The splash-hiss of the waves breaking on the shore filled the night air. A chunk of "St. Elmo's Fire," its green glow highlighting the water, scooted through the waves, ran parallel to the shore. Sleeping seagulls bobbed up and down on the cold water. In the horizon, a ship's light winked, mimicking the stars.
Smooth rocks, draped with brown seaweed, jutted out of the tide pools. Shells littered the tide line. A cold land breeze kicked up the gritty sand as a lone figure skirted the edge of water. Dressed in black, the figure blended into the empty nighttime. His shoulders were hunched over and he had jammed his hands into the pockets of his denim jacket. Long brown hair blew around the boy's lowered head. His heavy boots crunched as he stepped on bits of shell and sea foam.
Tommy Oliver looked up when a mangy dog, most likely a stray, dashed into the surf in front of him, grabbing something to eat. He sighed as he watched the dog eat the fish, then continued his walk. In the distance, the bells of St. Sabastian Church tolled out three times. It was three in the morning. Tommy picked up a piece of broken conch shell. In the faint moonlight, Tommy could see the delicate pinks and blues that lined the inside of the shell. The pink reminded him of Kimberly Harte, the Pink Ranger.
*Dammit, Oliver! * Tommy scolded himself. *Stop thinking about it! It's hopeless. Kim won't love someone whose evil. *
The word "evil" echoed in Tommy's mind. He closed his eyes as images flashed infront of him, like a movie shown on fast forward.
--Tying Jason Scott, the Red Ranger, in a Martial Arts Expo.
--Meeting Kimberly for the first time in school.
--Making a date to meet her in the Youth Center.
--The putty attack and the kidnapping.
"Stop it, please!" Tommy pleaded with the demons in his mind. He wailed with distress as his body remembered the pain Rita's spell inflicted on him.
*EvilEvil * Tommy cried as he remembered against his will.
--Dragonzord roaring as it smashed buildings and hurtled citizens to their deaths.
--The stench of blood mixing with the thick smoke from the fires.
"NO!" Tommy collapsed onto a sea-smoothed rock. Icy waves crashed around him, temporarily drowning out his thoughts. Tommy inhaled the tangy air, trying to banish the memories. He gazed out onto the restless sea and thought about where the Dragonzord lay.
*I wonder if I let the sea take me, if I'd end up with the Dragonzord? * Tommy thought. An image of his adopted parents slammed into the forefront of his mind. *I can't do that to them! It's bad enough; they had to deal with me when I was evil! * Tommy buried his face into his hands.
The roar of the ocean covered the sound of heavy boots crunching on the cold sand. A strong hand clapped Tommy on the shoulder. Tommy jumped and spun around.
"Hey, bro," Jason Scott said quietly.
Tommy relaxed. "What are you doing here?"
"Your mom called me when you didn't come home from the Youth Center. I tried your communicator, but it was turned off. After Zordon located your Power Coin in your book bag, in your jeep, I got worried. We all did." A frown creased Jason's face. "Man, if I had been Goldar, you'd be dead right now, bro!"
Tommy turned away from his friend. "Maybe that would be for the best," Tommy whispered. He faced his friend. Jason started to protest, but Tommy cut him off. "Listen, bro, now that Rita's spell over the Coin is broken, you can find some one who deserves to be a Ranger. Give that person the Green Coin. I'm sure Zordon knows of some one who isn't evil" Tommy's eyes watered.
Jason gripped Tommy's shoulder. "Bro, you're not evil," He murmured. "Rita's the evil one." Tommy looked down, but didn't respond. He didn't try to escape from Jason's grip either. "Bro, we can't just take some one off the streets and say 'Here's a Power Coin, you're now the Green Ranger.'"
"Isn't that what Zordon did you guys?" Tommy asked slyly.
"OK, he did," Jason admitted. "But, we were needed to help save the world."
"So, you guys don't need me. Hell, you were a team long before I moved here," Tommy interrupted.
Jason resisted the urge to slap Tommy upside the head. "So, you're gonna just run away and hide from all this, then?" Jason growled. "Where would you go?"
"My uncle has a cabin in the mountains. He doesn't use it much since he's pretty busy with his racing," Tommy answered.
"You'll just hide from your problems then?" Jason snapped. "Dammit, bro, that's what she wants you to do!" Jason shook Tommy by the shoulder. The skinny Ranger's hair flew about from the force of the blow. "Stand up to Rita! You're a hell of a lot tougher than this!"
"How would you know, Jase?"
"Your background check Alpha ran when you joined. You've got the guts to handle this, if you'll give yourself half a chance."
Tommy scuffed his toe in the sand. "How can I forget what I've done to this city?"
Jason lifted Tommy's chin so that his friend's eyes met his own. "You can't forget that. But you can make your peace with your inner ghosts," Jason paused. "And forgive yourself. You were not to blame for what Rita did."
Tommy stared at his reflection in the now calm tidal pool. Jason stood by his friend's side.
"You don't have to deal with this alone, bro. You have the Rangers on your side, remember?"
Tommy looked up from his reflection. A full moon broke out of the
heavy clouds. Tommy smiled for the first time since Jason lifted Rita's
spell from him.