Disclaimer: We do not own the power rangers, Saban/Disney does. Although we may wish these four boys belonged to us, alas they do not. This story was not written for profit of any kind.
Author's Notes!!!: A special thanks to everyone who reviewed our first draft of this story. We took a lot of your suggestions to heart and rewrote the first chapter. Please R &R!!! Also please note that Italics are used to illustrate internal thoughts. So without further ado here it is once again for your viewing pleasure.
Timeline: This takes place during Zeo, shortly after Jason returns as the Gold Ranger.
Adam blocked the sidekick to his ribs and swept Rocky's legs out from under him. The blue zeo ranger hit the Youth Center mat hard with a groan of protest. "Ow…Adam that hurt! I thought we were going to try a game where Rocky finally gets a chance to take you down." Looking up at his teammate, he noticed his attention was no longer on his fallen comrade. Sighing, Rocky got to his feet, rubbing his sore backside. "Adam?" Following the green ranger's eyes he noticed the cause of concern.
Tommy was sitting alone at the rangers' usual table, gazing at nothing of any significance. He was slumped over a half-eaten meal, his fingers distractedly pushing the now-cold fries around his plate. He paid no attention to Bulk and Skull as they played detective in their usual disruptive manner, nor was he interested in the sparring match his teammates were having. All his focus was on the world that existed only in his mind.
"We should leave him alone," Rocky advised his friend. It was times like this that the rangers kept their distance from their leader. He was completely unresponsive and untouchable when he was in these types of moods.
Adam didn't look at Rocky. In his usual compassionate, mature manner he said, "You know he only gets like this when some sort of life-changing event occurs. The only thing I can put my finger on is Jason's return, but I thought he wanted Jason back on the team. After all, didn't Tommy personally choose him to take the gold powers when we found out that Billy couldn't have them?" Finally the green zeo ranger turned and looked into his best friend's eyes, a mixture of worry and insightfulness showing in his own.
Rocky smiled internally. Adam was gifted with an amazing perception of others. He had a way of looking into a person's soul and seeing exactly who that person was. It was one of the many things that made him such an amazing friend.
Rocky's attention shifted to their leader. He himself was completely at a loss. They had all been so sure that Tommy was thrilled about having Jason back on the team. In fact, if Adam hadn't suggested Jason as the possible cause for Tommy's withdrawal into his icy, introspective mood then Rocky would have thought it to be something else entirely. However, watching Tommy now, it did seem like their fearless leader could be regretting his choice. Still, it was a long shot, one that Rocky didn't want to bet too heavily on. "Remember, we aren't exactly sure that Jason is the issue at hand."
"Think what you want, Rock. I'm just worried about Tommy. The last time he got like this was after Kim broke up with him, and he almost got himself killed in battle. I just wish he would talk to us. I guess I was hoping that with Jason's return, Tommy would finally open up, but he's only gotten worse. Maybe I'm crazy, but I really believe that it has to do with Jason, and I don't think it's going to resolve itself quickly." Adam crossed his arms over his chest, still analyzing their leader.
Rocky threw Adam his signature goofy grin. "Come on, Adam! Quick fixing is my thang, let me at Tommy and Jason. I'll have this fixed in no time." Grabbing his towel, he wiped the sweat from his face. From the pensive expression on Adam's face he could tell that their match was over.
Adam shook his head. "It's not that I don't have complete confidence in your peacemaking abilities. I just think that it is up to Tommy and Jason to decide their next course of action, not us." Nevertheless, he couldn't keep from smiling. Rocky was just one of those people who could make anyone laugh. Maybe leaving the two of them alone in Rocky's presence would be enough to fix whatever went wrong between them. It's not like we haven't noticed how they've barely been talking to each other lately. A mischievous twinkle entered his eye as he threw a sideways glance at his friend. "Although there's always the chance that your unusual touch might send them packing, and we wouldn't want that now, would we?"
Rocky made a mock gasp, staggering backwards with his hand over his heart. "You wound me! How could you think such a thing?" He turned away with dramatic flair. "If you think I am ever going to make lasagna for you again you are sadly mistaken."
Adam grinned. "Fine, you wouldn't send them packing. Just please don't threaten to stop cooking. You know we all live for your lasagna."
"At least I'm good for something," Rocky exclaimed, picking up his bag.
"Oh, Rocky." Adam put his arm around his best friend and guided him towards the door. "You have a lot to offer and you know it. Friendship is something that you completely excel in."
Rocky grinned. "Thanks, Adam. I think that's an area you really need to work on." Bolting through the door he took off running, Adam close behind.
Meanwhile, back in the Youth Center the leader who was the main topic of Rocky and Adam's conversation sat quietly at the table. He shifted a bit, centered on the many thoughts swarming in his head. Everything had been so confusing lately, and he was trying to figure out why.
He knew he was the textbook definition of a leader. Sometimes he wondered if anyone remembered the shy, quiet, insecure, guilt-ridden teenager of a few years before. Being forced into the role of leader and having the welfare of an entire planet on his shoulders had given him the drive to forget his insecurities and accept his responsibilities. However, the Tommy of the past did tend to come out and play once in a while when he was alone. He absentmindedly chewed on a fry, not noticing the lack of heat in the food.
Jason was finally back in Angel Grove, and a power ranger once more. It should have been the greatest thing ever, to have his best friend back in town, fighting by his side against the forces of evil once more. The problem was that he didn't feel that way. That familiar feeling of unworthiness was nipping at his heels, and his long practiced evasive maneuvers seemed to have malfunctioned. Maybe it was the fact that Jason embodied a past that Tommy would have rather forgotten, a past where he was reserved and forever placed in the background, a last-minute solution if the rangers needed help. Back then Jason was more than a friend or leader, he was a survival tool. But he had left, and Tommy had learned to survive on his own. There was a sense of fear that Jason expected things to go back to the way they were, which Tommy was not about to let happen. Besides, things couldn't go back to the way they were, could they? No, not now, not after all the hard times Tommy had gone through with his team.
My team. Tommy smiled a bit at that. That was a small consolation – no one on his team knew Jason as a leader. They had never met the green ranger. They only knew him, Tommy, white ranger and zeo ranger V, their commander. And they respected him in that role. There was only one thing he would change about the way they treated him, and that was the near-idolatry they showed him. He was not a god, just an ordinary human with feelings and worries just like anyone else. Well, maybe not ordinary. An ordinary person doesn't have the fate of the earth on his shoulders every day.
Maybe it had just been to long since he had been in the presence of the original rangers. Sure, Billy was still around, but he had been there the entire time, and he accepted "Leader Tommy" just as easily as the others. Jason would have to as well. Besides, were these fears really about being replaced? Zordon respects me, he wouldn't do that. Not after all that I've sacrificed. I've given everything to the power rangers. I've breathed, bled, and sweat for them. I've risked my life for the earth for so long now. It's absolutely ridiculous to think that Zordon would try to replace me. He sighed. So what's the real deal? Why am I feeling so out of place all of a sudden? Why does being around Jason make me want to run away?
A voice interrupted his thought stream. "Hey, Oliver, you gonna eat those fries?"
He looked up to see Bulk and Skull standing over him. With a sigh he pushed the plate to the edge of the table. "They're cold, but you can have them if you want."
"Great!" Bulk picked up the plate and proceeded to dump the fries into his pocket.
"So how come you don't hang out with Jason anymore?" Skull asked. "You guys fighting or something?"
Tommy looked at him warily, but the gangly teen seemed to genuinely want an answer to his question. Tommy shrugged. "No, we're not fighting. It's just… people change."
Skull nodded. "Yeah, I guess. It's just weird. I mean, you guys were always so close. It kinda sucks to see you not being friends anymore."
"Who cares about these dweebs? Come on, Skull. We have more important things to do," Bulk grabbed his protégé.
"See ya later, Tommy," Skull said as he was dragged off.
Tommy watched them go, his mind whirling. I didn't realize our difficulties were that obvious. Now even Skull's noticing… He sighed. Skull had brought up another topic that Tommy had been trying to avoid – Jason's friendship.
Jason and him had been best friends from the start, from the moment they met, it seemed. While it had seemed to Tommy that they other rangers were taking pity on him after Rita's spell had been broken, he had felt a strong bond with Jason that eventually grew into an even stronger friendship. But there had also been something else that happened in the moment that they met, something that was now stirring unknown and unfamiliar emotions within him. They engulfed his mind, pounding at him until he just wanted to scream and make them disappear. He was more confused than he had ever been in his life.
He knew he was right that these feelings were triggered by Jason's homecoming. The problem was that he didn't know exactly what it was that was bugging him so much. Maybe it was exactly what I told Skull. We've both changed. Maybe I need to examine what Jason really means to me.
He knew that he didn't want Jason out of his life. He missed him so much when he was in Switzerland, and the phone calls that occurred less and less frequently only made it worse. Jason was so much more than just a friend to him. He had many different roles – leader, teammate, confidante, best friend, brother. Over the years they had developed a close relationship that didn't need a lot of effort. It went unspoken that it was the kind of friendship that would never dissolve. They were brothers. Therein lies the problem.
Tommy sat straight up in his chair. "What the hell?" he whispered. Where had that come from? Since when did thinking about Jason as his brother bother him? Why did he feel like he wanted…something more? I know I want Jason to be a part of my life, but not as a brother.
Tommy fell back in his chair and gazed at the ceiling, pondering this new revelation. He once again asked himself the question. What does Jason really mean to me?
He knew that all his life there was an emptiness inside him that needed to be filled. There had always been something gnawing at the back of brain, something that he needed, but nothing had ever presented itself that could satisfy that desire. Then Jason came into his life, and though he didn't notice at the time, the need dissipated. It wasn't until Jason went to Switzerland that it became apparent that he had been the solution. When Jason wasn't there, there was a gaping void left in Tommy's life, and nothing else could satisfy it. Why didn't I see this before?
He had always had an unexplainable closeness with Jason, an intimacy that made him feel safe and comfortable. There was also an undeniable attraction, but Tommy had always kept that to himself. How could anyone not think Jason is gorgeous? There's nothing wrong with noticing that. It doesn't mean I'm gay, does it? He just fills out that Spandex just the right way… Tommy sucked in a breath as he felt a familiar tingle go through his body, one he had never before associated with his best friend. Oh God, I'm getting turned on thinking about Jason!! But I like girls! Ok, think about girls. Baywatch…Claudia Schiffer…He has been looking really good in those black turtlenecks….no!!
A familiar tone interrupted the train of his thought, saving him. Thank you, Mondo. I could really use to kick some ass right now. Grabbing his bag and leaving some money on the table, he made his way back to the alcove the rangers used to teleport from. Raising his communicator to his lips, he softly asked, "What is it, Zordon?"
"TOMMY, THERE IS A MONSTER ATTACKING ANGEL GROVE PARK. PLEASE REPORT TO THE COMMAND CENTER IMMEDIATELY. THE OTHERS ARE ON THEIR WAY."
"I'll be right there, Zordon." He pressed the button and let the shimmering wave of red envelope his body for teleportation. A color that had been first worn by Jason. Is there anything that doesn't make me think of him?
Next time on Power rangers……….Jason shrugged, picking the lint off the blanket. I thought I had a best friend to come back to.
Thanks for reading the story!!! The next chapter is being typed up and is on it's way!!! Stay tuned!!!!