Disclaimer: The characters and situations, for the most part, don't belong to us. They belong to BVE and VR. Erin, Sarah, and the MOTD do, though.

Set between "I Love Lothor" and "Good Will Hunter".

Wallflowers

by Selma McCrory and Beth Epstein

Shane looked at Cam in amazement as the computer genius tapped keys and generally stared at the display, as if expecting something to happen. "You mean we know what they're doing?"

"Sort of," Cam answered. He glared, and Shane hopped off the computer table. "All I know is that it'll take place at some kind of teen gathering."

"Man, do you have any idea of how many there are of those?" Shane asked. "And are you sure that whatever-it-was recorded right?"

"It was Blake's tape recorder from that history class field trip," Cam answered. "And it was certainly a lucky thing that Marah and Kapri were in range." He tapped a sequence on the keyboard. "I can bring it up for you, if you want."

Shane threw up his hands. "Not doubting you, bro." With that, the Red Wind Ranger made his way towards the entrance. "Let me know if you figure out where."

Cam shook his head. "How am I supposed to...."

But Shane was gone. As his boots disappeared out of sight, a subtle light show drew Cam's attention, solidifying into a double of Cam in a green cap and loose green pants. "Why don't you let me look, bro?" Cam's virtual twin said, sauntering over next to where Cam sat. "You know how the old man will grumble if you don't get your daily requirement of other people."

"I need to run this search," Cam insisted.

"Hey, that's what you programmed me for, remember, bro?" CyberCam answered. "Why don't you go out to that users group meeting and leave the searching to me?" The program managed to look mischievous and innocent at the same time, something that was disconcerting to read on a mirror reflection of one's own face.

"All right," Cam said. "I get it." If he didn't know that his father was utterly clueless when it came to technology, he'd have said that CyberCam's programming had been tweaked. Maybe it had. Maybe CyberCam had done it himself after spending so long with Cam's father.

He got up reluctantly, letting CyberCam slip into the seat, and headed back to his room. It wasn't as spacious as his room at the academy, but it was all he had now. Inwardly, he fumed a little at being told to go and have fun when the world was at stake... but he didn't particularly feel like being outsmarted by his duplicate again.

As he entered his room, he paused by the filing cabinet to check on his fish. The rainbow colored betta came to the front of the tank, extending its gill flaps at him.

"Hey, Woz," Cam said, affectionately. His eyes passed over the green coverlet on his bed-- it was neatly made and he'd managed to actually find somewhere for his night clothes this morning. His laptop bag was slung over the desk chair, ready to accept the AlBook currently sitting on the desk.

Cam opened his closet and looked at his clothes and tried to figure out if he felt like wearing any of them.

Blake stuck his head in, "Hey, Cam... oh, never mind, forgot your user group meeting was tonight."

The Navy Ranger disappeared as quickly as he'd appeared.

Cam gave the doorway an odd look, then turned back to his closet. He finally settled on pine green pants and a black "Think Different" t-shirt.

* * *

"Hi, Cam," Sarah Woods said as he sat down at the user group meeting. It was held in the theater of the local public library, and was of course hard to find a seat. The group needed to find a newer, bigger location for sure. The cream-colored theater had its charm, with the old-fashioned seats and the cream-colored walls, reflecting the style of the whole library, but the meetings were starting to get to be standing room only. "What'cha up to?"

"A lot," Cam said, pulling his AlBook out. He knew he'd need it for the distributed computing demonstration later on in the meeting. "You?"

"Same old, same old. Got pulled into chaperoning at the all-city high school dance. My sis, Tam, is going to be there, and my mom got asked if I'd do it." She made a face.

"All-city high school dance?" Cam asked, suddenly interested. "As in…."

"Every teen that cares to dance is going to be there," Sarah said, shrugging bravely and getting her own iBook out. "Guess you don't have any teens in your life."

"Five in fact, but as far as I know, none of them are big into dancing," Cam told her. "Well, maybe Tori, but most of her passion is surfing."

"Lucky you," Sarah said, looking envious. "My little sis is into dancing, having a good time, partying… if it isn't that, it's the Rangers. Don't know what's worse, listening to her talk about this dance all the time or having to see all the Ranger fan sites."

"Ouch," Cam said in sympathy. He had his own scripts to tell him if any of the sites updated. He paused. "Actually, it would be nice to get away from the teenagers that I have to deal with. When's the dance, where, and do they still need chaperones?"

Sarah grinned. "You must be a glutton for punishment." She dug the flyer out of her purse. "Here you go. The chaperone number's at the bottom."

"Thanks, and I think I am," Cam said. "At least it'll be better since I know there will be a familiar face there."

Sarah beamed. "Thanks, Cam. I could really use the company."

"No problem," Cam said. "I'm sure I could even cover for you if you really don't want to go."

"Thanks, but... I've got to go. Promised my Mom." She grinned at him, in the way that someone resigned to doing something tends to smile.

* * *

"You're what?" Hunter asked, looking at Cam with an expression of incredulity mixed in with surprise.

The six Rangers were sitting around the table in Ninja Ops, and Cam had just pulled out the flyer and announced his plan.

"Chaperoning the all city high school dance," Cam said, indicating the flyer. "I think that's where Lothor's going to strike."

"But, dude, that thing is like..." Dustin started, uncrossing his legs and nearly bumping Shane on one side and Tori on the other.

Shane shrugged, ignoring Dustin's clumsiness. "We're just all going to have to go." He looked meaningfully at the rest of the team.

Dustin groaned, burying his face in his hands. "Dude, that means finding a date."

Tori glanced to her right at Blake, who looked down. She rolled her eyes, turning back towards Dustin.

Blake looked at Tori speculatively. He opened his mouth, and then snapped it shut again, and then repeated the process. Hunter, who was sitting on Blake's other side and watching his brother carefully, had to cover his mouth to hide a smirk.

"Blake, why haven't you just asked her?" Dustin said, motioning in Tori's direction.

Hunter got up, walked over, and shoved Dustin. "Dude, that was tactless."

"I'm going stag," Shane declared. "I'm not going to worry about this date thing."

"My lab partner was hinting about it," Hunter shrugged as he went back to his seat. "I'll just ask her and be done with it."

"Hunter," Blake said, warningly.

"What? She's a nice girl," Hunter said. His position was clear in the way his eyes glinted. It was as if he desperately wanted to prove something to himself. Or to the others. Or to Blake.

"Dude, nice, but you're likely to be talking about chemistry or computers the whole night," Blake told him.

"What's wrong about talking about computers?" Cam snapped as Hunter opened his mouth to retort. Cam knew he'd be talking about computer stuff with Sarah.

"Dude," Dustin said, squirming, "There's got to be something else to discuss. I mean, if you're not you...."

"Hey, Erin's a nice girl," Hunter said, defending himself and keeping Dustin from digging himself in any deeper with Cam.

"I don't care who you're going with," Cam said. "Stag might be better in fact." He knew there was no way to keep Sarah off the grounds, but one less teen might be good. Or several. Depending on what Lothor pulled.

"Unless you're Blake and Tori," Dustin teased.

"Dustin, you want to lay off them, or do you get to be my sparring partner for the next week?" Hunter threatened, getting up and looming behind Dustin.

"Um..." Dustin looked for a way to dig himself out of that one. He closed his mouth and mimed zipping his lips.

"Thanks, bro," Blake said quietly.

"So we're gonna be deer brothers?" Shane asked Dustin, jokingly. Trying to distract him from the very tall young man in crimson posturing behind him.

Dustin nodded, pointedly not saying anything.

"Hey, I can get her out of there at the first sign of trouble," Hunter pressed, looking at Cam, but not budging from his post behind Dustin. "Erin's my lab partner. I wouldn't do anything to hurt her."

Cam sighed inwardly. "Right. Just be careful, Hunter."

"Right," Hunter told him. He shifted from foot to foot. "So, Cam, I can ask her out?"

Cam's mouth quirked up in a half-smile. "Ask Dad. I'm not your legal guardian."

"Neither's he," Hunter pointed out. "Right to treat, yes. Legal guardian, no."

"Still... oh, work it out with Dad," Cam said, throwing up his arms, getting up, and heading for his computer terminal. "And make sure you guys buy tickets!"

"Well, duh," Hunter said, turning to follow Cam's movements. "What did you think we were going to do, sneak in?"

"I never know," Cam groused. He turned around and glared slightly at Hunter.

"Bro," Shane said, getting up and putting a hand on Cam's shoulder. "We'll buy. It's for a good cause."

"Work it out for yourselves," Cam said, frowning at the terminal, then getting up, as if to go to his room. "I've got a costume to figure out before then."

"Wait, costume?" Hunter asked, recoiling at the idea.

"It's a costume party," Cam said, pointing at the flyer still lying on the table.

"You can always do the name tag thing you threaten every Halloween," Blake grinned, getting up and looking at his brother.

"We don't want to be spotted by Lothor's goons, so you better not," Cam answered. "The same should go for all of you."

Blake grinned mischievously as he gave Tori a hand up. "You know, I saw some Power Ranger costumes..."

"Dude, they did that in the comic book-- part of the Brand series," Dustin said, joining the others on his feet and shaking his head.

"Not to mention, we don't want to attract attention," Shane said, but he was fighting a smile.

"I know what I'm dressing as," Tori said, smiling. She twirled around on her toes.

"Who? Cinderella?" Dustin said, teasing her. "You know, you have your very own prince...."

Shane left his position by the computer and moved, pulling Dustin over and covering his mouth.

"Actually," Tori wrung her hands, "I was thinking about dragging out..."

"Oh, no, not your Halloween costume from last year," Shane said. "Poor Blake will be beating off all the other guys with a stick."

"But I liked the genie costume! And I'm perfectly capable of beating off guys, what do I need Blake for?" Tori protested.

"Batgirl?" Hunter suggested, crossing his arms, looking for some way to find something that Blake could match.

"Only if I get to be Nightwing and not Robin," Blake said.

"Wait, since when were we coordinating?" Tori asked, turning to Blake.

"Dude, where are you gonna find a Nightwing costume on short notice?" Dustin asked, holding Shane's hand away from the mouth. Before Blake landed himself in trouble.

"I have my sources," Blake said, more confidently than he felt.

"That's the spirit!" Hunter said, clapping his brother on the back. "Why don't I go as the Shadow?"

Blake rolled his eyes. "Rod LaRock would make a better Shadow."

"I can go as a 60's guy, dude," Dustin volunteered, raising his hand.

"And you, Shane?" Tori asked.

"I'll decide later," the Red Wind Ranger said, shrugging. It was as if he really didn't care.

"No cutting up your Mom's sheets," Dustin reminded him. "You remember what happened the last time you decided to go as a ghost."

"Yeah, wasn't my brightest idea," Shane admitted. "I'll come up with something good."

* * *

"That's not too bad," Tori said, wandering up to him in her Batgirl costume. "And that mask really hides your face."

"Hey, nobody will recognize me," Shane said confidently, fingering the fake hockey mask.

"Dude, that's probably a good thing," Dustin said. He was wearing a leather headband and a peace-sign t-shirt with leather vest and jeans.

"Hey, why do you get to play a bad guy while we're all playing good guys?" Hunter wanted to know, swirling his dark cape around him and peering out from his half-mask.

"I figured it would confuse anybody who went for a whole bunch of people in superhero costumes," Shane replied.

"Isn't that what I'm for?" Dustin asked, indicating the hippie outfit. "Anybody see Cam?"

"He's in some kind of samurai or eastern outfit," Shane said. "I don't think he saw me, but I saw him."

"Samurai huh?" Hunter asked. "Why am I not surprised?"

"Wait, you didn't see before?" Tori asked. "I thought since he lives down the same hallway and everything…."

"Dude, Cam's been hyper secretive all week," Blake said. "He locked his door." He pouted at that, as if he'd been denied a treat.

"I wanna know who this Sarah person who's also chaperoning is," Hunter added. He took a sip of some punch and spit it back out into the cup. "Someone wasn't subtle about the spiking," he grimaced.

"Dunno," Dustin said. "It's not like he talks about her or anything." He shrugged, as if Cam's love life was none of his concern.

"We'll find out," Shane said. "He'll probably hang with her." He started looking about, as if Cam's Samurai outfit would be easy to spot.

"Oh, yeah," Dustin realized. "Right." He leaned back against the table, as if forgetting why the six of them were there.

"So," Blake said, in his Nightwing costume, "Let's mingle and find this monster." He seemed ready to go, and his face showed a steady determination.

"Hey, I'm the leader," Shane protested.

Blake cocked an eyebrow under his eyemask, as if to say, "Really?"

"Let's spread out and try to find the monster," Shane said, perhaps deciding that giving the order was probably a good thing to do.

* * *

So they did. Or at least they tried. The five of them scattered, Shane making sure to head off in Cam's direction and tell him the plan.

Blake looked around the room, at the multitude of costumes. "How am I supposed to find this thing?" he wondered. It seemed hopeless… unless they got lucky. They'd probably spend all evening trying to find it.

"Is it just me or is Lothor getting smarter?" Tori whispered, coming up from behind and taking his hand.

"As his plans go, this one seems to be the most viable since he tried to use Hunter and me," Blake replied in the same tone. "If you're an evil space ninja, trying to blend in with a bunch of teenagers, what do you do?"

"I don't think I wanna know, at least not if it involves an evil space alien trying to dance," Tori told him. "At least most of these costumes look fake." She waved an arm out, and Blake had to admit that most of them did look fake. Though Cam looked surprisingly good in a topknot as he passed within Blake's field of vision, accompanied by a… laptop costume?

"It's the realistic ones that I'm worried about," Blake said. "I bet it's going to be organic, not robotic." Which only made it harder.

Tori nodded. "You want to split up? Or stay?" Her expression held concern. As if he couldn't find something on his own, though he knew she knew that he could.

"Split up, but within sight of each other," Blake said. "That way, if one of us needs help…."

"The other can come," Tori acknowledged, letting go of his hand. "Gotcha."

The two of them separated, Blake heading towards a realistic-looking costume dancing with someone dressed as a gypsy.

* * *

"Thanks for asking me out, Hunter," Erin said. "Really appreciate it."

"Hey, no problem," Hunter replied. He looked at her costume. "You look good as a witch." He had to admit she did. Her pale chocolate skin kinda didn't go with the stereotypical witch's look, but she had worn green makeup on her face.

"Hey, you look good too," Erin replied. She brushed her dark hair back. "Never thought I would, y'know? Not like Mom."

Hunter shrugged. "You could have had worse foster parents."

"Yeah, and I know Mom and Dad love me very much." She cocked her head. "Nice to have another adoptee to talk about that to."

Hunter nodded. "Luckily, I've always had Blake. Though I have to admit he had it a little rougher."

"How so?"

"One look at him and it was obvious he's adopted. With me... it was much more subtle. He got the question inside of thirty seconds of anyone meeting the rest of the family--I only got it when I introduced Blake as my brother."

"With my Mom being white, I can totally sympathize," Erin said. She looked over his shoulder, as if looking for Blake.

Hunter grinned. "He's taken."

"He's not the one I'm here with," Erin said, pulling Hunter out onto the dance floor.

* * *

"I thought we were, like, supposed to be looking out for Lothor's monster?" Dustin asked Shane quietly as he watched Hunter dance with Erin.

"I guess Hunter forgot," Shane said. "That better be an act." He looked enviously at Hunter's ease with his date.

Dustin's gaze left Hunter and fixed on someone dressed as a flower on the back wall. "Hey, Shane, do you think it's suspicious that that guy hasn't moved in, like, an hour?"

Shane craned his head. "I think so, bro. Nobody could sleep through this." He saw Blake pass by, briefly obscuring the figure. "Let's go."

* * *

Blake had seen the figure, but pretty much had mistaken it for a decoration, since his mind was more occupied by Tori. Some part of his mind tried to remind him that he was there to find one of Lothor's monsters, but some instinct had caused him to seek out his fellow blue Ranger. Actually, what he wanted to do was go to Hunter for advice, but he wasn't about to bug his big brother when said big brother finally had a date.

Hunter would tease him mercilessly for such a transgression. Or make their next sparring session really, really hard on him.

Or shake the beds in the middle of the night.

So he wouldn't bug Hunter. That left him on his own, trying to pick Tori out in the sea of costumed teenagers, moving in an almost primal rhythm in time to the music. There were presents, lobsters, hipsters, beatniks, hippies (one of whom should be Dustin), and even an Earth Force officer. But he couldn't find anyone dressed as Bat Girl anywhere.

He wished he knew what to do about Tori. Blake had been trying to figure out how to approach her ever since they'd met, and somehow he'd never been able to ask her out. Oh, he'd tried after that whole thing with General Trayf, but she'd been on punishment duty.

"Why am I even trying?" he wondered out loud. Tori wasn't going to go out with him. She probably still saw him as the scheming Navy Thunder Ranger who had taken Cam hostage and kidnapped her sensei. He was lucky she hadn't tried to rip his lungs out.

"Never mind, dude, we think we found it over there," Dustin said, completely misunderstanding his exclamation and grabbing Blake by the collar and pointing at the figure. "Where's Tori?"

"Still looking for it..." Blake said, craning his neck, still trying to find her.

"Miss me?" Tori asked, coming over to them and putting an arm around each of their shoulders.

*Great, she thinks of me as a friend,* Blake thought.

"Think we found the monster," Dustin replied.

"Right," Tori said. "Where?" She looked around.

"Flower-dude over there," Dustin said, pointing at the literal wallflower. "Hasn't moved in about an hour."

Tori nodded, craning her head. "Right. Those petals look too good to be tissue paper or paper mache'. Has anyone told Cam and Hunter?"

"I'll go get them," Blake said, starting to take off, ready to wade into the throng of swaying teenagers.

"We could just call," Shane pointed out, indicating his morpher.

Blake kept walking. Dustin caught him by the arm, stopping him.

"You sure you're okay, dude?" Dustin asked. "You seem a little... distracted."

Blake just shrugged. "Got a few things on my mind." Or at least one. He looked covertly at Tori. He knew he had to focus, but it was hard.

"Shane for Hunter and Cam."

"Go for Cam." Cam answered after about half a minute, probably having to get away from Sarah.

There was no reply from Hunter, and Shane frowned. It wasn't like the Crimson Ranger to not answer... Shane made a mental note to talk to Hunter after the mission was done.

In the meantime.... "Cam, we think we've found the monster on the north side of the building. We're by the refreshments table," Shane said.

"Right. Cam out." Cam's response sounded firm and Shane knew that their sixth would be there shortly. Hunter, on the other hand….

He tried again. "Shane for Hunter."

There was no response. Shane frowned and started looking around. "Hunter better be dancing."

Blake, meanwhile, had spotted his brother on the dance floor. "I don't think he's hearing his communicator. I'll get him."

Blake waded out on the floor, then paused in the middle.

"Dude?" Dustin asked, coming up to him.

"What am I doing again?" Blake shook his head as if to clear it.

"Looking for your big bro." Dustin frowned.

"There he is," Blake said, finding him a few feet away. He went up and tapped Hunter on the shoulder.

Hunter and Erin separated, eying him skeptically.

"I'm sorry, Erin, can I borrow Hunter for a few minutes? I kinda need to talk to him."

"Sure," she said.

Hunter opened his mouth to object, but Blake hauled him bodily away.

"Blake, this is a hell of a time to need advice," Hunter said testily.

"But..." Blake said, not able to form the rest of the sentence.

Dustin started pushing them both towards the group.

Blake's mind snapped into focus. "We found the monster you moron," Blake hissed. "I wouldn't really bug you during a date just 'cause I can't figure out how to to talk to Tori."

"You don't seem to have that much trouble during practice," Hunter pointed out reasonably.

"This is different!" Blake whined.

"You know, bro, you shouldn't have that much of a problem," Hunter said, looking at his younger brother as the three of them hurried towards the others.

"She's Tori!" Blake exclaimed, two seconds before the two of the them arrived at where the others waited. *Why does Hunter hate me?*

"Yeah, so?" Dustin asked.

"So what?" Tori asked, looking curiously at the three.

"Nothing," the three boys chorused.

"So, how do we want to tackle this?" Hunter asked, hastening to change the subject. "Literally?"

"Tackle what?" Cam asked, his gaze settled across the room.

"Monster," Hunter said. "Preferably before Erin thinks I've ditched her for my friends."

"Rush it?" Shane asked thoughtfully.

"Oh, yeah, that'll be inconspicuous," Tori said, shooing the notion away.

"Uh-huh," Blake said dreamily.

Hunter snapped his fingers. "Snap out of it, bro. Now's no time for sleeping on the job. Let's get this over with."

"Right," Shane said, coming to a decision. "Follow me."

He walked off towards the monster, the others hurrying to follow.

The costume in question looked at them lazily, then looked down again. It was playing with a Gameboy. It was as if they didn't matter.

"What up, dog? Watch'a playin?" Blake asked in his friendliest voice, trying to seem casual and non-threatening.

The costume looked up and snarled.

"Brilliant, bro," Hunter said shaking his head.

While the Thunders were distracting the figure, Cam snagged the Gameboy. Hopefully nobody would blink at a chaperone taking something away from one of the students.

As the costume got up and lunged at Cam, Tori grabbed the gameboy and made her way towards the nearest exit. The monster followed her through the press of the crowd, and the others followed it.

Soon, the six Rangers and the monster were alone in a nearby schoolyard, painted basketball courts beneath their feet.

"What are you going to do now, little Rangers? Cut me down like you did my cousin?" the monster roared. "I am Wallflower! You will not defeat me!"

"Knew I'd seen something like this before," Shane said, realizing.

"I haven't," Hunter said.

"You were on walkabout, or wherever you were, dude," Dustin said helpfully.

"Kelzaks!"

The monster was surrounded by many of the twittering, mop-topped beasts.

"Ready?" Shane said, looking meaningfully at his teammates.

He was greeted with determined nods.

"Ninja Storm!"

"Thunder Storm!"

"Samurai Storm!"

"Ranger Form!"

"Oops, this yours?" Tori said as the monster lunged at her. She held up the 'Gameboy' teasingly.

"Hey, that looks like fun, can I look, Tori?" Dustin asked, joining in on the fun.

"Sure!" Tori tossed it at him.

Wallflower started for Dustin, clearly aiming for the 'Gameboy'.

"Hey, bro, can I see that?" Blake asked, holding out his hands.

"Sure," Dustin tossed it to Blake.

Wallflower reversed direction.

"Hey, I'm older!" Hunter proclaimed. "I should see it first!" But it was said with amusement.

Blake tossed it to Hunter. "Have fun, Bro."

Hunter caught the 'gameboy'. "Hey, Cam. You're the chaperone--maybe you should officially 'confiscate' this." He tossed it off to their Green Ranger. "See if it's dangerous."

"Oh, I have no doubt it's dangerous... in the wrong hands," Cam said. "Fortunately, I have a perfect solution to that!" He tossed it to the ground, whipping his Samurai Sword out.

"No! My device!" Wallflower said. It knocked Cam out of the way. That was what Cam was expecting, though, and he charged the monster to keep it distracted.

"Guys! Now!" Cam called, getting out of the line of fire.

The Rangers each pulled out their blaster weapons and fired.

Wallflower began smoking, but was not yet destroyed. Its device momentarily forgotten, it let loose an electrical blast to toss the Rangers off their feet. And then it swung to retrieve its device.

Cam kicked Wallflower, sending it careening into a wall and retrieving the device. "You guys might want to try something a little higher powered."

"Right," The others chorused, putting together the Thunderstorm Cannon.

As Wallflower charged Cam, the others blasted it, and it fell over, exploding.

Cam picked up Wallflower's disguised device. "I'll take this home and analyze it."

"Er, dudes? Little complication," Dustin said, as a large scroll unrolled.

Cam spoke into his Samurai Saber. "Hey, CyberCam, I think it might be Zord time."

"Right on it, bro," his double said cheerfully. "Launching, now!" Cam heard a beep as the Zord sequences engaged.

"Got a strategy?" Shane asked.

"Form the combined megazord and blast it to bits before our dates ditch us?" Hunter said.

"At least those of us who have dates, you mean?" Shane asked.

"I told you to go stag," Cam added.

"Look, let's just get on with it," Hunter told them impatiently as his Zord appeared and he leaped into it.

Blake followed his brother, shaking his head. "Worrywart."

"Dude, at least I know how to talk to a girl," Hunter claimed.

"He can talk to girls," Tori said. "He talks to me."

Hunter laughed, but didn't say anything as the Zords started the Megazord sequence.

"Okay, Hunter," Shane said as both Megazord sequences finished. "Let's combine!"

"Right!" Hunter called, punching a control.

The two Megazords combined into their dual configuration, Cam piloting his helicopter to hover just overhead.

"OK, Dustin, shall we try blasting this thing?" Shane suggested.

"Right," Dustin said.

"Fire," everyone said in ragged unison.

Wallflower, charging at them, found itself in the full burst and wilted.

The Rangers cheered, disengaged the Zords, then hopped out. Hunter powered down as he ran back into the dance.

The others exchanged glances, then followed him.

"Think anyone will notice we're missing?" Dustin asked.

"Nobody except maybe Sarah and Erin," Tori answered.

"I'll have to vouch for you guys to get back in if anyone noticed," Cam said. "And I doubt even Sarah did."

"Hunter's going to be pissed if Lothor's monster ruined his date," Blake said. "At least that's over." He sounded relieved. He looked over at Tori. "So, when we get back, wanna dance?"

Tori smiled. "I thought you'd never ask." Something clicked. "Wait, Hunter said you were having trouble talking to girls..."

"Tori, I feel like I could talk to anyone right now," Blake said confidently.

Tori took his hand, but said nothing.

Cam opened the door and spoke to someone. "It's okay, they're paid up and were under my supervision the whole time," he said. He let the others through.

"Thanks Cam," Shane whispered as the Rangers slipped back into the room.

Cam craned his neck and looked around. "Looks like Hunter got back in all right."

The others looked where he was looking. "I just hope he didn't use his powers in public," Tori said. "Or he'll be hearing about it from Sensei."

"Hunter's pretty sneaky," Blake said. "And this is his first real chance to have a date since... well, ever."

"Sensei Omino didn't let you date?" Tori asked.

"I think Hunter was about old enough, but Sensei Omino really wanted us to concentrate on our training," Blake said.

"What about you? Are you old enough?" Tori asked.

"Probably he would think I was a little young," Blake said, "But he's not here." He looked apologetically at Tori. "He probably wouldn't be big on me dating someone from the Wind Academy, either. At least I'm not dating Cam."

"You're not my type," Cam said smoothly.

Both Rangers glared at him.

"If you don't want me listening in, go dance, don't just stand here where I'm supervising."

"Right," Blake said. "Tori?"

She smiled. "Right." She let Blake lead her onto the dance floor.

Soon Cam was left alone. "So, where'd you disappear off to?" Sarah asked as he reached her side.

"Had some matters to deal with," Cam said. "Did I tell you about the time I reengineered a Kanga motherboard and components into a Wintel notebook?"

"You what?" Sarah asked incredulously. "Why'd you want to do that?"

Cam smiled and explained as they stood and did their duties as chaperones.

* * *

"So what does that thing do, anyway?" Blake asked Cam in Ninja Ops the next day when he was dissecting the "Gameboy".

"It looks like it emits some kind of ray," Cam said thoughtfully. "It magnifies such emotions as fear, uncertainty, doubt, even some anger."

"Is that why I was freaking out more than usual?" Blake asked.

"If I'm guessing right," Cam said, "You probably were."

Blake chuckled. "So it wasn't just being at a dance with Tori?"

"No," Cam said, putting the device down.

"Hey, bro, she knows how you feel about her, it's just you couldn't see it because of the ray," CyberCam said, coming up on one side. "I could see it on the monitors when it hit you."

"And you couldn't think to warn us?" Cam asked.

"Hey, I didn't have time," CyberCam said, throwing up his hands. "I'll back out of this, bro. Like, now."

CyberCam disappeared.

"Dude, that twin bro of yours? Really scary," Blake said.

"I think I need to adjust some of his personality subroutines, that was rather intrusive," Cam said, opening his laptop.

"Think he's right?"

"Maybe," Cam allowed. "Don't worry about it, Blake."

Blake gave Cam a look that teenagers had been giving their elders for eons. It said Are you insane? Don't you get it? But Cam was poking at the computer, adjusting subroutines, or whatever he did. "All right," Blake said, knowing Cam didn't understand.

"Ready to go the track, bro?" Hunter said, as he arrived in Ninja Ops dressed in civvies and carrying his safety gear.

"Yeah," Blake said, picking up his own armor, "let's go."

The End

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