A Higher Calling
Kimberly Hart sat at the desk in the borrowed office and stared at the blank white sheet.
She really didn’t know how to begin this.
As it was, she really didn’t know how to explain what had happened to her since arriving in Florida, or how to make Tommy understand why she needed to let him go…
So she tapped the pen on the hard wood surface, trying to think of the right things to say. Finally, she set the point of the pen to the paper, and started off simply.
Angel Grove, CA
Six months later
It had taken everything within her to get on the plane and come back.
She more than likely wouldn’t have if Marie hadn’t put her foot down and insisted she go back where she really belonged. As it was, she wasn’t quite sure what she was coming home to. With her family gone and the team changed, she had no real place. Until she could figure things out, she’d booked a room at the local extended stay hotel with the credit card her mom had given her before leaving for Paris.
Checking in would come later… right now she needed to find everyone. Actually, to be honest, she had to find Tommy.
There were plenty of places to look, but on a hot July afternoon the hang out would usually be the Juice Bar. A cool smoothie and good friends helped make the day g by easier. Hefting her bags, she made her way to the taxi stand at the airport and dropped them to the pavement beside the first yellow cab she found.
The man quickly got out and made his way over, lifting the two bags of clothes into the trunk. Once they were stowed, Kim got into the cab, the driver following. Once he was behind the wheel, she told him where she wanted to go.
The ride there was too quick in her opinion, and far too soon she was standing before the front of the community center/juice bar/teen hangout, etc. And the place where Kim had destroyed the man she loved.
Sighing, she paid the driver and headed inside.
As she entered the juice bar, she felt the room stop, even if people kept moving around her. The people that she cared about had frozen in their tracks, and she knew there was a lot of explaining she had to do. But for now…
“Kim!” Adam called out, having noticed the petite brunette at the door.
Without a second thought, Kim dropped her things inside the main part of the center and headed towards Adam, letting him hug her as she hugged him back.
It was so good to be back.
Rocky was there next and he gave her a bear hug that made her ribs ache.
Kat joined them, an African American girl that wasn’t Aisha with her. Kim looked at her successor with surprise, trying to figure out what the expression on the blonde’s face was. As well, she hoped someone would introduce…
“Sorry Kim, this is Tanya. She took Aisha’s place… it’s a long story,” Rocky explained in little detail.
“Nice to meet you.”
“Kim? This is Kimberly?” Tanya said, looking from the newcomer to where Kat stood beside her.
Again Kim was confused, but there was more than enough time to understand what was going on when she finished taking with Tommy. Who…
“Guys, not that I’m not thrilled to see you all, but I need to see Tommy. Where…”
“At the race track. He’s driving for his uncle John,” Adam said, his mouth forming a small smile. Maybe…
“Could you keep an eye on my things. I’ll be back.”
With that Kim gave them all a hug and hurried out to the street to get a cab to the track.
There wasn’t much really interesting about turning left all day, but the speed of the race car made Tommy feel a little closer to the exhilaration that he got back when he was morphed. But it was a poor substitute for the way the power of his different coins or crystals had made him feel.
And how loving Kim had been.
He growled under his breath and pushed his foot down harder on the accelerator. He was not going to start this again. He’d taken the job with his uncle to allow him to travel and keep his mind off not being a ranger and not having Kim in his life. Instead all it had done was make him miss it all more than he had imagined.
As he made another lap, he saw a small blur by the pit… someone must have come through the underground tunnel out to see his uncle.
Except the form, the color, the walk of the person…
Damn it, he swore under his breath, he was not going to start hallucinating that she was there again…
“Tommy, you have company. Why don’t you bring it in,” said his uncle’s voice over his helmet’s headset.
Tommy jolted and nearly pulled the car in tight left at 120 mph. Hurriedly he eased back on the gas and then slowly lapped the tack twice before easing in towards the pit, the vision of someone long since gone getting clearer as he did.
When he finally pulled into the pit, he waited just long enough for the crew to get the mesh off the window before hauling himself from the car. Maybe he had started to lose his mind, that he’d been thinking too hard about her, and now he was imagining seeing her here when she really was in Florida with that other guy…
Instead, as he pulled the red helmet off, he found the girl that had haunted him for the last six months standing there, in the flesh. Quite a bit of flesh, as he noted the blue jean shorts and pink tank top she wore. He unzipped the top of his jumpsuit, stopping as he got to the middle of his chest and pulling the sides apart slightly, as if the simple act would help him breathe better, when the reason he was nearly panting was due to the vision before him.
Kim watched him, still overcome by the sight of him after so long. The red was new, but she had the feeling that from the color changes in the Juice Bar on their friends that things had changed again. She only had to wonder if things had changed too much…
The silence was deafening and it was Uncle John that broke it.
“So, Tommy, this Kimberly said she knew you… hey, you okay?”
“Yeah Uncle John, I’m okay. It’s…”
“I’ve surprised him,” Kim said suddenly, nearly making Tommy jump. “He wasn’t expecting me.”
“Well then, the guys and I will check on the car and give you two some time to catch up.”
With that, John and his team headed to the vehicle that Tommy had just been speeding around the track and began to check under the hood, under the carriage and anywhere else that some kind of damage or problem could have occurred. And while they were far enough away that they weren’t right on them, they were still too close for Kim to feel comfortable talking to Tommy.
“Is there someplace we can talk?” she asked, her voice soft, as if pleading for his understanding already.
Someplace to talk… Tommy tried not to laugh as he looked around the empty bleachers that surrounded the track and them and then he nodded. Leading the way, he headed them to the closest set of stands, in the shade where getting into the cement barricade would be easier.
Pushing the small door in the heavy concrete, Tommy moved along the corridor until they came up into the aluminum seating. He headed towards the closest bench almost in a fog as he tried to comprehend the fact that Kim was there, following him. Once he sat down, Kim followed suit. She watched him, feeling the confusion and agitation coming off him in waves.
Had she lost her chance to make things right?
Kim sat before him, and Tommy watched her closely. She was nervous, and he didn’t know why. Hell, he had no idea what the hell was going on. She wanted to talk…
“So, you want to talk? About what?” he said in a strangled, hard voice.
“The letter Tommy. The break up…”
She saw the look of surprise appear on his face and took a deep breath.
“Is there anything really left to say?”
“Yes… there’s a lot. I have to tell you what happened and then explain why it all doesn’t matter anymore.”
He looked confused, and she had to say that she understood. She really didn’t understand why she’d done what she’d done anymore either…
“After I got to Florida, things got tough. I was working hard, and I spent a lot of time alone and missing Angel Grove and everyone. I’d been staying with this other girl, Carla at the dorms and she had asked me to start going places with her, if for nothing else but for the company… we were both feeling left out. So, one Sunday morning, she invited me to mass with her at a local Catholic church. And that’s where it started.”
“You mean you met the other guy there,” he stated flatly.
Kim fought not to laugh, but simply smiled sadly.
“In a way. But not the kind of guy you’re thinking of. My mom had been Catholic, but not practicing. And I hadn’t been to church for a long, long time. So we went every Sunday, and I left there feeling better about myself and everything than I did the rest of the time. It was there I met Sister Marie Katherine.”
Tommy looked up in surprise. He was expecting a man’s name, not a nun…
“She said she had noticed us there regularly, and we got to talking. She ended up inviting me to an outreach program the sisters of the local convent ran on Saturdays. I went, and I found myself immersed in helping the needy. After that first time, I made a point to come every week, and the sisters got used to me being there. I gained a lot of self-respect that I was losing daily by being in Coach’s program. And finally I realized that I didn’t want to lose the feeling of doing god, of helping people by focusing all my energy on gymnastics.”
Kim paused, hoping that she had the courage inside to finally explain what had truly happened in Florida.
“And so… I went to the Mother Superior of the convent and told her I wanted to join the order.”
That statement brought Tommy up short, and his mouth nearly fell open. His eyes closed briefly and he stared at her for a long minute before he could even form a question let alone push it past his lips.
“Wait… you left me to be a nun?”
Seeing the shock, the hurt in his face, Kim bowed her head slightly, trying to keep from crying as she gathered herself to reply. She bit her lip and then looked up to meet Tommy’s brown eyes.
“I did… I thought, I was sure that I was meant for a higher purpose. The whole concept of devoting myself to the service of God and to the church and good works was just so appealing. And so I knew that if I was going to join the order that I’d have to leave you… so I wrote the letter.”
Tommy started laughing, his eyes watering as he realized where Kim had been coming from now, when she’d written the letter. He was “like a brother”. That he’d “really like him”. Kim had been talking about God… and beginning to associate all people as her brothers and sisters in the church. She watched him in shock… he was laughing? Finally he got himself under control and took a deep breath before continuing to ask her the questions he’d needed answers to for the last six months.
“Why didn’t you tell me the truth?”
“And say what? That you’d lost me to Jesus?” she replied flatly, and he grimaced.
He had to admit that now his rage and jealousy towards Kim’s unknown new man was more than misplaced. She’d never really met a man of flesh and blood… that person had been a figment of his imagination. Her real suitor had been spiritual… but she wasn’t with him…
“But you’re here,” he finally commented, shaking his head as the realization hit him that his Kim should be dressed in a black habit and in a Florida convent right now, rather than sitting with him in Angel Grove. “Shouldn’t you be in a convent or something?”
Kim wrung her hands. She hated to admit the rest of it, but if she had any chance at salvaging her friendship, maybe her relationship with this man, she had to come clean.
“I should be, but I’m not planning on taking the vows any longer.”
“Why? I thought…” he stammered, lost now with everything that had hit him in the last twenty minutes.
“Sister Marie, my sponsor in the order sat me down a few weeks ago,” Kim began, looking at him intently as she prepared to tell him exactly why she wasn’t becoming a nun and why she was back, “and asked me some tough questions. She wanted to know about my life before Florida.”
“What did you tell her?”
“Just about my parents, Angel Grove, my friends… you. This was the first chance after months of being in Florida, having to focus on my gymnastics and not think about how lonely it was that I’d spoken to anyone about my old life. I’d been bottling up my feelings about life here, in Angel Grove, about my friends and you and I, because facing them or speaking about them just made the ache worse. As I spoke to her, at length, she got this funny look on her face. When I finally couldn’t keep talking without feeling like there was something wrong, I stopped and asked her about it, and she laughed at me.”
Tommy shook his head as if trying to clear the cobwebs. None of it made any sense…
“She said that I didn’t need the love and contentment the church would give me, because it sounded to her like I already had it, and then she pushed me for more about you.”
“Me?” he asked, realizing that all he’d been doing was asking questions since she’d first arrived.
“Yes you. I guess… I, I really hadn’t been honest with her, with myself even about how much I still cared about you. And as she asked me more and more questions and I kept answering, and I found myself wondering what I was doing.”
“What are you doing?” he nearly whispered, feeling a stirring of hope in his chest at her presence there, but she didn’t answer him or didn’t hear him and simply kept explaining herself.
“Sister Marie told me that I wasn’t supposed to be there. That even at seventeen, the love that I had for you was obviously stronger than my dedication to the church, and that I was destined for a different higher calling. So… here I am.”
“She sent you back to Angel Grove… to me?”
They sat there, suspended in the moment.
“Of course, she didn’t know that I had destroyed every chance I had for you and I to make things work again. I didn’t explain how cold I had been in the letter to you…”
Kim’s eyes darted up to Tommy’s face, the shock shown there making him smile.
“What did you just call me?”
“I called you Beautiful. Because the truth is that even after I got that damn letter, I always knew, deep down that you really hadn’t left me. And that I’d get the chance to fix things with you. And now that I know I never really lost you… Kim, I have always loved you, and I still love you. If you told me you wanted to come back…”
“You know I do…”
He held out his arms to her and Kimberly fell into them. Once she was enveloped in his arms, she felt that contentment that she’d tried to substitute with service to the church… but it wasn’t like this.
“I love you Tommy,” she whispered against his chest, and felt his arms tighten around her even more.
After what seemed hours, they finally eased apart form one another, meeting the other’s gaze with a smile.
“I guess that means I’m yours again,” Kim remarked with a grin as she stood up, taking Tommy’s hands in hers and guiding him to his feet as well.
As he got to his feet, his arm quickly went around Kim’s waist and he carefully guided them to the steps of the bleachers and down towards the door to the track.
“That it does. Just promise me one thing though,” Tommy said as they headed back to the pit where his uncle waited for them.
“Can we make sure we keep God out of our relationship for the rest of our lives?” he said with a teasing smirk.
Kim laughed and nodded, letting him pull her tighter against his side… the place that she really did belong.
Yeah… I know, silly. And to prove just how more silly it could have been, here’s ScarletDiva’s challenge:
[Kimberly and Tommy's breakup is probably the most famed point of Ranger history. Everyone has their own theory for the Letter. Unfortunately the theories have grown stale and unoriginal.
Terms of the challenge:
-The Letter has to be the central focus
-The reason behind it must be totally outrageous or absurd (See following list for ideas)
-Tommy and Kim must end up together in the end
-The fic cannot be absurd. Make the weird believable.
List of reasons:
-Billy and Kim switched bodies again...
-Kim had an accident which caused an epiphany and decided she had to join a pacifist nudist colony and break all ties to the violent, dressed people she knows.
-There was a freak accident that sent Kim 500 years into the future and the person she was working with sent the Letter so that no one would go looking for her and they wouldn't get in trouble.
-Kim discovered she's a hardcore domme and thought Tommy was too soft for her.
Everyone please feel free to suggest your own absurd reasons.]
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