This was a big mall by Earth standards. It was also – in SPACE. Gai was in a mall! In space! Well, okay, it was actually on a planet, not too far from Earth and they could get back there within about ten minutes any time they were needed thanks to what Don had done to the engines after that weekend where he went all wild-eyed and drank their entire stock of food colouring. They were at this planet because they’d chased a Sgormin this way, but Gai was still very excited. A space mall! In space!
They had lots of weird things in it, too, and he loved them all. Except maybe for the hairbrushes with eyeballs on them. But he liked the tiles. They lit up to show you which way to go.
Focus, stupid! You’re here to buy a present for Don-san’s birthday!
“I don’t think Hakase-san would want something utilitarian,” Ahim said, wringing her hands. She stepped closer to the kitchenwares store. “Isn’t that like we’re reducing him to his domestic work, Marvelous-san?”
Luka threw her hands up, and Gai automatically ducked. She only caught his ear. He grinned triumphantly. “Hakase likes being reduced!”
“Buy him alcohol,” Marvelous said briskly. He nodded. Order given. Job done. He glowered at a passerby who glowered back, Gai thought. It was difficult to tell since the person didn’t have anything that appeared to be a face. Branches, sure. Leaves, as well. Maybe berries? But no face.
Marvelous was a good captain, Gai thought conscientiously, and his decisiveness was one of his good points. He didn’t, however, always make the BEST decisions. Gai opened his mouth to tentatively raise an objection to the alcohol idea -
Joe grabbed Marvelous’ arm. “Don’t you remember the last time he had that pineapple drink with the toothpicks, and what he did to dinner? I was picking glitter out of my teeth for weeks! I’m not going through that again.”
Gai frowned as he looked at the bath / bed / kitchen store. It looked okay to him, and it made him think of something. “You guys go ahead, I’ll catch up!”
A space mall! In space!
* * *
Don settled into the warmth of the water with considerable gratitude. They’d fought this morning, and that was okay! Really! He quite enjoyed aspects of that by now – yeah, yeah, he used his own very unorthodox methods but it was satisfying to help other people. Even if he didn’t feel like the most skilled fighter amongst them.
What was killing his back, though, was picking up after everyone. Luka couldn’t leave her clothes anywhere but the floor. Marvelous didn’t even HAVE a floor, was how it looked when you stood in his bedroom doorway. Many flaws! No floor! He wasn’t happy about how he’d have to work on THAT job later.
Right now, though, he inhaled the scent of the fruity bath salt thing that he’d found under the sink, and he exhaled, and he relaxed.
Right up until he rose from the suds like some kind of alarmed small bird. His Mobirates was going off. “Hakase! Emergency! You need to-”
Gai’s voice was cut off. Don squawked, and reached for a towel, then he squawked again.
* * *
With Don joining them, the battle was now deal-withable, Gai thought with utter relief. He launched himself into a series of flips along the top of the dump truck, narrowly avoiding being filleted, then changed into Dekaranger in time with the rest of them.
Marvelous had a comment. “Why are you moving so weird, Hakase?”
“No reason! I always move like this!”
He contradicted himself there. What was going on?
“He always does move weirdly,” said Luka helpfully. She spun on the gravel. Gai went low while she went high, then they took out each other’s opponents.
Don made an outraged little sniff.
Don flipped through a crowd of Gormin in front of Gai, and then reached a discreet hand down afterwards, and it clicked for Gai. He clapped a hand over his mouth to try to restrain the squeak but it just kept getting louder and louder.
There was an explosion. Gai got to his feet, ears ringing. Couldn’t hear himself think. He had to finish this thought, though, so he hissed very softly, “DID YOU TRANSFORM WHILE YOU WERE NAKED?”
For some completely unknown reason, even though he was totally soft and could barely be heard by a mouse, everyone else stopped fighting, and their heads whipped around.
Ahim wailed, “No!”
Everyone suddenly got louder. Must be some weird quality in the air, Gai decided. Definitely not part of his concuss. Cussconion. Whatever.
“The call came up while I was in the bath and you guys stole all the towels again!”
Gai took a step back. He hadn’t heard Don sound quite so murderous since the last time Luka had used one of his good saucepans to practice embalming.
“So you’re naked under there?” he asked cautiously. Not that he really needed it spelled out.
“I thought we were only running around naked on Naked Tuesdays,” said Luka.
Gai blinked, turning to her, and Ahim blocked a hit that would’ve taken his head off. “Naked Tuesdays?”
“It’s not complicated! On Tuesdays, we get naked!”
…oh. All of a sudden Gai was much more interested in what Don, Luka, and Ahim got up to in their Tuesday sessions. He had conscientiously not tried to insert himself into their relationship, because he had lovely little dates with Don each weekend, and he and Joe and Ahim usually spent time baking together (which sometimes devolved into smooches), and every so often Marvelous or Luka dragged him off to his room for an evening of rough sex if any of them particularly needed it.
(Funnily enough, when either one had that look in their eyes, Gai always needed it.)
Sometimes they included members of sentai teams, if that person was inclined, and if Gai could stop babbling starstruck things long enough to actually connect with them. It was fun. Gai didn’t have sex all the time, didn’t want it all the time, but he had lots of fun sex and lots of fun times with people. Sometimes you just wanted to flop over someone and play with their hair while you watched a terrible old movie.
Sometimes you wanted more nakedness, of course.
So he threw caution to the wind as he skidded underneath Marvelous’ swipe to take out a Gormin that was aiming at Joe. “Is there room for one more now and then?”
“Offer’s always open, but you have to wash your feet first!”
…that just raised more questions than it answered.
* * *
Don opened the presents. A bottle of whiskey from Marvelous, which he made polite noises about and Joe made horrified noises about.
A cake from Joe, which made Don’s eyes light up.
A book from Luka, which was a quieter present than Gai would’ve expected, really. But Don’s eyes went wide and he turned one page sideways. Gai leaned closer, fascinated.
“How do you think they-?”
“I don’t know, but what’s going on with the goat?”
Ahim presented Don with a curtsey, a dimpling smile, and a small package containing a green scarf. “I assume you’re not naked right now, Don-san, but I thought it might help in the future.”
“Assuming no one else steals it,” Don grumbled, patting the couch next to him. He turned the grumble into a beam at Ahim, though. “Thank you, Ahim. And yes, of course I’m naked under my clothes!”
Ahim squeaked, but sat down next to him anyway. She patted his knee delicately, and Luka grinned.
Gai tossed him a package. “Last one!”
Don tore it open to reveal a robe… in horrible green and pink and red. It had sequins on the back, spelling out HAKASE. It was dreadful.
“Gai,” Don said brokenly, reaching for him. “It’s perfect. No one will ever steal it!”
“Well…” began Marvelous, but Luka thumped him.