Wow

Disclaimer: I don’t own what we don’t own, including but not limited to Power Rangers.

Author’s Notes: Needed to write something for Trent and Kira. Couldn't NOT do it. So, here's a drabble, inspired by a theme challenge I got off the site Ars Amatoria: Celebrating Ranger Romance. Hope you enjoy. Happy Valentine's Day!

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[Reaction | Smile | Distraction | Take My Hand | Green-Eyed Monster | Dawn | Secrets | Dream | Friends | Confidence | Why? | Beautiful | Game | Album | Helm | Closer (NC-17) | Fight | Duty | Routine | Darkness | Patience | Worst-Case Scenario | Gift]
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Reaction

Set during Wave Goodbye.

Kira let her legs dangle over the edge of the stage, humming an errant tune and tuning her guitar in a way that could only be described as nitpicking. Being as short as she was, her feet dangled at least five inches from the floor, but she was used to it.

It had been two days since Hayley's offer of an audition. Two days. Two days of preparing- it wasn't often her band had managed to snag a gig. Mostly they were stranded in garages, being yelled at by prissy neighbors who didn't like "grunge rock" and stupid arguments about who had taken the last soda. A lot of the gigs they tried to land had a tendency to end badly- either they were too young, or, Kira's personal favorite, was when they were denied because there was a "chick in the band". It was something she knew she'd have to deal with, but it annoyed her to no end.

So, Kira had jumped when Hayley, the female owner of an establishment wanting live entertainment, had offered an audition with possibility of becoming a regular act. People would see them, on a stage! Performing, instead of puttering around a garage and arguing. She frowned. Maybe the drummer would finally get his act together. Kira was dead serious about this, coming to the café every day since, getting a feel for the place, talking with Hayley about possible future gigs, performing sound checks, and just hanging out with the guys. The guys being Conner, Ethan and sometimes Dr. O. Even Hayley joined their soiree from time to time.

However.

Almost lazily, she looked up, not lifting her head, but instead keeping her gaze under the protection of her lashes in case she was seen. Her eyes had a tendency to wander- well, they had more of a tendency to settle on a subject, then wander. Hey, no one said, despite her dedication, that it couldn't come with a few perks.

She'd have to remember to kill Ethan for embarrassing her like he did. After the gig. She was still trying to puzzle out how to kill with the strings of her guitar without actually unstringing it, breaking one, or sullying a brand new one.

Letting out a held breath, her eyes dropped back to the guitar as Trent disappeared into the backroom of the café. Her boring, yellow guitar. It was ironic, really, her guitar being yellow. Plucking a string, she twisted a tuning knob, just so it would look like she was doing something. Make the string flat, make it sharp, fix it, repeat.

Two days of watching Trent from her perch on the stage, tuning her guitar erratically and wondering if she'd ever actually get up the nerve to talk to him. Kira couldn't seem to help herself. He was- just- it- he- he was just... wow. Yes, wow.

Kira frowned at her guitar. Her desire to kill Ethan had just intensified tenfold.

So immersed was she in contemplating murder that she jumped at the sound of the voice beside her. "Guitar giving you trouble?"

"Trent!" Kira somehow managed to keep herself from shrieking. Also considering her newfound powers, that was probably a good thing. She doubted Hayley would appreciate cracked computer screens among shattered dishes.

"Did I scare you?"

"No- I was just- thinking," Kira stammered. "I didn't see you walk over." Why did he? Why is he over here, looking at me, talking to me? And he's smiling! He has a really nice smile. Why is he over here? Breathe- you sing, you KNOW how to breathe!

Her urge to kill Ethan surged a little higher as she recalled his quip about needing an oxygen mask.

"Here," he said, handing her a bottle of apple juice. "Mind if I sit?"

"Huh? Oh! Sure, go ahead."

Trent sat, Kira tensing and looking resolutely at her apple juice bottle. A silence settled over them, the kind of silence when two people are groping for something to say, but haven't the slightest clue what to talk about. The apple juice compelled her, and she latched onto it, the only subject she could think of in her foggy brain, much like a pit bull on a throat. Had she been paying any attention to Trent instead of trying to ignore the fact he was there, sitting there, initiating possible conversation, she might have noticed him shift uncomfortably and wipe his hands on his jeans, as if his palms were sweating.

"Apple juice is good, you know?" she began conversationally. "It's sweet without being sickeningly sweet like grape juice, and orange juice is way too sour- and don't even get me started on cranberry juice. But apple juice, you know? It's sweet and refreshing and doesn't leave too much of an aftertaste. Someone once told me that eating an apple in the morning is better than drinking coffee because it wakes you up better than caffeine, so, you know, apple juice..." Kira trailed off, suddenly realizing she had spent the last couple minutes rambling. About apple juice. She hazarded a glance at Trent, only to find him giving her an odd look- or what she thought was odd. She had no better term, all it did was make stomach do interesting twists- and honestly, it was making her a little seasick. "Yeah," she stammered, setting the bottle down. "I- I like apple juice."

"Nothing wrong with that," Trent replied.

More silence.

"So... how do you like it here in Reefside?"

"It's cool." Trent paused. "Though I could do without the giant killer robots and Godzilla monsters."

Kira let out a laugh. "Yeah, it's unusual." You have no idea, Kira thought dryly. "Like working at the café?"

"Yeah. It's great. It's not too difficult, but I'm also not just sitting around doing nothing. It's fun, and Hayley is great. I really like making the coffee, although the whole overshot, full shot, undershot thing had me stumped for awhile. That, and I think the steamer wand has it in for me- it keeps burning me no matter how hard I try to stay away from it. But I get to experiment with flavors and come up with daily specials...yeah." Trent stopped, looking resolutely away from Kira. She wasn't sure, but it seemed like he was starting to blush.

"What ones do you like?" Kira asked, almost carefully.

"What ones what?"

"Flavors. For coffee."

"Oh! Uh..." Trent paused a moment. "The Kahlua, although the turtle lattes are good, too. I haven't had time to really try them all. You?"

"I don't really like coffee all that much. If I do get something, I'm just really boring and get mochas."

Trent seemed like he was on the verge of saying something, but then backed off. After a few moments, he changed the subject. "How long have you played guitar?"

"Since I was about nine or ten," Kira admitted. She absently twisted a tuning peg, putting her guitar even more out of tune.

"Ah."

Silence.

"...Those guys you were with the other day... Ethan and... Conner?"

"Yeah."

"Friends?"

Kira wasn't sure again, but his voice sounded... hopeful? She paused to consider her answer. "We got a detention together, then..." she trailed off, then shook her head. "It's weird. But I guess friends works."

"I see." A pause. Then, "Have a boyfriend?"

A personal, yet innocent question. Conner had asked her the same question and somehow it had come to blows. Dr. O. had to break them up, and had to coax Ethan out of the corner. "No. You?"

"No. I'm into girls."

Blinking, Kira whipped her head up to look at Trent, who was grinning. He just made a joke. That was good. Right? He just...

"You're weird."

"You're the one who asked if I had a boyfriend."

"That's not what I meant and you know it."

Trent laughed. "No, I don't."

"Okay." Kira returned to her tuning pegs.

The Silence returned, but this time it was much more comfortable. So much so that Kira actually took a moment to actually drink some of her apple juice.

"Playing here on Friday, huh?"

"Yes- it's the first gig my band has had in two months. I'm really looking forward to it."

"I am too."

"You had better."

Trent looked at her, surprised. She looked back. "Okay..." Trent supplied.

"I mean..." Kira ducked her head, face flushing, letting her hair hide this fact. She strummed her guitar, which refused to play the right notes for some reason. "I'd be... disappointed if you didn't... well... you know."

"If I didn't what?"

Kira floundered. Like my music? Want to hear me play? She glowered at Trent. "You know," she said loftily and took another drink of her juice, leaving it at that.

"Well, good thing I won't have to figure it out, since I'm already looking forward to it." Then, he casually and almost nonchalantly bumped her shoulder with his. Kira gasped and managed to inhale apple juice, but fortunately for her, the bells on the door jingled, signaling the arrival of customers.

Getting up as Kira covered her mouth, Trent straightened his shirt. "I'll be back," he said before walking over to greet the patrons.

Once he was far enough away, only then did Kira spit out the demon swallow of juice and let herself cough.

But she was smiling as she did. Or as best one can when they happen to be hacking up apple juice.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Smile

Set during Wave Goodbye.

"I'd like a skinny mocha latte with extra foam, half decaf, with sugar-free vanilla flavoring."

"What size?"

"Tall."

"I'm sorry, we're currently out of that size of cup. Would you like a small or large instead?"

"I'll have a medium."

A growl threatened to burst from Trent's throat. "Would you like the chocolate sugar-free as well?"

"What? No, no chocolate."

"Will that be all?"

"What kind of muffins do you have?"

Trent took a deep breath. "We have apple cinnamon, banana nut, blueberry, bran, chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip, cranberry and lemon poppy seed."

"Don't you usually have pumpkin?"

"I think so, but I believe their seasonal."

"Hmmm..." The lady girl her eyes and was lost in thought for so long Trent almost thought she had fallen asleep. He was mildly startled when she spoke again. "Which one's good?"

"They're all quite delicious."

"Well... which do you like?"

"I'd say the cranberry."

"Are they low fat?"

"I'm not sure."

The girl shrugged. "Okay. I'll hate myself later, but whatever. I'll take a cranberry muffin."

"I'll be back with your order."

Trent muttered to himself, moving around Hayley to get behind the counter. He frowned at the cup stock and, recalling Hayley's instructions, pulled a small cup off the stacks

"Thanks for remembering to push the cranberry muffins," Hayley said from her perch. "I don't think I'll manage to get rid of them otherwise." Trent merely grunted and began grinding coffee beans.

Seven lattes, four cappuccinos and two recitations of their entire stock of pastries, types of cake, and information on things that should just scream "Daily Caloric Intake for the Next Week", Trent finally managed his way back behind the counter. It didn't help that Hayley found it necessary to offer seventeen kinds of donut, eight kinds of muffin, four kinds of bagel, three kinds of cake, and five kinds of dessert breads. How she managed it without a display case was beyond him. Maybe it was a part of his hazing. He saw Hayley wince on her way into the back as he yanked the portafilter from the machine and slammed it against the metal bin in the sink.

Beyond the intensely loud clanging noise, he heard the door jingle open, and he turned, prepared to greet the person with the best customer welcome he could muster at the moment. All that fell away and became genuine when he saw who it was.

"Hey Kira!"

"Hey Trent," Kira greeted, settling onto a barstool.

"How was band practice?"

Kira hesitated a moment, then sagged. "Sucked. Geoff and Smith argued the whole time and Nate never showed up," she replied in a low voice.

"No real practice then, huh?"

"When I start wondering if the word 'band' applies to us, I remember that arguing and ego slinging is integral to the music experience. I'm half expecting a fight to break out because someone's 'holding them back'." Kira snorted and proceeded to droop further against the counter.

"I'm sure everything will work out," Trent said, almost reflexively. "What can I get you? ...Apple juice?"

Pausing, Kira straightened slightly. "...No. No, I think I'll try something different today."

"Okay."

"...What would you recommend?"

"That depends. Hot or cold?"

"Mm... hot?"

"Caffeinated or decaffeinated?"

"Doesn't matter."

"You said you liked mochas?"

"Yeah..."

"What's your favorite flavor shot?"

"I don't know. I've never really had anything else."

"Willing to trust me?" "Not unless you plan on putting watermelon in there."

"Actually, I think that's more for the Italian sodas- but hey, raspberry and orange are good with chocolate in lattes. Anything you don't like? Generally, for flavor or whatever?"

"I had a bad experience as a kid involving almond butter and a pair of scissors. I can't even go near anything remotely like it now." Trent paused in his consideration of syrup flavors to look at Kira. She didn't seem to be recalling anything traumatic, she was apparently just stating a fact. "Hey, can I get a muffin, too?"

"Of course you can. What kind?"

"...Sorry, I can't really remember the kinds. I mean, I've been here a lot and all, but-"

"It's okay," Trent said with a grin. "We have apple cinnamon, banana nut, blueberry, bran, chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip, cranberry and lemon poppy seed."

"How did you remember that so fast? You've been working here, what, four days?"

"Practice. I could also tell you our extensive list of donuts, bagels, cakes, pastries and their caloric intake value for a two thousand calorie diet. The syrups though, are another thing. I think the butterscotch has been dusted, not used."

"Wow. That happen all the time?"

"...Occasionally. So, muffin?"

"I don't know. What kind do you like?"

"Chocolate chocolate chip. But you look like you'd like banana nut more."

"Why do you say that?"

Trent shrugged as he pulled out a bottle and began pulling shots. "Dunno. You look like a banana nut girl to me."

There was a pause as both realized what Trent had just said. "Oh really," Kira replied. "You say that to everyone or just me?"

"Just you. Everyone else I give cranberry."

"Why don't I get cranberry?"

"Because I like you." Trent's expression turned horrified for a split second. "I mean, uh... you're too good for cranberry, you see..."

Kira grinned and fingered the bracelet on her wrist. "Banana nut it is."

Trent retrieved the muffin from its resting place and handed it quickly to Kira. "Back in a moment."

As he turned away from her, Kira checked around for onlookers, but everyone seemed to be minding their own business. Good. She pulled down the paper on her muffin and took a bite. After all, Trent's back was turned, not like he could see her checking him out.

Hayley watched Trent at the espresso machine. He seemed to be taking his time, much more time than he usually did on drinks, of any kind. When she had initially come out from the back and heard Kira start ordering, she had winced and prepared to intervene if necessary. Then she noticed that Trent wasn't getting quietly annoyed like he did with most of the customers; if at all possible, he seemed to be radiating happiness that could only be measured in sunshine units. So she'd watched, with growing amusement, as Trent fawned over Kira. Trent had always displayed excellent customer-service skills... but nothing like this. It was all she could do not to laugh. The banana nut thing nearly sent her into hysterics.

Returning to the counter, Trent handed Kira her beverage. "Here you go."

"Thanks." Kira picked up the cup, viewed it narrowly, then took a cautious sip. "Hey, this is pretty good. What's in it?"

"It's a trade secret."

"Does it have a name, then?"

Trent paused to consider this. "I call it... Trade Secret."

"Huh. Well, I might get that occasionally."

"Occasionally? Only occasionally?"

"I'm not big on coffee, remember?"

"Yeah yeah, sure." Trent smiled. "I remember."

"Uh..." Kira cleared her throat. "How much do I owe-"

"Oh no- don't worry about it."

"Really?" Kira asked, surprised but pleased. "...Thanks. Love the muffin, by the way." With that, Kira hopped off the stool, collected her offerings and headed towards the stage. When Trent turned around, he found Hayley staring down at him with a no-nonsense expression on her face.

"Are we running some special I don't know about?"

Swallowing nervously, Trent replied rapidly.. "Um... I'll pay for it, Hayley, I swear..." The terror in his eyes was simply too much for her; she burst out laughing.

Trent's eyes narrowed as he realized he'd been had. "How long have you been watching?"

"Since 'Hot or cold', but I stayed for the 'You look like a banana nut girl to me'." Hayley raised her eyebrows at Trent. "So, Kira, huh?"

Trent found himself trying to fight off a blush. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said, but he couldn't keep the smile off his face.

"Oh, of course not," Hayley replied. "But for the record, I think you two would be good for each other."

Trent, attempting to pull the portafilter from the machine, nearly kung-fued himself in the head with the burning metal. "What?"

Hayley smirked at him. "Good to see you taking an interest in the customers, at any rate." She clapped a wide-eyed Trent on the shoulder and left him to think as she headed towards a customer who had just begun shouting furiously at one of the computer terminals.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Distraction

Set during... oh, hell if I know...

Sunlight filtered down through the leaves overhead, spotting the soft ground with patches of light. It wove through the trees, appearing like beams of yellow and white smoke through the greens and browns, blacks, grays and creams.

The birds overhead called to one another, faint and high-pitched twitters ranging from "I'm here, where are you?" to "Isn't the weather nice?" The wind brushed the leaves and branches, even managing to catch the larger boughs and undergrowth in its song. It rustled and whistled through the tangle of forest bramble, leaving earthen scents behind. It mingled with the added scent of her shampoo, something distinctly fruit-flavored, but too unspecific to be named.

Her hair was soft, the curl hinting at something stronger than a simple curling iron but nothing heavy or unpleasant as gel. What skin he could feel was smooth, occasionally finding a rough spot, like the fingertips of her left hand. Threading their way into the shortened strands of his hair, her fingers and hands tugged his head down, sending slight and thrilling tendrils of pleasure through him. Lifting herself up slightly, their lips met in a gentle gesture, timid with affection. His arms went around her waist, pulling her warmth closer and completing the embrace. Sight was blocked out in favor of other senses. Both could feel the bite of bark through their clothes and on their skin.

He tasted like peanut butter and...

Kira pulled back. "Have you been eating Reese's Cups?"

Trent looked a bit bemused. "White chocolate ones. Why- is it bad?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Take My Hand
Set after A Test of Trust

Kira hung back with Trent, regarding him worriedly. It was a stupid question she was about to ask, but she had nothing better. She knew why he did what he did. She knew why the others, Conner especially, didn't want to trust him at all. She knew why she did want to trust him, and it all just made it hurt worse. So all she had was a stupid question, unable to say anything else that might matter. "You okay?"

"Not really," Trent replied with a sigh. "Would you be?"

Wincing, Kira could only mutter an apologetic "Probably not." Probably not, no. She wasn't okay either. Angry, hurt, raging with countless feelings she could barely control for the person standing next to her.

A small silence dragged, a tense Trent and a lost Kira, before Trent broke it. "I'm sorry."

The admission startled Kira, and for some reason she felt terrified. "What for?"

"...You know. Everything." Finally, Trent turned to look at her, and his expression made Kira's throat close. But he looked away almost instantly. As if he couldn't bear to look at her, as if at any second he'd vanish. Which he very well could. The idea had Kira leaning over and lacing her fingers with his. Trent twitched, then looked at their clasped hands before looking up at her. They stood like that for a long moment, not moving, not uttering a single word. Slowly, Trent turned Kira's hand over and brought it up to his lips, kissing her palm.

Kira couldn't help but smile a little in response.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Green-Eyed Monster

Set during Thunderstorm Part 1.

The day had been going rather well. Not only had he finally had a decent night's sleep for the first time since he became the renegade Ranger son of a super-villain, his home-ec class was going well, and he was studying with Kira. Which meant they were sitting close, leaning into each other occasionally, being helpful. Studious. And maybe later they could go for a walk, conveniently without Conner or Ethan or anyone as they had been lately, and then Trent could... hope a monster didn't attack? He didn't know. Trent just knew he was enjoying himself.

"Trent?" Kira suddenly nudged him with her elbow. "Does that guy at the bar look familiar to you?"

Reluctantly, Trent looked up from his book he was only just managing to turn another page on, despite having been studying for at least an hour. Following her gaze, he frowned. "You mean the one in the blue hat? Not really- why?"

"I'm sure I've seen him before."

Trent let out a noise of disbelief. "Well, go ask."

"I'm not going to just go up to some guy I don't know."

Fighting not to roll his eyes, Trent replied like a disgruntled prom queen. "Okay... can we get back to studying, then?" Kira gave a slight nod, but it didn't seem like she had heard Trent; she just kept watching the guy in blue. Intently. Too intently for Trent's tastes. Trent sighed inwardly and tried not to start glaring at the guy in the blue hat. Didn't he know it was rude to wear hats inside? "It's driving you crazy, isn't it."

Kira made an affirmative noise, nodding vehemently. She squirmed unconsciously, jostling Trent as he looked at her. "Go ask," he repeated. Biting her lip, Kira glanced at Trent a moment before throwing her books off her lap and jumping off the couch.

Trent watched her go, slapping his book shut. No point in trying to study right now, he guessed. After all, Kira was talking to some random guy she maybe recognized. Maybe convincing her to talk to him had been a bad idea. He was almost sure of this. Who knew what the guy would try to do to her? He could be some sleazeball with a thing for jail bait, despite looking about their age. He could be a murderer, a monster in disguise, a gold digger, or someone with a sense of humor. Was he Kira's type? Did Trent even really know what Kira's type was? Not like it mattered, not as if they were going out or anything- they just hung out a lot. Sometimes alone. Alone being without Conner or Ethan or Dr. O around. Or anyone else. Did that mean anything?

No, it didn't matter. Honest. He needed to focus. Kira would talk to the guy in blue, and if the guy in blue did anything untoward Kira, Trent would throw him out. Out a window. Trent liked this idea.

"Hey," Kira settled against the coffee bar, trying to appear nonchalant, but Trent could easily tell how tense she was. The guy in blue looked at her. "Do we know each other?"

"No, I don't think so." Trent stiffened when he caught the guy looking Kira up and down. So Kira was pretty, that didn't mean Blue Hat Boy had to look at her like that. It was uncalled for. Trent made his fingers relax so he could unbend the spine of his book. "I'm Blake, this is Jesse." The guy in blue motioned to himself then to the guy standing next to him.

"Blake- you just look so familiar to me."

Blake removed his hat and tossed it aside. As if seeing his face without shadow would help. "Do you follow motocross?"

"No- why? Is that what you do?" At that moment, someone wandered up, clamoring for an autograph. Trent felt his eyes narrowing as Blake dealt with the guy, swiftly signing a notebook thrust into his chest before handing his hat over to the awestruck fan as Kira watched. What the hell? Trent started flipping through his book absently, an odd burning flaring up in his chest the longer he watched Kira talking to this pretty boy, mainstream version of a Hell's Angels member. It was disgusting.

"...Okay, so you're famous for riding a motorcycle?" Good. Kira had no idea who this pretentious little wanna-be celebrity was. Good. Good.

Looking back at his friend- or was that his agent? Did someone racing bikes across a dirt path need an agent?- and back at Kira again, Blake acknowledged her confusion. "Hey, don't be so surprised," he said, giving her arm a pat. Trent felt himself tensing, ready to launch off the couch at any moment as that burning in his chest grew brighter. But he stayed, pretending to read the fuzzy dots on the pages of his book as Blake made his way over to the foosball table.

Kira followed him. "Oh- no, I just didn't know you could be famous for that."

Pausing, Blake turned back towards her. "Well, why don't you come see for yourself?"

That caught Trent's attention. The fuzzy, letter-like dots blurred into nonsense grays and he looked up slowly. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Was this guy actually trying to hook up with Kira? It wasn't possible. This guy wore too much blue, and everyone knew blue was Ethan's color. Unless, of course, she liked blue and had never told him. Trent found his mood worsening. "The Nationals are this week at Reefside MX Park. Bring some friends; I'll get you some passes."

Kira looked startled. Blake waited. Trent tried not to rip his book in half.

"Are you asking me out?" Kira finally asked. Trent shook his head at this, suddenly milliseconds away from gently putting his book down and escorting Blake out via chokehold when Blake let out an amused laugh.

"No, it's nothing like that. Look, part of being a rider is spreading the word of our sport. Without that no one would come out on their own. I promise you, you'll totally be into it."

Kira hesitated for a fraction of a second. "Okay."

"Here you go," Blake's friend-agent-yes-man said, handing Kira some papers. Did this Blake guy have passes on tap? Did he always use things like this to pick up chicks? "Hey baby, I ride motorcycles, wanna come watch?" Trent could barely contain his disgust now. But maybe he was wrong. Maybe this whole thing was totally innocent. Trent did know one thing, though; if Blake the Motorcycle Celebrity wandered into a dark alley, Trent the White Dino Ranger would make this world short one Motocross Rider.

Kira thanked Blake, smiling brightly at him as she finally returned to the couch.

Blake watched her as she sat back down, allowing Trent to catch his eye. Freezing, the smile dropped off Blake's face and he seemed to pale a little. An expression of confusion and fear blanketed his features before he jerked his gaze away and turned back around. After a moment's pause, Blake suggested to Jesse that they instead sit down and led his promotions guy off to a table clear across the cafe and out of sight.

Both Kira and Trent watched them go. Once she was sure they were out of earshot, Kira turned to Trent. "Can you believe that just happened?"

Pasting on what he was hoping was an expression of good will and peace, Trent un-grit his teeth and replied. "Aren't you glad you went to talk to him?"

"Yeah..." Kira frowned. "But I still can't figure out where I've seen him from before, though."

Great. Now she would just be thinking about Blue Hat Boy all day. Probably even wanted to talk about it. But as much as that irritated Trent, Little Boy Blue probably wasn't even a threat. After all, he rode motorcycles, and it wasn't like girls were into that. Girls liked sensitive guys, like artists. Kira was an artist. Blue Hat Boy ran away like a wimp, too. He was nothing to worry about. Trent wasn't concerned. Not at all.

Twitching slightly, Trent tried to find the right page in his book. "I'm sure it'll come to you."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dawn

Set after Thunderstorm Part 2. I'm sure of it.

Trent situated his sketchbook in front of him, studying, intent on his design. He drew everything, mostly figures from comic books, but anything took his fancy, really. It just depended on his mood.

What was this feeling?

Inspiration struck him at odd angles. Sometimes it he would sit and stare for hours, other times he couldn't seem to draw enough. Other times nothing came out quite right, and others everything came out too perfect.

He remembered being overshadowed, the darkness over his thoughts, his whole being. Had that monster really been him? His mind seemed to overfilling with guilt, anger and despair. It lingered still, harbored in his chest, making in hard to breath at times.

"Can I see?"

Her voice carried over musically, flitting easily through the cavern of thought he was currently trapped in. He looked up, smiling.

She was like golden rays of sunshine breaking through the night, pulling the day with it. She broke into his memories, clear as a brightening sky, making the darkness melt inch by inch. He slid his sketchbook over to her and she picked it up, studying it.

He could never figure out what he liked so much about her. Couldn't figure out a single thing. She was just there. Sometimes he felt this so strongly that he was afraid to touch her, as if all of his emotions, all of his memories, his heart and soul would simply flow into her and he'd die. Other times, he felt the opposite, like he might die if he didn't touch her.

"I really like this one," Kira said, holding up the sketchbook and tapping one of the drawings to show him before returning to muse over the sketches again. Trent let his chin fall into his palm as he watched her.

How could a feeling like this not bring light to his world?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Secrets

Set after Truth and Consequences.

There was something Kira never told anyone. Something that slipped through the cracks, drowned out by larger concerns. Nobody noticed; if they had, someone would have said something by now. She didn't want to think about how her friends might worry if they knew, how they might lecture her, spreading their advice and opinions around like cheap margarine. Or maybe they would understand, she didn't know. And she would never know; this secret was hers to keep.

Her secret was so simple it was almost amusing. It was stashed between her mattresses where few people were bound to look, only taken out when the house was quiet and her door was locked. When she first acquired it, she had been shaken, needing something to hang onto, anything to say she wasn't losing her mind. She never looked at it, just felt its presence a few inches below her, waiting.

The day she first opened and actually looked at it had been after a battle. After everything with the meteorite, then Trent had deceived them. Somehow him pretending to be good made everything seem so much worse. But she plowed through, surprising herself with unknown strength and composure.

When she got home, however, Kira barricaded herself in her room, shaking and miserable. Something was clearly wrong with her. She tore into her bed, searching until she removed the desired object from between the box spring and mattress, its cover slightly torn from the bed shifting when she slept. Collapsing next to her bed, she drew her knees up and settled the sketchbook on her legs, pleading and praying that whatever was in there was even a little proof that this wasn't him, that she wasn't wrong, that they could still help him, that he could still help himself, anything, please...

Turning over the cover and first page, the images were incomplete and half-hidden by foundation lines. Bodies without faces, grainy and smudged. Kira found herself rubbing a little at the pencil marks before moving on. Page by page, the drawings didn't seem to change much. Some surprised her by being fully finished, inked and occasionally colored. Other pages seemed abandoned, a lonely face, hand or torso left adrift in a sea of white. The drawings were stylized, fluttering across the pages like they were loathe to be still, but a few were attempts at realism. They were people in various stages of living, wandering or sitting in light and shadows. One page even revealed a drawing of herself and Ethan sitting at a table, so startling Kira she nearly ripped the page.

Finally, the pages gave way to his alter-ego, images of the person they now fought. The lines were heavier, darker, and they seemed to embed themselves into the paper, as if angry. Another page, and a shred of ripped paper marked the space between full and empty pages.

Kira found herself closing her eyes and swallowing hard. She remained like that for several minutes, trying to breathe past the constricting in her chest before something occurred to her. Her eyes flew open and she began groping through the top drawer of her nightstand, looking for pencil, pen, marker, a broken crayon, anything. Eventually her hand closed on a pen and she yanked it out. Turning the old pages back with the covers, Kira began to write, pouring her thoughts onto the untouched pages. Maybe her ideas were a little darker than usual, but she wasn't exactly feeling lighthearted at the moment. Strains of a melody picked at her brain and suddenly she found herself humming, making notes next to the disjointed words.

The first half of the book was his; the second was hers now. And nobody had to know.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dream

Set after Truth and Consequences.

Long hallways, half in shadow, half a glaringly bright white. Some idiot had decided the floor needed a fresh coat of paint; it was like a child's game of Lava to keep from marring the floor. People were motioning to her from doorways, but every time she reached one, it would slam shut, throwing an aura of silence out into the air. She reached the end of the hall too soon, so she turned around to double back when she found herself outside. The cafe to her right, brick walls reaching up to unfathomable heights to her left. The sky above her was white, glinting with stray silvers and grays. It took her a moment to realize that the cafe was burning, the flames white-hot as if someone had set off a thousand stage pyrotechnics off within the building.

Kira ran. Ran from the building, the twisting spiral of fire, the walls. Overhead, the Dragozord swooped down suddenly, causing her to duck, drop and roll purely on reflex. She stumbled, and someone caught her as she fell. Surprised, Kira turned and stared. Trent gave her a sheepish smile. "I'm sorry I made you worry."

Kira blinked. Was she worried? Yes, she was. She was so worried about him she almost wanted to kill him for making her worry so much. Punch him, hug him, anything. But before she could say a word, Trent pulled away from her. "There's something I have to do. Wait for me here."

Wait? No, don't wait! Didn't he know what was going to happen? Kira scrambled to grab at the retreating Trent, wanting to scream at him not to go, but her vocal chords were impotent, empty. She grasped at air and started after him, but he vanished, and Kira had no idea where to look.

She found herself heading back towards the cafe, the way there winding and dangerous, unlike when she had left. When she found it, the fire had died, powdery gray smoke spilling from all its pores. Kira bolted to the entrance and had to force the doors open. Smoke got in the way of her vision for a moment when she edged her way inside, only to clear when she was fully indoors.

The cafe was in shambles. Chairs and tables were overturned, what computers remained intact were dark and silent. The coffee bar was covered in shattered glass and sticky syrups and espresso poured heedlessly from the machine in the back. A light or two flickered overhead, sickly and dying. What other light there was poured from broken windows, cracked and jagged.

An explosion rocked the cafe, nearly throwing Kira to the floor. There was a horrible wrenching sound as the roof was torn open, the head of the Dragozord peering in like a dragon intent on kidnapping a damsel. Then she was moving, morphing, summoning her Zord as she ran back outside so she wouldn't do further damage. As her Pterodactyl swooped towards her, she leapt, lighting on top of it instead of inside of it. They crashed into the red-eyed Dragozord, rolling it over the remnants of the cafe roof. The Zord, seemingly void of any pilot, shrieked angrily and tore after them.

Kira turned to see where the bird of prey was behind them, when she came face to face with the White Dino Ranger. He reached out, gripping Kira by the throat before flinging her bodily outwards. She hit the armored plating of her Zord hard, sliding over and down the planed side before she managed to stop her fall. The White Ranger loomed over her, his weapon in hand and he tapped it over his shoulder just before he-

The switch was abrupt. One moment Kira was clutching the edge of her Zord, the next she was staring out from her pillows. Her skin felt like it had been stretched too tightly over her bones, her head burned and she was still clutching the air in front of her. Being awake didn't feel any better- Kira just felt like crying, but she felt too dry and empty to do so.

Then who she was, where she was, and who she had dreamed of sank in. Groaning, Kira shut her eyes again and clutched at her pillow instead.

Being awake definitely did not help.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friends

Set after Truth and Consequences.

He found her sitting outside, staring at her hands.

It was he who first noticed Kira was missing. Not that that was strange, but when one dealt with monsters and kidnapping on a nearly daily basis, one tended to be a touch paranoid. He had asked Ethan if he had seen Kira anywhere, but Ethan didn't know if she had even come to school.

Unable to control the nagging feelings, Conner obtained a hall pass from his second period teacher (or A Stay of Execution, as Ethan had called them), intent on finding a nook to hide in so he could safely call Kira.

A spot of yellow outside caught his attention, and when he turned to look, he saw her sitting on one of the picnic tables that were only swarming with kids during lunch. Switching directions to the closest set of doors, Conner made his way out.

Her entire form was slumped, her torso hanging over her criss-crossed legs, hair falling like a curtain over her face. Her shirt and jeans were rumpled, like she had accidentally grabbed from her dirty laundry or left them in the dryer overnight. "Hey."

Kira jumped at the sound of his voice and let out a yelp. Turning, she glared at him. "Conner! Don't sneak up on me like that!"

But Conner was shocked. Kira's eyes were red-rimmed and puffy, her face was pale which only made the circles under her eyes darker. "Have you been crying?"

Glare intensifying, Kira replied with, "Shouldn't you be in class?"

"Shouldn't you?"

A moment later, her face was hidden by her hair again. "I wasn't crying. I just had a really bad night, okay?"

Conner hopped up on the table next to her, settling his feet on the bench. "Can't sleep?"

"Nightmares."

"What about?" When Kira didn't respond, Conner sighed. "Kira, come on. You can tell me. I'm just worried about you." It took another moment or two before Kira finally answered. When she did, her reply was soft, but Conner could still hear her. "Trent? Are you serious? That jerk doesn't deser-" Conner stopped when he saw Kira turning her head away. Reevaluating his thoughts, he realized he was more confused at her and angry at Trent. It didn't make any sense. Why would she be this distraught over him if it were just a crush? It was just a crush, right? Unless...

Conner wasn't intending to ask her. But when he looked at her, curled upon herself, an emotional and physical mess, the words simply ripped out of his mouth. "Are you in love with him?"

Kira jerked as if struck. She stared at Conner, wide-eyed, completely knocked off guard. "I.. I don... I mean- I haven't known him that long..." Kira dropped her gaze and swallowed hard. "I feel... I feel like I shouldn't." Conner suddenly felt horrible for saying anything, wanting to both kick himself and kick Trent's face in now.

Suddenly, Kira's voice was back, cracking a little at first. "I can still fight!" she proclaimed, looking back at Conner.

Conner stared back at her. "Well, duh." Kira looked at him for a moment longer before nodding, seeming relieved. Considering the school for a moment, its walls, halls, and principal from Hell stalking the stairwells, he returned his attention back to Kira. "Wanna do something? Randall will find us out here if we stay too long."

Kira gave Conner a surprised look. "You're ditching?"

Conner shrugged. "You're ditching- and you seem like you could use a friend right now."

Thinking about this, Kira gave a shrug of her own before jumping off the table. "What did you have in mind?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Confidence

Set after Back in Black, but before Golden Boy.

"Here you go," Trent said, setting the raspberry smoothie in front of Conner.

"Thanks man." The exchange was common, only this time something changed. Trent didn't leave. He seemed to be hovering, which caught Conner's attention again. "What?"

"Can I ask you something?"

"Okay..."

"I'm thinking about asking Kira out."

Conner blinked, taken aback. When Trent didn't go on, Conner raised his eyebrows at him. "Is that all? Cause you don't need my permission to date Kira-"

Trent rolled his eyes. "Right- no, I'm wondering if you have any advice for me."

Ah. That made much more sense. Kind of. Actually, people rarely asked Conner for advice outside the soccer field, so it was strange. But Trent wanted advice, so Conner would imbrue him with all the knowledge he had on Kira and potential dates. "Stay out of arm's reach, just in case, but I think you'll be fine."

"Why's that?"

Conner shrugged and took a pull off his smoothie. "Something Ethan said- something about her calling you a 'wow'."

Trent stared at Conner, not entirely sure how to take this. "Wow?"

"I'm assuming it's complimentary, so yeah. Go for it." Nodding, Trent began moving out from behind the coffee counter when Conner stopped him. "Oh, dude? You hurt her, and I'll beat you to death like a superhero putting the smack down on an evil villain."

Trent gave him a cheerful look. "I figured as much. Wish me luck."

Conner took another drink of his smoothie as Trent approached Kira and turned to watch.

Kira looked up as Trent approached her. "Hey Trent," she greeted, smiling warmly at him.

Trent smiled back. "Wanna go out sometime?"

Jerking in surprise, Kira's eyes widened almost comically. "Wha?"

"'Cause I was thinking we could catch a movie. Saturday. You don't really seem like a romantic comedy kind of girl, but I will sit through one if I have to."

"Uhu gh? I uh... I..."

"But there's a nine o'clock showing of Kill Bill, and I thought it looked like a movie we'd both like, and I thought we could get some food or coffee before that, though I prefer food because I'm around coffee all day. What do you think?" There was a long pause. "Yes or no?" Trent prompted.

Kira was still staring, her stammering the only thing between her and complete catatonia. With supreme, gut-wrenching effort, Kira managed to drag a word out of the bowels of her brain and fought with it until she managed to shove it past her vocal chords. "Yes."

Trent blinked at her. "Yes?"

Kira fought the urge to start glaring at him. She had managed to choke out one word- he needed to hear it again? "Yes."

"So what time should I pick you up?" Kira stared at him. "Six sound good?"

"Yes," Kira replied. She wasn't sure, but she was almost certain she heard Conner giggling in the background.

"Cool. I'll see you- here, then?"

"Yes." Another giggle from the background.

"Cool." And Trent was simultaneously rushing yet trying not to look like he was rushing into the back before his legs gave out from nerves.

Conner watched him nearly collapse into the back room before hopping off his stool and strolling over to Kira. He sat down next to her, and she glared at him, wary.

Taking another drink of his smoothie, Conner grinned at Kira. "Trent and Kira, sitting in a tree-" was all he got out before Kira started punching him repeatedly in the arm.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Why?

Set after Copy That but before A Star is Torn.

To say Trent had been expecting it would have been a flat out lie. The White Dino Gem had been freed of its evil encoding, he had finally regained control of his impulses, and he was keeping a secret from everyone. But then again, how do you tell everyone your father is Darth Vader? Well, really, his father was more like the Emperor as far as rank, and Zeltrax was more of a Dar- no! It wasn't important.

After everything that had happened, he felt like he was walking around on eggshells. True, Conner, Ethan and Kira had agreed to let him on the team and Hayley had rehired him. He was also showering at school and catching naps in the back of the cafe in lieu of going home, but it was a small price to pay while his dad shifted between human and Jurassic dinosaur experiment. Going home right now wasn't really an option.

Aside from being a teammate and classmate and occasional study partner, Kira didn't really enter into anything. Or rather, he wished she didn't. After his falling to the dark side, Trent felt like he had too much to make up for. There were too many things he didn't deserve, and honestly? Kira was one of those things. Even if it was very difficult to ignore the fact that she was a pretty girl. Who wanted to help him. A pretty girl that made it very difficult for him to ignore the fact that he was a teenage boy.

The night it happened he agreed to walk Kira home from Dr. O's house. She had asked him sweetly, almost too sweetly he now realized, and he had agreed, despite Dr. O's house being a ways out of town and his own reservations. Conner and Ethan were mildly surprised, but simply told Trent not to let Kira get kidnapped again and left it at that. Dr. O was a little more reluctant, insisting that Conner could give them all a ride like usual, or that he could drive them back home. Kira was steadfast, however, pointing out that the worst that could happen would be they were attacked by Mesogog's minions- and who usually took care of that? Eventually Dr. O relented and they were allowed to leave.

It wasn't until they were out of sight of Dr. O's house and Conner had driven past them, Ethan waving merrily at them from the passenger side that Kira finally broke the silence that had been surrounding them. "Trent."

"Yeah?"

"Why haven't you kissed me yet?"

The question struck Trent in the back of the head, causing him to stumble. Eyes wide, he turned towards Kira, unable to quite process what she had just asked outside the initial shock. "Huh?"

Kira hadn't paused. Walking right up to the stumbling Trent, she stopped when they were only a few inches apart. Staring. Intently. Trent's heart started hammering and he found it was suddenly very difficult to breathe. She stared at him a few moments more before speaking again. "Why haven't you kissed me yet?"

Trent's mind turned an ironic shade of white. He tried to form coherent words, but they seemed more intent on slamming into one another until the letters were jumbled and their meanings lost. "I, uh... I don't... um..." Trent blinked rapidly and shook his head a little. "Didn't you want to go home?" he asked helplessly, the only full sentence he could manage. This wasn't right. She shouldn't be asking things like this! It wasn't fair, it really wasn't.

Kira's eyes narrowed slightly. Trent felt like she was simply studying him harder as opposed to getting angry, which made him even more uneasy. "You can just tell me."

Could he? Could he really do that? Granted, he had managed to tell her his secrets before, but now? Now his secrets were darker, stemming from more than just his dad being the evil they all fought. No, not his dad. Mesogog, who controlled his dad. It was unnerving. Terrifying. Truth of the matter was, Trent was terrified. "I... it's complicated, okay?"

"When is it ever not complicated?" Kira asked. Trent remained impassive. "So you won't kiss me."

"No."

"Even though I want you to."

"I'm sorry." Stupid stupid stupid stupidstupidstupidstupid... And suddenly words came pouring out. "It's not that I don't want to. It's just that after everything that happened, I don't feel like I can."

Kira's eyes had widened at this admission. She took in every word, seeming to filter each one separately before responding in a rather flat tone. "Are you serious? After everything that happened, you don't feel like you can just kiss me?"

"...Yeah?" Trent wasn't sure why, but he had the feeling that Kira didn't find his reasons acceptable. He had to be wrong, though.

"So," Kira thought for another moment before continuing, "you can't kiss me because of this?" Kira took the wrist he wore the bracelet that held his Dino Gem and held it up for him to see. She considered the gem. "You know, I didn't want my gem either."

"I'm not sure that's the same as what happened to me."

Kira met his eyes again. "Is it? Did you want your Gem? Or did it just choose you against your will? Were you evil because you were fighting us?"

"How about when I tricked you guys into thinking I was good again? I remember that, you know-"

"Trent, you need to forgive yourself for that! We've forgiven you for that- that wasn't you! That was Mesogog and his mad scientist dinosaur routine!"

"How do you know that wasn't me? You don't know the first thing about me!"

Stopping dead, Kira stared at Trent, astonished, even hurt. Trent felt like punching himself. "I just want to be there for you. Why won't you let me?"

"I don't deserve it. I don't deserve you. I'm not good enough for any of this." Trent seemed to be talking to their hands, their fingers having tangled together at some point. He wasn't paying much attention to his words in self defense as he couldn't stop them. He felt like an idiot.

Kira stared at him in disbelief. "Yes you do. And are." Trent's eyes snapped back to Kira's face. He didn't get a chance to speak, because the next moment, Kira was closing back in, forcing Trent to straighten as he didn't want to back away. "So, if you can't kiss me, can I kiss you?"

Trent almost laughed. "Is that all you can think about?"

"Kissing you?" Kira had the grace to look embarrassed, but she didn't back away. "More or less." There was a pause. "Well?"

"...You're not going to take no for an answer, are you."

Kira shook her head. "No," she replied before closing the final bit of space between them.

As Kira pulled his head down and they tried to figure out the best way their lips fit together, Trent suddenly couldn't remember a single reason why this was wrong. He was just a boy with a girl on a dark, rural road with the ever impending threat of monster attack not five hundred feet from their teacher's house. Neither Trent or Kira would have it any other way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Beautiful

Set during A Star is Torn.

"So, what was it you wanted to show me?"

The moment had finally come and Kira found herself balking. She had shown everyone her music video, desperate to know if they all thought it was as horrible as she did. Everyone but Trent, that is, who had yet to see it. Trent, the first person she ran to find the instant a professional approached her about her music. Who was too busy then but wasn't busy now. Who was looking at her expectantly, patiently, and she was so terrified he might actually like it that she wouldn't know what to do and now she was thinking this was the worst idea she ever had.

"Just a second. I need to find it," she replied as nonchalantly as she could, innocently wiping her hands on her skirt before digging through the CDs surrounding the computer in Dr. O's lab. She never took it back after giving the disc to Hayley, which afforded her one comfort: a neutral zone.

It took her a few moments to find it, discovering it had never been taken out of the disc drive. "Tell me what you think," she said as she let the disc retract. Kira then found herself backing away from the screen, not wanting to see Trent's reaction. Trent, who was shrugging out of his jacket and sitting down as the video started to play.

Kira winced as the music video began. She fought the urge to cover her face in shame by simply sitting on her hands. What had that guy been trying to do to her, anyway? It had taken her ages to get her hair back to normal- her head still hurt from being up in that gelled monstrosity. And the music! Were they trying to turn her into a female, cyberpunk version of...

Glancing at Trent, who was watching the video with rapt attention and narrowing eyes, Kira suddenly found herself wanting nothing more that to crush that damn disc under her boots. While listening to Nine Inch Nails. It would feel poetic. Was Trent watching the whole video? No one else had- not even her. Oh god.

Sitting there was torture. She was too anxious to be sitting, but if she stood, she'd start pacing. She didn't want to pace, but she didn't want to sit. She didn't want to stand, either. Maybe she'd bolt upstairs and see if Dr. O had found his helmet yet. That would be a good distraction; she was pretty sure she had seen it on the TV stand when she and Trent had come in.

Silence jerked Kira's attention back. Trent was leaning back in the computer chair now, seeming offended, but it was hard to tell. Kira didn't get it. It hadn't taken Conner or Ethan or any one else nearly as long to form an opinion- what was taking him so long? She waited a whole two seconds before speaking. "Well?" she demanded, voice a little higher than she would have liked.

Trent didn't turn around. "It wasn't... horrible."

Wasn't horrible? What did that mean? "Conner said it wasn't me."

"He's right," Trent replied, sliding out of his seat. Kira leapt up eagerly, assuming he was heading for the stairs and needing an excuse to escape, so she was surprised when he suddenly began crowding her against a wall. No, more like shocked. Maybe thrilled? Ever since that night she had practically forced him to kiss her, she had been the only one making any moves and she was starting to think she was forcing her affection onto Trent. Now he was pressed against her, hands clutching her hips, breath heavy on her neck. "The whole time, all I could think about..." Trent trailed off, one hand moving up to push her hair aside before attacking her throat. Kissing and biting.

Oh yeah, Kira was definitely thrilled. "So you liked the video?" She found herself not caring anymore, but it felt necessary to ask. Her hand started sliding up his arms as he growled into her neck.

"No, I didn't. I hate that someone tried to change you like that, I hate that someone took the most beautiful thing in the world and tried to turn-"

The angle was awkward, Kira had to press Trent back a little and dip down, but she could and would kiss him, and that's exactly what she did. For the first time ever since their first kiss, Trent didn't respond slowly or carefully, but passionately. Kira's senses were fading, she had no idea what any part of her was doing, all she knew was that Trent was kissing her in a way she had wanted him to for so long-

"Guys?" Tommy's voice rang out from above, startling them apart. Fortunately they were out of his line of sight, but they wouldn't be if he decided to descend. Trent didn't move away, however, and Kira didn't let him go.

"Yeah, Dr. O?" Kira called out as steadily as she could, both her and Trent watching the staircase warily so they could spring apart if their science teacher decided to enter his super secret lab. Though they both knew it was a bad place to be making out, both were hoping he would go away. Quickly.

Tommy's replied, voice tinged with desperation. "Have either of you seen my helmet?"

Trent and Kira gave each other incredulous looks. "Wasn't that on the TV stand when we came in?" Trent asked her.

Kira pushed against him gently. "Maybe we should go upstairs." As Trent nodded his agreement, she called out to the stairs, "We'll be up in a second!"

"Huh? Oh, uh... okay."

Trent grabbed his jacket and followed Kira up as closely as the stairs would allow him to. She left the disc where it was; maybe someone would take pity on her and microwave it. "So," Trent began easily, "that video- what do you plan on doing about it?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Game

Set after Thunderstruck Part II, but before the first week of June.

Trent and Kira could never agree on when they started dating.

Kira would give you a specific date, complete with anecdote about why this was absolutely true.

Trent would give you a specific date, complete with reasons why it made sense.

There was a minor time discrepancy, however. Kira's date was a good two weeks before Trent's descent into evil, and Trent's was a solid month afterward.

It wasn't very problematic until they decided to try to work it out. Which meant talking about it. Which meant Kira would become offended, and Trent would demand to know why she thought they were dating when he was evil as he couldn't comprehend the idea. She would reply that she didn't think that, and things would roll downhill from there. Sometimes they would realize just how ridiculous they were being, sometimes they didn't.

The latter were harrowing times for their friends and teammates, as this was when they started dragging everyone else into the fray. Conner would groan at them, generally displeased; Ethan would try to solve the problem energetically through mathematics and computer theatrics; Hayley would lecture them about how it shouldn't matter (it didn't really, they knew this); and Tommy would flatly refuse to get in the middle of things, sometimes even going as far as hiding from them.

Then, one day, Conner had an idea.

Conner having an idea, while not truly horrifying (yet), was a normal source of skepticism, especially from Ethan and Kira and sometimes even Trent. Tommy could never say much in response since his ideas fell along the same lines as Conner's more often than he'd like to admit (i.e. waiting out a monster while hiding inside a giant crate of watermelons). Later, Conner would have a track record for solving romantic maladies through bizarre means, but future happenings would not be working in his favor. Not that it was much of a problem to him- he could still teach people how to tango.

Trent and Kira heard him out. Deciding, albeit warily, that they had no better ideas especially since they couldn't seem to compromise, they agreed to Conner's idea. This found them outside on an overcast day in late May, throwing darts at a calendar after being thrown out by Hayley for endangering customers when Kira's aim went awry. They were throwing darts for the better part of an hour, partly due to Conner's inability to be pleased, Ethan's sarcastic remarks from the safety of the cafe doorway, Kira's poor aim and Trent's eventual hysterics.

Eventually, Conner became satisfied with their dart throwing and made them memorize the date they had selected.

Trent and Kira still can't tell you when they started dating. But they know when their anniversary is- or as they like to call it, The Day They Fill Conner's Bed With Spiders.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Album

Before Dino Thunder falling off somewhere inbetween episodes.

Kira wasn't like other girls.

Many people felt like this went without saying. Kira was one of these people, especially since she could never figure out why people would say it in the first place. It wasn't so much that she wanted to be like other girls, it was more because the comment or allusion always felt underhanded. Uncomplimentary. People dragging this into conversation made her think of a time when a friend decided to inform her that guys would pay more attention to her if she was "less Goth."

So she didn't dress in tight, revealing clothes. So she didn't drink constantly or plan weddings or giggle like an airhead or any of that. The phrase still eluded her, and she didn't wear that much black. Clearly her friends and nosy relatives were wrong. She had seen other girls out there like her, albeit infrequently, and they didn't seem to have any trouble. Of course, she could be very wrong, as she didn't know any of these people. She became painfully aware of this when she did attempt to date.

Her first serious attempt came about during her sophomore year. His name was Mark, and he had approached her about a month into the school year. Kira was flabbergasted, elated, every positive word she could think of, but mostly she was glad she could stick it to her not-so-supportive friends. Everything seemed perfect. He was sweet, kind, brought her flowers, and he seemed very interested in her- but he kept referring to her as "Sweet Cheeks" and not by her name. Actually, that should have been a tip off when Kira really thought about it. This serenity lasted a grand total of two days. Two days before he started asking her questions. Questions like "Why do you wear so much black?" and "What do you do for fun?" Kira's personal favorites were "Don't you have any good music?" and "Do you think that chick is hot?"

Kira was confused. Could he not see her when she played her guitar? What the hell did he mean by "good music" anyway- her music collection could fill a swimming pool- what the hell did he mean by that? No, she did NOT think other girls were hot, and she did not wear that much black! Why was he bothering? Come to think of it, why was she bothering? It lasted a week before she dumped him in utter disgust. Mark's parting comment after the inevitable fight was "That's fine- I don't date lesbians anyway!" This left Kira burning with humiliation. Was this how people saw her? She didn't think so, but she wasn't about to ask, lest it be true. So she closed herself up in her room for another week, raging and listening to angry punk before she could shake the feeling.

The second serious attempt came closer to the end of the same year. His name was Randy, a senior, and he tried very hard to get in her good graces. Dropping lines of all kinds, most of which were intensely embarrassing. But he wouldn't stop, so eventually she agreed to go out with him. The change once she accepted made her head spin with confusion. Suddenly he was ignoring her in public, even going as far as to become testy and annoyed when she tried to talk to him at school. But in private he was sweet and attentive. Only in private, though. Said something about how no one needed to know what they did. In fact, he was so good at keeping secrets he managed to cheat on her twice before she found out. Needless to say, she dumped him like yesterday's breakfast.

More angry punk played over the summer. She was getting some excellent song material from this, as well.

The third attempt came sometime in the middle of her junior year. His name was Steve, and it started out as light chatting at their lockers. She recognized him from her year and thought he was nice, but was still really unsure, especially after Randy. Things grew naturally, and eventually they were just together. Kira still isn't sure how it happened, but it happened and that was all. Steve kept trying to get her to go all the way with him, but she resisted, not entirely sure she was ready. He was patient, and after awhile Kira was comfortable enough with herself that things did start to happen.

Unfortunately, the night things started to happen, her parents came home early. Kira freaked, Mrs. Ford freaked, and Steve was chased out of the house by an angry Mr. Ford and a lamp. This dissolved into a stern lecture and a two hour conversation about "The Birds and Bees." Kira wasn't sure if she'd ever recover. Steve wanted to try again, but Kira was too freaked out now, and this lead to him dumping her a week later, because hey, he had needs.

Angry punk met the sonorous sounds of death metal. Kira wallowed in it.

By the time her senior year rolled around, Kira was feeling wretched as far as dating went, a veritable miscreant within her age group- and now, with the bizarreness of superherodom being thrust at her, it was even harder. But that didn't stop her, not really. Maybe she hung back a little more now, and maybe the fact that she refused to stop wearing black didn't help, but she didn't care.

That's why getting to know Trent was so difficult. Not difficult in the sense that talking to him was hard- actually, it was probably the easiest thing she ever experienced after she got over her initial blast of superficial admiration. No, it was because he was nice. And sweet. And attractive, which, let's face it, was a definite bonus. Kira felt like there was mutual attraction, but she was afraid to consider it, because there was that nameless doubt, the one that wondered if he was like every other guy. Which was horrible, because this was the first time she ever wanted to just touch someone, lose herself in one person, wrap herself in it, and Kira could not stop thinking about it. She could usually deal with it fairly well unless he snuck up on her.

So the day he said to her "You're not like other girls," Kira was instantly on edge, ready to bolt, but at the same time, wanting to hear him out. So she asked him what he meant. The ensuing explanation dealt with the musing on how easy it was to get a girl drunk and get them to go home with you- not that he had ever done anything like that, Trent admitted in a panic when he had seen Kira's expression. Kira had rolled her eyes, allowing his obvious cover-up to slide before replying that she'd try to see that as a compliment.

Trent paused for a moment before telling her that she should before a customer called him away. This left Kira sitting at her table, at a loss, wondering what she should do. All of her effort suddenly seemed worth it but all she could do was watch Trent's retreating form.

Kira wasn't like other girls, and for once, it didn't feel all that bad.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Helm

Before Dino Thunder ending at Wave Goodbye.

Trent was like most people.

It wasn't that he was charismatic or anything of the sort. There was just something in his nature that made people feel comfortable. He wasn't judgmental, critical, he didn't even talk too much and never really understood why people liked him so much. People didn't flock to him, everyone just knew who he was. So Trent was just "that cool guy" who liked to have fun.

This was his main point in life. He lived with his parents, who liked to ship him off to his Great Aunt Maria's when they were going on long business trips, which was fairly often. She had three chihuahuas, Atticus, Hezekiah and Lolita, that did not like him, if the bite marks proved anything.

His parents, while not very attentive, did try. Things like "Sit up straight," "Eat your vegetables," "Use your fork properly," "Think about your future," were often spoken, but were never demonstrated. Trent would sit properly, eat properly, try not to think about the limp, lifeless green he was shoveling into his mouth and would think about what he'd like to do with his life. At some point he decided he wanted to have fun.

Some people viewed his version of "fun" as criminal- mostly authoritative types, like teachers and business owners and police officers. He thought nothing of skipping his boring school classes with the dictator-like teachers and the ravening students trying so hard to fit in and drag everyone down with them. He and his friends would wander around, doing whatever they felt like. Some liked skateboarding, some liked smoking, some liked drinking excessively, while he liked vandalizing. There was something about graffiti art he enjoyed, and he figured if you were going to deface property, you might as well go all out and not just cop out with some little gang symbol that no one could decipher. He was picked up several times for vandalism.

He skipped so much school in eighth grade, however, that he was held back a year. Despite the authoritarian accusations that he didn't care and that he would have to "step up and take things seriously if he wanted a fruitful life," it did bother him. Being held back brought to mind some of his friends' parents, the ones that let themselves spread on the couch, unshowered, unable to help with their fourth-grader's homework when they even bothered to try. Never mind the fact that he was now stuck in that waste of a building for another year. Needless to say, Trent started showing up to class on a nearly regular basis.

After this, something seemed to change. Something started feeling wrong. It wasn't his Aunt Maria dying- it bothered him, but what bothered him more was that his parents brought the three Hell Hounds home with them. Maybe it was the alcohol he consumed- either not enough or never the right kind, never pausing despite the few instances where it nearly got him killed, arrested or both. Maybe it was the people he hung out with; between the raging alcoholics and the potheads he preferred the latter; less of a chance that someone would puke on his shirt again and there was always food, but sitting around stoned bothered him. Maybe it was the girls who propositioned him or vice versa. He tried dating a few of them but after awhile all they ever seemed to know how to do was whine, simper, wail and complain with obnoxiously loud, grating voices. Every time he heard one of his buddies say something about how they were going to do this forever, he felt something akin to disbelief, maybe even horror. At some point Trent realized he had become bored with how his life was going, bored, disillusioned, sick and tired of it. A change was needed, but he had no idea how to slip out of his old life and into a new one or what he'd have to shed in order to reorder.

Around this time he transferred into high school. The school was new, which felt odd. Some people knew who he was, which felt even stranger. His parents continued to spew the same things "Study hard," "Respect your elders," "Plan for your future," nothing new, nothing to look forward to. Finding inspiration in his comic books, of all places, Trent did manage to find some solace in drawing. He surprised himself with his talent, though the manic graffiti art he was determined to do during his preteens might have had something to do with it. His drawings were possibly the first source of compliments he ever received, which made him feel awkward.

There were a few changes, the scenery, the people and the voices, but the old patterns remained. The freakish dogs still didn't like him, yet decided to take over his room; his parents were beside themselves, trying to figure out how to control a son they barely knew; and the school was getting hostile about his attitude. At least Hezekiah would let Trent pet him occasionally at this point. Maybe the tiny dog was just tired.

Then his parents died. A cave in, tons of rocks falling in. Trent had this horrible sensation of rocks on his own chest. He was seventeen at this point and the sudden thought of what might happen to him brought, for the first time ever, complete terror. He fled, vanishing for the whole spring and summer, crashing at friends' houses, whoever would willingly put him up. He felt like a vagrant, wandering around from place to place, trying to stay calm, carrying his sketchbook wherever he went. Which made him feel like a pantomime of that guy from Titanic- which he only knew about because he had snuck into the wrong theater.

Funny that a nearly fatal car crash was what changed his direction.

He recalled lying in the hospital, trying not to scream every time he breathed. Something about broken ribs- screaming would probably hurt worse. And bruises; he had them, that was for sure. He was also trying hard not to think, not about hospital bills he couldn't pay, not about his impending court date, not about court fees he couldn't pay, not about what he would be reduced to. He figured if he was lucky, he'd end up an apprentice tattoo artist and live in an apartment that smelled like urine with too many roommates and roving punks wandering in.

It was in the middle of figure out how he was going to manage when Anton walked in. Trent vaguely recognized him as someone who worked with his parents, but his reasons for being there were completely lost on Trent.

"Hi Trent." There was a pause, as Trent didn't offer any icebreakers, just watched the older man, waiting. "Mind if I sit down?"

Trent shrugged and immediately wished he hadn't. Anton sat, seeming uncomfortable; in fact, him being anywhere outside an executive office seemed about as normal as whale hunting in Oklahoma. Anton began speaking after a moment, filling Trent in on details, like "I knew your parents" and "They were good people." Eventually, after feeling sorry for Trent, Anton got to his actual point.

Trent was incredulous. Who was willing to take in a seventeen year old? What good would come of that? But the more Trent assessed the man in the power suit, the more he realized that this was not the type of man who would willingly take in anyone under the age of fifteen. He was too busy, if the suit was anything to go by, and suddenly Trent realized that Anton's wave of guilty compassion was a way out. He could finish high school, maybe even go to college and, he didn't know, draw giant sketches.

So he moved in with Anton, now his legal guardian who just so happened to own a mansion. Trent felt like he had hit the jackpot, only for the feeling to recede when his friend Ervin -the one who had stolen the car, demanded Trent come with him to the beach, crashed the car by running a red light and then tried to run when the cops showed with Trent passing out in the passanger seat- called, only to demand- not ask, demand- bail money. Trent, feeling rather angry, told Ervin exactly what he could do with himself before hanging up on him. No one else called.

Anton was around much more than his parents, but was far more eccentric from what he could tell. Just when Trent was figuring out where to go from here, Anton decided to move, something about physically needing to be in Reefside. Trent was glad to get away from those places filled with memories of his parents. Away from the friends who felt he owed them something, even after they had nearly gotten him killed. A new town, with only ghosts of a memory to follow him. And there were no dogs. Trent could dig it. Even if giant robots fought regularly in the streets. Okay, maybe that was a little weird.

In an attempt to keep himself busy, the instant he found himself in Reefside, he began applying for jobs. He got as far as Hayley's Cyberspace, his third application, when upon filling out and handing in said paperwork, the owner looked at it, peered at him and started talking to him, asking Trent interview-like questions that eventually evolved into her asking when he could start. The cafe, at least, seemed like a cool place to work, he mused to himself as he walked his way there. Much better than the Disney Store, and he had a feeling he'd go crazy if he worked at Kinko's.

The atmosphere was relaxed, just as it had been before, but due to the fact it was his first day and he'd never really held down a job before, he was hyperaware of everything around him. So of course he noticed her as he was asking someone about Hayley's whereabouts. She wasn't gorgeous- not the type he usually went for- definitely pretty, though. And blonde. He liked blondes. And she was staring. Whether or not she was staring at him was hard to say, especially since they were in a busy cafe. It felt odd after everything that had happened, but Trent couldn't help the surge of interest that washed through him and did the only thing he could think of; he approached her and her hopefully-not-boyfriend as nonchalantly as possible.

The girl seemed to freeze and suddenly turned towards her computer, much to the amusement of her counterpart as Trent approached them. "Hey, I'm looking for Hayley- I'm supposed to start work today."

"She's around here somewhere," the guy in blue said. "Hey, haven't I seen you around Reefside?"

"Yeah, I just moved here last week. My name's Trent," he said, offering his hand.

The guy in blue shook it, and it almost seemed like he was resisting the urge to perform some hand clasping ritual. "I'm Ethan; this is Kira."

Trent turned to the girl. "Hey." He tried not to wince at his tone, which seemed to scream "Pay attention to me!" and hoped no one noticed how wrong that came out. When she didn't respond one way or another, Trent opted for a lighter tone. "Are you okay?"

"She doesn't speak," Ethan offered, straight faced, tone grave. "We've been trying for years, but we just can't get through."

Apparently provoked, Kira snapped at Ethan. "I'm fine." She turned to Trent. "It's nice to meet you." He was graced with a nervous smile before she glowered at Ethan and returned resolutely to her computer. Yes, definitely shy, which came off to Trent as incredibly cute. So much so, he could help but grin at her as Hayley divined his presence. He was hopelessly interested now, and found himself praying she frequented the cafe.

"So how are you liking Reefside so far?" Hayley asked as she led him into the back, startling Trent out of his thoughts.

"Oh..." Trent couldn't help another glance at Kira, who was now talking to some guy dressed in red who was hopefully another not-boyfriend. "I'm liking it."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Closer

Set after The Missing Bone.

All she had wanted to do was clear her head. Maybe wandering around the forest wasn't the best thing to do. After all, it was getting fairly close to dark, the woods were thick and occasionally impenetrable. Besides, after what had happened, she should be a little more careful. But while Conner's worried, mother hen routine had her annoyed, once Ethan, Dr. O and even Hayley joined in, she was practically scratching at the walls. So she escaped, sneaking out the back door in Dr. O's kitchen and making a break for the woods. She felt marginally better once out of sight. She'd be okay. She was still in running distance of Dr. O's house, and there were few things that could take on a Power Ranger and live. Naturally one of those things that could decided to shimmer into being from what had been nothingness a moment earlier.

Immediately, Kira dropped into a fighting stance. Trent seemed amused by this, but he didn't approach her, just watched her stand there. This dragged on so long that Kira started feeling rather stupid. "What do you want?" she demanded tightly, arms starting to hurt a little.

Trent didn't answer for a moment. "Did you like it?"

"Did I like what?"

"Being evil. Was it fun?"

Kira stared at him. Was it fun? "All I did was lie and steal from people."

Shrugging, Trent smirked at her. "You could have done more. It's not my fault you're pathetic."

"Maybe." Rolling his eyes, Trent turned and began blending with the background again. As he began dissolving, something nameless gripped her. Dropping her stance, she lunged forward a little as if she was attempting to follow him, the words were out before she could stop them. "Trent, wait!"

He stopped, surprising her. His head lolled back, his expression impassive, bored. "What?"

"I..." A choking sensation fell over Kira. It wasn't tears, but fear. She would never admit it to anyone- she didn't even like admitting it to herself- but she did like being evil. Something about it was intoxicating, and that was with what little hold it had over her. Kira couldn't help but wonder if this is what Trent would feel like when he woke up. If he woke up. Now she had this premonition that this was the only way she'd ever find Trent again- sleeping. The glow around his Dino Gem seemed to mock her.

Trent's voice shattered her thoughts, vibrating with annoyance. "I don't have all day."

There were so many ways she could answer that. So many ways she could abandon her original thought and fight with him. But the sanctity of the trees compelled her, and the words still came out. "I miss you." Which was a horrible thing to admit.

Pausing, Trent glanced away briefly as if he had to process what the phrase even meant. When he looked back, another smirk was curving over his features. "Really," he pronounced lazily, closing the distance between them. "How much?"

Kira refused to look at him now. He was too close, and she had admitted something horrible to someone who was her enemy. Someone who repeatedly put her life in danger, even if he did proclaim he could never hurt her. It didn't stop her constantly thinking about him, and if Conner ever found out about this, he would kill her. No, he'd kill Trent and lock her in a tower, or the equivalent of one. Which meant no one was finding out about this.

She had half a mind to run when she felt Trent's fingers touching her hair, sliding through the strands. She tried to control the shudder it caused, but there was no stopping it. At least she could keep herself from leaning into his touch. He repeated his question. "How much do you miss me?"

Still she refused. Maybe it wasn't pride. Maybe it had more to do with the fact that she couldn't find words large enough or perfect enough to make him understand. It was unbearable, as unbearable as him touching her and not moving. "Won't tell me? Fine."

Instead of backing off, his fingers were suddenly clutching her jaw, forcing her face up so their eyes met. The expression on Trent's face made Kira's mouth go dry and she swallowed convulsively. "Then show me." His voice was soft, dangerous against her skin. "Will you scream for me?"

Kira felt a thrill shoot through her. She knew how reckless she was being, but that didn't stop her from replying. She couldn't help it. "That depends on you."

Trent seemed to grin at her remark. Somehow, though, she wasn't remotely prepared when he kissed her. His lips were harsh on hers, his grip on her face nearly painful, almost as if he expected her to try to run. She wanted to flinch away- no, she just knew she should want to. No part of her actually wanted that. Her limbs felt heavy, like she had just regained feeling in them as she clamped her fingers into his hair, pulling him closer and kissing him back just as hard. Trent released her chin and wrapped his arms around her, tangling their legs together, causing them to pitch sideways and crash to the ground, his arms cushioning her somewhat from the fall.

Twigs and uneven ground pressed into Kira back and side, leaves and dry pine needles sticking like her like insect bites. The kiss never broke, though, except for a jarring note when they hit the ground. Trent rolled her over so he was on top of her, lifting up and sliding his legs so he could rest his weight back on his knees. His hands ran over her sides, under her jacket, fingers digging through the fabric of her shirt. With a little insistent tugging, he managed to convince Kira to shrug out of her jacket before he pulled away, straddling her hips. The pressure kind of hurt, but he was so close that it had her back arching, trying to gain something from his position, the folds of her skirt getting in her way. <>Off came his over shirt, his undershirt following quickly, tossed aside carelessly as Kira watched, her hands sliding over the flesh almost as soon as it was exposed. Trent leaned back over her, his mouth wandering over her neck and what little bit of shoulder he could expose before his hands trailed over her breasts and stomach, catching the hem of her shirt and yanking up on it. Kira could hear stitches bursting as he tugged, pushing it up before he let go and pressed his mouth just below her collarbone and trailing down. He impatiently yanked her bra down, attacking her breasts almost viciously, as if he were trying to rip into her. Kira's hands pawed over his back, his neck, running through his hair and down his shoulders, trying to find something to hold onto, the sensations overwhelming when she wasn't horrified by the high-pitched whines that were determined to escape from her throat.

Trent's hands slid back down Kira's stomach, spanning over her hips and gliding over her thighs, shifting his legs so they could slip between hers, his hands easily pushing up the loose fabric of her skirt. She slung her legs over his waist just as he rocked his hips against hers, drawing a ragged moan from her. Suddenly she tugged him up, their heads nearly cracking together as she caught his mouth in a kiss, trying to push him over so she could roll on top of him, but Trent wasn't having that. He wrestled her back to the ground, holding her there with the weight of his body, hands tangling in her hair as he thrust against her hips again. Kira met his thrust, causing Trent to shudder. Another thrust had him breaking the kiss, groaning into her neck. The sound shot through Kira's veins, piling deep in her stomach, making her arch under Trent, pressing every inch of herself that she could against him. Gritting his teeth, Trent leaned back, shifting his weight to his knees again. Kira's eyes closed and she swallowed hard, feeling Trent's hand slipping up the inside of one of her thighs, sliding her underwear aside right before she heard the sound of his zipper coming undone.

Kira's groan caught in her throat as Trent pushed inside of her and started thrusting at a nearly frantic pace. Their sweaty skin gave her nothing solid to cling to but she tried anyway, the sensations of heat and sweat and breath and skin choking her, making her dizzy. His hands seemed indecisive, attaching to her hips, roving up her sides, palming her breasts, sometimes even sliding over her shoulders and neck, all in the same rough, ripping manner. Kira's hands were quite content around Trent's shoulders and back, each thrust causing her to gouge out a little more skin with her nails. He seemed to be surrounding her, every scent was of him, every taste, everything she touched was Trent. She wanted to kiss him, bite down into him, wanted to draw blood and moans colored with lust, but Trent was kissing her neck, shoulders and chest, sometimes even biting her himself, tearing into her flesh. Every thrust caused a moan, every touch to her bare skin, every look he shot her, everything was rising to a fevered pitch that reduced her thoughts to static.

Then the static burst into stars and she was screaming, her overheated body shuddering, her legs locked around his hips, fingers clawing at Trent's back finally drawing blood among the red welts. She didn't hear Trent's evil little chuckle, nor could she comprehend the fact that he held her the entire time her body convulsed with pleasure. She could still feel his breath against her neck, though, the sudden movement of his hands now clenching at her waist made her realize through her slowly clearing mental fog-

A voice tunneled through the trees then, loud and grating on oversensitive nerves. "Kira?"

Kira's eyes shot open at the sound of Conner's voice, feeling like someone had dumped a bucket of ice water over her. Conner's voice sounded WAY too close by. Kira's suspicions were confirmed when she actually glimpsed a flash of red- and blue- through a sliver of space between those same trees. Clawing her way out from under Trent, she yanked her shirt down, swept her jacket over it and bolted, trying to button her jacket as she went to intercept her teammates.

~~~~

Poor Trent was left on the ground, feeling just as cold, but for entirely different reasons. He felt his indignation as he listened to Kira greet Conner and Ethan, explaining her earlier scream and current dishevelment by saying she had seen something scaly.

Sighing, he yanked his clothing back into place, nearly forgetting to be careful. He tried not to wince when the fabric of his shirt snagged on one of his scratches. Activating his powers he set about lurking and brooding. Part of him wanted to fade through the trees and give Conner and Ethan a good thrashing. After all, he had just managed to successfully seduce Kira. Interruption aside, he was enjoying a stroke of luck, so maybe now would be a good time to try his hand at killing Conner and Ethan. Or tell them about what they'd interrupted. In excruciating detail.

But he knew he wouldn't. It would be a bad for this... relationship?... he now had with Kira. He wasn't about to screw that up, not when he had gotten this far.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fight

Set after The Missing Bone.

It wasn't that he wasn't getting reactions. Trent was getting plenty of those; he was freaking out Ethan and simultaneously pissing off his dad and Conner. This was all great, but aside from a startled look if he snuck up on her, he was getting nothing when he antagonized Kira. This bothered Trent, a lot more than he would have liked. He wasn't entirely certain, but based on past experiences he was fairly certain this was not how the aftermath of a seduction was supposed to work. Especially one she had started- or maybe he had- all he knew was she had been a very willing participant and he wasn't about to let this go unfinished. Didn't she know a thing about the game she had started? The whole thing chafed.

It happened during the short time between classes. Trent found Kira easily in the hallway, digging through her locker. He wove his way through the groups of teens blocking the hallway, reaching her just as she was shutting her locker door. As she turned, preparing to sling her book bag over her shoulder, Trent hooked his foot around her leg and tripped her. Kira's book bag went flying from her grasp as he caught her mid fall, pressing close.

Trent noticed that Kira didn't move, just stilled instantly, her breathing shallow. A smirk crept onto his face as he leaned in closer, feeling her curves against his. He was fairly certain his breathing was just as shallow, but he tried to ignore it as he whispered into her ear. "You should be more careful."

Kira seemed to shudder and she closed her eyes, swallowing audibly. Then she moved, pressing an elbow back into Trent, trying to get him to move in a half-hearted yet determined manner as Conner's voice was heard over the din of students. "HEY!"

Finding himself growling, Trent released Kira as Conner came shoving through the crowds, practically barreling over a few hapless students in his furious attempt to get to them, an apologetic Ethan following him. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"Kira tripped," Trent admitted, and made a small show of dusting a disturbed Kira off before she swatted at his hands. Turning back, he planted himself directly between Kira and the snarling Conner. "No harm done."

Waiting for Conner's reply proved disastrous. Conner was so angry that Trent had done anything to Kira that the instant Trent had presented himself cleanly, Conner threw a punch. The right hook connected with Trent's jaw, making him stagger with the force. Before Conner could get another punch in, though, Trent lunged at him, driving him back and slamming him into the lockers.

Grabbing Trent by the shoulders, Conner managed to drive a knee into his stomach. He then shoved at the winded Trent, causing him to crash to the floor. Conner leaped at him, but Trent was already moving, rolling away and to his feet. Too slow to recover from his downward motion, Conner found Trent's fist smashing him right below the collarbone.

Conner stumbled, but used his momentum to lash out with a foot and catch Trent in the side hard enough to send him reeling into the lockers. Conner seized the back of Trent's shirt, but Trent threw an elbow that connected with Conner's chest, driving him back and giving Trent the opportunity to spin around. Blocking the ensuing kick, Conner followed it up with one of his own, which Trent dodged just in time to catch Conner's fist. He clung to it, but Conner had three more limbs, all of which lashed out in quick succession. Conner's foot hooked behind Trent's leg and drove Trent to his knees. Conner's free arm swung downward at an alarming speed, but Trent caught it as well. He rocked back on his feet, jumping up over the leg sweep that would have sent Trent sprawling, keeping his hold on Conner's arms. One sharp yank and he'd send Conner flying over his shoulders, then leap on him before Conner could get up-

Suddenly Conner was yanked back by Ethan, pulled free of Trent and his vice-like grip and Ethan dragged his red-clad friend off through the crowd. Before Trent could comprehend what had happened, a pair of hands slammed into his chest. Trent hissed in pain and was knocked back a few steps, glaring at Kira, who looked at him almost mournfully. "Just go before Randall shows up." With that Kira melted into the sea of rubbernecking students that had just started to disband at her mention of the tyrannical principal.

Trent leaned against the lockers, trying to catch his breath, just noticing his lip was bleeding. He couldn't understand why nothing he did worked. A moment later he heard the telltale sounds of Elsa's heels clacking over the scuffed tile. Even though he was no more afraid of Elsa than he was of any of the Rangers, Trent felt a fierce desire to avoid her like one might avoid a hungry circus lion. With barely a thought Trent's image melted into the lockers around him just as Elsa came into view. The woman slowed, almost as if she sensed something had happened and she looked around suspiciously, but didn't stop.

Watching her go, Trent glowered and took off in the opposite direction as soon as he could. Yeah, everything just chafed right now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Duty

Set after Thunderstorm Part II.

"That Trent guy's not coming?"

Kira had shook her head at Hunter's question. "Said something about Hayley needing him at the cafe." Which was weird, considering she was almost positive she heard Hayley telling Trent he could go. He had been acting weird for awhile, come to think of it, especially after they fought with the Ninja Rangers. She simply logged it away for later, though, wanting to cheer Blake on wholeheartedly. But the thought wouldn't go away; in fact, the more she tried not to think about it, the more it loomed in her mind, like a dark thundercloud. So when Tori brought it up to her later, she couldn't brush it off.

"So, your boyfriend- Trent?"

"Yeah?"

"Do you know why he decided not to come?"

"I'm not really sure- wait." Kira looked at Tori in mild shock. "How did you know we were dating?"

"Blake told me about the death glare thing," Tori answered simply. Kira wracked her brains for a memory of this so called 'death glare' but nothing came up.

"...Death glare?"

"Yeah- besides, you two really have a vibe."

A vibe? They had a vibe? "Okay... death glare?"

Tori shrugged, looking a bit helpless. "He said something about Trent not liking him and not knowing why." Tori looked at Kira. "You have no idea what I'm talking about, do you."

Kira was about to respond with a "no clue" when Dustin suddenly bounded up from behind, stopping so quickly he nearly fell and grabbed both Tori and Kira for support. "Hey!" he greeted jovially as Kira and Tori fought not to fall themselves.

"Hi Dustin," Tori said, peeling his hand off her shoulder. Kira merely moved a step away and let his hand fall off. "Didn't see you come up. Did you want something?"

"Oh, well, see, I was congratulating Blake on winning- which was awesome- and I noticed you two were over here talking and I figured I'd see what was up with my fellow Yellow Ranger. So, what's up?"

Tori glanced at Kira, who was staring at Dustin, not quite used to his manner yet. "We were talking about Trent."

Kira and Dustin gave Tori a startled look. "You mean her boyfriend?" He looked at Kira. "You mean your boyfriend? Dude, that's seriously weird, cause before the race I was listening to Hunter try to convince Blake that Trent wasn't out to kill him or... something. Come to think of it, earlier today I was trying to tell Trent that Blake and you," he nodded at Tori, "were dating, but I don't think he was listening to me- which I didn't get, cause he's the one who started asking. I kinda feel like I totally missed something. Hey- you guys saw that last jump Blake did in the race, right? That was so sick!"

"But there's no reason for Trent to hate Blake," Kira pointed out.

"Yeah, I know," Dustin agreed. "I mean, you're dating Trent and so what if they're both formerly evil and short and dark and stuff?"

"What?" Tori and Kira asked, both looking different concentrations of surprised. Dustin looked mildly alarmed.

"Yeah... Hunter was saying something like that to Blake, and Trent's, you know, similar to him in that way." Tori began to look thoughtful while Kira looked lost. "So, either of you wanna go chat up the other racers? One's got this awesome custom-"

"What does that have to do with anything?" Kira demanded.

"Well, we're at a track-"

"She's talking about Trent still," Tori informed Dustin, whose confusion vanished at this remark. "I'm wondering, though, if maybe Trent thinks-"

"No," Kira interrupted, her thoughts catching up to Tori's. "He couldn't. I mean, all I did was ask Blake if we knew each other from somewhere and then he gave me motocross tickets and I thought for a second he was asking me out. It was an honest mistake! That doesn't mean oh god." Kira put a hand to her forehead and groaned, the revelation of her stupidity making her feel woozy. "I have to go."

"Okay," Dustin replied, a bit disappointed. "Why?"

"Don't worry," Tori said to Kira, smiling. "I'll explain it to him."

Kira let out a sigh of relief, glad Tori was being so nice about everything. But then again, Tori seemed to understand what was going on, and that seemed to make Kira like the girl in blue even more. "Thanks." She paused and then whispered to Tori. "It's like talking to Conner." Tori bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Say goodbye to everyone for me, okay?" With that, Kira rushed off.

"Good job, Dustin," Tori said as Kira disappeared. "You unintentionally hit the nail on the head."

"Um, cool," Dustin replied uncertainly. He thought this over before turning to Tori. "Do you want to go talk to the other racers with me?"

~~~~

Kira paused a few steps inside Hayley's Cyberspace. Her eyes searched the area; there were three people scattered around the cafe but she didn't see Trent anywhere.

"Kira?" Hayley came out from behind the counter. "What are you doing back so soon for? Where are the others?"

"Hey Hayley. Um..." Kira took another look around. "Is Trent still here?" she asked somewhat quietly. Hayley pointed off into a distant corner near the stage where Trent was sitting, partially hidden by a patron also wearing a white shirt. Given his posture and state of isolation, it looked very much like he was sulking. "Has he been sitting over there all afternoon?"

"More or less. You will talk to him, right? I've tried, but he won't say anything."

Nodding, Kira pursed her lips and walked into the back of the cafe. When she was a few feet away, she slowed to a stop, taking in Trent's state. He was slouched down, seeming to bend over himself, his head down and he was staring at his arms, which were crossed over his legs. Whatever he had been drinking hadn't been touched in awhile, given the amount of condensation pooling on both the glass and table.

The boy was pathetic, though that could be her fault since she never did say anything definite about them. In this case, some reassurance was necessary. Kira let out a sigh and put her hands on her hips before finishing her approach. "Hey Trent."

Trent jerked upright, knees knocking into the table and nearly spilling his spent drink. He reached out to steady it. "Hey Kira," he said casually without looking at her. "Aren't you back kind of early?"

"I guess," she said, sitting down next to him. Trent still avoided her gaze and tapped his glass. A few more beads of moisture dribbled down to meet the puddle on the table. "It wasn't as much fun as I thought."

"Really?" Trent asked without interest.

Kira slipped her arms onto the table. "Yeah. I just couldn't seem to enjoy myself when my boyfriend wasn't there with me."

Trent paused his glass tapping and chanced to raise his eyes to hers. "What?"

Reaching over, Kira took his hand, his fingers slightly damp from the condensation. "You know, sometimes you can be an idiot. Did you honestly think I was into Blake?"

Staring at her, Trent opened his mouth to speak a few times before finally saying "What was I supposed to think?"

Kira narrowed her eyes at him. She felt like she had had this conversation with him before though over a different subject. When Trent only rubbed his thumb over her hand in response, Kira fought off another sigh. If she had to spell everything out, fine. "I fell in love with you, Trent, not someone like you. That's what."

Trent had gone still listening to what Kira was saying. After a pause, Trent spoke. "I fell in love with you, too." Smiling at him, Kira laced her fingers fully with his, happy she got her point across. Trent glanced over at her, looking like he was trying to decide something. Giving off a feeling like he had just shrugged internally, Trent leaned over and kissed Kira, a hand curling against her skull, fingers tangling in her hair, nearly startling Kira with his intensity. But Kira gave as good as she got, and it wasn't long before the patron in the white shirt moved to a different table in utter disgust.

Finally pulling away, Trent's sudden sigh broke into Kira's consciousness. "I guess I should go apologize to Blake."

Kira grinned. "If you can get close enough without him running away screaming." She tugged Trent back to her, nearly yanking him from his chair. "But not right now."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Routine

Set after Thunderstorm Part 2.

Hayley's Cyberspace wasn't very crowded. A few people were scattered around, Trent and Kira occupying the couch near the door, appearing to study, or so they told everyone. Conner and Ethan were crowded together at a table, whispering to each other. Apparently they were studying, too, but the looks they kept throwing Trent and Kira said otherwise. It also made the couple extremely suspicious.

Suddenly, Ethan stood up, his voice shrill and feminine. "Trent is so cute! Tee hee hee!"

Kira and Trent were incredulous as Conner stood as well and pulled the straws out of his soda, offering them to Ethan and replied in an obnoxiously low voice. "Here Kira, I got you a giant sunflower- it matches your favorite color, like the sun."

Everyone in the cafe was staring now. Trent found himself restraining Kira as Ethan cooed and accepted the straws, batting his eyelashes. "Oh, Trent! You sure know how to do it to a girl!"

There was a loud coughing noise from the counter, catching Kira, Trent, Conner and Ethan's attention. Hayley clapped a hand over her mouth, causing Kira and Trent to give her a betrayed look as she slunk into the back. Conner grinned at Ethan as Kira growled from the couch and Trent sighed. "Well I am short, dark and handsome."

Trent rolled his eyes as Kira growled again. Ethan put a hand over his heart. "You make me feel so much like woman! Give me some sugar, honey!"

That was when Trent lost his grip on Kira.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Darkness

Set right before Copy That.

It rained a little overnight. The drops were sporadic, temperamental things, varying in size depending on their mood, spitting from clouds that didn't even seem to want to take the effort of covering the sky properly. Instead they stretched out like sheer cotton from horizon to horizon, veiling the potency of the moon and making everything feel stifled.

Moonlight didn't filter into her room like it should have, the net of clouds holding it back, only allowing it to dust everything a muted white. This bothered Kira a little, and she drew as close to it as she could, even to the point of clearing off her desk and climbing on top of it so she could perch on it and lean against the glass of her window.

For the first time ever, she didn't feel like attacking paper with her emotions. Everything was too raw, too jumbled and abstract. She would never tell her friends that sometimes she was angry that they demanded that every single thing came before helping Trent. On some level she understood why, but it always felt like betrayal. She knew pragmatically she wasn't the only one who cared, but it felt that way lately.

It could be that she was simply fighting a lost cause and everyone knew it but her. They'd never say so, sparing her feelings or avoiding her wrath, whichever they thought more terrifying, it didn't matter. Some things went beyond personal attachment, even if it was like someone was stabbing her repeatedly in the chest.

Maybe Trent WAS beyond redemption. Maybe that gem had swallowed him whole and spat out the bones. There was guilt, but mostly overwhelming sadness thickening in her throat. Odds were that boy she saw in the cafe was gone, leaving a machine replica in his place. She couldn't even convince herself that any of his former self had bled through that day in the forest. Kira didn't want to give up on Trent, but she might not have a choice.

Kira hated this. She hated the fact that she was in love with someone she'd probably never touch again. The only thing she had left were memories turned bittersweet and a fleeting moment of desperate passion. She would have to accept it. The Trent she had known, what little she knew of him, was simply gone. There was nothing left to save.

Offering a long sigh to the moonlight, Kira wrapped her arms around her stomach, trying to gain a little comfort from the night. She'd get over it. She had to.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Patience

Set right after Copy That.

The cavern was vast, echoing faintly with the sound of the waterfall cover one of the many shielded exits. Finding Trent among the monolithic Zords took a little bit of work, as it was also dark aside from the tunnel lights hanging from various rock outcroppings. Kira finally spotted him on top of the Triceratops, trying to remove excess dirt from one of the horns. The giant blue robot almost seemed to be enjoying itself, despite the fact that the Tyrannosaurus felt it necessary to hover.

Her quiet entrance was broken when the Pterodactyl sensed her presence and screeched in excited acknowledgment, startling both Kira and Trent. Catching the horn of the Triceratops before he fell off, Trent looked down. "Kira? What are you doing here?"

Kira didn't answer at first, taking a moment to wave at her Zord perched high above the others as Trent corrected his balance. "Felt like coming here." She walked up to the Triceratops and clasped her hands awkwardly behind her back. "That okay?"

Trent blinked at the question. "You have more of a right to be here than me," he said, returning his attention to cleaning. Shrugging, Kira didn't respond. Instead she made a face at the Tyrannosaurus, which growled at her. The sound rumbled through the cave, shaking a stone or two loose from low walls where excavation had stopped abruptly. When Kira made no indication that she was going to say or do anything, Trent spoke again. "I'm going to be here a while."

"I know," Kira said abruptly. She dithered for a moment. "Trent?"

"Yeah?"

"I'll wait for you."

Trent's swipes slowed to a stop as the phrase finished echoing through the area. He looked down at her, their gazes catching though the dim lighting. "Okay."

Everything in the cave was silent for a moment. Finally Kira nodded, and the Pterodactyl flapped its mechanical wings and fixed its very intense, robotic stare back on Trent as Kira turned and left the cave.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Worst-Case Scenario

Set during Truth and Consequences.

There were ducks everywhere. The air was filled with obnoxious quacking, disturbing what would be a quiet retreat to an almost comical state. Kira wasn't even sure why she was looking here, but she was running out of places. So what if there were ducks? At least they weren't geese.

About halfway into her trek around the lake, she nearly tripped over a trail of ducklings following their mother. Cursing colorfully, Kira steadied herself with a nearby tree as the mother duck railed angrily at her, just as she spotted someone wearing white through the woods. Ducks forgotten, she made a beeline for the lakeside, hoping she had found him.

"Trent? Is that you?" Kira walked around the bench as Trent flipped his sketchbook shut. "Hey."

"Hey."

Kira sat down, hoping she appeared to be nonchalant. "Where'd you go?"

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have just taken off like that."

Eyes catching on his sketchbook for a moment, Kira replied. "Look; I can't help you if I don't know what's going on."

Trent's expression didn't change, he simply opened his sketchbook and turned it so she could see. All she seemed to want to say was "That's the White Ranger" but that was probably the most redundant thing she could say at this point. So she tried to think of something else. "Trent, if you're going to dream about being a superhero, the White Ranger's not who you wanna be."

"I kinda wish I had a choice."

"What are you saying?"

He seemed to look at her for a long time, caught somewhere between pathetic and tragic. When he moved again it nearly startled her, pulling back his sleeve and revealing a bracelet that was far too like her own.

Kira stared at him in utter shock. "You?" As the pieces suddenly fell into place, Kira felt like beating her head against something for being so oblivious. And here she had been thinking Trent was just sick- she supposed that was one way of putting it, though. There was no why or when or how in her head now, only one thing sat on her tongue, sickly like poison, raging through her veins. "But you almost annihilated me!" Why was she still there? She was like- well, like a sitting duck.

"Yeah, but I didn't!" Trent said, sounding almost frantic. "Look, once I knew it was you-" His sentence cut short when Kira stood and he grabbed her arm, trying desperately to make her stay.

Kira nearly shrieked when he touched her. "Let go of me!" She ripped her arm from his grasp, whirling on him in anger that died the instant she saw the look on his face, but she remained out of his reach.

"Kira, I couldn't help it! The gem, it's changed me. I can't take it off or control it. You've got to believe me."

He was too close again, she realized. Too close, too dangerous. She wanted to believe him- she did believe him, wholly and undeniably. But she didn't want to. Kira wanted to be free of this- this thing that was beyond bad luck or coincidence. "Why should I?"

"Because I'd never intentionally hurt anyone, Kira." The next part was quieter. "Especially you."

"Okay..." Kira tried to think past the thrill that shot through her, hindering what might be considered rational thought. What did it say that the situation still made her feel light and airy? That could be considered warped. "I think I know some people who could help. I'm gonna get Conner and Ethan."

Trent looked at her. "Why them?" There was no confusion; just quiet resignation.

"Well, cause..."

"Wait a minute- them too?"

"Hard to believe, but it's true. Look, I need you to wait here until I come back."

Trent nodded. "Okay."

With that Kira bolted, running from the lakeside, not only running to find her friends but also running from the destruction at her back. While she knew she should feel relieved, instead a terrible sense of foreboding pressed over her. Something was happening, and she had a feeling that she wouldn't be fast enough to stop it.

So she ran faster.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gift

Set during Of Love and Bunnies. Tragic.

The scene was strange only if taken out of context. It actually reminded Trent of every single time they ever passed a music store and suddenly Kira would be either plastered up against the glass or dragging him inside so she could play with the guitars.

Trent didn't know the first thing about guitars, only that Gibsons were hella expensive. He did know about action figures, though, and that's not what these were. There were action figures at other booths- in fact, he found one of the Original White Ranger that screamed "White Tiger Zord!" and "White Ranger Power!" in a staticy voice every time he pressed the morpher. He showed this to Kira, and both were so amused that eventually the man running the booth chased them off out of sheer annoyance.

The booth they were at now didn't sell action figures; it sold the basic equivalent of Barbies at mind boggling prices. Kira was hopping around, mulling over different dolls, determined to buy one and trying desperately to decide on only one. At Kira's plea to help her decided, Trent's gaze landed on a large box containing seven dolls. All seven Originals, looking vaguely like their true life counterparts. This startled Trent on some level, but then his gaze launched back to Kira. He knew this would solve her dilemma, she had sighed over it a few times before finally moving on due to the price, but at the same time he wondered if it was a good idea. Money wasn't the object- ever since falling under the guardianship of Dr. Mercer (dad, the word had come frighteningly easy), money was never an object and it felt strange. Trent always had the horrible feeling that if he wasn't careful, he might just start coasting through life again, or people would latch onto him just because he had money. It was hard to hide, being the son, albeit adopted, of Anton Mercer. But playing it down had helped.

The other problem he had was Kira. While he could afford the outrageously priced set, he was always afraid that if he bought something too expensive, she would start thinking he expected something from her in return. Which was also why he would often hide the check from her when they ate out and he stole the check to pay both sides. Trent felt she was worth it; he realized he was over-thinking things, especially on Kira's end, but the thought wouldn't go away. His gaze returned to the box.

Still... it wasn't likely they'd find something like this again, and it could be fun for everyone. At Kira's discretion, of course.

Making up his mind, Trent caught the vendor's attention and asked, "Do you take credit cards?"

~~~~~***~~~~~

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