Disclaimer: I own nothing. Does anyone truly do though? The
law means nothing, politics too. Characters are borrowed from some executive
type but I will make them into what I want! This is the anti-disclaimer!
Author's note: First REAL romance fic for me (I don't know how some people considered "Irony" one!) This one is shorter and no deaths much to my own surprise. Just a little thing between two of my favorite and IMHO much underused characters (and one very much misused one). Not to mention something very few fic authors have tried to do, a heart to heart discussion between two rangers from completely different series. All issues/gripes/death threats/'I should never write another fanfic again' go directly to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org all compliments go to the same but please indicate it in the topic. Enough of my stupidity for now.
Timeline: PRiS just after "There's Always a Chance"
T.J looked over at Cassie. For some reason she seemed beautiful first thing in the morning shoveling cereal into her mouth. He never understood it. She wasn't a supermodel, just average Cassandra. She was pretty, not gorgeous. But she wasn't fake like all the other girls. She wasn't concerned with superficial matters like appearance; sure she cared, but it was enough for her to just look like herself. T.J. Loved that, what put her above Ashley and all the other girls he'd met. Even her name was far nice, not too common but still one that's been heard of. Nobody was like her at all, yet what was wrong?
It was that Phantom Ranger. It wasn't exactly fair. He saw her first on that bus. He still was around everyday, just down the hall from her and still he couldn't win. Her mind was always on him. What was there to him? He was just mysterious, that's it. From what he could tell, there was no sense of humor, no character, just someone hoping to get his job done and get the heck away as quickly as possible. A no-nonsense type. T.J. knew that he was better. At least he would let her get to know him. He wanted that. He wouldn't disappear without saying a word to her or hide anything from her over time.
He noticed Andros walk into the room, being greeted with a peck on the lips from Ashley. T.J. wondered how it happened. Andros was by far the easiest person to speak to and was just plain rude half of the time. He thought that he had to be the most friendly of all the guys, yet why didn't girls ever seem to come to him just like that. Last time he checked he wasn't ugly by any means, and he had plenty of friends, but still nothing ever seemed to come up in his favor.
Carlos was still sleeping. He was the only other 'single' one on the team, although by his own fault. Carlos admitted he just wasn't interested in dating with the circumstances they were in. T.J. understood that; being a ranger was never an easy way to maintain a girlfriend or any type of social life for that matter. He heard from his predecessors the same argument. But still, there was nothing to lose in trying with someone on the team.
"Teej, Earth to T.J," Cassie teased, flicking a cereal 'O' across the table from where they sat. She laughed at the response, slightly dazed while shaking his head.
T.J. casually flicked off the cereal from his uniform shirt. He wondered if the Phantom Ranger would tolerate such teasing. Would it be fine if Cassie acted like Cassie? She was playful. He could accept it, and even adore that. Not every woman had the guts to risk a food fight just because her guy friend was daydreaming and about to put his face into his breakfast. "You're absolutely goofy girl, you know that?" he remarked. How he just wished to say something else.
"Hey, Andros, I was wondering since Astronema has been leaving us alone lately, maybe we can hang out today." Ashley spoke to Andros, "Maybe see about getting you a pair of swimming trunks."
Andros paled, "No!" he insisted "I don't swim! Not to mention those outfits you wear."
"Come on!" Ashley insisted, pulling him by the arm. "It'll be fun. I know a lot of things we can do!" She said, her tone of voice almost teasing him. She was a temptress at times, and stubborn as all heck when it came down to something she really wanted to do.
Andros caved in as he allowed himself to be dragged along, receiving a sympathetic glance from T.J. He felt sorry for the guy at times when Ashley got in one of those moods and was grateful for a moment he didn't have to go through with it. Still, he knew Cassie wasn't like that at all. She never tried to drag anyone to the mall, heck, she hated it herself. She rather hit a music store or a thrift shop. A little better than most girls and shopping.
Cassie laughed at the entire exchange. How many times did she do that to him she couldn't count. "There they go again."
"Andros has my sympathies." T.J. replied.
"Have to admit, it's kinda cute how they do that. You know he doesn't mind that much." Cassie added.
T.J. nodded. He though maybe the two of them could hang out together and maybe he wouldn't be so nervous about asking her. "Cassie, what are you doing today?"
"Oh, I'm busy helping my Grandmother with a few things. Some of my family's coming next week so I promised I would help her get things organized." Cassie replied cheerfully as she abandoned the food left on her plate and left as well.
"Alpha came in shortly after Cassie, Andros and Ashley had left. "Jeez, am I the waiter here? If so they could at least leave a tip." He complained as he noticed the plates and silverware still laying on the table. "First Carlos gets the flu now the hijinks of the two star-crossed lovers and a family reunion to top it all off. You kids have a lot more to do nowadays!"
"Carlos is sick?" T.J. asked.
"Aw, it's nothing. Just the flu. He'll be up and about in no time." Alpha confirmed.
T.J. frowned. He was hoping to use the solitude as an opportunity to talk with Carlos about his feelings. He was the only one who knew how he felt. And both of them knew about the issues with the Phantom Ranger. He thought about who else he could talk to. His parents weren't exactly pleased with his recent decision as far as living in space. And he really didn't have any friends he could speak with openly. Then he got an idea of someone who had about as much luck as he did with dating.
"Alpha, I'm going to Earth today. I'll see ya later." he said rushing out of the kitchen leaving his plate abandoned on the table right after Alpha had cleaned up the remnants of the other rangers' breakfasts.
T.J. looked at the address scribbled on the piece of notebook paper for about the sixteenth time in fifteen minutes. He still didn't know the streets of Angel Grove all that well. Not to mention this was the far outer portion of town. Streets had a tendency to wind around into themselves and cut off into dead ends. There weren't that many houses.
"Okay, 516." T.J. mumbled to himself, "God, I hope this is right." he continued as he made his way over to the door and pushed the doorbell.
"Coming!" a voice could barely be heard from inside the house. In another minute or so the door opened. "T.J.! What are you doing here?"
"Hey, Adam." T.J. replied.
"Come in!" Adam insisted. He quickly noted the expression on the blue ranger's face and figured whatever caused it was the reason why he was there in the first place.
T.J. took a look around the living room. It was nice, simple yet really nice. "This is a nice place."
"My parents have no taste actually. I actually do most of the decorating." Adam said without any emotion. "Since I'm in town for a couple weeks it looks better than it had."
"Still...." T.J. said.
"Okay, why'd you come here?" Adam asked. "I know something's wrong."
T.J. was taken slightly off at this. He didn't think he was that obvious, but for someone he didn't know all that well to... "Hey, how'd you find out.
"Let's put it this way. Over three years and having met every single ranger up to this point, I can tell. Tommy gave the best lesson in reading someone's face." He said with a slight laugh.
"The problem is Cassie." T.J. admitted, feeling like he was going to blush just at mentioning the name.
"Okay, is it a crush, she piss you off or something involving ranger duties."
"I guess all of the above. You see, ever since this phantom ranger guy has shown up, girl's been gaga over him. Thing is he shows up when he pleases refuses to say a word to us most of the time and disappears until he feels like showing up again. Still, Cassie is just so caught up with him that her mind is on him twenty-four seven. I want to ask her out but I can't if she's like this." T.J. explained.
"Hmmm..." Adam thought, "Honestly I have had absolutely no luck with dating either."
"What about you and Tanya?" T.J. wondered, he figured before that they were a couple. They were certainly too close to just be friends.
"That is an odd situation in itself. You see, we did like one another from the beginning. Both of us waited for the other to make the first move. We didn't even try to date until... a couple weeks after we graduated from high school. Then she got this job in New York, and me in L.A. We figured we would still be friends but unless one of us moves across the country, that's all we could be."
"That sucks." T.J. remarked. "Why did you guys.... you know, before."
"Too shy. Same reason you are afraid to ask Cassie. Tanya was at first with a guy named Shawn. They broke up but I figured she still liked him so I left it alone. Not to mention I had never dated before didn't help." Adam explained.
"Should I bother? I mean, what if she says no?" T.J. asked.
"There's always that chance, but you never know. I would say don't make that same mistake and wait until you have no time left with her. You know you guys aren't going to be rangers forever. Just go up and do it. If she says no, then just be friends, she could say yes. You never know." Adam advised.
"Of course you wouldn't be the one made look like an idiot. I mean, Every time I try with a girl, she either already has a boyfriend or she just isn't interested or I'm just not her type...." T.J. said being cut off.
"The let's just be friends, or the 'you're too much like my little brother. Am I nailing the excuses right?" Adam finished listing off excuses.
"So, they gave you the same thing?" T.J. asked.
"No." Adam said, "Those are all the nicer ones Rocky has gotten. I didn't have the guts then or now to go and ask a girl out."
"Oh. Who's Rocky?" T.J. asked.
"Best friend. He was a ranger for awhile but he was always impulsive. He managed to fall out of a ring during pracice for this competition and cracked his spine. He's lucky is isn't paralyzed but he wasn't exactly pleased with having to quit. He was one of the most popular guys through high school, a jock, always was a goofball, you know, what they tend to be like; and the girls loved that for the most part, just the wrong ones though." Adam said, trying to explain someone he knew for most of his life quickly.
"Huh, so everyone gets rejected sometime." T.J. commented.
"Sure, even the popular ones get it. Hell, I was friends with some of them. But, like I said you should try or else you never know and you find yourself kicking yourself in the rear for the rest of your life." Adam continued. "Cassie might not have thought about it before or she's waiting for someone else to make the first move."
"I doubt it." T.J. replied. Her mind is constantly on Phantom Ranger. It is so frustrating." T.J. then began to make fun of her antics "She actually talks to the mirror sometimes, 'Phantom, maybe we should take off that helmet so I can see what type of kisser you are.' or 'Next time you're going to stay here with me so we can get to know each other.'"
Adam groaned and made a very exaggerated expression on his face. He never understood girls who got like that and didn't care for it. If he ever caught Tanya doing that to him, he would've cracked up right there. "Okay, no offense but why?"
T.J. laughed as well, "I don't know, but when she acts normal she's just so cool. Really independent, doesn't care what anyone thinks about her. That's what I love about her."
"Tell her just that."
"What?" T.J. replied.
"What you just said. Tell her what you love about her. Girls ALWAYS love to hear things like that. I think it is mandatory that you think your girlfriend is above everything, or else they will get so mad you won't be able to say the wrong thing for a week." Adam answered.
"Why is that?" T.J. wondered.
Adam shrugged his shoulders, "I have been trying for years. There is no answer. Funny thing is to listen to how the female population categorizes guys. Each side has it." He then began to wince and hold his temple.
"You okay?" T.J. asked, slightly worried. It had only been a couple days since the incident with the power coin and Adam insisted right away he was fine.
"Just got a headache." Adam said, gritting his teeth.
T.J. looked the short Asian man in the eyes. "It's from what happened the other day, isn't it?" he insisted.
"Yes." Adam admitted, "I'm just sore. I'll be fine in a day or two."
"You know you were stupid for even pulling that." T.J. said.
"I know!" Adam teased, "But I was bored. I don't think I'll try it again anytime soon, but I don't regret it. I've done much stupider stuff in my day."
"I'm sure." T.J. said. "I think I gotta go. I was supposed to see my mom today and fix something for her."
"Take care. If you need me feel free to drop by or call. I know Carlos has all the info." Adam said, trying to hide that he was still in much pain.
T.J. nodded. The two young men shook hands and T.J. let himself out. He looked around to make sure nobody else was around. Indeed there wasn't and he teleported out.
Later that night
"Carlos you should still be in bed!" Alpha scolded, "Don't want ya getting worse."
"I'm fine." Carlos argued. "I'm tired of being in bed anyway. It's boring!"
"Kids these days!" Alpha complained, "Wouldn't know good advice from a kick to the face."
"Hey Carlos!" T.J. greeted, "How you feeling?"
"Not great." Carlos said in return, "Better than this morning though. Alpha keeps trying to keep me in bed."
T.J. reached up and felt the Latino boy's forehead, being able to tell easily that it was still too warm "Well I think he's right. I could probably fry an egg on that."
Carlos gave him an evil glare, "Thanks for sticking up for me? Watch next time you talk about Cassie, I swear I will make sure everyone will hear about it." He clearly saw Cassie just arriving and made sure he was loud enough to catch her attention. When she started heading toward them Carlos turned around and began heading back toward the bedrooms.
T.J. didn't notice Cassie coming up from behind until she tapped him on the shoulder. "So what is this talking behind my back?" she teased.
"Um..." T.J. stammered for a moment. "Carlos I am going to kill you once I'm done!" he yelled down the corridor.
"Okay, spit it out. I wanna know what Carlos was talking about." Cassie prodded her friend for information.
"Oh... it's nothing bad, but not that interesting." T.J. said, trying to weasel his way out of the discussion. He wasn't ready to tell her. He wanted to have something decent to say, not just blurt it out so she would hate him and think he was an idiot.
Cassie was not convinced. Something was up and she definitely wanted in on it considering it included her. "I don't believe that. You aren't getting away without saying something, so just spit it out."
T.J. figured he might as well try the advise Adam gave him before and tried to explain it, "It's about you.... and the Phantom Ranger. You're so... obsessed with him lately. You don't even know him and.... I just don't want you to get hurt by him."
Cassie looked at him, perplexed, "What do you mean? He wouldn't hurt me."
"Not intentionally." T.J. defended, "But really, you just don't know if he feels the same way. Maybe you could keep your mind open... for other people."
"You have a crush on me, don't you?" Cassie asked with a smile on her face, her eyes nearly closed.
"Um.... kinda, but it's not like... well..." T.J. said. He cursed himself at how he stammered and stuttered when he was nervous. He had never been more nervous in his life. "Ever since I saw you... on that bus. I always liked you... you aren't like all the other girls. You actually think for yourself for crying out loud. You know... what you want in life. I was going to ask you a while ago, but ever since... well, he came along I've..."
"Felt afraid to ask?" Cassie attempted to finish the statement.
"Yeah." T.J. said.
"That is so sweet!" Cassie said. "I didn't know that, I mean I thought of it but it wasn't serious or anything. I thought it would be a nice joke."
"Well, but since you have the Phantom Ranger and all..." T.J. continued.
"Yes, but let's face it; What are the chances of us ever being an...us?" Cassie replied, "I want to try it with him, yes but if things, if things don't work out, I would definitely take you."
"Really?" T.J. asked, half hocked, half disappointed at being second in line.
"Sure, you're a complete sweetheart. I just wish you asked sooner. You know you guys are really difficult to figure out half the time, the other half is too easy."
"Same with you girls!" T.J. contested.
"What do you mean?" Cassie answered. They both knew this was going to turn into one of those mock arguments that ended with everyone cracking up by the end.
"I mean the 'does my butt look big in this shirt' or how about the 'Men are dogs, but I can't be away from my boyfriend for more than three minutes before becoming suicidal'!"
"Oh, don't get me started with you men. How about the 'I need to prove I'm bigger and stronger than everyone else' or 'Can't cry in front of anyone or else they will thing I'm not tough' or here's one 'Girl acts like an idiot she's a ditz but a guy is just a clown for doing the same thing."
"'Shopping is so fun, I just have to see that sale on togas. Oh, of course I would never wear one but I gotta see it since it's 70% off!' oh, here's another, 'These shoes hurt my feet like no tomorrow but they look pretty and make me a look taller!'" T.J. followed up this routine by walking on his tiptoes, pretending to be in pain constantly and pretending to be trying too put on lipstick. When he fell to the floor and said "Ow, I just got a boo-boo" in such a pathetic voice, Cassie lost it.
"We are not like THAT!" she argued, her face turning a bright crimson red from laughing.
"See, it wouldn't be funny if it wasn't true." T.J. said. "Would you go out for dinner with me Tuesday night?" he said.
Cassie was thrown off completely with that turn. "Well, I don't know."
"Please." T.J. asked, not in a begging manner but more that of a friend asking for a small favor, "Just once. Or do I have to make up a whole 'nother routine?"
Cassie smirked, "You wouldn't dare!"
T.J. answered with his own smile, "Yes I would and you know it."
"Okay, one date Tuesday." Cassie agreed.
T.J. felt like jumping but struggled and succeeded to remain calm. "Okay. I know of a nice Italian restaurant. Has the best Lasagna." he finished it off with giving her a quick but affectionate peck on the cheek.
Cassie blushed, "Okay, you're on. Just one condition: No bad comedy routines like you just did."
Author's end note: No I am not continuing this. You get to decide if this relationship works out or not. I just thought T.J. got so little attention considering he was such a cool character. My decision in having him speak to Adam is because he is the only male ranger up to that point to strike me as 'sensitive' and understanding in any way. Come on, who would talk to Andros about it. Carlos is okay, but sometimes can be a typical guy with those matters (can anyone explain why a lot of guys tease other guys when they have crushes?) I also thought T.J. and Cassie would be cure together and Cassie was horribly misused with all the time wasted with her daydreaming about the Phantom Ranger!