Summary:When it's over, what will happen?
Rating/Disclaimer/Distribution: See previous chapters.
Author's Notes/Thanks: I've had so many problems with this one... needed a lot of advice, which I don't think I took but never mind. It didn't help that real life began to interfere heavily... anyway. Here goes.
*Sitka Bau, NM*
The final day..... or at least, that was what he was trying to tell himself.
Even though deep down in his heart, Adam couldn't see the FBI letting them go.
What would it be like, working to eradicate evil once more, following orders from humans this time, partially living the same life that had dominated his high school years?
Four days ago, he'd been living his half-normal life. Possible to believe that his past was behind him, because that was what he'd thought. The call asking him to help his friends had come like a jolt out of the blue.
He glanced at the clock, 6:36am. Yet another early awakening, but this time he didn't think it had been provoked. No-one else seemed to be stirring in the dormitory which was full again, even though he hadn't heard Tommy return in the night. Now his friend was dead to the world.
It was hardly surprising that no-one else was awake, considering what had been going on in the past few days. They'd been put through the wringer once again, both physically and emotionally. Adam tried to get back to sleep, but he knew no more sleep would come. So he lay staring at the ceiling, unable to stop the thoughts of what would happen later that day from whirling around his head.
There were, as far as he could tell, only two options available to him. To the entire group of friends.
The one which he dreaded was the one where they were told that they would not be permitted to leave. Adam wondered whether they could break out of the place and force an escape, but retracted the thought almost as soon as it came to life. The colony was too highly guarded, there were security guards and password protected doors everywhere you looked. And from being outside in the airfield, he knew the colony was based in the middle of nowhere.
The other option would be their release. Back to college, forgetting that they had ever been recalled to action. If that was possible... Adam fervently hoped that it was. He just wondered whether the FBI agents had done a good job in concealing their absence in the outside world, despite their assurances that everything had been done.
Adam reflected, closing his eyes and turning over. The atmosphere that had been there when they arrived had dissipated upon the success of all three groups.
Adam shook his head, as though trying to shake the unwanted ideas away from his brain. he thought to himself, completely amazed by his sudden turnaround.
To stop his thoughts of how lovely it would be to be an FBI agent, Adam consoled himself with calmer thoughts, such as redecorating the apartment he and Tanya shared.
He had every intention of seeing it again.
"Remind me again what it feels like to be human," Tanya moaned as the girls started to get ready for the day.
"Remind me again how it feels to be fully conscious," Kat slurred as she stared at her shoes, wondering how she was going to summon up the energy to put the corresponding shoe in the right foot. She glanced at Kim, who seemed to be fully awake and her normal enthusiastic self. "Kim, why are you so awake when I feel as though I've just been run over by a bus?"
"Two years of being rudely awakened by sadistic gymnastic coaches at 5 in the morning," she divulged. "After that, you get used to seeing the sunrise."
"Come on, Kat," Aisha laughed, crossing the room to take the shoes from her and put them on her feet. "You want to be alert when we go to face the mean people in business suits, don't you?"
"Not particularly," she grumbled, but allowed Aisha to put her shoes on for her.
"Maybe the gorgeous food they've been supplying us with can rejuvenate your energy," Trini suggested, quickly brushing her hair. "Please note sarcasm."
"I hate to say it, but their food is making me miss Adam's attempts at cooking," Tanya laughed.
"It must be bad then," Kat said in a serious voice. She then broke into a smile, and walked toward the door. "Let's go."
The five girls walked into the dining room fully expecting to see their male counterparts already enjoying their third course of breakfast. To their surprise, they were the first of their group to enter.
"This is a first," Aisha commented, as she surveyed the array of food that had yet to be touched. "I don't think I've ever had my first choice of food if Rocky's been in the building."
"Don't even mention any kind of routine that we have developed or have yet to develop here," Tanya pleaded with her friend. "It might bring across the completely false impression that some of us are happy here."
"So I'm guessing you and Adam will be the first out of the door then," Kat asked.
"I'm getting a permanent case of claustrophobia," she replied. "If I stay here any longer I know I'll go insane, no matter how much good we could be doing. I don't approve of their methods."
"None of us actually would have chosen to come here," Trini reminded Tanya, though not as gently as she would have liked to. "We didn't have any choice in getting you involved, and I'm sorry you feel that way, but can we please drop it?"
Eyebrows were raised and glances exchanged. This uncharacteristic outburst by Trini only served to persuade everyone that despite appearances no-one was completely calm, or even as calm as they were claiming to be.
How could they be? This day was presumably going to be the one where they would hear of their fate. Whether they would be allowed to return to their normal lives or not. And even though it would probably be better for them, none of them were in the mood for a discussion that would only depress them even further.
Kim slumped down on a seat next to Trini, and started to peel a banana without not really noticing what she was doing. Her bruised eye had now completely swollen over, giving her the appearance of a pirate at sea. It had also given her the bonus of a headache, which meant all she wanted was peace and quiet. And if that meant Trini yelling at them all to be quiet, then so be it.
An uncomfortable silence settled over the table like fog after this, although the ideas of the next few hours might bring prevented them from keeping their minds off what they'd been forbidden to speak.
If they were _made_ to stay in Sitka Bau, then it equated to detainment without permission. An escape sounded easy on paper, but they were literally in the middle of nowhere. With no idea where they were, or where to go.
It might be more than some could take.
The tense silence was thankfully broken by the entrance of the guys, who marched with precision towards the food array, took the food they desired without speaking, and then took their places at the table with the girls.
It would have been funny if the mood hadn't been so sombre.
Jason noticed Kim's eye, and did a comical double-take. "That's one hell of a shiner you've got there Kim. Still, I suppose it's all for a good cause, and shouldn't leave too much bruising."
Kim gave the fakest smile she could muster to her favourite 'big brother', then looked at the banana skin on the table and muttered something that only Tommy and Trini on each side of her could hear.
A look further down the table showed Jason and Zack starting a heated debate over whether the food had originally been freeze-dried, and Aisha looking at her grapefruit half in some dismay. Billy was adding scientifical contributions, and everyone else was merely looking on and laughing in a way which they had not since before they had been called to New Mexico.
"I'm telling you, I found ice crystals in my cereal!" Zack insisted, passing his bowl down for Jason and Billy to inspect. "If that doesn't prove that this food's about thirty years old, then what does?"
Jason and Billy exchanged glances. "Um, do you want to tell him, or shall I?" Billy asked delicately, barely supressing laughter.
"I think it would sound better coming from you," Jason said in the same tone of hysteria.
Billy cleared his throat and looked at Zack very seriously. "I hate to break it to you Zack, but it's sugar. Not ice?"
Zack leaned down the table to take his bowl back and examine it again. He looked up at his friends, all of whom were surveying him with amusement. "Hey, any one of you could have made the same mistake," he proclaimed, and everyone was free to eat their food knowing it had not been kept in storage for thirty years.
During an unexpected lull in the conversation, Trini thought of something that could make up for her earlier outburst. It was obvious that all of them felt better after eating food and making sure that everyone else was okay after yesterday's mission.
"I know we haven't exactly been enthusiastic about this," she began quietly, and everyone turned to hear what she had to say. "You have to admit, though, that good things have come out of us being called here. Apart from the whole ridding the world of evil again thing."
"Share with us," Rocky requested.
"I think I know," Jason said, casting a glance at one of his oldest friends. "Do you mind if I go?"
Trini shook her head. "Be my guest."
Jason smiled. "Thanks. I don't know if anyone else has noticed it or not, but this has been the first time that all eleven of us have been together, serving on the same team." A few nods from around the table proved him right. "And it was the first time that some of us had seen each other for periods of time, although obviously some found it easier than others to pick up where they left off." He looked pointedly at Tommy and Kim, who had the grace to blush.
"And at the beginning of this, not meant in any disrespect, but there was a division between those who were on the original team and those who weren't," Rocky pointed out.
"It was never intended," Billy said, somewhat put out by the suggestion.
"It wasn't blatently obvious, but it was there, and it wasn't your fault," Aisha told him. "You were the ones they called on to recruit all of us, there was bound to be a tiny bit of division, and that's all it was, a tiny bit."
"Was that what you meant?" Kim asked, turning to face Trini, whose original comment had been twisted and turned somewhat. However, she nodded in agreement.
"Yeah, that's pretty much it. We've become better friends, although that's what saving the world tends to do to you."
The discussion did much to alleviate the uncertain tension around the table, and general chatter didn't need much encouragement afterwards. Although the consented subject was what lay in store for them, it was in a light hearted mood.
"They're going to sell us to a circus and we'll all be trapeze artists," Kat suggested.
"Unpaid labour?" was Zack's contribution. "Although, strictly speaking we're that already."
"They're obviously going to kill us and sell our bodies for medical research," Tommy decided.
The light hearted suggestions were quickly to come to a close. Agent Cresswell sailed in to spoil their breakfasting party. Despite their breakfasts being nowhere near finished, she said in a calm and commanding voice, "Leave your breakfasts where they are and come with me please."
There was no arguing with Emma Cresswell, even when she wasn't in such a bad mood. And silence once more took its unwelcome presence over the group as they followed her out of the dining room and to god knows where.
They'd given up hope of memorising the corridor patterns.
They hoped they would never have to know them.
She would have laughed if it wouldn't have torn her imposing reputation to shreds.
As they took their seats around the table that dominated the large room, expressions ranged from defensive to apprehensive, with a little bit of fear thrown in.
She had shepherded them into the room where their assigned agents, Wiltord, Evans, Perry, Williams and Robison were waiting for them.
And now it was time for her to tell all she had to give.
She stood up, and walked around to the head of the table, standing still while making speeches always made her nervous.
"Well, first of all I must start off by congratulating you all on your valuable contributions to the mission we have just completed," she said, smiling. "You all did very well considering the amount of pressure we put you under.
"The conversations I have had with you and some of your supervising agents seem to convey that you're uncertain as to what happens next. Let me put you out of your misery." She paused and turned to stare out of the second floor windows for a moment. When her gaze travelled back to the eleven novices in front of her, it was calm and completely emotionless. "We will not force you to stay. Whoever wishes to do so will be returned to California after this meeting is over."
Some of the agents sitting along the edge of the room almost laughed out loud at the expressions on their faces. Sheer relief would be to put it mildly.
"However, as I said before, we were very impressed with the standard of your work. We need people like you, your expertise is not going un-needed. We will refuse no-one who decides to remain in the FBI. You will be based in Angel Grove, but with the possibility that your base will be transferred to Seattle."
Agent Williams stood up. "Agent Cresswell, perhaps we should give them some time together to make their decisions. It's hardly one to be taken lightly."
"Good suggestion," Emma said, negelecting to mention that she had been planning on doing just that before Devon's intervention. She gave another look at all of them. "We'll give you five minutes."
Five minutes is hardly enough to decide your future. But that was all they had, so it would have to be enough.
Adam was the first to speak, considering his strong views on the subject it was hardly surprising. "I'm going back to Angel Grove, but back to the university." He looked at his girlfriend, hoping against hope that she'd feel the same way as him. if she didn't then he knew he would come to regret his decision.
Luckily, his relief and muted happiness was reflected back in Tanya's attitude. "Me too."
No explanations, no justifications. There was no time, and they weren't needed. Either decision would be completely understandable.
Eyes and gazes turned automatically to Jason, who was seated next to Tanya.
Unlike Adam, there had never been a doubt in his mind. He didn't blame Adam and Tanya for wanting to leave, but this life called to him. And it had been said before, but he firmly believed that his strong obligations to Zordon would allow him to do nothing less.
"I'm going to join them."
Anxious to get the attention away from his decision, he looked at his partner in crime, Zack. Even his best friend couldn't figure out what Zack was likely to do.
He himself knew. Even though he thought it likely Aisha would want to leave, maybe to continue her charity work, his tactic for decision making had followed much the same path as Jason's.
Zack had felt slightly abandoned, as had Trini, when Jason left the Peace Conference to return back to Angel Grove, and essentially back to power. It had left a feeling of uselessness behind, and he hadn't been able to shake it off easily.
And although he had a good life - two lives, if you counted the strange life he had led for a couple of days at AGU - there was an air of unpredictability about becoming an FBI agent. Looking suave, striding into diners and bars to flip your ID card over and say, "Taylor. With the FBI."
This somewhat scattered train of though led to Zack finally deciding for the life of making a difference in the way that he knew how. "Me too."
Billy and Trini next, and this had more mystery at first sight. Trini wanted out of this situation, but her views had been slightly changed after hearing that they would be able to remain in Angel Grove, at least for a while. With her friends again.
Billy gently pulled Trini from her seat and over to the far side of the room where they could decide what would happen without being easily overheard.
"You should join them," Trini whispered. "They need someone with your intelligence."
"I'm not going if you don't," Billy said, looking deeply into his eyes. "I know I'd be in Angel Grove, but it would never be the same. There'd be all this secrecy between us if only one of us becomes an agent, and I don't want that."
Trini took a deep breath, and said what she had been needing to say for a while. "I gave you the chance to leave me when you went to Aquitar. I know you came back, but we might not be so lucky the next time."
Her insecurities were bared on the table, but Billy could allay them. "I'd never leave you again, and you know that. If we should join together, then that's what we'll do. But I don't want to compromise you. If you don't want to be in the FBI then I'll walk away, I promise you."
Trini's eyes were shining with unshed tears. "I'd do anything as long as you were there."
They returned to the table in silence, a quick nod from Billy confirming their response.
4 for the FBI. 2 for returning to a normal life.
Next, Aisha, Kat and Rocky.
All of them had been looking for something different in their lives, but none of them wanted it in this world.
Zack would be sad that Aisha was leaving. Another chance of a relationship between a group of friends dashed. But with Kat and Rocky, it was the chance being regiven.
Though it wasn't planned, all three of them said, "We're going back," at the same moment. Small smiles all around at the gentle humour, but no-one dared to speak. There were still others to make their decision.
Kim and Tommy followed the example of Trini and Billy, by leaving their seats and moving over to the window. They needed privacy to make their decision.
Kim already knew that Tommy would stay out of obligation to those who had helped him before. Whether he'd return to his normal life is she did the same wasn't really the point... except in her heart of hearts she wanted it to be.
"What do you want to do?" he asked quietly.
"Is it really an issue of that?" she questioned.
"What do you mean?" he asked. Kim blushed, aware that she'd just revelaed an insecurity she had wanted to keep hidden.
"I mean... that I'm sort of suprised that you still think of me before making decisions. We've only been together again for three days, and..." Kim trailed off, unable to put her thoughts and feelings into words.
Tommy understood what his girlfriend was trying to say. "I know what you mean, but if you just skip the couple of years we weren't a couple, then we'll have been together for about five years."
"Nice way to look at it," Kim smiled. "It should still be your decision. Even though I know you're going to want to join them. I wouldn't expect anything less from you..."
He gave her a puzzled look. "Can you really see through me that well?"
"Better than you think. And I also know that I'm going to be with you every step of the way."
* * *
Agent Cresswell returned, without her entourage of agents in tow.
"I need an answer, and fast. We've got a plane waiting on the runway to take you back to Angel Grove, and we'll give those who wish to stay a few days rest before contacting them."
"Tommy, Billy, Trini, Kim, Zack and I want to say, the others want to leave," Jason said, suddenly aware as he said the words that the division between the originals and those who had joined later seemed very wide, with only Tommy transcending the gap.
"Okay," Cresswell said. "Quickly now, get on the plane."
"Fine, they beg us to come here and then can't wait to get rid of us," Adam muttered to Tanya as they jogged after Emma Cresswell.
"Typical," Tanya replied. "Still, be glad that they've actually given us the chance to leave."
"That is very true," Rocky said from behind them. "Normal life, here I come!" he said gleefully, pulling Kat into an impromptu tap dance.
Slightly behind the 'free' people, walked those who had committed themselves to saving the world once again. Not unhappy, just.... apprehensive.
"So, has anyone got any idea of exactly what we've let ourselves in for?" Kim asked, only half jokingly.
"I tell you what our lives are going to be like now. We walk into a room, show our ID, and get instant attention. And I get to quit my job!" Zack said, with a grin on his face.
Their lives were going to be changed beyond belief.... one more shot at ridding the world from evil... but would they succeed?
Final A/N: I know the finish was sort of abrupt, but I tried a long and protracted ending and it didn't really work. Final thanks to Didi, DevDev, White Tiger, Ozmandayus and Dagmar for their help on this chapter. Let me know your views on whether you want a sequel