-1Warning(s): Set after Friends Don't Fade Away, slight Fran/RJ-ness because omfg have you seen the episode? Sorry. Um. Franbabble and Insecure!RJ. Hugging! Yay!

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proof of purchase

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"A disturbance in your chi, Fran?"

Fran started as RJ's voice came from right behind her. Gah! How in the world… oh right, martial arts master, duh. Good one Fran. Fran forcibly nudged herself out of her own headspace so she could actually pay attention to the conversation at hand.

"What? Oh, nothing RJ, I'm fine!" And she was. Toootally fine. As fine as fine could be. Seriously, utterly and completely fine and really nothing wrong and everything was so right that she could hardly-

"Fran." Fran blinked and realized she'd been mentally babbling. Again. And RJ had caught her at it. Again. Gah. "Everything's not fine," RJ said firmly and Fran half wondered how she'd been caught out.

"No really," she tried again - really, totally not RJ's problem and really, totally not fair of her to burden-

"Fran," RJ repeated sternly - but gently and Fran knew she'd been found out. Her shoulders slumped and she peered up at her boss slash best friend slash whatever from under her bangs.

"How'd you know?" she asked dully, fidgeting with a pigtail. She glanced down, then back up in time to see RJ smile fondly down at her.

"Your brow furrows right about… here," he gently brushed at the spot between her eyebrows, "And your nose wrinkles," Fran tried not to burst into flames as he tapped her nose and then grinned brightly, "Plus your mental babbling goes on for at least twice as long before someone can pull you out."

Oh. Fran flushed. Yeah, that would do it. Gah. Face. Completely on fire. "So, que pasa my anxiety ridden friend?" RJ said as he hopped up onto one of the counters, making a flourishing gesture that would've been out of place with anyone but him. Fran smiled in spite of herself.

"Parents," she admitted, hopping up beside RJ after a moment. "They want me home for Christmas but I'd really rather be anywhere but there, but it's not like I have anywhere to go or anywhere to say I'm going so I'm probably going to be stuck reliving nightmarish memories of Fran's Totally Heinous Childhood and of course reliving them with Fran's Totally Heinous Cousins because it's not like-"

"Fran!" RJ interrupted quickly, but there was nothing but genuine amusement and affection in his tone. "You'll be staying with me and the Rangers this Christmas," he said simply, smiling down at her like he hadn't just completely saved her from seeing her parents and having a major emotional breakdown. She blinked up at him. "Mi casa es su casa, no?" he added, nudging her shoulder with his own.

"No," Fran agreed numbly, "I mean! Wait, yes! Or…" Oh hell. "Thank you!" Fran hugged RJ with all her might. RJ chuckled and Fran felt it down to her toes. "Thank you thank you thank you!" She repeated, unable to do much more - her parents wouldn't like it, but spending Christmas with her real family? With RJ and the others? Completely worth every migraine inducing argument with her parents. "You always know what to do," she said, leaning her head on RJ's shoulder and closing her eyes, imagining a real, perfect Christmas for once.

"A Pai Zhuq master must achieve balance and harmony - we always know what to do," RJ said, his tone cheerful - but his gaze was on Fran and he frowned in confusion. Or at least almost always.

The Pai Zhuq handbook never said anything about falling for a friend. Falling for a Fran.

RJ half wished there was someplace he could lodge a formal complaint about his lack of preparedness for such a bombshell. But he knew better than to ask for that - if there had been such a place, he would've returned the Rangers months ago and demanded a refund - receipt or no receipt. If they demanded proof of purchase, he would gladly offer to share the countless headaches the three had caused over the months. Better yet, he would've shopped around for a new uniform and a new father and… RJ sighed. But not Fran. Fran was one thing he knew he would keep - couldn't bear to give up - so the complaint in the end was useless and he was stuck.

He'd have to fix this one himself. And not as a Pai Zhuq Master. And not as a Ranger or a mentor. But as an RJ.

Crap.

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fin

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AN: Hey all. Hoped you liked at least a little. I liked Fran in this one, but not my best RJ. I'm working on it. For my dearest Jules, who totally understands how Fran and RJ are like 'o hai ily' and how camera people of any gender love a good close up of our dearest RJ. Review for me please!