Spoilers: Anything up to "Go for the Green." Also "Ranger Green." If you haven't seen the episodes lately, you can watch them all on youtube. I would.
Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers: RPM. It's always so hard not to laugh while typing these words.
A/N: This story is mostly finished, (I wanted a story on here actually labeled "complete") so the postings should be up as soon as I polish each one.
"A few things about the rules about taking the, ah, uniform out on dates? Because I think chicks would dig it. Am I right? I know Scott…you know what I'm talking about." He trailed behind the group that was pointedly ignoring him, resisting the urge to look back at the computer screen to see if Dr. K would bring up a pair of animated eyes to roll. If the Zords were any indication, Dr. K had a thing for animated eyes. He let out a breath and stopped talking.
Well. That could've gone worse. And it could've. As Ziggy Grover—brand spankin' new operator of Ranger Series Green—powered down fully, he figured at least no one had tried to kill him. Though he was relatively certain Dillon wouldn't let that happen. Well…maybe relatively relatively certain. Brooding, frowny, Ranger Black had done a pretty spectacular job keeping him alive so far at least. On multiple occasions. Ziggy sort of had the feeling Dillon would've done that for anybody. Heck, he would've done it for Jell-O. But still.
His skin tingled with the retreating energy, and he imagined the Green suit appearing in its little cylinder in the lab, next to the other suits where it belonged. Then the sudden crippling pain in his wrist didn't give him much time to dwell on any symbolic ironies there.
Doubling over, cradling his left wrist, he saw the swelling and the colors and the general disfigurement beneath his new morpher. Oh. Yeah. That. Amid the clearer memories of a feral smile, impossibly strong, feminine hands, and purple spandex—hers had to be real spandex, right?—he remembered the vaguer moment where Tenaya 7 had grabbed his wrist as they struggled for the Green Morpher. His Green Morpher. He'd heard a pop then, before he'd morphed. And he'd felt sick for a second, but there hadn't been pain. Now apparently, the pain center of his brain felt cheated and thought it necessary to catch him up on all he'd missed.
Oh. Well. This is sort of fantastic, isn't it? It was bad pain. And he felt sick again on top of it. Some very persistent tears stung his eyes, but he ordered them to stay where they were. He looked toward where the rest of the team had gathered around the kitchen counter. Wasn't it just a few hours ago they were smiling at him, telling him Good work, Ziggy, looking at him like he was actually part of something? 'Cause now it felt like years ago. Scott was slumped at the bar, and right then that guy could've given Dillon lessons in brooding. Flynn was putting together smoothies for everyone, his movements practiced and familiar, focusing on something that wasn't the problem—that wasn't Ziggy. Summer looked like she wanted to argue both sides, and he could appreciate the fact that she was at least torn. And Dillon… Well, Dillon was leaning against the wall, unreadable. But Dillon was over there with them.
Ziggy swallowed. And he was sure the swell of tears was entirely because of the immense, unbearable pain in his wrist and not at all because of the fact that he suddenly felt very, very alone.
He turned away. That was just silly.
The stairs were mounted quickly, quietly, his wrist held protectively against his chest, and it hurt. It throbbed with every heartbeat, so much that he caught himself almost wishing the darn organ would quit beating altogether. Oh, wait, no, that would be bad, wouldn't it. Please tell me I'm not getting delirious. On top of that, his head ached, and he was so tired, and everything seemed generally terrible and unable to be fixed.
He padded down the hall into his and Dillon's room. Well, it was probably technically only Dillon's room. But Ranger Black had been letting him bunk in there the last few days without much more trouble than a few eye rolls and stern looks. It wasn't like Ziggy had anywhere else to go. And besides, it was all Dillon's fault Ziggy was there in the first place. Yeah, Ziggy had had the arguments all saved up. Still hadn't had to use them yet, though.
Ziggy shut the door behind him and leaned on it, carefully sliding off the cause of all this trouble. He pushed the morpher into his pocket and took stock of the damage. His left wrist was about twice the size of his right, and it was just a little bit off. He couldn't move it very well. And trying to move it immediately seemed like a terrible idea. There was numbness inside the pain, and somehow that numbness didn't make it hurt any less. Pretty colors, though. Lots and lots of pretty colors.
I have to do something about this. He made a face. Not good. But what was he supposed to do? If he went down there now whining about an injury—while everyone was still deciding on whether or not to murder him, rig a new morpher, and find a Ranger Green who was actually qualified—it probably wouldn't do much for his case. Scott and Dr. K would be proven right. He was a weakling. A liability. Nothing more.
Well, I don't need them. He could do this by himself. He'd had to patch himself up hundreds of times. He'd even popped his shoulder back in once when it was dislocated. The memory made him shiver still. That hadn't been a good day. But anyway, Scott and Dr. K and Summer and Flynn and Dillon would never have to know, and he could smile, he could always smile, and say something that made them roll their eyes away and not look at him. He could do this, and he could heal, and nobody would ever know he'd been too weak to keep himself safe.
Setting his jaw, he went to the computer, pulled up everything he could on the human wrist, and tried not to despair. There were a lot more bones in there than in his shoulder. Not that he expected any different. But come on, seriously? A skeletal image of the wrist stood out on the screen with all those tiny little intricate pieces. Mocking him. He glared at the monitor. "How many times a day must I be ridiculed by a computer screen?" He growled suspiciously at the offending hardware. "Don't look at me like that. I know your type." It was a few seconds before he realized that was a pun and wanted to bang his head on the keyboard.
He sat there in the computer chair for a minute, building up courage. Wouldn't do a lot of good to put it off. Actually, it would probably do a lot of harm to put it off. He wished he'd been able to smuggle some ice or something up to the room. Of course, with everyone gathered in the kitchen, that would've been impossible. Didn't stop him from wishing. He went to the closet. It was mostly empty. He and Dillon had come with next to nothing, and neither he nor Dillon had a lot of time for shopping. But they had managed to pick up a few things on the government's dime. Of course, Dillon's side consisted mostly of black shirts.
Ziggy grabbed the only belt he had—the black, imitation leather one he'd been wearing with the remains of his suit the day he met Dillon. Then he crammed the end of it in his mouth. He went back to his bed. Sat down carefully. He didn't think he would pass out. He hadn't passed out when he'd popped his shoulder back in. Oh, but he had thrown up though. Yeah, that really hadn't been a good day.
Hm. Well… Haven't eaten that much today. He shook his head. Okay, stop psyching yourself out, and just do it already.
He felt along his wrist. Glanced back at the computer screen. He thought he had a general idea of what needed to happen. He could feel himself sweating, his breathing quick, in and out through his nose. His hand tightened on his wrist, tears pooling in his eyes. He bit down hard on the belt.
Knock, knock. "Ziggy, you in there?"
The voice stopped him, throwing his heart up into his throat, and he just about choked trying to spit out that belt. "Don't come in!" And if his voice sounded high and hysterical, well...not much he could do about it.
A pause. "Um…why?"
"Uh, I'm…" Ziggy thought fast, "naked."
A longer pause. "Why…?"
"I…I was going to take a shower." That sounded legit.
"So…you were going to…what? Streak down the hallway?"
Oh. That was a devastatingly excellent point. The bathroom was two doors down. "I…um. Well." Ziggy tried to sound convincing. "No. But…I have…a robe that…I wear. And I was going to put it on…"
"Well, go ahead and put it on, Ziggy." Dillon was being very patient, all things considered. The fact that he was beginning to talk through his teeth notwithstanding.
Well, this isn't working at all. "Do…ah…do you need something, Dillon?"
"Tell you what I don't need. I don't need to knock to go into my own room. You got three seconds to get decent. You need me to count?"
Ziggy sighed and dropped his head to his chest. Threw the belt toward the closet with his good hand. "No."
Dillon didn't count out loud. But exactly three seconds later, the door opened, and Ranger Black stood there, and it seemed like he took up the whole doorway. Ziggy did everything possible not to think of the pain flooding up his arm. Instead he offered a dumb grin.
Dillon looked pointedly at his fully-clothed form. "Nice shirt," was the comment. Good ol' sarcasm. Guy didn't ask him to explain the lie, though.
Ziggy pointed with a wink. "Hey, back atcha."
Dillon crossed to sit on his own bed. "Dr. K's calling for your head. I think he wants us to train you to death."
There was a flutter in his chest that felt like panic. He swallowed past it and kept his voice bright. "Sounds slow and painful."
Dillon shrugged, unconcerned, and leaned back on the bed. "It's weird, isn't it?" he asked absently. "The whole Dr. K thing."
"Disembodied voice? Mm-yeah. Before this is all over, I really, really want an opportunity to say 'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.'" He got a blank look in return. "You know. Like Wizard of Oz?" Still blank. "Really? Okay, you will watch it with me. Soon. Classic movie musicals are what separate us from the likes of Venjix."
"Here I thought it was our beating hearts and our inescapable mortality."
"Now you're just being sentimental." It made Dillon smirk, and that made Ziggy smile. Dillon didn't smirk that way unless he thought something was really funny.
Dillon tucked his hands behind his head. "Well, whoever or whatever he is, Dr. K has kind of a knack for knowing what's going on in here."
Hmm…that was an odd segue. "Eerie."
"Yeah. He mentioned to me your vitals were 'more erratic than normal and it is possible you are having some sort of post-traumatic experience.'" Casual. Very casual.
"Wait. The Doc is worried about my mental health? Huh. That's a little bit precious. And disturbing."
"I said it was stupid." Dillon nodded. But then he shifted uncomfortably and sat up on his elbows so he could look at him. "It is, right?"
"Very stupid," Ziggy agreed. He wasn't coming unglued figuratively. He was just falling apart literally.
"Good. Because that's what I said."
"You did say that," he nodded.
"Right." Dillon stood abruptly, actually seemed relieved. Ziggy was curious about that, but there were a few more pressing issues. Like the fact it felt like his arm had been chewed off. Dillon crossed to the door, and Ziggy was glad and sort of afraid at the same time. But the older guy stopped. Took another step forward and stopped again. Then, almost reluctantly, he turned around. Didn't say anything for a second. Then out of nowhere, "You're going to be fine, you know. You don't have to worry." His eyes were dark and intense, and Ziggy could never look at them very long while he had every intention of lying.
"Who's worried?" There wasn't an answer. Not until Ziggy looked up. Dillon was staring at him and frowning. Would've made Ziggy uncomfortable. But he didn't see how it was possible to be any more uncomfortable than he already was. "What?"
There was much suspicion. "What's wrong with you?"
Ziggy forced a chuckle. "You could probably ask anyone downstairs and get all kinds of great answers."
Dillon stepped forward, closer, and Ziggy instinctively leaned back, pulling his injured arm behind him. Which very much hurt, though he was sure he hid it pretty well.
"You look off," Dillon decided.
"Okay, ouch," he complained loftily. "There are feelings to consider here, you know. I am a…"
"Ziggy. What's wrong?"
"With the world in general?" he tried.
"With you. Specifically."
And for a brief, absurd second, Ziggy wanted to tell him. Wanted to pour out the truth. And not just about his arm. But everything else, too. Wanted to tell him that he was scared. That he was guilty. That he was the last person in the world who should be trying to save the world. That he was jealous of the others and how they meshed and how they needed each other and how that was okay. That he was so so tired of not needing anybody. But he shook his head. And lied without blinking. "Nothing."
Dillon looked at the figure on the bed, shoulders hunched, face pale and sweaty, generally miserable and trying hard not to look like it. Brown eyes glassy and desperate and betraying. Dillon sighed quietly. With Ziggy, nothing could ever be simple, could it? It was like it was in the guy's nature to complicate everything a hundred times.
"I'm about ninety percent sure you're lying," he said point blank.
"Ten percent's a pretty big margin for error." Ziggy's eyes were wide and kept looking back and forth between Dillon and the door. Whether dropping a not-so-subtle hint Dillon should leave or planning his own escape it was hard to tell.
Dillon rolled his eyes. "I'm…probably not going to leave until you tell me what's going on with you. And I kind of have other things I wanted to do, so… If you could just quit dancing around and get it over with, that would be great."
"Post-traumatic stress is the party line," twerp answered promptly with that stupid cheeky smile.
"Right. Try again."
The younger boy sighed and ducked his head. Dillon probably wouldn't have heard the next words if he hadn't been a little bit mechanical. "Would you buy post-traumatic trauma?"
"What does…" He stopped. And he could see the pinched look on Ziggy's face, the lines around his eyes and mouth, and they looked like pain. "Did she hurt you?" There was a dangerousness to his voice, partly daring Ziggy to lie, partly promising retribution for a certain lady robot if the answer was yes.
Ziggy's jaw dropped for a second, but he had to pick it up to start talking again. "I'm mostly just tired, Dillon. Seriously. I was going to take a nap. That's all." Those big brown eyes were pleading with him to believe him, to leave it alone. "Long day, you know?"
It had been a long day. So those words sounded like truth. But he couldn't get over the feeling Ziggy was lying to him. And he didn't know why that would be, and it made him mad. "Yeah. You know what, fine." So he was just going to go. If Ziggy didn't want help, he couldn't help him. Nothing Dillon could do about that. He wasn't even sure why he bothered. "Whatever."
He was about to turn toward the door when the computer screen caught his eye. The picture there. And he looked back at Ziggy, looked at how he had his left arm pulled behind him, how he was holding so still. Ziggy didn't usually hold still. No, he thought. Couldn't be. Dillon walked up to him, held out his left hand and waited.
Ziggy stared. "You don't strike me as the high five type."
"I was going for the handshake."
"Oh. Um. I never shake hands unless I know all the terms of the agreement."
Dillon could've sworn he heard the guy gulp. "But…isn't it more…customary to do that right-handed?"
Oh, now this is just stupid. "What'd you do to your arm, Ziggy?"
"Really? That's the first question he asks?"
And the younger boy pressed his lips together tightly, dropping his eyes to stare at the floor for a minute. He looked sort of helpless. Dillon couldn't imagine why this would be so hard. "I don't think it's too bad," he hedged.
It made him worried. "Show me."
And without a word, Ziggy brought his arm around, immediately moving his right hand to support it. Dillon almost took a step back. The wrist was huge, swollen and purple, and the angle was wrong, and it looked painful.
Dillon could only stare and think of that skeletal image on the monitor, put it together with the belt on the floor and the teeth marks in it, and when his mouth started to work again, he couldn't stop himself. "You idiot," he seethed. Ziggy seemed to expect this. Still, his shoulders hunched a little more, and his head might've dropped a little lower. "What the heck were you thinking?"
"Wasn't really, I guess," he said quietly.
"You friggin…You really just weren't going to tell anyone? What was your plan exactly?"
There was an uncomfortable shrug, and Ziggy practically squirmed. Looked like a little kid in trouble. "I wasn't going to bother anybody. I was trying to take care of it."
"You were trying…" Good grief, what did that even mean? It was obvious what it meant. Ziggy thought he could set a wrist that was obviously dislocated, possibly broken, and Dillon could only think of the first thousand lists of reasons why that was the worst idea he could've had. "So it never occurred to you that you have no idea what you're doing? That you could've totally screwed up your hand?"
"I wouldn't say it didn't occur to me…"
"Then, what the heck…?"
"Just don't worry, Dillon. And don't tell the others. I'll have it fixed before Dr. K wants me for training, and it'll be fine. Next time I won't screw up, okay? I swear. I'll get better at this. Just please don't tell them. They already think I'm…" He didn't say worthless. And he didn't say a disappointment. And he didn't say a complete waste of time. He didn't finish it at all. He didn't have to.
Still, Dillon wouldn't have it. "Look, I'm not letting you mess around with a wrist injury. Even if you didn't want to tell any of us," me, "you never thought of, I don't know, going to the hospital?"
"I didn't think I'd make it to the hospital," Ziggy said softly, and it was an admission.
That didn't make sense. The hospital wasn't all that far, even without a car. Unless… "You have other injuries I don't know about?"
"No," came the immediate answer. "No. It's just..." he paused and worked his jaw, and it seemed for a moment he wouldn't finish. "Corinth isn't always as safe as they meant for it to be."
He remembered men twice Ziggy's size, promising pain, pinning him to a table, saying dark, ugly things. Bright brown eyes going dull and dead as he realized what was coming. Men in prison, who knew Ziggy on sight, knew they wanted to hurt him. Dillon didn't know what had happened to make those guys hate the kid so much. But Ziggy was right. The streets of Corinth weren't exactly a haven for him. And if someone had caught him on the street, hurting like he was, there wouldn't have been much of a struggle. "Idiot," he murmured again. He sighed. Didn't punch the wall. Wanted to. But didn't. "Well, come on." Ziggy finally looked up at him again, eyes questioning. "I have a car."
Ziggy rose, arm held protectively to his chest, immediately wary. "You mean…?"
"I'm taking you to the hospital. You unbelievable moron." He turned and went out the door, expecting Ziggy to follow. For once, the kid did as expected.
"Where are you going?" Summer asked as he stormed through the garage to the Firebird, Ziggy trailing behind.
"Out," he said tersely, not thinking, still wholly angry.
He sat in the driver's seat, reaching across to open the door for a fumbling Ziggy. The younger boy sank, nervously grateful into his seat. "Don't worry," Ziggy called to a frowning Summer. "If he does plan to kill me, I'm sure he'll make it quick and painless. Also sure there'll be no evidence."
"Shut up," Dillon ordered as he started the engine. He rolled down the window. "We'll be back soon," he offered Summer. It was meant to be an apology for being so short. It didn't sound like one. He'd have to fix that when he cooled off.
The engine revved, and Dillon took comfort in the familiar sound and the soothing feeling of the car under him. His car. He loved this car. It was safe and reliable and never surprised him. There was no mystery in it. It never evoked that feeling of trying to remember something and not being able to. It was simple and straightforward and powerful. His watch was the most important thing to him. This car was the most comforting.
Ziggy was quiet in the seat next to him, hands in his lap. Ah, Ziggy. Dillon spent a lot of time wishing the guy would shut up. Heck, he spent a lot of time telling the guy to shut up. But when Ziggy was quiet like that, everything felt a little more hopeless.
Dillon rolled his eyes. How did this guy do this to him? He really didn't want to care. He had his own problems. Too many to remember apparently. And this little punk tries to freaking hold him up with a car muffler, and the next thing he knows, he's picked up a passenger, and somehow he's picked up all his passenger's unwanted baggage, too. It was stupid. He couldn't fix everyone's problems. He couldn't fix Ziggy's problems, whatever they were. So why did he keep feeling like he had to try? Sighing, he reached into the back blindly, plucking a yellow sucker from his stash. He pulled off the wrapper and handed it wordlessly to his roommate. If Ziggy wasn't going to talk, Dillon would give himself a reason for why Ziggy wasn't going to talk. Made Dillon feel a little better. Didn't make sense. But made Dillon feel a little better.
Curiously enough, a slow, quiet smile spread across the younger boy's face. He popped the sucker into his mouth. Then he started talking. "Aren't you supposed to give the patient one of these after the check-up?" he said around the candy.
"I look like a doctor to you?"
"I would never be a party to profiling."
"But no, you don't, not at all. Then again, Dr. K doesn't look like any doctor I've seen before either. What with the fact he's just a white screen with his own name printed on it. Come to think of it, where does a disembodied computer voice go to get his Ph.D.? Because I would doubt that school's accreditation immediately…"
Ziggy kept talking nonsense. Dillon grinned secretly at the road.
As they pulled up to the front entrance of the hospital, Ziggy felt a knot plant itself firmly in his stomach, and the last thing he wanted in the world was to get out of the car. He told himself he was being stupid, that things weren't like that anymore. But still, he'd spent a childhood knowing that hospitals were bad places to be. Hospitals asked questions, all kinds of questions, and hospitals called social services or police, and hospitals cost money, and hospitals ruined everything. And people in there were clean and sanitized, and they looked at him like he was filthy, and they noticed him and made him feel small just with their eyes. Medical attention was not worth it. Never.
He gripped the seat tight with his good hand. Ziggy really, really liked Dillon's car. It was like it was indestructible. The whole world could be blowing up right outside, but it was safe inside Dillon's car because Dillon loved his car more than anything, and it didn't matter if the world was blowing up, Dillon would never let anything hurt his car and, by extension, anyone cowering inside. Ziggy very much did not want to get out of the car, and it was irrational and stupid on all counts, and that didn't change anything.
There was a second of silence and anxiety before Dillon pointed out, "We're here," and Ziggy felt like an idiot.
"Right. Right you are. Thank you for the lift. I'm going to go." He nodded. Hesitated. "If I call you…will you come get me when they're done?"
Dillon just looked at him like he was missing something obvious. "Ziggy. Get out of the car."
Oh. Ouch. "Right. Sorry." He pried his fingers off the seat and pulled the handle. Convinced shaking legs to lever him out of the car and keep holding him up on solid ground. Well, that was fine. He had no intention of going into that building anyway. As soon as Dillon left, he'd go. He still had a few contacts that wouldn't drop him on sight. Well…Benny anyway. And Benny knew people. All Ziggy needed was someone who could set his wrist. Benny could get him that. Benny had always been the master of I-know-a-guy-who-knows-a-guy. Ziggy didn't like that though. Benny had already risked his neck for him once getting him out of the city. But was there any other choice? If he went back to the garage, and his wrist wasn't fixed…
"Ziggy." Dillon was standing on the other side of the car, glaring a glare that suggested he'd been trying to get Ziggy's attention for awhile.
"Stop spacing out, and let's go."
Ziggy frowned. Let's? As in, Let us? As in both of them? "Go where?" They'd just gotten there. Where did Dillon want to go now?
"Inside." Dillon just stood there, looking at him like he was soft in the head.
But no. No, because Dillon was the one who wasn't making any sense. "Wha…You're coming, too?"
There was that look again. "Yeah," he drew the word out.
And this time the look was different. Kind of…exasperated and sad and resigned all at the same time. Ziggy didn't know what to do with a look like that. He fought the urge to apologize. Dillon sighed and came around the front of the car. Shut Ziggy's door for him. "That's a dumb question," was the only answer he gave, and it was pretty much the definition of a non-answer. Then Dillon smirked his annoying smirk. People thought Ziggy pretty much cornered the market on annoying, but they didn't know. Dillon could be really annoying when he wanted to be. "Want me to get you a wheelchair?"
Ziggy scowled. Then he brightened. A wheelchair. That might actually have fun potential.
"Absolutely not." Dillon cut off any ideas of wheelies or races or quick getaways he'd been about to have. "That was not a serious suggestion."
The scowl was back. "Killjoy."
Dillon snorted and plucked him closer by the back of his vest, careful not to jostle his arm, and settled his arm across his shoulders. "You got a broken arm. Last thing you need is a broken neck."
"I do not have a broken arm. Probably. And I'm pretty sure a broken neck would be a bad thing regardless of how many other broken bones one may or may not have."
"So we agree. You should never be allowed to pilot a wheelchair. It would only end in disaster." Before Ziggy could take issue with whether or not a wheelchair was a thing to be piloted, Dillon was steering them toward the entrance, and that made it not seem to matter much anymore. His heart quickened, and he swallowed. It was a stupid fear. He knew that. He was an adult, and he hadn't done anything wrong. They couldn't call someone to let them know he was there. They couldn't keep him there against his will. They couldn't take him away. They couldn't. And Dillon wouldn't let them, and Dillon wouldn't leave him there.
"So you…you're staying the whole time?" He'd meant it to sound teasing and unnecessary. It came out sort of pleading and desperate.
The arm around his shoulders tightened, but it might've just been because Dillon shrugged. "Depends on whether they have any good magazines."
And Dillon couldn't have possibly meant that to be as reassuring as it sounded.
A/N: Yeah, this was originally supposed to be a simple little oneshot. I have no self control.