Author's Notes: This is my AU-verse that I've been playing about since re-watching the first three seasons. Master Vile never turned back time and the Rangers' coins were not destroyed, so when the letter came from Florida, they still harnessed their Ninja coins and didn't need to go on the quest for the Zeo crystals. Hope you hang tight for this ride and its sequel, too! :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Pairing/Character: Kimberly, Tommy
World Spins Madly On
Chapter One: Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
You know she's there long before she even speaks. It's the way it is, or at least how it used to be. It's how you can feel her eyes burning a hole at the back of your head, or the quick shuffle of feet that is unique to her. It's the classic 'Aww man' moment.
"Put the sabre down, Tommy."
You turn slowly. She's clad in her pink outfit – you decide that it looks just like her Ninjetti uniform, but this – this is different, somehow. She's more built, more muscular. She even looks taller, even though you are still a full nine inches taller than her.
She says it simply, like 'We've got to go', or 'We're going out', or 'We miss you', and your heart wrenches at the thoughts, because these expressions are from a different time, a different place. A place you and she hardly belong now.
You don't put the sabre down; instead, you tighten your grip on the handle.
"Give me the key, Kimberly," you drawl out her name for the effect. You see her flinch a little, but the look pass just as quickly as it came and all that is left that you can see in those brown eyes are disdain and annoyance.
"You're not going to hurt me," she states flatly. It is the tone of condescendence, and maybe she is even a little haughty. After all, the both of you know who is in charge of this situation. Dammit.
"No, you think I'm not going to," you look her squarely in the eyes. She scoffs, and now it's your turn to flinch. You know she notices it. You know, because she gloats. You can't see beyond her mask but you know that little smirk of hers. The one she wears on her face every time she proved someone wrong, the one that appears every time she wins a battle. You used to like that, but now you're starting to re-think that opinion… You decide you don't like it used against you.
"Just put the sabre down." No emotions, nothing. You search desperately for a window of opportunity to strike through her humanity, but so far you can't. You know she's trying to piss you off with this muted range of expressions. You hate that. And she knows it.
"It doesn't have to be this way, you know," you try. You try to appear as nonchalant as she is, but you have a feeling you're failing miserably. She stares you down. Way to go, Oliver.
"I don't have to do… what?"
She scoffs again. It sounds like an empty cough. "Is this the best you can come up with, Tommy? 'This'? Tell me what 'this' is."
You don't want to. You hate to admit it, but you're afraid of the memories. You hate the memories. The never-ending wonders of Why? Why the hell? What happened? And so you stay silent.
"I'll tell you what 'this' is, Tommy," she insinuates, and you cock your eyebrows. You wonder what she is going to talk about. "This is about me losing all faith. This is about me questioning every thread of humanity I ever thought there was."
What the fuck is she talking about?
And so you tell her: "I don't know what you're talking about."
Your hand is still tightly gripping the handle of your sabre. You see the confused flashes in her eyes, which you're sure mirror yours perfectly at this moment. Then you start thinking about how classic this moment is – the two of you actually feeling the same thing.
You can never forget that day: Zordon had instructed all six of you to look in the viewing globe, and so you did. Then you couldn't believe your eyes, and neither could your teammates. Kimberly Hart, the first Pink Ranger, announcing in her own way that she was out to freelance for anybody for the right price. Your team is looking for a set of twelve keys; keys to unlock a great power. And Kimberly Hart had stolen four of them, right under your noses.
You still haven't figured out why.
"Stop playing games with me," she finally decides to reply. "Just put the sabre down, and let me pass. I'll even forget that I met you."
Your instinct makes you retort.
"What happened to the Kimberly Hart I knew, the Kim that won't hurt a fly? This is not you. The Kimberly I knew would do everything in her power to stop people from getting hurt. What happened to her?"
"She grew up." Three words. Just like 'I miss you'. And then you curse inwardly again.
"Kim – "
"There aren't any lines to draw. I'm not evil." But you're not good either, Kimberly!
"You're going against your ex-teammates." You plead with her, almost. You think she softens a little, but the next moment that hardened look is in her eyes again.
"People will love you, or people will betray you. I happen to believe the latter is true for me."
You are still confused. What happened to this woman you loved (and may still love, your heart argues) and why is she so cynical? Why is she acting in a way you never thought she could?
You put your sabre down. You don't know what she intends to do with those keys, but you believe it when she said she wouldn't use them for evil. For a split second you doubt your decision – after all, like you said, this isn't the Kimberly Hart you know.
But you think – know – she's still somewhere inside her.
She's gone, swift as the wind; graceful as the Crane.
You toss about in bed, and your eye catches a glimpse of the offending letter in the slightly open drawer. You can probably recite the contents by heart now. Still, you sit up in your bed and pick it up gingerly.
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.
This isn't the first time you feel a strong urge to just tear it into tiny little shreds. You resist it once again and place it back into the drawer, slamming it into the wall forcefully. The wall shakes and the painting (you've never figured out what possessed you to hang the half-assed attempt of a vase you've painted in that class you decided to take up in sophomore year up) almost falls out of its nail.
You glance at the clock.
You don't know how you manage to drift to sleep, but you did. A few hours after you wake up you decide to teleport to the Command Center, and so you put on your clean pair of jeans and a white wifebeater. Spending every minute of your spare time trying to decipher the codes and tracking down the locations of each of the keys actually makes you feel like you're doing something really good for mankind (since you aren't doing any good for yourself). Besides, you are the least busy in the team: Billy's pursuing his doctorate, Katherine's off somewhere dancing, Aisha's occupied with her animal shelters and helplines for animals, Adam and Rocky have their chain of dojos to manage (they've approached you, but you declined).
Sometimes you feel like Zordon should present you with a plaque that reads 'Most Dedicated Leader: Tommy Oliver!', because that is what you are. It wasn't like this appointed responsibility could be included in your resume, or even the sheer fact that everyone thinks you're just a good-for-nothing car mechanic still living in Angel Grove. And that's when you wonder if you're just plain stupid to throw your bright future away slaving away for the good of the world.
Then now, now that Kimberly's in the game… You know just how intelligent and how resourceful she is, and it is going to take you an even longer time now to even try to best her.
Somehow, in between these thoughts of you and her and what-ifs the alarms in the Command Center blare, and in brilliant flashes of coloured light, your teammates teleport one by one. All of you look at the viewing globe: It's just another one of those useless monsters sent down by whoever's fighting for the power for the forces of evil. You frown at yourself as you realize that a part of you want the intruder in the little town to be Kimberly; that if it is her, you get another chance to make sense of what is going on, and what she meant with the things she said.
Sending Rocky to take the monster down, you find yourself staring at the box containing the five keys you managed to retrieve. Kimberly now has four – five, you correct yourself, after being reminded that she got that key from your last encounter. There are still two more keys undiscovered, and you swear silently that you will get them back before Kimberly does.
Sometime during this mental debate, Zordon booms out with his deep voice, asking if you are all right. You say you are.
You know you aren't.
You don't know what spurred you on to decide that you want to walk home from the deserts today, but the long walk helps to clear your head – just a little. Besides, even though you still practise your martial arts religiously each morning for an hour, you want to be prepared for even the toughest opponent.
It must be your fatigue, or the assumption that your house is safe because you lock your doors and windows, or the fact that you have security cameras at every corner of your house armed with intruders' alert, because you are certainly caught off-guard when you find Kimberly sitting on your couch, as if she is supposed to be there. You stiffen immediately, as she stares at you and her eyes seem to bore holes into you.
"What are you doing in my house?" you ask quietly, all sorts of replies racing through your own mind. I miss you and I want to forget about what happened years ago; I want you back now, Tommy; Let's forget about everything, and we'll move to somewhere peaceful and quiet and just be us…
No such luck, you realize, as she stands up with deliberate measure. She is wearing a short skirt and a pink tee shirt. You hope she isn't here at your house picking a fight.
"I want those keys, Tommy," she answers your question, then with a glance around the house she adds. "Nice house, by the way. Your security system sure stumped me for a few moments."
"I'm not going to surrender those keys," you tell her, and then to yourself, not without a fight anyway. You see a small smile grow on her face, and you inhale deeply. "Why do you want those keys anyway? What use will the great power be to you?"
"I don't plan on using them," she tells you straight, and you frown. Even now, you can't figure out her plan. So you try a new tactic.
"Who do you work for?"
"My clients pay a handsome fee for their privacies, but if you ever decide to leave that post as the fearless leader of the Power Rangers," she shoots sarcastically, "then I think you can look for me to hook you up."
You just stare blankly at her, no coherent thoughts running through your brain. Who is this person, and where did she hide Kimberly? So before you even realize the consequences, you choke out the one burning question; the most inappropriate question considering the situation, but the one that has been on your mind for six years.
"Why did you send a Dear John letter to break up with me?" You cringe when you hear how desperately juvenile you sound.
Now she stares at you. You see something unfamiliar glaze over her eyes, and she shakes her head slightly, her eyes squinting.
You stay rooted in your position, still unable to process any thoughts. Then you walk into your bedroom, open the drawer and took the damned letter out. She stands just right outside your bedroom, left hand on your doorframe. You take another look at the letter, then shove it into her hands.
You look at her eyes. As she reads it silently, you think you see confusion, defiance, disbelief and determination all meshed together, dancing in those brown eyes. After what feels like an eternity, she puts her hand down, and looks straight into your eyes.
"I didn't write this."
Your heart skips a beat. You stare at the offensive piece of paper, then at her again, but she doesn't meet your gaze. Instead, her eyes are closed and the next moment you see a folded piece of paper materialise in her hands. You gape, and she cracks a small smile; a smile you didn't think you'll ever see again.
"Just one small perk for the freelancer," she tells you, then wordlessly she hands you the paper. In your heart, you seem to already know what it says, but you unfold it anyway and scan the words. This is your handwriting, but you swear to God, that is not you. You didn't spend six years agonising about a break-up over a letter to do the exact same thing.
Everything is fine here in Angel Grove. We're handling it as well as we could with everything life's throwing us. Kimberly, this is going to be one of the hardest letters I'll ever have to write. You've been my best friend, my confidant, my sister, but after you left something has happened here that I can't explain. It's both been wonderful and painful at the same time. Kimberly, I've met someone else.
Kimberly, you know I would never do anything within my power to hurt you. But I feel like I've found the person that I want to be with the rest of my life. She's wonderful, kind, caring. You'd really like her. Everything would be perfect if it weren't for hurting you. But I have to follow my heart. I will always care about you, Kimberly. Please forgive me.
The words from both letters are almost entirely identical and before you know it, conspiracy theories are running amok within yourself. You look up, hope illuminating your eyes (and they're a little moist, too), but she's gone. Again.
You don't hear from her until a week later. God, she catches you at the worst moments ever: this time you are huddled over the engine of your car, wondering what the hell is wrong with it. Your face is greased, a little stained, and you're all sweaty and smelly.
She stands behind you, and you don't even realize it until she speaks.
You jerk your head up and hit against the hood. Ouch. Sheepishly, you turn behind to face her, and she holds out a piece of tissue paper towards you. You accept it, wipe your face with it, and then when you look at her again, she seems to be exceptionally interested in her fingernails.
"You know, if you're going to check your nails in any part of this town…" you shoot her a genuine smile and just when you think she's going to, too, that unfamiliar, all-business look took control again and your smile fades. She moves closer to you, footsteps still a little uncertain and hesitant.
"I want to cut us a deal," she informs you matter-of-factly. "You can choose the easy way out, and we'll work together and get the remaining two keys. I'll withhold my duty to hand them over until after we figure out what the keys can do. Or, if you think your life isn't as screwed as it is already," you think she gloats, but you aren't sure. "You know I'm going to find a way to steal your keys anyway."
You're about to answer her when your communicator beeps. Holding your wrist near your mouth, you tell Zordon that you're listening. His booming voice informs you that there is another monster attack on the outskirts of the city, and you sigh, letting your arm drop to your side.
She looks at you expectantly.
"Look, I've got to go now, okay?" you tell her, because you know you can't make a decision about the keys without coming to a group consensus with the, you know, group.
She rolls her eyes.
"If I don't hear from you by this time tomorrow, I will assume you are going with the latter option." She doesn't miss a beat and instead, turns on her heels and starts to leave, but you grab her elbow. She's surprised… then you do the unexpected.
You kiss her.
As you pull away from her you see the shock in her eyes, and you shake your head, knowing in your heart that oh fuck Tommy you are a fool. You're the one to turn away now, but the next moment you find yourself spun a little around and for the whole two minutes after, you're savouring her taste as your mouths meet, your tongues playing catch and release, your hands touching her in the most inappropriate places; you're breathless but all you want is her.
Then as fast as it comes, she breaks the kiss and then stares in disbelief – of you, or herself? You can't decide. The two of you stay there in this awkward position (you realize you still have your hands on her hip, and quickly you drop the grip) and this time you avert her gaze and then you do the stupidest thing ever.
You teleport to the Command Center.
You don't pay attention to a single word that Zordon says, and you know he's frustrated with you. You apologise, take a deep breath, and when Aisha comes back, triumphant over the monster that was on the outskirts of the city, you tell them that Kimberly (you even manage not to flinch and even keep a straight face as you roll her name off her tongue) has proposed to join forces. Zordon seems surprised, Alpha is happy ('Oh, Kimberly! I haven't seen her for ages!') and the rest are in considerable shock.
Half an hour later no one has reached a compromise. For every pro, a con is tossed up to refute whoever's point, and you use every ounce of your determination not to scream the fact that, fuck, you know and they know that she is still Kim, and not just the villain of the month that you have to eliminate.
Finally, Zordon speaks. You wait with baited breath for the verdict, and he says Yes.
Your heart leaps with joy for a second, and then it sinks.
You don't know if Kimberly will ever want to face you again after what happened.
It's after dinner, and you're in your room again, mulling over what happened in the afternoon. Out of the blue, your communicator beeps a different tune – in fact, they are long and short beeps, and by the time you realize that it's Morse code, you've got the message when it repeats the third time over.
WAREHOUSE. 10 PM.