Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers RPM. If I did would I be writing this? Actually I might, you never really know what people are like, do you?

Summary: OneShot! Set after "Prisoners" - Despite everything, Dillon finds himself caring enough to ask. Would she let him go to Hell or not? Surprisingly, it mattered.

Author's Note: Once again, I'm not sure whether I got the characters as they are in the show – feedback and criticism would be appreciated.

Because I Care

In retrospect Dillon should have really came to the realization sooner, as it was he came to it as he usually did – sitting in his car letting the monotonous tune that was trapped inside his pocket watch bring him to a state of calmness and clarity – and he couldn't help cursing his luck. He even briefly favoured the idea of slamming his fist into the car horn, that would most certainly get everybody's attention, but after thinking the idea through for only a fraction of a second – all he required to process a simple choice with set outcomes – he thought better of it. Dr. K was working and she would be pissed at him for momentarily diverting her from what she considered important – his emotional turmoil certainly wasn't ranked high on the list, and if she irked him any more than she already had, about the one thing she most likely had not calculated, he would undoubtedly try to end her existence – he wasn't sure he could take on six other Ranger Operators, especially Gem and Gemma, something he would end up doing if he threatened the good doctor.

That wasn't to say that releasing the VENJIX virus hadn't affected the lives of the other Ranger Operators, far from it, but as ludicrous as it seemed their lives had been ultimately changed for the better, even if some of them couldn't see it – refused to see it.

What had the release of the VENJIX virus brought him?

Nothing short of a nightmarish hell from which he could not escape.

The other Ranger Operators could argue against that - Summer most definitely would.

After all, he had no memory - how could he know for sure that he had ever had friends? Well, even if he hadn't he knew that he hadn't needed them. He knew the only person he had ever needed, would ever need, was his sister.

He could no longer remember her.

He could be the true apocalypse of this world, coding hidden underneath thousands upon thousands of other lines of coding could be compelling him to serve the sentient VENJIX virus - therefore having a more masterful understanding of what a Trojan Horse was than DR. K and the other Ranger Operators had originally anticipated?

Was this all just a twisted game which the VENJIX virus used to prove that it had now become greater than its creator? It would explain the occasional folly – it was often accidental fault, just a test to see if DR. K was prepared for the greatest move in this game of chess. Goading her to see if she could prevent the move that would claim victory – the Checkmate – whilst already knowing that the combating of such a skilfully executed move was impossible?

The VENJIX virus could have logically planned everything that had happened, as well as everything that would come to pass.

That however was something Dillon could not be sure of, but he was certain that the release of the VENJIX virus had brought him to hell and recent events dragged him further down – he would be the only one that truly suffered and everything the other Ranger Operators and their mentor did made him suffer more.

Dr. K had effectively made the Ranger Operators, Summer in particular; drag him out into the endless abyss of nothing that he'd been trapped in for at least six months – perhaps even a year. If he wanted he could confirm the length of time he was out in the wasteland – and then she had the audacity to scold him for his actions - Scott didn't help matters - and now she was saying they had to go back, even it was to stop the destruction of the city, Dr. K was one contradiction after another.

For all her logic, she was the most illogical member of the entire team.

Dr. K and VENJIX needed to pay dearly for what they, or it in the case of the virus, had done to him, and before he was dragged into Hell completely he was going to give it to them both full force.

He could start now he realized after the briefest of pauses, try his luck with Station 19 for a second time - at least he wouldn't have to clean his car this time around – Ziggy had not been able to maintain control over his bladder as they had escaped from Corinth using a way that could be seen to be more perilous than any VENJIX assault ever would be. At least he'd been sorry about that accident and offered to clean it up – and enter the VENJIX base guns blazing and go out in self righteous fury.

Yet he didn't –he just sat there. For the simple reason that he had grown used to having someone there as backup – he could take on everything VENJIX threw at him, but having someone else there – specifically Ziggy – just in case was....comforting.

He had no time to familiarize himself with the alien concept of comfort for his mind suddenly screamed at him a question, a question that surprised even him – for it was a question Dillon hadn't even known existed, let alone needed an answer.

Would Dr. K let him?

The absurdity of the question was so immense that it was instantly followed by one of Dillon's favourite unanswerable questions.

Why should he fucking care?

Yet, as he growled in frustration and ended the calming tune of expletives coming out of his mouth left and right he wanted Dr. K to let him go out into the desert, he wanted her to know. He wanted Summer to know.

He wanted them all to know, even the bizarre and completely unfathomable Gem and Gemma – they easily had Ziggy's quirkiness beat and that was without even trying – and he was absolutely sure he would never befriend them.

Despite everything he wanted everyone to know, and would at dawn, regardless of what they said, rush into the hands of the enemy and give it hell for all the torment it had caused him – locating his sister in the process. Once complete he would then take a leaf out of Gem and Gemma's book and blow up the whole place, and that he would do the entire thing alone.

Suicide his mind told him, yet he could no longer leave without saying goodbye. So, logic resigned itself to letting the rest of Dillon do just that – say goodbye – but came to the sensible conclusion that the only person he needed to bid farewell was Dr. K – Summer would understand, she would hate him for it, but she would understand.

Curse the both of them!

Why did Summer have to be Summer – and have a high school crush on him? Something he worked out extremely quickly. She'd dropped enough hints, and piecing together clues interwoven fragments of exchanges held between her and Dr. K was rather simple task. Having a computer processor for a brain was extremely useful and aggravating.

Why did Dr. K have to be so enigmatic and contradictory? Why did she have to interest him much? Why, knowing they both would feel strained and angered by the action, had she bloody hugged him? Why did he feel the sudden urge to protect her as he did Summer when he felt her fragile frame pressed against his?

Why did they both have to make him care?

"Dr. K, Summer," he muttered to himself eyes narrowing with hatred and annoyance, "I fucking hate the both of you!"

Once again internal argument between the newly developed "caring" side and the rest of his mind took arguments took place for an age before the caring side was reminded that telling Summer would not be fruitful to his mission, he would never manage to get out of the Garage without the entire team.

Dr. K was the only person that needed to know – he could not already calculate her answer.

Ziggy and Flynn would understand and Gem and Gemma wouldn't care though they might be upset that he was doing their job. Scott would outright hate his decision – he could do without the headache.

Releasing a long tired breath, Dillon got out of his car, slamming the door out of habit. Before walking towards the control room, casting his gaze up to the steal stairwell to check that no one had heard him he was momentarily surprised that upon his arrival that the doors slid open with their usual quiet hiss.

Dr. K never normally let people in the Control Room at night which meant that she not only had paid attention to the fact he was still awake, but also wanted to talk to him, otherwise the doors would have remained closed, and if she wanted the conversation then that could only mean one thing.

She already knew what he was going to say. Possibly even everything he'd just contemplated.

As he stepped into the Control Room his eyes flicked around the room, registering the fact that Dr. K was sitting at her usual seat staring unwaveringly at the computer screens in front of her, she didn't even acknowledge his presence. He also registered the sleeping forms of Gem and Gemma against the far wall, their bodies clumsily entangled with each other almost as if they'd dropped to sleep were they had been standing – perhaps they had.

Walking up behind Dr. K – analysing the schematics of the Doomsday Device, or the Whale Bomb as Gem and Gemma called it because of the fact that its outline and structure apparently looked similar to that of a whale. Dillon didn't see it himself, but he wasn't going to argue with two people that were very likely mental – he cleared his throat, once again due to habit, rather loudly.

Dr. K's right eye flickered momentarily aware from the screens, registering Dillon's exact location, before it focused once more on the screens.

"Ranger Operator Series Black," she responded, slight irritation evident in her tone as her left eye flickered to the sleeping twins, before she seemed to remember herself and back track slightly. There was momentary hesitation and difficulty as she rephrased her opening reprimand. "...Dillon...as little noise as possible would be preferable in this current situation – Gem and Gemma are asleep. A good working environment would continue to be maintained if that particular factor was kept constant."

"They irritate you," Dillon translated heeding her warning, the softness of her tone had still held an underlying threat that he wouldn't like the consequences of what would happen if he woke the two sleeping Ranger Operators.

"No," she responded, "we just have different approaches to our work."

"They do irate you, don't they?" Dillon couldn't help himself. He instantly noted the shift in Dr. K's tone when next she spoke, and smirked in satisfaction.

"That question is not relevant to why you are here, Dillon. Therefore, no clarification or answer on my part is required." A pause as she turned round on her chair, gazing up at him intently as he loomed over her. When she next spoke her tone was kinder "What do you want Dillon?"

"Why ask me a question when you already know the answer?" Dillon responded.

"In this situation, countering with the same question you just posed would be a simple procedure, but in executing said procedure the both of us would expand our energy resources in a futile attempt to best the other – doing so is also not required for your query to have a successful outcome."

"Can't you just answer me plainly for once?" Dillon growled, his eyes narrowing into an intense glare.

"You haven't asked a simple question as of yet that holds relevance," Dr. K replied her tone matter-of-fact as it normally was when explaining something that should be obvious. It infuriated Dillon to no end. He could tell what she was really saying, "Where would be the fun in that?" The possibility that she was actually enjoying the exchange was as absurd as the question he had come to ask. "Besides it is possible that the answer you believe I have for you and the answer I actually have are entirely different," Dr. K informed him.

Was that amusement shining in her eyes? Did her lip just twitch?

She was enjoying this and it made him want to strangle her.

"I'm really getting tired of you," Dillon hissed, aware that Dr. K had stood and their bodies were lightly touching. His hand gripped her arm tightly – he noted the briefest flashes of shock in Dr. K's eyes – the horror, the recoil. He could break her like glass he noted, if he chose to she didn't stand a chance. Yet he stood transfixed, captivated by the side of Dr. K he'd never seen before – the side she never let show but he'd always known she had – the frightened child, the real her, the one behind the mask.

The dropping of the mask lasted an instant.

"Kindly remove your hand," her voice was a level of coldness he had never heard before and he did so in an immediately.

Why did he have to care about people now? It was so much easier before.

"Yes," Dr. K responded to his unspoken statement. "It was."

"How do you do that?"

"That is not relevant to our discussion, Ranger Operator...Dillon." She informed him, her tone becoming gentle again and Dillon could easily detect the pain laced within her words. "Now, are you ready to ask your query? I need to work."

"What you need now is rest, the strain you put yourself under isn't good for you." Dillon replied softly, once more surprising himself that he'd actually admitted that fact, touching her hand on impulse as he did so. He regretted both things instantly and within half of a second had removed his hand, once more seeing the frightened child peeping out from behind her eyes.

"VENJIX must be destroyed! Nothing else matters!" She informed him sharply.

"Then why are you here having this conversation with me?" Dillon countered.

"Killing yourself would not help those that seek the downfall of VENJIX," Dr. K informed him simply. "I do not need more problems than I already have."

"So it's a "No" then." Dillon stated bitterness evident in his tone.

"You've never had to ask for anything before have you? That's why you can't do it now, isn't it?" Dr. K responded critically.

"I could say the same about you," Dillon responded.

"That has been noted, but it would just keep us going in a circular motion." Dr. K informed him.

Perhaps it was his frustration with the whole conversation, perhaps it was because he was finally ready to ask, and up until now he truly hadn't been. Whatever it was, he finally asked the question he had originally intended.

"Will you open the Dome, so I can go give VENJIX hell?"

"You won't," Dr. K informed him before sitting back down on her seat, swivelling the chair round and began typing once more.

"I thought you said you would answer me query, doc?" Dillon said.

"Answering your question really isn't needed. The Dome can only remain open with no one else begin alerted for the briefest of periods."

"You're letting me out?" Dillon asked surprised, slowly turning around and heading to the door. He was definitely going to head this piece of advice.

"As I have already calculated that you won't do as you intend it doesn't matter."

"Don't bet on it," Dillon responded before he walked out of the Control Room.

Silence took grasped the room, broken only by the humming the reverberated round the whole room. She'd battled him with logic, and also let him leave using logic. Or so he believed. In truth, she'd let him out because of kindness – the reappearance of Gem and Gemma had helped her reconnect with that part of herself – and Dillon had cared enough to let her know he was leaving this time.

She waited until she knew Dillon was gone – he managed to leave once without alerting the other Ranger Operators, she was sure he could do it again before her eyes flickered back to the forms of Gem and Gemma. "He has probably already realized you weren't actually asleep," she informed them. Within seconds they had untangled themselves from each other, and were looking at her. The child-like madness they processed staring happily at her. She smiled ever so slightly.

"Do you want us..." Gem began,

"...to follow him?" Gemma finished both of them in their usually enthusiastic manor.

"Of course," she responded. "He performs adequately – but I do not want him to die needlessly. Which he might do, I cannot predict whether or not VENJIX will attack him."

Enthusiastic responses were given before they rushed out of the room, and as the door shut Dr. K let relief wash over her. They had been kind enough to not comment on her previous statement and what it actually insinuated.

Dr. K was left pondering the true meaning of her statement and it mixed with fragments of the conversations she'd had with Summer to create a brand new question.

Did she actually care for Dillon?

"Just don't get yourself killed," she muttered to herself before turning back to her work and beginning to type once more.

She was well aware of the fact that Dillon was unlikely to come back – she wouldn't if the positions had been changed. She would have searched forever for Gem and Gemma if she hadn't been so sure of their death – she just had to believe the cold certainty with which she had informed him that he wouldn't carry out this suicide mission of his, and the fact he now cared for his teammates got the better of him.

She sighed, Dillon was right. She needed sleep.

Not yet, she just had one more thing to do – her hardest task ever.

Find the answer to a question.

How would she tell the others?