All characters belong to Disney now and Saban at the time. No money being made here.
A/N: This is basically just an idea I got while wondering what might have happened to Jindrax and Toxica after they disappeared down that road near the end of Wild Force. It's got a little bit of drama, a little fantasy, a little romance, a little humor, a little angst. I've probably bent canon here and there, but I don't think there's anything that directly contradicts it. Spoilers for the end of the series, by the way!
With many thanks to MsDany for the beta, and to everyone who's reviewed!
Jindrax yawned and stretched as he emerged from the temple entrance into the bright sunshine of a new day on the Animarium, and turned his face up, squinting. He smiled at the memory of the first time, only weeks ago, when he had felt the warmth of the sun on skin barely starting to be human. Just one of so many new things he had been feeling, some good, some bad, some - amazing. It felt good, he decided, not just the sun but the cool air, the smells of the forest, the song of a bird overhead. And the heady exhilaration of a fateful decision made that had taken from him a weight he hadn't even realized had been there.
His eyes caught a patch of red dropping from a tree overhanging the clearing in front of the Princess's sacred pool, as Cole swung from a branch and landed neatly on the stony ground. "Hey, Jindrax!" he exclaimed with a grin.
"Hey yourself, Jungle Boy. You don't mind if I call you Jungle Boy, do you?"
"I grew up in a forest, not a jungle, but... I consider it a compliment. Did you have a good night?"
"Yeah. It kinda felt like home again; that temple's almost like a cave."
"Me too. I've missed my nights up in the branches." Cole made a face. "Gotta be civilized now, and sleep indoors, on a bed."
"How awful for you. Hey, you guys have a bathroom around here or do I have to hide behind a tree like last night?"
"There's a couple of outhouses by the river." Cole pointed. "I prefer the woods myself, so much cleaner than a little room. Recycling the food I eat back to nature, you know?"
"Yeah, well, nature's great," Jindrax agreed. "To look at. From a distance."
Cole laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. "Come on, I'll walk with you to the outhouse."
"That's right, urinating together is some kind of human male bonding ritual, isn't it?"
"Well, not exactly..."
The rest of them were waiting when Jindrax and Cole returned to the clearing, Princess Shayla in front of her pool with her usual sweet smile, Max and Danny sharing a stone bench, Alyssa perched on a rock. Taylor paced between them wearing her usual impatient expression, and Merrick was a little distance away, leaning against a tree and watching quietly. Toxica stood in the midst of the loose group, looking nervous but her eyes brightening when she saw them approaching.
"Good morning!" Shayla greeted him cheerfully. "I hope you rested well."
"Yeah, I feel great." Jindrax smiled at Toxica, feeling a strange but not at all unpleasant combination of shyness, awkwardness, and sheer happiness in her presence. "Really great."
"Good." Shayla clasped her hands, looking expectant. "Toxica tells us the two of you have something to say to us."
"Yeah, we do," Jindrax said. "But Toxica can tell you better than I can. Brains of the outfit, right, Toxie?"
"You're the one who figured it out before I did. That was pretty smart."
"But you can say things so much better."
"That's not true, I like the way you say things-"
Taylor cut in, her voice amused. "If you two can stop admiring each other for a minute, maybe one of you can tell us what's going on?"
"All right, I'll start," Toxica said. She looked around at all of them and then faced Shayla directly. Jindrax noticed the hesitancy in her voice and the way she shifted her weight from foot to foot nervously. He felt pretty much the same way - not that he thought the Rangers and the Princess would disapprove of what they were about to say, but simply that it seemed so strange. So strange that for a panicked moment he wondered if Toxica might have changed her mind - until she began to speak.
"We came to you wanting to go back to being Orgs. That's what we've always been, and it's all we know. We missed the power, and we didn't like a lot of the things that came along with having human bodies." Toxica exchanged a wry glance with Jindrax before going on.
"Both of us thought all we wanted was to be the way we used to be again. Last night, when you said it was possible, we started to think about what that might mean. We might go all the way back to being Orgs, and be as cold and heartless as the Master himself. We might stop being friends, and stop caring about each other. Then we started to think about all the human feelings we've been having in the last few weeks. All the things we've seen in a new way, and noticed like we never did before. Everything we've been through. Some of it wasn't so nice - but some of it has been pretty wonderful." Again she smiled at Jindrax.
"We had a long talk last night, and what we both think is... well... We've lived for over three thousand years, but we've seen and felt more in the last month than in all that time before. If we stay with you, Princess, and wait for Master Org, we might get our powers back and live for another few thousand years. But now we know that if we can't see any beauty in the world and just want to destroy it, if we stop caring about anything but power, if we stop feeling all the things we know now we can feel, we wouldn't really be alive at all."
There was silence as her voice, which had grown louder and more confident, now trailed off. Toxica looked around again, with a return of her nervousness. "Orgs don't have friends. Orgs can't love. We want to stay human. Maybe you think we're idiots to change our minds, after we came all this way to get turned back the way we were..."
"No, not idiots," Taylor said, blinking and quickly wiping her eyes as if hoping no one would notice.
"I think it's wonderful," Alyssa added.
"Jindrax?" Shayla asked. "Do you feel the same way?"
"Yeah. Told you she could say it better than me."
"Then it's settled," Shayla said, her smile widening. "I'm glad you've found your path, and that it's the right one for everyone."
As if that was a signal, the others all crowded around, smiling, laughing, shaking hands - a gesture Jindrax still found very peculiar, but he shrugged and did it. When in a human body, do as the humans do.
"Hey, you can stay at my house until you get on your feet!" Cole exclaimed.
"And you could live in our place while we're on our trip!" Danny said eagerly. "If that's okay with you, Max."
Max seemed less enthusiastic, but he shrugged. "We'll be gone for a couple of months. That'll give you a little time to look for jobs and a place of your own."
"I'll talk to my father," Alyssa said. "He's always looking for martial arts teachers with unusual styles."
"Actually, I was thinking maybe we'd go into show business," Jindrax said. He reached a hand into the air and saw their eyes widen as a knife appeared in it. "I'm still the Master of Blades, after all - even if I have to do some of it the hard way now." He spun the weapon into the air, twisted to catch it behind his back and made it disappear; then showed them where he had slipped it inside his sleeve.
"And I'm still Mistress of Magic." Toxica held out one hand, snapped her fingers, and smiled as a single bright flame appeared in her palm. "I can still do small things like this with real magic, and I can learn to fake the rest."
"We're naturals," Jindrax said. "Maybe we'll go into acting. We've certainly got the looks!"
"As long as you don't become dogcatchers again."
"I can see you're going to do fine," Alyssa murmured. "And I have to get going, or I'll be late for class."
"Oh man, me too!" Cole exclaimed.
"We'd all better be going," Merrick said more quietly. "Shayla... Princess, I..."
"You don't have to say anything. I know." She took his hands, smiling, but her eyes were sad as she leaned in and kissed him lightly. Merrick accepted the gesture with a solemn expression, and raised a hand to touch her cheek.
The others said their goodbyes quietly and solemnly, knowing it would be forever. Finally as they were on their way back to the portal Jindrax took one last look back, seeing the Princess still standing there with a hand raised in farewell. He wondered what kind of world she would wake up in, a few thousand years from now, with everyone she had ever known long dead and forgotten. This wasn't the first time, either. Thanks to the Orgs, she was committed to an eternity of brief times in the world she was sworn to protect yet had no real part in.
"What's wrong, Jindrax?"
"Nothing. Just thinking how lonely the Princess must be. I kinda feel sorry for her."
"You seem to like her a lot, don't you?" Toxica arched a scowling brow at him, but her eyes softened when she looked back at the solitary figure still waving at them. "Well, I guess I feel sorry for her too."
They said goodbye again, this time only temporarily, in a quiet side street in Turtle Cove. Alyssa and Cole had to leave for their classes, Taylor had an appointment, and Danny and Max headed for home. Merrick smiled and shook hands and disappeared as quickly and quietly as he had come. Jindrax and Toxica declined a ride to Cole's house and started towards downtown. After a block their fingers touched, and they began to hold hands as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Maybe it was, now.
"So, Toxie, what now?" Jindrax asked.
"Now, like right now? Well, after deciding our entire futures, I'm kind of hungry. How about lunch?"
"Good idea! Hey, let's go someplace really fancy! My treat!"
She smiled and shook her head. "And how are you planning to pay for this fancy place?"
"No problem." With a twist of the wrist Jindrax had his trusty Org Express card in his fingers, and flourished it in front of her with a bow. "My dear, I have plastic."
Toxica gave him a look that tried to be stern but failed to hide the laughter underneath. "You know we shouldn't be using that thing anymore! What would Taylor say?"
"Who cares? Hey, no one can expect us to reform overnight. Not completely, anyway. How about it? One last time?"
"One last time." Toxica took his hand again and this time laughed out loud. "After all, we're only human."