God Only Knows
Prologue: Shattered Reality
By: Pink-Green-White-4ever
Started: May 15, 2009
Finished: March 6, 2010

Summary: The hardest part of faith is the last hour. -- David Wilkerson
Rating: M
Characters: you'll see

Author's Note: Okay, so, this story is going to be a departure from some of the other stories I've done over the years, but in some ways, this story involves the one character I like to think I know best in the entire PR universe. This is not going to be a story returning the Rangers as we know them back to the way they were in the good 'ol days. The Rangers in this story have lives, real lives, and they're going through real, everyday experiences, and for one of those Rangers, it means discovering what she's really made of. Life has not been kind, nor will it be in this story. What this is, above all else, is a journey of self discovery, of finding who you are and what you're made of, and in the end, it's learning that in each of us, there's the power, no matter how vast or how small, to change the world.

Special Thanks: Shawn, thank you for listening to me plot and plan, and for giving me tips when you felt I needed it. Ang thanks for the enthusiasm and support. Enigma thank you so much for the constant faith in my work. Liz, my dear, thanks for being such a sweetheart! And last but not least, Rapunzl, thank you for the wonderful balance, the quiet strength, and the unwavering belief in me you give. You five don't know how much I appreciate it all, or how much you've enriched my life simply by being who you are. As Shawn once said, thank you doesn't seem enough. I love you works best

Please Visit http : // www dot valhallaboard dot com / forum / (without the spaces) - this is the multi-fandom message board I co-run with the five people in my "Special Thanks" section.

--

I feel so alone,
Can't seem to find my out of this low?
No, it don't seem right
I didn't have a chance to say goodbye.

In this silent space,
I close my eyes I can hear you say
That it's alright,
But my world's such an empty place tonight.
Cause I know that,
It's all part of life.

I wish I had the chance to say goodbye,
Yeah I still miss you.
So hard to see through the tears I've cried.
Yeah, I still need you.
Cause I don't want to,
If I don't have to ever let you go.
The longest I'll hold on... God only knows.

As the time goes by,
It gets a little easier to smile.
I know I'll never forget
Everything that you said.
You said it's alright,
It's all part of life.

I wish I had the chance to say goodbye,
Yeah I still miss you.
So hard to see through the tears I've cried.
Yeah, I still need you.
Cause I don't want to,
If I don't have to ever let you go.
The longest I'll hold on... God only knows.

And the lights above you will never fade if you keep looking up
Right around there is a better place if you believe in love.
Cause I know that, it's all part of life.

I wish I had the chance to say goodbye, yeah I still miss you.
So hard to see through the tears I've cried.
Yeah, I still need you.
Cause I don't want to, if I don't have to ever let you go.
The longest I'll hold on, the longest I'll hold on.
The longest I'll hold on... God only knows.
God only knows.
Ya, God only knows.
God only knows.
-- Orianthi, God Only Knows --

--

3:00 P.M.
Saturday
January 5, 2008
Van Ordsel Family Funeral Chapel and Crematory
3333 NE 2nd Avenue
Miami FL, 33137

Life is not fair. It's a lesson I learned at a very young age. I've also learned that bad thing happen to good people for no reason. Which is probably the explanation for why five days after the start of 2008 I'm walking into a funeral home in Miami, Florida and I'm feeling like I'm about to do battle.

I'm at the lead of a very, very large group – most every Ranger in our illustrious history is striding into the moderately sized funeral home on my heels. The sadness is seeping off us in waves; it's enough to bring me to tears. My little sister has just gone through the single most devastating experience of her life – her husband and her child were killed on their way New Year's morning to get a few groceries from a local convenience store. My five year old nephew and his father, gone, in one horrible instant; killed by a drunk driver. I thought life sucked ass when I lost one of my best friends a few years ago, but this….life can't get worse than this, or crueler.

I could almost laugh when several of Chris' relatives look up from where they're sitting and see a virtual army walking in for the double funeral. If I wasn't hurting so much or so worried about my little sister, I just might have lost it. Instead, tears gather in my eyes and I stop and try to blink them back. "Jason," Madeleine, Chris' mom, calls out before rushing over to me. I've only met her a few times – at Kim and Chris' wedding, at the hospital when Evan was born, at his christening, and last year when Chris and Kim paid for his family to come with them to visit California.

On instinct alone, I lean in to give her a polite hug. "I'm so sorry," I whisper, knowing my voice sounds choked. I can't help it, nor do I want to.

"It's good you're here, that you're all here." Her eyes sweep over the group, widening when she recognizes the Space and Lightspeed Rangers among the mix.

"Kim's got a lot of friends," I tell her, watching her nod.

"That's good," she started. "Maybe you can get her to do something other than stare at the caskets. Caroline and I've been trying to get her to say or do something since she got up this morning, but we haven't had any success."

Worry shoots through me as my eyes dart to the front of the room, latching onto the head of dark hair pulled up into a simple French twist. She looks so small sitting amidst a large group of people, including her parents, her brother and his family, and her grandparents. I feel Aisha's hand on my forearm, and then see why she's trying to get my attention. Tommy's standing next to me, jaw clenching so hard I swear I can almost hear his teeth grinding, and his hands are at his sides, balled into tight fists. Both Katherine and Tanya are trying to soothe him, but he just shrugs off their attempts. I know my bro like none of them do, the fact Kimberly's an emotional wreck and there's nothing he can do to make it better is eating him alive. He's been pretty silent the whole trip here, having been the one to pull the strings with Anton and Andros to get the entirety of the Ranger family here to support our original Pink Ranger.

"Hang back, all of you, let me see if I can get her to talk to me," I quietly order, my eyes meeting Tommy's. There's a hint of betrayal in those brown orbs, but then it disappears and he relents; as much as it hurts him, he knows right now Kim doesn't need his own emotions on top of hers. Despite the fact that they're become the best of friends again, he knows his presence may do more harm than good at the moment. Taking a deep breath, I give Aisha's hand a squeeze before moving up the side of the room. I catch both Ken and Caroline's faces, and feel my heart break; they both look so crushed, even as their eyes dart from Kim's face to mine. I see Caroline lean over and say something to Kim before the entire family moves back a few rows to give me a chance to talk to her.

It's painful how dazed she looks. The only movement I can make out from her is the gentle but steady rise and fall of her chest. Her eyes are set in an unblinking stare and her hands are clenched in her lap around a wad of tissues. Those doe brown eyes I know as well as my own are watery, and every so often even as I sit next to her I can see a tear slide down her cheek, unchecked. I simply sit down beside her and stare at the caskets at the front of the room. Both are closed, which means that the accident was so bad that the funeral can't be open casket. God only knows what Kimberly went through having to identify the bodies, and while both her parents and Chris' are here, she's basically had to go through most of this alone. The feelings ripping through me are enough to bring anyone to their knees; we're a team, a family, and yet, we weren't here for her in the one instant when she needed us most. In fact, it's taken both Tommy and I almost three days to get everyone together. I guess better late than never. Reaching over, I lay one of my large, warm hands on hers and nearly recoil in shock. Kim's hands are absolutely frigid. I watch her face as I grasp her fingers and interlock them with my own; she never moves.

"Sis?" I whisper, hoping my voice will be able to tunnel through the armor she's obviously erected around herself. "Kim?"

I give her a few moments, hoping she'll respond to me, but if the temperature of her skin is anything to go by, she's as cold inside as she is on the outside. I let her hand go as I turn in the chair and gently cup her cheeks. As carefully as possible, I turn her face toward me and bite my lip when I feel her tears slide over the skin of my fingers. "Sis?" I whisper again, hoping to get her attention.

Awareness seemed to seep into those vacant eyes. More tears leaked from her eyes, her lips seemed to tremble with every ragged breath she sucked in and suddenly, I found her cold fingers wrapping around my wrists. "Jase?"

"I'm right here, Sis," I whisper, leaning toward her, my lips caressing her forehead. "We're all here."

She sobs just once before I find her face buried against my chest and my arms wrapped around her. The rest of the harsh sounds being released are buffered by my suit jacket, but my eyes immediately fly to the rest of the gang and I see Rocky, Billy, Adam and Zack physically restraining Tommy and Aisha. Both of them want nothing more than to come over and comfort Kim. I give them one silent nod and watch as the group quickly but quietly hurry up to join me. "We're here, Sis, we're here," I remind her as I rock her back and forth. Her sobs have lessened, and her head suddenly rears back. The look in her eyes tells me she realizes what I just said.

"Oh god!" she utters when she realizes she's surrounded by our team.

Aisha's beside her in seconds, drawing Kim into a tight hug. We could only watch as the two of them cling to each other, Aisha murmuring words of comfort in Kim's ear as the two move from side to side very lightly, Aisha's hands smoothing over Kim's back. Better late then never.

--

6:00 P.M.
Saturday
January 5, 2008
Pace Park
1745 North Bayshore Drive
Miami, Florida, 33132

In all the time I've ever known her, Kimberly has never voluntarily sought solitude. She's always had the craving to be at the center of the group, to be surrounded by those she cares for. I knew when the team arrived in Miami I would see a very different Kimberly. My best friend, the girl who I dubbed 'my Beautiful', has been tested this week in ways I never would have wished on her, and as I watch her stand in Pace Park, staring out at the waters of Biscayne Bay, I know her thoughts are with those she lost. I can't begin to imagine what she's going through, having lost husband and child in one foul swoop. A lesser woman would have crawled into the caskets with her family, wanting nothing more than to be buried with them.

But Kimberly remains, perhaps locked in a frozen state, unable to feel the loss past the shock.

I've seen her face the toughest obstacles that could be thrown at a woman with her unique abilities. I've seen her overcome them with grace, agility, and tenacity. And always, she's come out stronger, more resilient. Part of me wonders if she'll be able to overcome this, if the woman I have known for over half my life can surmount this most difficult path. I want to cry out that she can, but I can't know how deeply this has crippled the Crane.

Only time will tell.

The others are still at Kimberly's house, helping to clean up the sea of flowers and left-over food from the dinner we had there after the funeral and graveside service. I had to slip out, to get some fresh air, and ended following Kimberly from her house to the park. Part of me knew she wanted to be alone, but the part of me who's been by her side through everything she's ever gone through since I met her, urged me to be with her, even from a distance. She's always been my rock, even after the way our relationship ended; it's time I returned the favor.

She's standing at the edge of the water, her arms wrapped around her waist. There's a light breeze coming in from over the bay, making the material of her long, black skirt sway gently. I can see her shoulders shake every so often, and I know she's still crying. The tears seem like an endless flood, and I wish I could do something to help her cope with this, but like Jason told me earlier, my presence, my offer of comfort, may do more harm than anything else. She doesn't need her ex reminding her of the beloved husband she just lost.

Surprisingly, I can say I honestly liked Chris. He was a good, solid guy who loved life and who was a respectable man. And he loved Kimberly endlessly. She and Evan were his entire world. It pains me to know a good man was killed so needlessly and tragically. And Evan with him. The kid was the spitting image of his mother, right down to the toothy grin and fearlessness.

It's baffling how two innocent, bright souls could be snuffed out without thought. I know that while it doesn't make sense now, and may never, there has to be a reason, some reason, why Kim has to go through this. The path isn't clear now, but she has something ahead of her; as hurtful as it sounds, there may be a lesson to all of this in the end. If I could have spared her of it, I'd have moved heaven and earth; and so would the rest of the family. I know that she was crushed when Trini was killed. I know she struggled to understand why after all that we'd been through one of us had to go the way Trini did. I can't imagine what she's thinking right now.

With a sigh, I quietly walk to stand by her side. I don't say a word, just stand there with my hands in my pockets and watch the water. I know she knows I'm there, even if she hasn't acknowledged me; Kim and I have always had a connection, one no one else will ever share with us. I pray that through that connection she can feel the love and support that I'm projecting at her.

"Did Jason put you up to this?" comes the soft accusation. Her voice trembled, as if it would break into a million pieces.

"What do you think?" I shoot back, cocking my head to the side and turning my gaze to her face. She's still staring out at the water.

"Why are you here?" she chokes.

"Because I love you," I answer, honesty and sincerity in my voice.

She only shakes her head at me, before turning to look at me. "Why?"

The tone of her voice and the question in it challenges me in ways I wish it wouldn't; she's not asking why I love her, she's asking why she just had her life completely shattered. "If I had the answers, Kim, I'd give them to you in heartbeat. If I could have stopped this, I would have, but this wasn't caused by anything a Ranger power or alien technology could prevent."

"They were innocent."

"Those are usually the ones who get hurt the worst."

"It's not fair," she cries softly, looking angry and lost.

"It never is, Beautiful; you and I learned that all too well at an early age. Bad things happen to good people for no reason. It sucks, and it will always suck, because bad things are always going to happen to good people."

She shakes her head and looks back at the water. "I can't accept that," she mutters through her tears. "I refuse to accept it."

I let her have the last word, letting the silence fill the space between us. She's grieving so hard and so much right now, I just don't want to upset her anymore. We're friends, best friends, and so being brutally honest with each other is par for the course. Right now, I have to put honesty in the backseat and give her the comfort, love and strength she's going to need to accept this new way of life. "Your mom made noises about you going to France for a few months with her."

"I'm not going anywhere," she tells me firmly. "I belong here."

"Maybe you should go, just for a while. Spend a couple weeks with the people who love you, who share your pain," I suggest.

"No one shares my pain," she vehemently responds, spinning to face me. "There isn't a single person I know who knows what the hell I'm feeling right now."

The second her face crumples in grief, my arms are around her, pulling her to my chest. I haven't touched her but for a hug earlier at the funeral home. My lips are pressed to the top of her head while her face is buried against my chest. I murmur words of comfort, but I know they fall on deaf ears; nothing's going to comfort her right now. Time is the only weapon she's got against these feelings. "Beautiful, listen to me," I whisper, leaning down so that her face is buried against my neck and my lips are at her ear. "You are not alone, you will never be alone. It doesn't feel like it now, but one day, you're not going to hurt so much. I want you to promise me something."

I watch her pull back then, tears still streaming down her cheeks. "W-w-What?"

"That when you're ready, you'll think about coming home; even if for a little while. I really think that a change of pace and scenery, and maybe familiar surroundings will do you some good. It won't stop the hurt, but it may help you find some peace of mind."

She looked down at our feet before she lifted her head and looked me in the eye with those watery orbs of hers. "I'll think about it."

I try to smile when I nod, and then I pull her back into my arms. "Don't stay out here too long, everyone's worried about you," I murmur, leaning down to kiss her forehead before I disentangle from her and head back toward my car.

"Tommy?"

"Yeah?" I ask turning around.

"Thank you."