Disclaimer: The Power Rangers are not mine, they are Saban's. The song quoted herein, Bobby, also belongs to someone else, as recorded by Reba McIntyre. I don't have anyone official's permission to use these things, nor am I being paid for this little tale.

Notes and Timeline: Set 4-5 years after the Turbo Rangers gave up their powers.

Learning to Forgive
By Mele

Bobby pleaded guilty to the charges that they read
As they lead him from the courtroom a young voice turned his head
A little boy dressed in blue was standing at the rail
He said "I hope they kill you, I hope you go to hell."
They locked Bobby in a jail with forty other men
They all knew what he had done, they were glad to take him in
They'd all seen the headlines about Bobby and his wife
How they loved each other, and how he took her life.
Day after day he sat alone
Night after night they'd hear him sing his song.

Baby I'll take care of you, I'll never let you down
No harm will ever come to you as long as I'm around
I am not afraid of what people say or do
The only thing I fear is being here without you.

17 Years Ago:

"Robert Trueheart, how do you plead to the charge of premeditated murder?"

"Guilty, Your Honor."

The man who stood before Judge Harrigan was a broken, husked out shell with dead eyes and a hopeless expression. The judge was tempted to be lenient, knowing why the man had done what he did, but there were rules and precedents to follow, and murder was murder, no matter how well intentioned.

"You are hereby sentenced to 40 years in prison." The banging of the gavel signaled the end of the life Bobby Trueheart had once known, and heralded in a new, frightening existence.

As the bailiff started to escort him away, there was a disturbance among the spectators. Bobby and the bailiff both turned to see a dark haired boy, obviously dressed in his best clothes, standing at the railing, leaning partially over it. Looking directly at Bobby with hatred plainly visible in his expression, the boy spoke with a ferocity frightening in so young a child.

"I hate you! I hope they kill you in that jail. I hope it hurts lots and lots before you die. And when you're finally dead, you're going to go to hell for what you did. And I'm glad. I'll be glad when I hear you're dead!" Tears coursed down the young/old face, as a well-dressed man gently picked up the boy, holding him close.

James Oliver tried his best to comfort the distraught child in his arms, carrying him to where his wife stood waiting. They walked out of the courtroom together, ready to put this darkness behind them and start a new life as a family. And Thomas Oliver, never again to be called Thomas Trueheart, didn't look back.

The little boy dressed up in blue grew up to be a man,

When he fell in love himself he came to understand
How it was that Bobby took the life they both adored
'Cause Bobby couldn't stand to see her suffer anymore.
He took out the papers from the trunk beneath his bed
And all the years just disappeared as through his tears he read
Stories of the accident that robbed his momma's mind
And the man who held her in his arms and chose to cut the line.
And the one about the man who sits alone
Year after year singing his song.

Baby I'll take care of you, I'll never let you down
No harm will ever come to you as long as I'm around
I am not afraid of what people say or do
The only thing I fear is being here without you.

7 Years ago

Tommy Oliver hated being the 'new kid in school'. Even though Angel Grove High School seemed like a nice enough school, he was still the new boy, and he could feel the other students' curious looks. Sighing as he left the admissions office, he strode toward the area where he'd been told his homeroom was.

He was almost to the classroom he was seeking when he saw a group of students that piqued his curiosity. Standing near the lockers was a very muscular, black haired boy dressed in red clothing, who Tommy recognized as his opponent from the Karate Expo the previous weekend. Talking to him was an African-American boy dressed in black, a pretty Asian girl wearing yellow, and a light haired boy with glasses dressed in blue denim overalls. Tommy noticed all of them peripherally; his attention was mostly focused on the petite girl in pink.

She was smiling and laughing at something the black clad boy had said, tossing her chestnut hair back with a quick jerk of her head. She giggled again, laying her hand casually on the blue clad boy's arm, and Tommy felt a stab of irrational jealousy. He watched closely, trying to determine which of the boys she was with, but she reacted to each of them equally, and as the deadline for reaching their first class neared, the girl in pink headed off with the other girl. Tommy felt relief flood him. That was the moment that Tommy Oliver fell hopelessly in love with Kimberly Hart.

The next few days were a nightmare of falling under Rita's spell and attempts to destroy the Power Rangers, followed by being freed and the other teens' forgiveness and acceptance. His new duties as the Green Ranger. The girl who had captured his heart at first glance was now a teammate, and associating with her only increased his love. But he didn't dare tell her how he felt, fearing she wouldn't feel the same way. So for weeks...months...they were both silent about their feelings as the friendship between them grew ever stronger.

Until in the aftermath of the Green Candle, Tommy finally found the courage to kiss Kimberly, and officially ask her on their first date. He readily forgave her for her teasing, overwhelmed as he was by the joy of finally having a real date with her. The night of the dance, he was ready an hour early, just to ensure he wouldn't be late picking her up.

Over the next year they continued to date, growing closer and closer; she was as deeply in love with him as he was with her. They shared their dreams, their hopes, their secrets; save one. Tommy told Kimberly that he was adopted, but didn't correct her misconception that his natural parents were both dead.

As far as Tommy was concerned, they were.

6 Years Ago

The call came as he was getting ready for bed. The familiar soft, accented voice was now rough with emotion.

"Tommy, it's Kat. There's been an accident. Kimberly was practicing at the Youth Center after hours and I guess she fell. She's at the hospital. I don't know how to reach her parents. Can you come?"

"Is she okay?" he asked urgently, a sudden chill filling him.

"She's unconscious. They haven't told me anything yet. Can you come?"

"I'll be right there. Have you called anyone else?"

"No, not yet. I didn't know who to call."

"That's okay. Just wait there for me. I'll be over right away." He hung up, and grabbed his clothes, dressing as quickly as he could. He eyed the phone, considering, then picked it up and made a quick call. He didn't feel the entire team needed to be there, at least not until they knew for sure what was going on. But Billy had known Kim since childhood and he'd never forgive Tommy if he wasn't called.

He and Billy ended up arriving almost simultaneously, and Kat told them both the story of how she'd seen Kimberly fall from the beam and land awkwardly.

"Why were you there?" Tommy asked.

"I just had wanted a chance to talk to her alone. I'd like us to be friends."

"It's a good thing you did. She'd have been in bad shape if she hadn't been found," Tommy assured the blonde girl.

Attempts to learn Kimberly's condition had turned out to be futile. All the doctors would say was that she was unconscious, and that they would be better able to determine if there was brain damage once she'd regained consciousness. Kat curled up on one of the uncomfortable chairs, staring out the window at the nocturnal landscape, gently rebuffing any attempts to talk to her. She felt the grip of Rita's evil spell release her, but the knowledge of what she'd done, and what she'd almost done, overwhelmed her. She couldn't bear the two boys' kindness and concern, feeling the way she did.

"Man, what will happen is she's suffered brain damage?" Tommy moaned quietly, not really asking, but unable to keep his overriding fear to himself.

"Then we'll deal with it," Billy replied in an equally quiet tone.

"But her dreams of a gold medal.." Tommy started.

"Tommy! Stop it! We don't know for certain that there is any damage. Don't get yourself all worked up before you even know if there's anything to be this upset about."

Tommy looked at Billy a little taken aback. It was very unlike the soft-spoken Blue Ranger to scold or speak sharply. But it had the desired effect and Tommy forced himself to push the worst-case scenarios to the back of his mind.

"You're right. Sorry, man," he said.

"No problem, Tommy. It's just that it won't help Kimberly if you fall apart," Billy replied, laying a comforting hand on his teammate's forearm.

"Right." The longhaired teen sighed and fell silent, waiting for any word on Kimberly's condition.

When the doctors finally came to tell them that Kimberly was conscious, and that there was no sign of any permanent damage, Tommy felt like kissing the man in gratitude. Told they could see Kimberly, but only one at a time, Tommy looked to Billy who indicated Tommy should go ahead and see his girlfriend. The White Ranger didn't need to be told twice.

He felt his anxiety return when he first entered the room, the small stuffed animal he'd gotten for her forgotten in his hand as his eyes swept over the girl he loved. She smiled gently at him, her eyes sparkling with their customary intelligence and spirit. Tommy's heart lifted then, and all the fears he'd harbored during the long night faded away.

Kimberly would make a full recovery.

5 Years Ago

Tommy stopped his car at the top of the hill overlooking the reservation. Sam Trueheart had invited him to visit, promising to explain in full how and why it was that David and Tommy had never been told of each other's existence.

The Ranger leader sighed, both looking forward to and dreading the visit. So much had changed so fast in his life recently. The loss of the Ninjetti powers, Master Vile's manipulation of time, the exchange of Tanya for Aisha as a result of the Yellow Ranger's quest, the loss of Billy as an active Ranger, finding out he had a brother, and, most devastating of all, Kimberly breaking up with him, via a 'Dear John' letter.

He grimly pushed those thoughts aside, instead concentrating on the upcoming visit with Sam and David. Tommy was both curious and apprehensive. He wanted to know about David, and Sam, and what their lives were like, but he had no desire to speak of his father. He knew Sam must be related to his birth father, and if the old man started speaking fondly of Bobby, Tommy wasn't certain he could contain himself. As far as the teen was concerned, his birth father was exactly where he belonged.

The house where Sam and David lived was very small, sitting in the middle of a well-kept expanse of grass, unusual on the reservation. A flourishing vegetable garden was located at the far end of the back yard, and an assortment of flowers filled two long patches along the front of the house.

Sam answered Tommy's knock, smiling and gesturing for the teen to enter. The inside of the house was cramped and cluttered, but still gave the feeling of warmth and organization. Tommy looked around curiously, marveling at numerous Native American artifacts. Sam, seeing his interest, spent over an hour simply pointing out various items and explaining their history and significance, while David watched quietly.

Finally the three of them settled down in the living room with glasses of iced tea. Sam looked at Tommy speculatively.

"Tommy, do you remember your natural parents at all?" he asked at last, deciding a direct approach would be the best course of action in addressing the purpose of Tommy's visit.

"Yes. I know my mom is dead, and my father is rotting in jail, right where he belongs," the young man replied. He didn't notice David's startled look.

If the venom in the teenager's voice took Sam aback, he didn't show it.

"So you've not seen nor heard from him since the trial?"

"No, and I don't want to," Tommy declared vehemently.

"I won't argue with you, Tommy. I can see it wouldn't do any good. But I will ask that you listen to the story I am going to tell you, without interrupting, and try to keep your heart and mind open. Will you do that?"

"I'll try," Tommy said after considering the request for a moment.

"That's all I can ask. Bobby and your mother met when they were still in Junior High and dated all the way though High School..."

Robert Trueheart and Dorianne Summers planned to be married as soon as Bobby finished a two-year stint in the Army. He wanted to take advantage of the educational opportunities and work experience, as well as perhaps set a small sum aside with which to start their married life together. But, on leave only six months after he joined, he and Dorianne forgot to be careful, and Dorianne found herself pregnant. They discussed the matter at length; Bobby was willing to try for an early discharge and marry Dorianne immediately, but she was reluctant to do so. It would mean they'd be struggling financially for years if Bobby didn't get the training he needed. She simply didn't feel they were financially or emotionally ready to raise a child. Finally, they reached a painful decision. Dorianne would bear the child, and give up custody to Sam Trueheart and his wife, Dyani, who would raise the child as their own. Sam, Bobby's paternal uncle, was thrilled to have another child to raise, and promised the young couple the child would want for nothing in life. Though it broke their hearts, and subjected them to censure from friends and relatives who didn't agree with their decision, they felt it was for the best.

Two years after the birth of David, as they named their first child, Robert and Dorianne married. Bobby was working for the state, doing survey work for the Department of Transportation, while Dorianne worked part time at a local bank. Just three weeks after their first anniversary, Dorianne gave birth to a second son, named Thomas in honor of an old family friend.

Life was at times hectic, but very good for the young family. Bobby continued to take any additional training that was available, hoping to work his way up out of fieldwork. Tommy grew quickly into an attractive, outgoing boy, whose open, friendly personality endeared him to everyone he met.

Bobby and Dorianne stayed in touch with Sam and Dyani, who kept them apprised of David's development. The two boys had never met, the parents all deciding that it would be too difficult and possibly lead to complications. After numerous discussions, they had decided that they would tell the boys the truth about their relationship when they reached their late teens.

Then, when David was six, Dyani died only three months after finding out she had cancer. Sam helped David through his grief, and the two of them managed to establish a new life with just the two of them.

When Tommy started kindergarten, Dorianne went back to work at the bank, working mornings only so she could be there when Tommy got home from his half day of class. She planned to go back to full time the next year when Tommy started first grade and would be in school full days.

They were doing some minor renovations at the bank, putting in new railings and carpet on the second floor walkway when the accident occurred. Dorianne was walking across the ground floor lobby when a piece of the old railing, a solid piece of wood two feet long and over a foot wide, fell. It struck Dorianne directly on her head, and she crumpled bonelessly to the ground.

By that evening the family knew the truth of the situation. Dorianne Trueheart had suffered extensive brain damage from the blow. Though they had put her on a respirator, and could keep her alive indefinitely, she would never awaken. All of her hopes, and plans, and dreams had ended when that piece of railing fell on her. For all intents and purposes, she no longer existed, only her body remained.

The doctors held out no hope for her ever recovering or improving, but hospital regulations didn't allow them to remove her from life support. Bobby's lawyer said they could eventually make a case for allowing her to be taken off the respirator, but it would take years. Bobby left his office disheartened, and headed toward the hospital.

The staff in the ICU allowed members of the Trueheart family to visit no matter what time it was. Bobby sat down beside his wife's bed and stared bleakly at her peaceful face. He had sworn from the first that he would always protect her from any danger, and now he had failed her. He couldn't bear the thought of failing her again. His spiritual belief dictated that her spirit could not go on to the afterlife if it was still tied to a mortal body. The only way her spirit could be free would be for her earthly body to die. He could not give her back this life, but he resolved he could give her the afterlife. He quietly walked over to the door, locking it and bracing the chair under the knob. It was crude, but would work for what he needed.

He climbed up on the bed and carefully pulled Dorianne into his arms. Then Bobby reached back and switched off the respirator, and gently removed the various IV's and other lines connected to her still body. Despite the shouts and orders when first the nurses, then doctors, then security personnel discovered what he was doing, he felt a sense of peace. He continued to hold her as he felt the last faint signs of life fade from her body. Then, with tears streaming down his face, he gently laid her back on the bed, and opened the door.

Robert Trueheart was taken into custody that night and offered no defense for what he had done.

The authorities took Tommy to a foster home until it could be determined what was to be done with the boy. Sam offered to take Tommy in, but after carefully considering it, Bobby decided the best thing for the child would be for him to be adopted by someone outside the family. Sam was getting on in years, and since Dyani had died Bobby knew Sam had been struggling a bit with one fairly young child to raise. Two would be too much.

Bobby had no sooner signed the papers giving up his child when the agency found the Olivers, who immediately fell in love with Tommy. Grateful that the child would have a new family and a chance at a happy future, the agency was glad to hurry through the process.

It had been Tommy's request to be in court when they sentenced Bobby. The Olivers had their doubts about the suitability of the child being in the courtroom, but ultimately decided it might give the child a sense of closure.

As soon as the adoption was final, the Olivers moved out of the area, and, despite his efforts, Sam lost track of his great-nephew. He doubted the Olivers even knew of his existence, since Bobby had kept everything about the adoption of his first son secret.

Tommy had listened quietly, as requested. Hearing the story told took him back in his memory to that awful period of his life. His memories were those of a child, confused and afraid. All he had really known was that his father had killed his mom, and because of that Tommy had lost everyone and everything he'd ever known and loved in his earliest years.

The Olivers had turned out to be wonderful parents; he couldn't love or respect them more if they'd been his biological parents. But they never spoke of Tommy's past, of what his father had done, or why. Tommy knew, however, that they'd kept a number of newspaper articles about the case, hiding them in a box in their closet. He'd found them once when searching for Christmas presents. He hadn't read them.

"Did the Olivers ever tell you the whole story about your parents?" Sam asked softly.

"No. But that doesn't matter. It doesn't change anything. He took away her chance. It wasn't her choice to die. He killed her." Tommy's voice never rose, but the anger was still evident.

"You don't think he made the right choice in setting her free?"

"I don't think it was his choice to make."

Sam realized Tommy was not ready to alter his opinion regarding his father. Disappointed, he let the subject drop. The rest of the visit Sam and David told stories from their life together, and the subject of Bobby was not alluded to again.

After Tommy left David turned to the man who had raised him and asked the question that was nagging at his mind.

"Why does Tommy hate him so? Dad loved Mom; he did what he did because he loved her. Why can't he see that?" Despite the fact that he had the same relationship to Bobby as Tommy did, David had none of the animosity. He had visited Bobby shortly after being told the story of his birth circumstances, and had already begun to build a rapport with him.

"David, Tommy's life as he knew it for his first six years was destroyed by what Bobby did. He still remembers the events with the intensity of a child. The Olivers are good people, they have done very well for Tommy, but they never addressed the boy's past. I think this is the first time he has ever heard the whole story. It will take time for him to process it. He may never get over his anger, we should be aware of that. A child that is hurt this much when so young may never fully heal. We should not mention this again, unless it is Tommy who brings the subject up. Okay?"

"Okay, Dad."


The cliffs outside Angel Grove were Tommy's place to go when troubled or in need of a quiet place to think things through. After leaving the reservation he headed there, his mind troubled by the story Sam had told him.

Why hadn't his parents told him the reasons behind his father's actions? Why hadn't they told him he had a brother? Why hadn't Sam contacted him sooner? It seemed a bit ridiculous to honor the 'waiting until the boys are teenagers' to tell him about David given the circumstances. Unconsciously he found himself fighting to hang on to his hatred of his father. It was easier than he thought it would be.

His uneasy thoughts were interrupted by the sound of approaching footsteps. Tommy turned to see a familiar figure approaching in the fading light of the evening.

"You okay, Tommy?" Billy asked quietly, standing behind the Ranger leader.

"Yeah. I guess so. Pull up a rock and sit down," Tommy invited, not looking at his oldest teammate.

Billy settled down and turned his appreciative gaze over the landscape spread out below.

"It's beautiful up here," he commented.

"Yeah. On a clear day you can see forever," Tommy said.

"You sit up here thinking in clichés?" Billy asked with an ironic look.

Tommy had to smile at that comment. "No, not usually."

They sat in companionable silence for a time, as the twilight deepened toward night.

"Billy, can I ask you something? I'll understand if you don't want to answer."

"Of course you can, Tommy."

"Do you remember your mom?"

The silence stretched out for a few moments, threatening to become uncomfortable.

"May I ask why you want to know this?"

"I can't remember my mom," Tommy said sadly.

"How old were you when she died?"

"Six. Just barely six."

"I suppose it's not surprising you don't recall her. You were pretty young," Billy said.

"Yeah, but it seems like I should have some memories of her, at least a few. Do you remember your mom? You were nine when she died, right?"

"Yeah, I was nine. And, yeah, I remember her. Maybe not a lot of memories, but I do have them. I take it Sam talked about your mom and dad?" Billy ventured.

"Yeah. If I tell you something, will you promise to keep it in strictest confidence? I need to tell someone, but I don't want it getting out," Tommy's expression was one of nervous need.

"Tommy, if you don't want me to speak of this to anyone, you have my word I won't. Unless, it is something that endangers your life," the former Blue Ranger told him solemnly.

"It doesn't. My dad, my birth dad, he killed my mom when I was six. She'd been hurt, and he cut off her life support. He's in prison, still alive."

"Wow. Tommy, I'm...I'm sorry. Did you know your father was still alive?" he asked.

"Yeah. Or, rather, I knew he hadn't died when I was younger. I didn't know if he was still alive in prison or not. I guess he is."

"How do you feel about this?" Billy prompted him carefully, after a moment's thought.

"I hate him. He killed her; he destroyed our family. Now I find out he's still alive after all this time. I feel...I dunno...betrayed, somehow. Like it isn't fair he's still living."

"You said he cut off her life support. It was a mercy killing, euthanasia?"

"It was murder. He took her life, and he took my memories of her." Tommy's expression darkened.

"I see." Billy fell silent, cursing himself for not knowing what to say to his friend. He was still struggling to find the words when their communicators beeped, calling them into a rare night fight.

Tommy didn't speak of his natural parents to Billy again.

Present Day

Tommy opened the small box, entranced as always by the perfect diamond solitaire that gleamed softly at him. Kim was meeting him here at the Youth Center for a casual dinner date, but the truth was he wanted to propose to her in a location that had sentimental meaning to them both. Their favorite 'hang out' from their teens would be perfect. They'd had some of their best times here.

His heart swelled with joy when he thought about the recent changes in his life. His racing career was over, not that it had ever been very successful. He was in business with Jason and Rocky, running a karate school that was gaining a reputation for putting out the best students in the state. They had recently signed a contract with a major studio to train the six stars of a new action series in karate, and other martial arts. That, in addition to their usual classes was putting the business into high financial gear.

Then there was his renewed relationship with Kimberly. She'd returned to Angel Grove, having won the silver medal at the Pan Globals. She breezed through beauty school, and with some financial assistance from her parents had managed to purchase a thriving beauty shop, which she quickly transformed into the most trendy one stop beauty parlor in the area. Eighteen months after her return to Angel Grove she ran into Tommy at the Youth Center, where she'd stopped in to treat herself to a smoothie. Their initially awkward conversation soon began to smooth into the pleasant exchange enjoyed by old friends. They left the Youth Center promising not to lose touch. They didn't.

A week later Tommy asked her out to lunch, an invitation she eagerly accepted. The lunch date stretched to a dinner date, and the two of them never looked back. The past hurts had been forgiven, and the love they had enjoyed in their teens reignited in their twenties. He was startled out of his rumination by a voice behind him.

"Hey, handsome, is this seat taken?" Kimberly asked with a wide smile.

"It is now," he replied with a warm smile and gentle kiss.

They ate slowly, concentrating more on their conversation than on the food. As they split a chocolate sundae, Tommy took her hand and knelt by her chair.

"Kimberly Hart, I love you, I've loved you since I first met you. Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?" He presented her with the ring, still in its black velvet box.

Kim had put her free hand over her mouth, and above that her large eyes sparkled with unshed tears of happiness. She lowered her hand and reached for the box, her gaze darting between the ring and Tommy's anxious eyes.

"Oh, my God. Oh...yes! Yes! Of course I'll marry you. Yes!" she exclaimed, reaching out to wrap her arms around her tall boyfriend's neck.

He stood and swung her around, not caring that they were attracting the attention of everyone in the place. They didn't notice the amused looks they got as they kissed passionately, standing by the table where their forgotten sundae slowly melted.

They went back to Tommy's apartment, Kimberly fairly bubbling over with excited plans.

"I have to call my mom in France, and my dad in New York. They'll be so excited. They were really happy to hear I was dating you again, anyway. And all our friends. Oh, it's going to be wonderful. Let's see, you'll be adding...um...two moms, two dads, and a brother to your family. Sorry, that's kind of a lot of parents to add. I'm glad you don't mind my fractured family," Kimberly said.

"Kim, I love you, and I am happy to add all those parents to my family," he told her firmly. But she noticed his expression sobered suddenly.

"What? What's wrong?"

"I should have told you this a long time ago. It's kind of hard to explain...I hope this won't change anything.." his odd comments only made her more apprehensive.

"Tommy, what are you talking about? Come over here and sit down and tell me. I love you, you can tell me anything. Okay?" She coaxed him to a seat next to her on the couch.

"Kim, I told you that I was adopted. And you know about my brother, David, and his dad, Sam. But there is something I didn't tell you. My natural father is still alive," he said, lowering his head as if ashamed.

"Really? Where is he? Why haven't you mentioned him?" Her questions were asked in a gentle tone of voice.

"He's in prison. He has been for seventeen years."

"What'd he do?"

"He killed my mom." Tommy flinched as he heard her shocked gasp.

"Oh, my God. Why?"

"Because she was hurt. Because he figured she'd die anyway," he said.

"Tommy, what do you mean, she was hurt? I'm not following you completely," she looked at him in confusion.

"It's...it's hard for me to talk about. Wait here for a minute, I have some newspaper articles about it." He hurried to his bedroom, and kneeling by the bed reached underneath it to remove the flat box his parents had given him when he moved out.

"These might explain it better than I can. I tend to just get caught up in my anger," he confessed, handing her the box. He went into the small kitchen to make some coffee for them, allowing Kimberly some time to read. He came back to find her surrounded by yellowing newspaper clippings and copies of documents that looked like medical reports.

"Tommy, have you read these?" she asked, looking closely at the man she loved, tears in her eyes and tear tracks down her cheeks.

"No. I don't need to. I was there," he replied.

"Tommy, you were what? Six? You need to read these. You sound like you hate your father, but I don't see someone to hate in here. Will you do that for me? Read these articles? Read the medical reports? Please?" she looked at him with a pleading expression.

"For you," he finally agreed reluctantly.

"Thank you. I'm going to go home now, Tommy, and give you some time alone. If you need me, I'll be there for you. And I'll see you tomorrow afternoon, right? At the deli for our usual Wednesday lunch?"

"I'll be there, Beautiful. Good night." Their goodnight kiss was especially tender, then Kimberly hurried down to her car and drove away into the mellow California night.

Tommy turned back to the living room and picked up the stack of articles. The headline on the top one caught his eye: "Loan Officer at Local Bank Critically Injured in Freak Accident". He sighed and poured himself a cup of coffee before settling down comfortably on the couch with the articles on his lap. True to his promise to Kimberly, he started to read.

He read them all. From the one that described the accident, and the doctor's prognosis of brain damage, through the ones that told of his father's arrest and the hospital's outrage at his actions, through the numerous ones chronicling his brief court appearance. There was a follow-up article telling how Bobby was faring in prison, with the sensational headline "Convicted Killer Still Loves His Victim". There were photocopies of various medical reports, all of which stated quite clearly that Dorianne Trueheart had had no chance of recovery. Although there was lots of material, Tommy kept going back to the follow-up article, which featured a large picture of his father in his cell, alone and desolate looking. He felt the hatred, which he had nurtured and carried for all those years, gradually begin to crumble.

Tommy thought about Kimberly, and the accident she'd had before she went to Florida to train. What is she had suffered brain damage? What if something happened to her now? Would he want her to be kept alive? A living body, with no hope of ever being anything but an empty vessel? Could he bear to watch her deteriorate over time, her eternal soul held to this existence only because machines forced her body into a semblance of life?

"No!" he cried out, unaware he had spoken aloud. He rubbed his hands over his face, surprised when they came away wet with his tears. He hadn't even realized he was crying, as he finally understood why and how Bobby could find the strength to end the travesty Dorianne's 'life' had become.

And he slowly became aware of something else. Something he hadn't thought was possible.

He finally remembered his mother.

The young man drove his car up and parked outside the gate,
They led him to a cold, gray, room, the guard told him to wait.
When the guard brought Bobby in, the young man finally knew,
He still missed his momma, but he'd missed his daddy too.
When the guard left the two of them alone,
He took Bobby in his arms, and the young man sang a song.

Daddy I'll take care of you, I'll never let you down,
No harm will ever come to you as long as I'm around.
You have taught me not to fear what people say or do,
And the only thing that hurts is being here without you.

Present Day

"Tommy? Sweetie, are you okay?" Kimberly's voice broke through his reverie.

"Fine," he smiled, rising to give her a quick kiss.

"You looked to be a million miles away," she commented.

"No. Only sixty or so," he replied.

"Sixty miles?" She was obviously puzzled.

"Yeah. After lunch, I'm going to go to the prison where my dad is. I'm going to visit him."

"Really? Tommy, that's wonderful. Isn't it?" she asked, unable to read his expression.

"Yes, it is. Thank you, Kim, for making me read those articles. I've had them for the last couple of years, since I moved out of my folk's house. They gave them to me, told me what they were, and advised me to read them when I felt up to it. I just stuffed them under the bed and forgot about them, until last night. Then all the things Sam, and my parents even, tried to tell me made sense. I've hated my father since I was six years old. And he didn't deserve that hatred. I have to go see him. The last time I saw him I told him I'd be happy to hear he died, that he'd go to hell, that I hated him. It's been seventeen years, but maybe it's not too late to say I'm sorry. I have to try."


"Please wait here Mr. Oliver," the guard said politely, leaving Tommy in a small square room with gray walls and windows reinforced with imbedded wiring. An attempt had been made to make the room seem cheerful, there was a comfortable looking old couch, a couple of lounge chairs, several card tables with matching chairs. But it still looked exactly like what it was: a visiting room at a prison. No amount of cheering up could hide that fact.

Tommy stood nervously, studying the profoundly ugly pen and ink drawing on one wall, his arms crossed protectively over his chest. At the sound of a door opening he turned and for the first time in seventeen years stood face to face with his father.

Tommy stood frozen, his eyes seeking out his father's, trying to find the anger and recrimination there. Instead all he saw was the bright spark of dawning hope and relentless love.

"Daddy?" The voice that issued forth from the twenty three year old would not have been recognizable to anyone who knew him.

"Tommy?" The older man tentatively held out his arms, and Tommy's paralysis broke. For the first time in far too long, his father held him again.

"I never thought you'd ever come to see me. I never thought you'd ever forgive me for what I'd done," Bobby cried softly, holding on to his son as if he'd never let go.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry for what I said to you. I had no right. I was wrong," the younger man sobbed, the pain from all those lonely years finally being released.

"Shh, it's okay son. There's nothing to forgive, you were a child, you were hurting. I understand. All that matters is that you are here now."

Tommy continued to cry, holding on to his father as if he'd never let go.


"Is my tie straight?" Tommy asked, jerking impatiently at the offending article of clothing.

"It was until you started to mess with it. Just a minute, I'll fix it," Hannah Oliver pushed her son's hands aside and straightened his tie for the third time in ten minutes. "Now, don't touch it again," she scolded gently.

He managed to avoid disarraying himself any more, and finally stood by the minister watching Kimberly make her way toward him on the arm of her father. With Jason by his side as best man, Thomas Oliver married Kimberly Hart in a beautiful ceremony on a cloudless spring day in Angel Grove.

After the wedding the guests retired to the Youth Center, which they had rented fort he day. Champagne complemented a catered dinner, as guests danced to the music of a popular local band.

Once their duties on the receiving line were finished, and they had danced the obligatory first dance, Kim and Tommy mingled among their guests. Tommy searched the crowded room anxiously, until he finally found the person he was seeking.

"Excuse me a minute, okay?" he murmured to his wife, who was happily chatting with her bridesmaids.

He headed across the room, smiling as he approached the middle-aged man with straight dark hair and warm eyes.

"I'm so glad you could be here," Tommy said, embracing his father. He had gotten his adoptive dad's assistance in getting his father paroled. The Olivers had supported Tommy's decision to include his birth father in his future life. They all met shortly after Bobby was paroled, and despite some natural misgivings, they had agreed to try to create a workable relationship. So far they were doing very well.

"Not nearly as glad as I am. Thank you, Tommy. For everything. If I'm not mistaken, I believe that young man is looking for you."

Tommy turned to see Billy approaching.

"I was sent to tell you the cake cutting is to be done soon," Billy said with a smile. "Kimberly will be certain to come up with a suitable revenge if you are late."

"Then I'd better hurry. Um...Billy, this is my dad, Bobby Trueheart. Dad, Billy Cranston," Tommy said diffidently. He had yet not told most of his friends about Bobby, only Kimberly and Billy knew who he really was. The rest of them thought the older man was an uncle, who'd just moved back to the area. Bobby had insisted Tommy handle it that way, not wanting his past to harm his son's future.

"Nice to meet you, Billy. I have to assume you knew of my existence before?" he said with a questioning look at his son.

"Yeah, he knew. I told him several years ago, in fact. It doesn't seem to have hurt our relationship at all," Tommy noted pointedly, trying to emphasize his belief that his friends wouldn't care about his dad's past.

"Don't be a smart alec," Bobby scolded him.

Billy chuckled at the man's comment. "It was a pleasure to meet you. But I've got to get him over to the cake before his wife decides I'm to blame for his being late. I've no desire to spend the rest of the evening trying to get cake frosting out of my hair."

Bobby laughed outright at that. "Then go, you two. Don't keep the lady waiting. In fact, that's my sage advice to you as you head into your married life, son."

"Don't keep the lady waiting."

The End

Author's notes: Major thanks to Dagmar for beta reading this story. Any errors that remain are mine, and mine alone.