Disclaimer: I don't own Power Rangers...if I did, we'd have season box sets already.

Relationships: T/Kim, J/Kat, T/Hayley

Spoilers: DT

AN: Well, here we go. Chapter 3. Thank y'all very, very much for all the reviews-they're very encouraging and motivated me to get this out faster.

As an aside, Evanescence's "Hello" was the major musical inspiration for this chapter.


Special thanks go to Princess Kimberly for beta-reading this for me.

Fighting Spirit AU

Chapter 3

Throughout the course of his battles with his former selves, Tommy had been alone. These had been hidden aspects of his personality, inner demons and fears that he'd had to face. But now, as the Red Zeo Ranger, the White Ranger, and the Green Ranger held out the pieces of his Dino gem, it was if a dam had broken somewhere. In that instant, he heard the voices of his friends—voices telling him that he was not alone, that he had been a leader they'd been proud to serve under. He heard the voices of every ranger he had ever served with, and one voice that his mind instinctively picked out of the others…Kimberly.

As he reached for the broken pieces of his gem, he heard Trini's voice last of all, quietly echoing in his mind. It's not your time yet to go, Tommy. There are still challenges ahead for you to face. Your team needs you now.

His fingers closed around the gem and immediately it melded itself back together. His mind returned from whatever plane of existence it had been on, and his eyes opened. He found himself looking up into Hayley's concerned face and smiled a little as he revealed his complete gem to her.

The dark-haired teacher was suddenly aware that they were not alone in this…hospital room? Obviously relieved friends, some of whom he hadn't seen in years were coming at him from every angle and chorus of "Finally!"s and "Thank God,"s went up. There was Jason, a wide grin on his face, Kat and Tanya both with tears in their eyes, Adam and Rocky both grinning from ear to ear, and….his eyes widened fractionally as time suddenly stopped….the last person he would have expected to see…..Kimberly.

There she was, squeezed in between Jason and Tanya, looking both uncomfortable and relieved. He met her eyes and saw a mixture of regret, happiness, and uncertainty in her brown orbs before he tore his gaze away, feeling both overwhelmed and strangely at a disadvantage. Old pain flared up but he shoved it back. She had actually come all the way from France to be here at his bedside. The least he could do was be grateful.

He didn't have time to think about it any more because his friends were laughing, chattering, and asking him a million questions. The next time he looked for her, surreptitiously glancing around half-hoping to met her gaze again or hear her voice, Kim was gone. Tommy managed to hold back his sigh of disappointment, but he couldn't hide the glum look that flashed across his face. How could she still have this effect on him after all these years?

Kat caught his look and glanced around herself to discover that a certain brunette was conspicuously absent. "Jase," she said quietly, leaning over to her husband, "Where did Kim go?"

Jason looked down at his wife in confusion, the smile disappearing from his face. He too looked around. "Maybe she just stepped out for a moment."

"I hope so." The blonde former ranger did not have a good feeling about Kim's disappearance.

"Me too," Jason murmured heavily. Kim, what are you doing?

Dr. Walsh had been pleasantly surprised when he found Tommy awake and sitting up the next time he came in to check on him. Hayley apologized for not sending someone to spread the word and the doctor nodded in understanding.

They'd all thought Tommy could be released immediately, but a half-hour later, the black ranger was still arguing with the doctor over whether or not he needed to stay for more tests. Tommy insisted that he was fine, and they'd had four days to run whatever tests they wanted. He'd mentally shuddered to think about that, but…. He knew the rangers needed him. Hayley had filled him in on what had happened while he was out, and he knew he was the only one who could help them.

"We need to keep you under observation for at least 24 hours," Dr. Walsh argued. "The preliminary CAT scans didn't show any cancerous formations but—"

Tommy cut him off. "With all due respect, Dr. Walsh, I'd like to go home now. Frankly, I can't afford any more hospital bills—I'm a high school science teacher. We don't get paid much. And I highly doubt that my insurance will cover all of this." He motioned to the room and its complicated machinery. "Anyway, I don't think I've got cancer or anything like that."

Jason, who up to this point had merely been listening quietly, spoke up. "What if we agreed to watch him for a few days, Dr. Walsh, and make sure he doesn't do anything that might cause a relapse? We're friends of his—came to visit. He'll have a hard time getting rid of us."

The doctor considered this for a moment before reluctantly nodding. "Very well. I'll have the paperwork sent in an hour or so."

"Doc," Tommy said, trying to reign in his temper and irritation. "I have something very important that I need to take care of. I would greatly appreciate it if you could get me out of here as quickly as possible."

Dr. Walsh raised an eyebrow. "Really? Well, you're hardly off to save the world."

"It's very, very important," he pressed. If only he knew.

The doctor shrugged. "I'll have a nurse bring it in."

It took 15 minutes for the paperwork to arrive, and another 20 for him to fill it all out correctly. The others would have offered to help, but he declined, chafing at the delay. Finally, he emerged from the bathroom fully dressed—and a free man.

They all walked out of the hospital together, as quickly as they could without attracting attention. Jason had inquired at the desk earlier and learned that Kim had left the building. Frowning, he decided she could stay wherever she was for the moment. When she decided she wanted to rejoin the human race…a.k.a…them...he figured she'd call. In the meantime, Tommy needed to get back to action.

"Bro," he said jokingly as they peeled out of the parking lot. "You really need to get Hayley to create a teleportation system."

Tommy laughed shortly. "Believe me, she's working on it."

Kimberly slipped out amidst the chaos; the others would have stopped her, but they were all so happy that it was a few minutes before they thought to check on her. She grabbed her purse and strode quickly down the hall. She didn't have keys to Jason's car, so she walked out of the hospital and towards the downtown area. It didn't take long.

She was trying to hold back tears—that strange emptiness in Tommy's eyes twisted her insides, plunging a dagger of guilt into her heart again. They hadn't talked at Trini's funeral—they hadn't even spoken, really. They hadn't spoken at Jason and Kat's wedding, either. To be quite honest, they hadn't really spoken since before the whole Maligore mess. She felt like crawling into her shoes. I never should have come, she raged to herself. He hates me. This was such a bad idea.

Her arms were folded tightly about her body as she slowly walked down the sidewalk. She wasn't aware of anything around her; she passed people by without seeing them, stepping around obstacles without recognizing what they were.

She was shaken out of her reverie by screams and loud crashes, and a strange shaking beneath her feet that was oddly familiar. Kimberly looked up and her brown eyes went wide as a huge 30 story monster came crashing through the downtown area leaving havoc in its wake. Rubble hit the streets as he carelessly knocked into buildings.

Shocked, she watched as it smashed into the building above her and took out a huge chunk. In that split-second, Kim's eyes went, almost of their own accord, to the sidewalk in front of her where the debris would impact. It was clear, except for an elderly lady who'd just walked out of the building and was completely aware of the grisly death she was about to meet.

"Look out!"

Calling on every ounce of energy and training she possessed, Kim sprinted forward and knocked the lady out of the way of the deluge of rocks and glass. The lady went sprawling some distance ahead, but Kim wasn't able to clear the mess herself. One rock, about the size of a man's fist, slammed into her back, throwing her to the sidewalk, where she was half-buried by more heavy chunks of rock mixed with razor sharp splinters of glass. One minute she was up, the next she was pinned on the ground coughing and struggling to breathe.

After the first blinding explosion of pain, it receded into a dull throbbing that seemed to be more and more distant, as if her mind were separating from her body, and Kim groggily realized that she couldn't feel anything below her waist. She figured one arm was broken, and she didn't know what had happened to the other, only that she could see it stretched out before her and she couldn't move or feel it. The rocks on top of her body were heavy, and they had hit her hard. She couldn't breathe—her chest felt like it had been smashed flat.

She had to struggle and fight for every shallow breath of air, and panic set in for a moment. She gulped air frantically until the pain in her chest caused her to slow down and realize that she would live longer if she stayed calm and took it easy. Every breath felt like someone had stabbed her and raked the knife down her chest.

The lady she'd saved slowly got to her feet, severely shaken. She'd been angry at first, but as she realized she had almost been killed, she became hysterical. "I'll get help!" she cried. "I'll get help!" She tottered off, screaming at the top of her lungs, leaving Kim lying on the sidewalk alone.

A persistent beeping caught her attention. The brunette blinked something— maybe dust, probably blood—out of her eyes and squinted. It sounded a lot like her cell phone. As her vision adjusted, she saw that her purse had somehow avoided the avalanche of debris. Her cell phone had bounced out and lay in front of her on the sidewalk covered with bits of glass. It was ringing to beat the band. She struggled desperately to move her arm, trying to reach it, all to no avail. After a moment, it stopped.

Her head dropped a little and blackness began to creep around the edges of her vision. It would be so easy just to go to sleep and wake up when it was all over. Mentally, she shook herself. Kim, she told herself sternly, you've got to stay focused. You've got to stay awake. You were a Power Ranger, for crying out loud. You can make it.

Dimly she was aware of sirens in the distance. A little while later, only a few minutes, really, but it seemed like an eternity, she saw a figure in blue hurry towards her, followed by the lady she'd saved. She couldn't lift her head, so she concentrated on his boots. She didn't recognize the brand, though it looked vaguely like….her mind wandered off into the recesses of her fashion knowledge.

The man shouted, "I found her!" then he knelt in front of her and checked her pulse. It was weak and thready. "Ma'am? Can you hear me? We're going to get you out. It's going to be all right." He phoned for backup and lifted some of the smaller rocks off her as quickly as he could. He'd need help to remove the bigger ones.

Kim managed to move her lips, but no sound came out. He noticed. "Don't try to talk, ma'am. Save your strength."

She tried anyway. "..my…phone…." Her voice was very faint. "Call…Jason. Please…." She stopped, heaving for breath. "….call…Jas…on…" Jason would know what to do, she reasoned. Jason always knew what to do.

"Ma'am, take it easy—we're gonna get you out." Several more paramedics ran up to them and they lifted the larger pieces of debris off of her small body. As the pressure on her chest was released, Kim felt dizzy—there was a sudden flash of pain and black spots swam before her eyes. She knew she was going to pass out.

As they gently, delicately lifted her onto a stretcher after applying a neck brace and everything else they could think of, Kim's brown eyes focused on the paramedic who'd found her. He was still holding her purse after searching it for her driver's license. "Please…" she whispered through dry lips, "…call...Jason.."

The medic looked at her, saw that her lips were turning a faint sheen of blue, saw the life leaving her eyes, and it did something to his insides. She didn't look good, and barring a miracle, he didn't think there was much they could do to help her. There was simply too much damage to her body. He could honor a dying woman's last request, couldn't he?

He reached into the purse and pulled out the cell phone, which he'd previously picked up and stuck back in there. He looked at the directory. Jason Scott was the first name listed. He started to punch in the number, but at that moment, Kimberly began to cough up blood.

A few minutes later, despite their best efforts, they slowly pulled the sheet up over her head. They'd done all they could do. She'd been too far gone. Death had come quickly—she'd had a hemorrhage and had slipped into unconsciousness almost immediately. The lady she'd saved burst into loud tears.

With a strange lump in his throat, the medic flipped her cell phone open again and dialed the number.

Jason stood in Tommy's kitchen fiddling with his phone. He was hoping Kim would check her messages and call him back, because she certainly wasn't answering. He hoped she hadn't decided to take the next flight back to France.

Out of the corner of his eye, he suddenly thought he saw her, and the phone nearly dropped from his fingers. He stared in shock. Kimberly was standing there, but not the Kim he'd seen that morning. This Kimberly looked exactly as she had in high school—brown hair pulled up in a bouncy ponytail, blue jean shorts, a pink tank top, and a sunny, heart stopping smile on her face. She looked both younger and happier than she had that morning, and she gave him a little wave.

The phone in his hand rang just then, and he looked down at it absently. When he looked back up, Kimberly was gone. Running a hand through his hair in confusion, he left the kitchen and headed for the living room, expecting to see her exiting the house. She wasn't there. "Hey, guys," he called out, "Did Kim just come through here?"

"She's not here, Jase." Rocky replied. "Haven't seen her since the hospital."

Puzzled, the former red ranger finally remembered he was holding a ringing phone. Quickly, he answered it. "Hello?"

There was a pause on the other end and then a man's voice said slowly, "Um… my name is Bryson Clyde. I'm trying to reach Jason Scott."

"You've found him. What can I do for you?" Jason walked through Tommy's living room to the front door. He half-expected to see Kim pulling out of the driveway, but that was absurd, since she didn't have a car.

"Kimberly Hart asked me call you, Mr. Scott. She was—"

Jason's voice was sharp. "Kim? Where is she?"

The other man hesitated for a moment, then said bluntly, "She was involved in an accident in downtown Reefside."

The suspicion drained out of the dark-haired man's voice. "Is she ok?"

The conversation caught the other former rangers' attention, and they looked over at Jason with worry in their faces. Kat got up from the couch and moved to stand at her husband's elbow.

Bryson decided to tell Jason the good news first. "Ms. Hart saved a lady's life, sir. Part of the Slater building was damaged by the monster and Ms. Hart pushed a lady to safety. Unfortunately," he gulped—giving people bad news about their friends and loved ones was the least favorite part of his job—"she was caught by the debris."

Jason's face went deathly pale and his brown eyes blazed intensely. When he spoke, his voice was very, very quiet. "Is she ok?" he repeated. In his heart, he knew the answer. Oh, Kim.

There was another pause, and then Bryson said apologetically, "We did everything we could, but….she didn't make it."

Jason felt a lump rising in his throat and he bowed his head. When he could finally speak, he asked hoarsely, "When did it happen?"

Standing beside the ambulance, the medic looked over at Kimberly's blanket-covered body. "As far as we can determine, she was hurt less than a half-hour ago. We got to her as soon as we could, and we got her out, but it was too late. She…passed on a few minutes ago."

Jason nodded slowly—part of his mind realized that that was the same time he'd seen what must have been her ghost. "I appreciate you calling." He was dimly aware that Kat now had her arm around him, while Rocky and Adam had come up beside him.

"Ms. Hart begged me to use her phone and contact you." He hesitated briefly then confessed, "I couldn't refuse her. I'm very sorry for your loss."

"Thank you." Jason closed his eyes, racking his stunned brain for anything else to ask this guy. "Where are they sending her?"

"Reefside Hospital."

He almost laughed at the irony of it all. Reefside Hospital. "We're in Reefside right now. We'll be over as soon as we can. Thank you."

"Will you notify her next-of-kin?"

"Yes." He ended the conversation and started to return his phone to its place on his belt, but he missed and it clattered to the hardwood floor. He didn't bother to pick it up.

Kat helped him sit down before they asked him anything. She'd only seen that look on his face once before—when Trini died. Something was horribly, terribly wrong.

"Jase," Adam asked, scanning his friend's face, "What happened? Is Kim all right?"

Jason looked over at him slowly, and his mental dam broke. "No, she's not ok," he said thickly, hot tears welling up in his eyes. He wasn't the type who cried, but he couldn't help it. Kim was his oldest friend, after Trini, and now they were both gone.

Tommy smiled in grim satisfaction as the monster exploded. One more of Mesogog's creations down for the count. He flashed a thumbs up to his students, and waited for them to join him. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement, and he spun around. More of Mesogog's minions? he wondered. Behind his helmet, his brown eyes went wide and his jaw dropped. "Kimberly?" he gasped out.

She was standing some distance away, a look of mingled sadness and regret on her face. Then her eyes met his and her lips curved in a smile. She waved at him, and he felt an overwhelming sense of farewell.

The Black Ranger blinked, convinced he was seeing things. Even if Kim had managed to track them down, there was no way she could have reversed the effect of time on her body and gone back to looking like the sweet sixteen year-old he'd fallen in love with in high school. When he opened his eyes again, the spot where she'd been standing was empty. He glanced around, but there was no one there. I'm seeing things, he decided. Get a hold of yourself, Oliver. You can't fall apart just because she's back.

He was unusually quiet on the trip back to their headquarters, merely saying that he'd tell them everything when they got back, so that Hayley could hear it too. He wasn't sure if she had shown Jason and the others his basement yet, but if she had, that was fine. He'd tell everyone. If not, then he'd delay the inevitable and tell his team first to give himself some time to calm down.

Hayley had a strange look on her face when they came in, but she stayed quiet until after the teens had finished asking him all their questions. Then they headed upstairs so Tommy could greet his guests.

Everyone had a somber look on their face and the women looked like they'd been crying. Conner took one look and asked half-jokingly, "What happened? Did somebody die?"

There was dead silence, before Kat and Tanya both broke down in fresh tears, though they were obviously trying to hold it back. The guys looked grim.

Kira smacked Conner on the back of the head.

"What?" he asked in confusion.

Tommy scanned the room, noting that Kim was the only person not there. That doesn't mean anything, he told himself. "Guys," he asked quickly, "What's going on? What's happened?"

Everyone turned to look at Jason, who, whether he wanted it or not, was being regarded as the leader. Taking a deep breath, the former red ranger rose to his feet and took several steps forward. His eyes were filled with tears, and a look of inestimable grief was on his face. "Bro," he said thickly, "I don't know how to tell you this."

Tommy stood rooted to the spot. It wasn't possible…it couldn't be. "Jase—"

Jason cut him off. "It's Kim. She's gone." He couldn't bring himself to say the word "dead".

:ducks flying vegetables: Yes, yes, I killed Kim. I didn't intend to kill her off when I started writing this story, but it just sort of ended up that way. There wasn't much I could do about it.

If you need a happy fix-read"PhoneCall." It won't end the way this one did.

Stay tuned for the epilogue. :ducks more vegetables: