Disclaimer: Carlos and the Space teens as we know them belong to Saban. Some of the Space teens, and other random stuff, was cooked up in the warzone that is my imagination. However, I should mention that the name Paige Fox is taken from Bill Amend's wonderful comic strip FoxTrot. I rate this PG-13 for sexual, uh, stuff. More than innuendo, but not very blatant.

Ebony and Onyx
By Jeremy Ray Logsdon

As the black light floated away from Carlos' vision, he found himself in the MegaLobby. The six Space Rangers had just successfully destroyed one of Astronema's monsters, and Carlos found he was still bubbling over with adrenaline. A successful victory was always a catalyst for a nice, hard workout.

"I'm gonna go hit the gym," Carlos said, turning to his companions. Zhane was always up for a good workout, working out more than the rest of the group put together. "Zhane, you wanna come with?"

"Yeah, I think I will," Zhane answered.

Carlos turned to the Silver Ranger, and for a brief moment, complete and total confusion washed over him. Taking a second look didn't help. The Silver Ranger was still morphed, and the armor was decidedly female. Zhane was considerably shorter, and… well, female. "Zhane?!" Carlos blurted out.

Red light flickered to his right, and Carlos spun just in time to see the Red Space Ranger demorph. Zhane was standing there, not the Andros that he had been expecting. "Yeah?" Zhane asked.

"But-," Carlos stammered, pointing at the Silver Ranger.

The Silver Ranger removed her helmet, revealing a beautiful face and chin-length blonde hair. "Carlos?" Karone asked curiously. She demorphed quickly, the armor melting away from her body and the helmet disappearing from her hands.

"What's going on?" Carlos asked in confusion.

"When did you change your suit, Carlos?" Karone asked.

He looked down at himself, feeling the overwhelming confusion continue to build and build. He looked normal. He was wearing the silver jacket and pants with a black undershirt. A quick glance at Karone revealed she was wearing the EXACT same outfit. He turned to Zhane, seeing that he was wearing red pants, a red jacket, and a black undershirt.

"BETSY, is Carlos okay?" Zhane asked.

A soothing, female voice that was not DECA sounded through the intercom system. "I am not detecting any abnormalities in the Black Lightstar Ranger," the voice said calmly.

"That isn't DECA," Carlos said through clenched teeth. "And I'm not a Lightstar Ranger, I'm a Space Ranger."

"I am BETSY, Carlos," the female voice said. This female sounded more mature than DECA.

Cassie, still morphed as the Pink Ranger, approached Carlos. Halfway over to him, her armor faded away in pink light, and Carlos quickly realized that this was not Cassie. She was a beautiful white girl with flowing chestnut brown hair, wearing, as per Zhane, a pink jacket, pink pants, and a black undershirt. "Honey," the mysterious Pink Ranger said, wrapping her arms around Carlos' shoulders, "are you okay?"

"Honey?" Carlos asked.

"Did you take a hard hit during the fight or something?" she asked, gently caressing his face.

"Who are you?" he asked, not making a move to back out of her secure arms. Even if he didn't know her, it still felt nice to have someone touching you with the familiar comfort of a loved one.

"Paige," she said, slowly backing way. A more than slightly hurt look crossed her face, but she answered him anyway. "Paige Fox. Your girlfriend."

"Ashley? TJ? Where's Andros?" Carlos asked nervously.

"Andros?" Karone asked, stiffening visibly. Wincing noticeably, she answered, "You mean Andromedus. He's returned to Lord Zedd's service."

"Lord Zedd?!" Carlos cried. "What about Dark Spectre!"

"Dark who?" Zhane asked.

In yellow and blue flashes of light, the two remaining Rangers demorphed. Carlos' heart sank, but he wasn't really surprised that they weren't TJ and Ashley. "And who are you?" he managed to choke out. Likewise, they were dressed in the "alternate" uniform. Their Ranger color was the main color of their outfit, while their shirt was black.

The Blue Ranger was no longer a tall black man. Now, he was an Asian man. "Mitch Asari," the Blue Ranger said calmly.

Gone was Ashley Hammond, one of Carlos' oldest friends. Instead, he was greeted to a very attractive black woman. She was wearing thin braids that just barely touched her shoulders. "Larissa Payton," she said in a painful voice. "We've lived next door to each other our entire lives, Carlos."

"Am I still Carlos Vargas?" he asked nervously, genuinely afraid of the answer.

"Carlos Robert Vargas," Larissa answered. "Son of Michael and Daniella. Three sisters, Julia, Linda, and Stacey."

"Yeah," he said gratefully. At least SOMETHING was right in this dimension.

"And four brothers, Angel, Stephen, Frederick, and Gregory."

"I don't have any brothers," Carlos spat out. "Just three sisters." He turned from the room, darting into the hallway. "Where's Alpha?!"

"Alpha?" Zhane asked, following him. "Carlos, what is wrong?"

"I don't know," Carlos snarled. "Alpha, our on-board robot. We brought him with us when we came to space."

"Carlos, we brought Omega Four with us to space," Larissa said, pointing behind Carlos.

He turned and found himself face-to-sensory orb with a seven-foot tall black robot. The top two feet of the robot was a clear glass ball, filled with various sensory equipment. The body was designed for locomotion only, and rather than have legs like Alpha Six, this robot rolled around on a giant tread. Two long arms, which ended in pinchers, stuck out from the sides. A deep booming voice from deep inside Omega Four asked, "Carlos?"

"You aren't Alpha," Carlos muttered, backing away.

"No, Carlos, I am not," Omega answered in his booming "James Earl Jones" voice. "I am Omega Four, the fourth of the Omega Line from Edenoi."

"I'm gonna go rest," Carlos groaned, holding his head.

"What do you think happened to him?" Karone asked, looking at her teammates.

"I'll go talk to him," Paige said, hurrying off after her boyfriend.

Carlos stepped into his room, pausing. This wasn't the room he was expecting. Instead of the lone bunk he was hoping to lie down on, he saw a double bed. No longer was it decorated in just black; now, it was black and pink.

"Carlos?" Paige asked, stepping into the room. "Door close."

The door slid shut behind her, leaving them alone in the room. "Paige?" he asked. "That's your name, right?"

"Honey, what has happened to you?" Paige asked, stepping closer to him. She reached out a comforting arm to touch him, but he flinched away. A pained look crossed her face again, and Carlos realized with regret that he had just hurt her feelings.

"Are you my girlfriend?" Carlos asked.

Paige nodded in reply.

"We share this room, don't we," he continued, although this time, it wasn't a question.

"Yeah," she said, taking him by the elbow. She walked him over to the bed and sat down, pulling him down beside her. "Carlos, you looked surprised to see us. Why?"

He was silent for a few moments. "Things aren't the way they should be," he answered. "After I teleported here from the fight, everything has just been WRONG."

Paige leaned over to Carlos, and he suddenly realized she was about to kiss him. Her soft lips touched his, and he responded, kissing her back earnestly. However, Paige suddenly pulled back. Carlos had responded to the kiss, but he had not responded to her. It was like he had just kissed a stranger.

"You really don't know me anymore, do you?" she asked. She was trying to look brave, but the hurt look on her face was undeniable.

"I'm not sure I ever did," he told her.

"Tell me what you expected to see, Carlos," Paige told him. "You said it was wrong; tell me what it would have been like if it had been right."

"Andros is the Red Space Ranger," Carlos said. "Zhane is Silver, and Karone is Astronema, the Princess of Evil who just recently defected back to Dark Spectre. The Pink Space Ranger was Cassie Chan, an Asian American. TJ Andrews was Blue, a bald African American. And Ashley Hammond, a white girl, was Yellow. I don't know Mitch or Larissa… or you, for that matter. We don't have an Omega Four. We have an Alpha Six who looks completely different. And we don't have a BETSY either. We have a DECA. And our uniforms look different. They look like mine; our Ranger color is our undershirt."

"I don't know a Cassie, TJ, or Ashley," Paige told him. "Me, you, Mitch, and Larissa were the Turbo Rangers with a guy named-"


"No, Billy Cranston, a teenager. He became Blue Turbo after taking a hiatus from being a Power Ranger."

"We had a kid named Justin Stewart," Carlos sighed.

"Well, anyway, Billy stayed on Earth for a very complex reason, and we came to space to rescue Dimitria after she was kidnapped by Lord Zedd."

"We came to space to rescue Zordon after he was kidnapped by Dark Spectre."

"I don't know Zordon," Paige told him. "Do… You don't remember anything? About us?"

"I'm sorry, but I don't," Carlos apologized. Smiling, he said, in the best humor he could manage, "I wish I did." (You're beautiful…)

When he looked her in the face again, he thought her lower lip was trembling, just a bit. "You don't even remember our first time?" she asked softly. "We had just turned you back human from when you became the Barillian Bug, and I had been so afraid you were going to die on me… I had candles all over the room, silk sheets on your bed… You don't remember?"

"Paige, I'm still a virgin," Carlos admitted. "I've never even had a serious girlfriend before."

"Carlos, what has happened to you?" Paige sighed unhappily, gently touching his face.

"My entire world has changed," he answered.

"It's one thing to have just forgotten us," Mitch said to Larissa, Zhane, and Karone. "That's no big thing, just simple amnesia. But it's another thing ENTIRELY to have an alternate memory develop in the matter of just… well, a millisecond. Before we teleported away, he knew who we were."

"That's right," Larissa agreed. "He said my name in the Zord cockpit."

"When we arrived, he didn't know who we were, and Zhane was supposed to be Silver," Mitch said. "BETSY?"

"Yes, Mitchell."

"Please scan Earth for the names TJ Andrews, Ashley Hammond, and Cassie Chan," Mitch called out. "Check fictional sources, first."

"Fiction?" Karone asked.

"Yeah, it's possible that these three people are fictional characters from a book he has just read or something," Mitch theorized. "That would at least explain why these false characters have taken our place in his mind."

"BETSY, scan for Astronema, too," Karone offered. She glanced at Mitch and said, "Remember, that's who he said I was."

"No fictional matches for the four names found," BETSY answered.

"Scan living people," Mitch ordered.

BETSY took no more than a brief moment to say, "Three matches found.

"TJ Andrews, residence in Stone Canyon, California.

"Ashley Hammond, residence in Silver Falls, California.

"Cassie Chan, residence in Stone Canyon, California."

"Bring up pictures!" Mitch cried, jumping to his feet. "Omega!"

"Here you are, Mitch," Omega boomed as he rolled up to the four Rangers. In his hands were three 8×10 photographs.

"I wonder how he knows these people," Larissa mused, looking at the photos over Mitch's shoulder.

"You guys, we're forgetting one thing," Karone said. "He came out of his armor different than he went in. He was wearing a uniform like mine. Even if he does have false memories…"

"That occurred to me as well," Mitch told her. "Which is why I think this is a trick by Andromedus. I think he's altered Carlos' memory some how, changed the outfit just to throw us off course, and with a team not quite as united as before…"

"The Prince of Evil reigns supreme," Larissa finished wryly.

"BETSY, call for Carlos," Zhane requested. To his teammates, he said, "Maybe these photos will trigger… something."

A few moments later, Carlos, followed by a weak-looking Paige, entered the room.

"Are these your friends?" Mitch asked, holding up the photos. It felt so strange to say such things to Carlos, the same Carlos he had known since he was 12.

"Yeah," Carlos said simply. "That's them. It's so weird… Just a few hours ago, I was with them. And now, all I have is a picture."

Larissa suddenly got up from the table and bolted from the room. Carlos turned, seeing that Paige was no longer standing in the doorframe.

"I have a question," Carlos said. "What does Andromedus look like?"

"Paige, let me in or I'm teleporting in," Larissa threatened from the hallway-side of the Pink and Black Rangers' room.

"Door open," Paige said weakly. The door slid open to allow the Yellow Ranger in, and promptly closed behind her.

"Paige," Larissa said sympathetically, sitting down beside her.

"He doesn't know who I am!" Paige cried, swiping at her tear-stained cheeks. "He looks at me like I'm a total stranger. I kissed him, and… there wasn't anything there. It's like he's died or something."

"This is just temporary," Larissa told her. She reached out and pulled the girl into her arms, letting Paige cry on her shoulder. "We're going to get his memory back, I promise. Mitch is a genius; you know that he can do it."

"I know," Paige sniffled.

"That's Andros?" Carlos asked, his eyebrows raised.

The still image on the screen before them showed the young man who should have been, from Carlos' perspective, the Red Space Ranger. Instead, he was wearing a black leather bodysuit. There was makeup along both sides of his neck, designed to look like flames that stopped at the edge of his cheeks. His hair was short, spiky, and colored purple, as were both of his irises.

"Andromedus," Karone corrected him. She reached out and typed in a quick command, and the image changed to the young man that looked like Andros. "THIS is Andros."

"That's the guy I remember," Carlos said.

"He was kidnapped when we were very young by Goldar," Karone said. "He was raised for evil…"

"As I remember it, you were raised for evil," Carlos told her. "You were a sorceress named Astronema."

"Why are you remembering stuff that never happened?" Karone asked gently.

"I think I'm living stuff that never happened," Carlos challenged truthfully. "There's no way my life could be this different and I'm just NOW noticing."

"Carlos, even if you really don't remember… could you try pretending around Paige?" Karone asked hopefully. "You are absolutely breaking her heart here-"

"I don't even KNOW her," Carlos snapped. "She's a total stranger to me! Everyone except you and Zhane, I've never seen any of the Rangers in my life!"

"I want to talk to you, 'Los," Paige said, stepping into the room.

"Paige," Carlos said hurriedly, jumping to his feet. "You didn't-"

"Yeah, I heard," she said with cold indifference. "Come with me. I wanna try something."

"Okay," he agreed with a sigh. "Where are we going?"

"To our room," she said, walking with him down the hallways of the MegaShip. "You know how I keep a diary?"

"No," he answered quickly.

"Well, I keep a diary," she said. "Its a technology that we don't have on Earth. I can record my memories in their purest form. I can either then have BETSY convert them to text form, like a real diary, or I can relive them later. Obviously, I don't keep my bad entries in any form except text. But my best entries…"

"You're going to show me your diary?" Carlos asked.

"We're going to relive one of my favorite memories," Paige told him. "Have you ever done that before?"

"No," he said. "I've never heard of that technology."

"Once the entry starts, you'll be locked in," she said. "It only takes like a minute in real time, no matter how long the actual diary entry is. You'll just be an observer, actually, although you will feel and experience what you felt and experienced at the time I recorded it. Are you okay with that?"

"Sure," he said with a shrug.

A few moments later, Carlos and Paige were sitting in two chairs next to a silver panel on the wall in their room. Paige attached an electrode to his temples, and then sat down, connecting her own electrodes. "Are you ready?" she asked.

"Ready," he said with a nod.

"Here it goes," she said, reaching over to press a button. Carlos felt a sudden surge of adrenaline, and then, it was starting.

Paige Fox, Diary Entry May 2, 1998

"I was afraid I was going to lose you," Paige sighed, hugging Carlos tightly.

"I'm too stubborn to die," he told her with a smile.

"It made me realize something," Paige started. "We're fighting a fight that's… well, it's a war. And any one of us could die at any time. So if there is something that we want to do someday, we had better do it now while we know that we can."

"What do you mean?" Carlos asked.

Paige stretched up to him, brushing her lips against his. He reacted quickly, moving his head slightly. He extended the tip of his tongue, tracing around her lips. "Make love to me, Carlos," she whispered against him.

She shrugged out of her pink jacket, and with a bit of prodding, Carlos pulled her black shirt up over her head. He swallowed hard, feeling an uneasy mixture of euphoria and nervousness. He started to reach out to touch her, but she interrupted him, pushing his own black jacket off. He quickly stripped out of his black shirt, stooping down a bit and pulling her tightly against him.

He lifted one hand up to their side, gently trailing his fingertips along the joined crevice of their bodies. "Only if you'll make love to me," he whispered back.

An impossible-to-measure amount of time later, Carlos and Paige were resting together beneath the warm covers of his single bed. Carlos brushed a silky strand of hair out of her face, smiling warmly up at her. "This has been the best day of my life," he murmured sheepishly, smiling like a little boy.

End Diary Log

Carlos found himself breathing heavily as the diary sequence ended. His body still tingled a bit, and he exhaled heavily, running a hand through his slightly sweaty hair.

"Well?" Paige panted, removing the electrodes from her temples.

The Black Ranger took a deep breath, sitting up a bit and shifting in his seat. He thought for a moment, and then said, "The Carlos you remember really loved you. A lot."

"You don't remember," Paige said, a bit of anger in her voice.

"No," Carlos admitted. "I'm sorry, but I'm just not the man you're looking for."

"Isn't that just SWELL?" Paige asked sarcastically, standing up. She stomped out of the room, leaving him alone with some very warm, but titillating memories.

"Carlos?" Mitch asked hopefully as Carlos stepped out of his bedroom. The Black Ranger had changed into a different outfit; he was now wearing the black pants, black shirt, and black jacket that he had always worn onboard the MegaShip instead of the mysterious grey outfit he had demorphed in.

"Not the one you're looking for," Carlos said, walking with him down the hallway.

"Why'd you change?" Mitch inquired.

"Uhm… I had my reasons," Carlos said, skirting the question. "You're… Asari?"

"Mitch," the Blue Ranger said, nonplussed. "Asari's my last name."


"It's okay," Mitch told him. "I'm not taking this personally like Paige."

"She has good reason," Carlos decided. "She just shared something with me that she really probably wishes she hadn't."

"We're gonna figure this out, Carlos," Mitch promised him, changing the subject.

"If you figure this out, then you're all going to not exist anymore," Carlos told him.

"No," Mitch said with certainty. "That's not true."

"It has to be true," Carlos said. "The only thing I can know is my perceptions, so… you all can't exist."

"Or your other friends won't exist."

"Don't say that," Carlos warned in a stern voice. "Three of you are total strangers to me. I have no qualms at all in not liking you."

"I'm sorry you feel that w-," Mitch started, but Carlos interrupted.

"No, I'm sorry; I don't mean to be rude," Carlos apologized. "I'm just more scared than I've ever been in my life."

"Carlos is in my room, I'll be sleeping with Paige tonight," Larissa said to Zhane's unasked question.

"The most easily explained scenario is some kind of very bizarre spell from Andromedus," Mitch said. "But there are snags. Andromedus wouldn't have taken measures to make Carlos forget himself, and he certainly wouldn't have planted a memory of himself being the Red Ranger."

"Is it possible this is a weird case of amnesia?" Zhane inquired.

"Anything's possible," Mitch told him. "It's just VERY unlikely. Amnesia usually places a person in the past mentally, it doesn't change their present."

"We're overlooking the most obvious answer," Larissa said. "At least, from a science fiction point of view."

"Yes?" Mitch asked.

"We somehow got a Carlos from another dimension," Larissa theorized.

"And our Carlos would be in his place," Mitch finished.

"That's what I'm placing my money on," Larissa said firmly.

"Traveling the dimensions without magic is nearly impossible," Mitch sighed. "And a teleport is science."

"Let's assume there is another dimension," Karone said, thinking out loud. "Maybe his villain, this Astronema, did something. Andromedus wouldn't have had to do a thing. He might be completely ignorant of this."

"Maybe we can find out in our next battle," Zhane said. "Andromedus is a braggart; if he is responsible, we'll find out."

"We have to get our Carlos back," Larissa said, nodding slowly. "And the only way we have a chance is to figure out what has gone wrong."

"Can you imagine scary this must be for him?" Karone asked. "To just… take off your helmet one day, and… nothing is the same."

"He's taking this better than I would," Mitch sighed, leaning back in his chair.

"I'm going to go to bed," Larissa announced.

"I think we all should," Zhane decided. "We'll talk about it again in the morning."

"Mitch?" Carlos asked, creeping into the room.

"Good, you got my page," Mitch said. "Come in; I think I've figured out what happened."

"Do tell," Carlos said, sitting down beside him.

"Once we assumed that you are from a different dimension, it actually became pretty simple," Mitch told him. "BETSY?" A holographic screen appeared before Carlos. The blackness was quickly replace with an image of space.

"We know that whatever happened happened during your teleport," Mitch said. A sector of space, connecting the planet Ephron and the MegaShip, was suddenly circled with a red line. "Somewhere in this area, you and our Carlos crossed the dimensional barrier. That made things a lot simpler. Two thousand miles long, give or take, and only thirty inches wide… Well, it was easy to scan. And I found something, right here."

The image suddenly changed as the "view" zoomed in on one small section. "BETSY, switch to Infrared."

The colors shifted, and a small tear, visible as a gaping, red maw, was suddenly visible. "Right here," Mitch said, pointing at the holographic image with his index finger. "Totally stable. It's probably been there for… well, since the creation of the universe."

"A natural wormhole?"

"Not really. I tried to send a probe through it, and it wouldn't go through. It acts like an ordinary wrinkle in the fabric of space. Cosmic turbulence, if you will. A wrinkle that small wouldn't even make an iota of difference on a large ship. But a teleport… energy-based… you just got sucked through. On your side, of course."

"Don't you think the odds that me and the other Carlos were teleporting by the same spot at the same time are more than just a little bit… phenomenal?"

"Oh, absolutely," Mitch agreed. "I tried to teleport a probe through. It isn't that simple, either."

"But you just said-"

"Lemme finish," Mitch told him. "My theory is that it has to be something remarkably identical on each side of the rip. Probably… 99% identical, or better. You and your dimensional doppelganger, in other words. And, despite the unbelievable odds, the only explanation that I can come up with is that you did both just happen to pass that exactly same spot at the same time. The wrinkle shuffled you up a bit, and you both just crossed over."

"Then I should be able to get home the same way?" Carlos asked hopefully.

"If, and this is a big if, the Carlos of the other dimension- Wait a minute," Mitch said, stopping suddenly.

"What?" Carlos asked.

"BETSY, scan for chronaton particles around that rip," Mitch ordered.

"Yes, Mitchell," BETSY said. A moment later, she announced, "Scan complete."

"Estimate how old you believe that rip to be."

"That spacial rip is approximately fourteen hours old," BETSY reported.

"That's about how long I've been here," Carlos muttered.

"You created that rip yourselves!" Mitch realized, jumping to his feet. "My God, this is incredible! If this is true, then… the only thing you have to do to cross the dimensional barrier is to align two exactly opposites, one on each side, and… well, apply energy I guess, like in your teleport, and they'll switch! This is phenomenal! Up until now, I didn't think it was possible to cross the dimensions without a good dose of magic, but… to travel the dimensions scientifically! It's unbelievable!"

"One question," Carlos interrupted. "How can I get home?"

"Maybe… just maybe…," Mitch thought to himself. "Carlos, is there a specific place on Earth that you go to a lot that your friends would know about?"

"Huh?" Carlos asked.

"A spot that you go to think, or… sleep!" Mitch cried. "BETSY, wake up everybody, set a course for Earth, and teleport Carlos a sheet of paper and a pen!"

"Certainly, Mitchell," BETSY said calmly. Instantly, a legal pad of paper and a black ink pen appeared before Carlos.

"Right down EVERY single place that you spend ANY considerable amount of time," Mitch told him, barely able to keep his excitement in. "And I mean anywhere, school locker, bedroom, anywhere."

"On it," Carlos said eagerly.

"Mitch, why did BETSY just wake us up?" Paige asked, stepping into the conference room.

"We may have a way to switch our Carlos with their Carlos," Mitch said.

"You ever taken a lengthy teleport, Carlos?" Zhane asked.

"The longest teleport I've ever taken was fifteen minutes," Carlos said. "And that was from one side of the galaxy to the other."

"We're going to do a hop-teleport five minutes at a time," Mitch told him again. "You'll spend about a tenth of a second in each spot, in rapid succession. Our hope is that at some point, you'll be aligned with our Carlos, and if so, then… when the teleport is over, you'll be home."

"Go for it," Carlos said, bracing himself. He promptly disappeared in a black streak of light.

"How many places is he teleporting to?" Paige asked, looking at the visual heuristic display on the main screen. Carlos was seen as nothing more than a black dot, blinking at various places all over Angel Grove.

"Dozens," Mitch answered. "School locker, various places in his home, every assigned seat in his classes, and a few places unique to our Carlos. We're hoping that eventually, they'll overlap, and they'll switch."

"Please work," Paige prayed.

"I am so dizzy," Carlos complained, holding his head.

"Here, Carlos," Omega Four boomed as he rolled up to the Black Ranger. He placed a plastic cup before Carlos with a round, red pill in it. "Eat it; you'll feel better."

"Thanks Omega," Carlos said, eagerly taking the medicine.

"Six hours!" Mitch griped, beating his fist against the table. "It should have worked…"

"Guys, this was obviously a once-in-a-lifetime fluke," Paige said sadly. "It won't reverse itself. Carlos, would you please come with me?"

"Sure," he said, just as sadly. Standing, he followed Paige out of the room. "Where are we going?"

"Can you follow my teleport signal?" she asked. "We're going to Earth."

"Yeah," he said, touching his communicator. The two disappeared in twin showers of black and pink sparks.

They appeared at Angel's Peak on the outskirts of Angel Grove. "Angel's Peak?" Carlos asked.

"Yep," Paige said, inhaling deeply. "This is where my Carlos kissed me for the very first time."

Carlos didn't know what to say to that, so he remained silent. Paige, however, wasn't finished.

"I understand that you don't know me," Paige said, "but… you're the closest thing I have to my boyfriend right now. I'm gonna have to accept that he's gone. The only thing that's keeping me sane right now is the knowledge that he is at least safe out there, somewhere."

"I'm very sorry," Carlos said softly.

"I know," Paige said, smiling weakly. She closed her eyes shut tightly for a moment, and then told him, "Even though you aren't my Carlos, can I have one last kiss? Please don't overanalyze me, or anything like that. I just want a kiss. Then, we can start over, from scratch, as friends. Please?"

"Are you sure?" Carlos asked.

"Very sure," Paige said firmly.

Carlos stretched down to Paige and delicately touched his lips to hers. Paige responded in kind; it wasn't a heated kiss. It was nothing more than a delicate, friendly show of love.

Still, the kiss, despite its near platonic nature, sent a chill through Carlos' body. As Paige broke the kiss, he pulled her into a tight hug, pressing his face against her shoulder.

He was suddenly aware of something unexpected. Her hair felt… different. It wasn't curly anymore; it was silky and straight. Carlos jerked back a bit, finding himself still holding the Pink Ranger.

"Cassie?!" he asked in disbelief.

"Carlos?" she asked, genuinely confused. Then, she realized that he was wearing a different outfit. Now, he was clad entirely in black. "Carlos! We never thought we'd see you again!"

"I didn't think I'd ever get home," Carlos sighed. "But I did have a pretty hot girlfriend there."

"You," Cassie chided, slapping him on the arm good-naturedly. "Come on, let's get back to the MegaShip and tell the others."

"I gotta teleport eventually," he agreed. In a hurry, he reached out and touched his communicator before he could chicken out. In a stream of black light, he darted away with Cassie close behind.

As soon as he rematerialized on the bridge of the MegaShip, he saw Ashley and TJ sitting at their consoles. Andros stood at the main engine controls, and Zhane was off in the corner with his feet propped up. "DECA?" Carlos asked hopefully.

"Yes, Carlos," DECA returned.

"I'm back," he said simply.