Title: "Meltdown"
A One-Shot PR Story
Written by: Shawn

Summary: With death staring them square in the eyes, Tommy and Kimberly finally come clean about their past, present, and what they had both hoped for in the future.

Rated: R, but check the end notes!

Category: Action/Romance/Drama

Ship: Tommy/Kim I imagine both around the age of 24 in this story.

Timeline/Spoilers: It's the present day. Zordon never died. Dino Thunder never took place. As the threats to the Earth increased the need became apparent for a larger team of Rangers. To that end, Zordon went about recruiting the original team again, and now there are two Power Ranger teams. One includes Tommy, Katherine, Adam, Aisha, Rocky and Tanya. The other is made up of Jason, Kimberly, Trini, Billy, and Zack. All else is explained within the story.

Disclaimer: I own no part of the PR universe. I'm just a humble man trying to make his way through the universe. Just like Jango Fett. Yes, I'm a Star wars geek eg

Authors Notes: It's always intrigued me what truths can come from life threatening situations. What would you say if you felt you were facing your certain death? What regrets, actions, deeds, or sins committed would you confess, denounce, or apologize for? And after all that, what if you didn't die...

There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer, no disease that enough love will not heal, no door that enough love will not bridge, no wall that enough love will not throw down, no sin that enough love will not redeem... It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, how great the mistake. A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all. If only you could love enough, you could be the happiest and most powerful being in the world...
Emmet Fox


Mount Whitney
Located on the east side of the Great Western Divide, a chain of mountains that runs north/south through the center of Sequoia National Park, "dividing" the watersheds of the Kaweah River to the west and the Kern River to the east.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005 8:30 PM
Sierra Nevada, California


Battered, bruised, and bloodied from an android ambush attack just moments ago, no doubt guarding something near by, the battle tested Rangers quickly took them down. Having not a second to waste, Tommy and Kimberly ventured inside the darkened cave located near the peak of the gigantic mountain. Tommy's hand-held radiation sensor beeped steadily until it went haywire as they broke out into a sprint, following it's signal into a clearing.

That's when they saw them.

What they've been searching for all over the world... all of the Rangers for the past six hours, ever since the threat was beamed by an unknown intergalactic madman to each and every news organization on Earth. That on this day, April 12, 2005, two Dezorian Energy Bombs would detonate and turn one fifth of the planet into a useless wasteland for the next 1000 years.

Zordon and Billy coordinated as best they could a desperate world-wide search and destroy mission with every Government from every nation. Anything suspicious looking anywhere across the globe had to be reported. They were searching for a needle in a haystack, seeing as how the person responsible gave them no hints as to the bombs location, nor even a reason why they was planted. Terrifying surely, but questions could wait for later. The Rangers mobilized every Zord at their disposal, seeking out the faintest hints of any intergalactic vapor trails from engines of a starship or ships that might have visited Earth recently.

Lucky enough, Tommy and Kimberly's patrol happened upon just such a trail by accident.

All of it's led here, to this very moment.

Tommy took a tentative step forward before Kimberly's stuck her arm out over his chest, stalling him. "We don't know if there are motion detectors in here. Those light fixtures on the ceiling could be anything. Hold on

a second." Cursing under her breath yet again due to their lack of radio contact with the Command Center, she reached inside the duffle bag over her shoulder and retrieved another device similar to the one Tommy used. The new Purple ranger scanned the entire cave with a wide beam of white light, ghosting over the ground, walls, ceiling and the bombs themselves. "Negative. We can move."

Following her, Kim made for the bomb on the right, while Tommy took the bomb on the left, dropping his bag to the ground as he knelt in the dirt at the base of the bomb. Knowing what he knew of alien time counters, he

sighed. "Thirty two minutes."

Kimberly's scanner just confirmed that these are in the fact the bombs they are looking for. "Whoever planted these said if we try to move them in any way, they'll explode immediately." Pushing backwards all horrific images of countless graves and decimated cities, Kim quickly laid out a tool kit, opening it to reveal a very small, powerful laser cutter and drill set. "Billy told us the Dezorian energy would cripple our communications when we got near it. We'd have to get at least fifty miles away from this mountain before we could regain communications with the others. Whoever set this up knows a little to much about our communications frequencies."

"No time for that. We either disarm the bombs here or one fifth of this planet doesn't go to bed tonight. And what's left won't like the world they wake up to tomorrow."

"You always knew how to get to the point."

29 minutes

Resembling a set of large truck engines, the bombs outer hull were made of a material as glossy as chrome, each with a glowing green orb in the center that appeared to be pulsating bigger by the minute. Tommy and Kim carefully scanned every area of the bomb before attempting to cut the outer hull away and get at the wires and components on the inside.

"Okay, I think we should start on the left, here," she pointed out. "Lets cut a twelve-inch square and see if we're anywhere near the timer connection. If we are and can hack into it, we might be able to give ourselves more time."

Nodding, Tommy agreed, working silently, as fast as he could. Igniting the small laser cuter, its red beam sparked the outer hull as it cut into it, tracing the square Kim suggested. "I guess this is one hell of a way to spend your six month anniversary back on the team."

She'd smile if she weren't terrified of this bomb blowing up in her face. "Gee Tommy, that's the longest sentence you've said to me in weeks."

Tension, as always, existed between them. "It's not like you're around much." He didn't peer up to see if her face betrayed anything. Back to his work, he swore under his breath when he noticed, "These are the timer connections, but there are Cyon mini-explosives all around them. If we cut any part..."

"Kaboom! It's game over, Great. Just great." Sitting back on her knees, Kim's clearly frustrated. "This is bad."

"We've been through worse."

"Oh yeah, when?"

He didn't reply to that one. "Okay, the best we can do is cut off the whole outer hull and see what we're dealing with on the inside."

"Agreed."

24 minutes

Equally scared and determined, as they worked on their respective tasks, each couldn't help but to steal looks at the other. In a sickening sort of way, they both felt it would be appropriate if they died together. Their precious love died, so they might as well do away with the bodies too, seeing as how they weren't much good to anyone else.

How had their lives taken such a vicious turn?

The buzzing sounds of the lasers cutting through the thick outer hull of the bombs as wind whistled through the airy cave provided the conversation they simply could not.

Time.

It's all they have... all they've wasted... and it's all ticking down to doomsday. To the deaths of well over a billion people, as well as their own. There's no time to say goodbye to their loved ones. No time to make right the wrongs of yesteryear. No time to plan for your future, or discover yourself as a person as you grew older. No time to see your perfect other in a church as you pledge yourselves forever. No time left to hear a child's laughter that's a perfect mix of two people in love.

Teammates for the last six months, Tommy and Kimberly have been friendly and cordial. Just this side of cool, but able to laugh and even tease from time to time. Nothing deeper than that, and neither have pushed. Their current relationship works for them. Now there's no time to push it, though both have seen subtle signs the other might be receptive. There's no time for much anything at all.

Time's running out.

18 minutes

Ripping it up off the bomb, Kimberly tossed the large chrome outer hull over her shoulder as it weighed nothing. She's finally used to her returned powerful Ranger strength. "Okay, behind those loops of gold wires we have four power converters to the main Dezorian energy cell. If we can deactivate all four the energy cell will power down on it's own and become useless."

"The question is, in what order do we do this? One wrong choice and we're dead."

"Life's a game of chance, Tommy. You know that more than anyone." Her brown eyes met his and if this is the day she's to die, being with him gave her some small amount of comfort. As well as courage, seeing as how they have four shots to avert the end of days. There's so much she hasn't experienced. So many lives left for her to live. So much love her hearts denied to give or receive. "How do you want to play this?"

Licking his suddenly dry lips, Tommy brushed some of his hair off the side of his face. Kimberly's death would surely kill him, so if they die together at least he has that to cling to. The key was keeping his cool. "Blue, green, red, and black," he spoke to himself, staring at the power converters. Mustering up all his fortitude, Tommy ignited the laser cutter and quickly slashed the green power converter first, holding his breath the whole time. The green converter popped electrical sparks a few times, then died out. Tommy exhaled deeply, his body shuddering. "Green first."

Kimberly did the same to her bomb, working hard to hold her hand steady. So far, so good. "That's one."

"You choose next."

His eyes held her captive for a moment, and wouldn't let go. She's feeling the gravity of this life defining moment settle in around her. This is it, Kim, she told herself. No going back to change anything. She only has the moment to live in, and that could change any second. What she revealed next would never have come out under any circumstance but this one, sadly enough. "Tommy, I love you," she confessed her feelings at last, on the verge of tears. "I've always loved you, and I've never stopped." Tommy didn't appear shocked as much as angry, which matched how she felt as well. "The letter was stupid and I'm sorry. There was no other guy. There was just a scared, lonely, overworked 17 year old girl with a ton of insecurities and harboring a little bit of jealousy and fear over Kat." Gritting her teeth, stilling her shaky hand, Kimberly slashed the black power converter. She stared, focused, eyes wide open, as it too sputtered, then faded out of color. "Two down... two to go."

Seconds ago Tommy lost the ability to blink. Her revelation brought his whole world to a screeching halt. "Why now, Kim?"

"Why not, Tommy," she declared as calm as anything she's ever said, meeting his piercing stare with one of her own. "I got nothing to lose."

He couldn't argue that point, nor deny it for himself. She's full of surprises. Always, since the day he met her, Since that first day he fell hopelessly in love. Years later, he still can't get her out from under his skin. Or maybe, just maybe, he just doesn't want to. "After I received the letter I hated you for well over a year, then I put our relationship and you behind me. At that point in time I wouldn't have spit on you if you were on fire. I disliked you that much. Only no matter who I dated, or how hard I tried, it never worked out. I found myself comparing every woman to you. I was unfair to all of them in one way or another. The problem was, I never fell out of love with you either. Try as I might, I just couldn't let you go. I've never loved anyone as much as I love, and I don't think I ever will." Having purged his soul of half a decades worth of hidden pain and loneliness, Tommy slashed sideways the red power converter. Just as the other three, and they were officially the luckiest people on Earth. Tommy exhaled, "Jesus."

Kimberly knocked out the red and blue power converters in succession, grinning wildly as all four powered down and faded out of color. She felt like cheering, but her heart was still in her throat. Her hand covered her mouth as a flood of emotion swelled within her. He still loved her...

Tommy finished slashing the blue converter on his bomb, then sat back on his heels, arms falling limp at his

side. The look on his face revealed exhaustion. "We did it. We actually did it." His triumphant smile died the second he gazed at the seriously grim expression on Kimberly's face. "Bad news?"

"The worst. Look at your timer."

Tommy did just that, and for the life of him felt like crying out. Millions of lives are on the line and time is still ticking away. A quick scan revealed the other bombs timer was still counting down as well. "Billy said Dezorian energy bombs could be deactivated by disabling the power converters if done in the right order."

"Yeah, but whoever planted the bombs rigged them a certain way. He knew the Rangers would be the ones searching for them and probably figured we'd get our hands on the schematics before to long. He had us pegged the whole time."

"We'll worry about who did this later. For now, we have to find a way to disarm these bombs or this part of America is going to go the way of the dinosaurs."

12 minutes

As the Rangers leader, the world expected him to pull victory out of the jaws of defeat on a regular basis. As a simple man at the end of the day, he's never needed saving himself as badly as he needed it now. Tommy shook himself loose of despair, made a decision, and accepted whatever the outcome would be. If he's going to die, at least he can die with a clear conscience. "Kim, I always thought by now we'd be married."

Hearing that just broke her heart. "Me too," she begrudging admitted, the most bitter laughter escaping her throat as her eyes remained focused on the timer before her. "I hate that you ever slept with Katherine."

"I hate everyone you've ever slept with."

"You only hate three people."

"... it should have been us?"

"... yeah." First time love making they will never share.

Kimberly surmised that if she's to die today... to die after all she's lived through, faced, and done for this planet, then she'll die with her heart exposed to the only man who's ever owned it. "You're my soulmate, Tommy. Sappy as that sounds, I've always felt that way, even when we were with other people."

He'd cry if he was capable of expressing that sort of emotion. "The very first day I saw you again at the Command Center, I knew I still loved you, even after all these years."

How have things come to this? Together in death in a way they could never seem to get right in life.

Then it struck Kimberly. Struck her like a bolt of lightening. Damn it all to hell, she will not sit down and go quietly into the night. Not like this. Not now after she knows what he truly feels in his heart. "Tommy, if we get out of this alive, I want you to promise me something."

Had he ever heard her voice sound so fragile... or with such powerful conviction? "Name it."

"That you're mine forever," her gaze lifted to meet his. "No excuses. No past pain. No apologies and no regrets. We get things right this time. Promise me forever."

The trillion and one things going through his mind due to her impossible request gave him only one soul-honest answer. "Done."

Rising to her feet with purpose, Kimberly summoned her courage one last time, ignited her laser cutter, and sliced directly under the bomb in front of her, razoring through the very ground in a burst of dirt and rock. She stood back, stunned and quietly elated. "It didn't blow up."

"Rule number one," Tommy said as he did the same to his bomb.

"Never trust the bad guys."

"Exactly. The bombs can be moved. Grab yours." Throwing his duffle bag over his shoulder, Tommy dug his hands under the bomb and hoisted the seven hundred pound device in his arms.

Kimberly followed suit. "I sure hope you have a plan cause I'm fresh out of them."

"I do."

As they ran out of the cave as fast as they could, nearing the entrance, not far from their Zords, Kimberly

asked, "Is this plan of yours going to get us killed?"

"Probably."

"You still love me, right?"

"Always, Beautiful."

"Good enough for me."

6 minutes

"LOAD YOUR BOMB NEXT TO MINE IN THE FALCON ZORD'S BACK COMPARTMENT!" Tommy yelled over the howling wind as Kimberly stood on her tippy toes to shove her bomb next to his, then locked down the

compartment. "WE'RE FLYING AS FAR AWAY FROM THE PLANET AS WE CAN. I'LL TELL YOU THE REST WHEN WE BREAK OUT OF THE EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE!"

"I'M WITH YOU! LET'S GO!" Kimberly boarded her Purple Eagle Zord, dialed herself in, kicked her engines on high and took off behind Tommy's White Falcon Zord as they rapidly ascended, clearing the clouds in seconds. She accelerated at full throttle, ever thankful for Zordon's alien engineered Zord as they'd break the planets atmosphere in under a minute. They needed to get far enough away so that the blast's radioactive fallout wouldn't reach Earth. "K, Tommy. What's the plan?"

With the vast darkness of space on the horizon, Tommy explained, "I'm going to set the Falcon Zords shields to turn on at full power in two minutes. Then I'm going to get in my escape pod and jettison into space. I need you to fly the Eagle Zord over my ship, set your shields at full to activate in two minutes and five seconds, but make sure your shield encompasses my ship as well, then get in your escape pod and go. With both our shields on full power and our Zords flying at maximum speed we should be able to negate the blast altogether."

"Provided the explosion doesn't knock our escape pods out of the reach of anyone's communications."

"If that happens, we're dead."

"You say the most romantic things." Kimberly floored the Eagle Zord, the engines running hard as she willed the craft to leave the Earth behind. "We've cleared the planet and we have three minutes left. I'm programming my ships shields now."

Tommy did his as well. "I'm flying lower. Get over me."

"Cool. I like being on top."

"... that was so evil."

"Just get in your escape pod, Handsome."

"I love you, Beautiful."

"I love you too, now go!" Exhaling a deep breath, Kimberly watched as Tommy's escape pod exploded out the back of the Falcon Zord. She flew even closer to the Zord beneath her until it's shields bubbled against hers. Quickly pulling off her seat belts, she raced the short distance to the escape pod in the back, locked herself it, hit the release button, and was thrown back hard against the chair as the pod rocketed away from her Zord.

"Kim, can you read me! Come in!"

His voice calmed her down, filling the small compartment of her escape pod. "I'm here. Everything's a go."

"I'm glad you're safe."

"Right back atcha."

"Make sure your homing beacon's set on vector 37. The explosion will draw the Command Centers attention and they'll radar sweep the area. With any luck we'll be back home inside an hour."

"My homing beacon's set. Hopefully... crrrrshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Both transmission signals went dead as the Eagle and Falcon Zords twin explosions detonated a wide-spread wave of sheer thundering force, and violently shook both escape pods, as well as sent them flying in opposite directions, spiraling through space.


The shore of Loch Maree
Located in the Torridons of Ross and Cromarty in the Northern Highlands, it is a magnificent loch (lake), 12.5 miles long by 2.25 miles wide.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005 10:20 PM
Croft Hill, Scotland


The harmonious environments surrounding this misty loch included tall Scots pines, low farmlands, and the mountain Slioch looming over it. The south east shore is dominated by the huge mass of Slioch Mountain, and until ten minutes ago was as peaceful and serene as the calm waters of the lake.

That was before the meteor fell from the sky... or what some of the nearby farm owners who saw the streaking red comet-like unidentified flying object thought as they pointed skyward, only to receive their second shock of the evening as three Power Ranger Zords swooped in out of nowhere. The Grey Raven and Black Lion Zords flanked the rapidly descending object as the Green Dragon Zord wrapped it in a beam of green light, slowing it down so that it didn't crash into the shore. An explosion that would surely have destroyed it.

Unable to open her eyes or even move, Kimberly knew two things without a doubt. First off, her escape pod landed somewhere and at least didn't explode on impact. Secondly, familiar voices could be heard around her, though her mind wouldn't allow her to focus long enough to figure out who was who. Something was opening near her as a whoosh of air struck her face. Everything was all to foggy in her head, and her body refused to work. Even as she felt arms reaching for her, the sensation of weightlessness as she was lifted out of the escape pod, all she thought of was Tommy.

Her last memory of him was the horrible sight of his escape pod spiraling far away from hers, then being battered with debris from their destroyed Zords. Her mouth moved, though she couldn't even manage the strength to turn her attempts into words. Could not vocalize the pain within.

"Kim, are you... it's Trini. Blink if you can hear me... minutes ago... Adam used a tractor beam to guide your..."

Vaguely aware, the calming voice of her best friend as the lights around her were far to bright. Kimberly felt light-headed, lost amidst to many voices, devoid of the one that would give her peace of mind.

Tommy...

She can't see or hear him. She doesn't know where he is... she doesn't know where she is. She's three shades of terrified, struggling now against those attempting to hold her down.

"Kim, please... Jason, Rocky and Zack are in space... know something soon... "

Tommy's missing and she needs to find him now. Has to find him after all they've recently shared. She has too...

"Please, Kim, Calm down... Aisha, hold her arm... Adam, give her a sedative. We have to get her to the Command Center Medical Bay now."

"He promised me..." Kimberly echoed through tears as the needle stuck the skin of her arm. "He promised," she repeated softly as her body went numb, lax, and finally out of her control.


The Command Center
Outside of Kimberly's bedroom
Floor 9
Wednesday, April 13, 2005 9:00 PM
Angel Grove, Ca


Almost twenty-four hours later and Tommy's finally been given a clean bill of health.

Strolling down the hall, having just stepped off the elevator, he's showered, dressed casually, and feeling no ill effects from his latest brush with death. After the Eagle and Falcon Zords destruction, both his and Kimberly's escape pods were viciously assaulted by the Dezorian Energy bombs incredibly strong force wave and thrown apart. Kimberly's, as he was told by Trini earlier, was flung around the Earth, and was picked up over Scotland. His escape pod, as Jason teased him ever since he regained consciousness around 6:00 AM this morning, was spiraling off in the middle of nowhere and leaking fuel.

Rocky, Zack, Jason, and Tanya searched for him in space for ten hours straight until they found him floating aimlessly on the far side of the moon. Outside of a slight concussion and some bruises, he's in perfectly good health. Thankfully, the same could be said for Kim, who was released from the medical bay not even three hours after she was rescued. According to Aisha, she's shaken, but stopped by to make sure he was okay, then left to get a good nights sleep in her bed. Only, she didn't go home, but to her bedroom here at the Command Center.

She's waiting for him. Of that he has no doubt.

The Command Centers living quarters weren't built until two years ago. One thousand square feet for each Ranger. The size of a apartment, complete with a personal bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room, fireplace, and came fully furnished. Just in time as far as he was concerned, seeing as how he had just left the world of auto racing and partnered with Jason, Rocky, and Adam to finally fulfill their dream since high school. Pooling all of their financial resources, they built a martial arts training facility. Not only were children, adults, and women's-self defense taught at the school, but on the lower level of three-story building they purchased, guys and girls were training for professional boxing as well as the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Pride Fighting events.

The Lions Claw Academy was the culmination of a nearly decade long dream for the four men involved, though one of them is about to embark on a journey after his most personal goal in life.

Kimberly...

One amazing woman in every possible way. Beautiful. Sexy. Charming, Smart as a whip. Clever, caring, kind, naughty when she wanted to be. Sassy when the mood called for it. The single most courageous woman he's ever known.

The only woman he's ever truly loved.

They've made so many mistakes in the past. How are they ever supposed to move past them all?

Having reached his destination, Tommy took a few slow breaths of air to calm his nerves. He's standing in front of her door, willing himself to knock. His hand raised...

"The doors unlocked. You can come in."

Always a step ahead of him. Even back in high school when he barely had the courage to talk to her. Shaking himself free of whatever held him in place, Tommy turned the knob on the door and let himself in. In the six months since she rejoined the team, he's never been in her personal quarters before. Never had a reason to until today.

Tommy found Kimberly standing perfectly still, watching him closely from the entrance of her kitchen. One steaming cup in her hand. Dressed to impress in a purple half-zip sweater, soft denim, faded boot-cut jeans and sandals, she's his hearts desire... and from the looks of things every bit as nervous as he is. "I was released about an hour ago. I just wanted to grab a shower and get myself together. Shave and all that."

"You look good," she complimented him, though felt he looked even better than that. With age and no doubt one hell of a workout regimen came a stronger delicious upper body replacing his lanky teenage frame. His jeans are hugging his hips in a way that has her clutching her cup tighter. The white sweatshirt he's wearing caught her careful appraisal next, followed by that oh so handsome face, clean shaven. She couldn't help but to smile. "You look really good," she amended just to have something else to say.

"You look better."

Neither moved a muscle, marking their territory as they took the tentative baby steps towards... they just didn't know. "I was going to go home last night, but I couldn't leave until we talked."

Suddenly Tommy realized that if she took it all back it just might kill him, though his face betrayed none of that fear. "Me either." He ventured deeper inside her apartment, though not much closer to her. "Yesterday was..." he paused, pushing himself on. "Stressful to say the least."

Acknowledging her agreement came with an uneasy feeling of dread. "We said a lot of things under extreme

duress." Her practiced speech, the one she's worked on in her head all day long began that way. Another sip of her French Vanilla tea, she added, "I don't know if I've ever been that scared before in my entire life."

Tommy could most certainly relate. "We thought we might die at any moment."

"If we had failed yesterday, it would have been a catastrophe the likes of which the world had never seen before."

"Talk about pressure," he attempted with levity, though it fell on deaf ears. Kimberly all business as she focused on him.

"Tommy, I just want you to know," she began one of the absolute most heartbreaking things she would

ever say, "That I'm not holding you to anything you said to me."

"What about what you said to me?"

Her arms crossed, emotionally protecting herself as she finally came face to face with the man that haunts her dreams at night. "Would it be immature of me to ask you to answer that first?"

Just a hint of a brat behind her soft brown eyes. "It might," he added with a smile curling his lips. Stepping forward, they're closer than they've been in nearly ten years. He's invading her personal space and still she wants him closer, though he doesn't know that. When she sat her cup down he swore her hands was shaking. "Everything I said to you yesterday, I didn't have the courage to say before, but I meant every word. I won't take any of it back because it's the truth."

She's undone by his honesty, and the fearlessness in his eyes. Her head dipped as the silence wrapped around her like a warm blanket, soothing away the pain of the past in preparation for a brighter future. Can she take this leap of faith? Is this the right thing to do? Could she survive if she lost him again? What if he let her go?

The answers were easy to come by. Of course she could live without him. She's a strong, capable women. But would her quality of life be anywhere near as good as it could be with him by her side? She's so afraid of making the same mistake twice. Of letting him go for reasons other than the one that matters most. "What are we doing?" she pondered out loud in a shaky tone of voice, feeling the heat of his body so close to hers. Dammit, he gets to her so deeply.

"We're trying to fix things as best we can, Kim. There's no blue print or instruction book on how to find, lose, or regain love. We're just learning as we go." The swell of affection within him ached as Tommy longed to hold her, touch her in any way she would allow, but knew she needed room to breathe.

"Tommy, I'm not sure I would have said the things I did yesterday if we weren't under those circumstances," she admitted with no small amount of self-depreciation. "I know I started it and I don't want you to think I was toying with you."

"Did you mean it?" As petite as she already was, she looked that much smaller as she ducked her head, looking away. The time had come to push, and so he did. His hands came to rest on her upper arms, leaning into her as she was forced to look him in the eyes. To face what they've both avoided for so long. "Did you mean it?" he repeated for the last time.

"... yes."

The loss of her from his life hurt him more than anything ever had or since. He's fighting for her now, not content to walk away. Not anymore or ever again. Yesterday they were given that rare second chance at living the life they were supposed to live. In real life, second chances are few and far between. "Kim, I want to ask you one question, and I want you to tell me the truth."

Exhaling a deep breath, she agreed with a nod.

"Do you want me to keep my promise?"

Having reeled in her emotions as long as she could, those first tears fell upon hearing him ask that question. He promised her forever if they survived yesterday, and here they are today. Together, healthy, and back at square one. "Can you after all these years?"

"It won't be easy for us. Nothing worth it ever is?"

She had to make him realize, "I'm not the teenager you fell in love with in the early nineties, Tommy. I don't want to be her anymore. That girl grew up into this woman, and you don't know her."

"I know that I love her."

Kimberly's mother once told her that she would know that man she's meant to spend her life with by the way she feels when he tells her he loves her. That she would feel having his love, and giving hers to him had no equal in all the world. That's he way he feels right now, her eyes holding his captive, never faltering, as they tried to make the pieces fit. No matter how jaded she felt herself becoming over the years concerning love, this man always... always gave her hope. "Tommy, I don't know you anymore either?"

"I'll reserve the rest of my life for you to learn everything you want to know."

Poetic much? She never knew he had in in him. And yes, she did smile. "We're walking into this blind, Tommy. All we know is how we feel. We don't know if this is going to work out or not."

"You up for the adventure?"

Never one to back down from a dare, her smirk answered for her. "I'm game if you are." Her eye lids slowly slipped shut when his strong hands traveled up her slender arms, then gently cradled her face, gazing down at her with such reverence.

"You are the love of my life, Beautiful. And I don't care how hard we have to work, or how long it takes, or what we have to do. I don't care about any of that. I just want to spend the rest of my life with you. That's what I feel in my heart. That's the truest meaning of my life."

What else could she say except, "Marry me, Tommy."

He laughed, softly. "Gimme a year, Kim."

"A year?" she arched a charming brow, enjoying their little tease of a far away, but no longer

impossible fantasy. "A year's a really long time."

"That's a really long time compared to the fact that we haven't kissed in almost a decade?"

"Good point."

"So how do you feel about me?"

"Let me show you." Kimberly yanked him by the collar as she rose to meet his descending lips, tenderly kissing him for the first time since the last time, a lifetime ago. Reacquainting herself with what pure bliss felt like. His arms encircled her, and the strength of his embrace lifted her heart to heights she never knew existed. She knew he felt the same, the way he held her so close, flush against his chest. He gently parted her lips, passionately taking what he wanted as their kiss deepened, agile tongues plundering each other at long last.

The hungry desire denied them as teenagers for responsibilities sake reawakened with a fury here.

They held on, kissing endlessly, holding one another so close as to never let go again. It's now or never, and so they're reaching for the brass ring with everything they've got.

... when the need to breathe became a necessity, they gently parted on the wing tips of a whimper, still holding on so tight... sharing the very air the other exhaled. Tommy leaned over, pressing his forehead to hers as their hearts beat a tribal rhythmic drum of love lost and found.

"What now?" Tommy whispered intimately as he held her, stealing another lingering kiss from her lips.

"I love you," Kimberly declared openly, and with joy... and the needful desires of a woman who's been promised forever by the man of her dreams. Saying no more, she took him by the hand and led him to her bedroom, and a night they'd both remember for the rest of their lives.


The next morning

8:30 AM


The first golden rays of morning filtered through the purple curtains of the bedrooms open window, bringing with it breezes of fresh air, signaling the start of a new day.

Stretching out over Kimberly's king-sized bed, Tommy's eyes remained shut to ward off the morning as he rolled over, his arm lying under his head. As if waking from a blissful dream to a equally blissful reality, he remembered last night, the woman he loved, and the love they made. Smiling into his pillow, he shifted, reaching for Kimberly, only to find the other side of the bed empty. Then his hand hit something strange lying on her pillow.

A simple long white envelope.

His eyes opened, blinking away the last of his drowsy state. Sitting up at the head of the bed, he took the envelope in his hand, reading what was written on the front.

'For Tommy, from your Beautiful'

Upon opening the letter, Tommy discovered two folded pages inside, and instantly recognized Kim's hand

writing. He still knew it after all these years. For some innate reason his good mood never faltered, as he felt this wasn't a bad omen, despite their notorious history with letters. He began reading...

Dear Tommy.

Everything is going great here in Florida. Coach Schmidt has me as ready as I'll ever be for the competition. Tommy, this is the hardest letter I've ever had to write. You've always been my best friend, and in some ways,

you're like a brother...

Okay, you better be laughing. And if you aren't, then start laughing cause this was meant to be a joke and after last night, you know my heart.

Anyway, I'm writing this next to you while you sleep. Your light snoring isn't so bad, and I can sleep through it. You, on the other hand, look like you could sleep through a nuclear explosion. It doesn't bother me, seeing as how I get the chance to watch over you while you sleep and hope you're dreaming of me.

After sleeping around seven hours, which is my average, I woke up this morning lying against you, drooling on your shoulder to be precise. I've never slept as peacefully as I did last night beside you. I went to bed more in love than I thought it was possible to be, and woke up even more in love than that. I would be here when you wake up, but unfortunately, I have Zord repair duty at 6:00 AM, so that's another reason I'm up so early.

Okay, here it is. I love you, Tommy.

I sincerely, deeply, over the moon love you. You're my hearts desire. My sunshine on a cloudy day. And yes, I'm kinda sappy right now, so bear with me. I'm still a girl, you know.

Speaking of things you know, let me tell you some of the things I don't know. I don't know what your best race was when you were racing. I don't know what CD's you have in your Jeep Cherokee. I don't know why you decided to become a Ranger again. I have no idea what your favorite cereal is. Then again, there are a few things you don't know about me. For instance, my new favorite movie is Anchorman with Will Ferrell. The only CD's in my car are the new ones from Maroon 5, Greenday, and Usher. I mooned someone on a dare at a college football game once. And my all-time favorite piece of jewelry is a silver heart bracelet my mom bought me when I visited her two years ago in Paris.

There are so many experiences, feelings, triumphs and failures we've lived through over the years that we don't know about each other, but I want to know all of yours and share with you all of mine. I'm looking forward to rebuilding what we once had into something great. Something lasting. Something just for us.

Oh, and another thing. You have a hole in your sock. No, don't look now and stop reading the letter. Just get yourself another pair later on.

Now for the compliments.

Tommy, last night was the most spectacular, Earth shattering night of sex I've ever had. You turned me inside out and have every reason in the world to strut around all day grinning and whistling, because I know I will be. And I guess by now you've realized that the tone of this letter clearly shows I do not in any way, shape, or form think of you like a brother. I'm head over heels in love with you, and when I get back I'm bringing breakfast with me. When we're done eating, I have every intention of showing you how much I love you by shagging you silly for the rest of the day. After all, we have a lot of catching up to do. One more thing.

You promised me forever. Tommy, I have every intention of collecting.

Yours always,

Kimberly

Grinning wildly, as the weight of a stressed life lifted off his shoulders for a time. Tommy sat back with the letter in his lap. Indeed, today was going to be a good day. So good in fact...

"Good morning, Handsome."

Kim suprised him yet again, standing in the doorway, a sexy smirk on her face. He never heard her entering the apartment or making her way to the bedroom. Tommy slipped off her bed, advancing toward her. "I thought you had Zord repair duty?"

"Yeah, well, Aisha and Trini said I didn't have to stay. After I told them what happened, they shoved me right outta there, giggling the whole time. I'm afraid we are the new King and Queen of the gossip world."

"I think we look good with crowns," he smiled. As soon as Kim was within reach, Tommy grabbed her around the waist, hauling her flush to his chest. "I'll have to thank them later on."

"If you have enough energy left to raise your hand, that is," she winked before they shared their first kiss of the day, lingering on just because. "Did you like my letter?"

"It was certainly better than the last one you sent me?"

"Just a little better?"

"Best. Letter. Ever."

"Good. Very, very good." They kissed again, with Tommy sneakily tugging a laughing Kimberly backwards towards the bed, while she kept talking about how their breakfast was getting cold, pretending to fight him off while kicking away her shoes. "Tommy, I haven't had breakfast and you need to brush your teeth because morning breath is not sexy. And... Hmmm... that's so not fair... put your shirt back on right this instant... help me put my shirt back on right this instant... you are so bad."


The End

PS: There is a NC-17 version of this story and if you want it, just shoot me a email