Disclaimer: Tommy Oliver and Kimberly Hart, plus anyone else in this fanfic, are the registered property of Saban Enterprises; no copyright infringement is meant by this, and I am not, nor do I desire to, making any profit at all on this.

Author's Note: This fanfic, and others in the same 'romantic' theme that will be following were inspired by Rachel Dawson's Tablet of Ars Amatoria page, a fanfic page dedicated to some of the greatest Power Ranger romances {real and implied and fan-desired} of all time. Thank you, Rachel. This is the beginning of my "Rangers in Romance" series. In MMPR timeline, this takes place sometime after "White Light Part 2".

Three Words
by Niobe Craft

Kim ran a brush through her hair quickly and stared down at the collection of earrings scattered on the table in front of her. Which one? she wondered, glancing at the clock. She didn't have a lot of time to work with; Tommy would be there at any moment for their date.

Our first date since he got his new powers, she thought to herself, almost skipping a little with delight as she twisted her hair into a short ponytail. Our first date in almost two months. I wonder if he's going to say it tonight. Though they had been dating for several months, and had kissed frequently, they had never said that they flat out loved each other. Kim was hoping with all her soul that tonight he would say those three words.

Excitement fluttered in her heart as she thought about it. It was almost like a real first date, and in some ways it was. It was their first date since his return not just to Angel Grove, but to the Power Ranger team itself. And Zordon made him the leader. Jason didn't seem very upset about it. I wonder if Zordon knows something we don't. . .for some reason she couldn't fathom, a tiny trickle of fear found it's way down it's back. Kim shuddered for a moment, then at the sound of a knock on the door snatched up a pair of post earrings, jamming them into her ears as she headed downstairs.

"I'll get it!" she shouted, hoping her little brother didn't try for the door. The last time he'd let Tommy into the house, it had been another two hours before they'd been able to go on their date, thanks to his incessant questions. She got lucky this time, however, and made it to the door first. She calmed herself quickly, trying not to look too rushed as she opened the door. "Hi, Tommy!" she smiled up at the tall young man, catching her breath automatically at the sight she was presented with.

Tall, with long dark hair held back now into a neat ponytail, dressed very nicely in a white suit with a dark green tie and highly polished shoes, Tommy Oliver, the White Ranger, was the very picture of a handsome young man. Kim could only wonder that somehow she had captured his heart. I love him, she thought happily. I will always love him.

"Hey, beautiful," he smiled at her. "Ready to go?"

"All ready!" she grinned up at him in the darkening evening. "Mom, Tommy's here! I'll be back later tonight!"

Mrs. Hart's voice spiraled out of the kitchen where she was finishing up a few late dishes. "You two have fun!" she approved of her oldest daughter's boyfriend, and was glad to see the two of them together again. Kim had been miserable the last two months with Tommy gone visiting his relatives in the mountains. It was good to see her smile again.

"We will! See you later!" Kim was out of the door and heading for Tommy's car in her usual bounce almost before the door finished closing. Tommy chuckled a little as he joined her.

"It's good to be home again," he said quietly, slipping behind the wheel. "I've really missed you, Kim."

She smiled faintly, reaching over to pat his hand a little. "I missed you, too," she told him. "So, did you meet any cute girls while you were up in the mountains?" she teased. Tommy chuckled.

"Quite a few, but no beautiful ones like you," he replied, heading towards the restaurant where he'd made reservations for them. "You're one of a kind, Kim. One of a kind."

"That she is, White Ranger," Lord Zedd murmured, his scarlet gaze fixated on the two of them as they drove. "And she is going to be my one of a kind."

Goldar looked a little confused; he'd thought Zedd had gotten over his desire to possess the Pink Ranger already. Seldom did the master of evil maintain a plot once his initial scheme had failed, and this was unlike him in the extreme. "My lord?"

"Shut up, Goldar," the dark lord snapped. "This doesn't concern you. You already failed once at gaining me the Pink Ranger for my queen, I'm not going to let you screw things up again! Now get out of my sight! I've got plans to make and they don't include you!"

The simian warrior winced at the force in Zedd's tone, stepping back and bowing over and over until he was gone from the throne room. When Zedd got like this, he was always glad to simply escape with his hide intact.

Lord Zedd turned his attention back to Earth, his eyes flickering beneath his visor as he looked at Kimberly and Tommy. She is far, far more attractive than anyone else I have ever seen in all my days, he thought, almost purring the words even in his mind. And she wastes herself with that foolish White Ranger. I offered her the entire UNIVERSE, and she denied it. He corrected himself almost at once. That was Goldar's mistake. He is a warrior, not a mage, and knows next to nothing about how to cast proper spells. I should've done that myself. This time, I shall not be so careless.

A single glance to the heavens told him all he wanted to know. Tonight was Karvanoshu, a night of powerful conjuctive magic, a time when all of his powers would be multiplied a millionfold. Tonight it would be child's play for him to overrun the Rangers and take Earth for his own. But that would come in due time. He had something else in mind for tonight.

Raising his staff, he intoned the words that would endow his Putties with five times their usual strength and battle skill for this one night alone. As crimson light flowed over them from the tip, he was pleased to see them melt and reshape into an entirely new form. They were still humanoid, still Putties, but were now taller, with more defined muscles, and faintly glowing red eyes.

"Perfect," he nodded to himself, then gestured to the chief one. "Go down to Earth and bring me back the Pink Ranger," he ordered. "Do what you like with the White one, I really don't care, but I want Kimberly as unharmed as possible. Is that understood?"

He was actually surprised, though not much, when the Head Putty nodded, and spoke clearly. "It shall be as you command, my lord Zedd."

With a flash of teleportation light, the dozen MegaPutties, as he decided on the spur of the moment to call them, vanished from the throne room. Zedd leaned back into his throne, feeling very content with himself.

"What a beautiful night," Kim murmured, her head leaning against Tommy's shoulder and his arm wrapped around her own shoulders. They were parked on the top of a hill, looking out over the beauty of Angel Grove at night from the top of Tommy's car. "The last two months have been really boring."

Tommy chuckled for a moment, looking down at her. "Boring? You've been saving the world on a very regular basis, and I'm supposed to believe things were boring?"

Kim bent her neck backwards a bit to look up at him, and for a moment he was surprised to see a flash of fear in her eyes. "Kim?" he asked gently. "Did I say something wrong?" I don't know how I could have, I just said I didn't think things were boring while I was gone. ..what happened?

"N. no, not really," she said softly. "It's just. ..d. .did anyone tell you what happened just before you came back? Two days before I got your letter, actually," she could see from the curiosity and the concern in his eyes that no one had. "I sort of got kidnapped by Goldar. . ."

He frowned darkly at once. "What happened?" there was a note in his voice that said clearer and louder than anything if Goldar had done anything that the White Ranger considered 'inappropriate', he was going to do something fairly damaging to their nemesis'' chief warrior. As she slowly sketched out the details of what Goldar had tried, putting a spell on her to make her evil and Zedd's queen, she could see the anger slowly rising in his eyes. Luckily it hadn't worked, and Billy and Trini had rescued her just in time.

"Zedd has got quite a lot of nerve," he said, the effort it was taking to keep himself from shouting in rage showing plainly. "It sounds like you did a lot of good acting in there."

Kim chuckled a little as Tommy's tense shoulders began to ease. "Thanks. I couldn't imagine living out my life with Zedd. It's the most horrible fate I could imagine. .. "

"Oh, I dunno," Tommy teased suddenly. "What about spending the rest of your life with. ..Skull?"

The Pink Ranger playfully whapped at him in mock terror and he hugged her. "Spending the rest of my life with you was something more like what I had in mind!" she chuckled, cuddling a little closer to him. For a moment, they were so much in love and so much at peace it would remain in their minds for all time as a shining memory.

One that was interrupted a moment later by a powerful kick in the middle of Tommy's back, that propelled him halfway to his knees and Kim almost entirely off the roof. "What in the world?" they growled almost in unison, turning to see what it was that had so rudely interrupted their date.

Behind them there stood a round dozen of what could have been putties, if they had been a little shorter and less muscular. One in front had a true mouth, unlike the standard Putty, and none of them had the 'Z's that they were used to in Zedd's Putties. "What in the world are these things?" Kim wondered, jumping off of the top of the car and looking at the strange creatures.

"We are the MegaPutties of Lord Zedd," the one in front declared, shocking both of them with it's speech. "And we have been sent to bring his chosen bride to him!"

Kim groaned darkly at that. "Not only do we have talking Putties, we have Zedd who can't seem to take a hint that I don't like him!"

"Well, he's not going to--ugh!" Tommy's speech was cut off when the speaking Putty slammed a mighty tornado kick into his stomach. Kim started to run over to him, when a pair of Putties materialized behind her and seized her by the arms. She tried a move that had always worked before, flipping up to kick whoever was holding her with enough force to break their grip. She was vastly startled when the MegaPutties simply seized her legs in a hold she couldn't get out of.

"Finish him off, MegaPutties," the talking Putty said as he and the two holding Kim stepped farther away. "I am going to be returning this prize to our Master."

Tommy had just enough time to shout out a strangled 'no' before the three Putties and Kim vanished in a swirl of white and pink. If Zedd hurts her, if he TOUCHES her, I'm going to rip what skin he has OFF!

Then he was surrounded by nine other MegaPutties, and the very last thing on his mind was what he was going to do to Zedd. He had to survive this fight before he could do anything else.

Thankfully, survival was something that the White Ranger was very, very good at.

Kim was literally trembling when she appeared in the throne room, still being held by the arms and legs. That ended rather quickly, however, when the MegaPutties tossed here very unceremoniously onto the floor. She did what she could to roll to her feet, and looked up: directly into the gleaming red visor of Lord Zedd.

"Welcome to my throne room, Kimberly," he growled, his voice low and menacing. "It is so nice to see you again."

"Cut the crap, Zedd, and let me out of here!" she retorted, her hand heading straight for her wrist, intending to at least touch her communicator, since she sincerely doubted she'd be able to teleport out of here. When she felt only bare skin, however, her heart sank as memory from earlier in the evening flooded back. I took off my communicator and left my morpher at home! I didn't think I'd need them tonight!

The overlord only seemed to smile, though she couldn't be certain with his visor in the way. "Why would you want to go anywhere, my dear? You can have everything you've ever wanted here, and be a Queen besides."

"The only things I've ever wanted you can't give me!" Kim spat, backing away from him. She almost jumped out of her skin when he was suddenly behind her, his arms locked around hers.

"I wouldn't be so certain of that," he laughed quietly, then pointed his 'Z' staff at her. A pale rose beam of light shone onto the middle of her forehead, and Zedd watched with gleaming pleasure as her eyes slipped shut quietly, and Kim literally collapsed into his arms. He lowered her to the floor, continuing to bathe her in the pale light, watching as her ordinary garments of a frilly pink dress shifted into a long, glitter-sewn garment of purest night-black appeared on her. "Excellent," he nodded, stepping back.

Slowly, Kim's eyes fluttered open. Zedd was quite pleased to see them glowing a deep and almost demonic shade of red. "And how do you feel, my dear Kimberly?" he asked, watching as she made her way back up to her feet.

Kim looked at Zedd, and something that might have been a laugh escaped her lips. "I feel evil."

Tommy did a perfect backflip, slamming a roundhouse punch into the stomach of one of the MegaPutties, then whirling as quickly as he could to sidekick another one. He just had enough time to catch his breath before both the ones he'd just hit teamed together to punch him every bit as solidly as he'd hit them. This is not my night. I have NEVER had this much trouble with Putties before!

Even as the thoughts flew through his mind, he was leaping, punching, kicking, jabbing, and fighting with every movement that he had ever learned, and some he was convinced came from the greater White Ranger powers flowing through him. But none of it was doing any good against the MegaPutties, which seemed almost amused by his efforts.

"Fire!" he sensed the laser bolts flying through the air long before he saw them, and dropped like a stone, flat to the ground. He peeked up just in time to see the MegaPutties falling apart, literally, as lasers from all four sides hit them. I think I know what those are. ..I didn't know they'd kept them! Then again, why get rid of them?

As soon as the last of the MegaPutties had fallen, he sat back up, looking around to spy those whom he knew were there. Jason, Zack, Trini, Billy, he almost laughed to see the Red, Black, Yellow, and Blue Rangers coming out of the various hiding places they'd put themselves into. If he hadn't been so worried about Kim, he might have.

"Thanks, guys," he got back on his feet carefully, keeping an eye out for anymore of Zedd's little 'surprises'. "They were keeping me too busy to morph. And three of them took Kim prisoner. One of them said something about bringing his 'chosen bride' to him."

The other four leaped down to join him, the laser pistols that he and Jason had once retrieved to fight the Super Putties that Rita had made still in their hands. Almost as soon as they hit the ground, they demorphed, and there was no mistaking the look of sheer disgust on everyone's face once they heard what he had to say.

"Looks like Zedd's still up to that trick," Jason seemed to spit the words out. "But what were those things, I didn't think there were any Super Putties left."

"They were MegaPutties," Tommy clarified. "Zedd made them, I don't know. But we've got to get to the palace and get Kim back. I am not losing my girlfriend to Lord Zedd, and that's final!"

Tonight is a night of incredible magical power, Rangers, Zordon looked down on his Rangers, more worry than he wanted to admit to in his voice. It was no doubt due to this conjunction of planets and stars that he was able to create the MegaPutties. It is only lucky that they were vulnerable to the lasers. But we must mount a rescue mission to retrieve Kimberly as quickly as we can.

"How fast can you teleport me to the moon, Alpha?" Tommy's only thoughts were on the tiny Pink Ranger, and what Zedd might possibly do to her.

"Ay-yi-yi, Tommy, getting past the shields there won't be easy," the little robot told him. "And we don't even know where they took her! She could be anywhere!"

Tommy closed his eyes, his heart in his throat. "She's in the palace," he said softly. "Just get me there, Alpha. I'm just going to get her and come back. That's all I want to do."

Set the teleportation co-ordinates for Zedd's palace, Alpha, Zordon's voice was firm. Tommy, you must be careful, and you must go alone. The other Rangers must remain here in case of attack by Zedd.

Jason nodded, then turned to his new leader. "I know you'll bring her back safely, Tommy," the Red Ranger said. Implicit in his voice was the long friendship that he had shared with Kim, and the trust he had in the White Ranger. "And I pity Lord Zedd."

His friend smiled just a little, then turned as Alpha declared, "Teleportation co-ordinates set. Ready when you are, Tommy. You'd better morph before you go, we don't know if you can morph inside the palace or not."

The White Ranger nodded, reaching for his new Power Coin. "It's morphin' time!"

Goldar watched from the shadows, feeling somewhat like a voyeur, but enjoying it all the same, as Zedd introduced his new queen to the joys of evil magic. Kim had the 'Z' staff in one hand, and was practicing shooting at various Putties around the room. Her aim was very good, the simian noticed. Very good indeed.

"Oh, this is so much fun!" she laughed richly, sounding nothing at all like Rita's harsh cackle, the only feminine sound that had been heard around this place in months. "How could I have ever doubted how very right the dark side is!"

Zedd had never felt happier in all his own evil life. He had a strong, fit queen at last, as Rita had been in her youth, and the Rangers were down by one. Soon to be down by two, once he dealt with the White Ranger. He knew that annoying boy was probably already on his way up here to 'get his girlfriend back'. Well, she's never GOING back. ..she's MINE forever!!

"Kim!" practically on cue, Zedd and Kim both turned at the sharp sound of the voice to see Tommy, in full morphed uniform, standing there, with his eyes wide and his heart full of anguish. "Kim, get away from him!"

Zedd smiled to the very best of his ability as he looked at Kim, who was looking at Tommy with nothing but disdain in her cold incardine eyes. "Why would I move away from my lord?" she asked smoothly. "I think you need to leave, White Ranger. I no longer desire you or your goody-good ways."

"Kim!" Zedd couldn't have planned that strike better himself. Tommy's face couldn't be seen beneath his helmet, but the dark lord could almost see the pain and anguish on it. Kim was simply perfect. "Kim, he's put some sort of spell on you. Fight it!"

She snorted. "You've got to be kidding. I love Lord Zedd now and forever!"

The very strength and soul seemed to vanish out of Tommy as those words fell on his lips. He staggered, reaching out to grab a pillar before he totally fell out. "No," he whispered. This just couldn't be. All the time he'd been at his uncle's cabin, he'd been thinking about Kim, and how to tell her at last how he really felt. He was hoping this would be his chance, this date, tonight. . .

White Ranger, he heard the voice pulsating in his brain, and sat straight up, his eyes bugging out under his helmet. It is I, Sabba. Do not trust your eyes. Trust your heart. Always your heart.

Sabba? His sabre? Tommy made a mental note to talk to Zordon about this; he knew Sabba could talk normally, but to speak telepathically? That was something that hadn't ever happened before! Granted he'd only had Sabba a couple of days, but still. . .

He stopped himself. He could argue with himself over it later. Right now, he had a girlfriend to free! "White Ranger, power down!" he snapped, taking a deep breath as the pristine armor fell off his body in a shower of sparkles. Zedd, Kim, and Goldar, still hidden in the shadows, watched in surprise as Tommy walked slowly over to the young woman he loved. "Kim, I know that the spell makes you think you're in love with Zedd, but you're wrong. And he doesn't love you."

Zedd thrust himself quickly in front of Kim, his staff back in his hand and the entire Chamber of Command pulsating a fiery red. "Get out of here, boy!" he commanded. "You're outclassed here, so just deal with it! Kimberly is staying with me!"

Tommy ignored Zedd, stepping around him to look directly into Kim's brown eyes. "Kim, Zedd is evil, you're not. You're good, like me. You're a Power Ranger, just like I am. You're the Pink Ranger, a warrior for good. You fight his evil, you don't serve it, and you don't let it rule you. He doesn't love you."

"What would he know about love?" Zedd growled. "He doesn't love you, Kimberly! He's never said it! He can't, because he doesn't!"

Kim was standing frozen in between the two of them. The weight of the spell on her was strong, but there was something about Tommy's warm and caring eyes that just looked and felt so right. . .

"I. . .I do love you, Kim," Tommy hadn't wanted to say the words like this, to break a spell. He'd envisioned that they would be alone somewhere, just the two of them, with the sparkling stars overhead to witness, not trapped in the stronghold of their worst enemy. "I've loved you for a long time now, and I know I should've said it before. . .but I just never could. Until tonight. I love you, Kimberly Ann Hart. I will always love you."

Zedd could feel the spell snapping, and growled even harsher than before as Kim's clothing suddenly shimmered back into what she had been wearing, and the red light faded from her eyes. "I love you too, Tommy," she whispered, throwing herself into his arms. "Let's go home."

Three nights later, Tommy and Kim were once again in his car, on top of the hill where they could overlook Angel Grove. Zordon had informed them that the conjunction Zedd had tapped into to create the MegaPutties was over with, and there wouldn't be another for about a thousand years or so. Ever since Kim's rescue, things had been very quiet, with just the usual Putty attacks to contend with, and one memorable double battle with a creature created from Kimberly's purse and a lipstick tube earlier that day.

"It's a beautiful night," Kim whispered, leaning against Tommy. "I'm glad I get to see it from this angle, instead of on the moon."

Her boyfriend nodded, his arm tightened just a little bit around her. "So am I," he said. He looked down as she bent her head to look at him in that special way she did.

"Tommy, it's kind of funny. . .do you realize we might never have met, and really gotten to know each other, if it weren't for Rita and Zedd? If Rita hadn't made you her evil Green Ranger, then I wouldn't have felt comfortable being around you and still being a Ranger. I tried to date, after we got our powers, but it just never seemed to work out really well. I was too nervous about having to run off to save the world, and I guess it showed. But I don't have to worry about that with you. Even when you lost your powers, you understood."

He smiled, holding her a little closer. "I know, it is strange. Thanks to Rita, we got to know each other. Thanks to Zedd, I said I love you."

"I love you too, Tommy," Kim whispered, just loud enough for him to hear it. "I'll always love you."

Those were the sweetest three words Tommy Oliver, the White Ranger, had ever heard.

The End.

Disclaimer: Billy Cranston and Trini Kwan, plus anyone else in this fanfic, are the registered property of Saban Enterprises; no copyright infringement is meant by this, and I am not, nor do I desire to, making any profit at all on this. Author's Note: This fanfic takes place in the same Power Ranger universe as "Three Words", and takes place long afterward, sometime after the change to Zeo, but before Billy's early graduation. For convenience's sake, I'll say it's just after "A Zeo Beginning, Part 2". The entire "Rangers in Romance" series takes place in the same universe, and any changes from the standard Saban universe will be noted in either the fanfics themselves or the author's notes. Thank you.

Welcome Home
by Niobe Craft

It was night in Geneva, Switzerland. A dark, thick, shadowy night, with no stars overhead, and only the faintest of wind blowing through the trees. It was so unlike the nights in Angel Grove, California, that the three people sitting underneath a spreading oak far outside of town felt the most horrible sense of homesickness that they'd ever imagined.

"I miss the others," Jason Scott said quietly. "Sheesh, I even miss Bulk and Skull."

Zack Taylor nodded his own agreement. Sure, it had been a good idea to come here back when they had. It had been a relief to finally be away from the penetrating gaze of Lord Zedd, to get out from having to save the world on a daily basis. The first few days, the three of them had practically went insane with that joy. But by now, two and a half years later. . .they were bored.

"I want to go home," the third member of the group, Trini Kwan, stated the words at last that they'd all felt in their hearts. "Now more than ever."

Jason looked over at her, half-invisible in the shadows of the evening. "I know you got a letter from Billy today," he said. "What happened?" they had all sensed something weird going on the past few months, but they hadn't been able to get in touch with anyone back in Angel Grove to know. They had found that even though they'd given up their powers, they were still somewhat sensitive to the events happening back home. They'd all felt the most horrible of internal wrenches when the ThunderZords had been destroyed, and most recently, they had sensed an odd disturbance they never had before.

"You guys remember how Rita and Zedd got married?" Trini referred to the letter Kim had sent them some months ago, detailing out one of the Ranger team's latest adventures, being trapped in a theater while their two greatest enemies tied the not. As her friends nodded, she kept going. "Well, not too long after Kim moved to Florida, Rita's father, Master Vile, showed up, and he activated a special device called the Orb of Doom, that moved time back about seven years or so. The only reason we noticed it was because we happened to be Rangers at one point. The others went after this special crystal, the Zeo Crystal, to fix things, and to give them powers again, since their Ninja Power Coins were destroyed while the world was still back in time."

She paused, letting all of that sink in, then continued. "Aisha stayed in Africa after her Zeo Quest, and sent a young girl she'd met instead, Tanya Sloan. But the reason I want to go back is this: there were only five shards of the Zeo Crystal, and six people. Billy's no longer a Ranger."

The words fell on their ears like a thunderbolt. Then, without even having to say anything else, they got up and started back to the dormitory. It didn't matter that it was late here, or the commitment they had made when coming here. They were bored, they wanted to go home, and they weren't doing a bit of good here, anyway. In Angel Grove, they were needed. Maybe not to save the world, but that wasn't the only thing they could do.

They could still be friends.

I should be in the Power Chamber, Billy Cranston thought as he wandered down a path in the park. I'm supposed to be helping out there, I should be learning how everything works. But it's just too nice of a day to be indoors.

It was one of the most beautiful days Angel Grove had ever seen in quite a long time. Billy had awakened the same way he had every morning since the Zeo Quest had ended and the Power Rangers Zeo had been formed: with an empty place in his soul where his own powers had once been. He'd repeated the same phrase he had ever since that first morning to himself. You'll get used to it. Everyone else did.

He sighed a little, scuffling his feet in the dirt as he did so. Jason, Zack, Trini, and Kim had all gotten used to giving their powers up. But I didn't give mine up, he was rather harshly reminded. Mine were stolen from me.

"You know, if I didn't know better, I'd say that looked like a very depressed Billy Cranston walking towards us," a voice he knew as well as he knew his own breath landed on his ears, and caused him to stop in his tracks. He looked up to see three people standing in a row in front of him, three people he'd honestly never thought he'd see, at least not back in Angel Grove. It was the one in the center, the tall, muscular one still dressed in red, who had spoken. The boy to his left, in black-colored garments so familiar that Billy's heart ached to see it, grinned.

"I do believe you're right, Jason!" he declared. "Why don't we go see if we can cheer him up? Isn't that what best friends do, after all?"

Billy's lower lip was quivering, and his eyes were filling up with tears of pure joy as they settled on the one figure he would've given his entire soul to have seen the last few years. "Trini?" he whispered, not willing to believe he was actually seeing her again. "Trini, is that you?"

Jason and Zack looked at each other, then moved out of the way and behind the former Yellow Ranger. Trini hadn't said a word during the flight over here, and she had been the one to figure out Billy would be in the park, once he hadn't been in his lab or in the new Power Chamber. They watched, knowing it would only be a matter of time before it happened, before either Billy or Trini broke through the barriers that had been holding them apart all these years.

It was Trini who broke first. Unable to hold herself back from the arms she'd longed for ever since she was six years old, she ran towards Billy and wrapped her own around him. Billy stood in shocked surprise for a moment longer, then enveloped her in his own embrace. Tears spilled down both sets of cheeks as Jason and Zack just smiled, and headed for the Youth Center, eager to meet the two new girls they had heard about.

There was still a touch of pain in Billy's heart, but it was far, far, surpassed by the sheer joy that was pulsating through it now. He didn't ever want to let Trini go as the two of them held each other still. He had no idea how long it had been, but since it hadn't been forever, it hadn't been long enough.

"What was I ever thinking about, letting you go to Switzerland without saying something?" he murmured, feeling all the old pain he had back when he'd thought Trini had a crush on Richie. He'd had a talk with the other boy not long after Trini had left, and had found out Richie had a girlfriend back in the town he'd come from.

"The same thing I was, I guess," Trini whispered. "For leaving without saying something to you."

They managed to break apart, but just a few inches. Neither of them wanted to move any farther apart than that, lest something happen to interfere with their reunion. "What made you come back?" he asked, drinking in her long raven hair and sparkling eyes as if they were the very tonic of life itself. "Not that I'm complaining."

"I've wanted to come back ever since we left. I didn't really want to go in the first place, but it was such a great opportunity, and I honestly thought we could do something there, something that made more of a difference than being a Ranger," she told him. Both of them had noted somewhere in the back of their minds that Jason and Zack had left, but that didn't seem very important. This talk, this time with just the two of them, that was what was important. "I was wrong, Billy. Jason, Zack, and I talked about it just after we got there. Once the thrill wore of, it was just. . .dull. Talking. A lot of talking. Meetings, classes. It was just like being in Angel Grove High, only a lot duller, because nothing ever changed there. There weren't any monster attacks. No putties jumping us at odd hours. No one getting put under spells. I missed it. . .and I didn't at the same time."

Billy nodded, already he understood how she felt, the two of them had always understood each other the best. "You got my letter, then?"

"Yeah. That was really the catalyst. You were the last of the originals to give up the power, and it sort of drew us back here, I guess. We knew we had to be with you," she could see the shadows of pain and loss and regret in her friend's eyes, and wished that she could wash them away.

"It didn't draw everyone back," he half-muttered. "Kim's still in Florida," he didn't mention Aisha; though she was a good friend, she wasn't one of the originals, and she had something important there, anyway.

Trini smiled faintly. "Actually, she's in the Youth Center, talking with the others, by now, I think," oh, he looked so cute when he was startled, and she quickly continued. "When Kat called her up and told her of what had happened, she caught the first flight down here. When she heard that me, Jason, and Zack were coming to find you, she said she'd meet you and me in the Youth Center. After we 'talked', she said."

Billy flushed a deep red at that, then smiled just a little bit. They're all back. Something worried him, though. "What about going for the Pan-Globals? She's wanted that since she was a little girl, she shouldn't give that up just because of me losing my powers."

"What she told me was 'being with Billy and being with all of my other friends is the most important thing to me. Nothing else matters, not even winning a gold medal.'" Trini smiled at the way Billy's eyes seem to grow more and more filled with light as she spoke. The darkness was leaving them, and that made her even happier. I can't give him his powers back. . .but at least he's going to have his friends back.

Billy looked at Trini for several moments, hardly able to believe that this was all really happening. Jason, Zack, and Kim were back in town. He was with Trini. Or. . .was he? They had said things, but those words were still unsaid. Did he have the courage to say them? To risk so much. . .he thought she loved him, but until those words were said, he couldn't know. . .

"Trini," he said softly, reaching out to touch her cheek tenderly. "I'm glad everyone's back. It's like a dream come true, one that I've had ever since you, Jason, and Zack left for Switzerland. But there's still one part of the dream that hasn't come true yet."

"And what's that?"

The entire world seemed to stand still as Billy stepped closer to her, and slowly placed a gentle, tender, loving kiss on her lips. For a moment she just stood there, shocked, then began to return it tenderly. For several long moments they kissed, then Trini moved back just enough to look into Billy's eyes. Billy looked back at her, then softly whispered the words he had longed to say for so many long years.

"I love you, Trini."

"I love you, too, Billy."

"Welcome home."

The End.

Disclaimer: Adam Park and Tanya Sloan, plus anyone else in this fanfic, are the registered property of Saban Enterprises; no copyright infringement is meant by this, and I am not, nor do I desire to, making any profit at all on this. Author's Note: This takes place somewhere after the 'Rangers in the Outfield' PRZ episode, and is in the same universe as "Three Words" and "Welcome Home", and takes place approximately two weeks after "Welcome Home". For those just joining us, almost all of the former Rangers have returned to Angel Grove, and Billy and Trini are currently a couple. For the "Rangers in Romance" universe, just imagine that the former Rangers all help out in the Power Chamber like Billy did on the show. As for this fic, if I recall correctly, we were never told us how Adam and Tanya started dating, they just were. This is my take on how it happened.

The Question
By Niobe Craft

What is it about the Yellow Rangers that make them all so beautiful? Adam wondered, fiddling around with his pencil as he stared at Trini and Tanya from across the classroom. The four former Rangers had all been re-inrolled in Angel Grove High, and the classes they had all taken while in Switzerland or Florida had kept them apace with everyone else. Adam's thoughts weren't quite on history today, however. Aisha was gorgeous, Trini's lovely. ..but Tanya's just drop dead perfect.

He had had a crush on the Yellow Zeo Ranger ever since she'd arrived in their time and Angel Grove, and he'd felt a thick, stabbing pang of jealousy all during the weeks she'd been dating Shawn. When she'd finally stood up to him and broken up with him, while he'd been honestly glad for her, he'd also been glad for himself. Because now he had a chance with her.

Of all the girls I know, I think she's the best, he thought.She's smart, she's talented, and she's getting much better in the self-confidence area. Trini and Aisha were both very strong women, something Adam found very attractive, but something about seeing Tanya grow more and more of a backbone with every passing day intrigued the Green Ranger.

Adam let his thoughts drift a little, not paying that much attention to the lecture. He knew he could get the notes from Billy if he had to, and they'd make much more sense that way too. He'd gotten far higher grades since he'd started studying from Billy's notes anyway. They're a lot clearer than mine are, and they make more sense too. For someone who spoke habitually in an advanced manner, Billy's notes were written in a clear language that just about anyone could understand. He'd asked Billy about it once, and had laughed to find that Kim had been sharing Billy's study notes since they were about eleven.

The rest of class passed for Adam in a happy daze as he took just enough notes so if the teacher wandered by he looked as if he were paying attention. And he was, just not to what was being said. His real thoughts were on his fellow Ranger.

"You were thinking about her again," a voice came from behind him, jolting him into the realization that class had ended and he was still seated in his desk. He turned around to see Jason there, a faint smile on the former Ranger's face. Adam didn't know Jason all that well, but since they both shared the bond of the Power, he knew he could trust him. "Come on, we've both got Study Hall next, and I think you want someone to talk to."

Adam didn't seem to be able to say anything as Jason motioned him to precede him out of class and out of the building itself. Angel Grove High had a series of picnic tables where those with Study Hall or free time of some sort could go, and that was where the former Red Ranger led him. "I know we don't know each other all that well, Adam, but it's kind of obvious what's going on when you're staring at the same girl for almost an hour. With your tongue practically hanging out of your mouth, no less."

The Green Ranger blushed darkly, and Jason smiled. "I can't help it!" Adam finally spoke. "She's just so beautiful, I've never met anyone like her! I've really enjoyed teaching her kung fu, and she's talented at that too! She plays a mean game of baseball, and she kicks Cogs around like nobody's business! She even had the captain of the baseball team for a boyfriend!"

Jason nodded. "And she doesn't have one right now, either," he reminded his friend. "Look, if you want to have some form of relationship with her, you're going to have to start somewhere. The usual place is with a date. Why don't you ask her out?"

"Where would we go?" Adam almost strangled the words out. "What would we do?"

"That's up to you," Jason replied, his voice a perfect calm. "But it starts with you asking. Maybe she'll have an idea. You're not going to know anything unless you ask her. If she says no, then she says no."

Adam bit his lip a little. Jason's right. If she says no, I lose all my dreams. But if she says yes. . .I get them all. What the heck. "I'll ask her," he said at last. Jason smiled, and gestured behind him. Adam turned to see Tanya standing not that far away; just enough so that she couldn't have overheard what he was saying, but close enough so she knew they had been talking. Kim wasn't very far behind her, and had a peculiar look in her eyes as she moved back into the shadows. He looked to the side to see Jason also walking away, and had the strongest whiff of a setup he'd ever dealt with. Slowly, he started over to Tanya.

Tanya watched, fear and excitement dancing all in the pit of her stomach as Adam slowly, dreamily packed his books together. She knew he hadn't been paying attention, and she wondered just who had been the focus of his mental wanderings. Who's the lucky girl?

"Tanya?" she looked over to see the perky Kimberly looking up at her. "Can we talk?" It was the last class that all the Rangers, retired and active, shared, and the last thing she'd expected was for Kim to interrupt the day-dreaming session she'd been having. She didn't know the former Pink Ranger all that well, but then again, she didn't really know any of them all that well, considering she'd only met them just over a month earlier.

And it's been the most action-packed month of my life, she thought half-dryly to herself. She'd moved from Africa to Angel Grove, become a superhero, gained and lost a boyfriend, and found herself with one of the most major infatuations she'd ever thought possible in her life. Having four other new strangers move into her life was every bit as wild.

"What's up, Kim?" she asked casually, trying to snatch a peek at Adam as he was spirited away by Jason. "Something I can help you with?"

"Sort of something that I hope I can help you with," the young gymnast smiled briefly. She'd come back to Angel Grove mainly to help Billy deal with the harsh facts of losing his powers, but she'd also been planning on coming back anyway. There were things she seriously needed to talk over with Tommy, but that was going to have to wait until she helped Tanya out.

The Yellow Ranger looked at her newest friend. "What are you talking about?" she can't know that I've had a crush on Adam for days now! How could she POSSIB. ..oh. That's how she knows.

The day after Jason, Zack, Trini, and Kim had returned, all the female Rangers had spent the night at Kat's house, talking their hearts out and getting to know each other as best they could. Tanya had never specifically said that she liked Adam, especially since she'd still been going out with Shawn at the time, but she'd accidentally let it slip she had a 'crush' on someone, and it wasn't her boyfriend. The others hadn't said anything, but not one of those girls were stupid. They could figure out what was going on without a whole lot of trouble.

"Adam's the one you've got the crush on, isn't it?" Kim asked softly, motioning Tanya to walk with her. They all had Study Hall after History, but unless they had specific plans, they usually spent the hour apart, it gave them all some much needed rest from the entire group, and those of them who were romantically linked usually spent that time with each other.

Tanya blushed a little, and that was all Kim needed to see. "And you haven't said a word to him about it, have you?" the Yellow Ranger only blushed deeper. "I didn't think so. Well, my friend, I've got it on some very good authority that there's a fairly good chance that Adam feels the same way about you!"

"He does?" Tanya literally breathed the words out. "How? Who says so?"

Kim just smiled wider. "I won't name my sources, after all, I need my spies. Jason's talking with Adam now. I know you won't want to eavesdrop. But would you at least like to be there so he doesn't have to walk all over the school to find you, if he's going to tell you what I think he is?"

She didn't have to ask twice. Tanya's eyes were already bright with joy and delight at the very thought that Adam might be telling her anything! Kim could only smile. "Come on, I know where Jason took him."

Tanya felt almost as if she were floating as Kim guided her out of the hallway they'd been talking in, and out near the picnic tables. They paused in the entranceway, and the first thing Tanya saw was Adam rising. She had watched him from so many different angles and in so many different moods, she could tell at once that he was happy about something. When he turned around, she caught a glimpse of Jason behind him, but barely noticed him. Her attention was all taken up with the young man in green right in front of him. Slowly, Adam started towards her.

"Um, hi, Tanya," Adam wasn't technically stuttering, but his speech was almost halting as he came over to her. "I was wondering something. ..if you're not busy tonight, since it's Friday and everything. . .would you like to go out with me tonight? Maybe to the movies or something?"

Tanya smiled softly, reaching out to take his hand. "I'd love to, Adam," she replied. "I thought you'd never ask me."

"How could I not ask you?" he smiled, finding a sudden upwelling of strength from somewhere inside of him. It washed away all the uncertainty and doubt he'd felt ever since he'd first laid eyes on her, and left only courage and love in it's wake. "I love you."

Slowly, he leaned forward, catching her even as she was doing the same. Their lips met in a soft, tender kiss, and both suddenly felt as if their hearts and souls were set on fire. "I love you, too, Adam," Tanya murmured when they got around to drawing apart.

As the new couple walked hand in hand away, Jason and Kim looked at each other and lightly high-fived. True love always did have it's way of finding the Power Rangers. And it didn't look as if Adam and Tanya were an exception to the rule.

The End.

Disclaimer: Tommy Oliver and Katherine Hillard, plus anyone else in this fanfic, are the registered property of Saban Enterprises; no copyright infringement is meant by this, and I am not, nor do I desire to, making any profit at all on this.

Author's Note: This is the fourth in the "Rangers in Romance" series, coming after "The Question" in that timeline, and takes the general place of "There's No Business Like Snow Business" in the PRZ timeline.

The Power of Love
by By Niobe Craft

He didn't love Kimberly anymore. Not like she deserved to be loved, and not how he had loved her for the past couple of years. It hadn't happened overnight. He hadn't woke up one morning and realized he wasn't in love with her anymore. It had just happened. The realization of it had come on him slowly and gradually, until it was staring him in the face so plainly he wondered why it had taken him so long to realize what was going on.

What do I do now? was the first question on his mind. What could he do? He and Kim had dated for almost three years, how in the world was he supposed to just walk up to her and say, "Hey, girl, I don't think we're right for each other anymore, so I'll see you later!"

He snorted to himself. He knew better than to do anything that thoughtless; he'd have more people hunting for his head than he would know what to do with. But he couldn't continue to live a lie, and he couldn't just dump her, it was too wrong.

"Tommy?" he looked up to see the very person that he had been thinking about standing next to him, a worried expression on her sweet face. "Tommy, I need to talk to you."

He smiled a little bit, not quite the same smile he'd ever used towards her, and he knew she could tell. "What's up, Kim?"

"Us," she said smally, sitting down next to him on the porch swing outside his house he'd been thinking and swinging on. Silence fell between them after that single syllable, neither of them suddenly able to say or do anything for an unknown amount of time.

Finally he decided he should break that silence. "It's not going to work out, is it?" he said quietly. He knew, or at least hoped he knew, that was something like what she'd come to talk to him about.

"No," she replied just as quietly. "I. ..I don't know what happened, Tommy. It just isn't like it used to be. .."

He reached out to put an arm around her, holding her tiny frame closer to him as she suddenly burst into tears. "We weren't ever supposed to break up!" she cried. "Why can't it be like it was when we first fell in love?"

"Things change," he murmured, holding her close. It was different already, they didn't feel that same inner warmth that they had when they were together before. "I guess we just grew apart."

Kim took a deep, hitching breath, pulling back from him and nodding. "I'll always be your friend, Tommy. I'm glad I came back to Angel Grove when I did. . .I wouldn't have wanted to break up with you any other way except in person."

Tommy nodded again. "I'm glad you came. ..I was trying to figure out how to talk to you about this. I couldn't think of a way to tell you that. . .I don't love you like I used to."

"It wasn't easy," Kim touched his hand, not as she had when they were dating, but in a strange, almost uncertain way that he barely remembered from that short time before they had started dating, when they had just been friends. "But I'm glad I did it. And before you ask, no, there isn't anyone else. I just. . .don't feel how I used to about you anymore. I wish I did. .."

"Don't," his ex-girlfriend shook her head, looking deeply into his eyes. "Don't, Tommy. What we had was wonderful, and I won't ever forget it, or you. And I'll be your friend forever. . .but there is a time to change, to move on, and that's now, I think. For both of us."

Tommy nodded quietly, fighting to hold off the tears in his eyes. Though he had planned to break up with her, something about having her do it to him was shattering his heart. He knew she was telling the truth, knew that everything she said was right, but it still hurt. "Whenever you do find someone, Kim," he forced the words out, and used more force still to make certain she couldn't tell how painful this was to him. "I wish you the best of luck with him."

Kim nodded quietly, moving off the porch. "And I wish you luck, Tommy."

As she passed out of his sight, Tommy found his thoughts growing darker and darker with every passing moment. Why did she dump me? he thought. What did I do wrong? What if I AM wrong, what if I still love her and I'm just feeling a bit down cause we haven't had a real date in a while?

Without knowing why, he flicked his wrists, summoning up his red zeoinzers. Zordon lied to me, he thought a touch bitterly. He said that the White Tiger morphin powers could never be taken away from me, and they have. Twice. How many more times. . .how many more times will I have to live through what's mine being taken away? I don't know who my real parents are. . .I've had my powers drained or stolen four times already, the world's on the brink of total invasion, I don't know how long we can hold it back. All they'd have to do is launch an all out invasion to sweep us out of the way. I don't know why they haven't already.

He trembled, causing the morphing tools to vanish, and took a tighter grip on the swing. We could all be killed. . .all my friends, everyone I care about, all destroyed, and it would be my fault, because I couldn't lead them well enough. Because I'm just flat out not good enough. Why do they let me stay, I should just give my powers up and go...

Go where? Where does a washed-up superhero go when he has no girlfriend and nothing else? I don't HAVE anything, and I don't deserve it. I should just go find a convenient cliff to fall off of. ..

Tommy's eyes slipped closed almost without his even noticing it, and he slid off the porch swing onto the floor, deep into something that might have been sleep, if it weren't as deep as the ocean and as full of shadows as the blackness between the stars themselves. The last thing he heard, so faint he wasn't even sure if he did hear it, was a laugh that was all too familiar.

The evil cackle of Rita Repulsa.

"What's going on, Zordon?" the Rangers, retired and active alike, shouted various forms of that question as they crowded around the consoles in the Power Chamber.

Rangers, please calm down. Something very disturbing has occurred, Zordon tried to talk to them. Not quite ten minutes ago, our sensors detected a powerful surge of evil energy directed at Tommy's house. Before we could stop it, it had enveloped him and he vanished from our sensors for a few moments. This is all we have been able to pick up since then.

Everyone looked up to the Viewing Globe, and Kim caught her breath at the sight of Tommy literally laying on the floor of the porch, his eyes closed, breathing regularly. . .but with a dark cloud literally hovering inches above his head.

Our scans indicate that the cloud is increasing Tommy's fears, doubts, and dark emotions, with the single goal of turning him to the side of evil for all time. The cloud's energy readings indicate that Rita and Lord Zedd are responsible for it. There might also be a way to eradicate it.

"How?" Kim blinked briefly as Kat spoke up faster than any of them. "We can't just let them do that to him!"

And we will not, Katherine, Zordon reassured the Pink Ranger. But it will not be easy. The only thing that could possibly break through the shadow is love. Pure, romantic love, the type of love for someone that means you are willing to sacrifice your very life for them, and to spend that life with them if they feel the same way about you. True love.

Everyone turned to look at Kim, who wasn't certain if she wanted to scream or cry at the moment. "It's not me, guys. I. ..broke up with Tommy this morning. This thing probably hit just after I left. Knowing Rita and Zedd, they timed it for that. They. ..probably think that there's no one who can save him, and they're right. . ."

"I want to try," this time, everyone was turning to Kat as she stepped a little forward. "I don't know if I can. . .but I want to try."

Do you love Tommy, Katherine? Zordon had never indulged himself in watching the private lives of his Rangers; it was enough for him that they had those private lives, and were carrying them out in normal fashion.

The Pink Ranger took what had to be the longest breath in creation. "I think I do. But whether I do or not, I have to try. I have to. We can't just leave him there."

I understand, Katherine, the old wizard smiled faintly and nodded. Alpha, prepare to teleport the Pink Ranger to Tommy. Katherine, I wish you luck.

"Bring him home to us, Kat," Kim said, taking her friend's hand suddenly. She didn't know how Tommy felt about Kat, but with a flash of insight, she knew just how Kat felt about Tommy. And probably has for a while now. These things just don't come out of nowhere. I hope this works. . .

Kat smiled for a moment, concealing the sheer amounts of relief that had filled her soul the moment she had heard that Kim had broken up with Tommy. She wished Kim the best of luck, but at long last, she felt like she had a chance with a guy she had had a crush on since she'd first come to Angel Grove. Then her vision was blotted out for a moment, as she was teleported to Tommy's side.

The first thing she saw was that cloud hovering over Tommy. Now that she was there, she could see something that the monitors hadn't picked up: tiny tendrils of cloud-stuff were connecting the cloud to Tommy's head. She recoiled from the very thought, then her eyes narrowed.

This is your handiwork, Rita, she thought. I'll save you, Tom. She reached out for a moment, touching Tommy's forehead, then jerking her hand back as a trickle of blood-red lightning snaked out of the cloud and shocked her. Kat's eyes narrowed even further, and she put her hand back on his forehead, ignoring the shocks that came faster and faster the longer her hand was connected. I won't let you stop me, Rita. I love him!

As the words passed through her mind, a wash of purest pink light flashed through her mind, tinged with shades of green, white, and red. When she opened her eyes, the first thing she saw was Tommy, standing there staring up into the sky, with a crystal-white moon hovering over him. In plain sight was the Lunar Palace, with Rita and Zedd on the balcony, watching him.

"Come home, Tommy!" Rita's voice was actually soothing and reassuring. "We'll make everything right again. Remember when you were my Green Ranger? No one bothered you then. . .you didn't have any problems then. Come home."

Tommy took another step towards them, and Kat could see he was almost to where he could easily reach the two monarchs of evil. He was wearing a uniform that was a weird amalgam of the uniform of the Red Zeo Ranger, the White Ranger outfit, and something she recognized from old news programs as being the first Green Ranger's uniform. As he stepped forward, the mantle over his shoulders, which had been that of the White Ranger, slowly morphed into the Green Ranger's. He didn't wear a helmet, but in his hand there was one that was striped green, white, and red: with green predominant.

Not going to happen, Rita, she growled to herself, running over to him as fast as she could move. "Tommy, snap out of it! I don't know what they're trying to convince you of, but they are wrong! You're not evil, you don't belong to them, you belong to yourself, and to no one else!"

"But I wouldn't exist without them," his voice wasn't the same warm, familiar one she knew so well, but at the same time it was, shot through with an edge of coldness. "If it weren't for Queen Rita, I wouldn't have been a Power Ranger. Ever."

Kat snorted visibly. "Sure. She sent you on the quest for the Zeo Crystal, didn't she? You went through the Desert of Despair to get to the Temple of Ninja Power. She gave you the White Ranger Coin."

"If she hadn't made me the Green Ranger, none of it would have happened," he said. "I owe it all to her."

The Pink Ranger growled softly; there was little she could say to deny that. If Tommy hadn't been chosen as the evil Green Ranger, then none of the rest of his Power Ranger life would have happened. I've got to get him to realize the truth. The REAL truth, behind the superficial stuff. Someone, anyone, help me! Help me to find the words I need to say!! Almost as if someone had heard her, she began to speak. "I wouldn't be a Ranger, either, if it weren't for Rita," the words spouted out of her. "If she hadn't made me into P.C., then I wouldn't have become friends with Kim in time for her to decide to pass the Power Coin to me when she moved to Florida. Sure we both owe her being a Ranger. . .but does that mean we should be hers? Should we let one instance, one short time, determine our future, or should we do it for ourselves? I chose to fight for good, to use the chance she gave me to destroy her. She picked us both, yes: but in that she armed weapons against her. In your case, the best weapon ever."

Tommy turned briefly to look at her, and she could see his eyes were glowing a very faint green. "You're lying," he said weakly. "You don't care about me. . .no one do---"

"Oh, stop that before you even get started, Oliver!" Kat snapped, slapping him harshly across the face, her temper fraying. "We do care about you, your parents do, Zordon does, all the other Rangers do. Kim still thinks of you as a friend, and you've got more family members than I can count, and if you open your mouth on how they're not blood, I'm going to knock you flat on your butt. You should know better than any of us that it isn't being born into a group of people that makes a family, it's the love you share. And I love you, Tommy. Not like a brother. Not like a friend. I love you. I don't know if I want to spend the rest of my life with you, but I do know that I want to find out!"

She smiled faintly to see the green light fading from his eyes, then whirled, knowing Rita and Zedd were going to be trying something. She had a little surprise for them, though. Ever since she'd been freed from Rita's control, Kat had studied mental disciplines. Not just karate or the general self-defense most of the female team members did, she'd went in for the very esoteric things. She'd wanted to understand what Rita had done, and figure out a way to protect herself and her friends. She'd kept her studies a secret from her friends, more because she wasn't certain just how to tell them than any other reason.

As she turned, she saw a blaze of purest green light heading towards them, obviously intending on overwhelming Tommy's weak mental defenses with a blast of purest evil. She almost laughed as the light bounced off a rose-pink shield she'd erected. "I've been busy, Rita!" she grinned, concentrating on strengthening the shield as the energy from the evil sorceress increased.

She's strong, Kat remembered vividly now how powerful Rita was, and then saw Zedd had raised his staff, joining his power to his wife's. I can't stop them both alone! she almost panicked, then her resolve firmed. She loved Tommy with all her heart and soul, and she wasn't going to let any two-bit little magicians take him away from her!

"You can't win!" Rita's voice twisted into her mind, and Kat poured all her strength into the shield, ignoring her. "You're all alone, and we'll destroy you!"

"Bite me," Kat grunted, taking a perverse bit of pleasure in the mild insult. She could feel them winning, however, as the green energy began to push back her shield. I tried. . .I'm sorry, Tommy.

Then, a warm hand wrapped around her own, and she felt, rather than saw, Tommy, clad all in the Red Zeo uniform now, no trace of white or green, smiling. "Forget this, Rita. I'm not your Ranger anymore. I changed. I grew up. Give it a shot some time, it could improve your disposition."

He turned Kat towards him, and smiled into her eyes. "Thank you," was all he had time to say before the moon over them vanished, and both of them were back on Tommy's porch, their eyes opening. The cloud was gone from Tommy's head, and they could both feel that Rita and Zedd's evil taint had been banished from the Red Ranger at last.

"Thank you," he repeated, reaching out to hold her hand again. "Kat, I felt you in my mind. You were there, weren't you?"

She blushed the faintest bit, and nodded. "We're going to have to talk, I think, about what you've been studying," he smiled and touched her hand. "You know, I know I just broke up with Kim. . .but I was wondering something. . ."

"What's that?" Kat asked softly, not looking at him, studying instead the play of light on a row of geraniums.

"Would you like to go out with me sometime?" he asked gently. "There's supposed to be a really good movie playing at the Multiplex this weekend. . ."

The Pink Ranger blushed even more, her cheeks already the color of his uniform. "I'd love to, Tommy."

He smiled even more warmly at her, and felt the half-formed specter of his breakup with Kim vanishing. He'd never bounced back so fast from a relationship, even one he'd known for a time just wouldn't work out, but then again, he'd never had someone wandering around in his mind declaring her love to the universe. He wasn't so sure of his feelings as she was of his, but he was, like she was, willing to find out.

The future promised to be very, very exciting.

The End.

Disclaimer: Carlos Santiago and Ashley Hammond, plus anyone else in this fanfic, are the registered property of Saban Enterprises; no copyright infringement is meant by this, and I am not, nor do I desire to, making any profit at all on this.

Author's Note: This is also in the "Rangers in Romance" fanfic series, but it goes beyond the Rangers that we have worked with until now to enter the Turbo era. Or more precisely, that rather amusing slice of time when Carlos and Ashley had been introduced, but weren't Rangers yet. In the Romance timeline, that means this is after "The Power of Love.". This is a little different than the others, since the beginning of this takes place actually DURING a PRT episode: "A Drive to Win" to be precise. I specifically watched this episode in slow motion to recreate the dialogue accurately, and I apologize. I just wanted to get into the heads of these two for a while, and show things that Saban didn't.

Before It All
by By Niobe Craft

It had been an exciting experience, to fight those fish-things. Piranatrons, Carlos remembered they were called now. He'd seen them on the news, but this was his first time ever seeing one, or rather about a dozen, up close and personal. There was someone else he was thinking about being up close and personal with, however: the beautiful girl walking next to him.

He'd seen her around school, and at all the soccer games, of course. But he didn't know her name. He wanted to, though, and he'd hoped that walking her home would be a good chance to find out some things about her. She was so pretty, he wasn't certain if his pulse was racing because of the fight they'd just had with the Piranatrons, or the fact she was within three inches of him.

Well, I gotta start somewhere, he thought. "By the way, my name's Carlos," he introduced himself, holding out his hand. She shook it politely, with a smile on her face.

"Ashley," she replied. Wow, he's actually talking to me. She'd been captivated by the dark-eyed soccer player almost from the moment she saw him, and had wondered how she could introduce herself without seeming pushy. Was it possible this strange attack could do it for them? Gotta say something nice. . ."Hey, I saw the way you stayed and fought those creeps. I thought that was pretty cool."

Carlos smiled. Ashley. What a beautiful name. "You weren't so bad yourself," he congratulated her. Actually, I thought you were awesome.

Ashley grinned, tossing her head to one side. "You know, you didn't have to walk me home. I can take care of myself, too," I might not be a major martial artist, but I at LEAST know how to defend myself. You're asking for trouble living in Angel Grove if you don't. Ordinary people weren't often attacked in the monster-infested town, but every now and then, accidents did happen. It was best to be prepared.

"I know, I--I needed some excuse to talk to you," he blurted out, blushing a fiery red as he did so. Oh, she's going to think I'm an idiot now! That wasn't a smart thing to say, Santiago!

Ashley ducked her head a little as they turned a corner, and a fiery blush spread across her own cheeks. "Really?" she murmured a little. "You wanted to talk to me?"

"Sure," he decided he might as well go for broke. "I've wanted to talk to you for a long time now. Well, a couple of weeks, at least."

"About what?"

Carlos' throat choked and closed up. He had thought and envisioned a thousand different scenarios which would lead up to him asking her out for the first time, but none of them had ever included the fact they'd be walking home from an attack at the soccer field. Out of his mouth came the first thing that entered his mind.

"Would you like to go see a movie tonight? The early show, since we both need some rest for tomorrow?"

Ashley was taken aback; she'd liked the soccer hotshot ever since she first saw him, but the last thing on her mind was the fact that he'd ask her out! What do I say? What do I say? Say something, Hammond! "I'd love to!" she grinned. Why did I say that? I should be practicing and resting tonight. Oh, what the heck. ..I haven't had a date in six months, I've been too busy trying to get in shape for cheerleading. ..I could use some fun! And Carlos could be the perfect person to have some with.

"Great!" he grinned. "I think if we hurry, we should have time to change and catch the next showing!" he glanced at his watch. "It'll be in an hour. Meet you there in thirty minutes?"

Ashley nodded, pausing on the sidewalk. "This is my place," she said, gesturing to the large house on the hill. Carlos looked at it, and it was all he could do not to let his jaw drop so far it hit the ground.

"You live there?" it wasn't exactly a mansion, but it could have fooled someone who didn't know much better. "It's beautiful!"

Ashley smiled. "Thanks. And thanks for walking me home, Carlos. I really liked it."

She looked just a little nervous, and knew it, as she took a step away from him and towards the house. "I'll see you in thirty minutes?" she wasn't all that certain she really wanted to go inside just yet. Even if they didn't fall in love, and she knew that the odds on that were good since she already had a crush on him, and he did on her, apparently, as well, she had the very strong feeling she had just made one very good friend.

"Yeah," Carlos stepped away himself, looking down the road to the small offshoot path that would eventually lead to his own house. "See you then?"

The two of them waved to each other as they started apart, Ashley up to her house, and Carlos down to his. Both of them were humming just under their breaths, a merry, happy tune. This quite literally looked to be the beginning of one beautiful friendship.

Ashley was almost jumping out of her skin with joy as she sat next to him in the darkened theater. She'd been ten minutes early to their rendezvous, somehow not caring what that made her look like, be it desperate or otherwise. As she'd showered and changed, she'd thought over and over again about how cute and nice he was. Sure he had problems working on a team, but she had something in mind on how to fix that the next day. That does sort of depend on how tonight goes, she thought. If it was a flop, her plan to help him learn teamwork would probably fail just as fast.

So far, however, things looked like they were going perfectly. He had shown up five minutes after she had, dressed casually, but impeccably at the same time. They'd shared the popcorn and drink bill, and he'd paid for her ticket and his both. All in all, the perfect 90s date.

She's beautiful, Carlos was musing more on his date than on the movie screen, where various things were blowing up with fair amounts of noise. I wonder if she's got a boyfriend. ..stuff it, Santiago, if she had one, would she be here with you? No.

"It's a great movie," he whispered softly, smiling as she turned her head to look directly into her deep brown eyes. "I'm glad you came, Ashley."

She smiled a little. "You know, this is the first time I've ever been on a date with someone who I really officially met only today?"

"Really?" he knew he was blushing, and was glad his skin tone hid it to a degree. "Same for me."

Ashley smiled at him, and thanks to the darkness of the theater and his own skin, she was just barely able to see his blush. "I'm really having a good time," she murmured. This is the best. . .

Slowly, carefully, Carlos reached out, first brushing her fingertips with his own, then sliding his hand all the way around hers. She glanced at him, then squeezed his hand every bit as gently as he had touched hers. Hand in hand, they watched the rest of the movie.

By the time they got out of the theater, the sun had just set. "I wish we could stay out later, but I told my mom I'd be home by seven," Ashley sighed. "I've got homework, and the game tomorrow. I've got to be fresh to cheer the team on!" she half-teased.

"Yeah," Carlos hadn't been thinking nearly as much about the team as she had been, or about soccer, for a change. Until she mentioned it, he hadn't thought about soccer all night, actually. "I've got to get some rest too."

As silence wrapped around them, they walked through the park, taking the long way home. They weren't that far from where Ashley would be able to walk home by herself when they stopped, turning as one to look at each other.

"I had a really great time this afternoon, Carlos," she said. "Think we could do it again some time?"

"I'd love to," he agreed, feeling already like he was walking on air. He shot up to the stratosphere when she leaned over and quietly kissed him on the cheek.

"I'll see you tomorrow," was all she said as she waved, and headed for home. Carlos stared after her for a few moments, then smiled, going down the street himself.

Oh, yeah, he nodded sharply. They would most definitely be seeing more of each other in the days to come, be it as friends, as boyfriend and girlfriend, or anything else. He had a strong feeling that no matter what, Carlos Santiago and Ashley Hammond had a very long future ahead of them, together.

The End.

Disclaimer: Andros of KO-35 and Ashley Hammond, plus anyone else in this fanfic, are the registered property of Saban Enterprises; no copyright infringement is meant by this, and I am not, nor do I desire to, making any profit at all on this.

Author's Note: This fanfic deals with everyone {well, some people's} favorite space-faring couple, Andros and Ashley. It's after "Before It All" {WAY after!} in the "Rangers in Romance" timeline, and in the PRiS timeline, is the date that Andros asked Ashley on at the end of "Red With Envy".

Until the Stars Burn Out
By Niobe Craft

It was a clear night in Angel Grove, spectacular and star-filled. Stars were on the minds of two young people, two very special young people, that night. Andros, from the space colony of KO-35 in the Kerova system, and Ashley Hammond, from Angel Grove, California, Earth, were heading to the observatory to watch the passage of a comet. It was their first date.

And it hadn't been that easy of a date for either of them to ask the other out on. Andros had been alone for two years, mourning the near-death of his best friend, and hunting endlessly for his sister. Ashley had been dating Carlos, until just after they'd become Rangers. After they received their Turbo powers, things had changed for both of them. The mutual attraction had relaxed into a friendship that they both felt they were the better off for.

Ashley had known the moment she saw Andros for the first time, however, that this different. This wasn't a passing infatuation, or someone who would just be a friend, like T.J. and Carlos were. This was it. This was love.

Who would have ever thought I'd fall in love with someone from another planet? she chuckled to herself as they walked along the path. But ever since I saw him, I felt. . .something. . .

A slight tremble ran down her spine as she thought of that first moment. He'd been morphed, and she'd been a powerless former Turbo Ranger, half-terrified at the strangeness of the past few hours, from the destruction of the Power Chamber to how they had found themselves on this strange ship. But something about him had caught at her mind and her heart, and when she had seen him unmorphed after the battle, she'd been even more impressed.

Her eyes danced a little at the thought of how she'd acted, and how she'd tried to cover it up. You're human! Well, I didn't know, he could've been a giant lizard!

Cassie had teased her for two weeks about that, but Ashley hadn't minded. The Pink Ranger was using that to deal with her own heart's dilemma. The crush she'd had on the Phantom Ranger had faded, but something was taking it's place, something far more lasting, with someone else. Ashley decided she'd think about that later. Cassie was a big girl, she could deal with her own love life. The Yellow Astro Ranger wanted to think about her own.

"It's a beautiful night," she said, more for something to say than much else. "Excellent for looking at the stars." and other heavenly bodies, she thought a bit wickedly to herself, sneaking a peek at Andros' well-muscled shoulders and arms.

Andros nodded, trying not to betray how nervous he was. This wasn't just his first date in two years, this wasn't just his first date with Ashley, this was his first date ever. He didn't have the foggiest idea of what he was doing or should be doing. All he knew was he liked Ashley more than he'd ever liked any girl that he had ever met in his entire life.

"We're almost there," he said, glancing at the Observatory on the hill they were fast approaching. They could've seen things just as well or better from the MegaShip, but since they stayed there pretty much all the time, it wouldn't mean that much to still be there for a date.

A flicker of thought moved through his mind, wondering what was wrong with Zhane. The newly awakened Silver Ranger was being just a bit evasive about something, and his best friend didn't like that very much. He shrugged mentally; whatever it is, he'd find out about it in due time. It wasn't like secrets could be kept on the MegaShip for very long.

Though I HAVE managed to keep it from everyone about how much I like Ashley, he thought, smiling as he looked to the brown-haired girl bouncing along next to him. I almost fainted when Zhane told me she was asking about me. I wonder what she wanted to know. . .

"Andros," Ashley paused for a moment, causing him to stop and look at her, the very faintest hint of curiosity and worry in the back of his eyes. "Um, I know you were sort of upset at Zhane earlier, cause you thought I liked him. . .more than I like you," the last words came out in a rush, and she couldn't meet his eyes when she said them. "I asked him to help me with the telekinesis for a reason, though."

Andros wasn't used to touching other people. He hadn't in a long time, and habits as ingrained as these were in him were the next thing to impossible to break. But going against everything his instincts were trying to scream at him, he reached out to touch Ashley's cheek for a moment, then lifted her head to look into his eyes. They were twin pools of deepest brown, like pure amber, and every time he looked into them, he felt the long years lift from him and a spark of hope glow in his soul.

"Why?" the simple word covered almost everything, without either of them knowing how. Was he not a good enough teacher, did she not think she could do it and just couldn't tell him, what was going on?

Ashley's lips bent just the slightest bit, and she brushed his hand with her own fingertips. "I asked him to help me because every time I got near you, I couldn't focus one little bit on what you were trying to teach me," she smiled. "I kept getting distracted by my teacher."

He smiled softly as they stepped just a little bit apart, then headed into the Observatory. Andros' step was lighter than it had been in years as he digested what he'd found out. I felt the same way she does. I still do. The only reason I've ever been able to do anything telekinetically when I was around her was because I've had more years of practice than she has. If it were the other way around, I swear that I wouldn't be able to concentrate for two seconds.

No one was at the Observatory that night, except for the usual guard. Halley's Comet's passage was something unusual, but most of the crowds had come earlier in the day. It was their time now, and the two of them were going to enjoy it to the hilt.

"It's amazing," Ashley looked up through the telescope at the passing comet. "To think we've been to places that comet will never go, and will keep going. . ."

Andros nodded, peering through it as she stepped back. "We could've seen it clearer from the MegaShip, but I like coming to your world. It's not home. But. ..it's nice."

"Well, KO-35 is a nice place, too," Ashley reminded him, smiling. "And I really owe it."

The Red Ranger frowned a little, not quite certain what she meant. "It gave me you," she said quietly, reaching forward to touch his hand. "It gave me a great friend." and maybe more one day. But what more. . .we're going to have to wait and find out.

Andros smiled and glanced back to the comet, and the stars beyond it. "Friends," he whispered softly. And more one day. He looked back up at her. "You see those stars?" he gestured up to the burning orbs beyond the telescope. "For two years I was as lonely as they are. Thousands, millions of miles in between me and everyone else. Then you and the others came into my life. . .and now Zhane is back. . ."

"The loneliness went away," she said softly, knowing even as she spoke that it wasn't fully a lie, yet wasn't truly the truth. He didn't correct her, though. "The reason that we came into space was a sad one, and it hurt to lose our old powers. ..but I think it's for the best in the end, because I met you. And we'll be friends forever," she looked up at the stars herself. "Until the stars themselves burn out, Andros. Forever."

He nodded, the very tiniest of smiles on his lips. Until the stars burn out.

The End.

Disclaimer: Zhane of KO-35 and Astronema/Karone of KO-35, plus anyone else in this fanfic, are the registered property of Saban Enterprises; no copyright infringement is meant by this, and I am not, nor do I desire to, making any profit at all on this.

Author's Note: Who doesn't love this romantic linkup? A Ranger and a Princess of Evil, their hearts drawing them together, but their destinies drawing them apart. ..or do they? Only those who read this fanfic will know my take on the subject. This is after "Until the Stars Burn Out" in the "Romance" timeline, and after "Countdown to Destruction, Part 2" in the PRiS timeline.

After the Countdown
by Niobe Craft

Earth was looming larger and larger in the viewscreens, and the hearts of everyone on board the Astro MegaShip were growing lighter. They were almost home. Almost back to a place that would be changed forever from what they had known only a few short days earlier.

Three days ago, it had been Andros, Ashley, T.J., Cassie, Carlos, and Zhane, the Astro Rangers, with their mighty arsenal of Zords, who had been struggling in the seemingly endless battle of good versus evil. Three days ago, it had been Astronema, Princess of Darkness, who had been giving the orders to destroy all that was good in the universe.

Today was different. Today it was over. The war between good and evil had ended at last, at least for now, and the forces of good had won. Andros had released all the powerful energies of good from the great sage Zordon's tube, and it had wiped the universe clean of evil and corruption. Now the Rangers' identities were known publicly on Earth, and the once-isolated planet had made full interstellar contact at last.

Karone of KO-35 stood in the shipboard uniform she had re-donned not that long ago, staring at the planet that was so close to them through the window of the room she had been assigned. It wasn't a very long trip between the two planets, but they were going to be staying the night on the ship at least once. She wasn't certain, but she thought they were probably going to be living on it for a while, actually. It was the only place that would be safe from the hordes of media attention they were sure to get once they had returned.

She wasn't looking forward to her part of it, either. Her blue eyes were troubled as they drew closer to Earth, and her lower lip trembled just a little. Only three days earlier, she had been Astronema, and she had been fighting against the Rangers, seeking to conquer and dominate all the universe. Now, thanks to Zordon and thanks to Andros' love for her, she was cleansed as well, free of evil and ready to make a new start. Will he remember what we had? Does he CARE? Does he remember he was the first person to realize I wasn't as evil as everyone thought I was?

That was what was going through the former evil princess's mind as she watched. A quiet voice from behind her startled her out of her thoughts. "You don't regret coming along, do you?"

She expected it to be Andros. She should have known that her brother would be with his girlfriend Ashley. Karone hadn't known the Yellow Ranger long, but she could tell there was something very special in between the two of them, and had sensed it even when she was Astronema.

"No, I don't," she replied, smiling at Zhane as he stood in the doorway. "K0-35 isn't my home. It's just where I was born. The only home I have is with you guys."

The Silver Astro Ranger nodded, then joined her inside when she motioned to him. "I know. We've all spent so much time away from it. I was in suspended animation for two years, Andros has been alone for that long, and you. . .," his voice trailed off a bit.

"I was trying to take over the universe," she smiled only a little bit. It was deadly serious, but saying it out loud did make it seem just a little funny. Zhane smiled quietly as he sat down on her bed. She looked at him, then back out to the Earth. They still had some time, and she knew they needed to talk. "You know something, Zhane?"

He raised one eyebrow, and she smiled. "You owe me a dinner date. The last one we tried sort of got. ..delayed."

Zhane blushed at the memory of that abortive date, when Ecliptor had sent a monster that had almost destroyed the Rangers, and had angered Astronema to the point she hadn't wanted to see him again. He was glad she'd gotten over that, though! "I'll get one set up as soon as I can," he promised. "Karone. . .I . . .I wanted to talk to you."

She looked over at him, raising one eyebrow in her own turn. "What about?"

The Silver Ranger had never quite felt like this in his entire life. When he had lived on KO-35, he had bounced from girl to girl like a rubber ball, dating one after the other, never quite satisfied, always searching for someone or something more. He'd found a small piece of what he was looking for in Andros, a strong friend and companion that he could really open up to, and who would open up to him in return. He hadn't quite been happy, though. Not all the way. It hadn't been until he had met, truly met, someone that by all the laws of the universe he should've destroyed or imprisoned that he had realized what it was he was missing. Or at least who he was missing.

Astronema. Princess of Darkness. Right hand to Dark Spectre. With hair that changed colors more often than he changed his socks, and a deadly ambition to control the universe, she was one of his worst enemies. And almost as soon as he saw her collapsed on the ground, eyes shut and with the monster attacking her thanks to her misdirected shot, he had known what his heart was missing and had found the love of his lifetime.

"About us," he said at last. "I'm really sorry about that date, and I really am going to make it up to you. But it's more than that. . .I wanted more than anything to get there on time. Because I think I. .no, I know. ..that. ..."

She looked curious, and nervous at the same time. He was a Power Ranger, and she should have destroyed him in his moment of weakness after she had awakened. But she hadn't been able to bring herself to, and she didn't know why. His blonde hair and merry eyes had touched her darkened soul in a special way, one she'd never known, and she had stayed her hand. Perhaps it was that one moment of kindness, of human feeling, had been what had eventually led to her realization that she wasn't truly evil, that she could accept and give love, that she was born to be loved and to love other people.

And one person in particular. The words escaped her lips, and for the rest of her life, Karone never regretted them. "I love you, Zhane."

Zhane stared at her only for a moment, then let his own heart guide what he knew he needed to say, what he had come in here to say. What he had wanted to say for almost a month now, since he had stood in the water and seen her teleporting away, angry at him. "I love you, Karone."

The two of them were in each other's arms only a moment later, their lips moving towards each other at lightspeed. Deep inside, both expected to be interrupted, to wake up and find this was just a dream, that she was still Astronema on the Dark Fortress, that he was on the MegaShip by himself, that they weren't apart, that the miracle hadn't happened, that they couldn't possibly be together. Or one of the other Astro Rangers would interrupt, meaning well, but it would be the end of the romantic moment, and they would go for who knew how long without doing anything about the feelings that were storming through both of them.

But that didn't happen. Slowly their lips touched each other, tenderly and hesitantly at first, then with more and more passion as they realized nothing was going to stop them. Perhaps this was Zordon's final gift to them, a reward for all he had went through as a Ranger, a promise of the future she was now looking forward to. Perhaps it was just luck.

It didn't seem to matter. Nothing else mattered but each other in this moment. They were together, they were forever, and they were in love. Only a day before the countdown to the destruction of the universe had been in operation, and they had been on opposite sides. But the day had passed, and both of them had been purified. His leaping from girl to girl was over with, as he found the one of the long dreams he had dreamed while in his cryosleep. Her days of evil were long past, as she found the one to nourish the good within her soul and help it grow.

And as they fell into each other's arms forever, the Astro MegaShip arrived on Earth. At long last, they were home.

The End.

Disclaimer: T.J. Applegate and Cassie Chan, plus anyone else in this fanfic, are the registered property of Saban Enterprises; no copyright infringement is meant by this, and I am not, nor do I desire to, making any profit at all on this.

Author's Note: Attention, attention, you have reached the ending of the "Rangers in Romance" fanfic series. I hope you have had a good ride throughout the romantic lives of some very special people, and I bring you this final fanfic hoping it finds you in good health and cheer. May you find love in your own life. This takes place after "After the Countdown" in "Romance" timeline, and after "Countdown to Destruction, Part 2" in PRiS timeline.

Who Knew?
by Niobe Craft

Cassie sighed as she leaned back against the chair on the bridge and took a quick check on where everyone else was on board. Andros and Ashley were on the Simudeck, enjoying themselves with a quiet meal together. Carlos was in his quarters, thumbing through a book of some sort. Zhane and Karone were in her room, and she quickly turned the monitors away from there. There were some things that were obviously meant to be private.

With a slightly heavy heart, she turned the cameras towards T.J.'s room, wondering what the Blue Ranger was up to. She found him just sitting, looking at something. She watched him for a few moments, admiring the clean lines of his body. T.J. was a fine specimen of a human being, handsome, athletic, caring, intelligent. She wondered why it had taken her so long to figure it out.

I had to get sidetracked by that crush on the Phantom Ranger, she mused. And she had been sidetracked by it. For a while. She'd thought she was over it once he had left Earth, then when they'd met again on Hercuron, she'd felt it's stirrings again. I really thought I loved him, she mused.

It had taken this final battle to get her to realize her real emotions, however. Towards two different people. She had been so caught up in the life and death struggle to save the Earth and the universe, she had thought she wouldn't have time to do much more than worry about the rest of the team and plan. All that had changed that dark night they had spent in the ruined streets of Angel Grove.

They had kept watch that night, not wanting to risk any Quantrons attacking them while they all slept. Ashley had stayed up first, half-guarding her friends and half-keeping an eye out for Andros. She'd told them that he had snuck onto the Dark Fortress to seek out his sister and try to bring her back to the side of good. None of them were holding out any hope. It didn't seem as if there was any left at all.

When Ashley could no longer keep her eyes open, she had awakened Cassie and went to sleep. The Pink Ranger had watched, her thoughts in turmoil. Before they had come down to Earth, they had received images from all over the universe, of the fights that all their allies were in. It hadn't been pretty. When she had seen the Phantom Ranger, she had expected to feel a shock of pain and fear beyond anything she had ever known as the being she thought she loved fought for his life. Instead, she had felt only worry that a fellow warrior was in danger.

She counted herself lucky that no one had found them that night. They should have been sleeping on the MegaShip, but somehow, none of them had wanted to leave what was left of Angel Grove. It was their home, and though it was burning, they would be there to be with people who counted on them.

The way her thoughts had been running that night, however, she wouldn't have noticed if an entire Quantron army had descended on them until it was too late. She had been confused and upset because of her near-lack of reaction to Phantom Ranger's plight. She'd finally reasoned it out, however. She didn't love him. She considered him a strong friend, and a powerful ally. But the crush was gone at last.

I don't really know if he's even human under that armor, she thought. I guess that was part of it. You can't really and truly love someone if you don't know some things about them. I guess that's why we all seem to be finding romances within the ranks. Andros and Ashley. Zhane and Karone. Me and T.J.

At that last thought, her cheeks flushed a fiery red. She had no right to consider herself a couple with T.J.! She and the Blue Ranger were, at the moment, nothing more than friends. That was all they could be. . .or was it? With a sudden influx of determination, she paged Carlos to take her place on the bridge. She was going to find out something once and for all.

T.J. sighed for a moment, then slipped the picture of Cassie back into his wallet where no one would see it. He fully expected that once they got in touch with the Phantom Ranger, since all the evil in the universe had finally been dealt with, the mysterious defender and the Pink Ranger would go flying off into the proverbial sunset together. What could he possibly offer that Phantom couldn't?

I've only had a crush on her since we met on that bus. And I've only been in love with her since shortly after. Why hadn't she ever noticed though? She surely couldn't be that blind, could she?

No, Cassie wasn't blind. She was just in love with someone else, and she was too sweet-hearted to dash his hopes permanently. At least he could live with his dreams that someday she would walk into his room and declare her eternal love for him. Things like that didn't happen to him, to T.J. Applegate, former Red Turbo Ranger, current Blue Astro Ranger. They happened for Zhane and Karone, who had been grand warriors for light and darkness, polar opposites who had met and fallen in love with one another. He didn't get that lucky.

T.J. almost literally threw himself on the bed. They were done. The battles were ended and they were about thirty minutes from landing in what remained of downtown Angel Grove. DECA had already detected hundreds of reporters, from every type of publication imaginable, waiting for them, and he found himself glad that it would be Andros who would be fielding their questions, not himself. He'd had enough of the spotlight the few times he'd been in it during his tenure as Red Turbo.

He never regretted giving his spot as leader up. It wasn't that he felt like a failure or anything like that. He could sense that things changed and people changed, and in the new situation that they found themselves, he realized that Andros was by far the best leader for the team. He knew the terrain they would be going into, he knew their enemy, and he had the only real workable ship they had access to. The Shuttle couldn't have sustained them forever. In the new Astro Rangers team, he'd found his perfect position as second-in-command, and during the Psycho Rangers crisis, he'd realized that was exactly what he was.

Okay, so I know what I should be in the Rangers, he thought halfway bitterly. What do I do with the rest of my life? Everyone knows who we are now, and we're going to have to do something to help put the world back together. Not to mention I still have my heart given to someone who loves someone else.

He sighed deeply, closing his eyes and covering them with one arm almost theatrically. No one was there to see him, at least, to laugh at that. "I love you, Cassie Chan," he said, doubly glad he was alone. "I just wish you thought about me as more than a friend."

"I do, T.J.," a quiet voice, and a very unexpected one, spoke. He jumped up to stare in shocked surprise at Cassie, standing in his doorway with wide eyes full of surprise of her own. "You. ..love me?"

The Blue Ranger fumbled, trying to cover up his mistake, wishing he'd kept it to his thoughts and not blared it out to the entire universe. "I, um, I was just .. um. ..." oh, she's never going to like me now, and I think I just ruined our friendship!

Cassie came in, closing the door behind her. "Yes or no, Teej?" she asked, looking directly at him. "Yes or no?"

"Umm. ...," he finally gave up the attempt. Maybe if they got it out of the way, he could get beyond it, and find someone who would love him back. "Yes, I do. I know you're in love with the Phantom Ranger, and I shouldn't have said anything, but there it is. It's the truth. I do love you, and to be honest, I can't figure out why the heck I didn't say something about it a long time ago."

The young girl nodded quietly. "Probably for the same reason it took me a year and half to figure out that I love you and not the Phantom Ranger."

Her lips twitched for a moment at the expression on his face. She'd read of people looking 'pole-axed' but she'd never imagined what it would look like until now. T.J. quite literally looked as if someone had come up and smacked the living daylights out of him. She came over and sat next to him, hoping she hadn't done any fatal damage with her statement.

"T.J., I've been doing a lot of thinking. Phantom Ranger is fun to fight with, and I like his company, what we get of it, because he's a nice. ..well, whatever he is under the armor. Person. But he is not the sort of person who I want to have a relationship with. That sort of person is funny, sweet, caring, strong, intelligent, and very, very good looking. That person is you."

He blinked for a few moments, trying to understand what she was saying. All thought swept away, however, when she put everything she was saying into something that was far, far simpler.

Cassie leaned over and kissed him.

He had time just for one more blink before his instincts and the love long denied took command of his body, and he kissed her back. It was possible they might have stayed that way until unconsciousness set in, if someone hadn't cleared their throat in the doorway.

"Guys?" it was Andros and Ashley. "I hope we're not interrupting, but we've reached Earth. We've got to go deal with those reporters."

T.J. moved back a few centimeters, not taking his eyes off Cassie's. "We'll be there," he said, savoring the way the word 'we' sounded. "Eventually."

There was a light chuckle, then the Red and Yellow Rangers were gone down the hallway. T.J. looked at the beautiful girl next to him, and smiled. "Um, does this mean we're a couple?" he asked tentatively.

"It means I love you," she replied, kissing him again. He smiled, returning it with all his heart and soul.

And that was all the answer that he would ever need. Who knew that what had begun with destruction. .. would end with love?

The End.