General Disclaimer: I do not own Jungle Fury or Power Rangers.
AN: Sorry I took so long to update, guys. My muse wanted to get ahead in the plot without the build up behind it so I have been arguing with my muse (read: myself) for weeks. That and I struggled with this chapter several times scrapping previous versions before I settled on this one.
So for my apology, I give you a chapter solely devoted to Casey and RJ. Well, mostly anyway. You should all thank ChildofDarkness1988, my wonderful beta, who made this part enjoyable to read. Thank You!!
Casey groaned into his pillow and finally gave up. He rolled over onto his back; sleep was seemingly avoiding him tonight. He should be tired, and he was; he had not had many periods to rest during the eventful day. He was truly exhausted, but there was a feeling nagging him at the back of his mind. It was this feeling, Casey knew; that kept him from the wonderful world of blessed sleep.
He just didn’t know what it meant, or what it wanted. He had, however, learned long ago to never ignore his feelings, no matter how inconvenient or unusual.
He glanced at the red numbers glaring at him from his nightstand. The neon red numbers said 2:43; In the morning. Casey threw an arm over his eyes and sighed. If he was going to be staying up, he might as well get something to eat.
Casey paused as he made his way out of bed to the refrigerator. There sitting at the counter was RJ, eating ice cream. It was then that he realized that, oh yeah, he was not wearing a shirt.
“Hey.” Casey said as he nodded to the older man.
“Hello.” RJ quietly answered as he watched his Red Ranger.
“Any more of that?” Casey queried, nodding towards the bowl of ice cream in front of RJ.
“Of course,” RJ stated, “I would not deprive the joy of ice cream to any when I can prevent it.”
Casey laughed as he opened the freezer, “So what are you eating? Theo went shopping so I am kind of dreading what I will-Hey rocky road!”
RJ watched the shirtless blond, as he looked through the loft’s freezer. He was not opposed to the view he was getting during the ordeal either. Casey without a shirt...Not something he has seen too often; but definitely something he hoped he would get to see a lot more. All the time, preferably.
“I can’t believe he actually bought this,” Casey excitedly told RJ, waving his spoon in the man’s direction, “Theo hates this flavor.”
“Ah,” RJ said lifting a finger, “Theo likes you, and he does on occasion, manage to buy things that all of us enjoy...”
He took in Casey’s disbelieving facade.
“Very little of the time.” He amended because Casey was right; Lily or he supplied most of the junk food. Theo was even more of a healthy eater than he was at times.
Casey took a spot at the counter across from RJ, even as he leaned across it. RJ raised his eyebrows at that minuscule invasion of personal space; Casey seemed unaware of what he had done; not that RJ was complaining. He had just never seen Casey lean over the counter as he was; Most of his upper body lying on the counter.
Casey watched RJ as he continued eating his ice cream. The warmth that spread through his body had long since ceased to surprise him with its presence. It was just how RJ made him feel and he was okay with that. More than okay really, he would love RJ to reciprocate but he knew that such a reaction, thus far, was unlikely. However, Casey would continue being his friend and continue pushing however lightly, all because he did not want that amazing feeling to ever leave. It comforted him to think that it would always be that way, that he could count on RJ and the others to be there no matter what. It was something he had not been used to growing up.
He was afraid that now, that it was all he knew, and he would have a hard if not extremely difficult time letting go of the safety, of that certainty that someone always had his back.
“So,” Casey said as he waved his spoon at RJ, “What do you think about me training with your Dad?”
RJ did not quite manage to hide his surprise at the non sequitur.
“I do not think that it is my opinion that you want, Casey.” RJ told the Tiger plainly. Casey could make his own decisions. He had no problems with his teammates training with their mentors. Even Masters needed to train. Himself notwithstanding, he would of course train with the others if asked but beyond that…
No, his reluctance involving Casey training with his father had to do with other, he winced internally, personal problems. Ones he was sure his father would no doubt bring up whenever Casey decided to resume training with him.
“Why wouldn’t I want it?” Casey responded, bewildered.
“I-,” RJ stopped, would it really matter if he gave his opinion? “It is not my opinion you need since it is not my respect and honor that you want.”
Casey paused considering, “I do care about your opinion RJ, Finn might have been my mentor but so were you, and believe it or not your opinion means more to me than your dad’s.”
To be honest, the fact that your dad keeps insisting that we still train hurts a little,” Casey said not looking RJ in the eyes.
“It’s like he doesn’t think I’m ready; that I don’t deserve the Master Title.” Casey sighed “And maybe-,”
“No maybe.” RJ cut him off. Only his father could make Casey doubt himself now, and all because he is more concerned about protocol and tradition. “You’ve earned this rank Casey, never doubt that. You are a great teacher. Even if you do teach outside of Pai Zua. Neither Lily nor Theo have made that decision either and yet you would not think them incapable would you?”
“Of course not!” Casey looked affronted at the very idea that he would think his friends incapable.
“Then why doubt yourself?” RJ asked as he tilted his head.
Casey opened his mouth as if to answer, and closed it when he could not think of one.
“Exactly.” RJ said, “There is no reason and you need to believe that Master Finn does not doubt your capabilities as well.” RJ told him. Even if he says otherwise.
“I-,” Casey stopped, “Thanks.” He replied instead.
“But I would still like to hear your opinion.” Casey continued, “I know you and your dad don’t have the best relationship. I get that, I do. But you still have some idea of how his mind works... And I really don’t think it’s a good idea to bring it up to Master Swoop.” Casey finished.
RJ had to smile at the thought. No, bringing up the fact that his father was, essentially, one-step away from demanding that Casey turn up for training, would not be a good idea.
Especially since, unlike Casey, Swoop would have some idea about what was actually going on.
“No it would not,” RJ finally answered amusement coming off him in waves, “But it would be interesting to watch the outcome.”
Casey laughed. “Yes it would.”
Casey looked back at his mostly melted bowl of Rocky Road, he had been thoroughly distracted by the conversation with RJ.
Casey sighed, “Well, I’m finished,” he told the man, tipping the bowl in the direction of RJ, “You?”
RJ nodded and handed the bowl over.
“Why couldn’t you sleep?” RJ wondered.
“Just couldn’t stop thinking,” Casey shrugged.
“About?” RJ queried his friend, something was troubling the Red Ranger and he would like to know what it was.
“Just things…work, training, stuff like that.”
RJ wordlessly implored him to continue.
“I was thinking a lot about training with your dad, and you know teaching at the dojo…” Casey paused, he was not sure what it was exactly he had been pondering, but telling RJ was proving more difficult than he thought.
“It’s just I know in the long run that Lily and Theo will teach at the academy. I mean not now of course since we all like working here but in the future. That is something they want to do. And I don’t know if I want…”
“You don’t have to follow their footsteps Casey,” RJ responded, thoughtful, “After all, we are, all of us, our own person. We make our own decisions, no matter the thoughts of others.” RJ finished raising his eyebrow, reminding Casey of his family.
Casey nodded his acknowledgement at the slight censure in RJ’s voice.
“Thanks RJ,” Casey told the Purple Ranger.
“On that note, I believe we should both get some rest,” RJ stated standing up and stretching.
“Yeah,” Casey laughed, “I’m pretty sure we’re both going to get wrangled into party planning.”
“Of that I have no doubt.”
Casey had moved around the counter so when RJ turned around to head to bed he was very, very close to Casey’s bare chest. He was not quick enough to hide the flash of desire that made his eyes darken and shine. He could only hope that Casey would not notice.
Casey stood so close to him, and all RJ had to do was lean in and he could…'No.' He told himself sternly; As much as he wanted to, Casey had to be the one to make the first move. He would not risk doing something, anything, if Casey was not ready.
“Good night, Casey.” RJ finally managed to say his gaze never leaving Casey.
“Night.” Casey responded, even softer as he gently moved away and out of sight of the Wolf master.
RJ did not see Casey’s eyes widen in shock as he walked away. Casey had seen the desire in RJ’s eyes; it was a look that Casey had seen before; many times, but it never had meaning to it. Even now, Casey was afraid to convince himself that he was not only imagining it; having been sure, that RJ would never have feelings for him. Casey hadn’t even realized his own feelings for RJ until recently, but now… Now he should rest and when he woke up Casey could only hope that this encounter had not been a dream.
RJ closed his eyes, fighting the almost overwhelming urge to follow Casey to bed.
Neither had noticed the yellow clad figure that had, unintentionally, observed the entire encounter.
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