Disclaimer: The Power Rangers belong to Saban, even though he treats them badly. "Lament" is from the musical "Evita," and belongs to Andrew Lloyd Webber.

by: Ellen Brand

The desert was gorgeous in the afternoons, Jason thought to himself. The air was calm and silent, the perfect place for a man to think. Currently, he was sitting outside the Power Chamber, idly watching as a falcon soared overhead. He grinned slightly. Seemed as if he couldn't get away from the watchful eyes of falcons anymore, especially not after what he'd learned.

The thought of Zordon's diagnosis sobered him slightly. The powers of the Gold Ranger, the powers he was holding in trust for the prince of another planet, were slowly killing him. Never designed for human use, they were slowly draining the very life from his system.

The choice was mine and mine completely.
I could have any prize that I desired.
I could burn with the splendor of the brightest fire
Or else- or else, I could choose time.

It was human nature, Jason knew, to want someone to blame for this, and he could almost hear Tommy blaming himself for it, despite the fact that almost a hundred feet of rock lay between them. That was just Tommy's way. But Jason didn't blame his best friend for his current predicament. No one could have known how dangerous the powers would be for him, not even Trey of Triforia. The powers had never been given to a human before- it was a shot in the dark. And it was a risk that Jason was more than willing to take for his friends and his planet.

It had been his choice, after all, and this wasn't the first time he'd made it. Becoming a Power Ranger meant living on the edge, all the time. Your days took on an undreamed-of intensity, and the power inside you burned like wildfire. It was a life like no other- but the odds were that it wouldn't be long.

Remember, I was very young then
And a year was forever and a day.
So what use could fifty, sixty, seventy be?
I saw the lights and I was on my way.

The first time, Jason had jumped at the chance. He hadn't really understood the magnitude of what he was getting into. All he had really known was that he had the chance to make a difference, and it was his duty. After all, he was fifteen. What fifteen-year-old doesn't plan on living forever?

Jason chuckled. Now, at all of seventeen years old, he knew exactly what he was giving up. He was trading in a life of safety and stability for a world where you never knew if the next day would come or not. He would be dedicating his existence to saving a world that would never know.

Shifting, Jason let out a humorless chuckle. If it had just been the world, he admitted, he might have told Tommy to go take a flying leap. He hadn't missed the nightmares, or Goldar constantly swearing to have his head and intestines on a platter. And he'd adjusted to the lack of the Power... after a year and a half, he'd had to. No, it wasn't the duty or the addiction that drew him back, it was his friends.

And the lights, how they shone
But too soon, the lights were gone.
Oh my daughter, oh my son,
Understand what I have done.

It had been one hell of a ride, he admitted. Funny, how he didn't feel scared or sad. He supposed that deep down, he had faith that Zordon would find the cure. But even if he was cured, he knew his days as a Ranger were over, for good this time. That knowledge filled him with only resignation and a mild regret. It had been one wild ride, and he would miss it. The adrenaline and the Power mixed to form an incredible roller-coaster, and it always seemed to end too soon.

Footfalls behind him, made Jason look up. He wasn't expecting trouble, but he'd learned better than to be caught off guard. As he had guessed, Tommy stood behind him, smiling slightly.

"Zordon and Alpha think they've found a way to help you," the leader of the Rangers said.

Silent, Jason studied the young man before him for a long time. Thomas Tyler Oliver, enemy, rival, and friend, the only person who had ever truly understood Jason in his life. Almost two years ago, their positions had been reversed, and Jason smiled slightly at the irony, and the misfortunes that had only bound them closer together.

"It's been one hell of a time, hasn't it?" Jason grinned. Tommy nodded, amusement touching his own features.

"That it has, buddy. And it's not over yet. Once a Ranger, always a Ranger. Come on, let's go hear what Zordon has to say."

Together, they went back into the building, leaving only the empty desert behind them.