August 2007

Disclaimer: Power Rangers and their affiliates belong to Saban and are used without permission and no money is being made off of this.

Author's Note: One bunny breeds more bunnies… 2nd Power Ranger fic written within minutes of finishing the 1st one…

Summary: Tommy Fic - set during the beginning of "No Business Like Snow Business", where he's just recieved Kimberly's "Dear John" letter and touches on the areas, moving into a "What I'd have liked to see" after their reunion in the Turbo Movie.


Running

Written words have the power to hurt, the power to heal and the power to leave wounds that can never mend...

Dear Tommy,

Everything is going great here in Florida. Coach Schmidt has me as ready as I'll ever be for the competition. Tommy, this is the hardest letter I've ever had to write. You've always been my best friend, and in some ways, you're like a brother. But something has happened here that I can't explain.

It's both been wonderful and painful at the same time. Tommy, I've met someone else.

Tommy, you know I would never do anything to hurt you. But I feel like I've found the person that I belong with. He's wonderful, kind, and caring. You'd really like him. Everything would be perfect if it weren't for hurting you. But I have to follow my heart. I will always care about you, Tommy.

Please forgive me.

Kimberly

The words echoed about in his head as Tommy strode from the juice bar in a daze, feeling like there was a weight on his chest that hadn't been there previously. The letter burned like fire in his hand, scalding him, but he couldn't put it down. Couldn't bring himself to let it go; not yet.

He'd been blind sided by Kimberly's revelation.

They'd been writing back and forth weekly since she'd left, keeping up on each other's lives, and talking on the phone every few days just to chat. Hearing her voice was enough to make him smile and he'd looked forward to her letters like a kid waiting for Christmas.

But not this one.

He hadn't even had a warning that it was coming. She'd mentioned nothing about making any special friends, mostly wrote about her gymnastics and her coach. She'd mentioned a few girls who seemed to resent her skills, but had won them over with her inherent goodness. He'd written her back about the gang and their battles. He'd wished her luck, keeping his letters positive and telling her he knew she'd do well. How he missed her.

She'd claimed to miss him too.

He felt like a fool. A fool who'd been given up by the one person he felt understood him like no other. She'd been his best friend, always would be, but she'd also been something more. Something special; something he still couldn't name and wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to. She was essential to him; the smile on his face, his reason for fighting - the very person that drove him to be better than he was.

They'd been together for two years - it seemed inconceivable that she'd simply throw that all away because of some pretty face no matter how kind or caring.

Yet she had.

She'd been gone for less than three months since Christmas and she'd decided to end it.

He felt cast adrift, his safe harbor suddenly evaporating like mist in the sunlight. He couldn't imagine being without her. She'd been essential to his life since she'd entered it. First as a friend, going out of her way to befriend him when he'd been a new student, then as more to help save him from Rita. Through all the tough times she'd been a rock of strength, pushing him, believing in him. She was there to share joys and sorrows - she'd been his first kiss, his first serious relationship; his first love.

His heart felt like it was shattering even as he acknowledged to himself that it was why he felt so bad. He loved her. He was in love with her and probably had been since before he'd screwed up the courage to kiss her only he'd been too young and inexperienced to realize it. He should have, though - she'd been more important to him than anyone else. She'd been the person he'd turned to, the one he ran to and she'd been the one he'd felt most comfortable with being himself.

Kimberly had completed him. She'd complimented his stengths and his weaknesses. She'd been his heart and soul since she'd entered his life; a fact he saw only now. She'd been like air - life-giving and essential.

And now she was gone. She'd chosen to walk away and he didn't completely understand why. The letter had explained little, left him with unanswered questions and no room for closure. It left him empty and hollow inside. Kimberly had broken up with him.

His pink princess, his beautiful warrior, was no longer his.

Do you miss me

Do you see me

You are gone

And I need you

And I feel you

Are you there for me

It was like nothing we found before

Can we start on a different path

Can we live what we call is true

Can we lift our spirits, lift our spirits now

I believe in you

Stop running

Stop running away

I believe in you

I believe in you

Stop running

Stop running away


Tommy knew the other Rangers were worried about him, and he appreciated all they were trying to do to take his mind off Kimberly, but the last thing he figured he needed was another girlfriend. He needed a friend, someone to talk to; someone who would be there to help him sort through the emotions the way Kim had once done. The way she couldn't do now because every thought, every focus was on her and the way she'd chosen to leave.

The Heather fiasco on the slopes made him feel worse instead of better; he knew she liked him, but he couldn't bring himself to initiate anything. He'd been willing to do dinner and a movie, but nothing more. For Katherine to have set up dinner for them afterwards upon their return had been sweet, but misplaced. He'd needed a friend, not someone who wanted him for something more.

He wasn't ready and he knew it.

Having Kat's company later helped, having her hold him and dance with him had been enough to momentarily ease the ache around his heart - but nothing she could do would erase it.

The relationship that followed had been premature and a mistake. He liked Kat - but as a friend. He'd tried to look at her otherwise, going so far as to date her, but he unconsciously compared her with Kimberly. He even compared her fighting style to the spunky gymnast who'd been the original Pink Ranger - something Kat was growing to resent.

When Kimberly and Jason had been captured, and the Rangers forced to rescue them, the image of Kimberly trapped with Jason had thrown him for a loop.

Suddenly, all of the old hurts had come rushing back. But not just the hurts, the good times, both as Rangers and as care-free teenagers. He'd seen the knowledge in Kat's face; she knew he still had feelings for Kimberly and she was afraid. She'd been terrified to lose him - but she'd never understood that he wasn't hers to lose. He'd never belonged to her the way he'd belonged to Kimberly.

They'd rescued their friends, but Tommy was stuck reliving a single incident of that fight.

Kimberly going after Kat with a prejudice. Kimberly, under the influence of evil, striking out at the very person she'd surrendered her power coin to. Striking out at the woman who'd replaced her in almost every sense of the word. When he'd pulled off his helmet, trying to reach her, she'd stared at him as if she'd seen a ghost. He's seen her starting to soften, seen her true self coming through the spell - until Kat had spoken up and ruined everything.

In that single, solitary look, he'd known she still cared for him and, despite the fashion in which she'd let him go, hope had flared. Kat had seen it - the fact she'd clung to him like a wet rag after the fight was very telling of her state of mind. Kat had known, he was sure of it, that it would be the end of her relationship with him. Tommy had done his best to reassure her of their friendship, even as he searched beyond her. He'd not seen Kimberly.

Jason had been around, getting to know those Rangers he hadn't seen since his appointment to the World Youth Peace conference, and catching up with Billy and the rest. Jason had given him a pointed look towards the door. It wasn't until Tommy'd finally disengaged himself from Kat, leaving her with Jason and Rocky, that he'd seen Kimberly - standing in the very position Jason had indicated.

Kimberly was watching him, her expression almost sad, and turned away when his gaze had met hers. He'd followed, catching up with her outside in the park sitting in the very place where they'd shared their first kiss. It was a location of both sadness and joy - a place of memories; a lot had happened - aside from their first kiss - at this place.

"Kimberly?"

She didn't turn, keeping her gaze on the lake beyond. "Are you happy with her Tommy?"

The wistfulness in her words caught him off guard. Happy with Kat? Happy enough he supposed, but she would never be Kimberly. She was a good friend, but not what he needed, and not who he wanted. The words stuck in his throat - he couldn't lie to her, even now after everything else. Instead he asked his own question, managing to keep the bitterness from his voice. "Are you happy with your mister wonderful, kind and caring?"

Her shoulders heaved, as if she'd caught her breath. He'd thrown the contents of the letter at her without thinking - he'd never known the name of the guys she'd dumped him for. He hadn't expected her reaction.

"Kim?"

She turned, tears in her eyes. "Things aren't going so well, Tommy."

He was with her in seconds, sitting himself on the nearby bench and drawing her down with him. "Talk to me, Kim."

He momentarily wondered why he was encouraging her, wondered why he was begging for more heartbreak, but one look at her face and he knew. Because this was Kimberly. Regardless of the hurt she'd caused him, she was hurting now and he'd never been able to stand the sight of her in pain. It filled him with powerful urges to make her smile - and to fix her problems. He wanted to be her White Knight - literally and figuratively.

"Everything's all wrong." Kimberly's whisper was broken. "I thought I'd made the right choice, but I didn't. He simply wanted to use me to further his own career. I thought that maybe, because we were both gymnasts, it would help... all it did was eventually break our relationship." She paused. "I know we said we came back to surprise you guys, but I came back to surprise you. I know you have Kat, but... I miss you, Tommy."

They were an echo of words said in that very spot years ago when they'd begun walking down this road. The memory of what had happened after she'd last said those words were forefront in his mind, and the desire to do it again was ever present.

He lifted his hand, and gently brushed her bangs from the side of her face, using the opportunity to use his finger tips to caress her cheek. "I don't have anyone, Kim. Kat tries, but she's not you and she knows it. She saw my face when we first found out you were captured; she's been denying the obvious for a long time now. Kat is a friend, a good friend, but what we have is all on her side. I just don't care about her that way. I never have."

"Tommy?"

"Yeah?"

She searched his gaze, looking for something. "I'm sorry I hurt you. I'm sorry I didn't trust what we had - that I ran and took the coward's way out; and most of all I'm sorry I sent you that letter. I know I hurt you, and I didn't mean to."

"Sorry." His hand dropped to the back of the bench. "You did more than hurt me, Kim."

"I know."

"Do you?" It was his turn to search her face for something. "Do you really?"

She nodded, biting her lower lip. "Billy told me."

"Did he tell you about Heather too?"

Kim nodded. She'd kept in touch with everyone except him after that letter. Six weeks of wondering.

"Did he also tell you how it tore me apart even trying to think about another girl - woman? Did he tell you how I cried myself to sleep nightly because my girl decided I wasn't good enough for her? Did he tell you how I tried to write you back a thousand times, only to tear each one up?" The hurt he couldn't hide spilled over, and his words were accusatory; as if to say she didn't have a clue what he'd gone through. "Or about how I did my best to be supportive of your choice both inside as well as out? Or how I regretted letting you go and encouraging you to follow your dream? Did he tell you how I mentally beat myself up for losing you and not being able to do a damn thing about it? Or how I wracked my brain looking for ways to win you back?" His gaze pierced her in a punishing manner. "Did he, Kim? Because if anyone knew the hell you put me through, I'd be really surprised."

She looked away, unable to hold his gaze. "I'm sorry, Tommy."

"Me too." He made to leave, pausing once he regained his feet. "I'm sorry things didn't work out for you and mister wonderful, kind and caring Kim. I hoped, for your sake, they would."

Tears glistened on her lashes when she looked back to him. "He wasn't worth losing you Tommy. I didn't see that until it was too late."

His smile was humorless as he turned to leave. "That's how life works, Kim. We don't appreciate something until we lose it. It was good to see you."

"Tommy, wait!"

He paused mid-step.

"Do... do you think we can ever be friends again?"

Friends. He didn't want to be friends with her. He looked back and regretted it almost instantly. She looked so vulnerable, so desirable - the woman who continued to haunt his dream, asking for something he wasn't sure he could give. Friends. He couldn't be just friends with her.

She must have read it in his face because she nodded, her lower lip trembling as she fought to hold onto her composure. "Can't we try?"

He considered it for a moment and made his decision. For better or worse, he wanted her in his life, even if it was just a peripheral part. She was an essential part of him he couldn't deny. "Write me a letter, Kim. If I write you back, we can try."

And try they did.


Tommy received his first letter while Kim was still in Angel Grove. It was three pages, an explanation as to why she'd written the last letter he'd received - the break up letter - what had happened since then, and her new aspiration of becoming a teacher. She spoke of plans to move back to Angel Grove to be with her family and friends now that Gymnastics was becoming a minor part of her life. She spoke of wanting to become involved with the local gymnastics league and to give others the opportunity she'd been give for the PanGlobal games. She spoke of regrets - how she regretted leaving him behind. How she regretted being a coward; how she regretted giving up being a Power Ranger despite having felt compelled to follow her dream.

Tommy spent the better part of a week deliberating about what to write her back. He finally did, making his decision to step back out on a limb and give her a second chance.

Dear Kimberly,

I got your letter, and since I'm writing you back, I guess we can try and be friends. It's going to be hard for me though. Your explanation as to why you wrote a letter to break up helps me understand what you were thinking at the time and I thank you for that. I spent a lot of time trying to understand why you did what you did, and see, the funny thing about letters is that you can't really talk to them and ask questions.

It must be your time as a Ranger talking when you admit to your fears - especially the fear of the kind of commitment we were edging towards at the time. I know how much you hate to do that so it took real courage to admit them to me.

I don't blame you for running. I'm hurt you felt you needed to run from me, but I think I do understand. You see, Kim, I was running from you too. We were getting pretty serious and I know it freaked you out - it scared me too. I guess we just reacted in different ways. I wanted to share my fears, to overcome them with you together. You cut your losses and ran - a decision I can tell you regret now. That, more than anything, is my reson for giving you a second chance.

There's one thing though.

You were a Ranger and you'll always be a Ranger; and Rangers stand and fight for what they believe in. I believe in you and I, Kimberly. I always have and after your visit, I'm starting to believe it's possible again. The Rangers miss you, I miss you; you're always welcome to rejoin us.

Just so you know, Kat and I have called it quits - it wasn't going anywhere anyway - and she was relieved in a lot of ways. She's going to explore other relationships; she was disappointed at not being able to make it work with me, but she understands. It wouldn't have been fair to keep her to myself when all I felt for her was friendship. Especially not when the woman who still fills my thoughts is holding this letter.

Let's try and be friends. When you come back to Angel Grove, maybe we can talk about being something more if the feelings are still there. Until then, I hold you to no promises except friendship and wish you the best.

Yours,

Tommy.


Kimberly's reply wasn't forthcoming in letter format since he sent it while she was still in town.

Instead, she showed up on his doorstep, her pink jacket sitting easily around her shoulders, the smile on her face lifting his spirits. She threw herself at him, hugging him with an enthusiasm he had missed, her laughter delighted. "Can we really try, Tommy?"

He grinned, hugging her back before putting her back on her feet. "Didn't you learn anything while being a Ranger? Anything is possible, Kim. Anything."

Her smile was all the answer he needed.

fin