After their first battle as Zeo Rangers, they all went their separate ways for a few hours. Billy, understandably, needed some time alone anyway to process the fact that he was no longer a Ranger and the other boys needed time to figure out what they were going to do now.
Since becoming Rangers their colours had been intrinsically linked to their core identities. Rocky was the fun guy in red, Adam was the quiet, creative one in black and he, Tommy, was...well he was the guy in white. He wasn't really sure how other kids at school saw him but now he was trying to figure out who he was himself.
He was now the Red Ranger. Reds were the de facto leader, or they had been until he'd come along as the White Ranger. Now he was Red and the leader still, so would Rocky see that as a slight since he'd never truly gotten a chance to prove himself as such? He wasn't looking forward to telling Jason either, he just knew the original Red Ranger would feel the need to give him hell and he wasn't really in the mood for that.
He'd managed to keep in touch with Jason far more than Trini and Zack. Though the birthday and Christmas cards were still exchanged with the others, he was under no illusions as to why Jason was still a top priority with him in postcards and phone calls. Lately though they'd been favouring emails now that Billy had shown Tommy how to set up an account, it was a far safer way to discuss Power Ranger issues anyway.
The pull between him and Jason, the pull that refused to allow either one of them to give up on the other, had existed from the moment they'd first met. First they'd hated each other, then they'd constantly butted heads until they'd finally learnt how to work together and practically co-lead the team, no matter who the 'official' leader was out of the two of them. They'd always maintained that, as everyone else believed, it was Zordon's tasks designed to teach them the importance of working together that had resolved the issues between them because it was easier than explaining the frustration and sexual tension that had been between them from the first moment. A tension they'd finally relieved in their own private 'wrestling' sessions that had gone a long way to allowing them to work together.
They'd no longer spent over half of their energy warring with their own feelings and desperately trying to hide from one another and could therefore devote all their energies to the team, thus making them both better Rangers and generally far easier to be around. They knew that it wasn't something most people would 'get' though so they kept it to themselves.
Though Jason hadn't exactly been pleased about Tommy's dating Kim, he never outwardly complained and they'd still spent a lot of time together so Jason's sudden departure had been a shock to Tommy. He hadn't even known Jason, or the others for that matter, had even shown interest in attending the Junior Peace Conference. The last time he'd seen Jason in person, the original Red Ranger had admitted that although wanting to do good at the conference was a factor in his decision to go, not being able to bear seeing Tommy and Kimberly for much longer was a huge deciding factor too. Tommy had felt guilty over it for a long time and though they'd kept a constant correspondence, as ever they'd seemed unable to completely back off from one another, they'd never mentioned the nature of their past relationship.
It would be harder than ever, though, not to dwell about it now that he was wearing red everyday. The only red clothing he owned as it stood were a few things that had been left behind by Jason that had never been collected. Wearing something of Jason's after all this time, especially now he and Kimberly were no longer together, felt meaningful in a way that he couldn't quite define.
He knew it would be more than a little strange to be wearing red everyday, though, he was certain of that.
It had been a no-brainer really, at least Tommy had thought it had been but the other Rangers seemed surprised at his choice of recipient for the Gold Ranger powers. If Billy couldn't take the powers then who better than Jason? He'd already found out only a few weeks before that Jason was returning to Angel Grove and his parent's home now that he'd left the peace conferences and, besides, better someone they knew and trusted when they were waging a war with the most dangerous foes they'd ever faced.
Jason had been on his mind a lot since the colour change, something he'd known was inevitable, but seeing him had been something else entirely. He'd know his mission was urgent, that he had to convince Jason to rejoin the Rangers before the Gold powers were lost forever, but the moment he'd arrived at Jason's parents house and found his old friend inevitably still unpacking he'd forgotten the Rangers and the time sensitive nature of his visit.
Jason's parents weren't home so it had felt utterly natural to just get lost in a tangle of limbs and lips, after the constant and brutal battles against the Machine Empire it felt like a relief to be in Jason's arms again, to hold Jason and lose himself in the forceful duel that was their kisses.
“You're wearing red.” Was the first thing Jason said when they eventually conceded to the need of oxygen. His brow furrowed in concern as he asked “Did something happen to Rocky?”
“What? No, no, we've just all changed colours. Long story, look this is the situation.” He sat up to explain what had been happening to Jason hastily, acutely aware of Jason's fingertips lightly tracing circles over his hip gently.
“So, I guess what I'm saying is,” Tommy summarised, wetting his lips nervously. “Do you want to come back?” He could feel a nervous knot in his stomach as he waited for Jason to react. He'd wanted the other teen back in his life for a long time but was Jason ready for it?
Finally, Jason's face split into a grin and he pecked a final kiss to Tommy's lips before scrambling to his feet.
“Let's do this.”
After the battle against Mondo's creatures, it had felt natural to head to Ernie's to work out together. It was almost like the past two years hadn't happened and Jason had never left the team. They fought the monsters, they killed the monsters, they went to Ernie's.
There were distinct differences though and not just the colours they were wearing, they were both a little older and a little wiser about themselves and what was between them. It wasn't something to start screaming to the rafters about just yet but it was something worth thinking about seriously rather than keeping as a dirty little secret to niggle at and destroy them both.
“Well buddy, how does it feel to be back?” He asked as Jason eased up on the punch bag. Since the bar and gym was pretty busy, he knew he had to be careful in how he spoke but he also knew Jason would get any coded references he might make. Jason had always just gotten him, from the very beginning.
“It feels good man,” Jason had a grin in place that Tommy could feel he was matching, this time was a new beginning, a good beginning for the both of them and the potential of it, the possibilities were just too damn exciting. They could be anything this time around. “I mean we did a lot of good at the Peace Conferences but I've gotta be honest with you. I was beginning to miss this place.”
Jason's gaze darted around as he spoke, finally meeting Tommy's again on the word 'miss'. It didn't take a genius to figure out that Jason was saying, in his own careful and guarded way 'I missed you'.
“Yeah, we missed you too.” I missed you too, I was an idiot.
They shared a private grin and laugh, Tommy feeling confident in the knowledge that all was finally forgiven as they washed the slate clean. He got back into stance, holding onto the punch bag but Jason didn't punch, not really, he just tapped his fists lightly as he looked around again. He had more on his mind, clearly.
“You know there's uh, there's something I want you to know, man.” He started, looking so serious that Tommy straightened again nervously. Was this the moment Jason admitted that he had his own boyfriend or girlfriend stashed away somewhere that he wouldn't break up with just for Tommy? Was it time for payback?
Jason stared downwards then at the punch bag before he finally found his words and met Tommy's gaze again.
“Leaving was a really tough decision for me.” Jason began and Tommy swallowed hard as he remembered their conversation that terrible afternoon, how awful he'd felt watching Jason walk out of the door all because he couldn't deny the pull he'd felt to Kimberly. “But I'll tell you what made it cool.”
Tommy's own eyes, that had failed to meet Jason's as he'd mentally replayed their heated and angry goodbye, met Jason's once more as he tried to understand what had been cool about their break up.
Break up. There was no other word for it though for a long time he'd denied to himself that that was what it had been.
“I knew I was leaving the Rangers in good hands, I mean with you as their leader.” Jason explained and Tommy smiled, thanking him. They'd spent so long butting heads but perhaps they had really matured enough to genuinely respect one another as Rangers, as leaders and, well, in other ways too. Two years had been a long time and he couldn't remember ever being so genuinely happy and relaxed in Jason's company before, even as they started to open up to one another.
“But, I don't want you to think that I'm like trying to put things back to the way they were before I left.”
Tommy frowned slightly as he processed the words that could be taken in so many different ways depending on what exactly Jason meant.
No, he shook his head a little to himself, this wasn't Jason saying he didn't want to get back together. It couldn't be. This was Jason just trying to make sure he wasn't feeling threatened in his position as leader, this was Jason trying to make sure they didn't repeat past mistakes.
“Listen, I mean the Power Rangers are a team. No one's more or less important than anyone else.” he said and hoped, just hoped that Jason hadn't meant the other thing.
Finally Jason smiled and Tommy had to remind himself they were in public and firmly in the closet so kissing that gorgeous smile really wouldn't be a good idea right now.
“You're right man, it's good to be back bro.” Jason nodded, looking around once more before they resumed training.
In too good a mood to punch the bag for long, they were soon leaving the mats and heading up towards the bar. It was nearly closing, there was barely anyone there and Ernie was in the back for some reason so they felt more comfortable than they usual would in standing very close together at the bar.
“I believe this is mine.” Jason's smile was very nearly a smirk as he ran a finger over the red muscle shirt Tommy had been wearing for training.
“Well, play your cards right and it'll be back on your bedroom floor tonight.” Tommy replied low in his ear before pulling away and placing his order with Ernie, who'd just reappeared.
He was grinning from ear to ear as he heard Jason chuckling behind him. Tommy was king of second chances and he was determined not to screw this one up.