Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I associated with, Power Rangers.
AN: I suppose this is my new project. The Holiday Chaos of 2008, you could say. I have at least three more specials planned, so stay tuned for those.
Jungle Karma Pizza Specials
1: Super Veggie Pizza of Doom
Theo hated dishes. He almost found himself thinking that the world would be a better place if people just ate off of tables, then he looked at the table and began scrubbing harder. He handed the plate to Casey, who dried it and handed to Lily, who happily danced across the room and dropped it on top of the pile of plates.
"How can you be happy?" Theo asked, glaring at her.
Fran grunted and said, "I don't see why you're complaining." She dug her elbow into the large wad of pizza dough RJ had asked her to knead.
At just that moment RJ walked serenely down the stairs. "Something wrong?" he asked.
"Nothing," Casey said quickly. He elbowed Theo as he passed Lily another plate. "We don't want to get more work," he hissed.
Theo rolled his eyes but stayed silent.
"Oh, come on," RJ said. "You know you can tell me anything. This is a free communication zone."
"Well, RJ," Lily said, "I've been wondering, how did you handle things before we came along?"
RJ walked around the table, hands folded. "I stayed calm, meditating before each rush. So long as I kept centered, I was able to handle any obstacle."
"He had other employees," Fran said, throwing the dough down with a satisfying thump.
RJ wilted amid his students' giggles, then stood straight. "And they didn't give me any sass."
"Yes, they did."
RJ turned to glare at Fran, who ducked her head. "But they did excellent work. They cleaned the whole place in less than half an hour, they always came in on time, they made the best pizzas."
"They did!" Fran said, smiling. "I remember their Super Veggie Pizza of Doom." She swooned slightly. "Why don't you make that anymore?"
"Because they never told me how," RJ said. He crossed his arms and leaned against the counter where Fran was working. The Rangers looked at each other. It was rare to see RJ so disgruntled. "When they were here, I could sit upstairs almost all day. But when they left --"
Lily leaned forward, her eyes widening when she saw a single tear rolling down RJ's cheek.
"Why," Casey asked carefully, "did they leave?"
RJ shook his head. "I don't know. One day they just came in and told me that they were quitting." He sniffed and his voice took on a frighteningly high pitch. "And then they were gone." He sighed and looked around as if seeing the Rangers for the first time. "Oh, but I don't know how I would have managed if you three -- four!" he added, turning to Fran, "hadn't come along. I might have had to close down. Now get back to work. Chop chop!"
He rushed back up the stairs.
Lily turned to the boys. "We are the worst employees ever!"
"What?" Casey asked.
"His old employees were perfect and now he's just got us."
Theo scoffed, "We're not so bad."
"Well," Fran said, "you do disappear a lot -- and I'm not so experienced."
"But neither are we!" Lily said. "What are we going to do?"
"Not disappear," Fran muttered.
"What?" Theo asked.
"Nothing!" she said brightly, getting back to kneading.
"We have to work harder," Lily said.
"We work hard enough as it is," Theo said.
"It's been over an hour since closing and we still haven't finished cleaning up, RJ's old employees did it in half an hour."
"It's not possible to clean this whole place in half an hour with only four people. Fran," Theo called, "how many old employees did RJ have?"
"Lily's right, Theo," Casey said. "We spend so much time worrying about our other job," he hissed, his voice dropping low, "that we forget about all we have to do for this one." He squared his jaw. "Fran, go home. We'll finish the prep for tomorrow."
"A- are you sure? Because I can --"
"Go home, Fran. We'll be fine."
"Okay," she said uncertainly, untying her apron. "Bye, guys." She hurried out the door before Casey could change his mind.
"Casey!" Theo cried.
"No, this is a matter of pride." He walked purposefully to the oven and picked up the cat shaped timer, holding it out for them to see. He turned the pointer to the thirty minute mark. "Let's go."
Lily nodded and rushed to work. Casey glared at Theo who threw up his arms and resumed washing.
RJ sat in his chair, thinking about Trixie and Jim. They'd spent so much time bickering, but he could always see the love underneath. And they were such good employees! How could they just leave him? Truthfully, he was lucky the Rangers showed up when they did, otherwise he would have had to deal with the long parade of teens who thought they could handle a job at Jungle Karma Pizza. The phone trilled annoyingly. RJ quickly grabbed it before it could ring again.
RJ sat up straight causing the back of the chair to slam into his back. He winced and cried, "Trixie! Speak of the devil! I was just telling the kids about you. What happened to you guys?"
"RJ," Trixie said quietly, "there's something I have to tell you."
Jim called out in the background, "Tell him I said 'hi.'"
RJ smiled. He missed their bickering.
"We should have told you sooner. We -- we're --"
"Oh! Let me do it."
"No! I can handle this. RJ, we're -- bad."
"What?" RJ asked, completely confused.
There was a muffled sound that RJ assumed was Jim grabbing the phone away from Trixie, then a beep.
"You're on speaker phone," Jim said.
"Listen," RJ said, cutting them off, "Trixie, Jim -- you don't owe me any explanation."
"My name's not Trixie."
"Thank God. I was seriously beginning to worry about your parents."
"We don't have parents," Jim said.
"Well, I- I'm sorry about that. You never told me."
"RJ," Jim said slowly. "Do you remember a few years ago, when there were rumors of Power Rangers in Turtle Cove?"
"Yeah," RJ said slowly.
"We were there."
"Are you saying that you were Power Rangers?" That was just too much coincidence: two sets of rangers working in his restaurant? Too weird.
"No!" the two cried quickly.
"We were there to fight them," Trixie said.
"You were Orgs." RJ nodded in understanding even though they couldn't see him. He had always wondered why his employees seemed so determined to do everything right. They were trying to prove themselves.
"Yes. We would have told you, but -- we didn't want you to worry. We would never have hurt you."
"Oh, I know that."
"You may say that now," Jim said, "but if we were still there -- you might not be so quick to forgive."
"Dudes, you weren't the only ones keeping secrets. I, myself, am a Pai Zhuq master. If there was any evil left in you, I would have sensed it."
"Really?" Trixie asked.
"Wait," Jim said, "does that mean you know the new Power Rangers?"
"Not necessarily," RJ said. "Why did you guys leave?"
Trixie sighed. "We sensed a great evil force released nearby. We felt it best to -- get out of Dodge, so to speak."
"Good idea, they may have seen you as a threat if they recognized you." Part of the reason the Dai Shi had failed to conquer the world so many ages ago was the complicated war. It wasn't just the Dai Shi against the Pai Zhuq, but the Dai Shi against the Orgs against the warriors of Animaria.
"That's what we thought."
"Hey, what are your real names anyway?"
"Coo--" There was a crash downstairs. "Listen, guys, I have to go. Stay safe, okay?"
"You too," Toxica said.
"Bye, RJ!" Jindrax called enthusiastically.
RJ hung up the phone and rushed down to the restaurant. He only made it halfway down the stairs before he slipped, grasping the railing for balance and managing to hold himself up just inches from the wet step. He looked around, eyes wide. Absolutely everything was covered in pizza sauce. He slowly stood and looked out into the kitchen. Theo was sitting against the wall beside the door, staring into space and absently wiping sticky strands of sauce covered cheese off his pants. Lily was hanging upside down from the pot rack, sauce dripping from her hair. Casey was stomach down on the countertop, and looked like an extra from a cheap horror movie.
"What happened?" RJ asked.
Lily looked over at him, the pots rattling when she moved. RJ smirked, he could see her blush through the sauce. "We were trying to match your old employees' clean up time."
The oven timer chose just that moment to roar, startling Theo back into reality and waking Casey up with such a start that he leapt up to join Lily on the pot rack. The two looked at each other for a horrifying moment while RJ stood frozen in place, trying to force his mind to work, but it was too late. The ceiling cracked above them and the whole pot rack came down, rangers and all. Lily and Casey moaned in pain, since they had taken the brunt of the fall. RJ and Theo raced to help them.
"My back," Casey moaned. They'd fallen on the kitchen's island, and the edge of it had hit the middle of his back. Theo and RJ lifted the pot rack and discarded it on the floor. Casey rolled off the counter and fell ungracefully to the floor, making a splattering sound in the sauce.
"My spleen," Lily said, clutching her side.
"Wrong side," Theo said.
Lily glared, a soft growl coming from deep in her throat.
"Take it back, man," Casey advised.
"I repeat," RJ said, "what happened?"
Theo looked sadly down at his friends. Their injuries meant he had to explain. "We were working so quickly, we forgot to keep an eye on the sauce."
Lily snapped, "It didn't help that you threw a towel on the stove."
"Yeah," Casey said, "the extra fuel overheated the sauce and it exploded."
RJ, ever the peacemaker, said, "At least the raining sauce put the fire out."
The three glared -- at least he assumed Casey was glaring, he couldn't see him over the island.
"Listen, guys, you don't have to be as good as my old employees. You're not them. Trust me, it's better that you're not. As far as I'm concerned, as long as you do your best to keep Fran from feeling like the only employee, I'm good."
"Really?" Theo asked.
"I told you!" Theo cried, kicking Casey's foot.
"Guys!" RJ yelled before they could start fighting. "Why don't you all help each other upstairs and get cleaned up? I'll deal with this."
"Really?" Lily asked.
"Really. Now, get."
Theo helped Lily off the counter and the two helped Casey to his feet. Somehow they managed to stumble up the slippery stairs together. RJ shook his head. He didn't care if they were super powerful warriors in the war between good and evil, he missed Toxica and Jindrax.