Disclaimer: Power Rangers is not mine .
: It's been a while since I wrote anything and I'm so glad to finally find the time and, sadly but true, mood, to write again.
: This is a one-shot and let's pretend like DT never happened in this universe. The letter is no longer an issue. The list of the reasons as to why she sent that letter, from the most cliché till the most extreme, is longer than an arm length so I decided I wouldn't get into it too much.
Sitting beside Meg, Kim felt as if she was pushing 82 instead of 28 years old. Her birthday was in 2 weeks and she remembered how she had freaked out more than little when she's going to be twenty. A two in front of her age… even with both eyes closed she still could recall her 13th birthday as if it just happened the day before. Not just that actually… being daddy's little girl until the divorce occurred, the earth's first pink ranger, the winner of 4 gold in the Pan Globals… oh and she mustn't forget her other title as the naïve seventeen year old girl who had sent a certain break up letter to a certain guy back in her hometown.
"You really should be up there," Meg Walker, another fellow journalist from the L.A. Gazette, said. There's a charity auction for children and families in Africa tonight and even though Kim would have personally preferred to make an online donation, somehow she found herself being dragged, pushed into Meg's white Mazda and driven to an old fashioned café called The Troops just a few blocks away from her apartment.
"Nah, I would feel bad for emptying those kind-hearted people's pocket just to spend a few hours with me. I'm not in the best mood today and I would a cranky old Kim instead of a charming, 27 going 28 Kimberly Hart," Kim replied half-jokingly. Her eyes caught a glance of a leering middle aged guy who had been setting his eyes on her ever since she stepped into the building and shuddered a little. "And I'm not sure I want to have people bidding on me like I'm a porcelain doll,"
"You could never be a porcelain doll, my friend," Meg snorted and turned back to enjoy the event. Up now was a tall young man with dark brown hair, perfect set of white teeth, a 2ooo suit and Italian shoes. Kim wasn't all that surprised when all women in the room nearly exploded with enthusiasm. If only they knew that Matt was not really interested in the opposite sex and thought Darren Hayes as his one and only. Matt was a good friend of hers; they had had some crazy times together, and she returned his grin when their eyes met.
Her finger traced circles on the oilcloth covered table. According to many loyal customers, The Troops hadn't changed much since it had been built in 1987. Two days after she moved to L.A., she found this place and fell in love almost instantly. Apparently the place was famous amongst teenagers as well as the older generations. They served the best quiche in town and the tables with umbrellas outside were pretty cute. It's all coffee, sandwiches, home-made ice creams and cakes in The Troops and for Kim, it was simply heaven.
Right after a blonde who looked much younger than her finally got Matt, her cell phone vibrated. Reaching into her pocket, a heavy sigh escaped her lips when she looked at the caller I.D. "Yes?" She said to the mouth piece while in the same time trying hard not to sound too frustrated.
"Hi Kim," Brandon called, the cheerfulness in his voice sounding as fake as Pam's boob job. However, the anxiety was apparent.
"What's wrong?" Kim asked, ignoring Meg's questioning eyes. Brandon was her former boyfriend. Not the Florida guy but someone who she'd met at the library when she was doing some research for an article. His blue eyes were the first thing that attracted her to him and as far as she was concern, now she thought that was pretty much the only good thing he had. He was like a brother... no joke there. She wasn't trying to reenact the heart-breaking moment that she'd initiated almost a decade ago, but Brandon did remind her of a younger brother… or a lost puppy would work too.
"How are you? You're okay?" He questioned again much to her impatience. They just met less than 3 hours ago but he was speaking like they had been apart for 3 years.
"What did you do?" Kim's voice raised an octave higher. Why she ever dated this man was still one of the world's greatest mysteries. Probably because he had acted like an adult for the first 2 months they'd seen each other or perhaps because he had been there every time she needed hi-, no, someone, unlike somebody else she knew… Of course, it was pretty tragic that he ended up being her shadow and following her around like, just like she'd said, a puppy.
"… Tommy Oliver, 28 years old, a Federal agent… who doesn't want to live dangerously? Isn't that sexy, ladies? Do you by any chance carry your gun? Because I'm sure everyone would love to see it…,' Betty asked the audience who cheered and Kim rolled her eyes. It was no secret that Betty Jackson harbored a Huge with a capital H, crush, on Tommy. Betty was looking at him like an eagle hovering over its prey and it wasn't such a big surprise when she shamelessly added, "Because if no one is interested, which I highly doubt, I'm the one who's going to bring him home!'
Since Kim was sitting at the front row, she was pretty damn sure her astonished expression wasn't missed by the great falcon.
"Actually, Kimberly…," Brandon trailed off. "I borrowed some money,"
"His hobbies include practicing martial arts, reading, skydiving, and guess what, ladies? This man here also loves to cook! His favorite food is Italian especially Lasagna and Penne all'arrabbiata. He indulges his soft side by watching the Notebook and going fishing. Mr. Oliver here is also a die hard fan of the Indiana Jones series and hopes one day could be the next Indi,"
Fishing? Since when did Mr. Oliver love to fish? "What?" Kim unconsciously asked, more to Betty than to Brandon who was still rambling on the other end of the line.
Tommy looked miserable up there and Kim was really trying hard to sympathize. A group of people that now she recognized as his co-workers whistled and cheered at one corner, thoroughly enjoying seeing his face turn crimson.
"It starts with… 300 dollars!"
"Aren't you going to bid? That's your man up there!" Meg hissed, her face pink with glee. Kim narrowed her eyes. Now that her so called man was up on the podium, Meg's motive for bringing her there was as clear as the day. Meg had a pretty good connection to some of Tommy's buddies in the Bureau.
"I call for 550!"
"550 dollars for Tommy Oliver!"
"Did you say something?" Kim nearly growled. Brandon and she had tried to make their relationship work, but he was just not who she had thought he was. It was her fault to jump into another relationship in such a short time but they managed to stay as good friends after the mutual break up. Being a good friend, she simply couldn't resist his request for staying at her place because he had been kicked out by his landlord. That's the reason why he had been staying with her for the last week and a half.
" 900 dollars!"
The woman sat next to Kim almost jumped from her seat, her hand reaching up and waving some cash. She felt her head spinning. It was difficult to maintain her sanity when every one was shouting, the love of her life was standing less than 2 meters from her and not to mention her ex-boyfriend was about to make a confession that she doubted she'd approve.
" 2,500!" Somebody called and everyone clapped, boosting her mood to bid even higher. "Make that 2,750 dollars,"
" 2,750 dollars it is. Anyone? Come on, this hunk is worth more than that!"
Tommy's eyes locked with hers for a very brief moment that felt like an eternity. For some reasons, he looked mildly amused and it made her want to kick something.
"Kim, are you still with me?" Brandon's panicked voice split her attention and what left his mouth next was enough to gain her full attention, even from Tommy who looked good enough to eat.
"What money and where did you get it?"
" 3, 250!"
"I knew where you kept your spare key and it's not much. I promise I will return it next week," Brandon added as if it would automatically make things all right. "Only 6,500,"
" 6,500!" Kim screamed. If only she was not too engulfed in her rage, she would have noticed that the café was now quiet, save for the melodic sound coming from the gramophone sitting near the marble- topped counter. She felt weak all of a sudden and her hand fell to her lap. She was torn whether she wanted to laugh or kill Brandon more.
"Okay…. What an offer! 6,500 dollars from this young lady at the front," Betty said to the microphone. "Anyone has higher bid than hers?"
"I'm so going to kill him," Kim vowed between clenched teeth. She was still oblivious to the stares everyone was giving her when she raised her hand, fully ready to bark at Brandon.
"Okay… 6,500 dollars going once,"
"Kim!" Meg grabbed the phone from her hand and put it on the table, a grin forming over her lips. "You're one crazy bitch,"
"… going twice!"
"You got him!"
"Sold for 6,500 dollars!"
Tommy didn't say much to her, graciously giving her the space that he realized she needed, and for that Kim was very much grateful. Once he hopped off the podium, the only thing she could do was stare at him like a five year old kid. He took her hand, led her outside and sat her at one of the tables. Then she lost it and rambled about the misunderstanding for the whole 10 minutes. The longest conversation they had since a few months ago.
"You know, this is a mistake actually," Kim repeated after a while, her eyes flying up to look at his face. Even in her worst nightmare, she'd never dream of being in this kind of situation. Brandon'd better do a final goodbye to his loved ones while he could because he surely wouldn't live to see daylight when she finally got home.
"So it's not legal," Kim's eyes nearly pleaded once she's done hyperventilating. "Then again, I don't bring that much money with me,"
"They accept cheques," Tommy replied. The glint in his eyes and his trademark lopsided grin made him look like he was actually glad about what just happened. She was not independently wealthy; they didn't pay her much. The inheritance Aunt Marge had left was more than enough but still, losing 13,000 dollars in 5 minutes was a major shocker.
"Don't tempt me, Tommy," Kim warned although she knew things couldn't be repeated. In a way, she was relieved because they needed to talk. "Do you bring your gun? 'Cos I really hope you're willing to come home with me and shoot Brandon in the head,"
"You wanted me to go home with you?" He asked innocently although the leer slowly creeping up his face betrayed his calm exposure. Receiving no responds, Tommy leaned over, hands propping up his head, and asked, "He's still staying with you?"
Kim exhaled. Tommy probably got the news from Jason whom received it fresh from Rocky. That or maybe he'd ordered someone to follow her around… one of his private eyes… Tommy WAS an FBI agent after all. FBI agent… if 10 years ago someone had told her that Tommy's going to be a cop, she would have thought that the person was joking. But then again, it's Tommy. Saving people, although not from some 10- feet- scaly monsters, was in his blood.
After leaving his uncle John's racing team, Tommy studied psychology in college. A few years passed and after graduation he applied for a job in a prison in North Carolina. 2 years had passed when he saw an ad on the paper in which the FBI was looking for people from diverse background. They were best friends back then, even with her being in California. The letter had been long forgotten and sometimes they even joked about it. There had been something special between them but no one'd made a further move. Not then anyway.
With a goal of being a profiler, Tommy had spent 3 months of training in the FBI academy in Quantico. He served with the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime which focused mostly in serial killers. While Kim thought that was outrageous, the idea of heading to potentially dangerous situations seemed to boil his blood and pump his adrenaline. Betty was making a point when she said Tommy loved to live dangerously.
"Not for long…," Kim mumbled, blowing her hair off her eyes. "After what he has done… my apartment will be a crime scene if I let him stay for a minute longer,"
"How are you?" Tommy asked, his eyes boring into hers and Kim felt the air around them getting heavier, making her difficult to breathe. A year ago she would simply lean forward and kissed those lips, but now she could only stare. She didn't know that he was back. Her guess was because there had been another murder in town.
"Good, busy as usual but it felt kind of nice. A nice distraction," Kim answered casually. The memory of their first official date was still fresh in her mind. Tommy was posted at FBI Los Angeles and whenever he got the time, he would come and visit her. It was a friendly visit until it happened: one fatal kiss. It was a total accident but neither regretted it. So they'd decided to give them another try; a new chapter to add into their lives. Both were different people and had told each other that they had no intention to go back or be what they used to be. They'd also said the L word that night and as far as she could remember, that was the last thing that had been said between them for the rest of the night. "How about you? I heard about the Butcher case,"
"I'm sure you did," Tommy nodded and Kim tried not to let her concern show. "You wrote some articles about that for your paper, didn't you?"
There had been a killing spree that killed 20 people in 5 weeks period in several states. The victims were being left suffocated and got their stomach cut out… the rest of the details were too much to think about. It was sickening, since after all, the murderer was called The Butcher.
"Yeah, I did,"
"We found a lead and he might be a she," Tommy smirked.
Kim's eyes widened. The information succeeded in making the journalist side in her tingle, but she managed to hold her ground. "That was interesting. It's a dirty work that acquires lots of strength… and you're telling me a woman did that?"
"It's the 21th century, honey," Tommy just had no idea whatsoever what he was doing to her. "Murder by poison isn't always necessary,"
"Are you even allowed to tell me that info?"
"Just because it was you," He reasoned. "Are you okay, though?" Tommy gently asked without a single trace of sarcasm. Kim's eyes softened. He knew the reason she'd asked for a time-off. He knew that because she was the one who told him.
"It's not easy," Kim said shortly, refused to elaborate even more. Being in a relationship with a man who had to face dangerous every minute of his life was difficult. Although considered a newbie, Tommy had been involved and solved a few big cases under his watch. As a journalist, Kim had had a fair few of interviewing some killers. They didn't look like Hannibal Lector, the genius. If anything, they had cold, steely eyes and emanated this suffocating presence. They're bad apples.
"We've talked about this. It isn't any difference with what had happened when we were still… on duty,"
"They're two different things; being a cop and a ranger. What you're dealing with is human. Psychos perhaps, but still human. Plus you don't have Saba to watch your back,"
"And the Pink ranger with her Power Bow?" Tommy dared to ask with a wide smile.
"I can't believe I spent 6,500 dollars just to have a conversation that we already had," Kim murmured and folded her arms in front of her chest. "It was for good cause but this is…," She paused and shook her head.
"So basically our time-out was no use, seeing that you had to cover stories about what I was doing anyway. Not to mention you ended up dating that Brandon guy who borrowed some cash without saying anything," His eyes hardened at the thought of her being with somebody else that wasn't him. "And why is he still living with you? I can put a restraining order on him if you want,"
Kim chewed her lips, choosing her words with extra care. "It was nice actually, having someone around. He's always there,"
When his hand slid around hers, her heart nearly stopped altogether. She had missed his touch and having him this close to her didn't help much.
"Say, what if I promise I will call you three times a day?" Tommy asked in a tone that made her wonder whether he was serious or only pulling her leg.
"I just need to know that you're still alive and not dying somewhere near the reservoir,"
"The only time I go near the reservoir will be only to collect some evidence,"
"We can't just jump back to the saddle, Tommy, as much as I want to. If it were as simple as that, we would have worked things out the first time we talked," Kim's gaze reverted to an old couple sitting 2 tables from them. Kim realized that she was acting like a teenager, but she's almost 30. She wanted stability and it was hard to get when she hardly saw the man she was dating. The truth was that he could get killed anytime and her nightmares had woken her up late at night more than once or twice. Things got even harder when she'd finally accepted the fact that Tommy was the only person who ever said 'I love you' and didn't scare her off.
She had been being selfish by wanting to protect herself from more heartache by cutting him off again from her life. But this time was different. She wouldn't wait for another 10 years to put things right. She loved him so much; she could feel it in every fiber of her being. However, instead of telling him just that, she said, "Why can't you be a counselor in some high school…,"
"High school?" His eyebrows rose. "Did you really think I have the-,"
"It's a rhetorical question, Tommy. You don't have to answer it," Silence fell over them like a warm, comfortable blanket. The evening breeze whistled in her ears and Kim silently thanked Tommy for lending her his oversized suit. He still used the aftershave she'd once said she loved on him and it warmed her even more.
"Are you willing to give us another chance?"
"Maybe is good enough for me,"
Tommy winked and inched his face closer to hers. The fingers underneath her chin and the intensity in his eyes held her captive. Kim knew what was coming and although the majority of her heart wanted to embrace and welcome it with open arms, she immediately put her finger over his lips. "You don't think a kiss could make things back to normal, do you?"
"A guy is allowed to hope, don't you say?" Tommy whispered and Kim would love to continue if only his beeper didn't choose that time to go off. She tried not to groan but her eyes conveyed much. "Sorry,"
"It's pretty cool actually. Feels like I'm dating Zorro or Batman," Kim winked. "Say… when you finally catch this sicko… will you give me an exclusive?"
"Your bed or mine?"
Kim burst out laughing, feeling his fingers tighten around hers. "Well, if that's what you think of an exclusive, I wouldn't mind doing one with Brad Pitt,"
"Angie won't appreciate it,"
"So? I was and still am a loyal fan of Brad and Jen,"
"Do you mind if I tag along?" She asked though she knew what his answer was going to be. With a pout adorning her face, Kim added, "You owe me 6,500 dollars and I still have 4 and a half hours left to be with you. The least you could do is let me go with you,"
"How about a promise that I will make it up to you this weekend? And then we can really talk about this relationship and where we're going to go with it," Tommy offered.
"I have had enough experiences in the past not to get my hope high, so I'll just cross my fingers," Kim teased and did so.
"I will call you, I promise,"
"In the meantime maybe I should head home and think a demise plan for Brandon," She was certain Brandon was not going to run away with her money, but he'd better have had a good explanation. He was probably acting like a kid most of the time, but he still carried responsibility on his shoulders. "You're positive I can't go with you? We can be like Mulder and Scully. We'll make one hell of a team,"
He squeezed her hand before standing up and accepting his suit. "See you later,"
"Hey Fox!" She called and grinned when he stopped, turned around and looked at her with a mixture of curiosity and hope. She simply walked to him and wound her arms around his neck before tip toeing and meeting his descending lips. He pressed her closer to him as his tongue plundered her mouth, passionately taking what he had been longing. More than one passerby whistled at the emotional exchange but neither really noticed. After a while, she broke the kiss. "It doesn't mean we're okay, just… for luck,"
"Doesn't mean anything," She insisted, her eyes twinkling mischievously.
Tommy leaned down, pecked a kiss onto her forehead and sprinted to his car before she could protest. She still didn't know what would happen with them but now that she thought about it… living dangerously didn't sound too bad.