Disclaimer: All characters in this story belong to BVE and are borrowed without permission. No money was made with this story.
Big thank yous to Kris and Angel for their encouragement, and again a very big one to my beta reader Rach for nit-picking, prodding and poking. You're great, girl. :-)
This was never supposed to become a series, but you know… fics have a life of their own ;-).
Spark in the Dark
When I accepted this mission, I never expected it to turn out this way, but I'm glad it did. Even if the circumstances were different, I couldn't be happier. And in a way it's thanks to Ransik. If he hadn't created the mutorgs, then maybe I would never have seen Wes again. In a way, maybe I should thank… yes, maybe even forgive Ransik for attacking Alex. I know this sounds weird, but if Ransik hadn't escaped from the transport and almost killed Alex… then we would never have gone to the year 2001.
And I wouldn't have met Wes.
It's a thought that scares me. I mean, over the past fifteen months, two weeks, three days, five hours and 47 minutes, I've tried to get used to the thought of spending my life without him, of never seeing him again. But to think of never having met him at all… that chills me to the bone.
As long as I live, I won't ever forget that day. The day all my dreams were shattered in one moment… and new ones began to exist in another. It was the day I lost Alex and found Wes.
It was the strangest day of my life. I've never experienced so many emotions in such a short time. At first, all I felt was anger, hate, sadness and pain, but that was washed away the moment Wes took his helmet off… I thought my heart had stopped beating. Only one hour after my fiancé had died in my arms, I had met this man who could have been his identical twin… okay, his blonde and a thousand years older twin.
Wes' resemblance to Alex was more than I could bear. At first, just looking at him hurt so much. It felt like someone was driving a white-hot knife through my heart. I was so hard and cold to him, just to keep him at a distance, but it didn't work. Stone by stone he tore down the wall I had erected around my heart. And the pain I felt by looking at him subsided quickly when I realized something.
Wes might look like Alex, but that was all they had in common. Alex is serious, a bit distant sometimes and rarely showing his emotions. Wes is… well, Wes. He's a big kid with an even bigger heart. He's easy-going, funny and open; qualities I missed in Alex.
Alex. You would think I was the happiest person in the world when he suddenly appeared in Silver Hills alive and well. But I wasn't. Don't get me wrong, I was glad and relieved to see him again… but not as much as I should have been. Too much had changed in the meantime. When I hugged him, it didn't feel like before. It felt like… embracing a stranger. And that was exactly what I did. Once I got off of the emotional rollercoaster ride our unexpected reunion sent me on, I had to face the truth. Alex Collins had survived Ransik's attack… but not the man I once had loved with all of my heart. The Alex I fell in love with had died in my arms. He was gone forever.
Like the Jennifer Scotts he used to know. With each day we spent in 2001, she vanished, bit by bit… until only Jen remained. And she doesn't need Alex the way Jennifer did. Ironically it was him who made me realize that. Or better both him and Wes.
When I first joined Time Force, Alex was my mentor. Everything I know about mutants and fighting crime, all the skills necessary for my job, were taught to me by him. First I was his student, then his friend and lover. But I never truly became his partner. Maybe a part of him always saw me as his student, and still does. And I doubt that will ever change. His brief visit to the year 2001 made that very clear. Nothing we – and especially I – did or said was right or good enough for him.
And in a way, I can understand him. We were the ones who let Ransik escape. We were the ones jointly responsible for what happened to Alex. We were the ones … who let him down when he needed us. And I think I was the one who hurt him most, and not just because I failed him.
It was because of Wes.
He didn't say it, but I noticed it from his attitude trowards Wes. The look Alex gave him when they first met, the way he talked to us… and how he looked at me when he found the polaroid of Wes fooling around and kissing me. It was the only time during his stay that he dropped his icy shell and allowed me to look behind it.
Never before had I seen so many emotions at once in Alex' eyes. He was angry, scared and… jealous. Angry and scared because of what might have happened to the future and of what happened to him.
And he was jealous of Wes. He'd been replaced in every sense. By me as our team leader, and by his own ancestor, not only as the Red Time Force Ranger but also in my heart. It was only then that I realized I hadn't thought about him in a while. No wonder he didn't have any confidence in us left. But that feeling was mutual.
In the same way that he couldn't trust us any more, we weren't able to trust him. He never cared to tell he was still alive, thought he must have known much we… I had suffered from his death. And when he came… he took away the one thing that had helped to keep me sane, Wes.
But fortunately, Alex came back to his senses –not that we left him any choice in that matter. He gave the morpher back to Wes and even healed Mr. Collins. He could rebuild at least a little bit of the destroyed trust and relationship between us…
…and managed to shatter it all completely and definitively again, with just six words.
Enjoy the life you left behind…
It took each and every little bit of discipline I had not to slap him. I knew he was talking about the lives we'd led in the year 3000, but the only life that suddenly seemed worth enjoying to me… that life was 999 years back in the past, in an old clock tower in Silver Hills, with Wes… who was supposed to sacrifice himself in the last battle against Ransik… and who was supposed to be erased from our memories.
Something I couldn't let happen. I knew it the moment the door of the memory adaptation booth closed behind me. Memories of Wes flooded my mind, of all the good and bad times we'd had, all the times he'd stood by me. And he had nobody to stand by him when he needed it the most.
In that moment I made my decision. No matter what it would take, no matter the cost, I would go back to help him, and nothing would stop me… would stop us, because Trip, Katie and Lucas were ready to follow me. Alex seemed to know that. His last attempt to stop us was less than half-hearted. Maybe he had already known what I had just admitted to myself inside the timeship on the way back to the year 3000 after Wes had tricked us.
My heart didn't belong to him anymore. It belonged to Wes, and only to Wes. So I broke the last chain that bound me to Alex. He didn't look surprised when I took off his ring and gave it back to him. I guess he knew it was going to happen. Without any further ado, he stepped out of our way, telling us to take the Megazord. Later, he told me that he knew it was the right thing to do because nothing would have stopped me, but his eyes betrayed him. It had been a last act of love, a sign that he still cared for me and loved enough to let me go.
All the way back to 2001 I prayed we would arrive in time to help Wes. I knew, I'd never forgive myself if we had come too late to save him… in that case, I would have killed Ransik with my own bare hands or maybe with a very, very dull tool, preferably a spoon. I'd have taken my time and enjoyed every second of it.
(Un-) Fortunately we arrived in the nick of time. The look on Wes' face was priceless when we came down the street to meet up with him. We were the last people he'd expected to see, or to see us ever again at all. To be honest, I never expected to see him again. It was hard not to hug and kiss him there and then. But it was not the time nor the place.
When it all was over, when we had won the battle and arrested Ransik again, once again my mind became a total mess. It had been something I had waited for so long and yet all I felt was … sadness. We had just won the world's biggest and most important battle… but I felt like I had lost everything. Our victory meant that we would return to the future for good… and Wes would stay in the year 2001, which meant we'd never see each other again. Never. It hurt so much that I sucessfully pushed it away. During the days I worked so hard on helping to repair the damage done during the battle that I fell into a dreamless sleep the moment my head hit the pillow.
As hard as I tried to deny it, the day of our departure drew closer and closer. And then…it was there, and I was cursing myself. Instead of spending quality moments with Wes and tell him how I felt, I had wasted precious time. The pain I had been fighting down hit me full force when we arrived at the beach where the time ship was waiting. Mr. Collins, Eric and the Silver Guardians were there too, but all I remember was seeing Wes. He tried to hide his feelings, but during the months we had spent with him, we had all learned to read him like a book… especially Trip and me. Even from a distance, I could see the pain in his eyes. It was the same pain I had seen that very morning when I had looked into the mirror.
My heart broke when he said goodbye to the others. Then the remains of it were completely shattered when my turn came. I felt as if I was going to faint any moment. A heavy weight seemed to lie on my chest, making it diffcult for me to breathe. I tried so hard to keep control, but my hands began to tremble when I reached for my Time Force badge and gave it to him. Hopefully he didn't notice it when our hands touched at that. For just one moment I felt the urge to hold onto his hand and never let go or pull him with me, but I had to resist it. So I just tried to memorize the feeling of his skin against mine. His hand was so strong… and yet so soft, like silk. Very different from Alex's hand. The feeling send chills down my spine, but even moreso when I asked him not to forget me and he answered he never could. I looked at him one more time, and the look in his eyes almost killed me. Quickly I turned around and began walking to the ship, when it suddenly struck me.
I hadn't told him. Until this moment I hadn't told how I felt for him. For days I had been meaning to, but always put it off until the next day. But now, there wouldn't be a next day with Wes. Knowing this moment was my last and only chance to tell him, I turned and threw myself into his arms.
Chills ran down my spine when his arms encircled me. All time we worked and lived together, we touched each other occasionally, but it never felt like this embrace did. It was so warm and wonderful, yet it felt like someone was driving a white-hot, dull knife through my chest. Still, I managed to bring out the three words that I had only said to Alex to before. But he never answered them the way Wes did.
I love you too. I wish I could live another thousand years so we could be together again.
What sweeter declaration of love could a girl wish for? As long as I live, I'll never forget those words. For one last time I hugged him… and then did the hardest thing in my life by walking away from him and to the Time Ship. Nothing I have ever experienced, not even seeing Alex being struck by Ransik, can compare to what I felt the second I was teleported into the ship. My knees went weak and suddenly I found myself on the cold floor, tears streaming down my face.
I don't remember much after that except somebody –Katie, most likely- pulling me up and placing me onto one of the chairs, and then waking up in the year 3000. This time, we were greeted by Captain Logan instead of Alex. To me that was a blessing. Seeing his –Wes'- face would have been more than I could bear at that moment. Not that would have mattered anyway. I expected to be taken to memory adaptation to get the year 2001 –and the love of my life with it- completely erased from my memory. Much to my surprise, I welcomed the thought. Never knowing he existed was better than living without Wes, or so I thought. But fortunately, fate had a different plan for me in store. Alex and the Captain seemed to have pulled some strings and called in a few favors to prevent us from having to go through the adaptation process, but whatever they did, it worked. Lucas, Trip, Katie and I could return to our quarters with fully intact memories of the past.
The next few days were pure hell for me. Whenever I woke up and looked around my bedroom, I expected to be in the dusty old clock tower again and see Wes sleeping only a few feet away from me, only to find myself all alone in my small, clean and suddenly very cold apartment. Everything seemed cold to me, and so lonely. It didn't feel like my home anymore. I had no more connections to this time, except for Katie, Trip and Lucas. My brain told me I belonged there, but my heart… my heart told me different. It kept on telling me I belonged to the 21st century, to him. Back then, thinking about Wes hurt me incredibly.
Sometimes I thought it really would have been easier to go through Memory Adaptation to take away the pain. But that would have meant running away from it. And that was something I hadn't ever done before and never will do in my life. Wes had wanted me to go on with my life, and I didn't want to let him down.
Two weeks after our return, I reported back for duty. It felt very strange to be back in my old office. It was even stranger getting used to all the technology again. In our odd jobs office, all we had was a telephone and a calculator. And now… I remember jumping in my chair when the video phone went off for the first time.
Though, the technology wasn't the worst problem I had. There was another thing lying heavy on my heart: Alex. I was scared about meeting him again. Not only because of the way we broke up, but also because I knew just looking at him would make me remember Wes, and would open the wound just beginning to heal. So I tried to stay clear of him, but since we worked in the same department, that was impossible. When we met in the hallways or in the Mess Hall, we greeted each other with small nods or a quick "hello" and when we had to talk about "business matters", we made it as short as possible.
About six weeks after our return neither of us could stand it any longer. There was too much left unsaid between us; too many stones lying in our now separate ways; stones that had to be removed before we really could go on with our lives. So I wasn't surprised when Alex came up to me one day and asked me for a talk.
We went to the small café where we used to spend some of our lunchbreaks together. At first we sat there in silence, until Alex began to talk. He told me everything, from the moment he woke up in hospital to his arrival in Silver Hills, especially why treated Wes the way he did.
Alex had been jealous and afraid. Afraid he might lose not only his position as the Red Ranger to Wes, but also me. When Wes had sent us back and Alex and I had our discussion in the Memory Adaptation department, he realized his fears had come true. That was why he didn't try to stop us. He knew his only chance not loose me completely was letting me go and save Wes.
I saw the hurt in his eyes while he talked, and I knew he'd be hurt even more by what I would tell him, but there was no way around it. I had to tell Alex the truth, he deserved no less. So, when he was done, I told him my side of the story.
I told him how how scared and angry I was that he had put his life on the line to catch Ransik again… and how I ashamed I was that he had to because of my failure. It was like reliving it all again. Talking about it made me feel the pain of seeing him going down and the confusion of adjusting to a time I only knew from my history classes. I relived the fear and worry of not being able to catch Ransik, the relief of seeing Alex alive and well and the pain that he couldn't and didn't want to trust me, but most of all…
…the love I had found with Wes. There it was again, the stabbing pain I had managed to push away. I wasn't even aware that I had started crying until Alex gave me a tissue. When I wanted to thank him, I looked into his eyes and was surprised to see my own pain and tears mirrored his eyes. For one second I was totally stunned. It showed me a side of Alex I had never seen before. It was neither the old nor the new nor "my" Alex. I think that for the first time in years and only for me the real Alex broke through the hard shell he'd been hiding behind. A man who reminded me so much of Wes with just one look…
He reached over to take my hand and suddenly, he did something I had never expected. He apologized for everything he had done and hurt me with. He had never intended to do so –something I had already known- but just as for me the situation had just been too much for him to handle. But there was one major difference… I had Wes, Katie, Lucas and Trip to help me over it… Alex had been all alone. No surprise he had become so bitter.
I squeezed his hand and apologized myself for leaving him alone and not staying with him like I should have done. But he assured me that I didn't have another choice back then. Just as it had been his destiny to be attacked by Ransik it had been mine to catch him… and to meet Wes. I began to wonder how much more Alex knew about my destiny, but before I could ask him, he told me that he still loved me and always would. Yet he knew there was no chance for us to go back how things had been before Ransik destroyed our dreams.
All I could do was agree with him. With Wes standing between us, and the fact that we had grown apart, there was no way back. The realization didn't hurt me at all. Rather the opposite, I felt relieved about it. Alex swallowed and then he asked if I could imagine us starting over again as friends. No more, no less, just good friends. That what the best thing we both could hope for. So I agreed. We shook hands on it and sat there for another ten or so minutes until Alex had to leave. He looked at me and thanked me for giving him the best two years of his life and asked me to never forget him or how much I'd mean to him, no matter what. I didn't know what he meant by that when he walked out of the door…
…and out of my life. A few days later, when I came to work I knew something had happened. There was an unusual atmosphere. Something was different, though I didn't know what until I entered my office and found the envelope on my desk. Of course I recognized Alex' neat handwriting on it at once and opened it. The letter inside brought tears to my eyes.
Alex was gone. He had requested a transfer to another unit, far away from the Time Force headquarters and me, and it had been granted. To him it was the only way of saving both of us from more heartbreak than we were already suffering from. He had seen how hard it was for me to look at him and not think of Wes, just as hard as it was for him to see me and think about what could have been. Now I understood what he said to me back in the café. It had been his way of saying goodbye to me. He didn't leave any address I could send a reply to, stating that in a few months I would not be able to contact him anymore because my destiny would unfold. Another of his mystery hints.
The next few months were long and difficult for me. I had been over the fact that I'd never see Wes again. But that didn't mean that it made me forget him or love him less. That will never happen. During the real bad days when I missed him so much that I wanted to cry, I took out the polaroid I had snatched while we'd been packing our stuff and traced his face with my fingers. It was the only picture I had of him and me and my greatest treasure. It had been taken the day Trip had found the old camera and he and the other three started snapping pictures like crazy. Wes became a bit frisky, suddenly kissed me on the cheek and Lucas took a picture of it. The same picture I will always carry with me.
It was on one of my worse days, when Katie suddenly came into my office. She told me that Captain Logan wanted to see me for an important briefing. Little did I know what it would lead to. As usual, Logan got straight to the point and told he had a special assignment for me. Three mutants had managed to slip through our net and were running wild. Since they were considered as extremely dangerous, Logan only wanted the best after them: me.
I didn't really think twice about this mission. I needed a new challenge and I thought it would help me taking my thoughts off Wes for a while. How wrong I was.
Logan gave me all the data he had, which was very little. So I began to gather as much information as I could. It was hard work to find any traces of them. I followed those mutants all through the country, until they suddenly vanished. For weeks I couldn't find any hint of where they could be. But then, just as I was about to give up and start from scratch, I went to a place calling itself a bar –a dirty, old fleapit to the rest of society. It was a meeting point for the less-respectable part of the population. There I heard this rumor about the three mutants having fled to the past. I remembered the old speech that there would a spark of truth in every rumor, so I decided to investigate a little further. I began checking the Time Force databases and soon found what I had been looking for.
The fugitives had gone to a time I was a bit familiar with… the 21st century, the year 2002 to be exact. I knew I had to act quickly. Captain Logan had insured that I had all the equipment I'd need to do my job, so I boarded the Time Ship and left the year 3001.
The feeling when I finally arrived was amazing. For the first time in fifteen months I felt like I had come home, though I couldn't enjoy it too much. The first thing I did was getting regional and national newspapers. And that was my mistake.
Among the newspapers was the Turle Cove Gazette. It gave me a bittersweet pang as I remembered that Turtle Cove was a suburb to a town I knew too well: Silver Hills. I bit all the feelings down and tried to concentrate on my task when I found an article that made my heart bleed. It was an interview with the commanders of the Silver Guardians. Eric Myers and Wesley Collins. I barely read any of it, I couldn't take my eyes of Wes' photo. He looked so silly with the beret… and his eyes looked so sad, even in the picture.
The next morning when I went to get some supplies I saw this telephone booth and couldn't stand it any longer. I went in and dialed the number of the Silver Guardians HQ and asked the dispatcher to put me through to Wes. It took only a few but agonizing seconds until the sweetest sound I'd ever heard from the other end of the line. Wes' voice made my knees go weak. I racked my brain for things to say… only to just listen to his voice asking me to speak before I hung up the receiver on him. Tears were running down my face and clouding my vision. I had wanted to talk to him so bad, but I just couldn't. I knew what consequences it would have. It would cause both of us even more pain and heartache. So I went back to my hiding place and concentrated on my search.
At least, I did until I stumbled across something on my third day in the year 2002. I had finally managed to trace the fugitives, the mutorgs as they were called, according to my data, and found out about their plans… unfortunately they almost found out about me. Literally at the last second I got away. But I had what I needed. Now I had find when, where and how they'd strike.
So I tried to contact Time Force databases again and checked for old newspaper articles… and then I found the one that made my blood freeze.
Silver Guardians' Commander killed by mutants
To my shame I prayed it would be Eric, but my prayers weren't heard. If I didn't do something, Wes would die the next day. Now my heart finally took control of me. I didn't know what it would be, but I knew I would do anything necessary to save Wes. I knew where and when he'd die. So I took the sniper rifle from my equipment and made my way there.
I arrived just in time to see Wes falling and demorphing and the mutorg raising it's sword. For one moment, I saw Alex being struck down by Ransik again, and I was determined not to let the same thing happen to Wes. Thanks to Alex' training, I had become quite a good sniper… as the mutant found out just a few seconds before it could kill Wes.
The look on Wes face when he saw me was priceless… if the situation had been different I would have laughed about it, but it was neither the time nor the place. I had to get Wes, Eric and the new Rangers to safety. Once we were out of the danger zone, Cole, the Red Wild Force Ranger, suggested that we should go to their base of operations, the Animarium. And so we did.
When we arrived, Wes took me aside for a talk. I can never forgive myself for the pain in his eyes when I told him that I had already been in the present for a week without contacting him. (Un-) Fortunately Princess Shayla interrupted us before I could give him an answer.
Wes was so mad. He looked like he was going for her throat any second. But that changed quickly when she announced that Circuit was contacting us. Better still, Circuit had good news. The others were coming to help us. I looked at Wes and saw him smile… and for the first time in fifteen months I could smile too.
I felt even happier to be back in the place where we first landed and to see Lucas, Trip and Katie rushing towards us. It was a great feeling, having all my friends and the man I love back together in the same time and place, but I couldn't enjoy it for long. It ended when I saw Ransik. If the others hadn't held me back… he'd be a very dead mutant now.
But this is all forgotten now. I have managed to make my peace with Ransik, partly because I owe something to him. Because without him, I'd never have met the man who is looking with so much love right now. It sends a shiver down my spine despite the blanket Wes and I share and despite fire we're sitting at.
Never before in my life have I felt more happy and safer than now. Or even more at home. Wes puts his arm around me and pulls me close. I rest my head on his chest and close my eyes listening to his heartbeat.
The sky could come crashing down on me and I couldn't care less, because I'm with the people I love, nestled in Wes' arms. Wes… the man who had been a spark in the darkest time of my life and made it brighter than it has ever been, who made me believe in miracles again. If anybody had told me two years ago that I would find my future in the past …
My future… I don't know what it will bring. If we don't succeed tomorrow, it will be our end, but at least I'll die as happy because Wes will be there with me. If we succeed… this would be worse for me than death. Because that would mean that I have to return to the year 3001 and be without him again. And I know I can't go through this again.
I forget all these thoughts the moments Wes' lips touch my hair and he pulls me closer to his chest. All my fears and worries slowly fade into the darkness and are replaced by another feeling.
The feeling of finally being home again.