Spoilers: AAR; PRDT AU: The Passion of Conner
Disclaimer: Power Rangers belongs to Disney, which considering their non-violence stance seems hypocritical, but who am I to judge?
Relationship: C/K, T/K
Summary: The courtship of Kira Ford.
Author's Note: Just to be clear, I had most of this written before PRDT Test of Trust aired, so if anything here seems like a borrow, I assure you... it wasn't.
Hi all, did you miss me? Well... D&H starts eight months after AAR finished, and I know that leaves a lot of unfilled months, so I figured that I'd catch everyone up the important things that need more clarification before D&H starts this way – Interlude style. First up, Kira and Conner. And now, let's get to the story. . .
More Than Friends - a Duty & Honor Interlude
"You're kidding me, right?" remarked Kira as Conner stood there with a look of fear plastered to his normally cocky, assured face.
She turned and stared at Ethan who was behind his laptop at the circular table they were sharing at the Cyberspace, hoping that maybe he could explain their friend's sudden interest in her. Because if she's heard right and of course if he was serious, Conner McKnight had just asked her out on a date.
"He's serious Kira," replied Ethan, giving her a smile as he waggled his eyebrows as he glanced from the shocked singer to the man asking her out.
"You're really doubting that I want to go out with you?" asked Conner somewhat shocked and insulted.
"You... you're a jock. You didn't even like me when we met. We're too different."
"Please, that so not true. We have more in common than you want to admit... and a whole lot more than when we met."
"Still, when exactly am I supposed to believe that you decided to be on my side, to like me?"
"Hey, wasn't it me who was the only one who told you the truth about that music video when you asked? I've never missed one of your shows if I could help it, and you know I make sure I have a good seat too. And I've never questioned your skills in uniform... I've always treated you as an equal. And I asked you to dance at Kim and Dr. O's wedding... I didn't ask anyone else. And there was when you passed out after the power transfer on Mesogog's island..." Conner said, trailing off before he said way too much too soon about how much he felt for her as he listed the times that had shaped his interest.
That brought Kira up short. She really hadn't thought... He had been to almost every show, his face usually wearing a grin as she performed. And he had told her the truth, which she was glad of. As to the others...
"I'll do what I have to do to convince you I'm serious," Conner blurted out, forging forth with the leader skills he'd developed over the months.
"Like what?" Kira asked, skeptical.
"I don't know... send you poetry, bring you flowers, carry your books to class... whatever I have to."
How could... Kira shook her head and simply stared at the soccer star and red ranger. In his eyes, on his face she saw the serious focus that he reserved for his sport and beating bad guys. Could he really be interested in her? She wasn't quite convinced, but all of his attention in her just seemed to be coming from out of the blue.
"A while," he answered vaguely, not wanting to meet her eyes.
"Why now though Conner? Why didn't you say something earlier?"
"You... I thought Trent..."
Kira nearly gasped and flushed slightly. There had been a while when she had been intrigued, even interested in Trent as maybe more than a friend. But things had never developed between them. But if Conner had started to have become interested in her then... God, it must have been horrible for him to watch her 'swoon' whenever Trent was around and focusing his attention on her.
"For what?" asked Ethan, reminding the two that they weren't alone.
"Maybe we should take the conversation elsewhere," Conner remarked, looking at his friend with a glare.
"Hey! I'm the Jason in this romance story. I need to get all the good dish so I can give the best man speech too," he complained bitterly.
Conner and Kira both gaped at the blue ranger's comment.
"What? You got the bouquet," Ethan reminded her, making her stare darkly at him while Conner flushed.
"By the way, when are Dr. O and Kim getting back?" Conner questioned, trying to redirect Ethan's thoughts elsewhere.
"According to the sub in today's class, he's supposed to be back to school on Friday. So, that would be day after tomorrow."
There was another round of silence as everyone involved tried to figure out where to go next: Ethan waited and watched, wondering how Conner could convince Kira, Kira sat questioning Conner's true motives and Conner debated if Kira was worth all the groveling, which in his heart he knew she was. Conner knew in his soul that there really was nothing else left to say except the truth. And at this point, he really didn't care if Ethan heard him bare his soul to Kira. They'd all been through a lot together, the least they could do was make fools of themselves, which was how he was starting to feel with Kira's reaction.
He was the red ranger, a leader and a warrior, and he wasn't going to walk away from Kira without an answer.
"Look, Kira, I know you have this impression of me as some faithless lothario or player, chasing after every pretty and air headed girl and all that. But none of it is true."
"What about all those other girls you kept saying were your 'other things to do'? I'm not going to be one of your harem."
Kira wasn't about to admit it, but she'd been slightly jealous of the fact that there was a large contingency of females at Reefside High that had either dated or wanted to date Conner, including a young environmentalist whom the team had been supportive of during her fight to save a one hundred year old tree, which had ended up getting bulldozed for a parking lot anyway. Conner had volunteered to protest along with everyone else, a move that Kira had been confused by, unless he had been just trying to impress Krista.
"Kira, I'm not dating or looking to date anyone but you. I mean, when was the last time any of us had the chance to really have a break?"
"What about Krista? You seemed to be more socially aware when it was a pretty girl who wanted help for her tree?
"What? Come on Kira, I never was interested in her like that."
"Oh really? That's not how it looked to the entire school," she retorted with disbelief, her confused mind overloading.
She didn't want to continue with this. Quickly she got up and hurried out of the café, leaving Conner simply standing there while Ethan watched the doors swinging shut where Kira had blown through them.
With a feeling of defeat, Conner pulled out the chair in front of him and sat heavily. What the hell was he supposed to do now? She obviously didn't want to discuss the matter any longer, yet he felt in his gut that she had wanted to say yes when he'd asked her. Just like she'd said yes to his invitation to dance at Kim and Dr. O's wedding several days ago. Now though, he didn't know what he should do.
"Go after her," Ethan urged, shoving at the red ranger's shoulder.
"You and I know her better than anyone, and in my opinion, she's scared Conner. Just talk to her, let her know how you feel."
Looking at his friend, Conner pondered the idea of the fearless Kira Ford being afraid of him, and while he normally would have scoffed at the idea, the fact that he was deathly afraid of her not being interested in him made him reevaluate that opinion. Finally he nodded, gathering his resolve and focusing on what really mattered to him; getting Kira to say yes.
"Alright, I'm going."
Standing so fast he nearly tossed the chair over, Conner headed for the door, leaving Ethan behind to wonder if Conner could finally convince Kira of his true intentions.
Finding Kira Ford wasn't the easiest of tasks. But since becoming rangers, they had all gotten to be friends... and that meant they knew something about the others habits and likes. Using the last eight months as a guide, Conner first went by her house to see if she was there, then the lake, the park, the library, the jazz club all the musicians in town liked to hang out in and then turned towards his last destination: the school.
As he pulled his Mustang into the empty lot, he saw the lone figure sitting on a picnic table in the grassy area near the English building. Even if the shape of the figure or the flowing blond hair wasn't enough to assure him he'd found her, the guitar across her lap was a dead giveaway.
Shutting off the engine, he got out of the car and slowly walked over to where Kira sat. She was playing a nameless tune on the instrument, and stopped as he got within three feet of her, making him pause in his tracks as well.
"You know, this is the bench that Principal Randall... Elsa caught me performing on at the beginning of last semester; which is how I ended up getting detention and meeting Dr. O, Ethan... and you. I became a ranger because of that," Kira remarked distractedly.
"If it makes a difference, I think at this point, with Mesogog gone, we're sort of retired now," commented Conner quietly, tentatively moving to sit beside her.
"Still, we have our powers. And I... well, I somehow wound up with more than that... I have these... feelings that I don't know if I should trust."
"What do you mean? What kind of feelings?"
Kira turned slowly, regarding the young man who for all his arrogance and faults had always been on her side. Had defended her and trusted her and come to her aid...
The silence expanded as the two sat and stared.
"I care about you Conner," she finally breathed, "but I don't know if it can be more than that."
"Why not?" he asked, his heart thudding wildly in his chest at the thought she could admit that she felt something for him, yet afraid of why she'd amended it.
"Because I don't know if I can be as strong as Kim is."
That brought Conner up short, and he leaned slightly back on the bench as he tried to ponder what Kim Hart-Oliver had to do with Kira and him.
"What does that mean?"
"She... she's the only female ranger that ever made it work; dating another ranger, and the leader of the team for years. I don't know if I have it in me to be your girlfriend when we're not in uniform and your team mate when we're morphed."
Conner smirked, and then quickly smothered it. The fact that Kira was even thinking things like this made him feel like he had a shot, and that she was feeling the same thing he was. Except she was looking for a reason why she shouldn't date Conner, while he was looking for every reason why Kira should date him.
"I understand you concern. Dr. O sort of made it clear that rangers don't have the best track record with dating. But I'd like to try being with you... date and see how it goes. Besides, like I said, I'm pretty sure that we're not gonna be in uniform any longer, what with all the bad guys defeated and all."
"Still, if it doesn't work out, what then? I don't want to lose our friendship."
"And I want to see if we can be more than just friends Kira. God, I... I never understood what it was like to care about someone more than myself. I mean, when you first met me, I was a self absorbed jerk."
Kira snickered and then plastered a neutral look on her face. She looked up at the man who had somehow slipped past all her defenses and taken up a space in her heart that she hadn't even realized until Kim had been kidnapped. There was a spark in his eyes as he looked at her that made her heart thud in her chest, and she swallowed hard.
"But since I became the red ranger, since knowing Dr. O, Ethan... you, I've changed. And I like the person I am now. But I think I can be a better man if I'm with you."
That took the humor right out of her. Kira stared at him, gauging his depth of sincerity, and as she continued to look into his eyes, she could tell he meant every word.
And it scared her.
"Okay, I get that, but I..."
"Still don't know what you want," he remarked knowingly.
"Look, you know what I want... to try this out. All I'm asking for is a date. Coffee, a movie, lunch, dinner, something to see how we are alone and not having to save the world."
"I don't know Conner," she replied nervously, pulling the guitar to her like a barrier between her and him.
She blinked. He was giving up already? Then she saw him smile that cocky smile of his and she tilted her head in curiosity.
"I'll just ask you tomorrow," he remarked coolly, that smile still plastered on his face.
"And if I still don't know?"
"I'll ask you again the day after that."
"So, what you're saying is that that you're gonna keep asking me..."
"Every day until you either tell me to keep the hell away from you, or you say yes," he said seriously, but with a hint of the humor she liked so much as he suddenly reached over and took her hand in his. "However I plan to make it real hard for you to say no."
"You really were serious about the poems and the flowers, weren't you?" she asked abruptly.
"I was. I'm going to do everything I can to get you to say yes."
"But that's not gonna be today."
"Okay," Conner replied with a slight frown. "But for now, I'm still your friend, and you probably need a ride home, 'cause I know you haven't studied for Ms. Robinson's Geometry test Friday."
Kira smiled at that and nodded, lifting the guitar and easing up off the bench and heading towards the Mustang as Conner slowly got up and followed. He watched her walking, her hand on the passenger side door handle, and he smiled inwardly. He may not have convinced her to go out with him now, but tomorrow was another day.
Kira let out a sigh in relief when Thursday evening arrived, and she knew that Kim and Dr. O were finally back. She'd been wrestling with what she should do about Conner, and without the pink ranger to talk to, she'd been going crazy.
It was with a great sense of trepidation that she showed up unannounced at their front door at nearly nine in the evening. She knew that being newlyweds and all that they probably would rather their privacy, but she really needed to talk, and Kim was the only person she knew that could understand. As it was, she was the real reason that she was questioning her original decision of just dismissing Conner outright. Because Kim had made it work.
And perhaps she could figure out how she did it, and find out if she had it in her as well to be with her team mate in a way other than just a friend.
Knocking at the door, she nervously rocked from one foot to the other, wondering if she should just come back later as the time seemed to pass with no answer. Just as she was about to turn and head back down the path, the door flew open, and Dr. O stood there, black t-shirt and jeans looking hastily thrown on and she flushed.
"Kira, hey..." he mumbled in a self-conscious manner that he'd begun using since Kim had moved in.
"Hi Dr. O... I know that you and Kim just got back from your honeymoon, but... well, I really need to talk to Kim. Is she here?"
Smiling, he waved her in, and she walked into the house, noting the suitcases still packed and sitting against the wall. From the bedroom, Kim finally emerged, similarly dressed in a rumpled pink t-shirt and jeans as she noted the yellow ranger's arrival. As Kim looked closer, she saw the perplexed look on her face, and the general unease she held herself with, and fought a chuckle at her young friend's expense.
"So, he finally said something," Kim said with a smile, moving to greet and then guiding Kira to sit in the kitchen, taking the seats they'd had months earlier when they'd talked about Trent and Tommy.
"Yeah... I know you and Aisha were insinuating that Conner was interested... but I really hadn't realized he was serious."
"If you had asked me, I could have told you he was. He really cares for you Kira, I can see it in how he looks at you."
"How's that?" Kira asked, confused.
"Like Tommy looks at me."
That brought Kira up short, and she couldn't help the shocked look on her face as the last eight months, since she'd first met Conner played out in her head. Every look that she'd passed off before now had more meaning, more depth. She simply shook her head in sudden understanding.
"What? You're not sure that you feel like that about him?" Kim questioned, fighting her own smile as the younger woman considered her answer.
Sighing, Kira folded her arms across the top of the table and dropped her head onto them. It wasn't that she wasn't sure...
"Or is it a situation that you do feel that way about him, and don't know how to admit it?"
Her head popped up immediately, and met the sage expression on Kim's face. She knew...
"Please... I've been watching you too, you know. The way you two interact... it's how Tommy and I were in our first year as team mates before he finally asked me out."
"But I don't know if I can be like you Kim," Kira almost cried out, her face falling. "I mean, I don't know how you could split being Dr. O's girlfriend and his team mate. Weren't you always worried about him, or scared that he would get hurt? I mean, it's hard enough to be his friend and worry..."
"Yes, it's hard, but if you really care about someone, being with them is more important than the fear. Besides, I have always looked at it as I've been there to back him up. For more years than not I was at his side, and I would have defended him to my last breath, and him me."
"Okay, I can get that," Kira replied, recognizing now Kim's behavior on the field in regards to Dr. O and vice versa. "But I still don't know if I should do this."
"Give him a chance Kira. You can't be afraid of falling in love with someone who challenges you."
"Is that what Dr. O does for you? Challenge you?"
"Always. But it's more than that," Kim remarked seriously. "He makes me feel special, makes me feel as if there's nothing besides the two of us when we're together. Well, other than usually impending doom by a rampaging bad guy bent on destroying the Earth."
The two shared a smile, and Kira chuckled at the thought.
"Well Conner has been challenging me all right," replied Kira with a smirk.
"What's he been up to?"
"He's been asking me every day for the last three days to go out with him. Same question, different day. And I don't know if even telling him to leave me alone is going to make him stop."
"Do you really want him to stop?"
"I... I, no, I don't. At first I didn't think he was serious. But now, I know he is."
"And now that you know that, why don't you just say yes and see what it's like?"
"Because I know I'd like it?" she replied meekly.
Kim smiled brightly as Kira finally admitted her real feelings on the matter. She knew that it was a big breakthrough, but she wondered if Conner knew what he was getting himself into by falling in love with Kira...
"Kira, he's just as nervous as you are. Probably more so, but he took the first step to ask you. Of all the young women I have ever had the pleasure to know, you're the one I never thought would back down from something you wanted."
At that, Kira's face fell slightly. She hadn't really thought of it in those terms. She had been pushing Conner away, but she thought it was for purely practical reasons; that she didn't trust his sincerity, that he was a player, that they couldn't realistically have a relationship and be rangers. But it really boiled down to the fact that she was scared of being with him. Being lost in him...
"I... I do want to try dating, see if we connect like that..."
"And I need to tell Conner that."
Nodding knowingly, Kim got up and moved to her friend's side. Kira got up and threw her arms around the older pink ranger, hugging her gratefully for being there and helping her sort through it all. When they broke apart from the hug, Kira found Kim looking at her with a thrilled expression. Kira couldn't help but smile nervously back.
"Thanks Kim," Kira said simply as the two walked towards the door.
"Don't mention it. Do you need a ride home? It's late..."
"No, I'm good. I borrowed my mom's car."
"Okay then, drive safe. And tell Conner hi from Tommy and me, and remind him that we have a team meeting tomorrow... no matter what you decide to do."
With another hug, Kira turned and headed for the car and home, secure now in her decision.
Kira walked into the Cyberspace after classes had ended at the high school. She'd tried unsuccessfully to catch him in class, during lunch and between classes to talk, but had kept missing him. Now, she knew that she had him where she wanted him... and where he wanted her.
"Conner, can we talk?" Kira asked, walking up to where he was sitting at the counter
"Sure..." he replied, turning to find Kira standing there, her face a picture of complexity, and his heart fell in his chest.
"I wanted to talk some more about this..." she said with a look of uncertainty that cut through Conner like a knife.
"Look Kira, if you need more time, I understand," he remarked, running a hand along the back of his neck. He didn't like how this was looking...
"Look Conner, I...no, I..."
As soon as the word no slipped past her lips, his face fell and he pushed himself up and away from the bar, wandering slowly towards the door. He couldn't believe she'd actually turned him down. He was sure there was something there between them, a spark... how could she deny it?
"Conner, wait, that's not what I meant," she said, running after him, catching him by the arm and nearly yanking him to a halt. "I meant yes!"
He turned to face her so quickly, she wasn't sure if he'd used his powers or not.
She smiled and then nodded, her heart thrilling at the grin creeping across his face as her answer seeped into his mind.
"Dinner?" he asked with that cocky grin of his.
"Coffee," she countered, almost taking a step back, but letting him grab her hands and pull her closer.
Conner continued to hold Kira's hands in his, and not only did she not pull away, but she gripped his hands tighter. The thought that she was there, saying yes, accepting the chance to be more than friends... it made his heart soar.
"So, when do I get to take you out?" he asked happily.
"Next Saturday," she remarked flatly, fighting to not smile back at him now, but failing miserably.
Kira sighed and smiled wider... this, being with Conner was never going to be easy, she realized, but she knew now that she really didn't want it to be.
"How about we talk it over with a couple of smoothies?" Kira asked, and Conner pulled her closer, reaching around to catch her waist as he led her to a table.
"That sounds like a plan to me," Conner replied, as he pulled out a chair for her and proceeded to commence their first pre-date date.