AN: Sorry about the wait folks. The death of a close friend has kept me pretty distraught most of this week. But she was a writer too, so here I am - keep on, keepin' on.

Fortunately 3/4ths of this was written already, or god knows when there would've been another update. Fact: We are exactly 37.5% done with this fic. Oh, and as some of you might know, I am of the belief that Blake and Hunter treat Cam as a third Bradley brother. Someday I will write the fic that makes this so. Today is so not that day. Enjoy.

5. patience

"Dude, dude, dude, dude," with every dude, Dustin prodded Shane in the shoulder, bouncing eagerly on the balls of his feet. Shane seemed oblivious, still half asleep in his pajamas, sprawled across three fourths of the love seat he was supposed to be sharing with Dustin. Dustin didn't seem to mind either way; even as he took a seat, he was positively vibrating with excitement.

"I knew this was an awful, awful idea," Blake muttered audibly, hauling himself out of his comfy chair with a groan. Tori smiled over at him from the kitchen, the wide doorway between the living room and kitchen providing the perfect frame for her Christmas scene. Besides the loveseat that Dustin and Shane were currently sharing, the sofa housed its own inhabitants. Cam sat cross-legged on the center cushion, peering through his glasses at the computer screen in front of him. Tori had already tried to take it away from him, but he was simply checking for e-mails from his father, who decided that instead of accompanying the team, he would take this rare time away from the teens to relax and meditate. Alone. Tori really couldn't blame him.

Hunter was flipping through channels aimlessly, his eyes still half lidded in sleep, unused to being awake so early. Blake glanced back at his brother and snorted. He only just resisted the urge to throw something at him while he was so vulnerable, but as it was Christmas he was feeling a little generous. Blake joined Tori in the kitchen, wrapping his arms around her waist, settling his chin on her shoulder. They just watched their makeshift family for a moment.

Hunter peered across at the intent Cam, who was paying no attention to him. Feeling slightly mischievous, he yawned widely and obviously, stretching all his limbs before suddenly settling his feet atop Cam's laptop, closing it with a snap. Cam froze, blinking. "You," he said conversationally to the smug Crimson Ranger, "are so incredibly dead." With that, he lunged. Hunter, not expecting such immediate retribution from the other Ranger, squawked as he tumbled off the couch in his hurry to escape.

Shane had finally found something interesting enough to draw his attention from his magazine. He perked up slightly as he shifted to watch. Dustin immediately turned to him and laid odds on the fight. "Ten bucks on Cam," he said, offering his hand to his best friend, who considered it for a moment.

"Deal, ten on Hunter." The handshake that sealed the deal was interrupted by the flailing arms and legs of Blake's brother and friend. "Whoa!" Shane toppled over the back of the couch to avoid a flying fist and Dustin yanked one of the seat cushions off the sofa to act as a shield.

Blake groaned, knowing that inevitably this display would devolve into something that would involve him wrestling to keep his brother from breaking something and to keep Cam from breaking his brother. "Tori," he said plaintively, trying to ignore the whining note that tinged his voice, "Can't you do something about them?"

"They're your family," Tori teased, smirking even as she brushed a kiss to his temple. He tightened his hold around her waist, keeping her pressed against him. Tori relaxed against him completely, tucking her head against his chest.

"Only by law, and only one," Blake muttered mutinously. "The others can be disposed of rather easily." Tori snorted and thumped a fist against his chest.

"Don't let sensei hear you say that," she warned, watching the chaos with a fond smile. Blake snorted and reluctantly untangled his arms from around his fiancée.

"He'd probably agree," Blake pointed out reasonably, flinching as the sound of furniture scraping against the floor was heard, Dustin and Shane cheering Cam and Hunter on.

"Admit it," Tori said, even as the sound of fabric tearing filled the living room, pillow stuffing flying everywhere, "It wouldn't be Christmas without them." Tori's lips quirked in an affectionate smile.

Blake pressed his lips to hers briefly before forcing himself to pull away. He squared his shoulders and glanced up to the ceiling. "Mom, Dad," he said aloud, "give me patience." Tori's soft laughter brought a smile to his face, even as he turned to march directly into the madness.

Yeah, okay. So they were his family. And maybe he wouldn't resort to violence just yet. He could be patient, he could be calm. It was Christmas day. He could be amused and relaxed. Nothing at all could go wrong.

Seconds later, a crash was heard, three yelps and a shout following closely behind.

Blake closed his eyes against the rush of images of possible expensive and irreplaceable things they could have destroyed.

Maybe there'd be a little violence today.

"Uh Blake?" came the hesitant call from the living room. "Blake, bro, I am so sorry."

Blake gritted his teeth. Maybe a lot of violence.