Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with the Power Rangers. It's not my toy box, I'm merely playing.
A/N: This is a sequel to "A Temporary Side Effect". It was written for the prau100 community on lj using prompt # 44 Reluctant Hero.
A/N2: I used a concept I plan to use in another fic that all the black rangers up until Will are either gay or bi. Their teasing Will about being straight in this fic is nothing more than banter and them poking fun at each other, it is not in anyway meant to come across as hetrophobic. Thank you.
Warning: This has slash in it and mentions het. If that is going to bother you at all, please use the back button.
Dustin stared at the morpher, conflicted. When he'd received his Wind Morpher he hadn't hesitated and though it'd been tough at times he'd never seriously considered not wanting it. Now these sunglasses, this Solar Morpher, reflected his frown back at him.
Why had he been chosen? How had he gone from a vibrant color like yellow to the drabness that was black?
He tried reminding himself of the phone call he'd had with Dr. O. shortly after receiving his new morpher. He'd called for advice on transitioning to his new color, it'd turned into a conversation on finding balance and accepting change. He was still unsure if he could.
Worst yet, he seemed to have no camaraderie with his new teammates. That instant connection he usually felt with his fellow rangers just wasn't there. Casey, Theo and Lily made him feel inadequate and old. He wasn't really that much older than them, but at times they acted so very inexperienced and so very young. He knew they were just starting out as rangers, they needed time to learn. That was part of the problem, he was used to being Sensei Dustin, sometimes Sensei Brooks, but he wasn't sure how to approach them as such. To them he was merely Dustin, a former ranger called back into action, and RJ's friend.
When he'd tried to approach them as a teacher in response to RJ asking him to he'd walked in on them complaining about him.
"Well there's one good thing about him," Casey was saying, "at least I'm no longer the new guy."
Lily had laughed. Theo had paced, "I'm not comfortable with his first Zord being a lion. I mean I know his animal spirit is a bat, but obviously he also has a connection to the lion too."
"Which is Dai Shi's animal spirit," Lily concluded following Theo's line of thought before she added with a slight frown, ""I don't think RJ would've given him a morpher if he wasn't trustworthy."
"We didn't need a forth," Theo protested.
"We were doing just fine on our own," Casey agreed.
"I wonder why RJ had him join?" Lily questioned.
Dustin had almost spoken then, it hadn't been his choice to be called back into active status, it'd just happened.
"And his attitude," Theo complained, "I mean I can handle RJ being RJ, he's our Master, but did we really need a teammate with his personality?"
He hadn't stuck around, hadn't bothered to alert him to his presence. How was he supposed to build camaraderie with teammates who clearly didn't want him?
He couldn't give back the morpher. It was meant for him. The world needed to be saved. And just as he couldn't imagine living without his connection to the Earth, he also couldn't imagine life without his connection to the bat. Still, for the first time, he didn't want the morpher.
He slipped the sunglasses over his eyes and leaned his head against the tree he was sitting in front of. With a worried sigh he rose, took a few steps then allowed himself to sink into the comforting embrace of the Earth.
He wondered if part of his problem might be that he'd been good friends with Tori and Shane before they'd been rangers together. He'd known Cam and also gotten to know several different sides of Hunter and Blake before they'd been teammates. He hadn't had to worry about how he was presenting himself because they'd known and accepted him. He wasn't about to change who he was for his new teammates, but he also wasn't sure they had the right impression of him.
He felt another reach into the earth, seek him out and then he was being asked to surface. It wasn't any of his students. It also wasn't any of the other sensei's he'd taught with. Curious he rose to find Shane standing there.
"You can't do that," he said confused.
"No, but I have friends who can," Shane told him with that smile that said he'd gone and done something extravagant.
Dustin took the morpher off and slipped it into its carrying case. As he began to use the earth to seek out the person who had found him a man he'd met only briefly stepped forward.
"Hi Adam," he greeted.
"I miss using my Ninja powers sometimes," Adam explained.
"Me too," Tommy agreed as he stepped forward.
"Never got those," another man said. As he stepped forward he gave Dustin a grin, "Nice to meet the latest guy to follow in my footsteps."
"Hi," Dustin greeted.
"Zack Taylor," the man introduced offering his hand. They shook.
"Dustin Brooks," Dustin greeted back as he realized he'd just met the first ever black ranger.
"And I'm Carlos," another man said as he stepped out of the woods and into the clearing Dustin had been having his sulk in.
"Danny," another introduced himself.
"And we've met," Will said as he came forward.
"Hi," Dustin greeted a bit stunned to be standing in the woods surround by his predecessors and his boyfriend, "Dude did you…you didn't…"
"You needed it," Shane said, "I'd like to know what those kids said to get you so worked up."
"Sometimes rookies get too big for their britches. You just have to stand back and roll your eyes beneath your helmet and remind yourself that you can't actually intentionally hurt a fellow red ranger," Tommy advised.
"Red?" Adam asked, "Tommy we're here about Dustin, not to talk about that incident with a lot of reds, but not all the reds."
Will gave Tommy a confused look. Dustin gave Shane his 'Dude, I don't get it' look.
"Sorry," Tommy shuddered, "I just…mild flashback. And hey Rocky's job is too important. I couldn't interrupt that!"
"Still should've given him the option," Adam muttered.
"Too big for their britches," Zack paraphrased teasingly to change the subject, "Oh man, now I know you're older than you claim…"
Tommy stopped staring at Adam and reminded, "You're older than me."
Zack laughed, "Right now I'm not sure."
Adam laughed and shook his head.
Tommy gave Adam a smile, "So you're not actually…"
"If my boyfriend's not upset, why should I be?" Adam asked.
Tommy shook his head, "So you were just trying to make me think you were."
Adam shrugged, "It's fun watching you squirm."
With a bemused smile on his face Tommy approached Dustin, "How are you doing?"
Dustin shrugged, "It's just weird Dude. I'm okay with the black, but I'm not fitting in like I should."
"You were a yellow first and you're used to being the heart of your team, right?" Adam asked.
"He is," Shane nodded.
"They already had a yellow who fills that role," Adam continued.
Dustin nodded and smiled seeing where Adam was going with this.
"You just need to find your own niche within the team, since the one you're used to is already filled," Adam concluded.
"And you're the first male yellow," Will pointed out, "You're not quite as unique as you used to be."
"You can't take away his uniqueness, even if he's changed colors," Danny disagreed.
Adam nodded his agreement, "You still are who you are. It's just an opportunity to grow in a new way."
"And be part of the exclusive club that is all about the best color there is," Zack smirked.
"Normally I'd agree," Will interjected, "but then I found out that I was the first straight black ranger."
"Life's more fun bi," Zack laughed.
"Give it time," Carlos joked, "maybe you just haven't met the right man yet."
Will gave Dustin a pleading look. Dustin felt himself start to relax even as he responded, "Sorry, I like can't help you there Dude. I'm dating my team's red."
"Lucky bastard," Carlos muttered.
Dustin laughed as the other guys gave Carlos a variety of looks. Carlos shrugged.
"You can have my team's red," Danny offered, "Alyssa dumped him."
Tommy rolled his eyes, "They'll get back together."
"They will," Adam agreed, "They play the break-up, make-up game almost as much as Taylor and Eric."
"I think that's where they learned it from. It's tiring," Danny sighed, "Makes me glad Max and I don't."
"Dude, I'm like so lost," Dustin admitted.
"He dates his team's blue and his other teammate's relationships aren't as steady as his," Zack explained before he gave Will a significant look and jested, "His straight teammates."
Will laughed, "Not going to change who I am."
"But it's more fun being bi," Zack groused, "Ask Tommy, he didn't believe me…"
"I was in denial," Tommy cut off.
"Really in denial," Adam laughed.
"Hey!" Tommy protested.
"Sorry man, you're just too easy to pick on some days," Zack laughed.
Shane shook his head, wrapping an arm around Dustin and kissing the side of his forehead, "How are you?"
"I can't believe you did this?" he whispered.
"Oh, like we could let a fellow black doubt himself," Zack told him.
"It's normal," Adam said with a poke to Zack.
"Very normal," Carlos agreed as Danny nodded.
Will gave them a doubtful look.
"You're just as good at hiding it as me," Zack told him with a slap to the back.
Will raised an eyebrow.
"Just as long as you believe I'm straight," he muttered.
"Hey," Zack said holding up his hands in mock defeat, "I believed Tommy until he proved my first theory right."
Tommy groaned, "Why do you always have to bring this up. I'm married to Hayley, remember?"
"Doesn't make you any less bi," Zack grinned.
"And it doesn't mean you and…"Adam started, but cut off into a laugh when he caught sight of Tommy's glare.
"I thought this was about boosting Dustin's confidence," Danny pointed out, "not discussing relationships."
"Will brought it up," Zack mock pouted.
"Sure blame me," Will rolled his eyes and gave Dustin a look full of 'see what I have to put up with'.
Dustin laughed and shook his head.
"I think we should get to see the suit," Carlos decided.
The others quickly agreed and with a shake of his head Dustin pulled out the morpher, "Jungle Beast! Spirits Unleashed!"
"I'm so glad I never had to deal with wacky hand motions," Zack said, "My morph was simple."
"Simple was good," Adam nodded.
"There was simple?" Danny asked.
"Yeah," Will said as he pointed to Adam, "Basically all he has to do is hold out his hands and say one word."
"Oh," Danny nodded.
"Excuse me," Zack reminded, "I passed my mopher onto him. That's my original morph."
Dustin rubbed the back of his helmet, "Dude."
The only one that seemed to acknowledge his morph was Carlos who was walking around him slowly. He stopped in front of Dustin with a huge grin on his face, "I'm the only one who hasn't seen what your suit looks like already. Looking at this, I'm not sure I wasn't jipped."
"Hey," Adam protested.
"Talking black not green," Carlos said.
"I thought the Astro suits were kinda cool," Tommy cut in, "You got to wear all your teammates colors."
Zack and Adam smirked at each other. Danny pressed his lips together obviously trying not to laugh. Will shook his head with a smile. Shane and Carlos laughed. Dustin tilted his head to the side, waiting to see the reaction.
"What?" Tommy asked.
"You would love wearing all the colors, wouldn't you Tommy?" Zack teased.
"Hey!" Tommy protested.
"Some day you make it too easy," Adam pointed out.
"Not intentionally," Tommy groused.
"Which is what makes it more fun," Zack revealed.
"Power Down," Dustin decided as he started laughing. He caught Shane smiling at him and returned it as he slipped the morpher onto his head.
He looked over as Zack dropped an arm over his shoulder, "It's nice to finally see a suit as cool as Adam's and mine."
"Hey!" all the other guys protested.
"What?" Zack asked with faux innocence.
Danny crossed his arms, "Just you being you. We at least have to pretend to be insulted."
"Pretend?" Tommy asked laughing.
Zack continued with his innocent look.
"Like anyone's falling for that," Carlos snorted.
"Yeah, we know you too well," Adam pointed out.
"It was worth a try," Zack told them.
"Even I knew that wasn't going to work," Shane added.
Zack shrugged, "It works with the woman, sometimes."
"Only cause they've decided to let you get away with something," Tommy teased.
"I'm hungry," Adam announced, "we should get food."
"Been spending too much time with Rocky?" Tommy asked smirking.
"He gave that one to you," Carlos told Tommy.
"Oh, someone thinks he's on a roll," Zack announced.
Adam shook his head with a bemused smile, "Well if someone hadn't interrupted my dinner plans with a promise to feed me later I wouldn't have to remind you, would I?"
"I didn't forget," Tommy muttered.
Adam crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow.
"Okay, okay I did," Tommy admitted before he pointed out, "There are seven of us, I figured at some point food would be a must."
"I haven't had Earth food in so long," Carlos complained.
"Well if you hadn't moved," Zack teased.
"It gives me an excuse to visit," Carlos responded.
"Food," Danny reminded.
"Anything but pizza," Dustin piped in.
"I'm living above a pizza parlor," Dustin reminded.
"We know!" Tommy announced cutting off Carlos.
"Yeah, TJ's kind exhausted our limit on that story," Adam told him with an apologetic look.
"He would," Carlos muttered.
"Ah, Dude," Dustin said as he ran a hand over his head indicating he didn't understand.
Shane shrugged, "I don't get it either."
"You'll eventually meet TJ and be tired of the story too," Tommy promised.
"But until then," Carlos smiled, "I won't bore you with it."
"But dude," Dustin complained.
Carlos clasped Dustin on the shoulder, "I'll tell you before I leave. Shane too."
"Cool," Dustin smiled.
"And I'll spar with you before I head back," Shane promised.
Tommy shook his head, "You've been taking it easy on them, haven't you?"
"Of course he has," Shane responded, "and by now he's going a bit squirrelly with the pent up energy."
"I'm talking sparring," Shane told him with a raised eyebrow.
"Doesn't mean that you should cut your visit short and without…" Zack started.
"Dude!" Dustin interrupted, "none of your like business."
Zack gave him an innocent look.
They all laughed.
"Come on, food," Adam reminded.
"Rocky," Tommy muttered.
"Yeah, yeah," Adam laughed as he gave Tommy a light push in the right direction. Still laughing Carlos followed. Danny caught up with Carlos and began asking question about living in space. With a bemused shake of his head Will took off after them.
Zack smiled as he watched them before he turned to Dustin and told him, "You'll fit right in."
Dustin smiled and nodded, "Thanks."
"No problem," Zack said as he caught up with the other guys.
Shane pulled Dustin into a quick kiss, wanting a small moment between them before they joined the others. When he pulled away he asked, "Better?"
"Yeah," Dustin nodded. If he could fit in with his predecessors than it was only a matter of time before he fit in with his team and Adam's advice made sense. That decided he slipped his morpher off and into it's carrying case.