A month had passed since Rita and Zedd had attacked, a month of peace and quiet for almost all the Rangers, most especially Billy and Evanthe. The young vampire couple had settled into what could best be described as domestic bliss, as they whiled away the nine months until the birth of their child.
One fall day, Billy was gazing lovingly at his wife, involved in a most exciting fantasy, when she looked up from the book she was reading. "I want sushi!" she declared suddenly. He jumped, jerked out of the daydream.
"What?" he shook his head for a moment, that had been quite interesting!
"I said, I want sushi!" Evanthe repeated. He raised an eyebrow in shock.
"This is a first! But if that's what you want, let's go get you some!" Billy got up and started for the door, Evanthe on his heels.
She paused for a moment as she reached for her purse. "And maybe some pickles to go with it!"
"You sound almost as bad as Elissa when she was pregnant!" Billy grinned as they headed out the door.
Evanthe shrugged. "This is kind of strange. I haven't eaten solid food for centuries, I haven't wanted or needed it!"
"Remember," he told her, "This kid needs nourishment other than blood!" their pantry had to be the barest of all the Rangers, and their food bill was practically nonexistent. Why would they bother to buy food when they simply 'went out' every night?
"I guess so," Evanthe shrugged. "Come on, I want that sushi and pickles! And maybe some pistachio ice cream too!" as they got in the car, her thoughts wandered. "I wonder what food tastes like these days. It's been so long since I had anything other than blood."
Billy smiled. "It tastes like food!"
She glowered at him a little. "Billy, I have never had anything solid that you have. I've never had a cheeseburger or a pizza or a pork chop. I don't know what those things taste like, but they're actually starting to sound appetizing!"
"Well, let's take it slow with the food. We don't want you to explode your first time in six hundred some odd years!"
Evanthe giggled. "I don't think I can explode, but I don't want to find out the hard way that I can!"
"You want to eat here?" Billy asked as he pulled into a takeout Chinese restaurant. "Or take it home so you can get your ice cream and pickles?"
"Take it home!" Evanthe insisted. Billy grinned, went inside, and came back a short time later with the sushi. Even as she dived into it, he was heading off to the little grocery store across the street. The bag he came out with was somewhat larger than might have been called for, but Evanthe was so involved with her first solid food in centuries, she didn't mind.
"Thanks, Billy!" she told him as they drove back to the house. Billy only smiled.
"Come on, let's get you and all this food inside!" he appeared to be shaking with laughter as they walked in.
"Is something funny?"
He shook his head. "I've never seen anyone eat dead raw fish like that!"
She shrugged. "First time for everything!"
Billy grinned as he put away a few things he'd bought. "There's a surprise for you in there for later!" he told her. Triple Fudge Swirl Ice Cream. I loved that when I was human, and I bet she will too!
"Good!" she declared. "I'm still hungry!"
Billy watched as she devoured what he'd bought, then looked up at a knock on the door. "Who could that be?" he wondered. He opened the door to see Adam and Elissa out there.
"Hi, Billy," his friend said, a touch of annoyance and upset in his voice. He and Elissa had been at the ranch for the last month; luckily Zedd and Rita hadn't bothered them at all.
"Come on in," Billy smiled. "How was the ranch?"
Adam shrugged. "Fine," he glanced at Elissa behind him.
Billy frowned a little. "Something wrong?"
"Yes and no," Adam replied. Elissa came in, her head down and obviously troubled about something. Evanthe came over, frowning.
"Elissa?" she asked. "What's up?"
Elissa sighed, and showed her bare wrist where her communicator had been, then brought out a small paper bag. From it she dropped her morpher. "I'm leaving the team. I'm giving up my powers. I can't do it anymore."
"And just what is that going to accomplish?" Evanthe asked harshly, surprised her friend was doing this. They had a responsibility now!
"Evanthe, this wasn't an easy decision for me to make!" Elissa told her.
Evanthe wasn't listening, though. "It's the wrong one, Elissa. It'll just make it even easier for Rita and Zedd to take Gwen if you don't have your powers to protect her."
Elissa took a deep breath. "Evanthe, I just spent the last month battling this out with Adam, don't ask me to redo this battle with you."
"Fine," Evanthe almost growled. For the first time in a long time, she was angry with Elissa. "I won't try to talk you out of it. I could name a few stupider things you've done over the past century, but I can't think of any at the moment!" she turned on her heel and marched out of the living room.
Adam, I want to go home.
Then we'll go. Adam looked at Billy. "I'll come by later, Billy."
The Blue Ranger nodded. "I hope you're doing okay, Elissa," he almost flinched as she simply left, Adam following. He sighed a little, looking at the morpher in his hand, then followed Evanthe down to their bedroom. "Honey?" she was staring out the window at them, angled so they wouldn't see her. "She'll soon realize that it's a mistake."
"Will she?" Evanthe wondered. "Will Rita and Zedd give her time to realize that?"
"They'd better!" Billy declared.
Evanthe looked at him. "And if they don't?"
"We'll make them!"
His wife smiled a little. "We certainly will!"
Billy wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly. "Something is bothering her, and she has to deal with it first."
Evanthe sighed. "I guess so. I wish Rita and Zedd would just leave us all alone!"
"Who knows?" Billy shrugged. "They've been quiet this past month. Maybe you really did scare them!"
"I did my level best! I would never have killed Rita, though. I won't sink to their level."
"I know," Billy kissed her on the forehead, then glanced outside to see Adam and Elissa still talking. Or was it arguing? He couldn't tell.
Evanthe sighed, in sorrow or happiness he couldn't tell. "You know, things were so much simpler in our lives before we met you two in the mountains that day. But they were a lot less fun too!"
"I'm glad we met you," Billy smiled as he laid a gentle hand on her stomach. He liked to do that, to feel the life growing in there.
Evanthe laid her hand on his. "So am I. But if you hadn't, you'd still be human."
"And probably alone," Billy told her. Evanthe shook her head in denial.
"Someone as handsome and loving as you, alone? Never!"
"I love you," he whispered, pulling her away from the window. They had much more interesting things to do than watch their friends fight, talk, discuss or whatever it was they were doing.
"What do you mean, I'm being pigheaded!" Elissa just barely managed to keep her voice down.
"Well, you are!" Adam retorted. "I should think you'd know what the phrase means!"
Elissa closed her eyes and prayed for strength. "Adam, we have been fighting nonstop for the past month, about this exact subject. You know why I no longer wish to remain a Ranger."
"Yeah, I know why," Adam nodded. "That doesn't mean your reasons are good ones, right ones, or even sensible ones!"
"But they are mine."
Adam nodded again. "I know. I respect your choice, but that doesn't mean I have to like it!"
"No, but you sure do argue about it a lot!"
Adam took a long breath. "All right, I won't mention it again!"
"Good!" she turned and started towards home. Both of them remained in stony silence until they were in their own living room. She sighed softly. "Are we always going to be like this now?"
"Won't we?" she wondered. "We haven't stopped in the past month."
Adam looked into her eyes, letting all his love for her fill his. "So we stop now."
"I hope we can."
"So do I."
She leaned against him, enjoying his strength and love. "Will I ever be able to get away from what Finster did?" it still haunted her dreams and tormented her mind, worse than anything that had ever happened to her.
"Someday, yes," he promised her. Elissa wasn't so sure though.
"I think I should tell the other Rangers, though," she decided. "About me leaving the team, that is. They should know."
Adam nodded, and hit his communicator, calling everyone together at the Command Center, letting them know it wasn't for a fight. Once everyone had agreed to come, the two of them teleported in. Elissa glanced quietly at them all, not meeting anyone's eyes. "Guys," she said quietly. "I have bad news."
"What is it?" Tommy wondered.
"I'm leaving the team," she was braced for the chorus of 'whys' that followed. She told them, "I can't do it anymore. I just can't. I'm sorry."
Kim came over to her and took her hands. "It's your decision, Elissa. We'll all help keep an eye on Gwen if you need us to. You know Rita and Zedd are still going to be after her, she'll need the protection."
Elissa nodded, and thanked her. Then she looked to the one other person whose support she wanted. Evanthe came over to her. "I don't agree with what you're doing, Elissa," she stated. "But if you need me, I'm there for you."
"I wish I could explain my reasoning behind my decision," Elissa knew they would understand, but she herself wasn't ready to face it just yet. "But I can't, not yet."
Evanthe nodded. "When you're ready to, you know where we are."
Elissa nodded, and smiled. "Thank you all for understanding!"
Evanthe hugged her. "What else can we be when we all love you?"
"We're going to miss you being on the team," Tommy told her, already mentally making plans on how to change tactics and plans in battle. "But I'm sure whatever your reasons are, they're good ones."
Peace was maintained.
Eight more months passed, and Elissa still hadn't been able to speak to them about what had happened. Rita and Zedd's attacked increased, but the simple procedure of keeping Elissa and Gwen under constant surveillance in non-combat situations, and in the Command Center during battles kept them both safe. Elissa taught herself how to use the Command Center computers, mainly out of boredom during long battles, and kept an eye out for sneak Tenga attacks. It kept her busy, if nothing else.
"What's on your mind, Billy?" Evanthe asked one spring day. He smiled at her.
"Wondering when our child is going to be born," Zordon had removed Evanthe from active Ranger duty until after she recovered from childbirth, and that could be any day now, with the way she was looking.
Evanthe shrugged. "Who. . .," she stopped suddenly, an odd expression on her face.
"Now?" Billy leaped to his feet, as Evanthe nodded. They were out of the house and heading for the hospital within another five minutes. The other Rangers and Elissa gathered there, waiting this historic occasion. Elissa leaned against Adam, Gwen in her arms, thinking.
"This is almost as exciting as when Gwen was born!" Adam declared. Elissa nodded briefly.
"And a lot less painful for me."
Adam smiled. "I wonder how Billy's taking it?"
"She's probably twisting his hand off!" Elissa declared, laughing a little for the first time in months. She and Adam still had the occasional disagreement over her decision, and he was definitely not happy with it, but things had calmed down a great deal between them.
"And almost as nerve-wracking for us," Rocky declared, with the others' agreement. Elissa glanced over at them, they hadn't really associated much lately. She'd been too busy trying to deal with her memories and shame.
"Yeah," Tommy nodded. "But at least this time we're not stuck in school!" he remembered how for most of Elissa's labor, only Adam had been able to get to be with her. The rest of them had been forced to wait till school was out to show up.
"At least they waited for their kid!" Elissa did something that they hadn't seen in a while from her.
"It's not quite the same situation with them as it was with us, Elissa," Adam smiled.
"I was just kidding!" Elissa protested, and Adam hugged her warmly.
Everything was quiet for a few minutes, then Kim broke the silence. "I wonder if this one will take as long as yours did, Elissa?"
Aisha shrugged. "Who knows?"
"Any word?" they looked up to see Vincent entering the waiting room.
Tommy shook his head. "Nothing yet. Nice to see you again, Vincent," the men shook hands all around, and Vincent smiled.
"Nice to be seen, and to be here!" he and Evanthe had become close friends over the past nine months, a friendship cemented by the fact he was no longer trying to marry her.
"Hopefully some news will come soon!"
"Come on!" Billy urged. "Just a little bit more!"
Evanthe pushed with all her heart, and the doctor cried triumphantly. "Got a head!" a few more moments passed. "Come on, just a little more! I got the shoulders! Just a little more, and we should have the whole baby!" Evanthe gave the greatest push of her life, almost ripping Billy's hand off in the process. "And we have a beautiful baby boy!"
Billy kissed Evanthe's forehead softly, as she relaxed from the effort. "I wanna see him!" she declared. The doctor smiled at her.
"The nurse will bring him over in a second," he told her. "She has to clean him off first."
Evanthe looked at Billy. "What are we going to name him?" she wondered. From the tone in her voice, she had something in mind already.
"What do you want to name our son?" Billy asked as the nurse brought him over to them.
Evanthe smiled. "How does William Vincent Cranston sound?"
Evanthe looked at her son, and smiled. "You are so precious," she whispered, holding him close to her. "And so rare," tears shone in her eyes as she gazed on this living miracle. I never thought I would do this. I never thought I would hold a life that came from me and someone I love as much as I love Billy. Whatever gods there are, I thank you for this. Thank you a thousand times over.
Everyone in the waiting room looked up as Billy entered, a bundle in his arms. "Guys," he spoke softly. "I'd like you to meet my son."
Kim was first to see him, and he smiled. "Ohhh!! He's adorable!"
"What's his name?" Elissa wondered.
Billy's eyes fell on Vincent. "William Vincent Cranston."
The vampire king smiled, he'd had no idea Evanthe would do that. "Billy, when you arrive home, there is something I wish to drop off to you, for William."
"A very old crib," Vincent told him. "Actually it's more of a gift from Liana. It was her crib when she was a child. She would have come herself, but she'd got to take her lifeguard certification test today."
"Somehow, I can't quite imagine a vampire lifeguard," Billy smiled. "But I'm sure she'll be great at it!"
Vincent nodded. "She will be, and she's so looking forward to it!"
Billy smiled. "I'd better get back to Evanthe. She fell asleep, and she tends to be irritable if she wakes up and I'm not there. I don't want her snacking on the nurses!" he turned to go, when Elissa stood up.
"I hate to interrupt, but any chance I can go see the new mother?"
Billy nodded. "Okay! You tell her I'll be there in a few minutes, okay?"
Elissa smiled, nodded, and headed down to the room Evanthe had been wheeled into. She cleared her throat as she stood in the doorway. "Excuse me, is this the new mother's room?"
Evanthe was already awake, and smiled to see her friend there. "Hey there!"
"Can we talk?" Elissa asked, and Evanthe nodded. "About why I left the team," Elissa took the seat next to Evanthe.
"I've been wondering," was all Evanthe said, wanting Elissa to say only what she wanted to say.
Elissa was quiet for a few minutes. "I had to get my head on straight about what happened to me while I was in the Dark Dimension."
"What did happen?"
"Finster," Elissa whispered. The little mutant didn't look very evil, but within him beat a core of cruelty every bit as horrible as that within Rita and Zedd. "He performed some tests on me."
"What kind of tests?"
Elissa took a deep breath. "He poked and prodded. Needles, taking and putting stuff into me. Among other things," she bit her lip, not wanting to speak much more. Evanthe reached out for her.
"Oh, Elissa!" Tears shone in Evanthe's eyes. "How could he?"
"I don't know," Elissa shook her head. "But I was humiliated!"
Evanthe clenched her fists. "If they even look at you, or Gwen, or anyone else again, I'll get every vampire in creation to help me if I have to, but they're going to die!"
Elissa looked at her friend. "I think they know how Gwen is channeling her power through me, and why!"
Violet eyes widened. "We have to protect you and her both then."
"Adam doesn't know this," Elissa said softly. "But I talked to Vincent about this. He told me he forced you two into not telling me that Gwen, through me, was going to do that to Michael, and that she would continue to channel the energy until her first change."
Evanthe nodded. "I would have told you if I could."
"There's also been a new werewolf king chosen," Elissa caught her friend up on the news from the wererealm. "And there's going to be a unity between the werewolves and vampires, thanks to our friendship."
Evanthe smiled. "It's about time."
"Vincent has also taught me how to block my memories from Adam, since he's kind of sick of seeing Jareth in my dreams."
"Sounds like you guys have been busy lately!"
Elissa looked at her friend. "Evanthe, please don't tell Adam that I did this, please!"
"I won't," Evanthe swore. "I never have broken a promise to you, you know that."
The former Rose Ranger sighed. "We've been so distant from each other. He's not happy with my decision to leave the team."
"I don't really know what to say, Elissa," Evanthe mentally swore vengeance against anyone who had harmed her beloved friend, and so hurt her marriage. "All I can say is, just be patient."
"He wants me to rejoin the team," Elissa told her. "I don't think he likes worrying about me while he's fighting."
"I don't like worrying about you, either," Evanthe told her. "But it's your decision," she'd finally accepted that after all this time.
Elissa glanced out the window. "One day, maybe," she mused. "From what I was told, you guys never replaced me."
"We can't replace you, Elissa!" Evanthe told her, smiling.
Elissa smiled, and changed the subject quickly. "William has your eyes."
"And Billy's hair," Evanthe remembered. "And I hope Billy's brains, too."
"And his mother's sense of honor and loyalty."
Evanthe blushed, and Elissa sighed deeply, her thoughts incessantly returning to where they had been. "I love Adam, but I'm starting to wonder how he's been able to put up with me these last few months."
"Because he loves you," Evanthe replied simply. They both looked up as the sound of a throat clearing came from the doorway.
"Am I interrupting anything?" Billy asked. Evanthe smiled.
Elissa stood up. "I was just leaving. We can finish this later," she smiled briefly at Evanthe, and then left. Billy watched her go, concerned.
"Is she going to be okay?"
Evanthe shrugged. "I hope so!"
"Want to hold your son?" Billy asked, bringing the little bundle over. Evanthe smiled and nodded. "Oh, before I forget," he said as he slipped little William into her arms. "Remember that crib we picked out, but didn't really like?" Evanthe nodded. "Vincent and Liana have given us one. As a matter of fact, it was Liana's at one time!"
"How sweet of them!" Evanthe smiled.
"Vincent's out in the waiting room, with everyone else, and Liana sends her love," he told her.
"That's right," Evanthe nodded. "Her lifeguard test was today!"
Billy's eyes widened. "You knew?"
"Liana and I talk a lot these days, didn't I tell you?" Evanthe smiled a little. "I knew I was forgetting something!"
Billy leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. "You need sleep."
Evanthe kissed him in return. "I need blood! You wouldn't mind if I munched on one of those nurses, would you?"
He smiled. "Vincent will bring you dinner later! Just get some rest until he does."
Evanthe nodded. "I love you," she whispered as she leaned back into her pillows. Billy put William in the crib the hospital had put in the room at Evanthe's insistence, and looked at his wife.
"Sleep tight," he told her. "I'll be back." he walked out, turning off the lights. That was no barrier to Evanthe, though, as she looked over at her son.
"Welcome to the world, my son," she whispered softly. She jerked up as she heard Zedd laughing.
His evil voice echoed in her ears, and she knew only she could hear him. "Enjoy your son while you can!"
"You leave him alone!" she growled.
"Try and stop me!"
Evanthe's eyes flashed. "If it costs me my life I will!" I'm already undead, after all!
"You can't even help your friend!" Zedd mocked her.
"Leave us all alone, Zedd!"
"When hell freezes over!"
Evanthe's fingers curled into fists. "That might be sooner than you think if you touch my son, my friend, or anyone else I care about ever again!"
Zedd's laughter echoed again, then faded out. Evanthe took a deep breath, and swore, "No matter what it takes, I'll protect all of them."
She leaned back into the pillows, and was asleep in moments. Elissa watched her friend from the shadows, and sighed. "Enjoy what sleep you can get," she whispered. She knew, all too soon, that things were going to get back to 'business as usual' with the Rangers.
Will I ever be one of them again? she wondered, blocking the thought from Adam as she left her friend to rest. Will I ever be able to deal with what was done to me?
She could not answer those questions. Only time would. And time was not telling her.