Author's Notes: I'm so going to pay for writing this with my school work, ahaha. But enough about that depressing thing. This is a '5 things' fic, which (for me) gained in popularity with the Veronica Mars fandom, and roughly described as 5 ficlets in one piece of prose, whether connected or not. My title is a tribute to the first 5 things fic that I've read, of the same title. This particular fic deals with five alternate realities that never happened, and one that might have. They're not connected in any way except if you squint really hard, and all of them happen in separate realities - you'll see what I mean when you actually read it! I've taken some liberties with the canon timeline. All reviews would be deeply appreciated!
Disclaimer: Nope, I don't own Power Rangers. If I did, the last ficlet will so happen. There's also some semi-dark themes that make make you uncomfortable if you're the squeamish type. And I must admit, the last ficlet borrows very heavily on Amy Jo Johnson's show, Flashpoint.
Wouldst That It Were
the five things that never happened and one that might have
They stay silent all through the car ride to the airport. No small talk about how they're going to stay in touch no matter what, no 'I'm going to miss you'. The space between is replaced by their hands roaming over each other, replaced by kisses, sometimes light and playful; heavy and passionate other times. It's as if they don't want to lose each other with their touches, grasping on to what's real at the moment and not wanting to let go.
"We're here," she says, regret lacing her words, finally breaking the silence. Tommy can feel something anchoring his heart, dragging it down when he realizes that Kimberly is going to fly across all the way to the other coast, and it'll be months and weeks before they can be back together in each other's arms.
He knows it's the noble thing to do, letting her go to fulfill her dream. Competing in the Pan Globals is one of the biggest honors the sporting world can offer, and she's going to fly higher and further than anyone else has. He's sure of it, because Kim's the kind of person to put in a hundred and ten percent of effort into anything she wants, especially for gymnastics.
But, god! He's going to miss her so much, and he isn't sure how he's going to get through his day without catching a glimpse of her in the hallway, or practicing on the balancing beam. Everything just looks so bleak.
"I guess… this is goodbye," he says, with some degree of difficulty.
"It's not goodbye, it's see you later, remember?" she chides gently, reminding him of their conversation weeks ago about farewells. She never does them well; the last time she had to say goodbye to her mother who's moved to Paris didn't go well at all. It's going to be major water works soon, if Kimberly knows herself.
He has to laugh in spite of himself. "And I will. See you soon, I mean. During Christmas break…"
She bites her lower lip and looks down on the floor. Suddenly her dream feels so small and insignificant, compared to what she's achieved in her life. This is supposed to be the most joyous occasion of her life, getting the opportunity to pursue gymnastics. It's been her dream since she was a little girl, ever since the day she started being interested in the sport. She used to have it all planned out. District championships, Pan-Globals, ranking at the trials, Olympics after that…
She never counted the fact that she would be roped in the fight for the universe and for her planet in between. When she accepted her power coin, she made promises to both herself and the team that she'll stand by them no matter what. And now she was going far away, away from the trouble, away from her duties.
Feeling the need to bring herself back into reality, she grabs Tommy and kisses him again, fervently and with much urgency.
She pulls away and looks at him apologetically. "Sorry. I just – I won't be able to do that while I'm there, you know?" As they start walking inside the airport terminal, people buzzing around and passing them by just make the whole thing more surreal than it should be. Kim feels a little silly, if anything. Like she's cheating her destiny and things are going to get screwed seven ways from hell once she's gone, but she doesn't tell him that. Instead, she smiles at him. He brushes a few strands of hair away from her face as they stand, looking at each other.
"If I asked you to stay, would you?" He says without really thinking, and when he realizes he has, he wants to slap himself silly. He can't be this selfish!
Her heart jumps a little. The truth is…
"Oh, Tommy. I've been waiting for you to say that! I've been waiting for you to ask me to stay. Oh gosh, I don't think I can go through with this," she rushes through it, tears springing into her eyes. "I thought this is going to be a dream, the ultimate fantasy, but I look forward to the future and I see nothing."
"Kim, slow down! I don't – "
"I don't wanna go. I don't wanna go to Florida! I've not been training with a coach since I was young, I can still compete in the Pan Globals tryouts as an individual candidate, and then I'll be gone for like, a month tops for the competition, but I'll be here!" She rambles on, speaking so fast that her words are tripping over each other.
It takes a moment for her words to sink in, and his eyes light up. "Really? But, your training, your Pan Global dreams…" Even at a moment like this, he wants to be a gentleman and do the right thing, even if his heart is screaming at him to take her away from the airport and drop her back at Aisha's place.
"I'm staying," she says again, the grin on her face so wide, she feels like her face could crack.
"You're staying," he repeats her words, bringing his mouth closer to hers as they share a sweet lip-lock, filled with promises of the future – together.
"Are you sure about this?" Adam asks, more than a little uncertainly, as if his voice will throw the other person standing there off his balance. He's never seen his friend look so crushed yet so determined at the same time, but Tommy just nods and stares at the departure board, like there's a ghost weighing his mind down.
"A last minute plane ride isn't cheap." The green-clad boy tries again to reason with him. It isn't that he doesn't want Tommy to find Kimberly, isn't that he doesn't want Tommy to find out the truth (and in a way he thinks he's thrown himself into this whole mess because he's the one who read it out loud in the youth center) but it is the way Tommy's all clammed up and refusing to talk about it that worries him and the rest of the gang.
Tommy clears his throat impatiently. "Yeah. I could ask Zordon to work the magic, but this is personal. I need to go, Adam. I need to know why."
Adam nods, his gaze still doubtful. When the airport speakers announce that Tommy's flight is boarding, he turns around to ask him one last time if he's sure, just for good measure, but he's already gone, without a trace.
It takes Kimberly a few seconds to register that Tommy is standing at her door, and she involuntarily takes a step back; almost knocking into the table as she fumbles to her senses.
He has this rehearsed speech in his mind while on the plane. Something so moving that will make her realize that she's made a terrible mistake, something so sincere that will move her to tears. (On hindsight, it's neither of those things.) It goes something like, Why, Kimberly? What did I do wrong? I think we should at least talk about it first… I love you. Why'd you break up with me?
The thought flies out of the window and the words stuck in his throat when he actually sees her, her stomach swollen; the weight on her petite body too obvious to mean anything else. He feels his heart caught up in his throat as it constricts, his pulse quickening. In an instant he thinks he's figured out why she dumped him and his stomach clenches painfully.
Turning on his heel, he starts to leave without even a word. She doesn't miss the hurt that flashes across his face before he walks away, nor the disbelief that's etched in his soft, brown eyes. She gathers a deep breath, knowing that she has to clear up the mess before it gets even worse.
"Tommy." Her voice falters a little before she adds a little more force behind it. "It's not what you think."
Her tone is weary, filled with defeat, but a tinge of hope that is lacing her voice makes him stop short. He wills himself to continue walking and just ignore her, but he can't.
"I came here to get answers. I think I have them," he finally says, coldly. He doesn't swivel around to face her. He can't look at her like that, not if he wants the bile to stay down. The thought that she left him because she is with another guy and is going to have a child with him –
Oh, god, he's going to be sick.
She closes her eyes to stop the brimming tears from falling, but the attempt fails anyway.
"Please, Tommy. Will you just come in?"
He doesn't answer for a good half-minute, but he does turns around, and Kimberly thinks that's a good start if any. Her hand instinctively goes to press against her back to support herself – being on her feet for too long has that aching effect but she's determined to get Tommy to listen to her.
When he finally walks through her door wordlessly, she breathes a sigh of relief and follows after, as she drags her tired feet, closing the door behind her.
He doesn't want to talk. He doesn't want to listen either. He just wants to drown himself in his own pity and sorrow, thoughts flitting in and out of his mind, unwanted and not welcomed. Her place is tidy, but not personable. Tommy never thought a place that Kimberly's living in would be so…
But of course, he throws in with a bitter afterthought. I don't know her anymore.
"I'm sorry," she blurts out, damaging the balance of the silence. To her mild surprise (and subsequent annoyance), he lets out a dry laugh, like he can't believe the words she's saying.
"You're sorry? Just what are you sorry about? That you broke up with me? That you left me for a guy? That he knocked you up? That you're pregnant? That you can't compete in the Pan-Globals? Just what the hell are you sorry about?"
She doesn't miss a beat. "I'm six months along, Tommy."
"So you were cheating on me for months before you decided to cut your losses and break up with me, is that what you're saying?" He's angry now, and almost wishes for a few Cogs to beat the sense out of.
She snaps at him, even though she's not proud of it. "Do the damn math, Tommy! Christmas break? Do you remember that or did that slip out of your goddamn memory too?"
He's silent as he lets the truth sinks in. Kim watches him carefully, taking in his expressions. Like the calm before the storm, he takes a deep breath… and explodes in self-righteous anger.
"Are you ever going to tell me? Or did Mr. New Guy agree to step into my shoes and be the kid's father, huh? Tell me!" His hands are gripped on her shoulder and he has no idea how strong his hold is, and she tries to squirm out of his reach.
"There's no other guy. Tommy, let go off me." She tries to push his hands away.
"So you're going to disappear from the face of the planet and never tell any of us about this, is that what this is?" He's screaming, and Kim flinches, but she's angry too. He releases his grip and breathes heavily, but she's agitated now, temper flaring at all the wild accusations that he's thrown at her.
"Just… stop! Shut up! Just shut up and listen to me! I was going to tell you! I went back! And that rusty junk-basket, what's his name? Mondo? He somehow figured out that I'm your girlfriend, that I'm carrying your baby, and he told me that if I told you or Zordon, he's going to kill you while you were alone, and then after he was done with you he'd come for me too! What the fuck was I supposed to do?"
She's shaking from the rush of emotions coursing through her entire body; shaking from finally letting the truth out. And Tommy is just numb, and for the first time in a long time, he doesn't know what to do.
iii. from the outside
It's easy for Kat to see in, from the outside.
Tommy doesn't realize it, he probably doesn't even know it, but she can see it in his eyes. The way his eyes light up when someone else talks about Kimberly, even though she's the one who broke his heart and Kat's the one trying to put the pieces back together. The way his voice sounds like it's far away when he talks about Kimberly, like he can't keep the adoration or the excitement from it. The way she can see that he's disoriented when he sees Kimberly and Jason on the viewing globe, captured by Divatox, and the way she knows he wants to charge into battle no matter what to save his ex-girlfriend. It's also how he unlatches his helmet to try to get Kimberly to remember him and the good times, and how the disappointment shines from his eyes when he fails.
Kat knows. Which is why she breaks up with him the moment they get out of the Power Chamber. He's shocked and he denies, denies and denies, but she assures him that she's not blaming him for anything and just wants him to have another shot at being with Kimberly, because if he doesn't, it's going to eat him up alive soon and Kat doesn't want that to happen.
So, it doesn't surprise her when graduation rolls by and Kim waltzes back into their lives (well, hers for a short while before she leaves for London anyway) and announces that she's going to attend Angel Grove University with the rest of the team. It doesn't surprise her that right after graduation from college, she receives a wedding invitation from the happy couple. It certainly doesn't surprise her when they announce that they're pregnant, although what does surprise her is that Kim's asked her to be the baby's godmother, which she happily accepts when she told her that it's their way of thanking her for kicking some sense into the both of them.
Kat decides that being on the outside isn't bad at all.
iv. pink power
'Worried sick' is an understatement; a phrase simply not capable of matching in intensity the actuality of the situation. It starts out as a simple (and normal) enough day. A long weekend equals a well-deserved vacation at Reefside Resort; a weekend of cheery sunshine and copious amounts of time together…
Then of course the phone call comes through, and he's packing like a mad rat and driving them both to the NASADA headquarters.
It's five hours since the Red Rangers have disappeared into the Astro Megaship and Kimberly Hart is worried sick. She's faced Serpentera first-hand with the team ages ago and knows how the gigantic machine destroys, and those – idiots! She curses freely, looking out the window every minute just to see if the spaceship's landing anytime soon.
"You should sit down," comes a voice from behind her and she whips around, finding a woman she only knows in passing. There's a whole intriguing story about time travel and destinies, but right now she's really too antsy to really remember it.
"I'm fine," she argues, and the other woman gives her a wry smile.
"I've been given strict orders by your husband to get you to relax, because he doesn't want to be stuck on the moon while you go into premature labor worrying yourself out, and miss the birth of your child."
"But, Jen – your name is Jen, right?" She nods. "How can you be so calm about this? They're on the freaking moon! It's been five hours and there's no word from them."
"They're Red Rangers, they can take care of themselves," she replies, almost as if she's convincing herself of that fact too. Pushing a chair in front of Kimberly, she looks at her with a grin on her face. "Now, please! Sit down."
Kimberly obeys finally, but still keeps her sight rooted at the landing bay. "When he gets back, I'm going to give him a big piece of my mind about running off to missions in only the most chauvinistic way ever," she grumbles.
"It's going to be sad but really great if they don't do a clean-cut job about this and us Pinks have to clean up their mess," Jen smirks, and Kim has to laugh along too. Just the mental images of the Pink Rangers going to the moon and kicking their red counterparts' asses makes her giggle, but even more so when she considers that she's well over seven months pregnant and by the looks of it, Jen's at least four months along.
Well, we can still kick their asses, without a doubt!
v. white light
Damn it, thinks Kimberly Hart. Ranger instincts should have told her that this is a bad idea, but does she listen to them? A resounding 'no' echoes through her head. It isn't bad enough that she was sucked in through some sort of portal, but now she's now walking through the dark dungeon-maze thing that looks like a lab by a crazed scientist, and she has absolutely no idea how to get out.
Coming to Reefside to visit her stepfather's cousin and to settle down there, having gotten a job at Reefside High School, is a good theory on paper. It was going perfectly too, that is, up until the point when she actually enters the school. So that is what Jason was warning me about, she thinks wirily.
She shivers. The dungeon is cold, and as she rubs her bare shoulders she wonders what sort of illicit activities go down in here, and feels the goosebumps forming. She's always known Anton Mercer to be a respectable businessman, but freak accidents happen, right? Portals appear out of nowhere all the time, she should know.
And yet, even with all her Ranger instincts, all her training, it doesn't help her with what happens next. When the glaring light of the strip of metal on the table screams out at her, she feels a familiar-yet-not energy surge through her body as the distant cries of a pterosaur rings in her ear.
vi. once a ranger
It's kind of ridiculous, Kim decides quietly. It's her thirtieth birthday and she has plans. Big, extravagant plans of getting plastered with her friends at her friend's bar, or maybe some dorky fun time with the Wii at home with said friends.
This is what's not in the plans: Being offered a chronomorpher as part of employment at the newly set-up Time Force, which needs manpower and the experience of past Rangers. Time Force has been the buzz in the Ranger community for weeks now, after the announcement that the police organization of the future is recorded to have been set up around this time.
Kim's lived an enriching life thus far. Being the original Pink Ranger certainly helped move things along, but even beyond that, she's achieved more than a lot of people can say they have. Her gymnastics has won her more accolades than she ever thought possible, and after her run as a competitive gymnast has ended, she has found a good way to help the people in need by climbing up the ranks of the Turtle Cove Police Force.
Her job is certainly fulfilling, she isn't going to deny that, but sometimes she feels like she can do so much more, like there's a missing part in her life, and it bugs her to no end about it. So she doesn't hesitate, and with a proud smile on her face, she joins the organization as the Pink Ranger again, moving to Silver Hills with just a backpack in tow.
She gets a surprise on the first day she reports for work.
"Red?" she asks, eyeing him in his Time Force uniform.
He doesn't even hear her as she comes in the room, and so he's startled but recovers quickly. "No. Blue. They already have a Red. Let me introduce you to Wes Collins," Tommy offers.
She cocks her head at him and tries hard not to laugh, but fails anyway. "Blue? Are you serious? Can I submit you to some kind of multi-colored competition? You're going to win, hands down. Green, white, red, black, and now blue. Did I miss any?"
"Well," he looks a little amused too, "At least it gives me a chance to buy some new clothes."
The light banter carries on for ages. She wouldn't call it flirting. No, no. Flirting is for teenagers, flirting is definitely not for her or them now. For years she hasn't even thought about settling down; it's something out of a drama series for police officers, really, the commitment issues and the ghosts of the day haunting them that makes it impossible for relationships to really work the way they're supposed to.
Yet, she knows that there's something electric in the air between the two of them. She refuses to categorize it into anything.
He makes it clear, one time during a late-night shift together, that he still hasn't gotten over her despite his best efforts to. She's a little surprised, because he certainly hasn't given her any indication over the years, or even attempted to make contact with her. But for the better part of adulthood and her career in the police force, she knows that inter-unit relationships never work out for the best for anyone.
"I'm sorry," she says, numbly, "but the team comes first."
"I'm just telling you what I think." There's disappointment in his voice and Kim's sorry for it.
They're not dating. No, no way, sir. It's just coffee or lunch or dinner, or that he stays behind waiting for her to finish up her work, or that she picks him up every morning, or the way they kiss like friends do, a gentle peck on the cheek or the forehead every once in a while. She doesn't want to screw this up at Time Force; the pay is amazing, the workload is manageable and the ability to morph again is phenomenal. Why let something like feelings get in the way of something this good?
But when she finds herself pushing him against the lockers, late one night when no one else is around, her mouth meeting his like it's a lifeline, it doesn't surprise herself so much so as it feels like she's finding the missing piece in her life again. Consequences can wait.
Author's Notes: They follow through the seasons; MMPR to Zeo, Turbo, the small insert in Wild Force for Forever Red, DinoThunder and finally, the present. As with most Five Things fics, these ficlets aren't conclusive or even seem complete, but a tiny glimspe into the what-could-have-been's. I might take a few of these to turn into proper full-length stories! Let me know which one you like most, alright? Thank you for reading! (Edit: 1 July - Once A Ranger is currently being expanded into a full-length fiction, and I also have plans to do the same for White Light, so keep your eyes peeled for updates! :) )