Title: "9 Days"
The sequel to "Meltdown"
Author: Shawn

Summary: 9 days after their reunion, Tommy and Kimberly face a dinner date with his parents, and the reasons why they had to cancel the dinner a day earlier.

Rated: R, and just like the last one, email me if you want the NC-17 version.
Category: Action Adventure/Violence/Romance/Drama Ship: Tommy/Kim

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 guess Disney and Saban own it all. I own the right to get Tommy and Kim together they way they are meant to be!

Authors Notes: This is the sequel to "Meltdown" and as the title goes, it takes place 9 days after that story, but with flashbacks a day earlier. Tommy, Kim, and his parents have dinner on the ninth day, but the flashbacks take place on the eighth. Got it? Cool.

Authors Notes 2: As with the first fic, T/K are between 24 and 26 here, but I never specify exactly how old they are. I just like to emphasize that I write them as adults, not teenagers. Expect complex human emotions, sensuality, pain, and everything else associated with being an adult.


Men always want to be a woman's first love - women like to be a man's last romance.
--Oscar Wilde


Three miles from the home of John and Helen Oliver

1734 West End

Friday, April 22, 2005 7:30 PM Stone Canyon, Ca

Tommy hasn't said a word to her in the last twenty minutes, and for that, Kim's thankful.

Ever mindful that he has a girlfriend now, the car radio's tuned to her favorite station. Music provides the verbal aspect of their trip to his parents home for dinner. Internally speaking, Kim's dealing with her own issues. She's fidgety, for lack of a better word. Her foot keeps tapping the floor mat in a steady beat of nervousness.

She's been that way ever since they left her apartment.

The Oliver's are, and have always been very good people. Polite, considerate, humble, sincere people who treated her so nice when she was introduced as their sons first girlfriend almost ten years ago. Nervously holding hands the whole way over, Tommy walked her to his home that day when the Oliver's used to live in Angel Grove. She remembers how warm the weather was, and that it was on a Thursday afternoon. She was so scared her teeth were chattering and her palms were sweaty. Tommy was her first boyfriend as well and other than the title itself, they had little knowledge of what it meant. His parents were the first to know of their change in status and were very understanding of the young couple.

Nearly two years passed...

Then, of course, came the whole business of Kim writing Tommy that, in her own words, incredibly stupid 'Dear John' letter. She sent it to the Youth Center instead of his home so that his parents wouldn't think badly of her dumping their son in a letter. Hindsight might be twenty-twenty, but at age seventeen, you only do what gets you through the night of tears, immature as it might have been.

As far in the past as all this was, it still hit home for her. Kimberly blinked in the passenger seat, sighing as the streets flew by in a blur of color and shape.

She's a grown woman now and they were teenage sweethearts all those years ago. She has no doubt that his parents won't hold some kind of a grudge or be anything less than pleased with the news they are back together. Tommy told her when he told his parents they were thrilled and looking forward to seeing her again. It's only that ugly little insecure voice everyone has that whispered fowl things in her head. That maybe they would always be verbally supportive of whatever made their son happy, but behind closed doors not at all pleased he hooked back up with the girl that broke his heart once upon a time in such a frivolous way.

Ever so often Tommy glanced at her out the corner of his eyes. He's kept a smile on his face as they drove in silence, giving her the space she needs while enjoying being able to show her off again. He's so proud of the woman she is, and has told her the way she loves him, he's known nothing better in all the world. Instantly, Kim's calmed by his astoundingly good mood. Deep down she knows her fears are silly. Jeez, she's 25 years old now and back when she was dating Tommy in high school Bill Clinton was President, Michael Jackson wasn't a child molester, and there were only rumors of a new Star Wars movie coming out. Smiling to herself as the music played, she realizes everything will be fine tonight. And if it's not, then she'll work on making it fine. But either way, her life's never been better and one dinner date won't change that.

"Thank you."

Words she never has to say to him. Still, it's good she's talking again. "For what?"

"For letting me work things out in my own head and not being annoyed with me."

"You never annoy me."

"Liar," she smirked playfully. "But still, thank you."

"Honestly, Kim. I don't know why you were so nervous to begin with. My parents aren't going to hold a ten year grudge over your letter and our breakup. They're just not like that."

She knew that, and ducked her head accordingly, somewhat embarrassed. "I know, I know. It's just weird, I guess. As far as anyone knows we haven't even been close friends for years, and then boom, we're in a deeply committed relationship. And I did break your heart. Moms do not forget that."

Tommy could understand her apprehension, even as he sought to put her mind at ease. "Yeah, but I broke Katherine's heart. Aisha broke Adam's. And I'm sure someone broke yours. That's just life as far as love goes. We live, learn, and let go. It's a new beginning, remember?"

His whimsical positive insight is but one of his many new traits she's come to fall in love with. "When did you become so wise?"

Deciding not to mock her slight dig, he offered, "Fortune Cookies. I ate a lot of fortune cookies and read all the little strips of paper." Grinning, he pointed to his head and nodded. "Wisdom."

"Through fortune cookies?"

Tommy shrugged, laughing as he pulled into his parents driveway. He's out the car in a flash, around it to open the door for Kim. His courtesy amuses her as well as charms. It's easy being a gentleman to the woman you love more than life itself. "You ready?"

Again, she smoothed down her little black dress, her nerves a bit on edge. "Are you?"

Tommy could tell she's still a bit tense. "Kim, they're going to ask a lot of questions because they're nosy parents, but they won't get so personal that you'll feel uncomfortable. Just relax honey." Gathering her in his arms, Tommy rested his chin on top of her head, ever thankful for her presence in his life. "I am so hungry."

The growl accompanying his words made her giggle into his chest. "So I heard." There's peace here, wherever they are together. Ever since the day they reunited against the world, nine days ago, she's known no greater joy than his smile, or his laughter, or the desperate, intense way he made love to her. His love has awakened a new woman in her. A strut to go along with her casual walk through life. A secretive grin, just this side of dangerous, and that unpredictable emotion called true love. "I'm sorry I'm being so weird tonight."

"No apologies needed. I'm sure I'll be the same way when I meet your parents again for the first time in years," he reassured her.

The Oliver's home was mere feet away. Having put this off long enough, Kimberly slipped from his arms, taking his hand in hers as he led her up to the front porch. She took a long deep breath when he pressed the door bell, and when it opened, all her fears evaporated that very second.

Helen and John Oliver greeted her as if she were royalty from the second she walked through the door. There were hugs and handshakes, but the sincerity of all four parties, and their acknowledgment of nervousness eased the transition greatly. Helen admitted Tommy hasn't brought a girl home in years, not even Katherine, whom he introduced, but they never really got to know all that well. John confessed that he was afraid Kimberly would think they might still be mad or be mean or distant to her. Kimberly then added that a small part of her feared that as well. Between the short time of talking from the front door to the kitchen table, all fears were erased, as the four sat down for dinner and a entertaining evening.

When asked about the details of how they got back together, Tommy told the 'truth,' or as much as he could. One very long stressful day led them to talking about things they've avoided for years, and through that talk came a reawakening of their true feelings. Even after all this time, some things never changed. They're still in love and trying again.

"You two are so lucky John and I love you so much," Helen confirmed with a paternal smile as she fixed everyone's plate. "Tonight is our bowling night, but we rescheduled just for you."

"And since we did that," John added in with a good natured grin, "I'd like to know why you guys cancelled on dinner last night? Did something important come up?"

Recalling the unbelievable events of last night, Tommy and Kim ducked their heads, both hiding a sly grin...


Flashback

The Horde Battle Fortress

Located on the far side of the Krevken Asteroid Field

The Grand Hall Throne Room

Thursday, April 21, 2005 7:30 PM Northern Quadrant

Syhid Rancor is a man, for lack of a better word to describe a hulking Krevken Warlord, with vision.

And a man with vision understands that instilling fear in ones heart you wish to control is a far more potent, effective tool then aiming a weapon at them. He enjoys fear. Understands it. Corrupts using it in every way that he can.

And tonight, he shall paint a masterful tapestry of fear the likes of which the galaxy has never seen before.

Leather-thick emerald skin gave an exotic compliment to the blood-red cloak worn by the Krevken Warlord. Sitting atop his throne made up of the bones of his enemies, Syhid's silver eyes gazed into those of Supreme Chancellor Grissom. Held inside a Graken energy containment cell ten feet away, Syhid knew that in the next hour he would drown three-fourths of the galaxy in such glorious fear from what he was to accomplish before them. And with that fear, would come compliance with his demands. Slowly, brutally, over time he'd command the most unstoppable armada in the galaxy.

He only needed fear to begin his march towards immortality.

Krevken Warlord Syhid Rancor ruled the Krevken race with an iron fist, just the way they liked it. A society made up of over seventeen worlds, built on war and conquest, had grown weary with the already immense empire they controled. Their treaty with the Galatic Alliance held them at bay with the threat of all out war. Not even the massive Krevken Space Fleet could have any hope of victory versus the combined battle cruisers and war ships of the entire Galatic Alliance. The same fear the Alliance used to keep them in check would now be turned to strangle from their grasp control of over half the universe.

All becasue of fear.

The daring raid Syhid meticulously planned and personally executed with twenty Krevken war birds attacked the Supreme Chancellors personal shuttle and military escort with such precise viciousness and calculated planning they were taken completely off guard. Absolutely no one was aware of the Supreme Chancellors goings and coming in the universe, so a attack was unheard of. Even with a full compliment of Galatic Alliance fighters as escort, they were annihilated. The Supreme Chancellor was taken hostage, his entourage butchered, and the galaxy trembled with the knowledge that it's twenty-year elected leader was now in the hands of a ruthless tyrant.

Syhid Rancor's Grand Hall throne room was immense in both size and alien decor. The gigantic 200-foot Molderan-glass hull overlooking the vast asteroid field outside provided a majestic view of the likes of which few places in all the galaxy could equal. The thirty-foot high ceiling, with it's twin walkways for the Krevken Royal Guards hung over the rows of seats held by the Krevken High Council. Huge pillars added to the regal presence. The black walls were lined with massive life-like paintings of all the warlords that came before Syhid, as far back as the beginnings of their empire.

The gravity-defying bases of the twelve holographic tele-camera's were finally in place as Syhid rose to his feet, smirking past the tense expression worn by Supreme Chancellor Grissom. The cloak he wore provided an additional shadow that shielded his grotesque reptilian-like face. At the bottom of the marble steps before his throne, his three most trusted advisors, Denison Rein, Heqa, and Palameria awaited his final orders. "Are the signals all getting through?"

"Yes, master," Denison Rein replied in his raspy echo of a voice, stepping aside as Syhid walked by the devices that would broadcast his public execution of the Supreme Chancellor to the entire galaxy. "Our contacts on the twenty most heavily populated worlds in the universe report a strong unfiltered signal. As of five microns ago we were ready for over twelve hundred worlds. That number should double in the next five microns." Assault-armor clad Krevken soldiers stood at attention, their Crom-staffs at the ready when their leaders walked by.

"There can be no mistakes, my brothers," Syhid pointed out in a sharply rising tone of voice. "The universe must realize that no one, not even their highest elected official, is safe. After all, if the Galatic Alliance cannot protect the life of the Supreme Chancellor, what hope do they have of protecting those planets that are wavering their loyalty?" A vile, evil, uncaring smile curled it's lips. "Fear will set in and fear is what we will use to bring them over to our side. Chaos, mistrust, and a lack of faith will send the Galatic Alliance into a downward spiral from which it will never recover." Standing before the Supreme Chancellor, Syhid motioned for the tele-camera operators to begin broadcasting in sixty seconds. "I predict one-fourth of the worlds of the Galatic Alliance with break out on their own, fearing the solidarity the Supreme Chancellor was so well at holding together will fall apart."

"Your plan will backfire, Syhid." Defiant, even in the face of his death, the half-breed Hyperion, Supreme Chancellor Grissom would not stand in silence. "The fear you hope to instill will only result in a stronger resolve and commitment to strengthening the Galatic Alliance."

"Spoken like true politician."

"Spoken like a true madman."

His sole focus on the monumental task ahead, Syhid drew his blade from the holster inside his cloak. Flipping a switch on the Graken energy containment unit, Grissom's body slumped to the floor. "With your dead body at my feet, broadcast across the galaxy, it will start a chain reaction that will cripple and splinter your Galatic Alliance. And over time, it will cease to exist. I will make sure of it." The time drew near. "The sum of your life's work will fracture. Then I will stomp it into nothing, and your memory will fade away."

"You will fail. Of that I have no doubt." Facing certain death, his frail body rose one last time. He straightened the gray presidential robe he wore, accepting his fate with honor and dignity. They could rob him of many things, even his life, but never his dignity.

Having little to no respect for any race other than his own, Syhid ignored the Supreme Chancellors words as he prepared to address the entire galaxy. Flickers of red dots signaled all of the tele-camera's were online. "My name is Syhid Rancor, and I am the Krevken Empire Warlord. As you can see, I have captured the Galatic Alliance Supreme Chancellor Grissom, and will execute him shortly. But before I do so, I ask each and every world that is a member of the Alliance to know this. Supreme Chancellor Grissom and I have been working together for some time now." Reveling in the shock and rage of his enemy, Syhid continued on. "How else would anyone know of his travels since they are secret and hidden even from the Senate for the Supreme Chancellors protection? His office served under me in secret for years. He defied me, and in the end, and his fate will be the fate of any world that defies me. Death."

Raising his jeweled blade to the Supreme Chancellors neck, the muscles in his forearm tensed as he prepared to slash...

... suddenly, a burst of purple light flashed past Syhid Rancor... to be more precise, it passed through him. What was left of his face could be seen clear through the back of his head as green blood, bone fragments, and brain matter doused his top advisors and the floor. The Krevken Warlords dead body crumbled in a heap to the ground as Krevken soldiers surrounded him while the Royal guards all jumped from the ceiling scaffold, securing the exits of the throne room.

"INCOMING!" yelled one of the Krevken soldiers, his weapons trained above him. Standing on one of the scaffolds above the throne were the Red, Yellow, Green, Black, Pink and Blue Power Rangers. All armed and aiming at them. No one had time to figure out how they teleported through a asteroid field. Such a feat was known to be impossible.

"YOU WILL ALL LAY DOWN YOUR WEAPONS AND SURRENDER!" Jason's voice boomed over the massive throne room. "STEP AWAY FROM THE SUPREME CHANCELLOR AT ONCE!"

"NEVER! DESTROY THEM!" Denison Rein raged bitterly at the invaders. Suddenly, a blazing hail of red blasts rocked the scaffolds narrow floorings as the Krevken soldiers and the Rangers exchanged furious laser fire, blistering the walls and ceiling, sparking small fires all over the throne room as all hell broke loose in every direction. From out of nowhere, smoke grenades detonated, taking out the tele-cameras as well as clouding the room in gusts of smoke.

The White and Purple Ranger used a huge sculpted pillar as their hiding place, huddled together, watching the all out battle take place just ahead. Reaching for the left side of the pillar, Tommy pulled the twin teleportation beacons imbedded in the concrete. Shot there with a set of silencers attached to the Falcon Zords laser cannons. Upon receiving news from the governing body of the Galatic Alliance Senate itself; Billy, Trini, and Alpha had mere hours to shroud the Falcon Zord in enough rock to make it appear to be a asteroid. Then Tommy had to carefully navigate through the asteroid field to get close enough so that his Zords teleportation signal could breach the asteroid fields signal warping effect. Never an easy day. "Kim, you're one hell of a shot," Tommy complimented amidst the chaos.

"Thanks, but we gotta move. Now!" From her hidden position, Kim kept her eyes trained on the Supreme Chancellors location in the far corner of the room, to the left of the throne. When the battle started he ran for his life. "It won't be long before they realize those Rangers are holograms."

"Ladies first." Racing behind the other pillar as they shot their way across the room, trading laser fire. Tommy followed Kim's lead, covering their backs while she made sure the Supreme Chancellor was alright.

"As always, the Galatic Alliance is indebted to the Power Rangers," Supreme Chancellor Grissom complimented when the Purple Ranger helped him to his feet. She quickly hooked a utility belt of sorts around his waist, then did a full body scan with some sort of electronic wrist band. "Outside of a few bumps and bruises I'm in good health.

His blood pressure and vitals were good. No internal damage whatsoever. Kim breathed a sigh of relief behind her helmet. "Thank us if we get out of here alive."

The element of surprise has always been a stable of any good plan. Unfortunately, when it's gone... The Krevken soldiers wised up sooner than Tommy anticipated. No matter. The real escape has just begun. Upholstering a Gamma-grenade, he tossed it sky-high, directly at the left side of the nearest scaffold. The detonating explosion of dust, plaster, and torn, grinding metal echoed in painfully loud decibels over the throne room as the ten-ton structure came crashing down, crushing several Krevken soldiers immediately, while providing an added note of chaos for the Rangers escape.

Tommy yelled, "LET'S MOVE!"

Having studied full architecture plans of the battle fortress during their mission briefing, Kimberly knew the southwest exit was the only way to go for their plan to work. Well, part of their plan, at least. Raising her weapon, she fired her blaster continuously, taking out two Royal guards before they could even aim her way, while side-stepping a array of laser blasts. Protecting the Supreme Chancellor was her top priority. Just moments ago she slipped a portable shield generator belt around his waist, able to withstand at least twenty full laser blasts before powering down. Their best shot at keeping him alive.

Judging from the blaring alarms and deafening explosions in the distance, the other Rangers must have begun their Zord attack. Tommy, Kim, and the Supreme Chancellor ran down the wide, well lit corridor, stopping only when they passed a third hallway. Tommy reached behind his back for a small hand-held device and scanned the wall on his right. "It's here."

Kimberly quickly produced a small pen-sized tool and aimed it at the wall. Pressing a button on the side, a slim red beam of light shot out, sparking the metal plating as she carved a 5x10 inch squared over it. Tommy wrenched the plating off, then shoved a ten pound silver cylinder inside, nestled along thick rows of wiring. "Is it set?"

"Three minutes. We gotta blaze."

"Hold on," Kim told the Supreme Chancellor a second before she hoisted him on her shoulders. They needed the augmented Ranger speed they could run at while morphed and his all to humanoid-like body wasn't gonna cut it. Tommy and Kim raced down the winding corridor at top speed, before stopping and ducking inside a small empty uniform room just as the bomb Tommy planted went off behind them, exploding such a wave of force and fire they couldn't stand on their feet. The walls and floor shook around them. "The Fortress shield generators are down. Now the Alliance Cruisers can attack. They're gonna level this place in fifteen minutes."

"Good for them," Tommy pointed out. "But we have to deal with this first." Ahead, Krevken Soldiers raged towards them, growling venomously, their Crom-Staffs ready for war.

Kimberly shoved the Supreme Chancellor across the room. "We'll handle this." Shutting the door, Kim stood beside Tommy, both in their fighting stances. "What was your mom going to cook for dinner tonight?"

"Mac and cheese. Pot roast."

"Dammit. I always loved your moms pot roast." Not open to let others dictate how a fight's going to take place, Kim ran at the soldiers first, somersaulting over three of their heads, landing behind them. She ignited her Purple Ranger Laser-Bow, and used the nuclear-string to slash their bodies half, then spun on her heel and fired three purple light-arrows in succession, killing three more.

The razor blade of the Saba sword beheaded two Krevken soldiers. Tommy quickly parried, sword versus staff, a third skilled soldier before disarming him. Sheathing Saba, he jumped over the Krevken's, and somehow caught his neck in mid-air, twisting it viciously before he hit the ground. The soldier died instantly, it's head slanted at a horrible angle.

Utilizing her new gravity-defying abilities, Kim ran sideways along the walls, firing her bow time after time, knocking out a host of soldiers. Out of nowhere she was shot five times by a burst laser blasts. Ever thankful her Ranger armor absorbed the brunt of it, she was knocked off her feet hard onto the floor. Unfortunately, the hits she took allowed them to get the jump on her. Rising to her feet again, she took a brutal thrust kick to the face that sent her spiraling through the air. Another soldier stood over her, poised to ram his Crom-Staff through her chest. With it's M'cron tipped end, even her Ranger armor wouldn't prevent her death. Thinking quickly, she scissored her ankles around his, turned sharply and threw him off his feet. Kim back-kicked to hers, stomped his head so hard it embedded into the flooring, then executed a perfect leg sweep on a advancing soldier from behind. She moved so fast she connected with a roundhouse kick of her own before he even hit the ground, sending him flying into three soldiers behind him.

Fighting off four soldiers in close proximity with Crom-Staffs, Tommy utilized all of his vast sword training, fending off attack after attack until one made a mistake. Tommy severed it's arm at the elbow and managed to catch it's staff in his other hand. Brandishing two weapons now, he threw the staff at the chest of another soldier, killing him. One solider caught him from the blind side, landing a hard right punch that sent Tommy crashing into the wall behind him.

"DIE RANGER!" The Krevken soldier raised his staff, not exactly sure why the White Ranger stood there with his arms crossed, as if he had not a care in the world just before he would die.

"Run. This is your last chance." Tommy didn't move. The Krevken soldier swung. So did Kimberly, standing behind him. And she swung a split second before he did. The soldier screamed at the top of it's lungs as it stared at it's severed arm on the ground. It screamed no more when Tommy gutted him with Saba.

"Can you possibly stay out of trouble so that I don't have to save your life and mine at the same time."

Imagining that teasing smirk of hers behind her helmet only made him want to kiss her more. "Get the Chancellor."

He had a smile on his face. Kim had no doubt about that. "We're on the move again. The hallway is secure, for now." Helping the Supreme Chancellor to his feet once more, she handed him a blaster one of the Krevken soldiers carried. "I read you served in the Alliance military for thirteen years before getting into politics."

"Trust me. I know how to use one of these." Grissom followed close behind his escort, turning down no less than five corridors, zigzagging to evade their enemies. "I assume the two of you do have a plan for our escape?"

Kim kept her blaster aimed ahead, ready for anything. "Well, we have most of a plan."

Though hopeful of the contrary, Tommy expected this sooner or later. "I assume that's my fault, right Kim?"

"You flew too fast out of Zordon's signal reach. We couldn't hear the rest of the plan. That's your fault."

"Excuse me, Ms. Hart. I'm sorry that ensuring the Falcon Zord didn't collide with a asteroid the size of Virginia didn't correspond with holding that signal."

That 'Ms' Hart' crack will not go unpunished. "Don't get snarky with me. You could have let me flown while you took the communications chair."

"I'm the better pilot."

"Says who?"

"Don't start."

"You are personally responsible for the most Zord destructions in the history of the Power Rangers. Zordon said so."

"That's neither here nor there."

"Blah, blah blah."

"You are so lucky I love you."

"You're luckier I love you."

As the trio reached a storage elevator, Grissom turned to them, curiously. "Excuse me for asking, but are you two that term Earthlings use to bind themselves to one another. I believe it's called... marriage. Are you married?"

Kim was grinning behind her helmet. "Eventually."

"Not if you keep dissing my flying skills."

"Oh shut up." If it wasn't a life or death situation she'd kick him really hard. When the elevator opened, Kim tossed three card-sized devices onto the floor, then pressed a button and sent it on it's way. "There's no doubt this base is on high alert and every single soldier here is on the lookout for us. Those devices are operating on Ranger frequencies. Hopefully our pursuers will track them, thinking we are calling for back-up, and give us more time to get out of here."

"Intelligent," Grissom commented. "Most intelligent."

"Let's go." Sprinting down four flights of stairs, Tommy's using a tracking device of his own until he stops cold on the next floor. "Here. Let's cut here."

Kimberly used her small laser torch again, with Tommy using his as well. They worked as fast as they could, cutting through the floor itself. When their beams connected, they shut them off. Tommy bent to one knee and punched the center of the hole they cut. A two-foot squared of the floor fell inward... and kept falling into a darkness so deep they could no longer see as it descended. The echo of air and machinery rose from the hole.

The Supreme Chancellor looked on, weary and worried. "Where does that lead?"

"If I remember correctly, this is a shaft adjacent to Syhid's royal elevator to his personal chambers. Seventy feet below should be a maintenance storage room. From there should be one of the Krevken hangers. We need a ship," Tommy explained.

Kimberly stood just over his shoulder. "And if you're wrong?"

"We'll probably die."

"Well, perhaps we should...ahhhhh!" Supreme Chancellor Grissom yelled when Tommy grabbed him around the waist and jumped in after the Purple Ranger who jumped first. The incredible feeling of freefall was nearly enough to give him a heart attack as the fell even faster by the second, the wind blowing through his graying hair. Seventy feet later...

Thankfully, Rangers could withstand jumps of that magnitude with no problem at all. Supreme Chancellor Grissom nearly passed out and needed a moment to catch his breath. "Please tell me we won't have to do that again?"

"Hopefully not," Tommy offered. Looking around them, they were in a wide hallway with gray walls and monitors every ten feet. Up ahead were two-huge lift doors. "We might be in luck. Come on."

Upon turning the corner, they found a group Krevken soldiers with their backs to them, watching on one of the monitors the huge space battle taking place outside between their space fleet, the Zords, and Alliance star cruisers.

Placing a finger to the small indention on her helmet where her lips would be, Kimberly summoned her laser bow and fired one arrow at the light fixture on the ceiling. Instantly, it pitched the entire hallway in darkness.

The Krevken soldiers didn't know what hit them.

Tommy slashed the leg of the closest soldier to him, severing it from the rest of his body. Before the soldier even fell to the floor Tommy jump kicked it's chest, sending him flying off his feet with such force he plowed into two soldiers behind him, slamming all three into the wall. Ever the predator in a fight, Tommy threw Saba as hard as he could, and the blade struck the legless soldier in the chest, and went through him, staking all three to the wall. He mentally summons Saba back to his hand, dripping in Krevken blood.

Ducking a wild swing of his staff, Kimberly rammed her elbow into the soldiers chest, then did a split as the soldier behind her fired and hit his own man in the neck. Back on her feet, she used laser arrows to disarm three more soldiers, then a brutal combination of kicks and punches that ended their lives.

When it was all said and done only the Purple and White Rangers were left standing after the carnage. Peaceful protectors of the galaxy were also hardened soldiers in their own right, and while the work they did was good and necessary, it was hardly ever pretty.

Tommy peered up when the Supreme Chancellor ducked out from behind the corner. "Sir, I believe a ship hanger is not far from here. We should go."

"Indeed. I am with you. Let's be on our way."

"SELF-DESCRUCT SEQUENCE INITIATED. TWENTY... NINETEEN... EIGHTEEN... SEVENTEEN..."

"Shit!" Dread filled Kim's chest. She acted on instincts alone, grabbing the Supreme Chancellor as her and Tommy ran as fast as they could towards what they hoped and prayed was a ship hanger. "Tommy, if you have a plan, now's the time to do it!"

"Sorry, Kim. I'm fresh out of plans."

"You're the leader. You're always supposed to have a plan."

"I planned on eating my moms pot roast tonight."

"So did I."

The hanger doors were locked from the inside and he didn't have time to hack into the wall-mounted controls. "Well, Kim. Confession time again. I lied to you the other day. I really did eat all your Ben and Jerry's Rocky Road ice cream."

"Yeah, well, I lied the other day too. I did kiss Rocky once."

"WHAT!

Suddenly, as the massive explosion erupted through the battle fortress, Tommy, Kim, and the Supreme Chancellor were teleported away.


End of Flashback

Three miles from the home of John and Helen Oliver

1734 West End

Friday, April 22, 2005 8:05 PM Stone Canyon, Ca

"I had a broken water pipe in the ceiling at my office one day and I know just how much trouble that can cause, and how big the clean-up is. It was a mess like you wouldn't believe. We had to close the entire office for two days and replace all the carpeting, which wasn't cheap," Helen Oliver sympathized with her son. Being a new businessman, along with his friends, wasn't easy. And now this. "Honey, I'm so sorry you and the guys had that problem last night at your school. Do you have any idea how it happened?"

Lying to his mother wasn't something he ever did if it did not have anything to do with his work as the leader of the Power Rangers. Unfortunately, this was often necessary. "The guys and I were warned by the previous owner when we bought the building. We knew it was an older model, but the price and size were to good to pass up. We knew there would be problems here and there. The plumbers we called told us the pipe that burst was old and rusty. Nothing major, thankfully. It didn't affect anything electrical either."

After refilling Kim's glass of wine, Helen nodded, thankful the problem wasn't that bad. "We can have pot roast any time, honey."

"You're going to have to share your recipes, Mrs. Oliver. Tommy raves about your cooking all the time."

"First off, call me Helen," she reassured the Kim yet again that they were already friends, that respect was present, and she's absolutely welcome in this house. "As for my son, the bottomless pit that is his stomach was testament to that years ago. He was so tall and skinny in high school, but could eat anything and often did."

"Then came his thankfully brief career as a race car driver," John interjected with a slight note of seriousness, having been supportive but never favored his sons path towards racing. "He started eating better for his reflexes and all that. It's a good thing the racing is over with. No more wild nights for you, son," he pointed affectionately at his son.

"If you only knew," Tommy muttered under his breath, and received a gentle poke of Kim's foot to shut it.

John smiled around a forkful of spaghetti. "Speaking of overflowing amounts of water, I seem to recall a time when a certain young man, who will remain nameless," he winked at Kim, who no doubt felt a childhood story coming on, "Filled a bathtub with water and climbed in fully clothed with his battleship toys." Watching his son duck his head as he told this embarrassing tale from his youth felt like a right every father had to enjoy at one time or another. "That little boy didn't even turn off the water. He just climbed in and started splashing around."

Recalling the clean-up afterwards wasn't near as much fun as this, Helen thought to herself. Her sons discomfort was comical, and Kim seemed to revel in it. Smart girl. "Tommy was having the time of his life while the whole bathroom floor was covered with water, and then the hallway carpeting outside it. I turned my back for one second in the kitchen and he was gone. I told him to stay out of trouble."

"Tommy never listens to that." Kim just had to add her two-cents in. His pleading face to move along the current subject was thoroughly ignored. "So how did you find him?"

"We didn't," John explained. "His first dog, Arthur, ran into the living room where I was and his paws were damp. He left footprints in the carpet that were wet. I got up to investigate and saw that the carpet at the top of the steps was a shade darker than the rest of the stairs. My socks soaked clean through once I reached the upstairs and by then I had an idea what happened. I ran to the bathroom and found Tommy sitting in that bathtub smiling like he had won an Oscar. At first I was just relieved he was alright. Then came the anger... the yelling... the spanking..."

"Can we please," Tommy tongue-in-cheek pleaded, "For the sake of our first dinner together, not discuss my spankings at the dinner table."

"Oh you hush." Her sons playful pout would not work here, even though she adored him. "It's our right to relate stories of your youth to your girlfriend. She can't go around thinking that you're perfect, you know."

"Oh, you don't have to worry about that. I never thought he was perfect." Helen high-fived Kim while John laughed at his sons expense. Tommy just rolled his eyes. Feeling a little guilty about the ribbing, Kim added, "He has moments of perfection at times."

"I so cannot wait until I see your mom again and ask her all about your spankings when you were a kid."

"I certainly never sat fully clothed in a bath tub full of water while the house flooded. What in the world made you do that?"

"I was five," he grinned her way. "Give me a break."

His son hasn't smiled that wide, or looked so happy in such a long time. Watching him and Kimberly play off each other was a sight for sore eyes. John exchanged a knowing glance with his wife. They're the real deal. It's so obvious it isn't even funny. Time will tell if this is lasting, but if he were a betting man, he'd bet on things working out this time around.

Helen asked, "So how long did it take you guys to finish the clean-up."

Hopefully, the Oliver's wouldn't notice the faint blush whispering over her cheeks. "Uhm, well, we worked hard... until 3:00 AM," Kimberly explained, crossing her legs under the table. "It was a long..." she paused for a moment, glancing most naughty at Tommy. "Strenuous, exhausting. utterly satisfying job. It took hours."

"How many people came?"

"I know I did a few ti..." Kim kind of let slip out until Tommy nearly choked on the wine he's drinking. She caught herself and smiled a big wide smile. "Everyone came to pitch in."

John shook his head, imagining just how big a job that must have been. "I bet you two were wiped out after all that work."

Tommy and Kim slowly nodded... they didn't look up to save their lives.


Flashback

"The Adversary"
Galatic Alliance Supreme Star Cruiser The far side of Paladia, Enroute to the Galatic Alliance home world 'New Aredia"
Thursday, April 21, 2005 11:30 PM

If Tommy were pyschic, he would be reading Kimberly's mind at this very moment, and no doubt share the one lingering question swirling around in her head. At what point did duty end and they get their lives back?

Apperantly, duty is escorting the Supreme Chancellors ship back to New Aredia for a joint press conference from the Galatic Senate Chamber with the Supreme Chancellor and the Power Rangers. A show in soliderity, courage, and the strength of the Galatic Alliance in the face of their darkest hour. A powerful visual reminder to any empire or organization harboring Krevken-like designs that the Galatic Alliance would not go softly into the night.

They could live with that type of duty.

But this type? No, no way.

Duty was not this long, boring, drawn out conversation Kim and Tommy had to endure outside their personal quarters. Having showered and changed into street clothes, they wanted to 'unwind' after a wild evening, and as appreciative as they are of the Supreme Chancellors continued praise and thanks, after thirty minutes of it they are nearly at the end of their ropes.

"... we could not possibly thank you enough for your couragious deeds." Flanked by five Kobaltian bodyguards, Supreme Chancellor Grissom complimented them yet again on a job well done. Known for his long winded Senate speeches and historic storytelling ability, he felt this duo, as well as all the other Rangers who were involved in the rescue operation deserved to be regaled time and time again. "The Power Rangers have been in the service of the Galatic Alliance for well over a century, and your current team upholds the legacy in a most honorable way."

Wired, hot under the collar, and in desperate need of... well, at this point Kimberly's smile had to look as fake as Pamela Anderson's breasts. Still, this too is part of her job as a Ranger. Public relations and all that. "Thank you, sir. You are far to kind. We were only doing our jobs."

The affectionately sly way Kim's hand kept gliding next to Tommy's, touching him every other second, left him breathless. "Sir, we only have two hours before we reach New Aredia. We were hoping to maybe have a few moments..."

The Supreme Chancellor didn't allow Tommy to finish. "The only other time a Supreme Chancellor was forcibly detained by a enemy of the Alliance was over ninety years ago," he detailed in a far away tone, his hands resting on Tommy and Kim's shoulder in a fatherly sort of way. These two personally saved his life and he would love to get a chance to know them better. "The story is a long one, so I'll start from the beginning."

Obviously, Tommy's suffering, and the Supreme Chancellor just can't or refuses to see it. For some reason he's so turned on by Kim when she has her shoulder length brown tresses in a pony tail, and the soft skin of her neck is exposed to his hungry eyes. Standing so close to her, he inhales the faint vanilla scent of her shampoo, and the slightly floral odor of her favorite body spray. As the Supreme Chancellor bellows on and on with his story, Tommy must summon every ounce of restraint to not grab Kimberly's hand, drag her in their room and shut the door in the face of the most powerful man in the galaxy.

Nodding at the appropriate times, Kim held her tongue, while wishing she were sucking on Tommy's as they stood in this well-lit hall, just a door away from the sweet salvation of a nice big soft bed. In the short time since they've gotten back together, she's come to realize four things about them. Number four, that they still have similar tastes in movies, thankfully. Number three, neither ever truly fell in love with anyone else during their time apart. Number two, their roles have somewhat reversed, with Tommy being the more social one these days, and her being the quieter homebody type. Number one, however... the number one thing she's had the utmost pleasure in discovering is that nothing... absolutely nothing gets them more aroused than just after a fight. Call it emotions, adrenaline, the excitement, the danger, the heat of battle, or anything else you could name. Call it what you want, but that one fact remains.

After a long, drawn out, furious fight, Tommy and Kim can barely keep their hands off each other, and usually don't.

"... lost contact for nearly thirteen days. The Senate had no provisions back then for what to do in such a situation."

One slow descending bead of water trickled down Tommy's neck from his damp hair, and Kim wanted so badly to trace it with her tongue. Her fingers longed to touch his chest. To feel the chiseled muscles beneath her fingers tips. To revel in the sounds he made when she touched him just the way he liked it.

"The Gromoreons gave the Alliance investigators a great deal of intelligence. They provided us with the name of the Vorleian pirate..."

Each time her hand brushed against his their fingers nearly twined, and the need... the sheer need to curl every part of his body around hers was slowly driving Tommy to madness. Tonight, to add to his pain and suffering, he can make out just a hint of her purple thong peeking out from her jeans.

"... the Alliance covert operations team closed in on the Ship Yards of Orion. By that time the Senate feared the Supreme Chancellor was..."

As close to the edge of sanity as Tommy was, the very second Kim gently nibbled her bottom lip sent his rational side off to the Bermuda Triangle, where it would never be found again. Stepping between the Supreme Chancellor and Kimberly, he said, "With all due respect, sir. Kim and I have to check in with Zordon ASAP. I'm sorry to cut your amazing story short, but this cannot wait a moment longer. We! Have! To! Go! Now!" Oh yeah, he could hear Kim snicker behind him and did not care.

"Oh, it's no trouble at all," Grissom declared apologetically, backing away from the duo. "I could use an hour or so of shuteye myself before the media hunt begins. You two go ahead and get some..." They ducked inside their room so fast the Supreme Chancellor could not even finish his goodbye. Then came the loud hard thump he heard on the other side of the door. Scratching his head, he turned and walked away. "Earthlings," he mumbled under his breath.

Unleashed at long last, the ravenous animal inside Tommy leapt at Kimberly the second he slammed the door shut behind them, then shoved her up against it. The aching need for her within his eyes made her whole body shake. His strong arms circled her petite waist, hoisting her slim physique high on his hips, her body pressed hard to the door and his own.

The kiss Tommy devoured her soft lips with conveyed such hunger Kimberly turned liquid that very second, her legs locking tight around his waist, ankles locking thereafter. The thick bulge of his erection pressed into her so rough she whined softly, grinding her hips into the deliriously sensual contact. He coaxed her lips apart, as their tongues danced together. Her arms wrapped around his neck, her fingers wrenching handfuls of his hair as the heat they generated threatened to burn their clothes off.

They just couldn't stop kissing.

Loud gasping sounds escaped Kimberly's throat when Tommy's lips assaulted her senses via her neck, biting and nibbling as he held her so tight to his chest, pressing her high against the door. "Rocky didn't kiss me as... God, nearly as good as you."

The woman he loves is such a tease. "Remind me to kill him later," Tommy managed to whimper around her ear in his mouth.

"You know I was kidding, right? I saw our teleportation beacon flashing the second before I said it."

"You just saved his life." With her body pressed between his and the door, he allowed just enough room for her hands to dig in his jeans, ghosting past his erection for a tortuous second to rip his shirt up and over his head. "We work great together as a team."

Kim ended all hopes of a conversation when she sucked his tongue in her mouth, causing another part of his anatomy to throb with envy. The ability he has to tear away any pretenses that she could ever resist him astounds her. No matter. This is her man and she intends to claim him here and now, even if it's against this door... or the floor... the chair in the corner... Lord knows how they will possibly make it to the bed.


End of Flashback


Three miles from the home of John and Helen Oliver

1734 West End

Friday, April 22, 2005 8:30 PM Stone Canyon, Ca

"After the Pan Global games I moved down to Orlando, Florida and enrolled at the International Academy of Design and Technology," Kimberly related her life post-gymnastics by Tommy's side on the love seat. After dinner they moved their conversation to the living room. "While working in a book store near campus, I earned my bachelor's degree in interior design. When I graduated I moved again and got a job at Miami Interior Design for a year before relocating back to California."

"So what brought you back home?" Helen asked.

"A out-of-the-blue job connection from a friend of mine that graduated a year before I did. Carol's uncle is a partner at Dean Thomas Design. My friend sent my resume and some of my work, as well as put in a good word for me, and I was offered a job."

"Good connections are so important these days," Tommy added.

"Interior design." John Oliver considered with a note of pride beamed in Kim's direction. "I remember how hard you worked on building that float when you were in high school. You worked on that for weeks. Tommy talked about it all the time. I'm not to surprised your creative side expressed itself into a career."

"Thank you. It was either that or continue teaching gymnastics. And while I love the sport, it just didn't pay the bills."

"Kim, I remember the night we all watched you win the Silver medal at the Pan Globals," Helen recalled before taking a sip of her apple cider tea. "We were beside ourselves. John and I were glued to the television screens." Sparing a glance her sons way, she noticed his somewhat shy mood. "Tommy was pacing back and forth all evening. He couldn't sit still."

She's wondered if he watched the event, or avoided it like the plague. For the longest time she feared he never wanted her name mentioned in his presence. And now she knows that even with their breakup, there was still a part of him still rooting for her. Still cheering her on. She gently poked her boyfriend in the side. "You never told me you watched."

"I never told anyone," Tommy confided as the memories of yesteryear came back to him. "The next day I acted as if I didn't. Aisha told me you won and I just shrugged and said good for Kim."

"But you still watched."

"It was your dream," he pointed out, his arm around her shoulder, holding her closer. "No matter what happened between us, I wanted you to accomplish your dream. I had to see it, even though I tried not too."

Watching them again has Helen as hopeful for her sons love life as she's been since... well, honestly, since Kim all those years ago. "Tommy was so proud of you. He didn't say a word that whole night, but he smiled when you won your medal."

Tommy's a little bashful all of a sudden. A quality Kim finds so endearing. Taking a long, deep breath, she just had to say, "I'm still surprised we're even sitting here talking and everything." Her thoughts weren't verbalized quite as she intended, but the sentiment was understood.

"Time has a funny way of working things out that ought to be," John shared a sliver of wisdom. "Helen and I felt that you two had such a strong connection even as teenagers. We always hoped for you two. But even if you weren't together, Kim, I hope you never thought Helen or I thought badly of you."

"We never did, honey," Helen assured her. "Teenage relationships break up all the time and we weren't about to hold a grudge. Everyone gets their heart broken at one time or another."

"I know, it's just the way Tommy and I broke up. That letter I sent was..."

Helen would hear nothing of it. "Kim, stop. You were seventeen. We told Tommy to get over it and move on. He did, same as you. Now it seems fate has brought you back together again. So maybe this was the way things were supposed to work out all along. Maybe back then wasn't the right time for you to be together, and now is. Both of you had to grow up and you obviously have." Kim's appreciative smiled warmed her heart.

"My sons so quiet over there," John just had to gently tease, enjoying his sons discomfort. "He's never been one for emotional conversations."

Tommy's less than thankful glare he sent his fathers way was vastly ignored by the elder Oliver. "I never expected," he paused. The soft feel of Kimberly's fingers twining with his grew a swell of tenderness in his chest. "I've been lonely for a while now," he confessed not so loud at all to the surprise of everyone in the room. "And at some point I think I just got used to it. I threw myself in my work and that was that. Then Kim came back into our circle of friends and I didn't know what to say or do, so I didn't say or do anything. And now..." His eyes revere her dearly, as the most precious part of his life. "I'm happy. She makes me very happy."

Simple as the man who said those beloved words. He's not a poet. Would never be, not that Kimberly ever needed or wanted one. He's only the love of her life. "You make me happy too."

They're quiet a pair, her son and this wonderful young woman. Sincerely in love, as clear as night and day. Helen could only smile, touching John's hand as they enjoyed a parents most fond wish. Their child's happiness. After a moment the need to break this up with a moment of levity was too good an opportunity to pass up. "So. Grandkids. How soon and how many?" Helen inquired in a perfectly serious, calm tone as Tommy and Kim's faces took on a hilarious deer-in-headlights expression of shock. John burst out laughing first, followed by her. "I'm kidding, guys. Come on. Breathe, okay." Blushing, her son and his lady love sat a little closer, having been thoroughly taken by her joke.

"Now that we have your attention," John said. "Care to clue us in on why you ditched our breakfast date this morning too? Did another pipe burst?"

"We had an argument," Tommy replied somewhat nervously while Kim curiously ducked her head next to him. "It got pretty heated."


Flashback


The Sun of the Balaxian Star System

50 Light Years from Earth

Friday, April 22, 2005 9:30 AM

A Sun is the most prominent feature in any solar system. It is often the largest object and can contain the vast amount of the total solar system mass. One hundred and nine Earths would be required to fit across a Sun's disk, and its interior could hold over 1.3 million Earths. A Sun's outer visible layer is called the photosphere and has a temperature of 6,000°C (11,000°F). This layer has a mottled appearance due to the turbulent eruptions of energy at the surface.

It is alive, in every sense of the word. In every sense of reality. It is necessary, no matter the solar system one is found in. It is vital to existence, period.

Solar energy is created deep within the core of a Sun. It is here that the temperature (15,000,000° C; 27,000,000° F) and pressure (340 billion times Earth's air pressure at sea level) is so intense that nuclear reactions take place. Explosions of unimaginable force occur often. Flares of roaring solar fire arching higher than the heavens themselves.

A Sun is near immortal. Some races in the galaxy worship it. Others fear it. None fully understand it.

The Sun of the Balaxian Star System appears to have been active for 6.6 billion years and was supposed to have enough fuel to go on for another three billion years or so. At the end of its life, the Sun will start to fuse helium into heavier elements and begin to swell up, ultimately growing so large that it will swallow nearly all of the thirteen worlds within it's vast reach. After a billion years as a red giant, it will suddenly collapse into a white dwarf. The final end product of a star like ours. It may take a trillion years to cool off completely.

This sun will never reach that point. This sun is collapsing in on itself due to a horrible chain of events sparked by a civil war between the Revers Clan and the Hyecke Empire. The warring planets each sought to harness the power of the sun using technology and sorcery. Each aided in the demise of their entire civilization. Attempting to control a force of nature was in fact, impossible.

The five dead moons of Javelin-5 were testament to that. Seventeen million Javelians lives lost to a gravitational force wave the likes of which the galaxy had never seen before

Only hours after the celebration of the safe return of Supreme Chancellor Grissom, the Galatic Senate were informed of the cover-up taking place in the Balaxian Star System. The Sun had been overheating for weeks, it's state hidden by the once-warring worlds now joined together in a desperate attempt to save themselves. Often times the worst had to happen before peace could be seen clearly. Yet there was no peace to be found amongst the rocky remains of the dead moons. An all-out extreme distress plea was sent as an immediate evacuation was needed.

No one and nothing could ever evacuate thirteen worlds in a matter of hours. Such a feat was impossible. And yet, good people will still try to save lives that their governments doomed themselves.

Nineteen X-Class Galatic Alliance Battle Cruisers, fifty Ch'arken Warbirds, seventy Gomerian freighters, and four hundred Averal Rescue Ships worked in tandem with the Power Rangers in a desperate attempt to evacuate as many civilians as possible from the thirteen worlds. More than a thousand ships from across the galaxy were on their way. Some capable of mass-teleportation over long distances.

At that very moment an even more desperate mission was being undertaken by the two best pilots in the galaxy.

One that will more than likely cost them their lives.

Flying into a Sun is unfathomable. And yet, Zordon has made the unfathomable happen more times than not. What he was asked to do in four short hours was and is impossible. Then again, the Power Rangers are all about doing the impossible.

"BANK LEFT NOW!" Tommy yelled into his com-link, doing the same as he piloted the White Falcon Zord around a humongous solar explosion near the inner core of the sun. Raging, warping heat effects cast near hypnotic shades before him as the Purple Eagle Zord flew on his right flank. His heart's pounding. "You alright?"

"Toasty, but I'm okay," Kim reported into her com-link. The Quasar-shaded hub of her cockpit offered the best possible protection from the blistering radiation. As if a universe of burnt orange surrounded them, the sheer violence of the cataclysmic fire storms shook her to the core. "We have exactly fourteen minutes before this sun explodes."

"So at best we need to pull outta here in twelve."

"If we do, we're signing the death warrants of sixty nine billion people."

"Then let's not fail. Descend!" Angling the White Falcon Zord downward, the entire ship shook violently from the gravitational pull, rattling the entire Zord. The added heat painting and assorted shielding attached to both Zords were the most technologically advanced in the universe, teleported in by the Galatic Council's Chief Scientists. The Zords were using experimental armor plating for the very first time, under the most harsh conditions.

Their mission was simple, even as it was nearly unthinkable they could accomplish it. Their Zords were teleported forty percent inside the sun by the lead Galactic Alliance Battle Cruiser, the "Admiral.' They were teleported as far as the solar radiation of the Sun would allow without reassembling their atoms wrong. Carrying five Vycom warheads each, the energy within them theoretically could cause the burn out in the Sun that time would have normally provided, cooling the sun down. The entire process would last years, but allow more than enough time to safety evacuate the planets in this solar system.

Theoretically, mind you.

Bluish-white afterburner trails blazed behind the Falcon and Eagle Zords engines as they weaved through gusts of solar fire bursts, dodging explosive eruptions, fast-moving streams of hot plasma, flows of electrically charged gas converging into a gigantic vortex all around them. Flying past immensely powerful, downward flows of plasma traveling toward the interior of the sun at speeds of about 3,000 miles per hour felt biblical in nature.

Regions of intense magnetic fields all have the same polarity, either positive or negative. The twin terrors rippled and pulled their Zords off-course, forcing them to concentrate with absolute focus, eyes alert, seeking the very core of a Sun itself. Bright orange bursts of radioactive flame kept them utilizing all of their flying skills as they burned their augmented engines full speed ahead.

They've never, ever flown this fast before.

Tommy's eyes darted from his onboard console to the darkest part of the Sun, it's inner core. "The temperature's reaching critical faster than we anticipated."

Quickly checking her sensors, Kim swore under her breath. "We have to launch those warheads earlier than we planned. We can't wait."

"That won't help accuracy."

"At this point we're outta options. It's bad enough we have to attempt a hyperspace jump from inside the sun. That alone will be a first."

"Theoretically, Billy said we should survive it."

"Uh huh."

"You know I love you, right?"

"Always. Same here."

"Good." That was as close to a goodbye as they'd ever share. Tommy added no more, diving his the Falcon Zord through coils of hot, electrified gas, known as coronal loops. The loops rise while flowing along the solar magnetic field, then cool and crash back to the surface at more than 60 miles per second. He banked hard and to the left to escape the eruptions of soaring flames fanning nearly miles in height. Kim's as close to him as she can fly, in tandem as always. He's sweating inside his Ranger suit. Something that's never happened before. The Falcon Zords heat gauges are all in the red. Not a good sign and it's only going to get worse. "Five minutes to go, Kim. Better get into position."

"My navigational computer is pre-set. I'm ready." Piloting her Eagle Zord into the deep interior of the Sun, the magnetic cluster resembles a loose, spaghetti-like structure that allows plasma to flow through it, causing her to make hard, fast cuts to survive.

Flying off and away from the Falcon Zord, Kim pushed the augmented engines of her Zord to their very limits, needing at least three miles distance from Tommy. A twin burst of Vycom energy just might set off the needed chain reaction to send this sun into the great beyond. Outside of that, they're dead. Period. No hope of rescue. "Tommy, you're so hot."

"No time for jokes, Kim."

"No, I mean it. Your left wing is on fire. The graphite shielding must have gotten hit by one of the flares. You need to pull out now and make your jump."

Red alert sensor alarms blared inside his cockpit, proving her point. "If I fire now I might miss at this distance. We don't know if you have enough warheads to set this thing off by yourself."

"I won't know until I launch mine. I'm two minutes away from being in position."

"Kim, I want to save lives every bit as much as you do. But we knew this was a long shot from the jump. Billy said if he and Zordon had weeks to research this it would still be a long shot."

"What if I can do this, Tommy? I can't back out now."

His controls were turning shakier by the second, making it more difficult for him to steer as the eruptions intensified nearer the suns core. Volcanic-like bursts rocked his ship side to side, and with that damaged wing he knows he won't make it to where they need to go. Leaving her alone, in his eyes, is not an option. Not now and not ever. "Kim, we have to abort."

"No way. I have to launch my... to close... hyperspace out of here..."

"Kim! ... Kim!" Her com-links breaking up. Further evidence that as they get closer to the core they're going to lose communications entirely. "FIRE NOW AND JUMP!" he yelled into his com-link. The Purple Eagle Zord wasn't slowing down in the least, but picking up speed as Kim moved into position. "DAMMIT, KIM!" Vectoring in the necessary coordinates, Tommy fired all six of his warheads in succession, watching as the vapor trails flew past the Purple Eagle Zord, which did not fire it's warheads yet. "KIM FIRE NOW! WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE! KIM!"

Hearing bits and pieces of his orders did not deter her. If anything, a small part of her enjoyed slipping into his overly heroic shoes for once. She thought of countless civilizations in ruin, and more importantly, billions of lives lost in the worst catastrophe the universe would ever experience if they failed. The depressing heat's consuming her cockpit, suddenly making it harder for her to see clear ahead. Her engines are overheating, and the darkness is settling in around her as she flew towards to the core. Desperate for even a glance of him, the Falcon Zord couldn't be seen anymore. If Tommy's not already dead, he's royally pissed at her. She knew worrying would only lead her to madness, so she focused on her task. One more minute and she could fire her warheads and...

Suddenly her Zords spiraling sideways, having flown directly into a gusting solar flare. Her controls aren't responding and she's upside down. Her Zord is literally being shaken apart, twisted by shock waves. Her engines are working on half power at best. Nonetheless, she manages to fire her warheads straight away... witnessing their explosive detonation as things turned blurry... as the heat threatened to claim her. Holding on to the last of her wits, Kim managed to turn her ship upright again, but her engines weren't strong enough to get her high enough to Hyperspace jump. She's fading fast, with the eruptions coming quicker and more powerful all around her...

... then came the blackness... and the Falcon Zord.


End of Flashback


The home of John and Helen Oliver

1734 West End

Fiday, April 22, 2005 9:00 PM Stone Canyon, Ca

"Let me make sure I understand this. We were ditched a second time in 24 hours over a lovers spat?" John questioned the duo affectionately enough.

"It wasn't a spat," Tommy corrected him, shaking his head the whole while. "And who uses the word spat anymore?" he teased his father, who took it with a shrug and a laugh.

Hoping her eyes weren't deceiving her, Helen gently prodded, "So I assume things are better now?"

"Yes." Kimberly assured her, holding onto Tommy's hand over her shoulder. "Our personalities butt heads sometimes. Our friends call us hard-headed," she told them, much to their amusement. Tilting her head towards her love, she sighed happily. "There are times that Tommy has to remember I've taken good care of myself for years now. And that I make my own decisions."

"Kimberly could also take into account the feelings and consequences others face due to her decisions." Accepting the moment for what it was, they looked into each others eyes with the hint of sweet smirk gently tugging at their lips.

"As long as you two are past it," Helen hoped out loud, and felt that it was. "That's all that matters. John and I have fought hundreds of times over the years, but we always reach a common ground of understanding."

Never mind the wise words of wisdom from a respected woman, Kim couldn't help but to squeeze Tommy's fingers as Helen rambled on with sage advice on couples and disagreements. After verbally tearing into each other, her and Tommy 'came' to an understanding over their argument. Honestly, they mostly just ca... ahem.

"When Helen and I were fresh out of college, we found and moved in our first apartment. Believe it or not, we argued non-stop for the longest time over the color of the curtains in the living room."

His fathers tales of yesteryear were only background noise as Tommy thought over the word 'non-stop,' and how he and Kim pushed past their issues in a most aggressively pleasurable way. He's suddenly a bit hot under the collar.

"Communication and respect are the keys to a lasting relationship."

Helen made perfectly good sense. Kim nodded at the appreciate times. She's appreciative of the Oliver's advice, but even in the short time her and Tommy have been back together, she knows they won't be like most couples. There's is a rhythm original, and like none other. Equals in all ways, and yet opposites in others. Sometimes they didn't make sense to each other, but that was okay. They're in love and however they find their way... however different it might be than others, they'll be satisfied in the end. As far as their argument was concerned, anger led them down a road they glorified in body and spirit.

"Well, one things for sure," John alluded to. "However, you two worked things out in your relationship, it seems to be a success."

"Yeah, I think we hammered out all of our differences," Kim offered carefully and precisely, leaning into Tommy's side, who looked away, not able to face his parents with the passionate images of just how he and Kim settled their differences floating around in his head.


Flashback

The Command Center

Outside of Tommy's bedroom Floor 9

Friday, April 22, 2005 1:00 PM Angel Grove, Ca

When exhaustion should have led her to the nearest bed for some much needed and well deserved rest, a quiet rising of anger sent Kimberly stalking out of her quarters on a mission of claiming her respect, even if she had to choke it out of her boyfriend.

The Purple Ranger will not be denied what is owed to her. Not now and not ever.

Nearly two hours ago she woke from unconsciousness, and found herself nestled in Tommy's protective embrace. She was turned half sideways on his lap, with her hip pressed into the arm rest. The single-seat cockpit of the Falcon Zord wasn't built for comfort, much less two people. Never mind that. She's alive and so was Tommy. That was cause for celebration enough alone.

Recalling her last minute rescue, she remembers blinking a few times before her vision cleared. The swirling pale blue clouds of hyperspace expanded across the entire glass hub of the Falcon Zord, with the other Ranger's Zords flying just behind their leader in formation. Her Purple Eagle Zord was nowhere to be seen. Her memory was a bit sketchy, but she can put two and two together just fine. From the day Zordon and Alpha designed the Purple Eagle Zord specifically for her, it's sleek architecture and blazing speed caused her to fall in love with it before she even flew it. A part of her grieved the machine, and yet, it is only just that. A machine.

They'll build her a new one. They always do.

Smiling after a calming deep breath in Tommy's arms, she imagined the look on Billy's face when she requested her next Zord come with a six disk CD player and a vanity mirror. If she's going to save the galaxy she might as well look good doing it, and have some rocking tunes along for the ride.

Despite the obvious success of their mission and the lives saved, her pleasant mood died the second Tommy's sullen scowl accompanied the first words he said to her since she regained consciousness. Talking to her in a even, emotionless tone of voice, he informed her that their mission was a complete success. The suns imploding as expected, and the process will take nearly three whole years. More than enough time for the planets to evacuate. All but one of her missiles hit their target dead-on. He asked her how she was feeling, and when she confirmed she was fine except for feeling cramped in his cockpit, he said no more for the rest of the ride back to Earth.

Thankfully, thirty minutes in hyperspace was all it took.

By the time they passed the Moon, Kim had more than enough of her boyfriends apparent freeze-out. His juvenile way of handling his frustration towards her only intensified her own towards him.

Knowing when she wasn't wanted, Kimberly shot out of the Falcon Zords cockpit as soon as Tommy landed. Whatever attitude he was giving her, she had equal ready in return. The tension between them was thick as humid air on a sweltering day. Especially when Tommy walked right past her out of the hanger without saying a single word in front of everyone.

He's pissed. As far as she was concerned, he could join the damn club.

Zordon's post-mission briefing saw more of the same, with neither of them even acknowledging the others presence in the room as they detailed what had happened. After Kimberly blacked out, Tommy somehow flew close enough to her crashing Zord and teleported her into his cockpit before the Eagle Zord exploded. He rocketed as far away from the suns core as he could. Luckily, the Galatic Alliance Cruiser 'Glory' had patrolled as close to the sun as possible and picked up on the Falcon Zords energy signature. They teleported the Zord into nearby space, allowing Tommy to join up with the rest of the Rangers and begin the trek home.

Tommy and Kim addressed Zordon and Alpha, not each other. From across the table not even a glance was exchanged. No one made mention of this, not even in the form of a joke. Then again, after Trini and Jason's heated public argument a few days ago provided the Command Center's drama quotient for the month, no one wanted a repeat of that.

Rangers knew how to mind their own business.

As soon as Zordon dismissed the team, Tommy hastily exited the briefing room in one direction. Kim, the other. Neither even looked in the others direction. As hurt as Kimberly's feelings were, her anger burned hotter as time past. No apology or congratulations were coming forth. Even after a long soothing bath, and changing into her casual clothes, she couldn't unwind. She's restless. Though slow to anger, once she was taken there, all bets were off. There are many things she can brush off her shoulders as no big deal. But not now and never disrespect.

What she has earned, she will take less than from no one.

That was Kim's primary thought as her destination drew closer. Turning the corner that led to Tommy's quarters, she stopped in the middle of the hall, exhaling a deep calming breath so that as soon as the door opened she didn't slap him. Sometimes a woman needed to do that.

Wearing a lavender cotton Eyelet summer blouse, with it's cap sleeves and a very fitted, curve enhancing bodice, further complimented by a deep V neckline with four button placket closure. Sexy and light for the good weather today. Her short black double layer Italian skirt was meant to ignite a fire in Tommy's eyes when he saw her. Now all she wants to do is take her shoes off and throw them at him.

And she knows he's just as mad at her. More so, knowing him. It's funny how those you love the most can make you angrier than anyone else.

Upon reaching his door, she thought of knocking, then shrugged that idea away. She's his lover. Screw the knocking. Kim barged in as if she owned the place as surely as she did the man, slamming the door behind her. She found Tommy standing in the entryway between his living room and kitchen. Arms crossed, wearing a white dress shirt he usually wore for work, completely unbuttoned to reveal his toned abs. The loose fit jeans hung so nicely on his physique that if she didn't want to take his head off she'd take him right there on the floor. His hair's wild and untamed. Fresh out the shower. She could only imagine how good the scent of his skin smelled.

Her appraising thoughts aside, Kim slowly ran her fingers over the top of his couch, her eyes locked dead onto his. The thin line between love and hate was about to be tested. "If you have something to say to me, then say it. But I don't deserve the fucking silent treatment like I'm some child. I will not be ignored."

The tight set of her jaw combined with the stone-cold expression she wore clearly told Tommy she wasn't playing games. Beautiful, as always, and three times that when she's furious with him. He's not even a little surprised she walked right into his quarters, hands on her slender hips, practically snarling. She's defiant in the face of his sheer hostility. A lioness ready to pounce. "You disobeyed orders today and could have gotten yourself killed. You fucked up."

"It's my life, Tommy," she declared with a note of venom, forcing her will upon him. "My risks. My way. Tough shit if you don't like it."

A deeply set crease settled over his forehead. "We agreed on a plan, Kim. You went off half-cocked. I could have died saving your life."

Tense, dark emotions fluttered over the features of her lovely face. How could he say those things to her? Him, of all people. "You have some nerve," she accused angrily, shaking her head in frustration. "You never follow the plan. How many times has Zordon reprimanded you over the years? How many times has he called you out in front of the whole team for your reckless behavior? How many times have your friends forgiven you for some of the things you've done," she dared him to rebut. Suddenly, he couldn't look her way. "You don't have the right to throw today in my face when you do it all the time." she vehemently reminded him. "We are Rangers. We save lives. It's what we do. How are you any different?"

Grimacing, as the possibility of what could have happened to her grew like a knot in his stomach, Tommy felt a swirl of turmoil around him as he carefully walked into the living room, but not towards her. They methodically circled one another like gladiators, each waiting for the other to strike first. "It's simple, Kim. I'm the leader. My team. My rules."

Resentment swelled within her. "How dare you pull rank?"

"How dare I pull rank?" he repeated her words angrily. "Let me remind you that when you went off to chase your medal in Florida I was still saving the galaxy on a regular basis. I have the authority."

"I believe the Rangers save the galaxy as a team. Or am I mistaken and you do it all on your own while we're asleep at night?"

He'd call her a bitch if he thought she wouldn't knock him into the middle of next week. "The point is, you didn't follow the plan," he seethed through gritted teeth.

"The point is, I risked my life to save billions today. I did my job, same as you. Now I'm starting to wonder if this is about me, or the fact that you weren't the hero for once."

That she would even consider that greatly insulted him. "I'm not ego-tripping."

"Since when, Tommy? It's part of who you are. We've all come to accept it."

Fire surged through his veins when he closed the distance between them in two long strides, forcing her into the corner of the room. He had to clench his fist to not grab her. "What was I supposed to do if you died?" his voice strained with uncaged emotion, his eyes sadly vacant. He's shaking...

The air around them felt heavy with tension, weighing them down under it's force. For some strange reason, Kim felt like she could feel time itself ticking down towards an unknown hour of desperate truth. "Live for both of us if the worst happened."

Barely above a whisper, he bitterly confessed, "Not good enough."

"That's life, Tommy. Deal," she sighed in the face of his moody stare.

"How can you say that now, with where we are?"

At last, he's revealed himself, and what this is all about. Alas, her anger hasn't been appeased just yet. "Becasue our personal lives have no bearing on our job as Rangers, and the day it does, we need to turn our morphers in and walk away."

Towering over her, he's so close his shadow eclipsed her. She's defiant in the face of his attempt to intimidate. She's utterly gorgeous beyond words. She's the very air he breathes. "We're teammates, Kim. Today you threw that all of that away."

Her inner conflict threatened to crush them both. Backed into a corner, her back's to the wall, literally. He's a step away from rage... primal, heated rage. She can feel it all over her body. Feel the scorching zenith approaching. "You have some nerve giving me all this grief with some of the crazy stunts you've pulled over the years. You're the poster boy for reckless behavior. And if it was Jason or Adam that did what I did today you'd be patting them on the back and probably throwing them a beer."

"So I'm sexist all of a sudden?"

"Well, since you don't fuck Jason or Adam, I guess you are."

"Since I do fuck you, what else does that make me?"

"A hypocrite. And a jerk."

A tentative step closer to her. Their fiery dance drawing to a deafening close as their anger threatened to crest at last. "You should have abandoned the mission and left with me. Instead, you disobeyed orders and almost cost me my life when I had to come back and save yours."

Despite the spiky tremors that trickled down her spine at the mere thought of his life lost from hers, the red she saw clouded her vision. She can feel the warmth of his breath on her face. That's how close he is. "I didn't do anything you haven't done a thousand times."

"Is this your way of making a point?" he questioned her. Her mouth was expressionless, and betrayed no hint of her storming inner thoughts. "Being a bad example doesn't prove you're right."

"YOU'RE A FUCKING HYPOCRITE!" she shouted in his face, shuddering with such anger at him she could barely catch her breath.

"TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE!" he shouted right back, a step closer to hell. Until he could feel the very heat from her body warning him not to get to close... while begging him to come closer.

"YOU WERE AFRAID AND YOU'RE TO DAMN PIG-HEADED TO ADMIT IT!"

"YOU COULD HAVE DIED OUT THERE!"

"IT'S MY JOB, TOMMY!"

"THINGS ARE DIFFERENT NOW! I CAN'T LOSE YOU!"

"THEY'RE NOT SO DIFFERENT THAT I DON'T DESERVE YOUR RESPECT!"

"YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!"

"MAKE ME UNDERSTAND!"

Thus began the storm...

Without warning, Tommy wrenched Kim flush to his chest. His mouth attacked hers, and she gasped just as his lips devoured her mouth, hungrily inhaling the very breath from her lungs. Kim was pressing against his chest with her hands, struggling to free herself, but the desire to surrender was stronger than her will to resist.

Relentless fingers groped at her body, slipping from around her waist down past her skirt, then underneath, cupping and kneading her firm backside through her panties with his strong hands. He backed her into the wall, bracing her there, dominating her personal space. When her body began responding with desire for him, she resisted again, pushing him away with newfound strength. She tore her lips from his, sucking in gulps of air.

They stared hauntingly at each other, unable to speak...

He didn't release her, crushing her breasts into his chest, taking her mouth again, kissing her deeply, toying with her dueling tongue.

Kimberly whimpered softly against his lips. Her half-hearted struggle finally gave way to kissing him as strongly as he kissed her. She fought, without resisting, this angry passion. Her desire became this craving deep inside. She's spellbound, wanton, and aching to fight him as badly as to be filled by him to bursting.

Tommy feasted on the lushness of her soft mouth, all while using his superior height to hook his thumbs inside her panties. He relinquished with agony her kiss to drag her panties down and off her ankles, then recaptured her lips as her small hands went to work on his jeans. Unquenchable, groaning kisses echoed around them until her body quivered like a live wire when her hand wrapped around his hard throbbing erection. He bit at her lips. So hard were his kisses, as his knees buckled slightly. His jeans dropped down around his ankles, courtesy of her free hand.

A heartbeat of a moment later, he got them off, kicking them away. Her skirt followed next.

"God..." Kim hissed through gritted teeth when she found herself hoisted up against the wall, braced between it and his chest. She knew what he wanted. What he craved. What only she could give to him, and she reveled it. Thrived and loved and ate it because it was her he wanted for all time. Only her. His addiction. His savior.

His forever.


End of Flashback
Kim's apartment

37 West End 1734 West End

Friday, April 22, 2005 11:35 PM Angel Grove, Ca

Finally, at the end of a emotionally, physically, erotically charged day, has come to a quiet, peaceful end.

Enjoying the brief alone time before Kimberly gets out of the shower, Tommy relaxed on her new bed, eyes shut to the world, resting his tired body at long last. He's smiling, you see. Smiling without even trying. Simply satisfied with the world around him, the woman he loves, and this warm, cozy apartment that feels like home.

Wherever Kimberly is, that is home for Tommy Oliver.

This very attractive, traditionally styled Ardisonne bed featured fully-reeded cherry posts accented by a beautiful Old Silver metal head. Truthfully, it's the most beautiful bed he's ever seen. Huge in size. So comfortable, and classy. Similar to it's owner in grace. Her bedroom styled in lavender did more than announce the Purple Ranger slept here. It was an extension of her creativity.

Her furnishings were in classic European designs and wood finishes. She choose rich wall hangings, adding a couple of formal botanicals and a mirror in fine oak frames. Her nightstand's cluttered with wood finished picture frames of her family and friends. Lying on his side, Tommy gazed at them for a long time, wishing he knew her every reason for choosing the pictures she did. His girl had had a flair for style, and a better than most sense of humor.

A few of the pictures called out to him, as if begging to tell their story.

There's one of Kimberly and her mom standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, no doubt taken on her trip to see her mom a little over a year ago. Kim's luminous smile captured Tommy's soul. Seeing her wearing her hair a bit longer than usual, as the years past she began to favor her mom more. Hearing that they patched up their differences was good news indeed. Though close to her dad, she's much more closer to her mom.

Speaking of her father, Tommy saw his picture arranged next to one of her brother. It's been so long since Kim's seen him, and she's discussed taking a trip to North Carolina where he lives this summer. The time off would be good, and Tommy knew accompanying her would be fun. She'd see her brother, and he'd be with her. A win-win situation all the way around.

Family is so important these days. Especially as they got older. The death of Katherine's father nearly a year ago due to a sudden heart attack left all of the Rangers shaken, supportive, and a little more conscious of life not being promised to anyone.

Five other frames held pictures of the Rangers. One was of Kim, Jason, Zach, Trini, and Billy. The original five, taken outside the Juice Bar when they were probably in the eighth grade. When did they ever look so young? Or so dorky, Tommy thought with a smile. Trini's long hair was almost all the way down her back. Billy had braces and the worst pair of glasses ever. Jason looked so thin. It would be a year later before an interest in weight lifting began. Zack was mugging for the camera, ever the attention grabber.

Standing next to them all, Kimberly appeared so short Tommy could only shake his head. Dressed in blue jean overalls and a pink T-shirt, no doubt fates way of predicting her future, in his eyes she was cuter than any girl that age had a right to be. The love of his life before she met him, when her heart belonged to whoever she was crushing on at the time. She smiled so wide and carefree, years before war and violence and pain would ever touch her. Reaching out, Tommy brushed the picture with his fingertips, as if he could catch a faint trace of her innocence once upon a time.

Then there's the picture of Kim, Trini, Tanya, Aisha, and Katherine drunk out of their minds and grinning so wide their faces had to hurt. Aisha took the picture at her apartment on a 'Ladies Night,' which consisted of drinking, eating pizza, gossiping, and watching 'Lost.' Many, many Vodka shots later, as Kim told her not long ago, they were so giggly drunk they all ended up sleeping on Aisha's living room floor that night. The picture's priceless, and a welcome reminder not to take life to seriously.

The two nearest to her bed, facing the side she sleeps on, are of him and them together. Adam's sudden interest in photography had him shooting a batch of black and white photos for a college course he's taking. He took one of the Power Ranger's leader standing on top of the Command Centers rooftop just before sundown. Demorphed, Tommy was looking out over the nearby mountains. He wore a serene expression on his face, as if the world was tough, but not so tough that life wasn't worth living. Tommy remembered he was thinking about a child he saved from a burning building that he had just been told would live, despite some smoke inhalation and minor burns. After a long, weary day, he had something to hold onto that was good.

Kimberly told him that's her all-time favorite picture. She said he looked heroic and humble in it. Taken four months ago.

The last picture, facing closest to her bed was of them kissing next to a Pac Man arcade machine at the Cinemark Movie Theater five days ago. Trini, with her super phone cam, augmented by a little of Billy's homemade technology, took a digital picture of amazing quality and definition. So simple a shot, of them simply kissing, holding onto one another, leaning against a arcade machine. Tommy recalled her tongue tasted grape, like the lollipop she was sucking on a few minutes earlier. Oh how he'd been jealous of that lollipop.

First and last, from her morning to her last hour before sleep, they were on her mind. Tommy couldn't think of a nicer way to begin or end a day.

Her quiet steps stalled at the entrance of her bedroom, choosing to enjoy the sight of him waiting for her in bed rather than alert him to her presence just yet. Clad in a pair of cotton boxers, he's delicious beyond words, as her smile attests to. Having him here with her... with her finally, is a dream come true. Love, on a level she never knew existed. Pure, deeply meaningful love.

She's never felt richer in her entire life than she does at this very moment.

Tommy's not getting away this time. Grinning to herself, Kim wondered what his reaction would be if she got that printed on a T-shirt. "That picture you're staring at," she alerted him to her presence, enjoying his instant joyful glance. The man she loves is most happy to see her. "Did my tongue taste like grape that day?" she asked whimsically, watching him come to the foot of her bed, sitting with his feet on the floor.

"Yes, it did."

"Did you like it?"

"I kissed you for ten minutes straight. What does that tell you?"

"A few minutes earlier you were mad I wouldn't share my lollipop."

"Yeah, but I enjoyed watching you suck on it." Her sexy smirk never failed to win him over. Defying the urge of her Ranger color, she wore pale blue pajama's tonight. Comfortable and infinitely sexy becasue of who she was, not her attire. She walked toward him until she stood between his legs. Her hand rose to caress his cheek, soft and sweet as her touch ever was. "I'm sleepy," he yawned through a grin she shared. "Dinner went well."

She's so in love with this man she can't stop caressing his face. Her beloved. "Yeah. It turns out all my nerves were for nothing. I really enjoyed myself. And I adore your parents."

"They adore you."

"I adore their son even more." He leaned into her wrist, caught the scent of perfume she sprayed there, smiled at her, then kissed her slowly pulse. The years have changed the once shy, unsure boy into a man who knew how to be romantic. She'd thank whoever taught him this if she wasn't so jealous of that person. "We've had one hell of a last twenty-four hours."

"Yes, we have. Our crazy lives..."

"Our crazy lives," she repeated, running her fingers through his hair. He sighed happily, humbled by her tender care. "You ate all my chocolate chip ice cream."

Of course she'd bring that up. "You had like seven spoons left."

"That was still several spoonfuls that were mine."

"Are you going to punish me for my transgression?"

A little tug on the end of her hand and she's pulled into his lap. His strong arms encircled her, as his strength made her feel small and vulnerable and terribly aware of how good it felt to be held. Loving the affectionate expression she wore.

"Cause if you are, I might disappoint you tonight," he chuckled through another yawn, his sleepy eyes focused on her. She pressed a little kiss to his forehead, before nuzzling the side of his face.

"We'll talk about it tomorrow," she playfully promised him. "At least we can go to bed knowing the good guys won and we got a free dinner."

"I love how you can break down our day." Angling for approach, they kissed softly, briefly, reveling in the joy of being one again. "Aside from our drama today, did you see how tense Adam, Aisha, and Rocky were around each other before we all left the Command Center?"

"Sha didn't want to talk about it, but I know she's having a rough time. Adam's hurt because she's dating Rocky, and he's hurt she's so hurt over Adam's feelings."

"I think Rocky is worried Sha has feelings for Adam too." Kim appeared as if she knew more about this then she was letting on, and that was cool. She could have her secrets with her closest friends. It wasn't like he didn't have any either.

"It's a big ole soap opera at the Command Center these days."

If the public could see how the Rangers were behind closed doors, out of uniform, they'd be the number one reality show on television. "Jason's still denying he has feelings for Trini."

"No surprise there. She's doing the same. It's so obvious they're into each other. I want to smack them both upside their heads to make them wake up."

"Enough gossip talk, Beautiful." Tommy slipped her off his lap, then crawled back onto the bed with her. They moved under the thick warm covers, lying in each others arms again, their heads on the pillows. "I bet Jason gives in first."

"I thought you had enough of gossip talk?"

"I forgot."

"Figures," she teased at him, settling for another soft kiss. "I still think Trini will cave first."

"Really?"

"She's got it bad."

"I think you're wrong."

"Wanna bet?"

"Name the terms."

"Winner is served breakfast in bed for a week?"

"In the nude."

"Fine."

"Done." They shook hands under the covers, quietly laughing at the silliness of it all. Sighing pleasantly, Tommy drew slow circles over her back. He inhaled the scent of her hair as they snuggled close, breathing in this wonderful world of theirs. His eyes found her wall clock as it struck midnight. "It's anniversary time, Beautiful."

She laughed in his arms when she realized what he was talking about. "Ten whole days back together. We haven't killed each other yet," she yawned into his chest, smiling.

"Loving a height-challenged woman hasn't been easy."

"Loving a amnesia-challenged man isn't either."

"I still love you though. With all my heart."

"And I love you too. Happy anniversary, Handsome."

"Happy anniversary, Beautiful."

"Wanna have sex?"

"Nah."

"Me either."

"Good night."

"Night, Rocky."

"Funny, Kim. Real funny."


The End.

Next in the series, sometime in the near future "Shipwrecked"