* HOMECOMING *
"How is Tommy?" Jason asked quietly as he followed Michael down a short corridor. "I haven't seen him yet."
by Naomi Tilley
"He's being kept busy with the dojo," Michael answered. He paused, then looked back at Jason. "He's been clean for nearly a year, now. I hope to God he'll stay clean."
Jason nodded slowly. "So do I, sir."
Michael sighed faintly as he showed Jason into an office. "It was hell for all of us. The media was on my back all the time... I hated myself for putting Tommy into de-tox, but it had to be done. For his own sake."
"Billy kept me and Trini up to date," Jason admitted softly. "I would've come back then if I thought it might have helped."
A tired smile crossed Michael's lips. "You always were the best friend Tommy ever had. I have to admit, that I nearly called you several times... But you were still trying to sort yourself out, then. I didn't want to turn a second life upside down. Everything's going just fine now, and hopefully it'll stay that way."
He made a sweeping motion with his hand. "Your office. I know it's not much, and probably less than what you're used to."
Jason resisted a smirk as he thought back to the rather dark little office space he had shared with Sid and a third office. "Actually, sir, it's a lot better. And bigger."
"Glad to hear it. The only drawback is, you have to share with Captain Ashley."
"Eric Ashley?" Jason asked, dumbfounded. Michael smiled, then.
"No, not Eric. He retired two years ago on a disability pension after taking a bullet in the back. David Ashley, Eric's son. I don't know that you've met David. He's about five years older than you."
"I haven't met him," Jason confirmed.
"Well, I'll warn you now. He tends to be a bit cold to start with. Just give him time, and he'll warm up."
Jason grimaced, then looked over to a fully-furnished desk. "That his?"
"Yes. The other one, obviously, is yours."
"And he doesn't mind sharing an office?"
"He wouldn't say even if he did. I guess you'll know by the end of the day. But on the other hand, he is always professional. So don't worry about it."
Jason chewed lightly on his lower lip. "Thanks. I think."
Michael clapped him lightly on the shoulder. "Everything will be fine, Jason. I'm glad to have you on board. And don't think you're going to have a quiet time of it, either. Since we stopped needing the Power Rangers for the monsters, the old-fashioned type of crime has resurfaced with a vengeance. You're going to be plenty busy, don't think you won't."
Jason merely smiled and rolled his eyes.
Capt. David Ashley paused in the hallway, looking through the glass panel into his office. Three weeks ago, Chief Oliver had informed him he would be sharing an office with Jason Scott, and though he hadn't been happy about it, he hadn't protested. He was a police officer, after all, and that came above petty dislikes. And he did dislike Jason, despite never having actually met the younger man face-to-face.
David frowned slightly to himself. He didn't look all that different to the pictures of him that were plastered around the Youth Centre, along with those of Tommy Oliver, and a few other kids. Disgust flickered across David's face. That was another issue. He was just waiting for Tommy Oliver to be caught with more drugs. It was bound to happen; once a drug addict, always a drug addict. They were never really clean; it was just a matter of proving it.
Of course, he had no doubt that if it did happen, then Scott would be right there to defend his best buddy. And, on top of that, he would no doubt have the police chief to back him up If there was anything that made David angry, it was blatant favouritism.
Biting back his anger and complaints, David went around and walked into the office.
Oliver must have warned him, David thought absently. Scott made no attempt to ingratiate himself, but rather waited for him to make the first move. He did so reluctantly.
"I guess you're Jason," David said coolly. "I'm Captain Ashley."
Jason nodded. "Pleased to meet you."
He was merely being polite, and David knew it. He sat down at his own desk before speaking again.
"I'm supposed to be showing you the ropes for the next couple of weeks." David paused, then turned a hard stare on Jason. "Let's forget the pleasantries, okay? I think we both know you don't really belong here. We aren't going to be best friends, or anything like that. You stay out of my way, and I'll stay out of yours. That's the way it works. Maybe you're a big hero back in Chicago, but that doesn't hold water here. And don't think a reputation will buy you the respect of the rest of the men here. You're still just a kid in their eyes, and you shouldn't be here. You want their respect, then you have to earn it. And it's going to be a long, hard road. Do you understand me, Scott?"
Jason regarded David grimly. "I understand you."
"Good. And don't forget it."
"So how was work?" Trini asked as Jason came in. He looked over at her, and she was startled to see the sheer exhaustion in his eyes. "Jason?"
"It was okay," he muttered. "It's just, I know most of the officers from Dad's practise, and I don't think any of them want to accept that I'm an adult. They think I'm still just a kid, and they're treating me like it. You know, Ted Buchanan actually had the gall to tell me to get him a cup of coffee this afternoon? I outrank him, for crying out loud!"
Trini guided Jason into an armchair and began to massage the tension out of his shoulders. "Don't tell me the great Jason Scott is too big and important to get a simple cup of coffee?"
Jason's expression crumbled. "Trini..."
She leaned over and wrapped her arms around him. "Give it time, honey. You knew it wouldn't be easy."
He sighed faintly. "I guess so."
"Are you hungry? I kept your dinner warm for you."
A grateful smile filtered onto Jason's face. "Thanks, Trini. You're the best."
She smiled serenely. "I know."
*One month later
It was the first day Jason had had off since he'd started work again, and he was making the best of it that he could, taking his family out for picnic by the lake. They'd met Tommy and Kat, and Adam and Tanya, and the group had made a day of it, spending time together the likes of which they hadn't been able to do for years.
"William is such a beautiful little boy," Tanya said with a smile as the five year-old tore around nearby. Jason and Trini both smiled with pleasure.
"We know," Trini agreed. "We love him so much."
Kat smiled seductively at Tommy. "I hope you like kids, Tommy."
"Oh sure," Tommy joked. "When they're asleep."
Kat hit him on the arm, and they all laughed. Both Tommy and Kat, and Adam and Tanya were engaged, but Tommy and Kat had yet to set a wedding date.
Adam and Tanya were to be married in just over a month, and the air around them was rapidly filling with the excitement that a coming wedding brings.
"How long have you guys been married now, anyway?" Tanya asked.
"Six years in two weeks," Jason replied, causing the others to laugh.
"There's a guy who'll never be in the bad books for forgetting an anniversary," Tommy laughed.
Trini regarded the former Ranger with dry humour. "Unlike yourself, Mr Forgetful?"
Tommy reddened and Kat laughed.
"Don't worry, sweetie. I'll happily put reminders up for you."
Jason and Trini exchanged smiles at their friends' antics. They hadn't realised how badly they missed Angel Grove until they'd finally gotten back there.
Jason had left Angel Grove at the age of nineteen, almost immediately after high school graduation, to join the LA Police Academy. After spending the initial rookie period with the LAPD, he had transferred to Chicago. Not long after, he had met up with Trini again. She had been teaching Tae Kwon Do at a local high school, and within six months they'd gotten engaged and gotten married. They had both been twenty-one at the time, and just three months after Jason's twenty-second birthday, on the same day as his promotion to sergeant, William Jared Scott had been born.
It hadn't been a perfect run, though. Not by a long shot. When he was just three months old, William had developed jaundice and a severe kidney problem, and for nearly a month, Jason and Trini had lived with the terror that their baby boy would be taken from them. It wasn't until after William's first birthday that the problems were finally corrected, but the fear from that period of their lives had never fully left them. William had grown into a healthy toddler, but still that fear of losing him clung in the backs of their minds.
"So how are things with your dad?" Tommy asked Jason quietly. Jason shrugged a little.
"No better, either," Trini interjected. "I keep telling Jason they should talk this over, but he won't listen to me."
"I just can't believe he never approved of anything I did!" Jason argued. "What did he want me to do, anyway? Get a nice, cushy desk job? He knew I needed to stay active."
"I guess your dad just assumed you were going to go into the dojo with us," Adam suggested. "After all, we were always talking about it. It was probably a shock to the system when you joined the academy."
"Yeah, Jase," Tommy agreed. "Just give him time, okay? He'll come round."
"Time?" Jason echoed incredulously. "He's had eight years to accept it! How much time does he need?"
Uncomfortable silence followed, and Tanya was about to speak when there was a blur of movement, and suddenly Jason found himself tackled by William on the blanket.
"Got you!" William shrieked excitedly. "I got you, Daddy!"
Jason laughed, his concerns gone as he cuddled his son. "Yeah, you got me good."
William threw his arms around Jason, hugging him as tightly as his little arms would allow.
"I love you, Daddy."
"I love you, too, Will. I love you a lot."
The others exchanged smiles. Patience was the key. Sooner or later, things would work themselves out. They only had to be patient and wait.
"You're married with a kid, aren't you, Scott?"
Jason looked up from his paperwork at the sound of David Ashley's voice.
"Yes. William's five."
"You called your kid William?" David retorted. "What did he do to deserve that?"
Jason fought back a grin. It had been a blatant attempt to rile him, and he knew it. "We were just going to call him Jared, but William is the name of one of my best friends. Besides, his friends are calling him Billy. Not Willie."
David shook his head wordlessly.
"Do you have any kids?"
Jason already knew David was married. He'd seen the wedding ring on the other man's finger.
"Two," David replied. He hesitated, then turned a frame around to show Jason. "This is Kate, and Jonathan. They're twins, but Kate was born several hours earlier, on the previous day."
Jason smiled a that. "They'd be happy to have different birthdays, I'll bet."
David smiled, despite his efforts to continue disliking Jason. "They are. It gives them a sense of individuality. Plus, they like getting presents that they don't have to share."
Jason laughed softly, but stopped as something occurred to him.
"David, could I ask you something?"
David regarded Jason warily. "What is it?"
"Did your father approve of you joining the Force?"
David nodded. "Yes. I think he always wanted me to follow him and join the police. It wasn't to please him, though. I wanted to be an officer for a long time." He hesitated, eyeing Jason curiously. "Why do you want to know?"
"No reason," Jason murmured. "Just curious."
The two fell into silence again, but David continued to watch Jason out of the corner of his eye, suspecting for the first time that perhaps Jason's life wasn't as picture-perfect as they all assumed.
"How's Jason coping?" Melanie Oliver asked her husband as they had dinner. Tommy, who still lived with his parents, glanced up curiously as he ate.
"He's doing fine," Michael replied. "Some of the officers are starting to warm up to him a little. It's taking some time, though."
"Jase never said he was having trouble," Tommy said, frowning. Michael smiled faintly.
"I guess he just doesn't want to burden his friends with his problems."
Tommy shook his head. "Man, to have trouble at work as well as with his dad..."
Michael frowned, then. "What do you mean, with his dad? What's the problem?"
Guilt flashed across Tommy's face. "I guess I shouldn't have said that. I don't suppose you'd forget I said it?"
"No. Explain, please."
Tommy sighed. "Jase had a fight with his dad just after he came back to Angel Grove. It turns out Mr Scott never wanted Jason to join the Police Force to begin with, and he was really upset that Jason went ahead and joined. According to what Trini told us, Mr Scott was never pleased with anything he did in the Force. It really hurt Jase a lot, and they've hardly spoken since they had that fight."
Michael sighed softly. "I should have seen that myself. Donavon counsels so many officers, he sees the sorts of emotional and mental problems that being in the Force can cause. It probably scared the hell out of him when Jason joined the Academy in LA. And especially with Jason's track record. That boy always seemed to land the most dangerous cases. But still I don't understand why Donavon wouldn't be proud of him. Jason's done a hell of a lot of good. He's put a lot of dangerous criminals in jail."
"I think Donavon is a lot prouder of Jason than he's willing to admit," Melanie murmured.
Michael frowned at the table. "We just have to find some way of making him admit it to Jason."
*A few weeks later
Jason and David were working on night shift, patrolling the less classy areas of Angel Grove in an unmarked car. Both men insisted on making regular patrols despite their rank and, inevitably, had ended up doing them together. The last couple of months had soothed David's antagonism towards Jason, though, and he found himself starting to genuinely like the younger man. Jason was nothing like his preceding reputation had made him out to be; there was nothing gung-ho about him, and he relied very much on team work rather than trying to do everything himself.
"All quiet on the western front," Jason muttered, breaking David's train of thought. "Thank God."
David smiled. "Not up for any action tonight?"
"With any luck, no. It was parents' day at the kindergarten today. After two and a half hours of dodging five year-olds, I could do with a holiday."
"Ah, don't worry about it. They grow out of it In another five years."
Jason pulled a face. "Thanks. I needed that."
"What are you complaining about, anyway? I've seen your kid. He's an angel!"
"You haven't seen him after he has coke or red cordial."
"All kids are like that. My Jonathan goes hyper if he has too much sugar. Takes hours to settle him down."
Jason laughed softly as he looked out into the black night. "I still can't believe how little everything has changed."
"You're really glad to be back here, aren't you?" David asked, and Jason nodded.
"Yeah, I think I am. At first, I don't think I really wanted to leave Chicago, but now that I'm here.... I don't know. I guess in a way I wonder why I ever left."
"Oh, I can tell you that," David replied. Jason looked at him curiously.
"Because there's no police academy in Angel Grove," came the blunt reply, and Jason had to laugh.
"That's pretty much it. I think I surprised my friends as well as my parents. They all thought I was going to start teaching karate full-time."
"What changed your mind?"
Jason hesitated, then. The real truth was that after finishing up as a Power Ranger, he couldn't simply have gone back to an ordinary sort of a life. True, the rush of morphing had been strong, but that wasn't it. It was the satisfaction of being there and having a hand in stopping villains and criminals cold.
"I like helping people," Jason said finally, "and the best way I knew how was to join the police."
David nodded approvingly. He had joined for much the same reason.
"I've come to a conclusion," David announced suddenly. "You aren't half as big an asshole as I expected."
Jason stared at David, half-surprised and half-disturbed. "Really?"
David grinned. "Really. I think we're going to make pretty good partners, Jason."
Jason smiled with relief and sank back into the seat. That was some- thing he badly needed to hear, particularly since he seemed to be in an unrecoverable situation with his father.
As soon as the other men had seen that David had finally accepted Jason, they, too, gradually began to accept him. On the whole, after that turning point with David, Jason found his workplace situation much easier to cope with, and he began to enjoy working again.
*Some days later
Jason and David had just come in from a foot patrol, both tired from the humid weather that had engulfed the town. Over the last few days, the two men had become good friends, much to Michael Oliver's private relief. They were just making their way through the maze of desks when they almost literally ran into Donavon Scott, who had been there to counsel a couple of officers. David, initially unaware of the tension between Jason and his father, spoke cheerfully to the older man.
"Hey, Mr Scott. How are you doing?"
"I'm fine, David," Donavon replied, smiling warmly at the young man. "How are your kids?"
"Oh, still causing havoc as usual. Excuse me, if I don't get some water, I'm going to pass out."
He stepped past Donavon, glancing surreptitiously back over his shoulder as he got himself a glass of water. Donavon had turned to find himself face-to-face with Jason, and the smile on his face had fallen away with startling abruptness.
"Jason," he said tonelessly, acknowledging his son's presence. Jason swallowed hard, remembering Trini pleading with him to try and break through the wall that had somehow erected itself between him and his father.
"Dad... Uh, I was wondering Would you and Mum like to come around..."
"I'm sorry," Donavon said abruptly, in a tone that was unnecessarily sharp. "We don't have the time."
Jason felt his throat tighten, uncomfortably aware of the eyes that were suddenly on them.
"You didn't even let me finish...."
"I told you," Donavon snapped, "I don't have the time for you. You won't listen to me. Don't expect me to listen to you. Excuse me, Captain. I have better things to do."
He turned and stalked out of the room, leaving Jason standing there in shock and growing distress. Behind him, David spoke quietly.
"Jason? Are you all right?"
The tears filled Jason's eyes before he was even aware of it. A moment later, he turned and almost bolted from the room.
David glanced around as the murmurs of the other officers reached his ears.
"Can you believe that?"
"Turned on his own kid, for crying out loud..."
"David? Could I speak to you, please?"
It was Michael Oliver. David went reluctantly, preferring to have gone after Jason.
Michael ushered him in and shut the door.
"I didn't see or hear all of that. Please tell me that Donavon didn't just tell his own son to get lost."
"I wish I could, sir. I think Jason was just trying to invite him for dinner, or something like that. Dr Scott just told him he didn't have time for him. He called him 'captain'!"
"Yes, I heard that. I just found out recently that Donavon wasn't entirely happy with Jason joining the Police Force. I didn't realise just how acute it was, until now."
David shook his head. "I've never seen anyone treated so badly as Dr Scott just treated Jason. It... It was disgusting!"
"I know," Michael agreed. "Donavon's practically disowned Jason, and I have a strong feeling that Jason is hurting over it far more than he'd ever let on."
"Sir... If you don't mind I'd like to go and find Jason. Just to see that he's okay. He seemed pretty upset."
"Sure," Michael murmured. "And do me a favour, David. Let me know sometime today just how Jason is coping with this."
David nodded his compliance, then left the police chief's office.
Jason had fled to the precinct gym, and David arrived to find him laying into a punching bag with a ferocity that he could not remember ever seeing Jason display. He hesitated, then walked over slowly.
"How come you never said you had problems like that?"
Jason paused in beating up the punching bag. "Would you have cared?"
David sighed inwardly. "To start with? I guess not. We're supposed to support our brothers in the Force. We haven't exactly supported you in anything, have we?"
Jason ceased his attack on the punching bag and went over to sit on the edge of the boxing ring. "He never said anything when I joined up. Never said he didn't agree with it. Never said he didn't want me to be a cop."
David chewed lightly on his lower lip. "Would it have made any difference to you?"
"Probably not," Jason conceded. "I would have known, though. Maybe it wouldn't have gotten this far."
"I guess it must hurt pretty bad," David murmured, joining Jason on the edge of the ring. "I always had my father's approval That's why you asked me about that, isn't it?"
David looked sideways at Jason, starting to see him in an entirely different light. "You know, one of the reasons we all gave you such a hard time to start with was because we thought you were just one of those guys who'd had everything handed to him on a silver platter. We wanted to see how long you held on for before you buckled."
"I have not had everything handed to me," Jason growled. David nodded.
"We know now. But still, you have to admit, your life seems almost perfect. Joining the police at the age of nineteen early advancement, and one of the youngest men to reach the rank of captain. You have a beautiful wife, and an angel of a kid... A guy couldn't ask for more."
Jason stared up at the ceiling. "William developed a kidney infection at three months. We nearly lost him. Sometimes I still wake up in the middle of the night, thinking he never came through it. For a while it looked as though he was going to need a transplant. It was a miracle it was never needed. He had a good doctor... We're still thankful."
David whistled softly. "Not so picture perfect after all. Is he still sick?"
"No, thank God. The problems were fixed. He's growing up healthy now, but it was frightening for a while."
David got up slowly. "I am sorry I ever thought you had it easy. Look, stop worrying about your old man. It isn't worth it. Plus, I have the feeling that the chief is going to step into it. He's protective of all his officers. I think he's pretty pissed off that your father treated you like that."
"I just can't believe he was so cold" Jason said in distress. David clapped a hand onto his shoulder.
"C'mon, Jason. Let's go and take your mind off this. I'll let you do all the paperwork."
Jason looked up at David blankly, and then both men began to laugh, and they headed from the gym together.
Michael went to the Scott home after finishing work, to confront Donavon. He was met at the door by Sarah, and led into the family room where Donavon was working. The psychiatrist looked up, and smiled broadly at his friend.
"What can I do for you, Michael?"
Michael glanced grimly at Sarah, then back to Donavon again. "This isn't a social visit, Don. I need to say something here, and it won't be pleasant."
Donavon's smile faded. "You aren't arresting me for something, are you?"
"No. But it isn't that simple, either. Don, I don't know what the rift is that's developed between you and Jason, and ordinarily I wouldn't be concerned about it. But if you ever do to Jason again what you did to him today, I swear to God I'll bar you from entering the precinct. You had no right to treat him like that! No right at all!"
Donavon stood up, ready to meet Michael head on. "It's none of your damn business, Michael. Stay out of it!"
"It is my business when it affects the emotional well-being of one of my best officers! Damn it, Don, you're tearing that boy apart, and you're too damn blind to see it!"
"Wait a minute," Sarah protested, stepping between the two irate men.
"Will someone explain to me just what is going on here?"
"Donavon ran into Jason today in the precinct," Michael said in a voice that was tight with anger. "Jason tried to talk to him, and Donavon gave him the cold shoulder. Told him he didn't have time for him, and even had the gall to call him 'captain'!"
Sarah looked around at Donavon, horrified. "How could you do that? How could you treat your own son like that?"
Donavon sat down with a heavy thud. "So now I'm the bad guy."
Michael side-stepped Sarah and leaned across the desk. "Just tell me why you're so hell-bent on making your son's life as miserable as possible!"
"This last time..." Donavon said finally in a strained voice. "The business with the Angel of Death.... It was too much. He's been in danger before, but he's never been so close to being killed! I am so damn scared for him, that it makes me physically sick, and keeps me awake at night. I just don't know how to tell him that!"
"You think that by distancing yourself from him that you'll lessen that fear?" Michael asked. "Don, it doesn't work that way! It only makes it a hell of a lot worse. You ought to know that. You're the psychiatrist, for crying out loud!"
A weak smile touched Donavon's lips. "I guess what they say is right. Doctors are the worst patients."
Michael shook his head. "I wasn't expecting you to analyse yourself, but I find it hard to believe you're happy to alienate Jason like this. I think it's time you two saw a counselor together. Talk it through."
Tears filled Donavon's eyes, and he stared bleakly at the desktop. "You think Jason would even want to be in the same room as me? After the way I treated him today?"
"You'd be surprised," Michael murmured. "Don, please...."
Donavon nodded, finally. "All right. I will."
*Two weeks later
It was nearly four weeks since Trini, Jason and their son had returned to Angel Grove. Now, they stood outside St. Mary's Episcopal Church together with Donavon and Sarah Scott.
"Trini, will you stop fussing?" Jason asked for the third time. "William looks fine!"
Trini shot Jason a warning frown. "I just want him to look perfect. Is that too much to ask?"
Jason sighed and merely shook his head. He knew well enough when to quit. Tommy emerged from the church, striking in a pure black tuxedo.
"Where's William? Is he ready?"
"I doubt it," Jason muttered. Trini stood up straight.
"Do you want to sleep on the sofa tonight?"
Jason bit back a reply, and gently ushered William towards Tommy.
Tommy grinned and crouched down to look the nervous child in the eye.
"You ready for your big moment, kiddo?"
Rather than being off the planet, William looked very much as though he was about to be sick.
"Do I have to?"
Tommy put on a mock expression of dismay. "Have to? Will, you've got the most important job! Don't worry, squirt, you'll be fine. You'll be right next to me the whole time, okay?"
The little boy was not appeased. "But I don't wanna get married..."
Stifled laughter swept through the group, and Trini quickly moved in to sort out the latest predicament.
"What do you mean, William? You aren't getting married, honey. It's Uncle Adam and Aunt Tanya...."
"But aren't I supposed to marry the flower girl?" William asked, his voice barely more than a whisper.
It was all Trini could do not to laugh herself, and she hugged William to her.
"Oh, sweetie, who told you that?"
Jason joined Trini, and gently extricated his son from his wife.
"Listen up, tiger. You are not marrying anyone, so don't even think about it. Okay?"
William looked up at Jason hopefully. "Really?"
"I totally forbid it," Jason said firmly. "So get those ideas out of your head right now."
Relief flooded William's face, and the smile reappeared.
"Okay." He looked around. "I'm ready, Uncle Tommy."
Tommy grinned and took William's hand and led him into the church.
"Let's go then, squirt. You know, Beth is gonna be really disappointed that you aren't marrying her..."
Donavon walked over and clapped Jason lightly on the shoulder. "Nice recovery. But you may have trouble on your hands in fifteen years."
A rueful smile passed over Jason's face. "Well, Trini says he's just like me... Nah, he couldn't possibly be anymore trouble than I was."
"What do you mean 'was'?" Donavon retorted. Laughter swept across the group and they began to move into the church.
Jason looked around and was surprised to see Michael Oliver hurrying over.
Sparing Trini and apologetic smile, Michael spoke quietly to the young man. "Jason, I need to have a word with you. Now, if you wouldn't mind."
Jason nodded, then turned to Trini. "Go on in, honey. I'll join you in a minute."
"Okay," Trini conceded. "Don't take too long, though. Tanya will be here any minute."
Michael ushered Jason away from the church, and the milling people.
"I'm sorry to do this to you now But it can't wait. Jason, I'm afraid I have some bad news."
Confusion showed in Jason's eyes. "Have I done something wrong?"
"Hmm? Oh, no, of course not." He paused, then shook his head angrily. "Damn it, I hate doing this. Jason, I got a phone call just half an hour ago, from your old precinct in Chicago, from Lieutenant Harrison."
"It... About Sid Ellis. Jason, I'm afraid Sid is dead."
Jason froze on the spot, his face draining of colour. "Dead?"
"I'm sorry," Michael murmured, wondering suddenly whether it had been the right thing to tell him straight away. Jason never swayed. He stared straight ahead, speaking in a forcibly calm tone.
"You don't want to hear this. Not now"
"It wasn't an accident, was it?"
Michael groaned silently. "Damn your intuition. No. It wasn't an accident. He was shot, point blank range in the back of the head. In his own home. His wife was out at the time, with their daughter. The little girl found the body when they came back."
Jason finally moved, and he sank down onto the stones that rimmed the garden, burying his face in his hands. Michael hesitated, then placed a hand lightly on Jason's shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Jason."
"Do they know who's responsible?"
"Harrison said they had one possible suspect, but no evidence to prove it. Jason, I really am sorry. I should not have told you here. I just thought you'd want to know as soon as possible."
"He was my best friend," Jason whispered, struggling to hold back the tears. "Damn...."
"I'll give you as long as you need if you want to go to the funeral. But right now, I think we'd both better pull ourselves together. What do you say?"
Jason looked up, finally, and got slowly to his feet.
"Is everything okay?" Trini asked softly as Jason joined her.
He tried to smile; couldn't pull it off. "No Not really. Ask me later, okay?"
Concern lit up Trini's eyes, but she consented and didn't press for answers.
The ceremony was a beautiful one. Adam and Tanya were a perfect pair. Tanya was radiant in a gown of soft yellow, while Adam was equally elegant, and stunningly handsome in a black tux that matched Tommy's and Rocky's.
William, over his nerves, acted with a flourish, presenting the rings to Adam at the right time on a cushion resplendent with lace. Completing his task, he soon found his parents and flashed them a triumphant grin that was eerily reminiscent of Jason himself. Then, he was ushered back by Tommy, and out of their sight.
The minister made the wedding pronouncement, and stepped back to allow the newlywed couple to kiss. Adam, true to form, managed only a quick peck on the lips in front of the multitudes of people. Close to the front, Jason smiled faintly in amusement.
"Typical. Still too shy to kiss her properly."
Trini hit Jason lightly on the shoulder. "Oh, leave him alone. I think it's sweet. He hasn't changed at all."
The church erupted with applause, then, and Jason and Trini joined in. Trini's gaze was drawn briefly from Adam and Tanya, to her husband. For just an instant, she saw the grief in his eyes, and fear stabbed at her deep inside.
Then, it was gone and she forced her attention back to the newlyweds as they walked back down the aisle together.
As soon as the ritual photos were over with, she would find out what was bothering Jason. Soon, very soon....
Tommy looked around, and a grin lit up his face.
"Hey, Trini. William's just over there, with Rocky..."
Trini nodded. "That's okay. I have a favour to ask. I know you're busy but would you mind looking after William until the reception? I'm sorry to do that to you, but..." She trailed off, her face creased with concern.
Tommy's smile dropped like rock. "What's the matter?"
"I don't know," Trini said softly. "But look."
Tommy looked where she was indicating, and saw straight away. Jason was standing apart from the crowd, leaning against a tree, with one hand up to cover his eyes. Unease clutched at Tommy's chest. Although Jason had been away from Angel Grove for so long, some things just never changed. That was the same posture Jason had always taken when he was trying very hard not to cry.
"I'll take care of William," Tommy promised Trini. "You go and take care of Jason."
Trini smiled and threw her arms around him in a quick hug. "Thankyou. We'll see you in a few hours."
She left Tommy and hurried over to where Jason was leaning against the tree.
He let his hand drop, and she started a little at the sight of his red-rimmed eyes. He had been crying
"C'mon, honey. Let's go."
"Tommy's looking after him until the reception. Don't worry, he'll be fine. I think we need to talk. C'mon, baby."
Jason allowed himself to be led back to their car.
"Keys?" Trini asked, and Jason handed them over wordlessly. Once they were in the car, Trini spoke softly.
"What is it, Jason? Is it what Chief Oliver wanted to see you about?"
Jason shut his eyes, but it didn't stop the tears from working their way out of his eyes and down his cheeks.
"Oh god.... It isn't fair, Trini."
She glanced at him with deepening concern. "Talk to me, Jason. Tell me what's wrong!"
"Sid's dead," Jason whispered. Trini froze for just an instant, then quickly pulled over to the side of the road.
"Ambushed in his home. Shot in the back of the head. Katie found him."
"Oh my god..."
The tears came in a flood, then, and Jason slumped down in the seat, his entire body wracked with sobs. Fighting back tears of her own, Trini guided the car back onto the road and drove the rest of the way home in silence.
*Some time later
"This was a good idea," Melanie Oliver agreed as the Scotts joined them in the Olivers' home. Tommy had suggested that they join them when William had become distressed at being left behind by his mum and dad. It had settled him down significantly to be near his grandparents, and now Tommy had him upstairs playing video games.
Donavon frowned. "I don't know why Trini asked Tommy to look after William, though. I don't know why they didn't just take him with them."
"Tommy said that Jason seemed upset about something," Melanie said. "He doesn't know what was wrong, though."
Michael Oliver finally spoke up from where he sat at the table. "I might be able to shed some light on that."
When the adults turned to look at him, he went on quietly.
"When I asked to talk to Jason before the service, it was probably a mistake. I didn't judge it very well, I'm afraid. I should have just waited until Monday."
Donavon joined Michael at the table. "What is it, Mike?"
"Jason's partner in Chicago Sid Ellis He's dead. He was murdered in his own home. Shot in the back of the head."
"Oh dear God, no," Sarah whispered. Michael shook his head.
"The police over there don't even have anything to go on. The problem is, according to Jason's old lieutenant, Ellis wasn't just Jason's partner. They were best friends, almost like brothers."
"We know," Donavon murmured. "We visited them once, when William was born. It surprised me how close Sid and Jason were. Cops tend not to form such close friendships just in case something like this happens. Jason must be shattered."
"He was," Michael confirmed quietly. "I think he probably would have broken down on the spot, if not for knowing he had to be in the church for the wedding. I'd say Trini was anxious to get him away as soon as possible, to find out what was wrong. It would have been why she asked Tommy to look after William. She probably couldn't find you folks."
Sarah looked grimly at Donavon.
"Perhaps we'd better be prepared to take William with us tonight. I wouldn't be surprised if Jason and Trini don't make it to the reception."
"They'll be there," Donavon said quietly. "They've got a few hours leeway. Mike, what about funeral arrangements?"
"There'll be a police funeral for him in five days," Michael replied. "I'll give Jason official leave to attend it."
"Hell," Donavon muttered. "I think if we end up looking after William, it'll be then. Trini will want to go as well. She was fairly good friends with Sid's wife, if I remember rightly. What a mess...."
Michael drummed his fingers lightly on the table. "Don, maybe you'd better give Ian Bradley a call. Just to come in and have a chat with Jason on Monday."
"Sure," Don agreed. "I'll do that." He glanced up at the clock. "But right now, we have a wedding reception to worry about."