Heart of Crimson

Summary: What if Hunter wasn't the first Ranger to wear Crimson. AU for MMPR Season 2. Dairanger powers, sorta. TommyKim, JasonOC slash.

Disclaimer: I do not own, nor do I intend/desire to make any money off the Power Rangers/Super Sentai concepts and characters presented in this story. They are fully the property of their respective owners and are used with loving respect. Furthermore this story utilizes concepts borrowed/adapted from Chris Claremont's run on X-Men. Certain aspects of the story are also due to my current obsession: Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger.

This story takes place just after "White Light," but is AU. The Rangers all have Dairanger powers, with a few modifications. Jason is still leader. Rita is still touring the solar system in her dumpster.

Chapter 1: The New Guys in Town

Jason Lee Scott ducked under the blow that had been aimed at his chest, grabbed his opponent's arm, and carried the man into a throw. Tommy Oliver registered the grab and, instead of simply allowing himself to be pulled into the throw, kicked off, adding his own momentum. Jason threw Tommy and he managed to flip himself and come down on his feet, rather than on his back, where he then kicked at Jason's midsection. Jason released his hold and leapt back a bit from the kick.

Tommy took a breath and then asked, "How was that?"

Jason smiled as he bent down and grabbed their water bottles. Tossing Tommy his, he responded, "Better. You've been regaining your balance almost immediately, and the form's good. But at that close range, you're always gonna have a problem putting much force into the kick with those long legs of yours."

"Stop looking at my legs," Tommy ribbed his best friend. "Besides, it's not about power, it's about surprise. I doubt an opponent in a competition, or other times," Tommy said, alluding to he and his friends' extracurricular activities, "would expect that kind of move from me."

Jason took a long sip from his water bottle, and then spoke, "Good point. It will give you some breathing room. Definitely seems to work for Kim." The two friends were now walking across the floor of the Youth Center to their group's usual table in the Juice Bar area.

"Yeah, that's where I got the idea," Tommy replied.

"You're welcome," the aforementioned Kimberly Ann Hart said as Tommy and Jason walked up. Tommy smiled at his girlfriend and gave her a quick kiss before saying, "Thank you."

Jason rolled his eyes at the table's other occupants and made gagging sounds. Trini Kwan, Zack Taylor, and Billy Cranston all laughed. Tommy turned bright red, and Kim giggled, "Come on you guys, be nice!"

"While we are quite accustomed to your public oscillations Kim, we would be remiss in utilizing the opportunity to discombobulate Tommy," Billy responded.

"Huh?" Kim and Tommy both asked.

"We're used to you guys kissing in public, but it's still funny to embarrass Tommy about it," Trini translated.

"Oh yeah," Kim giggled while Tommy just snorted.

"Oh come on Tommy, as long as you turn such a great shade of red, it's gonna be funny," Zack added. "Right, bro?" he asked Jason. "Bro?"

However, Jason wasn't paying attention to his friends. Instead, he was focused on the young man who had taken his and Tommy's place on the practice mats. He was about their age, tall and lithely built, but well muscled . . . very similar to Tommy. However, that's where the similarities stopped. His skin tone was pale, almost as pale as Kim's, which set off his short, somewhat spiky hair, which was a deep auburn, but when it caught the light revealed shining red and blond highlights. The young man dropped into a crouch and began working through a kata unlike anything Jason had ever seen before. Suddenly, Jason was snapped out of his reverie by Tommy's hand on his shoulder.

"You're starting to drool, bro," Tommy said with an amused tone.

Jason flashed Tommy a bit of a glare, however inwardly he was once again thankful Tommy was able to joke like this with him. Jason had come out to his other friends right before they started high school, and they were all accepting, but he had been reluctant to come out to Tommy . . . mainly because he initially had a huge crush on the then-Green Ranger. However, as Tommy and Kim started becoming involved, and Jason had gotten to know Tommy, that crush faded. Partly due to not wanting to hurt his "little sis," but also due to his realization that Tommy was way better friend than boyfriend material as far as he was concerned . . . in too many ways, dating Tommy would have been like dating himself, they were too alike. When Jason finally talked to Tommy about being gay, Tommy was unfazed . . . although he did seem a bit hurt when Jason told him he had gotten over his crush. When Jason and Kim talked about it later, and Jason observed that he had similar reactions from both Zack and Billy when he told them he wasn't attracted to them, they came to the conclusion that straight boys were just plain weird. Aloud Jason said, "Who is he? And what's that kata he's doing?"

"Don't know man," Zack responded. "We first spotted him a few days ago, but every time we've tried to introduce ourselves . . ." Zack cut off and tapped his communicator.

Trini picked up, "It appears to be a kenpo, but the form is one I've never seen before."

Jason continued to watch, fascinated. The young man's movements were powerful, easily in his and Tommy's class strength wise, but there was a flowing grace to the movements that rivaled Kim's. Suddenly, the stranger went into a spinning kick and Jason got to see his face. The features were like an ancient Greek statue, rounded but strong and lean. Across the room his own deep brown eyes met eyes so pale brown they were more like the color of polished amber. Before he even consciously realized he was doing it, Jason was down the steps from the bar level and crossing the exercise room floor.

Jason stopped at the edge of the mat and watched as the stranger appeared to finish his routine and bend over to grab his water bottle and towel from the opposite side of the mat . . . Jason tried very hard, and won slightly, to not ogle. As the young man stood back up, Jason said, "That was an amazing kata. What is it?"

The young man turned around and again those eyes struck Jason. "Actually, it's called a waza, or technique," he replied. "It's part of a kenpo style called Falcon Jyuken, or Falcon Beast Form."

"I've never seen anything like it."

The boy smiled, "Not surprised. There are only seven Jyuken masters in the world, and only one of them lives here in the States." Jason made an impressed sound and the boy continued, "I saw you and your friend sparring earlier. Looked like karate, but with some kung fu and hop-kido thrown in?"

"Yeah, that was me and Tommy. The other forms are from our friends Trini and Zack . . . we all kind of influence each other's styles." Suddenly Jason realized he hadn't introduced himself or found out the boy's name. He stuck out his hand, "I'm Jason, by the way. Jason Scott."

The boy smiled, Jason could swear his heart skipped a beat, and took the offered hand, "Brandon Loksen."

They shook hands and then Brandon finally said, "You know, I'm gonna need that hand back eventually."

Jason let go, blushed and rubbed the back of his head, "Oh, um, sorry."

Brandon just smiled again, and there was a glint of something in his eye, "It's okay. I take it you don't have much experience hitting on guys?"

Jason's jaw dropped, "Wha . . . ?"

Brandon laughed lightly, "It's okay, I appreciate the attention. And, it's not like I wasn't watching you earlier. Why do you think I chose to bend over to grab my stuff rather than crouch?"

Jason blushed again, looked at the ground, and then cast his eyes towards Brandon, "Was I that obvious?"

"A little. But the real give away was your friends' trying to watch us without looking like they're watching us. Especially that one in pink . . . I think she's going to jump out of her skin."

Jason now laughed and relaxed a bit, "That would be Kim." He still wasn't sure if he had any chance with Brandon, but at least he didn't seem to mind Jason's interest. In fact, he seemed to return it, at least a little. "So, would you like to meet them?"

Brandon smiled again, "Well, I'd much rather focus on getting to know you, but I think I'll spare you getting the third degree from your friends."

Jason melted inside at those words and he was certain he had the world's goofiest grin on his face, but he still lead the way back to his group's table. Once there, drinks were ordered and introductions made, and the questioning began.

"So, you're like, new in town?" Kim asked.

"Yeah," Brandon replied, "my family moved here from Portland last week. My Dad just got a job at Angel Grove University."

Billy, who had retreated somewhat into his shy shell with a new person around, suddenly looked up, "Wait, your father wouldn't happen to be Derrick Loksen? The theoretical physicist?"

Brandon smiled, "Yeah, that's him."

"He's considered something of a rogue in the physics community," Billy continued.

"He was . . . until all the monsters and Power Rangers showed up, all with abilities that my Dad's theories said were possible, but that most of the rest of the physics community laughed at."

"So, is that what brought your Dad to AGU?" Trini asked.

"Yep. Over the last year, the University has kinda become the place to be for theoretical physics and engineering, apparently. Pretty much due to the creeps on the moon and the Power Rangers."

The Rangers all exchanged a glance at that comment, and then a familiar six-tone chime escaped Jason's communicator. Brandon looked at Jason's wrist, "Nice watch. What's the alarm for?"

"Thanks," Jason responded. "It's to remind us . . . uh . . ."

Zack jumped in, "That we promised to help my Dad move some stuff into the attic." He started to rise, "Come on guys, if we don't get there, Dad will try to move all of that stuff himself." Zack spoke in a tone that suggested that allowing his father to do so would be a bad thing.

The Rangers all stood and headed for the exit, but Jason lagged behind and turned to Brandon, "I'm really sorry about this, but . . ."

Brandon just smiled, "It's okay. Go."

Jason got nervous again, "Um . . . do you think that . . . um . . . will you be here tomorrow?"

Brandon's eyes met Jason's, "Count on it."

Jason's smile went ear to ear and he followed the others. They gathered in one of the side hallways in their usual teleport/morphing spot. Tommy was already on the communicator with Zordon as Jason joined them. He and Tommy made eye contact and Tommy reported without prompting, "Goldar and Z-Patrollers downtown."

"Alright guys, let's do it! It's Morphing Time!" Jason reached behind his back and felt his hand slip into the dimensional tesseract and he grabbed his morpher as the others did the same. They trust the gold devices out in front of themselves, hit the hidden switches that opened them, revealing the crystalline metal Power Coins within and called upon their second generation powers:

"White Tiger!"

"Black Lion!"

"Pink Firebird!"

"Blue Unicorn!"

"Yellow Griffin!"

"Red Dragon!"

The Rangers teleported to the downtown square and found Goldar and a squad of Z-Patrollers tearing their way through town. Jason went into what the other Rangers called his "bad guy threatening" stance. His shoulders squared, but his body turned at a slight angle, with his head turned to stare down the enemy. The sun glinted off the large gold medallion, a replication of Jason's Red Dragon Power Coin, set into the left breast of the armored vest that was part of the Rangers' current suits. "Stop right there Goldar!" he yelled.

The whole effect usually caused monsters to freeze for at least fifteen seconds. However, Goldar had been on the receiving end so many times, it didn't even phase him anymore. Today, Goldar didn't even bother taunting Jason or Tommy before yelling, "Z-Patrollers, attack!"

Zack, Trini, Billy, and Kim scattered to deal with the Patrollers. Tommy and Jason stood their ground, waiting to see which of them Goldar was fixated on today. The alien warrior pretty much ignored the other Rangers, seeming to have it out exclusively for the Red and White Rangers, with which one he hated more changing day to day. "Looks like it's your turn," Tommy commented as he deflected a blow from a Z-Patroller who was trying to flank him while Jason blocked Goldar's sword with his Mark II Blade Blaster in sword mode.

"Great," was the Red Ranger's reply, and the battle was joined.

Kim executed a series of back flips as a Z-Patroller tried futilely to land a blow while chasing her. She completed her last flip and immediately executed a forward kick to the now wide-open medallion in the center of the Z-Patroller's chest, the source of the energy that animated it. The medallion cracked and the energy began leaking out. The Z-Patroller stumbled backwards and fell.

Kim dusted off her gloved hands and turned to look for another opponent, expecting the Z-Patroller to explode into clay dust as usual. However, movement sighted out of the corner of her eye caused Kim to turn back, and what she saw made her gasp. Dark energy, like a moving shadow, slid over the ground and into the crack in the Z-Patroller's medallion. The energy seemed to fill the Z-Patroller and, as it stood, its once grey body turned black, the cracks in the clay and the hollow spaces that served as its eyes filled with a cold bluish light.

Kim backed up a step and said, "Um, guys." She looked around for her fellow Rangers and found they were dealing with the same situation. Now-black Z-Patrollers they had just struck the final blow against were advancing on each of them. Even worse, a dozen piles of clay dust, destroyed Z-Patrollers, were reforming the same way. Suddenly, moving faster than should have been possible, the Z-Patrollers attacked and the Rangers, even Tommy, found themselves on the ground.

Jason blocked another strike from Goldar, trying to figure out what the hell was going on when a powerful blow from behind knocked him to the ground. Jason rolled and looked up in shock at the black Z-Patroller that was standing over him. Goldar seemed shocked as well, and asked "What is this?!"

From his vantage point on his throne room balcony, Lord Zedd was asking much the same question, but in a much louder voice as he banged his fist into the railing, sending sparks of energy dancing across it.

From behind Zedd, the answer came, "You may call them Shadow Patrollers, if it pleases you."

Zedd spun at the unfamiliar voice, his staff at the ready. Standing in the middle of the throne room was a humanoid male, tall and well muscled with midnight blue skin, red eyes, and long white hair pulled into a tight braid. He wore black leather armor with silver accents, and had a long sword strapped to his back.

"Who are you? And why do you dare enter my palace?" Lord Zedd asked, his metallic voice echoing off the throne room walls.

The stranger dropped to one knee and bowed, "I am called Draeveus, my Lord. I have traveled the breadth of the Universe to serve you, Mighty Zedd. My power of Shadow is yours, if you will have it. The Patrollers are merely a sample."

Zedd glanced back towards Earth and saw that the battle was going poorly for the Rangers against the Shadow Patrollers. He turned back to Draeveus, "Rise my servant. You may very well prove useful, and therefore I may refrain from destroying you." With that, Zedd turned his attention back to the battle. Draeveus rose to his feet, a cold, calculating smile playing at his lips.

Today had just gone from bad to worse, Jason thought bitterly as he crashed into the ground again. First Goldar attacked, pulling him away from getting to know Brandon, the first guy he had ever been interested in who seemed interested back. Now Zedd seemed to have found a way to make Z-Patrollers as strong and as adaptive in battle as a full-fledged monster.

Jason rolled away from a stomp from one of the enhanced Z-Patrollers and flipped back to his feet as the others regrouped around him.

"This is going really badly bro," Tommy observed.

"So I noticed," Jason responded. "Ideas?"

"Alpha has been unable to analyze the new energy that is powering the Z-Patrollers," Billy replied.

"Here they come!" Trini shouted. The Rangers braced themselves, but before the Z-Patrollers could reach them, a dark red blur slashed across the front of them, knocking them back and throwing sparks from the medallions in their chests. Half the Z-Patrollers fell and dissolved into clouds of black smoke.

The blur stopped in front of the Rangers, revealing a figure in Ranger armor . . . but one the other Rangers had never seen. It looked like a cross between the Green and White Ranger armors, but the golden helmet and shield motifs where of a bird of prey in flight. The gloves, boots, and belt were black. But it was the main part of the armor, the part that defined what this Ranger's . . . if that's what he was . . . color was, that was so shocking. It was a deep, dark red. Crimson . . . like the color of fresh blood.

The remaining Z-Patrollers regrouped and began to advance again. Jason was about to shout a warning, but before he could, the Crimson Ranger pulled his side arm. It was a massive blaster, again in crimson, gold, and black, and shaped like a screaming bird of prey, the barrel extending from the beak. He turned and pierced each of the Z-Patrollers medallions with a single red-and-gold bolt. As the Z-Patrollers dissolved, the Crimson Ranger began to walk away.

"Wait!" Jason yelled. The Crimson Ranger stopped. "Who are you?" Jason asked.

The Crimson Ranger glanced back. "I am . . . Phoenix," he responded, before leaping away, faster than the eye could follow.