LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The Power Rangers do not belong to me, and I'm afraid they never will. The character of Mark McCallister belongs to me, and no one else. This takes place approximately two weeks after the "There's No Business Like Snow Business" three-part Power Rangers Zeo episodes, and also completely blows away continuity thereafter. A few scenes came from the imagination of my good friend and sister Kahva, thanks!!! It's rated PG for language.
It all started so simply. Who would have ever thought it would turn out like it has? Certainly not me, that's for sure.
If you'd told me six months ago that everything that has happened would happen, I would have laughed my head off at you, or worse. I would have never imagined I'd become. . .well, you'll see.
What do I mean, you ask? Well, that'll come clear in time. First let me tell you a little bit about who I am and what's been going on. I'm seventeen years old, a gymnast who was in training for the Pan-Global Games, who had a wonderful boyfriend that I left back in California. For two years I had one of the most important jobs in the world: I was a Power Ranger. I was the Pink Ranger.
Then I decided to leave the team, to pursue the gymnastic dream I'd had since I was a little girl. I gave my power to a good friend I'd made recently, and followed my heart. Things went well for a while, and they seemed to only get better when I met Mark.
Mark McCallister. He was another gymnast I met while working with Coach Schmidt. It started off casually, just talking, but before I knew it, I was falling in love. I tried to tell myself I loved Tommy, but there was just something about Mark I couldn't explain. Something that drew me to him regardless of Tommy.
If only I'd listened to that small voice that kept screaming, You love Tommy, not Mark! Something's wrong here! But that's the glory of hindsight. It's always perfect. I didn't know what was going on, and I certainly made no efforts to find out. All I wanted was just to be with Mark.
I even wrote Tommy a letter breaking up with him. It was Mark's idea. I'd wanted to go back to Angel Grove to talk to him about it in person, but Mark wouldn't hear of it. And if Mark didn't want it, I didn't want it. I swear, my brains had to be asleep. I know now what was going on, but back then, I was too innocent. Even after all my time as a Ranger, I didn't suspect what was really happening.
I found out the hard way. It was right after Kat called me up to ask just who it was I had met, and what in the world I thought I was doing to hurt Tommy like that. I remember spilling out the praises of Mark over and over again, sounding like a complete bubblehead. Kat said something, I don't remember even now what it was, but it made me scream at her that Tommy was just a screwed-up moron who had terrified me every day I was with him and that if she wanted him so badly, just to jump him and be done with it, I didn't want either of them anymore, as friends or anything, and slammed the phone down on her.
I turned around to find Mark standing behind me, a really strange smile on his lips. "Was that a friend of yours, Kim?" he asked in that soft, almost echoing voice of his.
"It used to be," I grumped. He touched my cheek gently, and I felt myself melting into his arms.
"Let's go for a walk," he suggested. I just nodded, it was
all the movement I seemed capable of doing at the time, just that and moving
He took me outside the compound, totally ignoring the rules that said gymnasts had to sign out before going anywhere. Somewhere in the back of my mind, it occurred to me that I'd never actually seen him practicing with the others. I was simply aware of the fact he was one of the team, and an excellent gymnast. I started to ask a question, when it was as if my entire mind went to sleep.
The next thing I was aware of was standing next to a river. Mark was gazing into my eyes, and smiling again. "There's a special place I want to show you," he told me. "A very special place."
"All right," I gave my best perky smile, the one I knew he liked. Something was teasing my mind, something I couldn't get a grip on, but I didn't care. All that mattered was that Mark was happy. He guided me down the river to a wide gap between the roots of an oak tree.
"This is my special place," he told me. "I haven't shown it to anyone else in a very long time."
"I'm honored," I told him, and for some reason I was. He was showing me his secret places, his deep secrets, something Tommy had never done. I could trust Mark. I couldn't trust Tommy. Mark trusted me. Tommy trusted no one.
Then we were in the cave, and he leaned me gently against the wall.
I was as limp as if I were a rag doll, but it seemed perfectly natural.
Everything did, as it had since I first met him. Even when he opened his
mouth and displayed twin curving fangs, sharp as daggers, that seemed natural
and fine. He leaned my head to one side, exposing my neck, and then nothing
but pure, raw, pain shot through me.
Perhaps it was a good thing he did that. If he hadn't, who knows what might have happened to me? A thousand different fates presented themselves, but only one would I follow. Besides, even if he didn't intend it to, the pain broke through what he had done to me, and revealed to me how he'd done it.
Mark was a vampire. Mark wasn't even his real name. He had been called a thousand things throughout time. He was old, indescribably old. He had been transformed into a vampire by a woman passing through his home village, and had preyed upon mortals ever since.
He had traveled throughout the world, simply feeding and moving on, never staying long enough for anyone to fear him, never seeking love or romance. He had believed he would never need it. Until he saw me. As strange as it sounds, and I know how it sounds, the minute he saw me he wanted me.
But I was in love with Tommy, and that had to be stopped. It was the work of a thought to cloud my mind with images of Tommy brushing me off, being as rude as possible to me, and just in general acting like a fool. I somehow didn't notice that all those memories were from Tommy's time as the evil Green Ranger. I forgot all the times Tommy had been gentle, kind, loving, and loyal, not just to me, but to the Rangers as a whole.
Very quickly it had reached the point where I would do anything Mark wanted me to. Even break up with Tommy and act like a total and complete bitch to Kat over the phone. That had been all he was waiting for, to see if his control was so great even if I wasn't near him I'd do what he wanted me to. That was why he had brought me here, to this cave, to feed off me and make me what he was.
As his blood poured down my throat, I felt nauseous. Not just from the
coppery taste, but from realizing all that I had done. I berated myself
as much as I could for not realizing the signs of being under another person's
control. But that quickly passed, as my consciousness was overwhelmed and
enveloped in a wash of red fire.
When I woke up, Mark was the first thing I saw, as he had been the last. He was smiling, but where before that smile had been mysterious and sweet, now I saw behind his mask to the cold, calculating creature he truly was. "How are you feeling, beautiful?" he asked.
I took a long look at him. "Only one person calls me that," I told him. I could sense what he'd done to me, and I didn't care. "And you're not him!"
His eyes widened. "Kimberly? Is something wrong?"
I came to my feet like a flash. I'd never felt better, or angrier in my life. "Yes, something is wrong!" I slammed him against the far side of the cave. "You!"
"I thought we loved each other," he made his way back to his feet and smiled again. "Didn't you like what I did for you?"
"What you did for me?" I was incredulous, he actually thought he'd done me a favor! He'd destroyed everything that meant anything to me! "You've done nothing but hurt me since we met! You plotted to take me away from the best guy I've ever met in my life, you forced me to destroy one of the best friendships I've ever had, and you expect me to love you? I should slam a stake right into your heart right here and now!"
He stared. "You don't have the courage," he finally said. "All your courage came from that special suit and Zord. As soon as you left that behind, you left behind your guts. I know your mind, Kimberly Ann Hart, better than anyone alive. I know what you're capable of. And what you're not. Murder is one of those little things you're not capable of."
I just left. I couldn't stay there and look at him anymore. He made me sick. He was a manipulating bastard, worse than Rita or Zedd or any of them. They hadn't disguised the fact they were evil, they'd admitted and rejoiced in it. Mark had pretended to be good, to be a friend, a boyfriend. I hated him.
I started back to the compound, one place and one person in my thoughts.
Angel Grove. Tommy.
Even as I started back, though, I could sense the changes Mark had caused in my body. I ran my tongue across my teeth and felt the fangs there. Every sense was enhanced a thousand times over.
And I was hungry. Oh, so very hungry. Or perhaps thirsty. Neither word seemed to really express what I was thinking of. I just wanted to feed. To grab something alive and drain it's blood until that desire was sated.
As I drew closer to the compound, I stumbled a little, and realized I was growing weaker. I have to feed. Whether I like it or not. It's either that or die, and I'm not ready for that. I think I'm dead already, I just haven't stopped moving around. Maybe Zordon can help me. I've got to get back and f. . .ohhhhh. . .what's that? I saw someone walking down the street, or to be more precise, I heard them. I heard their blood rushing through their veins. I heard their heart beating and their lungs breathing.
What are they doing out here at this hour? It sort of shocked me to find out that it was three in the morning. Mark had probably hypnotized the chaperones into thinking we were either there or had been properly signed out to be out overnight. That would be good for me, at least. I started to creep closer to the late-night walker, only to suddenly become aware of another presence near me.
I smiled. As soon as I became aware of it, I knew everything about this person. They were a mugger. A rapist, to be precise. Who stalked pretty young girls out too late and took their pleasures from them. He'd lost track of all the times he'd done it. And now he thought he'd do it again.
Oh, boy, is HE in for a surprise!!!
I kept walking, going on by the compound gates. I didn't want to bring blood there, anymore than I would have brought it back in Angel Grove. I could see in the dark, as easily as I ever had in the day.
"Excuse me," his voice was pleasing to human ears. To me, I heard thick desire, lust and hate. I smiled softly and turned to him.
"Yes? Can I help you?"
He grabbed for me. I let him pull me into an alley, and start trying to pull off my clothes. But that was as far as I was willing to go. "Sorry," I growled. "But you're not being a gentlemen about this!"
The would-be rapist had just enough time to say the very intelligent and pithy word of 'urk' before I grabbed him, twisted him down to the street, and had him pinned. "Dinner is served," I smiled as I sank my fangs into his neck. I should've washed him first, I thought as I drank. But he does taste good!
I could tell even now that I'd changed some. The old Kim would never have done this. She would never have reacted so calmly to becoming a vampire, to being attacked, to drinking this guy's blood. Heck, she would have just screamed out "Tommy!" in the most helpless voice possible.
But those days, when the white knight was just around the corner, were long over with, and the helpless damsel had to handle things on her own. And I found I liked this just fine. Being predator instead of prey felt simply wonderful!
I didn't take all of his blood, of course. I didn't need it all. I took just enough to satisfy me. Don't ask how I knew was enough. I just did. It was pure instinct on my part. Almost as if I'd been born to become a vampire.
Once I was done, I simply left him where he was. Before I did that, of course, I had to make certain he didn't attack anyone else. After all, other girls weren't as able to defend themselves as I was now. Just as Mark had applied his own vampiric will to mine to get me to do what he wanted me to, I planted a hypnotic suggestion into my victim. Nothing bad, of course. Just a strong desire to clean himself up and do something decent with his life, after somehow making it up to the girls he'd already violated. I left it up to him on how to do it.
Fully fed, I returned to the compound. We woke up early around there,
so I headed for Coach Schmidt's office. I had to talk to him.
"I do not understand, Kimberly," the coach said in his accented tones. "Why do you vish to leave?"
This wasn't going to be easy. I couldn't tell him about Mark, I knew now that he'd never really been a gymnast here. He'd just implanted that idea in my head so I'd accept his presence. No one else had ever seen him. "I just don't think I'm ready for this. No offense, of course, but I'm going to be leaving as soon as I can get a flight back to Angel Grove."
"If that is what you vish," he sighed. "I vill not force you to stay if you do not want to."
I smiled. "Thanks, coach. I'm really sorry about this, but I belong in Angel Grove." Where there may be a chance for me to become human again.
It didn't take long to get things arranged. Mark didn't show up at all. But I knew he was around. I could sense his presence near me. It was almost like an extra sense I'd acquired. He was my maker, and I knew when he was close. As long as he didn't interfere with my life anymore, I didn't care where he went. I'd had enough.
The other gymnasts almost completely ignored me when I left. I heard them whispering when they thought I couldn't hear them. If I'd still been human, I wouldn't have. They called me a quitter and a small-town girl who couldn't hack the big time world of gymnastics. I just laughed. I had seen and done things that would drive these girls crazy, and that was even before I'd left Angel Grove! Their petty little insults meant nothing to me anymore.
Kimberly. It was Mark's voice in my mind. I went to a lot of trouble to make you what you are. You can never escape me.
Bull. I replied with my thoughts. Leave me alone, Mark. Or whatever your name is. I don't want anything to do with you, ever again.
We will be together. No matter the cost.
Then the sense of his presence was gone, and I was on the way to the
airport. I just smiled. I was heading home.
It wasn't a night flight, but I was learning that most of the things about vampires we learn from the movies and novels aren't quite true. One of the first things I realized was that sunlight had no effect on me.
I wonder if garlic does. Or crosses. I glanced around the plane to see one of the stewardesses was wearing a cross pendent. I gazed at it quietly, and felt no more revulsion or attraction than I normally did when looking on a symbol of faith. I shrugged to myself.
I hadn't told anyone I was coming back to Angel Grove. I didn't want to look on any of my old friends as dinner. I wanted to watch them without them knowing I was there, to see how their lives had progressed without me. To see how Tommy and Kat were coping. To see if they had gotten together. With the harsh words I'd spoken to Kat, and the letter I'd sent Tommy, I almost expected it.
But there was something else I had to do first. I'd kept my communicator when I went to Florida, as a memento of what I had been, and what perhaps, I had entertained the notion in my deepest thoughts, I might be again.
I had some money saved up and with that I got myself a room at a cheap hotel once I reached Angel Grove. I knew Aisha wasn't there anymore, Billy had written to me once the entire Zeo Quest was ended and they were settled into their new powers, or lack thereof. If she had been, I wouldn't have stayed with her anyway. I'd made my decision. As long as I was what I was, I would not show my face to the Rangers.
But Zordon was something else altogether.
KIMBERLEY! he was surprised to see me, to say the least. I was surprised to see the place had changed some since I had left it. I remembered what Billy had told me in his letter.
This must be the Power Chamber. "Hi, Zordon," I nodded to him, then glanced over to see Alpha was recharging. Billy wasn't here, which I was doubly grateful for.
IT IS GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN, BUT WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? DO THE RANGERS KNOW YOU'RE HERE?
"No, they don't," I told him. "And I'd really prefer it if you didn't tell them. I really want to keep this a secret."
AS YOU WISH, KIMBERLY, BUT WHY HAVE YOU RETURNED?
Before I lost my nerve, I told him. I told him about Mark, about what he'd done to me, what he'd made me into. By the time I was finished with the tale, tears were streaming down my face. One thing that hadn't changed was that I could still cry. And I wanted to. I needed to.
I AM SORRY, KIMBERLY, he told me as gently as he could. Unspoken in what I'd told him was a hope that he'd have some way to restore my humanity to me, to take away the curse Mark had branded me with. BUT THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO. THERE IS NO WAY I KNOW OF TO MAKE YOU HUMAN AGAIN.
I tried not to cry again. I was so hoping that Zordon, who knew so much and had done so much for us all, would be able to fix this as well. I took a deep, hitching breath. Tears weren't going to help me, I knew that. I was what I was. A vampire.
"Thanks, anyway," I felt my fangs twitching almost. I was getting hungry again. As much as I mourned my humanity, walked among it, and wished I was one again, I wasn't. I was a predator. "Please don't tell the Rangers I'm here."
I WILL NOT, he promised. AND I WISH YOU LUCK IN YOUR SEARCH, KIMBERLY. He knew, as did I, that I wasn't going to stop looking for a way to become human again.
I spent a few minutes looking around the room, remembering. I stared a long time at the Pink Ranger uniform in the back of the room. Images flowed through my mind, of battles and of friends. Jason, Zack, Trini, Billy, Tommy, Rocky, Adam, Aisha, Kat, my mom, my dad, monsters, Rita, Zedd, and more besides. I took a deep breath, and smiled a small smile.
"I have to go now," I said. The hunger was becoming too great. I had to feed.
YOU ARE WELCOME HERE SHOULD YOU NEED A SAFE PLACE, KIMBERLY. EVEN A VAMPIRE AS OLD AS MARK CANNOT ENTER THE POWER CHAMBER. IT IS FILLED WITH THE ESSENCE OF GOOD.
"Then how can I be here?" I blurted out. I was a vampire, that was evil. . .
YOU ARE NOT EVIL, KIMBERLY, he reminded me. VAMPIRES ARE NOT INHERENTLY EVIL OR INHERENTLY GOOD. YOU SIMPLY ARE. YOU CHOOSE WHETHER OR NOT TO BE GOOD OR EVIL, AS YOU ALWAYS HAVE. BUT YOU HAD BEST LEAVE. YOUR HUNGER MUST BE APPEASED BEFORE IT GROWS TOO GREAT.
I nodded, and without another word, left. I had to feed.
Days went by. I fed by night, slept in the day. That was more from convenience than any actual aversion to the light, and a deep desire to not let the Rangers know I was there. I watched them, though. As often as I could. Sometimes I skimped on sleep just to watch them.
Tommy the most. I watched him constantly. I couldn't seem to help myself. I drank in the sight of him as much as I possibly could. But I didn't get close to him. I didn't dare. If they knew I was there, then they would be in danger. Not just from my hunger, but from Mark.
Yes, he was in Angel Grove. I could sense him all around. He never showed himself, of course. He just liked to tease me. He always watched me as I watched my friends. He went closer to them than I did. He didn't have to worry about being recognized, so he could and did take more chances.
And he seemed to love taking chances. He hovered outside Tommy's house, followed Kat home many times, hung around the Rangers so much they might have noticed him, if he hadn't been using his powers on them to keep them from doing so. That was all he did to them, too. I would have known if he'd done more. I found out that while a vampire was immune to the powers of another vampire, they could also sense when those powers were being used, and how.
As odd as it might seem, I reveled in my new self, no matter how much I hated it at the same time. I was stronger, faster, more coordinated than I'd ever been as a Ranger. I even helped the Rangers out on occasion, though I made extremely certain they didn't know it was me. They didn't even know they had needed help, but during one fight with these metallic things called "Cogs", I took care of an entire second battalion that was trying to sneak up on my friends. They were reduced to scrap metal within two minutes.
One minute, fifty-three seconds, to be precise. Yes, I timed myself.
After what had to have been nearly a month of covert surveillance of the others, I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't stand being so close to them, but not being with them.
I guess it's time to leave, I decided one night. One last night on the town, then I think I'm going to go explore the options the rest of the world has to offer me. If I'm going to live forever, and it looks like I will, I should get some exploring done.
Once dressed in the black I'd come to prefer, I started out for dinner. It was late enough so no one I knew would be out, and that was all I really cared for. I had no qualms about feeding off just about anyone else in Angel Grove. Perfect strangers were legal targets.
I prowled around for almost three hours and found nothing. Or no one, to be precise. It was almost as if someone had cleared the streets. I was starting to get nervous. If it had been daylight, I would have thought there was a monster attack going on. Instead, everything was quiet and still.
Then I saw him. He looked just like any other prey out on the streets way too late. Hunched up and walking hurriedly. As if he were scared. He looked to be a drug dealer or criminal of some other type. Angel Grove didn't have too many problems like that, but they did exist. I more or less took it on myself to teach scum like those to behave themselves.
Before he knew what was happening, I'd latched onto him and dragged him into an alley. I was just set to start feeding when I got a good look at his face.
I couldn't believe my eyes. What was he doing out so late? He was staring up at me like he was in a trance, or worse. I quickly extended my sharpened senses, scanning his mind. If I'd found drugs or alcohol in his system I think I would've just torn his throat out and been done with it. But what I found was far worse.
Mark. Mark had reached into Tommy's mind and brought him out at this ungodly hour. He'd cleared everyone else off the streets, and put him where he knew I'd be hunting. He'd intended me to feed off Tommy, to drain him dry, possibly even kill him. I had no idea why I'd looked at him before starting to feed, I usually just drank and left. But I was glad I had. I would never have forgiven myself if I'd. . .
Mark. I could feel his presence. Tommy lay limp in my grip as I looked around, and I gently lowered him to the ground. He was completely unaware of what was going on, Mark dominated his mind completely. And to me, that was the greatest violation of them all.
"Mark," I practically growled the word. "Release him from your control. He's gone through this enough times. He doesn't need you to torment him!"
"Feed, Kimberly," his purring voice came from behind me, and I whirled to see him leaning against a wall, smiling that same smile. "Feed off him. He's just a human, like any other."
I glared. "I will not feed off him."
He shrugged. "Fine. Then I will. Come here, Tommy."
Tommy was walking over to Mark before I could move to stop him, even me with my vampiric speed. "Tommy!" I called out. "Get away from him! It's me, Kimberly!"
I might as well not have spoken for all the effect it had on him. But I knew how to get him to safety, if nothing else. "Zordon!" I practically screamed it into the communicator I'd taken to wearing again. "Get Tommy to the Power Chamber, now!"
In a flash of red light, he was gone, and I faced Mark alone. "Well, well, well," he chuckled. "You certainly react fast. That's good. But you're going to have to feed, my dear Kimberly."
"There's more people in Angel Grove than him," I retorted.
He shrugged. "Quite true. Feed off him or not, I truly do not care. But you are my creation, my Kimberly. My vampiric child."
I spat at him. "I am no creature of yours!"
He was beside me, his fingers trailing down my cheek. "You are," his voice was dark and sweet in my ear. "You are. And your precious Tommy will perish. He cannot be kept safe forever. And when he is out of that Power Chamber, then I shall be there. His mind belongs to me, and it was ridiculously easy to overpower it. He has been controlled before, and I think he rather enjoys it!"
I took great pleasure in slamming my fist into his stomach. He barely moved, though, and grinned at me. "We shall meet again," he promised, and then was gone.
"Yes," I nodded. "And when we do, I'll be ready."
I teleported to the Power Chamber right after that. I had to see how Tommy was. Amazingly, he was awake! His mind was cleared of Mark's control.
THERE IS AN ANCIENT REMEDY FOR THE VAMPIRIC CONTROL, Zordon told me when I asked. IT IS LITTLE KNOWN, BUT LUCKILY IT WORKED. I THINK YOU HAD BEST SPEAK WITH HIM, KIMBERLY.
I looked over at him. My ex. My love. My Tommy. My heart beat a little faster just looking at him. But I'd broken up with him in the cruelest way possible, by a letter. And I'd never wanted to. He was looking back at me, and the haunted expression in his eyes completely broke all the resolve I'd ever had to leave Angel Grove.
I was in Tommy's arms a moment later, our lips touching as they had not in so very long. I was where I belonged. I was home.
"Kim, I know," he whispered as we held each other. "I know what Mark did to you. When he took over my mind, I saw everything. He told me everything. How he made you break up with me, how he turned you into a vampire."
I forced myself to pull away from him. "How can you stand to be near me, then?" I asked. "How can you stand to touch me?"
He pulled me back to him, his hands on my shoulders and his warm brown eyes gleaming into my own. "Because I love you. I love you, Kimberly Hart, and I will love you no matter what."
"He's not going to give up, Tommy," I told him what Mark had said once he'd left. "He's not going to give up on making me like he is, a monster. But I won't be like that. If I have to feed, I'll do it off those who deserve to have their blood taken from them. Not off the innocent. Not off you."
He ran his hands through my hair, and I leaned against him, enjoying his strength, and adding my own, in a way I never had before.
"Hey, beautiful," he lifted my head and looked into my eyes. "We can take care of him."
And for some reason, I believed him.
"Hey, look who's back!" the next day Tommy and I walked into the Youth Center arm in arm, just like we'd never left. Everyone, and I mean, everyone, turned to stare.
"Kim," Kat's voice was low, but I heard it as plainly as if I were standing right next to her. And in that voice I heard every emotion possibly. Friendship. Anger. Concern. Worry. I glanced up at Tommy.
"I need to talk to her," I whispered. "I'll be back."
He nodded and sat down as I pulled Kat over to a quiet booth. She didn't protest, maybe something about my eyes made her not want to. Whatever it was, I wasn't going to argue about it. I wanted her to listen, and she was going to listen. "Kat, I'm sorry for what I said on the phone that day. I wasn't in full control of myself."
"You weren't?" she asked just as quietly as I was speaking. "Who was in control then, your evil twin?"
That hurt. And I didn't care. I just nodded. "In a sense, yes," before she could move, and I could actually hear her weight shifting to do, I'd grabbed her wrist and pinned it to the table with inhuman strength. She stared down in pure shock at my hand, then over to me. The blood drained out of her face as she saw me looking back at her.
In full vampiric mode. Eyes flashing and fangs out. She threw herself as far back as she could, and shuddered. "Let me tell you what happened," I released her wrist as soon as I knew she wasn't going to run screaming out of the Youth Center, then I quickly covered the basics of what had happened in Florida, and how I'd remet Tommy here in Angel Grove.
She took several deep breaths, looking at me. Finally, she said quietly, "If you need any help against this Mark guy. . .you know I'm here for you. Kim, you're my friend. No matter what."
You have no idea how much that means to me, Kat, I thought. "Thanks," was all I said out loud. "Come on, I need to tell the others what's going on. They should know."
She nodded. "I wish you'd told us you were around sooner," she said. "I. . .I've missed you."
I found myself smiling. "Thanks, Kat," I touched her shoulder
gently. "You're a real friend."
So now the Rangers knew I was in Angel Grove, and knew my secret, and knew that Mark was around and what he had done to me, and tried to get me to do to Tommy. You'd think that would be the end of my problems with that vampire, right?
For two more months things seemed to be purely perfect. I hunted every night in safety, there wasn't even the sense of Mark's presence around. The Rangers kept Mondo and his empire at bay, and Tommy and I had never been so close. We acted just like two normal teenagers in love. We went out to parties, we went to movies and dances, it was as if I'd never left. I almost forgot about Mark's very existence.
Except when I had to feed. It was rather hard to forget him when I had some mugger down on the ground and was sinking my fangs deeply into his neck. But except for that, I managed to more or less feel normal. Well, as normal as you can feel when you can practically bend steel with your bare hands and quite literally run four times faster than you ever have in your life.
Things had been peaceful for those two months. I loved every moment of them. The Rangers had accepted me back as their friend no matter how I'd acted before or what I'd become. I had Tommy again. He and Kat hadn't dated while I was watching them covertly, and now that I was back 'in the fold', as it were, I was glad to see her and Billy beginning to strike up a relationship of their own. They would go far together, I sensed.
When what happened did, it struck with the severity and suddenness of a thunderbolt. I was living with Tommy, since I didn't have any other place to go, and his parents let me have the apartment over the garage rent-free. I always came in after a successful hunt to tell him I'd made it back in one piece and that once again, Mark hadn't shown up to bother me.
I walked into his room, and right into a scene of pure disaster. Tommy
might not have been a neat freak, or anything like that, but there was
no way he'd left his room looking like this. The bed was torn apart,
there were slashes through several pictures of me and Tommy together. .
.and something written in what could only be blood on the wall. That scent
filled my nostrils and sent the hair on the back of my neck rising. That
was Tommy's blood.
The beginning, Kim. The beginning. It was Mark's writing. I recognized it at once. I knew he meant, too. There was only one thing he could mean.
That's how I found myself on a flight back to Florida. Back to where it had began. Back to that cave. I knew Mark hadn't killed Tommy, there wasn't enough blood for that. But he'd been seriously hurt. I wasn't overly concerned about that, though. Mark would keep him alive at least until I got there. He knew if Tommy died before I arrived, I wouldn't rest until somehow I'd killed him. And if there was one thing Mark valued after all his thousands of years of life, it was his life.
As I walked into the cave, I could smell Tommy's fear and his blood. It almost made me laugh. Tommy had rescued me countless times. Now it was my turn to save him. The role reversal felt good, in more ways than I could ever name.
"So glad you could come, Kimberly," Mark's voice was dark and dangerous now, with none of the sweetness it had once held for me. "I let you run free for two months, but now it's time for you to come to me."
"When hell freezes over," I said harshly. "I'm not the little wimp I was when you met me, Mark. And I'll never come to you."
He was standing in the back of the cave, Tommy held by one wrist. I couldn't see any wounds on him, and the blood-scent was old and drying. "Are you all right, Tommy?" I asked. He nodded a little, and I was glad to see he wasn't under Mark's control. At least that was one thing in my favor.
"Speak to him again and I'll break his neck," Mark tightened his grip to the point Tommy winced. All the Ranger powers in the world can't protect from some forms of pain. "You're mine, Kim, and you're going to feed off him, drain him dry, and he'll be discarded like what he is, yesterday's trash."
I growled, deep and low in my throat. He looked so damned cocky standing there, twisting Tommy's arm, that smile spread across his face, all I wanted to do was wipe it off of him, preferably with the largest brick I could find.
Not a brick, the voice sounded clearly in my mind, and I stared to realize who's it was.
Hey, beautiful, his face didn't reflect a single thought that was going through his mind. To look at him, he was just in pain and suffering. He knew better than to speak out loud. But somehow, he was in my mind. Not a brick, you know better than that. I've been researching vampires. Have been since I found out you're one. I'm not as good at finding things out as Billy is, but I DO know where the library is, and how to read.
What are you talking about?
There was a sort of mental sigh. Wood, Kim. A stake. Believe it or not, they actually work. Look at his arm. The left one.
My eyes flicked there, and my lips twitched. Where he'd been flawless before, inhumanly perfect, there was now a puckered scar. How'd that happen?
When he grabbed me at my house. I was sort of expecting him, and I had a stake ready. I wasn't fast enough, though, not fast enough to kill him.
You were going to kill him??? I couldn't keep the surprise out of my mental voice. Surprise on many levels, not the least of which was that we were even talking like this! It wasn't supposed to be possible between vampires and non-vampires. And how could I know Mark couldn't hear us?
Tommy's eyes widened a bit. I never thought of that.
You wouldn't, I thought dryly back to him. I'm surprised you even thought of fighting him.
The response startled me. I'm a Power Ranger, Kim. I fight evil. He's evil. End of story. You're a Ranger too. You know what to do.
And amazingly, I did.
Time slowed down to the merest crawl. Tommy was right. I knew what I had to do. It was the only thing I could have ever done. Mark was just watching me the whole time, with occasional glances to Tommy. He hadn't touched my mind at any point. I had no idea if he'd spoken to Tommy. I didn't particularly care, either.
We were in a cave formed by the roots of an oak tree twining through the soft earth of a riverbank. For who knew how long, driftwood had been piling up in it. Mark had avoided the wood, I remembered that now. When he'd first brought me here, he'd twisted and turned in some very odd contortions to make certain the wood didn't touch him. Now I knew why.
I jumped for the wood, and even as I moved, he was moving too, throwing Tommy as far away from him as he could, jumping towards me, trying to get to me before I got to a makeshift stake. He might have had a few thousand years on me, but I had three things he didn't have.
First and foremost, I'd been a Power Ranger. I knew about fighting against uneven odds. It wasn't like Rita and Zedd ever sent down just five or six Putties or Tengas against five or six Rangers. His strength and age made the odds against me very uneven.
Second, I was desperate. I had to win this, if I didn't, I was either dead or worse, his little lapdog for who knew how long. I didn't want that. I wanted to be free.
Third, he'd made a major mistake. He'd kidnapped my boyfriend.
As fast as he was, I was faster this one time. I had my hands wrapped around a piece of the wood, ignoring the pain that went shrieking through me, and whirled around to face him head on. He didn't stop, and that was his undoing as he slammed straight into me, and into the stake I held out like a samurai warrior would hold a sword.
For a moment, we all were frozen in a tableau. Tommy on the far side of the cave, trying to get to his feet. Me, my feet set and my eyes blazing with fury. Mark, impaled on the stake so hard it had went through his entire body and was sticking out the back. Then, amazingly, he smiled.
"You did good, beautiful," he whispered. He glanced back to Tommy. "Congratulations."
And then he was gone. Dust covered the stake. We had won.
I made my way over to Tommy, checking him out. "Are you all right?" I asked. He nodded.
"Thanks to you."
I smiled. Things seemed a little different all of a sudden. Something had changed. I went pale when I realized what it was. "Kim?" Tommy asked, clutching at my arm. "Kim, what is it? What's wrong?"
I was shaking. "T. . .tommy. . .," I stuttered. "I. . I think. . ."
I had to test it. I had to find out. I took in a deep breath. I listened. I looked. I tested every sense I had. And then I knew.
"Kim?" he sounded worried. He didn't have to be.
"Tommy!" he practically jumped at the joy in my voice. "It's over, it's really over!"
He nodded. "Yeah, I know, you killed the bad guy!"
I shook my head. "Tommy, you don't get it! LOOK!" I opened my mouth as wide as it would go. I couldn't see his face, not with my head tilted back like that. But I heard how he caught his breath in surprise.
"Kim," he whispered. "Your. . .you. . ."
I nodded and hugged him. It felt so good to hug without being afraid of breaking his ribs. "I don't have any fangs! I'm not a vampire anymore!"
It took a trip back to Angel Grove and the Power Chamber, where Tommy and I were both scanned in every different way Alpha, Zordon, and Billy could think up before any of the answers came to light. The first thing they established was that when Mark was killed, since he was the one who had made me a vampire, I was freed from my curse.
"Traditionally, that's only werewolves that become human when you break their bloodline," Billy told us. "But apparently it works on vampires too. There's just too much we don't know about them to know exactly what happened."
I shrugged. "It doesn't matter now," I told him. "Mark's gone, I'm human, Tommy's safe, and that's all that really matters to me."
Even though I was no longer a vampire, I carried the strength of it within me. Yes, being undead had made me stronger. I had learned I didn't need the Power to fight evil. I hadn't killed Mark with any special powers. Just my own courage and love for Tommy. That didn't come from being a Ranger or a vampire. It came from me.
Two days after Mark was dust, Tommy and I watched the sun coming up over Angel Grove. We hadn't been separated since then. He took my hand gently, and kissed it, brushing the fingers of his other hand against my cheek. "I love you, Kimberly Hart," he whispered. "I will love you until the day I die, and beyond."
"I love you, too," I touched him gently. It was good to do that, to do it as a human. The night had it's undeniable call, the sweet song of the night. I'd went walking out in it since my return to humanity. It wasn't the same as it had been. But that was good. The day wasn't the same either. And that was good.
Nightsong may be sweet, but the day is what I chose in the end. As the
sunlight burst over the town, our lips met in the sweetest of kisses. It
was good to be home.