"Hey man. You okay?" Zack asked as he found Jason sitting on one of the cliffs that held the Command Center.
Jason looked up and smiled a bit. "Yeah, sure. Why wouldn't I be?" He asked as Zack sat down next to him.
"Maybe because Zordon just gave your command to your best friend?"
"Zordon was right to make Tommy the leader. He's a natural, besides, he's the strongest Ranger now. He deserves it."
"Bullshit and you know it. It's more than ok to be upset over this Jase. Hell, if it had been me, I would be spitting bullets, both at Tommy and Zordon. You're every bit the leader that Tommy seems to be. Even more than that, you have the experience. You've been leading us to victory for over a year now. What I want to know is why Zordon decided that you can't cut it, because I want to show him the error of his ways."
Jason smiled at his friend's vehement denial of Zordon's decision. It made the hurt a little easier to bear. "It's okay, Zack. Zordon picked the right man for the job."
"Man, what have I just been telling you?" Zack snapped. "You're the best man for the job. So what, if Tommy has more power than the rest of us combined? That doesn't mean that he should lead the team! You're our leader, Jase. You have been since way before we became Rangers. You're just selling yourself short if you don't believe that, man." For emphasis, he smacked Jason upside his head.
"Hey, what was that for?" Jason snapped as he blocked Zack's next strike.
"I'm getting your head on straight. Something's wrong with it that's for sure. Man, this isn't like you. You're a fighter, why aren't you fighting this?"
"What good would it do, Zack? Zordon's decision is final, and it would only break up the team. I would be forcing everyone to take sides. I won't do that, not when Zedd's out there, just waiting to spring on us. No, I'll just go along with it and that's final Zack."
Zack shook his head, but stayed silent. He would respect Jason's decision, even if he thought it was the wrong one.
Zack started to make it a habit of watching his best friend. Jason hadn't been the same since Zordon had given command of the team. He followed Tommy's orders to the letter and he kept telling everyone that he was fine with the transition, but Zack knew better. Jason was really hurt over the whole thing, and the fact that no one else seemed to notice only compounded the problem.
The spark that had always been in Jason's eyes when they battled the forces of evil was gone. Now it was just a job, nothing more. Zack didn't know exactly what to do, except to listen to him.
He found his best friend running through a kata. Zack sat down at their usual table and watched. This was the other thing that he had noticed. Jason was distancing himself away from them. Today, they had all planned on meeting at the park and shooting a few hoops or maybe some basketball and then a picnic. Just a bit of fun to destress after the long weeks of school and Zedd.
"Hey man. Looking good, but I thought you were going to join us at the park?" Zack asked when Jason finished.
Jason looked up from his spot on the mats. "Nah, I told Trini and Kim that I couldn't make it. I haven't gotten in as much practice as I would have liked these last couple of weeks."
Zack made his way to the mats. "Why are you doing this to yourself, man? We miss you. You're not yourself. You haven't been yourself since Tommy became the leader. What's going on, man?"
Jason shook his head and then took a quick glance around. "Not here." He said quietly.
Zack nodded. "Then change, because I'm not going to be put off this time, man."
Jason sighed but nodded. "All right. Give me 15 mintues to shower."
Zack waited for Jason to start talking. They were sitting in a different part of the park from the rest of the team. Jason was pacing and Zack could see that he was trying to organize his thoughts.
"This is about Zordon isn't it? About him taking command away from you?" Zack asked.
Jason stopped pacing and turned on Zack. "I don't get it! Why? What did I do that made me such a bad leader? I know I'm not the leader that Tommy is, but I was doing okay, I thought. What makes Tommy so much better than me?" Jason demanded, his dark eyes blazing.
Zack took a moment to behold the figure in front of him. This was the Jason that he remember. The one that wouldn't stand for injustice in any shape or form. The one that desperately needed answers for things. He could take some things on blind faith sure, they all could, but he needed answers more often than the rest of them. He needed a reason for this. "I don't know. I really don't and it really sucks. Did you ask Zordon about it?"
Jason shook his head. "Nah, I figured he knew what was best. He must have seen something in me that no one else did. Something that made me a horrible leader."
Zack growled. "You're not a horrible leader, Jase. You gotta stop thinking that. There must have been a reason. Don't give up now, that's just plain dumb. I know it's gotta be hard on you, with your best friend taking your postion, but you have to talk to Zordon and Tommy. You haven't even done that, have you?"
Jason shook his head, unable to look at his childhood friend. "I'm afraid. I'm scared of what he's going to say. I'm afraid that he's right, that I'm no leader, just a fill in until he could get a real leader."
"You're crazy if you think that, Jase." Zack finally managed to get out. This was a new thing for him. He wasn't used to seeing Jason like this, vunerable. He had always been the rock of the group. Everyone came to him, and suddenly Zack wondered where the caretaker of everyone's problems went when he had a problem. "It might look like that, but it ain't true. You did nothing wrong, nothing that would make Zordon give your command away. Talk to him, Jase. At least talk to Tommy about it."
"No. No, I figured it out. It was when I didn't get the green candle, or maybe when you guys were all kidnapped and almost lost your own powers. That has to be it." Jason said.
Zack wasn't sure if Jase was talking to himself or Zack. He decided to answer anyway. "No way man. Everybody makes mistakes." Jason didn't hear him, or at least didn't answer. He just continued in his pacing. Zack decided to take a different approach. "Jase, maybe it's for the best. This way you don't have to be under so much stress. Let Tommy make the hard decisions. You're still second in command, Jase. If something goes bad, you can step in."
Zack shook his head. Jason hadn't talked to Zordon, but at Zack's insistant prodding did talk to Tommy. It was amazing how much better Jason seemed after that talk. He didn't know what was said and frankly, if it made Jason feel better it didn't matter. The Black Ranger just wished that his best friend would talk to the big guy. Now, it looked like Jason wouldn't have a chance.
He still couldn't believe it. He, Trini and Jason were picked to go to Geneva! That was more awsome he couldn't even being to talk about. He saw Trini and Jason sitting on at their table and he made his way over to them. "What's going on?" Zack asked as he glanced at their faces.
"I'm worried about the team." Jason said softly.
"Why?" Zack demanded. He had a funny feeling he knew where this was going. Even though Jason had gotten used to the idea of not being in command, he was still a leader.
"With us leaving. We're leaving the team with three newbies. It's not like I don't think Adam, Aisha and Rocky can't handle it, but they don't have experience, not like we do."
"So we should turn this down? Come on Jase, this is a chance of a life time. You have to follow your dream. Being a Ranger is great, and it'll always be a part of me, but I really want to help people. People outside Angel Grove. Don't you?"
"Of course, I wouldn't have put in my application if I hadn't." Jason retorted, his face flushing.
"So what's the problem? You're not the leader anymore, Jase. Worrying about the team is Tommy's job now." Zack retorted.
"Don't you think I know that?! It's been shoved down my throat since he took over. I can't help it! The team was my responsibility, my job, and I can't give that up."
Zack and Trini looked at each other. This called for deseperate measures. "You want to go to the Peace conference right?" Zack asked.
"Yeah." Jason replied, not looking at either of his friends.
"Do you think Zordon would want you to pass on such a great opportunity?" Trini asked.
"No, I don't think so." Jason replied.
"So then we should be free to do this Jason. Guilt free. We were newbies once too and Adam, Aisha and Rocky have the benefit of Tommy, Billy and Kim. Unless you're saying that they can't handle it?"
"I didn't say that!"
"So then, we go?" Trini said quietly. Trying to figure out if they convinced Jason or not.
Jason sighed. "We go."