8/28/04

Spoiler: PRDT: Fighting Spirit (AU); PRWF: Forever Red

Acknowledgements: some info gathered from TVTome.

Disclaimer: Power Rangers belongs to Saban, who then runs their show on Disney channels, which considering Disney's non-violence stance seems hypocritical, but who am I to judge?

Relationship: T/K, references to T/H and T/Kat

Summary: Tommy's coma worries the team, and puts Kim in a position she never wanted to face.

A/N: SilverWarrior, this is for you. Wish I could have found a way to include it in AAR, but... so here it is, one-shot style.

A/N2: To make this story make sense, you must do the following: Please assume that Kim and Tommy are back together, in a relationship and that she is living with him in Reefside. She's not a ranger, but has been there for Tommy and the team through the events since PRDT episode 1.

Hi all. I know, what's this and why isn't this being included in Always a Ranger... well, after seeing "Fighting Spirit", you have to wonder what it would have been like if this whole thing had played out with different players. No offense to Doug (Great episode, thanks!) but the history of the rangers isn't summed up in just "Legacy of Power" or this episode, and Tommy's not the only one with a ranger history. As well, being a ranger isn't everything he is... So I submit to you: "Fighting Spirit Revised". I hope you enjoy, and now, to the story. . .

Fighting Spirit Revised

-x-

If watching the man she loved create a new ranger team, suffer at the hands of Mesogog only to gain new ranger powers, fight a new evil white ranger and be incased for weeks in that damn amber prison only to get released and be invisible, this final straw was more than she could stand.

That was how Kimberly Ann Hart came to stand in the doorway of the hospital room looking at the hospital bed where her love Tommy Oliver lay, unconscious and unresponsive.

She knew that Hayley was trying something to return Tommy to his normal state, which was fine by her, since sleeping with an invisible guy was interesting, it really pained her to not see his loving face every day. So while she was at work at her advertising consulting job in Surfside, the neighboring town to Reefside, the disaster had occurred.

Hayley had rung her cell phone and told her to hurry to Reefside General Hospital. When she arrived, she had found Tommy laying in the hospital bed, the doctor there with Hayley, Conner, Ethan, Kira and Trent. When she walked through the door, all eyes fell on her, and the sorrowful expressions she found there nearly buckled her legs right then and there.

"Kim," Hayley began, moving to the other woman in her friend's life, the one he loved.

"How..." Kim murmured, her eyes locked now on the still form of the man why she'd only just begun to repair things with.

"Ms?" asked the doctor, confused at the arrival of this second woman.

"She'd Dr. O's girlfriend," explained Conner, feeling again sorry for the rough road Kim and Dr. O had been walking since Trent had fossilized him.

"I'm sorry. I'm afraid that Dr. Oliver's condition is very serious. The longer he stays in this state, the less likely he'll be able to come out of it."

Kim swallowed hard and found herself unconsciously clutching at Hayley's sleeve. This couldn't be happening. Tommy always survived, always. He had been through more than any other ranger ever had. Had been the leader to so many teams, worn so many different uniforms that this couldn't be the way it ended. She couldn't lose him now...

The doctor continued to watch the petite brunette held by the taller red-headed woman and felt as if he was intruding. With a nod, he exited and left the group alone. With the room clear of all non-ranger personnel, Hayley guided Kim to the side of the bed as Kira located a chair and slid it into place, allowing Hayley to sit Kim down. It was once she felt the solid plastic beneath her that Kim slowly drew her eyes from Tommy's placid face to look again at the dino rangers and Hayley.

"What happened?" she asked in a small voice, her hand moving towards Tommy's, uncaring of the consequences of her affections being viewed by Hayley or anyone.

"We used the black dino gem to try and remove Tommy's invisibility. It backfired..."

After hearing the details from Hayley and the team, she was glad she hadn't been there. The convulsions that they'd described wracking his body, though invisible would have made her panic, and perhaps worsened the situation. If that was even remotely possible.

Now he lay in a coma, and there was no telling when he would come out of it.

Behind them, the television that the teens had put on for some normalcy interrupted the program with a news bulletin. A monster was attacking the downtown and that the power rangers had deserted Reefside. Kim and Hayley looked to the four rangers, and they knew that they were responsible for keeping Reefside safe, even without powers.

"We've got to go," Conner said, turning for the door.

"But, you don't have powers," Hayley remarked, concerned.

"No, but we're all that's standing between Reefside and that monster. It's what Dr. O would do."

"Alright, but be careful. I'll stay with Kim and Tommy," Hayley said before the four headed off to do battle.

Once the teens were gone, Hayley got another chair and sat by Kim, taking the other woman's hand. She wasn't sure if Kim even realized she was there, as the former pink ranger stared at Tommy's closed eyes.

When Kim finally spoke, it was a shock.

"You know, I still don't understand how you could accept me so easily," Kim said softly, he voice unable to raise with anger or fear as the pain of possibly losing Tommy filled her.

"I don't understand what you mean Kim."

"Me, Tommy, us... I know that you were his friend for a long time, and Jason said you and Tommy had a relationship for a while in college. When I walked back into Tommy's life, you must have hated me."

Hayley sat there stunned. She had never realized that Kim knew about the year that she and Tommy had been an item. He'd just come off his relationship with Katherine and they'd clicked as friends, and then something more during the latter part of their junior year in college. But it didn't last, and Hayley had realized why.

"We weren't really meant to be like that Kim," offered Hayley as partial explanation. "We cared for each other, maybe even loved, but we never really were in love. He never could give his whole heart because it wasn't possible for him to love anyone as fully as he loved you. That's why Kat didn't work, and why he and I didn't last. It's why I was alright with him being with you, because that's what you do to him... make him happy."

"I never planed to come back to him," Kim admitted, her face a picture of pain. "I'd decided that we both needed to live our own lives and that what we had was in the past."

"So why then..."

"It was an accident really. I was visiting Jason when he got the call from Tommy to help destroy the remnants of the Machine Empire. Jason tried to leave without telling me what had happened, but I wouldn't let him. So he finally admitted that Tommy wanted him to help out, be a ranger again."

Hayley sat there in surprise. Tommy had never mentioned seeing Kim during that time...

"So I stayed put, waited for Jason to get back. When he did, he told me how things had gone, and the fact that he expected Tommy any minute."

"Whoa, wait a second. Tommy didn't say he saw you during that time, and he didn't mention seeing Jason afterwards."

"I don't know why he didn't mention it. All I know is that Jason said he'd made a comment that he knew Tommy had overheard about me, and well, he was banking on him wanting to yell at him about it some more. I tried to leave, but Jason told me to stay put. I guess he was tired of how Tommy and I had avoided one another for six years at that point. So when the doorbell rang, I knew I had to finally face everything I'd done."

"But that was nearly two years ago Kim. That doesn't explain how you and he got back together again, and the fact that you moved in days after he got the house here in Reefside," Hayley asked, unclear of where Kim was going with this.

"You see, we talked that night, and I had to lay out my sins on the table, told him everything... how I betrayed him with another man, and felt so bad about it that I broke up with him in the worst way possible. How I'd spent years in imperfect relationships, trying to find someone that made me feel like he used to. And we realized there that we had a second chance. We could try again, if we had the courage. So we decided to be friends. And if we could survive that, we would try a relationship again. We'd been secretly dating for a year before Tommy came to Reefside, and only then did he ask me to be with him all the time, to move in and really be the couple we'd wanted to be for years."

"I didn't... I had no idea. He never said."

"I know," replied Kim with a watery smile. "We wanted to keep it to ourselves. We thought too many of our family and friends wouldn't believe in us again. That our past break up would color their opinions of our reconciliation."

"But you came to Reefside anyway."

"Yeah. I didn't know you were here, or I would have found a way to talk to you before..." she remarked, remembering Hayley's shock the first time she came to Tommy's house and Found Kim there, dressed in his boxers and one of his t-shirts. "All we wanted was a second chance. And now..."

"He's not going to die Kim," Hayley assured her, squeezing Kim's hand tightly. "You know he's been through worse, right?"

Kim nodded her head slightly. How many times had she feared she would lose him; ten, twenty, more? Every time he used his green ranger powers after being re-infused with them. During his white ranger years... she wasn't there for the red ranger incarnation, even if she had heard every scary tale from Adam and Rocky. No, he'd always pulled through. But he'd never been in a situation like this.

"Could you give us a little while?"

"Sure."

With that, Hayley got up and headed out the door, leaving Kim alone with Tommy. Her eyes watched as his danced beneath his eyelids. He was there, under whatever held him prisoner – his own mind, the shattered power of the black dino gem, his body's collapse. Yet as long as he was alive, she had hope.

"Come on handsome," she urged pushing up to lean over his still form. "It's not supposed to work like this. You're the one who always delivers the kiss."

With delicate precision, she brushed her lips against his, hoping against hope that perhaps that fairy tale existence they used to lead could still work its magic.

-x-

Tommy found himself in the bare waste of the desert. He was himself again, no longer invisible, but obviously lost.

"Great, now what?"

Tommy looked around and realized that the pace seemed familiar. It reminded him of Gasket's Arena on Rita's Planetoid. But how...

He heard a sound and turned to see a gate or doorway on the top of a sand dune. And in that arch stood someone that couldn't be there...

Red Zeo 5.

Him.

-x-

It had been a tough series of fights... first he'd found a way to battle his Zeo 5 self to a draw, letting him pass to another stage. One that reminded him of the forest in Angel Grove that he seemed to always end up in during his white ranger days.

It had been just after he'd made that realization when the white ranger appeared, looking for a fight. He'd been happy to oblige him. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that there was a reason for all this, as if he was fighting himself, his subconscious, the parts of himself that made him who he was, the ranger he was today.

And when he again held his armored former self to a draw, he'd been transported again to somewhere he recognized; this time the ruins he first fought the Power Rangers at.

As the green ranger.

It was as they fought that Tommy realized that beating his green ranger self would never be easy. The guilt and sorrow that fueled him after being turned from the evil spell that had held him had formed what made him a ranger. Had tapped into the part of him that made him a man.

But he refused to surrender, and that was all his former ranger selves seemed to require.

They stood there, staring at him before they vanished, and another ranger came and took their place. One he was intimately familiar with.

"Kim..."

-x-

In the hospital room, Kimberly found the weight of fearing for Tommy's life too much to stay standing. She nearly fell back into the chair at his side and closed her eyes. She was so afraid...

-x-

"Hey there handsome," spoke the pink clad ranger, her pterodactyl shaped helmet tipping to the side as she spoke.

"Kim... what are you doing here? Where are we? How are you in your old costume?" he asked rapid fire as he moved toward her.

"I'm with you, where you are for the moment. And as to where we are," she said, and then waved her hand to the side, and the scene changed, and they stood on the rock beside Angel Grove lake, "I would think you still recognize this place."

Tommy felt his heart catch in his throat.

"We're in your mind my love. Your connection to the black dino gem had fractured you, along with it. What you have seen, what you have fought are the parts of you, the ranger pieces and roles that have made you what you are today. And while you are now and have always been a ranger, you have been more," Kim said, her smile hidden by her helmet, but heard by Tommy in her voice.

The scene changed again, and now they stood in the place that held him to his promises, that had placed him on this path...

The original command center.

And around them now were the others.

There were the red, yellow, black and blue original dino rangers. Next to them were the yellow, red and black ninja rangers. Then the yellow and pink zeo rangers, and lastly the blue turbo ranger. Every ranger he had served with, served for or led stood around him and Kim.

Suddenly they all unmorphed, their uniforms sluicing away like water and he stood looking at the faces of the rangers who had stood before him. Jason, Zack, Billy, Trini, Rocky, Aisha, Kat, Adam, Tanya, Justin... and Kim... who smiled at him with the glowing grin that had melted his heart the first day he'd seen her.

"You are here to validate what we, and you have always known. That no matter the uniform, not matter the powers and no matter the team around you, you have always been a ranger. Your power is not simply though a coin, a spirit animal, a crystal shard, a key or a gem. It is within you," Kim said, and the others around her nodded in the misty atmosphere of the command center.

"But you said that my mind fractured when the dino gem did. How do I get back? Can I?" Tommy questioned, his mind fighting to process everything he'd seen or been told.

"By accepting once and for all what and who you are," said Kim.

With that, she stepped forward and opened her hand. There, three pieces of his gem sat, cold and black. He glanced up at her and saw the slight frown on her face and paused, even as his hand moved towards the shards.

"Kim, what is it?"

"You need to accept everything Tommy. By taking this, you accept that this is your life. It will always be a part of you, and you will have to understand what it may cost you."

He stared and then understood. Being a ranger had been the thing that had brought them together, but pushed them apart as well. What he heard now was not her fear, but his own that by accepting the power, embracing his ranger self fully that he would lose her in the process.

But he'd learned his lesson, had lived his life without her. And he knew that as long as Kim wanted to be at his side that he'd want her there. It was her decision, and he knew that his dedication, his compassion, his fire to protect was what Kim loved, not something she hated.

"My own foolishness cost me you once Kim," he said to the Kim image, "and I've grown up since then. I know that my being a ranger is what I am. And that you love me for who I am, as well as what I am. And that's what I'm counting on."

Kim smiled at him again, and he reached forward to take the pieces of the stone from her. She placed it carefully in his palm, and closed his hand. Under his fingers, he could feel the power. And he closed his eyes as he willed himself and his dino gem together again. He opened his eyes slowly and opened his fist, finding a glowing, complete gem before him.

He glanced up, pleased and surprised to find the landscape changed again, now pitch white, with nothing there, and no one there.

"Kim!" he yelled frantically, and spun in a circle, hoping for his guide, for his life to return to him so he could return to her.

-x-

"Kim!" yelled Tommy, nearly bolting up from the bed and jolting the woman at his side out of her exhausted thoughts and up out of her chair to stand next to him.

"Oh God Tommy," she breathed, her hand touching his face and her eyes locking with his.

He smiled at her, and then turned to his right hand, opening his fist to find the black dino gem, once more whole.

Like his life.

The news came on again behind her, and Kim turned to see the new announcement that the monster was still on the rampage, and the rangers had not appeared. She knew that the team was fighting it the only way they could at the moment, without their powers. They were trying to live up to the ranger legacy that Tommy had shown them.

"Kim..."

She looked and saw the expression on his face, one that she knew well. He was going. And she wasn't about to stop him. No matter what, he came back to her.

And being a ranger was what he was. Just like he loved her... they were part of the same man that she loved.

"Be careful," she said, and he pulled the IV from his arm.

He nodded and swung his feet over the edge of the bed. Standing, he took her hand and pulled her to him for a kiss, one that promised her that she was as valuable to him as breathing. Then he stepped back and found his clothes, dressing quickly.

"Remind me to tell you about my dream," he said at last, standing at the doorway. "And to thank you when I get back for being here, loving me... all of me."

She smiled and nodded, watching him run off to help the team. To be what he always was meant to be.

A ranger.

-End-