Just Friends

Well.

That was a nice, awkward day.

Kimberly stared across her room at one of her oldest friends. She tried her best to suppress a smirk as he ran his hand over her short dark hair – a sure sign of nerves.

'What in the world does he have to be nervous about?'

Jason opened his mouth, about to speak – and closed it with a click. What was he supposed to say? 'Wow, you were straddling me today and I felt, like, absolutely nothing for you. No offense or anything…'

Jason was no authority on girls, but he was pretty sure that telling one that you have no attraction to them was a sure way to castration. Or, in the case of the ever-popular Kimberly, a complete dissolution of his social standing.

Not that Jason cared, of course. Not at all! It was just… you know, if he did start to care, then it would certainly be a blow.

Then again, they were friends. She wouldn't do that, right? They were too close. They'd been friends since he pulled her pigtails in kindergarten. She threw her Barbie at him in retaliation, giving him a black eye (those little plastic feet hurt!) and kick-starting a friendship that had lasted up to this point.

They'd had their differences in the past years, like all friends did – she didn't appreciate him scaring off her boyfriends by challenging them to competitions, and he didn't like hearing that she'd kicked one of his girlfriends off the cheerleading team.

So was this the difference that was going to tip the scales?

There was only one way to find out… and Jason was no coward!

"Kim, y'know…"

Kim lifted an eyebrow. The corners of her lips twitched, as though she were just dying to burst out laughing.

Not that Jason noticed, since he couldn't look at her while he broke her heart…

"I know that… y'know, I'm on the football team and you're the cheerleading captain and all."

Kim made a non-committal noise, shifting on the bed.

"And that means there are… expectations and stuff. Especially because we're freshmen!"

"Mm-hmmm…"

Great. She was no help!

"And you're really pretty! And super popular and we're really good friends and I don't want you to think I think any less of you but-" the words came out in a jumble and he was about to finally come out with it when Kimberly burst into full-fledged laughter.

"What is so funny?" Jason demanded, finally staring up at the girl he was trying to let down gently. This wasn't easy, damn it! Tornado kicks? Lightning-fast punches? Fine! Talking about his feelings? Yeah, not so easy.

And the laughter wasn't helping!

"N-n-no, Jase," Kimberly choked out, clutching her stomach. "It's… no, I know. You're just… you're s-s-s-so s-serious…" she trailed off again, lost in her amusement.

Jason crossed his arms and glowered. Uselessly, of course, because she was laughing too hard to notice!

"Are you finished?" he asked drolly as her laughter finally trailed off.

Kim wiped her eyes and looked up at him, face flushed, eyes bright. And he was absolutely unaffected, outside of being slightly upset that she'd laugh at him, and that somewhat boy-ish pride that he'd managed to make her laugh.

Even if she was laughing at him rather than with him.

"Sorry, Jase," she apologized, shifting her face into a more serious look as she realized they really did need to get past this particular hurdle in their friendship. She'd never thought it was a problem. But, of course, boys were different, and often needed things spelled out for them.

"S'okay," Jason mumbled. He pulled out her desk chair and spun it around, straddling it and crossing his arms over the back. Time for the heart-to-heart (no pun on her last name intended!) he'd been avoiding.

"Jase," Kim said, laying out on her stomach and putting her chin on her arms. "Really, I know what you're gonna say. And it's casual, really. I'm not going to wait until you leave and cry my eyes out."

Jason wasn't sure whether to be relieved or offended.

"I know we're expected to do the dating thing. We're supposed to be the happily-ever-after. But you're like my brother. It'd be weird," she said, making a disgusted face. Then she smirked, remembering what had prompted this particular confrontation in the first place. "Besides, landing on you didn't get me going in the least. No offense!" she added hastily as his brows lowered.

"No, no, it's cool. I get it… I feel the same way. You're like a sister to me, and any guy that wants to date you had better be able to kick my ass or be willing to die trying," he declared, grinning at the glower she sent his way.

"Well," she said haughtily, "I'd tell you that any girl who wants to be on your arm had better follow you to the ends of the Earth… and pass my inspection, too. But," the twinkle in her eye immediately had him on his guard, "I've seen the looks you've been giving Trini, and you know I'm okay with that."

"What looks?" he said, a look of panic crossing his face.

"You know what I'm talking about."

"There are no 'looks.'"

"There are so looks."

"I don't know what you're talking about," he protested. "I'm not giving Trini any looks! You're seeing things!"

"Yeah, I am," she said with a shit-eating grin on her face. "I'm seeing you staring all googly-eyed at Trini as she does her katas. I'm seeing you offering to study with her… when she's got a better GPA than you do. I'm seeing you-"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Jason sighed, running his hand over his head again. "I get it. Shut up."

Kim twisted herself in one of those impossible-for-anybody-but-gymnast moves, pushing herself to a seat on the edge of her bed. "So what we gonna do about it?"

Jason glared. "There is no 'we' and even if there was, 'we' would not be doing anything about it!"

"Oh come on, Jase. You want her more than I want the mall to have a mall-wide sale."

"Kim…"

"You want her more than you want Rita to scram."

"Kim."

She leaned forward, far too amused for her own good. "You want her more than-"

He cut her off again. "Okay. You've made your point."

Kim bounced on the edge of her bed. "Zack's noticed too, y'know."

"I know," he humphed. "He's been getting on my case, too."

"Well duh. It's not like she's not-" Kimberly slapped her hand to her mouth with a gasp.

Jason's eyes flew open. "Like she's not what?"

"Nothing!" She couldn't believe she almost broke the girl code. The number one rule of girl-best-friend-ship! Breaking that rule like, condemned a young woman to a bad hair day for life!

"Kim." And again with the warning tone.

"I'm not telling and you can't make me!"

"I have ways of making you talk," Jason said in a faux-Mobster voice.

"Never!"

With that, he tackled her to the bed, pinning her shoulders and tickling her side. She shrieked and he cringed before breaking down into laughter of his own. He didn't feel anything but reassured and happy…

And for the first time in a long while, he was okay with that.

"So we're cool?"

Kim smiled. "We're cool." With that, she kicked her leg up and wiggled her toes behind his knees, re-starting an all-out tickle-war.

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Disclaimer: For what it's worth, I don't own the Power Rangers. They belong to Saban and Disney and other such companies. Of course, I've spent enough on the new toy line that I probably should own a controlling share…