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Once and Always

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It was awkward, being the team leader of the Veteran Rangers. For one thing, it was Adam's first time actually leading a team. For another, he was a lot older than the rest of his team. Tommy had been Kira's high school teacher. Bridge was technically only three years old in this time. It was almost enough to make him think that he was too old for this.

All of that combined with the result that while Adam was friendly with his team of veterans, he didn't really sit around with them and talk. Which is why it was pure accident that he found himself in the recreation room while the other veterans were interrogating Bridge about the future.

"I understand that you can't tell us about our future," Tori said, although she didn't sound like she entirely agreed with his reasoning. "But you could at least tell us a little bit about yourself."

"There isn't very much to tell," Bridge said, and Adam wasn't really sure why Bridge was doing a handstand up against the wall, but it seemed to make sense for the future-sent Red Ranger, "I'm a Ranger. I have a lovely girlfriend, who is the Yellow Ranger on my team. I'm going to be best man at Jack and Sky's wedding next month. Well, next month future time. The people in New Tech City are really excited that two former Rangers are getting married."

"Isn't Sky the guy you said was the Red Ranger before you?" Kira asked, looking slightly confused.

"Yep," Bridge said. "And Jack was the Red Ranger before he was. He left to go help people in non-Ranger ways. Not that he didn't help people when he was a Ranger, because he did. He helped a lot then. But now he wants to help people in different ways, like the way he did before he became a Ranger."

"Huh," Adam said. The others turned to see him, and Bridge flipped out of the handstand to stand up straight. "I guess things really have changed since I first became a Ranger."

"You aren't going to freak out about it or something?" Kira asked suspiciously.

Adam laughed. "I'm just surprised to see how much things have changed," he said. "I never really thought I'd see the day, although I have hopes for the vote next year. Maybe I'll have the chance now."

The other four Rangers blinked at him, and then comprehension dawned on their faces.

"Wait, you're gay?" Xander asked.

Adam nodded. "Bisexual, actually, but I've been with a guy for a while now." He paused. "It's really weird being out to a Ranger team," he mused. "Of course, I became a Ranger in 1994, so thirteen years makes a big difference." His voice held steady, but he'd had thirteen years to come to terms with everything that had happened back then.

*

Adam had figured out at a fairly young age that he liked boys. The only surprise had been later, when he realized that he liked girls as well. It had been hard, coming out to his friends in Stone Canyon, but it had actually worked out for the best. Rocky liked him too. They were together. It wasn't perfect - neither of their families were really comfortable with it. Adam was fairly sure that the only reason that the harassment from some of their schoolmates never escalated was because their status as black belts was too well known. But they had each other, and they still had the best possible friend in Aisha. As long as they had those things, they could put up with pretty much everything else.

It was only when they moved to Angel Grove and became Rangers that it was a problem. Zordon had told them when he had first met them that he had investigated their backgrounds and seen that they were model citizens. Adam had hoped initially that this meant that he was okay with them, but he wasn't too sure. He didn't want to ask Zordon; he didn't want to have his powers taken away. It was better to hide. Safer.

They hadn't been Rangers very long when the first signs came that it wasn't totally a welcoming environment. A comment here and there, a "they are so gay," at Bulk and Skull, and just a general feeling that if they came out, they would no longer belong. It was difficult to keep lying to their friends, but it was better than the alternative, better than the rejection.

But hiding was hard, and then there were the questions of why they weren't dating anyone. So they made shows of going out with others. There was Jessica for Rocky, and Sabrina for Adam (the fact that she turned out to be a supervillain was completely unrelated) and after that, Sarah.

And then there was Tanya.

The thing was, Adam actually really did love her. He could have been happy with her. It would have been so easy to be with her, to just pretend. He could be a Ranger, and everyone would accept him, and it would be a lie.

It stung, what Rocky said to him, after Adam had made his choice. He was a coward, he was taking the easy way out. He could have chosen Rocky, he could have chosen to tell the truth. But he wasn't willing to face the consequences.

He chose Tanya instead. It cost him, of course. He lost Rocky. He almost convinced himself that it was worth it.

It wasn't that long after that he figured out that he'd never had to lie in the first place.

*

The first member of the Ranger team that Adam came out to was Zordon, although he hadn't actually intended to do so. It was right after Rocky had left the team. Rocky had been planning on leaving the Rangers anyway, ever since the breakup. But now everything was official. They had the Turbo powers now, and Rocky had left town completely.

Zordon had noticed that Adam's emotional state was sub-optimal, as Billy would say.

It hadn't even really been him coming out to Zordon, if he was being honest with himself. Zordon had known. Zordon had always known. All of it, all the lies, it had all been for nothing. He could still have been with Rocky without worrying. He could have had so much more time.

The guilt had been overwhelming. It was only Zordon's last words, the promise that he was and would always be proud of Adam that helped.

Coming out to Tanya was harder. She was furious with him for lying to her, convinced that he'd been cheating on her with Rocky. She hadn't cared at all that he was bisesxual - she loved him, and that was all that should have mattered. Her anger had mostly faded after he'd convinced her that he did care about her, and that she had nothing to worry about.

In the end, they broke up anyway. They had both decided that trying to maintain a long distance relationship without the aid of a teleporter wasn't really for them. Neither of them wanted to try and force it to work. He was just glad that his sexuality had nothing to do with it.

*

"That must have been hard," Bridge said. "Wasn't that the Stonewall riot time? Were you there?"

"I'm not that old," Adam said with a smile. "And things weren't that bad."

The subject dropped soon after, and within a few days the veteran team was all sent home, their job complete. Thrax was defeated, the Overdrive team had their powers back, and the world was saved again. For the moment, at least.

"Hey," Adam said, as he kissed his boyfriend at the door.

"Welcome home," Rocky said with a smile. "You have a good trip?"

"It was nice," Adam agreed. "You know, the usual. Can you believe Tommy got his doctorate?"

"Did you get hit on the head?" Rocky asked.

"Well, yes, but I'm fine." He paused, and took a steadying breath. "I wanted to ask you something," he said nervously. "Will you marry me?"

"You do know we can't," Rocky said in surprise.

"I've got it on really good authority that we will be able to, one day soon," Adam said.

"Well," Rocky said, and then he was quiet for a long moment. "You could do something more romantic than that." He stuck his tongue out at Adam, and Adam rolled his eyes. It didn't matter that they were rapidly approaching thirty, Rocky was never going to grow up. "Of course I'll marry you, Kermit," Rocky teased. "I've waited around for you this long, anyway."