Kat Lee (katleept) wrote,
Kat Lee
katleept

The Power of Friendship

Title: The Power of Friendship
Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Saved by the Bell
Character/Pairing: Lisa, Slater/Jessie, Lisa/Screech, Zack/Kelly
Rating: PG-13/T
Challenge/Prompt: smallfandombang
Warning(s): Future Fic
Word Count: 11,941
Summary: When Lisa finally returns to Bayside, it's with troublesome news, but she is to be reminded that nothing is impossible among friends, especially friends who are always there for each other no matter the consequences.
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Peter Engel, not the author, and are used without permission.
Author's Note: Check out the fabulous art paynesgrey did for my story here!






She watches the churning waves as her mind turns through her own history, of which the waves almost seem to sing. She can remember being chased through them by her father’s strong arms, being caught and swept high, feeling as though nothing could ever hurt her, as though she was protected for all time. He would have protected her from this, had he been able, but no human being can prevent another from contracting the dreaded disease which is even now ravaging the insides of her body.

Lisa presses a hand to her stomach as she feels another wave of nausea pass through her. Some days, that’s the worst. She thought it was morning sickness at first, which was silly, considering how few times she now let men go all the way. Most of them only seemed to want to get in her jeans and use the name on the back of them. They were looking for ways to become models, and just like she and her friends were once used by a sleazy producer who claimed he wanted to make them big stars, she now has young men, and handsome ones too, practically throwing themselves at her in hopes she’ll choose them to model for her brand.

But very soon, it’s not going to matter what she thinks about who’s modeling for her brand or even what clothes her brand is producing. They’ll find another fashion designer, and eventually the new girl’s name will replace Lisa’s even on her designs as they’re made fresh. She’s been in Hollywood long enough now to know how the city works. It feels good not to be there now. It feels good to be home, even if she is bringing such a burden with her.

But she has to tell them, she thinks yet again. The tabloids will be putting the news out soon enough. She doesn’t want her friends or family to read it in the papers first. She wants them to know that she still loves them enough to tell them herself. She wants them to hear it from her, not read it in some damn paper who’s making yet more money off of her name. She just doesn’t know how to tell them.

She has to start with her mother, Lisa thinks, and she’s going to have to tell her tonight while she’s at home. She’s meeting with all the old gang tomorrow, and her mother deserves to hear it from her first. She still doesn’t know how to tell any of them though. Tears well in her dark eyes. She blinks them down, acutely aware of no matter how many times she thinks she’s cried all the tears she could possibly possess, her body somehow still finds more.

She wipes them away and turns as she hears laughter. Teenagers are running down the shore, laughing shrilly. A guy catches a girl in his arms and spins her around before bringing her down the hard, young length of his body and kissing her. Was she ever that carefree? Lisa wonders, but she knows she was. The real question was why she never found that kind of love.

Her friends did, but she never did. She never married. She had her fair share of guys -- more than her fair share, really --, but there was never anyone who lasted. She moved away from them all eventually, or they moved away from her. She never married. She never had children. And now she never will. Perhaps that was the reason why she never had a lasting relationship other than her few precious friendships: God knew that she wouldn’t last long enough to raise a child. He knew that marrying her would only lead to hardship and sorrow for whichever man was stupid enough to take her on on a full-time basis, to put his ring on her finger, to share his name with hers.

This time, the tears do slide down Lisa’s face. She swipes at them again, her long, designer fingernails gently scratching her tender flesh. But then she just lets them flow again. As the seagulls cry out and the waves laugh their joy, Lisa lets herself cry. She has every right to. She’s dying after all, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

🐱 🐢

She’s shaking inside as she walks into the Max. She used to spend hours here every day -- this was the place to be as a teenager, and from the hordes of teens still milling about, it must still be --, but she hasn’t been here in years. Of course, she hasn’t been in Bayside in years.

“Lisa!” She looks up as Kelly calls out her name. Her old friend hurries to her and embraces her before taking a step back and looking at her with a critical expression. Kelly’s still as beautiful as she ever has been -- her married and even maternal life seems to agree with her --, but Lisa knows she’s lost a lot.

“Lisa, you look -- “ Kelly struggles for a description that will still be honest but yet not hurt her friend.

Lisa forces herself to smile. Rain’s moving in, and she can feel every inch of it in her bones. It even seems to hurt to smile. She wonders again how long she has. It’s not like the doctors were able to tell her that -- or much else. “I look terrible,” she says for her. Her expression seems to add emphasis to her words as she says, “I know.”

“I -- I didn’t mean it like that. You’ve lost weight,” Kelly points out, trying to be helpful.

“Yeah,” she murmurs in agreement. “A hundred pounds.” Fifty of which she hadn’t been trying to lose.

“Lisa!” Zack calls from across the busy fast food joint. “Come join us!” He waves at her.

“You were actually able to lose your kids for a while?” Lisa asks in surprise as she and Kelly walk over to their old table. She realizes that it’s the same table and is about to comment on that remarkable fact when Kelly, with a shrug, answers.

“Yeah. They’re with my mom. You’d think after raising my brothers, sisters, and me, she would have had enough of being a mother forever, but she still loves to babysit them. She claims being a grandmother is different.”

“It must be,” Lisa mutters, thinking of how her own mother has so often been on her case for her to get married, settle down, and have children. She rarely misses an opportunity to remind her that she wants to have grandchildren to spoil while she’s still “young”, although she did miss last night. The extra key had still been underneath the doormat, and Lisa had been able to let herself in only to find a note from her mother saying that she’d been called in to work. She’d been asleep when Lisa had gotten up this morning, and Lisa, rather than wake her and have to tell her the painful news which she still wasn’t sure how to deliver, had just let her sleep.

“What about you?” Kelly asks, glancing at Lisa’s bare hands. Lisa usually wore rings, but today, her fingers had felt swollen and she’d opted to let them go free. “Still no engagement ring, I see.”

“Don’t you start,” Lisa tries to tease her, but the words come out sounding considerably harsher than she intended.

Slater glances up at them as he takes another big bite of his cheeseburger. “She’s waiting for Screech.”

“Don’t you dare!”

“Ah, my lady love!” The dork who had haunted her every moment in school flourishes his arms. “You are as beautiful as he ever!” he declares, and Lisa wonders if he’s blind or just stupid. Screech has always been a dork, but he’s never been stupid. He’s always been one of the smartest people she’s ever known. She glances around them in search of the other brainiac. “Where’s Jessie?” she asks.

“She called yesterday,” Slater tells her. “She had to reschedule her flight, something about the case she’s working on, but she’ll be here tomorrow. I’m going to the airport to pick her up.”

“Can I go with you?” Lisa asks, instantly regretting the question even as it leaves her big mouth. She wants to get this painful process over as soon as possible; yet, she still doesn’t know how to even begin to tell them.

Slater shrugs carelessly, finishing his cheeseburger. “Sure. Why not?” He licks ketchup from his fingers.

“Can I get you anything, Oh Beautiful One?”

“You’re offering to buy?” Lisa asks Screech. “That’s a first.”

“I’ll buy anything for you -- well, anything I have the money for any way!” He beams eagerly up at her.

Lisa makes a face. “No thanks.”

“Sit down,” Zack says, waving a hand at the booth. Lisa realizes that Kelly has already taken her seat beside him and she’s the only one still standing. She quickly sits down, as though that could bring any less attention to her. “Can we get you something?” Zack asks. “Forget Screech -- “

“You had to bring him with you, didn’t you?” Lisa teases but sees Screech’s face fall out of the corner of her eyes. “He’s enough to ruin any girl’s appetite.”

“Lisa -- “ Kelly starts to protest, and Lisa realizes immediately that she’s gone too far.

“No. No. Stop,” she says, reaching out and grabbing Screech’s hand before he can run from the table. Silent tears stream down his long face. “I’m sorry. I’m not myself today.”

“Well, Lisa, you’ve never really been nice to Screech, but that was a little much even for you.”

Lisa nods. “I know. And you are a friend, Screech. A good friend.” He brightens a little and stops crying. “I guess I’m glad you’re here, because I do have to tell you something.” Her eyes glance nervously at all their faces in turn before falling back to the table. “I have to tell you all something,” she whispers. “I just . . . I -- I don’t know how . . . “ Her words trail off. Tears well again in her eyes.

She really doesn’t know how to tell her dearest friends, her only lifelong friends, the news she was told a week before she left Hollywood. But she has to tell them. It’s a wonder the rag papers haven’t already gotten hold of her results and spread the news, making profit off of her for one of the last times they’ll be able to do so. She doesn’t know how to tell her mother, either; that’s why she just let her sleep this morning.

“Just tell us,” Kelly speaks softly, reaching across the table, grasping Lisa’s hand, and giving her a gentle squeeze meant to be reassuring.

“You know you can tell us anything, Lisa,” Zack adds, smiling at her from where he sits with his arm around his beautiful wife’s slender shoulders. She’s reminded of the time they almost fell in love and what a gentleman he can be when he really wants to be.

“We’re not going to run from anything you tell us,” Slater remarks in between bites of French fries dipped in ketchup. Oh, how she used to love that food! Now the mere thought of biting a fry makes her nausea well up again. “And we’ll help any way we can.”

“Nothing can change how beautiful you are.”

“Really?” Lisa asks softly. “What if I told you this was a wig?” she asks, gesturing with her free hand to her long, dark hair. Her other hand holds still more tightly to Kelly’s.

The others look at her with wide eyes. Even Screech’s eyes widen considerably, but then, with a humble nod, he only says, “It’s a beautiful wig. You always did choose the very best of things.” As he says those words, their eyes meet. She never realized before how deep and lovely a blue his eyes are. But then he flinches at his own words. His face falls again, and he mutters, looking away from her and at the empty spot of seat between them, “No wonder you never loved me.”

For some reason, his words stab her heart. She’s just debating reaching out to him -- Does she dare? She knows how crazy he can be. -- when Slater’s phone rings. He answers it without thinking, his mouth full of fries, “Slater.”

“Miss Phillips!” He frowns. He recognizes the voice crying out to him across the distance, but he’s certainly not a Phillips -- or a miss! “I’m sorry,” Jessie continues to almost babble as he, following a gut instinct, places the call on speaker, “Miss Phillips, but I’m going to have to drop your case. I simply do not have enough evidence to convict Jared and Peter Convasleckey. Perhaps you need a better lawyer than me.”

There’s the sound of a struggle and urgent, whispered voices in the background. “Jess -- ?” Slater starts to ask, but already the call has gone dead in his hand. Slowly, he raises big, dark eyes full of worry to the other equally concerned faces surrounding the table. “What the Hell was that?” he demands.

“She called you Miss Phillips.”

“Twice.”

“The Mamas and the Papas,” Kelly comments. “Weren’t most of their last names Phillips?”

“Yeah,” Slater confirms, slowly nodding. “So?”

“So,” Zack says, catching on to his wife’s strain of thought, “you always used to call each other Mama and Papa.”

“I know that, Preppy,” Slater nearly barks, “but why the Hell would she call be a Miss anything?”

“It’s some kind of code,” Kelly says. “She’s trying to get your attention.”

“She damn sure did that! But why me? And what the Hell’s she trying to say?”

“She’s in trouble,” Zack speaks, slowly deciphering the message. “She called you, because she can’t call the police. Somebody is trying to force her to give up that case. Do you know what she was working on?”

Slater shakes his head, but Kelly speaks again, “I do. There was two guys who robbed a store clerk. They held her at gunpoint and threatened to kill her.”

“But why call her to drop the case? Shouldn’t the store be representing her?”

“Because either whoever is holding her doesn’t know that she would be working with the store’s representative instead of the actual cashier who was robbed,” Slater surmises, “or it’s the actual cashier going up against them in court.”

“I don’t see that happening.” Kelly shakes her head. “I’ve done plenty of retail jobs along the way, and so have my sisters. She would have to stand up in court, but she wouldn’t be the primary one bringing the charges against them.”

“But the big picture here,” Lisa says, eager to get them to look at something other than herself, “is that Jessie’s in trouble. She needs our help.”

“But why call me?” Slater asks again. “I’m not a cop!”

“Because she’s trusting we won’t let her down,” Zack says. “She’s always said you were the best guy she ever dated.”

“Really?” Slater asks, looking at him in surprise.

Zack nodded.

“Come on,” Kelly interjects. “We all know you two would still be together if she hadn’t gone away for first her education and then her career.”

Slater doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t even look at the others. How can he when they obviously have such faith in the feelings he once shared with the beautiful, vastly intelligent, amazing woman who now needs his help? She would have dumped him even if she hadn’t gone to Harvard. He was never worthy of her. He was always out of her league, not quite as far as Lisa being out of Screech’s league but still nowhere near worthy. “But what the Hell can we do? She’s back in New York!”

“Then we go to New York,” Zack says firmly.

“How are we going to find her?”

“Give me that phone.” It’s a quiet demand that Screech nearly whispers, but a demand nonetheless. Slater looks at him in surprise but silently hands over his cell. He watches as Screech hits several buttons and some kind of strange map comes up on his cell’s screen. Screech hits more buttons, zeroing in on a certain location before handing him his cell phone back. “That’s where she’s at,” he says quietly, “at least right now, but we’re not done here.”

Slater looks at him doubtfully. “We’re not -- ?”


But Screech has already turned away from him and is looking at Lisa as though she still holds his whole world. “Something’s wrong with you too,” he says point blank. “What is it?”

Lisa stares at him for a long moment, and then, silently, she starts to cry. “Lisa?” Kelly asks from across the table, her voice sounding hollow and as though coming from far away. She moves quickly to squeeze into the seat beside her. Her arms go around her.

Lisa burrows her face in Kelly’s blouse, and at first, no one can make out the words she says. “Lisa, what -- ?” Zack starts to ask from across the table, but Kelly waves at him to be quiet.

She lets Lisa cry for a while longer before gently lifting her face. She touches her as gently as she would any of her daughters, and Lisa can see the look of a genuinely concerned and good mother as Kelly gazes down into her eyes. “Lisa,” she asks gently, “what is it? What’s wrong? Whatever it is, we’ll help you, but you’ve got to tell us what’s wrong first.”

Lisa sorrowfully shakes her head. “Nobody can help me,” she whispers forlornly, still not looking at her friend. “I’m dying,” she whispers the words that seem to still have the ability to hurt her by just hearing or thinking them. “I’m dying, and there’s no cure for what I have.”

Behind her, Screech wails, and for once, she doesn’t feel like telling him to shut up. Kelly’s eyes fill with tears as well, and as they start to slide down her face, she asks, “What do you have?”

“Pancreatic cancer,” she blurts out the answer. It’s the first time she’s said the words aloud together.

“Damn,” Slater says from behind them. They turn and look at him as Screech continues to wail louder and longer, tears flowing nonstop down his pitiful face. Even Slater has tears in his dark eyes. “I had a friend with it,” he tells them, “met him wrestling.” He shakes his head. “It’s one of the worst ways to go, and she’s right: There is no cure for it.”

“Then we’ll find one!”

“It’s not that easy, Preppy.”

“He’s right: it’s not. Zack, I appreciate it, but if one could be found, don’t you think the doctors would have found it by now?” Lisa shakes her head again and dries her own eyes. “There’s nothing you can do to help me, but there is something we can do to help Jessie. She wouldn’t have called otherwise. We have to help her. We have to do whatever we can to stop those people from hurting her.”

“Lisa, by the time we can book a flight -- “ Slater starts.

“And it would take too long to drive it,” Kelly adds mournfully.

“We have to help her,” Lisa insists, pushing Kelly away. She stands on her own, booted feet but has to grasp the bench’s back for support as the room circles around her. Pain cinches in her gut, but she ignores it, curling her long fingers more tightly around the bench. Her friend is far more important than any pain. “I have my own plane now. It’s at the airport. I just have to find a place for us to land in New York. What part of New York is it?” she asks Slater.

“Albany,” Slater answers, glancing at his phone again.

“Lisa -- “

“No, Zack,” Lisa says, holding a hand out at her friend. “I’m doing this. With or without you all, I’m doing this. I may have to die.” Screech’s wail at those words is almost deafening. “But that doesn’t mean I have to sit back in my last days and watch Jessie die before me. It’s not going to happen!” She seems a little off balance as she walks away from them.

Kelly reaches out to her, but she darts out from beneath her hand. She calls back to them without looking back, “In thirty minutes, I’m leaving for New York and for Jessie. You’re either with me or you’re not.” Tears are again streaking down her cheeks as she walks away from her friends, but she doesn’t look back. She just keeps moving. It’s not just her life on the line now, and while there’s something, anything, she can do to help Jessie, she’s going to do it. If she dies in the process . . . well, it will probably be a less painful death than the cancer eating inside of her at this very moment. She keeps moving and doesn’t stop.

“Damn,” Slater whispers, awed.

“Girl’s got stones,” Zack comments.

“And so do we, Preppy.”

“We’re out of our league on this one.”

“There’s a reason she didn’t call the cops.”

“She needs us,” Kelly speaks up from where she’s now holding Screech and patting his back. “And we’re going to be there. Screech,” she says as gently as she can, “I need you to pull it together.” She stops patting him but still holds him. “I need you to help us.”

Screech is shaking all over, but he does try to wipe away his tears. More fall, but he still looks up at Kelly. “What do you need me to do?”

“Make sure Mom knows we won’t be back any time soon, but don’t you dare tell her what’s going on!”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“If you have to, arrange for another babysitter to take over. You have a key to our place.”

Screech nods obediently, but then he turns back to Slater. “Give me your phone again.”

“You’re getting demanding,” Slater teases, but he nonetheless hands over his cell phone. He watches as Screech taps a string of commands he doesn’t understand before handing it back to him. “There,” he says. “The signal should stay with the phone. No matter where they move it to, that red dot should always show up so you’ll know where the phone is. When you get closer to them, you’ll see a green dot. That will be your phone, so when the two dots are close -- ”

“We’ll know we’re on top of them,” Slater concludes for him, looking at his friend in utter amazement. “Screech, you’re -- “

“You’re not coming with us,” Zack comments, surprising Slater and Screech and making them both look up at where Zack now stands, holding his wife’s hands.

“I love you, Zack,” Kelly tells him, “but if you think I’m staying here when one of our very best friends needs our help, you’d better think again.” She kisses him quickly, then walks away.

Zack, left standing alone, shakes his head.

Slater smirks up at him. “Trouble in paradise, Preppy?”

“Shut up,” he growls.

Lisa’s heading to Paradise, Screech thinks silently and sorrowfully. She’s heading there, but somehow, he’s got to stop her from getting there. Without a word to either of his friends, and still quietly crying, Screech stands and walks out.

🐱 🐢

“You know how to fly this thing?” Zack asks in amazement as he leans over the controls, looking at all the multitude of buttons and levers.

“Not really,” Lisa admits. “I know the basics -- how to take off and land --, but the Auto Pilot’s great.”

Zack gulps visibly, and his tanned skin seems to a pale a little beneath his blonde locks. She grins up at him. “I’m not making you nervous, am I?”

“I just wish we had more time,” he says, his voice dropping to a low murmur, “especially to get a real pilot.”

“Zack, we have to move, and we have to move now. I could walk out there on the landing strip and offer any pilots I saw some serious money to take us, but the plane flew me from Hollywood to Bayside without a problem.”

“It’s a lot further going to New York, Lisa.”

“Yeah, and the more people we have involved, the more likely someone is to either be bought out by whoever these people are who have Jessie or call the authorities. There’s a reason she didn’t call the cops, Zack. A lot of things happen where the authorities really don’t need to be involved, and getting them involved will only make matters worse.”

He looks at her in surprise. “You sound like you’re talking with the voice of experience?”

She shrugs. “I’ve been in Hollywood for a while now. My designs go across the globe, which means I’ve gone pretty much all across the world with them. Trust me when I say sometimes getting the cops involved is a bad idea.”

“Okay, Lisa,” he says, lowering his head with a sigh. “This time, we’ll go Auto Pilot, but if anything happens -- “

She almost tells him the same thing she told herself when she first took off in the plane alone: If anything happens, she’s dying anyway. “If anything happens,” she says aloud, “Jessie’s screwed. She needs us there, and she needs us there now. Go sit down and buckle in until we’re in the air.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Zack answers, and Lisa can’t seem to stop the giggle that bursts from her suddenly smiling mouth.

“Now that,” she says as he ducks out of the cockpit and walks away, “is definitely the voice of experience talking!” Her brown eyes shine with rare joy and delight: Kelly has taught her man well!

🐱 🐢

Kelly and Zack are in the back of the plane, keeping their conversation low and quiet between them, when Lisa finally emerges from the cockpit. She’s satisfied that the Autopilot will keep them safe now that they’re out of California, but her concern instantly shifts when she sees the worried look on Slater’s face. Holding to the chairs to keep her balance, she stops when she reaches his and sinks into the chair beside him. “Don’t tell me,” she teases, “you’re afraid of flying.”

“No,” he says even as she notes the whites of his knuckles where his hands are gripping his knees. “I just . . . I just keep thinking, Lisa, what if we’re not on time? What if we can’t do this? I’m a wrestler, not a fighter, not a cop -- “

“I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Zack,” Lisa tells him. “If Jessie wanted the cops involved, she would have called them. I don’t know the details of what’s happening any more than you do, but I know she didn’t call them for a reason. Sometimes, getting the authorities involved just makes things worse. She chose to call you instead.”

“Maybe I should’ve called my Father -- “

“General Slater? Hell, no! Slater, if you’d called your father, he’d have that place surrounded by now with so many soldiers and cops that they would have probably killed Jessie on the spot! They’re looking out for cops, not expecting civilians, not expecting friends who will stop at nothing to save their friend! I’m telling you: we’re Jessie’s best bet!”

“What happened to you in California?” Slater asks, looking curiously and directly into Lisa’s chocolate brown eyes.

She sighs. “More than I would like.” She rubs an arm with one hand as she says softly, “Let’s just say money really does rule this world. We saw a few examples of that in school, you know, like with that photographer who almost tricked Kelly into going to Paris until we found out exactly what kind of photos he was planning to take of her and that actor who had us all doing that ‘no dope’ ad but was doing drugs the whole time. Those are the kind of people who are in charge of this world.”

“I have very few men working in my company,” Lisa continues to confess to him, “and most of those who are are gay. I choose my models carefully, and I’ve managed to get many of them away from bigger companies not because I can offer more but because I offer a safe work environment. But I had to get big before I could do that. I -- “ Her voice trails off, and she shudders with a memory.

“Lisa,” Slater says gently, both wanting to touch her but being afraid that she might take his gesture of concern and reassurance the wrong way despite the many years they’ve known each other, “don’t tell me you -- “ He pauses in trying to find the right wording, the most delicate way to put what he’s afraid she’s about to tell him. How would Jessie say it? “You compromised your values?”

“No!” Lisa denies immediately. “But I came close, awfully close, Slater, so many times.” She shakes her head at the memory, and as her curls bounce, the plane seems to too. Slater doesn’t appear to notice any turbulence, so she chalks it up to the cancer and the things the horrid disease does to her mind and tries her best to ignore it.

“There were so many guys,” she tells him, “and girls too who tried to get me to do things I didn’t want to do, things I knew was wrong -- But I got lucky, and my first investors were all guys. Crossdressers, believe it or not, transvestites who had no interest in bedding a woman.” She starts to shake her head again but changes her mind at the memory of how dizzy the simple motion had made her feel a moment ago.

“I owe a lot of my success to them,” she continues, realizing that they are another set of friends who she is eventually going to have to tell the horrible news. Maybe she can set one of them up to take over the company. She smiles at the thought. The world still fears what it doesn’t understand, but if one of her guys dresses as a woman and maintains a feminine identity . . .

Maybe her company, and all it’s come to stand for over the years, won’t be as bad off without her as she’d thought it would be. She’s proud of what it stands for, and she knows Jessie, who first inspired her to take a stand, would be as well if she knew about everything that happened behind the scenes at Lisa’s Fashions. It’s a safe haven for models and other workers of both genders and all sexual orientations. Maybe there’s a chance it can continue without her. Maybe her name, when the world is at last ready to embrace everything that really does happen inside her company, can even come to mean something besides just fabulous fashions.

“What are you smiling about?” he asks.

“I have a lot of plans to make,” she explains, “a lot of things to set up before my death.”

For the first time, the words slip out of her mouth with ease. He stares at her, and she looks away from the tears she sees reflected in his dark eyes. “How long do you have?” he asks.

“They don’t know,” she says as gently as she can. “It could be a year or two. It could be months. It could be a month. It’s too early to tell, they say, because they can see how the cancer has progressed but not how fast this has all been happening or how long I’ve had it. They want me back soon so they can keep running tests, but I told them I had to make peace.” She looks up and toward the back of the plane, where Zack and Kelly have quieted and thinks of Slater, Jessie, her mother, and even Screech. “I had to tell my family,” she explains, a lone tear trailing down her face.

He leans forward, wraps his strong arms around her, and hugs her. The moment lasts too long. She could stay in his embrace forever, and it’s not because she feels anything romantic toward him. He’s become like a brother to her over the years, the big, protective brother she, being an only child, never had. Finally, she gently pushes him away. “Enough of that,” she says, her voice wavering as she wipes another tear away. “What about you?” she asks, leaning back in her chair and looking thoughtfully up at him.

He grins, and his dimples shine in the dim light of the plane. “What about me?”

“What are you going to do?” she asks him. “When we meet up with Jessie again? She called you, you know.”

“Like I could -- “

She places a finger on his lips to quiet him. “Of all the people she could have called, Slater, of all her friends and family and connections, she called you.”

“Well, like you said earlier she probably didn’t want the police involved -- “

“I know she didn’t want the police involved,” Lisa says, dropping her hand back to her side. “If she’d wanted cops, she would have called cops, but for some reason, she doesn’t. It’s New York. There’s a good chance there are bad cops in the precinct, and she didn’t want to risk getting the wrong one. But even so there are other times when you really, really don’t want the cops involved.”

“Like?” he asks and waits patiently for her to explain.

“Like if they’re holding somebody who they’ll hurt if you call the cops. One of my girls, one of my models,” she clarifies, “did something horrible with a producer, because he told her that he’d fire her sister from her first, steady acting job if she didn’t. That was bad enough, but I know there have been cases where people have threatened to kill other people if their hostages didn’t cooperate. If somebody had Kelly, for example,” she asks him, “do you really think Zack would stop at anything to make certain she was safe, or would he just let them kill her?”


Slater’s quiet for a moment, mulling over her words. “You’re right,” he says at last. “He’d do anything to save her.” And he would do anything -- will do anything to help Jessie. He doesn’t know what they’re going into. It might all be a huge mistake, but if there’s any chance at all that he can help her, that he can save her, he has to do everything he can to help her and stop the bad guys who have her.

He’s never been a fighter -- not physically --, but he’s fought in other ways. He used to fight against his father all the time. He fought to get a home where he could stay, and then he fought to keep it. He fought to get pass Jessie’s defences once upon a time, and then he fought to keep her happy and loving him until he’d known he had to let go of her if she was to have any chance of making the future she deserved. But now she’s calling for him again. “She really did choose me,” he whispers.

Lisa pats his leg. “Yup, she did, Pikachu, so I suggest you get ready for this fight.” Fatigue is overcoming her again. She can feel it inching into her body, sliding across her flesh and leaving goosebumps in its wake. It seems even to slide into her very bones, up her body, around her flesh. She yawns.

He circles her thin shoulders with a strong, muscular arm. “You don’t think I should’ve called some of my friends?”

“You got any connections in New York?” she asks him.

He pauses for a moment before admitting, “Not that I know of.”

“It’s just us, Slater,” Lisa tells him, her eyes sliding closed. “It’s just us -- you and me, Zack and Kelly, and Jessie, God help her -- but we’ve done the seemingly impossible before. Whatever happens, we have to try. At least, as long as we try, if I die, my life will have meant something.” Her last words are whispered, barely audible.

“Lisa, it already means something -- “ Slater starts to tell her, but she snores lightly. He realizes she’s asleep as her head droops toward his shoulder. He moves closer, pulls her closer, and holds her as they fly to New York, as they fly to Jessie who needs him now more than she ever did before. He shakes his dark, curly head in wonder and emits a deep sigh. Lisa’s right. Whatever’s waiting for them in New York, they have to try, and for whatever reason, they have to try it alone.

“Kelly’s praying,” Zack announces, dropping into the seat across from him.

“You know,” Slater whispers softly, indicating with a tilt of his head Lisa’s sleeping head on his shoulder, “that might not be a bad idea.”

Zack looks at him incredulously. “You really think it could do some good?” he asks.

Slater starts to shrug but stops, remembering Lisa. “It can’t hurt,” he answers.

Zack looks thoughtful for a while before finally standing again. Just before he can head back to his wife, Slater’s voice gives him pause. “But you know, Preppy, out of all the people we could be doing this with, I’m glad you’ve got my back.”

Zack reaches down and clasps Slater’s shoulder, the one Lisa isn’t sleeping on. He smiles down at him. “I wouldn’t have anybody else at my side, Slater,” he says truthfully before walking away to join his wife in prayer. Slater lowers his head, closes his eyes, and prays to any God who might be willing to listen and help.

🐱 🐢

The hacker drills his fingers across his desk, a rare sign of his impatience. He is fully aware that what he is now doing is highly illegal and could land him in jail for years, but he is just as acutely aware, with every breath he takes, that the very next second could be the one wherein the love of his life takes her last breath. He can’t let Lisa down. He can’t let her die. He can’t just stand idly by and do nothing, and if he’s to succeed in his mission, he has to have information, information he doesn’t have time to wait to come to him, especially when she will first have to give permission.

If he tells her what he’s thinking, she’ll just laugh at him, but one of the few things Samuel Powers has never taken for granted in this life is the mind with which he’s been gifted. He built a robot in junior high and has been making inventions for as long as he can remember. He’s toyed with curing cancer before and other diseases as well, but he’s never given it his utmost attention as he should have. He’s never focused on it and kept his focus there, but then it’s never been as important as it is now for him to cure a killing disease.

He has to save Lisa! He has to save her or his mind and all God has granted him is for naught. He has to save her or his own, most cherished dream will never come true. She’ll never love him. Even if he saves her, he doesn’t expect her to love him. He finally came to grip the realization that she will never love him sometime while they were in college together. That is one dream that will never happen but one that he will always cherish, like he cherishes her friendship and her bright presence in his otherwise dreary life.

But if he fails to save her, she’ll never understand just how much she does mean to him. Screech would give his own life for hers in a second and never regret it, but he can’t save her by giving his life. He has to use his brain. He has to use what God gave him, as his mother used to tell him. He has to use his mind to save her, and when he does, maybe she’ll finally see him as more than a dork. She’ll never love him, but maybe at long last she’ll value him at least a little bit.

He perks up as the hospital’s files begin to load. Quickly, he scans the patients’ names and finally breaks into a grin when he sees hers. “This is it, Kevin,” he says as the robot comes closer. He reaches out, grabs his soda, and takes a long swallow before digging into Lisa’s file and all the X-rays the hospital has of her and the cancer that is killing her.

🐱 🐢

“They’re in there,” Slater hisses between clenched teeth. His heart is hammering so fast and hard he can barely hear himself talk.

“Are you sure?” Zack questions, his voice just as low.

Slater waves the phone in front of him. “If Screech programmed this thing, right, then yeah, it’s them.”

“Screech doesn’t always get everything right -- “ Lisa starts.

“He got this right,” Zack says, drawing startled gasps from all three of his friends as he pulls a gun out of a hidden holster strapped to his shin. “He wouldn’t let us down on something like this.”

Slater eyes Zack’s hand pistol but carefully nods. “Preppy’s right. The dork did good this time.”

Lisa rolls her eyes. “I hope you’re both right -- “ she starts to say.

“If you three don’t shut up,” Kelly snaps, surprising them all, “they’re going to hear us!” Zack gapes as she pulls out a gun. “What?” she asks, making Slater cringe away and Lisa back up, her hands held in front of her, as she waves the pistol for emphasis. “You didn’t think you were the only one who got a gun that time I had a stalker, did you?”

“You said you wouldn’t -- “

“I’d already bought it. I didn’t learn how to use it until last year when Jonathan wouldn’t leave Rebecca alone.”

Lisa looks at her friends through widened eyes. “A long story,” Zack says, waving the discussion away with his free hand. “We’ll tell you later.”

“Are we going to do this,” Slater demands, “or just stand here yapping all day? Kelly’s right. The more we talk -- “

“The more likely they are to hear us,” Zack agrees, “so no more talking.” He kicks at the door, but it doesn’t open.

Slater glares at him, then slams his right shoulder against the door with all his strength. He feels it breaking underneath him and kicks it open the rest of the way. He hears a squeal as he stumbles forward. Catching his balance, he looks and sees Jessie still tied in a chair. She looks at him through wide, shocked eyes and squeals again against the gag in her mouth.

“This looks like a trap,” Lisa comments but hurries toward Jessie nonetheless. Slater, gripping the two weapons he’d carefully chosen from his selection of sporting gear -- a steel baseball bat and a hockey stick --, looks around them and edges closer. Zack and Kelly come in last, their guns both at the ready.

“I don’t believe you didn’t tell me!” Zack hisses at his wife.

“It’s not like I have to run everything by you, and you were away working on that game show at the time!”

“You know I don’t do location work much any more!”

“I know, and I appreciate it! That’s why I didn’t tell you how serious things had gotten until the show was over! But I had to be able to protect our family!”

“You could’ve gotten a dog!”

“And had yet another body to clean up behind?!” she asks incredulously.

“You two, shut up!” Slater snaps, but it’s too late. A man steps in through the splintered door frame, a gun at the ready in his hands, while another steps out of a side room, also holding a gun. Slater swallows. He’s never liked guns. Growing up on military bases, he knows too well about all the things that could go wrong with untrained people handling guns, but maybe he should have bought his own a long time ago. Unlike Zack and Kelly, and quite possibly unlike the two skinny-looking punks sliding toward them, he actually knows how to use one and is a good shot. That’s perhaps one of only two things his father has ever done right for him, the second being allowing him to stay in Bayside and with these very people whose lives are now very much in danger.

“Ow!” Jessie complains as Lisa rips the duct tape off of Jessie’s mouth. The gag falls out of her mouth. “Lisa, what are you doing?!” Jessie demands as Lisa stands in front of her, her back to her friend, and doesn’t move.

“Saving you,” Lisa answers out of the side of her mouth, “hopefully.”

“How cute,” one of the two strangers sneers at the gang. “You sent for your friends.”

“You can all die together,” adds the other.

“Wait!” Jessie cries out as he aims his gun for Lisa. “Jared, listen to me! You don’t want to be involved in this! Maybe your brother’s a killer, but you’re not! But if you let him kill, you’ll go away for the same time, possibly for life!”

“All you had to do was hand over the evidence,” the first man tells her. “We would’ve let you go.”

“I still have it on me,” she announces.

“What?!”

“But . . . But we searched you!”

“You did search me,” she says, “but it’s hidden. I’m wearing a Lisa Turtle bra. She has a secret area in the bra that’s completely hidden unless you know just how to work the extra padding!”

“What?”

“It’s true,” Lisa says, a smile chasing over her scared face. “I am -- “ At Slater’s sharp look, she changes her mind and says instead, “I’m a huge fashion fan. I just love Lisa Turtle’s designs! And she does do things like hidden pockets to help women hide things and be safe all the time.”

“Lisa, get it out of my bra.”

“Jessie!”

“Lisa, get it out of my bra!”


“Wait a minute. You’re a fan of Lisa, or you are Lisa?”

“Her name’s Lisa . . . “ Zack thinks quickly. “Milano. She’s just a fan.”

“Of course she is! You’re such an idiot, Jared! Like a famous fashion designer is going to risk her life to help this stupid, little lawyer!”

Jessie’s jaw sets. Of all the things she’s ever been accused of, being stupid isn’t one of them. That’s the last thing she is, but for once, she’s also smart enough to hold her tongue.

“Just get it out of my bra, Lisa, and give it to them! Give it to Jared, and then he’ll let us go free. Won’t you, Jared? You don’t want to be a murderer! Stealing’s one thing, but I know why you did it. Your wife’s dying, and you didn’t have the money to pay for her chemotherapy treatments. You figured if you did one quick and easy robbery, you’d be set. You could take care of her, probably go somewhere where your brother would never find you again -- “

Peter looks sharply at his kid brother. “You wouldn’t do that to me!”

“Wouldn’t he?” Jessie asks. Slater starts to move toward her, but the sharp look in her eyes warns him to stay still. “You’ve been getting Jared in trouble his whole life, Peter! You’ve never been a brother to him! You’ve always used him, always gotten him to do exactly what you wanted, but, Jared, if you do this, you’ll never get to live pass it, pass your brother! You’ll spend the rest of your life -- and the rest of your wife’s life -- spending time for a murder that doesn’t have to happen!

“All you did before was robbery! Peter was the one with the gun! It’s all on the surveillance tape! It’s all there! All you’re really guilty of is accessory to robbery! I can get you out with months, possibly even just community service!”

“I’m telling you: it’s all there! Why do you think he wants the proof so bad? Peter’s done wrong before, but he’s never been caught! He wants to pin the robbery on you! If they look into your backgrounds, you both look like you’re troubled, but only you come out looking like you have a real motif! You got into this mess, because you love your wife! You did the wrong thing for the right reasons! It’s not too late to do the right thing!”

“SHUT UP, BITCH!” Peter yells. He points his gun at Jessie, but Lisa steps in between the gun and her friend again. If someone’s going to die today, she’s determined it will be her. She’s already dying after all.

At the same time that Lisa moves, Slater also moves. Dropping his hockey stick, he slams his steel bat with all his strength straight into Peter’s hand. Peter drops the gun but not without squeezing the trigger. It fires. Lisa throws herself over Jessie, but the impact knocks them both to the ground.

“Get the chip out of my bra!” Jessie tells Lisa again as Slater follows his first strike up with slamming the bat as hard as he can across Peter’s face. Teeth and blood spit out from the man’s mouth as he falls back.

Zack moves fast, and he’s beside Slater before Peter can attempt to get back to his feet. Kelly keeps her gun trained on Jared as Zack shakes his head once, his gun cocked and pointed right at Peter’s face. “Uh uh. I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“They’ll lock you away -- “

“For defending ourselves?” Slater questions. “I don’t think so.” He stomps Peter’s gun hand and grins smugly as he hears bones break and the man screams. He steps back just as Jessie throws the chip Lisa’s just given her from her own bra to Jared. It lands in front of his feet.

“Do the right thing, Jared,” she tells him. “Don’t do it for me,” she adds, shaking her head. “Do it for your wife. Do it for the person you first got into this mess for.”

Clearly contemplating everything Jessie is telling him, Jared moves slowly, one hand raised in a sign that he means no harm yet to Kelly. She doesn’t move her gun from him, but she does let him bend and pick up the chip. He turns the tiny, black object around in his fingers, looking at it puzzledly.

“I have cancer,” Lisa tells the stranger, bringing a startled gasp from Jessie, while Jared’s clearly debating. “It’s killing me. When I heard the news, I was devastated, but when I first began to think clearly, do you know what the one thing I wanted was?”

Mutely clinging to the chip, Jared shakes his head.

“Of course you don’t. We don’t even know each other, but like Jessie here, I’ve learned to recognize a desperate soul. All I wanted, Jared, was to be with my family.” Tears begin again to streak down Lisa’s face. “All I wanted was to be with the ones I love and who I know love me.”

“That’s all your wife wants right now: is to be with you and your kids, if you have any. She wants to know she’s loved. She wants to be home, and home isn’t a place. It’s not where you’re at. It’s who you’re there with. She wants to be with you, Jared. If you go to jail, she won’t get that, and she’ll have to face everything alone. If you love her,” she concludes, “you won’t do that to her.”

Jared stares at her, dumbfounded. Kelly lowers her gun. “Kelly!” Zack snaps at her, but she shakes her head.

“It’s okay,” she tells him, bringing out her cell phone instead and handing it to Jared. “Do the right thing,” she adds her voice to the others’. “For your wife.”

Jared looks scared and lost, and his troubled eyes seek Jessie for help. “What do I say?” he asks.

“Tell them you’ve got a real criminal for them to pick up,” she says as Lisa finishes undoing her bonds, “and tell them you have a confession to make. Talk to Detective Sellers, only him. They’ll make a deal with you, and he’ll help you.”

Jared nods slowly, but as he begins to press buttons on Kelly’s cell phone, his brother yells at him. “DON’T YOU DARE LET THESE PEOPLE TURN YOU INTO A COWARD!” Slater hits him again with the bat, knocking him to the floor once more, but Peter raises again to his knees, wipes blood from his mouth, and continues screaming at his kid brother, “YOU THINK YOU’RE SCREWED NOW BECAUSE YOUR LITTLE BITCH IS DYING?!”

Jared eyes flash darkly at his brother. “Hit him again for me,” he mutters, turns his back on him, and makes the call. Behind him, he can hear Slater’s bat striking his brother straight in the mouth. “Detective Sellers, please.”

As Jared waits for Sellers to take the call, Lisa moves slowly to Slater and Zack and the man held between them. She takes fuzzy, pink handcuffs out of her designer bag and hands them to Slater. “Put these on the scum.”

Slater grins. He doesn’t ask her where she got them from but quickly latches them onto Peter’s wrists. “You made a mistake,” he tells him as he cuffs him. “You captured the wrong woman.”

“No,” Jessie disagrees, rubbing her wrists as she walks over to join them. “He made a worse mistake than that. He underestimated the power of friendship.”

“Is that right?” Slater asks, looking up at her.

She smiles, her nose crinkling in the same motion he’d always loved when they had been growing up together. “Yeah.”

He stands and walks over to her, leaving Zack to keep Peter on his knees with his hands cuffed behind his head. He slides his arms around her waist. She doesn’t protest but steps closer instead. “Why did you call me, Mama?” he asks her.

“Because the first man I always think of when I actually need a man,” she tells him truthfully, tenderly stroking his smiling dimples, “is you, Papa.”

“Am I still your Papa?” he asks softly, almost meekly.

She grins up at him, her eyes sparkling with joy, delight, and most of all, love. “I told you you always would be,” she reminds him, “and you always have been.” She kisses him then, and for the first time in a long time, Slater feels complete.

🐱 🐢

Across the nation and a week and a half later, a Scientist stands and looks down through his microscope at his creation. The cells are wriggling, full of life, and eager to be used. He’s worked hard on creating them, but they’re not his first batch. He’s made several throughout the last week and been disappointed time and again. Luckily, he has a bunch of free guinea pigs to try his creations upon. He’d never use them on animals, but it’s easy to get a dying man to risk everything for something that is both free and might very well cure him.

Screech stands erect, lifts his head, and squares his shoulders. “Show me the X-ray, Kevin.” His robot obliges. “Next.” He notes the difference in the next X-ray and calls again, “Next.” One at a time, he reviews them all until he’s grinning from ear to ear. He looks back through his microscope at his little soldiers and begins to hum. He’s almost there. Now he only has to clone more of his babies and put as many as he can into capsule form.

🐱 🐢

After Peter is safely locked behind bars, Jared is helped by Jessie and Detective Sellers to only get three months jail time followed by a year of community service, during which he can see and care for his beloved wife. It’s two weeks from the events in New York that first brought them all together again when Jessie, Slater, and Lisa are sitting back at the Max, waiting for their friends to catch up with them. The first sign they have that Zack and Kelly have arrived is the squalling of a baby. “Sounds like Screech,” Lisa comments, smirking, as the couple enter surrounded by a ragtag bunch of children.

“You couldn’t find a babysitter, Preppy?” Slater asks when the family has come closer.

“Mom says she’s not babysitting again for a month!” Kelly says, laughing. “Our bunch really drove her crazy in that week we were gone!”

“I couldn’t even convince Belding to babysit,” Zack grumbles, making the whole group laugh. But above the uproar of their friends’ laughter and the squealing of their children’s voices, Zack beams at his cherished wife and adds, “But I wouldn’t be anywhere else.”

It takes them a good half hour to get all their children settled into a booth and munching away on cheeseburgers, fries, and sodas, which is all only going to add more energy to their already overly enthusiastic children. Zack and Kelly embrace, still watching over their children and making certain they’re going to be fine. “Do you mean what you said?” she asks.

“What? That I wouldn’t be anywhere else?”

“Yes.”

He knows the fact that he gave up his career in Hollywood so that they could move back home has long been an unspoken matter of contention between them. They had first come back to take care of Kelly’s brother, who had been in a bad automobile wreck, but even after they’d eventually lost him, Kelly had rediscovered a new passion in life. She was happy as a nurse at the local hospital, and Zack, most of the time, was happy to work from home, doing voice-overs and other such jobs that did not actually require his presence in a studio, and was surprisingly satisfied to take care of their children, especially after this latest call where he’d been reminded of just how very much his family does mean to him.

As they kiss and their children fuss over how gross it is, Slater smiles. His arm is around Jessie, where it’s always been meant to be, but he well remembers fighting with Zack for years for Kelly’s attention. There is no longer any doubt in his mind, however, that they both got their soul mates and the women and lives for which they were always intended. He leans closer still, whispers in his Mama’s ear just how much he loves her, and kisses her hair.

She laughs, smiles, and swats him away, but then her attention is drawn to Lisa, who’s watching the door. “What is it?” she asks her friend. It’s still hard to believe Lisa is dying and harder still to understand that there is nothing she can do to stop it.

“Has anybody heard from Screech?” Lisa asks.

“No, not since we’ve been back,” Slater admits, frowning. “Why?”

“I thought you didn’t like him -- “ Jessie teases.

“Of course I don’t like him, not in that way! Who would besides Violet?! But I do care about him, and . . . “ She lowers her eyes in shame. “I don’t want the last thing I remember of him,” she whispers, “to be his crying over my dying.”

“I’ve seen him at the hospital a couple of times lately,” Kelly offers, walking over to join them, her hand in Zack’s.

“Really?” Lisa sks, surprised.

“Yeah.” Kelly shrugs. “I think he’s volunteering or something.”

“I’m supposed to meet Mom there after lunch.” She stares down at her untouched fries, which, along with a water, was all she had ordered. “And I’m not hungry. Maybe I should go ahead.”

“Maybe we should all go.”

“I can stay and watch the kids.”

“No,” a familiar voice intrudes. “You should all go.” Max smiles at them.

“Are you sure?” Zack asks.

Before he can change his mind, Kelly hugs the owner of the restaurant in which they’ve spent large parts of their lives ever since junior high. “Thank you, Max. You’re the best!”

“How much?” Zack wants to know as Kelly tugs on his hand.

“Let’s say we have an autograph signing this Saturday from every Baysider’s favorite wrestler and fashion designer, and we’ll call it even.”

“Max, you devil, you!” Lisa exclaims, laughing.

“Deal,” Slater says, standing and offering his hand to Max.

“Not so fast,” Kelly interjects. “Slater can do it this Saturday, but Lisa may need some time.”

“Kelly!” Lisa hisses in warning.

Kelly shrugs and catches her bottom lip with her teeth. She looks, with big eyes, up at her husband.

“Give Lisa a couple of weeks,” Zack requests.

Max looks between the two love birds and doesn’t ask questions. Instead, he just offers, “We’ll make it a couple of weeks for both of them.” He shrugs. “That will give me more time to promote the event any way.”

Max shakes hands with Slater first and then Zack. The friends quickly leave although it’s Zack who has to pull Kelly away from their children this time.

🐱 🐢

“Mom,” Lisa says, walking unannounced into her mother’s office at the hospital, “you wanted to see me?”

There’s a young, dark-haired doctor standing with his back to her. He doesn’t turn around from studying some kind of chart which Lisa can’t begin to understand until her mother confirms, “Yes, we did.”

“Screech!” Lisa cries, doing a double-take as the man in the doctor’s uniform turns around. “What are you doing here?!”

“He’s been here a lot, Lisa,” her mother tells her, “over the last week. He’s been working diligently ever since you told him you were dying of pancreatic cancer, which you told your friends before you told your mother -- and we will talk about that later, young lady! But he’s developed something, and I want you to try it.”

“What is it?” Lisa asks cautiously, looking uncertain at both her mother and Screech.

“We think it might . . . help with your cancer. I want you to take this medicine, Lisa, then lay down in room 412. Nobody else is in there at this time. Your friends are welcome to join you. But take all three of these,” she says, laying three pills in Lisa’s hand, “and drink all of your water, and then lay down.”

“Mom . . . “

“Lisa, it’s going to help with your cancer.”

“They don’t have a cure for it.”

“Yet. There are many diseases in this world that still lack cures, but it doesn’t mean that some medicines don’t at least help to lessen their effects. Take the medicine, drink your water, and lay down. That’s an order, young lady.”

Lisa glances at Screech, whose eyes are big, red, and wide with deep, black bags underneath them but who has yet to speak a single word. She looks back at her mother as her mother presses a cup of water into her other hand. “Yes, ma’am,” she finally agrees and walks from the room, feeling very much like a child again.

Kelly and Jessie flank her as they walk through the corridor, looking for room 412. “I see why you say she’s so bossy,” Kelly whispers.

Lisa shrugs. “There are advantages and disadvantages,” she admits, “to being an only child. Daddy’s death didn’t help. She’s been even more protective of me ever since, and she doesn't like me living in Hollywood.”

“Hey, none of us do,” Kelly teases. “We don’t like Jessie living in New York either.”

“That may change,” Jessie murmurs and blushes.

“No way.”

Lisa stops walking and turns around. Zack and Slater aren’t with them, having stayed behind to talk with Screech. “You’re kidding!” she exclaims. “Has he asked?!” She looks at Jessie’s hands, not grabbing them only because her own hands are full of the medicine and water. “I don’t see a ring yet!”

“That’s because he hasn’t asked yet,” Jessie admits, “but I think, if he doesn’t ask soon . . . I think I’m going to ask him.”

Lisa and Kelly both squeal their delight. “Only one thing, girl,” Lisa says sternly after they’ve settled.

“What?”

“You’ve got to promise me you’ll do everything you can to get married before I die.”

The words are said in a teasing tone, but Jessie receives them solemnly. “Of course I will,” she says and hugs Lisa tightly, careful not to spill the water or knock the pills. “I’ve got to have both my bridesmaids after all. I think it’s kind of a tradition with us.”

Lisa grins.

🐱 🐢

“Screech,” Zack asks, “what have you done?” He had known from the moment Kelly had started acting odd at the Max that something was going on, and he hadn’t a chance to pull his wife alone to his side and demand answers from her.

“I -- I think -- Maybe -- “

Lisa’s mother reaches out and touches Screech’s shoulder comfortingly. “He doesn’t want to say anything yet, Mister Morris. He’s afraid of jinxing it. I’m not superstitious, but I do respect a scientist’s beliefs.”

“Scientist?” Slater echoes, dumbfounded.

“A very brilliant Scientist,” Doctor Turtle insists, “who has done a very brilliant and generous thing. After Lisa takes that medicine, she’ll be out like a light. In three hours’ time, we’ll be able to tell you what Samuel has done and rather or not it worked.”

Zack stares at his friend. “You didn’t -- “

Screech just smiles and shrugs. His eyes fall to his tennis shoes, though, rather than keeping his best friend’s gaze, and the wait begins.

To Be Concluded . . .

Tags: saved bt bell: ensemble, saved bt bell: screech/lisa, saved bt bell: slater/jessi, saved bt bell: zack/kelly
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