Legal Disclaimer: This takes place in the same universe as "Red Blues" and "Pink Desire" and takes place after both of those. This begins the "Life" half of the Life & Death Series :) Enjoy!!
Red streaks of light broke into the Red Zeo Ranger's bedroom, but Billy was already awake. He stared into his closet, a towel wrapped around his waist, and sighed, wondering as he always had how all this red clothing had gotten into his wardrobe.
I'm the Red Ranger. Even after two months, I still can't believe it. He sighed as he started dressing. Tommy and Kim are dead. We're the Power Rangers Zeo. And I'm the Red Zeo Ranger, and the team's leader. It's all like some dream, but it's too real to be a dream.
With a quick run of a brush through his hair, he was ready for another day at high school. Another day with his friends, and of being on call twenty-four hours a day to defend the world. He breathed deeply, picking up the red-banded communicator from the nightstand and strapping it on.
He glanced outside, smiling briefly to see Kat and Tanya out there. He was giving them a ride to school, and over to the mall after classes. For a moment, he found himself wishing Tanya wasn't coming, for it to be just him and Kat. . .
What are you thinking, Cranston? he berated himself. You're not falling for Kat!
Just as the thoughts flashed through his mind, something else jumped into his head. That first time, when Tommy's ghost had come to him just after he'd been made the Red Ranger, he'd said. . .see you soon, Billy. .but not too soon. . .and talk to Kat. ..
"Could he have known something I don't?" Billy whispered as
he started outside. And what do I do about it if he did?
"Here he comes, Kat," Tanya teased. "Your boyfriend!"
"Tanya!" Kat smiled at her. "He's not my boyfriend! We're just friends!" though I must admit, he does look a LOT better in red than he ever did in blue!
The Yellow Ranger snorted a little. "Yeah, right. I see the telltale signs of a crush everytime you look at him!" she watched for a few minutes, then waved her hand in front of Kat's face. The Pink Ranger didn't seem to notice, her thoughts entirely focused on the young man walking towards her. "Kat!" Tanya hissed in her ear. "Wake up, or he's going to notice something's up with you!"
Kat jumped for a moment, smiling as Billy waved to them. "Ready for school?" he asked, tossing his books into the newly-bought red jeep. "And then the mall?"
"Always!" the two of them chorused. "The mall forever!"
Billy chuckled, shaking his head as he hopped into the front seat. "Girls," he muttered. The three of them stiffened suddenly as their communicators went off. The Red Ranger sighed and touched his. "What's up, Zordon?" he whispered.
MONDO HAS SENT DOWN ANOTHER MONSTER, RANGERS, their mentor's voice came. IT IS CAUSING A GREAT DEAL OF DAMAGE TO DOWNTOWN ANGEL GROVE.
In unison, the three of them sighed. "We're on the way, Zordon. Have Rocky and Adam meet us there," Billy almost shivered at how naturally giving commands came to him. Time enough to deal with that later, he decided, checking to make sure they were alone. But for now. . ."It's morphin' time!"
"Zeo Ranger I, Pink!"
"Zeo Ranger II, Yellow!"
"Zeo Ranger V, Red!"
As usual, Mondo had sent Cogs with his monster, and Billy had Kat and Tanya deal with those, while he, Rocky, and Adam took on the monster itself. "Zeo V, Power Sword!" he snapped, grasping the weapon as it appeared in his hand. "You're going down, beast!"
He was about ready to slice the thing in half, when he heard a half-scream from behind him. Billy whirled to see Kat being dragged away by a half-dozen Cogs. A low growl came from his throat. "Rocky, Adam, think you can handle this thing, with Tanya?"
"No problem, Billy!" Adam slammed into the monster with his own Zeo weapon. Billy called to Tanya, getting her to join the fight with the monster, while he chased after the Cogs carrying the struggling Kat.
"Kat!" he screamed. "Kat!"
"Billy!" she called, fighting as hard as she could to get
away from the metallic things. He was inches from her, his gloved hand
brushed her own, when one of them delivered a powerful kick to the Red
Ranger that knocked him a good ten feet away. Billy could only watch in
horror as a wheel-shaped teleportation wheel came down and the Cogs vanished
with Kat in tow.
"Ah, look there, my love!" Mondo stared almost hungrily at the struggling form of the Pink Ranger. "Our Cogs have done well!"
"Good for them!" Machina applauded. "It's about time they did something right!"
Kat spit and swore at them, trying to get away from the Cogs that were holding her tightly. "What do you want with me?" she finally managed to get out. Mondo leaned over and leered nastily at her, with as much evil emotion he could fake.
"We don't want anything!" he told her. "But there are others who will give a great deal for you!"
Kat's heart almost stopped in fear. "What are you talking about?" she managed to keep any trace of fear, or emotion, out of her voice. I need to get out of here. I HAVE to!
"Why, us, of course!" she looked up to see two very familiar forms entering the throne room, hardly noticing as with a wave of a wand she was force-demorphed.
"Rita. Zedd," she breathed the names as the two she'd thought had fled Earth in fear entered. "What are you two doing here? I thought you'd run screaming from these guys!" she glanced towards Mondo and Machina.
Zedd shrugged. "Don't look at me, this wasn't my idea!"
"I just want to have my cute little cat back!" Rita said in a sugary sweet voice. "And our generous host here has a little something that will ensure you remain mine!"
Kat couldn't help but look over at Mondo, and saw he held between his fingers a vial of sickly glowing green liquid. For some reason, Kat was irresistibly reminded of the hideous green of a school bus as she looked at it. "The most powerful amnesia potion in the universe," Mondo laughed. "With a nice little added ingredient that will cause you to believe everything you are told by Rita and Zedd!"
"And once we give it to you," Rita purred. "You'll only know what we tell you, and believe it for the rest of your life!"
Machina cleared her throat. "I believe payment was to be given first?" she reminded them. Zedd growled deep in his throat, then waved his hand. Kat's heart pounded as her Zeonizers flew off her wrists and into the clutches of the Machine Queen. "Excellent!"
Kat swallowed deeply. Where are you guys!?
Tanya, Adam, and Rocky watched as Billy and Alpha ran every scan they could on the Skybase, trying to find some sort of chink in the armor that would permit them to teleport in. "I've never seen Billy like this before," Adam softly whispered.
"I know," Rocky nodded, watching their friend as he searched for some way to rescue Kat.
Tanya frowned, her eyes narrowed. "He's in love," she said finally. The other two looked at her, both sets of eyebrows lost in their respective hair. She shrugged. "I can see it in her eyes when she looks at him, and in his when he looks at her."
Adam glanced over to his friend. "I can't remember him looking like this over anyone else, ever before. Ever."
"I think I've found it!" they looked up as Billy stepped away from the computer consoles. "There's a weak point in the Skybase shields that we might be able to sneak through! That's the good news."
Three pairs of eyes exchanged glances. "What's the bad news?" Adam asked finally. Billy didn't answer for a moment.
At last he said, "Only one of us can get through the weak point. Once inside, whoever goes has to find Kat, then the Power Chamber sensors can lock onto them on voice command to bring them both back. We have to decide who's going to get Kat back."
Adam, Tanya, and Rocky already knew who was going to go. "You go," Rocky spoke for them. "You're the best man for this."
Billy looked at them all, then glanced up to Zordon. GO, BILLY, their
mentor urged. KATHERINE DOES NOT HAVE MUCH TIME.
"NO!" Kat fought as strongly as she ever had in her life as she was dragged by the Cogs over to Mondo, the green liquid pulsating in the vial he held. "I won't let you do this to me!"
"I'm afraid you have no choice, my dear Ranger!" Machina laughed, enjoying her helplessness. "Rita and Zedd have paid us a great deal of money for you, and we always keep our deals!"
The Pink Ranger trembled as she saw Mondo plunge a syringe into the vial, filling it to the brim with that glowing potion. This can't be happening. It just CANNOT be happening! I won't LET it happen! There was nothing she could do, though, as she was drawn inexorably to what seemed to be her fate.
Billy, the name rang in her mind, the face filled her thoughts. If she lost all else, she would keep his face, his name. Every single detail sprang into sharp relief as she thought of him, his quiet strength, his concern over whether he was doing a good enough job, his tender care for each and every one of them. . .
"Katherine!" it was not the voice of Rita, Zedd, Mondo, or Machina that she heard calling her name. Her heart nearly exploded with joy to see someone in the Red Zeo uniform appear in the throne room. "Zeo V, Power Sword!" Billy snapped, slamming it not at Mondo, but at the small, deadly needle in his hand, shattering it and the vial in one stroke.
"Billy!" she sighed in relief, slamming a Cog with all the strength she could muster. "Machina has my Zeonizers!"
The Red Ranger whirled on the Machine Queen, eyes blazing under his helmet. Machina seemed to sense that, as Rita and Zedd vanished; this was obviously more than they had bargained for! "I think you've got something that belongs to her," Billy growled. "Give it back!"
"Are you certain of that, Red Ranger?" Mondo hissed, gesturing to the Cogs to tighten their grip on Kat. "Surrender, or your little teammate perishes!"
Billy didn't even seem to be breaking a sweat. With a side kick he knocked the Pink Zeonizers out of Machina's hands, caught them smoothly, backflipped to pull Kat away from the Cogs, then called into his communicator, "Power Chamber, lock onto my communicator signal, now!"
A second later, only the Machine Royal Family remained in the throne
"You did it!" the Rangers cheered as their leader and Kat reappeared in the Power Chamber. "Congrats, Billy!" Adam smiled at his friend. Billy still hadn't let go of Kat, and didn't look like he was going to anytime in the near future.
She disengaged herself from him, though, and smiled as he handed her Zeonizers back to her. "Thanks," she said, slipping them on and twitching her wrists to make them disappear. "I really owe you, Billy. I owe you a lot."
"It's okay," he said, somehow finding the casual words hard to speak. He was staring at her, staring as if he'd found the most precious jewel in the universe. "I'm just glad you're safe."
Kat nodded, not meeting his eyes. "Glad you showed up," her voice was precisely neutral, showing nothing whatsoever. "Rita and Zedd were there, they'd paid Mondo and Machina to get me back."
"I'm glad they didn't," Billy finally tore his eyes away from her. "I would miss you."
"And I'd miss you," they couldn't tell if Kat was speaking in the singular or plural, but it didn't matter. She walked a little closer to Billy, and kissed him lightly on the lips. "Thanks for everything."
In her usual pink stream, she teleported out, and Billy was left there, one hand raised to his lips in surprise and shock. Adam and Rocky both coughed, while Tanya just shook her head and sighed, following Kat out. It appeared they had a lot to talk about.
The Red Ranger closed his eyes for a moment, feeling the terrible wounds that the assumption of the Zeo Powers had caused in him healing. With Tommy and Kim's deaths, he had lost two of his friends, two of his closest and truest friends. But now, perhaps, he could finally get on with his life. He could finally heal.
It's about time!!!! he heard Tommy's ghostly voice in his mind
and smiled. "The Red Ranger's healing at last," he whispered.
"I love you, Kat Hilliard. And someday soon, I'll actually have the
nerve to tell you so in person. I hope," he chuckled to himself and
glanced at the others. "You guys realize this all started on our way