Fading Dreams Disclaimer- "The Love is Gone" does not belong to me. It is the property of whoever wrote it for "A Muppet Christmas Carol." (Rent it. You'll get the tune, and it's a wonderful movie besides.) This short is rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Fading Dreams

The sun was shining brightly, as it usually did in Florida, but Kimberly Hart was in no mood to notice. Sunday was her one off-day in her almost obsessive practicing for the Pan-Globals, and she had intended to spend it out cavorting in the sun with her friends. But last night had been her weekly phone call to Tommy- God, she missed communicators. No long-distance bills- and she'd gone to bed in a deeply contemplative mood that had still been there when she awoke.

There was a time that I was sure
That you and I were truly one,
That our love would last forever
And would never come undone.

She'd spent the day going over her memories, of Tommy and of Angel Grove, and most especially of the wild and wonderful roller-coaster ride that had been her tenure as the first Pink Power Ranger of Earth. She'd loved every minute of it, the danger and the filth notwithstanding, just as she'd loved Tommy. With a sigh, Kim conceeded that those two things were firmly entangled in her mind, and always would be. Tommy had always been, for her, a symbol of Rangering; of its essence. Of its heart.
Tommy, her noble Green hero, risking life and limb to redeem himself from a crime that was never his. A lost and frightened man who had invited only herself and Jason into the real person, the person behind the mask.
Her White knight, a hero in shining armor- okay, spandex- who had led the team with courage and conviction, a man who had finally found peace with himself.
This had been the man Kimberly had loved, and she HAD loved him. With everything in her, and with a strength so great, it had seemed impossible that it would ever end.

And we came so close to being close,
And though you cared for me,
There's distance in your eyes tonight,
So we're not meant to be.

Kim looked at the picture on her dresser and sighed. It was the newest one- Rocky had sent it to her just after the changeover to Zeo, saying that she "ought to have some idea of how Tommy looked now that he wasn't going around in a stain magnet." The former Pink Ranger's mouth quirked slightly at the memory of some of the OTHER comments Rocky had made about the symbolism of Tommy's former color. Two or three in particular had turned Adam almost purple.
In a way, she supposed, the picture had started the train she was currently riding. Oh, Tommy looked as handsome as ever, his smile still that brilliant flash that was capable of stopping her heart and heating her blood to the boiling point. It was just… his eyes. They were distant, as if he was thinking about something else, something far more important than a girlfriend who was the width of a continent away.

The love is gone, the love is gone.
The sweetest dream that we have ever known.
The love is gone, the love is gone.
I wish you well, but I must leave you now alone.

Did Tommy even love her anymore? They still ended every phone call with the traditional words, but to her mind, they seemed perfunctory, a habit adhered to simply from reluctance to change. Reluctance… or maybe fear. Kim had no qualms about Tommy's fidelity to her. Even with a beautiful blonde like Kat at his side, she KNEW that Tommy would never betray her like that. After what Rita did to him, Tommy Oliver considered trust more precious than gold, and betrayal a crime like none other on Earth. No, Tommy would be faithful to her until he died, or the relationship did. But did he still LOVE her?
Did she still love him?

There comes a moment in your life,
Like a window and you see
Your future there before you
And how perfect life can be.

When Gunther Schmidt had chosen her to train for the Pan-Global Games, she'd been on top of the world. Her lifelong dream was coming true; it seemed as though she'd had everything she'd ever wanted. Even having to leave the Rangers seemed worth it- much as she loved the adventure, she knew Kat would do as good a job, if not better. And just because she was leaving the Rangers didn't mean she was leaving her friends. There were phones, and letters, and e-mail, (mainly with Billy,) so she could always keep in touch. And for a few months, it had seemed as if perfection was just within her grasp.
Last night's call, though, had been the final blow that sent the house of cards crashing down.

But adventure calls with unknown voices
Calling you away.

"Are you all right, Tommy? You sound tired."
"Just business, Kim. Mondo sent down a giant hairdryer. I thought of you, of course…" The grin was audible in his voice.
"But seriously, it was a toss-up between laughing our heads off, or getting our butts kicked. The thing was stupid-looking, but it was a real threat." He grunted. "You have no idea how much I miss Zedd and his animated lava lamps sometimes."
"I believe it. Listen, I might be getting a week off next month… I was thinking maybe I could come home for a visit?"
"That's great! We're all dying to see you again. I don't think I'm the only one considering sneak-teleporting to Florida."
Her tone was playfully chiding. "No using the powers for personal gain, remember."
"Yes, Mommy." On the other end of the line there was a familiar six-note-chime, as familiar to her as her own name. Tommy let out a muffled curse, in a language Kim was POSITIVE was not Earth-based.
"Kim, I gotta go… duty calls. You know how it is."
She did know, and so she let him go with complete understanding. It wasn't until she'd hung up the phone that she realized she'd finally lost him.

Be careful or you may regret
The choice you make someday,

She'd lost him to his first, strongest love, far more powerful than anything they had ever shared. Kat, with all her blonde beauty and giving heart, had never been a threat, but she'd lost Tommy to her rival anyway.
He loved the job-- he WAS the job. Being a Ranger was as necessary to him as breathing. And while she had loved it, she hadn't defined herself by it… and she'd always dimly considered the possibility that there would come a time when she couldn't do it anymore. For Tommy, such an idea was unthinkable.
Everything coming clear now, Kim let out a slightly bitter laugh. They'd been in competition for his heart all this time… and she had lost. She only hoped Tommy was strong enough not to let the job eat him alive, because in a way, she still loved him.

When love is gone, when love is gone.
The sweetest dream that we have ever known.
The love is gone, the love is gone.
I wish you well, but I must leave you now alone.

Kimberly Hart had never been one to refuse to face facts. Her relationship with Tommy was over, and probably had been for some time. They'd just both been too blind and stubborn to recognize the ruins of what they'd had, smouldering between them.
They were over. To continue would be a sham, a masquerade, and the deception would eventually eat them both alive. Tommy would never end it, she knew; for all his courage on the battlefield, some things were simply too frightening for him to face. Loneliness was one of them.

It was almost love.
It was almost always.
It was like a fairy tale we'd live out, you and I.

Kim fell back onto her bed, tears stinging in her eyes. She HAD loved him, with all the fire and passion a teenager could muster. Memories assailed her, of picnics and walks in the park, of being rescued by her gallant white knight and sometimes rescuing him in turn. Their love had been real and true, and incandescently bright, as only those who live constantly with the shadow of death can love. It had been a fairy tale, and that, perhaps, had been the problems. Fairy tales were all well enough in books, but real life was something else all together.

And yes, some dreams come true,
And yes, some dreams fall through,
And yes, the time has come for us to say goodbye.

She cried herself out, not trying to stop the tears. She grieved for the past, in all its beauty, and for the pain she knew her decision would cause. Would cause them both. But most of all, she grieved for the bright dreams she and Tommy had shared, dreams of home and family and a sparkling brilliant future that had, in the end, been only a dream after all.

And yes, some dreams come true,
And yes, some dreams fall through,
And yes, the time has come for us to say goodbye.

After a long time, after her sobs had slowed and hitched to a stop, she rose from her bed. There was only one course of action now, and putting it off would only cause her to lose her nerve. She had to do it now… which meant she couldn't do it over the phone. The impersonal nature of a letter made her wince, but she couldn't trust herself to wait until next Saturday, the only time she could be sure of catching Tommy by phone. And even if she could, she wasn't sure if, hearing his voice once again, her resolve might not crumble to dust.
Crossing to her desk, she pulled out a sheet of stationery and a pen. Taking a deep breath, she stared at the paper for a long time. Then, slowly, she began to write.
"Dear Tommy,…"

The End