I don't own any of the characters used in this story. Saban owns all of them. This is my first Cassie/Phantom Rangers fic, so I hope you like it!
Authors Notes: This is a fic I wrote a long time ago, though I have just recently revised it and changed a few things. If this seems familiar, that is because it was posted a couple years ago on a variety of Power Rangers fanfic sites. Hope you enjoy!
Even as Cassie watched the others celebrate, she felt an emptiness inside of her. Her thoughts screamed out to her, telling her that she should be filled with happiness. After all, the war was finally over. Evil had been completely destroyed from their galaxy, and it would never again threaten Earth. But even with these thoughts of peace, she felt as though something was missing. She could not quite put her finger on it, but she felt as though part of herself was hollow. Suddenly, her eyes were drawn to Andros and Ashley. Though the entire group was sitting together, the two were especially close. Every now and then they would glance at each other, expressing their love through their shining eyes. Cassie watched them for a few moments, a dull ache in her heart.
I wish I could feel the way they do. I wish that someone would love me that way. She next turned her attention to where Zhane and Karone were sitting, somewhat away from the rest of the group. Even though it had only been a few days since Karone had returned to the side of good, the two already seemed very close. It seemed as if they were made for each other. Right now, they appeared to be in deep conversation, but the love that they had for each other couldn't be denied. Cassie sighed as she watched them.
I wonder if they know how lucky they are to have someone else who cares for them. To be in love with someone, and for them to love you back. As she looked around one more time, she felt her throat begin to close. With an excuse to the rest of her teammates, Cassie abruptly opened the door and left the room. She trudged slowly down the halls of the Megaship, tears welling up in her eyes as her thoughts drifted elsewhere. To one person in particular.
"Why hasn't be come back! It's already been weeks since the Countdown. He said that it was his job to protect Zordon; but even with Zordon gone he still doesn't come back." she sighed as she got to her room. "I wish I knew why I felt this way! I barely knew him, yet I can't stop thinking about him!"
Cassie opened the door to her room and slowly walked over to the bed. She sat down on the bed, closing her eyes. As her thoughts drifted to the Phantom Ranger, a sudden thought came to her head. She pulled out a newspaper clipping, one that had a picture of the Phantom Ranger on it. As she read over the article, a smile tugged at her lips. She remembered that day well.
That was the first time I saw him. And I never forgot him, either. Cassie dropped the newspaper clipping and sat on the edge of her bed.
"Does he even remember me? I knew I should've told him how I really felt, but I didn't have the guts. And now it's too late. He'll never come back," she whispered. She felt her throat begin to close up as tears filled her eyes. Just as they began to fall from her eyes, a loud knock on the door startled her. She wiped the tears away quickly and cleared her throat.
The door opened and Ashley walked in, concern for her friend written on her face. She shuffled over to the bed and sat down next to Cassie. She put an arm around Cassie's shoulder as she noticed the glistening tears her Cassie's eyes.
"What's wrong, Cassie?" she whispered softly. Cassie shook her head immediately, though she did not dare to look up at her friend.
"Nothing. Nothing's wrong." she replied, her voice coming out as a weak whisper. Ashley raised an eyebrow in disbelief as she took into account her friend's appearance and behavior.
"It's about Phantom, isn't it?" she asked softly. The mere mention of his name caused the tears to once again fill Cassie's throat. She opened her mouth to answer, but no sound came out. She turned away from Ashley, not wanting her to see the pain she was in. Ashley's suspicion was confirmed when Cassie was unable to give an answer. She tried to catch her friend's eye, but was not able to do so. Instead, she said, "He'll come back, Cassie. You know that."
"Will he really come back? He never said that he would. Besides, his work here is done. All evil in the universe is destroyed. He doesn't have any reason to come back."
"Cassie, you know that's not true! He will come back." Ashley said her voice filled with certainty. Cassie turned to her friend, a mixture of anger and pain reflecting in her eyes.
"He won't be back. There's nothing for him here. His job is done." Cassie spat out.
Ashley was surprised by her friend's sudden outburst of emotions, and she was not able to hide her shock from Cassie. Cassie immediately regretted the emotional outburst and tried to push Ashley away. But Ashley would not let her. She gently but firmly lifted Cassie's chin up.
"There is something for him here. You." Ashley explained simply. "He likes you, though he has never said it. In every action and word he directs towards you, there's always something more there. Something deeper. He has always treated you differently than the rest of us because he feels something for you that he just doesn't feel towards us. But he had a duty that he had committed himself to and nothing, not even you, could have torn him away from that duty. But now, his duty is done. He will return. Have faith in him."
Ashley's simple, yet sincere, speech had broken through Cassie's anger. The tears she had been able to hold back for so long now flowed down her cheeks. The beginning of a smile showed on her face.
"Thank you. I will have faith in him. I hope that he comes back soon." she whispered. Ashley gave her a beaming smile, giving her a hug as she did.
"He will. But until then, you have a we-went-through-the-Armageddon-and-survived party to attend. Now go fix your mascara because it's running." The small crack caused a snort of laughter to escape from Cassie. She lightly punched Ashley in the shoulder as she stood up. She quickly fixed her make-up and turned back to Ashley. A small smile was now on Cassie's face as she began to feel her hope rise up.
"That's the girl I want to see. C'mon. Let's go get the party started."
Cassie smiled at Ashley, and together they walked back to the party. As they approached the eating area, Cassie slowed down and took a deep breathe. She walked into the room, preparing to explain her sudden departure, but was surprised to find it empty. Ashley appeared a second later, looking around in confusion. "Where did everyone go?"
"The rest of the rangers are on the bridge." DECA explained, breaking her silence. Ashley smiled at the computer as she grabbed Cassie by the arm.
The two girls trotted to the bridge, with Ashley practically dragging Cassie along. When the girls entered the bridge, they immediately noticed the rest of the rangers crowded around the main screen. Ashley laid a hand on Andros' shoulder, looking at him in wonder.
"What's going on?" she asked. Alpha answered the question for her.
"There is a ship flying rapidly towards us."
As Alpha answered the question, he turned slightly to look over at Cassie. None of the other rangers noticed the slight movement, but Cassie did. She felt her pulse begin to quicken as she recognized the ship on the screen. But she just wanted to be sure, so she would not get her hope up for nothing. She returned Alpha's gaze, the question burning deep within her throat.
"Do you know who it is?" she asked. The robot seemed to be smiling as it answered.
"It is the Phantom Ranger's ship." he said. As soon as the words were announced, Cassie flew out of the room, racing to the docking bay. The rest of the rangers opened the docking bay, though they did not follow their excited comrade. The watched as the ship slowly landed in the bay, with Cassie looking on with uncertainty. Once the engines were turned off, the familiar figure of the Phantom Ranger exited. He immediately walked over to Cassie, not even caring that the ship's door was not yet closed. She looked up at him in uncertainty.
"Phantom?" she asked.
He simply nodded, unable to form words at the site of her. He had thought he was going to die during the attacks – thought of her were one of the only things that had kept him alive when hope seemed lost.
Cassie could not hold her emotions back any longer as she threw her arms around him. She immediately wished she could take back the action, but realized that he was returning her hug. The embraced each other for a long time, all time lost on them. The other rangers watched the display with interest. As the two slowly began to pull apart, TJ walked to the screen and turned it off.
"What did you do that for Teej?" Ashley asked, demanding an answer. TJ only shook his head and smiled slightly.
"They deserve their privacy. They don't need an audience listening in on a conversation that is long overdue."
When Cassie and Phantom had fully disentangled themselves from each other, Cassie looked directly into his eyepiece. "Why didn't you come back sooner? I didn't think you were coming."
"I was afraid. After how I left, I wasn't sure that you would want me to return."
With those words he bowed his head, unable to keep eye contact. He was ashamed of his actions, for he realized how much he had hurt her. Cassie stood there for a moment, uncertain of what to say. Uncertain of whether or not she should open her heart to him. Uncertain of rejection.
Taking a deep breathe, she put a hand on his shoulder. "I've wanted you to return from the day you left. I would have waited as long as I could for you to return."
"I wanted to come back, but I had a duty to honor," he explained quietly, still staring at the ground. "I had to fulfill that duty until I could move on. But I am finished now. I can choose my own path, now that evil has been vanquished."
"And I want a path that includes you."
He said the last words so quietly that Cassie had to struggle to hear it. In fact, for a moment, she thought she had imagined it. But she had not.
"And I want to be with you for as long as I can," she whispered, her eyes dancing as she looked at him. He looked up immediately, and she could feel his eyes locking onto hers. Reaching forward, she clasped the back of his helmet and gently pulled it off. He made no move to stop her and soon they were staring face to face.
They stood there for what seemed like hours but were really mere moments as they looked upon each other for the first time locking eyes. Finally, Cassie broke eye contact, smiling at him with a bright smile. She took his hands and their fingers slowly intertwined.
"Ready to go in to see everyone else?" she asked as she led him out of the room. "I'm sure they're dying to find out what happened."