She could see it like it had just happened yesterday. The one man she had loved more than she could ever love another human being was staring death in the face, and there was nothing she could do to stop it. In fact she had been the one to instigate it. Only seconds before he was a hero riding into battle in a shinning suit of red armor. But, she easily ignored his greatness, not by choice of course. It was however out of her control.
There he hung; the only thing saving him from defeat was his best friend, who was evil's pawn. He was not trying to save him; instead he was struggling with all of his might to destroy him. This excited her and brought a smile to her face. "Into the fire. Into the fire. Into the fire..." was all she could think and say. "Noooo! Stop! Please wait! Tommmmyyy........"
Kimberly Hart had once again forced herself awake to avoid reliving the most horrible experience of her life. As she sat up it became very obvious to her that she had been sweating for quite some time. Her pink satin pajamas were drenched, her pillow was moist, and her soft auburn hair was so damp she could have sworn she had just gotten out of the shower.
It did not take her eyes long to adjust because it was pitch dark around her and all she could see was the electric green light of the dreaded numbers on her alarm clock, 4:55. She groaned knowing she had only five minutes to recover before her day was set to begin. She felt like she had not gotten a minute of rest since she turned off the lights the night before, yet she had been in a deep sleep for nearly seven hours. As she lay back down on the soft but wet pillow she wanted to cry.
Why had this dream come back to her? Why hasn't she been able to get just one good night's sleep since she picked up her bags and moved back to Angel Grove? And why did it have to be that particular nightmare that kept haunting her? Actually she knew why she just had no idea how to fix it, other than ignoring it. But, it was too hard now; it had been with her for too long.
She had known when she left the team that she wasn't just living out a lifelong dream; she was abandoning her very best friends as well. She rationalized it by telling herself that Katherine would be an even better ranger than she ever was and before long her friends would realize that it was all for the best. But she knew that was not true. Kimberly Hart had contributed more to the team than Zordon could have ever hoped for. With Kimberly as the Pink Ranger a battle was never lost for good and a ranger was never left behind.
But, when the Rangers lost their powers because of Master Vile Kimberly could not help but feel guilty. She knew that if she had been there she could have done something to prevent it, or at least she could have tried. Even though they did recover their powers in the form of the Zeo Crystals things were not the same, and never would be. It was because of this that Aisha stayed in Africa. And it was because of this that Billy met the Aquestrian Rangers and eventually came to reside on Aquitar.
Although, some good did result from the changes. For starters Jason rejoined the team and even though it was just for a little while everyone was so happy. And, the evil wrath of Lord Zedd and his horrible wife Rita Repulsa became a memory of the past.
But it was not just the unending guilt of knowing that she abandoned the team when they needed her most that would not allow Kimberly peace. Instead it was the even more torturous guilt of knowing that she not only left Tommy Oliver behind, but she also tossed him aside as if he had never really meant anything to her at all. When in fact he meant more to her than he could ever know as long as he lived.
Kimberly tried to remember what in the world she was thinking when she sent him the letter. The contents of it were so cold and impersonal, and the fact that she mailed it care of the Youth Center made even more hateful. She could not explain to anyone or to herself for that matter why she did what she did. So many times she wished she could have taken it all back and there was no comfort in knowing that at the time she truly believed she was doing it for Tommy's benefit.
She knew it was hard on him to be with out her and she also knew that it was only a matter of time before he realized it. Kimberly had fought dozens of Lord Zedd's monsters and battled in so many life threatening situations in the past, yet the most frightening thing that could ever happen to her was receiving the same letter from Tommy. Only she would know whom the girl was that he had fallen so hard for, Katherine Hillard.
She was a very beautiful girl and her exotic roots in Australia only made her more appealing. In addition, the fact that she was under the bad guys' control before joining the team just like Tommy did not help either. They had way too much in common; after all, Tommy was the first Ranger Katherine met when she moved to Angel Grove. Kimberly had seen the way Kat looked at Tommy so many times. Kimberly also knew that it was inevitable that he would some day in the near future return those looks to the new Pink Ranger.
At the time Kimberly truly believed breaking things off with Tommy was the best thing to do for him and the team. Without her distractions Tommy could be an even more effective leader for the team and he would be happy. But then why was she so miserable now?
Beep...beep...beep...the alarm clock startled Kimberly out of her thoughts and as much as it scared her she was thankful for it. In fact, she was more than happy to jump in the shower and begin another day of her brand new life in her favorite city in the entire universe, Angel Grove. Once Kimberly completed college and her two year internship at a local high school in Florida she never even stopped to consider where she was going to spend the rest of her life, because she had already known Angel Grove was the only place for her. So, she rented a U-haul trailer and jumped in her car and never once looked back the entire drive to California.
However, once she reached home she discovered that she was in for a great deal of disappointment because none of her friends were left in the small paradise. She had not really kept in touch with anyone except for Jason, who now resided in a small town upstate. He never much talked about the guys because he was afraid of slipping and mentioning Tommy. And, although Kimberly never said it Jason knew that she was living with a great deal of guilt on her shoulders, and the last thing he wanted to do was remind her of it.
She also kept in touch with Aisha by mail but all Aisha ever wrote about was her adventures in Africa. Kimberly didn't know if she had even kept in touch with anyone else from the gang. But the one person Kimberly was most interested in finding back home was Tommy. She knew he would not be there before she even left for Angel Grove.
She had seen the brand new team in charge of saving the world on the news, and the second she laid eyes on him there was no question in her mind at all that the Black Ranger was her Tommy Oliver. He was such a strong leader and she was brimming with pride as she watched him back in action. She knew he had to be the one leading the team because Zordon was gone and the only other person on this planet capable of finding a new power and saving the world was the former White Knight.
The Florida news broadcasted the goings on of the colorful heroes often and every time she saw it one name repeated over and over in her head all day, Reefside. And now that she was within hours of the seaside town she wouldn't dare show her face there. Even though she was desperate, not just to see Tommy, she was not nearly ready for that. But, she just wanted to see where he lived, and see what he saw everyday, and just be close to him even if she had no idea what street he lived on or where he went to work everyday.
Kimberly swung open the familiar doors of the Youth Center, the sun had not come up yet but it was time to get to work. Every morning Kimberly personally trained a young girl who was a student at Angel Grove High. She believed that this girl had a true talent when it came to gymnastics.
As Kimberly entered the juice bar a familiar face and a comforting voice greeted her.
"Good Morning pretty girl, can I make you my specialty energy smoothie to jumpstart your day?"
Kimberly giggled and she could not help but notice how grown up and just plain sweet Eugene Skullovich had become.
"Yeah, that would be heaven! How did you know that was exactly what I wanted?"
Skull smiled and blushed as he reached for a pink plastic cup.
"You know I make it a point to make sure the prettiest girl in Angel Grove is happy."
Kimberly couldn't help but let her face drop, she knew Skull meant well and she appreciated it but she just could not picture anyone else making her happy but Tommy. Skull noticed her change in emotion.
"What's the matter Kimberly? You look tired. You know what you need is a nice relaxing evening under the stars. Just picture it a picnic on the beach, soft mus..."
Kimberly did not mean to sound so angry but she could not help it. Everyday it was the same thing, she was so happy to see him smile and to hear his voice and his laugh. It was just like old times and just like old times he had to go and ruin the moment by reminding her that she has other options yet she doesn't have the sense to take advantage of them.
Kimberly knew that she could be satisfied with Eugene Skullovich, maybe not happy but content with life. He had matured into a wonderful man that any girl would be lucky to have. He had so many good qualities. For one, he was an entrepreneur, he and Bulk had bought the Youth Center about a year ago and remodeled it back to its old self. They did just as good of a job with it as Ernie, if not better. They took a great deal of pride in the establishment and they seemed to get along really well with the high school students. Kimberly couldn't even think of a time that she saw either one of them interact with a student and not make that student laugh or at least smile. Of course that was just the type of person Skull was.
It was funny, Skull still dressed in his own style, which had matured quite a bit, but somehow he had become very attractive in Kimberly's eyes. And it wasn't that she could not like him in that way, in fact she knew that if given the chance she could eventually fall in love with him. But, she just did not want to because it would not be fair to him or her and she just could not let her true love go. She preferred to just be good friends with Skull and spend the rest of her life miserable and dreaming about Tommy Oliver. The thought of it made her queasy.
Skull did not mean to upset Kimberly, but he could not help it if he was still madly in love with her. High school was so long ago yet he just never met another girl quite as special as Kimberly Hart. And when she moved back to Angel Grove it was like he was given a second chance at life. In fact, nobody knew this but Bulk, but he opened the Youth Center at 5:30 every morning just for Kimberly. Before she came back to town it did not open until at least 7:00. But, he knew he was just wasting his time. He also knew that even though he had no idea where in the world Tommy Oliver was, he was still the only man in Kimberly's heart. It did not take a rocket scientist to figure out that Kimberly was hopelessly devoted to Tommy and would be for the rest of her life.
"I'm sorry Kimberly, I didn't mean to upset you. It's just that every morning you walk in here in your little pink shorts and your big beautiful smile and all I see is Kimberly Hart, captain of the cheerleading team, class president, and all around the cutest girl at Angel Grove High. I swear it Kimberly; it's as if I am transported back in time every morning at exactly 5:30 a.m. Oh and for the record, your still the cutest girl at Angel Grove High."
Kimberly could not help but smile.
"Thank you Skull. And, I'm not just saying this to be nice but, it is truly wonderful to be able to see you every morning too."
Just then Kimberly's student walked in looking determined and prepared for a work out. Skull handed Kimberly her smoothie.
"Well, looks like she's ready for battle."