Hey everyone! I know its been a while since I posted anything. In fact, its been so long that I had to re-figure out some stuff, especially with the new format. Anywho, this fic was a response the the Eulogy Challenge on PRUnited Front. I hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, but will gladly accept charity funds for broke upcoming college students. =]

Never Gone

He laid the flowers on the freshly made mound of dirt that now covered his friend, before sitting down cross-legged in front of the tomb stone. Shifting his arm that still rested in a sling, he tugged his jacket closer to himself, despite the intense heat. He didn't like it; the heat. Something felt wrong about a bright, sunny day when one of the nicest people in the world had just died. Of course, thinking about it, Lucas was sure that Trip would want it that way. He would want the sun's rays to hit people's faces and for them to think of joy and happiness, rather than the cliché of rain and pain that accompanied most deaths.

"I'm sorry I missed your funeral; they wouldn't let me out in time for it. Something about having a severe concussion and potentially passing out." started Lucas, knowing that he needed to talk, because he understood that even though Trip wasn't physically there, he'd still be listening.

"Nadira doesn't want to believe you're not with us anymore. Of course, none of us do, but I know they feel that empty space where you should be, just like I do." His arm let out a dull ache, and as he moved it a little to relieve the pain, he remembered why he was on medical leave and Trip was gone.

The two had been at the Interplanetary Peace Conference; Trip to be the speaker as the relations representative between Xybria and Earth, and Lucas as his guard. Trip had been so excited, and had practiced his speech the entire space ride there. Things at the conference went smoothly for the first three days, and then everything had gone to Hell. Trip, along with Xybria's and Earth's speakers, had gone up to discuss some problems Xybrians had recently been having integrating into Earth's society. Lucas, with a platoon of officers and soldiers, stood guarding the speakers. From the corner of his eye, Lucas saw Xybria's representative duck down mere milliseconds before the first shot went off, having apparently just gotten a glimpse of the upcoming future . The hall exploded in panic as all the guards pulled out their weapons, scanning for the shooter as the shots continued to fire.

Lucas looked over at Trip, who had pulled out the small blaster Time Force had insisted he kept on him. The two made eye contact, and with a nod, were instantly in Ranger mode. Trip made sure that Earth's representative, who had received the initial shot in his shoulder, was safely hidden under the desk before moving out to make sure nobody else was hurt. The next few minutes were a blur of gun shots, blaster fires, and screaming, which Lucas was too busy hiding important government officials to really pay attention to until a sudden and unexplainable emptiness and fear filled him. He turned to see Trip laying motionless, blood already seeping through a tiny hole in his chest. Thinking back, he knew it was stupid, but personal safety hadn't occurred to him as he rushed to his fallen friend.

"Trip!" Lucas skidded to his knees and lifted Trip into a sitting position, the man moving limply in his arms. "Trip, come on buddy, you're ok, come on." Fuzzy eyes fluttered open, and the second Lucas saw them; saw the lack of pain, he knew it was already too late, but he couldn't accept that, not yet. "Trip, talk to me."

Trip's eyes searched for Lucas' until he found them before trying to lift his hand. Understanding, Lucas gripped the shaky hand, almost urging him to be fine. "Tell them I'm not gone." Trip whispered. His voice was barely audible above the continued screams and shots which Lucas had all but forgotten about as his attention flickered briefly to a trickle of blood making its way out of the corner of Trip's mouth. "I'll always be with you."

Lucas, unable to cry because reality hadn't seemed to sink in yet, simply squeezed Trip's hand and nodded. "You'll never be gone Trip." He replied, his voice portraying the same emotion as always; as if one of the best friends he'd ever had wasn't dying in his arms, the Xybrian's blood now running onto his uniform. He would have stayed there longer, holding Trip and ignoring the rest of the world, but as he sat staring into Trip's fading eyes, an energy blast shot him from the right and sent him into the wall a good five feet away, and the world went black.

He woke up two days later in a hospital on Earth, his broken ribs bandaged and his right arm, which had been fractured in two places, was wired, hinged, and in a sling. Jen, Katie, Alex, and Ransik were standing around his bed, with Nadira at his side, holding his good hand in both of hers, unshed tears glistening in her eyes. He didn't have to ask where Trip was, because he already knew. All he needed to know was when.

"The funeral is in three days." Jen provided. She was putting up a tough front, but from the way Alex was holding her, his arm snaking gently yet protectively around her waist, Lucas could tell she had just been crying. Katie had left the room a few minutes after he woke up and he knew there was a part of her that blamed him for what happened, as much as she tried to deny it to herself.

"I know what your thinking," Lucas continued, "'Why aren't you at the hospital?' Because I snuck out, which was a lot harder than I thought it would be, so that we could talk. I wanted to tell you that Nadira wants to have a boy and name him Trip; I guess it's too bad it's a girl huh?" His mind wandered to his very pregnant wife, and how very soon, he would be a father. "I'm excited Trip, and scared; she's coming into the world in a few weeks. Who ever thought that I'd be a dad?" His voice carried a hint of pride and joy, while the pain from the recent tragedy was nowhere to be found. He was still in denial, and knew it.

"Katie still isn't talking to me, but she's sending messages through Nadira. I know she doesn't mean to be like that, but this is harder for her; she lost her brother when you…" Lucas couldn't' say it. He could think it, but making it audible just felt wrong; as if he were coming some sort of crime against nature. "She wants to visit you, they all do, but I think it's too hard for them, seeing you like this. But give them some time, they'll come around. I know you want to see them happy, but they're not ready to be, even Alex. He's refusing to find a new green ranger, and I hope we won't be needing one for a while."

The wind blew gently, interrupting Lucas' train of thought. He watched the green flowers-he didn't know what they were; some sort of rose/lily hybrid-rustle in their bouquet. He remembered Trip once explained what they were, and how they were his mom's favorites. It was right after they returned to the future and all felt like they needed to reconnect to their time period.

"That was seven years ago." Lucas though out loud, "We thought the disaster was finally over." His mind wandered to what that truly meant, but not wanting to continue that train of thought, he went back to talking about the other rangers.

"Jen's reaction is hard to read. She' strong in front of others, but I can tell she's hurting on the inside. Same with Alex; those two are holding each other together." He cracked a smile. "Katie and I didn't want to believe you when you said they'd end up together again, but you sure called it. And who other than you would have expected Ben?" Lucas' grin widened at the thought of Jen and Alex's two and half year old son. He was already running around with his dad's badge and pretending to capture criminals. "He's been asking about his Uncle Trip, but nobody has the heart to tell him."

He took a deep breath, and his ribs sent up a jolt in protest. Lucas looked around when he heard the sound of a car coming and stopping at the bottom of the hill he was currently sitting on. Looking down, he recognized his own car and the now shoulder-length pink hair of his wife as she stepped out of the driver's side and started moving towards him. Returning his attention to the grave stone in front of him, Lucas continued talking.

"The cavalry have arrived." Lucas tried joking, knowing how much Tip loved westerns, but his energy was drained, and reality was finally starting to set in. He felt Nadira's gentle touch on his shoulder as she gave a reassuring squeeze. He could almost feel her pain and the silent tears she was bravely keeping to herself.

"I know you not gone Trip." His voice started to crack for the first time since he's woken up a week ago. Standing up with Nadira's silent and protective help, he looked down one last time at the grave. "But I'm going to miss you and…" His breath caught in his throat. "I'm sorry I didn't protect you."

He walked away, his head down and Nadira's arm looped around his shoulders. In only a few steps, having finally gotten the closer he so desperately needed, the first and only tear hit the ground with an inaudible splash.

Soo...I'm actually not sure how emotional that was, because, believe it or not, the goal was minimal emotion until the end, which I hope I achieved. Well, either way, I hope you enjoyed the fic, and please leave a review or just some constructive critism; both are always apprecited. Flames will be used to make yummy yummy s'mores. =D