One Step Forward...

A/N: Here's hoping this holiday season (no matter what you celebrate!) is good to you and yours :D

A/N2: Kim's POV, takes place immediately after "White Light, Part 2" in Season 2 of MMPR. Just a little bit of Kim-thought as I struggle to get updates to my many WIPs in order!

Disclaimer: I don't own them, despite my fervent wishes to the contrary. They are entirely the product of Saban (yay!)


I'm not quite sure when it happened... when I came to the conclusion that our not-quite-a-relationship was doomed for failure, I mean. All I know is that I want it to stop. I want things to go back to the way they used to be.

Okay, scratch that. I want things to be like they used to, and then not take a freakish left-turn at Screwed Up Lane. Again. If things could continue driving right into the sunset instead, that'd be great.

"Things" being, of course, my sorta-almost-kinda relationship with our former-Green current-White new leader of the Power Rangers. This... indefinable thing is in its third rendition, and you'd think by this time everybody would know the words and the dance steps but you'd be wrong.

First he was so hot and sweaty and sexy fighting Jason, and then being my knight in tight jeans chasing off Bulk and Skull. I thought there was a connection and reached out. Days later, he was throwing me out of the Megazord and making evil threats. So not cool, Rita.

Then he was good again (score one for the good guys!) and we began growing closer. He was adorable and kind of shy but he reached back and put my float back together and walked me home during a bad day. It was all sorts of sweet and we were so close-

When Rita started the business with the candle and the power-stealing, my sweetie was understandably upset. We all were. But he took losing those powers hard (almost as bad as Jason took "failing" him, even though he really didn't) and freakin' disappeared. I don't know how he or his parents explained the time away from school as he left like some reoccurring character on a TV show. He came back to Angel Grove to watch us get applauded but outside of really short phone calls in which I did most of the talking, there was nothing.

Poor Trini probably could have applied for a psychiatrist's degree or something after all the time I had her on the phone after trying to talk to him. I cried buckets over that stupid man. And I was never like this with anybody else, so why couldn't I just get the picture that he didn't like me like that and let go?

She said it was something to do with how what he said (or didn't say) contradicted what he did. I don't remember much, just that it felt like he was dancing all over my heart and it sucked.

But then he came back and saved the day and our parents and our Power coins and we welcomed him back with open arms. It was like he hadn't left and everybody took it for granted that we were totally together. We went on double dates and shared ATVs and took things in stride. I don't even know if Tommy realized I was still bugged out by things that happened while he was gone. He might have, but if so, he didn't know how to bring it up any more than I did.

Cue the second power drain, courtesy of Zedd. Thanks, evil alien dude. Make my love life a little more complicated, please? Next time, just clone him and I can have two - one to have my way with (oh, guys think girls don't think about this stuff, but he's hot and I do) and one to shout at when he's driving me insane.

I'm sure you can imagine what went on. Just... rinse-lather-repeat what happened the time before. Only this time, he wrote a letter to Jason (who, again, was putting on the mopey-guilty-face) and once in a while even responded to my attempts at conversation while he again was written out of our lives like a show with paper-thin continuity.

He even called me, a few days ago, to say he was planning on coming back soon. That was nice.

Now he's the White Ranger, the new leader of the team, and he's high-fiving the guys and grinning that amazingly happy grin that makes me tingle and... I have to slip out of the Command Center because I'm about to explode with all these conflicting emotions and I just can't stand it.

How can I love him and hate him at the same time? I want to hug him and I want to kick him in the shins. I want to kiss him and pull his hair...

I want to know where we stand, and more than ever I'm actually afraid to ask. And if you ever tell a soul, I'll find you and introduce you to my blade blaster.

It's not my fault... not entirely, anyway. I'm a product of my broken household and the weird life I live in which a floating head in a tube giving orders is normal and a complete household isn't. Outside of Jason, Zack and Billy there hasn't been a guy in my life that I could trust to stick around for long periods of time and after a while I have to start wondering if it's me or them.

Jason says that's dumb, but the law of big numbers does not work in my favor here.

It's chilly outside (well, duh, the Command Center is fairly high up and the sun has gone down; I'm not sure what I expected) and I wrap my arms around me and it makes me feel even lonelier. It's a stupid feeling, really. If I wanted a hug from Tommy he'd certainly give it, but I don't want to be in a fake relationship. I don't want him to pretend to want to be around me if he doesn't really want to be - and I don't want to wonder if he really likes me or if he's using me with the knowledge of how flexible I am and how much I want to run my hands down his-

Look, fact is, I'm probably not very subtle in my appreciation of his many well-chiseled assets, okay? Girls look, too. And he's got plenty to look at it.

"Hey."

I can't tell if I'm surprised or not that he followed me out here - either way, I'm thankful. "Hey."

"What a day, huh?"

He sounds nervous, like he did when he asked me to the dance, and I kind of sigh. Are we really going to start this dance all over again? It's not that he's not worth it, but... "Yeah. Welcome back."

I'm trying to be cheerful; it's not too hard, since I'm glad he's back. But that little voice that is full of doubt and frustration is starting to speak up a bit more loudly and it makes me want to punch something. Or throw a temper tantrum.

Preferably when he's not around, though.

"I'm sorry." Suddenly he's hugging me from behind and-

Wait, what?

"What?" I had to have heard him wrong.

"I said," he says, sounding a bit put-out that I'm making him repeat himself, "that I'm sorry."

"For what?" Don't look at me like that; it's a legitimate question. First of all, most guys I know would rather run naked through the streets of town after having all their teeth removed with no laughing gas than apologize. And second... does he know what I've been thinking?

His arms squeeze me back against him. He's warm and I can't help but snuggle up against him. "I've been selfish. Like, really selfish. I keep disappearing and leaving you without any good reason-"

Well, that's silly. "You had a good reason. Your powers were gone and you were trying to figure out where that left you." Okay, I'm pretty much parroting what he said to me, but I've heard it a couple times now. And yeah, I'm hurt that he had that little 'not-a-Ranger, not-a-friend' crisis. But, you know, we're different people and our minds work differently.

"Yeah, but you weren't gone. You were still there for me, and I shouldn't have shoved you aside or ignored you. Aw, man, Kim... it was really stupid of me."

I tilt my head back and he's staring down at me with those stupid puppy-dog eyes. Dammit.

I gulp and stare forward again. The stars are just beginning to shine and I focus on them as I admit, "It really did hurt, you know. I wanted to help."

"I wanted your help. But I'm a dumb guy and sometimes we have too much pride."

He's being awfully candid. I wonder if Jason said something. Actually, it was probably Trini. Trini's always got my back, and I think Tommy's a little afraid of her after she wiped the floor with him one day at the Youth Center.

I don't say anything - he's right, but it's not a "good" right. It's something he needs to work on.

"Can I make it up to you?"

"How?"

"A date in the park tomorrow. Just you and me," he offers. "After my workout."

Well, it's not an expensive dinner or night out on the town. But he's trying, and Ranger-ing certainly cuts into after-school-job time.

And he's trying. This makes me feel a lot better.

"Okay. Sounds good." I tilt my head back again, and rather than responds, he kisses me.

Maybe we'll end up driving into the sunset, after all.