Broken

Chapter 7

Co-Authored by psyco_chick32 & Shawn30

Timeline: Divergence after Season 3. Kim never left, Zeo never happened. It's their Senior year of high school.

Notes: Jason, Zack and Trini came back for their Senior year. Kat joined the team. They are alternate Rangers, and assist as necessary.

Genre: Drama/Angst/Hurt/Comfort – take note, there are no magic answers in this story. Issues come, issues go, and they're not simply gone because we want them to be.

Ships (so far): Jason/Trini

Summary: As time moves on, some Rangers are forced to come to grips with what they really want.

A/N: psyco_chick32 – We apologize for the long delay! Holidays and catch-up and lots of arguing over the many twists and turns this story has taken, and has tried to take but been reined in, and where it's ultimately headed. Now, back to our regularly scheduled drama! (Note that a few weeks have passed between this chapter and the last.)

A/N: Shawn30 – What we do and don't do define our true character.


Hillard House
Saturday, October: Week 4
9:30 p.m.

Caught in a torrential downpour only three blocks from the Australian's home, Tommy and Katherine raced down the street as rain peppered them relentlessly.

What would have typically been comical, as they were completely soaked from head to toe, was anything but. The White Ranger was feeling the brunt of the alternate Pink Ranger's rage as they ran.

"I reminded you no less than three times in the last week to go get your spark plugs changed, but did you listen? Nope! 'Cause you never, ever listen… then again, I shouldn't be surprised. Men never listen, and certainly can't see what's right in front of them, either! I swear, sometimes I just want to choke every man on Earth to death!"

"Can't you bitch me out when we aren't caught in a thunderstorm?" Tommy shouted above a loud crack of thunder as they leaped over water puddles on the sidewalk on their way to the Hillard's home.

"I should just leave you outside on the porch," Kat taunted as they turned the corner onto her street. Her clothes were soaked all the way through, her hair an utter mess, and it was all the fault of Mr. Forgetful behind her. "Why, oh why did I ride with you to the skating rink? I should have caught a ride with Adam and Aisha… but of course, since I'm 'Team Tommy' by some warped form of default I never chose, I got stuck with you!"

Dodging a fallen tree branch as howling winds swept warm rain in his face, Tommy grimaced and raced up the front porch stairs. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm as drenched as you are. So fucking can it, alright?"

Katherine struggled for her keys, and then opened the front door before scowling at Tommy. "Yell at me one more time and so help me God, I will knock you on your ass!"

Gritting his teeth, Tommy held his peace.

He watched Kat kick off her wet sandals, as he did the same. Then she turned away from him and, without a care for his presence, wrenched off her dripping wet lavender blouse; she stood there in a wetly clinging white t-shirt and bra, barefoot in denim shorts. 'Damn…' He had to shake his head free of the cobwebs, and the sight of those trickles of water cascading down her long, smooth legs. His pulse quickened. "Your parents home?"

Kat shook her head and spun to flip the light switch. "Nope, they won't be back until late tonight. They're on a short road trip to see an old college friend." Her brows knitted together in frustration as she flipped the switch over and over. "Dammit!" She walked past Tommy to glance out the window of the door. Sure enough, the traffic lights at the end of the street were out. "Looks like this storm has knocked out the power on my street. We're in the Dark Ages now."

Swearing under her breath, Katherine found herself staring a bit too long at the way Tommy's white shirt clung to his muscular frame like a second skin. Averting her eyes, she switched gears, recalling how nothing had gone the way she had planned that day. She folded her arms across her chest to ward off a chill, noting in a mildly prissy tone, "Thank you for being a forgetful ass."

"Says the drowned rat." He managed a half-smile her way as they stood dripping all over the floor. Then his expression turned apologetic. "I missed my mechanic's appointment, alright. It was an accident."

Katherine arched a brow. She wanted to kick him hard in the balls for her crappy day that was supposed to end so much better than this. Her clothes were ruined, her make-up was ruined, and her hair was ruined… all three of which she'd spent a great deal of time and stress on. Little good that did, and that was even before it began raining like crazy. "You owe me a free breakfast sometime in the near future," she pointed at him, unable to fend off a devilish grin. They often argued like this, and then the next second it was like, whatever. Certainly one of the most strange and yet meaningful friendships she'd ever had. "Deal?"

"Deal." Tommy swept his hand over his face, noting the moisture all over his palm. "Got a towel?"

Walking over to a nearby closet, Katherine reached up for a set of white towels above the coat rack. Blessed or cursed – depending upon how she felt that day – with more height than the average girl, at the moment she was thankful. She threw one towel to Tommy, taking the other for herself to clean up a bit.

While drying herself off, she suddenly felt Tommy's quiet focus fall all over her in a way that sent a slight tremor through her body. Just like that, there it was again… that unspoken spark between them that didn't really mean anything, and yet was ever present, as if waiting in the wings for just the right moment to ignite. Here they were, all alone in her house as a shadow of doubt passed over her face. She swallowed hard. "Lay the towel down on the couch, then you can sit. After I light a couple of candles, I'll see if my Dad has something you can borrow so you don't catch pneumonia."

Her long blonde locks looked far too sexy wet, the way they framed her soft face… His eyes found hers alight with mischief when she caught him staring. "Looking after me, Kat?"

"Someone has to, right?"

"It's been a while."

"What can I say? You're a nice charity case."

Hypnotic droplets of rain slowly trickled off the side of her neck… down the column of her throat… Then she turned and walked off into the kitchen. Sighing, Tommy shut his eyes and rubbed his hand over his face as he laid down the towel, and then took a seat on the couch in the living room.

Today sucked royally in every way possible.

What was supposed to be a group outing for fun and hopefully the mending of some severely fractured friendships began pretty well. Other than the fact that when he arrived, a clearly pleased Aisha informed them that Kim canceled at the last second when Alex invited her to one of his martial arts tournaments.

The White Ranger hated that more than he could say, but still held his peace. What could he say, really, after what he'd done to her? He choked down the pain, but was unaware at the time there was much more to come.

Still, things had been fun for the first hour or two: lots of video gaming, skating, and pizza. He and Adam had been a tiny bit more than civil to each other, while Trini and Jason were having a genuinely good time together. Aisha, Rocky, Kat, and Zack were all trying to out-skate each other with hilarious results. Even Billy skated, and that was priceless as the Rangers' resident genius found a skill he simply could not master.

After making a hotdog run for the whole gang, Tommy overheard Trini telling Jason how she'd caught Kim and Alex making out on Aisha's back porch like it was about to be outlawed, and how she worried Kim might be moving a little too quickly.

That ruined his day, and afterward he was in a somber mood no one could get him out of.

So now he was left sitting in the dark in wet clothes, jealous as hell over a girl so obviously over him it wasn't even funny. Pining over Kim when she was actively moving on while he just stayed behind feeling as lonely as he ever had wasn't productive or mentally healthy. He cheated on her and ruined their relationship. This was the consequence of those actions. He knew he had no one to blame for any of this but himself. He was all by himself.

Except he wasn't really all alone.

Not anymore.

Katherine had become in recent weeks as close to him as nearly any friend he'd ever had. It wasn't an everyday thing, but they usually hung out together once a week. She'd made her own mistakes and was trying to be a better person, same as him. She understood the long, hard road back to regaining people's trust and… she was stunningly gorgeous. There was heat between them, of that there was no doubt. Friendship spiced by something hot and elusive… something that didn't need to burn, but threatened to spiral into an inferno if they weren't careful.

Problem was, he was sick and fucking tired of being careful! He'd apologized till he was blue in the face, given Kim her space, and tried to make peace to the best of his ability. None of it was good enough. It seemed his crime was unforgivable. Time hadn't healed any wounds as evidenced by the rooftop arguments.

Kimberly just didn't want anything to do with him anymore. What was he still hoping for? What was left to fight for if Kim was all over Alex now? Was he the last person to get the 'Gotta Move On' memo?

With his head bowed, Tommy heard Kat cutely muttering to herself about finding the candles, and then her success as she struck match after match, lighting them. Here was a wonderful, sexy girl who wanted to get to know him better, and already knew things about him he'd barely been able to say out loud.

He knew she felt what was unspoken between them. He'd seen it in her eyes on more than one occasion. So what was the point of fighting it when no one gave a damn anyway? Maybe that was the point, that there wasn't one. Not anymore.

Rising to his feet, Tommy stalked toward the kitchen, fiery determination etched darkly over his face.

Even with her back to the entrance, Katherine felt his presence, felt him watching her from across the room in a way that instantly set her heart racing. She glanced over her shoulder, sensing something intense was on the horizon. Suddenly her voice trembled. "Do you want something?"

Of course he did, standing in the shadows unable to take his eyes off of her. Unable to gain redemption or forgiveness or Kim's love or respect. He'd lost it all, and was now standing on the precipice of uncharted waters.

It dawned on him just how right Lord Zedd was about one thing.

Sometimes he didn't want to care.

Sometimes he just wanted what he wanted.

"Do you feel this?" Tommy challenged her directly as lightening skittered light across the walls.

Having endured yet another frustrating day with no progress in her personal life, Katherine sighed and closed her eyes for a moment. She gave a slow nod as her reply. What was she denying herself, really? This wasn't love, but it wasn't loneliness or hurt or regret, either. Damn, but she wanted to feel something other than those things. Hope wasn't a tangible, physical thing she could touch. But Tommy was.

She sighed, fearful and excited all at the same time. "This is a bad idea."

Tommy paused a beat before asking, "What is?"

"Us… this…" She struggled to put into words that made sense to describe the elemental draw she felt toward him. "It's wrong for a long list of reasons."

Thunder rattled the kitchen windows as a storm of emotion roared in Tommy's dark brown eyes. Right and wrong. Good and bad. Do and don't. He was so sick of asking himself questions instead of taking what he wanted. Lord Zedd's words came back to him ten-fold. "And yet you still want it," he boldly declared. "You still want me."

"You want me too," she fired back.

"I wouldn't be standing here if I didn't."

Katherine shivered at the intensity in his eyes. When he wanted to be, Tommy could be smug and egotistical, but fucking hot and bold in a way that left her tingling. She gasped at the raw intent in his gaze… at the obvious attraction she read that carried not a hint of misunderstanding. He wasn't the man she woke up thinking about this morning, but he was the man here, now, who craved her. "I'm not Kim. And I never will be."

"…good."

Heart pounding in his chest, Tommy advanced forward like a beast unleashed, driving Katherine back against the refrigerator so hard it shook. The heels of her feet, her backside, and the knot of her ponytail pushed at the door. Refrigerator magnets were knocked to the floor as their gazes locked tight.

His piercing stare made her center quiver as she fought the urge to push him away… or draw him into her so deep she'd forget everything she truly wanted and couldn't have. The decadent feel of his body pressed tightly to hers wasn't supposed to feel so damn good. "If we do this, there's no going back."

The feel of her soft, sensuous body against his left him hard and panting. "Well… I guess that would firmly put you on 'Team Tommy', wouldn't it?" Her attempt to slap him was thwarted when he caught her tight by the wrist. "Then again, you've been there all along."

"Fuck you!"

"…soon enough."

Katherine suddenly felt light-headed. "Number one, I'm not on anyone's team," she snarled in his face, even as she felt how hard he was. Even as it aroused her to know he felt the same way. Why, oh why did you always crave the worst things for you? "Number two, if you want something… then take it."

Her challenge was accepted as Tommy captured her smoldering lips with a deliciously scandalous kiss, savoring the sweet sound of her gasp as he drank hungrily from her soft mouth until their arms closed tightly around each other. Until their hands grasped and caressed and roamed everywhere… he fisted her ponytail, holding her where he wanted her while plundering her mouth. Then she grabbed his, yanking it hard once until he broke the kiss.

Panting for air, a wild-eyed Katherine wiped the back of her hand over her lips. He tasted so fucking good and this was so fucking wrong and damn if she could think straight with the way he kissed her with such greedy need, nipping and roaming and curling his tongue round hers. This was all impulse as she suddenly took his mouth, biting at his bottom lip before pushing her tongue inside.

Tommy sucked hard on the end of her tongue as they twisted off the refrigerator door, over past the length of the sink. Cups and plates were knocked to the floor, crashing down just as surely as their inhibitions, only to reach the island in the center of the kitchen. His hands squeezed her hips as logic vanished when she began whining softly. The urge to hoist her onto that island and claim her descended to the floor where their urgent kissing saw them rolling over and over.

Hot, wet kissing charged the air around them. Gasping, panting, sucking on each other's mouth so passionately; her right hand tugged at his zipper at the same time his hand dug inside her shorts and clutched the side of her panties… And then, all of a sudden, the lights came back on.

The pure, unadulterated shock – the sheer weight of what they were about to do – slammed into them like an out-of-control freight train!

Tommy frantically launched from off of her, backpedaling until he practically fell on the floor against the wall. Katherine laid perfectly still on the floor, panting heavily, hands covering her face; she couldn't fathom what had almost happened. Both of them were silent as this was… mercy, what they were about to do for all the wrong reasons.

Watching her sit up, he met her conflicted gaze with his own as a multitude of emotions passed between them. But as surely as the power unexpectedly came back on, so did the truth that lived in his heart. "Kat, I'm so sorry."

Feeling ashamed that she'd ever let things go so far, Katherine nodded and sighed. "So am I."

Tommy gave a nod as they both took a moment to settle themselves. When he finally spoke, there was no holding back, total honesty as she deserved no less. "I'm very attracted to you, Katherine. I always have been. I thought you were hot even when I was dating Kim," he admitted wearing a small smile. His body was still humming, but he was thinking clearly again. "I think so highly of you, and in recent weeks your friendship has meant the world to me. I don't want to lose that for anything in the world."

Stilling himself, the simplest truth of his life was easy to admit. "I'm still in love with Kimberly, and what almost happened here wasn't because I couldn't stop thinking about you or have been fantasizing about you for weeks or anything like that. I haven't been pining away for you. I'm not in love with you, or even falling. It was because I overhead Trini tell Jason she caught Kim and Alex kissing. I was so insanely jealous and you're so pretty and we have this connection, but… you don't deserve to be used to help me forget Kim. You don't deserve to be anyone's second place. You're an amazing person, and I do love you dearly. But I'm not in love with you, and we can't ever do this again."

He appeared so worried about her reaction. Though a million things flooded through her mind, relief and understanding were chief among them. "I think you're fucking hot," she half-laughed as they shared a knowing smile. "It was always more than Rita's spell that drew me to you. But I've been crushing on someone else pretty hard for the last three months. All I wanted to do today was get him to notice me, but he didn't. It's because he's shy, and I get that, but I was just very disappointed. I was hurt and feeling as though I put so much thought and effort into trying to get his attention, and I got nothing in return."

Feeling a bit embarrassed, she continued, "So us hooking up would have been to validate that I was sexy and someone a man wanted." Feeling that way was beneath her, but she was all too human and only seventeen years old. "I've been lonely since things with Joseph ended, and Adam is the first guy I've had feelings for in a long time. I…"

"Adam?" Tommy blinked rapidly, sure he'd heard wrong. "Adam Park?"

"No, Adam West from the old cheesy Batman TV show," she snickered, having prepared for this talk ever since she became close with Tommy. It was inevitable. "Yes, Adam is my secret crush who offers me a tiny wave every time he sees me."

Tommy just stared at her. "But he doesn't seem like your type."

"And how would you know what my type is?" She saw him think it over, grinning. Subtly, thy name was not Tommy Oliver. "You and I are too much alike. It only stands to reason we'd go for opposites of our own personality. We're stubborn and strong-willed and not really afraid to go after what we want. But Adam is so sweet and gentle and just a good man," she beamed despite herself. "He's got this understated sense of humor I like, and his confidence is quiet and not out there in your face like you."

"Hey!"

Kat knew he wasn't upset at all. She liked that she knew him pretty well. "What I'm saying is that I don't want to date you. And not because I already knew you were still very much in love with Kim. It's because despite the physical attraction, I think we work better as best friends."

He stared at her, taking it all in, and then sighed. Of all the guys he could have imagined for her… "Adam isn't exactly my favorite person."

"And I'm not sure if he'd shove you out of the way of an out of control bus, either," she laughed as he could do nothing but agree. "But you know he's a good man. Just like I know you are." He was mulling things over in his head, and she all but imagined a small boardroom of little Tommys considering how to deal with this. It made her smile. "So what's the verdict?"

Tommy exhaled. "I love you."

"I know that. And I love you too. But I'm falling for Adam pretty hard. So the question is, do I lose my best friend because he hates my soon-to-be-honey for dumbass reasons?"

Crossing his arms, Tommy rolled his eyes and then shook his head. He could tell Kat knew she had already won, but he didn't mind. He wanted her to be happy and in love and treated very well. She deserved no less than a guy who was crazy about her. Since that guy wasn't him, and he trusted her judgment… well, he didn't intend on losing her. "I'm not going anywhere."

She knew he wasn't. "Good."

"And you need to take the bull by the horns and ask him out."

Katherine's gaze fell a moment. "Maybe he just doesn't see me that way."

"Maybe he's too shy to make the first move. I was with Kim."

"And you two are more alike than you care to admit."

"Then why wasn't I shy with you?"

"Because I'm not the woman you're in love with, and if I didn't go for it you wouldn't be crushed. I can't hurt you the way Kimberly could," Katherine noted with no malice. "You need to fight for her."

"I intend to," Tommy declared. "Not right now, though. I'm going to wait a little while. Give her some space. Let things settle down. Then I'm going to go for it, and whatever happens, happens."

"So what about what just happened with us?" she smiled.

"It was a moment," he swallowed deeply, "where thankfully clearer heads prevailed."

"Agreed. Using other people or sex to deal with bad days or frustrations doesn't show we've learned anything. And even though we obviously have a long way to go, at least we're on the right path."

"Go after Adam, Kat. He's…" the words strained from his throat as he really didn't want to compliment him. "He's a good guy. And if you like him that much, well, I want whatever makes you happy."

"I want you to fight like hell for Kim. But if she says stop, then you have to, and I know you'll find whoever you are supposed to be with. But for the record, I still think it's your Beautiful." His smile told her everything she needed to know. "So help me clean up. This place looks like we did have some really wild floor sex. And we both have bed hair," she laughed.

Tommy stood up, and then began picking up the refrigerator magnets off the floor. "Adam…" He shook his head.

"Don't start," she snickered. He was her best bud, and she was cool with that. "And from now on, no more dissing Adam when I'm around. Got it?"

He grumbled, but gave a nod. "Billy's single, too…"

"Stop it."

"So is Bulk."

"I hate you," she laughed.

"Hate you too."


Angel Grove Youth Center
Sunday, November: Week 1
1:00 p.m.

"I can't get out of it; Mom says I have to go to my Aunt's wedding," Adam grumped at the table, all but pouting over his smoothie. "And it's pretty much mandatory everybody dance... on top of that, my cousin's best friend spent our last family reunion last summer all but stalking me." He stared at Kim. "Are you sure you can't go? Mom wouldn't mind."

Kim shook her head apologetically. "Sorry, but no luck. If I don't get this project done, Mrs. Murphy is going to skin me alive. She already gave me an extra week because of my gymnastics competition." Her economics teacher couldn't have been more understanding, but Kim didn't want to push her luck. Then an idea popped into her head and she stood. "But I can still help!"

Adam's eyes went wide as Kim grabbed his arm and dragged him down the stairs. "What are you doing?"

"Dance lesson!"

He dug in his heels to little avail, given that he simply slid across the floor. He could've sworn he heard a snicker, and sent the darkest glare he could muster to where Rocky was relaxing between reps. "I really think this is a terrible idea."

Kim didn't dignify his complaint with a response, spinning him to face her and looking him up and down. "Okay, what kind of dancing does your family do?"

He stared at her blankly.

Kim lifted an eyebrow.

He stared back, still at a loss.

"Bro, she means like, slow dancing or the Macarena or what?" Rocky called out from where he was sitting, throwing Adam a bone and encouraging Kim all with one phrase.

Adam glared his way. "I don't know! It's all dancing to slow songs and things."

Kim grinned. "Oh, then that's easy! Arms up. One on my hip, one up here." She put her free arm up on his shoulder and grabbed his hand, laughing and wriggling when he tickled her side lightly in a bid for freedom. "Stop it! Now, rock with me. Left- no, my left. Now the other way." The two moved from side to side slowly, Kim humming in the absence of music.

"I feel like an idiot," Adam mumbled petulantly, refusing to look around and see just how many people were witnessing his humiliation. "And I don't dance."

"You're dancing just fine and you are not an idiot," Kim assured him. "Now, we're going to turn, too. Think of it as a box. Step to the side, back- no, my back, so forward for you. Good, now back over… and back." After a few missteps, his ears burning, the two were moving in unison again. "Great job!"

They kept moving, then a wicked smirk crawled across Kim's face, and Adam almost instinctively began searching for places to escape. "And, if your stalker comes along, you can always dance a little closer." She stepped forward, until there was little more than a hair's breadth between them, and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Put your free hand on my back."

A blush crawled up Adam's neck, but Kim grabbed his wrists to place his hands properly. "Now, same swaying as before. But add a bit of sexiness to it," she giggled, just to watch him blush harder. It worked.

"Man, that ain't how you romance a lady!"

Adam nearly melted with relief when Zack's voice cut through them. His predecessor tapped him on the shoulder. "Mind if I cut in?"

"Kim?" As far as Adam was aware, she hadn't spent much time with Zack since his apology, but he was ready to gnaw his arms off at the shoulders to escape. He hated dancing!

"Well," Kim drawled, "if you're going to bail on me…"

"I am!" Adam cut a hasty retreat to join Rocky at the weights. Kim laughed as she heard him threaten the Red Ranger with bodily harm for encouraging her.

Chuckling, Zack held out his hand with a flourish. "Shall we, my lady?"

For a moment, Kim thought about saying no. She hadn't actually done anything with Zack or any of Tommy's friends – how sad was it that she thought of Zack and Jason as more Tommy's friends than hers or even theirs – since the weekend where everything came to a head.

But she loved to dance, and Zack was smiling and his eyes were sparkling and… 'Oh, what the hell.' She couldn't stay mad at him forever, and she would look terrible if she rebuffed him. On top of that, she didn't even really want to. "Good sir," she responded with a curtsey.

He grabbed her hand and spun her around, pulling her into swing dance steps. "Can you keep up?"

Kim laughed… and felt like a weight was lifted off her shoulders.


Campbell House
Wednesday, November: Week 1
5:00 p.m.

"Adam, you'll be fine," Kim insisted for what had to be the two-millionth time in the last hour. At least, it felt that way. "Just relax." She resumed digging through the stack of tapes, trying to figure out what movies to suggest. Nothing overtly romantic because that would be coming on too strong… it wouldn't be the right atmosphere for a horror film… and nothing too long, since it was a school night.

Adam crossed his arms and stared at her from the couch petulantly. When Kim had finally needled him into admitting that he liked Kat a few days ago, he'd expected the eardrum-shattering squeal. He'd expected the clapping and encouraging and plotting. After all, this was Kim. Despite the insanity and drama of her own former love life, she was a sucker for a good romance. And given that Adam was firmly staked in Team Kim, and Kat tended to drift more on the Team Tommy side of things, this was something straight out of West Side Story.

But when she hadn't made a move to match-make in a couple days, he foolishly let his guard down. He could have his crush quietly, and then go off to college where the person he liked wasn't bosom buddies with someone who would like to hit him with a train. He could just let things go and not cause any further drama in a team already ripe with it.

He wasn't expecting her to try and set them up the moment he'd let his guard down. She'd lulled him into a false sense of security before pouncing, greeting him in the hallway with the information that Kat was coming over that night, and so was he, then picking out his clothes after his work out and ordering him to hang out with her and Kat upon pain of having Aisha do this instead.

"This is a bad idea," he declared suddenly.

"Why?" Abandoning the pile of movies, she plopped down next to him. "Adam, you are so great. How could this be a bad idea?"

"I'm not- I mean-" Adam stumbled through his thoughts. "I just… don't think I'm Kat's kind of guy. You know?"

She shook her head. "No. I don't know. Why not? Any girl would be lucky to have somebody like you." He seemed skeptical, so she nudged him and dug deeper. "Why wouldn't she be into you?"

"Remember when she first showed up?"

Kim nodded slowly. It wasn't easy to forget: the way Kat obsessed over Tommy, the feeling of her powers leeching from her body, that seemingly never-ending weakness and the concern in Tommy's- 'Stop it.' This was about Adam and Kat and getting them together like any good friend would. "Of course."

"She was so into Tommy."

"Because of Rita," Kim pointed out, playing Devil's Advocate. "The spell made things all twisted."

"Yeah, but she was still into him. Like, almost freakishly. And she's spent the whole year spending time one-on-one with him. That means she's probably listened to a list of 101 reasons why she should hate me and why I suck and stuff."

She sighed. That was likely true. But Kat had to like Adam, she showed all the signs: dressing a little prettier and flirtier when she knew Adam was going to be around. Making sure to hang out when Adam was joining on trips. Inviting Adam to go places with them.

Alas, Adam was a guy, and a kind of dense one at that. Kat could probably wear a shirt with blinking Christmas lights proclaiming "I Like Adam Park!" and he'd be oblivious. It just added to his charm, though; he had a bit of ego, like all of the guys, but if was underscored by his shyness.

"Adam, you trust me, right?" His emphatic nod made her grin. "Then believe me when I say she likes you. I'm a girl. I know these things. And you told me you like her. So realize how great you are and go for it!"

"How about you take your own advice?" he shot back – and both of them knew he wasn't referring to Alex. When her lips thinned, he sighed and acquiesced. "I'm here, aren't I?"

She gave him a hug. "Yes, you are. Thank you." The doorbell rang and she jumped up. "She's here! Now… just behave, and you'll have a date by the end of the night!"

"Yes, mom," Adam mumbled as Kim pranced out of the room. He took a deep breath - really, how did he get into these things? If he were lucky, the evening would go by quickly and he wouldn't make a complete and utter fool of himself.

Then Kat floated into the room, all legs and smiles and grace and wearing a beautiful black and white sundress and he almost swallowed his tongue.

Kat greeted him with a sunny grin, sitting next to him and crossing her legs. Adam forced his eyes away from the skin that exposed and up to her face, shifting a bit awkwardly. "So, a movie night?"

"Yeah," Adam managed. "Just something fun to relax with since Aisha has so much homework and Kim hurt her ankle and couldn't practice." A strange look crossed her face and Adam mentally smacked himself upside the head. "I'm really glad you're here and didn't have to work." He fumbled a bit for something to say. "Um, would you like to pick the movie?" He gestured to the stack of tapes Kim had left on the table and looked around for the petite Pink Ranger.

Of course, Kim had made herself scarce, starting up the popcorn maker in hopes of giving them some alone time.

"Thank you for inviting me," Kat said, picking out her choice. "I love Star Wars… is that okay?"

"Perfect," Adam breathed. He'd never admit he was just waiting for her to pick a sappy chick flick, just to torture him a little more. "I mean, it's a great choice. Good story."

Kat giggled, absolutely charmed. The poor guy looked so out of his element, despite the fact that he'd spent the past few months with so many women around. He really was cute. "I've always enjoyed it. I dreamed of flying through space – never thought it would happen, though."

"Yeah, I can imagine joining a team of Intergalactic Superheroes wasn't really on your to-do list," he responded. "It definitely expands your horizons."

"Literally." She placed a hand on his knee, "I never did get a chance to thank you for those lessons a few weeks ago. That monster came by and- well, anyway, I really do appreciate them. I've learned a lot. You're a good teacher."

"Thanks. I'm glad I could help." He took a deep breath and, Kim's endorsements ringing in his ears, jumped in with both feet. "Do you think sometime we-"

"I have popcorn! Kat, did you pick out a movie?"

Kat's face fell a little, certain he was going to go for it until Kim barged in. Then she couldn't help but laugh. The poor Black Ranger looked torn between crying and choking Kim. "Yes, I did."

As Kim turned down the lights, Kat inched closer to Adam. Maybe they'd make some progress yet.


Kat sat through the movie - one she usually loved - paying much more attention to the young man next to her. He seemed a little stressed - of course, Adam wasn't the most relaxed person, by any means… not anymore, at least. He'd changed since she'd first met him, back when everything was crazy and she was evil. But he was still the sweet guy he had been; protective, loyal, focused, a bit shy.

She wondered - hoped - that he shared her feelings, and was just too shy to be demonstrative. Strange, given how often he was with the other women, but not unheard of.

That thought made her wince. She was well-aware of Adam's views on cheaters. He wanted to rip Tommy apart for the pain he'd caused Kim. He'd loudly denounced people who could so willingly hurt others. And she'd done that… not that she'd shared that information with the group. It sort of made her feel like a spy, like a liar, but it really never came up. If she and Adam began dating, though, she'd certainly owe him some explanations for her previous relationships. He was incredibly understanding and sweet, but she didn't think he'd be as sympathetic to her plight as Tommy was.

Tommy. The two were remarkably alike: determined, a bit shy, loners types for the most part who were undying loyal to people they chose to stand behind. Adam seemed a little less self-assured… that was actually pretty sweet, and having a bit less of an ego was certainly nice. Adam was a bit less forward, too; he wasn't likely to make such a strong, dominating move on her like Tommy had.

She wondered if she would ruin here friendship with Tommy if she dated Adam? He'd said not, but actions and words didn't always end up meshing. Would Adam even want to date somebody as close to Tommy as she was? By now, she was almost convinced she knew more about the White Ranger than his ex-girlfriend did… certainly understood him on a higher level. Maybe the same could be said for Adam and Kimberly. But the two were definitely on opposing sides of how they saw what Tommy did. She'd seen how that affected Trini's relationship with Jason…

'Stop it,' she ordered herself sternly. She wouldn't get anywhere picking this apart. Either Adam liked her or he didn't; either he could handle Kat's friendship with Tommy or not. She'd just have to take the bull by the horns and give it her best.

And maybe, if things played out well, she'd owe Tommy for that jolt to her self-confidence. She eyed Kim from across the dark room; the Pink Ranger clutching a pillow as she sprawled out on the couch on the other side of the table. She'd just have to wait and see… and maybe, she could give Tommy's wish a nudge in the right direction.


"I love that movie," Kim bubbled as she popped the tape out of the VCR. "Good choice, Kat."

"Thanks." She caught Kim's eye and almost imperceptibly tilted her head in Adam's direction. "We have time for the next one, but maybe before we start the next movie-"

Kim grinned, catching on right away. "I should start more popcorn? Sounds like a plan. I'll be back in a few." She scampered out of the room, leaving Adam and Kat to stare at each other quietly for a moment.

She tucked a stray hair behind her ear. "So, um… before Kim came in earlier, you were saying?"

"Oh… yeah." He shifted awkwardly. Throughout the whole movie, he'd been sitting there contemplating Kat. He liked her; really, really liked her. She was gorgeous and smart and was so good about accepting how Kim wasn't magically over what had happened… that was something rare from people who hung around Tommy.

But, therein lay his problem: her close friendship with him. He knew Kat wanted to keep all of her friends in the midst of this mess, and he knew Tommy all but loathed the sight of him. It would be unfair to ask her to spend time with him when she could be with the person who she'd been with almost all the time. The two were nearly always together – easy fuel for the rumors that they were dating, or at least hooking up – and that certainly wasn't going to happen with him around.

"So realize how great you are and go for it!" Kim's words echoed in his head.

Realizing he was still being shy, Kat took the initiative before she could lose her nerve. "How about we go to dinner later this week? Just you and me?"

Adam's jaw dropped for a second, and she bit back a giggle. Then he smiled and rubbed the back of his neck. "Uh… yeah, that'd be… that'd be cool."

"Great!" She smiled, and was gratified to see his grin. "Maybe Saturday night?"

Adam wracked his brains for any other plans that night and came up empty. "Yeah, that's good. I'll pick you up, okay?"

"Alright." The two smiled giddily at each other, and then Kim came in.

"Popcorn!" She eyed Kat quizzically as she passed to pop in the next movie, and Kat's smile said it all.

The Pink Ranger nodded, giving her a discrete thumbs-up. Inside, she was dancing. Finally, something good for Adam!


Stony Creek Park - Alex's Car
Friday, November: Week 1
8:00 p.m.

Kimberly wasn't quite sure how she had ended up in this position, but she certainly wasn't complaining as Alex's lips trailed down her jawline before latching to her neck. She straddled his lap in the backseat of his car, feeling somewhat wanton as he had one hand tangled in her hair and another caressing her side under her blouse. That hand trailed down to her ass, pressing her tighter against him, and she sighed into a heated kiss.

A date at the Crab Shack had been just like their other dates, filled with stories and jokes, but there'd been a tension between them that threatened to spark. Light touches here and there… Alex was definitely smooth, and his interest had been clear as day.

Here, now, she could feel him, hard and pressed up against her. It made her feel sexy, and damn that was a good feeling after the beating her self-esteem had taken since Tommy-

Damn it all, but he always popped into her head at the most inconvenient time! Thoughts of him leaning over her, dropping a kiss on her forehead in the hospital, eyes filled with worry. Or those three stupid, painful words: "We had sex." Sometimes, she wanted to rip her brain out and bleach it clean for a new start. Other times she wanted to grab him and shake him; how could he insist he was going to make everything better and win her back (or so Rocky had said once, when she wasn't supposed to be able to hear), and then just give up?

Alex's hand skimmed up Kim's stomach, making her giggle at the ticklish sensation until he cupped a breast through her bra; she groaned and let her head fall back. When it came to distractions from unwanted thoughts, he was one of the best.

"Have I told you how incredibly beautiful you are?" It was something she was starting to believe again, and Alex had been nothing but amazing in helping. They weren't boyfriend and girlfriend, but Kim would be lying if she said he didn't intrigue her.

"Not tonight…"

Alex grinned at her, eyes sparkling. "Consider it said, then?" His hands ran up and down her back, coaxing her to take off her loose, super-cute peasant-style blouse. She complied almost without thinking, shivering a bit at the quick chill before his hands rubbed warmth back into her skin.

Once in a while, Kim would wonder if they were moving too quickly. They weren't even actually boyfriend and girlfriend; this was only their third date since Homecoming… the first, a trip to the movies. The second, he'd taken her out for karaoke and dancing. It was strange to date a guy who could dance, but definitely a nice change. But despite the lack of "formality" and all, she just couldn't keep her hands off him, or the other way around.

Maybe she was tired of stressing over it. Maybe the thought that she was one of the last virgins in the group – Trini thought nobody knew, but Kim was no fool, duh – played with her a bit and made her feel immature. Certainly Tommy's actions made her reassess if just having sex was more important than saving yourself for somebody you truly loved.

With Alex, she didn't have to think… and that was nice. Now, if she could only stop her mind from wandering.

Her eyes popped open as she realized he'd leaned back and was staring at her.

"What?"

"You in there?" he teased.

"I'm right here," she responded, grinding down slightly and smirking as he let out a soft moan. "Where are you?"

"Enjoying the view, clearly."

"Is there a lot to enjoy?" Again, insecurity raising its ugly head, but she couldn't help it no matter how hard she fought. She wondered if she were permanently broken in some way.

Alex's head tilted. "Tons. Sexy legs…" his hands trailed from the ankles up, caressing bare skin. "…a great ass, perfect body." Then his hands cupped her face. "A beautiful face, and that's just skin-deep. You're also smart, funny, and a damned good gymnast."

Kim smothered a smile. "Wow, poetic much?"

"Give a guy a break, that's about the best you'll get from me tonight." He thrust up lightly to remind her of where they were and what they'd been doing. "I don't have enough blood to keep smart words going to my mouth for much longer."

She snickered before settling herself a little more firmly. "I was wondering… what are we?"

She had to give the man credit; his response was far from what she expected. Most guys would have gone running in a different direction… or at least let out a bit of a whine at discussing things like "relationships" and "feelings" when they could be getting some action in the back of their car. Instead, he shrugged.

"What do you want to be?"

"Well, we agreed we weren't dating," Kim reminded him.

"Right, because of the college thing." He'd been accepted to University of Miami for a journalism degree, of all things. She would be staying in California and was wary of long-distance relationships. "And that's legitimate."

"Don't you feel weird, having me here but not being with me?" she wondered.

"Do you like it here?" She nodded. "Are you comfortable?" She nodded. "Then why would I feel weird?"

Kim shrugged. "Trini says we're moving too quickly. Blah blah blah and all that."

"Do you think we are?"

When Kim could only manage a noncommittal shrug, Alex straightened a bit. "Kim, you know you can tell me to stop at any time. Given everything that's happened, I don't want you to go throwing yourself at me just because I'm interested." After a moment, he added, "That's not to say I don't have condoms in my wallet, in case you do want to…"

Kim laughed at his backpedaling, choosing to shut him up with another hot kiss.

Being wanted was a very, very nice change.


The Garden Spire
Saturday, November: Week 2
7:30 p.m.

Ever the gentleman, Adam pulled Katherine's chair for her as they were seated at their window-side table. A single rose-shaped candle was lit in the centerpiece, adding to the ambiance. The Garden Spire was a very nice, yet affordable sit-down Italian restaurant that the younger crowd seemed to enjoy a great deal. Bang for the buck being what it was, the romantic atmosphere and good food were perfect choice for a first date.

Kim discovered the place three weeks ago when her mom was in town. As Adam looked around the elegant restaurant, he was pleased she gave him the suggestion for his first date with Katherine.

Seated across from his beautiful date for the evening, Adam tried not to stare at her by candlelight. But her lovely blue eyes and that slinky black dress just took his breath away. Pride swelled in his chest that she was there with him, being a guy and all. Something tender and new was growing between them, and tonight was what he hoped was the first step of many to come. "You look gorgeous, Katherine."

She smiled brightly, blushing at his use of her full first name when so many simply used its shortened version. Maybe that would be a special little thing only he did. She liked the sound of that, and the handsome man seated across from her. "Thank you. You look great too," she replied lightly, her gaze sweeping over the packed restaurant on a Saturday night. "This place looks wonderful. It seems you have good taste."

Adam shrugged, appreciating the compliment while silently promising Kim a new pair of shoes for her immense help. "Just doing my best," he replied a bit nervously, trying to calm his rapidly beating heart. This wasn't his first date, but it felt like the most important one. Maybe it was because he'd never felt for any of those other girls what he feels for Katherine. That was both wonderful and terrifying.

A kindly middle-aged woman introduced herself as Lori, their waitress, and asked them what they wanted to start with. Both requested Cokes while looking over the menu. She smiled at the young couple, and walked off to get their order.

"Have I told you how incredible you look tonight?" Adam offered yet again, remembering Kim's insistence that he say that that at least four times during dinner.

"Yes, but a girl never tires of hearing it," Katherine beamed happily. This was her first date in well over a year, and she was nervous, but tried to just relax and enjoy the moment. This was her first real step toward a personal life after Joseph. It was a big deal, even if on the outside she hid it better than most. "My mom helped with my makeup and hair, so I guess she deserves some credit as well."

"I could call her and thank her now if you want," he teased.

She cutely rolled her eyes. "Maybe after dinner."

Her every smile had him on Cloud Nine. So far, so good. "Kim was prepping me for the last four hours on what to say, what to do, and how to act," he chuckled as they settled in, light music playing from a nearby pianist. Suddenly he froze, and then considered, "I'm not supposed to tell you she picked out this outfit." Then he thought about what he just revealed; his tone bashful as his smile. "I probably shouldn't have said that, either."

Katherine couldn't help but laugh. There was a subtle innocence to Adam that was so sweet. Most guys would never, ever tell a girl they liked that they needed help with anything. Though she hung out mostly with Alpha Males, her best friend being one, she didn't really want to date one. She liked Adam just the way he was. "So we both had a little help to get ready for this date. I think it was worth it."

"So do I."

Their waitress returned with cheese bread, Cokes, and then took their dinner orders.

"So how was your day?" Adam asked before taking a drink. He loved the way Katherine's face lit up. "That good?"

"That crazy," she laughed. "Okay, I have to tell you this story because it's so funny. I was getting some training in how the Zord repair bay works. Tommy and Jason were going over the basics while Zack showed me how the Omni-droids can be programmed to do the actual repairs. Afterwards, we played cards and I won a chance to fly the Falcon Zord," she announced proudly while Adam listened intently. "Tommy is so fanatical about his Zord, so he co-piloted while I flew. Well, it seems my piloting skills need some work since I almost flew into the side of one of the mountains out there."

She shook her head as her date's eyes widened. "Tommy yelled at me while Jason and Zack laughed their butts off. I swear I thought Tommy was going to have a heart attack. His panicked face was priceless."

"I'd pay good money to see that," Adam chuckled.

"It was absolutely hilarious. He turned as red as Jason's shirt and was all whiny and stuff. I was just happy we didn't die. I think I'll take some flight lesson from Kim when she has some free time."

"She's a great pilot, and probably a bit less anal than Tommy."

There was a modest edge to Adam's voice as Katherine realized Tommy was still a sore subject for Adam. She knew it was the same the other way around. "Is it weird that I'm such good friends with Tommy when things between you two are still so strained?"

Thinking it over, Adam gave a small nod. "In a way, yeah. But not in a bad way. I guess it's just… I don't know, maybe I thought Tommy wouldn't exactly be supportive of you and I dating. Not that we need it, but he is your best friend."

"He is, but I don't need his permission or support. It would be nice, but I certainly never asked for it," she explained. "But I do have it. In fact, he's very supportive of us. He wants me to be happy, same that I want for him. And I'll tell you the same thing I reminded him of: you two were very good friends for years before he screwed up. That can't all just be gone and washed away. I still think you guys can get back there in time."

Adam looked down before pointing out, "He hates me."

"No, he doesn't. He's just being a stubborn, prideful ass," Kat announced while shaking her head. "And you don't exactly adore him anymore either."

Adam couldn't argue that point. "He hurt Kim. He broke her heart. That's why I don't like him."

"He hurt you, too. And I can tell that's part of this as well." She caught a hint of something somber in his eyes. "I've been pushing him to talk to you."

"Trini's been pushing me," Adam revealed.

"I think you two should just fight it out," Katherine joked. "Punching each other seems to solve arguments between men. Or so I've been told."

"Rocky told you that, right?"

"I will neither confirm nor deny that claim, but consider my nod as you will." She smiled, and then turned serious. "I would love to see you two bury the hatchet and become friends again. I think the world of both of you. And I know Tommy owes you a huge apology, and he misses you even though he won't admit it. He's being a jerk about it, but he's slowly coming around."

Going silent for a moment, Adam considered what she said. "Maybe someday," he temporized.

"Maybe someday," Katherine repeated as their dinner arrived. Pasta and shrimp for both of them, and it smelled as delicious as it looked. She forked a shrimp and ate it, moaning from how good it tasted. She found Adam's careful appraisal as sexy as he apparently found the sound she made. "The shrimp is delicious. Dig in."

Adam forked a shrimp, brought it to his mouth, and then watched it slip from the tip and land in his lap. Katherine's giggle made him smile, a little embarrassed. "Real smooth, huh?"

"My heart's all aflutter," she teased. He popped the shrimp in his mouth and seemed to enjoy it. "Told you they were great."

He wanted to tell her how great her accent was. And how he barely slept a wink last night from thinking about this date. Then he tried to recall some of Kim's talking points to keep the conversation moving. "So tell me something about yourself no one else knows?"

Tilting her head a little, Kat thought it over. "Only if you'll do the same."

"Fair enough."

Katherine dabbed a napkin to her mouth and thought about the question. She tried to think of the people closest to her in life and what they knew about her. There wasn't much she didn't share, but there had to be something… and then it hit her. Silly, but true. "I am the world's worst singer," she revealed, grinning. "I cannot sing in the shower. I won't sing in public, and even in my car I just hum to music. I cannot sing at all. I sound like two zombie-mules having sex."

"Thanks for the great dinner visual," he teased. "But I still think your voice is beautiful."

She blushed just a little. "Thank my Australian upbringing for my accent, but don't expect to hear me sing anytime soon. I don't, ever."

"I'd still like it," Adam said before thinking, but enjoyed her smile. "Guess it's my turn."

"Yep." Boy oh boy, she could feel herself falling for his charm and sweet ways. He seemed taken with her, too. So far, so good.

"I once had a crush on Aisha for one full day." Katherine giggled while chewing a shrimp as he began his tale. "I was eight and we were in grade school…"

As Adam spun his cute tale of his first childhood crush, one that lasted all of twenty-four hours, Katherine found him a masterful storyteller. There was a natural honesty and humility to him that she found so attractive in a man. He was articulate and funny and had a killer smile he didn't really know was killer at all. There wasn't a hint of darkness in him, the same way she always thought of Kim. Perhaps that was why she and Tommy were so taken by them and ultimately not into each other.

Dinner was great, and after ordering desert, Kat felt the need to address something head-on. She wanted to do it in person, despite how much she was enjoying herself and feared that the discussion could turn the date ugly. "Uhm, Adam," she began with a bit of anxiety. "I've been told there are some rumors going around school about me and Tommy. I don't know if you've heard them or not, but I wanted to tell you and explain."

He wasn't sure if this would be brought up tonight, but he couldn't help wanting it out of the way. He appreciated her tackling this head-on. "I've heard some of that stuff, yeah, though I usually try to ignore school gossip. Especially by people like Cari Saunders. All she does is cause drama and lie."

Katherine sighed, and then pushed onward. "What I was told was being spread around was that Tommy and I are more than friends and secretly dating." Leaning just over the table, she gazed into his eyes. "I want you to know that is absolutely not true. Tommy and I aren't dating and have never been on a date. We're not in love with each other. We don't have a crush on each other. But," she began with her heart now beating wildly, "there was one time when I was having a very bad day and he took me out that night to get my mind off things. However, it was strictly platonic. It wasn't about each other at all."

Although he believed her, there was a beat of something… tension in her expression that caught his eye. He wasn't sure what that meant, or if he'd like it if he knew. "I never listen to that crap, so no worries. You guys are close and you spend a lot of time together, so I guess it comes with the territory." He shrugged, thinking of the many times he'd taken Kim out for a fast-food meal or just to a movie.

"Yeah…" Internally she'd debated ever since they made this date over ever telling him about what almost happened with Tommy. In the end, she decided that if they were going to make a serious, honest go at being together, then all the cards should be on the table. "Adam, I need to tell you something. I'm just not sure how."

He wasn't sure he liked the sound of that, but gave her his full attention. "Okay."

Taking a deep breath, Katherine began explaining, "None of the rumors about Tommy and I dating or anything like that are true. But there was a moment… there was an evening where we almost crossed the lines. We, um, almost slept together…" She noted his mute surprise and disappointment. He was a man like any other, and the thought of another man touching his girl- Well, she hoped that was the way he saw it, anyway. "Tommy and I did kiss and we almost slept together, but we didn't. We both stopped and realized that wasn't what our friendship was about, and that we wanted other people. He is still in love with Kimberly and I'm fall- I'm very interested in you."

Adam blinked, unsure what he was feeling as so many emotions swept over him at once. "When did this happen?"

"Last week."

"And you're sure he isn't in love with you?"

"Positive. We talked about it in depth. If we wanted to start something with each other we could have. But that day, we were both lonely and hurting and I think we just wanted something. We were attracted to each other, but it was foolish and immature and thankfully we both realized that before we made a huge mistake. I… I think at the end of the day we were trying to drown our sorrows in each other, but realized that wasn't the right way to deal with it."

"And you're sure you don't want to be with Tommy?" Adam almost choked out the words, hating the slight tremble in his voice. Not to mention the new tension this brought to their date. "Our foundation couldn't be that you chose me because you can't have what you really want. I'm not Tommy, and I don't want to be, but I know a lot of girls like that type of guy."

Honesty was so much harder than keeping a lie. But well worth it in the long run, she hoped. "I was single at the time. If I wanted to fight for him or if I were in love with him I would have said so and fought for him. But I'm not in love with him or falling or interested. I love him as my best friend, and I do think deep down he is a good man. But romantically I am very interested in you. Only you. You're the man I want, not Tommy. Even if he wanted me, I don't want to be with him. But he doesn't; he still loves Kimberly."

He always felt he was a pretty good judge of character, and he sincerely hoped he was right about Katherine. His heart was already lost to her, though he couldn't say it out loud just yet. Gazing into her eyes, he felt she was telling him the truth. He just hated that Tommy had ever kissed her. But she wanted him. "I believe you, Katherine. Thank you for even telling me. I know that you didn't need to."

She gave a soft smile. "Thank you."

"I value honesty great deal. I always have, even before Tommy cheated on Kim. I hope if what we have progresses it'll stay that way. I'm not going to cheat on you, and I don't want to be cheated on. And sex isn't something you have to worry about me pressuring you for. We'd talk about it one day, but…"

"I'm not a virgin," she admitted in a rush of words.

Adam's stomach dropped, and he wasn't sure why. He honestly thought that she was, but then again couldn't say he knew much about her personal life before she arrived in Angel Grove. Suddenly the balance he felt they enjoyed was a bit tipped. "Oh… okay, alright."

Deciding to just get it all out now, Katherine explained. "I slept with my ex-boyfriend Joseph. We were together for nine months. Then I cheated on him by sleeping with someone else. Joseph broke up with me not long before I moved here. I don't know what came over me the night I cheated. It was the worst mistake I ever made and I deeply regret it and apologized to Joseph," she brushed away a stray tear before continuing. "This all happened about a year and a half ago. I've only ever slept with two people."

Adam wanted to crawl in a hole and just stay there rather than admit, "I'm still a virgin." It wasn't a fact he was ashamed of personally, but now it felt like he was so far behind her in the ways of the world. He felt… young, and hated it. "I've dated and done some things," he choked out a bit. "But I haven't had a seriously girlfriend who I've felt that way about. So…"

Her throat closed tightly and she couldn't meet his eyes, wondering if he saw her differently now. Did he think less of her? Was she a slut to him? Had she fallen so far in his eyes? "I'm sorry," she exhaled before lifting her gaze to meet his.

So much flew through his mind, so many thoughts and feelings and things he'd never considered. But at the end of the day, this was the person who he was interested in and wanted to be with. The only Katherine he could judge was the woman who came to Angel Grove well over a year ago. Of that woman, he'd seen nothing unworthy… nothing that made her a bad person. She was human, flawed like everyone else. "Wow, that's… it's a lot to take in."

Though tears threatened her eyes, they did not fall. Katherine just hoped she hadn't lost him before she truly had him. "I just wanted to be honest with you. I don't condone cheating and I'm so ashamed that I did it. But I learned my lesson and won't ever do it again. I'm not that person anymore."

"I believe you, Katherine. More than that, I believe in you." He nodded, "Nothing that you just told me has changed my opinion of you that you're a wonderful, talented, smart, beautiful young woman with a great accent and questionable taste in best friends."

She laughed, shaking her head, but seemed oh so relieved.

"You didn't have to tell me anything about what happened with Tommy or Joseph. You could have kept it all to yourself. But you wanted to be honest and open and I can't tell you how much that means to me. You have so much class and I do love that about you."

Gently biting her lip, she flirted, "So you love me?"

All that Adam could do was smile.