Author's Notes: Okay, this chapter is way later than I anticipated, and I'm sorry. I didn't have the best summer, and then uni work has been immense. Hopefully the chapter will be worth the wait 

Tommy

Once Kim hangs up I roll over so my face is smashed into what I take to be a pillow, and concentrate harder than I ever have before on piecing together the moments of the previous day.

There had been a fight, that was a given. There had been an altercation to the west of the city at around four o'clock, and we'd all rushed over there to deal with it, the battle plan emblazoned into our heads.

The fight lasted for hours, and hours, and I just remember aiming fire to that goddamned box thousands upon thousands of times in an attempt to get Mesogog and Elsa away from it, with no discernible effect. Was I thinking that this was the end? I guess so. And then…

Well, I'm still barely alive, so I guess it's not the end after all. I would remember if we'd got the gem.

Wouldn't I?

I suddenly realise that my pillow is moving, and thoughts flash through my mind of me not being in my house at all, and in fact being in some parallel dimension of Mesogog's making. I gingerly look around, well aware that the pounding in my head has not abated, only to find myself face to face with Conner's leg.

Even in an alternate dimension, he's here? Is there no way to get rid of him? Although it would be helpful to have the extra help… I'm hoping the memory-loss is to do with the after-effects of the fight, and not a sign of my aging disgracefully. Conner moves his leg away, and from what I can make out, sits up and groans louder than is strictly necessary. Apparently, he wasn't banking on waking up wherever we are either.

"Dr. O, get up! We saved the world yesterday, man! There's some celebrating to do!"

Parallel dimension or not, this new development certainly cheers me up…

Kim

I break all the speeding laws on the way down to Reefside, and still don't get there fast enough. I left my place at half past eight, and only felt a slight stab of guilt at leaving four good friends alone in my place with only empty wine bottles and a questionable loaf of bread for sustenance. I then drive for forty minutes before realising I have no idea where to go when I hit Reefside, and decide to ring Jason. He'll already be up seeing to Sally due to his wife currently being comatose at my place, and will be a handy direction giver. I switch my phone to speaker, and dial his number.

"Hello?"

"Hey Jase, how do I get to Tommy's place after I exit the freeway at Reefside?" I feel a momentary pang as I think of all the times I waited for him to call and give me directions, but now I know what he's gone through, and think of how exhausted he sounded this morning, and the answering machine message he left yesterday… I have to see him. I have to make sure that he's okay.

"Kim, it's nine-fifteen in the morning. The man is going to kill you for waking him up this early in the morning, even if he does love you."

"He's already awake, I called him. He sounded awful, I think something went wrong with the battle last night, so I'm on my way there, but I don't know how to get to his place," I say impatiently.

"Are you sure he wasn't just annoyed at you waking him up?" Jason asks teasingly.

"Jason, I will kill you…" I threaten menacingly. I love him as deeply as a brother, but the girls I left behind at my place aren't the only ones with hangovers, and if I hadn't woken up suddenly convinced that something was wrong, I'd have been fast asleep in my own bed at this very moment. Instead I'm breaking the speed limit hurtling down the freeway, and have no time for people questioning my judgement. I know I'm right, and I know I have to see him.

"Think, Kim. You don't think if something had gone wrong we'd have heard about it on the news? Aliens taking over the world, and all?"

I hate Jason when he's calm and rational and all I want to do is scream and stamp my foot and tell him I'm right. "Jason. I don't care. I'm halfway there by now – yes, I know I should be only quarter of the way there, but speed limits are only guidelines. Even if I am wrong, you're the one who told me not to leave him hanging, and here I am, driving down the freeway to tell him I love him. So would you please just give me the damn directions?"

Jason sighs, and I know he's too weary to argue any longer. When I start talking quickly, he normally loses the patience to try and keep up, and just hands the phone to Trini. "You'll need to head into Reefside, but before you get there there's a road to your left called Valencia Drive. It's a couple of miles down and to your left, you should see the Jeep parked outside, but the number's 1220. Call me if you get lost, and I'll try to help you if you can see any landmarks. Just don't talk as quickly to him as you did to me before ten a.m., or he won't understand you."

"Thanks Jase. I'll call you when I'm there. I left Trini and the girls at my apartment, and don't expect her back till late afternoon – it was a long night."

"Have you been leading my wife into disrepute?" Jason asks, and I get the feeling he's only half joking. I smile as I overtake a huge truck.

"Well, we hit at least six wine bars, Kat got a cute guy's number even though she wants to declare undying love for Billy in the near future, and we didn't get to bed till four this morning." It was a fantastic time, but I can't bring back the memories of what fun we had. My mind keeps playing back to me sitting bolt upright at ten past eight, wide awake and convinced that something was wrong. I had to call Tommy, to check if he was okay, and even though he may have been half asleep, he sounded as though he'd been left for dead. I have to find out what went down.

My mind is brought back to the question by yet another groan on the other end of the phone line. "Trini's a responsible woman! She has a child and a husband!"

"Yes, and she didn't drink as much as the rest of us," I reassure Jason. "And the rest of us weren't wasted! We hadn't seen each other in a really long time, and were all kind of hyperactive. She didn't embarrass herself, or you for that matter if that's what you're worried about. Now let me get off the phone so I can concentrate on driving and not pacifying you, even though Trini's a grown woman and can do what she pleases. Stop overreacting."

"Oh, and I guess you're not overreacting at all?" Jason smirks, and it sounds as though he's cheering up slightly.

"Probably. I always overreact, that's why you love me," I point out, and he snorts on the other end of the phone. "Anyway, I'll call if I get lost. Thanks for the directions."

"You're welcome. And good luck. Nothing will be wrong, but good luck anyway."

I hang up the phone and throw it back onto the passenger seat, trying to work out how long it will take me to get to Reefside and find Tommy's place. It shouldn't take too long from the sound of Jason's directions, but it wouldn't surprise me if he forgot to warn me about an intersection where I have to turn left, or something like that. All being well, I work out I should have another hour on the road, maybe less if my luck continues and I carry on cruising 20k over the speed limit.

Five minutes go by, where I begin thinking of what I'm going to say to Tommy when I eventually get to Reefside, and the panic sets in. He's probably going to think I'm a complete nut job for driving miles and miles on a Saturday morning, just because I had a feeling something was wrong when he didn't sound particularly chirpy at 8am. But no-one else seemed to understand the panic I felt when he sounded so wary of fighting yesterday…

I drive on, torn between the nagging fear that I'm completely overreacting and the constant belief that the only thing I can do is go to him and make sure he's okay.

Tommy

"Saved the world?" I ask, fully aware that this somewhat obvious question is not going to do much to demonstrate my questionable brainpower to my students, but not really caring. Attempting to sit up has done nothing for my equilibrium, so I sink into a somewhat more comfortable position of leaning on my elbows, with my head simultaneously buried into my chest. Conner seems to be everywhere at the same time; checking me to make sure I'm still alive or haven't fallen back asleep, then bouncing to the other end of the room to do god knows what. I wish he'd settle down for two seconds and just tell me what happened, because I really can't remember…

"Guys, you're awake!" Kira says, and I manage to raise my head back to a normal level, grateful for the less harsh tones of our only female ranger. Kira looks as tired as I feel, but has a radiant smile from ear to ear, and has brought Ethan, Trent and Hayley downstairs with her. "You guys completely passed out as soon as we got here last night. We didn't even get to have a party – I had to listen to Trent and Ethan talk for hours about the merits of handcrafted art versus virtual multimedia." She pulls a face, and sits down. "Believe me, I'd much rather have had the party."

"Guys… before things go any further, can you humour your poor teacher and remind him again exactly what happened during the fight yesterday?" I plead, not even attempting to make excuses. My head hurts, all my muscles feel as though they've been put through a mangle, and if I'm understanding my students correctly, they seem to be telling me that we managed to stop Mesogog completely last night.

The four younger rangers all look at me as though I have premature onset dementia, but Hayley seems more inclined to explain to me, although she can't resist a jibe at my expense.

"I never thought you'd forget a whole fight, Tommy. I mean, I knew your memory was bad, but this bad?"

"I remember up until about two hours into the battle," I say slowly, as more pieces of my memory come flooding back. "There was a disagreement…"

"I'll say!" Ethan interjects, a worried look on his face. "I'd never seen you guys fight so badly!"

"I was listening in on the communications link, and heard it all," Hayley continues, after shooting a warning look at Ethan. "Kira volunteered to run out of her Zord and grab the box with the gem inside, if someone would provide another distraction to let her get past the guard. They were shielding the box pretty well, using a wall of Tyrannodrones to prevent us getting a clear hit – hitting them would have lessened the impact on the gem, and there were no guarantees a clear hit would even do it. Conner took exception to this, and said if anyone should go, it should be him as the Red Ranger, and the latest in a long line of, if I can remember correctly, 'extremely cool leaders who never let anything faze them'." I quickly look at Conner, and notice with amusement his face has gone as red as his uniform, and he seems to have developed an intense fascination with the wall. "Anyway, you stopped them, Tommy, and said that you weren't putting their lives at risk, and that you would go."

"You guys just wouldn't come to an agreement," Trent observes, shaking his head. "Of course, it didn't actually help that we had to fight at the same time. If you hadn't been arguing, we could have finished them off a whole lot sooner."

"Did… did we both go?" I ask, images filling my mind all of a sudden.

"Well, it would have been pretty stupid if you hadn't used your invisibility," Conner said sheepishly. "So I ran out of the Megazord and pretended to surrender. I got them to face the other way, while you grabbed the box as their backs were turned, quite literally."

"Who'd have thought that some of the most vicious enemies in the universe could have been defeated by such simple trickery?" Kira observed dreamily. "Dr. O ran back to the Megazord, and they were none the wiser."

"Conner had to keep them talking for ages while we tried to shatter the gem," Ethan continued, and as he says it I vaguely remember jumping up and down on the seemingly-fragile shard of gem, so frustrated that nothing would shatter it. "I think he had to create some wild surrendering document or treaty on the spot just so he could keep them talking."

"Did I come back here at one point?" I ask, as a memory of being back at the Command Centre flits into view.

"You came back to see if I could help," Hayley reminds me. "We tried everything, pliers, hitting with a wrench, and none of it worked… then Trent had an idea."

"I knew you hadn't advocated using the gem," Trent says hesitantly, "but I thought that placing them together might let us harness the power without needing a sixth ranger. Of course, the theory was based on there only being six gems in the first place, so it was a long shot, but…"

"It worked," I say quietly, as my defective memory finally cranks into gear, and the events become a whole lot clearer.

I raced back to the battlesite, remembering as I left my place to re-engage invisibility, and jumped back into the Megazord.

"Is Conner coming back?"

"We told him to make up some story about needing to check the terms of surrender with us," Ethan informed me, "but made sure he knew to come back on his own. I think he said any presence of theirs might rub our faces in the fact that we lost, or something equally Conner-like."

The battle had abated while I'd been away, as Mesogog had evidently bought Conner's surrender story, but Ethan, Trent and Kira's body language suggested a deep tiredness.

"If this works, guys, it will all be over," I reassured them. I didn't say it would work, because I didn't know. But it had to work, because we were right out of options, and from the sounds of it, about to sign a surrendering treaty. If this didn't work, there would be no more world as we knew it.

Not that there was any pressure, or anything…

Trent nodded tiredly, and Kira and Ethan followed suit. A few seconds later, Conner re-appeared in the Megazord, and stormed over to us. "Can we do this quickly, so I don't have to listen to any more of their insufferable gloating? If I hear Elsa saying 'I'm surprised it took you Earthlings so long to recognise your true leaders' one more time, I'm going to shatter her with a wrench instead of the gem."

"Do we need to take them out of their holders?" Ethan asks quietly. Won't we have to demorph for that?"

"Try just placing our bracelets together," Kira suggested.

"We should get out of the Zords for this," I said tersely, not quite able to contemplate that this would be the end, no matter the outcome. And right then, the outcome was looking a lot more like fail than pass. "If it doesn't work, any explosion would destroy the Zords, and leave us even less power than we already have."

"The evil smelly-breathed ones are waiting for me to bring you guys over, anyway," Conner said awkwardly. "We could make as if to head over there, and then place the gems together. If it doesn't work…"

"We run," Kira and Trent said together.

It was a foolhardy plan, but I couldn't come up with anything better. I couldn't even provide a pep talk, or tell the four of them just how well they'd done as Rangers. All I could do was gesture silently towards the door that would lead us to our fate…

…and then my memory goes blank again. "What happened after we left the Zords?"

Kira's eyes are shining with the memory. "I don't think even Trent thought the plan was going to work, but seeing as Conner had managed to agree signing the universe away," she glared at Conner, who went bright red again and looked as though he was about to protest the slander of his name. "We really had no other choice. We got out, and stood in front of the Zords in a kind of circle, then put our arms into the middle so the bracelets were touching."

The poignancy of this being so like the team celebrations I performed years ago is not lost on me.

"The power of them all kind of, I don't know, congealed into one massive beam," Conner says quietly, moving away from his previous station against the wall to come closer to the five of us. "It took a bit, no, a lot of controlling.."

"Says the guy who got knocked flat on his face when it first happened," Ethan snickers, and Conner glowers at him.

"As I was saying. Once it formed the beam, obviously Mesogog and Elsa knew they'd been tricked by us, but they weren't letting go without a fight. They tried to attack us using the Tyrannodrones while we were still trying to control the beam, but eventually, we did it!"

"We managed to walk the way back here, but I guess you and Conner must have given more power or something, because you guys just collapsed right on the floor and we couldn't wake you up. We were really worried until Hayley said you were just exhausted and must be sleeping," Trent informs me.

"I checked the radar and all our data early this morning, once I'd navigated past you two sleeping beauties," Hayley adds, "and it looks as though you really did get them. There's no sign of their presence – Ethan wasn't sure, because there was no evidence of remains, but I'm almost completely sure you fried them with the last use of your beam."

"Yeah, and even if they aren't dead, they're gone," Kira chimes in. "Now they know we an use the gem's power without a Ranger to correspond with it, I don't think anyone would dare take us on."

"Hang on – are you sure the power isn't drained?" I ask suddenly, bewildered by this time of events. "I figured using them together that way would drain all the power we have."

Everyone turns to Hayley, who shakes her head. "I ran a few quick tests last night. I'd need to do more detailed tests on the gems to ascertain, but it looks as though you guys have enough juice left to fight still, although they're nowhere near full power."

"Do they recharge?" Trent asks, and Hayley shrugs.

"I think that's something we'll have to wait to find out about. I really don't know, but with this escapade, anything's possible."

"Would you guys be willing to fight again, hypothetically?" I ask curiously. "I wouldn't blame you at all if you wanted to walk away, you know. The whole reason we decided upon escalation was because everyone was getting kind of sick of the whole thing."

"As long as it isn't an immediate possibility, I don't see why not," Kira says. "I mean… it's kind of what we are now, isn't it?"

"The use of our powers in that way will have scared everyone else off who was looking to attempt an invasion," Ethan adds. "But if anything happens again in the future and we're called upon there's no way I wouldn't do something to help."

Trent and Conner both nod, and I would feel proud, happy, elated… instead I just feel incredibly tired. I don't know if Trent's theory of Conner and I using more power than the others to form the beam is true, but from looking at Conner, I'd say we're both pretty exhausted. "Even though we're not, you know, needed, I'd appreciate a meeting after school on Monday," I propose, knowing I'm in no fit state to deal with anything regarding the future now, when my head feels like concrete and all I want to do is sleep. "Same time as training was, just to discuss the options available and see if Hayley has any more definite results over the power left in our gems."

Everyone nods, and looks awkward. "It's going to feel weird going back to normal life now," Conner says haltingly, and Kira, Ethan and Trent nod emphatically. "For what seems like forever, we've been putting practically everything else on hold to save the world, and now… it's over."

"Try to have what passes for a 'normal' weekend," Hayley says comfortingly. "We can have a more articulate discussion on Monday."

The other four nod, and eventually traipse out of the room and upstairs. "How did they explain being here last night to their parents?" I ask Hayley, the thought only just having occurred to me.

"A sleepover at Trent's house was put forward as the best explanation. Trent's father was out of town," Hayley explains, then looks sheepish. "I should really go over to the Cyberspace… are you sure you're going to be okay on your own?"

"If I was capable of thought, that would be a more appropriate question," I say ruefully. "I'm going to crash on the couch for a little while and put off making sense of the whole thing til the afternoon."

"I'll call you later, then," Hayley says, and is about to depart before a thought suddenly takes her and she turns back to face me. "By the way, did you answer the phone earlier? I heard it ring, but the machine never picked up."

Kim's phone call hits me, and I automatically look at my watch. Nine thirty… how fast is she driving? "It was Kim," I admit somewhat reluctantly to someone I know has held a candle for me for some years. "I don't know how, but she knew something was wrong – she said she was coming straight down here, but I don't know whether she is or not."

Hayley's eyes betray nothing of what she is thinking, but she smiles anyway, and says "That's good. At least you won't be on your own when the shock finally hits."

"Trust me, I remember the 'suddenly-a-civilian- shock incredibly well," I remind her. "Have a good day at work." I walk with her up the stairs, and to the door. "It's going to be bizarre for you as well, you realise."

"I'm going to be dragging the five of you into the Cyberspace far too often to ever miss you," she says, with a grin on her face. "I'll talk to you later." Hayley opens and shuts the door, and then is gone, leaving me to trudge the last few steps to my couch, and collapse there for a while.

Just shutting my eyes for a couple of minutes, and then I'll get up…

Kim

Trust me, I will never bemoan having persuasive powers ever again. After being pulled over for speeding twenty minutes outside of Reefside, I managed to convince the cop who threatened me with a ticket that it was my first speeding offence (it so isn't) and that I would pay more attention to the road in future.

I will, I really will, as long as I get there quicker…

After a slightly hairy moment pulling off the freeway, I find myself heading straight down Valencia Drive, and peering like a short-sighted badger at all the house numbers, trying to find Tommy's house. I finally get there, and screech the tyres so fast in pulling in that I think I woke the entire neighbourhood up. If anyone's still asleep at ten-thirty on a Saturday morning, that is.

I jump out of the car without bothering to lock the door – it looks like a great neighbourhood, and I don't think my car's in any danger. I run up the drive, and knock on the door, at first lightly and then frantically.

Where the hell is he?

I consider panicking, and then realise I'm already there. The most obvious solution in the world escapes me for a few moments, during which time I hyperventilate, consider the possibility of him actually having been kidnapped by aliens and me dying an old maid. Then I realise the door could be open, turn the handle, and am confronted with the sight of a snoring Tommy sprawled out on his couch – sprouting a grazed cheek and torn T-shirt, but very much alive.

I don't know whether to let him sleep or wake him up so I can hit him. The latter is pretty much denied me however, as he's apparently so soundly asleep not even elephants could wake him up, or my phone ringing, which is what happens as I decide to find the kitchen to make myself a sorely needed cup of coffee.

"Hello?" I whisper, thinking it won't wake Tommy but hoping it will.

"Hello, to the worst hostess in the world," Aisha says teasingly.

"Hey, the party last night wasn't so bad!" I protest.

"Well, the breakfast in bed was non-existent, and the note saying 'Gone to Reefside, bread in the cupboard' really didn't make up for it, I'm afraid," Aisha says sarcastically. "So, you there yet? Has the world ended, or were you overreacting?"

"I had to let myself in, he's sound asleep. He looks pretty beat up, but I'm pretty sure the world hasn't ended because you're still harassing me," I complain. "I'm sorry I skipped out on you guys, but you can't tell me you wouldn't have done the same if it had been Rocky."

"True enough," Aisha admits. "He called a couple of minutes ago, which is why I woke up. He wants to take me to dinner Monday night, which is definitely a step in the right direction. Are you coming back tonight for crisis talks and fashion advice?"

"Of course I am. If I'm worried about the state of the sleeping boy, I'll just pile him in the backseat and bring him back with me," I say. "Is anyone else awake yet?"

"No, everyone's in various states of disarray on your living room floor. Tanya needs to leave by noon though, so I'll have to wake her up pretty soon. How long will you be?"

I sigh, and lean against the kitchen table, giving up my search for coffee. "I really have no idea. Now the panic has subsided, I have no idea what to say to him."

"Don't be an idiot, just tell him you love him! Kim, you drove all the way down there, at least say something meaningful. I expect nothing less, and if you tell me anything different when you get back here I will send you right back to Reefside to get it right a second time."

"This is a second chance, remember?" I say ruefully, remembering our ill-fated relationship over ten years ago.

"Second chances are given for a reason, Kim. Now go for it!"

Empowered by my friend's words, I feel much better. "Okay. But when Trini wakes up, tell her she has to maintain in front of Jason that she wasn't wasted last night – I had to do damage control when I called him asking for directions earlier."

"She's going to have to get over a certain hangover first," Aisha says cynically, "but I'll pass it on. See you later, preferably with man in tow."

"Yes, boss," I say sarcastically, and hang up the phone, only to be frightened out of my skin when I look up to see a very confused-seeming Tommy standing in the doorframe, rubbing his eyes and looking like he's seeing a ghost.

"Kim?" he says croakily, and I can't help it, I rush towards him and give him the biggest hug ever. I hold him to me so closely that if he didn't have any cracked ribs from the fight before, he's sure as hell got them now.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he asks sleepily into my hair, not letting go of me for which I am greatly pleased.

"I knew your memory wasn't any better than in high school," I tease, not moving either. "I called you earlier, remember? You sounded as though you'd been hit by a truck, and I was worried, so I drove down here."

"What time is it?" he says, yawning loudly and letting go so he can look at his watch. "Is it ten-thirty in the morning?"

I roll my eyes. "Tell me where your coffee is, and go and sit down and try and wake up. I don't care if you just saved the world, but you sure aren't making sense."

"Top cupboard beside the fridge," Tommy says, and then kisses me on top of my head. "I'm so glad you came… apparently we saved the world last night, although I don't remember any of it."

"Try and remember it, while I make you coffee," I say, fighting hard to keep off the grin, caused by a delightfully sleepy Tommy, and the fact that he kissed me. He sighs, and shuffles back into the next room, and I finally locate and make coffee.

I bring two mugs of hot coffee into the sitting room, and sit down next to Tommy, who thankfully looks more awake and hopefully more coherent. He takes one of the mugs from me, and drinks gratefully.

"Thanks."

"You're welcome," I say, and then continue carefully. "Do you remember anymore of what happened?"

"I got filled in this morning, don't worry," he says, and puts the coffee down on the table next to the couch where he proceeds to tell me what his team told him earlier this morning. I listen carefully, at turn enthralled, shocked, and downright horrified at how close they came to apparently surrendering the security of the world.

"What the hell were you guys thinking?" I ask incredulously when Tommy mentions the 'surrender treaty'.

"I have absolutely no idea, although believe me, if you ever meet Conner, you'll appreciate how it's an idea only he can come up with," Tommy says, and tentatively pulls me closer to him. I guess he hasn't realised that I drove all the way down here to tell him I love him… or maybe he's realised, but doesn't want to assume. I keep quiet for now, and let him carry on. "It felt so much like the end… whether the end of good, or the end of bad, I don't know. It felt more surreal than any other battle ever did. I still can't believe it's over."

"How do you know it's over?" I ask curiously.

"We formed the power of our gems, along with the unclaimed gem, into a huge beam of energy by placing them together. At the time, I think Hayley was unsure as to whether we managed to catch them in it or if they teleported away, but there's absolutely no sign of them in any of our scans. The gems are seriously depleted in power, so I guess we're finished either way. There's enough power to fight a couple times, but no more than that."

"How do you feel about that?" I ask curiously, really not knowing how he'd feel about that. Until a week ago, I didn't even know he was a Ranger again, and now I have to ask how he feels about this being over? Time definitely moves fast.

"I don't know," he sighs, and lies his head back against the cushion of the couch. "I'm glad, I'm worried, I'm sad… You know the drill, Kim. It's going to take a couple weeks to get this completely figured out."

"I know," I say sympathetically, laying back so my head is next to his, and looking at the ceiling. "You know I'm going to be with you every step of the way in this, right? And that I'd have been with you even if you'd still have been a Ranger?"

"Well, I was kind of hoping, but didn't want to presume…" he says quietly, but fm the wicked grin currently spreading across his face he's more than pleased. "You know it's going to be hell dating a science teacher, right? Even without the added workload of being a ranger, there's all that marking, and wearing blazers."

"Yeah, and the hundreds of holiday days you guys get, my heart bleeds," I say sarcastically. "I feel more sorry for you, you're the one dating somebody who's unemployed. I'll be hanging around all day, taunting you with my lack of things to do while you're marking your fabled pop quizzes."

"Unemployed, really?" Tommy asks startledly, bringing a sudden halt to the teasing and lifting his head off the back of the couch. "What happened?"

"I quit," I shrug, and take another sip of my coffee. "Aisha suggested training as a paramedic, but I don't know. I've got some money saved up, so I have some time to decide."

"Oh well. That just means you'll have more time to have my dinner on the table by the time I get home from school," Tommy says nonchalantly, and looks at me innocently when I hit him on the arm. "What? I'm providing tasks for the unemployed, there's no need to hit me!"

"I know you're feeling better when you start making fun of me," I pout, when inside I'm elated. I meant it 100 when I said I'd be behind Tommy every step of the way no matter what happened, but is it possible that we finally have a shot at a normal life?

Somehow, he manages to get my attention back by kissing me again, only this time it definitely isn't on the top of the head. A long, luxurious kiss, which only serves to throw all thoughts of hitting him straight out of my mind, it simply makes me think that I don't care whether or not we have a normal, or a unique life, as long as we're together…

"So, have I done enough to earn a dinner yet?" Tommy asks when he finally pulls away from me, although he manages to leave his wandering hands exactly where they are, in a precarious position underneath the hem of my top and right next to where I'm particularly ticklish. I wonder if he remembers…

"Maybe a cup of coffee," I demur, "but not quite enough for a whole meal. You know, there's all that potato peeling to do, and I don't really consider myself a housewife. I would need a hell of a lot of persuading."

He grins a split second before pouncing and tickling me viciously on the sides. I scream loudly and jump up from the sofa, hoping to run away as far as possible without leaving his side. I run upstairs, not knowing where I'm going but having a pretty good idea.

And as I almost fall up the stairs, and eventually get caught by my stronger and faster companion, I know we're going to be just fine.

Author's notes: I'm aware of the whole Trent's father/Mesogog plot hole. That will be resolved in the upcoming epilogue, as well as the Rocky/Aisha problem, and sorting out Kim's career. It should be out in the next week, all being well. Please review, all comments are much appreciated!