"You...." Tommy growled, his voice changed by the spell he was under. He reached back, and punched the Blue Ranger. Even though he was morphed, Rocky could feel the strike through his helmet. :He isn't even morphed,: the Blue Ranger thought, as he fell to the ground from the force of the blow. Tommy straddled Rocky and snarled "She's MINE!" as he began raining punches down on the trapped boy.
Rocky saw Jason behind Tommy, and as soon as the Red Guardian had managed to get Tommy off of Rocky, the Blue Ranger jumped to his feet. But just as he thought he was in the clear, Rocky felt Tommy's hand clamp down on his shoulder, jerking him back. "Get back here!" Tommy snapped.
Rocky felt the heat radiating from the Pit of Eternal Flame, and swallowed nervously. Taking a dip in the lava below was definitely NOT on his list of things to do today. The surface of the lava seemed to lift and swell, like the lave was breathing, and Rocky felt the evil rolling out of the pit. Belatedly, he realized that Tommy was talking.
"I trusted you with her, and you betrayed my trust. Well, if you think that you can sleep with Alex without paying for it, you're sadly mistaken," Tommy growled. "Alex is MINE, and no one can have her but me!"
Rocky was alarmed. He hadn't even THOUGHT about touching Alex. What was Tommy talking about?
He struggled against Tommy's grip, and winced as the hand tightened. Somehow, Maligore's spell had strengthened the Red Ranger until he was stronger that when he was morphed. He heard Brynne and Trey talking, and he saw a flash of white move behind Tommy. Since he could see Dale, busy fighting Piranahtrons, it had to be Hunter.
But just when he expected to be tackled away from Tommy, the Red Ranger shoved Rocky towards the Pit, stepping back to avoid Hunter, and the Blue Ranger felt his feet reach the edge of the Pit, and then the momentum of the shove sent him tumbling into the Pit.
"No!" Rocky whispered as he sat up. A whisper was all that his throat would allow. Looking around, he realized that he was back in his bedroom. "Whoa," he muttered to himself. "What a nightmare." He rubbed his hand over his face and through his sweat soaked hair. Glancing at the clock, he saw that it was fifteen minutes to midnight. Knowing that he wouldn't get back to sleep any time soon, Rocky decided to get up anyway.
As he walked down the hallway to the bathroom, he passed Alex's bedroom, and part of the dream echoed through his mind. :If you think that you can sleep with Alex without paying for it, you're sadly mistaken,: Tommy's words on Muiranthias played through his mind. He was going to ask when he got Tommy alone today, the Blue Ranger decided. What Tommy had said had left Rocky frightened and scared.
Kat snuggled against the warm body pressed before her, and asked, "Any nightmares?" She looked up at the smiling eyes of her boyfriend, and smiled at him. They were lying together in Hunter's bed.
Hunter chuckled, and said, "I think that the demons that bring them heard that you were with me, and they ran screaming, my love." He kissed Kat on the lips, and said, "Thank you for spending the night."
Since Hunter had the Safehouse all to himself at night, Kat had agreed to spend the night with him, to keep the nightmares away. According to Hunter, they were always the same thing, about Angel, and her rape of him, in her Order Pocket. They hadn't appeared until after he had started taking a serious interest in Kat. On their recent adventure to Muiranthias, Kat had found out about Angel, and started the first step towards healing Hunter's mental wounds. Last night, they wound up not having done anything, but just sleeping in the other's arms, chasing the nightmare memories from the White Ranger.
Both teens sat up, and began getting dressed. Kat turned to Hunter, and said, "I'm glad I was able to help. Uhm... Hunt, I was wondering...."
"Yeah?" he asked
"How much have you told Brynne... about us?" she asked.
"Would you be offended if I said that I told her everything, without going into detail?"
"What! Why?" Kat asked.
"She was the only person around that could heal my wounds when I was bedridden with fever, and delirious. She found out in FULL detail what Angel had done to me, from me." Hunter shrugged, and added, "I thought that she should know," he ended lamely.
"It's okay, Hunt," Kat said, and kissed the White Ranger on the cheek. "I was just wondering why." She wrapped her arms around his waist, and drew him to her gently. Even though he had gotten over the worst of his fright, he would still be shaken if Kat became to rough.
She laid her head on his shoulder, and closed her eyes. Listening to his heartbeat, she slowly slid her fingers down Hunter's chest. Now that she knew they were there, she could feel the scars, but if she hadn't known, she would never have felt the tiny bumps under his shirt.
"Kat... on the Ghost Galleon," Hunter began, "that was the most... awesome experience in my life. Even better than Angel." Kat pulled back to meet his eyes, puzzled and a little hurt. "Even though what Angel had done to me was awful, it had pleasure mixed in with the pain," Hunter explained. "I couldn't help but hate it and love it at the same time. But that time with you, it showed me that loving someone doesn't have to hurt. Thank you." He brushed back a lock of fine, blonde hair, and smiled at the Pink Ranger.
Kat's wounded look faded, but she didn't smile as she said, "Well, if that's all..."
Hunter said, "I think that you're-" What ever he said was cut off as his communicator went off.
The couple broke apart, and Hunter answered the communicator. "Yes?"
"Hunter, it's Trey," Trey said. "You told me that there were things that you needed to tell me before I married to Brynne. Care to meet me in the park in about fifteen minutes?"
Kat and Hunter exchanged glances, and Hunter said, "I'll be there." He glanced at Kat, and grinned lopsidedly. "We can finish this discussion later." The Pink Ranger nodded, and Hunter held out his hand. "Care to join us, m'lady?" Kat giggled and accepted his hand, and as he spun her into his arms, shifted them from the Safehouse while Kat was still in mid-spin.
Rocky found the Red and Purple Rangers in the Safehouse. "Hey, Tommy, Angela," Rocky greeted. Brynne and Billy had found a way to integrate the Shifting ability of the Gate callers into the Power Chamber's teleportation systems, so that any ranger could go to and from the Safehouse, but only from there to the Power Chamber. Anywhere else, and they had to use a Gate Caller.
Both teens were working on a way to try and contact Brynne. It was a continuing project, and everyone took turns on some area of the project. Angela and Tommy were working on some device that Hunter have given them the plans for, and Tommy asked, "What can do for you?"
Rocky asked Tommy, "Can I talk to you privately?"
"Sure?" Turning to Angela, he said, "Why don't you go work on this in the back, all right?"
"Sure," Angela said, and moved towards the back of the Safehouse.
Rocky lead the leader of the Zeo Rangers aside, and asked in a soft tone, "Is there something that you haven't told anyone?"
"What do you mean?" Tommy asked.
"Well..., what did you know on Muiranthias?"
"Huh?" Tommy asked, lost.
"Well, last night, I had a nightmare about what happened, and you kept accusing me of sleeping with Alex."
"Well..," Tommy looked sheepish, and then admitted, "I... saw what looked like you and Alex.... together."
Something clattered to the ground behind them, and they turned. Only to see Angela standing behind them, staring at them in shock. She had been reaching out for a micro torch and had dropped it. "Would you care to repeat that, Thomas Oliver?" She was either royally pissed off, or in shock. The boys couldn't tell which.
"Angela, it doesn't mean anything," Tommy said.
"Ange, I'd never do that to-" Rocky began.
"Just answer the damn question, Oliver!" Angela snapped.
Tommy blanched, because he had never heard his sister swear except when she was extremely angry or upset. Knowing that it was better to tell the truth that to try and lie to her when she was in this kind of mood, Tommy sighed. "In a precog, I saw Rocky and Alex... together," he said.
Angela's face crumpled in pain, and Rocky stepped towards her. "Ange, I'd-" he started, reaching for his girlfriend. She stepped back, cutting Rocky off.
"Don't you touch me! Don't!" she said, pulling back as Rocky reached for her again. "Just don't touch me!"
Rocky took a step after her, and then his shoulders slumped. "Angela, I'd never.....," he said. But Angela shifted out before he could complete his sentence.
Hunter and Kat arrived in the middle of a clearing in the park, and Kat finished spinning into his arms, the motion had been frozen in mid-action during the shifting. As Kat started tumbling to the ground, Hunt caught her, and said, "I have you, Lady Kat." She grinned, and they started leaning in for a kiss.
"You know," a voice broke in, "I could leave and let you two finish this." Hunter dropped Kat in surprise as he straightened up, and Kat glared at Trey.
"You know, you could give some sort of warning," she grouched as she pushed herself up onto her elbows. She smiled in forgiveness as Trey offered her a hand up, and said, "Well, it's time I went home anyway. Have a nice chat, you two." She started to walk away, when Angela shifted into the clearing, obviously crying.
"Angela?" Kat asked. The Purple Ranger saw the others, and burst into new tears.
"To-to-tommy said th-th-that he saw Ro-rocky was go-going to ch-cheat on me," Angela sobbed. Kat pulled the distraught girl into a comforting hug. The two guys stayed a safe distance, not wanting to be the object of Angela's attention when she finally lashed out. They had seen her like this only twice, but each time, she had a nasty punch, both verbal and physical, that she tended to strike out with. They looked up as Tommy entered the clearing.
"Angela," Tommy said softly, and that's when Angela lashed out verbally at the nearest male, which happened to be her twin.
"Why didn't you tell us? You should have told ME!" the Purple Ranger snarled.
"I know Angela," Tommy said softly.
"You know? You KNOW?" Angela asked disbelievingly. "How the hell would you know, you son of a bitch!" With that, she swung out, and connected with Tommy's jaw.
The Red Ranger staggered to the ground from the force of the blow, but Angela's anger had been spent. She shook her head, and saw Tommy rubbing his jaw. "Oh, my God," she whispered, and then hurried over to Tommy. "Tommy, I'm so sorry!" she apologized, helping Tommy up.
"Don't worry," Tommy said, still massaging his jaw. "You've been working on your punches, haven't you?"
"Being a ranger will do that," she replied sarcastically.
Tommy put his hand on Angela's arm, and asked, "Will you talk to Rocky?"
Angela met her brother's eyes, and then looked away. "I can't," she said softly. "Just... not yet. I can't look at him right now."
"I understand," Tommy said, and looked away.
Kat looked at her leader, and knew from the look on his face that something else was bothering him. "And?" she asked.
"What?" Tommy asked, looking at Kat confusedly.
"You're still troubled," Kat replied. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing!" Tommy said, until Angela swung him to meet her eyes. She looked him dead in the eye and said, "Talk," in such a no-nonsense tone that Tommy was forced to tell the truth.
"I'm feeling the edges of a precog coming on, and it's bad."
"Why?" Angela asked. "What do you see?"
Tommy concentrated, and with a flash of light, he saw Brynne standing in the park, looking around.
Out of the shadows Alex stepped out, and approached Brynne. The Silver Ranger greeted her friend warmly and they talked briefly, their words almost inaudible to the watching Red Ranger, and then Brynne knelt and dug into her bag. Try as he might, Tommy couldn't warn the Silver Ranger until it was too late.
Alex morphed into the black Ranger outfit he had seen her in before, kicked Brynne from behind, and in a frighteningly savage move, wrapped one hand around her friend's throat and shoved her against a tree, screaming like a maniac the whole time. Brynne tried to fight back, but Alex smashed Brynne against the tree again and again, her hands never leaving Brynne's throat, the anguished shrieking continuing.
The Red Ranger shook his head, and his sight returned to normal. "Oh, God," he said, paling. He staggered as he tried to regain his equilibrium, and Angela and Kat caught him.
"What?" Angela asked, supporting her twin.
"I think we should get everyone to the Power Chamber, now," Tommy said. "I think Bry's going to need backup."
Tommy looked at Trey and Hunter and said, "Tanya and Adam, should still be in the Youth Center. Run over and tell them to teleport to the Power Chamber." The White and Gold Rangers nodded, and jogged off. Angela, Kat, and Tommy teleported out in streams of purple, pink, and red.
As soon as the last light from their teleport faded away, Adam asked, "What's wrong?"
Tommy was sitting on the examining table, recovering from the precog, and said, "I had another precog, and this one was a doozy. But before I tell you that, I think I had better start from the beginning."
The rangers exchanged worried looks, and Adam said, "Okay."
"It all started shortly after the accident that knocked Alex into the Multiversal Nexus. It was a dream, and it started out with the accident itself, being replayed over and over again. But this time, I could SEE the Shadow Rift open, and Alex preparing a spell. I saw the energies for the spell she was preparing being attracted to Brynne's blast, and then wrapping around Alex as she was knocked into the Shadow Rift behind her."
Tommy took a deep breath, and said, "In the next part of the dream, I saw Alex, dressed like she was in standby mode, kneeling before something so... evil, that I could feel the cold rolling off of whoever it was, even after I woke up. I couldn't get a good look at who ever it was, but when Brynne saw it later, it shook her. I THINK it was Ma'erok."
"After that?" Rocky asked. He was already starting to not like the drift of Tommy's dreams so far.
"After that, shortly after the projector exploded, I had another dream. Alex was lying on an alter, a black stone alter, and she was asleep, so deep that I almost couldn't tell that she was there. As I stepped towards her, a Shadow Ranger, that looked exactly like Alex had when she had still been a ranger, appeared, and it had her mage powers. That was how I knew to scan the realities where there wasn't a Shadius, because the Shadow Ranger kept saying, 'She's without me!' It had even used Alex's voice."
Tommy looked away, and then said, "When Brynne and I had been in Divatox's subcraft, with Jason and Kim, I... had a third precog. It came in a series of three flashes. I saw... hell, I'm not sure what I saw," Tommy said, and stood up. He began pacing, and then said, "What I caught, at first I wasn't sure of. It was Alex..., and not her. Her hair was pure black. She appeared before me again, and she grinned. She had fangs, like a vampire. In the third, I saw her in bed with someone, but I didn't recognize who it was at the time."
Tommy stopped and closed his eyes before continuing. "I saw... I had another precog, while Brynne and I were over the Pit on Muiranathias. In it, I saw Alex again, making love to her partner, and I finally saw his face. It was Rocky."
The rangers made various sounds of surprise, or denial, but Tommy cut them off. "It WAS Rocky. I wanted to deny that it was him, but it was."
With his eyes still closed, he could see the dream he had last night in all it's cruel clarity. He saw Alex laughing coldly, her eyes glowing with a green light as she stood in the same strange black Ranger garb. Green-black light blazed around her like fire as wind whipped through her ebony hair. She wore a grin of unparalleled evil on her face, beyond anything Tommy had ever seen before. It gave him shudders. As Alex's cackle of triumph grew louder, Tommy's vision returned to reality, returned to the Power Chamber.
"Last night, I dreamed about Alex, and she was... evil. Her hair was still black, and her eyes were glowing with a green light. She was in the new black ranger's outfit, and the energy I saw in this dream was green-black. It was like someone was giving her a mage boost.
Then not fifteen minutes ago, I had another precog, brought about by thinking about Brynne. In this one, I saw Alex choking Bry, and screaming like she had lost her sanity. It... I think Brynne's going to need backup if she's going to free Alex. I think she needs ME. I have to go."
That sent up an instant clamor of protest from the others. The clamor was suddenly overwhelmed by a whistle, and everyone turned to stare at Angela. She lowered her fingers from her mouth, and snapped, "He's not done yet. Let him finish." Looking at her twin, she said, "You're NOT foolish enough to think that you can go alone, are you?" Tommy didn't answer, and she asked, "You ARE?"
"You're not going alone," Hunter said. "I'm going, and that's it. If my sister's in trouble, I should be there with her."
"I'm going, too," Trey said. Tommy looked at the two boys and nodded. He could see that there would be no stopping them.
"Fine. Hunter, is the block still down?" Tommy asked. The White Ranger nodded.
"Until Bry gets back," Hunter said. "The Gate is still set for that reality's coordinates, so we're ready to go."
"Before you go," Rocky said, "there's something that might help break the spell. You should take it with you."
"What?" Tanya asked.
"A special necklace her grandmother gave her when she was young," Rocky said. "She doesn't wear it much, anymore, but she used to wear it a lot. It was really special to her. I know exactly where it is, too."
"Go get it. We'll meet back here in an half-hour," Tommy said, and the rangers nodded.
As the group split up for their various destination, Hunter noticed that Angela looked distracted, and he walked over to her. "Ange, can I talk to you at the Safehouse?" Angela looked up, startled, and then nodded.
"Uh, sure, Hunt." With that, the White and Purple Rangers shifted out of the Power Chamber.
Landing there, Hunter said, "Ange, about the precog about Alex and Rocky-"
"Don't talk to me about that!" Angela spat, turning away from him. "I can't trust Rocky now," she whispered softly. In the silence of the Safehouse, Hunter heard it, and said, "One thing that my people have learned about precogs is that they have a chance of not coming true."
Angela turned to Hunter, and said, "But can you assure me that won't happen? That my boyfriend won't screw my best friend." Her lip curled in disgust, and she snarled, "His step cousin."
Hunter blinked. "I didn't know that Rocky and Alex were only step cousins."
Angela sighed, and sank into a chair before a console. "Jen told me a bit about it. Alex's grandmother, who Alex was named after, is the second wife of Pedro DeSantos, Rocky's grandfather. The first wife, Rocky's biological grandmother, died shortly after Rocky's dad was born, and Alexandria met Pedro about a month after giving birth to Alex's father, Carlos. They got married not to long after that. Carlos was adopted into the DeSantos clan, and Rocky and Alex always acted as if they actually had the blood bond between them, but it seems that's likely to change," Angela finished bitterly.
Hunter looked at Angela, and asked, "Have you thought that maybe it wasn't OUR Rocky that Tommy saw with Alex? Maybe who dear old red saw with Alex was the Rocky belonging to the reality that she landed in." Angela cocked her head.
"That... never occurred to me," Angela admitted.
"I'll let you think on that," Hunter said. "I need to get the spare Gate callers." With that, the White Ranger left Angela alone.
After a few minutes of silence, Angela stood up and walked over to the CD player that Brynne and Hunter had placed in the Safehouse, and studied the CDs. Most were bands that Angela hadn't heard of, since Hunter and Brynne's reality was different, and ahead by twenty years, and she picked one up. "Natalie Imbruglia? Left Of The Middle. Hmm..." Curious, she popped the CD in, and hit random.
Sitting back down in her chair with the CD case, she listened as the song began.
Take you hand And place it in my pocket Flick your eyes back into their sockets Put those thoughts away Sometimes they're much too loud I'll take a breath And cradle your sweet head Should've stayed at home in bed Put that face away I'm melting for you
I know, I get cold Cos I can't leave things well alone Understand I'm accident prone Me, I get free Every night the moon is mine But when the morning comes Don't say you love me Don't say you need me I really don't think that's fair Boy I'm not so dumb But when you leave me I'll be wishing I, wishing I, wishing I was there
I dreamt about another girl in bed with you You just laughed and smiled and denied the proof We're fine until I-
Angela lunged for the CD player and shut it off. That song got just a little TOO close. "I need to talk to Rocky," she muttered. "Hunt!?" she called.
"I need to see Rocky!"
"I left my caller on the console!" Hunter called. "Bring it with you when you teleport to the Power Chamber!"
Rocky searched through the drawers of the computer desk, and muttered to himself, "Where did you put it, Alex? I thought you said that you kept it- Ah-ha!" He reached into the drawer, and lifted a twisting silver chain up. The charm was a ring, a silver rose with the stem curling under and around to create the band and the petals made from cut rubies. The ring was too large for Alex to wear on her finger, so she kept it on the silver chain, 'to keep it close to her heart' she told Rocky once.
Backing away from the desk with his eyes on the ring, he didn't notice the CD player that Alex had, until he bumped into it. It turned on and started playing the CD in, and Boyz II Men came out.
How do I say goodbye to what we had?
The good times that made us laugh
Outweigh the bad
I thought we'd get to see forever
But forever's gone away
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.
I don't know where this road
Is going to lead
All I know is where we've been
And what we've been through.
If we get to see tomorrow
I hope it's worth all the wait
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.
And I'll take with me the memories
To be my sunshine after the rain
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.
To be my sunshine after the rain
I believe in yesterday
Rocky dropped onto Alex's bed as the CD shifted to the next song, and closed his eyes in pain. They snapped open as the music cut off, and he stared up at Angela, standing by the CD player. She had been the one that had turned it off. "Rocky," she said softly, "we need to talk. I have to know how you feel about Alex."
Rocky patted the bed beside him, and as Angela sat, he said, "She's my cousin, and a good friend, but nothing more, Angela. I swear. I mean, I USED to think that I'd like to..." He flushed, embarrassed, and Angela's face fell. "But now...," Rocky shook his head. "Our feelings towards each other are too much like family."
"When did you take care of those feeling?" Angela asked.
"About a year before Alex met up with her first Shadow Lord," Rocky said. "Alex was becoming more attached to Darian, and wanted to go out with him. But she couldn't until we talked, long and hard. That's when we decided to just be friends."
Rocky knelt before Angela, and cupped her face. "Angela, YOU'RE the only one for me. I wouldn't want to risk what I have with you for anything."
"And what do we have?" Angela asked, looking away from Rocky.
Rocky didn't answer, and Angela turned towards him as he leaned in. Their lips met, and Angela wrapped a hand behind Rocky's neck to keep him there.
When they finally finished the liplock, Angela backed away, and smiled at the Blue Ranger. Rocky brushed away a tear on her cheek with his thumb, and asked, "What's this for?"
"I'm happy," Angela sobbed, and pulled Rocky in for a hug. "I was so afraid that I was going to lose you," she sobbed into his shoulder. "But I loved you so much, that I was going to let you go." Rocky snorted, and Angel pulled back. "What?" she asked.
"If I did that, then Tommy would have TWO reasons to come after me. Breaking your heart, and sleeping with Alex. Thank you, but no thanks." Angela laughed and pulled Rocky in for another kiss.
When the half-hour was up, the rangers all met back in the Power Chamber. Kat and Tanya had to hide smiles when they saw that Rocky and Angela were holding hands. Everyone knew, by that small gesture, that the two had made up. "What did you say to her?" Tommy asked Hunter. The Red Ranger had seen Hunter ask Angela to the Safehouse.
"I just pointed out that it might not come true, and that the Rocky you saw might not have been our Rocky," Hunter said with a shrug. "She did the rest."
Rocky handed the necklace to Tommy, and said, "Don't lose this. It's special to Alex, and if you forget where you put it, we're both in trouble." He grinned lopsidedly at his leader, and Tommy said, "You take care of Angela while I'm gone or else, understand?"
Rocky threw his hands up in defense, and said, "I understand! I understand. I don't want to be the BLACK and blue ranger." The boys smiled at each other, and then they shook hands. "Good luck," Rocky said, and they both knew that Tommy would need it.
"I think that we're going to need it," Tommy said unnecessarily, and turned to Hunter. "Is everything ready?"
Hunter handed Tommy and Trey a Gate caller similar to his, and said, "I preprogrammed them to open to Dimension 19903741. Ready to go?"
Tommy and Trey strapped the Gate callers to their wrists, and Tommy nodded. "Then let's go," Hunter said, and opened a gate. Tommy entered, followed by Trey, and Hunter followed last. He turned just before entering the Gate, and then blew a kiss towards Kat. "I'll be back," he promised, and then entered. The Gate closed behind them, sealing as if it had never been.