Disclaimer: I own nothing.
AN: OFR has been nominated for Best Comedy at the Hope for the World awards! The link's in my profile if you want to vote!
Oliver Family Reunion
Chapter 1: Family Ties
Nick suppressed a laugh.
"Don't give me that look, Bowen," Leanbow said, mounting his motorcycle. "Just because Daggeron can't ride to save his life—. You get your love of these things from your mother and me, you know."
"You guys rode motorcycles when you were younger?" Nick asked.
Udonna's eyes took on a faraway look. "Oh yes," she sighed happily.
Udonna quickly snapped out of her reverie. "You said yourself it's a long trip to see your adoptive parents; maybe we'll tell you the story when we stop for a rest."
Nick knew from experience with his adopted parents that "maybe" would probably mean "no" in the long run, but it was a long trip, maybe he could wear them down.
"Okay," he said. "You two ready?"
"Are you sure you don't want to wait for your sister to come back?" Udonna asked for the third time.
Nick sighed, thinking back on the last time he'd seen his sister. It had been just five days ago, only one day before the Master escaped his prison.
Nick had arrived home after a long day of monster fighting followed by a long day of sorting CDs. He had called, "Hello!" when he came in the door and had been answered with an, "Up here!" that sounded like his big sister was crying.
He rushed up the stairs and froze in her doorway. There was a suitcase on her bed and clothes of every sort littered the bed and floor.
"What's wrong?" he asked, his voice small. He felt like a little boy again, the day Abbey and their big brother had taken him on a trip to Yosemite. He had wanted to be happy that day, and had been once they got there, but something about the way his siblings were acting had unnerved him. It was the same way now.
Abbey turned and sat hard on the bed. "Nicky," she began, it was his childhood nickname, one only members of his family ever used. She sighed and began again. "I'm going to visit some old friends. I need you to stay safe while I'm gone."
"You know I will," he said. A few months ago he would have been snotty about it, saying that she didn't trust him if she had to say it. But now, after so many battles, and with the way she was looking at him. He blinked, suddenly very afraid. She was afraid for him. She was afraid he would be hurt—or worse—and didn't want to leave him.
Abbey nodded. She slowly got up from the bed and walked to him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held him tight. "I love you. No matter what happens, remember that I love you and always will. There is nothing you could ever do or not do to make me stop. Do you understand?"
Nick, his face buried in her hair, nodded. He was starting to cry and wasn't sure why. Was it just sympathy for her, or was he afraid he might never see her again? Or, he tried not to think the thought that was already in his mind, was he afraid that he would really have to find out if her words were true? Would she really still love him if he failed?
Abbey pulled back and held him at arms length and fingered the collar of his red shirt. She looked him over and smiled at what she saw. "Briarwood's been good for you. You've grown."
He gave her a half smile in return and she hurried back to her packing.
"I can still remember the day you came here." She let out a small chuckle. "You walked in that door and collapsed on the couch. You complained about a new job and an annoying girl." Abbey turned suddenly back to him. "We're going to talk about that later, just so you know."
She went back to her work but something about the way she'd said those words stayed with Nick. She wasn't just telling him that they were going to talk about girls and relationships; she was telling him that they would be together again; she was telling him to stay alive.
Abbey left that night, leaving him with a hug and a kiss and instructions about what to do if anyone came by demanding money. Abbey always kept her bills paid several months in advance as if she expected to be called away at any moment.
Nick sighed, putting on his helmet. Abbey had called yesterday to say that she had been called away on business and might be gone for a few weeks. Nick had said that he'd keep everything looked after. Daggeron had agreed to housesit.
"No," Nick said. "Abbey might not be back for long time."
"But if she does come back sooner," Leanbow said, "she will have to find out."
"She will notice the centaurs walking down the street," Udonna added lightly.
Nick smiled. "I left a letter with Daggeron. It's for her if she comes back early, telling her everything she needs to know. The guys have orders to keep—other things—from her until I can tell her in person."
His parents smiled encouragingly. They both knew what "other things" he felt she needed to hear from him alone. "Let's go," Leanbow said.
They tore down the highway.
"Well, well, well," Tommy said, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against the porch railing, "look what the cat dragged in."
"Oh hush," Abbey snapped, getting out of her van and running up the steps to give her brother a hug.
"To what do I owe this honor?" Tommy asked when he had put her down. Abbey wasn't much shorter than him, but they were on the steps, so he gained a five-inch advantage.
"Remember that you love me."
"Oh no," Tommy groaned, going back into the house.
"It's not that bad!" Abbey protested, closing the door behind her. "Really, you'll be happy, just angry that I didn't tell you sooner."
"You're getting married!" Tommy roared, collapsing onto his couch.
"No," Abbey said, a hint of depression in her voice. Tommy latched onto that, but took it in a very different direction than she'd meant it.
"You're pregnant!" Tommy shot up from the couch, his eyes turning just the slightest bit green. "I'll kill him!" he growled.
Abbey forced him to sit back down—a hard feat when dealing with an incensed Ranger—and sat beside him, trying to remain as calm as possible for his sake. "It's not about me. It's about Nicky."
"He got a girl pregnant!" Tommy wailed, falling back onto the couch once more and covering his face with a pillow. "I knew I should have let him stay here, but I thought he would be safer in Briarwood with you. What was I thinking? There are active Rangers in Briarwood!"
"There weren't when you sent him to me. And Nicky didn't get anyone pregnant, at least I hope he didn't." She thought about that for a moment before shaking her head and turning back to Tommy. He was still covering his face with the pillow but now he was rolling back and forth as far as the couch and her body would let him. Abbey quirked an eyebrow and looked around the room. Beer bottles and cans littered the table and several had fallen onto the floor.
"Tommy," Abbey said slowly, trying to keep her voice steady the way one did when talking to crazy people, "what happened? Why are you drunk?" This was at least the twelfth time in her life she had cursed the Power's ability to neutralize the smell of alcohol. It couldn't neutralize the effects, no, it had to neutralize the smell!
"Hayley left me!" Tommy wailed.
"You and Hayley were never together."
"She moved to stupid Massachoo-slits!" he said. Abbey rubbed the bridge of her nose. Now he slurred.
"Why did she move? She loves California." She pulled the pillow away from his face to hear him better.
"Stupid Justin!" Tommy tried to grab back the pillow, but it required too much movement so he just flopped his arms around for a moment before crossing them petulantly across his chest.
"What did Justin do?"
"When he went to MIT," Tommy sniffed, "he kept saying that Hayley was better than aaaalllll his teachers. And since he was so good they just had to see if it was true. Now they want her to teach and she said yes!"
"Tommy," Abbey said gently, "Hayley's allowed to live her own life. She couldn't be your Alpha forever."
Tommy crossed his arms but said nothing.
"Do you want anything?" she asked, noticing his eyes start to droop. The only good thing about the Power and alcohol, it made you really, really sleepy if you weren't using the drunkenness.
Tommy shook his head, his eyes closing slowly.
Abbey carefully stood and walked out of the room. She grabbed as many of the bottles as she could without making any noise and took them to the kitchen. She took a cheese stick from the fridge and returned to the living room, intent on using Tommy's laptop to look in on Briarwood's local news. He moved a bit in his sleep when the computer powered up, but then lay still.
Abbey shook her head. "Last time I saw 'im like this was Valentine's Day."
Tommy sat up straight, a crazy look in his eye. "Kim!" And he was using the drunkenness again.
He was on the other side of the room dialing the phone by the time Abbey could react.
"Tommy!" she cried, grabbing for the phone, which he held high above his head. "Do you really want to do this?"
"Yes!" Tommy growled. He used his free hand to grab her right arm and twisted it around her back in a practiced move. He shoved her into the wall and held her there while he listened for Kim to pick up.
Abbey sighed, trying to get comfortable. Stupid Ranger strength. Not that she was too angry. She and Jason had been supporting Tommy on Valentine's Days for the past few years. They would spend the day pretending to drink with Tommy – because no one could out-drink Tommy Oliver on Valentine's – and then would help each other stand during Kim's birthday party that night. It was a flawed system, but it worked. As the years had worn on though, Abbey had become more and more sure of something no one refused to talk about, but she was sure they knew as well as she did. Tommy belonged with Kim. Not just in that Disney, true love, soul mate way, but in a make-each-other-whole sort of way. And if a drunken call was the only way to get them back together, so be it. Her Valentine's Days would be much more fun.
"Hello?" she heard the perky voice over the phone. Abbey was mildly impressed that Tommy actually knew her current number.
"Kim?" Tommy asked.
"Tommy?" Abbey could hear the blood draining from Kim's face.
"I love you." Abbey bit the inside of her cheek. She could not laugh.
The other end of the line was silent.
"I've always loved you. Even before I went Green, I knew. You and I are meant to be together, Kim Hart. Will you marry me?"
There was a loud thump and Abbey heard someone that sounded a lot like Dana yelling Kim's name. Tommy hung up the phone and plopped down on the coffee table.
"She doesn't want me," he said, hanging his head.
"She fainted, you boob. It's what Kim does. It's her signature move, like you yelling a lot in battle." She grabbed Tommy's arm and heaved him up. She led him over to the couch once more. "Now get some sleep. You need it."
"Kim will call back when she wakes up. If you're still asleep I'll wake you, okay?" she lied.
"Okay." Tommy pouted, but obediently closed his eyes.
Abbey returned to Tommy's laptop and logged onto the internet. "Bulky Skulls," she read. She had thought Tommy's homepage would be google or yahoo or something more common, not a blog obviously run by Bulk and Skull. She scanned a few of the more recent articles and stifled her laughter. This was the greatest website ever!