The temperature in downtown Angel Grove began to ascend to record setting numbers as noon approached, and the blazing sun cast its solar rays down onto the massive skyscrapers, casting shadows in the streets filled with agitated jobholders returning from their lunch breaks. A brawny young man with jet-black hair, and a dissolving summer tan, stepped into his maroon 1996 Acura LS and started the ignition. He realized how intense the heat had become, making the day seems longer then it had actually been. He'd been released from work a couple of hours early, and couldn't wait to get home to his girlfriend. The young man looked into the rear-view window to make sure the street was clear, and sighed. There seemed to be a traffic jam, and now he'd have to wait.
"Patience isn't a virtue, it's a great virtue," the words echoed in his head as if he'd summoned them on command. It was a quote passed on to him long ago by a wise sage trapped in a time warp. As he matured, he began to understand its importance, and he lived by its meaning. The young man looked down at the car radio, and turned up the volume. Tanya Sloan's voice poured into the car, which brought a smile to the young man's face.
"We have some old school Aerosmith for all of you hard-rockers out there, so turn up the volume, because it's time for you to be Livin' on the Edge!" the female African-American DJ spoke enthusiastically.
The young man smiled at the song choice. It had been a Bradboard hit back in the year 1993, the year that had changed his life forever. If the events of those years hadn't occurred he imagined himself riding through high school solely with the knowledge of getting a football scholarship for college. He'd have always been known simply as Jason Lee Scott, the "football quarterback" of the Angel Grove Tigers. Jason knew that a lot of guys he attended high school with envied his popularity, and he also knew that a lot of the girls at Angel Grove High had a crush on him. Many of the guys on the football team often bragged about their supposed "one night stands", many of whom Jason knew to be false. Jason wasn't like his fellow teammates; he centered himself around four others who he'd always considered his very best friends. High school was very different for Jason, and his close friends. They had their own deep secrets, secrets that they still kept to this very day. They'd been Power Rangers, and battling grades and evil space aliens could take its toll on anyone.
Jason shook off his thoughts and turned his attention back to the song blasting from the car speakers. These were the types of songs that he and his "bro" Zack would dance around to in the garage, until an attractive girl walked by, they embarrassingly played it off. That's what Jason liked about his group of friends, each of them were unique in their own ways and brought their own charisma to the group. Zack had the hip attitude, Billy was the smartest one and could help solve almost anything, and Trini was smart and usually kept the peace.
And then there was Kimberly. Jason knew that there weren't enough words in the dictionary to describe her charm, beauty, and intelligence. Jason and Kimberly had been next-door neighbors from the time they were toddlers, which had led to him developing a crush on her. Jason's crush ended when he and Kimberly began their freshman year of high school in August of 1993. Becoming Power Rangers had taken Jason's mind off of Kimberly, and when she fell head over heels for Tommy Oliver, Jason realized that he'd lost and he continued his "big brother" persona.
Jason snapped out of his re-collection of the past, as 'Livin on the Edge' came to an end. He looked into his rear-view window again, and realized that traffic had resumed. He steered out onto the street, glancing at the various skyscrapers, which had seen hundreds of monster attacks over the years.
"Come on Jason," he thought to himself. "You're not a Power Ranger anymore, the past is the past, and we've gone our separate ways,"
He was a completely different person now, and there was a new group of Power Rangers protecting Angel Grove from evil space aliens. Although he somehow felt he should be out there helping the cause, he knew that is job, as Marketing Director for a local advertising business was the only thing that would keep paying the bills. On the weekends, Jason kept true to his passion for Martial Arts, and taught Karate classes at a local dojo. Karate in Angel Grove was dying down though, as the video game phenomenon was taking new heights.
Jason zoomed through the traffic, the thought of getting home to the woman that he'd shared his live with for six months brought a smile to his face. He'd met Emily Tesh last summer at Ernie's Beach Club where he helped her see the error in the ways of a local biker gang. He knew Emily would be at home waiting for him; she'd been given the week off while Jerome Stone finished up the process of gaining ownership of the Juice Bar while Ernie was away. Finally reaching his destination, Jason pulled into the parking lot of the Angel Grove Apartment Plaza; he drove toward his reserved parking place and nearly crashed into a black motorcycle.
"Whoa," Jason exclaimed in surprise. "What's going on here?" he pulled back and parked into a nearby empty space. Jason recognized the motorcycle but he couldn't recall its familiarity, he shrugged it off and walked towards the building's entrance, heading towards the security desk.
"Someone's motorcycle is parked in my spot, do you know anything about it?" Jason asked one of the security guards politely.
The guard pulled out a clipboard, running his fingers down the list of names who checked in. "Yes, Mr. Scott. The owner of the motorcycle is a young man who has been a frequent guest of your roommate. He's tall with short black hair, and answers to the name of Eddie,"
"All right, thank you," Jason replied, walking slowly towards the elevators. "It can't be," he thought to himself as he waited for the elevator. The elevator door finally opened, and Jason nervously stepped inside, punching the button for the fourth floor. The wait seemed like forever, but the doors opened again. Jason nervously stepped out of the elevator and approached his apartment door. He could hear grunting and moaning coming from inside. Jason's hands were shaking as he tried to put the key into the door, but he finally managed to open it. He entered the apartment, releasing that the sounds were coming from his and Emily's bedroom. Jason cautiously approached the closed door, and listened.
"Come on Eddie," said Emily. "Jason won't be home for another two hours, I really want to be with you,"
"All right," Eddie responded. "I'll give you what you want then,"
Jason opened the door, gaining view to Eddie and Emily making out on the king size bed. His legs were weak, and he was clueless as to what he should do.
Emily looked up and saw Jason; she had a shocked expression on her face. Eddie didn't seem to notice her sudden change in mood he kept kissing her neck.
"Eddie, stop!" Emily's soft voice cried out.
"What's wrong Emily? Am I doing something wrong? I thought you wanted me to make love to you?" he asked her.
Jason pulled the door shut, turned around and walked towards the hallway. The bedroom door opened behind him and Emily came running out.
"Jason, please stop!" she yelled.
Jason didn't have the heart to hear anything she had to say, he was heartbroken, and he couldn't believe the day was ending like this. "It can't be happening," he told himself. "I have to be dreaming," But he couldn't escape into dreams this time, and he couldn't blame his troubles on evil space aliens. This was real life, and Emily had been cheating on him.
"Jason!" Emily cried out one final time, as Jason pulled the apartment door shut in her face.
Jason felt a slight tap on his shoulder He jumped, coming face to face with Kimberly Hart who smiled innocently back at him. Jason realized that he'd been daydreaming about the past once again, a flaw that he'd been trying to work out. He especially hated remembering the day he found Emily in bed with her old flame Eddie because it hurt the most, even though it'd been two years. Jason remembered where he was, Orlando Florida, the last meet in the Pan Global Games. He'd come specifically to watch Kimberly. Jason smiled back at his friend the best his facial expressions allowed him… but looked away embarrassingly. Kimberly's eyes had always bewitched Jason, making him smile just by looking at them.
"Oh my gosh!" Kimberly exclaimed, brushing the hair out of her face. She threw her arms around the guy who'd been her best friend since childhood. "I can't believe you're here," Kimberly stood back, allowing Jason to get a full glance at her. She was in her pink tights, and had obviously just finished her last task.
"I thought I'd surprise you," replied Jason, slyly. "You did a great job out there by the way," Jason had been too caught up in memory lane, and really hadn't been watching Kimberly, but he was sure she'd done well.
Kimberly smiled. "I could have done the last few jumps a little neater, but I think I did all right, and I'm so glad the games are finally over. It's been three years too long," she replied. "This was a great surprise though. Seeing you again sure brings back a lot of old memories,"
"Same here," Jason replied, thinking about the many reflections he'd been having lately. She was right; being there had brought back memories, painful memories. Jason wanted to ask her out to lunch, but wasn't sure how to do it. He hadn't asked a girl out in two years. "It's Kimberly," he told himself. "Your best friend, she would love to have lunch with you," he paused for a moment, building up the courage to ask her. "Um, Kim?" he asked. "Would you like to have lunch with me?"
Kimberly's face lit up. She was hoping he'd ask. "I'd love to," she replied. "I have to go and change though… here, hold my lucky hair scrunch, if I lost this I don't know what I'd do,"
Jason looked down at the pink hair scrunch he'd bought for Kimberly when they were five years old because he didn't know what else to buy for her birthday. He grasped it tightly and smiled at Kimberly as she sprinted off to the dressing room to change.
An hour later, Jason and Kimberly sat across from each other at an Italian restaurant called "Carabba's". Kimberly wore a pink blouse, and Jason wore a red shirt. It'd made them both realize that they'd never escaped their Power Ranger colors.
"So how's the big gymnast doing all by herself in Florida?" Jason asked.
Kimberly smiled at Jason's flattery. "I've been doing great actually. I just finished my freshman year of college, and I'm in a steady relationship with a guy named Vince,"
Jason frowned at the word relationship, with the thought of Kimberly asking about Emily. As long as he could keep the subject on her, he'd feel fine. "That's great, I suppose you're finally over Tommy?"
Kimberly wanted to scowl at the mention of Tommy's name. Honestly, she hadn't completely forgotten about him, he was her first true love, and it had taken her a long time to get over him. She'd dated a couple of guys in Florida, but nothing ever became serious. When she saw how happy Tommy was with Katherine on the Island of Muranthias, it hurt her a lot. "Tommy who?" she joked. "How's Tommy doing anyway?"
"Surprisingly, Tommy gave up race cars and went off to college. Believe it or not, something has gotten him pretty interested in paleontology," Jason replied. "Isn't that weird?"
Kimberly let out a sigh of relief, happy to hear that Tommy gave up the dangerous art of racing. "Yeah, that is weird. I didn't think Tommy would seriously go to college, as much as he loathed school. "Maybe Kat talked him into it, didn't she go to school to become a teacher?"
Jason nodded. "You don't like Kat much do you?" he asked, sensing the dislike in Kimberly's voice.
Kimberly rolled her eyes, and bent forward so no one else could hear her reply. "Of course I like Katherine, if I didn't, I never would have passed my powers on to her. I just…"
"Just what?" Jason smiled.
Kimberly shrugged, sitting back against the cushioned booth seat. "I know it wasn't Kat's fault, but when she came to Angel Grove, I don't think Rita's spell had anything to do with her feelings for Tommy, and sometimes I feel like she stole him,"
Jason snickered. "Kim, you've got to be joshing me. You're the one who left, leaving Tommy to cry over you. Katherine was there to comfort him, and they grew close,"
"He cried?" asked Kimberly.
"After you sent the latter, he realized that your relationship was over. He and Katherine became serious then,"
"That stupid letter," Kimberly thought. "I met a guy in the games, and he turned out to be a real jerk. I regret sending that letter; I dumped that jerk two days after I sent it. Are they still dating?"
Jason shrugged. "I'm not sure where they stand as a couple right now. Katherine is going to school in Sydney, and Tommy is up north at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I guess it doesn't matter much to you anyway, since you have this "great" new boyfriend,"
"Yeah," Kimberly nodded. The news struck her hard however, and felt that she could still be with Tommy if she'd never sent the letter that had broken his heart. "It's too late Kimberly," she told herself. "Tommy has put you away, and it's time for you to do the same,"
Jason and Kimberly talked through dinner, about random things. It left Jason surprised that Kimberly hadn't mentioned the Power Rangers at all, but he figured it brought back painful memories. He also wondered why she hadn't spoken much about the guy she was staying with, which made Jason too impatient to meet this guy as Kimberly directed him towards her house, as he drove her home.
"So what happened to your car?" Jason asked. "Your father bought you a new one before you left for the Pan Global games," Jason asked.
Kimberly shrugged. "Mark drives it to work, he dropped me off at the games today,"
Jason thought for a moment, he didn't want to pry too much into her love life but he wasn't so sure about this guy. "So why wasn't Mark at your final match?"
"Well," she sighed. "He had to work, and he's never been too much involved with my gymnastics. I met him at a bowling alley, and we hit it off. It's kind of funny how we don't have much in common,"
Kimberly directed Jason down a few streets, until they pulled up in front of a small white house, which seemingly sat in what looked like a ghetto. He recognized the car he'd mentioned parked outside of the house. Before Jason had the chance to get out, Kimberly hugged him.
"Thank you for coming out Jason," she said. "It meant a lot to me… it was great seeing you again,"
Jason returned the hug. "I'd do anything for you Kim," he said, kissing her softly on the cheek.
"Oh yeah, when you get back to Angel Grove tell everyone that I said hello, and wish them well for me," she added, now out of the car.
Jason nodded. "Bye Kimberly," he frowned, saddened that the trip was ending like this. It seemed as if she was rushing him off, but he wasn't going to question her. He started the ignition and drove off. As he made his way back onto the expressway he looked down at the pink scrunch, wrapped around his steering wheel.
"Darn," Jason exclaimed. "I forgot to give this back to Kimberly," he said out loud.
It was her lucky scrunch, and he knew that Kimberly could become superstitious about things if she wasn't protected by its "luck". Jason turned off an exit and headed back towards Kimberly's house. As he pulled back in front of the house he could hear shouting echoing through the walls. He parked the car quickly walked up the small driveway, where he could hear the shouting voices. It was Kimberly, and she was crying.
"I apologize Mark, it was just one of my old friends from Angel Grove. He came to my game, and took me out to dinner. I should have called you," Kimberly's voice cried.
Jason grasped the door handle, and tried to open it, finding it locked. "Shoot," he thought. He looked around, and backed up. Raising his right leg, Jason charged towards the door kicking it in. Jason struggled to catch his balance, but caught a quick view of Kimberly cowering in the corner of what appeared to be a living room. She'd obviously been hit.
The thin man standing over her turned around and faced Jason. "Who in the hell are you?" the older man with a goatee and brown hair asked.
"Jason," Kimberly cried. "Please go,"
"I'm not going anywhere Kim," Jason replied angrily. "Is this the perfect guy you've told me all about? Kim, I can't believe you'd associate yourself with a person like this!"
Mark stepped forward and raised his fist towards Jason. "Get the hell out of my house man, this is none of your damn business!"
Jason grabbed Mark's armed and twisted it. "When you hurt one of my friends buddy, you're going to deal with me!" Jason raised his other arm into the air forming a fist, sending it straight into Mark's face, and knocked him down onto a beat up sofa.
"Get your stuff Kim, I'm getting you out of this place," Jason pulled her up, ignoring her protests. "This is abuse Kim! This guy is hurting you,"
Kimberly wiped the tears from her eyes and went into another room. She quickly returned carrying two suitcases. She grabbed her car keys off of the corner of the sofa. "All of my things are in these, I haven't had the chance to unpack since I moved in," spoke a saddened Kimberly.
Mark struggled to get up; Jason had hit him pretty hard. He watched as Jason and Kimberly stumbled out the front door. "Don't come back here Kimberly!" he yelled. "You better not come back here!"
Jason helped Kimberly load the suitcases into the back seat of her car. "Follow me until we find a safe place to pull over, I need to talk to you,"
Kimberly sped out of the driveway, and followed Jason towards the expressway not looking back. They drove on for a while, until Jason spotted a rest stop. Jason parked, and got out of the car, walking over to Kimberly.
"What were you thinking Kim?" he yelled angrily. "Have you gone out of your mind? Why would you stay with that creep?"
"He's all I had," Kimberly stuttered, wiping tears from her eyes. "I had no one else,"
Jason slammed his car door shut. "That's bull crap and you know it Kimberly! Not only do you have me, but also you have your friends, your parents. Why didn't you tell me the truth?"
Kimberly sighed. "Fine Jason, do you want the truth? I didn't want to bother because I knew everyone was busy with his or her own agendas, and I was the one who made the decision to leave Angel Grove. I know staying with Mark was wrong but I was confused, and well, I've handled his abuse," she explained. "Jason, listen. I've come to realize that coming to Florida was a mistake… I gave up everything that made me strong and came to a place where the power no longer protected me,"
"The power?" Jason asked. "Are you saying you can't feel the protection of the Morphing Grid anymore?"
Kimberly nodded. "I haven't felt its protection for a long time,"
Jason paused, realizing that he felt the same. "I haven't felt it for a long time either, I just haven't stopped to notice,"
"Jason, I have to go back there… I don't have anywhere else to go," she pleaded.
Jason looked at Kimberly, hoping what he was going to say wouldn't make her think he was overpowering her. "You're coming home with me," he replied. "Back to Angel Grove,"
Kimberly shook her head. "No, I couldn't do that to you and Emily,"
Jason shrugged. He knew he'd have to explain his breakup with Emily sooner or later. At this point, Adam Park was the only one who knew, he hadn't even told Zack who was his best friend. Jason pursed his lips, and decided to tell Kimberly. "Kim…" his voice came out as a whisper. "Emily and I aren't together anymore,"
Kimberly's face saddened. She touched his shoulder. She wasn't expecting this news at all. Jason had seemed so happy earlier, and she was surprised he hadn't brought it up. "What happened Jason?"
Jason sighed before replying. "I, I walked into the bedroom and caught her making out with her ex-boyfriend. It happened a few months before the Island of Muranthias business. I haven't dated anyone since then,"
Kimberly hit his shoulder. "Jason Scott! You went a year without telling me? I can't believe you didn't call me,"
"Well," Jason shrugged. "You lied to me about Mark, so don't complain about me not telling you about Emily,"
"I still can't come back with you... I don't want to invade your privacy. I'll just call my dad,"
Jason smiled at her. "Kimberly, I would be honored to have you come and live with me, besides it gets kind of lonely every now and then. You can keep me company. Besides, it'll give us a good chance to catch up on the world of the Rangers,"
"Yeah, what happened to that Divatox person?" Kimberly asked. "I saw something on the news awhile back that a series of detonators had been planted around Angel Grove… what's up with that?"
"Wow Kimberly, you really are out of the loop," Jason laughed. "I have an idea, lets find a hotel and I'll explain some stuff. First, you have to agree to come back to Angel Grove with me,"
Kimberly nodded. "Fine, I'll come back to Angel Grove with you," she smiled.
Kimberly led Jason back into town, where she found a Days Inn that she'd been staying at before she'd met Mark. It was like old times being together with Jason. Jason felt the same way, because he missed the old days when he had nothing to worry about. At the front desk the two learned that they would have to share a one-bedroom suite due to the summer holidays. As they approached the bedroom Kimberly gave Jason a hug.
"Thank you for saving me, again," she whispered. "And thanks for letting me stay with you,"
Jason grinned. "No problem, what are big brother's for?" he asked. "Besides, it'll be a long drive back to Angel Grove… and I'll buy you your own room at the next hotel if you're uncomfortable with sharing,"
They entered the room, as Jason pulled off the red shirt he'd been wearing revealing a white sleeveless t-shirt underneath.
Kimberly couldn't help but admire Jason's physic, but she quickly turned away hoping he hadn't caught her gazing at him. She looked down at her own suitcase and decided to switch into her pink pajamas.
"I think we should get some sleep," Jason interrupted her thoughts. "You can have the bed, and I'll take the floor,"
"Um Jase?" she asked. "Would you mind sleeping with me? It'll be nice to feel protected again… and well, it'll be like old times when I would sneak across the yard to your house when I was having bad dreams,"
Jason thought for a minute and nodded. "Yeah, I wouldn't mind,"
When Kimberly returned from changing into her sleeping clothes she found Jason all ready waiting in the bed. She climbed in beside him and sighed.
"Jason, this whole ordeal with Mark… can we just put it behind us?"
"Whoa, Kim, slow down there," Jason replied. "We can forget about it if you want, but I think I still need to talk to you about it,"
Kimberly laughed. "You've always been there for me Jase,"
"Well, I'll always protect you Kimmy," he whispered.
Kimberly smiled at him. "You haven't called me Kimmy since we were seven… it used to be so annoying, especially when you called me that in front of Steven Randall,"
"Yeah, you had the biggest innocent crush on him in second grade," he laughed, envisioning the scene.
"Jase?" Kimberly whispered.
"Yeah?" he whispered back.
Kimberly hesitated before she asked the question that had been burning inside of her from the moment she'd noticed boys. "Why didn't you ever ask me out?" she finally whispered, almost stuttering.
Jason froze. He knew the answer, but he didn't think it was good enough. He'd asked himself the very question ever since he was fifteen years old. The only answer he could give was that he'd waited too long, and Tommy Oliver snatched her away. Kimberly's eyes shifted directly into his, sending him into a state of panic. "Believe me Kim, I always wanted to ask you out… but when Tommy came alone I realized that you really liked him," he told her, not believing that he'd finally told Kimberly Hart his feelings for her.
"Oh," she answered meekly. "I didn't think you liked me like that," she lowered her face towards his and kissed him softly on his cheek. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up,"
"Don't be sorry," Jason replied softly. "I'm glad you did," Jason found his hormones spinning out of control, the moment was perfect, she was looking directly at him. He thought she wanted him to do it so he dove for it and gently kissed her on the lips.
TO BE CONTINUED