The stench of burnt oil and rubber hung over all of the race way and clung to the group of people who were huddled around a man in a black and white racing costume with a mask with an "X" on it. The group consisted of mainly teens or young adults in black and red racing jackets with Harlequin masks on the back and the words "Harlequin Racing Team" embroidered across the top. Much to the surprise of any outsider, a Putty Patroller was also a member; his gray mottled face sticking out in the crowd.
The Harlequin Racing Team watched as a white, three pronged car roared passed them, followed a few seconds later by a blue and silver, bullet shaped car. The masked man clicked on a stop watch and grinned.
"Well, Racer X, how did they do?" A young man with the name "Thumper" embroidered on his jacket asked.
"Speed beat Hacker by 1/1000 of a second. It was close. Those modifications Hacker made to the Blue Lightning really paid off." Racer X remarked.
At that moment, a teenage boy with black hair and bright blue eyes and a girl with hair dyed a bright, metallic purple and blue- gray eyes approached the group. The boy had on white jeans with brown loafers and a blue shirt with a golden "G" monogrammed on the chest. His white helmet with a red "M" on the front was cradled in his arm. The girl had on a black and red spandex body suit that showed off her curves, and a hint of roundness in her belly, with white, high heeled boots. Her red and black helmet with a blue streak of lightning on it was resting on her hip.
"So, how badly did Speedy here beat my pants off?" The girl asked with no malice in her voice.
"Another 1/1000 of a second and it would have been a tie, Hacker." Racer X told her.
"Good job, Speedy." Thumper hit Speed on the back.
"Oph! Thanks, Thumper." Speed stumbled under the weight of the blow. "So, where's the next race?" He asked.
"Angel Grove, California." Racer X answered. Hacker paled. "Are you alright, Hacker?"
"Home." She whispered.
"What?" Thumper looked at her.
"I haven't been home since that fight. Poor Billy, did Father pick on you after I left?" She mused out loud.
"Who?" Speed asked.
"Billy Mitchell, my baby brother. We lived in Angel Grove all our lives." Hacker whispered. "I haven't seen him since I left." She walked away from the group, lost in memories.
[THE SAME DAY, ANGEL GROVE, CALIFORNIA]
In Angel Grove, a blonde haired boy stood in front of a battered door. He raised his hand to knock, then paused. From inside the apartment, he could hear people speaking in Japanese. One voice belonged to his friend and team mate, Tommy Oliver, the other he did not know. The boy couldn't speak Japanese, but he could tell that Tommy was upset about something. "...Buku no tomodachi-tachi!..." The boy heard clearly through the door.
_My friends._ The boy translated in his head. He couldn't speak Japanese, but he could understand a few words here and there. Just then, a man in a black suit and sunglasses came out of Tommy's apartment, looking angry and frazzled. He looked the blonde boy over, then tipped his hat.
"Good luck with him. You'll need it. He's in a fine temper today." The man said with a touch of dry humor in his voice then left.
The boy shook his head, then entered his friend's apartment. He paused at the door to remove his shoes and place them on a near by rack. "Tommy, it's me, Billy!" Billy called out.
"In here, Billy." Tommy answered from the bathroom.
Tommy's apartment was done in the Japanese fashion, so there were no chairs or couches. Only cushions and a low table. In one corner of the apartment, there was a small shrine with a Buddha surrounded by candles and incense. A few scrolls decorated the other wise bland, cream colored walls.
On the low table, there was evidence of a meal eaten. Two porcelain bowls with chop sticks were in the middle of the table, with a tea set. In one bowl there were a few grains of rice left. In all the time Billy had known him, Tommy never used a knife or fork. He didn't know how. Where ever he had lived before moving to Angel Grove, Tommy had been raised in the Japanese culture.
Billy looked around for his friend. He was about to call out again, when Tommy walked out of the bathroom with a towel in his hand. He was not wearing a shirt, something that Billy had never seen him with out before.
"Hi, Billy." Tommy smiled.
"Hi, um, who was that just left?" Billy asked.
"Just a person." Tommy picked up the bowls and entered the kitchen. "I have some tea if you want it."
"Thanks, but I, um, had something to drink before I came here." Billy said. He had tried green tea once before and spent an entire week on a caffeine buzz. He didn't want to go through that again if he could avoid it.
"I guess you don't want to rearrange the garage twenty times again, eh?" Tommy raised an eyebrow at his friend. "Um, I have sake, beer, soda, juice. Just help your self." Tommy slipped back into the bedroom and pulled on shirt.
Billy selected a soda can with Japanese writing on it. He noticed pots bubbling on the stove. What ever was cooking smelled good. "What are you cooking?" Billy sniffed a pot.
"Yose nobe and onigiri. Would you like to stay for dinner?" Tommy smiled.
"What?" Billy asked.
"Fish chowder and rice balls." Tommy translated.
"OK. Um, arigatoo." Billy bowed.
Tommy signaled for Billy to sit on one of the cushions. The Green Ranger studied his friend. "You seem troubled. Wanna talk about it?"
Billy took a deep breath and his stomach growled. Tommy laughed and handed him a tray with food on it. "Some Takoyaki (author's note: Takoyaki is octopus dumplings. However, Billy will not learn this until later:) to tide you over. You were about to say..." Tommy prompted.
"Well, um, you know about that big charity race that's this week, right?" Tommy nodded. "Well, um, I have an older sister, Trystan Lee. Um, she calls herself..."
"Hacker, right? With the Harlequin Racing Team." Tommy finished. "How come you never talked about her before?"
"Yeah. Well, you see I haven't seen her since she was fifteen. I was thirteen. Dad kicked her out when she refused a scholarship to Harvard Law School. She wanted to go to Angel Grove Tech and study Auto-mechanics. She loved cars and racing. She used to build working models and race them for fun. One time she made some, um, "modifications" to Dad's car. When he went into fifth gear, he almost broke the sound barrier and Trystan's neck. Man, he was mad at her! It was shortly after that he kicked her out. She joined the Harlequins and became a racer, like she always wanted to do. I haven't heard from her since. Dad forbid me to have any contact with her. He destroyed all the pictures with her in it. It was like she was dead." Billy buried his head in his hands.
"Gomen." Tommy whispered. "I'm sorry. And, lemme guess. Things at home are not too comfortable right now, right?"
"Affirmative. Dad was always overbearing. Especially after Mother died. When Trystan left, it was awful. Several times I wanted to run away and be with Trystan, but I knew that Dad would track me down. I'm his "great, white hope."" Billy said in a bitter tone.
"Would you like to stay here until the race is over? My apartment is not big, but I do have an extra futon for you to sleep on. And, your father does not have my number, right?" Billy nodded, eating his takoyaki. "Then, he can not bother you. Let's go to your house and get your things." Tommy stood up. He pulled out a packet of cigarettes from his back pocket. They were Hoosaku brand. They didn't smell as nasty as most tobacco did and they were the only brand that Tommy would smoke. Tommy lit up as they left the apartment.
Tommy's car was a battered 1981 Honda Civic. It was old and beat up, but it still ran. Tommy didn't know what the original color had been. It was gray when he bought it and had changed color three times since: silver, black, and now it was a faded blue. The interior was maroon.
Once they were settled in, the boys rode in silence. Billy looked at the neighborhood. It was one of Angel Grove's projects. There were two: Carrion Ridge, which was near the mountains, and the one Tommy lived in, Salem Courts, on the east end of town, near the docks and warehouses. Like most city projects, Salem Courts was filled with tenant apartments, low rent houses, and abandoned buildings. Graffiti was scrawled across every flat surface. Crime was at its highest here. Most teens didn't go to school, but the few who did went to Salem Courts High School. Tommy was the only kid from the 'Courts to attend Angel Grove High School.
Billy lived on the west end of town in a small, split level house. It had a neatly trimmed lawn surrounded by a fence and fresh paint on the shutters. A swing graced the front porch.
Tommy parked in front of the house. "We're here." He said to Billy. The boys got out of the car and headed for the front porch. Tommy looked over to the living room window and saw Mr. Mitchell glaring out the window at his son.
Billy unlocked the door with his key. He hadn't seen his father's angry face. As soon as he opened the door, a large, furry blur knocked the Blue Ranger off his feet.
"Oof! Down, Jedi!" Billy laughed as his german sheopard, Jedi, licked his face. "Stop it, Jedi! I won't have a face left!" Tommy pulled the dog off Billy and scratched his ears. He and Jedi got along pretty well.
Just then, Mr. Mitchell entered the main hall. "So, you're
finally back, William." He said. "I'm just here to pick up some clothes." Billy said. "I'm staying with Tommy until the race is over."
"Is that so? Did you ask for my permission to stay with you _friend_?" Mitchell asked icily.
"Dad, it's only until the race is over." Billy started, but his father cut him off.
"Is that so? Then, get all your things and leave my house. If I can't have obedient children, then I don't want any." Mitchell turned away.
Billy's shoulders slumped and tears fell out of his blue eyes. He ran up the stairs. Tommy glared at Mitchell, but didn't say anything. Mitchell swallowed and backed away. Tommy snorted, muttered something in Japanese, then followed Billy up the stairs.
Billy was on his bed, crying. He had his suit case out, but hadn't started to pack. Tommy let his friend cry and did the packing for him.
"Zordon, could you send down some card board boxes?" Tommy clicked on his communicator.
-OF COURSE, BUT WHY DO YOU NEED THEM?
"Long story, but basically Billy's father is an asshole and kicked Billy out. He's staying with me now. We need the boxes to pack his stuff in and we'll need to use some of that empty space in the Command Center for storage. Especially Billy's lab." Tommy answered.
-I UNDERSTAND. I CAN HAVE ALPHA TELEPORT BILLY'S ENTIRE LAB NOW AND HAVE IT READY AS SOON AS HE WANTS TO USE IT.
"OK." Tommy signed off. He went to Billy and put his arm around him. "It'll be OK. You can live with me." He whispered. As soon as he had enough of Billy's things packed to ally Mitchell's suspicion, Tommy asked Zordon to teleport everything else to the Command Center. It would all sorted out there. Grabbing several card board boxes, Tommy made Billy carry the large suitcase.
Mitchell glared at the teens as they left. "Give me your key, William. I don't want you breaking in here." He held out his hand.
Billy dropped the key into his father's hand. Then, he ran out of the house. Tommy had the car packed and running. The neighbors were watching the small drama from their windows and porches. An elderly lady shook her head and approached the boys.
"What happened?" She demanded. "Did your father kick you out?" She took Billy's hand.
"Yes." Tommy answered for his still stricken friend. "Billy's living with me now." Tommy continued.
"Where do you live, child?" The lady continued her interrogation.
"Salem Courts." Tommy answered, then all but shoved Billy through into the car and took off.
The lady reached into her pocket and took out her cel phone. Soon, all the gossips of the neighborhood had the news of the latest atrocity committed by William Mitchell Senior.
Billy sighed as Tommy sped away from his old home. Tommy looked grim as he lit up another cigarette. Never in his life had he seen a defenseless child like Billy thrown to the wolves like that. He ground the gears and swore softly. Billy was sobbing when they pulled into the garage. Tommy gently lead his friend into the apartment and eased him onto a cushion.
"Sit here. I'll get the stuff from the car." Tommy told his friend. Billy just nodded and continued to stare at a blank T.V. It was a second hand black and white one Tommy picked up at a yard sale when he first moved to Angel Grove. It only got three stations, since Tommy couldn't afford cable.
In the garage, Tommy piled up all of Billy's worldly goods. He had summoned Zordon to teleport the rest of Billy's things, except for the lab. There was no room for it. At that same time, Jason Lee Scott and Zach Taylor teleported into the garage.
"Zordon told us what happened." Jason said as he grabbed the nearest box. "How is Billy?"
"Not too good. I think he's in shock, but I'm not sure." Tommy shook his head. "That man is a real asshole, you know." The Green Ranger sighed. Jason and Zach blushed. They were not used to someone trashing a parent, no matter how correct the observation was.
"Oh, Kim and Trini are in your apartment." Jason said. "They teleported there so they can help Billy."
"Good. He'll need it. It's gonna be hard for him to adjust to living in this part of town." Tommy sighed. _And, I hope he never adjusts. He's too innocent. I don't want him to become hardened like me._ Tommy added to himself.
[INSIDE RACER X AND HACKER'S TRAILER, LATE NIGHT.]
Hacker sat on the bed she shared with Racer X. She sighed and patted the small bulge in her stomach. Just then, the mysterious Racer X came into the trailer. He looked over at a small girl with dark hair and blue-gray eyes playing with her dolls.
"Hi, Daddee!" She chirped.
"Hello, Tara." Racer X kissed the top of his daughter's head. Then, he turned to his young wife. "Are you OK?"
"I guess so. I haven't been in Angel Grove since I...left." Hacker sighed. "I just hope Billy's OK."
Racer X sat by his wife and put his arms around her. "I know you tried to make your peace with your father, but he wouldn't listen, I was there, remember? Don't blame yourself." He hugged her. Hacker laid her head on his chest.
"I know. I just worry about Billy, that's all. After Mother died, I became his mother, then I left him. He must have felt like he lost his mother again. But, then again, you know what it's like to leave a precious sibling behind." Hacker looked at Racer X.
"Speed." Racer X whispered. (Another Author's note: For those of you who have never watched Speed Racer before, Racer X is Speed's older brother Rex, who ran away from home years ago.) "He really misses me. You know what he told me the other day?" Racer X laughed sadly.
"He said that I remind him of his older brother Rex!" Racer X laughed. Hacker joined in the laughter than sobered.
"Have you talked to Yoshi yet?" She asked.
"No. I talked to Donald and he said that Yoshi doesn't want just to testify against those creeps. He wants revenge and he wants to die." Racer X sighed.
"Are you still gonna take him to the trial?"
"It's all going as planned, but I think when we put Yoshi in that apartment by himself, we made a mistake. He's had three years to brood over everything that happened. And, he's had no one to talk to about it." Racer X's shoulders slumped.
"Yoshi is friends with Billy. Do you think that he knows anything?"
"No. Yoshi doesn't talk about his past to his friends." Racer X said. Just then, the phone rang. Racer X answered it. "Hello?"
"Racer X, we have a small problem." A soft, and familiar, voice said.
"Yoshi, what's wrong?"
"Mitchell kicked Billy out of the house. He's living with me now." Yoshi said, then hung up the phone.
Racer X and Hacker looked at each other in concern.
[TOMMY'S APARTMENT, LATE NIGHT]
Tommy frowned at the phone he had just hung up. It was late in the night and Billy had finally fallen asleep on his futon. A teddy bear, dressed like Einstein, was pressed close to his chest. His glasses were laying next to the futon. Billy's cover was crooked. Quietly, Tommy straightened the cover and brushed Billy's blonde bangs off his face. Then, he kneeled in front of his small shrine. "Please, watch over my friend." He whispered.
Bright sunlight hit Billy's closed eyes. He groaned and rolled over. A hand shook him awake.
"Ohayoo, Birrii-kun!" A voice shouted.
_When did Father learn Japanese?_ Billy thought woozily. _Wait a minute! Japanese??_ Billy bolted upright, striking his head against Tommy's nose.
"Ow! By dib dou do dab!" Tommy asked, covering his bleeding nose with his hands.
"Oh, sorry." Billy blushed.
"Daijoobu." Tommy responded.
"What?" Billy looked at his friend.
"That's OK." Tommy translated. "Did you sleep well last night?" He turned to finish setting the table.
"I guess so." Billy watched his friend go about his morning routine. Tommy had tried to prepare the kind of breakfast Billy was used to. Unfortunately, Tommy had never tried to cook bacon and eggs and thought that the two were to be cooked together. He also wasn't sure where the cheese came into play, so he layered it on top, after it had been cooked. Billy kneeled at the low table, then picked up a fork that Tommy had bought for him. It had Mickey Mouse on it, but it was the only one he could find on such short notice. And, Billy was grateful for Tommy's efforts.
"How are your eggs?" Tommy asked worriedly.
"Fine. I never made them this way before." Billy added. Tommy blushed. "Aren't you going to have any eggs?" Billy asked when he saw that Tommy was only eating a bowl of brown rice with chop sticks.
"No. This is what I always eat for breakfast." Tommy explained.
The boys ate in silence. Just as they had finished their meals, a knock sounded at the door. Tommy stood up and strolled over to the door. He peered out the eye hole. Outside stood Racer X, Hacker, and little Tara. Tommy opened the door and bowed to his guests. "Agatte-kudasai." He stood back. Tara looked at her parents.
"What did he say, Daddy?" She asked.
"He asked us to come in." Racer X translated for his daughter. Then, he slipped off his boots and placed them on the rack. Hacker followed suit with hers. Tara looked from her parents to their shoes, then tugged off her little pink high tops. By this time, Billy had risen to greet his sister.
"Trystan." He whispered. His sister smiled at him and held out Tara for Billy to take. "Meet your niece, Tara Louisa Mitchell." Hacker said. Billy took the child into his arms. Tara threw her small, plump arms around Billy's neck.
"Hi-ya, Uncle Billy!" She chirped. Then, she squirmed out of Billy's grip and tottled over to Tommy. "Hey, Yogi!" She hugged Tommy's slender legs. The Green Ranger picked up the little girl, laughing.
"It's Yoshi not Yogi, Tara." Racer X corrected. Billy stared at his friend.
"That's OK, Racer X. She can call me Yogi if she wants." Tommy gave the little girl a toss and caught her. Tara squealed with delight. "Now, you guys sit and Tara and I will get drinks." Tommy put the little girl down. "Bet'cha I'm faster!" He raced Tara to the kitchen. Once he hit the slick linoleum of the kitchen, Tommy slipped and slid into the kitchen, catching Tara in the process. The two slid until they skidded to a stop at the far wall. Tara jumped up and down, clapping her hands.
"Again, Yogi, again!" She begged.
"Later. I'm sure your mommy, daddy, and uncle Billy are thirsty." Tommy opened the fridge. "What is your favorite flavor of soda?" He asked.
"Strawberry!" Tara exclaimed. Tommy handed her a can of strawberry soda.
"This is Tara's can." He said. Then, he gave her a regular one. "This is Uncle Billy's can." Then, he gave her a diet one. "And, this is Mommy's can."
"OK!" She trotted back into the living room with her precious burden. Tommy retrieved a can of beer for Racer X and himself. Then, he joined his guests in the living room. After giving Racer X his beer, Tommy sat on a cushion farthest from the group. He wanted to give them their privacy. Tara curled up on his lap and drank her soda.
"So, Trystan," Billy started. "What have you been doing since you left home?"
"Well, I married Racer X shortly after I joined the Harlequins. And, I've been racing and raising Tara." Then, she patted her stomach. "And, we have another one on the way." She added proudly.
"Oh. Um, how did you know that I was here?" Billy asked.
"Yoshi, er, Tommy called us and told us what happened." Hacker answered. "Are you OK? Father didn't try to get a few licks in before he kicked out, did he?" Concern was etched on her face as she remembered how physically painful her leaving had been.
"No. Tommy was there to prevent that. Father knew better than to beat me around a witness. Especially a witness that is an expert in seven styles of the Martial Arts." Billy answered in a wry voice. Hacker shook her head, then reached out to Billy. The siblings hugged each other. When Hacker pulled away, she was crying.
"Will you write me now that you don't live with Father anymore?" She asked.
"Affirmative." Billy nodded. "I missed you." He whispered.
Tommy quietly put the now sleeping Tara down and exited the living room. Racer X followed him with a worried look on his face. Once in the room he used for storage, Tommy pulled out his cigarettes and climbed onto the fire escape. He lit up and blew a ring of smoke over the city scape five stories below him. Seeing Billy and Hacker together had reopened wounds that had never fully healed. Tommy closed his eyes, resting his forehead against the cold steel railing. Images of a wall of fire and a fire fighter with bright blue eyes came unbidden into his mind. "Mama. Papa." Tommy whispered softly.
"Is this a private party?" Racer X asked. Tommy looked up. He shrugged his shoulders in a noncommittal gesture. Racer X sipped his beer, then sat next to Tommy. "So, Yoshi..." Racer X started, but Tommy cut him off.
"Don't call me that! Yoshi is dead!" Tommy snapped. "Yoshi died three years ago!" He added.
"Tommy, do you hate us?" Racer X asked in a gentle voice. "Do you?" Tommy looked away from the mysterious man. Racer X sighed and stood up. "The trial is next week. I'll pick you up around noon." He said, then left the Green Ranger musing on his fire escape. Tommy did not go into his apartment until Racer X and his family had left.
"Tommy," Billy hesitated when he saw his friend enter the apartment. "Tommy, can I ask you a question?"
Tommy sighed. He knew this day would be coming. He turned to his friend. "You want to know why Hacker called me Yoshi, right?" Billy nodded yes. Tommy took off his T-shirt and turned his back to Billy. The Blue Ranger gasped with amazement when he saw the network of deep scars that covered Tommy's back. Billy hesitantly ran his hand over them.
"I guess I should tell you that my name wasn't always Tommy Oliver. Up until three years ago, Tommy Oliver did not exist. My real name was Yoshi Kurukawa. I lived in the Shinjuku projects of San Fransico with my family. Yes, everyone was poor and we had a lot of the same problems that most slums have, but we still had our pride and a respect for hard work. The apartments we lived in our ancestors had built by hand. The land had been purchased from the city." Tommy got a far away look in his brown eyes.
"These apartments were on prime land, next to a large, fancy restaurant and some expensive department stores. The man who owned the restaurant and the stores wanted our buildings torn down so he could make parking lots. We refused his offer of a buy out. That was when the threats started. Broken windows, racial graffiti spray painted on the walls. Simple stuff like that. Nothing different than what we encountered everyday, just for being Japanese. Well, I was fourteen at the time. I was in the basement, playing cards with a few friends. There was a major ice storm brewing outside, so we didn't chance going out for our fun. We saw several members of a gang, the Lord Gangstas, laying bundles around the central heater. They ran when they saw us looking at them. We reported it to the super of the building, but he ignored us. By that night, we had also dismissed the strange bundles from our minds. I wish we hadn't." Tommy paused in his story.
"What happened?" Billy asked. "Were those bundles incendiary devices?"
"Yes. Fire bombs. There were literarily a ton of them in the buildings. They went off that night. Killing everyone but me and a few others. I was found in my bedroom by this young fire fighter. He managed to get me out. But, I had third degree burns all over my back. I was almost dead from smoke inhalation. I later learned that the other survivors, there were three others, died later from their injuries. I was the only survivor and the only one who had seen the gang who did it." Tommy hesitated. "And, I also know who was behind it. Malcum Brewster."
"Of Brewster's Industries?" Billy yelped incredulously. "The guy sponsoring the big race this week!" Billy exclaimed.
"I saw his right hand man, Robert McNickles there. And, I heard him talking to Brewster."
"But why would the nation's largest philanthropist commit mass murder?"
"Greed. He wanted everything, and when the residents of the Shinjuku projects didn't give in, he did what he wanted anyways. After the fire, there was no one left to fight the sale of the land." Tommy slumped down in his cushion.
"But, Tommy, that was three years ago! You've only lived in Angel Grove for a year! Where were you for two years?" Billy demanded.
"I was in a coma for three months. After I recovered from my injuries, nine months later, I was sent to a rehab center for a year."
"So, after you were discharged from the center, you were sent to Angel Grove to live, right?" Billy said. "Why?"
"Well, the Attorney General got word of who was behind the Shinjuku Projects Fire and started an in depth investigation. They wanted their only eye witness, me, in a witness protection program, but there had been some serious leaks in their program. That's when the fire fighter who had saved me stepped in. He had a friend who worked for an agency of some kind who could hide me. The fire fighter's name was Gregory Racer, better known as "Speed" Racer. And, Racer X, your sister's husband, was his friend. They gave me a new name and a new history. And, they got me enrolled in Angel Grove High. They setup this apartment for me. The man you saw leaving my apartment yesterday was in charge of guarding me and making sure that there was nothing that I needed. Like money, medical care, stuff like that." Tommy traced a scar on his leg.
"You lost everyone in that fire, didn't you." It wasn't a question. Tommy nodded.
"Mama and Papa. Tomoko, my baby sister. Kennichi, my kid brother. My grandparents. My best friends. And, Shio." Tears were falling down his face.
"Who was Shio?"
"My girlfriend!" Tommy wailed. He buried his head in his hands and cried. Billy, still stinging from his own personal loss, wrapped his arms around his friend. Together, the boys cried, comforting each other.
[THE NEXT DAY, ANGEL GROVE RACE WAY]
All of Angel Grove was abuzz with the week long activities that would lead up to the big race. School had been canceled for the week, so the students could enjoy it. The student government even had a booth set up, one of many, selling cookies done in the shapes of race cars and home made chocolate candies done in a racing theme. Kimberly and Trini worked the booth, which was next to the one Ernie set up to sell his juice drinks and sandwhiches from.
"Isn't this soo kewl!" Kimberly squealed as she laid out cookies on checkered flag napkins.
"Yeah! And, those cookies are adorable!" Trini agreed. She was laying out the candies in clear plastic, car shaped containers. "Who made them?"
"Zach did!" Kimberly laughed.
"Zach?? Our Zachary Taylor?" Trini's mouth dropped open. "The same Zach who failed Home Economcis in eighth grade! The same one who almost blew up the school when he tried to bake a cake!"
"Yeah, he learned by helping his mother! And, his cookies are the best!" Kimberly giggled. Then, she brushed a strand of her light brown hair out of her eyes. "I hope Tommy gets here soon. He promised to help us with the booth! I hope he didn't forget."
Trini sighed. "Well, if he did, he does have an excuse. He has to get Billy settled into his apartment. And, it has to be culture shock for Billy. I mean, Tommy's way of life is very Japanese."
"True, but I think Tommy is trying to make it easy for Billy. He called me this morning and wanted to know why bacon and eggs were called that if you didn't cook them together!" Kimberly laughed. Trini's eyes went wide.
"He didn't?!" She gasped.
"Yep. But, Billy ate them anyway. It was the thought that counts. Oh, there he is!" Kimberly pointed to her boyfriend. He and Billy were cutting through the milling crowds. Kimberly jumped up and waved. As soon as Tommy was within range, Kimberly ran up to him and nearly tackled him. "Hi-ya, Handsome!" She purred in his ear.
"Hey yourself." He kissed her check, then put her down.
"How are ya doin', Billy?" Kimberly turned to her friend.
"As well as can be expected." Billy answered. He smiled sadly. Tommy put his hand on Billy's shoulder and gave it a squeeze. The Green Ranger understood his friend's problem better than anyone on the team.
"Well, um, have you seen Jason and Zach around?" Trini asked to break the uncomfortable silence.
"Yeah, they were gawking at the Senoritas Race team from New Mexico." Tommy pointed to a group of busty females in bikinis and racing helmets. A large group of unattached and lonely males were around them.
"Ew! What sluts!" Kimberly wrinkled her nose. Trini nodded in agreement.
"I find this totally amazing, Billy." Tommy commented to his friend.
"What?" Billy asked.
"That when pretty girls see other pretty girls, they act like they are smelling onions!" Tommy laughed. Billy paused for a moment to consider the joke, then joined in the merriment with his Green friend. "I guess we should get those two before they get themselves and us into trouble." Tommy shook his head. Being a man with a steady girlfriend, he didn't understand the way his unattached friends behaved around women, or the needs that drove them to their erratic behavior. Tommy and Billy strolled over to their drooling team mates. Tommy grabbed Jason by the collar while Zach recieved simular treatment from Billy.
"Hey!" Zach protested.
"We're supposed to be helpin' Kim and Trini at the both. Not hittin' on bikini bimbos!" Tommy growled. He hadn't slept well the night before and Jason was going to face the brunt of the Green Ranger's anger. Jason looked at Tommy. He was pale and his long hair was disheveled. Dark circles underscored his brown eyes.
"Sorry." Jason said meekly. He knew that this wasn't a time to pick a fight with Tommy. _What is wrong with him?_ Jason thought to himself. _He's been moody since he learned about this charity race._ The leader of the Power Rangers made a promise to himself to take Tommy aside when all this was over and try to get him to talk about what ever was eating at his soul.
The male Rangers joined Kimberly and Trini just as the Harliquen Racing Team strolled over to the booth. The putty waved to the Rangers, recongizing them from his days as a warrior for Rita Repulssa.
"Droo! Woo!" He jumped up and down and waved.
"Shit!" Tommy growled. The Rangers fell into defensive stances.
"Trystan, get out of the way!" Billy yelled.
"What's wrong, Billy?" Hacker asked her brother, puzzled by the sudden change in her little brother's temperment.
"There's a putty behind you!" Kimberly shouted.
Hacker turned around, then smiled. "That's only Miguel. He's a friend. He's on our team." She explained. The Rangers relaxed their guard slightly.
"How did he get on your team?" Jason demanded.
"We found him." Racer X said. "He was considered defective by Rita Repulssa and was marked to be destroyed. For some reason he escaped. He's inteligent and can speak a little bit." Hacker's mysterious husband added.
"Heerroo!" Miguel chripped. The Rangers stared in amazement.
"Um, Hello." Jason said. "I'm Jason Lee Scott." He held out his hand. _I never thought I'd see the day when I'd shake hands with a Putty!_ Jason thought to himself.
"Tommy Oliver." Tommy whispered.
"Billy Mitchell." Billy spoked up.
"Miicherru? Haakerrr ssssiissstta?" The Putty asked.
"Affirmative. Hacker is my older sister." Billy nodded his head.
"Kimberly Harte." Kim stuck out her hand.
"Zachary Taylor. Pleased to meetcha!" Zach laughed. "Hey, Miguel, do you think you could introduce the Jase-man and myself to those lovely Senoritas?"
"Ookee dookey!" Miguel scrambled off in the direction of the Senoritas. At the edge of the group, Miguel pointed to a set of identical twins. "Sarrahh Saannddee girrru furiiendus!" Jason and Zach looked at each other, wide eyed.
"A putty has two girlfriends?" Jason whispered. Zach shrugged his shoulders. "What do they do with him?"
"Dunno." Zach frowned. Then, he flashed his brightest smile at the nearest Senorita. "Hello, Ladies, I'm the Zach-man!" He twirled around and did a little dance. The bikini clad lady looked down her nose at Zach.
Jason approached another Senorita. "You me tonight." He ordered. The lady pushed him aside.
The Rangers and the Harliquens watched the Senoritas reject the two Rangers. Tommy winced at the thought of their bruised egos. However, he did not blame the Senoritas. _What is about females that make those two into horny jerks?_ Tommy asked himself. Then, he noticed who the Senoritas, _sans_ the twins, were staring at with unbridled passion in their eyes. "Billy," Tommy whispered. "I think those Senoritas like you."
Billy turned bright red. "Oh God no!" He whimpered. He hid behind Tommy as the six Senoritas advanced on them.
"I'm Amazonia." The leader, an Amazon of at least six foot six inches tall, stuck out her hand. Tommy found himself straining his neck to see Amazonia's face. It had been a long time since Tommy, the tallest of the Rangers at six foot even, had to look up to a woman. Amazonia was pretty, not too little girlish or masculine, as was the case for some tall women, in her looks. She was not muscular, but had a nice tone to her long, lean body.
"I'm Tommy Oliver. These are my friends, Billy Mitchell and Trini Kwuan and my girlfriend, Kimberly Harte. The would be Romeos in red and black are my friends Jason Lee Scott and Zach Taylor, respectively." Tommy did the introductions. "And, I'm assuming that you know the Harliquens."
"Hacker, it's been a long time." Amazonia hugged her friend.
"Too long. Maybe we can get together before the race this weekend, OK?" Hacker smiled.
"Great. I know we have another baby shower to plan." Amazonia grinned. Then, she turned her dazzling smile to Billy. "Isn't he your little brother?" She asked Hacker.
"Yes." Hacker laughed. "And, he's unattached right now." She added. Billy turned a brighter shade of red and used Tommy to deflect the intensity of Amazonia's smile and the unsettling effects she had on him.
"What's wrong with you, Billy?" Tommy whispered.
"I don't know. I have this tightness in my pants. I'm scared." He whispered back. "I didn't have this tightness until I saw Amazonia up close!"
Tommy grinned softly. He knew it would have to happen sometime in Billy's life. "We'll talk about this later, OK. When we go home, but for now, why don't you go and talk to her."
Billy's eyes went wide. "What? Me talk to her? What would I talk to her about?" His hands went to his throat.
"I dunno. Cars, the weather, the race next weekend." Tommy advised.
"OK." Billy took a deep breath and stepped out from behind Tommy. He wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans. He smiled shily at Amazonia. "I'm Billy Mitchell, Trystan, er Hacker's little brother." He said. Nervously he fiddled with his glasses. Then, he stared at his shoes. Tommy tapped Amazonia on the shoulder, then, when she leaned down, he whispered something in her ear. Amazonia nodded her head and smiled softly at Billy. The Senorita's head driver held out her hand to Billy. The two strolled away. With their leader gone, the other Senoritas giggled.
"What a bod he's got hidden under those overalls! I wonder what he can do with it!" One said.
"I love a smart man! Techno-babble is the ultimate turn on!" Another squealed.
"His glasses are so cute!"
"Amazonia's the lucky one! She should learn to share!"
Jason and Zach shook their heads in amazement. "I can't believe it! A putty and a nerd get the girls! What do they have that we don't?" Jason growled. Then, he sighed. _Women are such funny creatures._ He thought.
A half hour later, a rather shell-shocked Billy rejoined his friends. Amazonia kissed him on the cheek and went to rejoin her team for the festivities.
"Are you OK?" Kimberly asked.
"Fine. Just fine." Billy said in a dazed voice. Then, he looked at Tommy. "Tommy, can we go someplace private to talk?"
"Sure. C'mon." Tommy smiled.
The two boys edged their way through the milling crowds. They waved to friends and teachers, but didn't stop to engage them in conversation. Once the boys were away from the worst of the crowds, they stopped.
"Now, what do you want to talk about?" Tommy asked.
Billy looked around to make sure no one was within hearing distance. "I think I have feelings for Amazonia." He whispered.
"That's great!" Tommy whispered. "But, you look upset. Why? What's wrong?"
"I've never felt like this before. I don't know what to do!" Billy wailed.
Before Tommy could answer his friend, a group of gang bangers dressed in demin and leather surrounded them. They pulled out guns and aimed them at Tommy.
"You Tommy Oliver?" One demanded.
"Yeah." Tommy said, a sinking feeling in his heart. A gang banger grabbed Tommy and jerked him away from Billy.
"NO! Let him go!" Billy cried out. He gripped the man's arm and tried to break his hold on Tommy. Instead, the man swung his free arm and hit Billy in the face. His glasses flew off his face as Billy slammed into a wall. "Oh." He groaned.
"You bastard!" Tommy dug his elbow into the man's face, then kneed him in the groin. The man let Tommy go. The Green Ranger ran to his friend's side. "Billy, get out of here." He whispered. "It's me they want."
"No. I'm not going to leave you." Billy clung to Tommy's sleeve.
Tommy slipped off a chain with a ring on it from around his neck. He pulled the ring off and gave it to Billy. "Give this to Kimberly and tell her that I loved her." He whispered. Before Billy would respond, Tommy shoved Billy pass the gang bangers. "RUN, BILLY!" He screamed. Then, Tommy attacked the gang bangers to give his friend time to escape. One guy managed to get a few shots off and hit Billy in the right leg. Billy ignored the pain and kept running. He stopped when he heard two gun shots and Tommy's agonized scream. Billy spun around and saw his friend laying on the street in a growing pool of his own blood.
"NO!!" Billy screeched then attacked the man who had shot Tommy. Billy tackled him from behind and mercilessly pounded him. The gun fell from the man's hand and Billy scooped it up. "Get your lousy carcasses against the wall!" Billy growled at the gang bangers. There was a wild look in Billy's eyes that told them that the Blue Rangers was extremely unstable and unpredictable at the moment. He stood on the wounded gang banger, making sure to dig his heels into the man's back. Billy focused on Tommy. He was alive, but only barely so. Tommy had suffered one gunshot wound to the left shoulder and another to the left side of the chest, far from the heart.
Just then, a black limo pulled up behind Billy. Billy spun around. Out stepped a chubby, pink cheeked man. It was Malcum Brewster. A driver built like a gorilla followed close behind. Brewster made a gester to the driver and the driver punched Billy hard in the jaw. Billy fell back, striking his head on the cement of the sidewalk.
"Load 'em both in the trunk." Brewster ordered the driver, then climbed back in his limo.
"Yes, sir." The driver saluted, then did his employer's bidding.
The Rangers were beginning to get worried about their friends. Jason excused himself, then tried to use the communicators to find Tommy and Billy. He heard only static, then the sound of gun shots. "Zordon, come in, this is Jason! It's urgent!" Jason called his mentor.
-I AM AWARE OF WHAT HAPPENED. ALPHA AND I ARE TRYING TO TRACK TOMMY AND BILLY RIGHT NOW. Zordon was slient for a moment. Then he said: -TOMMY AND BILLY ARE IN THE BREWSTER OIL STORAGE WAREHOUSE. HURRY, JASON, THEY ARE IN GREAT DANGER!
Jason didn't take the time to sign off. He ran to his friends. "Guys, Tommy and Billy are in danger!" He panted. Then, he proceeded to tell a phony story about him seeing the abduction.
"Where did they say they were going?" Racer X demanded.
"Um, the Brewster Oil Storage Warehouse." Jason answered.
Just then, Speed spoke up. "Let's go. Trystan, stay here with the twins and Tara. The rest of us, let's get them!" The Rangers and members of the Harliquen and Senoritas racing teams ran towards the storage bays. There, they piled into the cars and sped to the warehouse.
[IN THE BREWSTER OIL STORAGE WAREHOUSE]
Billy opened his eyes to find himself and Tommy tied up near several leaking barrels of oil. His head was throbbing and his vision was blurred. He squinted and was able to make out the image of Brewster tying several cords together.
"Well, Mr. Mitchell, you are awake." Brewster said.
"What do you want with us?" Billy asked.
"It's not you that I want, Mr. Mitchell. It's your friend, Yoshi, or as you call him Tommy Oliver, that I want. You were in the way, that's all. Nothing personal." Brewster shrugged his shoulders.
"How do you know my name?" Billy demanded.
"Your stupid father told me at a social function. He was bragging about his inteligent son." Brewster sighed. "But the real surpise came when he showed me a picture of you and Yoshi together."
"I'm sure you had quite a shock." Billy commented drily.
"Yes. Seeing a boy alive that I knew was dead is quite disturbing. Especially with that silly trial in San Fransico coming up in a week." Brewster finished tying the cords. "So, I had my spies track down Yoshi. If you had only listened to him when he told you to run, you wouldn't be in this mess. But, now, you must die with your friend. Pleasent dreams, Mr. Mitchell." Brewster lit the cords, then left.
A thick oily smoke quickly filled the warehouse, then an explosion knocked Billy over. He watched in total consternation as the flames quickly spread over the oil barrels.
[OUTSIDE THE WAREHOUSE]
The race cars pulled up infront of the warehouse just as Brewster ran out. Kimberly jumped out of Amazonia's car and knocked the business man to the ground.
"Where are my friends?" She growled. "What did you do to them! So help me, if you hurt them, especially Tommy, I'll kill you with my bare hands!"
Racer X pulled the enraged Pink Ranger off Brewster. The other Rangers were searching the grounds for signs of their missing friends. Jason was on the other side when the explosion rocked the area.
"Zordon, where are they?"
-BILLY AND TOMMY ARE IN THE WAREHOUSE. MORPH AND GET IN THERE.
"Right. IT'S MORPHIN TIME!"
The Red Ranger teleported into the burning warehouse and found Billy semi-conscious and Tommy completely unconscious. Jason pulled Billy to his feet, then gently slung Tommy over his shoulder. Large, burning beams fell around the boys as Jason tried to get Billy to stand up. But, with the gun shot wound in his right leg, Billy was unable to stand on his own. Finally, Jason let Billy lean against him. With his friends close by, Jason teleported out of the warehouse, infront of Racer X and the rest of them. The Red Ranger laid Tommy on the ground. Zach came over and took Billy. Speed pushed him away and did a cursory exman.
"He's not breathing! And, his heart's not beating. Get an ambulance over here STAT!" Speed yelled. The Red Ranger kneeled by Tommy's chest and started pumping it. Speed counted the number of compressions, then forced air into Tommy's smoke filled lungs. The two worked together until the ambulance arrived and was able to finish resuscitating Tommy. Then, Tommy was placed on a stretcher and rushed to the hospital. A young, Korean paramedic stayed behind to treat Billy. The Red Ranger teleported away.
"I'd still go to the hospital, if I were you." The boy said. "I can take you and two others with me in my car."
"Wait, where's Jason?" Trini asked.
Jason landed behind the building and unMorphed. Then, he ran to join his friends. "The explosion knocked me down. I think I was knocked out for a while." He lied to Racer X.
"OK. You, Kimberly and Billy go to with, um, what is your name, young man?" Racer X turned to the paramedic.
"Adam Park. Let's go." He smiled. He lead the group to his car, pausing to wave to a Hispanic fire fighter. "Hey, Rocky!" He smiled. Rocky waved back, then went to work. Jason suppressed a shutter he felt go through him when he heard Rocky's name.
[ANGEL GROVE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, ICU WAITING ROOM]
The Rangers huddled together as they waited for news on their friend and teammate, Tommy Oliver. The members of the two racing teams were near by. Racer X was talking on a cel phone a few feet away, while Speed had stayed behind at the fire to help. Billy limped down the hallway with Amazonia by his side. Billy's right leg was in a cast and he had a bandage around his forehead. He still did not have his glasses. Amazonia lead Billy to a chair and sat him down.
"Have you heard anything?" Amazonia asked.
"No." Kimberly sobbed. Just then, the doctor came out.
"He's going to be OK." The doctor said. The Rangers wilted with relief. "He's awake and wants to talk to a Jason Lee Scott. Is he here?"
Jason stood up. "That's me."
"Follow me, please." The doctor said.
As Jason left, Billy handed Kimberly the ring. "Tommy told me to give this to you and to tell you that he loves you." Kimberly broke down crying again. Trixie, Speed Racer's girlfriend, wrapped her arms around her.
Jason slipped on a sterile, yellow gown at the enternce to the ICU rooms.
"You may have fifteen minutes, and don't upset him. He needs all his strength to get well." The doctor advised. "He's right over there."
Jason walked over to the cubicle and pushed aside the curtain. "Tommy." He said quietly. The Green Ranger was pale with dark circles under his eyes. Machines, wires, and tubes surrounded the thin boy. Tommy looked up at his friend. His hair fell haphazardly over his face. Jason brushed Tommy's long hair out of his face. "You really had us worried." Jason smiled softly. His normally loud, commanding voice was lowered. "Especially Kimberly. She nearly killed Brewster herself, she was so upset." Jason laughed.
"Why did you save me?" Tommy demanded, pushing Jason's hand away from his face.
"What?" Jason looked incredulous.
"Why the hell didn't you let me die!" Tommy started to sit up, but Jason pushed him back down.
"Why didn't I let you die?" Jason repeated. "Tommy, dammit, you're my best friend!" Jason looked around to make sure no one was listening. "And, you're a Power Ranger. One of us!" He added in a lower tone of voice.
"Not for much longer." Tommy said. "I can feel my Powers fading away more and more every day."
"Tommy, you've got so much to live for. You've got Kimberly, your Karate, your friends..." Jason said.
"You don't know shit about me, Jason." Tommy growled. His chest was heaving with sobs. "You don't know shit!" He cried. Just then, an alarm went off. The nurses rushed into the cubicle.
"I'm sorry, but you'll have to leave now." A nurse said. Jason looked at Tommy, who was having trouble breathing.
"I'm sorry, Tommy." Jason whispered, then left.
The Power Rangers paced back and forth as they waited for an update on Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger. The police were questioning Billy Mitchell in a conference room. Jason Lee Scott slumped into a chair with a sigh. He mentally played back his conversation with Tommy. _"You don't know shit about me!"_ Tommy had wailed out before the alarms went off and Jason was ushered out of ICU. _Tommy, what is wrong?_ Jason asked himself. _What is hurting you inside? And, why are you pushing us away?_
"Damn!" Jason swore. Zach looked at his friend.
"What's wrong?" Zach asked.
"It's like he's falling over the edge of a cliff and we are the only rope he can cling to and that rope is greased!" Jason growled. "Dammit, Zach, we're loosing him! He's slipping farther and farther away from us!"
"Tommy?" Zach whispered.
"Yeah. He was very upset when I talked to him. I don't think he wants to live anymore." Jason ran his hand through his short dark hair.
"What do you mean?" Zach frowned.
"I can't explain it, but I'm really worried about Tommy. He's been tense since the charity race was announced and now this!" Jason said. "I mean, what is going with him?"
Zach sat next to his friend. "I wish I knew. Maybe Billy knows something since he's living with Tommy now." The Black Ranger suggested.
Jason got up and walked over to Kimberly who was still crying. Trini and Trixie, Speed Racer's girlfriend, were trying to comfort her.
"How is she?" Jason asked.
"Worried sick about Tommy." Trini answered. "Have you heard anything from the doctors?"
"Nothing." Jason said. "I've asked the nurse several times and she won't tell me anything!" The Red Ranger always had a short fuse, and that night he struggled to keep it on a tight leash.
Just then, Amazonia lead Billy out of the conference room. A police officer spoke to the nurse, then left. At the elevator, the officer ran into Mr. Mitchell. He was carrying a brown paper bag. Mitchell warily approached the Rangers. The temperature in the room dropped several degrees. Mitchell stood infront of his son.
"Um, Billy, the hospital called me to get premission to treat you." Mitchell started hesitantly. "And, they told me that you lost your glasses. Here. I brought you some clean clothes and your spare glasses." He handed Billy the bag. Billy took it with out speaking. Mitchell looked at his feet. "How is Tommy?" Mitchell asked.
"We don't know." Hacker spoke up. Mitchell turned around and gasped when he saw his oldest daughter.
"Trystan." He whispered. He stared at the little girl in her arms. Except for having dark hair, Tara could have been her mother at the age of three. "Is she yours?" He asked, nodding towards Tara.
"Yes. She's mine and Racer X's. She's our daughter. Your granddaughter." Hacker said.
Mitchell walked up to the couple. He smiled softly at Tara. "What is your name, honey?" He asked the little girl.
"Tara." She answered. She held out her little hand to shake.
Mitchell shook his granddaughter's hand. "I'm very pleased to meet you." He said formally. Tara giggled.
"Mommee, where is Yogi?" Tara asked suddenly.
"He's sick dear. He's with the doctor." Racer X answered.
"Yogi?" Mitchell questioned.
"Her name for Tommy." Hacker explained.
"Oh." Mitchell nodded his head. Before he could say anything else, the doctor came out of the ICU unit. The Rangers stood up.
"How is Tommy?" Jason demanded.
"Tommy'll be all right in a few weeks." The doctor answered. The Rangers clustered around the doctor with a shout of joy. "He's been sadated, so if you want to go and see him, you can." The doctor added.
"What was wrong with him?" Jason asked quietly. "What did those alarms mean?"
"You know that your friend was shot in the chest, right?" Jason nodded. "Well, he suffered so much damage to his left lung that we had to remove part of it. His oxygen supply has been reduced. His body is not used to the reduced oxygen supply and when he got upset, he stopped breathing. He'll adjust to it in time." Then, the doctor paused. He looked over his notes. "He smokes doesn't he?" He added quietly.
"Yes, he does." Billy spoke up.
The doctor sighed, then handed Billy the ciggerattes Tommy had in his pockets when he was shot. "He'll have to quit now."
Billy nodded the best he could considering he had a concussion. "I'll get rid of these, and the ones at the apartment, when I burn these bloody clothes." The Blue Ranger sighed as he stared at his ruined clothes. They were coated with blood and grime.
Mitchell also looked at his son's clothing. Billy and Hacker tensed, waiting for Mitchell to go into a tirade about the state of his clothes and the bad impression that they would make on people. "Billy, why don't I take you into the men's room so you can change." He offered. "I'm sure you'd be more comfortable."
"Ok." Billy followed his father into the men's room. Hacker relaxed as the two men left. Once they were inside, Mitchell helped Billy pull off his stained clothes. Billy's jeans had been cut so the doctors could get to the gunshot wound on his right leg.
Mitchell tossed the bloody jeans into a heap on the floor. That was followed by Billy's shirt and underclothes. All were stained red-brown from Billy's own blood and streaked black with soot. Then, Mitchell helped Billy wash off the best he could using the hospital's wash room facilities. Not looking his son the face, Mitchell dressed Billy. The shocks of the day were starting to catch up with the Blue Ranger. He leaned back against the wall and groaned.
"Are you OK?" Mitchell asked in a worried voice.
"Just tired." Billy murmured.
Mitchell slipped Billy's glasses on his face. "Son," Mitchell hesitated. "When the doctors called me and told me that you had been shot...." His voice broke off. Tears fell out of Mitchell's blue-gray eyes. "I thought that I'd lost you!" He sobbed and held his son close. "Billy, I know what I did was stupid." Mitchell said when he calmed down. "I only wanted what was best for you and Trystan. "But," He shook his head. "I seem to do what is worst for you." He sighed. Before Billy could protest, Mitchell said: "Son, I would be happy if you would stay with me until your friend is well. Tommy is to stay too. Neither of you are in any shape to be alone." Mitchell added before Billy could decline. "Please. Give me this one chance." Mitchell pleaded. "Please..."
Billy was exhausted both mentally and physically. He sighed once, then said: "OK. I'll go home with you tonight, but I want to see Tommy before I leave."
"Of course, son." Mitchell said. He held the door for his youngest child. They passed Hacker, Racer X and Tara in the hallway. Mitchell paused. "Trystan, Billy is staying with me tonight. He's had too many shocks to be alone in an apartment."
"Very wise, father." Hacker said in a guarded voice.
"I would appreicate it if you and your family stayed with me also." Mitchell added. "William will be in the downstairs guest room. It has its own bathroom. He can't handle the stairs with his crutches. You can have your old room back." Mitchell added in a rush.
Hacker nodded. "OK. Are you leaving right now?"
"No. William wants to see Tommy." Mitchell paused. "If you are leaving right now could you make sure that Jedi doesn't try and run Willam down when he gets home?"
"Of course, father." Hacker laughed. Then, she, her husband and her daughter left the hospital.
Mitchell joined Billy at the door of the ICU. Billy was struggling to put on a sterile gown so he could go in and visit his friend. Mitchell aided his son, then donned a gown of his own.
"You can have five minutes." The nurse told them, then lead the Mitchell's to Tommy's tiny cubicle. The other Rangers had left by that time.
Tommy was deep in the arms of a drugged sleep. Billy quietly gripped his friend's still hand, then left. He couldn't find the right words to say to the sleeping Green Ranger.
"Let's go home, son." Mitchell put his arm around Billy. Billy followed his father out of the hospital. By the time they were home, Trystan had the downstairs guest room ready for her younger brother. Wearing a pair of his father's old pajamas, Billy fell asleep as soon as he arrived home.
Racer X looked at his sleeping brother-in-law. Billy was wearing pajamas too big for him and he was pale, making him look younger than his sixteen years. Racer X had seen the haunted look in the boy's eyes when Billy was at the hospital. He shook his masked head, then closed the door.
"How is he?" Hacker asked her husband when she saw him leave Billy's room.
"Asleep." Racer X answered. Then, he sighed. Hacker looked at him questioningly. "I'm worried about him. Did you see the look in his eyes?"
Racer X shook his head. "I have a feeling that Billy is going to have to grow up very fast." He said grimly, then laid down next to his wife.
"What do you mean?" Hacker sat up. "Rex," She implored, using her husband's real name when he didn't answer immediately. "What is going on with Billy?"
Racer X sighed. "If Brewster had not showed up when he did, I think that Billy would have killed the gang bangers. Those aggressive feelings are new to him. It's a side of himself that he's never faced before."
"Oh, poor Billy!" Hacker wailed. "What can we do for him?"
"I'll talk to him tomorrow, after I arrange for some tighter security for Yoshi in the hospital. Oh, damn!" Racer X slapped his forehead. "I forgot to give the doctor Yoshi's medical records! Damn!"
"You've been hanging around Yoshi too much." Hacker giggled, then snuggled up against her husband.
"You!" Racer X growled, then pinned his wife under him, being mindful of the baby she carried. Hacker pulled Racer X's head down and kissed him....
[THE MITCHELL HOUSE, LATER THAT NIGHT]
Racer X slept with his young wife in his arms. Suddenly, he hear Billy cry out: "No! No!" Rex Racer slipped out of bed and gripped his gun. He ran down the stairs and burst into Billy's room. The young blonde boy was thrashing about his bed, trapped in nightmare.
"Billy," Racer X shook the boy's shoulder. "Billy, wake up, you're having a nightmare!"
"NO!" Billy sat up. A rush of pain forced the Blue Ranger to lay back down. He opened his eyes, to find a gun wielding Racer X leaning over him. "Oh!" He exclaimed. "Racer X, you startled me." Billy said lamely.
Racer X sat on Billy's bed. "What's wrong, Billy?"
Billy rolled over and buried his head in his hands. He was crying. "I killed them! In my dream! I couldn't stop shooting, even when the gun was empty!" He wailed. Racer X put his arms around his little brother-in-law. The mysterious, masked man rocked back and forth, humming a song his mother had sung to him when he was a child. When the crying fit had passed, Billy looked up at Racer X. "Racer X, what is wrong with me?" He sobbed.
"What do you mean, Billy?"
"Those gangbangers. I would have killed them if Brewster hadn't appeared when he did and I know that if it were to happen again, I _would_ kill them with out hesitation!" The Blue Ranger cried.
Racer X lifted Billy's chin so that his brother-in-law was facing him. "Billy, those feelings are normal. They are your survival instints. You were acting in the defense of yourself and your good friend who couldn't defense himself." Rex Racer said in a gentle voice. "Don't be ashamed of them."
"But, I was going to _kill_ another human being!" Billy exclaimed.
"Yes, you were, but they were going to kill you and Yoshi, er Tommy. It was self defense." Racer X responded.
Billy looked the masked man in the eye. In Rex's brown eyes, the Blue Ranger could see the same horror and disillusionment that he had felt reflected back at him. "You've killed people before." He whispered.
"Yes. Protecting myself, my country, and my loved ones." Racer X sighed. "It's not easy, but it is something that I have done and will do again."
Billy shivered and pulled his blankets around him. "How do you do it?" He asked.
"You have to do what you can to survive. There is no way around it." Racer X said. Billy looked down at his cast. The bullet had passed through his right thigh, breaking the bone.
"I know, but it is hard." Billy sighed again. He laid back against his pillows.
"Get some sleep, Billy." Racer X advised. "Things will look clearer in the morning."
"OK. Good night." Billy murmured. He closed his eyes as soon as Racer X left.
[THE NEXT DAY, ANGEL GROVE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL]
Kimberly Harte pushed back the sweat soaked hair of her boyfriend, Tommy Oliver. He had been moved from ICU and put in an isolation room with heavy security. Sometime during the night, he developed a high fever.
"Poor thing." Kim murmured gently. She wiped his face with a cool wash cloth. The cool dampness revived the Green Ranger slightly.
"Shio." Tommy suddenly murmured. "Buko-no...Shio-chan..." He whispered, then fell into a fevered sleep.
Kimberly looked at her boyfriend. _Who is Shio?_ She asked herself. She kissed Tommy's forehead and flinched when she felt the intense heat searing her lips. Her tears ran down her face and struck Tommy's eyes. He didn't open them.
"Tommy." Kim sobbed. She continued to bathe his face with the cool water.
Just then, Jason walked into Tommy's room with a quiet greeting to one of the guards, a former student of his.
"Paul," Jason asked. "How is Tommy?"
"Not good, _Sensei_ Jason." Paul answered.
"Damn." Jason sighed. He approached Kimberly. The Pink Ranger spoke before he could.
"Jason, could you refill this basin? The water is too warm." Kim said in a distracted tone.
Jason gripped her shoulder. "Kim, why don't you go home and get some rest. There's nothing you can do for Tommy right now."
SPLASH! Kimberly tossed the contents of the basin onto Jason. Paul stepped forward and wrenched Kimberly's arms behind her back. The Pink Ranger cried with pain.
"Let her go, Paul." Jason ordered.
"Yes, Sensei!" Paul obeyed his former teacher and released the girl.
"Buku no tomodachi-tachi! Dame da yo! Mama-san! Papa-san! SHIO-CHAN!!" Tommy screamed out in his delirium.
Kimberly spun around and cradled Tommy, ignoring all the wires and tubes that surrounded him. When Tommy wailed in pain, Kimberly let go and ran out of the room and out of the hospital. She didn't stop until she reached the Mitchell house. She pounded on the door.
"Kimberly!" Racer X exclaimed. "What are you doing here? I thought that you'd be at the hospital with Yoshi, er, Tommy."
"I have to talk to you." Kimberly cried. Racer X backed up and let her into the house. The masked man lead the Pink Ranger into the living room, where Hacker and Billy were talking. Both stopped when they saw Kimberly's tear-streaked faced. Hacker stood up.
"Kimberly, what's wrong?" Hacker asked.
"What is going on here!" Kim wailed. "Why was Tommy shot!? Why? Why are there so many guards around him!? What is going on!?" She sobbed out in one breath.
Racer X lead the distressed girl to the couch. "Kimberly," He said. "Kim, Tommy was shot by the orders of a man named Malcum Brewster. He killed all of Tommy's family and friends a few years back in San Fransico."
"How?" Kim asked.
"In the Shinjuku fire." Billy spoke up. "Tommy is the only survivor. He used to be known as Yoshi Kurukawa."
"Impossible!" Kimberly gasped. "Yoshi died! I mean, it was in all the papers! He died three months after the fire!"
"No, he didn't. After we realized that Yoshi was going to live, we put out that he had died and put Yoshi in a witness protection program. Not the offical one, mind you. And, we changed his name to Tommy Oliver." Racer X explained.
"Why wasn't I told any of this?" Kim demanded.
"For your own protection. If Brewster found out that Yoshi was still alive, he'd kill Yoshi, or someone close to him, to silence him." Racer X said.
"Did he think that I'd betray him? Doesn't he realize that he could trust me completely?" Kimberly sobbed. "I thought Tommy and I really had something special, but I guess I was wrong." She turned to leave.
Billy snagged her sleeve as she passed him. "Kim, I'm sure that it wasn't a lack of trust. Tommy probably just wanted to protect you...." Billy protested, but Kimberly ran out of the house before he could finish.
[THE HALL MANSION, THRITY MINUTES LATER]
Kimberly stormed into the house. She slammed the ornate Tiffany stained glass and polished oak door behind her. "MOM!" She screamed. Kim ran up the stairs. She threw open the door to her mother's suite of rooms. Her mother was perched infront of her large, glided mirror, applying make up.
"Kimberly Anne Harte!" She scolded with out turning around. "What is wrong with you?"
"Mom, where are you going?" Kim asked.
"Out with Malcum Brewster, dear. He's a charming man." Mrs. Hall sighed. "So refined, so genteel. Not like my previous husbands." She scowled. Kim rolled her eyes.
"Mom, maybe you shouldn't date Mr. Brewster so much." Kim said hesitantly.
"Why?" Mrs. Hall's eyes narrowed.
"Well, I mean, he had all those people killed in the Shinjuku Projects a few years ago. And, he tried to kill Tommy and Billy the other day. What if he tries to hurt you..." Kim said. Her mother cut her off.
"Who told you that?" Mrs. Hall demanded. "Was it that horrid Oliver boy?"
"Mom, Tommy isn't horrible!" Kim protested.
"No, I never liked him! He's got longer hair than you, dear! And, that earring! He's just a poor, street punk! I don't want you associating that trash! It's bad enough that you spend time with that Vietmanese girl! And, that black boy!" Mrs. Hall shivered with distaste. "Always dancing around. Probably high from the drugs he gets from Tommy!"
"MOTHER!" Kim yelled.
"Don't yell at me, Kimberly! See the way you've been acting since you started dating that Oliver boy!" Mrs. Hall stopped layering on the make-up to turn around and face her daughter. "I don't want you to continue see that Oliver boy." She said. "Maybe Malcum will know of a nice, wealthy boy that works in his business you can date." Mrs. Hall said, ignoring Kim's protests. "Yes, I'll ask Malcum during dinner tonight. It's about time you start associating with people of your own class." Mrs. Hall humphed.
Kimberly rolled her eyes and left her mother's rooms. She ran to her personal suite of rooms and slammed the door. Kim flung herself onto her frilly pink bed. She hugged her little toy, white tiger cub close to her chest. Tommy had saved up his money to buy the stuffed animal for her birthday and Kimberly treasured it. The tiny Pink Ranger buried her nose into the soft fur with a sigh. She could smell Tommy's cologne on it.
"Tommy..." She sobbed into the tiger.
[LE CHEZ JEAN-PIERRE, AN HOUR LATER]
Mrs. Hall lowered her glass of red wine and smiled at her date. "The wine is excellent, Malcum, dear." Mrs. Hall cooed.
"Anything for you, Carolyn." Brewster said. He leaned in closer towards Mrs. Hall. "So, how is your sister, I mean, daughter Kimberly? I still can't believe that a beautiful, young woman like you has a teenage daughter."
Mrs. Hall blushed. "Well, I finally put my foot down and told her that she is not to see that awful Tommy Oliver again." She shivered. "The crazy lies he has been telling her about you, Malcum, dear!"
Brewster covered her hand with his. "There, there, Carolyn." He comforted her. "You did the right thing. As sorry as I feel for that poor boy, he is insane in his grief. It was a tragic accident that caused him to loose his family. And, that accursed D.A. didn't help him either. I honestly believe that Yoshi, I mean, Tommy is being forced to purger himself by those cretins! They are only taking advantage of a poor, helpless child's tragedy!" Brewster growled.
Mrs. Hall dabbed at her heavily made up eyes. "And, they are attacking you." She straightened her posture. "I never thought that a _woman_ should be D.A. Especially one so masculine. Uh!" She shivered.
"Don't worry about it, dear. My lawyers will handle this little misunderstanding. Let's go on to more cheerful topics." Brewster suggested.
"Of course, Malcum." Mrs. Hall smiled. "Which reminds, Kimberly needs a new boyfriend. I was hoping that you would know of a nice, rich young man that worked for you."
"I do. My nephew, Austin. He's a few years older than your Kimberly, but he's my protegee. I'm grooming him to take over Brewster's Industries."
"Prefect, just the man I want Kimberly to date." Mrs. Hall clapped her hands. "When can we meet him?"
"I'm having a small gathering next week, only three hundred or so of the world's finest. Austin will be there. And, I was hoping that I would have the honor of escorting you."
"Of course, Malcum, dearest." Mrs. Hall smiled.
[ANGEL GROVE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, LATE EVENING]
Jason Lee Scott nodded a quiet greeting to Paul as he entered Tommy's private room. He tensed when he saw a Putty Patroler leaning over his helpless friend.
"Hey, Claybrain, ya lookin' fer trouble!" Jason hollared. The Putty looked up and waved.
"Herrroo, Jaassoonn!" Miguel said. Jason relaxed.
"Sheesh," Jason blushed. "I'm sorry, man. Force of habit, I guess." He apologized.
"Okkee dookkee!" Miguel answered.
"How's Tommy?" Jason asked as he sat down next to the bed. He took one of Tommy's still hands into his own.
"Siikk." Miguel shook his head. "Feebbeerr noo goo doowwnn."
"Dammit, Tommy, you've got to get better." Jason sighed. "We need ya, buddy."
Miguel looked tenderly at Jason. The mighty Red Ranger, his one time enemy, didn't see so fierce now. This quiet interlude allowed the Putty to see a new and different side of Jason. _I know he cares greatly for his friends._ Miguel thought. _This is really hurting him. He feels so helpless. I wish I could do something, but what can I do? I'm only a Putty. I don't know about healing. Dammit, why couldn't I have been made into a Nurse Putty. Then, I would have been able to help Tommy!_ Miguel sighed, then patted Jason on the shoulder.
"Biiee." Miguel chriped and left the room.
Jason didn't hear the Putty. He brushed Tommy's sweat soaked hair away from his face. The Green Ranger was flushed with a dangerously high fever. "Please, buddy, please..." Jason whispered, then put his head down on Tommy's bed and cried.
[HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM]
Speed Racer put the newspaper down when Miguel entered the waiting room. Despite having a face that never changed expression, the Putty was able to convey his great sadness to Speed. The young racer stood up and approached his friend.
"Yoshi's not any better, is he?" Speed asked. Miguel shook his head and sighed. Rare Putty tears fell down his gray, mottled cheeks. He reached up with his large hands and lovingly fondled a mood charm necklace.
When Tommy had worked for Rita, Miguel had been one of the many Putties under Tommy's command. He was decent to his clay underlings and treated them with respect. Even when Tommy joined the side of goodness, he was never as rough with the putties as the other Rangers had been. Miguel had been like a confidant to the young Green Ranger, being with him while he spied on Kimberly in the shower (his favorite passtime.) or just listening to him talk. Before Tommy had left the castle on what would be his last fight as the evil Green Ranger, Tommy had given Miguel his necklace with a mood charm on it. Miguel hid it from the other putties and his superiors. That simple necklace was his only treasure. Miguel now wore it as part of his racing costume.
"I can't believe this happened so close to the trial, Miguel!" Speed growled. "Racer X called the D.A. and told her to get an extension. But, we don't know how long to get it for! I mean, the doctors can't tell us when Yoshi'll come out of that coma! If he even comes out of it at all." Speed whispered. He noticed Miguel stroking his necklace. "Where did you get that, Miguel? I've never seen you wear it before." Speed asked.
"Loonngg sttoorrii. Ollddu Frriieenndduu giivvee beeffoorree hee goo." Miguel answered.
Speed smiled at the Putty. Then, he realized that his strange friend was crying. Speed hugged the Putty, comforting him the best he could.
[THE HALL MANSION, LATE NIGHT]
Kimberly woke up from her troubled sleep when she heard her phone ring. "Hello?" She asked when she answered.
"*Hi, Kim, it's me, Billy.*"
"Billy, what are you doing calling at such an ungodly hour?"
"*I just heard from Jason. He's staying with Tommy at the hospital.*"
"How is Tommy?" Kim bit her lip.
"*No change. The doctors are really worried about him. If the fever doesn't go down soon...*" Billy left the rest unsaid.
Kimberly wiped angrily at the tears that clouded her eyes. "My mother decided that I can't see Tommy any more." She whispered. "She wants me to date somebody in my own class."
"*What kind of nonsense it that?*" Billy yelped.
"That's not the worse of it. She's dating Malcum Brewster. She's been seeing him since she divorced Allen."
"*I can't keep track of your mother's boyfriends and husbands anymore. How do you do it, Kim?*" Billy asked.
"I have to. It's not easy." Kim sighed.
"*Um, Kimberly, are you still mad at Tommy? I mean, for not telling you the truth?*"
"Yes. How could he lie to me like that? Did he think I wasn't able to handle it?" Kim snapped.
"*No, he was just doing what he felt was best. Beside, can you imagine how painful it would be for him to talk about loosing everyone he ever loved in one night?*"
"Billy, who was Shio-chan?"
"*Shio-chan?*" Billy yelped. "*Where did you hear that name?*"
"Tommy was calling out for him or her while I was there." Kim responded.
"*She was Tommy's girlfriend in San Fransico. She died in the fire too.*" Billy answered. "*Poor guy must still love her.*" He commented.
"And, he doesn't love me?" Kim yelled.
"*No, Tommy loves you, but Shio was like his first love. He lost everyone, Kim, not just his girlfriend. All his friends, family, neighbors. People he grew up with. Don't begrudge him the memories of those he loved.*" Billy admonished. "*How would you feel if you lost all of us in a tragic fire?*"
"I couldn't handle it. I'd want to die too so I could be with you guys." Kim answered honestly.
"*So, you can imagine how Tommy feels. He lost EVERYONE, Kim, everyone. I know I'm harping on this, but I don't think you fully understand. I know I don't. We've never had to go through something like what Tommy has had to go through.*" Billy sighed.
"Do you think that's why he was so susceptible to Rita's spell?" Kim asked with a sudden burst of insight.
"*Yes. He had just been released from a rehab center. He spent a year in the hospital and a year in the rehab center. He would have been very weak when he came to Angel Grove.*" Billy mused out loud.
"I guess so." Kim frowned. Then, she added in a rush: "I should be with him! Tommy needs me!" She sobbed. "Billy, I'm gonna go. I hear my mother comin' home. She'll freak if she thinks I'm talkin' to anyone _inappropriate_."
"*OK, Kim. Bye.*"
"Bye." Kim hung up her pink, heart shaped phone. She was still clutching her toy tiger to her chest as she laid down. _Tommy, I love you!_ Her mind whispered.
[ANGEL GROVE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, NEAR DAYBREAK]
Jason Lee Scott had drifted off to sleep by his friend's bed side. Suddenly, he heard Tommy moan. Jason jerked awake and hovered over his friend. The Green Ranger was shaking with cold. Jason looked at one of the monitors and laughed. It read 98.6.
"YES!" Jason yelled, alerting the nurses. The white clothed women pushed Jason aside. The Red Ranger had the sudden, irrational urge to grab the nearest nurse and dance. Paul pulled his teacher aside, so he wouldn't get in the way of the nurses. One ran out to retrieve clean linen and a fresh, paper thin gown. No one noticed the nurse slip out of the knot of people and make a quiet call on a cell phone.
"Mr. Brewster, I have some bad news." She said.
[THE BREWSTER MANSION]
Brewster slammed the phone down and swore. His nephew, Austin, looked at him.
"What's wrong, Uncle?"
"That damned Yoshi is going to live!" Brewster growled.
Austin smirked. "Well, why don't you order Nurse Nancy to inject his IV full of poison?" He suggested.
"Very good, my boy. Very good. Call Nurse Nancy and give her the order."
"Of course, Uncle." Austin bowed and left.
[ANGEL GROVE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, 5TH FLOOR NURSING STATION]
Nurse Nancy tapped her pencil against a thick sheeth of papers. Just then, her beeper went off. She picked up the phone and dialed a number.
"*Nurse Nancy, you have to get rid of Tommy Oliver. Inject him with the poison of your choice.*"
"Of course, Mr. Austin." Nurse Nancy said then hung up. She slipped a prepared syringe into her white coat pocket. The nurse strolled over to the door to Tommy's private room. She smiled at Paul, then entered the room. Jason was still keeping watch over Tommy.
"Excuse me, Jason." Nurse Nancy said. "I have to give this shot to Tommy." She brandished the needle. Jason flinched and scooted aside. She checked the needle for air bubbles and some of the liquid squirted out. The sharp smell of bitter almonds filled the room.
"What's in that?" Jason grabbed her wrist.
"None of your business, little boy." She sneered. She tried to jerk her wrist free, but Jason's vise like grip held firm. As the nurse attempted to free herself, the needle slipped and landed in her leg. Both people watching in horror as the syringe emptied its contents into the nurse. The poison hit Nurse Nancy immediately. She screamed once and collapsed. Paul ran into the room, alerted by the nurse's final scream.
"What happened, _Sensei_?" Paul asked as he pushed the button to call for security.
"This bitch was working for Brewster!" Jason growled. "He sent her kill Tommy!"
Medics rushed into the room and removed the body. Tommy's doctor ran in after the medics to examine his patient. Amazingly, Tommy slept through the entire fight.
"How is he?" Jason asked the doctor quietly.
"Fine. Now that the fever has broken, your friend is out of danger." The doctor announced.
"How long will he be asleep?" Jason whispered.
"Oh, not too much longer, I think." The doctor smiled gently at the sleeping Green Ranger. "His body needs to recover its strength, so he'll be doozing on and off for a while. Just let him sleep when he falls asleep." The doctor advised, then left. He bumped into Zach on the way out.
"Excuse me, sir." Zach said.
"Yo, Zach, you missed all the excitment." Jason smirked.
"What happened?" Zach asked.
"Brewster had some nurse try to kill Tommy." Jason answered.
"Damn, he won't give up, will he?" Zach sighed. "Well, good night, Jase, you've earned it."
"Yeah. I'm gonna stop over at Kimberly's to let her know that Tommy's gonna be OK." Jason ran his hand through his short, dark hair.
"OK, see ya." Zach smiled.
[HALL MANSION, TWENTY MINUTES LATER]
The limo was not parked in its usual spot in the garage. Mrs. Hall was at a social function and would mostly not return until three or four in the morning. Jason jumped over the fence and ran towards the back of the house, where Kimberly's room was located. Using the climbing rose trellis, the Red Ranger climbed up the side of the house and onto the balcony. There, he scratched at the window.
"Kimberly, wake up." He called out softly. "It's me, Jason."
Kimberly opened the large French doors and stepped out onto the balcony. "What's wrong, Jase?" She asked.
"Just thought you'd like to know that Tommy's fever's broken. The doctor says that he'll be OK."
Kimberly leaned against the side of the door suddenly weak with relief. She blinked her eyes hard to avoid crying. "Thank God!" She exclaimed.
Jason smiled at the Pink Ranger. "Yeah, I thought you'd like to know." Then, he sobered up. "Kimberly, I know that you've heard some negative things about Tommy from your mother and from Brewster. You can't believe them. Just tonight, Brewster had a nurse try to kill Tommy with poison. He's getting desperate now that the trial is coming up." The Red Ranger paused when he saw the hesitation in Kimberly's eyes. "Kim, I know that you're hurt that Tommy didn't tell you the truth about himself. I felt hurt too, but then I realized that Tommy was doing what he felt to be the right thing."
"Was he afraid that I'd betray him?" Kimberly snapped.
"No, not intensionally, but he knew that your family is rich and would most likely be around Brewster a lot. It would be too easy to let something accidently slip that could have put us all in danger. He knows now that he can trust you and all of us, but at first, he felt that he couldn't." Jason grabbed Kim by the shoulders. "Kimberly, he's one of US. He's a Ranger. Don't you think THAT fact alone should give him more credibility than Brewster and his high priced lackeys?" That one statement was Jason's philosophy. He and his friends were Power Rangers, an exclusive group that none of the other students could join. It made them slightly better than a normal teenager and much better than an adult. When the newscasters praised the Power Rangers, Jason would gloat quietly. He couldn't help it. Kimberly looked at him, the nodded.
"I guess so, but..." Kim sighed. "I'm glad Tommy is better. Give him my love." She said, then left.
[BREWSTER MANSION, LATE THE NEXT AFTERNOON]
"What? She killed herself instead of Yoshi! Damn!" Brewster swore angrily. Just then, there was a knock at study door. Brewster jerked it open. "What is it?" He demanded.
"Malcum Brewster, you are under arrest for the attempted murders of Tommy Oliver and Billy Mitchell and for the arson burning of your warehouse." Lt. Stone said. He handcuffed Brewster and read him his Miranda rights. Then, Lt. Stone hauled the protesting millonaire off to the Angel Grove Police Station.
[ANGEL GROVE POLICE STATION]
Brewster looked around the interrigation room in disgust. It was plain and gloomy, but yet clean. His lawyer sat faithfully by his side. Just then, Lt. Stone, the San Fransico D.A. and the Angel Grove City Prosecutor entered the room.
"Well, Mr. Brewster, what do you have to say for youself?" Lt. Stone asked.
The lawyer stood up. "Mr. Brewster refuses to answer your questions, Lt. Stone."
"Couldn't he tell me that himself, Mr. Bailey?" Lt. Stone sneered. "Miss Jones," Stone addressed the young City Prosecutor. "Is the judge ready for the bond hearing?"
"Yes sir." Miss Jones said.
"Fine, we shall see you in court." Bailey sneered.
[ANGEL GROVE COURT HOUSE]
The judge banged his gavel and glared at all the persons in the court room. Then, he pointed the gavel at Miss Jones. "Miss Jones, your case?"
"Your Honor, the defendant already has alread been charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson, conspiracy to commit murder, murder by arson, felony murder, and asseccory to murder before and after the fact. With these new charges, we feel that Mr. Brewster should not recieve bail on the grounds that he is a danger to the community." Miss Jones read from a prepared statement.
The judge nodded his head. "Mr. Bailey."
"Your honor, these new charges are frivilous. My client had nothing to do with the recent attacks on Thomas Oliver and William Mitchell. My client is a respected member of the community. Just recently, Mr. Brewster donated money to the Salem Courts Housing Projects so that the Shinjuku Tragedy will not be repeated." Mr. Bailey said in an oily slick voice.
"Bail is set at $500,000." The judge slammed his gavel down. "Next case."
[HOSPITAL, 5TH FLOOR WAITING ROOM ONE HOUR LATER]
Ms. Phillips, the D.A. from San Fransico, paced back and forth infront of Racer X, Speed, and Miss Jones. "I can't believe that jerk granted Brewster bail!"
"But at least the bail is pretty high." Speed offered.
"Not for a man like Brewster. I'm sure he had that in pocket change on him!" Ms. Phillips spat.
Just then, Ms. Phillips' secretary ran up to her. He handed her a sheet of paper then left. Ms. Phillips read the paper and swore.
"What's wrong?" Racer X asked.
"Brewster posted bail!" She growled and crumpled the note into a ball.
"So, where does that leave Billy and Yoshi?" Speed asked, concerned.
"Racer X, can you stay with your brother-in-law at all times?" Ms. Phillips asked.
"Sure. What about Yoshi?"
"Miguel and I can alternate staying with Yoshi." Speed spoke up.
Just then, Jason tapped Racer X on the shoulder. "Mr. Racer X, sir, can we help?"
Racer X turned around and smiled. "Of course, if you want to. Yoshi'll need all the friends he can get right now."
Jason grinned and left to visit Tommy, who was still deep in the arms of a drugged sleep. Trini was sitting by Tommy's bed, reading a copy of "The Stars Like Dust."
"Hi, Jason." Trini whispered.
"Hey. How's Tommy?"
"Still asleep." Trini answered. She put her science fiction novel down and brushed Tommy's bangs from his forehead. The Green Ranger murmured in his sleep. The Yellow Ranger stood up so that her leader could sit down. "Well, I guess I'll go home and get some rest. Call me if anything happens."
"OK, bye." Jason settled down in the plastic chair. He had a new martial arts magazine. He started to read it when Tommy moaned and opened his eyes. The Red Ranger dropped his magazine and leaned over his friend. "Hey, Tommy." Jason whispered. Tommy rubbed his eyes with a hand covered in medical tape and I.V. lines.
"Jason?" Tommy's voice was weak.
"Yeah, buddy?" Jason took Tommy's hand and squeezed it gently. "You OK?"
"Yeah." Tommy closed his eyes. "How's Billy?"
"He'll be OK. The bullet passed through his leg. Broke it." Jason explained.
"Dammit!" Tommy cried. "Why does everyone I love end up getting hurt because of me?" He wailed.
Jason grabbed Tommy's uninjured shoulder and shook him. "It's not your fault! It was Brewster's!" Tommy glowered at his friend, not believing him. "Tommy, I want to tell you something. I do know shit about you. I know that you are a loyal and caring friend that I know I can count on." Tommy looked down, feeling ashamed. Tears fell down his pale face. Jason wiped them away with his fingers. "Tommy, Yoshi," Tommy looked up at Jason's use of his old name. "Racer X told us everything."
"Yeah." Jason answered.
"How did she take it?" Tommy asked, a knot forming in his stomach.
"I don't know. Her mother has been keeping her on a tight leash since the shooting. She hardly lets her leave the house! But," Jason smiled. "Kim stayed by your side until her mother made her leave."
"Really?" Tommy perked up.
"Yeah, and she calls several times a day to check up on you." Jason added. "That is when her mother isn't home."
"I guess she loved this shooting, huh?" Tommy snorted. "She never liked me. I guess she was right. I'm not good enough for Kimberly." He sighed.
"Dammit!" Jason swore. "Kim loves you! You make her very happy!" Jason brushed the long strands of hair out of Tommy's face. "We all care about you, bro. Why didn't you tell any of us? Didn't you know that you could trust us?"
"I know, but I just wanted to forget about it. It just something that's too painful to talk about. And, besides, I didn't want to put any of you in danger. I guess that back fired." Tommy snorted.
Jason clasped Tommy's hand. "We're here for you, bro. All of us."
"Thanks, man." Tommy smiled weakly, then his eyes fluttered shut.
[THE MITCHELL HOUSE, A FEW WEEKS LATER]
Tommy stretched out on the couch. He had been released from the hospital only a week before and was still extremely weak. Little Tara was curled up against his stomach, sleeping. Billy and Hacker were quietly talking while Racer X napped on the recliner. Mr. Mitchell was cooking in the kitchen. The warm smells filled the house. Jedi yawned and plodded into the living room and curled up in front of the fire place.
_A perfect scene._ Tommy mused.
[LATE NIGHT, OUTSKIRTS OF ANGEL GROVE]
Kimberly Harte sighed as Austin Brewster drove her home from the Angel Grove Country Club. There had been a large social function there. She missed the fun filled dates she had with Tommy. Austin smiled sideways at the Pink Ranger. He put his arm around her. Kimberly shrugged his arm off.
"What's wrong, Kim?" Austin asked.
"Oh, nothing. Just thinking." Kim frowned out the window.
Suddenly, Austin pulled the car over to the side of the road. He wrapped his arms around Kim and tried to kiss her. Kimberly pushd him away.
"Austin, stop it!" Kim snapped.
Austin growled and slapped Kimberly. The Pink Ranger put her hand over the red mark on her cheek. She backed against the door as Austin grabbed her wrist.
"Ow! Lemme go!" Kim yelled. Austin ignored her. He kissed her again, letting his lips trail down her throat. Kim's struggles were useless against his large body. Desperate, Kim jammed her hand in between Austin's legs and squeezed the delicate package that rested there. Calling on all the strength in her tiny body, she kept up the pressure until Austin passed out from the pain. Kim shoved his body off her and ran out of the car. Her high heels slowed the Pink Ranger down. A small hole, hidden by the night tripped the girl. She fell, twisting her ankle.
"Oh no." Kim moaned. She kicked off her shoes and continued to run, ignoring the pain from her ankle and from her tender feet as the sharp gravel tore into them.
[FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER, THE MITCHELL HOUSE]
Tommy was on the couch watching a late night soap opera. Since he came to live with the Mitchell's, he had become a soap opera addict. He jerked up when he heard some one pound on the door.
"Help me! Please! Lemme in!" Kim cried out.
Tommy pushed himself off the couch and went to the door. He was still weak and it took him longer than normal.
"Kim!" Tommy called out. "I'm coming!" He yanked the door open and Kimberly fell against him, sobbing. "What happened to you?" He lifted her face up and gasped when he saw the bruised cheek and bloodied lip. "Did that bastard Austin do this to you?" Tommy demanded.
"Yes." Kim sobbed.
Tommy held her close as he guided her to the couch. He looked down and noticed the bloody trail of foot prints she left. "Baby, you're hurt!" He hugged her tightly, then, pushing aside his own pain and weakness, picked Kim up and carried her into the living room. He sat on the couch, draping Kim across his lap.
The commotion had woken up the Mitchell family, who quickly joined Tommy in the living room. Racer X and Hacker examined Kimberly while Mr. Mitchell called the police. Billy held Tara on his lap, keeping her out of her parent's way.
"What happened, Kim?" Racer X asked.
"Austin tried to... We were on Country Road..." Kim swollowed. "He's still out there, unconscious. I squeezed his, um..." Kim blushed and pointed to Racer X's groin. "Until he passed out." Tommy, Billy, and Racer X shuttered.
"I'm so sorry, Kimmie." Tommy whispered in her hair, as he held her. "I'm so sorry that bastard tried to hurt you." Kimberly clung to her boyfriend. "I promise I won't let him hurt you again."
Tommy held Kimberly while the police questioned her and a paramedic, Adam Park, the same one who had treated Tommy at the fire at Brewster's warehouse, cared for the cuts on her feet and her twisted ankle.
"What are you gonna do about Austin Brewster?" Tommy demanded of the officer in charge.
"Well, we are going to go and talk to him. If we find evidence of a crime, then he'll be arrested. Of course, if Miss Harte wants to press charges against Mr. Brewster, then he'll be arrested immediately." The officer said.
"Kim?" Tommy asked quietly. "Do you want to press charges against Austin?"
"No, oh god no!" Kim sobbed. "My mother would kill me if I did. She'd freak if she thought that I had done something to endanger her relationship with Brewster!"
Tommy held her tightly, murmuring nonsense words into her ear. Kim shuttered with sobs. The officer looked grimly at Tommy. He could understand the anger that was shining in the Green Ranger's tortured eyes.
"Mr. Oliver, it won't do your girlfriend any good to go after Brewster's nephew. You'll just get yourself into trouble." The officer advised, then left with Adam. Adam smiled sympathicly at the two Rangers.
"Kimberly," Mr. Mitchell said. The Pink Ranger looked at him. "I want you to stay here for the night."
"OK." Kimberly sniffed.
"Um, Mr. Mitchell, I think I have an old shirt Kim can wear." Tommy offered. "That old flannel one of mine." He added. Mitchell nodded.
"Alright. I'll drop it off. Um, Kim, you can sleep in Billy's old room, if you think you can handle the stairs." Privately, he knew that Kimberly would not be sleeping alone that night. And, he didn't mind a bit. _Frankly, if I were Mrs. Hall, I'd be thrilled that such a sweet, gentle, caring boy was dating my daughter. I'll have to speak to her the next time I see her._ Mitchell thought.
Mr. Mitchell helped a sleepy Billy back to the downstairs guest room. Soon, the entire living room was empty, except for Tommy and Kimberly. The Pink Ranger was still shaking with sobs. Tommy lifted her chin up, so that her fawn colored eyes looked into his chocolate colored ones. Her tears wet his fingers.
"Tommy, I feel so stupid!" Kim wailed.
"What do you mean?" Tommy asked quietly.
"Cuz I almost _believed_ what Mom and Mr. Brewster said about you! I let Mom fix me up with Austin Brewster!" Kim cried. "I can't believe how..."
"Stupid your mother was." Tommy finished for her. "Kim, it's not your fault. Your mother wants what she thinks is right for you." He sighed. "And, she couldn't have known what Austin would try to do to you. She had no reason to believe that he'd try to attack you."
Kim laid her head against Tommy's hard chest. "You're not mad at me?" She whispered.
"No, Kimmie, I'm not." Tommy kissed her soft lips gently. She threw her arms around his neck as the Green Ranger deepened the kiss.
"Love me, Tommy." Kimberly purred when they parted. Tommy laid her down on the couch...
[THE NEXT MORNING, THE MITCHELL HOUSE]
Kimberly yawned and stretched. Her face was pressed against a hard, bronzed chest. She opened her eyes and found herself on the Mitchell's couch, completely naked, and in Tommy's arms. _I guess it wasn't a dream._ She thought as she snuggled into Tommy's arms. The Green Ranger sighed in his sleep and held her tighter.
Just then, Billy hobbled into the living room. He looked over at his two friends entwined on the couch. Kimberly looked up when she heard the gasp.
"BILLEE!" She screamed. "Get out of here!"
"OH MAN!!" Billy backed up and fell on his rear.
Kimberly wailed and covered her chest. She tried to use Tommy's thin body as a shield from the Blue Ranger's gaze. The Green Ranger was still fast asleep. Mr. Mitchell ran down the stairs and helped his son up.
"What's going on?" Mitchell asked.
"She's... He's... No clothes!" Billy wailed. He buried his face against his father's chest.
Mr. Mitchell tossed Kimberly the old flannel shirt that was draped across the recliner. The blushing Pink Ranger slipped the shirt on. It came down to her knees and hid her hands. Mr. Mitchell quickly dressed Tommy in his boxer shorts with squirrels on it and a Garfield T-Shirt that proclaimed: I don't do mornings! The Green Ranger was still asleep.
"What happened?" Mitchell asked.
"Billy walked in on us!" Kimberly cried out.
Billy looked at the Pink Ranger and blushed. Kim's cheeks were still colored a faint pink. She looked over at her boyfriend. Sighing, she poked him in the ribs. She noticed how prominate they were. He had lost too much weight in the hospital. Tommy moaned and opened his eyes.
"What?" He slurred.
Kimberly and Mitchell laughed and shook their heads.
[THE MITCHELL HOUSE, TWO HOURS LATER]
Kimberly sat in the Mitchell kitchen having finished a large breakfast prepared by Billy's father. He really has changed, Kim thought. Racer X and his wife had already eaten and taken Tara to the park. Poor Tommy was still sleeping, exhausted from the night's events. Kim blushed and squirmed in her seat just thinking about the intimacies they had shared. Billy was still unable to look her in the eye and had barely spoken two words all morning. He had wolfed down his breakfast and hid in his temporary room with a book. I think he's more embarassed than I am. Mr. Mitchell seemed to have taken it all in stride, not at all surprised she and Tommy were lovers. He even seemed pleased to learn that.
"Well, I guess I have to go home and face my mother sometime." Kim said, in a voice of doom. "She's probably still sleeping, but I'd better be there when she wakes up."
"Do you want me to drive you?" Mr. Mitchell asked kindly. "Maybe I could talk to your mother and explain what happened."
"Thank you, Mr. Mitchell." Kim said gratefully. "You're very kind. I would appreciate the ride, but I doubt my mother would be receptive to anything you might say."
The doorbell sounded repeatedly, then was followed by impatient pounding on the door.
"All right, all right....coming." Mr. Mitchell muttered to himself and hurried to the front door. He opened it to reveal an enraged Mrs. Hall.
She was not dressed as perfectly as usual. Her clothing appeared to have been thrown on haphazardly, and her hair was mussed, as if she had just gotten out of bed. Her face was devoid of makeup, but her cheeks were colored with anger.
"Where is my daughter?" She shrieked. "I demand to see her."
"Certainly Mrs. Hall, just calm down." Mr. Mitchell stepped aside to let her in.
She stomped in and looked around, spotting Tommy sitting up on the couch, staring in wide-eyed amazement. This must be a nightmare, he thought, blinking his eyes and opening them again. She's still there. Shit!
"I should have known you were behind this!" Mrs. Hall yelled approaching Tommy menacingly. He stood up and faced her wrath unflinchingly. He was beginning to get mad himself.
Kim walked timidly up behind her mother. She touched her arm gently, feeling her mother's tense muscles. "Mom, please calm down." Kim said softly.
"Calm down?" She said incredulously, looking at her daughter. "I was awakened out of a sound sleep by poor Malcum, telling me the police have been questioning his nephew Austin about assaulting my daughter." Her voice rose several decibals, as her tirade continued. "My God Kimberly, are you insane? I'm sure this is a terrible misunderstanding. You are going to apologize to Austin and Malcum for your unspeakable behavior." Then, she paused and added: "And, apologize to me for disrupting my sleep. You know I need it to stay young. And, you know I'm not that strong and healthy!" She whined.
"The hell she is!" Tommy said, his voice deadly quiet. "That pretty boy tried to rape her. I don't want Kim anywhere near him."
Mrs Hall turned to face Tommy with fire in her eyes. "You are the one who will stay away from my daughter, Thomas Oliver, or whatever the hell your name is. Austin is a good, decent boy who can give Kim the life she deserves, not a poor, long haired punk with an earring from the wrong side of the tracks. Look at yourself." She said contemptously. She raked Tommy with her scathing gaze. "You are nothing and you have nothing. You can't give Kimberly anything but grief. Now, stay away from her. I mean it!" She poked Tommy in the chest with one of her sharp fingernails, digging painfully into the healing wounds on his chest. He winced, knocking her hand away and gasping, as shards of pain knifed through his chest. Blood oozed onto his shirt where Mrs. Hall had broken open the wounds.
"Tommy...."Kim started to say. Mrs. Hall grabbed her wrist painfully, pulling her forcefully to the door.
Mr. Mitchell stood in her way, disgusted by the scene he had witnessed.
"Get out of my way!" Mrs. Hall demanded.
"I will, just as soon as I'm done talking." He took a deep breath. "You're wrong about Tommy. He's a good kid and he loves Kim and treats her with respect. I used to be like you, thinking that wealth and social status were the most important things in life. I was wrong. I had to almost lose my son to realize how wrong I was. Thanks to Tommy, I have a second chance with Billy. Tommy almost died protecting Billy. He put the welfare of my son before his own. I'm thankful Billy has him for a friend. You should be glad Kim has a boyfriend like him. He doesn't deserve the cruel things you said to him."
"Are you quite finished?" Mrs. Hall asked nastily.
"Yes, I am." Mr. Mitchell sighed. "Please think about what I said."
Mrs. Hall dragged Kim to her car and shoved her in, slamming the door. Mr. Mitchell stood in the doorway staring at Kim's anguished face as they drove away. Tommy could not prevent the tears that rolled down his thin cheeks. Mr. Mitchell put his arm around Tommy.
"It will all work out son. I promise." He said, trying to comfort the distraught green ranger.
Tommy shook off his hold and walked back inside to sprawl on the couch in despair. I wish I was dead, he thought miserably.
Mr. Mitchell shook his head sadly as he watched the crying Ranger. He sat on the couch next to him. "Tommy," He whispered. "Come here and let me tend to your wounds. Then, why don't you lie down and get some rest." He suggested. Tommy sat up. Mitchell carefully removed the shirt and looked at the wounds. They were oozing blood. Mrs. Hall had broken them open with her sharp nails.
Just then, Speed Racer walked into the house.
"Hello, Mr. Mitchell," Speed said pleasently. "What happened?" He gasped when he saw the blood.
"Mrs. Hall's designer nails." Tommy said grimly.
"Where's Kimberly?" Speed asked. "I thought she was staying here."
"Mrs. Hall came and dragged her away." Mitchell answered. He was pressing a handercheif to the wounds to stop the bleeding. "Greg (author's note: Greg is Speed's real name. Check out Speed Racer Comics Issue One to get the story on how Speed got his nickname.), do you know any first aide?" Mitchell asked.
"Yeah. Let me get my first aide kit out of the trunk of the Mach V." Speed spun around and ran to his fancy race car. Then, he rejoined Mitchell and Tommy in the living room. Carefully, the young racer tended to Tommy's wounds.
[TWO MONTHS, JUDGE'S OFFICE IN SAN FRANSICO]
"Your Honor," Ms. Phillips appealed to the judge. "We need a longer extension. Our main witness is not healed enough to handle the travel from Angel Grove to San Fransico, even less able to withstand the rigors of a trial!"
"But Your Honor, they had two months for this star witness to recover!" Mr. Bailey complained. "Plus the three weeks he spent in the hospital!"
"I guess you don't know anything about gun shot wounds, then." Ms. Phillips said. "The doctor said that it will take a minimum of six months before he is able. Right now he has fragments of bone and lead working their way out of his body and is spending a lot of time in the hospital because of that."
"Well, it's not fair for my client to have to wait for his trial!" Bailey snapped.
The judge sighed. He hated high profile trials. _Why couldn't this have been a nice, simple drive-by shooting?_ He asked himself. "The trial will go on as scheduled." He announced, then dismissed the lawyers. Once the lawyers were gone, the phone rang in the judge's chambers. "Hello?"
"*Good call, your honor.*" A very familar voice sneered. "*Remember, if you keep Mr. Brewster happy, you'll be guaranteed a nice contribution to your re-election campaign. If not...*" The voice left the threat unstated.
The judge hung up on the caller. Sweat poured down his face as he fell to his needs and prayed: "Please, God, forgive me for what I'm doing."
[THE MITCHELL HOUSE, THE NEXT DAY]
Tommy and Billy sat on the living room couch, studying from their biology text books. Miss Appleby had just left the room to speak to Mr. Mitchell. Tommy sighed as he scanned the boring text. He hated biology, even though he did fairly well in it. He strained his ears, trying to over hear the adults' conversation in the next room. He glanced over at his friend and stiffled a laugh. Billy was staring intently at a _Playboy_ magazine with a suspicious bulge in his jeans. Tommy leaned over and whispered in a falsetto:
"Is that a pickle in your pants or are you just glad to see me?"
Billy slammed the magazine shut and blushed deep red. "I-i um..."
"Billy," Tommy laughed. "You're having a perfectly normal reaction!"
"I am?" Billy asked.
"Sure. I mean, did you have any feelings when you saw Kim and I together?" Tommy asked, his chocolate colored eyes compelling.
"Well, my P.J. bottoms got too tight and I felt wierd." Billy admitted sheepishly. "I mean, Kimberly is an attractive girl, but..." Billy blushed again.
Tommy laughed again. He patted Billy on the shoulder. "There's nothing to be ashamed about, Billy." He said.
Billy squirmed uncomfortably in his seat. "Are you sure?"
"Billy, what do you know about this stuff?" Tommy asked.
"I understand techniquecally what you were doing, but I never saw it done before." Billy sighed.
"Never?" Tommy bit his lip. "Oh boy, I guess you didn't have the "Talk" with your dad, didn't you?"
"The Birds and The Bees." Tommy responded.
"I just thought that was bad group from the sixties my dad listened to."
"Oh boy!" Tommy slapped his forehead. "Billy, you do know where babies come from, right?"
"Sure, everyone knows that! I read about it in medical books!" Billy answered. "
Don't medical books have nude pictures in them?" Tommy pressed on.
"Well, yeah, but nothing like this!" Billy held up the magazine. Just then, Miss Appleby walked in. Tommy grabbed the magazine and shoved it under Billy.
"Well, boys, I'm very pleased with your progress. You'll be far ahead when you return to school." Miss Appleby beamed.
"Thank you, Miss Appleby." Tommy and Billy chimed in unison.
Miss Appleby shook her head in silent laughter, then left. Mr. Mitchell was busy preparing lunch for the two injured boys. Tommy and Billy put the Playboy magazine through a very through examination.
[The Hall Mansion, The next morning.]
Mrs. Hall pounded loudly on Kim's bedroom door. "Kim? Kim open the door. We're supposed to be at the Country Club in ten minutes."
Kim opened the door, looking like death warmed over. "I can't go Mom. I'm too sick. I just threw up."
"Kimberly, Austin really likes you." Mrs. Hall whined. "You'd better not be making this up."
"I'm not Mom." Kim said, leaning heavily against the door. "It's been going around school. A stomach flu or something. Jason had it a few days ago."
"It's probably the food at that Juice Bar." Mrs. Hall commented. "I don't understand why you eat at such a low class establishment."
Kim didn't bother to try and explain, she was too busy running to the bathroom. She fell to her knees in front of the toilet, dry heaving. She sounded like she was dying. Mrs. Hall stood in the doorway. "That is it." Mrs. Hall said decisively. "I'm taking you to see Dr. Newman. I certainly don't want to get sick. I'll call Malcum and cancel our luncheon."
Kim was too miserable to argue.
[Dr. Newman's Office]
Mrs. Hall sat waiting impatiently for the doctor to finish examining Kim. The office usually closed at noon on Friday, but Dr. Newman had extended his hours to accommodate his wealthy patient. She flipped through a fashion magazine, being careful not to muss her freshly manicured nails.
"Mrs. Hall." A nurse said. "Dr. Newman will see you now."
She followed the nurse down a hallway and into Dr. Newman's well-appointed office. Kim was already there, sitting in one of the two chairs positioned in front of the doctor's desk. Kim glanced at her mother apprehensively.
"Please Mrs. Hall, have a seat." He gestured to the empty chair.
Mrs. Hall remained standing. "What's wrong?" She asked him. "Is it something serious?"
"I'm afraid so." He sighed deeply. "Kim is not sick, she is pregnant."
Mrs. Hall turned to look at her daughter, her hand rose to her throat. "How could you do this to me?" She shrieked at her. "It was that Tommy wasn't it?" She loomed threateningly over Kim. "Wasn't it?"
"Yes, the baby is his." Kim said softly, sinking deeper into the chair.
"Please, Mrs. Hall, calm down." The doctor tried to intervene. "I can recommend an excellent counselor to help Kim decide what she wants to do."
"There is only one solution." Mrs. Hall said grimly. "I want you to schedule Kim for an abortion."
"No!" Kim yelled, jumping up out of her chair. "I will not have an abortion."
"Oh yes you will, Kimberly." Mrs. Hall insisted. "You will not embarrass me this way."
"This is not your decision mother." Kim said, finding her courage. "It is mine and Tommy's."
"And who do you think is going to foot the bill?" Mrs. Hall asked nastily. "You have no idea what it costs to raise a child and neither does your low life boyfriend."
"We'll find a way." Kim said defiantly.
"The only way is my way." Mrs. Hall yelled. "You will have the abortion."
"No I won't." Kim said emphatically. She ran from the doctor's office before her mother could stop her.
Mrs. Hall pulled out her cell phone. She punched in a familiar number. "Malcum, I need your help." She said tearfully.
The Mitchell Home]
Tommy tossed and turned on the couch in the grip of a terrible nightmare. He was trapped and burning. He heard screams of agony...some of them his own. The worst was the gagging stench of his own burning flesh.
He was alone in the house. Mr. Mitchell was gone to take Billy to the doctor. He jerked awake when the front door slammed against the wall. Kim ran in, wild eyed and out of breath. He stood up much too quickly, blood rushing to his head, making him dizzy. He shook off the sensation and rushed to Kim's side. She fell into his arms, crying as if her heart might break.
"What's wrong Kim?" He asked her.
Kim didn't have a chance to answer. A sleek, black Jaguar pulled up to the curb with a screech of tires. Tommy saw Austin Brewster exit the car accompanied by two goons. He quickly shut the door and locked it.
"Open up Oliver." Austin yelled, beating on the door with his fist. "I know Kim's in there and she's coming with me. Her mother sent me to bring her home."
"Kim's not going anywhere with you Brewster." Tommy yelled back. "Get out of here before I call the police."
"I don't think so." Austin said. "You see, your phone is not working." He laughed diabolically. Kim picked up the phone. Sure enough, the line was dead.
Austin's two henchmen broke the door in easily. Tommy pushed Kim behind him and faced Austin. Anger sent adrenaline shooting through his veins. He clenched his fists in fury.
"Get her." Austin commanded his henchmen.
"You'll have to go through me if you want her." Tommy said.
Kim touched his arm. "You're not up to this Tommy." She said in an undertone. "I'll just go with him. I don't want you hurt."
"No way." Tommy said, not backing down.
"You're making a big mistake Oliver." Austin warned him.
"No, you are." Tommy said. He grinned in anticipation of the fight. The largest goon threw a punch at Tommy that would have leveled him had it connected. He easily avoided the blow and blasted him in the solar plexus with a reverse punch. The goon doubled over, gasping for air. His partner grabbed Tommy's sore left shoulder. Tommy gripped his wrist and twisted, applying pressure. He swung his leg up with an ax kick and brought it down on his arm, just above the elbow, dislocating his shoulder. He screamed in pain. Tommy kicked him in the jaw, knocking his lights out and fracturing his jaw. His large friend was ready to fight again. He came at Tommy with a yell. Tommy side stepped his attack and kicked him in the side of the knee with his heel. The man's roar of agony was music to Tommy's ears. The man fell to one knee, unable to stand. He pulled a knife from his boot. Tommy kicked it out of his hand with an inside crescent kick, then spun, sending him flying into next week with a back side kick. His rib cage caved in with an audible snap. Two down, one to go. Tommy turned to Austin, his chest heaving from the unaccustomed exertion. Tommy was tiring quickly. His chest ached and it was hard to drag air into his damaged lung. Still, he was a force to be reckoned with. He wanted a piece of Austin so bad he could taste it.
"It's your call Brewster." He taunted Austin. "Put your tail between your legs and run or take me on."
"I'll put you back in the hospital with pleasure." Austin said, assuming a fighting stance. He jumped forward and stomped on Tommy's foot, busting him in the face with a hook punch. Tommy's head lurched to the side and he saw stars. Instinctively, he countered, striking Austin in the nose with a back fist. Austin squealed like a woman, clutching his broken nose. Blood and snot streamed through his fingers. Tommy smirked in grim satisfaction. Kim stood transfixed, staring at Tommy. Blood trickled slowly down his face from a cut beneath his eye, giving him a savage look. She had seen him fight before, but never with such brutal violence.
Speed Racer and Racer X walked through the broken front door and viewed the carnage.
"Damn, it looks like we missed all the fun." Speed Racer said in amusement.
Racer X walked back outside. He told his wife to take Tara around back to play. He didn't want her involved with the mess inside the Mitchell home. He walked back inside.
"What is going on here?" He asked Tommy.
"Mr. Brewster and his friends were just leaving." Tommy told him.
"Fine." Racer X said. "We'll give them a hand, won't we Greg." The two men half pulled, half carried the two groaning goons out to Austin's Jag, dumping them unceremoniously inside. Austin walked out under his own power, albeit very slowly. He opened the door to his car, a handkerchief pressed to nose, his eyes already turning black. He glared at Tommy.
"This isn't over." He said, in a nasally voice. "Count on it."
"Anytime Brewster." Tommy agreed with him. "You know where to find me."
Austin got in his car, slamming the door and drove away. The stench of burnt rubber clouding the air.
[Thirty minutes later]
Tommy reeled in shock with the knowledge he was going to be a father. Kim dabbed a wet washcloth against the cut beneath his right eye. Austin's ring had broken the skin when he punched him. The eye was discolored, puffy and swollen. Tommy impatiently pushed her hand away.
"I'm all right Kim." He said. "Quit fussing over me."
Kim put her hand down, twisting the cloth in her lap. She couldn't look Tommy in the eye. She felt he was angry with her. Mr. Mitchell and Billy had arrived shortly after Austin left. Kim had broken down and told Tommy what had happened with her mother. Tommy had been speechless. He had held her while she cried, not knowing what to say.
Mr. Mitchell had offered Kim his home and any other assistance she needed. Kim was grateful, but she was more interested in how Tommy felt about the baby.
"Tommy, are you mad at me?" She asked him hesitantly.
Tommy picked up her hand, kissing it. "No. I'm just surprised, that's all."
"Tommy, what are we going to do?" Kim asked him.
"I don't know Kim." He said honestly. "But, I'll think of something. I won't let you down."
[Two Days Later, San Francisco]
The time he had most anticipated and at the same time dreaded was fast approaching. Tommy was resting on the bed of his motel room under tight security. He and Billy were sharing the room. Mr. Mitchell was coming up with Kim and the rest of the gang in time for the trial. The DA had wanted Tommy and Billy to come a few days early, so she could prep them for the grueling interrogation she knew they would face.
Kimberly's mother had been strangely silent, allowing Kim to remain at the Mitchell home and refusing to speak with her. Kim was trying to be supportive of Tommy, putting her own worries aside. The early symptoms of pregnancy were leaving her washed out and drained of energy. She and Tommy took a lot of naps together.
Tommy sat up when he heard a soft knock at the door. He got up to admit Ms. Philips and her team of assistants. Billy finished washing his hands and walked out of the bathroom, drying them on a towel.
"Good morning." Ms. Phillips said pleasantly. She shook Tommy's hand and then turned to Billy doing likewise. "I want to simulate the type of questions you are going to be asked on the stand. You are going to be grilled unmercifully and I want to know you can handle it."
"Yes ma'am." Tommy said politely. He felt extremely uncomfortable.
"Yoshi, I'll be using your real name at the trail, please have a seat." Ms. Phillips invited him. "Okay, to start with you'll be asked to state your full name for the record."
"Yoshi Aoni Kurukawa." Tommy said, sitting down in the straight backed chair, Ms. Phillips had indicated.
"All right, let's begin."
[One hour later]
Tommy sat huddled in his chair, his hands over his face to hide his tears.
"I'm sorry Yoshi." Ms. Phillips said gently. "But, Mr. Bailey will be far less kind. You have to get it together or we don't stand a chance in hell of convicting Brewster. Think about that." She motioned to her assistants, then turned back as she reached the door. "By the way, why don't you get a haircut and lose that earring, appearances are important in court." She left quietly, shutting the door behind her.
Billy walked over to comfort his friend, putting his arm around his thin shoulders. "It will be all right Tommy." He told him. "We'll all be right there with you."
Tommy looked up. "I know, but I just don't know if I can do this." Tears ran unchecked down his lean cheeks.
"You can." Billy said firmly. "I have faith in you. We all do."
[San Francisco Municipal Court House]
Tommy was seated in the front row behind Ms. Phillips and her prosecution team. He was dressed in a conservative black suit. His hair was pulled back in a ponytail. A small gold hoop earring winked in his left ear. It had been his mother's. She had given it to him for his birthday and he would never willing part with it. He wore it proudly, holding her memory close in his heart. Court was almost ready to convene. Tommy stared straight ahead or looked at Kim who was seated beside him. He refused to glance over at Malcum Brewster, smiling benignly and talking to his smarmy attorney. Mr. Bailey was the best money could buy. He was joined by a team of the most cunning legal minds in the country. Personally, Tommy wondered if they even had a chance.
The trail had been a farce from day one. Whatever could go wrong, had. Ms. Phillips had done her best to reveal Malcum Brewster's true nature, but had failed miserably. Mr. Bailey had done a much better job of convincing the jury that Yoshi was an insane, misguided, tragic figure with a vendetta against Malcum Brewster. In opening statements the jury had been told about the tragic fire and the DA's intention to prove that Malcum Brewster had the motive and opportunity to cause it. The defense claimed that Mr. Brewster was a victim of Yoshi's misguided revenge. They pointed out his philanthropic gestures to the community.
The prosecution had started by showing file photos to the jurors of the aftermath of the fire. The burned bodies and devastation. They had also been shown pictures of Yoshi's injuries and a detailed explanation of his painful rehabilitation. Signed affidavits from Mr. Kaplan, Mrs. Appleby, and Mr. Mitchell attesting to Yoshi's character were entered into evidence. The Fire Marshall was called to explain the cause of the fire. He was unable to give a definite cause, since his report was incomplete. In frustration, Ms. Phillips called Yoshi. He kept himself tightly under control and answered all her questions truthfully. He recounted what he had seen and heard the day of the fire and what he remembered of being shot in Angel Grove. Ms. Phillips smiled at him encouragingly and turned him over to Bailey for cross examination. Bailey had done a thorough job of poking holes in Yoshi's story. All Yoshi saw was the Lord Gangstas' laying the incendiary devices. He heard Robert McNickles talking on the phone to Mr. Brewster outside the apartments. Mr. Bailey pointed out that it was perfectly normal for Mr. McNickles to be near the apartments, since he was Mr. Brewster's employee and the apartments were surrounded by Mr. Brewster's businesses. Yoshi protested that McNickles was near the door leading to the basement of the apartments, but Bailey cut him off and started on a new tack.
He suggested Yoshi was being coached by a DA out to make a name for herself by exploiting his tragedy. Ms. Phillips strenuously objected. Mr. Bailey was mildly reprimanded, but never broke stride. He then brought up the fact that Yoshi's girlfriend had been dating Austin Brewster, Malcum's nephew. He goaded Yoshi into admitting he didn't like Austin, but cut him off when he tried to explain why. He pointed to Austin and his two goons sitting prominently in the front row behind Malcum. He outlined their injuries. One's jaw was wired shut, his arm in a sling. The other had tightly bandaged fractured ribs, and Austin had tape across his broken nose, emphasizing his black eyes. He asked Yoshi if he had caused these injuries. He had answered yes, then was once again cut off when he tried to explain.
Ms. Phillips quickly asked to question Yoshi further, giving him a chance to explain. He recounted the true events, but his testimony was marred by Austin jumping up and yelling, "He's a liar! He tried to kill me. He hates me and my uncle. He's dangerous! He should be locked up!" Austin was removed from the court room kicking and screaming, but the damage was done. Ms. Phillips asked to recess for lunch. She wanted to call Kim to the stand to back up his testimony. Yoshi threatened to leave if she did. Kim was stressed enough without being grilled by Bailey. Ms. Phillips finally gave in, but read him the riot act for not telling her about the fight. "I don't like to be caught unprepared." She told him.
The trial only got worse. Ms. Phillips called Jason Scott to testify about Nurse Nancy's attempt on Yoshi's life. A medical examiner stated the poison in the syringe was cyanide. Then, Nancy's supposed boyfriend, a well known gang banger named Joel, was called. She got Joel to admit Nancy was a drug addict who would do anything for cash. Bailey turned that on her by suggesting the shooting was a drug deal gone bad and that Nurse Nancy was just trying to finish the job. Ms. Phillips objection that Yoshi was not on trial, was sustained, but the jury still heard the suggestion.
Ms. Phillips called Billy. His testimony was crucial since he had actually conversed with Malcum in the warehouse and been told he had to die and why. Billy very accurately told his story, almost like he was giving a school report. Then Bailey thoroughly discredited him. He had Billy take off his glasses and blindfolded him. A guy same build and height as Yoshi, long hair in a ponytail, dressed the same, was brought to stand only a few feet from Billy. The blindfold was removed.
"Mr. Mitchell, could you tell me the identity of the person standing in front of you?" Mr. Bailey asked him. Billy squinted his eyes in an attempt to focus them. Everything was a blur. The man turned and he saw a ponytail, light reflected off his earring.
"That's Tommy, I mean Yoshi." Billy said in relief. He thankfully put his glasses back on.
"I think you'd better look again, Mr. Mitchell." Mr. Bailey gloated. "If you can't identify one of your best friends from three feet away, how could you positively say the man you spoke with was Mr. Brewster? Isn't it true that your glasses were knocked off and broken before you ever allegedly saw Mr. Brewster?"
"Yes, but...." Billy started to protest.
"Then perhaps it wasn't Mr. Brewster at all. Just someone who looked like him." Bailey said. "Couldn't you have been led astray by Yoshi. You have already testified that you knew his true identity before the bangers attacked you. You also knew about the fire and Yoshi's belief that poor Mr. Brewster is responsible for it. Don't you think you have embellished your little story for Yoshi's benefit."
"No, I told you the truth. I...."
"No further questions." Mr. Bailey said.
The DA had watched her carefully constructed case crumble. A tape of Malcum Brewster talking to Robert McNickles on one occasion and the leader of the Lord Gangstas on another was ruled inadmissible. The paperwork granting the order for the phone tap was not in order. In a last futile attempt, Ms. Phillips prepared to call the leader of the Lord Gangstas to the witness stand. He had been arrested on a robbery charge and made a deal with the DA. He agreed to testify against Brewster in exchange for a reduction in his sentence. Unfortunately, he never made it to court. He was found hanging from the bars of his cell in an apparent suicide.
Ms. Phillips realized it was over. Yoshi didn't need her to tell him, he knew it, too. He watched the jury return after an obscenely short length of time and listened stoically while Brewster was given his walking papers. Kim put her arms around him crying. He felt nothing, just numb. What did I really expect? He looked over at Brewster who had the audacity to wink at him. News Reporters waited outside like vultures ready to swarm. Yoshi walked outside to face them, surrounded by his friends. He refused to comment and pushed through to the waiting car. The last thing he saw, as they drove away, was Brewster soaking up the media attention.
[Four months later]
Yoshi, still known as Tommy to his friends, finished signing the stack of papers giving him ownership of a modest home in Angel Grove. Kim gave him a beautiful smile, a hug and a kiss. The last months had not been easy for the young couple. Yoshi had been involved in a legal battle with Brewster over the Shinjuku property. Yoshi Kurukawa was the sole living heir to the property that Brewster had bought at auction for a song. His grandfather, Hikaru had made sure his will was properly filed. It had taken some time, but a deal had been struck. The property, now a parking garage, was purchased by the City of San Francisco. They were happy to add the additional revenue to their income. The City compensated Mr. Brewster for the improvements he had made to the property and paid Yoshi the balance.
Mr. Brewster had a beautiful memorial erected for the victims of the Shinjuku Fire. It was a huge media event. Yoshi refused to attend, but came later with Kim and his friends to pay his respects and leave flowers. It was very emotional for him, and at the same time gave him the closure he needed.
Yoshi had used the money from the sale of the property, plus the surprising insurance check he had received (thanks to Mr. Mitchell's attorney) to purchase the home. He wanted Kim and his child to have a safe place to live in. Mr. Mitchell was helping him invest the rest of the money wisely, so he would have an income to support his family.
Things would be almost perfect if not for Kim's continued estrangement with her mother. She was deeply hurt and depressed by their separation. Kim wanted to share her joy in the coming child with her mother. She also needed her mother's consent to marry her child's father. Something she doubted would ever be forthcoming.
Kim had been stunned when she read in the paper that her mother was engaged to be married to Malcum Brewster. Yoshi felt sick. He really wanted to put the past behind him. How could he possibly do that if Malcum Brewster was his future father-in-law?
[The Hall Mansion]
"Malcum dear, come in." Carolyn Hall invited him, stepping aside so he could enter her home. "I gave the servants the night off so we could be alone." She smiled suggestively. "They left us a light supper in the dining room."
"That sounds wonderful dear." Malcum said, sweeping her into his arms for a kiss. They walked hand in hand into the dining room.
[Tommy and Kim's new home]
Tommy and Kim stood in their new home. It was still empty of furniture, but the electricity was on. They walked from room to room discussing what they would need before they moved in. Kim lingered in what would be the baby's room. She was five months along, her stomach rounding more each day. Tommy walked up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist (what was left of it) and rubbing her tummy. He liked to feel the baby moving. He thought he just might have gone crazy without Kim's love and the hope she gave him for the future. He felt her small shoulders start to shake, a tear splashed onto his hand.
"What's wrong Kimmie?" He asked in concern.
"I miss my mother." Kim said, sobbing. "I need her now more than ever. It just kills me that she won't speak to me. I never meant to hurt her. I feel like I've let her down."
"That's not true Kim." Tommy said, trying to keep the anger out of his voice. "Just the opposite in my opinion. She's the one who let you down."
"It doesn't matter what has happened." Kim said. "She's still my mother and I love her. I'm worried about her too, being with that Malcum Brewster. Tommy, what if he hurts her?"
"I understand how you feel Kim." Tommy said. "Look, why don't we go over and talk to her right now? It's past time we worked this out."
"Really?" Kim said hopefully, then her face fell. "We won't get in. She's instructed the servants not to admit me."
"Don't you have a key?" Tommy asked her.
"Of course, Mom would never think to have the locks changed." She turned and hugged Tommy excitedly. "Let's go."
[The Hall Mansion]
Kim fumbled with the key to the front door in the dark. The outside light was burnt out. She couldn't seem to fit it in the lock.
"Here, let me." Tommy offered. He took the key from Kim and opened the door. The house was unnaturally silent. They walked in and stood listening.
"Where is everyone?" Tommy asked in a whisper.
"I don't know. Maybe Mom gave the servants the night off. She must have gone out with Malcum." Kim said in disappointment.
"Wait a minute." Tommy said. "I thought I heard something."
They walked further into the house. A light shone beneath the closed study door in the back of the house. They heard voices raised in anger.
"You will sign this Carolyn, now!" They heard Brewster roar. "No one defies me. Do you understand?" There was the sound of a fist striking flesh, a scream, and then broken sobs.
"It's my Mom." Kim said frantically staring to run forward.
"Stay back Kim. I'll take care of this." Tommy said. "I don't want you or the baby hurt."
Kim nodded, trusting him to help her mother. He tried the door, it was locked. Mrs. Hall screamed again. It sounded like furniture breaking.
"Tommy!" Kim screamed. Tommy kicked the door in with a powerful kick, wood splintering. He ran into the room and pulled Brewster off of Carolyn, leveling him with a well-placed punch. Brewster was out for the count.
Kim ran to her mother, gathering her awkwardly in her arms, her tummy in the way. "Mom, are you all right?" She asked, brushing tangled hair out of her mother's bruised face.
"Kim?" Carolyn said in wonder. She glanced over to where Tommy stood looking like he wanted to murder Brewster with his bare hands. He forcibly restrained himself and turned his attention to Kim and her mother.
"Tommy...thank you." She struggled to stand. Tommy walked over and helped her gently to her feet. "You were right about him. I know that now. I'm so sorry. I've been such a fool." She hugged Kim close, trembling. "He's a monster. I think he only wanted to marry me for that commercial property I own downtown. He had brought over a pre-nuptial agreement. When I refused to sign it, he turned violent."
"Mrs. Hall, do you want me to call the police?" Tommy asked her.
"No, God no. Just get him out of here." She said, collapsing in Kim's arms, her tears returning.
"My pleasure." Tommy said grimly. He picked Brewster up by the heels and drug him outside to his limo. He made sure to bounce his head across the steps and scrape him across the sidewalk. He opened the door to the parked limo and dumped Brewster inside like a sac of potatoes (rotten ones). The driver woke up from his nap and looked at Tommy groggily. "Take Mr. Brewster home." Tommy said. "He's not feeling well." Tommy slammed the door. The limo pulled away. Tommy had the distinct feeling he should have hit Brewster a lot harder and put him out of business for good.
Tommy checked the back of the large moving truck one last time to make sure nothing had been overlooked. He jumped down and pulled the door shut, walking into his new home. He looked on in amusement, watching Kim and her mother directing the unfortunate male rangers where to place furniture. No sooner would Jason and Zach move the chair they held to one position, then Kim would change her mind.
Trini and Trystan were in the kitchen unpacking boxes. Billy was patiently watching his little niece Tara and his new nephew Travis. Travis was only six weeks old and still slept a lot. Billy's cast was gone, but he still wore a leg brace for extra support.
Tommy went to the window when he heard a vehicle pull up outside. He went out to greet Mr. Mitchell, Speed Racer, and Racer X. They all piled out of the cab and walked around to the back of the pickup truck. They lowered the tailgate and jumped up inside.
"What's this?" Tommy asked curiously.
"A little house warming gift for you and Kim." Mr. Mitchell said with an uncharacteristic grin.
"Well, thanks." Tommy said. "Need some help?"
"Yeah, get up here Yoshi." Greg called out good naturedly. "This thing weighs a ton."
The four men struggled to carry the large, old fashioned, seven foot couch into the house. They tried several different times before finally fitting it through the doorway.
"Where do you want this Kim?" Tommy asked, huffing and puffing.
"Oh God, here we go again." Jason said with a groan.
"Hello Mr. Mitchell. Thank you for the couch." Kim said uncertainly, eyeing the massive relic.
"You're welcome dear." He said with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "I know how attached you and Tommy are to it and I wanted you to have it."
Tara jumped up on the couch, bouncing excitedly. "Yogi's couch." She said happily.
Kim took a closer look at the couch and blushed furiously, realizing it was the couch she and Tommy had made love on for the first time. "Oh." She said embarrassed, glancing furtively to her mother, who was listening curiously.
"Carolyn." Mr. Mitchell said. "It's lovely to see you again. Will you still be able to join me for dinner this evening?"
"Of course I will, Paul." She said, with a smile. She walked over and took his arm, looking up into his eyes. "I'm looking forward to it."
Now it was Mr. Mitchell's turn to blush. He and Carolyn had started dating after her break up with Brewster. Tommy was barely able to conceal his grin.
"Racer X, Greg, will you come with me over to my old apartment?" Tommy asked them. "I still have a few things to pack up." They both readily agreed, happy to help their friend. "Be back soon." Tommy said, kissing Kim briefly.
"I'd kiss you too Trys, if I could get to you." Racer X said ruefully. There was quite an obstacle course separating him from his wife. Tara launched herself at her daddy, squeezing him tightly around the neck. "Help your Uncle Billy take care of the little guy." Racer X told his young daughter. He looked over at Billy, smirking when he saw the suspicious stain on his shirt. "Later." He said waving and blowing his wife a kiss. The three men loaded up and left. Little suspecting what awaited them.
[FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER, SALEM COURT PROJECTS]
Darkness was fast descending, as Tommy, Racer X, and Greg loaded the last boxes in Mr. Mitchell's pickup. A young boy, named Paco, walked over to Tommy. He was about ten and of mixed heritage. His dusky skin and dark hair contrasted strikingly with his light blue eyes.
"Hola Paco." Tommy said, ruffling his hair. "Que pasa?"
"Tommy, I think something weird is going on." Paco said fearfully, speaking in fluent English with only a slight accent. "I saw some men sneaking around the apartments earlier. I didn't know them."
"What were they doing?" Tommy asked, leaning down to the child's level.
"They were around back, you know where the door to the basement is." Paco told him. "They unloaded some bundles off a truck."
Tommy's blood turned to ice. "Paco, do exactly what I say. Go sound the fire alarm and get everyone out now."
"But, Tommy?.." Paco protested.
"Just do it!" Tommy yelled at him. The boy ran off.
Racer X grabbed Tommy by the arm. "You don't think..."
"I damn well do. Coming?" Tommy asked in a grim tone.
Racer X nodded his head in agreement. He pulled the large caliber hand gun from his shoulder holster and chambered a bullet. "I'm with you Yoshi."
The three men made it around back just as the fire alarm sounded. Unfortunately, many residents did not take the alarm seriously and were slow to leave the building. The alarm had been sounded too many times as a prank by the local youth. Tommy peeked around the corner of the building to see Malcum Brewster and his nephew standing in front of the entrance to the basement. A limo was waiting. Tommy could smell smoke wafting out the open door. Images filled his mind of flames licking at vulnerable skin, inhuman screams, and that never to be forgotten smell of seared human flesh. Not again Brewster, you bastard. Tommy ran and leaped in front of Brewster, kicking the portly man in his soft belly. He fell against his nephew, knocking them both backwards. They lost their balance and fell down the stairwell rolling and tumbling.
Racer X shot the large bodyguard aiming for Tommy's back without blinking an eye. The single bullet caught him between the eyes, killing him almost instantly. A series of loud explosions shook the building and flames shot out of the basement. Shrieks of agony filled the air, as Tommy caught a glimpse of the human torch Malcum had become. Tommy slammed the door shut and turned to Racer X and Greg.
"We have to make sure everyone is out of the building." Tommy rasped out. The smoke was already irritating his damaged lungs. He felt no remorse for the grisly deaths he imagined Brewster and Austin had suffered. Poetic justice. The Angel of Death had finally extracted revenge.
"You stay out of there Yoshi." Speed Racer (Greg) commanded him. "You can't take this smoke. I'm trained for this, let me handle it until the firemen get here."
Tommy reluctantly agreed, coughing into the palm of his hand. He watched Speed and Racer X run into the building. Sirens wailed and fire trucks came screaming up. The pumper truck immediately began spraying the building with forceful blasts of water.
An hysterical Hispanic woman came running up to the firemen screaming incoherently in her native language, pointing to the upper story of the building. The firemen pushed her back and a policeman restrained her. Tommy walked over, when he heard her sob, "Mi nino". Her face was so soot blackened he didn't recognize her as Paco's mother until he got close.
"Senora Castaldo." Tommy said urgently. "Donde esta Paco?" The woman pointed desperately to the building, her throat closing from smoke inhalation.
"Por favor." She begged Tommy, sliding to her knees in front of him. Tommy didn't think twice. He ran into the building after Paco, just as Kim and the rangers pulled up behind the hastily erected barricades.
Racer X and Speed came out of the almost fully engulfed building carrying a young woman and baby between them. Paramedics gave them oxygen and took the victims off their hands.
"Anyone else in there?" The fire chief asked them.
Speed pulled his mask down for a minute. "I hope not." He said, looking at the flames filling the night sky.
Kimberly forced her way through the crowds with Jason and Zach's help.
"Where is Tommy?" She asked frantically.
"He's around here somewhere." Racer X said, scanning for Tommy.
Senora Castaldo sat on the ground nearby sobbing inconsolably. She stood up when she heard Tommy's name. She recognized Kim and wrapped her arms around the heavily pregnant pink ranger.
"Lo siento." She said over and over again, soaking Kim's maternity top with tears.
"What is she saying?" Kim asked, a sick feeling tightening her stomach into a knot.
A young firefighter walked over. "She's saying, "I'm sorry". Her son is still in the building. Some crazy guy went in after him a few minutes ago. I'd say they're both dead."
Kim clutched her throat, feeling dizzy. Jason put his arm around her for support. "Did?" Kim cleared her dry throat. "Did he have long brown hair in a ponytail and an earring?" She asked, desperately hoping he'd say no.
"Yeah, that sounds like him." The firefighter said. Kim swayed and would have fallen if not for Jason's strong arm around her.
"Tommy." She whispered.
"I'm sure he made it out Kim." Jason said. "You have to believe that."
Jason pushed Kim to the ground and shielded her with his body as a massive explosion ripped through the building. The concussion sent shock waves through their bodies and blasted their eardrums with intense sound waves.
"That place is a total loss." The fireman said, standing and brushing debris from his coat. "No one could've survived that." The rangers, Speed, and Racer X gave him a dirty look. He took the hint and shut up.
"Get Kim out of here." Racer X said to Jason. "Take her to Trystan. We'll stay and find Yoshi."
"No." Kim said stubbornly. "I'm not leaving here without him."
Tommy crawled through the hallway of the third floor trying desperately to breathe. His lungs were on fire and his vision was blurry. Smoke stung his eyes and fire dragged the oxygen from the air. Sweat soaked his body and poured down his face in rivulets from the incredible heat.
"Paco!" He yelled as loudly as possible. Flames shot up the stairwell he had just exited, fire greedily consuming everything in its path. He came to the door of Paco's apartment. He reached up and touched the door knob. Heat seared his hand so he didn't open it, fearing a backdraft. He felt the knob of the next door apartment and opened it. He stood up and entered the room, pulling his shirt up over his nose and mouth. He felt along the wall, finding a spot where there was nothing much but particle board and paneling between this apartment and the next. He kicked it repeatedly, splintering the wood until a hole caved in big enough to crawl through. In the process he used up valuable oxygen and energy. He went through the small opening and saw Paco immediately. A smoldering beam from the ceiling was pinning him to the floor and he was unconscious from lack of oxygen. Flames were licking at the front door, eating up the floor. Time was fast running out. Tommy pulled the searing hot, heavy beam off of Paco, never feeling the pain when his hands blistered. An explosion deafened him as he fell across Paco and pushed a button on his communicator. The two boys vanished in a flash of Green Light.
"Hey!" Racer X yelled. "Get some paramedics over here." He had stumbled across Tommy and Paco in the dark. They were both unconscious. Speed Racer was the first to reach him. He turned Tommy over and checked his vitals.
"He's still alive." Speed said. Kim, Jason, and Zach rushed up with paramedics in tow. They immediately went to work; one on Tommy the other on Paco.
"Run, get Paco's mom." Kim told Jason. She watched anxiously as the paramedics worked over Tommy. She wanted to hold him, touch him...but didn't want to get in the way.
Paco coughed and opened his eyes, looking around wildly. He sucked air in rapidly, aided by the oxygen mask on his face. His eyes fell upon Tommy and he started to cry. Tommy looked dead to his young eyes. Senora Castaldo ran up and took her son in her arms, mumbling in Spanish. Thanking God, the Virgin Mary, and anyone else she could think of. Kim could stand it no longer she went to her knees by Tommy and brushed the sweaty hair from his dirty cheeks.
"Tommy, please wake up." She begged him. She started to grab his hand, but stopped when the paramedic cautioned her. He was treating the burns on his palms and fingers. Tommy was wheezing, air rasping painfully in his irritated lungs and airways. Kim continued to touch him soothingly. He opened his bloodshot eyes, looked at her, and winked. The tears Kim had been holding back finally fell, as relief made her weak. She leaned down and kissed him on the forehead, coating herself with black soot.
"I have to say Yoshi." Speed said, with a broad grin. "You've got more lives than a cat." Tommy sat up and pulled off his mask, laughing. His laughter soon turned to deep, hacking coughs. Kim put the mask back on his face.
"Is he going to be okay?" She asked the paramedics.
"Yeah, I think so." One told them. "He's suffering from severe smoke inhalation and second degree burns on his hands."
"What about Paco?" Kim asked, indicating the young boy in his mother's arms.
"He's one lucky boy." The paramedic said. "No broken bones, only a few third degree burns on his legs. Those thick jeans he's wearing were flame retardant. He's suffering from smoke inhalation, too. We're going to transport them both to the hospital. You can ride in the ambulance with them if you want."
Angel Grove Park - Band Shell
A news crew set up lights and cameras in preparation for the award ceremony about to take place. The citizens of Angel Grove were honoring the heroism of three young men.
Three months had passed since the tragic fire at Salem Courts. The building had been a total loss. Many families were homeless. The residents of Angel Grove had opened their hearts and wallets to these families. They expressed their outrage over Malcum Brewster's betrayal of the community. They made sure the large insurance policy Brewster had taken out on Salem Courts went to build new and safe apartments. Brewster had owned Salem Courts through a holding company. He had decided to burn it down and collect some insurance money to replace the large sum of money he had donated to the City Housing Project. It had been difficult, but investigators had traced the holding company back to Brewster Industries. They were still uncovering his many shady deals; and would be doing so for a very long time.
Tommy held his daughter in his lightly bandaged hands. She was sleeping peacefully, her little head laying on his chest. Cheyenne Shio Oliver was only five weeks old. They had named her after Tommy's Native American mother and the young girl he had loved. Both had been lost in the Shinjuku fire. Cheyenne turned her little head, searching with her pink lips for something Tommy didn't have. She began to fuss angrily when she couldn't find what she wanted. Tommy handed her to Kim.
"I think it's your turn, Mommy." He said, laughing. "I don't have the right equipment."
Kim parted her shirt and unsnapped her nursing bra under cover of the baby blanket thrown over her shoulder. Cheyenne's fussing stopped abruptly, as she began to nurse. Kim ran her fingers over Cheyenne's silky brown hair and rubbed her tiny back. Her chocolate brown eyes were closed in contentment. She grasped her mother's finger tightly. Kim's heart swelled with love. She smiled at Tommy. He leaned over and kissed her, then went to join Racer X, and Speed Racer. He was oblivious to the large slobber stain on the front of his shirt. Speed started to tell him, but they were drug up on stage to receive their awards.
The Oliver Home later that evening
Tommy was taking a lot of teasing from his friends. They had taped the Awards Ceremony and everyone was laughing about the stain on Tommy's shirt. It was painfully obvious to the world and looked hilarious. The cause of the stain was sleeping in her frilly pink bassinet. Tommy went into her bedroom to check on her. They had a baby monitor, so they'd hear if she cried, but he just liked to watch her sleep sometimes, listening to her breathe. Kim walked in behind him, having the same intention. She silently put her arm around his waist and they watched Cheyenne together.
Tommy had finally put the pain of the past behind him, replaced by the love and friendship he had found in Angel Grove. Malcum Brewster was dead and Tommy wanted to forget he had ever existed.
He took Kim's hand and they slipped out of the baby's room and down to their own. He pulled her inside and shut the door. He took Kim in his arms and kissed her.
"Tommy, we have company." Kim protested half-heartedly.
"So, they can take care of themselves for a while." He said and resumed his attack. They fell to the bed and Kim forgot all about their guests.
[The Brewster Estate]
A tall figure swathed in a long black trenchcoat, slipped through the lax security and into the large mansion. He roamed through the maze of rooms empty of life, until he found what he sought. Austin Brewster opened his uncle's private safe and unloaded the contents into a duffel bag. A mirror over the desk revealed Austin's face in the bright moonlight. His once handsome face was horribly scarred and disfigured. The worst scar trailed down his left cheek. He glanced up and caught sight of his reflection. He traced the thick scar tissue.
"You'll pay for this Oliver." He vowed. "One day you'll pay."
Austin zipped up the bag and disappeared into the shadows of the