Disclaimer: 'Power Rangers' (all incarnations) are property of 'Saban', who are in some strange way related to Disney, who run the show on ABC. No infringement is intended.
ROARING ON THE WIND
By Etcetera Kit
Chapter Twenty-Eight: All the Battles Are Won
-One Year Later-
Tommy sat in the narthex of the local church with Billy, awaiting the arrival of everyone who had been invited to the wedding. Billy and Kim's wedding could have been a joint wedding with some of the others—the wedding invitations were going around like wildfire—but the others had purposely planned their weddings for later, since they knew the situation between Billy and Kim. Kim was six months pregnant and they would have married sooner but they wanted everyone to be able to make it, so the wedding got pushed back later and later.
"There he is! The mad genius that is spawning more mad geniuses!"
Jason threw open the doors to the narthex, making his entrance especially grand. Kim and Billy had told everyone that this was going to be a ranger wedding—and everyone should wear their colors. Jason had complied with that request by wearing a conventional black suit with a bright red Hawaiian shirt underneath. He also had a Santa tie to go with it.
"Think I'm wearing enough red?" he asked, approaching them.
Tommy and Billy exchanged glances and burst into laughter. He certainly was wearing a lot of red. "I think so," Tommy replied. He had managed to get a decent black suit with a white vest and collarless shirt, an ode to his days in white.
"Well," Jason said. "You're the ones who insisted I wear red. You do realize that I burned most of my red clothing when I stopped being an active ranger?"
"As did we all," Tommy replied.
"I had a lot of blue polo shirts that Chris stole," Billy added, referring to Tommy's roommate from undergraduate school. Billy had managed his two colors by wearing a forest green vest and matching tie with blue cufflinks.
"I have just one thing to say to you, William Cranston," Jason said with a false menacing glare. "Birth control…" he drew out the last syllable.
"That's two things," Tommy told him.
"Whoops," Billy replied with a shrug.
Jason laughed and pulled up a folding chair next to them. "So who all are we waiting for?" he asked. "Besides all the rest of the distress signal reds and their significant others and children?"
"Kira, Trent, Ethan, Adam, Hayley…" Tommy ticked off the list.
"So you're the best man, who's the bridesmaid?"
"Kira," Billy replied.
Just as if it were a stroke of fate, Kira pushed open the doors to the narthex, already wearing her pale yellow bridesmaid's dress. Her hair had obviously been done at a local hairdresser's because it was piled on her head in soft curls and studded with small, silk yellow flowers. "Hey guys," she said shortly. "Where's Kim?"
"Down the hall in the library," Tommy said, pointing.
"Cool," she replied. "Conner is finding a place to park his car and him and Ethan and Trent should be in here in a moment." She headed off down the hallway. The next group to enter had to have arrived the same time as the kids. Cole and Alyssa walked in followed by Eric and Taylor and the three Dino Thunder male teens. Cole did not look comfortable in his suit and red tie, as he kept tugging at it and Alyssa kept swatting his hand away. Alyssa on the other hand, looked perfectly comfortable in her white dress. Eric was wearing a navy blue suit with a pin-striped tie (the pin strips were red) while Taylor was in a pale yellow blouse and black skirt. Tommy had to admit, it was strange seeing all of these people dressed up. Ironically enough, Cole and Alyssa were the next wedding with Eric and Taylor following them. (Merrick had e-mailed after the latter announcement and said he gave them six months before a divorce.)
"Hi, Doctor O!" Conner said cheerily. Tommy noticed that his mother had obviously forced him into a suit, but Conner had rebelled and worn sneakers.
"Ditto," Ethan added. "We need to get this show on the road. I'm ready to party!"
"I think the ceremony's a little more important than the reception," Trent reminded them as he turned to Tommy. "My dad will be here later. He's got some business to take care of."
Conner and Ethan exchanged glances that clearly said, 'what could be more important than a party?'
"No underage drinking," Billy told them.
"Oh come on, Dr. Cranston," Conner wheedled. "Just one?"
"No!" Billy said with more emphasis. "You're driving after all."
Conner paused and thought. "Good point."
"Go in there and do something useful!" Billy said, pointing to the sanctuary.
"Like what?" Conner asked.
"I don't know. Just go in there!"
Conner signed dramatically. "All right." He and Ethan and Trent walked into the sanctuary where they could be heard talking loudly about God knows what.
Tommy smiled. Everyone had changed so much in the year since they had defeated Mesogog. Conner, Ethan, Kira and Trent were starting their senior year at Reefside High School and, in the spring, they would graduate. All four of them were starting to settle down and think about what they wanted to do. Conner had received a full ride to UCLA on a soccer scholarship, assuming that he kept his GPA up during his senior year. That seemed to have gotten him in gear, because Ethan and Kira reported seeing him study more than ever. Ethan had gotten a full ride to MIT where he wanted to major in computer science. (Which, as Conner put it, was a big surprise.) Kira had found a small college in New Mexico where she could major in contemporary music and was awaiting a response from them. Trent, much to the chagrin of his father who eventually understood, was taking a year off after graduation to work at full-time for Hayley and then he might think about art college.
The kids were growing up and no one knew how it happened. Mary Anne, due to the fact that she had skipped a grade somewhere long the line, was a junior in high school even though she was only fifteen. Susie was now in fourth grade. The sisters seemed to have adjusted well to the fact that they were getting a stepmother and new little sister. (And they never referred to their unborn sister as their half-sister. She was their sister.) And Billy would truly go to living in the estrogen ocean (which had been bad enough before, but was now doubling.)
Kendrix had found out that her baby was a girl, not because she wanted to, but because of the ultrasounds she had had during her pregnancy to make sure that Mesogog had not done anything to her or the baby. Three months ago, she had given birth to a healthy little girl. Leo appeared to have adjusted really well to being a father, naming Carter the girl's godfather. They had ended up naming the baby Merry, because the girl, when she was born, instead of crying, had giggled.
Andros and Ashley went back to Angel Grove and were reunited with their firstborn who was thrilled about his new little sister. Cole's nicknaming the baby 'Kaye' had stuck and now, the year-old girl was referred to by that. It suited the couple just fine because she wouldn't get confused with her aunt now. The rumor among the ranks was that they wanted more children and no one had a definite number on where they planned to stop. For some reason, Tommy would never have imagined Andros with a large family, but it was happening.
Carter had recovered and gone home to Mariner Bay a few weeks later. Dana, by virtue of the fact that she was a doctor, had inspected and looked over his recovery in case the other doctors made a mistake. Cory was now four and had started preschool and Heather was two and a half. Their parents were back to their normal jobs as a firefighter and pediatrician. The only noticeable scar on Carter was the slight limp that he now had.
Adam, Jason and TJ had gone back to their normal lives in Angel Grove and Galveston respectively. (Jason still crushed beer cans on his forehead.) Eric and Cole had both gone home, but romances had blossomed for both of them. Apparently, Taylor, who was in the Air Force, had managed to get stationed at Silver Hills to be closer to Eric and they had decided to get married shortly after. (And Merrick found that laughable—which Tommy couldn't blame him on a certain level.) Cole had gone back to Turtle Cove and back to college to become a veterinarian. Alyssa was a kindergarten teacher and, shortly before Eric and Taylor, had announced that they were getting married in the winter.
He and Billy had resolved the teaching issue. He had taken over for the science classes once more and Billy had stayed on the staff to replace a math teacher who wanted to retire. The new principal turned out to be infinitely better than Principal Randall. Hayley was still running her cybercafé and Merrick was still working at that bar in Turtle Cove, after he had returned the Wild Zords to Princess Shayla.
All in all, life was back to normal for all of them… except Wes. No one had heard from him in the year since Jen had gone into a coma. According to Eric, he was drowning in his depression and his father had to make him go to work every day, but his heart just wasn't in it. It was like the man was wandering through the world, looking for a lost piece of himself and he hadn't found it. Even still, Wes had promised to be present at the wedding.
"It's our bartender!"
Tommy snapped out of his reverie as Merrick came into the narthex, wearing black slacks and a dusty blue dress shirt. Merrick gave Eric (who could be credited with the outburst) a small bow. Kim and Billy, rather than hire a bartender, had asked Merrick if he would do the honors. He had agreed.
"Hello to all of you," Merrick said wryly.
"Come on people!" Kira called to the crowd in the narthex. "Let's get this show on the road!"
Tommy nodded as the crowd dispersed. He remembered when he was young and he had imagined his and Kim's wedding. If one had told him then that Kim was going to marry Billy, he would have laughed. But it was right and everyone knew it.
Andros sat with his arm around Ashley as all the kids ran wild on the dance floor. Or more, all the kids that could walk ran wild on the dance floor. The reception was going pretty well for the relatively small number of people who came. Merrick was manning the bar and apparently doing a fairly good job, because Conner had said that Jason and Tommy were going to get Billy wasted by the end of evening. It appeared to be working, because Kimberly found Billy's state pretty amusing. (Mary Anne and Susie had ducked out of the reception early along with Billy's father because the three of them were leaving for a weekend camping trip in the morning.)
"I always thought it'd be frightening if that bunch got drunk together," Ashley whispered as she snuggled closer to him.
"Here's the proof," Andros replied, stealing a kiss from her. His kids happened to be present, but why Kim and Billy wanted all these kids at their wedding was beyond him. He smiled as Kim's mother rounded up all the remaining kids—Brian, Kaye, Cory and Heather—and shooed them out towards a playroom set up elsewhere in the building. Merry was so little that she had been with her parents, until Mrs. Dumas offered to take her for a while. That was probably so Leo could join the others in getting completely smashed. The man didn't appear like he could, in good conscious, get drunk while his wife and daughter were present.
Andros found it slightly amusing how Billy and Kim's parents took all of this in stride, helping with the kids and whatnot. He remembered back to when he and Ashley got back to Angel Grove and announced that they were getting married. Ashley's parents had been downright hostile to him until someone truly impressed on them that he was from KO 35 and not being dumb on purpose. Her parents had gotten even weirder when it came to light that he was taking her last name, since he didn't have one. They finally settled down once they had been married a while and Brian was born.
"Andros!" someone yelled from the bar. "You need to get over here!"
"What are they doing?" he whispered to Ashley.
"I don't know," she replied, pressing a kiss to his ear. "But you'd better get down there before they drag you down there. Besides, one shot won't kill you."
He begged to differ with her. His experience on Earth with hard liquor had not been positive. He was all right with beer, but anything harder… It wasn't pretty. But he planted a lingering kiss on her lips anyways and headed towards the bar. The only person there who wasn't completely drunk was Merrick. He grinned and handed Andros one of the shots of Schnapps that they were drinking. "It doesn't taste like alcohol," Merrick said in an undertone.
Andros rolled his eyes and glanced around at the people at the bar. It was all ten of the former red rangers with Billy. He looked around and realized that Cole and Conner were not drunk either, they were just caught up in the spirit of the party. Wes didn't look drunk either, but that could just be because he held his liquor well.
"All right people," Jason said, slurring his words together ever so slightly. "Everyone give the groom a piece of advice and then we drink!"
There was a rousing agreement to that. Jason started the advice. "Don't go to bed angry at each other," he said, sounding rather serious despite his inebriated state.
"Some of the best blessings are unanswered prayers," Tommy continued. Andros knew where that came from and smiled slightly.
"Dreams can come true, if you're willing to work hard enough," TJ added.
Andros thought for a moment, realizing it was his turn. "Kids are your biggest blessing and your worst curse."
"Every moment you spend dwelling on the past is a moment you take away from the future," Leo intoned.
"Think with your head. Feel with your heart," Carter said.
"There is a fine line between coincidence and fate," Wes added to the line, looking like he wanted to believe it, but couldn't quite pull it off.
"Work as hard as you play," Eric said boisterously.
"Follow your heart and end with a song!" Cole proclaimed.
"Live noble dreams, now and always," Conner ended the round of 'advice.'
Jason made an incoherent noise and raised his glass. The others followed suit and they all threw back the shots. Andros winced at first, but then realized that the thing tasted like watermelon. Hmmm… this might be the way to get smashed. He took the glass that was offered to him as Merrick poured them another round.
Cole snuggled close to Alyssa in their hotel room some hours later. He had not had nearly as much to drink as the others, but what he had had was enough to put him in a warm, fuzzy state and that made him generally happy and content. The amusing thing was that after Tommy and Jason succeeded in their goal of getting Billy wasted, they changed their target to Andros and achieved it through a bottle of watermelon Schnapps. Ashley had actually been laughing, finding it really funny to see Andros properly drunk for once in his life.
"Hmmm…" he murmured into her hair. "That was fun."
She laughed and gently leaned back so she could smooth his hair back. "You're drunk," she said gently. "But you get to do this again at Christmas and again on Valentine's Day."
"Yeah," he replied. "The only difference is they'll be targeting me at Christmas."
He thought briefly to the fact that Eric and Taylor had planned their wedding for Valentine's Day. It struck him as odd since neither one of them was particularly romantic in any way, shape or form. Why pick the most romantic day of the year to have their wedding? Perhaps Merrick's prediction would prove right. Maybe those two would be divorced within six months. Then again, Cole could see them as the types who would keep getting divorced and remarried. That would be amusing.
"So," Alyssa said, propping herself up on one elbow. "Are we going to have kids or are we just going to have lots of animals?"
"Eh?" he asked. "Kids," he said definitely.
She laughed. "And you're not going to bring in homeless renegade animals just because you feel sorry for them?"
"I never said that," he replied. "Besides, I've had experience with kids."
Alyssa laughed as he brought up his intensive with Kaye. That little girl had grown attached to him as had most of the children of the rangers. He had yet to puzzle that out. Maybe it was because he had no problem playing little kid games with them like 'Candy Land' and 'Chutes and Ladders.' Hell, he enjoyed those kind of games. They were easy and fun and there was no way to figure out who would win or no strategy to win.
"So what do you want to name our kids?" she asked, planting a kiss on his cheek.
He thought for a moment, slightly distracted by the other things that that kiss suggested other than talking about baby names. "Alexander," he said finally.
She laughed again. "Now I know you're drunk. You'd never suggest such a stuffy name for a baby if you were sober."
He just gave her a lopsided grin and pulled her close. He remembered how a year ago they had been so close to breaking up and he had been prepared to let her go, not wanting her to remain in a relationship she didn't want to. Maybe that random phone call he felt compelled to do had been the turning point in their relationship.
"Wait! I know what we can name the kid!" he exclaimed.
"Hmmm…?" Alyssa asked, planting kisses down his ear to his neck.
He tried to ignore her distracting kisses. "Wesley," he said. "And if it's a girl, we can name it Jennifer."
Alyssa looked up at him. "I like it," she said.
He laughed and tackled her underneath him. The future seemed bright and there was nothing in the entire world that was going to change that.
Wes walked into the mansion late that night. Rather than stay in Reefside for a few days, he had flown out that morning and left that evening. He didn't really want to be around all of them. Their lives were perfect, going just the way all of them wanted. His wasn't. He didn't know how to get out of the pit he had dug himself into. He had even been avoiding Eric, since he and Taylor had officially defined their relationship. He was happy for them, but he felt like he couldn't partake in that happiness. It had been a year…
He walked upstairs and dropped his bags in his old room. The room had hardly changed at all, still housing trophies from high school track events. In a way, it was a bit depressing, but reassuring all at once.
"You're home already?"
He turned to see his father standing in the doorway to his room. He was wearing a bathrobe and slippers. Nodding, his father's face turned to concerned.
"I hadn't expected you until tomorrow at least." He crossed the room and laid his hands on his son's shoulders. "I'm worried about you. You used to do things with your friends, but now you've turned into a recluse."
Wes knew that his father meant well, but shrugged his hands away anyways. "My fiancée is lying not ten feet from this room in a coma!" he yelled. He hadn't meant to yell, but did anyways. "Of course I've changed!"
His father nodded and left the room, looking sad. Wes turned his back on the door and slammed his fist into his mattress. He hated what his life had become, what he had become. He just wanted Jen to wake up and everything would be perfect. Sinking to his knees by his bed, he furiously wiped at forming tears. No… he had shed too many tears in the past year. There was nothing left to cry about.
Resolve steeled, he got up and walked into the next room—Jen's room. She was still as always. A physical therapist came in several times a week to massage her muscles so they wouldn't atrophy, but she still had the look of the living dead. He crossed the room and knelt beside her bed, gently taking her hand.
"I'm back, Jen," he said softly. "I told you I wouldn't leave for long." He paused. "It was Kim and Billy's wedding. You would have enjoyed it."
He stopped himself. She couldn't hear him. He stood up and placed a kiss on her pale forehead. "Good night, Jen," he said softly. He turned and crossed the room once more, pausing at the door. He turned back. Her eyelids were fluttering. He sighed. How many times in the early days had he assumed that she would wake up? It was just a reflex. He turned around.
He turned back once more. And what he saw made his heart soar all the way to the clouds and back again.
The green-haired young man scanned through the files on the Time Force database. They had to keep detailed history records, some of which existed in another dimension so that they had proof when the timeline was shifting. With people jumping all over time, it was difficult to tell what was meant to be and what people changed. He started a file search.
"Computer," he said in a soft voice. "Look up Jennifer Elizabeth Scotts and also look under the name Jennifer Elizabeth Collins. Nickname Jen."
The computer hummed softly as it brought up the various files that it had been asked to. The young man studied them closely, smiling at what he saw. She hadn't changed the timeline at all. In fact, she was supposed to go back to the year 2004 illicitly. If she hadn't, then most of Bio-Lab and the Silver Guardians would have discontinued with Alan Collins' death. Once she had gone back and married Wes, he took an interest once more in the company, apart from the Silver Guardians. Their daughter, one Faith Collins, would take over from her father and turn the company into what would eventually become Time Force.
It wasn't a crime. It was destiny.
The young man turned to see Captain Logan coming into the room. "Yes sir. She was supposed to go back to the year 2004."
"Interesting. I guess I won't be sending you, Kendall and Walker back to get her."
"Guess not, sir."
"Good work, Regis. Let's just wish her luck." He left the room.Trip looked back to the computer. He knew that Jen would make it and do what was needed in order for the future to remain the same. The fine line between coincidence and fate had not been crossed. It was her destiny.
Author's Note: This had been a wild ride from the beginning! I guess this is kind of like the end credits so to speak. First and foremost, I would like to give credit where credit is due. Special thanks to Andrew who helped come up with the idea for the new Dino-Gems, the people to get the new gems, the Dragon-Zord and all that jazz. The original idea for this story was completely different from what it ended up as. Go figure! But thanks Andrew-- he gets a royalty check. As I hand him a piece of Bazooka bubblegum...
Next, thanks to everyone who has reviewed this story, especially those of you who have volunteered information and advice about the characters and incarnations I am not as familiar with. This list includes: takes a deep breath BrandonB, bric, Cantoris, , Cat Yuy, Charles RocketBoy, cmar, darkchylde, Eaglesong, Ehani, Ethan Seale, Felicia Angel, Feline-Feral, fen, Funky In Fishnet, Ghostwriter, Giannola, Gina, hartfelt, Helvetebrann, Jason Barnett, jenny, Jig, jim hawking jr, Jonathan Lee, kakwat, Katalia, KimberFlames, Lelen, Manders1953, Mari, Merry, , Ms Birdman, PhantomZeo, Philip, Pinkie, Plumed Serpent, PRTFLO, Ranger Fan, Ranger Lover, rembrandt, Reno Sands, rouge195, Ryan T. Morris, Satori Blackthorn, sayinjinj7, Sean, SilverRider, silver-sugar, Silver Warrior, StarBurst (Jepoliant), Starlight63, StarryEyed, Super ZEO Silver, the-power-of-love, Titanium Gold, Warstock-Leonhart, white time ranger, William Raymer and Zeo Star 5. If I missed you, feel free to e-mail me and berate me for negligence. (And yes, even the anonymous charmer who flamed the very first chapter gets some thanks! I had some tasty s'mores after that.)
Special thanks to ABC Family for running that lovely 'Strength In Numbers' marathon when I was in the middle of writing this. They must have got my telepathic message that I needed to see Time Force/Wild Force episodes.
All the research that went into this fic can be attributed to Rovang's Guide to the Power Rangers' Universe (thanks to cmar for tuning me into that one) and TV Tome (where I read endless episode summaries trying to get a feel for characters.)
I've got a couple different projects in mind for upcoming PR fics-- some include more of the red ranger gang that everyone got to know so well during this story and some branch off in other directions. I also recently had a revelation about Ninja Storm. I don't like that particular incarnation of Power Rangers at all and for a long time I wondered why (since other incarnations really were worse.) With that said, I have had to force myself to develop an appreciation for it, much in the way I had to make myself develop an appreciation for Lightspeed Rescue. So any future fics will also include the NS rangers to the best of my ability.
So cheers, happy writing and I shall see all of you around the site! --EK