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Metanoia

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Jason Scott crawled from the fallen remains of Angel Grove High, fingers curling into the cold grass as he pulled himself forward. He struggled to stand, coughing up blood before falling again with a painful groan. With a loud thud, a tall figure landed in front of him, dirt and earth flying into Jason's face at the impact, making him snap his eyes shut as he flinched away.

Lord Zedd towered over Jason, halting the teenage boy in his helpless attempt to drag himself away. Jason gritted his teeth, the sharp pain wrapping itself around his exhausted body, the only thing keeping him from passing out. He clutched at the ground beneath him, forcing himself to keep fighting but knowing it was all for nought as he watched with blurry eyes as Zedd came closer. Lord Zedd grasped onto Jason's hair, forcing him to look at his adversary. Jason gasped at first, but quickly slammed his mouth shut, refusing to allow Zedd to hear it, instead glaring right back at him.

"This place is damned to perish in flames!" The Emperor of Evil roared.

Head lifted by Zedd's grip, another spasm of pain wracked through Jason's body, and a whimper escaped from between his lips. Lord Zedd held him higher still, and Jason could no longer stay silent as a hoarse cry was ripped from him. The earth beneath him barely touched his feet as Lord Zedd held him aloft. Zedd clamped his hand beneath Jason's jaw and the Power Ranger sagged forward as Zedd studied him before releasing his hold. Jason collapsed, the impact with the ground causing only a small wheeze, the throbbing pressure of pain around his lungs leaving him unable to cry out. Lord Zedd rolled Jason over with his foot and watched as the boy's Power Ranger armor dematerialize. He was defenseless.

Lord Zedd turned to see the pink and blue Rangers behind him. They scrambled over the scattered rubble in their haste to get to their leader, various pieces of their own armor fractured and smeared with gore.

Kimberly halted suddenly, jerking Billy's arm urging him to stop. "Jason," she breathed.

Zedd tipped his golden stave toward them. "The reign of Lord Zedd begins anew."

He stormed forward with an inhuman speed that caught Kim and Billy by surprise. Their backs crashed against the ground causing the pair to groan in synch. While distracted, Zedd stomped onto Billy's chest, making him curl up and grip the alien's leg. Immediately, Kim jumped to her feet. She flipped over Zedd, landing behind him with the grace of a one-time cheerleader. She kicked out his leg from under him with all the strength she could muster. But Zedd did not fall, only staggering back a few steps.
Kim and Billy stood side by side, chests heaving together as their lungs burned with exhaustion. Billy grunted as he launched himself at Zedd, slamming his fists against the alien. Kimberly's knee rammed into Zedd's abdomen, and with one swift movement her fist clashed with the underside of his jaw.

Zedd's staff fell from his hold as he stumbled onto his hands and knees. Billy snatched the staff away quickly, watching as Zedd fought to stand. Kim turned to Billy, whose helmet had disappeared. She could see his eyes, glossed over with unshed tears. Carefully, she placed a hand over his own that gripped the staff.

"Together," Kimberly said while she directed the boy's attention from Zedd.

Billy studied the smaller hand that covered his until his eyes trailed up, finally meeting hers. He nodded once before he broke away from her gaze. "Together."

Both held firmly onto the golden staff, driving it into Lord Zedd's chest. He howled in pain, his chest smoldering with an alien energy. Billy and Kimberly watched with a disbelieving fascination at having finally defeated this monster, but the relief didn't last long before a sudden wave of energy burst from Zedd's body, sweeping the Power Rangers back where they landed hard on the ground beneath them. They watched as Zedd caved in on himself, erupting into an inferno before quickly dying out in a bright flash of flames.

Ash fell lightly around them, hazy and dreamlike, the world silent except for their heavy breathing.

They'd done it. They saved Angel Grove once more. Kimberly felt her shoulders sag with relief, and her head fell back as she closed her eyes. Then she suddenly remembered…Jason.

Before she could turn to Billy he was already on his feet. She pushed herself up, following him in his hurried steps. Billy tripped over the rubble of their high school in his haste but Kim was right there to pick him up and together they made their way forward. He seemed like a child to her, a child who had lost his best friend, and it made her heart squeeze painfully.

Billy Cranston stopped, frozen, and stared at Jason's lifeless body. Kim watched, broken-hearted as he dropped to his knees beside their leader – beside their friend. She allowed a shaky breath to escape her lips, feeling the burn of tears as her vision began to blur. Billy shook Jason's limp arm, first softly, then with more desperation, almost as if he hoped Jason would wake from a deep slumber. His dark eyes were frantic when he glanced up at Kimberly, the depths of them begging her for a solution. She swallowed hard when he saw that she had none, and tears began to slip past his chin.

"Zordon can bring him back," Billy said almost demandingly through the tears. "He brought me back. He can bring Jason back too. C'mon."

Kim's hand slid gently over Billy's shoulder in a silent attempt to stop him. She knelt down, trying to hold back the onslaught of emotions. Now wasn't the time. Later, when she was alone. But not now, not when Billy needed her to be strong.

Her vision blurred with unshed tears, "He can't, Billy."

"Please," Billy begged, voice broken and desperate. "Kim, he can't die. We need him."

A moment of silence passed before Kimberly responded. She struggled to keep her voice steady, she felt an urge to curl into herself, but she knew she was Billy's backbone.

"Zordon can't bring him back. He only had one chance and he used it for you. Jason wouldn't have wanted it any other way."

Kimberly tightened her grip on Billy's shoulder when she saw him try to lift Jason. He gave up quickly, falling back onto the ground, wiping angrily at the tears on his face. He suddenly turned then, face buried into Kim's shoulder as he wrapped his arms around her. Kimberly let her helmet fade as they held each other, resting her cheek against him and letting the tide of emotions wash over him. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a pair hurtling through the debris.

Zack and Trini instantly stopped in their tracks when they saw their leader's motionless body cradled in rubble. The two of them regarded Kim who nodded sorrowfully. Things were different now – unknown. But at least they all had each other, and even with the worse, they could get through it together.

The crimson stone that glowed brightly in Jason's palm caught Billy's eye. He picked it up, studying it thoughtfully before handing it Kim. She took it with wary fingers, and drew in a sharp breath of surprise when her armor began to turn scarlet.

"W-what's happening," Kim panicked. "Billy."

"I think... I think the coin chose you to take Jason's place," Billy mused with astonishment.

Kimberly stood with shock. It felt surreal, almost impossible as she peered down at Billy who smiled weakly. She knew she'd never be able to replace Jason, but she would honor him. She swallowed sharply and swore to protect the team Jason sacrificed himself for.
She extended her hand to Billy, and tugged him to his feet, Zack and Trini coming up beside them.

"Let's take him home," Kim ordered softly.