Always a Ranger - Part 8

Home is Where the Hart is

By Jeannine Trevizo

 

 

 

I can’t begin to describe how restless I am as I stand at the edge of the metal and fabric barricade dividing the gate area with the central part of the waiting area at Surfside airport. With the new policies about security screening, I can’t wait at the gate like the old days. There was a moment, okay, a few minutes, where I contemplated using my invisibility to just walk up there. But habits die hard, and using my powers to get a little closer to the gate isn’t a good excuse to break the rules of having power.

 

So I continue to wait and stare and feel nervous as hell. Still, there are some things you’re willing to put up with for the sake of love and romance.

 

Yeah, I’m waiting for Kim. Finally… unfortunately it’s not for good though.

 

We had a long talk after she got back from D.C. I told her about my recent ranger events and relayed Jase’s comments about us. She reported that the team had done well with the press events, and that the coaches and athletes were being given a three-day weekend, coinciding with the end of spring break.

 

The words were out of my mouth before the thought even registered in my head.

 

“Then get on a plane and come out here for the weekend.”

 

Kim, in her infinite wisdom complained that she didn’t know if she could afford it. I offered to pay. And no, I am not independently wealthy now. By teaching high school, almost all of my student loans have been waived, so I took out a small loan to float the cost of the ticket. Besides, I couldn’t wait to see her any longer.

 

After another half hour of discussion, including what the weather in Reefside was like, I finally convinced her to come out for the weekend. I called up the local travel agency with the times and locations Kim had given me, and got her booked on the first flight into Surfside Regional Airport and the last flight back that she could reasonably take and get to work Monday morning. They FedExed the ticket to the training camp, and she e-mailed me when she got them.

 

That was three days ago, and now, I’m standing here, waiting for her to get off the plane and come down to the mass waiting area on the other side of the security gates.

 

Its really ironic, don’t you think, that after nearly eight years I’m finally picking my girl up from the airport after putting her on a plane for the other side of the country.

 

I glance at my watch and tap my hiking boot clad foot a bit. The plane should have landed ten minutes ago. Where was she? I tug self-consciously at my clothes – black jeans & t-shirt and my old brown leather bomber jacket. My hand follows that path to my hair, and then slides down to the slight beard I’m sort of cultivating for that older, yet hip teacher look. I don’t think I had it last time we saw each other. I hope she doesn’t mind.

 

My mind is lost in thought of having her complain about it, and my willingly shaving it off, changing my clothes and selling everything I own to please her when I hear a loud shout from a voice I recognize better than my own.

 

“Tommy!”

 

The next moment I’m trying to keep my balance as 105 pounds of Kimberly fly from the walkway coming from the gates and straight into my arms. Not that I’m complaining, but I really wasn’t expecting such an enthusiastic reception. Okay, I was hoping, but I didn’t expect it.

 

“Hey Beautiful,” I reply, and then decide to hell with it, I need this, and pull her into me and kiss her passionately, still standing in the middle of the walkway, people having to go around us as we get lost in each other after so long.

 

Air deprivation is the only reason I break the kiss, and I refuse to let her out of my grasp. Of course, I notice she’s not trying to get away either. I look down on that lovely face, the smile and those eyes, and I have to remind myself to keep breathing.

 

She’s here.

 

“Hi handsome. Miss me?” she asks in that sultry tone I’ve been hearing a lot more of these days, and I feel my jeans get a bit tighter as I carefully lower her feet to the ground. This is not the place to ravish her. I have a perfectly good bedroom at home for that.

 

“More than you could possibly imagine,” I reply softly, pulling a hand from its place on her back to frame her cheek. “So, where’s your luggage? Or did you decide that you didn’t need clothes on this trip?”

 

I leer at her, and she takes one of her hands that had been locked behind my neck to smack me good upside the head. Okay, I deserved that. But damn, am I hoping that she didn’t pack…

 

“I had to check it. The new size restrictions and all.”

 

“You’re here for two days Kim. What did you pack that had to be checked?”

 

“Hey, I’m a woman! Did you expect me to come with one shirt, a pair of jeans and a dress and be done with it?” she mock argues.

 

We laugh at that, and I feel my heart start to beat a bit faster. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that I was starved for Kimberly contact. But we’ve been talking almost every other day so it can’t be that. However, the fact that she’s here now, in my arms like she belongs seems to be a real powerful reason for my heart to be pounding in my chest.

 

“Fine. You packed like a girl, now we have to take the time to get your bag from the carousel. I hope you’re happy.”

 

She snuggles into my side, a perfect fit as always and grins.

 

“Yes, I’m happy.”

 

I don’t miss the subtext of her words. “Me too.”

 

With that, we’re off to the baggage area, my arm tightly plastered to her body as she keeps herself tucked against me. Somehow we make our way without tripping over anyone or anything, get her bag and get out of the airport. I toss her bag in the back of the jeep, and open her door for her. Once we’re both in, I’m on the road and on the way to the house. The early evening air whips at Kim’s brown hair, and I grip the steering wheel tighter to keep from reaching over and running my fingers through it.

 

Just get her in the house, and then you can ask if you can worship her as you peel off each stitch of clothing she has on.

 

Of course, that plan gets complicated as Kim reaches over and puts her hand on my knee. I barely stop from jerking the wheel at the shock of her touch. Somehow though, I keep the course and pull into the drive with a screech of the tires. Reaching behind me, I grab Kim’s bag and clamor out of the jeep. Kim doesn’t wait for me this time, and is out and next to me before I can move more than two steps around the front of the car.

 

“The pictures made it look bigger,” she says, nodding towards the house.

 

“Its charm is only outweighed by its undersized water heater.”

 

“I guess we’ll have to shower together to make sure we both get hot water then.”

 

Okay, that’s it. I can’t wait any longer. I grab Kim’s hand, haul her along with me, dropping her bag at the door as I fight left-handed to open the door. As it swings open, I shove her bag inside with my foot, pull her inside, slam the door shut and then push her against it, my mouth on hers in seconds.

 

I realize I’m being caveman-like, but damn, I can’t believe that she’s here, finally, and that there’s a long-term future in the picture after all these years. I know I’m probably assuming a lot, and should have been a little more polite about this, but the way that Kim just hooked her legs around me, and is pulling my head down to her forcefully tells me that we’re on the same wavelength here.

 

My hands move from their previous positions and I lift Kim slightly up the door, her ass in my hands, and her feet settle beneath my butt. Wrenching one hand away as I secure her to the door with my weight, I reach up to caress her face, then work my way to her cotton covered shoulder, then down to the curve of her breast as I think about every make out session that got interrupted during our high school days by putties or monsters or something else equally nasty. I can only hope that Mesogog doesn’t decided to reestablish that tradition.

 

A moan in my mouth focuses me back on Kim’s immediate reaction to my hand’s new location, and I realize that we’re going to finally make love. We never had the courage to do it back in high school, weren’t ready to move that direction after we got back in contact after Trini’s funeral, and never had the opportunity to consummate our relationship during our last meeting when we admitted that we still loved each other. Our timing has always been wrong.

 

But is it still wrong?

 

I pull back suddenly, and Kimberly opens her eyes and stares at me questioningly. God, I have *never* seen the look in her eyes that I see there now. Now I really don’t want to ask this…

 

“Are you sure about this Beautiful?” I ask in a barely controlled lust-filled voice, carefully lowering her to the floor and releasing her as every cell in my body screams at me to stop being stupid and take her now. “I mean, this is only for the weekend, until you make a decision if you want to make a life out here, with me and all…”

 

Kim shuts me up with a heated kiss that has my head spinning. Her hands reach down to find mine, and she pulls them back around her waist.

 

“I love you Tommy Oliver. When everything gets settled, we’ll be together. So let’s start the new phase of our relationship tonight… I think we’ve waited long enough,” she intoned, smiling that megawatt grin at me that always melted my heart.

 

With Kim’s blessing, I pull her along with me as I back up towards my bedroom.

 

------

 

I woke to the smell of eggs and bacon.

 

Rolling over, I jolted as I realized I was alone. But the sounds coming from the kitchen told me I wasn’t truly alone. Scrounging around the pile of *our* clothes that still clutter the floor, I throw on my underwear and jeans and pad out to see what my Hart is up to.

 

Funny but after her being here for less than a day, this house feels more like my home than it ever has. Of course you know what they say – home is where the Hart is. I smile as I stand at the doorframe and find Kim cooking at the stove, her hands moving from one pan to another, her head turning every once in a while towards the toaster. As I quietly make my way into the kitchen, the toast pops up, and I decide she needs some help.

 

Just before she grabs it, I reach out and catch her by the waist. She jumps slightly, and turns with spatula in hand. I find that smile on her face again, and can’t help but return it.

 

“You ditched me,” I whine as I lean down to kiss her lightly. “I thought I’d been dreaming.”

 

“I couldn’t sleep. It’s nearly noon my time,” she replies, kissing me back, but her kiss is deeper, and I have to fight the desire to make her my breakfast rather than eat all this food she’s made.

 

“I don’t remember stocking all this.”

 

“You must have planned having breakfast in bed this weekend. Not that I’m complaining.”

 

I shrug. I guess my memory still can be Swiss cheese sometimes, especially when it was preoccupied with getting *Kimberly* into said bed.

 

With that, Kim pulled my arms loose, and guided me to a chair as she went back to the stove. The next thing I knew, a plate filled with food sat before me. Eggs and bacon, the way I like them, and toast with jam.

 

She was going to spoil me.

 

From there, the rest of the day went by in a blur. After breakfast, we got cleaned up – saving hot water of course, and got dressed for a day out. We drove down to the beach, walked and hit the water. It was like old times, except we were so much closer than we’d ever been before. That evening, we had dinner in. I really didn’t want to go out and share her with a bunch of people in some noisy restaurant. So I ordered in Chinese, we sat on the floor with the boxes spread out around us, ate and watched Jeopardy.

 

I can’t remember when I last felt this content.

 

After I made a mess of myself… chopsticks are not easy to eat with, no matter what some people say, Kim and I cleaned up and settled in on the couch for a quiet evening alone. She turned to look up at me, I looked down on her, and the next thing we knew, lips were locked, hands were roaming, and we somehow ended back in my bedroom.

 

We did our level best to destroy the bed – sheets and pillows went flying and we ended up moving the bed in our *ahem* enthusiasm about a foot from the wall. Not that either of us complained. Spent and happy, we tugged the blanket over us and curled up to fall asleep, my arms wrapped around my best friend, lover and one true love.

 

------

 

Saturday morning I was determined to do the cooking, so I had set the alarm clock so I could serve Kim breakfast in bed. Luckily for me, I slammed the thing off just before it went off, allowing Kim to simply roll over and continue to sleep as I tossed on my sweats and a t-shirt so I could not burn myself as I attempted to make us some food.

 

It wasn’t as early as it could have been, and my food making skills are a bit lacking, but I was able to make acceptable pancakes with syrup and some more bacon and eggs. Using a cookie sheet for a tray to cart in the food, I carefully made my way into the bedroom and set our breakfast on the end table. Snuggled under the blanket, I watched Kim sleep on. I must have tired her out…

 

Staring at her, I couldn’t help the wave of emotion that washed over me. We were finally together… in every way possible. She was sharing my, *our* bed, we were spending our days and nights together doing just normal things and there weren’t any curfews or parents to tell us we were too young to really be in love.

 

The only hard part was going to be letting her get on that plane tomorrow morning. 

 

But even with that fact, I was sure that Kim was only leaving for a little while. I still had plenty of time between her leaving for the games and when she’d be ready to make a decision, a commitment to our relationship. Even if this had only been a short, wonderful interlude to be followed by more months alone, I could bear it because I had this moment in time to keep me going until we could really live like this day in and day out.

 

The smell of bacon makes my stomach growl, and I decided it’s time for slumbering ex-rangers to wake up. With a gentle caress, I run a finger along her cheek, and her eyes slowly slide open. A second later, a sleepy smile greets me as she shoves the covers away slightly.

 

“Morning,” she says, running a hand through her tousled hair somewhat self-consciously.

 

“How’d you sleep Beautiful?”

 

“Too good. I don’t know how I’m going to fall asleep without you anymore.”

 

My heart seems to have found its way to my throat, and I swallow hard. I decide humor is the best way to go to cover my out of control emotions.

 

“You’re just going to miss having a big bed,” I reply, brushing my hand along her face again. “And being served breakfast in bed.”

 

She smiles and reaches behind her to shove the pillow up against the headboard. I scoot a bit farther onto the bed with her and place the tray between us. Her eyes light up as she sees my attempt at her favorite breakfast food.

 

“Pancakes!” she says happily. “Are they edible?”

 

“Hey! I can cook some stuff. I tested one before I came in. It was good.”

 

That statement gets me a look that says she’s not sure if she believes me, but reaches for a fork anyway. I poured enough syrup on the stack before I came in to be just under obscene, and as she puts a sticky bite full in her mouth, I think naughty thoughts about Kim covered in said syrup…

 

“Mmm, it’s yummy,” she mumbles around a mouthful as she chews.

 

I take that as a good sign, and start to join in. We eat until the plates are mostly clean, occasionally feeding the other. This is bar none, one of the most erotic experiences of my life, and I can’t wait until I can do this with her on a regular basis.  Once finished, I turn and dump the dishes in the sink and hit the shower alone, while Kim fusses over her wardrobe. She didn’t pack a huge suitcase, and I think that she’s regretting not having more choices of things to wear.

 

I guess some things never change.

 

After a shower and some clean clothes, I waited for Kim to finish up. Figuring I had plenty of time, I went down to the ‘command center’, and checked on any new activities. I’m just calling up the area around where the rangers had found the original crystals on the monitor when a pair of arms circle my neck.

 

“Do I have to drag you away from duty, or are you going to come quietly?”

 

Smiling, I turn in the chair to find Kimberly smiling at me, all decked out in a pink sundress, reminiscent of our days in Angel Grove. Luckily it was a bit longer and less see-thru than what she would have worn in the day. Of course, she usually had a leotard underneath, but still…

 

“If the reward is being with you, I’ll gladly come quietly. Even if you don’t,” I smirk, hinting on the previous night’s activities in what I now consider to be *our* bed.

 

“Don’t get too smug Mr. Oliver. I seem to remember someone begging last night, and it wasn’t me.”

 

The next thing I knew my face was feeling as red as my old uniform. Damn… that was just not fair.

 

“Okay, truce,” I said, pulling her closer to me, nearly making her sit on my knees. “What do we do today?”

 

“Well, you’ve been bragging on Reefside being a nice place to live, trying to tempt me into moving here, so how about a walking tour of downtown. I promise not to spend all your money.”

 

I laugh and stand her up as I turn to shut everything down. Behind me, I note that she’s looking over some of the gadgets that Hayley’s been working on and I wonder if she is curious or if she misses it. Instead of asking, I just get up and come over to rest my hands on her shoulders. She turns and I smile at the sight of her.

 

“Let’s go.”

 

It doesn’t take long to get from the house to the main downtown area. I drive us there in less than fifteen minutes, intent on showing Kim the sights, such are they are. I park the jeep at the end of the street and jump out to get her door.

 

Walking hand in hand, we pass shop after shop. I guess time has dulled the shopaholic in her, and Kim only drags me in a few places, when it would have been almost every one. We’re just turning the corner towards the cybercafé when the wind picks up and the sound of thunder cracks through the air.

 

Not now, I think helplessly.

 

Kim and I both look up to see the black and green portal start to form above us, lightning crackling from its center. Before we can move, the space opens up and Tyrano-drones drop from the portal overhead. I fight panic for a moment as ten, maybe twelve Tyrano-drones huddle before Kim and I, and I drop into fighting stance instinctively.

 

“Kim, get the hell out of here!” I shout, hoping I can keep them busy while she gets clear.

 

“No way!” she yells back, coming up next to me, slipping into a battle ready position in the spot that has always rightly been hers. “I’ve kicked bad guy ass for years. Just because I’ve been out of the game for a while, don’t think I can’t handle myself now.”

 

Angry yet secretly pleased, I vow to make sure that we both get out of this in one piece, and brace myself for the attack. Suddenly, I hear three additional voices from behind us.

 

“Looks like they’ve got you outnumbered. Need some help?” says Conner, coming up along my left side.

 

“Yeah, that’s just not fair. You’d think they’d have something better to do on a Saturday afternoon,” comments Ethan, at Conner’s right.

 

“Obviously, they don’t know when two is company and a crowd isn’t welcome,” quips Kira, who I notice has arrived next to Kimberly. The two share a look, and I think again of how similar they are, even with so many teams and years separating them.

 

That’s the last of those thoughts as the first of the Tyrano-drones surges forward and attacks me straight on. I block, then throw a chop at the closest one’s neck, then spin into a back kick then come back to center. I break my focus for a second to see Kimberly do a back flip, her feet catching the Tyrano-drone flying backwards, and she lands, twists, and comes up to block a lunge by another Tyrano-drone.

 

Inwardly I smile. I guess once a ranger, always a ranger is true for all of us, not just me.

 

Around me, I note Kira, Conner and Ethan holding their own, taking the fight to the enemy. Conner and Ethan are really getting the hang of this. I see Ethan block one attack, and then use his ‘armor’ to bash another attacker. Conner zips past one enemy, punches another, then gets out of the way so fast that the fist meant for him hits a Tyrano-drone square in the face. I start to take on the renewed advance on my position, when I hear a pun from a familiar voice.

 

“Eat fist spike face.”

 

I see Kim surrounded by at least three of them. Quickly I decide that I need to get over there, even if I might bruise her ex-ranger ego with a rescue.

 

With a bit of concentration, I disappear from sight, the Tyrano-drones that were attacking me stop dead in their tracks, confused. I weave carefully through the fighting to arrive just as a blow starts to come towards Kim from behind. She starts to try and twist to avoid it when I rematerialize and block the blow.

 

“Need some help?” I ask in my best leader voice. With a shove, I fling the Tyrano-drone away, knocking one of his pals with him.

 

“Nice trick,” she comments, backhanding the nearest bad guy to her. “Must come in handy at surprise parties.”

 

I laugh, and launch into an attack on two that are heading our way, left over from my disappearing act. Kim’s covers my back, just like in the old days. I speed out, and whirl into a sweep kick, bringing the advancing two to the ground, then spring up and catch a third with a snap kick to the chest, sending him sprawling.

 

I turn to see Kira let loose with a pterodactyl scream, sending the Tyrano-drones into spasms. Kim, the team and I nearly buckle under the sound too, but either we’re used to it a bit more or since Kim didn’t go down with the Tyrano-drones, maybe as rangers we have better immunity to ranger powers. I’m not sure, but it’s enough to turn the tide and they start a retreat.

 

Then I feel the air start to feel heavy again, and the portal opens again, with the defeated Tyrano-drones making for it as fast as their feet can carry them. We make a point of beating the shit out of them until the last one is running in fear from us.

 

“You still know how to show a girl a good time,” Kim quips as the last of the Tyrano-drones escapes the way they showed up, the portal closing and the sky turning blue again.

 

“What can I say, I always was big on the cheap entertainment,” I fire back, and happily take her hand in mine, refraining from pulling her to me and kissing her in front of Ethan, Kira and Conner.

 

“So, what’s up Dr. O? You’re letting civilians fight the bad guys now?” Ethan asks, having missed Kim and my bantering and without really looking at Kim.

 

I look at him like he’s stupid, and he looks at her along with the others. I know Kim hasn’t changed that much, so I stand there and wait as they take a good, long look and process who she is. My bright students don’t take long.

 

“Oh my god!” Ethan shouts, realizing who the ‘civilian’ real is. “You’re Kimberly!”

 

“Oh please, like you didn’t realize that until just now?” complains Kira, smirking at her predecessor. “The way she kicked Tyrano-drone butt? That was old school ranger, all the way.”

 

“So are you here to see Dr. O for the weekend, or are you here for good?” asks Conner.

 

Her eyes fly to mine, and I hate the look I see there. She so wishes she could say that she was here permanently, but she can’t. I know Beautiful, I wish you could stay now too.

 

“No, just the weekend,” Kim answers finally focusing on the rangers again. “The team got some time off, and Tommy asked if I would come out for a few days.”

 

“This is so cool!” Ethan gushed, hurrying over to offer his hand to Kim. She lets go of mine to shake his. “I’m Ethan. We spoke on the phone. I’m glad to finally meet you.”

 

“He is a Zack/Billy combination, isn’t he?” Kim shoots my way, and I wince a bit. The team didn’t know I was comparing them to *our* team, and I don’t know how they’d take that.

 

“I guess that your visit wouldn’t have been complete without being greeted by the welcoming committee,” Conner states as he comes up to stand by Ethan.

 

“You must be Conner,” Kim notes, taking his hand and smiling. “What can I say, even us ex-rangers have a habit of running into trouble. Besides, it’s not like you guys don’t have the bad guys drop in on you whenever they like.”

 

I notice the team is truly entranced, and I remember that Kim seemed to always have that way with people. Making them like being around her. Seems some things never change. Including this.

 

“And you’re Kira,” Kim states as she stares at the girl that wears a version of her uniform in Trini’s color. I recognize the smile she gives Kira. It’s tinged by memory and not all of it good.

 

“I have so many things I want to ask you,” Kira says, bringing Kim’s attention back to her and out of whatever memory she’d fallen into.

 

“How about we walk over to the cybercafé and grab some drinks and sit. This sounds like this may take a while,” I suggest, taking Kim’s hand again, needing the contact.

 

The new rangers nod and turn, heading as fast as their feet can take them. I realize that they’re really looking forward to getting the dish from Kim. I don’t know if my rep will survive whatever Kim tells them.

 

“They’re your students too, right?” Kim asks as we walk hand in hand slowly to the front of the café. Hayley seems to have the closed sign up, but I see the others inside already.

 

“Yeah. Be prepared for the least tactful, embarrassing questions they could throw at you about us. They are teens, remember?”

 

“I work with that age group every day. Besides, what are you so afraid of? My telling them about the time you were so scared of asking me out that Zack beat you three straight practice karate rounds?”

 

“He did what?” Ethan exclaimed from the red velvet couch that he and Conner had claimed as their own. I hadn’t realized we’d come through the door already…

 

“Slight distraction, on account of teenaged romance,” Kim supplies as she settles into the couch next to Kira, and I perch on the arm of the sofa.

 

“Is the place closed?” I ask suddenly, thinking some delicate topics are on the agenda that we don’t want everybody to hear.

 

“Hayley was just closing up, so she asked us to lock up for her,” Kira stated.

 

I shrug and sigh. I guess Kim will have to meet Hayley some other time. Its funny, I would have thought she would have stayed a minute or two longer so she could meet Kim…

 

“So, you and Dr. O did the dating thing back in AG?” Kira asks, her face nearly giddy.

 

“Yes. We dated for about, oh, two years or so…”

 

“Closer to three,” I interject, and get everyone’s astonished gaze pointed at me. “Hey, if you’re going to ask the question, you should get the right answer.”

 

“And you were a ranger all that time?” Conner questions, his arm thrown across the back of the sofa.

 

“I didn’t leave the team until I got offered a once in a lifetime opportunity in Florida to train for the Pan Global games. The team convinced me to go, and so I handed my powers to someone else.”

 

“But Dr. O wasn’t always a ranger during those three years, was he? I mean, you guys got picked first, then Dr. O,” Ethan queries, scooting closer to Kim as if to make sure he doesn’t miss any of the juicy details.

 

“No, he wasn’t. First chosen were the original five; me, Jason, Billy, Zack and Trini. Tommy moved to town a few months after we’d already been rangers, and got turned into the evil green ranger by Rita. After Jason broke the spell, Tommy worked with us, until he started to lose the green ranger power. For a while, he wasn’t with us, and then he was able to recharge the powers for a little while before losing them again the final time.”

 

“Which lead to the white ranger powers, then red and now black, right?” Conner said, starting to get the gist of it, what with Kim, Jason and Dr. O’s own video journal.

 

“Well, the red ranger powers were mostly after I’d left,” Kim demurred, and I rested a hand on her shoulder. The reaction she must have had seeing me in my red Turbo uniform when we rescued her and Jason from Divatox must have confused the hell out of her, even if we were apart. It meant that she had missed an evolution of the team, of me that she’d never understand.

 

“So you guys split up while she was in Florida. How did you get back together?” asked Ethan.

 

I know Kim well enough to feel the tension that instantly appeared in her shoulders. Just as I’m about to say that it really doesn’t matter, Kim’s hand shoots up to grab mine, halting my tongue.

 

“We hadn’t spoken for a long time, when the original yellow ranger, one of my best friends, Trini Kwan was killed in a car crash. We were both at the funeral, and afterwards, decided it was time to talk and clear the air. You know, you remind me a lot of her,” Kim said, looking at Kira. “She was such a good fighter and tough too. I know she would have liked you.”

 

“But she didn’t have a pterodactyl zord. You did,” Kira replied, taking Kim’s free hand.

 

“True, but I had other zords before I left, so I didn’t just get stuck with one thing. Like Tommy, we’ve both been through our fair share of powers and zords.”

 

“So, you knew Dr. O before he was a teacher and all, right?” Conner interjected suddenly, breaking the pall that had tried to settle over the conversation. “Was he always responsible and knowledgeable?”

 

“What, you mean to say he didn’t tell you that he had a class project to try and fix his worst fault – his forgetfulness? I mean, he was so bad, he’d forget his head if it wasn’t attached back in the day.”

 

Everyone by me started to laugh, and I simply leaned over and kissed Kim’s head. I’d get her back for that later. For the moment though, I was content to have Kim lean up against me as she related tale after tale about the ranger’s predecessors and the legacy these new rangers had to live up to.

 

------

 

Sunday morning found me getting hit in the face with bright rays as the sun rose, and I turned slightly to escape it. As I did, I found caramel hair beneath my nose. I don’t know how I’m going to ever sleep in this bed without her here again. This is my last morning for a long while with her here, and I pulled her tightly into my arms as I curl up into her again.

 

There is still a half hour before we have to get up so I can take her to the airport, so I really don’t want to waste it by sleeping. With deliberate care, I run my hands along her bare sides. I know she brought some nighties, but I don’t think any of them, including the pink satin camisole that I have to say was my favorite lasted more than ten minutes before I had it tossed to the floor.

 

Slowly, I use my touch to wake her up and she turns in my arms. The look in her eyes tells me she knows what I’m thinking, and she reaches up to pull my head down to kiss me until I can’t remember my own name. Until I can convince her to move in with me after the games, this will probably be our last time together, and I can’t help but want to treasure it.

 

We make love slowly, leisurely, and when we’re through, we simply cling to each other beneath the covers. I have to remind myself again and again that this is not the end. We’re just going to have to be apart for a little while. We’ll call and e-mail and when it’s all over, I’ll pick her up at the airport, and never let her go.

 

Suddenly the alarm goes off, breaking the peace that has settled over us. We look at each other regretfully, and get out of bed. I know that I won’t be able to keep my hands off her, so I send her to shower first. If I joined her, well, all I can say is that the water would be cold by the time any real clean-up would be taking place.

 

I catch a quick shower and toss on my cargos and a black t-shirt with one of my flannel shirts. When Kim sees it, she smiles, and I remember a green checked flannel that she ended up giving me back after borrowing it – for a month. After a quick breakfast, I grab her bag in one hand and escort her out the door. Tossing the bag in the back of the jeep, Kim and I get in, and we spend the drive in mostly silence, trying to get used to the idea of not being able to touch each other whenever we want.

 

It doesn’t take long before we’re in the parking lot at the airport. I find a space and park the jeep. I get out, reaching back for the bag, and I turn to find Kim right beside me, her hand outstretched, waiting for mine. Slowly we walk towards the terminal, and I drop off her luggage at the curb before we head inside. Her flight leaves in half an hour, and this is as close as we can cut it without her getting held up in security and missing her flight.

 

The silence is starting to get to me, so I ask the question that I promised I wouldn’t hound her with the whole time she was here. But she’s getting ready to leave, so I should be safe in doing it now.

 

“So, are you still thinking that Reefside might be a nice place to live?” I ask seriously as Kim and I walk along the breezeway to the security gates.

 

“Just like home,” she replies softly.

 

I realize that her answer isn’t a cliché; it’s true. Wherever the other is, that’s home for us. And I want her home…

 

Before we know it, the security gate looms before us, and I find my hands are shaking slightly. I don’t want her to go. I don’t know what Mesogog is planning on throwing at us next, but I know that having her here makes it better than it is without her. My humor and my lightheartedness is less forced, less fake when she’s at my side.

 

But I know it’s selfish of me to ask her to stay again. I know she wants to; that she would love to rip up her return ticket and come back to my, no *our* bed. But she can’t. And I won’t make her agonize over it by asking her to.

 

I stare down at those brown eyes and see the tears starting to form. Quickly, I swipe at her face to stop the liquid in its tracks.

 

“I’ll expect a call from you when you get in tonight, alright?”

 

“It won’t be a long call. I’ll probably be tired,” she replies tightly.

 

“I know. But I need to hear your voice.”

 

We stand and stare at each other a bit longer. Then, I pull her tight to me and kiss her. It’s that kind of kiss that makes you question whether or not a soul can truly be shared by two people. When we finally pull apart, we’re both shaking.

 

“It isn’t forever, you know. I’ll be back soon,” she announces lightly.

 

“What? Did you… I mean, you made your decision?”

 

“I think that I could get to like Reefside. Even with the regular monster attacks. Besides, that bed was mighty comfortable.”

 

She winks at me, and I feel like a thousand pound weight has come off my chest and I crush her tightly to me. We stand there for long moments before I remind myself that I have to let her go so she can come back. With every ounce of strength I have, I slowly release Kim until just our hands are clasped together.

 

“I guess we’ll talk about the particulars later?”

 

“We have months to plan before I leave for Greece,” she confirms for me, “besides, now we something to talk about in addition to ‘work’ when you call.”

 

Nodding, I reach over to kiss her again. Not a kiss goodbye, but a kiss of promise. That this time, I know that there won’t be a letter in the mail breaking things off. That she’ll be coming back to me when her commitment is finished.

 

I loosen my hold on her, and she pulls away slightly, only one hand connecting us to each other. Then, she gifts me with that stunning smile that I remember from my first day at Angel Grove high. It still makes me grin like an idiot.

 

“I love you Tommy.”

 

“I love you too Beautiful,” I reply.

 

With that, she lets go of my hand and backpedals up the slight slope to the security gates. Our eyes stay locked, and I see a million thoughts, feelings and promises in hers that I know she can see reflected in mine. Finally, she’s at the metal detector, and has to break away. I watch as they usher her through, and then she’s past my sight.

 

For another minute I stand there, slightly afraid. She promised she’d come back last time, but she hadn’t. Did I trust that this time was different… I knew that it was though. We both were different, and this, *us* was something that we now knew that we couldn’t ever walk away from. We’d learned that the hard way.

 

Now, all I could do was wait: wait for her phone call tonight, wait until the Olympics were over and wait until the time was right to make this permanent.

 

One day Kim… I’m going to have you stay for good. Even if I have to put a ring on your finger to do it.

 

But not today.

 

-End-

 

Ahh. Hopefully this will hold everyone's T/K needs for a while.

 

tbc next week….

 

GO TO CHAPTER 9

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