Title: True Colors (6): Affirmation
Author: Hakase <3
Series: Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger
Spoilers: Episodes 37-38
Summary: They didn't stand a chance, not like this, and like hell was he going to let them die.
Previous Parts: 1) Suspicion (link)
2) Curiosity (link)
3) Opportunity (link)
4) Relaxation (link)
5) Interludes: Settling In (link)
The air was thick with smoke, the acrid smell of burning metal and rubber stinging at Marvelous' nostrils even through the helmet. He kept one hand on the wheel as GoJyu Gokai-Oh shook violently from the attack, and he could tell that they were outmatched.
It's not fair. The thought bubbled up from his stomach and clung tightly to his heart as he watched the main screen fizzle from the power surge. His eyes darted to his crew, one by one, lingering the longest on the shining green helmet to his right. They didn't stand a chance, not like this, and like hell was he going to let them die.
“So this is it,” he said aloud, more to himself than the rest of the crew. Somehow, saying it made it easier to accept as truth.
Gai, ever over-vigilant, heard it first. “What's that, Marvelous-san?”
Marvelous shut his eyes briefly, not that the rest of the crew could see that through the helmet's visor. In a way, he depended on it. “I'll stay.” Each word he said felt like he was being stabbed in the gut. “You guys get out.”
He heard Luka's cry of confusion and bit his lip, but it was Doc's pleading voice that hit the hardest. “What are you talking about, Marvelous?”
“Just get out!” he yelled over, unable to say anything more. Maybe it didn't make sense to them, but it was second nature to him. Maybe even first nature, if there was such a thing. He had to protect them all. His safety came second to theirs, whether they wanted it or not. “Captain's orders!”
Joe said something, but Marvelous was no longer listening. The sizzling in his ears, whether it was from fear or the galleon's circuits frying, was too loud for him to give the situation any more thought. Without even looking, he gave a curse and swiped his hand across the buttons at the bottom the wheel's console. He just barely saw the streaks of color as his crew was ejected to safety, then he let the growing pain take over and the world faded to white.
Sky and ground twirled wildly around him, growing brighter as a soft green glow indicated the loss of his suit, and then Doc was face-first on the ground and tasting asphalt in his mouth. It was either asphalt or blood, and at the moment he wasn't sure if he cared which was which.
“No,” he whispered as he stared at the cracked sidewalk beneath him. He scrabbled against it wildly as he turned himself over and pushed up to look back in the direction of GoJyu Gokai-Oh. The machine was buffeted by white explosions for less than a second more before it was engulfed, and the galleon proper was flung off through the mountains in a smoking red streak.
“Marvelous!” he found himself screaming, joined by Ahim and Luka on either side. The girls hesitated afterward, stunned by what they'd just seen, but Doc was already scrambling to his feet and running off in the same direction the galleon had fallen. He made it three, maybe four steps before he felt Luka's hand grab him forcefully by the elbow. “What?” he nearly yelled back in her face as he struggled to move forward.
“Don't go running off by yourself!” Luka barked right back, pulling his elbow again so that he spun around to face her properly. Her hair was a mess and her face covered in scratches from the asphalt, but her eyes were ablaze with an anger he definitely recognized. “The rest of us care about him too. We'll go together.”
A pair of gentle hands clung to his other arm tenderly, and he knew without looking that Ahim had caught up. “Agreed. It would be best if we traveled in numbers, in case we were to run across any more enemies in the process.” He glanced over and found that she was giving him a calm, pleading look that nearly served to upset him even more.
He pulled his arm from Luka's grasp, but held himself back from running. “Of course,” he said quietly, “we'll travel together.” Suddenly, the place he'd been so desperate to reach just a few seconds before felt like an almost undesirable place to be.
“We care about him too, idiot,” Luka said condescendingly, but Doc could hear the strain in her voice. She, too, was having difficulty keeping it together. “Just because you two are involved doesn't mean the rest of us stop caring.”
Her words meant well, but they triggered something in Doc's head and his vision blurred. “It wasn't supposed to happen this way!” he cried out, tears beginning to well at the corners of his eyes. He almost reached up to wipe them away, but his emotions got the better of him and he took a step back from the girls instead. “It's all wrong, can't you see?”
Ahim gave him a careful look, like she was analyzing a new variety of tea on the shelf. “None of us expected this to happen, Doc-san. None of us wanted it to happen, either.”
“Especially the kicking us out part,” Luka added as she crossed her arms. “Trust me when I say I'm gonna give him a piece of my mind for that one.”
Doc looked from Ahim to Luka, back to Ahim, and then the rational part of his mind kicked in and he felt some of his anger melt away. He realized his hands were clenched so tightly his nails were digging into his palms, and he forced himself to relax so that the biting pain began to fade. “...definitely,” he finally said, his eyes cast down and to the side. “We'll all give him a good talking to about this.” He lifted his eyes back up and gave each of the girls a tentative smile.
“That's the spirit,” Luka said with a grin, and punched him lightly on the shoulder to drive the point home. “Now let's go find our captain.”
“Isn't that what being a pirate's about?”
AkaRed's voice faded into the whiteness as Marvelous slowly became aware of the pain radiating from each and every one of his joints. As real as his short conversation with his former mentor had felt, it was growing more and more ethereal as the pain became more real. By the time his head began to throb, he wasn't entirely sure he'd heard anything at all before waking up on the floor of the galleon's bridge.
He groaned and the sound felt like little pins pricking into his temples. Carefully, almost experimentally, he moved his head and could feel a bit of moisture pooling underneath his cheek. Before he could resolve to open his eyes, there was a fluttering of mechanical wings and something that could only have been Navi started lightly beating him about the head.
“Marvelous!” she cried out, and he winced briefly before finally opening his eyes. “Marvelous...thank goodness, you're not dead!” At that moment he wasn't entirely sure that being alive was the preferable option, but he screwed up his strength and pushed himself up from the floor. His eyes cracked open and he could see that he'd bled onto the floor while unconscious, although it wasn't enough to really worry him.
Navi flapped up and faced him properly. “Marvelous, I'd never forgive you if you'd died and left me behind.”
He couldn't help the smirk that cracked across his face, even if it meant pulling at the small gash along his left temple. “Like I'd die,” he said with as much confidence as he could muster. “I've got too much to watch out for to let a bozo like that kill me now.” Flashes of color blinked through his mind, and some of his dreamed conversation came back to him. “Not when I'm likely to have crew ready to do it for him.”
Navi protested almost immediately, but Marvelous ignored it and pulled himself to his feet. The galleon's self-repair had kicked in and power was already back on to the main screen. Nothing had been selected yet, but in the upper right hand corner were six color-coded tracking lights, and all of them were brightly lit. He smiled again, ignored the pain, and grabbed the top of his wheel.
“I've got someone to return to,” he said, more to himself than Navi. “I'd better not keep him waiting any longer.”
What happened on board the galleon that evening was nothing short of a celebration. Not only had they thoroughly defeated Walz Gil, crown prince of the Zangyack empire, but they'd discovered their own ultimate power as well. Not to mention, Marvelous had managed to survive long enough to be completely and utterly scolded by every single member of his crew.
“Don't you ever do that again.” Gai had been the first to pull him aside during the festivities, his face an odd mix of seriousness and rosy cheeks. “I might be younger than you, but I'm old enough to make my own decisions. Don't take them away from me!”
Ahim had been next, far more composed than the rest of the crew, if just because she had a tendency to drink less. “I know – we all know – how much you care about us, Marvelous-san,” she'd said properly, keeping her eyes trained on the rest of the room as she spoke. “However, if it isn't too forward for me to say, some of us would much rather die by your side than have you die without us.” She met his eyes then, gave a small smile, and walked back to pour herself another cup of cherry tea.
Pink tinged the tops of Luka's cheeks as she yanked Marvelous over into a corner. She smelled lightly of rum and berries, and he was sure she'd probably had more to drink than anyone else in the room that evening. “If I'm gonna run, it's because I'm the one running,” she said determinedly, a slight slurring just barely audible at the edges of her words. “And I'm not ever gonna run while you're still fighting. So get over yourself already.” She punctuated the sentence with a punch to Marvelous' arm and went back to the table to grab another chocolate or three.
His first mate didn't so much pull him aside as much as simply sidle up next to him when he was taking another swig from the rum bottle. “Is there anything I even need to say?” he said quietly, and waited for Marvelous to reply.
The captain shook his head. It'd been made incredibly clear to him what he'd done wrong. Hallucinating a scolding from AkaRed had been bad enough, but his crew obviously wasn't going to let the subject drop anytime soon. He might be brash and impulsive, but he wasn't stupid. “I think you lot have said enough.” He handed the bottle to Joe, who took a quick gulp of his own. “It was stupid. Won't happen again, I promise.”
Joe nodded and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before replying. “Then you and I are square. But there's one person left you need to settle things with.” He gestured towards the couch with the bottle as he handed it back, and Marvelous followed the gesture to see Doc sitting there with an odd expression on his face. It looked like a combination of guilt and relief, and it made Marvelous's stomach twist painfully.
He gave a nod to his first mate, then walked around the outside of the festivities to lean against the side of the couch, nudging right up against the fretting blond. Doc flinched at first, then looked up to see that it was his captain standing there and he visibly relaxed. “Oh, um, hi, Marvelous.”
“Wanna talk?” Doc shook his head and Marvelous sighed. The engineer could be read as easily as an open book. He held out the bottle of rum and, after a moment's hesitation, Doc accepted it and took several long gulps. It was all Marvelous could do to keep from grabbing it back so the blond didn't over-imbibe, but Doc stopped before Marvelous really got worried, and handed the bottle back. “How about now?”
The engineer nodded, only a bit reluctantly, and Marvelous waited until the rest of the crew was paying attention to Gai's drunken antics before sneaking the two of them down the stairs and into Marvelous' private quarters. Shutting the door kept out most of the ruckus, and had the added benefit of giving them both the personal security to speak freely. Of course, the alcohol likely had something to do with that as well.
“I'm sorry,” Marvelous started first, hoping to get the nasty bit out of the way as quickly as possible. He hated apologizing, despised admitting any sort of error or weakness, but he knew when to get over his pride so that life could go on again. “It was bad enough that I acted on my own, without thinking of my crew. But I-”
Doc stood away, facing the corner of the room, arms wrapped tightly around himself as he interrupted. “But you didn't stop to think about what we could do together,” he said shortly, his words laden with more emotion than Marvelous could remember hearing from his engineer. “That maybe, sacrificing yourself wasn't the best option available.”
“And it wasn't.” Marvelous was quick to get back into the conversation before it turned into another lecture. “I know that now. It was stupid – I was stupid – and I don't think I can apologize enough.” He shoved his hands into his pockets and waited for a reply, but when none came, he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to wait for any more emotional tirades. “So...you know. What can I do.”
Doc tilted his head, blond curls bobbing slightly. “What can you do?”
Marvelous realized he hadn't put the right inflection on his question. He couldn't bear to blush openly, so instead he scowled at the floor angrily. “Yeah. What can I do? To, you know, make it up to you?”
His floor was pretty dirty, he realized, with quite a bit of dust and grime coating the wooden floorboards. For a moment he wondered how long it'd been since he cleaned, then he remember that he didn't ever clean – more or less as a rule – and that maybe he should've let Gai do the honors the last time the cabin boy had been on a hyperactive streak. He almost got around to wondering if he should order Gai to clean when Doc interrupted his thoughts by grabbing both of his shoulders.
“Don't worry about making it up to me.” Marvelous looked up into Doc's eyes and, not for the first time, was completely unsure about what he was seeing. Was that concern? Guilt? Lust? It was a passion that he was sure Doc never showed the rest of the crew, and the thought that it might be reserved especially for him was simultaneously exciting and worrying. “Just promise me you won't ever do that again.”
“I won't,” Marvelous replied immediately, scowling slightly at his unreadable engineer. “I mean that. So all of you-” He had been ready to launch in a lecture of his own when Doc crushed their lips together in a near-bruising kiss, and most of the words he'd had ready disappeared into a urgent need churning in the pit of his stomach. He wasted no time in wrapping his hands around the blond's tiny waist, and the two of them guided each other over to fall purposefully into the bed.
Doc pulled back, just a little. “It's just me here,” he whispered breathlessly around Marvelous' swollen lips. “You can't get rid of me now.”
Marvelous smirked. “Like I would,” he shot back, then flipped them over together so that the blond was pinned beneath him. Doc responded with half-lidded eyes and a provocative wiggle, and the captain could feel his blood rushing to all the right places. He let his lower mind take over with the pleasurable activities, while the rest of him began to finally accept the fact that he'd fallen ridiculously, unmistakably, in love.