Title: Romancing a Leopard for Dummies

Author: Melissa Someone
Story Category: Power Rangers

Generation: Jungle Fury
Rating: Teen

Summary: Casey has no idea on how to romance both a woman and her animal spirit..
Pairing: Casey/OC
Inspired by: Nikutai No Kizuna – The Ties That Bind and Forgotten Past
Disclaimer: Don't own PR, Saban does...
Universe: AU

Chapter 8:

Jasmine was dancing. Really, she hadn't intended to keep up with the dancing she'd begun learning as a prequisite of her uncle Retsu's training but it had comforted her after Tora had left. It gave her pleasure even after he was gone to just dance and kept her mind off the empty ache in her heart. She listened to the music. Natsume-chan had taught her to always pay attention to the beat in the music as she danced.

Soon, Jasmine's thoughts were preoccupied with Tora, or rather Casey. In the six years that they'd been apart, Casey had changed. His personality wasn't always the same – before the accident, Casey had laughed a lot and had been a partner in her pranks on Theo. Now, it was rare to hear the red ranger laugh over the smallest thing. He was protective whenever Theo picked on her, telling the blue to shove it but that wasn't new. As Tora, Casey had been a champion of the underdog. As himself however, he had a need to prove himself alongside championing underdogs.

She briefly smiled over a memory of Casey telling her brother off when they were children. "I didn't know that you still danced." Jasmine nearly lost her balance as she turned and saw Casey sitting in Rhonda watching her.

"I...uh, just how long were you sitting there?" She asked Casey. The Red ranger smiled at her, the smile almost bordering on predatory.

"For the last fifteen minutes." He answered and then his smile faltered. "You dancing is one of the few things that I can actively remember." Casey reluctantly admitted, Jasmine feeling sorry for him. "We were close, weren't we?"

"Very." She answered, looking at him. "You were a constant partner in pranking Theo." Casey got up from Rhonda and moved a little too close. "What?" She asked.

"Would you dance with me or is that something your brother would frown on?" He asked in return as he started 'Time Of My Life'. She grinned to let him know she didn't give a fig about what her brother thought about the situation and let him take her hand, adjusting her to fit within his embrace. "Jasmine, there may be a chance that I won't remember our childhood completely." He told her as he danced with her.

"I know." She replied. "It's enough knowing that you're here with me, even though you're a cub." The terminology made Casey wince. "I'm not using it like Theo does, Casey. I'm just glad that you're not..." Casey distracted her by kissing her forehead.

"Jasmine, did RJ ask you to rub his shoulders when he gave you the same test?" Casey asked, unaware he was growling the statement.

"You're growling and no, he didn't. Actually he just made me clean the yoga mat and mop the floor with a towel." Casey looked at her skeptically. "I was just as bad as you were with mopping the floor...if not worse than you outright." Casey laughed. It was hard to imagine Jasmine fixing RJ's chair, washing his yoga mat and mopping the floor all in the same day. "I don't know what he does with that yoga mat but it reeks like he doesn't put it in the washing machine." Casey laughed even harder. He had coughed when he smelled the mat.

"Agreed." Casey replied with a soft snicker. "I'm sorry about growling at you. It's just..."

"Tiger got possessive, I understand." She soothed. Casey nodded. "Casey, are you afraid that I might pick someone else to be my shitashii kogareru?" She asked. Casey blushed, knowing that he'd entertained the notion when she was visiting her parents. Jasmine was a beautiful young woman and Casey knew that there were many guys at Pai Zhuq who would kill for the opportunity to be her mate.

"Yes." he freely admitted and turned his head.

"Casey..." She started. "Look at me." He did as she asked through blurry tears. "I could have chosen someone else when Leopard thought you dead. I couldn't. I refused to believe that you were dead. Remember when RJ said that love is a bonus, not a necessity for the bonded pair?"

"Yeah." Casey replied softly, wondering where this was going. They had long since stopped, Casey holding Jasmine close to him.

"My heart has chosen you. It wasn't just Leopard choosing you that day we met...I love you, Casey. That's why I couldn't choose anyone else, even if Leopard asked me to." Her lower lip trembled.

"Don't cry, Jasmine." He murmured softly. Casey still felt awkward around Jasmine and tried to avoid upsetting her whenever necessary. "I'm here." He held her close and wondered when they'd defeat Dai Shi for good so that they could have the ceremony without interference. "I know that sometimes Masters are different, but what was going on with Brandison when I saw her at the academy?"

"Casey...she was mated to RJ before we came along. Like he told me once, he didn't know she was in heat until she threw his butt into a room with a door on it. In all honesty, she's not fit to be a Master." Jasmine replied. "Since RJ refused her at first to let her get a new mate, she hates anything or anyone associated with RJ."

"He seems happier with Lil." Casey remarked.

"I wouldn't give Cheetah long before she decides that the two should become parents." Jasmine countered in a low murmur.

"A year at most." Casey whispered, noticing RJ on the balcony.

"Nah, six months." Jasmine disagreed with a smile. "Trust me, I have an idea of what female spirits are thinking."

"Want to bet on how long it'll be before Leopard makes the same decision?" Casey whispered again.

"Leopard said to shut up." Jasmine said with a laugh. "She added that she'll think about it when Dai Shi is good and extinguished, so hold your damn horses if you please." They heard RJ's snort of laughter. Apparently the Wolf Master found their conversation funny.

"If I know your animal spirit as well as you do, Jasmine, she probably used language worse than that." RJ threw down at the couple with another laugh.

"She did. I edited." Jasmine remarked, annoyed by her animal spirit's choice of language. "How's Lily?"

"She's doing okay. Resting after the quill incident." RJ answered simply.

"Meaning you've implied to her that if she didn't do as she was told, you'd be disappointed with her." Casey said translating his master's sentence with ease.

A/N: read and review!