Sanders was in a good mood. A very good mood. There was Blue
Hawaiian coffee in the breakroom, his I-Pod had fresh batteries and
he had some killer blackmail material on one of his co-workers. All
in all, tonight's shift was looking pretty good. Greg whistled a
jaunty tune as he bounced his way through the lab to the breakroom,
an inconspicuous, unlabelled DVD tucked under one arm.
Johnson, David Hodges, Jacquie Franco and David Phillips all
sat in the breakroom nursing mugs of coffee. The only member of the
motley lab rat crew missing was Bobby Dawson, who had been called
away almost immediately by a gang of disgruntled CSI's who wanted
their ballistics results twenty minutes ago. Not one of the lab rats
looked up in surprise at Greg's cheerful whistling, now accompanied
by a slightly manic dance routine. They were all used to this sort
of behavior. They looked up, however, when Greg sauntered into the
breakroom and greeted them all, not with a cheery 'hello' or a witty
comment, but with the words…
"Blackmail is such a dirty word… Don't you agree, Archie?"
The lab rats, Archie
included, all blinked at him, before Archie
answered the odd question, "Blackmail? Who's blackmailing you?"
Greg grinned happily, "But I have
The lab rats,
although used to Greg's occasionally odd comments,
still stared at him for a moment, before Hodges cut in dryly
with, "Really? Well, bully for you. Go, then, Blackmailing Avenger,
and wreak your vengeance on those who spurn you."
unlabelled DVD came out from under Greg's arm, "Aren't you
even the least bit curious as to what I'm talking about?" he asked,
a truly evil smirk spreading across his face.
Jacquie sighed, "OK, Greggo, I'll bite. What's on the DVD?"
evil smirk morphed into an evil grin, the kind that made the
lab rats want to flinch back, "Ask Archie…"
heaved another long-suffering sigh and swung her head around
to Archie, "Arch? Any ideas? Or is Greg just being more Greg-ish
Archie shook his head
looking confused, "I have no idea what he's…"
the AV master trailed off, his jaw dropping and face paling, "Oh
Greg broke into maniacal,
cackling laughter at the horrified look on
Archie's face, "That's right, Arch! Did you think I wouldn't find
looks could kill, Greg Sanders would have been a steaming pile
molten goo on the floor, "Greg… hand it over…" the Asian tech said
through gritted teeth, holding out a hand for the DVD.
"Archie? What's going on?" David
Phillips spoke up for the first
time since Greg had bounced into the room.
"Nothing," Archie told him, eyes
dark, "Greg's going to give me that
DVD, then nothing will be wrong."
Jacquie raised an eyebrow at her normally
placid and good-natured
friend, "Damn, Archie… What's on the DVD that could possibly be that
grinned evilly, and spoke, completely deadpan, "Archie made
porn in college."
The entire room collectively choked
on their coffee. Except for
Archie, who was still shooting death-glares at Greg. Seeing an
opportunity, Archie's hand darted out, snagging the DVD in Greg's
hand. Greg let out a startled yell, trying to snatch it back, but to
no avail. Archie let out a relieved sigh and a triumphant grin. He
took the DVD out of its casing, and held it between both hands as
though he were going to snap it. Then he paused.
Shooting Greg a look, he
calmly pulled a pen out of his pocket,
flipped the DVD upside down and scratched deep gouges down its
underside. Greg flinched. Archie then turned it around and repeated
the process, so that there were deep, cross-hatched scratches
obscuring any data that may have been stored on it. Archie smiled
serenely at the spiky-haired DNA tech, before standing up, the
mutilated DVD held between his hands. Archie's smile grew into a
grin as he brought his knee up and the DVD down, snapping it into at
least a half dozen little pieces. The pieces were then scooped into
Archie's hand and dropped into the bin.
The lab rats blinked at
the now-calm Archie, as he sat back down,
brushing DVD splinters off onto his lab coat, picked up his coffee
and quietly started sipping it again. Everyone was a little stunned
by the outburst from their normally peaceful friend. Whatever was on
that DVD must've been Archie's worst nightmare for him to get that
worked up about it. Slowly, each of the lab rats reached for their
own coffees and the breakroom started to go back to normal.
Until Greg broke the silence… with a quote from Kill Bill.
rabbit, you didn't think it would be that easy, now, did
you?" he practically cooed.
Hodges snorted, shaking his
head. Jacquie grinned. David just raised
an eyebrow and carried on drinking his coffee, all three used to
Greg's random movie quotations and inability to handle long
silences. Archie, however, quickly deciphered the meaning behind the
silence breaking quote. His head snapped up and he looked at Greg in
horror, shaking his head and giving him a pleading look.
Arch," Greg said with mock-sadness, "I'm so sorry, but
they have to know…"
Archie's eyes went dark again
and his shoulders tensed, "Greg…" he
Jacquie decided to play along, "What is it we have to know, Greggo?"
David, seeing the look
on Archie's face, and ever the voice of
reason, said softly, "I'm not sure I want to know," and quietly left
the table, heading back down to the morgue.
Hodges raised an eyebrow at
the almost-panicking Archie and the
evilly smirking Greg, "Well, if it's embarrassing enough to put the
fear of God into a Trekkie… count me in. What've you got, Sanders?"
looked between Greg and Archie, "Sorry Arch, but you know
me, Gossip Queen of the Lab…"
Archie's face turned
bright red and he slumped back down in his
chair as Greg grinned triumphantly at him. Then, with a grandiose
flourish, Greg pulled a piece of paper out from the inner pocket of
his lab coat and dropped it on the table in front of Jacquie and
Hodges. The fingerprint tech and the trace tech just stared, shocked
into silence for a moment. They looked over at Archie, then back
down at the piece of paper.
"That's right, oh fellow
lab rats," Greg crowed, "Our very own
Archie Johnson, Master of All That Is Audio and or Visual, was… drum
Jacquie broke first, trying to hide her snickers behind her hand.
"… A POWER
RANGER!" Greg finished exultantly over the sound of
Those words were enough to send Jacquie and
Hodges into fits of
laughter. Much to Archie's dismay, the two lab rats howled with
laughter at the poster of a slighter younger version of himself,
settled into a typical Power Ranger stance. He winced. He knew that
would come back to haunt him one day. Greg, Hodges and Jacquie were
still laughing hysterically. He scowled at the three laughing lab
rats. The poster still sat innocently on the table. Archie looked
down at his own smiling face. Eyeing off the still laughing lab
rats, Archie reached for the poster, hoping to make a quick getaway
into the somewhat safe confines of the AV lab. Greg saw his somewhat
stealthy movement and snatched the poster out from under Archie's
fingers, waggling a finger from his spare hand at him.
"Nuh-uh, Arch… this one's going on the noticeboard."
Greg was still
giggling, almost doubled over with laughter as the
still-flushed and utterly mortified Archie made another desperate
attempt to grab for the poster that represented the AV tech's now-
"It's Morphin' Time!" Greg crowed, still snickering helplessly.
Something inside Archie
just snapped. Eyes furious, he darted out a
hand, grabbing Greg's wrist. Greg's laughter cut off abruptly and
his eyes went wide as, in one fluid movement, Archie turned, sliding
under Greg's arm, and tossed the spiky-haired lab rat over his
shoulder. It was one of the first moves the stunt coordinators on
the show had taught him. How to hurl a stunty across the room
without hurting them and still have it look good.
Greg lay stunned on the
floor, unhurt, but more than a little
freaked out. Archie sighed, barely concealing a saddened wince. He
picked up the poster that had started it all and, still clutching
it, walked out of the room, silently wishing that he'd done that in
the first place.
Archie slouched dejectedly back to his domain
in the AV lab, failing
to notice Bobby Dawson's happy smile and cheery wave. Bobby's smile
turned into a puzzled frown. That sure wasn't like Archie. His lover
normally favored him with one of his bright smiles and a cheeky wink
if he were busy, or a quick 'hello, love you' if he wasn't. Locking
up the gun cabinet and clipping the keys to his belt, Bobby made his
way out of the ballistics lab and stood in the doorway of the AV lab
for a moment.
"Arch?" he called softly.
came Archie's long-suffering reply, "If that's you with any
more 'Morphin' Time!' jokes or questions about my color preferences,
so help me… I will kick your ass again!"
raised an eyebrow, "For starters," he drawled,
thickening his accent, "Since when do I sound a damn thing like
Archie spun round in his chair, smiling sheepishly, "Sorry…"
for seconds," Bobby interrupted him, putting on a
look, "Y'all went kung fu on Greg's ass and didn't invite me?!"
An unwilling grin crossed Archie's
face, "No, Bobby dear, I didn't.
You would've brought guns. I do my best work with my hands."
himself gracelessly into the chair opposite Archie,
practically leering at him, "Oh I know you do…" he smirked.
shook his head, "You know, the others don't believe me when
tell them that you aren't the sweet and innocent, butter-wouldn't-
melt country boy you pretend to be," a brief look of pain flashed
across Archie's face as he mentioned the rest of the lab rat crew.
Bobby didn't miss Archie's pained look, "Arch? What happened?"
Looking down at
his hands, Archie was silent for a moment. Then,
with a small frown creasing his forehead, he slowly reached for a
piece of paper that was facedown on one of his consoles.
sighed, pulling the still-tense Archie against him, "I
know why it bothers y'all as much as it does."
sighed and mumbled something incomprehensible, turning his
face into Bobby's chest. Bobby let him stay like that for a moment,
catching sight of the rest of the lab rats moving into the doorway,
obviously preparing for Round Two of the teasing they'd given Archie
before. He shot them a dirty look and shook his head warningly.
"Come on, Arch," he said softly,
"Talk to me, here. Why's it
botherin' ya so much?"
shot his fellow lab rats a significant look as Archie began
talking, "Because of reactions like that," a hand was flipped in the
direction of the breakroom, "I know I get ribbed for being a geek
and a Trekkie, but this is different."
face twisted slightly in confusion, "I'm not sure I
Archie sighed, still not noticing the
other lab rats, "It's hard to
explain. It's like…" a frustrated half-growl escaped him, "Hodges'
comment about the porn."
Bobby blinked, "I'm hearin' what now?"
Archie gave a small snicker, "No…
you don't have to worry about Greg
dancing through the lab with a porn DVD of me. But Hodges said
something like 'What? Did Archie make porn in college?'" he scowled,
growing serious again, "I had the opportunity to."
A hand absently came up
to rub Bobby's back as the blonde man
choked, "My dad lost his job, my second semester into college,"
Archie changed the subject abruptly, "I was working part-time, but
my parents could barely afford to pay for their rent and food, let
alone my rent, my food and my tuition."
Bobby nodded, "So
you took on that job as well," he said, carefully
avoiding the show's name, knowing it would make the lab rats, Greg
at least, start to giggle.
"Yep," Archie said
with a sigh, "And you know what gets me the
most?" he continued, not waiting for Bobby to answer, "If it had
been porn, the reactions wouldn't have been so bad. I mean, yeah,
there woulda been some teasing, maybe a couple of people squicked
out by it… but once I said it was to pay for my tuition and keep
food on my parents' table, they would've been all 'Hey man, you did
what you had to…' and it woulda never been mentioned again."
sighed, "Archie, I don't…" he said, looking over the top
the Asian tech's head at the stunned lab rats.
Archie carried on over the top of him, "Because it was
cheesy kid's show, I get ridiculed 'til I snap."
squeezed the smaller man gently, "I know it's hard," he
shooting the other lab rats a glare over his shoulder, "But pay no
mind to what they say. I can't speak for them, Arch... but I know
you. And I know, that if bein' a Power Ranger for three years was
what you had to do to help your parents, then you did it without
question or thought."
into his chest, eyes widening slightly. Bobby gave him
one last gentle hug and stood up. The ballistics tech gave the lab
rats in the doorway a filthy look, making them all scamper off to
their respective labs. Bobby gave the still-quiet Archie a small
smile before heading off to his own lab. Archie sat, silent and
still, in his chair for a moment, thinking. Did Bobby...? Or was he
just reading too much into it?
Deciding it was better to be
safe than sorry, Archie slid a hand
down into his shirt, pulling out the leather necklace he always
wore, its silver key charm tinkling softly against the buttons. He
undid the clasp at the back and just held it in his hand for a
moment. Then, almost hesitantly, he bent down, unlocking the bottom
drawer on his filing cabinet and pulling out a small, familiar
device. He held it almost reverently in his hand, before pressing a
button on the side and speaking softly.
"Control, this is Blue Galaxy, come in..."
"We read you Blue
Galaxy," came a familiar voice, "Long time since
heard from you, Kai."
feeling the familiar shudder in the device in his
hand, "Guys, I think we have a problem..."