Co-written by Amy L./AnkhsAngel

Naga stared at the clock, wondering how long it would take for the others to get back. He glanced over at Stinger who was the only other person on the ship.

"Annoyed?" Stinger raised an eyebrow over the shirt he was repairing.

"Just wondering why they wanted us to stay here. Normally it's the Commander and Raptor.."

Stinger snorted. "Knowing Aibou, he probably planned this with Balance."

Naga raised an eyebrow, "But why?"

Stinger dropped his eyes. "Nevermind. They'll no doubt be back soon. Just relax." He finished his sewing and busied himself with putting everything away.

"You're really good at sewing. I always end up poking myself with the needle when I try," Naga admitted.

"It wasn't overnight, you know. I struggled for years. Still poke myself sometimes." Stinger shrugged. "Just keep trying."

Naga gave him a small smile and nodded before looking back at the clock. He sighed and stood, "Are you hungry?"

"I could eat. But don't put yourself out on my account." Stinger stole a glance at the other man, sighing internally.

"I'm going to go cook. I'm no Spada, but I did work in one of the planet dining halls for a while," Naga said, "You can join me if you wish." He started out the door of the bridge.

Stinger watched him go, taking a deep breath. If this had been planned, well, Champ and Balance might need to be put back together when Stinger got through with them.

Naga stood at the stove, his mind wandering back to Stinger. He wondered what he meant by them planning this. Not that he was complaining, Stinger was one of the people he was closest to on the ship. Not that he was very close to anyone other than Balance though.

He stirred the food before making a plate and sitting down to eat.

Stinger quietly entered and got a plate. He hesitated at the table, then began heading for the door.

Naga watched him, wondering why he was leaving but deciding not to touch on it, "Hope it's seasoned enough for you."

Stinger paused. "I'm sure it is. Sorry if I disturbed you."

"It's not like I'm busy doing anything. I did say you could join me, but you don't have to." Naga stated.

"I didn't want to crowd you. I know you're uncomfortable around me." Stinger answered quietly.

"Uncomfortable? You're one of the only people I talk to on the ship," Naga raised an eyebrow. "I'm sorry if I come off as uncomfortable or awkward. I'm still not good with showing the right emotions.."

Stinger shook his head. "Didn't mean it like that." He slipped into the seat across from Naga.

Naga's eyebrows furrowed in confusion but he didn't say anything.

Stinger turned red, quickly turning his attention to eating.

Naga went back to eating as well. After a few minutes he sighed, "I've been told most people find silence uncomfortable, so I should start a conversation, but they never told me what kinds of things to talk about."

Stinger frowned. "I'm not most people. Silence doesn't bother me." He raised his eyes. "But usually people talk about things they have in common."

Naga looked thoughtful, "Would you prefer silence or talking?"

Stinger stopped eating. "Never thought about it."

Naga looked down a moment, "Hammy likes to talk a lot. Balance does too. Mostly I just listen."

"Lucky is the worst. I'm surprised he doesn't talk in his sleep." Stinger scowled.

"He does like to talk a lot more than Hammy does. He gets excited easily too, over little things. It's interesting but Balance says most people aren't like that."

"If they were, I'd let them stay under Jark Matter." Stinger resumed eating quietly.

Naga went back to eating as well, finishing up and going to the sink to wash the dishes.

"That sounded bad, didn't it?" Stinger said softly.

"A bit?" Naga shrugged slightly.

Stinger snorted. "Sorry. Not much of a people person anymore."

"People are hard to deal with," Naga admitted.

"I used to be friendlier. But things changed." Stinger went to the sink, placing his plate in the soapy water. "Though some people are easier to be around than others.." His eyes were drawn to Naga's lips and he wondered what it would be like. Then he shook his head, quickly withdrawing. "Uh..thanks for the food." He fled the kitchen, breathing hard as he returned to the bridge.

Naga frowned slightly, wondering if he did something wrong to make Stinger leave so quickly. He finished the dishes and headed to the bay to run some diagnostics on his voyager.

Stinger watched him through the cameras, resisting the urge to go down there. He squeezed his hands together and softly swore in Sasori. Why him? Why now? This was neither the time or the place for these feelings, not to mention Naga had no knowledge of romantic love and Stinger was damned if he'd take advantage of that fact.

Naga finished his diagnostics and sat down for a moment. His mind went to Stinger once again and he wondered why the scorpion was on his mind so much. Maybe because Balance wasn't there to talk his ear off like usual. His eyes looked up at the Sasori voyager and decided to run diagnostics on it too. Normally Balance took care of that, but since he wasn't there he figured he'd make sure the voyager was running normally. He approached it and began the tests, focusing his mind on the readouts.

Stinger pulled his eyes away to glance at the clock. He touched his seiza blaster's comm. "Hey, Naga?"

"Yes?"

"Getting concerned. It's past check in time."

"Have you tried calling them?"

"Going to right now. Just be prepared if I start flying the ship." He closed the channel, then called the Commander, with no response. He frowned and proceeded to call each of his teammates with his worry growing by the second. He finally commed Naga again. "No one is answering."

Naga frowned, "I'll head to their last location to see if I can find anything."

"Is that a good idea? Might be better to stick together." Stinger's voice grew slightly alarmed.

"Oh. I figured someone should stay with the ship. But if you would rather we both go, that's fine."

"I meant flying the Orion to their last location." Stinger cursed his voice change. Naga was a grown man, he didn't have to be so worried about him.

"Okyu. Do you need help on the bridge?"

"No." Stinger answered rapidly. "I'm okyu. I'll let you know when we're there." He closed the channel, closing his eyes in frustration.

He couldn't deny it any longer. He was falling in love with the quiet ranger. And it might just get them killed. He forced the thoughts aside and set course for his teammates.

Naga finished making adjustments to the Sasori voyager to make sure it was running well. He then headed up to the bridge. After entering he updated, "Both our voyagers are in top condition if we need them."

"Thanks." The ship stopped and Stinger frowned. "There's nothing here."

Naga frowned, "Should we go and check things out?"

The scorpion hesitated. "I'll go. You stay here in case they call."

"Didn't you say we should stick together?" Naga raised an eyebrow.

Stinger cursed in his head. "Fine. Come on." He headed for the bay, growling under his breath and trying to determine if Balance would forgive him if he stung Naga again.

Naga followed quietly, heading to his voyager and preparing to launch.

"Be careful." Stinger's voice came over the comm before Sasori launched.

Naga launched and headed down toward the planet. He climbed out and began looking around for any signs of his teammates.

Stinger scowled as his search came up empty. He touched his comm, but never got to speak as a laser blast sent him reeling backwards. He hissed, trying to see through the smoke.

Naga heard something and started toward it. Soon though, a group of indavers surrounded him. He froze the ones he could and tried to take the others out, but soon he felt a weapon to his back. He tried to quickly aim behind him but the indaver sliced at him making him lose his eye contact with the others. They all came closer and he continued to fight against them until he was slashed at again, making him fall forward to the ground.

"NAGA!" An orange tail whipped through the indavers, dropping them as Stinger raced to the ranger's side. "Are you alright?" The scorpion looked frantic, his eyes wide with fear.

Stinger could see blood seeping out from the wounds in Naga's back. Naga groaned and pushed himself to his feet, "I'll be alright. Let's find the others."

"You are going back to the Orion." Stinger led him toward the voyagers.

Naga pulled away. "You're not the Commander, so you can't tell me to go back. We need to find our team."

"You're hurt!" Stinger said softly. "I can't lose you…" He froze as the words came out, closing his eyes and wishing for a deep hole to swallow him.

Naga was quiet a minute before asking, "What do you mean? I'm just a teammate, it's not like I'm a friend."

"You're more than that to me…" The words said next were nearly inaudible, Stinger beginning to shake in fear.

"I don't..understand." Naga tried to comprehend what the Sasori ranger meant.

"I love you, Naga." Stinger said hurriedly before adding, "You don't have to respond. Just had to say it." He stepped a few steps back, then looked up at a noise. He suddenly pushed Naga down, then stiffened.

Naga's mind was on overload trying to understand Stinger's statement. He looked up at the other man, worry crossing his face.

Stinger tried to smile, but it changed to a grimace as the sword was yanked from his back. Blood was spreading over the scorpion's sweater as he fell to his knees.

Naga moved quickly and took down the one that hurt Stinger. He then lifted the scorpion and rushed him to the Hebitsukai voyager. He put pressure on the wound as autopilot flew them back to the ship. He then carried him to the infirmary and began to stitch him closed.

"Sorry ..for confusing you…" Stinger forced out between pained breaths. He shook as shock began setting in.

Naga stayed silent as he continued to focus on helping the other ranger. He finished the stitches and set up a transfusion. He then sat down beside Stinger, feeling dizzy.

The comm system activated. "Orion? What are you doing here?" Lucky's voice was as boisterous as ever.

"No one answered when we tried to call.. So we came looking.. Got attacked," Naga updated.

"Are you two alright?" Hammy's voice was worried.

"I think he'll be alright now.. I'd be okay if the room would quit spinning."

"Docking in five." Raptor said. "I will be in the infirmary as soon as I land."

Naga rested his head on the side of Stinger's bed for a moment before he lost consciousness and fell from the chair.

One week later

Naga went to Stinger's door and knocked quietly.

It opened, Stinger looking at him in surprise. "Naga? Is there a problem?"

"Can we talk?"

The scorpion's eyes darkened, but he opened the door wider to let Naga in. After closing it, he returned to where he was apparently packing.

"Are you leaving?"

Stinger shrugged. "I don't belong here. Requested to become a spy again." He carefully placed his blaster on the bed. "What did you want to talk about?"

"Oh." Naga said quietly before shaking his head, "why do you think you don't belong here?"

"I'm no savior. I almost got you killed because of my stupid feelings."

"Feelings aren't stupid.." Naga answered. "I.. I'm confused though. Balance has explained love to me before and I'm slowly grasping the concept. But there's different types of love. Do you mean romantic love or love like a family?"

Stinger slowly answered. "This is why I should leave. You don't understand and I don't want to force you into anything."

Naga looked down, "I'm sorry.. I'm trying to learn though." He sighed, "It is I who should leave.. I keep causing issues with everyone in my misunderstandings.. You have Champ and Kotaro to care about. I mean, I have Balance, but he lived a couple hundred years before me, he'd survive without me." Naga went to the door.

Stinger softly swore, then grabbed Naga's hand. When the other man looked at him, the scorpion pressed their lips together. Then he drew back, searching Naga's face.

Naga looked thoughtful for a moment, "So.. romantic love?" A look crossed his face and Stinger could have sworn he looked nervous. "Balance says when you love someone, you think about them a lot and want to protect them. I was comparing feelings and thoughts I've had for the team and you and Balance seem to be the people I care for most. But I think my feelings for you are different from him?" He paused a moment and looked down, "I think I love you, but I'm not sure what happens now. I'd like to learn more about the emotion with you.."

"Are you sure?" Stinger looked at him quietly.

Naga nodded, still looking down.

Stinger smiled softly, then kissed him again. "I guess I'm not leaving."

Naga gave him a small smile before a hint of confusion flashed over his face. "There's one more thing I don't understand."

"What's that?"

"Why do you love me? I struggle with emotions and am clueless about a lot of things.. That doesn't seem like something to like?"

"You haven't given up, even when you haven't understood something. You're brave and besides, I like a challenge." Stinger grinned at him, his eyes teasing.

"Balance said people who love each other go on dates. Will you tell me about them so I can take you?"

"If you answer my question. Why do you love me?"

"You are brave and strong, I think about you a lot, you make me happy, and I've not found a lot of things or people that can do that, and of all the people I've seen while I traveled with Balance, you're the first one I've thought was cute."

"Is that all?" Stinger laughed. "Nice to know. Even though I scare people and don't like them much, I'm still cute."

Naga nodded with a small smile.

"I don't scare you? I'm pretty grumpy according to everyone here."

"You don't scare me. And I don't mind you being grumpy."

"Oh really?"

"I like a challenge," Naga smirked slightly.

Stinger's jaw dropped for a minute, then he pulled Naga closer. "Is that right? Here's a challenge for you. How long can you go without breathing?"

Naga's eyebrows furrowed, "What do you mean?"

Stinger smirked before kissing him deeply. After several minutes, he drew back.

Naga caught his breath before admitting, "I like kissing."

"Let's do it some more then. I mean, if that's okyu?"

Naga nodded and initiated a kiss before he wrapped his hands in Stinger's hair.

Stinger broke the kiss, looking dazed. "Are you sure you've never kissed anyone else?"

"Positive."

"Wow...you're a quick learner."

Naga smiled brightly for once.

"I love you." Stinger said softly.

"I love you too."