This fanfic takes place after the battle in "Forever Red," and inspired by ChibiDawn23's piece, In a Heartbeat. Carter gives Cole some advice about life and being a ranger.
"That was intense!" Cole declared as he took a huge bite out of his burger. Carter nodded as the rookie red ranger snarfed down his food. After defeating Serpentera, Carter promised to drive Cole back to Turtle Cove. The two had stopped at a diner to grab a bite, and Cole was still hyped from the battle. Cole seemed to have a sort of youthful energy, an innocence to him that other red rangers lacked. Like the rest of his team seemed to have as well, Carter thought.
"Yeah, it was," Carter agreed as took a long sipped of his Dr. Pepper. What I wouldn't give for a glass of something stronger, Carter thought with a sigh. I'm getting damn too old for this.
"How can you be so calm about this? We just fought the last legion of the Machine Empire on the frickin' MOON!" Cole exclaimed. A couple of patrons and waitress glanced at Cole, making Carter glare at Cole to settle down. Cole grinned sheepishly before asking, "Is this just old hat to you after fighting demons?"
"I'm just tired Cole," Carter explained as he tossed a fry into his mouth. "I've been fighting Evil for a while now. First, joining the Marines when I was 18, then becoming a ranger. Between those two, I was a firefighter, and still, am one. I've seen a lot of bad things happen to good people, and now, I'm just want to get home to my wife." Carter raised his left hand and showed Cole the platinum band.
"Oh, I see," Cole mumbled. The two red rangers chewed their food for a bit before Cole perked up. "Do you have a photo of her?" Carter pulled his wallet out and showed Cole a blonde woman in a white doctor's coat.
"Her name is Dana, she was my pink ranger," Carter said proudly. "She's training to be a doctor as well as being pregnant with our first."
"Is it…?" Cole inquired as he handed Carter back Dana's picture.
"A boy," Carter said as he put his wife's picture away. Shifting in his seat, Carter became very serious, "Cole, have thought about what's going to happen when you defeat the… what are they called? Ogres Orcs?"
"Right," Carter replied. "Have you thought about your life after you defeat them? After being a ranger?"
"Umm," Cole mumbled as he set his food down. Sheepishly, "I've never thought about it, actually. Maybe returning to Brazil?"
"Yeah, I grew up in the Amazon with a native tribe because I lost my parents when I was a baby," Cole explained. "I learned English from missionaries as well as reading, writing, math, and science. Though, I'm not sure if I officially completed high school."
"First, your English is great, and you don't have an accent," Carter commented. "Second, you seriously need to think about you're future. Some of the other red rangers didn't, and had a hard time adjusting to civilian life."
"What do you mean?" Cole asked as he took a long sip of his milkshake.
"Okay, when Lightspeed was no longer needed, my team and I had jobs to go back too. I always knew that when the mission was over, I would return to be a firefighter," Carter explained. "But Wes, on the other hand, didn't really have a plan. Most the other red rangers didn't really have plans for what to do when their mission was over. Thankfully Wes's Dad and Eric convinced to join the Silver Guardians."
"Alright, what about the rest of the reds?" asked Cole.
"Leo had a rough time being a civilian. Sure, he's helping with the colony on Mirinoi, but he's missed having a mission. Before the Terra Venture, Leo was a delinquent before joining Navy SEALs, then when he left the Navy, he went back to be a hustler," Carter explained. "When he became a ranger, he spent all his time trying to become a better ranger, that he forgot to plan for the future."
"What does he do now?"
"Officially, he's a teacher with a wife, a daughter, and another baby on the way," Carter said. "But he misses being a ranger. Hell, Andros told me that he thinks Leo was glad that the Machine Empire found Serpentera so he could be the Red Galaxy Ranger again. Apparently, being a ranger is easier for him, than being a civilian," Cole let out a low whistle.
"How does Andros know that?" Cole inquired.
"He's Leo's brother-in-law, Leo is married to Andros's sister, Karone," Carter informed. "Then there's Tommy. He's been a ranger the longest out of all of us, the fact that he's officially no longer a ranger drives him nuts."
"What do you mean?"
"Cole, Tommy got a degree in paleontology because the zords when he was a Mighty Morphin days were based off dinosaurs," Carter sighed. "From what I hear, he and his wife, Kat, are fighting because Tommy doesn't have something to fight. His green and white power coins are gone, T.J. has the red Turbo morpher, and if Tommy's uses his Zeo powers to much, the Zeo powers will become to strong and destroy him."
"So, what are you suggesting?" Cole asked.
"Plan ahead," Carter said. "Get your GED, go to college, find someone and settle down. That's what Jason did, he married his yellow, Trini, and now he works as a paramedic with three daughters. T.J. got his law degree, now works for the District Attorney and plans on going into politics. Andros got married, has twin boys and works for NASADA. Aurico is a police officer on his home planet, and Eric has been talking with Mr. Collins about expanding the Silver Guardians. Look, I know fighting the forces of evil takes a lot of your time. And when have time off, you just want to forget about them for a little while. However, you need to seriously stop and think about what you're planning on doing when you no longer wear the uniform." Cole sat silently, staring at his food. So much friendly advice, Carter thought. Jesus, Carter, you didn't have to lecture him; just give him some tips.
"You're right, Carter," Cole said. "I have no idea what my game plan is. I have no family here in the United States or in Brazil. Being a ranger gave me purpose, but I never thought about what happens when I'm no longer needed. Thank you for the advice."
"You're welcome," Carter chuckled awkwardly. "I didn't mean to lecture you, but I just don't want you to make the same mistakes as those who came before you."