Duty & Honor – Part 10
“Are you sure you’re okay with this?” Kim asked as she brushed her hair some more, creating a silken caramel curtain that made Tommy question his decision to encourage her to leave him go out with Kira and Hayley.
Kira had put her head together with Hayley and suggested a girl’s night out, having recognized her friend and the pink ranger starting to get overwhelmed with the loss of the baby and Xondar’s appearance. When she’d first invited Kim just before finals at school, Kim had told her that they should wait. Tommy had hoped it was simply a tactic for making sure the team studied for their papers and tests. He’d been worried that her reaction was more due to the internal issues that the two of them had dealt with in regards to Kim’s active status during… the pregnancy.
So Kira and Hayley had accepted Kim’s delay. Finals had started, and then more tragedy had struck. Anthony James’ death had put the students of Reefside High School into a tailspin, and Kira’s own feelings fell into the area of pain and guilt. Conner and the others had been there, and Kira, along with the rest of the school mourned the death. And then life started to begin again with the resilience of youth and the need to graduate pushing the students into their classes. As it was, he had a stack of blue book essays to grade, and Kim could use the time out while he sat and plodded through them rather than just sitting at home reading or otherwise being anti-social.
Besides, just watching Kim get ready reminded him of what a lucky man he was to have this woman as his wife.
“Yes. Just go and have fun. Do girly stuff or whatever,” Tommy said as she moved to style her brushed hair with a silver clip that he remembered fondly from days in Angel Grove.
“You’d better be careful. Last time I did ‘girly stuff’, I ended up coming home and shagging you silly,” she said with a smile, remembering the night of lovemaking following her bachelorette party.
“I remember,” retorted Tommy with a grin, finally letting himself gravitate towards her and wrapping his arms around her waist before the bathroom mirror. “And I can’t say I’d complain about that.”
Leaning into him, Kim let her eyes close, feeling the bond between then strengthen even with this simple embrace. It had been a tough few months… and while everything seemed to be finally getting back on track for them personally, there was still the matter of the overall threat looming over them.
Xondar and his obsession with destroying the rangers of Earth. And the fact that Kim might have slipped and given away their identities as original rangers wasn’t lost on either of them.
If they were right in believing that Xondar’s rage and desire for revenge against those that Zordon had chosen was more heated than his hate for even the Space rangers, then there was great danger for them both now.
Yet there was nothing they could do about that. They had both survived multiple evil warlords intent on world domination… intergalactic domination. And they’d always beaten them. They had to hope that they could do the same now to a madman bent on destroying just them.
“So, I’ll be home before ten.”
“Considering you’ll be up at five like every morning for work, unless you want to sleepwalk through your day, being home to crawl in bed would be a good thing,” he teased.
“I could handle a little less sleep if I had something better to do…”
She let the innuendo hang there, and Tommy turned her in his arms, guiding her body closer to him as he lowered his lips to capture hers. Without effort she let her hands slide up and into his hair, holding him in place. After the awkwardness of their teen years and then the years apart when they had given themselves to others, the sense of wonder and completion they had whenever they kissed still awed them.
Lips parting and tongues gliding, they kissed deeply and passionately. They could have kept up all night, if not for the fact that if they didn’t stop now, Kim was never going to leave. So they both slowly pulled back, their lips reluctantly breaking apart.
“So… you should head out,” Tommy forced out as Kim fought not to drop to her knees and blow his mind before leaving him.
“Yeah… but I’ll be back soon. How about we pick this up when I get back?”
The gleam in her eyes told him that at this rate, he was going to need to have all the energy he could get before she got home. Nodding, he walked her to the door, where she picked up her jacket and purse before heading to her car. Once the door was closed, Tommy headed for the kitchen for an energy drink before starting to grade his classes’ final papers.
He wanted them done before she got home.
Kira was already at the team’s favorite table when Kim walked into the Cyberspace. She waved at the pink ranger and Kim headed directly to her, noting as she made her way across the room that there were at least a dozen or so patrons at the café, which surprised Kim. It was just after seven on a Friday. Didn’t anyone have a date?
Of course, she knew from what Kira had told her that the guys had been dragged by Ethan to see the latest Cosmic Avenger movie that had just been released. So while the men sat in the theater, Kim, Kira and Hayley could catch up. Except that Hayley was still dealing with customers as she tried to slowly hand everything over to Randi for the night.
The young Asian girl reminded Kim a bit of Trini, except for the totally non-traditional dress: usually it was a mini skirt, bulky boots, sliced up shirts and any of four or five different color hairdos. Tonight she had it spiked in a pink tint that she hadn’t worn last week. But still, from what Tommy and Hayley said, Randi was a brilliant student and mathematician, and was looking to get into MIT… like Ethan was.
Finally noting Kim’s arrival, Hayley handed the last of the table order forms before wiping her hands on a towel and heading for the others. She quickly moved to sit with Kim and Kira, stretching in her chair as she got comfortable.
“Hey Kim. Glad you could make it.”
“It’s nice to be out and about… and not ‘working’,” remarked Kim, and the other members of the table laughed.
“I’m done for the night except to give Randi a hand with the close. She’ll come by and bring us a few drinks… I said peach smoothie for you Kim. That’s still right?”
Smiling, Kim nodded and looked to where Kira was swirling her straw in her own smoothie. Except it was strawberry. Funny how it was that color, Kim mused with a sense of irony.
“So, how are you doing?” Kira finally asked, looking to Kim with a small look of nervousness.
“We’re fine… come one Kira, you should have figured that out by now. Tommy’s not being a bastard at school, so things at home are good.”
“Still Kim,” interjected Hayley, reaching over to place her hand on the other woman’s. “You and he went through something pretty traumatic. And with everything else still going on…”
Sighing, Kim covered Hayley’s hand with her other, looking between the two concerned women. If they had asked her a week ago, two weeks… she might have had a different answer. But now… yes, she still felt an ache when she thought about the baby, but she knew in her heart that it wasn’t to be. And that it had actually ended up bringing her and Tommy closer together.
“No. I have to admit there were some really rough times, but we helped each other through them. It just wasn’t meant to be this time.”
“So, you’re going to try again?” asked Kira, genuinely interested in the idea of a little Oliver running around.
“Not now… we’re going to wait until things are more… ‘calm’. Maybe after we make a change of ‘jobs’,” Kim explained, and both women nodded, realizing that perhaps that was best. Raising a child and fighting evil couldn’t be easy.
“Cappuccino and Peach smoothie,” announced Randi as she sat the drinks down on the table, smiling at them all. “Anything else boss?”
“Nope, we should be good for the moment. If we need anything else, I can always et up myself,” said Hayley, taking the hot coffee cup into her hands.
“Okay,” replied Randi before she moved in the opposite direction to take care of the group of people at the table closest to the door. As Kim and Kira watched Randi start to take orders, and the young yellow ranger noticed Krista was among them, chatting and laughing.
Kira stared at the environmentally conscious young woman for much longer than Kim. When she didn’t seem to be turning away, Kim cleared her throat to bring her back to the here and now. As Kira sheepishly turned back, she saw twin questioning looks on Hayley and Kim’s faces.
“Sorry…” she stammered as she dipped her head to take a long gulp of her smoothie.
“No problem. I assume you know her?” Kim asked, her intuition buzzing at the way Kira had nearly stared holes into the brunette at the door.
It reminded her a bit of how she had looked at Kat once or twice back in the day.
“You shouldn’t worry… he isn’t interested,” Kim said cryptically, and Kira and Hayley both looked at the pink ranger in confusion.
Temporarily leaving it at that, Kim refocused her attention on Kira, and noted some signs of stress that had nothing to do with her waiting for finals; the death of a friend from school or even Xondar’s planned next attack. It was something at a much more personal level, and like Kim, there was only one person that could cause such a reaction in the yellow ranger’s life.
“So, you and Conner are good?” Kim asked, smiling at the yellow ranger, expecting an instant reaction.
She wasn’t disappointed.
Kira blushed slightly, and Kim just sighed, bringing Hayley’s attention from Kira’s discomfort to her.
“You’re so mean Kim,” said Hayley with a smirk and a toss of her hair.
“What? Can I help it if it’s nice to finally be the one who can grill the newly in love ranger on her love life? I mean Tommy and I got that constantly.”
“Is that what we have to look forward to?” asked Kira forlornly.
“If it’s real, yeah,” stated Kim with a smile. “Besides, you at least didn’t have to survive several years of grilling like Tommy and I did.”
“Well, I’ll consider myself lucky then. But Kim… I’m curious… why did you ask if we were okay?”
“Just…” Kim hesitated, looking at Hayley to see if she wanted to break things to Kira. But the look she saw there said that Kim brought it up, so… “Have you noticed that Trent’s been paying more attention to you lately?”
“I… well, I just want to make sure that you and he are clear on how you feel about him, and how you feel about Conner. Just so there’s no… confusion.”
“Confusion how?” asked Kira, feeling lost.
“Trent’s not just being a friend Kira. He’s trying to get you back,” Hayley sighed loudly before taking a long sip of her cappuccino.
“What? But, he and I never…”
“Yes, we know that, but there was a period of time when you wanted him, wasn’t there?” questioned Kim directly.
Kira pursed her lips, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to say no to that. In those early days before the white ranger, before Kim moved to Reefside and before she realized what she really felt for Conner, she had been attracted to, almost subconsciously to Trent. But they’d never done more than circle each other and talk. There had never been anything for Trent to want back…
“So? I’m with Conner.”
“And Trent sees that as a challenge, not an obstacle.”
“But I haven’t given him a reason to think things with Conner will change. I know I haven’t,” argued Kira fiercely.
“That’s not the point. You need to talk to him… before Conner puts his lights out.”
“Huh?” said both Hayley and Kira in near unison.
Kim sighed and took a gulp of her club soda. She really didn’t know…
“Conner and Trent have been locking horns more than you realize. I know for a fact that at least three times in the last month there’s been friction between them over you, and I don’t think you even know it’s going on,” remarked Kim with a wise expression.
“But I would have noticed…” fumbled Kira lamely.
“Kira… even Ethan noticed it.”
“Wow… I… I’ll talk to Trent and make him understand.”
“And while you’re at it, make sure Conner knows how serious you are. You’re going to have to make a tough decision soon about school… and if you want to survive it you need to be honest with him.”
“We’ve talked about that pretty much all year long. We both want the other to grab a hold of their opportunities, but we don’t want to lose the other. We sort of tentatively settled on community college in LA, but….”
“Whatever will work for your lives and each other Kira,” remarked Hayley with a wry frown.
At that, Kira and Kim looked at the red haired genius and proprietor with concern. The way she’d said that, and how it spoke volumes about Hayley’s own personal life made them both worried.
“Hayley, you aren’t having problems with Billy, are you?” Kim asked, concerned for her friends.
Hayley let out a quick laugh, bringing the attention of the occupants of the environmentalist club table and the bar where Randi was loading clean glasses and cups into the racks beneath the counter. Noting the worry etched on Kira and Kim’s faces, Hayley decided to take pity on them and tell them what was going on.
“No, we’re okay. I mean, yes, the last ten months have been more than tough, what with me here and him out there and only infrequent visits and a lot of ‘calls’, but… we finally decided that we were more important than our individual jobs.”
“You’re not leaving, are you?” asked Kira in a shocked tone.
“No, not that… Bill’s decided to come back… he’s moving in with me in a few weeks.”
“Oh my God! You, he…. You never said anything!” Kim exclaimed, her happiness for her friends was more than she could even express.
“That’s so cool!”
“Yeah… we just decided that if we wanted to make it work we had to be in the same place, so… he’s coming back. He thought maybe he could go back to his science roots. Maybe get a job for the government or something where he could use all those smarts of his,” gushed Hayley, making Kim and Kira struggle not to laugh at the girlish manner that Billy Cranston brought out in his normally serious girlfriend.
“That will be so wonderful. I can’t wait to have him around. What with Jason having moved back to the West Coast, as well as Aisha in a few months… it will be almost like old times. Except for the married and romantically involved part”
“And minus the rainbow colors for some,” remarked Hayley, and Kim nodded.
“Yeah. Those rainbow colors usually haven’t been very good for keeping a relationship going. Or even for dating in general,” Kim stated seriously, remembering days of her and Tommy being the only two rangers who could say they were dating regularly.
“That might not be the case anymore,” Kira remarked simply.
“What does that mean?”
“It means that if things start happening, that old team adage might get blown to bits.”
“Are you saying that something’s up?” asked Hayley curiously.
“Well, I think that Trent and Ethan have admirers that they don’t know about,” Kira said with a smirk as she glanced to where Randi was shooing Krista and the rest of her group out the door in preparation of shutting down for the night.
“Randi? My own staff is falling for one of the guys?” Hayley said, stunned. “Who…”
“You never noticed how much attention Ethan gets when he’s here and she’s working? Come on Hayley, you need to pay closer attention.”
“So does Ethan have a clue?” Kim asked.
“I doubt it.”
“What about Trent. You said…” Hayley started to ask, wondering about her other employee.
“I heard some gossip… and someone asked me a question that I didn’t fully understand until now,” Kira commented, having finally been told of Trent’s continued interest in her. “Krista came and asked me if he and I were seeing each other a few weeks ago. I thought she was checking to see if Conner was free, but when I told her no, that I was dating Conner, she sort of got this look… I’d bet anything that she was checking to see if he was available for herself.”
“But she hasn’t said anything to Trent?” Kim asked with a sense of wonder.
“No… but if your assessment on his attitude towards me is any indication, she probably thinks he’s too hung up on me to be receptive to her.”
“Logical,” remarked Hayley as Kim nodded in agreement.
“Sounds like there’s some people that need some help in the romance department.”
“Well, that sounds about par for the course, considering,” suggested Kim with a small smile directed at Kira.
“Like you didn’t need a push in Conner’s direction?”
Kira shrugged and Kim laughed. Before she could say anything else, Randi came over to the table and started clearing up. Taking note, Kim looked at her watch and nearly gasped. It was already 9:30… Kira and Hayley looked to the clock over the bar and realized the same thing.
“It’s late… I need to help Randi close up and you two need to go home,” said Hayley as she quickly got up from her chair.
“Right… you have class tomorrow,” said Kim pointedly to Kira as she grabbed he bag.
“True… but it was fun, wasn’t it?” she asked both of the older women.
“Yeah, it was,” said Kim simply as she reached over and hugged the yellow ranger before waving to Hayley as she headed for the door and home.
“Tommy?” called out Kim as she walked into the house, minutes to space before ten as she tossed her jacket on the newly acquired coat rack near the door.
“Hey Kim, in here,” called Tommy from the bedroom.
Leaving her purse on the coffee table, she walked purposefully to the bedroom, finding her husband propped up against the pillows at the headboard, his reading glasses on and red pen in hand. He looked so smart and sexy in those glasses… Smiling she toed off her shoes and climbed onto the bed, careful not to accidentally crush the stack of graded blue books beside him.
“Yeah. The scantrons were easy. I just got in line with the rest of the teachers and fed them through the machine with my master answer sheet. But these… well, let’s just say that the concept of writing an essay is still one not being grasped by the youth of today.”
“And your papers in high school were that much better?” she reminded him, watching his reaction… to smile sheepishly at her with just a touch of blushing.
“Does your memory have to be that good?” he complained bitterly.
“I have to make up for your crappy one.”
Laughing at that, Tommy looked at her with longing in his eyes, and Kim felt the spark from earlier in the evening return. He quickly picked up the still to be graded books and put them on the night stand with his pen and glasses. Kim moved to get the other books to her side of the bed before he moved to lean over her, his mouth moving without words towards hers.
She met him halfway, grasping his shoulders as their mouths merged, the feelings of oneness returning to them tenfold. It was so good…
Suddenly, the building shook as if a meteor had struck it full on, the room engulfing in blinding light that seeped through their closed eyelids. Hurriedly they broke apart as the light suddenly dissipated.
“Okay, I know you’re good, but…” Kim stated as she looked around the room in panic.
“As much as I’d like to say that was us, it felt like a blast…” he started, and then remembered something important. “Conner and Kira mentioned a similar effect when Xondar’s ship first arrived.”
“You think it’s him? Attacking us directly?”
“I don’t know how… let’s find out.”
There seemed to be no damage, but that was simply on the surface. Everything in the bedroom looked the same, and they quickly got up and started through the house. Nothing seemed out of place. Finally they ended up standing in the kitchen, looking down at the trap door to the command center in the basement. If he had attacked…
Climbing down the stairs, Kim and Tommy turned to the console, finding everything intact. But as they started to check the rest of the basement area, the room again began to glow with a brilliant light. This time they could recognize it not as the gold color that Xondar’s ship emitted, but a nearly pure white with a slight blue tinge.
And within the glow, there was a shape.
As the light slowly dimmed, Tommy and Kim stared wide eyed at the person it revealed. Kim wavered beside him, her eyes starting to fall shut as shock and hit her. Tommy quickly threw an arm around her, holding her unconscious form against his side as he fought to force the next word from his lips.
Well, like I said… nothing is going to be the same again. And trust me, I have a really, REALLY good explanation on what’s going on here!
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