Rating: Um… pg-13, just for some kinda serious adult stuff being discussed. And swearing. These are teenagers, after all.
Summary: Trent has issues. The guys sort him out – whether he likes it or not.
Notes: Set some time after Tommy is brought out of the amber, and before Anton's secret is revealed. It takes place in the same universe as another fic of mine, 'A Small Problem' wherein Trent is staying at Tommy's house for the duration of his dad's Mesagog problem, but you don't need to read that to understand this.
Hayley regarded the painting with unabashed admiration as Trent hung it on the Cyberspace wall. Trent shrugged sheepishly and stepped down off the ladder.
"Oh no, it's talent. That's not nothing."
Trent blushed, but truth to tell, he enjoyed Hayley's enthusiasm. She was the only member of the team who'd been truly welcoming - possibly because she was the only one he hadn't tried to kill at one point or another.
As he went to put the ladder away, he bumped into a girl.
"Sorry," he said automatically.
She didn't answer, too busy staring at the painting of the white ranger. He hoped she wasn't a fan. That would be way too embarrassing.
"Seriously, Trent," Hayley was saying. "You should apply for arts school."
"My dad would love that." He took the ladder into the store room. When he came out, Hayley was waiting at the counter with a freshly squeezed orange juice.
"So are you going to tell me what's bothering you?" She said, putting the glass down in front of him. "Or am I going to have to resort to torture?"
He sighed. Trust Hayley to see past his facade.
"It's just – the others. I know after everything I did, it's still hard for them to trust me, and it should be. But…" He shrugged. There was a clear divide in the team. Like a cracked coin, an invisible fissure ran down the middle, dividing the team into 'them' and 'him'. The heart of the team was Conner, Kira and Ethan. They were the team. He - and to a lesser extent, Dr O - were adjuncts. Useful additions but ultimately unnecessary.
Trent wondered what it would have been like if he'd joined up at the begginning. He entertained a brief, futile fantasy of a world where Kira didn't hesitate to hold his hand, and Conner and Ethan didn't treat him with wary watchfulness. With a pang, he abandoned the dream. His father would say there was no point in dwelling on 'what ifs' and he had a point. Trent had made his bed, and now he had to lie in it.
Hayley was studying him thoughtfully.
"Have you thought that maybe it's not them?" She said.
"Well, it can't be easy to trust them either, after fighting them for months. Not to mention trusting yourself not to go evil again. I'd say you have a lot of trust issues right here."
Trent took a sip of orange juice.
"I guess, but – "
"Excuse me," a voice interrupted. "Are you in charge?"
Trent and Hayley turned. It was the girl from before, who'd been looking at the pictures. She was unconsciously wringing her hands.
"Yes. I'm Hayley. How can I help you?"
"I, uh…I don't mean to be rude." The girl's fair skin was slowly turning red in either embarrassment or agitation. "But I think you should take down the ranger drawings."
"What?" Trent was startled and hurt. "But the power rangers are heroes! They defend the city!"
"I've got nothing against the red, yellow and blue rangers," the girl said quickly. "Or the black ranger. It's just the white…the white one…"
She visibly struggled to speak for a moment.
"My sister died a few months ago," she said abruptly.
Taken aback by the sudden change in direction, Trent tried to keep up.
"It's just…" She blinked rapidly. "It was him. The white ranger. One of the times when he attacked the other rangers, my sister's car was parked in the same street, and…"
She took a deep breath and spoke very carefully.
"I just don't think you should hang up a picture of the white ranger, as if he's some kind of hero."
Trent stared at her. He felt as if the whole world was crumbling around him, and he'd only just noticed.
Hayley was speaking.
"…the rangers issued a statement that the white ranger was under the influence of a powerful mind control agent…"
"It's okay," Trent said, cutting her off. He'd never cut Hayley off before.
She turned to look at him. There was an urgent expression her face that he looked past, unable to look at.
"Trent, you don't have to – "
"It's my work. My decision." He made himself look at the girl. "I'll just take that picture down now."
He went to go get a chair. Behind him, he heard Hayley take charge, offering the girl a smoothie. Within ten minutes, she would have the girl pouring her heart out, he knew. And after that, she'd start on him.
He decided to get away before then.
He took the picture out back into the alley. He took it out of it's frame – it was Hayley's frame, and he didn't think she'd be very happy if he broke it – and tore the painting into halves, then quarters, then stuffed the quarters into the dumpster. He chucked garbage bags and old cardboard boxes on top. It didn't feel near deep enough.
The voice startled him. He turned to face the girl from before. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying but she looked a little bit more in control now.
"Your boss – Hayley's looking for you," she said. "She looks about ready to send out a search party."
Trent nodded, looking at the corner of the dumpster. He couldn't bring himself to look at the girl directly.
"Hayley's kind of protective."
"I'm sorry about your picture," the girl said after a moment. "You must have put a lot of effort into that."
"It's okay," he said. "My parents died a couple of years ago. I know how you feel."
"Does it ever get better?" She asked in a small voice.
"Yeah. Takes time, but you'll be okay. Oneday."
There was silence for a moment.
"I know why the rangers took him in," the girl said abruptly. No need to say who 'he' was.
"They're fighting a war. They can't afford to turn down any help." She looked up at the sky. "I get that, and I'm okay with it. It's just regular people that piss me off, acting like he's some great hero. Forgetting all the damage he did."
"But maybe…" Trent said timidly. "What if he's sorry about what he did?"
She turned blank eyes on him. There was no anger in her expression, only a terrible grief that shook him to the core because he knew from experience just how deep it could go.
"Sorry's not going to bring Samantha back."