"It's not that simple," Leo was saying.
"Yes, it is," Kai insisted. "Just ask her out."
"She's just a girl," Damon added.
"Just a girl? No, you're both wrong. Jessica Brewer is not 'just a girl'. She's.......she's......."
"A girl," Kai said. Damon laughed. Leo shook his head.
"It's just that I get so nervous when I'm around her. I don't know what to say."
"Boy, you really are the opposite of your brother," Kai commented.
Leo rolled his eyes. "I guess Michael got the 'lady magnet' genes." He sighed. "But I fell short in that department."
"Give me a break," Damon said. "It has nothing to do with genes. It's just that Mike goes after what he wants. You should do the same." Kai nodded.
"Maybe you're right," Leo said after a few moments.
"Of course I am," Damon put in proudly.
The automatic door to the room slid open and in came two giggling teenagers. Mike and..........Jessica.
"Hi, guys. I'd like you all to meet my new friend, Jessica," Mike said. "Jessica, these are my buds, Damon and Kai, and that's my kid brother, Leo."
"Hi, everyone!" Jessica chirped.
"Hi," the guys mumbled. Leo looked up from where he was sitting on the floor. "Are you guys staying long?" he asked.
Mike pulled his jacket out from the closet. "Nope. I just came to get my jacket. We're going for a walk in the park." He turned to Jessica. "Are you ready?"
"Yeah. Bye, boys," Jessica waved. The door slid shut behind the two.
"I hate him," Leo said under his breath.
"No, you don't," Damon said.
"Yes, I do. If he wasn't here I could have been the one walking with Jessica."
"You don't mean that," Kai said. "You're just mad."
"No! I mean it. I'm sick of him! He thinks he's better than me. He always treats me like I'm a little kid when he's the one who's a spoiled brat!"
Damon and Kai stared in stunned silence. Leo continued. "Michael's always gotten everything he's ever wanted. He always had to be the perfect son! Well, I can't take it anymore! He's not better! He's not!"
"Leo, calm down," Damon said.
"Yeah, it's going to be okay," Kai added.
Leo buried his face in his hands. "I should've been the only son. I wish Mike wasn't here. I wish I was the only son."
"No, you don't mean that," Kai said. He looked over at Damon.
"Uh, come on, Leo. Let's go to bed," Damon tried. "I think we're all a little tired."
Leo nodded slowly. "Okay."
Leo opened his eyes to a bright and sunny morning. Now that he'd had a chance to cool off, he felt much better.
Leo yawned and got up out of bed. Funny. His friends were nowhere to be found. Their beds were unmade. It was very rare for Kai and Damon to leave the room without making their beds.
Leo brushed it off and made himself breakfast. It tasted much better when Kai made it, he learned. He quickly dressed and left the room to start his day.
He walked down the hall, looking for a familiar face. Without his friends, he didn't know what to do with himself. He was going to have to remember to yell at them later for letting him oversleep this much.
Finally, he rounded the corner and found someone he recognized.
"Good morning, Mr. Corbett," Commander Stanton said.
" 'Morning," Leo replied. He started to walk along, but then turned around. "Hey, have you seen Mike at all yet?" he asked.
"Mike who?" Commander Stanton stared back at him with a blank expression.
"You're joking, right?"
"I'm afraid not. I run this colony, and I know everyone aboard. There is no Mike on Terra Venture."
"What?" Leo wasn't sure he heard correctly. How could the Commander not know Mike? "But what about my brother?"
"You have a brother with us? Here?"
"Um, excuse me, Commander. I think I need some air."
"Yes, of course. Perhaps you should get some rest too. You don't look very good, if you mind my saying. Better take care. We have a long week ahead of us."
"Yes.....I will. Thank you, sir." Leo walked on, shaking his head. Something wierd was going on here.
"Oh....I'm so sorry! I........Jessica."
Jessica Brewer smiled up at him. "It's okay. It was partly my fault." She took his hand. "I know. I'll make it up to you by taking you to the movies, and you can make it up to me by buying me lunch."
Leo smiled back. "Okay," he said. Maybe Mike disappearing for awhile could work in his advantage after all. He held out his arm to Jessica and the two walked to the movie theater in the entertainment dome.
Leo could hardly pay attention to the movie. He couldn't stop thinking about Mike. How could he just disappear like that? And how come Commander Stanton didn't know who Mike was?
Jessica leaned over to kiss him. After a few seconds, Leo pulled away.
"What's wrong?" Jessica asked.
"Nothing," Leo mumbled. This was going to be a long day.
After the movie, Leo took Jessica to lunch just as he promised. He soon found out that he didn't really like Jessica as much as he'd thought. They didn't have much in common at all. And he couldn't stand it when she had to check her mirror every so often. Her voice was really annoying. Leo wished that she would get tired of eating so much so he could go home and think.
Finally, Jessica remembered that she was supposed to meet some friends on the tennis courts in the athletic dome. Leo gave her a polite peck on the cheek before the two went their own ways. Then he set off for home.
Leo walked for a long time. Hours, it seemed. He came across a bench and sat down, burying his face in his hands. How could things get so messed up like this without him realizing it? Leo sighed. He missed Mike. A lot.
"What's wrong, Red Ranger? Did you lose your friend?"
Leo's head snapped up. An ugly, brown, rocky looking monster stood before him, jeering at him.
Leo held out his hand and his Quasar saber magically appeared. "Go Galactic!" he called. He was momentarily blinded by a flash of red light as he felt the power surge through him.
The monster laughed at him. "Are you really going to attempt to fight me by yourself? Your friends are gone. Your brother is gone. You're all alone, Ranger."
Leo swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. "What did you do with Mike?"
He thought he would be sick as the evil cackle rang in his ears. "I didn't do anything. You did. You wished him away. Now he's gone. Forever!"
"No!" Leo screamed. He held his hands over his ears. The cackling wouldn't stop. It got louder and louder with each passing second.
"Mike is gone for good, Mike is gone for good," he chanted. Still with that horrible cackle. "Look what you did, Ranger."
"No!" Leo shouted again. "Mike! I'm sorry! I didn't meant it!"
"Too late, too late," the monster laughed.
Leo fell to his knees. "Please, give him back. I still need him. I promise, I'll never say anything bad about him again if you just give him back. Please........please."
Leo awoke with a start. His breathing was coming out in short, fast gasps. He waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, trying to wipe away the cold sweat from his face and neck.
He looked over at Mike's bed, not sure he wanted to know what he would find. He let out his breath. Mike was sleeping peacefully a few feet away. Thank goodness. Leo said a silent prayer for Mike's safety to all that was good.
"Good morning, Leo," he said groggily.
Leo turned around. "Hey," he said. He dropped the clothes and ran over to Mike, throwing his arms around him in a big bear hug.
Mike laughed and returned the hug. He looked into Leo's eyes. "I talked to Kai and Damon last night," he said.
"Leo, please don't be mad at me. I brought her here because I knew you liked her. I did it for you, man. But you didn't seem interested."
"Oh." Leo suddenly felt stupid. "Well, I don't like her anymore," he said, remembering the dream. "And I'm not mad anymore, either," he added.
Mike smiled. "Good," he said.
Leo hugged him again. "I do overreact sometimes," he admitted. "But I'll try not to next time. I know I shouldn't shut you out." He slowly took a deep breath. "Especially since I still have so much to learn from you."
Mike stared at him. "I don't know who you are, or what you did to my brother, but you can stay for as long as you like."
"Very funny. I mean it. I'm never gonna let anything dumb come between us ever again."
"Well, I'm glad," Mike said. He couldn't wait to see how long this would last.