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

Timeframe: Post Brother's Keeper

Need

Scott had been lurking around the Garage lately. He knew he was lurking because Ziggy had brought it up.

"So, is the lurking supposed to instill confidence in us or something, fearless leader?" he asked as they enjoyed Flynn's post-battle smoothies.

"What lurking?" Scott asked, pulling his eyes away from the lab.

"You're lurking," Ziggy said, then looked to the others for support. "He's been lurking lately, am I right?"

Scott looked to Flynn who averted his eyes uncomfortably. "Well, you kind of have. You're always here, just sort of skulking."

Summer added, "The last time you left was to see the Colonel. Did something happen?"

Scott looked back to the lab doors. "Nothing," he muttered, and stalked up the stairs.

And so he was lurking. He was allowed to lurk. If the leader of the Power Rangers wanted to lurk he was allowed to! But that didn't mean he was going to give his team the satisfaction of seeing him do it.

He didn't come down for dinner and no one asked him to. When the other Rangers went to bed and the Garage finally faded into silence he ventured out. He put his car in neutral and coasted it out of the Garage. When he was far enough away from the building he started it up and drove through Corinth.

No one in the city drove at night unless their business necessitated it so he had the streets to himself. As he neared the edge of the dome he glanced at the sky. The stars never looked quite right under the dome. Part of their twinkle was gone and they seemed like nothing more than drawings of constellations in textbooks.

Just short of the wall he stopped the car and slowly got out. There was no gate here, only the thick, grey wall, separating him from the outside world. He reached out to touch the cold metal, closing his eyes and letting the feeling seep into his skin. Once there had been flowers and birds and a clear, blue sky that seemed to go on forever -- all outside this wall, but now there was only death. The death of the entire human race was waiting on the other side and if this wall ever fell …

He opened his eyes and realized that he was pushing the wall with all his might, as if he were the boy in the story, saving the town from a flood. He let out a harsh laugh and fell back against the wall, sliding to the ground. He'd always hated that story.

He'd lied to Summer before. Something did happen when he went to see his father. They talked, but that wasn't the something he'd hoped for.

"Did you know?" Scott asked, not bothering to wait to be acknowledged.

Colonel Truman glanced up from his work, saw the look on his son's face, then motioned his subordinates to leave the room. When they were alone he stood, lacing his fingers behind his back and looking down on Scott with that "I'm a Colonel and don't you forget it" look on his face.

"She told you, did she?" he asked mildly.

Scott whirled, a sound of disgust ripping from his throat. He paced the floor.

"She destroyed the world," he ground out. "And you just let her in the city, gave her access to our entire system, gave her charge of our most valuable defense!"

"No," Truman said levelly, "she came to me. She offered me Project Ranger, showed me what she'd done so far. I knew there was a reason she was so determined to head it up herself, to hide herself behind that computer mask and I knew it had to be something bigger than just losing everyone. When she told me she was part of Alphabet Soup I knew it was very bad. Nothing that has ever come out of that place has been good."

Scott shook his head, biting back the urge to point out that K had come out of Alphabet Soup.

"It didn't take me long to figure it out," Truman continued. "I saw a few of her notes, and some of the things she said … it added up."

"And you trust her?" Scott asked.

Truman's expression changed, suddenly becoming more closed off than it had been. "I believe we've already had this discussion, son. And I will tell you exactly what I told you last time. Deal. Whatever your issue is, you get over it because this team needs you, this world needs you. So you do whatever it takes to put aside your feelings and get this job done."

Scott banged his head on the wall.

"Whatever it takes, huh?" he muttered and pulled out his morpher. "K?" he asked, leaning his head back so he could see the city against the textbook stars. "I know you're there. You're always there," he added quietly.

"Yes, Operator Series Red? Do you need assistance?" Her tone was formal, as if he were a stranger she'd met on the street and didn't care to know any better.

"We need to talk," he said, pulling his legs in and sitting crisscross, the way he had in elementary school.

There was a moment of silence, then, "About?"

"I trusted you," he said. "Even when you were just a letter on a screen I trusted you."

"Ranger--"

"No," he said, "let me get this out. I trusted you because you were our only hope. You were our only chance of stopping Venjix. And when Dillon came and Ziggy became a Ranger, it was okay because there was still you. And I didn't care when you turned out to be some girl. But now …"

Quietly, she said, "I cannot undo what I have done, Ranger Red. But I will do my best to preserve what is left."

"I know, and I know you didn't mean to do this. I don't want to know your reasons, not yet. But I want you to know, I need you. This world needs you. I can't lead the team without you at my back and I promise you, I'll always have yours."


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