Disclaimer: 'Power Rangers' (all incarnations) are copyright of BVE who are in some way related to Disney. No infringement is intended.
By Etcetera Kit
Chapter Thirty: Eternal Sunshine
-Nine Months Later-
Kelsey stared at the vacant storefront. It was the perfect location—in the middle of a shopping center mainly populated by kids who were extreme sports fans. All of these kids would want a comic book store handy to buy their comics and miscellaneous other needs that comic book stores seemed to cater to. It was also within walking distance of Blue Bay Harbor High—perfect for attracting the local kids. It was all round a great location.
She smiled to herself, imagining what would be here once she got done. It was funny how all of them, with the exception of Taylor, had ended up in Blue Bay Harbor. She had gotten a job at a local extreme sports store—Storm Chargers. Kelly, the owner and operator, had been looking for a business partner since all her teenaged hired help had quit. Kelsey had been only too happy to go into business with her. She had then moved herself to Blue Bay Harbor. Just recently the idea for the comic book store had wiggled its way into her mind.
Kira and Conner were staying in Blue Bay Harbor for the summer. Kira had gone to NYU for a semester, but was offered a demo contract in LA. In the fall, she would transfer to UCLA to pursue her music career closer to the people who wanted to sponsor her. It was an added bonus that Conner was still at UCLA on his soccer scholarship. Kira had gotten a gig for the summer at a local coffee house, while Conner was playing club soccer in Blue Bay Harbor.
Taylor was permanently in Silver Hills, which wasn't too far from Blue Bay Harbor. Her and Eric had gotten married close to Christmas. She was still a squad leader with the Silver Guardians. The family chaos between their families had exploded when both families found out that they hadn't been invited to the wedding. The only family member there had been Eric's older brother and a lot of old friends. So far, there were no plans to bring Zordon's prophecy of one of their children being like Dustin to light.
Maya had decided to remain on Earth after all that had happened. Mike was only too happy to return to his home planet. While they were living together, neither of them had broached the subject of marriage. Maya had gotten a job in Blue Bay Harbor working at a local animal shelter.
As for the others, most of them had faded into the sunset as they went back to their normal lives and routines. The only one of the other yellows that Kelsey tended to see on a regular basis was Z and her friend, Jack, because the pair of them hung out at Storm Chargers in their spare time. Tori and Blake had gotten together and she had had the baby only a few weeks ago. Still on maternity leave from the Guardians, the baby had been a boy named Waldo Eric Brooks. Eric had been named the baby's godfather, something that Taylor found extremely amusing.
She turned as a car parked in front of the store. It was a Silver Guardians SUV. Kelsey smiled to herself. Taylor had arrived. The blonde got out of the car, still in her uniform.
"This had better be good," she called as she approached Kelsey. "Because I'm wasting my lunch hour driving all over creation."
Kelsey gave her a bored look. "It's worth your time."
"Where're the others?"
"Coming." Taylor opened her mouth to say something, but Kelsey cut her off. "I'll explain everything once the others get here."
A yellow Volkswagon Beetle—new—pulled into the parking space next to the SUV. Maya and Kira got out of it. That was right… Maya still didn't drive and no one could convince her that it would be a good thing for her to learn.
"What's going on?" Kira asked as the four of them clustered around the vacant storefront.
"Welcome to the future home of Utility Belt Comics," Kelsey said.
"Utility Belt?" Taylor asked with a snicker.
Kira frowned. "This is going to be a comic book store?"
Kelsey nodded. "Dustin told me once that he'd like to own a comic book store." She shrugged. "I figure this can be our final tribute to him."
Maya smiled. "That's a great idea!"
"Why did you call us?" Taylor asked.
Again, Kelsey shrugged. "I figured that you guys would want to be in on it, since it is for Dustin and all."
"All right…" Taylor said slowly. "How much work are we talking here?"
"Well, we need to clean and furnish the interior. There are a lot of old shelves and tables in there that we could fix up—save money." She paused. "Plus we'd need to stock the place and figure that into bills and whatnot."
"And the tab?" Taylor continued.
Kelsey let out a long breath. "Not as much as you'd think."
She named a figure.
"Is that all?" Taylor asked. "We can get a bank to give us that much."
"So are you guys in?" Kelsey asked. "If we work through this month, we could open up by the middle of the summer."
"I'm in," Maya reassured her.
"I wouldn't miss something like this," Kira added.
Taylor rolled her eyes. "You guys need someone to keep you on track."
Kelsey smiled. "All right! Let's get some potential dates to get started!"
Taylor stuck her tongue in the corner of her mouth as she carefully painted black lines around the pencil drawings she had done for one of the walls. It had been Kira's idea to do a mural of comic book characters on one wall. However, Taylor had turned out to be the best with drawing and painting things like that. Right now, she was outlining Batman for the section that would feature the Justice League.
This was not her ideal way to spend a Saturday, but since Kelsey had gotten them all into this two weeks ago, it was hard to deny the enthusiasm about it. They had spent last weekend cleaning and deciding what kind of furniture they needed to order. This weekend, she was working on the wall, while Maya and Kelsey worked on painting the other walls in a neutral shade. Eric and Conner had been recruited to help move in the new furniture and neither one of them had been able to refrain from complaining. They were supposed to get here with the furniture and Kira was going to direct them on where to move it.
"Guys!" Kira was saying from somewhere outside. "Don't drop that!"
Taylor turned and watched Conner and Eric struggle to move a huge shelf-like thing into the store. Kira was obviously enjoying giving them orders. It was just as well, because she would have injured one or both of them already.
She turned back to her painting, concentrating on not ruining what she had just spent most of the morning drawing.
"Hey, I thought you guys might want some lunch."
Dropping the paintbrush into a pan on the floor, she turned once more to see Tori coming into the store in the wake of Conner and Eric, both of whom were slumped on the floor next to the shelf they had moved against one wall. She was holding a baby carrier in one hand and a few bags of take-out in the other. For someone who had had a baby not more than a month ago, she looked great.
"Food!" Conner breathed. He and Eric commandeered the bags of take-out and began rummaging through them.
"Leave some for us," Kira told them.
Taylor went over to Eric and Conner, fished a sandwich out of the bag and went over to the counter where Maya was playing with baby Waldo. "You look particularly happy," she commented as she took a big bite of her sandwich.
"Yeah," Tori replied a huge grin on her face. "Blake asked me to marry him!"
"That's great!" Kelsey called, obviously just having emerged from grabbing a sandwich from the two males present.
"I know!" Tori gushed. "I wanted to tell you guys first."
Maya looked up from the baby and studied Tori. "Listen, we're happy for you about Blake and all, but what did happen between you and Dustin."
Tori sighed. "It's complicated. Everything was so cobwebby from those times… I don't even know if I was thinking straight."
"Cobwebby?" Maya asked.
"Leverage," Kelsey muttered.
Taylor continued eating her sandwich, idly listening to the others began talking about wedding plans and whatnot. What happened made sense. Jareth could have found out about Tori and put her under a spell in order to ensure his leverage. She shook her head, glad that the demons were gone. Her own wedding had not been that exciting and it had purposely been that way. Neither her nor Eric wanted a lot of fuss, so there hadn't been any. They hadn't even told their families until after the fact.
"You drew this?"
She snapped to attention at Conner's question. He was standing in front of her drawings on the wall, looking awed.
"Yeah," she replied. "Don't mess it up!"
"You're good," he breathed. "Why don't you draw for a living?"
"It's a hobby," she replied.
"Some hobby," he muttered.
Soon, everyone in the room was standing in front of the wall, admiring the pencil drawings and the beginnings of the outlines. The wall had a long way to go before it was finished, but she thought it would look all right. She swelled with pride at the compliments of the others. She had always been good at copying figures from comic books—she had never been good at drawing her own figures.
"You guys should get some of those markers you can write on glass with," Conner was saying. "Then you could write funny stuff on the counter."
"Like what?" Kira replied, as if she were afraid of the answer.
"I don't know," he shrugged. "Captain America was here?"
They all laughed. If there was one thing, this store would not be boring.
Kira hefted a box of comics onto one of the tables in the proper order. Taylor had insisted that it would be easiest to alphabetize the comics and put them in boxes on a table. Kira had spent all morning putting the letter dividers into the boxes, now she was trying to get them in place. She really wished that Eric and Conner would have been there this weekend to do the lifting, but Eric had to work overtime on a case and Conner had a tournament.
Taylor was over at her wall, putting the finishing touches on her mural before she sealed it with some kind of clear semi-gloss spray-paint. Maya was going through pieces to different role-playing games and putting them in the proper drawers on the shelves. Kelsey was opening a box of new merchandise that had just arrived.
The door opened and Kira looked up as Z and two guys she hadn't met walked in, although she was willing to bet that the guys were other SPD Power Rangers.
"Hey, Z!" Kelsey called from the floor as she pulled Dungeons and Dragons books out of the box and began putting price tags on them.
"We came by to help," Z said as she looked around. "And I brought some boys to do all the heavy lifting."
"Hey!" the guys wearing a red t-shirt protested. He had dreads and looked around the store appraisingly. "I'm Jack," he added. "This is Bridge," he added pointing at the guy in a green t-shirt next to him.
"Hi!" Bridge said.
"You guys are just in time," Kira called motioning to the boxes of comics. "You can help me lift these onto the tables."
Jack nodded. "No sweat," he said nonchalantly.
An hour later, all the boxes had been moved and both Jack and Bridge were lying on the floor looking like someone had read their death sentence. "Too much work for you, boys?" Z asked in a teasing tone.
Jack took a half-hearted swipe at her.
Kira laughed and then glanced at Taylor who was shaking up a can of clear spray-paint. "I think we'd better go outside while Taylor sprays that stuff," she said.
Z glanced at Jack and Bridge. "They're all ready too far gone. A couple more brain cells won't make a difference."
"That's not nice," Jack proclaimed as everyone except for Taylor moved outside.
Kira looked out into the late afternoon sunshine. Blue Bay Harbor was quickly becoming her home. The town was somewhat smaller than Reefside, but it had all her closest friends. Home was where the heart was, that's what her mother always told her. Well, her heart was with Conner and her friends, so she was in Blue Bay Harbor.
Once the summer ended, she and Conner would be back in LA. Kelsey and Maya would be left running the comic book store with a little help from Taylor when she could come down from Silver Hills on the weekends. It was sad… leaving something that was so much a part of them. A warm breeze blew across the parking lot. She smiled, facing the breeze.
She shook her head at the sound of Kelsey's voice. "Yeah?"
"Are you all right? You spaced out for a minute."
"I was just thinking."
Kelsey nodded. Kira turned towards the group, playfully teasing one another. She thought to a song that was only half-done. Putting what had happened to them into a song had been her way to cope with what had happened. She couldn't professionally record the song until she corrected it and made it so that no one would realize she was talking about Power Rangers. Four out of the five of them operated under a secret identities front…
Her manager had asked her if she wanted to dedicate the album she was working on. She had. In memory of Dustin Brooks and for my friends, who share the legacy, Maya, Kelsey and Taylor.
She needed to finish that song… she felt it now. It needed to be done in time for the opening of the store.
The store was crowded and buzzing with life. Maya smiled. She had not expected such a good turn-out on their opening day. All four of them were here… and it would probably be the last time until next summer that that happened. Taylor was directing a few boys towards the comics they were looking for. Kelsey had disappeared into the backroom to get something. She and Kira were behind the counter.
"Sweet," Conner came through the front door and leaned on the counter. "I guess this is kind of cool for a geek store."
Kira gave him a withering look. He grinned. "Don't say that to Ethan," she said.
"Is he coming down from Berkley?"
"Uh-huh. He'll be here later today."
Maya smiled at their exchange and leaned on the counter. The place had turned out pretty decently—and there had been a stream of familiar faces all day. She watched as Mike came through the front door and paused. Waving to him, he smiled and came over to the counter.
"How's it going?" he asked.
She shrugged. "Judging from the turn-out, pretty good."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a wire. "I got a wire from the others." She didn't need to be told which 'others.' He meant the other Galaxy Rangers.
Taking the wire, she read it. 'Good luck! Hope everything goes well! We miss you guys bunches! Kendrix, Leo, Damon and Kai.'
"That was sweet of them."
Mike and Conner wandered off to explore the store. Taylor came over to the counter, the boys having found what they were looking for. Kelsey reappeared from the backroom.
"Think this will float?" Taylor asked.
Kelsey scanned the number of people packed in the store. "I think so," she replied.
Maya smiled. Kira reached under the counter and pulled a sheaf of papers out of her bag. She handed a page to each of them. "This is a song on my album," she said softly. The title was 'Patiently.' It was dedicated to Dustin. "It's a modified version of a song I had done some time ago," she added.
Looking back, I don't regret one single day. Memories will keep me close when you've gone away. It's harder than I could imagine. Guess I should have known that. Close my eyes and you're there, then I can't find you anywhere. Say goodbye, I'll be okay. I will wait for you 'cause, true love will never fade. When it's real you can feel it. And I know that you know that I will keep on waiting… patiently…
Blinking away tears, she smiled at Kira. "Dustin will always live," she whispered. "In our hearts."
Taylor nodded. "There are times I don't think he's gone. I can see so much of him in everyday life."
"We're here," Kelsey added. "We owe it to him to keep going."
The four of them fell silent around the counter. It had been their destiny… now, it was time for them to make their own destinies.
A lone figure in a yellow kimono looked into the water basin—the window from the spirit realm into the mortal realm. He raised a hand and pushed his chocolate brown curls away from his forehead. A smile tugged at the corner of his lips as he watched the activity going on in the comic book store. Four women in yellow were clustered around the front counter. Kira was smiling softly. Maya looked into the distance, lost in her own thoughts. Kelsey had her head propped on her hand. Taylor was silent and impassive, as always.
All he could do was watch. Spirits could not pass into the mortal realm unless called and the four of them would not call upon him again. But watching wasn't so bad… he could see them and sometimes whisper advice into their minds. For a long time, he had felt like he was on the outside, looking in. It felt literal now… but there was so much to do in this realm. Zordon had them keeping an eye on all the Power Rangers, former and present. It was their duty to protect their own kind and keep them from harm… as much as they could.
"What are you watching?"
He looked up as Trini stepped into the chamber. He stepped aside, so that she could view what he was seeing. She smiled.
"They love you, Dustin," she whispered. "They'll always love you."
"I miss them."
"They miss you." She paused, resting a hand on his shoulder. "Someday you will be reunited with them." There was silence for a moment. "And your son."
He was quiet. "I wish I could be with them. I wish I could see Waldo grow up."
"You can," she replied. "You can always be with them." Her voice grew quiet and distant. "Someday you'll be with them and nothing will be lost."
"They'll be on the Council of Light, too."
"Without a doubt."
He glanced back to the basin one last time. With a wave of his hand, he vanished the image so that it appeared as water once more. He did have all of eternity before him. What were a couple of decades to be separated when they would have all the time in the world together?Smiling, he and Trini left the chamber.
Author's Note: What can I say? This story spawned from a wild desire to see the dynamic between Maya, Kelsey, Taylor, Dustin and Kira played outnot to mention having an eventual Yellow Ranger team-up. I also picked Vypra and the demon-esque types because I've always thought Lightspeed Rescue had the coolest bad guys. They weren't all that organized and lacked unity (like most sets of bad guys), but they were demons and not evil space aliens, mutants or orgs (like all the others.) So this has been a wild ride from the beginning and, ironically, some things that happened later in the story were changed due to feedback. (I won't say what.)
I'd like to thank everyone who took a minute to review this story and offer their own comments and critiques: Aria Fox, BloomingViolets, Bri Dude, Broken Part of Me, CamFan4Ever, cmar, dustori, fenestrae, Funky In Fishnet, Hagar, jim hawking jr, Juzblue, KirCo4Ever, Lady Oliver, Leslie, Lucy E, MagCat, Manders1953, missy, Mrs. Coolio, Peter Smith, rembrandt, Rob, Samurai-Nashie, Sango, SapphireRayne, Satori Blackthorn, skimmboardergurl, Sreym, Stormchild, TF Princess, Thalia-Sandy, the peace pixie, Titanium Gold, Ultimuus, Warstock-Leonhart, Weesta and xXFattyonfireXx. If I missed you, you're welcome to come by my dorm room for s'mores. In many ways, you guys made this story happen!
Someone asked me (I don't remember who or when) if I had done a Red Ranger team-up. I have. Read 'Roaring On the Wind.' (It doesn't feature all of the reds, it covers MMPR through DT with the three exceptions being Rocky, Aurico and Shane, but their absence is explained.) As for doing team-ups with the other colors, someone give me a way for them to meet (or be summoned) and I'll consider it. The next project in the immediate future is slightly morbid, but those of you that are die-hard PR fans will probably find some perverse humor in it. Kaidence is involved with it, if that says anything... I also have a more eclectic team project in progress that has nothing to do with colors.
Thanks for reading, reviewing etc. and I shall see all of you around the site! -EK