Disclaimer: Power Rangers, the characters of Jason Lee Scott and Tommy Oliver as well as related matter belong to Saban()BVE Entertainment. I'm making no money of their use (unfortunately ...).

Warning: Rated T FOR NOW. - This is slash – meaning it deals with a sexual relationship between two males. 'Don't like, don't read!' definitely applies!
Note: In response to the PRSW 22 challenge on LiveJournal – a list of 22 themes to be incorporated in the story. This is theme #10, "Kissing In The Rain".

Note II:
An adult ( explicit) version of this is being posted to various archives; if you're of legal age to be reading that (and haven't already found it), drop me a private message, including an honest age statement, and I'll send you a link. :-) The story starts during PR Dino Thunder, right after Tommy was freed from the stasis/enforced morph. Please pass the feedback box on your way out? DB

More Than Friends And Brothers

Chapter 1: Yours For The Taking


Dagmar Buse

It was late, and Tommy was beyond tired; the long days of having to remain in his morphed form had definitely taken their toll on both his body and mind. The kids had wanted to throw a party to celebrate his release, but thankfully Hayley had seen that he wasn't up to much of anything right now and gently but firmly sent the young Rangers back to their respective homes before leaving herself with a stern admonition to get some rest – or else.

-And Hayley's 'or elses' are nothing to laugh about!- Tommy shuddered at the memory of some things she'd pulled on him during college when he'd disregarded her warnings. Not an experience he cared to relive.

He revelled in the silence as he prowled through his house. It was good to be able to see once more without the filtered light through his helmet's visor; even better to touch things again, feel the smoothness of wood and steel in the kitchen, the nubby fabric covering his couch, the clear glass of a window pane. He craved nourishment as well, the smell and texture of coffee, of crisp vegetables or breakfast pancakes … his stomach growled, reminding him that it had been far too long even since the last time he'd availed himself of the liquid rations he'd consumed. However, he was too exhausted to care or even hunt for a snack. Briefly, he was drawn towards his desk, but as his hand shifted from a stack of papers – had a material as old as this ever been so smooth before? – to his accumulated mail, he stopped.

No way was he going there. Not now, when he still felt so raw. The longish envelope with the tasteful pink border had arrived two days after he'd been freed from his prison of amber and at least regained mobility … and for once he'd been glad he could hide behind the façade of duty and his Ranger uniform. Not that the message inside had come wholly unexpected; he and Kat had drifted towards a break-up for quite some time, but it had still reached him at a time when he'd been vulnerable.

-Well, more so than usual, anyway.-

He sighed, took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose tiredly. Tommy knew he should try and get some rest; he was lucky as it was that tomorrow was Friday and he could take another day off before the weekend. But he had to go back to work on Monday or Principal Randall would have his hide. -Not that Mesogog is likely to lay off the attacks for three whole days, either!- But despite everything he was still too keyed up … sleep would be impossible right now, he acknowledged ruefully.

Trying to blank his mind of everything, he drifted back into the kitchen. Just tonight, he could surely permit himself a stiff drink or three for once? A bottle of brandy – a twelve-star Greek brand, the only sort which didn't taste kind of soapy to him – was far at the back of one of the cupboards, and he splashed a little into the first glass he could find. The alcohol burned slightly as he swallowed the first mouthful, and Tommy grimaced, but he nevertheless welcomed the warmth that soon spread through his stomach. Pouring himself a refill, he wandered back into the living room; darkness was falling outside, and storm clouds were gathering at the horizon. It probably was going to rain soon.

-At least it'll save me from having to water the yard.-

He lived too far out of town to have to worry about nosy or concerned neighbors, but habits instilled by his parents over the years died hard; wherever the Olivers had lived, there had always been a lush green lawn around the house – the one familiar thing linking their homes until the family finally settled in Angel Grove. Even now, his mother was wont to badger his father into yardwork every weekend. Tommy smiled briefly; he realized that his mind was focussing on irrelevancies, but it was a welcome change from the near-constant state of crisis he'd been in lately. Now if only Mesogog and his goons would grant him a little more time to recover, until he'd found his mental equilibrium again!

Tommy snagged a magazine he didn't truly want to read from the coffee table and was just about to pull a reading lamp closer to the corner he'd decided to crash in – it would hopefully at least take his mind off of things a little – when the doorbell rang.

"Dammit!" he muttered under his breath, annoyed at the disturbance when all he really wanted was some peace and quiet. A quick glance at his watch showed that it was barely nine o'clock; not all that late, but he wasn't expecting any visitors, so who could it be? -Probably just one of the kids; either they've forgotten something, or it's a life-and-death question. Like, do they really have to do their homework assignments despite the recent fight. Tough luck, kids, the answer's still yes. Man, we never were that bad at seventeen!-

He caught a flash of red fender-shaped metal next to the front door as he went over, and groaned inwardly. -Conner. I should've known … and I have no idea how long it'll take to get rid of him quickly! He's a good kid, shaping up nicely into a capable Red Ranger, but really, sometimes he's denser than the rocks shielding the Dino Lair! At least he hasn't just barged in for once!- Running a hand through his hair, Tommy took a deep breath before opening the door, forcing a smile while mentally trying to find the right words to send the boy home without biting his head off. -I'll give you exactly five minutes, kid, or I'll turn into a T. Rex ready to attack faster than you can say 'Jurassic Park'!-

The door swung inward. "What have you forgotten now, Conner?" Tommy groused … or was trying to, anyway; before he could complete the simple question, he was swept aside by a veritable force of nature.

"What the hell is going on with you?"

Tommy just stood there, completely bemused. Not only did the storm outside decide to break loose that very moment, a torrent of rain surrounding his house within seconds, but another, no less forceful gale had entered his house and hovered before him, ready to destroy anything in its path if necessary.

That storm was about Tommy's height, much more broadly-built and was staring at him with fierce eyes that were darker than the night sky outside … and about as welcome as the rain was to the dried-out soil.

"Jase," he murmured, a genuine smile he hadn't thought himself capable of tonight washing over his drained features.

Large hands gripped his shoulders firmly, and he was shaken once.

"Dammit, are you okay? I've been worried sick about you!"

Tommy chuckled. -I should've known.- He grasped Jason's wrists in return – both in greeting and to loosen the hard grip. "Yeah, I'm fine."

Jason let go of his best friend after giving him a quick once-over. Slightly reassured that there was no visible injury at least, he gave Tommy his best glare. "You don't look fine," he grumbled. "More like something no respectable cat would drag in – as my mother would say. What the hell happened to you this time? Bad guy, job or love life?"

Tommy grimaced. All of his friends had been surprised, a little bit envious and greatly concerned when he'd informed them of his recall to Ranger duty without them, but overall very supportive, leaving him with admonitions to call on any of them for help (or just moral support) if needed. So far, he hadn't felt it necessary, even though he missed all of his former teammates, and Jason most of all. They'd always made the best team – and not just because of their deep friendship. Which was undoubtedly the main reason why Jason had shown up so unexpectedly. Both of them could always sense when the other was in trouble of any kind, and deep down Tommy was glad that this time was no exception. What he didn't like was that he could trust Jason to see right through him, as usual … and go straight to the heart of the matter. Also as usual. Knowing that it wouldn't do any good to prevaricate, he allowed himself to let go of all pretenses.

"Kinda all of the above," he murmured, gesturing Jason inside.

"That bad, huh?"

"You have no idea."

Jason strode towards the living room – easy to do, as it was the only lit area in the house. He hadn't had a chance to visit Tommy before, but he gave the décor only a fleeting glance; there would be time for a more thorough inspection later. It hadn't been easy to clear his own schedule for a few days, but the gnawing feeling in his gut had left him little choice. When he hadn't heard from Tommy for several days, Jason decided enough was enough, put in for some leave time and drove down the coast to Reefside to check up in person on his Bro.

Waiting for Tommy to follow him, Jason was still glowering. "Right. And you didn't think to contact me – or any of the gang, for that matter? Email, phone, hell, even a damn letter would've been enough! Just in case you've forgotten, we're your friends, man – we don't hear from you when you're back in uniform, we worry!" he growled.

It had occurred to Tommy more than once to call his old teammates, but he'd stopped himself from doing so. For one thing, the only person who possibly could've helped was Billy – but he was on his honeymoon with Trini, something that had been long overdue, and they'd all vowed at the wedding that nothing short of the apocalypse should disturb that. For another, it had really been kind of … well, embarrassing if he'd had to admit that he, the most experienced leader of any Ranger team Earth had ever seen, had first been trapped in a giant amber bead like some prehistoric mosquito – Tommy could just hear Rocky and Zack having a field day with that tidbit – and secondly had been unable to demorph afterwards. So, he'd done nothing.

"I couldn't," he mumbled when Jason was obviously waiting for an answer. Hoping that he'd leave it at that.

No such luck.

"Why not?"

When Tommy didn't reply, just shrugged and looked away, Jason rolled his eyes heavenward at his stubbornness and grabbed his arms, shaking him once more. "Talk to me, Tom."

Tommy felt himself blush. "I, ah, I was stuck in a stasis field recently," he admitted. "And then I couldn't power down."

"What?" Jason stopped himself from asking the million-and-one questions that cropped up immediately, then drew a deep breath. Obviously, this was more complicated than he'd thought. "Never mind, I heard you. Now back off and start at the beginning." It was said evenly enough, but Tommy recognized a command when he heard one. Sheepishly, he obeyed.

At one point during his narrative, which was interrupted often by sharp questions, Jason herded him back into the kitchen, told him in no uncertain terms to sit and began rummaging through various cupboards. Within minutes, the mouth-watering smell of bacon and eggs sizzling on the stove wafted towards Tommy's nose. Once again, his stomach growled, loud enough for Jason to hear.

The one-time Gold Ranger grinned. "Hungry, eh?"

Tommy's smile came easier now. "Nah. My stomach's just wondering if I've cut my throat lately."

"Thought so. Well, I'm almost done. Where are the plates?"

"Left corner cupboard."

"Okay." Deftly, Jason transferred a goodly portion of bacon and eggs onto one, then plonked it down before his friend. "Eat. And don't stop talking."

Suddenly ravenous, Tommy was already chewing. His mouth full, he just nodded and continued his story while Jason served himself a much smaller helping. By the time they were both done, he had heard everything that had happened to the newest Ranger team since the last time Tommy had called.

"Man, why do you always shout 'me, me' when bad luck is on offer?" Jason grumbled, still exasperated even though relief that no lasting harm had been done was evident in his expression. "Do you enjoy making yourself a target, or what?"

Tommy grimaced. "Not really. It was just the way things fell – and better me than one of the kids. After all, I'm numero six – well, five this time – again; the surplus Ranger, if you will. It would've been worse if the regular team had been one person short."

Jason frowned, not liking the conclusion, but having been the 'extra' himself, he knew Tommy was right. "I guess. But couldn't you have contacted m-, um, us once you were out of that amber? If nothing else, we could've given advice or something …"

"I thought about it, believe me. Especially since the kids have seen my video journal where I told them about the other teams before … you. They probably would've accepted your help."

"Then why didn't you?" Jason was feeling slightly hurt; didn't Tommy trust them with his newest team?

Tommy laughed shortly. "Several reasons. One, they have to learn to function in a crisis without a mentor – like we did. If you remember, there were several times when Zordon was not there."

"Yeah, and we never liked any of them. But okay; go on."

"Two, they still had Hayley. She's as important as I to the team, if not more so."

"Mm." Jason grunted, conceding the point. "Why do I get the feeling there's more?"

Sheepishly, Tommy shrugged, toying with his fork. "Iwaskindaembarrassed," he mumbled, slurring the words together quickly. Having admitted it out loud to his best friend, though, he went on in a stronger voice. "But that aside, I wanted – no, I needed to know that I could function without you for once. You guys have been my safety net so long … no offense, I honestly appreciate every little bit of help you and the gang have given me in the past, but it feels good to know that I can go it alone if I have to."

"But dammit, that's the point, Tommy – you don't have to go it alone!"

"I know. Still …"

Jason wanted to argue, but found that he couldn't. His mind worked too similarly to Tommy's, after all, so he understood exactly why his friend hadn't asked for help. "Hmph." It was a very non-committal sound, but he managed to convey his acceptance, however grudgingly it was given, nonetheless.

"Besides, have you ever tried writing a letter, dialing a phone or using a computer with your uniform gloves on? These things aren't exactly made for delicate operations!"

Snorting a half-laugh, Jason nodded. Being unable to demorph had also prevented Tommy from pulling off his gloves, obviously, and while they were excellent protection, Zord control panels were sturdy by design and intent. Definitely a far cry from modern cell phone buttons or computer keyboards. "Okay, okay. You couldn't. Okay."

"Told ya."

"Don't sound so smug about being right for once, Bro," Jason said warningly. "Just because your reasons are good now doesn't mean they'll be the same next time."

"Trust me, I'll do all I can to see that there won't be a next time!" Tommy replied fervently.

"You better."


Having stacked the dishes in the sink, the two men wandered back into the living room at last. Finding seats next to each other, Tommy related more of what had happened to him since the last time he'd spoken to any of his friends, finding a catharsis of sorts in being able to talk to someone at last who understood, who knew exactly what he'd been going through from experience … and who wasn't going to judge him. The one person who would always be a constant in his life, no questions asked. -Plenty of comments, maybe, even some – okay, sometimes a lot of – scolding, but no blame.-

"Thanks, Jase," he murmured at last when he was done.

Jason didn't need to ask what he was being thanked for. "Anytime, Bro."

They were quiet after that, each lost in their own thoughts. The silence was not uncomfortable, though; just a companionable time of sharing a lull in their busy lives. It was nearing midnight now, and the summer storm outside had blown itself out. The only thing they could hear, aside from the gentle ticking of a clock, was the rain which continued to fall, its gentle thrum like a heartbeat on the roof. Tommy was still tired, but not so much that he wanted their evening to end just yet. Talking to Jason had left him empty, but also strangely invigorated – as if the simple act of unburdening himself to his Bro had helped halve the load of responsibility he was carrying. He smiled, closed his eyes and leaned back against the sofa's headrest, soaking in the knowledge that he was no longer alone.

He was brought back to reality, though, when Jason's deep voice asked a question that had so far fallen by the wayside because of weightier, more immediate matters.

"So, how do you feel about Kat calling it quits after so long?"

Tommy sighed and opened his eyes again. Staring at the ceiling, he took his time sorting his thoughts. At last, he answered.

"Kinda … okay, I guess."

Jason snorted. "Come on, you can't tell me you don't feel at least a little bummed."

"Well, yeah, but … I do, and I don't. We've both known that it was only a matter of time before something had to give; Kat was just the one who said it first. Whatever was between us … it was good, very good while it lasted, but neither one of us was ready to adjust their life to include the other. She's with a touring ballet company, and now that she's finally gotten out of the chorus line, or whatever you call it, I can't ask her to give that up to settle here in a small town like Reefside with me. Nor does she want to, really; she's too much of a big-city girl. I could tell myself I had no time for a family as long as I was caught up with research and my doctorate, but now that that's done with … I got this job, I found – much to my surprise – that I like teaching, and have no plans to give it up anytime soon."

"In other words, classic impasse?"

"Uh huh. So yeah, I'm sorry it's over, but there's no hard feelings. I guess it just wasn't meant to be. I hope she'll be happy, like Kim."

"Even if neither of them is happy with you?" Jason probed gently. Kimberly had become engaged last year, to a fellow gymnast she'd met at an international competition. They were planning to retire after the 2006 Panglobal Games and open a training center together.

"Definitely." There was no trace of doubt in Tommy's voice. Nevertheless, he turned to meet Jason's eyes. "But if you have to know … if I had to put how I'm feeling this very moment, about everything, into one word … I'd have to say 'empty'." He thought it over again, then sighed, a sudden wave of depression hitting him.

"Yeah, empty sounds right. Like … nobody loves me, y'know?" He sounded more than a little despondent and hated himself for it. -And if they do, it never lasts.-

Tommy expected Jason to protest that statement and was surprised when no immediate denial was forthcoming. When he finally replied, it was not what he'd imagined he'd hear, and said so quietly that Tommy nearly missed it.

"I do."

It took a second or two for the full meaning to sink in, and when it did, Tommy came back with the most intelligent, thought-out answer he could think of. "Huh?"

Jason didn't stir from his comfortable slouch, but regarded Tommy with steady eyes. "I love you," he repeated, his voice warm, very matter-of-fact … and very sure.

Tommy swallowed. -He doesn't mean that the way it sounded. He can't mean it like that!- Hastily, he collected his scrambled wits.

"Er, thanks. Ditto, I guess."

"You 'guess'?" Jason asked, amused. He'd known … suspected … he'd get a reply in that vein once he revealed his feelings to his best friend, and wasn't disappointed. If anything, Tommy's momentary slack-jawed surprise was worth letting it drop so casually into their conversation.

"I, um, yeah. You're my best friend; the brother I always wanted to have, even if I'd never met David. As close, or maybe even closer than family. Sure, I-" he gulped, "I love you, too." Tommy found himself actually blushing as he spoke the three innocent little words. Not that he didn't mean them, but he'd always thought his feelings towards Jason were something just understood, not to be put so succinctly. "It's not the same, though," he added defensively.

"Why wouldn't it be?" Jason was watching him steadily from the armchair. Tommy snorted.

"Oh, come on, Jase – you don't mean it the way you said, or might've said, them to Emily." The dark eyes never wavered, and Tommy started to squirm under their scrutiny. "D-do you?" he whispered, suddenly uncertain.

Jason tilted his head. "I've never told Emily, or another person outside my family, that I loved them."


There was no doubt that Jason spoke the simple truth; he would never lie to Tommy about something like that. Tommy could feel his heart starting to beat like a triphammer in his chest.

"What … what do you mean by it, then?" he managed to croak. Damn, he wanted to play things cool, but his voice gave him away all too easily.

Jason slowly got up and went to stand directly before his friend. "Whatever you want it to mean. I don't put qualifiers on my feelings; you should know that." He inhaled deeply and squared his shoulders. "It can be just an acknowledgement of what you mean to me … or it can be more. Maybe even what you need. I know I needed to say it for once. Make of it what you will."

He slowly turned away and went towards the door. "But … if you do decide it's what you need, you're gonna have to ask for it, Tommy. All I can say is, I'm offering you whatever I can give, whichever way you want it. For once, though, you'll have to ask."

Stunned speechless, Tommy sat on the couch and watched Jason go outside. The door closed behind him with a soft snick that sounded louder than an explosion in the nightly stillness. He waited for a car's engine to roar to life, but when it didn't, he sank back into his seat, his thoughts a whirling mass of confusion.

-Or mess.- Yes, that was much closer to the mark. -Jason … Jason loves me. He. Loves. ME. Oh my God.- Tommy didn't have to speculate about the implications of that statement; he knew, just like that. His best friend, one of the – no, the finest person it had ever been his privilege to know, was offering him the moon on a silver platter … and he'd thought he was just reaching for a distant light.

-All I ever wanted, or thought I might need. Just like that. Jase, why the hell are you doing that to me? Why now?-

The answer was immediately apparent. -Because I needed to hear it. Because I'm at a time in my life where I could definitely use a morale booster, if nothing else. Well, it was that, and more. So much, much more …- The weight of loneliness and responsibility that had weighed so heavily on Tommy only a few hours ago suddenly melted away, leaving him buoyed and freshly energized. Briefly, he considered what it would mean if he took Jason up on his offer. -Companionship. Caring. Sharing … everything – our lives, our dreams.-

On the heels of that came the realization that it would probably also involve sharing their bodies. And while a small part of Tommy wondered why he wasn't freaked out by the idea, a bigger part of him was getting excited by it. He grinned briefly to himself as a certain part of his body suddenly expressed a definite interest at the thought of getting up close and really personal with his best friend.

-Okay, so no problem there,- he mused with a quick glance down into his lap where that interest was centered. -Except for the actual mechanics; I have less than no experience with a guy. Unless Jase has …- Tommy frowned at the thought that Jason might have shared himself with someone other than him before. He wasn't exactly jealous, but admitted to himself that he didn't much care for that idea. -Don't care, bull. I hate it!- He nodded in the darkness. -Okay,whatever. Doesn't matter if neither of us knows what to do how or when and to whom. We're both intelligent people, we'll figure it out. And at least I'm a trained scientist; I know how to do research. Which might even be fun, who knows.-

Startled, Tommy realized that all unwittingly, he apparently had come to a decision. -The only question is, do I dare ask for it? And what, exactly, will I be asking for?-

Only one way to find out. Slowly, he unwound himself from the sofa cushions and followed Jason outside. He found him at the corner of the porch, gazing out into the woods some distance behind the house. It was still raining, and the breeze had blown moisture in that very direction – Jason's hai was wet, and his red-and-black polo shirt clung to his sculpted torso. Tommy found himself going dry-mouthed as his mind suddenly played a fantasy of him peeling that wet shirt off those impressive muscles … and running his hands and mouth over the warm, tanned skin thus revealed.

-Definitely no problem there.-

Still, it wouldn't do to rush things. Not now, when the outcome was as important in its own way as every Zord battle he'd ever fought. -Maybe even more so.-

Tommy approached Jason with measured steps. His best friend continued to look outwards, so Tommy stopped just within touching distance – close enough to reach out if he wanted to. -Not yet.- The two men remained silent, cocooned in the darkness and rain, but not really separate, either. The next few moments would decide whether that last bit of distance would remain … or be closed forever. At last, Tommy spoke. A few things needed to be clarified first before he made his final choice. -And it has to be my choice. Not yours, not anybody's … mine.-

"What exactly would I be asking for?" he queried softly.

Jason weighed his answer carefully. "My help, with whatever. My support, for anything. An end to being alone for both of us." A short pause, then – "My love. In all things … and all ways."

So there it was, out in the open. So simple, and yet so complex.

-Like Jason himself, really,- Tommy realized. A chasm to be crossed, but with all the means to bridge it. A challenge greater than any he'd ever faced in his life, as a Ranger or as a person.

He was not the man to turn away from a challenge. Never had, never would.

Decision made.

Tommy swallowed the lump in his throat – not of apprehension, but an indication of the importance of the step he was about to take.

"I'm asking."

Slowly, Jason turned and faced him. He was pale, but his eyes seemed darker than ever before. Yet there also was a flame flickering in their depths – a flame that could both burn or heal. Fleetingly, Tommy was reminded of something Kat had said once when she was feeling a little more fanciful than usual – that depending on his mood and the situation, Jason's eyes were like lightning captured in pools of midnight. 'A girl could drown in them if she's not careful.'

-Not just a girl. And to hell with careful!-

"Are you?"

Tommy just nodded mutely.

"For what?"

"Everything," he replied, feeling very sure all of a sudden. "I'm asking … for you."

One little word; only three letters. But it encompassed everything – dreams, life, the future.

Jason's smile lit up the night like the moon emerging from behind the clouds.

"I'm here, Bro," he said softly. "Yours for the taking."

And that made Tommy hiss sharply as his mind conjured up images he wasn't quite ready to deal with yet. "Whoa. Slow down, Bro."

Jason chuckled as he, too, realized what he'd just said. "Um, yeah. In our own good time, huh?"

"Well, definitely not tonight," Tommy answered ruefully, feeling more than slightly giddy. "For one, this is not something I want to rush-"

"Anticipation is half the fun, I agree," Jason interrupted with a cheeky grin. The bold, tell-tale look he swept all over Tommy before coming to rest below his belt sent a wave of heat through the Black Dino Ranger. Tommy scowled as he felt himself blush, but returned the grin with interest.

"That, yes – but more because I'm totally bushed, and I want to fall asleep after … whatever, not when my head hits the nearest pillow." They both laughed, finding their easy camaraderie again in that simple act. Still grinning, but less suggestively, Tommy continued. "And for another, I just wouldn't feel comfortable with starting something so important when there are other things I have to worry about at the moment."

As he'd known he would, Jason followed his train of thought immediately. "Uh huh. Your little problem of leading a Ranger team – again – and saving the world from some bad guy; also again," he nodded. "It sucks, but you're right. Unfortunately."


"Not your fault, but let me tell you, Bro – your timing stinks!"

"My timing?" Tommy sputtered. "It wasn't me who brought this up in the middle of a crisis!"

Jason winked. "I didn't hear you complain a minute ago," he said innocently, then reached out and laid a hand on Tommy's shoulder. Not close to his arm, as he used to do before, but rather near his neck, just at the edge of his collar. It would take just a tiny shift in posture from either man to turn it into a caress. "Don't worry, Tommy. I've waited this long, I can wait a little longer."

Tommy covered Jason's fingers with his own, bringing them almost into full body contact.

"I know. So can I."

The two stared at each other for long seconds before either moved. Afterwards, they could never say who took that first – or maybe final – step, but somehow or other they ended up with their arms around each other. Definitely a hug, not quite an embrace yet.

It was slightly disconcerting to feel a broad, muscular body against his instead of a willowy, slender one, but Tommy found that the strangeness was more than compensated by the fact that Jason and his mouths were almost at the same height. -Much like Kat and I, really.- Easily, Tommy banished the memory of his last girlfriend. Kat had been tall for a girl, and somehow in her it had been a distraction to not have to bend down for a kiss. With Jason, it was just … right. Instinctively, Tommy moistened his lips.

Once more, Jason seemed to be reading his mind. "Are we gonna kiss, or not?" he murmured, managing just barely not to sound provocative.

Exasperated, Tommy rolled his eyes. Really, sometimes Jason and his sense of misplaced humor could be worse than Rocky and Zack combined at killing a guy's mood! "Shut up."

"Make me."

Tommy did just that, with the most effective method he could think of. Or rather, he stopped thinking altogether and simply closed his mouth over Jason's. There was a moment of disorientation as the inevitable differences between a man and a woman registered at the back of his mind – firmer skin, the rasp of five o'clock shadow, less immediate yield – but they soon ceased to be relevant as their lips opened to each other and their tongues touched for the first time.

Tommy felt a spark race from his mouth right into his groin and moaned into the moist caress, only to hear an answering sound rise from deep within Jason's throat … and a thrilling thrust of hips against his own, with a burgeoning bulge that was both scary and exciting at the same time. He couldn't help himself, he thrust back, letting Jason feel that he was having much the same effect on him as well. Another dual moan rose. However, as if it was enough for now to demonstrate that they were both equally excited by this new development, they eased back in unspoken agreement.

They continued to kiss, though, until they were both breathless.

"Wow," Jason murmured with a soft gasp as soon as Tommy reluctantly freed his mouth.

"Yeah." Tommy, too, was panting slightly, and he had a sneaking suspicion that with only a little provocation he was going to break into the goofiest grin ever. -Who cares? Jason and I just kissed! 'Wow' doesn't even begin to cover it!-

He looked into his best friend's eyes, and the grin did appear – mainly because Jason's expression was a mix of pleasant surprise, mischief, bemusement … and love. A myriad of emotions threatened to overwhelm Tommy, and he searched for a distraction. -Something nice and safe. Like … the weather, or something?-

"You're all wet," he remarked as if noticing it for the first time. Sure enough, not only had the rain which the wind had blown under the porch roof nearly soaked Jason's shirt, but his hair was also gleaming damply, and before their kisses had heated his skin Jason's lips had been cool with moisture. As a result, Tommy's own shirt was now sporting damp patches.

The dark eyes sparkled wickedly. "Duh. What did you expect?"

There was something in Jason's too-angelic expression that set off a warning bell in Tommy's mind, but he was feeling too dazed to notice. He just looked at his friend confusedly.

"Expect from what?"

Jason freed one arm from around Tommy's waist and gestured grandly into the night. The rainfall had dwindled to a soft drizzle, and the first few stars were peeking through the vanishing clouds. Soon, it would be another clear, dry California day. He'd pay for this eventually, he was sure, but it was too good a line not to use – both to distract Tommy from the rest of his woes again, and more importantly, to lower the intensity of emotion still simmering between them. One little spark would be enough to send their good intentions to take it easy to hell in a handbasket, and while he wanted things hot between them, now wasn't the time. -Besides, payback is gonna be much more fun from now on. I hope!-

Lips twitching with barely-restrained amusement, Jason told him. With an appropriate, if totally out-of-tune sing-song voice.

"We're kis-sing in the raaaiiin …"

Only Jason's finely-honed reflexes saved him from Tommy's instant, outraged wrath. What remained … was laughter.

To Be Continued …