Last Revised: August 27, 2006
Summary: After his final tour of duty as a Ranger has ended, Dr. Tommy Oliver takes a few minutes to revisit the past he thought he'd let go, hoping this time to put what happened then, behind him for good.
Rated: T for Mature Language
Disclaimer: I don't own Power Rangers. Wish I did, because I'd have made things different. I also don't own the song that this is based off, which is Resolution by Nick Lachey. The comments about them making a promise to come if one called originated with Laurel Avon in her untitled Tommy/Kim story that I adore!
Ship: Mentions of Tommy/Kim, Tommy/Kat, Adam/Tanya, Jason/Kat, Rocky/Aisha, and hints at Billy/Trini
An: As the disclaimer above says, this story is based off the song "Resolution" by Nick Lachey on his album, What's Left Of Me. The songs on this album brought me to tears, which not many things have been able to do lately. This song really struck me as a Tommy kind of song, so I hope I do it some justice. This is just a simple one shot, set in the present. Enjoy.
Dedication: To BloomingViolets – even though we don't get to talk as much as we use to, I love having you in my life as my honorary little sister. To Etcetera Kit – my other honorary little sister and the master writer. Thanks for the support and never ending patience. And no, you can't go strangle you-know-who, who writes the same message every time. :) To Angela – thanks for all the support kiddo! I'm glad you like one shots now. To PK – girl, you rock in so many ways. Thanks for the support! To Laurel Avon – Thanks for doing the story you did, and inspiring me about "The Promise". And to Shawn – for being a well of inspiration and for showing me it's time to start writing you know who as adults instead of the teenagers I remember them as.
Nothing but an empty page
Breathing in an open space
Captured by your moment's grace again
There's so much I left behind
Even more that waits in time
Everything's so undefined
I'm standing on the edge of my fear
And I see it clear
Here's my resolution
I'm letting go
All I need to learn is along this road
And I just want to be the best man I can be
Breathe, it's my resolution
Living life without a plan
Finding solace where I stand
And learning how to love again
And all I want is something real
That I can feel
Here's my resolution
I'm letting go
All I need to learn is along this road
And I just wanna be the best man I can be
"Resolution" – Nick Lachey
I'm standing on the porch, watching Conner and Trent's cars drive away, their tail lights bright in the dimming light. It's been two years since they were Rangers with me, two years since they graduated high school and went their own ways, and still they come back to see me. It does my heart good to see that their time as Rangers has left a lasting impression on them. Lord knows, my tenure as a Ranger, all the way from the beginning to the day I retired, left more than a lasting one on me.
I've been feeling off lately, and maybe that's part of it. I know this time is the last time, or at least, I like to think it is. Of course, after giving up the Turbo powers to T.J., I thought that would be the last time. And then along came the Red Ranger mission. Until I'm proven wrong, I'll believe this is the last time. That those four young adults were the last teammates I'll have inside a spandex suit.
There's another reason I've been feeling off. It's one I don't want to take out, to examine; hell, I don't want to even acknowledge it. But seeing the kids again, it's brought it out into the open. I never closed the door completely on my past. So many things still remain unresolved, so much left unsaid that I don't know where to begin. And it's not just my love life in particular, but it's everything from my youth.
I don't think, I just do; it's a habit that's gotten me into more trouble then I care to admit over the years. Turning from the railing of the porch, I head inside, grab a coat, my cell phone, my keys and my wallet and head for the jeep. There's something I need to do tonight, something I need to do after years of putting it off. I need to put the past behind me.
Once I'm bumping along the winding roads from my house to the freeway, I flip open my phone and hit speed dial for a number even I have memorized. It rings three times before the other end is picked up. "Hey Bro."
I can hear the sigh on the other end. It's not one of those annoyed sighs, or a resigned one. It's more like a sigh of relief. I really need to remember to call him more often. "What's up?"
"Are you busy?" I ask, hoping to sound normal though I'm tense. I need him to meet me, need his help yet again, but he's got a normal life, one he's got because he already closed his doors.
"No. Kat's on her way back from dropping the kids off at her parents' house. What's up?"
I swallow. God must really know I need this. "Can you and Kat meet me at Angel Grove Park in say about two hours?"
The other end is silent, eerily so, and I'm worried I've asked too much. "Tommy, is everything ok? Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, physically. Mentally, that's another story. Can you meet me?" I ask again, my voice coming out small sounding, as if I think he's going to say no.
"Of course. Should I call the others?"
"Would you? I kinda need to see all of you."
"You got it, but Tommy, seriously, are you alright? Nothing's wrong? You sound like you've got a burden you're afraid to share."
I chuckle instead of letting out the distressed sound I know wants to escape. It won't do me any good to worry my best friend more than I have. "Seriously, I'm fine. I just...I need my friends Jason; I need a little bit of reassurance and stability." There's only one other person in the whole world I'd admit that to other than Jason, and I haven't seen her in nearly five years, not since Trini's funeral. And I know she won't be there tonight, just as she hasn't been there in a long time, not since she left for the other side of the country and we broke up. And that's one thing I need to get off my chest tonight; one thing of many.
"Ok. I'll see you in two hours. Be careful," Jason orders. Even after all this time, and all the leading I did, it never fails to amaze me how at ease I am when he issues a command, even a friendly one.
"I will. See you soon." I hang up, swallow, and floor the gas pedal. Normally, it takes more than two hours to get to Angel Grove from Reefside. Tonight, I'm going to put my old race car driving skills to the test and make sure I get there in less than two hours. Let's just hope I don't get a ticket in the process.
When I pull into the parking lot of the park, I see several familiar vehicles and several ones that aren't. There's a group of people standing together under the covering of the pavilion. I know those silhouettes. I've seen them countless times in the past. Two are missing, but tonight, I'll learn to accept that fact if it kills me. I quickly unsnap my seatbelt and hope of out the jeep, my pace toward the pavilion matched by those standing under it.
Kat's at my side first, her arms slipping around me in a hug that is both welcoming and loving. It's an embrace I return whole heatedly. Katherine Scott, formerly Katherine Hillard, is only the second woman I've ever loved other than my mother; Kat with the bright blue eyes and gorgeous blonde hair, Kat who healed my broken heart and was my light when I was lost in the darkness of heartbreak. She's also the tough as nails former Pink Ranger who shared so much with me, both good and bad, that not many of the others will ever understand. Both of us have been made evil against our will, both of us have fought our friends while being enslaved by something much bigger than ourselves. We've both sought redemption by fighting a war neither of us would have ever chosen to be involved with.
I hang onto Kat for a minute, letting her strong, bright presence anchor me. Until tonight, I hadn't known how much I needed this, needed them.
Tanya's next, her arms sliding around my waist as she pulls me close. Tanya Sloan-Park is someone who knows what it's like to join a group of people who've already been through so much, who have a history together that is the basis for their present. Tanya's always been the quiet, thoughtful, confident one. As a Ranger, she re-taught me something I'd forgotten when I'd been wallowing in self-pity: life throws you curve balls when you least expect it to and you need to learn to catch every one of those pitches. When I pull back from her, I can see the worry in her eyes and I try to reassure her with a smile. She gives me a dazzling one back, but I can still see the worry.
Turning away from Tanya, I'm faced with Adam, who's quietly staring at me. Adam Park and I have never been particularly close, and that's been fine for us. We were both the ones who enjoyed the quiet, and with Adam, I knew I never had to say anything just to fill the time. Adam's been by my side for a long time, following my lead when I was just learning to lead, gaining new powers even as I did, and lastly, he was with me when we retired. I realize I'm still staring at him when Adam reaches out a hand to me. We do that familiar, boyish, one-armed hug and pull back, smiling at each other.
Rocky DeSantos, larger than life and usually just as hyper as a child on a Jolt kick, is the next in my line of vision. For once though, Rocky's eyes are on mine, looking oh so serious. He's grown up, probably more than any of us the last couple of years. Next to Zack, Rocko was always the one to make sure we had a good time, no matter what was going on in our crazy lives. I can see the camaraderie in his eyes, paired with the worry and fear that he's directing at me. Rocky was my second in command once Jason had departed, and he and I always had that common connection of having replaced Jason, even if in different ways, and yet, not being able to replace the Original Red Ranger at all. We bump fists together, our relationship no where near being a hugging one. It never has been.
With a nod from Rocky, I turn my attention again, this time finding Zack staring back at me. He's got such a serious expression going on that I find myself wondering who's kidnapped our Zack, but I know he's worried about me. Zack may have been the slick talking prankster of the group, but I know even he worries about us. I gasp slightly when I'm pulled into a bear hug from my former teammate. His arms band around me in a brotherly hug that is tight and soothing all at once, as funny as that may sound. I feel a little more of the weight that's been resting on my shoulders ease. We pull back slowly, Zack's right hand on my shoulder and his left holding mine in a clasp. We smile and nod, and then I turn from him.
My vision blurs with the slight start of tears as I see Aisha standing in front of me, hands on her hips, head cocked to the side, and the most serious expression I've ever seen marring her beautiful face. She's studying me like I've never seen her do before, and it's a bit startling. Aisha has always been serious in nature, with a flare of feisty thrown in. If there's anyone I wanted to have confidence like over the years, it's Aisha, who at the tender age of seventeen took an enormous chance and changed history by choosing to stay in Africa to help the animals there and sending Tanya home in her stead, with her shard of the Zeo Crystal.
Aisha Campbell is the heart and soul sister of the one who has always been my other half. That alone makes me ache, but having her here is almost like having Kim and Trini here too. Though Trini and Aisha were vastly different, their approach to being a Ranger, especially the Yellow Ranger, was very similar, not to mention their approach to life. They both wanted to help people, both wanted to achieve their dreams, they both wanted to make this world a better place. I choke back the whimper that wants to come up from my throat before I throw my arms around Aisha, crushing her to my chest. Her arms around me are just as tight, and I feel her let out one quiet sob followed by a slight shudder. I know her hands are fisted in the back of my shirt even as one of mine holds her around her back and the other cradles the back of her head. When we pull back, we're both staring into tear filled eyes. Aisha then dazzles me with a wide grin and a nod.
I breathe in deeply as I face Billy, who remains quiet and still. The simple fact is, Billy and I have more in common now then we ever did when we were Rangers, and for the first time in our acquaintance, I wish we didn't. The two of us, unlike the others, know exactly what it feels like to have the one we loved ripped from us in a vicious way. Billy's situation is so much more tragic than my own; the woman he loves was killed needlessly in a car accident, mine chose to let me go to follow what she thought was my destiny. We've never really been close; Billy use to intimidate the hell out of me with his intelligence and love of science. The things the man before me has done in his lifetime astound me, and that's saying a lot coming from the former leader of the Power Rangers. Billy Cranston truly was the genius behind the original Earth team, and the Zeo team. There wasn't anything he didn't do for us, to get us out of those tough situations. I'm brought from my reverie when I see Billy smile at me. He knows my fear, perhaps better than most, because he's been there. I don't hesitate when he offers his hand and I pull him into a friendly hug. I haven't seen him since Trini's funeral, nor have I talked to him beyond a simple hello, how are you since then. He nods his understanding as I pull back. His hand is still on my shoulder when I turn to face Jason.
Jason Scott - my first friend, my first best friend, my sparring partner, my leader, my second in command, my rock since that day so long ago. The man I've always wanted to be like, even if he hasn't ever known that. He knows me better than anyone. He knows what drives me, what scares the hell out of me, everything that makes me tick. If I didn't love him so much, I'd be afraid of being blackmailed with all he knows. He cracks a grin at me, and I know he's thinking the same thing. We're like two peas in a pod, so similar and yet so different it's scary. I breathe deeply when my brother in everything but blood pulls me into a tight hug. If it were anyone else but the men I'm standing with, I'd be worried about the hugging, but these guys have been to hell and back with me. After all we shared, a hug is a wonderful reminder of our closeness, and that's saying something for a bunch of guys.
"Tommy?" Katherine's voice calls me back to this meeting of friends I all but demanded. Jason and I break apart, and the nine of us gather in a circle. They're all staring at me, waiting. For a moment, I'm taken back a few years, to when we use to gather like this during a crisis and they looked to me for leadership. I'm more scared by this then I ever was by that.
"Finish that sentence, and I will without a doubt kick your ass," Aisha growls, causing me to chuckle, along with the rest of the group. "You have nothing to be sorry for. We all made a promise, when one of us called, we'd drop everything and be there. Talk to us, Tommy."
I let out a strangled sob, one that's barely heard, as I try to keep it all in. I let too much build up inside of me, never knowing that it would get to a point where it was going to force its way free in a tidal wave that could sweep me away.
"Tommy?" Adam's quiet voice is urging me.
I take a deep breath and look around the circle we've formed. I know my thoughts, my feelings, are safe with these people. It's a common known fact that guys are notorious for keeping their feelings bottled inside. I'm more than notorious for it. Only one person ever, got as much as a peep out of me without having to prod me. She isn't here, but I know the eight people standing with me, and I know I can trust them with what I'm feeling.
I wet my lips and begin. "Earlier tonight, the kids came over." I know I don't have to explain who "the kids" are to any of them; I didn't keep my tenure as the Black Dino Thunder Ranger from any of them, and they have met my young teammates before. "When they left, I got to thinking. I was just standing there on the porch, marveling at how their times as Rangers affected them so much, and yet, it doesn't seem to have affected them at all. I guess, seeing that they've closed the doors on that time in their lives made me realize, even having been out of uniform for two years, I still haven't shut mine."
There's understanding in spades from each of them. They also all look thoughtful, like they know what I'm going to say. "I'm the only one left. Each of you have gone on with your lives, left being a Ranger behind; shut your doors, so to speak. There's so much from my time as a Ranger that I never got over, that I've never gotten past or put to rest. I had the sudden impulse to see all of you, to see if I could at least start down the path to closing that chapter of my life. I know I'm never gonna be a Ranger again, at least until fate decides to surprise me again. If I'm going to get on with my life, I needed to do this."
It's quiet for several long minutes before anyone thinks of something to say. "Wow, Tommy, I seriously never would have thought you'd feel like that," Rocky speaks up first, his brow furrowed in concentration. For once, the former jokester is thinking his words over carefully before he speaks. "You've always seemed so comfortable being a Ranger. I know I wondered sometimes whether or not you'd be doing this for years yet, which is why I wasn't surprised when you ended up as black."
For once, I'm surprised by Rocky's comments. I stopped being surprised by my friend years ago, but this is new. Of all of us, like I thought earlier, Rocky has certainly matured the most. Of course, the fact that he's been running his own successful dojo, which is now several successful dojos, and is engaged to Aisha, would account for the rise in his maturity level.
"I was never really comfortable as a Ranger, Rocky, probably because of how I became a Ranger," I admit, and find myself on the receiving end of Jason's infamous glare. Ah, the battle of battles continues. For years, I've never been comfortable with being a Ranger, because I was never proud of how I became a Ranger. Jason knows this. The only other person who knew that was Kim. I never asked to be a Ranger, never pursued that life. It was simply thrust upon me and I had to make do with what was in front of me.
I let out a shout of surprise when I feel both Aisha and Jason, who are on either side of me, slap the back of my head. "What the hell was that for?" I grumble.
"If Kim was here, she'd have done the same thing," Jason mutters, just loud enough for me to hear. Unfortunately, it was loud enough for the others to hear too, and now we're all silent again. "Tommy, no matter how you became a Ranger, you're still the one of us who held on the longest, who set the standard for the others. Remember how amazed Cole was to meet us? Remember Conner, Ethan and Kira's reactions when they found out about your past? We may have all gotten on with our lives, but you set the bar high for those who followed us. And if you hadn't, Earth would be destroyed by now, humans would be gone...you get my drift."
Damn it, I hate it when he's right. "Tommy, all of us have burdens to bear in life," Aisha speaks up, a heavy sigh coming from her as she contemplates her next words. "Yours was to be the legendary Ranger, the one all others aspire to be. You've dealt with more shit than any of us could probably handle, and yet, look at the man you've become. If this is all about getting on with your life, I want to you to remember one thing, and I know everyone standing here will agree with me – it's ok to close that door. Zordon would be very proud of you, hell, he was proud of you." And damn Aisha for hitting a nerve.
Zordon's death is a scar I will carry on my heart and soul for as long as I live. It was too late for me to save him by the time I found out what was going on. For a long time, I hated Andros, but several events put everything into perspective for me – my crash while racing in my last race, Trini's death, the birth of Jason and Kat's twins, and of course the explosion that claimed the island Anton and I had been working on – all of these things showed me how precious life could be, how important it was to not take anything for granted. It's while I'm standing here now that I can have a clear conscience as far as my relationship toward Andros – he did what none of us standing here, myself especially, could have done. He carried out the one order every single one of us would have ignored – he took Zordon's life in exchange for peace.
"I miss him." The words are uttered before I have time to think, but I know I will not be laughed at for saying them. Each and every one of us bears the guilt from not being able to save him, for not being there for him when he'd always been there for us. It's yet another link in the chain that binds us, and I need to make peace with the hurt it left inside of me.
"We all miss him," Tanya whispers, leaning against Adam's shoulder. "We couldn't save the most important person to all of us, and that's something we have to live with, especially since he gave us something infinitely more precious than the ability to change our world."
"What's that?" Rocky asks his voice hoarse, as he reaches out for Aisha's hand.
Leave it to Tanya to find the perfect thing to say in a moment like this. I'm focusing on her words, so much so, that I don't notice Kat lean around Jason and take my hand. "What else is bugging you, Tommy?"
I know I look like a deer caught in the headlights when I look up. How is it she knows I'm holding something back? And just now, I realize how stupid that question is. Kat knows me in a different way then the others. Hell, she really should since she was the first girl I slept with. She spent so much time with me those last two years of high school and the year just after, trying to mend my broken and shattered heart, but I never really let her in, not like I'd let someone else, someone who at one time was, and admittedly still is, beloved to me, in. "I owe you an apology," I tell her, squeezing her hand. I'm about to say stuff to her that I've never had the courage to bring up before, especially not since she and Jason got together.
"For what?" she questions innocently, though her voice betrays her. I know that she knows what I'm about to do, but the others need to hear this.
"I'm sorry for not being able to love you the way you should have been loved," I speak slowly, gauging Jason's reaction. I can see an understanding in his eyes that only makes me feel guiltier. "You were incredibly patient, kind, caring, and loving toward me; you mended my broken heart, but I still never could let you all the way in."
The watery smile I'm getting is doing a number on my protective walls. "Tommy, I always understood, and accepted that. Even if it didn't seem like it a time or two." The memories of some of our more memorable arguments surface with those words. We had a few doozies while in college. "Your first love is always the hardest to forget. While I did love you, I still don't think you were my first love."
That hurts, but I know she speaks the truth I needed to hear. "Oh?"
"Yeah, he's standing in between the two of us at the moment."
I chuckle at that and tug on her arm, which causes her to stumble toward me. I wrap my arms around her in a tight, friendly, brotherly hug. "I do love you Kat."
"I love you too, you knuckle head."
Another weight has been lifted. "Billy, you're awfully quiet over there," I comment as Kat moves back into place next to Jason.
"Can't you feel it?" he inquires. I feel my eyebrows knit together in confusion, not really knowing what he's talking about. He looks so serene, and yet, I see the tears in his eyes.
"Feel what, Billy?" Jason's obviously as confused as the rest of us.
"Not what, who; Trini." It's Adam who spoke up this time. His one word response has all of us quieting again.
"I miss her," I speak first, voicing the common consensus between us. The image of the beautiful, willow slim, Asian with soulful eyes and loving smile comes to mind. She's wearing bright, buttery yellow, her signature color. And yet, that color was a stark contrast to the sereneness of her soul. She is a sorely missed part of my life I can never have back; the sister I never had, just as Aisha, Tanya and now Kat are.
Zack clears the tears from his eyes and chokes back the obvious lump of emotion in his throat before he smiles brightly at us, his eyes stopping on me. "She'd be proud of you, Tommy. She was proud of you, proud of us all. She loved us, with everything in her, even if it was in different ways for each of us."
Zack's words make me think of the last time I saw Trini alive. It was at Jason and Kat's wedding a few months before she passed away. After the ceremony was over, and the official pictures were taken, Jason and Kat badgered the photographer to take one more. It's one of the only pictures I actually keep around the house, and as it is, it's in my bedroom on the nightstand, along with just four other pictures – one of my birth parents, one of David, Sam and I the day I graduated college, one of my parents on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, and one of Kimberly that was taken just after she'd won the all around gold at Pan Globals. The picture is all twelve of us, all of us who have been dubbed Zordon's Rangers. Jason and Kat were standing on one side, with Tanya and Adam right next to them while I'm was standing next to Jason, Kimberly curled against my side, my arm wrapped around her shoulders, with Trini and Aisha next to her and Rocky and Billy kneeling next to Zack and Justin in front. I know Trini and Jason plotted for the picture to turn out the way it did, it's a fact I never argued with them about, but that moment makes me think about what Trini said to me just before it.
It's been four years, and I know you aren't one to hold a grudge. Just talk to her. Such simple words, too bad it took me a little over six months after that to actually work up the courage to do so. Trini's funeral had been hard on all of us, but probably none more so than Billy, Zack, Jason and Kimberly. They'd been a unit for so long, that to have a piece of the unit ripped so abruptly from them, had sent them all into a spin. I had just come home from my first internship with Anton when I'd gotten the call from Kat. Zack had been a wreck, Jason had stopped speaking to everyone, Billy cried at the drop of a hat, and then there'd been Kimberly. As always, the former Pink Ranger had exuded unflappable calm and cool in a situation that had turned the rest of us into a mess. But I knew Kimberly better than anyone, I knew the walls were slowly crumbling and when they did, the wave of emotion that would be released would nearly drown her. And I'd been right.
Just after Trini's casket had been lowered into the ground and the ten of us had been left standing over the grave, alone, the dam burst. I don't remember much, but I distinctly remember feeling her standing next to me, her body starting to shake with the unmistakable repression of emotion she had gotten so good at. I didn't think, I just did. I drew her into my arms and held on. The others had stood around us while she sobbed, long and loud. Her cries about how unfair life was to have taken both Zordon and Trini in such a short time from us had put a crack in my indifference toward her. It was in that singular moment, when Kimberly faced quite possibly her biggest heart ache, that I realized something; I still loved her, would always love her.
I held onto her, not just for her own sake, but for mine as well. Seeing Kimberly cry had always been something that tore at my heart like nothing else had, or has since. My Beautiful was hurting and there was nothing I could do to ease the pain, not even if she'd have let me try. She clung to me like a life line for a good half hour. When the men that worked at the cemetery finally came to begin closing the grave, we made our way to our cars. Neither Kim nor I let go, not until I had her to my Jeep and was settling her into the front seat. Everyone else piled into Jason's suburban and Rocky's Durango and headed for Jason and Kat's house. Kimberly and I headed somewhere else, somewhere close to both our hearts; our spot at Angela Grove Lake.
"Oh man!" Jason's voice rips me from my thoughts.
"What's wrong, Jase?" I ask, turning my eyes to his face, which is scrunched up.
"We've been standing here so long, I forgot about the surprise I brought you," he grins at me. I blink when I see the twinkle in his eyes and the look he gives Kat and Aisha. He's done something, something I may not like, and I have a feeling he's about to spring it on me.
"Just do me a favor, start walking down the path, back toward the bend in the lake. It's sitting on a rock waiting for you," Jason all but laughs. I raise an eyebrow at him in question, but the others are all trying not to laugh and are hiding the snickers I know want to break free. Sometimes, I think, the kids don't realize how weird the others are compared to me. They're worse.
Shaking my head, I do as asked, especially since I want to know what this surprise is and because the bend Jason's talking about is mine and Kim's spot. I haven't been back in well over two years; I just never have time to get away.
When I was younger, I never would have ever thought I'd have a "spot" where, no matter how far I travel, who I meet, what goes on in my life, just going to the "spot" makes me feel more alive and even, emptier then I've ever felt. When I hear kids today talk about their "spots" when they don't think I hear them, I smile fondly, an image as clear as if I were standing right there, coming to mind of my "spot".
It's only a five minute walk from where we met at the pavilion to my destination. I've walked this way so many times over the years, that my feet know the way by heart, or is it just my heart knows the way while my head wants to forget. This spot is an essential part of what shaped me into the man I am today; this spot is where so many good things happened, and even a few bad ones, that I know I never want to forget it, no matter how much it hurts to remember. However, my resolution this evening was to put my past into perspective, and hopefully, put it behind me. Maybe, just maybe, it's time to say goodbye to this spot, to move on into the future.
And right now, I could kill Jason for the surprise he brought me. Or, maybe I should be thanking him, now that I see who, not what, my surprise is. She's the one part of my past I've really never come to terms with, no matter how much I want to think I have.
She's standing there at the water's edge, her back to me. She looks so small, even after all this time. Her arms are wrapped around her, as I can see her hands peeking out on either side of her waist. She's wearing a long, black skirt, and something I haven't seen in a long time – the green and white checked flannel shirt that I gave her what seems like a lifetime ago. Her soft, auburn brown locks barely touch the tops of her shoulders and are swaying gently with the warm breeze that's lifting around us.
She stiffens and swings around, and I see in her eyes what I know in my own heart; no matter what, we're always going to be able to sense when the other is near. Fate's just funny like that. Sometimes, the thing you want most causes you the greatest pain. I reign in my thoughts, smile, and start toward her. Her arms drop to her sides, and I fight not to laugh when I see what color shirt she's wearing underneath the flannel – it's a pink shirt with a red star on the chest.
"I was beginning to wonder if he was taking a page from your book and forgot he'd brought me along," she murmurs softly, tilting her head back as I stop about a foot from her and force her to look up at me.
"Believe it or not, he did, until about ten minutes," I admit, watching her shake her head. "What are you doing here?" I ask softly. I have to clench my hands at my sides so I don't reach out and take her hand or cradle her cheek like I want to.
"We made a promise after Trini's funeral," she replies, her eyes locked on mine. "Whenever one of us need the others, we'd call, and we'd all come. You made the call, I came."
I can only nod. There's so much I want to say to her, and I just can't seem to find the words. What happened between us, I wouldn't say is still an issue, but it's still there. I made peace with our break up, made peace with not having her in my life. My heart still carries the scars of the first women I ever loved having broken it into a million pieces, but it's not something I think about every second of every day. Been there done that. No, the issue of her and me is, I miss having her in my life. I miss having the person who knew me better than anyone by my side, even if it's just as friends.
The girl I knew is gone; she's grown into the woman before me, the same woman who's experienced just as much as I have, if differently, over the years. She's had her heart broken by other men, and even by her own carelessness. I know that because she told me, when she explained to me why she did what she did after Trini's funeral. I can totally understand that at seventeen, so far from home, without her safety net, it seemed like everything came crashing down on her head. The demands of her gymnastics, coupled with the lack of communication with her friends and family, led her to grasp onto the one bright spot in her life – a fellow gymnast, one of the men's team, who was in the same boat.
I don't begrudge her that. She's apologized, and I realized a long time ago that what happened wasn't something that happened just to me. It's something that happens to a lot of people our age. It's a life lesson. I've learned from it, and I've moved on. I closed that door. What I want now is a shot at rebuilding the friendship Kim and I should have had, and never got. We loved and wanted each other from the get go, and we tried to be friends in the beginning. It didn't work. I want that friendship now, which is why I'm standing here staring at her, choosing my words carefully.
"I miss you." Three simple words that carry with them a history, and hopefully crack an opening in the walls between us for a future.
"I've missed you too," she whispers, stepping toward me and reaching up to cup a hand to my cheek. I can't help but to cuddle against her hand, my eyes locked on hers.
"I've made my peace with every other part of my youth tonight, Kim," I tell her softly. I'm scared by the fear I see in her eyes, and my fear only increases when she drops her hand and backs away. There's so much in her eyes, so much that she isn't saying and so much I hope I'm not reading too far into.
I don't think you do, Beautiful, not yet anyways. "Yeah. There's just one last thing I need to do."
She's staring at me, and I can see the tears in her eyes, coupled with the look that says she's been thinking this was coming for a while and still hasn't gotten use to knowing it. I smile at her, hoping to ease her fear. I can see that it doesn't. "I realized something, Kim."
"I've been walking around with only half my heart and soul, and I'll be damned if I spend the rest of my life incomplete. You know what my resolution became the minute I saw you standing here?" I ask, stepping toward her until I'm towering over her.
"No, but you're going to tell me, aren't you?"
"Yeah. I want my heart and soul whole, and for me to do that, I need my best friend," I whisper, reaching up to cup her cheek. "But it all depends on whether or not my best friend is seeing it the same way."
The smile that's bestowed upon me makes my heart soar. The fear I saw in those beloved brown orbs is gone, this time replaced with an understanding and acceptance that we're going to be ok, that we're going to keep the other in our lives for a long time to come.
"I think it's safe to say your best friend agrees with you, don't ya Jase?"
I'm startled by her words and spin around to see the others standing there, quietly watching my reunion with Kimberly unfold. "Oh, I more than agree, thank you very much. And what's more, I think everyone else agrees." There are smiles on each of their faces, and all three of the girls look as though they've been crying.
Shaking my head, I turn back to Kim. She's smiling brightly at me, just like she did the first time I saw her in the hallway at Angel Grove High. "Kim?"
"What do you think?"
"I think you got yourself another best friend," she giggles. The sound turns into a startled yelp when I pull her close to me then lift her high in the air, spinning her in a circle, before I set her down again and pull her into my arms, hugging her tightly like I haven't in who knows how long.
I'm standing there, holding one of the brightest lights in my life, and I realize something. My resolution to get on with my life has been accomplished. The past is something deeply rooted in who I am today, but I no longer dwell on what happened then. No, there's a hope for the future that I haven't had in a really long time. With Kim leaning against me, and my friends surrounding us, I know, absolutely, that as long as their in my life, no matter what we faced before, we can overcome whatever is headed our way.