NOTES AND TIMELINE: Ninjetti period, shortly after Kat joined the team.
Ignoring the beautiful spring day around her, Katherine jogged down the lonely road, trying to work off her temper. She didn't know if it was a remnant of the spell Rita had put on her, or if it was PMS, or just teenage hormones running amok, but she was finding it almost impossible to control her temper recently. Just that morning she had gotten into a shouting match with her mother over the most trivial thing. And on Mother's Day no less.
She slowed to a brisk walk, letting her heart rate slow a bit, feeling the surge of anger finally fade away. She started paying more attention to her surroundings, noticing her route had taken her to the Angel Grove Cemetery. She usually avoided this area as cemeteries made her uncomfortable. She was about to turn around and head back when a movement beyond the gates caught her eye. She saw a familiar figure walking purposefully along one of the paths. Sandy hair, a trim physique encased in blue clothing, clutching a bouquet of spring flowers. Kat, moved by something she couldn't name, decided to follow him.
His route took him fairly deep into the cemetery. Stepping off the path he approached a small headstone and knelt down. Pulling some weeds that had sprouted at the base of the stone, he laid the flowers down and rose to stand above the grave, his hands in his pockets.
He stood quietly for several minutes, then said softly, "Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I miss you." He turned to leave and spotted Katherine standing there a few feet away watching him.
Tears glistened on her cheeks as she blushed, embarrassed to have been caught watching her teammate that way. But, something in the way he had stood there, his posture and demeanor, had touched her deeply.
"I...I'm sorry, I shouldn't have followed you here," she stammered as she started to back away.
"Wait, Kat, it's okay. Please, stay," he indicated she should join him. She hesitantly walked up to him and looked down at the headstone.
MARIE LOUISE CRANSTON
MAY 9, 1958-AUGUST 24, 1989
BELOVED WIFE AND MOTHER
She stared at the stone with her feelings in turmoil. When she had first assumed the Pink Powers, Kimberly and Aisha had taken her aside to fill her in on some of the idiosyncrasies of the team. Among other things, she was told that Billy's mother had died when he was very young, and no one ever spoke of it. Katherine, with a native curiosity that did justice to her nickname, had immediately been filled with questions, but had not voiced them. She had already accurately assessed Billy's reticence, she knew the questions would go unanswered. In any case she was too sensitive to others' feelings to pursue her curiosity when it could cause someone distress.
Billy glanced at her more closely, noticing the moisture on her face from her tears. "Are you okay?" he asked gently.
Katherine was startled by his question. "Am I okay? Yes, sure I am. Are you? I mean, doesn't this hurt? Being here?"
Billy considered his answer carefully. "Yeah, it hurts. It hurts when I come here, when I am at home, everywhere, anytime I think about what happened. So I avoid thinking about it as much as I can. But, it's Mother's Day, and she deserves to be remembered, no matter how much it might hurt."
"What was she like?" Katherine asked, then she saw Billy's look of surprise and confusion. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked I guess."
"No, it's fine. I'm just surprised, is all. I mean, no one ever asks me that. Ever."
"I was told I shouldn't. That it would hurt you, upset you."
"Katherine, it hurts me much more to think no one cares, no one wants to know. I got the feeling my mom's death was some sort of dirty little secret that everyone tried to ignore. That you asked about her, well, that's the nicest surprise I have had for some time. Do you really want to know?"
"Yes, I do," was Kat's sincere response. She winced at the idea that Billy thought his friends didn't care about his mother's death. She could understand the others wanting to spare his feelings, but she could see how it must have seemed to him.
Billy stood there silently for a few moments, then chuckled a little self-consciously. "I don't get asked this much, so I don't really know where to start."
"What did she look like?" Katherine prompted him.
"She was beautiful. Here, I can show you," he reached for his well-worn wallet. He removed a small photograph showing a smiling, fair-haired woman. She had delicate features and a merry smile. Katherine found herself captivated by her eyes. They were exactly the same as Billy's.
"She was so beautiful" Katherine murmured more to herself than to her companion.
"You have her eyes," Katherine noted as she handed the picture back.
"That's what my dad has said. I think it bothers him a little."
"I suppose it would, being a reminder of her. But also a reminder that part of her survived," Kat was thinking it through as she spoke.
"I guess. I just don't think he quite saw it that way. He got so distant after she died. I know now that he was grieving, but at the time I thought he blamed me somehow. He seemed to withdraw into himself and not want me around. It was a pretty bleak time for me. Until I made some friends that brightened my world."
"Kim and Jason and the others?"
"Zack and Trini. Yes, those are the ones. But for all their friendship, for all Jason's parents served as surrogate parents to me for a time, they still never asked about my mom."
"They were trying to spare you, I think," Katherine started. Billy stopped her with a gesture.
"I know, Kat," he said gently. He sighed sadly.
"What was she like? What did she like to do? Did she work?" Sensing that Billy appreciated the chance to talk about his mom, Katherine let her curiosity run wild.
He chuckled a bit. "She wasn't like me at all. She had a pretty freewheeling sense of humor. Dad has said she could pull the most outrageous practical jokes and get away with them because she was so charming. She was a teacher before I was born, later she semi-retired to be a full time mom. I guess she used to give her students quizzes with trick questions on them, just to see if they would notice. And if a student not only noticed, but also gave a good response, Mom would give them extra credit on the test. Her students loved her."
Katherine felt tears in her eyes again at the wistful tone in his voice. "What do you remember of her? You were nine when she died, right?"
"Yeah. I don't have a lot of memories, unfortunately. However, there is one that really stands out, I think you will see why. It was my ninth birthday. We had just moved to Angel Grove, and I wasn't very happy about it. I have always had a hard time making friends, I only had a couple of kids who would even talk to me where we lived before. So, obviously I didn't expect the new town to be any better. I was dreading when school started, I hadn't met anyone in the neighborhood. Looking back that certainly made sense, considering I rarely left the house. So, of course, when my birthday came around there were no kids to invite over. My mom, she, well, I guess you could say she was a realist in a lot of ways. I think she understood I would very likely spend a lot of time alone. That may have been what motivated her to give me the present she gave me on my ninth birthday. The afternoon of the 'big day', she blindfolded me, and she and Dad led me down the steps into the garage. There in a corner was set up a long table, and sitting on it, in a place of honor, was a microscope."
"The same one you use now?" Katherine asked softly.
"The very same one. I was thrilled. For a brief space of time I forgot how I hated Angel Grove, how I had no friends, how I didn't want the school year to start. My parents explained that the corner of the garage was my new 'lab', I could use it for experiments, research, whatever. The table was mine, and whatever I found on it was mine. But I barely registered all that. I finally had a microscope. Only the year before I had been allowed to use one at school, and I had wanted one of my own from that moment on. I immediately started collecting 'samples' to 'examine'. Hair, dust particles, dirt, a leaf from the elm tree, oil from under the car, a cookie crumb, whatever I could find I would look at. My parents, especially Mom, joined in my fun. They gave me the world and my future that day. Nothing was the same for me afterwards. A new world had opened and my path was set. I think my mom knew that I would now have something to take the edge off my loneliness. No matter what, I had a place to escape to, where I was, if not happy, at least content." Billy's expression was melancholy.
"That is the last time I remember being truly happy, with no sorrow underneath. She was dead within months, taken by a drunk driver. My father became like a distant stranger for months afterward and I got through as well as I could. It was several months later that I first met Jason, and through him, the others. Things got better after that, but always there is this emptiness. Not a sharp pain, like it was at first, but more a dull ache, when I think of her. The times, both good and bad, when I wish she was here. I remember when I went to the National Science Fair finals when I was twelve, she would have been so thrilled. I wish she had known how much her gift led to."
"Billy, I think she does know. And is happy for you. And proud." Katherine's voice was very soft.
He looked at her with tear filled eyes. "I hope so." He glanced down at the headstone again. "Thank you, Katherine, for asking me about her, and listening to the answer."
She didn't reply, but impulsively reached out to hug her friend. They stood together for a moment, then he pulled away gently, wiping at his eyes.
"If you don't mind a change of subject, what are you doing here, anyway?" he asked.
Katherine was suddenly ashamed of the actions that had led to her being there. "I went for a run, and this is where I ended up."
Billy looked more closely at her, sensing something, but he wasn't sure what. "Everything okay?" he asked at last.
Katherine's smile was open and genuine. "Yes. But I should be heading home. Walk you out?"
Arm in arm they walked back toward the cemetery entrance, not speaking.
* * *
Katherine got home a half-hour later. Seeking out her mother, Katherine embraced her tightly.
"What is this for?" her mom asked.
"Nothing in particular. Just to say I'm sorry for my temper earlier. And Happy Mother's Day, I love you."
"I love you, too, sweetie."
Author's note: This story is dedicated to the memory of my parents: Jeanne (1926-1989) and Dudley (1907-1966). I love you both. I miss you both. Until we meet again.