Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or situations presented here and am not making any profit off of them whatsoever.
Story Title: Not Unexpected
Word Count: 1,992
Romance: *unrevealed here*
Notes: This is a rewrite of an old fanfic. Comments and criticism gratefully accepted.
Summary: A message of farewell has arrived, and the recipient can't believe his eyes.
He stared down at the message in his hands. It had to be some kind of mistake. There was no way this could be real. They'd been in the purest form of bliss he'd ever thought was possible between two people. Oh, sure, they were very different people, but still...bliss was bliss.
And now, she was with someone else. Someone he'd never met. Someone she'd never even hinted at. Of course he hadn't met everyone she knew. There was absolutely no way he could. There was just too much distance between their two worlds. But she could've said something sooner.
Not to mention that sending this kind of information in a letter wasn't something he'd really thought she'd ever do. They'd known each other nearly three years by now. He'd thought he'd known her enough; that they'd loved each other enough so this wouldn't be how it would end.
I guess I was wrong. He ran a hand over the paper once again. There was no doubt that this was from her. None of the enemies who'd known him well enough to know how close they had been were around anymore, so it couldn't be one of them. If there were any others who'd be inclined to do something like that, he didn't know about them. Those who were currently active had other amusements.
He brought the paper up to his face again, and breathed in deeply. His nostrils were filled with her particular scent, familiar from all the times they'd been together and the few other letters she'd sent him. Yes, this really was from her. Her own handwriting, beautiful as ever. Her stationary. He'd bought it for her on their first anniversary. She'd laughed at the very idea, what use did they have for messages, after all? He'd had to explain anniversaries, too. They'd only been dating, and it hadn't been as serious as he'd thought it would be when they'd first started, but she got the idea.
As silly as it might have been, it had come in handy a few times, as he'd thought. Everything about it sang of her. The pale color, just another hue of his own Ranger shade. The little decorations at the top, in memory of the creature to which she was closest.
I shouldn't be taking it this hard. He knew that, but there was nothing he could do about it. She'd been the first real relationship he'd ever had. He'd wanted others, but nothing had come of them. He'd tried others, but the girl had always went with someone else in the end. Until her.
It had been a long time since he'd last heard from her. He guessed that she'd met this other guy since then. He'd better not hurt her. Not that she couldn't take care of herself. He, of all people, knew she could. Wherever she was, no matter what, she could do that. But it didn't stop him from wondering.
Maybe he should get in touch with her. She was probably waiting for some kind of an answer, waiting to hear what he had to say about this new development. Maybe it wasn't even real. It could be some kind of a test. She hadn't been like that, but it had been so long since they'd really talked, and he could never be certain what kind of company she was keeping, so far away from him.
He was getting paranoid. No, strike that, he was paranoid. He had to put some kind of a stop to this. If that meant talking to her, then that's what he would do. She didn't have a phone where she was, but that didn't mean he didn't have a way to talk to her. There were ways they'd found that were a lot more reliable than cell phones.
This particular method was a silvery pearl seated in a shell about the size of his hand. It had been her gift to him on that same anniversary. She had another one with her, and it was how they'd usually communicated ever since. That was one reason she said I didn't have to get her that stationary. There was no way he'd been able to know she was getting him that, of course.
He settled down into his chair, the pearl and shell in one hand, and stared into it. He felt a lot like one of those sorceresses that were shown on some anime shows, gazing into their crystal balls and cackling madly. I've got the mad part down pretty well. He wasn't sure if he meant angry or insane when he thought 'mad', and he really didn't think it mattered. Either one was fitting at the moment.
All he had to do was hold it and stare at it. He'd done it enough times, and always she'd appeared, smiling back at him with all the warmth of the warmest ocean day. Never before had she taken more than a few seconds to respond, but now...now time seemed to stretch on and on before the pearl finally flickered and her image was there.
"I've been expecting you." That was all she said, sorrow in those lovely eyes of hers. Sorrow, but not a shred of regret. "I knew you'd want to talk."
"We can meet somewhere if you want to do this in person." He knew that he did. It wouldn't be quite the same otherwise. He had a feeling this was about as close to in person as they were going to get, though.
He was right. She shook her head quite firmly. "I don't think that's a very good idea. I know how you feel about me. I feel the same way about you."
"That's why you called us friends, right?" Anger surged all through him, as it hadn't in years. How could this be happening? It had happened to other people, other Rangers, but it couldn't happen to him, could it? Couldn't at least some of them have some kind of happy ever after? The fact one of his companions was celebrating his own two-year wedding anniversary wasn't lost on him. He just didn't feel like thinking about it right now.
"That's all we can be. You know that, and you know why. You couldn't have expected this to last." There was pain in her voice, and he fought the instincts that flared up, wanting to get rid of it. Because he knew she was right, much as it hurt him. They couldn't have been together forever. In the end, they were just too different. Two different worlds didn't even begin to cover it.
He sighed, staring past the pearl to the floor below. This was turning into one of the worst days of his life. He didn't really want to wonder if it could get worse. He wasn't all that superstitious, but after everything else he'd seen in the last few years, he wasn't going to put anything under the list of 'just can't happen'.
"You're right. That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt like a bitch, but you're right." He clenched his fists lightly, then released them, a rueful smile touching his lips. "I guess I should have figured this out a while ago. I mean, you're who you are, and I'm ..not."
She smiled a touch weakly back at him. "I really thought it could work, when we first met. But we just can't be together. I have my duties to my people. He can help me there."
He finished what she didn't. "And I can't."
"I know. They'd never allow it, for one thing. The line has to be kept pure. No taint of human." He might've taken offense at that, if she hadn't said it with such distaste he knew she hated it as much as he did. Not everyone felt that way, though. If they did, then they probably wouldn't have been having that discussion in the first place. Or they might have been. He'd never know, and it didn't matter at all.
"We really still can be friends, can't we?" He didn't want to lose that. She represented more than he had words to describe. It wasn't everything that made him what he was, but it certainly helped. Being with her, in her home, had made him feel so complete. More than what he'd been before her. What it was going to be after remained to be seen.
She nodded briskly, her long hair floating about her as she did so. "Of course. I meant it when I said that." Her voice softened slightly. "Chad, if I were anyone else but who I am, I'd find a way to be with you, no matter what it cost me. I do love you."
He wanted to say that he loved her back. He certainly did. But the words froze on his lips. All he could say was, "I know. We've been over this before. You have to marry a merman." He laughed a little, but there wasn't a trace of humor in it. "I'm not even certain if we could have children. Ms. Fairweather...Angela..." He still had no idea what to call her now that she and Joel were married. "Well, she's not exactly the best at this kind of thing, and no one else has been able to figure it out. Merpeople are just...different. Even from Aquitians."
Marina nodded; she'd heard of those water-dwelling people from some other Rangers Chad had introduced her to. One of them had even married a human from Earth, an ex-Blue Ranger like Chad himself. That had given them both some kind of hope, for a while. But now, that was gone.
"I'll call you some other time. I have some things to get ready. The wedding is going to be in a few days." There was definite distaste there. Chad knew very little about the merfolks' traditions, but he knew Marina, and she wasn't thrilled about it happening so fast. He also knew he wasn't going to go, even if he could have.
"Be happy, Marina," he whispered the words before putting the shell and pearl back where they belonged as her image faded away. He sat back down and closed his eyes, trembling. I should've known better to fall in love with a mermaid princess. Should have. But hadn't.
He'd loved the sea and everything in it for as long as he could remember. His very first memories had been of swimming, diving, and playing in the comforting depths of it. Never once had he lived more than a twenty-minute drive from some source of water. He'd even picked his college based on how close it was to the element. It had only been inevitable that the first person who would ever own his heart would be from the sea. Meeting Billy Cranston and Cestria had given him more than hope that everything was going to work out with him and Marina. They had, after all.
It had been inevitable that this would happen in the long run. If he really wanted to be metaphysical, the sea was both lover and murderer. He knew all about how many people could and did die in water accidents over the course of any given time. But many were saved from it as well. He sighed. It was inevitable that this would happen.
He turned to the window, seeing the crashing waves a short distance away, and made a decision. A few moments of walking brought him to the shore, and there he stayed as the light began to fade, and the stars began to twinkle overhead.
Chad had no idea when they began to arrive, but soon enough the others were there. Carter, Joel, Dana, Kelsey, Ryan. They didn't say anything, but there was no need. There was something between the six of them that was also inevitable, and it was nothing that the waters could ever take away.
Author's Note: If you remember an old fic of mine called Shattered Soul and Broken Heart, this is the rewritten version of it. I decided to update it a little bit. Originally, it was set before Lightspeed Rescue, but I decided this worked out better, after everything with Marina. After all, she is a princess and has to produce a little heir one day, and we really don't know if merfolk and humans are compatible to produce offspring. I'd thought about putting a little Chad/Dana or Chad/Kelsey at the end, but I decided to go with just a touch of group friendship instead. But this is one of many rewrites down, and so many more to go.