..........Soccer practice at Angel Grove
High was over. Zack, Billy, and Jason walked away wearily from the playing
field. The practice had been hard. The temperature was an unseasonably
high ninety degrees and they had scrimmaged with the second string team
all morning. It had been a hard won victory... Jason was limping and Billy
was bleeding from a variety of cuts and scrapes.* * *..........The miniÐmarket seemed fairly
empty. June pulled into a parking place and handed Billy a twenty. "I
hate these places. I'll wait for you... don't be too long." She smiled.
.........."Oh man," muttered Jason.
"I think this is swelling." He gestured to his knee, which was
looking a little puffy.
.........."Perhaps you should consider
applying ice." Billy said helpfully. He wiped the blood off his scraped
face absentmindedly as he spoke.
.........."I can't believe the save you
made." Zack's face danced with remembered excitement. "You were
lucky you hit the dirt instead of Bulk's cleats."
..........Billy nodded. He had a feeling that
when his own excitement wore off, he was going to regret trying out for
the goalie position in a big way. He saw his mother's car pull in. "My
mom's here... either of you need a ride?"
..........They shook their heads. "Are
you stopping by the Youth Center this afternoon?" Jason asked. Saturdays
at the Youth Center were usually pretty cool... today there was going to
be a computer game demonstration that Jason knew Billy would love.
.......... "Of course. See you in about
an hour?" They nodded agreement and Billy walked to the waiting car.
..........His mother was not enthralled with
his appearance. "Did your teammates draw enough blood?" June
Cranston smiled a little, but her voice was concerned. She didn't like
sports and she didn't like seeing her only child look like he'd been mashed
between some trees. "We're stopping at the miniÐmarket."
.........."Because there's no first aid
supplies at the house, and you look like you need a couple boxes of band-aids."
.........."Ok." He returned the
smile, and trotted over to the market. It was suddenly cold when he stepped
into the store, and he let the air conditioning waft over his soaked uniform,
enjoying the cool air. He glanced around. The place was fairly empty. Just
the cashier and a guy in an army jacket looking over the chips. He quickly
located the first aid supplies and picked up what he needed. He saw an
ice filled bin and fished out two sodas.
..........He laid his purchases on the counter
and the cashier was ringing him out when he heard a click and felt rough
hands grab him from behind. He tried to twist away but his assailant yanked
his head back. He felt cold metal pressed up behind his ear.
.........."Don't fucking move or I'll
blow your brains out!" Out of the corner of his eye, Billy caught
a hint of camouflage. The guy by the chips evidently. He ceased struggling.
The twenty dollars wasn't worth dying for.
.........."Don't shoot, man." said
the clerk. He opened the cash register. "You can have it all, just
.........."Put it all in one of those
bags!" The clerk did as he was told.
* * *..........June looked at her watch. Billy
was seldom that slow with an errand. Probably found one of his friends,
she figured. It was hot in the car, and it occurred to her that a cold
soda would really hit the spot. It also gave her an excuse to pry her son
away from the store.
* * *.........."Now, you...." the
thief shoved Billy a little. "Get the bag and hand it to me!"
Billy took the bag from the clerk and awkwardly passed it to the thief.
"Good," muttered the thief. "Now, nice and slow, we're gonna
walk to the door." They stepped sideways to the door.
..........June Cranston, unaware of the drama
going on inside, opened the door. "Oh my God!" Her natural reaction
was to step forward.
.........."Mom, no!" Billy felt
the gun leave his head and twisted around to try and stop the thief, but
he was violently shoved, headfirst into the counter. He slid to the floor,
stunned and bleeding. As he struggled to regain his feet, the thief extended
his arm and fired the pistol six time at point blank range into June's
.........."Bitch." said the thief,
and he spat on her as he stepped over her body. Then he was gone.
..........Billy dimly heard the cashier shrieking
over the phone. As he stared at the bloody mass that had seconds earlier
been his mother, he reached around to the small of his back and found his
morpher. For the first time, touching it in no way reassured him that things
would be ok.
* * *..........Jason looked at his watch. Billy
was late... almost a half hour. It was a little odd but he didn't let it
bother him too much. More than likely, something had come up. He leaned
back in his chair and sipped his juice.
..........The Juice Bar was pretty full. Computer
games, Jason thought, must be more popular than he thought. It wasn't really
his thing, and he got the impression that Billy was usually more intrigued
with how the game was made, not how it was played. Tommy had decided to
do some studying, and Zack had changed his mind about the day's event and
had joined the girls over at the park. Jason had considered it, but stayed
behind, mostly because his knee really was bothering him. As the place
filled up with younger than usual kids, he started to regret his decision
to at least wait for Billy. He decided to give his friend ten more minutes
and then he was going home.
..........As he readjusted the ice pack on
his knee, he saw Bulk and Skull enter the Youth Center. To his mild surprise,
they seemed... somber. Subdued. Almost... shaken. He wondered what was
up. Probably, he thought with a grin, they've had yet another defeat in
their quest to discover the identities of the Power Rangers.
..........Skull went right up to the bar.
Bulk followed, and then hesitated. He walked over to Jason's table. "Jason,"
he said in a quiet, unÐBulk like voice, "We've got to talk."
.........."Okay... have a seat."
Jason said. As Bulk sat down heavily, Jason started to get worried.
.........."Um..." began Bulk, "You
know the mini market that's a block away from school?" Jason nodded.
"Well, it was robbed this morning."
.........."Uh, that's too bad."
Jason meant that. Angel Grove was fairly crime free but every once in a
while.... He didn't really understand why Bulk was acting so... upset.
"Was anyone hurt?"
.........."Yeah." Bulk looked down
at his feet. "Look, we haven't always gotten along but... when my
dad told me this... I thought you would want to hear it from someone you
knew... not on the TV."
.........."What? Who was hurt?"
Jason's worry increased. Something really bad had to have happened... no
way was Bulk a good enough actor to fake it this well.
..........Bulk looked him in the eye. For
an instant, he looked almost like an adult. "It was Billy's mom, Jason."
As Jason absorbed the news, Bulk continued with, "My dad's a cop,
you know... he got called to the scene. They took her to the hospital but...
he said she was already dead."
.........."But I just saw her...."
Jason was shocked. It was so sudden. He sat there for a moment, utterly
stunned. Then, "Does Billy know?"
..........Bulk nodded. "He saw the whole
thing... my dad said he was pretty messed up... they took him to the hospital
too." Bulk looked over to the bar, where Skull was sitting morosely.
"Um... look, Skull's kinda upset... they were neighbors and all....
I just thought you'd want to know." He stood up.
..........So did Jason. "Bulk... I'm
glad you told me. Thanks." He held out his hand. Bulk took it and
shook with him.
.........."You're welcome." Bulk
went over to the bar and began consoling Skull. Jason watched, suddenly
surprising himself with the thought that Bulk and Skull weren't as nasty
as they wanted people to think. After a few seconds, he shook off his contemplation
and ran out the door. If there was ever a time that Billy needed a friend,
it was now.
* * *..........The hospital waiting room was
very full. Jason had to look for a few moments before he found anything
familiar. In the end, he finally just followed a police officer and located
Mr. Cranston sitting in a corner, looking shocked and slowly answering
a police officer's questions. He saw Jason standing behind the new officer
and a trace of a smile flitted across his face.
.........."Mr. Cranston...." Jason
was at a complete loss. "I'm... sorry." He didn't know what else
to say... except, "Where's Billy? Is he ok?"
..........Mr. Cranston slowly nodded his head,
obviously having some difficulty forming an answer. "He'll... he'll
be fine." He then burst into tears. The first police officer gave
the distraught man a sympathetic hug, and the second police officer gently
drew Jason aside.
.........."Are you a friend of the family?"
..........Jason nodded. " Can I see Billy?"
..........The police officer hesitated. "Well...
the doctor should just be finishing up... but they don't usually let nonÐfamily
.........."We're cousins." Jason
couldn't believe how effortless the lie came. The cop smirked.
.........."Yeah, right. Over there."
The cop pointed to one of the rooms.
..........He stepped into the treatment room
quietly. Billy was sitting on the edge of the examining table. There was
a small bandage on his left temple, the only injury Jason could see, aside
from the scrapes from the game. For such a little injury, there was a lot
of blood on Billy's clothes... his sneakers and socks were soaked. For
a second, Jason had no clue as to how that was possible. Then, he realized
that it likely wasn't Billy's blood at all. His stomach suddenly felt queasy,
but he kept it together.
.........."Jason..." Billy was looking
at him, but not really seeing him. His eyes looked like they were far away.
"I think I lost my glasses." His voice was low, almost inaudible,
and his skin was pale. Jason could see beads of sweat on his brow and noted
that Billy was trembling... almost vibrating. "Have you seen my glasses?"
.........."No... but I'll keep an eye
out for them." Jason took a seat next to him on the table. He wanted
to be reassuring but he didn't know what to say. "How do you feel?"
..........Billy slowly shook his head. "I
don't feel anything... the doctor gave me a shot.... I can't think."
The trembling increased. Jason put his arm around Billy, partly to comfort
him, and partly to keep him from falling off the table. Billy sighed deeply.
"It was my fault, Jason. It's all my fault."
.........."No it wasn't. " Jason
.........."Yes it was." Billy insisted.
He stared down at his bloody sneakers. "I... I should've moved quicker...
gotten the gun away." He fingered his communicator as he spoke. "I
could've saved her. But I didn't. It's my fault. It should have been me,
not her." He paused, his voice still low and monotone. "I should've
died. I deserve to die."
.........."Billy," Jason was scared
but trying hard not to let his fright reach his voice, "It was not
your fault. You aren't a bad person. You don't deserve to die. Don't think
.........."It was my fault." Billy
insisted. He blinked a few times, his eyes having trouble keeping in focus.
Jason realized that the tranquilizer Billy had been given was probably
taking effect. "Have you seen my glasses, Jason?"
.........."No," Jason said sadly,
"But we'll find them."
* * *..........Trini and her parents knocked
on the Cranston's front door. Mr. and Mrs. Kwan knew that there was no
close family to give Ward Cranston a hand with things like the funeral
arrangements, calling hours, and other such necessities. How, her mother
had said the night before, can we not try to help? June Cranston had been
the first neighbor on the block to make an effort to be friendly when the
Kwans had moved in eleven years earlier. Their kids were friends. The Cranstons
were godparents to their two younger daughters. The two families had celebrating
Thanksgiving together on several occasions. Linda Kwan hadn't really needed
the whole arsenal to convince her husband... she had needed to vent.
..........Trini knew how her mother felt.
Jason had walked over the night before to give her the news. When she'd
opened the front door and saw Jason standing on her porch, looking like
he'd been clobbered, she had known something horrible had happened. Her
first thought had been that Tommy had lost what little was left of his
powers. The truth had been far worse.
..........Mr. Cranston answered the door.
He looked ruffled and unkept. His eyes were bloodshot. He looked, Trini
realized unhappily, hung over.
Ward seemed a little dazed. "Um... please. Come in...."
..........He led them to the living room.
A bottle of whisky was tipped over on the floor. On one of the end tables
was a bottle of gin... mostly empty. There were a few beer cans littered
around on the floor. Trini and her parents exchanged knowing looks but
said nothing. Trini was appalled but too polite to say anything. Her parents,
older and and wiser, were merely even more sympathetic. Ward looked around,
and made an effort to pick up. "I'm sorry... the place is a mess...."
..........John Kwan stepped over to the stricken
man. "Ward... don't worry about it." He gently directed Ward
to the couch. "We thought you might need a hand with... things."
.........."Why don't we make some coffee?"
Linda nodded to Trini, and they left the men to discuss the arrangements.
..........The kitchen was in as much of a
mess. More liquor bottles were thrown about, and there was broken glass
on the floor. Breakfast dishes from the previous day were still in the
sink. Sitting on the counter were several bottles of prescription medication.
On the table were a pair of bloody sneakers and some equally bloody clothing.
Linda quickly located the coffee and got it perking, all the while Trini
just gaped about.
..........Linda looked at the clothes on the
table, and sighed. She picked them up and threw them in the trash. That
action broke Trini out of her stupor.
.........."Mom, those are Billy's clothes."
She fished them out of the garbage. "He might want them...."
Trini was close to tears.
.........."Honey...." Linda said
gently. "Do you really think he'll want them?" Trini looked down
at the clothes. It would be impossible to get the stains out, she realized.
Linda took the clothes and put them back in the trash can. Then she gave
Trini a hug. "It'll be ok... I know this is hard."
..........Trini smiled, grateful for the comfort.
"Maybe," she said, sniffing a little and wiping her eyes, "maybe
we should pick up in here... so Mr. Cranston and Billy don't have to?"
.........."That's what I was thinking."
Linda started doing the dishes. Trini picked up the broken glass. As she
threw it out, she caught sight of the bloody clothes, a thought struck
her with the force of a cannon ball. Billy... where was he?
.........."Mom, I'm going to find Billy."
She waited until her mother acknowledged that.
.........."OK... but honey... if he's
sleeping... don't wake him up." Linda gestured to the prescription
bottles. "I can't imagine that he's feeling too good."
* * *..........Billy was not in his room. He
was sitting curled up by the toilet in the bathroom. It was obvious to
Trini that he was in pretty bad shape. "Billy?"
..........He looked up at her. There were
puffy smudges of black under his eyes. "TÐTrini? What arÐrÐre
you dÐdoing here?" He uncurled a little and crossed his arms as
if he was cold.
.........."We came over to give you and
your dad a hand." She knelt down beside him. "Did you sleep in
here?" She was worried.
..........He nodded. "When we cÐcÐcame
bÐback from the hÐhospital... Dad was upset aÐand he kÐkept
insisting we bÐbÐboth needed a dÐdrink. I gÐgot sÐsÐsÐso
sick." Warning bells went off in Trini's head. Hadn't Jason said that
Billy was pretty well tranquilized at the hospital? A lot of alcohol on
top of that.... Billy was probably lucky that all he did was throw up.
Her anger at Mr. Cranston rose, but she ignored it for the moment. Billy
needed her help, and bad mouthing his dad wasn't going to help the situation
.........."Billy...." She leaned
up against him, trying to give him some support. He was shivering and his
eyes were dilated. "I think you'd be a lot more comfortable in bed.
I'll give you a hand." Without waiting for his consent, she put her
arm around him and hefted him up. Fortunately it was only a few staggered
steps to Billy's bedroom. She set him down on the bed, and Billy, who was
at best semiÐconscious, tipped over on his side and fell asleep.
..........Or was unconscious... Trini couldn't
really tell. She threw a blanket over her friend, and went to find her
mom. Someone had to do something.
* * *.........."Billy's really sick, Mom."
Trini tried to keep the frantic edge out of her voice, but couldn't.
..........Linda gave her daughter another
hug. "Honey, he'll be all right... the doctors wouldn't have released
him from the hospital if they thought something was seriously wrong."
..........Trini pushed away and stomped over
to the counter. She picked up the medicine bottles. An antibiotic, a painkiller...
she held out the last one to her mom. This is Valium, Mom. Jason told me
that they gave two of these to Billy before they let him leave. Then Mr.
Cranston had him drink God knows how much alcohol... do you see what I'm
getting at? He's really sick...."
..........Linda took the Valium from Trini.
"He was drinking... on top of this?" she asked, more to herself
than to Trini. "He is breathing, isn't he?" She started to head
toward the door, but Trini held up her hand.
.........."He was talking to me a few
minutes ago... sort of, anyway." Trini said. "I just can't believe
Mr. Cranston allowed this to happen."
..........Linda shook her head at Trini. "Oh,
Trini.... You're right but you're not. I keep asking myself why didn't
we come over last night. It must've been awful... coming home to an empty
house, no one to talk to except Billy... and I'm sure Billy was in no shape
to give Ward any support. He probably needed it more than his father."
She paused, and took Trini's hands in her own. "What's done is done.
What we need to do now is help both Mr. Cranston and Billy get themselves
back on an even keel." She hesitated, not quite sure of how to say
something. "Trini... I know you and Billy are... close...."
..........Trini blushed. The "sort of"
relationship she and Billy had, not quite going out, not quite just friends,
was really the last thing she expected her mother to bring up. "Mom...."
.........."What I'm trying to say is
that, right now, Billy needs his friends... just... try to be understanding
if in the next couple of weeks he seems... angry or unhappy. He might have
some trouble coping, and he might take it out on his friends." Linda
gave Trini's hands a gentle squeeze. "Do you understand what I mean?"
..........Trini nodded. She thought she knew
what her mom meant. Her only real concern was the whole Lord Zedd situation.
She crossed her fingers and fervently wished that, if nothing else, there
were no battles until after the funeral.
* * *..........Billy opened his eyes. It was
late afternoon, according to the digital clock by his bed. He rolled over
on his back, wincing at all the aches and pains. He felt like a giant bruise.
It seemed like too much trouble to get out of bed... he was tired. He closed
..........And saw, in his mind, the mini market.
He was buying band aids...the guy with the army jacket grabbed him. His
mom walking through the door. The gun... the shots....
..........His eyes flew open. The day before
rushed back to him. It was overpowering... he suddenly realized that he
was holding his breath. He let it out slowly, trying to gain some sense
..........He sat up and put his feet on the
floor. When did I change clothes, he wondered. He didn't remember changing...
but then, everything after the shooting was blurry... and did he really
want to think that hard about the day before? Not really....
..........His stomach growled. He stood up,
and felt a wave of dizziness rush through his head. He swayed but kept
his balance. Gingerly, he felt the bandage on his head. It, like almost
every other part of him, was sore. Maybe I can find some aspirin, he thought
as he padded softly down the hallway, and some food.
..........He stepped into the kitchen. To
his surprise, Tommy and Jason were there... evidently they'd been talking.
* * *..........Tommy and Jason had been talking,
and seriously at that. Jason had spent the whole night unable to sleep,
an icy cold fear gnawing at him. When Trini had told him how she'd found
Billy that morning, he'd been so angry with himself. He should've known
that Mr.Cranston was really in no condition to be alone... and Billy wasn't
himself. He had shared their conversation with Tommy, hoping for some help.
..........Tommy felt out of place sitting
in Billy's kitchen. He hadn't really known Mrs. Cranston that well... they'd
said hi a few times but that was about it. She'd seemed nice, she always
offered cookies and asked how he was but.... He felt terrible for Billy,
that was for sure, but as he listened to Jason's story, he tried to put
it in perspective.
.........."Of course he blames himself."
he told Jason. "Wouldn't you? Stop and think about the whole situation....
An hour and a half before you saw him... he was watching some scum bag
turn his mom into hamburger. Don't you think that might've messed up his
..........Jason had nodded. "It just
really worries me... I mean, he said it should've been him. That he was
.........."Jason," Tommy said slowly,
"Billy's mom could've been hit by a car on the way to work, and Billy
would find a way to blame himself. When my parents were killed, I was convinced
it was all my fault because they had been driving to pick me up after a
karate class." He paused a moment. "It took my aunt months to
convince me that I wasn't really to blame. Give Billy some time."
.........."I will." Jason said "I
just hope that Lord Zedd does too." He looked up in surprise as Billy
quietly stepped into the kitchen. Billy looked tired. Exhausted. His whole
body seemed beaten down. Jason didn't know what to say. "Hey."
.........."Hey." Billy acknowledged.
He hadn't caught any of their conversation except 'Lord Zedd does too'.
He didn't much care either. He didn't feel like talking... even thought
he was curious to know why Tommy and Jason were hanging out in his house.
All he really wanted was something to settle his rolling stomach.
.........."So...." Jason watched
as Billy peered into the fridge. It was painfully obvious that Billy could
barely see. "How are you doing?"
..........As he clenched a carton of something,
a wave of pure rage went through Billy. He slammed the refrigerator door
and turned around. He was shaking with fury. In the back of his mind, he
knew Jason hadn't meant anything by what he said but he couldn't control
.........."Well, Jase...." he snarled.
"Let's see. Yesterday morning, some psychopath killed my mom for about
two hundred dollars because I wasn't quick enough to stop him. My father
spent the night in an alcoholic coma. I spent the night vomiting, from
what I think was an accidental overdose... does that pretty much bring
you up to date?" He glared at the two of them. "What the hell
are you two doing here anyway? This isn't some circus freak show!"
With that, he stormed out of the room, leaving his friends to ponder.
.......... Well, I guess that answers my question."
..........Tommy nodded. He was starting realize
that Jason might have good reason to be worried.
* * *..........Far away, evil eyes were watching.
.........."Ha ha ha!" shrieked Rita
Repulsa. "Poor Billy lost his mommy! Now is the perfect time to destroy
the Power Ranger's think tank!" She continued laughing maniacally.
"Let's send down a monster, ZeddieÐpoo!"
.........."Not so fast, my pet."
Zedd crooned. "Let's wait until Billy is at his most vulnerable...
then, destroying him will be like crushing an ant!"
.........."But master..." droned
Goldar, "what if his friends try to make him feel better? Maybe we
should strike now."
.........."Nonsense!" Zedd glowed
red. "We'll wait until just the right moment... and then... good bye
* * *..........Kimberly had suggested that
they attend the evening calling hours at the funeral home as a group. The
evening hours because, well... she figured after a long day, Billy might
want to see some friends. As a group because she thought it would be a
nice show of support. Of course, Trini had attended the earlier calling
hours with her parents, as had Adam and Jason, but they all were coming
back that evening. It was a good thing too... only to herself would Kimberly
admit that the whole idea of "a viewing" just creeped her out.
Trini had assured her that the coffin was closed. Even then, it still gave
Kimberly a chill to pull up to the funeral home.
.........."Don't worry." Tommy gave
her a reassuring hug as they got out of his car. He knew she was a little
phobic about dead things. Zack, Rocky, and Aisha piled out of the back
seat. Trini, Adam, and Jason were waiting at the front steps. It was, Kimberly
realized with humor, probably the first time in weeks that all nine (including
poor Billy inside) friends had been all together. Rocky, Adam and Aisha,
like Tommy, were a little uncomfortable since they also hadn't known Mrs.
Cranston that well, but they wanted to be supportive.
.........."Man... what should we say?"
Zack tugged at his tie nervously.
.........."Should we say anything at
all?" Rocky asked. He too was a bit nervous.
.........."Guys... whatever you say will
be all right." Aisha said. "Billy just needs to know that we
.........."Yeah," agreed Jason,
"But remember... he's really on edge. This morning, he couldn't even
.........."Really, " said Adam.
"He was pacing back and forth... jumping at loud noises... he made
.........."Maybe he'll have calmed down
a little." Trini suggested, her fingers crossed behind her back in
* * *..........Billy had calmed down. In fact,
he was feeling pretty mellow. At around three that afternoon, his father
and a distant cousin had strongly suggested that he would "feel much
better" if he actually took some of his medication. A painkiller and
two valiums later, and he was mentally riding the waves. Not that he felt
any better... in fact the sedatives were just letting him focus on his
depression and guilt better, but at least he could sit still and calmly
..........Fortunately, he'd found his old
pair of glasses... or else he'd have had to find a seeing eye dog. He fiddled
with them a little as he stepped out of the viewing room and into the reception
hallway. His old glasses reassured him... he didn't know why. And, though
he was still feeling terrible and guilty, his more rational side was starting
to reassess things. Maybe, he thought to himself as he cleaned the lens,
maybe it was just a bad thing to happen. Maybe it wasn't my fault. Or,
at least, not entirely my fault. He shook that thought away... thought
a small part of him took solace from the idea.
.........."Hey!" He jumped and spun
around. It was Jason, Tommy and Kimberly. Off at the end of the hallway
were the rest of his friends. He was overwhelmed.
.........."Didn't mean to scare you."
said Jason. He caught the obvious change from earlier in the day. That
morning, they would've had to peel Billy off the ceiling. He saw the slightly
glazed look in his friend's eye. Either Billy had simply run out of steam
(a possibility) or else he'd had some chemical assistance. Jason considered
the situation and inwardly approved. Billy had been way too hyper... he'd
needed some help to get control again.
.........."It's all right." Billy
said shakily. Even with the Valium, it took a bit to calm his nerves. "Um...
thanks for coming." That was his standard comment to all the visitors;
he didn't know what else to say.
.........."Well..." said Tommy.
He looked down at his feet. It was awkward.
..........The others stepped over... also
at a loss for words. Trini and Adam had already done the "I'm so sorry"
bit earlier in the day. Rocky and Zack wanted to say... something.
.........."Um..."Rocky began. "I,
uh, didn't really know your mom... but it sucks that she got blown away."
.........."Yeah," added Zack. "Sorry
she got wasted."
..........Billy let their words roll around
in his head for a minute. As he considered them, the others gasped in shock.
Rocky and Zack wondered what the problem was. After all, they were just
trying to express their sympathy... didn't Aisha say that it didn't really
matter what they said?
.........."Yes... it does suck."
Billy couldn't help it, he chuckled. "You know, that's probably the
most honest thing anyone has said to me today." He chuckled more.
"I'm sorry... I need some air." He wandered out the door, laughing
.........."Nice going." Adam hissed
to Rocky and Zack. They looked at each other, wondering what they had done
.........."I thought we cheered him up."
Rocky said slowly.
.........."I don't think he should be
outside alone." Jason said softly. He started to head toward the door
but Kimberly pulled him back.
.......... "I'll go." she said.
Jason, she knew, was a really nice guy and sure to be sympathetic, but
somehow, she felt it was more of woman's job to be a shoulder to cry on.
And, she thought, it gets me away from the viewing room. Kim's aversion
to dead bodies was strong. Even Trini didn't argue... though she wanted
to go with Kimberly.
..........It didn't take long to catch up
to Billy. He was walking through the park slowly, still chuckling a little.
Kimberly had an idea of what was really going on. Sometimes, when under
stress, people had trouble expressing themselves appropriately. The last
two days definitely qualified as stressful. She was more surprised that
Billy was holding up as well as he was. She felt like a wreck.
.........."Billy?" she said hesitantly
as she touched his shoulder. "Are you ok?"
..........He jumped a little. "Kimberly...
I am so far from ok...." He felt the same rage that had risen at Jason
a day earlier but a look at Kimberly's concerned face dissolved his anger,
leaving behind the same empty feeling from before. "You don't understand."
.........."No." she agreed. "I
don't understand... but I'm worried about you. You're probably my oldest
friend, Billy. Maybe I can't understand what you're going through but believe
me, I care. We all do... I know Rocky and Zack meant well." As Billy
blushed and looked down at his feet, Kimberly was struck by dejaÐvu.
It was the old glasses, and old familiar mannerisms of their youth. She
suddenly recalled old times, at school, in the park, and for the briefest
of instants was overwhelmed with grief. Not for Mrs. Cranston, but for
all of them. They were growing up. Soon enough, childhood would officially
be over... and she realized that maybe, she did understand some of Billy's
.........."I'm not mad at Rocky and Zack."
he said softly. "It's just... so many people that I know never really
knew my mom have saying 'I'm sorry'.... It seemed so superficial. At least
Rocky and Zack were honest... and admit it, it was funny." He smiled
briefly, a genuine smile and Kimberly couldn't help it, she smiled back
.........."Ok, ok... I admit, that was
a pretty classic Rocky and Zack moment." she agreed. She was beginning
to think that Billy, while not all right, was at least coping to the best
of his ability. A little gentle support from friends and family, and some
time and he'd be ok. "Maybe we should head back."
..........He nodded, thought he was really
in no rush. After spending all day sitting in the funeral home, it was
safe to say that he had his fill of death. They walked back slowly, enjoying
the night and each others company.
..........It was at that moment that Lord
Zedd began his campaign to destroy the Blue Ranger. Zedd had realized that
while sending down putties would be amusing, it would not cause the serious
damage he really wanted. For once, he carefully studied the entire situation.
After that, he hatched his plan and disguised a putty as a common, somewhat
poor looking human and then gave it some direct instructions.
..........Neither Billy or Kimberly were paying
much attention. The park was pretty empty, and it was getting late. They
didn't hear the grungy looking guy sneak up on them until it was too late.
The guy slammed them both to the pavement, kicked them both, stomped on
Billy's glasses, grabbed Kimberly's purse, and ran away. For once, unfortunately,
a putty had done exactly as told.
..........Billy groaned and slowly sat up,
holding a hand to his aching ribs. "Kimberly, are you ok?" In
the dark, without his glasses, Kimberly was a somewhat fuzzy pink blob.
.........."Oh... I think so." She
sat up. " At least I didn't have my credit cards in there."
..........Billy felt around for his glasses.
He picked them up, and saw Kim's face through the broken glass. As he cradled
the glasses in his palm, an overwhelming wave of despair crashed through
him. His fist clenched the broken glass but he didn't feel it. He watched
in cold fascination as his blood dripped onto the pavement. In the moonlight,
the blood didn't look red. It was black.
.........."Billy!" Kimberly grabbed
his wrist and forced his fingers open. The bloody glass tinkled gaily as
it hit the pavement. Billy continued staring at the blood. Kimberly shook
him. "Billy, you're scaring me! Stop it!"
..........He looked up at her. "It doesn't
hurt." he said simply. He looked at the broken glass and blood and
sighed. "It was my fault... I was trying to deny it, but I can't."
He clenched his fist again. "Why doesn't it hurt me?" He opened
his fist and examined the bleeding cuts. Kimberly held her breath in fear.
He grinned coldly. "I'm hurting you more than me, aren't I? Why do
I always hurt the people I care about? Do you know why Kimberly?"
.........."Billy... you need stitches."
She gently pulled him to his feet.
.........."I know why." he said.
Kimberly was afraid to hear his answer. But, as they walked back to the
funeral home, he was silent.
..........In a way, that only made her more
* * *..........It was raining when Trini woke
up. Rain at a funeral, she mused. How cliche. At least, she thought, it
goes with the general mood around here. Somehow, sunshine just would have
made things worse.
..........She got up out of bed and debated
whether or not to wake up Kimberly. Kimberly was wrecked emotionally from
the night before. Getting robbed.... Billy acting so strange... she decided
to let Kim sleep a little longer. The day was going to be long enough.
..........She quietly stepped around Kimberly
and Aisha's sleeping forms on the floor and got dressed. Kimberly and Aisha
had stayed overnight... by the time Kim had finished giving a statement
to the police, it was so late that inviting them over seemed like the best
thing to do.
..........At least Billy hadn't had to talk
to the police. She figured it would've been a lost cause anyway... Lately,
at his best, Billy was barely coherent, and last night was just not a good
night. He'd been too... out of it by the time the police arrived. And,
of course, he'd been bleeding.
..........Trini was honestly at a loss. She
believed Kimberly, and what Kimberly had said happened. She knew, having
heard from both Tommy and Kimberly... and really, from just knowing Billy,
that Billy was having more than just a tough time. She didn't expect him
to just bounce back... that was unreasonable, but until last night, she
hadn't been... well, afraid to leave him alone. Tommy, sensing her fear,
had gone along with Billy and his dad to the hospital, and insisted he
keep Billy company that night. Billy hadn't really protested.... Trini
had a feeling he simply didn't care.
..........The incident in the park disturbed
her. It seemed... too convenient. It was true that the park wasn't really
busy at night but there had to have been better opportunities than Kim's
purse. And why did the mugger break Billy's glasses? It was an unnecessary
action. An action that accomplished nothing to the thief... unless it hadn't
really been a thief.
..........She wondered. It could have been
one of Lord Zedd's minions but... it was a pretty subtle attack. Still,
if it was Lord Zedd, he'd done his job almost too well. Billy had been
driven close to the edge by the death of his mom. Getting attacked in the
park, whether by Lord Zedd or just some hoodlum, had hurt Billy in some
awful way that none of them could really understand.
..........She walked the stairs. Her mom had
left already, probably to help set up the flowers, but on the counter were
fresh muffins. She smiled weakly. It was so like her mom to try to cheer
people up with baking. She wondered what Billy and Tommy were having for
* * *..........Tommy was awed by the contents
of the Cranston's refrigerator. It was crammed with casseroles, covered
plates of sandwiches... fresh fruit. He could sort of remember when his
parents died that the same thing happened, thought he mostly recalled being
able to find cookies whenever he wanted.
..........Sadly, as he pawed through the food,
he realized that there was no breakfast stuff, or cookies for that matter.
He made a mental note to tell his aunt to bring something other than dinner
food, and grabbed a roast beef sandwich.
..........He heard the TV click on in the
living room. He looked in, and found Billy curled up on the sofa, channel
surfing. An odd thing... Billy wasn't much of a TV watcher. Billy didn't
acknowledge him, he kept flipping through the channels until he found what
he was looking for. CNN. They both watched for several minutes as the newscaster
doled out the daily footage of death and destruction. Billy finally noticed
Tommy standing in the doorway. "Hey."
.........."You're up early." Tommy
was surprised. They'd gotten in pretty late the night before. They'd both
dropped right off, but Billy looked pretty tired still. It was only seven
in the morning.
.........."It's a big day." Billy
said, returning his eyes to the news broadcast.
..........Tommy sat down on the floor, and
munched his sandwich nervously. Billy had that far away look. Tommy had
a feeling that Billy's mind was working on overdrive on ways to keep kicking
himself for what happened. Unlike Trini, and the rest of the Rangers, Tommy
had already decided not to interfere.... Billy, he knew from his own experience,
wasn't going to magically feel better if everyone told him it wasn't his
fault. If pressed, Tommy planned to ask the obvious, which was what could
Billy have done differently? There wasn't much, as he saw it.
..........On the other hand, Tommy knew that
the situation was a lot different than when his own parents were killed.
He didn't see it happen, for one thing. Many caring, concerned relatives
had converged on him to give him support, for another. Tommy knew that
Billy's dad was trying... but he was hurting too, and hadn't really picked
up on his son's problems. There weren't any close relatives... a few cousins
that didn't visit much. No grandparents, a couple aunts and uncles that
lived too far away to come to the funeral... Billy was pretty much on his
own, except for his friends, and deep down, Tommy knew that the only person
who could help Billy was Billy himself. All he could do was be a friend...
and maybe prevent Billy from doing something stupid.
..........Billy flipped the channel to another
news program. "Have you ever noticed that the news is always the same?
Even... even after we fight a monster, and defeat Lord Zedd's evil... no
one seems to care. People just keep doing the same thing... committing
crimes... hurting other people. It never stops. No one cares." He
paused, his eyes still on the screen. "Nothing we do matters."
.........."Billy... of course it matters."
Tommy could see where that was heading. He began to wonder how much of
what happened was random bad luck and how much of it was Lord Zedd's doing.
A demoralized Ranger... a Ranger without hope, was as potentially dangerous
as one of Zedd's monsters. "Think of what Angel Grove would be like
.........."What's it like with us?"
Billy finally looked at him, his eyes hard. "We don't help people...
not really. Criminals are free to do whatever they please. What good is
being a Power Ranger if we can't even protect the people we care about?"
.........."That's not really our job...."
.........."Maybe it should be. "
Billy pulled out his morpher awkwardly with his bandaged hand, and looked
at it. "We're hypocrites, Tommy. We say we want to stop all the violence
but we don't... we don't do any good at all." He threw the morpher
at Tommy. "I quit. "
..........Tommy picked up the coin and holder,
not really sure of what to say. "I'll take this..." he said finally,
"but I don't accept your resignation. You... you need to take some
time to think about this... If you really want to quit, I can't stop you...."
.......... You're right, you can't."
.........."Billy...." Tommy hated
what he was about to say, but it was the only thing he thought would work.
"You have to understand... even if you'd broken every single Power
ranger rule... you still couldn't have saved your mom. Even morphed...
none of us are that quick... she'd still be dead. Even a Power Ranger couldn't
have saved her."
.........."Shut up! " Billy got
up and stalked across the room. "I could've saved her! I just... didn't
think, and now she's dead and its my fault! I could've... morphed or...."
His voice trailed off. "It should've been me...."
.........."But it wasn't. " Tommy
shook Billy, his anger and fear getting the best of him. "And there's
nothing you can do to change that. There never really was. The second your
mom walked through that door... she never had a chance and there's nothing
you could've done. That doesn't make it your fault. You weren't robbing
that store and you didn't pull the trigger."
.........."No, I didn't do anything."
Billy pushed him off. "I had time to morph but I didn't. I didn't
think, and now she's dead." He stomped out of the room, leaving behind
the power coin. Tommy picked it up again. If Billy had broken the rules...
he was right. Maybe there was an outside chance that Mrs. Cranston would
still be alive.
..........He wondered if he could get Alpha
to run the odds through the computer. He had to do something.
..........Jason tugged his tie and sighed.
He could never tie a tie correctly. "Kimberly?" he asked.
.........."Gimme a sec." She held
up her hands, causing Rocky to rise on his tiptoes as she clenched his
collar. "I'm working on Rocky's tie." Rocky gasped for air and
tugged at her hands. "Oh... sorry." She let go and he inhaled
.........."Jeez, Kim, I'll do it myself...
it's safer." He grinned to let her know he was kidding.
.........."I'm sorry... I can't do anything
right." She burst into tears. "I feel so awful...." She
sat down on the Kwan's living room sofa and sobbed. "First Mrs. Cranston
getting killed... and last night...."
.........."I think we all feel bad, Kimberly."
Aisha said gently.She took a seat beside Kim, while the four guys gathered
round in a clump. "Right guys?"
..........They nodded, obviously uncomfortable.
Aisha sighed. Guys could be such... guys sometimes. In her opinion, it
was really no wonder Billy was expressing himself in such repressed ways...
he was infected with the same "guy" illness that they all had.
She gave Kimberly a hug, and glared at the menfolk.
.........."I just...." Kim dabbed
her eyes. "I never thought Angel Grove was... bad, like this...."
.........."It's not." They all turned
and looked at the new voice. Trini stood in the doorway, her whole countenance
wild with anger. She was almost glowing, her intensity crackled around
her like electricity. She strode into the room, leaving behind waves of
.........."I went to the park."
Her voice was ice cold. "I thought it was odd that the thief intentionally
broke Billy's glasses. I looked at the pavement, for clues." She paused
dramatically. "There was clay all over. It was a putty that robbed
you last night, Kim. It was a trick... a rotten, rotten trick!" She
whacked a lamp off one of the end tables. "I feel like ripping off
Lord Zedd's head with my bare hands!"
.........."We should go tell Billy this."
Zack said quickly. "I bet it would make him feel better... a little
..........Ties were quickly, and inexpertly
tied, and the group departed, feeling happy that they could give some good
news to their friend.
.........."Zeddie... that Trini has figured out your plan!"
Rita waved her wand. "Let me send down some putties so those doÐgooders
don't let Billy in on our plan!"
.........."Never fear, my pet."
crooned Zedd. "I have already planned for just such an outcome. I
will send down Grim Reaper to capture the Rangers. With just the White
Ranger left to help, the Blue Ranger will be crushed like an ant! Ha Ha
* * *..........Grim Reaper, a diabolical and
familiar looking visage of evil, dropped down into Angel Grove Park just
as the group of concerned friends were crossing through.
.........."Foolish Rangers!" it
shouted. "Did you really think that Lord Zedd would let you foil his
.........."Well," Rocky said, thinking
about it, "That is pretty much the way things happen." His remark
incensed Grim Reaper, who waved his magic scythe and slammed Rocky into
a tree. Rocky fell to the ground in a limp pile, struck unconscious by
the force of the blow.
..........Adam and Aisha ran to his fallen
form, knowing that it was not a wise idea to get in the middle of a battle
between good and evil. Rocky had just given them a reminder of that important
.........."It's Morphin' Time!"
shouted Jason. In seconds the four Power Rangers stood, ready for battle.
.........."We've had it with your tricks!"
.........."Yeah! We're not gonna let
you get away with it!" Trini added.
.........."Oh please..." Grim Reaper
was, oddly enough, not particularly patient. "You'll do nothing! With
a wave of my scythe, I'll send you to the center of the Evil Sapphire Labyrinth...
You can not escape! And when your fellow rangers try to rescue you... they'll
be trapped by its spell of deception." Before the Rangers could react,
he did just what he said. Adam, Aisha and Rocky watched in horror as their
friends disappeared. Then, they felt a sensation that was starting to get
all too familiar... the sensation of teletransport.
* * *..........They found themselves in the
command center. Adam stood, and looked up at Zordon. "You know...
you could warn us when you do that!" Adam was too shaken to really
know what he was saying. He turned around and saw Tommy and Alpha grimly
looking through a sheaf of printouts. "Tommy...?"
..........Rocky moaned and sat up, Aisha giving
him support with her hands. "Oh...man, remind me not to be so stupid...."
..........Zordon frowned at them. "Rocky,
Adam, Aisha... I had Alpha teleport you here for your safety. Had the Grim
Reaper transported you to the Evil Sapphire Labyrinth... not being Power
Rangers...." The nonÐrangers got the point.
.........."As it is," Tommy said,
pointing to the papers, "The others were demorphed when they entered
the labyrinth. Zordon, we have to get them out ."
.........."Yes Tommy." said Zordon.
"We will have to call Billy."
.........."Ummm..." Aisha looked
around, "Why isn't Billy here?"
.........."He's been upset...."
Tommy said hesitantly.
.........."It has become clear,"
Zordon intoned, "that Lord Zedd has taken advantage of these unfortunate
circumstances. While he was not responsible for the death of Billy's mother,
he has manipulated the situation to heighten Billy's sense of despair."
Zordon frowned even more. "I believe Lord Zedd's plan is to use the
labyrinth to trap Billy and destroy him."
.........."I'll keep an eye on him."
said Tommy, "But, I gotta call him... I can't do this without him."
* * *..........Billy tugged at his dark blue
tie. It looked awful. It didn't match his black suit, and the knot was
horrible. Here it was, his mother's funeral, and he looked like a mess.
He really looked at himself in the mirror and sighed. He felt so dragged
out that nothing could get a rise out of him today.
..........Or maybe there was. His communicator
chimed. He ignored it at first hoping that either it was just his imagination
or that Tommy would take the hint and leave him alone. It chimed again.
.........."What?" he growled.
.........."Billy," Tommy's voice
crackled over the line, "We really need your help."
..........He wanted to cry. Not from grief,
but from frustration. "Tommy... can't you leave me alone? My mom's
funeral is in two hours... can we play the makeÐBillyÐfeelÐbetter
game after that? I'm really not in the mood right now!"
..........The communicator was silent. Finally,
he thought, I got through to him. Then, in a flash of blue, he was transported.
* * *..........Billy blinked in confusion.
It had been a long time since he'd been teleported by surprise. He never
.........."Hey? You ok?" Tommy asked.
"We had to get you here."
..........Without warning, Billy swung his
fist, and hit Tommy in the stomach. "I told you to leave me alone!"
he said, his voice shaky with anger. He watched without sympathy as Tommy
slowly uncurled from the blow. Adam, Aisha, and Rocky watched on in shock.
.........."Oh man..." Tommy muttered.
He straightened up, and took a step towards Billy. "Billy... believe
me... the last thing I would ever do is try to mess up your mom's funeral.
I know you feel rotten but," and he held up a hand to stop Billy from
protesting, "You don't know what's been going on. Lord Zedd has manipulated
you into feeling even worse. He used your mom's death against you...."
.........."Yeah," said Adam, "Last
night in the park... it was a putty that attacked you, not some criminal."
.........."Kimberly thought you were
doing okay," Aisha added, "I mean, she said you were down and
all, but, you know, dealing with stuff. And then Zedd tricked you into
thinking that everything you do as a power ranger is pointless... but it
was just a trick. Don't you see?"
..........They had gotten to him, Tommy could
tell. Billy leaned up against the computer console and sighed heavily.
"All right... I'll help... but this doesn't change the basic facts,
Tommy. It was my fault." He took the sheaf of paper and scanned through
them. He frowned.
.........."What?" Tommy asked hesitantly.
..........Awareness slowly shook Billy's despondence
away, and it was replaced with an icy bolt of fear. "Tommy... this
whole thing is a trap. The Sapphire Labyrinth is designed to capture anyone
who's power source isn't focused on the color blue. If you go in... you'll
be captured and sent to the center with the others...."
.........."Indeed," said Zordon,
"The only person who can safely traverse the maze and free the others
is you, Billy." Zordon sighed. "Zedd has planned this carefully....
Billy, it is most certainly a trap designed to destroy you. If you fail
to reach the center, the others will be lost in the dimension of despair."
.........."But if I don't go... they'll
be lost anyway. Right?" Billy frowned again as Zordon nodded. "I
have to try... I can't let that happen...." He reached behind his
back for his morpher, and blushed when he remembered what he'd done with
..........Tommy handed it to him. "We'll
monitor you from here. Be careful."
.........."I will." Tommy didn't
like the way he said that. Billy had, as of late, been awfully self destructive
and guilt was playing way too big a part of the whole scenario.
..........He pulled Billy a little closer.
"I mean it," he said. "Don't get stupid in there. That's
exactly what Zedd wants. Getting yourself drained of power or worse isn't
going to help anyone."
..........But Tommy wondered, and as his friend
morphed away, he felt a cold chill.
* * *..........The Sapphire Labyrinth was creepy.
The walls of the maze were just high enough that, even after jumping, Billy
couldn't see over the top. The light in the maze was blue tinted and eerie.
It was confusing... there were dead ends, and he found himself backtracking
more than once. He knew he was getting closer, Zordon had said that the
color would increase in intensity the closer he got to the center, but
there was still no sign of anyone. Nothing. Just the glowing walls.
.........."Billy?" He spun around.
It was Kimberly. She shouldn't be here, he thought, she should be with
the others. But there she was, looking a little upset and angry.
.........."Kimberly, are you ok?"
He was worried. She was a friend, after all, and she did seem irritated.
.........."Okay? Of course I'm not ok,
you stupid dullard!" She grabbed ahold of his power suit and smacked
him into the wall. "Last night, I was just trying to make you feel
better and I got attacked! Then, your little freakout session had me so
worried, I went through the park and got captured! This is all your fault!
..........He pushed her away. Something was
wrong, he knew that. "You're not Kimberly." he said as he eyed
the impostor warily.
.........."What? What do you mean?"
said the Kimberly clone as it straightened its pink skirt. "How can
.........."Well, for starters, Kimberly
doesn't even know what the word dullard means, let alone how to use it
correctly." The clone glared, obviously found out, and turned into
a giant tentacled monster. It jumped at him, but after a moments struggle,
Billy whomped it on a giant z, and like a putty, it shattered. He shrugged,
and moved on.
..........He knew he was getting close. The
walls were glowing brightly, and faintly, he could hear his friends calling
for help. He turned a corner, sure that he would find his friends.
..........And ran into his mom. "Mom?"
.........."Billy." Her voice was
cold. He stepped closer but she backed away, and frowned.
.........."Mom, what's wrong?" His
mind was reeling. He knew that there was no way she could be there but....
.........."What's wrong?" She glared
at him. "I'm dead... does that jog your memory? Don't you remember?"
She snapped her fingers.
..........Suddenly, Billy found himself in
the mini mart again. Only, it was an eerily lit mini mart... and he could
see himself, in his soccer uniform. Buying band aids. He didn't want to
watch but he couldn't turn away as the scene played itself out.
.........."You could have saved me."
June intoned darkly.
.........."No... it happened too fast.
You don't know what you're saying." he said weakly. She snapped her
fingers and the scene played again. And again.
.........."You were too slow." She
made the scene go in slow motion. "You didn't think... and now I'm
dead. Some Power Ranger you are. It should've been you. It was all your
fault." Tears came to his eyes and he nodded in agreement. Seeing
her victory, she played the scene in slow motion again. He watched numbly
as the thief grabbed his other self. His mother opened the door. The otherÐBilly
shouted a warning, tried to do something but the thief slammed the otherÐBilly
into the counter, and fired his weapon. Even in slow motion, it happened
..........Slowly, realization dawned on him.
He spun away from the clone. "It wasn't my fault! There was no way
anyone could have saved you! No one is that fast... not even a Power Ranger."
He looked down at his gloved hands. "I couldn't save you."
.........."You killed me." she said
icily. "You didn't save me... that makes you guilty."
.........."No it does not! I didn't kill
you. That thief did... and there wasn't anything I could do...." He
looked at the image of his mother. "You're not real! You're just some
illusion of Lord Zedd... trying to trick me!"
..........She nodded and turned into another
one of the tentacled beast things that seemed to live in the labyrinth.
"Foolish Ranger!" it snarled. "I might've let you live..
.after draining your powers!" It made a grab for him, but, fueled
by the rage of having been horrifically manipulated, he kicked it squarely
in the z. It shattered. The mini mart disappeared, leaving behind the labyrinth
walls. He hesitated just for a second, a little shaken up by the events
and then ran towards the sound of the other rangers voices.
* * *.........."Curse that Blue Ranger!"
Lord Zedd shook his staff, and glowed a brilliant red.
.........."If you'd listened to me and
sent down putties when I told you to... instead of this silly Sapphire
Labyrinth routine." Rita threw up her hands. "I've got a headache!"
..........Zedd glared at the earth. "Mark
my words, Power Rangers....I will prevail!"
* * *..........Jason knocked hesitantly on
Billy's bedroom door. The funeral had been... nice, in a way... The weather
had cleared up, and, after the days events, Jason had felt a certain sense
of relief that the ceremony had gone well. Billy seemed a lot more normal.
Not good, but not as upset. He had sequestered himself in his room for
most of the "after funeral" party, and his friends had respected
his wish to be alone. But, Jason, Trini and Tommy, knowing that their parents
were leaving soon, wanted to say good night to their friend... and give
him a hand.
.........."Come in." They stepped
into Billy's room and looked. He was sitting on the bed, his tie hanging
crookedly. He'd obviously been crying... crying hard from the look of things.
That, they took as a good sign. He made an effort to get straightened up.
.........."Hey, how you doing?"
.........."I think I'll be all right."
Billy said quietly. "Guys, I want you to know... I'm real sorry about
how awful I've been lately."
..........Trini sat down beside him. "Billy,
you don't have to apologize. We understand."
.........."You'd do the same for us."
Jason added gently.
.......... Affirmative, but... I really hope
I don't ever have to." Billy said slowly. They all nodded.
.........."Um..." Jason pulled out
a small, gaily wrapped box. "We got you a present... it's from all
of us... but everyone else had to go home... you know."
.........."You shouldn't have...."
Billy opened the box. Inside was a pair of glasses. His jaw dropped in
.........."Your dad told us your prescription."
.........."We knew you were upset about
losing your old pairs." Trini added helpfully.
.......... And even thought your dad said
you were gonna get contacts... we thought you might want a spare pair."
Jason concluded. "You know... for old times sake."
.........."Guys... I don't know what
to say." Billy felt like crying again. "I'll keep these in a
safe place... just in case."
..........Sensing that Billy was about to
burst into tears, Trini stood. "Well... we gotta go."
.........."Yeah."said Jason, "
But listen, if you need anything... just call."
.........."We're here for you, buddy."
..........Billy looked down at the new pair
of glasses and realized that, while the next few weeks would be rough,
Tommy was right. He wasn't alone.