Author's notes - And here we come. Dguice - thanks for your compliments! I love a good zord battle :). JasonTKD - I think it's a testament to the threat that the King of the Underworld would legitimately pose, that it took two side-by-side Ultrazord blasts to finally put the guy down for good. Titanus is my favourite zord of all time, and if I have the opportunity to have him pop up being awesome, I totally will :).
Thanks to everybody for reading! It was a long story, but I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. The theme of the story is, the adventure continues, and more than anything else, I wanted to give the MMPR characters an epilogue where you see that they still love each other deeply, and that they're gonna be okay. And I think I did (and threw Titanus and Dragonzord in for the fun of it :)). Plus I wanted to put my own spin on the Samurai team, and I think I did that too. Anyway, on with the final chapter. Thanks for sticking with me everybody! I really appreciated all the kind words :).
Jason paused by the door to the room he'd shared with Zac and Tommy for the last few days. With an old smile, he grabbed the spare clothes on the bed and crammed them into his backpack. Packing would never be his strongest skill, but he'd made his peace with it long ago. Satisfied he hadn't forgotten anything, he reached for Tommy's toothbrush and turned back to the door. Ji was standing outside in the corridor.
"You're leaving?" Ji asked.
Jason nodded, and slung his backpack around his shoulders. "I hope we didn't impose too much," Jason said, and grinned. "It must feel like you can never get rid of me."
Ji offered Jason a smile in return. "On the contrary," he said softly, "I wanted to say thank you for taking care of my Rangers."
"You did a good job raising Jayden," Jason said. "He's so much more than just a good Ranger. He's a good kid."
"Well I like to think that I had some help in that department," Ji said, and gestured towards the front of the house. "The other Rangers sent me to get you. They're waiting on the lawn."
Standing on the grass as the older Rangers collected their luggage, Emily frowned. "Do you have to go so soon?" she asked.
"I know, right? It totally sucks," Kim said. "But we've all got lives and jobs waiting for us back home."
"We'll miss you," Mia said. "I feel like I've learned so much."
"Us too," Kim smiled. "C'mere," and she held out her arms to pull Emily and Mia into a sad hug.
Tommy glanced to Mike beside him. "Yeah," he said with a grin. "We should do this again sometime."
Mike laughed. "Not on your life!"
Behind them, Antonio stepped out of the house, carrying the last of Billy and Trini's equipment. "Thanks for all your help with the house's computer system," the Gold Ranger said. "It's like ten times faster than it used to be. Honestly, though?" And Antonio lowered his voice. "I wished I could've met your son."
Billy reached down and took Trini's hand. "Maybe some day," the Blue Ranger replied.
Up on the deck, Jayden turned as the door slid open, and Ji and Jason stepped outside. Ji quickly made his way down towards the other Rangers, leaving the two Red Rangers standing together.
"It's a shame you can't stay," Jayden said.
"I wish the circumstances had been better," Jason began, "but honestly? It was great to see you again."
"Absolutely," Jayden said. "Thanks so much for all your help."
Jason indicated the group of Samurai Rangers before them. "Keep them in line and we can call it even."
"Deal," Jayden laughed.
"And if you're ever in town, drop by and say hello," Jason continued. "We can introduce you to the others. Seriously, don't be a stranger. You don't need to wait for the world to end to call me. Any time you need help, advice, or even someone just to talk to after a rough day, call me, all right?"
"Count on it," Jayden nodded. With that, the two friends wrapped their arms around each other in a bearhug.
"C'mon guys!" Zac called.
Stepping away from Jayden, Jason joined his team-mates on the lawn, and gave Tommy back the toothbrush he'd forgotten. Emily and Mia nudged Jayden's shoulders, and he glanced back to them, blushed, then turned to the departing Rangers. "We do this thing sometimes," he said. "It's kinda corny. Rangers together…"
"Rangers forever," Jason finished. "I don't know. I kinda like it."
"Good luck with the Nighlok," Tommy said.
"Yeah," Kimberly agreed. "If you ever need us, call us."
"And we will come with great speed," Billy said.
"That's a promise," Trini finished.
"And Kevin," Zac said, turning to the Blue Samurai Ranger, "don't forget about the little things."
Jason stood tall and raised his voice. "Rangers," he said, "until next time," and they reached for their wrists. As the Samurai Rangers waved goodbye, the six Mighty Morphin' Rangers tapped their communicators and disappeared from the scene in six bright flashes of light, streaking up into the sky and vanishing over the horizon a second later.
"I can't believe they're gone," Antonio murmured, leaning against Jayden.
"I hope they'll be okay," Mia said.
Jayden thought of his old karate teacher. "I think they will be," he said.
"Yo Kev," Mike began, "what did Zac mean when he said to remember the little things? What was that about?"
Kevin glanced around nervously, and seemed very interested in the grass. "Oh that?" he asked. "That was just… nothing. A private joke," but as they made their way into the house, he stepped over to Emily. "Hey Emily, you're good with the internet thing, right?"
Emily giggled. "Of course. What do you need?"
"I was hoping you could look somebody up for me? An old swimming friend."
"Sure," Emily said. "Do they have a Facebook page?"
"What's a Facebook page?" Kevin frowned.
Unlocking the front door, Billy and Trini stepped back into their house. The place was cool and quiet, and neither of them wanted to disturb the peace. Trini quietly slid their backpacks onto the counter and began carefully unloading the equipment as Billy put it away.
"I wonder what crazy adventure awaits us tomorrow," the Blue Ranger murmured.
Trini smiled. "I suppose we'll have to call work and tell them our schedules are back to normal," she said. "At least for the time being."
"And go get Ryan from your parents," Billy added, and leaned back against the bench top. "I missed our junior scientist."
"I missed him too," Trini said. "I called them before we left Panorama City. My parents aren't expecting us for," and she checked her watch, "another hour or so."
Billy paused to meet Trini's gaze, the silence laden with unspoken possibilities. "Really?" the Blue Ranger asked. "We have an hour of time to ourselves?" and he leaned in close to Trini. "Well Mrs Cranston," and Trini grinned and laughed. "That is simply outstanding."
Tommy stopped at the front gate of his house and collected the mail from the letterbox. Hopefully he hadn't missed or forgotten anything overdue.
"You're good?" Kimberly asked.
Tommy nodded. "Thanks for walking me home," he said. "I can see why Jason still does this. I think we did a lot of good this week."
"I think so too," Kimberly said. "One last great hurrah," and she stepped away from the fence. "I'll see you in time for the next one."
Tommy waved as Kimberly disappeared down the street. Dropping the mail onto the deck, Tommy sat down on the front step. Pulling the Dragonzord coin out of his pocket, he stared at it silently for a few minutes as he flipped it between his fingers. After a while, he heard the gate creak open, and looked up to see Kimberly walking back towards him.
"For the record," she began, "I always thought you looked better in green."
Tommy laughed as Kim sat down beside him, and he shuffled over to make room. "All these years," he began, "I thought the Green Ranger had been a curse. Something I needed to overcome. But maybe he wasn't so bad after all, you know? Something inspiring came out of that. Maybe I needed Mike to show me."
"Maybe you did. He's a cool kid. They all are."
Tommy glanced to the Pink Ranger. "So Mike and Emily?"
"Deeply in love," Kim nodded. "They'll figure it out in their own time."
"So what now?"
Tommy leaned back and shrugged. "I think I should go see the museum about that job you were telling me about," he said.
"Tommy Oliver the palaeontologist eh?"
"Weirder things have happened," Tommy said, then met Kim's gaze. "Whenever I feel lost, you always have this ability to point me in the right direction. I don't know how you do it, but I don't know what I'd do without you."
Kim smiled. "That's what I'm here for."
Switching the light on, Jason and Zac stepped into Jason's kitchen. Jason dropped the pile of unread newspapers on the counter, and pulled the curtains open over the sink to let some light into the house.
"I suppose life's back to normal now?" Zac asked.
Jason sat down at the counter. "At least until I catch up," he said, and nodded to the pile of newspapers in front of him.
Zac sighed, and pulled out the seat next to Jason's. "Remember what you said last week, sitting right here at this kitchen counter?" he asked. "That you still feel like a Red Ranger all the time?"
Jason nodded. Was that only a few days ago? It felt like a lifetime had passed since then. "Yeah?"
"I'll tell you a secret," Zac said. "We all feel like that. Kim still feels like the Pink Ranger. Every day, I still think of myself as the Black Ranger. I don't think that'll ever change." He paused, and dropped his Mastodon Power Coin onto the counter. "From that very first morning in the Youth Centre, Zordon knew this was a lifetime deal. He knew that we were Power Rangers long before we got these coins, and he knew that we'd be Rangers for the rest of our lives. Long after Rita and Zedd were magically purified and then Zedd decided to run for mayor."
Jason laughed. "Do you think we should be keeping a closer eye on that?"
Zac considered that for a second. "Actually, yes," he said. "But the point I'm making is that this isn't an exclusive club anymore. You're not the only Red Ranger. I'm not the only Black Ranger. The weight of the world that used to be on our shoulders? There is literally an army of people to help us carry that now. We inspired an entire generation of kids to stand up, to be stronger, and to do the right thing even when it hurts. For all the things we accomplished in all those years, that's what I'm most proud of. And you know what? You should be too. So it's okay to not be the Red Ranger sometimes. You know, every now and then, just be Jason Scott. Big brother. Awesome friend. Inspiring teacher. And terrible, terrible boyfriend." He paused as Jason blushed. "Seriously, it's been days. You need to call Emily."
"I will," Jason said. "Thanks." The Red Ranger stood up and walked over to the mantle, opening the safe hidden there. "The world's in good hands. Jayden, Mike and the other Rangers showed me that." Zac watched as Jason unclasped his communicator and pulled his morpher from his back pocket. "So maybe I can leave these here," and he placed them carefully in the safe. "Just for now."
Zac stood up. "Wow."
"You think Emily will talk to me?" Jason asked.
"C'mon, I'll walk you over and put in a good word for you," Zac said. "Never fear. The Zac-man will always be here."
And with a laugh, the two old friends headed outside into the warm afternoon sunshine.
Later that night, far away in a sprawling old house on the outskirts of Panorama City, Mike stepped out into the cool night air to find Jayden on the deck, staring silently up to the stars.
"You think we'll ever see them again?" Mike asked.
Jayden smiled in the shadows. "That's the thing, isn't it?" he said, and turned to the younger Ranger. "I think the best part about being a Ranger is that you never know when the next adventure might be right about the corner."
"I think so too," Mike agreed.
"Then c'mon little brother," Jayden said. "Let's head back inside and see what tomorrow brings."
"I bet it'll be something really awesome."
"Me too Mike. Me too."