A/N: For the purpose of this story, TJ and Rocky apparently hang out with each other in Rocky's dorm room. I don't know why, they just do.
Adjusting to Blue
"Blue!" Sky exclaimed to himself, furious at the injustice of it all. "Blue! Blue's a terrible color. Everyone knows I'm supposed to be the Red Ranger. Red. Not Blue." He kicked the side of his bed for emphasis, and glared at the hideous paint on his walls. Someone had come in and redecorated while he was away, matching the color of his room to the color of his suit—as if he needed a reminder.
What was almost worse than the Red Ranger powers being given to someone else was that they had been given to Jack, of all people. Jack the walking Robin Hood cliché. "What sort of leadership skills could he possibly have, anyway?" Sky grumbled. "Maybe if we need to steal something from Grumm, sure, but everyone knows that I'm the most qualified cadet." It was true: he had consistently achieved the highest scores in the Academy's tests. Well, except for the ability to read people; but Bridge had the obvious advantage there, so that didn't count.
And now, instead of being the team leader like he was supposed to be, Sky Tate was going to have to take orders from a petty criminal.
"All right, that does it," he growled. There was no way that Cruger was serious about this. It had to be a test. A test to see whether he could handle the utmost level of annoyance without snapping. Sky strode to the door, ready to confront Cruger and demand that the commander stop fooling around. The fate of the world was at stake; it couldn't be left in the hands of someone who hadn't even been at the Academy a week.
He was reaching out for the door when there was a bright flash, and suddenly his room disappeared.
"What the—" he began, but he didn't have time to finish before the light disappeared and he realized that his surroundings had completely changed.
He was in a room, which could have been more aptly described as a pigsty. The bed was unmade, there were magazines and papers everywhere, and… was that a pizza crust?
Sky was so busy gaping in horror at the insides of what could only be a civilian bedroom, when he realized that he wasn't alone. The two occupants—one white, the other black; both wearing blue (couldn't he go a single moment without seeing it?)—were staring at him in astonishment.
Sky assessed the situation. He had no idea where he was. He could either be in a dwelling a few hundred yards away from SPD headquarters, or he could be in another country. Best to pull rank and insist upon their cooperation.
Clearing his throat, he pointed at his badge and announced, "SPD Blue Ranger, B Squad. Gentlemen, I need your full—"
"Blue Ranger, huh?" the black one said, raising an eyebrow.
"Yes, Blue Ranger," Sky snapped. "And you would do well to show some respect—"
"Well, the funny thing is," the white one interrupted, much to Sky's irritation. "we're Blue Rangers, too."
That stopped Sky in his tracks, and he looked suspiciously at the two men. "You're too young to be Rangers," he pointed out. He wasn't much older than them, but they seemed to be no more than college students. Certainly not Ranger material. Decades ago, there had been teenage Rangers—but times had changed, and for the better.
"Yeah, try telling that to my twelve-year-old replacement," the white one cracked, before getting to his feet and holding out his hand. "I'm Rocky, Zeo Ranger Blue. Ex-Red Ranger, too."
"And I'm TJ, Space Blue," the black one said. "Also an ex-Red Ranger."
Sky's mouth dropped open. "Rocky DeSantos?" he echoed, vaguely remembering that he was supposed to be shaking hands with the guy. He did so, hardly aware of his actions. "Second Red Ranger ever? And Theodore Jay Jarvis Johnson, the Red Turbo Ranger?"
He had memorized all of the Red Rangers to date, of course. He knew that Rocky had replaced the original Red Ranger, Jason Lee Scott, and that he had eventually been demoted to Blue Ranger status so that Tommy Oliver could assume the Red Zeo Ranger powers. Then there was Theodore, who had led the Turbo team and was demoted to Blue when his team joined forces with Andros—but he had still managed to earn fame as a member of the first Ranger team to go public. This had been almost three decades ago, though, so these guys should have been in their late forties…
Oh, hell no.
Sky's gazed focused on the textbooks piled up on the desk, the backpack in the corner, and the ping pong table folded up behind the bed. He was definitely in a college dorm room, which meant that either Rocky or TJ—or both—were in college. Which meant that (he did some quick calculations in his head) it was quite possibly 1998.
He pinched himself, just to make sure he wasn't dreaming. He wasn't.
"That would be us," Theodore confirmed, drawing him out of his horrified thoughts. "But, please, call me TJ."
"And we're Blue now," Rocky pointed out. "Like you. Are you from another planet?"
"No," Sky answered quickly. "I'm"—he gritted his teeth at how cheesy he sounded—"from the future."
Contrary to all expectations, his declaration didn't seem to faze either Rocky or TJ. "Huh," Rocky said. "Like that time Rita and Zedd sent us back in time… Except you're not a kid…"
Sky had no idea what he was talking about. "I don't know how I got here," he admitted, running his fingers through his hair. "One minute, I was in my room; the next…" He gestured around.
"Well, since you're here," TJ said, "pizza?"
And so it was that Sky Tate found himself eating pepperoni pizza and bitching about being the Blue Ranger to two former Blue Rangers.
"I was always supposed to be the Red Ranger," he insisted at the end of his tirade. "Not the Blue one!"
"Man, you need to chill," TJ told him. "Look, I get it: when we joined Andros, at first it did kind of feel like I was getting demoted. But just because you're the Blue Ranger, that doesn't mean that you're any less capable."
"Well, technically it does," Sky pointed out. "The Red Ranger is the highest-ranked SPD officer behind the commander. Therefore, the Red Ranger is the best."
"If it helps, being Red doesn't always mean that you're the best or the leader," Rocky replied. "Even though I replaced Jason, Tommy was in charge at that point and I never got to lead the team into battle. Yeah, it felt weird—and, yeah, sometimes I resented him for it—but, at the same time, I'm glad it worked out that way. Getting the Blue Zeo powers was kind of a relief, to be honest."
Sky resisted the urge to point out that Rocky clearly wasn't leader material, whereas he himself most definitely was.
"Look at it as an opportunity," TJ advised. "Use your strengths. Find another way to contribute to the team. Jack's going to need all the help he can get. You're all going to have to work together to defeat Grumm."
"I just don't get why I have to be the Blue Ranger," Sky persisted. "Jack's not a leader. He doesn't know how anything works at SPD, never mind—"
"Then show him," TJ replied simply. "God knows how much we had to teach Andros about teamwork, considering he didn't want any of us helping him in the first place, but it worked out in the end and the team was stronger for it."
"It's more than that," Sky said, instinctively wanting to shoot down any proposal that would accommodate Jack being the Red Ranger. "He just doesn't have what it takes to be a leader." The retort sounded childish and petulant, even to himself.
"Believe me, I know what it's like to work with someone who doesn't seem at all like they should be in charge of a Ranger team," Rocky told him. "As much as I love Tommy, the guy is the most absent-minded person I've ever met. Half the time he forgot to wear his communicator, so we'd wind up fighting most of the battle without him. And he had the worst hero complex ever—he'd always rush out to fight the monster himself, even though the rest of us were right there behind him. In spite of all that, though, he turned out to be a good leader.
"I'm not going to pretend there weren't times when I thought it wasn't fair, when I got annoyed that—even though I was the Red Ranger—I wasn't in charge and was never going to be. But when it comes to Ranger powers, I have a feeling that everything happens for a reason. And not because you're any less of a Ranger than Jack—but because you're meant to be Blue, at least for now," Rocky said.
"Don't think of it as a demotion," TJ added. "Your team's counting on you to be there for them, even if you don't agree with the person they put in charge. Are you going to keep on resenting Jack, or are you going to set aside your feelings and concentrate on saving the world?"
When TJ put it like that… Sky bit his lip, the faint beginnings of embarrassment creeping up on him. He was being selfish. Even if he wasn't the Red Ranger, he was still a Ranger. And, as a Ranger, his first and foremost duty was to protect Earth.
"Besides," Rocky said, "blue is definitely your color."
Sky looked down at the blue t-shirt he had grudgingly put on that day, and recalled that Syd had complimented him on it during breakfast. "It brings out your eyes," she had said defensively when he glowered at her.
"You think?" he asked Rocky, in spite of himself.
"Definitely," Rocky confirmed, sharing a grin with TJ. "Trust me, the ladies will love it." He and TJ high-fived each other.
One last objection, however—and the one which weighed most heavily on Sky's mind—had to be voiced. "I was supposed to follow in my dad's footsteps," he said glumly, thinking of the photo in his room: his father, proudly wearing his Red Ranger uniform, smiling confidently at the camera. Sky had kept it with him his entire time at the Academy, waiting until the moment when he could finally say that he had lived up to his father's legacy.
"You are following in his footsteps," TJ said. "You're a Power Ranger. You're protecting the earth. Your dad'll be proud of you, no matter what color."
"Absolutely," Rocky agreed. "Besides, the Red Ranger doesn't have a monopoly on being a badass. There's plenty of heroics to go around."
Sky couldn't help it: he chuckled. "Thanks," he told the two Rangers. "You're right."
Rocky beamed. "We know," he said simply.
"Hey," TJ began, frowning at Sky—"you're glowing."
Sky glanced down and saw that a faint white light was emanating from him, growing stronger by the second. "I think it's time for me to head back," he announced, feeling a small pang of regret: he would have liked to stay longer, to have the chance to get to know his predecessors.
"Look us up in the future," Rocky urged him. "We'll have real food, next time."
"Good luck," TJ said, waving.
There was a blinding flash of light, and a moment later Sky was gone.
"He'll be all right," Rocky predicted.