Here’s a DVD commentary for “Easier to Hide”, the second in the “Harder to be Brave” (Power Rangers RPM) storyline. ETA: Oops. For those coming here from Spandex Report or are otherwise new to my stuff, yes, there is suicidal ideation in here.
Easier to Hide
Dillon watched as Ziggy wolfed down dinner. His friend – the only person he’d consider calling friend, really – had been acting off since the previous night, but he’d put it down to everything happening in the previous few hours, Ziggy’s encounter with Tenaya Seven and bonding with his Morpher.
Of course, that had been before Doctor K had called him from where he’d been lying the roof to tell him that Ziggy had not only left the Garage, but he’d left without his morpher. Ziggy, who couldn’t fight to save his life.
I didn’t want to repeat too much of “Harder to be Brave”, but covering it briefly from Dillon’s POV made sense.
“Ranger Black,” Doctor K had said, “Ranger Green has departed the premises.”
He’d been alarmed, but he’d been ready to shrug it off as Ziggy just having so much happen to him so fast, like had happened with him. He probably had needed some time alone. That was, until Doctor K added, “And he has departed without his morpher or cell.”
Launching himself up, he started for the stairs. “Where was he going?”
This is something Ziggy totally doesn’t anticipate in his depressed state, that Dillon would be worried.
“I don’t know. I might be able to track him due to the temporary change in his biofield from becoming Ranger Green.” Doctor K was silent for a moment. “I have tracked his morpher, however, inside this building.”
“I’ll check his room,” Dillon volunteered, remembering after a moment that Ziggy had moved into Ranger Green’s quarters from the spare room only a few hours before. He stepped into the unfamiliar room, spotting the morpher and cell, twins to his own, sitting neatly on the desk.
It would have been a lot less alarming if Ziggy knew how to defend himself. He’d scooped the two into his jacket pockets before heading downstairs. “Did you find him?” he asked impatiently.
This could be a slight continuity error (in “Harder to be Brave”, Dillon tells Ziggy that Doctor K said to give him his morpher and cell back), but I figured that Dillon guessed (and correctly) that Doctor K said it indirectly.
“Ranger Black, it is a lot harder to track Ranger Operators when you are not wearing your morphers. I am still attempting to find him.”
It had seemed like forever until Doctor K had given him an approximate location, and still longer until he’d found Ziggy in the cafe. At least his friend had been safe, and quickly remorphered.
I assume this discussion included the “temporary flare in [his] biofield” that Dillon mentions to Ziggy in “Harder to be Brave”.
Ziggy’s lack of… well, Ziggyness… had disturbed him, but more than anybody else, he understood the desire to be alone with one’s thoughts. That, and the fact that Doctor K would probably do something drastic if Ziggy tried to leave again, with morpher on or not. So he’d left, despite his worry, because Ziggy could probably bounce back from anything, and he figured everybody had their off days.
This is the tail end of the overlap with “Harder to be Brave”, and my explanation as to why Dillon didn’t say much in that story.
But, as the day had gone on, the more Ziggy’s actions the previous night had disturbed him. Yeah, Ziggy had done some really stupid things, but going off without his morpher? He had an irrational but growing suspicion that Ziggy hadn’t left it off just to avoid Doctor K. Ziggy knew how vulnerable he was, and he was opportunistic enough to use the morpher if it gave him an advantage. To leave it so neatly on his desk didn’t seem right.
Of all the team, Dillon’s the one that knows Ziggy well enough to start putting things together.
So, when Ziggy had finished dinner, Dillon pulled him aside. “We’ve got to talk.”
“Hey, if it’s about last night…”
Dillon didn’t give Ziggy a chance to finish the sentence, because he’d probably try to weasel out of the talk. “We’ve got to talk,” he repeated. “Now, would you prefer just talking to me, or me and the rest of the team?”
“What’s this about?” Summer asked, apparently catching his last words.
Like Dillon, I hadn’t intended to have the whole team end up participating in this story. Summer stepped in and I suddenly realized I had to write three Rangers that I’d barely written before.
“Nothing, nothing,” Ziggy said, putting his hands up. “Just something left over from last night.” He was edging away from both Dillon and Summer.
“When you walked out without your morpher?” Summer asked, looking from Dillon to Ziggy.
“Yeah,” Ziggy admitted. “But everything’s fine now! Really!” He was edging even more now.
“It’s kind of between him and me.” Dillon said, stepping forward a bit. He didn’t want Ziggy to decide to hide someplace and not come out. Not when they really needed to talk.
“I think if he’s walking out without his morpher,” Flynn said, joining them, “It’s something the whole team should talk about, shouldn’t it?”
As Scott joined them, Dillon caught the back of Ziggy’s shirt before his teammate could rush out of there.
Ziggy really would have run, because he was having a panic attack at the idea of anybody figuring it out.
“It’s okay, really, fine!” Ziggy was waving his hands wildly. Dillon wasn’t exactly thrilled either; he’d been hoping to talk to Ziggy alone, only using the threat of the others to get Ziggy to talk. “I was stupid, okay?”
Ziggy was still trying to get away, and Dillon suspected that’s how he handled things he didn’t want to talk about or deal with. Run away and hope that everyone got bored and dropped the subject, instead of dealing with the issue. He tightened his grasp on the back of Ziggy’s shirt and hoped Ziggy didn’t decide to slip out of it.
“What’s going on?” Scott asked, looking at Dillon, then Ziggy, and back to Dillon.
“Nothing,” Ziggy said, still waving his hands. “I’m just going to go to my room, okay? I mean, it’s been a long day training and everything-”
Ziggy’s still trying to get out of situation, fast.
“No, you’re not,” Dillon told him firmly. “You and I are going to have a talk.” Maybe the others would catch the hint and leave them alone.
“I think it has to do with Ziggy walking out without his morpher last night,” Summer told Scott.
“Aye, if Ziggy’s putting himself in the path of trouble, maybe it’s something we should fix early on,” Flynn agreed.
“I’m really sorry, I won’t do it again,” Ziggy wailed, and he was definitely trying to lose the shirt.
“I can handle this,” Dillon said firmly.
“No,” Scott said, apparently making up his mind. “It affects the team. We’ll all deal with this.”
At this point, I was pretty much resigned to having an extra four people in this story.
Damn. He didn’t know if Ziggy would open up to them. After all, he hadn’t wanted to be a Ranger, and with what had happened last night, he was looking for an avenue of escape.
As Ziggy continued to struggle, Dillon paused at his own thoughts.
An avenue of escape.
Ziggy hadn’t wanted to be a Ranger. He’d left his morpher behind, trying to run away from yet another place that he didn’t like. But he knew he didn’t have a choice; the morpher was bonded permanently to him. Doctor K and the others had reminded him of that so many times the previous evening.
How did you run away from something that was part of yourself?
You didn’t. And Ziggy knew that. Ziggy could no more run away from being a Ranger than Dillon or any of the others could.
Dillon gets it, partly….
So, what had Ziggy been doing that night, without his morpher? Was he trying to have a night free of Doctor K, of training and the obligations that went with being a Ranger?
Somehow, Dillon didn’t think that was it, either. But the idea of Ziggy trying to somehow escape stayed in his mind.
“Maybe we should all sit down,” Summer said. “The table’s clear….”
“No, let’s use the couches,” Dillon said. If Ziggy sprinted, which he might do, it would be harder to catch him if they weren’t sitting close to each other.
Actually, the table would have been fine, but it is harder to get up from a couch.
Scott must have picked up the same thing he did, because he nodded. “I go with the couches.”
They all sat down on the couches, Dillon making sure that Ziggy didn’t bolt. This wasn’t ideal, but maybe one of the others could get Ziggy to say something. Maybe. Ziggy was very good at verbal squirming.
“So, Ziggy,” Flynn said, leaning forward. “What’s with this sudden impulse to take a walk in the middle of the night without a morpher?” His burr made it sound casual, and it looked like Flynn was trying to keep from intimidating Ziggy. Not that it seemed to be helping much.
Flynn is trying to be helpful. As he notes later, he thinks Ziggy’s being irresponsible.
“Um, well, I needed to take a walk. And I didn’t want to have company, so….”
He’s kind of telling the truth here. He did need to take a walk, and he didn’t want to have company. It’s just not the whole truth.
“Ziggy, you can’t defend yourself!” Summer said. “I didn’t say anything before, but what if you’d run across a set of Grinders? You’d have been defenseless!”
“Well, I do know how to duck,” Ziggy offered. “I’d have been okay! Everything would have turned out all right.”
Weirdly enough, Ziggy was relaxing a little. It was as if he knew that the others would lecture him about all of this, and he could deal with it. So, what had he been planning last night, and what had made him so nervous?
Ziggy is pretty much “ooh, they have no idea, I can handle this” because everybody’s guessing wrong. Now all he needs is for Doctor K to let him leave base and he’ll try again.
“Ziggy,” Summer continued, “We could have lost you out there!” She looked like the mother of a child who had gotten lost. But Ziggy wasn’t a kid, even if he couldn’t defend himself.
“Um, I guess that could have happened,” Ziggy said, scratching his head and relaxing more. “But, um, that would have meant a new Ranger Green, wouldn’t it?”
Ziggy is trying to get the Rangers used to the idea that he’s not going to be around long. It’s actually one of the few clues he outwardly gives to his team. He thinks once they realize that he really is worthless, they’ll let him go off and die. Very wrong assumption, but people in suicidal ideation really do not think clearly.
“Ziggy,” Summer said, as if she couldn’t believe what she’d heard, “Don’t joke about that!”
“Yeah!” Flinn added. “We might not have asked for you to be our Ranger Green, but you’re it now.”
I can’t believe I didn’t catch that typo of Flynn’s name before! But in any case, these aren’t the reactions that Ziggy intended, but Ziggy’s already internalizing them as “of course they’ll react this way until they realize I’m right”.
Suddenly, something clicked within Dillon’s head. When he’d run across Ziggy at the cafe, he’d been with a woman. Ziggy hadn’t been boasting or anything, and the woman hadn’t even known Ziggy was a Ranger. It was as if Ziggy had been hiding what he was, where normally he’d be telling anybody who’d listen about what he was.
“Which also means, Ranger Green, that you must assume some responsibility for your actions,” Doctor K intoned.
Scott was nodding. “Doctor K’s right. We might not have asked for you, but we’ll deal with it. But you have to think before you act.”
But, as Dillon looked at Ziggy, he realized that Ziggy had thought before he acted. At least somewhat.
Which is normal for suicidal people who have gotten to a plan. “I will take x of (medication)” is a plan. It’s not a healthy or a good one, but it’s a plan.
Ziggy didn’t want to be a Ranger. But he’d bonded to the morpher to keep Tenaya Seven from getting at it, even knowing it was permanent. And he knew that he didn’t have the skills to be a Ranger… or at least he didn’t he didn’t think so. As the woman had said, it was harder to learn to be brave than to learn how to fight. And Ziggy, in his own way, had been very brave.
How do you break a bond only breakable by the Operator’s death? You kill the Operator. Or, if you’re the Operator, you figure out how to die. Ziggy had left his morpher behind for the new Operator, not to annoy Doctor K.
And here Dillon puts everything together.
“You didn’t intend to be found,” he said flatly. He felt Ziggy tense again; it was exactly what he’d been planning, after all.
I almost never use quotes in summaries. I made an exception for Dillon’s line because it is a nice little summary/hook to the story.
“You intended to die before the rest of us could find you.” Ziggy was pulling away, and he knew he couldn’t let that happen. “You left the morpher here for your successor.”
From Ziggy’s look of panic, he knew it was exactly what he’d in mind.
“You weren’t counting on Doctor K being able to find you.”
At least Ziggy had stopped struggling, but it was the frozen fear of someone who felt they were in trouble and couldn’t get away.
Ziggy is in full-blown panic mode here, but not just because Dillon’s figured it out. He knows that the Rangers are heroic people and he worries that they’ll do something to prevent him even if they hate him. He can’t kill himself if he’s restrained.
Summer looked horrified; Scott and Flynn were staring as if they couldn’t believe their ears.
“You’re joking, right?” Flynn said after a moment. “You can’t surely….”
“It’s easier to learn how to fight than to learn to be brave,” Dillon said to Ziggy, knowing he’d make the connection.
Making reference to what Maria said, basically.
“Suicide’s not being brave,” Scott said, looking at Dillon, and over at Ziggy.
Scott doesn’t catch the reference at all.
“Yeah, well,” Ziggy said, scratching his head, “Um, I really thought it would be a good idea at the time to keep her from bonding with the morpher, and I knew it was permanent, but… um… I was joking about the suit and the chicks, really. I… I’m no hero. Never wanted to be. So, I kind of figured that you’d want someone who could do the job, so I, um….”
“You’re telling us you went off to try to die because… you thought you were doing us a favor, man?” Flynn was still staring at Ziggy.
Yeah, Flynn finds the whole idea incomprehensible. Because Ziggy’s not seeing the whole picture here, it’s hard to understand why he might be thinking that way, though Flynn gives a good try.
“Uh, yeah.” Ziggy was looking around as if he expected his plan to make sense to people who weren’t suicidal. Or him. “You didn’t want me, anyway….”
The three veteran Rangers were looking at each other. Staring at each other, really.
“Ranger Red,” Doctor K said, “Please put Ranger Green on suicide watch.”
And Doctor K, as annoyed as she is, can’t comprehend why he’s doing this. She’s pretty much “one of my Rangers is injured and has failed to seek medical attention and I must fix this NOW before my creation destroys Corinth”.
“But I’m not trying to kill myself now!” Ziggy squeaked. “You don’t have to do anything, really. It’s….”
“Ziggy,” Summer said, “we can’t trust you to be alone right now.”
“Yeah,” Flynn added. “You don’t leave a suicidal person alone.” He leaned forward.
Given what he did in his flashbacks, he’s the most likely to do something to keep Ziggy safe in ways that are… overdoing it.
“But I’m okay now!” Ziggy looked around, as if expecting to be tackled at any moment by the rest of the team. “Really.”
Ziggy’s plan had been to go off and die quietly, without interference. He’d had the ability to kill himself the night before, after Dillon had gone back to the roof.
Mostly because Ziggy didn’t want to risk this situation, with the Rangers finding out he’s suicidal and stopping him.
“He’s not that suicidal,” Dillon said. “Leave him to me. If he’d wanted to kill himself here, he had plenty of opportunity last night.”
Flynn peered at him. “You knew he wasn’t in good shape last night,” he said, staring at Dillon intently. Of course, he was part machine, and he knew that made it difficult sometimes for the others to trust him.
“I knew something was wrong. I didn’t know what until a few minutes ago.”
Figuring out someone is suicidal is tough if they’re not showing warning signs, and Ziggy was careful not to show warning signs. Suicidal people are perfectly capable of reading articles on suicide warning signs and trying not to give off any signs.
“While Ranger Green is not acutely suicidal,” Doctor K said, “I recommend he be put on close watch until he has a professional psychiatric evaluation. Unfortunately, he has proved that he is unable to communicate mental distress effectively, and I cannot risk his health or the team’s. He should not be allowed to remove his morpher or participate in battle until we can be assured this issue is handled.”
Sometimes Doctor K is a little bit too wordy for her own good. But, as much as she dislikes Ziggy (or believes she does), he is one of her Rangers and she doesn’t know if the morpher would debond if he died. Therefore, he must live. Period. No matter how much he doesn’t like it.
“‘Acutely suicidal’?” Summer asked the screen.
“He is not currently attempting to commit suicide, Ranger Yellow.”
“I think we’d stop him before he could,” Flynn said, still half-ready to tackle Ziggy.
“Well, if I morphed….” Ziggy said, apparently not knowing when to keep his mouth shut. Dillon resolved to get him out of there before Ziggy found himself tied down. Literally.
Flynn would be happy to do this, actually, because he perceives Ziggy as being a danger to himself.
“I can cancel your morph, Ranger Green,” Doctor K told him.
“Aye, and we’d be all over you before that,” Flynn added, looking at Ziggy seriously. “Don’t even think about it!”
“Now can I talk to him, alone?” Dillon asked.
“As long as you can keep watch on him,” Doctor K replied.
Dillon’s wanted to talk to Ziggy alone for most of the story, he finally gets the chance, but only after the entire team’s interfered.
Scott nodded. “We’ll all take turns keeping watch.”
“Right.” He was getting up and steering Ziggy away from the team the moment that Scott had agreed. Not letting go, he took Ziggy to his quarters.
Dillon wants Ziggy to be safe, too.
Ziggy kicked his boots off and sat on the bed, drawing his knees to his chest. “You could have not told them,” he said, though it was hard to tell if he was talking to Dillon or his drawn knees.
“You could have told me what was going on last night,” Dillon shot right back.
“How’d you figure it out, anyway?” Ziggy asked.
“Because I know you. And you weren’t flirting with that girl.” Dillon thought back to her, and what she’d said to Ziggy.
“Maria? Nah. We were together for a while in the orphanage, that’s all.” One shoulder lifted up, as if in a shrug. “We kindasorta get along, but that’s it.”
Ziggy thinks Dillon came to the right conclusion from the wrong clues, but it doesn’t help him much.
Dillon wondered if anybody, including Ziggy himself, understood that Ziggy was a hero because he didn’t want to be one. But even heroes, except for himself, needed help sometimes. “So, how were you planning to die? Grinders?”
“Um. You remember those guys in prison? Well, their buddies on the outside would have been willing to kill me. I guess Grinders would have worked as well, but it wasn’t my first choice.”
Running a hand over his hair, Dillon wished he had figured it out the night before. But he had to admit, Ziggy was always the smiling, happy type, not the kind of person who seemed like he wanted to die. He could be stupid and a coward, yes. But Dillon would have never guessed otherwise.
Which was the whole point. Ziggy didn’t want anybody stopping him.
“And, um, I’m not going to kill myself now, because it would be kind of hard to sneak off, and besides, I guess it might have been a stupid idea in the first place.”
“Good.” He’d let Doctor K and the others deal with Ziggy’s issues. He was sure that at least the others knew how vulnerable Ziggy was, mentally as well as physically, and Ziggy would have other people to help keep him safe.
And for the evening, at least for a while, he’d keep Ziggy safe, too.
In the original fic, I cited sources. It was mostly because I was in mid-academic year, and I wanted to have the resources available for any readers out there who weren’t feeling so great. A lot of what I used, however, was my own personal experiences. I’m not citing them here again, but if you’re reading this, and have bad depression, I can say from experience that it can and will get better.
Crossposted from Ramblings Yet Once More here.