TJ turned as he heard his name. He was about to say hi back to Cassie when he noticed that it wasn't Cassie that was calling his name. It was Brenda Wang. "Hey Brenda. How are you?" He asked as he tried to figure out what she would possibly want with him.
"I was just wondering if you wanted to go to the Sadie's Hawkins dance with me." She told him, a shy smile spreading across her face.
"The dance?" TJ repeated a little blown away. He never would have guessed that shy Brenda was interested in him. In fact, he had thought she was more interested in Eric Pauley, star football player.
"Yeah...I mean if you're interested of course." She replied.
"I-I'm flattered, Brenda. I really am, but well...I thought you were interested in Eric."
"I was...still am, but well he's got a girlfriend, and I'm not willing to come between them. It wouldn't be right." She said softly, looking down. "And I've seen you around school. You always seem to be having a good time. I think we'd have a really good time."
TJ squirmed a bit. It was not as if he did not like Brenda, and she was right, they probably would have a great time, but he was hoping someone else would ask him. Some else that had Brenda's Asian looks, but had a more comfortable style. Someone that had taken to wearing a lot of pink lately.
"Cassie? Are you okay?" TJ asked as he found her sitting on a picnic table staring off into space. A letter dangled from her hand and TJ gently took it from her and scanned it. "Cassie, I'm so sorry. Is there anything I can do?" He asked gently as he sat down next to her and slung an arm around her shoulders.
She rested her head on his shoulder and whispered. "Why?"
TJ shook his head. "I don't know, Cassie. I really don't. I wish I did." He looked over the letter once more. It was officially addressed to the Hammonds' and it basically said that Cassie's parents had given up any and all claim to their daughter. She was officially the Hammond's responsibility now if they wished to keep her with them.
"What did I ever do to deserve that? So I didn't want to go to Stone Canyon, I mean I couldn't exactly tell them why, but I'm happy here and I thought they understood that. I just don't understand!" Cassie cried as the tears spilled over her cheeks.
TJ pulled her closer as he thought about their situations. He and Cassie had both been in the same boat when they met. They were both on their way to live with relatives to pursue their dreams. But the difference was that TJ had his parents full approval and support. Cassie never had.
When she had told her parents that she was staying with the Hammonds, her parents had assumed that she did it just to get back at them. "I'll always be here for you, Cassie. Always. I'll never leave you."
TJ watched silently as Cassie mooned over their Phantom Ranger. He shook his head and sighed. He wished it was him she was mooning over, but he guessed it was not meant to be. They were destined to be just friends. Very close friends, but that was all.
As much as he railed against the thought of Cassie with the Eltarian ranger or whatever he was, he couldn't deny her any amount of happiness. He watched as she stared off into space and vowed that if this Phantom Ranger ever hurt his friend that he would make that black clad ranger *very* sorry he ever thought about leading Cassie on. He set a determined look on his face and teleported to the Power Chamber. He was going to find out *everything * there was to know about their mysterious ally.
"What are we going to do?" Cassie whispered as they stood in the deserted Power Chamber. It was just the five of them against the army of Piranatrons. Dimetria had left to try and find Zordon.
A boom startled them all as they watched the door to the Power Chamber ever so slowly bend inwards. "I don't know." TJ replied back just as quietly. "But it looks like we don't have much of a choice. We're going to have to fight. And we're going to have to fight harder than we ever have before. We have to keep Divatox from taking over Earth and if that means we die trying then that's what I'm going to do." TJ added raising his voice loud enough for the rest of the team to hear.
Cassie, Ashley, Carlos and Justin stared at him for a moment before the Green Ranger nodded. "You're right man. We're Earth's only chance."
The rest looked at each other and then nodded. "We're with you." Cassie added.
TJ nodded and then gulped nervously. "Here they come." He said unnecessarily.
TJ grimaced as watched Andros and Ashley. Sometimes they were almost sickening. The way they pussyfooted around and never just stuck to their guns and asked each other out. He smiled a bit. It was a bit funny when he thought about it. The way they were both so shy.
"DECA load Simuldeck program TJ-eight-alpha."
"Simulation loaded TJ." DECA answered.
"Thanks DECA." He said as he stepped into the room and into the batting cage. It was his favorite simulation when he needed to stop thinking and needed to hit something. It was what had gotten him into baseball in the first place. His dad had been in the minor leagues before a knee injury and a growing family had forced him off the field and into the construction job he had now.
TJ could still remember the first time he had come home from a fight. His father had been less than pleased, but instead of getting a punishment, his father had introduced him to the batting cage. TJ could still remember the words his father had told him.
*"TJ, you can't hit people every time you get mad. What would happen if I did that every time I got angry at you, or your Momma?"
A 6 year old TJ hung his head. "I know." He mumbled.
His father smiled kindly at him. "But I also know that sometime you get so angry that hitting seems like the only thing that will make it better. That's when you come here. Hit the ball, not people TJ, if you have to hit something."*
So he had gotten into swinging the bat and taking his aggression out on the ball. And he found he loved it. Not the anger, but the feel of the bat in his hands and tingling that went up his arms when his bat connected with the ball.
Today he came to get his mind off of Cassie and Phantom. He could not believe his friend. She was mooning over someone that obviously did not give a damn about her. Phantom had come and gone again, not bothering to even let them know he was alright. TJ could not understand her attraction to the mysterious ally but if Phantom made Cassie happy then he could leave it be.
"Hey Teej?" A voice called quietly through the Simuldeck.
Turning he saw Cassie standing just outside the cage. "Hey Cass."
"Would you like to catch a movie with me or something? I could use some down time."
"I just don't understand him." Cassie sighed as she picked at her French fries.
"Maybe he's just shy, Cass. Not all guys are direct. Plus he's from another world...we think. Remember Andros?" TJ replied as he drank his shake.
"Yeah, you're right. Thanks Teej." She said as she impulsively leaned over the table and kissed his cheek.
"You're welcome Cass. You know if you ever need me I'll be there for you."
"I know...thanks Teej. That means a lot to me."