Disclaimer – I don't own Power Rangers in any incarnation. Just writing for fun.

Author's Note – Here it is, Akume – that Shane/Dustin fic I've been saying all this time I would write. You've inspired me, now get to work on that Jason fic. :-P

"Marah! Marah, come look!"

Marah tried to ignore Kapri's strident call. She could hear in the sound of her sister's voice that whatever it was she wanted Marah to look at would only end up making her feel stupid or miserable. She felt miserable enough when she should've been ecstatic.

She'd managed to gain the trust of the Yellow Ranger – she'd put on the performance of a lifetime. She tricked him into giving her enough power to give Beevil the power she needed. And well, okay, in the end Beevil was defeated…but that wasn't the point. They did still have the Kelzack Furies, so even without Beevil they had come out ahead.

It wasn't the loss of Beevil that was bothering Marah at all; rather, she felt like she had lost something important when she betrayed Dustin. It was kind of astonishing, really. He really had trusted her, when instincts and certainly all of the other Rangers must have told him not to. It was a gift she had taken for granted and tossed aside. Not that she had a choice. Being an evil space alien in training didn't leave much time for friends…or boyfriends. Whatever.

"Hurry! Hurry! You're going to miss it!"

With a sigh, Marah drew herself up from the couch and headed for the sound of Kapri's insistent shrieking.

The bridge was crowded as usual, with Uncle Lothor in his chair and various generals and Kelzacks gathered around. All of them stopped talking as soon as Marah entered – as if they had all been talking about her behind her back. As soon as Kapri spotted Marah entering the bridge she skipped over to her side. The look on her face said she was anticipating a serious reaction from Marah, even as her honeyed-words belied her expression.

Kapri linked her arm through Marah's as she guided her over to the view screen. "You know…" she began in that false-friendly tone, loud enough for everyone to hear "when you first came up with this whole Beevil plan, I never thought you would pull it off. I thought 'she doesn't have it in her…she's just not mean enough.' But my hat's off to you, sister. You've really done it."

Kapri's wide-eyed and sincere expression made Marah's stomach clench. Some snickers from the assembled aliens only added to her discomfort. Oh, this is going to be bad.

Kapri unhooked her arm from Marah's and swung herself in front of the view screen. She reached out to place her hands on Marah's shoulders. "I never thought I would live to see the day when you surpassed me on the scale of "evil alien" but even I can't compete with this." She gestured grandly to the view screen and she theatrically stepped aside.

"You've made him go GAY!" Kapri shrieked. Everyone on the bridge let loose all of the laughter they'd been holding back, waiting to see Marah's reaction.

Marah gasped as she stepped closer to the screen. The scene it displayed was idyllic. On a large outcropping of rock overlooking the lush mountain valley sat two young men. The leaves in the trees glowed a vibrant green; the sun painted a palate of gold and red against the undersides of the clouds. But neither young man was interested in the astonishing scenery or the spectacular sunset, they were too wrapped up in each other.

Kapri was doubled over with laughter. "You should have come when I called you earlier. It was so touching." She drew herself up and exaggeratedly batted her eyes at Marah. "The Yellow Ranger was moping all alone, when the Red one came to sit with him."

"They were talking…blah, blah, blah…I can't believe I fell for Marah's trick." Kapri was laughing so hard she needed Choobo to hold her up.. "I think he actually shed a tear or two for you. It was so pathetic!"

"Even I shed a tear." interjected Uncle Lothor waving a ridiculously large hanky in Marah's direction.

"The Red Ranger moved in real close, " Kapri continued dropping her voice to a sexy whisper, "and he started spouting all that, 'your friends are here for you' nonsense. There was a hug…and then the KISSING started!" Kapri pulled herself upright once again and said in an overly-exaggerated tone. "I was shocked!"

"I was a little shocked myself." Lothor stated, "I thought this was a family show. I had to send some of the younger Kelzacks out of the room."

Lothor and Kapri exchanged a glance, then the two burst out laughing again.

Marah didn't know what to do; she didn't know what to think. Her heart was caught by the lovely scene. Could none of the rest of them see it? Didn't any of the rest of them want it for themselves? Tears welled up unbidden in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks.

The tears didn't get by Kapri who taunted, "I think Marah needs your hanky now, Uncle!"

Marah watched as the silent scene unfolded, longing for a connection like the two Rangers shared. Every gesture, every nuance ripped at her soul. Even after the two had stopped kissing and sat in companionable silence she could not tear her gaze away. She wanted to be the one to find comfort in the arms of a friend. She wanted to have someone to sit with in silence; being accepted and loved. She didn't have it and he did.

Marah came back to herself with a start. She was standing by the view screen holding the edge in a death grip. She could feel her insides trembling and fought with every ounce of control not to show her despair to those who stood there waiting to mock her. They had all had their laugh, but Marah had not disintegrated or gone hysterical in the way they'd anticipated. It was disappointing.

Unsure of what to do in light of Marah's lack of reaction, Lothor stepped in. "Well, I have to say this is a banner day. Marah has shown that she is capable of true evil. Not one, but two Rangers have made decisions that will alter their lives and their thinking. They will be despised by their families and their team…possibly even thrown out on the street." Lothor paused as he pondered that possibility. "All in all, it's been a good day's work. Who's hungry?"

"Oh, me!" was Kapri's instant and chipper reply. There was a general sense of agreement from all gathered who moved to follow Lothor as he made his way off of the bridge and down to the mess hall. Marah alone remained behind.

She watched the Rangers long after the others were gone and the sunset had melted into twilight, and then true night. For each moment the Rangers shared Marah was cut more deeply with longing and envy. Silently, there on the bridge, her feelings changed to something else. Kapri was right in her assessment that she would no longer be able to compete with Marah in her level of evil scheming, though she'd said it as a joke. As Marah ached for what she'd thoughtlessly tossed away she became resolved. If I can't have it, neither can he.

So it begins - TBC