Legal Disclaimer: Yet another Preludes. .. I'm slowly but surely touching on them all. .you don't have long to wait!!

by Tarma Brighthawk

The sky she looked down on was as blue as the ocean they had just finished crossing, and as blue as her mood. Her seatmate and long-time friend was as lost in his thoughts as she was in hers, remaining silent and still. She didn't look at him right now; she had other things on her mind.

Uncle Howard, she sighed briefly and mentally only; she didn't want to draw anyone's attention today, much less Zack's. He was the sort of person who would do everything he could to get you out of a bad mood, and do it faster than you could drop into one. And today, Trini Kwan didn't want to be out of her bad mood.

Perhaps bad wasn't the right word. Sad would be more appropriate. She thought of the telegram in her purse, the one that had brought upon their departure, and quickly wiped away a tear before it could draw attention to herself. A week earlier, her Uncle Howard, a karate black belt and a world-famous scientist, had died in a car wreck. Her parents hadn't been the ones to tell her. Her cousin had, against their direct orders.

They didn't want the news of any family tragedies distracting me from my important work of bringing World Peace, Trini's thoughts took on an extremely bitter edge. She knew her parents loved her, but they had never really understood either her uncle or herself, or their relationship. That was why she hadn't told them she was coming back to America.

But she wasn't going to Angel Grove. She didn't want to see her parents right now, not until she could get a grip on herself. She and Zack were headed for Florida, to watch one of their oldest and dearest friends participate at last in the Pan-Globals. I'm so proud of Kim, she smiled faintly to herself. She'd always known Kim would make it great one day, and it looked like she was on her way.

But what am I going to do with my life? she wondered. She and Zack had graduated long-distance from Angel Grove High, and it was really that event that had freed them from the Peace Conference, which was only for people in high school. Jason had managed to return home early, and he had sent them long, enormous, chatty letters filled with the details of how things were going there. They knew about his becoming the Gold Ranger, and how he had went through a serious brush with death because of those same powers. And I wasn't there for him, she thought even more bitterly. How could she have let him down so? Why hadn't she and Zack came back with him? Why had they let their best friend just suffer like that?

She knew the answer to that, though. They'd thought they could make a difference. They had thought for some reason just sitting and talking with other teenagers would accomplish something. And maybe it would: but not for them. Jason had realized what they hadn't just then. They might have been chosen to save the world in a different way than as a Power Rangers, but it wasn't the right way. Not for them. Each of them belonged back in Angel Grove, back in the middle of the fight.

Not that she would ever take any power away from anyone who had it. But it was in that California town that they belonged, helping people to the best of their ability. Sure it was great to help the world. ..but in Angel Grove, you could sometimes help the entire universe.

It's just not the same. ..going from fighting for your life and the freedom of the planet to sitting around a table doing a lot of talking. It just isn't the same. Maybe after the games, we can all go back there. ..and maybe find a way to really accomplish something.

Trini had long since decided she didn't want to ever be without her friends again, without all of them. She'd had three years of not being with anyone else she really knew or cared about besides Jason and Zack, and after a lifetime of being with them, plus several life-threatening experiences together, being apart wasn't something she wanted to be. Besides, Zordon said it best when we first got our powers. We need each other. And the world needs us. Together.

Thinking about what her old mentor had said drew the former Yellow Ranger's thoughts back to other times. To days spent working out with Jason, studying science with Billy, shopping with Kim, hanging out with Zack, helping Tommy through some of his trying times. To calling out with pride Sabre-Tooth Tiger, to fighting Putties and Rita and Zedd and Goldar. To how she had spent countless hours daydreaming over boys, though she'd never been boy-crazy in the sense Kim had been before meeting Tommy. She'd had a brief crush on Richie, which had faded faster than snow in the desert after she went to Switzerland.

When she thought about one boy, however, her heart literally skipped a beat, and her eyes sparkled as they never had before. Billy, her mind tasted his name, rejoicing in it's purity, literally glowed with emotions she didn't even have names for. She'd never asked him out; he'd never asked her out. All they'd ever done was just work on the occasional science project together, but it was enough.

Or maybe it wasn't, she remembered what Jason had told her, that Billy had left Earth, moving to a planet called Aquitar to be with a native of that race, Cestria. How could they let him do that? she wondered, biting her nails a little in frustration. He hardly knows her. Jason said he'd met her once before, and that was for less than a week. How in the world could he think he's in love with her?

She fought to keep her temper under control, remembering that Zack was right next to her. I hope he'll realize the truth soon, she thought. Maybe I can get in touch with him somehow. I'll have to find out. ..

A magazine sitting in the small rack in front of her provided her with something to at least look like she was doing as her thoughts ran on and on. I wonder if he would have left if I'd stayed in Angel Grove. ...if I'd been with him when he lost his powers...I haven't been with them throughout some of the most important times in their lives.

She closed her eyes, forcing herself to focus and concentrate, but images, things she'd heard of only in letters, came pouring into her mind. The marriage of Rita and Zedd. The attack of Ivan Ooze and the quest to Phaedos. The final destruction of the ThunderZords by Rito Revolto and the search for Ninjor. The coming of Katherine Hilliard. Kimberly leaving for Florida. The loss of the Ninja powers when the world was reversed in time. Billy choosing to remain powerless. Kimberly mailing a letter to Tommy breaking up with him. The Gold Ranger saga, where Jason had left them and come home. His subsequent near-death. Billy aging rapidly because of one of his inventions and going to Aquitar, and never coming back. The adventure on Murianthus, Jason and Kim being temporarily corrupted by the darkest of evil. Rocky hurting his back so badly a twelve-year-old had to take his place.

And they didn't have us. We left. She knew that as the years had went by, the Rangers that were still active had become close friends, a tight-knit group just like the original six, but the small worm of regret gnawed at her heart. I should have turned down the opportunity to come, she thought. I don't know if being there would have changed any of it for the better, but I STILL should have been there. At least then I'd know. I wouldn't have had to have heard all of this second hand. But then again, I might not be coming to see Kim now.

She bit her lip gently as she thought of seeing Kim again after all this time. They had written back and forth to each other often, regardless of postal costs, and every year, on the anniversary of the day they had become Rangers, the five of them had pooled their resources for one massive conference call. But it just wasn't the same as being together, and they had all known it. I wonder what the guy she broke up with Tommy for is like...probably fairly special. .but that just isn't like Kim; she shouldn't have done it by a letter. I understand people grow apart, but a letter? It's like everyone has changed so much since when I knew them, and not for the best, either. Billy drops his entire planet, Kim blows Tommy off with a 'Dear John' letter, they let a twelve-year-old onto the team. ..I trust Tommy's judgment on that one, really, but the battlefield is no place for someone that young.

She shifted a little, deciding in the back of her head to wait until she knew this 'Justin' before making any real decisions on him. She glanced back down as the plane tilted a little, and took a deep breath. They were going to be landing shortly at Tallahassee. ..within a few hours she would be seeing her best friend again. ..she would be almost home again. Home is where the heart is. ..and my heart is with Jason, Zack, Kim, and Billy.

One single tear fought it's way out and dripped onto the small windowsill. A tear of both joy and sorrow, gain and loss. ..and peace.

"Trini?" she turned her head to see Zack looking at her with concern. "Are you all right?"

She smiled just a little, but it felt the tiniest bit false. She was only one fourth all right, because only one of her four best friends was there. "For now, Zack. For now."

With that, she stretched, hearing her muscles creak a little and her bones pop just a bit. They were almost home.

The End.
For Now.