He's always out alone so much. And sometimes at night. I worry about him, but he doesn't listen to me. The middle-aged man sighed, forcing himself away from the window and back to his chair. He had to remain calm. No matter what Justin did, he always came back in one piece, though sometimes he did look somewhat mussed up.
His father had no idea what he was going through, but something in the back of his mind told him rather clearly that while it would be worrisome if he knew, it was nothing Justin couldn't handle.
I wonder if he's with them again? Mr. Stewart couldn't stop himself, he jumped up once again and went to the window to peer out. If Justin caught him doing this, he'd be beyond mortified, but as long as he saw the young boy in time and could pretend that he hadn't been doing anything, then it was all okay.
Justin spent most of his time with four young people older than he was by two or three years at least. At least they were better than those other four. Stewart shuddered at the memory. He had nothing against teenagers and young adults, as long as they stayed with their own kind: teenagers and young adults. They didn't need to be hanging around his precious baby boy.
Maybe I should've went with him. He wanted to think about what I told him. I bet those kids talk him into staying.
Stewart paced a little, trying not to get into a frenzy. Oh, it was all very well and good that he had friends, but he really wanted Justin to have friends of his own age. Like that nice Nico boy. Those two got along so well, I don't know why Justin doesn't hang out with him more. What do T.J., Cassie, Carlos, and Ashley have that he doesn't?
The older man bit his lip almost as soon as he thought that. He knew what they had, he knew the reason Justin was with them: they were his intellectual equals. Justin thought like a teenager, an adult sometimes, and it could get quite annoying to be continually associating with people who thought the greatest thing in the universe was a scab they'd received a month ago.
Dean peeked out the window again. Nothing but blackness met his sight, and he wondered if he should call the cops. No, he's going to be fine, I know he is. He has to be.
Dean Stewart loved his son. He always had, even if he couldn't or didn't show it sometimes. When his wife had died, the only thing he'd been able to do had been close the dojo they had run together, then put Justin in the orphanage and start to travel. Ostensibly it had been because of his company sending him here and there across the country, but really it was because he didn't want to be in Angel Grove where the memories of Anna were at their strongest.
I tried, I really did, Dean shuddered, remembering how hard the last two months had been since he had returned. He'd thought that after the last couple of years of wandering, he could finally settle back down, be with Justin and be happy. For the past eight weeks, however, not only had he realized that Justin was no longer the little boy he had left behind, but was growing up into someone he wasn't certain he recognized.
The boy Dean had known had been somewhat scared, very dependent, and very young. The boy Dean had come back to had been brave, courageous, independent, and far, far older than his years. Something about the way Justin held himself, moved, spoke, breathed betokened deep and dark changes in his son. I know he's not into anything he shouldn't be. Dean had taken the opportunity of one of Justin's mysterious disappearances to thoroughly search the young boy's bedroom. All he had found was a preponderance of blue clothing and two pictures of Justin, one with the first group of older people, Tommy, Adam, Kat, and Tanya, and then with the ones he was currently hanging around with. Dean had just barely managed to get out of the room before Justin had come in, looking as if he'd been wrestling with a dozen beings five times his size, and winning.
If only he'd talk to me. But Justin was silent, as he often was these days, not paying any attention to his dad sometimes. He'd considered grounding him, seeing if that would do anything to get some words out of his son, but his heart just was too soft. Justin looked so happy when he was with the teens, Dean just couldn't bring himself, regardless of what he himself thought, to ban him.
Was that a sound outside? A step? Dean picked up his newspaper, unfolding it and looking at it with an expression of deepest interest, once he'd checked to make certain that he had it right side up. Nothing like a reverse newspaper to give away that you were worrying about someone.
The door slid open, and Dean casually looked up to see Justin coming in. He looked horrible. His clothes were ripped up and torn up, his eyes looked dead, and every ounce of the brilliant spirit that had carried him through so much was absolutely gone, completely drained to the dregs. Dean stared at him. "Justin? Are you all right?"
"Yes." Justin said the word quietly. Dean just stared at him. "I'm fine."
Dean put the paper away, turning to look his son dead in the face. "Don't lie to me, Justin." Whatever Justin had gone through, Dean wanted to know about it, and now!
The young boy, and now he looked like a young boy, sad and lonely and so very much in need of his father, just stared at him as if he didn't quite hear what was going on. Then something seemed to snap inside of him, and Justin fell into his father's arms, tears falling ceaselessly.
Dean wasn't quite certain just what Justin had to cry about, but some fatherly sense told him that he was going to find out. Once Justin was done crying, perhaps then the secret would be revealed. Perhaps he would finally know what it was his son was hiding from him. Perhaps...just perhaps...he would find out what had made Justin change so much over the last couple of years.
A soft sound told him something else first, however. Dean glanced down and was not at all surprised to see the thirteen year old fast asleep and with tear stains still on his face. He smiled faintly, then carried Justin to his room. It only took him a few minutes to get the tennis shoes, what was left of them, off, and slide him into bed. He looks like he's been through a war. And lost.
Dean pulled up a chair and settled in. He had no intentions of leaving Justin alone just now. He had the very strong suspicion that whatever his son had been through, he was going to have some serious nightmares over it.
He was right. A few hours later, when Dean himself was on the verge of falling asleep, he was jerked out of it by a horrible scream, a sound he had hoped never to hear in his life: Justin screaming in pain. "Storm Blaster!"
Storm Blaster? Wasn't that one of those fancy cars that the Turbo Rangers had? What does that have to do with Justin?
The young boy was thrashing around in the sheets, and Dean quickly touched him gently. Justin sat up, twisting around, his eyes focusing on the person sitting next to him, then fell back. "Dad?"
"It's me. What's wrong, Justin? Bad dream?" Dean's voice was very quiet, shot through with all the understanding he could manage right now.
Justin looked at him for a moment, then looked back down at the sheets beneath him. "Bad reality." he said softly. "Dad...are you doing anything today? Work?"
"Nothing I can't put off." Dean was going to call and tell his bosses that he was going to be taking today off: for personal reasons. His son needed him. Justin didn't need to say it, but he could feel the need hadn't lessened a bit. So many other times in his life, he hadn't been there when his son needed him. Now, Dean was going to start making up for it.
Justin smiled just a little, and sat up. "I want to talk to you, dad. There's a lot of things I want to tell you. And now I really can."
Dean smiled back. "I'm glad. Where do you want to start?"
His son took a deep breath, and his father could see just a little bit of life coming back to him. "What would you say if I told you that you're the father of the ex-Blue Turbo Ranger?"