Kimberly Hart was felling low. She couldn’t even remember feeling this miserable before. This wasn’t just any cold but a full-blown flu. Coughing a few times, she opened her locker and pulled out books for her next class.
“Damn, girl, you don’t look so good,” Aisha observed as she walked up next to Kim with a concerned expression on her face. “I’m guessing that cold you were talking about on Friday got worse, huh?”
“Definitely, Aisha,” Kim said. “I feel awful, and Tommy asked me last week to go out with him tonight. He can’t see me like this!” Turning from Aisha, she coughed a few more times before sighing. “What should I do?”
Aisha frowned. “Kim, you go out with Tommy at least once a week. Tell him you aren’t feeling so hot. I’m sure he’ll understand.”
Kim shook her head and sniffled. “He sounded really excited when he asked me, and he hasn’t told me what it is exactly we’re doing. I’m afraid that Tommy’s planning something really special and that I’ll crush him if I don’t.”
“Look, you need to take care of your health first, Kim,” Aisha told her seriously. “Whatever Tommy was planning, I’m sure it can be rescheduled.” Reaching her class, she waved goodbye to her best friend before leaving Kim to think about what she was going to do.
Meanwhile, from the moon, Rita Repulsa was lying on her bed feeling horrible. Lord Zedd, her husband, was watching her and slowly said, “Rest, Dear. It’s just an Earth virus.”
“How did an Earth virus get to me!?” Rita whined pathetically as she coughed a few times. “We’re on the moon, damn it!”
“You have been around those rangers and other humans many times before,” Zedd told her. “A virus could have very well have passed on to you.”
Rita pouted. “I hate this, Zedd. This is the worst headache I’ve ever had.”
(That idea in itself is terrifying) Zedd thought to himself before saying, “Try to get some sleep while I think of something to do to those rangers.” Rita nodded slowly before drifting off.
Walking back into the throne room, Zedd sighed as Goldar came up to him. “Master, there is word from Earth that the Pink Ranger is ill.”
Not having expected this interesting information, Zedd pondered this for a moment before ordering, “Call Finster in here, Goldar. I wish to speak to him.”
“Right away, Master,” Goldar said before running out of the room in search of Finster.
Sitting down on his throne, Zedd used his powers to look at what was happening on Earth. He quickly found that Goldar had been correct, and his mind went to work concocting a scheme that would eliminate the rangers.
Kim couldn’t believe how unfocused she had been during Mrs. Applebee’s history class. Her head had been throbbing, and he had barely been able to make out Mrs. Applebee’s instructions as she told them what the homework was. Putting her books away, she cringed as she heard an all too familiar voice call out to her. “Hey, Beautiful.”
It wasn’t that she didn’t want to see Tommy. Actually, what was going on was exactly the opposite. She wanted to be with him, but she didn’t want him to see her like this. Whatever it was that he had been planning...she wanted to go with him even if she wasn’t feeling very good. Hiding her face from his, she did her best to calm herself before muttering, “Tommy, um, hi.” (Great, Kim. That was nasal!)
“I just got out of Science. Shit, you would not believe how big of a lecture Mr. Bickford gave us today all because Jeff didn’t turn in an assignment. At first I was going strong this year, but he is just screwing that all up. If I get less than a C my dad will kick my ass into next year!” As she felt his hand touch her shoulder, she jerked away and began walking down the hallway, not wanting to give him any opportunity to see her this sick. As it was, her head was beginning to spin again.
Tommy frowned at her odd behavior before closing her locker and following behind as she walked ahead of him. “So, how was Applebee’s? Did she give you guys any information about midterms? I’m already going to be cramming so hard for math and science that I won’t be able to sleep at night. What about you?”
“Um, I wasn’t really paying attention,” Kim told him distantly. Well, it was partially honest, right? She had been too sick to pay attention.
Licking his lips, Tommy tried to mentally recall having done anything to get her upset with him before cautiously inquiring, “A-are we still on for today?”
Kim nodded slowly. “I guess so.”
(She’s trying to walk away from me, talking quietly and distantly, and not looking at me. What did I do?) “Kim, I’m not exactly sure what I did to get you mad at me,” Tommy admitted, “but whatever it is...I swear that this afternoon will make up for it.” As he tried to touch her shoulder again, he watched as she glanced at him before accepting the gesture.
(No, damn it! I’m not mad at him!) Kim frowned. “I’m not mad at you, Tommy. It’s just that...about today...”
Tommy shrugged. “What is it? Do you want to take a rain check?” (Well, I guess I could...maybe...)
“You won’t mind!?” Kim exclaimed. As he squeezed her shoulder, she turned to him with her eyes still on the floor. “It isn’t that I don’t want to go with you, but do you know how I told you on Friday that I wasn’t feeling well?”
He nodded. “Yeah. I assumed you had allergies or something like that.”
Looking him straight in the eye, Kim sighed. “It’s the flu. My mom says that it has been going around. I just didn’t want to break the date with you.” Turning away from him again, she sneezed before shaking her head. “I hope you aren’t that disappointed.”
“If you aren’t feeling well then you aren’t feeling well,” Tommy told her with a smile. “You should have just told me, Kim. I understand completely. Hey, a little while ago I couldn’t see you at all because I was sick, remember? It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with you.” Kissing her forehead, he frowned as he felt how warm she was. “You should go to the nurse. I think you’re running a fever. Do you want me to take you?”
“You shouldn’t be around me. I don’t want to get you sick,” Kim said.
He shrugged. “Yeah, well, I love you in sickness and in health. If I could take your illness for you I would.” As she smiled, he touched her cheek before putting his arm over her shoulders and pulling her close. “Let’s go.”
Zedd watched them walk together on the moon before scoffing and turning to Finster who had just entered the room. “I wanted to talk to you, Finster.”
“Yes, my Lord,” Finster told him with a bow. “I am at your service.”
“I want to send a monster down, but this illness of Kimberly’s has gotten me thinking. Could you create a potion to make the rangers all terribly ill?”
Finster nodded. “That is a magnificent plan, Lord Zedd, and I know how to make one that I think is just what you are looking for.” As he ran out of the room, Zedd followed solemnly.
Entering Finster’s laboratory, the two walked over to Finster’s table. Finster pulled out a fat book and opened it before saying, “Here it is. A gas guaranteed to make those who breathe it become weak and ill. Even when they’re morphed, the rangers will still feel awful.”
“Excellent, Finster!” Zedd exclaimed, happier with the old creature than he had ever been before. “Make this gas.”
He remained in the laboratory as Finster went about making this toxic chemical. Finally, the little being was holding a container in his hand with a tube coming out the end. “When you push this red button on the top of this container the gas will come out of the tube. May I warn you, my Lord, that this formula will not take effect until tomorrow.”
Zedd chuckled. “I care not, Finster. Those rangers will feel my wrath!”
That afternoon Rocky, Aisha, Adam, Billy, and Tommy were walking through the park since Kim had gone home sick earlier that day. “Poor Kim,” Rocky said.
Adam nodded. “I know that I hate being sick. Illness makes me feel so, I don’t know...weak.”
“Me too,” Billy acknowledged. Pulling out a small container from his pocket, he opened it and took out two white pills. After putting the bottle away again, he popped the pills in his mouth.
Aisha looked at him with interest. “Hey, what are those, Billy?”
“Those were just some vitamins my physician prescribed,” Billy explained.
“Well, I just hope Kim gets better soon,” Tommy commented. “We were supposed to go out today, and I want to as soon as she gets better.”
“Kim was talking about that,” Aisha informed him. “What kind of a date was this? She said you were really excited about it.”
Suddenly becoming self-conscious, Tommy shrugged. “Well, you know, the usual--”
“We don’t know usual,” Rocky remarked flippantly. “Give us a usual.”
“Well, I’ve been saving up, and so I was going to take her to that Italian restaurant on Cherry Boulevard,” Tommy told them quietly.
As Adam whistled low, Billy shook his head. “Cherry Boulevard? Every dining area on that street is very expensive, Tommy. You must have been conserving money for quite some time.”
Tommy grinned somewhat shyly before hanging his head. “That wasn’t the real reason why I was taking her there. I just wanted it to be special setting.”
“Uh-oh,” Rocky said with a smile. “What else were you going to do for her, Tommy?”
“Since you were going to a place on Cherry, I hope you rented a tux,” Aisha said.
Nodding, Tommy replied, “Sure I did. That isn’t all, though.”
“I’m almost afraid to ask,” Adam told him. “Thinking of what you must have spent is already hurting my pockets.”
“Cheap as you are,” Aisha breathed with a chuckle.
Adam smiled and swatted her arm playfully. “I am not cheap!”
“I, um, I never really made our going steady official, and I have wanted to for a long time, so...” He put his hand into the pocket of his black jeans before pulling out a little burgundy box and holding it out for the others to see. “Tell me if this is too much, you guys, but she’s really special to me and I wanted to offer her the best I could afford.” Opening it, he showed them the ring that he had bought, and they easily noticed the diamond on the silver band shining back at them.
“Good Lord, that looks like an engagement ring, Tommy!” Aisha exclaimed. “How the hell did you get money for that!?”
Rocky just stared at the ring in awe for a moment before shaking his head. “That is some nice ice, Man. Kim is going to go wild when she sees it.”
“How much did that cost you, Tommy?” Adam questioned. “You didn’t have to spend your life savings, did you?”
“I got the money from working at that martial arts camp last summer, from working at that program that helped some younger students learn karate one-on-one before they go into group classes, and I worked for Ernie for about two months,” Tommy explained.
Billy frowned. “In what capacity did you work for Ernie?”
“Unloading supplies from trucks that came by during the week,” Tommy said. “Sometimes he’d be too busy to do it, so I’d get the boxes and unpack them in the back room.”
“I never knew that you did that,” Aisha said. “Well, it was a bit of a splurge, but Kim is going to be one of the happiest girls alive when you give here that.”
Tommy gazed at her hopefully. “Really? You think she’ll like it?”
Rocky laughed. “Hey, Tommy, spend some money like that on me and I’ll be yours for life.”
Hitting his shoulder flippantly, Tommy sighed. “Yeah, I guess it’ll--do you guys smell that?” His nose crinkled in disgust.
Adam nodded and took in a whiff before coughing as the odor invaded him. “It smells like a skunk, only more rotten.”
Plugging her nose, Aisha frowned. “That is just gross. Hey, guys, I’m going to head home because I have a lot of homework tonight so I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Yeah, I have to go, too,” Rocky told them. “Miss Jenkins is loading us with material to cover before the English midterms. She’s young, too. Damn it, you think she’d be easy on us.”
Billy nodded. “Same thing for me, Rocky. I have to get home.”
Looking at his watch, Adam frowned. “Damn it, Tommy, we’re going to be late for our class!”
As they ran off, Tommy sighed. “Hey, it won’t be the first time, right?”
None of the rangers noticed the laughter coming from behind a few bushes as Baboo and Squatt waddled out. “That was too easy!” Baboo exclaimed.
Squatt nodded. “Lord Zedd will be so proud of us for doing something right.” With that, they teleported back to the moon.
Seeing that they had returned, Zedd continued to watch Adam and Tommy run towards the Youth Center before chuckling darkly. “Enjoy your health, rangers. You especially, White Ranger. I’m sure you’ll find that gas...rather strong to your particular system.”
The next morning Mrs. DeSantos watched her son worriedly as he coughed a few times before eating some more of his breakfast. “Rocky, are you feeling all right?”
“Allergies, Mom,” Rocky muttered gloomily with a sniffle. “It must be ragweed or whatever the hell is out there at this time of year.”
Entering the kitchen, Mr. DeSantos regarded his son before saying, “You don’t have allergic reactions to ragweed...and don’t swear in the house.”
Rocky sighed. “Hell isn’t a curse word.”
“Fine, then. It’s a noun, and you’re using it incorrectly,” Mr. DeSantos said with a frown. Sitting down next to Rocky, he felt his son’s forehead before saying, “You’re warm, and I hope you didn’t try sticking a heat pad on your head to get out of school again.”
“I can’t miss school today, Dad. We’re going over material for midterms,” Rocky told him.
Mrs. DeSantos took a sip of her coffee. “I could call the school and tell them that you’re sick,” she suggested. “Yesterday I was talking to Aisha’s mother. She said that there is something going around now. Apparently that Kimberly girl you hang out with came down with it. I just hope she didn’t spread her germs on to you.”
Rocky shook his head. “Block scheduling. Yesterday was a green day and today is a white day. Kim left school before I saw her at lunch.”
“You were with her Friday, though,” Mrs. DeSantos argued. “It was you and all those other kids you hang out with. What about that boy...the long-haired one that’s going out with her? Did you see him, because he may have gotten sick and given it to you.”
“Tommy didn’t seems sick,” Rocky said. His eyes narrowing, he glanced at his mother. “How did you know Tommy and Kim were going out? I don’t tell you things like that.”
Mr. DeSantos laughed with amusement. “She’s a snoop, and that’s why I married her.”
Rocky groaned. “Mom!”
“Our family was born to find out secrets,” Mrs. DeSantos told him. “Besides, parents have their venues for finding information.”
“You asked Aisha’s mom, didn’t you?” Rocky questioned confidently. That was typical. Whenever his mother wanted to sneak into his personal matters she would go to Aisha’s mom? Why? Aisha was the good girl who always told her parents about her life.
Sighing, Mrs. DeSantos nodded. “Well, Aisha at least tells her mother things like this. Why don’t you talk to me anymore, Rocky?”
Coughing a few more times, Rocky closed his eyes. “Mom, my social life is my business. It’s not like Adam tells his parents everything.” Damn that Adam. He never had to get this from his parents.
“That’s because that boy’s father is never home,” Mr. DeSantos said matter-of-factly. “To tell you the truth, that boy would be better off living here or somewhere that he could be appreciated instead of living it that hell hole with his father.”
“Adam is perfectly happy with where he lives, and I thought you said not to use the word ‘hell’.” Rocky smiled sweetly at his father’s ignorance of his words.
Mr. DeSantos shrugged. “I can say ‘hell’ as in ‘hell hole’ because ‘hell’ describes the hole.” As his son snickered, Mr. DeSantos snarled. “Get out of here, Boy, before you miss the bus.”
“Are you sure you feel up to going?” Mrs. DeSantos questioned with concern. “I don’t want you getting worse over there.”
Getting up from his seat, Rocky kissed him mother before nodding. “I’m fine.” Glancing at his father, he smirked. “Later, Dad.”
“We’ll talk about this cursing matter tonight,” Mr. DeSantos said with a growl. “You can’t get out this easily.”
Rocky picked up his backpack before beaming at his dad. “Sure. Bye everyone.” With that, he left the house.
Mr. DeSantos watched him before rubbing the bridge of his nose. Gazing up at his wife who was taking another drink of her coffee, he shrugged. “You agree, right? ‘Hell’ describes the hole.”
“Of course, Dear,” Mrs. DeSantos said with a smile. Seeing the gleam in her eye, he sighed and began eating the eggs from the plate his wife had put in front of him.
Walking over to Aisha’s locker, Billy leaned against it and waited for her to come so that he could tell her what happened first period. Adam had been really sick and, after class, had jogged off saying that his stomach was really upset. Following him, Billy had soon confirmed his suspicions that the upset stomach really meant that he had felt like he was going to throw up.
As he felt Aisha open her locker, Billy’s eyes narrowed as he heard her cough a few times before murmuring, “Billy, I feel horrible. Actually, I think I got what Kimberly has. I mean, I was with her all day on Friday. She could have given me whatever she had.”
(It could be coincidental that both Adam and Aisha are sick) Billy told himself quickly. (Kim’s disease might have been contagious.) “I’m sorry you aren’t feeling satisfactory, Aisha. Adam wasn’t doing well either.”
“It must have been Kim then,” Aisha said. “Not that I blame her or anything. I mean, it wasn’t her fault that she got sick.” Grabbing some books out of her locker, she shut it and the two walked on to their next class.
Trying to shake off the headache that he had, Rocky tried to focus on Adam as he continued talking to him. “I don’t know why I feel this bad, Rocky. Doesn’t it usually take a few days to get like this? If I was exposed to Kim I would have been having some signs of illness yesterday, but I wasn’t. Hell, I wasn’t fatigued at all.”
Rocky sighed. “I can relate. Ever since this morning I’ve been feeling horrible.”
“I can’t remember feeling this low before,” Adam told him before turning away and coughing. “Billy could tell you that I was really sick during first. I was looking at the clock and seeing the seconds tick by in a circle made me really sick, and then I started getting dizzy so the clock seemed to go up and down and back and forth and side to side--”
Groaning, Rocky glanced up at the clock above their heads before clutching his stomach. “Nearest bathroom?”
Doing the same thing, Adam pointed down the hall. “This way.” With that, the two ran off together.
The same day, before third period, Tommy was sticking a few books in his locker and, hearing footsteps behind him, he rubbed his eyes wearily before turning and smiling. “Hey, Jeff.”
Jeff Fowler, one of the most popular guys in school and the guy who had single-handedly stolen most girls’ hearts, grinned at him before saying, “Today we must face the all mighty Bee...don’t you think she should be in a monster movie of some sort?” His hazel eyes gleaming, he watched with curiosity as Tommy turned away from him and sneezed before saying, “I can see you like my new cologne.”
“What the hell is that?” Tommy questioned before coughing a few times.
Shrugging, Jeff sighed and ran a hand through his dirty blond hair. “It was something different to try out, but if it bothers you then...what the hell, I’ll go back to the other one.”
Shutting his locker, Tommy closed his eyes before stepping in line next to Jeff and starting down the hall next to him. “I doubt it’s the cologne. Fragrances don’t bother my nose much. They just give me a headache...” Sneezing again, he rubbed the bridge of his nose before continuing, “and yours has, by the way.”
“Allergies then?” Jeff touched his best friend’s shoulder. “We all get them sometimes. Just pick up some anti-histamine stuff on the way home from school.”
Tommy nodded. “Good idea, because I don’t know where the hell this came from.” Sneezing again, he sighed with annoyance and said, “Damn it, I hope it’s allergies and that I didn’t get what Kim has. You know how much I hate being sick.”
Smiling, Jeff responded, “Sure I do. You called me the last time you had...whatever the hell it was you had. I swear, you were cursing every weakness you felt for about an hour. All I could do was hold the phone and listen to you.” Not caring how weird it would look to the people walking by, he placed a hand on Tommy’s forehead and kept it there for a moment before standing still and shaking his head.
“I’ll tell you what you’ve got, my friend.” At Tommy’s puzzled expression, Jeff beamed at him. “You have yourself a pretty bad case of the flu or something like that because your forehead is pretty warm, and unless you put blush on, your cheeks are kinda flushed, too.”
Tommy moaned and rubbed his temple. “This is shit. I hate being sick. Damn it, I hate being sick more than I hate math!”
Jeff smirked at this. “Let’s not go too far, Man.” Just then, the two heard the bell ring and, groaning, they hurried down the hall to Mrs. Applebee’s room.
Watching them step inside, Billy, who was sitting in the first row, shook his head. Mrs. Applebee glared at them from where she had been standing behind her desk. Glancing up at the clock, she frowned. “The time you are given to get from class to class is so that you will actually get to class on time. You had plenty of time to get here, so what kept you?”
Jeff opened his mouth to speak, but she cut in before he could. “Not you. I wouldn’t trust a thing you say, Mr. Fowler.” Looking at Tommy, she quickly noticed how red he was but, writing it off as excess heat from running to class, she put her hands on her hips. “Mr. Oliver, would you care to enlighten me on why you and Mr. Fowler were late for class?”
Glancing at Jeff for a moment, Tommy shrugged and offered her an apologetic grin which earned a few giggles from some of the girls in the room. “Sorry, Mrs. Applebee, we were, um...” Thinking for a moment, he gazed at her. “Well, we...we--”
Jeff watched him and easily noticed how clouded his eyes were becoming. “Tommy?” (I have a really bad feeling about this.)
Also noticing it, Billy began to stand. “Hey, Tommy, are you all right?”
All of a sudden, Tommy’s eyes became blurry and he began to feel even worse than he had been as the world began to spin. Closing his eyes, he had barely noticed his knees giving way until he heard Jeff call out his name and support him in a kneeling position.
“Oh God,” Mrs. Applebee murmured before rushing over to where Jeff was holding him in place. “Tommy? Are you ok?”
Rushing to his side, Billy began to help support him when he heard Jeff snarl, “I’ve got him, Geek. Step back.”
Tommy opened his eyes halfway before looking from Billy to Jeff. “L-leave him alone, Jeff.” Shivering as a small chill went up his spine, he barely noticed Jeff nod and glance at Billy again before feeling his forehead as he had before.
“Shit, Tommy, you’ve gotten warmer, I think,” Jeff said cautiously. Seeing him shiver again, he looked up at Billy. “Go to the nurse and call Tommy’s parents. He definitely shouldn’t be here.”
As he heard the softness in Jeff’s voice, Billy knew that either Tommy’s words had impacted him or he was just too concerned about him to care. Either way, it was a side of Jeff that Billy had never witnessed before and, seeing Mrs. Applebee nod quickly in approval, he left the room and went towards the nurse’s office.
Tommy sighed and looked into Jeff’s worried hazel eyes before taking in a shaky breath and lowering his head. “This is so embarrassing.”
Chuckling lightly, Jeff shook his head. “No way, Man. This is not your fault, ok? You’re going home, and I think you’re going to be there for awhile.” Seeing if his words had any impact, Jeff was caught off guard as he saw his best friend look up at him with tears in his eyes. Without even thinking, he hastily grabbed Tommy in his embrace and, ignoring the worried and surprised comments of his classmates, began rubbing his back. “Hey, there’s nothing to be ashamed of, all right? You aren’t feeling well. It happens to all of us.”
“Not everyone collapses in front of their classmates,” Tommy muttered, his voice showing how tired and upset he was.
Jeff shrugged. “Yeah, well, at least you haven’t thrown up in front of your classmates yet...and luckily you haven’t thrown up on me.” As he heard Tommy snicker lightly, Jeff smiled. “Look, no one cares that you collapsed, all right? You’re exhausted, feverish, and extremely sick. We’re just all worried about you, ok?” Feeling him nod, Jeff rubbed his back again before looking up as Billy reentered the room. “What did they say?”
“His parents are on their way here,” Billy told him, shocked somewhat as he saw that Jeff was embracing one of his best friends. (I’ve never seen him like this; he’s never been this maternal before. Hey, that’s usually Tommy’s job. Then again, I’ve never really seen Tommy this vulnerable since the incident with his green powers...)
Deciding that she should get control of the situation, Mrs. Applebee sighed. “Jeff and Billy, help Tommy down to the nurse’s office.”
“Can you walk?” Jeff asked cautiously.
Tommy nodded and pulled away from Jeff before rubbing his eyes and trying to clear them. “Yeah, I’ll be fine.” The two stood and Jeff quickly grabbed his arm as he wavered for a moment before walking with him out of the room with Billy following. The rest of the class just watched in amazement.
One of the girls in the back of the room, Cindy Wheeler, gasped in shock. “Have you ever seen anything like that?”
“He wasn’t feeling well, Miss Wheeler,” Mrs. Applebee said with a hint of sharpness in her voice. She didn’t want any of the students to tease Tommy over what had just happened. It wasn’t his fault.
Cindy shook her head. “No, not that, but have you ever seen them bond like that? Damn it, I didn’t know they were that close.”
Another girl, Sandra Mackenzie, nodded in agreement. “I know what you mean, Cindy. Oh, they were so hot. Tommy...shit, I have never wanted to hug him harder in my life. I’ve never seen him cry before. Has anyone?”
Derek Palmer, a boy in the class with dark brown hair, nodded. “He was really depressed a few months ago. I don’t even know what the hell was wrong, but there were rumors that he was suicidal.”
“Why would he be suicidal?” Sandra wondered. “Tommy has everything anyone could want.”
“I didn’t think guys were capable of emotion,” Lauren Parker said before slapping her boyfriend, Danny Solomon’s, back. “I know you aren’t, Danny.”
As the rest of the class giggled, Danny sighed. “The guy was embarrassed. Give him a break.”
Mrs. Applebee sighed. “This topic of discussion should be kept outside of this--”
“I wasn’t teasing him; I was teasing you,” Lauren interrupted with a snort.
Cindy smiled. “Poor Tommy. Do you think he’ll be all right?”
Glancing at her, Sandra smirked. “I’ve got two words for you, Girlfriend: Kimberly Hart.”
“Damn her,” Cindy muttered. “What does he see in that bitch?”
“Who doesn’t see something in Kim?” Mark Redman implored with a sigh.
Danny nodded. “I hear you, Man.” This earned another slap on the back from his girlfriend.
“She is so lucky,” Sandra said. “Don’t you wish you could have a guy like that?”
Cindy nodded. “I always wondered why Jeff hung out with him since Jeff is usually so...unfeeling. Damn it, he must care a lot about Tommy if he would HUG him PUBLICALLY.” As the rest of the class stared at her skeptically, she frowned. “I don’t mean it like that, perverts. What I’m saying is that they must be extremely close friends. Jeff hugs girls...never ever have I seen him hug a guy. Maybe I’m wrong. Has anyone ever seen Jeff Fowler hug a guy?”
“Never,” Sandra voiced, “and she’s right. Maybe Jeff has hugged guys in private, but public...someone said that he thought hugging a guy showed extreme vulnerability.”
“You know what, though? I think Tommy has actually softened Jeff a little bit,” Lauren commented.
Mark nodded. “I’ve been hanging out with Jeff for awhile. Ever since Tommy moved to Angel Grove and they became friends he has really changed. He’s been more talkative, understanding, and emotional, as people have pointed out.”
“Hey, and Jeff’s single,” Lauren said with her eyes on Cindy.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. He wouldn’t say yes to me.”
“Don’t say that until you try,” Sandra said. At that moment, everyone looked up at Mrs. Applebee who was now banging a yardstick on her desk to get their attention.
Smiling, Mrs. Applebee picked up a copy of their textbook. “Page 308, class.” Sighing, the students turned to the page as asked.
With Tommy’s backpack over his shoulder, Billy watched as Jeff continued to help Tommy walk through the hallway. Sighing, Tommy pushed him lightly to the point that Jeff barely felt it. “I can walk, Man,” he mumbled softly before coughing again. “That was just a fluke thing.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t my cologne?” Jeff asked with a smile before slipping from underneath Tommy’s arm and stepping a little ahead of him. “It all seemed to start when you smelled my cologne.”
Tommy shook his head and smirked. “It wasn’t the fucking cologne. I swear that it wasn’t.” Coughing again, he glanced back at Billy and smiled faintly. “Hey, you don’t have to walk back there, Man.”
Nodding slowly, Billy ran a few steps before he was on Tommy’s other side before inquiring, “Are you sure you’re going to be ok, Tommy?”
“I probably just need a lot of Nyquil and some sleep,” Tommy told him tiredly before rubbing his temple. “Damn it, I have the largest headache in the history of mankind.”
Jeff shrugged. “Really? Maybe you could get a world record for that. I can see it now: Teenager with Largest Headache Ever...Thomas Oliver.” As Tommy smacked his arm lightly, Jeff chuckled.
Sneezing just then, Tommy moaned and coughed a few more times. “This is torture. I feel like shit.”
“Just let it out, Man,” Jeff said seriously. “I don’t care if you sneeze a hundred times in a row. If it makes you feel better then I don’t give a damn.”
As if on cue, Tommy sneezed again before sniffling and shaking his head. “I’ve never felt worse in my life. Even when I was sick a few months ago...that was nothing compared to this. Imagine having the worst headache mixed with your throat on fire and a consistent itch in your nose. Plus, I feel so weak. Ever cough...every sneeze...it feels like I’m getting weaker.” Sneezing again, he groaned in disgust at his own body before looking at Jeff who was eyeing him with extreme worry. “What?” Coughing a few more times, he gazed innocently at him. “Did I do something wrong?”
Jeff shook his head before wordlessly putting a hand in his pocket and pulling out a small pack of tissues. At Tommy’s curious expression, he sighed. “I’m a victim to ragweed, but it’s cleared up now. You’re in dire need of them.”
Tommy nodded and put one up to his nose before sneezing a few times in a row. Swaying a little bit, he blew his nose and threw the tissue away in a trash can they passed before using another one to watch the tears that were watering from his eyes. Sneezing a few times again, he shook his head in resignation at the situation. “Have you ever had those moments where you just can’t stop sneezing? It always happens once a day when I’m sick, and now...” Sneezing again, he smiled weakly, “...this proves my point.” At that moment he began to feel dizzy and, closing his eyes, he leaned against a couple of lockers for support.
As the coolness of the metal touched his body, he shuddered before putting his head on it and feeling himself begin to pass out again. Noticing this, Jeff ran to his side and put a hand on his back before feeling Tommy’s forehead again and gasping. “It’s warmer. Damn it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was over 103.” As Tommy’s knees weakened again, he helped him to gently kneel on the ground and watched in concern as his best friend kept his head against the lockers and his eyes closed. “Hey, Tommy?” There was no response. “Tommy, answer me. If you can hear me...I don’t care what you do, just do something.” (Calm down, Jeff. He’s fine...right? He has to be ok. Damn it, he was just talking to you a few seconds ago!)
“I hear you,” Tommy whispered hoarsely in response. “Don’t make me move. It’s cool here. Cool...I’m so hot, Jeff. Damn it, I feel like I’m on fire.”
Shaking his head, he looked up as he heard someone at the far end of the hall gasp. He quickly saw that it was Mr. and Mrs. Oliver and, shaking his head again, he motioned for them not to come any closer. “Call 911.”
Jeff glanced down at Tommy as he shook his head in opposition. “I’m fine, Jeff. Just hot. I’m just hot. I’ll just...go home. Don’t...make me g-go there.” Jeff closed his eyes for a moment before shaking his head. (Sorry, Tommy. You need this.)
While Mr. Oliver ran down the hallway towards the nurse’s office, Mrs. Oliver ran in the other direction towards Tommy and kissed his head tenderly before putting a hand on his burning forehead. “If I hadn’t been so busy this morning...if I would have seen him like this, I never would have made him come today. Never, damn it.” At the swearing, Jeff looked up in shock. He didn’t know Mrs. Oliver very well, but he did know something about her...she didn’t swear unless she was really stressed. (Then again, you’d be stressed too, Jeff, if you were her. Shit, you are stressed anyway. You know this is getting to you...and you don’t even know why.)
Billy, meanwhile, just watched them and tried to sort this out. (First Kim and now Aisha, Adam, and Tommy on the same day? This isn’t right. This really isn’t right. I don’t like this one bit...maybe I’ll go up to Zordon later and talk to him about what’s been going on. That is, if he doesn’t call us up first.)
It seemed like an eternity passed before people in medical uniforms entered the school. One of them, a woman with braided blond hair, walked up to Mrs. Oliver and literally had to pry her off of her son before glancing down at Jeff. “I just need a moment, Sir.” He moved quickly and watched as the woman knelt down near Tommy and put a hand on his forehead. Obviously finding whatever she was looking for, she shook her head before saying, “It’s all right. Just hold on...we’re going to get you out of here.” Looking back down the hallway where the rest of the team was waiting, she called to them. “Stretcher! I’m going to need a stretcher over here!”
Three men and another woman came down the hallway wheeling a stretcher along with them. After that, two of the men and the woman who had first shown up pulled Tommy away from the lockers before forcing him down on the stretcher. By this time, the sirens and activity in the hallway had alerted many classes to what was going on and, looking out of her classroom, Jackie Oliver gasped before leaving the room and running towards her parents. Seeing what was happening to her brother, she shook her head. “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” Mrs. Oliver cried, “because I didn’t talk to him this morning and ask him how he was feeling. Tommy, forgive me please!”
The woman who had first come smiled at Jackie. “Don’t worry, Love. He’s just a little warm, and we want to take him to the hospital to make sure that he will be ok. I’m sure he’ll be fine, though.”
Jeff looked at Billy before whispering, “I want to go with him.”
“That wouldn’t be a good idea, um...”
“Jeff,” he told Mrs. Oliver.
Mr. Oliver shook his head. “You have school, and your parents wouldn’t know where you were.” Looking at Jackie, he motioned for her to get her things which she quickly went to go do.
Taking Tommy’s backpack from Billy, Jeff sighed. “Please? You don’t know how much it means to me that he is well. Tommy...damn it, please?” (Great, now don’t you start crying on me, Fowler. Come on...you’re supposed to be tough, damn it!) As he gazed down at his best friend who was in a complete daze and seemed to be shaking with fright, he couldn’t stop a tear from escaping his eye and rolling down his cheek (Jeff, what has he done to you? Now you’re crying because he’s sick!? That’s pathetic! ...why do I care about him so much? Has he really worn me down this much!?) Wiping the tear away self-consciously, he looked at the Olivers again. “Please let me go with you. I have money to call my mom from the hospital.”
“What about a car?” Mr. Oliver asked.
Jeff shook his head. “Not today. I trade off with friends of mine. Usually I drive once a week.”
Tommy’s parents looked at each other before watching Jeff as he kept his eyes locked on Tommy being wheeled down the hallway and out of the building. Sighing, Mr. Oliver groaned. “Get your stuff, Kid. You can come.” Nodding, Jeff quickly ran back towards Mrs. Applebee’s room with Billy right on his tail.
Reaching the room, Mrs. Applebee merely watched in surprise as Jeff picked up his backpack from where it had been on the floor and began to walk out of the room with it. “Mr. Fowler and Mr. Cranston, what took you so long, and where are you going, Mr. Fowler?”
“Tommy collapsed again in the hallway,” Billy said. “He’s being taken to the hospital. We stayed with him while his parents and the ambulance came.”
Mrs. Applebee shook her head. “That doesn’t answer my second question.”
Sighing, Jeff took a step towards her. “I’m going with the Olivers to the hospital.”
As a few students murmured quietly among themselves, Mrs. Applebee shook her head again. “Why are you going with them, Jeff?”
Jeff rubbed the bridge of his nose before whispering, “I’m going with them because I’m worried about him, and I think I could help him through this.” At Mrs. Applebee’s dubious expression, Jeff gazed innocently at her. “I don’t really know how to explain it, but Tommy needs someone around, and since Kim is at home, I’m the next best thing.”
“He has his family, Jeff,” Mrs. Applebee told him. “They can help him through this.”
“Tommy is my best friend,” Jeff said softly as he lowered his eyes to the ground. “I want to see him get better, and if I can help that process in any way then I will, damn it.” Before Mrs. Applebee could reprimand him on his language, he left the room. Walking down one of the hallways, he leaned against a few locker and rubbed his eyes before continuing towards the area where the Olivers were waiting for him.
Back in the classroom, the students were looking at each other in surprise after Jeff had exited the room. Sandra twisted her hand before mumbling, “All the more power to him.”
“I hope Tommy will be all right,” Cindy commented, “and I hope Jeff will be, too.”
Mark shrugged. “Jeff’s a big boy. He can take care of himself.”
“You know what I think?” Lauren questioned. “Have you guys ever noticed how protective Tommy is of all his friends? You know, he can be downright maternal.”
Derek nodded. “I’m not as close to Tommy as a lot of people are, but that’s true. He can be really caring and protective.” Glancing at Billy, he watched as he lowered his head before adding, “It’s amazing how respected he is for doing that.”
“Can you imagine standing up for everyone you were friends with even if a lot of other people were putting them down?” Danny questioned. “That would be really fucking hard to do, and for Tommy to do that repeatedly...how many rumors have been spread about Jeff that Tommy has shut down anyway?”
Cindy shrugged. “Not many people would dare to spread a rumor about Jeff, but if they do then Tommy’s always the one to make sure it ends as soon as he hears it.”
Another girl in the class, Jennifer Teller, nodded. “Definitely. Do you think Jeff admires Tommy in that way? I know I do.”
“Well, I admire everyone in that little group,” Sandra admitted. “Take Adam Park for example. He’s the sweetest guy you’ll ever know.”
“You only say that because you have a huge crush on him,” Cindy said with a grin. As Sandra flashed her an angered expression, everyone laughed.
“Jeff and Tommy weren’t really friends when Tommy went through that suicidal stage so this is the first time he’s seeing his best friend so weak,” Mark speculated. “Look at how Jeff was acting when he was in here. He was clearly being very protective of Tommy. Maybe...I don’t know...Tommy’s maternal instincts rubbed off on Jeff and since their positions were reversed, Jeff felt the need to care for Tommy as he’s cared for him.”
Cindy nodded. “That sounds reasonable. Either way, Jeff has gone through a major change. A few months ago, when he was going out with Mindy Skylar, he didn’t even care when she went home sick, but now that Tommy’s ill he’s trying to help him at all costs.”
At this, Lauren shrugged. “Then again, how many people would really care what happened to Mindy Skylar anyway? She’s a slut.”
“Amen,” Sandra voiced.
“All hail,” Jennifer said with a smile. “Really, though, you guys think that Jeff is acting maternal towards Tommy because he’s been treated the same way by him?”
Derek shrugged. “That seems plausible enough. What I really want to know, though, is why Jeff felt that he needed to go to the hospital with Tommy.”
“Again, it’s maternal instincts,” Cindy said. “Tommy cares for Jeff, so when the positions are reversed, Jeff takes on a mother-like role. He cares for Tommy and, ultimately, he feels that if he stays around Tommy that he can help to heal him just like a mother feels that if they give their child love they will heal faster. It’s the same thing.”
“Either that or Jeff still doesn’t see how the positions have reversed and, like a child, he’ll follow Tommy wherever by thinking that if he stays with him that everything will be all right,” Danny said.
Deciding to put his two-cents in, Billy sighed. “When we were in the hallway, it was Jeff who gave the order to call 911, not his parents. As it was, Jeff always stayed by Tommy’s side even when Mrs. Oliver was there, and he literally begged them to take him to the hospital. In addition to this...” Not knowing if it was appropriate, he quickly closed his mouth.
Sandra glanced at him. “What? Did something else happen?”
“I don’t know if Jeff would want me saying it,” Billy admitted to them.
Mark shrugged. “We’re all friends of his in here. Believe me, I would never start anything bad about Jeff.”
“Neither would I,” Sandra said. The others nodded in agreement.
“Well,” Billy told them, “I was watching him as he was talking to the Olivers about going with them to the hospital and Jeff actually looked like he was about to cry. As it was, I saw one tear escape his eye.”
The others stayed quiet for a moment. Finally, Lauren cleared her throat. “Jeff cried?”
“He was holding it in, but it sure looked like he was going to,” Billy explained.
“Damn,” Danny breathed. “I never thought it was possible for Jeff to cry.”
“Neither did I,” Jennifer said. “I mean, this is Jeff Fowler we’re talking about. His Freshman year he was the biggest bully to all nerds in the school, and during his sophomore year he only hung out with who he considered to be the ‘cool guys’ and never showed any emotion except for his desire to have lots of sex.”
Cindy shook her head. “Now...he’s crying when his best friend is sick?”
“I’m not going to go against Jeff in any way, but doesn’t that seem a little...I don’t know how to put it,” Sandra tried to find the word she was looking for so that she wouldn’t put Jeff down.
Knowing what she meant, Mark nodded. “Homosexual, and yes it does, although I’m not coming to any big conclusions. Maybe we were right before by saying that it was maternal instincts kicking in. A mother will weep for their child when they’re ill, and a child will weep for their parents when they’re ill. Same thing, right?”
“If that is the case, then there is a whole lot that has changed about Jeff,” Danny acknowledged.
Derek nodded. “The guy has never cried. He dislocated his shoulder in 10th grade and barely even made a fuss about it until it came to popping it back in.”
Cindy held up her hand to silence him. “Please, I’m trying to keep my appetite.”
“Besides, I thought it was normal to sometimes question your sexuality,” Sandra said. “That doesn’t exactly mean that you’re gay. I think you’re right, Mark. This whole thing was just maternal instincts.” As they continued to talk, Mrs. Applebee gave up on the class altogether and sat down at her desk before beginning to grade a few papers to be handed out the next day.
In the Command Center, Alpha was scurrying around as alarms blared through the main room. “Ay yi yi, Zordon, Rita and Zedd are at it again. Goldar, Rito, and Scorpina have been sent down with an army of tengas!”
“CONTACT THE RANGERS AND TELL THEM TO TELEPORT UP HERE IMMEDIATELY.”
“Kimberly contacted me yesterday, Zordon. She’s ill and probably won’t be able to fight,” Alpha informed the wise being in the time warp.
“VERY WELL, ALPHA.”
In the cafeteria, Rocky groaned as his communicator went off. “Damn it. This is not a good time.” Coughing a few times, he got up along with Adam, Billy, and Aisha. The four walked to an empty area just outside of the large room and Rocky looked around a few times before raising the device to his lips. “We read you, Zordon.”
“RANGERS, TELEPORT TO THE COMMAND CENTER IMMEDIATELY. ONE OF RITA AND ZEDD’S MONSTERS HAS APPEARED.”
Adam rubbed the bridge of his nose wearily. “This is awful.”
“I know,” Aisha muttered weakly, “but we have to do it.”
“Let’s go,” Billy said, still worried about the other rangers. Pushing a button on their communicators, the four disappeared in flashes of black, yellow, blue, and red.
Reaching the Command Center, Alpha greeted them. “Rangers, it’s good to see you.”
“YOU DO NOT LOOK VERY GOOD, RANGERS.”
Billy frowned. “Zordon, I have a strong suspicion that their illnesses may have been caused by the forces on the moon. I don’t know why I wasn’t affected by this, but whatever has happened to them has weakened them to the point that they can’t fight.”
“We’ll fight, Zordon,” Rocky muttered as he glared at Billy. “I will, at least. Billy, I can see where you’re going, but you aren’t going to go out there alone.”
“Zordon, at your request I am teleporting Tommy up now. He should be here in a matter of moments,” Alpha said.
Hearing him, Adam frantically shook his head. “There’s no reason to contact him. He’s in the hospital! Billy said so himself!”
At that moment, there was a flash of white and Tommy materialized in the room. Leaning against a console for support, he sighed. “What’s going on, Zordon?”
“Tommy, you shouldn’t be here,” Aisha said before coughing a few times. “You aren’t doing well.”
Gazing at her, Tommy frowned. “You don’t look very good yourself, Aisha. In fact, none of you do.” Feeling a sharp pain in his chest, the dizzy feeling he had experienced earlier returned and he weakly slid down against the console until he was sitting in a daze on the ground. Rubbing his eyes for a moment, he glanced up at Zordon who had been watching him with interest since he had teleported in. “What are Zedd and Rita up to?”
“THEY HAVE SENT DOWN RITO, SCORPINA, AND GOLDAR IN ANGEL GROVE PARK.”
“Ok, then,” Tommy muttered as he began to push himself up. “Let’s go.”
Billy shook his head. “I should go alone.”
Rocky rubbed his temple as his head began to pound. “No way. There’s no way one ranger can handle the three of them plus an army of tengas!”
“You guys aren’t well,” Billy argued. “I think Zedd and Rita know this, and this could be a trap. If I need help, I’ll call for you.”
Aisha shook her head. “No, Billy. We’re coming with you.” Sneezing, she lowered her head before glancing at Tommy. “Not you, though. You need to get back to your hospital room before someone sees that you’re missing.”
“I’ll be able to make up an excuse,” Tommy muttered faintly. “Besides, you guys are going to need help out there.”
“You aren’t going to be a big help if you pass out on the battlefield,” Billy observed cautiously. He knew how much Tommy hated to be weak, and he wasn’t exactly sure how the White Ranger would respond to what he had said.
Tommy groaned in annoyance. “I’m not going to pass out on the battlefield, Billy. That was a fluke thing today. The ranger armor gives you extra strength anyway.” As he felt the dizzy feeling become even stronger, her swayed slightly before cursing his body. Seeing Zordon nod, he grinned faintly. “It’s morphing time!”
“I’m fine,” Tommy muttered weakly as he glanced at Adam who was supporting him as he almost passed out again. “Really, Adam. You don’t have to support me.”
“Nice try, O Fearless Leader, but unlike some people, I can tell a lie when I hear it. Especially if you’re the one who says it,” Adam remarked dryly.
Glancing at the White Ranger with concern, Aisha sighed. “Zordon, you aren’t going to let him go with us, right?”
Tommy looked up at his mentor and said, “Come on, Zordon, I’m fine. You know I’m fine.” Sneezing, he shook his head and added, “Well, I’m fine except for a small allergy.” Seeing Zordon frown, he shrugged innocently. “Um, maybe not a small allergy. This may be the beginning of a cold but it’s nothing to--” Cutting off as Zordon shook his massive head, he sighed. “This isn’t the first time I’ve been weak, Zordon. When I was the Green Ranger, I--”
“TOMMY...” Zordon began authoritatively.
The White Ranger shook his head. “Zordon, the others aren’t feeling well either. They’re going to need all the help they can get, and we’re already missing Kim. I need to go with them!”
“Don’t even try that shit, because you--” Seeing that Zordon was eyeing him angrily, Rocky quickly closed his mouth and shrugged. “I was just trying to make a point.” Coughing a few times, he sighed and leaned against the console behind him.
Turning back towards the White Ranger, Zordon frowned. “YOU ARE GOING BACK TO THE HOSPITAL.”
“IF I WOULD HAVE KNOWN YOUR SITUATION, I WOULD NOT HAVE TELEPORTED YOU UP. AS ALWAYS, IF THE RANGERS NEED HELP I WILL CALL YOU AT THE LAST POSSIBLE MINUTE, BUT UNTIL YOU CAN GO FIVE MINUTES WITHOUT SHOWING ANY WEAKNESS YOU CANNOT FIGHT. THE OTHERS ARE AT LEAST ABLE TO STAND STRONG ON THEIR FEET.”
“I don’t show weakness every five minutes!” Tommy opposed. As he sneezed, the other rangers turned to him and put their hands on their hips. Sighing, Tommy glanced up at Zordon. “That was a fluke thing...”
“YOU’RE GOING BACK TO THE HOSPITAL, WHITE RANGER. I APOLOGIZE FOR DISTURBING YOUR MUCH NEEDED REST.”
As he unmorphed, Tommy glared at Zordon. “I know what this is. You can’t go two seconds without making me feel like a helpless child! It’s a power thing!”
“PERHAPS, BUT YOU ARE A HELPLESS CHILD IF YOU ARE NOT WELL, AND I’D RATHER HAVE YOU BE UPSET WITH ME THAN HAVE TO FEEL THE GUILT OF KNOWING THAT YOU DIED IF I HAD THE CHANCE TO SAVE YOU.”
“I wouldn’t die!” Tommy exclaimed. “You look at the glass half empty, don’t you?”
Rocky shook his head. “Tommy, you’re out of line.” (For once, Tommy, please give in to him. Please? This isn’t helping anything.)
“Would I die out there, Rocky? Tell me honestly,” Tommy said. “I really want to know. Do you think I would die if I went with you guys right now?”
“No,” Rocky admitted, “I don’t think you would die, but I recognize the risk. Even though I don’t think you would be killed, I don’t think you should take the chance.”
“IF YOU WERE TO DIE ON THE BATTLEFIELD DURING THIS FIGHT, TOMMY, WHO’S FAULT WOULD THAT BE?”
Tommy sighed. “It would be my fault for insisting on fighting, but I would have died with honor. That’s all a ranger could ever wish for.”
Zordon shook his head. “IT WOULD BE MY FAULT.”
“Your fault?” Tommy inquired with confusion. “Why the hell would it be your fault?”
“WHEN I FIRST BECAME A MENTOR FOR THE RANGERS, I KNEW THAT I HAD TO KEEP ALL OF MY UNDERLINGS IN LINE, AND WHEN YOU ARE FIGHTING OUT THERE I HAVE TO BE A FATHER TO YOU. IF A FATHER LETS HIS SON DIE THEN WHAT KIND OF A FATHER IS HE?”
Tommy groaned in frustration. “I didn’t ask for you to care what happens to me. Zordon, I make my own choices in life whether they are about dating, school, or being a ranger. It should be my decision to risk my own life.” As he began to feel dizzy again, he lowered his head and rubbed his eyes.
Watching his actions, Zordon looked at the other rangers who were gazing up at him. “MAY THE POWER PROTECT YOU, RANGERS. STOP GOLDAR, SCORPINA, AND RITO BEFORE THEY HARM THE CITIZENS OF ANGEL GROVE.”
“Here we go,” Adam muttered. Glancing once more at Tommy, he sighed. “We know you’ll be there in spirit.” With that, the four teleported away in flashes of blue, red, yellow, and black.
Turning his attention back to the White Ranger, Zordon sighed. “SOMETIMES I AM FORCED TO SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF JUST LIKE A FATHER MUST SAVE THEIR SON FROM THINGS THE SON MAY THINK ARE SAFE TO DO.”
Tommy shook his head. “I never said that going now would be safe.” Looking up at his mentor, he sighed with exasperation. “Why do you care what happens to me!? If I was killed you would just get a new person to be the White Ranger, and that would be that!”
“WHY DOES A FATHER CARE WHAT HAPPENS TO THEIR SON, AND WHY CAN A FATHER NEVER REPLACE THEIR SON IF HE WAS TO DIE?”
Opening his mouth to respond, Tommy gazed up at Zordon before closing his mouth again. (Why can a father never replace their son if he was to die?...Zordon?) “I...but it was Rita who made me who I am now. How can you...I don’t understand how you could...”
“I’m not...we don’t...” (Deep breath, Tommy. Try counting to ten. 1...2...3...) “You’re lying to me just to get me to leave. Zordon, you didn’t even choose me to be a ranger! Rita is the one who made me who I am!” (...4...5...6...) “I don’t understand how you could...” (...7...8...) “I’m no one special. All I am is someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and just happened to stumble upon the rangers.” (...9...10...That did not help with anything.)
Zordon chuckled at this and as the White Ranger watched him intently he smiled. “IS THAT WHAT YOU’VE THOUGHT ALL THIS TIME? DID YOU THINK THAT I MERELY TOLERATED YOU BECAUSE I HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO MAKE YOU THE WHITE RANGER? TOMMY, I COULD HAVE CHOSEN ANYONE ELSE TO BE THE WHITE RANGER BESIDES YOU. IN FACT, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN LESS RISKY THAN WHAT WE DID WITH YOU, BUT I DON’T REGRET IT. IF I HAD WANTED YOU OFF THE TEAM YOU WOULDN’T BE HERE AND WE WOULDN’T BE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION.
“AS FOR RITA...YES, SHE DID MAKE YOU A RANGER, BUT SHE DID NOT MAKE YOU WHO YOU ARE. RITA IS EVIL, AND YOU ARE NOT. IT’S THAT SIMPLE. YOU’VE MATURED ON YOUR OWN, TOMMY, AND IT HAS BEEN AMAZING TO WATCH YOU CHANGE AS IT IS FOR A FATHER TO WATCH THEIR SON GROW.”
Hearing him, Tommy couldn’t help but laugh. “Like a father to a son? I don’t think so. You’ve never really felt that way about me.”
“JASON HAS LEFT US, TOMMY, BUT EVEN BEFORE HE DID A BOND WAS FORMED BETWEEN US. YOU KNOW IT AS WELL AS I DO. WHILE I LOVE THE OTHERS, WE DO NOT SHARE THAT BOND. JASON AND I DID, BUT NOW HE HAS MOVED ON TO OTHER THINGS. BESIDES, YOU CAN’T SAY THAT YOU’VE NEVER CONSIDERED ME TO BE A FATHER IF NOT TO YOU THAN TO THE WHOLE TEAM, AT LEAST.”
“I...” (Father to a son...son to a father...he’s right. Damn it, he’s right.) (When has he ever been wrong, Tommy?) (Good point.) “Yeah, you have been, but what makes me so different than everyone else?”
Zordon grinned at this. “HOW MANY OF THE OTHER RANGERS WOULD HAVE BEEN BOLD ENOUGH TO SPEAK TO ME IN THIS MANNER?” As the White Ranger shrugged, he sighed. “YOU’RE GOING TO THE HOSPITAL.”
(There we go. All this father-son stuff was really starting to make me...feel for him.) (You just said that you did, Tommy.) (That’s true.) “Zordon,” Tommy complained, “I feel fine. At least let me stay up here and watch the others. That way if they need help I’ll be right here.” Coughing a few times, he looked up at Zordon for approval.
One word shut down all of his hopes. “NO.”
“I’m perfectly healthy!” Seeing Zordon look at him dubiously, he shrugged. “Close to it anyway.”
“WE JUST WENT THROUGH THIS, TOMMY.”
Tommy grinned. “I haven’t been at all dizzy for a few minutes!” As Zordon sighed, he lowered his head and hoped that he would be able to stop from sneezing. It didn’t work, and he sneezed a few times before sniffling and rubbing the bridge of his nose. “That was a fluke thi--”
“ALPHA, TELEPORT HIM BACK TO HIS HOSPITAL ROOM.”
Alpha, who had been listening intently to the whole conversation, nodded. “Right away, Zordon.”
Tommy looked pleadingly at the little droid. “Come on, Alpha. Be a pal, huh?”
“Zordon?” Alpha questioned, slightly thrown off by the tone of the White Ranger’s voice.
“TELEPORT HIM OUT. I DON’T CARE WHAT HE SAYS.”
“Yep,” Tommy muttered with a smile, “that’s something my father would say.” Shivering as a chill went down his spine, he grabbed onto the console and looked up at Zordon just as he was dematerializing.
Watching as he teleported away in a flash of white, Zordon closed his eyes for a moment before gazing down at Alpha. “Get the rangers on the viewing globe. I want to make sure they’re all right.”
“What’s the matter, Power Rangers?” Goldar implored with a laugh. “Are you feeling a little under the weather?”
Billy frowned. “I’m going to find out what you did to them, and why I wasn’t affected like they were.”
Scorpina smirked that this. “Go ahead, Blue Ranger. Oh, and where are the White and Pink Rangers? Were we a little too hard on them?”
“You should know that the Pink Ranger is being dealt with even as we speak,” Goldar said tauntingly. “Soon you all will perish.”
“What are you doing to Kim!?” Adam asked fiercely. (I swear, if they’re hurting her in any way...)
Rito chuckled. “Let’s just say that she’s getting some feathery company. Hey, speaking of feathery...attack, tengas!”
Seeing that the tengas were surrounding him, Rocky called for his Power Sword before slashing a few of their chests. Suddenly, his head began to pound as it had been earlier and, shaking his head, he was unprepared to the blow he received to back. Toppling over, he sighed. “This is not working.”
Punching and kicking blindly, Aisha cried out as a group of the birds jumped on top of her and pushed her to the ground. “I don’t know how Kim did it when she was all by herself the last time she was sick.” Successfully kicking a few of the birds off her, she tried to spot the Black Ranger through all the feathers. “Adam! I need help!”
“I’m up to my neck over here!” Adam called back. Feeling a burning pain go through his chest, his knees gave way and he looked up to see that Goldar was standing triumphantly above him.
Flipping over a group of the repulsive birds, Billy kicked one in the chest before punching another one. Turning around, he saw that the other rangers weren’t doing so good and quickly ran to their aid before jumping out of the way and turning on his communicator. “Zordon, we’re getting nailed out here! Goldar said something about Kim being attacked. You should check on her.”
“IF SHE’S ABLE, I’LL CALL HER TO HELP YOU, BILLY.”
“One more sick person isn’t going to help,” Billy muttered, “but if she’s feeling well enough we could really use the help.”
Listening the breathless Blue Ranger, Zordon frowned. “DO I NEED TO CONTACT TOMMY?”
Billy shook his head. “Wait on that, Zordon. I don’t want him coming out here unless there’s no other options left.”
From the Command Center, Zordon looked down at Alpha and commanded, “CONTACT KIMBERLY IMMEDIATELY.”
“Ay yi yi! Right away, Zordon!” Alpha pushed a few buttons on a console before turning to the viewing globe and waiting for a response.
From her bedroom, Kim was sitting in bed reading a magazine when here communicator went off. “Zedd, you are a bastard,” she mumbled before listening for her mother in the hallway outside of her room. Not hearing her, she raised the device to her lips. “I read you, Zordon.”
“KIMBERLY, THERE IS A MAJOR DISTURBANCE IN THE PARK. YOU NEED TO TELEPORT UP HERE IMMEDIATELY SO THAT I CAN FILL YOU IN ON THE SITUATION.” Pausing for a moment, he added, “I’M PICKING UP A DISTURBANCE JUST OUTSIDE YOUR HOME. DO YOU SEE ANYTHING?”
Kim narrowed her eyes at this and got out of bed and, in her pink nightgown, looked out of her bedroom window. Seeing the tengas swarming outside, she whispered, “There’s a whole army of tengas out here, Zordon. I’m going to need some help over here.”
Zordon pondered this for a moment before reluctantly answering, “VERY WELL. I WILL HAVE TOMMY MEET YOU.”
“What’s wrong, Zordon?” Kim questioned. “You sound upset about having to send Tommy over here.”
“I FEAR THAT ZEDD AND RITA MAY HAVE GOTTEN AN IDEA FROM YOUR ILLNESS AND CONCOCTED A SUBSTANCE TO MAKE THE OTHER RANGERS SICK AS WELL. BILLY IS THE ONLY ONE WHO HASN’T SUCCUMB TO THE EFFECTS OF THIS POTION.
“OUR INITIAL ANALYSIS HAS TOLD US THAT THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THESE CHEMICALS THAT HAS CAUSED A GREAT WEAKNESS IN TOMMY’S POWERS MAKING HIM MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO THE SPELL. I WAS INFORMED TODAY THAT HE WAS TAKEN TO THE HOSPITAL.”
Kim’s eyes widened. “Shit! You can’t ask Tommy to come here, then! I mean, I’m not feeling all that great, but I’ll be able to handle them. If Tommy’s in the hospital then that’s major!”
“YOU ARE GOING TO NEED HELP, THOUGH. I WILL CONTACT TOMMY, AND IF HE DOESN’T FEEL UP TO COMING THEN YOU WILL BE ON YOUR OWN OR I WILL SEND ONE OF THE OTHERS TO HELP YOU.”
(Yeah, right. Like Tommy will admit to not feeling up to fighting.) “I’m going now, Zordon. Kim out.” Taking in a deep breath, Kim shrugged. “Well, here goes nothing. It’s morphing time!”
Meanwhile, in Angel Grove Medical Hospital Tommy had just watched as Jeff exited the room to call his parents when his communicator went off. (I do not feel up to fighting.) (If Zordon’s calling you then it must be an emergency. The others are counting on you.) “I read you, Zordon.”
“A GROUP OF TENGAS HAS ASSEMBLED AROUND KIMBERLY’S HOME. DO YOU FEEL UP TO FIGHTING?”
“If Kim needs help then I’ll get over there,” Tommy told him. “I’m on my way.”
“YOU DIDN’T ANSWER MY QUESTION,” Zordon said slowly. “I ASKED IF YOU FELT UP TO FIGHTING, NOT IF YOU WERE WILLING TO FIGHT.”
Tommy sighed. “I’m going, Zordon.” Before his mentor could say anything else, Tommy cut off the communication. Getting out of his bed, he wobbled slightly before muttering, “All right. It’s morphing time!”
Goldar had just kicked Adam to the ground when he sensed that feeling he had been having ever since Tommy had been the Green Ranger. “The White Ranger is with the Pink Ranger. I must go.” With that, he teleported away.
Scorpina watched him with confusion before sighing and charging Aisha who had been catching her breath. “I don’t know how much more of this we can take,” Rocky cried after being struck by Rito’s sword. Seeing his vision blur, he cursed mentally before desperately trying to shake off the feeling.
Coughing a few times, Adam nodded. “Maybe the others could try to get over here.”
“Tommy shouldn’t even be fighting!” Aisha yelled. Calling for her Power Daggers, she watched with horror as Scorpina easily knocked them out of her hands.
(None of them should be fighting) Billy thought to himself. (I don’t know why they’re making such a big deal over Tommy when it’s obvious they’re all sick.) “Tommy,” he called into his communicator. “Tommy or Kim, come in!”
“Billy, this is Kim,” Kimberly called into her communicator after kicking a tenga away. “What’s up?”
Billy smiled at the sound of her voice. “Is there any way you and Tommy could get over here? We’re getting nailed.”
Kim shook her head. “Our asses are getting kicked over here, Billy. If we can, we will, but don’t count on it.” Hearing the line go dead, she looked up as Goldar teleported right in front of her. “What do you want, Ape Boy?”
“Any excuse to see you suffer is good enough for me,” Goldar replied with a smirk. Turning to Tommy who was having enough trouble dealing with the tengas he was fighting, he laughed. “Really, White Ranger, your form doesn’t look that good. Could it be that you’re feeling somewhat sick to the stomach?”
Tommy growled at him. “Go to hell, Bastard. It’s your face that makes me sick to the stomach!”
Raising his sword tauntingly, Goldar took a step towards him and chuckled darkly. “Really, Tommy. I would have thought you could give in to your weakness by now.”
“If that was meant to be a challenge, I accept.” (Are you out of your mind!? As it is you’re slow on your feet and you have an awful headache!) (Like I’ll let him win. I accept any and all challenges.) “Come and get me.”
“I intend to,” Goldar snarled. Charging him, he watched with satisfaction as the White Ranger was barely able to block his sword with Saba in time. After kicking him down, Goldar sighed. “You aren’t as much of a challenge as you used to be, Tommy. I’m disappointed.”
Tommy frowned. “You take advantage of my weakness. I’m disappointed in you. You definitely aren’t as much of an adversary as you used to be, Goldar.”
Pulling out her Power Bow, Kim shot at a few of the tengas around her before trying to get in a good shot at Goldar. She was about to fire an arrow when two tengas grabbed her and held her back. “Get the hell off of me!” She screamed. Coughing, she slammed the bow into the beak of one of the tenga sending it fleeing in agony. Kicking the other one in the stomach, she got a shot off at Goldar and watched contentedly as he fell to the ground.
Kim ran over to Tommy and helped him to his feet. “We’re not going to be able to keep this up much longer.”
“The others are in Angel Grove Park,” Tommy told her. “If we could run there we could all regroup. That would at least give us a fighting chance.”
Looking at him with concern, she sighed. “Are you up for it?”
Tommy gazed down at her. “Are you?”
“Yeah,” She replied tersely, “I’m up to it.”
“Then I am, too,” Tommy said. “Let’s go.” With that, the two glanced back at the tengas and Goldar one more time before taking off down the street.
Goldar tilted his head in puzzlement. “Where the hell are they going?”
“Should we follow them?” A tenga questioned.
“Of course, Bird Brain!” Goldar exclaimed. “After them!”
Feeling dizzy, Adam fell to the ground in a daze and tried to get himself to focus. (Come on, Adam. This isn’t the time to be getting light-headed. You have a job to do.) Forcing his legs to support him, he stood again and swayed before calling on his Power Ax and firing at a few tengas coming his way.
As he felt Billy’s hand touch his shoulder, he shook his head. “I’m fine, Billy.”
“Are you sure?” Billy asked with worry. “I saw what just happened to you.”
“I said I’m fine,” Adam said again. “Go help the others.” Shooting at a few more tengas, he leaned against a nearby tree and took a few deep breaths.
Nodding reluctantly, Billy ran over to where Aisha had just fallen and, calling for his Power Lance, struck the tengas crowding around her. Once the area was clear, he knelt by her and, hearing her gasping for breath, he brought his communicator to his lips. “Zordon, teleport Aisha up to the Command Center.”
Aisha shook her head and turned on her communicator. “No, Zordon. I just got the wind knocked out of me.” As she felt herself beginning to teleport, she glanced at Billy. “At least I was still conscious.”
“You weren’t going to be for long,” Billy told her truthfully. Seeing her disappear in a flash of yellow, he hoped she would forgive her before blocking Rito just as he tried to strike him.
Coughing a few times, Rocky looked up from where he had been fighting Scorpina and smiled. “Hey, guys! You’re just in time!”
Kim noticed him first and, turning to see Goldar and the tengas chasing them, she sighed. “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”
“Zordon really should start giving us danger pay for this,” Tommy mumbled before flipping over an oncoming group of tengas with Saba in hand. Shooting at a few of them, he watched them fall over before jumping to where Rocky, Adam, Kim, and Billy had regrouped. “Where’s Aisha?”
“She didn’t look too good,” Billy informed him. “I told Zordon to teleport her up.”
Adam smiled. “She’s going to be pissed at you.” (Aisha gets mad at anyone who makes her feel weak in any way.)
Billy nodded at this. “I know, but there was nothing else I could do. She needed help.”
“So you’ve regrouped,” Goldar said with a snicker. “We will still destroy you, ill rangers!”
As the tengas charged them, the rangers all engaged themselves in battle again. Flipping over to where Tommy was, Rocky glanced at him and raised his Power Sword. “Do you want to connect?”
“It couldn’t hurt,” Tommy replied.
Putting the Power Sword and Saba together, they yelled, “Tiger/Rex, Fire!” A white and red beam shot out from the two weapons and burnt ten tengas that had been running towards them.
Smiling, Tommy patted his shoulder. “Good shooting, Bro.”
“You too, Man,” Rocky said with a grin.
Scoffing, Saba glanced up at the White Ranger. “Do I get any praise? No. You’re so selfish.”
“Fine,” Tommy muttered. “You were wonderful, Saba. I’m so grateful to have you here with me.”
“I could tell that was from the heart. One of these days I’m going to have to tell Zordon about the disrespect you show me,” Saba told him with a scowl.
Tommy smirked at this. “I’m sure you will, Saba.” Looking up to see Scorpina running towards him, he raised Saba defensively and waited for her attack.
Kicking Goldar in the chest together, Adam and Kim pulled out there Power Weapons. Firing, they watched as Goldar fell over and cried out in pain. The two nodded at each other before going off to fight the leftover tengas.
Scorpina smiled as Tommy kicked her only a few feet away. “Feeling a little tired, Tommy? I can ease your pain.”
“Leave then, because right now you’re being a pain in the ass,” Tommy snarled. Before he could defend himself, Scorpina had grabbed him and was holding him tightly against herself. Coughing a few times, he tried to glance at her before rasping out, “Really, Scorpina, I didn’t know you liked the rough stuff.”
“All I’m doing is letting you sleep, White Ranger,” Scorpina told him soothingly. Digging her fingers into his arms, she began to drain his energy and suck it into herself.
Immediately feeling the effects, Tommy cried out and tried to pull away. At that moment he began to feel drowsy and feverish, and as his eyelids began to droop, he tried once more to pull away from her before his knees gave way. Prior to completely passing out, however, he felt his body touching the ground and sensed Scorpina’s presence as she loomed over him. “That wasn’t too bad, right, Tommy?”
Kneeling down next to him, she put her fingers on his chest and continued to drain his energy. Sneezing, he groaned in agony and tried his best to pull away from her, but she wouldn’t allow it. As he sneezed again, he heard her murmur, “You’re sick now, ranger, but you won’t be for much longer. Well, you won’t feel it, at least.”
“Stop,” he whispered quietly. “Please stop.”
Seeing his predicament, Kim aimed an arrow at Scorpina and was able to hit her dead on sending her flying a few feet away from the White Ranger. “Tommy, are you ok?” Running over to him, she desperately felt for any signs of life. Finding his pulse, she sighed with relief before saying, “Come on, Tommy. You can hear me, right? Answer me.” Tommy grunted once and tried to move his hand towards her, but couldn’t manage to do anything else.
Bringing her communicator to her lips, Kim quickly contacted Zordon. “Tommy’s down. Teleport him up right now, Zordon.” After seeing him disappear in a flash of white, Kim glared spitefully at Scorpina who was beginning to come towards her. “You’re going to pay for that, Bitch.”
“Bring it on,” Scorpina growled venomously. The two began to circle each other before charging at the same time.
Seeing the monsters group together, he pounded his fist against the trunk of the nearest tree in anger. “Damn it, if Aisha was ok we would be able to put the power weapons together!”
Billy, apparently hearing him, brought his communicator up to his lips. “Zordon, is there any possible way that you could send Aisha’s Power Daggers down to me so that I could add them to the configuration?” As an answer, he found the daggers in his hands. “I guess that’s a yes.”
“Let’s bring them together!” Rocky commanded.
Adam nodded and flipped away from one of the tengas that was following him. Raising his ax in defense, he watched as the tenga accidentally ran into a tree. Shrugging, he ran to where Rocky was standing and threw his weapon in the air. “Power Ax!”
Hearing him, Kim tossed her weapon in the air. “Power Bow!”
“Power Lance...and Power Daggers!” Billy cried as he threw the weapons in the air.
“Power Sword!” Jumping up in the air, Rocky placed his weapon on top of everyone else’s and came back down with the completed firearm in his hands. The others gathered next to him. “Fire!”
The tengas disintegrated as the beam hit them. Jumping out of the way, Goldar snarled, “We’ll be back, Rangers.”
“You guys don’t play fair!” Rito whined.
“We’ll meet again, Pink Ranger,” Scorpina growled. With that, the three teleported back to the moon to face the wrath of Lord Zedd.
“We’d better get up to the Command Center,” Kim said while still hearing Scorpina’s threat in her mind.
Rocky nodded. “Let’s go.” The four disappeared in flashes of pink, black, blue, and red.
Reaching the Command Center, they saw that Alpha was steadying Tommy as he breathed in the chemicals within a container with a funnel and face mask attached to it. Seeing that his eyes were closed, Kim put her hand on his shoulder before sighing and leaning against him. “You had me so worried.”
“LUCKILY HE WAS TELEPORTED UP JUST AFTER THE POWER DRAIN. THE GAS HE IS BREATHING IN NOW WILL HELP TO RESTORE THE ENERGY HE LOST. I DOUBT THIS WILL HAVE ANY EFFECT LIKE THE GREEN RANGER POWER LOSS DID.”
“I thought I had her,” Tommy muttered softly. “That blow...it just came out of nowhere.”
“What I want to know, Zordon, is why I wasn’t effected by this spell the rangers were put under,” Billy said.
“THAT IS A GOOD QUESTION, BILLY. ALPHA, RUN A DIAGNOSTIC SCAN ON HIM TO SEE WHAT MIGHT HAVE CAUSED THIS STRENGTH.”
Alpha tilted his head and looked at Tommy to Billy and back to Tommy again. Seeing his dilemma, Adam took Alpha’s place supporting the White Ranger as the little droid picked up a small device that was on top of a console before running it over Billy a few times. “The strength is coming from something in your left pocket, Billy.”
“Huh?” Unmorphing as Tommy and Aisha already were, he fished inside his left pocket and pulled out the bottle of vitamins he had been carrying earlier. “Are you saying that the spell didn’t work on me because I was taking some pills my doctor prescribed!?”
Rocky shrugged. “Sometimes the littlest things can make a big difference.”
“ALPHA, DO YOU THINK YOU COULD MAKE UP AN ANTIDOTE FOR THE RANGERS USING WHAT IS IN THOSE PILLS?”
“Yes, Zordon. All the pills contain are some vitamins. I can have the antidote ready in a few minutes.”
After about twenty minutes, Alpha was standing in front of the rangers with a strange looking gun in his hands. Pushing a few buttons on it, a blue light covered them for a minute before disappearing. Not feeling any sickness, Adam smiled. “You did it, Alpha! It worked!”
Rocky jumped up in the air. “Yes! All right! I can actually breathe through my nose now!”
“My headache is completely gone!” Aisha exclaimed. “Alpha, you’re amazing.”
Seeing Kim’s sullen expression, Zordon frowned. “YOUR ILLNESS WAS NOT CAUSED BY THE CHEMICALS ZEDD AND RITA ADMINISTERED TO THE OTHER RANGERS.”
Kim nodded. “I know, Zordon, but I was just hoping.” Coughing, she rubbed her eyes wearily. “If you guys don’t mind, I’m going back to sleep.” With that, she teleported away in a flash of pink.
Turning to Tommy, Zordon sighed. “THE POWER DRAIN HAS MADE YOU PHYSICALLY WEAK. IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA FOR YOU TO RETURN TO THE HOSPITAL.”
Coughing a few times, Tommy groaned. “I still feel sick, though. Not as much as I was before, but I still have a headache and my body is sore. My throat hurts, too, and I can’t breathe out of my nose!”
“I ASSUME YOU WERE WITH KIMBERLY WHILE SHE WAS SICK...”
“Damn it,” Tommy said. As the other rangers chuckled, he shrugged. “Well, that’s what I get for loving a person.”
“ALPHA, TELEPORT HIM OUT.”
“Right away, Zordon,” Alpha said.
Aisha smiled. “We’ll come see you later, Tommy.”
“Yeah, so you can boast about feeling completely well while I’m miserable?” Tommy questioned with a smirk.
Rocky shrugged. “That sounds about right.” Before anyone else could say more, Tommy disappeared in a flash of white.
Instead of ending up in his room like he had hoped though, he found himself right in front of the hospital. Glancing down at his communicator, he sighed. “Nice positioning, Alpha. Really nice.”
He was about to teleport back to his room when he saw his sister coming down the hallway towards his position. “How does she do that?” Thinking fast, he quickly sat down on the curb and curled up. (Great, Tommy. Now, don’t fall asleep in this position...I said don’t fall asleep! Try counting again...1...2...3...)
Hearing the door to the hospital open, Tommy closed his eyes and leaned his head against his shoulder. (4..5...6...7...oh hell, let’s just skip to 10.) Sniffling, he sighed as he heard his sister yell, “What in God’s name are you doing out here!?”
“I wanted to get some fresh air,” Tommy told her sleepily. Sneezing twice, he gazed up at her blurry form before smiling. “Do you have a tracking beam on me or what? You always seem to find me.”
“We’re related,” Jackie told him. “What do you expect. Oh, and get up. Do you have any idea how long we’ve been looking for you? Mom was about to call the police and say that you had been abducted from your room.”
Tommy shrugged. “That would have been a dumb thing to do.” Coughing a few times, he groaned as Jackie put her hand on his forehead. “I can take my own temperature, thank you.”
Ignoring him, Jackie said, “Well, it’s gone down a bit since I last checked it. You’re still warm, though.”
“What, I don’t get a lecture?” Tommy questioned flippantly as he allowed himself to lean against her slightly.
“I’m getting to it,” Jackie responded dryly. Taking in a deep breath and adjusting to Tommy’s weight, she glared at him. “Why the hell do you need to come out here to get fresh air if you have a window in your room!? You really do enjoy freaking us out, don’t you? We get all worried about you and then I end up finding you doing something completely stupid! You could have passed out when you were out there.”
Tommy shrugged. “It’s a hospital. Someone would have found me.”
Jackie scoffed. “That’s just like you. Don’t you see that some mad man may have found you out there and decided that you looked like a nice person to kill? Even if you were awake, you wouldn’t have been able to defend yourself! You would have been too weak!” Reaching his room, she literally pushed him inside before continuing her rant. “Damn it, do you know what I would have done if you had been killed!? I would have had a heart attack, and this is all being caused by you wanting to get some fucking fresh air--”
“How many times have I told you not to curse!?” Mr. Oliver implored angrily. Seeing that Tommy was with her, however, his eyes narrowed at his son. “Where the hell were you!? Do you know how worried we were!?”
Stepping away from his father who had that gleam in his eye that made him look like a psychotic murderer, he swallowed hard before saying, “Um, I was getting some fresh air.” As his dad began to scream again, he winced as the noise made his headache even worse.
“Fresh air!?” Mr. Oliver roared. “You have a fucking window in your room!” He was about to continue, but Mrs. Oliver entered with Jeff, and she hugged her son gingerly before helping him over to his bed again.
Jeff let out a deep sigh. “Damn it, we were worried about you.”
Looking at his father as if he were the most frightening thing he had ever seen, Tommy lowered his eyes before muttering, “I’m not feeling that good.”
“I’m not finished talking to you, damn it!” Mr. Oliver yelled.
Mrs. Oliver put a hand on his arm and did her best to pull him away. “Later, Dear. Tommy needs his rest. You remember what the doctor said, right?”
Nodding slowly, Mr. Oliver finally gave into her and allowed himself to be forced out of the room. Pulling up a chair beside her brother’s bed, Jackie smiled at him. “Do you want me to continue my speech?”
“Not particularly,” Tommy mumbled. “It’s nothing against you, of course, but...no.”
Bringing the other chair closer, Jeff sat down and chuckled. “Fresh air? I’m sorry, Man, but that just seems...pardon the term: idiotic. Amazingly idiotic.”
Tommy glanced at him and smirked. “Your support in this matter is so touching. I could never do without you, Jeff.”
“Yep, I’m sure that came from the heart,” Jeff muttered with a playful grin on his face.
“What are you doing here anyway?” Tommy questioned. “I know you were in the hallway when I was really weak, but why come now?”
Sensing that she should leave, Jackie smiled at them before exiting the room. Jeff watched her before inquiring, “Would you believe me if I said I felt obligated to come?”
Smiling, Tommy shrugged. “No, but for the sake of discussion I’ll go along with you. You felt obligated to come. Why?”
Jeff rubbed the bridge of his nose before laughing weakly. “Why!? After all that you’ve done for me in the last few months how could I not come!?”
“All that I’ve done for you?” Tommy frowned. “We’re close, Jeff. I’ve done anything that a friend would do.”
Shaking his head, Jeff grinned faintly. “When I was with some of the guys and we got into that car accident the nurse told me you stayed by my side all night.”
Tommy nodded. “Of course I did. They thought you may have had some internal bleeding. We didn’t know if you were going to live or die that night, and if you had died...I wanted to be there.”
“They said you never slept,” Jeff pointed out.
“If one of your best friends was going to die, would you sleep!?” Tommy asked, astonished by the question. “I stayed the night because I wanted to be able to pay my last respects if you were going to die, and if you wanted to say something before you passed on I wanted to be there with you.”
Jeff shrugged. “This is the same thing.”
“No, it’s not,” Tommy countered. “You were going to die. I’m not. All that’s wrong with me is that I have a cold that people have taken way too seriously.”
Jeff lowered his eyes momentarily before gazing at him. “So, you’re saying that if it hadn’t been a life or death situation you wouldn’t have stayed?”
Thinking about this, Tommy shook his head. “I probably would have stayed just in case.”
“See? Then there was that time when one of my friends died. You don’t know him, but you stayed with me all the time. If I told you to bug off then you would, but I knew you were always somewhere around, and if I wanted to talk, you’d actually listen to me!” Jeff exclaimed.
Tommy chuckled at this. “Why is that so hard to believe? You were hurting, and I wanted to be there for you.”
Jeff sighed. “You don’t understand, Tommy. Out of all my friends you were the only one to treat me that way. I don’t know...I kinda felt important after that. Don’t tell anyone this, but sometimes I feel really low. I was suicidal a year ago because I didn’t think anyone liked me.”
“That’s changed, though,” Tommy told him. “You’ve got girls hanging all over you now.”
“So do you,” Jeff observed. “Anyway, what is it about you that makes you different than everyone else?”
Tommy shrugged. “Nothing. I’ve been suicidal. Really suicidal. I even went out to the cliffs and considered taking a dive off of one, but I didn’t go through with it. Honestly, I don’t think I ever would. Just the thought of dying scares me.”
“Really, though. Other people have seen you as different, too,” Jeff informed him. “What is it that makes you so unlike everyone else?”
“I really don’t know,” Tommy told him honestly. “Maybe it’s that I used to pick on a lot of people when I was a freshman, but when I came here I started hanging out with people that seemed to treat me the same way I treat you. They really saved me. If it wasn’t for them I would have killed myself.”
Jeff snickered. “You mean like Jason Scott, the all-American boy scout?”
Tommy frowned. “Don’t call him that, and yeah, I did mean Jason.”
“See, that’s what I’m talking about!” Jeff said. At Tommy’s confused glance, he continued, “You just told me not to call him that, but you don’t even sound upset about it. I mean, I can tell that you meant what you said, but it’s like you continually give me the benefit of a doubt...like today with Billy.”
Tommy shrugged. “That’s what friends do, Jeff. I’m not going to get really pissed at you for saying one or two dumb things.”
Jeff smiled. “I’ve said more than two dumb thing around you, Tommy. Then it goes the other way around. After Will died I would mercilessly curse you out if you came near me when I didn’t want you to, and I could tell that I hurt you a little, but you never said anything. All you did was nod and silently walk away.”
“You’re making me sound so much more unique than I really am,” Tommy said with a chuckle. “I was giving you time to cope with the situation, and I knew that you were just angry at the world. You weren’t really mad at me, but you were feeling guilty and you were mad at the person who shot him.” As the door to the room opened, a nurse came in holding a large needle and, eyeing it, Tommy shook his head. “There is no way you are sticking that thing into me.”
The nurse grinned. “Well, after leaving your room quite a few times today, I think you could use a little help getting to sleep. There are some meds in here, too.”
Jeff chuckled. “Ah, needles. Your favorite thing.”
“Ha, ha,” Tommy muttered. Turning away as the nurse brought the needle closer, he winced as he felt the point enter his arm.
“See, that wasn’t so bad,” The nurse said, the smile still on her face.
Tommy shrugged. “Well, it wasn’t so bad for you.” She had just reached the doorway when he began to feel even more drowsy than he had been before. “Damn drugs.”
“Get some sleep, Man,” Jeff said. “Oh, and try to act sick for the next few days so you don’t have to go to school.”
“Act?” Tommy questioned. “Why do I need to act? I’m going to feel sick for a few weeks...” His voice trailed off as his head nodded against his chest. Yawning, he closed his eyes and allowed the medicine to go into full effect.
Watching him for a moment, Jeff turned to the nurse that had just reentered the room. Seeing him, she smiled. “Are you still planning on spending the night?”
“Yeah,” Jeff told her. “Um, can I get what he had? It seems to have worked wonders.”
“Try getting what he has and I’m sure we could work something out,” The nurse told him. Seeing him smirk, she left the two alone.
“I can’t believe you failed!” Zedd yelled at Scorpina, Goldar, and Rito who were huddled at the back of the throne room. “They were completely vulnerable, and you still couldn’t defeat them!”
Scorpina shrugged. “I drained the White Ranger’s powers--”
Zedd cut her off. “...and they you let him get away before the power transfer could be made permenant!” As she lowered her head, he groaned. “I’m not feeling so good. Damn Earth virus that Rita has. Finster! Make me some of that Nyquil that the White Ranger was talking about!”
Poking his head into the room, Finster shrugged, “Nyquil? As you wish, Lord Zedd.”
After he had left the room, Goldar sighed. “Well, that wasn’t so bad.”
“At least my sister is sick,” Rito said. “She would have been screeching her head off for hours, but Ed is different. He just gives it to you in five seconds and then leaves you alone.”
Scorpina groaned. “That’s Zedd, you idiot.”
“Whatever.” With that, Rito left Goldar and Scorpina alone in the throne room.
Trembling lightly, Goldar glanced at Scorpina. “A strange feeling just came over me. I think I have a headache.”
“Me too,” Scorpina said. Rubbing her temple, she glanced at Goldar in terror as she coughed. “What was that?”
“I don’t know,” Goldar told her with fright. As his throat itched, he put his hand around it and tried to get the feeling to stop. Looking at each other, they both took in deep breaths and sneezed in sync.
Rubbing her nose, Scorpina faintly recalled the White Ranger doing the same thing when she had been draining his energy. Watching her face, Goldar began to think of being around those rangers who had all been ill. “Damn those rangers!” Goldar yelled before leaving the room.
Sneezing again, Scorpina scowled and looked out of Rita’s telescope. Finding that Tommy was sleeping soundly in his hospital room, she stomped her foot on the ground in anger. “Damn that Tommy!” She muttered angrily.
At that moment, she heard Rita call to her from her bedroom. “Scorpina! Why are you making all that noise!? You just ruined my beauty sleep!” Wincing as the screaming rang in her ears, Scorpina just sighed and left the room.