Sparring was perhaps the most singularly sensual activity Kimberly Hart had ever experienced in her life, being a virgin at sixteen. The liquid grace of making each move, the breathlessness and alertness of each action, the sweaty slap of skin against skin, the warmth and flush as you made contact...it was victorious, glorious, sexual. It was amazing, and it was something she looked forward to each Tuesday, solely for that feeling of accomplishment she had when she landed a blow against the big boys she went up against.
Or the big boy, actually. Tommy Oliver, to be exact. At first, Kim didn't want to admit to herself that her love for sparring was shallow. Didn't think that it made a difference who she sparred, even if it was with an amazing-looking guy who smelled really, really good.
Then one Tuesday, Tommy didn't arrive to their regular sparring spot, and Kimberly felt all the fun drain out of her favorite activity.
Okay, so maybe it wasn't solely for the feeling of accomplishment that she liked to spar against big, brawny Tommy. Maybe it was because she was hoping his lips would collide with hers during a particularly slippy kata. Maybe it was because that feeling of accomplishment was usually preceded by a warm swoop in her stomach as he gave her a lingering look. Maybe it was because she was head over heels for Tommy, and the only way to channel that restless energy a crush brought was to touch him in the most innocent ways possible.
"Why so glum, chum?" Trini Kwan, Kim's best friend and the most Zen person she knew, sat down next Kim as she waited in front of Angel Grove High's entrance.
Kim just shrugged and pointed to her watch miserably in answer.
"He'll get here," Trini said kindly, before she left to get some last minute studying done at the computer lab. "He's just running on TS."
Kim grinned; Tommy
was so usually late, the whole group had affectionately dubbed the
time he ran on TS- Tommy Standard. Then her grin darkened. "Yeah,"
she said regretfully. "We were scheduled to spar at 3:00...but
it's half past now. Even TS doesn't overrun that far." Her eyes
widened. "What if he's hurt?"
Trini patted her shoulder. "Tommy can take care of himself," she said, with a meaningful look to the multicolored "watches" they both wore. Kim bit her lip and nodded.
God, she thought, annoyed, Where the hell are you, Tommy?
Sparring, Tommy decided thoughtfully, was perhaps the most unromantic activity a guy could engage a girl in. This in itself was a hard thing to admit, being as Tommy Oliver loved sparring, loved karate, loved physical activity as a whole, very very much. But, Tommy figured, the first step to solving a problem was assessing the reason it existed, and Tommy figured he'd found the reason he hadn't scored a date with Kim yet.
Sparring. Tommy shook his head. That was all they did together, lately. They never even got much time to talk, in between her Ranger duties and his frequent visits to his uncle's cabin. Tommy's virtual dismissal from the team had hurt him much more than he revealed to anyone but Kim, and she had suggested the Tuesday sparring sessions "to keep her body fit". Now, Tommy knew a gentle lie when he saw one, because not only was Kim's body extremely fit already, but he knew she'd had to wrangle her schedule around to find a time for the sessions. But the selfish part of his brain said it didn't matter, as long as he got to know Kim a little better, and on the plus side, get to touch her.
That was usually the problem. Tommy always seemed to think with his selfish side. But now, for the first time in his stumbling, clumsy, clueless teenage existence, Tommy was gonna rock the socks off Kimberly. He was gonna be romantic.
Pause for effect as lightning struck and thunder crashed.
Here he sat on the grass of Angel Grove Park, a picnic basket to his side and a checkered cloth on the floor, scrumptious treats laid out for a feast upon it. He was dressed snappier than usual, in a white tank top and khaki pants with that green flannel Kim loved thrown over it, his sleeves rolled up. He'd actually bothered to comb his hair, and as a result, it lay straight against his neck. Tommy always felt girly with his hair straight, which was why he normally let it dry and curl naturally, but Kim had once gathered the strands in her fingers and given him a heart-melting smile.
So, hence the straight hair. But where the hell was the girl who was supposed to appreciate it? He checked his watch. Even running on his own TS, she should've been here an hour ago! The note he'd left for her had specifically said three o' clock.
Com'n, Beautiful, he thought worriedly, Where are you?
Kim sighed for the tenth time that hour. She had given up on the hope that Tommy was ever gonna arrive at their regular meeting spot, and instead was waiting for the inevitable phone call explaining where he was. While she waited, she sipped a Pink Power Shake, one of the new smoothies Ernie had introduced in honor of-- Kim hid a smile-- the Power Rangers. She was drinking the tropical concoction named, appropriately Pterodactyl Papaya and thanking her lucky stars that she wasn't like Trini, who had to endure a banana-mango combo named Tiger Twist, when Ernie answered the phone and shot her a look.
"Yeah, Tommy, she's right here. Wanna talk to her? No, she's just having a drink. Yeah, she's been here all afternoon waiting for you. No, I don't think so-- wait, really? Oh, man, I'm sorry, Tommy, I guess Richie forgot to give it to her. Listen, here she is."
Ernie handed the phone over with an apologetic smile as he ducked his head to rummage underneath the counter. Kim gave a confused smile before accepting the proffered phone.
"Tommy?" she demanded, "Where are you? I've been waiting here for three hours, and haven't even broken a sweat yet, mister!" One that wasn't about you, anyway.
"Hey, there, pretty lady," Tommy's voice crackled over the phone. "Ernie's just informed me that you didn't receive my note."
"Note? No way, I'm so sorry! You left a note explaining? Jeez, wow, I feel really bad now-"
"Cut it out, princess," he interrupted. "Not your fault. It-- uh-- basically told you to meet me in the park at four. I-- well, I had a surprise. Guess you just weren't meant to see it."
"Surprise!" Kim squealed. "But I love surprises! Oh, Tommy--is the surprise still there?"
Tommy laughed. "Yep. Still here, and still warm."
Kim bit her lip. "I'm dressed for sparring," she said apologetically, "Not the park. But I guess...why don't we converge the two plans?" She brightened. "I'll just bring our equipment over to the park, and we can spar there, and afterwards, we'll see this...surprise," she teased.
Tommy laughed again. "Sure thing, beautiful. Except I don't know whether I have stuff on for sparring."
Kim gave one last parting shot before handing the phone to Ernie: "Then take it off, hotstuff."
Biting her lip, she restrained a smile as she ran over to the practice area to gather her stuff. "And one Dragon Cyclone!" she called to Ernie. "To go!"
This situation had promise.
Tommy stood looking at the phone in disbelief as Kim's last words dangled in the air. "So take it off, hotstuff."
He gulped. And then, as if he had no will of his own, he took off his flannel shirt and tied it around his waist. Reaching up, he secured his long hair into a pony-tail, taking out the stud in his ear. He lay that and his watch and gold chain necklace on the grass, and stooping, he took off his shoes and rolled up the cuffs of his khakis. Then he sat down to meditate, hoping Kim wasn't gonna wear the same spandex thingy she had worn last session. His concentration had been utterly shot because of it and--
Before he knew it, the voice of Kimberly Hart was again in his dreams. Not now, he told his inner mind, annoyed. I've got to get ready for the real thing.
"Tommy, are you awake?" A gentle nudge. "It's been ten minutes, and I ran from the Community Center. Jeez. And you still fell asleep?!"
Huh? Oh, crap.
"No," Tommy said groggily, eyes blinking open. "No, I wasn't asleep. I was-- I was meditating. I do that before I spar." He ducked his head and rubbed his fingers in his eyes, willing the tell-tale sleepiness out of them.
Tommy opened his eyes and almost keeled over with shock, because of all the things he expected, he hadn't expected this. Kim-- looking ready to spar in the cutest little pink shorts and an oversize AGH cheerleading sweatshirt-- sitting on the picnic blanket and munching away on a piece of chicken. Half the meal he'd set out was gone already.
"Surprise?" he said weakly.
Kim launched herself at him. "This is great! Tommy, this food is delicious. Did you make it all yourself? It's so-- freaking-- good!" She punctuated that sentence with a lipsmack, and Tommy couldn't help but stare at the way her smooth, pink lips pressed together and then parted.
"Tommy?" Kim poked Tommy gently with her shoe. "It's getting dark. We should get started."
Tommy nodded and got to his feet, wordlessly helping Kim up. Her hand was cool and small in his larger, sweaty palm, and Tommy ignored even the picnic as he studied Kim stand up. She was all compact grace and soft lines, petite but with round muscles in her legs that spoke of the power she had. Her hair looked clean and soft, gleaming in the evening, dusky sun. Her fingers worked deftly to put her hair back in a braid, bangs falling gently into her sweet brown eyes.
Eyes that were currently brimming with mirth and laughter. With Kim, Tommy could hold a thousand wordless conversations, and with Kim, he enjoyed the silence as much as the spoken words. She began to walk, and he followed, her hand lingering close to his without quite holding it. Her warmth was comforting.
Kim was all sugar and spice and everything nice, and Tommy realized that he didn't need to be romantic, because Kim was romance enough for him any day.
He was so simple, Kim mused, as she walked alongside him to the area of grass near the middle of the park where they would spar. He wasn't the type to need a lot of accessories or flashy workout-wear. He wore a simple pair of khakis and a tank-top, his trusty flannel. And his feet were bare, a sort of intimacy that had Kim blushing when she didn't know why.
He looked fantastic, to be frank. His body was slim, with lines and cords of muscles running through his arms and legs and nice, firm abs. He was like some sort of Greek statue, with his chiseled features and strong jaw, but he was so gentle and unassuming, no one would ever mistake him for arrogant. Kim loved the cool breeze that passed through his dark, silky hair as he walked; she liked how he looked down to make sure she was still next to him. She liked how his hand touched her wrist just barely, protecting her but acknowledging her ability to defend herself.
She liked him.
He smelled good, too, like pines and sandalwood and winter. Kim breathed that in and thought of how amazing it was that Tommy could make her feel this way. That anyone could make her feel this way.
"We're here, babe."
Kim smiled. Tommy, normally so shy and reserved, had a habit of calling her endearing nicknames. They made her feel wanted, and pretty, and special. Tommy had that effect on girls, but she had the feeling that he actually put effort into making her go jelloid.
"Good. Now I can wipe the floor with you." Kim gave a wink and Tommy laughed. He gave an exaggerated bow, which Kim returned with a curtsy, before both of them slipped into serious mode and stepped back.
It was on.
Kim closed her eyes, as was her way when sparring. She liked to hear things coming before stopping them. She listened to the quiet noise of approval that Tommy always made. She heard the crickets chirp and the wind rustle and the kids in the park yell and cavort. But if she concentrated...
She heard Tommy's heart beat and she heard the step back he took, and then she heard the launch of his assault. Her hand was out to parry the blow before his hand even made contact, her own fingers splaying against his fist as she pushed his arm back and spun, elbowing him gently in the ribs.
Contact, point given. Aim to touch, not to hurt. These rules never really mattered, because honestly-- could either hurt the other? No. Never, not in this lifetime. As if to prove that, Tommy's fist uncurled and his fingers entwined with Kim's.
Sparring was magical here in the evening light, fireflies dancing around her and the moon and sun both visible for a fraction of time. Kim opened her eyes for a second and breathed in, before feeling him shift against her. She spun away from him, though her hand remained in his, and tugged him to her. Surprised, Tommy stumbled forward and Kim spun back into his embrace, grabbing his arms and miming a nice kick back into his shins. She was rewarded with a teasing slap against her bum.
"Points for unconventionality," he breathed in her ear. Kim burned with pride and embarrassment; Tommy had never touched her like that before. She wanted him to do it again. In fact, she knew very clearly the goal of the night: get Tommy to finally kiss her. Or for her to kiss him. Something along those lines, she was willing to give or take something so long as--
Tommy grabbed her waist suddenly and pulled him closer to her. In a spurt of silliness, Kim supposed, he was now swaying to an imaginary beat, snaking his fingers through hers and humming in her ear.
"Let's dance," he whispered.
Tommy wasn't sure what made him do it. He wasn't sure what he was playing at, or what possessed his feet to move so skillfully. But he was sure that he loved it...this dance, this exhilarating mix between karate and art and...
Kim's eyes were still tightly closed, as was her way. But her fingers drummed against his hands and her feet were making small box steps as Tommy let her lead. It was funny for a second until Kim abruptly let go of Tommy's hands and spun, doing a little pirouette and then shimmying enticingly. She threw one arm out and let the other curl around the back of her head, swaying to some invisible beat. Her hand made a come-hither motion. Tommy complied and then Kim had stepped forward, stomping her left foot and then turning, backhanding him lightly in the chest and thrusting a low-cut jab into his stomach.
Tommy made an 'oof' sound and smiled, grabbing Kim's wrists and turning her around, doing a sort of makeshift cha-cha, laughing along with her as they moved as one. He let go for just a second and then swept a foot out, catching Kim's ankle.
She fell back for a moment, her eyes wide, until Tommy caught her wrists again. Then she was falling straight into his arms and their strange, firefly-lit dance ended as she breathed heavily into his chest.
There was silence, and then Kim opened her eyes up a crack. "Well," she said softly, "This is different."
"Ummm...yeah." Kim smiled fully, opening both eyes and straightening, Tommy's hands still on her shoulders. "Really nice, dragon-boy."
"Drag-on boy?" Tommy teased. "I don't want to be accused of dragging anything on. So--" and a bit of courage overtook Tommy, "--this is what I'm gonna do."
He leaned in.
"What are you gonna do?" Kim breathed as his lips came closer, their foreheads touching, Tommy's fingers under her chin.
"Hush," he commanded softly.
"Make me," Kim answered back.
And then they kissed.
Tommy didn't win Boyfriend of the Year, nor did Kim ever get deeper than her surface obsession with sparring (or most accurately, Tommy's hot bod in sparring clothes) but both of them recieved their wish that day, and they pretty much lived happily ever after.
Well, no, they didn't. But that's another story.
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