In a dimly lit room in a small apartment, thousands of miles away from family and friends, Kimberly Hart sat at her desk writing a letter with a heavy heart.
Things had been going so well since she had left Angel Grove to train for the Pan Globals. True, she missed her friends --especially Tommy. She almost hadn't returned to the gym after spending Christmas with him; it was only through his love and support that she had been able to go back. Then, something happened ... it was about the time she found out from Aisha that Rita's father, Master Vile, had come to Earth. He had messed with time, turning back the clock, and destroyed the Power Coins. Later, Aisha had written about the Alien Rangers from Aquitar, the quest for the Zeo Crystal, and that she and Billy were no longer Rangers. At the time, Kim had known somehow that something had taken place; she had felt the wrongness but hadn't known the cause. However, since that day, nothing had been right for her.
She glanced down at the creamy piece of paper laying on the desk, scanning over the carefully composed words. *"... you've always been like a brother to me...."*
Kim pushed back from her desk, not wanting to stain the stationery with her tears. She didn't want to be doing this --it was tearing her apart!-- but for some reason she could not explain, she knew it was what she had to do.
*I'm sorry, Tommy, but it's the only way....*
Then, wiping her eyes, she picked up her pen again, hoping the love of her life couldn't tell from the ink on the page how badly her hands were shaking as she finished writing her lie.
* * *
Over a year had passed in a haze of training and competitions. Kim hadn't even had time to think about her friends, let alone agonize over her regrets. Now, however, she was home again, but it hadn't been quite the homecoming she'd expected.
Jason had sent her a letter telling her about the karate tournament that Adam, Rocky, and Tommy were competing in to help save Little Angel's Haven; he asked if she'd like to come home and help the others out. It was with both excitement and trepidation that she had boarded the plane to California, and she'd never seen a sight more wonderful than Jason's smiling face when she deplaned at the airport. They had gone directly to the Youth Center; the others wouldn't be there for a while since they had practice, but the two long-time friends took the opportunity to catch up on events. Jason then filled her in on everything he could: Tommy finding a brother he never knew he had, his own short stint as the Gold Ranger, Billy's departure for Aquitar, and, most painfully of all for Kim, Tommy's relationship with Kat. Oh, he had tried to spare her feelings by saying he was never sure if Tommy had ever gotten over her, but it hadn't helped.
To cheer her up, he invited her scuba diving. *That* had turned into an adventure neither one of them had bargained for. They had scarcely been out in the water when Divatox had captured them to sacrifice to Maligore as his wedding present.
Kim still felt filthy inside from being turned evil and forced to fight her friends, but something good had come out of it ... something to give her hope. She had been squaring off with Tommy when he removed his helmet. She vividly recalled his expression as he tried to reach past the spell to find her. There had been so much emotion in it ... so much caring.... Perhaps if Kat hadn't distracted her, Tommy might have been able to break the enchantment without Lerigot's help. Ever since then, she had desperately wanted to talk to Tommy; she needed to know if there was any hope of undoing what she had done.
Her reflections were set aside as the bout commenced, and for a while she was gripped by the excitement of watching her friends compete. It had been too long.... When Jason stepped into the ring, Kim felt a pang regret and glanced surreptitiously at Rocky. She noticed the momentary shadow flicker across his face, but it was quickly replaced by encouragement for his friends.
At the conclusion of the match, Kim jumped to her feet with elation, clapping and cheering enthusiastically with the rest of the crowd. When the referee handed Tommy the trophy, she surged forward to congratulate her friends along with everyone else. Even as she hugged Jason, she sought out Tommy. She found him and Kat locked in a joyous embrace, his face shining with happiness.
"... anything is possible...." she heard him say, and her heart sank. Kim looked away quickly and found Jason regarding her with sympathy. He had seen the exchange, too. She searched his eyes for any shred of hope, but he simply shook his head.
* * *
Again the years passed swiftly by, but instead of being filled with furious activity, one day followed another in a drab parade of simply existing. Oh, there had been some joy in her life since her days in Angel Grove; she had had a wonderful career in gymnastics, but after that.... It had mostly been disappointments --a failed marriage (thankfully there had been no children to get caught in the crossfire)-- regrets and loneliness. And now, Kim was tired of simply existing. It was Christmas time, and once again Kim was back in Angel Grove after decades of being gone. It was at once familiar and strange; it wasn't really home. She didn't know why, but she found herself walking down a street she had never seen before. She paused for a moment before a cozy white house with a wide bay window. She didn't know why, but she felt drawn to it.
She could see into the living room with surprising clarity. A man with gray hair sat in a chair with a young boy sitting on his lap.
*Telling a story,* she mused, judging from the rapt expression of attention on the child's face. She smiled, thinking of her grandfather.
After a while, a woman joined the two, coming to stand behind the man's chair. There was something vaguely familiar about her blue eyes, and Kim felt a chill shudder through her.
Then, a young man hurried to the front door and went inside. A short while later, he emerged with the boy in tow. Kim's heart climbed into her throat. It couldn't be ... but the young man bore a striking resemblance to.... Then, in the doorway ... the man and woman ... she knew them --oh, how she knew them! Kat and....
"T-Tommy?" she stammered in disbelief. "Oh no ... no, no, no, no...."
Burying her face in her hands, sobbing, she sank to her knees on the pavement as the specter of that fateful letter rose before her eyes.
* "No more ... please ... oh God, no more...."*
* * *
"... no more ... no more...."
"Kim! Kim, wake up!"
"...no ... what...?" Kim mumbled thickly around her tears, feeling a hand on her shoulder gently shaking her awake. Blearily, she looked up at the man who smiled down at her.
"It was a bad dream, Beautiful; just a bad dream."
"T-Tommy? Is it really you?" she sniffled.
"Who else would I be?"
"Oh, thank God!" she sobbed, flinging herself into his arms and clinging to him as if she'd never let him go. "Oh, Tommy, it was awful! First, Master Vile turned back time and made you and the others children again ... he destroyed the Power Coins...." The words came pouring out in an unstoppable torrent until she concluded, "...and you married Kat and lived happily ever after with kids and grandkids, and I was all alone and...."
"Kim ... ssshhh, take it easy, hon," Tommy soothed, stroking her hair and hugging her trembling body close. "You know things didn't happen like that. Master Vile may have destroyed the Power Coins, but he never messed with time. You never sent me any letter telling me you'd found somebody else, and I most certainly never married Kat. David would have killed me for stealing his girlfriend! I married you --about twelve hours ago, remember?"
"J-just a dream?" Kim glance down at her left hand, conscious of the unfamiliar weight about her ring finger. A bubble of happiness swelled within her, pushing back the last fragments of her dream. She and Tommy were married now, just like they had always hoped.
"I knew brides were supposed to be a little nervous on their wedding nights, but nightmares...? Was I that bad?"
"N-no ... of course not!" she assured him, her fears melting as she recalled the evening's activities. She flashed him a lusty smile. "Mmm, you were perfectly wonderful."
"So were you," he murmured huskily, his mouth claiming hers in an exquisitely tender kiss. "So, Mrs. Oliver, how about we find something more pleasant for you to do in your dreams?"
"What did you have in mind, Mr. Oliver?"
"Oh, something like this...."
** For those of you who didn't get the title, it refers to the TV show _Dallas._ One of the season openers had Pam Ewing waking up and finding her husband Bobby, who was supposed to be dead, in the shower. It turns out the *entire* previous season had been just a dream!