Here is another SPD one-shot that I found lying in limbo on my computer. I am sure that I typed this waaaaaaaaaay back in 2005 right after SPD finished airing, but alas, here it is for your reading pleasure! And for one, its a friendship fic and not a romance one! All you Jack/Z naysayers can breathe a little easier.
This is not Goodbye
Elizabeth Delgado watched him from the doorway of the room that he had come to call home for the past year. Laid out on Jack's bed was articles of clothes, comic books, photos; practically everything that he had come to own during his duration as Red Ranger. Humming lightly to himself, it seems that the now former Red Ranger mind is a million miles away as he continues to pack.
Z's chest is tight as she continues to watch him. Immediately after the Commander contained Gruumm after beating him in combat, Jack had disappeared. She had long known about his desire to leave SPD, but she had not anticipated that the time had finally come. She had thought that there would have been more time.
"Are you just gonna stand there and watch me," Jack asks her, not bothering to turn around. "I can feel you burning holes into the back of my head. If you're not careful my head may catch on fire."
Z smiles lightly. Jack never had to see or hear her to not know that she was around. They have always been that close. She enters the room and presses the button close to the door railing to close it behind her. "Goof." She sits onto the small chair opposite side his bed, next to the desk. All the other Ranger quarters don't have either. As Red Ranger, there was always some kind of paper work or file that had to be read, so the Red Ranger quarters were always designed accordingly.
"So," Z fiddles her thumbs in her lap. "This is it."
"Yep," Jack stuffs several articles of clothing into a duffle bag. "Gruumm is gone, the Earth is safe and my job here is done. Cruger has nothing to hold over my head now to keep me here."
"You already turned in the Red Ranger Morpher," the Latina asks.
Jack nods. "Gave it to Kat while everyone was celebrating the victory. Also gave her the recommendation to the Commander to promote Sky to Red Ranger. The guy… I guess he deserves it. He's not a dickhead like he use to be. He'll do a good job leading the Squad after my departure."
Jack zips up the yellow duffle bag and turns to his old partner in crime, smiling. "But I doubt that he'll be no where as good as me."
"Word," Z grins back up at Jack. She lowers her head lightly, pondering over her thoughts on what to say next.
"Listen, will you tell the gang later for me? After I'm done good and gone," Jack asks. "You know I don't like goodbyes and..."
"Is this what this is," Z stands, her bottom lip now stiff as her brows nit together. "Goodbye?"
"What," Jack lays his books and photos back onto the bed. "Goodbye? Heck no Z. What gave you that idea?"
"Jack, I," Z begins but she stomps the floor with her lift foot and looks upward. "Gosh, man, I don't know what to do…"
"What to do," Jack's eyebrow arch in confusion. "Baby girl, slow down and tell me what's wrong?"
"You," Z points at him, and then at his duffle bags. "This! You're leaving!"
"You're acting like you'll never see me again," Jack sighs as he walks up to her. "Z, come on baby, you and I have been through to much for me to simply up and forget about you…"
"That's what it feels like," Z crosses her arms. "We've been a team… forever! You and me."
"And we always will be," Jack places his arms on her shoulders. "Just now… I won't be in Red spandex fighting creeps out to take over the world. Besides, this place isn't for me. It's not my future. It's yours."
"What do you mean," Z asks, looking back up in his brown eyes.
"You wanted to do something bigger and here you are," Jack continues to hold onto her. "Honestly, the only reason I stayed and took Cruger's offer was because… because I saw you in trouble on the Viewing Screen that day. I knew then that I could not leave you…"
"You're leaving now," Z interrupts, more than willing to continue arguing.
"Its not the same and you know that," Jack sighs. "You are stronger now that you were when we started this Ranger gig. I am stronger too. But this… it is not me. The rules, the order. Besides… I… I kinda met someone…"
"Met someone," Z repeats. "A girl?"
"Nah, a boy," Jack laughs. "Of course it's a girl. Her name is Ally."
"I see," Z bites her bottom lip. Her chest begins to hurt, as she was stabbed by rejection. Despite the heavy flirtation he has done in the past with other women, she has always been at the center. The most important girl in his life. His best friend. Even, a sister. "You love her?"
"Z, I just met the girl," Jack throws his hands up in the air. "It's too early to know if there is love involved."
"But you are leaving me… er, the Squad for her," Z quickly catches herself. Why is she feeling like her heart is being ripped out of her chest.
"Why are you making such a big deal about this huh Z," Jack sighs as he releases her arms. "I've told you… this life isn't for me. I never wanted this… responsibility. I went with the flow, accumulated a nice little bit of pocket change. Hell, I'm even gonna get retirement benefits from this, so I am straight with health issues. I gotta get out of this place. It's smothering me."
"I know," Z releases a frustrated breath. "You are too free of a bird to be caged up."
"Damn skippy," Jack walks over to the bed and grabs another duffle bag that was lying next to the pillows. It is a red one, with a white strip along the middle. Above the strip is his last name in bold black letters.
"Where you gonna go," she asks. "Do you have a place to stay, until you get on your feet?"
"Yeah. Remember the old warehouse we use to sleep in when we were homeless?"
"Jack, for the love of God tell me you are not going back on the streets," Z gasps.
"No, no," Jack shakes his head. "Kat helped me buy the property a few months back. On my off days I've been fixing it up. Painting, putting up wall paper. Got me a little sweet office and bedroom, even a guest bedroom for you, all ready to go."
"Really," Z looks astounded. "All those times you disappeared on your off days, we figured that you were down at the comic book store or arcade."
"Nope," Jack finishes stuffing the last few remaining possessions he owns into his last duffle. "If I want a future, I'm going to have to build one for myself. But I'm not going to do it just for me. I'm eventually going to turn that old warehouse into a shelter."
"Robin Hood," Z shakes her head. "You know, you should really invest in some green tights. You already take the Robin Hood thing to the extreme."
"Robin's are red birds," Jack zips the bag closed and slings it over his shoulder. He picks up the other one and holds it to his side. "And if I must, allow me to spend a moment to gloat on how awesome I am in Red spandex."
"As if you have to gloat," Z smiles, feeling a little bit better. "I'm going to miss you, you know. Our morning breakfast and running routines."
"We can still do em'," he tells her as he walks up to her. "Remember, this is not goodbye. More like… I'll see you later."
"Yeah," Z nods. "I can live with that."
Jack drops the yellow duffle he was carrying in his left hand to the floor; leaning toward the fiery Latina, he takes her into his arms. Z circles her arms around his waist, returning the fierce hug. The two stay like that for several moments until Z's Morpher goes off.
"B-Squad, report to the Command Center immediately," Kat's voice rings over the communications unit.
"I better go," Z says finally, pulling away.
"Yeah, me too," Jack nods. Z steps back to the entrance of the door, allowing Jack to exit after retrieving his duffle from off the floor. He leans over and plants a light kiss to her forehead. "Catch ya around Z."
"Yeah," Z slowly rotates her head to the side to place a light kiss to his right cheek. "Same to you."
Jack turns and proceeds to walk toward the elevator, down the hall. As he walks away, he feels like a free man, for the first time ever. With the world now free from the Troobian threat, and with his savings, he can build a life for himself. One he was denied as a child, but one he can build forward to.
"You'll be back," Z whispers lightly, more to herself than to Jack as she leans against his now vacant, former bedroom. "And when you do, I'll tell you I told you so over for the rest of our lives. Even when we are old and crippled, I'm still going to give you hell."
Jack enters the elevator and presses the button for the lobby's level. He turns and looks up at Z one final time inside the Delta Base. Giving her a large smile and a thumbs up, he slowly disappears from her sight as the elevator doors close, separating the two old friends for the first time in years.
Releasing a breath that she was unaware that she was holding, Z lowers her head. She turns and walks in the opposite direction, heading toward the Command Center. Cadet's of all sizes and races walk past her, saluting her, but she does not pay them any mind. She comes to a stop in front of the Command Center as she is hit with a new thought. This is not the end, but rather a whole new beginning.
"Okay then," she smiles as she enters the Command Center, spotting Cruger in a new uniform. It appears that even he was granted a promotion, one that she is certain that she'll find out upon later. Upon the holo-screen before Cruger and Kat, they watch as Jack exits off of Space Patrol Delta property.
"He moves rather fast," Kat notes.
"It is hard to watch him leave," Cruger remarks. "I had such high hopes for him. He would have made an excellent replacement for me once I step down from Commander of this Base in a few years."
"He'll be back," Z tells them as she walks up beside them. She keeps her eyes glued to the holographic image of her old partner in crime, as he waves down a taxi. "He just needs to find himself. In one way, shape or form, I am certain Jack Landors will be back."
The holographic Jack can be seen throwing his bags into the back of the taxi. He says something to the cab driver and he proceeds to enter the vehicle. However, before he closes the door, he looks up, as if looking directly at the three, even though it is impossible for him to visibly see them. He smiles and gives them a wink, before closing the door, allowing the taxi driver to pull off from the Academy Grounds.
And that is that! Once I browse through my other one-shots and do a little revising and such, I'll post em as well! Hope you enjoyed the fic, and don't forget to review!