Disclaimer:*Sighs dreamily* I would love to own Power Rangers. I'd probably make it sorta dark and twisted, but it would still have the cheeziness and cute guys and bright pretty colors and shiny stuff. *Dreamy expression fades to a pout* Unfortunately, instead I'm hoping and praying for DVD box sets and writing fanfics while I huddle under a blanket in a cold house and sip Kool-aid in place of juice. I hate being sick...

I was going to make this into another chapter of Fade to Darkness, but it doesn't really fit with the tone. Instead it's a side story, set sometime while everyone's drifting around through space. It's really just an introspective bonding sort of piece. Not much, but something for my wonderful reviewers while I fiddle with Fade to Darkness and Anything for You a bit more. It's sort of a spoiler for two of the couples, but it's not too big a deal.

Oh, and for anyone who's wondering, I'm bring a little of Billy's technobabble back. He was so much cuter that way. There is a reason, but it's only partially explained here. Besides, it's a challenge to try and figure out spiffy big words for him to use. Makes my brain work. ^_~

Many thanks to Hagar, Dagmar Buse, Mathias-8888, agge, slave4britney, and hartfelt. This is for you, guys. And congradulations to hartfelt, for figuring out one of the couples. (Sorry to any Billy/Kat fans, but I just don't see where you're getting it from, and I'm not so fond of Billy/Kim. *Shrugs*) Although I must say, kudos to all the slash fics that popped up the other day. Very nice to see.

Enjoy everyone! ^_^

Zordon's Gifts

Jason leaned back against a tree with a contented sigh, crossing his arms behind his head. "Man, this feels nice." he murmured.

"Hard to believe we're actually in a simulation in the middle of a freezing spaceship drifting through some unknown part of space."

He opened an eye just as Tommy chucked a shoe at Zack good naturedly. "Thanks, man. Spoil the mood why don't you." Tommy teased.

Zack shrugged, trying to look innocent despite his twinkling eyes. "Can I help it if it's true?"

"It's quite fascinating how the simudeck's holographic programing can project such a thorough image as to give the illusion of the scent of fresh cut grass." Billy commented. The technical musing was contrasted by the sight of the young genius sprawled out on his stomach, idly tracing patterns in the grass with a finger.

Tommy rolled his eyes. "Can't you two just enjoy this?" he demanded, though he couldn't summon the will to bring any irritation to his voice in his current relaxed state.

"We are enjoying it." Zack informed him. "We're just enjoying knowing what it really is, even though it doesn't feel like it, right Billy?" He shot a grin at his old friend.

"Hmm?" Billy glanced up, coloring slightly at the knowing looks the other three gave him. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

"Thinking about Trini?" Jason smiled as he said it. He'd been waiting on them for far too long, in his opinion.

The blush deepened. "What would bring you to assume that?"

"Maybe the fact that you're blushing." Tommy said dryly, giving a faint grin of his own.

"And the fact that your technobabble always gets worse when Trini's around?" Zack put in.

There was no hiding the blush now. "The rest of you have currently found yourselves in romantic affairs within reasonable comparison to my own." he protested.

That got a chuckle out of Jason. "Yeah, but I've been waiting on you two since the day I *met* you."

Tommy looked up in interest. "That long? But you said you met the others when you were thirteen."

"Right after Amber and I moved to Angel Grove, when our parents died." he confirmed. Even now, the thought of his parents' death brought a flash of pain, but it paled in comparison to the nastalgia of meeting his best friends for the first time. "Three months into eighth grade, and I was the new kid. I figured I'd be a loner at least until high school." He grinned at the memory of the petite brunette who'd bounced up to him at lunch with a smile and a cupcake. "Then some girl came to offer me her dessert and asked if I'd mind joining her and her friends. She brought me over and introduced everybody. When Billy first said something about having me in one of his classes, I didn't have a clue what he'd said. Trini had to translate. He gave her this greatful look, and that's when I just knew they'd end up together someday." He eyed his friend. "You guys were starting to worry me for awhile, after the Peace Conference and Cestria, but it all worked out in the end."

Billy fidgeted, ducking his head from the other's gaze as he blushed again. "I'd been the most recent addition to the school the previous year, after leaving my former place of academics, and Trini was the first person I was able to formulate conversation with. It was only natural that I should develop affection for her out of that companionship. I was simply too reserved to express myself appropriately." he defended himself.

"Just like Tommy fell head-over-heels for Kim, because she was the first person to be nice to him besides Jason." Zack agreed. "Hey, it's cool, man. I've known Kim since preschool, and we met up with Trini in kindergarden. I knew they'd end up with someone because of how friendly they were. They didn't even go through the cooties stage; they were too nice for that. As long as they'd happy, I'm happy."

"You've known each other that long?" Tommy looked at the former Black Ranger with interest. "I figured it'd be Jason that made friends with everyone, since you're all so different. No offense."

Zack merely grinned. "None taken. Jase does seemed to be the one we'd all gather around, but that's not really how it happened. My Dad's an old buddy of Kim's dad, and they happened to meet up when they were taking us to preschool. They told us to play nice together, and she's been one of my best friends ever since. When we met Trini, Kim took one look at her sitting by herself in the corner, and marched straight up to introduce herself. It was the same way with Billy and Jason; Trini was just the first one to figure out what Billy was saying."

"So the whole team gathered around Kim." Tommy mused.

"Pahla did inform us that the color Pink is the heart of the team, according to Morphin philosophy." Billy pointed out. "In that aspect, coupled with Kimberly's buoyant personality, it's entirely likely that she would have begun the bonds of comaraderie that later strengthened through our duties as Power Rangers."

"So she's beautiful, smart, funny, cheerful, and friendly. She really is perfect." he sighed.

Jason choked back a laugh, but was drowned out by Billy's muffled chuckling and Zack's outright giggles. "Man, I never thought I'd miss hearing that!" Zack chortled.

"What?" Tommy demanded. "What's so funny?"

"Bro, Kim's only perfect in *your* eyes." Jason told him, trying unsucessfully to hide his smile.

"The three of us have known her for far too long to believe such an ideal." Billy agreed.

Tommy blushed. "Well, doesn't everyone feel that way about the person they love?"

"Not really." Zack told him, his chuckles finally dying down to a simple grin. "I love Aisha, but I *know* she's not perfect. She's kinda hot-headed sometimes, and she tends to throw herself into things head-first."

"Then what do you love about her, if she's not perfect to you?"

He considered. "I love the fact that she puts her heart into everything she does, and that she cares so much about her friends and family. She's kinda stubborn, but that's one of the things that's as loveable as it can be frustrating. When she finds something worth believing in, she won't let anyone talk her out of it. That's what attracted me to her from the start."

"What about you, Billy?" Jason asked curiously.

As usual, the Blue Ranger blushed at the mention of his girlfriend. "As I previously stated, it has to do with the fact that she was the first person to understand me. I appreciate the fact that she takes the time to do so. I find her natural beauty and eloquence attractive as well, but I believe her caring nature and generosity is what truly caught my attention."

"Ah hah!" Tommy gloated, pointing a finger at Billy. "You're saying you like her because she's perfect!"

Billy seemed amused. "Actually, Tommy, I know Trini isn't perfect. Her good intentions have a tendency to get her in over her head. She also has a habit of putting others before herself, which isn't always the safest practice."

He sighed, then swung around to look at Jason with a triumphant look that had the other biting back another smile. "Come on, Bro. Pahla pretty much *is* perfect. She knows more about the Power Rangers than the rest of us put together, she's an awesome fighter, she's always calm and in control, and she *always* knows exactly what to say."

Jason couldn't help it; he laughed, sitting up to look at an annoyed Tommy. "Bro, do you even *see* anyone's faults? Pahla's awesome alright, but she's not perfect. For one thing, she's actually got one heck of a temper. And when she gets mad, she forgets what language she's speaking. You have to interupt her in Icindrian to catch her attention, and I'm still learning a few basic words, so it gets a little annoying. She only knows a lot about the Rangers because her culture revolves around them. Then there's the fact that she's grown up having to be strong and responsible, even though she's only eighteen by Earth's standards, which makes her really serious most of the time. She didn't have a childhood like we did, so a lot of things don't make sense to her. She's willing to try when I ask her to do something, but a lot of times she keeps trying to understand the point." He shrugged. "But she lets me see the parts of her that aren't perfect. She's willing to let down her image so I can get to know the real person behind it. That's what makes me love her."

There was a moment of silence. "Thanks, guys." Tommy grumbled at last. "You really know how to make a person feel shallow."

Jason smiled at him, shaking his head. "You're not shallow, Tommy. The fact that you love Kim so much proves you're not. You love her enough to want to work things out and still be together even after you hurt each other. That's true love, bro. That's the kind of thing worth holding on to."

"That's what being Soul Bonded is all about." Zack agreed quietly.

"Zordon's gift." Billy mused softly.

"That's not his only gift." Tommy said suddenly. He smiled when the other three looked at him and gestured wide. "This. This ship, this adventure, all our friends...that's Zordon's gift."

"Something worth fighting for." Jason agreed solemnly. Silently, he held out a fist. His friends moved closer, putting their own fists against his. There was no declaration of friendship within a name this time; it didn't need to be said. It simply was.