But she was too late. She had come in hopes of seeing him again, of perhaps saying the words they had both avoided saying for many years. Somehow, though, she felt it right that he was gone when she returned. That her tardiness, her shyness, had robbed her of the only man she had ever loved. The only one she ever could love.
With a sigh, she brushed her long black hair away from her eyes. It might be time to cut it. There was no reason to keep looking as she had. She had kept herself as unchanging as she could, so that when they were back together, he would see the same person she had been. He had changed, however, she knew now. Changed beyond recognition, she wondered. Would she know him if she saw him?
She felt she would. She felt that if a thousand years passed before she saw him, then she would know him then too. Trini sighed, wondering if that was what was going to happen. Would she grow old and die alone, a bitter old woman who was too late for everything?
The rippling sound of laughter, male and female, touched her ears, and she looked up. Not that far away from her was a couple. A man and woman. They didn't look that much older than her, and she couldn't see them that clearly, the setting sun was behind them. All she could see were shadows and hear a deep toned voice and a slightly higher one.
I love you, Billy Cranston, Trini thought, her eyes on the couple as they held one another and danced back and forth in the spray. I envy them. I wish that were us. Perhaps in another time and another place...it might have been them. That was something she knew she would never know. He wasn't even on Earth anymore. He was on another world...on Aquitar. A world where he was valued, but not singled out, for his intelligence. Where the woman he loved, didn't just love him back, but had the courage to say something about it. Not like her.
Her eyes couldn't seem to leave the couple as they walked a little farther, and his head turned briefly, the light falling just the right way for her to see his face clearly. All the blood drained out of her face, and she felt her heart skip a beat. It wasn't possible. It just couldn't be...but...it was.
I couldn't give you that. I wanted to...but you always told me that we were just friends. You never hinted that you wanted more, but I always hoped, and I never dared to think anything different. I was so afraid...and I didn't dare to do anything about it. Until it was too late.
She turned away, no longer able to watch, pulling the scarf that was around her neck up a little higher to hide her face: and the tears that fell down slowly. I threw it all away. I lost it all. And now I'm going to have to pay for it.
Trini's tears fell fast and furious as she walked away, not paying attention to what was going on behind her. She didn't want to see them; she didn't want to think about them. All she wanted was just to turn time back to the days before she had left for Switzerland, before she had made a fool of herself and lost everything she had ever wanted in her life.
Before she had lost him.
"Billy?" she didn't let on anything that was going through her mind. She wouldn't. "I thought that was you!"
Her old friend came up to her, hand in hand with his beloved next to him. "I wasn't sure it was you at first. Why didn't you say anything?" the ex-Blue Ranger asked, tilting his head to one side.
"You looked like you two were having so much fun, I didn't want to ruin it," Trini forced herself to smile even wider, then resumed a normal expression. If she went much farther, she knew he would know something was up.
Cestria smiled sweetly at her. "You are Trini Kwan, the first Yellow Ranger?" At Trini's nod of agreement, the other girl's face assumed an expression of near-awe. "Billy has spoken of you frequently to me. You and he were close friends at one time?"
"Yes." Trini replied. "We knew each other for a long time. But I left, and ...so did he, I guess." She turned at once to Billy, courage rising to do what she knew had to be done. That didn't mean she had to like it...but she knew she had no choice. He had made his decision, and that was all there was to it.
And not one shred of love. And it was the only lie she had ever told him in all their time together.
A faint flicker of something passed through his own eyes, and she wondered if he had hoped she would say or do something else. But that was not to be. She had made her choice as soon as he had called her name. Whatever happened, she was certain this was the right thing to do. No matter how much it hurt.
"Oh....thank you," Billy replied quietly after a few moments. "I'm glad you...are all right with this." That was as close as either would admit to anything that might have been in their past. He spoke again. "Do you have someone, Trini?"
A faint smile touched her lips, and she spoke the second lie. As she opened her mouth, one thought crossed her mind. He's happy. "Yes. We're very happy. That's why I'm so glad for you."
"Oh." Billy glanced at Cestria, who was looking back at him with a quirk to one eyebrow. "That's good to know. I'm happy for you. Ummm...whose the lucky guy?"
"Someone I met in Switzerland," she thought about manufacturing something, then words that he had said came to her, something she hadn't heard herself, but she had seen the recording of it. "I feel like I can really relate to him."
He recognized the words, and she wondered if he saw through her deception. If he did, he said nothing and only nodded. "I believe fate has smiled on us all."
"So it has." Trini smiled as she turned her gaze onto Cestria. "Could you do me a favor, Cestria? It'll be easy...and I'd be eternally grateful to you."
The Aquitian raised one eyebrow and Trini continued, "Please be good to him. If you ever hurt him....I'll know."
"I know." Cestria replied quietly. "I love him."
Trini nodded, turning away and starting to walk again. She heard a soft murmur of words behind her, but didn't listen. She didn't want to know what they were saying. She just wanted to go back to her house and curl up and forget the entire cosmos existed for a little while. Then she heard it. The one word that he could have said that might have made her stop.
"I love you." Billy's voice whispered as he gazed into the eyes of his one true love.
"I love you." She replied quietly. "I will
always love you, Billy Cranston."