Disclaimer: I don't own Power Rangers, although I will own season box sets as soon as they appear on the market this summer. :D
Relationship: T/K, mentions of B/K
Spoilers: Zeo, Turbo movie, DT
AN:Needless to say, it was not supposed to take me five years to finish this fic. *sighs* I had the bulk of it written, but the bridging scenes gave me fits for...well...years, and I'm learning that I still have a ways to go when it comes to balancing multiple writing projects.
I do have some good news, however. Bad Faith, the first book in my sci-fi series, The Guardians, came out in September! I'm thrilled to pieces about it. :D (Details are on my profile, if anyone's interested.)
Forgive me for making most of you wait so long to find out what happens to Tommy and Kim! Hope you enjoy!
Edit: Thanks to NANLIT for pointing out an inconsistency with Kim's medals. It's been fixed. :)
Epilogue, Part 2
Dinner was everything Tommy had hoped and more. The Italian restaurant they'd found had a cozier feel to it than the Greek place they'd been before and it was much more appropriate for two people trying to reconnect. Especially when both of those people were making a conscious effort to be agreeable and charming.
Actually, Tommy couldn't remember having this much fun in a long time. Conversation came easily to both of them and though they ran into awkward patches here and there, they didn't let it become overwhelming. Just as they had done a year before, they found themselves slipping into familiar patterns. Changes were accepted, if marveled over, and Tommy found himself wondering in the back of his mind why he hadn't done this earlier. The reasons flooded into his mind, beneath Kim's bright chatter, but they didn't seem as dramatic in the cozy atmosphere of the restaurant.
Kim had been a little edgy at first, but she relaxed as the evening progressed. In fact, as Tommy sat across from her, it seemed to him she had taken on a glow…just like he remembered her doing before.
They were both a little older, a little wiser, but her bright, sparkling, caring nature hadn't changed in all these years. And so he smiled at her, taking another sip of his wine, not quite realizing his smile still made her melt.
It was everything he had hoped for, and he never wanted it to end.
Kim couldn't remember having this much fun in a long time either. It was so easy to put memories of their last, ill-fated meal together out of her mind. There were no issues to skirt around, no answers that needed to be given—save perhaps one—and she wasn't prepared to ask it yet.
Being able to laugh and joke with Tommy like this made her wonder just what she had been missing all these years. Friendship, for sure, though she knew, deep down, they had never been 'just friends'. Maybe it would have been different…
She shook head and forked up the last bit of her pasta. Don't go there, Kim. It's over and done with.
Kim shook her head again, cheeks flushing lightly. "I was just thinking," she said airily.
His curiosity piqued, Tommy leaned towards her. "About what?"
She swallowed and waved a hand. "It wasn't anything important."
He continued to stare at her.
"Honestly, it wasn't!" Kim fought the urge to squirm.
She rolled her eyes. "Don't even pull that one on me, Tommy Oliver. I'm wise to you."
The beginnings of a smirk hovering at the corners of his mouth, Tommy shook his head. "Hey, I've had years to come up with new tactics."
Kim laughed. "Uh, huh. Sure you have." Her brown eyes sparkled at him knowingly.
"Well, I guess you're just going to find out, aren't you?"
His voice was low and husky and it sent chills down her spine. Cheeks flushing again, unable to restrain a smile, Kim deliberately leaned back in her seat. "I guess I am."
"Something tells me I'm going to be visiting Los Angeles more often."
The words slipped out before he could stop them. They hung between the two of them, slowly crystallizing into…something…he wasn't sure what. The thought of taking them back didn't even occur to him. He meant it. "I'd like to visit you, Kim. I want to see you again."
"You're not mad at me?"
Tommy shook his head, his dark eyes never leaving hers. "It's over. I've moved on, you've moved on…we've grown up."
Kim nodded slowly, her throat constricting slightly. After a moment of contemplative silence, she raised her nearly empty wineglass. "To new beginnings," she said quietly.
Tommy gently clinked his glass against hers. "To new beginnings."
The ride back to Kim's apartment was filled with quiet laughter and contemplative silences. They were both surprised by how quickly the evening disappeared and found themselves wishing they had a little more time. Every once in a while, they would look over at the same time and meet each other's eyes and just as quickly smile and look away.
All too soon, they pulled into Kim's parking lot. Tommy hopped out and opened the door for her, feeling more than seeing her answering smile. They stood staring at each other for a few seconds, before Tommy shut the car door. The loud clunk echoed through the still night air, breaking the spell that had fallen over them.
"I'll walk you up."
"That'd be great," Kim told him, tucking her arm though his as they set off.
Tommy desperately wanted to say something—anything—but it felt like his entire vocabulary had suddenly leaked out his ears, leaving him with an empty brain. He wanted her to know how much he'd enjoyed the evening—how glad he was she hadn't turned him down, and how great it was to finally be normal again (at least as normal as he was ever likely to be) but he just couldn't find the words.
Little did he know Kim was experiencing the same problem.
When they finally reached her door, Kim pulled out her key and then met his eyes. "I—Thank you so much. I had a wonderful evening, Tommy."
"So did I." He gave her an easy grin and said in what he hoped was a casual voice, "We'll have to do it again."
She smiled, trying to squash the surge of giddiness that threatened to overwhelm her at his words. "Yeah, we will." She unlocked her door and hesitated, her hand on the knob. "Are you driving back tonight or are you going to stay in a motel?"
Tommy shrugged. "I'll probably get a room. I don't really want to drive back tonight."
Kim nodded and they stood in silence for a few awkward moments.
Realizing they could be in the hallway all night, Tommy stepped closer and enveloped her in a hug. "Take care, Kimberly."
"You too." She pushed her door opened and he turned to go. Watching him walk away, a sudden idea hit her, and she bit her lip as she considered it. "Tommy!" she blurted out.
He stopped in his tracks and swiveled to face her, one eye brow raised questioningly.
Kim motioned to her apartment. "Would you like a cup of coffee?"
Tommy smiled. That was a no-brainer. "I'd love some coffee." He followed her inside with a mental shrug. So what if he wasn't going to get to sleep until four a.m.? Who cared?
Kim got the coffee pot going and they sat down in the living room. Tommy watched as she kicked her shoes off and curled up on the couch. It was, he noticed with a sense of déjà vu, the same spot she'd occupied the last time he was here.
She flashed him a smile over her coffee mug. "So, Tommy, you wouldn't tell me in the restaurant, but I figure you can tell me now. What's the real reason you were incommunicado for a couple of months?"
Tommy felt a wry smile tug at the corners of his mouth. Trust Kim to remember...although, the fact that she was curious made him feel strangely elated. "Well," he said deliberately, setting his mug down on the coffee table, "you're probably not going to believe this, but..."
Several hours later, Kim was still shaking her head in astonishment. He'd told her everything—the whole story, start to finish. How he'd gotten involved with Anton, the island being destroyed, being swept back into rangerdom, and how they'd dealt with Mesogog.
Tommy laughed. "You've said that about five times now, Kim," he said teasingly.
She shrugged. "I can't think of any other words to describe it. You, a science teacher, being the leader of a ranger team made up of your students. Talk about a situation with a potential for awkwardness!"
Tommy shook his head. "You have no idea. I'm just happy they've all graduated now." He'd moved out of his chair and over the opposite end of the couch at some point. Kim was facing him, her arms locked round her knees. Her hair was falling out of its ponytail and he watched her stifle a yawn.
"Sorry," she said, "I bought the comfiest couch I could find and unfortunately, sometimes it puts me to sleep."
"It's ok." Tommy glanced at his watch. "It's quarter to two. I probably better let you get some sleep."
Kim laughed. "Who cares about sleep? Tomorrow's Saturday." Her smile faded, turning into a hesitant, slightly nervous frown. "I have a confession to make."
"Oh, really?" he asked with a grin that belied the sudden tightening in his chest.
"Yeah. I watched you race."
Tommy froze, his coffee cup half-way to his lips. "What?" he asked blankly.
"You were really good, Tommy. Really good."
Realization smacked him upside the head and he stared at her in amazement. "You watched my races? How?" A wave of mingled surprise and pleasure coursed through him. His racing career had picked up after they parted ways.
A faint pink tinge graced Kim's cheeks and she shrugged. "I was never able to watch them when they aired, but a friend of mine was kind enough to tape them for me."
Kim bit her lip and shrugged. "Because you were still my friend, even if we weren't together anymore, and…"
He stared at her, inviting her to continue.
"I had to make sure you were okay. I mean, I knew how dangerous racing is—I didn't want to see you get hurt." She laughed in embarrassment. "Not that there was anything I could have done about it."
Tommy looked down at his own coffee and then glanced back up at Kim. Knowing she had still cared enough to watch him race emboldened him. "I have a confession of my own to make." It amazed him how smoothly the words came out.
Kim looked at him, slightly surprised. "Oh, really?"
He nodded. "I watched you win gold at the Pan Globals and silver at the Olympics. I wasn't there," he hastened to add, "I just saw it on TV. You were—" he swallowed, thinking back. "You were amazing. I knew you could do it, Kim." I let you go to follow your dream and you did it.
Kim blushed and waved a hand. "Well, I couldn't let you guys down."
Tommy was silent for a moment. "I wish I'd asked Zordon to let me visit you in Florida. I had a freakin' teleportation system at my fingertips and I never even bothered to ask."
His voice was quiet, almost bitter, and Kim laid her hand on his arm without even thinking. "Nobody could have known things would play out the way they did."
"I never even tried."
Kim just looked at him, waiting for him to open everything up again.
At least, not entirely. Tommy met her gaze. "You have no idea how much I've thought about this over the past year. Seriously. I keep wondering how things would have been if I'd just made an effort…"
"If I hadn't written that letter," Kim said quietly. She held his gaze. "Tommy, we could beat ourselves up for our mistakes for the rest of our lives or we can just decide to get over it and move on. Hopefully, we won't make those mistakes again."
He sighed. "I know. I just—I just never thought this is how things would end up. We were a team. We were friends. We trusted each other with our lives…and now…look at us."
Kim stared at her hands. "I know. We stopped talking."
"I know things have been hard since Trini died."
She let out a sound halfway between a laugh and a sob and set her coffee cup down, locking her arms around her knees. "I still miss her," she confessed. "The last time you and I talked, I nearly called her—before I…remembered."
It was Tommy's turn to reach out and lay his hand on her arm. "I think she'd be happy we're talking again."
Kim gave him a watery smile and hastily wiped her eyes. "I think so too. She'd probably give us grief for taking so long."
Tommy smiled. "Yeah." He glanced down at his nearly empty cup and then at his watch. It really was late. "Well, I'd better get going. Again."
Tommy stared down at Kimberly as they faced each other outside her door. He didn't want to leave—didn't want this to end—but he knew that just wasn't possible. He also knew this was nothing like the last time they had parted. The thought made him smile.
Kim arched an eyebrow at him. "What?"
"I had a great time with you tonight."
It was her turn to smile. "I did too. Thank you for dinner."
Tommy took a deep breath. "Kim, I don't want to go back to where we were."
Her brown eyes were perfectly steady as they met his, but…he thought he saw a flicker of regret flash through them. She stilled, as if preparing herself for whatever he had to say next.
"We've got something," he continued quickly. "We've always had something." He shook his head. "I don't want to bring back old ghosts—I'd just like to—" he swallowed and reached for her hands. "Kim, I want you to be part of my life again. I want us to be friends based on who we are now instead of who we were then."
"I'd like that too." She offered him a smile, but her eyes had lost a little of their sparkle. "Friends."
Something in Tommy's chest loosened. His eyes drifted to her mouth as a sudden and powerful urge to kiss her struck him. He'd come all the way to Los Angeles from Reefside to see her, because he had finally—finally!—figured out that he wanted her to be part of his life and now… Now he knew he wasn't imagining the spark that still seemed to glow between them. We could never be just friends.
Nothing was holding him back but himself. He hadn't tried to talk Zordon into letting him visit her when she went to Florida, and he hadn't even tried to fight for her after receiving that letter. For once in your life, Oliver, he told himself, just go for it.
Before Kim could say anything, Tommy leaned forward and kissed her.
It felt like coming home.
The realization almost brought tears to his eyes. He raised a hand to cup the side of her face, delighting in the way her hands came up to rest on his chest as she leaned into him. When they broke apart, he rested his forehead against hers and smiled. "I had to know," he confessed quietly.
Kim arched an eyebrow and the corners of her mouth turned up in a shy smile. "And?"
Tommy grinned. "You still make me weak in the knees."
"Good," she said with a bright laugh, threading her fingers through his. "Because it's mutual." Her fingers tightened around his. "I'm really glad you came, Tommy."
He reached out his free hand to tuck a stray wisp of hair behind her ear. "Me too." He bent his head to kiss her once more and then stepped away." See you later."
Kim's face lit with a slow, sweet smile that gave him the soaring feeling he remembered so well. "Yes." She laughed again. "Come by after you wake up and I'll make us lunch."
"I'd like that."
They stood smiling at each other for a long moment, and then Kim giggled. "You do realize we could be here all night doing this, don't you? Or morning…or whatever."
"Time just flies when you're around, Kim." Tommy winked at her. "Good night, Beautiful. Sweet dreams." The old nickname came easily to him.
Her smile deepened. "Good night, Handsome."
And there you have it, folks! I hope you enjoyed!