Disclaimer: I do not own PRNS, or any part of it. I also do not own the song "My Last Breath" by Evanescence, which is quoted throughout and was also the original inspiration for this story.
Another alien, another battle. Quickly, Dustin, Shane, Cam, Hunter, Blake and I morph into action as the Ninja Storm Power Rangers. I love my life as a Ranger, although it is dangerous and I certainly don't relish the idea of an evil space ninja attacking Earth. For one thing, it is a great feeling, knowing that I am out saving the world just like the characters in the comics and on TV. Being a role-model for thousands of little girls who now want to be a Ranger just like me when they grow up. Just the pleasure I get from those secret little good deeds that no one will ever know about. But being a Ranger also brought me closer to the five boys who are now like family to me. Every time I walk into Ninja Ops and see their smiling faces, it feels like coming home.
Quickly, I shake myself from my thoughts. Daydreaming during a battle will not get the enemy destroyed, and it might even prove dangerous to me or one of my teammates.
"Come closer, Rangers," the monster calls. "I shall reveal to you the power of Seamstra!" The creature is shaped like a giant spool of multi-colored thread with needles and pins sticking out every which way and a pair of scissors as its head.
"Ninja Sword! Gold Mode!" Shane commands. Dustin and I quickly follow suit, yanking out our own swords in Gold Mode.
"Samurai Saber!" Cam calls, pulling out the blade unique to the Green Samurai Ranger.
"Thunder Staff!" Hunter and Blake shout together, producing their weapons. We move into battle stance.
"You have been warned!" Seamstra calls to us. "Kelzaks!" Immediately a large group of the black-and-red aliens appears. As the Kelzaks charge, we brace ourselves for a fight. We race into the midst of the Kelzaks and begin fighting furiously.
After awhile, all but a few of the aliens have been taken out, as Seamstra looks on furiously. Two of them latch onto Hunter, and another two grab Blake. The two Thunder Rangers are having trouble fighting them off. Shane looks at me.
"We'll hold off the rest. Go help Hunter and Blake!" I nod and immediately run towards the pair. Seamstra steps forward, calling,
"Time to baste some Ranger!"
Suddenly an explosion of pain rips through my chest. It fills my entire being, my whole awareness. I scream in agony, falling to my knees. Electricity crackles around me, and there is more pain, and suddenly I am falling onto my side, and I gradually realize that my Ranger suit has vanished. Through the cloud of pain enveloping me, I hear my friends calling to me in fear, see them looking at a huge metal needle that is stuck in the ground behind me. Dimly, I realize that it has gone right through me. Seamstra laughs, and in a flash of light she and all the Kelzaks disappear.
Moments later, my friends are at my side, de-morphing as they run to me. That's strange, I think, noticing how blurred my vision is. Almost hysterical, Dustin shifts me onto my back. Cam kneels beside me and looks at my chest. I can't look, I think to myself, I won't. I can't stand the sight of blood. But deep inside, I know the real reason that I dare not look. In the back of my mind a fear is growing, a fear that this is a wound from which I cannot recover. A fear that this wound is fatal.
Cam stands up and beckons to the others to step away from me for a minute. I know he doesn't want me to hear what he is saying, and at that very moment I know what he is telling them: he is telling them that I will die. I hear Blake cry out, but the others shush him. A few minutes later, they return. Blake kneels beside me and holds my hand, tears streaming down his cheeks. A little to the side, I hear Cam telling Sensei what has happened.
Hold on to me, love
You know I can't stay long.
All I wanted to say was I love you and I'm not afraid.
Dustin, Shane, and Hunter are standing to the side, trying to ask Sensei something, begging and pleading. I know I don't have much time. If I want to tell Blake the truth before I die, then now is the time to do it.
"Blake," I manage to choke out.
"It's g-gonna be okay Tori, " he says, but the way his words shake, the tears pouring in rivers down his cheeks, belie that statement. It is not going to be okay, and I know it.
"Blake, I-I…" How do I say this? I think desperately. "I know I'm dying. I-I don't think I can last much longer. "
"Shh, Tori, it's going to be okay," Blake says, trying to stop me from saying what he has to know is the inevitable truth.
"No, Blake, it's not…please don't say that…." I take a deep breath, and wince with pain. Blake sees and squeezes my hand. "I have to tell you something."
"What is it?" he asks curiously. He has no idea what I am about to say.
"I've been wanting to tell you for so long…I wanted to wait for the perfect moment…maybe until Lothor was gone…. But now I can't wait any longer. "He stares at me, reasonably having no idea what I am trying to say.
"I have to say this before I die…. Blake, I…I love you." His mouth drops open. He clearly was not expecting this at all.
"Y-you…love me?" he whispers, his voice trembling. I nod, then wince as fresh pain ripples through me. "I-I've been wanting to tell you …" Blake says. My heart—or what is left of it—swells within me. Could he possibly mean…?
"I love you too, Tori," he tells me, tears rushing down his cheeks. "I…always have, I mean, even when Lothor…" I can barely hear him through the roaring in my ears, but I know what he is saying. But there is something else that has to be said.
"Blake…." He goes quiet, straining to hear me. I know my voice is too soft. "I'm not afraid to die." At least, I don't think I am.
Can you hear me?
Can you feel me in your arms?
Blake is absolutely silent. He does not say a word, he does not move. I wonder if he didn't hear me, or if he is in denial. Maybe he is so silent because he knows the truth, and he knows that as long as he doesn't admit it he can pretend I will be all right. Whether for my sake or his, I don't know.
Suddenly I become aware that I am not on the ground, but that he is holding me, supporting me. I am only aware of this by sight, for I cannot feel his touch at all. Light-headed, I wonder if he is as numb to my touch as I am to his.
Holding my last breath,
Safe inside myself
Are all my thoughts of you.
Sweet raptured light,
It ends here tonight.
Blake is looking at me sadly. I cannot bear to see the pain in his eyes. I close my eyes and retreat into myself. I try not to think that I will be dying soon. I try not to think about everything that will be lost. Instead I concentrate on all my memories of my best friends. I remember the day I met each of them, the day Dustin, Shane, and I became Rangers, when Hunter and Blake joined the team, when Cam finally became a Ranger. I remember all of the happy days with the friends I love. I remember how I wished and wished for Blake to like me, how my dream is to date him someday. Suddenly I think that now that dream can't ever come true, and I am sad. I open my eyes, but only with great effort. I know I am going to die here in the City Square. I know I will not even last the night. I look up and Blake is still there, and everyone else is there too. I can see in their eyes that they know the truth, but they don't think I do. I take a breath to try to reassure them, but the pain overwhelms me and I stop, coughing. With each cough it hurts more, and now I can taste blood in my mouth. It will end soon. I cannot bear the pain, and I close my eyes again to try to block it out.
I'll miss the winter,
A world of fragile things.
Look for me in the white forest
Hiding in a hollow tree (Come find me)
I begin to think of everything I will miss when I am gone. I think of how the summer waves slap the beach, the cool rush of water beneath my surfboard. I think of hanging out at Storm Chargers, chatting with my friends at Ninja Ops. I remember training with Sensei Kanoi and sparring with Blake.
I imagine the winter. I remember the delicate icicles hanging from the garage, the tiny, beautiful snowflakes fluttering down from the sky, the way the trees hang with snow on their limbs, the crunch it makes when I walk through fresh snow. I remember the days when I'd sit in a hollow tree in the forest just staring at the snow, watching the winter animals move about. I think that I will keep myself here, that I will sit in that tree in the forest and wait for my friends to come find me, after I am gone.
"Look for me in the white forest hiding in a hollow tree," I think. My friends look at each other, worried, and I hear Cam say that I must be delirious.
I know you hear me:
I can taste it in your tears.
Holding my last breath,
Safe inside myself
Are all my thoughts of you.
Sweet raptured light,
It ends here tonight
Vaguely I realize that I must have said the words aloud. I know my friends can hear me, although I feel myself fading. Then they are crying, crying, and the tears falling from their cheeks, the sobs echoing in their voices, tell me that they heard me and are realizing what I have known all along: the end is near.
Closing your eyes to disappear,
You pray your dreams will leave you here.
But still you wake and know the truth:
No one's there.
Blake is still holding me, still the closest one, although the others are as close as they can get. I see Blake close his eyes. He whispers, "I'm just dreaming. This can't be happening. Dear God, please let this just be a dream!" He looks at Hunter, and cries. "I'm not dreaming, am I?" I see Hunter shake his head. Tears are pouring down his cheeks, and it slowly occurs to me that for the first time in my life I am seeing Hunter Bradley cry. But for some reason, I don't seem to care, and this frightens me.
Don't be afraid.
Calling me calling me as you fade to black.
Something lurches inside me. I look down and see my shirt is the color of Hunter's uniform now; no longer is it blue. I taste blood in my mouth, an uncontrollable amount of blood. My senses blur, my body numbs and gets a thousand pounds heavier. My eyelids are also heavy, oh so heavy, and I know that I am dying now. I take a deep, painful breath, and try to hold this last breath long enough to say my goodbyes.
"Good-bye," I whisper to each, naming them in turn. They cry, shaking, and I know that they have realized what is happening. They scream, "No!" over and over. "It's all right," I manage to tell them. "It d-doesn't hurt. D-don't be afraid." My breath fails me then, and it takes effort to force my eyelids open. Blake grabs my arms and shakes me.
"Tori! Tori!" he screams over and over. I can hear the other voices joining in, but they are getting fainter, and I can see only Blake. "Tori! Tori!" he screams, and the world is getting darker. I look at Blake, keeping my gaze on him, silently pleading forgiveness. "Tori! Tori!" I can hear him calling me back from the darkness. But there is nothing I can do, and slowly his face, and the entire world, fade into black. And then….nothing.