T.J.'s never been happier since he became the Blue Ranger and Carlos has needed a good friend since he and Ashley. . .well, lost all chance with each other. Cassie had known from the moment she'd seen Andros and Ashley looking at each other that first day that they would become a couple. Carlos had accepted it. . .but that didn't mean it didn't hurt the Black Ranger. Cassie had also noticed T.J.'s gazes at her weakening in intensity ever since they had run across the Phantom Ranger again, and it hurt her.
I wish I could've fallen in love with him like he did with me, she thought, toying with a long strand of black hair. But I love the Phantom.
The choice of her movie today hadn't been just because she thought Star Crossed Lovers was going to be a good movie, or because she had longed to see it for some time. It sort of symbolized what it was she believed the Phantom and herself to be. Two beings destined to be together, yet drawn inexorably apart no matter what happened.
She tried not to think about him too much. It hurt to really realize that she was spending day after day without him, that he was without her. All the thoughts that he might not care about her were wiped away when she had heard his message to her, that she was not to worry about him, that he would be fine. And that he would see her again. Just thinking about that, just hearing his voice in her mind, made her tremble with delight. She wanted to hear his real voice, though. The voice as unfiltered by the helmet.
Words couldn't possibly begin to explain how or why she felt as she did. Perhaps it was the mystery that drew her, the elusiveness that called her as a moth to the flame. That worried her, that if she ever knew who he was and if he were ever with her constantly, she would lose the emotions she had for him.
That's a risk I'm willing to take, she reminded herself on a daily basis. Her heart had thudded in her ribcage when she had heard they would be going to the Phantom Ranger on Hercuron. She had hoped, she had prayed with all her soul that they would finally say something to one another. That he would say something to let her know one way or another how he felt about her.
Cassie had known where her heart was given the moment she had laid eyes on the Phantom, all those many months ago. It was as if she had waited her entire life for him, as if when time itself began, they had been foreordained for one another. I didn't use to believe in love at first sight, she chuckled as she shifted in her seat. She hadn't. Until she had first seen him.
It had been a brief glimpse. Something out of the corner of her eyes, just a ripple in the air. But it had caught her attention, and later, when she had seen a vague reflection in a mirror, her entire world had shattered and rebuilt itself, with one important difference.
She was in love.
Cassie couldn't recall any longer just how many times she'd dreamed of Phantom coming up to her and removing his helmet, of how many times she'd thought about the time they had both been captured by Divatox and the dark queen had come within seconds of removing his helmet. What would have happened if she had taken it off, she wondered? What would have happened if the secret had been revealed?
He has to feel . . .something. ..for me. They knew he would come looking for me when they kidnapped me. But. ..would he have done that for any of the others? That was the nature of the fear that filled her days. That she would meet him again only to find that he thought of her as nothing more than another warrior. The tension she had lived under ever since that had occurred to her had vanished the moment she had heard him with his special message on Hercuron. She did mean something more to him, she had to! Why else would he leave that message with her name on it, and no one else's?
As the movie ended, she went out with the others, giggling at how Carlos was wiping at his eyes, moaning about how romantic it had been. She had warned him, after all. A small part of her mind chattered on with Andros, Ashley, and T.J. about inconsequential things, such as if they should stop to get something to eat or not.
The main part of her brain was thinking about the Phantom. About what he was like. What he did in his off-time. Did he even have off time, or did he spend his entire life wandering around the cosmos? What did he like to eat, what did he wear and what did he do when he wasn't saving people? Those questions and more pestered her mind at times until she didn't know what to say or do or think. All she was aware of was that she would go insane if she didn't have the answers.
Whenever she thought about him, her heartbeat grew faster, her thoughts grew warmer, and her disposition grew kinder. Once she was back in her quarters on the MegaShip, she leaned against her bed, her eyes closed and her thoughts wherever the mysterious warrior was. She would have given almost everything she had in order to see him again. To finally drag up the courage from somewhere to tell him what she felt about him. To know once and for all if there was anything like a chance for the two of them. If there was, she wanted it to grow. If there wasn't. . .she didn't think about that. With a practiced jerk, she turned her thoughts back to the much nicer prospects that they did have a future together.
But when? That was what kept tripping her up every time. When could they be together? They were both Rangers, they had responsibilities to the world, no, to the universe, the chief of them being to find Zordon. He's looking for Zordon just like we are. How did he ever know that Zordon was missing, though? How did he get his information. . .how did he know that his message capsule would reach them in time, had he made some other plans in case they hadn't? Questions, questions, even more questions. Questions: but no answers.
Of all the males in the universe, I had to fall in love with him, she thought with a twist of her lips. Oh, well, what was I expecting when I became a Power Ranger? A normal sort of relationship with someone? Not going to happen. If I were in love with another Ranger, our dates would always be interrupted by having to go fight. If I were in love with a non-Ranger, who didn't know what I am, they wouldn't understand why I'd always have to leave. I had a taste of that with Lenny. She trembled a bit at that memory; she'd put on a happy face, and she'd been glad to help the normally silent young man gain some more self-confidence, but she'd been ecstatic when she'd gotten her diary back. The double date that night was an unmitigated disaster too. Thankfully, George and Lenny hadn't paid any more attention to her or to Ashley after that. She wasn't sure, but she thought she'd seen them in the movie theater too, both with girls who actually looked happy to be with them.
Cassie yawned briefly, dimly aware that something was strangely wrong with Zhane. She'd tried to talk to him, as had the others, after the battle earlier. He'd shown up so late, and ran off almost as soon as the monster was dealt with. Her 'crush radar', which had beeped audibly at the first sign of Andros and Ashley together, had went off the charts when she'd seen the way Zhane was moping around. Kind of like I was after Phantom left back on Earth. She wondered just who it was that had captured the elusive Silver Ranger's heart.
I wonder why he's so sad about it. Reality reasserted itself quickly. If Zhane was acting like she had when Phantom had left, then it stood to reason that whoever it was that the Silver Ranger liked had also left somehow. Probably had had to move out of town, or had turned out to have a boyfriend, or even some sort of disagreement between the two of them. She made a mental note to talk with her newest teammate when she could, perhaps once he'd had a chance to heal from whatever had happened.
Zhane's such a nice guy. I hope whoever it was that he likes didn't just dump him.
She turned over and smiled faintly as she did so, images of Zhane and his mystery girlfriend fading from her thoughts as she opened her eyes and saw a small picture taped up on the bottom of the top bunk. Every set of rooms in the MegaShip had a bunkbed, regardless of how many people actually slept there, and the bottom area was perfect for keeping various clippings and photos. She'd collected all the few items relating to the Phantom's brief time on Earth, and when she'd had a chance, had brought all of her collection up to the ship with her.
I love him. Her heart sang at the very words as they passed through her mind. I'll always love him.
Her fingers began to pulsate in a strange way, and she smiled even more broadly as they did. She knew what was about to happen. Carefully she got up and went to the small desk, pulling out a piece of paper and starting to write the words as they entered her mind.
When she was done, and satisfied not just with the melody but with the words, rhyme, meter, and everything else, she began to practice it on her guitar. It felt right, not just for her and Phantom, but for Andros and Ashley in some ways, and possibly for Zhane and whoever it was in his life as well. She nodded to herself. It was ready.
Taking a deep breath, she slid the door to her room open. She knew the others would hear her, and would understand. Hopefully it would help those who needed it. . .or at least entertain them. She took a deep breath, and began to sing.
Carlos smiled even broader than Zhane had, and whispered softly, "Nice song."
Andros and Ashley glanced at one another, then the two of them both emerged from their rooms to head down to the Simudeck together. Most likely for a romantic dinner somewhere in Paris or some exotic planet. Both of them gave her a grateful look, however.
Her eyes landed next on T.J., and she was surprised not to see sadness or regret or any of that on his face. Instead, there was serene acceptance. "You know, don't you?" she said quietly. He nodded.
"I know you'll be with him someday, Cassie. I hope he's everything you want him to be. But. . .if. . ." he bit his lip, not finishing the sentence, and she quietly walked over to him.
"We'll discuss that if that ever happens," Cassie told him. "But thank you."
The Blue Ranger smiled quietly. "Good luck, Cassie. Good luck."
He touched her face briefly, then stepped back into his room, the door sealing behind him. Cassie stood there for a moment, wondering what might have been. Then she went back to her own room and closed the door behind her. A single tear made it's way down her face, though if it were what might have been with T.J. . .what might yet be with Phantom. . .or what would be with either of them. . .she did not know.