Disclaimer: The Power Rangers and all related characters belong to Saban Entertainment and Disney.

Author's Introduction: This is a one-shot story that I wrote back in 2006. It's set post 'The Green Candle' and is a pretty small, little account on Tommy and Kimberly's feelings after he had to hand his power coin over. Obviously I wrote it many years ago and it's a pretty soft piece. It's by far, not the best piece I have ever written, but worth a post regardless!

Rating: K+

Season: MMPR

Summary: They shared their first kiss, but then everything changed. He stopped calling, stopped meeting her gaze- now Kimberly wants to find out why Tommy keeps hiding from her in plain sight.

Hiding Places

By Chanelle Summer

What makes a friend?

Not just a person who you speak to because of physical proximity, but someone who you're emotionally invested in, even if you don't fully understand how. Mostly positive emotions. They speak and you feel something good; when they're gone, something seems different.

I could only deal with the longing for so long before I began to clearly mope. Jason used to say I couldn't hide my feelings if quote "my hairstyle depended on it", but that was a lot of months ago. God, if I cared that much about the state of my hair these days, I would have been emotionally unhinged by now. I just adapted to the fact that I had to squish my locks into a tight helmet every second day and worked out quite a few neat styles that held their form longer.

Like French braids. Curls are a no-no. High sitting pigtails are also out. But French braids are definitely a winner.

But anyway, like I said, my priorities have shifted. I lie without thinking, but love without restraint. I pray and make deals with God in my head, constantly asking him to look after people and situations with a promise to pay him back. Sometimes I ask for things that I shouldn't, but mostly my desires are legitimate.

I don't know if I'll ever really pay him back. I don't know if I can.

But I never, ever asked for this to happen between Tommy and I; God, fate, angels from above- whoever is in control, let the fire go without my request. I've learnt from his patience. I fell in love, into friendship, and then into this. Whatever it is. Emotional investment.

As I strolled to Angel Grove Lake last Thursday afternoon, my intention had been to make Tommy understand that we didn't want to go back to playing games that only needed five people. That I didn't want that. I was…wow. Maybe there are no words for that feeling you get when you're feeling literally ten things at once. If there is, I can't think of it now. I've been even more scatterbrained since he hasn't been around.

Since he hasn't called. Since he's stopped sharing my lingering gaze in class. Since he's been too busy to say more than a few words to me in the cafeteria.

Why is he hiding from me? He's hiding from us all, but why from me? Why is he hiding when I can see him in plain view, with eyes that used to stare at him with so much joy?

I watch him from a distance now, doing something he used to love to do with us. Jason was chivalrous as always when Tommy blatantly avoided the Youth Center the entire week as though he were infected with small pox. I used to love just watching the flowing angles of his body as he sparred, sharing his gift with us. Now I'm momentarily stolen just by his image before me and I'm starting to forget why I'm here.

He swings around with a heavy arm, lashing it around and almost taking me out. I duck quickly and try to smile it off, my features dropping slightly as I see how agitated he looks.

"Sorry," he apologizes in between a race for his breath. "I didn't hear you coming."

I go to tuck some hair behind my ear, but quickly realize it's all braided out of my face already. "Guess I'm light on my feet," I tell him. "Coach is always telling Kelly Parson to stop doing the elephant walk in her beam routine…I think it's kinda made me self-conscious."

He's looking at me in that way that people do when they don't really want to talk to you, but they're trying not to show it, even though it's so obvious it's almost borderline rude.

My stomach knots a little. "So, um, I haven't seen you much, I wanted to see how you are, make sure you're okay…"

"Yeah, I'm fine, been busy you know…"

"Yeah," I fake a small smile, a little laugh. "Guess doing all that stuff, practice and all that takes up a lot of time…"

He nods almost solemnly. I feel the pressure build behind my eyes, the memory of a time like this still so fresh in my mind. I know that wasn't Tommy, that when he pushed me away and hurt me over and over that he was under the control of something outside of his nature, but I'm getting that same feeling right this moment and it hurts even worse.

I don't think he wants me here.

"Kim-."

"Tom-."

We both stop as we start to speak in unison, and I quickly shake my head gesturing for him to go on. "Kim, I know why you're here…but I-." he looks away, as though trying to avoid my awaiting eyes. "I can't tell you what you want to hear."

I raise my eyebrows quickly. "What is it that you think I want to hear?" I ask him gently.

"That things will stay the same..."

I swallow. "What things do you mean? Being our friend? Being…" I sigh. "Did I do something wrong on Saturday night?"

He moves to touch me, I think to scoop my hand into his, but I flinch away. Images of the dance Saturday night replay in my head, as I briefly recall the way he managed to smile that evening. We just stare at each other, but it's so different from the way we blended into each other's eyes last week. I look at him one way; he looks another.

I watch his Adam's apple bulge as he swallows, before he turns to sit down on an oversized boulder. I think he wants me to sit beside him, but apart from him leaning down and ungluing my feet from the ground, I can't find a way to actually move.

"Can I ask you something, Kim?" he looks directly at me. With those eyes.

"Of course, anything…"

"If Rita didn't make me her green ranger and if I never joined the team, would you guys have been my friends?" he flicks his hands a little. "Would you have talked to me?"

I frown. "Tommy, I wanted to talk to you from the day I saw you at the karate tournament. In fact, I probably would have talked to you from the moment the fight ended, only I was too…nervous, I guess. But I liked you…" I feel a blush travel to my cheeks and I look down and back up. "You know how I feel."

This is the part where he is supposed to tell me that yes, he knows how I feel and that he feels the same way.

"I told you last week, Tommy, that we miss you…that I miss you. Things are not the same without you, nothing feels right…"

He lowers his head, and I take it as my opening- a way into his heart. I lower myself onto the boulder beside him. "Tommy, tell me what's bothering you…because all we-." I stop. "All I want is for you to want to be near me."

"I don't know, Kim," he shakes his head, his eyes drifting about, and I catch a glimpse of a watery shimmer reflect off their never-ending centers. "I thought that I could handle this. That things would stay the same. That I wouldn't...lose everything."

The softest of breeze is enough to push his face back toward mine. Weakness trembles in my chest as I speak. "You haven't lost me," I whisper.

Was that all I could offer him? His face remains still.

"Tommy, it kills all of us knowing that you won't be with us when we go into battle," I continue. "But you're wrong if you think losing your power coin somehow...means that you've lost your friends."

His eyes blink and cast his chocolate gaze toward the pebbly earth below our feet. My own follow suit, as I watch my boot push the bumpy dust in a trail toward his bare foot.

"I wish more than anything I could give up my coin for you," I admit meekly.

Tommy shakes his head, the lines on his face easing somewhat. "I would never want that Kim...you're an amazing power ranger. The times I've seen you during a battle...man, I never could have believed that a girl like you..."

His voice has trailed off because my cheeks have burst into a growing blush and my lips are unable to contain my own pride. Behind us, two pairs of elderly feet stroll in sync along the curved path not so far away and Tommy shifts discreetly closer.

His knee brushes mine.

"You never could have believed that a girl like me could...kick butt?" I guess, attempting to finish his sentence.

A tight smile spreads across his lips and he shakes his head. "Nuh...that a girl like you could like a guy like me," he admits bashfully.

"Oh..." My lips remain forming an 'O' as our knees separate and then click back together.

Everything's always so easier when we're together.

"There's a lot of times where I've wondered just why I'm a power ranger," I confess. "I mean, besides the fact that I was hanging out with Jason and Zack at the time, I sometimes feel like there couldn't be anything I could possibly give them that's of any use. I don't know karate, I can't bench lift my purse...and I used to hate messing my hair up during a battle," I add shamefully. "But I learned over time that there's something that we all offer that no one else can. It's true, Zordon could have chosen the five strongest teens from Angel Grove, but instead he chose five friends."

I can tell Tommy's listening intently, but not quite understanding where I'm going with this speech.

"Rita might have picked you, Tommy, because you're the greatest karate fighter in Angel Grove, but she also chose you because she knew...how I felt about you."

His eyes shoot my way, and I catch them with my own, locking them long enough until the intensity is overcoming. My mind is taken to a place where I recount all the times I studied his face, memorized the surface of his skin and drank in every single thing of him incase I never saw him again.

"Don't you remember when we first met each other at the lockers at school and I asked you to the Youth Center that afternoon?" I remind him.

I can almost hear the harps of love twirl out their hymn at the memory.

His shoulders sit back down. "Yeah...I do," he admits, his eyes casting to the distance as though recalling the moment from a distant place. "You were wearing pink-."

I giggle. Not appropriate. He realizes the obvious and almost does the same.

"Had Rita not changed the course of things that afternoon, Tommy, you would have made it to the Youth Center...and without all of this, without all the powers and the battles, you would have become our friend."

"Yeah, but then I wouldn't have known your secret..."

My hand has the strength now to reach for his. I cover it gently, rather than clasp onto it. "And now you do," I state. "Because of what Rita did, it's allowed for you to know us in a way nobody else does...and it showed to us exactly why you belong with us."

His face nods gently and I see the realization in his eyes. That he belongs. Even through the pain.

My head tips and finds his shoulder. It's the closest I've felt myself near him in quite a while.

"You're one of my best friends, Tommy," I remind him, as a bird skims the crystal crust of the lake not far away. "Please don't hide from me anymore."

The lean muscles in his arm flex slightly, as his hand turns over and interlocks with mine.

"I promise, Kimberly."

~~The End~~