Tommy Oliver listened to the radio as he picked out what clothes he was going to wear on his date with his girlfriend at the park. He was looking forward to spending some well earned, peaceful time with the tall blond. With all of his old teammates coming back into town, he knew that he wouldn't have too much spare time in the next two weeks to spend alone with her. He wanted to get some in while he still could, he thought wryly. Tommy smiled softly as one of his all time favorite country songs began to play softly in the background.
Just the other night at a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame,
and as I introduced them the past came back to me
and I couldn't help but think of the way things used to be.
She was the one that I'd wanted for all times
And each night I'd spend praying
That God would make her mine.
And if he'd only grant me this wish I'd wished back then
I'd never ask for anything again
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Just remember when you're talking to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn't mean he don't care.
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers
She wasn't quite the angel
That I'd remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me
In her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days,
There wasn't much we could recall.
I guess the Lord knows what he's doin' after all.
And as she walked away
Well, I looked at my wife
And then and then and there I thanked the good Lord
For the gifts in my life
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talking to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered . . .
Some of God's greatest gifts are all too often unanswered . . .
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers
"I can't wait to see Kim again." Tommy said enthusiastically to his girlfriend Katherine Hillard as the two walked through the park hand in hand. "With Jason, Zach, Trini, and Billy in town already for the holidays, it'll be just like having the old team back."
Kat looked away and grimaced. Of course Tommy would remain oblivious to how uncomfortable the conversation was making her, Kat thought sadly. He was so excited at the thought of having his ex-girlfriend and former teammates back in Angel Grove, that she'd felt kind of pushed to the wayside in the last couple of days. She wanted to feel happy about Kim's return to Angel Grove, but as she looked at the dark haired man beside her, she couldn't.
"When does her plane come in tomorrow?" Kat asked softly. Tommy's smile brightened, and Kat felt as if she'd been sucker punched.
"It comes in at noon. Jason and the gang are going to go with me to meet her at the gate. Gosh, I still can't believe she's actually coming. The PanGlobals took a lot out of her, you know. I knew she'd do it though. If anything, Kim was always the tenacious one. Just think, she's a world class gymnast, now that she's won the gold medal and all." Kat stumbled slightly on the sidewalk at Tommy's words.
"Whoa sweetheart, are you okay?"
Kat nodded as she regained her balance. The whole idea of Kim coming was beginning to leave a bitter taste in her mouth. Kim was her friend. They had a lot in common. So why was she getting so upset about Kim's visit? Kat sighed, she needed someone to talk to, preferably someone who did not know Kim. She and Tommy walked the rest of the way through the nature path in silence. As they reached the end, Tommy grabbed both of her hands and turned her to face him.
"Are you all right, Kat? You haven't been yourself lately. You didn't even tease me about being late for our date today." Tommy said with a lopsided grin as he searched his girlfriend's aquamarine eyes for an answer.
"I'm fine, Tommy. I'm just a little tired is all." Kat returned. Despite his light tone, she had heard the current of concern beneath his question, but she wasn't about to tell him she was upset about Kim's visit. Not when he was deliriously happy about it. "I think I'm going to go over to Tanya's, I have a couple things I wanted to ask her about our research project." Kat lied softly.
"You want a ride?" Katherine shook her head no. At the moment she wanted to walk, and try to sort through her confused emotions.
"Okay, I'll see you later, sweetheart." Tommy said somewhat reluctantly as he place a kiss on her forehead. Kat watched his retreating back as he walked over to where he'd parked his motorcycle. She loved to watch the way he moved. It was so graceful and fluid, yet powerful at the same time. Kat sighed as his bike sped out of view. Then she turned in the opposite direction and started walking slowly towards Tanya's house.
"Girlfriend, don't you know you're supposed to come in out of the rain?" Tanya said as she ushered a soaking wet Kat in off the front stoop. Kat merely smiled ruefully. To tell the truth, she hadn't even noticed the rain, she'd been too involved in her own thoughts to care.
"Hi Tanya. Are you busy right now?" Kat asked quietly as she wrapped the towel the black girl had gotten around her shoulders.
"Nah, Adam's at a martial arts convention today. And as sad as it is, he's the center of my social life." Tanya said with a laugh and Kat flashed her a small half smile. Tanya gave Kat a sideways glance, as she led the tall, willowy blond girl into the family room. Kat hadn't been herself all week, Tanya reflected, well, at least not since Tommy had gotten that letter from Kim. Something was eating at her best friend, and she had the sinking feeling that it had to do with Kim's upcoming visit to Angel Grove.
"You want to talk about it?" Tanya probed gently as the two girls sat down on the couch. Kat nodded and swallowed hard a couple of times, it felt like there was a baseball lodged in her throat. Tanya gave her a reassuring pat on the back and Kat felt a couple of tears slide down her cheeks.
"I don't know, Tanya. Tommy's so excited about having Kim come back into town. And I should be happy about it too, but I'm not. All that keeps running through my head is pictures of Tommy and Kim together again. They were so close before she left for Florida. What if he wants to get back together with her? What if she wants to get back with him?" Kat asked miserably as she met her friend's eyes. "I love him Tanya. I don't want him to be miserable. I mean, who am I to stand in the way, if what he really wants is Kim? After all the challenges he's faced in his life, he deserves to be happy." Kat finished with a whisper. Tommy had dealt with his fair share of evil and darkness. Between the brain washing spells and the numerous blows Rita and Zedd had delt him along with the machine empire, it was no wonder Tommy gravitated towards Kim's innocent, lighthearted nature, Kat thought. Why on earth had she thought he'd want to be with someone like her? Someone who had a little piece of that darkness tucked away in her soul?
She had believed her friends when they told her that the spell Rita had placed on her made her do those rotten things to them and to Kim, and yes, she never would have done any of it if she hadn't been under the spell. But deep down, she knew the spell would never have been able to take hold if she hadn't been so deeply envious of Kim and Kim's friendships with the other Rangers. A small part of her had wanted to see Kim fail like she had, a part of her had wanted to take Kim's place in the team and with Tommy. A part of her really had wanted to see Kim to fall off the balance beam and die. Kat hung her head in shame, Tommy deserved someone better than her.
"Kat, what are you talking about? That boy loves you so much, it's obvious to anyone who sees the two of you together. I think Tommy knows his own mind. If he wasn't comfortable with your relationship, I think he would have told you so by now. And what makes you think you don't make him happy? Adam told me a month ago, that Tommy was looking about the happiest he'd ever seen him. Don't you think you're a part of that?" Tanya questioned. Kat shrugged slightly.
"I don't know, Tanya. I just don't know."
Adam looked at his teammate, and friend out of the corner of his eye as he and Tommy played a friendly game of pool. After he'd gotten home from his martial arts convention at three, Tanya had come over and the two of them had discussed their obtuse leader and his relationship with Kat. That was why he was opposite Tommy right now, playing what had to be about the sorriest excuse for a pool game instead of spending the evening with his girlfriend at the movies, Adam thought as he accidentally launched the cue ball into the air and off the pool table yet again.
"Nice shot man. How do you do it?" Tommy said with a laugh as he retrieved the ball from the floor. Adam gave a small grimace.
"Just talent I guess." Adam said ruefully. "Actually, I didn't really come here to play pool with you anyway, Tommy." Tommy shot him a questioning glance. "What I really came here to talk about was Kat. She's really upset about Kim coming back into town, bro." He loved his teammates, and he wanted them to be happy, Adam thought, but this was the absolute last time he let Tanya talk him into getting involved in something that was none of his business.
"Why would she be upset about that?" Tommy asked confused. He'd known Kat had been holding back something from him at the park, but he hadn't expected this to be the culprit behind her silence.
"Tanya thinks Kat might be afraid of being replaced and pushed aside by Kim." Adam answered.
"Kim? Replace Kat? You're kidding, right?" Tommy said incredulously. The idea of Kim being able to replace Kat was almost ludicrous. Kim was way to involved in her gymnastics to be able to take up rangering again anytime soon. He thought Kat knew that.
"I'm dead serious." Adam said as he tried hard not to roll his eyes. Tommy could be so dense when it came down to some things. He probably thought Kat was afraid Kim would replace her on the team. It probably never crossed his mind that Kat might feel that her relationship with him would be threatened by the arrival of his old flame. "I think you should talk to her, Tommy. I hate to see her worry herself about this kind of thing. Especially, when I know you would never dream of replacing her with Kim." Adam finished. Tommy hurriedly nodded his agreement.
"Thanks for telling me, Adam. Do you mind if we call this game quits. I think I really ought to go find my girlfriend and have a very long talk with her." Tommy said seriously.
"Mind? Tommy I won't mind as long as you promise me we'll never play this bloody game again. I hate pool." Adam said with disgust as he put the pool stick up. Besides, he added silently to himself, there was a certain black haired girl across town he wanted to take to the movies right now, and there was no way in the world he was going to make Tommy finish this round of pool. Tommy laughed.
"Kat?" Tommy questioned softly as he eased himself out of his girlfriend's second story bedroom window and onto the roof.
"Tommy! What are you doing here?" Kat asked in surprise as her boyfriend sidled up next to her on the slated shingles.
"Your Mom told me you'd be up here. She'd said it's where you usually go to think things out." Tommy said as he looked up at the dark starlit sky. "Kat, I think we need to talk." Kat flinched slightly at the words. Here it comes, she thought sadly, he's going to tell me he still loves Kim. Kat determinedly held her tears in check. She would not cry in front of him.
"Kat, you don't have to worry about Kim taking your place on the team. That'll never happen. The powers were given to you. It wouldn't be very fair of us to just rip them away from you when the first opportunity arose, sweetheart." Tommy said as he gently tucked a long strand of straight blonde hair behind her ear. Kat toughened her resolve. She had to get this out between them.
"Tommy, it's not my place on the team that I'm afraid I'll lose to Kim. It's you." Kat said as she turned her overly bright eyes towards her dark haired boyfriend. Tommy cupped her chin in his hand and rubbed his thumb across her cheek.
"Aw, sweetheart. Kim could never take your place in my life. You are the one I love." Tommy said as a tear escaped from Kat's eye.
"Tommy, I can't pretend to be as good hearted and innocent as Kim is anymore. Rita's spell changed how I see the world. I can't see things in black and white because all I see now are shades of gray. There's a bit of darkness in here, that I can't get rid of because it's a part of who I've become." Kat said as she patted a hand on her heart. "After all you've been through, you deserve to have someone who isn't as susceptible to dark spells like I am. You deserve to have someone who has a completely virtuous soul. As much as I hate to admit it, that's not me. I did a lot of horrible things for Zedd and Rita because they made me, but at the same token, I knew they couldn't make me do those things unless a part of me wanted to do them. A little bit of me did want to see Kim's attempts at the PanGlobals fail, just like my efforts for the gold metal had. I'm not the type of person you deserve, Tommy." Kat said with a small sob. Tommy gathered her up in his arms.
"Sweetheart, you were the best thing that ever happened to me. For a long time after Kim left, I'll admit, I did want her back. I'd sit and pray each night that she'd come back home, and we'd be together again for the rest of our lives. But the more I got to know you, the more I realized just how much I'd been missing in my relationship with her. Kim was a good friend, yes. But she couldn't understand me like you do, because she did see things in black and white. She would never listen when I told her that the reason Rita's spell had worked so well was because a part of me really did want to see Jason fail as a leader. She blamed my jealousy entirely on the spell, I never could make her understand things from my point of view. I couldn't talk to her like I talk to you. She couldn't understand. She simply couldn't comprehend how much that stint as the evil green ranger had affected me, how it changed the way I looked at myself. After I became the white ranger, I pushed the whole episode into the back of my mind, hoping that it would simply be forgotten. Although, it never was, nor should it be. It's a part of what makes me, well, me. I couldn't be Kim's shining knight in white armor, and she never could quite understand why. You understand that part of me, Kat, tarnished armor and all. You aren't scared of it, you accept it. Kim could never do that. Kat, you are the girl that I love, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'd be lost without you." Tommy said as he took a callused thumb and brushed the tears off her cheeks. "Aw sweetheart, don't cry."
"I'm sorry Tommy. You were so excited about Kim coming tomorrow. Well, I guess I let some of my insecurities get to my head." Kat said as she drew a shaky breath. She felt Tommy's chest rumble as he chuckled.
"I've had over a year and a half to come to terms with my brush with darkness, and you've helped talk me through a lot of my own insecurities. You've had what, six months? What kind of a boyfriend would I be if I didn't help you through some of your problems, especially when I've experienced them myself? I'm excited Kim's coming in tomorrow because I'm trying my hand at matchmaking." Tommy said as his chuckle morphed into a full bodied laugh. Kat looked at him in surprise. His expression was mischievous, and his chest was puffed out in pride of what he'd thought up.
"Don't you think she and Jason would make the perfect couple?" He said. Kat laughed then, as some of Tommy's preoccupation's during the last week began to make sense. She smiled as she snuggled up against his broad chest. As she thought about it, she realized Tommy was right. Kim and Jason would make a great couple, just like them.