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Losing Touch

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He welcomed Hayley's hug and Dr. O's pat on his shoulder, and once they'd found a spot where they could talk freely, chatted about old times, about Megazords and monsters and Mesogog. Trent didn't say much about his father's alter-ego, but Conner wasn't about to go into that either. It wasn't like Trent had chosen his foster father, and it wasn't like he'd known until late that Anton Mercer and Mesogog were the same being.

"Kira tells me you're a philosophy major, Conner," Doctor O said with a twinkle in his eyes. Conner had to wonder at how bright an idea that was, to share that particular fact with Doctor O, but it wasn't like he was going to broadcast it. And it wasn't like Conner himself was hiding the fact, so he could hardly complain, could he? Everybody had been proud that Conner had made Harvard, and he really owed it to all of them to be proud of what he had chosen to do. Even if he wasn't too sure about what teasing might come from him choosing Philosophy. For one, it was a bit hard to find a job with that degree, though not impossible.

But that seemed like a long way away, just as his time as a Ranger had been. Though that didn't seem so far away, now that he was surrounded by teammates and friends. Really, it seemed like things had never ended, when they were all together. Yeah, he was no longer with Krista, and Trent and Kira, who he'd thought would never break up, were broken up, but they were all pursuing their dreams, in their own ways. Kira was signging, Trent was learning to be an artist, Ethan was having the best time ever in school, and he had to wonder if Doctor O and Hayley were going to hook up, finally.

"Yeah," he admitted. "I like it. I guess that time with that meteorite really opened my eyes to some things." He could have done without being turned into Mr. Bookworm, but it had not been bad, in the end. He really did enjoy classes and essays and papers, or at least as much as anybody else did. He was really good at the school thing, something he would have never thought before.

Maybe other changes were possible, he thought as he looked at Kira. Maybe he could talk her into dating him, at least someday. Maybe when she got over Trent. It wasn't impossible, as long as he respected her for who she was, instead of who someone wanted her to be.

It was an enjoyable lunch, he had to admit. "I wish I'd been changed that way," Trent said wistfully. Conner tried to remember what had happened to Trent - oh, yeah, he turned good for a while, didn't he? It didn't seem so big now, now that they were both older, and that Conner had been studying philosophy and belief, and other things that tried to understand humans and the world. He had to admit, that if Trent had hurt Kira physically, Conner would still beat him up, or what remained of him after Kira had gotten through with him. But Trent was not that way, and the fact that the two of them still lived together, even if they didn't really talk, spoke volumes about the fact that they still liked and respected each other. Just not romantically. Conner suspected that Trent had changed too, and for the better, but that hadn't stopped the two of them from breaking up.

"Yeah," Conner agreed. "Dude, of the four of us, you changed the least. With that thing, I mean." Trent had always been good, and the meteorite should have shown his hidden side, though Conner had to admit that having Trent be on the good side for that brief time was probably the best of everything.

Trent smiled, and Conner could still see the guilt in his expression. Years ago, he would have harped on Trent for it; now, he looked at his teammate, and suddenly understood what Trent had gone through. Sure, Doctor O had been evil, but it might have been in the era of the dinosaurs for as much as it seemed to affect him. With Trent, it was a different story. The pain, while not fresh, was still there, lurking. Some part of him still wanted pain for pain, but the rest of him realized that it had never, ever been Trent's fault.

It was amusing to think that he'd grown up, possibly more than the others. Or at least he was starting to realize things without the blinds of teenage hormones and instead reason things through. He wasn't sure about the whole elevator speech thing that one professor had cheekily assigned that weekend, but he was sure that he'd emphasize his skills, and his philosophical outlook, and how mature he was. Or maybe not, on that last one. He wasn't sure. He still had to do the speech, and it had taken him ten tries.

But there were worse things, and now that he was with the others, he felt much more at home, as if something had been missing. Of course, he knew that it had, but now, it was pretty apparent to him that it had been really, really missing in his life, and that he needed to get it back.

"Yeah, who knew what Trent's would have been like?" Kira teased, and Trent relaxed, a little. Conner definitely wasn't going to have to kick Trent's ass any time soon.

"Um." Trent smiled at the ground. "I don't know."

There were a lot of things that Conner could have said, but he genuinely didn't know what Trent's inner self would have been like. And, suddenly, he wanted to know, in things not involving meteorites.