Title: Not Okay
Fandom: Power Rangers Dino Thunder
Prompt: sex pollen
Summary: It wasn't Nikki Valentina who came to Reefside, and Megaldor's attack was a little more serious than a rash. (Ocean Alert AU)
Author's Notes: Someone asked me once how Tommy and Kimberly got back together in the Bright Skies Universe, which eventually evolved into ... this, which was written for Hurt/Comfort Bingo. Obviously this is post-Cataclysm (and whenever I finally write it, its eventual sequel Damsels in Distress) but pre-Bright Skies, set in the Dino Thunder season. It *might* evolve into a small Dino Thunder re-write, because obviously this story didn't end here and there's more to deal with. Also, Trent deserved so much better, and I fully believe Kimberly would have kicked Tommy's ass for 90% of what happened to him. -Coughs at end of semi-rant- So. I may write these things someday, but I'm not making any promises on how long that will take to happen.
The 'book tour' idea came from an article I saw recently about Dominique Moceanu. Also, I have nothing against Jason David Frank's tattoos, but I don't think Tommy would have the same ones, seeing as he wouldn't have the same reasons to get a tattoo in the first place. So while the design of it is somewhat similar, but I went with objects that Tommy would value enough to get a tattoo of instead.
It was all Tommy's fault, she decided.
All she wanted was a break from the road tour she'd been on for the past few weeks to promote her book in a tiny, insignificant town. A few days of rest and relaxation. She'd work on her tan, get her nails done, and then she'd be all set to deal with the reporters again.
But no, she had to end up in the one place in the entire western side of the U.S. that had Power Rangers, and monsters who spat things at you, and stupid ex-boyfriends with a hero complex, and then your body wanted to do all sorts of things that you could normally control, and it was all Tommy's fault for - for existing! He was like the predecessor to all things Evil and Ranger-related, and they all just sort of followed him around. Because wherever Tommy was Bad Things happened, because he had some sort of universal 'Attack Me!' sign on his back.
Which is why it was totally Tommy's fault that she was naked in bed with her ex-boyfriend staring at the door on the other side of the room and trying to find a discreet way to grab her clothing and run like hell.
"You'd still have to get downstairs, past Hayley, out the front door, and somehow find a way back into town." A pause. "For the record, it's a long walk."
She closed her eyes, pursing her lips, and took a slow, deep breath.
"I hate it when you do that," she announced as she rolled over.
"Try not to be so obvious about what you're thinking," he retorted. He was stretched out, watching her with a sort of wry amusement, and darn it why did ex-boyfriends only get hotter after eight years?
But there was a hint of wariness in his eyes too, and that bothered her more than anything else. Because that wasn't Tommy's fault. It was *hers*.
"Nice tattoos," she said without thinking.
She wanted to hit herself when her brain finally caught up to her mouth, but it was too late to take it back now. "No car?" she added, her eyes tracking the way the dragon curling around his right shoulder wound through the tiger, falcon, and star.
He shook his head. "It was more T.J.'s than mine."
She nodded, trying desperately to think of something else to say and keep herself from reaching out to touch it. Her hand came up to absently tuck her hair behind an ear.
His hand caught hers before she could lower it, his eyes meeting hers. "Kimberly."
It was soft, but that one word, spoken so seriously, destroyed any chance she'd had of walking out the door and pretending none of this had ever happened. Because the moment he used that tone, with that look, she couldn't leave him. Not like this.
She sighed softly, shifting to sit up enough to hug her knees. "I'm sorry."
The bed shifted as he sat up next to her. "For what?" The words were carefully controlled now, in that way that meant he didn't want her to know what he was feeling. The way he only did when he'd been deeply hurt by something and didn't want anyone to know.
Her eyes closed again, and darn it, why didn't she go for the door when she'd had the chance?
She sighed instead, letting her head drop against her knees for a moment. "For everything. For ... " Her throat tightened, and she shook her head. "For being here. For getting you hit by the - " She coughed, because the idea of what had happened between them was not going to help her say any of this. Especially when neither of them were wearing any clothes yet. "For losing control. For hurting you." She sighed again, forcing herself to look up at him in hopes she could make him see how sorry she was. "You deserved better Tommy. You deserved more than a letter, and I'm sorry that I didn't have the courage to talk to you face to face."
He was still staring at her with that deliberately blank expression, and she shook her head. "I'm not asking for you to forgive me, and I don't expect you to. But I *am* sorry. Honestly. Even if you can't believe that."
There was a long, painful silence as she went back to staring at her knees.
" ... What happened?" There was an odd tone to his voice, and she looked up to see him staring at her with a hopelessly lost and hurt expression. "What did I do to - "
"Tommy, *no*. No!" She reached for him, catching his hands in hers. She shook her head, heart breaking for him. "Tommy, it wasn't you," she insisted. "You didn't do anything wrong. It was me. *I'm* the one responsible. It was never about you."
He frowned at her. "Obviously I did *something*. You don't just dump a guy for someone else for no reason."
There was a pause, and shoot, he was looking at her and why did he have to know so *well*?
"There was never anyone else." It wasn't a question.
She looked away, blinking back tears as she shook her head once, slowly.
His hands tightened painfully on hers. "Why?" he growled.
She didn't want to tell him. He was going to hate her. Not that he didn't already, but it was so ridiculously stupid, and why had she let it happen and why hadn't she known better and why, why, *why*?
It was all she ever asked herself these days.
But he deserved to know the truth. She owed him that.
"I was in therapy." It wasn't the best place to begin from, and she felt him start slightly, but it was the shortest explanation she could give. "I didn't ... adjust well, to everything. The move to Miami, the training center, the other girls ... I wasn't dealing very well, and Coach sent me to a therapist. I was lonely, and I missed home, and the guys, and Zordon and Alpha. And you," she added softly, because even if he hated her it was true and he should know that. "I missed everyone so much. And I was always talking about all of you to her." She hesitated, swallowing. "Especially you." she confessed.
"I guess ... I never thought about all of it, really. I mean, after ... Rita, Zedd, being Rangers, *everything* ... I never thought about how much all of it meant to me. How much all of *you* meant. At least I didn't, until someone told me it was weird to talk about my first serious boyfriend like - " She cut herself off, flushing.
But Tommy wouldn't give her any ground. "Like what?" he pressed.
She closed her eyes again, biting her lip. "Like we were soul mates," she whispered.
He jerked in surprise.
"I talked about how much I loved you, and going home and - " Geez, her face had to be flaming red by now. "And starting a f-family together," she forced out. "I talked about you like you were the only man in my life and there would never be anyone else."
Tommy had gone very still. She couldn't bring herself to look at him. She was too scared of what he was thinking.
"Dr. Maynard - my therapist - said it wasn't healthy to commit myself to one person at such a young age." The words sounded incredibly loud in the silence of the room, no matter how quietly she'd said them. And hearing them out loud made her hate herself even more for ever believing the woman.
"She told me I needed to experience life, and convinced me to break up with you because I was too young to know what I wanted back then," she finished softly.
The silence lingered again.
She desperately wanted to go, to just grab her things and leave before she broke down in tears, but he was still holding onto her hands. So instead she sat, naked and miserable, and blinked hard to keep herself from crying.
She glanced at him. "Hmm?"
"You spent six months in Florida before you sent the letter." He was staring at her, his expression still painfully blank, and for once she couldn't read through it. Which hurt even more, but she forced herself to focus on what he was saying. "How long where you in therapy?"
She swallowed hard. "Four and a half months," she whispered.
He flinched again. "Four - *geez* Kimberly!"
Her eyes closed, and please, please don't start crying you know he'll get upset and it's not his fault. "And then another two years after that." She could feel his stare, and she sighed quietly. "Dealing with depression," she clarified.
"Depression." Again, not really a question.
She nodded. "I ... like I said, I didn't ... deal well, with the move. And then after I sent the letter, I ... " She swallowed again, blinking hard. I threw myself into gymnastics because it was all I had left until I wound up in the hospital again.
More silence, until eventually Tommy let out a long sigh. " ... What do you want from me, Kim?" He sounded tired, worn.
Her heart clenched. "I don't want anything," she insisted quietly. "I just ... I thought ... you deserved to know why. And that I wish - " She cut herself off, shaking her head. "It doesn't matter now. You know what, I should go - "
His hand caught her arm again as she turned for the side of the bed, holding her in place. "Don't. I'm not finished yet."
She stopped, but she didn't look at him.
"I can't say that everything's okay because you're sorry, because it's not. And I can't pretend it is."
Her eyes closed, and she pressed her free hand against her lips as a few tears finally escaped. "I understand," she whispered.
He sighed again. "This isn't fair, Kim. You can't just ... keep appearing back in my life like nothing ever happened."
"I know that!" she blurted. She shook her head, swallowing again as she tried to steady the shaking in her voice. "Tommy, this isn't ... I didn't want to hurt you again. I didn't even know you were in Reefside, or I never would have stopped here in the first place." Darn it, she was really crying now. "I never wanted to let any of this happen. Last night, or ... or any of it. But there's only so many times I can tell you I'm sorry!"
She tried to yank her arm free.
Instead she found herself pulled back against a muscular chest, warm arms wrapping around her. There was another sigh, and his chin came to rest on her shoulder. "So stop saying it."
She paused. There was something in his voice now that she couldn't place, and she turned just enough to look at him out of the corner of her eye.
"Sorry isn't going to make things between us okay again, Kim. We *both* messed up here. You shouldn't have written that letter, but I shouldn't have tried to ignore you after that. And obviously we can't ignore each other right now, either."
She flushed, glancing at her clothes strewn around the room again. "I can - "
"No." His voice was firm. "I'm *tired*, Kim. I'm tired of avoiding you, and us, and whatever happened between us. I'm tired of people being afraid to bring up your name around me. I'm tired of pretending nothing ever happened, or that we were never more than friends."
She closed her eyes, swallowing down the sudden lump in her throat. "I'm tired, too," she admitted.
There was a brush of warmth against her ear, and she shuddered slightly in spite of herself. "So we're not okay," he repeated, quieter now. "But that doesn't mean I want you to walk out the door again."
Her breath caught. "Then what do you want?"
His arms tightened again, and his face turned to press against her cheek. "I want you to stay."
There was only one thing to say to that.
"Okay," she whispered.