It was the distance that had driven them apart.
The distance that had given him The Letter, and caused everything to fall to pieces between them.
But that distance was now no more, and seeing her for the first time since forever had him more nervous than he thought he would be.
They took their time, although understandably so, ushering Lerigot and his family in before finally entering the Megazord cockpit together, with barely an inch of space between the both of them.
He pushed his way past the other rangers, a figure in Red, wanting to be the first person she saw, the first person to welcome her close, but she didn't look his way once, even though he could barely keep his eyes from her.
He saw a flash of stark pink standing somewhere to his right behind him, but he ignored it. He couldn't help it, for it was the woman in front of him that he was drawn to. Whom he wanted to reach for, to talk to, to touch, to confirm that she was real. That she was here.
She looked beautiful, more radiant than he had ever seen her, but with a maturity, more grounded, and a deep sense of being happy and at peace with her place in the world.
He took a step towards them. The girl with the caramel-colored hair, his first love. And the dark man beside her, his brother in all but blood.
Only a step, but with it, a distance was breached, and he was brought closer to her still.
He saw her turn, but not to him.
Slender arms reached up and wound their way around another neck. He saw how ready those other arms, lethal in battle but so gentle now, folded around her body. He saw two bodies press together too closely, and hold on for several moments too long.
His feet found another step forward, a mere inch this time, but unsure now. Somehow his right arm had come up, and he barely noticed that his hand had rounded in a fist.
She smiled that smile that he used to live for, but into a pair of dark eyes; not his. Fingers that used to play with the ends of his ponytail now brushed the back of hair; darker, shorter, and also, not his.
The man, his brother, released her tiny frame and he saw her hands drop to his forearms, as his came to rest naturally on the curve of her waist.
He moved forward involuntarily, closer yet again, gloved arms raised this time, ready to receive a hug from her or to slam a fist into the other man's chest; he did not know.
They didn't seem to notice, the small girl in soft pink and the well-built man in black with her. Words were exchanged between them, passed from lips a whisper's breath from each other's; words too soft for his own ears… and not meant for them either.
Something twisted and ugly roared in his chest.
He felt a gentle touch on his arm, and turned to look into eyes bluer than the sky. She had taken her helmet off and blonde hair flowed loosely around her shoulders. His name fell from her lips.
It seemed to bring back some form of sanity to him. He took his eyes off the couple in front of him, and bent his head to take off his helmet. When he raised his head again, he saw their eyes on him.
Hers, light and brown, with some sort of trepidation. His, dark as night, with compassion.
It took one to know one, and he knew that despite the easy way the man stood, he would be able to take on a fully morphed ranger at the slightest hint of a threat.
He tried to smile, but it came out as a grimace instead.
The girl with eyes bluer than the sky squeezed his arm reassuringly. He bit the inside of his cheek so hard he thought he tasted blood. Shaking his hair out of his face, and with great difficulty, he offered the other man his hand.
They clasped it together and for that moment, just that moment, his animosity fell away, and he grabbed his brother close in a sharp hug. He missed this man, the person he had learnt so much about leadership, about teamwork, about loyalty from.
And then it was time to face her.
She acknowledged his girlfriend first, ever exuberant, always smiling. Apologizing for having kicked her so viciously in the stomach earlier. Apologies were woven aside, and her tiny form stepped forward to envelope the willowy blonde in a genuine hug.
She turned to him then.
He didn't miss her hand lingering on his brother's arm even as she made to move towards him. But she was hesitant, her eyes conflicted, her arm moving and not her feet, when she reached her other hand out to touch his face just like she used to do.
Only this time her fingers fell away before they even made contact with his skin. Nonetheless, he tingled where he had anticipated her touch. He stepped closer to her, trying to close this distance between them, the unphysical one that had never been there before, and the physical one that had driven them apart, but something in her eyes stopped him.
She smiled at him instead, choosing to stay where she was. Away from him. Apart from him.
She said something, possibly a lot of things, but all words passed him by in a garbled rush. He made out one word, maybe two, and both were words he didn't want to hear. Not here, not now, not ever together in a sentence.
Jason. Not his name.
Love. But not for him.
It was the distance that drove them apart. He didn't think they would ever close it again.