Legal Disclaimer: Saban owns the Rangers.

Author's Note: This is going to be a fairly long series, I do believe, touching on various Ranger romances and things of that nature. You'll see couples you recognize and couples you don't. It'll cover all of PR history, yet won't interfere [as far as I'm capable] with the timeline. Can you actually do that?

Romancing Red
by Cynthia

Tommy Oliver stretched, enjoying the delicious movements as he warmed up. The martial arts expo would be starting soon, and he was looking forward to seeing whoever this 'local champion' was. He'd sparred with lots of guys in the years since he'd started martial arts, but none of them had really equaled him. He had a natural gift for the arts, he'd been told by his first sensei, and mastered the various skills with an ease that left others gasping in his wake.

This should be fun, he thought to himself as he flexed and stretched and kicked. I don't know if I'll beat this champion, but I bet I can give him a run for his money. He glanced around, then paused in shock. His heart neatly skipped out of his chest in surprise as he saw a wash of brown hair and a pair of sparkling eyes that caught his attention from across the room.

She wasn't very tall, he doubted she'd come up to his chin, if that high. She moved with a gentle grace that convinced him she was no stranger to fighting or gymnastics herself. She's beautiful!! His heart stuttered in delight at the sight of her. He had to know her name, he had to find out who she was and what she was doing here.

Then he saw the guy next to her. Tall and built with rippling muscles, even more so than his own, dressed in a pair of gi pants and a red muscle shirt. Tommy knew at once that this was the champion, Jason Lee Scott, the one with whom he would be sparring very shortly. The girl and he appeared to be friends, and he could see others around them as well. A tall, willowy young Asian girl in yellow, a smooth-moving black teen dressed in black, and a bespectacled boy in blue who just sort of gave off the impression of being a genius. Tommy could almost see the bonds between the five of them, and felt a minor spurt of jealousy rising in him.

I wish I had friends like that, he thought, turning back to his warm-up. Who knows. ..maybe after the match, I can talk with them. He flipped a little more, then paused again, but not with pleasure this time, at the sight of a pretty face or a worthy competitor at last. This time, he was almost convinced he had felt someone's eyes on him. Someone unpleasant. Someone. . .he hesitated to use the word evil, but it could be the only one that actually fit in this case. Something that he didn't want to be paying the slightest bit of attention to.

He closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them, glancing around. No one appeared to be looking at him. Must have been my imagination. He took several deep breaths, calming himself. Just my imagination. I've heard too many weird stories about Angel Grove.

Stories about evil witches, monsters, and heroes. He almost felt like laughing. This sort of thing just couldn't be real, everyone knew it. The city fathers had probably just decided to do something to drum up tourism in town, so they'd started a very wild rumor. He shrugged mentally; it didn't matter. How long would he be here anyway? He'd spent the last few years going from place to place with his parents. His adopted parents. He repeated the word to himself again and again. It wasn't that he didn't love his adopted family, he did. But he wondered, usually around his birthday, just who it was that had actually given birth to him, if they thought about him, and if they even knew he was still around.

Tommy knew very little about his past. All he knew was that he had been adopted by the Olivers when he was two months old, and that he was part Native American. Just what tribe or who his parents were, they didn't know. He'd been left on the doorstep of the orphanage at a month of age, with a simple note pinned to his blanket: "Thomas James". Four weeks later, the Olivers had adopted him, and he had become Thomas James Oliver.

And I've spent most of my life since then traveling all around the world. John Oliver was a salesman, and his wife helped him out with their business. Whenever they got to a new town, Tommy was enrolled in school and his parents settled down to work up a clientele. They generally stayed a year at most, and that was it, they pulled up roots and started again.

But this time, he hoped things were different. His parents had been offered jobs in Angel Grove, and something about the town had seemed to appeal to all of them, even to Tommy, not the least of the things being that they had relatives here; his father's brother worked out of the racetrack nearby. Once again they'd headed out. Supposedly they would be staying here now, however. Tommy hoped so. He was tired of moving, tired of having to say good-bye to friends. He knew that one reason he was so good at fighting was because he had little else to do at times. It was either train or get caught up in all manner of depression because he had left behind yet another person he cared about. He wanted friends, friends he didn't have to say good-bye to. Friends he would honestly be able to say would die for him, and that he would die for. He'd never had that. And he wanted it. Badly.

Just then, he heard his name being called and headed over to the sparring ring. He was going to do his best, and just maybe he'd fit into this place after all. Just maybe. . .Tommy Oliver had come home.

* * *
Tommy slowly ran his fingers through his hair, and adjusted his shirt. Today was the day. A beginning and an end. The beginning of a new life for his girlfriend Kimberly Hart. The end of their time together, at least for now.

I can't believe she's leaving. It was incredible to comprehend. They'd been through so much together the last two years. His being evil. The dawning of their relationship. His shift from Green Ranger to White Ranger. The moving of Jason, Zack, and Trini to Switzerland. Her almost losing her own powers, something he knew all too well. A chill ran down his spine at that. It had brought up so many bad memories, memories he didn't want to think about. I came back. She got her powers back. And now she's leaving.

He shuddered briefly. Kim was leaving. Going to Florida to throw her heart and soul and body into training for the Pan-Globals. The second most prestigious athletic competition in the world, topped only by the Olympics. And she'll probably go there too. There was nothing in the universe he would deny her if he had the chance to get it for her, or be certain she could get it somehow. That included this. As much as he wanted her to stay with him, he wanted her to reach for her dreams too.

I just can't shake the feeling that if she leaves, I'll never see her again. Not like we were. He grabbed his car keys and headed out to his truck, ready to do the hardest thing he'd done in his life. Drive his girlfriend away from him forever. In the most literal sense of the word.

When he got to Aisha's house, Kim was already ready. Her bags had been packed the day before, and she was sitting out on the porch waiting for him. One look at her told him what she had been doing.

"Kim," he wrapped her up in his arms quickly and deeply. "I'm going to miss you so much."

She gazed up at him, and he was once again struck by how tiny and beautiful she was. "I know, Tommy. This has been my dream for so long. . .but I don't like leaving you." Something in her inflection told him she was not simply talking about leaving the team or her few remaining family members or Angel Grove itself. She meant him. Him in particular.

"I don't want you to go either," he told her honestly. "But it's up to you."

She took a deep breath, and for a moment, he thought she was going to change her mind. He wanted her to go. ..but he wanted her to stay too, and there was no way she could do both. She touched his face gently with one outstretched hand, and smiled. "We are going to write to each other. No matter what. And I'll visit when I can. This is my dream. One of my dreams, anyway," she smiled. "And it's one I can deal with right now. Once I've been in the Pan-Globals, I can come back, and we can get started on the rest of the dreams I've got. Together."

He blushed just a little at the mischievous gleam in her eyes. They'd never been intimate, but there had never been any question between them that they would one day marry. They weren't engaged, but something between them every time they were together made it feel so right that they were together. As their eyes met and their lips joined in a farewell kiss, Tommy knew that he would love Kimberly Hart forever.

* * *
Tommy stared down at the letter, and felt the warm tears trickling down his cheeks again. He had never felt this alone in his life. Alone. ..the word didn't even begin to describe what he was feeling right now. How could this have happened? They were happy together, deliriously happy. They'd written and called and visited as much as they could; Tommy had even managed to talk Zordon into letting them teleport down to Florida for Kim's birthday the previous month. She hadn't shown any signs of being involved with anyone else when they had visited. It made no sense. . .yet there was the evidence, right in front of his eyes.

My world is over. The Red Ranger shuddered with the force of his tears as he sat on his favorite cliff overlooking the ocean outside of Angel Grove. My world is over. He couldn't begin to imagine what he would have left to live for, without Kim in his life. When they had begun to date, he had become convinced at last that he was truly worth something. He might not have been the Green Ranger anymore, but he was her boyfriend, and that meant the world to him. That was why he would do so much for her, why he would do anything for her. To prove he was capable of doing something good in the world.

And now he had nothing. Now he wasn't her boyfriend. Oh, sure, he was the leader of the Rangers, and the powers he'd had ever since the unstable Green Morphin ones had vanished had never given him the trouble that those has. He didn't have those problems to worry about anymore. But now. . .now he had even more to deal with. And none of it mattered for a single second when compared to being with Kim, or rather, to not being with Kim.

I can't take this. He stood up quickly, teleporting to the Power Chamber. "Zordon, I have to go to Florida," his voice was flat and completely without anything that even resembled emotion. "I have to talk to Kim. . .or see her, at least."

Zordon looked down at him, and Tommy could see the compassion and caring in his mentor's eyes. They were not usually supposed to use the various abilities of the Power Chamber, including teleportation, for personal things, but this was different. . .and Zordon seemed to know it. A simple word to Alpha was all it took for Tommy's world to be replaced by blood-red light. When it cleared, he was standing in an out of the way alcove in Gunther Schmidt's compound. He'd seen it before, when they had come there to surprise Kim on her birthday.

"Hey, Kimmie!" he heard the voice clear and strong, and quickly ducked back so he wouldn't be seen. He didn't want to have to explain just why or how he'd gotten here so fast. I only got the letter two days ago. Not time enough to make a plane reservation.

Footsteps sounded, and he saw someone going by him. When nothing else sounded, he peeked around to see a face he knew as well as he knew his own, lit up with joy at the sight of someone he couldn't see. "Clark!" Kim sounded happy. "I thought you weren't coming!"

"I couldn't stay away," the stranger said, the two of them embracing and kissing. "How are you feeling?"

She smiled just a little, and Tommy felt a knife in his heart. "All right. You?"

"All the better since I'm now with you," Clark told her, and they hugged again. Tommy couldn't stand it anymore. He'd seen enough. More than enough. Heartsick, he triggered the teleportation back to the Power Chamber. Slowly, he swore to himself he would never love again.

* * *
Tommy shivered a little as he stared down at the various engagement rings in the display case. A smile touched his lips as he tried to figure out just what he was going to say to Kat. Will you marry me? Keep it simple? I dunno. It wasn't as if he were just asking her out for another date. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

After seeing what he had seen in Florida over a year and a half earlier, he had never thought he would love someone again. But as time passed and the wound had healed, he had come to understand and to accept Kim's decision. Of course, finding out that Clark had broken up with her had been a shock. When the two of them had finally had their cathartic talk after Murianthus, that had come out, Tommy had been the first to tell Kim that he loved Kat now. She had congratulated him, and wished them both the best of luck, and he had known she meant the truth.

"Have you made your decision yet?" he glanced up at the salesperson and smiled.

"I think so," he gestured briefly at one of the rings. He'd been saving money for this for years, since he'd originally begun to date Kim and discover how much he loved her. Though this wasn't quite who he'd thought of when things began, he wasn't against using it for Kat now. Money was money, after all. "That one there."

The clerk pulled it out, and Tommy quickly inspected it. Yes, this was the one. "I'll take it."

Thirty minutes later, Tommy was out of the jewelry shop and heading over to Kat's house. His heart was racing more than it ever had when he was near Kim, and his palms were sweating. I'm going to do this. I'm going to do this. I SWEAR I am going to do this. He took several breaths, trying to calm down. He hoped with all his soul that she would say yes. If she didn't. . .his mind couldn't comprehend what he would do if that happened.

"Tommy!" his girlfriend smiled as she opened the door and saw him. She was so beautiful. . .not more so than Kim, but differently. Everything about her was different, so different that he knew he wasn't just turning to her as the next best thing. Ranger-color wasn't enough to make him think he was with Kim, not with six inches of height different, a different face, and all manner of other things that weren't alike about them. And he loved so much about all those differences. . ."Come on in!"

Tommy smiled. "Hi, Kat. Are you busy? I . . .I want to talk to you." His voice trembled just the slightest bit as he spoke.

"Sure," she waited for him to enter and sit down as he so often had in the living room before shutting the door and joining him. "What's up?"

The Red Ranger looked at her, his hand dipping into the pocket of his jacket. "Kat, there's something that I want to ask you."