Always a Ranger - Part 23
A Friend in Need
By Jeannine Trevizo
Once the team had split up after the latest threat, Tommy turned and headed home. After everything that had happened recently, he’d been sidetracked into skipping his calls to Kim. When he got home, he saw the tell tale signs that he had two messages waiting for him as he walked into his living room.
Sighing, he ran a hand through his short locks and picked up the phone without bothering to listen to them. He had a pretty good idea who they were from. Walking to the kitchen, he dialed Kim’s number and cradled the phone to his ear with his shoulder as he opened the refrigerator with one hand, the other reaching in to grab a MGD from his left over stock from his visit with Zack and Adam.
Which reminded him that he still hadn’t called to see if either of them had gotten a job offer from their San Francisco trip.
As Kim’s phone rang, Tommy scrounged the freezer for a frozen pizza and turned on the oven. The life of a bachelor wasn’t the greatest, and while he could cook, cooking for one person wasn’t any fun. Still, he just had to wait until Kim moved in, and his cooking problems would be half solved.
Finally, just as Kim’s machine began to pick up, he heard her frenzied voice on the other end. It was a bit strange, hearing her recorded message and her at the same time. Sort of like a Doublemint gum commercial.
“Tommy? Hold on, I have to turn off the machine,” Kim said as her recorded voice announced she wasn’t available and to leave a message. Finally she returned after a short squelching sound pierced his eardrum as the machine shut off. “Hey there handsome. Where have you been? I’ve called like…”
“A few times,” Tommy interrupted humorously. “I saw there were two messages on the machine, and I’ve been busy so I assumed…”
“That I had called and left a few messages. Yeah, guilty as charged. You know why though…”
“I do, and I’m sorry Kim. We had some stuff going on and I got sidetracked,” Tommy replied, chagrined as he sat at the kitchen table and pried the top off his beer.
“Just like always,” Kim said with a light tone, a smile obvious in it. “Still, I get worried. After the last time you didn’t call…”
“No, actually, Trent’s been keeping himself scarce these days. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.”
“Any luck on breaking the evil imprint on his dino gem?” Kim asked, curious.
“Not that I know of. Hayley’s put it on her list of things to do, but we have had other recent concerns… ones that took precedence since Trent seemed to be out of the picture at the moment.”
“You mean Zeltrax.”
“Come on Kim. You need to look at this from my point of view. If it was me in trouble, and you could keep me safe…” Tommy tried to suggest, hoping that his innate understanding of the woman he loved was still as accurate as it had been for the last nine years.
“I would do what you’re doing now,” Kim said resigned. “God, how do we keep getting into things like this?”
“Well, it helps that I have a uniform these days,” he joked.
“And a very flattering one at that. I’m still looking forward to seeing just how easy it is to take off without unmorphing you know.”
Tommy groaned and licked his lips as he imagined his petite lover doing just that. Before he knew it, his mind was threatening to run away with the images, and he took a long gulp on his beer to cool off his slightly rising temperature and wet his dry mouth. Just then the oven beeped to let him know it had reached the prescribed temperature for his food to begin cooking.
“You are a wicked woman, you know that Kim?” he said as he went and opened the oven, shoving the pizza inside, letting the door slam shut.
“I’ve just been without my lover for too long now,” she answered with a smoky voice that made Tommy wish he could just ignore Mesogog and his plans to change Earth into a dinosaur paradise and run to her.
“I know what you mean.”
“So what had you all sidetracked this week?”
“Kira got an internship with the local TV station, and Mesogog’s thugs kidnapped one of the kiddie show characters to turn into the latest monster.”
“Oh no… but you rescued everybody, right?”
“Don’t we always? But yeah, we did. Unfortunately in the process Kira almost got found out – she forgot there were video surveillance cameras in the room when she morphed,” Tommy explained, taking another sip of his beer and checking his watch to see how much longer he had on his dinner.
“How did you guys make sure no one saw the footage?” Kim asked, surprised that Kira had been so reckless, and then shrugged it off. The new yellow ranger did have that careless trait, just like she did.
“Luck. Devin, one of my students who is also interning at the station had a tape of the surveillance cameras, but he ended up dropping it into a punch bowl.”
“Video tape flavored punch anyone? Ugh.” Kim laughed, and then turned serious. “So once you rescued the TV show person, everything got fixed?”
“Kira was thinking about quitting the internship, but changed her mind. I guess that she decided to stick with it. Sort of like giving the thing a second chance…” Tommy started, and then trailed off as he realized where he was unconsciously heading.
“Tommy, is there something you want to tell me? You can talk to me about anything you know.”
“I told the team about you and me.”
“What do you…”
“Conner asked me about what Hayley said to you about you breaking my heart,” he explained, taking another gulp of his drink and then opening the oven door to peek at his dinner.
“Oh,” she said simply, silence filling up the line for a moment before she continued, “and what did you tell them?”
“That you and I had broken up a long time ago, and that I got luckier than I deserved when we were able to find our way back together.”
“I think we were both lucky,” Kim remarked, her voice filling with the love she felt for this man.
“Well, it’s all in the past anyway. I got my second chance to have you back in my life, and as I told Jason, I wasn’t going to do anything to need a third one.”
Kim laughed on the other end, and as she did, Tommy checked his pizza once again, and seeing the slightly burnt edges, carefully balanced the phone again while he slid on some oven mitts to pull the pie from the oven and set on the counter to cool enough to eat. Shutting off the oven, he pried the phone from his shoulder and went back to the conversation.
“Still Kim, it’s true. I have had so many second chances; being accepted by the team after Rita made me the green ranger, being given the white ranger mantle after losing the green ranger powers, finding my way back to you after all those years… I don’t think I could ask for much more without being greedy.”
“Well, where I’m concerned, you can be as greedy as you like.”
“Sounds good. Speaking of you and greedy, when are you leaving for Greece?”
“The games start August 13th, so we’ll be arriving about five days before that, so we’ll probably leave on the sixth. Why?”
“I just figured I better make sure I clear my calendar for when your stuff should arrive,” he remarked with a smirk as he took a knife of the pizza and started cutting.
“You really want me to ship my things to Reefside before I leave for Greece?”
“I did tell you this before, didn’t I?”
“Yes, but I thought you were joking,” Kim replied soberly, still getting used to the idea that in less than two months she’d be living in Reefside with Tommy *permanently*.
As it was, she hadn’t even figured out what she was going to do about a job when she got there. Or what to do about her furniture, if she should sell it or donate it to charity. And then there was her computer. Should she take that, or just back up her personal information and load it all up on Tommy’s computer… it was a lot of stuff to consider.
“No joke Beautiful. I want you to send out whatever you need to live here before you get on that plane to Athens. I’ll make sure everything finds a place here and then *you’ll* find a place here when you get off the plane from Greece. Deal?”
“I guess… I just have a lot of stuff I have to figure out what to do with.”
“Well, I can tell you that the twin bed is something you *don’t* need to ship.”
On her end of the line, Kim fought a blush and went quiet. As Tommy slid a few pieces of pizza onto a plate and headed back to the kitchen table, he noted that she hadn’t replied to his comment, and that worried him.
“Hmm? Sorry Tommy, I was just thinking of being there, when I’m still here… it’s lonely, you know?” she answered, her voice relating just what she meant.
“Intimately,” he remarked in a near whisper, and they both felt the ache fill them as they longed to close the distance that was part of their everyday life… for the moment.
“Two months handsome…”
“I know,” he said, and then took a bite out of a slice of the pepperoni and sausage pizza, his stomach finally pleased at being fed.
“I love you,” she said, and Tommy felt his heart swell at the soft spoken words.
“I love you too Beautiful.”
“Did I hear you munching something?” Kim suddenly asked, and Tommy realized his attempt at eating and talking hadn’t gone unheard.
“Uh… no?” he tried to bluff, but knew on the other end Kim had to have figured out what he was up to.
“You haven’t eaten, have you?”
“I was trying to, but…”
“Hang up the phone, and eat your food and call me tomorrow,” she insisted.
“But I don’t want to…”
“Tommy, you’re being silly. You have the rest of your life to talk to me.”
“I know, but I miss you,” he responded, hoping his pitiful little boy voice would grant him a slight reprieve.
“I miss you too, but you need to eat.”
Hearing the steely determination in her voice, he sighed and knew he wasn’t going to win this round.
“Alright, I’ll call you tomorrow. Love you Kim.”
“Love you too. I’ll talk to you tomorrow then.”
With that, Kim hung up, and Tommy pressed the button on his phone, hanging up his end of the line. Setting the phone aside, he turned towards the pizza, and quickly ate three pieces, washing them down with the rest of his beer. Another two pieces later and he felt full. Getting up, he dumped the bottle in the trash and rummaged for some foil to wrap the leftover pizza to store for another meal.
As he shoved them into the mostly empty fridge, he was reminded again of the fact that in two months time he’d be sharing this house with Kim. Just that simple thought had him on the edge of bouncing off the walls with happiness. Yet, when he’d always dreamed of living with Kim 24/7, it had always been as husband and wife.
When Kim had sent that letter, that dream had been put on the shelf, only coming back out after they’d made peace after Trini’s funeral and he and Kim had admitted their feelings for one another almost a year ago now. It hadn’t become such a big deal until he’d put her on the plane after that first visit, and now, after knowing that Kim had been thinking in the same general terms, he knew that soon he was going to have to ask her.
Which still terrified him.
For a man who had seen what he had seen, done what he’d done and been who he was, to be afraid of asking the woman who had always been in his hear to marry him simply scared him shitless. What if she said no?
But why would she say that? She had all but admitted that she wanted to be married to him months ago. And from the times they’d seen each other and their calls and e-mails, nothing in her attitude suggested that had changed. All he had to do was figure out how to do it.
Which brought him to where he was now… knowing that someday soon he was going to have to ask. Except he had no idea what to say.
And he didn’t have a ring…
“Damn,” he said out loud to his empty house.
Who could he ask for help?
The same person he always asked when he couldn’t talk to Kim, he reminded himself. Grabbing another beer from the fridge, he popped it open and took a long swallow as he picked up the phone in his free hand and headed to the computer desk and his address book. Setting the beer and phone down, he flipped through the book and after a few seconds he found what he was looking for. Phone in one hand, he punched in the number with the other. As the line ran on the other end, he brought the phone up to his ear and waited to see if he got a human being or the answering machine.
“Talk to me,” said a male voice, and Tommy let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.
“Tommy! Hey bro, what’s news?” Jason asked, curious at his friend’s out of the blue call.
“Not much. I just wanted to check in.”
At Tommy’s words, Jason felt his eyebrows raise and skepticism fill him. He’d known Tommy for over nine years now, and for as much as they were best friends and brothers in all but blood, he couldn’t remember more than a few times that Tommy called for no reason. Of course, the hesitancy in his friend’s voice told him what he really needed to know - his friend had a reason for calling and was stalling.
“Come on Tommy. I know you better than that. What’s going on?”
“I have something to ask you,” Tommy said, grabbing the bottle and taking a long gulp to grant him courage to ask his friend his advise on this issue.
“What do you know about picking out engagement rings?”
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