Always a Ranger - Interlude

From the Ruins

By Jeannine Trevizo





Tommy Oliver treaded water in the middle of the ocean as he watched his work, his colleague, all their team and the entire island burn in a fiery mass.


He had no idea what the hell had happened, but he knew that his research was gone, possibly destroyed, or maybe stolen, if the things he saw running through the complex were any indication. Anton Mercer, his partner in the experiments that he was using for his PhD work had disappeared behind a wall of flame and Tommy believed he had to have died along with the other lab workers. As it was, he’d just barely gotten out, and he had the minor burns, broken bones and cuts to prove it.


As he continued to float, he glanced around, realizing that he was in some serious trouble. Unless a rescue team was dispatched from the Brazilian coastline, he could be swimming for days before reaching land. He did recall that there was a delivery boat that came out once a week, but his mind was too fuzzy right then to remember if it was scheduled to arrive today or tomorrow.


Hope I didn’t get a concussion from hitting the water, he thought morosely.


Still, he couldn’t just sit and wait for someone to come along. He’d been a power ranger. They saved others… they didn’t sit and wait around to be saved. He had to figure out how to get out of this mess.


Deciding that the best course of action was to at least head for the dock area, he paced himself as he swam towards the East side of the island, pausing every once in a while to take a breather and stare at the flames still licking through the tropical foliage.


As he turned the corner of the island, he found the delivery boat anchored off the coast of the engulfed island, far enough away to be safe.




Waving his hands while trying not to sink was a trick, however he got someone’s attention, and then made for the ship. The fire that he was starting to feel in his chest made each stroke towards the ship more painful, but at last he was able to touch the metal hull, and one of the crew threw down a rope ladder over the side, allowing him to scale his way up and over the railing until his feet hit the deck.


“God, I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am to see you guys,” he said as he felt his legs start to give out on him.


A few of the crew hurried to his side and helped him walk to the stars leading to the crew’s area. Carefully one of the men sat him down on a bench seat that faced the dining table of the galley. Another came over with a blanket, offering it to Tommy to wrap up in, his clothes dripping sea water on the floor.


“Mr. Oliver,” called out the Captain of the ship as he recognized the researcher from the island while he walked down the stairs from the bridge of the ship. “What the hell happened out there?”


“I don’t know. Some kind of explosion. The team was working in the lab, and the next thing I knew the alarms were going off and then there was a blast and the flames started racing through the facility.”


“Mr. Mercer? The others?”


“I just barely made it out. I… I don’t think anyone else survived.”


The Captain nodded gravely and sat beside the sole survivor of the strange disaster. As Tommy tightened his grip on the blanket, one of the crew offered him a cup of coffee, which he gratefully took. The heat seeped into his skin and made him aware again of the slight burns on his hands that he’d gotten running through the burning lab and the jungle plants that burst into flames as he ran past them. He hissed slightly, drawing the Captain’s attention to his condition.


“You need medical attention Mr. Oliver.”


“I need to get back to the U.S.” Tommy told the Captain seriously as he took a sip of the coffee.


“We can take you to Rio de Janeiro. It’s not far, and there you can see a physician and then the U.S. consulate can help coordinate your transport back home.”


Nodding, Tommy focused his thoughts on what to do. He’d nearly been killed. All his work was gone, and so many people had lost their lives. He was starting to feel the weight of it all. His side was in serious pain and the parts of his skin where the burns were had begun to blister. Everything in him ached, but as he sat there, he slowly became aware of the only ache that he knew he couldn’t fix with bandages and burn cream.


His heart was aching with a familiar pain that knew only one cure.


He needed Kim.


“Let’s go,” Tommy said looking to the Captain, who signaled to his crew to follow him on deck and turn the boat back towards the shore.




Less than 24 hours later, Tommy got out of a taxi, looking almost exactly like he had when he’d gotten off the boat in Rio. While he’d seen a physician who had bandaged the two broken ribs and cleaned up the cuts and burns, he still looked like a mess. It had been hard enough accepting the U.S. Consulate’s help to fly him to the closest airport from Rio, which luckily for him was where he wanted to go – Florida. But with his finances tight from his school work and being on the island for months, he wasn’t about to waste money on new clothes when some of his stuff was still waiting for him back in Los Angeles; Hayley had offered to keep some of his things at her place at UCLA while she finished her own studies while he was off on the island. Kim would understand him showing up looking like he’d been through a blender.


Once he paid the cab driver, Tommy headed for the apartment that he’d spent the last twelve hours envisioning. He hadn’t though that the circumstances of his finally seeing Kim for the first time since the funeral would be like this, but everything within him just didn’t care anymore. He was in pain, and the only person he knew that had always been able to make everything better was on the other side of this apartment door.


Tired and aching from the long flight and the injuries, he let one hand brace him on the door frame as he used his other, less burned one knock at her door. Through the wood of the door he heard her voice call out.




As Kim threw the door open, Tommy watched as her face changed from happiness at seeing him to near-horror as she noticed the obvious injuries on his face and body. She focused on his hand in the door frame, helping him stay up, and she instantly realized that he wasn’t here for a truly social visit.


“Oh my God, Tommy! What happened?” Kim asked distressed as she reached out and placed an arm around his waist and ushered him inside her place, kicking the door shut with her foot behind them.


He looked worse for wear, his jeans cut up and his shirt covered with dirt and dried blood. She saw the scratches that were just staring to heal and felt him wince when she touched his ribs on his left side. Slowly she guided him into her living room and made him sit down on her new sofa. She didn’t care about the mess his clothes would probably leave on the pale brown cloth. All that mattered was getting him comfortable.


“It’s okay Kim,” he demurred as he tried to wave away her concern. “The worst of it got patched up already, and I’m on the mend.”


Still, she turned and went to the kitchen, getting a bottle of water and coming back to sit beside him on the couch.


“You didn’t answer me… what happened? You look like you went ten rounds with a pack of putties without your powers.”


He frowned and took the bottle from her hand, concentrating on unscrewing the plastic lid and then took a long swallow. Only after he’d drained half the contents did he turn back to meet her questioning and concerned gaze.


“Mercer’s dead. They all are, and all our work, all *my* work got destroyed along with the entire island,” he stated with muted grief and overwhelming guilt.


“But you’re okay, right?” she questioned in a rush, her voice still worried.


“Banged up, but okay,” he explained again, then let some of his own fear out at what he’d survived, sharing his thoughts with the person he shared his *soul* with. “God Kim, I ran for my life. Even when I had Turbo powers, I don’t think I ever ran that fast. And there was nothing I could do, you know? I couldn’t save anyone. I just… ”


Kim sat there with him, watching the emotions on his face, listening to his words and trying to just be his friend. But the overwhelming fear that she’d nearly lost him wouldn’t let her. She laid her hand to his arm as she stared at his bruised face, her lips frowning and her eyes starting to tear up. It had been too damn close, she thought soberly as she looked closer at the cuts, burns and bruises. Why the hell hadn’t she told him in the last year that she still loved him? What the hell were they afraid of?


Tommy watched as the first tear broke from Kim’s lashes and streaked down her face. He swallowed tightly, only now fully realizing what he’d almost lost. He wasn’t going to let another minute pass without telling Kim how much he needed and loved her.


It was as they sat there on Kim’s sofa, staring at one another that the wall finally fell. Both started to lean towards the other, their lips meeting as they kissed for the first time in over seven years.


As their mouths melded, all Kim could think of was that she’d had been an idiot to ever leave him. How had she been able to think any other man would be able to make her feel like he did?


The pain in every part of Tommy’s body seemed to disappear with the touch of Kim’s lips to his. He could almost feel the pieces of his heart and soul mending as he delved deeper into the all-consuming kiss. How had he ever let her go, he thought as he pulled her closer. Now, he realized, he would never want to be without her in his life.


Finally, Tommy eased back from the kiss as he felt the burning and the shortness of breath in his lungs from the broken rib injury flare up. As their lips parted, Kim’s eyes fluttered open to find Tommy’s already staring at her, and the both broke into smiles.


“I love you,” Kim blurted out, finally breaking the last taboo in their newly created friendship.


All this time they’d been friends they’d said everything that could possibly said between them, except this most vital and unchangeable thing. She’d said the L word and now they could never go back to being just friends. The enormity of her statement hit them both hard, and Tommy stared at her with the biggest grin she thought she’d ever seen on his face, and she started to cry again as he reached up to caress her face.


“I love you too. I never really stopped loving you,” Tommy stated firmly, in that leader voice that she’d come to love all those years ago.


It was the truth, and the time for the truth had finally come. No more dancing around the issue or around each other. They loved one another. Now it was up to them to try being together again like that… to be in love again.


“I never really fell out of love with you either.”


Tommy nodded and reached forward to bring Kim to his waiting lips again. They kissed for long moments, yet in the scheme of their years apart, it was barely enough to quench the passion that had simmered over the years of their separation, and then only grown in the year since their friendship had been renewed.


Kim was the one that pulled back this time, her heart screaming at her to ignore the insistent thoughts in her head that required answers, and that wanted to know where they really stood. Love would get them only so far, the rest they would have to do on their own. And that might require making sacrifices and compromises that neither of them were ready or able to make.


“Where do we go from here?” she asked simply, unwilling however to release her hold on the man who held her heart in his hands so securely.


Tommy sighed. He knew this was going to happen. The simple part was loving one another. But making a life together, after all this time and separation was another.


“I’ve decided to finish the PhD…” he stated, his eyes never leaving her face as he attempted to read her reaction.


“Even after all of that?” Kim asked surprised.


“I want to teach, give back some of what I’ve learned – both in school and from being in ‘uniform’… and there’s this other reason.”


“Which is?”


“I need to finish my degree, do something with my life so what happened on the island wasn’t a waste. I owe that much to Mercer and his team. So I need to go back to UCLA and then see where I can teach. I was hoping California somewhere. Maybe by a beach, like Angel Grove…”


There was silence as Kim took in what he’d said. He was going back to his life. Tommy watched the veil of emotions cross Kim’s face as she began to comprehend exactly what the sacrifice required of one of them would need to be...


“You could come with me…”


Kim turned away, unable to look into the eyes of the man she loved more than anything. She didn’t know how to tell him her news now. That she’d gotten the offer of a lifetime.


“Tommy, I’ve been offered a job… assistant coach for beam for the Women’s Olympic team.”


His eyes bulged a bit and he felt his jaw go slack. His Kim was going to coach Olympic athletes?


“That’s… wow, Kim, that’s like one of the most prestigious jobs in gymnastics.”


“I know,” she said simply.


Tommy reached his hand to turn Kim’s face back to him and found anguish marring her beautiful features. God, he hated this more than he could say. But he knew now why she’d been less than pleased to hear what he’d had to say about his chosen path. For her to follow her own, they’d have to be separated again. And this time, he knew what he might lose if he didn’t hold onto her.


Still, he couldn’t be selfish and force her to make a decision between this once in a lifetime opportunity and him. It wasn’t fair. She would never make him chose, and he knew that in part from her breaking up with him all those years ago. That was her making sure he wouldn’t have to sacrifice something he wanted for her.


How could he not do the same…


“Where will you be?”


Her eyes bolted to his, and she saw the understanding there. She knew that he realized that she wanted nothing more than to be with him, and no doubt he would love to stay with her. But their other needs outweighed their desire to be together. For now.




“Sounds nice. You should take it Kim. Look, we’ve waited this long, a little longer won’t kill us, right?”


Kim looked at him uncertainly. She wasn’t sure if they would ever be at a point when one of them was ready to give up the life they’d built on their own and move to where the other was and to finish what they’d started way back on that day in the halls of Angel Grove High School – truly be with one another, in every way possible.


“I… I’ll call them back later. After you leave, and accept it.”


He smiled at her, and she couldn’t help but smile back. They were together, even if they wouldn’t be able to *be* together. He lover her and she loved him. All the rest was just details.


As Kim leaned back in to give her love another kiss, she felt him wince and she reminded herself that he was injured. She scooted back, giving him both room and a long, appraising look. He really was a mess. He needed to take better care of himself. She wished it could be her taking care of him during the days ahead, but until he left her apartment, she would make sure he was *properly* cared for.


“Is there anything else I can get you?” Kim asked as she laid a hand on his mostly unbruised left shoulder. Her question seemed to turn on a light bulb over his head, and he nodded


“I need to check in with someone about all this. Can I use the phone?”


“Of course.”


Kim got up and headed to where her cordless sat in the kitchen. Walking back, she handed to Tommy as he pulled out his wallet, and then extricated a small book. Flipping through the partially waterlogged pages, he found what he was looking for, and then he dialed the number and waited for the person on the other end to pick up.


“Hello?” came a female voice from the other end.


“Hey Hayley, its Tommy.”


“Hey Tom, where are you? Still on the island? How’s the research?”


“Things with Mercer didn’t go as well as I planned, and there were some complications.”


“I’m glad you called me,” Hayley said, thrilled that he’d called her about it. “What happened?”


“I don’t know. We made some discoveries, but I think they may have been stolen or destroyed; I’m not sure which. Then the island exploded.”


“What are you going to do now?” she asked, shocked at his announcement.


“I still want to finish my degree. I’ve decided that I’d like to teach when I finish.”


“Okay,” Hayley agreed, somewhat surprised. “I’ll do what I can to help you with the thesis, and get you through the whole process. When will you be getting back to UCLA?”


“A while, I’m still with Kim in Florida, and I still have to get a flight back.”


Hayley heard the happy tone in his voice and nearly cried.


“You’re with Kimberly?” she forced out.


“Yeah,” he stated absentmindedly as he watched his love get up from the couch and head into the kitchen. “I got a flight here after everything happened, and well… Kim and I are back together.”


“So is she coming with you?”


“No… God, I wish she was, but she just got an offer to coach for the Olympics, and I can’t ask her to give that up to come run off with me when I don’t even know where that’s going to be yet. But even though we can’t be together right now, we’re in love with each other. Maybe soon, we’ll be able to figure a way to be with each other in the same place.”


It was with that simple statement, Hayley comprehended that Tommy Oliver was finally and irreversibly off the market.


“There’s one more thing Hayley, I think Mercer might have been picking my brain for info on dinosaur/robotics technology. With my background as a ranger, he probably thought that he could get something revolutionary from me. Maybe he did, I don’t know if maybe I might have made a comment here or a suggestion there that had helped Mercer’s corrupt the work. But I need to find out, especially if it didn’t get destroyed.”


“Well, after you get back, we’ll see what we can figure out.”


“Great. Thanks Hayley.”


With that, Tommy hung up and turned back to Kim.


“Now what?” she asked, leaning on the kitchen doorframe, her arms folder across her chest.


“I have to get back, see if I can salvage enough of the work to qualify for my PhD...”


“And I’ll be heading to Boston until the team leaves for Athens…” she stated, still uncomfortable about letting him leave again without her being by his side.


“So?” Tommy said as he walked to her, taking his hands in hers. “We’ll make it work. We’ll keep talking, I’ll call and we won’t have to hide *anything* anymore.”


“You mean have a long distance relationship?” she asked skeptically.


“Why not? We’re not seventeen Kim. We know what it’s like to be with other people, and we know what we can and can’t live without. I know I can’t live without you in my life anymore. And while I can’t stay, and I know that you can’t come with me right now, there’s no reason that we can’t make it work and finally be together,” he insisted, looking down into her expressive eyes as she stared up at him hopefully.


“You’re sure about this?” she asked apprehensively. “I mean, I’m sure Hayley would probably be more than happy to…”


Tommy leaned in and kissed her soundly, stopping her from continuing to voice her stupid idea. As he passionately crushed her lips to his, Kim let herself surge forward, melding into his chest as he wrapped his arms around her back.


“Do you believe I’m sure now?” he asked huskily as he pulled back from her mouth.


“Yes,” she answered breathlessly.


“Look, we’ll find time to see each other. Vacations, weekends, things like that. We both learned our mistakes from the last time…”


“I’m not letting you go again Tommy.”


“Good, because I wouldn’t let you Beautiful.”


She smiled at his use of her nickname after all this time. And as she graced him with that megawatt smile that he remembered from so many days together, and so many lonely nights they’d been apart, Tommy knew that he would need this woman with him always.


Suddenly the phone rang, breaking the moment, and Kim stepped away from Tommy to pick it up from where it sat on the couch.


“Hello?” she said, and turned towards Tommy. “Yes, he’s right here.”


She handed the phone to him and he looked at with incomprehension before speaking into the mouthpiece.




“Mr. Oliver, this is Michael Sanger with Anton Mercer Industries. We understand that you’ll be returning to your post graduate studies in L.A., and after everything that has happened, we wanted to offer you a free trip back from Florida.”


“Thanks, that would be great.”


“There’s a seat on our private jet waiting for you. However, you’ll need to get to the Miami Municipal airport in the next two hours, as our CFO is on his way back to L.A. and needs to be leaving by 5pm to get back to the West Coast before midnight.”


“Two hours?”


“Well, not counting the time getting through any of the screening and security measures that are in place. I suggest you head out for the airport as soon as you can, to make sure you don’t get left behind.”


Tommy cursed under his breath and turned to see Kim walk up to him, laying a hand on his arm in concern. He had wished he’d have a little more time with Kim before they had to part again, but it didn’t seem like that was to be.


“Alright, I’ll head out now.”


“The hanger is number 11, and there should be a car arriving at Ms. Hart’s apartment in the next few minutes. And by the way Mr. Oliver, I am sorry for the turn of events on the island,” Mr. Sanger said as he hung up.


Clicking off the phone, Tommy turned to see Kim’s face fall as she could read between the lines of the call. He was leaving now, and there wasn’t any time left. He reached over and pulled her into his embrace once again, this time savoring her there, storing away the memory to get him through however long it would take before they could see one another again.


Kim let her hands clutch at him, ignoring the fact that she might be hurting him with her grip. God, she didn’t want him to leave yet, but she knew that he had to. And it wasn’t forever…


A car horn split the stillness of the moment and they eased back to stare at one another’s eyes. His ride was there. Already. With lightning speed, Tommy leaned down and crushed his lips to Kim’s. They opened their mouths in a mutual decision, sharing breath, entwining tongues and deepening the kiss exponentially. Kim dug her fingers into his shortened locks and he let his own hands run through her caramel silken strands.


The sound of the piercing horn sounded again, and Tommy pulled away reluctantly, their mouths nearly refusing to part. His hands moved to caress Kim’s cheeks as he noticed the tears forming in her eyes again.


“I love you Kimberly Hart,” he stated with everything within him as he took a step back towards the door.


“I love you Tommy Oliver,” she replied, her voice thick with emotion as she let her hands start to drop away from him.


“We’ll talk soon,” he assured her as they walked to the door, Tommy moving backwards as Kim followed him.


“We’ll have weekends, vacations maybe,” she suggested and he smiled back at her.


“I promise Beautiful, this is going to be different. We *will* make this work and we *are* going to get that happily ever after.”


“I believe you.”


Tommy smiled and then they heard the car horn sound again, and he grimaced.


“I have to go Beautiful.”


“I know… go on. Call me when you get in.”


With that, Tommy opened the door and turned to hurry towards the waiting car; afraid it would leave without him. Kim watched him walk away from her towards the obviously waiting sedan at the curb, her eyes shimmering as he climbed in. Still, she realized with that spark of hope in her soul, this really wasn’t farewell.


It was the just the beginning.




Okay, all back story filled…

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