Disclaimer: The Rangers are not mine, nor is the title. It just fit together so well that I couldnít resist. However, this is not a comedy, like the movie. I was feeling rather maudlin when I wrote this, so ... be warned!

 

My Best Friendís Wedding

By Dagmar Buse



Tommy is getting married today. My best friend is pledging himself to the girl who captured his heart in High School and didnít let go, even through separation and time. They have waited a long time for this, but now the day has come. Their waiting is finally over. And it looks like everybody and everything is rejoicing with them. Even the weather is playing its part -- after a rather long stretch of rain and dampness, this May weekend is bathed in sunshine and gentle warmth.

The only darkness anywhere is in my heart.

And yet, outwardly I smile, joke with Tommy and the rest of our friends as we make our way to Church. Once there, the others either take up their duties as ushers, or wait for the girls, all of whom are happy and proud to be bridesmaids to their former teammate. I stand next to Tommy at the altar. I was honoured, despite everything, that he chose <me> to be his best man, and not David, his brother by blood. But Dave, bless him, instead of being jealous of our closeness, has always accepted me as part of Tommy. He is trained as a shaman of his people; with a wisdom far beyond his years, he told me shortly after Tommy introduced us, that he would never intrude on our friendship -- that he was glad to meet the person who was his brotherís brother-in-spirit. I nearly choked on my tears when I heard him say that. David has been a good friend to me as well ever since.

Friends and family are gathering as the Church slowly fills. Tommyís parents are in the front pew, of course, along with Sam Trueheart and David. Even my parents are there, along with all the families of all our friends. Weíd been too close as kids for our folks not to take a lively interest in all our lives. Really, over the years, we have all become one big, extended family.

None of us would have it any other way.

Tommy is fidgetting next to me, tugging at his collar. ĄLeave it alone!" I whisper to him. He just shrugs sheepishly and clasps his hands behind his back. He still wears his hair long, but no longer slicked back or the sides razored short. Instead, it is styled almost like an eighteenth-centuryís gentlemanís queue, complete with black bow. It goes well with the stylized, high-collared suit he is wearing. The whole wedding has an old-fashioned look to it, but it was Tommyís brideís wish. And when could he ever deny her anything? I donít mind; Iím all numb inside, anyway. The small velvet box in my pocket, the one with the rings, gets heavier the closer the actual moment comes. I grasp it like a lifeline out at sea -- only itís more like a stone tied around me that drags me under.

Everybody is seated, the pastor steps up next to us, and gives a signal to the organist. With a powerful chord, the musc starts. Suddenly, Tommyís nervousness seems to slough off like rain off a window pane. He straightens, and stands tall and proud as the processional begins. Rocky and Kimberly are the first couple out, because sheís the Maid of Honour. Of course. Then, the others come -- Tanya and Adam, Zack and Aisha, Billy and Trini. All are smiling with true joy. I smile as well, but I know it doesnít reach my eyes. For now, on her fatherís arm, a vision of loveliness walks down the aisle, all white and pink and pale gold, her crystal blue eyes glowing with love for the man standing next to me.

Katherine Hillard. Kat. The Pink Ranger. The girl I love.

During those short, endless moments while she is approaching us, my mind flashes back to the first time Iíd ever seen her -- that day at the Power Chamber, when Tommy had asked me to take on the Gold Ranger Powers in trust for Trey of Triforia. Of course Iíd agreed. Being a Ranger again had meant more to me than anything, and damn the consequences. Little did I know that that day sealed my fate in more ways than one. Because not only did the alien Powers alter my body chemistry to an extent that they almost cost me my life, later, but as a result I lost the chance of ever being a Ranger again -- and I also lost my heart for all time.

It only took one look into those blue eyes, and I knew. Just like that. Her smile, when she greeted me, was the most wonderful thing Iíd ever seen, and I felt warm all over. I didnít need to know her name. From that moment I loved her, deeply, unconditionally, irrevocably, with all that I am.

I still do.

I couldnít believe how much it hurt when I saw her slip her hand into Tommyís as we walked to the Youth Center. It hurt even more to watch Tommy kiss her on the cheek. I had seen Tommy with Kimberly, before, and I knew how much the break-up with her had hurt him. I was happy for my best friend that he could love again, I <wanted> to be happy for him, but at the same time all I could do was stifle that presence inside my head that sat up and howled with pain. Instead, I took my place on the team, once again under Tommyís command, and tried to hide as much as possible. I even attempted to deny what I was feeling, taking up with Emily soon after. She was bright, funny, pretty, just as blonde, just as blue-eyed -- and I cheated on her right from the start. Oh, not in any physical sense; Iím not like that. But it wasnít fair to her, so our relationship didnít last. Because from the outset, she was only a substitute.

I didnít want to know. Instead, I pretended everything was fine; I even spent time with Kat, in the vain hope that being with her would somehow ease the feeling of hopelessness I got whenever I saw her and Tommy together, growing closer day by day.

It didnít work -- and I never truly expected it to.

Accepting my Power Coin all those years ago, living with the danger and the responsibility day in and day out forced me to grow up in an awful hurry. We all had to, or we would never have survived those first weeks. As a result, I had to get to know <me> fairly well. I had to know where my strengths were, what weaknesses I had that could possibly be exploited by our alien enemies. I succeeded, yes, but at what price? Self-knowledge is a terrible thing. Of course I made mistakes -- it was hard to accept that, but Iím only Human, after all. Iím not perfect. None of us is. Even Kat, although she seems like that to me. She is moody sometimes, too retiring, and still haunted by her time as Ritaís pawn. She tends to overcompensate. We all do.

Which is why I went out of my way to get Tommy back when Gasket kidnapped and brainwashed him. Kat was frantic, of course. Once we realized what had happened, she became very quiet, but her beautiful eyes held a steely determination to save her boyfriend that matched anything Iíd ever seen in Tommyís or my own eyes when we had to make decisions that would influence the fate of the world. I never thought I could love her more than I already did, but then she faced down a Zeo Blaster unmorphed in that arena, with only her love as a shield. It was enough, and all I could do was follow her lead.

Because for one brief, horrifying moment, I wished Tommy would not come back -- ever.

I can honestly say I hated myself the instant sanity kicked back in. I <never> want to be that disgusted with myself again as I felt when I realized where my thoughts were going. But ... I couldnít help myself. Just for a moment, all I could see, think, feel was that, with Tommy gone, Kat could be mine. However, one look at the misery and despair in her eyes brought me back to my senses. Not only would I lose the best friend I ever had, or could hope to find; if we lost him, it would also cause Kat an incredible amount of pain -- and I donít want to see her hurt. Ever. With that in mind, it was easy to gamble everything on the close bond we all share -- every single person who has ever held Ranger Powers anywhere in the Universe is part of that bond. I canít, and wonít betray that trust.

Not even for Kat. That experience was a turning point for Tommy and her, because they became even closer than before, and for me, because I finally accepted that it was too late. Had been, really, from the start. It was just bad luck that I wasnít home where I belong when Kat moved here. I had thought of leaving the Teen Summit earlier, but ... no matter.

For once, I lost.

Itís ironic, really, when I think about it. Jason Lee Scott, Winner. At least thatís what my Yearbook picture from Junior High is captioned with. I always was a winner -- only not the one time that meant more to me than anything else. I lost Kat before I even knew there was something to win. Who was it that said, ĄThe saddest words in any language are Ďwhat might have beení."? That guy sure knew what he was talking about.

So, now Iím standing here, at Church, watching Kat walk down the aisle -- surely the most beautiful bride you could imagine -- and the love in her eyes and her smiles are all directed at the man next to me. Tommy Oliver, Green/White/Red Ranger. My best friend. Who looks at her with just as much love and warmth as I want to give her, but canít. I see how her father puts her slim hand into Tommyís, hear the pastor speak the ancient words, and I feel my heart breaking into a million pieces as I hand the rings to Tommy and look on as they promise to love each other unto eternity. They kiss, in front of everybody, and even though I want to deny it, it is a kiss full of gentleness and passion, so like both of them.

They hurry outside, into the sunshine, while the rest of us follow more slowly. Everybody is laughing and celebrating, while I am just going through the motions. I can feel Kimís and Davidís eyes on me, asking silent questions, but I fake yet another smile and crack a joke. The darkness is inside of me to stay. It is not a darkness that will make me bad or anything, but something that I donít know how to penetrate. I will just have to learn how to live with it.

Tommy and Kat are drawing me between them, and they both have their arms around me. Tommy hugs me, and Kat ... Kat kisses me. My heart falters for a moment, remembering one last time the night I stole a kiss from her without her knowledge -- she had fallen asleep while we were waiting for Tommy, and I couldnít resist. The memory of how her sweet lips felt aganst mine will remain my most closely-guarded secret.

I rejoice with our friends, and my wishes for their happiness are true. How can they be anything else? I need not pretend that I hope theyíll have a long and happy life together. After all, theyíre my best friends -- both of them. After all Iíve just said, you ask how can that be? Donít I wish things were different? The answer is yes, and no. Yes, I wish in a hidden corner of my heart that it were me who exchanged marriage vows with Kat. No, because nothing is more important than Katís and Tommyís peace of mind, which they have found in each other. I canít begrudge them that. So Iíve kept silent, never saying anything to anybody, burying my feelings so deeply that sometimes even I can forget that there is more to what I feel for Kat than the love of a friend. Almost, anyway. And I will do everything within my power to make sure they keep what they have, even though right now Iím slowly dying inside.

Why?

Because I love them both.