Disclaimer: Power Rangers, and all related indicia, are Saban's. Not mine. You know the rest. The "Rockaway" is directly taken from a fictional location in Christi Smith Hayden's unbelievable 12-story Gargoyles fanfic series. There is also an in-joke to Gargoyles in here. If your sharp eyes catch it, e-mail me :)

Irreconcilable Differences
by Mandy Ohlin

..........He should have known it was too good to be true.

..........Rocky DeSantos sat at a booth beside the window of the Rockaway, a new rock-blues cafe in Stone Canyon, trying desperately not to fidget. Every couple of minutes he wished for a mirror, sure that his blue flannel shirt was wrinkled or his jeans were stained. Instead of having butterflies in his stomach, he felt as though he had a squadron of TIE fighters zipping around in there.
..........As he made a mental note to lay off watching Star Wars repeatedly, the reason for his nerves sat down across from him and smiled. The squadron in his stomach suddenly did loop-de-loops, and he swallowed.
..........After having a hopeless crush on Andrea Taylor for six months, Rocky couldn't believe his luck when he'd found himself sitting next to her at lunch. It had amazed him even more when he'd opened his big mouth to ask her out, and had positively shocked him when she'd agreed and suggested the Rockaway. Looking at her, he still couldn't believe his luck. Her long auburn hair spilled over her shoulders in dark waves that shone reddish-orange when they caught the light. As she smiled and he scrabbled for something to say, her bright green eyes sparkled mischievously from her elfin face.
..........Oh god, I've got to say something. What am I going to say? Rocky's mind was suddenly a blank. Geez, I said I'd meet her, I came here half an hour early and waited to psych myself up, and I can't even figure out how to say hello! What's my problem?
..........The crowd was gathering on the dance floor; they weren't half bad, imitating Dave Matthews Band pretty well. A sentence flashed into his brain, and without considering the implications, he sent it to his mouth. "Umm, do you want to dance?"
..........IDIOT! his head screamed as he grinned like a fool. You don't know how to dance!
..........Andrea blushed. "I don't really know how to," she admitted.
..........Rocky stood up and took her hand, willing himself to stay upright. "We can just fake it," he offered.
..........As they swayed out on the dance floor, pretending they knew what they were doing, Rocky heard a horrid sound. A familiar sound. A sound that made him want to disassemble a certain robot.
..........But duty called.
..........Sighing, he steered Andrea over to the table. "I've got to make a phone call," he fibbed, hoping he didn't look as ill as he felt.
..........He did. "Are you feeling all right?" she asked worriedly.
.........."I'm fine. Just being paged." He took out some money from his wallet. "Here. This might be a while, so just in case you need anything--"
..........Andrea kissed him. "Just go."
..........He sighed and headed over to the empty corridor near the phones and punched his communicator. "What's up, Alpha?"
.........."Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi! Mondo has sent down the Poison Pen monster to attack Adam and Tanya! Billy and I can't get through to any of the others! Oh, ay-yi-yi-yi--"
.........."I'll be right there," Rocky growled. Geez, he thought as he teleported away. Alpha really needs a new catchphrase.

..........Rocky teleported back into the hallway, exhausted. He'd never hurried so much trying to defeat a monster, and it had never seemed to take so long. At least he'd gotten there in time; ten more minutes and both his friends would be.....Shuddering at the thought, he pushed it away. He hoped Andrea was still here.
.........."Rocky DeSantos! Where were you??"
..........He turned, slowly, to meet the gaze of his enraged date. The sweet Andrea who had come with him to the Rockaway was gone, replaced by a frustrated, angry copy. Her hair was mussed, and her green eyes were blazing fiercely as they bored into him. "Oh, um, geez--" He tried to withhold the inexorable bout of stammering. "Look, Andie, I'm sorry. My friend Adam--Adam Park, you know--he was in major trouble, and I had to bail him out. I didn't have time to catch you."
.........."And he called you?" She stared at him in shock. "Give me a break, Rocky." Andrea shouldered her purse, turned to go, and turned back. "Would you like to know what happened during the half hour you vanished?"
..........He was doomed. "I don't have a choice, do I?"
.........."I spent the past half hour having to fend off this total moron who kept hitting on me!" She smoothed her hair as best she could. "The idiot couldn't take a hint. He kept following me around, offering to buy me dinner, and did not understand the meaning of the word NO!" Andrea's eyes were watering and her lip trembled.
..........Despite his common sense, Rocky tried to smooth it over. "I couldn't bail on Adam, Andie! My pager number was the only one he remembered, and he and his girlfriend were--"
.........."I don't care about Adam or his girlfriend!" she snapped. "I'm sick and tired of excuses!" She looked at him then, her large eyes brimming with tears. "Can't you give me a straight answer, Rocky? Just this once? The truth."
..........Rocky swallowed against a dry throat. One part of him desperately wanted to tell her, and another part was screaming at him not to. No, please, not when this was going so great....
..........She frowned, reading his silence. "Very well, then," she said icily. "Rocky, I gave you a shot, and--and--you blew it. I'm getting a ride home with some friends." She turned and opened the door.
..........Andrea turned back one last time. "And don't call me ANDIE!!" she shouted as she slammed the door and stormed into the cool night air, leaving Rocky standing there, alone.
..........As he watched her climb into the blue van, a steady rain began to fall. Tasting salt on his tongue, Rocky wiped his eyes and headed for a corner booth.

..........It was almost closing time.
..........Rocky finished his third Coke, ignoring the stares of the remaining staff who were trying to figure out how to get him to leave. He looked so depressed and disturbed that none of them wanted to even try.
..........Ignoring their looks, Rocky stared numbly into the plastic cup. The pain in his gut had subsided, leaving a dull emptiness. He leaned back and inhaled deeply, on the verge of laughing at himself. I should be used to this by now, he mused as he turned to stare at the rain streaking the windowpanes. Off to save the world, and this is the thanks I get.
..........He took a long swig of the Coke and nearly choked. Good thing this is only Coke.
..........With a sigh, he leaned forward, silently contemplating the tabletop. Why had he even agreed to be a Power Ranger? At the time, it had seemed like the ultimate rush, a chance to save the world. Two years ago, he had jumped at the chance to join the team. If I knew then what I knew now, I'd probably turn it down.
..........Was it worth it? Sure, they consistently beat the bad guys back to where they came from, but almost always left a junk heap of damage in their wake. Angel Grove was running out of abandoned districts for them to lure the monsters into, and the park was no longer safe to cross alone. In the end, the main bad guy was still intact, and ready and raring to strike again, whether the Rangers were ready to fight back or not.
..........He was running out of excuses; after two years of skipping out whenever his communicator went off, Rocky had compiled a novel's worth of creative excuses for family and friends. And girlfriends. They were less excuses than lies, and that made him ill to think of it. More often than not, he'd been tempted to tell his family the truth. His father believed in strict loyalty to the family, and every fib Rocky had to use stung deep, a barb he couldn't pull out.
..........But they wouldn't understand. His parents would have a fit if they knew that he was a Ranger, and they just wouldn't see why he had to do what he did. Come to think of it, if he was losing sight of the real reason, they wouldn't see it at all.
.........."Got room for two?"
..........He jerked up, staring at a familiar face as Adam stood there, hands in his pockets and looking sheepish. "What are you doing here? Didn't you have plans with Tanya?"
.........."At one a.m.?" Adam sat down across from his friend. "Zordon wanted to teleport you home, but I told him to let me come instead."
..........Rocky made a face. "Let me guess. You're going to give me a patented pep-talk. 'It's not so bad, Rocky. You'll find another girl.'" He finished the last of the Coke. "You can save it, I know the routine by heart."
.........."Actually," Adam said quietly, "I came down to say thanks."
..........Speechless, Rocky stared at him as Adam went on.
.........."You really pulled through for me," Adam said quietly. "That thing had a hold of Tanya, and I couldn't fight it. If it hadn't been for you...." He trailed off.
..........Rocky shrugged. "Jason, Kat or Tommy could have helped better than me."
.........."Yeah, but they didn't risk a chance with Andrea Taylor to pull my sorry ass out of trouble." Adam sighed. "Rocko, look. You've been my best friend since we were in first grade. I know it doesn't seem like that now, because of everything. I haven't been such a great friend, but you've always been there. For all of us, no matter how much it messed up your own life or if you even knew how to help." He checked his watch and stood. "That's really all I had to say. I have to go help my dad clean up the mess my cousins made of the den."
..........As he turned to leave, Rocky heard himself speak. "Hey, Adam, wait up." Adam turned, an odd expression on his face. "You want a hand?"
..........His friend grinned and merely beckoned.
..........The waitress watched the two friends go with a tired scowl on her face. At least now we can close up for the night, she mused as she went over to clean up.
..........As she did so, she could have sworn she saw two flashes of light outside, one green and one blue. Her double take revealed only the empty street through a hazy curtain of rain, and she sighed.
.........."That's it," she muttered as she picked up the rather generous tip. "I am not pulling another Friday late shift...."