by Naomi Tilley

Jason walked slowly home from school, feeling a contentment and happiness that he had not experienced since Zedd had first taken over from Rita. Zedd had not made a serious attempt to take over for some time, and things had been relatively easy on the Power Rangers. Even Bulk and Skull seemed to have let up a bit in their efforts to discover the identities of the rangers.

He smiled to himself. Not that they had ever really come close. That had only really happened once, and some quick handiwork on Zack and Billy's part had prevented the near disaster. Now, due to the quiet spell that had fallen, they had decided to give themselves a treat and had arranged to spend a few days in Tommy's uncle's mountain cabin.

It was only Thursday, of course, but tomorrow was a holiday, and they'd planned to go up over the long weekend. They were all looking forward to the trip. Even Billy seemed excited about it. Billy, who was a self confessed "indoor person."

Jason, too, was greatly looking forward to the trip. It would be a chance to spend some real time with his best friends, especially with Tommy, and he could hardly wait to get away.

So caught up was he in his thoughts that he hardly noticed when a car drew up next to him, and only the driver's persistent calling brought him back to reality. "Can I help you?" Jason asked with polite caution, for he had not seen either of the two men before, and had no idea who they were.

"I hope so," the driver replied. "We've just arrived in town, and we're a little lost. Do you think you could tell us they way to the, uh... the Youth Centre? I'm supposed to pick up my son there, but I have no idea where it is."

Jason smiled, then. Somehow, every kid in Angel Grove managed to find their way to the Youth Centre at some point, but aside from Ernie, who ran the place, the location was a mystery to adults.

"Sure," he said, and proceeded to give directions to the town's popular establishment. The driver listened carefully, then smiled sheepishly when Jason had finished.

"I'm sorry, I'm not that great at following directions. Do you think you could perhaps ride with us, and show us the way?"

Jason took a sudden step back from the car, alarms starting to ring in his mind. "I don't think I should. Look, I'll write the directions down...."

The car door suddenly swung open, and a rather large, strong looking man climbed out. "We'd appreciate it if you'd come with us."

Jason took one look at the man facing him, and knew he had a problem. He started to back away. "Excuse me. I have to get going...."

"We insist that you come with us, Jason." _he knows my name... how does he know my name....?_ The man lunged forward, grabbing Jason in a violently strong grip and started to drag him back to the car. Panic flooded through Jason, and he immediately began to struggle, trying at the same time to yell for help.

A hand came down over his mouth a second later, muffling any shouts he could have made. Deciding not to waste precious breath, he put all his strength into fighting to break free of his captor's grasp.

"Damn it!" the man snarled. "Rick, the little bastard's struggling like a goddam jackrabbit!"

"Well, use the stuff" came the equally harsh reply. "That's what we got it for!"

_stuff.....?_ The adrenaline raced through Jason's body and, in a momentary burst of strength, he twisted free of his assailant's grip, and bolted. The man was not about to let his prize go that easily, however, and he took a flying leap at Jason, knocking him clean off his feet.

Shocks of pain swept through Jason's body as he hit the ground, and a moment later, a hand came around and clamped a damp cloth over his mouth and nose. He drew in a ragged gasp for breath, and was assailed by a sickly sweet smell that invaded his nostrils. The smell was immediately followed by a wave of dizziness and nausea that crashed down over Jason.

_chloroform...._ The panic reached its height as Jason realized fully that this was no foolish school prank, set up by his enemies to frighten him. Two men were genuinely trying to kidnap him. Lashing out blindly, Jason's fist connected with his assailant's face, and the man howled in pain and pulled away. Jason gathered his wits and, fighting off the effects of the chloroform, he dragged himself to his feet and took off as fast as he could.

"Carl, he's getting away!" Rick yelled. "Get in the damn car!" Carl, holding one hand over his nose, climbed into the car. Rick revved the engine once and sped off after the retreating teenager.

Jason didn't need to look back to know the two men were chasing him. Instead of wasting precious time and strength to see how close they, he concentrated on the blurred path ahead of him. He had to get to safety, and fast. But where....?

Zack.... Zack lived nearby..... Maybe two or three blocks away. But could he ditch the two that were tailing him and make it there before he lost consciousness?

Jason struggled for breath. His legs felt like lead, and it was getting harder to move, and yet he kept going, knowing he couldn't stop, nor could he teleport in front of the two men.

He came to a street and started across just as the blue sedan screeched around the corner and slammed to a halt right in front of him. Jason, too groggy and dazed to stop quickly, hit the hood of the car and was thrown clear across the top. He hit the road with a painful thud but, aware of the danger he was in, managed somehow to drag himself to his feet.

He heard a car door open behind him, felt a hand grab hold of his T-shirt.... Jason pulled away as hard as he could, and heard the material of his shirt rip loudly in the process. He bolted again, not stopping to think for an instant, knowing that if he did, the adrenaline flow would cease and he would be at the mercy of the two men.

Carl and Rick both took after Jason again, this time on foot, sure they could catch him. Just as they were closing the distance, though, Jason turned into an alleyway with remarkable abruptness and surety, given his worsening condition. He reached the high fence at the end and squeezed through the space in one corner that was two small for either man to fit through, just managing to slip through the clutches of his assailants.

* * *

Zack and Tommy sat together on Zack's bed, going over the list of items they intended to pack to take with them on the trip to the mountains.

"This is gonna be great," Zack said with a grin. "I can't wait to get up there."

Tommy smiled and nodded. "I know. I think we're all looking forward to it. Jason was saying to me just this afternoon that he could hardly wait for tomorrow."

A laugh escaped Zack. "It's been so long since we could do something like this. 'Course, it'd be just like you-know-who to pull a stunt to ruin it."

Tommy pulled a wry grin, which abruptly fell away as he looked through the window, out across the street. "What the...?"

Zack looked out sharply, recognizing Tommy's tone only too well. "Hey, that's Jason..... What's the matter with him?"

Both boys watched as Jason stumbled across the road, barely able to keep a straight path. He came dangerously lose to tripping over the gutter, and only saved himself by catching hold of the fence at the last second. He stayed there for a long moment, holding tightly to the fence for support, before finally making his way slowly and unsteadily towards the gate.

Inside, Tommy started to get up. "He looks like he's hurt...." Jason pushed the gate open, only to stagger forward, lose his balance and crash to the ground. Zack and Tommy both shot out of the bedroom an instant later, charging through the family room, muchto the surprise of Zack's parents.

"Hey, what's the hurry, guys?" Mr. Taylor called out, getting to his feet.

"Jason's outside," Zack called back over his shoulder. "We think he's hurt!"

The Taylors exchanged startled looks, and followed the boys outside.

* * *

"Jason!" Tommy cried out, and was at his friend's side in an instant.

Jason looked up at Tommy in a total and complete daze. "Tommy...."

Tommy cringed at how weak Jason sounded. Fighting to control his fears, though, he carefully put one arm firmly around Jason's shoulders. "Can you stand, buddy? We'll get you inside."

With Zack's help, they managed to get Jason as far as the porch before he collapsed. "Jason, what happened?" Mr. Taylor asked, speaking carefully and slowly so Jason would comprehend. Zack and Tommy exchanged worried looks. If it had been Zedd....

Jason's words both startled and frightened them badly. "Two men... don't know who they are... tried to grab me... used chloroform...."

Jason shuddered and slumped against Tommy, finally losing the battle for consciousness. Tommy and Zack stared at each other in shock. Two men? It hadn't been Zedd...?

"C'mon, boys," Mr. Taylor said grimly. "Let's get him inside. Ellie, call the police, and an ambulance." Ellie Taylor hurried inside as, between the three of them, Zack, his father and Tommy managed to lift Jason up and carry him into the house.

* * *

The police arrived shortly after the ambulance, just in time for the ambulance officers to bring Jason round. "C'mon, Jason," one of the officers murmured, after having injected a small dosage of some drug into Jason's veins to counter-act the effects of the chloroform. "Wake up. Open your eyes...."

After a struggle, Jason finally managed to drag himself back into awareness and focus on the concerned faces of his friends and a number of others. He moaned softly, and shut his eyes again, wanting nothing more than to go back to sleep and rid himself of the pain and nausea that assailed him. "It's okay, Jason," the ambulance officer reassured him. "We just needed to wake you up so we could be sure the chloroform didn't have any negative effects on you."

_okay...?_ Jason thought dimly. _stupid thing to say.... do i look all right...?_

The officer spoke again, his voice cutting into Jason's mind like a skewer. "We'll wait till you're feeling a little bit better, and then we'll lift you onto the stretcher and take you out to the ambulance."

Jason shut his eyes tightly, the man's voice fading into a dull mumbling. He was going to be sick.... Ellie Taylor produced a bucket out of nowhere as Jason began to retch, becoming violently ill. Standing back, Tommy and Zack again exchanged disturbed looks.

"Zedd couldn't have done this," Zack whispered to Tommy. Tommy had to agree.

"Maybe not," he whispered back, "but who'd try to kidnap Jason?"

"Someone who doesn't know him."

Tommy frowned a little. It just didn't make sense. Two men trying to snatch a teenager, who was nearly an adult anyway, off the street in broad daylight.... Tommy shut his eyes for a moment, trying to clear his mind. What crime did make sense...?

He opened his eyes to see the ambulance officers lift Jason very carefully onto the stretcher and take him out to the ambulance.

"Dad," Zack said anxiously, "is it okay if Tommy and I go in the ambulance with Jason?"

There was a moment of silence, and then the police officer suddenly spoke up. "How about you two come with us? You can tell us what happened in the car, and we'll take you straight to the hospital."

Mr. Taylor nodded. "That's a good idea. We'll call Jason's parents, and then meet you at the hospital."

Tommy and Zack glanced at one another, and then Tommy nodded. "Okay."

The sergeant nodded. "All right. Let's go."

* * *

Donavon Scott was between patients, and relaxing with a cup of coffee when the phone on his desk rang. A little annoyed at the interruption, he reached over and picked up the receiver, waving at his partner, who had just come in, to wait.

"Donavon Scott, here. ...Riley...?" Donavon trailed off and, seconds later, his face turned ashen. "What...? When...? Is he still there? ...All right. I'm on my way now. ...No, don't worry. I'll call Sarah from my car phone. ...Yes, I'll meet you there. Okay. Bye."

Sam Davidson frowned a little as Donavon hung up the phone and went to collect his briefcase and jacket. "Where're you going, Donavon? We have patients to see to"

"I have to go," Donavon told him grimly. "Something's happened. Tell Kate to reschedule my appointments."

"Hey!" Davidson growled. "Donavon what's so damned important that you have to walk out on an afternoon's lot of patients?"

Donavon swung around angrily, turning on his partner angrily. "Dammit, Sam, someone just tried to kidnap my son!"

Davidson's face turned white. "Jason...? Is he all right?"

"I don't know. He's being taken to hospital now, and I want to get there as soon as possible."

After a moment's hesitation, Davidson managed to nod. "Okay. I'll tell Kate to reschedule... and I'll take the extras that won't reschedule. You go ahead. And I hope Jason's okay."

Donavon nodded, relieved. "Thank you. I'll call and let you know."

* * *

Sarah Scott was in the middle of a load of paperwork when the phone on her desk rang. Acutely aware of her supervisor watching her, she picked up the receiver and tried to sound as professional as she could.

"Hello, Hanlin and Associates, Sarah speaking.... Yes...." She faltered, her professional voice fading away into nothing. "Oh dear god... Where is he? ...Is he all right? ...Yes, I'll try and get there as soon as I can. I promise. Bye...."

Sarah hung up the phone, feeling physically ill. Someone had just tried to snatch her son. Her little boy....

"Is there a problem, Sarah?" Sarah looked up, startled, and saw Andrew Sutton standing there, staring down at her piercingly. Again, Sarah felt sick. She dared not ask for the afternoon off. Sutton had gotten away with firing staff for less than that.... Gathering her courage, she told him what had happened.

"That was my husband, Mr. Sutton. Someone just tried to abduct my son on his way home from school."

Sutton's icy facade seemed to crack just a little. "Is he all right?"

"I don't know. He's being taken to hospital. My husband is on his way there now."

Sutton's harsh expression faded completely and for the first time that Sarah could recall, a look of genuine concern flashed across his face. "Then you should get going."

Sarah was stunned, and so were her female colleagues. "But...."

"No buts, Sarah. We'll sort out make up hours later on. You just go now and be with your son. Go on, before I change my mind!" Sarah grabbed her coat and fled before he had any such chance.

* * *

It was no small relief for Jason, some hours later, when he woke up to the concerned faces of his mother and father. To begin with, he remembered very little of his ordeal, and the first coherent thought that floated through his mind, upon focusing on his parents, was that he was safe. As though sensing his son's thoughts, Donavon reached over and put a reassuring hand on Jason's arm. "It's all right, son. We're both right here. You're safe." Jason shuddered a little and coughed, only to cringe at the pain through his chest and head that it caused him.

"Take it easy, Jason," Donavon told him gently. "The doctor said you have some cracked ribs. You need to try and relax."

Jason tried to speak, but it came out as more of a croak, than anything else. "Mum... Dad...."

Sarah reached out and squeezed Jason's hand gently. "It's okay, sweetheart. We're staying right here with you. We won't go anywhere."

"Sutton let you...?" Jason asked in a whisper. "Or did... did you sneak out...?"

Sarah laughed softly, glad that she could control her emotions and not cry in front of her son. "He let me go. I guess he's not so much of an ogre after all."

Donavon hesitated, then. He desperately wanted to know what had happened, but wasn't certain if he should push Jason to relive the incident so soon. Concern that the two assailants were still at large overrode all other worries, though, and he asked the question softly. "Jason, can you remember what happened?"

Jason fell silent, staring at the white ceiling for several seconds before speaking weakly. "I was on my way home... from school. A car pulled up beside me. ...The driver asked how to get to... to the Youth Centre. I gave... gave...." He trailed off, coughing painfully. Donavon quickly reached for a nearby glass of water and held it up for his son to take a sip. His throat burning, Jason swallowed a small mouthful, enough to soothe his throat without making him nauseous "Thanks. I gave them directions.... but the driver said wasn't any good at following directions. He asked me if I could... could ride with them in the car... and show them the way. I said no, that I'd write the directions down.... Then another guy got out of the car... said a few things... then he grabbed me. I started fighting... managed to break free once..." He paused, breathing hard, then taking another sip of water. "The guy jumped at me and knocked me down... stuffed a rag in my face. I think it'd been soaked in chloroform... I got away again... don't know how.... I think I must've hit him, or something.... I ran, headed for Zack's place...."

"And that's it?" Donavon asked as Jason paused to even out his breathing.

Jason gave a very slight shake of his head, aware that he was still suffering dizziness. "No. I got to the next street, and the car came round the corner. It stopped right in front of me, and I went straight over the top. The tried to grab me again.... I pulled away and went down an alley.... slipped through some fencing. They couldn't follow me through there, and I guess they took off. I went on to Zack's place.... I guess I made it, but I don't really remember much after that."

"That's great, Jason." Jason and his parents looked to the door to see a police officer standing there, pad and pen in his hands. The sergeant smiled as he walked into the room. "I'm Senior Sergeant Radley. I think I got here just in time to save Jason going over all of that again. There's just a few things I need to ask, though, if Jason's up to it...?"

Donavon and Sarah both looked at Jason, who gave a slight shrug. "I guess so."

"Great. Just a few questions. Do you remember anything about the two men? Hair colour... how tall they were.... Anything at all?"

Jason thought it over carefully before speaking. "They called each other by name. The driver was Rick.... The one who grabbed me was Carl. Carl was pretty tall, I think.... I'm sorry, I don't remember anything else... except the car was a light blue sedan. I didn't notice the make."

Radley nodded. "That's fine. With the amount of chloroform you breathed in, son, I'm surprised you remember that much. I just have to clarify something, though. After you broke free and ran, you say they chased you in the car?"

Jason nodded. "Yeah. First they tried to stop me with the car... then they chased me on foot. I guess that's when I cracked my ribs.... When I went over the hood of the car."

Radley was barely able to conceal the concern in his voice when he spoke. "Okay. That's good, Jason." He handed a card to Donavon. "If you remember anything else, no matter how insignificant you think it is, get your father to give me a call."

Radley turned and left the room and, after a moment, Donavon excused himself and followed suit. "Sergeant?"

Radley turned to face Donavon. "Yes, Mr. Scott?"

"I got the impression you weren't to happy to hear the last bit."

Radley hesitated, then reluctantly confessed his worries. "The thing is, kidnappings in this day and age are a common occurrence. Not in Angel Grove, mind you, but throughout the United States in general. Most of those kidnappings are cases of children and teenagers being snatched off the streets, the same as what nearly happened to your son. I'm sorry to say that most of those cases go unresolved. However, there is a small percentage that manage to beat their kidnappers, as Jason did, and get away. This is where I'm worried. Ninety-nine percent of those cases are random incidents, and the attackers generally take off after the first failed attempt. According to your son, the two men that attacked him chased him first in their car, and then on foot. It sounds to me like they were specifically after Jason."

Donavon felt the blood drain from his face. Before he could say anything, though, Jason called to them from the ward. "Dad.... Sergeant Radley...?"

The two hurried back into the room. "What is it, Jason?" Donavon asked, struggling to keep his tone even.

"I just remembered something else," Jason told them, sounding distinctly shaky himself. "I've never seen either of those men before. I'm sure of that..... But they knew who I was."

Radley frowned, growing more concerned with every second. "How do you mean?"

"I mean, they knew my name. They knew who I was."

Radley glanced at Donavon, then back to Jason. "That should be helpful, Jason. If you remember anything else, get your father to call me." He hurried from the room, then, anxious to get away before he lost control of the emotional barrier he had built around himself.

* * *

"I can't believe this happened...." Zack muttered. "We start to think that things are easing up, and wham! The next tidal wave hits. Damn...."

Tommy stared intently at the floor. "I wonder if Zordon knows?"

"Does it matter?" Zack retorted grimly. "It still happened. Man, if Jase could've just teleported, then he would've been okay!"

Silence reigned for several seconds, and both boys were startled and dismayed when their communicators started to beep. Getting up, they moved into an empty room, and while Zack guarded the door, Tommy spoke to Zordon. "What's up, Zordon?"

"Tommy, has something happened to Jason? The computer lost all contact with him for several hours, and has only just resumed the lock."

Tommy looked grimly at Zack. Well, that answered their question.... "Hang on, Zordon. Zack and I are teleporting now." They pressed the buttons on their communicators, and vanished a moment later in a flash of black and white light.

* * *

"What has happened?" Zordon asked the two teens as soon as they arrived. Zack and Tommy exchanged grim looks, each thinking the same thing. For once the tables were turned, and they knew something that Zordon didn't....

"A couple of guys tried to kidnap Jason," Tommy said softly. "He got away, but now he's in hospital."

"It wasn't Zedd, either," Zack put in. "Jason said it was two men that tried to grab him."

"Ai-yi-yi!" Alpha wailed. "Is he all right?"

"We don't know," Tommy replied. "So far, all we know is that he's got some cracked ribs."

"Alpha," Zordon told the little robot firmly, "summon the other rangers here immediately."

Alpha did so, and Billy, Trini and Kimberly appeared a couple of minutes later, all of them in pajamas, robes and slippers.

"What's the big idea," Kimberly grumbled, pulling her pick robe tightly around her body, "calling us here at... ugh... eleven thirty at night? If you guys want me to be awake and cheerful for tomorrow...."

"Knock it off, Kim," Tommy told her softly. "Something's happened. We aren't going now."

There was a momentary silence, and then Billy spoke tensely. "What's Zedd up to now?"

"The trouble that has arisen has nothing to do with Lord Zedd," Zordon replied.

Zack jumped in, then, anxious to tell the others what had happened. "Guys, someone tried to kidnap Jason!"

There was stunned silence, and then Kimberly spoke in disbelief. "Our Jason? You're kidding, right....?"

"He isn't," Tommy put in. "From what we could find out, a couple of guys tried to grab Jason on his way home from school. They used chloroform to try and knock him out. He managed to get away from them, though, and make it to Zack's place. He's in the hospital now."

"Omigod...." Kimberly whispered.

Trini spoke in a slightly strained voice. "Is he okay? I mean, he wasn't hurt, was he?"

"The doctor said he has some cracked ribs," Tommy replied. "Maybe a bit of a concussion.... We don't know for sure. I think Jason was still unconscious when Zordon called us."

Shocked silence reigned for several seconds, before Billy finally spoke. "Trini, Kimberly and I should all go home. There's no point in us going to the hospital. They'll only want to know how we found out. Anyway, if they used chloroform, Jason probably won't be fit to see all of us until tomorrow."

"Billy is right," Zordon told them. "Tommy and Zack, the two of you should return to the hospital."

Tommy nodded. "Okay. We'll call the rest of you guys in the morning." The others nodded, then they all stepped back and teleported out of the Command Centre.

* * *

Tommy and Zack arrived back at the hospital just in time to be met by Donavon Scott, who had come into the waiting room. "Jason's awake, kids," he told them. "He's asking for you." The two boys exchanged relieved glances and followed Donavon down the hall to the ward.

* * *

Jason smiled weakly at his friends as they came into the room and hurried to his bedside. "Man, am I glad to see you two...."

Tommy managed a grin. "Same here, pal. You gonna be okay?" Jason pushed himself up a little, cringing at the pain through his chest. "I guess so, considering I've been knocked out by chloroform and hit by a car, all in one afternoon."

"Hit by a car...?" Zack echoed, stunned. Jason shrugged a little, and went on to tell them what had happened, as far as he could remember.

Both boys listened in silence, and when Jason finished, Tommy spoke up vehemently. "Either of those two show their faces again...."

"You will call the police," Donavon interrupted firmly. "Getting into a fight will do no one any good."

Tommy frowned, but said no more. Jason turned his attention to his parents, then. "You guys go and get something to eat."

Sarah smiled a little. "It's okay, Jason. We're fine."

Jason's expression altered somewhat. "Please, go and get something to eat. I want to talk to Tommy and Zack."

Donavon walked around and gently took his wife by the arm. "C'mon, Sarah. Let's leave the boys to talk. If you need us, Jason, we'll be in the hospital cafeteria."

Jason watched them go silently before looking back to his friends. "I guess I made it to your place, huh, Zack?"

Zack looked surprised. "Yeah. Don't you remember?"

"Not really," Jason admitted. "Not after slipping through the fence to get away from the two of them. I think I was just walking, then, and hoping it'd get me somewhere before I passed out. Tommy...?"

"I was at Zack's when you showed up," Tommy told him. "Are you sure you're okay, Jase?"

Jason glanced nervously down at the blanket. "I guess so. A bit shaken, maybe...."

Tommy hesitated, then reached over and grasped Jason's hand gently. It was trembling badly. "You're shaking, Jason."

Jason swallowed hard. "Okay. So it frightened the hell out of me. Is that what you want to hear?"

Tommy sighed a little and withdrew his hand. "I just want you to be honest. If it happened to me, I'd be shaking, too."

Jason fell back against the pillows, then. "Sorry," he muttered gloomily. "I guess it did scare me pretty badly. I mean, one moment I'm giving them directions to the Youth Centre, and the next moment, one of them grabs me and tries to drag me into the car!" He shook his head. "It was damned frightening!"

There was a pause, and then Zack asked, "Think you'll make it to school on Monday?"

Jason hesitated, then answered. "I hope so. I don't see why not. I... I'm not sure I'll be walking, though."

Tommy and Zack glanced at one another, and then Tommy spoke quietly. "If I meet you at your place, will you walk?"

Jason stared at Tommy for several seconds before making himself nod. "Okay."

"Good. Jase... It wasn't Zedd, was it?"

Jason shook his head tiredly. "No, it wasn't. I don't know who they were. I've never seen them before. I'd say they were just a couple of wackos who picked me out at random, except that they knew my name. I keep getting the feeling that they were specifically after me."

"Try not to think about it," Tommy told him quietly. "It'll only worry you even more."

Jason sighed and stared up at the ceiling. "Nothing like that has ever happened to me before. I just don't know how to react to it."

Neither Tommy nor Zack were tactless enough to make a comment about his psychiatrist father, then, as they had occasionally done in the past as a mutual joke. They both knew it was the last thing Jason needed. They stayed with Jason until his parents came back a short while later, and then left reluctantly with the promise to be back again the next morning. "Bring Trini, Billy and Kimberly," Jason told them quickly.

Tommy nodded. "We will. See you tomorrow."

Donavon waited until the boys had gone before looking down at his son. "Is everything all right?"

Jason nodded a little. "Yeah. I suppose so...."

Donavon remained silent. The psychiatrist in him wanted, rather badly, to take action and start to help his son deal with the trauma of the near kidnapping, but he held back, not wanting to force Jason into facing anything before he was ready.

"Are you feeling all right?" Sarah asked in concern.

Jason stared down at his hands. They really were shaking.... "Aside from being scared to death?" he asked softly.

Donavon leant forward quickly. "It's okay, Jason. Let it go, if you want to."

Jason, however, forced the fear back down inside him and leant back again the pillows, shutting his eyes. "I'll be okay," he said in an even softer voice. "Don't worry about me." He kept his eyes shut, not wanting to see the worried, knowing looks that he knew his parents were exchanging.

* * *

The doctors kept Jason in hospital an extra couple of nights, allowing for the hospital psychiatrist to come in and speak to him. He was finally allowed to go home on Sunday afternoon and, after some light coaxing from both his parents, and Tommy, allowed himself to be shepherded to school on Monday morning.

"You'll be okay," Tommy told him reassuringly as they entered the building. "School will give you something else to think about. And maybe, after school we can go a few rounds in the Youth Centre...."

Jason grimaced. "Yeah, it'll give me something else to think about, all right. Weren't we supposed to be getting a Math test today?"

Tommy came to an abrupt halt in the hall, a startled look flashing across his face. "Oh no! I forgot! Oh man, I didn't study at all...."

Gloom filtered onto Jason's face. "I tried studying a bit last night, but I couldn't concentrate. I don't think I'm going to do too well."

Tommy opened his mouth to tell Jason that he, at least, had an excuse, but stopped himself in time. Instead, he shrugged and walked over to his locker. "We'll just do the best we can. We know the stuff, so I don't think we'll fail. Anyway, we'll sit next to Billy, and if we get stuck, we'll just copy off him."

Jason tried to smile at the joke as he opened his locker, but couldn't quite manage it. Ever since Thursday, he had been unable to get rid of the nauseating feeling that was gradually engulfing him. He just couldn't rid himself of the notion that it hadn't been a random incident, that the two men had been aiming specifically for him.

Jason nearly passed out from fright when two pairs of hands suddenly clamped down on his shoulders and arms in vise-like grips. Then he heard Tommy yell angrily, and the hands released him. Spinning around, he saw Bulk and Skull standing there, and felt an odd mixture of relief and anger. The two emotions began to mix together, adding to the nausea that was fast welling up inside his stomach and throat.

"Are you two out of your minds!?" Tommy yelled furiously at the two punks. "How could you do that?"

"It was just a joke," Bulk retorted sulkily. "If he can't take a joke...."

Tommy stepped forward threateningly, but before he could say anything, Jason suddenly slammed his locker shut and bolted off down the hall towards the bathroom. Tommy spared Bulk and Skull a last, hostile look before closing his own locker and hurrying after his best friend.

* * *

"That was damned cruel," Tommy growled as Jason finally emerged from the washroom, pale and clearly shaken. "They must know what happened...."

"Of course they know," Jason muttered softly, painfully aware of the curious and sympathetic looks he was getting from his fellow students. "That's why they did it."

Tommy hesitated then, taking in Jason's upset expression. "Are you gonna be okay, Jase?"

"I guess so," Jason replied dully. "I can just imagine class, though."

Tommy knew what Jason meant. Although Miss Appleby was nice enough, she was likely to ask Jason if he was all right in front of the rest of of the class, and whether he could manage all right. "You'll be okay," Tommy told him. "The first day's always the worst. After today, you won't have anymore problems. I guarantee it."

A faint smile crossed Jason's face. "I'll hold you to that one, Tommy." The two boys laughed then, and headed off to class.

* * *

Either Miss Appleby had more tact than they had realized, or someone had spoken to her beforehand, for she said nothing to Jason throughout the class to make him the slightest bit uncomfortable, or embarrassed.

"I'm afraid I have some bad news," she announced at the start of the class. "The math test you were all supposed to be getting today accidentally got shredded last night. Since the original was in the lot that got shredded, I need to wait for another to be mailed to me. Which means at least a two week wait. I know you must all be very disappointed...." Near the back of the class, Jason and Tommy exchanged relieved looks. Two more weeks to study....

The class progressed as normal, and Jason found it easier to cope as the day wore on. By the time school finished that afternoon, he felt almost back to normal. Then he had to face the prospect of walking home.

"I have to go and do some shopping for my mum," Tommy muttered unenthusiastically as he and Jason reached the Youth Centre. "She left a message for me. If you don't mind coming along...."

Jason gave a quick shake of his head and smiled bravely. "It's okay, Tommy. You go ahead. I can walk home by myself."

Tommy frowned a little. "You don't have to, Jase. Maybe Zack or Kimberly'll walk with you...."

A pained expression crossed Jason's face. "I have to start sometime. It might as well be now. I can't let myself be scared forever, Tommy."

The weak protests Tommy put up were lightly rebuffed by Jason who, by then, had convinced himself that he needed to walk home by himself to get rid of the last of the fear. Eventually, Tommy gave in. "Okay. If you need me, call. Got it?"

Jason nodded as he lifted his bag over his shoulder. "Sure. I'll see you tomorrow."

Tommy watched as Jason headed off briskly through the park before finally, reluctantly, going off in the opposite direction.

* * *

Jason made it perhaps two hundred metres before he realized that his heart was beating so hard that it was starting to hurt. He shut his eyes for an instant as he walked, and drew in a deep breath to try and calm himself.

A twig snapped loudly nearby, causing his heart to nearly skip a beat. He spun around in fright, dropping his bag. A startled squirrel stared at Jason from several metres away before turning and scurrying away. Jason shut his eyes again and moaned softly to himself. _c'mon, jason, get a grip. it was just a squirrel. pick up your bag and get going._

Reaching down, he grasped the straps of his bag and started walked again. He barely made it ten metres when he stopped again. "I can't do this," he whispered to himself, stricken with uncontrollable fear. He looked down at the communicator on his wrist. He could call Tommy and end his torture... but his pride would not allow it. Instead, he turned and hurried back towards the Youth Centre, still visible through the trees. They had not actually gone in, so no one there would know he was running back there....

Fear overcame nausea at his own cowardice, and he headed back towards the Youth Centre.

* * *

Billy and Trini were going over a history assignment when Trini glanced up and saw Jason come in. She nudged Billy and nodded in the teen's direction, and Billy looked up to see Jason head to the nearest pay phone, pick up the receiver and quickly dial a number.

"You don't think he tried walking home by himself," Trini whispered as Jason hung up, then went over and sat down at an empty table.

"I hope not," Billy answered in a low voice. "C'mon. Let's go see if he's okay. He looks a little shaken."

* * *

Jason looked up in surprise and disconcertment as Billy and Trini came over, both smiling amicably. "Hey, Jason," Trini said gently. "Is everything okay?"

Jason suddenly looked intensely uncomfortable. "Yeah, sure. I, ah... I was just waiting for my dad. He said he'd come and pick me up...." He trailed off. Neither Billy nor Trini believed that, and he knew it.

"Did you try walking home alone?" Billy asked quietly.

Jason looked away, his face burning with humiliation. "I'm too damn scared to even walk home by myself. I didn't even make it out of sight of the Youth Centre."

Trini reached across the table and grasped Jason's hand gently in her own. "That's nothing to be ashamed of, and you know it. You'd be saying the same thing if it was me or Billy. You don't have to be strong all the time, Jason."

Jason looked up at the two of them, and felt his shame ease a little. "Thanks, guys."

Billy grinned, then. "C'mon. I'll buy you a drink and we can study till your dad gets here."

Jason pulled a face at that as they headed over to the counter. "Study? Billy, don't you ever do anything for fun?"

His question was met with a short laugh. "You know me, Jase. Study is fun!"

Jason merely rolled his eyes and said nothing more.

* * *

Over the next several days, the friends took it in turn to walk Jason home. It was an unspoken agreement, for they knew that if they asked him if he wanted an escort, his pride would not allow him to say yes. Each day, however, they left him to walk a little further by himself, gradually helping him to rebuild his confidence, and remove the fear he'd held within himself.

It was a little over a week later when some things came up, and the five friends discovered that none of them were able to walk with Jason. They discussed it after school, outside the Youth Centre.

"I can walk by myself tonight," Jason reassured them. Worry flashed across each of their faces.

"Jase," Zack said cautiously, "your dad said that if none of us could walk with you...."

"It's been more than a week," Jason argued. "I have to try it sometime. It might as well be now."

"I don't like it," Tommy protested. "Jason, you don't have to...." Jason stubbornly picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder. "I'll be fine. Look, if I get too nervous, I'll just teleport to the Command Centre, okay?"

Still they were reluctant. "Look, Jase...." Tommy started to say.

Jason turned on them, then. "What are you expecting to happen?" There was a sudden, guilty silence as they realized it probably sounded as though they were expecting a repeat incident. Jason nodded. "Okay. I'm going. I'll see you all tomorrow." With that, he turned and headed off into the park.

* * *

"Hey, check it out."

Skull looked in the direction that Bulk was indicating, and saw Jason heading through the park. He was clearly nervous, but the determined expression on his face seemed to outweigh the fear.

Bulk grinned evilly. "C'mon, Skull. None of his geek buddies are around. Let's give him a real scare." Skull sniggered and followed his friend towards the unsuspecting Jason.

The two boys made it a short distance ahead of Jason, preparing to jump out at him from the bushes and give him as big a scare as they could. Jason was not quite twenty metres away from them when it happened.

Both Bulk and Skull were stunned when, all of a sudden, two figures stepped out from behind an oak tree, blocking Jason's path. Before the teen had a chance to react, the taller of the two grabbed Jason and swung him around, slamming him brutally into the trunk of the oak and holding him there. Then, as Jason started to fight, the second man brought out a damp looking handkerchief and pressed it over Jason's face.

Bulk and Skull watched in horror as Jason's struggles grew weaker and weaker, until he finally ceased struggling altogether. Too frightened to try and help the other teenager, they watched as the panic in Jason's eyes died as he lost consciousness. Then, before either boy could gather their courage to act, the bigger man lifted Jason's limp form over his broad shoulder, and they disappeared through the trees.

"C'mon," Bulk whispered hoarsely to his friend.

"Where're we going?" Skull asked, equally shaken. The two of them, having heard the stories of Jason's near abduction, had both scoffed and, as had been seen, had used it to have a go at Jason. Neither one had taken the stories seriously... until now.

"To the Youth Centre," Bulk replied. "We gotta call the police."

* * *

Trini and Kimberly arrived back at the Youth Centre after finishing the work they'd had to do, half expecting Jason to be there. He wasn't, though, and they sat down at an empty table feeling just a little nervous.

"You think he got home okay?" Trini asked softly.

Kimberly tried to smile bravely. "I'm sure he did. I suppose we could call and check, but I don't think Jase would appreciate it."

Trini smiled uneasily. "I guess not." The two girls were soon engrossed in their history books when Bulk and Skull stumbled into the Youth Centre and up to the counter. Both boys were white faced, and clearly shaken.

"Ernie," Bulk spluttered, "you gotta call the police, right now! It's an emergency...."

Ernie looked predictably skeptical. "What's the emergency? Wait, let me guess. You've seen the Power Rangers, and you thought you could get the police to arrest them, so you can unmask them."

"No," Skull protested, "it's not that...."

"Wait," Ernie interrupted, "I've got one. How about this? You thought...."

"Ernie, will you shut up and listen?" Bulk exploded, his patience finally snapping. Stunned silence fell as everyone within hearing range realized the two were serious. Ernie stared at them in sudden disconcertment. Even Trini and Kimberly were compelled to listen in carefully.

"What is it, fellas?" Ernie asked quietly.

"We were in the park," Bulk explained tensely, "and we saw Jason."

Ernie frowned. "You guys didn't try sneaking up on him again, did you?"

The two looked sheepish. "We were going to," Skull admitted, "but they beat us to it."

Trini and Kimberly exchanged startled looks, and listened even harder. "What d'you mean?" Ernie pressed.

"We hid in some bushes to wait for him," Bulk said, "but before he got to us, a couple of guys cut him off. One of them grabbed Jason and pushed him against a tree, and the other one used chloroform, or something, to knock him out. The bigger guy picked him up, and then they took off! They were gone before we could see where they went."

Ernie stared apprehensively at the two boys. They certainly looked serious, but with Bulk and Skull you never could tell....

"We're serious!" Bulk insisted. 'We wouldn't lie about something like this. Jason was kidnapped! And look!" He lifted up Jason's bag, which he had grabbed and brought with them, and dumped it squarely on the counter. "You think Jason would let us take his bag for a joke like this?"

Ernie nodded, finally convinced. "Okay. You two wait here. I'm calling the police." He glanced in Kimberly and Trini's direction, and was not entirely surprised to discover they'd gone. Giving his head a quick shake, he reached for the phone, and dialed 911.

* * *

Trini and Kimberly arrived in the Command Centre, both nearly frantic. "Zordon, Jason's been kidnapped!" Kimberly cried out in distress. "Bulk and Skull said they saw two men grab him!"

Zordon acted instantly. "Alpha, summon Tommy, Zack and Billy here immediately."

The other three teens arrived minutes later, looking slightly disgruntled. "Okay," Zack muttered, "what's Zedd up to now? It better not be anything major. I've got stuff to do."

"Yeah," Tommy started to agree, then trailed off as he realized they were missing one in number. "Where's Jason?"

"Jason's been kidnapped," Trini forced herself to say. The statement was met with horrified silence.

"I let him walk by himself...." Tommy finally whispered, overcome with shock.

Billy spoke in a strained voice. "What happened?"

"Bulk and Skull saw it," Kimberly replied. "They came running into the Youth Centre, and told Ernie they'd seen a couple of big guys grab Jason as he was heading through the park."

"Bulk and Skull?" Zack echoed incredulously. "How d'you know they weren't lying?"

"Because they had Jason's bag," Trini put in, her throat tightening with distress. "Guys, Jason's gone. He's been kidnapped."

Tommy turned abruptly to face Zordon. "We have to get him back, Zordon. Now!"

Zordon agreed. "Alpha, have the computer lock onto the frequency of Jason's communicator. As soon as the lock is secure, teleport him here to the Command Centre."

The teenagers were startled by Zordon's order. "In front of the two men?" Kimberly asked nervously. "Isn't that, like, breaking the rules?"

"We will make an exception in this case," Zordon replied. "There is no telling what danger we may place Jason in if the five of you were to teleport to where he is now. It will be safer for him if we teleport him here. Then you can go and deal with the two men who abducted him. When you are asked questions, you will simply reply that our advanced equipment was able to locate Jason quickly and teleport him to safety. No one will know any different."

The rangers all nodded their agreement. They didn't care how it happened: they simply wanted Jason back.

* * *

"Hey, Rick, check this out!"

Rick Daniels, the driver of the van, glanced back over his shoulder to see a strange looking piece of metal that his brother, Carl, was holding up. "What's that thing?"

"I don't know. Looks like a weird kind of watch. The kid had it on his wrist."

Rick reached back and took it from Carl as he pulled up at a set of lights. Having worked extensively in the field of electronics, he knew almost straight away what the object was.

"It's a goddam radio transmitter! A wrist walkie talkie! Smash it, Carl."

Carl caught the communicator as it was tossed back to him. "We might be able to get a bit of money out of it."

"The only thing we're getting out of that is a one way trip to jail! They can track people with things like that now, so will you smash the damn thing?!"

Carl scowled and scrabbled around for a hammer. He found one, and wasted no time in bringing it down hard on the communicator. One swing destroyed it in a small spray of tiny metal parts.

Carl stared at the demolished wrist radio for a moment, then smirked at Jason, who lay bound, gagged and unconscious on the floor of the van. "Ain't nobody coming to get you, kid. Nobody at all."

* * *

"I've lost him!" Alpha cried out in surprise. "He's gone!"

"What d'you mean, he's gone?" Tommy growled, stepping forward to look at the computer's tracking scope. "Where'd he go?"

"The computer has lost the lock on Jason's communicator," Billy replied. "There's only one way that could happen, and that's if it's been destroyed."

Tense silence reigned, and then Zack spoke softly, his voice filling with dread. "You can find him again, can't you?"

"There is one more chance," Zordon told them grimly. "I will attempt to lock onto Jason through his power coin. Hopefully it will successfully bring him back here."

"Hopefully...?" Trini echoed. "You mean, you don't know for sure?"

"No," Zordon admitted. "There is a a sixty percent chance for success. Stand by, rangers. I am starting the calculations now."

The five teenagers stood frozen and silent, each one praying to whatever higher being that might be out there, that Jason would be brought back to them.

* * *

Both Rick and Carl looked around sharply as a flash of red light caught their eyes. If anything strange had taken place, though, they could not tell. Jason continued to lie, unconscious, on the floor of the van, and the only red they could see was the red of his shirt and pants.

Shaking his head, Rick climbed out of the van. "Get the sack, and we'll get him inside."

* * *

"What happened?" Kimberly whispered, looking around anxiously. Silence reigned for several seconds, and then Tommy spoke gloomily.

"It didn't work, did it?"

"On the contrary," Billy replied softly. "It did work. Just not the way we expected it to. Look."

They all stared with fading hope as Billy held up a morpher shield in one hand, and a power coin in the other. "His morpher and coin teleported," Zack whispered hoarsely, "and he was left behind...."

"Then there's nothing we can do." They all looked around at Trini, who stood there with tears flooding her eyes. "Unless the police find Jason, we might never see him again!"

Kimberly hurried over and threw her arms around the other girl in a comforting embrace, while the boys simply stood there in helpless, despairing silence.

* * *

Benjamin Daniels glanced up from his homework at the sound of voices in the house. His father, and his uncle....

"Dad...?" Ben called out, getting up and going to his bedroom door.

"Ben?" his father's voice floated back to him. "Stay in your room, Ben!"

Ben frowned, his hand pausing over the doorknob. Why should he have to stay in his room......? "What's the matter?" he called out, starting to open the door regardless. "You open that door, boy," Rick snarled as he passed the room, "and I'll take my belt to you! You got that?"

Ben fell back from the door, annoyed and confused. He heard his father tell his uncle to open the basement door, then all sounds and voices became muffled. He continued to wait for a few minutes, and was about to go out when his door suddenly swung open and his father appeared in front of him, looking apologetic.

"Sorry about that, Ben," he said with a small smile, "but we just brought in a couple of barrels of chemicals. We had to wear masks, and I didn't want you getting a whiff of any of it."

Ben nodded. "It's okay. Uh.... where'd you put the stuff?"

"Down in that little cement room in the basement. Now, I need you to promise me that you won't go down there. That stuff is dangerous, and I don't want you anywhere near it. Okay?"

After a moment's hesitation, Ben shrugged. "Sure." He didn't like the basement anyway, so it was no loss on his part. Rick grinned and clapped his son on the shoulder.

"Great. Now go and set the table. Your uncle and I are ordering pizza for tonight."

Ben smirked as he head down the hall. "What's the celebration?"

Rick smiled coldly as Ben disappeared into the kitchen. "Wouldn't you like to know...."

* * *

Donavon sat back in his chair, eyes shut as he enjoyed a precious moment of peace. It had been a chaotic day, and now was the first quiet morning he'd had. It was interrupted by a light knocking on the door, and he looked around to see Sergeant Radley standing there.

A faint smiled flickered across his lips and he shut his eyes again. "Don't take this the wrong way, Sergeant, but I hope you're here to tell me you have the two men that tried to kidnap my son."

Radley stared miserably at the floor. "I wish I was, Mr Scott." Donavon looked up sharply, then, picking up on the dismal tone in Radley's voice.

"What is it?"

Radley sighed inwardly. He really hated this part of the job... "Mr Scott, I'm here to inform you that your son was abducted today at approximately 3:45 pm."

Donavon froze. "What...?"

"I'm sorry, sir. If you'd like to come with me?" Although he wasn't sure how, Donavon somehow found the strength to get up and follow the sergeant from his office.

"I have to call my wife."

"Yes, sir. We'll be going to get her next."

Donavon came to a halt, anxiety starting to take over. "Sergeant, how do you know for sure that he's been... been abducted? How do you know that he hasn't just gone to a friend's house?"

Radley felt a twinge of empathy for the other man. "We've already checked. He's with none of his friends. We also have a couple of witnesses to the abduction. Two boys claim they saw two men grab Jason in Angel Grove Park, knock him out with what they believe may have been chloroform, and take off through the park with him. The two boys arrived back at the Youth Centre with your son's school bag, and had the manager of the establishment call us."

Nausea swept through Donavon as they began walking again. So it had really happened this time. Jason had not had another narrow escape. The two men had obviously been prepared, and Jason had not been able to get away again. His son had been abducted....

Donavon only barely made it to the police car before the shock could overtake him and cause him to collapse.

* * *

"Sarah, could you come into my office, please?" Sarah felt a touch of concern. Staff were rarely asked into Sutton's office to be given pleasant news, and after all that had happened with Jason, she didn't think she could handle any bad news....

She was deeply surprised to be greeted by her husband, and Sergeant Radley. Then, one look at their faces, and she knew something was desperately wrong.

"What is it?" she asked softly.

Radley opened his mouth to speak, but before he could get a word out, Donavon spoke up. "Sarah, Jason's been abducted. This afternoon, in the park...."

One hand came up to Sarah's mouth as the anxiety quickly took hold. "Oh dear God no...."

Donavon caught hold of his wife's arm. "C'mon, honey. We have to go to the police station." Sarah allowed herself to be led from the office by her husband, too much in shock to move of her own accord.

* * *

Jason awoke to a blackness that was frightening. He could see nothing at all and, for long moment, he thought he might have been blinded. But no. A glimpse of light under a nearby doorway reassured him that he was not.

He was gagged, though, and after a long moment he realized he was also bound hand and foot. Panic flooded through Jason as he began to remember what had happened. The same two men had ambushed him in the park, and the taller of the two had grabbed him and slammed him against a tree....

He shuddered, and the memories shattered as a wave of nausea overtook him. It was only supreme effort that prevented him from throwing up, as he knew that with the gag, he could easily choke. Eventually the fit passed, and he slumped on the floor, exhausted. He continued to lie there for several minutes before gathering his strength and slowly but surely working himself into and upright position.

Just where the hell was he...? Taking care to breathe evenly, he looked around slowly, trying to pick out what he could in the almost non existent light. He soon found that it was a wasted exercise. There was nothing to see in the room; it was completely empty.

He sat there for another minute before he remembered he had a direct route out of this nightmare. If he could just manage to press the teleportation button on his communicator....
His heart skipped a beat as he realized it was no longer on his wrist. A moment of effort and twisting revealed he was no longer in possession of his morpher, either.

Helpless.... Nausea again invaded his system. He was totally helpless. Tied up, gagged, and locked away only God knew where.... Jason shut his eyes tightly. What was going on here? And why was it happening to him?

His thoughts were interrupted when the door in front of him and the familiar face of one of his abductors appeared in front of him.

"Well, well," Rick Daniels sneered at him. "Sleeping Beauty's awake. How're you feeling, Jason?"

Jason made a sound of anger that was hopelessly muffled by the gag. Daniels laughed cruelly at the boy.

"Go ahead, kid. Make as make noise as you want. No one's going to hear you. No ones that cares, anyway. So how do you like your new home?"

Jason fought the revulsion that was filling his gut. _home...?_ Again, Daniels laughed gratingly. "Get comfortable, kid. You're going to be here for a long time."

Still laughing, he straightened up and backed out of the room, slamming the door shut and locking it behind him. Jason stared at the locked door in dismay, oblivious to the sudden blackness that engulfed him. A moment later, grief flooded through him, and he had to fight to try and hold back the tears. _don't lose it now, jase... it's not gonna do you any good. you gotta keep your cool...._ But still the anguish grew until he couldn't hold it back any longer. He finally gave in to his distress and slumped helplessly against the wall, letting the tears come.

Angel Grove High
The day had turned out sunny and warm, but with a gentle, cool breeze blowing to take the edge of the heat. It was the perfect Spring day. Or rather, it should have been....

"I feel so damned useless," Tommy muttered dismally as he and the other rangers sat at a picnic bench in the school grounds. "Jason's in real trouble, Zedd could be planning who-knows-what even as we speak, and all we can do is sit on our butts and sulk!"

Billy spoke gloomily, not bothering to raise his eyes to look at Tommy. "There's nothing we can do. Jason's communicator has been destroyed, and the computer only teleported his power coin and morpher. We have no way of locating him now."

"Yeah," Zack added, "and the police are doing all they can, Tommy."

"Well, it's not enough!!!" Tommy exploded. He smashed his fist down hard on the tabletop, startling them all out of the gloom and misery. "Dammit, I can't just sit here and do nothing! There has to be something we can do!"

Zack looked up at Tommy, then, and looked him right in the eye. "There's nothing we can do, and you know it. Simmer down, Tommy. Getting angry isn't gonna do anyone any good. Especially not Jason."

Tommy slumped over in defeat. He knew Zack was right, and the knowledge made him ashamed of his outburst. "I'm sorry, guys," he said softly. Kimberly reached over and gently squeezed his hand.

"It's okay, Tommy. We all feel the same way. If there was anything we could do, then we'd do it, but there isn't."

Trini nodded. "As hard as it is, we just have to wait this one out." Tommy, however, didn't reply. He sunk into a silent depression, and would say no more.

* * *

Jason rapidly lost all track of time in the dark room, with no knowledge of whether it was even night or day. The time passed in monotonous silence in his cement prison, with no freedom to even stretch his body and loosen his stiff joints.

The ropes that bound his wrists were gradually cutting off the circulation in his hands, and it was the same with his feet. If he did not somehow manage to loosen the ropes, even just a little, he would be in serious danger of losing all sensation in his feet and hands.

Even as he struggled, the door swung open and his abductor appeared in front of him, a bowl and spoon held in one hand and a glass of water in the other. Daniels paused, eying Jason curiously.

"What's the matter? Not comfortable?"

He crouched down in front of Jason, put the bowl on the floor, reached up, then paused. "If I take this gag out, are you going to start yelling?"

Jason hesitated, staring into Daniels' eyes. There was something there, something strange. Jason swallowed hard, a remarkable feat considering how painfully dry his throat and mouth were. Something in Daniels' eyes scared him. Badly. He shook his head slowly. No, he would not yell.

Daniels smiled faintly. "Good."

He reached out and carefully pulled the gag from Jason's mouth. "Now, what's wrong?"

_aside from being kidnapped...?_ He kept the thought to himself. "The ropes are too tight," he said, struggling to keep his voice from cracking. "They're starting to cut off the circulation."

Daniels merely offered Jason twisted smile. "Well, why would you be worried about that? You aren't going anywhere."

Jason slumped back helplessly against the wall. He was trapped in a cement room, somewhere, with a brutal psychopath for a captor.... Daniels continued to grin unpleasantly as he picked up the bowl.


Although Jason didn't care to admit it, he was very hungry. Daniels seemed to read his mind, though, for he nodded.

"Okay. You eat all this, and I might remember to bring you something for lunch."

_lunch...? then this is morning...?_ Jason frowned and pulled back as Daniels offered him a mouthful of what was in the bowl. Daniels stared at him, a hint of anger in his eyes.

"What's the matter? This not good enough for you?" Jason cringed at Daniels' harsh tone.

"Can I at least feed myself?"

A tight smile flickered across the man's face. "You're gonna eat all this, and I'm gonna feed it to you. You got that, kid? Because if you don't eat, you aren't going to get anything else until tomorrow. You want to find out what it's like to slowly go hungry? No? Then you'll damn well eat!"

Jason didn't have to wonder whether it was the truth. He could see it in his captor's eyes. If he didn't eat what was offered to him, he would starve. Burning with humiliation, Jason gave in and allowed Daniels to feed him.

Several minutes later, Daniels smiled triumphantly and stood up. "Very good, Jason. You saved yourself from going hungry for another day." He paused, then leant over and spoke in a soft, threatening voice. "I'm going to be generous, and leave the gag out for a while. If you yell out at all, though, I'll come back down here and break your damn legs. You got that?"

Jason nodded fearfully. He believed Daniels would really do it. Daniels smirked.

"Good. Very good."

He turned and stalked out of the room, slamming and locking the door behind him.

* * *

Ben Daniels watched the older students training on Stone Canyon High's track, wondering if he would ever be good enough to make the school's track team. He had tried three times already, and each time the Coach simply looked at him with false sympathy and told him he had to work out for another six months.

Ben sighed heavily to himself. He was almost ready to give up, except for the fact that he knew that both the coach and his father wanted him to quit. For that reason alone, he was not ready to cave.

"Still dreaming, Ben?"

Ben looked around and smiled wearily as a group of his closest friends joined him in the bleachers. "Hey, guys."

Ben's best friend, Eric Connor, nudged Ben with a playful grin. "How about you go down there and show that weasel Coach Drummond what you've got?"

Ben merely shook his head, putting up with the ribbing from his friends without protest.

"Hey," Jeremy Finch hissed suddenly, "look. There's Adam Park." Eric hooted and yelled loudly as the younger teen passed the bleachers.

"Hey, Park! You're on the wrong side of the school! Geeks and smart alecs belong in the library!"

Down near the track, Adam spared the group a look of disdain, and went further on to join his best friend, Rocky DeSantos.


Rocky grinned and clapped Adam on the back. "Adam! You finally decided to try out for track!"

Adam grimaced. "No thanks. I've gotta talk to you, buddy."

"Sure," Rocky replied, and led Adam up into the bleachers where they sat down. "Okay. What's up?"

"I was just on the phone with Billy, from Angel Grove," Adam told him quickly, tensely. "Something bad has happened. Jason's been kidnapped!"

Rocky exploded, drawing the attention of Eric Connor's group nearby. "What!? When?"

"Yesterday afternoon. Bulk and Skull saw a couple of guys ambush him in the park." Adam's voice dropped to a whisper. "They're certain Zedd didn't have anything to do with it, and apparently a couple of guys tried to grab Jason a little over a week ago. The police are sure it's the same two guys."

"Couldn't they just, you know, teleport him to the Command Centre, or something?" Rocky asked careful to keep his voice low. Adam looked grim.

"They tried. Billy said the computer lost the lock on Jason's communicator. He's pretty sure it was destroyed. Then, Zordon tried to teleport him by locking onto his power coin and morpher, but it didn't work. The morpher and coin teleported, and Jason was left behind, so now they've got no way of finding him."

Rocky frowned, confused. "Hang on.... If Zordon can't teleport Jason without a coin or a communicator.... then how did he teleport us to the Command Centre that time?"

Before Adam had a chance to reply, several shadows fell over them, and they looked up to see Eric and his gang standing over them. Both boys were on their feet an instant later, ready for trouble. Eric stared at the two intently.

"What are you two talking about?"

Rocky started to tell Eric to mind his own business, but Adam put a restraining hand on his shoulder and spoke quietly.

"Something's happened to a friend of ours from Angel Grove."

"And what's that?" Jeremy Finch taunted. "One of your geek buddies trip over a break a leg?"

Anger flashed in Adam's eyes, but he kept it under control. "Jason Scott was kidnapped from Angel Grove Park yesterday afternoon."

There was a surprised silence, and then Eric spoke in a subdued tone. "I know Jason. We used to take karate lessons together before we moved here. What happened?"

Eric was completely serious, and Adam replied with equal seriousness. "A couple of guys grabbed him in the park, and knocked him out with chloroform. The police are sure it was the same two guys that tried to grab him a week or so back."

A deep frown passed over Eric's face. "I'll bet Jason kicked their butts the first time. You hear anymore about this, Park, then you let me know. Okay?"

Adam nodded. "I will."

The group headed back to their spot, and Rocky jabbed Adam in the side. "What'd you tell them for? What do they care?"

Adam stared reproachfully at Rocky. "Probably more than you give them credit for. Jason's a good guy, and most of the students here learning martial arts have heard of him. Nobody would want anything bad to happen to him. Not like this."

Rocky scowled. "Except the creeps that took him. Have you told Aisha yet?"

"No. I came here first because I wasn't sure where she was."

"C'mon, then." Rocky grabbed Adam's arm and hauled him back down the bleachers. "Let's go find her."

* * *

Ben watched silently as Rocky and Adam hurried off, probably in search of Aisha Campbell, the third member of their little clique. He had made no comment upon hearing of Jason's abduction for two reasons. One. the topic was too close to home for comfort. His own sister had been abducted a year back. Two, his sister had been sent by his father to Donavon Scott, Jason's psychiatrist father, for help. After numerous, costly sessions, Jane had finally walked out of school one day and straight onto the the highway, in front of a truck. She had been killed on impact.

Rick Daniels had made no effort to hide the fact that he blamed Donavon Scott for Jane's suicide, and that anger and blame had gradually rubbed off on his son. Now, upon hearing that Jason Scott had been abducted, Ben felt a strange, almost sickening sense of justice. Now, perhaps Donavon Scott would know the hell they had all gone through after Jane had finally been found.

The thought wavered for an instant. That was, if Jason was ever found.... He shoved the thought brutally to the back of his mind. He had no right to think any of that. No matter how big a grudge he and his father held against Donavon Scott, it did not justify the abduction of Jason. Not one little bit.

Repenting of his earlier thoughts, he silently hopes that Jason would be found soon, safe and unharmed.

* * *

Carl Daniels arrived at the house in Stone Canyon that afternoon to find his brother lounging in an armchair, watching ice hockey on the television. He shook his head and promptly stepped in front of the set.

"Hey!" Rick protested angrily. "Get your damn butt out of the way!" Carl regarded Rick coolly. "When did you bother to check on our.... guest last? This morning?"

Rick smirked. "I really humiliated him this morning, Carl. After Ben left for school, and I went down and fed some oatmeal to him. I told him he either ate what I fed him, or he could starve. He ate the stuff, but he wasn't happy about it."

"You fed him?"

"Like a baby. Really gave his ego a beating. Oh, I also dumped a heap of that muscle relaxant stuff in it that I had you get. Half the packet, I reckon. In another hour or so, he won't be able to move even if I do untie him."

Carl continued to frown. "What did you want that stuff for, anyway? You aren't going to risk untying him."

Rick smiled secretively. "You don't need to know."

"Yeah," Carl muttered. "Well, you been down there since?"

"Nope," Rick replied casually. A little too casually for Carl's liking. "I was gonna take something down to him at lunch time, but then I figured I'd let him sweat it out for a while." He glanced at his watch and got to his feet. "I suppose I'd better take something down there now, before Ben gets home. I'll put the rest of that packet in as well, before I take it down."

"Take what down where?" a voice asked behind them, and they both looked around to see that Ben had already come in.

"Some poison down to the basement," Rick told him, without missing a beat. "I thought I saw some rats in there this morning, when I went to check on those barrels. Must've come through the air vents."

Ben nodded, accepting the explanation without question. "Heard something today. You might be interested to know... Jason Scott's been kidnapped."

Carl stiffened very slightly, but Rick spoke casually, apparently having already worked out his reaction. "Jason Scott... Donavon Scott's boy?"

"Yeah. Someone snatched him from Angel Grove Park yesterday."

Rick looked thoughtful. "Well, I feel sorry for Jason, but maybe now Donavon Scott will know what it's like to lose a kid."

Ben nodded as he dropped into an armchair. "That's what I thought. Still, I wouldn't want anything bad to happen to him. Jason's apparently one of the best martial artists in Angel Grove. I hope the police find him soon."

Rick stared at Ben for a long moment, then turned and stalked into the kitchen without saying another word.

* * *

Jason had just about given up on his abductor coming back. He was sure it had been at least ten or twelve hours since being given that small amount of food and water, and he wasn't sure if he could keep anything down now even if the man did come back.

He shut his eyes and slumped back against the cold cement wall. How long had he been here? At least one full day, now, probably more. He had no way of knowing for certain. All he knew was that he was holding on to his sanity by a very thin line, and much longer in this hell hole could easily see him lose his tenuous grip on reality.

_you idiot!_ Jason cursed himself angrily. _you gotta keep fighting. don't give in.... just pretend you're trapped in one of zedd's dimensions. any time now, the rangers are gonna come for you...._

He didn't really believe it. If his friends had been going to rescue him, they would have shown up by now. Not that he was angry at them, of course. Any number of things could have happened between when he'd been kidnapped, and now. Whenever now actually was....

For all he knew, Zedd had probably taken advantage of his absence and sent some new monster to trash the city. Anger flashed through Jason. His friends could well be fighting for their lives, and he could do nothing about it....

He smiled to himself in his mind. It was working. His fear and frustration had faded, even if just a little, and he had managed to secure his hold on reality for a while longer. A second later, the door swung open and his captor appeared in front of him.

"Sorry about lunch," Daniels retorted in a tone which suggested he wasn't. "I forgot. Brought you something now, though."

He crouched down in front of Jason again, then frowned at him. "You listen close, kid. My son's home from school, and he doesn't know you're here. So, if you so much as make a whimper, I'll make sure you never talk again. Got it?"

Jason didn't care to think about how such a threat would be carried out, not did he care to find out. He nodded wordlessly, and Daniels smiled cruelly.

"Good. You're a smart kid, Jason. You really know what's good for you. Now, ready to eat?"

Although he knew it was a dangerous thing to do, Jason turned his head away when Daniels held out the first spoonful to him. Daniels glowered angrily.

"Don't tell me you're not hungry. You must be." Jason stared at him in fearful silence, not daring to speak without being prompted. Finally, Daniels gave in with a growl.

"Okay. What's wrong with you?"

"Can't eat," Jason told him softly. "It'll only make me sick, now."

Daniels grunted loudly. "Sure. Now open your damn mouth. I'm not letting you starve to death. Not yet, anyway."

When Jason pulled away again, Daniels got to his feet, stepped out of the room and yelled out loudly. "Carl, get down here! Ben, you stair upstairs or I'll tan your rear!" A minute later, Jason watched in growing apprehension as the second kidnapper appeared in the doorway.

"What's going on?"

"He won't eat," Rick growled. "I won't have him starve yet, so do me a favour and hold him still. He's gonna eat this whether he likes it or not."

Carl scowled. "I told you not to leave him this long. You're gonna make him sick."

"Do I care?" Rick retorted. "Hold him down." The next moment, a powerful arm locked around Jason, holding his head in an unbreakable grip. Then, a second hand came round and forced his mouth open. A moment after that, a spoonful of food was literally shoveled into his mouth, and he was forced to swallow.

It took a great effort for Jason not to be sick on the spot. He believed it would only make his captors angrier, though, and that was something he did not need. So, unable to fight and break free, Jason unhappily swallowed what was fed to him.

Eventually, after what seemed an endless amount of time later, the grip on his head was loosened, then released, and Carl straightened up and stepped out of the room, muttering to himself.

Rick watched him go, then looked back at Jason. "You'd better get used to this, Jason, because you're never going to see your folks again. You understand me, boy? This is where you're going to be for a very long time. You are never going to see your mother and father again. Never."

Before Jason had a chance to regain his wits, Daniels reached forward and shoved the gag roughly back into the boy's mouth. Then, smirking to himself, he slammed and locked the door behind him.

Jason slid all the way to the floor the moment he was alone, and collapsed onto his side as terrible pains began to knife through his gut. He began to retch a moment later, but was able to stop himself from throwing up.

With choking as a distinct possibility, vomiting was simply not an option that was open to him. _never see his parents again....?_ The full realization of Daniels' words struck him hard. He would be spend the rest of his life here...?

Jason felt his sanity start to slip away from him again, and he gave a muffled sob, fresh tears flooding his eyes and blinding him. Not for the first time, and not for the last, he wondered if he would ever be allowed to escape this nightmare......

* * *

Billy hung up the phone in the kitchen of his home, feeling a little dazed. Then, gradually, the bewilderment faded, to be replaced by a mixture of shock and hope. Maybe....

Turning abruptly, he bolted from the room.

* * *

"What is wrong, Billy?" Zordon asked when Billy teleported into the Command Centre. For a tenth of a second, Billy almost laughed. _jason's been kidnapped.... he could even be dead, for all we know.... and you ask me what's wrong.....?_

"I was just talking to Adam Park," Billy went on to say breathlessly. "He said something that made me think..... Maybe we can teleport Jason here without a communicator, or a power coin."

"That is not possible, Billy," Zordon said in that gentle, _you-don't-know-that-much_ tone that Billy hated.

"If it isn't possible," Billy shot back, "then how did you manage to teleport me, Jason, Zack, Trini and Kimberly here when Rita first escaped? And how did you teleport Tommy those times when he lost his powers? And what about Rocky, Adam and Aisha? How did you teleport them here?"

Billy's tirade left Zordon at a sudden loss. Then, as the realization struck, he spoke to Alpha in his _take-charge_ voice.

"Alpha, log into the computer network and find all the information we have on Jason. When you've compiled it all, lock it into the location grid. If Jason is anywhere within the vicinity of Angel Grove or Stone Canyon, the computer should be able to locate and teleport him with the specific information. Good work, Billy."

"It wasn't my idea," Billy admitted. "It was Rocky who thought of it. Let's just hope it works. It might be the last chance Jason has got."

* * *

Jason was sure it was night time. Some hours had passed since his two captors had forced him to eat the food, and his stomach had finally settled down. He was not well, though, and he knew it. The fits of pain that he'd suffered, and not being able to remove the offending substance from his body, had left him exhausted and weak.

Shuddering painfully, Jason slowly pushed himself up into an upright position. He didn't care anymore about the threats he had been given. If he didn't do something to try and get out, no matter how useless the attempt, he would go insane. He was certain of it.

After a long moment, his gaze fell on the door, barely visible in the almost non existent light. He could just reach it with his feet.....

Using what little strength he had left, Jason lifted his feet and began to kick the door as hard as he could.

* * *

Ben awoke with a start, rapidly becoming aware of a strange thumping that seemed to be coming from somewhere beneath him. Disconcerted by the steady pounding, he eventually got up, pulled on his robe and slipped out of the room.

The thumping, Ben soon discovered, was definitely coming from the basement. More specifically, the little room within the basement. Gathering his courage, he descended into the darkness.

* * *

Jason faltered, fear overriding his system. What the hell was he doing....? Daniels had threatened to break his legs if he made any noise.... _my son doesn't know you're here....._

He forced the fear back. He had to try, no matter what the consequences. Drawing in a deep breath, he kept kicking.

* * *

Ben swallowed hard as the pounding faltered momentarily, then suddenly got stronger. He started to reach for the handle..... and yelped in fright as a hand clamped down on his should and spun him around. "Dad...."

Rick Daniels glared at his son in anger. "Dammit, Ben, I told you to stay away from this room!"

"But the thumping...." Ben protested.

"Rats," Ben hissed at him. "It's only rats. Now get back to your damn room before I decide to use my belt buckle on you instead of them."

Ben fled upstairs, knowing the threat would be carried out. Daniels watched him go, then turned back to the closed door, leather belt and steel buckle clutched tightly in his right hand.

* * *

Jason felt his heart almost stop when the door swung violently open, and Daniels stormed in, shutting it firmly behind him.

"What did I tell you about making any noise?" Daniels snarled, the belt swinging menacingly in his hand. Jason felt his fear increase threefold, and he cringed away from his captor, against the wall. Daniels advanced quickly and, without a word, lashed out viciously at Jason with the belt.

The buckle caught him on the side of the face, dragging cruelly across his cheek and leaving a bleeding, red welt. Before he had a chance to recover from the blow, the belt swung towards him again, this time striking him across the mouth. Jason's head rocked violently to the side, and he felt something in his jaw crack. A moment later, blood filled his mouth.

The beating continued for an endless amount of time, and when Daniels finally moved away from Jason, the boy lay on the floor, semi-conscious and badly hurt.

Smiling unkindly to himself, Daniels turned and stalked out of the room, taking no small amount of pleasure from the beating he'd just dished out.

* * *

Ben came to breakfast the next morning in a cold silence, angry with his father's callous treatment of him the night before. Daniels, for his part, wanted to apologize, but it was not his style, and to do so would merely raise his son's suspicions.

"Catch any rats?" Ben finally spat out, not bothering to look his father in the eye. Daniels smirked coldly.

"As a matter of fact, I caught a damned big one. Gave it a real hiding, too."

Ben glanced up at his father, then, before looking away again. Daniels finally sighed and gave in. "Okay, Ben. I'm sorry. Look, how about we go out to dinner tonight?"

Ben was startled. "Can we afford that?"

Daniels grinned. "I think we can afford Pizza Palace. Now go on. If you hurry, I'll let you drive."

Ben hurried from the kitchen, confused but pleased all the same.

* * *

Ten minutes later, father and son headed out to the garage when a familiar, albeit unwelcome sound reached their ears.

"Rats...?" Ben asked in disbelief as they heard the faint thumping coming from the basement. Daniels scowled and, for a brief moment, Ben caught a look on his father's face that frightened him greatly.

"Get in the car," Daniels told his son. "Start the engine and rev it up a few times. So it doesn't die. I'll be back in a minute."

* * *

Jason was almost too weak, too exhausted and too sick to even notice when Daniels stormed into the room. When he crouched down in front of him, though, Jason knew he was in serious trouble.

"I thought you were smart, Jason," Daniels whispered ominously. "I thought you'd at least be smart enough after last night not to try this again. I guess you're not as smart as I thought. Do you know what I'm going to do to you, boy?"

Jason stared at Daniels, sheer panic and terror flooding his face. Then, as Daniels lifted a heavy iron bar, Jason began to scream.

* * *

Ben was in the middle of revving the car's engine when a muffled sound reached his ears. Something that sounded suspiciously like... a scream...? First of fear.... then it changed in tone, and Ben thought it became a scream of pain.

He was about to shut off the engine and go back inside to investigate when his father appeared, holding the biggest rat he'd ever seen.

"Look at this!" Daniels growled as he dumped the dead animal in the bin. "Ever seen one this big?"

Ben merely swallowed, saying nothing. Maybe his father had been telling the truth after all.

Daniels climbed in and stared meaningfully at his son. "Let's go."

* * *

Jason slumped against the wall, sobbing helplessly into the gag. The pain that assailed him was horrendous, and he was starting to wonder whether he could take any more abuse. His abductor had broken his left leg in at least two places, ensuring that he was no longer capable of kicking the door. He had then left with the promise of more to come.

_i can't handle this......_ He shut his eyes tightly, but it didn't stop the tears.

* * *

Tommy came to a sudden halt just inside the school grounds. All of a sudden, he had such a terrible feeling..... Something was happening to Jason, something bad. He shut his eyes, rocking back and forth slightly on his heels as tears built up in his eyes, but did not overflow. _hang in there, jase. wherever you are, hang in there and keep fighting...._

* * *

Rick Daniels arrived back home to find his brother waiting for him on the doorstep.

"Any problems?" Carl asked casually. Rick scowled. "The little bastard started kicking the door last night. Got Ben's attention. I just managed to stop him from opening the door."

Carl whistled. "Close call."

"You're not kidding. I took my belt to him, but he started it again this morning."


"And so I broke his leg."

Carl drew in a sharp gasp of shock. "You really did it, huh?"

"Yeah, I did it. He was asking for it."

A suspicious look flickered across Carl's face. "Why do I get the feeling you haven't finished with him?"

Daniels glowered as he tossed his jacket onto the couch. "I haven't. he's still holding out, Carl. I'm not gonna finish this until I've completely broken that kid's will. Listen, I want you to wait up here. Keep an eye out in case anyone comes to the door, and get rid of them as quick as you can. If anyone asks for me, just say I went for a walk around to the shops. They'll believe it. And don't you dare come down to the basement."

Unease began to fill Carl's stomach. "What are you going to do to him, Rick?"

"I'm gonna break his spirit totally, so he'll never pull himself back together."

"But.... _what_ are you going to do?"

"You don't need to know. Just stay up here and keep your eyes and ears open. And don't come downstairs, no matter what you hear."

Without another word, Daniels turned and stalked down into the basement.

* * *

Jason looked up, semi-dazed, as Daniels came back into the room, carefully shutting the door behind him. Fear flooded his system, and he braced himself for the anticipated blows. None came.

After a long moment, Daniels knelt down beside Jason, looking him over carefully. Jason felt a touch of concern mix with the fear that remained as Daniels' eyes ran slowly up and down his body.

"You know something, Jason? You're a pretty handsome kid. I'll bet you've had a lot of girls chasing you." Confusion joined the cocktail of emotions that churned inside Jason. Daniels reached up and, very lightly, touched two fingers to Jason's chin, lifting his face up a little. "Very handsome indeed."

The two fingers traced a line down Jason's throat, down his chest and stomach. And then Jason finally understood what was going on.

Daniels smiled at the sudden alarm and horror in the boy's eyes. He continued to smile as he untied the ropes and began to remove Jason's clothes.

"Relax, Jason, and you won't get hurt."

_block it out...... gotta block it out......._ Panic raced through Jason's senses as his mind worked desperately to block out what was happening to him. The physical abuse he could handle, but not this.

The worst part was that no matter how hard he tried, he could not fight Daniels. He had been completely untied, but he could not gather the strength to even try to kick him away. Maybe it was because it had been so long and the circulation had been all but cut off, but whatever the reason, he had no choice but to simply lie there and let it happen.

Daniels paused for just a moment, looking down at the helpless boy. He smirked cruelly.

"You're not fighting me, Jason. You must like this." Tears flooded Jason's eyes and he tried to speak, but could not get a sound out for the gag that was jammed in his mouth. Daniels laughed and continued on with his abhorrent act.

Jason cringed as a shard of pain stabbed through his lower body, adding to his demoralization, and he worked even harder to break away from the world that was causing him so much physical and mental anguish.

Another stab of pain, and he cried aloud through the gag. The only reply was a cruel, remorseless chuckle, and the torture continued. _think of an island....._ He kept his eyes shut tightly as the grade four relaxation exercise slowly came back to him. _think of an island.... far out in a wide, wide lake. this is your island, separate from everything in the world that can hurt you. there is no way on or off this island, except by your will. nothing can touch you here. no one can hurt you. you are safe on this island...._

Jason shuddered a little. The pain through his lower body was getting worse, and yet it wasn't affecting him as badly. It seemed distant. Everything seemed distant, separate, somehow. He opened his eyes, and saw everything, and nothing. He felt his body relax, and the pain flickered and was gone. He was on the island, and he was safe.

* * *

Daniels felt Jason's body suddenly relax beneath his touch, and he looked up quickly. Jason's eyes had glazed over, and he stared ahead into space, apparently seeing nothing at all. Daniels laughed softly, cruelly, and ceased his offensive deed.

He'd finally done it. He'd sent Jason well and truly off the deep end. The look in Jason's eyes now was one he knew all too well. It was the same, empty look that had been in his daughter's eyes, after she had finally been rescued by the police.

Daniels continued to laugh, gloating over his young victim. Jason might have finally shut off from reality, but he wasn't finished yet. It was possible that some things would register while the boy was in that state, and he intended to take full advantage of Jason's helplessness.

He moved back over the teen, leering evilly to himself. By the time he was finished, Jason would never be the same person again.

* * *

Eric Connor watched Ben throughout the duration of lunch, gradually becoming more and more annoyed with his friend. Something was obviously bothering him, but he made no attempt to share the problem. Finally, Eric felt his patience snap. "Okay, Ben. What's wrong?"

Ben looked over at Eric, startled. "What d'you mean?"

Eric eyed his friend disapprovingly. "C'mon, man. You've been acting like a zombie all day. What's up?"

Ben sighed and confessed his concerns to his friend. "Something weird is happening at my place, Eric. I don't know what, except that it seemed to start about the time that Jason Scott was kidnapped. My dad and my uncle came home one afternoon and told me stay in my room, because they had some barrels of poisonous chemicals, or something. Said they were putting them in that little cement room in our basement, and Dad told me not to go down there."

Eric nodded. "Okay. So what's weird about that?"

"Nothing, at first. Then, I got home yesterday to hear my dad say to my uncle that he'd, and I quote, "better take something down there before Ben gets home." He told me he was taking some poison down to kill some rats."

"And that's weird?"

Ben stared flatly at his friend. "He went down there with a bowl of oatmeal and a spoon. I don't think he was planning to hand feed any rats. Then, he called for my uncle, and told me to stay upstairs, or he'd belt me.

"Last night, I woke up to hear a thumping noise coming from the room. Like someone was kicking the door. Dad said it was rats again, but I don't know. The thumping seemed too steady for rats. It happened again this time. There was more thumping. Dad told me to rev the engine, and he went back inside. Eric, I could almost swear I heard someone screaming. It was really muffled, but I swear it....."

Eric frowned, disturbed. "Ben, what are you saying....?"

Ben stared intently at the ground. "My dad really hates Donavon Scott, Eric. When I told him that Jason had been kidnapped, pretty much all he said was that maybe now Donavon Scott would know what it's like to lose a kid."

Horror flashed across Eric's face. "Hang on a minute, Ben! Your old man might be nuts, but he's not that nuts! He wouldn't be crazy enough to kidnap someone. Especially not Jason Scott...."

"How do we know that?" Ben protested. "How do I know that? For the past year, he's done nothing but go around saying how he's gonna make Jason's dad pay for Jane's death. How does anyone know he wouldn't snatch Jason?"

"There's only one way you're gonna know for sure," Eric told him softly. "You've gotta find out what's in that room. It's the only way you'll know. I still think you're out of your mind, but if you're that worried, then sneak down here tonight when your old man's sleeping, and check it out."

Ben nodded silently, determined to find out for certain and lay his fears to rest.

* * *

Tommy arrived home late that evening, feeling sick and thoroughly miserable. Billy and Alpha had almost gotten a lock on Jason through the computer when Zedd sent a new monster to attack thecity. Billy had been forced to abandon the search to join his friends in the fight, and upon returning later on, they had found that a huge, random power surge through the Command Centre had effectively erased all the information they had needed to locate Jason.

And of course, fighting the monster had wiped them all out. Without Jason and the use of the Red Dragon ThunderZord, it had been doubly hard work. They'd all agreed it was lucky that Zedd rarely sent two monsters together. If he had done so this time, they would have been in serious trouble.

Fighting back useless tears, Tommy wandered into his bedroom and sat down with a thud on his bed. Nearly a full week had passed, but it seemed so much longer. All their attempts to find Jason had failed, for one reason or another. It was almost as though some higher being kept stepping in and cutting short their efforts to find their friend.

Then, on top of it all, he could not get rid of the terrible feeling that something terrible was happening to Jason. He shuddered and buried his face in his hands. _we just want him back. please, give him back to us....._ "Tommy?"

Tommy looked up to see his mother standing there, watching him with deep concern. He looked away from her without saying a word, tears that he'd held back finally overflowing. Mrs. Oliver sat down next to her son and put and arm around his broad shoulders.

"You'll see Jason again, Tommy. The police are working around the clock to get him back."

"But there hasn't even been a ransom demand!" Tommy choked out. "What do they want him for? What are they doing to him?"

Mrs. Oliver didn't answer. She had no answer to give. "Try and be strong, sweetheart. They'll find Jason, and he'll be all right. You have to be strong."

Tommy fell against his mother, crying helplessly into her shoulder.

* * *

Ben sat up slowly in bed and glanced at the alarm clock. 1:30 a.m. He swallowed hard and got carefully out of bed. His father should be asleep by now. If not, he would simply say he needed water. He grabbed his heavy robe and ventured out of his room, pulling it tightly around his shoulders.

The house was dark and silent. Ben let out a soft sigh of relief. His father was asleep; he could hear the snoring coming from the master bedroom. Moving silently, carefully, he headed along the hall and down into the basement.

It took him a minute to find the door of the little room, and get the key into the lock, for he dared not turn on the main light. After a moment of scrabbling around, though, he did it and, his heart beating painfully in his chest, he pushed the door open and turned on the light.

Nausea hit Ben like a freight train. His worst fear had been confirmed upon turning on the light and finding Jason Scott tied up and gagged in the little room. Fighting the dizziness that threatened to engulf him, Ben moved forward and crouched down beside the injured teenager.

"Jason...." he whispered anxiously, shaking Jason's motionless form a little. There was no response, though, so Jason was either unconscious, or.....

Ben shuddered, preferring not to consider that possibility. Jason looked to him as though he was pretty badly hurt, although he couldn't tell for sure. There was a vicious red welt across his cheek, plus bruising and lacerations that were visible through rips in his shirt....

The teen drew in a painfully slow breath. Jason's left leg was cleanly broken, and in more than one place. He remembered the strange thumping, and his father's reaction each time.... He remembered the scream he thought he had heard, and realized it had to have been Jason.

Ben stood up quickly. He had to get out of the house. There was no way he could stay and act normally, knowing what he did. He had to get out, and get help.

Able to think only of Jason, hurt and probably in shock, Ben backed out of the room and shut the door behind him. He then fled the house, stillin his robe and pajamas.

* * *

Constables Fraser and Matheson were in the middle of a graveyard shift patrol when Matheson suddenly uttered a sound of surprise and brought the car around sharply, to the annoyance of his partner.

"What the hell's with you?" Fraser snapped, barely able to avoid spilling coffee all over himself.

"There," Matheson announced, and Fraser looked up to see the figure of a teenager caught in the headlights of the car. Without waiting for his partner to recover, Matheson got out and headed over to he shivering figure.

"Ben...?" Matheson said in surprise as he got a good look at the boy. "Ben Daniels? What the hell are you doing out here at this time of the morning? At 2 am, for crying out loud...."

Ben looked at the constable through a thin film of tears. "I saw him..." he whispered hoarsely. "I f... found him..... in the little room in the basement. M... My dad did it. My dad k... kidnapped him...."

Matheson stiffened visibly. "What? Kidnapped who, Ben?"

"Jason Scott," Ben whimpered, wondering suddenly if they would arrest him as an accomplice. Matheson glanced back at his partner, then put a hand on Ben shoulder.

"C'mon, Ben. We'll take you to the station. You can tell us what going on on the way there."

Ben allowed himself to be guided to the police car, deciding he didn't care now whether they arrested him or not.

* * *

Lieutenant Garland was in the middle of telling a joke to some of the other officers when Fraser and Matheson came in, a teenage boy between them. Both men were white faced from shock. "What's this, then?" Garland asked, eying Ben critically.

"This is Ben Daniels," Matheson told him. "We picked him up at the corner of First and Pike. Sir, we may have a positive location on the Scott boy."

Garland's eyes narrowed. "Where?"

"At my house," Ben whispered. "He's at my house. My dad kidnapped him. He's got him locked in the basement. I just found him tonight. Had to wait till my dad was asleep.... He's hurt, too...."

"Get an address," Garland told the officers abruptly, "and send him to Jameson for a full statement. Someone, get a hold of Senior Sergeant Radley, in Angel Grove. Tell him we may have found his missing kid. I'm calling the D.A.'s office for a warrant."

* * *

Radley arrived at the Stone Canyon police headquarters just as a number of officers were gearing up for action. He made his way through the clamour, eventually locating the precinct's lieutenant. "Lieutenant Garland?"

Garland nodded to Radley and spoke gruffly. "Looks like we've found Jason Scott, Sergeant. We're going to get him now. The warrant came through five minutes ago."

Radley made no attempt to conceal his relief. "Mind if I join the party?"

Garland offered Radley a twisted smile. "You'll be very welcome. After all, it's your case."

Radley merely smiled back, saying nothing.

* * *

It happened quickly, with police converging on the house and quickly cornering a startled and angry Rick Daniels. "What's going on here?" Daniels snarled, letting go with a long string of expletives. Garland, who had joined the task force as well, stepped forward and spoke to Daniels in a cold voice.

"I'm going to give you a rare opportunity, Mr. Daniels. Tell us where you're holding Jason Scott, and we might tell the judge that you cooperated with us."

Daniels glared in rage. "I don't know what the hell you're talking about. I hope you have a warrant...."

Radley stepped forward, then. We have it right here, Mr. Daniels. Now, if you'll just tell us where to find Jason...."

"I told you," Daniels hissed, "I don't know what you're talking about. My son and I are the only ones here. Ben! Ben, get your butt out here...."

"Don't bother, sir," Garland told him with just a hint of satisfaction in his voice. "Your son is at our station right now, giving a full statement to one of our officers."

It was then that Daniels realized what had happened, and he fell into a tense silence. "Lieutenant!" someone called from the basement. "Down here, sir!" Garland stared pointedly at Daniels, then turned and hurried down to the basement, followed closely by Radley.

* * *

"Hell...." Garland whispered as he entered the room and crouched down beside Jason's motionless form. He paused, then reached out and pressed the tips of his fingers to Jason's throat, and was gratified to find that the pulse was still strong. At least that was one concern eased....

He stood up and turned to face Daniels. "Still don't know what we're talking about, Mr. Daniels?"

Daniels glowered angrily. "I'm not saying anything until someone calls my lawyer."

Garland snorted in disgust and waved his hand in the air. "Someone read this trash his rights and get him out of here. And call for a damn ambulance!"

He turned back to see Radley crouching beside Jason. "Oh Jesus, he's awake...."

Garland was confused, and a little disturbed. "I would have thought that would be a good thing."

Radley looked distressed. "Come down here. Take a look in his eyes."

After a moment, Garland did so. He soon realized what Radley meant. "He's awake, but he's not there."

"Exactly. We've got to get him to hospital." Garland nodded as a constable spoke to him in a low voice. "Don't worry, Sergeant. An ambulance is on its way."

* * *

Donavon and Sarah Scott sat together in the family room of their home while their sister inlaw, Jenny Scott, made them all coffee.

"I feel so sick," Sarah whispered. Donavon didn't answer, but rather stared bleakly at the floor. Nearly a week had passed since their son had been abducted, and no one had heard a whisper of where he might be. Both parents were starting to wonder if they would ever see him again.

Of course, they knew children were abducted, vanishing without a trace for weeks, months.... even years, and then returning home.... The week felt like eternity, though, and neither adult was able to comprehend the thought of life without Jason.

Jenny came back in, carrying a tray with three large, steaming coffee mugs. "It's going to be fine," she reassured him for the dozenth time. "The police will find him."

Neither Donavon nor Sarah replied. They simply took the mugs in numb silence. Jenny sighed and was on the verge of berating them for giving up so easily, when the doorbell rang. Grimacing a little, she stood up and went to see who it was.

"Sergeant Radley!" she exclaimed in surprise. The sergeant smiled breathlessly at her. He had tailed the ambulance all the way back to Angel Grove, making a detour right at the last minute so he would be able to tell Jason's family personally.

"I have good news," he told her quickly. "We just raided a house in Stone Canyon. We found Jason. He's being taken to hospital right now."

Jenny's face lit up. "He's all right?"

Radley hesitated, then corrected her softly. "He's alive. Are Donavon and Sarah there?"

Jenny nodded. "I'll get them."

She hurried back inside, where the two were sitting. "Who is it?" Donavon asked quietly. Sarah spoke in rush, barely able to get it out quick enough.

"It's Sergeant Radley. Jason's been found!" Donavon stood up abruptly. "Really?"

"Yes! Police found him in a house in Stone Canyon. Come on! We'll got to the hospital. He's being taken there now."

Donavon looked down at Sarah, who had a stunned expression on her face. "Sarah, they've found Jason!"

Sarah stood up slowly, and then, as the shock and disbelief finally faded, she burst into tears of joy and relief.

* * *

On arrival at the hospital, they were met by Lieutenant Garland. "Lieutenant," Radley said quietly, "this is Donavon and Sara Scott, Jason's parents, and Jenny Scott, his aunt."

Garland nodded. "Glad to meet you all."

"How's Jason?" Sarah asked anxiously. Garland hesitated, then spoke in a low voice.

"I'll be honest with you, folks. I'm no doctor, but he looked to be in a pretty bad way. He has a broken leg, and some bad bruising and lacerations. I'd say he took a pretty bad beating."

Donavon's face darkened. "Have you arrested the man who kidnapped him?"

"Yes, we did. In fact, a lot of the credit has to go to the abductor's son, for having the guts to come forward and tell where Jason was. If it wasn't for Ben Daniels, we may not have found Jason at all."

Donavon felt himself go cold. "Ben Daniels? Rick Daniels' son?"

Garland's eyes narrowed. "You know him?"

"Yes," Donavon whispered. "I treated his daughter after the police rescued her from a kidnapper. She wouldn't respond to treatment, though, and she ended up killing herself."

The irony didn't escape Garland, and he rapidly put two and two together. "Daniels' daughter is kidnapped. He sends her to you for treatment. She ends up killing herself. Now, Daniels abducts your son.... Mr. Scott, how long ago was this?"

"About a year."

Garland nodded. "Okay. I have to get back to do the paperwork on this. I'll keep in touch, Sergeant, to see how Jason is."

Radley nodded silently as Garland hurried from the waiting room.

Donavon watched him go, then looked over at Radley. "Does he believe Daniels took Jason to get back at me...?"

Radley merely shook his head. "I don't know." Donavon sighed and sank down into a chair between his wife and sister inlaw. There was nothing to do now but wait.

* * *

Doctor Sue Barrett moved quickly but carefully as she and a team of ER nurses worked to set Jason's leg and tend to his other injuries. His leg, they found, had been broken in three places, and from what they could figure, it had been done with something like a crowbar, or a hammer. Deliberate, Sue thought in anger, and cruel.

She leaned over him for a moment, satisfying herself that he was indeed unconscious, knocked out by a dose of local anesthetic. The severity of the break meant they had needed to knock him out. Otherwise, setting it would have simply been too painful.

She stepped back a little, concern etched on her face. Not that the traumatized boy probably would have felt it. Jason had been completely unresponsive when the ambulance had arrived, and they had not been able to get any reaction from him at all. He had simply lain there, staring into space.

Sue withheld a sigh. Regardless of that, they just couldn't take the chance. She turned her attention to the welt on his cheek. It was vicious, and dry blood was caked around it. It had become infected, she noted, and, as a result, would probably take anything up to two or three weeks to heal, maybe even longer. Even then he would probably be left with a permanent scar....

"Dr. Barrett...?"

Sue looked around to see one of the nurses looking at her with an expression of deep apprehension. "What is it, Chris?"

The nurse, Chris, motioned with one hand. "You'd better take a look here."

Sue moved down along the table to stand by the young nurse. In an instant, she saw what he was talking about.

"Oh no...." The nurses had needed to cut away the jeans that Jason had on so as to set his leg properly, but in doing so had discovered something much worse than the broken leg. Sue forced herself to breathe evenly as she looked carefully at the extensive bruising that covered Jason's body from the waist down. She had seen this kind of bruising before during a training stint at a hospital in New York. This was the kind of bruising that she had seen all too often on young girls and women.

"Okay," she said finally, thanking God she had been on ER duty when Jason had been brought in, and not one of the male doctors. "Jemma, get a hold of Psyche and tell them we're going to needing someone down here pronto. This kid's been raped."

* * *

Half an hour later, Sue left the ER and headed into the waiting room, where a small group of people were waiting together. She made a beeline for them. "Mr and Mrs. Scott?"

Donavon and Sarah both stood up to meet her. "Yes," Donavon answered. "Is Jason going to be all right?"

"Eventually," Sue replied carefully. "He's had a pretty bad time, by the looks of it. If the two of you would like to come with me?"

Jenny nudged them forward. "Go on. I'll wait here." They went with the doctor in silence.

* * *

Seated in her office, Sue spoke in a quiet voice, not wanting her voice to carry through the walls. "The first thing I feel obliged to say is that I'm glad I was here when Jason was brought in. I don't think handing him over to one of my male colleagues would have been a good idea. Jason might well have reacted badly to a male doctor. Mr and Mrs. Scott, we found something when we were setting Jason's leg.

"Firstly, though..... Jason's leg was broken in three places. It looks like he'll be in plaster for eight weeks, at least. He has some bad bruising and and lacerations over his chest and back.... Also, his jaw is broken, and so is his left cheekbone. That's the worst physical damage we could find without having the x-rays back yet."

"But there's something else," Donavon put in uneasily. "You said you found something when you set his leg."

Sue nodded. "Yes. This is going to be hard for you to hear, but I'm afraid that ignoring it won't make it go away."

"What is it?" Donavon asked softly, his stomach twisting with dread. Sue sat back a little, drawing in a deep breath as she spoke.

"Jason has been sexually molested." There was no easier way of saying it: Sue knew that from experience.

Donavon felt his blood run cold in his veins. "What....?"

Sue swallowed hard, and forced herself to say the words. "Mr. Scott, your son was raped. He has severe bruising from the waist down, plus all the other signs that are indicative to rape. There's no other way to explain it. Jason was raped."

Donavon shut his eyes, feeling his wife's hand close tightly on his own. _raped...... jason's been raped......_

Sue stood up quickly, anxious to get them up to see their son as fast as possible.

"If you'll come with me, I'll take you to him now. He's still unconscious, but you can at least be with him."

Both adults followed in numb silence.

* * *

Tommy awoke with a violent start. He had been dreaming again, and in this dream, he had been captured by Goldar and Zedd. Zedd had told Goldar to get rid of him, and the huge ape had picked him up and started to shake him....

He sat up quickly, only to realize that Goldar was nowhere in sight, and that it was his father who was shaking him. "Tommy, wake up! The police have found Jason!"

Tommy was wide awake in an instant. "Is he okay? Where is he?"

"He's at the hospital now. C'mon. Get dressed quickly." Tommy literally fell out of bed and hurried to get dressed so he could get to the hospital.

* * *

"Zack! Zack, wake up!"

Zack moaned loudly, and rolled over to look at the alarm clock by his bed. It read 4 a.m., and he moaned again, even louder. "It's too early! I've still got another three hours...."

"Damn it, Zack! Wake up! Jason's been found!"

Zack sat up abruptly. "The police found Jason...?"

"Yes! I just got the call. Hurry up and get dressed. We'll go to the hospital now."

Zack slid out of bed, silently thanking whoever might be listening that his best friend had been found.

* * *

Tommy and Zack arrived at the hospital at the same time as Trini, Kimberly and Billy. All five teens and their parents had been notified, and they had gotten to the hospital as fast as they could. They were met by Jason's aunt in the waiting room, who had offered to wait for the group, and tell them the details.

"Is he okay?" Tommy got in quickly, anxiously.

Jenny paused, then shook her head slowly. "No, not really. I spoke to the doctor earlier, and she told me that Jason's left leg is broken in three places, and that his jaw and cheekbone have been broken. It's looks as though he took a pretty bad beating."

Tommy said nothing more, but the look on his face spoke for him in volumes.

"Is that all?" Mr. Taylor asked in concern.

Jenny hesitated, then went on softly. Unfortunately, no." She paused, then went on carefully. She knew they would have to be told sooner or later, and it was better they found out before seeing Jason, so they would be prepared. "Jason was... assaulted."

There was a long silence, and then Billy spoke in a strained voice. "You don't mean... molested...?"

Jenny faltered for just a second, then nodded quickly. "I'm afraid so." The silence that followed could have been cut with a knife.

Then, Tommy spoke in a voice that was more of a whimper than anything else. "No.... No way...."

Mr. Oliver place one hand on Tommy's shoulder, almost as if to hold him in place. "How bad is it?" he went on to ask, all the while keeping his hand on his son's shoulder.

"Pretty bad," Jenny replied. "It.... The doctor told me that Jason was raped."

For several seconds no one spoke. Then, Zack managed to speak in a hoarse whisper. "Where is he?"

"One floor up, in Critical Care. Room 307. A couple of you can go up at a time. No more than that, though. They want to keep numbers to a minimum."

Trini spoke softly. "Tommy, you and Kim go on up. We'll wait here." Kimberly reached out and took Tommy's hand, which hung limply at his side. Then, with a small amount of urging, she led him down the corridor to the lifts.

* * *

Donavon looked up as Tommy and Kimberly entered the room slowly, both of them pale. He knew in an instant that Jenny had told them everything.

"C'mon in, kids," he said softly. Over the space of a couple of hours, the shock had finally worn off, leaving a deep anguish in its place. Now, he sat by his son's side with his wife, waiting patiently for him to wake up.

Kimberly moved forward, leaving Tommy to stand numbly in the doorway. She moved slowly down the side of the bed, then hesitantly reached out to take Jason's limp hand in her own. She looked over his passive features with a feeling of grief and relief. Relief that Jason had been found alive, but grief at what had been done to him.

Tommy finally came forward, moving up to stand next to Kimberly. He looked down at Jason, his gaze falling on the cruel red welt on the teen's cheek.

"What happened here?" he asked softly, motioning to the welt.

Donavon replied in an equally quiet voice. "The doctors think he was hit with a buckle of some sort. They think that whatever did it was also used to break his jaw."

Tommy gritted his teeth together. His best friend had been brutally beaten, sexually assaulted and raped. A violent shudder passed through him, and he tried to get a grip on his rage. _you can't let it control you..._ he thought desperately. _jason needs you, man. you've got to get a grip._ He drew in a deep, calming breath, and felt just a little bit more under control. Then, breathing slowly and deeply, he reached over and put a hand gently on Jason's shoulder. "We're here, Jase. We're all here for you, buddy." He paused, half hoping for some sort of response. When none came, he looked up at Jason's father anxiously. "When's he going to wake up?"

Donavon shook his head. "We don't know. They had to anesthetize him to set his leg, so he could be out for a while yet."

Tommy gazed back down at Jason. He looked deceptively peaceful, lying there asleep, but who knew what he'd be like when he woke up...?

"He's going to need a lot of help," Donavon said softly. "It's going to be a long, hard road."

Tommy bit down on his lower lip hard as he asked himself again how all of this could have possibly happened. Kimberly hesitated, then leaned over and gently kissed Jason on the forehead.

"We have to go now, Jase. We'll be back later." Reluctantly, Tommy and Kimberly left the room. They were soon followed by Zack, Billy and Trini, who also spent a brief amount of time there, then left again. All the while Sarah Scott remained silence, not speaking until the last of Jason's friends had been through.

"How are we going to deal with this, Donavon? How is Jason going to deal with it? These things don't happen in Angel Grove!"

Donavon stared at her sadly. "We'll deal with it because we have to. Jason is going to need us badly. We can't let him down now."

Sarah gave a choked sob. "He doesn't deserve this! He deserves better...."

Donavon rose up quickly and joined his wife around the other side of the bed. "Let it out now, honey. When Jason wakes up, we're going to have to be strong for him."

She gave in with a shudder, crying openly into his shoulder.

* * *

Sue Barrett came into room 307 just after seven o'clock that morning to find both the Scotts asleep in separate chairs. She smiled faintly to herself and was about to pick up the clipboard with Jason's details on it, when she saw the teenager was awake.


Jason didn't respond. He simply lay there staring ahead vacantly. The empty look in his eyes was almost frightening.

Sue stepped up to the edge of the bed. "Jason, can you hear me?" Still no response. Sue felt a chill run through her body. He had not responded when the ambulance had brought him in, but she had thought it was just shock, which would eventually wear off. She had encountered enough rape cases to know it was far more than simple shock now. It would be necessary to get a psyche evaluation done on him, but she could guess what had happened regardless. Jason had somehow managed to shut himself off completely from everyone and everything.

She cursed softly to herself, just as Donavon woke up. "Dr. Barrett...?"

She regarded him grimly. "Jason's awake, Mr. Scott." Donavon was on his feet in an instant. "Jason...?" He trailed off, staring down at Jason's expressionless face. "Oh no...."

She sighed softly. "He was like this when he was brought in this morning, before we anesthetized him. I was hoping it was just shock."

A sinking feeling invaded Donavon's stomach. "He's totally shut himself off from reality."

Dr. Barrett looked unhappy as she spoke. "I'll call someone from Psyche to evaluate him."

Donavon shook his head, feeling sick as he spoke. "Don't bother. I'm a psychiatrist. I've seen this before."

Sue stood frozen for several seconds, then spoke softly. "I have to call someone down here anyway. Part of the hospital's policy."

She turned and hurried from the room. Donavon didn't even notice her go. He continued to stare at his son's vacant expression with a dying sense of faith and hope. He could only pray that he, his wife and Jason's friends had the strength to get through this nightmare.

* * *

Jenny's face broke into a broad smile when she walked into the ward a short while later. "He's awake!"

Donavon stared at her listlessly. "No, he isn't."

She hesitated, suddenly confused. "What do you mean...?" She faltered, staring at her nephew in sudden shock. "He isn't responding...?"

Donavon shook his head wearily. "No. He hasn't spoken, he doesn't look at anyone, he just stares into space. He's completely shut off from reality. Jenny, he's catatonic."

All traces of relief vanished from her face. "Oh no.... Donavon, his friends are downstairs in the waiting room. Do you want me to go down there and tell them?"

Donavon stood up. "No. I'll go. I need you to be here when Sarah wakes up. This is going to be extremely hard for her to take."

"Of course," Jenny murmured. Donavon drew in a deep breath and, taking a last , despairing look at his son, left the room.

* * *

The five friends were just waking up themselves after a couple of hours of fitful sleep when Donavon came in to the waiting room. He waited until they'd all come within hearing distance, then spoke quietly. "Jason's awake."

"That's good news," Mr. Hart remarked.

Donavon spared him a haunted gaze. "He's awake, but he's not there. He's catatonic. He isn't responding at all, to anything."

Heavy silence struck the group. Tommy and the other rangers exchanged miserable looks. _what next?_ they each wondered.

"Can we go up and see him?" Kimberly asked finally.

Donavon nodded. "Yes, by all means. You can all go up together. Please, just try not to get frustrated when he doesn't respond."

The five teens headed for the lift together, leaving their parents to talk with Jason's father.

* * *

Sarah was awake by the time they got to the room, and she and Jenny were standing off to one side of the room, talking quietly when they came in.

"You can talk to him," Sarah told them quietly. "It might help a little."

Zack was the first to venture forward. "Hey, Jase." There was a long, uncomfortable silence, and then Zack moved forward to the bedside. "We're here for you, Jase. I don't know if you can hear me, but we're here for you. We're gonna look after you, now."

Trini came forward. "That's right. You've always been there for all of us. Now it's our turn to be there for you."

Billy joined Zack at the bedside. "We're going to be your strength now, Jase."

Kimberly moved up and, as she had done earlier, reached out and took Jason's hand in her own. "Heart and strength, Jason. We're gonna keep hold of you, and we aren't going to let go."

Tommy finally joined then, stepping forward to the foot of the bed and staring resolutely into Jason's empty expression. "You hear us, Jason?" he said, struggling to keep his voice steady even as he spoke. "We aren't letting you go. We're gonna hold you up, all the way."

Trini blinked back tears and reached out to take Jason's other hand. "All the way...."

Sarah and Jenny exchanged emotional looks. Perhaps there was a chance yet that Jason would recover.