Always a Ranger - Part 35
Two is Company, Six is a Team
By Jeannine Trevizo
Kim woke up and sleepily squinted at the soft rays of early morning dawn’s light coming through the window. It was on the opposite side of the room from where it usually was. Confused, she turned over and rolled into Tommy’s body, taking up two-thirds of the large queen bed, and she smiled, remembering where she was.
It had been just about two weeks since she’d gotten off the plane in Reefside, and she was still getting settled into her new life. Waking up every day next to Tommy was one of the highlights of her days, though it was still stunning to her that they’d finally gotten here.
And then there was the fact that she was part of the team again.
It was still unbelievable that not only had she found her way back to Tommy, and they were getting married, but that she’d gotten the second chance to serve at his side again, taking back her pink ranger mantle. She sighed as she realized how luck she was to have this, *all* this in her life, and then turned and snuggled into Tommy’s side, waking him up slightly.
“Huh?” he mumbled, his eyes barely opening to register the petite brunette snuggling into him.
“Just me handsome. It’s still early, you don’t have to get up for class for another hour. Go back to sleep,” she replied, throwing an arm across his chest.
Realizing that Kim was there, cuddling up with him, he turned into her, wrapping his arms around her and tucking her head beneath his chin. Wrapped up in one another, they fell back to sleep, contented.
“So, do we order the chocolate boxes with the imprinted ribbon, or are you willing to let me wait until the last minute and con Aisha, Kira and my mom into helping make wedding favors?” Kim asked later that day from her chair at the kitchen table where she had stacks of brochures and lists piled around her as she tried to get everything they needed done for the wedding.
Tommy looked up at her over his glasses from his side of the table where he was going over his first week’s worth of completed quizzes and homework assignments. He didn’t recall his brain being so much of a sieve when he was in high school that he forgot everything he’d learned the year before, but… He frowned and looked for a moment like he was going to make a decision, and then he broke the facade.
“I’m sorry Kim. I really didn’t hear a word of what you just asked.”
Shaking her head, she smiled at him. She wasn’t surprised. Between the stacks of papers he was trying to grade before they took some time off, the continued threat of Mesogog and the unending wedding details she feared she’d taxed Tommy’s memory, patience and attention span far too much.
“It’s okay handsome,” she said, getting up from her seat at the kitchen table to walk to his, leaning over his shoulder to look over the papers he had set up in stacks around him, one pile for unfinished quizzes, one for unfinished homework, and a matching pair of piles on the other side that were graded. “You know, I don’t think you realized that you’d get *more* paperwork as a teacher, did you?”
“I guess I didn’t. I swear it wasn’t this bad last year… or maybe I forgot that it was,” he replied with a half smile as he turned to look at her, reminding himself of how lucky he was that she was there, both as his fiancé and as his team mate.
The phone suddenly rang, and Tommy reached over from where he was at the table and picked it up. He hit the talk button and brought it to his ear, wondering who would be calling…
Kim watched as he listened to whomever was on the line, and then his eyes lit up slightly as he turned towards her.
“Yes, she’s here.” Holding out the phone, Tommy covered the mouthpiece with his hand and whispered, “its Reefside Gymnastics Academy.”
Kim took the phone and gave Tommy a sly smile. Obviously she’d been right in her assessment that after the games were over, her resume would reappear at the top of the list of applicants at the gymnastics center.
“Hello, this is Kim Hart,” she said into the phone.
Tommy smiled as he heard her, imaging her introducing herself as Kim Oliver in just a few weeks. He watched her nod and murmur simple yeses and uh huhs before she thanked them for calling. He watched her intently as she hung up the line.
“I may just have a job,” Kim said brightly.
Tommy smiled at her, happy at the prospect of Kim having the chance to teach what she loved and not have to sacrifice the kind of career she deserved because she’d decided to be with him.
“Do you have to go in to interview?”
“She asked if I’d mind coming in to ‘talk’ later in the week, which usually means they made up their mind already and want to negotiate salary. I guess my credentials were impressive enough to let me skip all the interviewing.”
“I think they’d be crazy to turn down the opportunity to hire a world class gymnastics coach. I mean, what, a team silver, individual gold for Carly in the all around, and then four more individual event medals… your team kicked ass Kim.”
Kim smiled and tried not to laugh. It wasn’t like she’d done it all on her own, but in Tommy’s eyes, she was the reason that the team had done so well. And maybe, she thought, he needed to think that way to justify his letting her go back to Boston to coach the team and take them to the games when all she’d wanted to do was stay after he’d been released from his amber prison…
“Anyway, I have a couple of days until the appointment. Which means more time to deal with wedding details,” she sighed and moved back to her chair, hanging up the phone on her way.
“You know I’d love to help you more Beautiful, but classes are already driving me crazy. As it is, if I’m not prepared every day, they’ll eat me alive.”
She laughed at that, and then gave him a sultry half smile and raised her eyebrows, saying, “They can’t do that… it’s my job.”
The innuendo wasn’t lost on Tommy, and he smiled at her, moving his chair back slightly as he considered either pushing the papers and brochures on the floor to take Kim right there on the table or walk around and lead her into their bedroom. Instead, as he took off his glasses, tossing them to the table as he started to get up, both his metal wristband and hers started their chime, and they broke out into laughter.
“So, I guess that it won’t be dates that get interrupted now, huh?” she remarked flippantly as she nearly jumped out of her seat and moved to the trap door in their kitchen floor.
Tommy met her there, helping to pull the wooden door open, and they hurried down the stairs. Tommy sat at the keyboard as Kim leaned on the back of his chair while he keyed in the coordinates of the rest of the team. Once he found the rest of the rangers, he pulled them up on the panel screen before them. On the view screen, they saw Kira, Trent, Ethan and Conner, already in uniform surrounded by tyrano-drones at the civic center.
“Time to go?” Kim asked with a smile.
“Back to action,” he tossed back and they smiled more broadly.
“Dino Thunder, Power Up!” they called out, transforming into their uniforms and then hurrying out the back entrance of the cave and speeding to where the rest of the team was already in battle.
When they arrived, Conner, Kira, Trent and Ethan were already starting to lose ground as more tyrano-drones seemed to appear out of nowhere. Quickly they jumped into battle, taking on whatever they could in the hopes of evening the odds a bit more in their favor.
“I have to say, they seem to make foot soldiers pretty much the same, no matter who the alien evil is,” Kim joked, flipping end over end as she tumbled to an area populated with tons of tyrano-drones and Kira, Trent and Ethan, doing their best to fend off their attackers, who seemed to just keep coming.
“You should see the tripto things… they’re weird. I mean, they look like eyes on legs,” Kira remarked to the newly arrived pink ranger as she punched the closest opponent, and then leapt over the crumpled body to land a solid two-foot hit on another one.
“These guys though… they’re always bad news. All spiney,” stated Ethan, blocking an attack with his armored skin, and then followed up with a roundhouse kick, and pressed his attack as he advanced onto another drone.
Tommy and Conner stood at another corner, taking on all comers, which seemed to be a lot. They whittled through them, Conner’s speed only matched by Tommy’s skill. Kim defended against a blow towards her head, and then attacked a drone right in front of her with a snap kick, sending it sprawling. She quickly noticed that the tide was turning and most of their opponents were either defeated or focusing now on Tommy and Conner.
“Come on… the fun’s over there,” Kim said, pointing at Tommy and Conner, and then launched herself off the ground and literally ran on air over the heads of the tyrano-drones, who all paused and looked up in shock and awe.
“You know, I think I’m jealous,” grumbled Kira, leaping into the air, her wings letting her glide part way to Conner and Dr. O, but she had to land once before running the rest of the way.
Ethan however had to weave his way through the stunned bad guys. When he finally arrived where Kim had simply floated herself to, he nudged her with an elbow, and tossed a half-hearted remark, “show off.”
“Please… like I didn’t earn cool powers?” Kim threw back as she jumped forward, landing a staggering blow to an advancing drone with a closed fist.
“Old school… I can do that,” announced Tommy, launching himself into a flurry of kicks and chops, sending another three drones down and out, or flying across the civic center’s garden area.
“Oh no you two don’t. We’re not getting shown up by two ‘old’ rangers,” Conner announced, and he quickly zipped through another three tyrano-drones, sending them to the ground.
“Ha! I can do better than that,” quipped Kira, “hold your ears!”
Suddenly the area directly in front of Kira was blasted with her sonic terra scream, sending half the remaining dozen drones to the paved stone of the pathways. The rest were finally smart enough to get out of dodge while they could, catching a portal that appeared out of nowhere and disappearing.
“Okay, you guys are good. And us old rangers needed you to save our butts,” declared Kim, humor evident in her voice as she acknowledged the new ranger’s skills.
“Speak for yourself Beautiful. I could have taken them,” Tommy said somewhat despondently.
“You always say that,” she remarked with a smile that he could hear in her voice even if he couldn’t see it on her face. “How many times did we have to save you because you were sure you could handle things?”
“And do I need to remind you who Zordon had rescue the original power coins when you handed them over to save your families?”
Kim sighed and raised her hands in surrender. No matter what, they always seemed evenly matched. The years of being rangers together had given them both experiences where they’d saved one another, and the team. And that was what had bonded them eternally, along with the connection, the love that they shared as well.
“Are we clear, ‘cause I really would like to get out of this helmet, and I need to get back to work, or Hayley will be overwhelmed,” asked Trent, rolling his shoulders as he listened to Kim and Dr. O get all reminiscing on them.
After checking around that the area was empty and there weren’t any video cameras, they all unmorphed. As soon as they were back in their civilian clothes, Kim and Tommy gravitated to one another again, this time holding hands.
“Later guys, I gotta go,” said Trent, heading off to the downtown and to the cybercafé.
“So, when are the guests getting here for the wedding?” Kira asked, after Trent had headed off.
“Uh… sooner than I’m prepared for,” commented Kim uneasily. “As it is, I still have way too much to do.”
“Need any help?” Ethan asked, and Conner, Kira and Tommy all turned to stare at him. “What?”
“You want to help Kim work on wedding details?” Conner asked, shocked.
“Hey, I have some cool project management software. I could help organize everything by date and time it has to be done so there isn’t any wasted time.”
“Okay, now that’s cool,” Kira remarked, impressed.
“That might be a good idea Kim. Especially for me…” Tommy remarked, giving her a patented Oliver look of ‘my crappy memory could use the help’.
“Alright. Anyone else want to help me find a place for the reception and pick out decorations and music?”
“Me!” shouted Kira, laughing as she grabbed hold of Kim’s arm.
“Joy… please tell me I don’t have to help too,” Conner complained.
“Well, you could always help Hayley and Trent out with the diagnostics on the raptor cycles in the basement this afternoon. Or a novel idea would be to do your homework and study,” suggested Tommy, his arm swinging with Kim’s as they walked, and Kira and Ethan stifled laughter at Conner’s expense.
As they headed back to the command center, Conner tried to focus on Dr. O’s comments, but instead found himself thinking about Kim’s venue dilemma. Why did he think he had a solution…
“Hey, how about the Cyberspace for the reception?” suggested Conner suddenly, snapping his fingers with the crystallization of his idea and bringing everyone up short.
Kim looked to Tommy, and he shrugged. He’d never thought to ask, but the Cyberspace did have a large enough area, stereo system, live band stage and once the place was opened up and redesigned with some rented tables and chairs, it could work.
“We could ask,” he said.
“Wouldn’t it put a dent in her income?” Kim asked, concerned. She liked Hayley; in her own right, because Tommy cared for her as a friend and also because one of her dearest friends was dating her.
“I’m sure she’d be cool with it,” Kira informed them, and being the one who performed there often enough, she would know if it really was possible.
“We could offer her some rental fee or something to compensate her,” Tommy suggested.
“Let’s table this until we talk with her,” Kim remarked.
“You can ask her later when she and Trent are in the basement,” Tommy remarked and Kim nodded.
“So, now that you’ve figured out when to talk to Hayley about the site, how about you tell me when I should bring over that software?” Ethan asked, coming up to walk beside Tommy and giving her a puppy-dog look, making Kim smile.
“You know, I think they’re really way too invested in our love life,” Kim joked, and while Tommy sighed and gave her a look that said ‘I told you so’, everyone laughed as they started towards the downtown.
Trent and Hayley had been tuning up the red and yellow raptor cycles for less than ten minutes after they’d arrived from closing up the café when they heard the trap door to Tommy and Kim’s kitchen open.
“We have company,” Trent announced, and Hayley threw back her messy red hair and nodded with a grin as she saw Tommy and Kim come down the stairs.
Hayley had to admit that ever since Kim had moved in with Tommy and become the pink dino thunder ranger, things between everyone had somehow seemed to fully gel. It was as if Tommy and Kim anchored the team more solidly than Tommy alone had.
And on the personal level, she’d finally come to a place where she was happy with her life: she had Billy coming back in a few days, and she was a prosperous business woman. And the added bonus where she got to help the power rangers was one that she had to say was on the top of her list of accomplishments.
“Hey Hayley,” Kim said, walking through the room and over to where the woman was cleaning up from working on the bikes.
“Kim,” Hayley replied, curious at the reasoning for the pink ranger coming down when there wasn’t really anything to do.
“I, well we had a question,” Kim said, looking back at Tommy, who had gotten sidetracked with something on the monitor. “We’re looking for a place to have the wedding reception, and well, would you let us rent the Cyberspace?”
Trent and Hayley both looked at Kim in surprise.
“You… you guys want to hold your wedding reception at the café?” she asked, shocked.
“I mean, we’ll pay you, just tell me how much you want to charge for the day…” Kim stammered, feeling like maybe it was a bad idea to have asked Hayley if they could use the space.
“No!” Hayley nearly shouted, and Tommy turned in his seat at the console to stare while Kim fought to not frown at Hayley’s refusal.
“It’s okay… we understand…” Kim started, but Hayley cut her off quickly, reaching over to catch Kim’s hands.
“No, I mean yes, I’d be honored if you’d have the reception there. I was just so shocked, and when you wanted to offer to pay for the time, it’s just silly…” Hayley blurted out, smiling. “Kim, Tommy has been my friend for so long, and while you and I both know I was worried about you hurting him again, and yeah, my own petty jealousy, you have made him happy… I can see that you’re right together. And like Kira said the other day, because of you and Tommy, I have Bill in my life. So yes, you can have the Cyberspace, with my complements, no charge!”
Kim stood there in utter surprise. She hadn’t expected that, and the graciousness that Hayley had shown… it was just beyond what she could have hoped for.
She known deep down that she liked Hayley. When they’d first met when Tommy had been imprisoned in amber by the evil white ranger, the claws had started to come out. But somewhere in her dedication and overwhelming concern for Tommy, she noticed that Hayley’s animosity had faded. She knew that the red-haired genius had recently admitted to Tommy and the others of her college crush, but with Tommy being with her, Hayley had finally ended up looking elsewhere, and had found a ranger who could truly appreciate her – Billy.
Which brought Kim back to the thing that Hayley had said that had thrown her the most.
“Bill?” Kim said with a raised eyebrow.
Hayley flushed slightly, her cheeks turning a slightly paler color of red than her hair.
“You know that we’re both really happy for both of you, right?” Kim said, smiling at Hayley.
“Bill says that you have been a good friend to him for years… and that I should let you be one to me.”
“Well, he’s not a genius for nothing.”
Hayley smiled, and then Kim moved forward, pulling her hands from Hayley’s and embracing the other woman like she would any of her female friends. As soon as Kim’s arms wrapped around her, Hayley let herself return the hug. Beyond them, Trent and Tommy watched the two women fully and completely become friends.
Finally the two women eased away from each other, the new friendship and respect showing in their eyes and their posture.
“You’re welcome,” replied Hayley happily.
“Well, now that that’s all settled, I have to go and call the caterer, florist and bakery and give them the location for the reception. You guys have fun,” said Kim, walking over to where Tommy was sitting at the console and briefly kissing him before running up the stairs and to the phone.
As Tommy watched her go, he realized that while the relationship they had was truly theirs, he shared her with not only the world, but with the team.
And he had to think that they all were incredibly lucky to have her looking out for them.
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