Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Power Rangers. It's not my toy box and I'm merely playing.

A/N: This would take place before "Trip Takes A Stand" as Eric is still blissfully unaware that Trip isn't from Earth. Also Xybrians have little tolerance for alcohol and a standard greeting/goodbye is a kiss on the mouth. So be forewarned, Trip is drunk in this one. The title is based off a line in the book River Rats 'The longest way round is the shortest way home.'

The Longest Way Round:

They weren't going to make it to the clock tower, Eric decided. No, they weren't because he was going to get frustrated with Trip and just leave him to try and find his own way. Eric scowled as Trip stumbled away from him, "If I leave you out here you're teammates will hunt me down and kill me."

Trip leaned back, head tilted towards the sky, "I can't see the stars."

"It's called light pollution," Eric explained. He suppressed the urge to ask if Trip had grown up in the country. They weren't his teammates, Eric told himself, he didn't need to try and get to know them. Even if they were teammates, he wouldn't be trying to get to know them, he reiterated for himself.

Trip responded by leaning back to look up at the streetlight. Eric moved over swiftly, he didn't rush, just moved quickly and pressed a hand to Trip's back to steady him. It wouldn't do to return Trip to his friends with a head injury.

Trip looked over at him and announced, "I think I've been drugged."

"You're drunk," Eric pointed out.

"Oh."

"Haven't you ever been drunk before?"

"No."

Eric crossed his arms and gave Trip a disbelieving look. Trip stumbled at his lack of support and Eric's hand shot out to steady him.

Eric stilled as Trip snuggled into his side and told him, "Xybrians are forbidden alcohol, we don't handle it very well."

"Xibria, is that where you're from?" Had he said that right?

"Yes," Trip told him. Their eyes met.

Confused, he'd never hear of that country before, Eric asked, "Where's it located?"

Trip pushed away from him and leaned back to look at the sky again. He tugged his hat down around his ears and frowned, "It's um…it's…"

Eric shook his head, "This could take all night."

"What?" Trip asked.

His eyes were wide. His smile was trusting and it lit him up from within. Eric felt himself drawn over. He tilted Trip's chin and looked him over. No wonder that guy had taken Trip out, he was…

"Why am I drunk?" Trip asked.

Eric blew out a frustrated breath, "Because that guy…"

"George, I helped him with his computer," Trip filled in.

"You helped him fix his computer and then what…left his house for a drink?"

"No, I fixed his computer yesterday. He asked me to meet him today. I thought maybe his computer wasn't fixed. Then he bought me a drink and was being really friendly," Trip explained.

"How many did you have?"

"Have? Drinks? Just that one," Trip told him cheerfully.

Eric's eyebrows arched, "It was only half gone."

"Hmmm?" Trip asked as he looked upwards again. He turned his gaze back onto Eric, "George got me drunk on purpose?"

"Apparently," Eric replied frustrated with their lack of mobility. He pulled Trip over to him, guided Trip's hand around his neck and then lifted him into his arms.

With his feet off the ground Trip's arms tightened around his neck. Eric waited till Trip's eyes settled on his own, "If you throw up on me I'm leaving you."

"Okay," Trip told him before resting his head on Eric's shoulder.

Finally progress. Now if Trip didn't start feeling too heavy maybe he could get him to the clock tower and avoid the wrath of Trip's teammates.

"Eric?"

"Yeah?"

Trip glanced up at him, "Why did George get me drunk?"

"He was trying to get into your pants," Eric explained. Shouldn't Trip know these things?

"Oh, but only Katie's allowed that."

Eric pressed his lips together, then glanced down. The look of indignation on Trip's face was too much. He laughed, tightening his grip on Trip in an attempt not to drop him. Carefully he set Trip on his feet and finished laughing.

Trip sat down, obviously waiting for him to finish, all the while looking at Eric with his head tilted and his face scrunched in confusion.

"Then why did you meet him in a gay bar?" Eric asked.

Trip blinked, obviously taking a moment to process the question. He lit up, beamed a smile at Eric and asked, "Is that why you pretended to be my boyfriend?"

"You're very angry, very possessive boyfriend," Eric nodded as he pulled Trip back to his feet, "Yeah, that's why I did that."

"Thanks."

Eric rolled his eyes as he lifted Trip back into his arms, "I did it so your teammates didn't hurt me."

"Still, thanks, and they wouldn't hurt you."

Eric resisted the urge to roll his eyes again as he grumbled, "I wouldn't be so sure about that."

"You should laugh more," Trip told him, running a finger along his jaw. Eric twitched at the intimate touch. Trip snuggled down against his shoulder with a sigh, "It's a nice sound."

Eric grunted and shook his head. Could Trip get any more annoying?

"You should, it's a nice sound. You should smile more."

"I don't want to," Eric bit out.

Trip considered him for a moment before he said, "But you look nice when you smile. I don't like seeing teammates sad."

"I'm not your teammate," Eric told him as they finally arrived at the clock tower. He frowned as he considered putting Trip down to knock and was slightly surprised when he realized he didn't want to. Frowning Eric put Trip on his feet.

They stared at each other, barely a breath apart before Trip said, "You are."

Trip turned and knocked on the door.

"Look Trip, I…" Eric started, but was cut off as Trip moved in and kissed him. Eric gasped as Trip quickly took control of the kiss and pulled him closer.

The door opened.

Trip pulled away, "Wes!"

The Trip was kissing Wes, who just hugged him close and accepted it. Eric frowned confused, what had just happened? What was happening?

"What did you do to him?" Katie asked.

"He saved me," Trip said gravely as he pulled away from Wes. He tilted his head and smiled at Katie, "Hi."

Then he was kissing Katie. Wes was laughing and Eric still felt confused.

"Well, there he is, safe and sound," Eric said slowly as he began to back away, "You should really keep a better eye on him."

Katie began looking Trip over, obviously worried.

"Are you drunk?" Wes asked.

"I thought George had a problem with his computer again so I met him and he got me drunk," Trip announced, "but Eric got him to go away and brought me home."

"Thank you," Katie said, pulling Trip close.

" I'm okay," Trip said as he snuggled in.

Katie rolled her eyes, lifted Trip up and disappeared with him. Eric frowned, finding himself staring at Wes, his ex, his first love. How could they be teammates? It still didn't make sense to him.

"Thanks," Wes smiled.

"Yeah, whatever," Eric grumbled, ready to walk away, but he had to know, "What was all the kissing for?"

Wes pressed his lips together, thinking for a moment, before he explained, "Where he's from that's how they greet and say goodbye."

Eric blinked, "I'm so glad I don't live there."

Wes laughed, "Thanks again."

Eric stared as Wes shut the door. He stood there a moment, ran a hand through his hair. He shook his head. Not my team, he tried to tell himself as he walked away, pressing fingers to his lips.