Um... Bit of a different idea for this one. I'm not quite sure why. This is Rocky and Justin through the eyes of Nel, Rocky's little sister. If you don't know Fade to Darkness, you will have no idea what she's doing. Fair warning.
I've done some editing on the previous chapters, and added a bit more to the last one, so I'd recommend going back to re-read it.
So, uh...enjoy. -Crosses fingers-
"Little Angel's Haven. How can I help you?"
She spoke slowly and carefully, making sure to be understood. When she was excited, she had a tendency to slur her words. "This is Penelope DeSantos. My brother Rocky asked me to tell you that Justin Stuart is here, and will be spending the night."
The receptionist grumbled something involving the word 'again', but she wasn't interested. "Thank you." she said politely as she hung up.
She stared at the phone for a long moment. She wasn't sure why she covered for them. It wasn't as though she wanted him here. She knew that he wasn't trying to take Rocky away from her, wasn't going to change what was between her and her brother. But she was still jealous, because they shared something that she never would.
It wasn't even that she wanted it. What they did-what they were-frightened her. Every day, every fight, she feared for her brother's life. If she ever truly lost Rocky...
What she wanted was to be part of it. Not to fight; while Rocky had taught her to defend herself, she knew she would never be able to do any more than that. But to be able to comfort her brother, to tend to his wounds, to reassure him after the harsh battles, tell him that she believed in him... That...that would make her happy. She wanted to share his secret.
Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, she rose and headed to her parents' room. She knocked once, lightly, and waited.
The door opened, her mother peering down at her. "Yes, Penelope?"
"Rocky's friend is here." she informed her.
Her mother smiled. "Gracias." she murmured, leaning down to kiss her head. "Now off to bed with you, angel."
She wondered sometimes if either of them had ever noticed that no one said anything whenever Justin showed up and spent the night. As many times as it had happened, it seemed like they should have. Then she smiled to herself, feeling both amused and somewhat sad. If someone needed Rocky's help, he'd be too focused on taking care of them to worry about the details.
She hesitated as she started to pass his bedroom door on the way to her room. She bit her lip, then quickly pressed her ear to the door to listen. She knew she shouldn't, that it was wrong, but she had to know.
Someone was crying.
Alarmed, she tested the door to see if it was closed. It wasn't, and she carefully cracked it open just enough to peek through. She held her breath, praying they wouldn't notice her.
Her brother sat on his bed, his arms wrapped around Justin. The younger boy was clinging to him, sobbing hysterically. Rocky didn't say anything, just held him and let him cry.
It seemed like hours that she stood there, watching in horrified fascination. She couldn't tear her eyes away. They were Power Rangers. Power Rangers didn't cry! Why would he...?
And then finally, Justin began to talk.
She listened to him tell her brother about his birthday. He had turned thirteen today-and nearly died. A gift he'd thought was from his ever-absent, emotionally distant father turned out to be a deathtrap. He talked about how he'd been in so many dangerous situations before, but this was different. This time he hadn't gotten himself into it, and he couldn't let anyone else be hurt. He couldn't control it, couldn't stop it. He had known he was going to die.
He didn't say die, of course. She'd noticed the way they all seemed to dance around the word, as though they couldn't bear to say it. As if being 'destroyed' would be so much better.
The look on her brother's face was agony to watch. He was listening, carefully rubbing the boy's back. But his eyes were full of pain and understanding. And when Justin finished his story, he began to share his own 'Trial', as he called it.
The day he had watched his Zord be destroyed, helpless to do anything but watch as the creature he'd called his partner had gone down in flames and maniacal laughter. He talked about how Kimberly had been screaming as they struggled to hold her back. About how they had all been in tears, whether they showed it or not. The way that Tommy, who was usually the first to comfort his girlfriend, had just stared, unable to process the loss. The way he had felt that he'd let Jason down, failing to protect the gift that he gave in passing his Powers on to him. About how he had realized then that he had lost his only way to protect everyone he cared about.
He went on to explain how they'd found another Power that made them even stronger. He even managed to make Justin laugh with his descriptions of the cranky Ninjor. He talked about the feeling of finding his spirit animal, and what it was like to find a Power that was his, and his alone.
She wasn't listening by that point. She pulled away at last, softly closed the door completely for them, and wandered to her own room. Vannah wasn't there; she'd gone to a friend's house for the night.
She sat down on her bed, staring off into space. She couldn't get the image out of her head: her brother holding tightly to Justin, comforting him. The way he'd talked about what was apparently the worst moment of his life so casually, telling...telling him.
She wiped at her eyes furiously for a moment, then gave up and rolled over, sobbing into her pillow. It was stupid. It was stupid to be jealous of her brother's relationship with someone who obviously needed him. And it wasn't like she didn't understand why; Justin needed someone, needed someone who knew what it was like to feel alone, what it was like to suffer because no one understood what you what you were going through. Anyone who bothered to looked Justin in the eye could see that he was suffering.
But Rocky was her brother! He was...he was supposed to be all that for her! No one else! Rocky was hers!
She sobbed harder. She knew she wasn't being fair. Rocky wouldn't stop loving her just because Justin needed a friend. He wasn't like that. He'd still be here in a heartbeat if he knew she was upset.
She hated this. This...whatever she was. She was nine years old, but she knew things. She knew that Justin's suffering wasn't over with, not by a long shot. She knew that Rocky would become a Ranger again. She knew that bad things were going to happen to them both, and that she would still be here, crying for them. Because she couldn't do anything else.
Because all she could do was know.
Mama Sophia had explained things to her, when she was four and didn't know why she dreamed about things that hadn't happened. Why no one else believed her but Rocky. She had explained the family gift, the Seer blood that she'd inherited. She explained what it meant to be a Seer.
She'd known she wasn't supposed to tell anyone. The rest of the family knew that there was a Seer in every generation, but they usually didn't know who it was. But when she'd dreamed that their dog, Tia, was going to die, she'd woken up in tears. And Rocky had comforted her, asking why she cried. She told him about her dream.
Two days later, Tia was hit by a car.
Ever since then, Rocky had always listened to her dreams. He always believed her, and he never talked down to her the way other people did. He told her that she was special, and that they had a special relationship. He said that no matter what, he would always be there when she needed him.
She knew why their relationship was special, too. She knew Rocky was special, like she was. He was even more special, because he couldn't remember the way she did. She didn't know why, but she was sure that it was important. His dreams were a lot scarier than hers, too.
A hand rubbed her back slowly.
"Nel?" Rocky murmured. "What's wrong?"
/Justin. Hurt. Lost. PAIN./
/Adam. Carlos. Rocky. Leaving./
/Rocky. Friends. Fight. Loss./
/Rocky. Fight. Loss./
/Rocky. Blood. Silence. SCREAMING./
She flung herself into his arms without another thought.
Her brother squeezed her, stroking her hair and continuing to rub her back. "Tell me, Munchkin." he said softly.
She shook her head, holding tighter as she sobbed.
"Too bad?" he asked sympathetically.
She just nodded, not lifting her head from his shoulder.
There was a long moment of silence. "It's not solid yet, is it?" he told her at last, his voice gentle. "Then it's just a chance. It may not happen. So it'll be okay."
She squeezed her eyes tighter shut. He was wrong. This dream was true, and she couldn't do anything. He was going to leave her, and she'd be alone.
"Never." His voice was tender and full of love. "I'll never leave you, Nel. I'm always here for you."
She forced herself to nod, even as she wondered if she'd said that out loud.
But he was still wrong. Because bad things were coming, and Rocky was going to die. Because her dreams were never wrong.
"Te quiero." she choked out suddenly.
He squeezed her again. "Te quiero, Munchkin." he whispered back. "Always."
She held tight and prayed she'd be able to tell him that again.