All the usual disclaimers, plus: Michael, Melanie,
Scott and Alex Oliver are not mine, I got them from April. Donavon and
Sarah Scott are my creation.
This story contains drug use, and an attempted suicide. I don't know what it would be rated...(Considering the material on TV these days, probably PG...) But this isn't exactly a 'happy-go-lucky kid's story'. Be warned....
It had started out as the perfect day. Angel Grove was covered in a
thick layer of snow, and the lake was frozen over completely. There were
snow fights happening everywhere, and snowmen were being built on every
It was the first real winter day of Angel Grove, especially because the town had never experienced a cold spell like the one it had now. Never before, in the history of the town, had it snowed, or had the lake frozen over. It was such a novelty that the schools had given their students the day off from school.
Everyone was enjoying the icy winter day. Everyone, except one....
* * *
Jason Scott had been walking with Tanya Sloan, making their way across the frozen lake while their friends had a snow war just out of sight beyond the pine trees. They had opted out, preferring to check out the wonder of the frozen water. Neither one knew much about ice, though, especially frozen lakes. Both came from constantly warm climates, and as such had no idea when or where it was safe to walk on frozen ice.
Tanya was ahead of Jason when it happened. There was a sudden cracking sound which caused them both to freeze, and Tanya looked back at Jason in worry.
"Jason, did you hear that?"
"I heard," Jason said. "Don't move...."
She didn't, until they heard a second cracking sound. In a sudden rush of fear, Tanya started back towards Jason. It was mistake, and she screamed as the ice gave way beneath her, sending her plummeting into the freezing waters.
* * *
Nearby, the Power Rangers froze at the sound of the scream, looking around in shock.
"That sounded like Tanya...." Adam said, suddenly hoarse with fear for his girlfriend.
Tommy broke into a run through the knee deep snow, with the others close behind. "C'mon!" he yelled, unnecessarily. "Let's go!"
* * *
Tanya struggled to keep her head above the water level, trying not to think about the icy water that was freezing her through her clothes. Much longer, and she would be too cold to stay afloat.... Her gaze fell on someone who was standing nearby, staring at her without moving. Jason....
"Jason..." Tanya choked out pleadingly, not knowing why he made no move to help her. "Please..." She grabbed at the edge of the ice, but it was too slippery, and she couldn't hang on. She sank beneath the surface of the water, her last image being that of Jason, standing nearby and not doing a single thing.
* * *
Tommy made it to the ice ahead of the others, and raced out onto the lake. "Jason...?"
Jason didn't respond to Tommy's voice, he just continued to stand there, staring at the place where Tanya had been. Tommy stared at Jason in confusion for a long moment before dropping to his knees and edging out to the hole in the ice.
"What's happened?" Adam yelled.
"Tanya went through the ice!" Tommy answered. "Don't come out here! The ice is too thin. It'll give way!"
He turned his attention quickly back to the hole, which was already starting to reseal itself. Peering in, he saw that Tanya was just below the surface. At least, he hoped she was. Water could be deceptive....
Gritting his teeth, he plunged his arm into the water and grabbed the first thing that his gloved fingers came into contact with. Tanya's hair.... Silently apologizing for the indignity, he grabbed hold and pulled her back up. Getting her out of the water with a small amount of difficulty, Tommy pulled her back to safety, to the safer, more solid ice.
"Rocky, you're the fastest," Tommy said breathlessly. "Go and call an ambulance, quick."
Rocky went to do as he'd been told. Tommy then looked back to Tanya. "She's breathing, thank God... Let's try and warm her up..."
He trailed off, looking up at Jason. The former Gold Ranger was still just standing there, staring at the hole in the ice, almost as though he was in a trance. Tommy felt a stab of anger. "Jase! Wake up! We could do with some help over here!"
Jason slowly shook himself back to reality, then stumbled over to where they all crouched around Tanya's still form.
Tommy glared at his friend. "What the hell was with you? You could have gotten her out of there straight away!"
Jason merely shook his head, unable to answer. Kat and Adam both backed up Tommy with angry glares of their own. "She could have drowned, Jason," Adam growled, frightened that he had nearly lost his girlfriend.
Kat nodded. "Yeah. You just stood there like an idiot!" Jason looked distressed, but still made no attempt to explain himself.
Tommy sighed. "Let's just worry about Tanya, now." He glowered at Jason. "I'll talk to you later."
Angel Grove Memorial Hospital....
Tommy waited in silence until Tanya's parents had arrived and had been taken through to their daughter. Then, he turned to confront Jason. "Okay, spill it. Why'd you freeze up?"
Jason looked up at Tommy wordlessly, and the haunted look in his eyes was frightening. Tommy fought back a shudder. "C'mon, Jase. Tanya could have died! If she hadn't screamed, we wouldn't have known anything was wrong."
Kat, Adam and Rocky joined in to back Tommy up. "Maybe he did it on purpose," Kat snapped. "He definitely wasn't doing anything to help her."
Distress flooded Jason's face, and he finally spoke. "No, that's not true...."
"Then what happened?" Tommy demanded. "Dammit, Jase, you were practically letting her drown!"
Still, Jason could give no explanation. Adam spared the former Gold Ranger with a look of disgust. "I thought you were supposed to be our friend."
"I am...." Jason protested.
"Yeah? Well, it sure didn't seem like it today." Turning, Adam stalked off, not saying another word. A moment later, the others followed, leaving Jason completely alone.
* * *
When Mr. Sloan finally came out and invited the Rangers to come and see Tanya, Jason didn't go. Not that he hadn't been intending to, of course. He had started forward, with the rest of them, but had stopped when both Kat and Adam spared him evil looks. He had backed off, sensing his presence would be unwelcome. As a result, Jason was the only one in the waiting room when the rest of the parents arrived.
The Scotts approached their son, feeling a touch of concern. "Jason?" Donavon Scott asked softly.
Jason looked up, saw his parents, then stood up. "Let's go."
Sarah and Donavon looked at one another worriedly. "Is everything okay?" Sarah asked.
Jason nodded, keeping his expression neutral. "Yeah. Tanya's gonna be fine. Let's go."
He walked out the door before anyone had a chance to say anything else.
* * *
Silence reigned for nearly the entire trip home. Both Donavon and Sarah made token efforts to talk to their son, but nothing worked, and he remained cloaked in silence until they got home. It was just as they pulled into the drive that Donavon finally saw the tears that were spilling down Jason's cheeks. He turned around to his son in concern. "Jason, what is it?"
"It's my fault..." Jason choked out, wiping uselessly at the tears. "I nearly let her drown.... I just stood there and didn't do anything.... And now they all hate me...."
Donavon and Sarah exchanged dismayed looks. Not again.... "C'mon, son," Donavon said softly. "Lets go inside."
* * *
Minutes later, the three Scotts sat in the family room, in front of the open fire. "All right," Donavon said, from where he sat next to Jason on the sofa. "What happened?"
"The... The same as before..." Jason sobbed. "T... Tanya went through the ice... I just f... froze... She nearly drowned... I d... didn't do a... anything.... Just like C... Caitlin...."
Donavon moaned softly. "Son, that wasn't your fault...."
"Now," Jason whimpered, "they hate m... me... Like you hated me for l... letting C... Caitlin die..."
Donavon and Sarah both froze, staring at their only child in shock. Finally, Sarah regained her wits enough to speak. "Is that what you think? That we hate you because Caitlin drowned? Oh, my poor baby...."
Donavon pulled Jason to him in a tight embrace. "Jason, we don't hate you. We never hated you. Why would you think that?"
"Y... You said... it was my fault..." Jason sobbed.
Donavon shrugged helplessly when Sarah gave him an accusing look. He stood up, pulling Jason gently to his feet. "C'mon, I'll put you to bed, and we can talk about it in the morning, when you aren't so upset."
Jason went without protest, too stricken to put up a fight. It was as Donavon was coming back to the family room, that the memory struck him. It was in the hospital at the bottom of the mountains, he recalled. The doctors had just pronounced Caitlin as dead, and Sarah was still in the room with their little girl. Donavon went out to talk to their son, Caitlin's twin brother.
Jason, only six years old at the time, was sitting in stricken silence in the waiting room. There had been no one else there at the time, probably a catalyst for what had followed.
"Is she gonna be okay?" Jason had asked, his voice trembling. Donavon had regarded the little boy with a cold look that had no sympathy.
"She's dead, Jason."
The little boy had been on the verge of tears when his father spoke again. "Don't cry. Don't you dare cry."
Jason stared at his father in distress. Donavon spoke in a harsh tone that he later realised should never have used on his vulnerable son. "You know you're responsible for this, don't you? Caitlin would never have gone out on the ice. Why did you drag her out there?"
Jason had been confused and greatly upset, for the truth was that it had been Caitlin's idea to disobey their parents and go out onto the ice. He tried to say so, but his father refused to listen.
"I don't believe you, Jason. And now, you have to live with knowing it's your fault that your sister is dead. Do you understand that, Jason? It is your fault!"
He'd stalked away, muttering angry curses under his breath, leaving a six year-old child to cope with the accusation that he was responsible for his twin sister's death....
"Oh, Christ..." Donavon whispered as he remembered the terrible scene. If Jason had lived with that guilt all this time....
He looked around as Sarah came out into the hallway, then caught hold of her arm and took her through into the kitchen. "Jason was right, Sarah. I did blame him." He went on to tell her in a grim voice what he had said to Jason so many years ago. Sarah listened in cold silence, waiting until he was finished before speaking.
"You bastard. Jason was only six! How could you say something like that to a six year-old child?"
"I was angry and upset," Donavon said, shaking his head. "I wasn't thinking clearly..."
"That is no excuse. You're supposed to be a psychiatrist, for God's sake!"
Donavon felt his patience start to thin. "And you can look me in the eye and tell me you wouldn't have been equally angry?"
"I would like to think so," Sarah snapped. "But from the way you're talking now, I'd be inclined to think you still blame Jason for Caitlin's death!"
Donavon didn't reply to that. He couldn't. Sarah saw the truth in his eyes, and her own patience finally ran out.
"You self-righteous, egotistical bastard!" she exploded, her voice rising quickly to a shout. "What gives you the right to pass judgment like that?"
"Are you so damn holy?" Donavon yelled back, as all the suppressed bitterness and anger began to rise quickly to the surface. "Yes, maybe I do still blame him a little. I'm sorry, I can't help that! I'm not perfect, but apparently you are!"
Sarah replied to that in slapping him hard across the face. "I'm going out," she snarled. "Don't wait up for me."
She turned and stormed out of the house, driving off in the family car as fast as humanly possible. Donavon waited until the noise of the engine faded, then collected the keys to his own car and also left the house in a rage.
* * *
Jason lay in bed, silent except for the sobs that he fought to suppress. He didn't move, even after he knew both his parents had left the house. He continued to lie in bed, and eventually cried himself to sleep.
* * *
Over the next few days, Jason found himself literally caught between a rock and a hard place. His home situation had rapidly become intolerable. His parents, when they weren't screaming at each other, dwelt in an unbearable silence. They didn't listen to his pleas for peace when they fought, nor heard his appeal for calm talking when silence reigned.
The situation with his friends was even less tolerable. They either avoided him, or treated him with scathing comments about his nearly letting Tanya drown. That, topped off by the renewed feelings of guilt and self- hatred, drove Jason right to breaking point until he was ready to snap.
* * *
Jason headed slowly home, after another terrible day at school. He couldn't cope with the rejection for much longer, he was at the edge of sanity as it was. He saw the Rangers a short distance away, and tried to avoid them, not caring for a confrontation, but it was pointless. Kat, who had dealt out most of the abuse, spoke loudly. "Look, everyone. It's the traitor!"
Jason drew in a pained breath. He couldn't take anymore of this... Tommy, seeing the strain on Jason's face, caught hold of Kat's arm. "Drop it, Kat. Leave him alone."
"Leave him alone?" she echoed. "After he nearly killed Tanya?"
Tanya saw Jason cringe, and stepped in. "Kat, stop it. It was an accident. We were taken by surprise."
"I won't stop it," Kat hissed. "He never even tried to explain why he froze up."
"We all freeze up every once in a while," Tommy insisted. "It was just... bad timing."
"Well, one thing's for sure," Kat retorted, "it's a good thing he isn't a Ranger anymore. I wouldn't trust him with a cardboard cat."
Hurt filled Jason's eyes, but he didn't argue. Completely broken, he turned to walk away, but Tanya went after him. "Jason, wait. Look at me."
The former Gold Ranger looked reluctantly at Tanya, tears shining in his eyes. Tanya swallowed hard, then spoke softly. "Jason, I just want to know why you didn't help me. I know you, I know you wouldn't freeze up like that. Not without a reason. Can't you tell me?"
He couldn't though, and Tanya fell back, unable to come to any conclusion other than there was no valid reason. Jason saw the acceptance in Tanya's eyes of what the others were accusing him of, and felt the last of his reason crumble. Heartbroken and alone, Jason turned and trudged away from the teenagers who had once been his friends.
* * *
Jason came home to the now-familiar sound his parents fighting, but this time it barely registered in his tormented mind. He went straight into his room and lay down on his bed, shutting his eyes and letting himself go cold. Later, when his parents stormed out of the house (as they inevitably would), he would go into the bathroom and take care of business. That was what he would do.
The thought was distant, only registering deep in his subconscious. He drew in a slow, deep breath, and fell into a distressed sleep.
* * *
He awoke to a silent house. Rising up, he meticulously checked every room, and then the garage. As he had expected, the house was empty, save for himself. He walked slowly into the bathroom that he shared with his parents, and opened the mirror to reveal the medicine cabinet.
Rummaging carelessly through the contents, he soon found what he needed. Three medicine bottles that his mother had bought recently, all unopened. One, he knew, was pain-killers. He didn't know what the other two were.
He didn't care. He pulled the cap off the first bottle, and emptied the contents into his palm. Fifty pain-killers, in capsule form. Easy to swallow, he thought numbly. Rinsing his mouth out with water first, he then swallowed the capsules, a few at a time until there were none left.
Then, letting the bottle drop to the floor, he opened the next and did the same.
By the time he got to the third bottle, the cocktail overdose of drugs was starting to affect him. His head was starting to spin, and his stomach was rolling. He managed to swallow nearly three quarters of the contents of the third bottle when his world faded to black.
* * *
Donavon and Sarah Scott arrived home at the same time, and both stormed into the house, neither one speaking to the other. It wasn't until Sarah stalked into the bathroom and nearly tripped over her unconscious son that the communication barriers began to break down.
Sarah froze, steadying herself on the basin as she stared down at Jason in shock and horror. At first, she thought he must have slipped and knocked himself out. Then, she saw the pill bottles lying near him on the floor.
"Donavon!" Sarah screamed, going down on her knees next to Jason. "Donavon, get in here!"
Donavon ran to the door, and looked in. "Hell... What happened?" Sarah pointed at the bottles, trying to stay calm. Donavon reached out and grabbed the nearest two bottles. "Anodyne... Codeine.... Christ, he's overdosed on these. Sarah, go and call an ambulance, now. Tell them it's an emergency."
"What are you...?"
"I'm going to try and wake him up. Go."
She went, and Donavon turned his attention back to waking his son up.
* * *
Michael Oliver was enjoying a Western with his family when the phone rang. Frowning a little, he reached across and picked it up. "Hello? ...Oh, hello, Sergeant. This had better be good. I'm with my family." There was a long moment of silence, and then. "Oh, shit."
Melanie, Tommy, Alex and Scott all looked around at their father incredulously. Michael got up and signaled Tommy to turn the television down.
"Okay, calm down. When did it happen? ....They don't have any idea how long it had been? Damn.... No, I'm grateful you called me, and not that idiot Kahn. Are they at the hospital now? ....Well, has there been any word? ....I see. What did he take? Shit... Yes. That's bad. Look, keep a lid on it for the moment. If he's screwed up enough to do this, then he doesn't need a pack of story-hungry reporters fighting over him. Yes, I would appreciate it, and I'm sure his parents would, as well. Thank you. Yes, I'll meet you there."
Michael hung up, and looked around to see his family watching him, the Western forgotten. "Who was that?" Tommy asked finally.
Michael hesitated, then spoke softly. "What I'm going to tell all of you stays in this room. You understand me? As soon as I tell you, you forget it. I don't want anyone else to know."
"Sure," Tommy said. "What is it?"
"Donavon and Sarah Scott got home tonight to find Jason unconscious in the bathroom."
Tommy was on his feet in an instant. "He fell? Is he all right?"
"He didn't fall, and he's not all right. Tommy, Jason overdosed on a cocktail of pain-killers. It looks like he downed the contents of nearly three different medicine bottles before he lost consciousness."
Tommy felt the blood run cold in his veins. "Jason tried to... He...."
"Jason tried to kill himself..." Alex whispered, horrified.
"You tell no one," Michael growled. He looked back to Tommy. "I'm going to the hospital now. Are you coming?"
"Let me get my coat."
* * *
They arrived at the hospital to find Donavon and Sarah in the waiting room. They approached cautiously, not knowing what to expect. "Donavon? Sarah?"
The Scotts looked up, and then Donavon stood up to meet the Chief of Police. "Michael.... What are you doing here?"
"I'm automatically contacted for incidents like this. What happened?"
Sarah shook her head. "Got home... I found Jason on the floor of the bathroom. The pill bottles were on the floor. Two were empty, the other was nearly empty.... I just bought them two days ago! They were unopened...."
Donavon hugged her reassuringly. "Sarah called the ambulance, I tried to wake him up... It was pretty useless. We don't even know how long he'd been out for. Since we left the house, for all we know."
Sarah gave a choked sob. "We should have seen this coming. We've hardly looked at him all week...."
Michael was confused. "I doubt that would be enough to push him over the edge like this. Something else must have happened."
"Something else did," Tommy said, feeling sick. He went on to explain everything to his father and the Scotts, how they had pushed Jason away from them because of the incident where Tanya had nearly drowned. When he finished, Donavon moaned.
"That's what it's all about. Damn, how could we be so blind?"
Sarah began to cry again. "He must have thought we really did hate him..."
"What's going on?" Michael asked softly.
Donavon motioned to the opposite chairs. "Sit down. This is a long story, but you have to hear it if you want to understand. You too, Tommy. Please...."
They sat down, and Donavon went on to explain all about Caitlin, and the mistake he had made in blaming his son for her death. "It looks like Jason never got over that," Donavon said softly, "but because he never said anything again, I just forgot. I'm sorry now, but now may be too late."
Tommy felt a chill run down his spine. "What do you mean? He's gonna be okay, isn't he?"
Donavon spared Tommy a grim look. "Tommy, Jason overdosed on codeine, anodyne, and something else that I'm not sure about. An overdose on just one of those drugs would possibly be fatal, but to overdose on a cocktail of all three?"
He trailed off, leaving it unsaid. Tommy looked away, feeling worse than he ever had before in his life.
The Rangers arrived at the Power Chamber late that night, summoned there by Tommy. "What's going on?" Kat moaned, rubbing her eyes sleepily. "Tommy?"
Tommy looked at them all with an ashen face and frightened eyes. "Something's happened to Jason, guys. He... He tried to kill himself...."
"What?" Tanya whispered, horrified.
Adam stiffened visibly. "Why would he do that?"
"Partly because of what we've been doing to him," Tommy replied. "Partly because his parents have been fighting non-stop for the past week... and I found out why he froze up that day. It turns out Jason had a twin sister that died when they were six. She died after falling through the ice on a frozen lake."
"Oh no...." Tanya moaned.
Rocky moved forward slowly. "Tommy, is Jason okay? I mean, how...?"
"Drug overdose," Tommy whispered. "He used up nearly three full bottles of pain-killers. Codeine, anodyne, and something else. He's comatose, guys. They don't know whether he's gonna wake up."
"Shit," Rocky swore softly.
Tanya spoke in a strained voice. "Well, what are we waiting for? Let's get to the hospital."
* * *
Jason didn't know where he was. His surroundings weren't clear, and he could make out very little other than a soft, comforting light. He looked around slowly, feeling confused and a little bit frightened. He vaguely remembered what had happened. After his parents had left, he had gone into the bathroom and emptied nearly three full bottles of drugs. He had collapsed, and then....
Between then and now, he had no idea what had happened. "Where am I?" he asked aloud, not expecting an answer.
Jason turned around sharply to find himself face to face with a pretty girl of his own age with shoulder length, light brown hair and light brown eyes. The girl smiled reassuringly at him. "Don't be frightened, Jason. There's nothing to fear in this place."
Her voice rang like a sweet bell, soothing Jason's confused mind. He took a step backwards. "Who are you?"
The girl looked calmly at him. "Don't you recognise me?"
"Well, I suppose not. It's been a long time since we were together. Twelve years, actually."
Jason suddenly realised who it was, as it occurred to him that he was staring almost at a mirror image of himself. The same defining features, the same eyes.... "Caitlin?"
The girl giggled, and Jason nearly collapsed again, this time with shock, as he recognised the laugh. "Yes, it's me. Oh, Jason, I missed you!" She threw her arms around his neck in a tight hug.
Jason stood stiffly for a moment, then gave a choked sob and hugged her back. "You're so much older," Jason said in confusion when they finally pulled apart.
Caitlin nodded. "I know. I grew up with you, Jason. You just couldn't see me. I've been watching you, little bear."
That wiped away any doubts that Jason might have had, for only Caitlin had ever called him 'little bear'. It became too much for Jason to cope with, and he sank to the misty ground and started to cry.
Caitlin went down with him, wrapping her brother up in her arms. "It's okay," she murmured soothingly. "Let it out, Jason. Just let it out."
She gently pulled his head down onto her shoulder, and let him cry out his pain.
* * *
The Rangers arrived at the hospital and were allowed into critical care after Donavon asked for special permission. There, in a single bed room, they were treated to the frightening sight of the former Gold Ranger, lying comatose in bed. "Oh, Jase," Tanya whispered, tears rolling down her cheeks. "I'm sorry...."
"How could he do this to himself?" Kat whispered hoarsely.
"How?" Tommy wiped away the tears in his own eyes. "What else do you do when you're shut away from everyone you care about, and the guilt gets to be too much to handle?"
"We're all responsible for this," Rocky said in a strained voice. "All of us..."
"Now," Adam murmured, stricken with grief, "it might be too late."
* * *
Jason eventually settled down, and the twins sat in each others arms for a long while in quiet contentment. Finally, though, Caitlin spoke softly. "Jason, you know you have to go back."
Jason pulled away from her, distressed. "What? No... Please, Caitlin, don't make be go back. I don't want to go back. Why do you think I took all those pills to begin with?"
"I know you don't want to go back, Jase, but you have to. It isn't time for you to go yet. There's still a lot you can do."
"I don't want to be without you again."
"You won't. Jason, I'll always be with you. Don't you see that? I'm part of you! Just like you're part of me. That's the beauty of twins. We'll always carry of a part of each other. You have my heart, Jason, and I have yours."
Jason looked away, tears trickling down his cheeks. "I might as well be dead, for all anyone cares."
Caitlin sighed. "I know it's been hard. I'm sorry it's been like that for you. I wish I could have done something." She reached out and hugged him to her. "You've got to be strong. And I really will be with you. Sometimes, in exceptional cases, the gap between life and death and can be bridged, and there can be a channel of communication kept open. When you find things are getting hard for you, all you have to do is find a quiet place, shut your eyes and let yourself go. Then, I'll come and we can be together. But you'll never be alone. You'll always carry my love with you."
Jason buried his face in her shoulder. "I love you, Caitlin."
"Same, brother. I love you, too."
* * *
Tommy sat by Jason's side, feeling more miserable than he had for a long time. "Where are you, bro?" he asked softly, staring down at Jason's pale, passive features. "Where are you hiding? C'mon, Jase, we need you. We're sorry...."
Unbeknownst to Tommy, two others inhabited the room, watching him from a corner of the room.
* * *
"You see?" Caitlin asked Jason.
Jason watched Tommy silently. "I didn't think he cared."
"He's always cared. They were only upset at nearly losing a friend. Their anger came from lack of understanding. Now, they do understand, and they're all sorry. Don't hold it against them."
"I don't," Jason said with a sigh. "Caitlin, what about Mum and Dad?"
"They're talking again. They've realised how pointless it was to fight like they were doing. They're talking now. That's why only Tommy is here. C'mon, let's go."
She slipped her hand into his, and led him back into the mist. "We have a little bit of time before you need to go back. Tell me about your secret life as a Power Ranger."
Jason reddened. "You know about that?"
Caitlin giggled again. "Of course I know! I said I've been watching you. And I have to tell you, watching you running around in that red suit was definitely one of the more amusing aspects of your life."
Jason had to smile. "They were pretty ridiculous, weren't they?"
"Well, especially since you guys all got so melodramatic when you wore them."
"It wasn't exactly a joke, though."
"I know. I have to admit, some of it scared me. I thought you'd be seeing me long before this. Especially when things got going between you and Goldar...."
Jason's smile faded. "Like, in the Dimension of Darkness."
"Yes. If Rita hadn't sent Tommy in when she did, you would have been skewered. Luckily, Tommy was enough in control of his own faculties to hold off until you could be teleported out."
Jason blinked, confused. "You mean, he stalled on purpose?"
"Yes. It was hard for him, but he pulled it off, and made it look like an accident that you escaped. He hadn't forgotten that you were the first person that took the time to be friendly to him. When you're the new kid in a close knit town, that can be the most important thing in the world."
Jason hesitated, then pulled down his shirt a little way to reveal a small scar in the center of his chest. "Whether he stalled on purpose or not, he still left me with a reminder. I was sick for two weeks after that."
Caitlin touched the scar lightly. "I remember. Mum and Dad never knew what was wrong with you. They were frightened that you were so ill."
"I didn't mean to frighten them, but I couldn't tell them what had happened."
Caitlin sighed. "Like you couldn't tell them what happened with me. Because Dad wouldn't let you."
"He... he was upset."
"Yes, but that was no reason to put the blame on you. I know he thought you were the one to pull me out onto the lake. That wasn't what happened. You weren't so stubborn back then, and you didn't want to let me go on my own."
Jason hung his head, wishing he could block out the horrible memories. Caitlin threw her arms around him. "Don't fight it, Jason. You've been fighting it all your life. Just let it through."
"I hated Dad for blaming me," Jason whispered in a trembling voice. "And I hated Mum for not standing up for me. It took so long to get over that.... He stills blames me, Caitlin. He still thinks it's my fault that you're dead."
"I know, but don't worry. That won't last. It's going to change, very soon. I promise."
Jason didn't reply. He spared her a worried, but curious look. She smiled reassuringly at him.
"You still have a little time before you have to go back. C'mon. I'll take you somewhere that we can talk."
Letting her hold onto his hand, Jason allowed himself to be led away into the mist.
Tommy looked around slowly as his father walked into the room, then turned wordlessly back to Jason. Michael Oliver sighed and put a hand lightly on Tommy's shoulder. "It isn't your fault. It isn't Jason's fault. It's no one's fault. Sometimes, things just escalate out of control, and you can't do anything about it."
"But we never tried to listen to him," Tommy whispered, fighting the tears. "Dad, we just shoved him right away... He probably doesn't want to come back, even if he can!"
"I doubt that," Michael replied. "Jason's a fighter. He always has been, Tommy. He wouldn't give up now. Not like this. He has too much of a sense of honour to quit on life. He'll come back to us, sooner or later."
"But what if he doesn't?" Tommy demanded. "What if he's so screwed up that he doesn't care anymore?"
Michael frowned. "Did I teach you to be this pessimistic? Tommy, this isn't like you. We all make mistakes, and it's pointless to sulk about it."
Tommy's hands curled into fists. "Not everyone makes a mistake that causes someone to try committing suicide."
"No!" Tommy exploded. "It's my responsibility! He had problems, and I didn't bother to hear him out! I pushed him away because I couldn't be bothered to take the time... Jason would never have done that to me. He *never* did that to me. I screwed up, Dad. Really bad..."
Michael ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. "Tommy... Do you really think Jason would blame you?"
"No. He'd blame himself. Like he probably blamed himself for Tanya nearly drowning. Like we blamed him for it."
"You know that was no one's fault. It was an accident."
"Yeah, but we didn't understand why Jase froze up like he did, until Mr and Mrs Scott explained about Caitlin...."
"Exactly," Michael said firmly. "You didn't know. For some reason, Jason couldn't bring himself to tell you, so you did not know. You can't be blamed for being upset when you didn't know the reasons. I'm certain Jason would understand that."
"If he understood that, then why did he try to kill himself?"
Michael fell helplessly silent. The whole situation was like a minefield that had been waiting to explode. Now, he was at a loss for what to do or say that would comfort his son.
Just then, Donavon and Sarah came back in. "Thank you for staying, Tommy," Sarah said tiredly. He nodded.
"S'okay. I don't mind. He... He hasn't woken up, or anything, though."
Donavon moved around to the other side of the bed. "We just have to keep hoping." He looked up. "You don't have to wait around any longer. You can go home."
"No," Tommy whispered before his father could speak. "I'll stay. I... I owe it to him to stay."
Neither of the Scotts argued. They felt exactly the same way.
* * *
"Just about time to go back, Jason."
Jason looked miserably at Caitlin. "Do I really have to?"
"Yes, you have to," she retorted. "I'm sorry, but it has to be like this. It isn't your time to go, yet."
"And it was your time when you were six?"
"Don't throw that at me, little bear. It's too late now, anyway. You still have stuff to do. Don't quit on me, Jason."
Jason hung his head. He knew he couldn't argue with her. "Now?"
"Very soon. You'll know. It's sort of rough, the trip back. And pretty dramatic. Your body needs to go into cardiac arrest, and when they try to revive you, that's when you'll go back."
"But... What if they don't try to revive me?"
Caitlin smiled just a little. "They will. They can't not try. Mum and Dad would sue the ass of the hospital if they didn't. Jason, you have to accept it. You aren't dead, and you're not going to die for a long time. You're going back."
Jason started to protest more, when a faint beeping became audible. He looked around in confusion, and then Caitlin touched his arm.
"That's the heart monitor. It won't be long now. Just remember, Jason. I love you, and I'll always be watching over you. Always."
The steady beeping became faster, and Jason felt himself being pulled backwards, away from Caitlin. "Caitlin...?"
"Don't be frightened. Everything will be better, in time, and I'll see you again, little bear. I promise."
The rapid beeping suddenly merged into a continuous sound. Caitlin faded from sight, and Jason gasped as he was thrown backwards, into the midst of a blinding white light...
* * *
Donavon, Sarah, Michael and Tommy were all forced out through the door as doctors and nurses converged on the room. The last thing they saw before being pushed out completely was a doctor, gearing up to electrocute Jason back to life.
* * *
It was ten very painful minutes later when they finally came out, looking exhausted but relieved. The doctor approached the four, offering them a small smile. "You can breathe again. He's all right. We revived him."
Both Donavon and Sarah let their breath go in a rush, while Michael moaned softly to himself with relief. Tommy took a step forward. "Is he... Is he awake?"
The doctor's smile broadened just a little. "Why don't you go see for yourself?"
Tommy's eyes widened, and he bolted back into the room to find that Jason was, indeed, awake. "Jason!"
Jason turned his head slowly, and the movement was sluggish and uncoordinated. Tommy looked back at the doctor fearfully. "Is he...?"
"It's okay," the doctor reassured all of them. "It's perfectly natural to be a bit uncoordinated when you're just coming out of a coma. There's nothing to worry about. He'll wake up properly in a few hours or so."
Tommy looked back to his best friend. "Jase? Can you hear me, bro?" Jason opened his mouth a little, but could get no sound out. Tommy reached out and squeezed his hand gently. "It's okay. You don't have to talk. Jase, I'm sorry... For everything..."
Donavon and Sarah moved in close. "So are we," Donavon said quietly, gently smoothing back his son's mussed-up hair. "So are we, son."
Jason sighed a little and relaxed, and a moment later his eyes closed. Donavon looked anxiously at the doctor, who spoke quickly. "He's just sleeping. We can let him sleep. He wasn't comatose long enough for there to be any worry that he'll have a relapse. Now, if you'll excuse me...."
The doctor slipped out of the room, leaving the Scotts and the Olivers alone with Jason.
A few days later....
"Feel like explaining anything?" Donavon asked quietly as he worked on a crossword puzzle with Jason.
The teen eyed his father skeptically. "So much for not analysing me."
"Forgive me," Donavon remarked dryly. "I'd just like to know why you were trying so damned hard to kill yourself."
Jason put the pocket puzzle book down on the blanket. "You don't know? After everything, you still don't know?"
"I think I have an idea," Donavon conceded. "I know we were very... ignorant towards you, and I'm sorry for that."
"I can handle the... the ignorance," Jason said tightly. "I can't handle the blame. It wasn't my fault that Caitlin died, Dad. I know you don't believe that, but it's true. I didn't drag her out onto the lake like you think. It was her idea, not mine. She... She wanted...."
"I know," Donavon interrupted softly. "I know, Jason. I'm especially sorry for putting you through all of that."
Jason stared at Donavon questioningly. "What changed your mind?"
"Just...." A wistful look came into Donavon's eyes for a moment as he recalled a particularly sad, half-remembered dream, then he sighed. "That doesn't matter. I'm just sorry. Thats all there is to it. I know it wasn't your fault. Maybe that's come thirteen years too late, but...."
"Better late than never," Jason finished off when his father faltered.
Donavon smiled sadly. "Something like that."
Donavon put an hand affectionately on Jason's shoulder. "Promise me something, Jason. Promise me you'll never try to hurt yourself like this again. We lost one child. I don't want to lose another."
Jason nodded, his cheeks red with embarrassment at his own foolishness. "I promise. Anyway, I'd like to avoid having my stomach pumped again. That was not one of the best experiences of my life."
"A good deterrence," Donavon remarked. "But you remember that?"
"Vaguely. I think I sort of woke up for few minutes in the hospital. I didn't remember it straight away, but now, I think I do. Like I said, not the greatest experience I've had. Man, I never felt so sick before."
"Mixing drugs will do that to you," Donavon said, and Jason had to smile.
"So I discovered."
Silence fell for a moment as father and son looked at one another. Then, finally, Donavon pulled Jason to him in a loving embrace. Jason didn't say a word, but submitted himself to the embrace, taking comfort in the close contact.
Angel Grove Park, some time later....
Jason and Tanya came to a halt near the lake, neither one venturing out onto the ice for obvious reasons. They were alone, but for the birds that flew overhead and nested in the trees.
"You could have just told us," Tanya said quietly. "We would have understood."
"I know," Jason sighed. "It was hard to talk about, though. I guess it was just that I'd kept it to myself for so long that I couldn't let it out. And Dad was so definite that it was my fault I didn't want to tell anyone because I was scared they'd blame me as well. I couldn't handle that."
"Instead, you got the blame for what happened to me," Tanya concluded. "We could have avoided all of this, Jason. The others made such a big deal about sharing our secrets and having group support... We messed it up this time, that's for sure."
"No," Jason said. He hesitated, then crouched down to clear away a thin layer of snow so they could sit on the ground. "It was still there. The support, I mean. You're right. I could have avoided it all, if I'd reached out. I just didn't try."
Tanya slipped her arm through Jason's. "We didn't realise how big a problem it was until Tommy called us all to the Power Chamber and said you were in hospital. God, I was so scared when he said you'd tried to kill yourself. I haven't known you for that long, but I have to say this. I look up to you like a brother, Jason. If you'd died, I really don't know what I would have done."
Jason spared her a curious look. "You really feel that way? What about Tommy, and the others? You've known them longer...."
"Tommy's a friend, but he's the leader. You know, sort of aloof. He doesn't do it intentionally, it's just the way he is."
Jason nodded his understanding. "He's always been like that. I think it was because of how he started out, as Rita's Green Ranger."
"Billy told me all about that. Anyway, he's just a friend. So is Rocky. Adam.... Well, Adam is Adam. He's just about as sweet as you can get, and I love him a lot. But you.... I don't know, I can't even start to explain you. You're sort of like Billy, in a way."
Jason reddened. "I don't compare to Billy. He's in a class of his own, and that's about ten levels higher than me."
"Don't put yourself down," Tanya scolded him. "I'm serious. Billy always told me a lot of stories about you, about the original team. The way he talked, it made me wish I'd known you back then, when you were the first Red Ranger. He never talked of you like a leader. He talked of you like a big brother. It's exactly how I see you now. He said you always looked after the others, even if it put you in danger."
Jason shrugged. "That was how it went. They were my friends."
"Yes. That's it. Now, if it was Tommy, he'd probably say 'they're my team'. It's family with you, isn't it?"
Jason stared out at the ice-covered lake. "When I lost Caitlin, I lost the best friend I had. I think, back then, she was the only friend I had. I wasn't great at making friends, and all the friends I had were really Caitlin's friends. So, when she died, I felt like I didn't have anyone left. There was only Trini, and she pretty much kept to herself, anyway, to start with. I guess I was by myself for a year until Billy came along, and then Kim. When Zack came, and I managed to make friends with him as well.... It was almost like a complete family. I had something to focus on again. I was so desperate to keep that together, I would have done anything."
"Do Billy, Kim and Zack know about Caitlin?"
"No. Only Trini, and I think she forgot after a while. You know what it feels like, Tanya. You know what it's like, losing the most important person in your life."
"I know. I was lucky to get my parents back." Jason turned his gaze skyward. "I miss Caitlin. I really wish she was here."
Tanya put her arms around the former Gold Ranger and hugged him warmly. "I know she's watching over you, from wherever she is."
Jason smiled, then, a sad, but knowing smile. "Yeah. I know."