Title: "That Was Us, Then"
Written by: Shawn
Summary: On a warm, starry night Kim receives an unexpected visitor.
Spoiler/Timeline: Tommy lost his Green Ranger powers for the last time in MMPR episode "Green No More" which aired 9/28/94. He returned as the White Ranger less than a month later in the episode "White Light," which aired on 10/18/94. I want a little more distance since he departed to have taken place so assume that White Light in early December 1994 and Tommy was gone for about two months. In addition, Trini returned from the Peace Conference five months prior to the start of this story and assists the Rangers, but is not a Ranger herself. See Authors Notes.
Disclaimer: If I don't own PR. I wish I did. Then I'd be rich. *smile*
Authors Notes 1: Tommy and Kim are both 17 years old and this story picks up about ten days after Tommy returned to become the White Ranger. T/K never officially dated and now that he's back, both are sort of trying to feel each other out again.
Authors Notes 2: With all due respect to the shows characterization, expect T/K to sound a bit more realistic here. Nothing out of character, but just a little more appropriate for their age and the responsibilities they've lived for quite some time now.
Authors Notes 3: This could become a short series. We'll see.
Special Note: This story was inspired by Mili and Pink-Green-White-4ever, whose work has recently reminded me why I liked the PR's teen years so much. Thank you both. *bows before the talented authors*
Love involves a peculiar unfathomable combination of understanding and misunderstanding.
The home of Kimberly Hart
Friday, December 12, 1994 9:30 PM
Angel Grove, Ca
"We're only 17, Trini. We're not old."
"How else do you explain us not having dates on a Friday night? We're pretty, smart, and single. We don't have hairy moles growing on our faces or double chins. We get along with guys great. And our personalities are practically sparkling."
"That doesn't mean we're old. It means we suck."
Trini snickered, "You just made me feel oh so better."
Seated in an old wooden rocking chair in the backyard, Kim gazed toward the starry heavens on a warmer than usual Friday night. With no plans for the evenings she was enjoying the pleasant evening weather. "You could have gone out with Jim Rolands."
"He smells like old carpet."
"How about Tyler McKane?"
"He has the IQ of a thumb tact."
"Yeah, and we know how you like your men intelligent." Her best friends pause spoke volumes. Kim knew she better not tread to far in that direction. It wasn't like her dealings with the opposite sex were any better.
"How about you and Harold Myers? He's been asking about you for weeks." Kim's mock of a gasp amused Trini to no end. That knock about 'intelligent men' couldn't go unchallenged. "He can't take his eyes off of you."
"Eye, Trini," Kim quickly amended into the receiver. "He only has one eye."
"The patch gives him mystery. And that only means he'll see less of your faults."
"I don't have faults. I have slight imperfections."
"And the difference is?"
"Two words for you. Wonder bra." They both got a kick out of that one. Best friends could laugh about
anything. "Maybe our standards are to high."
Trini sighed on the other end. Lying on her bed with the TV muted, she shut her eyes to the ceiling she'd been staring at. "It's not our standards that are the problem. It's the guys we... you know."
"Yeah, I know." Discussing Tommy and Billy meant dancing around what they each knew the other felt. Kim felt the less said the better. "At least your 'interest' didn't disappear for two months without so much as a phone call."
"You knew where Tommy was."
"I shouldn't have to make every first move. He didn't try to contact me once. I don't think he wanted to talk to me or anyone else."
The bitterness laced within Kim's voice wasn't hard to pick up on. Trini wished she had the answers to make her feel better. "Tommy's a very complicated, moody guy. You've always said that about him."
"So is Billy."
"No, Billy isn't complicated. He loves science, is incredibly shy, and sees me as the girl who was dared to eat a bug and did it when she was a child. At least you know Tommy is attracted to you."
"You really ate that bug?"
"All these years I just thought you put it in your mouth and spit it out when Zack wasn't looking."
"Don't forget I know what 'really' happened to that hamster Jason had when he was ten. Never forget I have that knowledge."
"You've been blackmailing me for seven years with that!"
"Let's not speak of the bug incident again," Trini declared with a triumphant smirk. "We were discussing Billy and his lack of romantic interest in me."
"I've seen how Billy looks at you. I don't think you give him enough credit. He's definitely interested, but he's only gone out on a couple of dates and you're very dear to him. He might be afraid of ruining your friendship if things don't work out."
Ever since Trini returned to Angel Grove five months ago she discovered her feelings for Billy had changed into something a little more than friendship. The very personal letters they wrote to one another during her time at the Peace Conference and the occasional phone calls just to keep up with what was going on in each other’s lives shifted their friendship. When they reunited it was as if they hadn't grown up together due to how much they had changed.
Billy developed a quite confidence and thicker skin towards insults and opinions while she was overseas. He was still as brilliant, gentle and kind as ever, but his glasses were replaced with contacts and his style of dress turned the corner from nerdy to casual adult.
It wasn't that Trini barely recognized him when she came home. On the contrary, he simply matured into a handsome young man. One that she was kinda spellbound over.
Things were different now.
They were different.
And Trini was having a very hard time dealing with that. "I've asked him out three times in the last two months, Kim. You know me. I was upfront about things." She thought her frankness was one of her best qualities. "He always has an excuse why he can't go. At some point I need to just accept he doesn't see me that way."
"Trini, I can tell he does. It's just that he's so shy around girls and with his emotions."
"He's known me since childhood."
"And you think that makes it easier?"
If Kim had a point Trini wasn't ready to acknowledge it just yet. Her pride was still bruised from Billy's polite refusal to go on a date with her. "So what's up with you and our new fearless leader?"
"You know about as much as I do," she wistfully replied. "We haven't had a private conversation since he came
back. He hasn't called me or said anything at school. It's like we're right back where we started. Just two good friends who stare at each other, then look away, then try to pretend we weren't staring in the first place."
"Why don't you just tell him how you feel?"
She gave a short laugh. "I'm scared that at the end of the day he doesn't feel the same way."
"But what if he does?" Kim's silence was more eloquent than words. She didn't have much faith in relationships working out due to her parents divorce. And with her mom out tonight on her fifth date with the new man in her life, Trini knew her best friend was on shaky ground.
"I've loved him for so long, Trini. And I just don't know how much longer I can go on loving him and not seeing anything in return."
Being someone’s best friend meant you had to ask the questions they didn’t want to be asked. "Are you ready to let Tommy go?"
Kim's answer nearly broke her heart. "Did I ever truly have him?"
Sitting up in bed, Trini wished she were there to give Kim a hug and tell her everything was going to be
alright. "I can tell that he loves you."
"Why can't I?"
"Because you won't allow yourself to believe it."
Though possessing a very positive outlook on life, Kim's slowly allowed doubt to creep in where Tommy was
concerned. His recent absence and lack of reaching out to her didn't help matters one bit. "It's been over two years."
"I've known Billy since I was seven years old. You know how I feel about him now. Love doesn't come with a timer."
"I just don't believe Tommy thinks about me?"
"You're wrong about that," a familiar voice echoed from behind her. "I think about you all the time."
Startled, Kim stood up so fast she almost tripped over her own feet and dropped the phone. Tommy was standing next to the garage, watching her. How long had he been there? What had he heard her say? Her heart began beating in long breathless strokes. The very air around her quivered with electricity.
Neither of them uttered a single word, just watched one another while the attraction rekindled.
Trini stared at the phone. "Kim? Hey, Kim?"
Despite her heart feeling as if it was now lodged in the vicinity of her throat, Kim tried to focus on the person repeatedly calling her name. She raised the receiver to her ear again. "Trini, I have company. Tommy's here."
"Call me when he leaves."
"K." Kim pressed end on the phone and then laid it down on the lawn chair. "How much did you hear?"
Her tone was soft but insistent as her soft brown hair framed her lovely face. Tommy couldn't take his eyes off of her. "Just what you said a moment ago. No more than that."
Could she believe him? Did she want to? Of course she did because she knew he wouldn't lie to her.
Kim smoothed down her skirt and took a deep, calming breath. "This is a surprise."
"I was taking a walk to clear my head..." Tommy approached her slowly. "I ended up here. I needed to see you. I should have come sooner."
Hope trembled through Kim. As it pertained to Tommy lately that was a foreign emotion. "Why did you need to see me tonight of all nights?"
The unmistakable hurt in her voice wrenched his chest. The guilt at having not treated her the way she deserved to be treated ate him up inside. Tommy knew he had to face his greatest fear or risk losing her. Her patience wouldn't last forever. "I miss you."
For a precious moment Kim allowed her gaze to cling to his. Something passed between them. Something meaningful. She lifted a hand to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. "I haven't been hiding."
Tommy gave an understanding nod. "I know. I've been stuck in my own head for a long time now. Losing my Green Ranger powers left me in a bad place."
"You should have let us help you." Kim's voice lowered so quietly it almost sounded hushed. "You should have let 'me' help you."
"I wanted to."
"Then why didn't you?"
Tommy paused in the wake of her pleading eyes. He's denied her what she's earned for so long now. Simply the truth. "Because you would have seen how hurt I was. And not just because I lost my powers, but the whole time they were fading was even worse. I felt like I was a liability to the team. Feeling weak and helpless was killing me. Lord Zedd was hunting me daily. He was concentrating on me and I couldn't stand up to him the way I wanted
to." The look on her face clearly spoke of hurt feelings. He knew he had so much to make up for. "I know I didn't handle things the right way."
"Your pride was hurt a lot more than you were."
Kim could read him like a book. Tommy didn't always like that, but he did appreciate it. "I know my reasons don't make much sense and I know one apology won't make up for the way I hurt you." He erased the last few feet that seperated them until they stood face to face. "I'm truly sorry, Kim."
In his warm brown eyes she could see the faint stirring of guilt and regret. He deserved no less, but she loved him enough to hate its presence. Tonight he was making an effort. And that meant so much to her. "Thank you."
Tommy exhaled the heavy breath he'd been holding deep in his chest. "I thought about you everyday," he confessed as nervous as he's ever felt in his entire life. This was new, uncharted territory he was entering. "I thought about picking up the phone and calling you."
"Why didn't you?"
None of his admissions were easy ones. "I think I became so tied into being the Green Ranger that I forgot who I was. For a while there I don't think I could separate the two, so when I lost my powers 'I' felt lost. And I've always been a bit of a loner. Before my parents moved to Angel Grove I never had many friends. I wasn't anti-social as much as I just liked being alone. I'm used to being alone when I deal with my problems."
Kim sympathized with him. The adopted son forever searching for his place in the world. "That's kind of sad."
"Yeah, I guess it is." Hands in his pockets, he caught a glimpse of her lips curling into a wry grin.
"So you missed me, huh?" Kim enjoyed throwing that in his face. She sidestepped him so that he couldn't see her euphoria. "And you thought about me everyday, right?"
Wearing a bashful grin, Tommy ducked his head away from her. She was circling him now. He told her things he couldn't take back and now he was trapped by his own words. "You're special to me."
"Special like Jason?"
"I don't dream about Jason in a two-piece bikini."
Kim met his loving gaze head on. "Neither do I. At least we have that in common." When his hand reached out, wrapping round her wrist with a gentle, firm hold, she stopped breathing.
"Did you miss me?"
He was staring at her lips and if he kissed her she knew she'd pass out. She wanted to pass out. "Everyday."
What more could Tommy ask for? Nothing at all. The bare skin where they touched felt like it was on fire. He released her wrist and took a step backward. She did the same. Perhaps it was a case of too much to fast.
"I didn't see your moms car in the garage."
"She's on a date with William. It's their fifth one so far."
"You don't sound enthused."
Kim shrugged at the whole situation. "I met him three times already. He's a nice enough guy. He's sweet to my mom. It's just..."
"He's not your dad."
Tommy could read her like a book. Kim didn't always like that, but she did appreciate it. "My dad moved on but I don't see his girlfriend everyday. If my mom and William get serious I'll see him all the time. It's like even though my parents have been divorced over a year and a half it's only now real to me."
"I know it hasn't been easy for you. The divorce I mean."
"It's never easy, but I deal. I don't have any other choice."
They walked over and sat down on the Cedar Plank bench next to the rocking chair. Side by side minus the touching, the warm weather and progress of their conversation thus far made for a cozy ambiance. The night sky was littered with bright stars. Breathtaking in scope, but in Tommy's opinion they didn't compare to the tender feel of Kim's lips. He found himself staring again and had to look away.
Awareness of what he was doing fluttered in her stomach. "I was talking to Trini when you arrived."
"How is she doing?"
"She's bored, just like me."
She turned to him with an arched brow. "No one asked."
Ouch, Tommy thought to himself. "Maybe you're getting old."
"Trini said the same thing."
"Billy will come around. Trust me on that."
Her gossip radar blared all of a sudden. "How do you know that?" His shrug was of the 'I have information I can't tell you about' variety. "Come on, Tommy. Talk."
"My lips are sealed."
She whispered hauntingly, "That's no fun."
A double meaning for certain, judging by her impish expression. "Everyone’s not as confident with girls as Zack is."
"Billy doesn't have to be. He just needs to be himself. He can't keep saying no to her dates and then stare at her when she isn't looking like all he wants to do is kiss her. He's sending her mixed signals."
"Maybe he's never felt that way about a girl before. At least not that deeply. He might be scared of messing it up. Believe it or not guys have insecurities too."
"Girls rule the insecurity kingdom, Tommy. That is a well known fact."
"I'm not going to argue that. I'm just saying Billy doesn't know what to do with these new feelings. When you're scared you're ten times more likely to mess up then do the right thing."
"That sounds like the voice of experience talking."
Tommy stared straight ahead and then shifted his body toward her. "I stayed away from you for two whole months because I was afraid. It nearly killed me. I missed you so much."
Kim's heart thudded against her chest as she realized that time hadn't dimmed his feelings for her. She lifted her hand to stroke his cheek. Her lips parted every so slightly. "You don't have to miss me. You just have to let me in."
"From now on I promise I will."
"Good. I didn't want to have to beat up the competition."
Tommy leaned toward her, lowering his voice. "There was never any competition. It's always been you." He brushed the softest of kisses over her lips. "It'll always be you."
Gentle, sweet, and just this side of passionate. With a shooting star streaking across the sky the kiss they shared lingered on for twelve glorious seconds, parting only when the sound of a car pulling into the garage drew their attention. A pair of flushed smiles turned towards the offending automobile.
"It's probably time for me to go anyway," Tommy said when he found his voice again. The taste of her lips was now burned into his subconscious. As wonderful as their friendship was, it was no longer enough. "You are so beautiful, Kim."
No way was she getting any sleep tonight. No way at all. She was speechless and walking on air.
Tommy and Kim stood up at the same time and were grateful for what seemed like a short stalling period her mom was offering them. Just enough time to say their goodbyes.
"Coming here tonight," he began while holding her eyes captive. "This was the scariest thing I've ever done."
"Because you mean the world to me."
He was serious and he looked so handsome when he said it. Kim was humbled by his sincerity. "It might help you in the future to know that you mean the world to me too."
"I'll keep that in mind.” Tommy never wanted this night to end. He smiled his best for her. "I'm going to go home now."
He hadn't moved yet. Hadn't stopped smiling at her. Hadn't let their gaze end just yet. "Don't be a stranger."
"Tonight was a first step."
"I don't want to stop walking this time."
Backing away from the yard, he gave her a gentlemanly bow. "Goodnight Beautiful."
"Night." He disappeared into the night as mysteriously as the first time he entered her life. He's stolen her heart completely. She's in love for the very first time and doesn't want to fight it anymore.
"Looks like we both had a nice time tonight," Kim's mom just had to tease a little as she walked through the backyard toward her daughter. Tommy waved bye to her on his way out.
"Yeah," Kim said just audible enough to hear. She grabbed the phone from the chair, clearly walking on Cloud 9. Her mom slipped her arm over her shoulders as they walked toward the back door. "Did you have a nice time tonight?"
"Yes. I had a really good time tonight. Very romantic."
Some situations would take more time to get used to than others, but at least the healing process
had begun. "Good. Now let's have some mom/daughter time and eat some ice cream."
"Sounds like a plan."
The End... for now *wink*