Always a Ranger - Part 24

Carbon Copy Memories

By Jeannine Trevizo

 

 

 

As soon as I heard her voice say hello, I blurted out the news.

 

“We got him back Kim.”

 

“Tommy?” she asked, confirming my identity, and then the significance of what I could be talking about hit her. “Trent?”

 

“He’s on our side now.”

 

“How?”

 

“Long story,” I replied, taking a seat on the couch.

 

“I’ll make the time,” she replied, and I realized that she had invested as much emotionally into Trent being brought to the good side as the rest of us had.

 

“I don’t have all the details, but we didn’t do it.”

 

“So, you’re sure he’s on your side now?” she asked skeptically.

 

I understand her reluctance to believe. The team did, and I was a little on the untrusting side myself, but I had a few things going for me. First was the rescue, and second was my own experience. Things that made believing in Trent a lot easier.

 

“I’m sure. He saved my life Kim. Zeltrax was coming straight at me, and he could have just stood by as I got skewered, but he helped me. That was the turning point… I knew he was in control finally. The guys are a little skeptical about Trent’s sudden reformation, but they’ve decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I can’t begin to tell you how happy Kira is at this turn of events.”

 

“I’m glad for Kira. As for the boys, they’ll come around. But I’m interested to know… how do *you* feel about it?”

 

“I…” I pause before I can say anything more. I’m not sure exactly how I feel. On one hand, I’m relieved that Trent’s free of the evil influence that had been placed on the white dino gem. And I’m concerned about how the team is doing in accepting Trent back, Conner and Ethan grudgingly and Kira welcomingly. I’m worried about Trent, and the long term effects… ones I’m intimately familiar with. And then I’m feeling guilty. That I spent weeks where I didn’t look to Hayley for a way to help Trent, that I spent time in Kim’s embrace while I could have been searching for solutions to give Trent back his freedom.

 

“Tommy?”

 

“Hmm, oh, sorry Beautiful, I was just…”

 

“Trying to sort it all out,” she stated knowingly, and I was slightly taken aback.

 

Does she know me *that* well? Of course she does, I remind myself. That’s why she’s your *everything*.

 

“Besides the kids and Trent, how is this affecting you?”

 

“I’m glad he’s back,” I finally admit, “but I feel like I failed him.”

 

“Because you weren’t the one to save him?”

 

“Yeah. I mean, somehow Trent got free of the spell on the white dino gem, and all I did was give him a place to go afterwards.”

 

“Okay, so *you* didn’t break the spell,” Kim says, and I find myself frowning, forgetting that she isn’t here to see my reactions and read their meaning.

 

“No, and that is really eating at me. I was supposed to help him. And all I did was wait around until it was done for me.”

 

“Tommy, the rescuing part is the easy part,” she softly spoke. “It’s the rest of it, the atoning that’s tough.”

 

“But…”

 

“No buts. How long did it take you to get over the nightmares? To feel comfortable around the team? Feel worthy of the job? Feel like you had the right to be happy?”

 

I frown but I know what she’s talking about. She knows about all of these things, because next to Jason, she’s the only person on the planet that knows what I really went through. I had nightmares for the first six months. In fact, they only went away around the time that I lost the green ranger powers and that Kim and I got together. The truth is that I’m not sure which event was the true reason for them going away.

 

As to feeling comfortable, feeling worthy… I don’t think I did until Zordon gave me the white ranger mantle. Because it was only then that I realized that I was being chosen on my own merits, not because I already had a power coin.

 

And as to feeling like I had a right to be happy… the fact is that I would *never* have been happy if it wasn’t for Kim.

 

Still this isn’t really a revelation for me. I’ve been dealing with all of these feelings since the day Jason broke the Sword of Darkness. I have just had gotten better at finding ways to rationalize and channel the emotions into other things: being a ranger, the duty, school, racing cars, doing the dino research, Kim…

 

But it wasn’t until just this moment that I connected these two fundamental things; I never realized just how much they were tied together. Kim and my being a ranger. When we first met, it was a matter of days before I was turned evil. During the time we dated, I was without my powers for maybe a few months at best. When Kim left me, I was a ranger. I think the years that we were apart were the only time I was without both her and my powers. And now that she’s back in my life, I’m a ranger again.

 

I have to wonder if that’s how it will always be. Though I can’t see myself in black spandex at sixty.

 

I smile for the first time today, and feel my heart thump at the thought of Kim and I, old and gray on our porch with our grandkids.

 

“Tommy?” calls Kim’s voice over the phone line, and I realize that she’s been waiting for me to say something while I finally comprehended where Kim and being a ranger merge and overlap in my life.

 

“Sorry. Just thinking.”

 

“About?”

 

A knock at the door brought me up short. I didn’t expect anyone, and there weren’t any deliveries I was expecting. I sighed and figured I better find out who it was and what they wanted.

 

“Hold on a sec,” I told Kim as I walked to the door.

 

Throwing it open, I was and yet wasn’t surprised to see Trent there. The basket of ‘cleaning supplies’ the team gave him was in his hands, and his clothes had that slightly soapy wet look. I guess he was done. Then I took a look at his face. The look I found there was painfully familiar – embarrassment, guilt, fear… yeah, he was going through *all* of it.

 

“Trent…”

 

On her end, I heard Kim’s intake of breath as I spoke Trent’s name. I guess she wasn’t expecting him at my door either.

 

“Dr. Oliver… can I come in?”

 

I hesitated, looking from the lost young man to the phone and back again. In the end, I knew what my answer was going to be.

 

“Kim, I hate to do this, but…” I started, and she stopped me quickly.

 

“I understand,” she said simply, her voice thick with emotion. “Take care, okay?”

 

“I love you,” I said quietly.

 

“I love you too.”

 

Hanging up the phone, I waved Trent in, closing the door behind him. He shuffled inside, dropping the basket of items on the floor. I pointed to the couch, and as he moved towards the far end, I hung up the cordless and then made my way to the kitchen. I could really use a drink, but I choose two glasses of water, thinking that both of us could use the cold, quenching feel of ice water over our tongues as we get to whatever Trent wants to talk about.

 

Not like I can’t guess.

 

It seems like no matter what I do, my past always seems to catch up with me.

 

Now, after so long with my thinking that Trent was lost to the side of good forever, here he is, back in the fold. This time, there were no tricks, no deals or lies. He was his own man.

 

No thanks to me or the team.

 

And that last part was something I was going to have to deal with, and soon. Kim said the rescuing is the easy part, the atonement is what’s hard. And I know in my head that’s true. My soul is another matter.

 

Turning back to the living room, I walk carefully, setting my path in my head as my feet walk towards the sofa. What I find there makes my heart ache. Trent’s still standing by the couch, his head down and his entire posture that of someone who realizes that he’s got a long way to go to be accepted and forgiven by the people around him. It’s like a weight of a thousand pounds weighing on his shoulders, and I find myself wincing at the memory of it.

 

“Have a seat,” I say, reaching over, handing him a glass of water as I turn to sit at the other end of the couch with mine. “So, what’s up?”

 

“I want to apologize again,” he started, and I sighed and shook my head with a sad little smile. It was like looking at myself nine years ago.

 

“Don’t. It’s not your fault. We all know that, and we understand.”

 

“Still, after everything I did, I hope you’ll be able to truly trust me,” Trent says with a dip to his shoulders.

 

“Everyone deserves a second chance.”

 

“Even me?”

 

“Especially you Trent.”

 

“Why?”

 

Ah yes, time for the sixty four thousand dollar question. And time for him to hear the truth about the mentor of the dino rangers and the black ranger’s past.

 

“Because I was where you were once.”

 

“I…”

 

I know I’ve struck him dumb. How could anyone guess that good old Tommy Oliver, ‘greatest’ and longest living active ranger and PhD had been forced to be an evil ranger my first time in uniform. No, it wasn’t something you would expect.

 

His bewildered look makes me remember myself, and I decide to take some pity on him and offer him what I can.

 

“Once upon a time, it was me in your shoes Trent. I was the formerly evil ranger. And my friends, the power rangers were willing to forgive me, take me in.”

 

“How did you forgive yourself though?” Trent asked me, his eyes like laser beams.

 

I shrugged. How am I supposed to answer that question when there were times I don’t feel like I’ll ever fully atone for what I did. People died because of me. And not because I was too slow to stop a monster. No, it was because I sent the Dragonzord through downtown Angel Grove or I went head to head with the rangers, not caring who might get in the middle, or hit by the crossfire.

 

Jason and Kim are the real reasons I’m still sane.

 

Jason for supporting me, suggesting I join them.

 

Kim for loving me when I didn’t even *like* myself.

 

“I won’t lie to you Trent, it’s not easy. But day-by-day, it will get easier. You have the team, and you’ll have me. I know what it takes to be a formerly evil ranger, to try your hardest to atone. And if you stay the course, there will be a day when we’ll finally defeat Mesogog and you’ll have done your duty.”

 

Trent frowns, and looks down, his shoulders slumping as he braces his elbows on his knees. It confuses the hell out of me. Does he know something he hasn’t said?

 

“Trent, you’ve been in Mesogog’s place, is there anything you can tell me about how we can stop him?”

 

“No,” he says tonelessly.

 

“All right.”

 

“Dr. Oliver?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“You really think that someone who has been evil can be good again?”

 

The way he says it, I have to wonder if he’s not just talking about himself, but I don’t know. For now, he’ll have to have his own secrets. Maybe Kira, Conner and Ethan can help him more than I can with those…

 

“I *know* they can. I’m the proof of that.”

 

“Cool,” he replies, and I see a smile for probably the first time since Kira and the team left earlier.

 

Just as that thought crosses my mind, I hear noises at the door, and then the doorbell rings loudly. I smile then, realizing that the cavalry has arrived. Putting the untouched glass down on the coffee table, I get up and head to the door. Opening it, I find Kira there with Conner and Ethan behind her, looking less than enthused. I wonder what she threatened them with before they agreed to come here.

 

“Hey there guys. What’s up?”

 

“Hi Dr. O… is Trent here?” Kira asks, and I see the smile that remind me of my own ranger angel when I’d been freed of Rita’s spell.

 

“He’s sitting on the couch. Did you want to come in?”

 

Moving away from the door, I watched as she moved in slightly and set her gaze on Trent. He was barely meeting her eyes, but he wasn’t avoiding her. That was good.

 

“The guys and I thought maybe you’d like to grab a smoothie at Hayley’s.”

 

“Really?” Trent asked, surprise evident in his voice.

 

“Come on dude,” Ethan said suddenly. “I admit that we were a little skeptical, but you’re on our team now, and we rangers have to stick together.”

 

“It’ll be cool,” added Conner, moving behind Kira.

 

Trent looks over at me, and I nod and grin. *This* is what he needs.

 

“Sure, let’s go.”

 

Getting up, Trent heads for the door and Kira, Conner and Ethan surround him as they head out the door, talking lightly and getting familiar with each other again. As they walk down the path to Conner’s car, I realize now that with friends like these, he’ll be okay.

 

Just like me.

 

-End-

 

To be continued…

 

GO TO CHAPTER 25

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