Still no reunion. I wonder if Dr.O and Kim are going to meet before Kira figures out who she is. Kira is smart and will probably get teh answers before Dr.O even knows she is there. Great Chap. I cant wait to read more. I am dieing for the reunion. Also, what is going on between Jason and Kim. When did they together? How did they get together? Why are they getting a divorce? Did Jason cheat on Kim? What made Kim decide to changer her name?
It's amazing how many of you have ideas for what's actually happening - some are right, some are wrong, but all of them are fun! That you're wondering is about the highest praise I can get - it means you're involved
thanks for reading guys - after this last month or so from hell, it's giving me a much needed boost
"Kira, do you have a minute?"
Pausing on her way out the door to her next class, Kira stepped beyond the students who were leaving and towards Doctor Oliver's desk. "Sure, do you want me to grab-?"
"No, no," Tommy smiled faintly, understanding her head twitch towards where Ethan and Connor were just leaving the room. "I just have a favor to ask."
"Sure, Doctor O. What's up?"
Sitting on the corner of his desk, Tommy removed his glasses and rubbed his forehead. "You've spent time with the new music teacher."
"Ms. Scott? Yeah - we're going to jam at lunch today."
"Will you be in the music room?"
"That's the idea. Unless she decides to go somewhere else. Why?"
"Randall." The distaste in the science teacher's voice was unmistakable. "I've got to introduce myself to Ms. Scott today or suffer through a forced introduction. I tried going by her class this morning before the first bell but she was late and I had to get back here before the bell rang. Every time I try to track her down, she disappears. I just need you to keep her in the music room for me."
"Sure thing, Doctor O." Glancing towards the clock, Kira looked back at him indecisively. She had a minute or two before she'd be late for her next class - but he needed to know about the incident that morning. A quick look towards the door showed that his next class hadn't begun arriving yet, but she pitched her voice low anyway. "I know why Ms. Scott was late this morning. She wouldn't have been, but we got jumped by some old friends this morning outside the school."
"Are you alright?"
Kira rolled her eyes. "Fine, but Ms. Scott didn't run - she wouldn't even after I told her to. She fought Doctor O. and she knew how."
"Did she order you away?"
"She tried, but once she realized I wasn't going to run - and I knew she wouldn't - it was like... like when I fight with you; she knew how to fight in a team and she was able to hold her own."
"There's more - she's not afraid of them."
Tommy was suspiciously silent, and Kira noted that his expression was the stoically blank one that seemed to come over his face at the oddest moments of late. He met her gaze and she was surprised to see nothing; Doctor O. was normally pretty easy to read, but it was as if he'd shut himself off completely. "You should get to your next class, Kira."
Thus dismissed, she looked back only once, noting that Doctor O. appeared to pull himself together but also seeing that his smile was forced. Something she'd said had upset him and she hadn't a clue what it was. But she'd have to worry about it later. Darting away, she took off at a run for her next class.
"Trent!" Kira skidded to a stop next to his locker as he was just closing the door. "Can I talk to you?"
"Sure," his gaze dropped to her guitar. "Can I walk you to the music room?"
"I'd like that." They fell into step, their pace slower than normal and Kira took a deep breath before plunging into why she'd sought him out. "Would you like to join us for lunch?"
He glanced her way, but didn't look as surprised as she'd hoped. But then, stoic seemed to be a Trent personality trait that reared its head at the oddest times. "I wouldn't want to intrude - and before you say I wouldn't, you know I would. You'd never be able to concentrate if you were worried about me enjoying myself."
Much as she hated to admit it, he was right. With a grimace, she conceded the point. "Maybe, but I'd still like to do lunch with you."
"How about tomorrow? I've got some new sketches I'd like to show you."
"Sure, but I'm buying," Kira grinned. "I feel guilty for brushing you off."
"Free lunch?" Trent returned her grin as they stepped into the corridor that led to the music room. "Who could say no to that?"
"Not you, I hope."
"Not me," he stopped outside the music room door, which was partially open, his tone turning teasing. "Alternatively you can buy me dinner at Hayley's tonight."
"I might just; did you want to walk over after school? We could hang and you could show me your sketches then."
His smile faded. "Dad's picking me up again tonight - family stuff. Can I take a rain check?"
"Sure. But... I'll see you at Hayley's later, right?"
Trent turned to leave and Kira let him go, puzzled by the sudden quietness the mention of his father had brought on. Her memory replayed the conversation - short though it had been - and the one near her locker the day before. Something was really eating at him and it had to center around his dad. She knew Trent was adopted - it wasn't like it was a huge secret - but she doubted that was what was causing the friction between father and son.
There was something else... something in the puzzle she didn't yet understand. Something-
"Kira - you're early." Drawn from her thoughts, Kira turned to find Ms. Scott standing in the doorway to the music room. "Who's your friend?"
"Friend?" Glancing back, Kira saw Ms. Scott looking Trent's way and she fought a blush. "Oh, that's Trent. He hangs out with us sometimes."
"What? No!" Ms. Scott arched her eyebrows and Kira winced, this time blushing as she realized she'd been a little too vehement in her denial. "He's nice, but... uh... I mean-"
"He's shy?" Stepping back into the classroom, Ms. Scott headed for where she'd left her guitar, Kira following her in. "Shocking as this is going to sound, I do remember what high school boys are like."
"Not shy, exactly," Kira hedged, reluctant to discuss her crush at great length. "He just sees me as his friend, that's all."
"If you like him, you might just want to tell him - otherwise he might never say anything."
"I couldn't." Putting her guitar down, Kira kept her gaze on her hands as she undid the lock and flipped the lid open. "I might ruin our friendship if I did and he didn't like me back."
"Or you might get a pleasant surprise out of it and he does like you back."
"You sound awfully certain."
"Life has a way of teaching you to reach out and take a chance if you want something - especially in a city where monster attacks are common."
Kira let the comment on monster attacks pass, still preoccupied by Trent. "Is that what you did?"
"Not exactly." There was amusement in her teacher's voice - and a tinge of sadness. "The boy I liked was just as shy as your Trent sounds and he never did get the nerve up to tell me."
"So you told him?"
"I.. gave him a sign he couldn't mistake for anything but what it was."
Kira sighed. "It's more complicated than, Ms. Scott. Not that I don't appreciate the advice, but - much as I like Trent - I have more important things to worry about than boys right now."
"Like those things that attacked us this morning?" Pulling her guitar across her lap, Ms. Scott shrugged the shoulder strap down into place. "Any idea what they were anyway? Do they have a name?"
"They're Tyranodrones - and they show up all over the city at the strangest of times." Collecting her own guitar, Kira realized she sounded as if she knew a lot more than she should and backpedaled. "At least, that's what the news says. Usually the Rangers-"
"Rangers?" Kira missed the sudden gleam of understanding in her teacher's eyes. "As in, Power Rangers?"
"You've heard of them?"
"We had Power Rangers where I grew up too. It's hard not to hear about them." The dry tone her teacher took caught Kira by surprise. "Usually they were the only ones strong enough to take on whatever Rita and Zedd threw at them."
"You're from Angel Grove?"
"I was a long time ago." Ms. Scott regarded her student shrewdly. "You drew that conclusion rather fast."
"I uh..." Oops! "I did some research when the Rangers first appeared." It exactly a lie. When Doctor O. had been kidnapped, his little 'Ranger history' video had been practically mandatory viewing material. A warning bell went off in the back of her brain, warning her she was missing something important, but she hadn't a clue what. "Rita and Zedd were the first of a couple of Big Bads to focus on the city, right?"
"So what was it like, you know, growing up in the city where the Power Rangers showed up for the first time in recorded world history?"
"Much the same as it is growing up around here, I suspect. Fighting, screaming, destruction - par for the course in a city continually attacked by forces of evil."
Her guitar forgotten in her lap, Kira leaned forward eagerly. "Did you ever meet the Rangers? The original six I mean?"
"No one really knew who or how old they were, so it's hard to say. But I was lucky enough to met them a couple of times."
"Really? Which ones?"
"All of them. The White Ranger in particular saved me a couple of times."
That little tidbit of information was like getting drenched by ice water. "The... White..." Doctor O! "Uh... wow. That's pretty cool. So... is that where you learned to fight like that?"
"Fighting like them." Going for nonchalance, Kira wasn't sure if she achieved it - and steering the conversation away from Doctor Oliver was kind of important. Would Ms. Scott recognize the man who'd saved her from certain death after all these years? "I mean, there's a lot of archive footage about the Rangers."
"With a monster attack every few days, there wasn't really any need for footage," Ms. Scott conceded, strumming a chord on her guitar. "We were just as likely to see the real thing as we were to see a news report. It certainly stirred up a lot of interest in martial arts, though."
"So you took lessons?"
"I was a special case. My gymnastics kept me busy most of the time, but I had a couple of friends who made a point of ensuring I knew how to defend myself. I used to spar when I was first married but that tapered off after a couple of years. I'm surprised I remember it after all this time."
Sure she was - Kira didn't believe her for a moment. Ms. Scott had been too cool, too competent under pressure to be someone who didn't train regularly. Not to mention she was one of the most athletic fighters - post fight complaint non-withstanding - Kira had ever seen. Only Doctor O. - a man who worshiped Martial Arts like some kind of religion - came close to touching her.
"So martial arts was just a hobby? Like playing your guitar?"
Ms. Scott laughed, but there was a brittle note Kira didn't miss. "Something to let off steam, sure. Not as productive as plucking the strings though. Enough about me, how about you? You held your own for someone who spends most of her spare time with her guitar."
"Doctor O. has been teaching us."
Kira mentally winced. She was supposed to be steering the conversation away from the science teacher, not towards it. "After school, he sometimes holds these martial arts self defense lessons. Not a lot of people know about them though."
Good question. Why not indeed. "Uh... 'cause it's still in a pilot program?" Kira bent her head to her guitar, strumming the strings to check the chording. "He's a paleontologist so he doesn't have a lot of extra time when he's working on a dig. You'd have to ask him, but I think it's because he can't commit to anything really big right now."
"So he's what, training you and a few friends to teach for him?"
Thank you Ms. Scott! "Right, exactly. And when we get the basics, we can take it public if he's satisfied."
"You know more than just the basics, Kira. Round house kicks are not a part of basic self defense." The teacher was looking at her pointedly, obviously awaiting an explanation. Suspicion was clear in her gaze and something Kira didn't understand lurking within those sharp brown orbs. "This isn't some entry level test class, is it?"
"Kira, what's the O in Doctor O. stand for?"
Kira and Ms. Scott stiffened at the soft reply from the doorway, the teacher going as rigid as a board, her eyes widening in shock. As if in slow motion, both Kira and Ms. Scott turned.
The tension in the room spiked and Kira felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise because of it. Awareness sparked between the two adults as their eyes locked, lending credence to her previous idea that the two of them would hit it off. The feeling of disappearing, of fading into the background, struck her and Kira realized that both adults had likely forgotten her the moment they looked at one another. It was a promising sign - until Doctor O. repeated his statement.
"It stands for Doctor Tommy Oliver." The tall man leaning against the jamb, his arms crossed, had his gaze on Ms. Scott and the most neutral expression Kira had ever seen on his face. His expression wasn't compelling - it was the look in his eyes that held. A look Kira had no way of understanding. "But you'd already guessed that, hadn't you?"
Kira looked from one teacher to the other in quiet shock. Kimberly, as in Kimberly Hart? But why was she going by Ann Scott? Why was she teaching music, of all things, in Reef Side when she could have been anywhere - and how did Doctor O. know the Olympian?
"I don't share my license to kill with anybody.” ~~ Jade_Max
Ah! Can you hear me? I'm screaming really LOUD! That was one of the smoothest entrances to their reunion that I have EVER read! And poor Kira is right in the middle. Between this and Letter Proof (which I'm dying for an update), you are on a TK roll! I'm so giddy for more of BOTH stories now.
In honor of California Dreams finally coming out on DVD!
thanks guys! I'd do replies, but I'm on my way to work. I'm glad ya'll knew who was speaking when Tommy said "Oliver" *grin* I couldn't resist having their "reunion" in front of Kira
And now, some answers...
Ten Years previous
“Hey Tommy, a letter came for you."
“Yeah it’s from Kimberly”
“Ah ha! Cool. Hey Adam, will you do me a favor and read it? I’ve got one more set to do.”
“You got it.”
Everything is going great here in Florida.
Coach Schmidt has me as ready as I'll ever be for the competition.”
“Man, Kimberly is going to do great,” the envy and pride in Rocky’s tone were unmistakable.
“What else does she say?” That was Tanya’s curious question.
Adam mumbled through it, recapturing his place and began reading again. “Tommy, this is the hardest letter I've ever had to write. You've always been my best friend, and in some ways, you're like a brother. But something has happened here that I can't explain. It's both been wonderful and painful at the same time.
Tommy, I've met someone else.”
A quiet, eerie calm settled over him as Adam read Kimberly’s words, everything seeming to still into an unreal silence. Kimberly had sent him a “dear John” letter - it was inconceivable, so dreamlike he doubted his senses.
“What?” Kat’s incredulous question barely registered. “That can’t be right.”
“Tommy,” Adam was hesitant. “Maybe you should finish this another time.”
He couldn’t. Not with a lead in like that. “Lemme see that.” Turning he grabbed for the letter, feeling the papyrus between his fingers, an anchor in the calm which threatened to burst into a terrifying tempest.
“Tommy, you know I would never do anything to hurt you. But I feel like I've found the person that I belong with. He's wonderful, kind, and caring. You'd really like him. Everything would be perfect if it weren't for hurting you. But I have to follow my heart. I will always care about you, Tommy.
Please forgive me.
Numbness had followed, along with confusion and hurt - sadness and the need to escape almost overwhelming in their intensity. So he'd done the only thing he could think of. He'd assured his friends he was okay, and he'd run. Run from the awful, horrible sensation that was clawing at his gut and the sense of futility it instilled within him.
He couldn't refute the feeling, couldn't deal with them - couldn't understand where this had come from so out of the blue.
In two short months, his world had gone from perfectly balanced to careening off kilter and things would never, ever be quite right again.[/i]
The memories were searing, eating away at his mind, reminding him of every reason why he shouldn't be civil. But as Tommy stood in the doorway to the music room, it was the acute ache in his chest at the sight of her that was the most painful. The same heart shaped face and trim physique she'd always had, draped in muted fabric he'd never attributed to her vibrant personality. Her hair was different - colored - but those brown eyes were the same. He'd have known those eyes anyway; mute and dumb, she'd always had the power to strike him silent with a look.
Seeing her again... having his fears and hopes confirmed that she was indeed here, that he wasn't going crazy just thinking it was her, was like a double edged blade to the ribs.
It always was.
Nine Years previous
Her image appeared on the viewing screen in the Command Center and it was like time seemed to stop.
Kimberly's image seemed to freeze on the viewing monitor, staring straight at him - through him - looking for rescue as she searched her surroundings. He couldn’t breathe; it was like a pressure valve had been closed, preventing him from taking a breath or releasing one. He couldn’t move, though the overwhelming urge to rush to her rescue urged him to action.
She was a beautiful as he remembered.
Her hair hung down to her shoulders, shining blue in the light of the viewer - but he didn’t need to see the color to know it was chestnut brown, or that her eyes were the color of caramels. He didn’t need to touch her to know her skin would still be soft or her body just as fit as it had always been. He didn’t need to hear her speak to remember the sound of her voice, or the way it made his heart pound erratically in his chest.
Kimberly’s image was burned behind his retinas, blocking out all else, the shock of seeing her again having paralyzed him with the inability to act. He’d always wondered what it would be like to see her again - and now he knew.
Be careful what you wish for.
It was like being sucker punched, getting hit with a low blow and being left breathless and paralyzed in the same moment. It was like dying but living all at once. Seeing her was like a breath of fresh air after living on a half-ration of oxygen or like seeing the sun after a major thunder or snow storm. It was pain and pleasure, conflict and peace; his world being shattered only to be reborn all at the same time.
Her name was but a whisper on his lips and he was barely conscious of the fact that he had said anything. It wasn’t until he forcefully shook himself and Katherine’s regard finally penetrated the spell in which he’d been lost that he realized what he was doing.
Kimberly didn’t belong to him anymore; she’d found someone else - and so had he.
But Katherine was no Kimberly and the look on Katherine’s face made him guilty enough to identify both Kimberly and Jason unnecessarily. He managed to pull himself together, shaking off the shock of Kimberly’s sudden reappearance with difficulty, and turned to the rest of the Rangers to begin planning their rescue.
While no longer a Power Ranger, and no longer his girl, Kimberly was still special to him - would likely always be special to him - and the need to rescue her was no less pressing than it had been in the past. It likely never would be. She was the damsel in distress he could never ignore and he... he'd long been her White Knight no matter what color he wore.
Some things would never change.
Ann Scott - the woman who'd been his Kimberly - pushed to her feet, swinging her guitar to her back on pure reflex as her chair fell over in her haste to stand. "Tommy!"
"Last time I checked."
She stared at him, opening her mouth in a silent denial of her senses, one he completely understood.
"You're looking good. Different." Kimberly put her hand to her head, her eyes wide in shock as Tommy felt her take in his new appearance. Whatever she'd been expecting when Kira had referenced her 'Doctor O.' it obviously hadn't been her high school sweetheart.
"I like the hair cut." She continued weakly, struggling to stand in the face of his obvious hostility.
"Thank you - Ann."
Kimberly flinched. "What brings you here?"
"I work here. Principal Randall's made it plain I was supposed to introduce myself since I missed your welcome lunch." His jaw was tight, his words clipped - and he was completely oblivious to the fact that Kira was still in the room watching them with avid interest. "If I'd known it was you, I would have saved her the trouble of insisting on an introduction based on past history."
Nine Years previous
Divatox's defeat was something Tommy took pride in, but it was also bittersweet in many ways. It signaled the end of his relationship with Kat - unspoken though it was, there was no mistaking the distance in her actions and eyes - she allowed only the liberties of friendship and carefully avoided anything more.
To say he was surprised would have been a lie - whatever was between he and Kat just wasn't going anywhere and both of them new it. Her choice to put some distance between them stung, but he could accept it as necessary. The other Rangers didn't seem to notice - though they would in the coming months - and for that he was grateful. Katherine's last conversation with him had made one thing plain.
For him to move on he needed closure - and if he didn't take this opportunity to speak with Kim, he'd likely never get it.
So he did.
All around him Rangers and former Rangers were chatting. Bulk and Skull had been dropped off before they’d headed for the Power Chamber to put the Zords away. It was easier to just fly the MegaZord there since they were already headed that way, and Tommy wasn’t needed for such a mundane operation. A quick look at Kat and she had taken over the functions of his station, rerouting them through her own and leaving him free. Behind him, Jason, Rocky and Justin caught up, Jason teasing the newest of the Rangers good naturedly. Seeing his friends absorbed, he headed for the back of the MegaZord where Tanya had left Kimberly to browse through the mission logs which had been uploaded from the command center.
Cornering Kimberly was easy as Tommy leaned over the console that went with the chair she'd claimed. The movement had drawn her eye and he waited until she’d met his gaze before speaking.
Kimberly's smile had been unhindered - if a little hesitant. "Hey yourself. It's good to see you, Tommy."
Silence descended for a moment as he struggled with how best to approach this discussion. "How've you been, Kim?"
"Good, Tommy. Really good. You?"
He could hear it in her voice, how it rang with confidence and surety. She was telling the truth - and it hurt like hell. "It's been a rough year."
Her expression clouded over and she seemed to pick up on what had brought him over. "Because of me, right?"
"I seem to recall telling you once that you weren't the center of everyone's universe."
"Except in this case."
There was no way to keep the flinch from his expression and with that ice breaker all he could do was dive in, knowing it would hurt no matter what she said. "What happened to us, Kim? I mean, really - what happened? Your letter left me so many questions and I... I don't think I can move on until you answer them."
"It's been a year, Tommy."
He straddled the chair next to her, watching her face intently as he got down on the same level as she. "A year of hell, Kim. I've tried, but there are too many unknowns on my end. I don't understand and until I do, I can't let you go."
“What about Kat?”
“She’s not you.”
Kimberly glanced away, over his shoulder and he didn't need to see whom she was looking at to recognize the semi-guilty expression on her face or the familiar look in her eye. It was a look she'd once directed his way and his gut twisted sickeningly as he drew his own conclusions.
"Jason?" He almost choked on his friend’s name. "You left me for Jason?"
Her gaze came back to his and he didn't need her sharp nod to confirm it - it was in the depths of her eyes.
"My god, Kim - how could you?"
She reared back and away, as if he'd slapped her. "How could I what, Tommy? Jason's always been there for me."
"And I haven't?" He sagged in the chair. "Jason's like my brother, Kim - you know that. How could you do this to me?"
"It wasn't a conscious choice," her tone was clipped and defensive. "It wasn't like I set out to fall for him, Tommy. Jason and I were just doing what we normally do - we hung out, we spent time together, only this time it was without you or the gang around. We spent so much time together it evolved pretty quickly and the next thing we knew we were... I mean, I couldn't do anything with him - it didn't feel right when I knew you were waiting for me back home so I did what I had to."
"And you didn't think about me at all?"
"I thought about you all the time - but you weren't there! Whenever I needed to talk to someone, for someone to be there to cheer me on it should have been you but it wasn't - it was Jason. I wanted it to be you - you have no idea how much I wanted it to be you - but sometime after I got back from Christmas holidays, things had shifted."
"So that last kiss under the mistletoe was just an act?" His words were sharp, biting. "The way you clung to me like you never wanted to let go, hanging onto my jacket like a lifeline? The way you swayed into me, kissed me so fiercely?"
"It wasn't an act, Tommy."
"That what changed in the month and a half between then and when I got your letter?"
"You weren't there and Jason was. I couldn't do it anymore, Tommy. I couldn't deal with having my best friends across the country, of knowing that you were still doing all of this-" she waved her hand at the MegoZord - "and knowing I'd given it all up. I couldn't bear the thought of something happening to you and being powerless to stop it. What’s worse, I saw the way Kat looked at you and I knew it wasn’t fair to any of us for me to hold onto you when we had so much of our lives ahead of us. Don't you get it?"
"Yeah. Yeah I get it. You were lonely and you turned to the one person who could help you forget but also understood what you were going through." Tommy let out a choked laugh, a burning sensation in his chest making itself known. "You were right about one thing."
"I like him - but I hate him too." Tommy pushed to his feet.
"Tommy, don't do thi-"
"Are you happy, Kim?" The look she sent him was pleading as he cut her off but he ignored it, reiterating the question. "Are you?"
"Good. That's all I ever wanted for you." He reached out, unable to help himself, and brushed her hair back from her face for one last time, letting thus thumb linger over the curve of her cheek. "Good bye, Beautiful. Make him happy."
He turned, cutting off whatever she'd been about to say and found Jason watching him silently as Kimberly rose to her feet behind him. Ignoring them both, he headed for the hatchway from the command and stepped into the corridor, closing and locking the door behind him.
Kimberly's muffled attempts to reach him were ignored, as were the subsequent single attempt by Jason. Both of them knew him better than anyone - and both knew it was useless if he didn't feel like responding. Closing his eyes, he leaned against it and tilted his head back, unable to fight the burning of tears that threatened to fall.
So he didn't.
He'd lost her to the one person he would never, ever try and keep her from. It explained Jason's silences when he'd asked about his new girl, and his reluctance to talk about her. It explained why Jason had never wanted him to meet her, or why she was never invited along to visit back home - except this time she had been and the results... the results almost broke him.
Seeing her again had been hard enough, losing her to Divatox had made him face some hard truths about himself and the realization that a part of him, a very large part, was still in love with her. But she'd moved on, and - as she'd explained in her letter - she'd found someone else. Someone he knew, or thought he knew, better than he knew himself.
Tommy hadn't just lost Kimberly when she'd written that letter; he'd lost his best friends, his brother, his girlfriend and his confidante all at the same time.
He just hadn't known it until now.
Their History hung between them like a poisoned blade - her betrayal one he'd never completely recovered from despite having moved on in his life. The wound, healed to the point of being able to function, had suddenly torn open, reminding him what he'd had, how he'd lost it all - and to whom. The woman before him embodied the dreams of his youth and represented a time in his life that had been both pain and pleasure. She also represented the end of his time as a Ranger - or so he'd thought until recently.
Staring at her now, waiting for her to say anything to justify her presence and the inevitable pain she had to know it would cause him - and where Kimberly went, there was no doubt Jason wasn't far behind - he silently willed her to the other side of the planet. Of all the schools on the continent, she'd ended up at his.
It couldn't be a coincidence - and that made him irritable.
Kimberly worried her lower lip, clasping her hands together tightly before her in an effort to quell her trembling. His mood was making her nervous. She, too, had forgotten that they had an audience of one who was hanging on their every word and action.
"I didn't realize you were teaching," she offered slowly. "You never..." Something in his gaze must have warned her to choose her words carefully - not to patronize him; thankfully she didn't and cut off whatever she'd been about to say. "If I'd known you were teaching here, I would have accepted another posting."
"Now you know; accept another posting."
"I can't," her chin came up and her eyes flashed - she wasn't about to let him dictate what she could and couldn't do. "I'm under contract until the end of next year."
Just like he was. Tommy's hands fisted around his biceps, the knuckles starting to turn white. "Fine. I'll tell Randall I've met you. I said the mandatory 'Welcome to Reef Side, if you need anything don't hesitate to ask' speech, and you don't come near me while you're in Reef Side."
"You don't own me, Tommy Oliver," Kimberly told him evenly. "We're colleagues, we're going to be put together in social and work related environments; we need to be civil at the very least."
"I am being civil."
"For a caveman, maybe - but you're not and never have been a caveman. I can't change what was and has been, Tommy, but... there was a time when we were friends, good friends. Civility in the work place isn't too much to ask based on that history, is it?"
His fingers flexed, knowing he was being unreasonable, her comment stung his pride more than it should have - because she was right. Kimberly was being reasonable and far more civil than he was at the moment. Consciously relaxing his grip on his arms, he nodded curtly. "Fine, Ann. We'll do it your way. Welcome to Reef Side."
"Thank you, Doctor Oliver." Kimberly's formal tone was lukewarm, her smile slightly wan - an echo of his clipped welcome. "I'm sure I'll enjoy my time here."
Tommy nodded once more, sharply, and then turned on his heel and strode away.
"I don't share my license to kill with anybody.” ~~ Jade_Max
WOW. I am completely speechless, I do not know what to say. Yes I do how is that Kim and Jason were together when he was the gold ranger, because then again it would be a long distance relationship just like She had with Tommy
I loved the talk in the megazord...you always see them together but you can't hear them talking and there are no transcrips of what could have been said but chosen to be deleted...sigh!
I'm interested to where this is heading...i didn't think Tommy would still feel that hurt (again until I read what happened in the megazord...and loosing your whole world in one swoop...ouch) but surely 9 yrs should have had him get over most of it?
I'm so glad we got some answers. I do sympathize with Tommy for the same reasons cinquotes stated. I'm hoping his initial reaction had more to do with the unexpectedness of having an old wound you haven't properly dealt with being re-opened, and that he'll come to his senses somewhat (cause it really has been a while and it would be irrational to act like it'd only happened yesterday), once he thinks things over a bit.
I'm at a lost for words. I can't be mad at Tommy. He lost his two closest friends in one moment. I don't know how this is going to get turned around for the better, but I can't wait to find out. You are at the top of your game KoA!
In honor of California Dreams finally coming out on DVD!
Just a word to the wise - Jason stealing his girl isn't the only reason Tommy's not happy with Kim, but the rest will come later... he has good reasons for never really getting over that betrayal despite the time between.
thanks for reading guys! I love speculations
Kira leapt to her feet as her music teacher seemed to collapse in on herself, sliding an arm around her waist and under the guitar before guiding her down to the floor when her legs wouldn't hold her. Carefully unhooking the strap, Kira pulled the guitar away as Ms. Scott stared at the spot where Doctor O. had been standing. The older woman was trembling violently, and had - obviously - been completely unprepared for the confrontation.
The blatant ire in Doctor Oliver's words had been enough to make Kira shiver; she couldn't imagine having been the object of that tone.
"He hates me."
The whispered words were pained, and Kira was sure she wasn't supposed to have heard them. Trying for levity, she drew her teacher's attention. "I take it you know Doctor O.?"
Ms. Scott's laugh was brittle. "You could say that. I'm sorry you had to see that, Kira."
"What? Oh no, forget it." Waving away the apology, Kira found a smile, wondering what on earth the woman could have done to make her science teacher and fellow Ranger so angry. Fellow Ranger... Ms. Scott's run-ins with the White Ranger... her name... Kimberly - the first Pink Ranger had been Kimberly... Could it be that Ms. Scott was the former Pink Ranger? Who else would she be with the way she'd interacted with Doctor O.? But Kira wasn't about to voice her question, no matter how thrilled she was to be with another female Ranger - ex or not.. Ms. Scott couldn't likely handle it at that moment.
"Friends from high school, right?"
"Right. He's... changed since then."
"And the glasses. He looks so..."
"Grown up?" Kira couldn't help the cheeky comment - and was surprised when her teacher quietly agreed with her.
"Oh." Absently brushing her fingers across the well worn wood of her teacher's guitar, Kira posed the question she really wanted to ask. "So... why's he so mad at you anyway?"
Rather than give her answers, Ms. Scott simply shook her head and pulled away from Kira's bracing arm as she pushed to her feet. "That's between your Doctor Oliver and I. Let's just say we didn't part on friendly terms."
"Gee, really? I never would have guessed." Kira rolled her eyes and then looked at the teacher critically. "Would you rather be alone right now? We can always jam another time - or you could come by Haley's tonight if you're up for it."
Bending down, Ms. Scott retrieved her guitar from where Kira had put it and righted her chair before resuming her seat. "Playing will help. But not the song we were playing the other day; let's try something of yours."
"Did you bring anything?"
"Did I bring anything?" Kira scoffed with a grin and tapped her temple. "Even after it's been written down, it's all up here. Just try and keep up, okay?"
"I think I'll manage. Key?"
Taking another look at her teacher to ensure she wasn't about to start bawling and fall apart - Kira didn't know what she'd do if that happened - she launched into one of her songs. It was a pleasant surprise after her first rendition of the chorus to find herself accompanied by a skilled player the second time through and having a harmony added she hadn't expected.
For the next half hour, Kira played the same song over and over again; adding to memory the harmonies Ms. Scott played around the melodic line, mentally recording those she liked and discarding those she wasn't thrilled with. As the time progressed she added the lyrics and found Ms. Scott just as willing to add a harmonic lyrical line as she was musical.
Before either of them knew it, the lunch hour had passed, Doctor Oliver's visit to the music room had been pushed aside for the moment and students were entering the class. Kira and Ms. Scott exchanged looks, the teacher's smile tinted with appreciation and thanks. With a shrug, as if to say 'no big deal' Kira put her guitar back in its case and joined the rest of the students, her mind already having committed the various harmonies to memory - she was already thinking about what she'd witnessed between the two teachers and the uneasy feeling that she shouldn't step in.
Her plan to get them together was doomed to fail before it had begun but the guys were never going to believe why!
"What do you mean they know one another?"
Kira adjusted the strap of her school bag as she, Connor and Ethan crossed the soccer field towards the sidewalk that would head them towards the Cyber Café. "Just what it means, Connor. Doctor O. knows Ms. Scott. He called her Kimberly - and she answered to it."
"Kimberly? As in Kimberly Hart - the Olympian?"
"One and the same," that Kira didn't know it for a fact didn't change her opinion that she was right. She'd ask Ms. Scott later, when the music teacher wasn't reeling quite so much from her run in with Doctor O. "They went to school together. I'm fairly certain she's the Kimberly from his video."
"Video..." Ethan's eyes widened and he stopped dead in his tracks. "As in an original?"
"One of the first?"
Nodding again, Kira's smile grew - and then Connor spoke.
"One of the first what? Which video?"
Ethan and Kira turned to stare at him - and then Kira rolled her eyes. "Remember when Doctor O. went missing and we stumbled upon our history?" She tapped her morpher deliberately.
Staring at her for a long moment, it took Connor a moment to get it. "You mean the Ranger video?"
"What other video does Doctor O. have that wasn't for class that we'd have had to sit through?" Kira resumed walking, forcing the guys to move to keep up with her. "I think Kimberly - Ms. Scott - is... was the original Pink Ranger."
"Just because she went to school with Doctor O. doesn't mean she was a Ranger."
"It's more than that," trying to order her thoughts, Kira struggled to break it down in a way they could understand. "First, this morning she didn't run when the Tyranodrones attacked us. Second, during that fight I was sure I saw her using moves that I've seen Doctor O. use when we're morphed which is why her fighting style is so familiar. Third, she mentioned having friends who taught her how to fight in high school and while she was talking to Doctor O. she said they'd been good friends once - emphasis on the good - so they could at least be civil now because of that history."
"It's all circumstantial," Ethan argued, but it was weak. "She could just as easily be an ex-girlfriend from high school he never wanted to see again."
Connor snickered. "Dude, you don't befriend the girls you want to date, otherwise breakups can get ugly. Trust me, any guy who's friends with the girl he's dating is asking for a world of pain when things end."
"What works for you, doesn't work for everyone," Kira informed him tartly. "Besides, Ms. Scott even admitted to meeting the Rangers a few times, in particular the White Ranger."
"If she was a Ranger, wouldn't she just come out and say it? I mean, it's not like they have the hide the fact they were Rangers anymore-especially to us."
"She doesn't know we're Rangers - and like you're going to go shout the fact from the roof tops when you're done?"
"Well no," Ethan had the class to look sheepish, "but they were Rangers over ten years ago."
"I, for one, wouldn't want to have them come forward," Kira put in before Connor could add his two cents. "If they did, it might lead back to us."
"Doctor O." Ethan answered Connor's question. "He's an original and if one stepped up, the rest probably would have to because it wouldn't take a genius to put together who they were once you had one."
Kira pointed at the three of them. "Rangers stick together, Connor - can you honestly say that if someone discovered you were the red Ranger that they wouldn't figure out - and pretty quick - who we are?"
"That's us; it doesn't mean people would know... wait, does this have to do with the fact we all wear our colors?"
"Among other things. If we weren't Rangers, none of us would have ended up being friends. I wasn't exactly big on jocks or geeks before I started to hang with the two of you - no offense."
"So what? It doesn't mean they were all friends in high school or that Ms. Scott is a former Ranger."
"It's more than just the fact she went to school with him, Connor."
Kira wasn't sure exactly why she was so positive - aside from the woman's name - except she'd seen the teachers together and there was something deeper there than just attraction. It was in the way they'd looked at one another - despite the animosity - and the way Doctor O. had been subconsciously on the defensive. His stance, his words, everything about him during the encounter had screamed threat... except that Ms. Scott was a fraction of his size.
It didn't make sense - unless Doctor O. knew something about the music teacher they didn't. Which, of course, led Kira back to former Ranger. She'd never seen Doctor O. scared of anyone - not Zeltrax or Mesagog or any other badass they'd thus far faced. Worried, yes, but it was likely a left over from his previous Ranger days - that and she suspected he felt responsible for something about this whole mess even if she didn't know why.
But to be afraid of a pint sized former gymnast?
Nothing made sense - except that Ms. Scott knew him and things about him he didn't want others to know. It would have to include his time as a Ranger since it was the area he refused to talk about the most. Oh, his own feats were fair game for question and answer sessions, but individually the other Rangers were pretty much sore topics. Pink and Red of the originals in particular - Gold and Pink in the later years. That Kira only knew because she'd taken the time to ask about the previous powers he'd wielded and Doctor O. had distinctly shied away from those colors.
At the time she'd thought nothing of it, but given the fact now? She didn't know what to think.
"It was in the way he was talking to her, the way she was talking to him."
"I could run a search on Doctor O." Ethan offered, tapping his laptop. "Find out who his friends were in high school, it might give us some clues."
"Or we could ask Haley," added Connor. "She's his best friend and helped him put together that Rangers video, right?"
"I don't think we should ask Haley just yet," the blue Ranger told red with an elbow to the side. "She'd feel obligated to tell Doctor O. and then we'd have to explain ourselves."
"Doesn't he have yearbooks from his time in Angel Grove?"
Kira and Ethan turned to look at Connor in surprise.
"What? We get yearbooks, didn't he?"
"And sometimes," Kira mused, shaking her head. "Even the jocks surprise you. Good thinking, Connor."
He shrugged. "Pass up a chance to look for blackmail material on Doctor O. - are you nuts?"
"Blackmail?" Shaking his head, Ethan stepped forward to walk with Kira. "If he had anymore blackmail material on you, you'd be at boarding school - remind me again why you're not?"
"Come on, wouldn't it be fun to look through his old year books? We have their names, finding if the first Rangers used to hang out together shouldn't be that hard."
"But how are we going to look at them? He's probably got them locked away somewhere."
"They might be online," Ethan ventured. "Some of the classes from his time have uploaded their material to keep in touch. I'll take a look around when we get to Haley's."
"What about the video?" Kira looked at Ethan questioningly. "He'd have needed source material to make it, right? Could there be something in the computer?"
"Probably, but I'd rather not dig around. Haley would track me down in a second - and neither of you make a good alibi."
"I could distract him," Connor offered.
"So what, we can get caught searching?"
"Easy you two," Ethan admonished. "Connor's idea isn't a bad one. If we run out of options, we can search his place. With the command center in the basement, we have access when he's not there."
"He won't like it if he finds out."
"So we make sure he doesn't know."
"I say we don't search his place at all," Kira volunteered. "I'll work on Ms. Scott. Since I was there when she met him again, she'll expect me to have some questions."
"And if she doesn't tell you anything?"
"Not everything to learn is going to be said. Trust me, if she answers or not isn't going to matter."
Trent was serving drinks when they arrived at Haley's Cyber Café and Kira frowned, certain he'd said something about spending time with his dad as an excuse not to walk with them. While she knew she'd never have been able to bring up Ms. Scott as a previous Ranger if he had, she was stung he'd felt it necessary to lie to her.
The Rangers settled at their regular table, waving to Haley, before Ethan disappeared to the computer consoles. He picked one that was out of Haley's direct view and set to work on their project. Connor leaned back in the chair - directly across from Kira - balancing it on two legs.
"So... did Ms. Scott teach you the lyrics to that little tune you played the other day? You know, the one that freaked Doctor O. out?"
Kira slapped her palm on the table. "I was trying to figure out why she didn't want to play it today - I'd completely forgotten Doctor O. had known the tune."
Connor blinked, staring at her as if she'd lost her marbles. And maybe she had. If she hadn't been so wrapped up in her problems with Trent, she'd be better focused - wouldn't have forgotten the fact Doctor O. had smashed her hand against the string on the neck of her guitar. The situation with Trent was occupying more of her thoughts than she'd known.
"It's been a long week, I guess I-"
"Kira, can I talk to you?" She stopped, glancing up to find Trent looking down at her, a touch nervously. He glanced at Connor and then back to her. "Sorry, am I interrupting something?"
"I was just leaving," Connor pushed away from the table, heading for the bar and leaving Kira and Trent by themselves.
"I guess not. Have a seat."
"Thanks." Trent settled into the chair next to her instead of the one Connor had vacated. He glanced around nervously and then met her gaze. "I'm sorry about this afternoon."
"For not walking with you guys here. Dad canceled at the last minute and rescheduled for tomorrow. I didn't find out until I was in the car and they dropped me off here."
"Hey, no biggie."
"You sure? You looked a little..."
"A little what?"
"Annoyed when you saw me here."
"Never," she denied, unwilling to give him that victory. She didn't yet know if Trent liked her back and she wasn't about to step into those uncharted waters without some encouragement. "It's just been an... interesting day."
"Tough jam session with Ms. Scott?"
"You're telling me. If I'd known Doctor O. was going to walk in and tear her down, I never would have agreed to keep her there so she could finally meet him."
Oh right, Trent didn't know about that just yet. Kira gave him the short version, excluding everything about the Rangers. Instead she focused on Doctor O.'s hostility and Ms. Scott's shock. "It was wild," she concluded. "I've never seen Doctor O. like that before - not even when Connor disrupts his lectures. He was cold, mean even."
"Wow, I wonder what their history is."
"Us too, so we're doing a little research." Inspiration struck and Kira leaned forward conspiratorially. "We think she might be an ex girlfriend."
"Can't be recent, he hasn't seen anyone while he's been here - and dad never mentioned Doctor Oliver ever seeing anyone when they were working together before their fallout."
"And he's still holding a grudge?" Trent whistled softly. "Wow."
"I know. Crazy, huh?"
He scrambled to his feet, having forgotten he was working and not there to socialize. "Sorry Haley, I'll be right there!" Looking back to Kira, he favored her with that half-smile she was coming to like to much - the one that left her weak in the knees. "I've gotta get back to work. Will you be around long?"
"We're studying for the big test tomorrow - and I owe you dinner."
"I break in two hours - is that too late?"
"I'll be here."
"Great. See you then."
Kira watched him go, struggling to keep a goofy smile from crossing her lips. Connor's sudden reappearance helped immensely. "Wow, is my timing on today or what?"
Rolling her eyes, Kira reached for her school bag and the text book she was supposed to be studying. "Or what. Learn anything from Haley?"
"Nope; she hasn't talked to Doctor O. all day - she did offer to let us do a little research on the main computers with regards to where we come from though," he tapped the wrist where his morpher was hidden under his sleeve. "I suggested knowing more about it might help us here and now."
"And Haley bought it?"
"Watching that old footage might give us some ideas, plus we have our own personal resource to pull on to explain it. Doctor O. can't exactly turn us down if it's to further our education, right?"
"You..." Kira burst out laughing. "Sometimes, Connor, you manage to surprise me. Ethan!"
The blue Ranger turned in his seat, and made a face when Kira beckoned him over. He gave her a silent signal for one minute. Kira and Connor waited as he shut down whatever he's been working on and made his way over. Connor and Kira explained what Connor had done, drawing another surprised look from Ethan.
"Who are you and what have you done with Connor?"
"Funny. Since Haley knows we're going to log in, we can hit them anytime."
Kira glanced towards the bar where Trent was picking up another order. It was technically Ranger business, but there was no rush to know and she was conscious of her promise to Trent. Doctor O.'s outburst could wait. "I can't."
"You guys go ahead and find what you can, I'll watch it later."
"I found a bunch of stuff that supports your theory, don't you want to come?"
"Later, Ethan. I promised Trent I'd be around when his break starts."
Connor made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a laugh and Ethan rolled his eyes - Kira shot them each a glare. The boys grabbed their bags as Kira placed her text book resolutely on the table before her. With a shooing motion and a nod to the door, she turned her attention to the book before her. Her attention, however, was divided.
Ethan had found information in his short time on the Net, they had permission to be exploring the database back at their headquarters and Doctor O. was staying late at the school today. It gave them an all access pass to delve into the original Rangers - and instead she was sitting at Haley's doing her homework while Trent worked and she waited for crumbs of his attention.
Snapping her book closed, she shoved it back in her bag. "Trent?"
He nodded to show he'd heard, but didn't get a chance to pause by her table for several minutes. When he finally did, it was on his way to the counter with a tray full of dirty dishes. "Sorry. What's up?"
"You said you break in two hours right?"
"It looks like it's going to be a real crazy night," Trent hedged. "How about a rain check - and we do lunch tomorrow instead."
"If that works better for you. Wait... tomorrow is field trip day. Doctor O. is taking us out to a dig site."
"I've gotta run."
"Sure. See you later, Kira."
Seeing that Trent's attention was already elsewhere, Kira turned and left, heading for Doctor Oliver's house. Ethan and Connor had something of a head start on her, but she was confident she would be there before they discovered anything of interest; they didn't really know what they were looking for and she did.
"I don't share my license to kill with anybody.” ~~ Jade_Max
Just a word to the wise - Jason stealing his girl isn't the only reason Tommy's not happy with Kim, but the rest will come later... he has good reasons for never really getting over that betrayal despite the time between.
Are you serious?? There's more?? I don't know if I can handle that. Anyway, I'm glad that this chapter wasn't as tense as the previous chapter. I think I'm still recovering from the big reunion. It's probably going to get worse before it gets better. There's still so much that we don't know and can't wait to find out. I'll be patient... I promise. Do you like chocolate? *gone to look for chocolate to bribe KoA*
In honor of California Dreams finally coming out on DVD!
Oh my gosh... a post!! - and one Chris hasn't read yet *laughs*
Thanks for reading guys
"Jason, Kimberly, Trini, Zack and Billy." Ethan was reading off the names in the files he'd located in the database when Kira arrived, breathless, from her semi-run from Haley's. Doctor Oliver's house wasn't exactly easy to get to. "Trent brush you off?"
"Very funny. What've you got?"
"Ranger profiles." Ethan called up another - Tommy's - and compared them to the others. "Alright, so according to this, Doctor O. moved to Angel Grove the same year these five were in their first year of high school. Shortly thereafter, Doctor Oliver became Rita's evil Green Ranger."
"And the other five were Rangers already, right?"
Ethan pulled up Kimberly's history and Kira felt her breath catch in her throat. Staring back at her was her music teacher. "That's her."
"That's what I said," Connor piped up from where he was juggling a soccer ball on his knees. "I thought she looked familiar."
"Liar," Kira tossed back over her shoulder. "What's it say about her time as a Ranger?"
"Three years - she left for Miami in her senior year and Katherine took over."
Kira whistled softly. "Three years, huh? Wow."
"That's where it ends. There's a brief mention of her and Jason being bait in a trap a year later, but the details are practically nonexistent. From what I can gather, it was part of the current Rangers upgrade to Turbo, but other than that, it just says they were rescued."
"Are other details missing in similar circumstances?"
"That's the strange thing. Most of the time there's notes and comments about pros and cons and how certain team mates fought along with battle extrapolations. In this instance, it's just... we won, they're safe, end of story."
"Strange is right. What else do you have on Jason?"
"First Red Ranger," Ethan pulled up his file. "Says here he was an avid martial artist who grew up in Angel Grove. Shortly after their second power upgrade, he and Trini and Zack left to attend a Peace Conference. Returned briefly during the Zeo years to assume the Gold Ranger Powers and then the same blurb on his and Kimberly's rescue. Other than that, it says he was considered a high risk to the moon venture and Rocky was instead called in his place."
"It was this whole Red Rangers only thing," Connor piped in once more. "Doctor O. told me about it. I only wish I'd been a Ranger then 'cause I'd have gone and taught them how it's done!"
"Whatever, Connor." Kira rolled her eyes, moving away from the console and beginning to pace as she struggled to make sense of it all. "Be serious for a minute would you? Why would an ex-Ranger - the first Red Ranger of all people - be listed as a high risk and by Doctor O. of all people? I mean, think about it, they were Rangers together for a year and a half at the beginning of our Ranger history. Jason returned to help him during his year as a Zeo Ranger and, from the footage, was a good one too. It doesn't make any sense why he, of all people, would be considered a risk."
"Hey Kira, check this out." Ethan shifted from the archive files to his own research. "I ran their names once we pulled them up and you'll never guess what Jason's full name is."
"Jason Lee Scott."
Kira grabbed Ethan's shoulder, pulling him and the chair out of the way as she leaned in and drawing an indignant "Hey!" from the Blue Ranger
"Scott. So... Kim married Jason?"
Ethan removed her hand and pushed her out of the way so he could get back to the console. He pulled up Kimberly's information from his internet search. "Kimberly Ann Hart Scott. The former Olympian married Paramedic Jason Lee Scott eight years ago and, according to this, took his name to escape the sensationalism of stardom. Looks like she preferred the quiet life."
"Wouldn't you after battling monsters, having your life force drained and putting your life on the... wait, what's that?"
Connor's attention was caught as Kira leaned in close, joining her. "What's what?"
"That." Kira pointed and the screen. "Can you enlarge that picture, Ethan?"
Ethan obliged - and the three Rangers stared.
What stared back at them was something none of them - except maybe Kira - had expected to find. The original six, with Tommy in White and green, and one arm slung around the Pink Ranger's shoulders. Not just slung, but the look on his face and the way he stood so close wasn't something and of them could misinterpret. Nor was the way Kimberly was looking at their Teacher - a much younger image of him sure - but still the same man.
If that look wasn't enough, Kira noted that Doctor Oliver's - Tommy's hand was entwined with Kimberly's. She just couldn't think of him as her teacher with that long hair and impish, angelic face. He'd refined with age but never lost his charm. But it was that hand clasp that held Kira riveted. Not just hands, but fingers interlinked with his thumb on the skin of Kimberly's wrist as if he was...
"No way." Connor shook his head, repeating himself. "Doctor O. and Ms. Scott were... Come on, dating a fellow Ranger; was he nuts?!"
"Probably," Kira shot back with a wry grin. "At least we don't have to worry about that."
Tommy's foot pressed down on the accelerator a fraction more than it had been before as he tore down one of the open and blessedly empty country roads outside Reefside. His hands flexed on the wheel as his jeep took a corner too fast and nearly went up on two wheels; it didn't slow him down, too lost in the angry and jarring thoughts of his past.
Nothing had prepared him for seeing her again; not his suspicions or the hints he'd seen but blindly ignored. Not the span of years between now and their last encounter. Nothing. Not only had he been taken completely off guard, he'd barely held his temper in check. Him! So much for his vaunted control.
Taking another corner far too quickly, he pushed the jeep to the limit of its capabilities and then slammed on the emergency brake, sliding it around in a flurry of dust and gravel so that it spun almost one hundred and eighty degrees, facing back the way he'd come. Slamming it into park, he practically hurled himself out of the vehicle before he flipped it or worse.
Stalking away, Tommy paid little mind to his surroundings as he dropped into a crouch - breathing hard - and turned to the only thing that had kept him sane all these years - his katas. Inhaling, as if to purge both mind and body of unpleasantness, he swept his arms outwards and around and picked up the familiar rhythm of the movements without so much as a second thought.
He was half way through it before he realized exactly which kata he was doing - and he nearly stopped right there. It was a kata he'd not done in years - his Green Ranger kata. He suppose it shouldn't be surprised; every time Kimberly had managed to mangle his life just that much more, he'd fallen back on it. It reminded him of better times - of worse times... and a part of him wondered if this was all Karma; payback for the grievous misdeeds he'd once perpetrated both willing and unwillingly in his time as a Ranger.
Inhaling evenly, he forced his mind to clear, focusing instead on the knot in his stomach and slowly - ever so slowly - beginning to unravel it.
It took time, longer than it had ever taken before - but then he hadn't seen her in a long time either. Not in person anyway. TV he could deal with - he didn't have to smell her scent and his fingers didn't twitch to touch her. Perhaps that was the most infuriating thing of all - despite everything that had happened, a part of him still wanted her. A large part of him.
Seeing her again... the almost eerie calm that had permeated his body had been suffused with anger, disappointment and need - and that had only made things worse. Everything had hung between them like a cloud - a heavy, oppressive, smothering cloud that had threatened to choke him.
He spun on the ball of his foot, perfectly balanced, and swept into a series of round house kicks that would easily have sent any opponent flying backwards. Except her.
Landing abruptly, he stumbled, going down on one knee as he hung his head and braced himself on one hand. His breathing was hard, heavy - but resigned. He'd wanted to hurt her this afternoon, wanted to let her feel the pain of what she'd put him through all these years - of what she'd denied him. He'd tried, oh how he'd tried, and look what it had gotten him so far. A twisted ankle, a guilty conscience and an ocean of frustration to which there was no outlet.
Never before had he prayed for the Big Bad of the hour to make an appearance and he almost tore the morpher from his wrist when it remained suspiciously and innocently silent. Why was it that when you didn't want something to happen, it inevitably did, yet when he needed the work out, the outlet, his bad guys seemed to take the day off? Inconsiderate to the extreme - had he done the same when he'd been evil?
Rubbing one hand over his face, Tommy exhaled, his mind going back over the last few hours and he groaned softly. Kira probably thought he was crazy.
Not only had his temper been held in check by a very thin and frayed thread that had been in the process of shrinking throughout the encounter, he'd never been deliberately cruel to Kimberly before and it had left a sour taste in his mouth. And that, ironically, had only made him madder.
Away and clear - finally able to breathe without feeling as if he were suffocating, shame swept through him with alarming speed and took the wind clear out of his anger. His behavior today had no excuse; Kimberly, no matter what she'd done to him or for him in the past, didn't deserve to be treated like a pariah. He hadn't expected to see her and he'd just reacted - he'd been unable to focus on the here and now.
She looked different, he reflected, now that his head was cooler - now that she wasn't standing in front of him anymore. His stomach clenched in a most unwelcome fashion as he had no trouble bringing her image mnd. He'd caught her and Kira unawares and he'd had the opportunity to study her for about half a minute before stepping through that music room door.
It wasn't the shock on her face he saw now, but the details he'd missed as his anger had simmered while he'd waited for them to notice him. She looked exhausted; there were shadows under her eyes that had never been there, not even when she'd been competing. She was as slender now as she'd been back in high school, but he didn't think it was because of her exercise routine - and he didn't doubt that it had been her on the balance beam the other day.
He didn't want to care about her; needed not to, but he'd learned a long time ago that he would always care, one way or another, about her. With a shake of his head, he walked back to his jeep and slid to the ground, his back braced against one wheel.
He should never have doubted his senses, but he hadn't been ready to deal with her; hell, he wasn't ready to deal with her now - but she was there and she'd said she wasn't going anywhere. Tilting his head back, he stared without seeing at the sky, wracking his brain for some way -any way - to avoid interacting with her more than necessary... only to realize he couldn't do it.
She seemed to be alone - and lonely - and despite his own long term feelings of rejection and pain, the here and now was simply too immediate. Kimberly needed a friend, but he didn't know if he could go back to being her friend, not after everything she'd done to him. He frowned; after everything she'd... wait a second, why was she alone?
Where was Jason?
Kimberly Ann Hart Scott closed the door to her apartment with shaking fingers and leaned back against it as she swallowed convulsively. Today, she decided silently as she fought against the sick feeling that had been following her since noon, can't get any worse.
Dropping her satchel on the ground, she pushed away from the door to step into the kitchen and pour herself a glass of water. Her hands shook as she lifted it to her lips, getting water across her chin, but she didn't care. Slowly, as she downed the glass, her shaking began to ease.
But not fast enough for her liking. A flash of color caught her eye and she turned her head to see the light on her answering machine blinking. A quick tilt of her head revealed she had a single message - from her lawyer no doubt - and she steadfastly ignored it. She couldn't begin to consider what her lawyer might say when her lunch hour was replaying itself with such crystal clarity through her mind.
She'd never expected to see Tommy Oliver again; especially not in some tiny little hamlet a ways up the California coast and teaching Science of all things. Nothing had prepared her for the meeting and she hadn't had an inkling for more than a minute as to who Kira's science teacher was before he'd announced himself. A part of her wondered if she'd have handled their reunion better had she been given time to prepare - or if she'd simply found a way to avoid it, and him, for the rest of her life. It was probably a good thing she hadn't been given the option - but she hadn't expected him to hate her.
Not that she could honestly blame him after everything she'd put him through - after everything she'd done to him - but she'd thought he'd be able to treat her civilly. Even if she didn’t deserve it.
Closing her eyes, she struggled against the surge of loneliness that swept in to replace her bout of nerves. If she and Jason had been on talking terms, she'd have turned to him - but as it was, she was alone now and the irony of her situation wasn't lost on her.
Fate had a twisted sense of humor.
"I don't share my license to kill with anybody.” ~~ Jade_Max
Jade, this story is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good and I just want more as soon as life allows you time to write it. In every sense of the word I'm enjoying all the characters, their interactions, emotions, and motivations. I just love this story. More soon please!
Yes! Updated at last. I have to say, worth the wait too. Can't wait for the next update. Hopefully Tommy would contemplate his actions a bit more and be a bit more civil the next time they meet or something.
Perhaps he contacts the school to get her number, apologize by phone before they next meeting, simply apologize on that next meeting?
The bits revealed bit by bit is interesting too, the DTs interaction with one another, especially Conner's. Will always be looking forward to the next update, whenever that is.
'One can never read enough Tommy/Kim fics. Well, in my case at least.'
So... I haven't been here in like.... -forever-... and I'd like to apologize. I'm still writing this and I'm still continuing with it. It's got a purpose too lol!
Mostly I'm working on an original novel and another long fic I ff.net, so this is slow going unfortunately.
But, this chapter is done and the next one is done, so update today... and another in about 2 weeks or so. Enjoy!
"Maybe that's not such a good idea," Connor hedged, glancing between his team mates as they walked towards the school the following morning. "If Doctor O. reacted as violently as you say, wouldn't getting her involved just make it worse?"
"Maybe," Kira conceded, "but he doesn't need to know I'm talking to her."
"I'm with Connor on this one," the reluctance in Ethan's voice was plain. "I know I said we could use another experienced Ranger yesterday, but Doctor O. might not like that we shared his secret with her. I doubt the old power teams know who the current Rangers are."
"That's easy for you guys to say; you've got Doctor O."
"We all do," Ethan told her pointedly, adjusting the shoulder strap on his bag.
"It's not the same thing. You guys can ask him anything about being a Ranger - but he can't answer the questions I have about being a female Ranger. Ms. Scott could."
"It's not your secret to tell, Kira," Connor was being infuriatingly rational about the whole thing and it made her want to scream. "It's all of us. Like you said, once someone knows one, figuring out who the rest of us are isn't going to be tough. If Doctor O. didn't like her just being here, he's not going to like her knowing he's a Ranger again."
"Especially if she tries to jump in the way she did today."
"I hate it when you guys are right." Ethan and Connor shared a look at her grumble and Kira glared at them. "I've gotta drop my guitar in the music room. Let me know if anything comes up - or if you guys change your mind, okay?"
"You're not going to tell her, right, Kira?"
She rolled her eyes. "No, Connor. I might want to and I know she'd understand, but I won't tell her anything. If she guesses it though - all bets are off."
Leaving the guys with a wave, Kira split from their company, and her thoughts drifted from her music teacher and the scene between her and Doctor O. in the music room - along with everything she'd learned in the last twenty four hours - and some pieces of the puzzle were starting to connect.
Former Ranger; former Tommy Oliver flame; former team mate; former friend - who'd married Jason Scott.
Kira frowned, remembering the tension - and she wasn't naive enough to think it had all been anger - between the two. Ms. Scott's reaction after Tommy had left was something she'd remember for a long, long time. Kira hadn't believed Doctor O. could ever be that mad at someone, not after the way she'd seen him hold his temper with Principal Randall. Maybe it was just that Ms. Scott touched on nerves Principal Randall couldn't.
With a shudder, Kira banished the image of her teacher and Principal from her mind and focused on something more pleasant - which immediately brought Trent to mind. The smile that crossed her lips was unbidden and it took her a minute to realize she was smiling - despite the fact fate didn't seem to want them to spend any time together at all. If it wasn't his father, it was his job; if it wasn't his job, it was her hobbies; if it wasn't her hobbies, it was her duties as a Ranger.
Her smile faded.
Those Ranger duties had already put her friendship with Trent in jeopardy, what would happen if they did end up taking it a step further? Could she break dates, miss appointments, dances or plans simply because she'd had to drop everything to help save the world? Of course she could - but could she do it without having to tell Trent the truth? Could she base any relationship they might have on lies and mistrust, knowing he'd one day demand - even in his quiet and shy way - to know what was really going on?
Honestly Kira admitted she couldn't.
If she and Trent got involved, she'd have to tell him the truth - except Ethan and Connor had a point when they'd said it wasn't just her secret. How could she break their trust in attempting to gain Trent's and put them all at risk? Making a sour face, she wondered how she was ever going to keep it all straight; when had the situation become so convoluted anyway?
"I hope that's not the general feeling every time I show up."
Drawn back to the present, she found Trent waiting for her by the doorway into the school. Her bad mood vanished - her doubts and worries along with it - as she ran the last few steps to him with a smile on her lips. "Never, just thinking unpleasant thoughts."
"Anything I can help with?"
"I wish." With a regretful shake of her head, she shrugged. "But you could walk me to the music room and I'm sure they'll disappear."
"Can I carry your guitar?"
Kira handed it over without a second thought as Trent fell into step with her, not needing much prompting to spend time in her company. "Thanks. You coming on the dig today?"
"I can't; dad signed me up for a couple of extra classes," Trent didn't sound happy about it. "I'm going to have to forego field trips for a while."
"That sucks - will you at least have time to draw?"
The look he slanted her was unreadable. "When something's important to me, I make the time. Maybe I'll talk to Ms. Scott this morning at lunch while you guys are out digging in the dirt."
"Oh, about what?"
"Taking music lessons."
Arching her eyebrows, Kira cocked her head at him curiously. "Why the sudden interest?"
To her surprise, Trent didn't answer and instead shifted the direction of their conversation. "So why'd you bring your guitar if you're going to be out on the dig site all day?"
"I was going to see if she had time when we got back - you know, after school."
"Can I come watch?"
Caught off guard, she stopped and looked at him. "You want to come watch us jam?"
"Sure, why not?"
"Uh... No reason, I guess I just wasn't... why the sudden interest?"
Trent, who'd stopped along with her, glanced away down the corridor - and was saved from answering as Ms. Scott stepped into the hallway; she was on a cell phone and, to the student's way of thinking as they shared a look, was less than pleased.
"-care what he says, it's mine; he can't have it." She listened for a moment, her lips thinning with displeasure. "I know but-" another pause, "There's no conflict; he wants this as much as I do - he'll just have to hand it over if he wants this ended as peacefully as-" she caught sight of the students and cut herself off, forcing a smile. "I've got to go; I'll call you at lunch - thanks Lucy."
Kira and Trent were silent as Ms. Scott folded her phone away and advanced towards them. She seemed suddenly too chipper for someone who had just been speaking about something so painful. Ms. Scott stepped beyond them to the music room door and opened it for them. "Good morning Kira."
"'Morning Ms. Scott. Uh, Trent, this is Ms. Scott, the new music teacher. Ms. Scott, my friend - Trent."
"Ah yes, your friend." A sparkle appeared in Ms. Scott's eyes and she shook Trent's hand. "Good of you to carry Kir'a guitar."
"I volunteered," he admitted.
Kira jumped in before he could be teased, shooting the teacher a look. "Trent wants to know if he can come by and jam with us after school."
"Artist, actually," Trent smiled sheepishly. "I don't play any instrument but my pencil."
"Ah," a knowing smile seemed to pass between the young man and the teacher. "You're welcome to join us; providing you can give us your honest opinion on a couple of songs we've been working on."
"Of course." The warning bell sounded and he flashed his half-smile Kira's way. "See you then."
By the time she'd lifted her hand to say the same, he was already turning the corner down the hall, headed for his first class. Kira exhaled, frustrated, and staring after him for a moment.
"I could be wrong, but I think that young man has a crush on you." Ms. Scott's tease was gentle, drawing Kira's gaze back her way. "No one wants to sit in on a jam session when they don't play an instrument just because."
"He probably just wants to add your picture to his portfolio."
Laughing, Ms. Scott shook her head. "He likes you, Kira - and more than just as a friend; I'm sure he just doesn't know how to say it."
Deliberately squashing the excitement that surged through, Kira turned to face Ms. Scott with a shake of her head. "Like you and Doctor O.?"
A wall seemed to slam between the two of them and Ms. Scott visibly flinched. Taking a deep breath, Ms. Scott met Kira's direct gaze with one of her own. "Whatever drew Tommy and I together a long time ago has no bearing on the here and now, Kira. We're colleagues; nothing more."
The bell cut her off and Ms. Scott waved her away. "You'd better get going."
Frustrated, Kira let it drop - for the moment - and dashed off to homeroom and Doctor O.'s classroom. Everything she wanted to know, everything she thought she did know, about the two teachers racing through her brain. She was still thinking on it through roll call, the ribbing her class mates gave her and the speech Doctor Oliver gave about being on the dig site. It wasn't until they were boarding the bus to head for the site that Kira snapped out of it - and it wasn't a pleasant snap.
"Really, Ms. Randall, I don't see why I need to be on this trip; I have classes to teach."
As one, Tommy and Kira's heads spun to regard the protesting music teacher being reluctantly ushered along by one Principal Randall.
"Nonsense, Ann. You need to be interacting more with your colleagues. This will be a prime opportunity for you to expand your horizons in both paleontological and currently social knowledge " Dragging Ms. Scott to a halt next to the bus, Randall regarded Tommy with a shrewd eye, but one Kira was certain missed the tick in his cheek. "Doctor Oliver; I'm sure another pair of eyes and hands wouldn't be unwelcome on this trip, would it?"
Her tone implied it better not be.
Kira glance between the two teachers, wondering if Principal Randall knew what she was suggesting, and was promptly shooed onto the bus by Doctor O. He then turned to Principal Randall and Ms. Scott with an almost blank expression and looked between the two women deliberately. "I've only room for one more on the bus and I believe, Principal Randall, that seat is yours."
"Then I'll decline," Ms. Scott pulled her arm free and stepped back, only to be pulled forward by Randall once more. "I'm not really dressed for a field trip anyway."
"Nonsense. I have several pressing matters to deal with before I join you; I'll take my car."
"I could ride with yo-"
"There's room, Ms. Scott," Tommy interjected, keeping his tone carefully neutral as he cut her off. "Who knows; you might learn something of interest on this field trip."
"Just what I was thinking, Doctor Oliver. On you go, Ann."
Caught, Ms. Scott glanced from one to the other and reluctantly, boarded the bus. Kira saw her board, sliding into the only dual seat left and knew in that moment that Doctor O. would have no choice but to sit with her. Thinking fast, she slid from the seat she shared with Connor and darted up the aisle to slip onto the chair next to the music teacher.
Ms. Scott looked at her in surprise, which quickly turned grateful as Doctor O. boarded the bus and did a quick headcount. The student across from where Kira had slid in next to Ms. Scott, vacated the bench seat to go sit with Connor, putting Doctor O. back at the front. The bus doors closed, locking them in, as the vehicle began moving. Doctor O. braced his feet and stood in the center of the aisle, raising his voice to be heard.
"Listen up," as he started to speak, the ruckus from the back of the bus stilled, the students turning their attention his way - a mark, no doubt, of just how much the students respected him. "When we get to the dig site, keep in mind it's an active dig no matter how close it is to being finished. The area is fragile so stay on the marked pathways and use the tools provided. Stick to the groups discussed in class and listen to the guides when we get there. Each team will be working on a different section of the bone bed and new finds should be brought to my attention immediately. Any questions?"
Ms. Scott lifted her hand, glancing briefly at Kira as Doctor O. turned his full attention her way, his stance easy as he swayed in tune with the motion of the bus. "Yes, Ms. Scott?
"I appear to have missed orientation, Doctor Oliver; to which group will I be assigned?"
Their gazes locked and Kira sucked in a sharp breath, drawing Doctor O.'s gaze and jumped in without thinking. "She can work with me, Doctor O."
Tommy pinned her with a look she didn't quite understand before turning his attention back to the rest of the busload of students. "No other questions? Good; have fun today."
It was as good as a dismissal, and the students turned their attention back towards one another. Only Ethan and Connor - exchanging looks, kept their attention semi-focused on the drama at the front of the bus. While they couldn't hear what was being said, the facial expressions of their fellow Rangers spoke volumes.
As Tommy settled into his chair, Ms. Scott leaned across Kira. "Doctor Oliver - you didn't answer my question."
He glanced her way before reaching into one pocket to pull out a notebook. Without asking what it was, both Kira and Ms. Scott could see it was the group field assignments. He perused it for a moment before flipping it closed. "Kira, Ethan and Connor are the small group today," he failed to add as usual but Kira heard it, hoping Ms. Scott wouldn't. "They've been assigned to work with me."
Kira suddenly wished she'd not been so impulsive as the other reason for this outing came back with a vengeance. Dinozord eggs. How could she have forgotten this field trip was also official Ranger business? She almost groaned, casting an apologetic look Doctor Oliver's way, but he wasn't paying her any attention. His gaze was locked with Ms. Scott's as if urging her to decline the group assignment.
But, as Kira was learning, Ms. Scott was made of sterner stuff. "That will be fine, Doctor."
"Tommy," he corrected, almost looking surprised he'd done so. "Doctor O. to the students, Ms. Scott, but Tommy to my colleagues - and friends."
She nodded once. "Then you'd best call me Ann."
His lips twisted sardonically. "Ann, huh?"
Glancing towards the students, she nodded. "For now, Tommy."
Their gazes remained locked and Kira had the distinct impression they'd forgotten she was sitting between them. Tommy nodded once, sharply, before changing the subject. "Have you ever been to a dig site before?"
"What kind of dig?"
"Paleontological - it's a dinosaur bone bed."
Kira jumped in, knowing she shouldn't, but also knowing she had to since they needed to be reminded of her presence. "Doctor O. helped find it."
Both teachers seemed to jerk with her mild interjection, their locked eyes breaking contact and Kira exhaled noiselessly as they both looked anywhere but at one another. Ms. Scott turned her attention to Kira even as Doctor Oliver shifted his attention back to the group assignments. "What do you mean he helped find it?"
"Exactly that; he doesn't just teach science; he's also active in the paleontological community here." What she wasn't going to tell Ms. Scott was that Doctor O. had found the bone bed during one of his previous Dinozord hunts. "He's a pretty good teacher in the classroom, but field trips like this are where he really shines."
Ms. Scott leaned back in her seat, jostling against Kira's shoulder as she sent a sidelong look Doctor Oliver's way before tilting her head back. Her words, when spoken, were barely audible over the dine in the bus. "You have a lot of respect for him, don't you, Kira?"
"He's earned it, Ms. Scott."
They shared a look, Kira's unintentional reprimand in the words drawing a faint smile from Ms. Scott before she closed her eyes and turned away, leaning back against the seat for the duration of the trip. Unintentionally, she'd given the music teacher a lot to think about.
"I don't share my license to kill with anybody.” ~~ Jade_Max
Chris convinced me to post this since it's still in the process of being written - any and all comments/suggestions etc are welcome to help me progress... thanks in advance!
Oh and he made some beautiful graphics for it
Title: Fate’s Folly Author: Jade_Max Rating: M to be safe for later chapters Disclaimer: Power Rangers and their affiliates belong to Saban/Disney and are used without permission and no money is being made off of this. Author’s Note: Set directly after PRDT Episode - Golden Boy; AU after that. Special Thanks: Huge thank you to chrisangelo for brainstorming with me on this one! I got stuck in the middle of the original chapter 2 and he really helped me a lot to take this in the direction I wanted it to go! Thanks man!
Summary: There are those who are blinded by fate, and those who accept it.
Kira, Conner and Ethan settled around a table in Haley’s Cyber Café, sliding their books on the table.
“Not performing today?” Ethan’s light tease was directed Kira’s way with a nod to the stage.
“I could ask you the same thing,” she returned, looking pointedly at the row of computers that was sitting mostly unused at the back of the café. “Don’t tell me your game shy.”
“Nope,” Ethan held up his text book. “I’m just reading ahead for Doctor O’s class.”
“Reading ahead?” Conner’s blank look was almost comical. “Why?”
“Because… because it’s more homework!”
Kira laughed, shaking her head as a hand reached down to place her smoothie on the table. She looked up with a slightly shy smile. "Hey, Trent."
"Hi." His smile was easy, his gaze direct. "Can I get you guys anything else?"
"We're good." Conner looked to his companions. "Aren't we guys?"
Ethan and Kira nodded, Kira turning her gaze back to the table and the smoothie Trent had brought her. She knew he was waiting for an invitation to sit down, to join them, but she didn't dare voice it. When she'd made a mistake that afternoon in speaking with Trent while in Ranger form, she knew now she couldn't chance having him figure out that she was the Yellow Ranger. If he did, she hadn't a clue what he would do with the information. She didn't know him well enough to guess - no matter how much she wished otherwise - and she couldn't risk it.
"Alright." Trent's words were easy but Kira winced at the hurt she could just make out underneath it. "I'll see you later."
Ethan leaned across the table as Trent turned to help another table. "What was that about?"
"Yeah, normally you ask him to join us."
Kira glanced around to ensure no one was nearby before leaning forward into the huddle with her friends. "I called Trent by his name out there today. If he hears me talk, he might figure out who I am."
Ethan and Conner shared looked as Kira sat back, miserably contemplating the smoothie on the table. With a decisive move she grabbed her bag and packed her books back into it. "I'm going to head off, guys. I'll catch you later."
She stopped, managing to smile for Ethan. "I'm going to find Doctor O. Maybe he knows something that can help. Who knows, maybe he had to deal with this before too."
Neither Conner nor Ethan tried to stop her and Kira did her best to ignore the look Trent shot her way as she headed for the door. Haley was behind the bar, watching her, but Kira averted her gaze so she could honestly say she hadn't seen any signal Haley might use to indicate they should talk.
Escaping the Cyber Café, she headed for the edge of town and the well used path between it and Doctor Oliver's home.
Things were quiet, for once, as she walked and Kira was grateful Conner hadn't offered her a ride since she felt she'd need the time to sort through what exactly she was going to tell Doctor O. She couldn't very well just come out and ask him about Trent - he'd think she was interested or something. And while she was ready to admit that Trent appealed to her - not only was he handsome but he was nice and not at all the spoiled rich brat people expected - she wasn't ready to face the questions those admissions might bring up.
It wasn't like Trent had asked her out or anything. No, she considered him her friend - her really cute, terribly distracting friend - but a friend none-the-less and she wanted to be sure he wouldn't recognize her.
She jumped, dropping her bag as she spun about in surprise. "Doctor O - you scared me!"
Tommy Oliver arched his eyebrows in surprise. "Deep in thought, huh?"
Kira blushed, nodding.
"I've been known to do that too. Can I give you a lift?"
Kira scooped up her bag and climbed into the passenger side of his Jeep, feeling slightly foolish. "I was coming to see you, actually."
Tommy put the Jeep back into gear as he turned off into his driveway. "Something on your mind?"
Kira looked down to her lap where she was twisting her fingers together. Stilling them abruptly, she clenched them together to prevent the nervous fidget. "Can I ask you something, Doctor O?"
"Sure." The vehicle slowed around a corner as Tommy navigated the narrow drive lane leading towards his secluded home. "What's up?"
She took a deep breath. "How did you keep people from discovering you were a Ranger for so long?"
Tommy turned the last bend and applied the brakes. "There are quite a few ways I could answer that," he admitted as he stopped the car and put it in park. The engine died as he shut it down and unclipped his seatbelt. "I get the feeling this question is more specific to a set of circumstances."
Kira busied herself with climbing out of the Jeep, pulling the strap of her bag over her shoulder with one motion before turning towards Tommy's cabin."I mean, how did you do it while you were pulling people out of situations or checking on them afterwards?"
Tommy came around the front of the jeep and leaned against it, his shrewd gaze not fooled for a moment. "If you're asking how I managed to keep my identity a secret from my friends the answer is that I didn't have to. I was a loner before I was a Ranger, and the Rangers befriended me before Rita turned me evil. Once they found out who I was, and I knew who they were, we just had to keep it from everyone else."
"What about your parents?"
"I never had to rescue them as a Ranger," his lips twitched. "Though I'm sure my mother would have recognized me in person if we ever had. Thankfully all she ever saw were short news clips."
Kira took a deep breath. "What would you have done if she had recognized you?"
"Has someone recognized you, Kira?"
"No. Not yet."
"But you think they will."
She sighed. "Trent's my friend, Doctor O. I feel bad about this whole thing because he doesn't know about Conner, Ethan and I, but I spoke to him today when we came to help you against that gold thing. I spoke to him like I knew him and he got all suspicious. What if he recognizes me?"
"Then he recognizes you." Tommy smiled faintly. "Chances are he's just like everyone else when it comes to the Rangers. They all believe the Rangers are super heroes, with magical powers and super human strength - and that they're all adults."
"Uh, Doctor O. We do have magic-like powers."
"Thanks to the Dino gems. Before, you were all ordinary kids."
"Like you were?"
Tommy shrugged. "It was a long time ago, but we never had the advantages the Dino gems give us. We had to rely on the skills we had and the training we could help each other with. Jason, Trini and I helped Billy learn to fight, but I think being a Power Ranger helped too. Our strengths as a team outweighed any personal weaknesses. We were stronger and faster than normal kids - but not so much that people would recognize us."
"So what do I do if Trent recognizes me?"
"You'll think of something."
Tommy chuckled at her outraged and exasperated expression. "I can't tell you what to do, Kira. If it were me, I might have something to say, but no one I know is in danger of figuring out my identity. I can only make a suggestion."
"And what's what?"
"Immerse yourself in your favorite hobby, something that helps you clear your mind and find focus. When you're balanced and at peace within, you'll be able to act with a clear conscience on something you find unbalancing."
"You're no help at all!"
Tommy pushed off the bumper. "No? Try it and see, Kira. There's nothing to lose but a little of your frustration and helplessness."
She watched him walk towards his home, something in his stride tipping her off to an inner turmoil she hadn't been aware of before - something in her words had awakened a painful memory and it hadn't been her intention. "Doctor O?"
Tommy stopped, looking back over his shoulder at her.
"Is that... is that what you did?"
Turning to look at her assessing, he finally nodded.
"Did it help?"
"It didn't hurt." Tommy shook his head and strode back towards her. "Come on; I'll take you home."
Kira was silent as she climbed back into his car and buckled herself in. She didn't speak as he turned the jeep around headed back up the drive lane to the main road. Doctor O. had given her a lot to think about.
Tommy watched as Kira closed the door to her house and pulled away from the curb. Unintentionally, her question echoed through his mind again; the hesitant, almost fearful way she’d said it making it hurt all the more.
"Is that... is that what you did?"
Driving on auto pilot, he examined Kira’s question and why it had hurt so much - or rather, why it had stung to talk about the past when he’d believed himself to be beyond it all. He had done as he’d told Kira - focused on himself and his hobbies; focused on his martial arts to find his center and balance. Not only that, but he’d pushed himself to move beyond the impasse that his life had become. Stopping for a red light, he settled back in his seat, his hands clenching and unclenching on the steering wheel.
The impasse. That was a joke.
His life hadn’t been at an impasse, but a complete stand still and he knew why - he still had the reasons tucked away in a box in his closet along with an unopened wedding invitation. Perhaps that was why Kira's question had stung so much - or perhaps it was because she and Trent and their situation reminded him so much of his own youth and... and her.
Their idealistic views, the way they danced around each other awkwardly, trying to be friends, yet secretly hoping for that much more - a badly kept secret at that. All of his friends during that period in his life hadn't found his interest to be anything but natural - and encouraged him in it. Of course, his own insecurities about how she felt - despite their reassurances - had complicated matters until she'd taken the first step in seeking him out.
Without that little kernel of encouragement, he doubted he'd have found the courage to ask her out. Or maybe he would have - he didn't know how history would have rewritten itself if she hadn't sought him out that day. It all boiled down to one thing.
Of course, if that had been the case and they're simply remained nervous friends - despite the obvious desires to try for something more - he would never have been in the situation he now found himself in. Instead he'd have been regretting his youth for the things he hadn't done, not the things he had. Not that there weren't things he regretted doing, but there were more regrets for what he hadn't done than those he'd accomplished. He didn't regret being a Ranger - but he did regret how that tenure had started. He didn't regret befriending the others - but he did regret how it had all ended.
He hadn't spoken with Jason in over nine years - not since the man had the gall to invite him to their wedding - Kat had all but vanished into her dancing and the others... they kept in touch sporadically. But it was the absence of his best friend and brother he regretted the most. The fact that it was his own actions, his request, which kept them apart didn't escape him, but it didn't make it hurt any less.
Those old wounds continued to fester, unhealed and unbound, just below the surface - but he knew that if he had the chance to change it, to bring Jason back into his life, he’d take it in a heartbeat. The reasons for their split – her choice - had dulled the ragged edges over time, but it hadn’t allowed him to move on.
Gunning the engine as the light turned green, he peeled around the turn leading to his home and the sanctuary he'd created. He had new purpose now, a new life and the old one shouldn't have had any bearing on it. But of course it did no matter how much he didn't want it to.
Being a Power Ranger was about the only thing he'd kept as a constant in his life, despite the lulls in between. Lulls. He almost snorted at the thought. Ten years was quite a lull from something that had occupied his high school years. In fact, now that he thought about it, he'd only been a Power Ranger for a fraction of his life time.
Of course, that fraction had been more rewarding - and heartbreaking - than anything else.
The rewards far outweighed the losses - or so he told himself. All of the actions he'd taken in his past had led him to where he was today. They had made him into the man he'd become, no longer a fresh faced loner of a kid - instead he was a jaded, loner of an adult.
Making a face, he parked his Jeep and climbed out, reaching for his bag.
He didn't regret his decisions, but then not all of those decisions had been his to make and some had been made without him. Tommy had a love affair with control and that was probably why, even after ten years, Kira's question stung; the one decision he should have had some control over, he hadn't. It had been taken from him, stolen, by a simple piece of paper and the mistake of thinking everything was as it always would be.
Unlocking his front door, he left the memories on the outside of his sanctuary where they belonged and stepped inside.