Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I associated with, PR.

AN: I actually wrote this last year for a challenge over on PRU but never posted it here for whatever reason. And then, when I was going through all my old PR fiction (for insane reasons), I discovered that this wasn't on ffn and was horrified. So here's a Christmas/Hanukkah present for all of you!

Bushes Like Trees

Kendrix gingerly leapt over the fallen log and was rewarded with the sound of a bird taking off in fear. She smiled, glad that the bird was the only thing frightened by her action. She had left the hut--Maya had invited her to move into her home after they arrived on Mirinoi--just after dawn. This excursion was an attempt to avoid Leo. It wasn't that she didn't want to see him. She had been overjoyed to be reunited with her friends, Leo especially, but after her "resurrection" he had taken up the mantle of body guard. It was sweet at first to have him check on her and help her while they cleaned the wreckage of Terra Venture but after a while it got old. He wouldn't let her climb a tree or inspect a new form of life (plant or animal), he wouldn't let her do anything alone. Which was exactly why she was determined to do this alone.

It wasn't the best job to tackle without help. Frankly, it was a two person job minimum, but she needed a challenge. And anyway, she thought, stepping carefully around what the natives called a Sploit Flower, it would be a wonderful surprise for Leo. When she had left the Sploit Flower a reasonable distance behind her--it could shoot a sticky, foul-smelling substance from thirty feet if annoyed and it could take up to two weeks to get the goo off--Kendrix began to seriously consider her options. She obviously wasn't going to find anything traditional in this climate, but she was sure to find something. All of the trees she saw were huge and not at all what she was looking for anyway. Her uncle always used a fern, but that had always struck her as cheap. Finally, she decided that a bush would be best, she'd just have to trim it. That in mind she marched to the nearest one. It stood a full foot and a half taller than her and she hadn't gotten a chance to study this particular species yet. She pulled her backpack off and took a large pair of pruning shears out of the side pocket. There was no better way to study the plant, she decided, than getting up close and personal with it.

"Where is she?" Leo cried for the hundredth time.

"Leo," Maya said, laying a hand on his arm, "calm down. You're starting to scare people."

Several of the villagers were hiding their children from Leo and others were inching ever closer to weapons, just in case.

"I don't care! I have to find her!"

A fist came out of nowhere and landed squarely on Leo's jaw. When the dust had settled and the stars had cleared from his eyes Leo managed to look up to see his attacker. Kai was rubbing his knuckles and glaring down at him.

"Are you ready to listen to reason?" Kai asked.

Leo nodded dumbly and remained on the ground, it would be easier to surprise Kai with a counterattack from this position.

"You," Kai said, slowly circling Leo, "need to back off. We all missed Kendrix, we were all ecstatic when she came back from the dead, and we are all worried about her. None of us want our friend to die again. But you can't treat her like a porcelain doll forever, Leo. We've all backed off. We still watch her, make sure that she's not getting in over her head, but we don't follow her around like puppies and carry her over a leaf-strewn pathway because 'there might be a poisonous bug in there.'"

"It was one time," Leo grumbled.

"It was yesterday! Listen, Leo, just give Kendrix her space. You can still make googoo eyes at her and flirt until the rest of us are sick, but you can't keep protecting her. She doesn't need it, Leo."

"She died," he growled.

"And now she's back. Just be thankful for that and stop thinking about a future that you can't stop."

Leo glared but took Kai's offered hand. "Thanks," he said and hit Kai in the arm. "Don't punch me again."

"As long as you stop being overprotective, I won't have to."

"So, where are the others?"

Maya giggled. "They're looking frantically for Kendrix."

"What? I'm not allowed to freak out over Kendrix disappearing, but everyone else is?"

"You were scaring the villagers," Kai said. "We're looking in a nice, controlled manner."

Damon ran into the village. "We," he panted, "can't find her."

Leo was just about to start his insane search once more when they heard Kendrix's voice from the trees.

"Would one of you mind helping me out over here?" she called. Leo was at the tree line before the others could even fully process Kendrix's words. He paused just short of pulling her into a bear hug, remembering Kai's lecture.

Instead he asked, "What do you need?"

"To get this," she said, pulling the roots of a large bush, "into the village." The bush refused to move. Its branches were stuck on the other side of two trees that held it fast.

"What is it?" Leo asked, climbing over the plant to push it from the other side.

Kendrix smiled at him over the leaves and he felt his heart speed up. "It's a surprise," she said.

"Oh, well, then I suppose it's totally worth it."

"Trust me," Kendrix said, pulling as hard as she could, "it will be."

"Okay," Leo said an hour later, "you're right, it is totally worth it."

Kendrix had sculpted the bush into a cone shape and it was now standing up in the center of the settlement. Word had spread quickly that someone had set up a Christmas tree and soon everyone who had come over on Terra Venture was there, each with their most prized ornament to hang on the tree. The native villagers had been eager to hear the Christmas story and, when it became apparent that the bush Kendrix found would not be big enough to hold all of the ornaments, they had rushed off with several newcomers to find more.

"What made you decide to do this?" Leo asked.

"It's December first back on Earth. My grandfather always used to take me out and buy a tree today. I just wanted to keep the tradition going."

Leo hugged her around the shoulders. "Now it's a tradition for the whole colony."

Kendrix smiled. "I don't know about that, but it sure has brought everyone together."

"Yeah," Leo said, laughing at Professor Phenomenus, who was telling a group of Mirinoi children the story of Santa Claus. "You know, I bet there'll be a lot of new kids on Santa's list this year."

"Someone should probably tell their parents."

"What? Warn them that a fat man in red is going to sneak into their house in the middle of the night and leave their kids presents?"

"Leo, you don't actually believe in Santa Claus?"

"Of course I believe in Santa Claus! How could I not? He's like the greatest Red Ranger ever!"

"Leo! Santa is not a Ranger! And anyway, it's not physically possible to travel around the world in one night, how would he get to Mirinoi?"

"First off, Santa has magical powers, that's how he does it, and why can't he travel to Mirinoi?"


Mike watched from a distance as the fight continued.

"Have they always been like this?" Haley asked.

"Oh yeah," Mike said. "It's just like old times."

Commander Stanton laughed, hearing their conversation. "Hey," he said, "it's not Christmas unless someone has a fight."

Mike nodded. "It's just like home."

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! And God bless!

reviews = love