Legal Disclaimer: This is the fourth and final tale in the "Life & Death" series. .. it might not be the last set in this universe, that depends on you guys!! :) Let me know what you want, please! :) You know the drill, the Rangers aren't mine, etc., etc., etc.,. ..

Pink Memories
by: Cynthia

Kat arrived at school, just out of sight, in a pink teleportation stream. She was going to be late again, she knew, as she ran inside, but that didn't matter. Just being here was good enough for her, she'd come so very close to not being there at all that morning. If it hadn't been for Billy. . .she would've been once more the slave of Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd.

As she waited to sign in late, she felt her lips tingling a little in memory. She'd kissed Billy in thanks for rescuing her. The feeling of his lips still lingered on her own. Her cheeks reddened a little, and she sighed, a little sadly, a little happily.

"Kat?" she turned around to see Tanya there. The Yellow Ranger signed in late herself, then as the two of them started to class, she said softly, "I think you almost gave Billy heart failure with that kiss."

"I did?"

Her friend nodded. They didn't have time to talk just then, not with school already started, but once the day was over, a day in which Kat went out of her way to avoid Billy and the others, she found herself being dragged firmly outside by Tanya and almost forcibly pushed to the ground. "Okay, Kat," she said harshly. "Out with it. Just how do you feel about Billy?"

"Billy? He's a good friend," Kat automatically replied as she always had when someone asked her about him. "I like him."

Tanya shook her head. "I want the truth, Katherine Hilliard," she snapped. "Full out truth, no hiding anything. Is that understood?"

The Pink Ranger closed her eyes for a moment. "I don't know how I feel," she admitted. "I thought for a while I was in love with Tommy. When he died, I felt. . .not heartbroken, at least not with the emotional wounds I know Kim had to have had. But just. . .hurt. . . like I'd lost a friend, because I had lost one. But not like I'd lost someone I loved the way I thought I loved him."

"I'm not talking about Tommy," Tanya said bluntly. "I'm talking about Billy. You remember, tall, blonde, blue eyed, wears red?"

"That's just it," Kat shook her head. "Tanya, he's the Red Ranger now, and the team's leader. Tommy would've been the Red Ranger, and he was the leader. I would like to love him, but I can't just yet, I can't be sure that I'm not feeling some sort of residual effect from Tommy."

Tanya snorted. "You just said you weren't in love with Tommy. So how could you be feeling an effect from something that isn't there?"

Kat blinked for a few moments, then realized. . .she's right! Tommy was never the Red Ranger, he never had the chance to be, so that's one association gone right there. He was a good leader, but Billy's a better one, to be honest. There's too many differences for me to be feeling anything that could be a reflection of any emotion I had for Tommy, which I already knew weren't real! So. . .I. . .the Pink Ranger alternately blushed and paled as the realization swept through her. She hadn't wanted to realize it, she knew now, she'd been too scared. But Tanya's common sense, logical approach had snuck right around her fears and thrown the truth in her face.

"I love Billy Cranston," she whispered the words as if in a daze. "Oh, man, do I love him!"

Tanya nodded. "Good start. Now go tell him."

Billy stared at the photos in front of him. He'd arranged them in a specific order, but not many would know what it was. The first had him, Kim, Jason, Trini, and Zack. The second had all five of them, and then Tommy with them. In the third, Jason, Trini, and Zack had been replaced by Rocky, Aisha, and Adam. In the fourth, Kim was gone, and where she had been was Kat. In the fifth. . .

Kat in pink. Adam in green. Rocky in blue. Tanya in yellow. And himself. . .in red. Man, I am NEVER going to get used to this, he thought to himself, staring at the photograph of the Zeo Rangers unmorphed. The Zeo Quest changed everything. . .EVERYTHING that I'd taken for granted. . .no, it wasn't the Zeo Quest. It was Master Vile screwing up time. I wish I could change that. . .so that he never even came to Earth. . .Tommy and Kim would still be alive. . .we'd have the old Ninja Powers back. . .

He sighed. He knew perfectly well there was no way to change history, and deep in his heart, he didn't know if he would change things. There was just too much else that could happen if he did that. As far as he knew, this was the correct timeline for the universe, and if it was, he wasn't going to mess with it, even if he could. One thing that even he had never tried to build was a time machine.

At least thinking about timelines and science are keeping me from thinking about. ..other things, he flinched as he thought that, remembering how Kat had practically ran from him, both that morning at the Power Chamber and all that day at school. Do I have bad breath or something? She ran out just after she kissed me. . .oh, that KISS!

He turned beet red at the memory of it, and for one brief second, the old Billy was back, the Billy who stuttered when it came to girls, and was about as graceful and capable of rational thought in romance as a stump. He was just glad no one was around to see it. Once he'd regained his composure, he glanced at another picture of Kat he had, one he was almost positive no one else had, and blushed again.

Her in that pink bikini. . .that day we all went to the beach. I never thought it would come out as good as it did, so I didn't tell anyone about it. He pulled his eyes away from it, staring out the window for a few moments. He was supposed to be doing his homework, but he figured it could wait for a few moments until he felt emotionally stable enough to deal with it. She's so beautiful, and I love her.

It still felt a trifle strange to think of Kat as someone he loved. But he'd finally realized the emotions tearing around his heart and mind for love that morning when he'd rescued her from Mondo and Machina, and Rita and Zedd. Having her kiss him hadn't hurt either.

"And she's been avoiding me like I had a disease ever since," he muttered to himself. He thought for another few moments on it, then sat up, eyes burning with a deep, intense fire. "And I want to find out why. I want to know if she likes me, loves me, or wants my guts on a stick."

He paused one last moment to look at the pictures, then put them away. He didn't want to give anyone the chance to figure out who the Rangers were with his photos, though it had never happened before. But better safe than sorry, he decided, closing and locking the drawer he kept them in. He stopped for a second to look at the one photo he always kept out in the open. It had been taken so long ago, he doubted anyone would ever connect it to the Power Rangers. Mainly because it had been taken before the Power Rangers even existed. Him, Kim, Jason, Zack, and Trini. He remembered the exact date it had been taken.

Three weeks before Rita was released from her dumpster. Almost a month before our lives changed forever. Memories.

He smiled briefly, touching the photo frame for a moment, then left. He had someone he wanted to talk to: someone he wanted to make some memories of his own with.

Kat hurried down the street to Billy's house, not looking behind her for Tanya, but having the distinct impression if she did, she was going to see the other girl there. Tanya had been very insistent that the Pink Ranger go tell Billy how she felt about him, and had given the impression if Kat didn't, Tanya would tell the Red Ranger herself. Rather than have that happen, Kat was practically running to the Cranston house.

"Hello there, Pink Ranger!" she jumped as a purplish teleportation circle appeared, depositing Prince Sprocket and a half a dozen Cogs in front of her. "All alone?"

"What are you doing here, Sprocket?" she growled. "Can't a person even walk down the street in peace?"

The little robot prince shook his head as he gestured for the Cogs to attack her. "Nope! Not when you're a Power Ranger!"

Kat checked around quickly, and was glad to see no one else was around to see this. "It's morphin' time! Zeo Ranger I, Pink!" once morphed, she was able to stand up to the Cogs much more successfully.

But the six Cogs multiplied to twelve even as she started taking them down, and when she was able to handle those, courtesy of her Pink Fire Cloud, the ones that remained were augmented by a monster. "What is this, pick on the pink day?" she muttered as she backflipped over one of the Cogs and prepared to call the others.

"Zeo Ranger V, Red!" she heard Billy's voice call out, and looked up to see the Red Ranger rushing towards them, his Zeo Sword in his hands. The Cogos and monster alike fell back as Billy knocked them out of the way, then helped Kat to her feet. "What's a lovely lady like you doing in company like this?" he teased lightly. Kat smiled under her helmet.

"Getting rid of it, with your help," she told him. "Let's do it!"

One Ranger had been a lot for them to handle, but with two, it became impossible. Kat and Billy quickly put the Cogs, the monster, and the Machine Prince to flight. Once it was just the two of them, they both demorphed and looked, almost stared, at each other. Billy took a deep breath. "Um, hi, Kat."

"Billy," she greeted him. "I. . .was coming to see you."

"You were?"

She nodded. "There's something I've got to tell you," before Tanya decides to jump up out of nowhere and say it. She paused for a moment, then decided that actions were a lot better than words in this case. She stepped towards him and pulled him into a long, hot, heart-melting kiss. Billy stood for a moment in shock, then slowly began to return it.

So caught up were they in the kiss they didn't notice the two spirits to one side of them at all.

Took them long enough, didn't it?

They've had a lot on their minds.

True. But they've finally gotten together. I thought it was going to take forever.

It didn't.

And I'm glad. They've got a lot to do together, Kim.

I know, Tommy. Come on, let's leave them in peace. Would YOU have wanted to have been interrupted during our first kiss?

Not by a long shot. The ghosts of Tommy Oliver and Kimberly Harte faded away even as Kat and Billy managed to pull back, but only to hand's length.

"I love you, Kat Hilliard."

"I love you, Billy Cranston," the memories of the past, of what could've been with Tommy, were now but memories as they should be. She now had her future to deal with, and in that future was the one person she would ever love: Billy Cranston.

The End? ?