Disclaimer:The Power Rangers and all related characters belong to Saban Entertainment and Disney. Other characters are of my own imagination.

Author's Introduction: This story is set in 2008 and has no connection whatsoever with any of my other stories. It is AU. I had started to post this story about a year ago, but only posted a few chapter before I had to remove it after computer failure- a year on, I have learnt to save all my work in multiple locations and decided it's time to start posting this fic. It's very different from my other stories and in all honesty, it's a big step into the unknown for me- but at the same time, I see it as a challenge. Nothing like adding a bit of variety to the old portfolio.

Rating: M (Some coarse language, sexual references, suggestive sex scenes and adult themes)

Genre: Drama / Romance/ Angst

Season: MMPR and DT cast – Post DT AU

Summary: Now 29, Kim, Tommy and Jason discover they have led 3 very different lives as their paths cross over once again. As two give love a tentative re-trial, the tragic secret of the other will have severe repercussions that will change their lives forever.


Afterglow

Chanelle Summer

Chapter 1 – Kimberly's Catalyst

I'm as nervous as hell.

I can distinctly remember this same feeling before the tryouts for the Pan Global games, or the moment I decided on what outfit I would wear on my first date with Tommy Oliver back when I was sweet-sixteen. Every defining moment in my life was always followed with the same suspense and despite all the years that have passed and all those milestones, one thing is still the same.

The catalyst remains.

You never really think about how things are going to be when you get older. Change is as foreign to you back then as the thought of some science lecture actually being worthwhile. Those are the times when you swap friendship bands and promise that you'll never take them off - even now, as I see their faces sweep behind my closed lids, I remember the feeling of having that one connection wrapped around my wrist.

Now, you're probably thinking this is just me reminiscing at a time when I'm feeling vulnerable. I'm nearly thirty, and the radio has repeated the date almost six times on the short drive to the drug store. The holding hands and candy-sugared banners on the sidewalk are just another reminder that it's Valentine's Day.

The domino affect started as I pulled out of the driveway of my apartment complex, and all the sentimental flavors jeering from the car's speakers are only making it worse now. My parking is off; I catch the leering glance of an unwelcome pair of eyes as I embarrassingly catch my skirt in the car door and then proceeded to glance in the automatic doors as I enter the local shop front.

I was checking myself out! Jesus, how bad are things when I am so self-conscious that I need to reassure myself every two minutes that I still have it in me? My heels clicking on the laminate do it, and I instantly feel the buzz again as I wander down some aisle, my eyes sweeping off the oversized display of cards.

I am losing count now of how many times I've been in this situation and some voice is coming my way, but I am clearly too delusional to respond.

"Kim?"

"Ooh!" I hoot out a little, grimacing freely as I whack myself in the shin spinning around.

"Why are you here? I thought you were spending the day with Luke?" Carmel Morrissey narrows her eyes at me.

This is what best friends do when they approach the big 3-0; they reminded each other that they are still alive and have a place in the world around them.

"I have a disaster on my hands," I reveal more dramatically than I had planned.

Carmel rests her elbow on the nearby shelf, motioning lazily toward my outfit. "Let me guess, he got the wrong message and tried to jump you when you showed up to lunch with your skirt tucked in your g-string?"

"What?" I sputter, spinning around and reaching my hands to the thick waistband, before horridly jerking at the tangled material. "Damn it," I whisper, covering my face in my hands. "I have had a really bad day."

"What did Luke do?"

I practically scowl under my breath at this point, but it's actually directed at myself. "Luke was fine; lunch was great, thank you very much for recommending that restaurant-." I pause, suddenly wondering why on earth I punish myself like this.

"You look good in my skirt," Carmel offers. "But you should have worn the turtleneck-."

"I can't be with him," I suddenly admit. "I can't stand him; I can't stand the way he talks, the way he analyzes everything and God! I can't stand the way he goes on about 'reaching your potential' and oh yeah, the way he knows everything about me- do you know how many times he brought up the incident at 'Middy's'?"

"So, three dates on and once again you can't stand him, but yet when he calls your cell tonight, you'll somehow agree to another date?" Carmel leans toward me with big eyes. "Are you sure you're not scared?"

"No."

"Are you sure you're not being picky-."

"No-." I sigh. "God…it wasn't even what I said, it was what I didn't say."

Carmel's head tips awkwardly to the side, and she knows it's bad. I'm transparent as a book; forever tactful, but I always wear my heart on my sleeve, even on days when the temperature swells above one hundred degrees.

"Hey, Carmel- John's on the phone for you."

I glance at one of Carmel's younger co-workers and I want to cry. I need to pour my heart out, and someone else wants to steal my best friend's attention from me?

Reminder ten for the day: everyone else is in love but me.

"I will come over tonight," she promises me, as she slips away, almost running into a customer.

I try not to look so pitiful. "You'll be at dinner with your husband, remember?" I call out, pouting a little as she stops and glances at me one more time.

Now I really wished I kept as many spare friends as I keep spare lipsticks and hours in my day.


My apartment is a great indication and reflection of my life. I can't remember a single time when a guest has ever commented on how great it looked, or mentioned how totally divine the scatter pillows are on the floor. And no one has certainly ever remarked on how the curtains go so well with the décor.

Nothing matches. It doesn't look like a concise unit, but more so like a jigsaw puzzle displaying all the various stages in my life. I can distinctly remember all times when I dreamed about being a fashion designer in my junior year and making sure I was the one who wore the first pair of leg warmers to school. I was sure I had it made back then.

The oven mittens on the wall in the kitchen were from my grandmother before she passed away; at that time, I was graduating from college and wanted to do and experience everything under the sun because I couldn't commit myself to anything. I was, how do you say, suffering from 'post-rangeritsis'; Freedom was finally on my doorstep and it was the greatest feeling of achievement.

I gradually discovered that a career in advertising wasn't my thing. I was impatient, and I wanted more. I didn't have a very good head on my shoulders then, either, and that's when I went through the 'modern' stage; neutral colors uneasily blended in the ferry-flossed belongings of my past. Despite telling myself at least once a month that I could make my apartment look soooooo much better if I just de-cluttered, I clung onto everything.

And I mean everything. I am the ultimate hoarder and seem to be missing the part in my brain that stops me from repeating past mistakes.

Like talking on the phone when I get in this mood.

"What's wrong?"

His voice is patient, but despite everything pushing me to speak, I can't because I feel so guilty at just dialing his number.

He sighs, clearly loud enough so I can hear it. "Where are you?"

"I'm at home," I finally reply. "I know I shouldn't be calling this late, but nobody is answering the phone."

The last line comes out slurred and he chuckles a little. "How much have you had to drink?"

I glance at the mug of cold coffee in my lap and smile a little. "I'm not drunk, Tommy I'm tired…I was out all day and completely forgot to check the mail when I got in, and when I did, I got your card…"

I flip open the boldly colored card. "'Dear Kim, Happy Birthday, From Tommy.'" I read out loud, before tossing it gently to the lamp table beside me. "That is the most depressing thing I have ever read."

"I didn't even know if you still lived there," he points out. "Last time I visited, your neighbor told me some old guy was living there and so I sent the card thinking it might somehow be forwarded on to your new address."

I pucker my lips to the side of my face. "Mr. Fewster is off his head," I comment, thinking of my elderly neighbor. "And that doesn't excuse the message…I mean, it doesn't even look like your handwriting."

I am exaggerating, of course, but enjoying the way it stirs him none-the less. "Shouldn't you be too busy romancing with your life coach then to worry about my sloppy handwriting?"

"Don't you start," I warn him light-heartedly. "I have been on three dates too many this time and I've come to the depressing conclusion that maybe a decade on, I need to breathe my own air for once."

There's an irony about my comment, and indeed this whole conversation that you wouldn't really know about at this stage.

The silence hangs on the line for a moment, while I reposition myself on the floor and Tommy begins biting on an apple. The noise brings me closer to him, and I feel like he's right there in the room with me.

"Why are you calling, Kim?" he finally asks evenly, with just enough sincerity in his voice so that I know he's not being rude. He has a right to request, and I have a duty to tell him, even thought I realize my reasons aren't really good enough.

"I dunno. I don't…" A sigh. "Tommy, you've always been honest with me and what I need right now is an impartial voice to tell me what to do. I made a mess with Luke today, and he's not talking to me now; he told me that I'm holding him back. And to make matters worse, it screwed up my plans today and I lied to everyone and told them it was him, when it was me."

"What did you do?"

"You know how I mentioned him talking about the move to Seattle?"

"Oh, you mean the 'greatest opportunity'?" Tommy remembers, with a dry humor in his tone that makes me chuckle at the reminder.

I compose myself quickly. "Well, he told me today that he wanted me to come with him; that he wanted to give us another shot."

Tommy waits for it, but nothing comes out. "What did you tell him?" he asks with an almost protectiveness, all though I might be imagining it.

"I didn't say anything; I literally sat there, frozen and clinging to my cutlery, before he dropped his hand on the table and told me that it was a mistake to ask me. That's when he started going on and on about me not giving myself honestly to the relationship and then accused me of being selfish."

Tommy's good at being objective, but even I can imagine the expression on his face at this moment. Fortunately for me, he's still over an hour's drive away and I don't need to see it now.

So I change the subject before I get the chance to hear it. "So, how's work going?" I ask, my cheery tone instantly flicked on at the thought of Tommy dressed up as a scientist. I can remember the first time I'd heard that he was a teacher at a cosmopolitan high school up north, and no matter how hard I try now, I still keep on seeing the face of Billy Cranston instead of the physically dashing Tommy Oliver.

He even wears glasses nowadays. How I wish he would have gotten those some fifteen years ago so that I could have spent more time admiring his gaze, rather than dictating from the blackboard to him.

"…Kim?…Kim?"

I shake my head, almost making myself dizzy. "Yeah, I'm listening."

He sighs. "I have to go," he admits, but doesn't say why.

"Oh." My lips remain in an 'o' shape almost permanently as I wait for him to say something comforting, even some kind of generic birthday cheer.

"I'm always here to talk to you Kim. I know things haven't always been easy for you."

That's a good start. It's more promising than the usual awkward farewell.

"But-." He stops and I feel the muscles in my neck constrict. "You need to get yourself together. If something doesn't work, let it go and move on…it's the only way you'll ever find happiness…"

His words seem far away and I lower the handset and stare at it. I don't want him to hear the sniffle or the staggered inhaling as I realize he's right. I hate how he's right.

"Good night," I whisper softly, before I end the call.


"Happy Birthday!"

I blink, shyly scoping the room with expectant eyes, before I realize the reception isn't as big as I was hoping. Despite trying to hide my disappointment by pretending to glance at the new additions on the wall, I know it's hopeless and he doesn't hold back.

"Oh, Kimmy, what's wrong?" he asks in a grave expression that almost makes me laugh.

"I don't need another reminder that I'm twenty-nine," I smile, gratefully taking the wrapped gift from his hand and pecking him on the cheek. "And don't call me Kimmy."

He drops a hand on his hip and cocks an eyebrow. "How drunk did you get last night?"

I exhale a little, trying not show any offense, and plop my handbag on the counter. "I had a great day; great night. Didn't get to bed until four…Oh, and Luke and I are over…again."

John Morrissey is the biggest gossip I have ever met, even more so than his devoted wife, Carmel. There is a reason those two seem to 'fit' each other so well. Even though I know Carmel has promised me time and time again that everything we say is kept within the sisterhood, a bigger part of me always imagines her going home and telling John everything as they drift asleep in bed each night.

John seems genuinely taken aback, however, and like most men I have known, he doesn't know how to take my clipped tone or bleeding heart. I'm sure he's grateful that a customer came up at this point, and I am even more so, as I toss my locks into something resembling a ponytail and open my present with honest excitement. As much as I dreaded the day, I certainly am not opposed to receiving gifts.

"Wow." My eyes light up as I take the vase in my hand. "This is great," I turn to look at him. "Luke would hate it," I add, noting the spiraling colors that glazed over the artistically sculptured piece.

"I need to take some of these paintings over to Daniel Hoskings," John yanks up three over-priced canvases. "Can I take your car?"

"Sure," I nod quickly, pulling my keys from my bag. "Please don't hurt her," I ask him with big eyes.

He chuckles evilly as he leaves and I realize how quiet the gallery is. I never call it work- it is too much of a sanctuary to me, even more so than my own home at times. Most of the paintings are distasteful, at least to me, but then again I have never understood how flicking paint at a canvas was considered to be worth seven hundred dollars. I have my favorites, and I always hang them discreetly enough, but on an angle so I can still see them from the counter.

"Kim?"

I turn around and frown as John struts back in with a strange look on his face.

"I filled up with gas this morning and the adjuster on the seat is broken so you'll just have to squish your legs in to drive," I ramble presumptuously, stopping as he displays something in his hand.

"What is this?" he asks strangely.

I stare at the leather jacket hanging from his hand and shrug. "It's old. I'm getting rid of it."

His face creases up, the folds in his forehead making him look so much older than his thirty-seven years. "Why are you getting rid of all your stuff? You've got some classics in there."

"Yeah, well take what you want," I offer, dropping down on the stool behind me. "And you can take all the rest of it to the church down the road on your way…trust me, it's all old…it's...junk."

"Okay," he shakes his head, walking out of the door.

Thursdays are always quiet at the gallery. Since John and Carmel took control of the small, but profitable store, we could never really work out why that was the case. Even Carmel, who was the less artistic one out of the two, declared she preferred her casual job at the local drug store on such days because it kept her more on her toes.

Maybe people didn't feel very creative on Thursdays? Maybe they were too burnt out by the proceeding days of the week to even think about buying some picture of an abstract boat for their wall.

Usually, I take a long lunch on Thursdays and spend the morning before it arguing with John about which paintings should be hung up on what wall. His sibling-like charm is like eating several pieces of chocolate and makes me feel good.

Oh God, there it goes again- now I'm thinking about Jason Scott and how I used to get that feeling from him. The whole domino affect has started for the day, and pretty soon I'll find myself thinking about Tommy and analyzing our talk the night before.

And it goes on and on. Next birthday, I'm going to make sure I walk under a car the day beforehand, or even just drown myself in a mixture of vodka and cola so I don't go through this again.

"Morning," the postman strolls in the front door, flicking a discreet mess off his uniform as he passes me the mail. "Have a nice day."

I smile through a sigh as I grab the pile, shoveling them to the side and turning to the daily Angel Grove Gazette. I usually skip the first ten or so pages, heading straight to the astrology, but I notice something catch my eye and I stop earlier. Things must be bad if I am checking out the personal ads, especially if it isn't to make fun of them with Carmel.

The familiar tinkering of my car pulls up and I knowingly swing around, realizing half an hour has passed and I didn't even notice it.

"Did he pay?" I ask John hopefully, knowing all too well that our regular customer likes to buy, but rarely pays on time, despite his bulging business account.

John waggles a check in his hand. "Now I have a good reason to go to the bank. I might wait half an hour or so, there's one hell of a funeral precession leaving St. Patrick's and it was hard enough dodging the traffic to drop your stuff off…"

He pauses and flops on the stool beside me, tinkering away on the register as he speaks his mind. "Why you clearing your stuff anyway? I thought you didn't throw things away."

"I don't. But I guess I realized that half of my wardrobe consists of mini skirts and midriff tanks that just don't look right on me anymore." I pout, but smile warmly as he wraps an arm around me.

"You're still a beautiful girl," he compliments. "And you'll always be young to me."

"That's cause you're old," I tease him with childish delight, composing myself swiftly as an image draped in tailored threads steps through the glass entrance.

I turn my head away immediately and stifle my giggles as I hear John snap into sales mode. He literally has an accent when he talks with customers, and part of me never adjusts to his out-of-place persona.

"I'm here to see her," the visitor's deep voice declares.

I turn around, sweeping my bangs out of my face and stare. I have a habit of staring and zoning out. Picture it as though someone has pressed the pause button, only the rest of the world doesn't stop and I come out of it looking more than foolish.

He's good-looking. Tall, dark; good-looking. Brown eyes that take me back more than ten years and bring a girlish blush to my cheeks.

"I guess a Happy Birthday is in order?" Jason Scott asks, his lips curling upwards in his all natural allure.

--

Chapter 2 "Jason's Truth":

We shared a life together; everyday shared through one set of eyes so much so that now I don't know what to think of the world without her.