The Midnight Club
By Chanelle Summer
Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers series, nor do I own any of the characters, which are all owned by Saban and Disney.
Authors Notes:This is a one-shot piece that I wrote in 2006- definitely not life changing or earth shattering and it's extremely subdued when compared to what I usually write. But a story is a story and I think it's time I start to post the handfuls of fics that I've written that have never really seen daylight before.
Setting: (possible canon) set post "A Different Shade of Pink".
Characters: Features Jason Scott, Kimberly Hart, Trini Kwan and Zack Taylor.
Summery: On Kimberly's first night in Florida, Jason reveals to his old friend a secret over a long distance phone call. He understands her emptiness; now it's up to him to initiate her into the Midnight Club.
Oh God, if I even think about cheese for another moment, I am going to throw up right there in front of the gorgeously sculptured figurine. I can just see the photo now- and that image alone is enough to get me one more smile out of me.
I grin graciously but jerk suddenly as I feel a solid hand grab me from behind.
I throw a hand out and Zack ducks, dancing a little on the spot as he repositions the hat on his head.
"Don't touch me like that again, man, or I'll-." I jokingly smack my fist into my other hand, before the fake madness drains away and my best friend's goofy choice of clothes takes presidency. "Where on earth did you find such an ugly looking hat?" I ask.
Zack digs into the bag hanging off his shoulder, before he straightens back up, revealing two more of the fruitfully colored head wear. He extends one toward me and I shake my head slowly, chuckling to myself as I feel Trini drop an arm around my shoulder.
"I thought I told you- no more souvenirs until we get to Denmark," she scolds him lightly.
Zack shrugs, before stuffing the hats back in his bag. "I don't know about you two, but I am starving and I wanna go have some Boof dà la mod," he enthuses.
The laugh slips out between my lips as Trini giggles. "I think you mean Boeuf à la mod," she corrects, before pushing her camera into its holder. "I think I know a place we can go..." her words trail off as she pulls out a map and stares it intently, Zack moving to look over her shoulder.
I flick a glance down at my watch and all though I can feel my abdomen clawing itself, I know I really can't stomach a pot roast in this heat. Besides, there's somewhere else I need to be.
"Guys, I'm gonna, you know, head back to my room," I announce as casually as possible.
They both look up from the map, lips pouted and Zack lets out this strangled, painful groan. "Oh, Jesus Jase, we're been in Paris for less than twenty-four hours and you're already bailing on us?" he asks in clear disbelief. "Do you need to go back and get your skirt?"
I pull a face. "I'll meet up with you guys for dinner," I promise. "Enjoy your Boeuf à la mode," I pronounce to perfection, before I wave and ignore their further stares of protest.
I know, I know. You're wondering why I'm in such a rush to get back to my small, claustrophobic backpackers room when I have the beauty of France at my feet. Why would I turn my back on my oldest friends when all they feel like doing is being free and reminding me of how lucky we are to be here?
Because duty still calls me. Not the obligation of the old days pre-Peace Conference, but that responsibility that I have intrinsically to share what I have learnt since I left them all behind. I know it's probably hard to believe, but I have come to understand so much more about everything since I moved on. It's like, I handed my morpher over and 'poof' everything just appeared to me so much clearer.
Okay, so that's a little bit of an exaggeration. My comfort didn't come to me so immediately and in actuality, I convinced myself for the first three months after I arrived in Switzerland that I had made the biggest mistake in my life. All I could think of was everything I would miss out on. Was I mad? All the historic buildings and wonders of the world would have still been here...
I never should have left. Or so I thought for a long, lonely period of time before I became the first official member of the Midnight Club.
My room is stuffy and rather putrid smelling as I arrive. Letting out a huge, exaggerated breath I push my night bag off my bed and drop down on it, dialing the number scrawled on the paper beside my pillow.
My timing should be just perfect.
I can hear the phone pick up on the other side, but there's no greeting; no hello or even a "yeah?"; Just the sounds of her little heart sniffling and breaking over the long distance line that rests between us.
"Sounds like I called you right on the dot," I speak up first.
"I've made a mistake, Jase, a terrible, terrible mistake," she starts blabbering and I instantly attempt to soothe her.
"Kim- shhhh...take a deep breath."
I wait patiently as I hear her let out a staggered, shaky sigh, but even still her breathing remains noisy.
I bite my lip. "Do you want me to call you back later?" I offer.
"No, no, I told you I wanted you to call back; I knew this would happen," she assures me.
I knew it would happen, too. I've experienced this exact same moment myself, but at least I had Zack and Trini to distract me through my own struggle.
"So, how's the facility?" I ask up randomly. It's time to focus on the good stuff.
"It's huge," she drags out, her voice lifting somewhat. "The gymnasium is amazing, it's like nothing I've ever seen before..." her words trail off and I wait. "Give me the magical answer, Jase- how do I get over this feeling? I can't help but feel like I've made the biggest mistake in my life..."
I breathe out, my mind deep in thought. "What's upsetting you the most?" I ask her.
"Everything," she replies in deep self-pity, before she sighs. "I'm worried about Katherine and about the pressure I've put on her now so soon after everything she's been through."
"Kim, you wouldn't have chosen Katherine to take your coin if you didn't think she could do it," I reason. "Aisha, Rocky and Adam were all in the same position and they've done an amazing job."
"Yeah, I know," she admits. "But even still, on the plane flight all I could think about was that first day we were brought to the Command Center and how we promised Zordon that we'd always be there, you know? I feel like I've completely blown my promise to him-."
I can't help but make a rather sudden sigh at Kimberly's comment. "Are you saying that Zack, Trini and I betrayed Zordon?" I query, trying to disprove her wallowing.
"No, of course not," she argues. "Jason, it's an amazing opportunity and Zordon wanted you to go."
"And that's exactly the same for you, Kim," I explain to her.
"It's just so hard, because the guys kept on saying that everything would be okay and that I'll move on with my life, but I just don't see that happening," she shares. "It's not going to be easy, I know, so you don't need to say that."
I smile and snicker a little at her defiant, yet spirited comment before I feel my stomach roll a little.
I sigh again for what's the tenth time since I dialed her number. "Kim, the feeling doesn't go away," I slowly reveal as gently as possible. "The others might have said that because they want you to know that you'll always be their friend, but when Zordon said you'd always be a ranger, he meant it for real. You can't just walk away- I've been here for how long now? Over a year...and I still wish I'd never left...and I haven't."
I wait for her reaction; wait for her to question my final words. "Jason, I don't understand; I thought you said things were going good?"
"They're going great," I confirm genuinely. "I've seen things here I never thought I'd get the opportunity to see...but, no matter all of that, I still haven't been able to move on. For the first month I was in Switzerland, I'd tried to ignore it, telling myself it would go away, but soon after that it just got worse. That's why I didn't call for those couple of months, I felt like I'd lost my purpose in life. Watching you guys on TV, seeing how bad things got made me feel like I wanted to be back, helping you kick Zedd and Rita's asses..."
I run a hand over my hair, wondering if I'm making any sense at all to her. I know I'm probably not. She's being so quiet; she's probably questioning her choice in who should have called her at such an intense time in her life. Here she is, trying to convince herself that everything would be okay and I'm basically telling her that it won't be.
That's not the way I'm intending on sharing my secret with her.
"Do you still have your communicator?" I ask and then listen as I hear her movement over the line.
"Of course, Billy let me keep it...I'm still wearing it," she admits, her voice going quiet. "I know that sounds stupid."
I glance down at my free hand, my eyes running over the metallic band still clasped around my own wrist. "Not as stupid as you'd think...I know you're probably going to think I'm crazy, though, when I ask you to do something for me...I want you to teleport to the Command Center."
I hear her scoff in shock. "Jase, what are you going on about? I can't just teleport there anymore."
"Trust me on this," I ask her. "Do it now and I'll hang up the phone."
I lower my cell to my lap and nervously end the call, wondering what sort of expression Kimberly must have on her face right now. Will she listen to me and do what I ask? Guess I am just going to have to find out for myself.
I stand up and quickly check that the door's secured and the blinds are drawn, before I raise my wrist before me. As my fingers rest on the discreet buttons and knowingly run over the combination, I close my eyes and wait for the feeling to combust within me; that feeling of explosive energy that literally shatters who I am and then rebuilds me on the other side.
Eyes closed; eyes open.
The darkness is undisturbed, serene and familiar. The lights twinkle just a little, while the systems that run the length of the circular switchboards gently hum in their rhythmic manner.
I wait for a moment, before a flood of light showers and then drains away and as I spin around, I catch her in my arms.
Our hug lasts for a sweet moment, before she quickly pulls back with her hands on her hips. "Jason, what are you doing?" she asks. "I didn't even think you guys could still teleport here."
I lick my lips. "We've never stopped," is all I say, before I grab her arm lightly and pull her slowly after me, leading her through the narrow passage and out into the main arena.
My eyes gently brush past Zordon's empty tube of light, before I quickly turn my attention around to Alpha 5 who has his back turned to us. Hunched over, and clearly tampering with a switchboard full of blinking lights, he's seemingly humming away to himself in a world of his own, before I gently clear my throat.
He spins around, and straights up abruptly. "Oh, Jason!" the android greets. "I was wondering what that alert was; I wasn't expecting to see you back so soon!"
I smile a little and glance back at Kimberly, motioning for her to come forward.
"I hope you don't mind, Alpha, but I brought a friend with me to visit," I share lightly, as Kimberly takes a tentative step to my side.
"Kimberly!" Alpha bursts out with enthusiasm. "It's so wonderful to see you!"
I look down at her. Brown eyes shining with the dawning of tears and a small smile settled on her lips, her face is the epitome of conflict and discomfort.
"I-I'm sorry to come without any notice," she apologizes.
"You're always welcome here, Kimberly," Alpha insists, before he turns back to the switchboard. "If you are both going to stay, it would be wonderful if you could help me with some things around the center, there are so many things that I really should get done..."
I smile and nod without needing to give it a second thought, before I feel Kimberly brush up against my arm.
"Where's Zordon?" she asks, her eyes perched on his empty chamber.
"He's in his private chamber," I reply knowingly. "He goes there most nights while Alpha monitors the Command Center's systems and scanners for any potential alerts."
I stop and move over to sit down on the step before the viewing globe, watching as Kimberly takes a seat beside me.
I drag my legs up and turn my head to look at her, resting it on my knees.
"How often do you come here?" she asks curiously.
I laugh softly to myself. "Too much lately," I admit, before I decide to elaborate. "The reason I wanted to bring you here tonight, was to show you that your ties to this place are not gone and never will be. It was about two months after I left that I was at my lowest and one night, my communicator sounded. It was Zordon and he asked me to teleport to the Command Center. At first I thought some serious must have been going down, but when I got here I quickly realized he didn't bring me here as back-up in battle."
Kimberly pulls her knees to her chest. "Why did he bring you here, then?"
"I guess he'd been keeping an eye on us," I concede. "I wasn't going to say too much to him, but he knew...he knew how much I missed it all. That's when he offered me the opportunity to come back here, whenever I felt I needed to. At first I wasn't so sure, I mean I thought being able to come and go when I wanted would make adjusting to my new life harder, but slowly it proved otherwise."
I watch as Kimberly pulls back slightly, the amazement written all over her features. "So you're telling me that you've been coming back here all of this time? Why didn't you tell us?"
"Because, I couldn't," I rush in softly. I sigh. "It's for the best...trust me, it's been so hard not being able to tell you- to tell Tommy or Billy, but just as Zordon made us promise never to reveal our ranger identities, we all promised him that we would keep our little late night visits to us."
She looks away and I drop a hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry..." I apologize.
She shakes her head a little and then returns her face to me, her expression somewhat lighter. "Why didn't Trini and Zack come here?" she asks, and I can see it. I can tell how badly she wants to see them.
My thoughts immediately switch to the sunny, historical sidewalk where I had left my two friends and I smile a little, before clearing my throat. "They actually don't know I'm here tonight," I shrug. "I guess they would find my choosing to be here over spending time with them in Paris as a rather poor choice..." I look down, wondering if maybe Kimberly thinks that's true; that I must be crazy to keep coming back here.
"You seem ashamed," she observes quietly.
I look at her quickly and shake my head. "Nuh, I'm not, I just get this feeling when I'm here. It used to kill me. Now, it's a little like resignation, but in a good way. You know that we sacrificed a lot to be rangers..."
Kimberly nods, sharing my private emotions.
"But we sacrificed so much that it wasn't that we gave up a normal life, but we took on a new life. And even though I had everyone else telling me that I would be crazy not to go to Switzerland, it was hard for me to do it because I honestly couldn't remember about life without all of this. But all I really needed was a compromise...a way to help the world in one way, and now in another."
"Wow," Kimberly shakes her head, before flashing a tight smile. "I never thought about any of it like that," she admits.
I put my arm around her shoulder. "It's not a crutch, Kim, it's not...but I hope that when you're not busy kicking butt on the gym floor and you're missing all of it, that you'll remember we don't have to sacrifice any more..." My smile broadens and I gesture with the flick of my chin. "Besides, Alpha likes the company."
Kimberly giggles, as we both look quietly over at the robot; a cherished friend. "You wanna know something really weird," she suddenly says, turning to face me directly.
"I never thought I would see this place again. Ever. It killed me that I couldn't even take a photo to hide in my drawer so I could remember it- and to now know I can come here if I ever need to..." her smile widens, her eyes lighting up. "I feel like it's such a release."
I smile, rubbing her shoulder, feeling every bit of energy she's emitting. "Just remember, we can't tell anyone about this...not even Tommy."
She nods quickly, hiding her disappointment well. "I know...guess we're used to keeping secrets though, huh?"
I nod. "Ain't that the truth, sister," I murmur wryly, helping her to stand, before she surprises me with a hug.
"Thanks so much for this," I can hear her say. "You have no idea how much better I feel-."
Her sweet nothings become swiftly interrupted as two barrels of light stream through the top entrance of the command center, rematerializing just behind us.
"I knew it!" Zack boldly declares, before he bounds over and yanks Kimberly from my feeble clutches, pulling her into a hug.
I watch with amused sentimentality as Kimberly squeals out in childish delight, moving an arm free to grab onto Trini. The three-way hug continues through a rather high-pitched exchange, settling only as a more commanding voice summons their attention.
Zack drops Kimberly gracefully, and I wonder if I'm grinning like an idiot with the rest of them.
"Hi Zordon," we all reply in sing-along unison.
I clear my voice quickly. "Zordon, I hope you don't mind but I brought Kimberly here with me tonight…She was feeling bummed and well," I pause and smile at her softly. "I thought this might be a way to make her move as easy as possible."
"It is good to see you again, Kimberly," Zordon offers. "How has your move been?"
Kimberly shrugs a little shyly. "It's been okay, Zordon, thanks for asking."
"Indeed, I am aware of how difficult this time has been for you- Jason, you have proven once again the qualities that made you such an excellent leader to your teammates," Zordon praises me.
I don't feel it's justified, but it does feel good. "Thanks Zordon."
Zack starts shaking his head, a dopey look on his face. "I can't believe you brought Kimberly back here without telling us, we're supposed to be a club, you know?"
I walk over and pat him on the shoulder with fake sympathy.
Trini's just staring at Kimberly as though she's an apparition. "I can't believe there's now four of us…pretty soon the old team might be back in the same club again," she shares.
"As if Jason doesn't come here enough," Zack states incredulously, even though I know he's just yanking my chain.
"Why, when's the last time you came here, Zack?" Kimberly asks up with clear curiosity, and I mirror her expression watching Zack's eyes give it all away.
"Three days ago," he admits. "I promised to help Alpha!" he argues.
"Yeah, yeah," I tease. "Just face it, you miss this place."
Zack doesn't reply, but his face gives everything away and we all feel it for a brief moment until Alpha walks up and places a metallic hand on my arm.
"I'm so glad to have four of you here, it will mean we can get the new energy gage analyzer closer to operation before Billy comes in tomorrow," the robot enthused.
"Uh, I never said anything about work," Zack quickly flicks up his hands, before patting the left side of his chest. "I've got a date with the city of love."
Trini slaps him softly on the arm. "We're happy to help for a little while, Alpha," she assures him, as we all slowly move to follow the android.
Kimberly waits for me and I lean into her as we walk, keeping my voice at a whisper. "I'm proud of you, Kim...you happy I called you now?"
She quickly looks at the ground, trying hard not to smile, before she flicks her face up. "It feels great to be home," she replies simply, locking her arm through mine.