Title: Always A Chance
Fandom: Power Rangers
Rating: PG
Warning: Spoilers for PRIS episode 'Always A Chance'
A/N: Here it is! I gotta say, I'm really happy with how this one turned out and I hope you are too. As always: I couldn't'a done it without my amazing beta lilyleia78:)  Any mistakes are mine but you can blame them on Carlos muse if you like
Prompts: [info]pyramid_dares: Sands of Time & [info]5trueloves: Words

Disclaimer:
I have no claim to the power rangers series, characters or anything else recognisable as being a part of the power rangers concept. There is no money being made from this work of fiction.
 
Adam had just walked through the door and deposited an armful of shopping bags on the countertop when the phone began to ring. Snatching up the receiver and breezing out a cheery greeting, he tucked it neatly under his cheek and started to sort through the mail his roommate had dropped off, keeping only half an ear to his caller and already running the math for various bills. It was when he heard mention of Carlos however, that the conversation was brought sharply into focus.

“Wait, he what?”
 
At the other end of the line, he could hear TJ sigh heavily.

“Carlos accidentally injured Cassie during a mission yesterday,” the astro ranger repeated. “It was a mistake any of us could have made and Cassie’s recovering quickly; but Carlos…He’s taken it pretty hard.” Adam could well imagine how Carlos had taken it, and his heart went out in sympathy to the youth. Carlos was sensitive and fiercely loyal to those he cared about; this was going to be rough.

TJ, after giving Adam time to process this information, went on, “we’ve tried talking to him, but nothing seems to get through. Maybe you could try?”

“Me?” Adam wondered just what TJ thought he could do.

“Well yeah; as his friend, and as a much more experienced ranger, he might listen to you.”

Or he might refuse to see me
Adam thought ruefully. The line had gone silent and he knew TJ was waiting for an answer; he thought of all the reasons this was a bad idea and quickly tried to come up with an excuse, but instead found himself saying “I’m on my way.” 
 

***********************************************

Some things never change, Adam thought, as looking down at the familiar tableau he recognized his former classmates Bulk and Skull with the older gentleman Lizwizard was pursuing; the pair had a habit of showing up right in the middle of everything.

Despite the fact he knew he stood no chance against the green reptilian monster TJ had warned him about, Adam had to wrestle with the instinct that had risen the minute he saw it. Civilian, he had to remind himself again as he looked around anxiously for the responding
ranger team.

After what seemed an eternity, a lone black clad figure arrived on the scene, neatly vaulting to land squarely between Lizwizard and the hapless trio. Just as he had on the day he chose Carlos as his successor, Adam noted the strong bearing of the black ranger before him, and he felt a thrill of pride as with apparent confidence his younger friend directed the civilians away from danger before turning to engage the green monster.

He became alarmed though, when he saw the familiar figure land heavily amidst crates and boxes stacked by the warehouse; and whilst Carlos pulled himself up quickly from the fall, Adam knew it had to have hurt despite the protective armor the young ranger wore. He felt a finger of ice touch his spine as he recognized the signs of a fight that was rapidly getting out of hand. He watched as Carlos futilely continued to attack the monster only to be repelled with little effort, making almost no mark himself until finally, with a snide criticism, the monster towered over Carlos, and Adam could take no more.

Gathering his strength, the former green ranger launched himself at Lizwizard, fury driving his triple kick against the foul thing before he landed defensively in front of the fallen ranger. “Adam?” he heard Carlos ask with surprise, and he offered a hand to the younger boy, studying his motions for any sign of injury.

“Need a hand?” he asked

 

“Thanks,” Carlos accepted as he stood up, thankfully showing no evidence of serious harm, “good to see you man.”

Lizwizard was anticipating an easy victory against the compromised ranger and the recent arrival, who was clearly not a power holder. “Double the fun,” he said beginning to enjoy himself, “ready to rumble?”
 

***********************************************

“It was like the fight had gone out of him,” Adam said, carefully folding a shirt and placing it in his drawer. “I’ve never seen him like that before.” The silence on the other end of the line indicated there was more expected from this, but Adam wasn’t in the mood for another of Rocky’s increasingly frustrating attempts to get him to talk about what had happened with Carlos the day of the power transfer.

Placing the rucksack in the bottom of his wardrobe, he tiredly sank into the armchair by the window “TJ had told me he was taking it hard, but I never imagined...” he voice filled with regret as he remembered the fight earlier. “Carlos was thrown aside almost as soon as we renewed the attack together.”
 

***********************************************

Adam’s last decisive attack sent Lizwizard flying, and he knew that they had won before the monster regained his feet. Lizwizard disappeared with the obligatory threat and the youth had a moment to observe to himself again with some amusement that some things really don’t ever change, before he was brought up short as he caught sight of the black clad ranger in front of him.

Powering down, Carlos paused before turning around to face him, and Adam realized that perhaps he wasn’t the only one nervous about this. He worried how he would be received after what he had done and prepared himself as the strong features came into view…

…And there it was; the smile that illuminated his face and made his eyes shine, the smile that had before been Adam’s undoing. Taking a deep breath and clasping the offered hand, noting the strength in that firm grip and how Carlos’ hand lingered a little longer than necessary in his, Adam forced himself to smile at the younger man’s words of gratitude.

“No problem,” he replied “everybody needs a hand now and then; even the black ranger.”

Carlos looked at him for a long moment, his eyes expressing a range of emotions; regret, worry, doubt - none of which surprised Adam given what he knew of the accident. What he hadn’t been prepared for was the degree of hurt and disappointment visible there also. He thought that Carlos would say something, but then the youth sighed and shook his head, responding to the pretence Adam had set with a distracted “Maybe” before turning away.

“Lately, it just seems like…I could use even more than usual.” In frustration, he lashed out at a crate stacked beside the warehouse and then rested his head against it. Adam felt his heart contract at the sight and had to fight the urge to take the other boy into his arms. He’d made his choice, and now he had to live with it.

“Meaning what?” he asked instead.

“Meaning,” Carlos looked over at Adam, “I could use a little help.”
 

*******************************************

“So what happened then?” Rocky prompted gently when he didn’t immediately continue. Adam sighed and leaned back in his chair, resting his head against the soft material and closing his eyes. It had been a long day, and he hadn’t had the time to call until late in the evening, after his father had gone to bed. On the desk his mother’s silver timepiece was softly chiming out the half hour, and he automatically calculated the local time for his best friend out in Europe. 8:30; Rocky would probably be in lectures today and that didn’t leave them very long to talk, but from his tone Adam could tell that his stalwart friend was more interested in his day than the petite blond he’d been walking to class these last few weeks.

At the expectant silence on the line, he wearily picked up where he’d left off; knowing that Rocky had already figured out something was bothering him and would now continue to pester him until he gave in anyway. As he relayed the events of that morning, the memories rose fresh and vivid in his mind.
 

*******************************************

Watching Carlos pace across his parents’ porch, Adam sat and listened to the younger boy relating the events TJ had already filled him in on. He could see now the effect this all was having on Carlos and he was starting to put together a clear picture in his mind of what the underlying issue was. Carlos confirmed his suspicions as he started talking about his hesitation in fighting Lizwizard.

“Ever since I hurt Cassie, I-I worry about my every move. Like pretty soon I’m gonna-“

“Make a wrong move,” Adam finished for him, contemplating Carlos carefully.

“Exactly,” the youth responded. Adam leaned back on the bench, thinking. He knew that this was something Carlos would have to eventually break through on his own; but he wondered if perhaps TJ was right, and that maybe there was a chance here to pass on what he had learned as a ranger in hopes that Carlos might benefit from it somehow.

“You know, when you’re fighting as a ranger, nothing’s for sure,” he said slowly, “you’ve got to be willing to take chances, even if you mess up now and then.”

A long silence followed before Adam realized the sensitive subject to which he had brought them. Getting up, he slung his arm around Carlos’ shoulders “Come on man. Don’t worry about it, I had the same doubts. Every ranger does.” The pretence felt more comfortable now; easier than raising ghosts.
 

*******************************************

“So he’s afraid of making another mistake,” Rocky murmured sympathetically; it was one of a ranger’s deepest fears – injuring a teammate.

“Happens to us all,” Adam responded. The words sounded hollow but they were the only ones in the ranger repertoire that came close to expressing how he felt; though at the silence on the line he still felt guilty for even that vague reference to the part of their ranger pasts of which they weren’t supposed to talk.

After a moment, Rocky cleared his throat. “Is that what you told him?”

“What else am I supposed to say?” How could he ever explain? Just words, he thought, all I have to offer Carlos are meaningless words.

“TJ called you because he thought you could help. He obviously has some reason to believe that Carlos would listen to you.” Rocky paused then and Adam could hear the hesitation in his voice as he tried to choose his next words with care. “I don’t know how things are between you and Carlos now, Adam – but I do know you! I know how you hold onto things.”

Quiet clearing; moonlight glow.


There’s more going on here than Carlos’ ranger issues, isn’t there?”

Eyes as dark as midnight; searching


“What aren’t you telling me Adam?”

Sighs that whispered across lips, names spoken with longing, as kiss followed kiss followed kiss…


“Adam?”

“Nothing,” he said softly. Because in the end, all he had was words; and words would never be enough.
 

*******************************************

“Adam, I have everything you asked for, but what’s with the blindfold?” Alpha questioned as he set the bag down on the picnic bench.
“I’ll show you,” Adam replied grinning. He picked up the bolt of dark cloth and beckoned to Carlos, who had been stretching a few feet away. The black ranger smiled in acknowledgement, reaching into his pocket for a hair band and tying back the thick dark tresses as he made his way over, automatically turning around as he drew up to them.

Folding the blindfold in half again to double its thickness, Adam slipped the cotton material over Carlos’ eyes, his breathing unconsciously stilling as his fingers grazed soft skin. Circling around to check that it was in place, he adjusted the lower edge, hands naturally falling to frame the face before him.

“Can you see anything?” he asked

“No,” came the response, drawing Adam’s attention to those full lips; and it was only with supreme effort that he was able to tear his gaze away, stepping back and taking Carlos’ wrist to draw him onto the training mat that they had set out.

“Just some light sparring to start with,” he instructed. “Anytime you’re ready.” Lightly moving over the mat, he used the sound of his voice to misdirect. Carlos didn’t fall for the ploy however, taking only a moment to orientate himself towards his opponent. Adam wasn’t surprised; back in high school, they had trained together this way many times after soccer practice when he had started teaching Carlos a few basic moves for self-defense.

Easily blocking Carlos’ first attack and circling, Adam waited for the younger boy’s next move, taking the opportunity to observe more closely the changes that he had missed before – the pride of youth grown into the calm assurance of maturity. The sands of time had seen Carlos grow into a man and for a moment Adam felt a sense of regret that he had missed it. Re-focusing his attention on the sparring match, he blocked another attempt to challenge his defenses. “Come on Carlos,” he pressed, “again!”

They worked at it for a while, but with each failed attack or missed block, Adam could see Carlos’ motions becoming more frustrated and less controlled, until finally the other youth landed, defeated, on the mats and decided he had had enough.

“I can’t do this!” He said, tearing off the blindfold to glare at Adam, more than frustration edging his tone “You’re wasting your time! I’m no Power Ranger.” He turned to leave and without thinking Adam reached forward to take his arm.

“Carlos.”

Eyes as dark as midnight, searching


Adam’s breath caught in his throat as he met the other youth’s eyes and he immediately released his hold. Carlos headed out of the park at a steady run.

“Ay-yi-yi. What are we going to do?” He had almost forgotten Alpha was there.

Still reeling from the hurt he had seen in Carlos’ eyes, Adam took a moment to respond, turning back towards the picnic table moonlit clearing; sudden silence “I’m not sure,” he replied, trying to keep his tone neutral and failing miserably. Eyes as dark as midnight; searching He was sure Alpha’s voice recognition software would have registered the change, but thankfully, the little robot didn’t call him on it. Hurt; betrayal in those depths as he walks away.

“Do you think he’ll be all right, Adam?”

God; I hope so
, he thought. Knowing Alpha was watching him, he took a sip of his drink whilst he tried to school his thoughts. “Saving the world’s not an easy business,” he came up with finally, though he spoke more to himself than anyone else. “He’s gonna have to make his own decisions now, just like any other power ranger.”
 

*******************************************

“I don’t know what I’m doing here Rocky. We’ve been training together in the park since this morning, but there’s still so much self-doubt. I don’t know how to help him move past it.” Picking up the sketch pad that had been lying open on his desk, Adam considered the page. Study in medium, he had titled it simply. How much easier it had been between them when he was the coach and Carlos the star player, when he didn’t have to think about the responsibility he was dropping on the younger boy or the possibility that he would get hurt.

The boy illustrated on the page was enjoying himself, striking the ball at his feet, confident where he would place it, and there was no reason for him to be otherwise; his wrist was noticeably bare, no communicator to pull him away at a moment’s notice, into a battle from which he might not emerge. It was a far cry from the youth he had spoken with earlier.

“Hitting a little close to home, eh?” The enquiry was laced with shades of their shared childhood, understanding and concern.

“I’m fine Rock,” Adam automatically responded, knowing that if he didn’t there was a fair chance his friend would be standing on his doorstep by the weekend. “I just don’t know what to do about Carlos.”

There was a short pause, during which he could almost see the former blue ranger sitting at the little phone table in his dorm, a thoughtful frown in place. “I remember,” Rocky started in an affectionate tone, “having the same dilemma a fair-few times in the past. Just be there for him, he’ll tell you what he needs.”

“That’s good advice,” Adam acknowledged, taking one last look at the image in front of him before closing the pad and dropping it back onto his desk. Then a thought occurred to him. “Rock?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks,” he said “for being there.”

“No problem Adam, that’s what friends do. Now get some sleep.” Laughing, Adam acknowledged that maybe it was getting late and they ended the call there with promises to talk soon.
 

*******************************************

Aboard the astro-megaship, Cassie was standing outside the doors to the engine room, thinking about what she was going to say and working up the nerve to knock.

It had been an hour since Carlos had returned, heading straight for the sleeping quarters he and TJ shared to change before making his way down to the isolated station and locking himself in, making it quite clear that he didn’t want to talk to anybody; she was worried.

Just as she was about to knock however, the door glided open to reveal a tired and rumpled figure blinking out at her in surprise.
“Carlos,” she started, jamming the door open with her hand lest he should try to close it on her. “Can I talk to you?” Sighing, he looked back into the room; away from her.

“I’m not the best of company right now, Cassie,” he replied, and a part of her noted with sympathy the weight that had settled over him, even as she felt a familiar irritation starting to rise at his despondency.

“Will you just stop acting like a child? Hiding in here because things aren’t going your way! You might as well talk to me now, Carlos; because you know if you don’t, it’s just gonna be TJ up here in 5 and then after that, Andros.” He tiredly nodded, stepping back to allow her access. Expecting an argument, it alarmed her how quickly he had given in and she studied him closely as she slipped past.

Even rangers had their spats sometimes; it couldn’t be helped, especially living in such tight quarters. And heaven knew Carlos and Cassie had had their fair share! But even after their most heated of arguments, if Carlos came to her to apologize first, that calm assurance was still always there. She had never seen him looking quite as defeated as he was now. Suddenly feeling sorry for her outburst, as she stepped inside Cassie laid a gentle hand on his arm.

“I’ll only be a minute,” she promised.

Carlos didn’t answer, turning instead to the workstation where he had laid out his current project: a car engine he had salvaged from the Angel Grove scrap yard. Stepping further into the room, she watched him pick up an oil-stained rag from the bench and take a few half-hearted swipes at an imaginary mark on the gleaming metal, reluctant to meet her eyes.

“He called TJ almost four hours ago,” she said; they both knew who she was talking about. “He was worried about you.”

“Was he?” Carlos asked, and his tone could have passed for disinterested if he had been talking to anyone but Cassie.

“You know he was!” Folding her arms, she took another step closer, so that when he finally turned around she was right in front of him. “Three hours Carlos, where were you?”

“Out,” he replied evasively.

Out?”

“Just out, I don’t know. I walked around Angel Grove for a while, I guess.”

“Why are you doing this?” she asked.

“Is that all you came here for?”

“We’re worried about you, Carlos.”

“Well now as you’ve seen, I’m fine.”

“You’re not-”

“I’m fine!” He snapped, rounding on her. At her startled gasp, he turned back, ashamed of his outburst. “Just - just go.”

“Carlos?”

Go.”

Once he heard the door close behind her, Carlos didn’t return to his work immediately. Instead he sat late into the night, deep in thought.
 

*******************************************

“Adam, I think what you’re doing is really great. Keep it up,” Alpha enthused, and Adam smiled affectionately at the little robot as he turned to collect his water bottle from the side pocket of his bag. Looking around at the quiet corner of the park they had chosen, he saw Carlos approaching and greeted him cheerfully.

“Hey! All right, we’ll start with three miles around the lake-”

“Adam,” Carlos cut in before he could go any further “I’ve already decided; I’m not the black ranger anymore.”

He could hear Alpha protesting, but Adam made no move to stop Carlos as he turned and walked away. It didn’t seem real. The world was sharply brought back into focus however, when the air split with a burst of flame as a dozen flares rained down around them; and despite the danger he was in, in that moment one thought held above all others for Adam: “Carlos!”

Starting toward him, Adam was suddenly surrounded by a squadron of quatrons, the menacing foot soldiers that formed the base of Astronema’s army. Ducking left and right, he fought hard to find a break in the masses to make his way to Carlos’ side, but despite his formidable skill there were too many of them. Praying that the astro rangers had picked up the disturbance, he glanced over desperately to where his young friend now faced the newly returned Lizwizard. The other boy was not doing so well, and he realized that if he didn’t do something soon, they may not survive long enough for back up to arrive.

Reaching the bench where he had left his backpack, the former black ranger knew what he had to do.

“No Adam, it’s too big of a risk!” Alpha tried to stop him; but the weight of the morpher had already fitted into his palm and it felt right. A steel calm settled over his mind as he realized he would not fail – he could not – not when Carlos needed him.

“It’s morphin’ time!”
 

*******************************************

“Carlos,” Ashley called as she jogged along the corridor to catch up with him. “Are you going to the surface?”

Shortening his stride to accommodate the yellow ranger as she fell into step with him, Carlos glanced over at his teammate. “Yes,” he responded, “Adam’s leaving today; I have to say goodbye.”

“Mind if I join you then? Adam did a lot for this team and I’d like to thank him myself.”

Carlos shrugged. “Sure, I think the others are going to be down there anyway. Andros is insisting on giving Adam a big send-off; says it’s a matter of professional courtesy.” Ashley’s eyes narrowed slightly, but when she continued her tone was still light.

“I like Adam; it was good to see him. With everything that’s going on, we don’t get much chance to keep up with the old team.”

Carlos nodded thoughtfully. “T.J doesn’t have that problem it would seem.”

“He was just worried about you. We all were”

“That didn’t mean he had the right to call Adam, of all people.”

“He didn’t know,” she reminded him, “you’ve never even talked about your sexuality with the others, let alone told them what you felt for Adam. All he knows is that Adam has been your friend for a long time and that he probably knows you a lot better than we do.”

“We kissed in the park,” he admitted without warning; and Ashley halted abruptly. Beside her, Carlos had come to a stop, keeping his eyes fixed on the corridor ahead as he added, “the day of the power transfer.”

The yellow ranger studied her friend’s face carefully, her expression a mixture of surprise and concern. “You never said anything,” she murmured.

“It just – happened. We went for a run after debriefing and stopped in a clearing by the lake.” The black ranger shrugged. “We kissed and then he left.” Despite his matter-of-factness, there was confusion in his voice.

“He didn’t say why?” Ashley pressed gently. Carlos shook his head.

“I always wondered if it was because…I let him down in some way; that I wasn’t what he thought I was.”

His companion was quiet for a moment, but just as they started walking again, she stopped him. Looking up at him, she said, “I barely knew Tanya when she passed the powers on to me. TJ and Cassie didn’t know Tommy and Kat. But Adam knew who you were, and he could see what an amazing person you’d come to be, and that’s why he passed the powers to you, Carlos. No matter what his reasons; I don’t think you could ever let him down.”

“He just left Ash,” he reminded her.

“Well whatever it was, I think he’s over it.” She smiled when he looked at her again. “He came when TJ called him, didn’t he? He came all the way here because you needed him.” She held up a hand to still his protests. “He risked his life for you.”

There was no argument to be made after that. Carlos had known the morpher Adam carried with him was broken, its coin damaged through some long ago battle that the other youth had only hinted at during their training session.

As they arrived in the glider bay the yellow ranger reached over and gave his shoulder a squeeze.
 

*******************************************

As the sun broke through the clouds over Angel Grove Park and streamed over the lawns, at the East entrance a group of young men and women gathered together, illuminated by the late afternoon light. Adam met TJ’s handshake and nodded at Andros, automatically smiling in response to the imperatives given to stay in touch. Hugging the girls, he delayed for as long as he could the moment when he would have to face Carlos. His efforts were wasted though when TJ, perhaps sensing the tension between them, unhelpfully suggested that Carlos see their friend off; as if thinking all they needed was time to work it out.

If only it were that simple
Adam thought, but he didn’t protest when the blue ranger made up some excuse for the rest of them to head back to the megaship, ignoring the significant glance the taller youth had thrown at Carlos that quite clearly said talk to him whilst daring him to argue. With cheerful smiles and waving goodbye, the team beamed up to their command base. Adam and Carlos were alone.

Uncomfortable in the silence that followed, Adam cleared his throat and started heading towards the bus station, fingers toying with the ticket in his pocket. Carlos had fallen into step beside him, a thoughtful look on his face.

“It was good of you to come, Adam. I really appreciate everything you did for me.”

When Adam started to protest, Carlos looked at him, the truth written in his dark eyes; and words died on the older boy’s lips. They walked a little further in silence before the Hispanic youth asked in a blatant attempt at casualness “So, what’re you doing over the weekend?”

That they had come to this was making Adam’s heart break inside, but he swallowed past it and forced himself to respond. “I’m having dinner with friends tonight and then I’ll take the train up to Reno on Monday morning.”

“You won’t be going back to Nevada straight away?” Adam shook his head.

“No, I still have to visit Tommy and Tanya in LA before I go back. They were pretty unhappy with me for not staying for the leaving party and I owe them an apology.”

“So why did you just leave?”

Adam slowed his pace as he thought for a moment about how best to shape his answer. Despite the seemingly casual tone of the enquiry, he could tell from the way Carlos looked at him that there was a lot riding on what he said next. He had known this would be coming, and had even thought ahead to how he would present his reasons; but the truth was Adam wasn’t even sure if he had them clear in his own head yet. Seeing the taller youth glance at him again, he realized that he was just going to have to try.

“We were in such different places,” Adam started, realizing just how hollow it sounded now. “I was moving away and starting college; you had just become a ranger.” Carlos turned sharply when the quiver in Adam’s voice betrayed him. They had stopped at the entrance to the station; a steady tide of people moved around them, some sending irritated looks their way.
The older youth turned his face away from the scrutiny of those dark eyes, trying to swallow past the old feelings that had suddenly risen to claim him again; thinking now that he shouldn’t have come.

“Adam?” Carlos had taken a step forward to shield his next words and their faces were now only inches apart, so close that Adam could smell the warm musk of the other boy’s skin “this has something to do with my being a ranger?”

There was no answer necessary; Adam’s eyes, always so expressive, gave him away at once.

“I’ve been there Carlos,” he murmured; memories of his past as a ranger rising to the surface unbidden, until he could almost feel the zord cockpit closing in around him. “I know what you put yourself through every time you join battle. I know more than anyone the toll it takes...” He couldn’t continue then, but Carlos understood what he was being said. It was one thing to watch the rangers in action, but it was quite another to stand by helplessly on the sidelines whilst knowing exactly what was going on; he’d learnt that recently.

“I love you,” Carlos said, not bothering to lower his voice and this attracted more than a few stares from the crowd around them. Realizing just what a spectacle they were making, Adam pushed past him, walking briskly towards the far bay, where the long-distance greyhounds were waiting. He had already identified the bus he would need and was heading towards it when his arm was caught from behind.

Dark eyes burned into his like hot coals. “I love you,” Carlos repeated; this time his voice was pitched to include only them and the intimacy sent waves of sensation through Adam’s body.

“What do you know of love?” Adam rounded on him, wondering who he was actually trying to dissuade. “Do you even know what love is? This is a just a puppy crush, nothing more; you’ll realize that one day.” The younger boy didn’t respond but the hurt showed clearly in his eyes and Adam pulled out from his grasp to stand a few feet away, glaring. He hadn’t wanted to do this, but it was his only choice; the only way he could protect them both.

“Tell me I’m wrong Carlos!” he challenged the youth. “Tell me that you don’t see it too!” He threw an arm out to indicate the waiting vehicle behind him. “If you think we can work, you have to say something Carlos, because otherwise I’m getting on that bus. Tell me to stay and we have all summer to figure this thing out – but I can’t take that chance on a maybe!”

Stay


Just one word stood between them; Carlos just needed to say one word and Adam wouldn’t be leaving.

But he remained silent, and so Adam boarded the bus without further protest.
 

*******************************************

As he watched the bus pull away, Carlos thought back over their last conversation and wondered if he really was doing the right thing.

Tell me I’m wrong…
Had Adam wanted him to?

Tell me to stay and we have all summer to work this thing out


Just one word; stay!

Do you know what love is?
Adam had asked; and perhaps Carlos didn’t. Perhaps he was mistaking affection for love, but then, he frowned as the image came to him, there had been no mistaking the look in Adam’s eyes.

Another conversation intruded into his thoughts, one from earlier that day.
You’ve got to be willing to take chances

Just one word; stay!

Without thinking what he was doing, Carlos launched into full sprint; dodging passengers waiting to board coaches and taking the stairs at the rear entrance two at a time.

Stay,
his heart sang out as he saw Adam’s coach drawing up at the lights ahead.

Just one word
that was all he needed

Stay,
he wanted to call as he reached the door and banged on it to get the driver’s attention.

You’ve got to be willing to take chances


His heart was racing and blood was thundering through his veins from the sprint. He didn’t have the breath to explain to the bus driver, who was looking down at him in amazement; instead he hurled himself up the steps, completely disregarding the driver’s objections, and started pacing down the aisle; searching.

“Carlos?” In his panic, he had walked straight past Adam, and now the older boy stood behind him

You’ve got to be willing to take chances…


Tell me…


Just one word,
“Stay!”
 

THE END

Or is it a new beginning?

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