Fandom: Power Rangers
Title: Opportunities: it's true what they say about weddings
Disclaimer/claimer: 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.
Notes/Summary: It's true what they say about weddings: you do meet the most interesting of people.
A/N: Yes, you did read that pairing correctly. Just go with the fun!
(It started at a wedding in Reefside)
A wave of color filled the dance floor. Bright emerald, sapphire and fuchsia eddied with gold and scarlet, the colors melting and blending into one another as the night progressed.
Carlos had just finished a round of the floor with Adam’s younger sister Mae, a fact that had not gone un-noticed by the young groom; and as he escorted Mae back to her seat at the head table, his old friend flashed a grateful look in - roughly - his direction and pulled out a chair.
“Carlos,” his former mentor called out cheerfully, a champagne smile warming his face. “Come and sit; rest. You look like you need it.” Seeking support in this assertion, he turned to his new husband. “You don’t mind if Carlos joins us, do you darling?”
Exchanging an amused look with the tired groomsman, Tommy gently pointed out to his partner that it was getting late and that Carlos needed to be on the road back to Angel Grove soon. He carefully extricated the empty glass from Adam’s fingers, responding to the beginnings of a protest with a reminder that they had an early start in the morning, and placed a kiss on his nose in consolation. Objections already forgotten, Adam smiled happily, leaning sideways in his seat to snuggle into his husband’s side. Watching them together, the younger man felt something stir in his chest. Anyone who looked at them could see how perfect they were for each other, and he was happy for his friends that after years of dancing around their feelings with strings of ill-fated relationships, they had finally found what they needed to be content. It just seemed that with more and more of the old gang settling down or getting married, some even with children on the way, they had started to drift apart. He wondered how long it would be before the demands of family life kept this newest couple from just hanging out, the way they always had.
Relieving Tommy of the glass and indicating the door with his other hand, Carlos made his farewells. “It is getting late. My roommate is expecting me, so it’s best I go now.”
Looking around the room, he finally located Ashley with the tray of empties and made his way over to her, winding his way between guests as he skirted the dance floor.
“Hey Carlos,” his former teammate greeted him as she looked up from her previous conversation. The blond had changed out of the pale lemon dress she had worn for the wedding and was now looking quite professional in her crisp new blouse and trouser suit, as befitting her role of reception coordinator. Carlos could see how she had come to be one of the top wedding planners in the country, and why Adam and Tommy had so enthusiastically accepted her offer to be a working guest this evening.
“Heading home?” she asked, eyeing the empty champagne glass suspiciously.
“Yeah, just returning Adam’s last glass.”
The former yellow ranger nodded to confirm she had heard the order, already signaling across the room for the attention of fellow volunteer, Tanya, who was carrying another drinks tray. He wasn’t sure if Ashley heard him as she passed on instructions for the other catering staff, but he still made the obligatory promises to call when he was home and make arrangements soon to meet up. Heading for the door, he avoided catching anyone's eye, but a voice from behind caught him just as he was about to leave.
“Hey Carlos, sneaking out early?” Turning around, he saw the two young women standing behind him. The taller of the two, in a sky blue dress that beautifully set off the summer blond of her hair, he didn’t recognize; but after a moment, a wide smile broke out as he met the mischievous brown eyes of her companion.
“Kira, hi! How are you doing; enjoying the party?”
“Yeah,” the former dino ranger replied, “I’ve been wanting to take a few days break from recording for a while, and I was so excited when Dr. O called with the invitation. Oh! This is Tori,” Kira indicated the woman beside her. “We met through ranger business, years ago.”
“And we met up again a few months back, when the new rangers got into some trouble and we were enlisted to help,” her companion supplied, offering her hand.
“Tori, Carlos is an old friend of Adam’s,” Kira said to the other girl “and he was a ranger himself, he served with the astro team.” As she spoke, Carlos could see that her smile was sincere; “It’s great to see you here!" she exclaimed, and then, in an aside to Tori, "He’s hard to pin down,”
“Oh? Why’s that?”
“Wanderlust,” Carlos admitted. “I worked on cruise ships straight out of college, and for the last few years I’ve worked my way around the world following harvests. I’m also a freelance travel photographer.”
“Sounds like you’d get on well with Shane.” Tori commented, and with a suspiciously familiar expression she glanced in her companion’s direction; Kira grinned and nodded agreement. “He was our red,” the older girl explained at Carlos’ quizzical look. “He doesn’t like staying put for long; it’s always something new with him.”
“He likes keeping up with news of ranger alumni,” Kira supplied “and he always turns up for weddings and christenings and such. I’m surprised you haven’t met him before; maybe at Xander’s engagement party?” she tried.
“I wasn’t there,” Carlos responded “I had a job interview at AGH. I called to congratulate them though.”
“What job were you applying for?”
“Oh, that’s brilliant! Did you get it?”
“You should meet him!” Tori decided suddenly and called out across the room before Carlos could form an excuse; “Shane!” A dark head of close cropped hair over by the buffet table turned in their direction. The blond beckoned him over, and had already started introductions before the young man reached them. “Carlos, this is my friend Shane. We teach at the same school; when he isn’t down at the ramps, that is.” She gave the new arrival a playful grin; it was apparently an in-joke. “Shane this is Carlos, he’s a former astro ranger and the new Angel Grove High soccer coach.”
From the moment their eyes met, Carlos could see fireworks. And it was clear from the appreciative once over Shane gave him as they clasped hands that this meeting was going to be the start of something exciting.
(3 Days later; Wind Ninja Academy, Blue Bay Harbor)
“Yo dude, male call,” Dustin hollered across the room, “and he’s cute!”
Rolling his eyes, the air ninja continued with the piece of correspondence he had been working on; he knew who it was and they would just have to wait. With both Tori and Dustin on active duty on academy grounds today, the last thing he needed was for them to see him making a big deal about this lunch date; regardless of the fact his stomach was already doing maddening acrobatic maneuvers at the thought. When he glanced up a moment later, Dustin was still standing in the doorway; busted!
“Okay; okay” he grumbled as he started to fold away his writing case “if I admit it’s not a business lunch and that I plan on making it a long one, will that get you off my case?”
Dustin raised an eyebrow to indicate he was expecting more.
“Did Tori send you?” Shane voiced it as a question, even though they both knew the answer.
“She threatened to have me up on charges of ‘neglect of duty’,” the earth ninja confessed as, much to Shane’s frustration, he neatly turned in the doorway and followed closely on his friend’s heels.
Carlos was waiting on the far shore of the lake as arranged; and he wasn’t alone. Shane groaned inwardly as he recognized the athletic figure of the woman beside him.
“Hey Carlos, you’re early.” Jogging the last dozen yards, he tried for a casual greeting and knew he had failed when he caught Tori’s eye.
“Hey Shane,” the water ninja greeted him, a satisfied grin appearing as she clocked the fresh shirt he had changed into. “Carlos was just filling me in on where you guys were eating; you know, just so we can reach you.”
Shane looked at Carlos apologetically. “We can’t go far,” he said, making a grimace, “I’ve only got an hour.”
“Dude,” Dustin exclaimed “I’ve got like, nothin’ to do after lunch; I can totally cover your class!”
“Yeah!” Tori agreed, completely ignoring the scathing looks Shane was directing at her. “In fact,” she added, placing an arm around each man’s shoulders and steering them towards the path that lead to the main road, “it’s a theory day anyway, so we can manage just fine without you.” She waved as she saw them off “Take all afternoon and don’t hurry back!”
“Sorry ‘bout that back there,” Shane apologized awkwardly to fill the silence as they walked.
“Hmm?” Carlos looked over at him, a half smile tugging at his lips, and the air ninja’s stomach started to perform somersaults again, much to his annoyance.
“My friends have been dating for a while and they seem to think it gives them the right to meddle in my love life.”
“So do mine,” the older man responded amiably as they passed into a clearing, moving ahead as Shane halted in surprise at the sight that greeted him. “But if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have met you.”
A green streak ran down one side of the large black motorcycle that was parked at the edge of the path, matching the color scheme of the two helmets resting on its seat.
“You ride?” The air ninja asked stalling for time as the implication registered.
“Yeah; I heard you’re not too bad with bikes yourself.”
“Track,” the air ninja replied distractedly whilst circling the gleaming machine. “And I’m nowhere near as good as Dustin or Hunter. Hunter was the crimson thunder ranger,” he quickly added in response to Carlos’ quizzical expression. The other man didn’t ask for any more information, just nodded and straddled the bike, pulling on a pair of leather gloves he had retrieved from inside one of the helmets.
“So where’re we goin’?” Shane asked.
“A friend of mine owns a food shack in Reef side. He serves the best Cajun food around and makes a hot-sauce that will take the roof off your mouth.” Flashing a wicked grin, Carlos added “if you think you can handle a bit of extra spice that is.”
Deftly catching the second helmet as it was thrown to him, Shane responded with a grin of his own. His stomach was turning alarmingly at the thought of being so close to the other man for the trip out; and that was when he knew for sure:
This date with Carlos was going to be a wild ride – and he was determined to hold on tight and enjoy every minute of it.