It was amazing, how much a year changed everything.

At the dawn of one year, Alana Oliver had been broken-hearted by a failed romance and resigning herself to a life made meaningful by only her career. That Christmas, she watched in wonder as her foster son toddled around and made a mess of the wrapping paper. The next year, she'd fight to make sure he was legally hers. She loved that boy and nothing would take him from her. And then, as more years passed, it was her and Tommy. The cherubic toddler she'd been smitten with grew, and he made her proud every day. He was a bit of a lone wolf, yes, but always friendly. Kind. And as he began to master the martial arts, that discipline showed in the rest of his life.

Alana just wished he would make some friends. He wasn't lonely, exactly, but he didn't seem to bond to anyone in particular, at least not his own age. He was a favorite among his senseis. Adults loved him. As he grew into a teenager, girls swooned over him. But he always seemed to be seeking something else. What, Alana didn't know.

But what a difference a year made.

They'd moved to Angel Grove because of her work. If Tommy had been deeply rooted like most teenagers, she might have reconsidered, but she'd run it by him over dinner and his only concern was the ability to continue his karate work. She didn't know whether to be grateful or worry, honestly. But his first week there - well, it was an interesting one. The first day of school, he'd seemed excited by the people he'd met. The next few days, he transformed into a stereotypical teenager - brooding, melancholy, snappish. But by the end of the week, he was his normal charming self. He was meeting people and he even had a crush on a girl at school.

By the time their first year in Angel Grove was complete, Tommy was firmly centered in a group of great kids, he had an amazing girlfriend, and Alana barely saw him. It was everything she'd wanted for him. Every time a fellow parent commented, "You must be so proud," Alana grinned a little wider. She was. She always had been.

It wasn't as if Alana didn't know he had secrets. He never took his watch off; in fact, he seemed skittish when the alarm would go off and he'd make some dash to take care of things. He always found a way to let her know if he wouldn't be home when expected, but that became more frequent as time went on. But he was a good kid, his grades were great, and he showed none of the warning signs of being on drugs. So she let him have his space. When he disappeared from out of his room without ever coming down the stairs, she assumed he'd gone out the window. Why, she had no idea. When she asked him once, he laughed and said he liked the climb. Being a mother, she warned him about the dangers of breaking his neck.

The clothes were another thing. The group he hung out with liked to color code everything in their lives. Alana figured it was just another teenage least, at first. Tommy had loved green before they moved. So it seemed like they all wore their favorite colors to excess. No big deal. When he switched to white, it made laundry days a bit more interesting, but no worries. Then there was the red phase when his friend Rocky made the switch to blue. It wasn't something Alana ever tried to over-analyze. But she found it amusing, at least.

Not everything was peaches and cream, of course. Tommy took it hard when Kimberly moved to Florida, but he wanted to see her pursue her dream. He was truly, desperately in love. And when she sent him a letter saying it was over, he was devastated. He retreated for a time, but eventually, Katherine drew him out. Their relationship never became as intense, but Alana was grateful for her nonetheless.

At some point, Alana jokingly wondered if the reason for the color scheme was some declaration of allegiance to Angel Grove's protectors, the Power Rangers. No one knew much about the Rangers themselves, much less who they were, but they were certainly worthy of being looked up to. Then one day, she realized just how right she was.

In her defense, she wasn't actually trying to spy. But when a mother hears a teenager whispering in worried tones, she does often stop to listen. And there Tommy was, talking into the watch, asking someone named Zordon questions. A deep, bass voice answered. And then, in a flash of light, he was gone. Which pretty much answered the window question.

As she wandered downstairs, mystified and half sure she was dreaming, Alana realized where she'd seen that light before. The same teleportation system that allowed the Power Rangers to mysteriously show up when they were needed.

The clothes, the secrets, everything. It made sense.

Everyone knew, however, that the Rangers' identities were strictly guarded. Alana supposed it was for their own protection. The Power Rangers seemed to be able to take a lot of damage in their superhero form - which was fairly alarming, now that she realized her Tommy was the one usually leading the charge. But they were human. So she kept her mouth shut.

Besides, "Hey, honey, pass the soup, and by the way, I know you're a Power Ranger," would have made for extremely awkward dinner conversation.

After awhile, Alana figured she was Aunt May to Tommy's Spiderman, though without her constantly getting kidnapped and/or killed. That would have been a drag. She kept the home fires burning and his secret safe. Then he graduated and was off to college and when he devoted himself to archeology Alana smiled and allowed herself a knowing nod. Of course his time in Angel Grove had led him to become passionate about dinosaurs. Part of her wanted to tell him she knew; she'd known for a long time. But if he wanted her to know, he'd have said something. It was clear Tommy's superhero days were behind him by then, and so it was really a non-issue as he ran off to become the next Indiana Jones.

Reefside was a surprising career move. Alana didn't complain; as it was closer to Angel Grove than Los Angeles, where Tommy had spent most of his career. He had the credentials and experience to work in any university he chose, but high school science apparently called to him. He had a way of establishing rapport with teenagers.

Of course, it was no surprise to Alana when the Power Rangers suddenly resurfaced in Reefside within a matter of months. She'd made a habit of following them in the news, finding little connection when other groups popped up here and there over the years. But calling back to the original dinosaur origins? A new leader, appearing to be some kind of mentor, emerging quickly? Tommy's subsequent shift to wearing black as his primary color? Oh, yes, her boy was back in the game.

Then, a year later, things settled down in Reefside. Tommy's first group of seniors graduated. The Power Rangers apparently moved on. Things were settling down and Alana could return to the business of cheerfully bugging him about settling down. Hayley seemed to be a lovely girl...of course, she'd been a lovely girl back in college, too. Tommy's heart had still belonged to Kimberly, though, even though the romance was long over.

Time healed many things, but it was hard to forget the first.

A year could change a lot. A year after Tommy returned to Angel Grove, however briefly, for Jason's wedding, he was seeing someone. He wouldn't say who, only that he'd say more when he knew the time was right. Alana quickly ruled out her first few suspects. Katherine was teaching English in Japan. Hayley laughed for far longer than was necessary when approached about the matter. And that cute principal at Reefside High just blushed and shook her head when Hayley brought it up. Funny, Alana seemed to recall her being a bit more forceful when they'd first met. Of course, people changed.

Oh, boy, did they change.

Tommy called Alana up one night out of the blue, wanting to know if she was free for dinner. She accepted quickly, knowing from his tone he had something important to discuss. And when he walked into the restaurant with a lady on his arm, she tried not to strain her neck as she looked. And, as shocked as she was, she knew she needn't have been.

Times changed. People changed. Except sometimes they didn't.

It hadn't taken Kimberly long to realize she'd made the greatest mistake of her life, letting Tommy go. It had taken her 15 years before she had the courage to say anything to her friends about it. She'd dodged reunions, not wanting to face her mistakes, but the wedding had been impossible to resist. And their friends had nudged them together at every opportunity. And they'd realized that while they couldn't change the past, nothing was stopping them from making up for lost time.

A year later, they were married in Reefside.

A year after that, Alana was holding her first grandson in her arms. He looked exactly like Tommy. And as he grew and became obsessed with dinosaurs as little boys tended to - especially little boys raised by a renowned paleontologist - Alana merely chuckled. Before she handed him a plastic pterodactyl and told him to go show his mommy. The look on his parents' faces were totally worth it.

Now maybe I can sleep without this story poking at my brain! I intend to write more in this fandom, especially with a longer version of how the power couple got back together. But I need to make progress on my other works in progress first! Also, there's more in my headcanon to the story of Tommy's early years. :)