Chapter 7: Here Comes the Sun

by juniperphoenix

Billy's friends divided into pairs and took turns watching him throughout the night. By dawn, Billy still hadn't awakened.

Tommy was dozing in a chair next to him, with his arms folded and his chin resting on his chest. Kimberly, who stood over him, smiled and gently pushed back the long dark hair that fell forward into his face. He looked relaxed for the first time in days, and Kimberly decided to let him sleep.

The pale light of dawn was beginning to creep into the tent, so Kimberly put out the lantern. After glancing briefly again at Billy and Tommy, she walked to the clinic entrance and looked outside.

Sunrise in the village was slow and beautiful, like a flower unfolding. It began with a pale golden light low in the sky, which was gradually joined by streaks of pink, lavender, and pale blue. Finally, as if it couldn't wait another second, the white-gold disk of the sun began gradually rising on the horizon, its dazzling brilliance bathing the whole world in light.

As she watched the spectacle, Kimberly wished fervently for a box of watercolors. She'd recently developed quite an interest in painting, and the sunrise would have been a perfect subject. She could almost see it, lovely in pinks and purples and golds, hanging in her room back at the gymnastics center. Instead, though, she would have to settle for simply watching. Kimberly leaned back against one of the support poles at the clinic entrance, her slender arms wrapped around herself to ward off the early morning breeze, and gazed at the sky.

Inside the clinic, Tommy yawned and sat up straight in his chair, rubbing his eyes. Glancing at Billy, he suddenly remembered where he was and scolded himself silently. Great, Tom, you're really alert. Falling asleep on watch duty… Then again, considering the amount of sleep he'd gotten in the past couple of days — none, to be exact — it was understandable.

After a moment, Tommy realized that Kimberly had left the clinic. Spotting her just outside, he stood quietly and came up behind her. "Hey, beautiful," he said, wrapping his arms gently around her waist.

"Huh?" she responded in surprise, glancing over her shoulder. "Oh, Tommy." She sighed and leaned back into his embrace, letting her head rest comfortably on his shoulder.

"What's going on?" he asked her.

"Oh, I was just watching the sunrise. It's beautiful, isn't it?"

Tommy looked out over the little village. A soft glow bathed everything in sight: the tour bus parked on the edge of camp, the rounded sides of the mud and grass huts, and the other Rangers who were asleep beside the smoldering campfire. Though the sun was up, a faint blush of pink still colored the horizon, and the sky was a brilliant blue. "Yeah," he replied finally. "It is beautiful."

"It's almost Trini and Katherine's turn, isn't it?" Kim asked after a moment.


"That seems so weird," she remarked.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean everybody here, together like this. Trini and the guys, Aisha, Kat… you… it's just strange to see everybody again."

"I know. But it's great, isn't it?" Tommy replied. "And in a way, we owe it to Billy. This reunion is happening because of him."

Kimberly smiled. "I just hope he'll be okay."

"Billy's tough," Tommy replied confidently. "He'll pull through."

"Yeah," said Kimberly happily. "You're right." She sighed in contentment and snuggled closer into Tommy's arms. "He's gonna be fine."

Tommy smiled. Kim was almost eternally optimistic, and her certainty had always served to bolster his own confidence in the past. This time, though, he shared it. They'd come too far to lose Billy now. He was going to be all right… he had to be.

A gentle breeze wafted through the clinic, ruffling Billy's hair. He sighed and opened his eyes, blinking slowly in confusion. Where am I? he wondered drowsily.

He blinked some more and squinted, trying to clear his vision, but nothing happened. Everything seemed fuzzy and indistinct.

Billy realized that he was lying on his back, and there were blankets covering him. He felt as though every bit of strength had been drained from his body, and he didn't think he could move even if he'd wanted to. Even his fingers and toes seemed incredibly weak. There was a dull ache in his chest, which became a sharp pain whenever he breathed too deeply. He tried to take slow, shallow breaths, but once he forgot and took a deep lungful of air. Feeling as though his chest was being crushed, he winced in pain and groaned softly.

Billy closed his eyes and wished he could just go back to sleep, but that didn't seem to be an option. His chest hurt too much. Instead, he concentrated on lying absolutely still, trying not even to breathe. As he lay there, he thought he could hear voices somewhere nearby. They were speaking very softly, but he recognized them: Tommy and Kimberly.

What? Kimberly? he asked himself, confused. But she's in Florida…

"Kimberly?" he called weakly. It came out as a hoarse croak, not at all the low, even tone he was used to.

Kim turned around. "Tommy, did you hear something?"

"Billy!" they both realized at once, and raced into the clinic. "Billy, you're awake!" Kimberly exclaimed excitedly when they reached his bedside.

Tommy squeezed his shoulder reassuringly. "How are you feeling, man?"

"Ever been run over by a Zord?" Billy replied, smiling weakly.

Tommy grinned back. "Sore, huh?"

"I feel like there's somebody sitting on my chest."

"You've got Jason to thank for that," Tommy explained. "He and Trini did CPR on you yesterday."

Billy's eyes widened.

CPR? Why? he thought, and then answered himself, In response to cardiac arrest, obviously. Only then did the rest of Tommy's statement hit him.

"Wait a minute… Jason? Trini? What are they doing here?"

"We're not in Angel Grove," Kimberly told him gently. "This is Africa."

"Africa…" Billy echoed, and winced painfully. All this talking wasn't helping his injuries.

"We're in Aisha's village," said Tommy. "Jason, Trini, and Zack came here on the peace tour. It was those four who found you."

"Found me?"

"In the escape pod. Can't you remember?"

"Well…" Billy tried to concentrate on remembering, and found that it helped take his mind off the pain. "I remember leaving Aquitar, and being on my way home. Then something happened, and the ship was… something was wrong with the ship?" He sounded very uncertain.

"You were attacked by Quadrafighters," Tommy prompted. "Your ship was crippled."

"Right… crippled," Billy repeated. "Not enough oxygen. So I… I built an escape pod. A special one, with… coolant? I remember being really cold, and scared. Then… then…" He frowned, searching for the memory. "I don't know. I can't remember any more. Except… the light."

"Light?" Tommy and Kimberly exchanged glances. "What kind of light?" Kimberly asked.

Billy's eyes took on a faraway look. "It was like a candle flame," he said after a moment, his voice very soft. "Except… brighter. And it was blue."

"Blue? You mean, like Blue Ranger blue?" Kimberly asked, confused.

"Yes, exactly."

"But how is that possible?" Tommy countered. "I mean, your powers are gone."

"I know," Billy replied, almost inaudibly. "I guess… I guess I can't explain it." He coughed suddenly, and agony shot through his chest. "Owwww," he moaned, his voice ragged. "This is getting worse."

"We'd better get Rachel," Kimberly said, looking worriedly at him and then at Tommy.

"Who's Rachel?" Billy asked weakly, while he tried desperately to concentrate on something other than the pain. The area of the circle is equal to pi times the square of the radius, he recited to himself. The periodic table begins with hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon, nitrogen…

"Rachel's the doctor," Kimberly was explaining, though Billy barely heard her. "Well, sort of. She works with Aisha." Kimberly paused for a moment. "Oh my gosh! Aisha!"

"Huh?" said Tommy. "Aisha?"

"Not just her, everybody! We forgot to get the others!" Kimberly dashed out to the campfire, where the other Rangers were sleeping. "Guys! Guys, wake up!" she exclaimed.

"Huh?" Kat sat up and yawned. "Oh, I'm sorry, Kimberly. It's my turn to watch, isn't it?"

"Forget watching! He's awake!" That statement woke everybody up.

"What's going on?" asked Rocky sleepily.

"Billy's awake!" Kimberly told them again, and then hurried to get Rachel.

"Awake?" Trini repeated when Kimberly had gone. "Billy's…" Shoving her blanket aside, Trini got up and went flying into the clinic. "Billy!" she shrieked excitedly, rushing to his side. "Billy, you're awake! You're okay!"

"Trini?!" Billy choked out in disbelief. Despite his blurred vision, there was no mistaking Trini's long, black hair and musical voice. She sat down next to him and took his left hand in both of hers.

Sensing movement behind him, Tommy turned and saw that the other Rangers, except for Kimberly, had also entered the clinic. They hung back near the entrance, their faces bright with relief and excitement. Tommy grinned and flashed them a thumbs-up, then turned back to Billy.

"Are you all right?" Trini was asking him. "How do you feel?"

"Not too good," Billy admitted, in a voice tight with pain. "It really…" He broke off, his face twisting into a grimace as another sharp pain pierced his chest and side.

"Billy!" Trini exclaimed, frightened. "What's wrong?"

"We think it's from the CPR," Tommy told her in a gentle voice. "Kim's getting Rachel to check."

Billy gave what he hoped was a reassuring smile, trying not to worry Trini too much. She squeezed his hand tightly and returned the smile, though her dark eyes were filled with worry and fear.

Just then, Kimberly and Rachel arrived. The small crowd at the clinic entrance parted to let them in, and then they all gathered around Billy's bed.

So much for not mobbing him, thought Kimberly, remembering the previous night. Billy, though, seemed glad to see them.

"I can't believe you guys are all here!" he said, looking up at the ten smiling faces — eleven, counting Rachel — that surrounded him.

"Why wouldn't we be here?" replied Jason.

"Well… you guys are spread out all over the world! Why would you all bother to come to a little place like this?"

"Because this is where you are," Adam said quietly. "You're important to us, Billy."

"You had us all worried," added Tanya with a warm smile.

"Yeah, even Bulk and Skull!" said Rocky with a laugh. "They've been going around telling people that you were abducted by aliens!"

"Which isn't that far from the truth," Kat murmured.

Tommy glanced over at Rachel, but she didn't seem to have noticed the remark. She was kneeling on the ground, rummaging under the table for her medical bag. After a moment, she found it and stood up. "Good morning, Billy," she said brightly. "It's good to see you awake."

"I'm starting to wish I wasn't," Billy replied weakly, wincing at another sharp pain, "but thanks anyway."

"Guess I should introduce myself, huh?" Rachel said, giving him a cheerful smile. "Rachel McCormick. I'm the veterinary researcher here at the clinic."

"'Veterinary?'" Billy repeated, raising an eyebrow.

"Don't worry. The elephants say I'm really great." She laughed. "And I'm also an EMT."

Billy grinned. Something about the young researcher's cheerful attitude was reassuring. "I'm Billy Russell," he introduced himself, though Rachel already seemed to know that. "And I think the elephants were right."

Rachel laughed at that. Billy knew laughing would be an excruciating experience, so he settled for smiling, a tight smile that couldn't quite hide the pain he was in. Rachel didn't fail to notice. "So, I heard you were having some pain in your chest," she said, getting down to business.

Billy nodded mutely. "Some" pain? Talk about an understatement, he thought, wincing as he breathed just a little too deeply for comfort.

"Let me take a look."

She gently undid the front of his shirt — not a difficult task, since Jason had popped several of the buttons off the day before — and examined his chest and sides.

Billy closed his eyes and tried not to cry out — the pain was getting much, much worse, and all his efforts to concentrate on something else had stopped working.

"Just what I expected," Rachel concluded after a moment. "You've got badly bruised ribs. A couple might even be cracked."

Jason looked down sheepishly.

"Oh, it's not your fault, Jason," Rachel assured him. "This is common with CPR. He really should be in a hospital, though… I'm not equipped or qualified to deal with broken ribs."

"Can't you do anything?" Trini asked worriedly. "It's really hurting him."

Billy smiled inwardly. Trini's warm concern was nothing new — she'd always looked out for him back when she lived in Angel Grove — but he hadn't realized how much he'd missed it.

"I'm going to give you something for the pain, Billy," Rachel told him, preparing a syringe. "It might make you a little drowsy, okay?"

"Okay," Billy murmured.

"Ugh," Zack said uneasily, squinching his eyes shut as Rachel gave Billy the injection. "Needles freak me out!"

"You haven't changed at all, have you, Zack?" Kimberly laughed.

As the others talked, Aisha reached over and tapped Tommy on the shoulder.


She beckoned him aside, and he could tell she had an idea. "Isn't there a bunch of medical equipment in the Command Center?" she whispered when they were standing near the tent entrance.

Tommy's face lit up in realization. "Yeah, all kinds of stuff," he replied. "Do you think any of it would do Billy any good?"

"Can't hurt to try," Aisha said, shrugging.

Tommy nodded eagerly. "I'll go call Alpha," he said, and quietly left the clinic.

Meanwhile, Rachel was still checking Billy over. He felt the cool metal of a stethoscope on his chest as she listened to his breathing, and then she took his pulse, blood pressure, and temperature. The latter had risen considerably since he'd been found, which Rachel was relieved to see. "Well, other than your ribs," she said finally, "everything seems okay. You're a lucky guy, Billy."

Billy smiled faintly. Whatever she had given him was beginning to take effect, and he could feel himself starting to drift as the pain became a distant haze. He closed his eyes and felt Trini caressing his hair.

"Um, Rachel," Aisha said tentatively, seeing that Tommy had returned, "could we talk to Billy for a couple of minutes?"

"Well, sure, if he's up to talking," Rachel replied.

"No, what I meant was…" Aisha looked pointedly at the entrance.

"Oh." Rachel was confused, but then, everything about Aisha's mysterious friends was a bit confusing. She put her bag away under the table and left.

"What was that all about?" asked Kat when Rachel had gone.

"We just needed to get her out of here for a minute," explained Tommy, taking out a strange electronic device he'd had hidden under his shirt.

"What's that?" Zack asked.

"One of Alpha's medical thingamajigs," Tommy replied, unsure what the device was actually called. "I had him teleport it here for Billy."

"Well, what are we waiting for?" Rocky said. "Anybody know how to use that thing?"

Adam stepped forward and took the device from Tommy. The Red Ranger realized that his friend was really smiling, for the first time in days.

"No problem," Adam said.

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