still residing from Margaret's death. The feeling of failure would never be fully gone, but it would also never again endanger his brother's life. Color was now back to Leo's face and a sparkle was in his eyes, though the gaze leveled at Mike over chipmunk-like cheeks was in no way friendly.
"Happy?" Leo managed to get out around the food. Mike gave a content smile.