As much as she'd been trying to stop comparing things to her time as a Ranger, every time she traveled, Kim really missed teleporting. Especially when there were layovers involved. O'Hare was a nice enough airport, but it was huge, and getting from one terminal to another to make a tight connection could be a challenge. Fortunately, Kim managed to make it with a good fifteen minutes to spare, and she collapsed down into one of the chairs at her gate, pulling out her phone to see what messages she'd missed during her first flight. Billy had texted her to let her know he was going to be in a meeting at UCLA, but he'd arranged for someone to meet her at the airport in Los Angeles, but beyond that, there wasn't much worth noting. It at least gave her a few minutes to try to relax.
Kim had been through this airport many times, but the last time had been when she was going home for Trini's funeral. Obviously, that wasn't the most pleasant of associations, but none of her other trips through there had been particularly memorable. At least this time, it was a wedding, with plenty of happier memories to be made. And maybe one of these days, she'd take Zack up on his offer to crash at his place in Chicago and let him show her around the city. He owned and ran what he called "a little dance studio on the north side of town," nestled in one of the arts districts. Kim hadn't been surprised when she looked it up online to find it was indeed small, but also highly acclaimed.
Her phone buzzed with a follow-up message from Billy. Confirmed - your ride's going to meet you at the Central Terminal. Text 310-555-2855 when you get off the plane.
Thanks – you're the best, she sent back quickly, glancing up as she heard her flight was about to begin boarding. She would have been fine to get to Billy and Colin's place on her own, but Angel Grove was a good forty-five minutes from the airport in decent traffic. It didn't hurt to have a plan already in place.
As she settled into her seat, Kim glanced out the window at the activity on the tarmac. It always reminded her of the time she'd spent jetting from city to city for this competition or that – or heading off to Paris to visit her mother. She hadn't been back to Paris since she'd lost her mother three years ago; maybe she needed to remedy that. It would be nice to see Pierre again; he'd made every attempt to maintain a relationship with her, and she appreciated that. Kim was finally in a good place after so long where she couldn't claim that. The last big step was going to be this weekend, letting go of her own insecurities and just embracing who and where she was. Easier said than done, Kim knew, but she was beginning to feel optimistic that this wedding – and the reunion it was bringing about – might be exactly what she needed.
Los Angeles, California
Kim approached the Central Terminal pick-up area, glancing around for the black Mercedes she'd been told to expect. There was more than one, but when she saw the lanky figure leaning against the nearest car, she laughed and knew that had to be it. "Skull?!"
A lot about him had changed over the years – clearly – but the lopsided grin was still the same. "Hey. Heard you needed a ride."
Kim couldn't help but laugh. "Billy sent you?"
"Yeah." Skull shrugged, chuckling a bit himself. "Probably should've just told you upfront, but I thought it'd be kind of fun to make it a surprise."
"Well, I'm certainly surprised." But not displeased. Kim had just been thinking on the plane about how she needed to get back to her roots, hadn't she? "You sure you don't mind?"
"Nah, of course not." Skull opened the passenger's door for her, smiling. "Anything for an old friend. And, besides, I owe Billy a favor. He set me up with a pretty great tutor for my kid."
Kim had heard Skull had a son, and as she buckled her seat belt, she noticed the photo on the dashboard of Bulk with a teenage boy. "Is that him?"
"Yeah, Spike." The fatherly pride in Skull's tone couldn't be ignored. "He's a great kid."
As they chatted, catching up, Kim learned that Skull had inherited a limousine from his late uncle and used it to start a chauffer service, leading to a lucrative business. The money he'd always seemed to chase after in his youth hadn't changed him much, though, at least as far as Kim could tell. He was still a little rough around the edges, a little goofy, but awkwardly sweet. And as a once-ubiquitous 90's pop song came on the radio, she could see him mouthing along with the lyrics. Did it strike her as the type of music Kim would have thought he'd taken notice of? Not exactly. But, then, she supposed no one had been able to get through 1995 without hearing it a dozen times. She laughed, humming along herself. Before she knew it, they were both singing along and blasting the song as they cruised down the interstate as fast as evening traffic would allow.
Kim hadn't exactly been paying attention to the scenery last time she'd driven into Angel Grove, so in the twilight, she found herself taking in the changes. It was still mostly the same – many of the old fixtures were there, at least along the route they took. But like any city, it had changed in the decades she'd been away. As they turned onto Ocean View Drive – which had no actual view of the ocean, something she'd once laughed about as a child – Kim watched a couple of children laughing as they chased each other down the sidewalks. It reminded her of when she and her friends had come to this neighborhood to play because it was one of the ritzier ones and therefore had the best playground equipment. And now Billy lived here. She was hardly shocked – in fact, she'd have been more surprised if he hadn't ended up doing well, teaching quantum physics to graduate students. But it was nice, to see him settled – and, more importantly, happy. He'd struggled greatly in the aftermath of Trini's death as well, and while it had brought them closer, Kim was delighted to embrace brighter times.
Kim thanked Skull again for the ride, exchanging numbers and swearing they'd stay in touch, before approaching the front door. It opened before she had a chance to knock, and in the excitement of the moment, Kim found herself throwing her arms around Billy's neck as she hugged him. He hardly seemed to mind, laughing and enthusiastically returning the hug.
Colin moved in for a hug as well as Kim released Billy. "Welcome to Camelot!"
"Camelot?" Kim asked. She understood the literary reference, but knowing Colin, that might not have been exactly what he meant.
"That's what we call this place," Colin explained.
"That's what you call it," Billy pointed out, shaking his head affectionately. "Don't mind him. He gives everything nicknames." He picked up Kim's suitcase. "Come on, I'll show you the guest room."
Kim nodded, following him, though as she walked down the hall, one framed photo caught her eye. It was her, Billy, Zack, Jason, and Trini, posing together on Halloween. That had been just a few months before they'd met Zordon and everything changed. "Wow. I haven't seen this picture in forever."
Billy paused beside her, smiling as he followed her gaze. "I found it in my parents' attic a few years back. I'll send you a copy."
"That'd be nice." Looking back, they all looked ridiculously young – considering that, within a year, they'd be piloting giant robots before some of them even had their driver's licenses. "Man, we had no idea what was coming, did we?" She tried to keep the question intentionally vague, not sure exactly how much Colin knew about Billy's past.
Billy chuckled, squeezing her arm lightly. "No, we sure didn't."