Disclaimer: Saban's, not mine. The song used in here, I heard on the radio and thought it would be good. I have no idea what the title is or who wrote it, but it's not mine either. This story is rated PG for some deep thoughts. This is my first attempt at a vignette, and I would like some feedback. This story is set after the end of the Turbo movie.

Into The Fire
by: Ellen Brand

Behind him, Jason could hear Kimberly chanting to herself, "Into the fire, into the fire." Nothing else, just those three words, over and over again. Staring down at Tommy, he growled.

"Now I'm the one with the muscles and the power!" he cried. Tommy just looked up at him with unreadable eyes.

"But you're not using your brainpower, Jase," the taller boy replied weakly. Suddenly he kicked up, flipping Jason over his head and into the volcano. As Jason fell, Tommy reached out for Jason's hand- and missed. Plummeting down to the lava, Jason's red eyes never left those of his stricken friend.

"Nooo!" Jason cried, sitting up in bed. Looking around him, he sighed, relaxing. He was in his bedroom, back home in Angel Grove. It had just been another nightmare.

Beside him, his radio played softly, just as he had left it. He had been having trouble sleeping recently, due to the nightmares, and he had begun listening to his radio to help him sleep. Now, as he attempted to return his breathing to normal, he turned his attention to the song playing on the local alternative station.

Days go by,
I don't know why
I'm walking on a wire.
I close my eyes and fly Into the fire.

With a muffled curse, Jason shut the radio off. Those three words were the last things he wanted to hear right now. And how had that songwriter managed to fit him so specifically? He had been walking a wire the past few days, trying to keep his sanity and his secret at the same time. Every time he closed his eyes to go to sleep, though, he was reliving another part of his adventure on the Island of Muranthias.

Rising from his bed, Jason staggered to the bathroom and toweled off the cold sweat that had formed. Then he pulled on a T-shirt and headed down to the basement. Hopefully a session with his home gym would tire him out to the point of dreamless sleep.

As he punched and kicked the hanging bag, he thought about the past few weeks. He had been on edge ever since the Rangers had brought him back from the volcano. After seeing Tommy's reaction to Rita's spell so long ago, he hadn't expected his recovery to be a snap, but he hadn't expected screaming nightmares every night. He was so tired that he'd fallen asleep at a movie with Emily, and woken from a particularly bad nightmare, barely holding onto a scream. No one else in the theater had noticed, but Emily had, and she kept trying to find out what was wrong. Unfortunately, he couldn't tell her.

Suddenly, in mid-punch, his communicator went off, startling him. None of the Rangers' enemies ever attacked at night, and even if they did, he was no longer on active duty. He only wore the communicator out of nostalgia. Nevertheless, he answered it. "Jason here. What's up?"

To his surprise, Tommy's voice answered. "Jase, Emily told me about what happened in the theater the other day, and I just sensed your agitation. Are you all right?" Ever since the fiasco on the island, Tommy's telepathic abilities had been coming to the forefront.

Jason started to respond with an automatic affirmative, then stopped. "No, Tommy, I'm not all right. I think I'm losing my mind."

"You want to talk about it?" Despite the phrasing, Jason knew that this was not a question. There was too much steel behind it. It was the tone that Zack had always called the "Leader Voice." Still, Jason was glad of someone to talk to.

"Yeah. You know where The Hole Thing is? Meet me there in twenty minutes."

"Right. Tommy out."

When Tommy arrived at The Hole Thing, the local bagel, donut, and coffee shop, he had some idea of Jason's condition, thanks to Emily's description of Jason's behavior and his own telepathic insights. However, he was not prepared for the sight that awaited him. Jason sat at one of the corner tables, nursing a large mug of coffee and munching on a chocolate bar donut. In front of him sat three other types of donut, sharing only a chocolate coating. Tommy winced. When Jason pigged out on chocolate, things were definitely not going well.

"Hey," Jason greeted his friend, after swallowing. "Want one?"

Tommy shook his head, sliding into the chair across from Jason. "Can't, man. I'm watching my weight." It was an old joke between the two of them, stemming from the days when Tommy had been the Green Ranger. During the darkest times, Jason had always been there for Tommy, and his answer to the other's deepest funks had usually been chocolate. Tommy had never liked chocolate much, but knowing that Jason cared had gone a long way to bringing him out of his depression.

"Do they ever go away?" Jason asked helplessly, bringing Tommy out of his reverie. "The dreams, I mean," he continued, seeing his friend's confused look. "I remember you had them after Rita. Do they ever go away?"

Tommy sighed. "They haven't yet," he admitted quietly. "Not completely. Mostly, but not all the way. I still get them when I get stressed out."

"Any one in particular?"

Chuckling humorlessly, Tommy nodded. "Oh yeah. You and me in Rita's Dark Dimension. Right before Billy teleported you out, remember?"

Jason winced. "How could I forget? I had nightmares about that one for a while."

"Yeah, well, in mine, Billy wasn't fast enough. I can't hold back any longer and the sword-" Tommy broke off, shaking his head. "It makes me sick just thinking about it."

Sighing, Jason regarded the table guiltily. "I'm sorry, man. I didn't mean to drag up painful subjects."

"You didn't. Divatox did." Reaching across the table, Tommy squeezed Jason's hand for a minute. "We need to talk about this. I know what you're going through, you know. I'm here for you. Now, what are you dreaming about?"

"The volcano," Jason whispered. "We're fighting at the edge, and you flip me in. It's just like it was, except in the dream, you don't catch me. I always wake up just before I hit the lava."

Tommy frowned. "That's odd. I dream about failing my friends, not the other way around." Looking up, Tommy realized Jason wouldn't meet his eyes. "Jason, what aren't you telling me?"

"I know why I'm dreaming about you missing me," the ex-Ranger admitted. "I wanted you to. I wanted you to let me go."

"What?" Tommy hissed, barely remembering to keep his voice down. "Jason, that was just the spell making you fight me. You were just fighting mindlessly!"

Jason shook his head. "No, I wasn't. Oh yeah, most of me was under Maligore's control, but not all of me. That was the part that wanted you to let me go."

"Why?" All of Tommy's hurt and confusion was conveyed in his voice. "Why would you want to die?"

Sighing, Jason dropped his eyes again. "Two reasons. One, I didn't want to hurt you, and I wasn't sure I could stop myself. That control was powerful, man! I could barely keep myself from throwing you in the pit, and I couldn't keep myself from choking you! I remember thinking that it would be better for me to die in that volcano than to kill you, or worse yet, throw you in. It would have made you evil, and I couldn't have borne being responsible for that."

"What's the second reason?" asked Tommy quietly.

"I didn't want to live," Jason admitted. "I didn't want to live with what I'd done, what I'd tried to do."

Tommy bit his lip. "Aw, Jase. We knew it wasn't your fault. You had to know that too."

"I did, but it didn't matter! I did it, that was the problem! I wasn't strong enough to fight it off, or to get Kim out of there. I should have escaped with the others. If I'd been with Kim, we probably could have gotten away from those Malachians. It was my fault!"

"Don't you ever think that!" Tommy snapped. Jason looked up at his friend, startled. Tommy's face was cold and stern. "There was nothing you could do. Maligore's control was a thousand times worse than Rita's, and you always told me that there wasn't anything I could have done to fight it off. As for protecting Kim, you never had the chance. Those Piranhatrons jumped you in the water, and you never had time to fight back. In the bilge, you got everyone else out first, just like you always did with the Rangers. It was just bad luck that you didn't make it out in time. None of that was your fault, Jason Scott, and I don't want to hear you blaming yourself for it!"

Jason stared at Tommy for a second, his mouth hanging open. Then, amazingly, he began to laugh. "Do you realize what we sound like?" he chuckled. "You sound like me, and I sound like you, almost four years ago!"

Tommy thought about it for a second, then began to laugh as well. "You're right, man, we do. Kind of strange."

"Yeah. Our positions have been reversed ever since I became Gold Ranger. Funny, huh?"

Nodding, Tommy suddenly yawned. "Oh, geez, sorry, Jase! I'm not used to being up at two in the morning."

"I understand," Jason replied. "Let's head home. We could both use some sleep."

"You going to be all right?" Tommy asked gently, laying a hand on his friend's shoulder.

Jason nodded.

"Yeah. As long as I've got friends like you, I'm going to be just fine."

The two of them walked out the door, each remembering a time four years ago, when the same words had passed between them before. Outside, Jason stopped, looking up at the stars. "Thank you," he whispered, not sure who he was addressing. "For Tommy, for all my friends. Thank you."

Putting his hands in the pockets of his jacket, he walked home. He wasn't out of the woods yet, but he thought he'd seen the last of the nightmares for tonight.


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