Disclaimer: I own nothing.
AN: Sorry, this is late. I had to work today and then couldn't get on the computer. The next one is in about four weeks.
Candy Cane Day
Tommy stuffed a candy cane in his mouth and carefully made his way over the muddy drive way. It was the day after Christmas and Tommy was very unhappy to say that not only was he destined for five more days with his mother-in-law, but his parents and Kim's father had been forced to stay the night as well because the rains had made a swamp of his front drive. And if that wasn't bad enough, Trini had moved in to give Kim's mom the illusion that she wasn't needed to help with the baby, which meant that the Kwans and Scotts were stuck here as well.
"You doing okay, man?" Jason called from the porch.
"Rine!" Tommy muttered around the candy cane.
Kim's voice echoed from inside the house. "I'm really sorry about this!"
"It's o-ray!" Tommy called back, holding his arms out to his sides to try and keep his balance. When he put his right foot in front of him it settled down farther than he thought, making his left foot slip back and almost sending him to the muddy ground. He could hear David whispering with Jason, betting on whether or not he made it. "Screw it," he muttered and grabbed onto Jason's truck. He pulled himself up and climbed into the truck bed.
"Man!" Jason yelled as muddy footprints covered his hood.
Tommy ignored him and jumped to Kim's father's car, then his parent's car, and that brought him to the tree line. He leapt and grabbed hold of a branch. He swung from branch to branch, well out of sight of his friends and family, until he reached the main road. He jumped onto the asphalt just as a bright red sports car pulled up.
"Oh, how the mighty have fallen," Conner said.
"Shut up," Tommy said, walking around to the passenger's side. He pulled the handle and the door remained firmly shut. "Conner, let me in!"
"Not with those muddy feet." The trunk popped open. "There are plastic baggies back there, you can put them on over your shoes."
"Conner," Tommy growled.
"If you want a ride," Conner said.
Tommy grumbled a string of words that are not fit for a Christmas themed story as he stomped around the car. When he finally managed to get his feet inside the plastic bags he stomped back and Conner unlocked the door.
"I will kill you for this, you know that, right?"
"I stopped believing your threats a long time ago," Conner said, pulling back onto the road. "So, what exactly does Kim need?"
"The cravings ended a while ago," Tommy sighed. "But my little cousins are begging for cocoa and Kim drank it all a few weeks ago."
"So, I'm not doing a good deed for a pregnant woman?"
"No, you're doing a good deed for a bunch of kids."
"A bunch of kids who got tons of presents yesterday."
"At their houses. We do secret Santa for the party so they each only have one toy to play with and they can't go outside and soon they're going to find the lab and so help me, if they do I am leaving the planet."
"You'd move to another planet?"
"If my family finds out I'm a Ranger, life will never be the same. Trust me, Conner, things are much easier when no one knows."
Conner pondered this for a moment. His brother hadn't told anyone that the boarding school he went to was actually a secret Ninja Academy--no one except Conner at least, and in return Conner had relayed his own secret. That had worked out fine, but things always did between the twins. He could just imagine his father's reaction: the blood would rush to his face and turn it purple the way it did whenever he was surprised or embarrassed and his voice would boom, not because his father would be angry--though Conner was fairly certain he would be--but because his father would hear a rushing sound in his ears and wouldn't know that he was being loud. His mother would probably faint.
"I guess you're right," Conner said, flipping on the radio.
The rest of the trip was spent listening to a Hinder CD.
"Wow," Conner said, turning around for the fifth time in the grocery store parking lot, "there sure are a lot of people."
"There's a spot," Tommy said, pointing.
"Perfe--ah!" Before the car could move an inch, someone jumped in front of it, slamming their superpowered fists down on the hood.
"Ethan!" Tommy scolded. "What are you doing?"
Ethan ignored him. "Conner! That was not funny!"
"What?" Conner asked.
"You snuck into my house and put coal in my stocking! Not cool, man."
"I- I didn't put coal in your stocking!"
"Oh, you expect me to believe Santa Claus did it?"
"Of course," Tommy said.
The boys slowly turned to stare at Tommy. "What?" Ethan asked.
"He probably did."
"Ha!" Conner cried triumphantly. "I told you Santa was real!"
"Santa is not real," Ethan said with the tone of one who is beginning an old argument.
"Of course Santa is real!" Tommy said.
"Dr. O," Ethan whined as Conner did a victory dance as best he could in the front seat of a car, "please don't encourage him."
Tommy sighed. "Ethan, Santa is real. I've met him."
"You've met him?" Conner cried.
"Okay," Tommy said, getting out of the car, "why don't you keep driving around and I'll run in and get the cocoa? When I come back, you will drive me back to the house and in a few days, after my in-laws are gone, we'll have story time." Tommy opened the car door and threw his legs out just as his cell phone rang. Tommy moaned and answered. "What is it, sweetheart?" he asked, seeing the caller ID.
"Stay calm," Kim said.
"The kids found the lab."
Tommy's eyes widened and he swung his legs back into the car. "Drive," he ordered.
"What?" Conner asked.
Conner pressed down on the gas and Ethan jumped away just in time.
"It's not that bad," Trini said from the porch, when Tommy appeared jumping from car to car.
"What happened?" Tommy asked.
"The kids were playing in the basement and accidentally fell against the secret door. We've got them trapped down there though, so no one else knows."
"Do they know you trapped them there?"
"No, we've got them convinced that the door is stuck."
"Tommy!" Mrs. Oliver said when Tommy walked into the house. "Do you have the cocoa?"
"No," Tommy said, "the store's still closed."
Tommy ignored her and hurried downstairs.
"Thank God," David muttered. "We weren't sure what to do."
"I've got it," Tommy said. He walked over to a cabinet and pulled his keys out. "I have a secret stash," he said, waving the keys around.
"Of what?" Jason asked. "Amnesia pills?"
"It's Christmas," Tommy muttered, "we don't mind wipe relatives' minds at Christmas." He pulled a large bag of Halloween candy from the cabinet.
"What is that going to do?" David asked.
"Watch and learn," Tommy said, opening the door. "Guys!" he said happily, "you found my dungeon!"
"What?" Chris, the oldest of Tommy's underage cousins asked. The boy was fifteen and would be the hardest to convince.
Tommy threw Chris the bag of candy while the others gathered around. "All my life, I have dreamed of having the greatest spooky house come Halloween. This is the only part that I've convinced Kim to let me build so far. It's an evil scientist's laboratory. What do you think?"
Chris looked around incredulously. "It's a little--broken."
"Yeah, I'm torn between ideas right now: should I, the evil scientist, be battling my own creation who is tearing apart the lab, or should the lab be abandoned and someone accidentally releases a horrible experiment?"
Becky raised her little hand.
"Yes, Beck?" Tommy asked.
"I'm afraid of monsters."
Tommy smiled. "Then let's get out of here." He took her hand and led her back upstairs, the other children close behind.
Becky ran to her mother and began asking for lunch. Chris came up behind Tommy and whispered in his ear, "Don't think for a minute I bought that Halloween excuse."
Tommy bit back a growl and hurriedly pushed Chris back into the basement. "What do you think is going on here, Chris?"
"You got married to a woman you haven't seen in years and didn't invite any of us."
"David came to my wedding."
"You were on an island that exploded not four years ago."
"A lesson to you about taking jobs that seem too good to be true."
"And Andrew Hartford called while you were gone."
Tommy paled. "Remind me to hurt him later. Did you tell Kim about the call?"
"Told her it was a wrong number."
"Well, what did he say?"
"Nothing, he hung up the second he realized I wasn't you. The connection was pretty bad though so he could have been cut off."
"Okay, well, I have to go deal with that, so let's finish this quickly."
"Yeah, right! I want to know what's going on here."
Tommy stared down his cousin. It was a handy skill that he had developed during his evil days and no punk fifteen year old could handle it--unless he was a punk fifteen year old with the makings of a Ranger. When Chris just stared back Tommy knew he was dealing with someone--useful.
"How do you feel about boarding school?" Tommy asked happily.
Jason burst into the basement before Chris could answer. "Bro! Adam just called me! There's a huge snowball fight happening over at--" Jason paused, seeing Chris.
"Let me guess," Tommy said with a smirk, "Andrew's mansion?"
"Yeah, how'd you know?"
"A little bird told me. Come on, we'll sneak out the back way." Tommy paused in the lab's doorway. "Oh, and Chris? When I get back, we'll be discussing the possibility of ninja school. And if you tell anyone where we are, there will be no place for you to hide."
With that the two former Rangers left, leaving Chris to ponder his fate. He decided to stay in the lab, the loose wires and occational unidentified noise were much less frightening than Kim and Trini.