The kids that made up one of the Dojo’s most popular training class were just about finished for the day. Casey watched them all fondly. He never thought that ‘he’ would be the one teaching kids. Not with everything that had happened to him. But he was and he had RJ and Master Mao to thank for that.
At the thought of RJ, Casey’s smile widened. It was an unconscious gesture but one he had been noticing more and more whenever he thought of him. However Casey did not see what the big deal was. RJ was his friend, nothing more. Besides even if they could be something more, it is not like RJ even would…No.
He was not going there.
“Okay class,” Casey clapped his hands to get his student’s attention. Plus it was the only way to distract himself from thoughts on RJ.
“As you know the Expo will that we are hosting starts in two weeks.” Casey informed his class to their excitement. The Martial Arts Expo had been a surprise for everyone at the dojo, the children most of all.
“I and the other Sensei’s will be choosing who will compete in the various demonstrations.” Casey held up a hand to ward off any questions.
“You all will be informed about the decisions, whatever they are next week.” Casey finished telling them.
“This is going to be great!-”
“I can’t believe this.-”
“I hope all of us can compete-”
Casey laughed at all the excitement.
“So do you know who is competing?” Lily asked Casey.
“No,” Casey mumbled over a mouth full of pizza. “A decision hasn’t been made, and to be honest I won’t be the one making it.” He informed his friend.
“Why not?” Fran queried. “You are really liked there and your class is perfect for a beginner’s intro.”
“Or something,” She finished after noticing the looks she was getting.
“Been talking to Dom, Fran?” Casey smiled at her.
“Well yes, now that you mentioned it. I have.” Fran blushed.
“Hey when’s he coming home anyway?” Theo asked, appearing out of nowhere.
“Oh!” Fran started,
Casey looked at his teammate. “Where’d you come from?”
“From the back, I was helping RJ.”
Lily nudged the still blushing girl. “So when’s he coming back?”
“Oh uh…soon. Sometime soon.” She stumbled. “That’s all he would tell me when I asked.
“Maybe RJ would know.” Theo said.
“Yeah, maybe.” Casey said distractedly. His attention had been mostly focused on the back of JKP. Where RJ was.
Making a split decision, Casey grabbed a plate and some pizza, “Hey I’ll go bring some of this to RJ.”
Casey stopped at the door and watched RJ with a curious expression. He was looking up at the sky, Casey would say he was looking at the stars except the lights from the nearby shops and homes prevented very good star gazing.
“Hey,” Casey quietly said. He walked out and stood leaning against the wall. “I figured you would be hungry so,” he shrugged and offered him the plate.
RJ leant against the wall next to him, close enough that their shoulders touched. Casey chose to ignore the warmth hat spread through his body at that simple touch.
“My father came again, today,” RJ murmured into the silence several minutes later.
Casey winced, “Yeah sorry about that, I told him I wouldn’t be training as much but…”
RJ smiled into the night, “It’s me he wants to see, compadre, not you.”
“There really is no other reason for him to visit is there?”RJ asked turning to look at him breaking the contact with Casey as he did so. The warm feeling Casey had had suddenly vanished. He frowned as the contentment he was feeling disappeared. He did not want to analyze why it had. He wasn’t going to period. It’s not like RJ had even shown any interest in…No.
RJ glanced at him curious. Casey gave him a slight smile, extremely glad it was too dark for RJ to see his heated face.
“It’s nothing,” Casey hastily told him. “Really.”
“My father seems to think that our relationship has been fixed,” RJ stated. Casey stirred at the abrupt non sequitor
“Haven’t things been better?” Casey asked him.
“But better does not make up for years of no communication,” RJ continued. Casey listened. This was as serious as he had ever heard RJ talk especially without his usual flair for well, anything.
“I suppose you could say we are both at fault for our separation,” RJ carried on seemingly not caring if Casey heard. He seemed to just be talking to the night around them.
“My father has a very strong opinion,” Here RJ gave Casey an amused glance, which Casey shared. He had spent enough time with Master Finn to sympathize with RJ. “As I’m sure you’ve noticed.” Master Finn did have a strong opinion especially in regard to Pai Zua. But Casey could not see how that would cause…Casey paused in contemplation ‘oh’. Master Finn was so strict in his training that the freer RJ more than likely chafed often in the bonds of Pai Zua.
‘That would probably explain why Master Mao let Dom go traveling with his blessing.’ Casey thought amusedly.
“We did not always agree with each other,” RJ once again stated. “My father especially did not understand my chosen lifestyle,” RJ waved his hand, a peculiar note to his voice as he continued, “Or, more than likely, never wanted to. I do not think that that particular thing has changed.”
“You don’t believe him.”
“I…choose to believe that he believes he has changed.” Casey noted the resignation in RJ’s voice. Casey hearing that note could not help but agree with RJ.
“I still think you should give him some credit RJ.” Casey tried to reason with his friend despite his misgivings. “Just because you chose to leave Pai Zua and not teach doesn’t mean you are not successful.” Casey told his friend firmly, passionately.
“I mean you helped us, you didn’t need to but you did.” Casey continued while turning to face him. “Master Mao believed that you would otherwise he never would have sent us to you.”
“Master Finn has to understand that.”
“It is not my leaving Pai Zua, that he is so opposed to Casey.” RJ told him bemused at the red ranger’s defense of his person. He smiled warmly at the confused look that took over Casey’s face.
“Than what…?” Casey began.
“Hey guys,” Lily’s voice caused Casey to fall silent. “Are you coming in? It’s getting a little chilly out here.”
“Will be right there, Lily.” Casey distractedly said, more focused on RJ than Lily’s question.
“It’s getting late.” RJ calmly said his eyes had never left Casey’s.
“Come on you two,” Theo impatiently told them, sticking his head out the door and utterly oblivious to the serious tension filled atmosphere. “The girls are eating all the ice cream.”
Casey stared at RJ, both of them had very serious looks in their eyes, yet RJ’s, Casey noted, had a twinkle in them that Casey had never noticed. He blinked. When he opened his eyes RJ was RJ and the serious atmosphere had disappeared with their friend’s interruptions.
“Come on.” RJ murmured as he started inside.
Casey stared after his friend. There was something in RJ’s expression, something Casey would really like to understand. And what did RJ mean about his father being opposed to?
Casey followed RJ inside, confusion mixed with something else warred inside of him. Something he was hesitant to name.
“So RJ, when is Dom coming home?”