Rating: M for language
Disclaimer: None of the Power Rangers or related characters belong to me. I make no profit off this little endeavor besides my own enjoyment... and hopefully, yours.
Summary: Kimberly endures a terrible day and goes a little crazypants. Set in the Canon timeline, pre-DT. Tommy/Kimberly friendship with hints of something more.
Author's Note: My first fic since my hiatus. It was written much faster than I'm used to, so apparently, my muse has been starved for attention. A light, fun fluff piece which I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Special Author's Note: This story is dedicated to the five people who inspired and motivated me to write so many years ago. I owe them all my deepest apologies for my absence and the unintended hurt it caused. To: Angel17712, the original owner and wielder of my writing cattle prod; Shawn30, a valuable friend, confidant, and example of writing we should all aspire to be like; and to friends whom I miss dearly: Kim/Pink-Green-White-4ever, Syuuri, and Enigmaforum.
Definition: A descriptive word that means weird or insane - not insane in the sense that it means cool, as in "crazy cool" or "that's totally insane!" Crazypants means insane, as in a mental illness.
Never to be used as two words; separating the words crazy and pants in a sentence is punishable by law. Unless, of course, it is being used to describe some crazy looking pants.
~ Urban Dictionary
A grey sky hung over the panoramic cityscape like a death shroud, casting a tomblike pallor over what was once known to be one of the busiest, bustling cities in the world. Thunder threatened ominously in the distance, and even the bravest of souls still lingering outside hunched further into their raincoats, scurrying to escape the oncoming onslaught. Gusting winds blew, whistling between the tall buildings, the sound of souls crying piteously as they wandered forever amidst eternal darkness. Blackness seemed to sweep over Manhattan as if nature itself was seeking revenge for years of torment and torture. This was the end of humanity. Perhaps the end of existence itself.
… Okay, so maybe she was being a tad dramatic.
Kimberly Hart felt the first splashes of what was being fondly described as the Worst Storm of the Season. The disturbingly cold drops began to rapidly patter onto the sidewalk, unerringly finding the most uncomfortable path around her chestnut ponytail and down the back of her shivering neck. She stared helplessly at the twisted piece of metal in her hand, cursing at any god or power that would listen. Of course, this would be the day that her umbrella had decided to snap in half the moment she hopefully depressed that tiny, magical button. She cursed the designer of the so-called Unbreakable Umbrella, and for good measure, cursed the marketing manager, the producer, the wholesale provider, and the gorgeous, grey-eyed hunk of a salesman that sold her the umbrella.
Her lips quirking, she decided the hunk could live after all – but only because his dimples had the potential to contribute to world peace. She tossed the newly designated piece of junk in a nearby trash can, where it joined several other umbrellas that had not endured the gathering winds.
She lifted a wrist to glance at her watch, groaned, then raised her eyes to the distant display in nearby Times Square. Her umbrella had not been the only victim of today's misfortune; her watch had somehow managed to get caught in the feeding mechanism of the photocopier, not only snapping the delicate golden clasp, but also leaving her with a nasty purpling bruise. She still wasn't sure quite how that had happened, as it seemed physically impossible, but to be honest, she hadn't trusted that photocopier since the day it was installed.
In retrospect, she should have called in sick this morning, but when she heard that half her staff had already done the same, she honestly had very few choices. She hadn't even gotten out of bed before she had been greeted with twelve voicemails peppered with various claims of the bird flu, pneumonia, a broken leg, and - she was actually looking forward to addressing this one tomorrow - the Black Plague. With a multimillion dollar proposal due by 5 pm, she had neither the time nor energy to convince her staff to grow up and drag their sorry asses into the office. A coffee machine explosion, two power outages, a vending machine tipping - she would swear before God himself that she had nothing to do with that, despite the Twix bars secretly littering her purse - and one photocopy disaster later, and the proposal had been safely delivered to a courier who looked about half her age, and even less than half her IQ.
But at least the day was over. Tomorrow, she would call the vending machine company and an electrician; tomorrow, she would consider firing the useless half of her staff; and tomorrow, she would find a company willing to scrape the coffee grinds off the ceiling. But tonight, it was time to go home.
She pulled the coral chenille sweater more tightly around her, once again amazed by how something so expensive was so utterly useless against the elements. The rain was quickly turning into a torrent and, even walking, she couldn't see more than half a block ahead. Granted, she was the one who had somehow set her iPhone to report the weather in Angel Grove instead of New York, so had been utterly and completely unprepared for this storm. Scouring the streets for an unoccupied cab, a near impossibility in Manhattan, she sent up another mental stream of curses, this time directed towards her favorite target – Tommy Oliver.
Her once-boyfriend, ex-team leader, and now-closest friend had kept her up half the night before remembering that time zones still existed in the universe. A part of her had wanted to hang up over a dozen times during the conversation, but a much louder, more annoying part had reminded her what existence had been like without him in her life. Not for a moment did she ever think Tommy would be upset if she wanted to cut a call short, but there was something about his presence – even if only telephonic – that eased her mind and thoughts.
They had spent years cautiously avoiding each other, the result of a childhood weakness too many years ago, before finally reconnecting at - of all places - a hookah bar in Bayonne, New Jersey. To this day, she still wasn't quite sure what Tommy had been doing in New Jersey - or, for that matter, what she had been doing in a hookah bar - but they hadn't lost contact since. Granted, Tommy was one of those people who would forget to call for months at a time, lost in some discovery or another with Anton, but each time they reconnected, it was like no time had passed at all.
Tommy Oliver was the one person she could call at three in the morning to keep her sane on her paranoid walk home through the city streets. He was the one person who would always truthfully and bluntly point out her insane moments, no matter how rational she felt she was being. And no matter how forgetful he was about everything else in the known universe – including, once, his own pants! - he never forgot anything important to her.
She suddenly shrieked, a million tiny frozen knives piercing her all over her body. The passing cabbie flicked his taillights a few times in what she imagined was a mocking laugh, then turned the corner. Outraged, furious, and utterly soaked, she stifled a scream as she moved further to the far side of the sidewalk to avoid being splashed a second time.
Not that it would matter. That last splash had drenched the last few remaining dry spots on her body.
Tears of frustration stinging her chocolate brown eyes, Kimberly leaned against the locked door to her apartment building and noiselessly banged the back of her head against the pane of glass. Through that glass shone warmth and light and home, but it could have been miles away.
By the time she had given up getting a cab – a foolhardy idea in rainy Manhattan anyhow – and made it to a subway station, they were just closing the station down. According to an unbelievably verbose technician, the New York subway system has a terrible system of pump rooms; if it rains anywhere near 2 inches per hour, the tunnels flood and the third rail is shut down. With no cabs and no public transport, she had spent nearly two hours navigating the flooded streets of Manhattan.
She didn't live two hours walk away from work. No. Of course, the universe conspired against her - and she was certain now that it was a universal conspiracy - to break her heel in the middle of crossing West 37th Street, leaving her to limp the remaining 12½ blocks home in the pouring rain.
And now? On top of everything else?
She had scoured her purse. Her pockets. Her purse again. She had even turned it upside-down and dumped the entire contents on the steps - which, of course, had cracked the screen of her iPhone. Perfectly timed, as she was fairly certain her warranty had expired last week. And yet?
No. Freaking. Keys.
Once upon a time, she had considered leaving a spare key with one of her neighbors, but with her choices limited to Crazy Cat Lady, Mop Headed Junkie, and Senile Old Man, she had been fairly certain she was better off on her own. And even if someone did let her into the building, with the landlord on vacation, there was no hope of her entering her apartment until a locksmith found the time to swim through the deluge and break her in.
Why had she moved to New York anyway? She should have stayed safely in Florida, where she had friends and neighbors, umbrellas never snapped just by looking at them, and household appliances never exploded. Or better yet, she should have stayed in Angel Grove. If she had never moved to Florida, she would probably be married with two kids by now. Granted, she loved her life and wasn't certain she wanted to be married right now anyhow, but the thought of having someone to come home to… someone to wonder where she was and, most importantly, let her in if she forgot her keys…
She was lonely. Shivering as the cool drops spattered against her soaked skin, it occurred to her that she hadn't even realized how much until tonight. She helplessly thumbed the apartment buzzers in hopes that someone was home and would recognize her, but her sense of isolation only grew. Everyone she knew lived somewhere else. Everyone she cared about were hundreds – or thousands – of miles away.
She was alone.
Not even the sound of the door swinging open as a teenage boy scurried his way to the convenience store down the street cheered her. She grabbed the door before it closed and managed to slip inside, bypassing the mail slots and leaving puddles of cold rainwater down the hallway. Teeth chattering, she thumbed the elevator button, absolutely certain that, after today, it would crash if she stepped inside, but not altogether dreading the prospect.
The elevator doors slid open after all, revealing the deserted interior. She limped inside, thumbing the number six and leaning back, waiting to plummet to her death. Surprisingly, the elevator actually rose, the pathetically cheery little numbers lighting up as she passed floors 1, 2, 3, 4… In her heart flickered a tiny flame of hope that perhaps she might actually make it home without further incident. With her iPhone now defunct, she could borrow the Cat Lady's phone and then camp out in front of her door until the locksmith arrived. Breathing a sigh of relief when she saw the beautiful number six light up, she took a step towards the door just as a horrible grinding sound filled the cab.
And the room lurched down several feet.
Unable to suppress a small shriek, Kimberly fell to her knees at the sudden halt, then almost burst into tears. This just wasn't fair anymore. How much could one girl take? What had she done to deserve this? Sure, she had turned evil once and tried to kill a team of Power Rangers. But at this point, who hadn't?
The doors quietly slid open in response to her desperate plea, revealing the sixth floor – at about head height. At least, it was head height for Kimberly. Maybe chin height for a normal person.
She sat for a moment, debating the benefits and detriments to leaving the elevator. If she stayed, she had the hope of plummeting to a quick and relatively peaceful death… And then again, with her luck, she'd survive as a barely functioning, drooling, horrific monster.
Within moments, she had tossed her purse through the opening and grasped the edge of the floor. Lifting herself off the ground was easy enough and, for once, she was thankful for her regular exercise routine. There had been too many sacrificed hours of sleep to not reap the benefits now. It wasn't until she was halfway through the opening that the elevator creaked.
Unfortunately, Kimberly had lately become a horror movie aficionado. Too many images of stupid characters getting stuck between two large objects and being crushed - or better, split in half - filled her exhausted mind. She had always laughed at them, safe and comfortable on her couch. What kind of idiot crawled between two horribly huge things like that, anyhow?
Eyes bulging, Kimberly pulled herself through the opening faster than she ever thought was imaginable. She nearly hit the opposite wall as she scurried forward, heedless of anything else in the hall. Still trembling, she leaned against the opposite wall and stared at the elevator.
As if mocking her, though, the elevator stayed perfectly stationary. The lights didn't even flicker ominously. Silly Kim, it seemed to say. You are simply crazypants.
It wasn't until she stood up that she realized she only had one shoe.
The broken one.
"Oh, come on!" she moaned to the universe. She hadn't even felt it slip off her foot as she clamored out of the elevator. She reached down, picked up her purse, and began limping through the quiet hallway towards… well, her apartment door, at least.
She was about ten feet down the hall when the warm smell of home assaulted her. Someone had been cooking, preparing for their loved one to return. There was someone who cared about them, someone to cook for them. Now that she was almost home, the cold and exhaustion was truly settling in. She felt hot tears sting the corners of her eyes as she was simply overwhelmed by the unfairness of it all.
She didn't have anyone. She lived alone in a building full of strangers. No one would notice if she failed to come home. No one would notice if she failed to call. No one would care if she didn't come to work tomorrow. She would lie there for days, curled up in front of her apartment door, her toes gnawed off by her neighbor's feral cats…
Okay, she was being overdramatic, but if any day called for overdramatic, this was the one. No one should have to live through a day like she had, actually survive, then come home to a dark, bare, desolate apartment. She sniffed loudly, rubbing her frozen nose as she turned the corner to face her locked door. All she wanted was a warm bed, a thick hot chocolate, and someone to come home to, but no. Not Kim. She was all alone in a world that…
A dim light filtered underneath her apartment door.
At that precise moment, something snapped inside Kimberly Hart. She dropped her bedraggled, dripping bag, removed her one remaining shoe, and began pounding it madly against the door. "Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck! Get the fuck out of my apartment, you fucker!" The remaining stump of the heel snapped, wildly flipping down the hallway. "You think you are breaking into my apartment today? You've messed with the wrong fucking-"
The door hastily swung open, and she lunged forward, wielding the shoe like a mace. She was screaming obscenities, words she hadn't even known she could pronounce, and began struggling wildly with the man inside her apartment. She felt her wrists gripped in what seemed like a vice like hold, and she twisted, turning and shoving her right elbow into something quite soft and yielding. A vicious pleasure raced through her, and, completely unaware that she was madly smiling, she brought down her stockinged foot onto his bare one. It felt damn good to finally have someone to blame for the catastrophe she had faced today, finally have someone on which she could just unleash her fury for the universe-load of crap that had been dumped upon her.
"Kim! Kimberly! Damn it, Kim!"
The words slowly began to filter through the red haze that had filled her vision and she paused, gasping for breath. Her nose was currently mashed up against a pink flowered apron – her pink flowered apron – and she took a small step back, tilting her head up to meet the utterly bewildered gaze of the one and only Tommy Oliver.
"What in the world did I do to piss you off already?" he gasped incredulously.
Kimberly could only blink, frozen as still as a winter deer caught before a snow plow. The image of Tommy in her New York apartment just seemed so… disjointed. Like one of those things definitely didn't belong. She almost began humming the inane Sesame Street song, latching on to the most complex thing her addled brain could handle.
… not like the other… one of these things…
Finally finding her voice, she asked, "What are you doing here?"
Tommy stood very still, seemingly afraid to move and instigate another attack. "Uh, I asked your receptionist to grab your keys for me. She said you were in the middle of a coffee emergency, whatever that means, and said she'd tell you… that… I…" His voice trailed off, finally taking in her drenched clothing and shoeless feet. "She didn't, huh?"
"I'm so firing everyone tomorrow," she spat venomously.
He looked her up and down, seeming to finally take in the matted hair plastered to her face, her drenched clothing, the mud caking her from the knee down, and her bare feet. "Bad day?" he asked tentatively. She only stared, fire burning in her eyes that rivaled the depths of Maligore's pit.
"Um, would you be willing to at lease put down the shoe? I never realized that footwear could be classified as an implement of mass destruction, but I'm fairly certain you could fend off the next alien attack with it."
Kimberly started, only then noticing that her right arm was still raised, stopped short of bashing him in the head. "Oh. Uh. Right." She let the piece of broken footwear clatter to the floor before smiling a little sheepishly. "Welcome to New York."
Forty minutes, a scalding hot shower, and a change of clothes later, Kimberly was feeling significantly more human. And calm. And, most importantly, sane. She was fairly certain the elevator had been right and she had, in fact, been crazypants. She frowned for a moment at the brush in her hand, realizing that she was again attributing thoughts to an elevator, then shrugged and put it down. She'd just blame it on perfectly reasonable (under the circumstances) residual crazypants.
Padding barefoot out of the bathroom, she noted that Tommy had been busy in her absence. He had mopped up the trail of dripping rain water that had pooled on the hardwood floor and, as she passed her bedroom on the right, she saw that he had even thrown her wet clothing in the hamper. And best of all, she had realized that the delicious smell wafting down the hallways had actually been coming from her apartment.
As crazy as the boy drove her, he could be sweet when he wanted to be. Sometimes, he reminded her why she had fallen in love with him in the first place. His strong, steady presence always managed to calm her - even if she had just stopped beating him senseless. His ability to read her very thoughts sometimes scared and comforted her, usually at the same time. His ability to retain his boyish innocence through everything he had been through blew her mind sometimes.
And sometimes, she just wanted to throttle him until he turned blue.
She had never been certain if it was intrinsic or if the touch of the Power had flipped a switch inside him, but Kimberly swore that Tommy had become an adrenaline junkie after his time with Zordon. Granted, he didn't jump out of planes (at least, not since high school) or swim with sharks (she was fairly certain battling the Slippery Shark didn't count), but he had always managed to find remarkably dangerous hobbies. His martial arts hadn't seemed so dangerous in high school, but then Rocky had been devastated by a fall. When she had learned of his stock car racing, she had wanted to - and had - kicked him repeatedly until he swore that he wasn't planning on seriously taking it up again. Then there was the Red Mission. Stupid men with stupid ideas doing stupid things… after which, both he and Jason had endured regular beatings - just to make sure they didn't forget the power of a Pink Ranger's ire.
So when he told her that he was now prancing around the world with an admittedly eccentric billionaire in order to write his thesis, Kimberly had actually been relieved. She had never imagined him settling down this early in his life to get an advanced degree, but a PhD? Honestly, she was damned proud of him. Granted, she was no slouch herself, having been named the youngest employee at Grey Advertising to be put in charge of her own team, but she had never pictured Tommy being the first to get a PhD. Billy? At least twelve. But Tommy? It made her beam with delight. Besides, how much trouble could he get into digging up fossils? By definition, they were dead, for goodness sake.
Smiling, she flopped onto the couch next to him, graciously restraining herself from smacking him for turning on ESPN. His short-lived, extremely awkward football career in high school had completely turned him off the game, but he had become an avid baseball fan during his time at MIT. Now, he couldn't help but groan every time the Yankees succeeded at even the most minor task - including successfully walking to home plate to bat. And he had beamed with pride the day his friends had named him named an honorary Bostonian and gave him a bumper sticker reading, "I root for two teams: the Red Sox and anyone playing the Yankees." He didn't own a car at the time, but apparently, that wasn't the point.
He finally tore his attention away from the screen after the last out of the inning and looked her over. His gaze lingered a little longer than necessary, eyeing her sweatshirt with a mix of irritation, surprise, and… something she couldn't quite place but sent her heart skipping. "Comfortable?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
She smiled with saccharine sweetness, tucking her hands deeper into the oversized MIT sweatshirt she had secretly "released from the captivity" of his dresser during her last visit to California. She had rationalized the temporary acquisition of his property by convincing herself she was cold… ummm… in… California. She shifted, folding her legs underneath her and turning to face him. "Very. Thank you. Now are you going to explain what you are doing here?"
Tommy thumbed down the volume and carelessly tossed the remote on the couch between them. "I had to fly into Boston to defend my thesis, so I 'accidentally' booked the trip through JFK instead. Anton was paying, and despite there being T lines everywhere I needed to go, he insisted on paying for a rental." He shrugged and continued, his cavalier attitude fading into sadness. "So apparently, I decided to surprise you and steal your keys to make you utterly miserable. I'm really sorry about that."
Kimberly stared at him, willing to let him squirm for a moment. But to be honest, stealing her keys was just the icing to top the day. There was very little he could have done to make it worse. And there was something about those pathetic brown eyes that just made all the residual frustration crumble. Besides, now that she was warm and comfortable, it was a lot easier to look back at her day without horror. And tears. And murder.
"Feed me and we'll call it even. I smell food, dammit!"
Over a simple, yet surprisingly delicious dinner of pasta, sautéed chicken, and asparagus, Kimberly regaled him with the details of her calamitous day. The story had twice sent him into a choking fit before he decided that it would be safer for him to chew between events. But by the end, the skeptical look he was giving her was far more annoying than infuriating. Finally, she sighed in exasperation. "Look, you believe me and I'll believe you cooked without burning down the building." He even had the gall to look offended for two whole seconds before bursting into laughter.
"Fair enough. I'll even recover your lost shoe for you," he offered, standing and carrying the dirty plates to the kitchen.
Kimberly's eyes widened in certainty that, somehow, Tommy's own strange luck would combine with hers to create some sort of vortex of unimaginable horror. "Can't we just leave it for the Prada fairy to take back to Shoe Land?" she asked hopefully. Tommy's dumbfounded look as he peered around the corner of the kitchen was enough of an answer. "Right," she agreed. "Crazypants. Obviously still a problem."
As the clatter of pans filled the kitchen, Kimberly leaned back into the plush cushions, enjoying the comfort of the unaccustomed company. She had been quite focused on her career since she had moved to New York, but today had been a reminder of just how much she needed companionship as well. And if she was honest with herself, it had really started when she had focused on the Pan Globals above everything else. Tommy's presence was very welcome, but was also a reminder of what she had given up to get this far.
Refusing to allow her morose thoughts to spoil the mood, Kimberly mentally switched gears. Tomorrow was Friday, and with the weekend came relief and rest. A thought occurring to her, she called out to the kitchen. "When is your thesis defense anyhow? Monday?"
Instead of answering, Tommy stepped out of the kitchen balancing a large mug between his hands… and instantaneously elevated himself to the position of most wonderful man in the universe. Hot chocolate. With mini-marshmallows. "Marry me," she breathed, wrapping her fingers around the mug and holding it tightly against her chest. Blood rushed to her cheeks as she realized her slip, but not in an altogether unpleasant way.
In his lovable, completely oblivious fashion, he seemed not to notice her moment of stunned hesitation and instead joined her on the couch, careful not to jostle her mug. But there was a moment before he companionably dropped his arm around her shoulders that she could have sworn she saw his eyes twinkle in amusement. Frowning, but unable to believe that Tommy had changed so much as to suddenly become observant, she nestled in more comfortably against him and sipped with a sigh of content.
"After hearing about today, I'm not sure I'd ever want to see you plan a wedding, Kim. I think the entire area would somehow end up as a radioactive wasteland." He considered for a moment and, as he turned up the volume, he grinned maliciously. "Actually, how does Yankee Stadium sound?"
Kimberly elbowed him in the side, careful to protect her chocolate prize. "Dolt," she teased, but nothing could wipe the smile off her face.
Sometimes, all it took was someone special to make the crazypants go away.