Always a Ranger - Part 17

The Flame

By Jeannine Trevizo

 

 

Kimberly Hart and Tommy Oliver did their level best to break the known decency laws with their goodbye at the Reefside airport as they groped and kissed, ignoring air and modestly as they tried desperately to make the moments last. The day and a half that they’d had had been too short. Still, it was more than either had expected, and they had resolved to make the most of the time they did have together, until Kim could come back to Reefside for good.

 

So now they stood, nearly six am, as Kim’s departing flight was getting ready to board any minute. She’d run this route before… and she knew that with the nearly empty airport she had a few more seconds to spare before she would have to get through security and to her flight.

 

It wasn’t enough though.

 

Overhead, they heard the announcement for Kim’s flight starting to board, and they stared at one another. The time was here. Kim pulled back, still holding her love’s hands.

 

“I gotta go, or the plane’s gonna leave without me,” she said seriously, once again hating leaving the man she loved.

 

“I know,” he replied, swallowing hard.

 

“I’ll be back in a few months. For good this time.”

 

Tommy nodded, not trusting his voice for the moment as he nearly crushed Kim’s fingers with his hands. Another call over the overhead speakers brought him back to the reality that he had to let her go so she could come back to him.

 

“You’d better get going,” he said, tracing a finger along her cheek, trying to seal the memory of her eyes at this moment into his soul.

 

With another quick kiss, Kim and Tommy drifted apart. Luckily for both of them it was just a few more months…

 

“Love you,” she told him seriously, her eyes showing the tell-tale signs of unshed tears.

 

“Love you too Beautiful. Have a safe trip back and call me when you get in.”

 

She nodded and headed to the gate, leaving him aching and thinking about nothing less than going jewelry shopping so the next time she got off a plane he could make certain she wasn’t ever leaving again.

 

God, he though wearily as he watched her form move through the security gate and past his line of vision, the next few more months were going to be *long*.

 

---

 

Within 2 hours of putting Kim on the plane, Tommy was going through Kimberly withdrawal. It had kicked in when he’d arrived at the school, where he’d used the extra two hours he had after dropping Kim off at Reefside airport to dig in and go through the papers that had been sitting on his desk since the white ranger had appeared. When the bell finally rang for his first class, he was seriously imbedded in his bad mood and he knew his students were not going to be happy about his state.

 

He knew he shouldn’t be feeling like this. While his visit with Kim had been too short, it had been wonderful. The fact that she had been there at all was more than enough to make it worth every moment they’d had. But putting her back on that damn plane, he mentally growled, was exponentially worse this time.

 

As the first class of students trooped in, sleepy, happy and otherwise teenager sounding, he sighed and pushed his glasses up his face. He had a job to do too, just like Kim.

 

Even if all he wanted to do right now was have a monster or something show up and occupy his mind from thoughts of Kim and the last day and a half.

 

Two classes, two pop quizzes and several unhappy students later, Tommy was starting to burn off some of the bad mood he’d had. Another class later and he wasn’t obsessing over how little time he and Kim had spent together, but rather starting to fantasize about decorating the house once she moved in, and maybe bickering over china patters for the wedding registry.

 

He’d made that decision almost the moment Kim had suggested it, and when they’d talked just days ago, he knew that getting married was in their future. The short term if he had any say about it.

 

All he wanted to do was assure himself that Kim was his forever.

 

A knock at the door brought his head flying up. It was lunchtime. Who…?

 

The door swung open slowly and Ethan’s head popped through the doorway.

 

“Hey Dr. O. Busy?”

 

“Come on in,” Tommy said, smiling a half smirk, half smile.

 

“It’s cool guys!” Ethan said, turning back behind him, and then pushing the door open fully as Kira and Conner followed him in.

 

No surprise there, Tommy thought. They were as inseparable as he and the team of the ‘old’ days were. There was something about the whole being rangers ‘gig’ that welded people together.

 

No, Tommy said mentally, chastising himself, no thoughts of being ‘welded’ to Kim…

 

“Hey guys, what’s up?” Tommy asked, taking off his glasses and placing them beside the neglected remains of his lunch and the quizzes he was grading.

 

“We didn’t get a chance to talk to you yesterday, what with Kim being here and all,” Conner started hesitantly.

 

“Come on Conner, just spit it out,” Kira said exasperatedly. “How did your visit with Kim go? Is she still here?”

 

“I put her on the plane this morning.”

 

Tommy’s words seemed to bring the group up short. Kira stared at him with concern, and the guys glanced at one another in bewilderment. Their reaction to Kim leaving again wasn’t all that different from when the team had convinced Kim to leave for Florida all those years ago. It was as if she had been accepted as part of the group.

 

“But I thought she said she wasn’t leaving this time,” Conner said confused.

 

“She was planning on staying, but after we talked, I convinced her that she needed to go back to the girls, see them through the games.”

 

“So she’s coming back?” Ethan asked.

 

“Ethan!” Kira exclaimed, looking at the blue ranger with utter shock. “She came all the way out here when she thought something had happened to Dr. O. Why wouldn’t she come back after the Olympics?”

 

“I don’t know! Things happen. Maybe they’d changed their minds.”

 

At that, the three turned to Dr. O with a joint look of alarm and longing. In the short time that they’d known Kim, she had become a part of their ranger family. Losing her would be more than any of them could bear.

 

“We haven’t gotten through all the details yet, but she’s coming back on the first plane from Athens,” Tommy explained, and watched the three teens visibly relax.

 

“Good. She’s a really great person Dr. O. I think I speak for all of us when I say that she’s really helped us all. And she really seems to keep you grounded,” Conner expressed honestly.

 

It was with those words that Tommy found himself immobilized with a moment of clarity. Conner was right. Kim did keep him grounded. She balanced him through all the years they were rangers together. And even now, she was keeping him sane, keeping him going.

 

He looked to his students, his team and realized that her stabilizing influence on him was not only seen by them, Kim had affected their lives too. The fact that Kim had shared some of her darkest secrets about he experience with his evil self with Kira had gone a long way to helping the younger woman cope. And Conner and Ethan had both benefited from Kim’s generosity and caring.

 

Kimberly wasn’t simply taking care of me now, Tommy thought with a smile. She was taking care of all of them.

 

The bell rang, and Kira, Ethan and Conner nearly jumped at the sound.

 

“Time to go to class,” Tommy said, reaching for his glasses.

 

Hurriedly, the three turned for the door, and Tommy heard them as they walked away.

 

“So, what we were talking about before, you know, why the rock thing didn’t do anything to Dr. O… Wasn’t it supposed to bring out the inner part of him? Maybe the nice teacher guy?” Conner asked.

 

“Yeah, for a second there, I was worried he might be stuck in uniform, being the greatest ranger ever and all,” Ethan remarked.

 

Tommy got up from his seat and moved to the door to hear the rest of their conversation. He had talked with Kim briefly about the team’s transformation and Hayley’s theory on what had happened. She hadn’t really know what Hayley had done to the machine she’d harnessed the meteor’s power through to just release him, and he hadn’t talked to Hayley yet. But when Kira spoke up next, what she said surprised him, and he knew he didn’t have to ask Hayley anymore. What Kira suggested couldn’t be anything other than the truth.

 

“Please, don’t you get it?” Kira said with distain for her juvenile male rangers. “The part of him that the rock tapped into was his love for Kim, what makes him human. And that, under all the ranger trapping and stuff is more a part of him than anything else.”

 

And Tommy couldn’t help but agree silently.

 

-

 

The next few days had ended up going by in a blur. Trent had conned them all. And the team had nearly paid a horrible price for their willingness to believe in a miracle.

 

Kim had called on that first day, letting Tommy know she’d gotten in okay, and would head to work the next morning. But things were so out of hand that he’d had to fire off an e-mail to her rather than call her. He hated to do it, but he’d promised that he would keep her in the loop, so to speak, so she wouldn’t become worried like his previous bout of silence had done.

 

So he’d simply said that he was glad that she was back in one piece, that they had white ranger problems, and he’d call as soon as he could. And of course that he loved her.

 

He hadn’t realized when he hit the send button that it would be two days before he’d get the opportunity to pick up the phone.

 

Still, worrying about Trent and Mesogog had been a good diversion from allowing himself to deal with the fact that he was desperately missing Kim. Everything that had happened in the last two days was more than enough to keep his mind occupied on the problems at hand. The idea that Trent had gotten so possessed by the evil of his power gem that he was making deals with Mesogog concerned him more than he’d thought it could. He had never been like that, had he?

 

So the team continued to fight to get Trent back to the other side. But without being able to find a way to get through to the young ranger, they seemed to keep hitting road blocks. Ones that Mesogog didn’t seem to have with the white ranger.

 

And yet, Tommy had to wonder why Trent didn’t just finish them off. Time and again, he’d had the opportunity, and then backed down. All he could assume was some part of Trent was keeping the white ranger from taking that final step, and he was glad of it. As long as they had some kind of chance at getting Trent back in one piece, there was still hope.

 

Hope. That was a powerful word. He’d remembered having that when he’d lost the green ranger powers. And it was something that the team and Kim had given him.

 

With a sigh, Tommy got in his jeep after leaving his last class. Just the thought of her name made him put aside all the concerns he had about Mesogog and Trent. With everything that they were still dealing with, he knew it was finally time to make time to talk to Kim.

 

He needed his Kim ‘fix’, he thought with a sudden internal laugh. God, he felt like an addict. But what an addiction…

 

Pulling up to his house, Tommy parked the jeep and reached behind his seat to get his briefcase. Getting out of the vehicle, he walked heavily up the path to his front door. With everything he’d been through in the last few weeks, and especially the last two, he was exhausted and emotionally drained.

 

Pausing to pull his keys from his pocket, he found himself wishing that instead of simply hearing her voice that she could be there, so he could lay his head down on her lap and let her run her fingers through his hair like she used to do. It had been the most erotic yet soothing experience he’d ever had at 17 years old, and he didn’t doubt it would still have the same power.

 

They’d spent most of the last day and a half together making love and simply being together, but he hadn’t lain out across her lap. It just never seemed like the time to indulge in such a selfish pastime. He’d needed to commune with Kim like equals. They’d had so little time, he hadn’t wanted to use her lap as a pillow.

 

Her bare breasts were another matter.

 

But he had known it was more important for her to go back and finish what she’d started. If not for her, then for him and the girls she was coaching.

 

Still, he missed her desperately.

 

With a groan born of repressed desire and longing, he entered the house and tossed his briefcase on the couch picking up the phone on his way. Trudging into the kitchen, he took off his jacket and laid it over a chair as he moved to the refrigerator. Grabbing a beer, he settled in one of the chairs and dialed Kim’s number, thinking that one day, in just a few more months he wouldn’t have to do this. That *this* will be Kim’s home. With him.

 

“Hello?” came Kim’s voice through the phone line

 

“Hey Beautiful.”

 

“Hey yourself handsome,” Kim said, and Tommy could swear he could hear the relief and happiness in her voice at his call.

 

“Sorry I haven’t called before now,” Tommy said, and then took a swallow of the beer.

 

“I’m sure things have been tough. Any good news?”

 

“Not really. We took another pounding when we thought that maybe luck had finally broken our way.”

 

Tommy took another sip of beer, pondering if he should tell her everything, and then berated himself for even thinking of not being honest with the one person who knew what he was struggling with more intimately than anyone else.

 

“Rangers having luck? What, have you been listening to Jason’s ‘luck is a ranger’s best friend’ speech again?” she said humorously.

 

“I know… the only luck I seem to have is bad luck.”

 

“No you don’t,” she scolded. “I would hope that you don’t consider me loving you bad luck.”

 

“Never,” he replied solemnly and took another swig from the bottle. “Just everything else. We thought we had him back Kim. I mean Trent. But it was just an act to try and destroy us. God, I just don’t know how much longer we can deal with both Mesogog and the white ranger. There’s only four of us…”

 

“You’ll deal. Just like we always did,” Kim said softly. “And you know that if I or any of the others could be there, in uniform with you to help, we would. But the only rangers around are yours.”

 

“And Trent.”

 

“Who will be on your side eventually. You have to believe that.”

 

Tommy took another long swallow, empting the MGD bottle as he spun it on its side on the kitchen table. Did he believe that they could get Trent on their side? Yes, but he wasn’t sure what price he, the team and the young man wielding the white ranger powers would have to sacrifice before that happened.

 

“I do Kim. It’s just hard.”

 

“Tell me about it,” she replied, and Tommy reminded himself that she’d now had two opportunities to watch an evil ranger tear up a city and a power team.

 

“Sorry Beautiful. I guess I let myself get too maudlin about all this.”

 

“No problem. Just remember I’m here for you and the rest of the team if you need to talk about it.”

 

He smiled as he remembered his hypothesis… Kim really was helping him hold it together, as well as be there for his team like she had in the past.

 

“So, how are things there?” Tommy asks, hoping to break the melancholy that threatens to overtake them both. “Gregor was happy to have you back I assume?”

 

“Yeah,” she replied with a more uplifting tone of voice. “He checked in with me that everything was okay, and then I got back to work. But I guess my being gone didn’t hamper their training too much. They’ve got almost all the routines nailed. I think they’re pretty well prepared. They just need to keep up with practice.”

 

“It’s getting close,” he stated, knowing that Kim would understand his meaning.

 

“Yeah. Of course though all everyone was talking about is if we actually will get to Athens.”

 

“How’s that?” Tommy asked, hoping to hear some news about her being here sooner.

 

“First it was just crossing our fingers that the venues would be done by the time we landed...”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“What? You didn’t hear about the construction problems? It’s been a mess! Gregor mentioned that he’s hoping that the facilities for the athletes are done by the time we arrive, or it’s not going to be fun. Still, that might be the least of our problems. There’s the whole U.S. athlete drug scandal that we, luckily, are staying totally clear of. But its things in the region that are the big concern. If things don’t get calmed down around before the games start…”

 

“I heard the IOC took out an insurance policy on the games…”

 

Kim suddenly got quiet, and Tommy knew that she understood what he was thinking of. When he’d read in the paper about the bombing at the police station in Athens a month back, he’d put it off as a small thing. Then more bombs kept popping up. Rome, Istanbul, and then Athens again just yesterday… That last one had scared him the worst. Even if it had been small and not very sophisticated, the fact that it was half a mile from two of the athletic venues had been enough to frighten him.

 

He hadn’t brought any of it up when she’d had been in town, not wanting to mar their time together with any more fears. But he had wondered if maybe he was sending her back to Boston to end up in the middle of a war zone when she got to Greece.

 

The fact was that the IOC was getting prepared for the worst just reinforced that fear. The insurance policy was in case of flood, earthquake and *terrorist* attack. And probably monster too, if they were smart he thought. But the whole terrorist thing worried him the most. They lived in a world much more complicated than it used to be when they both were together and rangers. They hadn’t had to worry about whole cities getting blown up by humans – just evil space aliens intent on ruling the planet.

 

They’d had governments and police and the CIA to take care of the human threats.

 

But things hadn’t been so secure in the last few years. 9/11 taught everyone that. And even with all his power, there really was nothing he or the team could do to stop the violence men were doing to other men, and there’s nothing he could really do if someone decided to take hostages in Athens…

 

“Tommy,” she said in a quiet tone that broke him from his revere.

 

“What Beautiful?”

 

“I’ll keep my head down.”

 

“No you won’t,” Tommy said stubbornly, recognizing the subtle lie for what it was. “If something *did* happen, you’d try to help. How could you *not*. I just want to know you’ll be careful.”

 

She didn’t reply, but he knew the reason why. He was asking her to be careful when he never seemed to follow his own advice. Why should she have to keep away from helping people if she could when he was busy fighting monsters on a near-daily basis… He had no moral high ground to ask her to stay out of trouble, and they both knew it.

 

“Alright, I’ll be careful. Remember, I promised that I’d be on a plane and to Reefside just as soon as the games were over, and I will stick to that.”

 

“Good. I’m counting on picking you up at the airport in just three months.”

 

“I’ll be there, and then there’s no getting rid of me.”

 

Another silence settled over them as the longing and desire to be somewhere other than where they were started to settle over them. After years of separation, the small windows of time together we just not enough any longer.

 

“So…” Tommy started, breaking the silence, “what are you wearing?”

 

Kim laughed out loud at Tommy’s blatant attempt to turn their nice little call into a sex phone session. On his end, Tommy smirked and dropped his elbows to the table, leaning forward across the wood surface. All he could think about now when he sat at this table was how he had laid Kim out across it just days ago, doing wickedly erotic things to her. The sudden swelling of portions of his lower anatomy remembered well what he’d done, and was reminding him that he’d sent his lover off again, leaving him sexually frustrated for another three months.

 

Shit, this was not a good time for that kind of image, he berated himself, especially with her still on the other side of the country again.

 

“None of your business Dr. Oliver. Besides, my number doesn’t have a 900 prefix before it, so don’t expect any descriptions of what I’d like to do to you.’

 

“You’re evil.”

 

“I didn’t start this,” she fired back, and they both laughed.

 

“I miss you,” he said suddenly, the mirth gone and the seriousness of a man missing the love of his life replacing it.

 

“I miss you too,” she replies, and he felt his heart pound in his chest.

 

“You know, maybe I should ask for a few days off. I hear Boston is nice this time of year…”

 

“Tommy…”

 

“What? Can I help it if I love you and miss you and if I can’t have you back here for good that I’d rather be where you are, even if was just for a few days?”

 

Kim sighed, and Tommy felt a little pang of guilt.

 

“I’m sorry. I know you wanted to stay this last time.”

 

“I didn’t… but you were right. I needed to come back.”

 

“So, can I ask Principal Randall for some time off?”

 

“Where do you plan to sleep?” Kim asked with an amused tome of voice. “Both of us won’t fit on my bed.”

 

“Shit, I’d forgotten about that. Could you buy a bigger bed?” Tommy asked with a leer in his voice.

 

“Why? You have a perfectly good bed in Reefside. Sweetheart,” she said in a velvet tone that burned through Tommy’s veins like flame, “it’s only three months. Then, you can ravish me every day for as long as you like.”

 

“I don’t know is medical science can extend my life that long Beautiful,” he replied, and he could imagine the smile on her face.

 

“I know what you mean.”

 

Sighing, Tommy pushed the chair back and headed for the refrigerator again. His stomach was getting annoyed at not being fed, and the beer was starting to go to his head. On her end, Kim heard the door of the fridge open and looked at her watch.

 

“Hey, I didn’t realize that you hadn’t eaten. It’s nine here, I probably should do the same and then hit the hay. We have another status meeting in the morning.”

 

“Alright Beautiful. I’ll call you soon, okay?”

 

“Good. I love you Tommy.”

 

“Love you too Kim.”

 

“’night.”

 

Tommy hung up a second after Kim had and reached in to find the leftover Chinese that he hadn’t gotten to since Kim left. Pulling it out, he scooped it into a few microwave save plates and started heating it up. Grabbing another beer, he walked to place the phone back in its cradle and then walked back the kitchen when he heard the microwave beep. With beer and food in hand, he sat back at the table and ate, wondering just how much more complicated things could get and much longer he could handle his life being on opposite ends of the country.

 

August was still a long way off.

 

-End-

 

GO TO CHAPTER 18

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