Synopsis: After the events of "Ranger Green," Ziggy knows Dillon's mad at him. Thinks he knows why. Thinks he knows how to fix it. Sometimes Ziggy's an idiot. Friendship fic.


It had been two days since the whole fiasco had ended. And Dillon still wasn't talking to him. Sure, he'd say all the functional things that needed to be said. Grab your gear. Pass the salt. Shut your mouth. So it wasn't technically the silent treatment. But Ziggy was definitely feeling some cold shoulder.

Not that it was surprising. It was just surprising that…it stung.

But that was stupid. It had scared him when the word got out that he'd come to Corinth with the Scorpion cartel—pretty much the poster organization for crime syndicates. He figured his Ranger days were up, that he'd be left to rot in jail—at least until he could find a way to slip out. He never liked being locked up. He remembered sitting there, getting reamed and interrogated by Colonel Truman and trying so hard not to look at Dillon and plead silently for him to do something. He'd gotten way too used to Dillon doing something. Dillon who brought him out of the Wasteland. Dillon who got him out of jail. Dillon who was the first to accept him as a Ranger. Dillon who always had his back, who saved him from things too big to handle time and again and again. Dillon who couldn't trust him anymore.

Ziggy knew Dillon was mad. Dillon had a right to be mad. After everything Ziggy had put him through already, Dillon was pretty much the premier person on the planet to realize exactly the kind of worthless baggage Ziggy Grover was. And somehow Ziggy had been hoping up til that point that maybe Dillon wouldn't figure it out. Dillon had made it that easy. And then all that stupid truth had come out and reality punched him in the face.

Today they'd had a pretty unspectacular run-in with a Grinder scouting patrol. They hadn't even had to morph. Ziggy, as usual, rode with Dillon in the Fury back to the garage, and even though Ziggy talked the whole time, the car was pretty much filled with dead air. As soon as the car was in park, Dillon was out the door. After a short sigh, Ziggy followed. The rest of the team were just getting out of their vehicles as Ziggy said with lots and lots of forced optimism and cheer, "Hey, we should do something tonight. Team building. Serious war-time bonding. I say we go into town and do normal people stuff. Eat good food. Summer can teach Dr. K how to shop. I'll make a bet with Scott that I know I'll win, and when he loses he'll have to ride that little kid carousel at the mall. Flynn, you're on photo op duty…What do you say? Rangers forever?" He absolutely did not look at Dillon.

Scott looked amused and insulted. "I would not make a bet with you that I'd lose."

Ziggy raised his eyebrows. "Wanna bet?"

Summer was already grinning. "Sounds great; I'm in."

"Aye. I'll get the camera," Flynn said, lightly shoving Scott's shoulder as he passed.

And Dillon was already nearly to the stairs. "Dillon?" Summer asked. "You're coming, right?"

"Nope. Busy." He didn't even look back.

"Aw, come on, man," Flynn egged. "You gotta get out once in awhile and do something that's not fighting…" and by that time, Dillon had already shut the door to his room. The Scot shook his fist. "Killjoy!"

Ziggy tried not to look deflated. Well, that didn't work. He thought he caught a sympathetic look from Summer as she went to her room to change. The other two did likewise but minus the sympathy. Ziggy looked over to Dr. K's lab to see her standing in the doorway watching him with her arms crossed and her expression utterly unreadable. He brightened some.

"Dr. K. You wanna go be part of civilization for a couple hours?"

"I don't go outside," she said neutrally. Then added with only a hint of derision, "As you well know."

"But…what if…"

"Not on your life, Series Green."

He smiled, and he knew she saw him smiling. Because two days ago it had been a matter of his life, and she had gone outside just to save him from getting ghosted by the most dangerous men in what was left of humanity. She looked at him with that blank expression and the air of superiority, and he just didn't think she would ever stop being interesting. "Well, I guess you'll just have to stay here and have brooding contests with Dillon. I'm offering to get you out of that…"

"Ranger Operator Series Black should be going with you," she said simply. And she turned and went back into her lab. Perplexed, Ziggy followed.

He went to touch an odd-looking device that was shiny and had a button, and she was behind her computer screens, and she wasn't looking, and still she said, "Don't."

Thwarted, he walked up next to her and knelt on the floor, crossing his arms on the desk next to her and resting his chin on his hands. "What do you mean Dillon should be going with us?" He glanced at her.

"Frankly, his performance today was lacking, and I believe the cause to stem from an emotional stressor of all things. Which mean it serves no purpose. And until the issue is resolved, it will place undue strain on the rest of the team. I've been monitoring the situation, and if we were to face a serious threat unlike that of today's, it could, according to simulations I've run based on the variable predictability of today's statistics worsening over time, be potentially disastrous."

Ziggy blinked. And played dumb. "So…wait, what?"

"I believe Operator Series Black is…mad at you."

"And it's going to kill us all?"

"Conceivably."

"Awesome." Ziggy sighed and lifted his head to look at her. Her eyes were on the screen. "So…what do I do?"

"Are you asking me for personal advice, Ranger Green?"

"Conceivably."

She looked right at him. Right into his eyes. Her gaze was sharp and fierce and clear and brilliant. And she said with absolute dullness, "Work it out." Then she pushed his elbows off her workstation and went back to typing.

Ziggy grinned quietly to himself. He went to the door of the lab, making his footsteps loud because he thought maybe it would irritate her. "Sure you don't wanna go?"

"Yes," she said shortly.

"I'll buy you a soda," he wheedled.

"Soda is sugar and carbonation and has zero nutritional value."

"Neither do Mr. Marshmallows. And you drink soda all the time."

"Yes. Because I can get it here. Along with anything else I may ever need or want. Good day, Ranger Green."

"Good day, Dr. K." And he bowed. And before he left the room, he looked at her face, so intent on the screen in front of her, and the glow reflecting in her eyes and on her face, and he just didn't think she would ever stop being pretty. He was absolutely going to buy her something stupid that would make her roll her eyes and look completely unamused.

He met up with the others, and before they all piled into Flynn's Hummer, Summer caught his arm. "Everything okay?" she asked like his answer would be inconsequential. Except that she briefly glanced up toward Dillon's still-closed door.

Ziggy nodded. "Of course." He waited a beat. "Except that I never get to drive anywhere…" And that started a whole debate that began and ended with Scott and Flynn both declaring they were going to start locking up their keys, and if Ziggy ever so much as touched one of their rides…blah, blah, blah. And it was fun and light and team stuff.

And everything was okay. Because Ziggy knew exactly what he had to do. Dillon was mad at him. And Ziggy had to work it out. It wouldn't be difficult. It would be painful, though. Dillon was the six million dollar man, after all. But heck, Ziggy deserved it anyway. There was no way to earn Dillon's trust back. He'd lost that for good. There was no way to fix a friendship he'd screwed up so bad. No way to get back easy conversation and teasing and almost-brothers. But he could try to fix the team. He could at least make Dillon feel better. And that made Ziggy feel better. Even if it didn't do anything about the cold numbness in his stomach that couldn't possibly be anything like fear and couldn't possibly be anything like lostness and all-alone.

RPMRPMRPMRPMRPMRPMRPMRPM

Ziggy's heart was thudding in his chest. Summer and Scott and Flynn had already left the gym after their morning training. Flynn had been grinning and promising to post the pictures of Scott on the carousel all over town, and Scott had been throwing towels. Summer had looked meaningfully at Ziggy before nodding toward Dillon. So she must know. He stood by the benches in dark sweatpants that were a size too big and a green tank top, and Dillon was still over there hitting the heavy bag, and that guy just looked huge all of a sudden. Ziggy swallowed. It's not gonna be that bad, he told himself again. It's not even gonna be that bad.

He glanced at the door again to make sure everyone was really gone. They were. He popped his fingers.

Dillon was punching the bag without rhythm, just hitting hard, again and again. Ziggy came up behind him. Got close enough to tap him on the shoulder. "Hey, Dillon?"

With an annoyed huff, Dillon whirled around. He didn't get a chance to say anything before Ziggy punched him in the face.