Home Is Where the Heart Is

By: anolinde

Every day Maya smiles and laughs, like her home isn't a universe away and her friends and family aren't frozen in stone prisons. She eats Kai's strange food and even tries to take driving lessons from Kendrix, which don't end well. She sleeps in an uncomfortable bed without complaint.

There is only one thing she doesn't bury. A Terra Venture uniform hangs in her closet, clean and untouched. Maya has worn the same clothes every day for almost a month—because it is an easy tribute, one that doesn't overwhelm her with memories and homesickness. It helps suppress the guilt.

One day, the salmon is undercooked.

Kai's rare misstep makes all five Rangers violently ill, and they groan when a monster attacks Terra Venture. During the ensuing battle, they take turns ducking out to discreetly throw up behind some bushes. The taste this leaves in their mouths is awful.

When the fight is over, they are almost more relieved by the prospect of returning to their toilets than by the knowledge that Terra Venture is safe. Kai calls in sick to work and is read the riot act, because Kendrix was faster.

But the worst is watching his teammates suffer.

When Mike catches the stomach bug, his initial response is to shrug it off and go to work as usual. But when this decision lands him on the command room floor with a spinning head and no memory of how he got there, he is forcibly given the day off.

Later, Leo berates him for letting himself get dehydrated. "If only you had told someone, it wouldn't have come to this point," he fumes.

Mike somberly nods, but what he really wants to do is smile. Leo's matured. More than that, though, he's here. And Mike's not disappearing ever again.

Kendrix is in bed with the flu, but she can't resist having her computer nearby so she can work some more on the scans from the Galaxy Book. In between fits of vomiting, she struggles to translate foreign words and decipher scrambled symbols.

"Has anyone ever told you that you work too much?"

It's Leo, and he comes bearing soup from Kai. He makes her eat it.

"It's a good distraction," Kendrix points out, much to Leo's amusement. Then his hand gently squeezes hers and, suddenly, all she can think of is that Leo's smile makes a much better distraction.

The day after Damon and Leo narrowly escape Captain Mutiny, they're holed up in the Terra Venture infirmary with the worst sunburns either of them have ever experienced. Leo remarks that his skin matches his Ranger color, and Damon can only groan in response.

Their wrists, too, are in agony: they crack and bleed, the skin blistering where the handcuffs once were. Karone bandages these herself, but her touch only reminds Leo of a different Pink Ranger who was once in her place.

"I heard that tomatoes help," Karone offers, and Leo is glad when the slices cover his face.