..........Tears flooded Jason's eyes, as the
reality of his situation was thrown back in his face, and he looked away
helplessly. Zack immediately felt regret rush through him.
by Naomi Tilley
.........."Damn.... Jason, I'm sorry.
I didn't have any right to say that."
..........Jason shuddered as he fought to
contain the sobs. "I don't want to blame anyone....." he choked
out. "I don't want to blame Tommy, 'cause it won't make any difference
anyway. I'm still going to be in this damn chair, and taking it out on
Tommy is only going to break the team up. You guys need a leader, and Tommy's
it, whether you like it or not."
..........Guilt filled Zack's face. "I'm
really sorry, Jason. I... I'm sorry....."
..........After a long moment of painful silence,
Jason reached out and lightly touched Zack's arm. "You've got to forgive
Tommy. For both our sakes."
.........."I'll try," Zack whispered.
"I will, I promise." Jason nodded. He was about to say something
else when another voice rang out.
.........."There you are!"
..........Jason and Zack looked around sharply
to see Dr Richards charge into the garden with a couple of orderlies close
behind. A frown passed over Jason's face, and he muttered; "Damn.
..........Richards strode around to face the
teen. "Damn it, Jason, I said you weren't to leave your room!"
.........."I didn't go far," Jason
protested. "I wanted to try the chair out, and you wouldn't even let
me in the room."
.........."With good reason," Richards
growled. "One, you're still at risk from pneumonia, and other illness.
Two, you could cause yourself injury without even realising it. Now, you
are going back to your room, and you aren't going to leave it again. That
..........Jason scowled as an orderly took
hold of the chair's handles and began to push it back inside. "Man,
I can't wait to get out of this place."
.........."Well, if you pull a stunt
like this again," Richards told him, "you're going to be here
longer that you'd care to think."
.........."You can't put a guard outside
my door," Jason grumbled. Richards signaled the orderly to stop, and
crouched down in front of Jason.
.........."How about this, then. For
every time you sneak out of your room, I'll keep you here an extra week.
How do you like the sound of that?"
..........Jason stared sceptically at Richards.
"You can't do that...."
.........."Oh no?" He looked up.
"David, when you've taken Jason here back to his room, head up to
administration, and have them extend his stay by a week."
..........David fought back a smirk. "Sure,
Dr Richards." Richards looked back to Jason, and had to struggle against
a grin when he saw the panicked expression on the boy's face. "Still
think I'm bluffing?"
.........."Okay," Jason agreed anxiously.
"I'll stay in the room. I promise."
.........."Good. I appreciate it."
..........Donavon was waiting in the room
when they finally came back, and he made no attempt to hide his amusement.
"So the fugitive has been apprehended."
..........Jason spared his father a glowering
look. "Very funny."
..........Donavon laughed. "Cheer up,
Jason. You'll be out of here in a month, and then you can go anywhere you
.........."Yeah," Jason muttered,
"well, if Dr Richards has his way, I'll be here for a lot longer than
..........Richards was nearly laughing by
then, as well. "Only if you insist on sneaking out of here."
..........Jason frowned as the orderlies lifted
him carefully out of the wheelchair and back into the bed. "Can't
I at least have a window open? This room is like a sauna!"
..........Richards hesitated, then nodded.
"All right. I think we can allow that." He glanced back at Jason
as he lifted one window up, a small smile on his face. "After all,
we wouldn't want you suffering from claustrophobia now, would we?"
..........Jason looked away sulkily. "Everybody's
..........Zack started to laugh as well. "Hey,
Jase, I thought you said you weren't gonna sit around and sulk!"
..........Everyone in the room, barring Jason,
burst into laughter. "What is this?" Jason snapped, rapidly losing
what little good humour he had left. "Can't everyone just leave me
..........Donavon chuckled and wiped his eyes
as he ushered Zack towards the door. "C'mon, Zack. I'll treat you
to a soda."
..........Jason watched them go, then looked
over at Richards, who remained where he was. "Well?"
.........."Don't you have other patients
to see to, or something?"
..........Richards smiled. "Yes, I do."
He headed for the door, then looked back at the teen. "Keep your chin
up, Jason. And remember, no more escapades. That is, providing you want
to go home in a month." A startled look flashed across Jason's face,
and Richards spoke quietly as he headed out the door. "I'm letting
you off the hook this time, but if you go out this door again, you'll be
doing double time. Got it?"
He left the room Jason had a chance to get a single word out.
..........The next month passed with a painful
slowness for Jason as he was counseled thoroughly on living as a paraplegic.
However, he was kept busy enough with the school work that his friends
dropped in for him to do. So much of it was there, that Jason had little
time to really think about the loss of his legs.
..........Also, to his gratification, Dr Richards
organised special sessions so he would be able to use the wheelchair properly
when he got out of the hospital.
..........The day finally arrived, though,
and Jason was almost literally jumping with enthusiasm when his parents
arrived in the morning. Smiling broadly, Sarah gave her son a hug and a
.........."From the way you're acting,
Jason, we'd be inclined to think you wanted to leave!"
.........."Just get me out of here,"
Jason begged his parents, much to their amusement. "Please...."
..........Donavon laughed. "All right.
Just be patient, and I promise you'll be out by lunchtime."
..........Richards nodded. "You'll just
have to sit tight for a while longer, Jason. I need your folks to fill
out a few forms, so you might as well stay here. It could take a little
..........Jason nodded. He was going home,
and that was all that really mattered. His parents left the room, and just
as Richards headed out, Jason called out to him. "Dr Richards?"
..........Richards looked back. "Yes,
..........A look of discomfort passed over
Jason's face. "Um.... I know I've been a pain in the neck for the
past month or so...."
.........."It's okay," Richards
reassured him, but Jason shook his head.
.........."No it isn't. Not really. I
just wanted to say thanks. I mean.... for saving my life. I'd probably
be dead by now if it wasn't for you."
..........Surprise flickered over Richards'
face, mixed with warmth, and he walked over to the bedside. "I'm just
glad we were able to save you, Jason. And just between us, you weren't
that big a pain in the neck."
..........Jason grinned. "Not after you
threatened to keep me here.." His smile faltered. "You wouldn't
really have done that.... would you?"
..........Richards grinned back at the teen
as he backed towards the door. "You'll never know now, will you?"
..........Jason shivered involuntarily as
Richards disappeared out the door. That was something he didn't want to
..........Nearly two hours later, Jason was
finally in the wheelchair and heading out of the hospital to a whole new
life. He blinked a little as they came out into the sun, and was vaguely
disconcerted to find how different everything looked.
.........."Are you all right, Jason?"
Sarah asked, seeing him frown a little. Jason nodded.
.........."Yeah... It's just.... everything
looks a lot bigger...."
..........Richards, who had walked out with
them, smiled faintly. "You're going to be looking at everything from
a completely different point of view from now on, Jason. It's going to
take a lot of getting used to."
..........Jason nodded, still frowning. The
frown increased when his parents directed him not to the family car, but
to a large, light blue van. "Where's the car?"
.........."We traded it in," Donavon
explained. "It's not much use to us now. Too difficult with the wheelchair.
This van has plenty of room, plus a few optional extras. Watch."
..........Jason watched as his father opened
the side door and released a ramp. For just an instant, something unreadable
flickered in Jason's eyes, and then it was gone. "Cool...."
..........He pushed down hard on the wheels
of the chair, and rolled up the ramp into the van. "Here," Donavon
told him, and guided the wheelchair into a space that was centered between,
and just a little bit behind the two front seats. He reached down and flipped
up a metal catch on either side, locking the chair into place so it wouldn't
..........Jason grinned. "That's great.
I don't have to get out of the chair!"
.........."That was the idea," Donavon
said. "Easier maneuvering, for all of us." He paused, then asked
quietly, "Jason, you're okay with this, aren't you? Because if you
want the old car back..."
..........Jason shook his head. "No,
it's okay, Dad. I knew there'd have to be some changes. Everything changes,
..........Donavon smiled. "Right."
..........He backed out of the van, lifted
the ramp and closed the door. A moment later he and Sarah got into the
front of the van and they were finally on their way.
.........."I can't believe I'm finally
going home," Jason said, leaning forward to watch the familiar scenery
..........Sarah smiled back at him.
.........."Yeah," Jason answered.
"Especially since, for a while there, I didn't think I was ever going
to see home again." Sarah and Donavon exchanged quick glances, neither
one replying to the remark. Jason caught their expressions, and spoke quickly.
"But it's okay now. I'm okay. Right?"
..........Donavon nodded. "That's right,
son. You're okay." Jason started to sit back when something caught
his eye, and he sat forward again quickly. "Dad, turn around, quick!"
..........Donavon glanced back at his son,
startled. "Why? What's wrong?"
.........."Nothing's wrong. Look, there's
..........A groan escaped Donavon and he shook
his head. "The first day you're out of hospital, and all you can think
of is take away food?"
.........."Please....." Jason begged.
"Hospital food is a joke, and I'm hungry!"
..........Sarah smiled broadly at her husband.
"What do you think, Donavon? Should we stop?"
Jason pressed. Donavon finally laughed. "All right. It's nearly lunchtime
anyway.. We'll go through the drive thru...."
..........Can't we stop and go in?" Jason
asked, and again, Donavon and Sarah exchanged glances, this time for a
different reason. It was Jason's first day outside the protective walls
of the hospital, where most of the patients were in wheelchairs regardless
of their condition. How would Jason manage, having people staring openly
at him, as they were likely to do....?
.........."I'm not worried if people
stare at me," Jason put in quickly, guessing their concern. "It's
gonna happen anyway. Please, I just want to get something to eat."
..........After a long moment of indecision,
Donavon nodded. "All right, Jason. We'll go in. But if you start to
.........."Yeah, yeah," Jason said
off handedly. "I know. I'll say." Donavon pulled the van around
into the carpark, and they went inside. As predicted, nearly everyone in
the place stared at Jason, either openly or surreptitiously. If he noticed
it, though, he gave no sign of discomfort. They settled into a corner,
out of the way, with Sarah pushing Jason into the table on the window side.
.........."Finally," Jason said,
rubbing his hands together eagerly, "I get to have real food..."
..........Sarah pulled a face. "This
is what you call real food?" Jason shrugged. "It's better than
hospital food. I can actually taste this."
.........."Hospital food isn't that bad,"
Donavon said reproachfully. Jason grunted.
.........."Not when it's all you're
..........A chuckle escaped Donavon as he
had to concede the point. "That's true, I suppose. But does that mean
you'll be looking forward to a home cooked meal tonight?"
..........Jason looked up sharply. "Well,
d'you think I'm gonna be doing it myself?"
..........Sarah laughed and patted her son's
hand. "Not unless we relevel the kitchen benches. Don't worry, honey.
I've got something special planned."
.........."We've made some changes around
the house, too," Donavon told him. "We've added ramps in where
there are any steps, and we've also rearranged the furniture so you can
get around easily."
..........Jason nodded wordlessly. He was
secretly embarrassed that his parents had gone to such lengths for him.
Trading in the family car, rearranging the whole house.... "Thanks."
..........Sarah reached over and grasped his
hand in her own. "Jason, anything we have to do now is very small,
compared to what we would have gone through if we'd lost you."
..........Jason looked down at the wheelchair
he was in, then back up at his parents. All of a sudden, he felt painfully
unsure. "You... You think I made the right decision?"
.........."Son," Donavon said quietly,
"we would have stood by any decision you made, but I'll always be
grateful that you chose to live."
..........A faint sigh escaped Jason. "I
was too scared not to live," he admitted softly. "Being in a
wheelchair scares me, but dying scares me even more. It was just a matter
of deciding which one frightened me more."
.........."You don't have to be frightened,"
Donavon told him. "Not now. Your mother and I will be with you all
the way, and you have your friends as well. Don't be scared now, Jason."
..........Jason managed to smile, but it did
nothing to hide the tears and the pain in his eyes. "I'm trying not
..........They spent the next several minutes
in silence, until Donavon finally spoke again. "All right. Let's go
..........It was an effort for Jason not to
cry with relief when they came around the corner, and the house came into
sight. He had been so frightened that he would not see his home again,
that the mere sight of it was almost enough to cause him to burst into
..........Sarah glanced back at him as the
van pulled into the driveway. "You're home, Jason."
..........home.... The word seemed
almost foreign to him. Rolling down the ramp from the van, he wheeled himself
slowly up another ramp onto the porch, looking around purposefully. It
seemed so long ago since the whole mess had started. Nearly three months,
he reflected. Nearly three months since he had walked out this very front
door to meet Tommy at the lookout. Nearly three months since his best friend
had tried to kill him.... Jason shut his eyes tightly for a moment, trying
to block the thoughts from his mind.
.........."Is everything okay,
..........Jason opened his eyes to find himself
looking into his mother's concerned face. He smiled reassuringly at her.
"Yeah. I'm fine."
..........Donavon reached out and opened the
front door for him. "After you, Jason."
..........Jason grinned and pushed himself
into the house. The changes were immediately obvious to Jason. In the family,
the study, the kitchen and the dining room, the furniture had all been
rearranged to accommodate the wheelchair. Jason said nothing as he went
slowly from room to room. Under any other circumstances, the change wouldn't
have bothered him, but he knew it had all been done for him, and that somehow
made him edgy.
..........In the family room, where the lounge
and recliner chairs had once sat around the television, taking up most
of the floor in a comfortable semi circle, they had been shifted so that
there was a recliner on either side of the television. The lounge chair
sat off to the side of the room, leaving plenty of space for the wheelchair
to move around and sit either in front of the television or the fireplace.
..........The study had been rearranged so
that the desk was now in the center of the floor, and the heavy, wooden
chair was gone, replaced with a light, adjustable seat. There was enough
room, Jason noted, for him to sit at the desk in his wheelchair and do
his homework, and to be able to get in and out of the room with ease.
..........The kitchen and dining room were
similar. Coming through into the dining room, though, Jason felt a twinge
of concern as he looked at the high table. "I'm going to have to get
out of this thing to sit at the table, aren't?"
..........Donavon nodded. "It looks like
it. Do you think you can manage?"
..........Jason rolled over to the nearest
chair and stared at it thoughtfully. "I think so. the question is,
can I sit on the chairs without falling off?'
..........His father chuckled, not sure just
how serious Jason was. "Well, I guess we'll see tonight, won't we?"
..........Sarah came over and put a hand lightly
on Jason's shoulder. "Do you want to see your room?"
..........Jason nodded eagerly, turned around
and rolled out of the room.
..........His room, unlike the rest of the
house, looked almost exactly as he remembered it. It was an eerie feeling,
yet strangely comforting at the same time, to see that although everything
else had been altered, his room was still the same.
.........."We left everything in here
as it was," Sarah told him. "There wasn't really any need to
change it around for the wheelchair. All we had done was to take the chair
away and get the desk lowered to suit you. If you want anything changed,
though, just say."
..........Jason shook his head. "No.
I'd like to leave my room as it is. Thanks for not changing it."
..........Donavon smiled and clapped Jason
lightly on the shoulder. "We didn't think you'd want it changed. C'mon,
Sarah. Let's leave Jason to settle back in."
..........The two adults left their son alone
in his room, carefully closing the door behind them. Jason watched them
go, then turned away and looked around slowly. Three months, was not so
long, he supposed, when thinking about people who had to spend much more
time than that in hospital. Still, it was long enough when, for a while,
he'd believed he would not see his home again.
..........Rolling the wheelchair over to the
window and looking out, he wondered if Dr Richards would have allowed him
to go home to die. you idiot, Jason thought abruptly.. you're
not going to die, so just quit it.
..........but i nearly did...
..........A shudder passed through Jason
as all the emotions that had been pent up inside him started to erupt.
Trembling with emotion, he maneuvered himself to the bed and, displaying
the practise he's had, lifted himself easily out of the chair and onto
..........Looking around, he saw a reassuringly
familiar sight. There was JJ. He reached out and picked up the stuffed
bear that sat faithfully on his pillow, and clutched it to his chest, burying
his face in the soft fur. Billy had given him the teddy bear three years
ago for his birthday, "because you're just an over grown teddy bear
..........A tearful smile flickered over the
teen's face. He'd been embarrassed at the time, much to everyone else's
amusement, but later on had given the bear pride of place on his bed. Although
he would never have admitted it to anyone else, JJ had been there ever
since, serving as something to cling to when he'd felt things start to
get on top of him.
..........Pulling his legs up onto the bed,
Jason lay down, resting his head on his pillow and hugging JJ tightly.
..........i'm home.... i'm home and i'm
safe.... He began to cry, partly relieved and partly overwrought. It
seemed almost beyond comprehension that he was really safe. Rolling over
carefully, he pressed his face into the pillows, feeling the hot tears
..........thankyou god..... thankyou whoever....
thankyou for my life.... He hugged the bear even more tightly, finally
giving in to the emotion that he had kept walled up inside him for so long.
..........Minutes or hours passed. Which it
was, he had no idea. Pushing himself up onto his elbows, he looked around
again, and felt some of the anxiety drain from his body. Then, suddenly,
a thought occurred to him and he smiled to himself.
.........."Zordon...?" he said as
loudly as he dared. "If you're listening, can you teleport me?"
..........He waited, half holding his breath.
When nothing happened, he sighed a little and maneuvered himself back into
the wheelchair. He made it halfway across the floor to the adjoining bathroom
when his world vanished in a flash of white light.
..........Jason blinked, caught off guard
by the teleportation. "I think," he muttered as he gave his head
a quick shake, "that I'm gonna have to get Billy to make me up a new
..........Zordon smiled broadly at the the
teenager. "I am sorry, Jason, but I thought it wise not to teleport
you until you were back in the wheelchair."
..........Jason laughed, realising the predicament
he would have been in if he had been teleported straight from the bed.
.........."It is very good to see you,
Jason," Zordon said firmly. "Very good indeed."
..........The boy nodded. "Same here,
Zordon. I really didn't think I was ever going to see you again."
..........Alpha shuffled forward quickly,
crossing the floor to him. "Jason, you're all right!"
..........Jason laughed softly as Alpha threw
his metal arms around him and didn't let go. "It's good to see you
..........Strange sounds were being emitted
by the little robot, and Jason realised with surprise that it was an electronic
equivalent to crying. Alpha was crying.... "Hey, it's okay,"
he said, gently withdrawing from Alpha's embrace. "I'm okay, Alpha.
Man, I never thought I'd see a robot cry...."
..........Alpha appeared embarrassed. "I
.........."We were all worried,"
Zordon intoned. "It is a great relief that you are still with us."
..........Jason grinned. "I know. Zedd
lost another one."
..........That confused Zordon visibly. "Jason....
you realise the consequence of your decision....."
.........."I know," Jason reassured
him. "Zordon, I lost my place on the team from the moment that Tommy
attacked me. From the moment he threw me over the cliff, I was finished.
That's okay. I understand. But that doesn't mean Zedd won. He ordered Tommy
to kill me. Tommy said so himself. Am I dead? I don't think so...."
..........Understanding dawned on Zordon.
"You speak the truth, Jason, but you are not entirely correct. You
did not lose your place on the team. Even though you are no longer physically
able to serve as a Power Ranger, you can still aid in the fight in various
ways. You have an intelligent mind for strategy, and that will no doubt
be needed in the near future."
..........Jason's smile broadened. "Zedd
didn't win at all. We've got a new Red Ranger, and I'm back on my feet
again...." He trailed off, then chuckled. "Well, in a manner
of speaking, anyway."
..........Zordon returned the smile. "Very
true. You are holding up very well under the circumstances."
..........Jason shrugged. "Well, I don't
think I have much of a choice. It's either this or nothing. I just appreciate
knowing that I haven't been deserted."
.........."You do not have to be concerned
about that," Zordon told him. "I will have Billy make you a new
communicator. Then, in the event of any trouble, you will be able to come
..........For the first time, Jason looked
doubtful. "Without a power coin? It's not exactly Zedd's style to
leave non rangers alone, and what if I don't have enough time to contact
you? I can't get into the Command Centre unless you teleport me...."
.........."I have a solution to that
problem," Zordon replied. "I have something for you, Jason. It
is on the south control panel."
..........Frowning a little to himself, Jason
moved over there, and quickly found what Zordon had been talking about.
A small, gold coin with the insignia of a dragon..... "This is the
Green Power Coin...." Jason said hoarsely, picking it up with trembling
fingers. "Zordon, how....?"
.........."The powers of the coin were
destroyed," Zordon replied, but the coin itself was left intact. I
have infused it with enough power to allow you to teleport here at will."
..........Jason stared at it for several seconds,
then looked back to the ancient master. "Thanks, Zordon."
.........."You are very welcome."
..........Jason hesitated then, a question
in his mind. "Zordon, do you mind if I ask you something?"
.........."No. Go ahead."
.........."Well, Zack said you were able
to show him, Trini and Kimberly what happened. On the lookout, I mean...
I was just wondering about that. You could show them in the viewing globe,
but you didn't know about it until Billy told you what had happened."
.........."That is correct," Zordon
admitted reluctantly. "The Command Centre was running automatically
when it happened. Alpha was in his sleep chamber, and I was resting. For
a reason we have not yet been able to define, nothing activated when you
were attacked, but the incident was recorded regardless."
..........Jason looked thoughtful. "Maybe
the alarms didn't go off because it was Tommy, and not one of Zedd's monsters."
.........."That may be a possibility,"
Zordon said. "Alpha, check the computers. I want the alarms to be
set to each of the rangers. Whenever they are in trouble, regardless of
whether it is Zedd's minions, I want to be aware of it."
..........Jason glanced down at the wheelchair,
then back to Zordon. "So this can never happen again, right Zordon?"
.........."Correct," Zordon replied.
"It should not have happened this time. I should have foreseen Zedd
attempting to have such a callous deed carried out...."
..........Jason rolled his eyes and groaned.
"Don' you start blaming yourself, Zordon. It wasn't anyone's fault.
You couldn't have foreseen it happening anymore than we could. Anyway,
things have turned out okay. More or less. I'm still here, Tommy doesn't
remember anything and probably never will.... Everything's worked out pretty
..........Jason grimaced. "Considering
I could have been dead by now."
..........Zordon had to concede the point.
"I am very proud of you, Jason," he said quietly, sounding much
to the teen like his own father. "You fight a much greater battle
now than any of the other rangers may ever face, and you refuse to give
..........Jason could feel his face heating
up. "There's a simple reason for that, Zordon. I'm too scared to quit
.........."That is what you believe,"
Zordon replied gently. "I can see past all your barriers, Jason. You
are one of the bravest rangers I have ever had the privilege of knowing."
..........By that time, Jason was thoroughly
embarrassed. "I'd better get home, Zordon, before my folks walk into
my room and find I'm not there."
.........."Very well," Zordon said.
"I will be watching over you, Jason." Alpha bade Jason goodbye,
and then the teen was teleported out of the Command Centre.
..........Jason landed in the centre of his
room, and took a moment to recover from the teleportation. He'd almost
forgotten how long it had been since he'd last teleported.
..........He looked down, feeling something
in his hand, and smiled when he saw the Green Dragon power coin. No power
to energize a ranger, but enough to get him out of a tight scrape if Zedd
decided to take another shot at him. Just enough to teleport to the Command
..........The thought faltered. He'd had more
than enough power to protect himself from Tommy's attack, and look where
he was now....
..........no! he thought firmly. tommy
was ready for it, and you weren't. that's why he got your power coin away
from you. you won't ever be caught off guard like that again
..........He clutched the coin in his
hand for an instant, and felt a slight, almost electric feeling through
his palm. Then, smiling to himself, he slipped the coin into his pocket
and wheeled himself out of his room.
..........That evening, Jason lay on the sofa
in the family room, in front of a small fire. His parents sat in the recliners
on either side, his father reading a book and his mother looking at a crossword
puzzle. His wheelchair was behind the sofa, out of sight, and for a little
while he could pretend that it was just an ordinary night at home with
..........He sighed softly to himself and
shut his eyes, trying not to think about the emptiness past his waist.
It was really kind of creepy, he had to admit. That was, once he took the
time to think about it. It honestly felt as though he had been cut off
halfway down. The wheelchair wasn't so bad, of course, but knowing he would
be spending the rest of his life in it....
..........Images came back to him of the day
just gone, particularly from their lunch stop over. Although he had said
nothing to his parents, he had been uncomfortable in the restaurant.
All the time they were there, he had felt people watching him, staring
at him, like he was some sort of sideshow.
..........Hadn't they ever seen a wheelchair
before? he had wanted to ask. But he had ignored it. don't let it get
to you the young woman who had been working with him in the hospital
had said. there'll always be someone who'll stare at you, no matter
where you go. don't let it bother you.
..........But it did bother him. He dreaded
to think what school would be like when he went back the next day. Would
his fellow students be accepting of him? Or would they treat him like some
kind of freak....? Worst of all, he dreaded an encounter with Bulk and
Skull. Those two had spent the better part of their student careers trying
to discredit him and his friends. They were likely to have a field day,
or several, when he showed up at school confined to a wheelchair. Bulk
had always been intimidating, and only his confidence in himself and his
abilities had staved off the countless attacks on his self esteem. They
would probably enjoy taking shots at him now, even more than Billy, who
still suffered a little under them.
..........He sighed again. He hated himself
for being afraid, but there seemed to be nothing he could do to ease the
fear. Not over his return to school, and not over his life ahead of him.
The life of a cripple....
.........."Jason, are you all right?"
Donavon asked in concern. Jason opened his eyes, and found that he'd started
crying without even realising it.
..........'Yeah," he started to say,
then trailed off. "No. Not really."
..........Donavon left his chair and moved
over to crouch down in front of his son. "What is it?"
.........."Help me to sit up?"
..........Donavon did so, helping his son
into an upright position. "Okay, Jason. Talk to us."
.........."I think it just hit me,"
Jason admitted in a trembling voice. "I'm never going to walk again.
I'm going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life...."
.........."You don't regret your decision
now, do you?" Sarah asked worriedly.
.........."No," Jason whispered.
"I don't regret having the operation.... It's just.... I'm still scared...."
.........."That's okay," Donavon
said gently. "It's okay to be scared. Your whole life has just changed,
and no one's going to expect you to adjust in an instant."
..........Jason leant forward, into his father's
embrace. "I never thought anything like this happened in Angel Grove.
It wasn't supposed to happen...."
..........Donavon sighed softly as he hugged
Jason to him, including Sarah in the embrace as well. "I can't turn
back time, but I swear to God that I'll never let anyone hurt you again.
I promise you, Jason."
..........Jason didn't reply, but continued
to cling to his parents, refusing to let go.
..........Jason awoke the next morning to
the sun shining through his window. my bedroom he thought with a
great sense of relief. my own room, in my home.... His second thought
was one of near panic when he realised it was nearly quarter past eight,
and that he should be leaving for school in approximately fifteen minutes.
Sitting up as quickly as he could, he shouted for his parents.
..........Donavon and Sarah Scott both came
running into the room, half expecting to find Jason on the floor. They
were surprised to find him sitting up in bed and looking very indignant.
"It's quarter past eight!"
..........Donavon glanced down at his watch,
then nodded. "Yes, it is. And your point is....?"
.........."Why didn't you wake me up
earlier?" Jason growled. "I'm going to be late for school!"
..........Sarah and Donavon exchanged glances,
and then Sarah spoke gently to her son. "Jason, we thought it might
be best if you wait a week or so before going back to school."
..........Jason looked crestfallen. "But
I've already missed three months...."
.........."So what's another week?"
.........."A week that I could be spending
with my friends," Jason shot back. "Please, I want to go to school.
It's not going to make it any easier for me to put it off. I can manage
..........Donavon finally gave in with a heavy
sigh. "All right. Okay. Sarah, can you cook some eggs up, or something?
I'll help Jason to get dressed."
.........."Thank you," Jason said
as his mother hurried from the room. Donavon glanced back at his son as
he got a fresh set of clothes out of the drawer.
.........."I suppose I should be able
to understand why you want to go to school so badly."
..........Jason frowned a little as he threw
back the bed covers. "I've missed three months of school. I don't
want to miss anymore, if I can help it. Can we hurry, please? I don't want
to be late."
..........Donavon chuckled and hurried to
get his son dressed.
..........Twenty minutes later, Jason felt
a mixture of anxiety and relief roll through his stomach. All of a sudden,
looking out at the school through the windscreen, leaving the safety of
the van seemed to be a very daunting prospect. The school ground was deserted,
meaning classes had started, so he was late....
.........."It's not too late to turn
around and go home," Donavon said quietly. Those words clinched it
for Jason. He had been frightened for long enough. Frightened of dying,
frightened of living in a wheelchair... Well, he was here, and it was time
to snap out of it. No matter how hard it was for him, he had to just go
ahead and do it. He would get by. He was going to survive this.
..........Swallowing hard, he spoke in a forcibly
calm voice. "Open the door, Dad. I'm going to school."
..........The corridors were eerily quiet,
but for the low murmur of sound coming from the classrooms. Trying not
to be self conscious, even though no one was around to stare at him, he
made his way down the hall and into the locker area. "Ah, hell...."
..........He came to a halt by his locker,
and stared up at the combination lock, which was just out of his reach.
How was he going to get the books he needed? Even if he could, somehow,
manage to open it, there was no way he could get to his books. Maybe, he
thought dismally, it hadn't been such a great idea not to let his father
come with him.
.........."Need a hand?" a voice
suddenly spoke behind him. Jason looked around, startled by the voice.
He was even more startled to see Bulk and Skull standing there, watching
him. They weren't staring, Jason realised with surprise, they were simply
.........."Uh... Yeah...." He moved
back, allowing Bulk step in.
.........."What's your combination?"
Bulk asked gruffly. "Right to 96, left to 138, right to 57."
Bulk opened the locker, and pulled out the books that Jason needed. "Where
d'you want these?"
.........."Just put them in the bag on
the back of this thing. Thanks." i'm actually thanking bulk for
something...? Bulk put them into the bag hanging from the back of the
chair, and Jason then maneuvered himself away from the lockers.
.........."I guess we'd better get to
..........Everyone looked up, not entirely
surprised to see Skull trip his way into the classroom, late. Miss Appleby
frowned. "I've had just about enough of you and Bulk being late. If
it happens one more time..."
..........Everyone stared in pleased surprise
as Jason entered the classroom just behind Skull. "Jason, welcome
back!" the teacher exclaimed, her face lighting up with both pleasure
and relief. Jason managed a faint smile, then spoke as Bulk followed him
into the room.
.........."Bulk and Skull were late because
they stopped to help me. I couldn't reach my locker... They got my books
..........Miss Appleby was visibly surprised,
as was everyone else in the room. "Well... I suppose.... I should
be giving them credit for being helpful then...." She was flustered,
and everyone could see it.
..........Bulk and Skull looked equally surprised;
they would have been late regardless of whether they'd stopped to help
Jason. Surely Jason had realised that... but he had still spoken up and
gotten them out of trouble.
.........."All right, boys," she
said, finally regathering her wits, "have a seat, and we'll get on
..........Bulk reached over and quickly pulled
a chair out of the way, so Jason could roll up to the desk without any
hassle. Jason spared him a grateful smile, then, pushing his own shock
and amazement to the back of his mind, he tried to concentrate on class.
..........The morning classes all went smoothly,
and Jason was gratified when no one treated him any differently than they
had before the incident. Come lunch time, Jason felt as though things were
almost back to normal, and he said as much to his friends as they sat outside
on the cool grass.
.........."Yeah," Zack replied with
a chuckle, "except, even Bulk and Skull are being nice to you. You
lied to Miss Appleby, man. They would have been late this morning anyway."
..........Jason smiled calmly, knowingly.
"That's my secret. Anyway, it's a pleasant change, for them to be
nice. I don't want to fight with them. Maybe they've decided to have a
change of heart, and quit bullying other kids. They could really have knocked
me about this morning, if they'd wanted to, but they didn't."
.........."You could be right,"
Billy conceded. "They've even been leaving me alone over the past
few months. Which I appreciate."
..........They all laughed and, for the time
being, turned their attention to their lunches. Jason ate slowly, watching
his friends out of the corner of his eye and silently wishing he could
join them on the grass. It was just one of the small pleasures he would
have to do without, he supposed with a small feeling of gloom.
..........Zack caught the wishful look on
Jason's face, half guessed what was wrong, and caught Tommy's gaze. He
made a quick motion with his hands, and Tommy got up and went to his best
friend. "C'mon, Jase."
..........Jason looked at Tommy, startled
and disconcerted. "Huh...?"
.........."Sit on the grass with us.
You want to, don't you?"
..........Doubt flickered in Jason's eyes.
"I don't think I can."
.........."Sure you can," Zack retorted.
"You can lean against the tree, can't you?"
..........The doubt changed to hope. "I
guess so. If you'll give me a hand...." Zack got up quickly and between
him and Tommy, they helped Jason carefully out of the wheelchair and onto
the grass. Jason leant back carefully against the large Oak tree, where
he was able to sit without fear of falling. "Cool..." he murmured
happily. Then; "I talked to Zordon yesterday." A sudden, uneasy
silence fell, and the rangers exchanged nervous looks, while Tommy watched
Jason curiously and with just the slightest hint of suspicion.
.........."What did he say?" Trini
asked softly, trying not to sound tense.
.........."Nothing specific," Jason
replied. "We just talked for a while. Mainly about how we beat Zedd
.........."Jase," Tommy said softly,
oblivious to the sharp looks from Billy and Zack, "I think Zedd won
..........Jason snorted in response. "If
he won, then why am I still alive?" Confused silence followed, and
Jason took full advantage of it. "Zedd wanted me killed. No compromise.
That's why he never even tried to capture me first. He just wanted me dead.
Well, I'm not, and as long as I'm alive, I can still help you guys fight
him. Zordon said that as well. I can still help out from the Command Centre."
..........Billy nodded slowly. "He contacted
me last night, and asked me to make a new communicator for you, so you
could come and go from the Command Centre freely."
..........More confusion reigned. "How
can you...?" Kimberly asked. "Rocky's got the red power coin,
and no one can get into the Command Centre without one.... unless Zordon
teleports them in himself."
.........."And if Zedd send putties to
attack you," Trini pointed out, you may not have time to contact him."
..........Jason nodded, grinning. "Yeah,
I know. That's what I said, too, but Zordon had already thought about it.
Check this out."
..........He pulled something out of his pocket
and showed it to his friends. "The green power coin....?" Tommy
whispered, staring at his old coin in wonder. Jason nodded.
.........."There's no power to energize
a ranger, but Zordon put enough into it so I could go to and from the Command
Centre as I needed."
..........Zack smiled faintly. "That's
great, Jase." He paused, then decided to change the subject. "So,
you been out solo yet?"
..........Jason pulled a face and, just for
a second, the thin scar across his lips was just that much more visible.
"No, not yet. I wasn't too worried about that yesterday. I was just
really happy to be home. Dad'll be bringing me to school and picking me
up all this week, so maybe I'll go out by myself on Saturday."
.........."Cool..." Tommy murmured.
"You had anyone ask you any dumb questions so far?"
..........A grin flickered across Jason's
face, and he glanced at Billy and Zack. "You mean as in, what's it
feel like not to have any feeling in my legs? No, not yet. I'm waiting
for it, though."
..........Trini shook her head. "I can't
believe how well you're taking this," she said.
..........Jason smiled calmly at her. "Give
me a week or two. Then I might start getting depressed. Right now, I'm
still extremely grateful that I'm alive."
.........."Don't get depressed,"
Kimberly told him anxiously. "We want you to stay happy, Jason."
..........Jason laughed out loud at that.
"Sorry, but I think that's unavoidable. I'm way too happy now as it
..........Across the grass, Billy and Zack
exchanged glances. Perhaps their shared concerns were pointless. Tommy
did seem back to normal, and Jason was not reacting badly to him
at all. Maybe it was just their frayed nerves of the past few months acting
up on them, and they had no cause for worry at all....
..........Neither one said a word, merely
keeping a watchful silence.
..........The rest of the day passed without
any trouble, and Jason was with his friends at their lockers that afternoon
when Mr Caplan, the school principal, approached. "Well," he
said humorously, "I can see that I'm going to have to add a technical
point to the 'no running in the corridors' rule."
..........Jason looked around, and grinned.
"You mean, no speeding?"
.........."Something like that. Welcome
back, Jason. I wasn't expecting you for another week or so."
..........Jason shrugged. "My folks wanted
me to stay home, but I badgered them into bringing me."
..........Mr Caplan smiled and nodded. "Well,
we're certainly glad to have you back. Do you think you could spare half
an hour or so? There's something I need to go over with you."
.........."Sure," Jason said. "Dad
won't be here for another forty minutes or so, anyway."
..........Tommy clapped Jason on the shoulder.
"We'll see you in the Youth Centre."
..........Jason smirked. "If they haven't
put a ramp in there somewhere, you'll be picking me up on the Youth Centre
..........Tommy moaned and shook his head.
"Give it up, Jase. You aren't that funny."
..........Jason chuckled to himself and followed
Mr Caplan back down the corridor.
.........."So, am I in trouble already?"
Jason joked. Mr Caplan smiled. The teen seemed to have a much stronger
sense of humour than he remembered.
.........."No, not all. I've already
said welcome back, but I have to add, personally, that I'm extremely pleased
to see you back. You had us all very worried for a while there."
..........Jason's smile faded a little. "You
knew all about what was happening?"
.........."Yes. Angel Grove isn't such
a small town, but for the most part, we knew what was happening. I think
that when we heard you were going to be all right, a lot of us went home
and... well, I'm sure you can imagine."
..........The teen nodded, understanding completely.
"Yeah, I know what you mean. I cried into my pillow yesterday afternoon
for a good half hour."
..........Mr Caplan then reached into a desk
drawer and pulled out numerous sheets of paper. "The reason I wanted
to see you was about this. When we heard that you'd be in a wheelchair,
I went to the school board and got permission to go ahead and have some
minor renovations done. Mainly, adding ramps in for easy accessibility,
and having a couple of elevators installed so you can get up to the second
floor without any hassle. The ramps have already been put in place, as
you've seen, but since you're back at school now, I thought you might like
to see the plans before anymore is done. After all, you're the one who's
going to be utilizing these facilities."
..........Jason nodded, leaning forward to
get a good look. "I didn't even think about the stairs. All my classes
today were on the ground floor, but tomorrow I've got a couple of classes
..........Mr. Caplan remained silent. He would
have said straight out that he would have the classes moved to different
rooms for Jason's convenience, but such a change would most certainly cause
embarrassment to Jason. Then again, how was he supposed to get upstairs
to his classes....?
.........."I'll figure something out,"
Jason murmured to himself. "When is all this going to be done?"
.........."This coming weekend is a long
weekend for you kids," Mr Caplan told him. "We teachers have
papers to mark. The changes will be made then. Hopefully, everything will
be fixed up by the time you come back to school on Wednesday."
..........Jason nodded again, then fell into
conversation with Mr Caplan over the plans. It was more than half an hour
later when Jason finally left the office and headed over to the Youth Centre.
He could barely contain his relief to find, on arrival, that ramps had
been added in there as well, making the place easy for him to access. At
the same time, however, he felt a surge of embarrassment that such lengths
had been taken to accommodate him.
..........Several students, plus Ernie, greeted
him as he entered, and his embarrassment soon faded. He was far more conscious
of the changes than anyone else, and once he realised that, it no longer
mattered. "Hey, Jase," Zack said as he joined them on the floor.
Tommy was on the mat with Billy, giving him a karate lesson, and for just
an instant, Jason felt a twinge of jealousy as it was reinforced that all
his years of training in the martial arts were lost.
.........."Billy's getting better,"
..........Trini smiled. "Yes, he is.
Tommy's been working out with him a fair bit lately."
..........Jason slumped back in the wheelchair
and drew in a couple of deep breaths as he felt the grief start to escalate.
no, i'm not going to get depressed. i won't let myself get upset....
.........."What did Mr Caplan want to
see you about?" Kimberly asked abruptly. She had seen Jason's expression
alter, and acted quickly to distract him.
.........."He had some plans to show
me," Jason explained, grateful for the distraction. "Just where
they're going to install a couple of elevators, and some other things.
Which is another thing... I have no idea how I'm going to get to the classes
we have tomorrow that are upstairs."
..........Zack grinned. "No sweat. Tommy
and I can carry you upstairs."
..........Jason turned a deep shade of red
at the images that brought to mind. "Seriously, Zack..."
.........."Hey, I am being serious,"
Zack retorted. "It's either that, or you can stay home. Your choice,
..........Jason moaned softly. "Great
choice. I stay home, bored out of my mind, or I come here and be embarrassed
beyond all reason."
..........Zack laughed. "Like I said.
..........Jason survived the week, although
personally he had no idea how. The embarrassment he'd suffered needing
to be carried upstairs to classes had been considerable, and he would be
extremely glad when the elevators were finally installed and in working
..........Saturday finally arrived, to his
great relief and excitement. After a week of being chauffered around by
his parents, he was looking forward to getting out by himself. Working
hard to get himself dressed quickly, he headed into the kitchen to wolf
down a quick breakfast, then headed for the door. "I'm going out for
a while," he called back to his parents. "I'll be back for lunch."
..........In the kitchen, Sarah looked over
at Donavon in concern. Donavon, however, merely smiled and shook his head.
"Let him go, Sarah. He needs to get out by himself." Sarah reluctantly
conceded without protest.
..........For the first time in three months,
Jason felt a genuine rush of contentment as he headed down the street.
So far, none of the kids at school had treated him any differently to what
they had before. The only exception was that Bulk and Skull were being
almost unnaturally nice to him.
..........A small smile flickered across Jason's
lips. What a pair, he thought. If he'd been going to get trouble from anyone,
he would have anticipated it to come from them. But, no. They had gone
completely out of their way to be nice to him. He would have taken offense,
thinking they were merely overly sympathetic to his condition, but Jason
sensed something beyond that. He didn't know what it was, but neither one
treated him like a cripple.
..........His smiled broadened. Bulk had even
offered to help Tommy carry him upstairs one day that week. Tommy had instinctively
been going to refuse, but he had gotten in first, and accepted Bulk's help
happily. He just hoped they weren't being nice to him as a charade during
..........So, he'd had no trouble so far from
his fellow students, and he could ignore the staring strangers, because
they were strangers. He'd no sooner thought that, though, when a coarse
voice reached his ears. "Hey, look, guys. It's the cripple!"
..........Jason blinked, coming back to reality,
and saw three boys blocking the way. Jeremy Fraser and his two buddies,
Brett Connor and David Reilly, stood across the width of the footpath,
and showed no sign that they intended to move. Jeremy Fraser stepped forward.
"How's it going, cripple?"
..........Jason sighed inwardly. He should
have known to expect trouble from these three.... "Do you guys mind?
I'd like to get past."
.........."As a matter of fact,"
Fraser remarked casually, "we do mind. We mind very much. Don't we,
fellas?" There was automatic agreement from his friends, and Jason
knew then that he was going to be hassled.
.........."I don't want any trouble.
I just want to get by."
..........Fraser folded his arms across his
chest, trying to look imposing. "Well, there's three of us, and you're
a cripple, so what d'you think you're gonna do about it?"
..........Jason's left hand dropped down to
rest on a material compartment he'd attached to the side of the chair.
"I don't want to fight you, Jeremy, but I think I could put up a pretty
reasonable fight if I have to."
..........Fraser hooted loudly. "Oh,
looks like I'm gonna have to teach the cripple a lesson in manners, guys."
..........He took a step towards Jason, hands
clenched into fists. Jason reacted on instinct and, before Fraser even
knew what was going on, Jason drew out a single nunchuk and whipped it
around, smacking it against Fraser's hand. The boy yelped and yanked his
hand back. Jason watched him coldly, swinging the ninja weapon with lethal
.........."My legs don't work anymore,
but my hands still work just fine. Now, if you'll excuse me, I would like
to get past!"
..........Connor and Reilly moved out of the
way, not wishing to suffer the same as their friend. Jason slipped the
nunchuk away, and continued on down the path. He'd barely gotten five metres,
though, when a pair of hands grabbed the back of the wheelchair. Then,
before Jason had a chance to do anything, the wheelchair was abruptly tilted
so far over that he lost his balance and grip, and fell out and onto the
..........Fraser appeared over Jason a second
later, looking furious. "Nobody gets away with taking a piece of me.
Especially no damn cripple."
..........Jason cringed a little and started
to push himself up when Fraser kicked him in the side. He gasped and collapsed
back to the ground, pain shooting through his ribs. Fraser was about to
lay into Jason when a familiar voice yelled out to them.
.........."Fraser! What are you doing?"
Jason looked around, and caught a glimpse of Bulk and Skull coming towards
them. Whether they had come to help, or to join the beating, Jason didn't
know. Expecting the worst, he shut his eyes and waited for the blows. They
..........Bulk reached the group, and before
Fraser and his friends could do anything, Bulk grabbed Fraser by the lapels
of his jacket and yanked him right away from Jason. "What the hell
d'you think you're doing, you little weasel?"
..........Fraser drew in a sharp breath. "I
was just... just teaching him a lesson..."
.........."And what, exactly, did he
do to you?"
..........Fraser was starting to feel worried.
.........."Was just trying to get past,"
Bulk snapped. He pushed Fraser back roughly. "Get the wheelchair and
help him up."
..........Fraser sullenly did as he was told,
and the three boys helped Jason back into the chair. Bulk nodded. "Now,
apologize." The three boys mumbled a sulky apology, and Bulk nodded
..........Fraser finally spoke up angrily.
"What are you defending him for, Bulk? We thought you were cool. He's
just a cripple...."
..........Bulk stepped forward, enraged. "Don't
you dare call him that! If I ever hear you use that word again, you won't
have to worry about the mid terms. Got it? And being cool does not mean
looking for someone less able than yourself to beat up! Now get lost!"
..........The three bullies turned and fled.
Once they were gone, Bulk and Skull turned back to Jason, who was staring
at them, completely stunned. "Are you okay, Jason?" Skull asked,
genuine concern in his voice.
..........Jason dragged himself out of the
shock he was in, and nodded slowly. "Yeah, I think so. I didn't need
that kick in the ribs, though...."
.........."Your hands look pretty badly
grazed," Bulk said, and Jason looked down to see that his hands and
forearms were indeed badly grazed.
.........."Damn... I'm gonna have a great
time getting myself home."
..........Bulk walked around behind the wheelchair
and took a firm hold of it. "C'mon. My place is just across the road,
and we've got antiseptic and bandages and stuff there. My mum can fix your
hands up." Before Jason could protest, Bulk pushed him across the
road, into his home.
..........Fifteen minutes later saw Jason
with both his hands firmly bandaged up. It was even less likely that he
would be able to get himself home, and to make things worse, it had very
abruptly started to rain. Finally, Bulk convinced Jason to stay for lunch,
and Bulk's mother had quite happily called the Scotts to let them know
where their son was.
..........After lunch, as it was still raining,
Bulk, Skull and Jason retreated into the family room of Bulk's home, where
they talked quietly. "I have to ask this," Jason said finally.
"It's gonna drive me nuts until I know. How come you guys helped me
out today? And all this past week....? I mean, relations between us have
always been pretty bad, and you could have just ignored me today."
..........Bulk nodded. "We could have,
but we didn't. You obviously needed help, so we gave it. That Jeremy Fraser
is a total moron."
.........."Yeah," Skull growled.
"The three of them against you? Fraser would never have dared try
that on his own."
.........."But what made you change your
minds about me?" Jason persisted. "I don't get it..."
..........Bulk hesitated, then quietly explained.
"After you were attacked.... When you were in the hospital, most people
seemed to know what was going on, except us. Everyone we asked avoided
the question, like they either didn't want to talk about it...."
.........."Which seemed weird,"
Skull put in, "since everyone in the school but us seemed to know
what was happening."
.........."Yeah," Bulk agreed. "Or,
they just didn't want to tell us. Probably figured we couldn't possibly
give a damn anyway, which wasn't true... Anyway, we ended up going and
asking Mr Caplan straight what was going on. We had to badger him a bit,
but then he told us that you were... That the doctors couldn't...."
..........Jason nodded. "That I was
.........."Yeah," Bulk said softly.
"He told us that, and I guess we started to feel guilty about giving
you such a hard time like we used to. Then, when news went round that you
were going to be okay, but you'd be in a wheelchair, we started thinking
things over properly. I think it took a hell of a lot of guts to make the
kind of decision you made, even if not having the operation meant dying.
I know a lot of people would rather die than risk being in a wheelchair.
I know I probably would. So when we saw you back at school this week, just
trying to get on with things the same as ever, we figured it was time to
quit giving you... and everyone else... such a hard time."
..........Jason stared at the two bys thoughtfully.
"You don't mind being associated with a cripple?"
.........."How come you call yourself
that?" Skull asked in a genuinely confused voice.
..........Jason looked at Skull in surprise.
"Well, that's what I am."
.........."No, you aren't," Bulk
said firmly. "You're not a cripple. A cripple is someone who can't
do anything for themselves. You're not a cripple."
..........Jason couldn't help but smile, then.
"Thanks. You've got no idea how much I appreciate that."
..........Bulk shrugged. "No problem.
Hey, look, it's stopped raining. You want us to push you home?"
..........Jason hesitated, then nodded. "Yeah,
sure. That'd be great."
..........Bulk and Skull both stood up, and
Bulk rubbed his hands together. "Let's get going, then."
..........That evening, Jason lay in his bed,
staring thoughtfully up at the ceiling. All up, it had been a very interesting
day. In a way, the conflict with Jeremy Fraser had been positive, because
it had given him two new friends. He smiled to himself as he replayed the
scene in his mind. They had arrived at his home, and he had offered his
bandaged right hand to them. "Peace?"
..........Bulk had grinned, and shaken the
outstretched hand. "I guess this means we're friends, now..."
..........He'd nodded, and had been both unable
and unwilling to hide his relief. "Yeah, I guess so. Thanks again,
guys. I really appreciate everything."
..........He'd invited them in for a while,
letting his parents have a glimpse of how things were changing for him.
They'd eventually left, and Jason had retreated to his bedroom to reflect
on the day's events. The door creaked open, and Jason looked around as
his father walk into the room. "In bed already?"
..........Jason smiled a little. "I'm
tired. I thought I'd go to bed early."
..........Donavon sat down carefully on the
edge of the bed. "Looks like you've found a couple of good friends
in Bulk and Skull."
..........Jason laughed. "Yeah, two of
the most unlikely candidates in the school. I was expecting trouble from
them, if anyone. I couldn't believe that they were actually standing up
.........."But you're still unsure, aren't
..........The smile faded from Jason's face
with painful abruptness. "In a way. I was in the school library yesterday,
and I checked up on some statistics. Did you know that I'm the only person
in the Angel Grove/Stone Canyon region in a wheelchair?"
.........."That upsets you?"
..........Jason shrugged. "Not directly,
but the next time I hear someone complaining that they're too tired to
walk, I'm gonna take to them with my nunchuks."
.........."Try not to let it bother you,
Jason," Donavon said quietly. "It's not worth making yourself
..........With great effort, Jason managed
to sit up a little. "But it does bother me. I don't know where I fit
in anymore. I know I've got my friends, and I've got you and Mum, and all
that, but it doesn't quite make up for it. I don't know where I belong
..........Donavon sighed softly, sympathetic
to his son's distress, but at a loss to do anything about it. "You'll
find your place, Jason. Somewhere along the line, you'll figure it out.
Just be patient and give it time."
..........Jason lay back down with a soft
thud. "I wish it'd be sooner, and not later. I hate not fitting in."
..........Donavon didn't reply to that. It
was something for which he had no solution.
Angel Grove City Centre: Monday morning
..........Jason headed slowly along the sidewalk,
trying not to look up too much. One week outside the hospital and he still
was not used to the different way that everything looked. The buildings,
especially in this area, he thought, seemed so much taller than he remembered.
Just looking up at them now was almost enough to give him vertigo.
..........He sighed softly to himself. He'd
been hoping to get together with his friends and go out somewhere. To a
movie, perhaps, or something like that. He'd been unable to contact any
of them, though. They'd all gone off to do their own things.... Tommy was
with Kim, while Trini, Billy and Zack had gone off hiking, or some such
..........Now, he was left to entertain himself
while his parents took care of business in the city. Not an easy thing
to do, he thought, when most of the shops had at least one or two steps.
..........He rolled up to an intersection,
his gaze falling on the church on the other side of the road. It was the
same church that he'd gone to as a child with his parents, but he had not
been inside the doors now for a while. He could hear faint singing coming
from inside, and knew it was the choir rehearsing. Feeling a sudden urge
to go and see, he waited for the lights, and then headed across the street.
..........It was a futile exercise, he soon
discovered. The heavy wooden doors were shut tight, and there was no ramp
that he could utilize. The church, as far as he was concerned, was beyond
his reach, in more ways than one.
..........Misery filled him, and he turned
away. He couldn't even get in to see God... What hope did he have? Fighting
back the deep sadness that was building inside him, he rolled away from
the church and back into the city centre.
.........."This is driving me crazy,"
Zack growled as he, Billy and Trini stopped to rest just off the nature
..........Trini eyed him curiously. "What
.........."Everything with Jason. He
and Tommy are just acting like nothing's wrong! It's insane!"
.........."Tommy still doesn't remember
anything," Billy muttered sullenly. "He's starting to tell us
off for sulking about it...."
..........Zack got to his feet and angrily
kicked at a stone. "Tommy puts Jason in a wheelchair, and now he's
acting all bloody high and mighty! I wish there was some way we could help
him remember. It'd take him down a notch or two, at least..."
.........."We can't say anything,"
Trini said softly, but she didn't sound so certain. "You remember
what Jason said in the hospital. If Tommy ever found out what really happened,
it would kill him for sure."
..........Zack glowered with suppressed fury.
"Maybe I don't care enough about Tommy anymore to bother with protecting
him from the truth. Maybe I want him to find out...."
.........."Forget about what it would
do to Tommy," Billy spoke up. "Think about Jason. If we told
Tommy what really happened, Jason would never forgive us. It's him that
doesn't want Tommy to know."
..........Zack sat back down with a thud.
"I know. That's the only reason I've been keeping my mouth shut. But
if Tommy puts one toe out of line from now on.... I don't care what it's
about. I'm damnwell gonna tell him, and I don't care what anyone thinks
..........Trini and Billy remained silent,
exchanging grim looks and knowing they felt exactly the same way.
..........Right at that moment, Tommy was
with Kimberly and the two were walking hand in hand along the beach. Kimberly
had long ago forgiven Tommy for injuring Jason, and felt no fear when she
was with him.
.........."It's gonna be a nice sunset,"
she commented, looking out towards the horizon.
..........Tommy didn't seem to notice.
.........."Have you been noticing something...
weird lately with Trini, Zack and Billy?"
..........Kim felt her breath catch in her
throat. "Like what?"
.........."Well.... Maybe it's just me,
but it feels like they've been giving me the cold shoulder lately. I don't
know what it is, but they're acting like I committed a major crime, or
..........Kim very nearly choked, and was
only barely able to keep her composure. "Don't be ridiculous, Tommy.
..........Tommy looked down at her, and there
was an expression on his face that Kim knew only too well. "Why is
everyone treating me like this? Trini, Zack and Billy are acting like they
hate me, and you're treating me with kid gloves.... And Jason.... Hell,
I don't even have a word for the way he's acting."
.........."He's still trying to deal
with being in a wheelchair," Kim muttered, wishing Tommy would change
the topic. "We're all still trying to cope. Give us some time, Tommy,
..........Tommy looked away, towards the horizon.
"I just can't help thinking that I've done something wrong, and I
wish people would start being honest with me."
..........no you don't, Kim thought nervously.
that's the last thing you want. "Tommy, forget it," Kim growled,
sounding more annoyed than she'd intended.
..........Tommy pulled away from her, watching
her with sudden hurt and suspicion. "Nobody's being honest with me,
not even you! I know it's not true, what you say happened on the lookout.
You're all lying to me, Jason included. Why? Why can't you tell me the
.........."We're not lying," Kim
said desperately. "Tommy, you have to trust me...."
..........Tommy scowled, and headed back up
the beach. "Nobody seems to trust me anymore, so I don't see why I
should have to trust anyone else. I'm going home. I'll see you tomorrow."
..........Kim stood helplessly, watching him
..........Tommy ignored her, continuing on
up the beach until he was out of sight.
.........."Have a good afternoon?"
Donavon asked when he and Sarah rejoined Jason.
..........Jason shrugged. "It was okay,
I guess. Not much to do, though..."
..........Sarah was surprised. "You never
had any trouble finding anything to do before..."
.........."Before I was in a wheelchair
and didn't have any trouble with steps," Jason replied abruptly, and
Sarah went red.
.........."Oh... Honey, we're sorry...."
..........A heavy sigh escaped Jason. "It's
okay. I needed some fresh air, anyway."
..........Donavon exchanged looks with his
wife, and clapped Jason lightly on the shoulder. "C'mon, son. Let's
..........Jason nodded and allowed his father
to push the wheelchair. "Good idea."
..........Jason had been home barely five
minutes when his communicator went off. Frowning a little to himself, he
went into his room and shut the door before answering it. "I'm here...."
.........."Jason, it's Kim. Can you get
to the Command Centre? I have to talk to you."
.........."Uh... Sure. I'm on my way."
..........He glanced towards the door, then
pressed the button on his communicator and teleported out.
.........."What's up?" he asked
as soon as he arrived. Kim looked nervous and fidgety, twisting at her
.........."I was just with Tommy. Jase,
he's starting to get really suspicious. He knows that we lied to him about
what happened, and he wants to know the truth... and Trini, Zack and Billy
are acting really cold towards him.... I'm getting worried about Tommy,
Jason. He's upset that they're treating him like this, and I can't explain
it to him. I don't want him getting upset and doing anything dumb, and
I just don't know what to do."
..........Jason felt a twinge of annoyance
and anger in his gut. He wasn't part of the team anymore, but they still
expected him to solve all the team's problems... "Did you tell Tommy
.........."No," Kim said in an abruptly
quiet voice. For a brief instant, she had seen something in Jason's eyes,
something strange and unfamiliar, and it unnerved her.
.........."Then it'll be okay. I'll talk
to the others. They won't say anything to Tommy. I'll make sure of it.
You don't have to worry."
..........Kim felt the unease grow. "Jase....
are you okay?"
..........oh, sure Jason thought bitterly,
ask me that now. after i've promised to fix everything... He maneuvered
away from her, angry at himself for being angry at Kim. "I guess I
feel the same as Tommy does right now. I'm just getting sick of everything...."
..........Kim walked over and crouched down
beside him. "You're starting to get depressed, aren't you?"
..........Jason suddenly had to struggle against
tears that threatened to flow. "I don't know.... I was in town today....
by myself. I couldn't do anything, or go anywhere because I couldn't get
up any steps. There was nowhere I wanted to go with a ramp that I could
use. And people kept staring at me, wherever I went. Do you know what it's
like, to have people stare at you like that? No matter what you do, or
where you go, they still stare, like I'm some kind of freak...."
..........Jason's voice had been building
in force, until he was almost shouting. The tears were starting to trickle
down his cheeks, unnoticed, until Kim reached up to gently brush them aside.
.........."You're not a freak, Jason.
Get that through your thick head right now. You are not a freak."
.........."Then what the hell am I?"
Jason whispered, staring at her in grief and pain. "I feel like I
hardly even belong to the human race anymore."
..........Kim sighed and threw her arms around
him in a warm hug. "I shouldn't have bothered you with this stuff
about Tommy. I'm sorry, Jason. We're all being pretty selfish at the moment."
..........Jason rested his chin on her shoulder
and shut his eyes. "All my life, I've had to hold up everyone else.
Whenever someone had a problem, it was always me that had to sort it out
for them. Now that I've got a problem, no one wants anything to do with
..........His voice cracked a little with
grief, and Kim felt a touch of sympathetic pain in her heart. "That's
not true, Jason. We're all here for you. We just have to get our act together.
We all love you. I mean, you've always been our big brother.... Now it's
our turn to look after you. Don't worry about talking to the others, Jason.
I'll do it. You just think about yourself for a while, okay? Don't worry
about anyone else."
..........Jason pulled back a little and regarded
her with red rimmed eyes, fighting to hide his own unease. "Thanks,
Kim. I appreciate it."
..........She smiled back and squeezed his
hand a little. "No problem."
..........That night, Jason lay in bed, staring
up at the ceiling. Despite being so tired earlier, now that he was in bed,
he was wide awake and could not sleep at all. It was all that Kimberly
had said to him, he was sure. He had thought things would be okay, but
now he knew otherwise. Regardless of their promise to him in the hospital,
Trini, Zack and Billy had not forgiven Tommy for what had happened. They
were angry at him, and that anger was getting stronger. If something was
not done very soon, things were going to get very ugly....
..........Jason shut his eyes, but still could
not sleep. He was worried most of all that someone would get hurt. Kim
had told him that Tommy was mistrustful of the others, and he could easily
guess that they were equally mistrustful of Tommy. It wasn't only Zack,
Billy, Trini and Tommy he had to worry about, either. Kim, who had forgiven
Tommy, could be caught in the middle of it, as could Rocky, who knew nothing
of the truth. If things got completely out of hand.....
..........Jason let the thought fade. He would
call Zack tomorrow morning, and sort it out once and for all. Filled with
new resolution, Jason finally managed to relax, and fall asleep.
..........Zedd watched in cold silence from
the moon palace, watched as the old Red Ranger finally slept. It was true,
his plan had worked better than he'd expected. After all, he had not expected
Tommy to succeed in killing Jason in the first place: it had only been
an effort to break up the team.
..........He had looked down on the fight
with an excitement he had not felt for a long time, especially when Tommy
had repeatedly stabbed Jason, and then thrown him over the cliff. He had
thought that would have been the end of the Red Ranger. He had been surprised
and angered when Jason had made it to the Blue Ranger's home, and to safety.
..........Now, although he knew he should
have been satisfied with what had been done to the boy, he could not let
him be. Jason may have been crippled, but he was still a danger. Dangers,
Zedd reflected, had to be disposed of. Jason was the perfect target for
destruction, and the perfect catalyst to truly break the team apart...
or fuse it together again.
..........Even as he watched the sleeping
teenager, a plan formed in Zedd's mind. Not only would he be able to use
Jason, and what had happened on the lookout, to destroy the unity of the
Power Rangers, he would be able to destroy Jason into the bargain. Another
day or so, and the boy would be at his weakest and most vulnerable state,
then it would be time to strike.
..........Smiling to himself with evil pleasure,
Zedd turned from the balcony and headed back into the castle.
Angel Grove High School
..........Jason arrived at school slightly
late the next morning, wishing he'd asked to stay home. He had a queasy
feeling in his gut that was not going away, despite his resolve to sort
out the problems the team was having. In fact, he thought dimly as he headed
towards the school building, he was starting to feel genuinely ill. He
came to a halt near the buildings, wondering whether he should forget class
and head for the sickbay, but then he remembered all that Kim had told
him just last night.
..........Zack, Billy and Trini were all still
angry at Tommy, and Tommy was fast becoming suspicious of them all. Things
were starting to spiral downwards, and Jason knew he had to sort it out
Sighing heavily to himself, he pushed down on the wheels of his chair,
and headed into the building.
..........He was not the only one who was
late to class, for Bulk and Skull were also running late, as usual. Jason
fought back a smile as he approached them.
.........."Can't you guys ever be on
time?" he asked, startling them both. "I can't get you out of
trouble now that my locker has been changed."
..........Bulk smiled, but Jason realised
he looked distinctly pale. "It's okay. We've got an excuse this time.
My grandmother had a stroke early this morning. We've been at the hospital
most of the time."
..........Jason felt a twinge of sympathy.
"I'm sorry. Is she going to be all right?"
..........Bulk looked unhappy. "The doctors
don't know yet. They said it's too early to tell. It... It's all right.
She's had a good life...."
..........Jason quickly pulled his books out
of his locker, sensing he had to get Bulk's mind of his trouble. "Try
not to be so pessimistic. I'm sure she'll be fine. C'mon, let's get to
class, before _I_ get into trouble."
..........Bulk and Skull both nodded and followed,
neither one saying a word but grateful all the same for Jason's sympathy.
..........The day passed with a painful slowness,
especially for Jason who was unable to catch up with Zack, Trini or Billy.
It was almost as though they were avoiding him, for he kept catching glimpses
of them, but they disappeared again before he could reach them.
..........Eventually he ended up sitting by
himself at a bench in the school grounds at lunch time, staring a sandwich
that he couldn't bring himself to touch. He knew his loss of appetite was
mainly due to worry, but he couldn't rid himself of worry until he'd spoken
to his friends. He was worried about Zack more than the others, for while
Billy and Trini could effectively shut Tommy out, Zack was volatile enough
to explode and tell Tommy the truth. That was what Jason was most
..........Also, though, he was still depressed
and feeling sick, and he had no one to talk to about it.... He stared bleakly
at the tabletop as his own troubles came flooding back to him with cruel
relentlessness. Now, more than ever, he felt alone, and it was a feeling
he could not shake. Loneliness was something that had always been with
him, particularly after being called to be leader of the Power Rangers
as the Red Ranger. It was worse now, though, for now wherever he looked,
people turned away from him, like he really was some freak of nature.
..........He blinked, and realised he'd started
crying without actually noticing it. He frowned and quickly wiped away
the tears, fearful that he should be seen to be crying. Even as he brushed
his hand over his eyes, though, the ridiculousness of it struck him, and
he let his hand fall back to the tabletop. No one took any notice of him
now, so why would they notice when he was crying....?
..........He shut his eyes, feeling the pain
in his chest and stomach get stronger. He was well and truly alone. Even
Tommy, who had stuck by him to begin with, seemed to be drifting away.
He might as well have been dead, for all any of them cared....
..........Jason looked up, startled by the
unexpected voice. A girl was standing there, watching him with what Jason
thought was genuine concern. She looked familiar....
..........The girl smiled just a little, and
took a step forward. "I'm Charlene. You know, on the cheerleading
..........Jason nodded, finally remembering.
He remained on guard, though, for students didn't really talk very much
to him anymore, except to throw some cruel cripple joke in his direction
that he was supposed to laugh off. Charlene hesitated, then spoke. "Mind
if I sit down? You.... You look like you could do with some company."
..........Jason finally sighed. "Sure.
Why not? It's a free country. I ought to be used to having people feel
sorry for me by now."
..........Charlene winced. "I'm not here
because I feel sorry for you. Not in the way that you're thinking. I was
feeling a little lonely, and I thought we could...."
..........Jason stared at her incredulously.
"You? Lonely? Yeah, sure. You with all your cheerleader friends, and
football playing boyfriends...."
..........An injured look passed over Charlene's
face. "You might be having a tough time of it right now, Jason Scott,
but that doesn't give you the right to insult me. I came over here because
I hate being with my so called friends. They're all a pack of airheads,
and I'm tired of being with them. I came over here because I thought that
talking to you would be better than talking to them, but I guess I was
wrong. Excuse me."
..........Jason blinked, stunned by the outburst.
"Hey, wait a second...."
..........Charlene glowered at him as she
started to turn away. "Why? So you can throw a few more insults at
..........Red crept across Jason's face. "I'm
sorry. It's just that no one talks to me very much anymore, except to use
me to illustrate their jokes. I guess it's just taking me a moment to realise
that someone actually wants to talk to me on the level."
..........A moment passed, and then Charlene
sat back down. "I suppose I can understand that. Most people think
I'm an airhead as well, because I'm on the cheerleading squad, and I hang
around with those girls. It's not true, though."
..........Jason smiled just a little. "I
guess we're both misunderstood." "Yeah," Charlene said with
a smile, "I guess so. Listen, lunch is nearly over, so how would you
like to meet me at the Youth Centre after school? I'll buy you a soda...."
..........Jason looked embarrassed. "I
thought the guy was supposed to do the asking...."
..........Charlene grinned. "I told you
I was different. Do you want to, or not?"
.........."Okay," Jason finally
consented. "I would like to."
.........."Great!" Charlene said,
jumping up again. "I'll see you after school, then!" She turned
and hurried off, leaving Jason to watch after her with a small smile on
.........."I don't even know how I ended
up on the squad," Charlene said in between mouthfuls of soda. "One
day I got a letter telling me I was accepted, and to show up for practise
the next day. I don't even remember trying out."
..........Jason smiled. "You got
.........."Yeah, that's about it,"
Charlene laughed. "I'm thinking of quitting, though. Maybe if I do,
Sean Parker will leave me alone."
.........."You mean Sean Parker, the
football team's quarterback? I thought he was your boyfriend...."
..........Charlene pulled a face. "Everyone
does. Sean started the rumour. The truth is I've never been out with him
in my life, and I have no intention of ever going out with him. The guy's
a creep. I want him to leave me alone, but he's convinced himself that
I really am his girlfriend, and he gets really mad with me when I won't
act like it."
..........Jason's hand dropped down to lightly
touch one of the compartments that held a nunchuk. "He won't bother
you while you're with me. I promise."
..........Charlene leaned forward, across
the table. "What about you? You were doing okay for a while, but now
you seem like you're getting really depressed. Is it just that you're lonely?"
..........Jason looked away from her, suddenly
embarrassed. "It's not just that. It's a whole lot of things. My friends,
mainly. They've been avoiding me a lot lately. Like they're embarrassed
to be around me."
..........Charlene felt a rush of sympathy.
"I'm sorry. I know how hard it must be. I have an uncle who's in a
..........Jason looked up at her in surprise.
.........."Uh huh. He was born with Spina
Bifida, and it was too severe for him to be able to learn to walk. He's
doing great for himself now, but not too long ago he was really struggling
to get by each day."
..........Sadness filled Jason's face. "Everyone's
around me, but I still feel like I'm totally alone. My friends are still
expecting me to solve their problems for them, but they won't hang around
to listen to me."
.........."I know what that feels like,"
Charlene murmured. "Listen, Jason, if you need to talk to someone,
to get everything out in the open, then just give me a call. Okay?"
..........Jason smiled, tears filling his
eyes at Charlene's offer. "Thanks. You've got no idea how much that
means to me."
..........Charlene smiled back, then reached
across and closed her hand lightly over Jason's. "Oh, I think I do."
..........Jason finally caught up with Zack
just outside the Youth Centre, cornering him by an Oak tree. "Run
out of places to hide?" Jason remarked dryly, and Zack felt his face
heat up with embarrassment.
.........."No... I, ah... I've just been
.........."Sure," Jason growled.
"You know you can't lie to me, Zack. You're really bad at it."
..........Zack scowled, then. "You're
a great one to give lectures on lying. You, who lied through your teeth
to get Tommy out of trouble."
..........Jason's expression darkened considerably.
"From your tone, I'd be inclined to think you wished I'd told the
.........."Yeah," Zack muttered,
"well, maybe I do wish that. Would you back off a little? I can't
..........Jason backed up and let Zack move
away from the tree. "We have to talk. Kim called me last night. She's
really worried. She said you, Billy and Trini are still angry at Tommy,
and he's getting really suspicious because you're all treating him like
..........Zack refused to look Jason in the
eye. "So? As far as I'm concerned, he is. Look, Jase, the bottom line
is that I don't trust Tommy anymore, and neither do Billy and Trini. I
think we're within our rights to feel that way..."
..........Jason regarded Zack with a look
of betrayal. "You promised me in the hospital that you wouldn't hold
anything against Tommy! You all promised me, Zack!"
..........Zack turned furiously on Jason,
then. "You were dying!" he exploded, startling Jason into moving
away a little. "We thought you were going to die! We would have said
anything to make you feel better. Don't you get it? I hate Tommy for what
he did to you, and so does Trini and Billy! I won't take anything back,
and I'm damnwell not going to try and be nice to Tommy when he nearly killed
you! So just quit it, okay? Damn it, Jase, you ought to be more angry than
all of us! Tommy put you in a wheelchair, for Christ's sake! He tried to
kill you! Have you really convinced yourself it was Scorpina and Goldar?
Is that it? Jesus, Jason...."
..........Zack trailed off, ending his tirade,
and then he saw the tears that were rolling down Jason's cheeks. Jason
stared at Zack with a look of pain on his face and in his eyes that was
.........."The only thing I'm convinced
of is that the Power Rangers are finished. You, Billy and Trini have guaranteed
that. Especially you. Unless you can find the strength to forgive Tommy,
you might as well hand the coins back to Zordon right now."
..........Zack turned away. "Don't be
.........."I'm not," Jason snapped.
"Where the hell is all the hatred coming from, Zack? And why won't
you let it go? It's done with now, and letting the team fall apart isn't
going to put me back on my feet! You've got to let it go. If you can do
that, then I think Trini and Billy will as well."
..........Zack stared up at the sky. "Yeah,
well, maybe I don't want to. Maybe I like my anger. Did you ever think
of that, Jase? Maybe I like hating Tommy, and I don't want to stop."
..........Jason shut his eyes for a long moment,
trying to gather his thoughts. It was falling apart.... Everything was
falling apart.... He opened his eyes again, looking desperately at Zack,
ready to make one last try.... and froze. Standing not fifty metres away,
watching them with eyes that were red and swollen from shedding tears,
was Tommy. "Oh.... Shit...."
..........Zack looked around in surprise,
and then a faint smile that bore nothing but malice flickered onto his
face. "Good. I hope he heard everything."
..........Jason started forward, but Tommy
turned and fled before he could get very far. For several long seconds,
Jason sat frozen, his heart beating so hard that it hurt his chest. In
that moment, the sensation of pain and nausea he'd been experiencing all
day nearly exploded. He shut his eyes tightly, struggling against it, knowing
he had to go after Tommy.
..........Finally getting it under control,
he spared Zack a final angry look.
.........."If anything happens to Tommy,
I swear to God I'll never forgive you." He then went after Tommy as
fast as he could, leaving Zack behind him.
..........Zedd watched the scene intently.
It was time to act. Turning, he signaled to Goldar to make their move.
..........Tommy ran hard and fast, not entirely
sure of where he was heading. All he knew were Zack's words, echoing repeatedly
through his mind.
..........tommy put you in a wheelchair....
he tried to kill you! He moaned, yet did not hear himself moan. It
couldn't be true, he thought desperately as he ran. And yet, he knew even
as he tried to deny it, just how true it was.
..........He skidded to a halt, falling helplessly
against a tree. He still didn't remember any of what had happened, but
in an awful way, it all started to make sense. Jason's lying about what
had happened, Kimberly's efforts to turn his thoughts to other things....
the cold treatment he'd suffered from the others.....
..........A cry of anguish escaped him, and
he thumped his fists against the rough bark of the tree in a useless gesture.
He had tried to kill Jason. His best friend.... He'd crippled his best
..........Tommy's head came up as Jason's
voice floated through the trees to him. How could he possibly face Jason
now....? He couldn't, not knowing the truth. Gulping back the sobs, he
blocked Jason's voice from his mind and fled as fast as he could.
..........Jason was almost gasping for air
as he struggled to make it over the rough, up hill slope. He wasn't even
sure now which direction Tommy had taken, and was only guessing.
..........damn zack Jason thought angrily.
if anything happens to tommy...
..........He had to stop, thoroughly exhausted
and covered in a thin layer of sweat. His stomach, just above the dead
point of his waist, was now hurting badly, and he felt as though he wanted
to throw up. His chest was also hurting....
..........Jason stiffened as a spasm of pain
swept through his upper body, a cry of pain catching in his throat. He
gasped in shock, struggling to regain his wits, when someone grabbed hold
of the wheelchair from behind and tipped it over, sending him onto the
ground with a crash. His head connected with a rock as he went down, and
so the last thing Jason saw before he lost consciousness was a huge, shadowy
figure standing over him and laughing cruelly.
..........Zack was about to head back into
the Youth Centre again when a familiar sound reached his ears. It was the
sound of laughter, harsh and grating. Goldar's laughter....
..........Fighting a surge of panic, Zack
bolted off through the park, hoping everything was okay. He caught a glimpse
of gold light through the trees and ran even harder, starting to shout
Jason's name. He broke through the trees and into the open, tripping over
something large that lay in his path.
..........He took a moment to recover from
the fall, then looked around to see what he had tripped over. His heart
skipped a beat, and he moaned miserably to himself.
..........It was Jason's wheelchair.
.........."What is it?" Kim asked
breathlessly as she teleported into the Command Centre with the other rangers.
..........Zack motioned silently to the wheelchair
that sat off to the side of the control area. Rocky took a step forward,
frowning. "Hey, isn't that Jason's chair?"
..........Zack nodded. "Yes. Goldar took
him. I didn't see, but I know it was him. We have to get him back, now."
..........Billy nodded anxiously. "Jason
has no way of defending himself against Goldar. We have to rescue him."
.........."Jason is not the only one
who needs rescuing," Zordon said grimly. "Look in the viewing
..........They turned to look, and were startled
to see Tommy at the top of the lookout, standing dangerously close to the
edge. Zack scowled. "We don't need him, Zordon."
.........."On the contrary, Zack,"
Zordon replied, "you do need him. Just as he needs you. I am aware
of your earlier exchange with Jason, and I know Tommy overheard. You, Trini
and Billy must go and talk to Tommy now, and resolve your anger before
it is too late."
.........."But what about Jason?"
Zack asked desperately. "We can't just leave him...."
.........."Rocky and Kimberly will deal
with Jason's rescue," Zordon replied. "Zack, Billy and Trini,
your anger towards Tommy is affecting your judgment. I cannot send you
into any fight until it has been properly resolved."
.........."Why?" Zack exploded.
"Why should we have to resolve anything with that murdering bastard?
Zordon, how can we trust Tommy anymore? You said when he became the White
Ranger that he could never be put under any spell again, but look what's
.........."That is not what I told you,"
Zordon corrected gently. "I said that the powers could never again
be stolen by evil forces. I understand your anger, Rangers, and your mistrust,
but the truth is that all of you are prone to falling under spells. Any
of you could have been chosen by Zedd to attack Jason. It could have been
you, Zack, that used the knife on the old Red Ranger. Unfortunately, it
was Tommy that was chosen. That was not his fault, and you all know it.
Don't you see, Rangers? Zedd probably did not expect Tommy to succeed to
the point of crippling Jason. It was merely a very effective attempt to
split the Power Rangers up, and right at this moment, you are letting Zedd
.........."But he misused the power,"
Zack argued weakly. Zordon shook his head.
.........."No, Zack. Although I am sure
Zedd would have liked Tommy to corrupt the power by attacking another ranger,
Tommy was in control of himself enough to leave his morpher behind. When
he attacked Jason, as horrendous as it was, he did not use the Power in
any way. Therefore, once the spell was broken, I could not justly remove
the powers of the White Ranger from Tommy."
..........Zack fell silent, miserable and
defeated. He had no arguments left against Tommy, and all that remained
was a deep hurt in his heart and soul. Billy and Trini, who had remained
silent throughout the exchange, also looked beaten, as they realised how
misguided their anger had been.
.........."Hang on a second here,"
Rocky interrupted. "What is going on? Can someone please explain it
..........Kim put her hand on his shoulder.
"No time, Rocky. We have to rescue Jason."
..........Zack looked miserable, but finally
consented. "Okay. I'll go talk to Tommy. I don't think it'll do any
..........Zordon nodded, and a moment later,
the rangers all teleported out to the different destinations.
..........Tommy stood at the very edge of
the lookout, staring numbly down at the rocks below. He had pushed Jason
off this very cliff, not four months ago, putting an end to everything
Jason had previously known. It had been him, and not Goldar.....
..........He gave a muffled sob, and collapsed
to his knees, wracked with despair.
..........please god forgive me
..........He looked up again, through
a thin film of tears. There was no way he could possibly face Jason again,
nor could he live with the knowledge of what he'd tried to do.... what
he had done..... Which left just one choice open to him....
..........He buried his face in his hands,
..........Goldar smirked cruelly to himself
as he dumped Jason's body roughly on the ledge. For once he didn't have
to worry about chains. With Jason being crippled, all he needed to do was
put him on a ledge that was surrounded by a seemingly bottomless chasm.
The gap was too wide even for the Rangers to jump, for the ceiling of the
cavern was relatively low. If they tried jumping to the ledge, they would
only hit the ceiling instead...
..........He laughed to himself. By the time
Billy worked out the exact co ordinates to teleport onto the ledge itself,
it would be too late. Even if he was rescued, it would make little difference.
Jason would continue to suffer the agony of self doubt until it destroyed
him completely. And what hope did a cripple have for gaining any self confidence?
For that was the only way to survive Zedd's attack....
..........Goldar laughed cruelly. That was
not likely to happen while Jason was trapped on a rock ledge and completely
incapable of helping himself. He looked down at Jason's communicator, which
he held in his hand. A moment later, he closed his fist around it, crushing
the metal in a single motion. Still laughing, he then dropped it onto the
ledge beside Jason, then vanished in a flash of gold light to finish his
..........Tommy saw the flash of gold light
behind him, but did not bother to turn around, even when Goldar came up
to stand close behind him.
.........."Now you know the truth, you
pathetic human," Goldar rasped. "I am not reponsible for the
attack on Jason. You are."
..........Tommy shut his eyes, wishing uselessly
to shut out Goldar's voice. "Leave me alone," he said in a dull
voice. Goldar chuckled.
.........."And miss the event of your
death? I don't think so, Tommy. I've been waiting for this for a long time."
..........Tommy looked back at Goldar, then.
"What makes you think I'm going to kill myself, furface?"
..........Goldar towered over Tommy, smiling
evilly. "What other choice do you have, Green Ranger?"
.........."I'm not the Green Ranger,"
Tommy whispered hoarsely. "I'm the White Ranger...."
.........."You began as the evil Green
Ranger," Goldar growled, "and that is who you will always be,
even if you refuse to admit it. You know it's true, Tommy. If you were
completely purged of evil, you would not have tried to kill Jason."
..........Tommy got slowly to his feet. "I
don't remember any of it. How can I believe I did something that I can't
..........Goldar took a step backwards, chuckling
softly. "You want to know what you did? Look, then."
..........Tommy watched as Goldar made a circle
in the air with his sword, and a moment later there was a crackle of light,
and Tommy found himself watching a terrible scene that had played itself
out long ago.
.........."No...." Tommy whispered,
stricken. "Oh, god, no....." Goldar laughed evilly as Tommy watched
the replay of the awful scene in horrified silence. This, surely, would
be enough to drive the teenager over the edge of despair......
..........Tommy finally dragged his gaze away
just before watching the image of himself pushing Jason over the edge of
the cliff. It was too late, though. The vision had finally broken down
the walls that had so firmly enclosed Tommy's memories of the incident,
and everything came flooding back to him in terrible detail.
..........A scream of anguish filled the air
as Tommy fell to his knees again, both hands pressed to the sides of his
head. His mind was awash with memories that he'd had no wish to recall,
from his taking Jason's morpher, to stabbing Jason repeatedly, to pushing
him over the edge....
.........."No!" Tommy howled, collapsing
completely onto the grass. "No...." Goldar laughed triumphantly.
"Yes! You know the truth, Tommy, and you know what you have to do.
Do you honestly believe anyone would trust you to be near them now? The
other Rangers have rejected you already, haven't they? Why don't you finish
it now? Jump, Tommy. It's the only choice you have left."
..........Tommy looked up slowly. He knew
Goldar was right, even though he could not bring himself to admit it. It
was not because of the rejection, though. It was because of Jason. He had
nearly taken Jason's life from him, and although he could not give back
what he'd taken, perhaps he could avenge Jason in some small way.... Perhaps....
..........He got up painfully, and turned
towards the edge of the cliff. Just a few seconds of fear, and then it
would be over. Just a few seconds...
.........."I owe it to Jason..."
Tommy whispered to himself. "I owe it to him...."
..........Tears rolling down his cheeks, he
looked down at the rocks below. "I'm sorry, Jase. I'm so sorry...."
..........Drawing in a deep, final breath,
Tommy lifted his foot, and stepped over the edge of the cliff.
..........Jason awoke slowly, his head throbbing
painfully. The pain was the first thing he became aware of, and he lay
still for several seconds, wishing it would go away. It soon became obvious
that that was not going to happen. Moaning faintly to himself, he pushed
himself up onto his elbows and looked around. He was surrounded by darkness,
the kind that seemed to swallow everything up. It took his eyes nearly
a minute to adjust to the dark, and when they did, he felt the panic finally
..........He was on a ledge, extremely narrow
with little room to move about, and surrounding the ledge on all sides
was a seemingly bottomless drop. Nausea rolled through Jason's gut, and
he pushed himself back against the rock wall, as far as he could.
..........After a long while, as he fought
the panic back down, he began to remember what had happened. He'd been
going after Tommy, when there'd been a sharp pain through his body. Then,
someone had tipped him out of his chair....
..........c'mon he told himself tensely.
stay cool. you can get out of here...
..........He reached for his communicator,
only to find it was no longer on his wrist. Looking around, he soon found
what was left of it on the ledge close to his feet.
.........."Man..." Jason muttered
dismally. He couldn't even get himself out of trouble without help...
..........He cringed as another shard of pain
stabbed through his body, and he slumped down on the ledge, feeling worse
than he had for a long time.
..........Tommy shut his eyes, feeling the
wind hit his face as he stepped off the cliff. He started to fall... and
.........."What...?" he gasped,
and looked up to see Zack there, hanging over the edge of the cliff and
holding on tightly to his wrist. There were mixed emotions on the Black
Ranger's face, and the predominant one was grief.
.........."No, you don't, Tommy..."
Zack muttered breathlessly. "Damn it, you aren't gonna give up on
..........Tommy tried to twist around, but
Zack held him tightly, refusing to let go. Then, slowly, Zack began to
pull him back up to the safety of solid ground.
..........Once he was safe, Zack finally exploded.
"Are you out of your damned mind!? What the hell are you gonna solve
by killing yourself?"
..........Tommy stared up at Zack with mixed
anger and grief. "What do you care? I heard you talking to Jason.
You wish it had been me, instead of Jase."
..........Zack stood up, brushing his hands
on his jeans. "I did wish that," he admitted, "but I was
wrong. We all were."
..........Tommy looked away from them. "It
wasn't Goldar at all," he whispered, stricken. "Goldar had nothing
to do with it. It was me. I did it..."
.........."You were under a spell,"
Trini told him. "You didn't know what you were doing. Jason forgave
you for it, and now, so do we."
..........The White Ranger buried his face
in his arms. "I don't think I can forgive myself. Look at what I did
..........Zack hesitated, then sat down next
to Tommy on the grass. "You overheard everything, didn't you?"
.........."Pretty much," Tommy replied,
his voice muffled. "I still didn't remember it, though. Then Goldar
showed up. He showed it to me... and now I can't forget it!"
.........."It's over with," Billy
said in a quiet, but sure voice. "You have to get past it. We all
..........Tommy looked up at them all with
haunted eyes. "That's impossible, and you all know it. I went too
far this time..."
.........."Nothing is impossible,"
Zack snapped. "Lesson number one, Tommy. Nothing! If Jason can forgive
you and get past it, then so can we. And you sure as hell can forgive yourself.
I was screwed up bad for a while, there. I thought we'd be better off without
you. Then, Zordon knocked some sense into me. It's not true, Tommy. We
do need you! And you need us! Don't you get it, man? We're a team! Zordon
was right. Zedd probably didn't expect you to hurt Jason as badly as you
did. He probably only did the whole thing to try and break the team up.
We can't let that happen! We... we just can't!"
.........."How can you trust me?"
Tommy demanded to know, stricken. "After everything that's happened,
how can you ever trust me again?"
.........."I think we can trust you,"
Trini told him softly. "Isn't that the test of true friends? When
bad things happen, that we can still hold our heads high, and still have
faith in each other." She paused for a moment, realising the powerful
truth of what she was saying, and fresh tears pricked at her eyes. "You'd
never deliberately hurt any of us unless there was an outside influence
that you can't fight. We should have known that to begin with, but we let
our anger get a hold of us. That wasn't right, and it was against everything
we've ever learnt. We all need each other, Tommy. If we let this break
us up, then we all deserve to lose the power, every one of us."
..........Tommy looked up to the sky, tears
almost blinding him. "I can't face Jason. I can't look at him, and
know that I was the one who did it to him."
.........."We'll get past that later,"
Billy said quietly. "What's important is that we can forgive you.
I... I think we have."
..........Tommy shook his head. "I am
so sorry...." he whispered, a fresh wave of tears flooding his eyes.
A long moment passed, and then Trini crouched down and put her arms around
Tommy in a warm embrace, letting tears fill her own eyes. A moment later,
Zack and Billy joined them, letting the last of their anger and hatred
finally wash away.
..........Kim and Rocky teleported into the
Dark Dimension, and narrowly avoided falling into the chasm.
.........."Wow..." Rocky breathed
as he peered into the gloom, "what a hole..."
..........Kim grabbed the Red Ranger's arm.
"Look, there's Jason. Out there, on that ledge."
..........Rocky looked up, and saw Jason after
a long moment, lying still on the ledge.
.........."Jason!" Kim called out,
but the old Red Ranger didn't move. Kim looked at Rocky, suddenly frightened.
"We have to get to him."
.........."How?" Rocky asked, at
a loss. "We can't jump that far. Not with the ceiling of the cave
being as low as it is."
.........."We need Billy," Kim muttered.
"He's got the cable and grappling hook."
..........She was about to call for help,
when several flashes of light heralded the arrival of a putty patrol and
.........."Great," she moaned, readying
..........Rocky shook his head and sighed
comically. "Back to action...."
.........."C'mon, Tommy," Zack said.
"We have to get back to the Command Centre."
..........Despite his grief, Tommy did not
miss the urgency in the Black Ranger's voice. "What's wrong?"
.........."It's Jason. He was taken by
Goldar. Kim and Rocky went to rescue him, but I've got a feeling they're
gonna need help."
..........Tommy got quickly to his feet, fear
for his friend overriding his own self recriminations. "What does
Zedd want with Jason? Isn't the wheelchair enough?"
..........Zack shrugged. "Who knows?
Goldar took him, though, and we have to get him back. Now, let's go."
..........Zordon nodded approvingly when the
four rangers teleported back into the Command Centre. "Very good,
rangers," he intoned. "You have dealt with your doubts and anger
..........The rangers exchanged weary glances
at Zordon's familiar old 'congratulations, you've passed the test!' tone
of voice, and Billy spoke tensely. "Let us have the coordinates, Zordon.
We're going to get Jason back."
.........."Very well," Zordon replied.
A moment later, all four teleported out, leaving Zordon to stare at the
place where they had stood only seconds before.
.........."Good luck," he murmured
softly, "and may the Power protect you..."
.........."Need some help?"
..........Rocky looked around breathlessly,
and the relief could almost be seen through his helmet. "It's about
damned time!" he retorted as the other rangers joined the fight. "What
.........."Just some loose ends to tie
up," Zack replied. Rocky chuckled a little, although he wasn't sure
why, and launched himself back into the fight with renewed vigor.
.........."Good to see you back,"
Kimberly said to Tommy as he joined her on the far side of the cavern to
send a few putties on their way. Tommy nodded once, and she fancied she
could see him smiling at her.
..........With the arrival of reinforcements,
the Power Rangers soon defeated all the putties, leaving only Goldar.
.........."You're beaten again, Goldar!"
Tommy shouted as the rangers closed in on the over grown ape. Goldar sneered
.........."You should have killed yourself
when you had the chance, Green Ranger."
..........Tommy faltered, and then Zack stepped
forward with fresh anger. "He's not the Green Ranger, anymore, Goldar,
and Zedd doesn't have any power over him! The past is finished, and this
is now! And now, you've gotta deal with us..."
..........Goldar moved away even as they advanced.
"Go ahead, rangers," he growled. "Take the old Red Ranger.
It's probably too late for him now, anyway."
..........The rangers faltered at that. "What
are you talking about?" Rocky demanded, and Goldar laughed.
.........."Look and see, you pathetic
..........They turned, and Goldar took the
chance and vanished in a burst of flame.
.........."What is it?" Rocky asked
as they all moved to the edge of the chasm. Billy shook his head.
.........."I don't know, but Zedd must
have done something to him. Let's just get him out of here, and then we'll
figure out what's happening."
.........."We'll need your cable, Billy,"
Kimberly said. "We can't jump that far."
..........Billy nodded and brought out the
thin line, with the electronic hook mechanism. Aiming carefully, he fired
it so it attached itself to the wall behind Jason, and then attached the
other end to the wall behind them.
.........."That ledge only has enough
room for one person," Zack said. "Tommy, you go."
..........Tommy hesitated, then nodded.
..........Taking the hand grips from Billy,
Tommy launched himself from the edge of the chasm and, seconds later, landed
on the ledge beside Jason. He dropped to his knees as Billy detached the
cable, and gently rolled his friend over.
.........."Jason? C'mon, buddy, wake
..........Jason stirred finally, and opened
his eyes to find his vision was hopelessly blurred. He recognised the voice,
though, and his relief was obvious.
.........."Tommy...? Good, you didn't
do anything stupid..." Tommy cringed a little, then carefully pulled
Jason up and rested him against the rock wall. "Hang on, Jase. We'll
be out of this place soon." He looked around, and called out to the
others. "I'll teleport us out now!"
..........His voice echoed loudly in the cavern,
and the reverberations caused some gravel to fall from the ceiling just
above them. Tommy glanced around uneasily, then slipped one arm around
Jason, and reached for his communicator. He pressed the button, but nothing
.........."What the hell...?" he
muttered under his breath. "Billy, what's going on? We aren't teleporting!"
..........More gravel fell.
..........On the other side of the chasm,
Billy spoke out just as loudly. "There's no reason that I can think
of why it wouldn't work. Unless the ledge is surrounded by some sort of
..........Trini grabbed hold of Billy's arm
in a vice like grip. "Quiet!" she whispered. "Billy, I don't
think this place is too stable. A lot of noise could cause anything to
..........Billy looked around, suddenly nervous.
A moment later, he spoke into his communicator in a low whisper. "Tommy,
do you read me?"
.........."Yeah," came the reply,
along with a lot of static. Billy grimaced. "I think you and Jason
are surrounded by some sort of magnetic force. It's causing enough interference
that you can't teleport out. We'll have to get back to the Command Centre
and do it from there."
.........."Can you do it?" Tommy
asked, and he also sounded distinctly nervous.
.........."Yes," Billy replied,
"but it may take a few minutes." "Well, it's the only way
we're gonna get out of here," Tommy said grimly. "You'd better
..........Billy looked around at his friends.
.........."I'll stay here," Kimberly
said firmly. Zack nodded. "So will I. Just in case you get back there,
and can't get through to Tommy on the communicator."
..........Billy nodded. "All right. You'd
better warn him about the instability of the area." He looked at Trini
and Rocky. "Let's go."
..........They teleported out in a flash of
light, and a moment later, Tommy's voice came over the communicator, sounding
indignant. "What are you two still doing here? Get back to the Command
.........."Tommy, quiet!" Zack hissed.
"This place isn't stable! Too much noise would be like an avalanche
..........There was a long silence, and then
Tommy's voice could be heard again, this time in just a whisper. "All
the more reason for you to get out of here. It's too dangerous!"
.........."Ah, shut up," Zack growled.
"You might still be feeling guilty, but that doesn't mean we're gonna
let take all the risks."
..........On the ledge, Tommy blinked in surprise,
left at a momentary loss. Then, Jason moaned softly, and his attention
was diverted again.
.........."You okay, buddy?" Tommy
asked softly. Jason opened his eyes again, but still couldn't focus his
.........."Can't see too good..."
he mumbled. Tommy watched his friend in concern.
.........."Just hang on. We're gonna
get you out of here real soon."
.........."How's it going?" Rocky
asked nervously. When Billy didn't respond, he looked over at Trini. The
Yellow Ranger, however, could only shrug wordlessly. Rocky sighed and fell
back, frustrated that he could do no more than wait. It was bad enough
that something was going on between the other rangers and Jason that he
couldn't get in on, but to be left hanging and not be able to do anything....
.........."I've got them!" Billy
shouted suddenly. "Just a minute while I put in the coordinates..."
..........Tommy stiffened as the ground beneath
his feet began to tremble. "What's happening...?" he gasped,
trying to keep his balance.
.........."Earthquake!" Zack's voice
came over the communicator, laced with panic. "Tommy, hang on! This
place is about to go!"
.........."Get out of here!" Tommy
shouted into the communicator, throwing aside regard for the place's stability.
"Zack, get Kim out of here!"
.........."Not without you and Jason!"
Zack yelled back. A sudden roar deafened them, and the ground began to
fall in on itself, creating a terrifying gap. Zack threw himself at Kimberly,
and the two crashed to the ground on the far side of the cavern just as
the rocky ground literally disappeared from sight.
.........."Get out of here!" Tommy
screamed again as he tried to shield Jason from the falling rocks with
..........Zack could no longer argue, and,
grabbing Kim's wrist, teleported out. Tommy had little time to feel relief,
though, for the ledge itself began to crumble beneath them.
..........we're both gonna die this time
he thought numbly. "Jase, if I never get another chance... I'm sorry...."
Jason reached up and grabbed Tommy's arm. "I already forgave you."
Tommy found Jason's hand and grasped it tightly, shut his eyes, and waited
for death to come and take them.
.........."Now!" Billy shouted,
and they all looked and waited in tense and fearful silence.
..........The ground vanished from beneath
them, and Tommy felt himself fall, the wind hitting him hard.
so this is what it felt like for jason he thought distantly. He
sensed someone with him, and saw Jason, still holding on to his hand. Tommy
tightened his grip.
..........if we're gonna die, then we'll
die together The bottom of the chasm came into sight, and Tommy shut
his eyes, anticipating the impact. It seemed to last an infinitely long
time, and he opened his eyes to see the bottom rushing towards him. He
felt the panic finally hit... and then their world vanished in a flash
of white light.
..........Tommy rematerialized in the Command
Centre, and gasped in shock and dull pain as Jason landed squarely on top
of him. "Get off me..." he spluttered.
..........Jason grunted loudly. "Shut
up. I can't move, you idiot."
..........Zack and Rocky stepped in, and pulled
Jason carefully Tommy, and helped him back into the wheelchair, and Kim
and Billy helped Tommy up.
.........."Are you guys okay?" Trini
..........Tommy pulled his helmet off. "That
couldn't have been closer if we'd tried. Man, I thought we were done for..."
..........Jason couldn't resist a grin. "Hey,
Tommy, thanks for cushioning my fall."
..........Tommy pulled a face. "Yeah,
sure. Any time."
..........Jason snickered, then, unable to
help it. A moment later, he burst into laughter, the first real laugh he'd
given for a long while.
.........."You're nuts," Zack muttered,
fighting back a grin himself. "You almost get killed again..."
He trailed off, and a heavy silence suddenly descended over the group.
..........Jason shook his head. "Jeez,
will you all get over that already? It's done with!"
..........A long silence prevailed, and then
Trini smiled. "That's right," she agreed. "It is. And we
just beat Zedd again..."
..........Realisation finally hit them that
they'd all come through safe, and they all finally began to laugh, enjoying
the moment of victory.
..........Jason hesitated for just a moment
in joining in. Not so long ago, he'd felt alienated by his friends, and
pretty worthless all round. Now, as strange as it was, in the space of
just a few seconds, he'd had all his doubts and fears eliminated. He watched
with satisfaction as the friends all embraced in a group hug, and knew
everything would be all right.
..........Trini broke away from the group
and stepped across the floor, leaning down to throw her arms around Jason
in a tight hug.
.........."Everything's going to be fine,"
she whispered into his ear. "I know it will."
..........Jason hugged her back, and smiled
as the others gathered around him. The pain that had plagued him for the
past few days finally vanished, and he knew for sure, then, that his worst
troubles were finally over.
Epilogue One week later, at Ernie's Juice Bar
.........."You really would have been
stupid enough to do it, huh?" Jason retorted as the friends all crowded
around a table in the Juice Bar.
..........Tommy blushed a deep red. "I
wasn't thinking straight. Besides, you didn't do me any favours by not
telling me the truth."
.........."That's true," Billy remarked.
"We might have gotten past it a little quicker if you hadn't made
us promise not to talk about it, or tell Tommy the truth."
..........It was Jason's turn to blush. "Look,
I think we all were a little bit at fault. I admit I expected too much
of you guys, and it just built up to breaking point."
..........Kim pulled a face. "What about
those of us peacemakers? I'm trying to keep the peace while the rest of
you bite each others' heads off! Zedd must have been having a field day!"
..........Jason stared thoughtfully at the
new communicator that Billy had made for him. "We've gotta remember
to stick together. We can't ever let Zedd get the advantage over us again
like he did this time."
.........."Agreed," Zack said quietly.
He looked over at Tommy. "I've gotta say it again. I'm sorry, man..."
.........."Forget it," Tommy murmured.
"It wasn't your fault. I was the one who screwed up."
.........."No, man," Zack argued.
"It wasn't you. We should've known that..."
.........."Shut up!" Jason interrupted,
throwing his hands up over his face in a comical gesture. "C'mon,
enough already! You're gonna give each other a complex! It was Zedd's fault,
and nobody else's, okay? Can we leave it at that? Huh, guys?"
..........The others stared at one another
for a long moment, then burst out laughing.
.........."Oh boy, we need to laugh,"
Zack said wiping his eyes a few minutes later.
..........Trini nodded. "We've spent
too much time feeling sorry for ourselves."
.........."Especially me," Jason
remarked. "It's time I quit sulking and got on things."
.........."Such as?" Billy asked
..........Jason smiled knowingly. "Well,
a couple of things have been happening. I was out on the school track last
night just doing a few laps, and it turned out Coach Schmidt was watching
me. He called me over and asked if I'd be willing to start training for
.........."You're joining the track team?"
Zack asked in surprise.
..........Jason shrugged. "Sort of. It's
more like I'm starting a new team, 'cept at the moment, I'm the only one
in it. It's for the Regional Disabled Track and Field Athletics. Coach
Schmidt thinks I'm fast enough to have a good chance."
.........."That's great!" Tommy
.........."Yeah," Kim agreed, reaching
across to hug Jason. "We knew you were fast in that thing."
.........."So what's the other thing
that's happened?" Billy asked.
..........Jason hesitated a moment, then.
"Before I tell you, I want you to promise me you won't get upset."
..........The friends exchanged wary looks.
"Jase...?" Zack growled.
..........Jason sighed softly. "Okay.
You remember that Mr Caplan wanted to see me a couple of days ago, after
school? It was about the class camp."
..........Tommy frowned. "The one in
.........."Yeah. He got a call from the
camp owners. They, um... they didn't want me attending the camp. Said they
weren't equipped to deal with me, and their insurance wouldn't cover it
if there was an accident."
.........."That's not fair!" Trini
..........There was an outburst of protest
from all of them, until Jason held up his hands, silencing them. "I
told you not to get upset. It can't be helped. The owners threatened to
pull the entire booking if they didn't drop me from the camp. It's not
fair for everyone to miss out, so I told Mr Caplan to just do as they asked."
.........."It's not fair," Zack
growled. "I wouldn't want to go to a place like that anyway, if they're
gonna treat you like that."
.........."Yes," Billy said. "That's
discrimination, Jason. They have no right to do that."
..........Jason pulled a face. "Hang
on a minute. Can you let me finish? Thank you. Now, I admit I was pretty
upset at the time. I went home and told Mum and Dad about it, and they
almost went nuts on me. Dad was going on about suing the place, and all
of that, and he even called the family lawyer."
.........."And?" Kim pressed.
.........."And, our lawyer told Dad that
instead of going to court and costing himself time, money and effort, and
putting me through the legal wringer, he ought look into sending me to
a different camp, one that caters to people like me."
.........."A camp for the disabled?"
Trini asked curiously.
..........Jason nodded. "Yeah. He sent
Dad a pamphlet. Check this out."
..........Jason tossed a pamphlet onto the
table, and Tommy reached out and picked it up. "Outreach?"
.........."Yeah. It's a camp that's run
five times a year, at different locations so more people can come along.
It's for kids, teenagers and young adults with all different types of disabilities,
both physical and mental. Dad and Mum talked it over with me, and I said
I'd like to go, so Dad sent in the application form a couple of days ago."
.........."When is it?" Zack asked.
..........A smirk formed on Jason's face.
"The same week you guys go up to the mountains. Only, Outreach is
a two week camp, so while you guys get out of school for four days, I'll
get out of it for fourteen!"
..........The others all looked at one another,
and then groaned loudly and threw their napkins at Jason. "Typical,"
Zack moaned. "You get all the luck...."
..........Jason grinned. "I hope so."
.........."So everything's cool now."
..........Tommy shrugged as he walked alongside
Jason through the park. "I guess. I don't think we'll ever really
get over it, but the team's back together."
..........Jason slowed to a halt. "I
never blamed you, Tommy. Even when Dr Richards told me I was going to die,
I was never angry at you. I know I shouldn't have hid it from you, but
I wanted to spare you from it. After everything that happened when Rita
made you into the Green Ranger, I didn't want you to go through that guilt
..........Tommy nodded slowly. "I understand,
but don't do it again, Jase. We've gotta be open with each other. It's
the only way the team'll stay together."
..........Jason grimaced. "Yeah, well,
that may not be for too long. Didn't you hear about the Peace Conference
..........Tommy hesitated, then nodded. "Yeah...
Mr Caplan came in to our Biology class today and told us about it. They're
gonna be selecting two students from our school to attend. You think it
might be two of the team?"
..........Jason shrugged. "Could be.
They said it'd be someone with constant good grades, who hadn't ever been
in trouble. I reckon Billy would be at the top of the list."
..........Tommy looked uneasy. "Great.
We just get past this, and now we might get broken up again!"
.........."It'll be okay," Jason
murmured. "We'll figure it out when we get to it."
..........They started walking again, and
then Tommy nudged Jason lightly. "Hey, man, they might send you!"
..........Jason shook his head. "No.
It wouldn't occur to them to send me. I'm not even hoping."
.........."You never know. Mr Caplan
might have you in mind, after that business with the camp."
..........Jason shot Tommy a warning look,
and the White Ranger nodded. "Okay. I'll shut up."
..........A long silence followed, then Jason
spoke softly. "Could you do me a favour?"
.........."Sure. What is it?"
.........."Could you push me for a while?
I'm a bit tired."
..........Tommy smiled and nodded. "Sure."
He stepped around and grasped the handles, starting to push Jason up the
slight incline. "You're feeling okay, aren't you?"
.........."Yeah," Jason answered.
"Just tired, that's all." He slumped back in the wheelchair.
"Seems so long ago since I was on my feet. You know, I hardly remember
what it was like to be able to walk?"
..........Tommy looked thoughtful. "Maybe
it's better if you don't remember. Don't hang on to the shreds of your
old life. You get caught up with wishful thinking, and don't ever move
..........Agitation filled Jason's face. "But
I don't want to forget! Tommy, I wish I could walk again. I don't care
how, I just wish I could."
.........."Well, what about leg braces?"
Tommy asked. "Those and a pair of crutches, or a walking frame...?"
..........Jason shook his head. "No good.
Too dangerous. I could do damage to myself and not even realise it."
.........."Then, you don't have any options,
bro. I'm sorry to say it, but you're gonna have to get over it. Come on!
You said just before in the Youth Centre that it's time you quit sulking!"
..........Jason nodded. "Yeah, I guess
..........He trailed off, his gaze falling
on someone a short distance away. A small smile flickered across his face.
Charlene.... "Ah... Tommy, would you excuse me?"
..........Tommy looked surprised. "Yeah.
.........."Just saw someone that I want
to talk to."
..........Tommy looked, and saw Charlene.
A grin filled his face. "A cheerleader? Hey, you're doing better than
..........Jason took a playful swipe at the
White Ranger. "Shut up. You can't talk, the way you go ga-ga over
Kim." Tommy went red, and Jason chuckled. "I'll see you tomorrow."
..........Tommy watched Jason go, and smiled
to himself as his friend joined Charlene. The two greeted each other, Charlene
responding enthusiastically, and then they headed off together through
the park. Tommy's smile broadened just a little. "Yeah," he murmured
to himself with relief. "I'll see you tomorrow."