Last Revised: September 9, 2008
Summary: Kim finally comes home…
Rating: T for now
Author's Notes: This is a Kim centric story, and may or may not include her pairing up with another person at some point. I wanted to do a more adult outlook on Kim, and some of this is based on my own experiences as the child of divorced parents who still struggles with relationships on a daily basis. I'm not sure if this should be continued, that will be up to whether inspiration hits for some more and on reader response. I'm truly interested in whether or not all of you would like to see it continued.
Disclaimer: I only own Mia and Mackenzie, the rest is owned by Saban and Disney. The Song is owned by Daughtry.
Dedication – The gang at Perfect Chemistry! ROCK ON!
"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for flying Northwest Airlines, and on behalf of the crew, I'd like to welcome you to Angel Grove, California. Have a pleasant stay."
For one passenger on the large plane, it had been a long time coming to hear those words. Twelve years had passed since she'd last called Angel Grove home, but here she was, suddenly coming back to the place she'd always considered her safe haven from the world. She'd only been back sporadically over the years – for Trini's funeral, Rocky and Aisha's wedding, Jason and Kat's wedding, the birth of Tanya and Adam's daughter, Billy's homecoming, the premiere of Zack's first movie and of course, Tommy's graduation. Now she was home permanently, twelve years after she'd first left. It was long overdue. She had promised once to return, when her dreams had carried her through the Pan Globals, and then the Olympics, but those dreams had mutated into others, which until recently, had kept her in sunny Florida. Taking a deep breath, she tried to get her body to relax. She was home, she could start over; the nightmares of the last few years could be put on the shelf, tucked away so they didn't pop up every time she turned around and destroy the life she'd been trying to build in the wake of so much tragedy. The little girl next to her was sound asleep, and for that, she was thankful. Her overactive child had spent the majority of the flight asking dozens and dozens of questions, and she was grateful for the silence.
"Miss, we've landed," one of the flight attendants spoke up, causing her to realize she and her daughter were the last ones on the plane.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. Carefully, she gathered up their bags before maneuvering her arms under her child. Slowly, she made her way down the aisle and then up the ramp into the airport terminal.
She hadn't told anyone she was moving back to Angel Grove. Part of that had been because she hadn't wanted to disturb their routines; the other part had been self preservation. She hadn't wanted to be faced with familiar faces, didn't want to have to explain her reasons for moving back. She was ashamed that she hadn't been able to make her marriage work, and even more ashamed to say she felt relieved that the father of her child had wanted nothing to do with their bundle of joy, allowing her escape to the safest place she could think of. She knew once she was settled and word got out, there would be tons of questions, and the answers would be revealed. A tiny voice in her head screamed that they would be disappointed in her, but the woman at the heart of who she was knew better; she'd been through too much with her friends, her family, for them to ever be disappointed in her. If anything, they'd be more than willing to help her through her ordeal.
Sighing, she moved from the gate down the long walkway toward the escalator to the baggage claim, all the while wondering how she was going to get their bags with her sleeping daughter in her arms. Just as she got past the final security checkpoint, she found herself staring at a familiar figure, her eyes misting over as several others soon joined him. Her lips trembled as she stopped in front of them, relief flooding ever cell in her body.
"You are one hard woman to track down," the man in front of her told her, his voice slightly accusing.
"How'd you find out?" she breathed, shifting her daughter in her arms as the child began to wake up.
"Your mom had the good sense to give Kat and me a call this morning, to see if you'd gotten in safely. Imagine my surprise, and hers, when we realized you hadn't told any of the gang you were coming home."
"Jase…" she started. Suddenly, Aisha was standing next to her, slipping her little girl from her arms before Jason pulled her into a tight hug, one that caused the walls around her to suddenly burst from the force of her pent up emotions. She sobbed harshly into his chest as the pain of the last three years finally found its way to the surface. She felt relief as his strong, protective embrace enveloped her. This man, whom she'd called friend for her entire life, had always been the one she knew, without a doubt, she could count on. No matter what she'd done in her life, who she'd hurt or where she'd gone, this man had always loved her, been her support and her protection, had been her soul's brother through thick and thin. He had accepted her whole heartedly when others had denied her, had lifted her up from the deepest, darkest hollows of her heart and soul, and had shared with her experiences no one else would ever have. He had been her anchor, and God willing, he would help her find her way through the despair that she was so steeped in.
After her crying had calmed, she was aware the others were around her. Kat stood close, a hand on the back of her head, her softly accented voice murmuring words of comfort and love. Her eyes sought Kat's brilliant sapphire ones, an understanding flowing between the two. Like with Jason, she and Kat had a bond no one else would understand. Though they hadn't always been the best or closest of friends, they had shared something in their youth, something that had given them the strength, tenacity, and grace to be the heart and soul of their teams, to be the glue that had once held twelve people together. It had warmed her heart more than she'd ever be able to admit when she'd learned that her brother and Kat had found each other. Both had struggled through relationships post their retirement from the adventures of their youth, but they had finally found their missing half in each other. When she stepped out of Jason's arms to hug Kat, she had the sudden image of another couple she'd once known – the one everyone had called the fairytale romance. Jason and Kat were the real thing, not a fairytale, and she prayed they'd always be together, that neither would experience the heartbreak she had during the demise of her marriage.
She smiled through her tears when Kat nudged her toward the pair standing beside her. Tanya and Adam were patiently waiting, their daughter tucked in Adam's arms, still sleeping. Mia had to have been going on five or six, if her memory served correct. She looked more and more like her mother, with her father's nose and mouth, then she'd ever realize. Tanya's strong, slim arms enveloped her in a hug, followed by Adam and Mia snuggling close. The little girl opened her eyes momentarily and smiled. "Auntie," she whispered, a grin splitting her features from ear to ear. "Mack?" she asked softly.
"In Auntie Sha's arms," she whispered, pointing to where Aisha stood, holding onto a sleepy looking but definitely awake three year old Mackenzie.
"Welcome home," Adam whispered in her ear before letting her completely pull away. Adam and Tanya had only been her friends since high school, but like Kat, they'd shared experiences with her many others couldn't comprehend. She and Adam had a deep understanding of who the other was, having quested for the power together once, long ago. They had been bonded not only through power, but through spirit as well. Though she and Tanya hadn't served on a team together, they did share a passion for music, and between that and having been on the team, they had found a mutual understanding. The fact that Tanya had never judged her for what had gone on once she'd left the team had helped tremendously.
Zack and Angela were next. They enveloped her in a hard hug; Zack's arms a vice around her body. She felt herself tremble, and then heard her brother's soothing voice in her ear, reassuring her that she was safe and loved. Like Jason, Zack had been there for so long that she just naturally thought of him as her brother. Zack had been there, a constant light through her pain and sorrow. He had been a kindred spirit when they'd lost their fathers only weeks apart two years before, but above all else, he'd always managed to lift a smile from her heart, and for that, she couldn't have been more thankful. It was his smile, now, that was easing the tension in her, as she pulled away from him. "Welcome home, baby girl," he whispered, kissing her forehead.
Turning, she found herself facing Rocky and Aisha, her daughter held securely by her godmother. Rocky quickly darted forward and threw his arms around her, crushing her to his chest. The former prankster said nothing, content to hold her tightly. She felt his strength seep into her and welcomed it. Rocky had always been quietly strong to her, his spirit indomitable and larger than life. Rocky, she knew, understood one thing about her far better than the others may ever – the desire to follow her dreams from so long ago, and the grief at watching those dreams fall apart. Though circumstances had been different for both, they had both strove to achieve their dreams away from their team, and had felt those dreams eventually shatter. At one time, Rocky had wanted to compete internationally as a martial artist, and even had tried out for the Olympics several years ago, until a freak car accident had nearly killed him. It had taken every ounce of strength he possessed to come back from it, and he had, far better than any had expected, but his martial arts career had been limited to teaching instead of doing. When he let her go, she faced Aisha, who still held her daughter. The two shared a silent communication – the bear and the crane had been soul sisters from the start, and that had never changed. She knew Aisha was hurt that she hadn't called to tell her what was going on, but she saw Aisha understood, just from the simple, quiet look her friend was giving her, that she would tell her, in time, when she was more comfortable with what had happened.
At Aisha's nod, she turned to the last person in the group. He stood alone, his hands in his pockets, a smile on his face and an understanding in his eyes that nearly undid her. "Welcome home, Kim," he greeted before she moved to hug him. Billy held her against him, knowing she needed the comfort, even though she'd received so much already. Like Jason and Zack, he'd been there, far longer than the others of the group. He'd seen her at her best and her worst, had seen her through triumph and failure before they'd served the power. He was the only one other than their Falcon who'd been deep inside her heart, having switched bodies with her once upon a time. He knew her secret desires, her fears, knew what drove her. Ever since that incident, they'd been as close as friends could be, and the fact that he hadn't given her a stern look for not telling them let her know that he understood, that he was going to be there to help her through.
"So, shall we go get your bags?" Jason asked when she took her daughter from Aisha's arms.
"Sounds like a good idea," she tried to grin.
"Where are you staying?" Aisha wanted to know as the group took the escalator down to the baggage claim.
"Dad left the house to me, and since I never got around to selling it, we're going to be staying there. My Aunt Katrina said she stopped by and cleaned it up for me, so it should be pretty much ready."
"We have one stop to make before we take you to your house," Jason grinned, looping his arms over her and Kat's shoulders.
"Oh really? Where?"
"I'm staring out into the night, trying to hide the pain. I'm going to the place where love, and feeling good don't ever cost a thing, and the pain you feel's a different kind of pain. Well I'm going home, to the place where I belong, and where your love has always been enough for me. I'm not running from, no, I think you got me all wrong. I don't regret this life I chose for me, but these places and these faces are getting old, so I'm going home. Well I'm going home."
She couldn't help but sigh as she stared out the window in the backseat of Jason's truck. Kat had switched the station over from something extremely bubble-gum pop and rap laden to one of the adult contemporary stations, and the song that was blaring through the speakers just about broke her heart. The first time she'd heard it had been the night she'd decided to pack her things up and move her and her daughter cross country. In the months since, it had become her anthem, the chant she repeated as she prepared herself, and her child, for a new life.
In reality, though, it wasn't a new life for her; it was her return to the life she'd left behind so many years ago. She wasn't the same person she'd once been, the cutesy, pink-loving teenager had been transformed into a woman, one who knew the burden of responsibility, who knew that the world was a cruel, cruel place when it chose to be. She was also now a mother, so she no longer had just herself to look out for, but a child that had been created out of love to protect and cherish and help grown into a confident, independent, successful woman herself.
The tiny hand gripping hers brought her from her solitude. She turned her gaze from the window and looked down into the shinning, chocolate brown eyes of her little girl. For a second, she would have sworn that her daughter looked, not like her actual father, but like someone from her past, someone who'd been much beloved at a very crucial point in her life. She swallowed hard and pushed the thought away; it was one of many dreams from her girl-hood that she'd carefully tucked away many years before. They were close friends now, as close as they probably ever would be given what had happened between them. Thinking of the might-have-been's was best left for another day, when she was on her own and could take them out and accept them in her own time and space. "Mommy?"
"Where we go?" the little girl asked softly, her eyes filled with questions.
"Uncle Jason has a surprise for us," she told her, watching her daughter's eyes grow huge.
"Weally?" Mackenzie asked in that adorable three year old voice that just made her mother fall in love with her all over again. It had been love at first sight for the young mother. It had been one thing to carry another life inside of her for nine months; it was something entirely different when that tiny life had suddenly been placed on her stomach instead of inside of it, eyes blinking rapidly to adjust to the light as she stared down into the face of the child she'd help create. It had been in that instant that Mackenzie had become her entire world. Nothing was more important than her daughter, which is why she was now facing a custody battle and an ugly divorce.
Round one had gone to her, as the judge had agreed that it was fine for her to take her child and move back to California. Her soon to be ex-husband hadn't ever really wanted children, but she had thought as the months of her pregnancy went on, he'd grown accustomed to the idea. She had been incredibly naïve, especially after Mack had been born, in regards to what he was feeling. It wasn't until someone had pointed out that Brad hardly even went near their daughter that she had noticed the change in the man she'd married. In the three years since Mackenzie had come into this world, their marriage had crumbled until there was nothing left. Bradley Drake wanted hordes of money, fast cars, trips around the world and loose women; he didn't want to be pinned down with a wife and a child.
"We're here!" Jason announced, causing the pair to look up in excitement.
"The Park…" she whispered, her heart soaring and breaking all at once. She slowly unbuckled her seat belt and all but crawled out of Jason's truck while Mackenzie was helped out by Kat and was fairly racing toward the playground equipment with Mia. For months, she felt like she'd been running from shattered dreams and a broken heart, and now she was once again in the place where she'd first dreamed some of those dreams, and where she'd given her heart, only it had been dreams of a life with another man. He'd been a man who she'd given everything freely to. It felt like a lifetime since she'd dreamed those dreams, too bad they hadn't turned out the way she'd first imagined. While she longed for days gone by, she knew that despite all the heart ache and pain, she wouldn't give up her daughter for anything.
Kat wrapped an arm around her shoulders and one around Tanya's while Aisha wrapped an arm around her waist and around Angela's, the five women watching their male counterparts play on the playground equipment with the two little girls. Standing in the middle of her friends, she felt a sudden, overwhelming peace envelop her. Looking past the playground equipment, she could have sworn she saw a familiar face staring back at her from the clouds above. 'I miss you, Trini' she thought sadly, before she tucked that personal anguish away again and focused her attention on her daughter.
"So, this was your big surprise?" she called out to Jason, who grinned and shook his head.
"Uh, no. That's waiting at your house; I was just stalling for time."
"I thought you didn't know where I was staying?" she suddenly questioned.
"Oh please. I asked your mom what your plans were and planned accordingly," he waved her off, picking Mackenzie up so he could push her on the swing. "By the time we get to your house, the surprise should be ready."
Her eyes narrowed in on her big brother. "Who exactly did you let into my house, Jason Lee Scott?"
He grinned nervously. "Um….just Bulk, Skull, Ernie, and a few other friends," he laughed.
There were lots of cars parked in her driveway. Some of them she recognized, others were a mystery, but the sheer number of them had her swallowing hard. Hadn't she just wanted a quiet homecoming, so she and Mack could settle into the new house? Did Jason really have to go and do something like this?
"Holy shit," Jason murmured under his breath. "I told those three to limit the guests…"
She cocked an eyebrow at her big brother before proceeding to the gate that led to the backyard, where all the noise seemed to be coming from. Her jaw dropped when she saw what looked simply like a massive Ranger reunion.
"SURPRISE!" some of them shouted.
"WELCOME HOME KIMBERLY!" Bulk, Skull and Justin called, causing her eyes to tear up. There was a banner hanging across the yard, people were in the pool, tables piled with food and seats for everyone were strewn everywhere and right in the middle of it all were her friends, her family.
"Oh guys, you shouldn't have," she grinned, speechless. Mackenzie clung to her until her little girl spotted someone familiar and squirmed to be put down. Kimberly gently set her daughter on the ground and watched as the three year old raced off toward a tall figure at the back of the crowd.
"TOO-MME!" Mackenzie called out, jumping into his open and waiting arms.
The sight of her daughter so excited to see her former flame brought tears to Kimberly's eyes; Mack had never done that with Brad, even though he was her natural father. The fact that she did it with Tommy, and she'd only met him twice did something to Kimberly's heart that the former Pink Ranger just couldn't describe.
She was suddenly crushed in a swarm of bodies and voices, everyone wanting a few precious seconds of her time. When she finally did manage to get free, she found Justin's arm around her shoulders before she set out to find her missing child and one of her best friends. "He's in the back, by the gazebo," Justin whispered in her ear before he nudged her in that direction. Surprisingly, everyone left her alone as she wandered to the farthest corner of the back yard where two people she loved dearly were swinging on the swing inside the gazebo.
"Hi," Tommy grinned at her, watching as her eyes misted over. Mackenzie was leaning against his side, sound asleep, while he rocked the swing back and forth.
"Hi," she whispered, leaning against the entrance to the gazebo. "I didn't realize how tired she was."
"Plane flight and time at the park with Uncle Jason and Cousin Mia, I wasn't the least bit surprised when she conked out," he chuckled.
"Thanks for watching her," Kim told him.
"It's not a problem, Kim. She's no trouble."
Nodding, Kimberly moved to sit on the ledge of the railing next to him. "I never realized how much she missed you, but then, I should have guessed; you do have that effect on people." She wasn't sure if he was blushing or not, because he had ducked his head to stare down at Mackenzie. "Tommy?"
He looked up at her and saw the look on her face. "Kim?"
"I've missed you," she told him softly, watching the smile caress his lips.
"I've missed you too," he responded, reaching out to take her hand. He was surprised by the intensity of her grip. It was if all his instincts when it came to her were suddenly as bright and as sharp as they'd once been. "Welcome home."
In that moment, Tommy realized how vulnerable she looked. His Kim, and she would always be just that, had been through so much – losing her powers, moving to Florida, the Murianthias incident, Pan Globals, losing Zordon and Trini, getting married, having her daughter, and watching her marriage disintegrate just like her parents' had. She'd stayed strong through it all, Tommy knew, because being weak wasn't a definition ever used in conjunction with the former Pink Ranger, but Tommy also knew that she was falling apart inside. She'd tucked everything away to appear strong to her family and friends, to be a rock and a constant for her daughter, but he knew her best; she was falling apart. It wasn't obvious to everyone else, but he could see it in her eyes, hear it in her voice. He had the feeling she'd come just in time; any more time away from her family, and of course her friends, and she'd probably have had a nervous breakdown.
"I should take her in and get her to bed," Kim whispered, though she looked pained at the thought of leaving him.
"Let me help," Tommy started, watching as Kim began to protest. Tommy shushed her even as he scooped Mack into his arms. "Kim, you're just as tired as she is. Besides, you've got to learn to lean a little again; you do not have to do everything on your own anymore, that's what you've got the rest of us for."
The former Ranger leader mentally cursed himself when he saw the tears welling in her eyes as she turned her head away in shame. "I can't help it; I've had to learn to do without help."
Biting his tongue, Tommy moved until he was standing right in front of her. She looked up in shock when he reached out and pulled her to him, hugging her with one arm while the other cradled the sleeping child. "Then I'm just going to have to teach you how. Now come on, let's get you both into bed before you pass out."
Both of them reeled in shock when Kimberly leaned against him, her face buried in his chest. It hadn't been planned; it had been pure instinct on her part. Being in Tommy's arms had always made her feel safe; even after all these years, she still considered it her haven from the world around her, even if now it was only offered in friendship. She could live with that, because it was her own decisions, and ultimately mistakes, that had turned it into a friends-only thing. Sighing, Kim pulled back and turned to leave, but not before Tommy reached out and took her left hand, twining their fingers together. She smiled up at him, gave his hand a squeeze and led him into the house.