Warning(s): God, sooo much crackier than I anticipated. So, definite crack. Lots of Fran-ness. Insulting RJ's uniform ('cause it's gross, except the helmet, which is so not fair, because he's the best.) Making fun of the Ranger color game that's played. Corny title. Oddball-ity. Use of emphasis. I suppose RJFran if you super squint, but mostly just best friend-ness.
Summary: The Ranger uniforms are looking a little ragged and it is up to Fran to save the day - repeatedly - despite the efforts of an oblivious RJ and three slightly crazed teenagers weighing her down. For my Jules.
a wolf of a different color
The tradition had been passed down from generation of Ranger to generation. The honorable and venerable ritual had somehow made its way from each team to the next, both gently guiding and firmly instructing on just how things were supposed to go. As much as they tried to deny it, the Rangers stood on ceremony.
And nothing proved it more deeply than the way they laundered their uniforms.
Fran grumbled. She didn't see how she got stuck doing the uniforms when the team had eight perfectly capable hands of their own to do the dirty work. But nooo, they were off saving the universe and being heroes and doing daring good deeds, foiling dastardly foes.
She supposed it was her fault in the end though. She had been the first one to notice the… fade out.
A week earlier, Fran had been watching RJ's screens anxiously, perched in what the others had informed her was called 'The Chair'. One could hear the capital letters in the awestruck and rather fearful way the Rangers had said it - but there was no other chair around the loft and she wasn't about to miss this fight - plus RJ hadn't said to not sit in it, at least not to her... So here she was. Sitting.
Fran munched her way absentmindedly through a Slammin' Banana Jamma pizza and two bags of chips before something caught her eye. She mentally waved it away - until minutes later it again caught her attention. She considered it briefly - was she just seeing things?
Fran squinted and tilted her head - RJ's televisions were old, so maybe that was it… She frowned and cleaned her glasses; maybe it was just the light?
But no, no - she was right. RJ was looking a little… faded. And she didn't mean tired - just, well, less purple.
More like… pink.
She winced. And now that she was looking, Lily's uniform was looking rather sickly while Theo's had growing scuff marks on the knees. Casey had a run in his spandex. Gah. Who let them out looking like that?
Oh, right. Her. Not entirely her fault, but still. Something had to be done.
The trio didn't believe her at first.
But she had video proof and she watched with a certain amount of perverse satisfaction as their faces fell and their eyes grew wide with horror. "We look disgusting!" Lily cried, appalled. Fran patted her comfortingly on the head; poor girl almost had the worst of it. Her yellow uniform was starting to look faintly pea green in most lights.
Theo was speechless for once in his life, which made Fran a little nervous. She kept checking to make sure he was still breathing - a silent Theo was a disturbing Theo to be around.
"You guys are just looking a little ragged around the edges, that's it," Fran said soothingly. "It's to be expected, Rangering is a lot of work." Lily looked mildly reassured but Casey was clearly inconsolable. He was muttering darkly under his breath about god knows what, which only made Fran feel worse for what she did next. "You haven't seen the worst of it yet," Fran said unfortunately, fast forwarding to RJ's arrival.
And yes, now that she'd spotted it, it was hard to understand how anyone had missed it for so long. RJ's suit had faded far from its sort of gross 'grape slash fuchsia' shade of purple to a very definite pink hue. The anguished gasps of the three teenagers did little to comfort her.
"Oh god!" Casey's agonized cry was the loudest. "He's ruined! We're ruined!"
Fran was only beginning to grasp how important the colors were to the Rangers - all Rangers, any Rangers. It had seemed like a cute thing at first, a team building exercise gone a little wonky, but after she'd stumbled upon Lily attempting to strangle Theo for spilling something on her last clean yellow shirt, she'd begun to understand that the colors were more than just colors. Their identities - and thus, their sanities - were now hinged upon the maintenance of these colors.
Leaving Fran in the very awkward position of comforting three grief stricken, slightly crazed teenagers with super abilities and secret lives as super heroes.
Fran awkwardly patted Theo on the back as he choked back sobs, hoping RJ would get home soon. The sooner he was back, the more quickly she could explain the situation to him and hopefully nudge the three Rangers back over the line, from 'distraught insanity' into merely 'run-of-the-mill-crazy'.
Ask and ye shall receive, thought Fran as she heard familiar footsteps take the stairs two at a time. RJ whistled as he walked through the kitchen, stopping to grab an apple, pausing only at the top of the stairs into the main part of the loft. Fran didn't blame him - she had three teenagers clinging to her from all sides, all in various states of grief.
"Nice set of octopi you have for yourself," RJ said, taking a few hesitant steps down the stairs.
"Octopodes actually," Fran said absentmindedly, adjusting Casey so his elbow wasn't digging into her kidney. RJ raised an eyebrow and she hurried to explain. "Greek root, Greek word - and 'pi' is Latin so… yeah," she finished lamely, trailing off. "You guys," she said to the three heads of hair, "RJ's home," she said gently. The trio sprang from their clinging formation around Fran to the stairs, all speaking and shouting at once. RJ continued his journey down the stairs, nodding and looking for all the world as if he had no troubles whatsoever. He let them rant for a moment before holding up a hand for silence. They all waited with bated breath for RJ's declaration of wisdom.
"Fran, explain?" was what they got. Fran sighed and stepped forward.
"The Ranger uniforms are looking a little worn and the kids are worried that…" Fran paused. She actually had no idea what they were worried about. She turned to Casey, expectantly. She was not disappointed.
"The public won't trust us!" He said plaintively.
"And there'll be no respect!" Lily added.
"And the world will end!" Theo said despairingly, clearly having had had time to mull this over, it being the first thing he had contributed to the conversation since watching the tape.
"Yeah, that," Fran finished, with a helpful smile.
RJ cast an appraising look on his desperate Rangers before drawing Fran off to the side. "Your kids are going insane," he said simply and Fran rolled her eyes.
"Oh, so they're only my kids when they're crazy?" she asked, snorting.
RJ's innocent, benevolent smile and "If the shoe fits…" was the only reply.
"When are they your kids?" she asked, folding her arms and quirking an eyebrow.
RJ's smile was brilliant and triumphant now. "When they defeat evil cleverly and don't blow anything up in the shop."
"So… never?" Fran hazarded a guess cheekily, before pulling RJ back towards the fidgeting teens. "So you see RJ," she went on, as if merely continuing a discussion she had already been having, "The biggest problem is, is that your uniform is the worst." RJ raised an eyebrow in disbelief. Fran gestured to the TV, "See for yourself."
Fran was half expecting RJ to lose his mind at the sight of his identity as a Ranger shattered into a million pretty pink pieces - after all, he was a Ranger too and susceptible to everything else Rangers were. RJ merely watched in silence for a moment before gesturing widely and turning to his tutees. "Color is a transient state of being," he said sagely, casting a considering look over the three. "Consider it… growth." RJ smiled, clearly expecting relief from his students.
There was a long pause before the loft exploded in noise. "Fran, what does he mean?" "We're doomed!" "Fran, is he not going to help us?" "Oh god Fran, he's gone insane!" "Fran, we're doomed!" "Fix him Fran, fix him quick!" "Oh god, we're all going to die!"
Fran glared at RJ, who looked rather puzzled. RJ clearly had no problem with being the newest Pink Ranger, but the others apparently did not want to become Dusky Red Ranger, Sea Sick Yellow Ranger and Periwinkle Blue Ranger.
And with good reason too, as far as Fran was concerned. But it was not her job to do anything about it - and just as she began to tell them that, the Rangers all turned their pathetic puppy eyes on her and she froze.
She would not cave, she would not cave, she would not-
"Please Fran?" Casey asked with big, watery brown eyes.
Fran sighed. "Get your uniforms and meet me at the washing machine in five minutes. I'll see what I can do."
Thus the grumbling a week later. Fran was still stuck doing it all, still trapped behind washer and dryer for a few hours every few days.
"Do not be troubled by such fleeting things," RJ intoned from his precarious perch on the dryer and Fran quirked an eyebrow from behind her glasses. "Think of it this way," he said in a much more RJ tone of voice, "you're keeping our kids from going off the deep end-"
"Too late," Fran muttered, but subsided with a smile at RJ's raised eyebrow.
"From going off the deep end - and thus, saving the universe. In your own, very Fran-esque way," RJ finished with a flourish.
"I suppose," Fran murmured, folding a few more reds for Casey's pile. The two sat in companionable silence for a few more minutes before panicked cries from the pizzeria downstairs drew RJ to the store front.
Fran fussed with a few more pieces of laundry, humming absentmindedly to herself.
"Fran by day," she sang under her breath, "She is livin' a secret lifeeee!" She invented her theme song as she packed the laundry basket full. "Fran by night! She will save the world from strifeeeee!" The wicked guitar solo was composed as she delivered the clothes and the drum solo was created on a whim as she tucked each brightly shining Ranger uniform on the top of each pile.
So the life of a pizzeria employee slash laundress wasn't very glamorous. She was saving the universe - one scuff mark at a time.
Not bad for a day's work. Not bad at all.
AN: It started normally - and then… then I no longer had any control over what it did. So, there it is. Please tell me what you think on this one, since I'm intensely unsure. Enjoy!