This is maybe the third or fourth or fifth PRLG fic out there (in the top ten, anyway), something I'm proud of since my lone PRiS fic is still stuck. If you don't want to smack me for what I did -- it goes completely against the Gingaman plotline -- please send feedback!
But as he felt his grip on his brother's hand slip, Mike realized that things rarely turn out the way you want them to be. He glanced over to the other side of the chasm, where the wave of engulfing stone was coming closer. Leo wouldn't be able to pull him up and hang on to the Saber in time to escape a stony fate.
There was only one thing to do. "I'm sorry," he whispered almost inaudibly as he let his hand slip from his brother's. Panicked, Leo grabbed for him, but caught only air as Mike dropped into the grey swirling abyss.
As he fell away, the last thing Mike heard was his brother's anguished scream. "NO!!!"
The world flared suddenly in an explosion of white, then darkness swallowed his senses.
"Leo?" Maya rapped gently on the doorframe. The new Red Ranger had demorphed back to normal, but he was still turning the Quasar Saber over in his hands as he stared blankly out at the stars. "Are you all right?"
Leo didn't answer for a few moments, so she finally turned away. As she started off, she heard him speak quietly, almost too low to hear. "It should have been Mike."
She sighed, moving to stand beside him. The trip back to Terra Venture would still be a few hours more, and there were some things that needed to be talked about in the interim. Including this. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about this." Leo lifted the blade of the Saber, almost pointing it at her as he spoke. "Mike was the one who pulled it out of the stone. It was meant for him to use, not me!"
Maya cocked her head. "And yet you were the one who used it to morph."
"But it chose him. Mike knew what he was doing, Maya. He wouldn't have let me fall to my death."
She closed her eyes for a second, biting back comments about stubborn men, before putting a hand on his shoulder. "If you weren't worthy of the Power, Leo, it wouldn't have let you morph. I'm sure of it."
Leo looked down at the floor for a moment, sighing. "Maybe. I just--it doesn't seem right, after I failed him like that. I let him die, Maya."
"How do you know he's dead?"
Startled, he looked up again. "I saw him fall."
"Did you see him die?" At his confused expression, she added, "It was all due to magic, Leo. And so close to where the Sabers were kept, you never know. There is a heavily concentrated intersection of ley lines there; conflicting magics can do strange things. Portals, disappearances, even miracles have happened because of this on Miranoi. Or so I've heard."
Leo had to smile. "I really don't understand half of that, Maya, but thanks."
"He may still be out there," Maya insisted. "And I know if he could see you, he'd be proud."
He nodded, but didn't say anything. "Maya, I'm sorry, I still think I need to be alone for a while."
She squeezed his hand, understanding, and turned to leave him with his thoughts.
But just before the door slid shut behind her, she heard him say quietly, "Wherever you are, Mike, I hope you're all right."
Pain was the first sensation to return. A dull, aching throb that could only have come from a bump on the head. Then through the void, snatches of sound echoed, forming into faint conversation. Mike struggled to regain consciousness, but the void remained as the voices became clearer.
"...know there's nothing in my books about this."
"Well, he's human, or looks like it. And a pretty good-looking one, too. If he got a good hosing off, I guess."
"Excuse me? And just what am I?"
"I was making an observation. That's all."
"Let's recap. Big, nasty storm, we're all meeting about the usual, then a gray vortex opens up and dumps a Starship Troopers extra on top of us. If any of your books cover this, I'm going to be very surprised."
"Not a natural storm, since it cleared so quickly."
"Maybe it was a tear in the space-time continuum? You know, like in Star Trek?"
"Great. First ancient prophecies, now 'Beam me up, Scotty.' We're doing great."
"If you have any ideas to contribute, I'd be glad to hear them instead of your whining."
"Perhaps waking him up would be on the agenda instead of arguing."
"Hey, dead boy has a point."
"Don't call me that."
"He is sort of cute, you know." A long moment of silence ensued. "Well, uh, I can be shallow sometimes, too, can't I?"
Mike was starting to surface as they argued, and his eyelids felt like lead weights as he opened them, blinking a few times as his surroundings blurred in and out of focus.
He was lying on his back on a hard, polished surface, too smooth to be a medical table. And the voices--except for one--sounded far too young to be doctors. There was an odd, almost musty, but not unpleasant smell to the air. The urge to slip into a long sleep was overwhelming, but he had to know where he was first. If this was the afterlife, it didn't sound that great.
Finally, sight returned in full, and he was blinking up at a wooden ceiling. He must have made some sort of sound, because the argument tapered off. Mike lifted his head in time to see shelves of old books in the background before six faces were suddenly taking up his line of vision. "How many fingers am I holding up?" the petite redhead asked, thrusting her hand out.
"Uh, four?" he guessed correctly, glancing around. This didn't look like a holding cell or any place Furio would have thrown him. It was a library, of all places, and it looked like - home. "Where am I? What happened?" He tried to sit up, only to be assaulted by a wave of dizziness.
A hand gently pushed him down. "Easy," the older man said as Mike lay back and the dizziness subsided. "I can only assume you've gone through some sort of trauma, although since we don't know the nature of the--"
"What Giles means," the blonde interrupted, "is we don't know what happened. There was a weird storm, we were all in the library, and a vortex opened up and dropped you out right in front of us."
"Thank you, Buffy," Giles said with obvious sarcasm. "I don't know if this means anything to you, but this is Sunnydale, California--"
"California?" Mike sat up straight in a second, shock overriding any dizziness or vertigo. "I fall into a crack of some unknown planet and I end up back on Earth?" He leaned forward, holding his head in pain. "Oh, I'm going to pay for that one later."
There was an uncomfortable silence as Mike willed the room to stop spinning. Buffy was the first to speak. "Okay. Look, we can't just stand around and play Twenty Questions all night. And we can't take this guy to the hospital."
Mike managed to react to that. "The name's Mike."
"All right, Mike," Buffy corrected, pointing to herself and the others in turn. "Buffy, Angel, Willow, Cordelia, Xander, Giles. Can the rest of the introductions wait until morning?"
"I'm fine," Mike lied through his teeth, trying and failing to stand up. "Or not."
"I suppose you'll have to come with me," Giles said after a moment. "Most of our questions will have to wait until tomorrow morning."
Mike nodded, but his vision was growing dark, and fatigue was overwhelming. Laying back again, he couldn't help but think, Leo, wherever you are, I hope you're in better shape than me.
As he drifted off to sleep, he could just barely hear Xander's voice in the background. "That was just an observation, right? Right?"
He was too tired to hear the answer.