Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, wish I did, cause it woulda been a Tommy and Kim comeback in Dino Thunder! Maybe this has been done before but I haven't seen it so as far as I'm concerned this was my bright idea hehe. We'll probably end up calling this a major AU but at the moment it's only a small AU, if there is such a thing *giggles*. I don't really mind whether I continue it or not, I just had to write this little baby down as the plot bunnies were bouncing in my brain non-stop until I got it down. I'm up for continuing it though, I have a plot all laid out so let me know if you're interested in reading more!
It was time.
Way passed time in fact, one could go so far as to say long overdue. Eight years, since they had spoken face to face. Sure, Jason had passed messages along between them, telling how he was doing, what she was doing, always innocent enough, casual interest nothing more.
They had both been young when they met, she a lovestruck teen, he pretty much the same and not much had changed on her part, aside from the age of course.
*Oh Tommy, where have the years gone?* She wondered wistfully as she drove. She glanced down at the scrap of paper which held the hastily scribbled address for what must've been the hundredth time that hour. She didn't need to look, she had memorised it, it wasn't hard.
1992 Valencia Road, Reefside. She had been chanting it in her mind ever since her car stereo had decided she was too far into the woods for it to possibly receive transmissions and had obstinately given out. Her little jeep was probably older than Billy's old RADBUG, so perhaps its laughable lack of technology was understandable.
Kimberly Hart wasn't nervous. She didn't get nervous. She'd won gold in the Pan Global Games, was a well respected gymnast, world-renowned, and yet the though of seeing her old flame left the same butterflies in her stomach she always felt when she used to think of him. Yes it was time. They had not parted favourably all those years ago, with 'The Letter' -capital 'T' capital 'L'. She had thought it best then, to break it off, she was in Florida, her duty was to Coach Schmidt and gymnastics, his were to the Power Rangers. She'd left Katherine there in her place. Bright, bubbly Katherine, her replacement. The rest of the team had assured her no-one could ever fill her spot, but Kat had fitted so nicely into the niche, and had always looked so adoringly at Tommy from afar. Kim thought she'd be doing him a favour, free him up, no responsibility to her, no need to tiptoe around. Kim wasn't there, Kat was, it was as simple as that.
Except that it wasn't. Kim hadn't counted on how devastating The Letter would be to Tommy, how much he really thought they could continue the relationship forever, over endless bounds of time and space. She hadn't counted on how much it devastated her. The bond that was so perfectly cultivated from the moment they met was irrevocably severed, from Tommy and the rest of the Power team-mates. But her own team-mates were there for her, the original group. Jason and Trini, and Billy and Zack, Aisha too, had kept in close contact over the years.
Jason especially made a point of making time to see her once the peace conference was over, being the big brother he'd always been. And it was from Jason that she heard Tommy had broken up with Kat, and that he had been working with another of the Red Rangers, the Red Space Ranger Andros, monitoring the remnants of the Machine Empire as they plotted another uprising. It was he who assembled a team of Red Rangers to take down Serpenterra, and in his 'spare time' had somehow bred a fascination for science, especially- rather less surprisingly- dinosaurs. And now he was a Doctor of Palaeontology no less.
*Gee Oliver they must be giving those PhD's away.* She chuckled to herself dryly. And it was now that he had resurfaced in a little town called Reefside, to apparently teach high school kids? That was less of a surprise to her, he'd always been an excellent mentor, from the days he and Jason used to instruct kids and adults in martial arts at the Youth Centre. But science?!
So Kim had decided now was the time to make amends, having given the wounds ample time to heal, it was time they had a talk, caught up, apologised and basically did what should have been done many years ago. That is, if he wanted anything to do with her or even cared that she was determined to make up even if it killed her. He had probably moved on of course, Jason had remained tight-lipped about most of his activities aside from his teaching, the former Red Ranger apparently deciding it was Kim's job to bridge the gap and Tommy's to fill in the blanks. But then again she wasn't surprised, he had been trying to instigate a happy reunion for years now. It was only now -for a reason quite unknown to Kim herself- that she had finally pulled her finger out of her ass and got round to doing something about it.
She pulled up a rocky drive to a solitary wooden house which was apparently, hopefully, according to her suitably vague map, the residence of Dr. Tommy Oliver, PhD. Now there was a thought she never dreamt she'd be thinking.
It was Tommy to a T. In the middle of nowhere, standing proud and alone, with plenty of space for him to practise his Katas or brood, whatever was the flavour of the day. Taking a deep breath the former Pink Ranger pulled her keys from the ignition and got out of the car on surprisingly firm legs. She walked to the door as if on autopilot, and knocked soundly three times, then deciding to round it off with a chipper little tapped tune. She stood expectantly at the door but received no answer. She went to the side of the house and peered round back, there was a black four-wheel drive there, and unless he'd gone for a stroll in the woods randomly, he was at home. She strode back to the door and gave it another, more normal knock. After a few moments she heard the creak of hinges as the door swung open.
At first she almost thought she'd got the wrong house. There he stood, and oh lordy he was handsome as ever. Tommy, for his part, looked like he'd seen a ghost and almost dropped the cup of coffee he was holding, succeeding instead, at merely spilling it on his shoe.
Kim stood wordlessly for a few moments taking him in, then she opened her mouth.
"Jase said you'd cut your hair." It was the most stupid thing she'd ever heard sprout from her mouth, and she'd said some pretty moronic things in her time. As soon as she heard the words she internally winced and scolded herself. She might as well have got on her hands and knees and started trying to chew her own arm off while rolling around. Indeed Tommy regarded her as if that was exactly what she had done as he looked at her in a mixture of shock, bewilderment and befuddlement.
She tried a recovery.
"It looks nice." *Owch. Great one Hart.* If she had thought her first attempt was lame, this was strike two.
Tommy slowly opened his mouth as if to speak, then closed it again, basically doing what Kim should have done from the start. The coffee continued to drip down onto his shoe, but it remained unnoticed.
*Try again Kim.* She chimed to herself.
"I'm sorry, this was rude of me, I just pop up uninvited after like, almost a decade and expect you to be free for me to make an ass out of myself in front of, you're probably busy. God I'm such a dork." She babbled and turned away, mentally screaming at herself that she should never allow herself to talk to people. Ever.
As she was retreating to her car Tommy found his voice.
"Kimberly, wait." She turned slowly back around, with a slight squint, as if expecting him to start laughing and pointing, she was sure that's what she'd have done in his situation. She looked him over again. So similar yet so different. He was clad in a black sweater and khaki trousers, his hair neat and close to his head. Where he used to be slender and angular, his features were more muscular, more defined. He had bulked up over the years but it was not a bad change. Made him look more powerful…Kim squeezed her eyes closed trying to nip those sorts of thoughts in the bud before they went anywhere. It was enough that as soon as she saw him a flood of memories surged up threatening to drown her without her going all gooey over him. That wasn't what she was here for, at least she didn't think it was.
He was regarding her with fascination, and reserve. As if he was wary of her? That hurt, but she supposed it was to be expected. Even after seeing him after she and Jason had been captured by Divatox, they hadn't talked. Been polite, even friendly in brief moments, but skirting the issue, and then she and Jason had left again. He and Kat had already seemed so close, so perfect. That had hurt too.
She came slowly back up to the porch and upon her glance down to his shoe he finally noticed the coffee and jerked the cup back up, with a frown down at the offending object. He then turned away and retreated back into the hall.
Kim wasn't sure whether he wanted her to leave or follow so she cleared her throat.
"You gonna invite me in or am I supposed to just stand here like some nouveau living art on your doorstep?"
He turned again, was that a slight blush on his cheeks? "Sorry, c'mon in." He said quietly, placing the glasses that he had held unnoticed in the other hand onto his face.
"Since when did you wear glasses?" She asked as she shut the door and followed him into what appeared to be the living room.
"It adds to my Clark Kent mystique." He said dryly, motioning to a leather sofa next to a low coffee table.
Kim smiled weakly and plopped down onto the couch, blinking slightly as she thought she might sink into its squishy depths.
After a seemingly endless silence between them, Tommy spoke.
"It's been a long time."
Kim looked down at her hands, biting the inside of her lip slightly with nerves.
"Yeah it has."
"I'm sorry Tommy-"
"Look Kim-" They started at the same time and both laughed nervously.
"Sorry, you go." Tommy offered, sitting down on another leather chair opposite.
Kim picked at her French-manicured nails awkwardly for a moment before looking back up at him.
"I'm sorry, this was just a great idea of mine to trek down and see you, now that y'know, you've come someplace new and things are quiet at my gymnastics studio."
"Oh yeah, I heard about that from Jason, the Swooping Crane Gymnastics School right?"
"Yeah, well the money I got from the Pan Globals helped set me up with that. I thought we were long overdue for a chat." She brushed a stray clump of highlighted blonde hair behind her ear, a nervous habit she had always had and that he recognised with a small smile of nostalgia.
"I thought about calling you sometimes but, well y'know I didn't want to intrude into your new life or anything." He didn't mean it to sound so bitter, but she picked up on it, a pang of guilt striking a chord in her heart.
"That's my fault Tommy, not yours, I didn't stay in touch, I tried to shut you out, after… y'know."
"Yeah." He answered quickly, obviously not wanting to go there just yet. Kim took the hint.
"But Jason said you were teaching, I gotta say I was surprised." Kim gave a shy smile and Tommy returned it with one of his own.
"Well me too really, but I found a passion for it. Working with one of the other Red Rangers got me interested in digging up things from the past I guess, and we got talking about different technologies, as he's from another planet, they have some advanced sciences and things I thought could be useful for Earth, especially to newer generations of Rangers. So I started experimenting, I got a lot of help from DECA…" At Kim's confused expression he explained, "She's the computer onboard the Astro Megaship, the base of the Space Rangers. She has knowledge on basically everything, so I had a good teacher!"
Kim had heard from Jason of course all about the Megaship as part of the Red Ranger mission, envious that Jason had got to meet all different generations of Red Rangers and have an exciting mission on the moon. She had often longed of getting back into that spandex and kicking evil booty one more time.
"And then you scored a PhD." She smirked and he nodded with a small smile.
"Yeah, I knew you wouldn't be able to get over that."
"Well considering we spent most of our time in school skipping it to save the world, I never figured you to be the thinker who turns out as a 'doctor', that was always more of a Billy prediction. But I can see where you'd be a good teacher. What happened with the racing, as that obviously didn't end up as a career choice?" She raised a brow.
"It kinda dried up over time. I realised that by racing fast cars I was just trying to recreate that adrenaline rush I felt by being a Ranger, I was looking for something to give me a thrill. And I knew that racing wasn't going to do that, it would never be able to fill that void, plus I got the need for speed out of my system by being a Turbo Ranger I guess." Tommy shrugged. Kim noted he had become far more secure, but far more impenetrable over time. He had always used to share his fears with her, tell her everything with his eyes, now she looked at him and saw a wall, not giving anything away, remaining secretive. A part of her guiltily wondered if that was her doing, had she caused him to become mistrustful and closed? She looked him in the eye.
"So here you are."
"Here I am." He nodded, scratching the back of his neck absently, but his eyes dark, as if he was battling internally with what he wanted to say to her. After a moment he fixed his deep brown eyes on her, his forehead creasing slightly as he spoke.
"Kim, why are you really here?"
The question took her aback, but she supposed it wasn't unexpected. The problem was, she wasn't sure she knew. She blew out a deep breath.
"I guess…I guess you could call it soul searching. I've accomplished what I've wanted to accomplish, I competed in the Pan Globals and won, was at the top of my game, opened my coaching school. The only thing that was left unfinished, unresolved, was us."
Tommy sat silently for a moment, digesting this, his tongue running over his top teeth behind his closed mouth, causing his lips to purse rather endearingly from Kim's vantage point.
"No offence Kim, but I'd say the way you ended things between us was pretty final, pretty resolved. There was another guy, you broke it off. You didn't wait for me to come visit you, you didn't do it over the phone, you wrote it to me in a letter, and you sent it to Ernie's Juice Bar." There was definitely bitterness there, unmistakable, if detached. As if he'd come to accept it but not understand it. Kim bit her lip.
"It wasn't a good way to do things, I'll admit." She looked down and began to pick at an invisible spot on her jeans, anything to avoid looking into those eyes.
"Wasn't good? Kim it was cruel. I was expecting a letter full of joy about how well you were doing, how soon it'd be until we could see each other again, and you tell me about this other guy, how I'd really like him, how you felt you'd found the person you belonged with, when for all the time I'd known you, I knew that person was me. And you always told me you did too. You never chose to mention him before then, and you wrote me almost every other week. It's like you wrote it deliberately to hurt me." This was the first time since she had arrived that the strong wall he had erected seemed to shake. Even if he had moved on, which she was sure he had, this was still a sore subject for him, even after all this time. Kim inhaled heavily, bracing herself for what was to follow with her next revelation.
"There was never another guy Tommy. It was a lie." Silence descended in a thick shroud once more, suffocating her. This pause was even longer, it lasted a good few minutes.
"What?" When she dared to look up again, he resembled a lost child, trying to come to grips with something that seemed vastly out of his reach.
"I made it up. Oh God Tommy, I thought it was what you wanted, I thought it was what I wanted. To free you from your commitment to me, I thought you deserved a life, not to be bound to something I didn't think you wanted anymore. I thought that if I didn't break up with you you'd stay loyal to me forever even when your heart really needed something different. I did it for you." She finished weakly.
Tommy remained silent for a deafeningly long time, just staring at her as if she'd grown another head. Kim winced at that and looked at a spot just behind his ear on the wall to avoid eye contact. Finally he began to speak, it started out as a low rumble that gathered momentum as he came to grips with the revelation.
"…What right do you have to decide what I want or need, to just end things because you think that's what I was feeling? To, to just sever your ties to me without a truthful explanation? Did I mean so little to you that you could just cut me out of your life like that?"
"There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't regret sending that letter but my conscience overruled my heart. I thought you'd be happier with Kat, she was there, she adored you, I thought you secretly wanted her too, it was just easier if I broke up with you, if you had realised you loved her, and broken up with me I…I wouldn't have been able to live."
"So you do the same to me first. Protect yourself by hurting me instead. God I'd never have believed it if you weren't right here in front of me…" He trailed off, as if weighed silent with disbelief.
"Tommy, let me explain, it's not that simple." Kim attempted, but looking into his eyes she saw. Up went the wall again.
"I think you should leave Kim, you shouldn't have come here. If you were looking for closure, you've found it. There's nothing left of us anymore, I don't even recognise you. Maybe you've been living a lie so long you've forgotten who you were, you've forgotten the girl that I used to love. Don't come here again. I've got a new life, and it was pretty damn good without you."
Kim's eyes filled with tears, she knew she deserved the biggest lashing he could give and more, but it still broke her apart. She felt like she was being torn inside, and with a stifled sob she rose and ran from his house, leaping into the car and hitting the gas so fast she was almost superhuman.
Inside Tommy stood and with a cry of frustration, put his fist through the wall.
Okay, give me a damage report, are you intrigued and want more? Review or email me and tell me what you think! If I do continue it there will be some Dino Ranger action later on and a Tommy chapter next.
Catch ya on the flipside ;)