Rated PG: some language, mild violence.

Alex/Wes, Jen, Trip, Lucas, Katie and all other characters from Power Rangers belong to Disney/Saban. Methos and Duncan belong to Davis/Panzer Productions. I am using them without permission, however I have not and don't expect to make money from this.

Reviews are always appreciated.

Another story over... as always, many thanks to all who read and even more to all who reviewed, I do value the feedback. Special thanks to my wonderful RL betas, Cecilia and Jenny (who turned out to be a Highlander fan) and to my equally wonderful and very talented online beta, MzDany (who's also a bit of an HL fan). A big additional thanks goes to Rach aka The Fink and Dagmar Buse for significant contributions and suggestions.

The Price

Beginnings

- - -

Alex Drake's Journal, May 22, 3001

It's been two weeks now since our return from 1996, and life has returned to normal, at least on the surface. Strange to be back to my regular routine of office work again, after wearing the Ranger suit, however briefly. Maybe that means it's time for a change, maybe a more active assignment, away from Headquarters. I don't want to leave Time Force, but - things are different now. Logan and I can never look at each other quite the same way again, for one thing.

Speaking of changes, Methos has apologized for telling the others about me. It was easy to forgive him; somehow I'm not angry. Most of what I feel is relief. Jen, Lucas, Katie, and Trip won't betray my secret, but a big part of me seems to be tired of hiding. I haven't exactly made an announcement, but I've decided to go back to my natural, blond hair, and have even started finding myself acting more like Wes again. The people I really care about already know, after all. Maybe it would be a good thing for us Immortals to start letting the world know what we are, and let them deal with it.

Duncan and I were in court last week as character witnesses at Methos' hearing, when he was brought up on charges of attempted alteration of history, plus theft of a timeship. I think we made a good case that he was acting under stress, and intended no harm. Maybe also the judges decided that prison time wouldn't be very meaningful to a man who has lived six thousand years and might live another six thousand. In any case, they released him yesterday on probation. Maybe they had another reason too, since he was also 'sentenced' to spend the next few years working with the Time Force historical department, giving them the benefit of his first-hand knowledge.

Speaking of Duncan, he introduced me to another Immortal. Amanda. Some kind of old girlfriend, I think. I'm starting to get a whole circle of Immortal friends, and for the first time it's a good feeling to be around my own kind, a safe feeling. Duncan and Methos told me that most of the more vicious Immortals end up killing each other off. Now it's mostly the ones who haven't gone looking for heads, who have stayed out of the Game as best they could, who are survivors. Like them. And me. Maybe it's true that the best way to win is not to play.

As for the others, my teammates... Lucas, Katie, and Trip have gone back to their jobs. So has Jen. I don't see much of them, just like before. I guess that's what I should have expected, although - I had kind of hoped for more...

- - -

The soft, almost hesitant sound of a knock on his partially opened door prompted Alex to look up. His first thought when he saw them was one of alarm - what were they doing here? Had something happened? Or was something going to happen - judging by the startled expressions on the faces of his four former teammates.

It was Katie who blurted it out. "What'd you do to your hair?" she demanded loudly.

He raised a self-conscious hand to his head. "Oh... I removed the dye. Thought I'd let it go back to my natural color now that... there doesn't seem to be much point in a disguise anymore."

"Man, that's weird." Lucas was staring.

"Weird? Why, has it turned green or something? Sorry, Trip."

"It's okay." Trip grinned. "Lucas means it's like seeing Wes sitting in Alex's office. Which is kinda what it is. Weird."

"Don't answer for me. Geez."

"Sorry," Trip said to Lucas, not sounding sorry at all, before continuing. "I kinda like it."

"Thanks. Who knows, maybe people will think I'm going gray."

He thought he saw Jen smile just a little at that, before she spoke for the first time. "It's going to take some getting used to."

"Well, we can get used to it over dinner," Katie declared. "Um... that's why we came by, Alex, to find out if you're free tonight."

"Yeah, thought we'd take you out," Lucas said.

"I know a place that has pizza," Trip said eagerly, "almost like we had in 2001. It'll be like old times."

Alex blinked at them, and covered his emotion with a smile. "That sounds great. Really great."

- - -

"Hey! Hey, old man!"

Methos turned at the shout, and grinned at the slim, dark-haired, seemingly young woman who dashed recklessly across the street, Duncan MacLeod following on her heels, and threw herself into his arms.

"Who are you calling old?" he demanded as soon she let go.

"You, of course. So how the hell are you? You look terrible!"

"Hmm. Very nice to see you, too, Amanda. And I imagine Mac has told you all about how I've been."

"Yes." Her smile became sympathetic as she tucked her arm under his. "I'm sorry, Methos. I wish things could have turned out differently for you."

"Thanks. When did you get into town?"

"She blew in a few days ago," Duncan answered. "After I hadn't seen her in... how long has it been?"

Amanda shrugged. "Ten years? Twenty? Who keeps track of such things?"

Duncan raised a brow. "No call, no warning. As usual."

"Right," Methos murmured. "Hurricane Amanda."

"That's right," she said with an unrepentant smirk. "I'm here, and it's my job to put some fun in your dreary lives. Starting now. Drinks, maybe a movie. Or... how about a quick trip somewhere? Rome? Hong Kong?" She tugged on his arm enthusiastically. "It'll be just like old times!"

"Sorry, but I have an appointment," Methos said.

"Cancel it!"

"Can't. Didn't Mac tell you I have to do community service?"

"Yes, I did. She paid about as much attention as she usually does."

"I'm reviewing historical records for Time Force. They figure I'm an expert."

"Oh dear." Amanda laughed. "Sounds absolutely fascinating."

"It's not so bad. Better than my security guard job. In fact I'm almost enjoying it." Methos took Amanda's hand, squeezed her fingers gently, and transferred her to Duncan's arm, watching them smile at each other. "You two go on. I'm sure you have more catching up to do, and you don't need me around."

"But Methos, I haven't seen you in ages..." she pouted.

"There's plenty of time."

"Dinner, then?"

"Sounds good to me."

"How about Alex? Maybe he'd like to come too," Duncan said.

"Figures you'd hit it off so well with him," Methos said with a smile. "You finally found another Immortal who's as much of an incurable do-gooder as you are. Anyway, I happen to know Alex is busy tonight." He glanced down at his watch. "I really must be going. And, Amanda... Thank you for being here."

Again that warmth was in her eyes, as she nodded before grinning impudently again. "Anytime, old man."

For a moment he stood and watched them walk away together, arm in arm, heads leaning close. Envy touched him. To have an Immortal lover - loss and grief were still possible, but there was not the crushing inevitability of age and death that came with love for a mortal. Duncan and Amanda might spend decades at a time apart, often with other relationships intervening, but maybe that had helped make their arrangement work so well for over a thousand years. When love can last for centuries, freedom and time apart might be necessities.

More important to him now, they were both good friends. It wasn't a coincidence that Amanda had chosen to arrive now. She was here to cheer him up, to show him he was not alone. Sometime friendship lasts longer than love... He had said that to Dory, hadn't he?

And that thought reminded him of Alex again. He had turned out to be a forgiving sort; they had repaired their friendship, and strengthened it. Hopefully, tonight, Alex was on the road to reestablishing his friendships with his mortal teammates, too. And maybe more...

- - -

Alex raised his hand to wave as the car pulled away, carrying Lucas, Trip, and Katie into the gathering darkness of a mild spring night. He watched until the faint sound of the engine faded and all was quiet again, just the half-light of dusk and the coolness of a gentle breeze - and the sound of a footstep beside him.

"That was nice, wasn't it?" Jen asked, just a hint of uncertainty in her voice. To his surprise, she had gotten out of the car when he had. Just like countless times when they had been together, and had gone up to his apartment, spent a little time talking, laughing, kissing, and then... "Alex?"

"Sorry. Yeah, it was nice. I'm glad all of you seem to have gotten over... you know."

"Were you worried? Did you really think we'd treat you differently?"

"Yes," he said bluntly. "A lot of people have."

"I suppose." She was silent, looking down at the ground.

"Well, I guess I should-"

"Is it okay if I come up?"

"Sure," he said after a moment of hesitation.

She looked around as she walked into his apartment, as if trying to identify any differences since the last time she had been there. Alex watched as she circled the living room, examined the counter, glanced into the darkened bedroom, came back to him and then moved to stand at the window. Finally it occurred to him that she was nervous.

And the silence was making him uneasy too. "Did you want to talk to me about something?" he asked.

"Yeah."

"Well - what is it?"

"It's..." She was on the move again, prowling the room until she came to a stop facing him, staring intently. "It's strange, seeing your hair like that."

"Did you come up here just to tell me that?"

"It's just..." She sighed. "It makes you seem more like Wes."

"I am Wes."

"I know that. But - oh, you know what I mean." She gave him another glance, frowning but with a sparkle starting to light her eyes. "It's like you're not really Alex anymore. But you're not exactly Wes either. Still, I can see the Wes in you."

"Sorry to be so confusing."

"There's a lot of things I'm confused about." Jen quirked a brow. "Now I don't know whether to call you Wes or Alex. Or something else."

"Whatever you want. I've used so many names; it doesn't much matter to me."

"Hmm. Wes... Alex... Maybe I should call you Welex."

"What?" His startled glance flew to her face, finding her suppressing a smile as she backed off and circled around him.

"Or - or maybe Alwes...?"

"Jen... are you feeling all right?" he asked, turning in an attempt to keep her in sight.

"Or Wesal..."

He laughed. "Absolutely not. That's worse than the first one."

"Hey, you said I could call you anything!" She was back in front of him, smiling the way she used to smile at him, the way he had always loved so much.

"As your commanding officer, I forbid it," he murmured, a smile lifting his own lips.

"What are you going to do about it?" Jen was leaning forward.

"I..." His hands rose to her shoulders, almost of their own accord. Her face was so close - her lips raised to his, her eyes bright, her hands rising to grasp his arms... He wanted to kiss her, more than anything, and she wanted him to, he could see that clearly. But... who was it she wanted? He hesitated and then straightened slightly away from her, just enough to bring disappointment into those clear brown eyes.

"What's wrong?" she asked. Jen was nothing if not straightforward.

"Jen... What are we doing here? I think we need to talk before jumping into anything."

He had been afraid she'd be angry, or hurt. To his relief, she sighed and nodded. "I guess you're right."

"I'm just not sure what you want from me."

"I'm not sure either. But I think it's time for us to try to find out. If you want to, of course."

"Yes, I want to. I still..." He paused, and took a step backwards. "But - what's changed, Jen? You've found out the truth about me. But I'm still the same person you've known for years. The same person you broke up with. If it's just that now you know I'm Wes... That doesn't make anything different. Not for me."

"It makes a difference to me." Her voice was very soft, her eyes downcast.

"Why? I'm Alex now. Wes is gone. Has been for centuries. Don't look for him in me."

"But you are him. You just said so yourself. I know Wes is inside you, that everything I loved about him is in you. I don't have to look, he's there." Jen moved closer again, her gaze intent on his face. "It's like - you've got these two sides. You're not complete without both of them. What I want is you - not just one or the other, but all of you." She stared into his eyes, and then glanced down. "I guess I'm not explaining it very well."

"You're doing fine." He waited for her to look up again. "But have you really thought about this? Now that you know - you must know we'd have a lot of problems."

"Because you're an Immortal."

"I'd stay young, while you get older. Sooner or later, you'd look at me and be convinced I'd rather be with someone as young as I still look. It won't be true, but that's what you'll think." He waited, but she said nothing. "I can't father children. Eventually I might want to move on, to go somewhere where no one knows about me. You might want that too; if people are hostile to me they probably would be to you too. Plus - there's always the chance I'll be killed in the Game."

"There are never any guaranties." Jen turned partially away, twisting her finger together. "Look, I'm not asking for promises, or permanence. I'm not sure I want that myself. All I'm saying is that maybe we should give it another chance."

"I just want to be fair to you this time. I don't want you to get hurt."

"Hurt. And what about you?" She had turned back, and was watching him again with that look that seemed so uncomfortably penetrating, as if she could see through him to the uncertainties underneath. "What are you afraid of? Wes... Alex... If you really cared for me for a thousand years... Are you afraid to be with me again because sooner or later I'll be gone, this time forever?"

The question struck so close to his heart it left him searching for words. "I - I don't know..." he stammered, but it was true, more true and more frightening than he had realized until that moment, and he could see that she saw it in his face.

"Maybe you're right," she whispered. "Maybe it's not a good idea. It must be so terrible to keep losing people, like Methos did... I'm just being selfish."

"Selfish?"

"I was only thinking about what I want, not about how you feel. About whether you'd be all right after... I'd better go." After another glance, she started for the door.

"Jen, wait." He caught her in the entranceway, his hands on her shoulders again, gently turning her around, his fingers under her chin bringing her face up to his. Yes, he was afraid, he could admit it now. But there were more important things than fear, and one of them was the woman he was looking at. He could admit that too.

"Jen, life is about change. Beginnings, and endings. Death. And going on. Yes, I've loved you for a thousand years. Yes, it will be terrible for me when you're gone, whether or not we ever get back together. But I'll survive, and I'll know I didn't miss my chance at happiness out of fear. Being with you would be worth the price. Any price..."

There was no answer, at least not in words, as she smiled before closing her eyes as he kissed her.

- End -