It didn't take Tommy long to find his dorm room at UFM, and it took him even less time to unpack. Once all that was done, he sat down on his bed to think. What should I do now?, he wondered. Should I go to the gym right now and surprise her? Should I call? Should I have called from Angel Grove to say that I was coming? He wished he had. The way head done it, just coming out with no warning to her, might make her feel like he had come to spy on her or something. That wasn't the way it was. Well... not completely anyway. What he really wanted to know was that she was alright, and that whatever boyfriend she might have was treating her good. He had other questions, but those could wait.
An unfamiliar voice snapped Tommy’s thoughts back to reality. He looked up to find a young man examining the picture of Tommy and Kimberly that was sitting on Tommy’s desk.
“Hi,” the young man said, extending his hand, “I’m Paul. I’m your new roommate.”
Tommy shook the outstretched hand. “Tommy,” he replied.
Paul nodded. “The girl,” he said. “It looks like the two of you have something special.”
“We did,” Tommy answered softly.
“Did...? Oh, I see. Must’ve been hard leaving her behind when you came out here.”
Tommy shook his head. “No, it’s not that,” he answered. “She’s here, in Florida... it’s just... it’s complicated.”
Paul nodded knowingly. “Oh, I see. She was one of THOSE.” Noting Tommy’s confusion, he elaborated, “You know, the kind of girl who makes you smile every time you hear her voice, who loves you even though sometimes you forget things... and you love her so much, you think that if you ever lost her, you’d die.”
“Well... that’s scratching the surface, anyway,” Tommy answered. He didn’t see how he could explain the whole thing to Paul without going into the whole “I used to be a Power Ranger” bit. And he couldn’t do that. Even after giving up his powers, it seemed to Tommy that telling anyone his secret would betray Zordon’s trust. And that was besides the fact that without proof, a story like that would sound pretty ridiculous.
Tommy looked at the picture of he and Kim one more time before telling Paul he was sorry but there was something he had to do, and running out of the dorm.
“Beautiful, beautiful!” Coach Schmidt exclaimed, congratulating Kim
with a hug after she dismounted the beam. “Oh, Kimberly. I am so proud
of you.” He released her from the hug. “You truly are one of the finest
althletes I have ever coached.” He paused. “There is something that I need
to tell you,” he told her then, a serious tone overtaking his voice. “Since
your excellent performance at the Pan Global Games, I have been fielding
call after call from publicists and reporters, with offer after offer for
“But coach, I told you, I don’t want to do commercials or endorse sportswear...”
“No no... I understand. As you say, you wish for your head to not get big.” He smiled. “But this, I feel I should tell you. I received a phone call the other day from a woman who seemed very interested in your gymnastics ability. When I told her that you did not wish to give up your amature status, she told me that was not what she intended to force you to do...” He put his hands on Kim’s shoulders and looked down into her eyes. “Kimberly, you have been invited to join the United States gold medal women’s gymnastics team on a national tour.”
Kim was stunned. She couldn’t believe what she had just heard... “M-me?”
Gunthar smiled at the spark in his prodigy’s eyes. “You are a very talented althlete, Kimberly. I am very proud of the work you have done here, in this gym. And I would like for you to accept this invitation. But I will not force you to do anything you do not wish to do.”
A few moments passed before Kim was able to put into words exactly what she was thinking. “Coach Schmidt, thank you so much. This is more than I have ever dreamed... But I... I need to think about it...”
“You take as much time as you need, Kimberly. This means as much to me as it does to you, and I do not want you to make any choice you do not wish to make.”
Kim nodded, and Gunthar had to smile at the bright, enthusiastic look in her eyes. She wanted this so much... but she was young, and it had been established long ago that gymnastics was not the only thing in her life. He didn’t want her to do anything that would make her love the sport any less, or make her give up things she held near and dear to her heart. “Okay. We are done for today. You may go back to the dorms.”
Kim frowned. “But it’s still early.”
“I think this is just cause for an early end to our practice. You have already proved yourself to me and to the world. Now, go ahead. Have some fun tonight. And be proud. You have reason to be.”
Kim’s smile reappeared and, “Thank you, Coach Schmidt!” could be heard as she raced for the locker room.
An hour or so later, after a quick shower and a change into a windsuit (just until she got to her dorm, where she would put on something suitable for going out with her friends) Kim emerged from the locker room. She gave a quick glance at her watch... it was barely 6:00. Normally, she’d be in the gym until after eight. This really WAS an awesome day...
Feeling especially good about herself and the way her day had gone, Kim opened up the doors of the gymnasium and headed out into the warm Florida air. It was a beautiful evening and she was thankful she’d left her car at the dorms and could enjoy the walk home. She wasn’t overly exhausted from a hard workout, nor was she in any sort of a rush.
She strolled along leisurely, not really noticing the people she was passing, until she reached the lobby of her dorm. She almost bumped into him, because she wasn’t really paying attention to where she was going, and she turned to say, “Oh, I’m sorry! I--” she stopped short as his eyes met hers. It had been three years, but suddenly... there he was.
Tommy. . . .
Kim couldn’t help it-- the question just sort of slipped out. Without even a “hi”, she asked him, “What are you doing here?”
Tommy looked a little taken aback, even a little hurt by her blunt question. It took only a moment for Kim to realize she didn’t really mean that the way it sounded.
“I’m sorry, Tommy... I didn’t mean for it to sound like that...” There was an awkward moment where they just sort of stared at each other. The hurt look in Tommy’s eyes faded and Kim said, “Well um... would you like to sit down and talk... maybe...?”
“Sure Kim.” He smiled a little. She was the same old Kim, and he still loved her just as much. The old feelings had never died. They’d been on hold while he was dating Kat, but they were always there.
They sat down across from each other in the lounge on the first floor of Kim’s dorm. For a moment, they just sat there and looked at each other before Kim broke the silence... “So...” she began, trying to jumpstart a conversation.
“So...” Tommy replied. “How’s gymnastics been going since the Pan Globals?”
“Great...” she hesitated, not sure whether to tell Tommy about the offer she’d just received. Of course I should, she decided finally. Duh. “I um... I got an offer just today... to go on tour with the Olympic women’s gymnastics team.”
“Wow,” Tommy replied. “That’s increadible... I’m so proud of you.” After a moment’s hesitation, he hugged her. “So are you gonna take it?”
“It’s so much more than I ever dreamed,” she replied, “But... I don’t know. I mean, all those girls are half my a--” “Are not,” Tommy interrupted, “And you know it. Most of them are your SAME age. I know you, Kimberly... you’re just making excuses. Why don’t you want to go?”
A long silence followed. Kim sighed... well... she could tell Tommy anything. “I don’t know if I want to do gymnastics for the rest of my life,” she confessed. “I want to go to college, I want to have a family... And I want the gym to always be PART of my life, but not my WHOLE life...”
“But I thought this was what you wanted-- to train in a gym with other girls, to compete, to have a coach like this...”
“It was. At first. But I assumed it would all end after the Pan Globals... It didn’t; that was just the start. And I miss you guys, and I miss my personal life, and I miss... McDonald’s french fries and walks along the beach...”
Tommy just nodded. He didn’t know exactly what to say.
“And I can’t help thinking that if I’d never left Angel Grove, you and I might still be... you know...”
The words hit Tommy right in the heart. They were words he’d wanted to hear for a long time... a spark of hope that maybe, in some deep corner of her heart, Kim still had feelings for him. But he had to put that aside for a little bit and deal with what his mind was telling him instead of what his heart was telling him. “You did what you had to do at the time,” he replied. “Niether of us could have known what was going to happen. And this has been good for you, being out here, learning what it’s like to be a pro. You needed to do this, Kim-- if you hadn’t, you would have never forgiven yourself. You know that and I know that.” There was a moment of silence while Tommy collected his thoughts. “And I don’t want you to base your decision in this case on the fact that I’m here in Florida. Look into your heart. It’ll never steer you wrong.”
“You’re such a sap,” Kim teased. “Listen... I gotta get going.”
“Yeah, me too...” Tommy stood up and headed for the door.
He turned at the sound of her voice. “Yeah?”
“I had a nice time talking to you tonight.”
“Me too, Kim.” He smiled. After a moment’s thought, he said, “Listen... do you think it would be okay if after my classes tomorrow, I could drop by the gym... I dunno... maybe we could talk some more, go for that walk on the beach...”
“You mean a date.” She sighed and gave Tommy a look that plainly said ‘I know what you’re up to’.
“No, no, not a date! Just... you know... to catch up. I could tell you what’s been happening in Angel Grove since you left.”
She hesitated. “Well... alright.”
Tommy barely made it through his classes the next day. He had never
been a clock-watcher, but suddenly, he became one. He knew he should be
listening to the professors, especially on the first day of classes, but
he just couldn’t. He couldn’t stop thinking about her. And he wondered
about everything she hadn’t told him in his letters... and about this new
opprotunity, and whether or not she would take it. He didn’t want her to--
now that they were both here in Florida, he wanted to keep it that way.
But on the other hand, if it was what she really wanted, it was more important
for her to be happy.
Finally, at long last, Tommy’s 3:30 class ended and he bolted from his seat and out the door. He made a quick stop at his dorm room to drop off his books, made a quick glance at his reflection in the mirror, and headed for Coach Schmidt’s gymnasium.
He arrived there to find Kim working through a routine on the bars. Tommy stood back and watched for awhile before making his presence known... it was a rare opprotunity for him to see Kim working on the bars. They weren’t her favorite, but he wasn’t sure why. She was so graceful on them... so beautiful. But Kim loved a challenge, and there was definitely a lot of challenge in flipping back and forth across a four inch wide beam.
Kim dismounted the bars and noticed Tommy immediately. She jogged over to him with a big smile on her face. “Hey Tommy,” she greeted him. “How long have you been here?”
“A little while,” he answered. “That was awesome, what you did on those bars.”
She blushed. “I’ve done better,” she replied modestly.
“It was still awesome.”
“Kimberly!” Coach Schmidt called from across the gym.
Kim looked up and caught her coach’s eye. She knew that look. “Listen, Tommy, I gotta get back to work,” she told him. “But you can stay and watch if you’d like.”
“I think I just might do that,” he answered with a grin.
Kim walked back across the gym to join her coach at the bars while Tommy went upstairs to the observation deck to watch.
She was so beautiful on those bars, he thought as he watched. So graceful... to Tommy, it appeared as if she never missed a beat. But Tommy didn’t have a coach’s careful eye. He watched as Kim completed her routine and talked something over with Coach Schmidt. Well, her coach talked and Kim mostly nodded a lot and then got up to try the routine again. And that was when it happened.
Tommy couldn’t tell exactly what went wrong, but something sure did. One second Kim was making the transition from the low bar to the high bar-- it was perfect, Tommy could tell by how excited Coach Schmidt got. But the next second... she just... fell. Not enough power or something. She crashed from the high bar to the floor in no time flat. She landed with most of the weight on her head and was out cold... Tommy felt a wave of terror wash over him. He stood up from his chair and bolted down to the gym.
Tommy remained at Kim’s side the entire ride to the hospital. He held
her hand in the ambulance and all the way to the emergency room. But when
the doctors arrived, they told him he had to leave, promising they’d tell
him what was going on as soon as they knew anything.
Tommy sat with Gunthar Schmidt in the hard waiting room chairs. Niether of them said much... they were worried about Kim. Finally, a doctor approached them, clipboard in hand. Both of them stood up. “How is she?” Tommy asked.
“She took a pretty hard fall,” the doctor replied. “She’s got a concussion, but she’ll be fine... She’ll have to stay in the hospital over night, but after that, if there’s no other problems, she can go home.”
“Can I see her?” Tommy asked.
“I don’t see why not.”
Kim turned her head to look up at him. “Tommy,” she whispered.
“How’re you feeling?”
“I’ve been better,” she replied.
Tommy pulled up a chair next to her. “You took a pretty nasty fall,” he told her.
“I’m sorry you had to see that,” she said. “It wasn’t exactly my moment of glory.”
“The doctors say you’ve got a concussion. I had one of those once... it hurt a lot.”
“I can’t go to sleep tonight,” she told him. “They won’t let me.” There was a pause. “Will you stay with me, Tommy?”
Her request took Tommy completely by surprise, but he was glad to hear it. “Of course I will, Kim.” He smiled at her. “Of course I will.”
Not letting Kim go to sleep that night seemed a lot easier in the early evening hours. But as it got darker, as it got later, Kim wanted nothing more than to close her eyes and go to sleep. Tommy was at a loss for what to do, and “You gotta stay awake, Kim” just wasn’t working anymore.
He wasn’t sure where the idea came from, but about nine o’clock, he said to her, “What was the best thing about being a ranger?”
Kim didn’t answer right away. And when she did, she asked, “I don’t know... why?”
He shrugged. “I’m curious. And anyway, it’ll give you something to think about and talk about, and you won’t fall asleep.”
Another pause. Finally Kim replied, “It was all so worth it, you know? We were saving our city... we were saving human lives. I mean, it’s hard to think about it that way, but the truth is, if it weren’t for the Rangers... a lot of people would have died. And earth wouldn’t be the same. But we stopped that from happening... we saved lives, but we did it because we wanted to. Not because we got medals or praise, but because... it was... just so cool...” She looked up at him, and he was nodding. “What?”
“Somehow I knew you were gonna say that,” he explained. “I feel the same way... I think we all do. I think it’s part of being a ranger... but... aside from that. What made it worth it?”
“Being with you.” An uncomfortable moment of silence followed. “One thing I remember the most about those days... right near the end... I remember when came down into Zedd’s dimension and stopped him from stealing my powers. You could’ve been killed... and you did it all for me. I never thanked you the way I should have, and I’m sorry...”
“It was nothin’,” he answered, hoping she couldn’t see him blushing. Then he went on, “What I remember most was right at the beginning. When I was the Green Ranger... man, it seems like so long ago now. But I’ll never forget those days... they were so hard, not knowing whether I was good or evil, whether I had powers or not, whether I was part of the team... or not... and you guys always made me feel like I fit in.” He smiled at her. “Especially you.”
It was Kim’s turn to blush. But she quickly covered it up by saying, “Okay, I got one. I’ve always wanted to know... When you became the White Ranger... when Zordon told us that you were the new leader... what happened between you and Jason? I mean, was he upset at all? I would’ve asked him myself except that I didn’t want to pour salt in the wound...”
“We talked about it after that first battle, him and me. He was a little upset, I think, but he handled it well. As for me, I...” his voice trailed off.
“You what, Tommy?”
“I never felt like I did as good a job as he did... Every time something went wrong, I found myself thinking... ‘if Jason was still in charge, would it have happened this way?’”
“Tommy, I never knew you felt that way.” Kim grinned. “You did an excellent job, Tommy Oliver. You were a wonderful leader and you did just as well as Jason did, if not better... and don’t you ever forget that.”
“Yes ma’am...” Tommy frowned as he noticed her wincing. “What’s wrong, Kim?”
“My head... it hurts...” She reached up and put her hand on the right side of her head and rubbed it a little. “I’m so tired, Tommy. Please let me... just get a little... sleep...”
“No! Kim, stay awake... come on, you can do it.” He paused, thinking quickly. “Stay awake, keep talking. Tell me about one experience in high school that sticks out in your mind-- aside from being a Ranger. The one thing you’ll always remember about Angel Grove High.”
She blinked a few times. “There were lots of times,” she said finally. “But one... I remember the school play when we were sophomores. I was the beautiful young princess locked in a tower... and Bulk was Rumplestilskin. And he got out there for the final scene and bent over and--”
“And he split his pants!” They exclaimed together. Both of them laughed. For a moment they were lost in the good memories... but the mood quickly sombered as the laughter faded and Kim said, “Tommy? I--,” she couldn’t find the words, though she knew they needed to be said.
“What is it, Kim?”
“I’m sorry.” A tear rolled down her cheek. “I never meant for it to be that way. I just didn’t know how else to... and I was so...”
“Kim?” He reached out and took her hand. He was concerned now... he had no idea what she was trying to say, and that it had just come out of nowhere kind of scared him.
“The letter I wrote you. The one... telling you I had met someone else...”
“Oh.” The old memory still hurt as badly as it did when he first heard the words escape Adam’s mouth.
“I know it must have hurt you,” she went on. “But I didn’t know how else to tell you. I... I’m so sorry!”
“It did hurt me,” he replied. “But... I loved you so much that I wanted you to be happy. And if that was what made you happy... then I couldn’t try to stop you. But I never stopped loving you, Kimberly.”
“And the only time I felt truly loved was when I was with you.”
There was a long silence. The two of them sat there in the semi-darkness of Kim’s hospital room, him looking down at her and her looking up at him. Their eyes locked onto each other just the way they had in those days that now seemed so long ago. And somewhere in that silence, that look of love that each of them had missed so much in all these years returned. Then, slowly, they leaned toward each other, and their lips met. He reached over and brushed his hand against her cheek the way he used to when they kissed, and she closed her eyes, and thought to herself how right this felt...
When they parted, they gazed into each other’s eyes for a long time. Niether of them said anything until Tommy asked, “So... are you ready to give this another try?”
She nodded. She’d never been more ready for anything in her entire life. “I’m glad you came to Florida, Tommy.”
“So am I, Kim.” He pulled her head to his chest, since he couldn’t hug her. “So am I.”
Kim made a quick recovery and was back in the gym two days later. But when she returned to the gym, she also returned to the Decision. She still didn’t know what to do-- and with Tommy back in the picture... but she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. She hadn’t felt this good in years.
“You are feeling good today, are you?” Coach Schmidt asked with a smile as he noted the extra finese in her routines. His smile brightened as he added, “It is a boy. The young man I saw you with the other day. Tommy.”
Kim just grinned in reply.
“I am glad to see you are so happy.” There was a break in conversation while Kim worked through her bars routine. Gunthar thought she would hesitate at the skill where she had fallen, but she didn’t even pause for a second. He smiled at that. When she landed beside him, he said, “That was beautiful, Kimberly. Now, I must ask. Have you given any more thought to the tour?”
Kim bit her lower lip. “Coach Schmidt, I...”
Tommy was restless through his classes all day. It was deja vous. All he could think about was that when the day was over, he’d get to see Kim. When it was all FINALLY over, he raced over to the gym.
He spotted Kim working on a tumbling pass on the floor. God, she was beautiful when she did that. Well, he thought to himself, she’s beautiful when she does anything...
She spotted him and ran over, greeting him with a hug... and then a kiss. He smiled. “Hello Beautiful.” With a laugh, he added, “You’re certainly in a good mood today.”
“Mostly because of you,” she replied.
“Mostly?” He pretended to be insulted. “What else is there?”
“I’m not gonna go on that tour, Tommy,” she replied. “And I’m happy about it. And this time, I’m not going to change my mind. I’m staying here, in Florida-- with you.”
“Aw, Kim... you don’t have to do that.”
“I know. But I’m not doing this because I have to, I’m doing it because I want to. I left you behind once and I’m not going to do it again, because I might not get another chance. Besides, I want to go to college, and this is the perfect opprotunity. I was offered a full athletic scholarship at UFM, and I’m going to take it. I start in the second semester.”
He hugged her tight. “You have no idea how happy you just made me,” he whispered in her ear. “Thank you.”
“I should be thanking you,” she replied. “If you hadn’t come, I probably would’ve gone on that tour.”
“Then you should--”
“No, Tommy. That wasn’t what I really wanted. But having you here, having you with me... it gave me the confidence to tell Coach Schmidt that I didn’t want to do gymnastics for the rest of my life. And do you know what? He respected my decision. He said that I was a wonderful gymnast, but I was an even better person inside... because I followed my heart.”
They hugged again. Then Kim went back and finished her workout and Tommy watched. They went out for dinner that night, and they took their walk along the beach. Fate had given them another chance to be together, and this time, nothing was going to tear them apart. They had made some mistakes, but they were wiser for each one. They had come through a lot together, and now they were ready to take on new challenges. This time, there would be no monster attacks, no evil spells, no fading powers. This time, they were being given a second chance to fall in love. And any passerby on the beach that evening, as the sun was setting over the horizon and a couple strolled hand in hand along the shoreline, could tell you that a second chance was all Tommy and Kim were going to need.
And (in the spirit of a fairy tale romance) they all lived happily ever after.