Jason had not been in the Youth Centre for more than ten minutes when
familiar sounds reached his ears. The sounds of a fight....
"They're at it again," he heard Ernie say to someone, and watched as most
of the students hurried to the windows to get a glimpse of the battle.
Jason sighed to himself and looked away from all the windows. After a
moment, his gaze fell on his bare wrist. Billy had not bothered to make a
new communicator for him. He wondered whether that was intuition, or
whether Zordon had told him not to bother.
He heard cheers from the students watching the fight, and shut his eyes,
fighting back tears. Regardless of what his friends said, he suspected his
days of being a Power Ranger were long over. Rocky was not merely a sub in
for him, no matter what they wanted to believe. He was a permanent
replacement, and Jason was simply waiting for Zordon to confirm it.
"Hey, Jason." Jason looked around to see Claire walking over and sitting
down next to him. He tried to smile, but couldn't manage it. She reached
over and grasped his hand in her own.
"What's wrong, Jason? Why aren't you watching the fight along with everyone
Jason blinked hard, but it only caused more tears to fall. "I didn't want
Claire frowned a little, a thought suddenly occurring to her. "Where are
your friends? I thought you were spending lunch with them...."
"They had some stuff to do," Jason whispered, his throat tightening
painfully on him. "Didn't... didn't need me slowing them down."
Claire felt her heart twist painfully. "Oh Jason...." She touched one
finger lightly to his cheek, and lifted away a single tears. "It's so hard
to be strong when everything's working against you."
Jason shook his head. "It wasn't their fault. They... they had to...."
He trailed off as the television on the counter suddenly went to a news
flash, and clips of the fight between the zords and the new monster went to
air. For several seconds, the picture focused on the Red Dragon
Thunderzord, and Jason felt his heart virtually break.
Claire watched as what was left of Jason's stoic expression crumbled, and
he slumped over, totally defeated. "Jason...?"
Jason didn't answer immediately, but rather looked away as the tears came
in a flood. "I want to go home," he whispered, his shoulders shaking with
Claire hesitated, then stood up. "Hang on. I'll ask Ernie to give your dad
She hurried up to the counter, and called to Ernie, who was watching the
broadcast with intense interest.
"Ernie!" He looked back, and smiled. "What can I do for you, Claire?"
Claire glanced back to where Jason sat. "Could you give Jason's dad a call?
I think he's had just about all he can take today."
Ernie's smile fell away like a rock. "Right away."
Claire smiled gratefully and hurried back to Jason.
* * *
Donavon Scott arrived at the Youth Centre nearly twenty minutes later, and
quickly made his way over to where Jason sat with Claire.
"Jason? Are you all right...?" Jason didn't answer. He simply stared at
the tabletop, silent tears running down his cheeks. Donavon nodded. "Okay.
I'm taking you home, son."
He glanced questioningly at Claire, and she briefly introduced herself to
him. "I'm Claire Roberts."
Donavon smiled a little as he gently brought Jason to his feet. Jason had
mentioned a Claire. "Thank you, Claire. I appreciate you getting Ernie to
She shrugged. "It's okay." She reached out and caught Jason's hand in her
own for a moment. "Hang in there, Jason. Okay?'
Jason responded with a quick glance, but that was all.
* * *
"Still mad at me?" Donavon asked quietly as the headed home. Jason didn't
answer. He merely continued to cry silent tears. "Talk to me, Jason.
Please...." Jason, however, closed his eyes and effectively shut his
* * *
Upon arriving home, Jason went straight into his room and shut the door.
Sarah started after him, but Donavon held her back.
"Give him some space, Sarah. Whatever's wrong, he needs to work it out
Sarah hesitated, then consented, reluctantly leaving her son to himself.
* * *
Jason lay face down on his bed, sobbing helplessly. It was hard enough
trying to accept the fact that he probably would not be a Power Ranger
again, but seeing his old zord on the TV, piloted by someone else, had
simply been too much. He buried his face as far into his pillow as he
could, almost wishing he could suffocate himself.... or do something to end
Finally, as his sobs faded, he rolled off his bed and headed for the
adjoining bathroom, intending to splash some cold water on his face. He was
halfway there when his world vanished in a flash of white light.
* * *
Jason fell heavily to his knees in the Command Centre, caught unawares by
the unexpected teleportation. He took a moment to regain his wits, and then
looked up at Zordon. "I wish you'd give me more warning when you're going
to do that."
"I'm sorry, Jason," Zordon replied in an unusually quiet voice. "You no
longer have a communicator, and I had no way of contacting you."
Jason sighed a little and got slowly to his feet. Before he had a chance to
say anything, Alpha shuffled forward uncertainly. "It's good to see you
Jason offered the little robot a weak smile. "Same here, Alpha. It's been a
while, hasn't it?"
"Yes," Zordon said, "it has. How are you feeling, Jason?"
Jason shrugged. "I'm okay."
Zordon regarded the teen piercingly. "Honestly."
Jason averted his eyes from the ancient master. "Pretty bad. I haven't been
getting much sleep lately. Bad nightmares, stuff like that."
_do you....?_ Jason thought bitterly. _i don't think so..._
Zordon went on quietly. "You still have unresolved conflicts. Tommy told me
"So?" Jason asked nervously. "What did I do wrong?"
"What makes you believe you did something wrong?"
Jason could have screamed in frustration. "You sound like my father, and
Dr. Carter. Can't you just tell what I did wrong to lose the
Zordon finally understood. "Nothing you did was the cause of this, Jason.
You must believe that. Your communicator was destroyed, and I took a chance
in trying to teleport you here through the power coin. It failed."
"But if I'd still had the protection," Jason argued, "it would have worked.
I must have done something wrong. What did I do?"
"Stop trying to blame yourself," Zordon told him firmly. "It was not your
fault. It was fate, and that is one force I have no power over." Jason
looked unconvinced, but said no more. There was a brief, uncomfortable
silence, and then Zordon spoke again. "What else is bothering you?"
The teenager drew in a deep breath, and forced himself to speak before he
lost all his courage. "Tommy said you've got Rocky filling in for me."
"That is correct."
"But he isn't just a temporary fill in, is he? He's a permanent
Zordon was silent. Jason took a step forward. "Tell me the truth, Zordon.
Please... I don't want to look forward to rejoining the team if it's never
going to happen."
"Your intuition is correct," Zordon replied in an even softer voice. "I am
afraid that you are no longer able to serve as a ranger. I was intending to
wait until you were stronger in both body and mind before I told
Jason looked away, tears filling his eyes. "I understand."
"I'm sorry, Jason."
"Send me home. Please."
Zordon nodded grimly to Alpha, and Jason was teleported out of the Command
* * *
Jason landed in the middle of the floor of his bedroom with a soft thud. He
stood there for several seconds before walking slowly back to his bed,
lying down and shutting his eyes. The tears came in a flood a moment later,
and after a long while, he finally cried himself to sleep.
* * *
Donavon looked into Jason's room that evening to discover that his son was
fast asleep. He hesitated, on the verge of waking him up for dinner. He
changed his mind, though, and carefully shut the door, deciding to let him
* * *
"Where is he?" Sarah asked as she set the table.
"Asleep," Donavon told her. "You'd better put something aside for him, but
I doubt he'll be awake before morning."
Sarah sighed heavily. "He was so upset this morning. Maybe we shouldn't
have forced him to go to school."
Donavon shook his head. "No. Letting him stay home would have been a
mistake. We have to be his strength, Sarah. Even if that means forcing him
to go to school. I won't stand back and let him lock himself away. If he
does, he'll never get better."
"I know," Sarah murmured. "It just hurts so much to see him hurting, and
not being able to do anything about it.... Donavon, I can't stand to see my
Donavon took her in his arms and held her tightly. "Neither can I, Sarah. I
wish I could have just five minutes alone in a room with Rick Daniels... It
wouldn't help Jason, though. We just have to keep reminding him that he
hasn't been deserted, that he's not alone. That's all we can do."
Sarah didn't answer. She simply turned around and cried into her husband's
* * *
Donavon went into Jason's room late the next morning to find the teen
curled up in a ball in the corner of the room, sobbing softly. Concerned,
he hurried over and crouched beside him. "Jason, what's wrong?"
"Nightmares...." Jason whimpered, his voice cracking. "Bad...
"Why didn't you come to our room?" Donavon asked, carefully putting one arm
around his son's shoulders. "Jason...?"
Jason shook his head. "Couldn't.... Couldn't move. They promised.... They
said they were gonna... gonna hold me up.... But I'm... they...." He broke
into a fresh flood of tears, unable to say anymore.
Donavon started up. "C'mon, Jason. Come into the family room, and we'll
talk." Jason, however, didn't move. Donavon tried everything, including
bribery, threats and blackmail, but nothing he said or did could move Jason
from the corner. Finally, frustrated, he stood up and left the room.
* * *
Alex Carter was waiting with Sarah when Donavon came into the family room.
"Where's Jason?" Sarah asked, feeling a hint of concern. A heavy sigh
escaped her husband, and he shook his head.
"He's back in the corner. I can't get him to move."
Carter moved forward. "Frozen up again?"
"No, I don't think so. I think he's just too upset to move. You're welcome
to try, if you want."
Carter nodded. "Yes, I think I will."
* * *
"Jason?" Carter walked over and crouched down in front of the teen, looking
him over carefully. "Didn't get much sleep again last night?"
Jason looked sideways at Carter, half blinded by his tears. "No."
"Want to talk about it?"
Carter nodded. He was used to blunt answers from Jason by now. "It might
help. You never know. What were the nightmares about?"
"Leave me alone."
"I don't think that's such a good idea, Jason. Do you?" Jason looked away
and buried his face in his arms. Carter hesitated, fighting a paternal
instinct to put a hand on Jason's shoulder. He had learnt through
experience that it wasnot a wise thing to do.
"I just want to help you, Jason. How about we start by getting you out of
"I can't move."
"I think you can. Why don't you try? I'll help."
"I don't want your help."
Carter withheld a sigh. Of all his patients, Jason certainly had the
greatest streak of stubbornness. "Well, how about you help me, then? Help
me by helping yourself. Is that reasonable?"
"I want Claire," Jason suddenly said in a muffled voice, startling Carter.
"Get Claire. Please...."
After a long moment, Carter got to his feet. "All right, Jason. I'll get
* * *
"No luck?" Donavon asked wearily.
Carter looked thoughtful. "Not entirely. He asked for someone called
Claire. Do you have any idea who he's talking about?"
Sarah shook her head, but Donavon hesitated. The name was familiar.... "It
was a Claire that was with Jason yesterday in the Youth Centre. She had
Ernie call me to go and get Jason. She introduced herself as Claire
"Well, I'd say that's who Jason meant," Carter said. "Can we get in contact
Donavon nodded. "Should be able to. I'll give the school's principal a
* * *
Victor Caplan hung up his office phone, feeling a rush of concern. That had
been Donavon Scott. Jason had had some sort of breakdown, had curled up in
the corner of his room, and was refusing to move. Apparently he'd asked for
Getting up, he grabbed his coat and hurried from the office. "Jane," he
told his secretary on his way out the door, "I'm going off the grounds for
a little while. I don't know how long I'll be gone. If there are any
queries or phone calls.... Hell, you know what to do."
He was gone before she had a chance to get a word out.
* * *
The upper sophomore math class looked up in surprise as a somewhat
breathless Mr Caplan strode into the room. "Excuse me, Miss Appleby. I'm
afraid I need to borrow one of your students. Claire, could you come with
me, please? Bring your books with you."
Claire went in concerned silence, hoping that she was neither in trouble,
nor being demoted back to the lower math class. Her fears were allayed as
soon as they were away from the class room.
"I just received a call from Jason Scott's father," Mr Caplan told her in a
low voice. "Jason's had a breakdown, and now he's asking for you."
Claire was startled, and concerned. "Is that where we're going now?"
"Yes. You can put your books in your locker, and we'll head out straight
Claire literally threw her books in her locker, and hurried out to the car
park with the principal. Ten minutes later, they pulled into the driveway
of a large, red brick house and were greeted by a man that Claire
recognised as Jason's father.
"Thanks for coming so quickly," Donavon said as he led them inside.
"Claire? This way...."
He took her through a room and down a hallway to Jason's room. Claire took
one look at the teen, and felt her heart break. Forgetting that Donavon was
even there, she went straight to Jason's side and dropped to her knees
beside him, putting her arms around him in protective embrace.
Jason looked up, saw Claire, and gave a muffled sob of relief. She reached
up and, very gently, kissed him on the cheek. "It's okay, Jason. I'm here.
I'm not going anywhere."
Donavon hesitated for a moment, then backed out of the room, shutting the
door and leaving the two alone.
* * *
"Don't give up now," Claire whispered, hugging him tightly. "Hang in there,
Jason. It's just depression. You'll get past it."
"They left me...." Jason said in a muffled voice. "They all left me...."
Claire had no idea what he was talking about, but it didn't concern her
greatly. "I haven't left you. I'm right here."
"But he promised...." Jason choked out, lifting his head a little. "He
promised we'd be protected... But I wasn't.... and he said I never did
anything wrong... but they couldn't rescue me...."
By then, Claire was thoroughly confused. "Who couldn't rescue you?" Jason
shook his head, too distressed to answer. Claire sighed a little and gently
drew him to her, until he was cradled in her arms. "It's going to be
okay," she murmured, rocking him lightly in her arms. "You're going to be
okay. Trust me, Jason. You'll pull through this one. Just stay with me
Jason shuddered and slumped helplessly against Claire. "Please don't let me
go...." he whispered.
"I won't," she promised. "You can trust me."
* * *
Donavon and Sarah Scott waited in the family room with Victor Caplan and
Alex Carter, waiting for Claire to come out and say that she couldn't get
Jason to move. It didn't happen.
"I don't understand," Donavon said softly, shaking his head in confusion.
"Jason only met Claire about a week ago. Why would he ask for her, over his
Carter looked over to the principal. "You wouldn't know, I suppose, Mr.
Mr. Caplan hesitated, then spoke quietly. "I think I do know, but it isn't
my place to say. Claire may tell you, but that's her decision, and I have
to ask you not to force her to tell you."
Silence fell for the next several minutes, and Donavon was about to go and
see what was happening when Claire came nervously into the room.
"Did you have any luck?" Sarah asked. Claire gave a quick nod. "He's in
bed, asleep. I don't think he'll have anymore nightmares for a while."
Mr. Caplan stood up. "I think that perhaps we'd better get back to school,
"Please," Claire said quickly, "if it's okay, sir, I'd like to stay here. I
mean, when Jason wakes up...."
Mr. Caplan looked across at the Scotts, and Donavon nodded wearily. "It's
fine with us."
"All right," Mr Caplan said. "I'll see you on Monday, then, Claire. Mr. and
Mrs. Scott. Dr. Carter."
Once the principal had gone, Carter took his chance, and turned his
questions on Claire.
Jason must trust you very much, Claire."
Claire looked uncomfortable. "I... I guess so..." Carter watched her
"Well, out of all his friends that he could have asked for, he asked for
you. And he's known you for what? A week or two?"
Claire went red, and Sarah Scott immediately stepped in. "Excuse us, Dr
Carter. Come with me, Claire. We can have a talk, woman to woman."
The teen followed Sarah gratefully into the kitchen. "I'm sorry," Sarah
said as she motioned for Claire to sit down. "That man isn't the subtlest
in the world."
Claire squirmed a little on the stool. "It's okay. I guess you're wondering
why Jason asked for me."
A smile crossed Sarah's face. "Yes, we are. You don't have to explain
anything, though. What matters is helping Jason. I'm afraid we made a
mistake in forcing him to go to school yesterday."
"No, Mrs. Scott," Claire said quickly. "That wasn't a mistake. You did the
right thing. Jason was ready to cave, and if you'd let him stay home, you
wouldn't have been able to get him to go back. He had to go yesterday, no
matter how hard it was. There'll be more days like that, too, where you'll
have to force him to go. Don't let him buckle, no matter how much it
By that time, Sarah was watching Claire with open wonder. "Claire, how do
you know all that?"
Claire looked away from Sarah's gaze. "Because the same thing happened to
me three and a half years ago. I was kidnapped on my way home from
Sarah withheld a gasp of shock.
"I was kept hidden for two weeks before I was found," Claire admitted in a
trembling voice. "The police found me... found me the day after I was...
She faltered, unable to say anymore. Sarah hesitated, then reached out and
put one hand gently on the girl's shoulder. "Thank you for helping Jason,
Claire smiled, then. "It's okay. I'm glad I can help." She paused, then
went on quietly. "I met Jason about a week and a half ago. I'd been waiting
for a chance to talk to him. I thought he might appreciate being able to
talk to someone who really understood what he was going through."
"I'm sure he does," Sarah told her. Just then, Donavon came into the room,
"I'm almost starting to regret letting Carter deal with Jason," he
remarked. "That man is almost completely cold."
Sarah shook her head. "You wouldn't think that if it was anyone else's son."
Donavon sat down at the table. "Maybe not. I just checked Jason. He's
sleeping like a baby. I don't know what you said or did, Claire, but you're
welcome to come here any time and put him to bed."
Claire blushed and said nothing. "Did Jason say what was upsetting him so
much?" Donavon asked quietly, with just a hint of nervousness.
Claire thought it over, then shrugged. "He was rambling. All I could really
make out was that he thinks he's been deserted. I don't know who he thinks
would give up on him, but he seemed pretty sure of it. I think it was just
a bout of depression. That'll come and go. You just have to try and carry
him through it."
Donavon smiled a little. "You weren't a psychiatrist in a previous life,
Again, Claire blushed. "I understand what Jason's going through, Mr Scott,
because I've been through the same thing. I was kidnapped as well. Three
and a half years ago."
Donavon's smile dropped from his face like a rock. "Dear God...."
"It's okay," she said quickly. "I'm not a mental case, or anything like
"I wasn't thinking that," Donavon put in. "I'm just amazed that you could
find the courage to help Jason."
"I was thinking the same thing," Sarah added. Claire stared down at the
"I nearly went under because I didn't have many people to help me. Not
anyone that really understood what I was going through. I didn't want Jason
to go through the same thing. It isn't something that anyone can cope with
on their own. I needed to be with other people who'd been through similar
things, and so does Jason."
"Claire, will your parents be home now?" Donavon asked quietly. Claire
"Good. Because I think I'd like to meet them."
* * *
Ted and Alice Roberts arrived ten minutes later, and introduction were
quickly made. Claire then stepped towards the hallway.
"I might go and sit with Jason, so you can talk about us without
reservation." Without waiting for a reply, she disappeared up the hallway
into Jason's room.
"You have a remarkable daughter," Donavon said softly.
Ted smiled. "We know. She's held up really well. It hasn't been easy,
though. I was proud of her for trying to help Jason."
"We appreciate it," Sarah said. "Jason needs the help, badly."
"Well," Alice said, "we're here to help. Any time you both need to talk to
someone. After all, Jason isn't the only one who needs help here. It was
hard for us to cope as well. Not as hard as it was for Claire, of course,
but hard enough."
"Thank you," Donavon murmured softly, and he meant it.
* * *
Claire listened for a while to the muffled voices of hers and Jason's
parents before turning her attention back to Jason. He was fast asleep now,
and probably would be for a while. She hoped he would be spared from any
nightmares for this one time, at least. He badly needed at least one
After a long moment, she reached out, found his hand and gently held it in
her own. "Everything's going to be okay, Jason. Just hang in there, okay?
Don't give up."
She hesitated, then got up from the chair and lay down carefully in the
space on the bed next to Jason and rested her head against his shoulder. A
long moment later,she shut her eyes, and fell asleep.
* * *
Donavon faltered in the doorway of Jason's room, then smiled and had to
fight back a chuckle. Glancing down the hallway, he motioned for Ted
Roberts to come and join him.
Ted walked up the hall, looked into the bedroom, and laughed softly. "I'll
"Listen," Donavon said quietly, "why don't you let Claire stay here. She
can stay overnight, and we can all meet tomorrow in the park. I really
don't want to disturb them...."
Ted smiled faintly. "No, neither do I. All right. She can stay. If you have
any trouble, though, just call us. There's no way of telling when she'll
have nightmares as well."
Donavon chuckled softly to himself. "Oh, I have a feeling there won't be
any nightmares tonight. Not if they're together."
Ted's smile broadened a little. "I think you're right."
* * *
Jason slept for most of the day, allowed himself to be dragged up for
dinner, and then went straight back to bed. Sarah set up a cot next to
Jason's bed, and Claire fell into bed a little while after.
The next day being Saturday, the Scotts and the Roberts met in Angel Grove
Park to have a picnic lunch, and talk some more. Jason and Claire moved a
short distance away from the adults after they'd eaten, to talk quietly
with each other.
"I think last night was the first night I didn't have any nightmares,"
Jason commented softly.
"That's good," Claire said, "but you still look tired." Jason sighed. "It's
not reallly that I'm tired. I just... I just don't know how to keep going.
What have I got to look forward to? Nothing...."
"That's not true," Claire argued. "You're setting your goals too high.
Things are different now. You've got to realise that. You want to set
yourself a goal? How about being able to walk around school by yourself?
Being able to walk from school to the Youth Centre on your own. Those are
the goals you should be aiming for."
Jason shut his eyes. He'd once been considered one of Angel Grove's best
martial artists. Now, the highest he could aim for was being able to walk
from school to the Youth Centre alone...?
Claire gave him a quick hug. "I know it sounds pretty pitiful. I used to be
one of the top gymnasts at my old school. I don't know if I'll ever be that
good again, but at the moment, I'm still achieving things that are
difficult for me."
_three and a half years..._ Jason thought, grief stricken. In three and a
half years, he'd be an adult, in an adult world, and then where would he
be? He didn't have the heart to tell Claire that she wasn't helping, but
the thought that a lifetime of karate could be lost.... among other
He looked down at his hands through new tears. They'd once felt so strong.
Now, he had to struggle most of the time just to keep them from trembling.
He hung his head, thoroughly miserable.
"I just want things to be back to the way they were, before it happened.
Everything's changed. My whole life is screwed up now, and I don't know
where to turn. All my friends have... they've... they have more important
things to do...."
Claire put an arm around his shoulders. "No one's deserted you, Jason. Try
and believe that."
He didn't answer, though. Rather, he continued to stare bleakly at the
ground, tears rolling slowly down his cheeks. After a long moment, Claire
"Wait here, Jason. I'll get us something to drink, and then I'll come back
and convince you that you're being ridiculous."
She hurried away to where their parents were talking. Jason didn't even
notice her go. His attention had been drawn away by the sounds of the road
nearby. It was Angel Grove rush hour, and the cars were going by fast and
frequently. How easy, Jason thought dully, to simply step onto the road, in
front of one of those cars.... To end it all....
Before he really knew what he was doing, Jason got to his feet and headed
for the road.
* * *
Alice smiled up at her daughter as Claire approached. "What would you like,
"Just a couple of sodas for me and Jason, Mum." Ted smiled a little, and
over to where Jason was. Or rather, to where he had been. Ted's smile
dropped abruptly from his face, and he stood up quickly.
"Claire, where's Jason?"
Claire looked around sharply, and her face drained of colour. "He was right
In an instant, Ted guessed where Jason had gone. "The road...." He broke
into a run, followed closely by Donavon, and headed for the road, hoping
they weren't too late.
* * *
Jason moved slowly but steadily towards the road in a complete daze. _you
are no longer able to serve as a power ranger...._ He shuddered. _i'm off
the team.... they don't need me anymore... zordon gave the power to rocky,
like i'm not worth anything...._
He paused for just an instant. _i'm not worth anything..._ Stricken with
grief and despair, Jason stumbled through the trees and across the last bit
of nature reserve to the road. He was within an inch of stepping onto the
road and in front of a large 4WD, when there was a blur of movement off to
his left. A moment later, someone, or something, struck him hard, knocking
him clean off his feet and to the cement pavement.
* * *
Ted and Donavon came through the bushes just in time to see a man in his
late twenties take a flying leap at Jason and knock him down before he
could step onto the road. They hurried forward as both Jason and the young
man sat up.
"Oh, jeez, kid, I'm sorry," the man gasped breathlessly. "I just didn't
think you were gonna stop, there...."
Jason scowled and looked away, unable to face the man for fear he would see
the truth in his eyes. The young man got up, looking guiltily at Ted and
Donavon as they pulled Jason to his feet. "I'm real sorry..."
"It's all right," Donavon said quietly. "There was no harm done, and I
think you prevented a very nasty accident."
The man blinked in surprise, and then realised with shock that the teen had
been intending to walk out onto the road. He took a step away, regarding
Jason with a sudden wariness. Jason glanced at him, caught the look, and
stormed away through the trees. Donavon thanked the man again, and then he
and Ted hurried after the teenager.
* * *
"Why did you try that, Jason?" Ted asked when they caught up to him.
Jason stared at the ground miserably. "I don't know."
Ted glanced at Donavon, then touched the boy's shoulder very lightly. "You
badly need help, don't you."
Jason glanced up at Ted, on the verge of being angry, but he saw only
genuine concern there, and the anger fell away.
"I'm not worth anything now," he whispered, slowing to a halt. "I'm... I'm
"That isn't true," Donavon protested, "and you know it."
"I don't know it," Jason said. "Nobody can prove I'm worth anything." The
tears were flowing again, and he choked out the words as his mother, Alice
and Claire arrived on the scene. "I'm not of any use to anyone, now... I'm
a total wreck... And he told me it wasn't my fault... but he still threw me
off the team...."
Jason collapsed into his mother's arms, sobbing uncontrollably, while
Claire and the four adults looked at one another in confused silence.
* * *
Donavon called Alex Carter at Kingston as soon as they got home, and the
psychiatrist arrived half an hour later. After a brief talk with all of
them, he took Jason into Donavon's study to talk with him privately. "Why
did you try to kill yourself, Jason?"
Jason stared miserably at the floor. "Why shouldn't I? What have I got to
live for? Bad memories, bad dreams.... Nothing."
"You really believe that?'
"Can you give me a reason not to?"
"I'm sure I could think of a few things. The question is, would you believe them?"
"I can't believe in anything anymore."
Carter sat back, wondering what approach to take. There was no doubt that
Jason was severely depressed, but he wanted to avoid prescribing
anti-depressants, if possible. "You didn't answer my question before. Why
did you try to kill yourself?"
Jason shrugged. "I don't know. I hardly even thought about it."
"I didn't really think about actually killing myself. Not like, 'get up,
walk onto the road and in front of a car'. It didn't happen like that. All
I know is that one minute I was sitting thinking that I was totally
worthless... the next I'm flat on my back on the pavement."
Carter was disturbed. "So you hadn't planned it, or thought seriously about
"It just happened. You don't feel as though you had any control over your
"I... I guess not."
"Jason, how would you feel about coming to spend a little time at Kingston?"
Anger flashed across Jason's face. "No. No way! I'm not going to some
"It wouldn't be permanent. You could come home each weekend. It would be a
bit like boarding school."
Jason stood up abruptly. "Yeah, right," he growled. "You can forget it. I'm
not leaving home. Not for any length of time."
Carter nodded, seeing the teen was starting to get extremely agitated.
"All right. It was just a suggestion. That's all."
"Fine. Can I go now?"
"All right. We'll talk again later."
Jason spared the doctor a final cold look before storming out of the
office. Carter watched him go, then reached over and picked up the phone
and dialed a memorized number. It was picked up at the other end after
"Kingston Institute, may I help you?"
"Amy, this is Dr. Carter. Put me through to Andy."
"Right away, sir."
A moment later, a new voice answered. "Yes, Dr. Carter?"
"Andy, I need you to check that the place for Jason Scott was kept open."
"Yes, sir. Just one moment." There was a long pause, and then she spoke
again. "Yes, sir. It's still open. The place hasn't been filled."
"All right. Make sure it stays that way. We may be bringing Jason Scott in
as an involuntary patient within the next month or so. I don't want that
place filled, for any reason."
"Yes, doctor. I'll make sure it stays open."
He hung up, and sat back with a soft thud. He hoped it wouldn't be
necessary, of course, to bring Jason to Kingston, but he was at least
assured that a place was open, should it become necessary. As much as he
hated to admit it, he had a strong feeling that it would be necessary, and
quite possibly very soon.
* * *
Sergeant Radley pulled up outside the Scott residence early on Sunday
afternoon with a strong sense of foreboding. Instead of getting out,
though, he continued to sit in the car, watching the house warily. He had
something to discuss with Jason and his parents, and he knew it might not
bring a favourable reaction. Still, it had to be done....
Sighing heavily, Radley climbed out of the car and headed up the path to
the front door. He knocked once, and it was answered almost straight away
by Sarah Scott. _she looks tired_ Radley thought as he forced a smile onto
his face. "Hello, Mrs Scott."
She smiled back. "Hello, Sergeant. How can I help you?"
"I have something that I need to discuss with you, Jason and your husband.
Can I come in?"
She stepped aside, allowing him in, then ushered him into the kitchen.
Donavon and Jason were sitting at the table, and Donavon was going over
some science homework with Jason. It was probably the most normal scene
since Jason's kidnapping, Radley thought sadly. Both looked up when Sarah
showed Radley in, and Donavon offered him an equally tired smile. "Hi,
Sergeant. How's life at the precinct?"
Radley returned the smile at the old joke, then looked to the teenager.
"How's it going, Jason?"
Jason shrugged. "Could be better. Could be worse."
Neither Donavon nor Sarah said a word about Jason's suicide attempt the
previous day. Radley nodded, silently noting the boy's pale features.
Something had happened, very recently, and he didn't need to be a genius to
figure out what. "Well, I came by because there's something I need to
discuss with you. It's about Rick Daniels' trial."
While Jason stiffened very slightly, Donavon spoke with a frown. "Only Rick
Daniels? What about his brother, Carl?"
"Carl Daniels pleaded guilty when it first went to court a couple of months
ago. It seemed he had no idea how far his brother was intending to take it.
>From what the police psychologists determined, if Ben Daniels hadn't gone
to the police, Carl would have. He was just that far off turning himself
and his brother in. The judge gave him a year's suspended sentence with a
pretty hefty fine."
Donavon glanced at Jason, but the teen didn't appear too upset. Jason
caught his father's glance, and spoke softly.
"It was Rick Daniels that did it all to me. It's him that I want in jail."
Radley nodded. "I thought as much. That's why I'm here. Rick Daniels
pleaded not guilty and the trial starts in a few days. The D.A. wants to do
everything possible to make sure we get a guilty verdict, and he sent me to
ask if you'd be willing to testify in court."
Jason sat frozen for several long seconds, then spoke even more softly than
before. "You want me to get up in front of who knows how many people, and
talk about what Rick Daniels did to me?"
Radley fought back the urge to cringe. Donavon reached out to touch his
son's shoulder, then thought better of it. He spoke quietly instead.
"Jason, this could be what you need. Get it out in the open...."
Jason felt his face heat up, and he dropped his gaze. "Sure. I want to tell
the whole damn world what happened."
"It would be a closed session," Radley told him quietly. "No reporters
would be allowed in, and only the minimum number of people. I guarantee
"But I could still get cornered by reporters outside."
"We'd have police guards on call to keep them back. Plus, there are a few
secret exits from the courthouse that we've made sure no reporters know
"What about Rick Daniels?" Donavon demanded to know. "Isn't he out on bail?"
"Yes," Radley admitted, "but the judge set the condition that not only is
he forbidden to speak to Jason, he isn't allowed within two hundred yards
of Jason, outside the courtroom. If he speaks to you, Jason, or comes
within that two hundred yard limit, he'll automatically have his bail
revoked. He won't be able to come anywhere near you, I promise."
Jason stared continued to stare at the table top. "Can I think about it?"
"Please. I need to know by tomorrow evening, though, so we can get through
all the formalities."
He stood up. "You have my office phone number, and my home phone number."
Donavon rose up and showed the sergeant out, coming back a minute later.
"Do you think you might be able to do it?" he asked quietly, sitting back
down at the table beside his son.
Jason stared down at the tabletop. "I don't know. Maybe...."
"Don't rush your decision," Sarah told him quickly. "Take your time and
think it over."
Jason sat there for a moment later, then got to his feet. "I'm going to
bed. I'll think it over tomorrow." He went, not waiting for a reply from
his mother and father. From the safety of his room, he listened to the low
murmurs of his parents' voices. He did not need super hearing to guess what
they were talking about. Sighing inwardly, he got into bed without
bothering to change out of his clothes, and shut his eyes, willing himself
* * *
_never gonna see your dad again, jason...._
_you're going to die in here...._
_must be enjoying this, jason.... you aren't fighting me...._
Jason awoke with a violent start, a fearful cry catching in his throat. He
lay there frozen for several seconds, trembling badly and breathing hard
before slowly pulling himself together again. Sitting up, he pulled his
knees up against his chest and shut his eyes tightly.
_is this what i'm going to have to deal with for the rest of my life?
scared to sleep, scared to go outside by myself....? i am so sick of being
He all but made his decision then, aside from one thing. _i have to talk to
Jason lay back down, fighting the powerful urge to go and curl up in the
corner. He lay there for several minutes before the fear finally
overpowered him. Remembering his father's light admonishment on nights that
he'd curled up in the corner, Jason slid out of bed and headed for the
door, doing something that he hadn't done since he was a little boy.
He made his way down the hall and into his parents' room, going over to his
mother's side of the bed and lightly touching her shoulder. Sarah Scott
awoke immediately, and sat up, switching on the bed lamp.
"Jason? What's wrong, sweetheart?"
"Had a nightmare," Jason admitted in a trembling voice as his father woke
up as well. "I... I was scared...."
Donavon felt a sense of relief and encouragement that Jason had come to
them, rather than going into the corner. He shifted over a little, as did
Sarah, making room for their son in the bed. Sarah patted the mattress with
her hand. "C'mon, Jason."
He climbed into the bed with his parents, feeling embarrassed but grateful
at the same time. Sarah threw the covers over him, and put her arms
protectively around him.
"It's all right, sweetheart. You're safe." Jason lay his head on the pillow
and shut his eyes, feeling safe in his mother's arms. Within minutes, he
was fast asleep.
"Thank God he came in to us," Donavon whispered, sitting up and looking at
his son over his wife's form. Sarah nodded a little, continuing to hold
Jason in her arms as he slept.
"Maybe he is starting to get a little better." Donavon looked sad as he lay
back down. "Or maybe he was just too frightened to stay by himself
Sarah didn't reply to that. She kissed her son lightly on the cheek, and
then shut her eyes and also fell asleep. Donavon, however, stayed awake for
a long while.
* * *
Tommy met Jason at the school gate the next day, and immediately noted that
some of the colour had come back into Jason's face. "You look a bit better
today," Tommy commented.
Jason managed a weak smile. "Well, I had a pretty bad nightmare last
night...." He paused, glancing around to make sure no one was listening. "I
ended up going into Mum and Dad's room, and getting into bed with them.
Didn't wake up again for the rest of the night."
Tommy smiled, pleased. "That's great. Don't be embarrassed about that,
Jase. Man, I wish I had the guts to do that some nights. My folks would
think I'd lost my mind, though...." He trailed off abruptly, realising
what he'd said. If Jason had taken offense, though, it didn't show at all.
Rather, there was a look of deep thought on the teen's face.
"Tommy, I need to ask you something."
"Sure, go for it."
"Sergeant Radley came around yesterday evening and asked me if I'd testify
at Rick Daniels' trial."
Tommy slowed to a halt, ignoring the second warning bell. "Are you going to
"I don't know. Maybe. I can't do it alone, though." Tommy nodded. "Okay.
C'mon, let's go to the Youth Centre."
"But what about class?"
"Forget class. Right now this is more important. C'mon, Jase. I'll give
your folks a call from the Centre, so they don't get worried if the school
calls your place."
Jason hesitated, then consented and allowed Tommy to usher him out of the
* * *
Ernie was busy washing glasses when Tommy and Jason came in, and he spared
them a frown. "Shouldn't you two be in school?"
Tommy nodded. "Yeah, but we need to talk about something. Ernie, can I use
the phone and call Jason's folks? Let them know where he is...?"
Ernie nodded, guessing that something had come up, and knowing they weren't
simply skipping school. Not if Tommy was calling Donavon and Sarah Scott to
tell them where Jason was.
Tommy made the call, then went over to where Jason had sat down. "Okay,"
Tommy said as he pulled up a chair opposite Jason, "let's talk. When's the
"In a couple of days. Sergeant Radley said he wanted to know my decision by
"But you don't know if you can do it."
"No. Not alone, anyway. It's just the thought of getting up in front of all
those people... and then having to tell everyone what went on... and
Jason shuddered, and Tommy reached over and gave his shoulder a quick,
reassuring squeeze. "Would you do it if I was there?"
Jason looked up at Tommy, pale. "I couldn't ask you to be there... I can't
even ask Mum to be there. Not to hear what I'm going to have to say."
Tommy regarded Jason somberly. "Well, you've got a few choices, Jase. You
could just forget it, and not bother, and Daniels might get off really
lightly.... or he might even get acquitted. Two, you could go ahead, with
only your dad, and Dr Carter there. Three, you could testify with all your
friends there to back you up. Your call."
Jason looked sick. "I'd appreciate it if you were there, Tommy, but I don't
want the others there. I don't want them to hear...."
"But you'll testify if I go?"
Jason looked away, and Tommy nodded, seeing that Jason had consented.
"Okay. You get your dad to call Sergeant Radley, and tell him you'll
testify. And don't worry, Jase. I'll be right beside you all the way. I
promise. You aren't going to be alone."
"I'm just scared of having to see Rick Daniels again," Jason said softly,
still staring at the tabletop. "I don't want to see him, but if I testify,
I'm going to, whether I like it or not."
"Well, maybe you need to face up to him. Jase, getting up on that stand
will be as good as going up to him and saying, "look, creep, I'm still
standing. You didn't win."
Jason shut his eyes against the tears. "I'm scared, Tommy. I don't think I
can face him."
"Yes, you can," Tommy said firmly. "You can face him, Jase. If you don't,
you're going to be scared for the rest of your life. Is that what you
"No. You know I don't...."
"Then prove it! C'mon, Jason, show a bit of the courage you used to have.
Remember back to when Rita first attacked, to when she turned me into the
Green Ranger. You didn't quit then because you were scared. You faced the
danger, and your fear, and beat the problem. You can do it again, Jase. You
know you can. Face up to that creep. Laugh at him, if you can. Let him know
that he lost big time."
Jason looked away, tears streaming down his cheeks. _but this isn't the
same_ he wanted to scream at Tommy. He held back on his anger, though.
"Tommy, I'm not the same as I used to be. I don't think I'll ever be the
Tommy frowned and spoke in a low voice. "Jase, if you keep talking like
that, you'll never make it back to being the Red Ranger."
Jason's face turned ashen, and he sat back with a thud. _zordon hasn't told
them..... he hasn't told them i'm off the team for good...._
"What's wrong?" Tommy asked.
Jason buried his face in his hands. "I've talked to Zordon, Tommy. I'm off
the team. Rocky's a permanent replacement."
It was Tommy's turn to go pale. "What...?"
"He... He said I was no longer fit to be a ranger.... Something along those
Tommy sat stiffly for several seconds, then spoke in a strained voice. "You
can't let this beat you, Jason. Even if that's true...."
"It's not that that bothers me so much," Jason whispered. "Tommy, I nearly
went insane in that room. I used every trick in the book to keep my sanity
when Rick Daniels was doing everything he could to make me lose it. I kept
myself going half the time by thinking that you guys hadn't come for me
because Zedd had attacked, and you were all in trouble. I kept myself going
through making myself angry."
"Jase, we nearly went insane trying to find you...."
"I know. I'm not angry at any of you. I know you all did your best. That's
not it. The point is that when the police finally came for me, and after
you guys snapped me back to reality... everyone I've come across has
treated me with kid gloves, like I'm a bomb that's gonna explode or
something. And those that don't... they treat me with that kind of false
sympathy and kindness that you use with someone who you know isn't good for
"That's not true, Jason...."
"Isn't it? Tell me, Tommy, what am I good for now? I'm totally useless. I
know it, you know it, everybody in Angel Grove knows it, and that's the
Tommy sat there in speechless shock. _c'mon, you idiot_ he thought
desperately, _say something. don't just sit there_
A weak smile crossed Jason's face. "See? Even you can't tell me different."
Tommy finally snapped out of the shock and sat forward. "You want to be
good for something, Jason? You go to that damned trial and testify. Get up
there and say what that creep did to you. Tell the court everything, and
don't leave a thing out. You get up there and show Daniels that he didn't
win. Make sure he goes to jail, Jason. If you can do that, then you'll be
able to do anything you like."
Jason stared down at the tabletop. "I'll testify," he said softly. "Not for
anyone else, though. I'll do it for me."
Tommy nodded. "And I'll be there with you, Jase. All the way. I promise."
* * *
Tommy arrived back at the Youth Centre that lunch time after walking Jason
home, to find the other rangers crowded around a table. Rocky, Adam and
Aisha were there as well, and Tommy remembered with a silent curse that
they'd had the day off. Zack spotted him before he could double back,
however, and called him over.
Sighing softly to himself, Tommy went over and joined them. "Where's
Jason?" Trini asked immediately. "Is he okay?"
Tommy nodded. "Yeah. I just walked him home. I'll be at school this
afternoon, and I'll go see Mr Caplan afterwards...."
"Don't worry about it," Billy told him. "Mr Caplan figured it was something
to do with Jason. He said to tell you not to worry about explaining
Tommy cringed visibly, as he realised that was exactly what Jason had been
talking about earlier. Half the town's population was treating him like an
atomic bomb, the other half like he was a useless wreck. _no wonder he's
so damn depressed all the time...._
"What's wrong?" Adam asked, watching Tommy closely.
Tommy sighed and spoke. "The trial against Rick Daniels starts in a few
days. Jason's decided that he's going to testify."
A heavy silence followed, and then Kimberly spoke nervously. "Is he up to
"He can do it," Zack said firmly. "Tommy, did you tell him we'd all be
there for him?"
"Yeah," Tommy answered, "I told him. Listen guys, don't take this the wrong
way and get all offended, but he doesn't want any of you there."
There was a stunned silence, and then Trini spoke, surprised and a little
hurt. "Why not?"
"It's because of what he's going to have to say. He said he doesn't want
any of you to hear it. Don't get upset...."
Billy shook his head. "It's okay. Tommy, let him know it's okay. We
Tommy nodded, relieved. He was about to speak again when he spotted Claire
Roberts enter the Youth Centre, looking around with a small frown on her
face. He got up slowly, guessing that she was looking for Jason. "'Scuse
me for a second...." he murmured, and hurried across the Youth Centre to
"Who's that?" Aisha asked curiously.
"Claire Roberts," Kimberly replied. "Jason's gotten pretty close to her
over the past couple of weeks. We think he's told her more about what
happened to him than he's told any of us."
Rocky whistled softly. "That must be pretty damn close." None of the other
rangers replied to that; Rocky had no idea how right he was.
* * *
Claire looked around, then smiled a little as Tommy jogged over to her.
"Looking for Jason?"
"Uh... yeah. D'you know where he is?"
Tommy nodded. "Yeah. I took him home a little while ago. He's okay, don't
Claire tried to smile again, but it didn't quite come off. She was still
worried about Jason after his suicide attempt on Saturday, and she couldn't
hide it. "You saw him all the way in, didn't you? You didn't leave him at
the corner, or anything...?"
Tommy shook his head, starting to frown. "No, of course not. Why, what's
Claire hesitated, then decided to take the risk. "Jason'll probably kill me
for telling you this, but you probably ought to know. He tried to walk in
front of a car on Saturday."
Shock flooded Tommy's face. "He... He tried to kill himself...?"
"Yeah. He was really depressed, didn't think he was good for anything
anymore.... Didn't have any faith in himself at all."
A soft sigh escaped Tommy. "He still feels like that. There's something I
need to tell you, though. Jason's going to testify against Rick
"The guy that kidnapped him?"
"Yeah. The trial starts in a few days. I'm going to be there, but he said
he didn't want any of the others there.... I thought that he might get
through better if you were there."
Claire bit down on her lower lip. Testifying was something that she had not
had the courage to do, and her attacker had gotten off with a painfully
light penalty. The prosecutor had remarked later on that it had been a
miracle they got a conviction at all. If Jason had the courage to get up in
the stand and testify, then surely it meant a better chance at a
conviction, and heavy sentence....
"I'll go and see him after school and talk to him. He may or may not want
"He doesn't want any of the others there," Tommy repeated quietly. "He
doesn't want them to hear all the details."
A grim look flickered across Claire's face. "I can imagine." Tommy stared
at her, frowning a little more. "Can you....?" Claire looked away quickly.
"Can we go somewhere so no one can overhear us?"
Tommy hesitated, then nodded. "Sure. C'mon."
* * *
"What's up?" Tommy asked, feeling strangely uncomfortable. Claire leant
back against a tree, staring at the Youth Centre a short distance away.
"Jason probably will want me at the trial, because he knows that I won't
treat him like everyone else, when they hear what happened to him."
"How d'you mean?" Tommy asked, confused. Claire looked over at him, white
"Tommy, Jason's been talking to me more than you and your friends because I
know what he's going through. I understand more than you'll ever be able
to, because I've been through the same thing myself. I've been kidnapped as
well, and I've been raped."
Tommy's breath caught in his throat as everything crashed into place.
"I...." He faltered, realising he had no idea what to say.
She managed a weak smile. "It's okay. You don't have to get all
sympathetic and whatever on me. I'm doing okay. It happened three and a
half years ago. The thing is, Jason hasn't told me everything that
happened. I know he was raped, but he didn't tell me any of the
Tommy sighed, finally regaining his wits. "Well, if you do come to the
trial, you'll find out. I know I'm not looking forward to hearing any of
it. I told Jase I'd be there, though, and I will. I want to see him laugh
in Rick Daniels' face."
Claire flinched. "Laugh...? Tommy, it'll be all Jason can do if he can
bring himself to look straight at the guy from the stand. If he manages
that, it'll be an achievement in itself. Don't expect too much of him.
It'll only make him fall even harder if things don't work out."
"What d'you mean?"
"I mean that rape cases have one of the worst conviction rates in history.
Especially male rape cases. The guy who raped me pleaded insanity. He got a
five month stay in a first class psychiatric hospital, all expenses paid,
and then he was back out on the streets. It doesn't always work out. There
might be a better chance of sending this guy, Rick Daniels, away with Jason
testifying, but there's no guarantee. Especially if the jury is mostly
male. I'm not saying that other men will automatically acquit a man accused
of rape, but they might find it hard to believe that one man could rape a
17 year old boy."
Tommy started to feel distressed. "They have to convict him, though! They
couldn't let him off.... That'd kill Jason if that happened...."
"He might get convicted, but then again, he might not. I'm just asking you
to be aware. If things go wrong, Jason might be in danger of a complete
breakdown. Defense lawyers in rape cases are notorious for making the
victims feel like they're the ones who did something wrong. Either way,
though, you've gotta be there for him. He needs full support."
Tommy let his breath out in a rush as he understood what Claire was saying.
"Okay, I get you. I'll be right with him. Every step of the way. No matter
which way this thing goes."
Claire smiled faintly and nodded. "So will I."
Angel Grove District Attorney's Office....
It was a stark building, tall and forbidding. Almost like something out of
the old thriller movies, Jason thought, where the murderer chased his
victims around inside the building....
The teen felt a painful twinge of uncertainty as he walked through the
front doors with his father and Tommy. They were going to speak with the
D.A., and to try and be ready for Jason's turn to testify. It was a
terrifying experience for Jason, particularly with the thought of getting
up and giving all the gruesome details of what had happened to him.
"Are you all right, Jason?" Donavon asked his son in concern. "You can
still change your mind about this, you know."
Jason swallowed hard. It would have been nauseatingly easy to simply turn
around and walk out again, and refuse to testify. _and then be scared of
running into rick daniels again for the rest of your life..._ "I'm okay,"
he whispered, keeping his voice low for fear it would crack on him. "Let's
* * *
They were met near the elevator by Sergeant Radley, then taken up to the
District Attorney's office. "He's seeing to this case himself," Radley
explained in a low voice as they approached the office. "He said he wants
top effort to get a conviction."
Jason looked up at Radley, pale faced. "What for? Public points?"
Radley shook his head. "No, Jason. I can guarantee he isn't doing it for
that. Martin Andrews is just about the best man we've ever had as D.A. He
really cares about people, not like the last fool that was here. He wants
to see Rick Daniels incarcerated just as much as you, and for the same
Jason looked away, not responding to the reassurances. "Here we are."
They came to a door marked with Martin Andrews' name, and Radley rapped
firmly on the wood. "Come in," a voice called out, and Radley opened the
door, showing Jason, Tommy and Donavon into the office.
Martin Andrews was a surprisingly indistinctive figure of a man. He was not
very tall, and a pair of glasses with thick lenses served to hide what may
have been very sharp eyes. The man's plain, blue suit did nothing to make
his appearance any more formidable, and Jason couldn't help thinking, with
a feeling of mild alarm, that he was making a tremendous mistake.
The D.A. rose up out of his chair and strode around his desk as Radley
introduced Jason, his father, and Tommy. "I'm pleased to meet you, Jason,"
Andrews said quietly, "and I'm very pleased that you decided to testify.
You're a very brave young man." Jason didn't respond, merely watching
Andrews warily. Andrews motioned to the chairs. "Have a seat, please."
Once they were all seated, Andrews spoke quietly. "As Sergeant Radley would
have explained, the trial is just starting. Now, we can get away with
submitting Jason's name late to give testimony, but before we deal with all
those details, I'd like to hear for myself what happened. If that's all
right with you, Jason?"
Jason hesitated, then spoke tensely. "I just want to know something first.
Is this going to be a closed hearing? I mean, no reporters...?"
Andrews nodded. "Yes, I can promise you that. No reporters will be allowed
into the courtroom. The judge will ban all journalists from entering the
room while you're testifying."
"And I'm going to have to describe everything.... aren't I? Everything that
Andrews nodded once more. "Yes," he said softly. "Do you think you're going
to be able to cope?"
"I'll try," Jason murmured, trying not to panic.
"All right. Now, I'd like you to explain to me just what happened. Right
from the very first incident."
Jason stared at the carpeted floor. The first parts were easy to talk
about. It was the rape that he knew he was likely to gag on. "The first
thing happened when I was coming home from school. It was Thursday
afternoon... Um, a car pulled up beside me and a guy asked me for
directions... to the Youth Centre, I think. I gave them, but then he said
he wasn't good at following directions, and asked could I ride with them. I
said no, and that's when the second guy got out of the car and tried to
grab me. I broke free, and took off. He caught me for a minute and tried to
knock me out with chloroform, but I got away again. They chased me in the
car, and pulled up in from of me. I didn't see it until the last second,
and I fell across the hood. I got away from them again, and squeezed
through a space in a fence. I don't remember much after that."
Andrews nodded understandingly. "All right. Now, can you tell me about the
Jason sighed inwardly and slowly relayed the details of his kidnapping,
describing the mental and emotional torture he'd suffered, as well as the
physical abuse. He described Daniels' constant taunts, that he would never
see his parents again, and that he would die in the basement room. He
described the assaults in a trembling, yet steady voice, first the beating
with the belt buckle, and then having his leg broken with the iron bar.
Then, Jason faltered as he came to the rape. "Take your time, Jason,"
Andrews said softly. "You've got plenty of time."
Jason stared intently at the carpet. _go cold.... just say it, but don't
think it. just go cold...._
Very slowly, with frightening intensity, Jason began to describe the sexual
abuse and the rape, in details that even Donavon had not heard. He spoke in
almost monotone, as though he had completely detached himself from the
incident and was another person entirely.
Donavon shut his eyes as he listened to the terrible details. Jason had
only given him a very basic outline of what had gone on, he realised, and
the whole truth was coming out now. A thought occurred to him, and he
looked across to where Tommy was sitting. The teen had gone white faced,
and looked as though he was about to faint.
He was staring straight ahead, and not even glancing at Jason. His jaw was
locked shut, and a rage burned in his eyes unlike anything Donavon had ever
seen before. _he never even thought it would be this bad..._ Donavon
thought dimly. _i never thought it could be this bad._ He shuddered
involuntarily. _thank god i made sarah stay at home...._
Tommy was aware that Jason's father had been watching him, but still he did
not dare to move. He was afraid, mortally afraid, that Jason would see the
rage on his face, and think it was directed at him.... _god, how could
someone do all that....?_ He shut his eyes tightly, but it was a useless
gesture against the tears. _if only i'd walked with him that day.... or
made him wait and call his dad.... i could have prevented it all from
happening...._ He held his arms tightly across his stomach, wishing he
could simply block out Jason's voice. He was going to be sick....
Jason finally stopped talking, to everyone's relief. Tears were streaming
down the boy's face, and he dared not look up at any of them. After a long
moment, Andrews spoke quietly, placing a gentle hand on Jason's
"If you can repeat all of that in court, Jason, I think we can pretty much
guarantee a conviction."
Jason barely even heard him speak. Something else rose distinct in his
mind, something that he couldn't get past. "I didn't fight him...."
"What?" Radley asked, when no one else spoke.
Jason finally looked up, and the shame in the teen's face was almost more
than any of them could bear. "When Daniels did all of that to me... He
untied me and everything, but I didn't fight him. You can't tell me a
defense lawyer wouldn't jump on that. They... they'll think I wanted it to
"Did you even try to fight?" Andrews asked quietly.
Jason brushed the back of one hand over his eyes. "I don't know. I don't
know anything anymore. Maybe I did.... I think I did.... But I couldn't
move! Maybe I was too scared.... I don't know."
He trailed off, hopelessly confused. Andrews looked across to Radley for
help, and Radley stepped forward. "Jason, there's a very good reason why
you couldn't fight Daniels. We have to present forensic evidence at the
trial, and part of the evidence that we have are medical tests that
revealed a great deal of muscle relaxant drugs in your system."
"Muscle relaxants...?" Jason echoed, dazed.
Radley nodded. "That's right." He looked to Donavon. "Weren't you and your
"No," Donavon said in a tight voice. "We were not told."
Radley sighed. "Well, a lot of pain might have been avoided if you were
told." He crouched down in front of Jason. "Listen to me, Jason. Rick
Daniels doped you up with so much muscle relaxant that you couldn't have
moved so much as an inch on your own. It wasn't that you didn't fight
Daniels; you couldn't have fought him. D'you understand?"
Jason swallowed hard, realisation beginning to dawn. "He... He fed me
twice.... The second time I wouldn't take it, so he called his brother down
to force me to eat.... He said he didn't care if I did get sick, that I had
to eat it...."
"Well," Andrews concluded softly, "I'd say Mr Daniels probably buried the
relaxants in the food. You don't have to worry, Jason. The forensic
evidence will have already been given by Sergeant Radley by the time you
get to the stand. Not fighting Rick Daniels will not be an issue."
Jason looked away. "Fine. I just want this to be over as soon as possible."
Andrews nodded. "It will be. I promise."
* * *
"You're going to be fine, Jason," Donavon said quietly as he, Jason and
Tommy sat in a small cafe that afternoon. Jason didn't reply, but continued
to stare miserably at the tabletop.
A moment passed, and then Tommy spoke. "Jase... I spoke to Claire. I told
her about you going to court..."
Jason looked up at Tommy slowly. "And?"
"She said she'd be there, if you wanted her to be."
Jason looked away again, torn. He did want her there, for the support...
but how could he expect her to listen to the details of his nightmare, and
possibly cause her to relive her own...? "She doesn't have to," he
muttered, sounding more sullen than he intended.
"I don't think it was a matter of having to be there," Tommy said. "I think
she wants to be there. She said it was up to you, though. She won't go if
you don't want her to."
Jason bit down on his lower lip, fighting back the tears. "I do want her
there..." he admitted finally. "I just don't want to put her through
Tommy hesitated, then sat back a little. "I'll tell her to come."
Donavon waited a moment, then was about to call for the bill when Jason
spoke in a trembling voice. "You know, it might not make any
"How do you mean?" Donavon asked, feeling a touch of concern. "I mean if
Rick Daniels goes to jail. How much difference is it going to make? It
still happened. I'm still going to be too scared to go anywhere by myself.
Too much of a coward...."
"You're not a coward, Jason," Tommy growled fiercely. "You've gotten
further than a lot of people would have, and you know it."
"Tommy's right, son," Donavon said softly. "It taking you a lot of courage
to do what you're doing. If you get through this, I think you'll find
you'll be able to start doing more for yourself."
Jason shut his eyes, but it did nothing to stop the tears. "I just feel so
damned useless... I'm no good to anybody!"
Tommy looked helplessly at Donavon, who merely stared back, unable to say
anything to counter Jason's depression. There was nothing they could say at
all. Fighting back a sigh, Tommy slumped down in the chair, hoping that the
trial would be over soon, and Jason could start getting his life back
* * *
For a brief while, Claire half imagined that she was on her way to the
trial of the man who had kidnapped and raped her, and that it would be her
to get up to the stand. But, no. She had lost her chance long ago, and now
it was Jason's turn.
She sighed softly as she headed into the court with her father, pushing
their way through a small crowd of journalists that were gathering. She
supposed Jason was already in the court, probably talking with D.A.
somewhere, and she hoped he'd managed to avoid the press. It was the news
of the day, of course, for how often did a kidnapping and rape case go to
court in Angel Grove? The hottest news around town was usually what monster
attacked during the week....
"You okay, honey?" her father asked, and she nodded, not bothering to try
"I guess so. I think I'm getting sympathy pains, though. Jason must be so
Ted Roberts gave Claire a quick hug. "Everything will be fine, I'm sure of
it. Jason's a very brave young man simply for doing this."
Claire cringed. "It's something I was too much of a coward to do."
"That wasn't being a coward," Ted admonished, "and you know it. Don't put
yourself down, Claire. You didn't have the support back then that Jason has
had, and I'm afraid your mother and I weren't much help."
Claire shrugged a little. "It's okay. I got by. Look, there's Tommy..."
Tommy had seen them come in, and hurried over to meet them. "Hi, Claire,"
he said softly.
Claire quickly introduced her father, and then they began to walk down the
long corridor toward the courtroom.
"Jason's with the D.A. and the prosecutor right now," Tommy told them. "He
went through all the interview stuff about a week ago, but they wanted to
check some details with him, and just make sure he's okay."
Claire spared Tommy a concerned look. "Is he okay?"
A moment of silence passed, and then Tommy sighed. "Probably not. He's not
really happy about doing this, but he won't back down. I just hope he
doesn't freeze up when he gets to the stand."
"He won't," Claire murmured, more to herself than to Tommy. "I'm sure he
won't. He might even find the courage to look Rick Daniels in the eye."
"Then maybe he can forget about all this and get on with his life," Tommy
Ted Roberts looked at Claire, startled and a little horrified, but Claire
only gave a slight shake of her head. Tommy didn't really understand, nor
could they ever expect him to.
They reached the courtroom, and were immediately ushered in to a seat
somewhere in the middle. The jury, Claire noted grimly, was almost entirely
male. That could be good, or bad, she didn't know. If it had been a girl
who had been raped, it could be bad, but who knew...?
Jason came in soon after and sat a short distance away from them, with his
father at his side. The D.A. was with them as well, speaking occasionally
to Jason in a low voice. The teen was pale, but seemed sure. However, it
was clear he was looking everywhere but in the direction of Rick
Then, just before the doors were closed, another teen entered the
courtroom, flanked by two adults. Tommy looked around discreetly, and felt
his stomach do a back flip. Although he had never seen the boy before, he
knew it was Ben Daniels, the son of the man who had kidnapped and raped
Tommy fought back a groan, and hoped to God that Ben was supposed to
testify ahead of Jason. His hopes were soon smashed when, after the
formalities had been passed, Jason was called to the stand by the
* * *
Jason got up slowly, forcing himself to focus solely on the witness stand.
To reach it, he would have to pass by Rick Daniels, and right then he knew
could not bear to even glance at him. Also, he did not want to catch the
eye of the teenager who had come in last. It was Rick Daniels' son, he was
sure. The boy who had told the police where he was. He was grateful to Ben
for that, but still could not bring himself to face him, either.
He reached the stand almost without realising it, and move into the witness
box to swear on the bible. He did so, and was finally able to sit down
again. A good thing, because he wasn't sure he could have remained standing
for very long.
"Could you please state your full name for the court?" the prosecutor
asked, and Jason replied in a voice that seemed to tremble just
"Jason Lee Scott."
"All right. We're going to start at the beginning, Jason. I want you to
tell the court about the first incident."
Jason shut his eyes for a moment, then spoke as clearly as he was able,
describing the first kidnap attempt in as much detail as he could recall.
The Prosecutor listened carefully, then spoke once Jason had finished.
"You breathed in a lot of chloroform, didn't you?"
"I guess so," Jason replied nervously.
"Then, how would you be able to remember all of that?" Jason drew in a deep
breath. He had been warned that the Prosecutor would ask him questions like
that, to take the heat off him when the Defense Lawyer was given the chance
to cross examine.
"I've always had pretty good recall ability. It's like I've got a
photographic memory. I guess the chloroform didn't affect that."
The Prosecutor nodded. "All right. Now we're going to go to the next
incident, to when you were kidnapped. Can you tell the court what
Again Jason went on to explain what had happened, as near as he could
recall, in as much detail as he could. "...Then one of them shoved a rag
or something in my face, and I passed out," he finished.
"And when you woke up, where were you?"
"I wasn't sure where I was. I think it was some sort of basement room, or
something. It was just a little square room with concrete walls and floor.
I guess the door was locked, but I was tied up, and I couldn't do anything
"Do you know how long you were in the room before anyone came?"
"A few hours," Jason answered quietly. "Maybe longer. I don't know how long
I was unconscious for."
"And what happened when someone did finally come?" "He... The man... said a
few things to me, like how did I like my new home, and to get comfortable,
'cause I was going to be there for a long time. He... He was almost
laughing when he said it."
The prosecutor nodded understandingly. "All right, Jason. Tell me, what
other sorts of things were said to you while you were in that room?"
Jason felt his stomach tighten as he wondered when he would have to talk
about the rape. He clenched his fists in his lap and made himself speak.
"He kept saying things like I was never gonna see my mum and dad again, and
I was never gonna see daylight again. He said he was gonna make sure I died
in that room...."
Jason's voice cracked a little, and tears filled his eyes as he recalled
the taunts he had suffered.
The prosecutor waited a moment, then went on quietly. "What else happened
to you, Jason? Were you beaten at all? Forced to do anything?"
Jason drew in a slow, deep breath. They were getting closer... Slowly, he
went on to describe the humiliation he'd suffered, having to allow Rick
Daniels to feed him like a baby, and then being forced to eat the second
lot later on. He described his attempts to gain attention by kicking the
door, and the result being the beating with the belt buckle, and then
having his leg broken. He described everything, but halted when he came to
the sexual assault.
The prosecutor hesitated, then realised he would need to gently goad Jason
through the next bit. It had been expected, of course, and he was ready for
it. "Did anything else happen while you were in that room, Jason? Can you
tell me what happened?"
Jason shut his eyes against the tears that were building up. All of a
sudden, he didn't think he could go through with it....
When nearly a minute had passed, the Defense Lawyer stood up. "Objection,
Your Honour! If the witness can't answer the questions, then he should be
The judge spared the lawyer a cool look of reproach. "Overruled, Mr
Johnson. I would have expected you to have more patience than that." He
turned to where Jason sat, trying to gather his courage. "Take your time,
Jason. There's no hurry."
Jason heard the judge's kind words, and felt a touch of relief and courage
fill him. Drawing in another deep breath, he began to speak, haltingly
describing in as much detail as he could, what had happened on that last
day of his captivity.
* * *
In the body of the courtroom, Tommy shut his eyes as he once again heard
the terrible details of the assault and rape, details that he did not care
to hear even once, let alone twice over. He spared a glance at Claire, and
saw tears rolling down her cheeks as she sympathised with Jason, and what
he'd been through.
_oh, jase_ he thought with infinite sadness. _please, God, let him get
He lowered his gaze to the floor and waited anxiously for Jason to finish
* * *
Further down, closer to the front, Ben Daniels listened in mute horror as
Jason slowly, painfully went over the worst details of his kidnapping. He
could not believe his father had done all of that, could not believe he had
consciously, willfully raped another boy. Nausea flooded the teen's
stomach, and for a long moment, he thought he was going to throw up.
On either side of him, his aunt and uncle shifted uncomfortably, and
finally his uncle spoke to him in a soft whisper. "Ben, are you all
Ben felt his eyes flood with tears. "I can't believe he'd do all that..."
he whispered. All of a sudden, he was blinded by tears. "How could he? How
His aunt's arm fell across his shoulders, and she hugged him close.
* * *
After what felt like an eternity, Jason finished telling about the rape.
The prosecutor asked a few more simple questions, and then came the one
that could either make or break both the case and Jason. "Jason, can you
identify the man who did all of that to you?"
Jason's heart started to pound. This was something that had somehow been
overlooked, and for some reason it hadn't even occurred to him. He was
going to have to identify Rick Daniels. He'd have to look at him to do
"Jason, can you identify him?" the prosecutor asked a second time. Jason
shut his eyes, and spoke in a trembling voice.
"Yes, I can."
"Is he in this court room?"
"Yes, he is."
"And can you please point him out to the jury?" Jason sat frozen, not
moving. All of a sudden, the horror of describing the rape seemed
insignificant to this....
"Jason, can you point him out?"
There was an urgency in the prosecutor's voice that Jason couldn't ignore,
and he realised dimly that if he didn't point out Daniels to the jury, the
case would be blown. Forget all the evidence the police had gathered; if he
didn't identify Daniels in court, he knew there would be no conviction.
Slowly, he opened his eyes and forced himself to lift one hand. Then, as
though caught up in a slow motion nightmare, he turned his head and made
himself focus on Rick Daniels.
His hand froze halfway into the air. Rick Daniels sat at the defense desk,
smiling at him. In that instant, Jason's courage all but broke and he very
nearly lost control of his fear.
_do it!_ a voice yelled at him, inside his mind. _hurry up and do it, and
then you'll never have to look at him again..._
"That's him, there," Jason said, his voice cracking with fear. His hand
dropped, and he started to turn his face away, but not before he saw
Daniels wink at him. He slumped down in the seat a little, his breath
coming in short, rapid gasps.
The movement had not gone unnoticed by anyone else, though, and the judge
slammed his gavel down hard on the bench.
"Mr Daniels, that is not acceptable in this courtroom! I'm placing you in
contempt of court!"
Daniels didn't protest. As far as he was concerned, Jason's panicked
reaction was worth the charge.
The prosecutor waited a moment longer, then stepped back. "I have no more
questions, Your Honour."
The judge looked across the room. "Would you care to cross examine, Mr
Johnson rose up slowly. "Yes, Your Honour, I would." He approached the
witness box slowly, not taking his eyes off Jason, trying to intimidate
him. It worked, for Jason shrunk down in his seat even more, as though
trying to escape the lawyer.
Johnson allowed himself the hint of a smile, then spoke quietly to the
teen. "Jason.... You're a very athletic young man, aren't you? Into
martial arts, and all of that?"
Jason felt his stomach rolling as he wondered where it could be leading.
"I... guess so...."
"You guess so? Could you be more specific, please? For the court...."
Pain shone in Jason's eyes. "I used to be. I don't do it very much anymore.
I'm not up to it."
Johnson nodded thoughtfully. "Perfectly understandable. But you were very
heavily into the martial arts before this... unpleasant little episode. Am
"So you would have been more than capable of defending yourself against any
attack, either physical or otherwise?"
Jason faltered, panic suddenly threatening. If this was headed where he
thought it was.... "For.... For the most part...."
"For the most part. Interesting...."
"Objection!" the prosecutor called out, standing up. "Where is this
"Overruled," the judge answered grimly. "Go on, Mr Johnson."
Johnson nodded patiently. "Thank you. Jason, you claim that when my client
raped you, he first untied you. Is that correct?"
Jason felt the panic rising. He had been told that wouldn't be an issue....
"Yes," he managed to croak out. "He did."
"And you just lay there? You didn't struggle, didn't fight, didn't do
anything! Jason, that would indicate consensual sex...."
"Objection!" the prosecutor roared. "Your Honour, it has already been
established in the forensic evidence that Jason was overdosed with muscle
relaxants! He was physically incapable of struggling!"
"Sustained," the judge growled.
"I withdraw the statement," Johnson replied, smiling inwardly. It had
already had the desired effect, and tears were now rolling down Jason's
cheeks. Apparently he had doubts as to his own innocence....
"I have no more questions, Your Honour," Johnson said dismissively.
The judge nodded, and seemed relieved by it. "Very well. You can step down,
Jason rose up on unsteady legs, and made his way out of the witness box and
back into the body of the court room. He didn't stop, though, but rather
kept going, pushing his way straight out of the court room. A moment later,
Donavon, the D.A., Claire and Ted Roberts and Tommy Oliver all hurried out
* * *
They found Jason sitting on a nearby bench, sobbing helplessly into his
hands. Donavon reached him first and put his arms around the boy in a
protective embrace. "It's all right, Jason," he murmured. "It's okay. It's
"You did extremely well," the D.A. said in a quiet voice. Jason sobbed
heavily into his father's shoulder, clinging to him like a child.
"He smiled at me...." he wailed, his voice muffled by Donavon's shirt. A
long silence followed, and then Claire dropped down onto the bench on the
other side of Jason.
"Rick Daniels...." Jason sobbed. "He smiled at me when I looked at him....
and then he winked at me...."
Another long silence followed, and then Claire put her arms around Jason
from the other side. "It'll be okay," she whispered, hugging him as
tightly as she could. "Have some faith, Jason...."
Jason didn't reply, but continued to cry into his father's shoulder for a
* * *
That night, Sarah saw her son to bed, and had to struggle to hide her own
pain when he begged her not to leave him alone.
"Sweetheart, I'll be just in the family room with your father. Neither of
us will leave the house, I swear."
"Don't leave me..." Jason begged her, though, reaching out desperately for
her hand. Sarah eventually gave in, unable to resist the tears he was
"Did Dad tell you everything?" he asked softly as she sat down on the edge
of the bed.
"Not all of it," she admitted. "Jason, I think you're very brave to have
gone through that. Don't expect anymore of yourself just yet, all right?
Let's just take one step at a time."
Jason nodded, happy with that for the time being.
Two weeks later....
Alex Carter turned on the radio late that morning, and flopped down in his
armchair, taking a moment to relax in his office at the Kingston Institute.
Some good had finally come of the Scott case, he reflected wearily, in that
the jury, after eighteen hours of deliberation, had eventually drawn a
guilty verdict, on all charges. That, he knew, had been some relief to the
parents, but Jason was still awaiting the sentencing to see how worthwhile
his efforts had really been.
Carter shut his eyes and leaned back in his chair. He hoped that that Jason
wasn't expecting too much; rape cases were notorious for letting the
offender off lightly....
".... And this just in.... Judge Turner has just delivered the sentencing
in the case of The People vs. Rick Daniels....."
Carter sat up quickly, his breath catching in his throat, and he found
himself hoping insanely for a heavy sentence.
"...In a court scene today that almost turned into a riot, convicted
kidnapper and rapist Rick Daniels was given a six year suspended sentence,
and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine..."
Carter shut his eyes, his heart sinking. A suspended sentence, which meant
Daniels would be out on the streets...
"...Judge Turner claimed Daniels had shown remorse for his crimes upon his
conviction, and could not legitimately impose a heavier sentence.
Conditions are being set for the suspended sentence, one of which being
that Daniels will not be allowed within a thousand yards of his victim..."
The story swept over Carter's head. He had seen this happen before, and he
knew what Jason's reaction would be. Feeling upset but knowing he could do
nothing about it, he picked up the phone and spoke tiredly into the
"Janine, get a hold of Adrian and Mark, and have them meet me at the car.
Then, find Sam and have her fix up the linen and everything in room 238,
and make sure the restraints are fixed in properly. We'll be bringing Jason
Scott in this afternoon, and he won't be happy about it."
"Yes sir, right away."
"And put me through to Andrew."
A moment later, the line was connected, and a new voice spoke. "Andrew
"Andrew, it's Alex. I just wanted to let you know that I'm going to get
Jason Scott this afternoon."
A long moment of silence passed, and then Davis spoke again. "You heard the
news about Daniels, then?"
"Yes. I knew it wouldn't be great, but I'd hoped that he would have at
least gotten a jail term."
"So now you're putting the court order in practise?"
"Yes. I don't like to, but I don't see that I have a choice. I know for
certain that the boy is unstable, and he has definite suicidal tendencies.
I can't leave him where he is, knowing he could do serious harm to himself,
or someone else."
"Okay. Just be careful with what you say to the parents. They're not going
to like hearing your opinion that their son is a walking time bomb."
"I will," Carter reassured his colleague. "Trust me." Both men hung up,
then, and Carter sat back for a moment, staring grimly at the wall. He
hated to have to do it, but he believed it had become necessary. Unless
Jason could prove to him that afternoon that he could cope with the
decision that had been passed down, then he would be coming to stay at
Kingston, and quite possibly for a long while.