Conflicts of Interest

"OK, class, that's enough for today. Study for the quiz on Monday, and have a good weekend. You have about 5 minutes before the bell, use it however you want...quietly!"

Dr. Thomas "Tommy" Oliver ended class for his first period science students a bit early this Friday morning. They had been working hard, and deserved it. And, if he were to be honest with himself, he was somewhat distracted by his own thoughts today, for some reason.

Sitting at his desk at the front of the Reefside High School science lab, he briefly scanned the classroom, and was immediately drawn from his wandering thoughts by what he saw. It made him laugh to himself. Some students slept, some of the more diligent ones studied, a few stared in breathless anticipation at the clock, and, he noticed, with no small amount of unease, some of the girls stared unabashedly at him with a dreamy look in their eyes. It was enough to make Tommy roll his own. 'Here we go again', he thought.

A great deal could be said about Tommy Oliver. A sixth degree black belt in karate, any opponent that ever sparred with him would say he was a formidable martial artist, quick-thinking and powerful. A PhD. in paleontology, past professors would say he was a creative, promising student. He had several good friends, spanning back to his days at Angel Grove High school. They knew he was as loyal and true a friend as there ever was. His parents knew that he was a devoted son, and that they couldn't have done better if they had conceived him themselves rather than adopting him as a newborn baby. But there was one thing about Tommy Oliver that everyone, no matter who they were, would say: that he was blindingly handsome. And it has, on more than one occasion, caused him some problems. Like for instance the discomfort he felt under the starry-eyed gazes of the seventeen year old girls sitting before him, drooling on their notebooks while they fantasized.

Almost thirty and just shy of six feet tall, with short, thick, dark hair that he coaxed with gel into trendy spikes every morning, rather than let lie in its natural curls; exotic features, indicative of his Native American heritage: dark eyes, the color of milk chocolate, with unbelievably long, curved lashes that, in combination with his full, perfectly shaped lips and flawless facial planes, almost gave him a feminine appearance, and make no mistake, Tommy has on many an occasion been referred to as a beautiful man. Taking in the whole picture, however, his body is most definitely masculine. Broadly muscular, with sharply defined pecs and abs, long, strong legs, and, as many a woman has noticed, a tight, perfect butt that made the whole package just as appealing walking away as it is coming towards you.

Not that Tommy was aware of any of this, for it was also widely known amongst his friends and family that he was nothing if not humble about his looks, completely uncomprehending of the attention they got him. He genuinely didn't think he was anything special that way. But he wasn't without an ego…no, not hardly.

Tommy Oliver was, without dispute, the greatest and longest-serving Power Ranger ever and deep down, though not pompous about it, he knew it.

The Power Rangers were the guardians of all that is right and true. They have, for nearly fifteen years, protected the citizens of Earth from the evil forces of the galaxy. Begun by the interdimensional being Zordon of Eltar, who acted as their mentor, the Rangers were ordinary teens and young adults that could "morph" into superheroes with extraordinary powers. Throughout the years, there have been many teams of Rangers that utilized different powers and fought different enemies. Tommy was the sixth member of the very first team, but before he joined them, he had been the evil green Ranger, recruited by evil space sorceress Rita Repulsa to destroy the Power Rangers. She had been impressed by his martial arts skills and quiet, brooding manor. The spell she placed on him was strong, and he couldn't fight it. Eventually, though, the other Rangers helped break the spell, invited him to join the team, and thus marked a significant moment in Power Ranger history, as well as the beginning of some of the best friendships of Tommy's life. Other powers and uniform colors followed, and by the time Tommy graduated from high school, he had experienced enough death and destruction that he was more than ready to transfer the power to the next generation and get on with his life.

It seems, however, that the power was not yet ready to permanently release him.

Refocusing his attention on his students, but very deliberately ignoring his admirers, he settled his gaze on his four favorite students. They weren't his favorites because they performed the best academically, or because they sucked up to him. And he didn't give them any extra privileges or breaks just because they were who they were. But Tommy Oliver shared a special relationship with Conner McKnight, Kira Ford, Ethan James, and Trent Fernandez. Not only were they his students, but they were something much more: they were his teammates. They were fellow Power Rangers.

While in graduate school studying paleontology, he was granted the opportunity to work with the famous scientist, Anton Mercer. They had been secretly working on combining dinosaur DNA with technology. At one point, their lab, located on a remote island, was attacked, and Tommy barely escaped with his life. He was certain no one else survived.

Not long after settling in Reefside, Tommy began setting up a Ranger command center in his basement with his genius friend from graduate school, Haley. He had found a nice house on a large piece of property, completely isolated in the woods. It was perfect for his needs. He knew the time was coming when he was going to end up wrapped up in the Power Ranger life again. The creatures that attacked their lab had been mutations of a project he and Anton had been working on, the difference being that they were now evil. It was obvious that someone had gotten hold of some of their research and was intent on doing harm with it. He could only assume that they were searching the lab for the source of this current team of Rangers' powers, and the only things Tommy escaped the island with, the Dino Gems.

A series of unusual events led to the bonding of Conner, Kira, Ethan, Trent, and himself to the gems, and the DinoThunder Rangers were born. They fought against the evil mutant Mesogog, and were all that stood between humans and his ultimate goal: to return Earth to the prehistoric time of the dinosaur. To accomplish this, Mesogog needed the gems, and to get them, he regularly released armies of Tyrannodrones and other mutant monsters into Reefside in an effort to defeat the Power Rangers. It hasn't worked so far, and if Tommy had his way, it never would.

Finally, the bell rang, signaling the end of class. Almost immediately after, the crackling of the PA system could be heard, then the stern voice of Reefside High's principal, Ms. Randall. "Dr. Oliver, please report to the principal's office!"

As Tommy heard the announcement, he couldn't help but roll his eyes. That woman was so mean. He couldn't figure out for the life of him what made her decide on a career in education when she so obviously despised kids. He had long ago learned to trust his instincts, and something about Randall sent up a red flag in his mind. He just couldn't figure out what it was. He started to get his books and papers together, mentally preparing himself for his trip to the office, as the students filed out of the science lab. The team stopped in front of his desk, and Tommy just knew what was coming.

"Hey, Dr. O, your girlfriend wants to see you. Got a hot date this weekend?" Conner McKnight was the red Ranger, a soccer player, and something of an airhead, if only on the surface. He wasn't stupid, but he was sometimes so full of bravado that he missed everything else that was going on around him. He was a good kid, though, and despite some lingering self-doubt about his ability and worthiness as a Power Ranger, he was slowly but surely becoming a fine leader.

"Conner, what did I tell you about the Randall jokes? I don't find them funny." Tommy fixed his student with a glare.

The team had taken to teasing their teacher about the seemingly lavish amount of attention the principal paid him on a recent field trip to an archaeological dig site. Tommy thought they were exaggerating. The last thing he could imagine was Randall having anything but professional feelings towards him. In fact, he couldn't remember too many times when her attitude towards him wasn't downright contemptuous, and while she did seem to be in an unusually good mood that day, he would never interpret that as having anything to do with him.

"Sorry, Dr. O. What do you think she wants now?"

"I have no idea, Conner, but I'm sure it isn't anything serious. Now hurry up, or you guys will be late for your next class."

"Are we still meeting for training after school, Dr. Oliver?" Kira Ford, the yellow DinoThunder Power Ranger, and the most thoughtful of the group, stuck her head back into the classroom to ask just as Tommy picked up his briefcase to make his way to Randall's office.

"Yeah, Kira, 4:00. Meet at the command center."

"OK…Oh, and Dr. O, Good luck."

"Thanks, Kira, see you later."

Kira was a musician, and a damn good one. Tommy knew he wasn't just being biased because she was his student and teammate. She really was very talented. As the only female on the team, she brought a necessary, stabilizing force to the Rangers. She was tough without being abrasive, feminine without being overly girly, and she wasn't in the least bit intimidated by all the testosterone. Tommy couldn't be happier to have her along side them.

'No use postponing the inevitable', Tommy thought as he made his way up the hall through the sea of last minute stragglers still left rushing to their next class. The main administrative offices for the school were just ahead, and just as he grabbed hold of the doorknob, he took a deep breath to ready himself for whatever Ms. Randall threw at him. He really couldn't imagine what he did this time, although she never seemed to need a valid reason to hassle him in the past. Tommy could have sworn she had it in for him, yet other times she was as sweet as sugar. It made no sense.

As soon as he entered the office, he was greeted by Mrs. Reynolds, the elderly school secretary. She was seventy-something, and had been working at Reefside for almost forty years. She genuinely loved the kids, and never spoke of retirement.

"Good morning, Dr. Oliver!"

"'Mornin', Mrs. Reynolds. How are you today?"

"Fine, dear, just fine. I'll let her know you're here."

"Thank you." Tommy gave her his best smile, for he adored Mrs. Reynolds. She was like a grandmother figure to students and teachers alike. She in turn smiled back, for she found Dr. Oliver incredibly charming and handsome. He made her feel like a young girl with a crush, much like she knew many of the students felt about him.

From behind her she heard the door to Ms. Randall's office, and her smile turned to a frown. In all these years working at the school, she has seen many teachers and principals come and go, but never has she known one to be as mean spirited and spiteful as Randall. She sighed as she heard Randall bark out the science teacher's name.

"Dr. Oliver! Please step into my office."

"And a good morning to you, Ms. Randall," Tommy mumbled under his breath. Here we go…

Moving behind her desk to sit down, she motioned for him to do the same. He waited until she was seated, then he politely sat down in one of the uncomfortable "interrogation" chairs in front of her and waited for her to begin. Tommy was very amused by her whole demeanor. She thought she was really intimidating, and to some students she probably was, but not to him. He simply found her disturbing.

Ms. Randall fixed him with a stare and a tight smile for an excessively long time, most likely in an effort to make him squirm, before she spoke. "Dr. Oliver, I suppose you're wondering why I called you in here."

"Well, the thought has crossed my mind." Tommy was not interested in playing games.

To his surprise, she let out a hearty, genuine laugh.

"Don't be so serious! I'm just curious to know how you've adjusted now that you've been here for several months. That's all."

"I'm…fine. No problems. I enjoy teaching. That's all you wanted to know?"

"Um…well, how about other areas of your life? It's important for a teacher to have an outlet for all the stress. So, what do you do when you're not at work? Any hobbies? Friends? What about your social life? Certainly a good-looking, single, young man like yourself ought to have a special lady with whom to spend your free time. Have you found anyone in particular since moving to Reefside?"

Tommy must have had a quizzical look on his face, because it relayed his confusion without his having to say a word. He didn't think he could if he tried, anyway. He was too stunned.

"Don't be so surprised! I'm just looking out for you. In fact, I'll tell you what, why don't you and I go out for a drink tomorrow night? Nothing fancy, just two friends getting together outside of work, socially. That is, if you're not busy…" Ms Randall fixed him with her sweetest smile, one which Tommy would have sworn she wasn't even capable of.

This was the last thing Tommy expected from coming here this morning. If Randall hadn't spelled it out so clearly, he may have thought he misunderstood her intent, but she was very direct. She wanted to go out on a date with him? Ms. Randall? He barely thought of her as a woman. It wasn't that she wasn't attractive. If one were to look beyond the harsh, dark-rimmed glasses, she really had a pretty face. And she wasn't old, middle thirties at the most, but she seemed older due to her stern, brash demeanor. Still, even if she weren't his boss, Ms. Randall just wasn't his type.

It took Tommy a few breaths to find his voice.

"Uh, Ms. Randall, I don't think…"

She cut him off. "Oh, come on. It's just a drink. Why not? What are you afraid of?"

Wow, she was persistent. He knew he had to walk softly or risk not only hurting her feelings (not that Tommy has noticed much evidence of her having any feelings other than anger), but jeopardizing his relationship with her as his boss, such as it were. He might even be risking his job, but he had to be honest with her.

"Ms. Randall, I really don't think that it would be a good idea for us to explore anything other than a professional relationship. My private life outside of school is just that, and I'd like to keep it that way."

Randall appraised him with an amused, somewhat patronizing look. Somehow Tommy didn't think he was getting through, and if he wasn't shocked enough by her asking him out, her next move just blew him away.

Slinking out of her seat, Ms. Randall came around and sat on the edge of the desk, directly in front of Tommy's chair, and crossed her long legs. From his perspective, he couldn't help but notice how her position caused the hem of her slim skirt to inch up until there was a considerable amount of thigh on display. As if that wasn't bad enough, she then proceeded to lean way forward until her face was a mere foot from his and her blouse gaped open, revealing her black lace bra and the swell of her breasts.

Tommy coughed a time or two and averted his eyes from the sight before him, as he shifted to sit as far back in the chair as possible. His face felt red hot and the air suddenly became stifling. In all of the impossible situations he had found himself in during his years as a Power Ranger, none of them, even being dangled by his wrists over the Pit of Despair by Divatox, were as uncomfortable as this. This was not only a side of Randall he's never seen, but it was a side of her that he'd have bet good money didn't even exist. Tommy had plenty of experience dodging unwanted advances, but never by his boss.

Forcing himself to look her directly in the eye, Tommy tried to dissuade her again. "Look, Ms. Randall, I think I'd better go get ready for my next class. If you'll excuse me…"

He tried to stand up, but Randall quickly slid off the desk and stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. Tommy tried his hardest to not visibly sweat as she stood above him.

"What's the rush? Third period doesn't start for half an hour. You know, it just occurred to me that we hardly know each other. Why not meet me for that drink? We'll find someplace quiet so we can talk without distractions…maybe even have dinner, a bottle of wine…"

Tommy decided that he had to get out of there right now. Her hand was still on his shoulder, gently massaging.

"Listen to me, please, Ms. Randall. I'm flattered that you asked, but I'm just not interested. I have a wedding to go to tomorrow night with my parents, anyway." He said it with a smile, trying in earnest not to embarrass or offend her. She might be creepy, but she was still a woman, and he was a gentleman.

Tommy's cousin Tracy was getting married, and he did promise his Mom that he'd go. He quickly stood up, dodging her next attempt to keep him seated, and backed towards the door.

"Oh…well, maybe another time, then."

Was she deaf?!

"I don't think so. I've got to go." And he hurried out the door without looking back, leaving Randall alone in her office.

She watched him go, momentarily shocked that her feminine charms failed to work on him. Shock, however, rapidly gave way to anger. Crossing the room in just a few steps, she grabbed hold of the door, and loudly slammed it shut.

I will not fail you, Master, Ms. Randall swore. I will get close to him. I will earn his trust in order to get my hands on those Dino gems, and then I will destroy those pesky Power Rangers. And with a flash of green light, she transformed into Elsa, Mesogog's evil henchwoman.

Her position at the school gave her a unique advantage with the Rangers. She could keep an eye on them, and they were completely oblivious to who she really was. When her master gave her this assignment, she wasn't exactly thrilled. She hated teenagers, but at least as an authority figure, she didn't have to be kind to them or suck up to them so they'd trust her. It was a relationship full of naturally-occurring animosity.

Dr. Oliver, however, was proving to be a bigger challenge than those damn teenage Rangers. He wasn't as naive, and he had a nauseating sense of honor and virtue. But as their leader and mentor, he held all the secrets and the power. Without him, the team would fall apart, so Mesogog dispatched her to find and exploit his weaknesses.

He was a man, and no man could resist sex. That, as far as she was concerned, was a weakness. All she had to do was use her feminine charms to get him in a vulnerable position, and the gems were hers.

Though she loathed admitting it, there was something definitely appealing about the prospect of seducing Tommy Oliver. She didn't understand her conflicting emotions towards him, and that was not good. She needed to hate him, despise him. Whatever this other thing she was feeling was not acceptable.

Her mind made up to not fail again, and with renewed anger towards Dr. Oliver, Elsa disappeared through an invisiportal back to Mesogog's island fortress to plan her next move.

As soon as Tommy made it into the lobby outside the principal's office, he heard the door slam behind him. The loud noise startled Mrs. Reynolds, who looked up from her work to see what the ruckus was about. There she saw Dr. Oliver leaning up against the wall with his eyes closed. His normally tan complexion looked pale, and he seemed a bit out of breath. Since she didn't hear any shouting coming from Ms. Randall's office, she couldn't even begin to imagine what went on in there to put him in such a state. Maybe he just wasn't feeling well.

"What's the matter, dear? You look ill."

"I'm fine, Mrs. Reynolds. Thank you for asking." His voice sounded shaky, even to him.

"Are you sure? If you're sick, I may be able to get a substitute for the rest of the day. You could go home and rest."

"No, that's OK. I'll be alright. Have a nice weekend, ma'am." Tommy mumbled as he headed out of the office into the hall. He could just barely hear the elderly secretary talking to herself after he left, something about him being such a 'nice young man', and that Randall is a 'hateful woman'. It made him smile to himself, despite what just went on.

Ok, this is my first ever fanfic. After being an avid reader for several years, I've finally decided to try my hand at it. Special thanks goes out to JTrevizo for the encouragement a few months back. I only hope to be a quarter as good as you are. Please review, and forgive me if the chapters are posted strangely. It took me a few tries to get the hang of the site. Thanks, Gina