Brothers Always Know
As he entered the hotel room, Blake was tempted to shade his eyes against the brightness. Everything was white, bright white: the carpet, the walls, the bedding, the curtains, the furniture. The only splash of colour was a painting displaying a country scene with a disturbing amount of pink. Matching just as perfectly in style, every piece was very carefully placed and incredibly clean. It all managed to establish exactly the opposite of the homely environment it was trying to create.
The former ranger stood still a moment his dark navy bag left dangling from his fingers as he felt oddly apprehensive to ruin the pristine cleanliness. Then he remembered it was just a hotel room and he wasn't even paying for it. He tossed the duffle bag onto the floor and went into the bathroom to have a shower with towels he was absolutely certain would also be white.
Later, as he lay on the bed gazing at the white ceiling, he had to admit it wasn't bad for a hotel room. The bed was comfortable, he wasn't sharing the room with anyone, there were no loud parties going on next door and the cleanliness was definitely better than the last place he'd stayed which hadn't had such an emphasis on hygiene. Factory Pro he may be now, but Factory Blue certainly was up to shelling out for five star hotels for every race. And after only a week with them, he was already starting to get used to this type of accommodation.
Several hours later, he was well acquainted with the ceiling and ready to take back his opinion about the bed. He shifted his position for the millionth time but the new one failed once more to bring the peace of sleep. So, he threw his pillow across the room and turned on the light. Rubbing his sore eyes, his sight fell on the duffle bag beside the bed. He reached over and dragged it to him digging through his haphazardly stuffed belongings until his hand wrapped around the familiar form of his cell phone. Flipping it open, his fingers automatically accessed the address book scrolling through the names until a particular one was highlighted. He stared at it for a few minutes before shaking his head and placing the phone on the bedside table.
But after a couple more minutes of mind numbing ceiling gazing, he gave in, grabbed the phone and quickly dialed. It took six rings but he was finally answered by a familiar sleep ridden voice saying, "This better be good."
"Blake? Do you realize what time it is? It's…" There was a rustling sound and Blake could imagine his crimson brother digging through the junk piled beside his bed for the alarm clock. "It's 2:37 in the morning."
"Actually, it's 3:37. I'm one time zone over."
"And that's better because…?" A yawn came over the line. "So, you'd better be dying or I'll happily beat the crap out of you next time I see you."
"You can try," taunted the former navy ranger. "But nah, I'm fine, just lying here counting the ceiling tiles. Well, I would be if this ceiling actually had tiles."
"Uh huh," was the insinuating reply. "So how's life as a factory pro?"
"It's fine. I mean it's good, great, amazing."
"Yeah, I'm getting training from people who really know their stuff, so I'm getting lots of good tips. My speeds already improved."
"Which is good because the competition is a bit tougher than at home. I mean it's all pros here so I'm not exactly number one anymore."
"But I'm meeting lots of new people. Some are nicer than others, but it's cool. And I'm seeing all these new places. We even get to do the tourist thing once and awhile when we're not too busy which is amazing because you know we never really got to do much traveling when we were at the academy, not that I don't miss the academy it's just…"
Blake patiently waited for more but there was nothing but a silent pause on the line. "Well, um…"
"Hang on a moment, bro," Hunter broke in. "I'll call you right back." And he hung up.
The former ranger actually spent an entire minute staring wide eyed at his silent phone before finally putting it down. He stared at the ceiling again, then tried the walls, even tried the painting of the countryside before giving up and glaring at the phone once more. Eventually, it rang. He grabbed it.
"What took so long?"
"Hey, sexy. What're you wearing?"
The voice was familiar. The sultry tone was not.
"T… T… Tori?" Blake stammered.
A giggle came over the line that was obviously not that of the former blue ranger.
"Okay, who is this?"
"Dude, your voice…"
"Dustin? What are you..?" Blake was beginning to get a bit pissed.
"That was hilarious, Tor."
"You guys just couldn't keep quiet. Now I'll never know what he's wearing."
"Trust me. It's not that interesting.
"Hunter? Okay, what's going on here?"
"Obviously another inane idea cooked up by your idiot of an older brother."
"Yeah, well, he's the only one who actually knew how to set up a conference call."
"I can't believe how techno blind you guys still are."
"Hey, part time mechanic here!"
"There's a difference between mechanics and real technology, Dustin. You can't even set your VCR."
"Then why are you always asking me to record Stargate for you."
"Well, I… I just figured since you'd be watching it anyway…"
"Blake, I'm sorry about the trick we pulled," Tori interrupted.
"No, don't apologize," insisted Shane. "He deserved it. Disrupting our beauty sleep like this."
"Well, some of us were getting beauty sleep. And some of us were watching the Midnight Monster Madness Marathon!"
"Damn, that was tonight?" Shane exclaimed.
"Don't worry, dude. I've been recording it for you," said Dustin. "See, Cam. I can use a VCR."
"Ooo, you managed to hit the little button marked 'Record'."
"Come on, Cam. It's not like you were sleeping either," put in Hunter.
"Let me guess," Tori mused. "You were up late coding again."
"Hey, there's more to my life than coding."
"Yeah," said Dustin. "There's being a ninja."
"And coding," said Shane.
"Teaching other people to be ninjas," said Tori.
"And coding," added Hunter.
"Fighting evil ninjas," Blake joined in.
"And coding," they finished in unison.
"I have a personal life!!" cried Cam.
There was a pause.
"Bro, I really don't want to know," declared Shane.
A very exasperated sigh came over the joined lines.
"So, you get a birthday present for your dad yet, because I totally think you should go with my idea."
"Dustin, I am not buying my father a guinea pig."
"Hey, that's not such a bad idea." Blake considered. "I mean you must have that guinea pig habitat and food leftover."
"Habitat, yes. Food, no," replied Cam. "Dustin ate it all."
"Ah, ha!" exclaimed Shane. "The real reason Dustin wants you to buy a guinea pig comes out."
"Maybe we should be buying Dustin a guinea pig for his birthday," Hunter pointed out.
"No, don't," said Tori. "The poor thing will starve to death."
"Very funny, guys."
"Anyway, I probably won't even get my dad a gift," said Cam. "I hope to just have a nice, quiet party, as long as the Clones don't ruin it all."
"The Clones?" queried Blake.
"There's these three new students," explained Tori, "that Cam seems to believe are evil clones of Shane, Dustin and me."
"They look like you. They're the same elements as you. They're always late like you. They're always getting into trouble like you. They're all into extreme sports like you."
"But they've got the sports all mixed up. Eric is into surfing, Sasha is into skateboarding and Drew is into motocross," Dustin put in.
"Close enough," insisted Cam.
"Hey, I hear Eric has a twin brother," said Shane. "Maybe we should invite him to join."
"No." They could feel the force of Cam's glare even through the phone line. "It's hard enough maintaining discipline with those three around. And it's not like you help."
"Hey, we teach discipline."
"Like the students can take their sensei seriously when he skateboards around the dojo all the time."
"Not all the time," protested Shane. "Besides your dad doesn't mind."
"You've been a bad influence on him. But if that wasn't bad enough, why did you have to start teaching your students how to skateboard too?"
"It's good for learning balance. Anyway, you let Tori take her students on that disastrous surfing trip."
"We were getting in touch with our element. How was I supposed to know some of them couldn't swim?"
"Then why did Dustin and his students get to go."
"We were getting to know our element too," explained Dustin. "We built sandcastles."
"Okay, if they get to do that, I'm taking my students on a skydiving trip."
"Hey, skydiving! You know I've always thought my students needed to get better acquainted with the water in the atmosphere."
"And you know the best place to see earth is from up above."
"No, no, no. You are not taking them on a skydiving field trip."
"Hmm… Now that you mention it. Since thunder and lightning come from the sky…"
"And you're being a bad influence on Hunter too."
Tori snorted. "Like Hunter's the perfect teacher."
"Hey!" Hunter protested.
"I heard Sensei Omino talking to Sensei Watanabe. Something about him blasting one of his students."
"Hah!" exclaimed Blake. "I knew you couldn't resist using your students for target practice."
"It wasn't target practice. It was a demonstration."
"Sure it was, bro. Just like that incident with the melons, the pigeon and the fountain.
"Ooo, I haven't heard that one," said Dustin.
"And you're not hearing it now," Hunter insisted.
A round of 'aww's sounded.
"Pretty please with Cocoa Puffs on top?"
"Well, it all started when Hunter…" Blake began.
"Don't you dare."
"We need to appease the masses, bro. As I was saying…"
"You do and I'll tell them about the time you fried all the electrical systems in the academy."
"Heard it," chorused the wind rangers.
"What about the time Blake broke sensei's favorite katana?"
"What about the time he got stuck in…?"
"Damn. I need more blackmail material."
"Your loss, bro." Blake chuckled and continued the story. "What happened was Hunter here wanted show off his shooting skills. Being Hunter, he thought the best way to do this was while riding his bike and firing at melons we'd conveniently set up on poles."
"Really…" commented Tori.
"So, he set off and he actually managed to hit all the melons. Unfortunately, what he didn't count on was the pigeon that flew right in his path."
"And of course, Hunter didn't want to hit the poor bird, so he swerved, but he wasn't paying attention to where he was headed and drove right into the fountain in front of the temple."
"I take it he got a bit wet," remarked Shane the grin evident in his voice.
"Soaking," replied Blake. "And to this day, the concrete of the fountain still bears the large crack where he slammed into it."
"Dude, I have got to try that."
Cam berated Dustin. "Don't you dare!"
"Aww, but the students *yawn* would love it."
"The last thing we need is more damage to the academy. Do you have any idea how much it cost to rebuild?"
"Is that a rhetorical question?" asked Dustin his last word broken by another yawn.
"Oh, sounds like it's beddy-bye time for Dustin," teased Shane.
"But I still have to see if the daughter of Dracula *yawn* marries the Wolfman's uncle's second cousin's roommate."
"You can watch it tomorrow," said Tori with a yawn of her own. "Now, you've got me doing it."
"Oh, no," Shane said yawning too. "It's the dreaded, contagious yawn."
"Or maybe it's just time we all got some sleep," declared Cam. "Some of us have classes to teach tomorrow."
Dustin sighed. "I suppose your right. Well, keep in touch, bro."
"And let us know when you have a race close by so we can come cheer you on," added Shane.
A pair of clicks indicated the departure of the former red and yellow rangers.
"Take care of yourself," Cam said then he was gone too.
"It was great to hear from you," said Tori. "Even at three in the morning."
"Well, I guess I just missed you guys."
"I know the feeling," she replied. "Bye, Blake."
After she hung up, Hunter addressed his brother. "Think you can sleep now?"
"Definitely," replied the former navy ranger with a yawn. "And thanks, bro."
"Hey, what are brothers for. But next time…"
"I know. I know. Next time I'll try to not to call in the middle of the night. See ya, bro."
Placing his cell phone on the table by his bed, Blake lay down and with a smile on his face, drifted off into sleep.