Disclaimer: Power Rangers still belongs to Disney. I highly doubt it will ever belong to me unless I suddenly win the lottery.
AN: And here it is, the last part of Aftermath. Thank you for reading. I've loved writing this series and will definitely be writing more RPM fics in the near future.
Sleepless. It was a state of being that he hadn't really had to apply to himself in a good few months. After all he'd had a roof over his head, good friends to share his life with, and a job that made him feel great. Sure said job involved him risking his life day in and day out but when you thought about it; that risk was a small one to pay when you were protecting the world from psycho Virus. A risk that Ziggy found himself more than happy to take on after the initial shock of actually becoming a Power Ranger. Yes he'd freaked out at first, but at the end of the day he'd been happy because he was going to get to make a difference in people's lives. That very ability to care was what had made him such a horrible member of the cartel but was what made him such a good Ranger. Sure he may not have been the best at martial arts or computers but he had heart and that heart was in the right place.
At least, that's what he was always telling himself in those moments of self doubt that he tried not to let anyone else see. He didn't need anyone finding a reason to doubt his abilities as a Ranger because more often than not, he was the one singled out by others. And really he supposed their doubt was brought on by good cause but Ziggy thought that at the end of the day he'd been a good Ranger. If he hadn't been he wouldn't have been able to help the team with the destruction of Venjix.
But that was in the past now. Venjix had been gone for almost a week now and soon enough Ziggy wouldn't be the Green Ranger anymore. Dr. K had allowed them all to keep their morphers for this long in case of a possible attack by rogue Venjix groupies but it seemed that the threat was all but destroyed now. The Earth was starting to reset itself and soon enough Ziggy would be handing in his morpher and going back to being just him.
The problem was that he honestly didn't know who that was anymore. He didn't have to run from Fresno Bob anymore, he was a free man in Corinth city but he didn't know what kind of man he was. For so long he'd been focused on running for his life and then he'd been a Power Ranger for a year. A year that, when he really thought about it, had been the absolute best of his life because of the friendships forged and the legacy he was now a part of. Being the Green Ranger had ultimately changed him in so many ways but it was all for the better. He thought a little bit more before he leaped now, knew that the impossible could happen in the worst of times, and was the type of man he could be proud of.
The only problem with all of that was that now that man had no idea what to do with himself. The past year had been spent focusing on being a Ranger, saving the world, not letting people die in the process, that Ziggy didn't know what to do now. And that thought was a terrifying prospect because he'd always had a plan of some sort. Yes, those plans were sometimes not the best but they were plans nonetheless. Here and now, after the final battle, Ziggy was stuck and he didn't like it.
It was this very thought that was keeping him awake at this very moment in time because tomorrow was the day. They were all handing in their morphers and Ziggy officially had nothing to do. It was enough to make him toss and turn for a good few hours before he finally just gave up and sat up in his bed. He glared at the red numbers on the alarm clock claiming that it was well after three in the morning before he glanced around his room. His room. The thought made him smile because really this was the first time he had a room to call his own and not have to share with anyone else.
When he'd been living at the Orphanage there had been at least five children to a room if not more because of overcrowding and then with Fresno Bob he'd had to share with another lackey. He'd never had a space to call his own until a year ago. When he'd become a Ranger he'd gotten his own room and he had to say he quite enjoyed it and he was grateful that he wasn't going to have to leave it soon. Dr. K was being gracious enough to let all of them stay here at the Garage for as long as they wanted and it was an offer Ziggy was taking her up on because he had nowhere to go at the moment.
Dr. K. There was yet another reason for his bout with insomnia tonight. In addition to thoughts about not knowing what to do with himself, he now found that his brain was being occupied with thoughts of her. There was no denying that he had feelings for her of the romantic kind. He didn't even know when his feelings had shifted from platonic to something that involved romantic. One minute he was just trying to get Dr. K to like him as a possible friend and the next he was dreaming about going out on a date with her. The shift he supposed, had happened gradually but he'd certainly been blindsided by it before being knocked out and that damn dream.
After that dream he hadn't been able to stop thinking about the possibility of Dr. K and him together. He knew they clashed an awful lot but he liked that about them. He'd always thought that she was cute and her brains were just an amazing part of the deal. She could handle her own and didn't take crap from anyone. All traits that he liked about her but she in turn seemed to like almost nothing about him. She liked to insult him, refused to use his actual name, and really seemed to avoid him if she could. All of that combined had him coming up short when it came to feelings and emotions on her part. She obviously wanted to have nothing to do with him and Ziggy couldn't force her to feel anything.
So for the sake of his own sanity and the cohesiveness of the team he kept his feelings to himself. Though he was pretty sure those feelings had been revealed during the final battle when he'd rushed off to protect Dr. K but so far no one had mentioned that to him. He had a sneaking suspicion that Summer and Gemma had threatened the other guys but he found himself perfectly alright with that fact. He'd need to thank the two girls at some point in the near future for it.
Sighing Ziggy ran a hand through his hair and glared at his alarm clock once more before deciding that sleep was indeed going to be completely evasive tonight. He stretched once before he pried himself out of bed, glanced down to be sure that he was indeed wearing appropriate attire, and then headed towards the door to his room. If he was going to wallow he mine as well do it while pacing the floor downstairs.
As he headed for the stairs he was completely unsurprised to find the light to Summer's room still on and laughter coming from within. Laughter that most definitely belonged to Dillon and giggles that he could easily pinpoint to Summer. The two of them had finally gotten together a few days ago and had so far been spending every one of their nights together since then. Ziggy assumed that tonight was no exception to the routine they'd begun and he had to laugh as he passed the door. In his opinion it was high time that those two got their act together and admitted how they felt. He'd called their feelings for each other months ago and now that he was thinking about it Flynn still owed him money. They'd placed a bet a few weeks ago and he'd been the winner.
Speaking of Flynn, Ziggy couldn't hold back a smile as he made his way down the stairs and through the newly restored living room. In said room, curled up together on the couch, were a sleeping Flynn and Gemma. Those two had apparently also gotten together a few days ago and had spent tonight indoors, playing cards and then watching a movie that had obviously put them both to sleep. Ziggy wondered for a few moments if he should maybe wake them up so they could go and sleep in their respective beds but disbanded that thought after looking at them. They looked at peace and who was he to disturb that by separating them?
As quietly as he could, Ziggy got past them and breathed a sigh of relief when they didn't move. What he didn't pay attention was the fact that he'd managed to wander his way into the mostly destroyed lab and was now standing in front of the Ranger suits. Once again he sighed, of course his subconscious would lead him here of all places. He really thought about leaving, he didn't want to stare at his suit and think of what he was losing, but if he left where would he go? He couldn't go out into the city at this late hour and if he went into the kitchen he risked waking the two lovebirds in the living room. He wasn't that mean so Ziggy decided he was really stuck for awhile because he didn't want to go back upstairs to a room that was only serving as a reminder to the not sleeping he was doing right now.
He took a breath and brought himself back to the present, training his eyes on the Green Ranger Suit that was before him. He took a step upwards and found himself placing his hands on either side of the glass that contained it. Maybe if he just looked at it for awhile he wouldn't feel so damn lost.
"We had some good times didn't we my friend?" he whispered quietly, not quite believing that he was actually talking to his suit of all things. But hey being up past three in the morning kind of made a guy delirious. Besides no one else was around to make fun of him and if they were he'd just kick them. "You helped me become a man and for that I'm grateful. It's going to be a sad day tomorrow when I hand my morpher in. But I'm kind of looking forward to putting what I've learned with you to use out there in the world. What use I don't know yet but I will. I'm going to make this legacy proud of me."
"Ranger Operator Series Green, are you talking to your Ranger suit?"
Ziggy jumped at the sound of a voice behind him and quickly turned around to find that said voice did indeed belong to one Dr. K and she was standing before him in pajamas covered with various forms of pi. She looked like she either wanted to hit him or give him a full on psychological exam, either way neither look was good.
"Umm hi Dr. K, what are you doing up so late?"
"Do not avoid the question Series Green. Were you talking to your suit?"
"Yes," he answered simply. Mine as well own up to the fact that he was indeed talking to an inanimate object.
"Why on Earth would you talk to your suit?"
"Because I can't sleep and I came downstairs and ended up in here so I wouldn't wake up Flynn and Gemma on the couch. And then I started thinking about tomorrow or it's actually today now and how we're handing in our morphers and I just…" he paused for a moment to look her right in the eye. He needed Dr. K to see that he wasn't crazy. "I know it seems insane but this suit and I, we've been through a lot. It's kept me alive and I felt the need to thank it for everything alright?"
For a moment there was nothing but silence between the two of them and then Ziggy almost had a heart attack because he could swear he saw something soften in Dr. K's eyes when she met his gaze. He'd only seen that look at a few crucial moments during their time together and hadn't expected to ever see it again.
"Series Green, I do not think you are insane for talking to your suit," she began and he felt his eyebrows raise at the statement. "It is normal to develop an attachment to something so closely linked to your own body. I can imagine that giving said thing up is hard to process."
"You have no idea," he mumbled softly, relief flooding through his body at her words. The last thing he needed was for the woman he had a crush on to think he was even crazier than she already thought she was. "It's just, well, this suit has helped me become who I am right now and I was thinking about how I don't know what's going to happen when it's gone. It's defined me for a year and now nothing."
"Is that why you are up at this absurd hour?"
He chuckled and nodded, running a hand through his hair once more.
"Well it's that and a couple of other things. It's all just racing through my mind and it won't slow down. I gave up on sleep a few minutes ago. No sense in trying to get any when it's obvious my body doesn't want it right now."
"That is a very logical deduction," Dr. K replied, sounding somewhat surprised at her answer, and he grinned at the look. It wasn't often he got to do that to her. "Very stupid but logical all the same."
"Gee thanks Doc. Hey wait a minute, what are you doing up at this hour?"
Dr. K took a breath and simply looked at him before commenting.
"It seems that our brains are working in tandem tonight Ranger Green. I too am being overrun with thoughts at the moment and cannot achieve a proper REM phase of sleep."
"So what you're saying is that you're mind is being bogged down by a million and one thoughts like mine?" He asked with a smile and she nodded before walking across the room to sit in her chair. Ziggy, curious as ever, decided to follow her, pulling up a spare chair to sit beside her.
"Why don't you tell me what you were thinking about Doc? It might help you get to sleep if you let your thoughts run free with someone."
"And why would I choose to share my thoughts with you Ranger Green?"
"Because like it or not Dr. K I'm your friend. Being a friend entails being there for someone and I'd like to be there for you right now. Your thoughts are obviously troubling you and I'm offering you a willing ear to listen too. An ear that promises the utmost secrecy when it comes to these thoughts," he replied a tad bit harshly. He hadn't meant to sound like he was mad but he kind of was. He'd hoped that after everything, Dr. K could at least consider him to be a friend like she did the others. His tone of voice did however have the desired effect; Dr. K looked at him with surprise before looking down, seemingly embarrassed by her earlier words.
"Ranger Green I apologize, I didn't mean to make you upset. I do consider you a friend."
"Call me Ziggy?" He asked hopefully. "I won't be Ranger Green in a few hours and you're going to have to call me something so let's try my name. Please?"
"Ziggy," she rolled the name over her tongue and he had to admit, he really wanted to kiss her right about now. The name sounded foreign yet oh so right on her tongue and he couldn't help it, he had to suppress a shiver from running up his spine.
"Good. Now how about you tell me what's got you up so late? It'll make you feel better. I promise."
"Range-Ziggy," she corrected at the look he was giving her. "Oh fine. I'm up because I was thinking about how..quiet this place will be in a few days."
"Quiet? Are you kicking us out Doc?" he asked, a slight panic rising in his chest. He had no idea what he would do if she actually did that.
"What? No. Of course not. You know you have a home here for as long as you need one," she responded quickly, reaching out and patting the back of his hand during the process. Ziggy let out a breath of relief at that and had to quell his heart at the touch of her hand to his.
"So quiet? Why is it going to be quiet?"
"Well I imagine that many of you will be leaving to pursue other goals now that Venjix is defeated. I know Scott will be going back to the military and I imagine that Flynn will want to spend more time with his father. Though he will probably be spending more time around here because of the computer system they'll be building and Gemma," Dr. K replied with a chuckle. "But it is safe to think that you all will at some point leave and start your lives over. I know that all of us will forever be linked by what we shared but there is a world out there. But I've…gotten rather used to everyone around here."
"So what you're saying is that you're going to be lonely," Ziggy finished for her, this time reaching out to squeeze her shoulder in comfort.
"That is an accurate observation," she replied softly, and he had to admit he was surprised when she leaned herself into the touch. But he smiled, happy that he was at least able to do something for her.
"Well you don't have to worry about that. I'll be around for awhile yet. I still don't know what I'm going to be doing after today."
"Is it safe to observe that that is why you are up right now?"
"Yes," he replied with a dark chuckle.
"Would you care to elaborate? Come on, it'll make you feel better," Dr. K said with a small smile on her face and Ziggy had to laugh. He guessed that he really had no say in the matter, she'd confessed, time for him to do the same.
"I guess fair is fair so alright I'll talk," he said with a small smile. "I've just been thinking about what I want to do with my life. I mean the one I had before being a Ranger isn't something I can be proud of. Being a Ranger changed me you know? I'm not the same person I was. I want to make a difference but I don't know how. It's kind of terrifying to leave something that's been your life for a year and realizing that you have nothing at the end of it."
"Ziggy you don't have nothing. You have friends and you know you always have a place to live here don't you?" Dr. K asked and he found himself surprised once more by the warmth present in her eyes. He nodded quickly to her question and once more found himself running a hand through his hair.
"I know that Doc and I appreciate it but I can't just sit around and do nothing. Not when I've been doing something for so long you know?"
"Believe it or not Ziggy I do know. I too am finding it hard to contemplate that this will no longer be my existence. I've focused for so long on destroying the virus I create and now it's gone…I don't know what I'll be doing now."
Ziggy paused at that and found himself in shock. He hadn't considered the fact that he and Dr. K might just be in the same sort of boat when it came to what was happening next. But they really were. She might be just as lost as he was and apparently she realized it too because she was turning her chair away from him. Before he knew what he was doing Ziggy had shot a hand out to stop said chair, ignoring the way her breath faltered before slowly turning it so she was facing him.
"You know that's alright don't you? Not knowing what you're doing? It happens a lot."
"Not to me," she responded softly. "I've always had structure and people telling me where I was going and now nothing. I don't know what to do."
"Well Dr. K that makes two of us."
"And I suppose this is where you tell me that there's nothing to be afraid of?"
He snorted at that and shook his head.
"No, there's a hell of a lot to be afraid of but you're not alone K. The team is all here for you. I'm here for you. You know that right?"
"I know that," she said softly. "It was you after all that came running to save me during the final battle didn't you?"
Ziggy paused at this and felt his eyes widen. Oh god, she knew about his feelings for her, this was not good, not good at all. Oh god he was going to get rejected by her. Great just what he needed tonight.
"I did," he answered finally. No sense in denying it now.
Now that question had him staring at her as though she'd grown a second head or something. How could she possibly question why he would come save her? How could she even doubt that anyone would want to save her? He had to put a stop to this train of thought right now even if it put his heart right out in the open for her to step on.
Slowly, so he wouldn't scare her, Ziggy found himself pushing out of the chair he'd commandeered and kneeling on the ground before her. One hand resting on her knees as the other came up to cup her chin, forcing her gaze to meet his. He was taking a damn huge risk here but he had too. Maybe this gamble would actually pay off.
"Dr. K, don't you know that you are absolutely and positively worth saving? I don't think that my heart could've taken it if Venjix had hurt you."
He was startled when her eyes filled with tears then and he panicked. What if he had said something to offend her? To upset her? He really didn't know anything about girls, oh god he should have gone to get Summer. She would know how to handle this.
And then Dr. K was leaning down and her lips were on his and Ziggy was having his second heart attack of the night. He was kissing Dr. K. Really kissing her and oh hey she was kissing back. Their lips were moving in tandem and he had no idea how he was making his lips move but he was and oh god it was amazing. You know that thing people say about fireworks going off in your head? Yeah. This kiss was that good. And Ziggy could barely contain his glee when she pulled away from him and he caught her smiling down at him.
"Wow," he murmured, bringing the hand that had previously been on her chin to ghost over his lips. "Oh wow. That was…"
"Sufficient?" His eyes shot up at that and he noted that she was still smiling but looking rather nervous at the moment and he almost laughed. Almost; instead he simply leaned up and brushed his lips against hers again.
"It was better than that and you know it," he mumbled against her lips. "Is it safe to observe that you do in fact have some feelings for me?"
"It would be a logical assumption yes," she murmured.
"And how long have these feelings existed for?"
"At the present moment I cannot give you an accurate date. I you ask me again in the afternoon I can possibly assist you with the time. But for now will awhile do?"
He laughed against her lips then and nodded.
"May I think assume that you have the same feelings for me?"
"You may," he murmured, pecking her again. "And before you ask, they've been around for awhile."
"Good," Dr. K responded. "Ziggy, what do we do now?"
"Well I guess we go forward. We don't really have a choice. But I think that's the beauty of it. We're meant to move on from this as better individuals. The aftermath of battle is hard but the reward? Oh so worth it. And you know…maybe I'll become a teacher. I've always loved kids."
Feedback is always appreciated. Once again thank you so much for reading! More fics to come in the future!