In Hart's Company
Disclaimer: It used to belong to Saban, then Disney, then Saban again.
:: I reckoned in the midst of my Flashpointabulous long break, I should go back to my original fandom and do a Power Rangers story. Let's say this takes place in MMPR season 2, right after Jason, Zack and Trini left for the peace conference. Enjoy.
Kimberly Hart couldn't help the sigh of contentment as she caught sight of her boyfriend.
When she called the Oliver's a few hours ago, Tommy's mother had asked her to call back later because 'after God knows how long, he finally got his ass moving and mowing the front yard'. Didn't have any desire to set a bad impression on the future mother-in-law, Kimberly had politely complied.
Three hours later found her second-hand pink sedan parked outside his house. It seemed Tommy had finished with the lawn and moved on to the next chore in his to-do list. Standing in white tank and khaki shorts, Tommy was hosing his jeep with buckets and various bottles scattered around his barefoot feet. His exposed arms were glistening with light sheen of sweat and she noticed several tendrils of hair had escaped his tight ponytail. The plain, sexy sight made her heart pound faster and she had to remind herself to keep breathing.
Tommy's back was still turned to her when Kim finally broke her hypnotized stare and climbed out of the car. Indulging herself by giving his backside a shameless thorough look, Kim stepped closer until she could listen to him humming an unfamiliar song.
"I guess there's still a dry spot there." Kim said in a sing-a-song voice, announcing her presence.
Every muscle in his body tensed briefly then relaxed. "I guess short people do have better eye-sight than us tall people."
Kim crossed her arms over her chest, one neatly plucked eyebrow arching a fraction with intrigue. He still hadn't turned around to face her, but she was convinced that the eat-shitting grin wasn't far from his face. It amused her that he was comfortable enough around her to show the silly side of him he rarely showed in public, but she would make sure that he'd pay for that remark.
"God is good. He gave us compensation for every inch that we didn't have."
Chuckling, Tommy finally turned around, and there was that smug grin on his face that she had grown to love. Watching Tommy slowly but surely breaking through out of his shell was exhilarating. Three months ago, she could have easily sent the poor boy go crimson just by sending him an innocent, friendly wink.
"Hey, Kimberly." Tommy greeted and she had to hold herself back from rolling her eyes. What did she expect anyway? A deep and passionate hello-how-are-you kiss? She had to practically take his hand whenever she wanted to do some cute hand-holding display of affection. The Hollywood romance kiss was still a long way in the future. He's more than a gentleman; Tommy's a perfect exhibit A for the shy gentleman. All in good time, Kim, it'll be worth it.
"Need some help?" Kim offered, hands swinging idly by her sides.
"Nah, wouldn't want to risk you breaking a nail." Tommy grinned, placing his hands on his hips. His face was slightly flushed from the heat and his t-shirt had clung a bit tighter to his chiseled figure. He was absolutely gorgeous and didn't seem to have a clue about it. The long, straighter, brown hair and natural tanned complexion… he looked positively like a Greek God in her humblest opinion.
It would be her pleasure to look at him all day and work on various naughty scenarios, but she was raised a lady. Her mom had always said that staring was impolite. Opting to ignore his verbal jab on her inner feminine side, she mimicked his stance and asked, "So… won't you ask me what the heck I am doing here?"
"What are you doing here?"
Now the eye rolling was back. "Smart ass." Breaking their eye-lock, Kim slipped her ring off before putting it in her pocket where it would be safe from the further activities she'd planned. She carefully knelt down to grab a dry sponge and lather it in the bucket of soapy water, watching the color darken from yellow to almost orange as the water soaked in. "I used help my dad every other weekend for some extra bucks before he moved out." She explained without turning around, the weight of his perplexed gaze was heavy on her. Ever so slowly she began to sponge the left side of Tommy's jeep.
"Oh the sacrifices she did for a new pair of shoes," His chuckles made her grow hotter, literally. Tommy grabbed a wash mitt and began to work alongside her. "Or perhaps two pairs of heels and jeans."
Kim scowled, making a mental note to take him to the mall with her sometime soon. There would be a huge sale in Nordstorm in the upcoming week and she and Aisha could definitely use a chaperon.
The wheel inside her mind started to roll. Okay, so perhaps the initial intention for her being there was to ogle at the mighty and powerful White Ranger doing some house chores- catching him wearing an apron if she's lucky, maybe?-, but there's a deeper motive aside from satisfying the healthy need of a sixteen year old teenager.
She wanted to make sure that he's hanging in alright.
"Jason called last night," Kim delicately began and from the corner of her eyes she could see him halt for a mere seconds before continuing soaping the same spot he had been working on for the last minute. "They moved to a new apartment the other day and he complained that Zack's snoring so loud he had trouble sleeping at night. Trini's settling in just fine. She's sharing a room with a delegate from China whom she's strongly suspected had an eating disorder… oh, and she has got herself an admirer already. Someone from Australia... or maybe it's Scotland, whatever, I just remember that he had a to-die-for accent. I haven't told Billy about it, but maybe I should. That boy needs a motivation to psyche him up and do something about his feelings."
"Billy likes Trini?" Tommy asked, sounding genuinely surprised. "Really?"
Kim smiled sadly. Tommy Oliver might be a lot of things, but perceptive he was not…at least when matters had come to human romantic relationships. If only she hadn't come to the park that day, maybe they would still be dancing around each other. Everybody knew that she was interested at him since day one; everybody but the leading actor himself.
"He has been crushing on her since grade school," Kim explained, rinsing the dirty sponge in the plain water bucket. "We came in two packs, Jason and me, then Billy and Trini. Zack didn't enter the picture until 4th grade when he moved from Jersey. After that we're pretty much inseparable." Kim playfully flicked him, not wanting to make Tommy feel like an outcast. "Then, you came, swept the floor with Jason and joined us. And then there were six."
"You and Jason have always been close." Tommy noted quietly, prompting a smile to blossom on her face.
She smirked. "Jealous?"
"I was making a statement."
"Good, there's nothing to be jealous about anyway," Kim moved to the other side of the car. Maintaining a straight face in front of him was proved to be a challenge. "I mean, so what if we've seen each other naked before? It's no big deal, right? Well, there were a few times I slept over at his house; he even let me use his baby blanket, but that's really nothing…,"
"Right." He muttered, not exactly sure what to say.
Watching him, she felt like pulling her hair out. She fainted when he came back, fainted as in Fainted, with a capital F. She didn't even pass out when she first encountered Zordon, and he was only a huge head bobbing inside an even bigger tube. Oh, and had she said that Zordon was an alien of some kind? "Come on, Tommy! Please get real. It's Jason we're talking about. He's like a brother. Heck, he's more of a brother than Kenny has ever been. We grew up together, practically ever since we're in diapers. Our relationship was, is, and will always be platonic." She ended resolutely, closing any doors for further discussion.
"I wasn't worried," Tommy replied defensively, though his face was visibly relaxed. She raised an eyebrow, daring him to deny the undeniable. He opened his mouth, then reconsidered. A second later, his resolve crumbled. "Well, maybe just a little."
Kim punched her fists inwardly. After everything that had happened, she knew she at least deserved that. "You're such a bad liar. But they're doing fine, so you shouldn't be worried. Stay tuned for more Kim's Breaking News in the near future."
"He… didn't say anything else?" Tommy asked after a momentary pause, his forearms resting on the hood of his car as he waited with apprehension.
"Jason said that you'd better take good care of me or he would kick your sorry ass to Goldar's citadel," Kim answered saucily. Tommy might not be one for expressing his emotion in public, but she had been learning to read him. He was a beautiful mystery; a half written book. "I told him that I was more than capable of taking care of myself and that he could mind his own business."
His respond was only a grin, and as she continued watching him work, seeing those muscles flex beneath the sun, Kim finally made her decision. "Jason believed you'd be a good, if not better, leader than he was, Tommy," She blurted out before she could chicken out, again. Tommy stiffened in place, certainly not expecting that she would jump the gun like this and failing miserably in concealing his expression of surprise. "He's not worried that you're going to mess up his legacy, he's more concerned that I would let you take advantage of me now that he's not here to supervise." Not that Jason had anything to worry about. He should have listened the way Tommy 'Hey Kimberly' her.
The laughter breaking free from his lips lessened the intensity in the air a great deal. For a second it was so thick one could slice it with a knife. "I'd like to think that we have better self-control than that."
Her eyes flickered up to meet his. "You'd be surprised… But well, you got my point. Zordon chose you to be the leader and he never made wrong decisions before. I'm pretty sure he's not going to start now."
"I know that, Kim, but after everything that had happened, I guess being a tad bit pessimistic was kind of expected from me."
Kim clutched her sponge tightly at his admission. He looked embarrassed, almost pained, saying it out loud. Her eyes remain fixated on him, the soapy water dripping along her hand and puddling on the ground. For a moment nobody said anything.
Sighing, the Pink Ranger walked around the car until they were standing side by side. She took hold of his arm and made him look at her in the eyes, glaring at him with fixed concentration. "I won't say I understand how it feels to be put under an evil spell and have to practically almost kill your friends, because I don't. But it really was not your fault, Tommy. You shouldn't, mustn't, let that evil witch make you underestimate yourself," Her tone was almost desperate. She searched his face for the understanding she desperately hoped she'd find in those brown orbs. It took all her might not to shake him. "Ever since the spell was broken, you have done nothing short but putting yourself out there and proving to us over and over again that you deserved to be ranger. What you've done so far… it's more than enough to compensate Rita's wrong-doing. You told me how it killed you that Rita made you a ranger, but now Zordon personally picked you to bestow the white ranger mantle on."
Kim could only guess what the talk Tommy had had with Jason before he left had been about, but obviously it wasn't enough to sooth his wounded soul. "It's bridge under water. We're here now, alive, kicking, and washing your car," Kim nudged him with her shoulder and he grinned that trademark lop-sided grin that made her heart skip a beat. "You've got a cool, talkative sabre , a robot that would put Optimus what-his-name to shame, and not to mention a sick looking shield that Jason secretly drooled over in his dream. You're cool and ready for some ass kicking. Let's leave it at that."
Kim was more than out of breath when she finished her motivational speech, but Tommy appeared to be more confident and less distraught and he was standing a bit straighter and taller. For now, it was enough.
"I think I should be the one washing the top of the car. Or do you need a stool?"
She released a breath she didn't realize she had been holding. For a short moment she was worried that she had crossed the line that shouldn't have been crossed by a new titled girlfriend. "On behalf of short people around the world, I declare that you should be ashamed, Tommy Oliver."
He was grinning and it was infectious. The soaked sponge laying lonely on the hood of his car was calling at her and a sudden inspiration struck from out of nowhere. Almost without thinking, she reached out and smacked the half soaked sponge to the side of his face.
Containing the giggles was impossible. "You deserved it!"
The White Ranger wiped his face with the back of his hand and returned her stare with a playful glare. Quick as a striking snake, her half waist down was wet, the cold water seeping through the fabric fast. Kim blinked twice.
"Tommy!" She almost shouted, her eyes widening in disbelief.
"Fair is fair."
"If you're going to be that way," Kim hissed and leaned down to grab the bucket of water and throwing it at him, soaking his shirt and pants. "Oops, sorry, my bad."
Tommy laughed, pleased at the unexpected turn the event had taken. Enough of the heavy talk, hello Miss. Hart. "Well, you asked for it, Beautiful."
When Kim shivered, she wasn't sure whether it was because she was soaking wet or because of the tender way the pet name moved over his lips. Either way, Kim recognized the menacing glint in his eyes. It was reminiscent of his old green ranger days, only minus the spooky green glow. Uh-oh… "Don't you dare," She warned, her feet beginning to move backwards. "I'm serious, Tom-"
He hosed her.
"Screw you!" Kim yelled as she scampered off him. Blessing with a pair of much longer legs, Tommy was close following behind, the attack didn't cease. "Seriously, stop that!"
"Might as well get wet all over, right, Kim?" The water hit her neck and her shoulders hunched automatically. It was cold! "Look what the cat dragged in."
She was sprinting now, circling his half-washed jeep with him tailing behind. When she passed another bucket, she took no second thought to grab it. It was difficult to run on the slippery driveway, but she wasn't born a gymnast for nothing. She was gifted with extra balance. Kim skidded and swirled around, squeezing the sponge and throwing it at his face for a good measure. "Special delivery!"
Standing almost a foot taller than her gave him a great upper hand. Her eyes closed on their own accord when Tommy poured the water on her head, drenching her from her head to toe. Kim put up a brief but useless attempt to take over the hose, but he wouldn't have any of it. She growled, his laughter only served to fuel her more. If he wanted a war, then it's a war that he would get!
For another long five minutes they were hosing, splashing, and throwing water at each other. Somewhere between here and there the bucket was kicked into the middle of the freshly cut yard and some bottles fell over, spilling a sticky pink liquid that smelled like kool-aid. A car passing by honked at them and the passenger rolled down the window enough to shout some encouragement (get a room!).
To say that they were making lots of noise would be an understatement of the century. They probably should stop before Tommy's neighbor called the police for public disturbance, but at that point Kim really couldn't care less. If she and her friends didn't don on those tight and colorful spandex to save the world in daily basis, there would be no public to be disturbed.
Finding that she was running out of ammunition fast (while Tommy would never until someone turned the faucet off), she did the only thing she had in mind: she put the bucket on his head.
And while he was distracted… she'd snatch his hose.
That was the plan anyway.
Alas, Tommy was faster than she had given him credit for, and he swiftly broke free. Her attempt to escape his wandering hands was futile since he was quick to seize her arm. The sudden movement threw her and she lost her footing. Always a white knight, Tommy caught her around the waist and pivoted mid-turn so he'd receive most of the impact when they hit the ground. He grunted when he landed on the wet, cemented driveway with Kim right above him.
"I think I have concussion." Tommy groaned, half in pain and half in amusement.
Kim erupted into peals of laughter, she couldn't help it. Her small shoulders were shaking, hair sticking wildly to every possible direction. It wasn't exactly a condition she would like him to see her in, but to her relief, he wasn't in a better shape. "If only you could see how silly you looked!"
"In some places, you could have been charged for assault."
As her laughter finally dimmed into constant giggles, Kimberly was well aware that every inch of her body was aligned against his lean, well-built form. Kim pushed herself up, unwilling to surrender the position completely. She was half straddling him, legs on each side of him and hands bracing against his well developed chest. The skin of her back where Tommy's hands perched on felt like burning. Both were blushing at the awkward position, yet none made a move to rectify that.
"Oh, so you want to be the leader now?" Tommy teased. Around them the musty smell of wet soil and grass was heavy in the air.
Kim rolled her eyes. "Please remind me, who's whining about not competent enough to be the leader ten minutes ago?"
"I wasn't whining." Tommy interjected, frowning.
Smirking, Kim sat back on his legs, one hand smoothing her damp hair back. "Zordon could have easily picked Billy to replace Jason, but as smart and high-tech as he is, he doesn't possess the leader traits that you have. As for me… well, I wouldn't exactly say that Zordon was a sexist, I think he's just afraid of my constantly swinging mood swing. The side effect of being a Kimberly Hart."
"I'm sure I'll experience a fair share of it in the future." Tommy replied and Kim flushed scarlet at the way he's looking at her. "And I'm pretty sure one of the reasons why Zordon picked me was because I'm so cute."
For that, Kim would totally, utterly, call Trini and settle the score. The sisterhood of female rangers be damned. Obviously it had meant nothing to Trini that she couldn't trust her with that simple declaration of appreciation. "For your information, Adam told me that his father was a certified psychiatrist. Maybe you want to give him a call, I'm sure he has a pretty comfortable, made in China couch."
"Actually, Adam's dad is Korean."
"So? I was talking about the couch, and just so you know, Adam's father is half Korean and half French-Canadian."
Tommy chuckled and poked her side, knowing that she was ticklish. "Very funny, Kim."
"Then you should have known better before messing with me."
She bit her lips and studied his face closely. Some of his hair was sticking to his forehead and curling around his face. His eyes were shining with unsaid questions, waiting for her to say something.
Kim braved herself and wordlessly put one trembling hand against his cheek. She was sitting on top of him, touching him was the most innocent thing she could do at the moment. "You're going to do fine, Tommy. If it's any consolation, I think Billy has developed a hush-hush software that could tweak your landline so that you're only going to be charged half-price for international calls, just in case you need to call Jason in the middle of the night and have a heart to heart pep talk."
His laughter warmed her inside out and the grip on her hips tightened. Was it just her untamed imagination or it's getting hotter in here? "I'll be sure to keep that in mind."
"So…you made me wet." Kim remarked with relish. The simple statement could be taken in more than one way and from the deep flush gracing his face it didn't take a rocket scientist to know which direction his mind had taken. The sexy way his tongue peeked out and licked his lips made her pulse race faster.
"You started it."
"You should have been a gentleman and received your punishment for mocking us short people."
"You put my head into a bucket."
"And it fit!"
"That wasn't nice."
"You ruined my best top."
"I gave you a kiss for that."
They dissolved into another round of laughter and Tommy moved a strand of wet hair from her eyes. "As much as I enjoy this, I think the soap is drying and staining the paint."
"You chose your car over me, you so deserved that bucket," Kim mock-huffed but pushed herself up nonetheless, halfheartedly surrendering her snugly position. It might as well, anyway. The temptation to lean down and kiss him senseless had started to overpower her. She helped him get to his feet and was thrilled when he didn't let go of her hand and threaded their fingers together.
"I think Mrs. Owen has been watching us," Tommy nodded at the house across his and Kim saw a shadow moving behind the curtain when she turned to look. "I wouldn't be all that surprised if she called my mom later on, probably accusing me of doing some obscene activities."
"Damn, should have given her more show." Kim breathed, snapping her fingers.
"Copy that." Tommy snorted.
When Kim looked up at him, his eyes were focused on her; an intense gaze she had never seen before baring into her. The breeze blowing a second later sent chill down her spine and she realized that the damp fabric of her thin top was conveniently clinging to every curve of her body. She cleared her throat and the gesture was enough to break the magical spell that had been cast upon the two rangers. He looked sheepish all of a sudden.
"Feeling better now?"
Smiling, Tommy leaned over to brush a kiss as gentle as the flutter of a butterfly's wings upon her lips. Kim nearly forgot to breathe when he pulled back. "I am. Thank you, Beautiful."