Disclaimer: I don't own Power Rangers.
AN: Thanks to angellwings for beta-ing!
Justin and Jerry
Justin glared at his enemy. He had faced monsters several hundred times his size, defended the Earth from her most vile of enemies, been willing to sacrifice his life for the cause of good, but he had never, in all his years, met an enemy as evil as this one.
"It won't do any good to stare at the poor thing," Charlie said.
Justin toed the floor, making the computer chair swivel around to face his roommate.
"'Poor thing'?" he demanded and leapt to his feet, pointing at his enemy beside him. "'Poor thing!' That is a minion of evil! A servant of darkness if I have ever seen one!"
Charlie adopted the incredulous look that had become his standard expression since being assigned to Justin Stewart's dorm room. "It's a gerbil."
Justin glared and dropped back into the chair, crossing his arms atop the backrest and turning to face Jerry the Gerbil once more.
Charlie shifted uneasily. He'd spent the three months since meeting Justin trying to understand him. Sometimes he wondered if his roommate was simply homesick and having trouble adjusting. Other times he wondered if the boy was, like most young geniuses, a bit socially inept. And occasionally he wondered if Justin was insane. Those thoughts were why he slept with a bat beside his bed and why one of his friends was required to pick him up for breakfast each morning. But now it was Thanksgiving. Justin's family was a continent away and he was set to spend the entire holiday arguing with a rodent.
"Are you sure?" Charlie asked. "My mom won't mind one more, she'd be glad, really."
"No," Justin said, still sulking and glaring at the poor animal.
"Okay," Charlie said slowly and backed out the door. As it closed behind him he couldn't quite erase the horrible feeling that he was leaving a man to his doom.
Justin stared at Jerry. Jerry stared at the large blue and tan blur that regularly brought him food. Justin hated Jerry and told him so frequently. Jerry loved the blur and told it so by bringing the especially flat wood chips to the front of the cage so the blur could see them. That was, of course, assuming the blur could see, Jerry wasn't quite sure what the blur could do besides bring him food and make strange noises.
"All right," Justin said, "we're going to try this one more time." He reached his hand into the cage and lifted Jerry out.
Jerry loved it when the blur picked him up. The blur was warm and it was fun to wave his paws about wildly in the air.
Justin dropped Jerry into the small blue box at the start of the maze he'd constructed for his psychology class. The maze usually fit perfectly beneath his bed, but he'd pulled it out into the middle of the room for the experiment. He claimed that a carefully regulated diet would increase the gerbil's intelligence and allow it to complete the maze in record time, with fewer mistakes. There were other gerbils involved in the project, each staying with another of his lab partners, but Jerry was the only one giving them any trouble.
"Okay, boy," he said, lifting the door away from the box so Jerry could enter the maze. "You can do it!"
Jerry loved the blue box. It wasn't warm like the blur, but it was covered in tiny little bumps and he loved walking on it and rubbing it with his fur. It tickled!
Justin picked at the blue painter's tape he'd covered the box in for stability. Jerry wasn't moving. He was just rolling around in the box.
"Why won't you move?" he yelled at the gerbil.
Jerry blinked up at the blur. It was making those noises again, the funny ones that were really high-pitched.
"Are you okay?"
Justin whirled, unconsciously dropping into a defensive posture. "Adam?" he asked, seeing his old friend.
"And Rocky!" a muffled voice called from the hall. Adam stepped into the room to reveal Rocky, who was carrying a large cardboard box.
"We heard you were by yourself this year," Adam said as Rocky maneuvered his way into the room and dropped the box on Charlie's bed, "and we decided that was a travesty."
"Yeah," Rocky gasped, falling onto the bed beside the box.
"What's wrong with him?" Justin asked, taking a seat on his own bed. Adam sat beside him.
Not bothering to raise his head, Rocky said, "Ice! California!"
Justin looked to Adam for translation.
"We're California boys," Adam said with a shake of his head. "And carrying a big box over icy sidewalks is hard."
"Even for a superhero," Rocky added, sitting up and glancing at the maze at his feet. "What's with the mouse?"
"Gerbil," Justin said automatically. "He's supposed to be running the maze!"
Jerry glanced up at the blue blur, then at the red and black blurs. Then he went back to playing in the box.
"I don't get it," Justin moaned, "this kind of cheese is his favorite. He should be excited to get it."
"Maybe he's not hungry," Adam said.
"I don't think he likes the maze," Rocky said.
"He's never even gone into the maze," Justin sighed. "He just stays in the box."
"Have you tried putting him just outside of the box?" Adam suggested.
Justin glared at him and lifted Jerry up to deposit him a scant inch past the maze's start.
Jerry looked around at the smooth white walls of the hallway, then up to the blur. The blur, while a connoisseur of fine food, obviously knew nothing about the joys of a good box. He turned right around and went back to the pebbly blueness.
Justin gestured to the gerbil.
"I see," Adam said.
"Does he have to run it?" Rocky asked.
"If he doesn't, my hypothesis is invalid and I fail the assignment."
"What's in the box?" Justin asked, eager to change the subject.
Rocky smiled and quickly opened it. He reached inside and produced a plastic plate covered in a steamy plastic top. This he handed to Adam before producing another, which went to Justin, then another, which he kept himself.
"Dinner," Rocky said.
"Boston Market," Justin said, reading the inscription on the plastic. "Seriously?"
"Hey!" Rocky said, angrily pointing a spork at the boy. "Don't diss Bos-Mar!"
"'Bos-Mar'?" Justin muttered to Adam.
"Don't ask," Adam half-pleaded.
Justin slowly opened his plate and smiled as the rich-smelling steam reached his nose. Thick slices of turkey, gravy-drenched mashed potatoes, stuffing, and green beans: all his favorites. He smiled up at his two friends. This day was suddenly much, much better.
"There's extra of everything," Rocky said around a mouthful of stuffing. "And rolls too," he added, pulling a paper bag from the box. He tossed it across the divide between beds. It hit the edge of Justin's bed, right between Adam and Justin. Both boys tried frantically to grab it before the rolls fell all over the maze and, in their haste, sent their plates of food flying. Adam's fell facedown on the maze, while Justin's spiraled through the air, straight for Rocky, who used his ninja skills to smack it away before it hit him.
"My maze!" Justin cried, hurriedly attempting to wipe the potatoes off the gravy-soaked cardboard.
"Oh man! I'm so sorry, Justin," Adam said, getting on his knees to help.
"Guys," Rocky said.
"Get those green beans before they stain anything!"
"Charlie's got towels under his bed, get 'em Rocky."
"Oh man, it's soaking through to the carpet!"
"Towels, Rock, towels!"
"Guys!" Rocky yelled.
Adam and Justin looked up at him fearfully. It wasn't often that Rocky raised his voice like that.
"What?" Adam asked.
Rocky pointed to the blue box. He had smacked Justin's plate away so hard that it had crushed the box on impact.
"Jerry!" Justin bellowed. He threw the plate away from the box and began digging through the pile of food.
Adam and Rocky just watched as small chunks of food went flying past them.
"Wha -- where is he!" Justin yelled, holding up his food-covered hands.
Rocky watched a clump of stuffing drip from Justin's thumb.
"Wait," Adam said, "there's a gerbil running loose in the room?"
"He's not in the maze," Rocky pointed out.
"Oh no," Justin said and he turned around.
"What?" Adam asked. His eyes followed Justin's gaze and he paled. "Oh no."
"This is so bad," Rocky said.
The door was wide open.
Charlie returned home late that night rather than stay at his parents' house. On the way up to his room he passed a man in red who was tapping the walls and making squeaky sounds. He did his best to ignore the obviously crazy man and resolved to call campus security once he reached his dorm. Upon opening his door, however, he forgot the call completely. Justin's maze was still out but it was now covered in food. Several of the thin cardboard walls were sagging under the gooey remains of what had obviously been a Thanksgiving dinner. The starting box was completely crushed as well.
"What was he doing?" Charlie asked.
"Dude!" someone in the hall yelled. "Frogs and gerbils are not friends! I cannot psychically hear him! At least you're a mammal!"
The yelling man paused in Charlie's doorway and Charlie noticed that he was yelling into his watch. He raised an eyebrow at the black clad man and his hand slowly moved towards his trusty bat. The man moved on quickly enough though and Charlie sagged onto his own seat.
"I'm getting a room transfer," he said, only then noticing the open bag of rolls on Justin's bed. Every single roll was naked, stripped of its crust. The bag shuddered slightly and Jerry bent over the maze to look carefully inside.
Jerry blinked at the blue blur's friend and nudged one of the balls of heaven towards it. He loved the thick, sweet outsides and was more than willing to share.
Charlie took the engorged Jerry out of the bag and dropped him back in his cage on his way out the door.
"Hey!" Justin yelled, stopping just short of barreling into him in the doorway. "Have you seen Jerry? He's missing! When'd you get back?"
"He's in his cage."
"What?" Justin demanded and pushed him aside to examine the gerbil. "How'd he get so fat?"
"He ate all the roll crusts," Charlie said, walking down the hall.
"Hey, wait! Where are you going?"
"Far away," Charlie said.
The man in red and the man in black ran past him.
"Justin!" Red called. "We can't find the gerbil, but we've called Tommy. His predator senses are sure to pick up on the little rodent!"
"We just have to make sure he doesn't eat him," Black added mildly.
As he entered the elevator, Charlie couldn't quite erase the horrible feeling that he was leaving a man to his doom … and he didn't care one bit.