Disclaimer: Dark and brooding Justin isn't the hyperactive fanboy you see in the series. Therefore, while I have changed his character (severely), he is not mine. Neither is Rocky, much to my dismay. Family backgrounds however, particularly Nathan and Nel, are my ideas. Obviously, this only further points out the fact that I do not own, nor do I work for, the current owners of the Power Rangers series.
Yet another story where I wrote the last chapter first. I was just struck with the thought of how Justin would have felt after Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie was over. Then I started thinking about the bond I've created between Rocky and Justin in the Fade to Darkness Trilogy, and just how it developed. So, I wrote this.
Again, my Justin is not the cannon Justin. These are glimpses of why he says some of the things he does as Zeus, and what made him into such a dark person. I always thought it was sort of odd that he was all rude and irritated in the beginning of the movie, in shock in the middle, and then suddenly became all hyperactive fanboy. So in my world, he's not normally hyperactive fanboy. That, and I always wondered how a twelve year old could learn to drive that well in what had to be an hour, maybe two at most. As for the other point mentioned here (repeatedly), from the moment I began writing Justin fanfics, I could not get the idea of Nathan out of my head. I've thought of changing his character or taking him out to make it a bit more believable, but he just won't leave me alone. So I gave up. I find it's much easier to surrender to the muse.
I am well aware that Rocky should not allow what he lets Justin do in this chapter. I don't condone it; I just write it. Also, Justin is twelve. I'm still not sure if he was supposed to be twelve turning thirteen during Turbo, or eleven turning twelve. Here, he's twelve and this is before the movie. And Justin has incredibly foul mouth, especially in The Story.
He stared out the window, determined to ignore the intruder until they went away. All of the shelter volunteers were irritatingly perky people who kept trying to cheer him up. Some of them were just more annoyingly persistent than others.
"You look like you could use something to do."
He turned to give the person his most withering stare. It was Rocky this time; that at least was a blessing. He could deal with Rocky's overly friendliness in small doses much better than he could handle Kat or Tanya's mothering. The three of them were the only volunteers left that he hadn't driven off yet.
He wished they'd just leave him alone. Especially today. He didn't want to talk to anyone today. Today was...well, that was better not to think about.
Rocky smiled at him, undeterred. "Come on." he said cheerfully, grabbing his hand and pulling him to his feet. "We're going out."
He tried to yank his hand back. "I don't want to go anywhere." he growled.
Rocky's smile didn't fade in the slightest. "I know. But you're coming with me anyway. Trust me; it'll be worth it."
"Isn't this against the rules or something?"
The smile did slip slightly then. "If it was anyone but you, probably."
No matter how much he protested and struggled, he was still dragged out to Rocky's car and hustled inside. Almost instinctively he found himself inspecting it. It was far from new; probably a hand-me-down or at least bought from its second owner, maybe even third. A white minivan of all things, which didn't seem to fit Rocky at all. Judging from the interior, a late-eighties edition. He listened to the engine as it started up and made a face. It was running, but it could definitely use some work. The brakes were all right, at least. Must be new. He wondered absently how the alignment was, and glanced back at the rest of it. To his surprise, it was completely empty, even the seats removed. That made him suspicious. What exactly was Rocky planning on forcing him into?
He was so distracted by his thoughts that he actually started when the van finally stopped, looking around. He frowned. "What are we doing out here?"
Rocky had driven him out into the desert outside Angel Grove. There was nothing around but flat ground and dust. Even the mountains were well in the distance.
His answer was Rocky standing up, ducking low to avoid the ceiling. "Here."
He caught the keys out of reflex, looking up at him skeptically. "You're not serious. You're actually going to let me drive?"
Rocky smiled again, passing a pair of platform shoes. "That's the idea."
He was in the driver's seat before Rocky could change his mind, shoes on, sneakers tossed over his shoulder, adjusting the seat and steering with the ease of practice. He glanced over at him as he put the key in. "You do know that I'm not allowed, right?" Not that he cared if he did; he had his hands on the wheel now, and nothing was going to tear him away from it.
The smile widened. "I know. That's one of the things they warned me when I got permission to take you out with me today. It's also why we're out here." He gestured to the vast desert with a wide sweep of his arm. "No one to see you."
He started the car in silence. The moment he pressed down on the gas he could feel the tension in his body slipping away. He sighed without realizing it, and a smile drifted across his face. "God, I missed this."
They were both silent for a long time as he drove around. Eventually he got tired of the circles and started testing the turning capability. "Your alignment's off." he remarked suddenly.
"I know, but considering how often I knock it out, I figured it was easier just to leave it alone."
He shot him a glare. "Yeah, and I'm sure your car appreciates it, too."
Rocky grinned sheepishly. "I drive around five to seven people a day. It gets beat up no matter what I do."
He snorted and spun the car around sharply. "It'd handle better it you did more work on it."
"I'm not a car nut like you." Rocky shrugged. "I'd just make it worse."
He looked at him sharply. "That's not something the volunteers pass around."
Rocky shrugged again. "I overheard."
He fell silent again. So Rocky knew about his record. That he was a former gang member, car thief, and drag racer. That he wouldn't get to touch a car until he was twenty-one, even if he turned into an ass-kissing perfect angel, and that wasn't happening.
"Do you get to talk to him at all?"
He slammed on the brakes, nearly throwing Rocky into the dashboard. His hands clenched on the steering wheel. "Who told you?" he ground out.
"Mr. Grem." Rocky answered softly. "I wanted to know why you'd been so depressed lately." He hesitated, then persisted. "Do you?"
He was quiet for minute as he put the van in park. It figured that Rocky would ask something like that, and that the stupid people in charge wouldn't bother to think he didn't like everyone knowing about it. Today was The Day, too. The Day they'd been separated. Suddenly fighting back the urge to cry, he answered shortly "Sometimes. Only letters, though. And they're censored."
"Someone goes over your letters?" Rocky sounded horrified.
"Yeah." He sighed suddenly, leaning his head back against the seat. "So we don't really get to say much. And we're not allowed to send things without approval." He closed his eyes, fighting even harder to hold in tears.
"That's...that's just..." Rocky seemed to be at a loss for words for a suitable response.
He shrugged a shoulder. "That's life."
"It's life." he repeated softly. When he sighed this time, his voice shook. "My brother is a 'bad influence' on me. He gets into fights over me, and I help him get into things he shouldn't be near."
"But that's what brothers do." Rocky insisted. "Brothers are supposed to help each other get into trouble."
He opened an eye to regard him warily. "Do you have a brother?"
"I've got an older brother, two older sisters, three younger brothers, and two baby sisters. My younger brothers are triplets." A faint smile crossed his face. "Troublemakers, too." He shook his head suddenly, the smile gone as he looked at him. "I also know what it's like to have someone you have to protect, no matter what."
He looked away.
"Promise me something."
He glanced back, suspicious now. "Promise what?"
Rocky's expression was serious. "I'm not your brother, and I know I could never be. But as a brother, I'm positive he wouldn't want you to torture yourself all the time the way you do, pushing everyone away. He'd want you to find a better life for yourself, and someone to confide in. I want to be that person for you. You can tell me anything at all, and I'll never tell a soul. I'll help you until your brother can again."
That serious stare was unnerving. "I'm not promising anything."
"But I am." Rocky insisted softly. "I'll always come when you need me, Justin. And I'll always be here to talk."
He shrugged, trying to ignore the warm sensation his words had produced. "Your loss." He stood up suddenly. "I wanna go back."
Rock slid back into the driver's seat without a word, and he plopped back down into his seat, changing his shoes again almost absently. He stared out the window, and thankfully Rocky didn't press him anymore. The rest of the drive was silent until they finally arrived back at the shelter and he started to get out.
Rocky's words drifted after him. "I promise you, Justin. I'll be your friend no matter what."