Time Line: This takes place a little over a year after the new Turbo team (Cassie, TJ, Carlos, Ashley) has been chosen. In this timeline, Justin gave back the power to Rocky, who is the Blue Turbo Ranger in this story. And Zordon and Alpha 5 never left. They are still with the Ranger in this fic.
The driver, Tommy Oliver, had never felt such freedom and adrenaline rush since he had been a world savior. Once the leader of a super hero team known as the Power Rangers.
It had been over a year since he had turned his powers over to a new team, and continued on with his own life. His own dreams outside of the team. The closest he could come to the happiness he had with the team, was race car driving on his uncles track. At this moment he found himself preparing for a race that would take place within two days.
The car was modified recently, and needed testing, before the race. That was why Tommy found himself racing, at over one hundred miles per-hour around the track on this dismal, windy day.
His three man pit crew watched as he passed them, making another lap around the track. As he passed the crew, he had to smile at himself. He was happy that they were all there, most especially, one certain familiar face. This man was his pit crew leader, the one who had made the modifications to the car.
Billy had returned from Aquitar nearly six months ago. Tommy oftentimes wondered why Billy had returned when he had seemed so happy to be there with Cestria. But, Tommy didn't ask, and Billy never said. Tommy figured Billy would tell him when the time was right, but for now, he was just content that Billy was there with him.
Occasionally, he felt that Billy was the only one who could understand him. They both having been Power Rangers at one time. Of course, Tommy now knew how Billy felt when he had given up the powers, and unable to have them again. Even though Tommy had been powerless several times, he had become a Ranger again. But not the last time. It left an void inside, that was hard to describe, and even harder to fill. He couldn't really talk to just anyone about what he felt, the secret had to be kept. All the other x-rangers had all gone their way, and when Billy came back, he felt a massive burden being lifted. He finally had some one to talk to who knew what it felt like to be powerless.
Quickly, Tommy brought his mind back into focus. Focus was important at this time. He didn't want to end up in the hospital, and miss the race.
"How are things looking Tommy?" Came a familiar voice over his headset.
"Things seem to be going good. The modifications are keeping the shimming down to a minimum, but the wind is making it hard to tell for sure though." Tommy replied as he checked his gages.
"What's your speed right now?" Tommy gazed at the speedometer, trying to focus quickly, so that he could turn his attention back to the raceway ahead.
"Two hundred and ten." Billy quickly checked his notes clipped to his clipboard, and fought the wind for control of the papers. "Great, that's five MPR faster than the last time you felt any shimmying." Billy quickly glanced up to see Tommy heading toward them again.
As a unexpected gust of wind whipped past him, he grabbed hold of the now familiar cap covering his light brown hair, and pulled it down tighter. "Take another couple of laps around the track, and lets see how fast we can get the car up to before we have any shimmying."
"All right." Billy watched as Tommy blasted past him and headed around the track again.
Tommy tuned his body to the feel of the car. His hands on the wheel and his feet on the gas petals could feel even the smallest vibrations, that were not normal, in the car. "Okay, here we go, I'm taking her up to two-fifteen." Tommy observed the speedometer carefully, not wanting to go over his mark, and make any mistakes.
He watched the gage slowly rise from two-ten to two-fifteen, once he was there he relayed the information on to Billy. "Great, keep it there for this lap, then we'll adjust on the second lap."
"Right, " Was Tommy's reply.
Tommy began to relax a bit, as the car seemed to accept this new speed and settle into the raceway.
All at once a unexpected vibration took over the car. Tommy pulled himself to attention, and checked all the gages. Everything seemed to be fine, and the speed was the same. Feeling a trickle of sweet crawl down his back he quickly relayed the information back to Billy.
"Hey man, I just felt a big vibration back there. It has kind of eased up a bit, but I think I should head in."
"I think you're all right Tommy. There was a unanticipated gust of wind that nearly knocked us over. Ease back to, two-ten, and make another lap. If the vibrations continue then bring it in carefully." Billy felt a small trickle of fear run over his body, and all of a sudden found himself second guessing his actions.
"All right. One more lap at two-ten." Tommy gazed to his left as he passed his pit crew again, and looked for Billy. Billy raised his hand with the thumbs up sign, and some of his apprehension was dispelled. Billy was no doubt right. Heck, Billy is always right. It was just a sudden gust of wind.
Tommy eased of the gas bringing the gage back down to two-ten. As he rounded the turn and began to level out, a severe vibration began to shake the car. Tommy tried to ease off the gas and check his gages when all hell broke loose.
Billy watched as Tommy approached the turn, and held his breath as the car started around it. Slowly he expelled the breath once Tommy came out of the turn and began to level off. That's when he noticed the car, nearly jump, on the track. In his headset he could hear Tommy's expletive of suprise.
"Ease off Tommy. Now!" Billy yelled into the headset.
"I'm trying, but she's not responding!" Suddenly the left, front, of the car dropped to the pavement, the wheel flying crazily out to the middle of the raceway to dig itself fiercely into the damp grass. Sparks then began to sail up and over the top of the car.
Inside the car, Tommy tried to see through the flashing of the sparks to his gages. Gradually he pumped the brakes to no avail.
The car seemed to have a mind of its own.
Tommy's hands were wrapped tightly around the wheel, and he knew, that underneath the black gloves, his knuckles were deathly white from the grip.
"The brakes won't work! I'm going to try to down shift to slow the car down!" He saw the turn coming up fast, and knew that if he didn't get the car stopped, or even get the car slowed down dramatically he would never make the turn.
Billy didn't bother to respond. The less Tommy had to think about, the better off he would be. He watched, helplessly as the car began to veer slightly.
Tommy pushed in the clutch, and shifted down. The car lurched at the sudden shift and swerved slightly to his right. "That seemed to slow it down a bit, I'm going to down shift one more time."
"Take it easy Tommy! I saw you swerve the last time!" Billy hadn't meant to reply, but he found himself doing so before he realized he was doing it.
"Gotcha!" Tommy replied as he focused on the task at hand.
Billy knew the moment that Tommy had shifted down. The roar of the engine deepened, and the car seemed to vault off of the asphalt. The breath caught in Billy's throat. The car came back down, and without warning, grabbed hold of the pavement and sent the car spinning out of control.
Billy was already running toward the car,
Tommy's screams ringing grimly in his ears, and his own screams were
drowned out by the crash.
Tommy knew he had lost control of the car the minute he down shifted . The car seemed to rise back, like a horse, then when it came back down, he knew there was nothing he could do but hold on.
crash itself seemed to go in slow motion. He could hear Billy scream his name
over his headset. He couldn't tell what was going on. He felt that if he
closed his eyes, then it wouldn't be quite so bad. But, soon that myth was
eliminated as he felt the car begin to roll, the harness holding him in,
wrenching at his shoulders and chest. Then there
was pain. A pain that made the darkness behind his closed eyes suddenly burn red.
Billy watched, in horror, as the car began to roll, spinning over and over again from side to side. In his own headset he could hear Tommy's screams of pain. "Hold on Tommy!" He hadn't realized he had spoken until the wind blew the words back in his face.
At last the car came to rest, on what was left of it's wheels, in the middle of debris that had been hurled around by the crash. Billy listened for Tommy in his head set, but he couldn't hear anything. Over and over he called out Tommy's name, but there was nothing forthcoming.
Suddenly he was there. He was bracing himself against the mangled recage of the car, trying to catch his breath, while looking through the shattered Plexiglas window for Tommy. In the farthest reassess of his mind, he could hear the other two pit crewmen approaching behind him, and in the background the sound of the ambulance siren.
Ignoring it all, Billy cautiously made his was around to the drivers side of the car. The net over the window fluttered quietly in the breeze. As Billy stretched out to grasp it's edge, his hand shook, and there was a lump of fear in his throat. Closing his eyes, he yanked back the net and heard a whisper of his name.
Cautiously, Billy opened his eyes and gazed into the window at Tommy.
Tommy was looking up at him through the window, a thin line of blood trickling slowly from the corner of his mouth and descending to his chin. There were lines of pain creasing his face and his eyes were glazed.
"Tommy? Are you all right?"
"I...I don't...know man..." Tommy responded around the pain. As he tried to take a deep breath to speak again, a burning flash of pain knifed through him, his body tightening around it.
"Don't talk Tommy. The ambulance is coming and we'll get you out of here." Billy looked him over with care. There was blood flowing from a gash in his shoulder downward to his immobile fingers. Tommy's breathing was slight and painful, and the blood kept trickling from the corner of his mouth.
Cautiously, Billy reached into the window, and with shaky fingers, wiped the blood from Tommy's mouth while looking for the cut that was producing it. But, there was no cut, and Billy closed his eyes, realizing what it most likely ment. When Tommy's body, all of a sudden shook with a agonizing cough and more blood trickled out of his mouth, Billy was sure he knew what was wrong.
"Don't move bro," Bro. A nomenclature that Tommy and Jason had shared, and he himself had never spoken until this moment, and yet it seemed so appropriate. "I think you have a broken rib that has ruptured your lung."
The ambulance had at last arrived next to them, and Billy pulled back away from the car, but kept his eye on Tommy. "I'll be right here. And I'll ride to the hospital with you." Billy put on a smile that should have informed Tommy that things would be all right. But, he wasn't certain if he had succeeded.
* * *
Silently he stood back as the ambulance crew painstakingly extracted Tommy from the mangled wreckage of the car and placed him on a back board that had been put on the ground a short distance away. Quickly they strapped his body to the board, then delicately removed the helmet from his head, placing a neck brace tightly around his neck.
As Billy watched them remove the helmet and place the neck brace on Tommy, he realized that he still wore the headset, and subconsciously removed it, and let it hang from his listless fingers. Then he noticed that one of the EMT's were beckoning him. Slowly, without thought, he strode over to them.
"Are you a friend of his?" The tall, slightly ponderous, man asked.
"Yeah. I am." Billy couldn't think of anything else to say. His mind had become muddled.
"So, you'll be riding in the back with him to the hospital?" Billy only nodded. "We'll get him on the stretcher then we'll get going." With that, the man headed to the back of the ambulance.
Billy gazed at the two men in the back of the ambulance, and then immediately knelt beside Tommy's inert form. When Tommy heard a movement next to him, he opened his eyes and saw Billy kneeling next to him. For a minute Tommy was confused. Slightly to the rear of Billy was a enigmatic, somewhat indistinct, figure. Tommy was trying to focus his gaze, thinking that maybe it was one of the other guys from the pit crew. But when he took a difficult breath, which hurt like hell, the figure seemed to dissolve. When he noticed that Billy was talking, he immediately turned his attention to his friend.
"I've got to do something. We can fix you up." Billy said as he gazed down at Tommy. Tommy only smiled at him and watched as Billy began to lift his hand to his mouth.
A hand clutched Billy's arm, and he looked down into the troubled eyes of his friend. As best as he could, Tommy was shaking his head.
"No. Zordon can't help me this time. He can't rescue us forever."
"Y...You know?" Billy was dumbfounded. He hadn't wanted to tell Tommy that he had been asked to come back to the Power Chamber when he returned. He couldn't bare to see the hurt in Tommy's eyes, when he realized that Billy had been asked back into the circle of the Rangers, while he, Tommy, was standing on the outside once again.
Tommy smiled at his suprise. "Yeah. I've... known the entire time."
"Tommy, I'm sorry."
"For what? Being...where you should be? Where you...belong?" Tommy tried to keep the smile on his face, but another cough shook his pain ravaged body. "I'm loosing...the power a...again. It was inevitable... that this would happen. It's time for me... to go home and fight a better... battle." Billy shook his head at his words. He could save Tommy. All he had to do was get him to the Power Chamber and onto one of the diagnostic tables.
"You know I don't believe in Fate, Destiny, or whatever you want to call it." Tommy closed his eyes in thought, then glared sternly at Billy. How could he not believe in destiny. He had once been a Power Ranger .
"It was d...destiny that made you a...a Power Ranger."
"It was Zordon who made me a Power Ranger. I wasn't born to be one, I just happened to be a the right place at the right time. Just when Zordon needed help battling Rita. It wasn't destiny." Tommy was shocked by Billy's severe words. What had happened to his friend?
"W...what has happened to make...you close your he...heart and mind?" Billy couldn't respond, he only looked away.
As wet drops touched his upturned face, Billy realized, for the first time, that it had started to rain. And it was ironic that he should find a bit of happiness at this moment. The rain would hide the tears that had, without warning, started to wash over his face.
* * *
It took the EMTs a few minutes to get Tommy onto the stretcher and into the back of the ambulance. While they were doing that, Billy asked Miles, who worked on the pit crew with him, if he would please get in touch with Tommy's parents and have them meet the ambulance at the hospital. When Miles assured him that he would take care of everything, Billy immediately climbed into the back of the ambulance with Tommy and the EMTs.
Billy looked down into his friends pained face. The EMTs had slipped an oxygen mask over his face, and his eyes were now closed. For just the briefest of moments, Billy almost panicked, until he saw the slow and faltered rise and fall of Tommy's chest. Letting out a sigh of relief, he gazed around at the inside of the ambulance.
There was equipment around them that seemed ancient compared to the equipment in the infirmary in the Power Chamber.
At the sound of Tommy's muffled voice, Billy gazed down at his friend.
"Can you remove this?" Billy asked, seeing that Tommy was trying to communicate with him, but was being restricted by the mask.
"Sure." The EMT quickly removed the mask, and checked Tommy's vitals again.
"How are you holding up bro?" Billy asked
"Good. H...how about you?" Tommy tried to take a deep breath, but winced in pain.
"Not so good. Let me help you Tommy. This doesn't have to happen." Billy lifted his wrist so that Tommy could see the communicator.
"No. It's time to go. She's here...for me now. The Better Battle...awaits." Tommy tried to smile around his pain. To show Billy that he was all right.
Billy looked around the ambulance, but his eyes could not detect the presence of the enlightened being seated at Tommy's head.
She wore a peaceful smile as she gazed down at Tommy. Her dark hair spilled over her right, black clad, shoulder and seemed to have an other worldly glow to her hair, though the light of the mortal world did not touch her. As she looked up at Billy, her dark hazel eyes reflected the grief in Billy's pale hazel eyes.
Carefully she stretched out her hand to touch a finger to Billy's forehead. At the contact, which he could not perceive, nor she, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them again, the sadness had faded some.
"Tommy, you'll be fine. Just hang on. Your parents will be at the hospital waiting for us." Billy looked around and found a spot big enough for someone to sit, then spoke angrily. "I will not let her take you."
Billy looked back down at the feel of Tommy's hand on his arm.
"You can't...stop it. It's time. I'm not...afraid. You shouldn't...be either. I...if you blame your..yourself, I'll come...back to haunt...you." Tommy smiled, and Billy could see no fear in his eyes. But it didn't make his own fear disappear.
Billy took Tommy's hand tightly.
The angel, who had been at Tommy's side since the accident, now reached out a hand to him, and placed it delicately in the middle of Tommy's chest.
Billy watched as the light gradually left Tommy's eyes. Tears stinging his own. When the last of Tommy's breath left his body, Billy lowered his head, still gripping Tommy's hand, and cried like he had never cried before.
Billy didn't notice the EMT's movements, his head clutched in his hands.
After the EMTs had tried everything they could to revive Tommy, one of the EMTs reached over to cover Tommy's unseeing eyes. As the EMT leaned over, he caught a flash off of Billy's communicator and had to shield his eyes against it.
* * *
The ambulance proceeded on down the highway.
Tommy watched it go, then gazed down at himself. He was arrayed in his old Ranger uniform, except this time it was armor, not spandex. He was the White Ranger again. He looked up at his black clad companion and smiled.
"Billy won't understand. He doesn't believe in fate." The angel smiled back at Tommy and his words.
"Does he not believe in God?"
"I don't know." Tommy looked up again in the direction the ambulance had gone. "I hope so."
"It's time to go. The Better Battle awaits you."
"Okay." Tommy began to follow her as she casually moved towards the brilliant light.
"What was the one thing you liked the most?" She asked as they entered the light.
The question was inspecific, but Tommy seemed to understand. "Being a Power Ranger." He smiled at her.
"And you are again." Was her response.
* * *
Not many people had the type of view of Angel Grove that two individuals had at that moment. The clouds had begun to disappear, and the late afternoon sun began to cast it's rays throughout the breaks in the clouds. The streaks of gold were glorious, but to these two individuals, it was something even more breath-taking.
Silently they observed the play of light. Their eyes half closed, as if they were listening to something only they could hear. As the sky brightened, and the clouds decreased, they glanced at each other.
Both were clad in black, and wearing long black coats that seemed to flap around them like wings. Yet there was no breeze.
As they observed the traffic of Angel Grove pass by them hundreds of feet below, they were safe in the knowledge that no one could see them.
"What did he like best?" The black man asked. He appeared to be in his late twenties, or early thirties, that is, if Angels aged like mortals.
The woman turned her dark hazel eyes to him, her face always lined with a smile. "Being a Power Ranger. He didn't even hesitate in his answer." She turned her gaze back to the city beyond them, a lone question at the back of her mind.
"So, then he has gone to fight the Better Battle then." It wasn't a question.
"Yes. To bad that the mortals do not conceive how close this battle is coming to them."
"But, it is for the best that they do not know." She nodded her head in agreement.
The concept of fear was unfathomable to her. As an angel, they felt no emotions, no pain, nothing. Not even the touch of another being. But they could not yearn for something they had never felt or experienced. And as angels, they were the only ones who could hear the music when the sun began it's ascent from the sea into the sky in the lonely morning hours.
"There is something on your mind?" The man asked, though he did not turn his gaze towards her.
"Yes. Casial? Can mortals see us? I feel, that when I was in the ambulance with the Ranger, his friend could see me. He looked right at me." She turned her gaze to the angel at her side.
"Animals can see us, as well as children. An adult mortal can see us, only if we want them to." This time Casial did turn to look at her. He had the strangest feeling of deja vu. He had been asked this same question once before. Some time ago. He smiled at her, and as one they turned their gazes back to the city before them.
* * *
Billy walked quickly from the hospital. He found his motorcycle parked in the emergency parking lot. One of the guys from the pit crew must have driven it over for him when he left in the ambulance.
For that he was glad. The last thing he wanted right now was company. He needed- no- wanted to be alone. His mind was a jumbled up mess of emotions and thoughts.
Quickly he wiped the few stray tears from his eyes, and snatched his dark blue helmet from the seat of the black motorcycle. Slipping it onto his head, he snapped the strap into place and mounted the bike. Taking a uncertain look at the hospital behind him, he started up the engine and immediately left the parking lot.
Sad eyes watched him leave. Kat turned back down the hall to the emergency room where Tommy's body and his family and friends were. She had been visiting her friends and family in Angel Grove, and was planning to return to England when they had received the phone call. She couldn't leave now. Not until Tommy was laid to rest.
Billy had left almost as soon as they had arrived. He had remained long enough to explain to Tommy's family what had happened. Kat had seen the pain in his eyes, even through the pain in her own. Her heart was dying. The man she loved more than life itself was gone. Yet she could not even imagine the pain that Billy must be feeling at that very moment.
He and Tommy had been best of friends every since Tommy had joined the Power Ranger team nearly five years ago. And Billy had been there when the accident happened, powerless to help, and had been at Tommy's side when he departed from them. Just the thought of it all brought new, more painful tears to her eyes as she entered the room that was already filled with the sounds of loss.
* * *
The road was a blur ahead of him. Billy didn't know where he was going, it didn't matter and he really didn't care. He just had to get away from the hospital, away from Angel Grove, away from everything.
Before he knew what was happening, he was beyond the city limits and heading east into the desert.
Tears stung his eyes as he drove. The road ahead of him seeming to disappear into the sky beyond. How he wished he could vanish as well. Who was he angry at? He asked himself? Am I angry at Tommy, or myself?
Without thinking Billy sped the bike up , and watched the road being devoured by the motorcycle tires beneath him. The wind tugged at his clothes, and would have stung his eyes if it were not for the helmet. Then the unexpected feeling came over him, that nothing mattered. Living, dying, nothing mattered.
Billy gazed down at the speedometer before him. Already his speed was high enough that he could be pulled over for speeding, but he didn't care. Abruptly he accelerated. The needle began to rise higher and higher. Soon his speed was a hundred, plus, mph. Looking up, he watched as the end of the road, that seemed to disappear into the sky, never came nearer.
At this point nothing made sense in Billy's mind. He wasn't the genus anymore. How could he be. He hadn't been able to save Tommy. And another anamnesis flashed before him, and he forced it away. Back to the darkest reassess of his mind where it belonged.
With a crazed grin on his face, he forced the bike faster. The road rushed by, and anything at the side of the road was a blur. He could make out nothing of what he passed. And he didn't care.
Then without warning, almost like a voice in his head, something clicked.
What the hell was he doing? Tommy wouldn't want him to do this. Tommy had asked him not to do this. The sudden awareness frightened him. He glanced down at the speedometer, and saw that he was going at a suicidal speed of one hundred and fifty mph.
Cautiously, Billy began to slow down. When the motorcycle had been reduced to a safe enough speed, he began to pull to the edge of the sand covered road. Breaking, the bike began to skid, but with practiced skill, Billy kept the motorcycle upright until it came to a complete stop.
Unsteadily, he pulled his helmet from him head, and alighted from the bike. For a insane moment, he stood back from the bike, and looked at it like it was some kind of monster that had suddenly emerged before him. Gradually he backed away from the bike to the side of the road.
He was completely alone. There were no other vehicles, and he could scarcely make out Angel Grove in the distance.
He gazed at his gloved hands, lifted them to eye level,
turned them, and began to feel as if they were not his own, but belonged to
someone or something else. Then he noticed the helmet he held. Taking it in both
hands, he turned the visor towards him, as if looking into the face of someone
else. He observed the play of light glaring back at him,
then his eyes focused on a single image.
But, it wasn't him. It was a stranger, and that stranger was struggling to take over.
With a scream that scattered the birds in a nearby tree, he spun towards the desert and tossed the helmet; the stranger, as far as he could.
"Why?! Tommy!!!" The solitary name drifted from his lips, until it faded into the distance.
Slumped against a bolder, Billy bowed his head, covered his face with his hands, and cried. The tears dropping from his chin, vanish into the parched dirt at his feet. Just like the rain had an hour before.
* * *
A dark figure emerged from the heat waves coming up off of the desert floor. No eyes saw, no ears heard, as the form made it's uninterrupted way towards the lone figure.
The woman stopped before him. His eyes looked out, but did not see her. With a smile of understanding, she delicately touched her long fingers to his forehead, and silently listened to the words that were in his head.
Tommy told me not to condemn myself. But it was my fault. If
I'd just listened to him when he told me he felt the vibrations, and told
him to bring the car in, he'd be alive right now. At the hospital I could
see the reproof in his parent's eyes. I could have stopped it. I could
have saved him. I'm suppose to be a genius. Some genius! I couldn't
even save my best friend.
If I had just pressed the button on my communicator, Zordon could have saved him.
Why wouldn't he let me save him?
It wouldn't have mattered who knew we were
Power Rangers. Tommy would be alive right now.
Billy gazed out at the desert, his eyes red from the tears that still poured freely down his face. The pain was apparent.
The woman watched him. She wished there was some way that she could help him, to help him understand that what had happened to his friend was destined to happen, and that there wasn't anything that anyone could have done. Not even their mentor, Zordon.
For a moment, she followed his gaze, and realized, that if his eyesight were like hers, he'd be able to see the solitary form of the Power Chamber looking out on the desert. Smiled to herself, knowing that he was seeing it. But only within the boundaries of his own memory. She turned back to face him. What she saw troubled her more than what she had registered within his mind.
Billy's gaze was hard. The tears were gone.
He was closing himself off from his emotions.
Slowly, with cold determination, Billy stood up from the bolder, collected his helmet from where it had landed, placed it on his head, and strode to his motorcycle. With the grace of a gymnast, he mounted the bike, started it up, and headed into Angel Grove.
The solitary figure watched him leave. An otherworldly breeze whipping the, long, black coat around her. Then, she too, was gone.
* * *
A bright afternoon sun beat down on the city of Angel Grove. A slight breeze drifting in from the ocean. The day should have been perfect, and probably was to most people. Most people that is, except for a distinguished group of people standing sadly within the walls of the Angel Grove City Cemetery. There was no amount of sunlight that could dispel the darkness that surrounded the group.
It had been four days since the accident, since Tommy had gone on to the Better Battle.
The angel (which she shall be referred to for now) watched and listened. Her eyes never venturing far from one, specific, lone figure.
Billy stood apart from the group of his past and present friends. His face was expressionless, his shoulders stiff in the black, banded collar suit he wore. The Angel knew that he was listening to the words the priest was saying. She gazed around at the sad faces of the others who stood at the edge of the grave with him. Every now and then, she noticed glances tossed Billy's way, but he never acknowledged them. His gaze locked on the mahogany and brass casket before him.
Instantly she was at his side. Reaching out her hand , she touched his clasped hands.
The world will never know. They're not burying just a
man. They're burying a hero, and they will never even know it. There
should be men in uniform standing around. A flag draped over his casket. But,
they only know him as a man.
The angel watched as Billy finally lifted his gaze from the red rose covered, mahogany casket, to at last look at his friends.
All of the past and present Rangers stood at his side. It had taken a lot of work, but they were finally able to get a hold of Trini, and Zack. They had hastily flown to Angel Grove from Switzerland where they both were attending school. Billy had not been at the airport to meet them with the rest of the group. Just the idea of seeing them again brought back to many painful memories.
Jason was the easiest to get hold of. He was currently attending AGU with his girlfriend Emily.
Rocky ran his own dojo in Stone Canyon, when he wasn't out taking down monsters with the current team of Turbo Rangers. And they could always find him at the youth center on Saturdays.
Adam worked as a stuntman in Los Angeles. He had been on location when the accident had happened, so it took them a little longer to locate him.
Ayisha was the hardest to get a hold of. She was still living in Africa with her family. She had arrived just that morning.
Kat flown in from London, where she was practicing her dancing, a couple of weeks ago. And had been at the hospital when the ambulance arrived.
Tanya worked as a DJ for a local radio station in New York when she wasn't attending classes at NYU.
Billy still could not look her in the face. Of all of the Rangers there, she was the one touched the deepest by their loss. Even now she sobbed into Jason's shoulder. Kat just seemed to be braver than everyone else. Or she was a proficient and convincing actress.
Even the new team of Rangers were there. Most of them had known Tommy for a short amount of time, and they didn't really know him that well, but they felt obliged to attend.
Billy turned his gaze back to the casket, and noticed that the priest had stopped speaking and they were now lowering the casket into the ground. As he watched the casket descend, Billy slowly withdrew a single white rose from inside his suit. Stepping forward, he gazed down onto all of the red roses that decorated the top of the casket. In one single motion, he cast the white rose into the grave to land atop the red roses.
Everyone around him instantly looked up. They all knew the meaning behind the white rose, but were startled by Billy's actions. He never once, looked at them. He turned around and began to walk away.
As the group turned to fallow him, a familiar beep! filled the air around them. Those who knew what it ment, abruptly departed and headed for their respective cars. The others hurried to catch up to Billy's retreating form.
"Billy! Wait up!" A familiar voice called out to him. He quickened his pace, hoping that he would be able to reach his bike so that he wouldn't have to face her. But, that hope was dashed when he felt a small hand grasp his arm, with amazing strength, and turn him around to face her.
"Let me go Kim." Billy snapped the words out at her. Kim pulled back at the sound of his voice. She looked into his cold, hard eyes, and retreated away a bit more.
"Billy. You don't have to blame yourself. There was nothing you could have done. You were powerless to help."
"Was I!?" Billy instantly pulled the cuff of his sleeve back and raised his wrist before them, showing them all the blue and silver communicator fastened around his wrist.
There were shocked gasps had by all. No one knew, except the current Rangers, that he was back in the Power Chamber. Hell, some had only found out a couple of days ago that he was even back from Aquitar.
"I had the power, but I didn't use it! You all can blame me all you want. I do, and I know Tommy's parents already do..."
"No they ..."
"No Kim! They do. I can see it in their eyes. Just leave me alone!" With that, Billy turned away from the group and immediately drove away on his motorcycle.
Kim stood at the front of the group. A hand pressed firmly to her trembling lips. Tears rolled down her cheeks. Tommy wouldn't have wanted this. None of them did. Billy didn't understand. None of them blamed him for the accident. Not them. Not Tommy's family. Things just happened, and there was nothing anyone could do.
They had to reach Billy somehow.
* * *
The days seemed to pass by quickly for most people, but for Billy, they crept by, constantly reminding him of what had transpired a couple of weeks ago.
How the words seemed to mock him. No matter how hard he tried to make the memories go away, they just wouldn't leave. They even tormented him in his sleep, making the nights seem longer than the days.
He had tried, various times, to work out his feelings, in the wee hours of the night, in his journal on the computer. But no matter how much he tried, he could make no sense of it, and felt as if he were being driven insane.
At least his days were filled to brimming with work. He hardly ever saw the light of day anymore. Sure, Zordon would tell him to take a break and get some fresh air. But, as usual, he refused to go, always making excuses that this or that needed to be repaired. Then he would retreat into the depths of the Power Chamber, until he couldn't stay awake any longer. Then, once home, showered and sliding into his bed, the memories would come. They always did.
Now, glancing at his watch, seeing that it was mid-afternoon, Billy was once again in the depths of the Power Chamber. A couple of days ago, during a battle that the Rangers had barely survived, three of the Zord vehicles were damaged. Being there now was not an excuse, it was a necessity. Divatox would not be put off for very long.
Billy stood before Lightning Cursor, memories flickering, like a movie, through his mind. Taking a deep breath he made his way to the drivers side door, opened it, and pulled the latch for the hood.
Then closing the door, Billy moved to the front of the car once again. Reaching down, and just inside of the hood, he released the last latch and lifted the hood.
It never ceased to amaze him. The way the Zords worked. On the outside, Lightning Cruiser looked like any typical, sports car. But under the hood? Let's just say that it would make the worlds foremost mechanic faint.
There were lights and switches the likes even Billy had never seen, until he became a Ranger.
The thought made him stop.
Shaking it off, he leaned into the motor and began his work.
* * *
Rocky had been at the Juice Bar, for some time, with the other Rangers when he realized that Billy wasn't there. Feeling like he should at least invite him, even though he never took them up on the offer, he teleported to the Power Chamber with a mission.
ROCKY. IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG? Zordon asked as Rocky's signature blue teleportation beam faded.
"Not really. I just thought that I would try to talk Billy into coming to the Juice Bar with the rest of us." Rocky stated looking around the vacant chamber. Alpha was puttering away in a far corner.
I THINK THAT WOULD BE A VERY GOOD IDEA. BILLY HAS BEEN SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME HERE IN THE POWER CHAMBER. I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET HIM TO GO OUT, AS WELL.
"I know, and he always refuses. Do you know where he is?"
HE IS IN THE ZORD HOLDING BAY WORKING ON THE ZORDS.
"Thanks Zordon." Rocky briskly headed toward the elevator that would take him into the Zord holding bay.
* * *
The Angel watched as Billy worked in silence. She found herself mesmerized by him. By his intelligence and his skills. Casually, as she passed him, she extended her hand out to lightly touch him, to perceive his thoughts. And for once she was relieved that the only thing on his mind was fixing the Zord, and not his friend.
She had been spending time with him every since that fateful day. And always he spent the time thinking of his friend. Blaming himself for something that was not his fault. She wished that she could make him understand, but he could neither hear nor see her.
The only way she could help him, was the little bit of peace she could give his mind with her touch, but even it only lasted for a short time. Just enough to keep him sane.
So deep into Billy's thoughts was she, that she never heard his friend set foot in the bay until he was standing next to her. She watched this new person, Rocky, she believed his name was, with curiosity. She could see the love and kindness in his eyes. And laughing a bit to herself, she also saw a bit of prankishness as well. This was a good friend.
"Hey, Billy. Why don't you crawl out of this dungeon, and come to the Juice Bar with us. I'm buying. I'll even let you have the last slice of pizza?" Rocky watched Billy work away. And for a moment, he thought that maybe Billy hadn't understood him.
Rocky was ready to ask again, when he heard Billy say something. But he never moved from under the hood of the car.
"I said I can't. Divatox never leaves you guys alone for long. And, if I don't get these Zords repaired, you guys won't stand a chance."
"Yeah. That last battle was close. Too close." Rocky moved to stand next to Billy, glancing under the hood.
He stood there perplexed. He couldn't make heads or tales of anything he saw under there, and yet Billy was working away like he'd been fixing things like this forever.
"So, what are you doing?" Rocky asked.
"Making a few adjustments." Billy stated from under the hood, never once looking in Rocky's direction.
The Angel listed to the interchange between the two. Rocky moved around Billy to stand at his right side.
"You know Billy. With all of the modifications you've been doing, this is going to be one killer car." Rocky leaned forward and peered deep into the engine, trying to find something he even vaguely recognized.
"What's this thing for?" He asked, pointing to a panel with multi-colored, flashing lights.
When he received no answer he asked again and looked up to find Billy gone. Rocky quickly looked around the holding bay to find that he was completely alone.
"Billy! What did I say?" Instantly he ran over, in his mind, what he had been talking about, and what he had said. "Oh, God Rocky! You idiot! Killer Car?" He closed his eyes for a moment then followed Billy to the main chamber.
"Zordon. Did Billy come up here?"
YES ROCKY, HE DID. HE LEFT HIS COMMUNICATOR AND ASKED ME TO TELEPORT HIM OUT.
"Why? Where did he go?" Rocky looked up at Zordon. He felt like he was going to cry.
HE ONLY TOLD ME THAT IF HE STAYED ALL OF THE RANGERS WOULD BE IN DANGER. HE SET THE COORDINATES HIMSELF AND THEN I TELEPORTED HIM OUT.
"Oh, aye, yai, yai! What happened Rocky? Billy didn't look happy." Alpha's lights were flashing erratically.
"Can you locate him?" Rocky felt distraught and guilty.
I CAN, WITH A LITTLE TIME. BUT, I FEEL THAT WE SHOULD GIVE BILLY SOME TIME ALONE. TOMMY'S DEATH HAS BEEN HARD ON ALL OF US, BUT MOST SPECIFICALLY ON BILLY. HE NEEDS TIME TO THINK. I WILL KEEP AN EYE ON HIM, TO MAKE SURE HE IS SAFE. GO BACK TO THE JUICE BAR WITH THE REST OF THE RANGERS AND I WILL KEEP IN TOUCH.
"Thanks Zordon." With that, Rocky teleported out of the Power Chamber.
"Oh, aye, yia, yia." Alpha voiced unhappily.
Zordon sighed heavily, then his tube became dark once more.
Unbeknownst to those around her, the Angel watched all that had transpired. She felt that she had some questions that needed answers. Slowly she headed for the entrance to the chamber, and as she neared the door she disappeared.
* * *
The new Rangers and x-Rangers; Kim, Adam, Cassie, TJ, Carlos, Ashley, and Jason, sat at their usual table in the Juice Bar. The other Rangers who had been there at the funeral, had to return to their lives elsewhere. They had wanted to stay, but jobs and obligations had called them back. Kat had her dancing in England, Tanya her DJ job and schooling in New York, Zack and Trini had to return to Switzerland, Ayisha had departed almost immediately after the funeral to return to Africa. They had all left unwillingly, but had done so at the urging of their friends. Kim had stayed. She had called coach Schmidt, and told him of the predicament, and he had told her that he would let her have the time if she promised to practice while away. Adam finished up his location work just as held been call, and was now between jobs. And he kept his cell phone on him the whole time so that his agent could reach him if needed. Jason would come to the Juice Bar as soon as classes were over for the day at AGU.
As Ernie watched them, he realized that the small table seemed even smaller with all the kids sitting around it. He sighed to himself. He missed two very familiar faces that were usually there. But Tommy was gone, and how he missed that boy. And Billy.
Shaking his head, he retreated to the back room.
Rocky rushed into the Juice Bar and headed straight for the table. As he came closer Kim looked up with a faltering smile on her lips. Her eyes were still red from the continued crying she had been going through since Tommy's death.
"Where's Billy?" Kim softly asked.
Rocky began to reply when Carlos voiced his opinion.
"Still can't get him out of the Power Chamber, huh?" Rocky shook his head and raised his hands when he heard someone else begin to speak.
"Billy's out of the Power Chamber..."
"Did you check his house?" Kim asked.
Feeling frustrated, Rocky rushed on with what he needed to say, indifferent to who he cut off.
"Billy was there when I got there, then he left. I said something that upset him, and he left. But, that's not all." Rocky took a moment to collect himself. He could feel everyone's eyes on him as he searched for the words to tell them.
Looking up, Rocky gazed at Adam. He could see the worry written all over his face. Adam had been close to Billy when they were Rangers, and still, even after Billy had given up the powers. Adam promptly looked away.
"He left his communicator, set some coordinates, and had Zordon teleport him out. Zordon wouldn't tell me where Billy went, and said that we should let him have some time to himself." After all was said, Rocky sat heavily in a chair offered to him by Cassie.
Ashley pushed her half eaten basket of fries in Rocky's direction, hoping that food would make him feel a little better. Ordinarily it did. But this time, Rocky only looked at the fries, and never touched them. Ashley looked to Cassie and the others. They all knew that if Rocky refused food, then something was very wrong.
The new Rangers hadn't known Billy very long, but he had fit in with them as if he had always been there. That he had never left. He had been friendly to them all, and had become the big brother. Someone they all could turn to for any and all theories about things. They had the questions, he had the answers. But now, there were a lot of questions, and Billy wasn't there to answer them.
"B-But, did you check his home?" Kim could feel the tears filling her eyes for the thousandth time that day. She had lost Tommy, she couldn't bear to loose Billy, too. They had grown up together. He was like the brother she never had.
Rocky looked up at her. Without saying a word, Kim knew that he had checked, and that Billy wasn't there. "His father doesn't even know where he is. He's not taking it well."
"Maybe there's some way we could persuade Zordon to tell us where he is?" Rocky wasn't surprised when Jason finally spoke. It was so like Jason. Quietly sitting back and listening to everything that was being said, and then convert to leader mode.
"Zordon said he would keep an eye on him, and let us know if there was something wrong." Rocky could feel the fries working on him, but he just couldn't do it. He knew he would be nauseated with as bad as he was feeling right then.
All of a sudden, Kim was standing.
"I know where he is!" The entire group looked at her. She wiped the tears from her eyes and gazed at everyone. "You guys," She pointed to the new Rangers. "wouldn't know what I'm talking about, or even you Adam, and Rocky, but Jason...you know where I'm thinking." For a second Jason was confused, then it hit him like a bolt of lightning.
"His uncle's cabin by the lake. We used to go there to study when we had important tests."
"I remember. Billy, Kat and Tommy went up there to go skiing once." Adam could see the look on Kim's face, so he held off remarking that they had taken Tommy there to help him get over the letter Kim had sent. And in the process, had set him up with a local skier.
"We should go." Kim stated. TJ immediately stopped her.
"Zordon said we should let him have some time to himself. If we don't hear from Billy, or Zordon for a few days, we'll call his uncle or go up and see him. He's having a hard time right now, we all are. But, Billy's having a difficult time dealing with it. He and Tommy became close after he returned from Aquitar. Let's just give him some time. What do you say?
"You know how hard this is on you. Think how hard it is when you're blaming yourself for your friends death. Billy's carrying a heavy burden on his shoulders right now. He needs some time to understand that there was nothing he could have done." Kim looked at TJ, nodded her head, then hugged him.
"But, Billy feels that, because he was back in the Power Chamber, he could have teleported there and Zordon would have been able to save Tommy." Kim stated.
"But, Zordon said that he couldn't have saved Tommy either. He said he tried to explain it to Billy, but he refused to listen. Tommy had severe internal injures. Zordon would have only been able to delay the inevitable." Cassie said placing her hand on Kim's.
"I hope Billy will be all right. I don't want to loose him, too." Kim gazed around at all the other sad faces.
Adam had listened intently to the conversation going on around him. A impromptu thought came to him. He knew someone that he could get to talk to Billy, someone who had been through the same things.
Without saying a word, Adam left the Juice Bar, with numerous sets of eyes watching him go.
* * *
Billy watched, powerless, as the car spun out of control and began rolling over and over again. He could smell the burning rubber, and the leaking fuel. But, most of all he could hear his own screams in his ears.
Billy jerked awake, tears streaking his face. Panicked, he gazed around the room, trying the best he could to remember where he was, and what he had been doing.
When he realized he was in his Uncle's cabin by the lake, he sat back on the couch. The nightmares kept coming. He had been there for three days, and had just as many dreams, if not more. Shakily, he lifted his hand to his aching head. When something hard and cold touched his forehead, instead of his hand, he opened his eyes and gazed at the object he held in his hand. Realizing what he had done, been doing for two days, he closed his eyes again.
After the first day at the cabin, the dreams, and the pain had became more than Billy could deal with. He had never drank before, but he didn't care. He needed something to make it all go away. So, he had raided his Uncle's liquor cabinet, and proceeded to drink himself into forgetfulness. And that is where he had kept himself for the last two days. At least he thought it had been two days.
He then pushed himself up off of the couch and made his way to the door, and the dimming light beyond it.
Billy hesitated at the door, and depositing the half empty whiskey bottle on the side table, he continued to walk out the door.
John Cranston heard his nephew scream. It was so loud that John could have sworn that Billy was in the same room with him. With a impatient look to his wife, Mary, he got up from the table and headed to the guest cabins where Billy was staying.
John had been worried about Billy since the day he mysteriously showed up on his doorstep and asked if he could stay for a while. To John, Billy looked hollow eyed, drained, and in pain. There was no way that he would have been able to turn Billy down. He was John's favorite nephew.
When John broached the subject of calling Billy's father, Hank, Billy had been insistent that he did not want anyone to know he was there. And, if anyone did come by looking for him, he asked his Uncle to tell them he hadn't seen Billy.
That was three days ago. Billy had closed himself up in the cabin, and John had yet to see him since. Once in a while, he could hear Billy leaving the cabin in the middle of the night. At times he wanted to go after Billy, to talk to him, but Mary would always tell him to let Billy be.
Many times John had heard screams from the cabin. And it wasn't until now, that Mary allowed him to go and check on Billy. She had become concerned as well. At first she wished him to have some time alone, knowing that he was grieving for his friend.
She had met Tommy a few years ago, when Billy and their friend Kat had come up to go skiing, and she had found Tommy to be a nice, kind, and handsome young man. And she knew that he and Billy had been close friends for years.
But, now, the screams were increasing in number and regularity. And this one had been the loudest, and it had alarmed her severely. So, when John looked at her, she didn't even have to say anything, he knew she was giving him her consent to check on Billy.
John approached the cabin and saw that the door was wide open. He quickened his pace, and stepped up on the porch, reaching for the open door. Moving around the door he stepped inside, and was encountered a sight that he thought he would never see.
Beer bottles littered the coffee table and floor, and to his left, next to the door, sat a half empty whiskey bottle.
"Oh, Billy! What can I do?" John walked into the cabin and shut the door behind him. He wouldn't tell Mary what he found. He would get it cleaned up before she came looking for him and found this instead. John had never known Billy to drink before. When Billy's father Hank had a problem with drinking, after Billy's mother died, Billy would stay at the cabin, declining to be alone with Hank while he was drunk.
John needed to do something. He had promised Billy he wouldn't get in touch with anyone, and tell them he was here. But he couldn't keep the agreement any longer.
Billy needed help.
* * *
As John began to move about the cabin, he was not alone. Silent eyes observed him as he moved around the cabin cleaning up the empty bottles. The Angel had returned to be with Billy, just as he left the cabin. She was about to pursue him, when his uncle came into the cabin. Seeing the pain on John's face, she had to stay.
As John passed near her, she reached out with her hand to lightly touch him. John stopped for a moment and drew in a deep breath, then continued on. Closing her eyes, she focused on John's thoughts.
He was deeply concerned for Billy. Worried that Billy may do something to bring harm to himself. He felt that he should contact Billy's father, or friends.
Opening her eyes, she walked toward John, where he stood above the trash can. She stopped behind him, and slowly, she wrapped her arms around him.
At first his mind was filled with questions without answers. A deep pain had gripped his heart, and he felt like crying. Then, all of a sudden, it was all gone. He was still concerned for Billy, but knew, somehow, that Billy would be all right. That there was someone extraordinary looking out for him.
Sighing deeply, he smiled a faint smile, turned around, and began to clean the cabin once again.
The Angel watched him as he cleaned. She smiled to herself, knowing that the pain in his mind had been eased some. Turning, she headed for the door, then vanished, as she had in the Power Chamber.
* * *
Billy didn't know where he was going, he just started walking. Before he realized it, he had come upon the small clearing that he hadn't been to since he was a child. He would have smiled at the memories, but newer, sadder memories, were overshadowing everything else. He recalled telling Tommy of this place, and promising to show him one day.
Tommy had been privileged that Billy felt that he could share something special like this with him. But, that day had never come.
Now Billy found himself staring up into the trembling leaves of the trees overhead. He wondered if Tommy had been right. That there was something or someone greater, more powerful than themselves. His mother had taught him about God, but as he grew, and the knowledge grew with him, he gained a scientist's mind. One that established that something did not exist if it could not be confirmed, or rationalized. At first his mother had been disappointed in the way he thought, but never willingly admitted it. She knew that he had to decide the truth for himself.
How he missed his mother. It would be comforting to know that she was up there somewhere, looking down on him. And maybe, Tommy would be there with her.
As Billy's thoughts returned to the present, he realized he was smiling slightly. Immediately the smile was wiped away, and Billy continued on past the clearing.
"I'm a bigger fool that I thought. There is no God! He wouldn't be this cruel!"
Without warning, Billy came to a stop. Ahead of him, just within the shadows of the trees, was a dark shape.
"Who are you? This is private property!"
"Your Uncle is very worried about you. And so are your friends." The voice floated out of the darkness, and seemed to flow into his hardened heart. The voice was soft and tranquil. Billy was almost willing to let it pull him away from his pain, but he fought it.
"My friends sent you?" Billy strove to look deeper into the shadows. As his eyes started to focus, the figure began to move into the light. Billy's breath caught in his throat. The dark figure... was a woman. A very beautiful woman. She was dressed all in black, wearing a long black coat. Her dark hair brushed her shoulders as a breeze blew around them. A smile warmed her face as she approached him.
"No, your friends did not send me. I came on my own Billy. I came to help you."
"Help me with what? And how did you know my name?" The woman smiled and looked past him, then gestured, back toward the cabins, with her hand.
"Look, I don't mean to be rude, but I don't know who you are, or why you think you can help me, but this is private property, and I think you should leave." Billy looked at her, but the austerity he tried to paint was not there.
"My name is Aliona." Billy scrutinized her as she held out her hand. Looking back up into her dark hazel eyes, relenting, he placed his hand in hers.
As soon as he touched her hand, he felt a sensation of peace fill him for a brief moment. Until the darkness seeped back in.
"It was nice meeting you, but nevertheless, you should go." Billy turned back toward the cabins, gesturing down the trail. "Just follow this path and it will take you back..." The words were caught in his throat, as he turned around. Aliona was gone. He immediately scanned the trees around him. He couldn't see her anywhere, and he hadn't seen her leave.
"I think I need another drink." Billy headed back to the cabin. He needed to make sure that his Uncle didn't tell anyone else where he was. He desired to be alone right now.
As he approached his cabin, he found his Uncle coming out the door.
"Billy! Are you all right? What can I do to help?" He felt badly that his Uncle John was so distressed, he could see the affection and concern in his eyes.
"I'm fine. I just need some time alone. If you see Aliona again, please don't tell her where I am. Don't tell anyone. Okay?" Billy began to step onto the porch.
"Aliona? I never saw anyone with that name, though it is a real nice and exotic name." John smiled at Billy. But the smile slowly melted from his lips as Billy turned to him with confusion in his eyes. "What's wrong Billy?" John felt dread raise up in him. Was Billy sick? As John moved near him, Billy stopped him with his utterance.
"There was a woman in the woods, she said that she knew my name because you told it to her. She said that you were concerned about me. I assumed that you sent her after me."
"No, Billy. I didn't see anyone today, apart from you. The campers have been kind of scarce lately. What did she look like?" Billy sat down on the step, and placed his head in his hands. What was going on? He felt his Uncle sit down next to him. With his head still in his hands, he turned to look at his Uncle.
"She was exquisite. She had dark shoulder length hair. Mysterious, hazel eyes. And she was dressed all in black." He watched as his Uncle casually shook his head.
"I've never seen anyone like that. Nor have I talked to anyone about you being here." He turned his concerned gaze on Billy. But Billy was no longer looking at him. Without another word, Billy got to his feet and entered the cabin, closing the door behind him.
"I haven't told anyone yet. But I think I need to." John said to himself, as he too, stood and headed to his own cabin and telephone.
* * *
It had been two days since Billy had met the young woman in the woods. He hadn't seen her since. He hadn't really been looking for her when he went for a walks, but in a way he had. He had felt a sense of calm, if just for a instant, when he was in her company. How he longed to feel that calm all of the time.
As Billy tipped the beer bottle all the way up, to drain the last few drops of liquid, he heard a pounding at the door. At first he tried to ignore it, standing and walking to the kitchen for another bottle. The booze was the only thing that seemed to keep the suicidal thoughts from pressing in on him. He didn't know why he kept himself from doing it.
Maybe it was because, deep in the reassess of his mind, he recalled his mother saying, that people who commit suicide go to hell. "Because, murder is murder, weather you do it to another person, or yourself."
As he opened the fridge door and reached for another cold beer, the knocking came again. It was immediately followed by a familiar voice. One that he was happy, and unhappy to hear.
"Open the door Billy. Your Uncle told me you were here." Shaking his head, Billy walked to the door and opened it.
"I should have known he would tell someone eventually." Adam looked at Billy in shock. He had never seen Billy look this way. His eyes were glazed, and red. He was unshaven, and his hair looked like he hadn't brushed it in days. And his clothes looked slept in. "Shocked?"
"Billy. What's happening to you? I've never seen you this way." Adam followed Billy into the cabin, and watched as he sat down on the couch and opened the beer he held in his hand. Adam scrutinized all of the emptied bottles cluttering the floor and the coffee table.
"Maybe you don't know me as well as you thought you did." Billy's words were sharp and cut deep. He almost regretted saying that to Adam, but he quickly looked away and refused to soften.
Adam steeled himself, and refused to let Billy's cutting words hit home. Moving the empty beer bottles aside, Adam sat in front of Billy on the coffee table.
"I...We were worried about you. I know a friend who has gone through the loss of someone close, and I...We thought he could help you." Billy looked at Adam, the bottle raised part way to his lips.
"Help? I don't need anyone's help. I just want to be left alone. Why doesn't anyone listen to me? I don't want him here and I don't want you or any of the others here. Just leave me the hell alone!" Adam winced at Billy's words. They had been good friends for years. This wasn't the Billy he knew. And he wanted that Billy back. No matter what it took.
"Your words won't work. This is not you. Billy was always level headed, and strong! He was always the voice of logic."
"I don't care about that Billy. I'm not that Billy anymore. He died when Tommy died! Now get the hell out of here!" Billy stood and threw the bottle at the half open door, shattering it and sending shards of brown glass, and beer all over the room.
Adam stood and looked Billy in the eye. Their faces only inches apart.
"I'll leave after you've talked to my friend."
Adam walked carefully over the broken glass and opened the door. Outside stood a tall, thin man with short, receding, brown hair. His eyes were deep green, and had a sad, puppy dog look to them. He reminded Billy of an actor he had seen somewhere.
"This is Billy." Adam pointed at Billy. "Billy, this is Seth. Just listen to what he has to say. Then we'll go." When Billy didn't answer, Adam walked out the door, and closed it behind him.
"So, you're Billy? You've got a great friend. Adam came to me about five days ago and told me what had happened. He asked if I would talk to you." Seth moved to sit in the spot Adam had vacated. Then with a motion of Seth's hand, Billy took his own spot on the couch.
"You can't help me. You're just wasting your time, and mine." Billy declined to look at him. Seth kept a indifferent expression on his face.
"Just let me say what I came to say, then you can be the judge on weather this is a waste of time or not. All right?"
Billy figured it would be easier to hear the man out, than debate with him. That way everyone would finally leave him alone.
Seth watched Billy. He would do what he could. He owned Adam that much. Adam said that the man before him was his best friend. He could see that under the hard surface that Billy had put up around himself. Seth smiled, then all at once the smile faded from his face.
There was a slight chill down his back. He knew that he and Billy were not alone. Without being obvious, Seth stood and moved around the room. The feeling seemed to be stronger the closer he was to Billy. Nodding to himself, he took his seat again.
"Adam told me what happened. Why don't you tell me in your own words what happened?" Billy looked at Seth like he'd grown a second head. The guy actually thought he'd talk about it to a stranger?
"If Adam told you what happened, then why do you want to hear it from me?"
"Because you were there." Billy shifted nervously in his seat. Aliona put a ghostly hand on his shoulder. A calmness came over him, then. Letting out a sigh, he closed his eyes, and tried to remember that day.
"It was a overcast day, and it had rained a little. We were at the race course testing out some modifications that I had made to...Tommy's...car. At one point, Tommy said that he felt a strong vibration, and was concerned that something was wrong. I told him that it had only been a strong gust of wind. It had almost knocked me off my feet. Reassured that was what it was, he continued driving. Then that's when it all fell apart. The front wheel came off, and Tommy tried to keep the car on the track. The brakes wouldn't work, because the brake line had broken when the wheel came off. He tried to slow the car by down shifting. The first shift worked, so he shifted again. The car seemed to leap off of the track, and then it was rolling over and over again. I could hear Tommy screaming, and I could hear myself screaming his name. I still hear it." Seth could hear the pain in Billy's voice. He watched as the tears ran a course down Billy's face and drop, unnoticed onto his wrinkled shirt.
Feeling like he was eavesdropping, he closed his eyes, and let Billy's words take him to that fatal day. "When I got to the car, I was afraid of what I would find. But, Tommy was still alive. And he was badly hurt . The EMTs got him out of the car, and put him on the ground until they could get the stretcher. I tried to tell him I could help him, but he wouldn't let me. He said that it was fate, and that there was nothing that anyone could do. But, I could have saved him. It was my fault he crashed, and it's my fault he died!"
Quickly, Billy was off of the couch. He stood above Seth, looking down at him.
"I don't deserve to live, but I can't kill myself either. So, I guess that makes me a coward as well? I don't want to hurt my friends anymore. I could have saved Tommy, but I didn't. I didn't!"
"You are no coward. To kill yourself would be cowardly. You are intelligent Billy. And I think that's the reason you haven't done something really stupid yet. You know the consequences of you actions.
"True, you tried to save Tommy, but Tommy knew there was no use. I talked to Zordon..." Billy looked up at him, an expression on his face that Seth was hard pressed to understand. "I know how you planned to help Tommy. Zordon said that the most he would have been able to do was postpone Tommy's death for a few days. Days that Tommy would have spent in agony. And what would it have been like for his family? And his friends?
"Tommy was seriously damaged inside. No one could have saved him. He knew it, and he was at peace about it. So, who are you angry with? Tommy, because he refused to let you postpone the inevitable, or yourself, because you keep telling yourself you could have saved him by going against his wishes?"
By now, Billy had taken his seat again. His eyes were down cast, looking into his upturned hands.
"I don't know." Billy looked up at Seth.
"Look, I know how hard it is for you..."
"Do you?" Seth felt the bitterness in Billy's voice.
"Yes, I do. I was in love with the most beautiful woman. A surgeon. I knew her for only a very short time. I gave up everything that I was, that I had, to be with her. To give her everything she needed me to give her. We shared one special night together, and the next morning, she was gone.
"At first, like you, I blamed myself. That if I hadn't known her, come into her life, she would have kept living. But, an old friend of mine, Casial, made me see that it wasn't because of me, that it was fate. It would have happened weather she had known me, or not. It was her time to go, and she left.
"And that's the way it was for Tommy." Seth could see Billy's anger swelling. It seemed that there was more than just Tommy's death weighing strongly on Billy's soul.
"I don't believe in fate! If God really existed, he would not be so cruel." Quicker than Seth could move, Billy was out the door, and walking into the woods. He could hear Adam calling after him.
Once again he felt the presence.
"I can't see you, but I know you're there." Seth kept his gaze on the door. Then he made out the soft sounds of someone behind him. Slowly he turned around to face the Angel.
"How did you know I was here?" Aliona asked.
"I used to be like you."
"How? You're mortal." She watched Seth turn back to the door.
"I wasn't always mortal. I fell in love with a mortal woman, and I died to be with her." Aliona came to stand at his side. She was confused. A feeling she had never had before, and one that she didn't like.
"We can't die." She stated. Seth looked over his shoulder at her.
"We can, but the knowledge is not given to us. But, right now, we need to work together. Billy is loosing the battle over his soul. I thought I could make him understand, make him want to keep going. But, I was wrong. I need a favor, and you are the only one who can help me.
"You were there when his friend went on to the Better Battle? Right?" Seth turned around to face her.
"Yes." She looked up at him, puzzlement in her eyes.
"I think you know what we need to do? Will you do it?"
"Yes. To save him, I will." Seth smiled, and soon the confusion on Aliona's face was gone. Replaced with the light of understanding.
* * *
Billy rushed through the trees. Blind rage propelling him onward. He knew the cliff was ahead of him, and he would not stop until he was standing at it's edge.
"Billy!" The voice was vaguely familiar, and at first he refused to respond to it. Determined to continue onward. "Stop!" Realizing that the person calling to him would only keep following, he stopped and turned around.
"Aliona? What are you doing here?" She approached him slowly, her eyes never leaving his.
"Don't do it. It's not worth it. Come back to the cabin." Billy shook his head. He had nothing more to reason with. The talk with Seth had taken more out of him than he had thought. For every reason he had to stop going on, Seth had a reason for him to keep going.
His head hurt, and his mind was in a haze. He looked up as Aliona touched his arm, and the world swam before him. As he tried to fight the feeling, and pull away from her, the world began to tilt away.
Darkness engulfed him.
* * *
Billy bolted upright. Caught in a nightmare he thought, for several months, he had been able to get away from . Looking around in confusion, he found himself laying on the couch, a blanket draped over him.
In the cabin? How?
"Are you all right?" The question surprised him. And so did the woman sitting in the chair across from him.
"What...How?" She smiled reassuringly at him, and leaned forward.
"You passed out in the woods. I had your friends help you back here to the cabin, and told them I would stay with you until you were all right. Your Uncle and Aunt seemed extremely concerned."
Billy felt relaxed by her smile, and leaned back onto the couch.
"Thanks for staying. I thought that I wanted to be alone, but now I'm not so sure." Billy closed his eyes. Trying to sort through all of the questions filling his head. The conversation with his Uncle John, forgotten.
"Who is Cestria?"
"What?" Billy's eyes opened wide, and he glared at her. She was still smiling.
"I heard you call out her name a few times. I didn't think you were having pleasant dreams, the way you said her name. Can I help?"
"No." Billy was in a war with himself. He needed to talk to someone about what had happened on Auqitar, but he wasn't sure he wanted to recall another bad memory. If only someone could understand that Tommy dying wasn't the only thing that had sent him over the edge. He had wanted to talk to Tommy about it. About what had brought him back to Earth. But he didn't feel like the time had presented itself. But here was Aliona, a stranger, who made him believe he had known her forever. And, she was offering to listen to what he had to say.
Looking at her smiling face, and realizing how beautiful she was all the way through, he knew he could trust her.
"It's been a long time. I thought I had been able to let it go, but Tommy dying, brought it back." Billy settled himself more comfortably into the couch, then began his tale.
"Over a year ago, I left Angel Grove because I felt I didn't belong here anymore. I had also fallen in love. She was beautiful, and intelligent. She was my equal in many ways, and in others, she was my superior. I loved her very much, and a few months after I left Angel Grove, we were wed. A month after the wedding, we found out that she was already two months pregnant with my child.
"At first I was apprehensive. We, each, came from very different back grounds, and I didn't know what to expect. But, the physicians assured us that everything would be fine. Relieved by their assurance, I realized that I couldn't wait for the baby to come. I didn't realize how much I wanted to be a father, until then.
"We planed for the arrival, and I worked hard to make sure that we would be all right financially, and that we would be prepared to take care of a child." Aliona watched as the euphoria disappeared from Billy's face, replaced by a immense sadness.
"The day came. She went into labor that morning. She was in so much pain. I had never seen an actual child birth before, so I didn't know if the pain was typical, that she was feeling. When I expressed my concern to the physician, he told me that it indeed was not normal. Still the baby didn't come.
"She passed out several times during the labor. The physician grew concerned that she was becoming weaker. He decided to take the baby, to save both of their lives. But, it was too late. The labor ended, and so did my life with her. I lost Cestria to a long labor that produced my stillborn son." Billy was shocked that there were no tears. Maybe there were no more tears left? He watched as Aliona stood and approached him.
At first he wasn't sure that he wanted her to be close to him, but she was offering support, and comfort.
And he needed it.
Aliona sat next to Billy, and wrapped her arms around him. She felt a strong surge of pain wash over her, as she pulled it away from him.
"It wasn't your fault. That's just the way things are. We can't change what destiny has planed for us. We can only follow it willingly. So that we can learn and grow."
"Why does everyone keep talking about destiny? Is it like a living being standing, waiting somewhere? You're saying, that it was Tommy's destiny to be driving a car, that I had modified, when my modification failed? That it was Cestria's destiny to marry me then die, taking our son with her?" Aliona sat away from Billy and watched him.
"Billy. God does exist. And when it is time for someone to go on to do God's work, it doesn't matter how. All that matter is when. Tommy would have gone that day, even if he had not been driving the car. And he might not have had the comfort of your presence, or the presence of his friends at the time of his parting. And it was the same for Cestria, and your son. You were there when they left this existence, and went on to the next. It comforted them. Even if it didn't comfort you." She tried to smile. To reassure him that she was telling him the truth.
"My heart wants me to believe that you are telling the truth, but my mind is refusing to believe." Aliona could feel his pain. There was nothing more, not yet, that she could say or do to make him believe.
Aliona stood and withdrew to the chair. The sound of broken glass under her feet brought Billy back to the present. Then he recalled the smashed glass on the floor.
"I'm sorry. Let me clean that up." Billy pushed the blanket off of him and propelled himself away from the couch.
"No, I can do it. Just rest." Aliona stooped down to pick up the larger pieces of glass. Billy quickly joined her. He found the neck of the bottle with it's serrated edge, partially hidden beneath the chair. He turned toward Aliona, so that he could get the other pieces from her. She turned at the same time, and the jagged end of the bottle sliced, deeply, across the back of her hand.
Taken by surprise, Aliona gasped, dropped her pieces of glass and grabbed the edge of her coat, wrapping it around her hand.
"Oh, God. I'm sorry. Let me look at it. I have a first aid kit in the kitchen." Billy immediately sat his hand full of broken glass on the table, and reached for her hand. Aliona pulled away from him.
"I'm all right. It was just a scratch." She looked, suddenly, like a caged animal. Looking for a way out.
"Sometimes scratches can be worse than cuts. Just let me take a look at it. Please?" Aliona couldn't refuse. It was the first time he was thinking of something else for a change. And he looked truly concerned.
As Billy grasped her hand, she released her hold on the coat, and watched the shock on Billy's face as he inspected her hand.
"I...I saw the glass cut you. I felt it go in. But...there's no cut!" He looked up into her face. There was no emotion in her eyes. "What the hell is going on?" He selected up a piece of glass from the table and, pressing it to the flesh of her hand, he drew the glass across the palm. No sooner had the glass pierced her flesh, then it seemed to seal back up, as if nothing had happened.
Billy dropped the glass to the floor, and stumbled backwards.
"Who are you? What are you?" There was rage and fear in his voice.
"You don't have to be afraid. I can't feel things the way you do. I can not be hurt. I can not feel pain, anger, hatred, fear. I came here to help you through your pain. And I failed." Aliona advanced toward him, trying to make him understand her words.
"Failed? I don't understand. You say you can't feel things like I do? Like a man does? What?" Billy held his hands up, trying to make her stop drawing near him.
"Like a human does." She watched every emotion conceivable, cross over Billy's face just then. She tried to reach out to him, but he pulled away.
"You lied to me! Why are you doing this to me?"
"Because I fell in love with you. From the very first time I saw you. You looked at me, like I was a tangible woman." Billy's confusion was etched into his face. He remembered the first time he saw her.
"It was in the woods." He watched as she shook her head.
"The first time I saw you, was in the ambulance, when I came for Tommy." Billy backed away from her. What was going on?
"What? I don't remember seeing you that day at all. What's going on? What are you?" Aliona observed him, and stopped where she was.
"We are all round Billy. I was there when Tommy left, to guide him on to the Better Battle. I'm an angel." Billy couldn't believe what he was hearing. This wasn't real. He was still asleep, and this was just one more nightmare.
He glared at her. Anger, hatred, and betrayal pervading him.
"You say you can't feel pain? Well, feel this! I don't believe in you! This is all just a nightmare, and I'm still asleep. There are no angels, and there is no God! Now leave!" Billy pointed to the door. "Here, let me open the door for you, you might pull it off it's hinges because you can't tell how hard you are pulling on the door." Billy stormed to the door, and yanked it open. He then turned around, to confront...an empty room.
Letting out a growl of frustration, he slammed the door and began to clean up the broken glass.
* * *
Seth stood alone on the beach. It had been a long time since he had been here with the others, listening to the music of the sun rising from the ocean. He had told Aliona that he would be here if she need him. So, he wasn't surprised when she suddenly appeared at his side.
"Does the sun still make music as it rises from the water?" Seth closed his eyes, trying to recall the sound.
"Yes." Aliona could hear it distinctly. And she thought that maybe this would be the last time she would hear it. "Seth. Tell me how you became mortal. I thought we could not die."
Seth turned to look at her. A smile on his lips.
"That's what I once thought. Then I met someone who used to be like us. Nathaniel. He told me the secret." Seth gazed at her. He remembered the look well. It was the same look he had when Nathaniel confronted him about Maggie. "It's Billy isn't it?"
"Yes." She looked out at the sun that had finally left the waters of the ocean.
"Okay. You have to die. Not real death, just the death of an angel. You know no fear, so the idea never traversed your mind, that it could be so easy. That all you had to do is take a wrong step off of a building, and it would be the end of your immortal life."
"So you're stating that all I have to do is fall, or something like that?" Seth shook his head.
"It's not that simple. You have to make the decision to do it, and then just do it." Seth turned back to the sun, which was now climbing higher in the sky. "Is Billy okay?"
"I don't know. He found out about me. He was angry." Seth turned to look at her once again. There was real concern in his voice as he spoke. He remembered when Maggie had found out about him.
"Found out about you? Oh, no." He knew what was coursing through Billy's mind, he had been here before, but at the time, he was an angel. "I'd better get up to the cabin. Are you coming?" Aliona just shook her head. She could hear Seth's footsteps in the sand as he headed toward his car.
* * *
Seth arrived, along with Adam, at the cabin in a column of white light. The place looked empty. Adam hurried past Seth and into the cabin where Billy had been staying for the past three weeks.
Before Seth could reach the porch, Adam was back out the door.
"He isn't here." Adam said as he rushed off of the porch and began to look around the area. There were a couple of people walking among the buildings, but neither of them was Billy.
"Don't panic. Go talk to his Uncle and Aunt, see if they have seen him, and I'll go see if I can find him in the woods." Seth stated, needing to get some form of order going. He had wanted to come alone but, unable to keep the information from Adam, had found himself in the Power Chamber. Adam had beseeched Zordon to teleport them both to the cabin. Zordon confirmed that Billy's behavior implied that he may be planning something severe. He had agreed to teleport them both as quickly as possible.
Seth could still feel the aftereffect of the teleport. It far exceed anything he had ever felt before. Even when he had been and angel.
"Right. I'll go and see if they know where he is." Adam rushed off to the main cabin further down the road. Seth sighed, and headed to where he knew Billy would be.
* * *
Billy stood at the edge of the cliff, staring off into the horizon for hours. He thought he had finally convinced himself that jumping off of the edge, was the sensible thing to do. Even though his idea of reasoning had become twisted by the deaths of those closest to him. But, as he approached the edge of the cliff , and looked at the rocks and trees below him, his sanity began to come back to him.
So, it was sitting on a large bolder, that Seth found him.
"Billy. Are you okay?" Shaking his head, Billy kept his back to him.
"I don't know. I thought I knew what I needed to do. To make all the nightmares go away. But, I'm not sure now." Seth moved slowly, and carefully to come and stand beside him.
"I know what you're going through is difficult. It won't become any easier, you just learn to accommodate it. You need to accept that it is part of you life, now." Taking a deep breath, Seth moved around the bolder to stand before Billy. "We are not suppose to be able to do this, I guess you could call it, an emergency situation, but we were able to pull some strings." Billy looked up at him.
"What do you mean we?"
"Aliona, and I." At Seth's words, Billy's eyes widened.
"How do you know Aliona? Do you know what she is?" Seth nodded in reply.
"I do. Because I used to be like her." Billy was beginning to think that it was too late. That he had already gone insane. "She loves you Billy. She's willing to give up everything she knows, everything she is to help you. You want to give up on your life because, you can not endure what you are going through. And yet, she's willing to give up her existence, so that she can live. To be mortal. Don't make the worst mistake you could ever make.
"I had just a few brief moments with Maggie, and I would never give that up for anything.
"Even scientists need to hearken to their hearts sometimes." Billy watched Seth. He didn't know how to explain it, but Seth's words seemed to penetrate the barrier he had put up around himself.
"How can I believe you're telling me the truth?" The notion that Aliona would need to die, to be human, was inconceivable.
"Some things are true, weather you believe them, or not. But, right now, I think you need to see something." Seth pointed into the woods behind Billy.
Uncertain, Billy slid from the bolder, and turned to face the direction which Seth had pointed to.
In the center of the trees, where it was darkest, was a white light, so bright, that Billy needed to shield his eyes from it's brilliance. As he turned to talk to Seth, to ask him what was going on, he caught the sight of a faint figure moving within the light.
As the figure drew near to them, the light behind it began to diminish, allowing Billy to put his hand down. Abruptly, the light behind the figure was gone. The only light now, was the slight glow from the figure itself. A figure that Billy hadn't seen in years, and had never thought to behold again.
The white armored figure strode forth with a stride that Billy remembered well. The well-known sword jouncing slightly against the figure's side. Gloved hands reached up to the helmet clasps, and Billy could hear each one, pop, open. Then, in one causal movement, that made Billy feel a sense of deja vu, the helmet was lifted from the figure's head, and clutched at his side.
"Hello, Billy." Billy felt like he wanted to collapse, to shout in fear and happiness. Anything, but stand there overwhelmed, as he was at that moment. The figure stood before Billy, and held out his gloved hand.
Shaking, Billy reached out and grasped the offered hand.
"I've missed you, man. Aliona told me what was happening, and so I took a few minutes from the battle to come and see you."
"T...Tommy?" Tommy smiled at Billy.
"Yeah. It's me." Billy couldn't believe how excellent Tommy looked. The last images of Tommy that he had, were of the unseeing eyes, and the blood. Now Tommy stood in front of him, without the blood, and a light so intense in his eyes, they almost resembled mirrors. And there was a glow that appeared to surround him.
"I was there. I saw you die. But, here you are, the White Ranger, again. How?"
"My body died, but I am still alive, just in a different way than you imagined. I told you I was going on to fight the Better Battle. I was always destined to be the White Ranger. Though I had been other rangers, this was who I was predestined to be. I like the armor better than the spandex, though." Tommy chuckled and looked at Billy.
"So, you are like Aliona?" Billy asked. Tommy shook his head.
"No. Aliona is an Angel. I am a Warrior. I can not be like Aliona, because I have been human. She has not." Tommy then looked intently at Billy.
"What are you doing, bro? It's not time for you to go on to the Better Battle. Not yet." Billy looked to where Seth had been, but he was gone.
"It was my fault you died, and Cestria and my son died. I can't live with that anymore." Billy turned away from Tommy and looked out over the valley. Tommy wondered what had brought Billy back to Earth, and his heart ached for him.
"It's not your fault. It's no ones fault. It was our time. I was needed for the Better Battle, and Cestria and your son for other important work. You wouldn't have been able to save Cestria and your son any more than Zordon would have been able to save me. It was time."
"You know I don't believe in fate!" Billy felt angry. Even though the evidence was staring him in the face.
"Weather you believe it or not, that's what it is. There was a reason we were chosen to be Rangers. We needed the knowledge and experience. Because, at the right time, we would all be essential for the Better Battle. But only, when our time comes. And it's not your time yet, bro.
"If you do this now, who will take the significant place you are needed for in the battle? The Rangers need you now! He needs you later. Don't make the biggest mistake of your life." Tommy turned Billy to face him, and laid a hand on his shoulder. "I know you, being of a scientific mind, finds it hard to believe in something greater than Zordon, or Dulcea. But, even Zordon has to acknowledge someone higher than himself. And just because you can't see it or touch it, or even hear it, doesn't mean it don't exist.
"It does, just not in this dimension. You do believe in alternate dimensions...right?" Billy nodded his head. He had been left speechless by Tommy's words. Let alone his very presence. How could he reject the evidence that was there in front of him? "When I depart , will you cease to believe that I ever existed? Will you need scientific proof that I am?
"No." Billy stated without doubt.
"You've got a lot to live for. Don't give it up. Don't waste it." Tommy let his hand fall to his side. "I am where I should be. I hold no grudges, and I am happy. And in time, we will all be fighting together again. And this time we won't be fighting for the Earth or the Universe. But we will be fighting the greatest evil for the survival of all mankind.
"The Better Battle!" With a smile Tommy and Billy clasped hands once more.
"Good bye Billy. I'll be seeing you around." Nodding slightly, Tommy turned and began to walk away. As Tommy drew further and further away from him, the bright light emerged once more. Then as Tommy began to retreat into the light, he placed the helmet on his head.
Billy began to step forward, as if to say something, just as the bright light flared and encompassed Tommy. When the light faded, Tommy was gone.
"See you around...Bro."
Now Billy knew that he had to keep going. Tommy didn't blame him for his death, and he felt sure, that Cestria didn't either. Feeling a sense of peace wash over him, one that had been missing for so long, he turned away from where Tommy had disappeared and found Seth watching him from a short distance away.
"I take it, that your visit helped?" Seth asked. His arms folded across his chest.
"Yes. I think I can deal with it all now."
"Good. Your friends will be relieved to know that you are well once more. As well as your family, I would think." Seth smiled and held out his hand to Billy. "I'm glad I could help. I guess I'll be heading back to L.A. now. You take care."
"Thank you Seth. And I guess I should thank Adam and Aliona as well. Aliona... Where is she?"
"I don't know. I'm sure that she will find you when the time is right." Seth said as he began to walk away.
"I don't know. I'll see you around." Billy waved as Seth headed off in the direction of the cabins. Billy remained where he was, and gazed at the trees around him. Hoping that Aliona would suddenly appear. When she didn't he raced back to the cabin. He needed a ride back to Angel Grove.
Just don't do anything, Aliona.
* * *
Aliona watched the sun in the sky, and listened to the music in the wind. This would be the last time she would be able to hear the music, and see the light in the same way. But, she would gladly give it all up, to be able to give to Billy the things that he needed.
She didn't know how it had happened, or when. But, she had fallen in love with Billy, and wanted to be with him. To be able to feel him when they touched.
Stepping up to the ledge of the building, she gazed down on the small cars passing below her. She tried to make this decision. And carry it out. She trusted Seth, that he had been telling her the truth. That when she opened her eyes, after the fall, her life as an angel would be over, and life as a mortal would just be starting.
Closing her eyes, she raised her arms out to her sides. A preternatural breeze wrapping her long black coat around her.
With a slight bend to her knees, she pushed herself off of the ledge, and listened as the wind sang it's farewell into her ears, to be forever ingrained into her memory. She kept her eyes closed, feeling things change around her. Then all was dark, and there was a sudden flash of pain unlike anything she had ever felt before.
Aliona didn't know how long she lay there, twisted and broken. She heard voices around her in the darkness, but was uncertain how to make the darkness go away. There were things going on in her body, that she knew could only be pain, and with each jerk she felt it.
She tried to call out to the voices around her, but she couldn't make her mouth work. Couldn't make the words come out. There was a unfamiliar taste in her mouth. It was indescribable, but it seemed to be coming from her lip.
"Ma'am? Are you all right? What happened?" A young man in a business suit shook her gently. He had been passing by the alley on his way home from work when he had heard a loud crash. When he ventured into the alley to check on the sound, he had found a young woman laying on the ground. He wasn't sure if she was alive or dead.
Quickly he checked her out, and found that she was still breathing. There didn't seem to be anything wrong with her, except a few bruises, and a lacerated lip.
Aliona heard the voice again. And this time she forced her eyes open. Abruptly, she closed them against the brilliance of the light. Trying to move, she felt pain lance through her body. Then she felt hands grip her arms.
She felt the hands!
Surprised by the understanding, she opened her eyes again, and focused on the face before her.
"Thank God you're alive. I was worried. Are you all right? You're not seriously hurt are you? What's your name?" The man helped Aliona to her feet, and she gazed around her, then into the young man's green eyes. He was just a little taller than she was, with dark tan skin. His suit was dark gray, and he wore a blue shirt and black tie.
"You can see me?" The man seemed confused by her question. Of course he could see her. She looked like she'd just fallen off of a building.
"Maybe you hurt your head. You'd better sit down." The young man lead her to a step by a locked door, and helped her sit down.
"This is blood isn't it?" She said looking down at some small cuts on her hands. "I...I'm alive." She looked up at him with a smile that made the man think he was going nuts.
"Yah, you're alive. Do you need a doctor, or anything?"
"No. Thank you. Everything...is...fine." She looked back down at her hands, and began to laugh.
Feeling like, maybe he had walked into a situation he wasn't prepared to deal with, the young man picked up his briefcase, and quickly left the alley.
* * *
Adam had teleported back from the cabin with Seth. Then when they arrived at the Youth Center, he had seen Seth off. He'd also asked the gang to meet him there in an hour, and that Billy would be joining them. That was where he was when a young woman, clad all in black, walked up to him.
"Adam. Where is Billy? Is he all right?" She looked like she had been in an accident, and Adam gripped her arm in concern.
"Billy's fine, what about you? Are you all right?" She smiled at him, and it was a smile of such happiness, he did not doubt that she was fine. "How do you know my name?"
"Billy told me, and I have never felt better." Adam didn't believe that by looking at her. "Where is Billy. You've got to tell me where he is."
"He should be on his way back home. Let me get you something to drink, then I'll take you over to his place." Aliona wanted to go there now, but there was an unusual dryness in her mouth.
"All right. But, you promise you'll take me to him as soon as possible?"
"I promise." Adam lead her into the Youth Center, to the juice bar, where he ordered a apricot smoothy from Ernie, and a wet rag.
* * *
Billy walked into the empty house, and felt relieved to be home. Uncle John had asked if Billy needed him to stay until his father got home. But, Billy felt fine, and wave his Uncle on.
His father was out of town on business, and would be home in a few days. But, he didn't feel saddened by the fact. He looked around at all of the familiar objects. Everyday things, that in one brief moment of insanity, would have been lost to him forever.
He had promised Adam that he would meet up with him and the others at the Juice Bar later, once he'd had some time to eat, and get cleaned up.
As he passed by the phone, he noticed a red light flashing on the answering machine. Billy pushed the button above the flashing light.
"Billy, this is dad. Adam told me that you would be home soon and that everything was going to be all right. You don't know how happy I was to hear that. I didn't really want to go on this business trip, but I couldn't loose my job. I hope you forgive me. I knew John would watch over you, and let me know if something happened.
"When I called I got the answering machine, and not knowing when I would be able to call again, I thought I would leave a message, and tell you...I love you, son. I'm glad that you're home, and that everything will be fine. When I get home, we'll spend some time together and talk. I love you son. I'll call as soon as I can. Bye." The answering machine stopped and rewound the message. It had been a long time since Billy had heard his father tell him he love him.
Billy was getting ready to press the button to listen to the message again, when the doorbell rang.
"I'm coming Adam." He guessed that the others couldn't wait any longer to see him and had convinced Adam to bring them here.
So, expecting to see the gang outside, Billy pulled open the door, and was surprised to see one lone figure standing in the doorway.
"Aliona? What are you doing here?" Gone was the hatred and accusation in his voice. It was now replaced by concern. He saw the cuts and bruises. She did it.
"I had to come. I wanted to be with you." Billy quickly opened the door and led her inside. He gently touched the bruise on her cheek and the cut on her lip. When she pulled away, he knew that she was no longer an angel.
Billy had hoped that she would not go through with it. That she would not give up the wonderfulness of immortality, for the pain of being mortal. But, now that she was standing before him, he felt happy that she did.
"I'm glad you came. I wanted to thank you for what you did for me." He smiled at her. A smile she had never seen before. And she realized that everything had been worth it, just to be here with him, to feel him touch her, to see him smile. She returned his smile, and felt herself drawn to him.
Billy felt the same pull, and before he realized it, he had pulled Aliona into his arms, and drew her lips to his. As the kiss deepened, Billy realized this was the one thing missing in his life to make it all worth living for. He would never let Aliona go. They had stand up against so much together, that it seemed appropriate that they would weather everything else, together, as well.