make every moment come alive - Chapter One

It was hardly a secret that Rocky hated Jason when he came back.

Okay, no. No, he didn't.

Hate was one hundred percent the wrong word to use here. He was jealous or envious, whatever was the correct word here. It was as simple as that.

He didn't know Jason or the others that well, actually. Tommy, Billy and Kim—well, when she was still around—didn't treat him, Adam and Aisha like outsiders once they were rangers. Far from it, they treated them like they were also lifelong friends of theirs. But, they also didn't hide the fact that they missed their old friends and 'comrades'. It took some time to gel together technique-wise. You didn't have to have Billy's smarts to see that they wished that the three had the experience that their past teammates had.

So, when Jason came back with Tommy that one day... Rocky didn't know how to feel. So much was changing. Aisha was gone and Tanya was here. Billy wasn't a ranger anymore and here he was, wearing the blond's colours which he still wasn't quite used to. And now here was Jason, the guy he replaced.

Jason Lee Scott, the original leader of the team. The original Red Ranger.

And then there was Rocky... the other guy. The other guy that had a huge pair of shoes to fill because Jason was the best! Jason was a great leader, Jason is so talented, Jason is so good-looking, Jason did this, this and this!

All Rocky could do was to tell the team to put their Zords together, after Tommy told him to. Now he didn't even do that.

What exactly did he bring to the team?

That was the question that repeated itself over and over in his mind. It was like a scratched up CD stuck on a song you don't particularly like.

With a sigh, Rocky got out of bed.

'Whatever. '

He can get over it, or mope about it on the way to the Youth Center and push it to the back of his head like always. Working out might be the right way to clear his mind; putting all your energy into something productive for once or something along that line. If that didn't work... well, Ernie's food made ignoring the bad things in life way easier anyway. Even if it was just for a few hours. Once the thought of sinking his teeth into one of Ernie's burgers came to mind—wait. What was he sad about again?

Any lingering insecure thoughts drifted further and further away from him the closer he got to The Youth Center. By the time he was there, the only things he cared about were getting a good sweat going on and some food in him. He felt like skipping to the change rooms and onto the gym floor. But, he restrained himself. By the time he got into the floor, that feeling was snuffed out by what he saw.

Adam sparring with Jason.

Jason dodged Adam's lightning strikes like it was a breeze. He looked almost graceful with every powerful movement he countered with. It was like a movie. Every other kick or dodge or him jumping back onto his feet were in slow motion. His short hair managing to get tousled in just the right way. Beads of sweat glistening in the fluorescent lights. The flashes of danger in his focused and steady gaze with the smallest hint of a smile when Adam left an opening.

It was a lot.

Something twisted inside Rocky's gut as a spark, reminding him of a somehow pleasant static shock to the hair, shot in his chest. Inspiration, maybe? It kinda reminded him of when he first met Penny. Her moves were electric. Her passion and drive could be felt for miles around, okay, he might've been exaggerating there, but, watching her spar that day made him want to improve. It got his blood pumping. It made his mind and heart soar, especially once he got to practice his moves... outside of a battle with the Cogs anyway.

Wait. Why did he feel that way seeing Jason—

The sound of uproarious applause from the Youth Center's patrons interrupted his thoughts. Adam and Jason bowed.

"Great match, man," Adam said with a smile.

"You too," said Jason, shooting back his own smile and a wink.

Rocky's stomach twisted itself again. Okay, he was probably just hungry. But, he needed to get a spar in as soon as possible. Hopefully one half as impressive as Jason apparently was. He stepped in front of the person next to him, only just now realizing it was Tommy, and nudged him in the shoulder.

"Hey, you up for a," he started, raising his hands up to a joking block. "A lil' sparring?"

Tommy winced. "Sorry, I mean, I would but... Man, but, uh, I was gonna go up against Jason."

Rocky frowned. "Uh, that's okay."

"Maybe later, eh?"

"S-sure..." He said, trying not to huff as he made his way to the cafe area. He glanced behind him, stomach fluttering and churning as he saw Jason already getting to work. He felt an arm grab his shoulder and two bodies slide up next to him.

'Oh, great.'

"Hey! Look! They're fighting!" Skull squawked, punctuating his obvious statement with a snap of the gum he was perpetually chewing.

"No, you numbskull! They're sparring!" Bulk said smugly, loosening his tie for extra effect.

Skull rolled his eyes. "Sparring... shwarmming, whatever," he mumbled before slapping his hand on Rocky's shoulder again and leaning in close. "Really takes me back to the good ol' days... Hey, Bulkie, d'ya think that Ol' Rocko here is... being replaced!?"

"Ooooh, Jason looks pretty good too, doesn't he? He must work out—oooh, look at those pecs! No wonder Rocky's gonna get the shaft soon with how crowded it is around here, huh?"

They both laughed.

Rocky spun on his heel, ripping himself from Skull's grip like wet paper. He raised a fist and opened his mouth to spew venom the blazing anger wanted him to say, making the other grin momentarily. He took a deep breath, settling for glaring at him with his hand still in the air, daring him to just try to say another word. He shouldn't be like this. He already went too far by instinctively wanting to strike him, what would a small threat do?

That wasn't enough to make the duo buy it, however. As he stomped off to the bar, he tried to ignore their cackling. Sighing, he gripped the back of one of the empty chairs, yanked it away from the table and dropped himself in it. "Ernie, gimme a juice—extra beets."

"Ya got it, Rocky!"

Huffing, he put his chin in his hand to sulk and only now noticed that he was sitting at someone else's table; Billy's. The sadly unfamiliar sight of his old teammate was enough to distract him from Jason and the emotions duking it out inside.

"You all right, Rock?" Billy asked gently.

"O-oh," he stammered as he glanced from Billy's face to Jason giving Tommy a roundhouse kick. That static feeling again. "Yeah, I'm fine—what are you doing here?"

"I have to get out of the Command Center sometimes... Starting to feel like I lived there," Billy muttered.

"I, uh, I thought you did," Rocky said with a short laugh.

Billy rolled his eyes before staring into the distance. Rocky followed his gaze, falling onto Jason and Tommy yet again. He swallowed, grateful that Ernie just now gave him his drink.

"Jason's teaching me a new kata if you must know. I'll still be here to talk afterwards though... if you need it," the blond said before leaving the table.

The knife plunged itself deeper into Rocky's chest, twisting as he saw Jason's eyes light up at the sight of Billy.

'If he has enough time for everyone, why hasn't he done anything with me? Wait, what do I care?'

He groaned, slumping in his seat.

The rest of the day had been a disaster, in Rocky's eyes. Maybe more than it usually was, thanks to the Machine Empire and King Mondo's plots that destroyed parts of the city. It was all because of him. If he hadn't tried to take King Mondo on himself... if he had swallowed his pride and whatever else was going on and called his friends for back up in the desert... maybe they could've avoided the damage. Or at least, gotten the Super Zeo Megazord in order sooner.

Rocky huffed, laying his arm across his face as he sulked in his room for what felt like the dozenth time that week. He really messed things up. The worst part of it all was Bulk and Skull's words continuing to ring in his head.

"They're probably planning my replacement any minute," he muttered as he rolled onto his side. The team tried to reassure him that everything was fine. Tried being the key word here. He was 'an important member of the team and they'd never replace him'. The worst part of it all was Jason even taking the time to talk to him about it, saying he wasn't out to steal his spot or anything.

"Rocky! One of your friends are at the door!" His mother called from downstairs.

'What? Who could that be?' He couldn't help but think. Usually his friends called or irresponsibly used the communicator if they were desperate to get a hold of each other if they needed him. Plus, if it was Adam, the most likely candidate, she would've just said so. Was it Tanya? Or Tommy? He thought that she would've known them by now or something.

"Rocky!" She screamed louder this time.

"C-coming!" He shouted in response, throwing himself off of the bed and hammering down the hallway and stairs. His mom had left the door open and left the room, most likely to go back to her soaps. Despite ruling out that it couldn't have been Adam earlier, he still expected it to be him.

It wasn't.

"Hey," Jason said cooly as he scratched the back of his head.

Rocky blinked. That fluttering feeling in his stomach again. "Oh, hey. Uh... Wanna come in?" He wasn't really sure what to do but he knew better than to just leave his sort-of-friend hanging.

Jason nodded, a small smile appearing on his lips before stepping inside. "Sorry that I just..."

"N-no, it's fine. Surprised you knew where I lived, honestly."

"Adam told me after that day, hope that's alright."

Rocky sucked his teeth, running a hand through his short hair. "Yeah, why wouldn't it be? Uhh... D'ya want a drink or something?" He didn't even wait for a response before heading off into the kitchen with Jason following after him. "So... what brings you here?" He asked as he cracked open the fridge and fished out two cans of Coke for them both. His eyes glazed over as the sight of the other smiling appreciatively at him when given the drink.

"I, uh, I guess I'm still worried about you."

A pang of something struck inside his chest as heat rose to his face. "Oh, well, you don't need to—"

"I mean, don't take this as me lecturing you or anything, I just know that self-doubt just doesn't go away like that. And, uh, I know I said I was your friend but..."

'But what...?'

"I guess it's just, it's easy for me to say that on my end but if you felt the way you did... Like needing to prove yourself or something. This ain't me lecturing you—I already said that," Jason said with a light laugh. He took a sip of his drink, Rocky's eyes being drawn to the smooth movements of his throat for some reason. "I mean. Okay, I'm not the best with... feelings. Or talking about them really. I'm more used to listening than anything, that's probably why me 'n' Trini got along so well... Kinda the same."

Rocky shrugged lightly, leaning against the counter. "I kinda feel you there. I dunno if you remember her—"

"Aisha, right?"

Rocky blinked. His own mom didn't even remember Aisha—Tanya sort of taking her spot in everyone's memories, it seemed like. "Y-yeah, like... Me and her were tight, y'know. Like this," he said as he clasped his hands tightly together. "Adam too, of course, but, I only have two hands."

Jason snorted and gave him a nod.

"Adam's quieter than the both of us, it kinda balanced us out, y'know? But Aisha's smarter than me, nicer too, I think."

"You're a nice guy too, man."

'Good looking and a good guy, bad liar though, good grief.' Rocky rolled his eyes. "What I'm trying to say is... Aisha and me were more talkative and kinda on the same wavelength. Adam too, in a different way. So, I get what you mean with Trini. Getting along with your girl friend—like, friend that's a girl. Not... I mean. Well, I dunno if she was your girlfriend—"

Jason outright laughed at that. "Nah, we weren't like that. I guess... if she asked..." A jolt ran through Rocky's chest that made his stomach twist itself into pretzel shapes. "I wouldn't say no. I honestly thought Aisha was dating—"

"N-no. Again... I, uh, I feel you there too. I liked Aisha, a lot, but, friendship. Like, childhood stuff, I didn't wanna ruin that... Unless she made the first move and asked—Anyways. I'm, uh, not the greatest at feelings either. She'd have to poke and prod at me for hours to finally get me to talk about what's bothering me. I dunno, whatever."

Jason grabbed his shoulder and gave him a soft shake. "Reds and yellows, right?"

Rocky couldn't help but snort at that. "Sounds like it... Look, even if I'm not the best at it, like I said, I don't think I was honest about why I did what I did. I guess you already know why but...You're so good at everything. We didn't really know each other before your peace conference or whatever, I know, but those guys would reminisce about you and the others a lot.

"As cool as it was being Red, like before I got into it, we all kinda knew Red was the leader, y'know? Just from what we heard and seen. It was cool, even if I wasn't the actual leader, but this voice at the back of my head... 'Why me?' Why not Kim or Billy, who where on the team longer, for red? Hell, why not Adam or Aisha—they both have good heads on their shoulders. Anyone but me would've been a better... Second-in-command? Whatever. I guess... Even back then, I had a lot to live up to. The thoughts kinda went away when we got the Zeo Powers and I was Blue now. I wasn't the leader or second-in-command or anything. Kind of... a relief. Nothing for me to live up to—well, Billy, I guess, but...

"Christ, I got off track. So, you, the guy whose shoes I had to try to fill, showing up and then getting these fancy powers... I guess those feelings came back, and they're worse than before. Everyone's been focused on you and even if part of me is fine with not being in the spotlight, I still..."

"I think I gotcha, man. I, uh, I don't think I'm good at everything. I can't do laundry right, or dress right according to Kim when she was here." They both shared a laugh at that. "I can't really handle attention to be honest, I don't mind helping people so that's why I taught so many classes and stuff. That's the only thing that made being Red bearable, in my eyes. Anyway... I'm sorry that I ever made you feel like you're not good enough. You're more than that. Even if it was kinda a boneheaded move fighting King Mondo on your own, it was wicked brave of you. I'm, ah, I'm sorry I drove you to that point."

Rocky smiled, lifting up his Coke. "Don't be."

Jason mirrored the motion before Rocky leaned forward to clink his can with his. As they shared yet another laugh, Rocky felt warm inside his chest.

Jason wasn't so bad. It was going to be okay.