Secrets of the Chambers

Cabin Fever

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Written by: Lady in Red

Stripped Of Sanity

“Hey guys,” Trini called as she emerged out of the undergrowth, Tommy trailing closely behind her. She had insisted on leading the way back, determined to try and prove Tommy’s lie to the others in case she was ever cornered into proving it at a later date. Wasn’t going to look for either of them if she took a walk out to the lake with Zack or Kim or someone and she got totally lost now, would it?

“Hey T,” Zack called across in response, “You ready to go in there and see if Kim’s somehow managed to let Jason bleed to death after that cut?”

Sighing at her friends slightly strange sense of humour Trini felt Tommy stiffen somewhat, even if just slightly, behind her at the sound of Jason’s name being mentioned. Or was it at Kim’s? She couldn’t be quite sure but it was at one of them and after that heartfelt confession she had just listened to she would bet her morpher and power coin on it being Jason’s.

Realising none of the lads were going to have the guts to go in first she started to make her way across to the door. Spineless bunch; they can kick a golden ape’s ass any day of the week but ask them to even possibly get slightly on the wrong side of Kim and they act like a bunch of pathetic two year olds scared about the monster under their bed. Probably a wise decision actually. Kim was, after all, known for her ability to fly off the handle and hand even Jason his own ass on a plate if she really got worked up. Trini on the other hand could do that without the aid of getting angry but chose not to – unless she was sparring of course, then she would give as good as she got, and then some!

The door to the cabin creaked loudly as Trini pushed it open and cautiously strode into the room. A silent sigh rested on her lips as she saw Jason and Kim sprawled out on the floor a deck of cards between them. She couldn’t quite make our what they were playing from here but new it wouldn’t be anything serious – they saved the real card games for when they all played.

“Go fish,” Drawled Jason as he looked over his shoulder as he heard the door creak. Trini strode into the room allowing the others to follow her in, if she wasn’t very much mistaken she was sure she saw Jason’s relaxed smile widen as his gaze rested upon Tommy. Then again, maybe she was seeing things now she had all these little ideas running around in her head. She was starting to realise how much that must be annoying Jason, to have all those suggestions running around his head,now.

Sighing slightly Kimberly tossed her cards down lethargicallyas the group slumped down on to the sofas around them. It was pointless continuing now as neither of their minds would be on the game, even if it wasn’t the most mentally strenuous or stimulating of card games. At least now they were all here they could play a decent game. Plus, maybe find out what went on between Trini and Tommy down at the lake. That had been eating away at Kim all night, not knowing what was happening between her best friend and her crush was eating away at the inside of her. She knew Trini would never do anything to hurt Kim – like kiss Tommy – and she was pretty sure Trini liked Billy anyway, so she didn’t really have anything to worry about on that front. She was more anxious to know what was said and to find out if Tommy had confided in Trini his love for Kim or something elseinteresting along those lines. She knew she couldn’t come right out and ask Trini as that would be cruel and would put her in an awfully awkward position – how could she ask her best friend to basically betray another friend’s trust? It just wouldn’t be fair. No, instead she would just have to wait until it all came out into the open, however long that would be.

“You guys fancy a real card game?” Jason asked raising an eyebrow to the others as he rolled over onto his back.

His shirt had ridden up slightly to reveal his slightly tanned, well-toned stomach. Tommy did his best to keep his eyes away from his friend. He wasn’t going to let himself get all hot under the collar when he still couldn’t decide on his feelings for the Red Ranger. Okay, he had just taken a big step in admitting to Trini - and himself while he was at it - that he was gay but that didn’t mean he liked Jason. Did it? Nah, course not. Jason was just his friend, okay yeah he did think he was gorgeous and he did keep sneaking glances at him whenever he got the chance but that didn’t mean anything. Stop lying to yourself Tom, you’ll never believe it, you even wished to see him without his shirt the other day so there is no use in denying it, Tommy mused to himself staring off into space just to keep his roving eyes off Jason’s form.

“Tommy, Tommy.”

“Huh?” Oh great Jason is now stood, well, is now keeling up in front of me clicking his fingers in my face. Really shouldn’t drift off into day dreams like that, especially not if they are going to get so rudely interrupted. Mind, considering the focal point of my day dream is the one snapping me out of it I can’t really complain. Right now might be an awfully good time to engage my mouth – and my brain for a change – and say something to show I haven’t somehow slipped into a coma whilst they weren’t looking.

“Sorry Bro, just drifted off there for a second. What were you saying?” Yep I’m good. I’ll bounce straight back from anything, no worries.

“You any good at poker?” He didn’t just say poker, did he? These guys can’t play poker! They are straight laced, suburban kids who fight evil super villains on the weekends and still get their homework in on time and their butts to first period everyday. They are not poker players.

“Poker?” Tommy seemed to gawp like a fish for a moment as his jaw just dropped slightly at the question.

“If you can’t we can play something else, or we’ll teach you quickly,” Jason’s voice was kind but laced slightly with surprise, he had been sure Tommy would be able to play the game being an LA city boy who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and all that. Just showed that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover.

“What? No, it’s not that I can’t play I just can’t believe you guys can play,” Tommy didn’t mean for his voice to come out so cruel and accusing there but somehow it must have as the indignant looks which spread across the groups faces was certainly not one which could be mixed up with pleasure. Jason raised an accusing eye brow as if daring Tommy to explain himself, “I didn’t mean it like that but you guys are just, you guys. You come from sweet, suburban families with white picket fences and a dog running around in the back yard. Not typical poker playing types. Before you say it, yes I shouldn’t stereotype, especially not after what I’ve seen you lot do in your “spare time,” He scratched quotation marks in the air for emphasis, “But I am still kind of shocked by the poker. I’m guessing you guys don’t play for money. Or play strip which is what I use to play back in LA - never had the cash to play for, well, cash.”

“You played strip poker?” Zack asked rather incredulously, they had played strip once before for a bit of fun but they had all been sure that Tommy would have been in it for the hard stuff – money in other words.

As Tommy gave a slight nod Jason sat back on his heals and pondered what would become of this startling revelation. Okay, it wasn’t that big a deal but everyone is allowed to exaggerate now and then. Jason could tell straight off that no good would come of this, he had to say something before Kim got the chance. If allowed to let her mouth run away with itself before her brain managed to process what she was saying they could all end up in some rather compromising situations to say the least. Right, got to think of a way to…

“Why don’t we have a game now?”

… too late. Why do I even bother sometimes, Jason asked himself before mentally shaking his head. He didn’t appear to be the only one rather apprehensive with this situation. Trini didn’t look exactly ecstatic and neither did Billy or Zack, Tommy was looking rather edgy too for that matter. Surely they wouldn’t let this go ahead. Someone will speak out and say they don’t think it’s a good idea. I’ll just wait and see what happens. Okay… waiting…. Waiting… waiting… Hmm, think I might have to say something myself here, typical always leave it for the leader to have to get everything done. I thought this was supposed to be a break from being a Ranger, therefore a break from being in charge, being responsible and from making all the decisions.

“Yeah, why not?” Damn Zack and his need for being the over exuberant one that is always game for anything. I’ll strangle him one of these days, or at least help him gain a rather intimate acquaintance with that lake. This means in about five seconds Trini and Billy will cave and follow suit. 5…4…3…2…1…

“Sure, I’m game,” They chorus simultaneously dead on time. Next the mighty will fall and Tommy will cave in to the idea which means I can either head to my room and opt out, making a bit of a spectacle of myself, or I can stay and play. It’s not like they haven’t seen all of it today at the lake anyway. Besides, I beat these guys every time so unless Tommy really is as skilled as he is making out to be I should be able to save my modesty… well what is left of it.

“I’m in, what about you Jase?” Oh great, don’t give me that look. Please, not that half puppy dog pleading, half brooding hot rocker look. I don’t think I can stand that right now. Not when I know how much of a shambles this if going to be.

“Fine, you’ve twisted my arm, I’m in.” Jason mentally shook himself. Why, oh, why am I doing this to myself?

(10 minutes and many added layers of clothing later…)

“Ready?” Jason asked, shuffling the deck with a slight, easy flick of the wrist. He had been playing cards since he was old enough to count so this was natural to him. Actually if what his dad had said was true, it was by playing cards he first learnt to count. His family wasn’t a gambling family; they had just accumulated this family tradition of playing cards together for quality time. Apparently it originated way back when one of his great-great, add in a few dozen more greats, grandfathers came across on a ship and they couldn’t afford any form of entertainment so they played cards. Jason, however, thought it was more to do with dad playing it so often with his mates down the station his Mom decided to get in on the game too. Either way he had taught his friends to play at an early age and they soon moved up the ranks and by the age of fourteen were playing poker to a high standard.

The group nodded and watched as he dealt out the deck face down to each of them. They were crammed into the relatively small living room. Kim and Trini were squashed together on one couch; Kim seemed to have drained slightly in colour upon realising what she had suggested. Yep, that’ll teach her to be the over perky cheerleader type. Billy and Zack were on the other couch both sprawled out facing slightly inwards towards each other so their cards would be hidden from the others view. That left Tommy and Jason sprawled out on the floor on the other two sides of the coffee table. Tommy had his back facing against the windowed, side wall of the cabin whilst Jason had to be careful not to set his shirt on fire as he had positioned himself quite comfortably in front of the open fire. The night was drawing in and it was getting rather cold up in the wooded area of the mountains so he had certainly gotten the best deal out of the group.

Everyone shuffled around slightly as they picked up their cards from the coffee table and began to shuffle around their hand, desperately attempting to rearrange them into some form of winning hand. Rules of the game, their slightly varied version to make it fair, were that no-one could fold and that everyone had to stay in. You could discard and pick up only once and by the end of that time who ever had the lowest hand had to remove one piece of clothing. With their varied rules it meant no-one could just keep folding to keep their clothes on. This way everyone had just as much of an equal chance as any of the others.

Jason looked to his left and his eyes met with Tommy’s for a brief second before Tommy’s eyes darted back down to his cards.

“We start with the player left of the dealer so Tommy, you’re up.” Jason kept his gaze fixed upon the boy in green as he cast a scrupulous look over his cards.

“I’ll take two” Jason passed Tommy two cards in return for the two he discarded.

As Tommy rearranged his cards once more Jason continued around the group, some discarding some sticking, until he got to himself. As soon as the round was done they each looked at each other with apprehension. This round would be the most serious as who ever lost now certainly didn’t have the upper hand for later on. After the first person had lost a clothing item they would all loosen up and relax a bit but at the moment their modesty was still creating a barrier. Slowly they all placed their cards down and after having a good look round at everyone’s Trini and Tommy caught each other’s eye and laughed slightly. Both of them had absolutely nothing and were very glad of not being alone in being the first ones to strip off.

“So come on, get your kit of you two, you know the rules,” Kim teased giving Trini a slight shove in the side.

Relatively reluctantly, but still rather happily, the two seem to mutually agree without even speaking that they would go for a big piece of clothing and whilst Trini peels her top off over her head leaving he sitting in a vest top and the rest of her clothes Tommy shrugs off the open green flannel shirt he was wearing to reveal the tight, green wife beater he was wearing underneath.

(Many rounds and much embarrassment later…)

Only two of the six players still remained in the game and everyone had known straight away who that would be. They were obviously the best cards players out of the group and Trini was now beginning to believe that was simply because they had been able to count cards. Zack, Billy, Kim and Trini were all out and were now sat in just their underwear watching the climax to the eventful night of poker fun. It was part of their varied rules that once you were in your underwear you were out – they had all decided that this was best as they didn’t want to treat the others to the same kind of show Jason had earlier (He really wasn’t going to live that down for weeks to come even after the days rather eventful glass smash) – and that you had to stay in just your underwear until the game was complete finished and there was one definite winner.

Right now just Tommy and Jason remained, both down to just a pair of jeans apiece. Between looking at their cards both men snuck secret looks towards each other. To the others, bar Trini of course after her recent deductions, it appeared as if both men were tying to psyche each other out, rather than take the time to savour the view before them, though neither man would admit to that of course. Tommy let his eyes wandered secretly over Jason’s body as the others turned their attention to each other seeming to get board of waiting for this game to end. It hadn’t taken them long to carefully position the throws from the couch around them to hide their decency.

He had seen it before whilst they were changing but had never really felt confident enough to appreciate what he was seeing. Well toned muscles and rippling biceps which were all perfectly defined whilst not being over defining as to who Jason was. Tommy couldn’t quite believe he had had his wish of seeing Jason shirtless come true twice over now. Yeah, he had totally given up on denying his feelings for the rugged leader, it was just a pointless waste of time and effort – didn’t mean he was actually going to tell anyone else how he felt, especially not Jason. Didn’t mean he would stop enjoying the view any time soon though.

It was a shame that at that moment in time he didn’t realise what the boy before him was thinking in return. At that precise moment Jason’s thoughts couldn’t have been any more reflective of Tommy’s even if he had the ability to read the young man’s mind. (It was an ability they were both slowly forming with each other regardless but were both too blinded to see what was going on right in front of their faces.) As Tommy’s eyes kept a vigil on his cards for a moment, his mind trying to defy all logic and find some possible outcome from his hand, Jason took the opportunity to take in the defined body of the young man in front of him. He had also long given up on denying his feelings for the other boy, to himself at least, he would still deny it to all and sundry if they asked. He…

“Come on guys hurry it up, we’re freezing like this,” whined Kim shifting uncomfortably on the sofa keeping a tight grip on the blanket wrapped around her.

…would have to hold off any more thought about Tommy for now whilst the others were around, he didn’t want to accidentally let something slip if he drifted of into a day dream, plus the consequences of a day dream weren’t necessarily going to be good if he lost this hand.

“You should learn to play poker better then Kim. Or, better still, not run your mouth and decide on playing strip poker in the first place.”

As Kim huffed around for a second at Jason’s last remark Tommy couldn’t help but smile a little. He loved the way Jason could put anyone in their place without actually upsetting them or hurting their feelings. He just did it in a care-free way which oozed the consideration of an over-protective older brother and the humour of that weird guy from Friends whose name he could not remember because he only watched it when his mother forced him down onto the sofa with her. Chandelier, or something like that...

Sighing Tommy knew he had to do something with his cards and he had absolutely nothing worth while in his hand except a Queen. Deciding on one last ditch attempt to get anything at all he tossed in his other four cards in hope of at least getting a pair. As Jason handed him another four in return he had to use all his might not to yell or sigh. There was no chance he was getting out of this game still wearing his trousers, not with that hand anyway! Meanwhile Jason studied his own hand carefully; he himself had a mismatch or random cards and numbers none with any value apart from the king. Deciding to follow Tommy’s tactics of just throwing away everything apart from one card Jason tossed in his other four and replaced the with fresh cards from the deck. This was not good; oh this was so not good.

“What… what you got?” He asked rather apprehensively. He had already lost his trousers once today – he still wasn’t happy about it even if he could see the funny side – and he had a dreaded feeling in the pit of his stomach that it would be happening again in a few moments time.

Slowly Tommy laid out his cards and appeared to pale slightly as Jason let out a small chuckle before laying his own cards down. Both boys laughed at the disgruntled looks on their friends faces as a draw would mean another round which meant another ten minutes sat their in their underwear. Jason reached across and paced a rather warm hand on Tommy’s shoulder before leaning in close to whisper in his ear. His voice was quiet and hushed causing the other to cast a suspicious gaze over them, particularly when Jason pulled away and Tommy gave a slight, happy nod.

“Okay you guys can get dressed now,” Tommy told them leaning across Jason to reach for his wife beater that was on the bottom of the discarded clothes pile by the door. This took a little longer than he anticipated as it had gotten tangled up in the straps of Kim's camisole.

“You aren’t doing what I think you are doing are you?” Kim’s voice was so stern Tommy jumped back up and almost sent Jason tumbling into the fire.

“And what would that be?” He asked trying to regain his composure. The pint-sized pink princess scared the life out of him more than anyone else he had known but he wasn’t going to let that show at this precise moment in time.

Seeming to catch on to what was going on; Zack stood up and beckoned Billy out of the room with him for a moment. Had Kim not been giving Tommy and Jason one of her death glares – it was scary enough to rival Tommy’s Evil Green Ranger glare – they would have both been extremely suspicious of what they were up to.

“There is no way you are going to let this end on a draw when we have all sat here like this for the past half an hour!” Okay, now Trini was getting in on the act, this wasn’t going as well as they had hoped. Mind you Jason knew when he suggested it that it would cause a little bit of controversy, maybe he had almost intended it to, he would have been disappointed if it hadn’t.

“What’s the big deal? You guys get to get your clothes back on quicker and none of you have to endure the sight of us in boxers for the second time today. Or have you already forgotten the little Polaroid incident from the morning.” Jason knew the best way to handle this was to make it appear as if the situation worked out better for everyone all round and wasn’t just a way for he and Tommy to chicken out of having to strip off.

Trini let a slightly mischievous smile spread across her face momentarily as she looked over her shoulder and down the hall way. Zack was just one pranking genius and she was going to be thanking him for his evil sense of humour for days to come after this.

“Well if you guys aren’t going to strip off and stick to the rules we’ll just have to do it for them, won’t we Kim?” An indignant look playing on her face Trini stood with her hands on her hips for emphasis and looked down at the two lads lying on the ground before her.

Kim’s lips curved up into a mischievous grin as she slowly began to walk forwards to the two boys. Both immediately scrambled up and, half tripping over each other, began to run around the room with Kim and Trini hot on their heels. Jason jumped up and over one of the beat up old couches as Tommy ducked swiftly out of Kim’s reach around the other side. Stumbling and fumbling, half crawling, half running, the two men attempted a dash into their bedroom not caring about the clothes they had left scattered across the floor. In a dismal attempt to confuse the girls they had picked up and handful of clothing and thrown it at them, trying vainly to inhibit their sight and cause a momentary pause in their chase. It didn’t work. However, Trini and Zack’s subconsciously mutual plan had, indeed, worked. Jason rushed into the bedroom Tommy hot on his heels and locked the outwardly swinging door behind them. It had taken them all a while to get used to the fact that all the doors opened outwards in the cabin but after the first day it was becoming like second nature to them and not just as if someone had put the hinges on backwards.

“That was close,” Panted Jason, pulling across the door bolt which he had come across earlier.

“Tell me about it,” Replied Tommy shivering slightly, he had been sat by the open window all night and it was beginning to catch up on him, now so more than ever since the window in his and Jason’s room had conveniently been wedged open, “Think I might put on a shirt, it’s freezing in here. I didn’t think it got this cold in California.”

“Higher altitude,” Jason answered casually before looking around the room slightly perplexed by something out of place, “Tommy did you move our bags?”

“No they are right…” Tommy trailed off as his eyes met with the now empty spot which had once been occupied by their bags. Now that spot on the floor was not supposed to be vacant, he was sure of it. Suddenly it hit Tommy as to why Billy and Zack had crept out of the main room a few minutes before the girls’ tirade. He looked across to Jason who seemed to have come to the same conclusion as he had.

“They wouldn’t?” He asked mouth slightly a gape; he couldn’t quite believe the gang would be this cruel with their teasing. Especially not after today's events.

“They would,” Jason answered simply before turning round to try and open the door only to find it stuck fast, “And they get even worse. Come on guys, open the damn door!”

“Nuh-uh Jason Lee Scott, that door is staying locked for the next two hours and if you guys think you are getting your clothes back any time soon you are very much mistaken,” Trini’s voice was light and teasing but Jason and Tommy couldn’t help but be slightly annoyed, “We’ll let you out at eleven so thee are no “little accidents” but other than that you guys are going to find out what it feels like to freeze for the duration of a poker game!”

“If you are trying to think of any techniques to stay warm whilst you are in there just try and remember your training Jason, after all you were a boy scout for a few years.” Zack called through, having to get his voice heard as well.

Kim then added, giggling slightly at the insinuation Zack had made, “Oh, also, just so you know, we’ve locked all the other doors and windows so if you plan on climbing out of your one and trying to get in the front door don’t bother because it won’t work.”

Jason couldn’t help but have a little chuckle at that last bit as he turned around to see a disgruntled Tommy sitting half in, half out of the window. It looked like they were in for a long, cold night. Last night was fine as the window had been shut but when Jason opened it this morning, with a touch too much force, he had accidentally jammed it open. Sitting down on the bed he shivered slightly, suddenly he wasn’t feeling all that good. Well it wasn’t actually as suddenly as he would make out, he had been suppressing slightly ill feelings for the past hour but just put them down to being over heated due to sitting next to the fire.

“Hey Bro, you okay?” Tommy asked, genuinely worried as Jason seemed to pale from healthy to deathly white in a matter of seconds. He couldn’t quite believe how the others were acting, Trini especially. It was so out of character for her. He guessed that, once again, the jokes were going to get out of hand. He would really need to put a stop to this in the morning. They were supposed to be giving Jason a birthday to remember in a good sense, not one he would remember because he hated it so much and it was the birthday when he stopped speaking to all his friends!

Jason shook his head solemnly before climbing under the covers of the bed, “Too much time in the lake I think, icy cold water isn’t exactly the healthiest thing to be dunked in and then getting over heated and frozen again doesn’t seem to be making it any better.”

“You lie down and try and stay warm, I doubt they’ll believe if I say you are ill and extra clothes wont be much use to you anyway you wouldn’t be comfortable enough to sleep in them. Just try and sleep and you won't feel so bad. Once they finally let us out I’ll go hunt out some Tylenol or something.” Tommy didn’t want to sound over-protective as he knew that would really annoy Jason. He hated being looked after by anyone, but he also knew Jason wouldn’t mind too much as he knew that he would just be being a hypocrite if he complained. After all, Jason played big brother to everyone else and looked after them all the time, why couldn’t Tommy return the favour once in a while.

“I’m fine Tommy. Just a bit of a headache, it’ll pass soon enough, there is no need for you to worry about me,” Jason told him leaning back into the pillows and staring up at the ceiling.

“You are such a hypocrite, Jason!” Tommy countered, slightly peeved by the tone of Jason’s voice, “You spend you whole life looking after everyone else but you never let anyone look after you. You play big brother and leader to everyone else but who ever looks after you? You aren’t invincible Jase, you are just human, you can’t survive all this on your own. You can’t keep distancing yourself from everyone else, you listen to them and sort out their problems but who helps you sort out yours? You aren’t immune to emotion Jason; you are allowed to break down sometimes, to ask for help. You don’t have to keep this front up all time no matter how much you feel like you do. These people are your friends and have been since forever it seems. You guys have taught me so much about friendship and letting people close, don’t start going and throwing it all away Jason.”

Jason’s voice was small and tired as he replied before turning over onto his side facing away from Tommy, “You still don’t know me Tommy, not the way you would need to, to understand the front but let me tell you one thing. The only people in the world I let that front down around are those people outside that door, so if you think that just because the real me is part of the front, that makes the real me the complete front, then I am afraid you are very much mistaken.”

Tommy opened his mouth to fight back to what Jason had said but simply couldn’t find the words. Not to mention the fact he was slightly perplexed by what Jason had said. He knew there was something Jason had been hiding from him but then again, they were all hiding something from everyone, so he had just disregarded it as part of his imagination. After that little outburst, however, he knew that, that was not the case any more – Jason had something to tell him and he would tell him, in his own time. It just depended when that time came. Little did he know that Jason had already resolved a day to tell him and was now simply trying to figure out how to break the news he had to break.

It was a simple enough task it was yet filled with complexities but what did that mean; complex simplicity or simple complexity?

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