Disclaimer: Don't own the Power Rangers. Anybody you never heard of before
is probably mine, but it doesn't matter because there's no money involved
Note: this is completely AU. Zordon never died. The originals are all in
their early to mid-twenties. You'll recognize the other stuff I changed.
"I gotta admit, this was a great idea of yours, Bill," Jason Scott sighed
happily as he scanned the scenery around him. "This is a beautiful place,
and I can sure use the time off."
His friend laughed. "You and me both, Jase. You holding up okay?" William
Cranston, better known to his friends as Billy, gave his dark haired friend
an assessing look from his intelligent blue eyes. "You look a bit ragged."
Jason shrugged. "I'm a little tired, I guess. Alpha says I'm not likely to
ever feel the way I used to, so I guess I have to find a new standard to
judge by. But I'm okay."
Billy watched him for a while, then smiled. "Keep me posted, then. Which
room do you want this time?"
"The loft, man, the loft. I want that skylight," Jason cheerfully
shouldered his backpack and jogged up the short flight of steps to the
Billy chuckled to himself and followed his friend. This had been a good
idea, bringing Jason up to "Uncle" Jack's resort as a part of his
recuperation from his recent debilitation. He knew how Jason felt, having
given up so much for the greater good. In fact, nobody knew better.
At first, when Billy himself had tried and failed to receive the Gold
Ranger powers from Trey, he'd thought nothing would be worse than the
isolation he'd felt. No longer a member of the team, not really; and when
Jason, an original Ranger like himself, took the powers instead, it had
been worse in a way. He hadn't resented Jason, not personally. That wasn't
it at all. It was just that – Jason had willingly given up his powers, had
moved on, while Billy had chosen to stay with the team, in whatever
capacity he could. Then to see Jase take almost reluctantly something he,
Billy, would have given his right arm for, something he'd thought he'd
earned…well, to put it simply, it just wasn't fair. That was one of the
reasons he'd gone to Aquitar. Running away. Cestria had made him see that,
and so he'd returned, again to fight for good however he could. And it had
been good to be back, to rekindle his friendship with Jason, one that had
spanned most of their lives.
And then Trey had returned; and it had cost more than any of them had
dreamed for Jason to give up the Gold powers. He had so nearly died; Billy
suppressed a shiver at the memory, thanking God that his friend was still
with them, that Billy'd been here instead of on a distant planet when one
of his oldest friends had faced the ultimate enemy and won. But at a price.
The muscular, energetic martial artist with the ready smile and the
ladykilling ways had been replaced. Jason had become introspective, almost
melancholy. Physically he was weaker, smaller, paler; a shadow of his
former self, and not likely to ever recover, not fully. So Billy took it as
his personal mission to see that Jason understood the debt his friends owed
him, to believe in his value, to see that he was loved, and honored for his
sacrifice. All things Billy had not felt with his own loss. All things he
vowed his friend would always know.
So here they were, at his uncle's rustic resort in the mountains, occupying
the best cabin for the weekend. A piercing whistle interrupted Billy's
"Bring the groceries in, bro, the ice cream's bound to be melting!"
Billy chuckled again as he complied, glad to see Jason in such high
Jason loved how dark the nights became in the mountains. Dark enough to
rival deep space itself, and with nearly as many stars. He folded his arms
behind his head and lay back on the futon mattress, enjoying his view of
the night through the skylight. He'd been lucky enough to visit some of
those worlds out there; Billy could probably point out which ones.
Billy. He grinned to himself at the thought of his friend. Who would have
predicted the closeness between them, the jock and the brain? And who would
have believed the depth of the intellectual's compassion for the has-been
Jason gritted his teeth. He would not become maudlin, he would NOT. Every
choice he had made freely, knowing the consequences. Well, almost all of
the consequences…but the truth was that even had he known that taking on
the Gold powers would debilitate him, would ultimately kill him, he still
would have done so. There had been a void left in him when he'd given up
his Red Ranger powers and gone to Switzerland; to fill that void, even for
a short while, he would gladly have sacrificed more. To truly feel a hero
once again, to know, in the depths of his soul, that he stood strong
against the powers of darkness – to be back in the fight, one more time…
Ah, well. He would miss it. Every day for the rest of his life. But he had
known the Gold powers were never his to keep. He was just thankful he'd had
them at all.
And Billy understood. Out of all of them, Billy knew. Tommy was still
fighting, still the incarnation of Sir Lancelot he'd wanted to be, the new
team by his side. Kim, Trini, Zack, Aisha…each had moved on, found
happiness elsewhere, outside the confines of Angel Grove. Only Billy and
Jason had somehow been left behind, were still struggling to make a place
for themselves. Because only they had so completely defined themselves as
Rangers, that when it was gone, they didn't know what was left.
But they would find out, Jason thought confidently. They would find out.
He stretched painfully and rolled over, not seeing the streak of light that
arced across the night sky.
"I deny you! I refuse you! Do you hear me? I WILL NOT DIE LIKE THIS!"
Billy shot out of bed, the panicked voice from his dream still echoing in
his mind. He was drenched in sweat. Even his blond hair was stuck damply to
his scalp. The bedclothes were everywhere but on the bed, testifying mutely
to his unconscious thrashing.
He rubbed both hands over his face, trying to remember what had terrified
him so. There had been someone…someone he knew, and yet didn't
know…and…she?…was in darkness, and alone…
"I AM GUARDIAN, AND I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED!" Billy nearly jumped out of his
skin. That hadn't come from his mind, it was coming from – Jason! He raced
for the ladder to the loft and scrambled up to his friend.
The former Red Ranger was huddled in the corner of the room in a fetal
position, tears streaming from unseeing eyes, shivering. Billy quickly
flipped on the lights and ran to Jason, grabbing his shoulders and shaking
him, hard. "Jase! Wake up! Jason!"
Dark eyes slowly raised to meet his, and then, unbelievably, Billy felt
himself pulled back into the oppressive blackness of what he suddenly
recognized as the same nightmare he'd just awoken from.
Someone lay huddled in the darkness; he could hear muffled sobbing, and
fingers scrabbling futilely on the floor. Instinctively he ran toward the
sound and pulled the person – woman? – toward his body, cradling her,
murmuring words of comfort. "I'm here, it'll be okay. You're not alone
anymore…" and then he was back in the loft, staring at Jason's face.
"Billy? What –?" Confused, Jason looked around the room and back at his
friend. "Man, that was one heavy nightmare…I'm sorry I woke you up, bro."
"You – you didn't." Shaken, Billy stood. "What the hell just happened
"What do you mean?" Jason shook his head as though to clear it. "I feel
like I've been through a couple rounds with one of Mondo's monsters." He
looked more closely at his friend. "Bill? You okay?"
"Something weird is going on, Jase." Billy's intelligent blue eyes
narrowed. "Do you remember anything about your nightmare?"
"Yeah, some. It was dark, I mean beyond dark, and someone was trapped
there…and then somehow it was me, and I couldn't move, couldn't breathe,
and I knew I was going to die there, alone…" his voice drifted off as he
shivered, pulling the blanket closer. "Man, I'll tell you, I do not want to
feel like that ever again." He glanced up at Billy. "What? What is it?"
"I had the same nightmare, Jase, only it wasn't me trapped. It was someone
I wanted to help, but I couldn't get to them, and they were screaming…and
then I woke up, and heard you, so I came up here. You were huddled here in
the corner, like a lost soul, and I grabbed you to try and wake you up, and
then…then it got really weird."
"I felt like…I don't know, like I got sucked into the nightmare. Suddenly
it was dark again, like in my dream, and like you described, and there was
someone trapped, but I couldn't see them, but I could hear them. So I ran
to her – I think it was a woman – and I tried to help, but then suddenly I
was back. Something's wrong here."
Jason stood and tossed the blanket to the futon. "You think this means
The blond man gave a short nod, deep in thought. "Unless this sort of
psychic phenomenon happens to you regularly and you forgot to mention it."
Jason made a quick decision and began stuffing his clothes in his backpack.
Billy raised his eyebrows.
"Jason?" Their eyes met briefly, and Billy nodded again, this time in
Minutes later Billy's car sped away from the cabin. After a time Jason
broke the silence. "You think this is a side effect of giving up the Gold
"Truthfully I don't know what the hell it is, but it's weird, and Zordon is
our local authority on all things weird, so…" Billy shrugged. "Maybe
somebody is really in trouble."
"Or I'm predicting the future…"
"Or you ate too much pizza." Billy laughed, shattering the building
tension. "In any case, we'll know soon enough. I'm just sorry I didn't
bring my old communicator; we could have just teleported."
"Man, I always hated that. Made me sick to my stomach." Jason chuckled.
Billy shot a side glance at his friend. "You look awful, Jase. Catch some
Z's; I'll let you know when we're there."
The hours seemed to drag by, but finally Billy caught sight of a familiar
bluff, deep in the desert, and flipped on his radio, tuning it to a
frequency far below normal. "Zordon? Alpha? It's Billy."
"Billy? Ay-yi-yi!" came the familiar voice of the small robot. "What are
you doing here?"
"Alpha, Jason and I experienced an extraordinary phenomenon last night, and
I need to discuss it with Zordon. Can you drop the shield?"
"Dropping the shield now, Billy. Come on ahead; but you may have to wait a
bit to see Zordon. He's occupied at the moment."
Jason woke in time to catch the end of the transmission. "It's okay, we'll
Before them, where there had been only arid desert, now rose the Command
Center in all its technological majesty; the former Rangers smiled
involuntarily and glanced at each other.
"Gotta admit, it is cool," sighed Jason as they pulled into the docking
"Billy! Jason! It is good to see you," said Alpha as he hurried to greet
them. "I have told Zordon you are here. He may yet be awhile. Did you drive
"Most of it," Billy admitted. "Jason got some sleep, though."
Alpha beeped thoughtfully. "Perhaps the best thing to do is to show you to
the guest quarters and let you nap for a few hours. I don't know when
Zordon will be available."
"Guest quarters?" said Jason in surprise. "There are guest quarters?"
"Don't look at me," shrugged Billy. "I'm sure there are all kinds of areas
of the Command Center we know nothing about. And I could use a nap, Alpha."
The little robot led the way through a maze of corridors and finally
stopped at a pair of unfamiliar doors. "There is a communicator beside each
door; call me when you awaken. Sleep well, Rangers."
"Alpha?" Jason's deep voice stopped the drone as he bustled away. "We're
not Rangers anymore."
"You are to me," came the cheery electronic reply. "Good night."