"You've seen too much," a harsh voice whispered in her ear.
"I swear, I didn't see a thing!" Kris cried. "Please, I'm telling the truth!"
Laughter echoed all around her from everybody that was present, except one person. It was a young man, about 13 or 14 years old, and he appeared just as scared as Kris was.
"I don't believe you," the voice told her.
"I'm not lying! I don't know what you think I saw ,but I don't know anything!" Kris sobbed, tears of fright running down her cheeks.
"I don't believe you," the voice repeated. Something the person who was speaking was holding glinted in the dim lighting of the abandoned warehouse. A click sounded throughout the large space. The young man beside Kris gasped audibly, and Kris's breath caught in her throat. "This is what happens to liars when they mess with the Shock Waves."
"NO!" the guy beside Kris yelled, kicking and flailing for all he was worth. His captors were unable to keep their grip on him, and he broke free. He then ran towards Kris, and started attacked those who held her. Once Kris had one arm free, she and her friend were able to beat off the remaining captor, and together they began to run toward the door, toward freedom.
Behind them, a loud explosion sounded, and both girls ducked instinctively.
"Get back here!" a voice roared. Multiple sets of heavy footsteps sounded on the concrete floor behind them.
"Run!" the guy shouted to Kris.
"That's what I'm doing!" Kris shouted back. Neither friend's feet were touching the floor as they ran, trying their hardest to escape from the warehouse and out into civilization. The one holding the gun fired again, and this time the bullet grazed Kris's left side. She cried out in pain, and stumbled, but regained her footing and kept on running.
"Are you all right?" the guy asked Kris.
"I'm fine, just keep going!" Kris replied.
The door was barely fifty feet ahead. Forty. Thirty. Twenty.
"Gotcha," a voice said as someone grabbed Kris's arm.
"Yea right sure," Kris muttered, turning long enough to kick the guy where the sun don't shine. Then she continued to run alongside her friend. Fifteen feet. Ten. Five. The two friends passed through the doorway simultaneously, and bolted across the parking lot in a zigzag pattern. More gun shots, but none of these hit their mark. The two managed to avoid getting caught by anyone else, and ran along the deserted city streets. "Man, where's a cop when you need one?"
"It figures; they're always around when we don't want to be seen," the guy grumbled. Behind them, their pursuers were gaining ground. "We have to hide somewhere, and fast. If we get caught..."
"Where?" Kris snapped. There wasn't a populated place around for at least a half a mile. In reply, the guy turned sharply to the right, and Kris skidded around the corner to follow her. "Warn me next time."
"Shh," he snapped, bending at the waist and running as close to the ground as he could without losing too much speed. Kris followed suit. Suddenly, the guy ducked into an alleyway with Kris right on his tail. They followed the alley for quite a distance, turning several times, until they finally collapsed from exhaustion and lack of oxygen.
"Do you think we lost them?" Kris asked in a whisper between heaved breaths.
"I think so," her companion replied. "But we should get out amongst people, just in case they try to come after us."
"Where are we going to go?' Kris inquired worriedly as they started to walk towards the city.
"I have no idea," was the response she got.
"I know where you two can go," a third voice broke in from behind the two girls. They whirled quickly.
"Leave us alone!" the guy beside Kris shouted. "We don't know anything!"
"Unfortunately, I can't take your word for that," was the reply. "Grab them."
From behind the two friends, 4 others appeared, and grabbed them roughly.
"This time, you won't get away from me," the leader whispered. He pulled out his gun and aimed it first at Kris, then at the guy. "Now, which one do I kill first?"
"How about me?!" Kris shouted, throwing one of the goons over her shoulder and ramming the other one into the two that were holding onto her friend. The leader fired the gun, and hit one of his own men instead of the friends. "Come on, let's move it!"
"You don't have to tell me twice!" her friend replied. They ran past the leader, punching him in the sides at the same time, and out onto the city streets. They heard the others giving chase, but managed to find people before they could be caught.
Downtown, they melted into the crowds, and their pursuers were unable to continue the chase.
"What do we do now, boss?" one of the goons asked while the other two helped their fallen comrade to his feet.
"We'll get them soon enough," the leader said, pocketing his gun and walking back through the alley.
As Kris and her friend wandered through the streets, they realized that they had no place to go. Finally, they found a shelter for homeless teens, and went inside, where they were given a meal and a bed.
When Kris woke up the next morning, she looked over to discover that her friend wasn't in her bed. She saw a piece of paper on her comforter, picked it up and began to read it.
I know that we've been good friends for the past year now, but I had to leave you. If we're separated, they'll have less of a chance of finding us and killing us both. I'm not going to tell you where I'm going, mainly because I don't quite know yet. You should get out of the city while you can, and then lay low for a while so they don't come looking for you. I hope I can see you again someday.
"I can't believe that he's gone," Kris whispered, crumpling the paper in her hand, tears springing to her eyes. "What am I going to do without him?"
Kris got up quickly, and ran out of the building into the open streets. She ran until she couldn't breathe, and then sat down on the curb to catch her breath.
"Kris, help me!" a familiar male voice shouted. Kris whipped her head around and saw Christian in the clutches of the ones who had been chasing the two of them for the past 24 hours.
"Let him go!" Kris ordered, getting to her feet.
"Oh no," the leader replied, his voice deadly calm. "You're going to watch her die, and then you're going to join her." The leader raised his gun up to Christian's temple. Christian looked at Kris, fear and worry in his eyes.
"NO!" Kris shouted. She sat bolt upright, and realized that she wasn't on the streets, but in her own bed in the apartment she shared with her brother. Her body was covered in a thin film of cold sweat, and the salty fluid collected in beads on her forehead. Her pule was racing, and her nightshirt was stuck to her back. Breathing heavily, Kris tried to calm herself, but to no avail. She heard footsteps out in the hallway, and immediately tensed up. When she saw the familiar face of her brother, though, she began to relax.
"Kris, are you all right?" Rocky asked, coming to her bed in three long strides. He sat down next to her, a look of severe concern on his face.
"Yeah...yeah, I'm fine," Kris said, though the shakiness of her voice betrayed her words.
"You sounded like you were having a nightmare. You want to talk about it?" he offered.
"No, thanks," Kris replied quickly. "I'll be fine, really. It must have been that seventh slice of pizza I had before going to bed."
"You're a DeSantos, food is a part of your culture," Rocky told her with a grin. Kris smiled back, but it was a weak smile.
"I know, I've realized that," she replied wryly. "Now, I think I'm going to try to get some more sleep."
"No can do, it's already noon, and we were supposed to meet the others at the Youth Centre at 11:30," Rocky told her.
"What?!" Kris exclaimed. "Why did you let me sleep so long?"
"You looked like you needed it, especially after what happened to you during that hurricane," Rocky explained as Kris threw back her covers and made a mad dash toward the bathroom.
"I'll just be a minute," she called, shutting the door behind her. Rocky shook his head and smiled.
"You're becoming more like me everyday," he called to her.
"I know, and it's positively scary," Kris shouted to him through the door. She hurried and washed her face, then put on some makeup and ran back to her room. Quickly throwing on a pair of blue denim shorts and a grey baby t-shirt that buttoned up the front, and after slipping on her running shoes, she and Rocky left their apartment for the Youth Centre, with all memories of dreams from the past night left behind.
Rocky and Kris basically ran from the parking lot into the Youth Centre, where their friends were waiting.
"They're going to kill me," Kris said between breaths.
"No they won't, they'll think it's my fault we're late, no matter what we tell them, Rocky countered wryly, opening the door for Kris and letting her inside. The pair bolted through the corridors of the Youth Centre until they came to the Juice Bar, and skidded inside. They found Tommy and Jason sparring with Adam and Billy waiting on the sidelines to use the mats, while Kat and Tanya were sitting up at a table, talking to one another. When they saw the siblings run in, though, they stopped.
"Hey you guys!" Tanya called to them, smiling and waving. Kris waved back and smiled, then wandered with her brother to sit alongside Adam and Billy.
"Took you guys long enough to get here,"Adam teased as Rocky sat next to him.
"Blame Ms. Rip Van Winkle over there," Rocky said, pointing to his sister. She blushed.
"It's not like I can help it if I need a lot of sleep or anything," Kris said, memories of her dream resurfacing. She shuddered, even though it was plenty warm in the Youth Centre.
By now, Kat and Tanya had joined them on the bleachers. Jason and Tommy came over shortly, and Adam and Billy left to spar together.
"Hey guys," Kris said brightly, shaking off the cobwebs as the two young men came over.
"Hi, Kris," Tommy replied, taking a towel out of his bag and slinging it around his shoulders.
"Hey, Kris. How're you feeling?" Jason asked, grabbing a water bottle from his own bag and chugging half the bottle then and there.
"Pretty good, thanks," Kris replied with a smile. She gazed around the Youth Centre idly. Out of the corner of her eye, Kris thought she sw someone familiar. She gasped and a hand flew to her mouth as she whipped her head around to get a better look at the person. However, it was a stranger, someone she'd never seen before in her life. Kris breathed a silent sigh of relief.
"Kris, are you all right?" Jason asked, having noticed Kris's reaction. She jumped, startled by the sound of his voice.
"Yea, I'm fine," she assured him quickly. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"I don't know, you just got kind of tense and scared all of a sudden," Jason replied with a shrug.
"Trust me, everything's fine," she said again, unsure if she was reassuring him or herself. Jason accepted it, and turned to talk to one of the others. However, Kris was still spooked, though she wouldn't have admitted it to anybody. "Anybody want anything?"
"Strawberry-banana shake for me," Kat said. She dug out the money from her purse and handed it to Kris. Soon, she had orders from all of the others for both food and drink, as well as money to pay for it all.
"I'll come help you carry all of that," Jason offered, standing up and walking with Kris over to the counter. Kris gave Ernie the orders, then leaned back against the bar and watched Adam and Billy spar together idly.
Once the order had been filled, Kris called everybody over while Jason set the food and drinks down on their regular table. Kris, having ordered only a plate of French fries and a small soda, nibbled idly while the others ate and drank to their hearts' content. However, snatches of her dream came back to her every now and then, disrupting her concentration on what the others were saying.
"Kris? Hello, Earth to Kris?" A hand was waving in front of her face, and it was Rocky's voice that she heard. Kris shook her head slightly, snapping back to reality.
"Sorry, I'm here," she said, nibbling on a salt-and-vinegar-coated French fry.
"Are you all right? You've been spaced out the entire day," Tanya commented, sipping her milk shake.
"Sure, I'm fine," Kris told her, putting a smile on her face that she hoped looked convincing enough to fool the others into thinking she had been merely daydreaming. "I, uh, I guess I didn't get enough sleep last night or something."
"How could you not have? You slept longer than me!" Rocky declared, prompting a laugh from everybody at the table. Kris just grinned a little.
"True, but I was up pretty late reading," she told him. "And I woke up a few times during the night, too."
"Were you having nightmares?" Kat asked her.
"I don't remember what they were about," Kris lied, taking a long drink of her soda, hoping that the others would drop the subject.
Somewhere, in the shadows of Angel Grove, a young man lurked. He was trying to find a long lost friend, someone he hadn't seen in over 2 years. He had discovered that she had come to Angel Grove, but he couldn't get an exact fix on where she lived.
Not only was he trying to find his friend, he was also trying to elude some enemies. Enemies from long ago that would kill both him and his friend without a second thought. And since there were more of them than there were of his friend, he was sure to run into one of his enemies if he wasn't careful. But should he sacrifice care for urgency? He knew that his enemies had tracked the girl down to Angel Grove, as well, which was why they were there. They thought that he was dead, but they knew that she was still alive. All they thought they had to do was kill her, and their problems from long ago would be solved.
Little did the young man's enemies know that their problems wouldn't be solved so easily, or so cleanly.
The young man jogged down alleyways, trying his best to avoid public streets. However, after rounding one corner and narrowly missing one of the very enemies he was trying to avoid, he opted to go out onto the crowded sidewalk, where there were at least a few witnesses, should anything horrible happen.
He spotted a group of teens going down a street, and decided to follow them. He had heard about the local hangout that was popular with teenagers. The Youth Centre, he believed it was called. He hoped that his friend went there, and that that's where these teens were headed as well. But for all he knew, he could be headed in the wrong direction entirely. Thankfully, however, this particular group of teens was indeed going to the Youth Centre. They entered the building while he remained outside, staring at the building for a moment. Then, mustering up his courage, and a mental image, he went inside.
"Argh! I can't believe it's July already!" Kris exclaimed as she and Adam sat on the bleachers, watching their friends move on the mats. Tommy was teaching Kat and Tanya some self-defense while Rocky was spotting Jason on the weight machines. "We're going to be going back to school soon!"
"We still have all of July, and most of August," Adam reminded her, taking a drink from his water bottle.
"I guess you're right," Kris told him. "It just seems like the time since school let out for the summer has flown by really quickly." She paused, reflecting on past events. "I guess it's because of all that's happened ever since I got here, right?"
"That's probably it," Adam agreed.
"Time flies," Kris murmured, going deeply into her own thoughts though she was still talking aloud. "It's amazing how quickly entire years can pass by."
Adam, not knowing what Kris was talking about, just sat there silently. Kris leaned back onto the bleachers, and turned her head to look at the entrance to the Juice Bar to see if anybody interesting was coming in. Adam followed her gaze for a moment, then turned back to watch his friends.
"Hey Adam! Can you come here for a minute?" Rocky called to his friend. Adam nodded, and got up off the bleachers to join Rocky and Jason. Kris sat on the bleachers alone, reveling in the small pocket of silence around her that probably wouldn't last for longer than five minutes.
Indeed, it didn't even last that long, for a battered and bruised Tommy approached the bleachers with Kat and Tanya right behind him, apologizing profusely.
"Tommy, we're sorry," Kat said.
"We didn't know that we could do that if we tried," Tanya added.
"And I'm sure that other guy that we ran you into will be fine," Kat threw in.
"What happened?" she asked, grinning.
"Something happened?" Rocky wondered, coming over to the bleachers alongside Adam and Jason. Tommy turned as red as his Ranger suit.
"Er, nothing," he replied, picking up his towel and wiping off his face and neck.
"Tanya and I sort of threw Tommy right into someone who was walking by, and they both hit the ground," Kat explained sheepishly. The others laughed. Tommy hid his face in his towel.
"I'm beat!" Rocky exclaimed, collapsing on the bleachers beside Kris. She laughed.
"You've barely done anything," she told him.
"You haven't exactly been very active, either, you know," he reminded her. Kris shrugged her shoulders.
"I'm not a Ranger, I don't have to stay in good shape if I don't want to," she informed him, keeping her voice low so nobody else would hear.
"But what about the Silver Ranger powers that Mondo gave you?" Tanya asked.
"Beats me," Kris replied honestly. "I haven't even tried to call on them since that last...incident."
"Maybe you should try later," Tommy suggested. "We could always use another Ranger."
"Me? A Ranger?" Kris squeaked. Then she remembered where she was and hastily lowered her voice. "Are you insane? I don't even do any martial arts or anything. What good would I be?"
"We've had Rangers that haven't been into the martial arts," Rocky told her. Kris raised and eye brow skeptically. "Well, Tanya and Kat get taught by Tommy. Then there's Billy, who only got into that type of thing recently. And Kimberly was a gymnast." Tommy winced at the sound of Kim's name, and Kat flinched. "Uh, sorry, bro."
"It's all right," Tommy responded quietly
"Well, I guess you're right," Kris conceded. "But I still don't know if I'd be a decent Ranger."
"There's only one way to find out," Adam said.
"The holochambers at the Power Chamber?" Tanya asked. Adam nodded. Kris looked at them both in confusion. "The holochambers can create any type of scenario that's required. Kind of like a holodeck, from Star Trek: The Next Generation."
"Hmm, I may have to try that thing out sometime soon," Kris commented thoughtfully. The others continued to have a conversation over her head, but Kris ignored them. Out of the corner of her eye, something had caught her attention, and Kris turned her head to get a better look. Her heart started pounding, and her pulse began to race. "Oh my God."
Standing there, at the entrance to the Youth Centre, was a young man Kris hadn't seen in ages. He was about 6', with honey-brown hair and was long enough to just touch the tips of his ears, and intense blue eyes reminiscent of sapphires, and with the same edge to them. He was wearing a simple pair of blue jeans that looked like they hadn't been washed in ages, and a semi-tight black T-shirt in the same condition as his jeans. On his feet were simple black running shoes that bore several stains, along with a couple of rips and tears. Kris got up from the bleachers and ran over to him, not saying a word to the others and an incredulous smile growing on her face.
The young man saw Kris as she was running towards him, and his face lit up. He turned toward her, and spread his arms wide. Kris ran directly into them, and they hugged each other tightly.
Kris enjoyed the feel of his arms around her. It was a sensation she hadn't felt in a long time. She sniffled as memories from long ago flooded her brain. Memories that were both good and bad. Time froze for Kris as she hugged him even tighter, relishing the feel of his muscular arms encircling her torso in a protective yet happy embrace. The aqua ducts in Kris's eyes had opened, and her tears of joy and relief and amazement were dampening his shirt, though neither of them cared. Her body started to rack with sobs as the emotions overwhelmed her, and Kris heard a familiar voice from her past telling her that everything was OK, that he was here now. He still looked the same as he ever had. His roguish good look shone through beneath a thin layer of filth and dirt that he probably couldn't get out entirely. He looked exactly the same as Kris remembered him. Kris thought that she'd never see him again, but there he was, standing in the local hangout at Angel Grove, embracing her as though he'd never let go of her. Quite frankly, she didn't care if he didn't.
The young man Kris was embracing couldn't remember a time in his life when he'd been more relieved to see anybody. Kris's reaction when she'd seen him was something he knew he wouldn't forget in a long time. God, she still looks really good, he thought to himself as she ran towards him, her long light brown hair swishing across her back. Her green eyes were even greener from all the emotion that was coursing through her body. He greeted her with open arms, and wasn't even thrown off balance when she flung herself at him. Quite frankly, he was so happy so see her that he didn't care. He stood there, hugging her as tightly as he dared without fear of hurting her, thoroughly relishing how her slender frame felt in his arms. When she started to cry, he told her that everything was going to be all right, that he was here for her now, and forever. He rested his cheek of the top of her head, inhaling the scent of the shampoo she had used on her hair that very morning. She had always had a bit of a sweet scent about her, and now that she was off of the streets and in clean clothing and had access to facilities on a daily basis, she looked terrific. Her skin had a healthy glow, untouched by the type of grit and grime it had once seen. He, on the other hand, guessed that he looked exactly the same he did the last time she saw him. It was something he regretted. He'd wanted to make a good impression on her. Apparently, he didn't need to.
By the time they released one another, both of them were crying openly.
"How?" Kris whispered, standing arm's length away from him, tears still rolling down her cheeks.
"I got away before they could shoot me," he replied, not needing to ask what Kris was talking about. Kris whimpered happily, and hugged him again.
"I thought you were dead," she sobbed into his chest.
"Come on, we need to go somewhere and talk," he told her quietly, still holding her close. "We have a serious problem on our hands."
Kris pulled away from him and nodded, looking a tad confused. Together, they walked out of the Youth Centre, leaving 6 very confused teens behind.
"Uh, Rocky? Who was that?" Tanya asked, watching Kris fling herself into the man's arms.
"I can honestly say that I have no idea," Rocky replied, his eyes also glued to the scene. He and the others watched as Kris walked out of the Youth Centre alongside the stranger. Rocky got up and followed them out, and the others remained on the bleachers, talking amongst themselves about the most recent development.
"I still can't believe you're alive, Christian," Kris whispered as the two of them sat on the grass beneath the shade of a huge oak tree. Kris, nervous now that they were alone, was playing with the blades of grass at her fingertips.
"Hey, you didn't think they could get rid of me that easily, did you?" Christian joked. Kris chuckled.
"Why did you wait all this time to come find me?" she asked him.
"I had to lay low for a while, so the Shock Waves wouldn't find me," Christian explained.
"I wish you hadn't left me alone at that shelter," Kris admitted. "I was so scared when I woke up and you were gone. I thought the Shock Waves had come and killed you, and were coming for me next. At least until I read your note." Kris pulled a crumpled piece of paper from her pocket.
"You still have that?" Christian asked, amazed as Kris unfolded the note and lay it on the grass. She nodded.
"That's not all I've still got," she told him. Kris pulled a silver chain from beneath her grey tank top that had a small silver charm on it, and showed it to Christian.
"I gave this to you for your fifteenth birthday," Christian recalled, fingering the charm that hung around Kris's neck.
"I remember," Kris said softly. "I've always loved dolphins, and I remember how incredibly shocked I was when you gave this to me. I didn't think you had the money to afford the charm, never mind the chain."
"I still can't believe you hung on to that all this time," Christian marveled.
"Of course I kept it," Kris retorted softly. "You were, are, the best friend I've ever had. When I thought that the Shock Waves had killed you, the note and this necklace were the only things, aside from memories, that I had to remember you by. It hurt me so much when I thought that I'd lost you forever."
"But I'm back now, and that's all that matters," Christian said, finishing that thought.
"So where are you staying?" Kris asked him, changing the subject.
"That's not important, Kris," Christian told her. "They're here."
Kris blood ran cold. Vivid, horrible scenes that she had long ago pushed to the back of her mind resurfaced, and raced before her eyes. Her eyes opened wide, and she stared at her friend in disbelief.
"The Shock Waves are in Angel Grove?" she whispered, barely able to find her voice. Christian nodded, a grim expression on his face. "What are they doing here?"
"I think they came for you," Christian told her bluntly. Kris paled considerably, and looked as though she was going to faint.
"Me?" she asked weakly, finding her voice. Her body swayed a little from side to side.
"They think I'm dead, and you're the only other witness," Christian explained, looking helpless. "We can run away, though. If we leave now, they'll never find us."
"I...I can't leave, not now," Kris told him. "I finally found my brother, and the rest of my family. I have some great friends, I go to school...I've got too many obligations, Christian. I'm sorry."
"It's all right," Christian assured her. "I'm glad at least one of us found happiness."
"Well, what have you been doing for the past couple of years?" Kris asked him. Christian thought for a minute before responding.
"After I let the shelter, I headed East, and stayed in Canada for a while, believe it or not. Then, I came back to the States, to where I had last seen you, and started trying to find you. Lo and behold, here I am," he explained. He left out a lot, Kris observed, choosing not to comment on that fact.
"Come on, you have to meet my brother and my other friends," Kris said suddenly. She pulled Christian to his feet and began to lead him back into the Youth Centre.
"I don't know," Christian said reluctantly. "The fewer people that know I'm still alive, much less here, the better."
"Christian, you can trust them," Kris assured him. Christian looked at her doubtfully for a moment, then sighed.
"You almost always did manage to get your way somehow, even when we were younger," he told her as he allowed himself to be led into the building.
Rocky had barely managed to get inside before Kris and Christian had entered. He ran over to the bleachers and sat down next to his friends, trying to look as nonchalant as he could. He glanced over and saw Kris and Christian enter the building. She looked around, spotted them, then led the young man over to them.
"Guys, this is Christian. He's been my best friend ever since..." Kris trailed off, unsure how to finish that sentence. "My best friend for a long time. Christian, are you ready for the introductions?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," Christian said, a hint of nervousness in his voice. He glanced over his shoulder, then returned his gaze to the strangers before him.
"OK, well, on the far side of the bleachers, we have Billy Cranston, who must have arrived just recently because he wasn't here earlier," Kris said, doing a double take when she saw Billy.
"I needed to get out," Billy told her with a shrug and a small smile. He nodded to Christian, who returned the gesture.
"Next to Billy, you've got Jason Lee Scott," Kris said, pointing to the dark-haired teen. Jason gave Christian a guarded nod. "In front of Jason, Tommy Oliver and behind Jason, Tanya Sloan."
"Hi," Tanya said brightly, smiling. Christian smiled back, liking Tanya immediately.
"Next to Tanya is Adam Park, and the girl beside Tommy is Katherine Hillard," Kris continued.
"Call me Kat," Kat broke in.
"You must be Rocky," Christian said, looking directly at Rocky. Rocky's eyes opened wide, and puzzlement showed clear on his face. "You look a lot like Kris, and she's told me so much about you that I feel like I know you already."
"That makes one of us," Rocky muttered beneath his breath. Christian gave Kris a confused look, and Kris glared at her brother.
"Where do you guys know each other from?" Tanya inquired. Christian and Kris looked at one another sharply. Christian's look asked Kris if she had told them about that part of her past, and she shook her head in a silent reply.
"Oh, we met at a mutual friend's house," Kris replied vaguely. Not too far off, I guess, if you could call that abandoned warehouse a house.
"So, Christian, what brought you to Angel Grove?" Kat asked.
"Mainly, I just came to visit Kris," Christian replied honestly. "I haven't her in years, and I missed her." Christian looked over at Kris to see if he had done all right, and she nodded back at him with a small smile on her face and a blush colouring her cheeks.
"Christian, do you want a drink or anything? My treat!" Kris offered suddenly.
"That'd be great, thanks," Christian told her. The two walked over to the Juice Bar.
"He seems nice," Tanya observed, watching them go.
"Does it seem kind of suspicious to anyone else that he just shows up all of a sudden, from out of nowhere, and doesn't give us a real explanation of why he showed up?" Rocky asked quietly.
"Come on, Rocky, you heard what he said," Adam told his friend. "He came to visit Kris."
"But why did he wait all this time to come see her?" Rocky countered.
"He probably had trouble finding her. After all, she was moving around for quite a while, looking for you," Tanya pointed out, turning her attention to Rocky.
"Maybe, but I'm going to keep a close eye on him," Rocky conceded. Tanya laughed.
"You sound like an overprotective father," she told him.
Rocky didn't reply, he just watched Kris and Christian closely as they paid Ernie and walked out of the building. Rocky got up and went after them. Tanya rolled her eyes behind his back as he left.
"So what's your plan for getting rid of the Shock Waves?" Kris asked Christian as they sat on a bench in the sun outside the Youth Centre.
"I think we should just lay low until they leave Angel Grove," Christian told her. "If they can't find us, then they'll think we've gone someplace else, and they'll leave."
"But that could take days," Kris protested.
"Would you rather go out and have fun and get killed, or stay inside and stay safe?" Christian asked her bluntly. Kris gulped.
"Well, when you put it that way, I think I can stay off the streets for a little while," she replied.
"Not only off the streets, but off the phone, off the Internet, everything," Christian informed her. "Stay away from the windows, don't answer the door, absolutely no contact with outside life whatsoever."
"What am I going to tell Rocky?" Kris asked with a groan, closing her eyes and tilting her head to face the sun. The heat felt good on her skin.
"Why do you have to tell him anything?" Christian countered. "The less you tell the others, the safer they'll be."
"So what do I do, just stay inside for the next week of my life without telling them anything?" Kris retorted.
"Isn't that all you can do?" Christian asked her softly.
"But they can keep a secret," Kris protested. "They have one that nobody else except me knows, and nobody's ever found out about it."
"Is it a life-or-death secret?"
"Well, no," Kris admitted. Christian only looked at her. Kris sighed in defeat. "All right, all right, we'll do this your way. But you're staying with Rocky and me at our apartment."
"That's fine with me," Christian said readily. "I was hoping to stay someplace where I could keep an eye on you."
"You've always been so overprotective of me," Kris chided, smiling at him.
"You're still alive, aren't you?" Christian told her with a grin. She nodded.
"Mostly thanks to you, actually," she confessed. Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, Kris saw movement. "Rocky, over here!"
Rocky looked at Kris guiltily and headed over, ready to be chewed out for spying on them.
"Hi Kris, Christian," he said quietly.
"Um, Rocky?" Kris began, somewhat nervously. She didn't know how her brother would take her request. He looked at her expectantly. "Would it be all right if Christian stayed with us for a week or so? He really needs a place to stay while he's here, and he can't afford a motel or an apartment." Rocky looked at her, surprised.
"I promise I won't cause you two any trouble," Christian broke in quickly. "I'll even help around the house, if you want me to. I just really need to stay with you guys for a little while until I leave Angel Grove."
"Well, all right," Rocky answered grudgingly. Kris got up quickly and threw her arms around her brother.
"Thanks, Rocky," she said enthusiastically. "Trust me, you won't regret this. Christian's a great guy. I'm sure you and the others will get along great with him while he's here." Kris broke the embrace and looked at Christian. "Come on, let's go get you settled in."
"I'll come with you," Rocky said hurriedly. "Just in case you two need my help with something."
"Rocky, I'm sure we'll be fine on our own," Kris assured him. "You should go back and tell the others where we're going."
"I'll call them later and explain what happened," Rocky replied dismissively. "Come on, let's go."
"All right," Kris said, unsure of what had gotten into her brother. However, all negative thoughts were quickly dispelled as she, her brother and her best friend walked toward the apartment complex.
At the apartment, new problems arose.
"Rocky, he's been my best friends for years," Kris protested. "I don't know what you think will happen if he sleeps in my room, but nothing will happen, all right?"
"Kris, it's not that I don't trust you, it's that I don't trust him," Rocky told her, gesturing with his thumb towards the bathroom where Christian currently was.
"Rocky, I'd trust him with my life," Kris hissed. "Why can't you trust me on this one? He'd never do anything to hurt me. In fact, he's saved my life on more than one occasion."
Rocky regarded her for a moment.
"All right," he conceded finally. "But if I even suspect that anything is going on, he leaves."
"Rocky, that's not fair, and you know it," Kris said quietly, her emerald eyes flashing with anger. "I'm old enough to be making decisions for myself, and this is one I'll stand behind."
"Kris, I'm just trying to look out for you, you know that," Rocky confessed, slumping his shoulders. "I lost you once, and I don't want to lose you again."
"Rocky, this is our home. Surely, you can't lose me here," Kris reasoned. Rocky gave her a guarded look. "OK, OK, fine. Look, any time that Christian and I are here, you're welcome to be here too, all right?"
"I don't want you going anywhere alone with him," Rocky said stubbornly. Kris gave him a warning look that said that she was about to get royally ticked off if his mood didn't improve.
"I know you're trying to protect me, Rocky, but there was a time when you weren't around. I survived, mainly because Christian was there to protect me. Rocky, he's like an older brother to me, nothing more," Kris explained.
"Maybe so, but I still worry about what he could do to you if he got you alone," Rocky said with a frown.
"Rocky, please try to understand," Kris pleaded. "During the time that I was without my family and on the streets, I grew up a lot faster than anybody has any right to. I know how to take care of myself. When I got myself into a tough spot, though, I thought that I was a goner, until Christian showed up. He not only got me through that tough time in my life, but he helped me through all of the rough times that came after it."
"Kris, if it means this much to you, then it's all right with me," Rocky said after a long pause. Kris smiled widely and hugged her brother tightly.
"Am I interrupting something?" Christian asked hesitantly, emerging from the bathroom.
"No, not at all," Kris assured him. "Come on, I'll show you to our room."
"I'm bunking with you?" Christian asked, surprised.
"Sure, why not? We've slept in the same room before," Kris said reasonably. Rocky shot her a look, which she ignored. Christian simply shrugged. and followed Kris into her room.
"Wow, you sure hit the jackpot," Christian murmured upon entering the room. He glanced at her walls. "Nice."
Kris blushed. She had received much more teasing from Rocky when she had gone out and bought the posters that were now hanging on her walls. There was one of the Backstreet Boys, one of Brian Littrell, one from the Armageddon movie, and typed up lyrics from several songs from the three C.D.'s; I'll Never Break Your Heart, Just To Be Close To You, I Wanna Be With You, As Long As You Love Me, All I Have To Give, 10,000 Promises, Anywhere For You, If I Don't Have You, which were all by the Backstreet Boys, as well as, I Don't Want To Miss A Thing by Aerosmith, and Kris's personal favourite, which was printed on pastel purple paper and had black lettering, was Remember Me, by Journey. It and the one by Aerosmith were from the Armageddon movie, which she had seen 3 times already, and wanted to go see again.
"It's nothing much, really," Kris said demurely, her cheeks returning to their normal colour.
"Kris, compared to where I live, this place is a castle," Christian informed her.
"Where have you been staying, anyway," Kris asked him as she began to set up a cot beside her bed for Christian.
"Well, you remember that abandonned warehouse that we found when we were still in Nebraska?" Christian asked her.
"You mean, you stayed there for two years?" Kris asked incredulously. Christian nodded. "But the winters there must have been terrible for you! How did you manage to stay alive?"
"Oh, I had my ways," Christian said vaguely.
"Christian, come on, this is my you're talking to," Kris chided him gently. "You know you can tell me anything."
"OK, well, I ended up stealing a blanket or two from a store, and the rest I just scrounged up from shelters and stuff," Christian admitted.
"Well, at least you don't have to do any of that anymore," Kris said brightly. "Once the Shock Waves leave, you can stay here in Angel Grove."
"Kris, I don't have a job, I could never afford an apartment here," Christian protested.
"You could stay here," Kris pointed out.
"Kris, your brother doesn't even like that I'm staying here right now, he'd never let me stay here any longer than I had to," Christian said bluntly.
"You heard what we were saying?" Kris asked, reddening. Christian nodded. "It figures. You always did have better hearing than I did."
"Look, Christian, I'll admit that I had my doubts, but if you really need a place to stay, you're welcome to stay here for as long as you need to," Rocky said from the doorway to Kris's room. He caused both of them to jump for he hadn't made a single sound to make his presence known.
"I don't want to impose," Christian protested quickly. He winced when Kris threw an elbow into his ribs.
"Shut up and accept the man's offer," she told him, grinning.
"Thanks, Rocky, I can't tell you how much I appreciate that," Christian said, extending his hand to Rocky's. They shook hands, smiling, and Kris couldn't have been happier. Now if only we could get rid of the Shock Waves, everything would be perfect, she thought, a frown crossing her face.
"Something wrong, Kris?" Rocky asked, looking at her. Kris shook her head and smiled ruefully.
"Nah, just thinking about that nightmare I had last night," she answered. Well, that's basically true.
"I'm going to go back to the Youth Centre," Rocky told them. "Are you two coming?"
"Sure," Kris said readily. She looked at Christian for confirmation, and he was looking at her like she had just sprouted another head. He mouthed, "No" to her, and Kris smacked herself mentally. "I mean, maybe some other time. Christian and I have a lot of catching up to do."
"Are you sure? Why don't you come down to the Youth Centre, anyway? You guys can have your privacy, and everything, you don't need to worry about that," Rocky persisted.
"No thanks, Rocky. Christian's probably tired from the trip over here," Kris said.
"Well, all right," Rocky replied, shrugging his shoulders and leaving the apartment. He wasn't too keen on leaving his sister alone with Christian, but if she trusted him, then Rocky would just have to trust her.
Once they were alone, Kris and Christian finally got to do some serious talking.
"Christian, how long do you think we're going to have to stay in hiding?" Kris asked him as they sat on the couch in the living room.
"Honestly, I don't know," Christian admitted. "It could be anywhere between a week to half a year. You know how persistent Maddox and his thugs are." Kris shivered at an unpleasant memory.
"I know," she said quietly. "It's going to be really hard keeping this from Rocky and the others." Kris paused. "Look, I think that Rocky deserves to know. After all, we're putting him in danger by staying here."
"As long as he doesn't tell anybody else what's going on," Christian cautioned.
"He'll keep this secret for us," Kris assured him.
Just then, the phone rang, startling them both. Kris reached over to the table to pick it up, but Christian grabbed Kris's arm.
"It could be Maddox," he warned. Kris looked at the phone as though it were a viper sitting on her table instead of a simple device.
"It's going to be so hard to cut myself off from civilization," she groaned, relaxing against the couch.
"We can do it," Christian told her with a small smile on his lips. "We've gotten through tougher spots, right?"
"That's an understatement," Kris admitted. "I just hope we can get through this one alive."
Meanwhile, down at the Youth Centre, Rocky was sitting at the circular table that he and his friends normally occupied. They were talking around him, while he sipped a shake, lost in his own thoughts.
"Earth to Rocky," came a voice as a hand was waved in front of his face.
"Huh?" Rocky asked, startled from his reverie. He realized that all of his friends were staring at him.
"Are you all right?" Adam asked his friend, concerned.
"I'm just worried about Kris," Rocky confessed. "I think she and Christian are hiding something from me."
"Rocky, they were friends for a long time. Maybe they had some good times that they want to keep between themselves?" Tanya suggested, then she winced as she realized what she had implied as Rocky glared at her. "I didn't mean it like that, Rocky."
"I know," he told her. "It's just that I thought when Kris came back into my life that we'd be as close as we were before the fire."
"Just because one of her friends from a long time ago came to visit her, that doesn't mean that Kris loves you any less," Adam commented.
"I still think they're hiding something," Rocky said, not really acknowledging Adam's words. "And I'm going to find out what."
"Rocky, are you sure that's wise?" Kat asked. "It might be something that they don't want to share with anybody else."
"Kat, will you talk to her? I'm sure that she'll tell you what's going on between her and Christian," Rocky said suddenly. Kat looked trapped. She seemed about to protest, but sighed and gave in.
"All right, I'll ask her if anything's wrong. But if she doesn't want to tell me anything, I won't make her," Kat explained hurriedly.
"Thanks, Kat," Rocky said with a small smile. Kat got up.
"I'll go call her now," she said, and left the room.
A minute later, she returned.
"Well?" Rocky asked anxiously.
"Nobody picked up," Kat said, sliding back into her seat at the table between Tommy and Tanya.
"That's weird, Kris didn't say that she and Christian were going to go out anywhere," Rocky said with a frown. A silence fell over the table for a moment.
Rocky pushed back his chair suddenly and headed for the door.
"Where are you going?" Adam called after his friend.
"I'm going to figure out what's going on," Rocky called back without turning around.
"Are you sure we should tell him?" Kris asked worriedly, wringing her hands together.
"Kris, you were the one who thought that we should tell Rocky what's going on," Christian chided her gently.
"When have you ever known me to be decisive?" Kris retorted, grinning. Christian chuckled.
"Never," he admitted.
"Exactly!" Kris cried triumphantly, then immediately clapped a hand over her mouth. When she noticed her reaction, she lowered her hand and shook her head. "I'm getting paranoid, and you haven't even been here an entire day, yet."
"By the time this is over, paranoia might just have saved both of our lives from the Shock Waves," Christian commented. "So? Are we going to tell him?"
"I guess we have to tell Rocky the truth," Kris said with a sigh, hoping she'd stick to her decision this time. "He deserves to know."
"What do I deserve to know?" Rocky asked, his voice cold. He stood in the doorway, having just arrived back at the apartment. Christian jumped, and Kris emitted a small shriek of surprise. When she recognized her brother, she breathed a sigh of relief.
"Rocky, thank God it's you," she said, letting out a breath she hadn't known she had been holding in a whoosh. "Christian and I have something to tell you."
"Go ahead," Rocky told them, standing next to the easy chair closest to the door.
"OK, well, Christian and I met when we were both in Nebraska," Kris began. "How we met was...through a gang."
"What?!" Rocky exclaimed.
"Rocky, please, I'm not finished yet. Just let me get through this, OK?" Kris pleaded. "It's really important."
Rocky remained quiet, urging Kris to continue. She took a deep breath before doing so.
"Christian was already in the gang when I hooked up with them. I'd been living on the streets ever since I'd left the hospital after the accident, and I was sick and tired of being alone and defenseless. The gang was called the Shock Waves. Once I was in the gang, Christian and I became good friends, and we were often sent out on heists and robberies together because we made such a great time."
Rocky looked ill by this time, and Kris knew it wouldn't get any better when she was finished.
"Well, one day, when Christian and I were outside of the warehouse that served as our hide-out, we heard gunfire inside. We ran in, and saw that our gang leader, Cameron Maddox, had killed our rival gang's leader," Kris continued. "We were scared, because nobody from our gang, the Shock Waves, had ever committed a murder before, but we decided it would be safer for us to keep quiet." Kris paused for a moment to let all of that sink in. "After a while, we couldn't stay silent anymore, and we decided to run away from the Shock Waves. Just before we escaped, Maddox and a bunch of his thugs jumped us, and tried to kill us because Maddox knew that we had witnessed the murder. Christian and I managed to get away, but it was really close.
"Maddox once caught Christian, and held a gun to him, but I ran away before I could see the outcome. I heard a gunshot, and..." Kris trailed off as a flood of unpleasant memories returned to her.
"Kris obviously thought that Maddox had killed me, but just before Maddox shot me I managed to wrestle the gun from his hand," Christian continued in Kris's place while she recovered. "The gunshot she heard was the gun discharging. The bullet grazed me in the side, but it didn't really hurt me. I laid down on the ground, however, so Maddox would think I was dead, and it worked. He left me there to die.
"Now, the Shock Waves have come to find Kris, thinking that I was dead and out of the way. I heard about them coming for her, and I decided to come here and warn her."
Rocky looked as though he was going to pass out. He dropped down into the chair heavily, staring straight ahead in disbelief.
"Rocky?" Kris asked quietly.
"I don't believe this," Rocky whispered.
"Rocky, it'll be OK," Kris said reassuringly. "As long as Christian and I stay out of sight, the Shock Waves will figure I'm not here and they'll go away."
"How could you lead them here?" Rocky demanded, looking straight at Christian.
"Rocky, I didn't bring them here," Christian protested. "I came to try to protect Kris."
"You probably brought them here to kill Kris," Rocky hissed.
"Rocky, you're not thinking straight. This is all a big shock to you, I know. Christian doesn't want to hurt me now, he never did. Like he said, he came to protect me! Please, don't be angry at him," Kris pleaded.
"Why not? He got you into the gang in the first place!" Rocky exclaimed.
"But it wasn't his fault that I wanted into the gang. If anything, you should be blaming me. I'm the reason the Shock Waves are in town, and they won't leave until they've killed me," Kris said quietly.
"Kris, none of this is your fault," Rocky said hurriedly.
"Just like none of this is Christian's fault, either," Kris countered.
A harsh, uncomfortable silence fell over the apartment. The sound of Kris's watch beeping the hour seemed to almost echo throughout the confined space as the three of them sat there, looking at one another uneasily.
When Kris opened her mouth to say something, Rocky beat her to it.
"I'm sorry," he said, encompassing the two of them in one look. "This is a lot to digest in one sitting."
"I understand," Kris told him with a smile. "And you can't tell any of the others about any of this. I don't want to put them in any more danger than they're already in."
"Rocky, you're now in this just as deeply as Kris and I are," Christian told the other man. "You can still go out and everything, but you can't let on that you know either of us. If Maddox and his goons find out where we are, they'll kill all three of us, and they might even go after your friends if they think that we told them anything"
"Then don't they deserve to know what's going on if they might be in danger?" Kris asked.
"No, I have a feeling that if anything bad happens, they'll manage to get out of it," Rocky commented, tapping his communicator discreetly. Kris noted his movement and nodded, comprehension dawning on her quickly.
The next day, Rocky arrived late at the Youth Centre. The entire way there, he had been checking over his shoulder constantly, paranoid that somehow, Maddox had found out that he was Kris's brother and that Maddox was going to kill him. He hadn't even wanted to go out, but Kris had insisted that he go.
"It'll look suspicious if the three of us aren't there," she had told him.
Reluctantly, Rocky had agreed to go, but only after making Kris and Christian promise him that they would keep all the doors and windows locked and the shades drawn, and they wouldn't answer the door or the phone.
Now, he was beginning to regret his decision. Just as he was about to turn around and run as fast as he could back to the apartment building, Jason came jogging up to him.
"You're late?" Rocky asked him, temporarily forgetting his own problems.
"My Jeep broke down," Jason explained, making a sour face. "I was calling your name for a full minute before I caught up with you. Didn't you hear me?"
"I must have been thinking about something. Sorry," Rocky replied. There's no way I could go back to the apartment now, he thought. It'd look too suspicious, and I can't tell anybody what's going on. Not even Jason.
"How're Kris and Christian?" Jason asked him as the two went into the Youth Centre.
"Oh, they're doing fine," Rocky replied vaguely.
"You're not suspicious of him anymore?" Jason said in a slightly teasing voice. Rocky shook his head.
"No, I think I was just being paranoid," he answered, wincing a little as he realized that he had just said.
The two men entered, and joined their friends. While the others talked, however, Rocky remained lost in thought.
"Rocky, your sister and Christian have been kidnaped," said a voice that broke through all of this thoughts.
"What?!" Rocky exclaimed, tensing. Tommy and the others nearly fell off their chairs. Never before had they seen Rocky react so seriously before.
"Rocky, relax. We were just trying to see if you were still awake behind those open eyes," Tanya told him. "We're sorry if we scared you."
"I...I have to get going," Rocky said abruptly, getting up and leaving. His friends watched him go for a moment. Jason got up and went after him.
"Rocky, wait up!" he called, catching up with Rocky a little ways beyond the Youth Centre. "Rocky, what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong, I just remembered that I have to do something for my mother this afternoon," Rocky lied, not slowing his pace to look at Jason as he headed home.
"Rocky, I know you're lying," Jason told him, causing Rocky to hesitate, then continue on his way. Jason grabbed Rocky's arm to bring him to a halt. "Look, is something wrong with Kris? Is it Christian?"
"Jason, there's something going on, but I swore to Kris and Christian that I wouldn't tell anybody else anything. Let's just say that it's something big, and getting anybody else involved that doesn't have to be involved could be dangerous to everybody concerned," Rocky explained.
"Rocky, if you don't tell me what's going on right now, I'm going to follow you home and make Kris tell me everything," Jason threatened.
"Jason, it's better if you don't know what's going on," Rocky protested, breaking free of Jason's grip.
"In what way?" Jason persisted, following Rocky as he continued on his way home.
"If you get involved, you could be killed, all right?" Rocky said in exasperation, stopping on his own free will this time and facing Jason. "I can't tell you anything more than that, but I don't want any of the others involved in this. The fewer people that know about all of this, the better off everybody will be."
"Rocky, we're your friends, we deserve to know what's going on," Jason told him.
"Even if it means risking your life?" Rocky snapped. "This is a family matter, Jason. I'm sorry, but even I wanted you to be involved, it's not my choice."
"Then I'll go see Kris and ask her what's going on," Jason replied, pushing past Rocky and heading for the apartment building at a brisk jog.
"Jason, wait!" Rocky called, running after him. However, Jason picked up his pace, and because he had a head start on Rocky, he beat the other teen to the apartment building. They both boarded the same elevator, and when it stopped at the 12th floor Rocky tried to block Jason from getting off, but Jason just pushed past him and started jogging down the hallway. He opened the door to the apartment and stepped inside.
"Jason! What are you doing here?" Kris asked, surprised to see someone other than her brother appear at their front door. She and Christian had been sitting on the couch, watching T.V. Jason noticed that all the curtains were drawn on the windows. Even the balcony had been blocked off.
"Kris, I want to know what's going on," Jason said, stepping towards the couch. Rocky appeared in the doorway just then.
"Kris, I'm sorry, I tried to stop him from coming up here, but I couldn't," he told her. "I swear, I didn't tell him anything."
"All he told me was that something was going on, and I want to know what," Jason continued, standing directly in front of Kris and Christian. He noted with a growing hostility that Kris and Christian were barely a foot apart from one another.
"Jason, please, don't ask me that," Kris pleaded, focusing her green eyes on his dark brown ones.
"Kris, I want to know," Jason said. Kris looked from Jason to Christian to Jason, and back to Christian.
"I don't want to have an innocent life on my head," Christian told her. "But if it's important to you that he knows, he first has to realize that any knowledge of any of this will endanger his life."
"I'm willing to take that risk for a friend," Jason informed Christian. Christian merely shrugged in reply.
"Kris, it's your call," he said to the young woman sitting beside him. Kris sighed.
"All right, Jason, but you'd better sit down," she warned him. Once he had taken a seat in the very chair that Rocky had when he had been let in on all of this, Kris proceeded to explain the entire situation to him.
"Wow," he said simply once she had finished. "Why didn't you tell any of us about this part of your life before?"
"Jason, would you guys really have accepted me the way you did if you had known that I used to be a gang member?" Kris asked him sarcastically. At the uncomfortable silence that followed, she chuckled, though there was no trace of humour in her voice. "I didn't think so."
"Look, now that both of you know and have been seen coming and going from here, neither of you can leave until all of this is over," Christian broke in. "And none of the others can come here, either. No visitors, no phone calls, no e-mail, nothing. All right?"
"What's he going to tell his parents, though? And, for that matter, how's he going to tell his parents that he isn't coming home?" Kris asked before Jason could reply.
"They'll just have to trust that he's all right and can take care of himself," Christian said simply.
Just then, there was a knock at the door. Kris jumped, grabbed Christian's left arm, and then froze. Christian's head whipped around so that he was looking at the door, as if he could see who was on the other side by sheer will. Rocky started to fall into a defense pose. Jason tensed. Another knock, followed by silence and more knocking.
"Rocky? Are you in there?" Tanya's voice floated across the open space. Kris leapt from the couch and quickly opened the door a crack, moving faster than she had known she could.
"Tanya, shut up," she hissed. "What are you doing here?"
"We were worried about you guys when Rocky left and Jason didn't come back," Tanya answered, a bit taken aback by Kris's blunt manner.
"Get everybody in here, now!" Kris said, opening the door enough to admit everybody, hiding behind it. Once everybody was inside, she quickly closed and bolted the door shut. Leaning against the door, she sighed and closed her eyes. "So much for our little secret." She walked over and took her seat beside Christian once more. "Well, I hope none of you didn't have anywhere to go for the next little while because you can't leave this apartment."
"Kris, what are you talking about?" Kat asked her, voicing the confusions that the rest of the uninformed group shared. Kris looked at Christian.
"You can tell them, I'm tired of saying this over and over again," she said, getting up to go get herself and Christian glasses of water.
Outside the small kitchen, she could hear Christian's smooth, even tones relating the story to the newcomers. When she returned, Kris sat down calmly on the couch and handed Christian a glass of water. He thanked her, and took a long drink.
"Kris, is it true?" Adam asked, slightly incredulous. Kris and Christian didn't blame him.
"All the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," she replied simply, sipping her water.
"So what are we going to do?" Tanya asked, breaking the silence that had fallen.
"You guys are going to go home, and act like everything's normal," Christian told them. "You, Rocky, are going to do the same thing."
"And in the meantime, Christian and I are going to hide out here," Kris added. "Nobody should say either of our names when you're out in public, or talk about us over the phone. Or e-mail, for that matter. I don't know how determined Maddox is to kill me." It gave Kris shivers to here herself talk about her own fate so calmly, but she had talked about, seen, done worse, although they were all things she had tried very hard to forget.
Without saying a word, the seven teens all nodded in consent, then filed silently out of the apartment building, leaving Kris, Rocky and Christian behind.
"This is really weird," Rocky confessed, sitting heavily on the chair closest to the door.
"I know, Rocky, but it'll all be over soon," Kris said, trying to assure him. He looked at her skeptically.
"You said so yourself that it could be weeks before Maddox and his crew leaves," he told her. Kris looked uncomfortable at being caught by her own words.
"I'm sure we'll be fine," was all she could respond. Rocky only looked at her skeptically in reply.
That night, after Rocky had gone into his own room and had fallen asleep, Kris and Christian lay awake, talking quietly to one another.
"Why are we being forced to go through this?" Kris asked with a quiet groan, rolling onto her left side, resting her upper body weight on her elbow and looking through the darkness at Christian.
"Wrong place wrong time syndrome, I guess," Christian told her, gazing back at up at her from the cot he was laying on.
"Are you scared at all?" Kris wondered curiously. Christian hesitated, then nodded.
"Yeah, I guess so. I mean, there are people who want to kill us," he replied. "You?"
"Terrified," Kris confessed. "I almost wish I'd never going the Shock Waves in the first place. I mean, maybe then none of this wouldn't have happened. Of course, if I hadn't joined the Shock Waves, I would never have met you. But still, maybe we'd both be better of if we had never met."
"Kris, you're rambling nervously," Christian pointed out, grinning at her.
"OK, so I'm not only terrified, I'm nervous, too," Kris retorted. "Shoot me."
Both Christian and Kris winced at her choice of words.
"Well, you know what I mean," Kris amended, chuckling at herself. Then she sighed. "I'm not used to my room being this dark. I usually keep the curtain open so I can watch the stars before I fall asleep."
"Kris, you know you can't risk being seen," Christian told her.
"I know, I know," Kris replied, flopping down onto her mattress, her arms spread out at her sides. "I hate Maddox, I truly do. Why can't he just drop dead or something? Maybe get killed during a monster attack or something? Even better, just let me get my hands around the neck of his. I'll do the dirty work, claim it was self-defense, and you can be my alibi!"
Now it was Christian's turn to chuckle.
"You gave that way too much thought," he commented. Kris gave him a mock-glare through the darkness.
"Thanks for your support," she said dryly, grinning.
Christian shrugged his broad shoulders.
"That's what I'm here for," he told her frankly.
Kris yawned suddenly.
"OK, enough chit-chat, time for some sleep," she said, rolling onto her left side once more and tucking her left arm under her pillow. "'Night, Christian."
"Good night, Kris," Christian replied.
Within minutes, all was quiet in the apartment, and sleep overcame three weary teenagers.
Christian was awakened in the middle of the night by soft murmurs and moans that were emanating from Kris. Groggily, he looked over to her, and saw that she was thrashing about beneath her sheets. He sat up and laid a hand gently on her left arm, whispering her name to try to arouse her. However, she remained steadfastly asleep. He shook her now, still calling her name quietly enough to make sure that they didn't disturb Rocky. With a final groan, Kris's eyes opened, and focused on Christian through the darkness.
"Thank God it's you," she said, running a hand through her hair. "I dreamt that I had been caught my Maddox, and you were dead." Kris shivered. Christian got up from his cot and sat on the bed next to Kris.
"Don't worry, you're safe in your apartment, with me and your brother nearby," he told her. "You know that neither of us would ever let anything happen to you.
"I know, but that dream was still unnerving," Kris confessed. She looked at the curtains, where her window was. "I keep asking myself why this is happening. What did either of us do to deserve this?"
Christian placed a hand on her shoulder.
"You know we didn't bring this on ourselves," he said to her. "You know you're not to blame."
"Aren't I?" Kris asked sharply, turning her head around to look at him. Christian just looked back at her silently. She sighed finally, shaking her head. "You're right, of course. Neither of us is to blame for this trouble." She paused. "I just wish that we hadn't had to involve the others in this. They're innocent, they don't deserve to be dragged into our personal problems."
"But isn't it nice to know that your friends are on your side?" Christian countered.
"Sure it is, but this whole incident might get them killed," Kris replied. "I'd never live with myself if any of them got harmed in any way."
"Then we'll just have to make sure they don't get hurt," Christian said.
"And how are we supposed to do that?" Kris demanded.
"Why don't we just go someplace and hide? Find a cheap motel or something and stay there until this whole thing blows over," Christian suggested.
"I could never just walk out on my friends or Rocky without letting them know where I was going, especially now," Kris argued. "They'd be so worried about me."
Christian smiled fondly and the young woman through the darkness.
"You really are something, Kris," he told her. She looked at him with a question on her face. "You worry about everybody else more than yourself. That's pretty noble.
Kris was suddenly glad for the darkness, for she was blushing profusely. Still, she couldn't tear her eyes away from Christian's. He's so sweet, she thought to herself, smiling. And he's so handsome! Kris shook her head a little at her last thought. He's like your brother, she chided herself mentally. You shouldn't be thinking that way about him. Another less-rational part of her mind jumped in just then. But he's not really your brother, is he? Therefore, it's OK if you're in love with him. Kris jumped mentally. She couldn't be in love with Christian, could she? She'd known him for a long time, and knew him pretty well, but had never really thought about him that way...until now.
Kris looked at Christian in a new light now. His tousled honey-brown hair had a slight shine despite the total darkness in Kris's room. She could just make out his well-formed facial features, his azure eyes sparkling ever-so-subtly. His broad shoulders and well-muscled upper torso were also barely visible, despite the fact that he wasn't wearing a shirt. His muscular legs hung over the side of Kris's bed, resting on the cot he had been sleeping on. Not only did Kris's mind whirl over Christian's physical appearance, but she also dwelled quite a long time on his personality, as well. He's sweet, charming, polite, funny, everything I've ever really wanted in a guy, she reflected. Why didn't I ever notice any of this before?
Christian didn't mind the silence that had fallen over the two, nor did he falter beneath Kris's scrutiny. He barely noticed it, in fact, because he was busy examining his own feelings.
Her semi-long light brown hair was slightly unkempt from tossing and turning as she had been earlier on. Her green eyes twinkled with hints of mischievousness, humour and warmth all rolled into one. Her soft features, blended even more by the lack of lighting, took on a glow that came from who-knows-where. Her slender body, half-buried beneath her sheets and comforter, hidden beneath a grey T-shirt and a pair of black boxer shorts. Christian smiled mentally, and continued onto her personality. She's so warm, caring, yet funny, he thought somewhat wistfully. I love everything about her. He hesitated for a moment. But she's always been like a little sister to me. So why am I having these feelings about her? Confused, Christian delved deeper into the subject. Could it be that I...I love her? Something in his mind clicked on that idea, and it held fast. I love her!
As the pair gazed at one another, totally unaware of the world around them and everything in it, their heads started to move closer together. Kris closed her eyes unconsciously, and shifted closer to Christian. Christian leaned over and placed one arm around Kris's shoulders and another one on the bed so they would both remain upright. When their lips met, both of them felt an electric shock shoot through their entire bodies, an altogether pleasing feeling in both of their opinions.
Once they broke the kiss, Kris smiled and looked down at her hands, finding them suddenly interesting. A pink blush had spread across her face, and a slender beam of moonlight came through the curtains, casting her in an almost angelic glow. It was so quiet they could almost hear each other's heartbeats. When Kris finally got up the courage to look at Christian, she found a smile on his face that matched her own.
Christian pulled her close so that she was leaning against his chest, and they were staring out the small crack between the blue curtains at the night sky, which hosted a bright, almost-full moon and a vast quantity of stars. Without really thinking about it, Christian leaned back against the wall and brought his feet up onto the bed. They both got comfortable, and fell asleep in each other's arms without further events.
The next morning, Rocky had already gone out for his morning jog by the time that Kris and Christian awoke. She went out to the kitchen to get a glass of orange juice while he went to have a shower and get dressed.
Kris padded out to the kitchen still in her nightclothes, and noticed that Rocky had left a note on the kitchen table. After pouring herself a glass of juice, she picked it up and read it.
I went out for my jog at 8 A.M. this morning. I won't be back any later than 8:15, I promise. Don't let anybody in if they knock. I have my key. Be careful.
Kris smiled, and pocketed the note. She heard the water stop in the shower, and knew that Christian had finished showering.
"Morning," she called to him from the living room, staring idly at the curtained-off balcony.
"Morning," he called back. Kris heard the door open, and a minute later Christian came to join her. His hair was slicked back, and still damp. He was wearing the same jeans and black shirt he had been the day before, when all of this had arisen in the first place.
"Do you want to borrow one of Rocky's shirts?" Kris asked immediately when she saw his attire. "I'll wash that one for you."
"I don't want to borrow anything from Rocky; I have a feeling he really doesn't like me," Christian told her.
"Christian, come on. It's not that he doesn't like you, he's just suspicious and paranoid about me," Kris chided him. "Look I've got a couple of man-sized shirts in my closet. You can borrow one of those if they fit, all right?" Christian nodded in reply, and Kris led the way back to her bedroom.
She selected the two that she had. One of them was a black one with a grey and white stripe running up either arm, and the other one was a short-sleeved button-down shirt that was beige with grey checks all over it. Christian took the beige one, and handed Kris his black T-shirt. She went into the bathroom, where she occasionally washed some of her own items when she was too lazy to use the washer and drier she and Rocky shared, dug out the soap, and quickly washed and rinsed Christian's shirt, then hung it over the shower rod to dry.
"I'm just going to get dressed, I'll be right back," she told him, going into her room and closing the door. "You're welcome to anything you can find in the fridge or the cupboards. I think we have a box of cereal above the stove, and there's milk in the fridge."
"Got it, thanks," Christian called back to her.
When Kris emerged from her bedroom wearing a pair of blue jeans and a grey baby T-shirt that was silvery-grey buttons down the front and obvious black stitching around the hems, she found Christian at the kitchen table with only a glass of orange juice.
"You're not much for breakfasts right after getting up either, huh?" she asked him, refilling both of their glasses. Christian shook his head.
"Nope," he replied with a smile of thanks. Replacing the container of juice in the fridge, Kris leaned against the counter that was off to Christian's right side, and a silence fell over them.
Should I say anything about what happened last night? Kris asked herself mentally, gazing at Christian over the rim of her glass as she took a sip. I know now that I really do love him, but does he feel the same way? I'd be so embarrassed if I told him I loved him and he didn't love me back, if he only thought of me as a little sister.
Suddenly, Kris wandered into the living room, and stood facing the balcony, confused and deep in thought. She heard Christian get up and follow her.
"What's wrong?" he asked her, concerned.
"Oh, nothing, really," she said dismissively.
"It's about last night, isn't it?" Christian asked bluntly. Kris winced, and turned around, nodding. "Well, I've been thinking a lot about what happened."
"So have I," Kris admitted softly, not liking where this conversation had the potential to go.
"Do you feel the way about me that I feel about you?" Christian implored.
Not wanting to give her feelings away and potentially be humiliated, Kris simply responded by inquiring, "I don't know. How do you feel about me?"
Christian took a deep breath, and Kris felt her heart sink. He doesn't love me, after all. He probably just thinks of me as a friend.
"Kris, this is difficult for me to admit," Christian confessed. "But I...I love you."
Kris whirled around in place to stare at him incredulously.
"You do?" she whispered, barely able to believe her ears.
Christian nodded, looking somewhat sheepish, embarrassed and hopeful at the same time.
"But you probably just think of me as a friend or a brother or something, so just forget about it," he told her dejectedly, beginning to turn away. She stepped in front of him, not thinking at all about what she was saying or doing.
"I love you, too," she told him, her voice hushed. Kris held her breath as she waited for a reaction from Christian. When it came, it took her breath away. Christian put an arm around her waist and pulled her close to him, kissing her for the second time in as many days. At first startled, Kris closed her eyes and melted into the kiss, wrapping one arm around his waist and running another through his hair. She could feel his free hand encircle her shoulders.
When they pulled apart this time, it was a hasty separation for they heard a key in the door which signified Rocky's return. Kris sat down at one end of the couch while Christian sat beside her, far enough away not to attract any unwanted attention.
Rocky entered the apartment dressed in a pair of blue track pants, an off-white T-shirt and a pair of white running shoes.
"Morning, guys," he said, closing the door behind him. "I'm going to go have a shower."
"OK, Rocky," Kris replied, smiling and waving at him. Rocky went down the hallway and Kris and Christian heard him close the door to the bathroom, and the water came on a second later. "Should we tell him?"
"Tell him what?" Christian asked, genuinely confused.
"About...us," Kris explained.
"We don't need to tell him outright, but once he sees us together, I think he'll get the general idea," Christian said with a sly smile. Kris had a look of indecision on her face, though.
"He might not like it if we're sleeping in the same room, knowing how we feel about one another," she told him.
"Kris, you're 17 years old. You're old enough to be making your own decisions, don't you think?" Christian queried.
"I guess you're right," Kris admitted. "I just hate conflict."
"I know you do, but you're in control of your own life," Christian pointed out.
"I guess you're right," Kris conceded. "After all, I'm not always going to be single, right?"
"Not anymore," Christian said with a smile that made Kris's heart melt. She kissed him gently on the cheek just as Rocky came into the living room fresh from his shower. He cleared his throat as he came upon the two, and despite the talk that Kris and Christian had just had, she looked over at her brother guiltily.
"Kris, could I talk to you for just a moment?" he asked her coldly. Kris looked at Christian, then got up and followed her brother back to his bedroom. He closed the door behind her once they were both inside.
"Look, Rocky, I know what you're thinking-" Kris began, but Rocky stopped her abruptly.
"Kris, ever since you came back, I've put all of my trust in you," Rocky said. "So I'll ask you this one question, and I know that you'll give me an honest answer, because your my sister, and my best friend." Kris waited patiently for him to continue. "Kris, what's going on between you and Christian?"
"Well, up until last night, we were just friends, but then we both realized we had feelings for one another, and now, we're together," Kris explained.
"How did you find out about each other's "feelings"?" Rocky inquired.
"Well, after I had another nightmare last night, Christian was sitting beside me, comforting me, and we sorta both realized it then, when we were looking at one another," Kris told him.
"In your bed."
"Not like you're thinking," Kris protested. Rocky gave her a skeptical look. "Rocky, you're in big brother mode! I've known Christian for almost all of my teenage life, and I trust him as much as I trust you. I know that this may seem sudden to you, but that's because a week ago, you didn't even know Christian existed. To him and me, though, this has been a long time in coming. Rocky, we love each other."
Rocky was silent for a long moment, and Kris feared that he was going to yell at her, scold her, something along those lines, be she wasn't prepared for the huge hug he bestowed upon her.
"You better not stay out too late with him, and don't do anything I wouldn't do," he whispered to her.
"Rocky, we haven't even gone out yet, and you're acting like it's my wedding day or something," Kris kidded as brother and sister broke apart.
"You're just full of surprises, you know that?" he told her, looking down at her fondly. Kris grinned up at him.
"I know, that's what makes me a DeSantos, though," she replied.
They left Rocky's bedroom and went back out into the living room, peace having been made.
A week and a half went by, and there wasn't one sighting of Maddox or any of his fellow gang members. Rocky and the others had gone on about their normal routines, even though they were constantly aware of who was around them. Kris and Christian stayed at the apartment the entire time, not going near any of the windows or the door, or answering the phone whenever it rang.
Rocky had told Tommy and the others what was going on between Kris and Christian, trying to soften it as much as he could for Jason's sake. However, Rocky could tell that the other man was still hurt, though he tried not to let it show.
Kris and Christian were beginning to finally feel safe after a stressful, sleep-deprived week of jumping at the slightest sound and every ring the phone made.
"I think we're finally free," Kris commented to Christian one early afternoon as they relaxed on the couch just after a lunch of leftover pizza from the night before.
"I don't know, Kris," Christian replied doubtfully, glancing down at the young woman who was laying against his chest. "Maddox and his crew could just be laying low, waiting for us to come out of hiding."
"But don't you think we would have heard something from the others?" Kris wondered, twisting her entire body to look up at him.
"Not necessarily," Christian told her. Kris sighed.
"I don't care," she said bluntly. "I'm bored with staying here. If I have to look at these walls for one more day, I'm going to scream." Kris turned around to look at Christian once more. "Let's go out and do something. It doesn't have to be an all-day thing or anything. Maybe go see a movie or grab a burger down at the Juice Bar or something, anything!"
"Kris, it's not safe," Christian protested. Kris groaned.
"Christian, it might never be safe," she said, exasperated. "Look, I'm going out and I'm going to go see Armageddon. You're welcome to come with me if you want, but nobody's forcing you to go."
"Kris, you know I won't let you go alone," Christian said.
"I know," Kris replied with a knowing smile. "So let's go, then."
"But I don't have any money to pay for a ticket," Christian told her, trying to dissuade her from doing this.
"I've got enough for both of us. Come on, if we hurry, we might be able to get decent seats," Kris said, pulling Christian to his feet. With a sigh of resignation, he stood up. Both of them grabbed a pair of sunglasses, Christian put on one of Kris's ballcaps, and they left the apartment for the first time in over a week.
Outside, fresh air felt good as it caressed their bare skin. They walked through the park the movie theater, and went inside. They got popcorn and a Pepsi and entered the theater just as the movie was starting.
Afterwards, they went down to the Youth Centre the hang out with their friends.
"Hi guys," Kris said once she and Christian had walked over the where the others, minus Rocky and Adam who were out on the mats sparring, and were within talking distance. Looks of surprise crossed everyone's faces.
"Kris, what are you guys doing here?" Tanya whispered.
"Oh, we went and saw a movie, and decided the come here for a little while," Kris replied casually, taking off her sunglasses and tucking one of the arms into the neck of her short black T-shirt.
"But what if Maddox sees you guys here? He'll kill you," Tanya persisted bluntly.
"He's not here, we already looked around," Kris assured the young woman.
Rocky, having seen his sister enter with Christian, immediately ran over the her.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded of her. Kris rolled her eyes.
"I'm publishing a book, what does it look like?" she retorted. "I'm hanging out."
"What about Maddox?" Rocky continued relentlessly. Kris looked the Christian for support, but found none. She sighed in resignation.
"All right, all right already! I'll go back to the apartment like the good teenager that I am, and hibernate until I wither from lack of light. Does that suit everybody?" she asked.
"Kris," Christian said gently, squeezing the hand he hadn't let go of since they left the apartment earlier that afternoon. She looked at him, then at the others.
"I'm sorry, it's just frustrating," she admitted, her eyes downcast.
"Don't worry. No matter how long this takes, we're here for both of you," Tanya told her, smiling at the both of them. They smiled back, then left the Youth Centre and headed back for the apartment, hand-in-hand the entire way.
Suddenly, Christian stopped.
"I forgot something, wait here," he told her, and went back into the Youth Centre without any other explanation. Kris stood on the path, looking terribly confused.
Christian returned a moment later, smiling.
"Are you all right?" Kris asked him, taking his hand again.
"I'm fine," Christian replied mysteriously, kissing her briefly on the lips.
"What was that for?" she wondered, smiling.
"Just because," he replied vaguely.
"OK, what are you hiding?" Kris demanded.
"Nothing, just trust me on this one," Christian told her. He gazed down at her, and as Kris looked back into his blue eyes, she sighed.
"All right, you know I've always trusted you," she said.
"Well, it looks like we found them, boss," a man said as he and four others watched the exchange between Kris and Christian on the path in the park from a hidden area.
"Indeed," Maddox murmured half the himself, watching the two as they began the walk away.
"Shouldn't we attack them now, boss?" a second man asked, a bit too eager.
"We'll bide our time until we find them in a private place, where there's no chance of any witnesses," Maddox explained. "Then we'll finish them off...permanently."
That night, after the three teens had gone the bed, Kris and Christian were still laying awake in Kris's room. Christian was laying with his upper body propped up by Kris's pillows on Kris's bed while she laid beside him, most of her upper body on his chest. He held one of her smaller hands in his, and looked down at her. Kris gazed at the wall, blinking periodically.
"What are you thinking about?" Christian asked her. Kris looked up at him.
"Oh, you know, this whole stupid situation, you, us, the usual," she replied, blushing at her straightforward answer.
"Hmm, which is the most important?" Christian teased her. Kris swatted him playfully on the shoulder.
"You should know," she replied mysteriously. Kris yawned just then. "We should probably get some sleep."
"You're right," Christian admitted. He started the move away, but Kris stopped him.
"I'm warm and comfortable, you stay right there," she said with a laugh. With that, they settled in and fell asleep.
Little did they know that in an unmarked van right across the street from them, they were being watched.
The next morning, when Kris awoke, she heard quiet murmurs between Rocky and Christian. However, still groggy, she stayed in bed. If it weren't for Maddox and the others, I think these would be some of the best days of my life, Kris thought the herself, finally coaxing her body out of bed. She quickly got dressed in a pair of chino pants and a blue tank top, and wandered out to the living room.
"Morning," she said, noticing that Rocky and Christian immediately stopped talking when she appeared and looked at her guiltily. "Am I interrupting something?"
"No, not at all," Rocky replied, getting up from the couch. "I was just on my way out for my morning jog. I'll see you later, Kris." He kissed her on the forehead as he went by her on his way out of the apartment.
"What was that all about?" Kris asked Christian as he walked towards her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
"Nothing," he replied, spinning her in circles. Kris laughed and smiled, even after he put her down.
"You're in a good mood this morning," she observed, catching her breath. Christian only grinned mysteriously at her. "Would you stop doing that and spill the beans already?"
"About what?" Christian asked innocently. Kris tickled him in his soft spots.
"Whatever you're hiding from me," she answered. In response, Christian began tickling Kris, which immediately made her stop and clutch at her sides and begin the beg for mercy, for her sides were rather ticklish. Christian only stopped once he heard Rocky's key in the door to the apartment. The young man walked in, eyed the two, shook his head and went into his room, then went out again without saying a word.
"Nice the see you, too!" Kris called after him. "Hmm, that was weird."
"I'll be right back," Christian said, getting up abruptly.
He returned a moment later, looking like the cat that ate the canary, but Kris decided not the pursue the matter. She'd get it out of him...eventually.
Christian's voice broke into Kris's thoughts. She turned, and saw him facing the balcony, where the curtains had been left open just enough so that the occupants could see the street down below. The seriousness in Christian's voice alerted Kris immediately. Swiftly, she crossed the room the join him, and looked down where he was looking. A gasp escaped her lips, and she clutched Christian's arm.
Despite her best efforts, Kris's voice trembled as the realizations sank in.
"What do we do now?" she asked, becoming frantic.
"We should get out of the building as fast as we can," Christian replied, moving the Kris's bedroom. "The longer we stay here, the more likely it is that Maddox will find the apartment, and if he does that, Rocky won't be safe anymore. Grab all the money you have, we're going the find a motel on the edge of town so we can hide."
Kris took all of the money that she had hidden away in her apartment, then followed Christian out the door. She felt badly that she couldn't leave Rocky a note telling him where they were going, but any such notes would just put him in more danger. However, she did leave her communicator that Billy had recently made for her on one of the end tables next to the couch. No, it's better if he doesn't know where we are, Kris decided mentally as she followed Christian down the stairs.
Halfway down, they heard footsteps coming up, accompanied by gruff voices. Christian and Kris flattened themselves against the wall.
"Maddox," Kris whispered, barely being able the form the word. "What do we do?"
Christian shrugged his shoulders helplessly. He was stumped.
"Wait, listen," Kris said suddenly. The pair listened to the voices as they approached. "Maddox isn't there. Let's rush them."
"Are you insane?" Christian said hoarsely.
"Do we have a choice?" Kris demanded. Christian conceded that one with a tip of his head. An evil grin appeared on Kris's face as she led the charge down the staircase with a war cry.
Maddox's men never knew what hit them.
Kris and Christian lunged at them and knocked them cold before they could use the gun that was concealed on one of them. Christian took the gun and tucked it in the back of his jeans, covering it with the hem of his, or rather Kris's, shirt.
"Let's go," he said, his tone at a normal level. This time, Christian led the way down the stairs, with Kris right on his heels. They took the stairs as fast as they could, and started running as fast as they could when they got outside.
Kris glanced back once at her apartment building, and saw Maddox and two other men coming out and looking around.
"They're outside!" she squeaked the Christian as she ran alongside him. That only made the two of them run faster.
They ran until Kris felt like her lungs were going the explode out of her chest. She made Christian stop while she caught her breath.
"I...think we...we lost them," she said, panting and bent over double as they stood in an alleyway.
"We'd better get indoors before they find us," Christian told her. He went out onto the street, and came back a few moments later. "There's a motel down the street. We can stay there until this whole thing blows over."
He and Kris walked over to the motel, and paid the guy at the desk for a week's stay, then got the key the their room and went into it.
It wasn't a classy place at all. The beige walls and the ceiling were stained, and the bed was covered in poor-quality bedding. However, Kris didn't care. She collapsed onto the bed, spread eagle, and closed her eyes.
"This is a disaster," she groaned. "I can't even contact my own brother the tell him where I am! Even though it may save his life, it still hurts."
"Kris, we're going the get through this," Christian told her, sitting on the edge of the bed.
"You optimist," she teased him, cracking open one eye. Kris got up and paced through the room.
"Kris, calm down, would you? You're making me tired!" Christian exclaimed with a laugh after a few minutes.
"I can't help it, I'm full of adrenaline from that chase," Kris protested. "Hey, there's a pool here. Maybe I'll go for a swim." She paused, then frowned. "No bathing suit. Damn." Kris stopped pacing the regard Christian. "If I ask you a question, will you tell me the truth?"
"Of course," Christian replied without hesitating.
"How long do you think we're going the be holed up here?" she asked him.
"Honestly, Kris, I don't know," Christian answered her, looking apologetic. "I wish I knew, and I hope that it isn't very long, but I can't tell you. I couldn't even give you an estimate."
Kris sighed in frustration.
"I feel like a caged animal," she commented, resuming her pacing. Christian got up and took her arm the stop her.
"That's not going the help us, you know," he told her gently.
"I'm sorry, I can't help it. This whole thing has me really riled up," Kris admitted. Christian let go of Kris's arm, and she proceeded the walk over the a wall and punch it as hard as she could with the side of her hand. After repeating the process a few more times, she turned away, holding her hand gingerly and smiling contentedly. "I feel better now."
"Are you all right?" Christian asked her in concern.
"I feel fine," Kris told him. "That did wonders for my frustrations. You should try it sometime."
"No thanks, I don't want the have the pay for damages," Christian said with a chuckle they both managed the share, even under the extenuating circumstances.
A silence fell over the two as they milled about their conservatively-sized room, and it was broken only by a yawn from Kris.
"I can't stand all this excitement, obviously," she commented, smiling at herself.
"Here, take the bed," Christian said immediately, gesturing towards it. "I'll sleep on the floor."
"Christian, that floor is freezing, not the mention hard," Kris protested.
"Yeah, well, it's either the floor or the chair, and I think the floor is less likely the give me a sore neck," Christian told her.
"Why don't you just sleep in the bed? It certainly won't give you a sore neck," Kris suggested. Christian looked hesitant. "Christian, come on, this is me you're talking about here." She paused, a playful grin on her face and a mischievous twinkle in her green eyes. "Are you afraid of me?"
"No, not at all," Christian replied immediately. "It'd just be kind of weird. Don't you think so? I mean, after knowing each other all these years, you wouldn't find it strange the be sharing a bed with me?"
"Are you trying the tell me that you didn't mean what you said in the apartment last night?" Kris asked quietly, dejectedly. She lowered her head, casting her eyes to the floor in anticipation of the answer. She heard Christian move the stand directly in front of her. He placed a hand underneath her chin and tilted it upwards the that she had no choice but the look him straight in his mesmerizing blue eyes.
"I meant every word," Christian told her, his voice heady with emotion. "I still do. I love you, Kristina Heather Maria DeSantos."
The mere fact that Christian used her entire name nearly took Kris's breath away. It was incredibly rare that people ever bothered the learn her entire name, never mind use it when talking the her.
"I love you too, Christian Brenden O'Leary," Kris replied, her voice barely above a whisper as she gazed into Christian's soulful eyes. The next thing she knew, he was kissing her again, and that removed all doubt as the his feelings for her.
Shortly thereafter, Kris and Christian had no more qualms about who would be sleeping in the bed that night. In fact, they had no more qualms about anything. The only thing on their minds was each other, and the new places that that night would take them both.
Rocky entered his apartment half an hour after he'd left a little while ago.
"Hey Kris, hey Christian," he called once he was inside and had locked the door behind him. Nobody answered. "Anybody home?" Nothing. "Great, they must have gone out without me."
Rocky headed down the hall into the bathroom the take a shower. When he emerged from the steam-filled room a while later, Kris and Christian still weren't home. He began the grow worried about them as more time elapsed and he remained alone in the apartment. He wandered aimlessly into the living room, and his breath caught in his throat. Sitting there, reflecting the light was a silver communicator. Kris wouldn't take this off voluntarily, Rocky thought, a queasy feeling growing in the pit of his stomach. He picked up the communicator gingerly, and then made a quick decision and teleported to the Power Chamber.
"Rocky, what are you doing here?" Alpha 5 asked him as soon as he noticed Rocky's arrival. "Is there a problem?"
"You could say that," Rocky said grimly. Quickly, he outlined what had been going on between Kris, Christian and the Shock Waves. He held up the communicator as proof. "She's disappeared with Christian, and I don't know if she got captured, or went into hiding and didn't want the be found by even the Power Rangers. Can you locate her?"
"Without her communicator, it would be too difficult the isolate her in the city," Zordon replied, sounding as regretful as Rocky had ever heard him.
"But what about her Power Coin?" Rocky persisted. "Can't you scan for that?"
"Kristina does not have a Power Coin. Instead, her powers come from within her, making a Power Coin unnecessary," Zordon explained.
"Then scan for her energy signal!" Rocky exclaimed.
"I'll get on that right away," Alpha said, scurrying over the a computer console. Rocky was right behind him, looking over his shoulder the entire time. "I think I have something!"
Rocky snatched the computer printout from Alpha's robotic hands, skimmed it, then turned the look at Zordon.
"Tell the others that I've gone to the American Wake Motel, and the meet me there in uniform as soon as they can," he said. Then, without waiting for an answer, he teleported out, leaving the printout behind. Immediately, Alpha contacted the other Rangers, and told them the teleport to the Power Chamber. Within minutes, they had all assembled.
"Where's Rocky?" Adam asked, noticing his friend wasn't among the congregated group.
"Kris and Christian went to the American Wake Motel, presumably the hide from the Shock Waves, and Rocky went the join them," Zordon told the group. "He asked that you meet him there in uniform as soon as you could."
"Let's go check this out, guys. Rocky could need our help," Tommy said, looking at his peers. "It's morphin time!"
"Zeo Ranger One, Pink!"
"Zeo Ranger Two, Yellow!"
"Zeo Ranger Four, Green!"
"Zeo Ranger Five, Red!"
"Gold Ranger Power!"
Once they had morphed, the Rangers teleported to the motel.
Late that evening, Kris and Christian were laying awake in their bed. Kris was laying with her back against Christian's chest, and he had his arm draped across her torso. Kris let out a little sigh of contentment, and smiled at Christian over her shoulder. He smiled back at her, and kissed her shoulder, causing Kris the shiver delightedly.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Both of them started, not having expected the be disturbed at that hour of the evening.
"Should we answer that?" Kris whispered in Christian's ear as he looked at the door as if he could see through it by sheer willpower.
"No, wait here," Christian replied. He pulled on his jeans and crept over to the doorway. Kris waited over by the bed, beginning the get dressed.
No sooner had she pulled on her shirt than Christian gave her a look of combined terror and fury.
Are they here? Kris mouthed the him. Christian replied with a simple nod. What are we going the do?
Bathroom, Christian mouthed the her. Kris gave him a puzzled look, but complied. Christian joined her a moment later. He said nothing, but instead stood up on the edge of the bathtub and began prying the window open. Another round of knocks on the door only made him work faster, and shortly cool air began the blow into the bathroom. Christian got down off of the edge of the bathtub and locked his hands together.
"Come on, let's get you out of here," he murmured, looking at Kris.
"You're coming, aren't you?" Kris asked, placing a foot on his hands.
"Of course I am," Christian replied. "I wouldn't leave you, you know that."
Kris straightened and locked her leg, and allowed Christian the boost her up to the window. She went through it with one leg, then the other, and slid out into the alley that ran beside the motel. Kris turned and looked back at the window anxiously. She saw Christian's head appear just as she heard a loud bang. She flattened herself against the wall in the shadows reflexively. When Christian jumped down and landed beside her, Kris was relieved. However, she had no time the voice her thoughts. Angry male voices could be heard from within the motel room, which caused Kris and Christian the run away from that place as fast as they could.
"Hey, there they go!" someone shouted. Christian and Kris didn't have the look back the know that it was they that was being talked about. They ran down the abandonned, night-darkened streets, turning corners as sharply as they could, but still they heard foot pounding on the concrete behind them.
"That empty garbage bin! If we get in it, we can get rid of them!" Kris exclaimed between heaving breaths. Christian was a few paces ahead of her, but had seen what she meant. Christian reached it before she did, and stood behind it, ready the push it once Kris had gotten in.
"Kris, come on!" Christian shouted as he placed both hands against the waist-high rim of the garbage bin. Kris had fallen several feet behind him, and was slowing down by the second. With every step and every burning breath that she took in, she cursed her asthma.
"Go without me!" she called the him after glancing over her shoulder and noticing that Maddox and his gang were fairly close behind her.
"No! Come on, Kris, you can make it!" Christian yelled.
"I'm trying," she replied, distraught. At that moment, just as she neared Christian, she tripped as one of her undone shoelaces caught on a sharp piece of scrap metal that someone had left in the alley, and it sent her flying into Christian. He fell forward into the garbage bin, and it started rolling out into the street.
"Christian!" Kris screamed, watching as Christian stuck his head out from the garbage bin.
"Kris!" he cried, watching helplessly as Maddox and his gang closed in on her.
Kris freed her foot, but by that time it was too late. Maddox and the others were close enough that Kris could basically see the whites of their eyes. She trembled as they encircled her.
"Well, well, looks like we got one of the little brats," Maddox said with an evil grin, pulling out a gun and pointing it at Kris.
"But what about the guy, boss?" one of Maddox's thugs asked.
"Christian!" Maddox shouted. "If you ever want the see Kris alive again, you'll come find us at our old base! I'm sure you remember where it is! If you're not there in 2 hours, she dies...slowly and painfully!"
"You monster!" Christian roared, leaping from the moving garbage bin. However, Maddox was already dragging Kris the a hot wired car, and sped away before Christian could do anything. Christian looked around, and spotted an old, beat-up car, and ran over the it. He got into the drivers' side, hot wired it, and started the engine.
"Hey, that's my car!" a man shouted, coming out of the apartment building.
"Sorry!" Christian called the him, speeding off after Maddox.
The man stood on the sidewalk, angry.
"Hey, wait, this means I can collect the insurance and get a better car," he realized. "Enjoy the car! Don't bring it back!"
At the old, abandonned warehouse that had served at the headquarters for the Shock Waves for several years now, Kris had been dumped in a storage closet near the back of the warehouse, which was filled with metal shelves, old inoperable machinery and lots and lots of debris.
"Enjoy your stay," Maddox said cruelly, smiling at Kris in a way that made her shudder as he shut the door to the storage closet. Kris, who had been gagged and bound at her wrists and ankles, could do nothing but lay there as she was locked in.
I don't believe this! she thought the herself. Why me? Oh, I hope Christian doesn't come; they'll kill us both for sure! As long as he's alive, he can incriminate Maddox and the others and put them in jail. Christian, I love you. Please, please be all right! Slowly, Kris closed her eyes in resignation, allowing her mind the travel along whatever lines it wanted the.
"Hang on, Kris, I'm coming," Christian muttered the himself as he turned down onto the poorly paved road that led to the warehouse. The road was so overgrown that if you didn't know exactly where it was, you'd never know it had ever existed, especially since the warehouse wasn't visible from the infrequently-used highway. Driving as quickly as he dared, with his headlights off, Christian neared the warehouse.
This doesn't look good, Rocky thought the himself as he arrived in front of the door to the motel room where Kris and Christian were supposedly staying. He went inside, his senses alert, and saw that nobody was home. He looked back at the entrance, and saw that the door was hanging on only one hinge, causing Rocky the realize that the door had been forced open, probably by someone kicking it. Becoming more and more frantic, Rocky searched the small motel room, and came to the conclusion that Kris and Christian had been forced the make a hurried escape, and he was afraid that he knew why.
"We're here, Rocky. What did you need us for?" Tommy asked. Rocky jumped and whirled, not having heard his friends arrive.
"Kris and Christian were staying here, but now they're gone, and I'm afraid that the Shock Waves have them," Rocky explained quickly. "We have the go back to the Power Chamber and find them before something happens the either of them."
"Let's go," Tommy said. Rocky stood beside his friends, and the 6 of them teleported.
"Did you find them?" Alpha asked when they got to the Power Chamber.
"They left the motel. Can you run another scan and search for Kris again?" Rocky asked the little android.
"I'll do my best," Alpha promised. "It just might take a little time."
Rocky leaned against a console worriedly.
"We don't have any time," he murmured, mostly the himself.
Christian left the car several hundred feet away from the warehouse, hidden in a bunch of bushes. He crept towards the warehouse on foot, keeping as low to the ground as he could in case Maddox had patrols running along the outside of the warehouse. However, the gang leader had taken no such precautions. Christian made it so that he was alongside one of the walls of the warehouse, and peeked into the first window he came the. The his shock, he saw a slender, still form laying on the ground. Through the darkness, Christian couldn't tell for sure, but he would have bet on the fact that the figure he was watching was Kris. He held his breath and made sure he kept perfectly still as the door to the small room in which Kris was locked opened, and a man stood there. Christian could tell it wasn't Maddox, but he couldn't tell exactly which of Maddox's goons it was. Wait and see, he thought grimly, preparing himself the jump through that window if Kris desperately needed his help.
Kris realized she had fallen asleep when the door to the supply closet that she had been locked in opened suddenly. However, Kris pretended the still be asleep, though she was afraid that her pounding heart would give her away.
"Hello there," a man's soft voice reached her ears. "How're you doing?"
Kris gave him no answer, keeping up her facade.
"I didn't mean the disturb the sleeping beauty," the man told her, entering into the room fully and closing the door behind him. Kris's heart nearly leapt from her throat, thinking that this was the end for her. She could sense the man crouching down beside her, and could almost feel his eyes on her. He touched the cool skin on her arm gently. "You're freezing." Well no kidding, idiot! You would be too if you were in a tank top! Kris exclaimed mentally. "Here, let me help you with that." He began the rub her arms, heating them up through friction. He moved his hands up the her shoulders, and then began moving down the front of her chest. It took all of Kris's willpower the not fling her eyes open and use both her legs the kick the man where the sun don't shine. However, she remained as still as ever, her mind crying out for help.
The man's hands roamed down the front of her body, then moved away. Kris almost breathed a sigh of relief.
"Are you cold anywhere else?" the man wondered, talking more or less the himself. Kris's blood froze in her veins, and she nearly screamed. Just as she felt hands at her belt, she heard a loud crash from the window above her, and shards of glass rained down on her, cutting her bare skin in some places. The man gave a short exclamation that was quickly cut off, and followed by a dull thud as his body his the ground.
"Kris, are you all right?" came a familiar voice through the darkness. Kris opened her eyes, and focused on the face that matched the voice.
"Christian!" she exclaimed quietly around the gag that was in her mouth, filled with a sense of relief. She felt his hands untying her wrists, her ankles, and then he gently removed the gag. Kris flung her arms around him, and she felt him hug her back.
"How did you get here so quickly?" she asked him.
"I borrow a car from a friend," Christian lied. "Come on, we have the get out of here before the others find me here."
"Too late," came a third voice. Christian and Kris looked up and saw Maddox standing there, gun trained on them. "I must thank you for coming here, Christian. It saves me the trouble of having the hunt you down for a third time."
"I did nothing the help you, I came the help Kris," Christian growled, still holding Kris in his arms.
"It doesn't matter the me why you did it," Maddox said nonchalantly. "All that matters is that you're here now, and I can take you both out with one shot."
"Good idea," Kris said, kicking her right foot up sharply and connecting with Maddox's groin. He dropped the gun, which Kris picked up, and trained on him. "Christian, tie him up. Let's see how he likes confinement."
"With pleasure," Christian said. He quickly bound Maddox's arms and legs, then stuffed the gag in his mouth. "Enjoy your stay." Christian closed the door, and locked it from the outside. "If we do this right, we can get away before the others notice there's something wrong."
A gunshot punctuated his words.
"You think we're a little late for that?" Kris asked as the two of them dove behind a wall of shelving.
"Just a bit," Christian replied wryly, pulling out the gun he had seized from one of Maddox's men earlier. "Do you still remember how the fire one of those things?"
"It's been a while, but I think I can handle it," Kris replied, memories of holding a blaster in her hands resurfacing. "If we stay along the walls, we should be able the sneak past them and get to the door."
Christian nodded in agreement, and the two of them made their way along the back wall, towards the far side wall.
"Come out, come out, wherever you are!" one of Maddox's men called.
"Yea right," Kris muttered under her breath.
A pounding echoed through the warehouse as Maddox began hitting the door the his makeshift prison. There was an exchange of voices for a moment, then everything went silent.
"Kris! Christian!" Maddox shouted. The two froze. "I know you're in here. Reveal yourselves, and I'll be lenient! I promise!" When Christian and Kris didn't answer, Maddox began the grow angry. "OK, men, spread out!"
"Right boss." Words of accord reached Kris and Christian's ears.
"We have the get out of here now," Kris whispered the Christian.
Suddenly, a gunshot echoed through the warehouse, and a hole appeared in the metal shelving two feet above Christian's head. Kris let out a yelp, then immediately regretted it. She and Christian hurried along, following the walls.
"There they are!" Maddox shouted. He aimed and fired, nearly hitting Kris, but missing by a few mere inches.
"Just a little further," Christian said the Kris, trying the reassure the shaken young woman.
"Yep, just several hundred feet," Kris replied shakily. They heard footsteps behind them, approaching them. Christian whirled, still staying close to the ground, gun aimed. He pushed Kris's head down with his free hand and fired overtop of her, trying the stay as far away from her ears as he could so he wouldn't deafen her. He just managed the clip the man in his side with a bullet. The man went down, clutching at his wound.
"Let's get out of here before his buddies join him," Christian advised, pulling Kris the her feet. The two continued the run, but their path was blocked off as two of Maddox's goons stepped straight in their way. Christian and Kris dodged to the right just as they were fired upon. Thankfully, none of the bullets hit their mark. They started running down one of the aisles, and they could see the door ahead of them. However, several obstacles, mainly ones that were firing at them, laid ahead, behind and beside them.
"We can do this," Kris said the Christian as they run. Christian fired behind him blindly, hoping the deter any fire that was directed at them.
"Get them you fools!" Maddox shouted. "They're almost at the exit!"
"We're going, boss!" came a shouted reply. "Get back here you two!"
"Not on your puny life!" Kris yelled back disgustedly. Without really thinking, she fired the gun she was carrying behind her. She heard an exclamation of pain, and realized she had hit someone.
"Don't look back!" Christian advised her, taking her hand as they ran side-by-side. However, Kris couldn't help but glance over her shoulder. She saw one of the men laying on the ground, deathly still. "Oh my God! What have I done?!" Kris asked herself in a hoarse whisper.
"You're doing what you have the do the stay alive," Christian told her. "Now run. We're almost there."
"Christian, this is just like how it was. Do you remember?" Kris asked, her lungs beginning the burn. Not now! Please, not now! she begged mentally.
"Don't think about the past. Think about reaching that door," Christian said firmly.
"You're not going the make it, you know!" Maddox shouted at them.
"Go the hell!" Christian spat, never breaking his stride.
Maddox took careful aim at the two, figuring if he hit one of them the other would stop, and he could finish them both off, then. Maddox checked his aim, and pulled the trigger. A loud BANG!! reverberated throughout the warehouse as the bullet sped towards the two teens.
Christian had sensed that they were being targeted, and ran behind Kris. It proved the be a fatal error, for the bullet that had been driving through the air at top speeds ended up lodged firmly in the right-hang side of Christian's back. He cried out as a searing pain ran from the wound throughout his entire body, consuming him. Christian stumbled over his own feet as his brain began the shut down from the pain, and he fell the his knees on the concrete floor.
Kris stopped running and knelt beside him.
"Come on, you have the get up," she told him, taking his left arm and trying the pull him the his feet. She succeeded in getting him upright, but it didn't last long as he collapsed once more, this time taking her with him.
"I've got you now!" Maddox crowed triumphantly, advancing with his goons on the two. Kris got the her feet and fired the gun she carried. One shot took down Maddox, the bullet going straight through his soft spot on his left side. Another bullet grazed two of his men in the legs, and they too hit the ground. The remaining man saw the fury and outrage in Kris's eyes, and dove behind some metal shelving, hoping the avoid being hit. Kris emptied the last rounds of her gun into the metal shelving, not caring who or what she hit.
When her gun became useless, and the gang members were all too stunned the move, Kris dropped the weapon and knelt down beside Christian.
"Come on, I've got the get you to the car so we can get you to the hospital," she told him, putting a shoulder beneath his left armpit.
"Kris, I'm not going the make it," Christian whispered the her.
"Don't you dare talk like that the me, understand?" Kris asked him, her eyes burning with a passion that no one had ever seen there before. "You've always told me the think positively. We're both going the come out of this alive."
Neither of them noticed that the Power Rangers had arrived at the scene by now in full uniform. The Blue Ranger started the go towards them, but was held back by his friends, and could only watch the proceedings.
Christian reached into his jeans and pulled out a small blue velvet box.
"I was saving this for the right time, but I guess it won't come," he said, starting the grow weak. He handed the box the Kris. "Open it."
Inside, there was a beautiful gold band, and a small diamond set in it, bordered by silver.
"Kristina, you're the best friend I've ever had. Lately, you've become more the me, as I have the you. I didn't have enough money the get you a ring by myself, so I had the borrow money from your friends. Tell them I'm sorry I'll never get the chance the pay them back," Christian said, his chest beginning the heave.
Kris had tears in her eyes as she gazed from the ring to the man that she loved who was laying in her lap.
"Christian," she whispered.
"I love you, Kristina," Christian continued. "And I've been meaning the ask you something." He paused for a breath, then continued. "Kristina Heather Maria DeSantos, would you marry me?"
"God, Christian Brendan O'Leary, of course," Kris breathed, hugging him as rightly as she dared. She placed a gentle kiss on his lips, then pulled away. By now, both of them were crying. Kris's eyes were bright green with tears. "Christian, don't leave me. I need you. I love you too much the let you go."
"I always thought we'd be together forever," Christian rasped. "I just never thought forever would come this soon for me. Just remember, Kristina, that I love you with all of my heart."
"I love you too, Christian," Kris replied. "Just hang on. We'll get you the a hospital. We'll do something. Just please, don't die. Hang on, for me!"
"I want the, Kristina, but I can't," Christian told her. "You know that if I had a choice, I'd stay with you until the end of time, but your time extends further than mine does. No matter what, I'll always be with you. And I'll always love you."
Kris was sobbing openly, realizing the end was near, but not wanting the accept it.
"I left you something back at the apartment," Christian continued. "Whenever you need me or you need the remember me, just listen to the tape. I promise you, if I was singing any of those words the you, they would come from the bottom of my heart, my soul, my all."
"I can't lose you now!" Kris whispered frantically. Her tears were falling from her face and onto Christian's bare chest. Vaguely, she realized he must have left his shirt back at the motel. Christian reached up, and took Kris's hand, squeezing it with whatever strength he had left.
"I don't want the leave you, but it's my time," he told her, his voice barely audible.
"No, it's not!" Kris protested tearfully. "It can't be!"
"It is," Christian replied, his voice husky with pain, regret, but most of all love. "I'll always be with you."
Kris had nothing left the say. What was there the say at a time like this? Instead, she just held Christian in her arms, gazing down at his soulful blue eyes. One last time, she lowered her head and let his lips brush hers. She would always remember their warmth, their fullness, their taste, their gentleness against her own.
She raised her head again, and found Christian examining her.
"I want the take one last look at you, before I go the heaven and meet the rest of the angels," he told her, smiling a little. Kris blushed and more tears fell from her eyes, slid down her cheeks, and trickled away. "I love you, Kristina." Christian squeezed Kris's hand again, then took one last breath and closed his eyes. The breath he had taken in was expelled, and no more life would ever be breathed into that body again.
"NO!!!" Kris screamed. Her voice pieced the dawn. Her sobs echoed through the surrounding woods. Her breaths fluttered between her lips as her grief grew and tried the escape, only the be brought back once more. "No. Please no. God no. Why him? Why not me? Christian, I love you. Please don't leave me. I need you more than anything. I can't live without you. Why did you have the leave me? Why? WHY??"
A few feet away, the Rangers watched the emotional scene. They had taken their helmets off when they realized that everybody else was unconscious. Tanya and Kat had tears running down their cheeks. Tommy and Adam had anguished looks on their faces. Jason looked at Kris, his chocolate eyes reflecting pain for several different reasons. Rocky was crying outright, partly on behalf of his sister's loss, but also because he was glad that she was all right.
Meanwhile, still cradling Christian's lifeless body, Kris continued the murmur incomprehensibly. Her sobs racked her body. She was moaning, and hugged Christian tightly. A whimper escaped her lips, and was followed by another whimper.
Rocky stepped forward, crouched behind Kris, and laid a hand on her shoulder. Kris rested Christian's body gently on the ground, and threw herself into her brother's arms, crying for all she was worth.
"It's not fair!" she exclaimed between intakes of breath and muffled sobs.
"I know, I know," Rocky told her, stroking her light brown hair. "We're all going the miss him."
"This is so stupid," Kris said bitterly. "Why did this have the happen the us? The anyone? The him? He's the first person I've ever loved! Why couldn't it have been me instead of him?"
"There's nothing you can do the change what happened," Rocky said gently, not knowing what the say in this awkward position. "None of this is your fault. It's nobody's fault. No one could have predicted that this would have happened."
"If I hadn't joined that stupid gang in the first place, maybe none of this would have ever happened! Rocky, I feel so guilty!" Kris sobbed, pulling away from him and tightening herself into a little ball on the ground. "He loved me. He wanted the marry me. Oh God, what have I done??"
"Kris, you haven't done anything," Tanya supplied, stepping forward. "There was nothing you could have done the prevent this. Any of this."
"I know, but still..." Kris trailed off.
"Come on, let's go home," Rocky said, taking Kris by the arm and pulling her the her feet.
"But what about Christian? We can't just leave him here," Kris protested, glancing back at the inanimate young man laying just a few feet away.
"We'll take him to the cemetery, and he'll have a proper burial," Kat said, jumping in.
Satisfied, Kris allowed herself the be teleported away from the abandonned warehouse and the her own apartment.
Several days later, eight teens dressed in black and a minister stood a few feet away from a dark wooden coffin that was hanging above a ready grave. It was absolutely pouring rain, and though there were umbrellas present Kris chose not the use one. Instead, she let her long black skirt and her black blouse become plastered the her body with the falling rain. She didn't care about the precipitation. Her attentions remained focused on the coffin in front of her.
"Christian said he wanted me the play this tape for you in case he didn't come through this," Rocky told Kris once the minister had finished his blessings. Kris looked over at him numbly and nodded. Someone had brought a battery-operated tape deck. Rocky popped the tape in, and pressed play. "He mixed this tape himself. He hoped that you would like it."
A second later, guitar and drum beats reached her ears.
Find myself all alone...
In darkness without you.
Now I can't turn away...
From what I must do.
You know I'd give my life for you...
More than words can say.
I've shown you how the love someone,
I know you'll find a way.
Close your eyes...
The sun remains...
I'll live on somewhere in your heart.
You must believe...
No way I can change my mind...
I don't have the answers.
If you could see through my eyes...
You'd let go of your fears.
And though I have the leave you now,
With the thought of each other.
I'll miss your touch,
You call my name,
I am with you forever.
Close your eyes...
The sun remains...
With the change we can't explain...
You know I'd give my life for you...
More than words can say...
I showed you how the love someone,
I know you'll find a way.
Be there the watch over you,
Feel I'm gone,
My heart lives on,
Don't you think of this as the end...
I'll come into your dreams.
Close your eyes......
Say you will...
Say you will...
Say you will...
Close your eyes...
Say you will...
Say you will...
Say you will...
By the end of the song, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Kris was crying openly, and it was the only sound other than the rain beating softly upon Christian's coffin that was heard the dismal afternoon.
Once the coffin had been lowered into the ground and a tarp placed over the aperture, the minister offered words of condolences the Kris. She nodded and thanked the man, but never heard what he said. Her eyes were transfixed upon the earth where her longtime friend, fiancÚ, lover, was now resting for eternity, finally at peace and unpursued.
Kris got down on her knees in the muddy soil in front of where Christian's coffin laid, and lifted the top half of the tarp from the coffin, folding it back on itself.
"I love you, Christian Brendan O'Leary, and I'll never forget you," Kris whispered, placing a single long-stem red rose of the lid of the coffin, and she lightly kissed the varnished wood. "No matter what, I will always love you."
The End (for now!)