Disclaimer: Characters and situations are the property of BVE and Village Roadshow. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's note: I'm not sure where to place this one. No spoilers past Samurai's Journey. It may become an AU fic at any time.
"Gross!" Blake exclaimed. He'd gone to get one of their glasses from the cabinet and found a bug crawling around inside.
Hunter wrinkled his nose. "Think it's worth complaining to the super again?"
"Not really," Blake sighed in frustration. "Tell me again why this is better than the tent?"
"The roof doesn't leak in a downpour?" Hunter tried.
There was a knock on the door.
"Great, it's the neighbors complaining about the 'noise' again," Hunter sighed, going to open the door.
He opened the door to reveal Shane, Tori, Dustin, and Cam, each carrying a stack of collapsed boxes that looked like they'd come from Storm Chargers.
"What are you guys doing here?" Hunter asked.
"And what are the boxes for?" Blake added.
"You lied to us," Cam said, his voice tightly controlled.
"You said you had a place to stay," Shane added.
Hunter gestured around the small apartment. "We do."
"In this flea trap?" Tori asked.
Blake's posture melted into one of embarrassment as he joined his brother at the door.
"You guys aren't even eighteen," Cam said. "Either you help us pack and come with us, or I'll go inform the super."
"You're lucky he didn't figure it out on his own," Shane added.
"And call child protection services," Tori added.
The Thunders both shuddered.
"Where do you suggest we go?" Hunter asked. "It's not like we can afford enough rent to get a real place."
"Ninja Ops had a guest room," Cam said. "Now it's yours. I don't think you're going to find a place more reasonable than free."
"We couldn't," Blake said.
Dustin clapped Blake on the shoulder. "You don't have a choice man."
"Wanna bet?" Hunter asked, crossing his arms.
"Your only choices are the easy way or the hard way," Cam said. "And the hard way includes telling my Dad that you lied to him. Which would probably mean a twenty mile jog."
"No big," Blake said.
"Every day for a month," Cam added.
Hunter and Blake looked at each other.
"We need to give a week's notice," Hunter tried. "Or we lose our deposit."
"Which is two weeks' rent," Blake added.
"You don't have to live here for that week to get your deposit back," Cam said reasonably. "You just have to pay the rent."
The Thunders sighed in resignation, allowing the other Rangers into their apartment.
"Come on guys, cheer, up, I'm not that bad to live with," Cam said, clapping them on the shoulders.
Blake and Hunter just looked at each other and shrugged.
Blake grabbed a box, "I'm gonna go start packing clothes."
"Want help?" Tori asked.
"Um, thanks but, ah..." Blake started.
"You don't want a girl helping pack up your underwear?" Tori asked.
"Not especially," Blake replied.
"Nah, we've got the clothes. You guys can pack up in here," Hunter said.
"The TV set came with the place," Blake added.
Shane was all ready poking around in the cabinets. "You guys did your shopping at the dollar store I see."
Blake and Hunter retreated to the safety of the bedroom to pack up their clothes. They didn't want to be easily visible targets when the rest of the team found out they'd been living off generic breakfast cereal and cup ramen. Hopefully the others would calm down before they were finished packing up the bedroom, such as it was.
That was a lecture that would probably take the whole ride to Ninja Ops.
* * *
"Want some more, Blake?" Cam asked as he got up.
Blake pushed his plate away. "No, thanks, Cam, I think I'm stuffed. Where'd you learn to cook like that anyway?"
"You'll understand the second you get to college and have to eat in the dining halls. Though why you two didn't learn to cook when you got your own apartment..." Cam said.
"We were saving up for a pot," Hunter said, as if it were obvious. "That was our best meal in a long time, Cam, thanks."
"You see?" Cam asked.
"You'll see why we were so hesitant about living here when we rescue Sensei Omino and he raises three kinds of hell over our living with a Samurai and the Wind Ninja Academy Sensei," Hunter said.
"We're gonna be grounded until we graduate from college," Blake added.
"Let me worry about Sensei Omino," Sensei said as he wandered back into the room. "I will persuade him that living here with us was in your best interest."
"Yes, Sensei," Blake and Hunter chorused, exchanging glances.
They very much doubted that Sensei Omino would be so easily persuaded. But as Sensei had let them off with a warning over their living arrangements, they weren't about to push their luck. Especially as Cam could suddenly mention that he'd glossed over the unsupervised nature of their last place, not to mention the unsafe neighborhood and the bugs. They'd simply told Sensei that the team felt Blake and Hunters previous home wasn't safe for them anymore. And he'd accepted that simple truth at face value.
Cam started loading dishes into the dishwasher.
Hunter grabbed his arm, "Let us clean up, bro, you cooked."
"It's only fair," Blake added, starting to clear the table.
"I want you two to start on your homework when you finish," Sensei admonished.
"Yes, Sensei," Blake and Hunter said at once.
Cam's dinner had almost made them forget about the downsides of parental authority.
Then again, the Ninja Ops kitchen was free of bugs, full of real food, and the roof didn't leak when it rained.
There were tradeoffs to everything.