"Athletics Department, this is Kim, how can I help you?" It was a greeting Kimberly Hart could recite in her sleep – and had, in fact, answered her personal phone with a before after a particularly hectic day.
Kim was prepared for any number of requests or reactions from the caller on the other end of the line, but a snorting laugh had not been among them. "Don't use that customer service voice on me, doll."
If she hadn't recognized the voice instantly, Kim would have been more put out about being referred to as "doll," especially at work. She glanced at the caller ID – if she'd looked before, "California Institute of the Arts" would have been a dead giveaway. "Hello, Colin." Billy's husband, who had become a good friend of Kim's in his own right. He sounded too cheerful for anything to be wrong, but he also didn't typically call her at work. "Is it a slow day at CalArts?"
"Not really," he replied, "but I did just get off a conference call with your fine university's theatre department. Did you know Terrence Mann went there?"
"It's been in the newsletter a few times." Kim wasn't particularly busy herself; she could indulge him. "Did you have them transfer you to me because you were bored, or did you just miss me?"
"Bit of both." Colin chuckled. "Actually, there's a legitimate issue regarding the wedding."
"Oh?" Jason's wedding was in a week, and the last thing Kim wanted to hear about were complications. "How big of an issue?"
"Well, it's not an issue for him. But the hotel screwed up our reservations, and instead of two rooms, they gave us a room with two queen beds."
Kimberly frowned. Colin had offered to handle all the local arrangements for her, and so far that had been going swimmingly. Until this. "Can't they just fix it?"
Colin made an irritated noise. "Already tried, but they're booked solid. Apparently, the wedding's not the only thing going down that weekend. But…in the interests of making lemons out of lemonade and all that, there are two beds. Billy and I certainly don't mind a roommate."
That was a decent solution, she had to admit. Kim – still single – hadn't wanted to push herself on them, but if Colin was offering, she would certainly take him up on it. "Okay, that works. If you guys are sure."
"Of course we're sure," Colin insisted. "I mean, you're staying at our place anyway beforehand, so why not? There's no such thing as too much togetherness when it comes to you."
"Flattery will get you everywhere." Kim laughed, glancing up as she saw a student walking into the main office. "I've got to go. I'll call you tonight." And, with that, it was back to her usual routine.
Jacksonville University's athletics department was a good place to work. It kept her occupied, paid her bills, and treated her well. But Kim couldn't help but find herself frustrated sometimes – not with her employer, but herself. She was an administrative assistant…good work, but hardly where she'd pictured herself. The upcoming wedding had her on edge. It would be good to see so many of her friends again, but it would be the first time in decades she'd seen many of them. Billy was the only Kim had been in regular contact with. The others, she only talked to occasionally – but enough to know what they'd been doing with their lives and feel like hers paled in comparison.
Her life as a professional gymnast had ended not long after it began, when she'd injured her shoulder. It had healed, but she hadn't been able to remain competitive. That had put her into an emotional tailspin she'd mostly been able to ignore until Trini had been killed in a car accident. Kim hadn't wanted her first trip back to Angel Grove after the Divatox incident to be a funeral, but life had other plans. Kim fallen into a deep depression after losing Trini, taking whatever job she could manage, until she'd found her way to the university. With a good therapist – and benefits to afford it – she'd been doing well the past several years. But there had been a good chunk of time where advancing her career took a backseat to taking care of herself – and, sometimes, just getting through the day. Kim knew her friends wouldn't judge her, but that didn't stop her from judging herself.
She hadn't seen or been in contact with Tommy since the Divatox disaster, either. He'd been on a dig in South America when Trini died and hadn't been able to make it back in time. While this was certainly a much happier way to reunite, Kim feared it could be awkward. There hadn't been time before to sort out everything that happened between them. Kim didn't know how he felt about it, but she wanted to explain things. She still had regrets about how things had ended between them. Did he even want an explanation after so long? Kim had no idea, but she felt she owed it to him anyway. No matter what, it was obvious he hadn't been idle. Clearly, he was thriving, and she was happy for him. When a new Ranger team had popped up in Reefside – where Tommy just so happened to be teaching – Kim had known who their leader must be.
That was what she kept coming back to, in her mind – her time as a Power Ranger. Kim wouldn't have traded any of it for the world, but when she'd gotten used to saving the world regularly from sophomore year on, her current situation felt like…well, she didn't know what, exactly, but definitely not meeting her potential. Statistically, at least one of them should have turned out perfectly average, but Kim supposed no one ever counted on it being them. Her friends had answered the question of "where do we go from that?" with many things – owning their own studios, teaching in universities, saving lives as paramedics…and here she was, answering calls and managing appointment calendars. It was a good job and certainly nothing shameful – Kim didn't believe there were any shameful jobs, if one was trying to help others – but this premature mid-life crisis she'd fallen into had her micro-analyzing everything.
A reminder popped up on her phone as she headed home that evening – she needed to make sure she bought a dress for the wedding. Shopping didn't thrill her quite as much as it used to in her teenage years, but she rather enjoyed it. And online shopping meant she could enjoy it in her pajamas.
Kim found the perfect dress quickly – it was exactly her style and would arrive in plenty of time – but she paused as she looked over the color choices. The dress was available in a lovely shade of purple, a teal she liked but wasn't wowed by, and…pink. It was a beautiful raspberry shade, but it gave her pause. Kim had very few pink items in her wardrobe these days. She didn't dislike the color, but it was a vivid reminder of so many things. Would wearing pink be the perfect callback? Would it feel too much like she was grasping at her glory days?
Was she completely overanalyzing this? Probably.
Before Kim could decide on a color, her phone started chirping at her with an incoming video message. It was Jason's number, but when Kim picked up, she was greeted with his eight-year-old daughter, Amanda. "Auntie Kim!"
"Hey, munchkin." Kim smiled; it was impossible for her to get lost in her head when talking to Amanda. The girl had some great timing. "Are you getting ready for the big day?"
"Yeah!" Amanda nodded enthusiastically, disappearing from the screen for a second but returning with a teddy bear that was holding a heart. "Lauren got me this!"
Obviously, Jason's fiancée was doing her best to bond with Amanda, and Kim was glad to see it. She knew Jason would have always put his daughter first, but as someone who'd dealt with the rollercoaster ride that gaining a new step-parent could be, she knew good intentions didn't always ensure a smooth ride. "That's great!"
Amanda grinned. "She says I don't have to call her Mom, but it's cool if I want to. I don't know what I'm gonna do yet." She shrugged, spreading her hands.
"You don't have to decide right away," Kim assured her.
"So, did you get a dress yet?" Amanda asked. "We've gotta get a picture of all of us girls together in our dresses!"
Kim laughed. "As a matter of fact, I just found one before you called." This was the perfect opportunity to get a second opinion. "What do you think, should I go with purple or pink?"
Amanda looked thoughtful, chewing on her bottom lip. She appeared to be taking this decision very seriously. "Pink. Definitely pink."
"What makes you say that?"
"Because it's my favorite color!" Amanda giggled. "But if you like purple better, you should wear that, I guess." In the background, Jason called her name, and Amanda turned toward her bedroom door. "I'm talking to Auntie Kim! Come say hi!"
Jason did, and waved cheerfully as he took the phone from Amanda. "I hope it's not too late for you – she's still working on understanding time zones."
Kim glanced at the clock – it was nearly ten PM. She could have sworn it was earlier. "Nah, I was just grabbing a few things for the wedding."
"Like a dress!" Amanda added.
"Like a dress," Kim confirmed. "You ready?"
"Oh, not even a little bit." Jason laughed. "But I will be." He'd never married Amanda's mother; she hadn't wanted to commit. She'd gone her own way, though Jason said she did call on Amanda's birthday and holidays. Kim was glad he'd finally found someone who wholeheartedly loved him and Amanda; he certainly deserved it. "It's gonna happen whether I'm ready or not."
After a few more minutes, the conversation wrapped up, and Kim found herself contemplating the dress again. While Amanda's logic had been simple, it wasn't wrong – go with what felt right. Kim smiled, and selected the pink.