The shrill ring of the phone woke Kimberly Hart from a light slumber. Groaning slightly, the former pink ranger slithered out from the cocoon of warmth her blankets provided to answer. Stifling a yawn, Kimberly murmured, "Speak to me."
"Is that actually how you answer the phone now?" A familiar voice teased warmly. Kimberly's soft brown eyes widened in recognition.
"Jason? Wow, I haven't heard from you in awhile! How are you?" Sleep was immediately forgotten for the chance to speak to an old friend.
"I'm doing great, better than great, actually. How about you? Still tearing around the gym?"
A soft laugh preceded Kimberly's answer. "Are you kidding? I am way too old for that these days. No, I'm teaching gymnastics, saving up to open my own business."
"Awesome," Jason responded, pleased that one of his closest friends had succeeded in life. "Look, this wasn't just a social call; I actually have to tell you some really great news."
"What's up, Jas, some new baddie who wants to conquer the world?" Kimberly teased lightly. Despite the fact that Jason was no longer a ranger, and had not been one for a while, he was still involved in the game of defeating evil. Out of the original group, Jason made sure to keep in touch with everyone, even the newer rangers. Kimberly did not know where he found the time.
"No, but I do need your help." He was silent for a moment. "I'm getting married, Kim."
Shock dimmed Kimberly's reaction, but she was soon screaming into the phone with joy. Jason held the phone away from his ear, but could not help the smile that graced his handsome features.
"Who is she? Do I know her? What's her name? What's she like?" The questions flowed almost faster then Kimberly's ability to talk.
"Slow down, killer! No, you don't know her. I met her in college. Her name is Meagan and she is one in a million. Can I expect you at the wedding?"
Snorting Kimberly replied, "Well, duh! Like I wouldn't come see my best friend get married!"
Sighing, Jason added, "Tommy's going to be there."
There was silence on the other end and Jason wondered if Kimberly had either fainted or hung up. "Kim," he queried, "You there?"
He heard her clear her throat and then say, "Yeah, I'm here. Um, I don't see a problem with Tommy being there. I'm an adult Jas, I can handle it."
"I know, Kim, but I also know you didn't part on the best of terms."
Hah, that was the understatement of the year. The last time Kimberly had been in Angel Grove, she had been kidnapped and turned evil. Her reunion with Tommy had not been pleasant. It had only worsened when Kim saw how close Kat and Tommy were. It seemed the new pink ranger had replaced the old in every aspect of Kim's former life. The green monster had bit Kim hard and she had steadfastly ignored Tommy the entire trip. Somewhere, in the back of Kim's mind, she knew that she was being childish. She had, after all, sent Tommy The Letter. According to Adam, it had nearly broken Tommy in half, but the new pink ranger had been there to make everything better. That, of course, was the exact reason Kimberly had broken things off. In doing so, Kim had assured that her heart would not be broken. Thinking back, Kimberly realized how selfish her actions had been, but hindsight was 20/20.
"Jas, I would never allow anything or anyone to keep me from your wedding. Just give me the date and time and I'll be there."
"Great," Jason said, excited that the whole gang would be there. "Your invitation is already in the mail so expect it soon. You sounded like you were asleep so I'll let you go."
Kimberly yawned and then said, "Thanks. I'll call you when the invitation comes. Bye."
"Bye," Jason responded and with a click, disconnected the call. Kimberly lay back into her pillows, sleep an impossibility as her mind drifted to her past, one that she had locked away until tonight.
Sure I think about you now and then
but it's been a long, long time
Tommy looked at the picture cradled in his hands, a bittersweet sigh interrupting the silence. It was a photo of the original six, all gathered in the park. The sun had been shining, making the day perfect for a picnic. She was next to him, like always, and nestled under his arm. A light blush had stained her cheeks; their relationship had still been so new and fresh. His heart constricted with the thought and Tommy set the picture back in the drawer and shut it.
Normally, Tommy was always good at keeping any of his thoughts and feelings about Kim hidden away in the back of his mind. He hadn't seen her in years, not since that fateful kidnapping and wretched week after. It was only the upcoming wedding that had him reminiscing. These memories always left him extremely depressed, so he had become very adept at changing his train of thought. For some reason, though, it was different tonight.
I've got a good life now, I've moved on
So when you cross my mind
Maybe it was because Jason had given Tommy Kim's phone number. That could be why. He had never had the ability to contact her before. Now that he did, thousands of possibilities flashed through his mind, each more exotic, and ridiculous then the last. For some reason, Tommy still thought of himself as her knight, her rescuer. It was why Kat had left him; it was why he was alone now. No one could match Kimberly, no one could be better. Time had softened her faults until she was perfection. A perfection that could never be his.
I try not to think about what might have been
'cause that was then and we have taken diff'rent roads
Sometimes, when he was depressed, Tommy liked to imagine how his life would have turned out had Kim never left, if he had convinced her to stay instead of leave. They would be married; Tommy had already been thinking about that when they had been together. There would probably be several children, cute little girls with her smile and charm. He could come home from a long day at school to her beautiful face and warm laugh. And at night, his bed would never be cold with her by his side.
We can't go back again there's no use giving in
But they weren't together and they never would be. According to Jason, Kimberly had settled down in Florida, was teaching there. She loved her new life, without the complications of being a power ranger, while Tommy was once again struggling to save the Earth and guide a rag tag team into maturity. He loved every minute of it.
And there's no way to know
What might have been
The wedding had been beautiful and Kimberly had cried. Jason was the first of them to get married. She had not realized how tough it would be, to see his future wife walk down the aisle toward him. That should have been her, and the man at the altar should've been the one who was now posing as best man. Goodness, he looked handsome in that suit and his short hair only served to make him sexier. Kimberly wondered if he had brought a date or if he was seeing anyone. Pride had stopped her from asking Jason, who still believed they had a chance. What had occurred between them was long gone and forgotten.
Thomas Oliver, the love of my life, Kimberly thought. There will never be another like you. Dabbing at her eyes, Kimberly managed to avoid the line of congratulators and headed straight for the reception hall and strong liquor.
She looked beautiful. She always did. Tommy was slightly surprised to see her in a pale yellow sundress. He had never seen her in anything but pink. He supposed it might be painful to wear the color though. Perhaps it reminded her of everything she had given up.
He had not taken his attention off her throughout the entire ceremony, keeping her in the corner of his eye. He had watched her escape to the reception hall and quickly followed. They needed to at least talk and straighten things out between them. Perhaps they could salvage a friendship from the ashes of their failed relationship.
She was at the bar, sipping from a shot glass. He moved steadily toward her, never faltering in his step. She must have sensed him, because she turned and watched him approach with a slightly open mouth. Her hair was longer and curled softly at the ends. His fingers itched to run through the silky strands, but he managed to refrain.
We could sit and talk about this all night long
And wonder why we didn't last
The moment seemed so surreal. Kimberly was not sure how she managed to hold a conversation and not run screaming from the building. Her nerves should have been strung as tight as a bowstring, but the steady flow of alcohol had seemed to work its magic. Tommy had joined her at the bar, keeping a safe distance from her, but close enough so she could see the gold flecks in his eyes. Swallowing hard, Kimberly drained her glass and ordered another.
"I'll have what she's having," Tommy told the bartender, smiling softly at Kim who suddenly lost her breath. After all these years, he still had the power to astound her. Kimberly both hated and loved the control he had over her. She wondered if he felt the same way.
"So, how's life been treating you?" Tommy asked, sipping from his glass.
Kim wondered where she found the air to answer, but she did. "Good. How about you?"
"Good, I'm teaching science at a high school in Reefside. I bought a house a couple of months ago. Life's been treating me well."
Silence descended and Kimberly wondered whom she had pissed off upstairs to cause this to happen. She had hoped that Tommy and she could have ignored each other just like the last time. Then she could have returned to Florida with her heart still intact, if somewhat bruised. Now, talking to him, standing close enough to touch, Kim knew she was falling in love all over again. It was a disaster.
Tommy knew the moment he opened his mouth to ask the Question, he would be opening a can of worms. So, he wisely decided to move the conversation elsewhere.
"How about a walk? It's a little stuffy in here and I'm not really hungry for dinner."
Kimberly knew she should say no. In fact, she had every intention of doing so, but when she opened her mouth, she found herself saying yes. Tommy laid a tip on the counter and offered his arm. Warily, Kim accepted and Tommy escorted them out of the building and into the warm summer night.
For a few moments, Tommy allowed them to walk in silence. He was giving Kim a chance to collect her thoughts. A light breeze blew, clearing his thoughts. Somehow they found their way to the beach that sat below the reception hall. The crash of the waves against the shoreline was like a distant melody and Tommy wanted to wrap Kim in his arms and sway to nature's song. Unfortunately, actions like that were for couples, and they weren't even friends.
"Why?" He asked softly, and Kimberly turned to look at him, her doe eyes filling with unshed tears. They didn't fall, and Tommy realized she had had lots of practice holding her emotions inward.
"What a loaded question," Kimberly murmured, releasing her grip on his arm. She stepped a few feet away, trying to gather her thoughts, unsure how to answer his question. He deserved an answer, but what to say? The truth? Might as well, it was certainly long overdue.
"There was never another guy, Tommy."
At her answer, thousands of emotions rushed Tommy, but surprisingly, anger was not one of them. Maybe he was long past anger, or perhaps it was delayed by shock. "Why did you lie?"
Kimberly repeated the question to herself. Why had she lied? There had been a reason. It had been a good one. The years had dimmed the emotions her teenage heart had borne, but they slowly filtered back. She felt herself fly backward from the confident adult she was now, to the frightened, self-conscious girl she had been.
"I wanted to set you free," Kimberly finally answered simply. "Free from the hassle of a long distance relationship. Free to pursue other interests."
"What other interests?" Tommy asked, somewhat sharply. "You were my only interest."
Smiling sadly, Kimberly continued, but kept her gaze on the gray waves. If she looked at him now, she would break down. She knew she would. "Everyone wrote me letters. It was nice, at first, because I missed everyone so much. Kat wrote me the most, though. Her letters were filled with how easily she was settling into my old role, how everyone was making her feel welcome…especially you."
Tommy's eyes widened in surprise, but he did not comment.
"It wasn't long before I realized from Kat's letters that she loved you. I pieced together from everyone else's that you might return that feeling. Therefore, I wrote that letter to give you a chance at happiness. I suppose my decision was helped by the fact that I was hearing less and less from you."
Tommy winced, knowing that he had forgotten more and more often to write or call. It wasn't that Kimberly hadn't been in his thoughts, but he had been busy with finishing school and power ranger duties.
"Why didn't you call and talk to me? We could have worked through this. We could always talk about everything."
"I tried to call once. After I wrote the letter. I was regretting my actions and was going to explain myself, but you were on a skiing trip…with Kat."
Tommy winced again. He probably had to have the worst luck in the world. "I went with her and Billy. They wanted to cheer me up because of the Letter."
Kimberly smiled faintly. Taking a deep breath of the salt air, she exhaled.
Yes, they might be the best days we will ever know
But we'll have to leave them in the past.
"We had some good times, Tommy. Some really good times." Now, she could look at him. Her heart suddenly felt lighter to have shared her secret with the only man she would ever love.
"This doesn't have to be the end," Tommy choked, suddenly grasping her hands, pulling her close. He knew that if he did not capture her tonight, everything would be over, forever.
That same old look in your eyes
it's a beautiful night
Her eyes were shining with unspoken love and Tommy caressed her face with one, large hand. There was a hidden strength inside both of them; they could make this work. They had to. He loved her so much.
I'm so tempted to stay
But too much time has gone by
"I think I'll always love you, Tommy." Kimberly pressed a chaste kiss to his cheek and squeezed his hands. "Will you always love me?"
"Always," Tommy said hoarsely. His heart pounded in his chest. It should be breaking right now, shattering as he let her walk out of his life for a third time. First the Pan Globals, then the Letter, and now time. Could nothing go their way?
We should just say good-bye
and turn and walk away
"I don't want to hate you anymore, Tommy," Kimberly whispered. "Let's leave this as it is, peacefully, happily."
Tommy gazed into her pleading eyes and realized just why he had let her walk away…he could refuse her nothing. If she asked him to run into the ocean, and keep running, he would without any hesitation. "Alright, Kim. We can do that."
"Give my congratulations to Jason and his wife, will you?"
Tommy nodded somberly and Kimberly flashed him a brilliant smile. She turned then, and made her way back to the street and a cab. He watched her go, until her form was swallowed by the night. Turning back to the ocean, illuminated by the glow of a half moon, Tommy allowed himself to cry, the tears of possibilities and almosts flowing from his eyes. He let the tears cleanse his soul and bandage his heart. Of course, he would always love her; he had never stopped. He would never stop, not even in death.
No, we'll never know
what might have been
To be continued…