AN: Yeah, I know I said no more fanfiction until my portfolio was done, but then there was this challenge over at prunited and it haunted me--HAUNTED ME! So, the challenge was to use the given first sentence, and the rest was up to you.

Disclaimer: This is in no way associated with the actual Power Rangers show or its owners and is not made for monetary gain.

The Mastodon in Switzerland

by JDPhoenix

He couldn't go back there and face them. He knew he would die if he did. Okay, so maybe he wouldn't die, but Jason would threaten to hit him and Trini actually would.

Zack kicked a stray stone further down the sidewalk. He could still hear the pulsating music from the club and he could still feel the sting in his backside from where the bouncer had thrown him on his butt. Seeing no one was around to witness his shame, Zack reached back to rub the sore spot--and found something. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his power coin. That was what had made the fall hurt so much. The coin was good as new and shone brightly despite the pale light from streetlamps and the moon. Zack looked up at the moon with a smirk. How many times since leaving Angel Grove had he looked up there and sworn he was being watched? He shook his head and turned back to the coin. The Mastodon, his loyal friend. He had never admitted it as a kid, he was too busy trying to look cool, but whenever everyone played dinosaurs he secretly envied whoever got the mastodon toy. Sure, the T-Rex was the coolest--he would never tell Jason that--but he just loved the Mastodon best.

Zack pocketed the coin and continued down the empty street. All in all, Switzerland was a lot like America, the problem was getting the diplomats to see it. Although, Zack's current problem would be getting his friends to see things that way. They had told him not to go clubbing, that he would only get into trouble. Zack had laughed them off, seeing that Jason was falling back into his rangerly ways. The boy could not accept that they were half a world away from all the troubles and responsibilities they had known and now their only problem was keeping their noses reasonably clean so that they could have diplomatic careers. Although, that was probably why Jason had told him not to go. But how was he supposed to know the girl he was dancing with was the club owner's son's girlfriend? And she hadn't liked him anyway--the owner's son that is. And Zack should know with all of the flirting he did. If he couldn't spot an uninterested woman, he was not Zack Taylor.

Zack stopped walking and shook himself.

"Okay, Taylor," he said, "you can do this. Just think up a reasonable excuse. One that will satisfy both Trini and Jason. 'You two were just being paranoid?' No, then Trini would kill me. 'I had to go, I was researching a proposal?' No, then I'd have to write a proposal." Zack turned around, trying to find inspiration in his surroundings. Trash can, lamppost, museum poster…. Museum poster! Zack smiled up at the colorful images. Pyramids and statues and paintings surrounded the image of a mastodon erupting from the poster's center. Zack stood straighter as he turned and walked back up the street towards the pounding music. Nobody threw the Black Ranger out of a club. Who cared if the Red and Yellow Rangers were waiting at the hotel to kill him?


"So," Jason said, staring down at Zack, "you want to tell me how you ended up covered in garbage and slightly singed?"

Zack had come into their shared room and collapsed onto his bed. Now he was smiling up at Jason as if there was nothing to be ashamed of. "You know, I think the pain I was in during the singeing part is punishment enough."

"Depends on how you got that way."

Zack pushed himself up. "You see, there was this bus full of nuns--"

"Trini's room is right below ours, she's probably listening through the vents."

If Jason hadn't known Zack since the age of three he would have missed the slight widening of eyes and the way his face paled. As it was Zack managed to bounce back to his humorous attitude, quickly hiding his fear.

"I went to the club."

"Zack," Jason moaned.

"There was this girl."

"There always is, man."

"Her boyfriend--and I use the term loosely--was a jerk."

"And he beat you up, how?"

"Well--"

Jason's voice dropped to a dangerous tone. "What happened, Zack?"

"My coin exploded."

"What?" Jason thundered.

Zack, while terrified of Trini, was not worried about Jason's fury. "The boyfriend got his friends to tackle me. They threw me into the band and I landed on a surge protector--or, more precisely, my coin landed on the surge protector."

"What?"

"Apparently you're not supposed to plug these things into power outlets." Zack reached into his back pocket, wincing. He threw the coin onto the bed between himself and Jason.

"It's black," Jason said.

"What?" Zack shot forward and saw that the coin had indeed turned black.

"Oh. No," Jason said. He licked his thumb and ran it over the coin, revealing the shining metal surface. "It's just soot."

"Dude!" Zack cried.

Jason jumped at Zack's tone and looked up at his wide-eyed friend.

"You touched my power coin with your spit! That's like-- I don't even-- no! You know what it's like? It's like touching my soul with your spit!"

"You do know these walls are paper thin, right?"

"Oh, please, if my parents couldn't figure out what I was, these people certainly can't. But don't change the subject! You touched my soul with your spit!"

"Zack!" Jason snapped, rising up to his full height. His eyes blazed and Zack could have sworn they turned momentarily red. Then he started smiling. "How did you end up covered in trash?"

Zack smiled and leaned back on the bed. "Well, after the sparks stopped flying--and let me tell you, I never thought I'd miss getting zapped by Goldar--the bouncers grabbed my still-convulsing body and threw me into a dumpster out back." He lifted a clump of what he hoped was sauerkraut off his shoulder. "The club was next to an international restaurant."

Jason carefully lifted a dirty napkin out of Zack's hair. "You know, Zordon never mentioned public humiliation as part of the job."

"Or course not. You never tell teenagers that they're going to be embarrassed if they help you. You really think Trini's been listening?"

"Well, I don't know how she could have missed the yelling."

"Man, I really wanted to hold onto my reputation."

"You're covered in garbage."

"But no one's seen me." Zack rolled over onto his side, making himself comfortable and hoping to get a few hours of sleep. "Honestly, Jase, you'll make a horrible diplomat, you don't even understand damage control."

"Oh," Jason said, "I understand it." Something about Jason's tone made Zack roll over. There was a camera flash and Zack's eyes went wide. He shot up and started chasing Jason around the room.

"Give it!" he cried.

"Not a chance," Jason said, leaping over his own bed and pulling the Polaroid out of the camera. He shook out the photo before snapping another. Zack roared and leapt at Jason.

Twelve feet below them Trini smirked. Her roommate was sleeping peacefully, having taken Trini's first night advice about getting earplugs.

"Trini," Kim asked, her voice muffled over the communicator, "what is that?"

"It's just the boys," Trini said. "Zack snuck out even though Jason told him not to."

"Won't he get in trouble with the school?"

"No, the school encourages us to go out into the world. Jason didn't think Zack could handle it without getting into trouble. Kim, you remember how, with all the monsters and fate of the world stuff, life got pretty crazy and we said we missed how normal life used to be?"

"Yeah, why?"

"That was a total lie. The world saving was just a cover, we were always crazy."

"No, we weren't, you just can't imagine life before the insanity."

"Kim, you once hitchhiked to L.A., tracked down Biff Starr despite the fact that not even the paparazzi could find him, saved his life, got his autograph, and came home--all in one weekend."

"That was totally ranger--"

"No, no it was not ranger related. We were eleven. I know because you gave me the autograph for my twelfth birthday. We were weird long before we met Zordon, he just gave us an excuse."

"Never thought I'd actually want to thank Rita."

There was an especially loud bang from above and Trini glared up at the ceiling. "Kim, I think I need to go stop the boys from killing each other."

"All right, I guess I should get back to my history report. Heaven knows Rita won't give me time to write it."

Trini smiled and slid her communicator underneath her mattress. She stood and stretched a bit before heading upstairs. She did enjoy making the boys miss the forces of darkness.