..........It was after ten p.m., and the
usually busy airport terminal was anything but. A few people, mostly business
commuters, shuffled in and out of gates in half-asleep stupors. The white
lighting was stark in contrast to the black night sky outside the windows
as the group of teenagers gathered in a noisy crowd to see their friends
..........Standing apart from the small crowd, a young man stared out the window at the dim runway and the sleek, fat metal shapes of the planes. His blue eyes seemed to see none of this. None of it seemed to matter to him. He still couldn't believe they-or, more accurately, she was leaving.
..........How many scrapes had they been
through together? He'd lost count. Well, if he was asked, he could give
an accurate count, but at the moment, all the numbers in his head were
blurred, jumbled. Jason and Zack, he could handle. Maybe. But not her;
she didn't deserve to be cast off just like that, stripped of her powers
just because she would be a bit farther away! None of them did, really,
but... but.... Frantically, he searched for logic to back him up. Any viable
thread of logic at all.
.........."Billy? Are you all right?"
..........His gaze slid upward to see her reflection in the glass before him, a smooth oval face framed by a waterfall of dark hair. Despite himself, he smiled weakly and turned to face her. "I'm fine," was all he could manage to say.
..........Trini gave him her usual searching, knowing gaze, and he buckled under her scrutiny. "No," he said finally, "I'm not. I can't comprehend what's happening. You're leaving just because of a peace conference that might just prove to be commercial and ineffective."
..........She sighed, brushing a long black lock from her face. "It's not going to be that way."
.........."Trini, I scrutinized the list of sponsors. Do you actually believe that Pepsi and Xanatos Enterprises have world peace as their paramount objective?"
..........Her eyes met his. "Then we'll rise above them, Billy. You just have to understand."
..........Closing his eyes, he inhaled
slowly and deeply. "I understand why you're going to the conference.
But I don't understand why you're leaving Angel Grove, and the Rangers."
And me, he added mentally.
..........Trini turned to the group of friends who were still talking. "Aisha will be a great Power Ranger," she said softly, almost wistfully, looking at the slim, pretty girl with long dark braids. "You don't have anything to worry about."
.........."How could you give up on us...." Billy drifted off, biting back the rest of the sentence. "Trini, it's not Aisha I'm worried about. I know that she'll be an excellent Ranger."
..........She smiled, gently putting her hand to his cheek. "Then it's settled." Her smile seemed tight, like a mask stretched across the real thing. As she turned away, Billy felt bile rising in his throat and
grabbed her arm. Trini turned back, staring at him.
.........."No, it's not settled," he said. "Not if you try to end it like this." Taking a deep breath, he started to talk. "I'm going to say this plainly. I don't want you to go. Even if we were never Rangers, had never been acquainted with- met Zordon," he corrected himself, "I still wouldn't want you to leave me."
..........Trini opened her mouth to speak, but he put his hand to her lips, shaking his head. He already knew her reasons, and didn't want to hear them again.
.........."You were my first friend
here," he continued, "my first real friend. I know it
was you who convinced Jason and Zack to start hanging out with me."
..........She shook her head. "They would have anyway."
.........."That's true, but when? How long would they have waited if you hadn't stood up for me?"
.........."I have to go-" she began again, but he cut her off.
.........."I told you before, I know that. I've heard all your reasons, and they're logical. Reasonable. I can only understand that here," he said, tapping his forehead."
.........."The plane's leaving soon," Trini remarked in a low voice.
..........Billy smiled sadly. "That's too bad. I'm not done yet." He took her hand gently and surprisingly firmly. Inside, he was shaking badly, and was afraid that if she turned away, he would lose his nerve. "I need you here. You're the only one who can understand me-and I don't mean just in language!" He calmed down, became quieter. "I can figure out just about everything except how to keep you here. We've been through too much for you to leave just like that."
..........Recovering from her surprise-she
had rarely seen Billy speak his mind so plainly or so boldly-Trini smiled
again, genuinely this time. "Yes, I remember. You helped me with my
fear of heights."
..........He snorted. "By nearly falling to my doom."
.........."While trying to keep a group of Putties from knocking me off myself," she added. "My hero."
.........."Some hero I was," he said. "Afraid of fish." He shuddered at that thought, yet it pained him too. The thought of the memories of Trini ending there was a frightening one indeed. "When will you be back?"
..........She shook her head. "I don't know." As he turned away, she looked at him, sadly and almost hopefully. "Billy, I wish you could just be happy. I wish I could help you, but I don't know how to either."
.........."Trini, I-" He looked into her eyes, and froze. Again the words were on the tip of his tongue, and his mind was shrieking, Say it!! Say it already, you idiot!!
..........The gate opened, and Jason and Zack pulled away from the group. Trini kissed him on the cheek, shouldered her pack, and started to follow.
..........Trini hit the brakes and turned,
her eyes wide. "Come on, Trini!" Zack yelled in his usual tactless
way. "You'd better board before the next century!"
.........."In a minute," she murmured, moving slowly towards Billy. As she came face to face with him again, she could see that his blue eyes were brimming with tears. Strangely enough, hers were too. "You....you mean that, don't you?" she whispered.
..........He nodded silently, and the tears slid down her cheeks as she hugged him tightly. Pulling back, she smiled through her tears as she saw the lenses of his glasses streaked with wetness. "Oops," Billy said, reaching up for them, but she took his hand.
.........."Let me," she said, taking his glasses off gently and wiping them with a clean handkerchief she'd found. As she did so, Billy did something he'd never expected to do- or be able to, for that matter.
..........He kissed her.
..........What surprised him was that she kissed back.
..........They held it for a long moment, which was shattered as Zack shouted, "TRINI! Ouch!" The last part was added as Jason kicked him in the ankle.
..........She sighed, and kissed him gently. "I'd better go." Billy nodded silently as she reluctantly broke away and followed Zack and Jason down the ramp.
..........Billy joined the other five Rangers and watched her move farther and farther down the gray tunnel. He couldn't follow, out of pride, and because of the looks the flight attendant was giving him. An empty feeling spread through him as she boarded the plane and the attendant closed the door. It seemed as if something inside him had died.
..........He was back by the window, watching
the plane merge with the darkness. Tommy tapped him on the shoulder. "Hey,
Billy....are you okay?"
..........Okay? Okay?? The girl I've loved since I met her has left, who was the only one who understood me, never seemed to be friends with me just so I could help her with school, and probably won't return for a long time! It feels like something has died inside me. I feel like a fake. And you're asking me if I'm OKAY???
.........."I've been better," was all he would say.
..........Tommy, back in leader mode, turned to the group standing around him; old friends and new. "Let's go home."
..........As they headed across the terminal towards the exit, Kimberly put a hand on his shoulder. Her eyes were round with sympathy and understanding. "She'll be back, you know."
.........."I know that," he said yet again. "Maybe I'll be able to feel it."
..........And I'll be waiting, he thought as they climbed into the taxi that Adam hailed.