By the moon and the stars in the sky.
I'll be there.
And I swear.
By the shadow that's by your side.
I'll be there.
Silang sang as she strolled along the beach. So much, so much had happened since she had come to this country. Even though not _all_ of it had exactly been what many people would consider 'good'. In fact, a lot of it bordered 'horrible'.
The waves blew her dark, curly gold-black hair backwards as it puffed sand into her golden skin.
Her mother had died. Yes, that was the first thing Silang thought about whenever she had time to herself. It made her hurt inside to think of a life without her mother. She was only a child, after all, no older than thirteen. She had found her Kuya, though, her big brother, her guardian, her friend.
And all of his friends, too. The men all treated her like the father she'd never had, and the women tried their best to make her feel welcome. Especially her brother's girlfriend, Kimberly. Her big brother, Tommy Oliver, had been so shocked when he had found out that Silang was what she was. A healer. But she was not the only one.
Oh, Kimberly was a healer, no doubts about it. Silang had always known it, it had never been a secret, nor had she ever tried to make it one. It was a fact. Of course, she had not chosen to tell her brother or his friends. But in healing, one always had to know something about the patient. When she'd shielded them from the psychic attacks of Ivan Ooze, they'd inadvertently left themselves open to her probes. She hadn't _meant_ to pry... but the information had just flowed into her mind.
She knew their secrets, their hearts, and their deepest, darkest fears.
She knew that Aisha had tried to shoot herself, one day when she had found herself all alone.
She knew that Billy had a phobia, not for fish, but for love. He was afraid to get close for the fear that he would get hurt.
She knew that Adam was allergic to bee stings and had a deep, abiding qualm for them. For obvious reasons. For him, bee stings were _fatal_.
She knew that what Kimberly feared the most was losing Tommy to another woman.
She knew that Tommy still harbored feelings of guilt from when he had come close to destroying his friends and companions, when he had been taken over by evil.
She knew that Rocky, no matter how insensitive and callous he might seem, was actually as unsure of himself at times, especially in respect to his friends, as Adam or Tommy.
She gently touched the little locket hanging around her neck. In it were treasures more precious than any gold or platinum or silver in the universe.
In it were the Power Coins of her brothers' friends. She was the keeper of them. Why? Because her mother had been the ones who had given them their powers in the _first_ place.
Silang shook her head.
[Must be adult logic. It does not make sense to me.]
No matter that she had graduated a week ago with high honors, Silang still thought of herself as a child. And she was. Not a child in mind, no, she could match Billy in spouting fomulae and factoring vector algebraics. No, not a child in the mind.
A child in the heart. Despite having seen her mother die, despite knowing that her elder half-brother's 'mother' was not his mother at all, but rather had been adopted by her, despite knowing the truth of life and the truth of death, she retained her innocence. Her beauty would last long after the childlike blush of youth had passed. Just like her mother.
She heard dark footsteps padding up behind her. It was Kimberly, her brother's fiancée. How did she know that they were affianced when no one else did? She didn't know. Neither did she jump when Kimberly clapped a hand on her shoulder.
"Ate* Kimberly." she stated. "What brings you here?"
"Tommy was worried about you, Seelee." Kimberly replied softly. She didn't understand Tommy's little half-sister. None of them could. Sometimes, she seemed so cold, so adult. Sometimes, though, she was as warm as the summer dewdrops, as childlike as spring.
"He knew where I would be." Silang replied. "I am always here."
[She's so much like Tommy.] Kimberly thought wonderingly. [So much like her brother. I'm surprised that they don't see it. She shuts herself off from the world.]
Silang turned to Kimberly, and once more, Kim was struck by their resemblance, physical this time. Tommy had had that same wave of dark curls before he'd had them straightened out, and he still had those beautiful almond eyes and the golden skin. Just like Silang. Just like her, too, he had high cheekbones and long lashes, a gently pointed chin and a
sensitive, expressive mouth.
Silang looked at her with that unearthly thoughtful expression on her beautiful face. "You love him, do you not."
It wasn't a question. Kimberly knew exactly who Silang was talking about.
The way Silang saw through her--saw through all of them-- was unreal. The only thing they knew about her was that she was at least partly not-human. Just like Tommy. Unlike Tommy, though, Silang had not been raised with human sensibilities.
"Yeah... yeah, I do." Kimberly replied, softly. "He just... he's just seemed so, so _cold_ lately... so distant. Like he's forgotten about me."
Silang gave her a sad smile. "It has been a lot for him to handle, Kimberly. You must understand that. He has learned that everything that he has been taught all his life is not really real, that nothing is as it seems to be. He did not know he had a sister. He did not know that Zordon was his grandfather. Be patient with him. He loves you more than he has ever loved anyone or anything. No matter how bad his memory is, he would never forget you. He never _will_ forget you. You are his one, his only. You are his heart, and you are his soul. Can a body live without a heart and soul?"
Kimberly didn't reply, stunned by the simple wisdom, so childlike and yet so adult.
"Besides," Silang added, with a brilliant smile. "He is a boy. He does not really matter. So do not worry."
Kimberly giggled. Now _that_, was undoubtedly childlike. "She'll learn." she muttered. "Oh, she'll learn."
"Oh, I know all about that." Silang said, grinning condescendingly as only a thirteen-year-old can. "Its just that... well... _why_ do you love him?"
Kimberly stared at her. It was an odd question, coming from anyone but Silang. Unfortunately, Silang really _did_ expect an answer. "Oh... I don't know... I just _do_, I guess."
"But _why_? Why him, and why not Adam, or Jason, or Zach?"
"Kimmie, is she asking you for the meaning of life?" came an amused tenor voice from behind Silang. "That's what _she_ was bugging me about before she came out here."
"Hi, Kuya Tom-Ee!" Silang squealed, jumping on her brother. It made quite an incongruous sight, little five-foot three Silang trying her best to pounce on six-foot Tommy.
"Heya there, how's my girl?" asked Tommy, swinging her up to piggyback on his spine. Kimberly felt a faint twinge of jealousy. Tommy had been lavishing more attention on little Silang then he had on Kim for the past few weeks.
Silang tactfully did not repeat the question that she had asked Kim. She had much more common sense than she showed. She slid off his back, squirming her way out of his grip.
"Why don't you run up to the cabin? Rocky'll probably stuff you with ice cream as soon as you walk into there, but you like ice cream, right?" Tommy suggested. "Use that little look of yours on him, and he'll turn _into_ ice cream and start to melt away.
"What look?" Silang asked. "This one?"
Silang turned on what she called her Sad Kitty look: raised eyebrows, pouted rosebud
mouth, huge amandine eyes practically leaking innocence. That, added to the slumped head,
downed shoulders and slouched back made for an extremely melancholy-- and undoubtedly
adorable--look. "Rocky Road? Pleeease?" she begged.
Tommy laughed, both at the pun and at the sweetly delightful look on Silang's face. "I
wonder why he doesn't like that flavor."
"Well, give him that _look_ of yours, and he'll buy you all you want. _That_ would melt not just a heart of stone, but a stone, period!" Kimberly chuckled.
Silang giggled right along with them, and skittered up the beach to the cabin.
Kimberly gazed up at where the girl was giving Rocky her Sad Kitty look. They heard Rocky's groans echoing down the damp sands, but they also saw him laugh and capitulate for his 'little sister'.
"She really is darling, isn't she." Tommy smiled, looking after her.
"She is." Kimberly agreed. Despite the fact that Silang was prettier than her, and sweeter, Kimberly found it impossible to resent her. "You know," she brought up in a dreamy voice, "If I would have kids, I'd want to have a girl just like her."
"Really?" Tommy asked, really _looking_ at her, this time. "Uh..."
Tommy always seemed to become uncomfortable when she brought up any sort of subject like that. In fact, Tommy was, in a lot of ways, more innocent than Silang.
He looked away from her, unable to look her in the eye. "Uh... well, Kimmie... I'm really sorry I haven't been paying much attention to you lately. I've had a lot on my mind, what with Kelane showing up, and Silang, and Ivan Ooze... then losing Flight..."
"I understand." Kimberly said, touching his chin gently. "Silang explained it all to me."
"Seelee?" asked Tommy, startled. "How would _she_ know?"
"She's a lot wiser than she shows, Tommy." Kimberly explained. "No matter what it is, she understands. It's like... she's got an old soul in such a young body, with such young heart."
"I guess you're right." Tommy replied. He looked into her pretty face. Out of the blue, he touched her cheek gently with the back of his hand. "You're beautiful." he said, wistfully.
Kimberly grabbed his hand and pressed it to her soft cheek, reveling in the gentle warmth of it. "I love you, Tommy." she whispered. "Now and forever. No matter how cliché that sounds. It's the truth."
The unspoken reply was more eloquent than any words could have been. He reached down and kissed her gently, brushing his lips across her own.
She grabbed him by the ponytail and pulled him closer to her, turning the simply tender kiss into something more passionate. He wrapped his arms around her body, adoring her with his touch.
They heard a little childlike girlish giggle, joined by Rocky's tenor laugh, and finally, filled out by Aisha's alto titter. They broke apart with a gasp and looked around suspiciously. Tommy had learned, much to his disadvantage, that Silang could blend anywhere. How, they didn't know. It was just something she _did_, just like her Healer abilities. Rocky and Aisha, however, could not blend in _anywhere_ in their shades of yellow and red. And sure enough, Tommy spotted them behind a rock.
"Come out, you guys!" he cried, pouncing on them.
"Aargh!" shrieked wiry Rocky, as Tommy, who had once been the star quarterback of the Angel Grove High football team, landed on him. Rocky's shock --shock was the only word that did his mop of hair justice--of dark brown hair made him look perpetually young, so to anyone who understood what language Silang was speaking most of the time, the honorific 'Kuya' (meaning 'elder brother') really didn't fit. In fact, most of the time, Rocky looked the same age as Silang.
"Eeek!" Aisha cried. "We've been _caught_!"
"Oooooh!" sang Silang from her hiding place in the shadows. "Kimberly and Tommy, sitting in a tree! K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"
"Oh, come on now, Silang!" Tommy protested. "We were just _kissing_, for Godsakes! You act like we were doing something _dirty_!"
"Seriously though, Silang, you act like you're thirteen!" Trini argued with a smile, popping up from the sand dune she'd hidden behind. Tommy groaned, but they ignored him.
"I _am_ thirteen." Silang pointed out. "You forget."
"Oh. Right." Trini remembered.
"I don't know about you, guys, but I'm going to leave these two lovebirds alone." Aisha admitted. "I mean, I'd hate it if I was kissing Zach and everyone was watching."
Zach was another former Power Ranger, who was probably back in the cabin, trying to teach Billy how to dance. Billy, super-smart and amazingly versatile, was normally as clumsy as a computer with legs.
In fact, if they listened, they could hear Zach yelling at Billy. "BIIILLLYYY! You're not supposed to do THAT! You're supposed to do THIS!"
And if they listened _really_ carefully, they could hear Billy's grumbled reply. "I always though dancing was overrated anyway."
"Yeah. Guess you're right. Too bad, though, we'll miss anything _interesting_ that happens!" Rocky mumbled, dissatisfied.
"As if!" Kimberly shot back. "I mean, what would we _do_?"
The looks that Aisha and Rocky tossed back on her before they bounced back up to the cabin made both her and Tommy blush.
"Ahem. Well." Tommy coughed, trying to get his blush back where it was supposed to be. "So, now what."
"Oh, I don't know." Kimberly admitted.
"Alam ko!" Silang put in from her hiding place. After the first few weeks, Tommy and Kimberly had given up trying to lose her and had simply admitted that they had a chaperone, probably sicced on them by the other Rangers. "Pakakasal nalang kayo! Mahal mo naman siya and mahal niya naman kita! Tanongin mo siya! "
Kimberly had given up trying to learn the language, but she felt Tommy's body grow hot beside hers, and in the soft moonlight, saw his face turn crimson.
"Never mind!" Kimberly groaned. "I don't want to know!"
"Ah... you're probably right, Kimmie." Tommy replied, rather uncomfortably. "I would have probably been happier not knowing that, too."
"Was it something obscene?" asked Kimberly wryly.
"As if!" Silang echoed Kimberly's words of earlier. Tommy couldn't help but chuckle at Kimberly's nonplussed expression.
"Grr." she growled at the girl. "If only your memory was as bad as your big brother's!"
"Hey!" Tommy protested.
"Totoo naman!" Silang agreed. "It is true!"
Tommy grumbled quietly to himself about all the women in the world being against him.
"Think of it this way, Kuya!" Silang laughed. "Not all the women in the world are against you. Just the ones that matter!"
Kimberly and Silang giggled as Tommy muttered on about his little sister being too smart for her own good.
"Kuya, aalis ako pag tatanungin mo siya pag pakasalanan siya ikaw."
Tommy was struck dumb, and he glared all about him until he remembered that Silang was impossible to find unless she wanted to be found.
"Sige." he replied gruffly. "All right. If you insist."
"Oh, do not be such a stick-in-the-mud, Halkon-Kuya." Silang replied. "You know you want to. How many things have you faced? How hard could it be? Promise that you will ask."
"Easy for you to say!" Tommy shot back. "Oh, fine. I promise."
There was a rustling noise from up a palm tree, a flash of beige, then Silang was gone, running up the dune back to the cottage.
Tommy breathed a sigh of relief. "She really is a darling, but sometimes..."
Kimberly agreed with a nod. "She really watches out for you, though. Sometimes I wonder who's the elder of you two."
"Funny." Tommy grunted, disgruntled. He touched a bulge in his jacket pocket, on the side facing away from Kimberly, and pulled something out.
[Come on, Tommy!] his mind screamed. [You promised! Do it now!]
Tommy nodded almost imperceptively. He then turned to Kimberly. "Kimberly... I promised Silang I would do this. She's been pressuring me to do this for the longest time. But... I'm not doing this for her. I'm doing this for you, and for me."
Kimberly's heart started to spin, and her eyes grew huge.
He dropped down to one knee, still holding the little black velvet box in one hand. His heart was racing a mile a minute, and he screamed at it to slow down.
[Be still my foolish heart!] he yelled. [Hey, wait a minute, isn't that from some play or
som'pin? Oh well.]
"K...k..k..." he stuttered. Then he let his guard down and got back up to his feet. "Oh
damn. This isn't going to work. O.K. I won't be formal about this. I just want you to know, Kim, that whatever you say, whatever you do, I'll always love you. _Always._"
"Is that it?" asked Kimberly, somewhat disappointed.
Tommy took a deep breath, and took her small hands into his. She could feel the soft
velvet of the box he was holding against the back of her hand. He released her hands, and opened the box.
Inside was a wedding band that sparkled with the shape of a white opal tiger and a pink opal firebird dancing together on a platinum-silver background.
"No. It isn't. Kimberly Anne Hart... will you marry me?"
*'Ate' is an honorific meaning 'big sister.'
Five years later...
Kimberly strolled through her house, humming softly to herself. She opened her closet and started to go through it, looking for something to wear.
"I pretended I'm glad you went away.
These four walls closin' more
And I'm dying inside
And nobody knows it but me.
Like a clown I put on a show.
The pain is real even if nobody knows.
And I'm cryin' inside
And nobody knows but me."
She stopped. She caressed worn cotton cloth gently with the tips of her fingers. There, at the back of her closet, there hung a simple beige flannel. Suddenly, memories filled her mind, memories of a gentle touch, a tenorous voice, and loving eyes.
[No! No! Dammit, no!] she screamed at her mind. But the memories came, unbidden.
Memories of Tommy. Memories of being lifted into the air in kind arms, of soft lips against her own. Memories she would rather have not remembered.
[Stop it, girl!] she scolded herself. [You're married now. He probably is, too.]
:Well, why did you marry someone else, then, if you loved him so much?: some unwelcome voice asked her sarcastically.
[I left him so that I wouldn't lose him!] she yelled back. [Oh geez, this is dumb. I'm having an argument with my conscience.]
:Feh.: came the reply.
Kimberly's eyes popped open. She backed out of the closet and sat on the bed with a gasp. Only two people she knew used that particular expression. Only one of them was still alive.
Tommy's younger half-sister.
:He missed you, you know. He talked about you every day. Why did you never visit?: Silang asked coldly. Though she had graduated the same day and the same year as her brother--and Kimberly--she was five years younger than them. Then, she'd been thirteen. Now, she was eighteen.
The childish-not-childish voice brought a pang to Kimberly's heart. [I can't visit, Seelee. I'm not welcome anymore. None of the Rangers--oops, former Rangers--will ever take me back now that I've married David.]
:You are absolutely right.: Silang agreed frigidly. :But you forget, I am not a Ranger. I never was a Ranger. And if I want to invite someone over, how can Kuya Tom stop me?:
[He can't, Seelee. But I'm not welcome. I... I still love him.]
Silang's mind voice was silent for a while. Silang was the only one who had retained her ability to talk mind-to-mind, perhaps because for her, it was natural. Silang wasn't human. :If you love him,: Silang asked coldly, with her amazing ability to ask something so complex in such a childishly simple way, :Why did you not marry him?:
Kimberly slumped, laying down on her bed. She'd known the question was coming. Silang was just too wise not to notice, and to innocent not to ask. [I didn't marry him so that I wouldn't lose him.] she replied softly
:I do not understand.: Silang replied, putting a wall of hard ice between Kimberly and herself. Kimberly cursed softly, knowing that of all the Rangers, Silang was the one who had resented the fact, that Kimberly had turned down Tommy's marriage proposal, the most. She had to. She was the closest to her brother. She was the one, being the Healer, who had borne the brunt of his pain, of his loss, of his sorrow.
[I said no because... well... because... I didn't want to hurt him.]
:By giving your heart to him completely, you are hurting him?: Silang asked, callously. Kimberly had never heard the normally placid girl so angry. In fact, Silang had not so much as _spoken_ to her since five years ago, when she'd said 'no' when Tommy asked her to marry him. :Do you know what it is like, trying to keep your elder brother from killing himself? Do you know what it is like, entering his soul to try and cool down all the burning pain, to close up the open wound that is his heart that someone else tore in two?:
[You don't understand!] Kimberly cried to Silang.
:No, _you_ do not understand, Kimberly Anne Hart!: Silang screamed back. :Oh, _excuse_ me, Kimberly Anne _Roberts_! You do not understand at all! Do you know what it is like to love someone more than your life? I do not... save through Halkon! My brother loved _you_, Kimberly, unworthy as you were of his feelings. And then, you turn him down! You were his heart! You were his very essence! You were _part of him_! Can one live without a part of themself? Do you know how many times Tommy has tried to end his life? Well over a hundred! I lost count! Do you know how many times I could stop him? One less than that!:
And with that, the only voice in Kimberly's head was her own.
And there was only one thought echoing around her head, an infinite recursion of the same two words.
[Tommy's dead. Oh my God, Tommy's dead. He's dead. Tommy's dead.]
Then, a few words, the few that would make all the difference, entered her mind.
[It's my fault.]
[Oh dammit, he killed himself because of me.]
[It's my fault.]
Kimberly rocked herself, clutching the beige flannel, sobbing and weeping as she knew the truth. It _was_ her fault. If she'd said 'yes', she'd have been happy, and everyone would have been happy.
She'd been fooling herself, telling herself she had a good life when she hadn't. Her life with the Power Rangers had been a good life: a life of laughter, of friendship and of love. Here in Connecticut, where she'd moved with her husband, David Roberts, she had none of that. She _never_ laughed, she didn't _have_ any friends, and... well... she didn't love David. She never had. She had _thought_ she had, at first. She should have realized. When he'd taken her hands and slid the golden wedding band over her ring finger and looked up into her face, instead of pale-blonde crew-cut hair, fair skin sunburned red, and washed-out blue eyes, why had she seen long golden-black hair, golden-tanned skin, and honey-brown almond-shaped eyes with long, long eyelashes? And why, then, instead of the diamandine ring that she'd seen being slipped onto her hand, she'd seen a dancing tiger-firebird ring of opals and platinum?
At first, she had thought David wise and quiet. Then she had realized that he was simply not a 'thinker', and didn't want to say much so that he wouldn't reveal it. Another muscle-brained jock with no sense of humour. The truth hurt, but truth was reality. Tommy had been a 'jock' too, in a manner of speaking, but he had been good at his studies, good at what he did. David was handsome, yes, but it was the handsomeness of youth. Tommy's good looks came from inside.
[Dammit, no matter what I think of, it leads to _him_! Always _him_!]
"Flight!" she screamed, whirling to her feet and holding her hands out, palms upwards.
A staff topped by a platinum falcon materiallized into her hands. Tommy's staff, the reward of his quest where he had refused to hurt her, though she would have killed him...
Kimberly pushed the thought away and turned her attention to the pole. The normally shiny platinum was dull with sorrow, and Flight looked up at her with numb eyes. "Yes, milady?" he asked numbly.
At the appearance of Flight, Kimberly knew with a sharp pain that it was true. Tommy was dead. He was really and truly dead. But she had to know. "Is... Is Tommy...?"
She couldn't choke out the words. But Flight understood. Fresh tears began to roll down the falcon's tear-paths in his platinum feathers. "Yes, milady." he keened, birdlike. "The Falcon flies free."
Kimberly bowed her head. "So..." she whispered. "Silang was telling the truth."
"The Healer Silang does not lie, milady." Flight replied, his normally proud voice no more than a whisper. "She cannot."
"It's my fault." she whispered despairingly. "Oh my God, Flight, it's my fault."
"It is no one's fault, milady." Flight replied. "Healer Silang said that but in anger. She is in pain over her brother's death. A Healer carries a part of all they heal in themselves. To lose that person, is like losing a portion of their soul."
"But she's right." Kimberly whispered. "I didn't have to do what I did. She knows that. I was selfish. I didn't want to get hurt. So I took the easy way out."
"I am afraid I don't follow you, milady." Flight answered her, puzzled.
"I didn't say 'no' when Tommy asked me to marry him because I was afraid he'd be hurt. I did it because I thought... he's so handsome, he's sure to attract other girls. What if we were married, and someone prettier and nicer than me comes along? When he leaves me, I'll be hurt. I didn't want that."
"Did you ever think," came the voice that Kimberly had been dreading. Silang's voice. "that you had _already_ left him, and he stayed faithful to you? You _do_ remember when you fell in love with Dirk, _do you not_? You also remember how Tommy _wished you luck_ with him? Do you think that someone who would wish you luck with another man, then go and cry his heart out alone where no one could see him, so that no one would feel his pain, would leave you for another woman? Halkon? Leave you? Feh, he would cut his own heart out, first! Falcons mate for life, Kimberly. That is how it has always been. That is how it will always be."
Silang's voice was as cold as an Eskimo's nose and as damning as the fires of Hell.
"Healer Silang, she is in pain." Flight reprimanded softly. "Go easy on her."
Kimberly stood up. She stared Silang straight in the eye. Then she knew. Knew that Silang had barred her grief off with anger. Knew that Silang had done everything she could to stop her brother, but could not have. Knew that Silang blamed herself, and no one else.
"Seelee," she whispered. "Oh, God, Seelee."
"My name is Silang shena keKelane." Silang replied coolly. "Not Seelee."
"Oh, God. Seelee, it's not your fault. You couldn't have stopped him. I'm the one who drove him to it in the first place."
"Leave me be, Kimberly. Tommy is gone. I know that. But you... I will not have you following him into the Plains of Beyond."
Silang's shell cracked... just a little. She was warmer now, more like the child-Silang then the cold, hard adult she had become all of a sudden.
"I wasn't planning to." Kimberly said, softly.
"Lady-Healer Silang, daughter of Lady Kelane, sister to Ranger Tommy-Halkon." Flight replied, just as softly, "Heal thyself afore you would choose to heal others."
That was the last straw. Silang's fragile shell of protection shattered into two. She started to cry, huge childish tears, like the little girl she was and not the cold adult she had become. She sank down to the floor, still howling with pain. Kimberly ran to her, wrapped her arms around her and rocked her, rocked her, just as Silang had done when Ivan Ooze had faced them with their fears.
"Healer Silang, you poor child." Flight murmured. "Grew up too fast, grew up alone, never to know comfort, yet always to give it."
Kimberly reached out blindly to Silang, the sister of the man she had loved--and still did. She reached out to her with her heart, with her mind, with her touch, trying anything she could to stop the pain.
And it stopped.
Flight perked up and stared at Kim. "What? Lady Kim, what did you _do_?"
"Pardon me?" asked Kimberly, just as surprised as Flight. But for some reason, Silang did not seem at all surprised.
"You are a Healer, Kimberly. I thought you knew." Silang replied. Her eyes were painful to behold, as they held all the years in the world.
[The poor girl.] Kimberly thought through her haze of astonishment. [Who would have thought that through that ice-cream loving, Tagalog-speaking, playful little child there lay such a raw wound?]
"Oh, God, Seelee... Is Tommy... is Tommy really d-d-dead?"
Silang turned away. Again, she started to cry raw tears. She sat down on the floor with a heartfelt 'thump' and wept.
"Oh God. It's my fault. If I hadn't... if I hadn't..." Kimberly moaned.
Kimberly started to cry herself. Together, they sat down... and mourned alone.
"Why didn't I say
The things I needed to say?
How could I let my angel get away?
Now the world is just a tumblin' down.
I can say it so clearly,
But you're nowhere around!"
A radio blared from the house nearby. Silang felt like telling it to shut up. But she was in too much pain, and started crying again.
After they had wept out their hearts yet again, they heard a knocking on the door. "Hellooo!" came David's somewhat whiny voice. "Kim, sweetie, if you're in there, would you please open the door?"Silang winced at it, her musical ears paining her somewhat.
"He is no singer, is he." she stated quietly. "Not like... not like Kuya."
"Oh, God, we look a fright." Kimberly said, trying in vain to smooth back unruly locks.
"Tell him the truth." Silang told her quietly.
"That I love Tommy?" Kimberly asked, horrified. "And that he's dead?"
"The second part." Silang advised wisely. "Telling him the half-truth does not count as a lie."
"But how do I say I know you? Where are you supposed to have come from?" Kimberly asked in a panic as her husband banged the door.
"Tell him that I flew in and you picked me up from the airport." Silang told her. "I am under Truth Spell, and cannot lie. But you have no problems there."
"But... but I'd never say anything like that to... to Tommy!"
"He is not Tommy." Silang said, simply. "Tommy you could always tell the truth to. He never resented you for refusing to marry him."
"Then... then why...?" Kimberly whispered.
"He believed himself a failure." Silang murmured. Her voice seemed to come from far, far away. "He thought it was because of _him_ that you didn't want to marry him."
"But... but..." Kimberly mumbled, pushing her tears back into her eyes.
"Later." Silang replied. Suddenly, she was cold and hard again. "Your husband."
"Oh. Oh, right." Kimberly stuttered. She tottered to the door, and unlocked and opened it for her spouse. "Hello, honey." she said, sadly.
"Darling?" David gasped, pulling her into his arms. "Honey, what's wrong? What happened?"
Silang stumbled down the stairs. "My brother." she muttered, just loud enough for David to hear her. She glared at him openly. She did not resent Kim--any more--but she really didn't care much for Kimberly's husband.
"Who's that, dear?" asked David, staring at Silang.
"That's... that's Silang." Kimberly gulped. "Her brother--a good friend of mind--just... died." She started to cry again.
"What?" David gasped. "But... but who? Where?"
"Tommy." Kimberly said. "Tommy Oliver." She was nervous, now. She had never told David about Tommy, _or_ about Aisha, Trini, Rocky, Adam, Jason, Zach or any of the other Power Rangers. He'd never met them. She had met him in college, Connecticut College, in New London.
"You look terrible, sweetheart." David said. "Was he... was he really a very good friend of yours?"
"The best." Kimberly murmured into his chest. "Silang just came to tell me the news... and to bring me back to home so that I could be with my friends while we are mourning."
"When?" David asked.
"Today." Silang replied. She had shadowed her eyes and mussed her hair, so that it looked like she'd been wailing for days. "I have tickets."
She produced plane tickets out of nowhere. David looked at them. "Is it... is it all right if I come with you?" he asked hesitantly. "I... I'd like to know more of what you were like _before_ I met you. Were you always so serious? Were you always so wise?"
Silang looked at Kimberly. :Serious? Wise? Kimberly, what happened to you?:
[I was miserable without the other Rangers.] Kimberly thought, sadly. [I missed all of you. After I ran away, I went to college... I didn't have any friends. Then David came along. And one thing led to another... next thing I knew, I was married to him and completely unhappy.]
Silang looked at David. "I... I do not believe that would be wise." she said, softly. "This time of sorrow is for those who knew Tommy, and them alone. If you were not one of his friends, then your presence would probably not be very welcome there." she spoke softly.
David got an obstinate look on his face. "I'll follow you, then!" he exclaimed.
"How?" Silang asked, just as softly as her previous statement. Now _this_ was more like the rational, ever-calm, _stubborn_ Silang that she knew! "You do not know where we are going, do you."
David quickly started to argue. "But I'll find out!"
"I'll... I'll check the college records!" David argued. He was the Physical Education teacher for football there, and looked it.
"You forget, you only have access to the records of your students. You do not have access to the records of former students." Silang replied.
David looked at her with an annoyed expression. Then he brightened. "I know! You told me once where you went to high school!" he exclaimed. "Angel something High!"
"There are an extreme many high schools which start with Angel and end with High." Silang answered, annoyingly rational.
David sighed. "Fine, fine. You can go." he answered glumly.
"I do not believe she ever asked." Silang said to David, pulling Kimberly out the door with all the strength of her wiry body.
As soon as she had closed the door behind her, to David's enraged gasp, Silang said, humorously, "I don't like him much."
"I don't either." Kimberly agreed. "Are those real tickets?" she asked.
"Yes." Silang replied. "They are just not _plane_ tickets."
The illusion of plane tickets faded, and in their place were a few worn pieces of paper.
"So how are we going to get to Angel Grove?"
"The same way I got here." Silang replied. "Teleport."
"How?" Kimberly asked. "No power, remember?"
"No _morphing_ power." Silang corrected. "You have _Healer_ power. You are just untrained. It is the same way. Only a little more comfortable."
"But what about David?"
"What about him?" Silang asked.
"I can't just leave him! He... he loves me." Kimberly explained uncomfortably. "No matter _what_ I feel for him.
Silang nodded. "I know. I could feel that. What do you want to do about it?"
"But if I leave him, he'll think I ran away with another guy."
"No he will not. On the news tonight, there will be a story of a plane crash. They will post the passenger list, and on that list will be the names Kimberly Anne Roberts and Silang Oliver. But for some reason, no one will be able to remember the other names."
"But..." Kimberly said, stunned. "You can do that?"
"I can. You will not ever be able to--my powers are different from yours--because you do not have the healer powers I do, but you can heal pain and wounds. And teleport, of course. But you do not have to take the Truth Spell like I did. But we waste time. The others are waiting for us."
"Wait." Kimberly stopped Silang. "Are they... are they angry at me?"
Silang shrugged. "We will see, Kimberly. We will see."
With that, Silang teleported out in a beam of beige light.
Kimberly could only follow.
"The nights are lonely
The days are so sad, and
I just keep thinkin' about the
Love that we had.
And I'm missin' you.
And nobody knows it
Kimberly could only stared as Aisha and Zach sang together in the middle of the parlor of their house. She had only been there an hour... and so, so much had changed.
Trini and Adam were married, and had a little girl named Mi-Hae. She was mischeivous, but parenthood suited both Adam and Trini very well: Kimberly had never seen them glow quite as much before.
They were not the _only_ ones who had taken the vows. "I still can't believe you guys actually got _married_!" she exclaimed, staring at unnaturally-gorgeous Dirk and his beautiful blonde (deaf-mute!) wife, Kethry.
"I took your advice." was all Dirk said, his piercing cerulean eyes boring holes through Kimberly. Kethry laughed silently, and hugged Kim with all the familiarity of old friends.
"So, how have you been, Kim? What have you been up to?" Aisha chirped, bouncing up from the parlor. "I know you went to college after you ran away, but what happened after that?"
Kimberly looked away. Then she looked down. "I... I got... I got married."
There was silence as everyone stared at her, accusation in their eyes.
"And what about... what about Tommy." stammered Kadiya, Jason's wife, (a Lady of the Power) into the resulting hush.
"Oh God." Kimberly slumped down on the rug and started to sob. "Oh God. He's dead and it's my fault. Just say it. It's true. I could have said yes when he asked me to take the vows. But I didn't. And now he's _dead_!" her voice rose to a shriek.
Aisha, Trini, Kethry, Kadiya and Silang ran to her, enfolding her in hugs and murmurs. As well as tears. The men simply looked completely pained.
They had _all_ loved Tommy. He was their gentle leader, their teacher, their friend. And now, he was gone. He would never be back. They all knew it. They had just refused to accept it.
Silang wept as hard as any of the other women. The men just stood, stony-faced, absolutely refusing to cry. "Oh, God. I should have... I should have... I just couldn't stand..." Kimberly wept.
"Kim... it's _not_ your fault." Aisha replied, crying and rocking her.
"Yes it is!" Kimberly screamed. "I know it is! I did it because I was selfish! I didn't want to be hurt! And now... he's dead, and he didn't even know... how much I loved him!"
"He knew." Silang replied, whispering softly through her tears. "Oh, he knew. He knew it _here_," she touched her heart, "But he didn't know it _here_." she touched her temple. "Oh, Lady Mercy, he loved you so much, Kim. He loved you _so_ much."
"How... how did he react when... when I ran away?" Kimberly asked, tears streaming rough paths down her young face.
"He locked himself in his room." Jason replied softly. "He didn't come out for three days."
"He was crying the entire time." Silang said, quietly. "Crying, because he thought he was a failure. Crying, because he believed that you did not love him."
"Oh, _God_!" Kimberly shrieked. "Oh, _GOD_!"
Silang ran into Jason's arms, shaking with sobs. Kimberly stared, momentarily shocked out of her reverie. "We... we adopted her after Tommy... after Tommy..." Jason swallowed and cleared his throat. "After Tommy died."
"How long... how long has he been dead?" Kimberly gulped.
"He's been gone a long time, Kim." Kadiya said, gathering the eighteen-year-old Silang under her arm. "Almost... almost a year."
"A _year_!" she screamed. "And none of you _ever_ told me?"
"We had to track you down." Kadiya explained. "We don't have the Power Coins anymore. We had to use the old-fashioned methods. But since you ran away, and registered under another name in college... we couldn't find you."
"Until Seelee told us she could find you another way. Then she just disappeared... and didn't come back until today." Aisha explained.
"I loved him." Kimberly murmured brokenly. "I love him. I always will."
"I carry when I'm broken in two,
And I'm nobody without someone like you!
I'm tremblin' inside and nobody knows it but me.
I lie awake, it's a quarter past three
I'm screamin' at night as if I thought
You'd hear me,
Yeah me heart is callin' you
And nobody knows it but me."
The words to the song suddenly flooded her mind. Aisha squeezed her shoulder, and murmured, as if she knew what Kimberly was thinking. "You're not alone here, Kimberly. You'll never be alone."
"I am alone." Kimberly threw back her head and cried. "I _am_ alone! Look at you! You have Zach! Trini has Adam! Dirk and Keth! Jason and Kadi! Billy and Laura, Rocky and Princilla! But what about _me_? I _am_ alone, Aisha. I'll always be alone. There's no one out there that understands me like Tommy did, no one I can tell everything to, never lie to. And I didn't tell him how much I loved him. Oh, God, that was the biggest mistake of my life, telling him 'no'!"
"You never did." Silang replied.
"What?" Kimberly exclaimed.
"You never gave him an answer. He told me. You ran away the day after, after asking for some time to think about it. You were running away from the question."
Silang looked at Kimberly as one might look through clear red cellophane. She could see right through her, Kimberly knew that. And it made her feel all the worse.
"How... how did he... die?" she asked.
"He committed seppukka. Hara-kiri." Silang told her. A blank mask had dropped over her bronzed features. "First he said he was going to sleep at Billy's. I checked on him, he was there, surfing the Internet... he seemed O.K... Then while I was cleaning his room I noticed his katana was gone... I got scared and checked on him... he was lying on the floor... blood was all over..." Silang broke down. "His wounds were too bad... I was too late... I could not heal him..."
"How blue can I get?
You could ask my heart.
But like a jigsaw puzzle it's been torn all apart.
A million words couldn't say just how I feel;
A million years from now,
I'll be lovin' you still...
Tomorrow mornin' I'm hittin' the dusty road.
Gonna find you wherever, ever you might go;
I'm gonna unload my heart and hope you come back to me!
Said when the nights are lonely
The days are so sad, and,
I just keep thinking about the love
That we had
I'm missin' you.
And nobody knows it
A week before Christmas...
None of them had quite sunken out of the blue funk that Tommy's death had put them into. It had traumatized them. Kimberly didn't remember hearing a single laugh since she'd arrived, and she'd been there for months! None of them wanted to sing Christmas carols. Not even Rocky. How could they? All they did nowadays was sing with the band that Zach and Aisha had formed.
"Sorry, I never told you
All I, wanted to say...
And now it's... too late to hold you
'Cause you've flown away...
So far awaaay..." Zach crooned
"Ne-ever, had I imagined,
Living, without your smiiile,
Feeling and knowing you heear me
It keeps me alive,
Aliiive!" Kimberly joined in.
The strains of music drifted everywhere.
Tommy sat on a rock as the music floated up to him. That was the only thing that came to him nowadays. He knew he was dead, but was this heaven, or hell?
He looked around him. There wasn't much to see, though the grass was a beautiful rich green, and it was full of lush green trees of no identifiable species. Every so often, there was a rock much like one of the ones at Stonehenge.
But it was so _lonely_, being dead. The only thing that could reach him was music, and only that sung by his friends. He'd had so much unfinished business down there...
[I shouldn't have taken the chicken's way out. Now I've left Jason to run the school by himself, and I've left Seelee, and I've let them all down. Especially Kim.]
"Come off it, man," he told himself aloud. "You haven't seen her for five years."
[But you still love her.] a little voice told him from inside.
"Yeah." he admittted. "I still love her. I think I always will."
[True love is forever.]
"Not when your true love is married to another guy."
That was the day that Tommy had killed himself: when he'd been surfing the 'Net, and he'd come upon a wedding bulletin board. He'd dreamed of the names there: Kimberly Anne Hart and Thomas Halkon Oliver. Except he'd opened his eyes, and the words Kimberly Anne Hart really _were_ there; only, her name was under the name of a man named David Roberts.
He punched a tree in pain. "Dammit!" he roared. "Snap out of it, man!"
[How can you 'snap out of it',] the logical part of his mind replied, [if you love her so much?]
"I don't know." Tommy moaned, dropping his face into his hands. "I don't know."
"And I know you're shining
Down on me from Heaven.
Like so many friends we've lost
Along the waaay.
And I know eventu'lly
We'll be together.
One sweet day..." all the Rangers sang.
Kimberly once more plumped to the floor and dropped her face into her hands. "I can't do this." she moaned. "I just can't do this. I miss him so much... I always miss him..."
"The pain never goes away." Silang murmured. "For all of us... it got a little better... but for you... you loved him. You were joined heart and soul. When he died... a part of you died with him. Your pain will never go away, because you loved him."
Kimberly reached up and squeezed Silang's hand which was on her shoulder. "You're so much like him. You're always the one who's right _there_ when she's needed, always the one to offer a few words of comfort... Oh, God, I miss him."
Silang was silent for a few seconds. "Do... do you really miss him... that much?"
"With all my heart." Kimberly swore fervently.
Silang was silent again. "I think... I might have a way... for you to see him." she began slowly.
"You mean his body." Kimberly said flatly. She had no wish to see the love of her life--she knew that now--lying cold and dead. She wanted to see him full of warm life, full of energy and happiness and emotion.
"No. I mean _him_. Halkon. Not his body. His spirit."
Kimberly stared at Silang. "What do you mean?"
"I can bring you to the Dream Fields." Silang said, quietly. "You can see Tommy. But you cannot stay for more than a few hours. Two, maybe I can keep you there for three. After that, I have to bring you back."
"Why?" asked Kimberly.
"Because the living are not for the Dream Fields." replied Silang. "Stay too long... you will get lost. The Dream Fields are for Rangers alone. There is a different Dream Field for every set of Rangers. They are... the borderline between reality and fantasy. Anything is possible, there."
"Why didn't _you_ go?" Kimberly asked, staring at Tommy's wide-eyed little sister.
"He is my brother." Silang said, simply. "Of course I did."
"A person can only go once, if she is only visiting. And she must be female and a Healer and Ranger all at once. Even so, it is dangerous."
"I don't care!" shrieked Kimberly back joyfully, coming to full realization of what Silang had said.
"There is one more thing... if you take a part of him back with you, then he _can_ come back with you."
"What?" asked Kimberly.
"Tommy is a Ranger. His body _is_ his soul. If you bring a part of him out with you, then he will live again."
"I don't get it. A part of him?" Kimberly asked, puzzled.
Silang gave her a little smile and a shrug.
"When can we do this?" asked Kimberly, excited.
"Tonight." replied Silang. "You have put yourself to sleep, and then I can send you there."
"Can I send someone there?" asked Kimberly. Silang smiled and shook her head sadly.
"No, your blood isn't concentrated enough for that." she replied.
"What?" asked Kimberly.
"I have no human blood at all, Kimberly." replied Silang. "The alien blood, the Selanian blood that I have in me, you have a tiny little amount of it. As does Tommy. That tiny little amount you have, though, has changed into Healer blood. So you can heal wounds and pain. But you will never be able to bridge death-gaps, change a mind, no, you need full Selanian Healer blood for that. That is how I know that my father was not human."
Kimberly nodded. Then she bounced happily. "You mean that I'll be able to see Tommy?"
Silang nodded. But she sobered. "Yes. Perhaps."
Kimberly promptly stopped bouncing. "What?"
"The Dream Fields are beautiful, Kim. I have been there. They are paradise, literally, where all Rangers can reap their reward. The only problem with the Dream Field Tommy is in is that he is alone."
"Most Rangers die in battle. It has been a very long time since evil was snuffed out. So when Rangers go to the Dream Fields, they go with their friends, with their lovers. But Tommy went alone."
"Poor Tommy." Kimberly murmured. "Poor, poor Tommy. You mean he'd be alone as long as all of us were still alive? And you weren't here"
"Poor Tommy." Silang echoed. "Until tonight. Then he will be happy for the rest of eternity."
"Hmm?" Kimberly said, a little goofy grin on her face. She'd been daydreaming, of course. Silang smiled and rolled her eyes.
"I said that after tonight, he will be happy for the rest of eternity."
"Are you not going to tell him of your love?"
"Of course!" Kimberly exclaimed.
"Then he will be happy." Silang concluded. She started to sing softly, and her voice was just as beautiful as any diva's. That she had an ear--and voice--for music was obvious.
"Darling, I never showed you.
Assumed you'd, always be there.
And I... I took you for granted
But I always cared...
And I miss the love we shared...
And I know you're shining down on me from Heaven.
Like so many friends we've lost along the waay.
And I know eventu'lly
We'll be together.
One sweet daay..."
"Right?" Silang asked.
"I guess so..." Kimberly could only hope that everything was as simple as Silang put it.
She lay in bed that night, trying desperately to go to sleep. But she couldn't sleep. She was too worried.
[What if he's angry with me? What if he doesn't love me anymore? What if--]
:Stop it, Kimberly.: Silang commanded. :You will never get to sleep if you do that. Think of Tommy. It will make your sleep easier.:
Kimberly thought. And day--night?--dreamed of Tommy's lips on hers once again, his strong arms holding her so gently, his long hair caressing her face and his shoulders.
She fell asleep with a smile on her face.
Silang looked at Kimberly, and sighed.
[Ang simple naman ang buhay niya. Yung mga kaibigan niya, si Tommy, at yung trabaho niya. Suwerte naman siya.*]
With that, she began to weave the Healer-magics that would bring Kimberly to the Dream Fields. She only hoped it would work...
Kimberly awoke, curled up on the thickest, softest bed of grass she'd ever lain upon. The sun was shining cheerily, warm but not hot, and she was surrounded by trees and grass and beauty. The perfectness of the place hit her like a stone through her temple.
"Wow." she murmured.
Not far away, she could see a white form resting against a dark rock, providing shade from the gentle warmth of the sun. Her heart jumped into her throat, choking away all further words, so happy was she.
[Oh, Tommy.] she sang in her heart. [Tommy Tommy Tommy Tommy!]
She sprang to her feet when a gentle wind whipped through her hair, cool and soft. She looked down. For some reason, she was wearing some soft, body-hugging dress, not-quite indecent, _very_ short, and _very_ sexy. It was white watered silk, with a high neckline, with a beautifully embroidered design of a firebird of deep pink, locking claws with a kestrel of silver, of course. It was as form-fitting as any gymnastic leotard, and it accented the length of her slim legs and the curve of her smooth body very much indeed.
"Urk." she gasped, looking downwards. "Oh my God."
She pulled the very high hemline down as far as she could, which only pushed the high Chinese neckline against her collarbone. She sighed.
[I can't face Tommy like this. He'll think I'm a slut!]
And as if by command, the hemline suddenly dropped about three inches. She sighed again, this time with relief. Then, with a deep breath for support, she started to lope towards the white figure leaning against a dark rock.
Tommy sighed. It was such a _beautiful_ day. Of course, it always _was_ beautiful here, but especially today, it made it wonderful to be alive. Dead. Whatever.
If it wasn't so _lonely_...
Tommy blinked. He blinked again. Then he stared.
He rubbed his eyes vigorously. "Whew. Tommy, must be hotter than you think, man! The sun's playin' tricks on your eyes!"
He could swear that he could see a little blurred white figure running towards him. And he/she had accents of pink on his/her clothing.
"Pink?" he thought aloud. "Oh, God. Kimberly. Oh, Kim. Dammit, I wish... wish I could see her once... just once... it would make my wait here so much easier..."
By this time, the little figure in white had neared considerably. Tommy's heart sank. He had known it couldn't be Kim... but now he was sure. Whoever it was, she--he was sure of that now, what guy would wear a dress?--was wearing a high-neck, _extremely_ short Chinese dress, with a hip-slit up the side. He couldn't quite make out the design, though. It looked familiar... but constantly eluded him. It was as if he couldn't fix his attention on it at all.
He looked down at his own white clothing. He had no idea why _he'd_ appeared in such a strange outfit, either. He hadn't worn a karate gi in years, not since he'd gained his first black belt. It was just... so... so... restricting, somehow, no matter how loose it was. He'd always just worn loose pants and a muscle shirt. And that design on the back of the gi he was wearing, too. How strange. A black-white tiger locking claws with a golden-silver falcon he had expected, but a green dragon twined around them he had not. He shrugged. That was a part of his life that would always be there, he just would rather have chosen not to be reminded of it constantly.
[I guess when you're dead, you haven't got many choices.]
"Tommy!" the figure breathed. Her face was haloed with soft clouds of wavy chestnut hair which gleamed with golden highlights in the soft sun. "Oh my God, Tommy!"
Tommy looked up, straight into beautiful huge brown eyes, as innocent and lovely as a fawn's. He gasped, and sprang to his feet. "K-k-Kim? Kimberly?"
He walked to her, wide-eyed. How could he have not recognized that design before? The kestrel and the firebird were sigils he knew as well as his own dragon, tiger and falcon. "Kim... what are you doing here? You're... you're not... no... you can't be..."
Kimberly looked at him, her eyes sparkling with unshed tears of sheer joy. She did not speak, but shook her head.
"You're... you're not dead? Then... how are you here?"
"Silang." Kimberly replied, softly. "Of course."
Tommy nodded in assent. "Of course."
Then he turned away.
Kimberly was hurt. [I thought that he wanted to see me. I thought--]
Her thoughts were cut off by Tommy's words, thrown over his shoulder. "Oh, by the way, congrats on your wedding."
Kimberly suddenly felt like she wanted to die. She ran to him. "Oh, God. Tommy... oh Tommy, I'm so sorry..."
"Don't be." Tommy replied, gruffly. "I'm happy for you."
"Yeah. I'm sure." Kimberly replied. And she knew that he probably _was_ happy that she'd found someone right for her. Of course, what he _didn't_ know was that that man was _him_. "Then why do I feel that you've been crying?"
It was true. His voice was a faint shadow of its former glory. He'd lost weight, and there were dark marks under his eyes. His arms and legs were still as muscled as ever--he'd been teaching, he couldn't shirk that--but there was no joy in his eyes.
[Oh, God.] Kimberly moaned. [I did this to him. I killed him inside. I've got to make up for it... got to... no telling how he'll react...]
"I have." he replied, just as gruffly.
"I'm sorry, Tommy." she told him, simply.
"I know." Tommy replied. "But sorrys don't change anything."
He didn't _sound_ angry... but Kimberly could see how tense he was, in the stiff way he held his head, in the taut curve of his biceps, and the muscles she could see moving in his powerful legs.
[Oh, no. He's mad at me, he's mad at me. And he's got every right to be. I chickened out. I ran away, went to college, got married. Sure, normal, everyday procedure for an American teenage girl, but not for a teenager who's got someone who loves her waiting for her all the while.]
She padded up to him softly, and stood in front of him, gazing up into his eyes. He staunchly refused to look her in the face, and stared at a point somewhere above her head.
[I knew it. He's mad.]
"Tommy..." Kimberly murmured, "Are you mad at me?"
"N..n..n..." Tommy began, then he sighed. "Yeah. Yeah, I guess I am."
[But it doesn't keep me from loving you all the same.] he thought.
"I'm sorry." she said in an extremely small, cracking voice. Then she threw her arms around him, and he felt her shake.
Only then did Kimberly realize that Tommy was as solid as reality itself, and not the least intangible. She could feel the smooth ripple of muscle in his arms, legs and chest, and the deliciously soft warmth emanating from him.
With an ache in his heart, Tommy realized that she was crying. And that _he_ was the one who was making her cry. He could _never_ hurt her, he had promised himself that. And here she was, crying, because of him. _That_, he hadn't the heart to resist. He wrapped his powerful arms around her, as he had so many years before, and rocked her gently, crooning to her in a soft voice.
"Shh... shh... don't cry, Kimmie." he murmured softly. Her close proximity to his body, the soft strawberry scent of her hair, was re-awakening something in him that he didn't quite want to happen, and he tried his best to stifle it. He was not successful at all, and the hardness in the lower regions of his gi refused to go away. He buried his face into her soft, soft hair, as gentle as a ray of light after a winter storm, and crooned to her again.
"Tommy... it's been so hard without you..." she cried. "Since I ran away... and met David... and I got married..." She felt Tommy's entire body stiffen at that, but she went on. "Tommy... I've been miserable. I should have never left Angel Grove."
"Of course you're not miserable. You're probably happy." Tommy replied softly. "You're better off with your h-h-husband," he finally managed to get the word out, "_whoever_ he is. I mean, you probably have a nice house, he's probably a rich, handsome guy... and you two probably have a troop of kids running around, right?"
Kimberly pressed against him harder. "You're... you're not all wrong. We... we do have a nice house... David _is_ handsome... but we're not rich, David's a football coach, I'm a clothes designer... and we most certainly do _not_ have a troop of kids running around!"
Tommy gave a sad little chuckle, pushing her away and holding her at arm's length. "One or two, then?"
Kimberly shook her head mutely.
"Well, you certainly _tried_, didn't you?" Tommy chuckled, even more mournfully.
Kimberly gave him a nonplussed look. "Very funny."
Tommy raised his eyebrows at her, trying his best to make the blood rushing to his cheeks go somewhere else. "Well, you _did_, if I know you."
"For your information," she replied, "no, I _didn't_. Not even once."
Tommy cocked his head at her. There was something that she had never _needed_ to see in his eyes before, and it made her even more aware of him, what he'd done for her, and who he was.
It was hope. A tiny little spark of hope.
"Why not?" he asked.
"Because," she replied, "I told you I was miserable. I didn't have any friends, David... well, to put it plainly, David is as stupid as Bulk and Skull, in his own way, and besides... there's just nothing _there_."
"I don't understand." Tommy said, softly.
"There's nothing there for David and me. I never loved him. I never have. I just _thought_ I did."
The hope spark was quickly growing into a flame in Tommy's eyes.
"Tommy... um... I don't really know how to say this... but when David was looking at me... across the altar... I could see _you_."
Tommy reached out and touched her cheek with the palm of his hand, rough with work and stress. Kimberly pressed it against her warm cheek, and started pressing kisses into his palm. "Oh God. Tommy Oliver, I love you. I've always loved you. I know now that I always will."
Tommy felt like his heart was bursting with joy. And it was. You would never have seen a happier, more shocked, and apprehensive expression on his face. "Oh, geez. Kimmy... Jesus Christ... I love you too... I always have... But... but what about... your husband? I won't let you leave him... that would hurt him worse..." he trailed off. But Kimberly could see the streamer end of his sentence. What Tommy had decided not to say was "than what you did to me." And it was true. He was right.
"Tommy, Tommy, it's too late for that." Kimberly told him simply.
Tommy looked at her with furrowed eyebrows. "You _left_ your _husband_?!"
"No, no," Kimberly hastened to explain. "He thinks I'm dead. Silang's doing."
"But isn't that just as bad as lying to him?" Tommy asked, sadly. Kimberly knew that if he could find out a way, Tommy would send her back to her husband, no matter the pain to himself. And it made her love him even more.
"No. It's true."
"What?!" Tommy expostulated, staring at her. "You're _dead_? I thought you said--"
"No." she hastened to explain. "I'm only here for a few hours. _I'm_ not dead. But Kimberly Anne Roberts is."
"Kimberly Anne _Roberts_? Oh." Tommy said, understanding. "Oh."
"Oh, is right." she agreed. "Now shut up and kiss me."
"At your command, my lady." Tommy replied with a silly little grin on his face. He neared her, and took her into his arms gingerly, as if she was a dream that might mist away at any moment. Gently, he traced the soft planes of her face with the tip of his finger, caressing her eyes with his own. "You're beautiful." he said, just out of the blue.
Kimberly's heart filled with renewed love for Tommy. His soft black-golden hair brushed against her cheeks like the touch of an angel, mixing with her own chestnut locks. And as he bent down and pressed his lips against her own, holding her head to his with one gentle hand, and the other encircling her slim waist, she was in heaven.
He'd never given her such a passionate, loving kiss before, not even after she'd 'come back from the dead' after the trials they had gone through for their powers.
[Well,] Kimberly thought, in a little corner of her mind that wasn't involved with him, [We were never separated for five years before, either. Imagine what he's had to go through, knowing that I'm somewhere, probably married with a bunch of kids. I owe him, just for waiting for me.]
Gently, she prodded with her soft tongue at his lips, and obligingly, he parted them to accept her. Their tongues mixed in a double kiss of love.
"MmMmMm." Kimberly moaned into Tommy's mouth. He pressed the kiss harder, then she broke it as she suddenly ran out of air.
"Oh, Tommy." she sighed, softly, a scant centimeter from his face, her soft, warm, breath kissing his neck. "I love you."
"I love you, too, Kimmy." Tommy replied, gazing down into her soft chocolate eyes. "Oh, man, how I've missed you."
Kimberly turned away. In the soft reality that was this place, she'd forgotten something. She'd forgotten that Tommy was dead... and she was alive. "Tommy... I... I can't stay."
"I understand." he replied. Where she had forgotten, he had not. He could _never_ forget.
Kimberly turned back to him with a whirl. She reached out hungrily for his lips. He met them again with his own soft mouth. Again, they kissed with all the passion they could muster.
Again, they held on as long as they could until they ran out of air.
"Tommy..." Kimberly murmured. "Love me."
"I already do." he replied, uncomprehending.
"No." she purred. "_Love_ me."
Tommy understood. He backed off. "Oh, God... Kimmy... We can't. I'm dead... you're alive. I love you... but _that_'ll have to wait until you can join me..."
"I don't care!" she replied hotly. "I don't care. Please..." she begged with huge eyes.
Tommy sighed. [Come on, man! You know you want to!] his less-than-perfectly-pure side told him. He swatted it away.
[But it's not _right_.] he replied. [You love her... but you always promised that you'd be married before you...]
"Kimmie... I wish I could..." he started to say
"I love you." she interrupted him quietly. "I love you."
Again, she tiptoed to join his mouth with hers. Again, they kissed. Tommy was torn by indescision. His body was telling him to go for it, but he had learned long ago to ignore his own needs in favor of his training and other things. His conscience was screaming at him not to.
Suddenly, his heart decided to take a stand.
[If you love her, what can be the wrong?] it asked. [How can a spirit impregnate another? It is not possible, correct? Then you are doing it for love of her.]
That clinched it. He took Kimberly into his arms in a tight, tight hug, and lavished her face with kisses. Gently, he kissed her right ear, right before he murmured into it. "Yes. Always. Now and forever."
As softly as he could, he took her into his arms and lowered her to the plush, warm grass, already starting to kiss his way down her neck...
"Although the sun will shine the same
It'll always look down on brighter daays.
Lord, I know,
When I lay me down to sleep...
You will always listen,
As I pray!"
Kimberly sighed comfortably as she traced the planes of Tommy's quiet face with the tips of her forefingers. He was sleeping--he'd completely exhausted himself--but she wasn't, though she was careful not to move, as they were both wrapped in the loose folds of his gi. She was just too happy to sleep.
It had been wonderful, and not even a fraction as painful as she had been informed 'first times' normally were. In fact, she couldn't really remember anything painful about it at all. Tommy was as gentle a lover as he was a love. Tenderly, she ran her fingers along the smooth, muscular lines of his chest and stomach. She sighed again happily, this time louder, and jumped as Tommy's eyes flicked open and he spoke. "Something wrong, Kimmy?" he asked, anxiously. "I didn't... I didn't _hurt_ you, did I?"
"No, no, of course you didn't." she reassured him. He relaxed a little. "I thought you were asleep!" she exclaimed.
He pretended to look hurt. "Hmmph." he humphed. "I've gone through a lot of karate competitions longer than _that_, and I could still walk away."
"Nothing as _tiring_ as that, though!" Kimberly teased, poking him in the side.
"Well. And there is that." Tommy admitted. He took her into his arms again and kissed her forehead. "Maybe it's just because it's you, my beautiful little fireball! Who would have thought such a little person would have so much energy?"
"Very funny." Kimberly said, wryly kissing him back with all the love she could muster.
Then, suddenly, she started to crackle with pink energy. She sprang to her feet with a cry, and Tommy followed as fast as he could.
"Kimmy!" Tommy exclaimed, horrified. "What's happening?"
"I don't know!" she replied. Then she remembered. "Oh, no! That's right! I can only stay here so long before Silang has to bring me back!"
Tommy grabbed her right hand. He pressed a kiss into her palm, and folded her fingers around it. "Keep that until we can be together again." he murmured softly. "Wait for me."
Kimberly only had time to smile gently at him and nod before she disappeared.
Kimberly sat up in bed. The room was dark... the clock read three o' clock. Her right hand was clenched in a fist, her hair was in a complete disarray, and Aisha and Trini were by the bed. "Kim!" Trini exclaimed. "You've been tossing and turning since midnight! Was it a nightmare?"
"I don't think so." Aisha replied with a slight smile. "I heard noises coming from here that were making the guys very... uncomfortable."
"A dream." Kimberly sighed. "It was all just a dream."
She slumped back to the pillows. "What is it, Kim?" asked Trini softly. "What's wrong?"
"I dreamed... about Tommy. That I told him I loved him. And that we... and then, right before I faded out, he told me to wait for him."
Kimberly wiped tears away. It had all been so _real_, so real indeed. She could believe that it actually happened.
Silang paced into the room with the grace of a snow leopard. She looked haggard and tired, as if she hadn't gotten so much as a wink of sleep in the past three hours.
"Seelee... was it real?" Kimberly asked.
"Was _what_ real?" asked Silang.
"Tommy. What we did."
"Oh, Kim." Silang sighed. "I told you. They are the _Dream_ Fields. What happened to them, if it is real or not, cannot be known. I do not know what you did there, nor do I know if it really happened or not. I sent you there, yes, but I have no way of knowing whether I sent you to a totoong mundo--real world-- or a place that is likha ng isip--imaginary."
Kimberly looked at the girl in shock. "But... so... it didn't really happen?"
Silang shook her head gravely. "I do not know. It could have happened..."
"...but it also might have just been my imagination." Kimberly finished.
Silang nodded with a sigh.
Kimberly plopped her head down on the pillow, and started to cry again. His lips on hers... his body pressed against her... the soft touch of his gentle hands... it had all made her miss him all the more.
"Wait for me." he'd said. How could she wait, when it had all been a dream?
From an outdoor late-night party, she could hear a voice singing the same song she herself had been singing.
"And I know you're shining down on me from Heaven.
Like so many friends we've lost along the wa-ay.
And I know eventu'lly we'll be together...
One sweet day..."
*Her life is so simple. Her friends, Tommy, and her job. She's so lucky.
"Pasko na, sinta ko
Hanap, hanap kita
Bakit nag tatampo't?
The song floated in from the other room, mournful and sweet, in the soft soprano of a teenage girl. Silang, of course. Kimberly sighed, wrapping gifts. The only way she knew the lilting, glum song was a Christmas song was the word 'pasko' floating around somewhere. Otherwise, the song was as mournful as any threnody. It was the day before Christmas. What a time to be depressed.
Of course, it wasn't just her. Not even young Silang had laughed lately. _Especially_ Silang, who had always been so happy. She hadn't even reacted this badly when her mother had died. Perhaps because her mother had been so childish, even irresponsible. Tommy, she had related to: the half-brother of her blood, and she had taken him into her heart.
And he was dead. Even now, Silang still sang songs for him. Kimberly had no doubts that that dirge was for her brother.
Kimberly missed him even more lately, ever since that one lovely night -- was it a dream? She didn't know. She couldn't tell-- where she'd seen Tommy... and gone so far as to...
She shook the thought away. That night--day?--was sacred to her thoughts--she never wanted to forget it-- but she hadn't wanted to remember it, either. It made her love him all the more. And she knew that he would never come back. Which made it _hurt_ all the more.
"Kimberly." Silang greeted dully. She glided into the room silently. Just like Tommy would have. She flicked an unruly strand of dark curls over her right shoulder. "Wrapping presents?"
Silang's dark beauty had changed since Kimberly had met her. Where she'd been bubbly and cheerful 'cheerleader' type before, now she was the sleek, sultry beauty that was sure to attract many suitors.
"He's not coming back, is he, Seelee." Kimberly replied, not in the least fooled by Silang's partially-cheerful prescence. The song that she had been singing was a reflection on how she really felt.
Silang sighed. "I do not know, Kimberly. I do not think so."
"I still love him." Kimberly moaned a little, dropping the package gently. It was wrapped all in yellow--a gift for Trini--and it didn't make a sound as it plunged to the rug.
"We all do." Silang replied, quietly. Even though Kimberly was older--by five years!--Silang was still the senior Healer. She'd been a Healer all her life. Kimberly had only been a Healer for a few months. Which was probably why Silang was so uncommonly wise. Even when she'd been thirteen, she'd had a way of putting things into the clear. Now, at eighteen, she'd perfected that skill to a point. "We always will. He would not blame us for clinging to him as we do. Too many battles were fought, too many little wars won, too many trials faced, all of them together, to let us let go of him so easily to himself."
"I know." Kimberly sighed. "When I was still with David... I used to dream at night of coming back to Angel Grove. I always pushed them to the back of my mind and pretended I was happy, but at night, I'd always dream that I would come back to Angel Grove, and everything would be the same. Everything would be perfect."
"Your life before was not perfect." Silang reminded her solemnly.
"No, it wasn't." Kimberly agreed. "We had to fight Rita and Zedd and Ivan Ooze and God-only-knows what else. But Tommy was still alive then, we were still in High School, and life was good."
Silang could only capitulate when faced with those words.
"Kim? You in there?" Rocky poked his head into the door.
"I'm here, Rocky." she answered.
"Mail for you." he replied, in a very... strange voice.
"Kung mawawala ka
Sa piling ko, sinta,
Paano ang paskong,
I lulila mo."
Silang's voice drifted in from the other room, where she'd gone as soon as Rocky had entered. Almost as if she'd known he was coming in.
With Silang, it was hard to tell.
Tommy sat against the rock in... wherever he was. He sighed. There was nothing to do here... no one to talk to.
Except for that one day--or was it night?--when he'd fallen asleep for some reason. And he'd dreamed... dreamed of him and Kimberly, joined together on the soft grass. Not so much a 'naughty' dream... but more a sweet dream. He'd dreamed of a confession of love, of passionate, ardent kisses, of soft hands streaming their way through his hair...
He looked off into the sunset. [It was so real.] he thought. [So, so real. Like she was really here. I can remember everything she said... everything she did... every little detail of her. But... did it happen? Can I dream here?]
Tommy concluded that he could. He knew Kim would never do anything like that.
[Leave her husband?] he scoffed. [Shyeha right. She'd never do that.]
Some little voice in his head reminded him. [That's part of the reason why you love her.]
He looked off into the sunset. [Stupid boy. Stupid, stupid, stupid. You're livin' in the past, man. Livin' in a dream. Snap out of it. You're dead. She's not.]
:You love her, Tommy. You love Kimberly. I have no doubts that you will carry that precious love with you throughout eternity.:
Tommy leapt up. It had been years since there was another voice in his head besides his own. He knew that voice... knew it too well. He'd only known her for a few days... but he recognized without a doubt who that voice belonged to.
[K-k-Kelane?] he gasped.
A gold-haloed shadow drifted in from the setting sun, landing as softly as a cloud's whisper before him. Despite the suspiciousness of this, Tommy was not alarmed at all. The gentle nature emanating from the shadow-woman pacified him as surely as Kim's touch would have.
"Hello, my son." Kelane greeted softly. Despite the fact there was no breeze, her mane of long curls, so like Silang's, drifted around her as if zephyrs ran through it. She was dressed all in wispy gold.
"Mother." Tommy whispered.
"It's time to come home." she told him gently. "You saw Kimberly... now it's time to go back to where you're supposed to be."
"It... it... it wasn't a dream?"
"Maybe it wasn't. Maybe it was." Kelane told him softly. "But dreams can be as real as reality is illusionary. Come home, Tommy."
"But... but the others..."
"They can take care of themselves. Your time in the Plains of Beyond is done. You have dreamed as you were meant to. You have lived your life. It was your choice to end it. Come home--"
"But... but..." Tommy interrupted.
"--or will I have to drag you there?" Kelane finished, smiling widely. Tommy had to smile right along with her.
"All right." he sighed. "All right. Just... what day is it, there, down on Earth?"
"The day before Christmas, my son." Kelane replied. "A day when the powers of Good are most concentrated. A day of wishes, of magic."
"So," Tommy began, excited, "if someone were to wish I was back... I'd be back?"
Kelane bit her lip and sighed sadly. "There are very few Powers in the world that can bring one back from the dead, my son. Come with me."
"Is Kimberly there?"
"Perhaps. You aren't going to Heaven, you know. You're not going to Hell, either." she added hastily as Tommy looked worried. "You're going... someplace else."
There was something in Tommy's eyes that hadn't been there for years--not since Kimberly had left him. Not love, no, that had been seen many times.
Trust. Pure, sweet trust...
She extended her hand out to Tommy, who took it gingerly, and followed her into the halo of golden light that extended to fill them both. Then, slowly, it faded out... and they were gone.
"Sayang, sinta, ang sinumpaan.
At pagtitingi nang tunay!
Nais mo bang, kalimutan ganap
Ang ating suyuan at... galak!"
Silang sang on.
"That song's really starting to depress me." Aisha murmured. She was in the kitchen with a lot of the others, cooking their dinner for the night. Even though they really didn't feel like celebrating,
"But it really does say how we all feel." Adam muttered back. His dark, Korean eyes had lost their pretty shine after Tommy's death, and he'd lost weight. Quite a _lot_ of weight, actually. On a normal day, he picked at his food, and half the time Trini had to practically stuff it down his throat. "I looked it up. It's a Christmas love song, for someone who's gone."
"Yeah." Trini agreed glumly. "Thing's aren't just the same without Tommy. I mean... he really was one of us."
"Just... forget it." Adam started. He looked even more down then before.
"You were really close to him, weren't you, Adam." asked Aisha softly.
"We were all close to him, Isha." Jason added, softly. "He never hid anything from anyone... unless he thought it would hurt someone else. In his own way, he was as friendly as... well, as Kim."
"Guys..." Rocky said in a very strange voice. "I think you should see this."
Kimberly was kneeling on the floor in a not-quite kowtow position, sobbing her heart out. Laying beside her was a sheet of white paper edged regally in gold. It was a man's stationary, that much was obvious, but whose? Silang crouched beside her, patting her head softly and murmuring in her ear. Nothing, however, could comfort her. She simply shrugged off Silang's ministrations and kept on crying.
"What _is_ that?" asked Adam. It would take something very disturbing indeed to make Kim cry like that. "Is it from her parents, or something? Did her... mother, or one of her relatives... die?"
"No." said Aisha, picking up the note with disgust. "Who would be sicko enough to write something like this?"
"I know. It _is_ cruel." Trini agreed. "But... who?"
"I don't know about that, guys." Adam said, quietly. "Who knows that Kim's here? There aren't a whole lot of people. This worries me."
<I know.> Kethry answered. <Me, too. This seems _way_ too much like something that... that Zedd or Ivan Ooze would do.>
They looked down on the note.
"My dearest Kimberly,
I love you. I always will. Please, forgive me for doing what I did... if I hurt you, in leaving you, and in other ways, I'm sorry... please don't hold it against me. Wait for me.
With all the love I have,
"Seelee," Kadiya began, "Is there any way--any chance at all--that this really _was_ from... another world? Past death? Really from Tommy?"
Silang shook her head. Tears were starting in her own eyes. "If... if only that could be. No... I felt Tommy leave for... the next world... a few minutes ago."
All of them stared at her. "What?"
"He was in the Plains of Beyond before." Silang said, quietly weeping. "Now... he has joined Ina... and all those who have finished what they meant to do..."
"Kung mawawala ka
Sa piling ko, sinta,
Paano ang pasko
Alay ko, sayo." she whispered
Epilogue: You're Still My Man
"On the day that I left you,
You said you had no regrets.
There's a bond between us
That hasn't been broken yet.
And the feelings between us
Will never disappear
How can you be far away,
When your spirit's here?"
Kimberly plopped down on her bed. Christmas Eve--no, it was one o'clock. Christmas.--and she was sadder than she'd ever been in her life.
She hadn't been able to enjoy the sumptuous meal the other Rangers had cooked: roast turkey, stuffing, Chinese ham, peas, corn, the works. And all of them had done nothing but pick at their food. It was their relatives-- their parents, their friends--who had gobbled up most of the goodies.
Kimberly sighed and reached for the paper by her bedside.
"My dearest Kimberly," it read. " I love you. I always will. Please, forgive me for doing what I did... if I hurt you, in leaving you, and in other ways, I'm sorry... please don't hold it against me. Wait for me.With all the love I have, Tommy."
[Tommy, was this really from you?] one side of her asked. [From somewhere on the other side of life? Do you miss me, wherever you are?]
[Tommy's dead.] she moaned in reply to her own fanciful question, not for the first time. [He's dead.]
Silang plodded into the room, as if her eighteen-year-old presence had been summoned by that thought. She bobbed her pretty head with black-gold curls in assent. "He is gone, Kimberly."
"He's dead. There's a difference." Kimberly said dully.
"Yes, there is a difference. No, he is not dead. No one can be dead, as long as there are those who remember them, those who love them. If there are none left to praise his name and his deeds, none left to love his memory, then he is dead. Until then, Tommy-Halkon lives on in our hearts."
"Yes." Kimberly agreed. Silang's talent of putting things in perspective was amazing. "But he's not here, with _us_. It doesn't matter if his spirit's here or not. A spirit can't talk, can't touch, can't laugh."
"But a spirit can love." Silang told her softly. "Think about that. Maligayang Pasko, Kimberly. Maligayang Pasko. I will see you in the morning."
"Maligayang Pasko, Silang." Kimberly repeated softly. "Seeya."
Silang eased the door shut.
Kimberly lay awake for a long, long time after that. The minutes on her alarm clock ticked away like seconds. From outside, she could hear the sweet sounds of lovers' murmurs.
[If I hadn't been so stupid,] Kimberly thought with a pang in her heart. [That could be me. That could be me and Tommy.]
She stared outside the window. Above the trees, there shone a single star. It seemed to grow in her vision, filling her thoughts with light.
[Is that... is that you, my love?] she asked, yearningly. [Is that a message from you, from far away? Are you happy?]
There was no reply from the star, which simply twinkled with its unnatural golden-blue-mingled-with-other-colours light.
[That must be the star that led the Wise Men to Jesus in Bethlehem.] Kimberly thought quietly in awe. [The very same star.]
She got up from her bed and sat on the windowsill. [Where are you, my free Falcon?] Kimberly asked to the open sky. [Are you happy, wherever you are? Have you found anyone else, to replace me, up in Heaven, or wherever you are?]
As if in reply, a song started playing in a house nearby.
"You're still my man.
Nothing can change it.
We still belong together
You're still my man.
Nothing can change it.
Our love will last forever."
Kimberly sighed and settled down for a long, cold night, alone in bed, and alone in her heart.
Trini snuggled into Adam's side.
"Adam, darling," Trini murmured, softly. "Merry Christmas."
"It's just not the same." her husband responded. "Without--"
Trini put a soft finger to his lips to keep him from speaking. "Shh." she told him, gently. "He's gone, Adam. You know how miserable he was without Kim here. He's probably happier wherever he is. And you know she would have never come back if he hadn't... died. She was a married woman. Sometimes you have to lose something to know that you loved it."
"Like Kim. But... but no one deserves to be hurt like that, to feel pain like that. It broke her, to find out that Tommy was dead. When's the last time you heard her laugh, or saw her smile? Bouncy, optimistic, joy-of-life Kimberly? Not any more. The only reason she hangs on is that it would kill Silang to have both her 'Kuya' and her 'Ate' dead."
"And it broke Tommy," Adam replied, "when Kim didn't want to marry him. What happened to our proud, gentle leader who was always the first to greet someone, the first to smile? I don't know how he hung on for so long."
"He had hope." came a soft voice from the door. "Hope can make or break a life, Adam. No matter how small the flame, as long as it is burning, one can hang on to life. Once the flame has died..." she trailed off.
"Silang." Adam said, softly sitting up in bed. "Aren't you supposed to be asleep?"
"No." Silang replied. "Tonight is the night that the Selanian Star rises. I would like to see where it leads."
"The Selanian Star?" asked Trini, puzzled. Her undergraduate major had been astronomy, and she'd never heard of any such thing.
"You call it the Star of Bethlehem." Silang told her gently.
"Seelee," Trini replied just as gently, "The Star of Bethlehem is a story, a myth."
Silang pointed mutely out the window. And there was a star, directly in the view of the window. But it didn't glow with the white-blue light that most giant stars let off. In fact, it shimmered with all colors of the rainbow, and more.
"Red, black, green, white, blue, yellow, pink." Trini said softly, not even aware of it.
"Opal, tiger's eye, amethyst, agate, amber." Adam monotoned.
"And brass, bronze, copper, silver, gold, and platinum." Silang agreed. "Now do you believe me?"
"It's beautiful." Trini admitted, dazed. "But... doesn't it lead to Bethlehem?"
"No." Silang shook her head. "Once, it did, at the birth of Him who you call Jesus Christ. But the Star goes where it will, and it leads the spirits where they are supposed to go. I will be on the roof if you need me."
Adam nodded, stunned.
With that, Silang disappeared out the door.
"And the seasons of our love
Will always change, I know.
Maybe that's the reason
I felt I had to go.
But then, I found I'm missing you.
Darling, I know you too well.
There's a magic between us
And no one can break the spell."
Kimberly murmured along with the radio.
Much later that day...
Kimberly sighed as she opened another gift, and thanked Jason and Kadiya for the beautiful dress. It _was_ beautiful: much like the dress she had worn to the prom with Tommy, just in silk: pale-pink, floor-length, off-the shoulder, and it clung to her body to the hips and swung loose to the floor. Just... who would she wear it for?
They were all sort of down. Christmas just... wasn't the same, anymore. For them, it wasn't a time of joy and life. It was a time for mourning.
"Come on." Trini sighed. "It's almost midnight. We'd better get to sleep."
"Not yet." Silang said, determinedly looking out the window. The Star of Bethlehem--Selanian Star--could no longer be seen. It had moved above their house, just as if it was perching there. "You have not opened my present yet, Kimberly."
But Kimberly didn't hear her. She was humming, softly, and gently. Almost as if she had suddenly been caught and thrown into another world.
"You're still my man.
Nothing can change it.
We still belong together.
You're still my man.
Nothing can change it.
Our love will last forever."
"Kim." Trini murmured, shaking her friend's shoulder gently. Kimberly stopped humming with a start, and whirled to see Trini.
"Seelee was talking to you." Trini told her gently.
Kimberly turned to Silang with bleary eyes. "Uh-huh?"
Silang mutely held out the gift. Kimberly unwrapped it and opened the box--
And suddenly, for the first time that day, her eyes cleared.
She shook out the piece of silk.
"How pretty!" Aisha admired softly. And it was. In fact, it was a work of art all in itself. "Did you make this yourself?"
It was evident that the dress had not been made by human hands. No person could have made stitches that smooth and exquisite, nor a design so perfect that it seemed almost part of the cloth.
No _human_ person.
Kimberly just trembled. Finally, she found the voice to speak again. "S...s..silang... where did you... where..."
"did I find the pattern?" asked Silang softly. "Or the style of the dress? In a dream, Ate Kimberly. In a dream."
Kimberly shook out the dress again. It was a short, Chinese-style high-necked dress made of white Chinese silk. On it were the designs of a kestrel embroidered in a silver thread finer than any human could weave, who was claw-locked with a firebird done up in pink strands so thin that they seemed like the webs of a spider.
"Oh... Seelee..." Kimberly moaned. "How could you... how could you know... how could you have known..."
"Known what, Ate Kimberly?" asked Silang, puzzlement evident in her amandine eyes.
"Oh, God... Seelee, when you... when you sent me... when you sent me to the... the Dream Fields... this is... Oh, God... this is what I was wearing..."
Silang gave a gasp. "Ay nako, hindi ko inalam! I am sorry, I did not know! I did not mean... I did not think that... Ay!"
Kimberly started to sob, clutching the cloth to her chest and doubling over. "I... I miss Tommy." she wailed. Silang ran to her and cuddled her, as little sisters do, mingling her tears with Kimberly's, when suddenly, someone knocked on the door.
"I'll... I'll get it." Adam stammered, backing out of the room. Sorrow had always made him uncomfortable, even his own, and the deep and profound sorrow of losing someone loved was beyond his tolerance of 'comfortable'.
[I suppose... I'd feel that way... if Trini died... I loved Tommy... all of us did... but... he's gone... and he's probably happier... wherever he is...]
Adam opened the door with a bleary "Merry Christmas." The only thing he saw was a flash of light before he fainted.
"I'll wait for you.
The thought that keeps me going each day.
Is I believe, you still love me.
I love you more than words can say." Kimberly murmured through her tears.
From the other room, all of them heard Adam's body hit the floor. Kethry sprang to her feet, having lost none of her speed in her years not a Power Ranger. Silang and Trini were already sprinting to the door , with Aisha and the men close behind them.
Kethry stopped dead and dropped to the floor as soon as she arrived at the door. Dirk caught her, and without looking at the door to see what had so frightened his wife, started to pat her cheeks to awaken her. Trini fainted dead away the moment she looked out the door. Jason and Billy turned the white of corpses, while Zach and Rocky collapsed. Aisha stared, and her cocoa-colored skin turned the shade of over-milked coffee. She sank to the floor.
Only Silang remained standing, and even she looked like she had turned several shades whiter, her golden skin becoming a shade of cream.
"Ikaw ba iyan, kapatid? Ikaw ba yan, talaga?" she whispered.
"Ako ito, Silang. Nandito na ako." the person at the door replied. Aisha pinched herself several times to make sure she wasn't dreaming as the person stepped into the light. For some strange reason, he looked behind him before he stepped on the threshold, almost as if expecting someone to be there.
"Where's Kim?" Tommy asked.
Jason sat up, only to gasp. "T...t...Tommy..."
Dirk looked up, and his peaches-and-cream complexion became just plain cream. "Shit." he groaned. "Now I _know_ I'm dreaming. Must have had too much champagne at dinner today! Someone pinch me, quick!"
"Dirk?" Tommy said, softly. "Silang? Guys? Damn, now I _know_ I'm in Paradise!"
"You are not, Kuya." Silang said, quietly. "If you were, no doubt we would welcome you with open arms, hugs and kisses. Here, we welcome you with tears and shock. You have been dead for over a year now."
Tommy sighed and looked resigned. "I know." he told her remorsefully. "I took the chicken way out. I could have hung on."
"You could not have done anything." Silang replied. "You did not know what you could have done. If you had, Kimberly would never have left her husband and returned to the arms of her friends."
Zach looked up and stared at Tommy, bleary-eyed. "Tommy... shit, man, I'm seein' a bloody ghost?"
Tommy offered his hand to his darker comerade. He held out a hand to help him up. Zach reached up gingerly and touched Tommy's hand, finding it as warm and solid as life itself. He grasped it, and Tommy pulled him to his feet.
"Does that feel like the hand of a ghost?" Tommy asked. Zach clasped his hand, then pulled the taller boy into him in a bearhug.
"Agghh!" Tommy moaned, jokingly.
The others, who had revived (except for Rocky, who had taken a second look at Tommy and had dropped to the ground again), were in tears of absolute joy. Their friend had come back from the dead. They all gathered around him to touch him and to hug him. Heartfelt emotions poured from their very souls and out of their every pore. Everything was in a joyful chaos.
Finally, when all had convinced themselves that Tommy was not a dream, was alive again, they asked him what happened.
Tommy's eyes became guarded. He looked away. "Seelee... you tell them." he asked quietly.
Silang shook her head. "I am sorry, Kuya Tommy. It is your story. Purge it from you, it is the only way to heal the wounds on your soul, to expel the poison from them."
"O...O.K." he agreed reluctantly. "I was at Billy's house, O.K? I'd brought my katana with me, just for self-defense--I wasn't planning anything--to scare off muggers and stuff. I was surfing the 'net, and for some reason, I had the urge right then to just look up 'wedding'. Well, I found what I was looking for. A wedding bulletin board. I could just imagine the names on it."
His voice grew further, more distant, as if he was talking through another person's lips and wasn't used to it. His tenor comment grew cracked. "Oh God, I don't know what I was doing. I was daydreaming, kind of. I was thinking of 'Kimberly Anne Hart' and 'Tommy Oliver' on that board. So I was curious. I opened my eyes... and there, on the board, were the names Kimberly Anne Hart... and David Roberts."
With that, Tommy's tears ran down his cheeks with shameless abandon.
"I... I... I couldn't... I couldn't take it. Kim... she... she _couldn't_ be... be married to... another guy. Never. She'd promised me, that she loved me... I believed her. So I took out my katana... I was only... only going to go through a few katas... clear my mind... make myself forget I had ever seen it... too late... it was burned into my soul... before I knew it..."
He'd stopped there. He didn't need to go on. They all knew what had gone after that.
"Your story is not finished yet, Kuya." Silang told him softly. "Go on."
"What?" he asked, bewildered. "There's nothing more to tell!"
"I mean, tell them of the Dream Fields. Of your salvation. Why you returned."
Tommy stared at her. So did everyone else in the room. Jason's face was flushed red with anger. "You..." Jason growled at his adopted daughter, "You... you _knew_."
Silang just stared him in the eyes. No matter her open manner, her pretty features, it was at times like this that one remembered that Silang, no matter how old she was, no matter how sweet she was, was not human at all. Her eyes flashed gold at Jason. Jason couldn't take the golden almond-eyed gaze. It was like trying to stare down a tiger that was seriously contemplating eating you. He looked away.
"I knew." Silang agreed. "To a certain extent. I knew that Tommy had gone from the Dream Fields. I knew that the Selanian Star was at the peak of its rising _above this house_. So it must have been leading a spirit _here_. I did not know that it was Tommy."
With that, she pounced on him, as she had done five years ago, the day he had asked Kimberly to marry him.
The thought jarred him back. He was home. He was happy. He was with all his friends.
But where was Kimberly?
Silang looked at him, having dropped out of 'glomp' mode, and took his large hand into her small, smooth one. "Finish your story, Kuya."
"Fine." Tommy sighed. "O.K. There was... a brief flash of pain... then suddenly... everything was dark. There was nothing. Just... darkness. Then... off in the distance... so far away... a little spark of light appeared. Just a spark... it started moving towards me... when it reached me... I don't know what happened... then I was in this beautiful place. It was... it was like Heaven's version... of Angel Grove Park... full of green trees... the grass was so soft... there was shade, and stones... the sun wasn't too hot... it was great. For some reason... I was dressed in a karate gi. On the back, it had a white tiger and a silver-gold falcon... almost holding paws and claws. Twining around them... was a green dragon. The only problem with all this? I was alone."
"I lost count of all the days I just sat there. I was never hungry or thirsty. I was just... there. Sometimes I practiced my karate, or Tae-Kwon-Do, or something else, sometimes I sang, but a lot of the time... I just sat there, and thought."
"But one day... that changed. For some reason... I fell asleep, or something. I don't know what it was. But I fell asleep... and I dreamed. Of Kim. There. In the Dream Fields. She said that she wasn't dead... that she was only there to visit... and she told me that she... she loved me still... that she'd left her husband... we--"
Tommy cut himself off.
"About a day after that... Kelane... she came." Tommy's voice became dreamy, and his eyes misted at the memory of seeing his mother, dead these five years. His mother... and Silang's. "She told me... that it was time... time to go. Time to leave... she told me... that it was time to go home..."
"And?" Zach asked. "So you knew that you were supposed to come back here?"
"I asked her that." Tommy replied. "She told me... that there were very few Powers strong enough to bring one back from the dead. So she took me... somewhere... I don't know where it was... but it was like... a courtroom... made of rainbows. Made of the colors... of the Power Rangers. All the colors. And standing in the middle... there was this guy. Kinda looked like... kinda looked like Ernie, but thinner, and with gray hair."
Tommy looked away. "He told me... to turn around. For a while, he just looked at the... signs on the back of my gi. Then he told me to face him. He asked me... if I had anyone left, back on Earth."
"I answered yes, of course. He asked me who, and I told him all of you, and Seelee, and Kim."
"Then he asked me if I had any unfinished business."
"'Too much.' I answered. I told him... everything. About Kim... about k-k-killing myself... about the Rangers... everything."
"Then he asked me how I felt about Kim."
"I told him that... I loved her. More than anything. More than my life. More than my very soul."
"That's when he told me of all that... all that I'd done for her. Given her up to Dirk. Saved her life when the fake Tommy tried to kill her. Woken her up from that Sleeping Beauty spell. Accepted it when I thought her dead, and when I found out otherwise, when she tried to kill me, let her. Almost given her up for the team. Everything. Every little thing, from that time when I'd met her... to the time I died. It was a helluva long list. Then he told me that I'd done all these things for her... and then she'd left me for another guy. He asked me if I still loved her, after what he'd just said."
"I told him, 'Always.'"
The others let out breaths that they hadn't realized they'd been holding. Despite Tommy's literally eternal devotion to Kim, after something like that, _anyone's_ love could have wavered.
"That's when he told me that I could go back."
The others stared at him, open-mouthed.
"He told me about all that the Rangers had done for the universe. We've all built up pretty high credits with... them... up there. He told me... I could use that credit... and come home. Come back. Be alive again."
"I just stared at him for a while, not being able to say anything. I gaped at him, then I finally found my voice again. I told him what Kelane had said, about there being very few powers able to bring someone back to life."
"He shook his head, and smiled. He looked up at me, and he kinda cocked his head. Then he replied that with all the credits that I'd built up, it wouldn't have been enough. Even with all the combined credits that _all_ of us had built up, it still wouldn't have been enough. But he said that there was a bunch of people down there, still grieving for me. Still missing me. That there was one woman down there, who still loved me, and would even past death. He told me that love alone wouldn't have done it. All the good deeds we've done wouldn't have cut it. But both of them together... that did it. I'm back."
The others wiped their eyes free of tears, and they all moved it for a hug. Except for Silang, who hung back.
"What's wrong, Seelee?" asked Tommy.
"You're forgetting someone, Kuya." Silang replied softly. "She's crying for you in the other room."
"Kim." he murmured. He took off as fast as he could, and Silang just... disappeared. She reappeared in the other room, beside Kimberly, even before Tommy had reached her. She stood back... and waited. Kimberly was facing away from the door, still sobbing on her knees with the dress pressed to her chest. She felt a heavy, gentle hand drop on her shoulder. She heard a soft voice say, "Hey, beautiful."
Kimberly dropped the silk to the floor. She clutched at the hand on her shoulder like a drowning woman seeking a lifeline. She knew that voice. Knew it too well. She hadn't heard it for five years... had never thought she would hear it again. "Oh, God." she moaned. "Don't do this to me... don't torture me like this..."
Tommy dropped to one knee before her, and took her chin into his hand, gently tracing away the hot tears on her face with the tips of his fingers. "Hey, now, no more tears." he murmured softly. "I'm back."
"T-t-T-t-Tommy?" Kimberly stammered, almost fainting. She slumped into his arms. "Tommy? You... you.. I'm dreaming... I know it."
"You're not dreaming, my love." Tommy replied in a soft, mature voice. "No, this is as awake as you'll ever get..."
Kimberly began to cry again, this time tears of joy.
"I told you to wait for me." Tommy scolded quietly. "Did... did you have... that... that dream too?"
Kimberly turned blindly to him. "What dream?" she asked.
"The one where we--" Tommy stopped, blushing furiously.
Kimberly turned just as red. They didn't look at each other. "Yeah." she agreed reluctantly. "I did." Then, with more enthusiasm, she reached up and pulled his face down to hers, closing her eyes in utter bliss.
There were little sighs from the door to the room, where the other Rangers had arrived. Tommy and Kimberly held each other as if they would never, _ever_ let go. Then Tommy let her go, and kneeled in front of her.
"I asked you this before," he began solemnly, "and you turned me down."
"I didn't." Kimberly replied. "I ran away. I never answered you."
"Well, whatever." Tommy continued, a slight smile now on his face. "Whatever it was, no-one's ever been able to say that I wasn't persistent. Kimberly Anne Hart, I love you. Will you marry me, and love me until the day that I die?"
"No." Kimberly whispered softly, but loud enough so that the other Rangers could hear. There were horrified gasps from all around the room. Tommy stared at her, deeply wounded. "I'll love you until the day that _I_ die." Kimberly continued, kissing him deeply. "Of course I'll marry you. Oh, God, Tommy, it's been Hell without you."
"Trust me, beautiful," Tommy replied. "You haven't seen Hell until you've been to Heaven alone."
Kimberly started to sing again, this time to Tommy, right to his face.
"You're still my man."
"Nothing can change it.
We still, belong together.
You're still my man.
Nothing can change it.
Our love will last forever."
"Of course it will." Tommy agreed, gently nuzzling her neck. "How could it be anything else?"
She clung to him like glue to a wall. Tommy carefully lifted her in his arms, kissing her lips with all the soft passion he could muster.
"Careful!" Silang reprimanded him. "Don't drop her! She will be a mother in a matter of months! You would not want anything to happen to her, would you?"
Tommy's jaw dropped, and he nearly released Kimberly from his arms. "WHAT?!"
Kimberly was just as shocked. She bounced out of Tommy's arms, seeming more her normal self. "You're kidding. How? I didn't--"
"You did." Silang reminded her cheerfully.
Tommy stared at his girlfriend-- fiancée-- with open shock. "But... who? That David Roberts guy?"
Kimberly didn't answer, just looked at Silang. "You mean... that... that night... really _did_..." she dragged off as Silang nodded.
"What night?" Tommy asked. He wasn't upset, rather, he was quite happy.
"_The_ night." Kimberly said softly. "Grass? Trees?"
[Uh-oh, here comes trouble.] Adam thought. [She was a married woman... it's only normal for her and her husband to...]
Suddenly, he heard Mi-Hae, his daughter, shriek happily at the door. He exchanged a look with his wife, and they sighed before bolting for the door. Mi-Hae had a very annoying habit of bringing home animals: kittens, puppies, even an injured bird once. That cute scream meant that she had found another animal, and its parents were probably on the way.
Adam and Trini ran to the door. And there was a little beribboned box with air holes on the doorstep, with Mi-Hai crouched over it. There were little mewing noises coming from it, and there was a tag, too. "To Mi-Hae. From Silang."
Adam and Trini watched as Mi-Hae opened the box with her five-year-old gentleness, and inside, curled up, was a little Siamese kitten with the most beautiful golden-brown eyes.
[The color of caramel?] Adam thought, distractedly, as Mi-Hae scooped up the kitten. The kitten promptly stopped mewing pitifully and snuggled into the little girl. [Just like Silang's eyes. How weird.]
That's when he heard a scream. Kimberly's scream. And shortly after, Tommy's return shout.
He ran for the room, leaving Trini to take care of their little girl. He cursed himself for leaving right after Silang had made her proclamation.
When he ran into the room, he was surprised again, because Kimberly and Tommy wre kissing quite firmly and lovingly, moving their heads and making little "Mmm" sounds.
He blushed. [Geez, is that what Trini and I look like when we're kissing?] entered his mind first. The second was, [Kim is _pregnant_, and Tommy's _kissing_ her? Something's not-quite-right here. Isn't Tommy supposed to be mad, or something?]
Dirk and Kethry both had the "I-don't-_get_-it" look on their faces, Jason and Kadi looked extremely nonplussed, Aisha and Zach had furrowed brows and one raised eyebrow, and Billy just blinked and started polishing his glasses.
"Congratulations." Silang said, her happy grin belying her bland voice. "You are going to be parents."
"Whoa, whoa, did I miss something here?" Zach asked. Five years had not matured him any, and that was the way he liked it. "What's going on?"
"I'm pregnant." Kim told him. "How many months, Seelee?" she asked.
"How many do you _think_?" asked Silang. "It is about time that you practiced your Healer powers." she scolded.
Kimberly sighed. "I'd say... about four weeks."
"Right on the spot." Silang agreed. "Three weeks and five days today."
The stares became even more puzzled. "Wait..." Adam finally spoke up. "Three weeks and five days ago... you were here. With us."
The other men stared at each other, each measuring up if their friend had been the one who had betrayed Tommy's trust. Then they all felt guilty, knowing that there was absolutely no way any of them would double-cross their girlfriends--or wives--, nor Kimberly, or Tommy's memory.
"That was... that was the night Trini and I had watch." Aisha murmured. "Her window was bolted shut. No one could have gotten in."
"That was the night... she had that dream." Trini agreed.
Aisha and Trini looked at each other. "The dream?" they said, simultaneously. "But--"
"I surmise that my spell actually _did_ work." Silang said, softly. "I _did_ send Kimberly to the after-life. And as I remember... Naughty, naughty!" she scolded, giggling like a little girl. "And out of wedlock, too!"
Kimberly and Tommy blushed furiously.
"Oh, well." Silang shrugged philosophically. "I am sure that there are a great many eight-month non-premature children born these days. It is perfectly all right."
"Just one question." Tommy asked. "In the society... where you came from, and where Mom came from... are there any ceremonies when two people get married?"
Silang laughed. "I begin to wonder if Mama was the one who planned all this. The ceremony is that the bride and the groom are separated for five years, in which they are allowed to do what they wish. If they wish to make a temporary marriage to anyone other than each other, then they may. They may not see each other. Then, after the five years, they are brought back together. If they still wish to marry, then there is nothing that anyone may do to stop them. It means that they are soulmates. In Selanian society, your child has no illegitimacy around it. You two are married already."
"Really?" Kimberly squealed happily. "You mean it?"
"Remember, Ate," Silang laughed, "I cannot lie!"
"Oh, right." Kimberly remembered. She looked at Tommy somberly. "Tommy... are you mad at me? Can you possibly forgive me?"
"Kimmie, Kimmie, Kimmie." Tommy shook his head somberly. He moved in closer to her, so that he could taste her sweet breath. The tips of their noses touched, and he smiled. "Between us, beautiful, what is there to forgive?"
"Oh, _Tommy_." Kimberly sighed happily, hugging him hard. "I love you."
"I love you too, Kimmie. My little fireball." he replied warmly. "My wife."
"Merry Christmas, everyone." Aisha cried, too happy to contain her joy any longer. "Group hug!"
Everyone enveloped everyone else in their arms, with little Mi-Hae and her kitten squashed in the middle.
"Maligayang Pasko, everyone!" Silang and Tommy cried happily. "Merry Christmas!"
That night, Silang lay in her bed. A happy smile lingered on her lips. From the room beside hers--Kimberly's--came little creamy sounds that she was sure were making Adam and Trini, in the next room, very uncomfortable. She had to grin.
[Feh, could they not _wait_?] she shook her head with a smile. [I know that I told them it would not harm the baby any, but do they need to be so _enthusiastic_ about it? I am sure that everyone in the house can hear them!]
Her train of thought took a sudden change. [Tommy is back. Kuya is back.]
She clambered out of bed and scampered up her windowsill to the roof. She didn't tell anyone she did this--Jason would have worried too much--but she did it often. The star still glittered above the house, but already it had begun to move away, its job done.
[Salamat po, espirito ng bituin. Inuwi mo ang Kuya Halkon ko. Maligayang Pasko sayo, rin.] Silang thought up to the star. [Thank you, spirit of the star. You brought home my Big Brother Falcon. A Merry Christmas to you, too.]
Maybe it was her imagination. Maybe it wasn't. But the star seemed to wink at her.
Oh, yeah, for anyone who was wondering what the song "Pasko Na, Sinta Ko" means…Sorry about the song, but it's my favourite, and I forget that other people don't understand Tagalog: translation:
It's Christmas, my dear one.
I've been looking for you.
Why won't you speak to me?
You've left me alone.
If you were to leave your place,
By my side, sweetheart,
How could Christmas be?
You've orphaned me to myself.
It's such a loss, darling, the promises we made.
And the severing of what is so real!
Would you wish to, forget forever
Of our courtship and our... joy?
If you were to leave your place,
By my side, sweetheart,
How could Christmas be?
I offer it... to you.
Author's Note: So... how badly did I murder the characters? If you want to tell me what you thought of the story, please e-mail me. Also e-mail me if you want to ask for some more fanfiction. I've got a few ideas up there, somewhere... Or just e-mail me if you're begging for mercy, screaming "No more! No more!" So, see you on the drop zone! (And no, I didn't mean for this to be 'catch ya on the flipside!')