a/n-This story is pretty much a prequel to my story Tommy Oliver Wants to Die. Pretty much, it chronicles the events of how the Mystic Force rangers got to Adam's house. I wasn't planning to write this story at all until someone reviewed TOMD wanting to know why Xander hates his car so much, and here's the answer. Hope you like it!
Xander Bly Wants to Die
"Are you absolutely positive that you can't come with?" Xander pleaded.
"Yep." Vida said with a grin. "Toby said he needs me to run the store today."
"Why can't he leave Chip in charge?" Xander demanded. Vida just gave him a look that said she clearly thought something was wrong with him. "OK…probably not the best idea. But why can't Chip at least come with me? I'm sure Kira's coming; he can meet another yellow."
"Chip's working with me today." Vida informed Xander, her grin widening to show she was clearly taking pleasure in the agony Xander would undoubtedly soon be going through. "It's just the two of us because you're taking Nick and Madison with you and Toby left a few days ago to get a break from reality. I guess he has a cabin somewhere in the middle of nowhere or something. He mentioned something about going fishing. I doubt we'll be seeing him for a few more days at least. Anyway, ever since you left, we've all been having to pull extra shifts, so it's just Chip and I while everyone else gets some time off."
"The world is so against me today." Xander said with a sigh, leaning back against his car.
It had been just two weeks ago that the Sentinel Knight had appeared to Xander in the back room of the Rock Porium and asked him to become the green ranger once more. He had immediately accepted the offer and then took an indefinite leave of absence, which Toby hadn't been particularly pleased about. Xander's part in the mission had ended three days previously, but he had only just come home yesterday. And, much to his surprise, he had discovered that while he was gone, Toby had decided to take an impromptu vacation.
So, Xander had felt obliged to accept Adam's invitation to a barbecue in Angel Grove when the older ranger had called him the night before. Adam had said he was calling Tori and Kira as well, and that Xander was more than welcome to invite his own team members, as it was going to be a small gathering of former power rangers.
However, as Vida had already informed him, she and Chip were the only two available that day to look after the store for Toby. So that left Xander with just two options for people to bring with him: Nick and Madison. Nick, Madison, and Xander alone together for what Xander just knew was going to be an obscenely long car ride to Angel Grove.
"I'll take your shift if you go to Angel Grove with Nick and your sister." Xander offered. "You want some time off don't you?"
"No can do." Vida said, her wide grin still present. "I have no idea who any of those people are that you're going to visit—"
"They're former power rangers, just like you!" Xander offered, interrupting her.
"—And I'm really in no mood to introduce myself to complete strangers today." Vida finished as if there had been no interruption, still smiling brightly. "Besides, until you officially come back, Toby's paying me extra.
They were currently standing outside of the Rock Porium, where Nick and Madison had been working the morning shift, and just then the couple in question exited the building and began walking towards Xander and Vida. With a groan of displeasure, Xander pushed himself away from his car, causing Vida to emit a low chuckle.
"Make sure you keep careful track of how many…instances I'm going to have to beat Nick up for." Vida muttered under her breath, just out of her sister's earshot still.
"I'm going to try as hard as I can not to." Xander said with another groan.
At that moment, Nick and Madison finally reached the car, their hands intertwined.
"Now, you kids all have fun." Vida said, beginning to back away. "When you get back, make sure you let me know if I missed out on any other pink rangers being there."
And, throwing one last grin in Xander's direction, Vida turned and made her way into the Rock Porium, calling out instructions to Chip as she did so.
"She's in a good mood today." Madison remarked, looking surprised. "She must have gotten over having to work with only Chip again, today."
"I'm sure that's it exactly." Xander muttered under his breath, opening his door and sliding into the driver's seat.
Not even a full half-hour later Xander was wishing to himself with every fiber of his being that Vida had given in and switched places with him. Or, at the very least, he wished that Thrax had had several brothers and sisters. It also would have been nice if the Master could come back from the dead so that he and Xander could get on a first name basis. And of course he should have thought to ask Mystic Mother if she wanted to come with. Boy, would that have been a shocker for Adam when he opened his front door.
Unfortunately, however, it was just Xander. Xander free from the threat of any bad guys or disgruntled customers and without the company of the protector of all good magic in the front seat of his car. Well, Xander alone in the front with Nick and Madison together in the back.
Life was not good.
Of course, in all fairness, the first ten minutes or so hadn't been too bad. Nick and Madison had just spent a slow morning working together after all. And, since Xander hadn't been around lately, they caught him up to speed on what had been going on around town. Or, more specifically, how business was doing in the Rock Porium, since that was where they had been spending most of their time recently with Xander and Toby's absences. But then, just when Xander thought he might be able to survive the obscenely long car ride, Madison had mentioned something about Nick being so good with the customers.
It had all gone downhill from there.
The discussion had dissolved into a full-scale argument between Nick and Madison about who was the better employee, complete with affectionate pet names and everything.
So now, Xander was trying to avoid looking through the rearview mirror and attempting to name all of the Master's henchmen in the chronological order of their appearances.
It wasn't a good enough distraction. And now, to make matters even worse, Xander noticed that his car seemed to be low on fuel, which meant that he would have to stop at a gas station somewhere. He could have sworn that he'd filled his car up recently…but that could have been just after he'd dropped Kira off in Reefside.
Really, Xander contemplated to himself a little bit later, it wasn't so much that he had a problem with filling up his car. Doing that got him out of immediate proximity to Nick and Madison. Rather, he reasoned to himself as he got out of his car at the gas station, what was really killing him was that stopping now would not only prolong an already painfully long car ride, but he would also be leaving Nick and Madison totally alone in the backseat.
As Xander leaned against his car waiting for the tank to fill up, he happened to glance at the t.v. screen on top of the pump and the sight that met his eyes was the Operation Overdrive rangers fighting. He smiled to himself, shaking his head. Those newbies were probably so happy to have their powers back that they'd picked the fight themselves.
Still laughing slightly to himself, Xander removed the gas pump nozzle from his car and paid for the gas. Unfortunately for Xander, however, his amusement was short-lived. As he was about to get back into his car, he happened to glance through the window into the backseat. It was definitely the worst mistake he'd ever made in his entire life.
Xander promptly turned around and practically sprinted towards the tiny gas station store, away from his car. Once inside of it, he stopped dead, not entirely sure what he was going to do in there. He quickly spotted the payphone in the corner, and swiftly made his way over to it with only one thought on his mind. He scrambled for change in his pocket before thrusting a few quarters into the slot for money as he picked up the receiver and dialed a familiar number.
"Hello!" A cheerful voice said after barely one ring. "This is the Rock Porium, Chip speaking. How may I be of service to you on this most wonderful of Saturdays?"
"Put Vida on." Xander said shortly. "Right now."
"Xander?" Chip questioned. "Is that you? Why do you want to talk to V?"
"Yes." Xander replied shortly. "Now let me talk to Vida."
"But why?" Chip repeated.
"Obviously because I want to talk to her." Xander stated.
"But why don't you want to talk to me?" Chip demanded. "I make much more pleasant conversation than Vida does."
"This isn't a social call, Chip. I really need to talk to her." Xander insisted, desperation leaking into his tone.
"Batman never had to go through this when the mayor called him." Chip muttered under his breath. Then, louder, "Fine, I'll go find her. I think she's sitting in your chair," He continued thoughtfully. "You know, we're having a really slow day today. It's times like these that I wonder why Toby usually has all five of us here at the same time; there's not enough work for just V and me today. It's totally pointless. I might be getting paid to do nothing by talk to you right now, but mark my words: these slow days are going to be the death of me one day. Why didn't I get a job at a comic book store? That would be so much more enjoyable. That and I wouldn't have—"
"Chip!" Xander interrupted suddenly, so loudly that the bored-looking teenager at the counter gave him a dirty look. He continued in a softer voice, "Just go get Vida right now and let me talk to her."
The other end of the line fell silent.
"Chip?" Xander asked after a moment. "Chip are you still there? You better not have hung up on me! Chip?"
"Hello?" Vida's voice said suddenly. "Rock Porium, this is Vida speaking, how can I help you, sir?"
"Vida!" Xander exclaimed with relief. "Finally!"
"Xander?" Vida sounded surprised. "You're the rude customer Chip doesn't want to deal with anymore?"
"No, I'm the scarred for life assistant manager of the store you're currently in who really needed to talk to you but was unable to because someone wouldn't give you the phone." Xander contradicted in one breath.
Vida was silent for a moment. Then, "What did Nick and Madison do?" She asked, sounding much too amused for Xander's taste.
"They're desecrating the backseat of my beautiful car!" Xander moaned. "Make them stop!"
"What exactly are the doing?" Vida asked slowly.
"Well…um, they're both asleep now." Xander replied slowly. "But I swear I saw some of Madison's lipstick on Nick's cheek!"
"So, they're sleeping the backseat of your car, and you're just sitting there watching them while you talk to me on your cell phone?" Vida asked, amused again.
"No!" Xander exclaimed with a shudder. "We had to stop for gas, and they must have fallen asleep while I was outside, and once I saw them there was no way I was gonna get back in that car with them, even to get my phone. So I called you from the gas station's pay phone."
Vida was silent for a very long moment.
"Vida?" Xander finally asked. "Are you still there?"
"Ha ha ha!" Vida suddenly burst out laughing. "Yep, I'm still here," She continued in between attempts to take calming breaths to control the urge to laugh hysterically. "Xander, I don't know if I've ever mentioned this to you before, but you have some serious issues."
"I do not." Xander retorted crossly, sounding very much like a small child.
"Yes you do." Vida said, still laughing. "Look, Xander, I should probably hang up and spare Toby the phone bill, but before I go, let me give you a little bit of advice."
"I don't want your advice." Xander protested. "I want you to come save me from the traumatizing presence of your sister and her boyfriend!"
Vida laughed again. ""Xander, they're sleeping right now, aren't they? So all you have to do is get back in your car and hope they don't wake up until you get to Angel Grove. I'm sure you could think up a few things that would be worse to endure than Nick and Madison sleeping right now, couldn't you?"
"Don't say that ever again." Xander stated firmly, his eyes closed tight as if to block out a painful mental image.
"Sure thing." Vida replied, and Xander could tell just by the sound of her voice that she still had that grin on her face from before. "I'm going to hang up on you now, so good luck Xander. And don't forget to pray to the Sandman that they stay asleep."
Then the line went dead. Xander glared at the phone for a good few seconds, until it started beeping annoyingly like phones tend to do when they've been left off the hook for too long. With a resigned sigh, Xander replaced the phone, turned away from it, and walked out of the store at as slow a pace as he could manage, heading back towards his car. Once he was finally standing beside it, he glanced into the backseat again to see that Nick and Madison were indeed still passed out.
Xander sighed again as he slid into the front seat, but he had to admit to himself that Vida had had a good point. There were a multitude of other things Madison and Nick could be doing right now other than sleeping. He would just have to endure the rest of this car ride, which the oh-so-lovely pair in his backseat would hopefully sleep through. And whilst he was driving perhaps he would pass the time contemplating what kind of car he would get to replace this one.
It took a lot of effort and a great deal of patience on Xander's part, but he managed not to speed too much over the limit for the next hour and a half. And, luckily for him, there didn't seem to be much of a law enforcement presence on the highway in between Briarwood and Angel Grove. When he'd dropped Kira off in Reefside, the area had practically been crawling with cops. There must be a larger population of insane drivers over there or something. But either way, it was all working to Xander's advantage right now, and that was all that mattered.
That is, of course, until he finally reached the town limits of Angel Grove and became contented enough that they had almost reached their destination to stop worrying about his backseat passengers. Because just at that precise moment, the pair in question finally woke up.
"Good morning." Nick said with a yawn, grinning down at Madison, whose head was still on his shoulder.
"Morning?" Madison questioned with a yawn of her own. "How long has this car ride been?"
"Too long." Xander muttered from the front seat, but not loud enough for anyone else to hear.
"I shouldn't have stayed up so late last night." Madison continued with another yawn, sitting up. "I knew I had to get up this morning."
"We weren't up that late." Nick commented, causing Xander to wish he'd thought to start playing the radio the second Nick and Madison's eyes had opened in order to block anything out.
"Are we almost there, Xander?" Madison asked now. "I don't think I can stay cooped up in this car for another minute."
"Not even if I'm here with you?" Nick questioned.
"Well, when you put it that way…" Madison trailed off, a smile spreading across her face.
"We're here!" Xander interrupted suddenly, pulling the car to the curb of a residential street and stopping abruptly.
And without another word, he bolted from the car, practically sprinting towards the front door. Nick and Madison shared a confused glance, before getting out of the car as well and followed the former green ranger at a slower pace. As a result, by the time they reached Xander, Adam was just opening the front door.
"Hey Xander." Adam said cheerfully. "I'm so glad you could make it. Who are they?"
"Nick, Madison." Xander replied, gesturing to each of them in turn. "Red, blue."
"Blue?" Adam repeated. "Hmm…just like Tori. Didn't you say your yellow was a guy also?"
Xander nodded. "Chip. And Vida's pink. Unfortunately they couldn't make it today."
"No problem." Adam said with a wave of his hand, gesturing the three of them inside. "This was all kind of last minute, anyway. I'm glad at least the three of you could make it. Follow me, everyone's out back."
"Who else is here?" Xander asked, eager to see if there was anyone else he knew here and/or someone new he could meet in order to further distance himself from Nick and Madison.
"Just a couple of my old teammates so far." Adam replied. "Kira said she was coming though. I'm sure they'll be here soon."
They had reached the backyard by that time, and the table there was filled mostly with people wearing red, lots of red. And one person in black. Absolutely no green to speak of. Xander gave an almost inaudible sigh: he'd have to work with what he had. But at least Kira was coming; he actually knew her.
Xander was just about to go sit down next to and introduce himself to the only person not in red, other than Adam, when he heard the unmistakable sound of the doorbell ringing from inside of the house.
"That must be Kira." Adam said, about to turn back around.
"I'll get it!" Xander offered quickly.
"Um…ok. You can find your way back to the front door, right?" Adam asked.
Xander gave one swift nod before turning and making his way back into Adam's house.
All in all, much to Xander's surprise, he had survived the car ride here. Perhaps Vida really had been right, after all. Of course, now that Kira was here, he could probably hitch a ride home from her, in the interest of self-preservation, of course. He didn't want that boyfriend Kira had mentioned getting the wrong idea. And, as far as he could care, Nick and Madison might as well just keep his car now.
Xander paused for a moment before opening the door, hearing voices on the other side. Yep, that was definitely Kira alright. Finally, salvation. Smiling for the first time all day, Xander yanked the front door open.