Page two, huzzah.

*

HasidicShipping // Barlow & Crawford // G

Usually the Ranger Base was a fairly calm location. Oh, there were the odd scuffles, to be sure: whatever little drama happened in Vientown was sure to seep into the Base before long, and the Rangers themselves were only human. But Rangers were also Rangers, and it was only once in a blue moon that they wouldn't have the problem all taken care of before the day was out.

But today was different. Today Barlow had returned, ready to take charge of the Base again – and Crawford, who'd watched over it in his absence, seemed to be of the opinion that it benefited more under his own leadership. And naturally, Barlow had a rather different opinion. Not that Crawford seemed to care.

"Anything you can do, I can do better~" Crawford said in a sing-song voice, skipping around the older Ranger, half mocking and half playful. "I can do anything better than you!"

Barlow huffed. "No you can't."

"Yes I can!"

"No you can't."

"Yes I can!"

He glared daggers at Crawford, whose afro was bobbing up and down slightly. "No, you can't!"

"Yes I can, yes I can!" Crawford came to a stop in front of him, placing his hands on his hips. "I'm just better at leading than you are. And anything you can be, I can be greater. Sooner or later—" He leapt onto his hands, performing a sudden handstand. "I'm greater than you!"

Barlow was unimpressed. "No you're not."

"Yes I am."

"No you're not."

"Yes I am."

"No, you're NOT."

"Yes I am, yes I am!" He flipped effortlessly onto his feet again.

"Look here," Kate said hastily, stepping up and taking them both by the elbow. "You're not getting anywhere by arguing like this. Why don't you two actually prove that you're better at leading than the other?"

The other Rangers, watching from a safe distance, nodded in agreement.

"Oh, all right," Crawford said, sighing in an overdramatic manner. Barlow just glared at him.

They made their way north towards Vien Forest, where they stood in a well-lit glade. Bird Pokemon flitted about above them, chirping to one another. Kate folded her arms, waiting for them to do something.

"Hmm," Barlow muttered, noticing a lithe orange form scuttling among the trees. "I can get a Buizel with a single noodle." He withdrew a container from his bag and opened it – and the aquatic weasel leapt at him, stuck its head into the food within, devoured it all and scampered back into the woods before he'd had a chance to register that it'd even noticed him.

"Sure," Crawford said, smirking. "But I can get a Spearow with a bow and arrow."

He grabbed some sticks off the ground. Nobody was quite sure what he did next – his hands were just a blur – but soon he was holding a crude makeshift bow and arrow. He fitted the arrow to the bowstring, waited until a Spearow was fluttering by overhead, and let it fly with a twang.

The bird squawked in surprise: a few long flight feathers had been torn from its wing, skewered by Crawford's arrow. Rather than fall at his feet, however, the Spearow flapped its other wing sharply downwards, creating a mighty gust that carried it over the treetops and out of sight.

Crawford sighed.

Somebody shifted in the ranks of watching Rangers. "Why can't they just use the Capture Stylers like normal people?"

Trying to shake off his embarrassment, Barlow brought out the rest of his lunch, a carefully wrapped sandwich. "I can live on bread and cheese," he said, before taking a bite out of it.

Crawford raised an eyebrow. "And only on that?"

Barlow nodded. At that moment, however, a small yellow mouse darted out of the undergrowth, jumped up, snatched his sandwich, and scurried away, giggling as only a Pichu can.

Crawford exploded with laughter. "So can a rat!"

*

By the time the sun had started to set, the Rangers were heading back to the Base, tramping up in groups of two or three. Barlow followed, feeling dejected. Crawford had proved that he was the better bargainer, the better drinker, and the more practical dresser. Surely the others preferred him as the Base leader. After all, what could he do that Crawford couldn't do better?

"Hey, Barlow." Crawford was leaning on the doorframe of the Base, waiting for him. "Anything you can sing, I can sing sweeter."

Barlow groaned. He had to sing on top of everything else?

"I can sing anything sweeter than you."

"You already said that," he growled.

"Just try." Crawford was smirking again.

Barlow sighed. "No you can't," he tried, forcing his voice to be flowing rather than choppy.

"Yes I can," Crawford replied, his tenor sounding light against the rumble of Barlow's bass.

"No you can't." Barlow found himself leaning forward slightly, toward the door. He just wanted to get into the Base and get some sleep. His eyelids started to droop. He was so tired …

"Yes I can." Crawford's voice was almost a trill. Was he leaning forward too? Well, they had been going through the same trials …

"No you can't."

"Yes I can."

"No you can't."

"Yes I can."

Something brushed against Barlow's nose. His eyes flew open, and to his horror he saw Crawford drawing back from his face, lips puckered slightly, smirking like the cat that caught the canary. "No you can't, can't, can't!" he said in a growling gasp, stepping away hastily.

Crawford gave him a sly, superior look. "Yes I can, can, can!"

Barlow couldn't take it anymore. He hurdled through the door with a resounding crash.

"Let's be partners!" Crawford called after him. "Yes, we can~!"

*

Coming up next: WristShipping.