Disclaimer: Saban, not me, insert standard disclaimer here. This fanfic is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for excessive violence, cursing, and some sexual innuendo. All the good stuff. Thanks to Jeremy Logsdon for his help with the story. The events of this story invalidate the sub-plot (suppressed snort) of the Turbo movie, but who cares? In case you're interested, the title is a reference to an X-files episode of the same name.
It was a sweet, warm, fragrant night in Angel Grove, despite the fact that it was early February. Kimberly Hart was headed to Jason Scott's house, hoping that a talk with him would help ease her mind about current events. Almost a year ago, she had broken up with her longtime boyfriend, Tommy Oliver. Now, she was back in Angel Grove during a lull in her training for the Pan-Globals, and she knew that sooner or later, they would have to talk.
The problem is, I don't even know what I'm feeling! Kimberly thought to herself. Do I love him as much as I did? Do I just want to be friends? And what do I do if he says that he's in love with Katherine now? Hopefully, a talk with Jason, the only one of her oldest friends left in Angel Grove, would help her make sense of her feelings.
A sound behind her made her turn. Kimberly's instincts had not dulled in the almost two years she had been away from the Rangers, and she fell naturally into a fighting stance, scanning the street behind her. "All right, who's there?" she asked. Even though she couldn't see them, she knew that someone was there, watching her. "Come on out, I don't have time to play games with you!"
"But the game is half the fun," a low voice replied. Kimberly turned, but not fast enough. A sharp pain cut through her side, and she realized that she had been stabbed. Kimberly tried to fight back, but the pain was too much for her. A few minutes later, Kimberly Hart's body dropped to the ground, and her assailant ran off into the darkness of the night.
* * *
Jason looked at his watch. Where was she? Kimberly was never, ever late. That was one of the many traits she had that had complimented Tommy's perfectly. Even though Kim was only a minute or so late, Jason was worried. He tapped on his communicator.
"Zordon, this is Jason. Can you scan for Kim? She's late for our talk, and she's never late."
"Of course, Jason," the inter-dimensional being replied. "Scanning now." There was a slight pause, then Alpha's excited voice broke in.
"Ai yi yi! Kimberly is lying on the sidewalk at the corner of Oak and Washington! She appears to be hurt, and she's not moving!"
These words were no sooner out of Alpha's mouth than Jason was out the door. He reached Kimberly's side in a matter of seconds. Scooping her into his arms, heedless of the blood all around, he began to run, heading for his car. Soon, he was on the road to Angel Grove General, moving at speeds that no one would ever have credited.
* * *
The constant, insistent ringing of the phone by his bed jarred Tommy Oliver out of a sound slumber. Reaching out, he picked up the phone. "Whoizzit?" he mumbled, trying to focus.
"It's Jason, Tommy. I'm at Angel Grove General. Kim's in the emergency room."
That cut through the fog in Tommy's brain as nothing else could have. "WHAT? What happened? Was it Mondo? Rita and Zedd?"
"Calm down, Tommy. We don't know. She was late getting to my house for a talk, and I was worried. I asked Zordon to scan for her, and he told me that she was lying on a street corner, and she was hurt. I found her and brought her to the hospital. She's in the OR now. I don't know any more than that."
"Oh, God," Tommy moaned, sitting up. "Have you called the others?"
"Not yet, man. You're the first. I'm gonna have to call Kat's next, since that's where Kim was staying."
"Okay," Tommy told him, running a hand through his hair. "I'll be right there. You want me to call some of them?"
"Yeah. Could you take Rocky, Adam, and Tanya? I think they'd take it best from you. I'll call Kim's mom and stepdad in Paris."
"You sure you want to do that, man?" Tommy asked sympathetically.
Jason sighed. "Yeah, I'm sure. Look, you just get here and you can call the others. I'll see you then, okay?"
"Okay, man. Bye." Rising, Tommy began to dress. He was just finishing with his hair when he turned and saw his mother standing in his doorway.
"Thomas Tyler Oliver, it is twelve midnight," she told him sleepily. "Just where did you plan on going at this hour?"
"Kim's been hurt, Mom," he told her, seeing her stiffen in surprise. "She's at the hospital emergency room. I'm headed down there now."
"Oh, dear. I hope she'll be all right," Sarah Oliver sighed. She had truly liked Kimberly, and had been extremely sorry to hear about the break-up.
"We all do, Mom," Tommy replied, kissing his mother on the cheek. "I'll see you in the morning. Don't wait up for me, I'll probably be out all night."
* * *
"How is she?" Adam asked immediately after arriving in the hospital waiting room. Jason sighed.
"Stable, for now. She's still in critical condition, and the doctors say she could go either way."
"How's Tommy?" pursued Tanya, her mouth in a thin line.
Jason chuckled humorlessly. "He's pacing, right outside her room. They won't let him go in yet, and I'm afraid he's going to kill somebody." Just then, the object of their conversation came in, a black scowl on his face.
"Somebody tried to kill her," he told them, rage boiling beneath his calm exterior. "The doctors say she had twenty stab wounds, and they're surprised she lived to make it to the emergency room."
"Well, Kim's always been a fighter," Rocky replied seriously. "What do you suppose did this to her?"
Adam frowned. "I was talking to Zordon. He says that the monster scanners detected no intrusions on Earth all night long. In other words, the odds are pretty good that Kim was not attacked by a what, but a who."
All six gasped at that. "You mean- a human being tried to kill her?" Kat managed, looking ill.
Tommy nodded, his face completely expressionless. "And when I find out who, that person is going to pay. In blood." His eyes were cold and in deadly earnest. None of the Rangers dared respond.
* * *
"Siek-hyuh!" Tommy's cries echoed through the youth center as his friends watched him beat up on a punching bag. He was merciless, pounding the heavy bag with all the strength he possessed.
"God, he's really going to kill this person, isn't he?" Tanya realized.
Jason nodded. "If he can get his hands on them. I don't think any of you ever saw him this way. I remember, when he was the Green Ranger, things were very simple. You crossed him, you died. Now, that was usually only monsters, but there was one time when these five new kids were causing trouble. Zack and Billy told me that he was quite literally grinning in anticipation of a fight, and a fight that would have been very brutal if it had ever come through. Kim was always the only one who could talk him down." The five watched in silence as Ernie crossed to where Tommy was practicing and handed him a note. Reading it, Tommy's eyes turned to ice, and he launched a vicious spin kick into the bag. Then he walked over to the table, dropping the note in front of his friends.
"Read this," he ordered. Jason picked it up and paled. As he passed it around the table, the rest of the Rangers had a similar reaction. The note read:
"Dear Tommy, ..........So sorry to hear about your current predicament. I know how special Kimberly was to you. Luckily, you have the lovely Katherine to comfort you in your time of loss- but don't count on her being around forever. I can hardly wait for us to meet and discuss this face to face. You'll be hearing from me again."
It was unsigned. Jason looked up at his friend, who wore an expression that could freeze oxygen.
"Somebody's playing games with me," Tommy said quietly. "I intend to find out who. Adam, anything yet?"
Adam shook his head. "Do you know how tough it is to get this information, Tommy? My dad is Homicide, not Violent Crimes. So far, all I've been able to unearth is that the wounds were made with a knife, a typical Earth knife. Also, whoever it was seemed to know how to handle the weapon, but it looks as if he or she wasn't expecting Kim to fight back."
"He or she?" Kat asked. "Do you really think it could have been a woman?"
Adam shrugged. "Women are just as capable of murder and violence as men, Kat. And there's nothing in the profile of Kimberly's assailant to suggest that it had to be a man. So yes, I think it could well have been a woman."
Tommy shrugged. "Man or woman, it doesn't matter. When I find the person who put Kim in the hospital, he or she is going down. And that goes for anyone- ANYONE- who gets in my way." His friends swallowed at the definite note of warning in his voice. They sat in silence as he rose and resumed his practicing.
* * *
Tommy sat by Kimberly's bed in the ICU in silence. She was still in a coma, as the doctors had expected. Tommy had been informed that it was unlikely she would come out of her coma any time in the next week. After that, the longer she stayed in the coma, the less likely it was that she would wake up without brain damage. She might never wake up at all. Tommy couldn't decide which was worse, Kimberly asleep forever, or Kim waking up, but having no spark of intelligence in her eyes.
"I promise you, beautiful, I'm going to find whoever did this to you, and I'm going to make them pay," he whispered. "No matter what Zordon says, no matter what happens to me afterwards. I learned a few tricks living in LA, and I can promise that they'll be screaming a lot longer and louder than you did."
"Excuse me," a voice said. Tommy turned to see a flower delivery man. "I have a bouquet here that's supposed to be delivered to the room of a Kimberly Hart. Is this the right room?"
"Yeah," Tommy replied, sitting up. "Do I need to sign for it or something?"
"Nah, that's not necessary." Tommy turned back to the bouquet. As the delivery man left, Tommy's eyes narrowed. The roses in the vase were of two different colors. Some were the normal bright red that people associated with roses. At first, Tommy had thought that the others were just a deeper, darker red, but now as he looked at them, he realized they were black. A cold chill crept up his spine as he reached for the card.
"Roses are red, roses are black. Give it up, Tommy. She's not coming back."
A low, feral growl came from Tommy's throat as he fought to keep from crumpling the card in his hand. "You think you're so smart," he whispered. "Well, let's just see how much you enjoy the game when I turn the tables on you."
* * *
"Anything?" Adam asked his father. Trevor Park shook his head.
"Nothing. The delivery guy, who by the way does not work for any of the florists in town, said that he was paid a large sum of money, deposited directly into his bank account, and he never saw his employer. The flowers and the van were parked out at Angel's Bluff for him, and the keys were in an envelope in his mailbox. Still no leads. How's Tommy taking this?"
"Badly. He's received a few more cards and the pattern that seems to be forming is scaring the hell out of all of us. Whoever's playing this sick little game is FLIRTING with him!"
"Dad, Tommy's only ex-girlfriend is in a coma at AGGH." Suddenly a flash of inspiration hit, and Adam's eyes narrowed. Leaping to his feet, he grabbed his jacket off of the coat rack in the hall. "I'll be back soon, Dad. I've got to go talk to the guys." With that, he raced out the door, leaving his astonished father behind.
* * *
"No. Adam, that's crazy!" Tanya cried. "She'd never do something like that."
"I don't want to believe it either, but she's got the training to give Kim a good fight. And you know she's always wanted Tommy for herself. With Kim out of the picture, she wouldn't have anything to compete with."
"We just can't accuse her, Adam," Jason told him. "We have no proof, and I'd feel really bad pointing the finger at Kat just because she once, under a spell, attacked Kimberly."
"I agree. No accusations. I'm not sure I believe she's guilty myself. It's just that I think we have to keep an eye on her, okay? Because she is a suspect, even though I hate it. I don't want to think of her as a suspect, but I just can't help myself."
Rocky sighed. "He's right. But remember, she's innocent until proven guilty. Now everybody shut up, cause here she comes."
"Hi guys," Kat greeted them, sitting down at the table. "What's up?"
Adam shrugged. "Not much. We're all worried about Tommy, of course. He's walking very close to the edge right now."
"Mmm," Kat nodded. "Yes, I can see that. It's a little frightening."
"And Dad's posted a 24 hour guard in Kim's room to keep her from being attacked again."
"Well, that's good," Kat sighed. Tommy walked over to the table.
"Hey guys," he said quietly.
"Hey, Tommy," Tanya said, rising. "You ready?"
"Where are you going?" Rocky asked.
Tommy smiled slightly. "Tanya and I are going up to Angel's Bluff to work out. Hopefully, it'll take my mind off of all of this."
Jason nodded. "Okay, we'll see you guys later." The two of them walked out of the youth center together.
* * *
"So how did your workout with Tommy go?" Adam asked. He and Tanya were walking through downtown Angel Grove, window-shopping."
"Pretty well. It gave him something to focus on besides the current situation." Tanya shook her head. "This is really scary, worse than anything that's ever happened to us. I mean, I've gotten used to the idea that Rita, Zedd, and the Machine Empire all want us dead, but realizing that we can be targets for ordinary humans is another. And the know that you guys all suspect Kat is the scariest thing of all."
"You know, after you two left, she rushed out of there in a real hurry," Adam mused. "I wonder what the problem was."
Tanya shrugged. "Oh, Adam, look at that dress!" she cried, turning to the window beside her. Adam did the same, and instantly saw reflected therein that a car was pulling to a stop behind them. That was odd enough, on a busy Angel Grove street, but he also noticed that the window was rolling down. Adam's sixth sense, the one that made his father such a good cop, suddenly kicked in. Grabbing Tanya, he pushed her to the ground just as six bullets shattered the store window that they had stood in front of. The window of the car rolled up, and quickly drove off. As it did so, Adam noticed that the license plate had been blacked out with mud.
"You okay?" Adam asked his girlfriend, helping her to her feet. She nodded, still holding onto him.
"Yeah, I think so. What was that all about?"
His expression became grim. "I think I have a pretty good idea. Looks like somebody's a little jealous."
* * *
Tommy was pacing in his living room, slowly boiling under his cool exterior. Adam had told him about the attack on Tanya, and neither of them had any doubts that it had been triggered by their workout session. Tommy's stalker was apparently very possessive, and quite willing to kill to get what she wanted. The two boys had agreed that whoever was stalking him was no doubt female, because she didn't seem to see his male friends as a threat. Now, Tommy was dividing his time between trying to find her, and imagining her throat in his hands.
Suddenly his phone rang, startling him out of his dark thoughts. He picked it up gingerly. It had only been bad news recently, and he wasn't too ready to hear any more.
"Hello? Oliver residence, Tommy speaking."
A low, breathy chuckle. "Hello, Tommy. So sorry to hear about your friend Tanya's close call. Maybe that'll teach her not to steal another woman's man."
Tommy's face darkened. "What do you want, bitch?" he snarled. "I'm tired of playing games with you."
"Oh, Tommy. The game is half the fun. And I've got a new one for you. Guess which one of your friends is going to have an accident? You can't check them all."
"Leave my friends out of this. It's me you want!"
"Yes, but I have to teach you first. You have to learn what happens if you cross me. I'll see you later, lover." With that, the line went dead.
"Shit." That one word managed to sum up all of Tommy's feelings. Frantically, he pushed the button on his communicator. "Zordon, check the rest of the guys. I just got a call from Madame Psychopath, and she said she's planned an "accident" for one of them."
There was a slight pause, then Zordon replied, "The other Rangers seem to be fine, and I cannot detect problems with your family, or any of your non-Ranger friends. Perhaps she is simply trying to rattle you."
"If so, she's doing a good job," Tommy muttered. "Keep an eye on them anyway, all right? Tommy out." With a sigh, Tommy resumed pacing.
* * *
"See you later, Miss Appleby!" Adam raced out of the library. He'd spent the afternoon helping the teachers shelve books in the library, and now he was headed to the youth center for some much needed relaxation. He needed something to take his mind off of Tommy's stalker and her current threat.
"I wonder what kind of "accident" she has planned," Adam mused. "And for who? Tommy's been very careful to avoid women lately, and I don't think even this lady would be sick enough to see Chelsea as a threat." Hopping into his green Taurus, he started the car and headed off towards the youth center.
He was approaching Eighth and Main, the busiest intersection in Angel Grove, when he tried to slow down- and found out that his brakes were gone. He stomped on the pedal a few more times, and found that there was absolutely nothing left. To make matters worse, he was going downhill and accelerating steadily.
Luckily, Adam had wanted to be a stunt man almost all his life. As soon as he'd received his driver's license, he had started taking courses in stunt driving and defensive driving. Now, as he approached the crowded intersection, leaning on the horn all the way, he sent up a silent prayer, hoping he'd learned enough.
Adam's car shot through the intersection like a bullet, slipping right between two oncoming cars. Even a second slower, and there would have been an extremely nasty accident. Behind him, Adam could hear the horns and curses of the motorists, but he could spare them no attention. He had to slow the car, and slow it now.
"Damn it!" he growled. "I just gave this thing a tune-up." However, he reached for the gearshift and downshifted, hard. He went from third gear to first in a matter of seconds, giving thanks as he did so for the custom manual transmission he had ordered. He winced at the sound of gears stripping in the engine, but the car began to slow, and Adam managed to guide it to a rather abrupt stop in the bushes in front of the youth center.
He sat for a moment, gathering himself, and then popped the hood and got out of the car, knowing as he did so what he would find. Sure enough, his brake line had been neatly cut, as if by a pair of scissors. "So that's what she meant by an accident," he breathed. Slamming the hood down, he walked through the growing crowd of onlookers, into the youth center. He had to call his father, his insurance company- and tell the other Rangers.
As he walked into the youth center, his friends looked up. Adam couldn't help but notice that Kat looked especially surprised to see him. "Adam!" she cried. "You look awful! What happened?"
"Psycho-woman strikes again," he grumbled. "I have to go call my dad, then I'll tell you all about it."
A few minutes later, Adam returned to the table, sinking into a chair gratefully. "Okay, man," Rocky told him. "Time to spill the beans. What happened?"
"She totaled my car," Adam growled, startling his friends with the anger in my voice. "Cut the brakes! She was good, too. She cut the line almost through, so that it would just leak, and I wouldn't notice the brakes failing until it was too late. She didn't figure on me being a stunt driver, though."
Tommy raised an eyebrow. "Kat? What's that on your hands?" he asked, taking her hand in his. There were brownish-black specks all over her hand, as if she had been spattered with something.
"Oh, this? My dad was fixing his car. I was helping him, and I guess I must have gotten this stuff on me. God knows what it is. I guess I'll go wash it off." Rising, Kat headed for the bathrooms. The others watched until she was out of sight, then Adam looked at his friends.
"Guys, I hate to say it, but that stuff was the right color to be brake fluid. My car was in the school parking lot most of the day. Almost anybody could have done that."
"Right," Jason replied. "Almost anyone. Not necessarily Kat."
"I'm not saying she did," Adam defended himself. "But I'm a cop's kid, and all the evidence is beginning to point to her. Circumstantial, yeah, and nothing that would stand up in court. But she's got means, motive, and opportunity, and I have to suspect her."
Everyone looked at Tommy, who instead of his usual cold expression, looked thoughtful. "She might be the one, and we should at least be wary," he decided. "I'm not ready to pronounce her guilty, but if she is." He let the sentence trail off, having no real need to finish. The Rangers swallowed, and Jason looked at his friend in deep concern. Tommy hadn't been like this since his days as the Green Ranger, and Jason was beginning to be afraid, both for and of his friend.
* * *
Tommy cursed violently as the phone rang. Ever since his phone call from his "secret admirer," and the incident with Adam's car that followed, there had been a police tap on his phone. Detective Park had insisted. Tommy couldn't blame the man, but sometimes knowing that there was a policeman listening in on his calls, at least at first, could be somewhat awkward.
Tommy picked up the phone, both hoping and fearing to hear from his stalker again. Hoping that something she said or did would allow them to track her down, and fearing what she might have to say. So far, he and his friends had been lucky, but she was very good. Sooner or later, their luck would run out.
"Hiya, lover." That low, breathy voice again. This time, Tommy found himself straining to tell if the voice was Kat's, but he could not. As low and soft as the voice was, he couldn't determine whether there was an Australian accent or not.
"What do you want?" he asked, his heart beginning to pound. With one hand, he signaled to the policeman at his dining room table, who had already begun the trace.
"I want you, Tommy. That's all I ever want."
"Well, you can have me," he told her. "I give up. Just lay off my friends and tell me where I can meet you."
She laughed, and it was not a pleasant sound. "Get real, Tommy. I'm not stupid. Oh, and you can tell those cops not to bother with the trace. I'm at a phone booth on the outskirts of town."
Tommy threw a look back at the young policeman, who was silently cursing up a storm. He looked at Tommy and nodded. Tommy curled his lip and turned his attention back to the phone. "All right, so we can't trace you. You're way too smart for me, I admit it. Why won't you accept my surrender?"
"Because I'm not done with you yet, lover," she told him. "I still have a few more games to play. Before this is over, you're going to realize exactly what you've been missing all these years." He heard a click, and the line went dead.
"Shit!" Tommy slammed down the handset. "I am getting so damn tired of this!"
One of the older cops put his hand on Tommy's shoulder. "We'll get her. She's bound to make a mistake sooner or later."
Tommy snorted. "Yeah, but later might be too late," he muttered, unable to get her words out of his head. "A few more games," he whispered. "What the hell is she gonna do?"
* * *
Jason Scott sighed. Normally, he had no fear of walking alone in Angel Grove, even at night. Oh, sure, not downtown, but in the suburbs, there were few things that could give him a real fight. Now, however, he was wary of the darkness. They all had been, ever since Kim's attack. Unfortunately, he had gotten stuck closing up the youth center for Ernie, and there had been no one to give him a ride home.
"Zordon's watching out for you, and you are a fourth degree black belt in karate," he told himself. "Keep alert, and she's not going to catch you by surprise." Even as he said this, he heard a noise behind him. He wanted to whirl around, but controlled his impulse. She was no doubt counting on that, not seeming to be the type to underestimate her enemy. _Relax,_ he thought, _look as if you didn't hear her, and let her get closer. Closer._
Jason suddenly turned to see a pale, slender female figure behind him, clad entirely in black. Something metal gleamed in her hand, and as she darted it towards him, he could see it was a switchblade. Smoothly, instinctively, Jason dodged, and the blade narrowly missed his side. However, he was not quite able to avoid her when she brought the knife up and across his chest. He felt a lick of fire shoot through him as the blade cut through his shirt and skin, but ignored it, taking the opportunity to kick the knife out of her hand. Disarmed, she suddenly fell back, melting into the darkness as quickly as she had appeared. Suddenly Jason's chest began to hurt in earnest, and he realized that she had tagged him deeper than he had at first thought. Already dizzy from the blood he had lost, Jason staggered towards the nearest house.
Tommy's head snapped up at the knock on his door. Looking out through the peephole, he saw Jason outside, holding his chest and leaning against the posts of the porch railing at a crazy angle. Instantly, Tommy opened the door, catching his friend as Jason almost fell into the room. "Come on, Jase," he puffed, helping the larger boy to a chair. "Sit down before you fall down. Now, let me see your chest."
"It's all right," Jason muttered, pushing him away weakly. "It's already starting to heal."
"Uh huh," Tommy responded. "Let me look at it."
Jason grimaced. Tommy was using his "leader voice," a tone that the other boy had learned from Jason himself. There was no arguing with it, and Jason found himself obeying almost unconsciously. "It's fine, really," he protested.
"Jason, there is an inch-deep gash in your chest. Ranger healing or not, you are losing blood WAY too quickly. You stay there, and I'll get you something to bandage the wound with."
A few minutes later, Tommy was finishing taping an expertly constructed dressing to the wound on Jason's chest. Then he wound an ace bandage around it and handed Jason his shirt back. "I'm going to call the police. I don't think you'll need to be hospitalized, but they'll want to have a doctor look at it. I don't think you'll have healed enough by then for anyone to get suspicious." Tommy rose and headed for the phone. Jason, who was floating in the daze that generally accompanies blood loss, listened to him talk for a while, then perked up as Tommy came back and sat next to him.
"So, where did you learn to make a bandage like this?" Jason asked. "I don't remember you ever saying anything about first aid training."
Tommy chuckled, but there was little humor in the sound. "Jason, I didn't exactly grow up in suburban Angel Grove. I spent a lot of time in LA getting in and out of fights, and I patched up more than a few knife wounds in my time. Had a few of them myself." A cold, closed-off look came into Tommy's face. "I used to be pretty good with a knife," he said, almost to himself. "Haven't practiced in a few years, ever since the Dragon Dagger. Too many memories." Tommy smiled, and it was an expression Jason had hoped never to see on his friend's face again. It was hideously reminiscent of the smile he had worn as the evil Green Ranger.
"When I find that girl, though, I'm sure it'll all come back. I'll enjoy remembering, too. I'm sure of that."
Jason swallowed. "I saw her," he said, trying to shift Tommy back to the present. The other was scaring him. Jason couldn't stop expecting Tommy's eyes to glow an uncanny green.
"What? Did you recognize her?" Tommy asked, snapping back to himself. Jason shook his head.
"No, it was too dark, and she moved too fast. All I know is she was tall, almost as tall as me, and very pale." Jason stopped. "Wait a minute. When I kicked the knife out of her hand, her hat came off. She was a blonde." Jason looked at Tommy, pain in his eyes. "It could have been Kat," he admitted softly.
Tommy closed his eyes. "But you can't say for sure."
"No," Jason shook his head. "I can't."
"Then she's still innocent until proven guilty," Tommy said simply. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. "That must be the police," Tommy sighed, rising to his feet. "We'll continue this conversation later."0
* * *
A few days later, Tommy was relaxing on his couch when the phone rang. "Hello?" he growled, knowing who it would be.
"Tommy, it's Adam," came the reply. "I'm over at Kat's." Tommy could hear the other boy swallow hard.
"What happened?" Tommy asked, his heart sinking.
"I guess we shouldn't have been so quick to accuse her," Adam replied softly. "Tommy, you need to get over here. Just tell the cops that you're with Detective Park and they'll let you in. You need to get over here, now."
Slamming down the phone, Tommy headed for his car. On the way over to Kat's he broke a number of speed laws. "If she's hurt, I'll never forgive myself," he said quietly. "It's all my fault."
Pulling into the Hilliards' driveway, he blew past the policemen at the door with the excuse Adam had given him. Once there, he realized that all the action was in the living room, and as he got in there, he realized why. The room had been completely destroyed, as if an extremely vicious fight had taken place. Lamps were overturned, knickknacks were scattered everywhere, and there was a large spot of blood in the middle of the white carpet. Worst of all, there was a cat nailed to one of the walls, and under it were written the words "Here, Kitty, Kitty." Tommy crossed over to where Adam was standing, well out of the way of the investigation.
"Is she-" he couldn't finish. Adam just shrugged.
"We didn't find a body, and the blood on the floor looks as if it came from the cat, so it's possible that she's alive."
"And if she is, that psycho has her," Tommy growled. "We have to find her, soon. Is Zordon scanning?"
Adam nodded. "Yeah, but he can't find her. He says that there are certain areas of the city that are naturally shielded from his sensors, and she could be in any one of those."
"Then the only thing to do is go home and hope that my "admirer" gives me a call," Tommy sighed. "She'll want to gloat, of course, and she had some purpose in taking Kat alive. She'll keep her alive a little longer, until her purpose is served."
"You want me to come with you?" Adam asked. Tommy shook his head.
"No, I'll be alone. She's more likely to call if I'm alone. Luckily, they took the tap off of my phone after they realized she knew about it. There won't be anyone there but me. Listen for your communicator, though. I might need backup." Tommy left Kat's house, and Adam watched him go, worried.
* * *
"Come on, you psychotic bitch," Tommy whispered. "Call me. I want to play." As if in response to his words, the phone rang. "Hello?"
"Hey, Tommy-boy," she chuckled. "How are you doing? How's your big friend?"
"Jason will be fine, no thanks to you," he said tightly. "Where's Kat?"
"Oh, your pretty Kitty? Here you go." There was a silence, and then Kat's voice came on the line.
"Tommy?" she whimpered. "I'm so sorry."
"It's okay, Kat. Are you all right?"
"For now," she told him, obviously holding back tears. "Tommy, I'm supposed to be bait. Don't bite! Tell her to-" Kat was cut off in mid-sentence, and the other voice came back.
"I think that's enough for you two lovebirds right now. I've got one more game to play, Tommy, and I think you'll like this one. It's called "Hide and Seek." I've got your Kitty, and you have to find me."
"Just tell me where," he growled.
"Not quite that easy. I have a riddle for you. You can find me where the light cuts through the darkness, and the sound of the sea is drowned. Come alone, Tommy. I look forward to seeing you." The phone went dead, leaving Tommy to ponder her meaning.
"'Where the light cuts through the darkness, and the sound of the sea is drowned.' Of course! It figures." Grabbing his coat, Tommy headed for his car.
* * *
Pulling up outside Angel Grove Lighthouse, Tommy watched for a second as the revolving beam of light cut through the fog that always rolled in during the evenings. "'Where the light cuts through the darkness, and the sound of the sea is drowned,'" he repeated, listening as the foghorn blared, drowning out even the sound of the crashing waves. He pulled his coat a little closer and shivered, not completely from the chill. The harbor district of Angel Grove was quite probably the town's worst area. Crime ran rampant, and the neighborhoods there led the city's murder count by a sizable margin. Tommy'd grown up in a place like this, but he wasn't completely comfortable there alone at night.
Suddenly the ringing of a telephone caught his attention, and he looked around in surprise. He soon realized that it was coming from the lone pay phone over at the corner of the street. Gingerly, Tommy made his way over to the phone and picked it up. "Hello?"
"Hello, lover. Glad to see you figured out my riddle. Are you alone?"
"Yeah, I'm alone. I'm positive, and I know how to spot a tail," he replied coldly.
"Good. Now, there's a warehouse three blocks from here. The old Angel Salmon Cannery. You know where that is?" He assented, and she continued. "Meet me there, and come alone. I'll have your pretty Kitty there waiting for you."
Looking around himself to be sure no one was watching him, Tommy took off for the warehouse.
* * *
"All right, I'm here!" Tommy cried, walking into the warehouse. He wasn't all that surprised when the door slammed shut behind him. "I'm here, like you asked. Now let Kat go."
"Not quite yet." The lights in the darkened warehouse flicked on, and Tommy turned in the direction of the voice. Standing in the corner was Kat, and holding a knife to her throat was another young woman that Tommy did not recognize. He couldn't help but notice, however, that she bore a rather good resemblance to Kat. She was tall, blonde, and had very pale skin.
"All right, now what?" he sighed.
"Take off your jacket. Slowly," she ordered. Tommy did as she asked, removing the coat with exaggerated care and laying it on the ground. Kat frowned, hearing a slight clinking sound as it hit the pavement.
"Happy?" he asked.
"Turn around." He did so, showing that there were no concealed weapons on him anywhere.
"Would you like me to do the Hokey Pokey now?" he asked sarcastically.
She chuckled. "Not at all. Kneel."
"Kneel." Tommy got to his knees, and watched as Kat and her captor moved around behind him. "Hands behind your back," she ordered. He sighed, and did as he was told. "All right, Kitty, tie his hands up. That's good. Make sure to make them tight." Tommy felt his wrists bound with a length of cord, then his ankles were given the same treatment, effectively trapping him on his knees.
"All right, you've got me. I'm helpless. Now please, let Kat go!"
The two women moved back into his field of view. "Well, Tommy, if it really means that much to you," she chuckled. She released Kat, but almost immediately caught her a blow across the temple with the handle of the knife she held. Kat fell to the ground unconscious, beside Tommy's coat. Then the woman turned her attention back to Tommy.
"Mmm. You don't know how long I've waited for something like this," she chuckled. "Ever since that first day I saw you at Angel Grove. But of course, I never had a chance, not with Kimberly around. Well, now she's out of the picture, and you're all mine." She ran her fingers through his hair, and laughed as he tried to jerk away.
"I don't even know who you are!" he cried.
"My name is Sandra," she told him. "Don't worry, you won't forget it."
"I'll have to remember. I'll be the one telling them what to put on your tombstone."
Sandra just laughed. "I wouldn't be so cocky, if I were you, Tommy. You're completely at my mercy. But I won't hurt you. You're mine, like you were always meant to be. You know that, don't you?"
"I know that you are completely insane," he spat. She looked hurt for a moment, then smiled.
"Perhaps I am," she acknowledged. "But I'm the one with the knife." To emphasize that point, she caressed his throat with the blade. "I'm very good with a knife," she told him. "I can do things with one that you wouldn't have thought possible. And when your little pink friend wakes up, I'm going to show you. I'd start now, but it's much more fun when they know what you're planning."
"Please," he begged. "Let Kat go. She's just my friend, nothing more. You've already taken the woman I love from me. Kat's just a friend. Why hurt her?"
"She may be just a friend to you, but I'm sure she has a different view of the situation. They all want you, I know that. Why wouldn't they? But you're mine, all mine, and none of them are going to steal you away from me. The one who tries, well, she has to be punished."
"Drop the knife," a familiar voice said. "Or I swear to God, I'll blow your head off." Kat emphasized her point by cocking Tommy's .45.
* * *
Sandra's blow had been brutal, but slightly off target. Instead of catching Kat across the temple, it had struck her on the side of the skull, an area which was much stronger and more resistant to concussion. As a result, Kat had awakened much earlier than either Sandra or Tommy had expected. Remembering the clink that Tommy's jacket had made when he set it down, and the exaggerated care with which he had removed it, Kat had instantly realized that Tommy's .45, which he had once told her about, was concealed therein.
Now the two girls were at standoff. Sandra stood behind Tommy, using him as a shield. Even on his knees, the tall boy's head reached to the middle of her throat. Her knife rested lightly at his neck, in the perfect position to slice. Kat meanwhile had Tommy's gun pointed at Sandra's head, but could not shoot because of the knife at Tommy's throat.
"Let him go," Kat ordered. "I'll shoot you, and don't think I won't."
Sandra chuckled. "You won't shoot. Not with your precious Tommy in the way. Besides, you wouldn't shoot me anyway. We're too much alike. We're both second-best in his eyes, and always will be. Second to a double-jointed slut whose only talents are walking the balance beam and winding up in the back seat of a car!" Kat saw Tommy stiffen at that, but did not respond. "You and I, we're the same, Kat. And now, we have the chance to finally get back at them both! You can help me get rid of Kimberly, and we'll finally have our revenge."
Tommy watched in horror as Kat lowered the gun slightly. "Kimberly has everything I ever wanted," Kat said, almost to herself. "All of the friends, the reputation of being the prettiest, the brightest, the best at everything. She even has Tommy, who I never had a chance at." The gun snapped back up, and Kat's eyes blazed. "But she's my friend, and I won't let you hurt her or him!"
"So be it," Sandra hissed. "If I can have him, no one will!" Tommy closed his eyes, expecting to feel the kiss of sharp steel on his throat. Instead, he heard a gunshot, and felt the grip on his neck ease. He opened his eyes in time to feel Sandra fall to the ground behind him, and see smoke coming from the gun in Kat's hands.
She rushed to untie him, and had to help him to his feet, as he was suddenly to wobbly to stand. She was startled when he swept her into a tight hug, but quickly put her arms around him and hugged back.
"I'm so sorry," he groaned into her shoulder. "It was all my fault you got into this."
She pushed him away gently. "No, Tommy, it wasn't. She was insane. You didn't do anything to attract her attention to either of us."
He sighed, but nodded, accepting her words. He cocked his head at her. "Where did you learn to shoot like that?"
She chuckled. "My father taught me, back when we lived in Australia. He's a dead-on shot, and he taught me to be a pretty good marksman, as well."
"Well, I'm just glad of that, or I'd have a very large hole in my throat right now. Come on, let's go. We have to call the police. And Kat? There's something I need to apologize for." As he talked, they walked out of the warehouse, Kat still supporting Tommy. They never looked back at the girl on the floor.
* * *
"Hey, Beautiful," Tommy whispered. By general consensus, the rest of the Rangers had let him have the first visit with Kimberly. The nurses were throwing the occupants of the room out every fifteen minutes, but no one thought that Tommy should have to wait to see her.
After a debriefing at the police station, and a chewing out for putting himself in danger, Tommy had insisted on going to the hospital to sit watch by Kimberly's bed, as he had been doing ever since the attack. Kat had gone with him, and the rest of the team had met them there. Now Kat was finishing up the story of what had happened for the others.
"And I shot her. You know, I don't feel all that guilty about it. I mean, yes, I killed her, but I can't really think of anything else I could have done. I don't feel good about it, but I'm not all that guilty."
Adam sighed. "Well, Kat, I guess I owe you an apology myself. I'm sorry for suspecting you."
"We all are," Jason told her, sincerely. Kat shrugged.
"Tommy told me about that. It's understandable, I guess. All the evidence did point to me, and I certainly had a motive. It's just that I love Tommy, and more than anything else, I want him to be happy. That's all."
"Well, we're just glad it's all over," Tanya sighed. The others agreed, except for Rocky, who looked pensive.
"Is it?" he asked, jerking his head at Kim's room. "Looks to me like the last part of the game is still being played out."
* * *
Tommy held Kimberly's hand, thinking of everything that they had been through together, and everything that he felt for her. "I love you, Kimberly Hart," he whispered. "I love you enough to let you go, to let you be happy with whomever you find, but- I can't help wishing that that person was me. Oh, Kim. This is all my fault. Ever since I came into your life, you've had more trouble than you should have, more trouble than even being a Ranger would have brought. Maybe it's better for everyone that you find someone else."
Suddenly, Kimberly's eyelids began to flutter, and her eyes opened. Tommy held his breath. The doctors had warned him that even if Kimberly woke from her coma, she might be afflicted with permanent, severe brain damage. He had refused to believe it, but the thought had haunted him all the same.
"Tommy?" she asked, trying to sit up. "Where am I?"
"Whoa, whoa, Kim, lay back down," he ordered softly, pushing her back to the mattress. "You're in the hospital. You got cut up pretty badly."
She winced. "I remember, kind of. I was on my way to Jason's when somebody jumped me, right?"
"Yeah," he nodded, "but it's all over now." He rose to go tell her parents and the rest of the team that she was awake, but her voice stopped him.
"Tommy?" He turned back to look at her. "I love you. I'm sorry I hurt you."
Instantly, he was by her side, hugging her as tightly as her healing wounds would allow. "I love you, too, Kim. I always have. But what about your boyfriend?"
She looked embarrassed. "I made him up."
"I thought- long distance relationships never work, and I knew that if I said I'd found someone else, you'd believe me and you'd let me go. I thought I was doing the right thing." She was crying now, and he gently wiped her tears away.
"Oh, Kimberly. I'd do anything for you, and I could never let you go, not inside. I'd let you be happy, but I'll always love you. Please, don't leave me again. Losing you once broke my heart, and nearly losing you a second time almost killed me. I'm not sure I could survive number three."
"I won't. I won't ever leave." They hugged once more, and then he stood up.
"I'm going to go tell everyone you're awake, and we're going to storm past the nurses, if necessary. You wait right here, okay?" Without waiting for an answer, he left.
"Yeah, right," she muttered, looking at the IV's patched into her in various places. "Where am I going to go?" Her grumbles were forgotten, however, as her friends and parents came bursting into the room.
Kat, watching the activity, just smiled. She truly was happy for Tommy and Kim, but she couldn't quite get Sandra's words out of her mind. Were they really that alike? She shook her head. She knew when she'd lost, and was willing to accept it. That, after all, was also a part of the game.