Disclaimer: Characters belong to various people that are not me.

Note: I'm aware that the newspaper that shows the team's wanted posters doesn't use the poster with them all morphed (at least not regularly), but I'm including it here.

The Scent of Roses in December
by Estirose
c 2011

The last thing Gai ever expects to wake up to was a rough knock on his door and a voice demanding breakfast. He quickly looks around his room, finding it unfamiliar and having no idea of where he is, much less what he is doing, other than obviously serving breakfast. He probably is a chef at somebody's estate. "Just a moment, Master," he says, looking around his room frantically for his uniform and trying to find it before he gets himself fired.

Gai hears a laugh from the man on the other side of the door, and then the man is walking away, from the sounds of it. Gai looks in the wardrobe, but there's no chef's outfit there, either. Plenty of decent shirts, t-shirts, pants, and bandanas, but no uniform. There's some kind of bulky cellphone-like device with an action figure of some kind beside it, a replica of some Ranger's device no doubt, but he doesn't recognize it. Beside it is some kind of goldish anchor on a chain, and he slips it on, hoping it will bring him luck. Dressing in his best clothes, he closes his door, not surprised that there's no lock.

There are other doors, some half-open, most rooms bigger than his. He walks down the hall, passing by a bathroom, and then there is a door at the end, opening into a staircase. He uses it, trying to figure out where he is.

The staircase ends in some kind of living room, with people scattered about. Some look at him for a moment before returning to what they're doing. "Good morning, Gai-san," a young woman in a pink dress says as she sips at some tea.

The room has portholes for windows, he notes absently. There's a door that seems to be a kitchen, and as he looks around, everything starts to make sense - he lives with a bunch of other people, and it was his turn to make breakfast.

No wonder the guy was laughing! It doesn't explain why nobody bothers to close their doors, but it does explain that, at least.

He heads into the kitchen, noting how small it is as he starts to put something resembling breakfast together. There's a book there not in his handwriting that details the morning's breakfast, so he follows it, and after a while, manages to put it together. The girl in pink comes in to help serve, and soon they're all sitting down at the table.

A girl in yellow passes the guy next to him - a tall, slim man with a long ponytail - a copy of a paper. He looks at it briefly and hands it to Gai.

Gai can't read most of it, but he glances through it, only stopping at the wanted posters. The one that catches his eye is the one of what has to be a Sentai team, with a pirate theme. He goes through the pictures, spotting each of the people at the table with him.

The last picture is him. He has no idea what currency the bounty's in, but he really doesn't care. Whoever put out the posters is obviously the enemy of this group, the bad guys. He had to have joined this group willingly, knowing full well that they had a pirate theme. It wouldn't have been his first choice, but if he was called, he was called, and at least these had to be the good guys, right? There were evil teams, but they were rare, and these people didn't feel evil.

He has to wonder how he was chosen, but he's so glad he was, finally. Even if he doesn't remember anything about them at all.

Maybe today will be a quiet day, with no bad guys. He hopes so. While he knows how to fight, he has no clue as to what weapon he uses. At least now the thing on his dresser makes sense - he should get it once breakfast's over, just in case.

He studies the black-and-white pictures. The man at the head of the table is, given his name, the captain of the team, Marvelous. He's the one that woke Gai up when he asked for breakfast, the one with the highest bounty. He seems to be a happy, enthusiastic sort, from what Gai can tell, and Gai isn't complaining that he got a nice guy for a captain and Red, even if Marvelous is awfully fond of his breakfast.

The man who handed Gai the paper is Joe Gibken, the one with the next-highest bounty. He'd been doing pushups when Gai had come downstairs, the serious warrior type that was always good on a sentai team. Gai hadn't seen him crack a smile yet, but maybe he would at some point in the day. Or maybe not. Some sentai members were grumpy, and as long as they protected peoples' smiles, that was okay.

Ahim de Famille is the girl that helped him with breakfast. Her picture makes her look as grumpy as Joe, but she seems sweet and nice and a girl that he'd totally like to go out with. He wonders if they're dating, or if they've put that aside to save the world. Or if he hasn't tried at all.

The other girl, Luka Millify, is the one who had brought the paper to the table. She'd been looking through some jewelry when he'd come to the table, which made her at least fit the theme of pirates where Ahim didn't. She seemed vivacious and laughing, fitting with Marvelous, and Gai thinks that it isn't so bad to be on a team with her.

Gai had seen Don Dogaiger, the only person with a lower bounty than his, working at some kind of podium. He's clearly a mechanic, from what Gai can tell, or ship's navigator. It all makes sense. This is a ship's crew, as odd as it sounds, and Gai is the cook.
Living together, fighting together. This was what Sentai teams do. He feels like screaming to the heavens that he's on a team, but he contents himself with a silly grin at just being there.

"Gai-san?" Ahim-san asks, and he looks over at her questioningly. "You're being very quiet."

"That's a bad thing?" Luka-san retorts.

Ahim-san is the heart of the team, obviously, the sweetheart of the bunch. He's obviously the morale guy, the loud one. Maybe he shouldn't restrain himself. "I'm just so glad to be part of this team!" he exclaims. Luka shoots Ahim a look, as if to ask why she had to ask. He bounces up, swirling around with hands to chest.

He wishes he remembered how he got here, on this team, but he's not going to complain. It occurs to him that he should tell them that he has amnesia - after all, that seems to happen to someone every couple of teams or so - but he doesn't ever recall the happy-go-lucky guy being the one hit over the head, or whatever happened to him. Besides, why make them worry?

Sure, there's probably one big gap in his memory - probably two to four years. But it doesn't bother him because he has his team around him, a Sentai team, and they'll be there for him even if they don't know what's going on. He himself needs to figure it out, because he's almost sure he was fourteen when he went to bed last night, and yet something in his brain didn't see fit to remind him of that until now, let him blindly assume he was an adult. He tries to recall how others got their memories back and utterly fails.

He returns to the table only to find his breakfast gone - or at least Marvelous-san is scraping it onto his own plate. Gai could point out that it may not be the healthiest thing, but he's too busy pouting. "Why?" he moans.

Nobody answers, but at least two of them look at him like he's the stupidest person in the world. After a moment, he realizes it has to be some team custom. Everyone on this team knows better than to leave the table during meals, apparently. Except for him, and at least he's the team cook. There are worse places to make awkward mistakes. He returns to the table, even though his food is gone. This is his team, and he'll stick by them, even if it means going hungry for a few minutes until he has an excuse to raid his own kitchen.

Given a little work, he can convince them that everything's all right, because the morale guy's job is to keep morale up, not get people worried, and Gai is sure they would be. Sentai teams might argue occasionally, but they're loyal to each other, most of the time.

As soon as breakfast is over, Gai hurries up the stairs for his own henshin device, because where would he be without it? Probably dead. He stares at the faces on the keys, runs his fingers over them, spotting five or six he doesn't know, and wishes he could remember. He bets that they were wonderful heroes too, he just wished he knew their names, what to call them.

Which makes him think. Most of the ones he recognizes are sixth Rangers - is he one too, a late addition to the team? It would make sense. He wonders how he got his device, what powers it has, how he even henshins with it, and whatever kept him from going into more of a panic when he first woke up isn't telling him anything on any of that.

He puts the device down, sitting down on his bed. He needs time to think. Hopefully nothing will attack while he's like this. On the other hand, maybe battle would get his memory back - isn't that what happened with somebody, somewhere?

There's a knock on his door, because of course he closed it when he went into his room. He wonders if he's adapted to leaving his door open in this place, because that's what everybody does. "Gai?" Ahim-san calls, and he hurries to open the door to let her in.

She's standing there, hands folded in front of her. "Are you all right, Gai-san?" she asks politely.

"Um. Yeah!" He's determined not to cause any problems. Ahim-san is still looking at him, still worried, but he'll find some way to make it up to her. It's very nice of her, anyway.

"Marvelous-san has decided to Treasure Navigate," Ahim-san says, and Gai wonders what that means, but he doesn't dare say anything to Ahim-san.

"Oh." Saying something is better than saying nothing.

Ahim-san is still looking at him. Obviously there's something having to do with this Treasure Navigation business that requires him being there, even just as a member of the crew.

"I'm going downstairs," Ahim-san says. Gai swears he sees a tightening of her folded hands. "I'll see you there."

Then she's out of there, leaving Gai still holding his device. He looks around his room, trying to make sure he leaves with everything obvious this time, and then heads in the direction of the living room area. He hopes that's where they're doing the "Treasure Navigate" thing, because he'll be lost otherwise and it's going to be obvious that something's wrong with him. However he - this future him, as far as he knows - normally acts, at least Ahim-san's picked up on something wrong.

Maybe it's best to confess after all, he thinks. His amnesia probably wasn't his fault, whatever happened, and he doesn't want them to think that something worse has happened to him. He reassures himself that they won't think less of him and that he can considering keeping people cheery even if they know he's been knocked on the head or something like that.

The others are all gathered in the living room, obviously waiting for him. He gives them his best smile and apologizes for his lateness. He swears that Marvelous-san is looking at him measuringly for a moment before he turns to some kind of robot bird and commands it to Treasure Navigate.

After a protest it does, knocking itself around the room before colliding with a ceiling. "An empty armory is in your path," it says, fluttering its wings helplessly on the floor.

The rest of the team is now looking at him. Staring at him expectantly, really. Apparently that's why Ahim-san summoned him, because he's apparently the one that deciphers the riddles the robot bird gives them. Except he has no clue on what it might be.

"Um. I don't know," he answers. Luka-san groans, and Joe-san turns away, and he feels embarrassed. Don-san and Ahim-san are more charitable, or at least bland, and Marvelous-san is still watching him as if he'll come up with an answer any minute. "In fact, I don't know who any of you are or how I got here."

He feels some relief as the truth comes out. There's still a niggling doubt that these are the bad guys, but he hopes not.

Marvelous-san looks at Ahim-san, and then back at Gai. "Can you fight?"

"Yes." That's important on a Sentai team, he knows. "I don't know how to henshin, but...." They can probably tell him that part.

"Check him over," Marvelous-san says in Joe-san's general direction. "Ahim, Doc, get him up to date. If he's fit, we'll take him with us."

He wants to protest that he can really fight, but there are things that he realizes that he might not know. He still pouts a little, because it would be so neat to fight with his team, if the'd let him.

"What about Gold Mode?" Don-san asks. It sounds like some kind of super mode, and he guesses from the man's expression that it's probably his super mode. Don-san is running a hand through his curls, as if in distress, but Marvelous doesn't seem to care. "If he doesn't remember all the teams...."

Apparently he has a very businesslike captain, he notices, as Marvelous-san seems unconcerned about the missing mode. He can live with that. Probably his super mode isn't that super.

"Gai," Ahim-san says, "What do you remember last?"

"Um," he responds, trying to be intelligent. "I went to bed. I don't know today's date, but it was November 28th, 2004, at least that's what I remember." He doesn't know if his teammates would think to ask, so it was a good idea to tell them.

Don-san looks at Ahim-san, then the others. "Isn't it 2011 on Earth?" he asks, and Gai feels something drop in his stomach. Seven years? He'd figured two our four, but seven? He'd be twenty-one, an adult, but still!

"I believe so," Ahim-san answers.

Luka-san has crossed over to him, examining him with her eyes. There's concern in them, and it gives him hope that these are the good guys. "Well, we'll have to do the best we can."

*  *  *

"Make sure he doesn't wander off," Marvelous-san says not-so-softly to someone. He wonders why, and then remembers that these are pirates, or at least pirate-themed, and maybe they aren't as good as the average Sentai team. Or maybe he's concerned about Gai. Gai would be careful about any teammate that has amnesia, after all.
 
"Sit down," Joe-san tells him, and Gai obediently sits down where Joe-san indicates. Someone - he's sure it's Joe - checks his head for lumps.
 
"Maybe it was that last Zangyack?" somebody suggests. It sounds like Don-san. "But we destroyed him…."
 
"That usually fixes things," Gai says, wanting to be useful as possible, no matter how much of his memory's missing. He wonders how much of the world has changed in the last seven years. There have to have been more teams too! At least as is evident by the buttons on his device.
 
"Didn't have anything to do with memories," Marvelous-san says, as Joe-san's fingers run across a lump Gai hadn't realized was there.
 
"But Gai-san was alone for a while before we arrived," Ahim-san points out, and Gai has a sinking feeling there's more going on than the lump on his head.
 
"Maybe they did something to me!" he says, jumping up. Joe-san pushes him back down, and he lets him, because no matter what, there's something wrong with him. Still, he refuses to be anything less than enthusiastic, because he feels he has to.
 
And usually when Rangers have amnesia, they return to normal, after all. They're not programmed to be evil and given amnesia, as far as he knows. So he's pretty sure he's not going to be a bad guy or turn against his teammates.
 
Which means all he really has to do is regain what happened in the last few years. And especially since he joined the team. Once he remembers, everything else will be all right.
 
He really wants to get up and pace, but he's already been pushed down once. It's obvious that Joe will let him up sooner or later, so he forces himself to wait. It's hard, but he tries to cut the urge by wiggling his feet while Joe checks to see if there are any other bumps. Ahim-san is coming over with a first-aid kit, and Joe gets up, leaving it to her, as if some prior arrangement.
 
Maybe this is normal for this crew, this team, and he just doesn't know it.
 
He has to admit that he's getting excited despite everything. He has a team! He has people around him that are presumably dedicated to justice and fighting the bad guys. Heck, they're probably on a ship of some kind. He should check out the window when he gets a chance.
 
It's Ahim-san's fingers on his scalp now, finding the lump and applying stuff to it. Once she seems to be satisfied, he's finally let go of, jumping up because he can. "We're going to have to just look for armories," Marvelous-san says with a sigh, regarding Gai with what seems like some disappointment.
 
Don-san sits down by where he's standing. "So, um, what can you tell me? I want to know everything!" Gai tells them, pointing his finger in the air in emphasis.
 
"We'll tell you," Ahim-san says gently, "If you stay down, Gai-san. You're injured." She must know him well, he muses. He still feels like pacing, but he's a sixth; they probably know better than he does. His feet are still twitching, and he wonders if he remembered to tell his aunt. Probably did, but he should ask her when he gets a chance.
 
"Did you find me?" Gai wants to know. It seems to be the best place to start. He probably came to them, he probably would, but it would be more exciting if they came to him. That would show how much they wanted a sixth.
 
"You found us, Gai-san," Ahim-san says. "We didn't even know you were meant to be on our team, at first...."
 
As she trailed off, Don speaks up. "You were really annoying."
 
"I was?" He can't imagine how he could be annoying. Sure, he gets excited about things, sometimes, but that doesn't make him annoying!
 
"But then you transformed in front of us, Gai-san." Ahim-san continues as if Don-san hadn't said anything. "Navi had given us a clue, but we didn't realize that you were the answer until then. However, it took us a few days to accept you. Marvelous-san wasn't sure if you knew what dangers you were getting into by declaring your opposition to the Zangyack Empire. He didn't want to endanger your life if he could avoid it. None of us wanted you injured or killed…."
 
Well, that's reassuring. These people seem like the good guys more and more, despite the pirate theme. He grins. "Really? How'd I join up, then?"
 
"By getting yourself beat up," Luka-san tells him. "And declaring that you were going to destroy the Zangyack Empire."
 
"Oh." Well, he'd never planned to do something like that, but maybe he'd found he needed to. Maybe he was defending innocents just like any other Sentai member. That made sense!
 
Luka-san sits down nearby, putting a leg across Gai's feet as if to still them. He wants to glare, but he reminds himself that he is probably the morale guy on the team. Glaring won't do. Ahim is speaking again anyway. "The Zangyack Empire rules the galaxy," she explains.
 
That explains things. A lot of things, really. There's an evil empire, and this team is stopping them. "And we're pirates." Pirates against an evil empire. Assuming he's guessed right, which he thinks he has.
 
"Yes. Marvelous-san has been looking for the Greatest Treasure for years," Ahim-san says. "We think we've found it, here on Earth."
 
"The Zangyack Empire got in our way," Marvelous-san says.
 
"…Oh." He feels his face fall. He knows that he should keep smiling, but still. How could the team he'd always dreamed of having end up defending Earth because the bad guys were in the wrong place at the wrong time? "But defending the planet...."
 
Marvelous-san shrugs. "I'm not going to let them get to it first. And I'll do whatever I have to do to stop them."
 
"Marvelous-san, you remember how it was when Gai-san joined," Ahim-san says, a little bit more sharply than usual. A warning, of sorts.
 
The captain rolls his eyes, in a way indicating that he remembers that time very well. The gesture leaves chills rolling up Gai's spine, and it's all that he can do to suppress a shiver.
 
These people, he realizes, are treating him well because he's their teammate. They're not good guys at all, it's just that the other side is worse. He must have been full of idealism when he joined them, sure that he could turn them around and make them into good guys.
 
He remembers something about a frog in water; when the water temperature is gradually raised, the frog doesn't know to hop out.
 
And apparently, neither does – did – he. But he'll fix that. He's not stupid, no matter what these people must think. Marvelous might put someone on him – though mostly because they do seem to be loyal to their own, and he is their own – but he likely knows the world better than they do. Loyal as they are, they'd never suspect that he'd leave on purpose, instead of in a confused haze.
 
"In the meantime, what do we do about whatever Navi predicted this time?" Lukasan asks.
 
"Maybe we should try Gai's books," Don says, and Gai looks at him in confusion as he gets up and comes back with a series of books with Gai's handwriting on them, listing various sentai teams. Gai's heart drops more as he realizes that he probably put them together for them. "Maybe that will lead us to a team."
 
"And then we can get their Great Power," Luka replies, her eyes lighting up.
 
What has he gotten himself into? Whatever is going on, it's obvious that he's betrayed his homeworld. They must want to know about the teams for some evil reason.
 
"Gai-san, are you all right?" Ahim-san asks. "I can make you some tea...."
 
She's looking at him in concern. It's obvious that she cares for him; she seems like a nice person, for a member of a semi-evil Sentai team.
 
"That would be good," he says, more to keep her occupied than anything else. "I guess whatever happened hit me harder than I thought."
 
Ahim-san gives him a smile, and gets up towards the galley. Gai watches her, hoping that he can figure out how to get the hell out of there.

Gai has to admit that he doesn't know what to do, other than wait for Ahim-san to get some tea for him. It's obvious that he has a better chance to get away if they go off, especially if they go off in a group, as Sentai teams are wont to do. He hopes against hope that he's wrong, that these are good people and he's just overlooking things or if Marvelous-san just has a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
 
He'll definitely have to see his Aunt. She's the one who talks about the teams with him, and she would be able to tell him what he's gotten himself into. She's sometimes blunt, too, and she's always cautioned him to be reasonable about becoming a Sentai member, so she's probably the best one to talk to. Of course, she probably is worried; she's been a worrier all his life, though he tries to show her that everything's okay.
 
Except this time, things really aren't okay.
 
He hopes that they don't start halfway across the city. It'll be hard getting to her house as it is, having to sneak away from his teammates. Who, as he reminds himself, know that he's got amnesia. Even though it's given him some insight, needed insight, it meant that his teammates would be watching him. He hasn't sensed that they're suspicious of him, so it's probably concern. Which is kind of funny, given that they're apparently the bad guys. One set, anyway.
 
But bad guys can be loyal to each other, can't they? Or at least the grey ones can. Maybe there was something he saw in them, before. Which didn't meant that they were the good guys, just that there was something there. He still has to betray them to save his planet, though. No matter how much he was friends with these people, that has to go now. He doesn't have time to reflect, not if he can stop them. He'd like nothing better than to have time to figure things out, but if they're trying to find Sentai teams, he has to find a way to stop them. The Dekarangers are probably his best choice if he hasn't got time to find his Aunt, but he's not sure how to get in touch with them if the team lands in the wrong part of town.
 
Wait a minute! They're expecting him to betray a Sentai team. The Dekarangers would be a perfect choice, they'd surely arrest the team when they found out what was going on. They outnumber this team, once they henshin, everything would be all right.
 
"You just thought of something," Marvelous-san says. He's sitting in the chair in the middle of the room that was probably his, next to the treasure chest of… Gai isn't sure of what.
 
"Dekarangers!" Gai exclaims. He doesn't have to fake his excitement.
 
"We got their power before you came on," Joe-san says from across the room.
 
"Oh." Maybe it won't be so simple, and maybe he is underestimating the people around him. "We did?" If he can find out how they defeated the Dekarangers, he'll know how to deal with them. Maybe.
 
"He," Luka-san said, an elbow in Marvelous-san's direction, "Decided to visit a police station, got himself arrested, and convinced the guy in charge that we deserved their Great Power."
 
Wait, they talked their way into that, but what did they need with Sentai teams, anyway, and what are Great Powers? Which was the very next question he asks.
 
"To find the Greatest Treasure in the Universe, of course," Marvelous says with some annoyance, though at the last moment he relents a bit, as if remembering Gai has a seven-year gap in his memory.
 
It doesn't answer his question, but he might not be able to get much out of the man, he realizes. He'll have better luck conniving the answers out of Ahim-san and Don-san. They'll probably tell him everything, because they seem like they're that kind of people.
 
People that part of Gai says he should be helping, not trying to figure out how to betray.
 
"Here, Gai," Don-san says, "I'll get you your list of the teams we have met."
 
Gai wants to hide in embarrassment. But this is a delicate situation; if he isn't careful, they might get suspicious. He doesn't want to find out what a pirate crew does to traitors. And even if they just think it's the amnesia, there's always the possibility that they'll decide he is a liability to them out in the field. They don't seem the type to punish failure with death, at least.
 
Instead, he tries to keep his cool and waits for the tea and the list. The tea comes first, hot and strong, the familiar tea relaxing him as Don-san brandishes a list at him. He scans it, trying to think of which team would be best to 'betray', and how to use his knowledge of the area against the team, or at least get him close enough to his aunt's. If they're not fans like he is, which seems to be the case, they won't know he's leading them astray.
 
"Empty Armory…" he muses."I'm wondering if that's Maskman? They fought with weapons, but their team specialty was martial arts…."
 
He hopes they won't detect the lie. Because he isn't sure what he would do if they reject that as a lead.
 
"Where do we find them?" Marvelous-san asks, leaning forward with a manic grin on his face.
 
"Um… they were active before I was born, but I remember that their headquarters was near where my aunt lived!" There is a risk in mentioning his aunt, but if he'd always been the eager Sentai expert, he doubts they'd think of it anything other than a landmark.
 
"How many aunts do you have?" Don-san wants to know, exchanging a worried glance with Ahim-san.
 
"Just the one." He studies their faces. "Why?" Have they met his aunt before? If they had, and the way they were reacting… it doesn't bode well for the team.
 
"I know where that is, then," Don-san says, getting up. "Hopefully it's not too far."
 
"Gai-san's aunt is very protective," Ahim-san adds, sipping at her own cup of tea.
 
There's a snort from Marvelous-san. "You mean she tried to take him from us."
 
Ahim-san just looks up at him placidly, with the expression of one that can easily take someone out without a sweat. "I doubt she's going to try that again, Marvelous-san. Not after what happened."
 
"And if she does," Luka-san says, coming over and sitting next to Ahim-san, "We'll stop her."
 
"We can protect Gai-san." Ahim-san's words are absolute, and she looks at him in a protective way, but it's hard for Gai not to shiver.
 
There is something in there that Gai's missing, but he has a sinking feeling that he knows what happened. His aunt had tried to get him off of this team to safety, and his teammates had dragged him back into the fold. He wonders how much of this is natural teammate concern, and how much of it is a few of betrayal.
 
He wonders if there is any way to save himself, or if he's going to become a martyr.
 
Marvelous-san looks like he'd much rather confine Gai to base, and Gai mentally gears up to protest. But he looks away, towards a convenient wall. Still, Gai figures it's a good idea to seem like he's part of the team as much as possible, so he gets up. "I know I can't remember some things, Marvelous-san, but I'm a part of this team. And I'm okay. Apart from not remembering things, anyway…."
 
The man looks at him again, and nods, as if trusting him to know his own condition.
 
That successful, he knows there are still things that he needs to know. How these people operate, how they're getting these powers, even how to use his own device. He can't defend himself untransformed against transformed villains, so he should find out how to transform.
 
He asks Ahim-san about the transformation bit, because she and he seem to get along.
 
"Here, Gai-san," she says, and he watches as she takes the action figure, puts it in the device. "And you press this," she says, indicating a button at the top of the keypad.
 
Gai wonders suddenly if he has a mecha of his own.
 
But he doesn't have time to ponder that Ahim-san is taking him over to the chest next to Marvelous-san, opening it. "And you can use the Key Road to use these, too," Ahim-san is saying, and Gai's heart drops as he realizes that they're figures like his, of past Rangers.
 
How badly has he betrayed his people? How many of these did he help get? He digs in to the figures in the chest, and nobody stops him. He pulls a figure from the chest, trying not to breathe heavily or give these people any sign that he regrets helping them.
 
The figure is KibaRanger, and he realizes that he can't hold it, his hand is trembling so much. He picks is up, returning it to the chest, and is preternaturally aware that Marvelous-san is watching him, judging him.
 
Gai can only hope he doesn't screw this up.

The amazing thing is that Marvelous-san still lets him go with them. Gai has to admit that it's kind of exciting, holding onto a rope for dear life as the team makes its way down. It's more amazing once he drops to the ground and looks up to see a red ship of some kind, their base, the place where he obviously lives.

His heart skips a beat as he realizes what he's going to do, and he tries not to cry, feeling the tears welling out. This is his team; despite his determination to save his world from these people, it seems so wrong to betray a team he's obviously part of. Can he even do it?

Maybe he can't. Maybe he's doomed to spend the rest of his life with his teammates because he no longer has a world, repenting of what he did to his own people.

"Are you all right, Gai-san?" Ahim-san asks.

"I still can't believe I got on a Sentai team," Gai says. It covers his tears neatly, he thinks.

He can't give them too many hints, because what would they do if they found out he was betraying them? Death by former teammates seems to be a particularly nasty and painful way to die.

Somebody is saying something softly to someone else, the bass rumble meaning it's one of the guys. He knows a twitch could mean death. Maybe he's condemned already, but they're waiting to kill him.

He forces himself to square his shoulders as Marvelous-san walks off, the others following, looking for the team that isn't there because of Gai's lie. Gai hopes that he's wrong, that these are the good guys, he's just read everything wrong because they're pirates.

But first he has to get away from them. The best way is to drop away, let them go ahead. He's not sure how well that will work, as injured as he is and as concerned as they are, but he has to try. It's easier to slip away in a group; it'll be harder if they pair up.

Funny how he never thought he'd be running away from his own team; he always assumed he'd be running towards. There's precedent for teammates turning against their team, but it's always brainwashing or clever plans, not because their team needed to be stopped. Gai feels weird knowing that his teammates will be out to stop him, once he gets away. With luck, they think he's been brainwashed.

Which makes him pause. What if he has?

What if he is doing this completely the wrong way, if he's been programmed to betray his teammates and the amnesia was a good way to keep him from knowing that they were really good guys? There was that possibility, after all. The best evil spells tend to be subtle.

There's only one thing to do, which is get away and see his aunt before he follows through with the rest of his plan. Hopefully the bad guys don't know to go after his aunt and so he can trust her.

He waits until everybody's busy looking for the team that isn't there before he slows down deliberately, hoping that they won't notice he's gone. He's ready to fall further behind when someone catches his elbow, and he looks over. He's only somewhat surprised to see that it's Joe-san, the team's Solemn Warrior, and Gai realizes that he's probably been watching for something like this. He gives Joe a grin and lets him haul him back to the rest of the group, though nothing is said.

But from the look in Joe-san's direction by Marvelous-san, they know very well that something's wrong with him. He suddenly hopes that he is wrong about them being bad, that he is under an evil spell, because that would make things easier. All that has to happen is that he has to see the light, and they'll provide that light. Or at least shake him violently a lot.

Of course, he'd much rather talk to his aunt. She might not have always approved of his interest in Sentai teams, but she's always good at the analytical stuff. She'll know if things are right or wrong.

So, try number two. Make sure both Marvelous-san and Joe-san are distracted, somehow. Well, make sure his whole team is distracted, but those are the two paying the most attention to him. He's sure that if the team splits up, he'll be paired with one or both of them; it would make sense. That's what one should do when one's teammate is acting weird.

He still has to get away.

It's almost a relief when Marvelous-san decides to split up into teams of two after roaming around and not finding anything. He's also not surprised to find out that Marvelous-san chooses Gai to pair up with him. Gai isn't sure how well he can get away, but it's hopefully easier now that he only has one person to outrun instead of five. Admittedly, it's Marvelous-san, who he presumes is the team's Red, based on his clothing and the fact that he's the leader. There are some teams that have a leader that isn't Red, but they're in the minority, and Gai can say with confidence that whatever color Marvelous-san is, that he's the head of their team.

"Do I normally get paired up with you, Marvelous-san?" he asks, hoping that he'll get another clue as to how things normally are. He's not sure how to tell Marvelous-san that he might be enspelled or something like that, without giving anything away to the bad guys. If there is something deliberately wrong with him, it's better that they do know, and while Marvelous-san probably does, he probably doesn't know what.

"Depends," is Marvelous-san's short answer, though he manages to give Gai a half-grin. He seems to be waiting for something almost, something from Gai.

"I'm the one that usually figures these things out," Gai says, half to himself. "I should be able to figure this out. Something's wrong." He hopes that Marvelous-san catches the clue. It's painful to admit that he can't be trusted, but just in case, he should warn him.

And if he's wrong? If he gets to his Aunt and she tells him that these are evil people? Well, best to keep them on their toes. Maybe they'll think that he's just gone mad - someone to be pitied, perhaps, but not a betrayer like he feels like he's being. He really wants to live, not be killed by pissed-off ex-teammates.

He takes advantage of knowing the area, slipping away from Marvelous-san when he's distracted and they're at a park. He hears yelling behind him, Marvelous-san calling his name, but he hurries off, trying not to seem too conspicuous. A turn here, a bend there, hiding when Marvelous-san comes too close for comfort, a few final turns and he's reached his Aunt's.

To his relief, she's in her yard, doing her gardening. She's frowning, though if it's at a weed or something else that's bothering her he doesn't know. "Aunt!" he calls, waving at her.

She looks up, and on her face is a look of terror.

TBC....

Gokaiger fics