“When are they going to be back!? I’m starting to hyperventilate!”
“CALM DOWN, ZACK. THEY’LL BE TELEPORTING IN ANY MOMENT.”
The mood in the Power Chamber, command base of the Power Rangers, was calm yet tense. The five rangers that stood looking at each other knew that it would be just like the moon powers to do something to them that would ruin the joy of the Rangers’ return to Earth after being on Aquitar for a few days.
Alpha looked at some readouts coming through on a computer monitor before exclaiming, “I’m picking them up, Zordon! They should be landing here in a matter of moments.”
Closing his eyes, Zordon concentrated his energies on the incoming rangers, already sensing that something was not right. (They all seem to be living and healthy enough) he thought to himself. (What, then, am I picking up about the six rangers that is bothering me?) That was when it hit him. In his telepathic viewing of the rangers, he had only spotted six of them, not seven, and, if his mind powers were correct (which they always were) he knew who the unfortunate ranger was that was missing. (It’s always him. Every single time, he’s the one that ends up being separated from the others.)
At that moment, six colored lights entered the Power Chamber and, materializing, the Power Rangers fell to the ground with exhaustion. Adam Park rubbed his forehead wearily before realizing that they had made it back safely. He smiled. “It feels good to be back.”
Jason Scott nodded. “Yeah, but I’m going to get a good night’s sleep tonight. That teleportation was tough!”
“I’ll say,” Tanya Sloan muttered. “When we hit that area close to another planet’s gravitational pull...whooo...that took a lot of energy to move away from.” She pushed a few strands of curly dark brown hair away from her face before looking up at the Ninja and Silver Rangers. “Oh, we have a lot to fill you guys in on!”
Katherine Hilliard let out a deep sigh. “I’ll say. That Divatox was quite an advesary.”
“Luckily, she’s dead now,” Rocky DeSantos informed them. “There was a detonator that nearly blew us to smithereens, but at the last minute someone teleported the device to her submarine, and the thing exploded in midair. That was amazing...oh, and I was almost killed by a torpedo.”
Jaime Talsik, who had been watching the rangers with amusement, turned to the Ninja Rangers and chuckled. “You thought my stories were interesting.”
Slightly hurt, Emily Johnson frowned. “You told them some of your stories about Triphoria when we weren’t around?”
“They were amazing,” Trini Kwan breathed before walking over to Jason and throwing her arms around him. “I missed you when you were gone.”
Kissing her, Jason smiled. “I missed you, too, Trini, but let me tell you, there is a lot to fill you in on. Tommy could tell you easily that we went through a lot while we were over there.”
Hearing her boyfriend’s name, Kat looked around for the White Ranger and gasped as she saw that he was not present. (Oh my God...how could he not be here? He teleported with us!) “Guys, where is Tommy?”
Jackie’s eyes widened as she frantically scanned around the room. “Shit, where is he!? Didn’t he teleport with you guys!?” (Tommy, you just have the worse luck. You’d better not be dead!)
“We all teleported off of Aquitar together!” Rocky insisted. “I pushed my communicator a little later than him. He definitely teleported!”
Emily looked up at Zordon, the terror evident in her eyes. “Zordon, what could have happened to him?” She couldn’t believe that something like this was happening to Tommy again. First the thing with Uriel, and now this!? How much could one ranger take before he broke!?
“ALPHA, BEGIN A GLOBAL SEARCH FOR TOMMY. PERHAPS HIS TELEPORTATION TRACK WAS ALTERED BY SOME FORCE IN SPACE, AND HE LANDED SOMEWHERE ELSE.”
“Right away, Zordon!” Alpha acknowledged. “Oh, ay yi yi! I hope he’s all right!”
All of a sudden, alarms began to blare in the Power Chamber making all of the rangers, in their nervous anticipation of Alpha’s scan, jump back. “RANGERS, WE ARE RECEIVING A MESSAGE FROM AQUITAR.”
Seeing Billy and Aurico come up on the screen, Jason stepped towards the viewing globe with trepidation. (Please say that they know where Tommy is.) “We read you.”
“Jason, after you teleported away from Aquitar a little while earlier, we received some alarming visual feedback that I thought you should look at,” Billy explained. The lines on the face were a betrayal of his fright, as was his shaking. He stepped out of the way so that a large screen behind him could be seen through the viewing globe.
From the screen came a shot of the seven colored lights symbolizing the seven Power Rangers teleporting off of Aquitar. It seemed apparent that they had just popped through the water planet’s atmosphere and were beginning to move back towards Earth. At that moment, three flames flashed in front of the screen and moved towards the rangers. Tanya gasped. “What the hell are those?”
One of the flames seemed to attack itself to the white beam of light and pull it in another direction. Kat shook her head, unable to believe what she was seeing. “Someone or something is taking him out of his teleportational route!”
At that moment, the screen faded to black. “That was all we picked up,” Aurico informed them. “If we learn more, we will contact you immediately, but our guess is that these flames were in fact another teleportational beam, and that one of the beings in the teleport was pulling Tommy back towards our neighboring planet, Hirpog. It is a dark planet, and anyone who was pulling the White Ranger back there is not a being of light.”
Still taking in all that he had seen, Jaime shook his head momentarily as a strange voice popped into his head. It had a soft tone; pleading yet authoritative. (You know what happened to him, Jaime) the voice said. (The being who controlled you tried to take him.) As the other rangers began to murmur among themselves, Jaime closed his eyes and said, “It was Uriel.”
“What did you say?” Trini asked, her eyes showing her concern.
“I said that the being that took Tommy was Uriel,” Jaime murmured again, this time louder than before. “She was the one that pulled him back to Hirpog. I’m sure of it.”
Zack looked at him, his expression dubious. “How do you know?”
Glaring at him, Jaime replied, “As I said, I’m sure of it. Somehow, I know that I’m right. Uriel is the one who pulled Tommy out of his teleportational route.”
“Do you have any way of knowing where he is now?” Jackie questioned. (It’s worth a shot. I’m not sure if Jaime is right, but he has that look on his face that just says ‘trust me’.)
Jaime closed his eyes and asked for the little voice to speak to him again, not knowing where it had come from the first time or if it would come to him again. The others watched him in confusion until he shook his head and opened his eyes again. “She doesn’t have him.”
“IT IS POSSIBLE, JAIME, THAT YOU HAVE PICKED UP SOME KIND OF MENTAL LINK WITH URIEL BECAUSE OF THE SPELL THAT SHE PLACED YOU UNDER. TRIPHORIANS RESPOND DIFFERENTLY TO SPELLS THAN HUMANS.”
(Is that why visions of Uriel and Tommy sleeping together keep going through my mind?) (There’s no way to prove that...not unless you ask him...) “Maybe, Zordon, because I’ve never had this happen to me before.”
Kim sighed. “So, if he isn’t with Uriel and he isn’t in here, then where the hell is he?” Kat glanced at her before turning away and looking back at Billy and Aurico who both had the same look on their face...it was an expression that she had seen many times: This was not good.
The first thing that touched Tommy Oliver’s nose when he became conscious again was the smell of pizza. (Good old Pizza Hut) he thought to himself, his mind still too cloudy to register what was truly going on around him. (It smells like plain cheese...nah, maybe a little pepperoni, too.)
That was when it hit all at once. Pain shot through his abdomen, and it went through his chest, legs, and face. Tensing, he bit his lip as something cold touched his cheek and made it sting even worse than it already was, he relaxed as a soft female voice whispered, “It’s all right, Tommy. What I’m doing now is cleaning out these cuts. You seem to have had quite an adventure.” (You have no idea...and how do you know who I am?)
The voice sounded familiar, but he couldn’t place a finger on it. It definitely wasn’t Jackie or Kat, and it didn’t seem to be any of the other female rangers. Maybe it was Rocky doing his feminine impersonation again, and Tommy knew that if he wasn’t in so much pain that he would have laughed at the memory. He had been with Rocky, Adam, and Billy in Angel Grove studying after he had become the White Ranger for the first time, and the Red Ranger had been complaining about how annoying girlfriends could be.
Adam and Tommy had both found Rocky’s rant amusing while Billy had been fit to argue that having a woman in your life was a blessing. Wanting to prove his point, Rocky had gotten up and done as detailed an impersonation of Cassandra as he could do. Tommy remembered that he had been laughing so hard that tears had begun to form in his eyes, and Adam had been crying. Seeing Rocky strut around like a woman had been an interesting experience...especially since Cassandra, who had come to ask Rocky about going to a movie that night, caught most of it. The poor guy...he had been disciplined quite well for that one. (Now she’s dead,) Tommy added mentally feeling tears begin to fall from his cheeks.
Again, the female voice rang in his ear sending chills up his spine. “He doesn’t look good, Mulder. If he doesn’t become fully conscious in a half hour we’re going to have to take him to a hospital.” That was a word Tommy caught. Hospital. He HATED that word.
Forcing himself to open his eyes, he wiped the tears from his face before wincing as his hand fell on his cheek. (Rashell...scratched me.) Tommy began to sit up, but two sets of hands quickly pushed him back down. “No. Don’t strain yourself, Tommy,” the female voice ordered, her tongue having a little more of an edge to it than it had before.
Squinting at her, Tommy gave himself a moment to record the woman’s face in his brain before shaking his head in shock. (How did I end up here!?) “Agent Scully? Why...how did--”
“Don’t worry about the technicalities right now, Tommy,” Dana Scully told him sincerely. “All you need to know is that you’re safe with us.” Wanting to see who ‘us’ was, Tommy glanced around the room and found that Special Agent Fox Mulder was watching him from his spot in a chair on the other side of the room. Leaning against the wall was the man that Tommy had nearly killed after being made insane by Uriel, Alex Krycek. The one-armed man nodded his way, a small smile on his boyish features.
Wiping the sweat from Tommy’s forehead with a cool washcloth, Scully sighed. “I want you to tell me honestly how you feel. We may need to take you to a hospital. Because of the position you were in, I couldn’t see what other injuries you have on your body, but the blood on your white shirt implies that there are more cuts on your stomach that I haven’t found yet.”
“I was on another planet,” Tommy told her, smiling mentally as he realized how stupid that sounded. “There was a battle going on, and I got hurt. A monster cut my abdomen with his sword. It was nothing major, though. I’m sure that I’ll be fine.”
Looking at the nasty looking scratches on his face, Mulder sighed. “Well, the marks on your face don’t look like sword marks. Then again, I’m not a Power Ranger. Why don’t you tell me who did that to you, Tommy.”
(Damn it, I forgot about those.) Shivering lightly, Tommy frowned. “I can’t talk about it...not yet.”
Scully easily noticed that Mulder was going to persist, and she cut him off before he could. “You’re in shock, you’re injured, and you’re obviously in a lot of pain. We’ll save the questions for later. I did get a look at your abdomen while you were in the car. It seems to have been wrapped.”
“Adam did that,” Tommy told her, knowing that she knew who he was. “Billy, a friend of mine, took me up to some medical room, and Adam teleported up and bandaged the cut. He also said something about being really exhausted...but I’ve been unconscious for a little while, so does that make up for that?”
Krycek knew it was an attempt at a quip, but he had to admit that even Mulder’s were better than that. Walking towards him, Krycek sighed and knelt down by the couch. “This Power Rangers thing is new to us even now on this side of the country, but I do have a small idea of what teleportation is. If you were teleporting off of Aquitar with other rangers then you would have had someplace to land. Where is that?”
“Angel Grove,” Tommy told him weakly. “We have...a Power Chamber that’s kinda like a Command Center over there.”
(Power Rangers, Power Chamber, and aliens...oh my.) “Is there any way for you to get there from here?” Mulder questioned. At Scully’s puzzled look, he shrugged. “Well, it would save us the airfare, and he wouldn’t be missing for long. Besides, the other rangers will know how to treat him better than us. Maybe they have some kind of healing mechanisms. Either way, it’ll be better if he leaves. Skinner would start getting suspicious, and when he gets suspicious then other people get suspicious, too.”
Scully frowned. “Why would the Syndicate care about the Power Rangers?”
“Any being with enough power to kill aliens day after day has enough power to expose them and bring them to their knees,” Krycek concluded. “Besides, if they tie Tommy to us then they’re going to get all the more suspicious.”
“Fine,” Scully said, “then I’m going with him.” When the two men began to protest, Scully shook her head. “That’s final, guys. I need to see this place, and I need to see their technology. This Power Chamber could be an amazing place of research--”
Tommy groaned and looked at her. “No. Zordon won’t allow that. The Power Chamber is for rangers only, and I don’t even think he knows that you know about us.” Glancing at his communicator, he pushed past the three and forced himself to stand. “I hope there are no hard feelings,” he said, rerouting his teleportational track, “because I’m so thankful that you guys took me in.” Pushing a few buttons, he began to fade away, but before he could disappear completely, he could only watch as Scully, Mulder, and Krycek clung onto him for dear life, and they all teleported away in a flash of white.
Reaching the Command Center, Tommy’s knees gave way, and he fell to ground painfully before closing his eyes and taking a few deep breaths. As a pair of feminine arms embraced him, he breathed in his girlfriend’s beautiful fragrance thankfully before whispering, “Katherine--”
“Don’t talk,” She said before kissing his forehead. Noticing the scars on his cheek, Kat lowered her eyes away from them before kissing his forehead again. “Stop worrying me like that. I swear, I’m going to start growing gray hairs.”
Jason, who had watched the whole thing, shook his head. “Bro, I’m not even going to start on you...what the hell happened!? You were right behind us!” Glancing at Mulder, Scully, and Krycek who were glancing around the room in wonder, he sighed, “and what the hell are they doing here!?”
“I tried to stop them from coming,” Tommy told him quietly, “but they just held on to me. They know we’re rangers, Jason. Give it a break.” The coldness of Jason’s voice had caught him off guard, but Tommy quickly realized that the edge in Jason’s voice was not direct anger, but worry that had just gone off into full blown rage. Seeking refuge in Kat’s embrace, he glanced up at Jason nervously. “Don’t be mad, Jason. I couldn’t avoid what happened.”
Rocky nodded. “We’re not mad at you, Tommy, and we don’t blame you for what happened.” Gazing at Jason, he frowned. “Right?”
The Red Ranger sighed. “Damn it, you know I’m not mad at you, Tommy. I never really am. It’s just that...how the hell is it that you’re the one that always has stuff like this happen to you?”
“Luck?” At Jason’s fierce glare, he inched backwards and felt Kat’s arms tighten around him. (That’s why he made a better leader than me...when Jason is mad, he can scare the shit out of someone!)
“This is incredible!” Mulder breathed as he looked at the complex technology within the main room of the Power Chamber. “Frohike would love to see this place.” The gleam in his eye made him look like a little boy who had just found a cool toy that he wanted to play with.
Scully frowned. “Mulder, if you even think of bringing Frohike here--”
“I don’t know, Scully. It’s cute the way he has a crush on you.” As Scully glared at him, Krycek quickly closed his mouth and walked to the other side of the room.
Zordon, who had been watching the newcomers with wary, addressed them. “WHO ARE YOU, AND WHAT BUSINESS DO YOU HAVE WITH THE RANGERS?”
Noticing the floating head for the first time, Krycek’s mouth hung open in awe. (No way! I feel like I’m in The Wizard of Oz only the room is filled with really modern electronics and the head is in a big tube.) Being the first one to gain his courage, Mulder looked up at him. “I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder with the FBI. We were the ones that helped Rocky through his trial in LA a little while ago.”
“YOUR BUSINESS WAS DONE A FEW MONTHS AGO, THEN,” Zordon acknowledged. “WHY DID YOU INSIST ON COMING WITH THE WHITE RANGER TO THE POWER CHAMBER?”
Scully shrugged. “To be honest, it was mere curiosity of what the command center of the Power Rangers looked like. I don’t regret coming, actually. This place is incredible.” Glancing down at the White Ranger, she shook her head. “You have to get him to a hospital. He hasn’t been looking very good since we found him in an alleyway in DC.”
“Well, then, we should get him to a hospital,” Adam said, knowing that Scully was a licensed medical doctor and that he shouldn’t question her judgment. “A few of us could go down to the Angel Grove Hospital and say that we had been worried when he didn’t meet us in the park, and that we found him like this.”
Jason nodded. “Good idea, Adam. I’ll go with you.”
“Guys,” Tommy protested, his voice betraying his pain.
Not willing to hear him out, Jason shook his head. “No.”
Late that night, Tanya crept out from her room in the shelter for the workers in Angel Grove in a black leather mini-skirt and a yellow sweater and walked through the dark streets of the broken city. The moon cast eerie shadows onto the ruble that used to be great buildings, and they made her shudder as memories returned to her from that fateful day when Stone Canyon and Angel Grove had been destroyed.
Walking to Angel Grove Park, Tanya looked at the note in her hands that she had received as soon as she returned to her room. It read: “I know you’re getting back tonight, Tanya, and I need to speak with you A.S.A.P. Meet me alone in Angel Grove Park after everyone is asleep. I’ll be waiting~ Zack.”
“I’m glad Tommy is in no serious danger,” Zack said, coming up behind a startled Tanya. Seeing her tremble, he smiled warmly. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you, Tanya. Thank you for coming.” “What’s so important that you couldn’t say it around the rangers?” Tanya asked, not liking how harsh her voice had sounded. She wasn’t mad at Zack for calling her out so late at night, but it was the thought of what he was going to say that both irked her and made her nervous.
Zack put a hand on her shoulder and flashed her one of his most dazzling grins. “I missed you while you were on Aquitar. We were all afraid that something might happen to you over there, and that got me thinking...I know that Jason said not to pursue this, Tanya, but I can’t just sit back and watch you from afar. I want you.”
Tanya pushed his hand off of her. “Zack, I’m flattered. Really. I’ve heard how much you loved Angela, and you gave up this love for me...but I could never return the gesture. Adam is my boyfriend, and I love him.”
“I saw how you looked at me when I came to Angel Grove,” Zack told her, his voice rising, “and I know that I could make you happier than Adam ever could. Tanya, I don’t want to hurt him, but I don’t want you to hurt yourself by staying with him.”
“That’s quite an ego you have there,” Tanya observed. “Again, I will make myself clear to you: Adam is my boyfriend and I have no desire to hurt him in any way.” With that, she turned and began to walk away, wrapping her arms around her chest to keep warm.
Suddenly, she felt Zack’s arms fall over her, heating her to the point that she couldn’t breathe. “Tell me again, Tanya. Say that you don’t want me.”
Tanya stared down at his muscular arms for a moment before gasping as she felt his erection push against her. Pulling away, she growled at him. “Stay away from me. I promise you this right now, Zack. If you touch me again, I will tell Adam everything that you’ve done tonight and make sure that you never do it again.” Seeing his startled expression as a perfect opportunity for her retreat, she ran off towards the shelter again, not able to shake how good it had felt to be in his arms.
The next morning, Jason awoke to the sound of a lonely bird chirping as a breeze blew through the unnaturally barren trees. Rubbing his eyes, he glanced at a blond-haired nurse who was watching him with interest before walking over to her. “I hope I wasn’t a big hassle last night.”
Cheerfully, the nurse shook her head. “No, Sir. I understand wanting to support a friend completely. You’ll be happy to know that he has no internal bleeding, and after treating him for the abdominal wound, sprained ankle, and bruised hip, he should be up and walking around normally in about a week.”
“That’s great,” Jason said, a small grin forming on his lips. “Can I see him?”
“I don’t see why not,” The nurse replied. “As you know, he’s in room 126.” Nodding his thanks, Jason left the nurse to stare after him as he walked towards the room that was on the right side of a hallway.
Quietly entering, Jason was almost surprised to see that Tommy was already up and eyeing him with annoyance. “Ok, after this I am having nothing else to do with you,” Tommy said, taking a moment to rub his cheek softly. As it began to sting, he sighed and gave up on making the pain go away.
Jason chuckled. “Why are you not going to have anything to do with me this time? Do I end up getting you in the hospital too much?”
“Actually, that is the reason I was going to give,” Tommy grumbled before looking out his window. Sighing, he closed his eyes before murmuring, “My hip hurts.”
“You bruised it,” Jason told him, as if he didn’t already know this. “The doctor should be in to give you some narcotics in a bit.”
Tommy groaned. “Not more anesthetics! Damn it, didn’t I have enough of that stuff on Aquitar!?”
Jason rubbed his temple before whispering, “Will you keep your voice down? They can hear us in the hallway. Oh, and great job bringing the FBI here. You know they’re going to be questioning you about what happened on Aquitar and what they can do to help.”
“That’s easy, though,” Tommy observed. “There is nothing they can do. What happened on Aquitar is over.”
“You know FBI agents, though. They never take no for an answer,” Jason said, his eyes sparkling curiously.
Noticing this, Tommy sighed and squinted at him before muttering, “You want to know what happened, don’t you?” At Jason’s nod, Tommy mumbled, “It was Uriel. She was trying to bring me back to some planet with her so that we could be together, but before we could reach this place, Rashell came along and sent her along with two other beings that I couldn’t really see back to some planet. Then, he beat me up for awhile, and said that the only reason he wasn’t going to kill me was because Zedd and Rita didn’t want him to.”
Jason frowned. “You know what? Jaime thinks that he has some kind of mental link with Uriel. He knew that you were almost taken by her, and that you weren’t still with her last night.”
Tommy took a moment to think about this before hurriedly imploring, “Do you think he knows about Uriel and me? Maybe he’s seen all the things that I have...I mean, ALL the things that I have.” He raised his eyebrows to get his point across.
“Let’s hope not,” Jason said with a shiver. (Seeing ALL of Uriel is not something I ever want the pleasure...or torture...of seeing) “What are you going to do about it if he does know?”
“I’ll tell you what I’m going to do,” Tommy said, the strength of his voice wavering. “I’m going to tell Kat everything.” At Jason’s disbelieving expression, Tommy nodded. “I’m serious. You know and Jaime knows, and now Rashell knows. If Uriel’s friends and husband know, and my friends know, then my girlfriend should know so that she can choose if she wants to stay with me or not.” Wincing as pain shot through his hip, he groaned. “Do you think she’ll dump me?”
Jason shrugged. “I’m not sure, but what would you do if she did?”
At this, Tommy laughed. “Kill myself.” As Jason eyed him with concern, Tommy grinned faintly. “It was a joke, Bro. Lighten up.”
“Get a sense of humor,” Jason muttered, “because I’ve seen you suicidal before, and I don’t really take that as a joke.” Deciding to get on a different topic of conversation, Jason said, “I got a chance to look over your records to see who I needed to call and tell that you were in the hospital. Your parents were on there, but they’re in LA so I couldn’t, your sister...but it isn’t like she doesn’t know you’re here, and Kat. I know my name used to be on your list, but you haven’t put it back on since I was gone. In fact, you have another one in my place...”
“Don’t get bent out of shape about that one,” Tommy said becoming solemn again. “Once I get around to it, I’ll change the records to include you.”
Jason sighed. “It wasn’t that that bothered me, but the person you had on there did.”
Tommy groaned at this. “He’s changed, Jason.”
“You had Jeffrey Fowler down. Jeff...as in the weasel, pervert, asshole Jeff Fowler that used to go to school with us and only was part of the popular crowd because he had a big mouth!”
“I don’t even know if he’s alive or not, Jason,” Tommy mumbled, his voice low with growing anger, “so don’t go bashing a ghost. I didn’t see him when Angel Grove was destroyed with the group in the caves. He might be dead.”
Jason shrugged, his face innocent. “Listen, maybe I don’t know him like you do, but I’ve had my share of bad experiences with Jeff Fowler, and I just couldn’t believe that you two had become such good friends since I left. I mean, I never saw him when I came back from the Peace Conference. In fact, I haven’t seen him at all since I left.”
(He just doesn’t understand. The good in Jeff outweighs the bad.) “Maybe if you really got to know him you would feel differently. I know all you see is the exterior joking around and flirting part of him, but he’s really just another tortured soul inside.”
“I didn’t mean to offend you,” Jason insisted, “it’s just that...I know what Jeff has done to people, and I don’t want him hurting you or any of the others.”
Staring at him for a moment, Tommy finally asked, “Did you get a hold of him? Is he alive?”
Jason sighed. “I haven’t gotten a chance to talk with the supervisor at the shelter to see if he’s staying here, but if he is then I’ll find out.” Casting him a worried glance, Jason lowered his eyes. “Just take care of yourself, Bro.”
“I’m a big boy, Jason,” Tommy muttered, “and I can take care of myself without you watching over me all the time.” At this, Jason smirked. “Really. Well, maybe I’m wrong, but when I turned my back on you, you ended up being sliced in the abdomen by some monster, and then I wasn’t with you when you teleported, and you’re here, not to mention getting together with Uriel!” Once he had said the words, he quickly regretted them. (Shit, what have I done!?)
His eyes cold, Tommy glared at him. “Get out,” he whispered fiercely. “I don’t need you or anyone else telling me what a screw up I am, Jason.”
“Tommy, I’m sorry, I--”
“I told you to get the hell out!” Tommy shouted, startling the Red Ranger by the power of his voice. Slowly, Jason did as he asked, not knowing why he had said what he had. Tommy watched him angrily before glancing out of his window. Closing his eyes, he buried his face in his hands. “God, I am such an asshole. Jason was right when he called me that on Aquitar, and he’s right now.”
Mulder looked out at the rubble of what had once been Angel Grove before turning around and gazing at the Angel Grove Hospital that was standing perfectly right in front of him. He sighed. “Good thing the hospital just happened to be right outside of the city.” Hearing his cell phone ring, he turned away from the sun that was beating down on his head before pulling the small device out of his coat pocket. Pushing the button that turned it on, he put it up to his ear. “Mulder.”
“Mulder, where the hell are you!?” A gruff voice yelled from the other end of the line.
Recognizing the voice right away, Mulder shuddered. “I’m, um, using some of my vacation time, Sir. Sorry I forgot to fill out my policy. This was kinda last minute.”
Assistant Director Walter Skinner frowned. “You never take vacation time, Mulder. I want to know where the hell you are and why Agent Scully isn’t here, either.”
“Um, she’s on vacation with me, Sir,” Mulder said weakly. “We should be back at work in a few days.”
“What about Krycek?” Skinner asked, already not liking this situation. Fox Mulder did not go on vacation unless he was investigating something he wasn’t supposed to be. Plus, if both Scully and Krycek were with him then something must be going down...not to mention that Skinner hated Krycek more than he hated the black-lunged SOB that insisted on badgering him for information all the time. “Is he with you?”
Mulder reluctantly nodded as if the AD could see him. “Yes, Sir.”
Skinner sighed before trying to control his temper. “You owe me some answers, Agent Mulder. What are you investigating and why? Our friend hasn’t asked questions yet, but I have a feeling that he’s becoming suspicious about your whereabouts.”
“Of course he is, because he wants Krycek dead,” Mulder countered, “and that’s why I can’t tell you where we are. He could be listening in on this conversation.”
“Mulder, I’ve found no indication of--”
Mulder frowned. “Why do you need a reason to believe it!? He’s always tapping phone lines and sneaking around where he doesn’t belong! For all I know, he could be in your office right now listening to this conversation!”
Skinner grunted, his face turning red with anger as he clutched his office phone. “I’m on your side, Mulder, but I’m also your supervisory agent, and it is my job to keep track of all the officers under me, and that includes you and Agent Scully.”
“We’ll be back in Washington in a few days,” Mulder told him curtly, and before Skinner could say anything more, Mulder shut off his cell phone. Entering Angel Grove Hospital, he strolled over to the Information Desk. “Tommy Oliver.”
The brown-haired nurse smiled at him before looking down at a clipboard in front of her. “I’m sorry, Sir, but he’s being administered his meds right now. Could you come back in a few hours?”
“I’ll wait,” Mulder told her. “Tell his doctor that I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder with the FBI.” Whipping out his badge, he flashed it for her so that she could see that he was authentic and not just some G-man wannabe.
Apparently caught off guard by this, the nurse’s frown faded. “T-the FBI? Did something happen to Mr. Oliver that I’m not aware of? Is he some kind of suspect!?”
Mulder chuckled. “No, Miss. Tommy hasn’t done anything to get the FBI involved, but after some other attacks on teenagers on the West Coast, we’re making sure that this is just a random attack and not anything more serious.” (In fact, he’s more the opposite of a suspect. He’s one of the ones that’s been shutting down aliens for so long...) Mulder added mentally. Aliens. He couldn’t believe that at one time he had actually doubted their existence.
“Well, Agent Mulder, I’ll let the doctor know you’re here,” the nurse said, the smile returning to her face. “The effects of the pain medication should take about an hour to wear off, but you’ll be admitted after that.” Mulder nodded his thanks and walked over to one of the couches by a hall which Mulder supposed led to the first of the hospital rooms, not even noticing the nurse’s appraising gaze.
Sitting down on a couch, he turned around as a man questioned, “You seeing Tommy Oliver, too?”
“Who wants to know?” Mulder asked, slightly wary of the stout individual.
He smiled. “The question, I think, should be why an FBI agent is really going to Tommy Oliver’s room.” Frowning suddenly, he murmured, “If I find out that you’re the one who did this to him and you’re just trying to finish the job--”
“Yeah, finish the job,” the slim dark-haired man next to him said before laughing. As his friend turned to him, the man silenced and slumped back against his chair.
Mulder rolled his eyes before pulling out his badge as he had before and showing it to the two men. They scrutinized it before nodding. “So you’re the real deal,” the large man acknowledged. “We have a radio, and I’ve been listening to it. There have been other attacks on teenagers, but they’ve all been in Oregon. What does that have to do with us? You know that Tommy wasn’t one of those teens, don’t you?”
“I’m on vacation,” Mulder told them. Hey, it was the same thing he had told Skinner, “and after hearing about Tommy’s little adventure in the woods I thought I would come check it out.”
“On vacation?” The slim man smirked. “Why would anyone be on vacation here in Angel Grove? Bulk, this guy isn’t legit.”
The large man nodded before glaring at Mulder. “Don’t mess with us, pal.” Mulder glanced up at the ceiling and licked his lips in boredom before deciding to let the stout man indulge himself. “Before Angel Grove was attacked, Skull and I were detectives, and we know when a person is lying.”
“Skull?” Mulder sighed. “That’s a pretty strange name for a detective.”
“Hey, Man, Skull has been my nickname since I started in grade school. My full name is Eugene Skullovitch, and this is Farcus Bulkmier, but we all call him Bulk,” Skull explained, beginning to get annoyed with the guy.
Mulder smiled falsely. “Really? Well, if you guys are such great detectives then why are you taking time out of your busy schedule to visit some guy in a hospital.”
Bulk frowned. “Show some respect. Our boss died in the attack of Angel Grove as did our mothers and fathers. All we have left is each other since most of our friends are either dead or dying in a hospital in LA. We didn’t know if anyone we had known in high school was still alive, and we really began to look at our lives and see what we had done wrong.”
“Bulkie and I were hanging out here yesterday just sitting and thinking when we saw Jason Scott and Adam Park bringing Tommy up to the hospital,” Skull explained. “We wanted to see him today because, well, this is the first step towards rebirth.”
Mulder nodded, suddenly feeling bad about how he had spoken earlier. It seemed to slip his mind that not everyone had been lucky in the attack of Angel Grove and Stone Canyon. Many had lost their families and others had lost their friends. To see that these two only had themselves in the world was horrifying. “I’m sorry.”
“Have you been in to see him?” Bulk asked suddenly. “No matter who you are, the badge is authentic. Are Tommy’s injuries serious?”
“I haven’t seen him, but the nurses are optimistic, and I did speak to Jason Scott and Adam Park last night. They said that the injuries were minor...cuts on the cheek and abdomen along with some bruising on the chest and hip as well as a sprained ankle. He should be nearly recovered in a week,” Mulder responded. Bulk and Skull nodded thankfully at this. It was amazing to the three how one person could bring a group together.
Near the shelter, Jason was thinking something of this nature as well. He had never liked Jeff Fowler and he knew, despite what Tommy said, that he never would. Jeff was an immature, self-adoring idiot. It was that simple. Then again, he supposed that it served him right after saying those things to Tommy.
(That just came out of nowhere!) Jason thought to himself as he stuck his hands in his pockets. (I know that Tommy hates feeling weak, and this thing with Uriel has been killing him! Damn it, I’m such a moron!) Spotting a sweaty forty-something year old man standing atop a pile of rubble, Jason walked over to him and said, “I need to see Jeff Fowler.” Handing him a sheet of paper that Tommy’s doctor had given him, he added, “A friend of his is in the hospital.”
The man scrutinized it for a moment before turning back towards a young dark-skinned woman who had been watching him intently. “Go find Fowler and bring him up here. I think he’s helping to dispose of the remaining bodies.” Jason shuddered. He remembered when Rocky had that job...right after Cassandra had been killed by his double...
Hearing someone call out his name, Jason turned around to see Rocky running towards him. The Blue Ranger smiled. “Hey, Jason. Are you going to come do your share of the work for once?”
“I’m here for Jeff Fowler,” Jason told him. “Tommy has his name on his hospital papers instead of me, and since his parents aren’t around, then automatically they have to inform Jeff.”
“Jeff Fowler,” Rocky muttered with a grin, ignoring the joke. “I didn’t know that bastard was still living. Still, he always had his resources.”
Jason sighed before glancing at Rocky. “How did those two get so close? When I left for the Peace Conference I knew they were kinda friends, but from the way Tommy talked about him this morning and defended him--”
Rocky nodded in understanding. “You think that Jeff replaced you as Tommy’s best friend while you were gone.” At Jason’s nod, Rocky sighed. “We’re all best friends, Jason, but Jeff has still always been close to Tommy...well, as close as a non-ranger can get. Yeah, they were best friends. I know you don’t like that idea, Jason, but Jeff did change. He’s a lot more sensitive towards other people.”
“He’ll never change,” Jason mumbled. “I know him too well.” At that point, Jason’s words were put to the test as a strong voice called, “Who do we have here? Jason Scott back from that...global thing! I didn’t know you came home! Actually, I did since I saw you in the hospital, but still!”
Jason glanced up at Jeff who was walking towards him in a red muscle shirt and blue baggy shorts. His hair, though dyed blond at one point, was now dark brown again, and his eyes were a deep hazel. Jason was almost surprised to see that Jeff had become more muscular since the last time they had spoken, and that thought irked him. (Tommy probably practiced with him when I wasn’t around.) “Glad to see that you still remember me, Jeff.”
Rocky swallowed hard before taking a few steps back, already sensing that this wasn’t going to be pretty. “Um, I’m need to go do some work, Jason, but I’ll come see you later, huh?”
“Whatever,” Jason muttered before walking closer to Jeff and grabbing his extended hand. The two shook before regarding each other coolly. “Despite what you may think, I’m not here for myself.”
Jeff sighed. “Still trying to hurt my feelings by not wanting to hang with me, Jason? No problem. That’s all cool, but don’t try and turn Rocky against me.”
Jason growled. “As I said, I didn’t come for me. Tommy’s in Angel Grove Hospital. He was attacked last night.”
“What!?” Jeff’s face fell, and he just stared at Jason in shock for a few moments. “Tommy’s...he’s alive?”
“He survived the attack, if that’s what you mean, and he’s still alive now,” Jason told him, not sure what the question had meant. “You’re on his list of people to contact, so he told me to come find out if you had survived the destruction of Angel Grove, which you obviously did. I was kinda surprised when I saw your name on there.”
Jeff groaned. “Will you give it a rest, Jason!? Do you know what I was just doing!? I was picking up some dead bodies that used to be living Angel Grove dwellers...I think one of them was an old friend of mine, even. My father died, and even before all that I changed. Believe me, I’m not who you think I am. Why are you so surprised that Tommy would have my name on there?”
“Do you have a few hours?” Jason grumbled, “I know you too well. You can’t change, and I know that you haven’t. What I need to figure out now is what you could be using Tommy for--”
“I said to give it a rest!” Jeff hollered. Calming himself, he sighed. “You think I’m thrilled to see you, Jason? Yeah, right, the great American Golden Boy...you were just the best person to be friends with sophomore year.”
Jason sighed. “Well, maybe if you hadn’t been so obsessed with being popular and having your head stuck in some girl’s cleavage--”
Jeff shook his head. “That’s cold, Jason, and you know it. I tried talking to you in class, and I even tried asking you for some pointers in martial arts, but what did you say? No. You avoided me, so I avoided you--”
“I was supposed to show you some martial arts moves so that you could show them off to people like Cindy Wheeler and Jennifer Teller!? Why should I have!?”
“Don’t you have any respect for the dead!?” Jeff yelled at him. Giving Jason a few moments to ponder this, Jeff nodded. “That’s right, Jason. They’re both dead, along with Lauren Parker, Danny Solomon, Mark Redman, and literally everyone I hung out with in high school. I thought that Tommy was dead. Can’t you see that I have no one except for my mother and maybe a few friends? There’s no point in arguing over who was popular and why I hung out with these people instead of you because you know what? The people you might have thought were as stuck up as I was as a sophomore are dead. Yeah, Jason. Did you hear that? I admit to being stuck up back then. Damn it, I was an asshole, but you don’t have to rub my face!”
“I’m not here to argue with you,” Jason murmured. “The only reason I’m here is to tell you that you’re supposed to go to the hospital and hang out with Tommy. End of story.” Turning around, he began to walk back towards the shelter.
Jeff stared after him incredulously. “You’re jealous of me! I can’t believe it! You’re jealous of me because I hung out with Tommy when you were away, and you think that he’s better friends with me than he is with you!”
“I don’t have to worry about that, Jeff, because I know that he isn’t.” (Do I? Really?) Putting his thoughts on hold, Jason continued to walk towards the shelter despite his conflicting emotions.
Tommy closed his eyes after conversing with Mulder about the importance of trying not to get stabbed when you’re fighting. (Bastard) he thought to himself. (What would an FBI agent know about being a ranger?) Sighing, he turned away from the door to his room and did his best to fall asleep as he had done before.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t as he remembered the argument with Jason that he had just had. (I’m such an asshole.) Tommy wondered why Jason had just burst out like that. He had told the Red Ranger how sensitive he was about those topics, and Jason had even convinced him on Aquitar to let it all out so that he could start over when he got back to Earth.
Hearing the door open, he sighed. “If that’s Jason, then I agree with you. I am an asshole.”
“Why did he call you that?” A familiar voice asked.
Looking up at the two guys that had just entered, Tommy smiled faintly before gazing up at the ceiling. “Good God. Now I’ve seen everything. I wouldn’t have expected you guys to come and make fun of me after all this time.”
Bulk lowered his eyes before whispering, “We didn’t know if you were alive, and we came to say that we’re glad you are.”
Skull nodded as he put a hand nervously through his black hair. “Yeah, we’re glad you are.”
“I’m flattered,” Tommy said softly, not really sure if he meant it or not. First off, he had never really liked the two. Yes, they had changed a lot since he had first met them sophomore year, but they had always given him so many problems, both as a ranger and as himself. Still, after joining the police academy and then a detective energy, he had to give them credit for turning their lives around. He supposed that he was flattered by the gesture. “Well, I guess it would be kinda hard to ask you guys what you’ve been up to lately.” Rubbing his cheek, he winced before forcing his hand to leave it alone.
“I don’t know,” Skull muttered. “This feels strange, but it’s only because you look so...weak...it’s different.”
(Not for me. At least, not lately.) “Well, it’s strange for me because you guys look so well-kept.”
They all laughed at this, and Skull pulled up a chair by Tommy’s bed before saying, “A lot of people died, and we didn’t know what had happened to you guys.”
Following what his best buddy had done, Bulk sighed. “Well, you’re the one in the hospital. How are you feeling?” (This is odd, Bulk. You’re sitting in a hospital room talking to Tommy Oliver...and he’s acting as if you never did anything wrong to him!)
“I’m all right. A little tired maybe, but that’s just the meds talking.” Chuckling to himself, he added, “You get used to it after awhile.”
“Nothing serious, though, right?” Skull questioned uneasily. He didn’t know how exactly he would react if Tommy said that there was. Skull knew that Tommy didn’t really like him. He never had, especially since Skull had always been hitting on Kimberly. Yet, even though this seemed really different, it felt natural to talk to him. (I guess all three of us have changed.)
(Wait until I tell Kat that I spent my day talking to Bulk and Skull.) “They’re a little worried about the bruised hip, but it’s nothing life-threatening.”
Bulk swallowed. “If there is something wrong with your hip, what would that mean?” (Please say ‘nothing’...) This whole situation was strange. To him, Tommy Oliver used to be some geek who was nearly invincible when it came to fighting. Now, he was lying in a hospital bed defenseless, and yet he seemed even stronger to Bulk than he had seemed in high school.
Tommy sighed. He didn’t like the answer to that question more than he didn’t like hospitals in general. “It could mean that I won’t be able to do very much martial arts anymore, and I won’t be able to walk as much as I would normally, but it isn’t serious enough to put me into a wheelchair.” (There. I said it. Too bad Jason wasn’t around.) (If he wants to blame you for everything like that, fine. What’s so bad about telling the truth?) Suddenly not feeling well, Bulk stood and left the room hurriedly.
Skull watched him go before turning back to Tommy with the biggest smile he could make on his face. “He’s, you know, a little sensitive about injury. Bulk’s probably going to wash off or something like that.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know--” Tommy began. (Great. First this thing with Jason and now you got Bulk upset.)
“Don’t worry about it,” Skull said, actually surprised by what he had just heard. (Tommy Oliver just offered an apology...to you! So this is the guilt thing I’ve always heard about with him.) “It happens all the time, and especially since our folks died in the attack...” His voice trailed off.
(Great, Tommy. You’ve just screwed up everyone’s life, haven’t you?) He frowned as that thought came into his head. All of a sudden, his little mind voice sounded a lot like Jason yelling at him. “That’s horrible! I’m so sorry!”
Skull grinned. “Don’t be. We’re fine...maybe, after all these months, it still hasn’t sank in. Who knows, it may never, but what’s done is done.” The two spoke like that for a few more minutes until Skull looked at the door again. “Bulk has been gone for awhile.”
“I could understand him not wanting to see me,” Tommy acknowledged. “Jason left me this morning, too. I got him a little upset.”
“Why did he call you an asshole?” Skull questioned, surprised by how close he felt to the guy that had been his biggest enemy when he had been dating Kim. “You know I won’t say anything...not even to Bulk.”
Tommy sighed. “It was a while ago, but today he just started bringing up all of these things that I had been trying to forget lately. Literally, he blamed my injuries on myself. I know I can’t have prevented this, but it still hurts to know that your best friend thinks you’re an idiot for ending up here. Maybe I am and I just don’t want to give up on myself. It’s the same thing like with your parents. It hasn’t sank in yet.”
“This isn’t your fault,” Skull commented. “Jason was probably just upset about seeing you this way, and he was thinking irrationally. You were attacked.”
“I’m a fighter,” Tommy remarked with a laugh. “You would think that I could be able to ward off an attack.”
Skull rubbed the bridge of his nose before saying, “Our city was destroyed, the workers are picking up more dead bodies...there’s a lot of emotional stress inside of all of us. That alone is enough to dull your senses. Besides, it was dark, and you were in the forest. I’ve been there at night, and you can’t see a thing. Plus, there are plenty of places that a guy can hide. He probably just popped up out of nowhere, didn’t he?”
Tommy nodded slowly. “Yeah.” For a moment, he wished that the lie he was weaving was true because he had a feeling that Skull’s words would have uplifted his spirits. In fact, they still did, and he was amazed by the strength of the man that he had thought was the stupidest person in the world when they were both in AGHS. (Ok, who is this guy and what has he done with the real Eugene Skullovitch?) “Thanks.”
(My God! I’m bonding with Tommy Oliver!) “I’m sure the next time that Jason comes in here you guys will work this out. Maybe his wording was a little off, or maybe he just had some frustrations that he let out on you.”
At that moment, the door opened and Jeff entered the room with a serious look on his face. Spotting Skull immediately, he growled. “Move it, Geek.”
“God, Jeff, you’re alive,” Tommy breathed thankfully. His eyes narrowing, he muttered, “Skull stays.” Hearing him, Skull raised his head. (Tommy Oliver just spoke up for me to Jeff Fowler. Will wonders never cease!?)
Caught off guard, Jeff moved to the other side of the room where Bulk had been sitting before grabbing Tommy’s hand and hugging him. “Damn it, why were you hiding from me? I looked all over.”
“I’ve been with the others,” Tommy told him. (Well, it’s true...just not on this planet...) “I thought you were dead. Actually, I talked with Jason about that earlier today.”
Jeff groaned. “What is with him? Did he tell you why he sees me as such an ignoramus? What have I ever done?”
Tommy sighed. “Jeff, I’m have my own problems with Jason right now, and I don’t want to get between you two. Let’s just say that he still sees you as the person you were sophomore year.”
“Damn it,” Jeff breathed. “Why can’t he let the past go? After all this has happened, I’ve had no choice but to move on, and even before that...you changed me. Why can’t Jason change?”
“When Jason gets a first impression of people, it sticks,” Tommy told him honestly. “Give him time. He’s my best friend, and so are you. Hopefully you guys will be able to get along for my sake, because I don’t want to be a friend of opposing sides.” (Yeah, my best friend who calls me an asshole and dredges up the past. Some best friend.) (Jason only said it because it’s the truth. Maybe he said it for my own good or something like that so I would know how much of an idiot I’ve been lately.) Turning towards Skull who was beginning to stand, he frowned. “Where are you going?”
(Tommy Oliver cares where I’m going!?) “Um, I’m just going to find Bulk. I’m getting a little worried about him.”
Tommy nodded. “Ok. I’m glad you guys are doing all right with all of the things that you’re dealing with, and tell Bulk that once I’m out of here that we’re definitely going to have to try and get a shift together in Angel Grove.” (Good Lord, Tommy, what did you just do!? Go a shift with Bulk and Skull!? Are you crazy!?) (Jeff can change and so can Bulk and Skull. I want to give them a chance.)
Skull smiled weakly, shocked by the offer. “That would be great.” (That is, if the bruised hip isn’t serious and you can work after you get out of here.) “Well, I guess I’ll see you around.”
After he had left, Jeff chuckled. “Well, I guess other people have been changing, too. When did you start hanging out with Bulk and Skull?”
“I don’t,” Tommy replied honestly. “They came to see me on their own to make sure that I was all right. It was weird, Jeff. They’ve really changed. In fact, Skull’s actually developed a personality!”
“See? You can accept change,” Jeff observed, somewhat annoyed. “Why can’t Jason? I would think that accepting Bulk and Skull would be more difficult than accepting me!”
Tommy shrugged and leaned towards him. “Jason is a friend of mine, and you know that, but don’t play up to him, all right? If he doesn’t want to hang out with you, then he won’t...no matter how hard you try to make him like you. Save your strength, Man.”
Jeff sighed. “I guess you’re right. It’s just that, well, I kinda want him to like me. God, I was so jealous of him in high school.”
“We’re still in high school,” Tommy reminded him.
“Not officially,” Jeff muttered. “You know...calling him the American Golden Boy...making fun of all of his karate trophies...you have no idea how much I wanted to be him. Jason had everything back then, and he still seems to now.”
Tommy snickered faintly at this before saying, “I don’t think he’ll say the same thing for you, but I could tell you felt that way about him. Come on, Jeff. I know you too well now, and I knew you too well then.”
“The only thing we need to figure out is a way to convince him of the reason that I used to make fun of him,” Jeff commented. Tommy shrugged and the two set to work thinking of a solution.
In the Power Chamber, Zordon watched, irked, as Agent Scully and Alex Krycek poked around the room looking at all of its sophisticated technology. (That’s why I never picked an officer of the law to be a ranger.) Alpha, who was watching as Krycek reached a hand out to touch a console, slapped it away. “Keep your hands off of that!” Seeing that one sleeve of Krycek’s leather jacket was empty, Alpha took a step back. “Um, I mean hand.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Krycek told him. “The arm thing doesn’t bother me anymore.” (Well, it does, but I don’t let on about it. Damn it, my arm hurts. Too bad I didn’t bring any aspirin.)
As if reading his thoughts, Scully opened her purse and pulled a bottle of medication out before throwing it to him. At his blush, she sighed. “When we get back to DC, we’re getting your arm checked out.”
Krycek shook his head. “I’m fine.” (I hate hospitals...REALLY hate hospitals...a lot...)
“Where have I heard that one before?” Alpha muttered earning a small chuckle from Zordon.
Smirking, Krycek downed two pills dry before throwing the bottle back at Scully. Looking up at Zordon, he stared at the large heard for a moment before questioning, “Does it feel, I don’t know, weird to be in that thing?” Zordon gazed at him, puzzled. “I mean, um, do things look different? Can you feel your body, or are you just a floating head in a time warp? Like, did you lose the rest of your body before it could get in the time warp and that’s the reason you only have a head?”
“Alex!” Scully exclaimed, shocked by his bluntness. (If I were a giant head, I wouldn’t really want to talk about how I got that way.) Krycek shrugged.
“THE TIME WARP KEEPS ME FROM AGING,” Zordon explained, startled somewhat by the questions. No one had ever asked him these things before; not even the rangers. “MY FULL BODY IS INTACT WITHIN THIS MECHANISM, BUT THE ONLY THING YOU SEE PROJECTED IS MY HEAD. AS FAR AS SEEING GOES, I CAN SEE THE SAME AS ANY HUMAN EXCEPT THAT I CANNOT MOVE AROUND.”
Krycek nodded, not fully understanding but pretending that he did. “Do you ever feel confined? You see the rangers out there battling everyday. Do you ever just want to join them if they’re losing and kick some monster ass?”
Zordon watched him, not sure how to respond to the question, or even if he should. He had become used to living in the time warp, and all these questions were bringing back painful memories. “IF I LEFT THIS TIMEWARP, I WOULD DIE IN A MATTER OF DAYS. CONFINED OR NOT, THIS IS MY LIFE, AND I AM THANKFUL TO HAVE SURVIVED FOR SO LONG. BESDIES, THE RANGERS ARE FULLY CAPABLE TO DEAL WITH THEIR FOES, AND I NEVER FEEL ANY NEED TO JOIN THEM IN BATTLE BECAUSE I KNOW THAT THEY ALWAYS HAVE THE UPPER HAND.” (Yeah, right. Even in your old age, you’re a good liar, Zordon.) Krycek merely smiled and continued to look around the Power Chamber as if his questions hadn’t even fazed the Rangers’ Mentor.
Meanwhile, Trini tied her hair up with a yellow band before laughing as her boyfriend stubbed his toe on a shipping crate. “Damn it!” Jason yelled as he rubbed his foot with annoyance. “Stupid crate! They just had to put the damn thing right in front of my foot!”
Smiling, Trini walked over to him and put her arms around his shoulders. “Poor thing. Why don’t you tell me what’s bothering you, Jason? You’ll feel better.”
Jason wiped the sweat from his brow before kissing one of her hands. “Trini, I had a fight with Tommy today...in the hospital. That’s pathetic, isn’t it? My best friend is in the hospital and he needs support because of his injuries, and what do I do? Yell at him. Plus, then I find out that he replaced my name on his hospital contact papers with Jeff Fowler’s--”
“Jeff Fowler!?” Trini exclaimed, her smile disappearing. “Oh my God! When did those two become such good friends!?”
“That’s what I’d like to know,” Jason told her. “Rocky and Tommy have both said that Jeff has changed, but I’m not sure if I can believe it. Today he seemed just as cocky as ever. I mean, when did Jeff ever care about anyone? Do you remember how he used to taunt me and harass Billy!? Jeff is just a big shot perverted asshole!”
Her voice becoming gentler than it had been before, Trini said, “If Rocky and Tommy have seen a difference in Jeff then he might have changed. Look, Jason, you know I’m not part of the Jeff Fowler fan club, but we’ve been away for about two years. A lot can happen in that amount of time.” Jason sighed and nodded although he still wasn’t convinced.
At that moment, Kat had just sat down by Tommy’s hospital bed and was glancing at his sleeping form with both sadness and joy. He looked so peaceful...so carefree...it was a sight that she hadn’t seen in awhile, and yet it was ironic that in a hospital of all places he would find this peace. Reaching a hand out to him, she touched his palm before laying her head on top of it.
Tommy began to stir and, opening his eyes, he smiled. “Hey. It must have been boring just watching me lie here like a log.”
“Not at all,” Kat said, “especially since I’m so glad that you’re alive. We were worried that Uriel was going to try and put you under her spell again.”
At her name, Tommy gazed at her in horror. “You know that it was Uriel!? How did you find out...who told you...what else do you--”
“Calm down. Jaime was able to telepathically see that Uriel was the one who took you, but that she hadn’t taken you all the way back to Hirpog which is Aquitar’s neighboring planet,” Kat explained. Kissing his hand, she grinned. “I’m so glad you’re back.”
(Don’t do this to me, Kat. She’s so beautiful and innocent...and I’m so horrifying and evil...how could she ever stand me?) “You shouldn’t care about me, Kat. Maybe it would have been best if Rashell had f-finished the job.”
Hearing the stutter in his speech, Kat frowned with concern. “What are you talking about, Tommy? I’ve forgiven you for what happened between you and Delphine on Aquitar. Besides, no one deserves death. Don’t ever think that.”
“I don’t want to lose you, Kat,” Tommy said as he felt tears begin to fill his eyes. (Not now, Tommy. You have to get through this.) “but I know that I will after I say to you what I have to say. What I want you to know is that I love you, I always have, and I always will.”
“Tommy, I love you, and you’ll never lose me--”
Tommy shook his head and raised his hand, motioning for her to listen to him. “Don’t make promises that you won’t be able to keep, Katherine.” Hearing him use her full name, Kat swallowed hard, not knowing exactly what to expect. “I’ve told you from the beginning of our relationship that I was a virgin, and I was...until a little while ago.”
Kat’s eyes widened. “Tommy--”
“Let me finish,” Tommy pleaded. Seeing her nod, he sighed. “It isn’t what you think. When I was under Uriel’s control she forced me to have sex with her many times. I found out about this when she came to me during the fight when you guys freed Jaime from his spell. Kat, I think he knows about this...but I kissed her even when I was out of the spell, and now I think I might feel something for her. Don’t get me wrong, you’re the only woman for me...or you were since you’re going to dump me now anyway, but knowing that I lost my virginity to her has just made my whole life hell for awhile. That’s why I haven’t seemed as close to you as normal.”
(No, Tommy. Please say I’m dreaming.) Kat couldn’t believe what she had just heard. Tommy wasn’t a virgin. He had sex with Uriel, and now he had feelings for her. After a few minutes, she softly questioned, “Who else knows about this besides us and Jaime?”
Tommy frowned. “Jason knows. I didn’t mean for him to find out, but when he came to see me on Aquitar after...that thing with Delphine...I ended up having to tell him about it. There was no way I could keep it from him.”
“So you kept it from me instead,” Kat grumbled. As Tommy lowered his eyes, she shook her head and put a finger on his chin, forcing him to look at her. “I can’t believe you waited so long to tell me! Tommy, I thought we had an honest, trusting relationship. I trusted you with my life...with my heart...” She sighed as she recalled the conversation she had with Emily on Aquitar.
“You have every right to be mad at me, Kat,” Tommy told her, and he knew that she did. He didn’t know how he would react to finding out she had lost her virginity to Rashell or Zedd. Tommy shuddered at the thought.
Kat nodded, her glare piercing Tommy’s eyes until he could barely keep his eyes on her. “Oh, I am, but not for the reason that you think. Yes, I’m upset about Uriel, but I know that you love me, and I know that you were under a spell when you had sex with her. That I can accept. I mean, obviously you’re going to have feelings for Uriel. You lost your virginity to her, but that you didn’t tell me for so long and you made me think that everything was perfect between us...Tommy, I’m just not sure if I’ll be able to trust you anymore. Not as a ranger, because you’re my leader and my friend, but as a lover...”
(You’re my leader and MY FRIEND!? Kat, why did I ever hurt you?) “I won’t hurt you again, Kat. Believe me, I want to work through this, and that’s why I’m telling you now instead of never, but you have to understand how scared I was to tell you!”
“You know that you’re going to hurt me again, Tommy,” Kat told him quietly. “There are feelings inside you for Uriel, and I can’t come between those feelings. Whenever she faces us again, there’s going to be trouble between us. I can understand your being afraid to tell me...but you should have known that I wanted nothing but for you to be honest with me. This thing with Uriel wasn’t your fault, and if you would have told me when you first found out about it then maybe we would have been ok now...
“...but how can I leave you?”
Tommy stared at her in wonder. “What?” In his mind, by this point she would have slapped him silly, called him an asshole, and left him alone. Now, Kat was actually considering their relationship? (I never wanted it to be this way, Kat. Never.)
Kat sighed. “We’ve gone too far for me to leave you, Tommy. I’ve given you my heart and my life, and I can’t take them back unless you force me to, which is why I’m going to ask you now...do you want us to break, or do you want to work through this so that we can be together?”
Gazing at her, Tommy let his eyes trace her face which was filled of both compassion and pain, and he could tell, no matter how hard she denied it, that the idea of him having sex with Uriel had touched her deeply. He caressed her cheek and smiled, holding back tears. “I love you, and I want us to get through this together.”
Lord Zedd piloted Serpenterra silently as it neared the Moon of Earth. Glancing at his wife, Rita Repulsa, who was sitting next to him, he sighed. “Do you have any idea what happened between Rashell and Uriel to cause such discord?”
“I wish I did,” Rita responded quietly. The two had been acting so strangely since they had entered Serpenterra. Scorpina had even secretly told her that Rashell had tied Uriel in a chair outside of the main room. Whatever it had been, though, she knew it was bad.
In another part of Serpenterra, Queen Uriel angrily pulled at the chains that kept her planted in her seat outside of the piloting area of the craft. (Damn Rashell!) Crying out as one of the chains cut her hand, she turned away as Rashell entered the room and walked up to her, his eyes lively with amusement. “Maybe next time you will think before you dishonor our marriage.”
“I was forced to marry you, Rashell, but I am not forced to love you,” Uriel spat, her face red with anger.
Rashell snarled and pushed her chair over, watching as she fell painfully to the ground. “So you love a ranger!? You were honored at the time you were chosen by me for a wife, and now you throw that away so that our sworn enemy can sleep with you!”
Uriel sighed. “I didn’t see it at the time as sleeping with Tommy, but with sleeping with someone other than you! Anyone was good enough for me!”
“And now?” When she didn’t answer, Rashell growled and left the room.
Watching him go, Uriel closed her eyes and allowed tears to fall from her eyes as pain shot through her body. As someone walked up to her, she sighed. “Leave me alone.”
Seeing who it was, Uriel frowned and put on the toughest face that she could. “I’m fine, Scorpina.”
Scorpina frowned and kneeled down by her. “You’re tied to a chair with chains and lying on the ground after Rashell pushed you over, and you’re fine?”
Uriel watched her for a few moments before whispering, “I had him, Scorpina, and the look on his face was terrifying. It was like he was afraid, but he knew he was helpless against me.” Suddenly, her stomach began to burn, and she whimpered softly before closing her eyes against the pain.
“He feels for you,” Scorpina told her, almost sure that what she was saying was true, “but he’s afraid to admit his feelings. You are a being of evil, and to love you is like the greatest sin a Power Ranger can commit, and yet he does.” She frowned. “Are you still in pain?”
“My stomach,” Uriel said. “It’s been like this for awhile.”
Nodding, Scorpina suggested, “You should have Finster take a look at you when we get back to the moon...that is, if Rashell will leave you alone.”
Uriel sighed. “He will, because he doesn’t love me, either. I’m merely like an Earth cat or dog is to a human.” That thought disgusted her, and she bit her cheek to control her nausea. (I wonder how Tommy is...)
Meanwhile, Adam and Tanya were sitting quietly by Angel Grove Lake enjoying the peace that the scenery provided. Tanya, however, was not enjoying this serenity. Instead, she continued to glance nervously at Adam and wonder if she should tell him about what Zack had done.
To be honest, she wasn’t sure if she felt violated. Yes, Zack had been way too aggressive and it had put her in a difficult situation, but to say that she felt nothing for him would be horribly wrong. Tanya had felt for him; in fact, she thought that she still did.
“Are you all right?” Adam asked after awhile. His dark eyes were filled with concern because he knew how talkative the Yellow Ranger could be, so if she was being silent then something must be up. “Ever since yesterday you’ve been acting really distant.”
“I’m a little worried about Tommy,” Tanya lied, regretting using her friend as an excuse as soon as she said the words. “Did you hear that if the hip was really damaged that he might not be able to fight as well as he used to?”
Adam sighed. “I didn’t really get to check him over yesterday after he teleported in with those FBI agents, but I doubt that the hip was seriously damaged. Whoever attacked him only had him for a few minutes, because he landed in Washington DC right after we landed in Angel Grove. He couldn’t have been more than twenty minutes behind us in the teleport.” Tanya nodded, making sure to keep her eyes away from Adam’s. He could always tell if she was lying.
Smiling at her, Adam moved behind her and massaged her shoulders. At her pleased moan, he murmured, “Think about it. When was the last time we were truly alone and away from the rangers like this?”
“I don’t know,” Tanya said honestly. It had been awhile. As he wrapped his arms around her, she leaned against him and, closing her eyes, was almost surprised as one thought continued to harass her mind: Zack felt better.
Kim walked past the rubble of Angel Grove which was nearly steaming with heat before beginning to turn towards Angel Grove Lake. She just wanted a place where she could think for a bit about what was going on. First Tommy let her down for Kat, then she started having a crush on Jaime, and now Tommy was injured and she didn’t know what to think. She knew that at some point she was going to have to tell Tommy about what happened in Florida with her abusive boyfriend, but that was just such a frightening idea for her to tell him. How would he react? Would he become guilty or act like the news meant nothing? Kim didn’t particularly like either idea.
Stepping closer to the glimmering water that held the reflection of the sun that was beginning to set, Kim looked around as she saw something skip across the water. She turned around and smiled as she recognized Jaime throwing stones into the water as she had taught him to do when the other rangers were on Aquitar.
Walking over to him, she smoothed down her pink v-neck tank top and blue jean shorts before putting a hand on his shoulder. “You’re looking good with those rocks.”
Jaime looked up at her, his silky brown hair glimmering, before grinning somewhat shyly. “I had a good teacher. What are you doing here, Kimberly?”
(I don’t remember becoming this clumsy with words since the time that I first met Tommy.) “I just came here to think about life. How about you?”
“I suppose that I came to do the same thing,” Jaime told her as he turned back towards the water. “There’s a place kinda like this back on Triphoria. Whenever I wanted to think...usually about my father back then...I’d go to this river right behind the castle, look at my reflection in the water, and talk to myself mentally.” He chuckled self-consciously. “Trey usually caught me, and he used to tease me about being an antisocial person. I don’t know why he always said things like that, especially since when he wanted to think he went to the same place.”
Throwing another stone into the water, he watched it skip twice before sinking under the surface before sighing. “To be honest, I feel guilty about what happened to Tommy. If I weren’t so weak I could have gone to Aquitar with them, and maybe he wouldn’t have been injured on planet like he was.”
“I thought that it wasn’t possible for Triphorians to be on Aquitar for very long because they can’t survive,” Kim observed, confused.
Jaime smiled. “I would have gone anyway, though.”
Kim shrugged. “Yeah, well, I could have fought over there, but Zordon didn’t call me just because I only had my Ninja Powers. Imagine how horrible I feel about that.” (Great. Here I am with a guy that I might like...somewhat...and we’re talking about my old boyfriend.)
“Zordon kept you here for your own good,” Jaime said. As she put her hands on her hips and looked at him smugly, he groaned. “Fine, he kept me here for my own good, too.”
Jaime was about to say more when, suddenly, the two heard a man scream at the top of his lungs. Kim was immediately alert. “What is that? Do you think we should morph?”
“Whatever it is, I think we should see what it is first,” Jaime responded. “Let’s go.” The two nodded towards each other before running back towards Angel Grove. Following the sound, they stopped in front of an alleyway in the ruined city where Rocky and Jackie were standing, trying to hold in laughter. “What’s going on?” Jaime asked, puzzled.
Noticing them for the first time, Jackie turned around and giggled. “You are not going to believe this. It is hilarious.”
Kim glanced into the alleyway and put her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing. Agent Mulder was standing there with his hands up in the air and was murmuring things like ‘Beam me up, Zordon’ and ‘I need to talk to Scully and Krycek’. Calming herself, she walked towards him with the sweetest smile on her face. “Um, could we help you?” Rocky, Jaime, and Jackie walked in doing their bests not to laugh at the whole situation.
“I need to get to your Power Chamber,” Mulder told her as if what he had been doing was completely normal. “How would I do that?”
Rocky smirked. “Well, um, all you needed to do was find one of us and we would have teleported you up there.” At Mulder’s stiff nod, Rocky grabbed one of his arms and teleported them both up to the Power Chamber leaving Kim, Jaime and Jackie to burst out laughing.
Once the teleportation was finished, Mulder spotted Scully and Krycek watching him from different sides of the room. He sighed. “Skinner called me again today. He said that if we’re not back in work by tomorrow that we could be up for possible dismissal from the FBI.”
“You guys take a vacation, decide to take me, and people get worked up about it?” Krycek sighed. “No one trusts me anymore.”
Scully chuckled at this. “Like people have a reason to.” At his cold glare, she just laughed even harder.
“WE’LL BE ABLE TO TELEPORT YOU BACK TO DC TONIGHT,” Zordon offered. The three accepted this gratefully and, deciding to get one more look at the scenery surrounding Angel Grove, had Alpha teleport them out.
At that moment, Jason was straightening his shirt and was about to walk through the door to room 126, knowing that he had to get the apologizing over with. He knew that he had been an idiot to bring up Uriel earlier, and now it was time to eat his words. (I just hope he’ll forgive me without too much of a hassle. After fighting with Jeff today, I don’t feel up to it.)
Jason forced himself to open the door and enter Tommy’s hospital room and, finding the White Ranger looking at him blankly, he sighed. “You know what I’ve come here to say, don’t you?”
Tommy shook his head, his expression neutral. “Not really. What are you going to say?”
(Ok, that was a lie.) Jason regarded him for a moment before explaining, “Well, I’ve been doing some thinking about what I said this morning, and I’m sorry. Believe me, I don’t know why I said it.”
(Lie number two. Damn. Even Tommy can usually last a little longer than two straight lies in a row.) “What do you mean, ‘said what’? I’m talking about what I said to you this morning when I was in here. I don’t know why I said it, but I think it was because we’ve both been--”
Tommy grinned, cutting him off. “Jason, I really don’t care about what you said this morning. I’ve fully accepted it, realized the truth in it and other things that we’ve talked about lately, and I’m ready to move on with my life. Today I told Kat about what I did, and she thinks that we can still make it if we try, so you don’t have to worry about me.” Nodding to make his point, Tommy watched Jason’s face to see what his reaction would be. The Red Ranger stared at him, appalled, before inquiring, “You realized the truth in what?” There was just something in the White Ranger’s face that was a little too sweet for his liking...
“Well, I need you,” Tommy said, surprised that Jason hadn’t understood what he had been trying to say. As Jason began to protest, Tommy continued, “I’m serious. Look at all the stuff that has happened when you weren’t there protecting me. So, I’ve been thinking this whole afternoon, and I’m going to get Zordon to make you the leader of the rangers.”
(Lord, please stop me from strangling him.) “Make me the leader of the rangers?” Jason frowned. “Tommy, you don’t need me. Before I came back as the Gold Ranger you were doing perfectly fine on your own, and the only reason you got hurt on Aquitar was because Rygog could see in the dark and you couldn’t.”
Tommy smiled kindly at him as if they were talking about something a little less important like an upcoming party. “Don’t try to talk me out of this, Jason. I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I want you to be the leader. The responsibility of knowing that everyone is counting on me has really made my whole personality and life go down the drain. I want to try and save what’s left of myself before I’m completely consumed by rangerhood. Besides, after this injury I probably won’t be able to fight as much as before--”
Jason growled at the warmth in his voice. (Why can’t he see that he’s being an idiot? I can see it, and I’m sure that anyone else could see it if they came in here. Damn it, he’s my best friend, but sometimes Tommy is so stupid that I wish I could hit him over the head with a sledgehammer to get his brain working!) “How the hell can you just give up on yourself like this!? The only person in this room that has any reason to apologize is me! This time, your ‘feeling guilty’ crap has gone too far, Tommy, and I swear that the next time this happens I’ll take it up with Zordon. Didn’t you ever stop to realize that all your self-denunciation can tear up the team just as much as internal conflict can?”
“Jason, why don’t you tell me what the hell you want from me,” Tommy muttered, his voice low. “You don’t have to apologize because I know you meant what you said. Don’t pretend that you didn’t, because I know you did. First you say that I should let out whatever is bothering me, and I did. Damn it, I trusted you with my vulnerability and you just turned it on me in the blink of an eye, Jason! What you said today didn’t just hurt...it killed...and now you’re telling me not to be guilty about what I’ve done!? Will you make up your mind on what you want me to do!?”
As Jason opened his mouth to respond, Tommy cut him off, “I’m offering you leadership of the rangers because I know that you deserve it more than me, and you know the same thing.” Motioning to his surroundings, he sighed. “Look at me. I’m sitting in a hospital bed after being beaten by an overgrown buzzard. If you guys needed me, I wouldn’t be able to help because I’m here. Lately, I’ve been having these dreams, and I can just tell that there’s something prophetic about them. If I stay as the leader, then I’m going to lead us into some big hassles.”
“Do you ever dream about anything but being a ranger?” Jason asked, unable to hide the sarcasm from his voice.
Tommy rubbed the bridge of his nose with frustration. “Let me talk, Jason.” At the Red Ranger’s nod, he continued, “I don’t want to hurt you or the others, but I know that I will if I continue as the leader. You need to take my powers...or just take over as leader. I’ll explain to Zordon and the others about what’s going on. You won’t have to worry about that or me anymore, because I’d be under your command.”
Jason stared at him blankly for a moment before walking over to a seat set up next to Tommy’s bed. Sitting down, his eyes twinkled with amusement as he began to chuckle. This quickly turned to hearty laughter, and, seeing Tommy’s confused and hurt look, Jason forced himself to calm down before observing, “You sound like an idiot.”
“I sound like an idiot?” At Jason’s nod, Tommy frowned. “Why? I think I’ve been rather serious in what I had to say.”
“Yeah, you were serious, but that only made you sound like more of an idiot,” Jason told him with a large smile on his face. “I can’t even count the number of times that you’ve offered me leadership, and every time I’ve said no. What are you going to do? Force it on me? I don’t want to be the leader. You’re the leader. I want you to rank higher than me, and I want you to stop blaming yourself for everything like a self-pitying puppy. Yes, that face may work with Kat, but it doesn’t work with me. In fact, it makes you look like more of an idiot.
“Look, what I said today...I’m just frustrated and upset. Yes, I’m upset with you, but it wasn’t just that. After I said what I did today, I had no clue why I said it, and that’s what I’ve been thinking about today. Even after I had my little argument with Jeff, I’ve been asking myself ‘why did I say those things if I didn’t mean them?’ and I think I’ve found an answer.” When Tommy motioned for him to continue, Jason did. “It’s Trini.”
Hearing this, Tommy laughed. “Trini!? How did she get involved in this!?”
“When Trini was a ranger, I could always show off to her because I was the leader, but now that we’re finally going out, I feel like I’m not good enough for her anymore, and so the only way that I can is to pick on your style,” Jason said. As Tommy eyed him dubiously, he sighed. “Well, can you think of a better reason?”
Tommy shook his head. “No, but I don’t think that’s it. Why would you use me to play up to Trini. She loves you for who you are.”
Jason shrugged. “I know that, but...well...” He took a deep breath before lowering his eyes. “Before you came to Angel Grove I didn’t have to worry about impressing anyone. No one did. I was number one when it came to karate, Zack had his hip-hop, Kim had her gymnastics, Billy was Mr. Genius, and Trini had her overall kindness...but then you showed up, and I wasn’t number one anymore.”
“Bro, it wasn’t like I had beaten you or anything during that first match,” Tommy argued, beginning to feel bad. He had never known Jason had felt that way, and though he could tell that Jason was still his best friend, he knew that this jealousy and loss of pride had really hurt him deeply. “We’re still equals when it comes to martial arts no matter if I’m the leader or you are.”
“Are we really?” Jason sighed. “I haven’t really fought you in competition for a few years. If we did, though, I know in my heart that you would win.”
Tommy smirked. “Tell me you’re joking. Jason, I may have improved, but so have you. We all have. Besides, don’t forget Rocky, Zack, and Adam. Oh, and Jaime. He could probably kick my ass without breaking a sweat.”
Jason smiled faintly. “Well, he’s a Triphorian. That wouldn’t be a fair fight.” Slumping back in his chair, he sighed. “What about when Gasket had wiped out your memory? I held out, but you really beat me there.”
“I was evil, and you were trying to stop me without causing me any pain,” Tommy retorted, frowning as the memories returned to him. “Honestly, I admire you for that. If it were me having to fight you, I probably would have tried to physically stop you by rendering you incapable of fighting.” At Jason’s chuckle, Tommy shrugged. “I’m just that kind of person. You’re more controlled than me.”
Sighing, Jason put a hand on his shoulder. “So, you said it yourself. There’s no difference between us no matter who’s the leader, so why would it matter if you lead the team?”
“When you were the leader you didn’t get into the kind of shit that I’m in right now,” Tommy growled. Regarding Jason’s hand for a moment, he sighed and closed his eyes. “Do you think I’ll be able to be a ranger when I get out of here?”
“You’ve told Kat what happened between you and Uriel, we’re working out everything that was still between us, and the others seem to be all right,” Jason said, not exactly sure how he had meant the question. “When you get out of here, you’ll be better off than you have been in awhile.”
Tommy snickered at this. “I meant physically, Bro, but thanks. A part of me needed to hear that.”
Jason thought for a moment before smiling. “I think you’re going to be ok. After all we’ve been through, I can’t see you having to leave the team just because of a bruised hip.” Seeing a doctor enter the room and look at him sternly, Jason shrugged. “I guess that’s my cue to go. Take care of yourself, Man, and I’ll come by tomorrow.”
“Thank you,” Tommy muttered. As Jason left, he gazed with horror at the doctor who lifted up a needle. “Oh, good God...”
Rita, walking into the throne room of the moon palace after having just gotten off Serpenterra a half hour earlier, ignored her husband who was looking at the Earth through his telescope-like eye. “This is so boring,” she muttered. Glancing at Zedd, she found that he hadn’t heard what she said and, walking up to him, she slapped him on the back. “Did you hear what I said!? What the hell are you looking at!?”
“Blasted woman,” Zedd mumbled under his breath. Louder, he responded, “Those FBI agents and one-armed guy that got Rocky put in jail are in Angel Grove and walking alone by the lake. I was thinking of sending some Tengas down.”
“What’s the point of that?” Rita asked, not quite understanding why her husband was so interested in hurting some FBI agents. “Let’s just go after the rangers!”
Zedd sighed. “Ranger this and ranger that. We haven’t won a battle ever since we came to this moon. I say that we attack these people, get them out of the way, and then go on to the hard stuff.”
Rita smiled. “Ah! Wonderful idea, Zeddy! I knew there was a reason that I married you! You have brains...not brawn!”
“Thank you,” Zedd said, not quite understanding the insult. Rita merely cackled and used her magic to summon a group of Tengas to destroy the three humans.
Mulder, Krycek, and Scully, meanwhile, were walking by Angel Grove Lake silently. The sun had set, leaving them in darkness, but this blackness was a welcome change to the light and heat of day. Krycek took in a deep breath of the fresh air. “If the city were rebuilt, I could imagine myself living here. It’s beautiful.”
Scully nodded in agreement. “Yeah. Besides, all the people are so nice, and we’d always have the rangers to count on.”
Instead of saying anything, Mulder watched, wide-eyed, as a group of giant birds popped out from behind a tree and neared them. “Um, guys? We have company.”
“What the hell are those things!?” Krycek exclaimed, shrinking behind Mulder. “They don’t look friendly.” The black birds were repulsive, and yet he watched them in fascination. This was unlike anything he had ever seen before. In fact, it was even weirder than having that black oilian come out of his face, and that had been pretty weird.
“They must be those things that the Rangers always fight,” Scully suggested. “Damn it, then where are they? Shouldn’t they be here protecting us?”
Mulder shrugged. “I think we can take them. We have our guns, and I always knew there was a reason that we had to take that self-defense course in Quantico.”
Scully sighed. “Mulder, we’re no superheros.”
“We can be,” Krycek commented as he pulled out his gun. Shooting at one of the Tengas, he watched as it fell to the ground, dead. “See?”
“Skinner is not going to like this,” Scully opposed, already seeing that her partner was beginning to get into the idea.”
“Come on, Scully,” Mulder said, his eyes bright. “Didn’t you ever want to fight evil?”
Scully shrugged. “When I was a little girl I shot a snake with a gun.”
Krycek smiled. “See? That’s a good start!” Shooting another Tenga, he giggled like a schoolboy. “This is fun! It’s like target practice at Quantico where I got to prove that I had better long-range shooting than Mulder.”
“Do you have to keep rubbing that in my face?” Mulder asked as he kicked a Tenga away from him.
“Well, you keep rubbing my hair,” Krycek reasoned. At Mulder’s nod, he used his good hand to punch a Tenga in the face before trying to outrun the Tengas that were chasing him.
Scully shot at one of the overgrown birds before pushing her fiery red hair out of her face. She kicked at one before punching another. Mulder watched her, suddenly getting flashbacks to a vision he had when he had been in the clutches of an intelligent machine. Imagining her kicking and punching all those nurses brought a smile to his face as he kicked a Tenga that was coming near him.
Krycek kicked another one of the Tengas away from him before rubbing his brow. “Damn it, I knew I should have paid better attention in that Quantico self-defense class.” He shot at another one of the birds before using his prosthetic to knock a Tenga to the ground. “I knew this thing would come in handy one day.” Suddenly, a group of the giant birds jumped on top of him, and though he tried to kick them off, they held him pinned to the ground.
Mulder quickly ran to his aid and was able to fight off a few before being kicked back against a tree. Crying out in pain, he fell to his knees. He heard a few gunshots and saw that Krycek was now trying to shoot the Tengas off of him, but after a few of them fell away, he saw the gun go flying through the air. “Damn it!” As Scully ran to his aid, Mulder sighed. “I’m fine. That just knocked the wind out of me. You have to get Krycek.”
Scully nodded and, pulling a few Tengas off of the younger man, she was surprised as one of the Tengas pick her up and threw her against Mulder. The two winced and quickly scrambled off each other before watching helplessly as Krycek continued to fight off the birds that were attacking him.
In the Power Chamber, Alpha began working on consoles as soon as the emergency alarms began to sound. “Ay yi yi! Zordon, Mulder, Scully, and Krycek are being attacked in the park! They need help!”
(Zedd, you must be incredibly bored.) “CONTACT THE RANGERS AND HAVE THEM TELEPORT TO THE PARK IMMEDIATELY.”
Jaime and Kim were sitting together in front of the shelter and looking up at the sky right when this was happening. Kim pointed upward. “I see the big dipper!”
The Silver Ranger frowned at this. “Big dipper? You sure do have strange names for stars.”
“They’re astrological constellations that have just stuck through the ages,” Kim informed him. She sighed. “Do you see Triphoria?”
Looking around the vastness of the black sky, Jaime shook his head. “Not from here. When we were on that cliff I got a better view.” Glancing down at Kim, he shivered nervously as the Pink Ninja Ranger snuggled closer to him before awkwardly putting his arm around her. “Um, what other constellations do you have here on Earth?”
(He put his arm around me!) “There are a lot. The little dipper, Orion the Hunter, Scorpio the Scorpion, Capricorn the Unicorn, Leo the Lion...and, of course, Polaris the North Star. It always points towards the North Pole.” Squinting, she pointed. “Do you see it?”
“Is it that bright one over there?” Jaime questioned, noticing the star that seemed brighter than most of the others in the sky.
Kim nodded. “That’s the one. My grandmother used to tell me that if you made a wish on the North Star that it would come true.” (I remember wishing one night that Tommy and I would get together sophomore year, and we did. Maybe if I wished that I could get together with a certain Triphorian...) As it was, Kim wasn’t at all sure of her feelings for Jaime, but she knew they were there. He was so strong and yet so naive, and the inquisitiveness he had about Earth made him all the more fun to be with. “Are you going to wish for something?”
Jaime glanced at her, his eyes betraying his confusion and excitement about all that he was learning. “Being Triphorian, am I allowed to use your North Star to wish?” Kim was about to respond when, suddenly, his communicator went off. The two looked at each other before making sure that no one else was near them. Seeing that they were alone, Jaime raised his communicator to his lips. “This is Jaime. I read you, Zordon.”
“MULDER, KRYCEK, AND SCULLY HAVE BEEN ATTACKED IN THE PARK. YOU MUST GET THERE IMMEDIATELY.”
“Right, Zordon. Jaime out.” Standing, Kim nodded at Jaime, motioning for him to continue. “It’s morphing time!”
“NINJA CRANE POWER!”
“SILVER RANGER POWER!”
Reaching the park, the two rangers began pulling Tengas off of Krycek and attacking them. They had been there for less than five minutes when the rest of the ranger, except Tommy, arrived and began attacking the remaining Tengas. When Krycek was completely free, Rocky bent down by him. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” Krycek mumbled, slightly embarrassed and aching. “Remind me never to sign up for your line of work.”
Rocky chuckled. “Don’t worry. It isn’t like Zordon writes up application forms and puts ads in the paper or anything like that.”
Adam kicked a few Tengas away from Scully and Mulder and pulled them to their feet. “Did they hurt you?”
Mulder shook his head. “No. In fact, our guns did quite a bit of damage.”
Overhearing him, Emily looked at two dead Tenga bodies on the ground before wrinkling her nose in disgust. “I’ll say.” Summoning the Golden Lighting, she burnt five Tengas to a crisp.
Jason pulled out his Power Sword and slashed a few Tengas before flipping past Rocky and Adam and slashing a few more. Rocky smirked. “Show off.”
“Shut up,” Jason said with a grin before slicing straight through a Tenga.
Tanya called for her Power Daggers and cut a few Tengas before kicking them to the ground. Kat flipped over her and pulled out her Power Bow, shooting a Tenga straight through the heart. The two joined with each other, smiled, and pulled out their Laser Pistols, killing about ten Tengas that had been coming their way.
Jaime called for the Silver Thunder, killing a few Tengas before punching one of them in the head and knocking it over with a swift roundhouse kick. Kim watched him before using her Ninja Speed to elude a Tenga that had been trying to catch her. “Come on, you snail! You can do better than that!”
As it ran towards her again, she moved away from it. “You know, hasn’t anyone ever told you not to attack a lady? Summon Laser Power!” Pink energy welled up in her hand and, pointing her finger at the Tenga, she killed it on the spot.
After all the Tengas had been beaten, the rangers regrouped before checking over Krycek, Mulder, and Scully who were all huddled together. “Are you sure you guys are all right?” Jason questioned.
Scully nodded. “I’m going to have a killer bruise in the morning, but besides that, I’m fine.”
“You’re going to have a bruise in the morning!? They kicked me against a damn tree!” Mulder exclaimed incredulously.
Krycek rubbed his forehead, discovered that it was bleeding, and sighed. “I’m going to have a fun time explaining this to Skinner when we get back to DC.” As the Black Ranger got a closer look at it, he winced. “Well, you guys have to have bandages in the Power Chamber, right?”
Rocky snickered. “Yeah. That is, if we haven’t used them all up.” Jaime chuckled at this.
Jason sighed. “I guess we better get you guys up to the Power Chamber so that you can get cleaned up. Let’s go, guys.” With that, the eleven teleported up in their designated colors.
“...I know that you’re going to be the one to find me, and I feel horrible about it, but you have to understand that I couldn’t go on without those that I love. Losing my parents was horrible, and I do love you like a brother, but to only have one person left in the world? Plus, I hate seeing people in pain. That’s why I left Tommy’s hospital room today. Do you remember when he was so strong that nothing could faze him? Seeing him today...so weak and pale...seeing that was just a reminder of my mortality and yours. I didn’t want to see you die, and now I won’t have to.
Please forgive me, Skull. Forgive me for all I ever did to you, and please try to go on without me. I’ll miss you when I’m gone. Stay cool, Brother.
Skull stared at the note in shock before looking at the body of his best friend lying on the floor of his shelter room. There was blood all over his chest from where he had stabbed himself, and the red substance had covered the floor around him. This sight made him sick, and Skull turned away from him before leaning against the wall by his door and sinking to the floor in agony. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he stared back at Bulk’s carcass. “You coward! How could you leave me here alone!? Bastard!”
Glancing at the knife Bulk had used that was sitting by the foot of his bed, Skull reached out to it and put the sharp tool against his own chest. “See what you’ve done, Bulkie!?” Skull cried. Pushing the knife against his chest, he looked down to see that he had just barely broken the skin and that a small trickle of blood was beginning to flow down his abdomen.
He was about to push even harder, but then he remembered Bulk’s note. His dying wish had been for Skull to continue and make a new life. “We were supposed to make a new life together, Bulk,” Skull whispered more to himself than to the dead body. Closing his eyes, he remembered having been told by some supervisors in the caves that his parents were dead, and how, when they were in LA, they had promised to live on for each other. “Bastard.”
“It could mean that I won’t be able to do very much martial arts anymore, and I won’t be able to walk as much as I would normally, but it isn’t serious enough to put me into a wheelchair,” he remembered Tommy saying earlier. (There’s no way that’s going to happen to him. ‘Tommy Oliver’, ‘won’t’, and ‘martial arts’ do not belong in the same sentence.)
Skull sighed and looked up at the ceiling as he recalled more of the conversation. “Literally, he blamed my injuries on myself. I know I can’t have prevented this, but it still hurts to know that your best friend thinks you’re an idiot for ending up here. Maybe I am and I just don’t want to give up on myself just yet. It’s the same thing like with your parents. It hasn’t sank in yet.”...”Skull stays”...
Throwing the knife down, he grunted. “I have to see him...I have to let this out.” As he stood, Skull ignored the throbbing pain in his chest before walking out of his room and beginning out of the shelter towards the hospital. Reaching it, he stormed through the doors and, ignoring the questions posed to him from nurses, he pushed past and walked straight up to room 126. Making sure that no one was watching him, he quietly crept through the door and into the dark room. Skull silently closed the door behind him before looking down at his chest. Seeing that blood was continuing to flow from the cut, he wiped some of it away with his fingers before whispering, “Tommy. Can you hear me?” The man on the bed in front of him murmured something in his sleep, but didn’t awaken.
“Tommy?” Kneeling down in front of him, Skull decided to try one more time. “Tommy, please wake up!”
The White Ranger stirred slightly before slowly opening his eyes. Bewildered, he gazed at Skull for a few moments before recognizing his face and frowning. “Skull? Why are you here? What time is it?”
Skull opened his mouth to tell him but, suddenly overcome with emotion, he began to cry again. Tommy was immediately alert and, pushing himself into a sitting position, he questioned, “What is it? Skull, what’s wrong?”
“Bulk killed himself,” Skull whispered, his voice shaky. Suddenly feeling faint, he let his weight fall against Tommy’s bed. “I found his body tonight.”
(Oh God...) Grabbing his hand, Tommy looked at it before gasping. “There’s blood on your hands, Skull.” Tommy gazed down at Skull’s chest where he saw blood staining his shirt. “Shit! You’re bleeding! Did you do that!?”
Skull sighed. “I was...was going t-to follow Bulk. Tommy, I-I want to follow B..Bulk...” Closing his eyes, he let himself give in to the dreamy feeling in his head and pass out.
“Damn it!” Tommy exclaimed, and before he could think about what he was doing, he jumped out of his hospital bed and helped Skull over to his bed where he was able to get him onto it. Unbuttoning Skull’s shirt, he saw the bloody cut and immediately began to panic. “Oh, shit. I, um...the radio thing...”
Ignoring the fiery sensation in his abdomen, he limped over to the emergency beeper by his bed and pushed a button on it a few times. After a few minutes, a doctor and nurse made their way into his room and, seeing Skull, quickly ran to his side. “Damn it, what happened!?” The doctor questioned.
Tommy replied, “His best friend killed himself, and I think he was going to do the same. I don’t know why, but he came here.” As his hip began to throb, he sat down in one of the chairs in his room before rubbing it. “He passed out a few minutes ago.”
Frowning as he heard the pain in his voice, the doctor turned to the nurse. “Get Dr. Maris in here with some bandages and narcotics. You’ll have to put Tommy in another room tonight, and get the boy some pain killers, as well. It must have been painful as hell to walk around in his condition.
The nurse nodded and helped Tommy to stand. Casting one more glance over his shoulder at Skull who was moaning on the bed, Tommy walked with her out into the hospital hallway. “Dr. Maris to room 126,” the nurse said to one of the desk clerks before helping Tommy, who was still limping, down the hallway and into room 132 which was empty. Helping him to lie down, the nurse said, “I’ll be administering your pain killers. My name is Nurse Owens. Now, is there any part of you that is in excruciating pain?”
(Yeah. My head, hip, foot, muscles, chest, abdomen...) “My hip kinda hurts, but it’s nothing serious,” Tommy told her, “and my ankle.”
Nurse Owens nodded before leaving the room in search of narcotics. (Why did Skull come to me?) Tommy asked himself as he tried to get his mind off of the pain in his hip. (He could have gone anywhere else, but he came to me. Damn it, I can’t believe that Bulk is dead!) Watching as Nurse Owens entered with two different needles, he shook his head. “I think I’ve seen enough of those for the rest of my life.”
“Sorry,” Nurse Owens said before injecting the first one into his arm. Tommy winced as the sharp point penetrated his skin before relaxing as his hip began to numb. “See, I bet you’re feeling it already,” Nurse Owens said with a smile that made Tommy ill. (How can she be that awake this late at night? Doesn’t she have a life?)
Tapping the second needle, Nurse Owens watched as he sighed heavily before yawning and closing his eyes. “This is the sedative,” she informed him, as if he couldn’t realize this on his own. Watching his head nod against his chest, Nurse Owens smiled before pushing a strand of hair out of his face and leaving the room.
*a few days later*
“I wish I could have gotten to say goodbye to them. It isn’t like I liked them much, but they could have stopped by.”
“Yeah, I know, but their boss was supposedly going to be on their case for missing one day of work.”
“One day? What a tight-ass,” Rocky breathed as he leaned back against one of the trees in Angel Grove Park. Seeing that Jaime was beginning to doze off again, he picked up one of Tommy’s crutches and smacked him over the head with it. “Wake up. Come on, Man, why have you been so tired lately?”
Flashing Rocky an annoyed glare, Jaime rubbed his eyes wearily and shrugged. “I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been sleeping well lately. Homesick, I guess.” Rocky ‘awwwwed’ making the Silver Ranger blush.
Jason laughed before motioning for Adam to pass him a soda, which the Black Ranger did. Taking a sip of it, he patted Tommy’s leg. “Crutches, huh? Really, Tommy, you need to be more careful.”
“Shut up,” Tommy muttered with a smile as he smacked Jason’s hand away from his ankle. “Anyway, Krycek wasn’t hurt badly, was he?”
Adam shook his head. “Nope. Just a scrape on the head. Damaging for your appearance, but nothing life-threatening.” At Tommy’s nod, Adam stood and stretched out his arms before beginning to go through a simple kata. Rocky grinned playfully and, taking this as a sparring symbol, he stood and got into position. The Black Ranger smiled and did the same thing, and a few seconds later the two were kicking and punching at each other. Watching them for a moment, Jason took another sip of his soda before imploring, “So, did you talk to Skull? Why did he go to you after Bulk killed himself?”
“I had spoken to Bulk and Skull earlier that day,” Tommy informed him. “They had both changed. It was freaky, Jason. They were so...grown up. Anyway, he felt like he could confide in me even though we had only spoken that afternoon. I’m kinda glad he did. If I hadn’t been there to talk to him, then he might not have stopped after that small cut in his chest. Skull might have gone through with it and followed his best friend to the grave.” Scratching at his side, he looked up to see Jason looking solemnly at him and, getting the picture, he forced his hand to stop. “Well, it isn’t my fault that it itches. Damn scab.”
Zack leaned back on the grass and looked up at the white clouds. “I can’t believe that Bulk is dead.”
Jason nodded. “Me either. Bulk and Skull were just those people that you expected to be around forever, you know? They would never die, and they would never leave you alone. I guess I took that for granted.” As a shadow passed over him, he smiled as he saw who it was. “Hey, Tanya.” At her name, Zack swallowed hard.
After knocking Rocky to the ground, Adam waved. “Hi.”
Rocky grinned. “Didn’t anyone ever tell you that guy bonding times are for guys only?” Tommy snickered.
“Well, I didn’t get to see how Tommy was doing, so I came to see how he was,” Tanya said. Pushing her curly hair out of her face, she touched Tommy’s shoulder. “I was glad to hear that nothing was seriously wrong with your hip.”
Tommy nodded. “Me too. I got lucky.”
Tanya sighed. “Don’t test your luck too many times, all right?” As he lowered his eyes and nodded, Tanya glanced at Zack. “I need to talk to you in private.” Zack gazed up at her, stood, and brushed off his black and white striped shirt before following her away from the others and towards Angel Grove. Reaching the ruined city, Tanya pushed him into an alleyway. “I guess we’re safe over here.” She glanced at him before looking up at the sky.
Zack put a hand on her arm. “Look, Tanya, I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have tried to come between you and Adam. That was really dumb of me, and I just want you to know--”
“Can you keep a secret?” Tanya asked, cutting him off.
Zack frowned. “What?”
Tanya smiled slyly and put her hand on his shoulder, sending chills up his spine. “Can you keep a secret?”
“Yeah,” Zack told her, still confused. “Why?” Instead of answering, Tanya leaned forward and kissed him softly on the lips, catching him completely off guard. After she had pulled away, Zack stared at her in awe. “What about Adam?”
“You said you could keep a secret,” Tanya reminded him sweetly. Leaning towards him, she licked his ear before whispering, “and so can I.” With that, she kissed along his neck.
Shivering, Zack tried to force himself to pull away, but he knew that he wouldn’t be able to. She had him. The two kissed each other passionately, their hands roaming each other’s bodies, and all the while Zack thought to himself (How can something that feels so right feel so wrong at the same time?)
Later that day, Scorpina, Finster, and Uriel were sitting in Uriel’s lab, and Finster was holding up a piece of paper. “At Scorpina’s request, My Queen, I have physically checked you, and I’ve found the problem with your health. As promised, this news will stay just between us unless the others should find out. As soon as I look at this piece of paper, I will know the answer.” Unfolding the chart, the white creature looked at it curiously.
Uriel, impatient, stomped her foot on the ground. “Well, what is it? Am I dying? Did Rashell inject me with something that is slowly poisoning me?”
Finster, in shock, shook his head. Seeing this, Uriel frowned. “Well, is it a Hirpogian disease?” Again, the little creature shook his head. “Damn it, is it an Earth or Triphorian virus!?”
“No, My Queen, but I fear it is something worse than that,” Finster told her, his voice soft and gentle.
Being thrown off by this, Uriel glanced at a worried Scorpina before quietly asking, “What is it?”
(She’s not going to like this one. Nope, not one bit...) Shaking his head, Finster responded, “You’re pregnant.”
“What!?” Scorpina exclaimed, her jaw hanging open. “I don’t believe this!”
Uriel stared at him in shock for a moment. (Pregnant? Me!?) “Do you have any way of telling if the child will be like me or like Rashell?”
Finster swallowed hard before replying, “Well, I think it’s fairly easy to say that the child will look mortal like you, My Queen.”
“That’s a good thing,” Uriel said. Noticing the discomfort in Finster’s eyes, Uriel frowned. “What? I find nothing wrong with my being pregnant. I’m in shock, but I’ve always dreamed of having a child. What’s wrong with that, Finster?”
“There’s nothing wrong with that, My Queen,” Finster said, his voice shaky, “b-but there is going to be something wrong with t-the baby.”
Uriel gasped at this. “Oh God, it’s deformed already!? Is it half like me and half like Rashell? Does it--”
Finster shook his head, his whole body trembling. “The baby isn’t deformed, My Queen, but there is still something wrong with the baby.” When Uriel silently motioned for him to continue, Finster whispered, “Rashell isn’t the father.”
“Shit,” Scorpina mumbled, not believing what she was hearing. As Uriel’s face fell in horror, Scorpina questioned, “You don’t mean...?”
“I do,” Finster said grimly. “The father of the baby isn’t Rashell, but the White Ranger.”