Legal Disclaimer: All hail Saban who knows all about Power Rangers {except how to tell a story without plotholes} and who owns them, unlike me, who just tells stories. And this particular one takes place after 'A Golden Homecoming'. Anything resembling continuity is forever banished by this fanfic.

Teaser: Jason and Billy have a talk with one another.

Series: #1 of Love's Power.

A Talk
by: Garl Glittergold

Jason stopped pounding on the bag for a moment and leaned back, enjoying the feeling that he got from working out. No, not just from working out. He'd worked out in Switzerland, and it hadn't been the same. It was the feeling of working out here, in the Angel Grove Youth Center Gym and Juice Bar, that he was enjoying. Of being back with his friends and having the Power again. Oh, sure, things were a little different. The colors, the powers, the Zords, the headquarters, the enemies, even some members of the team. Well, almost all the team, actually.

That had really been what knocked him for a loop. It wasn't Jason, Zack, Kim, Trini, Billy, and Tommy anymore. It was Tommy, Rocky, Adam, Tanya, Kat, and Jason. Tommy and Kim weren't a couple anymore, Adam and Tanya were one. Billy was practically living in the Power Chamber.

His thoughts halted flat on that one. Billy. Power Chamber. His mind presented him with an image of the former Blue Ranger as he had been. No smile. All the light gone from his eyes, and nothing that even vaguely resembled hope. Dressed in grays and blacks.

Tommy said that they wanted Billy to be the Gold Ranger before me, but that negative protons prevented it. Another memory flashed before his eyes, of science lessons, of days being tutored by Billy himself, and the clearly stated assertion that there were no such things as negative protons. Something's wrong here. Something's VERY wrong.

Jason felt a sudden strong desire to go have a very long talk with their resident genius.

* * *
Billy curled up on his bed, his eyes shut and dry. His tears had ended days earlier. The others had never even noticed that he had cried. Then again, they never did notice about him anymore. He felt a hideous bitterness rising up in him at that, and fought it down as hard as he could. I'm not even needed here, not as a Ranger. . .not as a helper. Anything I can do in the Power Chamber, Alpha can do, or Zordon. Adam can even invent some things, if he puts his mind to it.

And now with Jason back, I've lost even that little bit of hope. He'd known it would happen, though. The minute that he'd discovered the negative protons in himself. . .the first such things he'd ever discovered. . .he'd known that it would be Jason who took on the Gold Powers. It could only be the first Red Ranger. Zack and Trini were still in Switzerland. Kim was in Florida, doing well. Aisha was in Africa, still involved in the curing of the animals. Jason had just arrived back in Angel Grove, and with his martial arts skills, there was no one else who could take them on.

He didn't resent Jason. He was glad that someone could do what he couldn't. But it still twisted in his soul like a knife that it hadn't been him. He'd looked forward from day one to somehow being able to once again be a Ranger, to be a part of the fight, to do something far more constructive than to just invent things and hang out in the Power Chamber.

I wish---his mind drifted into silence. He didn't know what he wished. He was coming to accept the fact that he wasn't the Gold Ranger, that he would never be a Ranger again. It no longer seemed to matter. But he didn't know what he was going to do with himself now. He didn't want to stay in Angel Grove; it was really too dangerous for him. There had already been Cog attacks on him, and there was always the chance that one day, the Rangers wouldn't be able to get to him in time. The thought of that sent chills down his spine.

He twisted around to look at a picture he kept by his bed. Whenever any of his friends had come over, he'd always hidden it. He couldn't bear to have them knowing about his secret crush. Even now, when most of the team didn't even know who the picture was of, he didn't want questions about who the beautiful girl in yellow was. Slowly he reached out to touch the picture gently, a tear shining in one of his eyes. "I miss you so much, Trini. Why couldn't you have come back?"

"Because she's scared she's lost you." Billy almost jumped out of his skin at the voice and turned to see Jason standing in the doorway. "Your mom let me in. She said you haven't left the house all day. What's going on?"

Billy's hand trembled a little as he reached to hide the picture. Jason shook his head. "You can't think I don't already know, do you? We've all known. Me, Zack, Kim, Tommy. You and Trini did everything but hit each other and everyone else over the head with it, you know."

"What do you mean?" he tried to hide it boldly. Jason sighed.

"You are in love with her." The Gold Ranger said bluntly. "But we can talk about that later. Why did you say that the reason you couldn't take the Gold Powers was negative protons? You've told me a thousand times that they don't exist."

Billy sighed himself. "I never thought they did, until I found them in me. It seems that Earth science doesn't know quite everything." His eyes seemed very distant. "The forces unleashed in the Command Center explosion were very powerful, and I'm still not quite certain just what Rita and Zedd's implosion device was made from. That combined with the technology of the Command Center created effects I've never seen before. One of those was negative protons."

Jason nodded quietly, sensing that Billy was telling him the truth now. He silently went to sit down beside his friend. "You do wish it hadn't happened, don't you?"

"Yes." Billy's voice was quiet and firm. "I'd give anything if I were the one using the Gold powers right now. But . . .I don't begrudge them to you. I tried. I failed." Bitterness clawed at his voice. "I'm used to it by now."

Jason stared at his friend in complete disbelief. "What are you talking about!?"

"Don't try to hide it!" Billy spat the words out in unexpected heat. "You've always been the lucky one, you and all the others. You gave your powers to Rocky, and now you've got new ones. No one has ever had theirs just ripped away from them. And don't you even mention Tommy to me. Oh, sure, he lost the Green and White powers, but he just kept bouncing back like a freaking rubber ball. Me, I lose my powers. . .and I just keep on falling. Straight down."

The Gold Ranger took a long look at Billy, then did something he would have taken a bet he would never have done. He slapped him. "Shut up, whoever you are. You're not Billy. Not the Billy I know and care about. That Billy doesn't whine and feel sorry for himself. That Billy has enough common sense to know that being a Power Ranger isn't the only thing in the world. It isn't even the best thing. It's a job, a very dangerous job, and it's one that I've only got back temporarily. I won't have these powers forever, whenever Trey can get himself back together, I'll give them back to him."

Billy stared at him, one hand touching the cheek where Jason's hand had struck. He took a deep breath, then realized: Jason was right. He had been acting like an imbecile. He'd let his entire life revolve around the Rangers, until the point when he wasn't one, he'd actually gotten depressed over it. He closed his eyes for a moment, reaching back into the past, back to before Zordon had entered their lives. Yes, he'd been picked on a lot, but he'd also known what was important: his friends and family. How long had it been since he'd talked to his dad and mom? Really talked to them, instead of half-truths and veiled hints that he was just fine. He hadn't written to Kim or Aisha in months, and the only time he'd ever hung out with the others. ..well, he just didn't hang out with them anymore. It made him ashamed to think of how he'd been treating them all. Just because he wasn't a Ranger was in no way an excuse to cut them all out of his life.

"I'm sorry." Billy said softly. "I'm really sorry, Jason. I needed that to wake me up. And I needed you to wake me up."

Jason smiled briefly. "Sorry about the hit."

"It's okay." Billy glanced over at the picture of Trini again. "What do you mean, she thinks she lost me?"

"Well, you haven't written to her in a while, and you never said anything to her about how you felt when you two were together. She really loves you, Billy. She talked about you constantly. ..incessantly. . .for the last couple of years." Jason rolled his eyes a little. "Zack and I got a little tired of it, so she started confining it to her diary. But her feelings haven't changed."

Billy bit his lip at the thought of seeing Trini again. It was one of his greatest dreams, but at the same time, he was terrified of having to face up to his dreams. Then determination filled him. "I'll be back."

Jason smiled as Billy vanished in a wash of white light. He had a very good idea of where his old friend was going.