Baby's First Coffin
Fandom: Power Rangers Ninja Storm
Pairing: Cam/Hunter (finally), Blake/Tori
Warning: Brief flashes of adult content used to torment Cam.
Summary: The fourth chapter in the Warlock AU.
Status: In progress.
Disclaimer: Concepts borrowed from LJ Smith's Nightworld and Dark Visions series, as well as White Wolf's Hunter: The Reckoning. This AU follows the events of the original PRNS episodes up through "Return of Thunder." Title taken from the Dillinger Escape Plan song of the same title. Chances are, if you recognize it, it's not mine.
"Whoo! We kicked ass!"
Cam jerked his head off the computer hutch with a gasp. The basement wards tingled across his skin as the rangers started thundering down the stairs, dispelling the last flicker of arousal from his dream.
He grimaced when he realized the gem shard was imprinted on his forearm. At least it wasn't his forehead.
Fuck. He'd fallen asleep during patrol.
You had some interesting dreams, though…
I thought we agreed that you'd keep your voyeuristic tendencies to yourself.
Can't help it when you project.
Ignoring Hunter and pretending it wasn't because he couldn't meet the other man's gaze just yet, Cam scrubbed at his face and tried to look alert. The remaining four rangers were oblivious to the conversation, and hopefully had been oblivious to his dream. That would be embarrassing, since he had fallen asleep with the gem shard. But the guys were shoving at each other with obnoxious grins, and he was relieved, since it meant he didn't have to kill Hunter for gossiping about him. Again. Or himself, for having--
You're an interesting guy. They just want to know more about you. And they're willing to trade favors for info.
That better be a joke.
"Hey, Cam," Tori chirped, distracting him from glaring at Hunter's broad back. She handed him a tightly rolled paper. "These are all the ships we searched tonight."
"You know," Dustin said with a frown. "This seemed like a good idea at the time, but seriously. We've got nothing. How are we going to find Lothor's secret lair if we can't even find his boat?"
"Don't lose faith, man," Shane said dryly, clapping Dustin on the shoulder. "There's only seven hundred left to check."
"For all we know, it isn't even docked in the harbor at night," Blake sighed, probably because it meant he didn't get to work with Tori.
"Which is why I have Tori and Dustin on harbor duty while the rest of you patrol," Cam pointed out blithely, crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair. "I accessed the Council's database to see if they had anything useful, but none of Lothor's known acquaintances have nautical experience, that we can tell at least. I also accessed reports from the area, call-ins where harbor patrol or the coast guard might have said they were stopping a ship but let it go or couldn't provide details afterwards."
"Whoever's driving might just use a cloaking spell," Tori mused.
Cam spun his chair around, clicking on his spreadsheets. "I'm also monitoring docking patterns, to see if there are any discrepancies with the harbor master's files."
Coming to stand behind Cam's chair, Hunter gave a low whistle.
"When do you have time to do all this?" He murmured, impressed but also concerned.
Cam shrugged, glancing up at him.
It's not like I have a social life.
You don't have to sound so smug.
Oh, was that a disagree moment? I get confused with you.
Somehow I doubt it's just with me.
Gee, did I hit a nerve?
"So," Shane said loudly, causing Cam and Hunter to look at him. Tori and Blake were grinning at each other and Dustin was absently cleaning vampire blood out of his ear, but Shane was frowning at Cam
"Since we couldn't give interim reports tonight, can we just give them to you tomorrow?" He asked pointedly. Cam could feel his cheeks heat up.
"That would be fine," he said with a quick nod.
"Oh good," Tori exclaimed from the weapons table. "I totally forgot to register for classes before I left this afternoon, so if I don't do it tonight, I won't be able to get any courses I need."
"What classes are you taking?" Blake asked.
Dustin made a strangled noise. Beside him, Shane rolled his eyes.
"You forgot to register, too, didn't you?"
Grabbing his already wild hair in two hands, Dustin gave them a panicked look.
"I stayed late to talk to Kelly about getting you guys jobs, and I didn't even think--"
Cam sighed, turning away from Dustin's miserable expression. Hunter's interested thoughts informed him that the jobs referred to were for the lamia and Blake.
"Sorry, man," Hunter said. "But we appreciate it."
"No prob," Dustin waved him off. "It's just, we get this set amount of time to sign up and I'll be at a rally tomorrow…"
"You can use the computer in the apartment," Cam said resignedly, saving his work and standing up. "C'mon."
He wasn't surprised when the entire group followed him up the two flights of stairs to the apartment. Hunter's open curiosity almost made him slam the door in their faces.
You growled at me over the fridge yesterday.
Details, details. I was hungry.
"Just keep your voices down," Cam whispered aloud. While the telepathy was convenient in lieu of communicators and compulsory with Hunter, they'd all agreed to talk aloud as much as possible to prevent any accidental slip-ups in mixed company later.
"How is sensei feeling?" Tori asked as Cam turned on the living room light and booted up the ancient desktop computer he hadn't used in forever.
"Last I checked he was still sleeping."
"Who knew guinea pigs could get colds?" Blake wondered.
"Here," Cam told Dustin and Tori, stepping away from the computer. "It's logged on. Just remember--"
"Only go to approved sites, no gaming, and no porn. We leave no trails," Tori finished cheekily.
Cam was nonplussed. "Well, yes."
"Dude, you've told us that every time since Shane downloaded a virus from that porn site," Dustin said, sitting down at the keyboard.
"This I've got to hear," Hunter crowed quietly, gleeful when Shane scowled.
Leaving them to whisper furiously amongst themselves, Cam walked quietly down the hall to the master bedroom. Cracking the door open, he let his eyes adjust and stared at the sprawling habitat he'd erected for his dad in the far corner.
"Is there something you need, Cameron?"
His father shuffled out of the little hut, wrapped in a handkerchief. His voice was more nasal than usual and it was disconcerting.
"Just checking in. Do you need anything?"
"A cup of tea would not be remiss."
Cam was fairly certain that normal guinea pigs did not drink tea on a regular basis, but it wasn't unusual for his dad to have a small shot glass' worth.
"Green or oolong?"
"I'll be right back." He hesitated in the doorway. "Tori and Dustin needed to use the computer, so everyone's up here."
"Ah, I had wondered." If his dad was disconcerted, it didn't show. "Thank you, Cameron."
Cam closed the bedroom door quietly and avoided the agitated whispers in the living room, going instead to the kitchen. On auto-pilot, he pulled out the tea kettle and turned on the stove.
His father's favorite shot glass was in the dish rack, but Cam stared at the dust-covered tea set his mother had bought shortly before her death. It hadn't been used in over a year.
Things had changed after Lothor's first attack. The Watanabes had never been overly social to begin with, but they'd occasionally had other nightworlders at the apartment for dinner, even if his father went to the Bloody Mary to settle public disputes. Now though, those infrequent guests had been long neglected, but the three rookie rangers had more than filled up the space, keeping mostly to the basement but also coming upstairs at times. And with their boarders in the spare room--
"You must be really tired tonight," Hunter said quietly, just out of striking distance.
--Cam never got a moment's peace.
Glaring at him, Cam straightened his shoulders and opened the tea cupboard.
"Why didn't you wake me up earlier?" He snapped, keeping his voice low.
Hunter crossed his arms over his chest and gave Cam an exasperated look. "In case you failed to notice, you kind of need the sleep. We had things covered."
Blake and Tori burst out laughing in the living room, the noise quickly stifled. Cam glanced at the doorway, then back at Hunter.
My health is none of your business, so kindly keep your opinions to yourself.
As long as we've got this thing, Hunter motioned between them. Your health is my business. When you run yourself ragged, I don't get enough sleep.
Cam snorted. Oh please--
Hunter glowered at him. You try sleeping after things like--
The images came sharp and quick, tactile memories that were-- A blurry dreamscape, heat suffusing Cam's naked body as he stared down at the blue eyes gazing up at him from beneath blonde bangs, wet red lips wrapped around Cam's cock, fangs grazing lightly--
The command came out louder than he intended, but he'd never been so angry. Humiliation and fury warred in his chest, his cheeks flushed as he clenched his fists and struggled to breathe.
Hunter glared defiantly back at him, arms crossed tightly, nostrils flaring as his bright blue eyes glittered dangerously.
You think I want to hear your dreams? Hunter demanded harshly. You think I like knowing that you can't help it? That you wake up disgusted with yourself?
I'm not-- Cam drew a deep breath. It's not because--
He couldn't form a coherent sentence. Couldn't talk this out. Just-- It was so violating, to know that his deepest thoughts were there for Hunter's amusement. That he knew without a doubt that Hunter was attracted to him and was okay with it like Cam couldn't let himself be, and that Hunter wasn't as horrible of a person as Cam originally thought, and that he actually liked the sarcastic commentary that now colored his day-- And for Hunter to throw that dream back at him-- Just push it in his face like that--
"Sorry," Hunter muttered, looking away. He was still angry, but there was hurt underneath it when Cam stopped to listen. "That was uncalled for."
Cam took another deep breath and tried to let it go.
It's not you. Not disgust-- I just--
He couldn't explain it, but Hunter must have understood something, because the line of his shoulders relaxed. Cam could feel his thoughts clicking into place.
You can't control every little thing, Cam. Hunter met his eyes again. Life's not like that. You have thoughts, I have thoughts-- Fuck, for all we know, we're dreaming together. I know you've caught a few of mine--
Not all of them had been pleasant-- The helpless ones, the angry ones, where Hunter was running and running and couldn't reach them in time-- But there had been a few dreams that Cam would label inappropriate, that left him jerking awake to a sticky mess in his sheets.
Maybe if you just stopped resisting the connection so much-- Hunter started to send, but the tea kettle whistled and Cam turned away, shuttering his thoughts as best he could.
It just seems like the more you concentrate on pushing it away when you're awake, the stronger it is when you're asleep.
Cam paused at that. Was that really happening? And just how bad was it getting for Hunter? Was it the same as Cam, who was constantly aware of Hunter's presence, but still found most of Hunter's actual thoughts to be murky, hidden behind roiling thunder clouds that he only caught flashes of?
Yours are-- pointy, Hunter tried to describe the swirling impressions he pushed at Cam. Like, even when you're meditating, you're there and I can't help noticing them, but when you think of me--
Piercing. Sharp-edged like a katana blade. Linear, logical, but emotional at the same time. Impossible to ignore, no matter what Hunter was doing, and that dream tonight had him wishing for some thugs to take out his frustrations on because Cam was-- Cam smelled spicy and musky and a little like the electrical parts he was always working with-- and Hunter had to act like nothing was going on because the others hadn't a clue-- It had been--
I didn't realize I was like that. Cam thought stiltedly. I would never force that sort of thing on you--
I know-- It's not--
Cam turned to him, tea preparations forgotten. Thunder and lightning like an opaque shroud hiding Hunter's thoughts away, until a single bolt lit up the landscape--
I wanted it, too.
They stood frozen, staring at each other. Cam figured he was probably in shock. Hunter looked just as surprised at himself for the admission.
"Oh." Cam blinked.
"Hey guys," Blake interrupted, coming into the kitchen. "We're almost done with the computer…"
Cam turned back to making his father's tea, striving for casual as he poured hot water over the tea leaves, knowing that Blake was giving them both an odd look since Hunter was concentrating on not acting defensive. Nothing to see here, move along.
"I have tea, if anyone wants," Cam said in what he hoped was an offhand tone. He didn't think any of the rangers actually drank tea, except maybe Tori, and it was late enough to be ridiculous, but Hunter was falling into a brood from whatever Blake's eyebrows were telling him--
I don't brood.
Cam snorted before he could control himself, and turned with the small tea tray to find Blake frowning at Hunter. The blonde lamia hunched his shoulders and looked away, and that struck Cam as so out of place, so submissive, and what was Blake implying--
He didn't realize he was getting his hackles up until Hunter sent apologetically, Hey, it's not him. We're brothers-- We were practically raised like twins--
And now Hunter was part of this separate thing with Cam, no matter how the others were interconnected. Cam had never had any siblings, but the protectiveness in Hunter was warring with his guilt and it wasn't--
It's not your fault, Cam projected, to the group this time so that they would hear, too. You didn't know what would happen.
That caught Blake's attention away from his brother, made his eyes narrow.
Of course it's not his fault, the younger Bradley glared.
Cam, let it go. Hunter sent privately.
Cam arched an eyebrow at him and sent privately back, We didn't ask for this. It's not like you did it on purpose. He'll have to learn to deal with--
"I thought we weren't going to do the mind-speak thing outside of patrol," Dustin said in an exaggerated whisper, poking his head around the door frame.
"That was the idea," Blake drawled, still focused on Cam.
"Although it's kind of helpful on the track," Dustin continued, seemingly oblivious as he yawned hugely. "We're done with your computer, dude. We even kept Shane away from the porn sites--"
"Hey," came from the living room.
"--So we're gonna head out. We'll get those reports in tomorrow. Promise."
Tori appeared at Dustin's shoulder, eyes darting quickly between the three of them before settling on Blake.
"We really need to get home," she said quietly. "It's late, or early, depending on how you look at it."
Blake finally looked away from Cam, smiling at Tori.
"I'll walk you down."
As they left, Dustin noticed the small tray in Cam's hands.
"Oh hey, tell Sensei to get better for us, all right?"
Fearing the tea was already too cold, Cam spared a glance at Hunter's closed expression before heading down the hallway. The rangers knew to let themselves out, and Blake would be there to set the wards anyway.
There was no movement in his father's room, so Cam gently placed the tea tray on the edge of the habitat platform.
"Thank you, Cameron," his father called out from the little hut.
"I'll collect the dishes in the morning," Cam murmured and turned to leave.
His father repeating his name made him pause.
"Is everything all right?"
Not a question asked lightly between them. Cam smiled grimly in the darkened room, and continued to the door.
"Everything's fine, Dad. Good night."
They'd only had these new powers for a week. Of course they were still getting used to it. It was requiring a huge amount of adjusting on everyone's parts, so Blake would just have to deal.
The interrupted conversation came back to him and his cheeks flushed. Thankfully, the apartment had cleared out and it was just Hunter who remained, still lingering in the kitchen. Cam went straight to the sink under Hunter's amused gaze and starting rinsing the tea strainer briskly as he ignored the eyes on him.
They would get used to this. No problem. The others seemed to be doing fine--
At least they don't have it the same as us, thank the goddess. I mean, I love him to death, but I don't ever want to even imagine having to listen to my little bro's dreams--
Cam had to smile at the images Hunter projected at him. You would never throw Blake out a window. Or yourself.
Yeah, well. Hunter shrugged, radiating discomfort. I'm just saying. I can handle being stuck with you.
Looking over his shoulder, Cam smirked.
Likewise. I think.
Hunter grinned back.
Just, Cam added wryly. Wake me up next time, okay?
The teasing light in Hunter's eyes didn't bode well for future incidents.
If you really want me to.
And that was the question, wasn't it?