Disclaimer/: Power Rangers is still not mine, although I should have added it to my Wish List. I also don't claim ownership/creator writes to any of the carols or rituals used in this fic - they were found through the net. Anyone who would like their sources is welcome to message me, because they'd take too long to list otherwise.
Pairings/: Leo/Kai, Kendrix/Maya
Warnings/: Suggestive Pagan Carol, mentions of childhood trauma
Author's Notes/: A seasonal fic for the Pagans in the fandom. This is technically Bright Skies universe, but it can also stand alone. Happy Solstice everyone, even if it's a bit late!

The Meditation Mike coaches Leo through is a variation of the Inner Sanctuary Meditation. The rituals mentioned here, other than Leo's altered protection ritual, are actual Pagan/Wiccan rituals taken from throughout the net. The Pagan Carols are also legitimate, and go to the following tunes: Faunus the Roman Goat-God: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Share the Light: The First Noel, and Dancin' in a Pagan Wonderland: Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland.

Bounding through the forests of Mirinoi, Leo felt oddly gleeful. It was rare for him to be so excited this time of year - the hypocrisy of it all usually just pissed him off - but this year was different. This year ... this year he had the best gift he could ever ask for. A gift he didn't really deserve when it came down to it. But his brother and Kendrix were back, his friends were safe, and he had a beautiful new home to celebrate. This was going to the best holiday ever.

Almost absently, he started to sing his favorite carol as he jogged. "Faunus the Roman Goat-God, had a very rigid prick. And if you ever saw it, you would say it's quite a - "

"What did you just say?!"

Leo blinked, skidding to a stop and glancing back over his shoulder. Kai was staring at him in wide-eyed, scandalized horror. "Trick?" he finished blankly. "What?"

"What - what was that?" Kai sputtered. "You - what were you - "

"Oh!" Leo grinned brightly. "Faunus the Roman Goat-God. It's one of my favorite Pagan Carols."

"Your favorite what?!"

"Leo, are you torturing Kai again?" Kendrix called, dusting her hands and shaking her head with a soft smile as she approached from one of the tech shelters the GSA had erected.

"I was not," he shot back, offended. "I was singing. I'm no Backstreet Boy, but I'm not that bad."

Kendrix gave Kai an amused look. "You're upset because Leo can't sing?"

"It's not that!" Kai protested hotly, his face turning red. "You - you didn't hear what he was singing!"

Leo shrugged innocently when Kendrix raised her eyebrows at him. "Faunus the Roman Goat-God. It's my favorite Pagan Carol."

She blinked. "I didn't know you were Pagan, Leo."

"Yeah, well ... " He shrugged uncomfortably. "I wasn't always. I was raised Wiccan, but I stopped believing in anything really for awhile. But after Mike ... " He trailed off, shrugging again. "I have something to celebrate again, y'know?"

Her eyes softened as she laid a hand on his arm. "You don't have to justify yourself to me, Leo," she reminded him gently. "I'm just surprised you didn't say anything sooner." She paused, suddenly giving him a smile. "So what are you celebrating then?"

"Winter Solstice," he returned promptly. He grinned faintly. "Since the Christians stole it from us, it's technically like celebrating Christmas a couple days early. And then we celebrate everyone else's holidays to promote equality and understanding, so I get more presents than anybody." He paused, frowning. "Except maybe Karone. Apparently the Winter Solstice Festival on KO-35 is a week and a half long."

She laughed. "So you're just taking advantage of everyone then?" she teased.

He gave her his best wide-eyed look. "Of course not! I'm just respecting living in a multi-cultural atmosphere."

"Uh huh. So what are you up to tonight?"

"Thought I'd spend Solstice Eve with Mike." He shrugged lightly. "It's been awhile."

"Then don't let us keep you," she said quickly, patting his shoulder. "You two have fun."

He waved a hand dismissively. "I'm not in a real rush."

She tilted her head with a grin. "In that case, would you mind sharing your carol with me, too?"

A broad grin split Leo's face, and he took a deep breath.

"Faunus the Roman Goat-God, had a very rigid prick! And if you ever saw it, you would say it's quite a trick! All the other deities, used to leer sugges - tively. They always wanted Faunus, to join in the revel - ry!"

Kendrix's eyes had gone wide, and her smile was slipping. Kai was backing away from them both, very slowly and very carefully. He was looking anywhere but at Leo.

Leo could care less as he launched into the second verse. "Then one frosty Sa - tur - nal, Juno made this call ... 'Faunus since you're hung so well, won't you ring my solstice bell?' Then all the others pouted, and they muttered jeal - ously ... 'Faunus the Roman goat-god, better save a turn for meeee!'"

He carried the note for far longer than was necessary, turning to observe Kendrix with a bright grin. "So? What did you think?"

Her jaw worked silently for several moments. "Are you pulling my leg?" she asked finally.

He blinked at her and frowned. "No. I've been singing that carol since I was twelve. Mike was pissed when he first heard." He smiled fondly at the memory. His brother had tried for so long to keep him innocent ... What a waste.

Kendrix swallowed. "Oh."

There was another awkward pause, and at last she forced a smile. "Well, I ... I shouldn't keep you from your celebration. H - have fun."

"You, too. Happy Solstice!" he called as he resumed his trek towards his brother's hut.

"Happy Solstice, Leo," she returned weakly.

He managed to keep his laughter in until he was almost to Mike's door, at last doubling over to clutch his stomach as he laughed himself sick. The looks on their faces ... priceless. Absolutely priceless.

"Should I be worried?" a familiar voice drawled, sounding amused.

He looked up with a grin, still chuckling as he wiped the tears from his eyes. "Hey, Mike," he choked out. "Just ... Kai. Kendrix." He waved a hand vaguely. "Priceless."

"I'll take your word for it," Mike told him, leaning against the doorframe to the grass hut the Mirinoians had built for him. "Did you need something?"

He straightened, suddenly uncomfortable. "I, uh. I was ... sort of hoping to spend Solstice Eve with you," he muttered.

" ... Really?" Mike frowned. "Not that you're not welcome to, but you haven't wanted to celebrate Solstice in years."

"Yeah, well ... " He shrugged, swallowing as his mouth was suddenly dry. "Look, can we uh ... Maybe talk about this inside?"


Mike moved aside to let him in, shooting him the concerned big brother look he did so well. Leo tried not to sigh at it. He was getting better, but there were still times when Mike's mothering was so suffocating he wanted to scream.

As he always did, Mike had only decorated inside - his own quite way of celebrating without wanting to offend anyone. Not that they really would have noticed much of a difference exactly, although they may have been confused. In one corner of the hut was a small potted tree - live, because they'd both always hated the artificial ones, and potted because Mike said that Mom had always wanted to be able to return the tree after it joined their celebration. There weren't many decorations on it: just some paper snowflakes and stars Mike had probably made, some ribbon, and a couple of bells that looked like he'd gotten the village metalworker to make for him. A candelabra stood on a small table off to one side, and a group of small, unlit candles rested on another. Branches and local herbs hung all over the place, even -

"They actually have mistletoe on this planet?" he asked as he glanced above his head in the doorway.

"Sort of. The leaves are a little softer, but it looks the same," Mike answered, already moving to set out another pillow on the floor across from the one he'd already set by the group of isolated candles. "Maya helped me with the herbs. There's a lot of interesting plant life here."

Leo took a deep breath as he finally let the door shut behind him, savoring the smell of all the fresh greenery.

It smelled like home.

"It's nice," he said at last, looking up at the large yellow globe hanging from the ceiling with several five-pointed stars around it. "This is different."

Mike shrugged a little, giving him a wan smile. "Mom did it the last year," he said softly. "I wasn't tall enough for awhile, and then I just .... couldn't."

Leo swallowed, forcing himself to nod as he tried not to bite his lip. Mike had said he understood before, when he'd finally forced himself to explain everything about why he'd acted the way he had for so long, but ... "Do you ever blame me? For Mom's death?" he heard himself ask, his voice barely a whisper.

"What?" Mike was in front of him before he had the chance to blink, his incredulous look quickly giving way to anger. "How could you even - " He cut himself off abruptly, taking a deep breath. "Leo," he said at last, keeping his voice soft as his eyes searched his brother's. "It was an accident. It had nothing to do with you, no matter what Michael made you think."

He looked away, shrugging as his eyes burned. "She'd probably have made it if she wasn't pregnant."

He found himself pulled against Mike's chest, squeezed tightly as a chin rested on his shoulder. There was a long silence as they stayed like that, Mike apparently searching for the right thing to say and Leo closing his eyes as he appreciated the smell of the herbs and the feeling of his brother's arms around him.

"She celebrated life, Leo," Mike said at last, barely a whisper in his ear. "That's how she lived. No matter how she died, Mom celebrates every day that you're alive. A stupid car accident wouldn't have changed that."

Leo just nodded, swallowing hard. It was hard to believe that he could be forgiven by a woman he'd never met. "You still believe she's watching over us?"

"I know she is," Mike said firmly. "And I know she couldn't be any prouder of you than I am."

He smiled a little, finally pulling free and pushing away the feeling of melancholy that had settled over him. They were supposed to be celebrating the season and being together again, not dealing with his issues. "I have a surprise," he announced abruptly.

Mike eyed him warily, apparently willing to let it go for now. "What is it?"

"Close your eyes," Leo prompted. He rolled his own when Mike hesitated. "It's nothing bad, I promise. Just close your eyes."

Hesitantly, Mike complied.

He fought with the wrapping for a moment, scowling as it wouldn't come away cleanly and picking at it with his fingernails. Eventually he managed to get a sizeable strip unwrapped, and quickly shoved it into his brother's mouth before Mike could stop him.

Mike's eyes shot open, his face lighting up slowly as realization dawned. "Candy Canes?" he asked, starting to grin.

"Fresh from the synthesizers," Leo told him cheerfully around his own candy. "They were making some for the kids, and I snagged a couple."

"Leo ... " Mike scolded, but the fact that he didn't get rid of it ruined the effect.

"I made sure they had plenty to go around before I did it," he retorted, knowing Mike wasn't really upset. Candy canes had been one of the treats they'd had in ready supply growing up, because it was easy to go to a dollar store and buy a couple boxes for them to share. While neither of them had exactly had the best childhood, it was one of their fonder memories.

"Grab a pillow," Mike offered, moving to sit on the ground. He sat carefully on the pillow itself, settling into a lotus position.

Leo on the other hand, dropped down casually and rolled onto his stomach to hug the pillow as he rested his chin on it. He grinned unrepentantly when Mike gave him a look. "What? You always said you're supposed to be comfortable when you meditate, and this is comfortable to me!"

"Because you're lazy," Mike retorted, reaching over to tussle his hair fondly and ignoring the face he made. He considered him for a moment as he unwrapped more of his candy cane, at last raising his eyebrows. "What did you really do to Kai and Kendrix?"

Leo grinned sheepishly. "I was just singing a carol ... "

Mike groaned. "Please tell me you were not walking around singing 'Faunus the Roman Goat-God' where people could hear you again."

"Kai was the only one who heard. And technically Kendrix asked me to sing it for her."


"What? If I honor their holidays, they should respect mine."

Mike gave him another look. "There's a difference between respecting our holiday and forcing them to listen to a vulgar song."

Leo shrugged, giving a lopsided smile. "Hey, she asked. And he just overheard. So." He batted his eyelashes up at his brother. "Coach me through it again? It's been awhile."

He received another fondly exasperated look, but at last Mike sighed. "On your back."

He grinned to himself as he rolled over and closed his eyes, folding his hands over his stomach. No matter how old he got, he still had Mike wrapped around his little finger.

Sort of.

There was a pause. "It feels like morphing," Mike said at last, his voice soft. "There's a warmth in your chest that starts as a small flame. The flame is growing, filling you up with light as it gets hotter and hotter. The light is expanding, moving outside of your body and all around you. It's blinding everything from your eyes."

As Mike spoke and the warmth he spoke of went through him, for a moment Leo honestly thought he'd find himself in red spandex any second. But his morpher was gone, his saber safely locked inside the stone outside the village. He was just Leo now. Nothing more, nothing less.

"In the light, you see a door starting to form. Go to the door, and let it open for you ... "

Mike's voice slowly began to drift away as he found himself approaching what looked like the door to his quarters on Terra Venture. It slid open before he could reach for it, and he walked through.

When he finally came out of his meditation again, it was dark. The isolated candles had been lit, casting a soft, warm glow around the room. Mike was still sitting up, now staring off into the distance.

Leo shifted a little, rolling back into his stomach and wincing. The one thing he disliked so much about meditation was the way it left him feeling stiff afterwards for sitting still so long. He'd never been very good at it, but it was worth the attempt.

He watched his brother for awhile, content with just observing as he did ... whatever he was doing. Mike never meditated with his eyes open, so it wasn't that. Whatever he was thinking on must be important.

Bright Lady, Gentle Lord, he prayed suddenly. Thank you. Thank you for giving me my brother back. Thank you for Kendrix, and Mirinoi, and our lives. But most of all ... thank you for giving me the chance to appreciate what I have.

Mike's eyes cleared suddenly, and he glanced down. "You didn't fall asleep," he remarked.

Leo stuck his tongue out at him. "Hey, I don't always fall asleep when I meditate."

"You do most of the time," Mike pointed out. He smiled. "So did you find inner peace?"

Leo shrugged. "My sanctuary's different."

Mike blinked. "Well, you have changed a lot this past year," he said after a moment. "Maybe that has something to do with it."

"Mmm." He moved before he could stop to think about what he was doing, resettling himself back on the floor with his head in Mike's lap. It was something else he hadn't done in years, and he wasn't entirely sure the gesture would be welcome. But somehow it just felt right.

There was a moment as Mike tensed in surprise, but he soon relaxed again. His fingers suddenly reached out to card their way through Leo's hair, and Leo closed his eyes in contentment. He had the insane urge to purr.

That's when Mike began to sing softly, in a low, rich tone.

"On this Winter hol - i - day, let us stop and recall, that this season is holy to one and to all. Unto some a Son is born, unto us comes a Sun. And we know, if they don't, that all paths are one. Share the light, share the light. Share the light, share the Light. All pa - aths are one on this holy night ..."

Mike's voice trailed off, and Leo let out a soft sigh. "What's your wellness pledge this year?" he murmured eventually.

"Dunno. Hadn't really thought about it yet. You?"

He hmmed. "Maya was talking about the village needing help with some of the children. Thought I might do that."

"Sounds like something you'd enjoy."

"Maybe you should get more involved with the locals, too. Learn more about the planet." He rolled his shoulders a bit and resettled. "Then you can teach the rest of us. That's always been your thing anyway."

"True. Maybe I will." But judging by the tone of his voice, Mike was already planning on it.

"I love you," Leo said abruptly. He kept his eyes closed, not wanting to see his brother's face. "I know I don't say it enough, but I do."

There was a long pause.

"I love you too, Sunshine," Mike murmured eventually. Something brushed lightly against Leo's forehead. "Always will."

Leo cracked an eye open irritably at the mention of his middle name. Mike was watching him with a soft expression, a hand still running over and through his hair. "Should I start calling you Baby Bird?" he muttered.

"If you want," Mike returned with a shrug. "I don't mind."

He made a face at him. "You don't mind now. Wait until I say that in front of Commander Stanton," he grumbled.

"I really wouldn't mind," Mike insisted. He gave another small shrug and a faint smile when Leo stared at him. "I always thought of it as my real name anyway." He paused, then grinned. "Mom did say once that she would have named me Taurus if I wasn't named after Michael."

Leo choked, and a snort escaped him before he could stop himself. "Are you sure she didn't have foresight?"

Mike looked thoughtful. "Honestly? No. Some of the things she said ... I used to wonder a little." He paused, giving another faint smile as his eyes grew distant. "When we used to stargaze together, and she'd teach me about the constellations, she said that she could see the bull behind me, giving me strength. And she said that one day I'd fly among the stars."

"Maybe she really did know," Leo murmured, frowning at the thought.

"She was an amazing woman - I wouldn't put it past her. Maya reminds me of her a lot."

He coughed, shooting his brother an amused look. "Maya does?"

Mike nodded. "Her connection with nature and the way she talks are a lot like Mom. She said she was flattered when I told her."

"You actually told her?"

"Why wouldn't I?"

Leo shook his head. "And I'm supposed to be the one who's bad with romance," he sighed, feeling bad for Maya. He knew there was nothing between her and Mike, but still. To have someone compare you to his mother? Even he knew better than that.

"You're dating Kai," Mike reminded him. "That says enough right there."

"No, that says I'm a masochist. And don't you dare tell Kai I ever said that."

Mike tilted his head back, laughing heartily. "Don't worry," he choked out. "I like you alive and in one piece."

They sat in silence for awhile, enjoying each others' company as they watched the sky slowly begin to lighten. Leo didn't bother to move from his older brother's lap, and Mike didn't seem inclined to make him. It gave Leo a sense of peace he hadn't had in a long time.

"We should light the Yule Log," Mike murmured eventually.

"Let's do it by the Quasar Sabers," Leo suggested abruptly. "They're pretty much the only protection spell this planet needs anyway."

"True." Mike glanced down at him. "You want to invite the team?"

"Kai will kill me for waking him up in the middle of the night," he retorted, but he was already getting up. "I'll have to get him in person."

"I'll find the girls and have them get Damon, then," Mike offered with a grin. "Maya's probably still awake, too."

"Meet you by the rock?"

"Meet you by the rock."

Surprisingly it took far less kissing and pleading to get Kai up and out of bed than Leo had expected. He was still cranky and had to be lead along to make sure he didn't stumble into anything. Although he looked better than Damon did when Maya dragged him along - at least his eyes were open.

"What's going on, guys?" Kendrix asked, trying to cover a yawn as she looked curious. She didn't look like she'd gone to bed yet, but she wasn't anywhere near as perky as Maya, who watched them with a smile.

Leo and Mike exchanged glances. "Well, we're gonna burn a Yule Log by the Quasar Sabers rock and watch the sunrise, and we thought we'd invite you guys along," Leo said at last.

Damon squinted, blinking blearily at them. "That's why you woke us up?" he croaked.

Mike nodded. "We wanted all of you to share Solstice with us."

Kendrix's curiosity melted into a warm smile, while Maya was already asking if there was anything she could do. Damon just sort of stared at them both, as if he couldn't really figure out of they were serious or not.

Kai glanced at Leo, studying him for a long moment. "Is this going to involve singing?" he asked warily.

Leo laughed. "You don't have to sing," he promised. "And I won't sing Faunus the Roman Goat-God. ... At least, not where you can hear me."

"Somehow I'm not reassured," Kai muttered, but he followed along as Leo and Mike led the way.

Leo grinned as he immediately took the front of the line, turning around to watch his friends as they trailed after him. Maya seemed as peacefully content as ever, pointing out plants to Mike and Kendrix as they walked. Kendrix wasn't listening quite as intently as Mike was, but her fingers were linked with Maya's, and her smile hadn't faded. She was the one leading Damon along as he let out another loud yawn, still waking up.

Kai was watching Leo, and when Leo tilted his head curiously, he just gave a slight shake in response. Leo wrinkled his nose at him, whirling back around just in time to leap over a log that had partially covered the path. Feeling surprisingly light and energized despite the fact that he hadn't slept yet, Leo abruptly burst into song again.

"Pagans sing ... are you listenin'? Altar's set... candles glist - en. It's a Magickal night ... we're having tonight ... dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland ... "

Mike laughed as Kendrix, Kai, and Damon eyed him warily, and joined in. "In a Circle, we can light a Yule Fi - ire, and await the rising of the Sun ... It's the Great Wheel turning for the new year ... loaded with abundance and great fun!"

"That sounds lovely," Maya spoke up as they both paused for breath. "Would you teach it to me?"

"Of course," Mike promised her, smiling warmly.

"Are you sure that's really a Pagan Carol?" Kai asked skeptically. "It sounds like someone just changed the lyrics to Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland to me."

Leo put his hands on his hips, scowling at him. "Hey, if other people can steal our holiday, we can steal their songs."

"We can sing something else then," Mike placated. "What about Deck the Halls?"

"That's Pagan?" Damon wondered sleepily, rubbing at his eyes as he finally seemed to be becoming more coherent.

"It doesn't have any mentions of Christmas," Leo reminded him. He resumed walking, belting out at the top of his lungs for everyone to hear. "Deck the halls with boughs of hol - ly!"

The rest of the group joined in after him, even Maya, who had learned a few Christmas Carols during her time on Terra Venture. They weren't exactly the best group of carolers Mirinoi would probably ever hear, but most of them were enthusiastic enough to make up for it. And Leo could sing loud enough to drown out Kai and Damon if he needed to - even if he was slightly tone deaf.

The rock holding the Quasar Sabers was mostly untouched, and Leo found himself reaching out to touch the Red Saber instinctively. He stopped himself just in time, lowering his hand to the rock itself instead. It seemed to glow warmly at his touch, and he smiled.

Inspiration stuck suddenly, and he found himself murmuring under his breath. "Swords of life, gift of light. Birth to death and death to birth. Keep all evil far away, day to night, and night to day."

It wasn't quite perfect; life and light didn't really rhyme. And technically he was just changing the first line of a classic protection chant Mike had taught him when they were kids. But he thought he should get points for making it up on the spot.

A hand touched his shoulder as he could have sworn the rock warmed under his hand again, and he glanced back at Mike. His brother didn't say anything, reaching around to place his hand on top of Leo's. There was a moment of just the two of them standing there, and suddenly Kai was at his right, one hand against the stone. Maya moved to his far left, dragging Damon with her as Kendrix moved to Kai's other side.

Leo closed his eyes, feeling the warmth and power thrumming under his fingertips. "So mote it be," he said softly.

A burst of energy ran through him, and six of them stumbled back in surprise.

"What was that?" Damon gasped, eyes wide.

"The Quasar Sabers heard Leo's request to protect us all," Maya said softly, her eyes lighting up as she beamed at them. "They responded."

"That was ... weird," Kai muttered, rubbing his stomach with a frown.

Leo shrugged, eyeing the Red Saber again. "I thought it was kinda cool."

"You would," Kai grumbled, bumping his shoulder lightly.

Leo retaliated by throwing an arm around him as Mike began to set up a circle of stones for the log they'd brought with them. "I love you too, Kai," he said brightly, ignoring the dark glare he got in return. He paused, thinking. "You're already mad at me, right?"

"Why? What are you thinking?" Kai asked, looking him warily.

Throwing caution to the wind, Leo grabbed the front of Kai's shirt, yanked him close, and kissed him in front of the entire team. He kept him there, intent on mapping out the inside of Kai's mouth with his tongue. If he was going to be diced up into little tiny pieces for PDA, it was damn well going to be worth it.

Kai was wheezing when he finally let him go, and Leo was a bit breathless himself. He managed a grin. "So will you be my Solstice present?"

He was expecting to be hit, but that didn't stop him from ducking. He scrambled to hide behind Mike. "Save me!" he pleaded, clinging to the back of his brother's jacket.

Mike shook his head with a sigh. "You really need to stop pushing people's boundaries, Leo."

He gave him his best big-eyed look. "You said you like me alive and in one piece."

"I do. But I also know you asked for that," Mike retorted, absently reaching back to ruffle his hair. "You wanna light the Yule Log? It's your element."

Leo brightened. "Really? Sure!" Forgetting momentarily about Kai's fury, he scrambled around to Mike's other side, grabbing for the matches they'd brought along.

"Uh oh. Leo's got fire - everyone duck," Damon commented.

Leo absently gave him the finger, ducking Mike's swat for doing so. He struck the match, and carefully dropped it onto one of the drier parts of the log, on one of the plants he'd have to ask Maya later to identify for him. There was a long pause as they waited for the smoke to make itself known, and eventually the flames began to grow.

"The Wheel has turned once more, and the planet has gone to sleep," Mike spoke up. Leo watched him out of the corner of his eye as the other four looked at him in surprise. "The leaves are gone, the crops have returned to the ground. On this darkest of nights, we celebrate the light. Tomorrow, the sun will return, its journey continuing as it always does. Welcome back, warmth. Welcome back, light. Welcome back, life."

There was a moment of silence before he nudged Leo. Leo blinked, started as his eyes widened in realization, and elbowed Kai to move over. It took a few moments for the others to catch on, but eventually they managed to walk in a clockwise circle, stopping only when Mike and Leo did as they reached their original places.

It had been awhile, but the words of his part came to Leo almost on instinct. "Shadows go away, darkness is no more, as the light of the sun comes back to us. Warm the - " He paused, mentally scrambling. "Um, warm the planet. Warm the ground. Warm the sky. Warm ... warm our hearts. Welcome .... welcome back, sun!"

"I'm thankful to have this family," Mike said softly, his eyes moving over each of them. "To have so many people I can trust, that I can trust with my little brother. That means more to me than I could ever say."

"I'm thankful to have my home restored," Maya said after a pause. "And to celebrate with you all."

Kendrix squeezed her hand. "I'm thankful to be here, that I was able to come back."

"I'm thankful Kai kidnapped the Astro Megaship," Damon announced, grinning at his words. "Even if y'all are crazy."

Everyone laughed softly in appreciation.

"I'm thankful for stowaways," Kai murmured, and Leo felt his hand own hand subtly squeezed.

Leo was quiet for a moment. At last he took a deep breath. "I'm glad to have answered prayers, even if they weren't answered in the way I expected."

He nudged Kai slightly, but kept hold of his hand as they moved around the fire again.

When they returned to their places, everyone slowly moved to sit down, watching the flames as the herbs Mike had used gave a light scent to the air. After a moment of hesitation, Leo finally leaned over on Mike's shoulder, his hand still holding fast to Kai's. A few moments passed, and finally he felt Kai move closer, one thumb rubbing the back of his hand.

"Be it Cha - nukah or Yule, Christmas time or Solstice night, all cele - brate the eternal light," Mike sang softly, one hand coming up to stoke Leo's hair again. "Lighted tree or burning logs ... Or eight candle flames. All gods are one god, whatever their names ... "