Disclaimer: I don't own Power Rangers or Winnie the Pooh. This takes place after "Maryl and the Monkeys". There's no slash implied (getting THAT out of the way first); just friendship & bonding. Not everything is about fluff. Though this does take place in the same verse as my poor, lonely fluff epics.
This was a request from general zargon: Dom and Casey, hugs, and stuffed crust pizza.
Dom had been shooting hoops all evening but so far not a single shot had gone in. He still didn't understand why Maryl hadn't given him another chance. Alright, he had messed up. But weren't errors to be expected in the early days of any relationship, romantic or otherwise? Heck, he had gotten on RJ's bad side at least once a day in the early days of their friendship, and his welcome to JKP hadn't been the warmest.
Dom spun the ball in his hands. Maybe there was something wrong with him. Nothing serious, but something that made it difficult for him to make a good impression on people. After all, he was the common factor in all three scenarios.
Forcefully Dom threw the ball at the hoop, where it just bounced off the backboard. He grunted as he got the ball back. Just because Maryl didn't want to have pizza with him didn't mean there was something wrong with him. It just meant she was a bit unsocial, that's all. Or that's what Dom told himself to prevent concerns of the flaws in his own social abilities. As he prepared for another shot, Dom heard some faint sniffling.
RJ had dragged Fran off to a rival pizza parlor to test their pizza against JKP's, while Theo and Lily were out on their weekly not-date. Uh-huh. So that left Casey, but Casey never cried. Curious, Dom dropped the ball and followed the sound of the crying.
But it was Casey, sitting on the floor of the JKP's kitchen, his head buried in his arms.
"Casey? What's wrong?" frowned Dom. It had to be something serious to get to the upbeat, stubborn guy that was Casey. Red-eyed, Casey looked up at the older man.
"Oh, sorry, Dom. I didn't know you were still here…"
"Hey, you have nothing to be sorry about," Dom assured the Red Ranger, sitting down next to him. "So, what's up?"
Casey shrugged listlessly. Dom slung an arm around Casey's scrunched shoulders.
"You can tell me. I promise I won't tell the others."
With a heavy sigh Casey rested his head against Dom's shoulder. "I just got overwhelmed when I got to thinking about… about everything."
"We're getting close to the final battle- we got to make it or break it. And since I'm the Red Ranger, I have to be the one in charge. I'm the one the others have to count on. That means I'm the one, at the truth of the matter, that it really falls to to save the world."
"I'm serious! That's what a Red Ranger does. But I'm the least experienced one here. Okay, last year Mack had a similar problem but he was a robot! That automatically makes him cool!"
"Heh, automatically," Dom snorted at the pun. Casey just glowered at him, sniffling. "And the year before that, Nick was the puttying Light! And the year before that, Jack managed to step up to the plate and become a real hero. And the year before that, Conner held his own against Tommy Oliver! And the year before that-"
"I get it, Casey." Dom struggled to keep the amusement out of his voice due to Casey's obvious angst. Apparently he'd been really listening to RJ's ramblings about previous Ranger teams thanks to Billy's lectures to him. "Hey… how old are you guys anyway?"
"Me, Theo, and Lily are all eighteen."
Dom let out a low whistle, having not realized just how young his other teammates were. "That is kind of young to have the full pressure of saving the world on your shoulders."
"The first ten managed fine," Casey moped. As he went on, his voice got more and more panicky. "And the four junior Dino Thunder Rangers were seventeen when they started- same as Chip and Xander, plus Max. The Rocca twins were sixteen. And Justin was eleven going on twelve!"
"Calm down, Casey. Let's do what RJ always does and have pizza."
Casey's stomach grumbled at the mention of 'pizza'. He smiled wanly. "I guess I could go for some pizza right about now."
So the two began work on a cheese stuffed crust pizza. While Dom made the dough, Casey warmed the sauce and got out the cheese.
"Listen, Casey. You're doing great as the Red Ranger. I mean, part of being a Ranger is having doubts and working through them."
Casey rolled his still-red eyes.
"I'm serious! How do you think I felt when you guys didn't think I'd make a good Ranger?"
"Sorry about that, by the way," mumbled Casey. Dom exhaled ruefully. "It's okay. It seems I just suck at first impressions."
"I noticed Maryl didn't come," acknowledged Casey. "But we gave you a second chance, and it was worth it. She doesn't know what she's missing out on. Though at least you got a love interest for a bit. Theo and Lily have each other, something is going on between RJ and Fran-"
"Good, it's not just me," smirked Dom. "It's about time RJ noticed girls weren't just good for buying pizza from him."
A ghost of a smile touched Casey's face. "Plus, even Dai Shi and Camille seem to have this… vibe sometimes."
"Tell me about it," nodded Casey, stirring the sauce. "But I've got no one. Well, okay, I think I might have flirted with Doctor Jennings and she could have flirted back but I don't know."
Dom eyed Casey thoughtfully. "This isn't just about you worrying about being worthy to save the world, is it? There're some good old fashioned romantic insecurities going on too."
Casey flushed. Then he asked: "When was the first time you kissed a girl, Dom?"
Dom thought about it for a minute. "I guess I was thirteen. Stole one from a neighborhood girl on Halloween. She was dressed up like a princess, and I was a dragon…"
"Thirteen?" Casey gulped.
Dom chuckled as he started to toss the dough. "I grew up fast- or tried to."
"Theo and Lily admitted that they kissed before either of them turned sixteen just to get their first kiss out of the way. Though I think that's when Theo's crush on Lily got finalized."
"That'd do it," agreed Dom. Casey hesitantly asked, "Do you know when or if RJ got his first kiss?"
"Well, he got cagey on the subject after last Christmas, so I suspect Fran and mistletoe were involved."
Casey scuffed his sneaker against the tiled floor. "See? I'm still a kid…"
"Getting your first kiss isn't a step to adulthood, Casey," chuckled Dom. Casey looked dubious so he insisted, "It's not. Learning to trust yourself and how to support others are steps. Though I guess for Power Rangers, saving the world is a step too."
"I am sorry about Maryl, Dom. But I guess if she didn't give you a second chance, she's not worth one herself."
"Maybe," shrugged Dom as they began work on actually making the pizza. "That doesn't mean I'll stop being heartsick over her for a while. Crushes aren't like switches, you know."
"No, I don't. Not for real ones," Casey shook his head. "Weren't you listening?"
Dom flinched before hugging Casey. "Right- sorry."
Hugging him back, Casey sniffled. "I just wish I was a better Red Ranger…"
"You're a great Red Ranger, Casey. Everyone suffers from doubts sometimes… I'm sure you'll pull it off at the final battle."
"If you say so. Let's finish making the stuffed crust pizza."
"Right," agreed Dom, stepping back. He wasn't sure how much he had gotten through to Casey, but what was clear was that they both had self-esteem issues. Maybe that was why they'd been getting along better lately. Well, for now it was time for cheese stuffed crust pizza.
"Do you know what's the most wonderful thing about you being a Red Tigger?"
"What?" Casey asked warily. Dom smirked. "You're the only one!"
"Hah ha," Casey rolled his eyes. "Very funny Winnie the Pooh joke, Dom."
"I was being sarcastic..."
"I know," Dom laughed as they wrapped up making the stuffed crust pizza. "Come on, Tigger, let's put this pizza in the oven."