Word Prompts (K5): Kiss

Edmundo leans back, away from their kiss. It is reluctant, yes, but still a retreat. Their faces are still close enough that they can share breaths, but the distance means no contact. No heat.

“You’re one of those heroes now,” he says in the scant space between them, near to a whisper, though it’s hardly needed. Beyond the thin walls of the office space, the garage is in operation, the sounds of machines and their mechanics echoing back and forth.

She shrugs in response, tips her hand back and forth. Hero-adjacent would be a pithy, but accurate, response; she’s just not sure it would come out right.

“It’s different than what you were doing before,” he says, leaning even further back which isn’t what she wants at all! But he takes her hands in his and that’s an okay consolation prize, she supposes. “Protecting your block from pendejos is one thing, but you’re on the news now. You’re in bright spandex and everything.”

She crinkles her nose in protest: she doesn’t wear spandex. She just wears normal clothes. It’s not her fault her powers manifests as flowing green lights.

“No, no, you’re right. I’m getting off track,” he says, smoothing his thumbs over the back of her hands. It’s rough and a patch of black smears across her skin, but it’s warm. She likes it.

From the way she thinks this conversation is going, she’s going to miss it.

“You’ll always have a home here,” Edmundo says, and when he leans in, he presses his forehead to hers in a deliberately chaste way, “But you’re outgrowing us, and I can’t keep you chained down.”

She can’t say he’s wrong.

She doesn’t try to kiss him again–they’ve already had their final goodbye kiss, even if she didn’t know it for what it was at the time. But if she tightens her return grip, hoping to press the shape of her hands into his, well. He doesn’t say anything about that, at least.

She kisses Maya because she loves her and, also, Tetsuki might very well never see her again–either because they will be separated on opposite sides of an inter planar barrier or Tetsuki will be dead.

Maya kisses back because she loves Tetsuki, too… but perhaps isn’t sure in what way she loves Tetsuki and thinks that kissing might help her figure it out. And also because, even though Tetsuki isn’t saying it out loud, Maya is more than aware that her best friend may very well die and she doesn’t want to be a last regret in any way.

It is a lot of emotions and concepts for their first, hesitant kiss to convey.

Luckily, it is not also a last and only kiss, and they greatly improve their communication via kisses in the future.

There is no kissing between them. For many reasons, really.

Mainly because intimacy and vulnerability are not luxuries either of them can afford.

Tetsuki has been experimenting with wearing hound-snake venom atop wax coated lips. Azula can literally breathe fire.

And depending on which timeline they’re in, they may be trying to kill each other.

So, no. No kissing for them.

The first kiss of Team Two actually happens between Naruto and Komadori.

Tetsuki does’t understand what’s so embarrassing about it but, then again, as mentioned, she wasn’t actually involved so…

She promises to talk about that mission only once a year at most.

Tetsuki is dripping with river water, mildly concussed, and high off the wave of endorphins that is surviving an apocalyptic, dystopian future when she kisses Kusakabe-senpai for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t scare him off.

~

A/N: A sort of reverse tag of this ficlet.

trailblazers, 10YL, tetsuki+sasagawa sibs, 32) things you said I wouldn’t understand

Trailblazers, 32) things you said I wouldn’t understand

Ryohei doesn’t let himself get distracted for long, despite how fun it is to spar with these strangers. He returns to wait in the hallway outside Tetsuki’s door, patient, if neither silent nor still.

He chatters at the door, exercising all the while–at first shadowboxing on his own, then drills with equipment as the Vongola staff catch on and set up the space for him. While unusual and against the aesthetics of the mansions, they do so without asking. Partially because Ryohei is one of the elite Guardians, but mostly because he is one of the nicest and they are fond of him.

And so Ryohei waits, because while he may not be as stubborn as Tetsuki, he’s equally as skilled at persevering.

Kyoko is the one that seeks out answers, handing the supervision of the medics over to Shamal who complains even though it’s his job. And anyway, the stranger that Tetsuki-nee-chan has sent out–Sakura-san, the healer–is doing an excellent job at showcasing new techniques to keep them busy.

Plus, Tetsuki is both family and Family; there aren’t many who are due as high priority.

She calls Kusakabe-senpai first. Mostly because even if Hibari-senpai had a phone–which she highly doubts–he certainly would never answer a call with it. A few minutes of polite small talk and careful maneuvering around the topic of Tetsuki and she finally gets connected to Hibari-senpai.

“What happened on that mission?” Kyoko demands, steamrolling over Hibari-senpai’s less than pleased greeting, “She won’t leave her room and she’s not letting anyone else in and she keeps… making strangers to send out in her place. As if that’s what we wanted instead of her to be okay!” She finishes in a frustrated shout before immediately shutting her mouth–Hibari-senpai might not be that hard-headed violent teenager anymore, but he certainly wouldn’t appreciate such disrespect.

Her frustration isn’t at him, anyway. Not really at Tetsuki-nee-chan either. Perhaps it’s not frustration at all, just concern.

Silence reigns on the other end of the line and for a moment, Kyoko thinks that perhaps Hibari-senpai has hung up or simply walked away from the phone letting the call run through, until he belatedly answers, “Ask the pineapple.”

Another silence reigns, Kyoko waiting for more, prepared to outlast Hibari-senpai–he Sasagawas can be patient in regards to important matters–when finally, reluctantly, Hibari-senpai asks, “Should I send Tetsu?”

Kyoko can easily imagine the fierce scowl on his face, but the offer to send his second in command away for an unknown length of time only shows how worried he is for Tetsuki-nee-chan as well.

“No, not yet. Kusakabe-senpai can stay with you for now. I’ll call again if–”

The dial tone plays back to her. Kyoko huffs, irritated, but internally acknowledges that probably was the best outcome for this call.

Really the only reason why she tried Hibari-senpai first despite the unlikely odds of it working is because he’s easier to find. Getting in contact with Mukuro is going to be a greater challenge. Alas, such is the way of Mists–never mind she herself partially has that very flame type.

The chain goes as such: Kyoko asks Fuuta-kun–main handler for Vongola’s Guardians–who connects her with Chikusa and Ken, who still act as bodyguards for Chrome, who then consults with Fran and, eventually, somehow sends a message Mukuro.

It’s about a month, all told, for Mukuro to respond, appearing in Vongola Mansion and acting as if he weren’t the most infuriating person Kyoko has ever had to deal with–especially when Tetsuki has yet to come out of room, sending out more and more strangers as the weeks pass.

By the time Mukuro arrives, both of the Sasagawa siblings are chomping at the bit, held back only by the thought that Mukuro might be able to help Tetsuki. So when they ask him what happened, neither of them are in the right headspace to comprehend his answer.

“She died,” he says with an almost careless shrug, eyeing the door where his fellow Guardian hides. “But she’s always had a small flicker of Mist Flames, so I was able to ensure she would come back.”

“You saved her life?” Ryohei asks, hopeful, almost thankful to Mukuro, not understanding. Kyoko stays quiet, because surely there’s more.

“No she definitely died,” Mukuro answers, almost laughing. When he turns to face them properly, his red eye practically glows, the six all the darker for it, “And then I sent her off to die five more times.”

Oh, could you also do 32 (Wouldn’t Understand), for basically any “from another world” person? I love seeing the ways having a remembered past life from another culture makes someone feel/appear separate from the people around them.

32) things you said I wouldn’t understand

Viridescent: Or, Tetsuki Goes Feudal

“Consider me your private tutor,” says the girl seated at the table beside Kagome’s family. The weirdest thing isn’t that the girl is a stranger and yet has settled in as if she’s always had a place, or that she’s not far from Kagome in age and yet Mama and Grandpa look so trusting of her, or even that she’s wearing a sharp black suit more suited to business men than teenage girls in their very traditional shrine house.

No, the weirdest thing is the way that, when Kagome enters the house after an exhausting and filthy two weeks in the feudal era, Inuyasha just a few steps behind her, the girl doesn’t seem surprised at all.

She can definitely see Inuyasha–the both of them had been flat-footed, hadn’t thought to be wary of strangers in the house proper–but she keeps her eyes on Kagome.

“No worries,” the girl adds, after Kagome and Inuyasha have exchanged an entire conversation of looks, “I’m very discrete and very good at my job.” Mama nods, reassured.

“Which is… my private tutor?” Kagome asks, baffled. It’s true that her grades have been slipping what with all the absences in favor of time traveling, demon-slaying adventures, but getting her a private tutor seems ineffective at best and a hindrance at worst. She’s not entirely sure what Mama is thinking.

“Yes. We’ll make quite the warrior priestess out of you yet.”

The private tutor, Reborn, as she prefers to be called, is only more bewildering the longer Kagome gets to know her. She prowls around the shrine–looking for what, Kagome doesn’t know–barely bats an eye at Inuyasha even when he bares his claws at her, and has set up a makeshift archery range towards the back of the property with an array of targets and an alarming pulley and rope system.

“Traditional kyuudo is, of course, lovely and useful in its own way. An internal core of peace and discipline is nothing to scoff at,” Reborn lectures even as she physically herds Kagome toward the archery range. Kagome, who has just returned home from school after a grueling day of exams, is in no state to put up much of a fight. Nor is she in a state to go through with some kind of archery gauntlet, either.

“But it’s not terribly practical, now is it?” Reborn asks as she finally places Kagome inside of a small circle denoted by a rope braided with paper. “In a world of creatures much stronger than you, the only way archery will be able to do anything is if you’re fast and accurate.” She hands Kagome a bow and steps back to where a series of ropes hang down.

“Hit one hundred targets and protect your circle,” Reborn says, a bright, expectant, and somewhat sadistic smile spreading across her face. She tosses what looks like a water balloon up in the air and catches it; Kagome doesn’t think the water balloons are filled with water.

Kagome tries to back away, out of the circle, and finds that she cannot. “You didn’t give me any arrows!”

“One hundred targets,” Reborn almost sing-songs in response, “I won’t let you out a moment sooner.”

After a grueling several of hours of manifesting spiritual energy into arrows, trying and frequently failing to hit the moving targets, getting covered in slime that somehow reminds Kagome of that one fight against a slug youkai but far worse, Reborn finally breaks the barrier.

Then she breaks out the gardening hose even though it’s late fall, nighttime, and the water is no doubt barely above freezing. “It would be rude to track slime into the house,” Reborn scolds, “Mama already has so much to do. And plus, a warm bath will just be a quick sprint away; surely you’ve had much worse during your travels.”

True, but Kagome’s not used to having to deal with that in the modern times!

“Now, what was your first mistake?” Reborn asks pleasantly even as she blasts Kagome with frigid water.

She screeches at the temperature, “You’re awful!”

“Maybe,” Reborn acquiesces with an easy shrug, “But that doesn’t answer my question. If you really didn’t want to go through this entire ordeal, your first mistake was not breaking the barrier.”

“But you said–”

“I said I wouldn’t let you out until you hit a hundred targets–which took far longer than I would have expected, we’ll work on that–but I didn’t say that you couldn’t let yourself out.”

“But I don’t know how to,” Kagome argues, teeth starting to chatter. Futilely, she wraps her arms around herself for warmth.

Reborn raises an eyebrow at that, an almost disappointed look gracing her face. Then she sighs, shakes her head, and tosses a towel directly at Kagome’s face. “I guess we’ll have to work on that, too.”

After a bath and dinner, right before Kagome tries to speak to Mama privately about the whole Reborn situation–namely, how to get rid of her–the devil herself stops her.

“In comparison to my predecessor, I’m being kind,” Reborn says, in pajamas and bare feet, hair soft and loose and slightly damp–the soft hallway lighting of Kagome’s home and no slime balloons in sight–she really does look like a normal teenage girl and not the youkai sent to torture her in modern times.

The smile Reborn gives this time is rueful, regretful, “I suppose such a standard isn’t hard to beat given he used to literally shoot us with guns–” an alarming statement that she brushes right over, “–but the thing that he messed up from the beginning was never telling his student the intent behind every awful, cruel lesson. I won’t make that same mistake, mostly because I don’t have the luxury to do so.

“He could follow his student in his adventures and if things really got tough, not only beyond the limit but beyond capabilities, then he could step in and help,” at this Reborn meets Kagome’s eyes, “I can’t do that with you. I have to make you strong enough to stand on your own. And I know you have your friends, your own guardians, but they shouldn’t have to worry about protecting you all the time. If anything, you should want to be stronger so that you can protect them, too. Lead them, even.

"If that’s not something that you want, then go ahead. Tell Mama to send me away. I wouldn’t want to teach someone like that anyway.” At that, Reborn steps back, bare feet padding towards the spare room, leaving Kagome alone to process her thoughts.

She talks to Mama.

The next day, Kagome–with only a little complaint–steps into the circle, bow in hand. Mama and Grandpa and Souta all watch from a safe enough distance away, the remains of a  picnic set up as they get ready for the main event.

And Reborn, smiling, bright, expectant, and somewhat sadistic, says, “Because you’ve had a nice rest a good lunch and your wonderful family to cheer you on, now you have to hit two hundred targets!”

~

A/N: … I’ll be honest, lionheadbookends, this prompt was pretty difficult? I started and stopped a lot of different ideas and I’m not really all that satisfied with this one nor do I think it matches the prompt but I got about halfway through and decided this was probably the closest I would get so… here it is. Tetsuki in the Inuyasha world, training Kagome to be a better warrior.

Trailblazers (2018-02-02)

Hana is the third strongest Cloud of Namimori.

Knowing that fact is about as awful a sensation as one might imagine–not that she even cares about the stupid colored fire stuff that all the monkeys keep throwing around… but still.

Being third best at anything is one of the worst feelings ever.

Her manifestation was subtle, a matter of details and quirks in contrast to the full blown phenomenon of Hibari.

She never ran out of pens or spare change or other little items, never tired during gym class for all that she wasn’t one for exercise.

She had one friend–Kyoko–and that was all she needed. More than that, she was confident she was all Kyoko needed, though she would yield to Kaiza-senpai’s stronger, prior claim whenever an overlap arose.

She’d much rather attribute it to her own rational and respectful nature than the bullshit “subconscious deference to a more powerful person” but given magical colored fire does exist… well.

Kaiza-senpai–Tetsuki-san now that they are coworkers and nearly family through the transitive property of convoluted bonds that is being close to the Sasagawas–is technically the second strongest Cloud of Namimori.

A side effect of being primarily Lightning natured: any development in her Cloud abilities were overlaid by Lightning, averting the issue of Cloud territorialism and dominance.

Lucky. Not even Kaiza-senpai would have stood a chance against Hibari.

Hana isn’t particularly keen on learning how to use a gun–she’s a lawyer for god’s sake! Sure, she followed Kyoko to Italy and has resigned herself to a lifetime of dragging the Monkey Boss out of legal problems to keep her best friend happy, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to embrace their, frankly, ludicrous lifestyle.

But that awful not-baby insists, and both of the Sasagawas make sad, worried faces at her–at the idea of her not being prepared, not being protected–and so she gives in.

She’s not the sharpest shooter, but accuracy isn’t all that important when she can just riddle the target with an endless amount of unstoppable bullets.

Hana is the third strongest Cloud of Namimori.

Namimori is known for producing titans of Sky Flames.

Despite herself, Hana is one of them, too.

~

A/N: Just a little thing set in my Trailblazers universe and greatly influenced by the amazing worldbuilding of Vixen_Tail’s Russian Roulette. More specifically the analysis of Flames and how different Flame types interact with each other. Hana Kurokawa as the most reluctant Cloud Flame user! (In comparison to fucking Hibari whose abilities manifested even BEFORE his Flames were activated, it’s no wonder she slipped under the radar.)

Trailblazers (2017-12-24)

Their romance is nothing like a fairy tale–too steeped in the violence of their work–but it’s real and true and everything Tetsuki wants.

She marries a good man, solid and stable, who makes her feel like she can be a good woman, too, if she just wills it.

Every kiss from Tetsuya makes her feel like the heroine of her very own story.

She loves Komadori, but not the way he hopes for–still, he is dear to her, and her to him, and it is difficult to be vulnerable in a world of war.

She reaches out, accepting his touch, and lets the intimacy speak for her.

He is a good man; it’s unfortunate Tetsuki isn’t the right woman.

Their’s is a lost connection, a hypothetical disaster in the making.

Azula would as soon kiss her as she would gouge her eyes out–they would surely destroy each other.

Maybe, in another life, Tetsuki would even let her try.

Love is soft and sweet again, no longer the clawing desperate creature, thread-like bonds gentle yet firm:

Tetsuki doesn’t need to say how important Maya is when her actions have already done so, words have never been how she communicates with Hiei, and it’s mostly a joke when she threatens to shave off the fox’s hair.

Tetsuki gets used to poison kisses, everything growing green around her; she’s lightheaded from giddiness as much as the toxins, luxuriating in the sensation.

Or maybe it’s the sound of machinery, oil streaked across her skin; or the view of the stars from outside the atmosphere, breathless but not suffocating.

Now she’s a heroine in more than just feeling.

~

A/N: Or, some quick three sentence fic about Tetsuki being in love?

Check out the Ask Box Advent Calendar!

I’ve been really loving “It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning” by We Were Promised Jetpacks and “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons lately. I feel like there’s a thematic link there (obvious in the song titles), but the songs themselves are quite different. Do you think you can do anything with them (together) as a prompt?

I love both of these songs, lionheadbookends! I never really thought to compare them even though, as you said, their titles are similar. I suppose it’s because of when I encountered the songs (years apart, that is) and again, as you said, the feel of them is quite different; but I’ve given them both another listen with the lyrics in mind and I think I’ve got the link.

Thunder by Imagine Dragons is more easily understood as a song–not that simplicity of meaning makes it less musically entertaining–but as a piece of literature it’s fairly straightforward. An age old story of a kid from a (small) town who doesn’t quite fit, who is going to leave and make it big even though no one really believes in them. It’s almost the same idea behind a hero’s  journey–an internal call to action that differentiates the protagonist from the others in their hometown who are satisfied to stay behind.

In Thunder, it’s the vocalist vs the rest of his town/the world, but in a way it’s also the vocalist vs his own determination–can he keep going and achieve his dreams despite all the negativity trying to bring him down.

It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning by We Were Promised Jetpacks is more difficult to parse. Frankly, I’m still not sure how many people are involved in the story. There’s definitely at least two people: the vocalist and whoever the vocalist is going to guide home. That person is probably also the person whose body was black and blue. But there is probably a third person who is threatening to punch out the vocalists lights.

So as a narrative, this song might be about two teenagers dating and one of them has an abusive parent. Unless it really is just about two people in a rather disastrous relationship. But regardless it’s not really about the story so much as it is about the feeling: there’s chaos and violence and fear and at some point the vocalist decides to leave not out of an actual desire to do so but out of necessity, out of survival and desperation. And on top of that, the vocalist is not entirely sure if outside is more dangerous–it’s night and there’s a storm, no guarantee of safety, but at least it’s not where he is now about to get beaten. Bleak, yes, in comparison to Thunder which is uplifting.

In Thunder, the thunder and lightning is a good thing–a goal to be reached, to become so great that you change the sky, everyone looks up to see you, everyone listens; no one can beat you down. In It’s Thunder and Lightning, the thunder and lightning is neutral–force of nature which the vocalist decides is a better fate than the closer, human violence.

Ultimately what connects these songs, besides their titles, is the theme of leaving a toxic place–maybe to follow one’s dream towards a bright future, or maybe just to escape, braving the unknown to get away from the known danger. Moving on to bigger if not necessarily better things because to stay is to stagnate, be victimized, and die.

But you’re not here for an essay analyzing these two songs, you’re here for what I can make from the analysis as a prompt.

Frankly, lionheadbookends, whenever I see lightning (or thunder) my brain immediately goes to Tetsuki because she’s… well, she’s it for me. Maybe also Kiyoshi Utsugi–who has Lightning natured chakra as well–but given her specific circumstances it’s hard to apply prompts as easily to her.

Tetsuki is my go to OC–my everywoman, if you will–and this prompt could not be more suited to her. But it’s a very different side to her than I normally explore because it’s, well, less fun?

For me and for her, I think.

Because except for her “first life” that is, Trailblazers in KHR, Tetsuki doesn’t really have a toxic home life either because a) her families are kind if not loving or b) she has no home/family.

In her first life, Tetsuki’s parents were neglectful if not outrightly emotionally abusive. They might have possibly also been physically abusive earlier on–leading to Ryohei and Tetsuki taking up martial arts–but nothing that continued for long.

Were I to ever write Trailblazers properly, there would be a scene where, for the first time since the mafia madness started, Tetsuki’s parents came home (they travel a lot, mostly, hardly ever in Namimori which is why she can get away with so much but also where the neglect comes from) and suddenly the badass, cool senpai who will throw herself into this world of Flames and danger is just a teenaged girl who trembles whenever her parents raise their voices.

There would then be a point where–primarily the Sasagawas, but also the rest of the Family–remind her that she isn’t what they say she is, that she’s more than just a burden or an incompetent or whatever they say of her. And she leaves, probably to live with the Sasagawas properly (whose parents have always been quietly preparing for this day, pretty much have everything but the paperwork done to make her their third child) or, depending on the timeline, to a full-time member of Vongola.

So while it’s similar to the prompt idea, unfortunately, that’s not quite enough.

For this prompt I would probably go with a Viridescent–though I’m not yet sure what fandom would best house this particular episode–in which Tetsuki has the memories of her previous lives but none of the powers.

Which isn’t a combination I’ve yet done, I think. I’ve done powers and memories (Externality, Multiphenomenal, the Power Rangers Viridescent). I’ve done limited powers and limited memories (Iron Will). I’ve done powers but no memories (Deuteranomaly). But I haven’t done no power with memories.

I think I might have tried something like that previously in Big Hero 6 but I’ve put myself off of that fandom, unfortunately, and it wasn’t very good to begin with…

Because here’s the thing. In a new world where she has the memories but none of the powers, then that really brings the validity of the memories into question. If she could just randomly manifest lightning in her hand, that’s close enough to proof for the rest of the odd things in her life. But if she only has the memories and no way to prove it than what is inside her own mind, then there’s no way to tell if maybe it’s all just a delusion.

… which perhaps means it’s an Inception fic?

Hrm… but unless she encounters the characters, there’s not much point in her being in Inception given that it’s basically “the real world” but with mental espionage. And considering that, the memories themselves would give her powers as related to everyone else because she would have the best security ever if not also thorough forges or intricately physics-breaking architecture.

Ah, shit, that actually sounds pretty cool though.

So perhaps the fill to your prompt would be the “prologue” to this Inception Viridescent: like, Tetsuki is born in a “normal world” to awful parents who are, perhaps, so similar to her original, awful parents that it puts the rest of her memories into doubt. Maybe there never were any reincarnations or any fantastic powers, maybe it was just a desperate, over imaginative dream of a girl in a terrible situation.

Maybe she tries to run, tries to go to Namimori only to find it doesn’t exist. Maybe her grandmother was actually named Hisae Kaiza, but she passed long ago and certainly wasn’t a calligraphy/magic teacher. Gotham may very well exist, but there’s nothing on the level of the superheroes she knows (Nolan’verse Batman might very well be a real thing, given all of it is ~science~ and, possibly, Ra’s al Ghul’s “immortality” is him doing a pre-PASIV mind restructuring such that his consciousness gets passed onto a newer, younger body).

As far as she can find, none of her memories are real, and yet… she’d rather try to scrape out an existence out there, which may never be as good as the lives she remembers, than go back home which she knows for certain is worse.

And then maybe it gets worse. Maybe she is snatched–this is an awful world, but a lone teenage runaway who thinks she’s more powerful than she actually is will not survive long–and gets experimented on (there’s a new technology and different countries/companies are eager to be the first ones to crack it). She’s a fascinating subject, but hard to break, and so  they get her addicted to Somnacin thinking that will let them control her.

Maybe she escapes anyway, learns of extraction (and inception), of weaponizing dreaming and imagination, and turns her weakness into her strength.

I’m not saying she eventually ends up as Saito’s on-call secret keeper (extractors learn to fear the shadow of this mogul, the one whose mind can’t be broken into) but that is one way of getting her to interact with the characters. Maybe instead of him being “the tourist” it’s her.

Or maybe she’s just another professional dreamer in the world of Inception, dreaming of worlds and lives that probably don’t exist.

~

Check out the Ask Box Advent Calendar!

Viridescent: Or, Tetsuki Fights The Power Rangers (2017-11-17)

Her father is a fisherman in a sleepy town between the mountains and the sea.

They are a small family, but one that must work hard for their existence. She has a part time job and tries to contribute to their household of two.

Sometimes her father brings her presents–she remembers owning grander trinkets; jewelry and weapons and treasures that were both–but she likes the smooth driftwood and gleaming sea glass very much.

One day her father brings home a medallion–green encircled by gold.

///

School is school, mundane as ever, and this school is even more so. She keeps her head down and doesn’t act up and so she is invisible.

Being unseen means she can see everyone else.

She makes no friends, but neither does she make any enemies.

This does not hold true forever.

///

In her dreams a new voice appears… perhaps voice is the wrong word.

Maybe desire would be better: intent. Memory. Ghost.

But she is already haunted by many ghosts and so Rita’s rage does not overwhelm her.

///

Mr. Scott used to be drinking buddies with her father.

Used to, because now Mr. Scott is far too busy trying to hold his son back from the brink. Jason Scott is throwing his life off the rails, train wreck in the making, his potential wasted.

Or so her father says. He looks at her with grateful, relieved eyes:

She is not nearly so much trouble.

///

She gets hungry for gold. It gnaws at her stomach, her brain, Rita crooning instead of screeching, and so she decides to indulge.

But why murder and pillage when stealing is far more efficient and fun?

It’s just like stretching muscles long left unused.

///

Whatever language Rita speaks doesn’t translate very well. They are concepts more than words, emotions more than syllables.

And also, alien visual cortexes are different from human.

Yellow is still yellow (energy and recklessness), blue is still blue (loyalty and instincts), green is still green (sharp and unyielding).

But Rita’s red is more like Earth’s orange, pink closer to red, and black more of a dark purple. Or maybe indigo? Or maybe both, she never could tell the difference.

As pigment, that is.

///

She is still invisible–especially helpful now that the town is abuzz with news of the robberies–and so she notices connections bloom where before there were none.

A group where before there were only individuals.

That way lies trouble, she thinks; her father’s relieved eyes.

She turns away.

///

She just nabbed a couple of gold candlesticks from the town pawn shop, crunching into them like carrots as a midnight snack, and so Rita is as calm as she ever will be.

Because of that, the second voice deigns to make it’s presence known. It’s much quieter, beaten down and scared, but perhaps after almost two weeks of keeping Rita at bay it feels brave enough to speak.

Power Rangers, it says.

Energy Warriors, it means.

Flame Guardians, she understands.

///

But Rita’s voice is louder, angrier, and far less sentimental.

Power with a price. With a limit. Synergy–the sum greater than the parts.

The parts nothing without the sum, or so Zordon would have his team believe.

Five is powerful, yes, but not as stable as six.

She wanted independence. She wanted freedom. She wanted.

///

Months pass. The five rangers grow stronger.

More slowly, perhaps, without an enemy to prompt it, and confused at the lack of one, but stronger they grow all the same.

Synergy, the second voice whispers every time she passes one of its fellows

She supposes she can see the appeal of it, but they are looking for a fight, not a friend.

///

After her final robbery within the town–the awful cash for gold place with unfair rates–she realizes she’s made a mistake.

Not with the theft itself–no, she’s a professional… or she was one, once–but with her management of the situation.

The rangers are languishing without an enemy, but if what Rita says is true of the Zeo Crystal then someday there will be others who want it for themselves.

They need to be ready.

They need to be made ready.

///

The mountains are theirs, she can respect that, will not take that away from them. But she’s not going have the battle in the middle of town where casualties and fatalities are just waiting to happen.

The sea, then.

Just as well, it brought her the medallion.

///

Genjutsu against the sleeping rangers is ludicrously simple, but how to make it suitably frightening yet goading is the hard part. Rita and some of her other ghosts are more than happy to contribute.

The Dead Ships. Impending, if belated, doom.

Come stop her if they dare.

///

She announces that she’s going out, surprising her father who is on his own way out for work.

She never goes out, she has no reason to do so.

Fishing is best at night.

“By yourself?” He asks, worried. Then, suspiciously, “On a date?”

Ah, the perils of being the single father of a teenage daughter.

“No,” she says, “I’ll be meeting some people from school. Group project.”

She’s not really lying.

///

With the amount of gold she’s consumed–thefts branching out to neighboring cities–making a simulacrum of Rita is easy. Trusting her with it is far less so.

“There is a line,” she says. “If you cross it I will do worse than kill you.”

“Don’t think you can command me, Earthling wretch,” Rita responds.

They both know Rita doesn’t really mean it, but she definitely means hers.

///

Out in the water Rita and Goldar fight the Power Rangers in their Zords.

The sea froths from the battle, angry, ships bobbing about frantically with the waves.

There is a line.

The rangers form their own–protecting their town, struggling and straining against their enemy.

On the shore, she forms another.

///

Synergy, the second voice whispers.

Not yet, she responds.

Synergy requires trust.

///

Rita is defeated–Megazord something not even she could dream of–and as the simulacrum is slapped out beyond the atmosphere, her voice returns. Muted and exhausted; not exactly happy but… satisfied.

As a reward, there’s an ostentatious chandelier in the mayor’s house that’ll make quite the meal.

She did good, she’s earned it.

///

From her desk right next to Kimberly Hart, she notices the drawing.

She huffs a small, quiet laugh, trapping the noise into her shoulder: no need to draw attention to herself at this point.

A lightning bolt.

The significance doesn’t translate, but still. She’s touched.

///

Every Tuesday after school, Billy Cranston comes to her part time job–the legal one, that is.

He orders the cheapest thing available and sits at the smallest table and does his homework until, eventually, one of his fellow rangers calls him.

He doesn’t tell them why he does this every week. For nearly as long as they’ve known him, this is just something he does, one of his habits.

But she knows the truth: he doesn’t like donuts.

She can keep this secret, too.

~

A/N: Guess who recently watched the Power Rangers (2017) movie!

~Free movies on Delta flights~

I don’t think I’ll continue with this ‘verse. I especially don’t think this will be one of the “canon” ‘verses that Tetsuki goes to, but this fic flowed easily so…

If there are any future non-canon one-shots of Tetsuki going into other ‘verses, I’ll put it under the title Viridescent, too.