Kim had been a little surprised when Colin volunteered to "whip something up" for dinner; she had never heard him express much of an interest in cooking. After a few moments, however, he emerged from the kitchen and handed her his phone with a food delivery app open. She chuckled, taking it to browse her options. "I see you know my favorite recipe."
Colin grinned, settling down on the couch in the open spot between Kim and Billy, draping an arm over each of them. After a moment, he pulled his arm back from Kim a few inches. "Forgive my forwardness. I forget that those years of texts and FaceTime doesn't necessarily mean we're on that level."
"Oh, no, you're fine." While it was, technically, the first time they'd been in the same physical location, those years of communication had built a strong enough friendship between them that she was comfortable. "Thanks for asking, though." Not everyone would have even thought to, unfortunately.
Colin cheerfully resettled himself, taking the phone and passing it to Billy after Kim placed her order. "If you haven't figured it out yet, our home cooking around here is basically survival food. It'll feed you, but it's nothing to write home about. If you're looking for that kind of bed-and-breakfast service, it's not too late to see if Rocky's got room at his apartment. I hear paramedics work weird hours, too; you might get the place to yourself a lot."
Kim laughed; she'd heard Rocky was a great cook. "Thanks, but I live by myself…I get more than enough of that back in Florida." It occurred to her that, by now, she had spent more of her life living in Florida than she had Angel Grove…but it was rare for her to refer to it as home except on address forms. Angel Grove had always held onto that title – in her heart as well as her head.
Billy smiled. "Well, you know you're always welcome here." He passed the phone back to Colin. "Seriously, it's been too long. I know life sort of got in the way for a while there, but…"
"Yeah, definitely," Kim agreed. They'd both been going through a lot, but now that those darker days were behind them, they had to be sure to keep happy reunions from becoming a rarity again. Even though Billy had been much nearer to most of the others, Kim knew he'd isolated himself while he tried to bury his pain by throwing himself into academia. It was better than other things he could have turned to, at least. While Billy hadn't gone into many of the details of his emotional collapse and subsequent recovery, Kim hadn't spoken much of hers outside of therapy sessions, either. When they'd gotten back in touch again, Billy was dating Colin. It had quickly become apparent to Kim that there was something significant there, and she had been thrilled for them when Billy shyly announced they'd gotten married. "It's too bad you two didn't have a wedding; we could have done this a few years ago."
"I keep saying that." Colin nodded enthusiastically. "All this wedding prep has me wistful. Of course, it's probably my fault for daring him to go big or go home. Dr. Cranston here does nothing in half measures."
Kim smiled affectionately as Billy blushed a bit. "He never has."
"Yeah, I didn't get the impression anyone in your friend group did, really." Colin dropped the phone into his lap. "Okay, the food will be here in a half hour or so. That's more than enough time for you to finally tell me what happened with you and Tommy Oliver."
Kim wasn't sure how to react to that initially, watching instead while Billy shook his head, putting a palm to his face. "Oh, my God, could you be less subtle?"
"What?" Colin shrugged as best he could from his current position. "I've been dying to know for years, and your 'It's not my story to tell' bit is admirable, but it certainly doesn't explain how the power couple of Angel Grove High, my personal OTP, just up and…poof, one day is gone with a letter."
"I told you, I don't actually know," Billy insisted. "And it's not our business anyway."
Colin turned to give Kim a more serious look. "Okay, for real. If you don't want to talk about that, I can respect it. But if you'll indulge my nosiness…"
"Later." After so long, Kim found she was willing to explain, but she felt she owed Tommy that story before anyone else got it. "It'll probably take longer than a half hour, anyway." She frowned as what he said about being personally invested clicked. "Wait, did you go to Angel Grove High at the same time as us?" While she never would have claimed to know everyone in the school, Kim thought a personality like Colin's would have stood out.
Colin nodded. "Yeah, but I was two years younger than you guys and your circles didn't cross paths with the weird drama kids often. Plus, with you all having to dash off to save the world every other day…"
Well, Kim supposed that answered the question of if Colin had any idea about Billy's life as a Ranger. She glanced at Billy for confirmation. "He knows?" She hadn't been in any relationships that had gotten serious enough for her to even have to make that call, so she certainly wasn't judging – and, technically, at this point, she supposed the secrecy was mostly self-imposed out of respect to Zordon's legacy.
Billy chuckled, nodding. "He knows. Given how we met, it was bound to come up eventually."
Kim tried to remember that story, then realized she'd never actually heard it. "Oh, now that sounds like a good one to fill the time."
"Wait, I never told you?" Judging from the way they both lit up at the mention, it had to be quite the tale. "It was right after I came back from Aquitar…literally."
Come to think of it, Billy had never fully explained that to her, either. Kim knew he'd gone to the planet in search of their Eternal Falls, then stayed after meeting someone, but he'd been back on Earth before Trini's accident. "Maybe you should start with that part."
"Oh…yeah, probably." Billy turned to face her more, looking thoughtful. "I told everyone I'd stayed because I fell in love with Cestria…and, honestly, I thought I had. She was gentle and kind, but…something still didn't feel right as the time went by. All those weird feelings with my sexuality I'd struggled with got a lot harder to ignore, the more time I had on my hands. And I had a lot of it. Too much sometimes. At the same time, I think it was exactly what I needed to come to terms with everything. And Cestria was wonderful. I worried about hurting her when I finally worked up the courage to talk to her about it, but she just told me I had to live my truth. I guess it helps that they don't have the same taboos as we do about it on Aquitar. To them, it's just another natural variation. Earth could certainly take a lesson. And once I'd worked through that…I had even more time on my hands, so I built a ship."
"To come home?" Kim asked.
"That wasn't the original intent, actually." Billy laughed. "But, as usual, the universe was apparently just sitting back and waiting for me to get cocky…" He looked at Colin. "You want to take it from here?"
"Oh, but of course." Colin rubbed his hands together excitedly. "Picture it – Angel Grove, 2006. An internationally-ignored young actor is playing Prince Herbert – and other roles – in a regional production of Spamalot…"
Angel Grove's beaches were popular, especially since the number of monster attacks had sharply declined, but there were a few hidden gems that remained largely undisturbed. Those were perfect for photoshoots, and Colin had arrived first to scout out a good spot. Unfortunately, they were all coming straight from rehearsal, in costume, and while a medieval dressing gown might have been fine to gallivant around in on stage, it was proving cumbersome when scaling real terrain. Once he'd successfully climbed to a rocky ledge about ten feet up, however, he couldn't help but appreciate the view while he waited for the rest of the crew to arrive. He'd eyed several potentially good spots, especially if they were able to get to work before the tide rolled in. Had he been less occupied, he might have noticed the small craft that was falling from the sky before he heard it – and by the time he heard, it was crashing into the beach. Fortunately for any occupants, it was close enough to the water's edge that none of the sparks turned into full-blown flames, but Colin stood frozen to his spot for several moments while he stared. As an Angel Grove native, he had come to expect the unexpected to a certain degree, but this ship's design certainly didn't look like it had originated on Earth.
"Maybe it's just a satellite, maybe it's just a satellite," he repeated to himself as he climbed back down to the beach, warily approaching the wreckage. Every ounce of self-preservation he possessed was screaming at him to turn around and run the other way, but his ever-deepening curiosity won out. He grabbed a piece of driftwood – for what, he wasn't sure. Poking it? Protection? The only fighting experience he had was choreographed scenes…
A hatch popped open, and Colin yelped as something – no, someone – tumbled out onto the wet sand. The masculine-looking figure stood, looking dazed as he brushed himself off. He looked very human, which made Colin slightly less nervous – but not much. Scientists, diplomats…they would have all been better for potential first contact with someone from another world. Instead, Earth had a C-list actor armed with a piece of driftwood. It would have to do.
"You're an actor…just…act," Colin hissed to himself as he moved forward, gently setting the driftwood down to appear less of a threat and raising his hands in a gesture of surrender. He stepped forward, bracing himself. "Hello. We come in peace." Cliché, yes, but he wasn't exactly trained for this.
The person from the ship appeared confused by this, cocking his head to the side. "…this is Angel Grove, right?" Clearly, he spoke English, but Colin also supposed any society advanced enough to build a spaceship could also have translation technology.
"Yes." Colin nodded, grateful they were getting somewhere and also that he had not been immediately murdered. "Angel Grove, of Earth."
The man nodded, apparently satisfied, then squinted at Colin again. "What year is it?"
"Um, 2006." Colin frowned, then looked down at his costume. "Oh! I'm…an actor. On our planet, we—"
The man held up a hand to cut Colin off, shaking his head. "I know, I'm from Earth."
"You're – what?" It made sense, all things considered, except it didn't explain the situation at all. "Then how…?"
"It's a very long story." The man stepped forward, offering a handshake. "My name's Billy."
"Colin." As Colin shook Billy's hand, seeing him up close, a memory sparked. "Wait…Billy Cranston? You went to Angel Grove High?"
"Yes!" Billy brightened immediately, seemingly relieved they were making progress in this awkward situation. "I'm…sorry, I don't—"
"We never formally met." Colin shrugged, a little sheepish now that he realized he'd managed to make this situation a lot bigger than it really was. Mostly. The whole spaceship thing had yet to be explained, but if anyone from Angel Grove High would have managed to build one, Colin figured it would have been Billy. "Colin Mercer, drama club weirdo." He glanced down the beach to see the rest of the crew arriving and noticing the ship's wreckage. "Hey, guys! Don't worry! Weird satellite, I guess. Just crashed. We just gotta make sure that doesn't get in the photos." He glanced back at Billy. "It'd sort of ruin the whole 932 AD look."
"Fair enough." Billy seemed a little relieved he wouldn't be put on the spot immediately. "I…thank you. I should probably get back into town now, though. I've got some friends who can help me take care of…that."
"No problem." Colin shrugged. "Here, let me give you my number. Long stories I get, but you can't just crash a spaceship in front of me without explaining eventually, right?"
Kim wiped the tears – of laughter – from her eye with a napkin. The story had taken longer than a half hour, but they'd been enjoying their dinner while Colin and Billy continued. "That's amazing."
Colin grinned. "I'd always said the perfect man wasn't going to just fall out of the sky, but…mine did."
Billy smiled back at him. "Well, I'd thought a secluded beach would be the perfect place to aim for when my propulsion systems failed outside of Earth's orbit, but…"
"Oh, it was the perfect place, trust me," Colin assured him. He took another bite of his lo mein before continuing. "So, anyway, we got together for coffee a few days later, saw each other here and there for a couple years, then a certain someone finally accepted the inevitable and agreed to a real date. And the rest, as they say, is history. Lance and I have been happily living in each other's hip pockets ever since."
"Lance?" Kim asked.
Billy shook his head. "I told you, he loves nicknames."
Colin gestured at Billy. "Lancelot. If I was Herbert, he…it's a Spamalot thing. Remind me to have you fly back next time the show's in town."
Kim looked around the living room. "And thus…Camelot?"
"Exactly!" Colin looked delighted that she'd made the connection. "Anyhow, that's the story of us."
"I'd mostly tried to explain the ship as a science experiment," Billy told Kim, "but after we got married, it seemed like a good time to tell him the whole truth. Especially in case anything weird happened again. So far, there don't seem to be any untoward side effects from my time on Aquitar, but I've learned not to take anything for granted."
"Not sure what you'd need a random drama professor in spandex for if things ever hit the fan, but I'll clear my schedule." Colin laughed. "I could be the Rainbow – no, too on-the-nose. Silver could be cool. Or purple." He looked Kim over. "I look great in pink, if you're interested in changing colors."
Kim shook her head, tossing one of the throw pillows at him playfully. She'd only been in town a few hours, and this was already one of the most therapeutic experiences she'd had in years.