Series Presented By: Illyera and Pink-Green-White-4ever
Last Revised: January 21, 2006
Summary: It’s been a few weeks since Dino Thunder lost their powers, and Tommy has to deal with the unexpected presence of a long forgotten friend. Can they fix their friendship or are they destined to follow different paths for the rest of their lives?
Rating: T, for language.
AN: Well, this is the first of the prequel stories I chose to write for mine and Illyera’s The Battle Series epic. This one is centered on the original power couple, enjoy!
She couldn’t help but gawk at the house in the sticks; at least, that’s the best description she could come up with for the house Jason had given her directions to on her last visit home to Angel Grove. She had to shake her head, to clear the confusion, because the Tommy Oliver she use to know wouldn’t have been caught dead living out of the city for longer than a quick break to his uncle’s cabin.
‘Remember, it’s been a while since you can really say you knew him well’ she told herself, resting her head against the steering wheel. She had to wonder if she was crazy or not, for coming to his house here in Reefside, just a few weeks after his last stint in uniform, according to Jason, and years since they’d last seen each other. ‘Nineteen ninety-seven; it’s been eight long years.’
Quietly, she grabbed her purse and stepped from the rental car she’d gotten at the airport upon arriving in Reefside. It was a small town, though it had the feel of a recent combat zone because of the war the Dino Thunder Rangers had just waged, but it was rebuilding and moving past all that, much like Angel Grove had shortly after the Space Rangers had defeated Dark Spector.
Unconsciously, a hand rose to rub her chest, directly over where her heart was. Whenever she thought of what the veteran Rangers dubbed as the “Countdown” she felt her heart ache; that was when they had lost Zordon, when they had suddenly lost their connection to each other. She couldn’t fault Andros, the Red Space Ranger, for having done what he did; given the situation, she knew that none of Zordon’s Rangers, the original twelve, would have been able to do what Andros had done. They wouldn’t have been able to shatter Zordon’s warp tube to save everyone.
Shaking her head, she tried to force out the depressing thoughts. She had promised Jason she wouldn’t chicken out or think about the past too much before she had a chance to talk to him, to try to make amends for what she’d done. She could only pray to a higher power that she’d be able to fix the mistakes of a teenage girl who’d been thousands of miles away from the only home and family she’d ever known, and had let the one person who meant the most to her in her entire life, go.
Taking a deep breath, she strode forward from the car, jogged up the steps of the porch and stopped just shy of the door. Taking several more deep breaths, she smoothed the wrinkles out of the floor length pink and black skirt she wore, placed a hand over her stomach to calm her nerves, and then reached out to knock on the door.
Her eyes widened when she heard shuffling and a muffled reply come from inside. The door was thrown open, revealing a red headed woman in blue jeans and a black blouse. The woman had dark smudges across her cheeks and was wearing what looked like work gloves and a welder’s mask.
“Can I help you?” the woman asked, taking in the appearance of the young woman standing on the porch.
“I think I have the wrong house,” she whispered, biting her bottom lip.
The red head gave her a look and rolled her eyes. “Are you looking for Tommy?”
“Yes,” she squeaked out.
“He had to run into town for parts for our project, I don’t know how long he’s gonna be,” the red head told her. “You can wait, or I can tell him you stopped by.”
It was at that moment she chickened out. “I have to get back soon; will you let him know I stopped by?”
The red head nodded. “And you are?”
She smiled wistfully, before replying, “Tell him Beautiful stopped by. He’ll know who I am. Thank you.” Turning, she practically sprinted down the stairs and to her car, leaving the red headed woman watching her with an arched eyebrow.
“Well, Kimberly, it’s nice to meet you too,” Hayley muttered, closing the door and heading back to the basement as the black convertible sped down Tommy’s driveway.
“I’m going to KILL Jason!” he hollered, slamming the front door before tromping down to the basement.
“Might I ask why, before you decide to dismember the original red himself?” Hayley teased, turning from her spot at the computer.
“He said he sent me some sort of present, and that it was supposed to arrive today! I checked the mail; there was nothing for me at the post office beyond a few bills.”
Hayley sat in her chair, hands folded in her lap, biting her lip to keep from laughing and debating how to broach the subject of Tommy’s gift. Finally, she started asking questions. “Did he say it was coming by mail?”
Tommy shot her a look, as if to say ‘How else would it get here?’. “Not exactly.”
The red haired genius nodded and took a deep breath. “You had a visitor while you were gone,” she started, watching him toss his mail on one of the work tables before leaning against it, his arms folded over his chest, his eyes trained on her face.
“Really? Who was it?”
Hayley shrugged her shoulders. “She didn’t give me an actual name. She was gorgeous though, big brown eyes, a waterfall of auburn hair, very petite,” Hayley told him, watching one eyebrow shoot up.
“You said she didn’t give you an actual name? What name did she give?”
Smirking, Hayley turned from him and back to the computer. “She told me to tell you Beautiful stopped by.” Staring at the computer screen, Hayley choked back the laughter that was bubbling up. She knew Tommy was staring at her back, his jaw on the ground.
Turning back around, Hayley smiled at him. “She called herself Beautiful, said you’d know who she was. From the looks of her, my best guess is that Jason sent you a present, in the form of one Kimberly Hart.”
“I’m so going to kill him.”
“You’ve reached Jason and Harley, we’re not home right now, please leave us a message.”
“You’re a dead man when I get hold of you Bro, so you better tell Harley to start planning your funeral. The hell you mean, you sent me a present? KIMBERLY! Jason Lee Scott, you sent Kimberly Ann Hart to my house! ARE YOU INSANE! I haven’t spoken to her since…” Tommy started steaming when the beep announcing the answering machine was full sounded.
For a full thirty seconds, Tommy debated calling Jason back and leaving some more nasty comments but figured that Jason would get the gist of what he’d been trying to say.
Hayley came up from the basement then, and saw him pacing in the living room, staring evilly at his cell phone. “All you’re going to do is drive yourself crazy. Why don’t I leave you to plan your attack strategy and I’ll call you tomorrow morning and see what’s going on.”
The red haired genius waved him off. Moving over, Hayley raised her hand up and touched his cheek. “At least give her the benefit of the doubt, you never know what may come of it.”
Tommy nodded and showed her to the door, standing there until her car pulled out of sight. Sighing, Tommy turned around and headed for the phone book, but then stopped in his tracks, thinking better of it. ‘I’ll just call Jason again in the morning.’
She sat on the bed after her shower, her knees pulled to her chest and her face buried in her arms, which were resting on her legs. She had gotten two phone calls from Jason after she’d left Tommy’s house, and had answered neither. She didn’t want to talk to anyone, not now. The last bit of courage that the once graceful and mighty original Pink Ranger of Earth had, had slipped through her fingers. She’d been fully prepared to talk to Tommy, to explain, to ask for forgiveness, but then after seeing the red head, she knew she should have thought about Tommy having moved on and made a life for himself that had nothing to do with her, or their past.
The knock on her door startled her so much she cried out, having bit her lip. Warily, she got up and went to the door, peeking out the peep hole to see who was bugging her. When she saw the woman she’d seen at Tommy’s, her brow furrowed in confusion. Taking a deep breath, she unlocked the door and opened it.
“You’re probably wondering how I found you, huh?” Hayley asked.
Kim could only nod. “You probably talked to Jason.”
Hayley smiled. “No, the original Red had nothing to do with me finding you, Kimberly. I recognized you car sitting in the parking lot and figured you might need someone to talk to.”
“I don’t even know you’re name,” Kim murmured.
“I’m Hayley, technical advisor for the Dino Thunder Rangers as well as the woman who single handedly got Tommy Oliver through College.”
“Jason’s mentioned you before, said you’re like a female Billy, which is a big compliment, coming from Jason.”
Hayley smiled. “I believe Tommy and Jason gave me that nickname back in College. I’d like to think I’m as smart as Billy, considering what I did when working with the Dino Rangers. May I come in?”
Kimberly stepped back and gestured for Hayley to enter. When the former technical advisor saw the disarray the room was in, let alone Kimberly herself, she felt her heart crack. She’d heard the whole story, from everyone’s point of view, except Kimberly’s. In order to get the full gist of what had happened, Hayley fully intended for the former Pink Ranger to spill her guts.
“I’ve already heard the story countless times, how about giving it to me from your point of view and I can tell you whether or not you’re wasting your time going back out there to talk to Tommy.”
The former Pink Ranger gawked at Hayley’s sudden demand. “Excuse me?”
“Kimberly, obviously, you’re here to make amends with Tommy. But you have to face facts, you screwed up. You knew him probably better than anyone, so you know he doesn’t forgive that easily, not for something like this. I’ve known him better in the last six years then anyone, including his former teammates. I’m the one who can tell you whether or not you’re wasting your time trying to fix your mistakes where he’s concerned.”
Hayley saw the tears streak down Kim’s face, and then saw the anger burning in her eyes. ‘Good, so there is some spark, some emotion left as far as he’s concerned’ Hayley thought, a smirk sliding onto her face.
“You know what, get out,” Kimberly hissed at her, opening the door and gesturing for the red head to get out. “Like I told Jason, it was one big damn mistake for me to come back, especially after all the grief I caused. Tell Tommy I said to have a good life, and that he won’t have to worry about me coming back into it.”
The technical wizard stood from her seat on the bed and walked over until she was standing in front of Kimberly. “I’m going to tell you the same thing I told him before I left his house an hour ago, give him the benefit of the doubt as far as him accepting you back into his life, you never know what may come from it.”
With that, Hayley strode from the room, the door slamming at her back. She smiled as she moved toward her Ford Explorer and flipped her phone open, before hitting the speed dial button.
“You were right, she still loves him, and we all know he never stopped loving her. Any devious match making plans you have up your sleeve, I want in.”
There was a deep bark of laughter from the other end of the phone that made Hayley smile even wider. “Here’s what we’re going to do, Hayley…”
The first thing Tommy noticed upon opening his eyes was that it was morning. The second thing he noticed was that he could hear an incessant pounding coming from downstairs. He groaned as he rolled out of bed and threw on a pair of black boxers and a white wife beater. The former Ranger leader had spent all night thinking of ways to dismember his best friend. Of course, those thoughts only came when he wasn’t thinking about Kimberly. For the first time in a long time, he’d gone through his old photo albums and had taken a look at the girl who’d stolen his heart nearly fifteen years before.
Quickly, he trudged down the stairs and into the foyer, the pounding getting louder as he did. “ALRIGHT ALREADY! DAMN!” he hollered, unlocking the door and throwing it open.
What, or more accurately who, was on the other side, left him in a bit of shock. “Morning, oh fearless leader!” Zack quipped, grinning at his former leader. With Zack were Angela, Ritchie and Hayley.
“It’s nine in the morning on a Saturday, Zack, what the hell do all of you want?”
“We were sent here, with strict instructions, to make sure you were ready when Jason, Harley and Trini arrive in...” Zack looked down at his watch. “Two hours. So, Hayley, why don’t you and Angela and Ritchie start the clean up while I drag the former dude in black upstairs and get him ready.”
Hayley nodded and the trio set off, ignoring Tommy’s animalistic sound of protest. “ZACK!” Tommy whined as the original Black Ranger began pushing the newest Black Ranger up the stairs.
She was going to maim whoever was pounding on her hotel room door. Donning a very short, very pink robe with a crane in flight on the back, Kimberly moved to the door and flung it open. “WHAT?”
“Good morning my little crane,” Jason grinned, standing on the doorstep with Harley and Trini.
“Oh hell no! You did not drive all the way down from L.A. just to bug me!” Kimberly protested as the trio pushed their way into her room. “Go home, Jason. It was a bad idea all around for me to even be here, how do you think he’s gonna feel when he finds out you had something to do with it?”
Jason grinned at Trini and his wife before he turned back to Kim. “Well, considering Zack is over at his house right now making sure he’s awake and dressed before we get there, I’m sure he already knows I had something to do with this. Unless you count the message on my answering machine that I wouldn’t let anyone under seventeen listen to, then I’d ventured to guess he’s as pissed off as you are and knew last night I had something to do with it.”
“Why? This is painful enough; can’t you just let me wallow in my misery alone?”
“Uh, let me think about that,” Jason started, rubbing his chin with his hand. “No.”
“Kimberly Ann, don’t make me use my long distance minutes to somehow get a hold of Aisha and have her threaten to come back here to help me kick your butt,” Trini told her in a sickingly sweet tone.
“Come on Kim,” Harley spoke for the first time. “Lighten up. We’re just gonna go over, have a nice lunch with some of our friends, and then you can spill all your long kept secrets to the man of your dreams and be done with it.”
The original Pink Ranger merely glared at them, and then began to back track toward the bathroom when she noticed Trini and Harley were getting a little too close for comfort. “GUYS! NO!”
While his wife and one of his best female friends ganged up on his other best female friend, Jason smiled and plopped down in a chair. The sounds of torture could be heard from the bathroom as he pulled out his cell phone and hit speed dial.
“Talk to me!”
“You having as much of a problem as we are?”
Laughter came over the line. “Nope. He’s resigned to the fact that you’re coming, he just doesn’t know she’s going to be with you.”
“Good. I’ll call you before I leave,” Jason winced as he heard an inhumane screech come from the bathroom, one that could almost rival that of a crane.
“Was that Kimmie?”
“Yep. I set Trini and Harley loose on her. Talk to you later, Bro.”
When Jason walked through the door to Tommy’s house, he was only mildly surprised by the silence. Motioning for the others to be quiet, he moved into the living room and nearly burst out laughing. Hayley and Zack sat on either side of Tommy, making sure the latter was staying on the couch. Ritchie sat in a chair, munching on an apple, and Angela sat on the arm of the couch next to Zack, smiling.
“Gee, guys, do I even want to ask?” Jason started, motioning for the others to come in the room. When Tommy’s eyes didn’t bug out of their sockets, he figured Kimberly was hiding behind him and Trini.
“Jason Lee Scott, you’re a dead man,” Tommy told him, arms folded across his chest, his eyes never wavering from the television screen in front of him.
“I brought you something, Bro. It should make up for the morning intrusion,” Jason told him. Reaching around his back, Jason grabbed hold of someone’s arm, heard a familiar squeak, and pulled said person from behind him to stand in front of him, for the room’s occupants to see.
Tommy blanched when he got a good look at who was standing in front of Jason, looking disgruntled and only slightly terrified. “Beautiful?” Tommy automatically whispered, his voice coming out so softly the others could barely understand him.
“Handsome,” Kim responded in kind, her voice just as soft, her eyes trained on his as the rest of the room and its occupants seemed to fade away. She swallowed hard, regret filling her past full as she thought about what it was like to be in his presence again after so long.
She had loved him with everything in her, at least with everything that could be inside a seventeen year old girl. She was terrified of the fact that that love had grown with her, but so much was missing from it. The Tommy sitting on the couch was a much different person than the one she’d loved so limitlessly; that person had been a shy, awkward teenage boy who was gone for good, in his place was a man who’d seen far more than any person on this Earth. He had scars and demons to deal with, ones that her Tommy never had, and he’d had experiences in the last eight years that had changed him. The worst part was, she didn’t know if she had it in her to try and conquer those obstacles, or if he’d even let her try.
As if sensing the momentous occasion that was happening before them, Jason and Trini ushered the others out of the living room and down the hall to Tommy’s den, where Hayley took them down into the lab to show them around. Tommy and Kimberly didn’t even notice they were alone until Tommy broke their eye contact and turned to stare at where Jason had been.
Just from the look on his face, Kimberly felt her stomach roll. ‘This was a huge mistake’ she thought in anguish, watching the stone mask fall across his features. “I’m sorry.”
For his part, Tommy just stared at her, blinking in surprise. He wasn’t sure what she was sorry about, but he was pretty sure she wasn’t at fault this time. No, this whole scheme reeked of Jason and Trini. “Huh?”
She jumped. She couldn’t help it. He looked as scary now as he ever had during his evil Green Ranger days, and his voice had come out sounding dark and angry. “I’m sorry, Tommy. I shouldn’t have ever listened to them. I knew coming here was a mistake. Tell Jason, I’m walking back to the hotel and that I’ll call him later.”
It took the former Ranger leader about five seconds to realize Kimberly had turned and fled out the front door before he was up and off the couch and going after her. Tommy hit the front door at a sprint, practically flew off the porch and looked around in surprise. Kimberly was no where to be found, and he knew she hadn’t had that much of a head start to get away so quickly. Looking around, he sighed and then closed his eyes and listened. Nothing out of the ordinary could be heard. Cursing under his breath, Tommy turned around and dashed back into the house.
She was lost. Even despite years as an Angelette, she couldn’t seem to find her way back to the clearing where Tommy’s house was. She shivered, partly from fear and partly because the sun had all but disappeared. Even thought it was late summer in California, it still got cold at night.
Wrapping her arms around herself, Kim continued to walk through the forest. Because she was paying more attention to the barely seen scenery, she never noticed the large sink hole until she was already sliding down inside of it.
She hit the bottom with a thud, the sudden stop knocking the air out of her. She lay on her back, staring at the hole in the ceiling of the cavern, and sighed. There was no way in hell she’d be able to climb out of this, not without Ranger powers or climbing equipment at least. Rolling her eyes, she heaved herself to her feet and dusted off. She blinked her eyes a few times to adjust to the darkness and then realized that the walls were sorta glowing with a stranger yellow light. Shaking her head, she started off down one of the tunnels, praying that it would lead topside.
For nearly ten minutes she walked, until she found herself standing in front of a large wall with a dinosaur skeleton sticking out of it. “Ok, that is so not natural,” she muttered, reaching out to touch the bones. Her fingers glided over the neck and head, before they slipped off and managed to jar the jaw. A rumbling noised caused her to jump back in surprise as the wall slid open right in front of her, revealing what looked like a lab behind it.
Walking in, she looked around, recognizing on some level what the lab was. Of course, the photo on the wall of a team of familiar looking figures in spandex suits helped. Swallowing hard, Kim began to creep further into the lab, only to jump and squeak in surprise when the door above the stairs opened and light began streaming in from the room above.
“I was wondering how long it’d take you to find your way here in the dark,” Hayley told her, coming down the stairs. Kimberly looked horrified to find herself in the red head’s presence again.
“Where am I?”
“Welcome to the former lair for the Dino Thunder Rangers,” a new voice called, a body emerging from the shadows. Kimberly swallowed hard when Tommy stepped into the light, looking haggard and not as morning fresh as he had earlier in the day.
Sighing, Kim brought her hands up to cover her face, hoping to hide what she was feeling. The room remained eerily silent until Kim let her hands fall to her sides. What she found was unexpected. Tommy stood in front of her, but the red head was no where to be seen. “I’m sorry, I’ll let myself out,” she told him, turning to head for the wall door only to find it sliding shut faster than she could move. Flinching, Kim turned around. What she saw on Tommy’s face floored her. He didn’t look angry, he didn’t look hurt, and he definitely wasn’t appalled by the sight of her. Instead, he looked almost happy to see her.
“Kimberly, why did you run?”
‘Which time?’ she asked silently, but held her tongue. It wouldn’t due to travel that path, at least not yet. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Tommy was…grinning at her! Kimberly actually felt the shock ripple across her features when he grinned that oh so familiar grin at her. She felt her eyes water slightly at the sight of his near smile, knowing that she had once wondered if she’d ever see it aimed at her again.
“I know you better than that, Beautiful,” Tommy started, moving to sit down at one of the two desk chairs by the bank of computers and monitors. He sat facing her while she stood there, her hands having automatically gone to rest on her hips as she took an almost defensive stance in front of him. “It’s been eight years, Kim, but I still know you better than anyone.”
“You don’t know me half as well as you claim, trust me on that one,” Kim shot back, irritation at his words thickening her voice.
“You gave Jason and Trini a head full of gray hairs with your disappearing act this morning,” Tommy told her, resting his chin on his hand, his elbow resting on the arm of the chair for support.
“Serves them right, now doesn’t it?” Kim grinned, watching him shake his head in amusement. “I am sorry about this morning, Tommy. I don’t think it was supposed to happen quite the way it did.”
Tommy just shrugged. “If I had been home the first time you came over, it would have been a hell of a lot easier on us both.” As he watched her standing before him, Tommy noticed several things at once.
The first thing he noticed was that she was more beautiful now than she had been even in high school. Her once shoulder length auburn tresses were now styled so that they framed her face, her body was still toned and firmly muscled, years as a gymnast showing well on her. However, it was her eyes that had him intrigued. Inside those doe brown depths, where innocence, tenacity, grace, and a golden heart once shined, now lay an awareness of the world and a loss of innocence not even three years as a Ranger had ever been able to dim.
The next thing he noticed was the way she was standing. She looked so small, even in the cramped quarters of the lair, and she looked frightened. There were emotions bouncing off her and assaulting his own senses that Tommy knew he’d never fully understand. She had experiences he’d never be able to comprehend, and some he wasn’t sure he wanted to try and understand.
The last thing he had to admit he noticed was that while she had grown up, while she had changed in ways he was sure he’d never begin to guess, underneath it all was the girl he’d loved so endlessly. And yet, she was hidden under so many layers, Tommy wasn’t really sure if he was imagining she was still there or if she really was.
“Jason said you had a few things you wanted to talk to me about,” he started after the long pause, watching her pale slightly. Jason had said so much more after Kim had disappeared, but Tommy knew Kim wouldn’t appreciate Jason spilling her secrets to him without her knowledge.
Jason had said she wanted to apologize for the mistakes she’d made, for the way she’d broken up with him, and that she wanted to try and at least be friends again. Tommy wasn’t sure what to think, or hadn’t been when Jason had sat with him on the front porch steps and told him the reason for the madness that morning. Since he’d had all day to think about it, Tommy realized a few very important things.
He sorely missed having his best friend around. While Jason was like a brother to him in every way except one, Kimberly had known all his hopes, all his dreams, all his fears and all his insecurities. She had been the one who’d been on the phone with him late at night, helping to calm him. She was the one who had loved him unconditionally, at least until Florida had gotten in the way. If nothing else, he knew he wanted that friendship back. He didn’t think they’d ever evolve past that, not after what had happened to them, but he was willing to try and get their friendship back.
For her part, Kimberly stood there, her hands behind her back, and simply stared at him. “Let me say what I have to, and please don’t interrupt. I’ve only got enough courage left for one last try,” she told him, her voice coming out in a broken tone that had Tommy frowning even as he pushed up from his chair and walked to her.
They stood less than a foot apart, with Kimberly looking up at him. Tommy could tell she was fighting back tears; it was only with him and maybe Trini and Aisha that she’d ever completely cut loose and cried. “Kimberly, before you start, let me say something.”
“You have more courage, more tenacity, and more selfless determination than any person I’ve ever known. Don’t you dare stand there and try to tell me you don’t have the courage to speak from your heart. You, the one who has always been the heart and soul of our group, have never been afraid to speak from your heart.”
Kim swallowed and allowed a few tears to streak down her cheek. “You’re wrong. If I hadn’t been afraid to speak from my heart, you’d have never gotten the letter.” Kim’s lips trembled slightly when Tommy’s face contorted with the old pain of the object that had destroyed their relationship.
“Tell me,” he whispered hoarsely.
She wanted to closer her eyes and or stare at the ground as she told him the reason she’d broken off with him, but she knew she couldn’t. Tommy deserved to see it all in her face, and she deserved to see his feelings for her and what she’d done to him on his. “As you can probably imagine, Florida scared the hell out of me. I was alone for the first time in my life; no friends to lean on, no family to be my cheerleaders, no team to save my butt, and no you, to love me, to hold me, to tell me everything was going to be ok. The first week I was there, it was an attitude adjustment of the likes I’d never seen.”
“You never told me,” he whispered, reaching out to touch her cheek.
“How could I? You guys seemed so proud of me; you wanted me to go as badly as I wanted to go. How could I tell you that it was hell on Earth after only being gone for a week? I didn’t want to disappoint you any more than I wanted to disappoint myself. And besides, I felt like I had to see this through for another reason.”
“Because you gave your place on the team to Katherine,” Tommy murmured softly.
“Yes. If Kat could adjust to saving the world, I figured I’d better learn to adjust to competing on an international level if I ever wanted to come home with my head held high. You have no clue how many times I wanted to pack my bags, or grab my communicator and call Billy and tell him to bring me home.”
“Probably as many times as I wanted you to be home with us, with me,” Tommy told her softly, feeling his heart quiver as she unconsciously rubbed her cheek against his palm.
“After the first week, I pretty much settled into a routine. I made a few friends, but the girls were pretty focused on themselves and making the team. And then my correspondence with you and the others in Angel Grove started getting spotty. It was my own fault.”
“No it wasn’t entirely your fault. We all knew how my writing skills were back then, and I never asked if the others wrote to you.”
Kimberly just closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She didn’t want to tell him what had happened next, but it needed to be said. “I lied to you, Tommy, to all of you.”
The look on his face when she opened her eyes broke her heart all over again. He had never looked so betrayed, and she realized this must have been the look he’d had when Adam had read the letter to him. “There was never anybody else; there’s never been anyone else. I was terrified, Tommy. Absolutely terrified.”
“Because after a while, I stopped thinking about Angel Grove, stopped thinking about my friends, stopped thinking about you and focused on what was going on around me. It shook me to the core when I realized I’d gone nearly a month after Christmas without thinking about you once.”
“Why the letter Kimberly?” he asked, knowing he was finally going to get the real reason behind the breaking of his heart and the end of what he had thought would last forever.
“Because I’m a coward,” she told him, stepping away from him and moving to walk around the lab. It was the coward’s way out, she knew, to not stand there and watch him when she told him. “I knew you were so busy with everything else going on, and I knew that no matter what, you’d always wanted the best for me. It took me nearly two weeks to work up the courage to write and send it to you.”
She whirled around then, to face him, and saw the look of anger and confusion and absolute hurt on his face. “Tommy, I was selfish. I had to set us both free, in my mind, so that we could get on with our lives. I hated being three thousand miles away from you, and I hate hurting so much because I missed you more than you will ever know. So I did the only thing I could to stop from hurting.”
“Dammit Kimberly! We could have talked about it! Made a mutual decision!” he roared, anger and hurt nearly a decade old bubbling to the surface. “I’d have given you all the time you needed, all the space you needed! I LOVED YOU!”
Kimberly blinked, tears falling down her cheeks in a salty river. “And I loved you, but I was tired of hurting, Tommy. And I knew you were just as hurt by me being there as I was. I made the biggest mistake of my life the night I dropped that damn letter in the mailbox, and I’ve paid for it for nearly ten years.”
“Why? Why couldn’t you have believed in us enough to keep fighting?” he brokenly asked her, the tears and emotions he’d been holding back finally coming out. He hadn’t been able to cry when he’d first gotten the letter, at least not in front of anyone but Jason. He’d never cried when he’d been with Katherine, not once, but with Kimberly, in the here and now, he let the tears and the reign on his emotions go. Even after all the hurt she’d caused, he was still able to let her see what no one else really had.
“Because I was tired, Tommy; I didn’t have the strength to keep fighting. And another reason, now that I’ve had time to sit back and think about it, was that I was subconsciously comparing us to my parents.”
Tommy snapped his mouth shut at that. He remembered all too well what it had been like for Kimberly after her parents had divorced. While he hadn’t actually been around for the divorce, he’d been around her soon enough in the wake of it to know that it had scarred her so deeply that it was bound to have lasting effects on her view of relationships and marriage.
“I saw what happened when my parents were separated by distances because of work. My father sought the comfort of another woman while my mother was stuck taking care of me and my brother. I wouldn’t have been able to take it if…”
Tommy hugged her to him so quickly neither had time to really register the act or react to it. They both knew what she’d been about to say, and it hurt them both deeply. “I loved you; I wanted you, and only you. I’d have never…”
“Tommy, I know that, now that I’ve had years to dissect the entire situation, but at the time it seemed like my parents all over again, and I thought that it would only be a matter of time before you found someone else. I didn’t have the time or the energy to socialize with anyone outside of the team, not even the men’s team, and they trained and lived in the same building we did.”
The look she was giving him said everything she wasn’t. She had thought he’d seek comfort in Kat, which he had eventually, sometime after Kimberly had broken up with him. “She wasn’t you, and we all knew it.”
“No, she wasn’t. She was herself, and she was a better Ranger then I ever could have been. She was a beautiful and extraordinary addition to the team. If I regret anything, it certainly won’t be giving her the chance to prove herself, and to make amends for what happened.”
“She couldn’t take your place, Kim. I admit, I tried to let her, after the letter, but in the end, I realized I couldn’t let her be you. I made a lot of mistakes myself, and I’m going to take my fair share of the blame for the demise of our relationship.”
“Tommy, it wasn’t your fault. You were saving the world, and I was being childish. I’m the one to blame.”
“I should have come after you,” he told her, resting his head on top of hers. He hadn’t had her sp close to him in a very long time, and he found he liked the feeling entirely too much. “I was too focused on saving the world that I buried myself in it after you left, because I didn’t want to face how much I missed you, and it only got worse after we broke up. I should have defied everything and come to see you. I let you go without a fight, and I’ve always wondered if I had fought, if we’d have had our happy ending.”
That one thought caused Kim to sob softly, burying her face in Tommy’s chest. She’d always wondered if things had gone differently if they’d have had their happy ending too. After a few minutes of crying, she pulled back and wiped her eyes, before staring up at him. She had one last thing to ask him, and prayed that now that they’d cleared the air that she’d get her wish.
“Yeah?” he asked, looking down at the woman who was still in his arms.
He smiled, the first genuine one she’d seen on him all day. “Only if you forgive me.”
“I miss you,” she whispered softly, causing his eyes to sting with tears. “I miss having you in my life. I miss our friendship.”
Tommy blinked away the tears. “I do too. Friends?”
“I’ve missed you, Kimberly, more than you will ever know,” he told her, hugging her tightly even as she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him back.
“I should probably go. Jason’s probably freaking out by now.”
Tommy chuckled. “He’s upstairs making phone calls. They decided to camp out here and if you didn’t call before tomorrow morning, we were going to call in a few favors.”
“You mean like a certain group of former Rangers who’ve all worn red spandex?” Kimberly pointed asked, pulling away enough to look up at him.
“How’d you know about that?” Tommy asked.
“Someone had to beat up Jason for his ‘Kissing on Kimberly’ comment. I happen to have met T.J., who told me all about the little mission to scrap Zedd’s overgrown beast.”
“Well, since Harley married him, I’m guessing all parts are in working order,” Tommy laughed as he nudged her toward the stairs.
“They haven’t had any children yet, so I don’t know if that’s entirely true,” Kim laughed back, flying up the stairs.
“KIM!” Trini cried out, rushing forward to pull her best friend into a hug when the pair walked into the living room.
“Trini! AIR!” Kim gasped, but was refused when Jason and Zack joined the melee.
“Guys! You’re smothering her!” Harley chastised from the doorway to the den.
“Back off!” Tommy roared, scaring them all away from Kim, who leaned back against him when he stopped right behind her.
Gasping, Kim tried to catch her breath. “Thank you.”
“So it looks like you guys worked everything out,” Angela smiled, walking into the room with Hayley and Ritchie.
“You could say that,” Tommy grinned, sliding his arm around Kim’s shoulders. Kimberly, for her part, snuggled closer to him on instinct.
“Where have you been?” Jason and Zack growled a second later.
“Giving myself a self guided tour of the forest, falling down a giant sink hole, and finding myself in a lab that obviously once housed a Power Rangers team before having an all out brawl with Tommy,” Kim told them, her voice deadly serious. She looked up at Tommy and winked, causing him to chuckle.
“My God! I’m kidding, well at least I am about the brawl with Tommy. You could say we fixed our mistakes, and we’re back to being friends again. Right?” Kim asked even as Tommy nodded in agreement.