Two Sides of a Coin: Forever and Once More
By Ranko

My view on what _really_ should have happened in the Tommy and Kimberly breakup. I've never seen it, so I don't really know what happened, so please bear with me and e-mail me at ranko@mnl.sequel.net if I totally screw up, and you'd like to scream at me. I'm sowweee...

This is a really short continuing series of vignettes. And when I say short, I mean _short_.

Forever

I flopped down on my bed and sobbed tears that wouldn't let themselves emerge while I was in the Youth Center, or in school.

They ran down my face, mixing with the long hair that sprawled out over my bed in untidy hazel waves, the same shade of brown-black as my eyes. She told me that she liked my face best of all of me, my high cheekbones and tanned skin appealing to her as no-one ever had before. So she said, and I believed her.

Why, Kim? Why'd you do it? Why this way?

She's so beautiful, I know that. Maybe other people might not think so, but to me she's the most beautiful in the world. Because of what she is inside as well outside: sympathetic and generous like no-one else. Generous, sharing her feelings and smiles even as she handed out compliments and love freely. Even to me.

When I first came to Angel Grove, I didn't know a soul. That boy I fought with at the competition... he was good, and his name was Jason. That's all I knew.

Then Kim came up to me.

The first thing I noticed wasn't her beauty, her slim grace with which she moved. Those came later. What I noticed first was that welcoming smile, just for me, the newcomer. Just for me, inviting me into her group and heart, where so many people were held dear.

And now she's thrown me out of that special place, where I thought I'd be lucky enough to be held forever.

After I was taken by Rita, I screamed and thrashed inside whenever that damn spell made me say something unbearably callous, humiliatingly cruel to her, whenever she was just trying to bring me back to myself, to make me Tommy Oliver again, and not the Green Ranger.

I was a loner then, alone and morbid, held in by my own guilt of what I'd done. I'd almost killed them, the only ones who could hold me back from the darkness. And when Jason broke that spell... they welcomed me with open arms.

The others may have welcomed me with open arms, but she welcomed me into her soul, gave me the most precious gift of a hug.

I fell in love with her that instant, I think.

When those perfidious Green powers finally let go of me, the green candle burning steadily out, my powers almost gone, I was empty. Just an empty vessel where a precious liquid used to flow. Even when I wanted to be alone, she came, and touched my life.

I guess I didn't want to be alone as much as I thought I did.

Damn, when her lips touched mine, my eyes closed and her lashes brushed my face...

But that's over.

I can't help blaming Rita and Zedd and Mondo for this-- give blame where it's due, I say-- but I know it must be my fault, somewhere along the line. Otherwise, she'd have called me, or come home, or something. She wouldn't have sent me that stupid letter.

That's not her way.

It's funny, but I never thought of how we would break up. I took it for granted that forever was forever, and that was that.

I never thought it would be from a dumb letter. Just a little letter, written on her traditional stationary. "Tommy, I've found someone," and that's it. The magic that we had's gone, boom, just like that.

I learned early that life wasn't fair. Why choose _me_ to be the Green Ranger? Why target me for the candles, when she had all the others? Why?

But sometimes that unfairness worked to my advantage. Sometimes. Someone _else_ could have been White Ranger... _I_ might have been the one to have to get the Yellow Zeo Crystal, bring it back, and give it to Tanya. The Rangers might not have accepted me after I'd nearly killed their leader, my best friend.

Kim might have chosen someone else.

But that's that. She _did_.

I should talk to her, should call her. Ask her why. But can I really bear to hear her reasons? That she doesn't love me anymore?

Or even worse, she never did?

I'd rather not know, and hope she's still thinking of me.

Right?

Yeah. Right. Whatever.

I guess what they say is true: you can lie to your girlfriend, you can lie to your parents, you can lie to your teachers, but if you lie to yourself, you'll figure it out sooner or later.

Well, Tommy, which one will it be?

The doorbell's ringing downstairs. It's the others, I know it is: Kat and Tanya and Rocky and Adam. Maybe Billy, too. The only one who really knew Kim was Billy... the others, well, Kat barely knew her, and Tanya never met her. They just know that Tommy's upset about something, and they want to know what it is. Canít they figure out that letter Adam read down at the Youth Center meant more to me than anything?

Did I tell them? I don't know, I can't remember. I don't think so.

Should I?

They'll have to know sometime. I'm a mess, even I know that. My hair's all tangled with my earring and my necklace, and I'd be willing to bet my eyes are so red it'll look like I've been drinking. No matter how much I hate alchohol.

It's tempting to drown my sorrows in a bottle of beer. My dad has a few of them downstairs. But I hate the taste and smell of alchohol. And it would kill my martial arts. And the kids are depending on Sensei Tommy. I've got to be strong for them. What would they do if he didn't show up for practice? They'd want to know what happened.

How many of them would understand?

I'm running in circles, like a mouse in a cage. The guys are going to be upstairs in a few seconds... I guess I'd better start prepping up for an explanation.

The white phone by my bedside. I will it to ring, will it to be one of my friends who understands. Jason, or Zach, or Trini. Them, I can talk to... even Billy. He knew Kim well enough... and God knows he knows me...

The phone shrills.

I'll love you forever, Kim.

The End

Once More

The wood under my hands is smooth from constant use and from the grip of the leather coverings of my hands.

There's nothing left but me and the uneven bars, my arms carrying my weight up and over easily--

Flip, catch the bars, swing up and over... let go! Flying... then the sensations of hardness beneath my hands as I bend my body double to snag the bar with my toes...

Somersault, bend body _just_ so... hair whipping my face, even through my ponytail... and my feet are on the ground again. Such a mundane thing, standing on the floor. Nothing like the sensation of flying on a vault, or uneven bars. It doesn't give the proper adrenaline rush that a good routine-- or a good fight-- gives.

A good fight.

There's no getting away from it, is there. I can't hide from it forever.

It takes a week for mail to get from here, Florida, to Angel Grove.

I sent that letter a week ago.

Maybe Tommy's out of town. Maybe it got lost. Or maybe--

Maybe he got it.

There's no way I'd be able to concentrate on any more routines, and it's about time practice finished, anyway.

Coach yells something after me, and I ignore him. It doesn't really matter, anyway... if it's important, he'll come after me. He's probably reminding me that I shouldn't go to practice late.

If Tommy's happy about that note, I'm going to scream. I will, I swear it. Because _I_ was in Hell, while I was writing it.

Why did I send that stupid, cold note? Why'd you do it, Kim? Dump him just like that? What did you have to prove?

That you want to lose your friends, when they're the only things you have left? Tommy would love you, no matter how far away you are. I know he would. That's his way.

But he has the right to be free, from me. It's not right, for him to be chained to someone so far away... he deserves someone who'll be with him, stay with him. Maybe... just maybe... him and Kat were getting along famously when I left. Maybe he'll turn to her, for the hugs and kisses and laughs that he used to get from me.

He'll survive, I know he will. He has to. The people-- the world-- need the Power Rangers... and Tommy needs to be a Ranger, to hold on to what he is.

That's why I loved him. That strength in his eyes, mingled with that utter gentleness... he could have had any girl he wanted. And instead, he chose me. And was _nervous_ about it!

I know that if I hadn't been so happy, I'd have laughed.

As his girlfriend, I stood beside him so many times... through the good and the bad, I hoped and prayed and laughed and cried with him.

And ended it with a Gods-be-damned note, so cold that the temperature dropped twenty degrees while I was writing it.

It wasn't right, and I know it.

I'm home, now... as much as 'home' can be in this cramped dorm room that doubles as an apartment. I miss my old room, with all the stuffed animals.

There's one that I kept, though, that I took with me to my gymnastic pursuits. It's still on my bed, smiling ferociously. A predictable white tiger, a little bigger than my head, so soft that its fur is like goosedown.

Tommy will always be my Tiger, no matter how many colors or powers he goes through. I'll always think of him, throat vibrating with a gentle purr that I'll bet he never noticed, whenever he held me in his arms, or his fierce roaring battle cry.

I miss him-- I miss all of them, but most especially him-- a lot. It's like pain, not knowing who he's with, what changes the team's gone through since I left. Not knowing whether he still thinks of me every day like he promised he would.

It's torture.

I don't know why I'm crying, now... actually, I do. I sent that letter to prove that I had no more ties to what I was, my days as a Power Ranger. That I was just Kimberly Hart, most promising for the balance beam routine, but nothing else.

I never wanted to be 'just' anything, before. But thinking about those I left behind hurts too much.

Especially those I loved as more than just friends. My big brothers, Jason and Billy. My sisters, Aisha and Trini. They're gone from my life... I don't know if I'll ever see them again.

And then there's Tommy.

I can name the exact instant I fell in love with him. So long ago... such a little thing. It was when he first blushed, smiled and looked away from me.

He's done it often enough, I know. But that first time, that first secretive smile and innocent blush, the averting of eyes so I couldn't see into those soul-windows... he drew me in as surely as if he'd tied a string to me. For good.

The string is stretched tight, now, over the miles that go from Florida to California. A glowing faded pink-white string, jumping the distance that separates us.

I tried to cut that string. Tried to prove that I can start again, from scratch, that I don't have to remember what's happened before. How my powers were stripped away from me-- no, that's not fair. I gave them up.

But it was like a piece of me was being taken. A little scrap of my soul, that I'd never really paid much attention to before... but once I found it missing, it made all the difference.

The cord's not cut yet. For me, it's not even scratched.

I still love him, my sweet Tommy. No chance otherwise.

I can't take back the letter. I can't make amends for stupid mistakes. No matter how much I need to.

Can I? He'll never accept me back... I wouldn't, if I were him. "Oh, I dumped you as a mistake." Yeah, right. Whatever. That doesn't happen, not in this world. There are rules, and rules need to be followed. You don't dump someone, then call them up and tell them it was an accident.

Do you?

I don't think I'd be able to talk to him-- hear that soft, husky, achingly familiar voice once more, taking it to heart all over again. My determination wouldn't hold up to it.

My pillow-- and Tiger-- are wet with tears. This is one of the times when I'm glad that Jen, my roommate, is out most of the time. She'd never understand... I don't think any of them would. They care about their gymnastics, is all... boys and the rest of the world are second matters. They've never known the kind of magic that just being held by someone you love has.

I told him that I liked his face best of all his physical features: those high cheekbones, his perfect lips, and those beautiful, beautiful eyes. And it's true.

But I love his voice, the way he held me like he thought that I was the most precious thing that existed. The gentleness of his eyes, and the fierce joy in his smile. The strength that let him lead us, through good times and through bad, no matter what got thrown at us, he never gave up. Catch and hold on, no matter the odds. And we persevered.

That attitude leaked over onto his personal life. I guess I'm the perfect example. Except that he doesn't know that I still love him, that his influence stretches out and touches me, no matter how far away I am. I could be in Phaedos, and I'd still be thinking of him.

I know what I should do. But can I bear the humiliation that comes with it, the open sarcasm, the angry words? Can I bear to hear him yell, "I hate you!" as I lie and tell him that I don't love him anymore?

I can't. I never could... they say that with every harsh word spoken, a slice of your soul gets flaked away. I can't end things like that... it would kill me, leave me a burnt husk which walks, talks, sleeps and eats without a heart. Without a personality. Without what makes me Kim.

There are two other alternatives. Leaving things as they are... no. Never. I can't leave things like this. It wouldn't be fair-- not to me, not to Tommy... and not to the team.

What if he's found someone else? I've been gone a long, long time... seems like I've been gone forever. The faces are fading, memories blurring into one another.

But there's one face that stands out, clear as always, whose voice never dulls with the passing of time, and whose eyes will always twinkle and lips always curve in a smile.

The other solution is to talk to him. As Kim, the one who laughed, inviting him to join the group for a drink at the Youth Center and teasing him into sparring with Jason. As Kimmie, the girl who shared so many hugs and tender words and roses and dates with him, from dark and sweet nights to park picnics. As the girl who left to go to Florida, her powers nothing but a dark ash remaining in her soul.

As Kimberly, the girl who dumped him so coldly and unnecessarily.

The number is imprinted in my mind in fire and gold, and the receiver slick with sweat in my palms. I can do this. I have to. One ring. Another.

Then _he_ picks up the phone, his voice rugged with tears. "Hello?"

"Tommy..." I sigh, heart squeezing in pain at the sound of his voice so distraught and tear-filled. "Can we talk...?"

The End

rule

Home