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we gladiate but i guess we're really fighting ourselves

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“I think we should start a band.”

Trini glances up, raising her eyebrows. “You think we should what? 

“Yeah, it sounded like you said start a band,” Jason says, only slightly surprised. ‘Surprised’ because they were taking a water break and there hadn't been any mention of anything music related, but ‘only slightly’ because it's Zack who brought it up.

He nods.

“It was funnier when Kim made that joke,” Trini says, leaning back against the wall of rock behind her. 

Kimberly doesn't say anything, just smiles against her water bottle as she takes another drink.

“No, I'm serious, guys,” Zack says, hopping up onto his feet. “Think about it. I know we've got talent; I've seen it. I seriously think we could be good.”

“Care to elaborate on what ‘talent’ you're so sure we have?” Kim asks, crossing her arms after returning her bottle back to its place on the ground. It's hard to take Zack seriously when he comes up with ideas like this at least five times a week, but when they aren't exhausted and in terrible moods, they can handle humoring him. And the excitement on his face is so genuine, it'd be sad to shatter it--especially since this is one of the few times he isn't being an annoying asshole about something.

Zack’s smile grows, and he nods again. “Sure. Billy on the drums would be killer. Trini takes keyboard, and Jason on electric guitar. Kim, you've got a sick voice. We've all heard you sing, so don't pretend you can't. And I've obviously got bass. It's literally perfect.”

Billy nods. “He does have a point. We all know how to play those instruments, and Kim does sing well. But I don't know if we can fit a band in between school, detention, and ranger training."

Jason’s about to say that Billy's right, even if the idea of it is nice. But he was only pausing and isn't done talking yet.

But, it could be a weekly thing. If we cut training in half after detentions on Saturdays, or after school on… Wednesdays, then it could work. Playing the drums relaxes me, and I don't get to do it much anymore in between projects.”

Zack’s grinning, motioning to Billy excitedly.

Jason sighs and then nods. “Okay. Maybe you're right.”

“Wait, so we’re actually taking this seriously now?” Kimberly asks, looking between everyone.

“Yeah, it'll be harder than it sounds,” Trini almost mumbles. “We know how to play, sure, but it’s different when we’re all trying to play in sync with each other. Maybe you guys can try it out, but I'm--”

“Whoa-ho there, crazy girl,” Zack says, dropping to the ground next to her, and throwing an arm around her shoulder. “We need you. The Rangers can't exist without yellow there, too. And don't tell me you wouldn't love an excuse to thrash and rock out without your parents threatening to take the door off your bedroom.”

She pushes him off of her, and sits up again, slightly less relaxed than before. “Fine. I guess it isn't totally dumb. But I haven’t touched a keyboard or a piano in two years. And we are not calling ourselves ‘The Rangers’.”

“That's okay,” he says, sitting back and holding his hands up defensively. “I'm flexible. Zack’s Zords does have a better ring to it.”

Trini glares at him for a few seconds, clearly annoyed. Zack only finds it even funnier. “I literally hate you.”

He holds a hand over his heart. “Ouch. That hurts, T.”

“What do you think, Kim?” Jason asks, attempting to ignore the other two. 

“I think you're overestimating my ability to sing.” Kim shakes her head. “I'm just good at karaoke.”

“And singing along to the radio, and humming when you've got earbuds in during training or while we study, or literally any other time you burst into song and somehow always manage to sound flawless.” Zack shakes his head sadly. “It's really just unfair that you're effortlessly so good and you don't even know it.”

“As much as I hate to say this,” Trini adds. “Zack’s right." 

Jason and Billy nod too.

Kimberly pauses to think it over. “Do I really do it that often?” 

“You do,” Billy says. “But we usually enjoy it. Or, I usually enjoy it. Having background noise helps when it gets too quiet around the pit, and you have good taste in music.”

“Thanks Billy.” She smiles. “Okay. Then I guess I'm in too.”

Zack jumps up, letting out a loud sound of victory and then fist pumping the air. Jason nods along, but says that they'll figure out how everything is going to work later--right now they still have half of a set of training left to get through.

 

---

 

Black and Yellow
[thicczack | trinineedsanap]

thicczack: yo t, u maybe wanna keep it in ur pants when the rest of us are in the room??

thicczack: like I'm rooting for u, but if ur trying to be subtle it isn't working

trinineedsanap: what are you talking about

trinineedsanap: and why is that ur name? Don't lie to the world like this

thicczack: exCUSE YOU

thicczack: I HAVE A GREAT ASS

thicczack: I'm offended

trinineedsanap: [surejan.gif]

thicczack: anYWAY

thicczack: I'm talking abt ur thirsting over Kimberly

trinineedsanap: what?

thicczack: at training earlier??

thicczack: do I really need to spell it out for u???

trinineedsanap: yes because I still don't know what ur talking abt

thicczack: u literally almost took my arm off when I made one (1) joke abt Kim

thicczack: tell me, when does ‘staring longingly at someone’ stop being platonic??

trinineedsanap: ur high, dude. Kim’s my friend just like the rest of u 

thicczack: uh, sure, except u don't want to bang the rest of us

thicczack: i mean, at least u don’t lose the ability to function like she does

thicczack: ur lucky this isn't in person bc I know u wouldn't be able to look me in the eye and say u don't have feelings for her

trinineedsanap: shut up, go annoy someone else. I have to help w dinner

thicczack: it took u ten minutes to respond, and u still didn't deny it. I rest my case.

 

---

 

We Dem Bois
[thicczack | billyc | goldenboi]

thicczack: pls tell me u guys could feel the sexual tension earlier

goldenboi: Why is this still our group name? 

goldenboi: Can we change it?

thicczack: but

thicczack: we dem bois 

billyc: What do you want to change it to? 

goldenboi: idk, anything. We need a change

thicczack: ugh fine

 

thicczack changed the group name to Cracking Open A Cold One W The Boys

 

goldenboi: That's kinda long tho

thicczack: oh my goddddd

 

thicczack changed the group name to Cracking Open A Cold One (...)

 

thicczack: this is as far as I'm willing to compromise 

goldenboi: Ok fine, I guess it'll do 

thicczack: now back to my q

billyc: Do you mean earlier during training?

thicczack: ya

billyc: Sexual tension between who? 

goldenboi: Trini and Kimberly 

thicczack: yes!!! Jason my man!!

billyc: Oh. Kim’s face did get really red when Trini pinned her to the ground 

billyc: I thought she was tired from sparring, but that makes sense

thicczack: u got it, b, that's exactly what I'm talking abt

billyc: Does Trini like Kim, too?

thicczack: must I reiterate that she baSICALLY THREW HERSELF AT K

goldenboi: Yeah, Kim flirts with her all the time 

goldenboi: Openly

goldenboi: And without shame

goldenboi: But Trini’s more open and relaxed around Kim than w/ any of us

thicczack: kim’s just a hopeless bi mess and t is the most oblivious person I've ever met 

thicczack: so how do we fix this??

goldenboi: Get T to open her eyes or K to make a real move

goldenboi: But easier said than done 

billyc: Maybe we shouldn't meddle in their relationship

goldenboi: ^^ he's right though. We should let them handle it how they want to

thicczack: t r u s t me bros 

thicczack: I have a plan

thicczack: next time we see each other just let whatever happens… happen 

billyc: What does that mean, though?

goldenboi: If Zack's going to crash and burn, we should just ignore him like we usually do

billyc: Oh. Ok, cool.

thicczack: uh

thicczack: rude

 

---

 

Biconic Duo
[goldenboi | kimberleavemealone]

goldenboi: Hey

kimberleavemealone: What's up?

goldenboi: your name is rlly long

kimberleavemealone: Did u text me just to be an ass or do u have a point? ‘cause I can just message Zack to get that and he's actually funny sometimes 

goldenboi: whoa sorry

goldenboi: u ok??

kimberleavemealone: Yeah

kimberleavemealone: Sorry. I just made the mistake of finally cleaning out my Twitter and saw some stuff I wish I hadn't

kimberleavemealone: Don't worry about it, I'm fine. What did you want to talk about?

goldenboi: Are u sure, cause this isn't that important if u wanna talk about it 

kimberleavemealone: I'm fine, seriously 

goldenboi: ok. I just wanted to let u know that zack is starting to notice that you’re into T, so if you want HER to realize it too

goldenboi: u might need to be a little more… ya know… straightforward

kimberleavemealone: tbh, I think I'd rather just keep doing what I already am for now. I don't even know if she likes me

goldenboi: you're joking right

kimberleavemealone: Uh. No. Has she told you she does?

goldenboi: She doesn't need to tell me for me to know. She's about as obvious as you are

goldenboi: I mean?? I think she does. I wouldn't say that if I weren't almost entirely positive. 

kimberleavemealone: Sure, jace. I'll take that into consideration

goldenboi: Just a heads up; if u don't do something soon, I'm pretty sure Zack's gonna make a move for u 

kimberleavemealone: Oh god. I can’t do that, though. All of my confidence literally disappears as soon as she walks into the room

goldenboi: Yeah, well. Just try not to waste too much time at practice again 

kimberleavemealone: No promises

Chapter Text

Ranger Danger
[thicczack | goldenboi | billyc | kimberleavemealone | trinineedsanap]

thicczack: so training after class, right??

goldenboi: Yes

thicczack: and everyone knows our first band practice is tmrw after detention?

billyc: Yes. Just finished the final touches for soundproofing my room. It was surprisingly much easier than I was anticipating. There are plenty of outlets for the amps and stuff. And Trini’s keyboard, assuming it's a model that uses a chord instead of being wireless. Also my mom said she'd make snacks.

thicczack: yesss!!!

thicczack: u and ur mom r awesome, Billy

thicczack: so tmrw is just a jam sesh so we can figure out our sound; don't flip if we don't sound lit right away

trinineedsanap: exactly what I said when u first brought this up

thicczack: ok sorry. ^^previous comment ©trinigomezinc, Smol Angry Gay Studios™, “Maybe You Should Listen To Me, Dumbass,” The Pit, 2017.

goldenboi: Whoa

kimberleavemealone: omfg

trinineedsanap: why are u like this

thicczack: hey, I give credit where credit is due

kimberleavemealone: Oh my god, this is so accurate?

trinineedsanap: don't encourage him

 

---

 

Training was going fine, honestly. Jason wanted them to practice with some putties for a while, so they morphed and fought in their armor--which means less physical pain when they fucked up a move. But ‘was’ is the key word, because they've finished that segment and are now moving on to sparring. Without armor. Because they're used to it, and they might have trouble morphing in the future, and there's probably plenty of other reasons why it's a good idea to practice in just their workout clothes.

Training was fine.

But now Trini and Kimberly are paired off, and it's both a blessing and a nightmare. Trini’s… distracted to say the least. Kimberly’s outfit isn't revealing or necessarily sexy, but she has such nice arms, and legs, and… everything, really. She was a cheerleader, so is it really necessary to elaborate any further? Trini could--she could go on and on--but she also can't because she's supposed to be focussed on the fight. She can't lose her edge now.

And normally that isn’t a problem. If she’s freaking out, it’s all internal; perks from years of keeping her feelings to herself and looking as unaffected as possible on the outside.

She does a good job of blocking for a while. Kim's technique is smooth and graceful, so anticipating a move doesn't come as sporadically like it might with Zack. But she soon realizes that Kim’s holding back. And that's not good because it means she's noticed that something's off, and she'll probably question Trini about it later, and that absolutely cannot happen.

So she shakes herself out of it--tells herself to save the gay for another day--and really tries this time. They get into an actual rhythm after that, Kim realizing that Trini’s head is no longer stuck in the clouds, and stepping it up so her hits would actually be painful if she landed one.

Trini makes it through their session in one piece. Barely.

Once they've finished and are taking a breath before they all leave, Kimberly decides to pull a classic Jason Scott, Angel Grove’s Golden Boy move, by pulling her tank top off--leaving her in just a sports bra--and using it to wipe the sweat from her face.

“You okay there, T?” Zack smiles. “You're looking a little thirsty.”

Her response is to punch him in the arm. “Shut up.

It's a really nice sports bra.

“Trin!” Kimberly calls out, holding up her water bottle. “Mine’s empty. Can I get some of yours?”

Trini swears Kim’s enjoying this way too much for it to be innocent. But that might just be her imagination. “Uh… Yeah. Sure thing, princess.”

Kimberly’s still smiling--maybe more amused than before--and grabs for her bottle of water.

Suddenly she feels a weight on her shoulders. She doesn't have to glance up to know who it is, but she does anyway and sort of regrets having to see the stupid grin on his face.

‘Kim’s my friend, just like the rest of you,’” he says in a mocking tone.

She pushes at his arms to get them off of her shoulders. “Would you get off of me?” 

He backs off. “She’s doing this on purpose. Are you going to sit here and tell me this is normal platonic behavior? Again?”

Trini contemplates doing just that, but ends up deciding against it. Denying it again would just be dumb at this point. She glances up at him and shakes her head, saying under her breath, “Later.”

Off to the side, Billy and Jason are also taking their water break, but they feel like an audience. Of what, they aren't really sure.

“Has Zack done anything yet? Is something happening?” Billy asks.

Jason shakes his head, eyebrows furrowed. “I don't think so. I’m not really sure what’s happening.”

They watch Zack ease up and finally leave Trini's side to grab his things. Kimberly takes his place almost immediately. They can't hear the conversation the girls are having.

Kimberly knocks her shoulder into Trini’s, moving forward a bit to indicate a walk towards the ship. “Were you okay earlier? You looked a little out of it.”

“Yeah.” Trini nods. “Just got a little tired is all.”

“Having trouble sleeping?”

She had meant from messing with the putties, but if she were being more honest the answer would be yes. Because she has been having trouble sleeping. Ever since Rita attacked her, and Billy died, and giant fucking Goldar helped tear apart half the town. All within twenty-four hours of each other. But she doesn't talk about that. They already know she's the weak one because Rita picked her, and she doesn't need to give them any more reasons to believe that.

Still, she takes a little too long to respond, and there's some confusion on her face, so Kimberly takes it as a, “How did you know that?” look. “Ranger sixth sense. I didn't know who it was coming from, but I could feel it.”

“Fuck,” she says, the realization spreading through her. “Are you serious? Have I been fucking up everyone's sleep for weeks? Why didn't you guys say anything?”

Kimberly shakes her head. “No, I don't…” She pauses to think about it. “I don't really know how it works, and the others might not’ve even felt it. I could sleep, but sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night and get that adrenaline rush like I was having a nightmare, even though I wasn't, or I’d wake up the next day and still have this faint feeling like I couldn't sleep at all. It was just there. I didn't say anything because I thought that whoever it was wasn't bringing it up for a reason. I wasn't going to push.”

How is anyone supposed to process something like that? And what else have each of them been feeling because of another ranger? It explains a lot--plenty of times one of them would get super excited or nervous or anything, and not know why. Trini’s almost upset that she’s been so distracted to not notice it herself.

“So you knew it was me, then?” She asks.

“What?” Kimberly gives her a weird look. “I just said I d--”

“You said you knew one of us was keeping it from the rest of you. Billy would tell us, and Zack would’ve said something at one of the bonfires we’ve had recently. Jason might've kept it to himself ‘cause he's the strong and mighty leader, or whatever, but you two are close. He would've told you. I wouldn't talk about it unless I had to. So you knew it was me.”

She watches her for a few seconds before nodding. “Yeah.” Trini’s still staring at her, so she continues. “I wanted to ask you about it, but I knew you'd get defensive if I did. I was hoping you'd bring it up on your own. With me. Or Zack. Or Jason or Billy… I thought we were close, too.”

Oh god. No no no no. That's not fair. Kimberly can't just drop this, and then get that look on her face. Like Trini just stole her puppy and sold it at a rundown gas station. How the hell is she supposed to have a good response to that? She almost feels trapped because she wants to reiterate that they are close, and it wasn't supposed to be personal, but she didn't want to talk about it with anyone, and it isn't that she doesn't trust her (or the others), she cares what they think of her. Cares too much, apparently. So much that it looks like she doesn't care at all.

“I didn't want to talk about it at all,” she says, hands going down her backpack straps to keep her from fidgeting too much. “It wasn't you.”

“But you know you can talk to us, right? You can talk to me.”

Trini nods, stopping and turning to see the boys coming up behind them. She knows her response is kind of half-assed, and she could've been more genuine with it. But there's no turning back. She just has to hope Kimberly doesn't read too much into it and adopt that hurt look again beyond this afternoon. “I know.”

 

---

 

Emo/Scene Aesthetic
[thicczack | princess.hart]

thicczack: kim, honey, if u don't take it easy on t, we’re gonna be down a ranger and that is Not Good 

princess.hart: idk what you're talking about, z

princess.hart: She seems perfectly fine to me

thicczack: don't play me like this

thicczack: i’m onto ur bi agenda

thicczack: and u aren’t subtle… i’m honestly concerned for t bc she’s BLIND to how much she affects u

thicczack: also?? U shortened ur name,, what prompted the change???

princess.hart: I feel like you already know the answer to that

princess.hart: T called me princess earlier, and I felt it was oddly fitting

princess.hart: Also Jason kept telling me my name was too long, so

thicczack: hm

thicczack: does she know you've made this change??

princess.hart: No I haven't messaged her since we left the cliff

thicczack: mhmm

thicczack: ok thnx bye

thicczack: **bi

princess.hart: Um… ok???

 

---

 

Black and Yellow
[thicczack | trinineedsanap]

thicczack: text kim

thicczack: text kim

thicczack: text kim

thicczack: t e x t k i m

trinineedsanap: what the fuck

thicczack: u heard me

thicczack: read me

thicczack: w/e just do it

trinineedsanap: we’re in the same room, why would I need to text her??

thicczack: u r whAT

thicczack: whERe

thicczack: w wHO

trinineedsanap: are u having a stroke

thicczack: possibly

thicczack: ur w kim rn??

trinineedsanap: u watched us leave together, going in the direction of her house… not mine… where did u think I was going

trinineedsanap: and we’re working on the music… ya know, like u asked us to

thicczack: ah

thicczack: yes I forgot abt that

thicczack: don't worry then, u’ll find out abt it later. go have fun w ur girl

trinineedsanap: you know it's pretty exhausting being ur friend sometimes

thicczack: aww

thicczack: i’m ur friend???

trinineedsanap: every time I consider being semi nice to u, u immediately make me regret it

thicczack: it's ok I know u don't rlly mean that

 

---

 

“Stop playing with your phone and come help me,” Kimberly says, barely looking up from her notebook and spot on the bed.

Trini rolls her eyes before pushing herself out of Kimberlys desk chair. “I'm not playing with my phone; I was answering a text.” She pauses to drop onto the open space at the end of the bed. “You were doing the same thing two minutes ago.”

“Yeah, but I’m allowed to.”

“What?” She stares at her for a few seconds. “How does that make sense?”

She shrugs. “‘Cause… it just does.”

Trini shakes off the thought of trying to figure out whatever that is supposed to mean. “Alright. What am I helping you with? I’m not even sure what we’re supposed to be doing.”

“We’re brainstorming,” she replies simply. “For songs and stuff.”

It doesn’t make much sense why they’d be brainstorming before they know what they want to sound like, but if Trini’s getting to spend more time with Kim then she isn’t going to complain.

“What do we want our songs to be about?” Kimberly asks after Trini spreads out to lie down instead of answer her.

She’s on her back now, staring at the ceiling. There are some faint yellow stars stuck up there, with a greenish tint that tells her they glow in the dark. If she hadn’t been in Kim’s room before--to witness just how pink it really is--she’d be surprised at how big of a dork she is. “I don’t know. How about we all just scream and hope for the best.”

“Mm… No.” Kim shakes her head. “You might want that. We do not.”

“I don’t know what you want from me, then. That’s pretty much all I can offer.”

Kimberly rolls her eyes, throwing the notebook to the side before flipping around onto her stomach, much closer to Trini than before. Then she says, softer than before, “Trini.”

Trini turns her head to the side. “Yeah?”

“Our conversation earlier kind of got cut short. And I know you probably don’t want to talk about that, either. But the guys aren’t here; it’s just us… You don’t have to shut yourself off from everyone.”

Trini sighs, and then looks back up at the ceiling. “I know.”

“I’ll drop it if you want me to, but--”

“There isn’t much to say, Kim. I can’t sleep. You said you’ve woken up feeling like you’ve had nightmares, so… the cause of this isn’t a secret, either.” Trini shakes her head. “You’re smart. You can figure it out without any of my input.”

“Maybe I can, but I’d rather just ask you,” she says, but it doesn’t look like she’s going to get another response yet. “So, what then? You're having nightmares about Rita? Billy dying? You don't have to feel ashamed of that. She broke into your house and tore up your room. She attacked you while you were sleeping, when you were alone, and when we couldn't morph. It doesn't even make sense, and I'm still terrified that Billy's life is somehow connected to the morphing grid, and one day one of us will screw up. We won't be able to morph, and Billy… Billy won't be here anymore. Again. That isn't something any of us are going to be unaffected by.”

Trini closes her eyes. She'd much rather be talking about stupid sappy love songs instead of talking about her own stupid feelings. “I can't… I… Nevermind. It's stupid.”

“It's not. Whatever it is.”

Fuck. She's gonna have to talk about it, isn't she? Like, sure… she doesn't have to. But she does. She really does. But she can’t face Kim and talk about it at the same time, so she stares at the ceiling.

“I can't get through the night on my own anymore. It isn't easy to fall asleep at all, but if I do… it doesn't last long, and you’ve felt what that gets like. One night it got really late and one of my brothers came into my room because he had a nightmare. He asked if he could sleep in my bed, too, and I let him, and… I fell asleep. For the first time that night. The first time in a while. And it's so fucking dumb. I was starting to get used to it. My brothers would have a nightmare, or would want a sleepover in my room or theirs, and even if it wasn't much, I got some sleep. But it didn't last. That’s not… It won’t work anymore. So I'm…” She let's out a sad laugh. “Pathetic and sleep deprived, and I don't know what to do.”

“I'm sorry,” Kimberly says softly after a few moments of silence.

Trini shakes her head, finally bringing her attention back to Kim. “Don't be. I'm not asking for a solution; I'm just telling you what's happening.”

She can feel Kim thinking, as strange as it sounds. She just knows that all the moments where Trini’s so obviously tired now have a new meaning to her--when she falls asleep in detention, or on Billy's couch during a movie night, or sandwiched in between Zack and Kimberly at a bonfire on the cliffs, leaning on one for support. It's the only time she gets the rest, and it's only because she's so… not alone. Almost always close enough to someone to be touching, constantly reminded that she has someone else around her.

“I'm sorry none of us noticed,” Kimberly clarifies. “Or asked if you were okay. Jason's team leading skills kind of suck if he never tried checking up on you.”

“He probably did; either way I wouldn't have said anything was wrong, so it’s not his fault.” She shrugs. “It gets easier the more I remind myself that I backhanded that bitch into space. Harder when I remember her saying more would be coming.”

“We'll be ready for whatever it is, though. All this training has to be good for something.”

Trini pushes herself up into a sitting position. “What about you, Hart? You been taking your own advice and opening up to any of us?”

“I threw everything out on the table awhile ago. But… lately, not so much.” Kimberly sits up as well. “I think we've hit our emotional quota for the day, though. Don't you think?”

God, yes. She still gives Kim the most intimidating glare she can muster--it doesn't evoke much fear--to let her know they aren't done talking about this. “Absolutely.”

Kimberly smiles, leaning back to retrieve the notebook she had earlier discarded. “Thanks for talking to me, T.”

Trini shrugs, doing her best to look apathetic. “Thanks for listening, I guess.”

 

---

 

Pink Lemonade
[trinineedsanap | princess.hart]

princess.hart: You know, you didn't have to bolt like that. You could've used the front door. My parents wouldn't have cared that u were over here

trinineedsanap: ya but it's cooler to use the window

trinineedsanap: it's like our thing

trinineedsanap: as rangers

trinineedsanap: you changed your name

princess.hart: Yep

princess.hart: Still, we can be normal every once and awhile

princess.hart: I was going to ask you to stay, but you didn't slow down long enough for me to say anything

trinineedsanap: I needed to get home anyway. I don't need to sit through another interrogation of “where I've been all day”

princess.hart: You should come back and stay the night over here

princess.hart: We’re going to the same place tomorrow, you'll actually get some sleep, and you don't have to worry about explaining anything to anyone

trinineedsanap: as much as I'd love to, my mom would never let me sleep over at someone’s house when she hasn't met them

trinineedsanap: and I'm not going to subject u to that torture

trinineedsanap: also, if she realized that YOU'RE why I have to go to detention, it REALLY wouldn't end well. js

princess.hart: Oh my god

princess.hart: Trini

princess.hart: Since u seem to have a thing for windows, I assumed you'd just use yours to sneak out, and mine to sneak in. And unless ur mom is really nosy, she can just assume u left for detention early and u won't have to worry about going back home

princess.hart: OR, I can come over to introduce myself and tell ur mom we have a bio project due Monday. And we need to work on it tonight and tmrw ‘cause I'll be busy all day Sunday at church

trinineedsanap: you don't go to church

trinineedsanap: do you even know where a church is? Like, any church at all??

princess.hart: Not really, but tell me that wouldn't win me major points w ur mom

princess.hart: I mean, it's up to u. Just let me know if I should research nearby churches to survive the impending interrogation

trinineedsanap: I'll be over in three and a half hours

princess.hart: [super smiley emoji]

 

trinineedsanap changed the group name to Why Pink Lemonade???

 

princess.hart changed the group name to It’s Cute and Quirky

 

princess.hart: All of our groups have cute names. It's been like this for weeks

princess.hart: Yours and Jason’s is “I guess we're orange” so you don't get to badmouth “pink lemonade”

trinineedsanap: ok chill

 

trinineedsanap changed the group name to Why Is It Called A Group If There's Only Two Of Us

 

princess.hart changed the group name to Idk T, I Didn't Program This

 

trinineedsanap changed the group name to My b, I thought the I in iPhone stood for “It's Kimberly!”

 

princess.hart changed the group name to Pink Lemonade

 

princess.hart: It does, but it's a secret, so u can't tell anyone 

trinineedsanap: whatever u say

princess.hart: If I ever get the urge to change my name again, it'll be “itskimberly!” So thanks for that

trinineedsanap: so that's my job now? Coming up w/ ur screen names?

princess.hart: Yep

trinineedsanap: ok I rlly gotta go now. I'll see u later

princess.hart: Three hours [yellow heart emoji]

 

---

 

Black and Yellow
[thicczack | trinineedsanap]

trinineedsanap: p r i n c e s s

trinineedsanap: i’m

thicczack: I know, t, just let it out

Chapter Text

Ranger Danger

[thicczack | goldenboi | billyc | princess.hart | trinineedsanap]

thicczack: ok who's getting krispy kreme 4 everyone

goldenboi: it isn't the REAL krispy kreme, Z. Until it's rebuilt ya just gotta call ‘me doughnuts

goldenboi: *’em. call THEM doughnuts

thicczack: “me”

thicczack: ok, doughnuts. if u say so

thicczack: jason scott, a known doughnut

princess.hart: What kind of doughnut would u be?

thicczack: glazed cause he's basic or powdered sugar cause he's white

thicczack: or plain cake, cause he's bland

princess.hart: Powdered Glazed™, the white boy’s doughnut.

thicczack: omg yesss

thicczack: thnx hart

thicczack: anyway, who's picking us up some “jason’s”

goldenboi: Translation: who's getting our non krispy kreme doughnuts?

billyc: It's Kimberly’s turn

princess.hart: I'm on it guys

thicczack: translation unnecessary but w/e

thicczack: billy’s place straight after detention??

princess.hart: **bi

goldenboi: *bisexual

princess.hart: Except we aren't all bi, so more accurately: *Billy’s place gay/bi/pan/demi after detention

goldenboi: ^ then yes, after everyone gets their instruments

thicczack: i;;;m so sorry i didn;t m ean that heterosexual nonsense it was an accideont

trinineedsanap: I hate all of u

trinineedsanap: except Billy

trinineedsanap: but I hate Kim the most

thicczack: i mean it t i;m sorry the leabophhhobia wasss too strong so s,,orry

thicczack: wait what

trinineedsanap: no you woke me up, dumbass

princess.hart: What did I do???

princess.hart: I told you to turn your sound off so it wouldn't wake you up

trinineedsanap: I DID

trinineedsanap: BUT KIMBERLY "my phone has a volume button???" HART DID NOT

trinineedsanap: so?? Your good intentions mean nothing to me

thicczack: waiT WHAT

princess.hart: Shit, hold on guys

thicczack: um???

goldenboi: I was not expecting that

thicczack: I need an explanation??

billyc: If they're in the same room, Kim's probably talking to Trini out loud instead of through the chat. I don't think they'll respond for a while. What kind of snacks do you guys want for practice later?

 

---

 

"Do you really hate me?" Kimberly asks, basically talking to Trini's back. Ever since Kim's phone woke her up she's been on her side facing away, and responding only through the group chat. "I'm sorry I forgot to turn it off. But I would've had to wake you up in a few minutes anyway. We have to leave soon."

Trini throws her phone to the ground and rolls onto her stomach, face down in a pillow.

"I'm serious, T. We have to leave a little earlier so we can stop by the Krispy Kreme Replacement Store."

She sort of grumbles, but goes ahead and lifts her head enough to look at Kim. Then she mumbles, "You're dumb."

Kimberly's caught off guard for a few seconds. Because, hello, Trini's right next to her, in her bed, waking up and still kind of asleep, and even if she's mad and glaring a little, it's enough to make Kim forget everything else in the world that isn't in this one moment. If someone were to ask her what her last name is? Nope. Where she's supposed to be going in ten minutes? Who cares. Why Trini's there in the first place? Her response would literally just be a bunch of question marks.

Eventually, after realizing that she's taking way too long to play this off as normal, she smiles. "Ok... You're insults are pretty tame when you're half asleep. It's kind of cute."

"Did you just call me lame?" She's slightly more awake now, and very offended. It's kind of adorable.

"What? I said 'cute'. Is your hearing really that bad?"

Trini shakes her head, actually pushing herself up into a sitting position. "No. You said my insults were lame."

She has to think about it for a full minute before Kim realizes what she meant. "No, I said they were tame."

"Oh."

"So, wait a second." Kim closes her eyes to replay what just happened, and then looks pointedly at Trini. "You called me dumb, and you're going to get offended by me calling you lame? How old are you again?"

"Old enough to kick your ass."

Kimberly rolls her eyes and then gets out of bed, moving towards her closet to find some clothes to change into. “Sure. Okay.”

Trini’s still taking her time to get up, looking a bit… miserable. Kimberly almost feels bad about making her wake up and go to detention. What she should do is stay here with Trini, accept whatever consequences they'll get from skipping detention, and let her get some more sleep. If she could, she'd let Trini sleep through the entire day. She really deserves it.

“Why did you call me dumb, by the way?”

Trini runs a hand over her face, shrugging. “‘Cause you're a dork, and you called it the Krispy Kreme Replacement Store.”

“You do know that the words ‘dumb’ and ‘dork’ aren't synonymous, right?” She asks, still on the other side of the room.

“They are right now.”

As the conversation goes on, Kimberly's starting to realize that she should just accept whatever Trini’s going to say and move on. Most of it doesn't make sense, and it probably still won't after she's gotten her to elaborate or explain. But it's entertaining, at least.

“If you get dressed in the next five minutes and leave with me, I'll get you some caffeine to go with your doughnuts. I think you could probably use it.”

Trini nods once. “Okay. I'm sold. Just give me two minutes.”

“I already gave you five.”

“Then forget I said that, ‘cause five is more realistic. I'm gonna need those extra three.”

Kimberly watches her for a few seconds, as she's getting up and rummaging through the backpack she brought. “I'm kind of worried about you.”

Trini looks up, all traces of fatigue and semi-loopiness seemingly gone. “What?”

“The amount of sleep you aren't getting can't be healthy. I think it might start to interfere with… you know. Normal stuff you do every day. If you want to stay here and sleep, then we don't have to--”

“I can't ditch,” she says, cutting her off. “And I'll be fine. Promise.”

She's reluctant to let it go, but Kimberly nods and says, “Ok,” before she does something stupid that might make Trini stop talking to her altogether.

 

--- 

 

Cracking Open A Cold One (...)

[thicczack | billyc | goldenboi]

thicczack: ok so if we think abt this logically, t was obviously pissed when she woke up, so them confessing their undying love for each other last night is unlikely

thicczack: HOWEVER

thicczack: they definitely slept in the same bed because they are both stubborn as hell

thicczack: and we all know kim is cuddly

thicczack: i say progress has been made

billyc: Trini’s also cuddly during movie nights after she falls asleep. But she doesn't like to talk about it when she wakes up. I tried asking about it once, and she told me she wanted to pretend it never happened.

thicczack: ty for ur added analysis, blue, this just proves that this is significant

thicczack: cause t doesn't consciously do that stuff often, and yet

goldenboi: You need a hobby

thicczack: i have one, its called being badass and looking hot

 

---

 

The two things that make detention bearable are the doughnuts they pick up beforehand, and the notes tossed around with speed and precision that might be breaking Zordon’s personal gain rule. So when Trini runs out of food, she’s stuck between replying to the notes thrown at her, or taking a nap. And she seriously considers the nap; but ultimately decides she got enough sleep at Kim’s to keep her going for the rest of the day. Given the conversation from yesterday--and the fact that she did stay the night--she doesn't want to look like she's totally useless. Taking a nap after all that sleep deprivation talk would only draw more attention to Trini’s problems and… feelings. She doesn't need Kim feeling anymore sorry for her than she already does. So she'll answer whatever notes come her way--reassure Kim that she's fine, tell Zack to fuck off with the teasing, answer Billy’s questions about her keyboard, and thank Jason for not trying to talk to her when she obviously just wants to relax for five seconds.

 The first one is from Zack, of course, so she has a pretty good idea of what it'll say before she opens it. That doesn't do anything to reduce her annoyance.

“Would u care 2 explain what the hell happened this morning? Also, jw, is K more of a conscious cuddler, or did it happen after u fell asleep?? Was she the big spoon? Ur small, I think u kind of have to be the little one, right? Anyway, Xoxo --Z”

Thankfully it's tame compared to what she was expecting.

“Kim asked me to stay over because I was already at her house and we knew we'd both be going to the same place this morning. Also, none of your fucking business.”

She aims for his head, but he catches it before it can land. He responds quicker than she had.

“Ok but did u solve the lovers spat u were having this morning?? U guys walked in way more upbeat than earlier”

Trini rolls her eyes, almost not responding at all. But she throws one more, hoping it'll shut him up.

“She bought me coffee w/ my donuts. I'm good now.”

Zack throws another note back after that, but she doesn't open it. It's probably just him calling her whipped or “a simple girl with simple needs” or literally “too gay for her own good”--which are all true, but she isn't going to admit that. Besides, she has a note from Kimberly that's way more worthy of her attention.

She's a little hesitant to open that one, though.

“So ‘Trini needs a nap’ is just a quirky screenname, and not a true statement in this wonderful sleep palace that is detention? You don't need to cash in the ten minutes I stole from you this morning?”

Seeing the pink ink makes her happier than she’d like to admit.

The other rangers write in their colors, too, but it's cute when Kim does it. They get onto Trini sometimes because she doesn't use her color, but that's totally not her fault because, “ I can't write in fucking yellow it won't work! ” And then Zack tells her it would work if she just believed .

“Don't worry about it, princess. I've hit my necessary quota for the day. And the coffee helps.

But ‘sleep palace’????”

She watches as Kimberly catches her note and turns in her chair to read it. And then the quick scribble she adds to the paper before whipping around and tossing it back before Trini can comprehend what's happening. She almost doesn't catch it.

“There are a bunch of people, but it's still quiet, and you're allowed to nap, so? Yes. As long as you're capable of falling asleep here, I consider this a sleep palace.”

She sends back a simple, “Thanks Kim” and pauses to catch her breath before placing her attention anywhere else.

Until another note lands on her desk, and she realizes that Kimberly isn't done with the conversation.

“Whose hoodie are you wearing??”

“Well, it's red, Kim. Take a wild guess.”

The color thing aside, she's really just surprised that Kim didn't notice when Jason handed it to her no more than twenty minutes ago.

Trini watches as the realization spreads across Kim's face, and she lifts her gaze from the note with a raised eyebrow.

She's pulling out another sheet of paper before Kim can send anything back, because she knows what that look means, and just the idea of it is… alarming levels of no .

“Don't look at me like that. We share stuff all the time, and it's cold in here.

And I'm very gay"

“I know how gay you are, I'm just surprised you actually took it. Thought you'd be too tough to get cold.”

Okay, now she's just messing with her.

“Shut up. It's big and comfy. And I am tough, but I'm very small and I can't afford pretending the cold doesn't bother me because I'll get hypothermia before I can finish saying ‘fuck you I'll punch the cold in the face’.”

Kimberly laughs quietly from her desk.

“Well I'm sure J’s probably gonna want that back. If you remind me, I've got a cheer sweatshirt you can have. Not as big, but it'll still be baggy and super comfy”

“Is it pink?”

“It's grey. Why? You wouldn't wear it if it were?”

“No I would, I just need a heads up so I can figure out how to pull it off without damaging my rep.”

“Right. Cause it's so hard making pink look badass.”

Even in writing, she can feel the sarcasm. Another note almost flies past her head, and she barely glances at the black ink before pushing it to the side. Zack makes a disappointed noise from the back of the room.

“Pink is your color; obviously you make it look badass. It's like our thing. How many people do you know who can pull off yellow?”

“Not many. Pretty much just you, honestly.

You don't look too bad in red either”

Oh. That's new.

“I'm flattered. You should compliment me more often. Knock the guys’ confidence down a few pegs

Or probably just Zack’s.

Actually, Jason too. You know since you two were a hot minute away from being a thing .”

“Okay, I'm gonna need you to stop reminding me about that please. We realized it was a Bad Idea pretty fast”

“I don't think I can blame either of you. He was the town’s It Boy so… that has appeal I guess?

And you're the badass ex cheerleader who cut her hair off mid detention and likes to backflip off cliffs.

I get it.”

Suddenly, Kimberly’s responses aren't as fast and it looks like she's having a harder time coming up with a response altogether. Trini assumes she's just multitasking, and that theory is cemented when she notices Jason and Billy are throwing her notes as well.

[It isn't because she's multitasking.]

Detention goes by a lot quicker after that.

 

---

 

“Just give us a simple beat,” Zack says carefully, as if he knows what he's talking about. Side note: he doesn't.

Billy looks up from his set, drumsticks in hand. “Can you be more specific?”

Zack nods. “Yeah, just… go for it. Start playing something that you normally would.”

Billy thinks it over and then nods, setting up to start playing. It starts off slow, but it's steady, so he eases into a rhythm quickly.

They spend the next hour with Zack attempting to orchestrate something that sounds decent, Jason taking over so everything isn't total chaos, and Kimberly lying on the ground on the other side of the room because she doesn't actually have anything to contribute right now. If anyone asks, she's brainstorming song lyrics.

“Um, no. I told you this was a jam session. The actual music comes later.”

Jason nods. “That's fine, but I still don't think you know what you're talking about.”

“Hear me out, Boss Man. That thing Billy was just doing,” Zack says, and then attempts to mimic the drumming from a few minutes ago. “We pair that with something like, this .” He gets a few notes out on his bass, trying to recreate the magic that just accidentally happened.

“With some keyboard flare from me, and electric from Jason,” Trini mutters. “Yeah. This is the third time you've told us that, and it still doesn't make sense .”

Zack rolls his eyes dramatically, shaking his head. “Why do none of you share my artistic vision?”

“Because we're tired and would rather watch a movie.”

He shakes his head, pointing a finger at Trini. “No, T, you're tired. Listen. I'm telling you guys, we’re onto something here.”

There are a few moments that follow where Billy plays, and everyone else is trying to “soak in the heartbeat of what the songs will be like.” Oddly enough, they all completely understand what Zack means when he tells them that.

Jason lets out a deep breath, turning to the other rangers with a concerned look on his face as Billy's drumming tapers off into silence. “I feel stressed.”

“Yeah, I can tell. That's why I'm trying to tell you--”

He shakes his head, and holds up a hand to stop Zack from talking. “No. It's not my stress.”

They all look around at each other before settling on Trini, who's looking at the ground. Eventually, she realizes that they've figured it out--and aren’t going to look away--and slowly lifts her head back up to meet their gazes.

“Well all of you staring at me isn't making it any better,” she grumbles, crossing her arms over her chest.

They still don’t look away.

“This is chaotic; we’re all a little stressed. Do you want to--”

“No.”

Jason pauses, hoping that a little patience will work in his favor. “Okay, can just the two of us talk then?”

Trini thinks it over, and then shrugs. “If I say no, none of you are going to leave me alone. So, sure, whatever.”

He nods, walking over to one of the more open corners of the room, waiting for Trini to follow. He’s hoping the others will adopt their own conversation and at least try not to look like they’re eavesdropping. Otherwise there’s no hope of Trini even considering talking to him.

The other three know that--they know it isn’t a moment to be messing around--so Kimberly attempts to wrangle them into songwriting. Or, more accurately, coming up with literally any topic or word or lyric that can lead to songwriting. That pretty much consists of Billy asking what they all like, and Zack saying tacos , and Kimberly telling him that they aren’t writing a song about tacos. (Zack’s going to write a song about tacos just to spite Kimberly.)

“Trini, you know I can feel how stressed you are. You can't play it off like it's nothing,” Jason says while Trini very pointedly avoids looking him in the eye. “And I'm worried because feelings between us are still pretty muted, so I can't imagine how amplified this is for you. Did something happen?”

She shakes her head. “I'm fine. Look at me, dude. You wouldn't know anything was wrong if it weren't for the ranger thing.”

“I know. But that doesn't make me feel any better. We're a team; I want to make sure all of you are doing okay.” He tries to be gentle without sounding like he's babying her--like she's broken or needs to be pitied. “What you said at our first bonfire together, about us being friends or just rangers… You know that the five of us are more than just accidental super heros. We're a family now, and you can yell or shut me out or whatever, but I won't stop caring about you or any of the others.”

“I know. You turn into the Group Mom more and more every day.”

Jason sighs. “I won't say anything to them, but I know this is about more than just us arguing over music. Something's bothering you, and it… it seems pretty significant.”

Trini hates how concerned he looks--how genuine he's being. How he really is the mom friend of the group, and cares about each of them more than they thought possible. That he looks out for all of them, and doesn't brush anything off like it's no big deal. Even if it is. She isn't used to the attention, to someone asking if she's okay and meaning it when they say they hope things get better.

It's new, and it isn't bad , but it's different. She thought she could handle different . Having to move and readjust her life, she got used to things changing and started to prefer it that way. But this is people--not a lack thereof, or a place, or a school.

She doesn't like how often she feels vulnerable around these guys.

How often she doesn't care that she's letting her walls down.

She's setting herself up to get hurt.

Jason doesn't mention how he can feel her nerves getting worse; that the stress is turning into anxiety at an alarming rate. He isn't used to it, and it's hard to sit still and keep a straight face at the same time. “You don't have to talk to me. But you can. Anywhere, anytime. I'll listen, and I won't say anything unless you want me to.”

He's about to let it go, because being forceful or unnecessarily persistent is definitely the wrong way to go. Sometimes things like this are going to take time. But Trini grabs his wrist as soon as he takes one step away, so he relaxes back in place.

She immediately regrets it and drops his hand.

He’s about to say something, but she stops him again.

“I didn’t get much sleep these past couple of days. But I’m fine. Just… don’t make a big deal out of it.” Maybe she’s stretching the truth a little. It’s been weeks instead of days, and with all of the arguing and noise from their instruments filling the room, she started to zone out to avoid getting too irritable. [Billy’s already had to take a couple of breaks, but he left the room . Which, she now realizes, is what she should've done.] And when she zones out, all that fills her mind are those nightmares. It’s a lose-lose situation.

“Okay,” he says, just about as soft as she had been talking. And he wants to keep asking her about it, because he can tell that she isn’t saying everything; that there’s a lot more to this than just a night or two of bad sleep. But he also knows that isn’t going to happen right now. So he nods back at the others. “Do you think getting your mind off of it will help? We can take a snack break.”

Trini tenses up and her expression hardens so quickly, Jason almost has to double take. It’s like literally watching her walls go up. Weird. Unsettling. She nods, brushing past him to get to the others. “Yeah. Sure.”

 

---

 

When Kimberly asks Trini if she’ll be okay on her own tonight, Trini tells her she’s been doing it for weeks. Tonight won’t be any different. She has to stop herself from asking if Trini’s sure she doesn’t want to stay over again--getting up early enough to make sure she’s back for church would only cause more stress. She also stops herself from offering to stay at Trini’s instead. Boundaries are a thing that exist, and she needs to respect them.

But if it gets bad enough, she’ll ask. Because something tells her that Trini wouldn’t do it herself, even if it’s what she wants.

 

---

 

Trini doesn't try to sleep. By now she knows it won't do any good, and even if she did try, she'd just be lying in bed and trying not to stare at the ceiling. Trying not to stare at her newly plastered walls. Thinking that she could take a shower to clear her mind, before she remembers those were ruined for her, too. Water hitting her face, in any form, is ruined for her. So she's trying to put focus on anything that isn't in her room. Trying. Failing. Slipping into a nightmare anyways, because recently she doesn't have to be asleep for stuff like that to run through her head.

This week on Nightmares, starring Rita Repulsa: Death and torture, with guest appearances by her family and the other rangers.

Special Edition: Now airing 24/7, unconscious or not.

She's having a blast.

Jason described it as "stressful" (and he didn't know what he was describing), but that only proves that he was right when he said their connection was muted. Because if it were just stress? Things would be a lot different right now. She might be able to do something productive, like every bit of extra credit any of her classes offer. Going to school without much sleep means doing work without the right amount of energy. It means she can feel that she's about to start slipping, even if it's a little bit, and she can feel that she doesn't care. She needs to care. Her parents care, and if falling grades get back to them, she doesn't want to know what the consequences would be. But she doesn't have the focus for extra credit, either.

She leaves through her window a half an hour before midnight without any set destination. She walks; through the neighborhood, to other neighborhoods, through the town that's still half under construction, and then down to the train car where they have their bonfires. It wastes enough time to get her through the night.

It's still dark out, but she senses that the sunrise is probably fifteen minutes away. So she needs to get home. Sneak back to her room, wait for her mom to walk in without knocking to make sure she's up, get through Family Breakfast™, and then church. She doesn't know how she's going to deal with that. Normally, zoning out is what saves her. She doesn't pay attention, but still looks like she's tuned in enough to keep her parents happy. That won't work anymore. And she can't have a panic attack mid-service. If she did, she's pretty sure her mother would act concerned in front of everyone, but start yelling as soon as they're alone. Something about embarrassing the family, or acting out for attention. She'd hear something like, "Why are you acting like we don't care about you? Whatever that was is more emotions we see out of you in an entire year, and it doesn't make sense to me. We're constantly asking about you. Where you are everyday, who you're with, if you're with anyone. Use your words. Talk to us."

Yeah. No thanks.

She's just going to have to suffer in silence.

Chapter Text

Ranger Danger

[tacos[black heart emoji] | goldenboi | billyc | princess.hart | trinineedsanap]

tacos[black heart]: i’d like to dedicate this song to my one true love; tacos

trinineedsanap: what

princess.hart: Oh my god, pls tell me you’re kidding

tacos[black heart]: um i’d never joke abt smth this serious. now pls let me type this out so u can truly experience the love and devotion. i have work later and need to use my time wisely

trinineedsanap: is it bad that I’m low key kind of scared rn?

goldenboi: No I’m right there w you buddy

billyc: Tacos were the one thing Zack kept talking about last night. Kimberly told him he couldn’t write a song about them, but said he was going to make one anyway. Are you surprised?

princess.hart: No I’m not surprised at all, and that’s why this is so terrible

trinineedsanap: “tacos[black heart] is typing…” is the most ominous thing I’ve ever read

tacos[black heart]: it’s a simple love

from the start to the end

gone so quick, barely has time to begin

one minute here, the next it’s not

you look back and realize it’s all you’ve got

 

except there’s no starting over

not exactly the same

each time it’s different, change after change

 

they try to recreate

reimagine

reinvent

but it’s a lost cause

and your energy’s spent

 

you can’t turn back time

to experience again

the love and the pain

that you thought would never end

 

so this is for us

and all others out there

who know what it’s like

to lose that fire

 

that made you feel alive inside

i’ll never forget

and never hide

what we thought was forever

or could last a lifetime

 

this is for you, tacos

my queen, my king

an eternal soulmate

i mean

if /food/ is your thing

 

tacos[black heart] : anyway, you’re all welcome

tacos[black heart]: it needs some polishing and an actual chorus, so rn it's basically a poem

tacos[black heart]: but i’ve enriched your lives with this masterpiece

billyc: Okay, I was not expecting that.

goldenboi: Um…

goldenboi: Where did that come from??

trinineedsanap: ok, so am I crazy, or is this actually kind of good????

tacos[black heart]: wow i see how it is

goldenboi: If ur crazy, then I am too, bc??? Yes?? It's better than I was expecting

tacos[black heart]: would a miss kimberly “princess” hart care to comment??

princess.hart: [nervouslaughterwtf.gif]

tacos[black heart]: you DOUBTED me

tacos[black heart]: you thought it was DUMB

tacos[black heart]: zack can’t write serious songs // yes we like tacos but not THAT MUCH

tacos[black heart]: well guess FUCKING WHAT // NEWSFLASH, asshole! we’ve loved tacos the entire goddamn time!!!

tacos[black heart]: [ tacos?! tacos, sweetie. i’m so sorry. i’m so sorry that ugly ass bitch like this would even say that, oh my god.jpeg ]

goldenboi: I didn’t think it was possible to feel this happy and in awe over a group chat, and yet… here I am

princess.hart: Hey, what the hell Trini??

trinineedsanap: whAT DID I DO?

princess.hart: I KNOW you photoshopped that picture for him

trinineedsanap: (the contents of this image do not reflect the views/beliefs of its creator)

princess.hart: You know what

princess.hart: Ok, MAYBE I was less than correct about your songwriting abilities,

tacos[black heart]: “less than correct” is a fancy way of saying “wrong”

princess.hart: hoWEVER

princess.hart: A song about tacos is still kind of dumb

goldenboi: *collective gasps from the crowd*

billyc: Can we compromise somehow and stop fighting?

tacos[black heart]: yes, hello, i’d like to phone a friend… little t, pls?

trinineedsanap: bold of you… calling me little when you want my help…

trinineedsanap: also, leave me out of this

tacos[black heart]: just asking for the truth, not for u to take a side. tell me… how do YOU feel about tacos??

trinineedsanap: I don’t feel safe answering that

trinineedsanap: it feels like an innuendo trap

tacos[black heart]: true or false; tacos are your favorite food??

trinineedsanap: ...true

tacos[black heart]: i rest my case ur honor

princess.hart: I’m sorry, I won’t accept defeat until I receive hand written confirmation from someone who isn’t you

trinineedsanap: you do know that writing songs about ur fav food isn’t normal, right Z? Like, whether or not it’s a good song aside, if your entire argument is that we love the food, it doesn’t hold much of anything??

tacos[black heart]: this is discrimination

tacos[black heart]: if we weren’t talking about the FOOD, we’d be having a very diff conversation right now

billyc: Zack, are you sure you know what the word “discrimination” means? Because I don't see how it fits in this context

trinineedsanap: oh my fucking god

trinineedsanap: I feel… idk… like i just read some rlly dirty smut or smth…

trinineedsanap: listen,, I reread the song in the context of NOT FOOD, and I just

trinineedsanap: is THAT what u meant??? Is that what it’s rlly abt?????

tacos[black heart]: no, but that’s part of my genius… multp interpretations… [winky face emoji]

trinineedsanap: I have to leave for CHURCH in a half hour. I can’t believe you’ve polluted my mind like this

tacos[black heart]: u say that like you had a pure mind b4 this, and we all know that’s not true

goldenboi: Are we reading the same "song"? I don't think it works in that context

tacos[black heart]: obviously u lack the creative drive to see its suggestive undertones

goldenboi: Remember how I said I was in awe earlier? Now my eyes just hurt. Pls stop

princess.hart: Y O U R  E N E R G Y ‘ S  S P E N T

princess.hart: ZACK

princess.hart: WE AREN'T WRITING ABT THAT EITHER

tacos[black heart]: ALL SONGS ARE ABOUT THESE DAYS IS SEX AND DRUGS, KIMBERLY

tacos[black heart]: AND TACOS (THE FOOD) ARE MY DRUG

tacos[black heart]: SO MAYBE RETHINK UR APPROACH?? AND GIVE IN TO DESTINY???

billyc: Maybe this band wasn’t such a good idea…

billyc: Just for clarification, when y’all are saying “not food” are you using that as a euphemism for sex?

goldenboi: In the context of the “song”, yes

 

---

 

“Did you get any sleep last night?” Trini’s mom asks towards the end of breakfast. The morning seemed like it might be bearable before this--that hope has now been shattered with one sentence. “What are you doing all day that could possibly make you this tired?”

If Trini used one of the sarcastic or smartass comments she’d normally throw at her parents right now , she’d probably get slapped. She’s almost thankful that she doesn’t have the energy for it. But staying silent just seems to annoy her mother even more.

“I know you can hear me, Trini. Even if that screaming that you're always blasting through your headphones might suggest otherwise. Just… give us one word. Say good morning, or something .”

Could she get away with skipping church today? If she fakes sick--actually, she probably wouldn't even need to fake it--then they won't make her go. They let her sleep all day that Sunday after the power coins thing happened (and she and the others got hit by a train). She doesn't know how that happened, but she could probably do it again.

But no. Not today. She needs something that’ll keep her mom off her back for a while, and this family outing has to count for something. She’ll spend time with them for several hours, interact with her brothers, go to church like they want her to so they can tell themselves that she isn't going to be condemned to hell, and try to prove that she might be a disappointment, but she could've turned out a lot worse.

That drug test could've come back positive, but it didn't.

They've gotta pick their battles.

She could say good morning, but she's also stubborn and doesn't want to give her mother that satisfaction. So she turns to her brothers, looking over them before telling the one closest to her, “Your shirt’s on inside out.”

He looks down at himself, slightly stunned at suddenly getting pulled into the action at the table, and grabs at the front of his shirt like he's checking to see if she’s lying. “Aw, man.”

Her mother is a bit more tired than before, but perks up again once she sees her son pulling at the bottom of his shirt. “ Not at the table!”

Trini might accidentally smile from amusement.

Her dad notices, nervously glancing at his wife before turning back and raising his eyebrows.

She drops the smile pretty quickly.

Her mother sighs. “At least sit up straight and get your feet out of the chair. I taught all of you manners; please use them.”

That might be a little harder to accomplish. Trini shifts uncomfortably in her seat for a second. Straight jokes aside, she isn’t totally sure that she can actually do that. It isn’t like she’s physically incapable of sitting like a normal person, but if she sat up--back straight, feet planted on the ground, arms at her sides--it’d just be… uncomfortable. And sure, maybe bad posture isn’t a good habit to keep, but she figures it’s a little too late to try and mend it now. If she does listen to her mom and force herself to sit instead of lounge , she doesn’t trust how long she’ll be able to force herself to keep still.

Those fidget toy things--spinners? Cubes? Whatever they are--always seemed pretty dumb to her. Dumb and unnecessary and a way for people to make money off of a trend. But right now she really wishes she had something to counteract the urge to shake her leg or pull at the threads on the placemat in front of her.

The stuff that’ll only draw more attention to her.

It takes a while, but she does--reluctantly--get her feet down.

(She’s definitely uncomfortable.)

“Sometimes I just…” Her mother says, trailing off and shaking her head.

“June,” Her father says, and it sounds almost like a warning. Like he knows she’ll end up saying something she’ll regret--or something he’ll need to come in to clean up so Trini doesn’t think they hate her.

But Trini’s already curious as to what she was planning on saying, because breakfast has already been so fun ; might as well end it entirely on a an even worse note. “What? Think there’s something wrong with me?”

“Wonder where our daughter went,” she adds almost immediately.

And, whoa . That isn’t what she was expecting. Trini almost wants to tell them to go check San Francisco or somewhere in Hawaii--maybe they’d find her there. Given how fast some of those moves went by, it makes sense they might’ve lost her in all of the chaos.

“She’s still in bed,” she says instead. “I can go get her, if you want.”

Shit. Bad idea. Of course it was a bad idea--most of her ideas are bad when they involve interacting with her family.

What the hell happened to her plan of not saying anything?

They’re all staring at her; different degrees of a shocked expression on their faces. Her father: pure shock. Her brothers: some mixture of awe and fear (for whatever consequences she’ll get from that .) And her mother: anger.

Wonderful.

“Boys, go get dressed,” her mother says, not breaking eye contact with her. Her brothers take a few seconds to get out of their seats, mostly because they want to know what happens, but then end up just booking it to their rooms. They’re (a little) scared of what might happen if they don’t listen to their mom.

She doesn't know what to expect, but she’s kind of scared, too. Even when her mother sighs and speaks calmly instead of yelling at her.

“What did we do to make you hate us so much?”

God. That’s a big question. “What did you do ?”

That just gets her some more surprised expressions. Trini’s pretty surprised, too--she didn’t think she had the energy to say anything, and now… Well, she’s saying enough that might end up getting her grounded for a year. But it sort of feels good to get it out. A bit of a rush and some relief at the same time.

She was going to say, “I don’t hate you.” But what she actually says is much worse. Because it’s like a rule of the universe that Trini has to fuck up everything in her life even when she doesn’t have to.

“I don’t know. Maybe made me feel like I’m not welcome in my own house? That I can’t talk to you like you want me to, because every time I do, you brush it off or pretend you never heard it. Because anything I want to say is stuff you don’t want to hear. What am I supposed to do when you want to change literally everything about me? If you hate me, I don’t see why I shouldn’t hate you, too.”

She can’t tell if there’s more confusion or shock going around right now, but it’s probably a pretty even mixture.

Then her mother gently says her name, and Trini knows she’s about to lead into some mushy feelings stuff. The whole, we don’t hate you, you’re just difficult , speech that she really doesn’t want to hear right now.

So she does what she does best, and runs.

Okay, so she stumbles out of her chair a bit first, but then she runs. Right out of the house. And she doesn’t realize how terrible of an idea that is until she’s actually outside and can no longer hear her parents calling after her.

She doesn’t know where she’s going, and she’s still just in a t-shirt and sweatpants (she always puts off getting dressed for church to the very last minute), but… at least she got herself out of actually going to church, right?

No, that was probably a pretty dumb thing to do.

And she left her phone.

Oops.

 

---

 

Kimberly !” Trini wouldn’t have expected her to be awake this early on the one day of the week any of them get to sleep in, but she responded to the group chat an hour ago. So she was awake. And, it totally makes sense that she’d go back to bed after that, but Trini really doesn’t care about what makes sense when she’s stuck sitting in a tree outside of Kimberly’s closed window. She really wishes she had grabbed her phone. Because Kim’s ringtone seems to be the only thing that is consistently able to wake her up.

She starts throwing sticks at the window next. And she’s trying to do it to where it’ll make a loud enough noise, but she also knows that she could probably break the window if she isn’t careful. But she would be able to get inside…

Kim!

Finally, she sees some movement. And after a few more moments, Kimberly’s opening her window and squinting against the sunlight--half still asleep and half confused.

“What the fuck?”

Trini drops the last stick she has in her hands and moves forward, almost pushing Kim out of the way so she can get inside.

“Jesus, it took you long enough.”

Kimberly stares at her and then turns her head to check the clock on her dresser. “I don't know how to tell you this, T. But this isn't a church, and I'm not Jesus. I think you got your directions mixed up.”

Haha . Very funny.

“That is where you're supposed to be, right? What's going on?” She pauses. “Are you okay?”

“I'm…” Trini shrugs. “I said some stupid things to my parents and ran ‘cause I freaked myself out.”

“How stupid?”

She shrugs again. Realistically, it probably wasn't even that bad. It was a lot, and maybe a little intense, but she was probably overreacting. Right? “It could've been worse.”

Kim nods, blinking a few times before sitting on her bed again. Because she almost jumped out of bed a few seconds ago, the headrush is finally catching up to her and it's making her a bit dizzy. “So you don't want to talk about it, then?”

“No.”

Just like the headrush, some details from earlier are starting to register in her mind, too. She looks at the window. “Were you throwing sticks at my house?”

“Yeah.” Trini pauses. “You're looking pretty intense to be thinking about sticks right now, though.”

“I'm just glad you didn't decide to be more romantic and use rocks. I've already had to explain a broken phone, and ‘It fell out of my pocket while I was hiking,’ probably won't work as an excuse for a broken window.”

Trini makes an affirmative noise.

They sit in silence for while. Kim can barely process that so much time is passing, but it's way too long for Trini. She can handle silence; it's a big part of her life. But awkward silence? Awkward silence around her best friend who she's secretly into ? Absolutely not.

Since running here was a split second decision, Trini didn’t have time to grab shoes. And that seems to be the only thing Kimberly can currently focus on, based on where her eyes are locked. But then she looks back up and starts talking as if they hadn’t just been completely quiet for five minutes. “So, do you want to talk about something else, or do you want to sleep? ‘Cause I think you’re giving me some secondhand fatigue, and I'm about to pass out in, like, the next fifteen seconds.”

The stubborn part of her wants to say no , that she'll be fine and she probably shouldn't have come; she can just go hang out with one of the guys . But the tired part of her is much stronger right now; especially after that emotional end to breakfast and the full sprint she took to get here.

“Do you have somewhere else you need to be?” Kim asks again, and Trini shakes her head. “Then come on. Don’t tell me you aren’t tired right now.”

No, she definitely is.

“We can get a few hours if we sleep right now. I have to leave at noon.” Kimberly readjusts to be lying down now, and pulls the blanket over herself. “And if you really don’t want to, then… Just don’t trash my room, alright?”

It isn’t like she came here for some other specific reason. She doesn’t really know why it was her first instinct to run here or what she was planning on doing initially, but she might as well use this time to get some (much needed) energy, right? As long as she’s here and Kimberly’s offering.

She gets onto the bed before she can talk herself out of it.

“Wake me up if you need me,” Kim says before throwing an arm around Trini’s waist and promptly passing out.

It takes Trini a bit longer before she manages to fall asleep, but she does manage it.

It’s been a pretty weird morning.

 

---

 

Cotton Candy

[billyc | princess.hart]

princess.hart: hey, are you home?

billyc: Yes

princess.hart: it's Trini. I don't have my phone w/ me, so I'm borrowing Kim's for a second. Are you busy or can I come over? I was going to stay here, but Kim has somewhere she needs to be

billyc: I’m working on something right now, but you can still come over if you want. I thought you were spending time with your family today.

princess.hart: I was supposed to be, but some weird stuff went down with my parents. I can explain what happened when I get there. Thanks, B

billyc: Sure, it’s no problem.

princess.hart: could you open the door when I get there, though? I don’t think your mom would let me in if I don’t have any shoes

billyc: Yes

billyc: Why don’t you have shoes?

princess.hart: I’ll explain that in a few minutes, too

billyc: Ok, see you then

 

---

 

“Hey, Billy?” Trini says, glancing up from the the papers she had been doodling on. “I just got… really calm. Is that coming from you?”

Billy barely glances up from his work station. “Possibly. I'm pretty relaxed right now.”

That whole ranger sensing thing has always confused them. The connection through the morphing grid--that makes sense--but how… selective it is isn't all that clear.

“Do you know how that works? Why only some of us feel each other's emotions, and it isn't everyone?”

He shakes his head. “I haven't come up with anything that really makes sense. For a while I thought it was random, but then I had this theory that it'd be whoever we were thinking about in that moment. But that doesn't work because we aren't always thinking of each other when it happens. But I guess it could be whoever is most prone to feeling or experiencing that emotion. But… are you normally calm?”

Trini barely has time to say, “Not really,” before he starts talking again.

“Unless proximity is factored in… It's interesting, but, no, I don't have anything solid. I'm sure Zordon could tell us if we went to him about it.”

“Yeah. I guess so.”

They sit in silence for a few moments, Billy working on something that Trini can't even begin to understand, but she likes just sitting with him. Especially if it's calming her down like this.

“Is there something going on between you and Kimberly?”

There goes the calm.

She clears her throat. “Um. What… What makes you ask that?”

Billy shrugs. “Jason and Zack have been talking about it a lot recently; that they feel the tension when you're in a room together. But they’ve never said they got any input from either of you, so I thought I'd ask for your point of view.”

“I… I’m not really sure, B. Kim’s my friend, like the rest of you guys, but… sometimes I'd like for her to be more than that. I don't think she feels the same way, though.”

“You guys are pretty close, so I'm sure you'll figure it out. You seem really important to each other, even if it isn't the exact same way for both of you.” He pauses, looking over his machinery (Trini isn't sure, but it's a pile of something that looks vaguely dangerous), and then moves a few things around.

“How are you doing?” Trini asks. She figures if anyone might be going through the same thing as her (or something similar, at least), it’d be Billy. “I mean… Have you been having trouble sleeping, or anything?”

He pauses, thinking it over. “Well… yeah, sometimes. But when that happens, I can just work on one of my projects, and it doesn’t bother me as much.”

“So you just ignore it? And that works?”

He shakes his head. “No. Back when my dad died, I started getting into projects like this, too. But I was still remembering what it’d be like when he was around. And it… it was hard accepting that he was gone, but doing things like this helped me cope. It still works that way. If I’m afraid to go to sleep, I can just walk over here and think it through, and that doesn’t mean that I never get scared about not waking up again, or anything like that, but it makes it easier. If it gets worse, I’ll text Jason to talk about it. Or I’ll text all of you guys because it reminds me that this is real. And I did die, but you all brought me back.”

Trini nods, lowering her gaze to think that over.

“If you’re having trouble with stuff like that, it might help if you talked to us about it. Or, if you found something that you can do to keep you grounded while you think about it,” Billy says, doing something else at his station that looks like it’s requiring a lot of focus. “Like your yoga stuff!”

If she had a dollar for every time someone’s solution was for her to talk to someone , it’d probably be a big enough bribe that she’d actually do it. But she isn’t getting any money, so talking doesn’t look very likely for her right now. She knows that Billy means well, but… Everyone copes in different ways, right? Maybe hers is… something that isn’t talking.

[Her own thoughts don’t even sound convincing to herself anymore.]

Then there's a loud pop and a few sparks flying up, and Trini jumps back to avoid getting hit. It looks like he's rearranged a couple of lava lamps into cylinders that line the top of his working station. It emits a blue glow to the rest of the room.

“It worked!” he exclaims, clapping his hands and grinning at Trini.

“Whoa, dude. That… is pretty dope.”

Billy! What was that? What happened? ” Is shouted from upstairs, and Billy replies that they're okay; there was just a minor electrical problem that is totally under control now.

“I wrote some music, too, if you want to look over it,” Billy says, already moving across the room to retrieve some papers. “Well… sort of. I'll send it to the group chat later, but you're the only one who doesn't fight about how we sound.”

That may just be from a lack of attention--and caring--in an effort to keep her thoughts straight, but she guesses avoiding unnecessary conflict works too. “Hey, if you don't mind me asking, why’d you do that?”

She's gesturing towards the lava… cylinders. Billy nods simply. “I wanted to make something that represented us as rangers. Because blue is my color, and these lamps kind of remind me of how we looked glowing in the water when we jumped off the cliff the first time, I thought it'd be cool to have it here. So it feels like you guys are around even when you aren't… I think it's calming. I'm going to try and make more with everyone else's colors, too. Then it’ll really look like the cave.”

“You're gonna put them up there, too?”

He glances up and then shrugs. “I'm not sure yet. Maybe. It depends; I'll need to test out a few things first. If not, I could give them to you guys… or find a place on the ship.”

“Wow…” she trails off. “That’s seriously cool.”

Trini watches long enough to see him smile, and then turns her attention down to the papers he gave her.

“Thanks.”

Thankfully it provides enough of a distraction that she doesn't have to think about what'll be waiting for her at home tonight. She has to ask for clarification at a few parts, but overall it seems like it could really do something for them. That's just in theory, though. Nothing ever seems to go right when the five of them try to work together on music. Fighting as a team? Easy. Organizing a band? Not so much.

Chapter Text

Black and Yellow

[z | trinineedsanap]

z: hey

trinineedsanap: hey

trinineedsanap: u ok? Ur name is oddly minimalistic

trinineedsanap: also, its like 1am

z: yeah i'm good

z: just felt like talking

trinineedsanap: where are you

z: train car

z: u don't need to come down here tho

trinineedsanap: u sure? Cause I'm not doing anything else rn

z: nah it’s ok

z: im sorry i tease u all the time abt kim and stuff

z: i know i shouldn't be so pushy when every time I bring it up u just tell me to fuck off

trinineedsanap: I know ur just messing w me, dude

trinineedsanap: yeah it's annoying sometimes, but if it seriously bothered or made me uncomfortable, I'd make sure u knew

z: still I know how much of an ass I can be

z: most of the time for no reason

trinineedsanap: yeah but u aren't the only one, z

trinineedsanap: we all get annoyed w each other

z: yeah I know

trinineedsanap: are you sure you're okay?

z: yeah don't worry abt it

z: i'm gonna go anyway. I think i'm gonna try and get some sleep

trinineedsanap: alright

trinineedsanap: just text me again if u change ur mind

z: sure thing little t

 

---

 

Bros™

[z | goldenboi]

z: thnx for always being here for us man

z: like I know ur the leader and stuff and it's like ur job, but u do it really well and u care abt us and I just really appreciate it

goldenboi: are you drunk?

z: idk

z: but I love u buddy. I love all of u and I don't say it enough

goldenboi: love you too?

goldenboi: hey dude if ur drinking, just be careful. Ok? Don't do anything stupid

z: see this is what I mean abt being here for us, ur always looking out

goldenboi: it's almost 2 in the morning, bro. I'm gonna go back to sleep

z: that's ok have good dreams

goldenboi: thnx

 

---

 

A Bruise/The Dress™

[billyc | z]

z: I know ur probably asleep, dude, but thanks for backing me up with the band idea

z: ur awesome and u love all of us so much

z: we love you too

z: I just feel like we don't remind each other about this stuff often enough

 

---

 

Emo/Scene Aesthetic

[z | princess.hart]

z: I don't mean to be so stubborn and difficult all the time, kim. sometimes I just don't know when I'm going too far

z: sorry that I'm not good at realizing when stuff needs to be serious instead of a joke

princess.hart: What? Are you okay?

z: yeah

princess.hart: You aren't difficult, Zack

princess.hart: Maybe just a little high maintenance

z: it's ok, we don't have to talk about it. I just wanted to tell u that

z: I didn't mean to wake u up, u can go back to sleep

princess.hart: I keep my sound on for a reason; don't worry about it

 

---

 

Ranger Danger

[z | billyc | goldenboi | princess.hart | trinineedsanap]

trinineedsanap: ok, which one of u is two seconds away from throwing a tv through your wall, cause I really don't need to break anything else in my house rn

goldenboi: What?

trinineedsanap: someone just got really angry, and I'm abt to throw a tv through my wall for no reason

goldenboi: Oh. It's not me, but I think I might feel some of that too. It's kind of faint

goldenboi: And I'm staying at Billy's tonight, and he's still asleep, so it's not him

princess.hart: Not me

goldenboi: Zack was texting me earlier, and it was kind of odd but I just thought he was drinking

princess.hart: He texted me too, apologizing for being difficult

trinineedsanap: me too… we should go look for him then, right? It was two hours ago, but he said he was at the old train car

goldenboi: Yeah. So if u can feel his anger, do you think he's dangerous?

trinineedsanap: it's pretty intense, but I don't think he'd do anything about it

trinineedsanap: whoa wait

princess.hart: Hello depression my old friend

princess.hart: Is that him too? I just got really sad, but it's not from me

trinineedsanap: no I feel that too

trinineedsanap: it's him

princess.hart: Oh no

trinineedsanap: I'm already on my way, can u guys meet me down there?

princess.hart: Yeah

goldenboi: Yeah, after I get Billy up we'll be otw

 

---

 

Trini barely remembers to grab shoes before she jumps out of her window, and she really hopes the weather isn't gonna give her any surprises because she's basically just in pajamas. Once she's outside, it seems like the sky is going to stay clear, but she doesn't pay much attention because all she can focus on is running about as fast as she can down to the cliffs. At least, she's trying to focus. The sadness isn't fading or changing, and it's so intense that she's close to breaking down only halfway there. She almost forgets where she's supposed to be going, but that slight hint of this is Zack--it's coming from him is present enough that she can latch onto it and use it to keep her head clear.

Then she sees him. Sort of. It's what looks like him, but she isn't totally sure because he's lying down on top of the train car and it's too dark. But there's that ranger thing that none of them fully understand, so she knows that it's him the closer she gets.

“I told you you didn't have to come down here, T. You should've gone back to sleep.” His voice is strained and not as light as usual, and Trini tries not to connect that to the thought of him crying.

“You kind of need to be asleep at some point to be able to go back to it,” she says, looking up at him from her spot on the ground and stuffing her hands into her sweatpants pockets. “I was awake the whole time, so around three I suddenly felt like using my newly plastered walls as target practice. It didn't take long for us to figure out who it was coming from. The others are on their way.”

He sighs. “Oh.”

“Did something happen?”

Instead of answering, Zack slowly pushes himself up into a sitting position, his legs hanging off the side of the car. She can't tell if he's looking at her, but his head is hanging a bit.

They both feel it before they hear anything--Kimberly running up and stopping as soon as she realizes they're there.

“Hey,” she says, looking between them and taking a deep breath. “Are you okay?”

Zack shakes his head, but firmly says, “I'm fine.”

“Really? ‘Cause it doesn't feel like it.”

He stares at her, confused for a few moments.

“We can both feel it,” Trini says.

“What happened?” Kim ends up asking because Zack still isn't responding. Then she adds in a more gentle tone, “I've felt like this before, Zack. You're not fine.”

He shakes his head. “Wait for the guys to get here so I can talk to you all together.”

Trini and Kimberly share a nervous look. Seeing Zack so down isn't all that common, and they can feel just how not fine he is, and it's… worrying. They don't want to wait. It'd be easier to be there for him if they knew why they were there. But it's important for them to all be together for this. Whatever it is. Waiting, even if it isn't for very long, is awkward and only makes the three of them more fidgety. Zack kicking his legs that are hanging over the side of the car, splitting up the silence around them with periodic thuds. Kimberly glancing around the area, trying to keep an eye out for when they guys start getting close. Trini forcing herself to keep her hands in her pockets, but rocking back and forth on her feet so she can be doing something. It's hard not to just jump up and join Zack on the train just to be closer to him. That'd comfort her, but she doesn't know what he needs right now.

It takes a few more minutes before Jason and Billy get there, and when they do Billy almost looks like he's still asleep. But he's still looking at Zack with a concerned expression, so he must be awake enough that Jason could fill him in on the way here.

“What's going on, man?” Jason asks gently.

Zack shakes his head, staring at the ground. “My mom’s getting worse.”

None of them wanted to admit it, but they knew it was a possibility. The level of sadness they felt, how much they know Zack loves his mom, and how he's talked about not knowing how long she has left. That's when some of the pain the other three had already been feeling starts to hit Jason and Billy.

“We don't know anything else. It's like the doctors just say whatever they can to confuse you, and then throw out a bill so they can get paid. I tried to keep it together until she fell asleep so she wouldn't have to see me like this. And I was hoping you'd all be asleep too.” He shrugs. “But I did start drinking a bit. Not much. But it was enough to make me want to text you guys, because… I know I need to make the most out of the time I have left with my mom, and make sure she knows how much I love her. And when she's gone… you guys are all I'll have left. I want you to know how much you mean to me, too.”

Trini takes a step forward, close enough to touch the train car. “Zack…”

“No, I don't want to talk about it. Not now. That's why I didn't ask any of you to come out here tonight.”

“But you shouldn't be alone,” Jason says.

Billy nods. “We're here for you. We don't have to talk to have your back. Sometimes being around each other is the best thing we can do to feel better.”

Zack looks at all of them for a few moments before nodding. He's used to handling emotions like this on his own. Sometimes he forgets that he has people now--four people who have become an extension of his family.

At that, Trini pulls herself up to sit in the space next to him. The others follow, Kimberly next to Trini, and Jason and Billy at Zack’s other side. Trini grabs his hand first, lacing their fingers together, and then the others do the same to where they become a ranger train of hand holding and leaning into each other. Except Billy, who’s looking hesitantly at Jason's free hand and leaving a bit of space between where they sit.

“You don't have to, Billy,” Jason says once he notices where the other boy’s gaze is.

He nods, staring at his hand for a moment longer before looking up at the sky in content.

They don't talk.

Even if Zack wanted them to, no one would really know what to say. There's too much they'd want him to know, but too much that can't be properly conveyed with just words.

They fall asleep like that, but it doesn't last long. It was already early, but Trini’s phone alarm goes off at five-thirty so she can have enough time to get back home. Which means they get close to an hour and a half of sleep.

No …” Zack groans, drawing the word out. He blindly reaches out before finding Jason’s arm and throwing it over himself like a blanket.

Trini begins to reluctantly sit up, but Kimberly’s grip around her waist tightens, and she falls back down without even trying to put up a fight.

“No way,” Kim mumbles. “Just turn it off.”

Trini relaxes back into the surprisingly comfortable group cuddle they've got going on, and does just that before almost immediately falling back asleep.

“Um… guys?” Billy says, now sitting up and fully awake. Being the only one to actually get a good amount of sleep before running down here, he has enough energy to get up and process that it's a Monday. He waits for one of them to make a noise in acknowledgment. “If we don't get up we'll be late for school. And it would count as a sick day, but I'm not sick, and what if I do get sick and have to miss and it goes over the amount of days we're allowed? If I get in more trouble on top of my detentions I might get suspended, and... But, I guess that wouldn't matter if we can't get sick… because of our ranger stuff. But we don't know that yet. And the sun is about to come up, and we aren't sleeping with a roof over us, so it's going to heat up out here pretty fast.”

Zack makes another disappointed noise. “Why do you have to be so responsible?”

“Do we have to?” Kimberly asks, still mostly asleep.

Trini moves her head slightly, like she's trying to shake it. “No. You guys can leave without me. There's no way I can make it back and change clothes in time without my mom noticing I was already gone.” She pauses, and then sighs, sadly saying, “I've missed sleep.”

“Thank god .” Kimberly also lets out a deep breath, and then snuggles a bit closer to Trini--if getting closer is even possible with the way they all fell asleep. “I'm skipping too.”

“Me too,” Zack mutters. He pushes Jason’s arm away and then flips over onto his stomach, snuggling up to Trini’s other side.

“If I wake up and I can't breath, I'm blaming both of you,” she says, but it's so quiet they wouldn't have been able to hear if they weren't basically on top of her.

Billy looks over them. "If you really aren't getting up, you could move inside the train car to avoid the sun waking you up."

"Too much work; no thanks," Zack mumbles.

Jason actually makes an effort to get up, knowing that even if he wanted to, he can’t afford to skip any classes. He also doesn’t want to abandon Billy; the other three rangers are very obviously not getting up anytime soon. “Looks like it’s just us today, buddy.”

“Oh. Are you sure we shouldn’t--”

Jason shakes his head. “Nah, they aren’t getting up. We should just let ‘em be.”

 

---

 

The heat isn’t what wakes them up, because it doesn’t get as hot as they expected. (None of them had checked the weather recently, so they were going off the assumption that it’d be like every other day. But it isn’t.) It stays at a relatively cool temperature up until it starts to sprinkle five hours later, and then it gets cooler.

The rain doesn’t exactly wake them up, either; not really.

That little nightmare problem Trini has resurfaces, except this time it's about ten times worse than usual. She feels the few drops of water on her face and doesn't even have time to panic before it's happening again. Rita's there, and she's frozen in shock, and this can't be real. But it feels so different than the nightmares she'd usually have… So it has to be real. Because it feels like it is. The water is water , and the weight on top of her is so present, and she can hear her laughter, and there's no way her brain can be imagining all of that so vividly.

She can't move. Can't fight back. Can't scream for help. No one’s home anyway; even if she could it wouldn't do any good. Can't morph. Can't call for help. Can't even depend on their fucking ranger senses, because those apparently don't work now. Probably has to do with whatever magic Rita uses to raise putties and gold monsters and whatever else she's done to cause pain and destruction. She can't breath .

None of them can.

Trini can't breath. Kimberly can't breath. Zack can't breath.

That's what wakes them up. The desperate need for air and feeling like they're all two seconds away from their deaths.

In the first few seconds that they're sitting up and getting the hang of breathing again, the fear that Kimberly and Zack are feeling starts to mix with confusion. They don't remember having a nightmare; they barely remember that they fell asleep outside on the train. Then it hits Kimberly, because she has felt like this before.

“What the fuck?” Zack kind of coughs the question out.

The rain is coming down a bit harder now--less like a sprinkle, a little more than just a drizzle--and it really isn't helping them to relax like they need to. It's making it harder for Trini to realize that she's awake and not in any danger.

“Trini,” Kimberly says, turning to the other girl and putting a hand on her shoulder before she can think twice about it. Trini jumps at the contact and Kim is quick to draw her hand back. “Hey, you're okay.”

Trini's eyes are closed and she has her head in her hands, trying to block everything out. She can't think about it--whatever that nightmare was--but she knows they'll still ask. It felt so… real . And she can't… She just can’t .

It won't go away. She stays up all night in her room because that's where it happened and, yeah, good luck distracting her enough so she'll feel safe there. She stays with her brothers and suddenly Rita has them , and she has to sit back and watch because she's stuck. She's tied up or something--whatever it is, she can't move. Rita's using that gold scepter thing that she almost killed Zack with--sucking the life right out of people. Her family. Her brothers. She tries falling asleep on her living room couch, but it's a much bigger room than her own. Way more space--more ways for Rita to get in--more stuff to throw her into--glaringly more obvious that she's alone. And when her mother finds her there in the morning, it's just another lecture-slash-interrogation. She stays at Kim's place, and that… that seems like it could actually work. When she wakes up, scared out of her mind, she immediately feels Kim next to her, and having someone that close is calming. But it's only happened twice, and she isn't sure if it's going to keep being a thing. And if it is, how long before that's ruined and Rita's going after Kim ?

She falls asleep outside, cuddled up next to Zack and Kimberly, but it rains, and of-fucking-course it has to rain and ruin the best five hours of sleep she's had in a really long time.

The less sleep she gets, the more likely it is that she'll see a flash of green where there is none. Hear Rita’s laughter in the midst of her friends having a conversation. The now healed scars on her neck burn like they're new again. It rains, she showers, water hits her face for any reason, and she's experiencing that panic and terror all over again. The constant presence that something is wrong , something's off , and Rita somehow survived that bitch-slap into space.

It really fucking sucks.

“T?” Zack asks, glancing over at her. “That was from you?”

Kimberly nods to answer him, but she doesn't take her eyes off of Trini.

Trini's trying not to cry. She doesn't do that--she doesn't cry in front of people if she can help it. She's trying to wipe the water from her forehead, because if it's still there, she can't think about anything else. She doesn't care if it makes sense; it won't go away and it's so irritating because it's just there, and it isn't supposed to be this hard to get rid of water. But it's still raining, so she isn't going to get any peace anytime soon. And she's tired of being strong, and she's drained, and really doesn't have the energy to keep those fucking walls up right now. And she knows she'll regret it later, but right now she just doesn't care.

She lets the tears fall, and she still just wants the water to go away, but it won't. Then she feels them both move to wrap their arms around her. It's confusing--trying to figure out how she feels about it.

She’s starting to think Billy was right. About her talking to them and actually trying to deal with what’s going on with her instead of hoping it’ll go away. [She always knew he was right; she just didn’t want to acknowledge it.] She shouldn't even be complaining. Billy died, and he's dealing with it. All that happened to her was Rita breaking into her room and throwing some stuff around. [The fact that she was the stuff doesn't change anything.]

Hell, she's the reason he died. The reason Zack almost died. Why all of them almost did.

Unfortunately they're holding onto her tightly enough that she can't get out of it and run away.

“How long has it been going on?” Zack asks after a few minutes. By now they're all pretty much soaked from the rain.

She considers being vague about it like she tried to do with Kimberly, but decides against it. Decides against saying anything at all; just shakes her head.

He doesn't respond, but that's probably for the best. Hearing him ask again, or saying that she should've said something isn't going to make a difference now .

They sit like that, holding onto each other a little tighter, for a few minutes while they try to process what's just happened and what they need to do next. Eventually Kimberly suggests that they go around the corner to dry off at her house. Getting out of the rain is the one thing that currently makes sense, so the other two agree pretty quickly.

Trini doesn’t say anything more on the entire walk there.

Changing would be ideal for all of them, because then they'd be dry and warm and have an easier time relaxing. But there's no way Zack could fit into any of Kimberly's clothes, and she doesn't want to risk rummaging through her father's things to find something else. Zack says he'll be fine--the damp look works for him anyway--but Kimberly tells him that he can use her dryer for the clothes he's wearing now. As long as he doesn't mind having to stay in his underwear for a few minutes.

He decides that's a much better idea.

She isn't thinking about personally changing just yet because most of her focus is on making sure Trini’s okay. After last night, she's definitely keeping an eye on Zack, too, but Trini's still visibly shaken from that nightmare, so they’re trying to decide on the right ratio of comforting her to leaving her alone . Normally she'd have a pretty good idea of what Trini wants or needs, as far as trying to feel better, but now it's… different.

It isn't just the two of them, for one thing. And sure, it's just Zack who's with them, but even if they're all comfortable around each other, the dynamic doesn't fit with the context. The three of them together would normally mean lighthearted and fun doughnut eating contests or how much money are we betting on the next sparring partners in the pit? And Trini's comfortable in Kimberly's room--preferably curled up on the bed--but not stuck in the living room, awkwardly wondering where she needs to be to avoid giving all of the furniture water damage.

“I don't know if you want to shower, but I have some clothes you can change into,” Kimberly says after she’s shown Zack to the laundry room. She's hoping the light conversation will help to ease the tension.

“Why are we all such huge fucking messes?”

The subject change catches her off guard slightly, but it's easy to adjust to. “Um… what?”

Sort of.

Trini shrugs. “Jason's dad is always on his back about being a failure, and he has those ‘leader responsibilities’ or whatever. Billy's still constantly bullied at school. And he literally died. I don't know what he might be going through because of that, but it’s definitely worse than whatever’s happening with me. Zack's Mom is sick and getting worse. It's just the two of them, and Zack has to take care of her, keep a job, go to school sometimes, and leave time for ranger stuff. You're still dealing with the fallout from…” She pauses, letting herself trail off. Because Kim knows what she means; clarification is unnecessary. “And I heard what you told Zack last night. That you'd felt like that before so you knew he wasn't okay. And on top of my preexisting family issues, I've got PTSD. We're all fucked up.”

“Oh. Well, yeah. I guess we are.”

“That’s songwriting gold, yellow! We’re tortured artists!” Zack yells from the laundry room, and Trini promptly crosses her arms and rolls her eyes. “How do you think I tapped into the magic of my taco song?”

“He’s giving me a headache.” Trini closes her eyes.

“No, I think that’s from not getting any sleep and sitting through a several-minute-long panic attack. Your brain wants you to slow down.” Kimberly shakes her head, turning around and heading for the stairs. “We’re gonna go change, Zack! Don’t break anything!”

“Ditto!”

Trini turns around, ready to run back and punch him for that comment, but Kimberly steps back to put a hand on her shoulder. Gently this time, so she doesn't scare her with the contact. “You can hit him later, after you’re in dry clothes.”

The aggravation and reluctance is really only for show by this point, but she draws it out until they've actually reached Kim’s bedroom. She sobers up pretty quickly once she processes that they're changing , and she hopes to God Kim isn't expecting that they'll both be doing that at the same time in her room . This entire week is just gonna be a rollercoaster of emotions.

Trini was never a big fan of rollercoasters in general, but the emotional kind are now especially unappealing to her.

 

---

 

“So… do you want to talk about yesterday?” Kimberly asks, walking back into the room. She had gone to her bathroom to change.

Trini looks up from her spot on the bed. “What do you mean?”

Kim shrugs. “You climbed in through my window when you were supposed to be at church, and only told me that you had said some stupid things to your parents. I’m just wondering if everything was okay when you got back home last night.”

“Oh. Um…” She begins to pull at the sleeves on her sweatshirt, bringing the ends down to cover her hands. Honestly, she was hoping that Kim had been too tired to remember what they (very briefly) talked about. This isn’t something she’d want to talk about in general, but after what’s happened in the last half hour? If it weren’t still raining, she’d probably just run again. “They asked why I hated them, and I said it’s because they hate me, too. When I got back, they pulled me aside, gave me the speech about how worried they were, told me about twenty times that they don’t hate me, told me a hundred times that they love me, they want what’s best for me , and then added that I can’t just run away without them knowing where I am. So…”

Do you hate them?”

Trini shakes her head. “No. Sort of wish I did sometimes. It’d make things easier… They said we’re going to communicate more. Things are going to change . I’m not gonna hold my breath for that to happen.”

“They don’t get it.”

“No. They just wanted a quick fix. They basically just realized shit our daughter thinks we hate her, and that’s not good . You know? But I don’t think they were even listening. They still care too much that I don’t fit the idea of me that they have in their heads; don’t care that I called them out for wanting to change so much of me.”

“I’m sorry,” Kimberly says. “That sucks.”

She shrugs. “Kinda. But whatever.”

Kimberly wants to say something more--tell her that she shouldn’t brush those things off like they don’t mean anything. But how much bigger of a hypocrite could she be if she did that? Don’t ignore your problems; that’s unhealthy . Yeah, maybe look in a mirror and say that before trying to preach it to anyone else.

“We should probably get back downstairs before Zack starts getting nosy,” Trini says. She can feel the tension starting to come back, and would very much like for it to go away, so she’s up and out the door before Kimberly can respond.

 

---

 

Emo/Scene Aesthetic

[z | princess.hart]

z: i didn’t know t was getting nightmares like that

princess.hart: She didn’t tell me either. The only reason I knew is because of the ranger sensing thing

princess.hart: Even after I told her I could feel it, she still didn’t tell me much

z: why is she so stubborn

princess.hart: Idk, but she says she sleeps better when she’s around someone else

z: but she was around both of us and that still happened. It was rlly intense??

princess.hart: I mean, that’s what she told me. When she stayed at my place that didn’t happen. If she woke up, I didn’t feel it, and she seemed mostly ok in the morning.

z: maybe bc we were outside?? Idk why, but??

z: w/e, now that i know, get ready for spontaneous naps EVERYWHERE bitch

princess.hart: Same

princess.hart: Lunch? Bio?? Who needs those?

z: not me, not you, not red, t, or blue

princess.hart: Clever

z: i’m still offended at how little faith u have in me and my poetry/songwriting skills

z: i think t’s getting suspicious at us BLATANTLY texting each other when she’s sitting right in between us

princess.hart: Next time maybe be more subtle?

z: subtle?? I don’t know her

Chapter Text

Kimberly has a system for how she maneuvers through school days. There's a five minute window three times a day--morning, lunch, and dismissal--that she has to use to switch out her things from Trini's locker. If it's any other time, she risks a few specific people noticing-- cough cough, Amanda & co --and accidentally putting another target on Trini's back. She has a feeling that'd have more consequences than just another vandalized locker. She keeps her head down in the classes she shares with her ex cheer “friends” or the people who associate with them, and she's perfected the art of ignoring anything they say to her when they pass each other in the lunchroom. The bathroom thing took a bit longer, but she sort of remembers Amanda and Harper’s schedules and what area of the school they're normally in. And she has to go for the bathroom on the other side of the school more often than not, but it works .

It did work, but somewhere she messed up, and she's at the sink trying to calm down from what might've been an anxiety or panic attack. She isn't sure, and she doesn't know if it's actually from her or one of the others, but she's really only focussed on not flipping the fuck out before they’ve even had lunch. And she hears the voices and laughter that are so familiar to her--so stuck in her head--that she doesn't think she'll ever forget what they sound like, and it only makes her attempt to chill out worse.

There's a second before she moves that she considers just staying there, and letting whatever they might want to throw at her today happen. She knows what she does and doesn't deserve--almost wants it to happen because things have been going remarkably well lately. If something bad is on its way to even things out, she’d rather it happen sooner than later.

She ducks into a stall right before the door opens. If the panic attack isn’t going to pass any time soon, she really doesn’t need to risk bursting into tears as soon as one of them just looks at her. It feels like that’s all it could take to set her off.

“What? No. There's no way ; you have to be messing with me,” Amanda says, clearly amused by the conversation.

“Cross my heart. I couldn't make this up if I tried.”

“Then I guess that means we can actually look forward to Friday night for once.”

“Oh, definitely.”

There's a pause--just the sound of bags opening and the water flipped on for a few seconds.

“The lighting in here sucks. Why didn't we stop at the good one by the English hall?”

“Because we were closer to this one, and Mr. Beecher gives tardies if we're late.”

Amanda makes a disappointed noise.

“Did you notice they still haven't put that locker door back?” Harper asks, shattering Kim’s slight hope that she wouldn't be brought up at all. It isn't like she's around to provoke them, and she knows they have their own lives that they'd much rather be talking about, so the topic revolving around anything but her shouldn't be unlikely. The timing is what’s unfortunate.

“Yeah. That freak tore it right off the hinges with her bare hands, somehow dented it, and then threw it into an open classroom or the stairwell or something. They had to order a new one, but it isn’t exactly a priority with half the town destroyed by… whatever attacked.”

“Wait, really? Is that even possible? She's tiny.”

There's a pause before Amanda replies. “Drugs? Steroids?”

“So Kim didn't go to the office and try to rat us out?”

“No. But that isn't a big surprise. It's just like her to get someone else to do her dirty work, and stand back while they take the fall. Got her little girlfriend thrown in detention with the rest of the breakfast club to keep each other company.”

“Really?”

“What?”

Girlfriend ?”

Amanda makes an affirmative noise. “I ‘ don't know ’.” Kim can imagine the visual air quotes around those words. “But I've got a few ideas for how we can find out. You've seen them together, right? Everyone thinks her and Jason Scott are a thing, but the way she looks at whatever-her-name-is is the same way he looks at that Cranston kid. It's kind of ridiculous.”

“Unless they're all into each other.”

“Oh my god . That's a good point.”

“You know where her locker is?”

“I haven't been paying attention, but I don't think…”

Their voices taper off as they leave the bathroom, and Kimberly stays in the stall for a couple seconds more just to be safe.

Fuck .”

Then her phone goes off and she jumps.

“Shit. Jesus Christ.”

It isn't looking like she'll be able to calm down anytime soon.

 

 Pink Lemonade

[princess.hart | tiredandgay]

tiredandgay: did u steal my beanie the other day?

tiredandgay: hey where are you?? Are u okay?

princess.hart: In class

tiredandgay: you're a better liar in person than over text

princess.hart: I’m in the bathroom by the math hall, but I'm ok. I just needed a second.

tiredandgay: you know, we all say we're ‘fine’ and ‘okay’ a lot for people who are so fucked up

tiredandgay: and you can say that all you want, but I'm literally feeling what you're feeling rn, so…

princess.hart: How'd you know it's from me?

tiredandgay: just a feeling

tiredandgay: and it looks like I'm right

tiredandgay: stay where u are, I'll be there in five minutes

princess.hart: No, class is starting. You don’t need to ditch for me for no reason

tiredandgay: right, bc i normally need a reason

princess.hart: Seriously, T, I’m just gonna go to class and wait it out

tiredandgay: first of all, i know u aren’t going to class. Second of all, i’m gonna be there before u get finished arguing w me, so u might as well just let it happen

princess.hart: Fine ok

 

Kimberly leans against the wall by the sinks, hoping she'll have actually calmed down by the time Trini gets there. It sort of works--not completely, but enough to be able to hold a verbal conversation.

The door opens and she hears a soft, “Kim?” before Trini steps in completely and notices where she's standing. “Hey.”

She nods, but keeps her head down. “Hey.”

“Did something happen to make you freak out like that?” She asks, stepping closer. “I thought I was having a panic attack.”

Kim shrugs. “No. It kind of just hit me.”

Trini nods and they sit in silence for a few seconds. “That happens sometimes. There isn't always a reason.”

“Yeah,” she says, but it sounds like her mind is somewhere else.

Trini notices. Keeping to the background most of the time apparently means she's really observant, because that isn't all she notices. And she's taking her time, like she doesn't know if she should say anything about it. If they're really in a place to be having a serious conversation right now.

“Kim?” She asks, but there isn't any kind of response. Not even an acknowledgment that she heard her. “ Kimberly .”

“What?”

Trini raises her eyebrows at her. “You're shaking.”

Kimberly glances down at her hands--that are, apparently, shaking--and then stuffs them in her pockets. “Yeah…”

“I swear to god, if you tell me you're fine right now, I might punch you in the face.” (And even though that'd be a bit counterproductive, she believes her.) “Do I need to do anything? I can go to the office and tell them you're sick. Get us some excused absence slips, and you won't have to stay here for the rest of the day.”

She's about to shake her head, tell her that if she waits it out, she'll be good. But she hears two sets of footsteps coming down the hall, and those catch her attention. And then she notices the makeup bag sitting on one of the sinks closer to the door, her eyes widen, and she feels like an idiot.

“Fuck.”

And then she's moving, ignoring Trini's questions and grabbing her to pull her into one of the stalls--the one that’s as far away from the door as possible. It isn't ideal; it's such a small space, and they basically have to be pressed up against each other to fit. But it'll have to work. She's just hoping that her mind will stay elsewhere so she doesn't end up focusing on just how close they are.

“What the hell are y--” She doesn't get to finish the question. Kimberly's got a hand over her mouth because it's the quickest and quietest way she can think of to keep them from being heard. But Trini gets the message.

She pulls Kim’s hand off and gives her a look that communicates the what the fuck are you doing non verbally.

Kim holds up a finger to tell her to wait, and it's only a few more seconds before the footsteps match up with the bathroom door opening.

“...sort of wish I had. I hate that class.”

Realization covers Trini's face, and she nods slightly to show that she understands what's going on.

“You think he'll really notice if we just stay in here for the rest of the period?” Harper asks. There's the sound of a backpack opening and closing, but no sign that they're leaving just yet.

“No. Worst case scenario, we were having ‘ lady troubles ’. Last time I told him that, he cut me off and just let me go.”

“That doesn’t surprise me. He didn’t even question why both of us needed to come back for that bag.”

There’s a pause.

“Did you ever hear back from that guy?” Amanda asks.

“Which guy?”

She laughs. “Come on. After Kim left, I didn't think you'd be the one to reclaim the Most Full of Yourself award. We both know there's only one guy .”

Kimberly rolls her eyes; it's a less painful alternative to letting herself look too much into that comment. Trini wants to roll her eyes too, because is it really that hard for those two to go five minutes without mentioning Kimberly at all? But she's trying to focus on keeping still and not making any noise and hoping Kim can get through just a few minutes of this before the two of them get out of this stuffy school. Being stuck like this probably isn't doing anything to prevent another panic attack from springing on them.

Definitely not when they’re starting to notice how close they are. But not in a good way. It’s a really small space, and them being stuffed into the same stall makes it even smaller, and, wow, is it starting to get hot in here?

When was the last time they were in a confined space, the heat increasing, and the threat of them not being able to get out slowly growing? Right. The zords. The zords that were slowly getting crushed and pushed into what they thought were their deaths. That’s just perfect .

“Yeah. But… I don't know. He seems kinda clingy. A little desperate. It's kind of a turn off.”

“Oh, for sure.”

“We've gotta stick with guys from football or baseball or something. They're the only ones who know what they're doing.”

Thank god . Something to distract them from where they’re standing.

It takes every ounce of Trini’s willpower to not bust out laughing at that. She doesn't even know what they're really referring to, but at any angle it's still ridiculous. Those Straight Boy™ jocks know how to flirt? Date? Kiss? Any of that sexual stuff? Better and more skilled than anyone else?

She really doubts it.

Kimberly notices that she's struggling and has to close her eyes and bite her tongue to keep a straight face too. [There’s probably a straight joke in there somewhere.]

“No, I know what you mean. There was this one party with--God, I don’t even remember his name. But it was really late, so we were just the right amount of dr--”

Kim’s phone goes off. Again.

Of course it does.

Kimberly “My Phone Has A Volume Button???” Hart, living up to the name.

It seems like all four of them freeze in shock for a solid ten seconds.

Then Amanda speaks up. “Didn’t realize we had an audience.”

Kim sighs, psyching herself up to face them. But Trini’s moving instead, muttering, “For fuck’s sake,” under her breath, and holding a hand out to keep Kim back while she steps out of the stall. She does her best to make it seem calm and nonchalant while simultaneously trying to keep them from seeing that there’s anyone else but her in the room.

It seems to work.

“‘Sup heteros.”

It almost hurts Kim to hear her say that. When it’s just the five of them, they can talk about whatever they want. They’re comfortable around each other--or they’re in the process of getting comfortable--so joking about their sexualities is easy for all of them. But in public it’s different. Mostly just for Trini, because of her family and all the years of repression and confusion and that whole mess. She wasn’t ready to be screaming it from the rooftops.

She didn’t get the choice. Because now that she's hanging around her band of misfits--or, more specifically, new social rejects Kimberly Hart and Jason Scott--she’s been getting a lot more attention than usual. And a lot of that focus is centering in on her flannels and beanies. It was a joke at first. Some kid in detention saying, “What? Are you gay or something?” and she ignores all of those comments, but ignoring them might as well just be confirmation. She couldn’t make herself lie , so when people just started assuming… she went with it.

She wasn’t exactly outed, but she also sort of was.

She’s adjusting.

Apparently “adjusting” means owning it and pretending like nothing's bothering her.

“Cute,” Amanda says with a completely unamused tone. “Is Kim’s coming out gonna be that subtle, too?”

Trini stares at her, confused. “Don't know where you've been, but I'm pretty sure she's been out for awhile now. Or maybe I missed the read more on that Coming Out Day post where she added ‘psych! Not bi, actually straighter than a meter stick’ . But that'd be a pretty shitty thing to do, even for her.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time she’s made something up just for the attention.” She pauses. “Is there a reason you were back there being a creep, or is that just a hobby of yours?”

“Just trying to avoid the interaction that’s happening right now.”

“So are you going to leave?” Harper asks.

Trini crosses her arms. “Nope. Not planning on it. You two can stay if you want, but if we’re gonna keep talking about football players, getting wasted at parties, and how much of a bitch Kim is, you’re going to dislike me as a conversationalist even more. Just a heads up.”

“Oh, so you don’t think she’s a bitch, then? At all?”

That’s kind of a complicated question. One that she isn’t sure how to answer. “I don’t see why you care.”

That response gets their attention even more. Trini not being able to actually give them a yes or no is… interesting. Maybe things over in Kim’s new bright and shiny I have friends who like me world aren’t looking so bright and shiny anymore. “Oh, I’m genuinely curious. I don’t know what you could possibly see in her that would overshadow what she did. She was my best friend. We literally grew up together. But in the end that didn’t mean shit to her.”

She’s not wrong. Kimberly’s been over it a thousand times. By now she’s thought about it so much, she isn’t even totally sure of why she did it in the first place. And that… Yeah, that kind of makes it worse, doesn’t it?

“Consider this as me looking out for you. If you see yourself taking that spot, being her friend, falling for her, or whatever the hell is going on in your ragtag group of misfits,” she says. “Don’t be surprised if and when she stabs all of you in the back.”

Trini takes a deep breath. “I know.”

Kimberly feels almost defeated, but she isn’t surprised.

Everyone’s stopped talking, and she can’t see the stare down that’s going on between the three, but she can feel it. And Trini might be outnumbered, but Kim’s been on the receiving end of some really pissed off glares from both parties. She knows where she’d place her money.

“Come on. We’ve got better places we could be,” Amanda says.

Trini watches them leave, not letting up on her glare until they’re completely out of the room. Even then she waits just a few more seconds before giving the clear.

Kimberly steps out of the stall carefully, as if Amanda and Harper could suddenly reappear out of nowhere. They don’t. She lets out a deep breath and shakes her head. “ Why did you do that? You’re so stubborn.”

“And you’re an idiot.” Trini doesn’t hold back with that one.

She looks up, surprised. “What?”

“It isn’t that hard to put your phone on silent, Kim. There’s one switch , and it’s right next to the volume buttons.”

“Oh… Right. I know.”

“Really?” Trini asks, raising her eyebrows. “Because I’m pretty sure you’ve never had you’re sound off on your phone for as long as I’ve known you.”

Kimberly rolls her eyes, because that’s a bit of an exaggeration. “Okay. Well, I know it’s there now.”

When she realizes Kim still isn’t going to take her phone back out, she pulls her own out of her back pocket and opens up the messages app.

Now what are you doing?”

She doesn’t respond. Just hits send, puts her phone back in her pocket, and crosses her arms to wait for the message to go through.

And Kim’s phone rings again. She almost doesn’t want to check it, but she’s pretty sure the look Trini’s giving her right now is the same one that made Amanda and Harper run off just a couple of minutes ago.

 

Pink Lemonade

[princess.hart | tiredandgay]

tiredandgay: TURN YOUR FUCKING SOUND OFF. PLEASE.

 

She resists glaring at Trini, and instead very pointedly holds her phone up to flip the volume switch to silent.

Thank you .”

Kimberly steps back, running a hand through her hair in exasperation. “You’re so extra. I can’t believe you just texted me to make your point when we’re literally standing only two feet away from each other.”

I’m extra?” Trini asks, incredulously. “That’s rich coming from you.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

Trini starts to hold up a finger for each point she makes. “When we first went back to the mines, after chasing me up a mountain and across a canyon, you pulled me off of a fucking cliff to get me to follow you. You cut your own hair off in a school bathroom during detention. You offered to research churches to impress my mom just so I could stay at your house for one night . You made Zack go back to the bakery to buy you a whole new bag of doughnut holes after he stole one bite from your regular, normal sized doughnut. You regularly go cliff diving in the middle of the night--and you jump off backwards . And you stole my beanie.”

“That last one doesn’t even make sense.”

“It does because it’s my favorite, and I really want it back.”

“Okay. Whatever.” She rolls her eyes. “ You ripped the door off of my locker and threw it into an open classroom. You jumped across that cliff just to avoid talking to us. And… you wear beanies when it’s hot outside.”

Trini shakes her head. “Fuck off. That’s not extra; it’s a fashion statement, if anything.”

“Yeah, a really extra fashion statement.”

“You realize your list was way shorter than mine, anyway, right?”

Kimberly doesn’t totally understand how a difference of three is a huge gap, but she isn’t going to get into it. Mostly because she can’t think straight enough to come up with anything else, and she knows Trini probably still has plenty more to add on to her list. “Fine. I’m dramatic. But you are stubborn. You didn’t need to face Amanda and Harper like that. I was going to do it.”

Trini sighs, beginning to relax again. “I know. But I also knew that you were trying to recover from a panic attack, and them throwing emotional abuse at you wasn’t going to help your mental state at all. And you wouldn’t have stood up for yourself.”

“It was my phone that rang, so it was my fault,” she says, and then thinks, Like most things are lately . “And you were recovering from a panic attack, too, so you can’t use that as an excuse.”

“So why did it go off?” Trini chooses not to acknowledge that she was basically just called out, and steers back to deflect any focus off of her. “Who was texting you in the middle of what's supposed to be class?”

Another message was sent sometime between turning the sound off and checking her phone now, but it's the same person both times.

 

Ranger Danger

[z | billyc | goldenboi | princess.hart | tiredandgay]

z: anyone else rlly want some pizza rn??

z: also who the hell is pissed off AND turned on at the same time, and what subject could u possibly be in for that to occur?????

 

“It was Zack,” Kim says, and she isn't surprised. She is , however, trying to ignore the second message entirely. Because pissed off but turned on ? Yeah, that's probably her. “You got it, too. He sent it to all of us.”

“Of course he did. Give me a second.” Trini pulls her phone out, and Kimberly watches as an expression she can’t decipher flashes across Trini’s face.

Please, dear god, don’t let her assume that he’s talking about Kim. That’s the last thing she needs right now, but, now that she thinks about it, it would probably be the perfect addition to her already terrible day. And it isn’t even noon yet, so there’s plenty of time for more to go wrong.

 

tiredandgay: yo z, are u sure u aren’t projecting? Sounds like smth that’d come from you

 

When Kim sees the message she lets out a breath of relief.

“Okay.” Trini sighs, sliding her phone back in her pocket. “So are we leaving or not?”

Kimberly shrugs, readjusting to the change in conversation. “I don’t know. As much as I’d love to not be here, we already skipped yesterday. If we make it a habit, Jason’s gonna lecture us.”

“Whatever. It can’t be any worse than what my mom might throw at me, so that isn’t much incentive to make me wanna stay.”

“Right. How did you explain being marked absent yesterday?”

Trini almost looks smug. “I told her it had to have been an accident. That I missed when they called attendance because I had my headphones on. ‘It happens all the time’.”

“She believed that?”

“My mom subscribes to Denial Weekly , but I think she actually bought it this time,” she says. “I’m just glad I got the lecture about listening to devil music when it interferes with my education instead of sneaking out, skipping class, and lying about it . She might’ve taken away my headphones and vaguely hinted at some unpreferable consequences if my grades slip down a point . But my window isn’t bolted shut, and I’m not barred from leaving the house on my own, so I take that as a win.”

“Damn.”

“Yeah. So, as long as I can smooth talk my way into a couple of excused absence forms, I know where I stand. Whether or not we actually do it is up to you, but we should make a decision fast because I don’t want to get caught ditching in here.”

Kimberly tries to seriously think it over, but just ends up smiling and attempting to suppress her laughter. Trini looks at her like she’s crazy, so Kim quickly shakes her head so she can explain. “Sorry. I just… I just imagined you trying to sweet talk and flirt with the office TA, and…”

“Do I want to ask who the TA is?” She asks carefully.

“Uh…” She pauses to laugh again. “It’s just a little Freshman guy. Already thinks he’s hot shit, so if you turned up and tried to… Someone like you showing an interest in him? You’d give him such a confidence boost, I can’t even imagine...”

Trini rolls her eyes. “I’m really glad you’re enjoying this, but I said smooth talk and it was an exaggeration. I wasn’t planning on flirting with anyone, you dummy.”

Kimberly laughs harder. “Did you just call me a dummy ?”

“Yes,” she says after closing her eyes and sighing.

“Oh my god . You’re adorable.”

Trini looks away from her and to literally anywhere else in the room. “Shut up. No I’m not.”

“You are. I promise it isn’t a bad thing; it’s cute.”

“You know what? It looks like you’re in a much better mood, so I guess I’m just gonna go ahead and leave, and you can spend the rest of the day with the guys. Okay? Cool. Have fun.” Trini spins around and starts walking towards the door.

After realizing that she isn’t joking this time, Kimberly calms down enough to stop laughing. “No no no. Wait, T, I’m sorry. I seriously didn’t mean to upset you.”

Trini stops, but stays facing the doorway.

Kimberly takes that as an opportunity to take a few steps closer. “I really wasn’t trying to piss you off. So I’m sorry I laughed, but I still think you’re adorable.”

Before she can stop herself, Trini starts to smile. And then she turns around again. “Alright. But you better give the best performance of your life when we get to the office and convince them that you’re sick, or this won’t work.”

“I thought your smooth talking was our ticket out of here.”

“I’m not afraid to hit you, Kim. Even if you are ‘sick’.”

They both go ahead and leave the bathroom, making their way towards the main office. Kim shrugs. “I don’t know. I think I could take you. Maybe this time I’d land on top.”

Trini’s stunned for a few seconds before saying, “I might be okay with that.”

[Kimberly didn’t think that would be her response, so she might be freaking out just a little. Again.]

 

---

 

Black and Yellow

[z | tiredandgay]

tiredandgay: Next time u decide to mention IN OUR GROUP CHAT that you know one of us is turned on, maybe don’t???

tiredandgay: process of elimination dude. You ask who you think it might be from and go down the line. Jesus Christ

z: OH MY GOD

z: after ur response, i was almost pos it had to be u, but i still cannot believe…

z: and since i was lucky enough to experience that too, u gotta fill me in on what happened. my imagination and curiosity are through the roof rn. i need the deets

z: like first off, what class were u in??? we finally solve the mystery of what the sexiest subject is

tiredandgay: I wasn’t in class

z: ok ok continue…

tiredandgay: I felt smth kinda off from Kim, so i went to check on her in the girls’ bathroom, and

tiredandgay: do u rlly want the full story for this??

z: yES u can’t cut me off after an intro like that. i’m invested now pls continue

tiredandgay: so she wasn’t 100 percent, you know? I was asking if she wanted me to take her home or w/e, and then she low key flipped out and pulled me into the nearest stall, and i was like??? But it was amanda and harper coming down the hall, and then INTO the bathroom we were at

tiredandgay: so we played it cool to wait it out, but then SOMEONE [YOU ZACK TAYLOR] decided to send a msg in our gc, and everyone--u, blue, red, zordon, alpha’s cousin the talking roomba, the entire high school population, and god, probably--knows that kim doesn’t know how to put her phone on silent or dnd. So her phone rang and we got busted, but i pushed kim further into the stall so i could get out w/ out them noticing her

tiredandgay: and it worked and i got them to leave, and then i yelled at kim for not turning her phone sound off, and she kept saying “ya i know” but she still wasn’t doing anything? So i texted her to TURN HER FUCKING SOUND OFF PLS, and she finally did, but

tiredandgay: that’s where the pissed and turned on thing comes in

z: THAT’S where it comes in??? It hasn’t happened yet??? you’ve had an eventful morning, girl

tiredandgay: anyway, she called me extra, and i was low key shook bc? The literal queen of being extra said that to me? So we went back and forth calling each other out, and…

tiredandgay: ...ya, i’m gay

z: oh girl

z: u sure are. and rlly into kim apparently. like... now that i know it was from u and bc of kim, i feel kinda weird abt it

z: but i still felt it, so… honestly i’m a little surprised u didn’t just jump her right there

z: omg wait. did you???

tiredandgay: ah yes. The girls’ bathroom just screams passion and romance

tiredandgay: no I took her home, dude

tiredandgay: *took her home bc she wasn’t feeling well, and I’m being her FRIEND and PLATONICALLY hanging out w her. Speaking of, i need to stop talking to u and actually pay attention to her, so [hand peace sign emoji]

z: mhmm… ok i gotchu buddy

z: u might have a few paragraphs of my thoughts to read through when u get back, but i’ll try to keep it concise. seeya later crazy girl

 

---

 

Emo/Scene Aesthetic

[z | princess.hart]

 

z changed the group name to Strawberry Oreos

 

princess.hart: Did you seriously have to send that in our group chat?

z: i didn’t know who it was coming from and i didn’t think it was that big of a deal i’m sorry???

princess.hart: It’s just

princess.hart: If Jason and Billy had responded and said it wasn’t them, and if T knows that it isn’t her, then that doesn’t leave many other options does it??? And I was w/ her at the time, so??? It would be VERY obvious that i wasn’t turned on by anyone else in the room, ‘cause there was NO ONE ELSE IN THE ROOM

z: wait omg

z: are u telling me that it was YOU??

princess.hart: Y E S

z: ok wait a second. can u talk me through what happened bc

z: i went through it too, so it’s only fair that i know why i was feeling like that

z: i’m shook

princess.hart: I’ll tell you if you promise not to be an ass

z: scouts honor

princess.hart: Alright. So. Trini ranger sensed that I wasn’t all that ok, and met me in the bathroom even tho I told her to go to class. And Amanda and Harper left a makeup bag in there, so when I heard them coming towards us, I pulled her into an empty stall, bc I really didn't want to deal with them. But I'm a dumbass and my phone wasn't on silent, so when u first texted, it rang. And I was abt to face them, but Trini basically pushed me out of the way and kinda stared them down.

princess.hart: And then they were gone, and I was telling her she was stubborn, and she called me an idiot and yelled at me, and I yelled back, so… hence the pissed/turned on combo

z: so… u were angry cause u were arguing, but u still thought she was hot when she yelled at you?

princess.hart: ...yes

z: kinda kinky… must be why ur so into her during training… cause you're literally beating each other up…

z: i gotta say, kinky kimberly, I'm not surprised. u don't seem like the vanilla type

princess.hart: You said u wouldn't be an ass

z: I was never a boy scout, so my scouts honor doesn't exist

z: but I'm sorry, I'll stop

z: if it makes u feel better, I was just texting t, and I can pinky swear she doesn't think it was from u

princess.hart: That is kind of a relief. Thanks

z: no prob, bi bob

princess.hart: I know you're talking about my hair, but it just looks like you're calling me Bob

z: *ain’t no prob, girl w bi bob

princess.hart: A little awkward, but I guess it works

z: like u whenever ur around t

princess.hart: I want to be upset with you, but I can't bc that's very true :/

z: but it works!

z: straight up, just… think abt how trini is w you compared to how she is around us dudes… I'll give u a min, just think abt it

princess.hart: Ok, but it makes sense she'd act that way bc I’m her best friend and the only other girl on the team

z: ...I thought I was her best friend…

z: [ they ask you how you are and you just have to say that you're fine when you're not really fine.gif ]

princess.hart: You're the most dramatic person I know, and I’m including myself in that pool so u know you've made it to Top Drama Queen™

z: I graciously accept my crown, but it won't fill the void in my heart…

z: also, maybe you're right… but just… next time ur w her just try to look at things through ur bi/gay-detector goggles for an hour or two

z: if I'm wrong then u can forget I even said anything

princess.hart: We can both be her best friend you know

z: bi/pan solidarity motherfuckers!

princess.hart: Do you run solely on caffeine? Cause ur energy is all over the place right now

z: it makes up about 70% of my entire being so ya

princess.hart: ok I gtg

z: keep me updated, hart

 

---

 

Ranger Danger

[z | billyc | goldenboi | princess.hart | tiredandgay]

goldenboi: @Kim and Trini, where r u guys?

z: they went home bro

goldenboi: ?

goldenboi: Why didn't they tell us?

z: idk. they told me

billyc: They didn't say anything to me either

z: kim’s sick or smth, so little t took her home. they were prob too distracted to realize they didn't tell you

goldenboi: Sick how?

z: idk they didn't tell me that much

z: does this mean training is canceled??

goldenboi: Not until I hear back from them. And three (maybe 4) of us are still perfectly capable of training, Zack. We don't need to cancel

billyc: We don't need to. But we're all so tired all the time, maybe we should take a skip day, too. Overworking ourselves might make a spontaneous battle harder to fight.

goldenboi: I won't make a decision yet… I'll let you guys know before school ends.

 

---

 

“Oh… oops,” Kimberly mumbles to herself as she looks through her phone.

Trini looks up. “What?”

“We forgot to tell Jason and Billy that we left.”

“Oh. So Jason’s worried now, or something?” She asks, kicking Kimberly’s desk so she’ll spin in a circle in the swivel chair she’s taken over.

Kimberly nods. “Yeah. Zack told them I was sick, and they don’t know what’s going on. Wouldn’t you be worried?”

Trini makes a noncommittal noise.

“I don’t know what to tell them. I’m not really sick…”

“Just tell them you’re having an off day; it’s basically the same thing,” she says, kicking off against the desk again. But as soon as she’s facing Kim, she puts her foot down to stop spinning. “ Actually, if we’re already on the topic, we might as well go ahead and talk about earlier.”

Kim should have seen it coming, honestly. A lot went down--a lot was said --and they obviously aren’t just going to let it slide and pretend nothing happened. “Oh.”

“Yeah, oh .” Trini nods. “You had a panic attack. You were literally shaking earlier. You wanna talk about what that was?”

“You said it yourself. Sometimes those things just happen. I freaked out. I’m having an off day.”

Trini stops herself from reacting too quickly and accidentally breaking the chair she’s sitting in. She pauses to take a deep breath. “Are you serious? Is this really what we’re doing right now?”

Kimberly shrugs. And she knows it’s a longshot, and probably the wrong thing to say, but she has to try something . “I don’t need to bring my problems up when you already have so much on your plate.”

“That’s not how it works, Kim. We were all there for Zack when he needed us, and just a few hours later, you two were there for me. We’re always going to have a lot on our plate. That doesn’t mean we sideline one of our problems just because someone else is still going through theirs.”

She knows that--and that's why saying what she did was a longshot--but it doesn't make her want to talk about everything going wrong in her life any more. The lingering depression, the occasional panic attack, the self-hatred and constant crushing reminder of how much she fucked up every time she looks at her phone or walks through the school doors. The self-hatred thing alone is… well, it's a lot, and not something she's about to delve into. She isn't about to throw herself a pity party. “Mm…”

“If I got you out of class, you owe me something .”

She owes Trini more than that, but even just talking isn't looking so good. And it's terrible because she's such a hypocrite; constantly telling Trini that they can talk to each other and all that bull, when she can't even do the same back. “I don't know how to talk about this stuff. I just… I can't talk about it. I'm sorry.”

Trini sighs, leaning back in her chair.

“My parents are making me see a therapist,” Kim ends up saying. She decides that's the closest she can get to opening up without having to actually do it. “And believe me, I'd much rather be talking about this stuff to you guys than some random person I'll feel judging me the whole time, but…”

It isn't ideal, but it's something. And Trini's ready to run with that. “I don't think they're supposed to judge you. That's kinda the point of therapy; that you can talk about stuff openly.”

Her parents told her the same thing. “I know that, but I don't know that. At least with you guys, even when I fuck up, you'll still be stuck with me.”

“We aren't stuck with you. You know none of us feel like that.”

Does she? Maybe sometimes she does, but after hearing Trini say she knows Kim could stab them all in the back still, Kim isn't so sure how they feel anymore. And it isn't like she can blame them. There are some times when she feels stuck with herself, too.

Those aren't good days.

“Yeah…”

“Well, damn,” Trini says. “I thought you were my best friend. But I guess I've been thinking too much of our friendship if I'm really just stuck with you.”

She just has to fuck everything up, doesn't she? “God, I didn't mean it like that, T.”

“Yeah, whatever.” Trini shakes her head, failing to look like this isn't bothering her.

They fall into silence after that, but it's the awkward kind that neither of them are a big fan of. That’s been happening a lot more often lately. They’ll all be hanging out, having fun, and then suddenly it’s just tense . Because they have problems that they refuse to talk about or deal with. Most of them do, anyway. Those band practices are supposed to be a way to relieve stress in a way that isn’t related to being a ranger, but it hasn’t gotten there yet. Training in the pit is mostly fine, but sometimes punching stuff only gets them more worked up. Their bonfires? Those are mostly for fun, but it’d be rare for them to get through a night without some kind of serious conversation happening.

They really need to work on how they balance everything in their lives.

Kimberly, especially, is starting to realize that pushing people away is what Trini’s been doing. But now she’s talking to them, even if it’s just a little. So Kim should probably try to do the same thing, because she’s already pushed so many people away, and with them it’s gone so far past any hope of repair. She doesn’t want the same to happen with the other rangers. Sure, they’re stuck with her. But she’d rather things stay how Trini says they are--she wants them to want her there.

“I never apologized.” It’s kind of out of nowhere, and she probably could’ve led up to it better, but it’s something and it’s out there.

“What?”

“I never apologized to Amanda.”

Realization seems to cover Trini’s face, but there’s still some traces of confusion. “Do you want to?”

That isn’t exactly the reaction she was expecting. “In the sense that I want her to know I’m sorry, yeah. I regret it, obviously, but it doesn’t mean anything if she doesn’t know that. Actually telling her might be a little more difficult.”

“Do you think it’d change anything?”

“I… I don’t know. That doesn’t really matter. I’m the last thing from innocent in this, and… I never admitted that it was me. Not to anyone but you guys. And she doesn’t think I’m sorry, so I have to do something about that. She deserves an apology.”

Trini nods slowly, thinking it over. “Yeah…”

And you know what? As long as she’s being honest , there’s been some other stuff in the back of her mind lately that she should probably get out. So, after another good stretch of silence, she adds, “Also, during the Goldar attack, I kind of… let a putty arm--or limb or something--fall onto her car.”

Oh, yeah, that definitely gets her attention. “ What?

“I’m not sure there’s much I could’ve done to stop it; it wasn’t on purpose . I just… Okay, I might’ve made a comment about how they deserved it, but…”

Kim.

“They were fine , though.”

“What do you mean, they were fine? Are you saying she was in the car?

Kim opens her mouth to respond, but pauses. “Yes.”

Trini only raises her eyebrows, slightly shocked.

“And Harper was with her, but …” she says. “There is no but. It was petty and kind of terrible; I know.”

“Jesus Christ, Kim.”

It sounds way worse out loud than it did in her head. But she was flying around Angel Grove in an alien pterodactyl ship thing, so she [kind of literally] felt on top of the world. And she didn’t have control over where the debris landed. She was spinning mid air, covered in animated rock monsters, just trying to get them off so she could get back to the fight. “The ‘ I’m a flying superhero, fuck all y’all’ was a little blinding in that moment.”

Trini shakes her head, laughing a bit. “Uh, yeah. No shit.”

Okay, cool. That went better than expected.

“What about Ty?”

Maybe she spoke too soon. “What? You think I should apologize to him, too?”

“No, I think he’s a dick that isn’t getting any blame for something he contributed to. He’s just as responsible in this. You only sent that picture to him--which, I’m not saying it wasn’t terrible, because it was --but he made it worse by sending it to more people.”

Oh. Yeah, that’s probably one of the bigger downsides to this whole situation. “There’s nothing else to do about that. The biggest consequence he got was me punching his tooth out. And I didn’t even do that because he forwarded the picture. I was still just trying to keep the blame off of me.”

“Bad motive. Morally grey actions.”

Morally grey ,” Kim repeats.

Trini rolls her eyes. “If you ask me, he deserved it. If you ask Zordon, it’d be, ‘You shouldn’t have done that. There are other ways to handle conflict.’ So it’s morally grey.”

She’s really just lucky that she hadn’t been a ranger when she punched him. Not only would that be violating the personal gain and escalation of a fight rules, but with her strength, it would’ve been way worse than just him losing a tooth. She doesn’t want to think about what could’ve happened instead.

“We aren’t done here, Hart,” Trini adds. “You aren’t that smooth; I know you were trying to distract me.”

“Yeah, and it almost worked.”

“You get a pass for today, but I’m not going to forget about this.”

At least that gives her more time to emotionally prepare herself.

 

---

 

“Jason canceled training.”

Kimberly smiles, shaking her head. “Of course he did. Billy made one comment saying maybe it would be a good idea to cancel, and Jason wonders why he ever wanted to hold a training session in the first place.”

“Is it weird that I totally thought Zack was into Jason?”

“No. I don’t know what’s going on with any of them. The only thing I’m sure of is that Jason would do literally anything for Billy, and I don’t even think he’s self-aware. Our boys are clueless.”

It isn’t just the boys. They’re all pretty clueless.

Chapter Text

Ranger Danger

[z | billyc | goldenboi | princess.hart | tiredandgay]

goldenboi: Honestly, I’m surprised we’ve managed to make something cohesive that kind of resembles a song

princess.hart: ^^ I thought this whole band idea was going to disappear after a couple of days

princess.hart: I guess it’s been kind of fun

z: but sadly… we will never reach our full potential

z: i believe if we weren’t superheroes, we’d make it big

z: imagine… up on stage… the crowd screaming my name bc i’m the heartthrob of the group… they love us… and we’re famous w/ out having to hide our faces behind masks

tiredandgay: you’re the heartthrob? ...ok

z: wELL then, who do u think it’d be??

tiredandgay: fan favorite?? um, Billy. Obviously??

z: ...touche...

billyc: Really?

tiredandgay: of course, b. If i weren’t gay, you’d be my first choice, dude

billyc: Cool! Thanks, Trini.

goldenboi: Yeah, I have to agree

princess.hart: Same

billyc: I mean, I’m sure you’re great, too, in a romantic sense. ‘Cause I don’t feel that way, but if I did I could see you being the “heartthrob”, too. All of us are great.

tiredandgay: ok, but if we’re talking about who girls are throwing their bras onstage at? Since Billy would hop on Twitter and explain that he doesn’t need them, so they’d change their target

z: ah, yes. me. ur so right, t

tiredandgay: no.

tiredandgay: it would be Kimberly

goldenboi: Whoa, plot twist

tiredandgay: do i rlly need to give an explanation?

tiredandgay: like, seriously, do u think i’m wrong?

z: ...no

z: ur right…

princess.hart: Oh

princess.hart: Damn, guys. I wasn’t expecting that.

z: ur hot and u know it, lbr

z: u radiate it

goldenboi: Everyone knows, tbh

princess.hart: Wait a minute. Trini’s the broody mysterious one; ppl love that kind of thing

tiredandgay: fair point… my keyboard would be a convenient place to hang the bras…

z: wait, i’m mysterious too

billyc: Jason was a football player. I used to overhear people calling him a heartthrob a while ago before he stole that bull, so he fits that title, too

princess.hart: True...

goldenboi: Aw, thnx

z:

tiredandgay: so our consensus is that we’re all hot

princess.hart: Absolutely

z: “all”

goldenboi: That includes you too, Z

goldenboi: You’re hot and mysterious

goldenboi: Just like the rest of us

z: T H A N K  Y O U

z: someone finally acknowledges it

princess.hart: Ok, so: Billy’s right, and we’re ALL the heartthrob

billyc: Yeah!

 

z: hey, so it’s Friday

tiredandgay: i’m so proud of u for finally learning the days of the week

z: wow

z: no, i think we should have another movie night

z: it’ll be fun and we could all rlly use a break

tiredandgay: i second that

goldenboi: Ok, sure. Who’s hosting?

princess.hart: Not me

billyc: I can’t do it tonight. I can stay somewhere else, but my mom needs a break from having people over so often.

goldenboi: Alright. Guess it’s me, then.

z: we love ur sister, J. she has the BEST commentary

goldenboi: Yeah yeah

goldenboi: But that means no R-rated or scary movies

tiredandgay: good

tiredandgay: not to be a total loser, but if we’re trying to relax, an intense movie is the last thing we need tonight

billyc: I think so, too

z: no prob, guys, i feel u

z: SO, does this mean training is canceled??

goldenboi: Um, no. We’ve skipped every day this week except yesterday, and we’re skipping tomorrow, too. Not today. It’ll only take an hour and a half

tiredandgay: would it really make a difference?

goldenboi: Yes

princess.hart: Ugh.

z: ^^

goldenboi: Listen, if it weren’t me making you guys do this, it’d be Zordon. And he wouldn’t be as nice about it

billyc: It’s ok, Jason. I get it. We have been slacking this week, and we need to stay on top of training

princess.hart: I mean. I know you’re right, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy abt it

 

---

 

Skipping training is kind of like skipping school. They really should go--kind of need to go. But as soon as they miss one day, it gets harder and harder to actually go back. Three of them skipped school on Monday entirely, and Kimberly and Trini only went for a half day Tuesday. Going back on Wednesday wasn’t terrible, but it was annoying. And training? Even though Kimberly went yesterday, it is surprisingly much more difficult to make herself get there today.

She makes it all the way to the base of the ship before sitting on one of the nearby rocks, hoping to psych herself up a bit before running in to join the others.

“You having trouble?” Trini asks, walking towards the ship and making Kim jump a bit. “Is there an invisible forcefield blocking the entrance, or are you trying to piss Jason off by coming to training without actually training?”

“I thought I was the last one here,” she says instead of giving an answer.

Trini shrugs, stopping before the steps. “You live right around the corner. I don’t think you’d be the last one here unless you were trying to wait us out on purpose.”

She did seriously consider skipping it altogether, and pulling the “I lost track of time” excuse. But they’re going over to Jason’s afterwards, so she wouldn’t be able to escape some sort of concern-filled scolding. From any of them--not just Jason.

“And… that’s exactly what you were doing, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.” Kimberly nods. “I don’t even know why. I guess things have just been so crazy lately… I’m ready to jump right into movie night.”

“No, I get that. But it won’t take long. I’m pretty sure Jason’s gonna cut it short anyway.”

Trini nods towards the steps, and, after Kimberly reluctantly pushes herself off the rock, they both make their way inside and to the pit. Kimberly spends the short duration of the walk wondering how long she would’ve been sitting there if she had been the last one to arrive. She probably would've spaced out until her phone rang or someone wandered out to find her.

“Great. You’re both here,” Jason says once they’ve joined him and the other two. “Billy brought up asking Zordon about the details of our… ranger connection. What do you guys think?”

Trini shrugs. “I don’t care. If you want to, go ahead.”

That was a lie. She does care.

“Oh, um… Okay. I mean, Billy said you were talking to him about it the other day, but I guess--”

“Yo!” Zack almost shouts at them as he runs up to throw an arm around Trini’s shoulders. “You’re really short, you know that? Come talk to me while they get advice from Wall Dad.”

Trini barely has time to question him before he’s pulling her off to the side. She assumes the others will fill them in on anything Zordon has to say, but she still kind of wanted to be there . And it's still taking her a second to process what's going on--she wasn't even there for a full minute before she got pulled into a conversation.

“What is it?”

Zack looks up, waiting for the others to be out of sight before turning back to Trini. “So, it's movie night. Right?”

“Uh… yeah?” She says carefully, unsure where he's going with this.

“And movie nights are a prime opportunity for romance…”

In Jason’s living room ? Trini’s been in his house before, and sure it's really red --embarrassingly so--and that's a romantic color, or whatever, but she's never thought to herself, “Wow, this place would be perfect if I ever wanted to make a move on someone.” Yeah, that's a hard no. “For who ?”

“Any of us.” He shrugs, smiling. “ Go go poly rangers…? You and Kim, Jason and Billy, me and Jason, me and Billy, Kim and… I'm gonna stop there ‘cause I don't want you to punch me, but you catch my drift, right?”

She understands who he's talking about. Sort of. It's hard to tell how much of that he was serious about. But she still shakes her head. “I have no idea what you're talking about.”

“I'm talking about counting shoulders .”

She stares at him, hoping she'll begin to understand him through some sort of ranger telepathy. It doesn't work. “Are you high right now? Am I high? Is this some alien version of Punk’d ?”

“No, listen to me.”

Is that not exactly what she had been doing?

“It's the perfect moment for some subtle moves. An arm around the shoulder. Casual leaning on each other. Sharing the bowl of popcorn when--oops--two hands brush together. The spark that you both ignore, but it makes you feel all warm inside, and you start to convince yourself that maybe it isn't only in your head. Dumb conversations that pop up at three in the morning, and then we all fall asleep on each other. Tell me that doesn't sound magical.”

She narrows her eyes, trying to think it over. Then she shakes her head. “No, I'm definitely high. I don't know how , but that's the only explanation that makes any sense.”

“Seriously, T? You didn't get any of that?”

“No.”

Zack sighs. “Whatever. You'll figure it out tonight. Hopefully.”

Trini’s starting to wonder if she's really just that behind on sleep, because she still had no clue what Zack’s talking about. If her focus is that screwed up, maybe it isn't a good idea for her to be training at all today.

 

---

 

“What movie are we watching?” Billy asks, pulling up Netflix on Jason's TV. He begins to scroll through the categories while the others throw some blankets and pillows on the floor.

“Whatever you guys want,” Jason calls out from the kitchen. Then he adds, “Within reason.”

They still haven't decided on anything by the time he joins them, now holding two large bowls of popcorn. Billy decides to call out the names of the categories so they can narrow their search down a bit.

 

Sports movies? "Sorry, Jace, but unless it's Bring it On, I gotta vote no."

Faith and Spirituality? "That's a category? No way. Pass."

Documentaries? "Too boring."

"Are you sure? I think they can be interesting sometimes."

"...We’ll come back to it."

Romance? "Ugh. No. Listen, if I have to sit here and watch two straight white people fall in love while my gay ass is stuck here and single, I'm gonna fight someone."

Gay and Lesbian? "No.

What? Don't look at me like that. Even if some of those movies aren't terrible, I don't want to watch a gay couple get together while I'm single, either."

Drama? "How dramatic, though? Like is it serious dramatic, or funny dramatic?"

Comedies? "I just saw the cover for that food movie, and I'm already scarred. We need something cleansing and wholesome."

Children and Family? "That's what I'm talking about!"

"I don't know why I'm even vetoing these. I'm gonna pass out before we pick anything."

"Zack’s already halfway through a whole bowl of popcorn. What the hell?"

"Try and stop me, Hart. I dare you."

 

They argue for another fifteen minutes, and then Pearl sneaks in to grab the remote while they aren't paying attention. She selects the movie that the screen is stalled over just because she’s tired of listening to them go back and forth. It was paused over The Land Before Time .

“Wait, what?” Trini stares at the screen while the opening credits play.

“No, this is good,” Zack says, holding a hand up. “I can chill with this.”

Pearl jumps onto the couch in the open spot next to Jason--the others are on the floor, backs up against the bottom of the couch--and he thanks her. She nods. “You were taking forever .”

“Okay, drama queen .”

Zack finishes the entire other half of his bowl of popcorn before the movie’s even halfway over. Then he reaches over Trini to the second bowl in Kim’s lap and begins to eat from that too. It takes Kimberly a couple of minutes before she notices.

“Dude. No.”

“Sharing is caring, Kimberly,” he says, not taking his eyes off the screen.

“Exactly, and you didn’t share any of yours.”

Billy shakes his head. “He was sharing with me, Kim. I didn’t eat much, but he did offer.”

Jason nudges Zack with his foot. “There’s more in the kitchen. Just go make another bowl.”

“I think I will,” he says, pushing himself off of the ground. “I thought we were friends, Kim. I won’t forget this.”

Kim rolls her eyes as he walks away, and then turns to Trini because she’s been oddly quiet over the past few minutes. And then she sees why. “Whoa. Trini. Are you crying?”

Trini looks away from the TV, wiping her eyes with her sleeve and shakes her head. “What? No. Shut up.”

“T--”

“It’s a sad movie. Leave me alone.”

Kimberly smiles and leans into Trini’s side, but doesn’t say anything more.

As Zack gets back and the movie progresses, Trini isn’t the only one that sheds a few tears. When all of the little dinosaurs cuddle up and fall asleep on top of each other, Zack is close to breaking down from cuteness.

“That is so us…”

With twenty minutes left in the movie, everyone but Zack falls asleep. He still makes a few occasional comments to himself, whisper-screaming at the TV, because no, they’re fighting. They’re split up. Now they’re in tar! How are they alive?! THEY SAVED HER OH MY GOD YES! Oh no… Suck it up Cera, we’re all wrong sometimes; it’s okay. Jason’s zord always gotta mess stuff up for these little guys… Don’t use her as bait, she’s tiny! HE’S FLYING! KIM IT’S YOU! Oh my god… that’s so us .

Trini wakes up sometime after it’s over and while Zack is halfway through The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure . She stares at the television, and almost doesn’t process that it’s a different movie. [They look the same; it’s all just dinosaurs. But the sequel isn’t as grainy because it was made six years later.]

“Seriously, dude?”

“This is a wonderful series and you’re missing out. These dinosaurs? They're all my children,” he says. “I mean, the egg song? Almost as iconic as my taco song.”

Kimberly wakes up around one to the sound of Trini and Zack having a casual conversation like it isn’t the middle of the night. She’d have gone back to sleep if the subject hadn’t caught her attention.

“Do you speak Spanish?”

“In general, or actively?”

“Yeah.”

Trini shrugs. “Sometimes.”

“Why don’t you ever speak it around us?”

“I don’t know, why don’t you speak Mandarin around us?”

“Okay, fair point,” Zack says. Then he leans forward, looking to Trini’s other side. “Kim, you’re awake. What about you? You aren’t speaking Hindi, or… you said your mom was Gujarati, right?”

She’s still half asleep. “Uh… No, yeah. We don’t really speak it around the house. I don’t know much.”

There’s a pause before Trini says, “My mom slips into Spanish if she’s really pissed. And my dad’ll do the same to argue back if it’s bad.”

“So you hear it often, then?” Zack asks.

“Shut up. But… yeah.” She shrugs. “It wasn’t fun when my brothers started looking up swear words so they could insult other kids at school without them knowing.”

“Oh my god. That’s hilarious.”

“What are you guys talking about at one in the morning ?” Jason asks from the couch, and he wants to tell them to go to sleep more than he wants an answer.

Zack glances up at him. “What about you, white boy? What was your foreign language credit for?”

“Uh…”

“Wait.” Trini sits up, turning around to look at him, too. “Please tell me you aren’t about to say you took Spanish because you’re a jock and you heard it was easy.”

If he stays quiet long enough, maybe they'll give up and assume he went back to sleep.

Or maybe not.

“How long before you realized you’d actually need to try?”

He shrugs. “When I walked into class on the second day and the teacher didn’t speak English for the entire rest of the course.”

“Nice.”

“Yeah. Can you guys go to sleep now? If you don’t, you’re gonna sleep through detention.”

Zack gives him a thumbs up. “Sure thing, Boss Man. Energy is a Ranger’s best friend.”

 

---

 

Trini wakes up again at three, but she’s really comfortable so she’s ready to just fall back to sleep. Until she pauses because the person she’s cuddling with right now is not Kim . She opens her eyes. It’s Zack. Her initial reaction is to jump up, roll over and actually find Kimberly, but she is comfy, and Zack isn’t all that bad to be cuddling with. As long as she wakes up before he can tease her about it, she’ll be good.

They all wake up a few hours later to the sound of The Land Before Time XIV: Journey of the Brave playing in the background while Billy rattles off a bunch of dinosaur facts to Pearl. They’re both sitting cross legged with bowls of cereal in their hands, in front of the TV and at Zack, Trini, and Kimberly’s feet.

“Like the Pink Ranger flies?”

Billy nods. “Yeah, it’s a Pterodactyl Zord.”

“The Pink Ranger is my favorite, but don’t tell Jason. He really likes Red,” Pearl says, and then whispers, “We still have a picture of him on the fridge.”

Billy says, “I like Red, too,” before jumping into some T Rex facts.

Trini looks back to see Jason staring at the two in awe. It’s painfully obvious how smitten he is. [To everyone except Jason and Billy.]

“Aw, I’m her favorite,” Kim says, keeping her voice low.

“Yo, Pearl. Pink is Trini’s favorite, too!” Zack semi-shouts, and Trini immediately punches him in the arm. “ Ow . Am I wrong ?”

She doesn’t have a good answer for that. Not with Kim sitting right next to her, and waiting for a response. Because if she says yes, then wow make her crush a little more obvious why don't youBut if she says no, what if Kim's offended? Or she assumes that Trini doesn't like her at all, and any tiny chance she might have had with her would be gone. Those aren't risks she's currently willing to take.

“What about you, Z?” Kimberly asks. “Who’s your favorite?”

He shrugs. “I can’t pick. I feel a connection to Black, but they’re all so beautiful.”

“Uh… J?” Trini says, waiting for him to lean down so they can continue speaking quietly. “Did she just say you have a picture of yourself as a Ranger on your fridge?”

Jason leans back, shrugging and trying to play off the tinge of embarrassment he feels. “My dad put it there… The Red Ranger saved his life…”

“Mhm…”

He turns away, stepping over them to get to the other side of the room. “We need to get up or we’ll be late for detention. Come on.”

 

---

 

They eat at Jason’s so they don’t stop for doughnuts on the way to the school. It’s mildly disappointing for Trini because she’s eaten and she isn’t hungry anymore, but it doesn’t leave her with much left to do aside from throw some notes around. But for the first ten minutes, no one throws her anything. She’s about to give in and flip through that Better Choices workbook that they all have, but as soon as her hand touches the cover, someone finally throws a note her way. The writing is in pink.

“You look relaxed. Was Zack comfier than me or something?”

As far as Trini remembers, she fell asleep with Kimberly leaning on her--almost on top of her--so however she managed to end up in Zack’s space, it wasn’t by choice. Kim had to have moved or gotten up at some point and left Trini without a cuddle buddy.

“Hardly. But he was a good substitute. You know. Since you fucking abandoned me.”

Kimberly stares at the note, shaking her head before she replies.

“I did not. I got up for a drink of water, and when I got back you had already rolled over to the closest replacement. I wasn’t even gone for five minutes. Loyalty means nothing to you.”

She’s actually really offended by that.

“Um??? Fuck you.”

“Classy.”

“‘Loyalty means nothing to me’ I’m wearing your sweatshirt, dude.”

Kimberly turns in her seat to look over Trini.

“Ok. Good point. But next time we have a group slumber party and I get up in the middle of the night, just wait two minutes before replacing me.”

“Sure.”

The next note that she catches is from Zack. She considers ignoring it for a solid minute, but ends up opening it anyway.

“Kimberly literally just checked you out. Please tell me you’re acknowledging that.”

“Yep. That’s what we were talking about.”

She has too much fun messing with him. Especially when she hears him low key freak out from his seat, and then continue to send her three consecutive notes because she isn’t immediately responding.

“EXCUSE ME WHAT?”

“TRINI”

“I’M GONNA SEND A NOTE TO KIM NEXT IF YOU DON’T RESPOND”

And she really doesn’t need him saying anything about that to Kimberly, so she responds and hopes it’ll shut him up.

“I’m kidding, dude. We were talking about her sweatshirt that I’m wearing. Please find some chill”

“That’s impossible and you’re terrible. If you had listened to me at training yesterday, and made a few moves last night, you probably would be having that conversation right now”

She still doesn’t know what “moves” he’s talking about. And she isn’t sure she wants to know. So when she gets another note from Kimberly, she gives up on responding to Zack and opens her note instead.

“Jason and Billy have been throwing notes back and forth to each other nonstop since detention started. You think one of them is finally making a move?”

“I hope so. I don’t know if I can handle any more tension between them when we’re all hanging out again. I think seeing Billy hang out with his sister really made it click for him”

“Really?”

“Yeah. If the siblings like you, that’s supposed to be a good sign. And Jason’s really close w/ Pearl, so it’s extra important to him. You know?”

“Yeah”

That sticks in Kimberly’s mind all throughout the rest of detention.

Chapter Text

“We suck,” Kimberly states simply after the audio clip tapers off.

Jason looks up, hands on his hips, and puts on his best determined face. If they're putting in work--he'd use the term work very loosely in this context--for this band , then they damn well better sound good. It's technically fine if they don't, since it's just them messing around, but half the fun is actually producing something that doesn't… suck . “We have character.”

Zack shakes his head and pats Jason on the back a few times. “That's a fancy way of saying we suck. Don't sugar coat it, bro.”

“I still can't believe you secretly recorded us.” Trini backs up from where they're all huddled together, her arms crossed. “Creep.”

“First of all, if we had seriously tried to record this, it never would've gotten done. You'd have been too conscious of getting everything right, and I thought we needed to hear what we really sound like,” Jason says. “Second, Billy helped me hook this up. So I didn't act alone, and it wasn't a total secret.”

“I figured. Doesn’t mean it’s any less creepy.”

There’s no way Jason is going to win in an argument with Trini, so he’s going to stop there. In all honesty, he knows they kind of suck. But they aren’t terrible. Trini was right about them all being good on their own, but clashing when they tried to put it together. That can be easily fixed, though. Right?

He’s starting to get tired of this “band” thing altogether, but Zack is still really enthusiastic about it and Billy loves getting to play the drums again and it isn't often that they see Trini and Kimberly smile like this and look so relaxed and happy . He doesn't have the heart to break it up just yet.

“Oh, hey. Speaking of secrets,” Billy says, and suddenly they're all paying attention again. “Have y’all seen Zack's Power Rangers Twitter page?”

“His what ?” Jason asks. He’s stuck between shock and anger, turning to find Zack.

Trini’s shocked, too, but she’s also trying to decide if she needs to be amused or upset that this is a thing. “Dude… What?”

Zack takes a large step backwards, laughing nervously and holding his hands up in defense. “We need to talk to our town, guys. What’s the harm in it?”

Kimberly already has her phone out, pulling up Twitter. “What’s the handle?”

Zack looks at the others--who are slowly pulling out their phones as well--and then says, “At power rangers. P-W-R-R-A-N-G-E-R-S.”

“Really?” Trini glances up. “Was the full spelling taken already?”

“Yeah… We have a fanclub.”

Kimberly looks up this time. “We do not . Are you serious?”

He motions to her phone as if it can answer for him.

“Why not the power rangers?”

Zack puts his hands on his hips. “Because… I didn’t think about trying that. It’s fine; we can still change it.”

“How do they know what we’re called?” Billy asks. “Because only us and Zordon and Alpha 5 know that we’re the Power Rangers . And Rita, but she’s gone. And if we told someone, that’d be breaking a ranger rule. Right? Or… if it's just the name, and we aren't showing ourselves as civilians maybe that's okay… Is it?”

Jason looks straight at Zack, staring him down. “Maybe.”

“Oh, uh… I don’t know… I heard a bunch of news stations got tons of anonymous messages naming the masked vigilantes, so… Maybe Alpha malfunctioned, or…” He shrugs. “Maybe they just knew , ya know? Like… It’s a thing…”

“You should probably stop talking,” Trini says, but her focus is back to her phone.

“You should.” Jason nods. “We’re gonna talk in a minute, but… I need to look through this first.”

 

Power Rangers

@PwrRangers

Instagram: @realpwrrngrs

Run by the Black Ranger

(Don't tell the others)

Angel Grove, CA

 

Ya Boy #16 @bballtiger16

Uh, didn't u guys destroy half the town? @PwrRangers

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

Replying to @bballtiger16

technically, yes. But we also SAVED the town. The giant gold thing was doing most of the damage

 

Power Rangers (Fans) @powerrangers

Can u tell us about everyone's personalities? -E @PwrRangers

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

Replying to @powerrangers

Hells yeah. Black is the hottest… badass

Art Ho™ @EmFromArt7

@PwrRangers we know you're talking abt urself…

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

@EmFromArt7 I ain't hiding it friend, I know

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

@PwrRangers @powerrangers Blue is the chillest. My buddy

@PwrRangers @powerrangers Red is… responsible? He ain't that bad. The Dad friend

@PwrRangers @powerrangers Pink is smooth as hell… she could kick ur ass and you'd thank her for it

@PwrRangers @powerrangers Yellow is small but feisty. She could prob kill u w one glare. My bro

Dat Boi @eric420

@PwrRangers yellow’s a chick?

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

@eric420 I mean our armor kinda gives it away… but yeah

 

Tommy O. @toliver

@PwrRangers r any of u hooking up or dating?

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

Replying to @toliver

lmao… “not yet” but I may need to update that in a couple of weeks

Art Ho™ @EmFromArt7

@PwrRangers ooh, drama?

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

@EmFromArt7 Not really. The ppl who r into e/o are def into e/o, they’re just too dumb to admit it

 

Black Ranger @pugs88

I ship Bees

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

Replying to @pugs88

waittt. Listen i love u bc i’m ur name, but me and yellow?? She’s my bro, dude. Trust me, i’m not her type

 

Power Rangers (Fans) @powerrangers

@PwrRangers Red/Pink?? -L

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

Replying to @powerrangers

y’all are wild… assuming we’re all straight… that’s funny

Ya Boy #16 @bballtiger16

Oh shit, they’re gay

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

Replying to @bballtiger16

Ya pretty much. Just one of us is gay, but none of us are straight, honey

Tommy O. @toliver

Suddenly I stan the Power Rangers?

 

Black Ranger @pugs88

@PwrRangers previous statement rescinded. I now ship Purple

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

Replying to @pugs88

Bitch me too, the fuck??

I’m kidding

Am I?

 

Pizza Pls @bipride_wonthide

@PwrRangers I ship them all w/ e/o is that allowed??

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

Replying to @bipride_wonthide

Technically it’s allowed, but one of us is gay, so u’d need to alter it beyond every1 w/ every1. But I see where ur coming from buddy

Black Ranger @pugs88

It’s yellow, guys. He said he isn’t her type--lbr

Pizza Pls @bipride_wonthide

Okay, so I ship black/blue/red and pink/yellow. That cool??

Tommy O. @toliver

Or red/black/blue/pink, pink/yellow

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

Hells yeah!!!

 

Power Rangers (Fans) @powerrangers

@PwrRangers Are you going to keep us updated?

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

Replying to @powerrangers

For sure, you’re my buds now. As long as I get permission from the others, tho

 

Pizza Pls @bipride_wonthide

@PwrRangers b4 u leave, what do u identify as?? If u don’t mind saying?

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

Replying to @birpride_wonthide

Lol, ya. Pan/Grey ace

Art Ho™ @EmFromArt7

Um, bless up

 

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

Maybe i’ll get the others to post some insta pics w/ their flags or smth

Pizza Pls @bipride_wonthide

Replying to @PwrRangers

Bless u black

Wait are u black?

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

my suit, yes. race, no. blue is black

Pizza Pls @bripride_wonthide

Wait what

 

Power Rangers @PwrRangers

We’ll get to the race/ethnicity thing later, y’all. I gtg

Power Rangers (Fans) @powerrangers

Replying to @PwrRangers

I must be dreaming if we’ve been blessed w/ diverse superheroes -E

 

“Well, it could be worse,” Kimberly says, lowering her phone. “It isn’t that bad.”

Jason, however, doesn’t agree with her. “ Zack . If we tell them the race/ethnicity thing, how much more obvious could it get? It's like putting a sign over our heads that says, hey we're the Power Rangers! Angel Grove isn't that big; we can't get specific.”

“What? They love us.” Zack smiles. "And we can be vague."

“It’s risky.”

“I’ve been careful, bro. Chill out.”

“I can secure the account, Jason,” Billy says, standing and walking closer to the others. “As long as we’re careful, I don’t see why we shouldn’t keep the account active. It might be a good idea to communicate with the public like this.”

Trini throws a hand up to get their attention, but she’s still looking at her phone. “So how much hate are we getting? ‘Cause you don’t have any on this page, but there’s no way we don’t have a bunch that you haven’t acknowledged. Especially now, since you’ve told everyone how gay we are.”

“Um…” Zack trails off. “Just don’t search our name. Only one of us should have to see it; I’ll be the filter.”

“That’s not reassuring.”

Bees is kind of hilarious, though,” Kimberly says.

“The name of the ship or the thought of the relationship?”

“Yes.”

Zack nods at that, also smiling.

“Wait, you described me as responsible? ” Jason asks, his eyebrows drawn together. “The rest of you got chill, feisty, smooth, and badass . Come on, dude.”

“I said you were the dad friend. Some people are into that.”

“You know we love you, Jason,” Kim adds.

Billy lowers his voice a bit before saying, “We can hijack the account later.”

Jason calms down a bit at that. They’re probably right and he’s just being the responsible one again, overreacting . But still . It doesn’t sound like a good idea; it’ll only take one small screw up to ruin everything. He just doesn’t like it.

“How the hell did you even get this picture of us fighting over a water bottle without us noticing?” Trini asks from across the room.

“Ooh!” Zack jumps up to join Trini and looks over her shoulder. “You found the Insta. I’m seriously proud of some of these. Scroll back up real quick…”

Right. They have to monitor that account, too. Wonderful.

 

---

 

While Billy and Jason sit off to the side and look through the Twitter account from Billy’s laptop, the other three are messing around with some snacks that had earlier been brought down. Kimberly sits on the one surface in Billy’s room that doesn’t have anything on it--a clothes dresser--with a bag of mini marshmallows in her hands, and Trini and Zack are both on the ground in front of her, lying flat on their backs. At one point Zack pats the ground to get Kim’s attention and says, “Pour some sugar on me, Hart!”

She grabs a marshmallow but pauses before throwing it. “I’ll give this to you, but please never say that again.”

“Deal.” He smiles, opening his mouth to catch the marshmallow when she finally does throw it.

When Trini tells Zack that she’d totally catch more than he ever could, it accidentally turns into a game. They go back and forth for several minutes and Trini does catch way more than him, but he’s starting to realize that having Kim as the designated marshmallow thrower was never going to work in his favor. They’re halfway through the bag when he gives up.

“This was rigged .”

Kimberly nods, tossing a marshmallow in her own mouth. “Yep. Sure was.”

Zack mocks gasps. “Wow…”

She chooses to ignore him and move on to another more relevant topic. “Trini. So, uh… Are your parents scrambling to make sure you don’t ditch out on church again tomorrow?”

“It’s kind of weird, but they aren’t,” Trini says. “They aren’t making me go at all.”

Zack sits up and turns to look at her. “I don’t know much about your parents, T, but that has me shook. How did you pull that off?”

She shrugs. “I don’t know. They kind of made a deal with me. I stay more open to communicating with them, and they let me sleep in on Sundays. It’s supposed to be better for my mental health.”

“Yeah, it totally would be. You need that sleep, girl.”

Trini shrugs, pushing herself to sit up as well. “I guess. I mean… They don’t think it’d be healthy; they’re just doing what some book or online guide is telling them.” She pauses. “My mom’s been looking through some stuff on dealing with difficult teens , and I guessing establishing some sort of trust is supposed to be good or something.”

“You’re saying that like it’s a bad thing,” Kimberly says, but she tries not to let her concern show. It sounds like Trini’s parents are actually trying to help her, and even if they’re doing it for the wrong reasons, it’d still help . More sleep and talking about her problems? That’s exactly what she needs right now. Too be fair, she knows that talking about her problems with her parents is the furthest thing from realistic, but if Trini would be open to communicating with the Rangers , that’s a different story.

“I just know it’s total bull. But I’m not turning away an offer to get out of church every week.”

“At least they’re trying, though. Right?”

Trini doesn’t respond for a good stretch of time, and when she does, it’s just, “Sure. I guess so.”

When she isn’t paying attention Zack and Kimberly share a look. They really hope they’re wrong, but Trini’s beginning to sound like she’s going to start closing herself off again. They might need to be careful with how they talk to her (about the more serious topics) over the next few days.

 

---

 

Going back to school on Monday is supposed to be as uneventful as it normally is. But Trini and Kimberly have barely even made it to their shared locker when that plan is flipped completely upside down. Amanda and Harper, or whoever they've got backing them, figured out which locker was Trini’s. Saying they've made their mark on it would be putting it lightly. They didn't hold back this time.

Seeing the door covered in words and slurs--way more than what was on her locker. This time they were conscious of using up the entire area--makes Kimberly feel awful . This is exactly what she didn't want to happen. The words themselves hurt , definitely, but she mostly hates that she's put Trini in this position. Half of it is directed at both of them, and Trini doesn't deserve any of it.

Gonna rip this off the wall too, freak?

Here's a bigger platform for your coming out

Dykes

Can't shake us off that easy

Nice try, bitch

Is sharing a locker the lesbo way of saying you're hooking up now?

There are also a few variations telling them to die, and some… doodles that aren't exactly school appropriate.

Trini's pissed more than anything, her grip on her backpack straps strong enough that, if she isn't careful, she could break anything she touches. They could have at least stuck to a theme instead of hodge podging any insult they could think of onto the whole thing. The gay thing. The being a bitch thing. The hate yourself and die thing. There's a lot to choose from, and they decided to choose it all.

“You've gotta be fucking kidding me.”

Kimberly’s attention snaps back to Trini, and she sees the look on her face. Knows what that level of anger means. And when Trini turns on her heels and starts down the hall, Kim is right behind her.

“Trini, don't do anything stupid.”

“No. Your locker was one thing. They messed with it, and I got rid of it. But they're so caught up in this that they had to find out that we're sharing my locker, find where my locker is, and then fuck with that, too. No way.”

Kim tries grabbing her shoulder, her arm, anything to slow her down for a second, but Trini just shrugs her off and keeps moving.

“We aren’t supposed to escalate fights.”

“Fuck that.”

Nothing good is going to come from this. Kimberly doesn't know what to say, but if she could just get Trini to at least think about what she's doing… “You don't even know where you're going.”

“We both know exactly where I'm going, Kim.”

“Don't get yourself in trouble because of me again. It's not worth it.”

Trini shakes her head. “You are worth it. This is fucking ridiculous and it needs to stop.”

Fuck. She can't hold Trini back on her own. If they reach Amanda or anyone associated with her, and things get violent… Having another Ranger there would be preferable. If not to talk Trini down, then to at least keep her from fucking up and hurting someone.

Speaking of, Zack is walking up to them from a perpendicular hallway, matching their pace. He has a vaguely pissed off expression on his face, and Kimberly already knows that now it's just her against two reckless Rangers. Since when is she the level headed one in any situation?

“Why are we angry?” He asks, and Trini quickly fills him in.

At this point she knows she doesn’t have a chance at getting between them and whatever disaster is about to happen. But she isn’t giving up. “Guys… stop .”

And they're ignoring her.

“You know where she’s gonna be?” Zack asks, and Trini sort of nods.

When they turn onto the next hallway Kimberly’s close to just running and grabbing an administrator, or finding Jason and Billy on her own, because… they found Amanda. And Harper and a couple other cheerleaders, and Kimberly knew that if they found one of them, they’d find the others. That was their thing. Hanging out by their lockers before class started, acting like they don’t have anywhere to be.

Amanda’s facing them as they walk up, so she notices them over Harper’s shoulder pretty quickly. As soon as she says something, the others follow her gaze and their posture becomes more defensive. “Looks like you’re all having a tough morning.”

Kimberly’s stuck behind Trini and Zack, so she leans forward and tries to say firmly but in a low enough voice, “Come on, guys. Let’s just get to class.”

“Mm… Kimmy finally being smart for once? That’s new.”

Trini doesn’t really pay attention to either of those comments. “Listen, you’ve made your point loud and clear. You can lay off now.”

“Really?” Amanda asks, turning to Trini. “‘Cause I’m not so sure about that.”

Trini takes a step forward, ready to throw down because who needs reasoning when you can just punch stuff to make your point? Kimberly grabs her arm with more force this time so she can’t just shake her off. When Trini turns around to glare at her, Kim pulls her back a bit. She’s taking a gamble with leaving Zack on his own to stare those girls down, but she hopes he’s level headed enough to stay in that position.

Kim lowers her voice again, still holding Trini’s arm to keep her from jumping back. “Trini, look at me. Please don’t do anything stupid. If you hurt them… You have super powers; it’s just-- It’s a bad idea. I’m serious. This is my fault, just let me handle it.”

Trini tries to shake her arm free again, but Kim doesn’t let up until she’s started to regulate her breathing and calm down. “Even if you try to apologize, it isn’t going to change anything. They won’t stop, Kim.”

“Maybe you’re right; but I have to do this.”

Trini’s hesitant, but she knows that Kim’s right. So when she finally pulls her arm free, she moves to the side and mutters, “Fine. Whatever.”

Zack turns around and looks back and forth at everyone before joining Trini.

Seeing Kim step forward makes the girls both uneasy and intrigued. They’re ready to see how this plays out, and whatever happens is going to be good , but she’s still Kimberly Hart and that’s a little terrifying.

“Look. Amanda,” Kimberly says, taking a deep breath. “I know I should have said something before now, and I should’ve owned up to it sooner. But I am sorry about what happened. I don’t expect you to forgive me-- I wouldn’t forgive myself--but… I just wanted you to know that. And… I only sent it to Ty.”

It isn’t like she thinks that makes it any better, but from what she knows, Amanda thought it was Kim who spread it to everyone . If she can clarify even a little, she wants to.

Amanda watches her in silence for a moment, crossing her arms, and then saying, “Okay.”

Kimberly nods, stepping back to grab the others, but Trini stops her by saying, “But--”

So she spins around to add, “If you’re going to keep up the locker thing, just don’t drag them into it. This is all on me; it should stay that way.” She continues to pull them away before they get into any trouble.

Before they’re out of earshot, they hear one of the cheerleaders saying, “That was kind of anticlimactic…”

And maybe it was, but that’s exactly what Kim was hoping for.

Zack’s the first of them to speak up. “Wow… I’m proud of you, Kim. That was a little intense. I thought I was about to be in the middle of a brawl.”

“Yeah, well… It had to happen.”

“I’m still pissed,” Trini mumbles.

Kimberly sighs. “I’ll clean your locker. Don’t worry about it.”

“Don’t bother. They’ll just go back over it.” She looks at the ground. “Do you feel better after that?”

“Um… Maybe, like, two percent better?”

Zack claps his hands together and smiles. “That’s better than zero percent, right?”

“Well… yeah.”

 

---

 

“Hey, T. I, uh…” Kimberly starts. She could’ve planned out what she wanted to say a bit better, but… Whatever. Too late for that. “I know it was hard for you to see that stuff on your locker. I’m sorry that happened.”

Trini shrugs. “Yeah. Whatever.”

She’s been getting that as a response way too often lately. So if she’s a little pissed off at Trini’s lack of a real response, that’s totally not her fault. “You know it’s really annoying when you act like nothing bothers you. Or that you don’t care about anything.”

Trini looks up this time, way more in tune to the conversation. “Excuse me, what?”

“This whole… I don't know. These walls that you put up. You know we have your back--you know we’re literally ride or die with you, and sometimes you let yourself get comfortable around us. But it's like as soon as we look away for a second, or say one wrong word, or are around other people, it's like we haven't been through any of this together. It's like we're still down in the caves for the first time, and you're looking at us like we don't know who you are.”

“Maybe you still don’t.”

Kimberly shakes her head. “You’ve got to be kidding me right now. Don’t do that.”

“Do what ?”

“What I’ve been talking about. You’re getting defensive again, and you don’t have to do that around us anymore.”

Trini laughs humorlessly. “Right.”

“You don’t . What could possibly make you think differently?”

“Every time I hear you guys tell me to talk to you, it makes me want to even less because you sound like my mom. Do you know how many times I’ve heard that from someone who doesn’t care about what I have to say?”

Kimberly sits back, shaking her head again. “ We care. We aren’t your mom, T.”

“I know.”

But that’s all she says. Kimberly had calmed down for a few minutes, but now she’s just annoyed again.

“Oh my god . You’re so fucking frustrating.”

“If you’re still trying to get me to talk to you, insulting me really isn’t the way to go.”

“Really?” She asks. “Because nothing else is working; I figured I’d at least give it a try.”

Trini’s close to getting up and leaving. She doesn’t need to sit here and have Kimberly yell at her when she can get the same thing at home. “You don’t have to be a smartass, either.”

“What is happening right now? I’m genuinely confused with this entire conversation. Why are you being so much more closed off than usual?”

Trini doesn’t get to answer--or to deflect instead of answering--because their phones go off. Kim’s ringing, and Trini’s vibrating. They don’t answer immediately, but Trini is the first to move. Once she reads the message, she’s already making her way towards the door.

So much for Kim being careful with what she says to her.

“Jason wants us to go train.”

That’s annoying too. They aren’t done with this conversation, and now that Trini has an excuse to get away, she’s going to take it. They shouldn’t be leaving things in the middle of an argument; that isn’t going to help anyone.

Kimberly doesn't get to make that choice. She's done all she can think of, and if Trini doesn't want to talk to her, then she won't.

Chapter Text

If training was supposed to work as a distraction, Trini’s doing a pretty bad job with her execution. To put it simply, she’s being a tiny ball of angst and going overboard with her level of aggression. Jason’s blocking every punch she throws at him, but even doing that still hurts. His palms are getting sore from having to block so much so quickly, and they're in their armor . Hurting each other while they're morphed up like this isn't a common occurrence. When Billy calls out that it's time to switch partners, Jason sighs in relief, “volunteering” to be the next one to sit out, and Zack takes his place. He gets away with ducking and jumping back for a while, but that only makes Trini irritated and impatient. So she gets even more aggressive. Somehow she manages to trip Zack, making him land on his back, and then she lands on top of him, bringing her fist back to punch him in the face. He has his hands up fast enough to stop the hit.

“Dude. Ow ,” he says, waiting for her to back off. When she does, he sits up and shakes his hands out.

Jason was watching the whole thing and is starting to worry about how intensely Trini’s taking this training session. Even the way she's pacing right now is like she's just on edge . “Take it easy, Trini. Calm down.”

Trini shakes her head and mutters under her breath, “Fuck off.”

It's low enough that Jason doesn't hear it, but Zack is able to just barely catch it.

“Are you sure you're okay, T?” He asks gently, pushing off of the ground to stand up and talk to her.

She doesn't respond. Just ignores him and starts walking towards the ship, her armor slowly melting away the farther she goes.

As the other three’s attention follows Zack’s, they stare at Trini leaving, stuck being both shocked and confused.

“Um…” Zack’s armor begins to fade away, too, and he scratches his head as he looks at the others. “What was that?”

The other three are armorless just a few seconds later. Jason shakes his head as an answer.

Kimberly hesitates, but then decides to go after her. As she leaves she calls over her shoulder, “I'll try to catch up with her; see what's going on.”

“You know what you're doing?” Zack asks. “Doesn't look like she's in the mood for talking.”

No, it definitely doesn't. She nods even though she has no idea what she's doing. Maybe if she’s careful this time and really tries to put herself in Trini’s shoes, she can make some progress.

Trini’s barely made it into the ship when Kimberly calls out her name to get her attention. She stops, thinking over whether or not she should listen, but by the time she's about to make a decision, Kim’s already reached her.

“Hey, what's going on?” Kimberly asks. “Are the nightmares getting worse? Or is it something else?”

Trini shrugs, but it's over exaggerated. Yeah, talking is the last thing she wants to do right now. “Since you know me so well, I'm surprised you haven't figured it out.”

Kimberly takes a step back, a little surprised. She doesn't know how to handle this. Not without making it worse. “I’m not going to make you talk to me, but if you don’t give me something I won’t know how to help.”

“Maybe I don’t want your help.” She crosses her arms.

“Okay. Fine. I’ll back off, but you almost punched out Jason and Zack earlier. You owe them an explanation or an apology.”

Trini rolls her eyes. “They’re fine.”

“That’s not the point.”

“Alright. You know what?” Trini steps forward, and Kimberly almost steps backwards again as a reflex. But she stands her ground. “It was one thing when I started hanging out with you guys and people just assumed . It was a joke and I ignored it, but then people got serious and I couldn’t deny it. So, it’s whatever , right? Might as well just let it happen. But it’s an entirely different story when I’ve got homophobic slurs covering my locker for the whole school to see.”

Kimberly’s momentarily stunned, but she shakes it off quickly. “You think I don’t know that? That’s exactly what I was trying to talk to you about earlier. Don’t act like I’m just ignoring how shitty it is that you have to deal with that now.  I don’t buy it, Trini. That isn’t everything that’s bothering you.”

“You’re right. That isn’t all of it,” Trini says, and Kimberly’s surprised that she’s still going with this. She was supposed to have already ran out of the ship. “But just think about it. What the fuck else could be going on? Why am I so pissed off?”

I don’t know . That’s why I’m asking.”

Trini takes a deep breath, but starts speaking again immediately after so she won’t have the chance to let herself back out. “Why do you think I tore your locker door off and got myself thrown into detention with the rest of you? Why are we sharing a locker now? Why have I only opened up to you about my problems? Why are you the person I run to when I fuck up with my parents and bail on them because I can’t handle talking ? I don’t even think about it anymore, Kim. Last week I skipped class because you were having a panic attack. I confronted Amanda and Harper when your phone went off. I took you home and tried talking you through your problems like you’ve done with me. I go to you when I can’t sleep. Last Friday, when I woke up next to Zack… my first thought was, ‘This isn’t Kim. I guess I’ve gotta get up and figure out where she went.’ You can say it’s because we’re the only two girls on the team; that it makes sense we’d be closer to each other than with the guys, but that’s bullshit… And I know that they went after my locker because you’re using it, too, but it’s my fault that happened. Because it wouldn’t have if I had just left yours alone. I got myself into this mess.”

Kimberly is frozen where she’s standing, too shocked to even form a coherent thought. If she had to sum up what’s happening in her head right now, it’d be a long line of exclamation points and question marks.

“I’ve got parents that yell at me to talk to them, but don’t care about what I have to say when I actually do. I have whatever the hell is happening at school now. I’m a superhero, I can’t sleep, and I don’t know if I’m ever going to get rid of these nightmares. And you’re always on my mind no matter what I do… I'm just so stupid for doing all of these things that I don't have to. I get myself into trouble, I ditch classes that I'm already this close to falling behind in, I do everything but throw myself at you, and you don’t even fucking notice. Of course I’m pissed off. I'm a goddamn idiot.”

“Wait…” Kimberly blinks a few times, but it doesn’t help her process that any faster. “What?”

Trini’s already turning around and walking away. So Kim calls her name out in an effort to stall for a few more seconds, but this time Trini doesn’t stop. She does call out, “ Don’t follow me. Just… Leave me alone.”

Once Trini’s out of sight, Kimberly turns around and takes the few steps back into the Pit area. She’s still confused out of her mind. But Trini does have a point about her being so clueless. She’s pretty sure she’s never actually thanked Trini for all of those things. Tearing her locker down? Yes. But skipping class when she was freaking out? No. Taking the fall when her phone went off in that stall? No. Getting her out of school and taking her home? No again. All of the other times Trini’s had her back? Nope. In her head, yeah, she’s probably thanked Trini a thousand times. But it doesn’t mean anything if she doesn’t say it out loud.

She fucked up. In more than one way.

Before she remembers that she’s no longer in her armor, she’s punching one of the rock formations that’s more or less hugging the wall near the ship entrance. As the pain explodes throughout her hand, she’s drawing her arm back closer to her body and biting down on her tongue to keep from screaming. It doesn’t take her much longer to accept that she’s a fucking idiot who punched a solid wall of rock with her bare hand, all because there’s so much going on in her mind that she didn’t know how to properly process it. Sometimes her impulsiveness isn’t all that bad [ex: cutting her hair], but stuff like this really reminds her how much she needs to learn to stop and think things through.

“Why the fuck did I do that?” Kim mutters to herself, and then tries to take some deep breaths to calm down. Zack’s the first to notice her standing there, and injured, so he jogs up with a confused look on his face.

“Dude, what happened?” He asks, staring at the hand she’s still holding at her stomach. “I thought you had it.”

“Uh…” She’s still wondering what exactly just happened, too. “I think… Trini might’ve just tried to tell me that she likes me, but… she worded it in a really intense way and then stormed off. I’m… not really sure.”

Zack raises his eyebrows and crosses his arms. “Wow, finally . What’d you say to make her leave?”

“Nothing. She just kind of shouted her feelings at me and then ran. She’s really upset.”

“Upset about what? You getting her to admit she’s into you?”

Kimberly shakes her head. “I don’t know. On top of everything else that she’s dealing with… She’s either pissed that I’m a dumbass, or pissed that she’s into me in the first place. That, or she really hates me and I’m severely misinterpreting everything.”

Zack stares at her for a moment before shaking his head too. “That is the biggest reach I’ve ever heard.”

“What?”

“Now I see why she’s pissed. Your obliviousness is giving me a headache.”

Kimberly looks down at her hand and then holds it up. “No, I think that might just be my headache from doing this. And I'm not reaching, Zack. I have been a shitty friend.”

Zack pauses to think about that, but he doesn't get a chance to respond.

They hear Billy running up before they see him, and he stops a few feet away from them, looking worried. “Kimberly, what happened to your hand?”

“I’m fine, B. I just punched a wall.”

He isn’t any less concerned after hearing that. “Why would you do that?”

“Kim, what the hell?” Jason calls out as he jogs up to join them. He’s staring at her with wide eyes.

“I’m just really fucking stupid,” she says, and she sounds tired. “Don’t worry about it; I’ll be fine.”

“You’re bleeding .”

Before Kimberly can respond again, Alpha 5 is walking in from the main ship area, full of questions about what happened and how she’s feeling and if they can get to the infirmary to patch her up. She’s pretty thankful for the distraction.

“So, uh…” Zack says, shifting his weight back and forth on either foot like he’s ready to take off. “Should I go check on Trini, or do you think she needs some time to cool off?”

Jason shakes his head. “I don’t know. I… I don’t know.”

“Kim just punched the wall.”

“I know.”

“Trini almost punched a me-shaped dent into the ground.”

Jason nods, slowly growing more anxious and overwhelmed. “Yeah.”

“Trini yelled at Kim and then ran away, and we don’t know where she went.”

“Mhmm…”

“I’m pretty sure Kim doesn’t even know what day it is. She’s so confused, I think her mind’s in a whole other universe.”

“Thanks Zack, I got it.” Today is not a good day for his team leading skills. Not only are they all a mess--particularly Trini and Kimberly--but he also has no idea how to go about handling any of it. Why is he in charge? Why not someone else? He doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing.

Billy takes a step forward and proposes his own plan. “Zack, why don’t you go find Trini to make sure she’s okay, and then maybe text her to see if she wants company? We can wait here for Kimberly to get her hand fixed, and then try talking to her.”

It’s simple, but it’s also exactly what they need to do. Thank god for Billy.

“Billy, can I hug you right now?”

“Um.” He glances at Zack for a moment, and then looks back at Jason. “Sure?”

Jason pulls him in for a hug and the contact makes it easier for him to calm down and start thinking straight again. When he pulls away, he nods and smiles. “Thank you.”

“I don’t know what I did, but you’re welcome?”

They can figure this out. Even if it takes a little bit of time.

Hopefully.

 

---

 

Trini knows that she’s supposed to be heading home, but when she’s in a state like this , that sounds like the worst idea on the planet. So she finds herself up around Zack’s train car in the area they use for their bonfires, contemplating how she royally screwed up. She yelled at Kim, spilled everything without saying what she actually meant, and now there’s no going back. There is the possibility that Kimberly had no idea what she was talking about, but she’s not stupid. It wouldn’t take much for someone to make connections and be pretty damn sure of what it all meant.

She could've worded it better. Been more calm, less aggressive. Used her “inside voice” instead of yelling. It wasn't really yelling; more of a highly emotional raised voice. But it could've gotten worse. She hates aggressive yelling--whether it's coming from her, or directed at, it doesn't matter. But like mother, like daughter has never felt more accurate and terrifying than right now. It isn't a comparison she's all too happy with, but if she isn't careful, it'll be exactly what she turns into.

[They're right about bottling everything up not being good for her.]

And Kimberly never asked her to do any of those things; never asked her to have her back. She shouldn't have made it sound like she was blaming Kim for all of it. At this point, though, she isn't even sure who she's upset with.

Fuck …” she draws the word out, closing her eyes. How the hell is she going to fix this?

“I agree.”

She jumps at the noise, but relaxes when she notices that it's only Zack walking up.

“Sorry. Why are we angry?” When he gets close enough, he doesn't sit right next to her. Instead he takes a seat a couple feet away in the open lawn chair.

“I don’t know. I exploded at you, and then Kim, and…” Does she really want to keep talking about this? Does she want to risk screwing things up any more than she already has? Not really. “Nothing. Never mind. I’m gonna go home.”

“Are you sure?”

She nods. “Yeah, I need to… think through some stuff.”

“Alright. Text if you need anything?”

She nods again, absentmindedly, and then gets up from her spot. “Sure.”

As much as she doesn’t want to be home right now, at least there she can lock herself in her room and finally be alone.

 

---

 

Locking herself in her room doesn’t really go as planned. As soon as she’s through the front door, her parents are waiting and ready to pull her into the living room so they can “talk”. It doesn’t sound like anything good can come of it, but she doesn’t have a choice. The first thing they ask is where she’s been--they’ve been texting and calling her, but she never answered. [Her phone was on silent and she didn’t check it because she was too afraid of what the other Rangers might’ve been trying to say to her.]

“I was with friends. Don’t worry about it.” She’s so tired that she doesn’t realize how bad it sounds until she notices the parental stare that they’re giving her. So she shakes it off and sits up straighter in her seat on the couch. “I was hanging out with my friends. We were just walking around town; my phone battery died. Sorry.”

“Was one of those friends Kimberly Hart?” Her mother asks, and suddenly she doesn’t feel so tired anymore.

What the actual fuck?

Is she actually awake right now, or has this entire day been one long nightmare? It makes sense that a lack of so much sleep would make her consciousness and unconsciousness start to bleed together.

She doesn’t talk about her friends to her parents, and if she did, it’d only be by first name. So this is weird. And the fact that it’s Kim that they’re asking about makes it even worse . “Um… What?”

“We got a call from the school,” Her father says. “And they asked us if we could come down to discuss some things.”

What the fuck does that mean?

“It was about some vandalization to your locker. They wanted you there, too, to see if you had any information on who might’ve done it,” he continues. “They said after the last incident, they’ve been wanting to look more into the problem. Especially after your involvement with the last time, and how that resulted in more damage done to school property. Your principal stressed that he really doesn’t want to order another locker replacement.”

Oh. Yeah, that does make sense.

But it also sucks, because when she explained how she got those detentions, she basically just said, “One of my friends was being bullied, and people were screwing with her locker. So I took the door off because the school wouldn’t do anything about it. I’m sorry, it won’t happen again, blah blah blah.” And they were upset , but it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. They were mostly just happy that she had friends to socialize with, and was standing up for people instead of being the bully. They didn’t know that she ripped it off the wall and threw it into another classroom . And now that they probably know in detail what actually happened…

“We thought you were being bullied,” her mom adds, and she looks pretty worked up--especially considering the conversation. But she doesn't look upset at the thought of Trini potentially being harassed; she looks more... inconvenienced. They’ve gotta be taking this somewhere way worse than whatever Trini’s imagining. “But he said, even though they have a zero tolerance bullying policy, he wasn’t sure who the targets were. Because after you broke Kimberly Hart’s locker, you started to share one, and it’s likely that they're only going after her. Except some of the comments were directed at more than one person.”

As nice as it might’ve been to be there and field some of those questions to give her own side of the story, she’s so glad that she wasn’t there. If they were told what was written on that locker… She wouldn’t have stuck around to see their reactions, that’s for sure.

“He showed us your locker, Trini.”

Oh, shit.

Of course he did. But she would bet that her parents (her mother) demanded to see it.

And, yeah. She knows exactly what that look her mom’s giving her means.

“Is there something you want to tell us?”

No, absolutely not.

 

---

 

The last time Trini went through something like this, it was a couple of years ago and because of Netflix, of all things. It wasn't even for a reason that makes sense. She wasn't watching gay shows or movies, and leaving them in plain view on her Continue Watching or Watch History. She knows how to delete that stuff; she's not an idiot.


But her parents are nosy. And… they might be a little idiotic if this situation is anything to judge by. They monitor her account. That much isn't a surprise. But monitoring means very specifically scrolling and combing through the entirety of the Netflix page that pops up when they click the icon with her name.


Her father was at work when he decided to make one of the periodic look-throughs, and she was at school. So when she got a screenshot and a text from her mother in the middle of study hall, she almost had a panic attack.


The screenshot was her father messaging her mother, saying something like, “I’m worried about Trini. I found some Gay & Lesbian content on her Netflix… Do we need to talk to her?” And her mom’s message to her was, “Can you explain this?!”


Her first thought was wondering how the hell she messed up, and what content he could possibly be talking about. She had just watched Rent, but that was rated PG-13 and not what her father was making it sound like. Using the words Gay & Lesbian content probably gave her mom a heart attack, because that definitely sounds like an X-rated description, and she wasn't using Netflix for porn, are they insane? Apparently, yes, they are.


She responded with several question marks and, “I have no idea what he's talking about.”


But “the evidence is there, you can't lie to us,” and, “we'll have to discuss this in person when you get home.” And Trini felt like her entire world was falling apart. There was nothing she could do to fix it, no explanation, and it wasn't even for something she did. It's like someone planted gay stuff on her account, but that didn't make sense because she didn't have any friends at that school yet. Didn't talk to anyone. The only other people it could've been were her brothers, but they didn't have any idea that Trini was gay (or that she was pretty sure she might be), and they might be annoying sometimes, but they wouldn't do that.


She tried texting back, asking about what he found and if they could tell her something more specific because she didn't know what was going on. But they stopped replying.


She gave up on paying attention in her next class because all she could think about was that. Netflix somehow outed her. Like, what the fuck Netflix? That's so not cool? And she was still trying to think of what it could've been. If she could figure it out, maybe she could come up with an explanation before getting home. And if not… All she could think of was them sitting her down and saying, “We understand that you're confused. But there's a place you can go, and they'll get these thoughts out of your head. You'll be back to normal in no time.”


That almost made her have a panic attack again. Actually it wasn't almost--she had to lock herself in the bathroom for an entire class just so she could keep breathing and stop crying.


Her mom responded some time after that, and when she saw the screenshot from her father, she was both angry and relieved.


He was literally looking at the Gay & Lesbian section. It was the category that exists on any normal Netflix page.


Thank god it wasn't something that actually meant anything, but, man, did she feel like an idiot for worrying so much.


Everything cooled down after she explained that to them. They apologized for jumping to conclusions and thinking she was lying, but there were a couple of comments that really stuck with her.

Thank goodness, I was worried there for a minute.”


“We know you're smarter than that.”


“We're sorry we accused you of something like this.”


It's like they had made her take a drug test and the results came back negative. Except much worse. Because if they had made her take a gay test, they wouldn't have been so happy with the results. They still wouldn't be happy with them now.


She's currently terrified and hoping that this isn't some sort of trigger that'll send her into another panic attack. That'd really suck. Especially since this isn't just a misunderstanding, and keeping your cool and standing your ground isn't really possible when you're crying and can't breath. It might be a bit harder to talk her way out of this one.

 

---

 

Kimberly stares at her bandaged hand, closing it into a fist and then opening it back up to spread her fingers out. It still feels sore. She’s pretty sure she can get through the next couple of days without her parents noticing that she’s keeping it wrapped up, but if they somehow do , she has no idea how to explain it. Maybe she’ll just say she fell in the middle of a hike and scratched it up. That could work. It worked for her phone--the same thing could happen to her hand.

Jason and Billy have been sitting in the room with her for the past few minutes, waiting patiently for her to be ready to talk. When Zack walks in to join them, she decides she’s put it off long enough. So she sighs, lets her hand fall back to her side, and looks at the three of them.

“She went home,” Zack says first, crossing his arms over his chest.

They all nod.

That’s one less thing they need to worry about.

“Are you okay, Kim?” Jason asks, and this time he’s gentle about it. He realized that his earlier, “What the hell, Kim?” might’ve been a bit too intense.

She nods. “Yeah. I’m fine. Just a little confused.”

“What exactly happened?”

She tries to fill them in the best she can, but as she repeats it to herself, she only gets more confused.

“So, you need to talk to her,” Jason says.

“Well, yeah. Obviously. I’m just not sure what I need to say.”

Zack shrugs. “It sounds to me like you need to tell her those feelings aren’t one-sided.”

Sure, she could do that. But it felt like the conversation was more than that. There’s some miscommunication going on in their relationship, but she’s pretty sure it goes beyond, “Hey, I like you, but I’m too afraid to admit my feelings out loud.” So she shakes her head and averts her attention to the ground. “I don’t know, Z.”

“Oh, come on. Don’t tell me you still don’t think she likes you.”

Kimberly shakes her head again. “It’s not that. She has a lot going on outside of that, you know? I don’t know if that’s what she needs right now.”

“Well, even if you tell her that you feel the same way about each other, that doesn’t mean you have to change anything right away. If you just acknowledge what’s there, it might ease the tension and make things less awkward between you,” Billy says. “You can take your time to figure out how you want to handle your relationship. Jason and I were talking about something similar yester--”

“Exactly,” Jason says quickly, cutting Billy off. “Billy’s right. You just need to talk. As soon as she’s ready to listen, you two can figure things out. As long as you’re on the same page, it should work itself out.”

Okay... That was… odd. Kimberly glances at Zack, and he’s looking at her with a raised eyebrow. So they both noticed that. Weird.

“Yeah, I guess that’s true,” Kim says, nodding slowly. “But how do I know when she’ll be ready to talk?”

“I think she’ll let you know.”

Zack doesn’t seem to agree with that. “T’s stubborn, though. She’ll probably be an ice queen for a couple of days, and then pretend nothing was ever wrong. She won’t tell you , you’ll just know.”

“Why don’t you just ask her to let you know when she’s ready?” Billy asks.

“I can try , but I don’t know if she’ll answer me.” She’s pretty sure Trini will be actively trying to avoid her. Through phone, at school, during training. Everywhere. Maybe she should try to keep her distance, too. This whole thing might blow over quicker that way. Hopefully.

“Well,” Jason says, moving towards the door. “We’ll have to find out tomorrow. Are you going to be good until then?”

She could use the alone time to think this through some more. Not that that’ll really help, but it might. Being alone with her thoughts is always a gamble. “Yeah. I’ll be fine.”

 

---

 

Is there something you want to tell us?

Is this their way of asking Trini to come out to them? Because, first of all, fuck that . And second of all… What? She isn’t sure if she’s more shocked that this is happening, or terrified of what might come of it. Of all the possibilities of her being outed to her family--whether by herself accidentally, or by someone else--she never would’ve thought her school would be what finally sealed her fate.

“Uh… I may have been a little vague about how I got detention…?”

Her parents barely react. They just keep staring at her.

She ducks her head to stare at her feet. No, there is absolutely nothing she wants to tell them. “Um…”

“Trini,” her father says calmly. It feels like a trap. “Were these people targeting you? Or is it just your… friend?”

The way he says the word friend doesn’t make her feel any better, either.

“I don’t know. Probably both of us. They’d be going after me because we’re sharing a locker, but…” She doesn’t know how to word that without throwing herself or Kimberly under the bus. So when she trails off, she gives up on finding a way to continue.

“So the things on the locker are… directed at both of you?”

Well, that is kind of exactly what she just said. This is a whole new level of them not listening to her. Because they’re listening , but only for what they don’t want to hear . They’re only waiting for her to tell them that she’s gay, and after that she’s pretty sure all hell will break loose. “Yeah, I guess.”

“Is there any truth to them?” Her mother asks.

Seriously? They seriously want to make her say it ? Right, ‘cause if they skirt around it and never actually say the words, they can just ignore it. Of course. “Which part?”

Her father sighs, but her mother is definitely fed up with how avoidant she’s being. Whatever. She’ll just have to deal with it. “Trini, you know what we’re asking you.”

She does.

“Are you…” The difficulty that her mother is having with this question is evident, so she knows she isn’t going to like whatever comes out of her mouth next. “ Dating this girl?”

She almost wants to make a comment about how painful it looked for her to get through that, but she focusses on actually answering the question. Especially now that she can tell the truth and have it be what her parents want to hear. “No.”

She hates how relieved they look.

“Then why would these people write these things about you on that locker?”

“I don’t know,” Trini says, shaking her head. “That’s just… It’s what they do. They’re cheerleaders. When they put a target on someone, they take it seriously. We’re sharing a locker; it isn’t hard for them to come up with something like that if they want to screw with us.”

She can tell before they even say anything that they don’t believe her.

“Trini--”

“You want me to come out to you, right? That's what this whole thing is. I just don't get your thought process behind this. ‘Cause if that's something you're okay with, then maybe consider that if I wanted to tell you something like that, it wouldn't be under these circumstances. And if you aren't okay with it, why would I risk putting myself in that position? I can see how feel about this stuff just by how you’re standing there and staring at me. Why would I tell you something that you obviously aren’t okay with? Stop beating around the bush and get to the point. I'm exhausted and I want to go to bed.”

“These circumstances?” Her mother says, raising her eyebrows. “This isn’t how we would want to find out, either. From those words carved into your locker? You get tangled up with some troubled girl, and suddenly you’re being bullied? And if it isn’t true, then that’s worse.”

How could that possibly be worse? Jesus Christ, why are straight people like this? “What?”

“Our daughter’s name being tarnished for no reason other than because she’s aligned herself with another social outcast? A girl that’s done something to put a target on her back?” She says. “Yes, that’s worse .”

Okay, this is just ridiculous. She’s way too tired to keep dealing with this bullshit. “No. You know it’s more than that. I don’t even know why you’re asking me anymore; you know the answer. You’re always telling me to wear more feminine clothes because I dress like a lesbian.”

She wishes she could say she’s surprised to see them flinch at that word.

“And it isn’t just because you hate the style; it’s because you hate what it means about me. I hang out with guys all the time, and I only have one female friend. I stand up for her because she’s being bullied, and suddenly everyone thinks we’re a thing. To the few people who think I’m dating one of those guys , as soon as I say no and they're like my brothers , that’s it. I don’t have a choice. I was outed at school for no reason, because apparently I’m so gay , all I have to do is walk into a room to set off straight people’s gaydar. This isn't something I was parading around town; I didn't want to tell anyone . I’m sorry if I want to come out to my family on my own time, but I can’t even do that because I have nosy parents and that stupid locker. Actually, you know what? I'm not sorry. You don't get to be upset with me for not telling you about this. This isn't me just keeping a secret ; it isn't like finding weed hidden in my room, or me sneaking out to go to parties. If you find out that I might be getting harassed at school, your concern shouldn't be if what they're saying is true or not; you should be asking me if I'm okay. But you don't care. All you care about is what it's going to look like to other people. How are you going to explain to your friends, or coworkers, or the rest of our family, that your daughter doesn't have or want a boyfriend? Why is she so uncomfortable when we all pray before Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? Why does she change the subject every time we start talking about politics? It's because I'm gay, but you can't even say the word without it sounding like you hate me. I’m already dealing with that stuff at school; what makes you think I'd want to come home and get that from you guys, too?”

Well. Oops.

Her mother turns away from her, staring at the ground with a hand on her forehead. Her father is still looking at her, and he’s trying to keep it together, but it isn’t really working. Trini’s ready to leave and just get out of there , but she’s almost afraid to move because it might set them off. What they might do , she isn’t sure. But she doesn’t want to find out.

“You don’t have to lecture me. I already know how you feel about this stuff. Just… let me know if you want me out of here.” She’s up and heading towards the stairs, but her father calls out her name at the last minute.

“We just need time to process this,” he says.

She turns around and keeps moving until she gets to her room. They just need time . Sure.

Saying it’s been a tough day would be an understatement. It’s been tough--emotional--confusing--terrifying. It could be the last day that she still gets to call this place her home, because if her parents are thinking about everything that was just said? She wouldn't be surprised if they kicked her out. If she weren't so tired, she might take a break to just cry for a few minutes. And she should also probably shower. That's a great place to get away with crying in. If she really wanted to just lose it , saying she got soap in her eyes would be a good excuse as to why they'd look so red. But she's passed out in bed almost immediately after changing out of her clothes. She can shower in the morning.

 

She wakes up sometime after midnight.

There isn't anything too different about this nightmare. It's the same thing that always happens--she's trapped, powerless, hurt, or others are hurt. Even if it's the same, it doesn't make it any easier to experience. And after having such an emotionally draining day, this is just the icing on top. She's crying before she even realizes she's awake.

And she's just so angry--so tired of not being able to sleep, and having to deal with all of these feelings . Just wishes she could stop fucking crying . She tears the covers off of herself and jumps out of bed to start pacing.

She's freaking out.

The pacing doesn't calm her down at all, so the anger wins out over everything else. When she looks for something to punch, she stops at her makeshift shelves. The ones made of wood planks and cinder blocks. She punches one of the upper level cinder blocks.

More than once.

It hurts.

There's now a pile of broken concrete on her floor, and her hand is definitely bleeding, but she's feeling so numb--emotionally, physically, in every way, really--that she can't really feel her hand anymore. It probably isn't a good sign.

She doesn't care.

And her phone buzzes on her side table.

When she checks the caller ID, it's Kimberly's name and face on the screen. She lets it go to voicemail. But then it's ringing again, and she realizes that not answering will only make Kim worry, and she'll probably end up running down here in person. And that's not going to happen.

So she answers. And it's a little hard, but she tries to sound calm when she does it. “What?”

“Are you okay?”

Is she ever okay? “I'm fine.”

“I tried calling the guys because I didn't think you'd want to talk to me, but they weren't answering. And… you had a nightmare.”

“Yeah.”

There's a small stretch of silence. “It felt like--”

“Look, Kim,” Trini says, and she has to cut her off because she can't do this. “Thanks for checking on me. But… I can't talk to you right now.”

“Wait, Trini, I--”

She hangs up before she can second guess herself.

She wants to talk to Kimberly. Honestly, she does. But right now isn't the time. She needs her own space to calm down, and after what she told Kim earlier, she's pretty sure a little distance would probably be good for them.

 

---

 

Trini takes her time fixing up her hand before she tries going back to sleep, and she manages to get another couple of hours in. They aren't consecutive, but it's better than nothing.

She gets up earlier than she normally would the next morning. First, because she needs to shower, and second because she’d like to leave her house without having to interact with her parents. They had an entire night to talk--or to not talk and come to a quiet decision of what to do with her--and she doesn’t want to face whatever they have to say until after school. It’ll be easier to deal with then. So if they want to kick her out, they’ll have to wait.

She’s halfway to the school when she gets a text from her mother, asking her to be home right after class so they can talk. It isn’t really news for her--she knew they wouldn’t be ignoring this--but now she has written confirmation that it’s happening, and that makes it feel way more real.

It might be a little dumb, but she’s hoping that she’s early enough to get her stuff on her own . Kim knows her locker combination, so it isn’t like she really needs Trini to be there. But of course Kimberly would get there early, too, because she was probably expecting this to happen. She knows that Trini doesn’t want to talk, but that doesn’t mean they have to completely avoid each other all day. [It’s unnecessary and kind of impossible.] Trini already has her things out and is about to shut the door when Kimberly walks up.

“Hey.”

Trini pauses, then turns to her and nods, motioning at the still open locker.

Kimberly stares for a moment before realizing what she means and grabbing her things. She shoulders her bag again and stands there awkwardly while Trini closes and locks the door.

She had a plan for how to deal with this, she swears , but she just… doesn’t remember any of it anymore. And Trini’s turning around to leave, and Kim’s panicking, so she puts a hand on Trini’s arm to stop her.

“Hey, wait. I, uh… I get it if you need some space or time for yourself, but… when you’re ready, it’d be cool if we could talk. You don’t have to talk at all, but I have some stuff that I want--stuff that I need to say. So… Yeah. I’ll see you later.”

Trini was finally starting to feel a little relaxed, but that sentence just threw a wrench in any calm she might’ve had. She has stuff she needs to say? What the hell does that mean?

Lunch doesn’t go much better. They thought that having the guys there would make things less awkward, but it really doesn’t. If anything, it just makes them all more aware that something’s wrong. The guys can feel the tension. And they know they agreed that Trini should take her time with whatever she needs, but with them all sitting there staring , they really wish the two girls would just talk to each other . But it’s barely been a day. They can tough it out a little longer if they need to.

Zack’s having a hard time with it, though. “Haha… This isn’t awkward at all… We’re having a great time right now, guys…”

Billy looks up from his food, shaking his head. “I think it’s pretty awkward, Zack. Trini and Kimberly aren’t talking, and they’re sitting as far away from each other as they can get. Normally it’s the opposite of that; they always sit right next to each other, and sometimes they’ll talk about things just between the two of them like the three of us aren’t here.”

“I know, B. It was sarcasm,” Zack says. “Sorry.”

“Oh.”

Kimberly shifts uncomfortably in her seat. She’s trying not to look at Trini, but she’s pretty sure that actively trying not to do something only makes you want to do it more.

And Trini can’t really handle the tension. The guys trying to be sneaky when they glance at her, Kim failing miserably to not look at her, the strain in their conversation, how it feels like they’re all waiting for her to decide she’s good, or that she’s finally ready to talk to them and fix everything. If lunch weren’t almost over, she’d straight up leave. So it makes sense that she’s the first out of the lunchroom when it actually is over.

Jason grabs Kim before they all split up, hoping to get some sort of estimate of how long they'll have to endure this. “Please tell me you’re going to talk to her soon. This is ridiculous.”

“I asked if we could talk when she’s ready,” Kimberly says, shaking her head. “I’m not gonna push.”

He sighs, but he understands. “That’s probably for the best. I just hope she doesn’t need that much time. I have a bad feeling that something’s going to jump out and surprise us, and if that happens, we need to be a team .”

“Yeah, I know.”

 

---

 

Black and Yellow

[zenon: the zackuel | trini[ lightning emoji ]]

trini[ lightning ]: what happened to Kim’s hand?

zenon: the zackuel: um, i’ll tell ya, but only if u tell me what happened to UR hand first

trini[ lightning ]: um

trini[ lightning ]: did you name urself after the disney channel movie zenon: girl of the 21st century (1999)

zenon: the zackuel: no?? I named myself after the disney channel movie Zenon: the Zequel (2001), aka the SEQUEL

zenon: the zackuel: get w/ the program trin

trini[ lightning ]: sorry, my bad

trini[ lightning ]: I punched a block of concrete that I had in my room

zenon: the zackuel: oh, of course

zenon: the zackuel: as one normally does

zenon: the zackuel: ya girl punched a rock in the pit cause she dumb and impulsive

zenon: the zackuel: like u apparently

trini[ lightning ]: k thnx, that’s all i needed. Bye

zenon: the zackuel: u used me for information

zenon: the zackuel: i’m offended

zenon: the zackuel: w/e bye

 

---

It’s both a blessing and a curse that Trini’s parents want her home directly after school. On the plus side, she doesn’t have to go train or sit through two more hours of awkward staring. On the downside, she has to talk to her parents about how she sort of [not even sort of; she directly] came out to them last night.

Her mother is standing right inside the door when Trini walks in, and it surprises her so much, she's two seconds away from making a very big mistake. She doesn't know how she stops herself, but if her reflexes had fully kicked in, she probably would've knocked her mom out. Her mother doesn't notice anything wrong, so she starts telling Trini to take her time, do her homework or grab some food, and that she’ll be waiting in the living room so they can talk. That sends up several red flags.

Just the fact that she gets the choice to take her time and prepare herself is odd. Her mother being so calm when she speaks to her is… rare. And her father isn't here, which means this talk is going to take place without him. He was the one hope she had of this going well.

“We aren't going to wait? It's just us?”

Her mom nods. “Your father is going to be home late. But we talked this through, and we may have had some disagreements, but we agree that this is a conversation you and I need to have right now.”

Everything is telling her to take that offer--to go waste some time before putting herself through this--but it'll be stuck in the back of her mind until it actually happens. Might as well go ahead and get it over with. So she walks farther into the house, to the living room, and drops her backpack at her feet as she takes a seat on the couch.

“Okay, let's get it over with. Lay it on me.”

Her mother sighs, taking one of the chairs perpendicular to her. She already looks lost, and they haven’t even started talking yet. “When did this happen?”

Oh boy, already off to a great start. “When did I know?

“Sure.”

Trini shrugs. “I don’t know. Always? A few years ago? Hard to tell, ‘cause for some reason I had this idea in my head that I needed to hate myself for even considering to think that way. So it didn’t settle as soon as it could have.”

“Trini,” her mother says, now clearly annoyed. “I’m trying to--”

“I don’t think you’re trying. I think I know why you and Dad were arguing, and I know why you wanted to talk to me without him here. You can barely look at me right now; you aren’t being subtle.”

She sighs again, but she isn’t making any effort to deny it. Trini isn’t surprised.

“If you want me out of the house, let me know so I can start packing.”

“We are not kicking you out of the house,” she says. To put it lightly, she’s tense as hell. “We still… love you.”

Right, because that totally sounded like it was coming from someone who loves her and isn’t counting down the days for her to turn eighteen and get out of here.

“But…”

Of course there’s a but .

“You have to understand that we want what’s best for you. And this … If what was written on your locker happened to you just from some girls being petty, then what do you think would happen if you had it your way and… came out?”

Well, first of all, Mom , that isn’t her way. She didn’t want to come out to anyone but the Rangers, and even that was difficult. Second of all, she was already basically forced to come out. Anyone who might care enough to dog on her for it already knows. “That didn’t happen because I’m gay. It’s just something they latched onto to get under my skin. If it wasn’t that, then it would’ve been… Something racist. Or more general. Me being gay and what happened to my locker because of who I’m friends with are two totally different things that aren’t as related as you want them to be.”

She did not like that response. Trini isn’t entirely sure why. She could be saying way worse things; right now she’s only relaying what has actually happened.

“If this is a result of us not being more involved with your life…” She grabs the pillow from behind her in the chair, bringing it to her lap so she can have something to look at that isn’t her disappointment of a daughter.

Please don’t make her say, “It’s not a phase, Mom!” She’s never had to do it before, and she really doesn’t want to start now. Somehow it seems like saying that will have the opposite effect--that it’ll tell her mom that a phase is exactly what it is.

“If your father is gone too much, or we’re focussing too much on your brothers… If this is a cry for help or more attention…”

“It’d make things a whole lot easier on you, wouldn’t it?” Trini asks, and this time it’s relatively calm. Not passive aggressive or anything, and that isn’t something her mother is used to. But Trini knows she’s right. If that were what was happening, it’d give her parents something to fix and a way to fix it.

“This isn’t the life we wanted for you,” her mom says quietly.

But what does that even mean? What kind of life? Being gay, or being targeted because she’s gay? She’s pretty sure it’s the former. “The life you and Dad wanted, or just you? He wants you to be open minded about this, right? That was your disagreement? Did you even consider listening to him, or do I get my stubbornness from you?”

Her mother has her hands together, fingers against her forehead like she’s praying. She probably is. “If this is something you insist on… on following…”

“It isn’t an Instagram or a Twitter account, Mom. That’s not…” Trini says, but shakes her head. Her mom isn’t going to listen to her. “Nevermind.”

“I… I don’t know. I need to think about this some more.”

Fan-fucking-tastic.

“Can you just tell me one thing? Do you… If you aren’t dating that… that girl you’re sharing a locker with. Do you have a… girlfriend?”

Yeah, that looked pretty painful. “No.”

She doesn’t miss the huge breath of relief her mom lets out. “So that isn’t where you are all the time? You really are with friends?”

“Yes. When I say I’m with friends, I’m with friends .”

“Okay. Go… go do your homework. I need to pick up your brothers; we can finish this later.”

It seems pretty finished to Trini, but she figures that’s probably her mom’s way of saying, “I’m still not okay with this, but I don’t know what to say in this current moment.” So that’s great.

She might need to call one of the guys because she’s really tired, and the only way she can get an actual night of sleep would be with one of them near her. She wishes she hadn’t fucked everything up with Kim. If this were just another normal day, she could show up at her window without any sort of explanation, and Kimberly would let her in and help her get some sleep while keeping any questions she may have to a minimum.

 

---

 

Ranger Danger

[zenon: the zackuel | billyc | goldenboi | princess.hart | trini[ lightning emoji ]]

billyc: Trini, we’re here if you need to talk. It’s fine if you don’t want to, though. We’re here if you don’t want to talk, too.

trini[ lightning ]: thanks B

goldenboi: Are you upset abt something?

trini[ lightning ]: sometimes i hate our ranger connection thing

trini[ lightning ]: I’m fine

trini[ lightning ]: just sort of got forced into coming out to my parents, but w/e

princess.hart: What?

zenon: the zackuel: how did that happen????

trini[ lightning ]: well. The school finally decided to do smth abt the vandalization problem going on, so they called my parents up so i could tell them who i thought might’ve done it. Except i was training w/ u guys, so it was just them who went down to the school, and they saw what was on the locker and interrogated me when i got home, and i’m tired of lying so i just told them it was true

trini[ lightning ]: more or less

goldenboi: And they didn’t take it well?

trini[ lightning ]: no, not really. My dad’s taking it better than my mom, and they aren’t kicking me out, but I don’t see them buying a rainbow flag to hang outside the house anytime soon. I’ve gotten the whole “this is a phase, we don’t pay enough attention to you” speech, and my mom can’t really look me in the eye rn

trini[ lightning ]: we aren’t done talking abt it, but for now i’m ok

zenon: the zackuel: sorry t, that rlly sucks

goldenboi: You have a place to stay if it gets bad

trini[ lightning ]: thanks guys

trini[ lightning ]: i don’t really wanna talk about it anymore, though, so I’m gonna do some homework

zenon: the zackuel: gotcha buddy [ thumbs up emoji ]

goldenboi: [ sunglasses emoji ]

billyc: [ smiley emoji ]

 

---

 

The next morning goes almost exactly how Trini expects it to. Not much different than yesterday--she gets her things from her locker at the same time Kimberly does, but this time they stand in front of it and stare for a moment before either makes a move to open it. The graffiti is different today. Like they got the janitor to clean it all off last night, but someone managed to get to it again before anyone could notice.

They don't know when it could've been tampered with, but there isn't much of a window. It was most likely right before Trini and Kimberly got to school. Unless the cheerleaders had a weekday practice and got inside the school after the janitor made his rounds. They don't know, but they also don't care. Trini knew that cleaning it off wouldn't fix anything, so she isn't surprised.

Neither of them says anything about it out loud. They get their things and then separate for class, and Trini’s ready to space out until the day’s over. Until she gets a message in the group chat halfway through second period.

 

goldenboi: So… Kim just got suspended…

Chapter Text

Kimberly can’t stop thinking about how responsible she is for so much that’s been going wrong in Trini’s life recently. Her locker’s been vandalized with hate, she’s on a To-Be-Bullied hit list, and she was forced to come out to her parents. [And apparently Kimberly’s the reason that she’s so pissed off and distancing herself from everyone, but that’s something to address later when Trini will actually talk to her about it.] She knows there isn’t anything she can do to make up for it, and even if she tried, Trini would only reiterate that it wasn’t really her fault. Even though it was. Is . But she wants to do something . Just sitting around, waiting, and letting this happen is making her restless.

It doesn’t help that, as her first period class starts, there are a lot of people who just so happen to be using Trini and Kimberly’s locker as their subject of choice. They’re only joking around about it, and that sucks , but it could be worse.

And it gets worse. She jinxed herself.

The talk extends beyond just their locker, and to both Trini and Kimberly themselves. She isn’t worried about what they’re saying about her --she’s heard it all before--but what they’re saying about Trini is getting under her skin. Because they don’t even know her , and she isn’t around to defend herself, and Kim knows they’re only doing it to piss her off. Kimberly is clearly in view of them, and they see her tensing up as the conversation moves forward.

She’s really trying to ignore it. She just punched a wall and screwed up her hand; she needs to stop using violence to solve her problems.

They quiet down when class starts, and Kimberly's never been more grateful to have schoolwork to focus on.

But there's a guy that sits behind her--Brad? Chad? Todd? Some generic White Boy Jock name--that never seems to know how to shut up. When a teacher is out sick and someone insists on fucking with the substitute? Yeah, he's that guy. Sometimes he even likes to lean forward in his seat and whisper annoying comments to Kim, just because he can and he knows she can't do anything about it. Today isn't an exception. And given the previous mention of that locker and what it now displays, he's got new material.

What he's suggesting and explaining in detail to Kimberly doesn't surprise her--he's a straight white boy, Kim’s bi, and Trini’s a lesbian. So where his mind automatically went is pretty obvious. That doesn't make it any less gross, or Kim any less angry and uncomfortable. And she was already on edge, so messing with her even more is just stupid on his part.

She doesn't care about trying to ignore it anymore.

So she turns around in her chair to see the guy, and says in the calmest most innocent voice she can muster, “Hey, so did you hear about that time I punched Ty Fleming’s tooth out?”

He leans back just a fraction and nods. “Duh. Everyone did. Heard they put it back, too.”

Nice to know that phrase stuck. She smiles. “Cool. Then you should feel pretty lucky that you aren't losing any teeth. Right?”

“What?”

He doesn't have much time to react before Kimberly is reaching a hand out to the back of his head and then slamming it forward into his desk. He's crying out, his hands going up to his face, and she might see some blood. It's possible that she broke his nose. (She seriously made an effort to hold back with her strength, but that doesn't mean she didn't want it to hurt .)

So much for not using violence to solve her problems.

Jesus fucking Christ! What the hell?!” It's muffled because he's covering his face.

Some similar things are being called out by a few people in the classroom, everyone surprised, half of them scared, the other half amused. The teacher stares on in shock and confusion, and yells, “ Kimberly! ” But that's all he does. He probably doesn't know what else to do.

She doesn't pay much attention to them; instead focuses on grabbing her bag, slinging it over a shoulder, and standing up to leave the room. “I'll take myself to the principal's office.”

She probably isn't supposed to be going alone to turn herself in, but everyone looked so surprised, she doesn't see any of them enforcing that policy any time soon.

That was a really stupid thing to do. It did feel kind of good, and she managed to do some damage without really needing her semi-injured hand, but it was stupid. She already has detention every Saturday--throwing this in isn't going to work in her favor. So… suspension. Probably. Or worse.

God, that wasn't enough to get her expelled was it? No…

Was it?

She makes a detour down to Trini’s locker instead of going straight to the office, and pauses to reread the new graffiti a couple of times. She doesn't need to unlock it first, but she does anyway. Grabs both of their things and throws what she can into her bag. Then she rips the door off.

Trini doesn't need a locker, either.

When she walks into the office, the secretary and two TAs stop what they’re doing entirely to look at her.

“I need to speak with Principal Feig.”

Needless to say, they don’t make her wait long.

She tries to explain everything right off the bat--telling them that she knows they washed the locker off, but it was targeted again, and it won’t stop. If this is what she has to do to stop it, this is what she has to do. Then she pulls the couple of Trini’s books from her bag and sets them on the principal’s desk, asking if he can make sure she gets them.

The principal and one of the other administrators are still mostly shocked. Because now they have to order another locker replacement, and this isn’t even the girl they thought that had to worry about. If there were any sort of professional way to say, “What the fuck?” that’s the exact emotion they’d be displaying.

“Also, I might’ve broken a guy’s nose in class fifteen minutes ago.”

At least Kimberly’s making their day a little more interesting, right?

 

---

 

Ranger Danger

[zenon: the zackuel | billyc | goldenboi | princess.hart | trini[ lightning emoji ]]

goldenboi: So… Kim just got suspended…

zenon: the zackuel: um what?? how??

trini[ lightning ]: I just saw her before 1st period, and she seemed fine. What could she have possibly done between then and now?

goldenboi: She explained it all to me while she was waiting for her parents to pick her up… so, apparently some guy in her first period class was being obnoxious and making suggestive comments abt him and her and T, bc everyone was talking about what was written on that locker, so she slammed his face into his desk and broke his nose. She left to turn herself in to the principal, but stopped to rip the door off Trini's locker

zenon: the zackuel: holy shit!!!

billyc: Doesn't that count as escalating a fight? I thought we agreed it was a bad idea to utilize our strength with civilians

goldenboi: Yeah, B. I don't know what she's thinking rn.

zenon: the zackuel: I might have to start calling k crazy girl instead of u, t, cause that's some next level stuff

trini[ lightning ]: that was stupid

trini[ lightning ]: and unnecessary

goldenboi: I don't think she saw it that way. She didn't seem regretful when she texted me

trini[ lightning ]: that's cause she's reckless and impulsive and on an adrenaline high

billyc: I thought they were getting the janitor to clean your locker, Trini. Did that not happen, or did Kim decide to rip the door off anyway?

trini[ lightning ]: they did clean it, but it didn't stay that way for very long. It was covered in marker and stuff probably almost immediately after it got washed down

zenon: the zackuel: sounds like Kim just wanted to return the favor

goldenboi: At least she didn't throw it into a classroom like someone else we know

goldenboi: Also, Kim wanted me to tell Trini “You don't need a locker, either” Idk if that means smth to u, or if it was a general statement

trini[ lightning ]: god, why is she so extra

trini[ lightning ]: yeah, I get what she means. Thanks j

zenon: the zackuel: why didn't she just text this to all of us, tho???

goldenboi: I think she didn't want to get overwhelmed by everyone responding at once

zenon: the zackuel: ok, but what does that mean, boss man?? Is she still gonna have her phone later or are her parents confiscating it

goldenboi: I'm not sure. I guess we'll find out later.

billyc: I really hope they don't take her phone. Assuming that she's grounded as well, between that and not being allowed on campus until her suspension is up, we won't be able to see or talk to her for days

zenon: the zackuel: uh, yeah. i hope so too, b 

 

---

 

Trini finds herself leaving her third period class and taking the route to her locker by reflex. She only barely remembers that she no longer has a locker before she reaches the new random hole in the wall. By that point she just finds herself staring at it.

It's weird. But also kind of… nice?

She isn't sure how to explain it.

“That's hardcore.”

She hears a voice coming from behind her, and turns around to someone she doesn't know. It's a girl she's seen before--probably with Amanda or Harper; most likely a cheerleader. The comment was directed at her.

“We didn't think you'd actually tear it off again.”

Trini glances back at the hole in the wall for a moment before turning around again. “Right. Because I obviously broke the door off, got rid of it, and came back to the scene of the crime just for fun.”

The girl stares at her, eyebrows drawn together.

Trini sighs. “I'm gonna give you a minute to think that one over.”

Slowly , it dawns on her what must've happened. If she--for some reason--knows that Kim’s been missing almost all day, or heard that she broke a guy's nose , figuring the rest out isn't that hard. “You mean you didn't do that?”

She shakes her head.

“Holy shit. Oh my god; that's so much better,” she says as she walks away with her face glued to her phone.

Great. She should've just kept her mouth shut. It isn't like no one was ever going to find out that Kimberly “pulled a Trini” with this locker, but she feels bad about kind of being the reason for the information to spread so soon so fast. At least Kim doesn't have to be around to experience any immediate backlash.

Even though Trini knows she needs to get to class, she's stuck standing in the middle of that hallway thinking about how she does need a locker. It isn't a weight problem--their superhero strength prevents that from happening--but it's a lot . Books for almost every class, folders, binders, mandatory notecards, posters for projects, and whatever else they might need. It isn't exactly stuff they can just carry with them everywhere. She could see if she can start using Zack’s. He spends more time out of school than in it, and keeps all of his books and materials at home in an effort to teach himself on his own time. Maybe one of them could share with Jason. But he seems like he'd be a little haphazard; with random papers just thrown around and sticking out of random places. Even if there's space, it might not be worth it to try out. Billy, however, would be the opposite. He keeps his locker just the way he likes it; knows exactly how to find what he's looking for. On the inside of the door he keeps a taped up schedule for his classes, a couple of charts, and a row of sticky notes to keep track of when assignments are due. It's got order, and it's what he's used to, and there's room for a book or two to be thrown in, but they don't need to disrupt what he's already comfortable with.

Actually, now that Trini’s thinking about it, where the hell are her Bio and History books? ‘Cause if Kim left them and some kid stole them--it happens more often than it should. Someone loses their already issued textbook, will have to pay for a whole new one, but gets out of it by turning in someone else's as if it's their own--she's going to owe her, like, a hundred and sixty dollars and (non Krispy Kreme) doughnuts every morning for the rest of the year. And a coffee every now and then for the emotional toll this is definitely taking on her.

She's distraught over this, honestly.

[Sarcasm fully intended.]

And it seems like texting Kimberly to find out won't actually result in anything. Either she doesn't have access to a phone anymore, she's ignoring any messages she's getting, or she's still sitting through a lecture with her parents.

If she explains the locker situation to her teachers, they'll understand, right? They're gonna have to, because she doesn't know what else she could do.

 

---

 

“So if Kim’s grounded, are we still having band practice? Or training for the rest of the week? Because if she's grounded for the duration of her suspension, she won’t be back in school until Monday. But if she’s grounded for longer than that, we might need to figure out a way she can sneak out,” Billy says as he and Trini join the other two outside of the school. They kind of went over what was going on in their group chat, but some clarification is definitely necessary. All they really discussed was how it didn’t make sense that Kimberly was allowed to keep her phone, but still grounded and “trusted” to not go anywhere during the next few days because her parents would be at work all day. She’s stuck at home, but they won’t really have a way to know if she stays under that roof or not.

Her parents are home with her right now, so she can’t get away with sneaking out, but according to Kimberly, she’s pretty sure they’ll back off by tomorrow.

Jason shakes his head. He’s been thinking about this all day, trying to decide on what call to make. What would be the smart thing to do. Because lately things have been… chaotic to say the least. They could all use a whole month of a break, but that isn’t something they can realistically get away with. “No. I… You know what? Whatever. Just take the whole week off; why the hell not? We all need to get our acts together because this is not working. I’ll just… I’ll tell Zordon and Alpha that it’ll be trickier for us to get down there this week, and that we’ll still do our own form of exercising up here on the surface. Alright?”

More time to herself without the others badgering her to talk to them? That’s perfectly alright for Trini. She spins around to walk away and calls over her shoulder, “Works for me.”

“Hey, T. Keep your phone by you. Just in case?” Zack says, and when Trini looks back she’s slightly surprised by the concern on his face. Jason’s right. They’re all messed up. They all need to get their acts together.

She nods, and then turns back to make her way home.

“So, what do you guys think?” She hears Zack ask the other two as she walks away. “Krispy Kreme date for the three of us?”

“Zack, the Krispy Kreme hasn’t been rebuilt yet. Didn’t we already talk about this?” Billy says.

The last thing she can hear from them is Zack saying, “Then just doughnuts. Come on. Don’t leave me hanging.”

Even if Trini’s about to go sulk, she’s glad that her friends can find a way to have fun despite everything else going on.

Since she isn’t ready to face whatever’s waiting for her at home again, she goes down to the mines and finds herself on her cliff. Her part of the mountains that she’d always go to to calm down and block the rest of the world out. It’s been awhile since she’s been down here. At least, without the other Rangers around.

She sits on the edge of the rock for a while, just listening to music instead of jumping into any yoga. At one point she closes her eyes and lets the death metal take over--as odd as that sounds--focussing on taking deep breaths and feeling the wind blow by. It’s easier to think about stuff when she doesn’t feel other people pressuring her into it.

She doesn’t realize that she’s been there for so long until the sun is starting to go down, and by that point she’s both sore from not moving, and somehow less eager to get home than before.

As much as she wants to, there's no way she can get away with staying out all night. But she could make one stop; drop by Kimberly's window to hear what went down right from the source.

She shouldn't.

Should she?

No. It's a bad idea. They still need to have a different conversation--one Trini isn't currently ready for--and it's very possible that Kimberly doesn't want to see her anyway. Trini wouldn't blame her. She's been closed off and pretty stubborn with how much she's saying versus what people are asking .

Trini just needs to go home.

 

---

 

Kimberly doesn’t try reaching out to Trini over the next couple of days. She messages the guys to ask if she’s alright, and sometimes the group chat because she knows it’s something Trini will most likely see, but she never messages her directly. Without training or their pre-planned group hangouts, though, there isn’t much that happens that’s worth talking about. As far as school goes, the guys tell her that Trini isn’t ignoring them, but she also isn’t making much of an effort to talk to them. So, nothing has changed. Everything seems fine and manageable and “Maybe in a couple more days Trini will be ready to talk,” but apparently that’s too much to ask for. Because when Kimberly comes back to school on Monday, Trini’s “out sick”.

“Is it even possible for us to get sick?” Kimberly asks.

Billy shrugs. “We haven’t tested it yet, so unless Trini’s actually sick, we won’t know for sure. But, I don’t know how we would test it…”

“Did she look sick on Friday?”

The guys all look at each other, and Jason says, “Not really.”

The only thing they heard from Trini over the weekend were a couple of throwaway comments that she only sent to ensure them she was okay, with her family, just doing her own thing.

Kimberly sighs, running a hand through her hair. It isn’t like she expected to come back with everything normal again, but she didn’t think that Trini would be that opposed to just being in the same room as her . “She’s avoiding me.”

Zack nods. “Yeah, probably.”

“Seriously? How long is she going to keep this up?”

“I don’t know,” Jason says, shaking his head. “But if you two don’t figure out something soon, I’ll have to step in and use my important leader voice . We’re supposed to be a team and that isn’t what we are right now.”

Well… yeah, okay, that’s a problem, too. But Kimberly’s more focussed on the friendship thing than the team of superheroes thing.

Trini skips class on Tuesday, too.

That’s pretty annoying, but she hasn’t been answering her phone, so it’s also worrying. They don’t think anything is wrong, but the possibility is there. In reality, though, she’s probably ignoring them, or a condition of missing class was that she can’t be on her phone (Trini may have mentioned that she isn’t allowed to watch TV on sick days because her mother believes, “If you’re well enough to watch television without throwing up, you’re well enough to go to school.” Not having her phone sort of makes sense with that logic.), or she is just that sick and can’t make herself do anything but lie in bed.

Kimberly spends a half an hour after school debating with herself on if she should stop by Trini’s house. A very big part of her is shouting, “No! Bad idea!” but there’s also that small part that’s saying, “But she isn’t answering her phone, and would it really hurt to at least check on her?” Eventually she decides that it probably is a bad idea, but that she’s gonna do it anyway.

That’s kind of her life motto.

As soon as she’s knocking on Trini’s front door she realizes that it might’ve been a good idea to text her that she was coming by. She might not’ve answered, but the chances of her seeing the message and not being caught off guard would have increased.

She hears a bit of a commotion. Some kids voices, footsteps that are quickly moving closer to her, and then what sounds like the door knob moving slightly. That’s interrupted by--who she assumes is--Trini’s mom yelling, “How many times have I told you not to answer the door on your own?”

One of the kids responds with something that sounds like, “We aren’t on our own; we’re with each other.”

There’s another reply from Trini’s mother that’s inaudible, then a pause, and the door swings open. And she stands there with a neutral expression, but Kim’s still kind of intimidated.

Kimberly tries her best to look… normal? Not like a hooligan? Just, presentable, at least.

“Can I help you?”

She tries not to stammer through her response. “Um, yeah. Hi. I’m a friend of Trini’s from school. We have Bio together, and I know she’s missed the past couple of days, so I was just bringing by a study guide that got handed out.”

Oh, god. What if Trini’s mother didn’t know that she was skipping class, and Kim’s out here just completely ratting her out?

Of course she’d do something, by accident , to further complicate Trini’s life.

“It isn’t mandatory,” Kim continues. She should give an explanation, right? “But if she fills it out and hands it in on the day of the test, she’ll get extra credit. I didn’t know if she’d want to do it or not, because she does pretty well in that class, but in case she didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity…” She holds the papers up.

June looks down at the study guide for a moment before holding her hands out and taking it from her.

She probably should’ve assumed that there’d be no chance of her actually seeing Trini.

“Who am I telling her stopped by?”

“Oh, um…” Should she lie? She would definitely recognize her name and make the connections, but lying would only lead to more consequences down the road. Trini would have no idea what her mom would be talking about, and if Kimberly--for some reason--ever needed to stop by again, that lie would very quickly fall apart. “Kimberly…”

“Kimberly,” June repeats, and she gets this look on her face. Like she already kind of knew , but now she knows for sure and is ready to analyze her. “Hart?”

If it’s possible, she’s even less sure of herself now. “Uh… Yeah?”

“Mm…” Yep. She’s definitely doing that whole looking her up and down, and very obviously judging her thing. But it could probably be worse, right? “Okay. Thank you. I’ll make sure she gets this.”

Then the door is starting to close, and Kim is panicking, and she isn't really sure why, but at the last second she calls out, “Is she okay?”

June pauses, slightly surprised, but she tries not to show it.

“We’ve been texting her, and she isn’t answering her phone. We just want to make sure she’s alright.” Kimberly barely catches herself when she goes to say I instead of we . That probably wouldn’t have looked good.

June notices the we , but she’s still… suspicious. Something feels off to her. “She has a cold. She should be back tomorrow.”

“Oh, uh… Okay. Thanks.”

And the door closes.

So, that could’ve gone worse.

Kimberly considers climbing up to Trini’s window, but ultimately decides that would be way too stupid, even for her. She should just be happy that she’s leaving with answers. Or, just one answer.

 

---

 

Trini leans back against the wall as she watches her mother close the front door. She turns around, sees Trini standing there, and with an almost bored expression, hands her the papers and says, “Did you get all of that?”

That’s a dumb question. Trini was already halfway down the stairs when her mom walked by, saw where she was going, and went straight to answer the door instead of letting her anywhere near it. And that makes sense. She’s supposed to be sick; not randomly answering the door when they don’t even know who’s there. She isn’t even sure why she wanted to see who it was. There was just this… feeling that she had. A feeling that she needed to go downstairs before there was even a knock . It’s probably just another Ranger thing. Something that the others heard about before that movie night. They had jumped right into training after Billy, Jason, and Kimberly got back, and she completely forgot to ask about what they discussed, so she’s a little out of the loop on that end.

But, the point is, Kimberly just dropped by her house and met her mother, and Trini heard the entire conversation between the two. Not that it was too much of a conversation , but she did hear it.

She’s really thankful that Kimberly kept her cool and didn’t make anything worse.

“Yeah, I got it,” she says, taking the study guide and kicking off of the wall to head back upstairs.

“Trini?” her mother calls out before she gets too far away. She braces herself for some comment about Kim, or “her friends,” or… she isn’t entirely sure. But she’s ready for it. “Make sure you do that study guide.”

That isn’t what her mother was going to say. Trini can tell. But she isn’t going to complain. “Sure.”

She doesn’t know what her next move needs to be. If she should reach out to the other Rangers, or… Take the rest of the day to make sure she’s ready to talk?

Fuck it. She can’t keep running from this. It’s getting more exhausting than actually talking about her feelings, and she misses her friends, and she misses Kim .

She pulls her phone out so she can’t change her mind and back out later.

 

Pink Lemonade

[princess.hart | trini]

trini: we can talk after school tmrw

trini: thnx for coming by

princess.hart: Ok. And, yeah, no problem

princess.hart: Are you actually sick?

trini: no

 

Kimberly doesn’t know how to respond to that, so she just… doesn’t.

 

---

 

School the next day goes… okay. It’s odd because they both know they’re going to talk later, and they want things to go back to normal, but they still haven’t talked. They can’t even have a casual conversation without it feeling awkward.

When class is finally over and Trini’s ready for that mind-numbing awkwardness to go away, she is not-so pleasantly surprised to find herself sitting in the passenger seat of Kim’s unmoving car, enduring even more awkwardness. They don’t know what they’re doing, and neither of them are offering up solutions, so they’re stuck in the school parking lot. They aren’t even really speaking at all for the first ten minutes. It’s terrible.

“So, uh…” Kimberly breaks the silence. “Where do we want to do this?”

Trini takes a deep breath and shakes her head. “I don’t know. Not around the guys. My place is too risky. So… I guess your house or the cliffs.”

“My house it is, then. Just in case the weather suddenly gets bad or the guys accidentally end up around the mines.”

Well, she can’t exactly drag it out any more than that. “Okay, sure. Don’t see why not.”

It’s a little ridiculous, but they don’t say anything more for the whole duration of the drive. Kimberly’s just trying to think of what she wants to say, and Trini’s staring out the window-- not looking at Kim --and coming up with all of the different scenarios of how this could go horribly wrong. So if the worst thing actually happens, at least she’ll be prepared for it.

They finally address what they’ve been waiting for once they reach Kimberly’s room.

She hovers for a moment, not entirely sure of where she should be, but settles for sitting on her bed. “So, um… Am I talking first?”

Trini shrugs, taking a seat in Kim’s desk chair. “I mean, you said you wanted to… So…”

“Right. Yeah. I just wanted to make sure.” So she’s already off to a great start. So much for planning out what she wanted to say. “I’m sorry that I’ve been kind of dumb lately.”

Trini tilts her head a bit and nods. “Hm. Yeah.”

“I... Wait. What?”

“I'm agreeing with you. You got yourself suspended, Kim. That’s pretty dumb.”

Okay, that’s true, but also not what she meant. “Whatever. You did the same thing for me and got yourself detention.”

“That… Is not the point.” Trini sits up straighter in her seat. “Also, I didn’t break a guy’s nose by smashing his head into a desk. Like, seriously , Kim?"

“I did it for the same reason you did. And that guy was being a dick. If he had been saying that stuff to you , I’m pretty sure you’d have done the same thing.”

“Sure.” Trini shakes her head and crosses her arms. She also considers kicking the floor to spin herself around--because she has zero impulse control when she’s sitting in a chair with a rotating seat--but doesn’t because Kim might think she isn’t taking this seriously. “What do you mean, ‘you did it for the same reason as me’ ?”

Kimberly stares at her like the answer is obvious. “Come on, T. It’s my fault you had to come out to your parents. You don’t need that locker there as a reminder.”

Trini shakes her head again. “You’re so dumb.”

At least they can agree on something.

“Yeah. But, back to my point,” Kim says. “We’ve done some stupid things for each other, and I’ve never thanked you for any of it. You’ve had my back for… longer than I’ve deserved. So… Thank you.”

Trini’s about to respond, but Kim shakes her head and tells her to “Hold on for a second.”

“You were right. About there being something between us.”

“I was?” Trini asks, and she doesn’t even try to hide the confusion or disbelief on her face. But then she sits up again and nods with fake confidence. “I mean… I was .”

She’s such a fucking dork.

Kimberly might be a tiny bit in love with her.

“Yeah. It goes both ways.”

“It does?” There’s that confusion again. And also a bit of shock. “I mean… It does ?”

“Yes.”

Okay. Trini can totally keep her cool. This is fine. Kimberly Hart is into her. No big deal.

She’s doing a terrible job at convincing herself that this isn’t a big deal, but she’s at least (externally) calm enough to reply without completely flipping out. “So… what does that mean?”

“I don’t know. It means… We should stop ignoring this ,” Kim says, motioning in between the two of them.

“Okay, I can do that…” She’s still a little unsure of herself.

It suddenly feels like they’re the actual embodiment of that Kermit the Frog and Christian Bale gif, because all they’re really doing is nodding at each other in silence. The longer they sit there, the harder it seems to be for one of them to say something.

“We need to start talking to each other,” Kimberly suddenly says.

And, well… duh. Way to state the obvious. “Uh… yeah, I know.”

“No, I mean--” Kimberly shakes her head. “Not right now ; I mean in general. Whatever our relationship is, if we’re just friends or more than that or whatever , we can’t close ourselves off from each other. That doesn’t work for anyone. I could feel how uncomfortable the guys were. And that’s not an exaggeration--I was literally feeling it when we were together at lunch.”

Trini sighs. “I know. That's my fault.”

“Listen, I know that sometimes you’re going to need time for yourself. We all do, and it’s fine and healthy . But the way you were going about it… I don’t know. Maybe I’m being a selfish bitch, but I think you messed up somewhere.”

She nods, slowly processing all of that. “No, you're right. I’ll talk to you. All of you. Or… I’ll try .”

“Okay. And… We aren’t going to pressure you to talk about everything . Just don’t pretend like nothing’s bothering you or let it build up.”

Trini does spin in the chair this time, but that’s mostly because they’ve hit another roadblock. These awkward silences are… Sometimes bearable. This one isn’t too bad. But it still isn’t preferable.

“Okay, so… I know things are kind of… You know… Out in the open and everything. But this still feels awkward, and I don’t know how to fix it.”

Kimberly nods, glancing around the room for some sort of topic that could… break the ice? Something to push them into the motions again. Her eyes land on Trini’s beanie that’s lying on her desk. “You know, when I brought that study guide by your house, I almost grabbed your beanie, too. But since your mom answered the door, I’m so glad I didn’t.”

Trini stops spinning, sitting up with wide eyes. “Uh, yeah… me too. My mom already barely believed me when I told her we weren’t dating. If you had shown up and did that? Jesus.”

“Your mom thinks we’re dating?” They kind of are, though, aren’t they?

She nods. “The locker thing.”

Oh . Right.”

When she realizes that she misjudged their ability to talk about that, she pushes herself off of the bed and takes a few steps across the room towards Trini. And Trini might be a little frozen, because why is Kimberly walking over here? Randomly? Without saying anything. Whatever it is, Trini doesn't think she'd be too opposed to it.

Kim grabs the yellow beanie--that Trini somehow never noticed--as soon as it's in her reach, and then spins around to jump back in her spot.

Oh. It was the-- She wasn’t-- She wanted the hat . Yeah, that isn't exactly what she was expecting.

Trini may be a tad disappointed.

As Kimberly sits cross legged and turns the beanie over in her hands, Trini’s mind catches up with what she’s seeing.

“Oh, so you’re still not giving it back?”

Kim shrugs. “I’m thinking about it.”

She probably should’ve seen that coming.

“I don’t know,” Kim continues. “I kind of like it. I think I’ll keep holding onto it.” She smirks as she pulls the beanie on over her head.

Trini shakes her head. Kimberly has no business looking that good in her beanie. “I hate you.”

Kim rolls her eyes and says a bit reluctantly, “I’ll give it back.”

“No, I hate you because it looks good on you,” Trini says. “Fuck off; that’s my thing. Do you ever not look good?”

“Mm… No.” Kim shakes her head as she pretends to think it over. “Even after cutting my own hair with dull scissors in a dimly lit bathroom, I got some wolf whistles walking back into the detention room.”

“Of course you did.” She smiles. “You really are a princess, aren’t you?”

“Maybe. Is that a bad thing?”

Is that a bad thing? What kind of a question is that? “No. Not when it’s you that I’m talking about.”

Kimberly smiles and ducks her head for a moment. Maybe she’s blushing.

“Okay, so are we actually going to talk about this , or are we just letting it be again?” Trini asks, and Kimberly looks back up.

“I don’t know. I’m kind of… scared to acknowledge it,” she says, shrugging. “I mean… we can just… let whatever happens, happen. We don’t have to jump into any labels right now.”

Trini nods slowly. That’ll have to work for now. “Less pressure… I’m cool with that.”

She doesn’t realize that she’s staring until Kimberly raises her eyebrows and points at her head. “You want this back?”

“Yeah, but…” But it looks good on her? Like, way better than it ever looks on Trini. “I’m conflicted.”

Kimberly’s about to just take it off and throw it at her, but something makes her pause. “Do you feel that?”

“What?”

“I don’t know. It’s… something.”

Trini glances around the room, but nothing changes or stands out to her. “Oh, well thanks, Kim. That really clears it up.”

“No, it’s just… I don’t know how to explain it.”

Okay…

Trini’s phone buzzing catches both of their attention.

“Oh. It’s, uh… It’s my mom. She wants me to get home.”

Kimberly almost stands, but stops herself. “Everything alright?”

Trini shrugs as she stands up, grabbing her backpack off of the floor and slinging it onto her shoulder. “Yeah. It’s just…Her texts are usually a normal amount of annoyed, but sometimes they’re… She’s… I don’t need to test her patience today.”

“Alright. I’ll text you.”

“Yeah, you better.”

Kimberly smiles. “Slow down there, tiger.”

Trini pauses. “Really? A tiger joke?”

She doesn't know if it was supposed to reference their school mascot, or Trini's Zord, but either way...

“Shut up. You love it.”

She does. But she’d never admit that.

"Wait. What about your hat?"

"Oh." Trini watches as Kim has a hand halfway up as if she's ready to pull the beanie off. "You should hold onto it for me. It looks better on you."

 

---

 

Ranger Danger

[zenon: the zackuel | billyc | goldenboi | princess.hart | trini]

goldenboi: Hey, guys. So don’t freak out, but there were some Putties down by the edge of town

princess.hart: What?

goldenboi: Yeah, we took care of them, though. So just a heads up. We would’ve called you two, but there were only a few so it didn’t take long.

 

Trini goes completely still as she reads over the texts. More Putties? In town? But they… Rita’s gone. She’s in space. She’s gone . What is going on?

She barely notices her phone buzzing again.

 

princess.hart: Calm down, T. We don’t know if it means anything.

zenon: the zackuel: you good crazy girl??

billyc: Do you need someone right now, Trini?

trini: no, I think I need space. But thanks

goldenboi: Ok, just let us know

 

Deep breaths. She’s gone. She’s not coming back. Trini’s going to be okay.

A knock at her door snaps her out of it, and she turns to see her brothers lingering in the doorway. She takes one more deep breath before sitting up and saying, “Hey, guys. What’s up?”

They walk in and jump onto the end of the bed, opposite Trini.

“You okay, T?” Jackson asks.

Trini nods. “Yeah. What’re you up to?”

“Avoiding Mom.”

She sighs. “What is she doing now?”

“Nothing,” Dante says. “She’s just in one of those moods.”

“Sorry. That’s probably my fault.”

They give her a questioning look, and she debates on whether or not she should actually tell them everything.

“You know things have been tense.”

Jackson nods. “Duh. But, like, why?”

“I like girls and they don’t know how to take it.”

They look at each other, and when they turn back Dante says, “So?”

“We thought they already knew.”

Trini stares at them. Her brothers knew? How did they… What? “Are you telling me you two knew?”

Jackson rolls his eyes and nods. “Yeah, it’s really obvious. You’re always texting that girl. We know you’re in love .”

What?

“You get a really dumb smile on your face when you’re texting sometimes, so we went spy mode and saw you were texting some girl.”

“We never see you smile like that anywhere else.”

“Yeah, it’s a different kind of smile.”

Trini’s still confused, but she just shakes her head at them. “Damn, guys.”

“Yeah.” Jackson smiles. “We’re that good. Not to brag.”

“So when are you bringing your girlfriend over?”

How did she end up in this situation? Is she really just that into texting Kimberly sometimes that her brothers can sneak up on her without her noticing? Apparently she is. “She’s not my girlfriend.”

She isn't. Even if that's what Trini wants her to be, they aren't doing labels right now. They're just... going with the flow.

“We want to meet her,” Jackson says.

“Is she pretty?”

“We’re your brothers. We’re supposed to stare her down and tell her not to hurt you. Or else we’ll beat her up.”

As interesting as that would be to see… “She’s not my girlfriend, and you both know I’d never let you do that. No way.”

“Come on , T.” He draws out the second word.

“Listen,” Trini says. “I don’t know if she’ll ever come over. But if she does, you two better behave. Which means not calling her my girlfriend, or bothering her with a million questions.”

“Never,” Dante says simply, and Jackson shoves his shoulder a bit.

“She won’t bring her over if say that, dude.”

Trini watches them go back and forth for a few more moments, and then they get called down for dinner. Her brothers… they’re a handful sometimes. But she loves them. And they’re on her side.

 

---

 

Pink Lemonade

[princess.hart | trini]

princess.hart: Hey!

trini: what are you so excited about?

princess.hart: Texting you

trini: ugh. That’s so sappy

princess.hart: I haven’t had a real text conversation with you in a week, and before that we were texting, like, daily

princess.hart: MORE than daily

princess.hart: So, yeah, I’ve missed it.

trini: yeah

princess.hart: You should leave your window unlocked tonight

trini: ...damn Kim

princess.hart: Oh my god, no

princess.hart: That’s not what I meant

princess.hart: Unless you’re into it [ winky face ]

princess.hart: No, I just mean that if you’re trying to sleep tonight, and you can’t or you keep waking up, you shouldn’t have to keep running across town to break into my room when you’re the one having nightmares. I can break into your room this time if you need me to.

trini: alright

trini: but if you do that, make sure you’re quiet. I don’t want my parents or my brothers to find u in here, in my bed

princess.hart: Don’t worry abt it, T. I’ll be super discreet

trini: ok…

princess.hart: What, you don’t believe me?

trini: I believe that you think you’ll be discreet. I’m not so sure if you’re right or not

princess.hart: Listen, if I fuck up, I’ll either hide under your bed or jump out the window. You won’t get caught w/ me there

trini: ok. But if you’re somehow wrong, I’ll be pissed

princess.hart: That’s understandable. But for right now, just trust me

Chapter Text

Ranger Danger

[zenon: the zackuel | billyc | goldenboi | princess.hart | trini]

zenon: the zackuel: oh my god, guys

zenon: the zackuel: do you think we could hook big z up to our phones??

trini: pls tell me u aren’t calling zordon “big z”

zenon: the zackuel: i’m lil z

zenon: the zackuel: he’s big z. Father z. Daddy z

princess.hart: Please never type that or say that again. I can’t believe you made me read that w/ my own two eyes

trini: dude, you can’t say both of those words like they mean the same thing

zenon: the zackuel: daddy z

billyc: Does this mean you’re going to start calling Zordon, “Daddy Z” when you address him now?

princess.hart: I’m seriously going to break my phone again so I don’t have to deal w/ this anymore

trini: Billy no!!! Why would you ask that!!

zenon: the zackuel: ya know what? I may be into it,,, i’m open to the idea

 

zenon: the zackuel changed their name to lil z

 

goldenboi: I don’t respond for ten minutes, and this is what I come back to?

princess.hart: Can we talk about smth else???

billyc: Zack, did you mean connecting him to our phones to where we could message him without going down to the ship?

lil z: yes

billyc: That might be possible. If it is, it would also be very convenient.

trini: zordon being a call away? Getting bored and going through our phone contents via wifi or bluetooth or w/e??

trini: pass

lil z: zordon, now available through the cloud

lil z: it’d be hilarious trying to explain how it all works tho, am i right??

goldenboi: How about we not risk anything big rn, and keep the ranger stuff underground until we have our lives together

princess.hart: ^^Yes. We don't need to create more stress for ourselves

billyc: Okay, but I'll look into it to see how it might work. If we change our minds later, we’ll have some information on it.

lil z: sounds good, billy blue

trini: actually, while we're on the subject, can you guys fill me in on the info Zordon gave u abt our ranger bond thing?

goldenboi: Are u sure we didn't already tell u?

trini: yeah… I'm pretty sure

trini: i’d remember that convo, bro

lil z: ...awk

trini: what?

trini: wait, r u saying u guys told ZACK but FORGOT to tell me??? Seriously?

billyc: Well, I was supposed to tell Zack. Who was supposed to tell Trini?

trini: yeah, WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO TELL TRINI?

princess.hart: It was Jason

goldenboi: No, Kim, it was not. If I recall correctly, when we were leaving the grid, I asked when we should relay to the others. Billy said he could give Zack all the info that next morning on the way to detention, and YOU said “I've got Trini covered”

princess.hart: I did not

goldenboi: It sounds like smth you would say. How do you remember that going down?

princess.hart: I remember u saying we could fill them in later, so I assumed you meant at the same time. All of us. Together.

goldenboi: ????????

goldenboi: Kimberly pls tell me you're joking

princess.hart: No, I'm not joking

trini: bigger question, why DIDN'T u tell us at the same time?

goldenboi: It seemed more convenient the other way

trini: we were literally all together from that point, through the night, and to midday Saturday. Please explain how telling us separately would've been more convenient

princess.hart: ^^ Exactly. I have logic on my side.

goldenboi: I didn't make that up, Kim. You just chose to forget it

billyc: How about we stop arguing, and go ahead and start telling Trini what happened?

trini: sounds good to me

princess.hart: I think ur making stuff up, J. But w/e. Continue w the explanation.

billyc: Jason just turned his phone on DND

lil z: that's fine, i gotcha, t

trini: ...great. thanks

lil z: aight, so, BASICALLY big z said it was hard to explain in human terminology, and he assumed we already knew how it worked bc w/ his team they all “felt it” immediately and understood it

lil z: smth like that. But billy started asking q’s, and he was low key right about a few. So, it’s a bunch of stuff happening at once. 1) distance does matter, 2) ppl who feel certain emotions are more likely to experience them when others do // aka, if i’m feelin chill, billy prob is also Or, throwback to the other day when kimmy punched a wall of rock, and later u decided to wreck some fuckin concrete w/ ur hand. that had some time between it, i know, but still

lil z: 3) how close u are to someone relationship-wise means the bond will be stronger between u, 4) also it’s sometimes random

trini: so there isn’t really an explanation? Wouldn’t that make it mostly just random??

billyc: That’s what we asked, and Zordon responded by saying, “Humans…” in a disappointed tone, and added, “No, it does make sense. Were you not listening?”

trini: that’s confusing…

princess.hart: Oh, but one of the best parts was when he said “The connection will grow and become stronger as the 5 of you bond with your more human customs” And when we asked what exactly would get stronger, he said “Many different aspects” Like???

lil z: ok, but b said alpha cleared it all up, tho

billyc: Exactly! He said we have a sense of knowing when other Rangers are close by, kind of like when our coins vibrate, except it’s in our heads. We have a heightened sense for danger. The other day Jason said he felt like something bad was going to happen, and then the Putties attacked yesterday. Sometimes we can feel each other's emotions. It’s more common/likely if one of us is in distress, or if the emotion we’re experiencing is very strong. And the last thing he said was that we’d grow to be more in sync and in tune to each other.

trini: intense

trini: and confusing

trini: but thanks for finally letting me know

lil z: sure thing, little t, we got u

trini: in light of recent events (and new nicknames) i’m gonna need u to stop calling me that

princess.hart: Big Z, Lil Z, Little T… We don’t have another T, so the specification is unnecessary

lil z: i didn’t think we were going w/ big z, but ok. Am i just supposed to call u t, then?

trini: yes

billyc: What are our nicknames?

princess.hart: Apart from just initials, Jason’s is Jace, and yours is Billy Blue

billyc: Cool! What about you, Kim? Unless Kim is your nickname, because I know we alternate with calling you Kim and Kimberly

lil z: nah, it’s kimmy

trini: princess

billyc: Wow, you guys responded at exactly the same time. Down to the second. Maybe you’re already more in sync w/ each other like Zordon and Alpha 5 said

trini: yikes

princess.hart: I mean, I’m cool with any of those nicknames. Kimmy sort of reminds me of cheer, but my parents call me that too sometimes, so it’s fine.

trini: i gtg guys. Seeya later

billyc: Bye Trini!

lil z: peace, t

princess.hart: Omg, have you guys ever tried Peace Tea?

billyc: No. Is it good?

trini: is that smth all ur preppy friends would get before cheer practice?

princess.hart: No.

princess.hart: We got them after practice.

trini: oh my god

trini: i’m leaving, i’ll have to come back to this convo later

princess.hart: Byeee. Also, Billy, yeah I think it’s pretty great

lil z: i petition for u to get us all peace teas on our way to detention sat

princess.hart: I could, but they come in pretty big cans, so I’d be better off just getting, like, two to share. Some people think they’re an acquired taste…

princess.hart: I’ll match up colors. Pink Lemonade/Tea for me and Trini, and the three of you can get Imported Ceylon Tea

lil z: imported… ceylon?? Bruh this sounds so pretentious

princess.hart: First, we may have gotten them from the “healthy section” of a coffee shop, but u can literally buy them from a gas station, Second, that’s the only flavor that has red/blue/black on the can

billyc: It’s okay, Kim, I’m excited to try it!

princess.hart: Thanks, B

princess.hart: Also, Zack, this was basically your idea, so

lil z: by accident

princess.hart: ...still

 

---

 

Trini didn’t exactly get a good night’s sleep, but she managed through Wednesday night without needing to call any of the other Rangers. Thursday night is a different story. It rains that night. Storms, actually. There aren’t any leaks in the house, so she doesn’t feel the water, but her room is upstairs so she can hear it at a pretty high volume. But every drop that hits the roof makes a thud that she might as well be able to feel because she flinches like it is hitting her. The wind is so loud , but it doesn’t matter when it’s drowned out by every crack of thunder. And the lightning… She has a new hatred for it. Because she’s never been scared of it before, doesn’t have a reason to be scared of it now, but every single time there’s a flash that illuminates her room she jumps. It’s more annoying than it is scary. So she lies on her stomach, pulling a pillow over her head to muffle the noise and hopefully get some sleep. Even if it’s bad sleep, it’d be better than sitting through this all night.

She was wrong. She does fall asleep, but she’s woken up only a couple hours later. From the storm, or the nightmare, she isn’t sure how it happened, but her focus isn’t on specifics right now. Whatever it was pushed her into a panic attack.

There are methods she can use to get through this, but those are absolutely no help because she doesn’t have a mind clear enough to remember what they are. She’s supposed to count her breaths? Or there’s a breathing technique? Maybe it doesn’t involve that at all, and she’s just supposed to… think of watermelon? No, that’s for sneezing. Pink elephants? Or is that for hiccups? Does she need to stay stationary or start moving around? Go downstairs and hope the living room won’t be as terror inducing?

She’s lost. She’s terrified. She can’t breath. And she’s crying.

Just a few of her favorite moods and activities.

What sucks is that she doesn’t remember the nightmare, but she’s still getting clips of it. Like a highlight reel, but only of the worst parts. Lightning flashes, she closes her eyes as a reflex, and suddenly she’s seeing green eyes, or long nails, or gold and fire and death and--

Trini isn’t sure which one she hates more, the thunder or the lightning. Both make her jump. Both are fucking annoying. But, when they happen almost simultaneously, she realizes that she probably hates them the same amount.

The storm isn’t letting up, and neither is the panic attack, and both have been going on for what feels like a half hour. It doesn’t get easier, but she gets used to it.

Could she ask someone for help? Probably.

The one problem with that is she doesn’t know where she left her phone, and isn’t in a good enough state to try looking for it.

It’s might be best for her to wait it out. It could last all night, but at some point it will end. Even if her ability to breath gets worse and she has to pass out for everything to regulate, it won’t last forever.

That’s at least what she’s trying to tell herself.

She feels like she might actually pass out when she hears three light knocks coming from her window. It’s windy enough that it could just be some fly away branches, or random debris, or something, right? Something that isn’t here to attack her, or… whatever.

But if someone (or something) were going to attack her, they probably wouldn't knock first.

It’s dark and there might be a rough outline or a shadow coming from the window, and then it’s swinging open and there’s a figure there, and she didn’t know it was possible for her body to feel more panicked, but here she is proving herself wrong.

When that figure stumbles onto Trini’s desk and mutters, “Fuck,” she doesn’t have to wait for them to shut the window back and gracefully continue to stumble off of the desk to realize that it’s Kimberly.

Honestly, that should’ve been her first guess.

Kim straightens up, holds a hand out towards the desk and says, “I’m keeping my promise about not waking anyone up, but I honestly think you might’ve been sabotaging me with that thing.”

She’d find it funny if this were any other situation.

It takes a few more seconds for Kim’s eyes to adjust, but once they do, she notices how terrified Trini looks. So she moves closer to the bed, but doesn’t get close enough to touch it because she’s kind of soaked from the rain. “I tried calling; I wasn’t trying to scare you.”

Just a few more seconds go by before Kim leans down and against the bed--because fuck it, it’ll just have to get a little damp--to get eye level with Trini. She begins to put more emphasis on the breaths she’s taking, and says, “Hey, just breathe with me. Focus on me.”

It takes way too long for her to finally calm down. And when she does, everything hurts. Her chest, her throat, her head, and the entire rest of her body just because she’s so tired.

“Do you wanna lay down now?”

Yes . Trini nods, and then pushes herself back to do so.

But Kimberly stands and hovers awkwardly, trying to decide what she should do. Stay? Leave? Just chill at the desk? Leaving doesn’t seem like a good idea right now, so that desk chair is probably her best bet.

“What are you doing?” Trini asks. She’s lying on her side now, staring at Kim who can’t seem to make a decision. About what, Trini isn’t sure.

“I don’t know. I’m--” wet, is what she was going to say. But thank god she stops herself, because that’s not a road she accidentally wants to go down just yet. “It wouldn’t be very comfortable if I got on your bed. I ran here in the middle of a thunderstorm.”

Well, that can be easily fixed. Trini opens her mouth to respond, but Kim cuts her off.

“Sleeping here is risky enough; I’m not going to add only in my underwear to that.”

Trini nods, and then waits another moment to say, “Just borrow something from my closet.”

The realization that spreads across Kimberly’s face is almost humorous. “ Oh. Right. That… that does make sense. Give me a minute.”

She just puts on a large T Shirt and some shorts, so it happens quickly enough that Kim’s sliding onto the bed before Trini can even process that she changed. And Trini’s so tired and ready to get some rest, that she doesn’t think twice about moving closer to her like they’ve done with their previous sleeping arrangements. But once she gets close enough that she can almost be considered lying on top of Kim, she remembers why she had to change in the first place.

“Dude. Your hair is wet.” It's a little less than comfortable, since the side of her face and head are lying on a damp pillowcase, shirt, or hair--it depends on how much she shifts around--but as long as she doesn't have water dripping onto her forehead she should be good.

“Is it? Sorry. Do you want me to go find a hair dryer or something?”

Trini knows she should've been expecting sarcasm, but, to be fair, she can barely remember what day it is. She sighs. “No. I'll get over it.”

She does get over it. After finally settling in the exact place she wants to be, it feels like her whole body falls asleep.(Her whole body, excluding her mind.) There's literally nothing that could make her move from this spot right now. Zord crashes through the ceiling? Oh, well. It's gonna have to wait ‘til morning.

Kimberly is just as comfortable, lying down in sort-of dry clothes, in bed, with her arms semi wrapped around Trini. She could easily fall asleep like this, but she can feel that Trini’s still awake, so she makes herself focus on that instead of drifting off and abandoning her. She'll stay up until sunrise if she has to.

“I missed this.” It's muffled because Trini has turned into her side more and buried her face above Kim’s shoulder, close to her neck, but clear enough that Kim can understand what she's saying.

She assumes that Trini means sharing a bed, and she wholeheartedly agrees. “Yeah, me too.”

There are times that Kimberly can’t get to sleep on her own, either. Last Saturday when Trini was still keeping her distance from everyone, Kim tried going to Jason’s just so she could be around someone. But he wasn’t there. She was close to going to Billy’s because she was almost positive both him and Jason were there, but didn’t want to just barge in or interrupt anything. So she turned around to head towards Zack’s.

She got a text from him halfway there, and after an explanation of why Zack could feel her emotions [and also know that they were coming from her ], he met her back at her house. They talked more in depth about why they were both awake in the middle of the night for an hour, and then fell asleep next to each other on Kimberly’s bed.

It isn’t nightmares that give her the trouble--it’s being alone.

Zack’s terrified of going to sleep because he doesn’t know what he’ll wake up to.

“Kim,” Trini whispers, and Kim wonders how long she’s been spacing out for. “I can’t sleep.”

“You’re exhausted, Trini. I can feel--”

She shakes her head a bit. “I can’t sleep.”

Every time she closes her eyes… She can’t risk another nightmare like that. Not tonight.

Kimberly sighs. “What do I need to do?”

“Nothing. I just… I don’t know why I said anything. If you can get some sleep, then you should. Don’t let me hold you back.”

“No way. I ran across town to be here for you. I was asleep earlier; I’ve got enough energy right now.”

This time Trini sighs. She isn’t sure what she should be asking for. But, if she’s going to be awake, she might as well get something to focus on that isn’t related to her nightmares. “Talk to me? About… anything?”

“Alright...” She pauses. “I had my first therapy session today.”

So, to be honest, yes she was keeping it a secret on purpose. However , she wasn’t going to keep it that way forever. Just this first time. She’d just mention it casually to the group. Like, sometime in the next week she’d say something about going to therapy after training on Thursday, and then just leave like it’s no big deal. Even if they’re encouraging her, she’d like for this to be something she deals with on her own for a while.

Trini tries to lift her head up to look at Kim, but falls back down almost immediately. She doesn’t have the energy for anything beyond talking right now. “Seriously? Why didn’t you tell us?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t want you guys asking about it, or trying to give me advice, or… support. I wanted to get through the first one on my own.”

“So how’d it go?”

“Well…” she trails off, unsure how to explain it. “It didn’t. Nothing happened. She tried asking a few questions, but said I didn’t have to say anything if I was uncomfortable. So we sat in silence for an hour, and then I left.”

“Damn. I get that.” The difference for her is that when she directly ignores her parents for an hour, it doesn’t end in her leaving and them getting paid for doing nothing. “Are you going to talk next time?”

Kimberly almost shrugs, but can’t do it successfully with Trini lying on one of her shoulders. “Maybe.”

A maybe is probably better than nothing.

Kim doesn’t think she could make it through another hour of just staring at the clock on the wall, anyway.

“What else?”

Why can’t she come up with something funny (or just happy ) to talk about? Everything that’s coming to Kim’s mind is such a downer . Like… It’s time to retire the Hot Topic merch for an hour or two. Things don’t have to be so dark all the time. “I don’t need to bring the mood down any more.”

“No. Talk to me. If you aren’t going to talk to the chick who gets paid for it, you might as well go ahead and spill while I’m half out of it… I need something to focus on.”

Well, if she’s going to insist .

“My parents are talking about putting me on antidepressants.”

So apparently her mind wasn’t listening to that, “Thinks don’t have to be so dark all the time,” pep talk she just gave herself.

“You sound really not into that idea,” Trini says. “They aren’t that bad.”

“I don’t know. Admitting that something’s wrong feels… weird. And they have all those side effects, and there’s so many different kinds, and some won’t even work. I just… I don’t know.” But , if there’s one idea she’s holding onto, it’s that confirming that something’s wrong means she isn’t making it all up. And that’s kind of reassuring.

Trini attempts to nod. “Yeah, but they’re supposed to help. And the side effects aren’t that bad; it just depends on what kind you get.”

Okay, she sounds a little… more informed than Kimberly would’ve guessed. “You sound like you know what you’re talking about…”

“Well, yeah. I’m on ‘em.”

“Wait. What?” That seems like something she should’ve noticed or catched onto. Or one of the other Rangers should have. With the amount of time they spend together, she doesn’t remember ever seeing Trini take anything, mention taking something, or even vaguely allude to it. She’s only a little confused.

“Yeah. Antidepressants. For, like, a year and a half now. They aren’t only used for depression…” Trini trails off instead of outright cutting herself off. She doesn’t know if she should clarify or continue with her explanation. “Um… But, yeah. The worst side effect I had was a decrease in appetite, but that isn’t really common across most… types. That got my mom really paranoid, though. I lost, like, ten pounds over the first few months and she thought I had just stopped eating altogether.”

“But… When do you take them?”

“Night,” Trini says. “It isn’t hard to hide it. I’d apologize for not saying anything, but… I mean, I’m not really sorry about it.”

Kim tries to shake her head again. “No, I get it. You don’t owe us anything.”

“My point is… is your therapist a therapist or a psychiatrist ?”

Kimberly doesn’t see the relevance in that question, but they are both pretty tired, so she’ll answer it anyway. “I don’t know. What’s the difference?”

It’s really a simple explanation, but Trini isn’t sure if she’s awake enough to actually explain it properly. The whole who’s qualified to prescribe medication thing. “If she’s… Nevermind. Just… If you do get prescribed something, it won’t be the end of the world.”

“Yeah. Okay.” Kimberly’s trying to believe that. To repeat it to herself a few times and get used to thinking it.

It won’t be the end of the world.

It’s supposed to help.

She’s ready to change the subject.

“Also,” she says. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me that you have a desk in front of your window?”

“Uh, I don’t know. It didn’t seem necessary.”

“It didn’t seem necessary ?” Kim repeats. “I almost vaulted over it and knocked everything you own over. I could’ve really hurt those plants.”

Trini admits--to herself; definitely not out loud--that she should’ve warned Kimberly about the desk. Her climbing through the window could have ended way worse than it actually did.

“You want me to fail, don’t you?”

“Yeah, that’s exactly it.”

Kimberly leaves a good minute of silence between them before finally saying, “I knew it.”

 

---

 

They do eventually fall asleep. Even if the amount of rest they get is minimal, it’s something, and it’ll have to be enough to get them through the school day.

Trini wakes up to the sensation of someone lightly shaking her by the shoulder, and voices almost chanting for her to, “Get up, get up, get up, get up.” Not one voice; two.

Right. It’s Friday, she has to get up for school, and her brothers are trying to wake her up.

She’s ready to fall right back to sleep, though, so maybe she can get away with skipping another day of--

Wait.

She isn’t in bed alone.

She can still feel Kimberly.

And they didn’t exactly separate or end up on opposite sides of the bed in the middle of the night, so her likelihood of getting out of this situation safely is slowly diminishing. She didn’t set an alarm. But she remembers telling Kim to make sure they had an alarm before they fell asleep. Just in case.

If she set it, it didn’t work.

“That’s her, yeah?” One of her brothers asks. She can’t focus enough to know which one it is. “The girl you’re always texting?”

“Is she pretty? I can’t tell. T’s in the way,” the other one says.

She doesn’t feel so tired anymore.

Fuck. ” Trini sits up, eyes wide, and turns to Kimberly to get her up too. “Kim, you gotta get up. Like, now.”

“Swear jar.”

Trini turns to her brothers then, and holds her hands out to try and signal for them to slow down and stop. “Please, please , don’t say anything to Mom about this. Or Dad, either. But especially Mom.”

Jackson tries looking around her at Kim again. “How did she even get in here?”

Kimberly is slowly starting to wake up now, but when she hears a voice that isn’t Trini’s , she kind of jolts up in a panic. Then she begins to look down at herself and feel around the sheets for her phone because it's time to fucking run . Her phone and last night's clothes aren't essential , but if she can grab them and go , that'd be great. She mumbles, almost to herself but loud enough for the others to hear, “I thought I set an alarm?”

Trini thought she set an alarm, too.

“The one time I actually have my sound off. Of course.” She still can’t find it.

Jackson turns back to Trini. “We won’t tell them, T. You have our backs all the time, so we’ve got yours.”

“But you owe us,” Dante adds.

At this point, Trini’s ready to give them whatever they ask for. This isn’t a situation she’s willing to play around with. Her brothers telling their mother that they found some girl in Trini’s bed with her on a random Friday morning? Absolutely not. There’s no talking herself out of that one. “Fine. I owe you--”

They both turn their attention back to Kimberly.

“So what’s your name?”

“Did you climb in through the window?”

“Do you do this a lot?”

“Are you Trini’s girlfriend?

“Duh. Why else would she sneak in? If they were friends, she wouldn’t sneak in to spend the night. And they were cuddling.”

“You can cuddle with people without dating them, doofus .”

“Dante. It’s Trini .”

“Good point…”

“Did you say her name was Kim?”

This isn't helping with Trini’s inability to calm down at all. She needs everyone out of her room, and the entire day to herself so she can sleep. Actually, scratch that; Kim can stay. “Yes. Leave Kim alone. She has to go.”

Kimberly is almost falling off of the bed, still looking for her phone. How could she have already lost it? She’s only been there for a few hours, and has been in, like, three spots in the entire room. It shouldn’t be that far. “Trini, where’s my phone?”

“Why would I know?”

“Because it’s your room.”

That doesn’t make any sense, whatsoever. “But it’s your phone.”

Kimberly doesn't care about what makes sense. She cares about finding her phone and getting out of here before anything worse can happen.

All four of them hear the footsteps coming up the stairs at the same time. Dante and Jackson look at each other, and Trini shoots a look at the equally as panicked Kim to get her to hide . She drops and rolls under the bed at the last minute.

The door swings open after what was supposed to be a knock [it only lasted a second, and barely made much of a noise] and their mom stands in the doorway.

What is going on up here?”

That's a good question. Trini isn't even entirely sure if she knows the answer to it.

What caught their mother’s attention had to have been Jackson and Dante jumping around the room and doing nothing to lower their voices.

“We’re trying to get T up.”

“My alarm didn’t go off,” Trini adds.

Their mother stares for a moment, not entirely sure she believes them. There isn’t any reason she shouldn’t , but it’s one of those parental feelings. “Okay, well… Make sure you get up. You don’t need to miss anymore school.”

“Right.”

“Make sure you boys are ready, too.”

The boys almost simultaneously say, “Ugh. We know .”

“And Trini, please grab something to eat before you leave. Stop skipping breakfast.”

Trini nods, and the three of them watch for the door to close. They wait until the sound of footsteps have fully descended the stairs.

Kimberly slowly lifts herself up, her knees still on the floor and her arms resting on the bed. “Whoa.”

When Trini turns back to look at her, she sees that Kim’s phone is now in her hand. It must’ve fallen onto the floor some time in the middle of the night. She has a lot that she wants to say to Kimberly--about last night, about this morning, about a lot of things--but that isn’t something she can comfortably do around her brothers. “Uh… Thanks for coming over.”

“Don’t mention it. Seriously.” Kimberly smiles, turning back to the floor to gather up her clothes and shoes. She glances up a couple of times to look at the boys. “Um… It was nice to meet you guys.”

“But we didn’t meet,” Jackson says, and Dante nods.

“We found you in our sister’s bed, and now you’re leaving through the window. You don’t even know our names .”

Kim goes a bit red at the first part of that, but shakes her head. “Your sister mentions you enough for me to know your names. But if you don’t believe me, I guess I’ll just have to come by again later and actually introduce myself.”

They’re both really into that idea.

“You don’t have to do that,” Trini says.

Kimberly shakes her head again, now with all of her things in her hands. “Shut up.”

“Yeah, I like her. She’s cool,” Dante whispers to Jackson, but it isn’t much of an actual whisper. It’s still pretty audible.

Jackson tilts his head to the side once Kimberly starts to climb onto Trini’s desk. “T, are those your clothes?”

Kimberly freezes for a whole second, and then quickly says, “Uh. I’ll see you guys later. Bye,” before she’s out of the window, leaving Trini and her brothers by themselves.

“It was raining last night. She was borrowing pajamas.”

“She walked here in the rain?” Dante asks. “Is that what it’s like to have a girlfriend? ‘Cause if it is, I don’t want one unless she’s walking through the rain for me . I don’t like rain.”

“Why is anyone walking through the rain? What’s the point?” Jackson asks, and Trini’s completely lost in the conversation.

“I don’t know. To prove she loves me? That’s probably why Kim did it for T.”

“Speaking of,” Trini says, grabbing both of their attention. “How did you guys not know her name if you saw me texting her all the time?”

The boys looks at each other, and Jackson says, “We just high-fived when we realized it was a girl. Remembering her name wasn’t a part of the plan.”

That doesn’t make much sense to her, but she could just be tired. Trini throws the blanket to the side and pushes herself off of the bed. There’s one more thing she needs to clear up with them. “She’s not my girlfriend.”

“She told you to shut up, and you didn’t even care.”

Trini pauses. “I don't think she's my girlfriend. Yet.”

“She didn't say she wasn't when we asked earlier.”

That's true. But Kim was half asleep, a little distracted, and in a rush. It's possible she didn't even hear them. “She's… I'm… it's complicated.”

It isn't supposed to be. They wanted to keep things from getting stressful--not labeling it was supposed to be less pressure. But it's barely been two days and all that's done is confuse Trini even more.

 

---

 

Ranger Danger

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | princess.hart | trini]

goldenboi: Is someone embarrassed? And also a little scared or panicked or smth?

princess.hart: Yeah, that was me. Sorry. I'm good now.

trini: thought it was me, tbh

trini: guess it was both of us

princess.hart: Probably. I thought it felt kind of intense. Does this stuff amplify when two of us are feeling the same thing?

goldenboi: I don't know, but I think that would make sense.

lil z: ^^someone gonna ask WHY they're both flipping out??

princess.hart: Trini’s brothers caught us in bed together

lil z: whAT

goldenboi: Whoa

trini: no

trini: that's not what she meant

trini: Jesus, Kim, u need to work on how u word things when u text ppl

princess.hart: Sorry. I slept over at Trini’s, my alarm didn't go off, and her brothers found us in her bed SLEEPING and fully clothed

princess.hart: Do you rlly think I'd say smth like that so casually in our group chat??

lil z: nO that's why I was shook

goldenboi: Okay, so moving on from that. I think given the resurgence in Putty activity we should put any official band stuff or potential personal issues on the back burner and schedule some more uniform training sessions. After class we should ask Zordon if it means anything.

trini: potential personal issues

trini: u can call me out by name dude, I get it

lil z: sounds a+ boss man

princess.hart: Where is Billy??

lil z: he doesn’t usually check his phone once he starts getting dressed and stuff. he’ll prob respond when he gets to class

princess.hart: K, cool. Continue.

goldenboi: We should also mention that energy that we’re feeling.

princess.hart: Wait, you guys are feeling that too?

trini: what? What are you feeling?

lil z: it’s like a low buzz.. Like vibrating.. It just feels like DANGER

trini: why am i out of the loop

goldenboi: I don’t know. These things work differently for each of us sometimes. After class we’ll have training, and then talk to wall dad. Sound good?

princess.hart: I can’t call him that anymore. Zack ruined it for me.

lil z: ur welcome

princess.hart: But, yeah, that sounds fine.

 

lil z changed the group name to Kimberly is No Fun

 

princess.hart: I’m fun

lil z: that’s very convincing

 

princess.hart changed the group name to Zack is Overreacting

 

lil z: excuse you

 

princess.hart changed the group name to Zack is Overreacting (And Also A Loser)

 

lil z: real mature, kimberly ann, real mature…

princess.hart: Oh, we’re talking about being mature now?

goldenboi: Guys. Chill out.

 

trini changed the group name to Rainbow Rangers

 

trini: you’re both children

princess.hart: Aw, that name’s cute.

lil z: i approve of this change

lil z: go gO RAINBOW RANGERS

 

---

 

Luckily, Zack handed his empty locker over to girls without much convincing. The only downside to that is how careful they’ll have to be when they use it. Trini doesn’t think she’ll be able to make it very long--she gives herself a week before she gives up. If they’re going to go after a third locker, she’ll learn to live with it. By this point there isn’t much more that it could do except be occasionally annoying.

Kimberly is kind of on the same page as Trini, but she’s already pretty pissed that it’s gotten this far. After they leave the area that Zack’s locker is in, she tells Trini, “You know what? I’m just gonna go to all of my teachers and ask if I can keep my stuff in their rooms. Watch them say ‘no’ to the girl who knocked a guy’s tooth out, broke another guy’s nose, and tore a locker door off of the wall.” Then she pauses, and adds, “I don’t know why I’m saying that like it’s a good thing. Why do I keep doing this stuff?”

“You’re kind of terrifying, you know that?” Trini says, glancing to the side.

“Yeah. I’ve got issues.” She nods. “You’re pretty intimidating, too.”

Trini shakes her head. “Sure, but you’re scarier. You’ve got that permanent cheer smile and radiate pretty and soft and sweet. But if someone makes the wrong move, you could literally break their bones with your bare hands. If you look at me, straight away you’re hit with resting bitch face and a glare that could kill you where you stand. You know what you’re gonna get when you come at me. But you , Princess… That’s a different story.”

Kimberly almost stops walking in the middle of the hallway, but she makes herself keep moving. She knew that there was something intimidating about being a cheerleader, and that obviously she’s gotten herself a bit of a reputation since she got kicked off the squad, but hearing it explained like that is… it feels different to think of it that way.

She keeps thinking about it even after breaking away from Trini to get to her first period class.

She brings it up again at lunch.

“So people are scared of me now?”

Zack chuckles, shaking his head at the food in front of him. “I can see why.”

Trini kicks him from her side of the table, and he responds with a half yelp, half whimper. She could say that he’s right, because he is, but she already had this conversation with Kim earlier.

“Not everyone is scared of you,” Jason says, and Billy quickly nods along.

“Yeah, I know a lot of people who love you for breaking that guy’s nose! He would pick on them, and he hasn't been doing it this past week. You’re their hero.”

Kimberly thinks that might be a bit of a stretch.

“The only people you went after were Ty and that Brad guy. And it isn’t like they didn’t deserve it,” Trini adds.

Jason nods. “I think the only people who would really be scared of you would be from your class because they actually saw what happened.”

Zack eyes Trini for a moment before speaking up again. “There’s dozens of rumors going around, Kim. To most people you’re just badass.”

They’re probably right. Especially if Zack’s trying to be sincere right now. She’s just overreacting.

Like she always does.

 

---

 

“Yo! Big Z!” Zack shouts as they walk in from the Pit, and Zordon stares back completely unamused.

Jason keeps walking farther into the room, passing in front of the others and staring up at the wall. “Why are Putties still popping up in the middle of town? We thought that was supposed to be over with already.”

“Mm… It’s probably more leftover magic,” Zordon says simply. “Rita accumulated a lot of power while she was here, even in such a short amount of time.”

“That seems like it’s too simple of an answer,” Kimberly says, crossing her arms over her chest.

Jason nods. “We feel like something’s coming.”

“Yeah, that spidey-sense.” Zack smiles, lightly hitting Trini on her shoulder. She stares at him, and then turns back unfazed.

“What does that mean? Spidey-sense?” Zordon asks, and Zack almost busts out laughing.

Billy's about to start explaining Spider-Man and make connections with him being a superhero just like the Rangers, but stops when he sees that Jason's already opening his mouth to clarify.

“He means we can feel it.”

“Alright. You shouldn’t ignore your instincts. We don’t have enough information to say what it might be beyond Rita, but you should keep your guard up. Be ready for another attack, and keep to your training.”

Okay, so he didn't really have the answers they were looking for, but it didn't hurt to ask.

“So you're saying Rita’s still relevant?” Trini asks, taking a step forward. “Even though we slapped her out of the atmosphere? You told us we didn't have to worry about her anymore, and then it was that she left behind some excess magic, and now you don't know what could be going on unless it has to do with her. You need to stick to one story; either she's gone or she isn't.”

The others turn to look at her, but she keeps staring up at the wall.

“She is gone. Physically, her body doesn't stand much chance of returning to Earth. However--”

Trini cuts him off, and the more she says, the more they start to worry about her. “No, there is no however . If she can still hurt us through magic or mental links or whatever the hell you're talking about, then she isn't gone. I don't care what happened to her body if the rest of her didn't disappear with it.”

“Trini, this isn't just new for us. It's new for him, too. We don't have all the answers,” Jason says calmly.

“Then don't make promises you can't keep. This isn't something to gamble with. If she isn't gone , we're in danger.”

Billy looks back and forth at everyone, and then says, “She's right. Rita's hurt us more than once; if she can come back or exist through someone else, like possession, then we need to acknowledge that as a possibility. We should have acknowledged it before now.”

There's a beat of silence.

“Okay, we'll talk about it--about this --some more later. Right now I think it's time for us to go,” Jason says, and that's their cue to leave.

Trini isn't sure about everyone else, but she knows she's way more tense now than she was when they finished training.

None of them say anything until they’ve reached the top of the cliffs again, and that’s when Kimberly slows her pace down to fall in line with Trini. The boys keep walking, though, now talking about if they should have another bonfire soon.

“Hey, are you good?”

Trini shrugs. She isn’t good , but she could be worse. Just thinking about Rita again, and the possibility of her coming back--physically or not--is enough to shake them all up. “I’m… you know.”

“Do you want me to come over again tonight?” This morning was… unexpected and very close to being a disaster, but now Kimberly knows to be more careful. Like, by either not falling asleep or making sure they have an alarm that’ll actually go off.

Trini wants to say yes , because she does want Kimberly to come over again. But trying that again after this morning? That’d really be pushing her luck. “I do, but… It’s too risky right now. My brothers won’t say anything, but I think I should hold off on sneaking people in for a day or two.

Kimberly nods. “Okay. But if it gets like last night, or worse, just call or FaceTime me, and I’ll stay up with you.”

She says it so casually, but, honestly, it means the world to Trini. “Yeah, okay.”

“Hey, guys!” Zack calls out, walking backwards to look at the girls. “Bonfire tomorrow night? Be there or be square!”

 

---

 

Black and Yellow

[lil z | trini]

lil z: ok t, you never told me what went down w/ kim

lil z: like i get that ur chill.. obvi since u can sleep in the same bed and are TALKING to e/o now. But what happened?? explain pls

trini: we figured things out

lil z: so??? ur a thing now?

trini: not exactly. We aren’t doing labels rn

lil z: what the hell does that mean?

trini: it means we don’t want to rush into anything

lil z: but did u kiss?? pls tell me u kissed??

trini: no

lil z: ????

lil z: trini have i taught u nothing?

trini: you haven’t taught me anything. What are you talking about?

lil z: *disappointed sigh*

lil z: so what r u even doing????????????

trini: I’m telling u to shut up and mind ur own business

lil z: ur just salty bc i’m right. U don’t know what ur doing rn either

 

trini changed their name to confusedgay :/

 

lil z: i knew it

lil z: how did u talk but still not TALK

confusedgay :/: I think I just need to make a move? Cause we said whatever happens would happen…?

lil z: yes, that sounds good

lil z: go for it t

lil z: give her the best damn kiss of her entire life

confusedgay :/: no pressure or anything…

lil z: u might even say it’s time for a

lil z: heart to hart

confusedgay :/: how long have u been waiting to make that pun?

lil z: a v long time

lil z: pls appreciate it

 

confusedgay :/ changed their name to trini//

 

lil z: girl r u gonna stick w/ a name???

lil z: what’s up w/ those slashes?

trini//: I wanted to add some flair so it wouldn’t just be my name

lil z: ...aight

trini//: wbu? I haven’t meddled in ur love life recently

lil z: don’t worry abt that, i know what i’m doin

trini//: what are u doing

lil z: browsing

trini//: bro

lil z: i’m being patient. I might not even have a chance,, but if i do i’ll let u know

trini//: a chance with who?

lil z: hahahahahaha

lil z: oh t

lil z: yeah, i’m not telling u

trini//: ur an ass

 

---

 

Original Detention Squad

[billyc | goldenboi | princess.hart]

goldenboi: Hey, Kim? What exactly is going on w/ you and Trini now?

princess.hart: Why?

goldenboi: Bc I don’t want to assume smth is going on w/ u two and say the wrong thing to upset u guys

princess.hart: We talked things out

goldenboi: So you told her how u feel

princess.hart: Yep

princess.hart: But we aren’t doing anything about it officially

goldenboi: That sounds confusing. And complicated.

princess.hart: It’s only complicated if we make it complicated

goldenboi: It’s like you got together, but you didn’t, so there’s still going to be tension

billyc: Are we going to be sitting through more awkward lunches? Those aren’t fun :(

princess.hart: No, B, we’re good w/ each other. It’s like… we didn’t want pressure. So we can be flirty or more tactile and close

princess.hart: We just aren’t naming it, or making it official, or telling anyone

goldenboi: Or doing anything about it at all?

goldenboi: So, like, you’re “not dating” but you are, but you aren’t

princess.hart: Exactly

billyc: That doesn’t make sense, Kim

goldenboi: Is that how Trini sees it?

princess.hart: We had to come to an agreement together, Jace

goldenboi: But did you say all of that, exactly how you told us, out loud to her?

princess.hart: I might need to talk to her again…

goldenboi: Yeah, I think you should do that.

 

---

 

When they get together for their Saturday night bonfire, they mess around for about an hour to loosen up. If they’re about to get serious and talk about their feelings, they need a bit of a break to have some fun first. They move out of that when Billy asks Zack how is mom is doing, and they all settle in their seats, bracing themselves for the potentially heavy talking points.

Zack nods slowly, looking down at the fire, and then back up at everyone else. “She’s about the same. Still scolding me to go to school, so that’s consistent...” He gives them a sad smile.

“Hey, Z?” Jason says. “You don’t have to answer, but… Why were you so into us doing that band thing?”

He looks down again and shrugs. “It seemed like fun, you know? When I need to focus on something outside of the stress from work, school, my mom, and training… Thinking about playing the bass with you guys is a lot more enjoyable. It’s something I can work on. I can’t think about nothing, or that stressful stuff will take over. So it keeps me busy when my mind stops being busy… I know you guys think it’s stupid… Except B. You have just as much fun with it as I do. But thanks for putting up with me and my dumb ideas. Y’all are the best.”

“It isn’t stupid,” Trini says. “You could be wanting us to get into something way worse.”

“Excuse me, who do you think I am?” Zack asks, with a bit more pep in his tone.

“Zack Taylor: Bad Idea Guy.”

He thinks that over and then nods. “Okay, that’s fair.” Then he turns to Jason. “But that’s enough about me, guys. I don’t have much else to talk about. What about you, big guy?”

“Mm… Nothing much. Just trying to make sure I’m the leader you guys need.”

“What?” Zack asks. “Nope. No. Don’t do that, Red. You know we love you. We’re a team. If one of us screws up, we all screw up. What else is up?”

Jason looks a bit hesitant, but he speaks up anyway. “My dad’s out a lot more often now. So that’s… I mean, he isn’t around to be on my back all the time, but it still kind of sucks that he’s… you know. Distancing himself. We still miss him when he isn’t there.”

The others nod in acknowledgment. It doesn’t seem like there’s a good response to that other than, “We’re here for you, dude.” That’s gotten to be an unspoken statement between them.

“And Pearl really wants you guys back over for another movie night. She said she found a way to watch all of the Land Before Time movies that were between the ones on Netflix.”

“She did what? ” Zack asks with wide eyes. “I’m coming over to your house, Jason.”

Billy nods happily, clapping his hands. “Me too.”

“Yeah, you boys have fun with that,” Kimberly says.

Zack is absolutely positive that they will have fun with that, even if the girls aren’t with them. Especially if they aren’t with them. They don’t understand the greatness of The Land Before Time. They’d only drag the boys down.

“Is there anything you want to talk about, Billy?” Jason asks.

Billy takes a couple of minutes to think about it, and then says, “Oh, yeah! I finished up with the project I was working on. Trini and Jason already know what it is, but it’s these long, skinny tubes that I transferred material from lava lamps into. I got them to emit glow similar to how we looked when we first jumped off of the cliff and landed in the water. I made one in each of your colors.”

“Wait, is there actually a black lava lamp?” Zack leans forward, waiting for an answer.

“Yes, actually! But it does have a bit of a purple undertone to it.”

Kimberly smiles. “That’s awesome. What are you gonna do with them?”

“I don’t know yet. I want you guys to come over and see them, and then you can help me decide.”

“That is so rad , Blue.” Zack smiles too.

“Yep. That’s it.” Billy nods. “That’s all I have to talk about. Nothing else.”

Jason almost face palms, and Trini and Kimberly share a look.

“Right. What about you, Crazy Girl? You’ve had an eventful week,” Zack says, looking totally unbothered by Billy’s… unusual response.

“Um… Well you know how it is.” Trini shrugs.

Zack shakes his head. “No, we don’t. That’s why we’re doing this thing.”

Okay… My parents are dealing… My mom’s still on edge, but I guess she’s trying. And my brothers are being really cool about everything. They already knew before I told them, so that was…”

“How did they know?” Billy asks, and Trini’s a little less than excited to answer.

“Uh…”

Kimberly nods from her spot right next to her, bumping their shoulders together. “Yeah, you never told me that part.”

Trini laughs, a bit awkwardly. “Um… Well…”

“Come on, T. It can’t be that embarrassing,” Zack says, but Trini’s pretty sure he’s hoping that it isn’t as tame as she wants it to be.

She clears her throat and hopes that it’s too dark out to see that she’s blushing. “They said they, uh… They saw me texting a lot, and thought it was weird when I was smiling so much. So they got sneaky to see what was going on with my phone, and…”

“Go on…” Zack’s grinning like he knows exactly where this is going.

“They saw me texting Kim all the time, and… they drew their own conclusions.”

Zack’s laughing before she finishes her sentence, and Kimberly isn’t too far behind him.

“Oh my god, T…”

Trini doesn’t look at Kim, barely wants to look at anyone else, so she just shakes her head and says, “Stop.”

“I make you that happy?” Kim asks.

“You won’t anymore if you keep talking about this.”

Kimberly leans into Trini’s side more instead of pushing or accidentally upsetting her.

“I’m so happy right now, guys,” Zack says, still sort of laughing.

“Shut up.”

“You’re so gay for Kim, even your brothers could tell. Oh my god, this is amazing.”

“Come on, T. It isn’t that bad.”

Trini still doesn’t let herself look at Kimberly’s smiling face because she knows that, once she does, she’ll just melt and then Zack will have more material to tease her with.

“Hey, Kim,” Jason calls out. “You wanna tell Trini what you asked Zordon the other day?”

Kimberly’s smile immediately falls, and she’s staring at Jason with wide eyes. “Um, no. Why would I?”

Trini, however, is very interested in the change of conversation. “What did you ask Zordon?”

“Nothing important. Jason’s being a jerk,” Kim says, staring directly at Jason. “And, honestly, I can’t really remember.”

“Oh, well I remember, Kimberly,” Billy says. “You asked Zordon if connections were different when Rangers were romantically involved, and he asked what you meant because relationships work differently in his culture. Then he said you probably meant sexual relationships. You stopped him when he tried to go into detail and describe how things worked sexually between his team or how it'd work with us, and he asked if you were speaking hypothetically or if you were already engaging in a relationship like that with another Ranger, and then you got really flustered. But he said that if you bond with another Ranger more, whether that means it’s a romantic or sexual or platonic relationship or not, you'll have a stronger connection.”

“Thanks, B…”

Trini raises her eyebrows and looks at Kim. “Are you telling me you basically got a sex talk from Zordon ? Because you had a question about your relationship… with me?”

“Uh… Yes?”

“This is the best day of my life,” Zack says, smiling. “It keeps getting better… Thank you.”

“Did you say you were talking about me?”

Kimberly shakes her head. “ God , no.”

“Then Zack’s right. That’s hilarious.”

“Okay, how about you just get back to where you left off?”

Trini isn’t too reluctant to start talking about herself again, but she does take her time to get her thoughts together. “My mom asked me how the locker thing was going this morning, so I told her that Kim took it down because the school couldn’t keep up with the vandals, and they didn’t plan on doing anything else to make up for it. She looked conflicted.”

“Right. Because I’ve got your back, but I’m also a delinquent,” Kimberly says, and Trini nods.

“Yeah, probably. That’s… That’s it for now. I think I just need to wait for them to get used to the idea, and then I’ll… I don’t know. I’ll tell you guys what happens as soon as it does.”

Zack throws a stick into the fire, and motions to the girls. “That means it’s your turn, Kimmy.”

“Oh, um…”

“We aren’t skipping you again, homegirl.”

“No, I know. I’m just…” Kimberly shakes her head and sighs. “I started therapy two days ago.”

“What?”

They aren’t surprised that it’s something she’s doing; they’re just surprised that she hasn’t said anything before now.

“Yeah. I didn’t talk about anything, but I guess I have to next week. I didn’t say anything to you guys because I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.”

“It’s okay, Kim. We’ve got your back,” Jason says. “It might be good to talk to someone who isn’t… a Ranger.”

Trini looks at him. “You mean a professional?”

“Yeah. That.”

“We should all probably talk to a professional…” she mutters, eyes down at her hands as she breaks apart a twig.

“How are things going with your parents?”

Kimberly shrugs. “I don’t know. They’re… there. Pissed that I keep getting in more trouble, but… They think this therapy thing is gonna help, so… I don’t know.”

“It might. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it,” Jason says.

“It’s getting late, and I’m tired, guys… I think we should probably call it a night,” Kimberly says, and the others nod.

They all go their separate ways, and Trini hopes that her disappointment isn’t strong enough for one of the others to feel. She really wishes she could ask Kimberly to come over, or have the courage to sneak out and go over to her place instead. But she doesn’t.

 

---

 

It’s around midday Sunday when Trini finally feels that weird buzzing sensation that the others have been feeling for the past week or two. And they were right--she can only describe it as danger . She doubted herself at first, because she wasn’t sure if that’s actually what it was, but when Jason sends them all a text that just says, “GUYS???” she's a lot more confident in her assumption.

Everyone else is pretty much responding with, “I know!!!” and Billy adds that they need to get into town because there are more Putties wrecking everything. They have no idea why it’s happening, but they’re ready to stop it.

They don't stop to get the Zords. Partially because they aren't sure if they’ll have enough time, and also because it doesn't seem like it’ll be that big of a fight. Jason’s hoping it was the right call.

They're mid fight when Trini punches out the two Putties that had simultaneously lunged at her, and she sees something out of the corner of her eye that catches her attention. It was just a quick movement, so it was probably nothing. But she stops long enough to see it again, and this time she knows it wasn’t nothing . It doesn’t make sense , but she saw it . And she’s frozen where she stands, trying to figure out how it could be possible, but she isn’t coming up with anything. Isn’t doing anything.

She’s gone blank.

Completely still. Vulnerable.

In the middle of a battle.

All because she saw a quick flash of green.

Chapter Text

It doesn't make sense.

Rita’s gone. She has to be gone. They made sure of it. Trini has to be hallucinating again. Lately she has been getting more sleep, but it still must not be enough. She saw the shape of a person, the color green, and armor. It was definitely Ranger armor.

But that armor was launched into space.

And it looked real . The other hallucinations she’s had before never felt like that.

Zordon said that the chances of Rita physically returning were… He said she didn’t stand much chance of returning. He didn’t say it was impossible.

Zordon specifically didn’t say it was impossible.

Trini’s having a much harder time breathing now.

She can sort of make out someone shouting her name. It could be multiple people; she isn’t sure. But she isn’t responding to it. They’re yelling at her, and she’s standing in the middle of the street, frozen, and currently staring at nothing. She isn’t even fully aware that she’s in the middle of a fight, or that she’s zoning out. And then Billy’s standing in front of her, saying something. Shouting something. Her name, maybe. He might be telling her to move.

Trini takes a half step backwards, starts to process that she’s supposed to be focussing. She still sounds out of it when she says, “What?”

“Trini, we’re in the middle of a fight! We need you!”

They need her…

They…

“Guys, I don’t think we’ll be able to snap her out of it right now. We might need to get her somewhere safe and take care of this on our own,” Jason says, punching out one of the remaining Putties.

Kimberly glances behind herself at the others, and then brings her focus back to the fight. “We can’t just leave her like that, Jace.”

“We don’t have much of a choice.”

Zack pauses for a moment. “What the hell? Did you guys see that?”

“That…” Jason trails off. “Was that green armor?”

“Sure looked like it. I’m guessing that’s what spooked, T.”

“Where’d it go?”

“I don’t know, Red, I’m a little busy here.”

“Billy!” Kimberly calls out. “Can you try to get Trini to move over there? Down the road where it looks clear?”

Billy’s a bit reluctant, but he still nods. “Yeah… What did you guys say about green armor?”

“There’s someone in a green suit,” Zack says. “Are you okay, B?”

There’s a pause, and then Billy nods again. “Yeah, I’m… I’m good.”

It doesn’t take them much longer to clear everything out. Trini might not be there to help, but her absence only makes them want to get done quicker. They’re still on edge once all of the Putties are gone; as if they haven’t finished and something else is still coming. But nothing does. That green figure vanished about as fast as it appeared, and they aren’t sure if they need to go looking for it, or… They don’t know what to do about it. But getting back to Trini is the priority.

Kimberly attempts to get Trini’s attention as soon as the four of them get to where she’s still standing and staring at the ground. She grabs Trini’s forearms to steady her and says her name, asks if she’s okay, says she needs to come back to them. She never gets a response.

Kimberly feels a bit of a vibration and looks down to see Trini’s armor slowly melting away from her hands.

“Trini, stop. We’re still out in the open.” She tries to say it calmly. Panicking or yelling again would probably only make things worse.

“What?” Trini looks down at her hands, and she panics, causing the armor to melt away down past her wrists.

Zack gestures at her. “Just… Morph it back on, dude.”

She tries to do just that, but it doesn’t work.

“Come on, we need to get back to the ship…” Jason says, his focus not entirely there either.

The entire walk back to the ship, Trini’s staring at her hands, focussing on not losing any more of her armor while they’re still above ground. The others have to guide her in the right direction a couple of times, alternating between worry and confusion. When they finally jump off of the cliff, Trini loses her armor completely before she even hits the water.

She’s staring at her hands again after the fall into the caves, so Zack asks if she’s okay. She nods, looks up, and says, “I’m… fine. Come on; we need to keep moving.”

Being soaked in water isn’t doing much to calm her down, so she stays in the back while the others talk to Zordon. Billy hangs back, too. He’s also pretty shaken up from the Rita-might-be-back and being-submerged-in-water combination.

“Are you okay, Billy?” She asks in a low voice so only he can hear.

Billy turns to her, and seems to think about it while wringing his hands. “Um. No. Are you okay?”

She shakes her head.

They both try to tune back into the conversation.

“Did you take her coin? Before you banished her out of the atmosphere?” Zordon asks.

Jason shakes his head, slightly annoyed because Zordon never told them they’d need to do that . “No. We didn’t.”

“That must be it, then. The coin has probably found a new Ranger. It’s possible that there could be some remaining energy in the coin, as well. Rita altered its usage to suit herself, so any remains of that dark magic could manifest in this new Green Ranger.”

“I’m getting really tired of all this remaining energy bullshit,” Kimberly says, shaking her head.

“Kim,” Jason starts to say, but he isn’t really committed to it. To be honest, he doesn’t even want to stop her.

“No, I’m serious.” She turns to Zordon. “When we became Rangers, you told us we needed to defeat Rita, and that was it. You didn’t say we’d need to do all of this; get rid of her body, take the coin, cleanse the fucking ground she walked on, or exorcise bad energy from everything she touched. You didn’t prepare us for anything . You just threw us in the Pit and made us beat the hell out of each other. And even now you still aren’t telling us everything. Trini could’ve been hurt out there because we weren’t prepared for something like this to happen.”

“I didn’t know what would happen. I can tell you about being Rangers, but this isn’t something I’ve experienced before,” Zordon says.

“But every time we come to you with questions about this stuff, you somehow have an answer for us. Right. That makes sense.”

Jason reaches out to put a hand on her shoulder. “I agree with you, Kim. But this isn’t getting us anywhere. Zordon… How do we find out who the new Ranger is, and how do we get the bad energy out of them?”

“I don’t know.”

Kimberly turns around and takes a few steps closer to the exit because normally her solution to this kind of situation would be to punch Zordon. But, considering he’s a giant entity stuck in a wall, she isn’t sure if it’d really be effective. She’s better off not engaging anymore.

“We should probably just look for someone super strong who wears a lot of green.” Zack shrugs.

Jason glances down at his red t-shirt. “We really do wear our colors a lot, don’t we?”

Zack nods.

Now that Trini has had time to reflect on what happened, she can’t get past how she totally blanked out there on the field. It was reckless. Dangerous. They don’t try to ask if she’s okay again until they’re out of the ship, and when they do, she absentmindedly nods.

“Guys, I can’t do that again. If we had been in a bigger fight… I didn’t have your backs at all .”

“You don’t have to worry about us, T,” Zack says. “ We’re worried about you .”

She sighs, unable to find a better response.

Jason scratches his head, trying to think up a way to help. “Do we need to… find a way to help you cope?”

“No. I was just… surprised. I wasn’t expecting it, but now I know there might be someone out there. I’m good.”

It isn’t very convincing.

But for now, they aren’t going to question her.

 

---

 

Ahhhhh @overwhoa

Are we sure the "power rangers" aren’t causing all of this destruction? Just a thought.

Pizza Pls @bipride_wonthide

Replying to @overwhoa

well, they saved my life from one of those rock monsters, so i don’t rlly care

 

Art Ho™ @EmFromArt7

[ attachment: video ] Hey, what the hell was up w yellow out there? Down in the corner…? @PwrRangers

Pizza Pls @bipride_wonthide

Replying to @EmFromArt7

And blue runs to get her

Black Ranger @pugs88

Replying to EmFromArt7

it looks like she’s in shock

Ya Boy #16 @bballtiger16

Replying to @pugs88

But why? @PwrRangers don’t you guys specialize in fighting these things?

 

Power Rangers (Fans) @powerrangers

Replying to @overwhoa

I’m just glad they didn’t wreck the pending Krispy Kreme renovations --H

Art Ho™ @EmFromArt7

Replying to @powerrangers

I feel u bro, Ernie’s place has great doughnuts, but it just… isn’t the same

 

---

 

Trini doesn’t make it very far into her house before her brothers are running up and hugging her, both talking at once. Her parents appear soon after, expressions a combination of worry and relief. It’s a little overwhelming.

“Why are you always out when the town is being attacked?” Her mother asks. “You need to be at home with us. Where it’s safe .”

Her mother and father both walk forward to wrap their arms around Trini and her brothers. It’s a giant group hug, and it doesn’t really happen all that often--has probably only happened twice before in her entire life--so she doesn’t know what to do. “Sorry; I just got caught up out there. It wasn’t on purpose.”

“At least answer your phone, Trini. We were worried,” Her father says.

They don’t let up on the hug.

It gets awkward really quickly.

“Hey, guys, I, uh… I’m glad we’re all okay,” she says. “But can I get some space now?”

She does spend a few more minutes with them after they back off, just because things are tense, and it’s been a stressful day for all of them. She’s able to get away from them easily enough by saying she needs to shower. And after a battle like that, armor or not, she definitely does.

Apparently she can’t expect to get too much time to herself because her mother comes up to check on her maybe ten minutes after she’s done showering. But when she gets to the doorway she just stands there silently, staring at Trini. It gets to the point of being uncomfortable again.

“...What?”

Her mother straightens. “Your sweatshirt.”

Trini glances down at herself to see that she’s wearing the cheer sweatshirt that Kimberly had given her. So… oops. She looks back up, but makes an effort to keep her expression neutral. Internally she’s low key freaking out.

“It’s Kim’s.”

Her mother’s reaction is kind of hilarious--pure shock, mostly from how direct Trini is being--and it almost makes the little tinge of panic she feels worth it. But before things can get any worse, she continues her explanation.

“Jason’s hoodie is hanging over that chair, Zack’s beanie is on that shelf, and I think I’ve got one of Billy’s jackets somewhere around here, too. I get cold easily, and we don’t care about sharing clothes. Is that a problem?” She may be exaggerating about having more than just Kim’s sweatshirt, but her mom doesn’t need to know that.

She doesn’t get an actual answer. Her mother just says, “Come down for dinner in ten minutes please,” and leaves.

If she had actually thought about what she was wearing, she probably would've acknowledged what might happen if her parents noticed that it came from the cheer team, but she was more focused on comfort than logic. The decision to grab Kim's sweatshirt was solely because it's comfortable, and, well… because it's Kim's. It’s been a very very stressful day, and she needs something to calm herself down. If Kim can't be here herself to keep Trini company, then she'll settle for the next best thing.

The stress of the day gets worse when she starts thinking about that… new Ranger. Because having that bad energy is one thing, but if that bad energy is closely linked to Rita , does that mean this new person is going to have Rita-like tendencies? As in, are they going to target Trini again? Because she can’t handle that. The others do have her back now; would be able to feel if she’s in danger faster than she could text them, but it’d still be too much. It was hard enough to defeat her the first time… They can’t say for sure that they’ll be able to do it again.

And if this person is only partially in Rita’s control, then they might have a different fighting style. Something the Rangers aren't prepared to handle.

It's terrifying to think about.

Makes the barely-there scar on her neck flare up again; sting like it did when Rita’s nails first scraped across her skin, too forceful, too deep.

She works on some breathing techniques to keep calm because she's been having too many panic attacks from this stuff lately. It isn't good for her, and if she can try to avoid them then she might as well try it while she's still coherent enough to make that decision.

Dinner isn’t all that eventful. They talk about the attack and Trini answering her phone and keeping it charged, but Trini doesn’t actually say much. She mostly tries to get through what’s on her plate.

What is eventful is when she walks back into her room to find Kimberly sitting at her desk.

It makes her jump a bit, but she recovers fast enough to close the door behind her. “God, Kim. What the hell?”

“I swear I texted you that I was coming over,” Kim says, holding a hand up in defense.

“My phone is literally sitting on that desk right in front of you. I’ve been downstairs.”

Kim glances down at the desk to see that the phone is right there. Very clearly out in the open. “Well… You should’ve known I was here anyway. Aren’t you supposed to be able to Ranger Sense me or something?”

“I was kind of actively trying to tune you guys out, so… No.”

“Oh.” Kim looks down as Trini takes a seat on the bed. “I’ll leave if you want me to, but I didn’t think you’d want to be alone after today.”

Trini shakes her head. “You’re right. I don’t.”

Kimberly turns to grab a white box that had been pushed to the side on the desk, and then rests it closer to the edge where Trini can see it. “I brought doughnuts.”

Someone to keep her company through the night and doughnuts? That’s exactly what she needs right now. “I’m not getting any sleep tonight, so if you’re really going to stay, I hope you don’t mind.”

“Of course not,” Kim says, patting the top of the box. “I got sugar to keep myself awake.”

“Oh, is that what that’s for?”

“No. It was more of a bribe. The sugar high is just a bonus.”

“You know the ‘bonus’ is spending time with me. You couldn’t care less about the sugar.”

Kim smiles. “Yeah, you caught me.” Then the smile fades a bit and Trini can feel the air getting more serious. “Do you want to talk about what happened earlier?”

Yes and no. It feels like she’s been thinking about it nonstop for the past however many hours already, but getting some of that out loud might be nice. “I pretty much covered everything earlier. I’m just… Scared.”

Then again, a stressful conversation after a stressful day might be a bit too much stress all at once. She can save it for tomorrow.

“You wanna talk about something else, then?”

“All I can think about is how we have school in the morning, and I’m really not looking forward to it.”

Kimberly shakes her head. “Me neither.“

“But I can’t get away with skipping again. My grades are gonna suffer.”

“It won’t be that bad. I’m sure we’ll get through it just fine.”

“I admire your optimism, but I don’t share it,” Trini says. “And... thanks for the doughnuts.”

“I figured you might need some.” Kim pauses, and the silence stretches on long enough that Trini doesn’t think she’s going to add anything. But, eventually, she does. “Actually, can I be honest with you for a minute?”

The fact that Kim looks almost nervous only worries Trini more. She tries to make a joke to relieve the tension, but it kind of falls flat. “Just a minute? You’ve been lying to me this whole time?” [Kim does manage to smile for a few seconds, but it barely lasts long enough for Trini is notice.] “You can talk to me. What’s up?”

“I was terrified earlier.”

“Yeah, me too,” Trini says quietly.

“I just… I don’t think I realized how my feelings for you would clash with how we operate out in the field trying to save the town. I could barely focus on anything else because I was so worried about you, and that… That was dumb on my part. And kind of irresponsible.”

Trini stares at her, processing what that’s supposed to mean. “Are you…? Are you breaking up with me before we even become a thing?”

Kim sits back and shakes her head. “What? No. God, no. I’m sorry; I could’ve framed that better. My point is that I can fix that. I can change up how I deal with things in a fight. But… I know we’ve all said that we’d die for each other. So that Ranger love that we already have is pretty intense. I think I misjudged how much I care about you. But after today, I’m not… I don’t want to come that close to one of us getting hurt again.”

She has no idea how to respond to that. Barely understands what it means. But, it sort of sounds like Kim is confessing her love for Trini... Is that what’s happening?

Kimberly suddenly looks really confused, giving Trini a, “What the hell are you doing?” face. But Trini doesn’t know what that’s about either. Is she missing something? Did she space out for half of their conversation?

“Are you trying to morph right now?” Kim asks.

“What? No.” Trini looks down at herself to see that her armor is flickering around her hands. She takes a deep breath and focuses on making it stop.

“We didn’t mention that to Zordon earlier.” Right. Trini almost blowing their cover in the middle of town. “I think we should’ve.”

“Probably…” Trini’s still looking at her hands, but this time she tries to morph. The armor forms completely around her hands, but stops right at her wrists. “I can’t… I can’t do it?”

“What?”

Trini shrugs. “I’m trying to morph, but it stopped.”

“Do you think… Are we just not connected anymore, or…? Do you think it’s something else?” Kim asks, but she’s taking this way better than Trini is.

“I don’t know why we wouldn’t be connected. We’ve been pretty open with each other lately, haven’t we?”

“I thought so…”

She’s starting to panic a bit now, and that causes the armor that had formed to melt away. “But what else could it be?”

“Trini, you need to calm down.”

She looks up this time. “Can you do it?”

Kimberly pauses because it doesn’t seem necessary, but she is curious. She watches as the armor covers her hands and up her forearms, and is about to stop intentionally when it stops itself. It barely reaches her shoulders. “Uh… No, I can’t.”

Trini seems even more panicked now.

“It might not mean anything,” Kim says as she does the opposite from before and waits for the armor to go away. “We probably just need to rest it off.”

That sounds too simple for it to be the answer. “But why did it start morphing on its own?”

“I don’t know. Maybe…” Kim trails off, trying to come up with an answer. “I don’t know.”

It’d be really easy for Trini to just freak out again. Overanalyze and panic. Punch more stuff. But instead she just sighs and gestures towards Kim. “Hand me a doughnut?”

After handing over the entire box, Kim says, “We should ask the guys if they’re having trouble with it, too.”

“Sure.” Trini nods, taking a bite from one of the doughnuts. “But, like… We can do that tomorrow.”

Kim smiles and nods. “Alright. Sounds good to me…”

And then there’s another lull in the conversation, and Kimberly’s running through several different things in her head. Is she supposed to be avoiding heavier topics right now?

“Your brothers are cute, by the way.”

Trini tilts her head and smiles a bit. “Hm… Yeah, they’re a big fan of yours, too.”

“Really? Why?”

“You told me to shut up and got away with it.”

That does sort of make sense. “Oh. So if I use that power of mine to help them get what they want from you, they’ll really love me.”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“I was serious about coming back to introduce myself,” Kim says. “If that’s okay. Things are hectic right now from the attack, but… You know when I’m free.”

Trini nods slowly. To be honest, she had expected Kim to forget about it (and hoped her brothers would, too). Having any of her friends in the same house as her family could end terribly. But it’s something her brothers and Kim seem to want, so… “Yeah, that’d… They’d love that.”

Unfortunately, she can’t say the same for her parents.

 

---

 

School the next day is rough. Zack doesn’t go at all because he’s too tired, but would also rather spend the time with his mom. After the attack… they just need the time together. Trini almost falls asleep on Kim’s shoulder at lunch. They all think she actually has, but when Billy asks if she’s awake, she mumbles out a disappointed, “Yes” without opening her eyes. Kimberly does fall asleep during Bio. Trini can’t tell visibly, but she can feel it. And she’d make an attempt to wake her up, but they sit too far away for her to try anything. The teacher notices pretty quickly and moves to stand in front of her desk, saying, “Kimberly,” once with the firmest tone he can muster.

It doesn’t work.

“Kim-”

And then there’s a loud noise as someone shoves their textbook off of their desk, and a faint but noncommittal, “Oops.”

That works to wake her up. As she takes a second to fully recover, the teacher makes his way back to the front of the classroom.

“Thank you for joining us again, Kimberly. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t fall asleep in the middle of my class again.”

Despite having just woken up, she’s already ready with an excuse. “I’m, uh.. I’m sorry. I’ve had some… personal stuff because of the attack going on. Family stuff. It isn’t an excuse, but I’m...Sorry.”

The crazy thing is, it actually works. The teacher nods awkwardly, clears his throat and says, “I’m sorry to hear about that. Please try to pay attention next time?”

Zack joins them in the ship that afternoon so they can address the “morphing situation.” They start off with all of them morphing--or, trying to morph--so they can see how many of them are affected. Trini has the most trouble. She can barely get her armor up past her hands again, and then there’s one random patch on her left shoulder. Kimberly doesn’t have much luck, either. She gets her hands up to her forearms, a spot on her right leg, and it starts to form around her neck but doesn’t last. The boys appear to be almost completely decked out. Only, Jason’s missing an arm and a leg, and Billy can’t get his helmet up.

Zack stands off to the side, everything covered except for the visor on his helmet, and that was done on purpose. He smiles and winks at them, saying, “Yo, I’m the chosen one. I’ve got everything covered.”

He spins in a circle to give them the full view, and then everyone starts laughing. And not in a lighthearted, “Haha, you’re the chosen one. Okay, Zack,” way. So he stops spinning to face them with a questioning look.

“Uh…” Jason has a difficult time calming down enough to answer him. “Your ass is out, dude.”

He twists to check behind him, and he clearly has a patch of jeans covering his butt instead of armor.

“Oh my god…” Trini trails off. “This is amazing.”

Zack shrugs, flipping his imaginary hair at them. “At least now you can finally appreciate it.”

They get back to seriously figuring things out after they calm down. The only unanimous conclusion they can come to is that it doesn’t make sense. Even Zordon doesn’t know what to tell them beyond what he already has. “Think only of each other and the grid will blah blah blah,” or whatever. But since Trini’s having the most trouble, she’s pretty sure that means it has to be her fault. The others keep saying they don’t blame her, and she hasn’t done anything wrong, but… she has, hasn’t she? She froze out on the battlefield, and is having a much harder time accepting that there’s another Green Ranger than the others are. She’s doing something--intentionally, or not--to disconnect from the others, and it’s hurting them. If they still can’t morph when the new Ranger attacks again...

She doesn’t even want to think about what might happen.

 

---

 

Black and Yellow

[lil z | trini//]

lil z: listen t… i know we’re “close” but i’m abt to ask u a very personal question so bare w/ me pls

trini//: ...what the hell does /that/ mean??

lil z: r u by urself rn?

trini//: uh, yeah???

lil z: sorry, that’s not the q

lil z: did i… interrupt smth w my text just now?

trini//: idk, u interrupted me trying to write this paper for English, but… no?

lil z: so ur not, like… turned on… for some reason…

trini//: holy shit, Zack? Are you asking me what I think ur asking me??

lil z: i’ve felt u guys get vaguely aroused before, but rn is.. Intense

lil z: i am v uncomfortable

lil z: i don’t know who it’s coming from

trini//: god, well… I don’t feel that… Sorry, bro

lil z: do u know what kim’s doing?

trini//: no?

lil z: can u find out for me? Cause i don’t think i can have this convo w/ anyone else.. Esp if this is coming from them

trini//: uh… Give me a second?


Trini takes longer than what's probably necessary to work up the courage and text Kim. She needs to be casual about it, but also…? What if this arousal that Zack is feeling is coming from her? Trini doesn’t think she can handle that information if Kim actually tells her. Especially if Kim willingly tells her.

 

Pink Lemonade

[princess.hart | trini//]

trini//: what’s up?

princess.hart: ...u feel that too?

trini//: oh my god

trini//: is it from u???

princess.hart: No?? So it isn’t you?

trini//: lmao, no. I can’t even feel it

trini//: Zack asked if it was me, and when I said no, he asked me to check w/ u bc he didn’t want to confront anyone else abt it

princess.hart: So it has to be Billy or Jason

trini//: u think it’s both...?

princess.hart: I mean, probably? They’ve been acting weird lately.

trini//: alright

trini//: Zack told me he was super uncomfortable earlier, and now i am too… I'm not feeling this sex fest, and I'm also talking to the two of you while knowing how wildly turned on u both are

princess.hart: Believe me, T. You don’t want to be feeling this, knowing it’s coming from one of the guys.

trini//: do I want to ask what what you’re doing rn, or is that a tmi

princess.hart: I was watching tv, but now I’m cleaning as a distraction

princess.hart: I can’t exactly do anything else… I’ll just keep thinking about who it’s actually coming from, and I DO NOT want to do that, so

trini//: I wish we could turn this bond thing off sometimes

princess.hart: Me too :/

trini//: so, should I leave u alone now, or…?

princess.hart: No, it’s good. I just hope this is over soon

trini//: uh… good luck??

 

She’s barely had enough time to switch over to her conversation with Zack before she gets another message from Kim.

 

princess.hart: actUALLY I CHANGED MY MIND

princess.hart: PLEASE HELP ME

trini//: help you?

princess.hart: Yes!!!

trini//: how?

princess.hart: I DON’T KNOW JUST HELP ME TURN IT OFF

princess.hart: TRINI PLEASE

trini//: turning girls /off/ isn’t rlly my specialty Kimmy. Sorry

trini//: u might be better off going to Zack for that. He probably has more experience

princess.hart: triNI

trini//: dude, just take a cold shower

trini//: like, ice cold. That’s the best advice I can give ya

princess.hart: ...Okay???

trini//: you’re probably thinking abt it too much. Like if ur aware of it, then it’s amplified. Like the other night when I tried not to feel you guys, and I couldn’t sense that u were in my room

princess.hart: How the FUCK am I supposed to not think about this? If I could be UNAWARE of it, that’d be fantastic. But I don’t think that’s happening anytime soon.

trini//: I need to text z back real quick. Just… try the shower thing, ok?

princess.hart: ...Ok

 

Black and Yellow

[lil z | trini//]

trini//: yo, so it isn’t from Kim, but she feels it too

lil z: wake me up (wake me up inside)

trini//: should we text Billy or Jason, or are u just gonna hope it goes away soon?

lil z: i’m,, not thinking abt it,, just.,. Ignoring

trini//: alright. Good luck, I guess


After putting that mess behind her, Trini’s ready to give up on that essay for now and actually get some sleep. She’s tired enough, and really doesn’t need to risk passing out in the middle of class like Kim did earlier. But she’s probably a minute away from sleep when she gets another text.

 

Pink Lemonade

[princess.hart | trini//]

princess.hart: Actually, why the hell are they hooking up on a Monday night? That’s the least sexiest day of the week?

trini//: r u sure? I feel like it’d be wednesday… I just get that vibe

princess.hart: So we’re just going to ignore that it’s literally called hump day

trini//: becAUSE IT’S THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK KIM

trini//: YOU KNOW THAT’S NOT WHAT IT’S NAMED FOR, RIGHT?

princess.hart: Hear me out, dude

princess.hart: Monday: sucks. Tuesday: the beginning of the week, not too stressful bc ur already through Mon. Then Wednesday, middle of the week, you can applaud urself for making it this far. Thursday: “Yay, tmrw’s Friday!” Friday: u can finally relax/party. Saturday: is the best day. And, finally, Sunday: (Sin)day

trini//: w/e ur so weird

trini//: I can’t believe you’ve put this much thought into rating the days of the week

princess.hart: I have a lot more free time on my hands now than I used to

trini//: so if ur s/o wanted to hook up but they were only free on a monday, u would turn them down?

princess.hart: This is an odd hypothetical

princess.hart: I’m not saying I wouldn’t hook up on a Monday ever, just that it’s an odd choice if it’s their first time

trini//: why are we even talking abt this?? It’s giving me a mental image :///

trini//: so if u were all hot and bothered and u hadn’t done anything w/ ur s/o but it was a monday and u were both ready, you’d be like… “wait can we pause this for abt 4 days and come back to it?”

princess.hart: Oh my god. Idk, maybe?

princess.hart: Listen, unless you’re offering rn, shut up

trini//: omg, go to beddd

princess.hart: I don’t think I can

princess.hart: I mean, that feeling’s gone; they’ve stopped w/e was happening, I’m just… you know

princess.hart: Today wasn't as crazy as yesterday. But, still

trini//: u don't want to be alone?

princess.hart: No, not really

trini//: I can’t come over, but I can FaceTime

trini//: Like, if u want

 

Trini’s phone rings with a FaceTime call from Kim almost immediately.

They talk for a while, but she falls asleep by accident a half an hour later. Kimberly eventually falls asleep, too, but she still keeps Trini on the line. Just in case.

 

---

 

Since it’s the only time all of them really get to see each other together, it's awkward at lunch the next day. Zack’s gone again, but this time for work, so that leaves Trini and Kimberly to face Billy and Jason on their own. Confront them? No way. But face them and act like everything’s fine? They’re trying their best at that one. At one point Billy glances around the table before saying, “Kimberly, I thought you said we wouldn’t have anymore awkward lunches… No one’s talking right now…”

“I didn’t think we would,” Kim says. “But, honestly… This isn’t from me or Trini, B.”

Kim notices how Jason freezes up after that comment, but he still attempts to get through lunch without addressing what they’re all thinking about. Or, what most of them are thinking about.

He almost runs away from them as soon as their next class starts.

At the end of the day Kimberly makes her way to the hallway that Zack’s locker is on, about to find a spot on the wall to lean against so she can wait for Trini. But before she gets anywhere, someone’s grabbing her arm and pulling her off to the side. Kimberly almost reacts defensively, ‘cause what else would her reflex be when someone catches her off guard like that? But she stops herself, barely managing to calm down once they stop and she can look at the person.

“Hey, I need to be seen with you for a second,” the girl says, glancing around the hall before making eye contact with Kim.

“What? Who are you?”

“I’m new here and I’ve got some people on my back. I heard Kimberly Hart was a badass with a reputation for punching out assholes.”

Is two really enough to give her a reputation? Whatever. It could be worse. “Well… I guess I am. But if you knew that, you think it might’ve been a little risky to grab my arm like that?”

The girl glances down and then lets go of Kim’s arm. “Right. Sorry.”

“Why do you need to be seen with me?”

“If I’m associated with you, those assholes will be less likely to mess with me. Don’t get me wrong, I can handle myself. But one against five isn’t always the best odds. Even without being the “new girl,” I’m an outsider here. And from what I’ve heard, you’re kind of out here on the sidelines with me.”

Kimberly looks over the bandages covering the other girl’s right arm and then at a pretty bad looking bruise near her left eye. “They did that to you?”

“What? Oh. No. That’s from the weird attack on Sunday. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they did try something like that,” she says. “I’m Tommy. I’m in your History class.”

“Right…” Kim still doesn’t recognize her, and now that she knows they have a class together, she feels kind of bad about it. “How new is new, exactly?”

“About two and half, three weeks.”

That makes her feel a little better. Especially since the last two weeks have been pretty hectic. “Okay… How long do you need to be seen with me...?”

Tommy looks around the hall again and nods. “This should be good. Thanks.”

“Uh… Sure, okay…” Kim says, still confused by the interaction. She watches as Tommy throws her a two finger salute and walks away. Kimberly forgets what she had previously been doing for a minute, but snaps out of it when she notices Trini suddenly by her side.

“Who was that?” Trini asks, and Kim shrugs.

“Her name’s Tommy. Apparently I’m intimidating, and she wanted to be seen with me so people would stop messing with her. She’s in one of my classes.”

“Oh.”

Kimberly looks at Trini now, and notices that she looks a little out of it. “You okay?”

“Yeah…” She nods, slowly bringing her attention back to Kim. “So, um… If you really want to meet my brothers, Thursday would be a good day to do it. My parents will be out, and I’m supposed to babysit.”

“Alright. I’ll be there.”

 

---

 

Biconic Duo

[goldenboi | princess.hart]

princess.hart: Hey, Jace

princess.hart: You wanna talk about what happened at lunch today

princess.hart: Or what happened last night

goldenboi: idk what you’re talking about dude

princess.hart: J. Seriously

goldenboi: ahahah… nothing happened Kim, idk what u mean

goldenboi: Anyways, it’s a lovely day out.

princess.hart: I can’t believe you

princess.hart: How are you our leader? This is ridiculous

 

---

 

Rainbow Rangers

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | princess.hart | trini//]

lil z: guys

lil z: guys there’s some girl on my train

lil z: MY train

lil z: can u believe the sheer audacity???

billyc: Are you going to talk to her?

lil z: idk…. Haven’t decided yet….

lil z: perhaps this is a sign that i should just go home…

 

lil z: so i yelled at her

princess.hart: What?

lil z: i asked if she could pay to rent out the spot, and she said “ya” but that she had unconventional currency

lil z: “sarcasm, puns, and meaningless flirting”

lil z: i chose puns

trini//: and she gave you puns?

trini//: what is happening?

lil z: she said “puns abt monorails always make for decent one-liners. U think that covers the tab?”

lil z: i said she forgot tax, so she added “look, dude, i just came out here to kick some rocks and blow off some STEAM. I didn’t mean to DERAIL ur plans or anything”

lil z: i’m in platonic love

trini//: she came up w/ that on the spot? Damn

lil z: i said i actually needed to get back on TRACK and go home anyway, so she’s still there i guess

lil z: said she was new around here and didn’t know the laws of the land yet, so i let it slide

goldenboi: You just liked the puns

lil z: ^^correct

princess.hart: She’s new? Did she say her name?

lil z: ya, why?

princess.hart: What is it?

lil z: tommy

princess.hart: I met her earlier. I think she wants to enlist me as a secondary fighter or smth. What’s it called when you sub someone in to fight when u cant?

trini//: ...a substitute?

princess.hart: I guess? My point is, she said ppl have been messing w/ her

lil z: whO WOULD MESS W/ HER

lil z: she has great puns

lil z: wasn’t rude

lil z: an overall COOL aura…

princess.hart: We live around some shitty ppl, Z. Their reasons might not even make sense

lil z: tru tru

lil z: u right

trini//: if she starts hanging out around there, do u think it’d get trickier to get to the ship w/out anyone noticing?

princess.hart: Maybe

princess.hart: How would we avoid that?

trini//: idk, knock her out or smth

goldenboi: I don’t think more violence against civilians would be a good idea

trini//: rule #1 don’t reveal ur identity as a ranger. That overpowers rule # whatever that says we can’t punch ppl

billyc: Technically she’s right

billyc: But Jason’s also right, we shouldn’t punch anyone else

lil z: ^^i don’t wanna punch her she seems nice

trini//: there are more ways to knock someone out than punching them…

goldenboi: Trini no

trini//:

princess.hart: “More violence” “We shouldn’t punch anyone else”

princess.hart: Listen, I’m sorry I exceeded our max number of fuck ups, but I’ve only punched ONE person, and I wasn’t a Ranger yet when that happened. And I just smashed that other guy’s face into a desk. It’s different than punching

goldenboi: Our max is 0. We shouldn’t punch/hurt anyone

trini//: that Brad guy deserved it

lil z: u weren’t even there t

princess.hart: He did deserve it though

goldenboi: That shouldn’t be an excuse

trini//: oh well

goldenboi: Trini

goldenboi: Do not punch the new girl

trini//: I never said I was going to. Calm down, dude

goldenboi: Look, if that does become a problem, we’ll figure it out later. Right now we need to stop jumping to violence as our answer for everything

goldenboi: More importantly, we need to figure out why we can’t fully morph before another attack springs on us.

Chapter Text

If she’s going to be completely honest, Trini isn’t really looking forward to Kimberly meeting her brothers. She’d rather they not interact at all . Mostly because she doesn’t know what they’ll do or say, and not knowing how things are going to play out between three of the most important people in her life is… scary. But, now that she’s let Kim into her house and her brothers are just in the other room, she can’t exactly back out now.

“So…” Trini gestures at her brothers, ready to do the formal introduction thing so they can get it over with. But she gets cut off.

“No. Wait,” Jackson says. “She said she knew our names. She can tell us who we are.”

She really isn’t looking forward to all of these totally unnecessary “tests” that she’s sure they already have planned out, but Kim doesn’t look fazed by it.

“Alright.” Kim nods, and then points at each of them. “Jackson and Dante. See?”

Dante stares at her. “Could be a lucky guess…”

“Guys,” Trini starts, but they don’t pay any attention to her.

Kimberly shakes her head. “It wasn’t a guess. I know that Jackson is taller and always wears shoes in the house. And Dante loves the color blue,” she says, pausing to look at the blue hoodie he’s wearing. “And has a gap tooth like his sister.”

The boys look at each other, and then lower their voices to have their own conversation for a moment. Trini is still staring at Kim, both in awe and confusion.

“How did you know that?”

“What do you mean? You told me.”

She told her? What? “When?”

“I don’t know. You mentioned the blue thing a while ago. The gap and height thing was from… Sunday night, I think. And I’m not sure about the shoe thing.”

Trini isn’t sure what conversation they might’ve been having that could’ve led to that information, but… the fact that Kim does know this stuff is proof enough that she must’ve said something at some point. “You remember that?”

“You don’t?”

“Uh, not really.”

“Okay, Kim ,” Jackson says, the focus brought back to all four of them. “Why were you in Trini’s room the other night?”

Maybe they should’ve gone over how they’d answer questions like these.

“Do you guys ever get nightmares, and go to Trini, or your parents, or stay up with each other so you’ll feel safer?”

Dante shakes his head. “ No .”

Well, that’s a lie. But Trini gets it. She wouldn’t admit her nightmares to just anyone, either.

“Well, I get them sometimes,” Kim says, shrugging. “That’s why I came over here. I was too scared to sleep on my own that night.”

That’s a lie, too. But she appreciates how Kim is helping her keep up the fearless older sister image her brothers have of her.

“Okay…” They’re both still giving her their most intimidating glares.

And that’s when Trini turns the TV on, hoping the background noise will relieve some of the tension she feels. So far it isn't going terribly, but that could easily change.

"So, I heard you guys are fans of the Power Rangers," Kim says, and suddenly she has their full attention. "I saw what you painted on Trini's wall; it was pretty cool."

"Thanks."

"Is your favorite the blue one?" She asks, looking at Dante.

He nods. "Yeah. He likes yellow."

"Really?" Kim glances at Trini, but Jackson assumes the look is her asking about Trini's favorite Ranger.

"She's too cool to like the Power Rangers."

"What? That's not what she told me." Kimberly smiles and shakes her head, turning back to Trini for a moment. "Have you been lying to your brothers?"

She knew she'd have to worry about what Kim might say, in addition to her brothers. For now she's just trying to keep her mouth shut so she doesn't make things worse.

"Did she tell you her favorite?" Dante asks, and Kim still has that dumb smile on her face.

"She did, but I don't know if I should tell you guys..."

Jackson looks back and forth at the girls, and says, "What? You have to."

Kim shrugs, and then motions for the boys to come towards her so she can whisper the answer to them. They back away with huge smiles, throwing amused looks at Trini.

"Are you serious? No way."

"Yes way. I swear."

She's seriously questioning why she loves these three idiots so much.

"What'd you tell them?"

"You wanna take a guess?" Kim asks, ignoring the glare that's being directed at her. Trini knows that she's challenging her, but she also knows that getting it wrong wouldn't be fun. Because if she says pink, which she thinks would be the obvious answer, and she's wrong, both Kim and the boys would latch onto that and never let her forget it. But, if she says something else, like yellow, and the answer was pink, that wouldn't look very good, either.

"No."

After that, it's like Kim and her brothers have formed some sort of Not Trini club with how much they're messing with her. [If you asked Kimberly, it'd really be called the, We Love Trini club.] But, on the bright side, they're getting along. Remarkably well, actually. More than Trini thought they'd be. She's taking that as a good sign. Especially because things seem to be going well the entire time leading up to when Kim has to leave.

She tenses up again when Dante tries to give a threatening glare--it just comes off as cute--as Kim's about to go out the door, and says, "If you're gonna be our sister's girlfriend, you better not hurt her."

Because obviously it wouldn't be enough to just tell them to behave and expect it to actually happen.

"I won't. But if I do, I understand that you'll have to protect her and take your vengeance out on me."

The tough act that the boys have been trying to put on falls immediately after the door closes again. They turn to Trini and almost simultaneously say, “I love her.”

She smiles. “Yeah… Me too, guys.”

 

---

 

Pink Lemonade

[princess.hart | trini//]

trini//: kim

trini//: my brothers kept calling u my girlfriend

princess.hart: They sure did

trini//: and u didn’t correct them, so

trini//: we’re going for that label now?

princess.hart: I mean, I figured just saying I was ur gf would go over better w/ ur brothers than trying to explain it in a different way

trini//: alright, ya, that makes sense

princess.hart: So they don’t hate me?

trini//: no, they love u

princess.hart: Seriously? Awesome.

princess.hart: I’m Jackson and Dante approved

trini//: u should be proud

princess.hart: I am

trini//: u never told me how therapy went

princess.hart: Oh, right

princess.hart: I guess it went better than last time

princess.hart: I at least talked, so she appreciated that

trini//: small steps are still steps

princess.hart: yeah

trini//: u don’t have to talk abt it

trini//: that stuff doesn’t have to leave that room.. It all stays in there

princess.hart: But I can’t rant abt therapy to my therapist

princess.hart: I can, but it wouldn’t have the same effect

trini//: that’s true

princess.hart: But rn I’d rather not talk abt it

princess.hart: Maybe later

trini//: ok, i’ll be here

 

---

 

Rainbow Rangers

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | princess.hart | trini//]

lil z: hey, u guys remember how i left lunch to grab some books from the library earlier??

lil z: i found tommy in there chillin

trini//: ...ok?

lil z: she has lunch the same period as us

trini//: I don’t see where ur goin w/ this

lil z: omg t

lil z: i sat w/ her for a while and we bonded over the train thing

lil z: then i asked if she always sat in there for lunch, and she said she has been since last week. And i was like, “bro u aren’t eating lunch??”

lil z: cause i know from experience those librarians crack DOWN on ppl trying to eat in there

lil z: so she shook her head but wouldn’t rlly say anything else, and i was like “bro, u should eat w/ me and my buds on monday. I’d extend the invite further, but i’m not always there so i don’t wanna abandon u. But if u like us u can stay”

lil z: “food is the most important meal of the day”

lil z: she thought that was funny, so she said she might drop by if she sees us

trini//: oh

goldenboi: Cool

billyc: Nice!

lil z: ya, i was thinkin abt how kim said she had ppl messin w/ her and she got all emo and called herself “an outcast” or w/e, and I think she prob doesn’t have anyone else to sit w/ so she stays out of the lunchroom to avoid being a bigger target

goldenboi: Makes sense

 

lil z: so apparently there’s a fight down in the history wing??

goldenboi: Doesn’t Kim have history this period?

princess.hart: Oh my god. Fuck you, Jason

goldenboi: It was a genuine question

princess.hart: I do. But I’m not in the fight. Our teacher is kind of blocking the door so we can’t get out there and cause a bigger crowd. And it started before the bell rang, so not everyone made it into the room. There’s only six of us here

princess.hart: I’m bummed. I wanna see it.

goldenboi: Where’s Trini?

trini//: dude, I’m on the complete opposite side of the school

goldenboi: I’m just trying to cover all of our bases. I’m fine as long as it doesn’t involve one of us.

trini//: “all of our bases” aka, Trini and Kimberly

trini//: bc ur convinced we cause all of our problems

trini//: it’s because we’re girls, isn’t it?

goldenboi: It’s bc u both try to solve things w/ violence

trini//: the “because we’re girls” thing was a joke, but OKAY

trini//: I don’t solve things w/ violence, I run away from my problems. Where have you been?

lil z: u did try to beat up amanda that one time didn’t u

trini//: I’m not talking to u Zack, i’m talking to J

princess.hart: Just me and T solve things w/ violence? Says the boy who literally slapped Colt Wallace in the face his first day in detention

goldenboi: We weren’t rangers then

princess.hart: Exactly, so stop bringing up the Ty thing when u talk abt our violent tendencies

trini//: yeah, and u and zack got in that fight in the pit after he crashed his zord, so???

trini//: who are the violent ones now??

lil z: they’re right

goldenboi: gtg can’t get caught w/ my phone out

trini//: coward

princess.hart: Are you stressed abt smth, Jace?? You’ve been on edge a lot lately

lil z: i thought we covered everything at that bonfire the other night

trini//: maybe it’s just his dad being difficult again

trini//: I need to get back to class too. Seeya

lil z: DEEP SIGH

 

---

 

They don’t notice that Tommy is also sitting in the detention room with them until the teacher calls out her name for roll. When they do notice her, the only person she seems to be looking at is Kimberly. Why? Trini isn’t totally sure since there are four other people currently staring at her, but she’s trying to convince herself it’s because Kim’s name was already called and Tommy just hasn’t noticed Zack yet.

She snaps out of that train of thought when a note flies towards her, and she catches it. The only reason she opens it is because of the pink ink.

“Talk to me. I’m bored.”

Her response doesn’t take long.

“We aren’t even 5 minutes into this thing and you’re already bored?? How did you ever survive this place without me?”

“It wasn’t easy. Not gonna lie.”

She doesn’t mind talking to Kim--she honestly prefers doing that instead of anything else right now. But coming up with conversation topics isn’t something she enjoys doing.

“Did we ever confirm what went down with Jason/Billy the other night? Or was it just one of them?”

Kimberly glances at Jason before she responds to the note.

“I tried texting J but he was playing dumb. I guess I’ll let it slide for now. But if it happens again, I’m running over to one of their houses and breaking the door down. “

She’d say, “same,” but she never had to experience what Kim and Zack did. Unfortunately, though, if she doesn’t have a good response to that, the conversation has to go somewhere else.

“You wanna know something dumb?”

“Always.”

“I low key miss playing the keyboard with you guys”

Kimberly stalls her response for a moment to smile at Trini.

“Aww. No one’s stopping you. You can still play. Billy still rocks out on his drums”

“No, with you guys I had an excuse. If I do it on my own it’s just lame. That’s why I hadn’t played in 2 years.”

“Right. Your badass rep is fragile.”

Trini rolls her eyes.

“Shut the fuck up. I’m trying to be real with you right now”

“You’re adorable”

“I hate you sometimes”

“Liar”

Their back and forth gets interrupted by another note coming from a slightly different direction. It’s from Zack.

“Hart eyes, motherfucker”

Trini doesn’t even try to respond. She crumbles the note up to throw it back and aims for his head. It almost hits him.

Before she can come up with something to say to Kim, she gets a different idea and throws a note to Billy. She isn’t sure why they would question Jason and not Billy; especially when Jason didn’t give them any answers, and Billy's more likely to tell them the truth.

“Hey B. What were you doing Mon. night?”

Billy takes the time to respond to a note from Zack that he had already opened, and then moves on to Trini’s.

“I started working on a new project at 4, and that lasted for a few hours. And then Jason came over to hang out. Why?”

“Did J stay the night?”

“Yes”

“Okay. Kim was just getting a weird feeling that night, and I’m trying to help her figure out what it was from. No big deal”

It doesn’t hurt to stretch the truth or skirt around what she’s trying to say, does it? Either way, Billy doesn’t seem to notice anything odd about her response.

“Oh. Okay. What kind of feeling?”

“Idk. You’d have to ask Kim. Also, do you mind if I show this note to her?”

“Nope. Go ahead”

After Trini throws the note, Kimberly looks over it, confused at first. Then realization hits. She pulls out a new sheet of paper to respond to Trini.

“Holy shit. I knew it. Can I throw that to Jason? It’ll mess with him”

“Yeah. He’s been roasting us all week. Do it”

Jason doesn’t have much of a visible reaction. He just silently folds the paper back up and avoids eye contact with everyone for the remainder of detention. Kimberly still tries throwing him more notes. Some that say he owed her and Zack an explanation because of what they had experienced, or that she isn’t surprised and she thinks him and Billy make a cute couple. He tosses them all to the side with no intention of actually reading them.

The plan for what they’re doing after detention is supposed to be more training and working on the morphing problem. But while the boys are already leaving, Kimberly tells Trini to hang back for a minute so she can go “check on something.” It leaves her confused until Kim calls out Tommy’s name and jogs away.

Kimberly waits until she’s reached Tommy to say anything more. She didn’t spend much time wondering how Tommy could’ve ended up in detention; it seemed almost obvious once she made the connection. Tommy’s in her History class. That fight took place in the History wing, and half of the class never made it into the room. Including Tommy. “So was it you who got into that fight yesterday?”

“Yep.”

Kim waits for her to continue, but awkward silence is the only thing that follows. She wonders if she should ask about what happened, or just leave to avoid making things uncomfortable.

“I was trying to get to class,” Tommy adds. “Someone made a comment that I didn’t like, and I tried ignoring it, but he kept pushing, so… I just shoved him out of the way at first. He didn’t like that, and things kind of… escalated.”

She hadn’t been paying much attention to anyone else in the room, but whoever the other person in that fight was, they had to be there too. “Who was it?”

“I don’t now. Something Wallace?”

“Colt Wallace.”

Tommy nods. “Guess so.”

That’s something she can understand. Colt Wallace was the same guy who was messing with Billy that morning before they became Power Rangers. “Damn.”

“Yeah.” Tommy’s gaze shifts so that she’s looking over Kim’s shoulder. “Looks like your buddy’s waiting on you. Seeya later, Hart.”

“Yeah, okay.”

 

---

 

“Morph.”

She’s only saying it, and not really focusing or believing in it, but it’s still annoying when nothing happens.

Morph .”

Again. Nothing.

Morph, goddammit!

“T, you can’t force it like that,” Zack says. “That’s my secret. You just… become one with the armor. Feel it. Let it flow.”

Trini glares at him. “Go… hit your head on a rock or something.”

“Your insults and threats don’t hurt as much when you don’t put your heart into it. Like morphing. You have no… passion.”

“Zack, I swear to god. You’re not helping.”

“Maybe you should take a break for a while?” Kimberly suggests, and Trini sighs in frustration.

“Yeah, whatever.”

Jason walks a few steps closer to them to be within earshot. “I think Zack’s right, though. You’re thinking about it too much.”

“Don’t tell me how to do my job,” she says before she can think twice about it. Does it make sense? No. Does she care? Also no.

“What?”

Trini shakes her head. “I don’t know. I’m tired. Leave me alone.”

She falls to the ground, taking the empty spot next to Kimberly, and leans onto her shoulder.

“We’re going to figure this stuff out,” Kim says, but it isn’t very effective.

“Can we just…” Trini says, and then sighs. “Not be talking right now?”

They don't talk anymore. The boys hope that the silence will be enough to clear their minds and help them morph completely, but it still doesn't work. They don't know what could be wrong, but whatever it is, it's something they're really going to have to work to figure out.

 

---

 

“‘Sup, breakfast club,” Tommy says, taking the seat--at their lunch table--next to Kimberly and across from Zack. The other five stare at her for a moment before she adds, “What? There’s five of you, and you were all in detention... You know, the movie… The Breakfast Club .”

Zack nods. “She’s right. It fits amazingly well.”

“Also, I didn’t realize the two of you knew each other.”

Kimberly looks at Zack and nods sadly. “Unfortunately we do.”

Zack gasps. “Don’t be rude, Kimmy. What kind of first impression is that to make on our new friend?”

“She already got her first impression of me, and it’s that I punch people. Me messing with you won’t change much.”

“It’s true.” Tommy nods.

Zack rolls his eyes. “Okay. How about I introduce the rest of the squad? To my right is the lovely, beautiful, wonderful Billy.”

“Oh, yeah. I think we have Math together.”

Billy nods. “We do.”

“And then to Billy’s right we have Jason,” Zack continues. “Former golden boy of this school and town. Some say you can still hear the crowd chanting his name in the halls…”

“Uh. Hi,” Jason says, throwing a hand up to give a mini wave.

“Why would they be chanting in the halls?” Billy mutters to himself as Zack moves on.

“And lastly but certainly not least, unless we’re talking about her height because she’s short as hell,” Zack says all in one breath, and Trini glares at him when he pauses. “We’ve got Trini.”

Trini gives a slight nod.

“So this is the island of misfit toys, huh?” Tommy says as she looks over the entire table one more time.

Kim laughs a bit. “Guess that’s one way to put it.”

Trini initially wants to be offended by that comment, but she knows it wasn’t supposed to be malicious. And “island of misfit toys” does accurately describe their table. For now she’ll let it slide.

“What do you guys do for fun around here? I mean, besides punch people and hang out on abandoned train cars.”

Well ,” Zack says. “Sometimes we eat s’mores… while we’re on the train.”

“Oh that’s next level. Y’all are hardcore.”

Jason shrugs, leaning forward on the table. “We just hang out, you know? Around town, bonfires, movie nights… Normal stuff.”

Wow, okay Jason. Maybe cool it with the, “We’re normal, I swear,” thing before it starts sounding suspicious? What (actually normal) person would say, “normal stuff” when they're asked what they like to do for fun?

Trini kind of zones out of the conversation. She doesn’t know if it’s because she’s tired or uninterested or what , but she’s only retaining forty percent of whatever is being said at the table.

“So, Tommy… Tell us about yourself.” Zack puts his hands together on top of the table and attempts to adopt the most serious expression he can.

Tommy seems slightly caught off guard, but ends up just shrugging. “God, I don't know. Uh… I'm here, I'm queer, and I could really use a beer…?”

That's one thing Trini does hear, so she can't stop herself from--not exactly laughing, but sort of--humming, and then saying, “Same.”

“Really?” Tommy leans forward to look past Kim, an almost suggestive smile on her face.

Trini doesn't know how to take it. Something about it rubs her the wrong way.

“Oh, yeah. We aren't straight at all ,” Zack says, shaking his head. “Like, seriously, we're so gay.”

“And bi,” Kim adds, and then Billy nods.

“Aren't you pan?”

Zack sighs, but he knows Kim only added onto that to mess with him. “ Yes , but I was using it as a blanket statement. Whatever. You get the point.”

“I didn't realize that when people said we flock together that it was actually a thing,” Tommy says. “Back home, I never had a Gay Squad T M.”

“Did you just try to trademark gay squad out loud by saying the letters T and M?”

“Yes.”

Zack stares at her for a moment before saying, “Tommy, I mean this in the most platonic way possible, but I think you've stolen my heart.”

“Seriously? What did I do?” She asks. “Also, how do I stop doing it?”

The others laugh at that, but Zack doesn't even look fazed. "You get me."

“Yo, no offence, but as long as it’s platonic, that's fine by me.”

“Absolutely no offence taken.” He smiles and then shoots up some finger guns. “Is Tommy short for something?”

There's a beat of silence.

“Not anymore.” Her expression conveys the unspoken, “That conversation is ending here ,” well enough for Zack to take the hint.

Then she decides to start up her own topic and guide the focus away from herself.

“So Hart probably told you why I was in detention, but what are you guys in for?”

Hart .

Trini knows she's looking too much into these things. Zack and Jason refer to Kim as “Hart” all the time, so it isn't like it's just something Trini does. Also, it's her last name. But , if Tommy wants to pull some actual Breakfast Club references and starts calling her “Princess,” there might be some trouble.

At least she's self-aware of how ridiculous she's being.

“You’ve probably heard of mine. I punched a guy’s tooth out,” Kim says. This time she doesn't include the, "They put it back."

Jason nods. “People still talk about my screw up, too. I, uh… snuck a bull into our rival teams locker room.”

“Nice. At least you fell from the top of the social ladder gracefully .”

Yeah… gracefully . That isn't exactly how they'd describe evading police and the Amanda picture fiasco , but that stuff is staying a secret for a reason.

“I've got shitty attendance.” Zack shrugs. Sometimes he wishes he could have a cool detention story.

They turn their attention to Billy, and he says, “Oh. I blew up my lunchbox. A couple of times now, actually.”

“You what?”

Billy nods. “It wasn't dangerous. No one was around when it exploded.”

Tommy’s still confused, but with the look she's getting from Jason, she's pretty sure it'd be best to move on.

Then they're all looking at Trini, who has zoned out again. She’s very focused on the pretzels she's eating. Kimberly nudges her arm, and she looks up, slowly processing what they'd been talking about.

“I tore the door off of Kim’s locker, threw it into an open classroom, damaged school property, and then ran away.”

What? ” She's just as confused now as she was for Billy's explanation, but this is a different level of intense and weird.

“You might’ve come across a couple of doorless lockers. If you do, that’s their doing,” Zack says, gesturing at Trini and Kim.

Kim just rolls her eyes. “She had a reason behind it. People were writing some fucked up things on the door, and the school wasn’t doing anything about it. So… She took the situation into her own hands. Literally.”

“Damn.” Tommy sits back, shaking her head. “Wish I had a girlfriend that willing to get detention just to defend my honor.”

Kimberly thinks it’s hilarious, but Trini’s close to choking on those pretzels.

“A what ?” She manages to get out

“God. Sorry,” Tommy says. “Did I get that wrong? You’re just kind of always together, and you look really close. I mean…” She gestures at them--or, specifically, at Kim’s hand that is currently rubbing Trini’s back.

But , that was technically just to calm her down from almost choking.

“Don’t worry about it,” Kim says. “We are close, and you aren’t the first person to assume something like that.”

If Trini hadn’t had the reaction that she did, Kimberly would’ve said that Tommy did get it right. From the conversation they had last Thursday, she had assumed girlfriend was an okay thing to call each other. That they wouldn’t be advertising it to everyone, but if someone asked, they’d confirm. Obviously it isn’t something they’ve talked about enough.

The guys are confused by the reaction and how Kim responded, too, but they don’t say anything about it.

“So…” Tommy continues, leaning on the table in an attempt to appear smooth. “You’re both single, then.”

Kim raises an eyebrow at that, but Trini’s just more confused.

“Dude, I’m kidding. Meaningless flirting.”

Trini’s still having trouble finding her chill.

Zack claps his hands down on the table. “ So , what’d you think of detention, T? Tommy. Big T? Can I call you Big T?”

Oh, so now she’s taking Trini’s own nickname, too.

“No.”

“Okay, uh… Tom--”

“How about you just stick with Tommy for now?”

Zack nods. “Right. Sorry. I can do that. But seriously; detention?”

She shrugs. “I don’t know. It was boring? And I guess those workbooks were pretty stupid.”

Better Choices .” Jason shakes his head. “We don’t even try to do them.”

“I tried once . But I fell asleep before I could get through the first page,” Zack says.

“The first page is the table of contents.”

Zack nods sadly. “Yes, I know… It was terrible.”

Trini zones out of the conversation again for the entire remainder of lunch. They didn’t have much time left anyway; she doesn’t miss out on much.

 

---

 

“Were you okay earlier at lunch?” Kim asks as they pull away from the school and head towards the cliffs. “You seemed kind of… I don’t know. I guess every time Tommy said something, you came off as really… isolated.”

Trini shrugs. “I don’t know her. It’s nothing personal. You know how long it took me to warm up to you guys, and even then we had the saving the world burden to bond over.”

“Okay.” Kim can understand that. Sort of. “And when she indirectly called you my girlfriend… Did that bother you?”

“It surprised me.”

“I only played along like we weren’t together because I wasn’t sure if you were okay with me saying anything. I know you were kind of already outed, but we don’t have to be out yet. If you want to keep this just between us, we can do that. But…”

Trini shakes her head. “It’s just… I don’t know. I feel like we don’t even know what our relationship is right now, and hearing her say it like that so casually--assuming and being right. It was weird to hear.”

“She had a point, though. About us always being together and looking like we’re close. It’s why Amanda and them assumed before we had even talked about it.”

“I just don’t like being told who I am, or who I’m with, or what I’m doing before I can say it first. Even if they’re right,” Trini says. “And I don’t like the idea of hiding. But… God, it’d get worse. Wouldn’t it? If we went public?”

“Yeah, I think it would.”

Trini glances down at her hands before shrugging. “Not like we have anything to worry about. It isn’t like we’re actually girlfriends right now. No labels. No… anything.”

“Trini, if you want--”

“I don’t know what I want. We should put that off for a while anyway. Spend our time figuring out how to morph again.”

 

---

 

Kimberly has snuck into Trini’s room in the middle of the night several times now, so she thinks it’s something Trini should be used to. But, for some reason, it still surprises her when Kim is texting that she’s coming over and ends up climbing in through the window.

Trini doesn’t sneak into Kim’s room very often. It’s happened two or three times--she can’t remember--so she thinks Kim would at least be a little surprised to see her climbing that tree and pulling herself through into the room. She didn’t even send a message to let her know she was coming. But, instead, Kim’s waiting at the window before Trini’s even made it to the top of the tree. She decides not to say anything about it once she's inside.

“What are you doing here?”

“I didn’t feel anything,” Trini says, and immediately realizes that was a bad way to word what she’s trying to say. “I mean… I felt the absence of something. If that makes sense. Like… numbness? I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Kimberly didn’t think numb was even a thing that the others would be able to feel. It feels exactly how Trini described. Like… nothing. “And you knew it was me?”

“Well… The closer two Rangers are, the stronger the connection. Or however Zordon described it.”

“Thanks for coming over, then. But I’m fine. Nothing’s wrong.”

Trini nods, and there’s a beat of silence that follows. “Do you want me to leave?”

“I…” She hesitates. “I’d rather be alone right now, yeah. Sorry.”

“It’s fine. I get it.”

Kim’s relieved to hear her sound genuine instead of passive aggressive.

“You’ll be okay?”

“I’ll let you know if I change my mind.”

 

---

 

The week is going fine until it’s the end of classes on Thursday and Trini has to go back to the Biology room to grab her textbook. She almost doesn’t notice that something's different because the vandalism on random desks is so common, but Kim’s name scribbled onto the surface of her desk catches Trini's attention.

They don’t have a locker to write on, so they just go for a desk in one of her classes. Maybe more than one class, but Trini won’t be able to know that for sure.

After taking a closer look at the desk, she doesn’t think it was Amanda or any of the cheerleaders. The handwriting isn’t very neat, and what’s actually written isn’t as… It doesn’t look like much thought was put into it. It was most likely some pissed off football players, or some buddies of that guy who got the broken nose. But Trini doesn’t care about who did it. It’s still stuff Kim doesn’t need to see right now.

There isn’t anything she can do about it, so she just sighs, leaves the room, and hopes a janitor will get to it over night.

Zack catches up to her the next morning when he notices how early she is. She doesn’t explain what’s going on; just tells him she needs to check on something and he ends up following her to the Biology room. The door is open, but the teacher isn’t there yet. And the desk hasn’t been touched. She’ll have to clean it herself.

She finds some paper towels and cleaning spray in one of the cabinets, and Zack stands off to the side watching her.

“Why don’t you tell a teacher about this?”

Trini shakes her head. “I don’t trust the school with stuff like this anymore. Cleaning it and people writing new stuff is one thing, but they aren’t even trying to crack down on who’s doing it. And lockers are more noticeable than desks. They’d just leave this for a week before trying to clean it.” Scrubbing the marker--sharpie--whatever it is--isn’t going too well, but she isn’t giving up just yet. “And I don’t want her to see this. These past few nights haven't been going very well for her; this’d only make it worse.”

“She’s lucky to have you on her side.”

She scoffs. “I don’t even know what I’m doing. I'm just..." She trails off, and then lowers her voice. "She’s way out of my league.”

Zack shakes his head. “Come on, T. Don’t say that. You know it’s not true.”

Trini doesn’t respond to that. “This isn’t gonna come off. Help me switch our desks.”

Switching the desks is only a temporary fix, but it's all she can do right now.

“What?”

“I’m putting her desk where mine is. You grab mine to replace hers.”

Even after they’ve done that and left to go to their own classes, Zack wants to go back to the end of that conversation. To ask where the hell that kind of thinking came from. But Trini cuts him off every time he tries to bring it back up.

 

---

 

“Okay. So, we’re calm…” Jason says, closing his eyes and hoping the others are doing the same. “And then it's… morphin' time .”

“That didn’t work.”

He opens his eyes and glares at his left. “Thank you, Trini . I couldn’t tell.”

“You know what, Jason? How about you shut the fuck up,” Trini says. “I can’t morph at all , and you still have half of your suit. Don’t get sassy with me.”

“Guys, don’t fight about this. We need to be working together,” Billy tries to say.

Kimberly nods. “Exactly. That’s the entire point of morphing. We have to be on each other’s wavelength.”

“Don’t count on that happening anytime soon,” Trini mumbles, and Zack shakes his head.

“Angst children.”

Jason’s armor begins to fade away from his shoulder, and then he’s glaring again. “Wow. Thanks , Trini.”

She had barely said anything . Why is it suddenly her fault? “What are you talking about? This is all you, dude.”

“You’re the one yelling at me about how superior I am for being able to morph so much.”

“Who’s yelling?” She asks, even more confused. “I don’t yell , Jason. But, you are definitely yelling.”

He shakes his head, trying to focus on the Morphing Grid again. “Sorry that yelling is the only way I know how to argue. I can’t get a word in with my father otherwise.”

“Don’t fucking go there. I have my parents yelling at me, too, but you don’t see me parroting that. We aren’t about to have a, 'Whose home life is crappier?' contest right now.”

“Can both of you shut up for two seconds?” Kimberly says. “This approach is not working. And, Jason, stop blaming Trini for this. It isn’t her fault.”

“Oh, no, it is. He’s right about one thing. It is my fault that we have this problem in the first place, but not specifically right now .”

Jason throws his arms up in frustration. “I didn’t just spontaneously lose my armor on my own.”

That’s exactly what you did, Jason,” Trini tries to say calmly, but fails.

Billy nods a bit, but his voice is quieter than everyone else’s. “She’s right.”

He doesn’t think it’ll actually work, but Zack figures he should at least try to step in. “Guys, we just need to--”

Jason closes his eyes. “Not now, Zack.”

“Don’t yell at him. He’s trying to help,” Trini says.

“Kim’s right. This isn’t working. So he’s not helping.”

“It’s the thought that counts,” Zack mumbles, and Billy’s nodding at him.

“You are helping, Zack.”

“Thank you, Blue.”

Jason lets out a deep breath and shakes his head. “You know what? This is her fault. This is about us being on the same wavelength? How long have you been hiding stuff from us? Only talking about your problems when we feel them and bring it up to you. You froze out there in the middle of that fight, Trini. You just stopped. And I know that you’ve got history with Rita, more than me or Kim or Zack, but Billy died out there because of her. He didn’t freeze the other day, and he isn’t having any trouble morphing. And why do you think Kim’s having almost just as much trouble as you are? You’re spending so much time together, but not doing anything about whatever the hell is going on between you two. You don’t think that’s fucking up our connection? Because it is.”

Everyone’s silent for a moment before Zack quietly says, “What the hell, Jace?”

And then Trini processes what he said. “Excuse me. Say that again? ‘Cause I don’t think I heard that right.”

“We should’ve expected it, I guess. You can’t even communicate with your own family, I don’t know why we ever thought you could talk to us.”

“Jason…” Billy says this time.

Kimberly’s just watching Trini because she can feel how Trini’s ready to just wail on Jason. They don’t need another fight right now. But because they’re at the grid, Trini can jump down from her platform and get to Jason before Kim can get to her. Trini punches Jason before anyone can process what’s happening.

Jason recovers quickly and punches right back.

“Guys stop it!”

They don’t know who said it, but it doesn’t matter because they’re still very determined to keep going at each other. Until Kimberly risks getting hit and puts herself between the two of them, pushing Trini back, and Zack is running around to grab Jason and keep him back, too.

“Get off of me,” Jason says, struggling to get out of Zack’s hold, but he isn’t successful.

“Zordon?” Billy asks, looking up at the large screen that has been oddly quiet.

The only thing he responds with is, “If you insist on fighting, do it in the Pit.”

“That’s not helpful, Big Z,” Zack says, still trying to focus on holding Jason back.

Kimberly is more successful with calming Trini down, having now let go of her, but still standing in front of her to block her view of the boys. “It’s not worth it, T. You’re both pissed right now. You need to cool off.”

“Who the hell does he think he is?”

She sighs. “I don’t know.”

He’s our fucking leader? Whatever. Good job keeping your team together by yelling at me about how much this isn’t your fault, you jackass,” Trini tries to call over Kim’s shoulder.

Billy steps forward, now on their side of the room. “Should we try talking this out, or postpone that for later?”

“I think we need to take some time to calm down,” Kim says, stepping back so she isn’t blocking Trini anymore. “Jason needs to think about what he’s doing before he pisses any of us off even more.”

Zack reluctantly lets go of Jason. “Are you gonna be okay, T?”

She sighs, shaking her head. “I’m gonna go home. See you guys later.”

They wait for her to leave before doing anything else, and then Kim’s walking forward and lightly shoving Jason’s shoulders.

“What is wrong with you?”

Jason still looks like he’s trying to calm down, and Zack’s quickly stepping forward to put himself between the two of them.

“Are we gonna have to hold you back, too?”

Kimberly shakes her head. “No. I just want to know where the hell that came from.”

“She said it herself that this was her fault,” Jason says.

“That isn’t an excuse to be a dick. You remember when she finally did open up to us? She came out to us at that first bonfire, right? And then she asked if we were just Rangers or if we were friends, and we couldn’t answer her. Why do you think she wanted to close herself off again after that? She was talking to us, Jason. But after yelling at her like that, I can see why she wouldn’t want to anymore.”

Jason doesn’t respond.

“And you know why she doesn’t want to talk to her family, so why would you compare us to them?”

He isn’t responding because he doesn’t want to admit that he was wrong. Kimberly’s hoping that’ll change after he cools down.

 

---

 

Pink Lemonade

[princess.hart | trini//]

princess.hart: Jason was wrong, u know

princess.hart: About us driving the team apart

princess.hart: If you could feel that it was me the other night, then I think it’s pretty obvious that we’re way more connected than not

trini//: guess that makes sense

trini//: w/e I don’t have anything to say to him rn

princess.hart: Yeah, I don’t know where that came from

trini//: don’t care

trini//: I don’t even want to talk abt it anymore

princess.hart: ok

princess.hart: Are you home right now?

trini//: where else would I be?

princess.hart: You in your room?

trini//: yep

princess.hart: I’m gonna be at ur window in like 5 minutes

princess.hart: I won’t stay, but I wanted to stop by for a sec

trini//: ok… there a reason why, or?

princess.hart: You’ll see. Just smth I want to say real quick in person.

trini//: alright...

 

---

 

When Kimberly shows up and Trini opens the window, she sort of hovers there instead of fully coming into the room. Trini stays on the other side of the desk, confused, but waiting for whatever it is they’re about to talk about.

“Zack told me about what you did with that desk in Bio.”

Oh. That.

“Thank you.”

Trini shrugs. “No big deal.”

“Trini... You could’ve just warned me that it’d be there when I got to class. You didn’t have to wash it off or switch our desks, but you did anyway, and… I just… Thank you .”

“Yeah.”

“And I’m not…” Kim continues, but she almost looks like she doesn't want to say anything more. That it'd be better to just leave it at that and go. “I’m not out of your league.”

Trini looks up, shaking her head. “I’m gonna kill him.”

“No, he didn’t do it to be a jerk. He…” She trails off, and then sighs. “That's not the point. If anything, you’re too good for me. But this isn't something we're going to agree on, so how about we compromise and say we’re both more than good enough for each other?”

“Okay.”

"And I am going to leave now, but I don't want to put off figuring out what's going on between us. Because I don't think either of us knew what 'no labels,' 'let whatever happens, happen,' meant. So we never did anything about it. And I want to do something about it. I want there to be an us."

Trini nods. "Me too."

"So, we can talk later. But for now... Don't freak out."

Trini almost takes a step back when she realizes Kim is moving more into the room, but she keeps herself where she is. "What?"

"I said don't freak out."

"Yeah, but if that's all you say, and you don't tell me why, what makes you think I wouldn't freak out?"

"Oh my god. Just shut up and come here."

Kim moves forward, a knee on the desk to brace herself as she tries to get closer. But even when Kim's closed almost all of distance between them, Trini still isn’t entirely sure of what the hell is happening. And then they’re kissing, and Trini’s trying to keep herself stable by holding onto the desk, but she ends up knocking half of its contents to the floor instead.

When Kim tries to pull away, Trini finds a way to keep holding onto her; grabs Kim's shirt in one hand, the other going up to her neck. She didn’t have enough time to properly experience that kiss--she was mostly trying to get over the initial shock--so they aren't done just yet. Also, she’s been waiting for this long enough that she’s going to get more than just one kiss.

Kim eventually manages to break away from Trini successfully, despite both of their reluctance.

“I told you I was stopping by for a second .”

She's still stunned for a solid ten seconds before she can talk again. “You’re just gonna leave me hanging like this?”

Kimberly shrugs, backing up carefully enough to avoid causing a bigger mess of the desk. She hangs in the window for a second, and then says, “I’ll have to come up with a way to make it up to you.”

She's gone before Trini can respond, so she ends up muttering, “Damn,” only to herself.

Considering that whole fight she had with Jason, Trini was dead set on calling the day a total disaster. But, after that... She's going to call it a good day. A better than good day.

 

---

 

The plan was for everyone to meet up at the train car after school “in about an hour and a half.” Zack had suggested it because he wants a chance to hang out with Tommy outside of school and without The Man around. The girls get there early. Tommy having walked, and Kimberly driving herself and Trini. They had expected to wait, but Kimberly spots Jason’s car a small walk away from where they’re supposed to meet up, and Tommy’s already walking away to scope out the area. Jason was supposed to be driving Billy up here with him, so if they can catch up with the boys, they'll only need to wait on Zack. And it shouldn't take him long to join them.

At first, they don’t see anything. It's quiet, and there isn't anything that stands out as odd. But when Kim and Trini get close enough to the car, they get a rush of panic. And… heat?

Kimberly’s trying to say, “No, wait,” because Tommy’s pressing her face up against the window to look into the car, and she knows what that feeling means, but it’s too late.

She jumps away with her hands over her eyes. “Oh, god. Shit. Fuck. Why-- I don’t know them well enough to see that. Fuck .”

“Do we want to ask?” Kim asks carefully.

“Uh, take a wild guess.”

“Were their clothes off…?”

Tommy shakes her head. “They had pants, but does it really matter? Am I still scarred? Absolutely.”

“It could’ve been worse,” Trini says, shrugging.

Tommy has a hand to her chest, looking up at the sky. “Dear God, I’m a nice person. Generally speaking. Why… Why would you let me look in that window? Why…? I don’t ask for much. I don’t ask for anything, actually. Maybe that’s why you didn’t have my back...”

“What the hell is happening?” Trini whispers. “Is she having some sort of crisis right now?”

“So this is my fault, then… Well… Fuck past me for screwing myself over. What a bitch.”

“What?” Trini asks again, but this time it’s mostly to herself.

Billy and Jason finally get out of the car, Billy smiling as he says, “Hey, guys! You’re early.”

Jason, however, isn’t looking all that cheery. “Yeah… You’re early…”

“Whatever.” Kim shakes her head. “You’re the ones who decided to risk hooking up down here, where we said we’d meet up .”

“The sun’s still out, dude,” Trini adds. They didn't even have the cover of night to keep themselves more hidden.

The sound of footsteps jogging towards them is what catches all of their attention and stops Jason from any kind of response. They all turns towards the sound to see Zack walking up to join them. “‘Sup, guys. I was looking for you up there.”

Tommy nods, pointing at Jason and Billy. “Yeah, we were looking for them.”

“Why do I feel tension?”

“Your friends have no fear. But I, unfortunately, now have a lot of fears. Namely, looking into seemingly abandoned cars.”

“What?”

Kim tries to think of a casual way to word it, but ends up saying, “They were hooking up. Sort of. Almost.”

“Oh. Damn, guys… Risky.”

Trini notices that Zack has an odd look on his face for a moment before he snaps back into his smiling upbeat self again.

Weird.

She isn't looking forward to this six person bonding experience; whatever it ends up being.

Chapter Text

There are plenty of open seats around the (fireless) fire pit, but something compels Trini to hop on top of the train car instead of being at the same level as everyone else. Kim joining her isn’t surprising , really, but she had been expecting to sit up there on her own. Having someone next to her is actually a relief.

“Uh, T? What’d you get up there for?” Zack asks, glancing around at the others who have adopted his more ‘traditional’ seating choice.

When Trini doesn’t answer right away, Kim decides to help her out. “It makes her feel tall.”

She doesn't mind the height joke. Normally she might be more “offended” or critical of it, and would playfully punch Kim in the arm, similarly to how she might do to Zack, but it draws the attention away from something potentially being wrong. [Also, Kim's kind of right about it making her feel tall.]

“So why are you up there with her?”

“‘Cause she likes me, and I’m cuter than you,” Kim says, smiling and kicking her feet out against the side of the train a couple of times.

Zack looks at the ground, seriously contemplating that answer. He shakes his head and lowers his voice to say, “I want to argue with her, but she's right …”

Kimberly nudges Trini’s side with her elbow. “You okay? You seem tense again.”

Trini shrugs. “It’s just kind of weird being up here and having someone else in the group.”

“I don’t think she has anyone else around here. And even if she wanted to go find other people to hang out with, we really are the island of misfit toys. If she fits in with us , I don’t think we should push her away.”

“I’m not saying we should push her away . It’s just… The five of us have this thing , you know? And being up here… It’s different when we’re at school, but here… It gives me a weird feeling.”

“It isn’t like we’re telling her about the Ranger thing. That’s always going to be ours ,” Kim says. “She isn’t going to change anything, T. Inviting her to hang out with us once or twice a week isn’t going to hurt anyone.”

Trini nods so they can move on, but she doesn’t really believe that.

Kimberly turns back to the others. “Actually, are we going to acknowledge what just happened with J and B?”

Jason shrugs as Billy looks to him for help answering. “We’ve been talking about it for a while, and I asked Billy to try keeping it between us so we could get used to it on our own time. I just wanted time to figure things out.”

“Looked like you were well past figuring things out from what I saw,” Tommy says.

“Yeah, it sort of got away from us.” Jason shakes his head almost immediately after finishing his sentence. “Not Billy. It got away from me.”

Billy nods. “I really wanted to tell you guys. It was weird not saying anything about it around you, when Jason and I would talk about it so much.”

“We can talk about it more later. Right now we’re here to hang out and have fun, or whatever Zack calls it.”

Zack claps his hands together and loudly says, “ Right. Let’s move on. You guys wanna play a game? Truth or Dare… Truth or Truth… Never Have I Ever…?”

“Are we in middle school now?” Trini asks, and Zack rolls his eyes.

“Whatever, T. You don’t have to play.”

“No I want to…” Trini’s response is almost muttered under her breath, but it’s at least loud enough for Kim to hear. If anyone else heard it, they don’t say anything about it.

Instead, Tommy says, “What the hell is ‘Truth or Truth’?”

“It’s exactly what it sounds like,” Zack says, as if it’s obvious.

Tommy still doesn’t understand. “But how is that a game…?”

“You’ll see. Look, I’ll start. Tommy ,” Zack says. “If you’re cool with talking about it, did you move here for a reason?”

She shrugs. “My family just needed a change in scenery. There isn’t really a big story there.”

“Cool. Now you ask someone a question. That’s how it’s a game. Like Spin the Bottle, but without kissing.”

“So without the fun part?”

“Exactly.”

Tommy pauses. “Alright. My question is for all of you guys. You were here during those attacks, right? But were you actually in the middle of them? ‘Cause I was in the last one, but I blacked out and didn't get to see much.”

“Yeah. They got pretty… intense,” Jason says.

“So you were there?” She sits up straighter, more interested in the conversation. “You saw how beat up I got. Do you have any battle scars?”

It's a normal enough question to have. Especially considering how new and strange the attacks have been, and throw in that Tommy’s also new here, it makes sense that she'd want to talk about the most interesting thing that has happened to this town. But that doesn't stop it from bothering Trini.

She knows how that sounds. Something Tommy said is rubbing her the wrong way; big surprise. But this is different. She does have battle scars. They don't bother her unless she's having a particularly terrible nightmare or she's trained too hard, but bringing attention to them--on purpose or not--makes her hyper-aware that the entire Rita situation actually happened. It wasn't something she made up in her head.

She absentmindedly rubs her neck as she stares at the empty fire pit.

Well ,” Zack says. “A rock thing punched me and I almost flew into a trash can. It’s sort of… poetic, in a way.”

“I think most of us were trying to stay out of the crossfire. I think if any of us have scars, they aren’t physical,” Jason says, shaking his head.

Tommy nods. “Yeah, I get that. So this kind of thing isn't normal around here?”

“Not usually.”

“Thank god. I don't think I could handle living here if giant rocks attacking the town is a regular occurrence.”

Unfortunately, although it wasn't normal, it certainly is now . But they aren't going to mention anything about that to her.

“Which one of us is supposed to ask the next question?” Billy asks.

“Uh… I guess I'll do it,” Jason says, glancing around the group. “Kim. We know you go cliff diving sometimes. Have you ever gone skinny dipping down there?”

“Come on, Jace. That’s just unsanitary.” Kimberly smiles, shaking her head. “But, yeah. I have.”

Zack gasps. “ Kimberly . Look, I admire your bravery, but that’s straight up nasty.”

“Oh, I know.”

Tommy watches them carefully, trying to determine if they’re joking or not. She ends up deciding they look way too serious for it to be a joke. “Damn, guys. I knew you were badass, but I didn’t realize you were cliff diving/skinny dipping badass. I feel like I’ve totally underestimated all of you.”

“Don’t worry.” Zack smiles. “If you spend enough time around us, you’ll absorb some of our awesomeness.”

“Just some?”

“You seem pretty awesome yourself already. You can't have all of our awesomeness on top of your own.”

She leans back in her seat, nodding. “That's fair.”

Kim ,” Zack says suddenly. “Who is your next choice for Truth or Truth ?”

Coming up with questions isn't the hard part. It's coming up with things they can mention around Tommy without blowing their cover or getting too personal too fast. And , they also need to make sure she's included in the game/discussion. “Tommy…? Um… Okay, this is an important one, so really think about it. How do you feel about doughnuts?”

“You mean, like… Just regular doughnuts?” Tommy asks, and then Kim nods. “I don’t know. They’re okay, I guess…”

“A lackluster answer, but I’ll let it slide…” Zack says. Kim was honestly only asking it as a joke, but she knows how seriously Zack takes his love for doughnuts. The team’s love for doughnuts. If Tommy had said she doesn’t like them at all , they definitely would’ve had a problem.

“I feel like I’m missing something here…”

“Doughnuts are… life. Krispy Kreme, specifically, but that’s still under construction, so we settle for what we can get.”

Jason shakes his head. “He’s got a special place in his heart for those things. You’ll get used to it.”

“I’m sure I will.” Tommy smiles. “So, my turn again? Uh… Zack. Z. Can I call you Z?”

Zack nods. “Most do.”

“Cool. So do you hang out here very often?”

“Yep. It’s my thing. My place. I live close by.” Zack gestures towards Kim, and then motions vaguely behind himself. “My girl Kimmy does, too, but she’s got dibs on that area over there.”

“So you own the entire mountain and mines area.”

“Yes.”

Billy’s about to say that they don’t own this area, but Jason leans over to explain that they’re just joking around. And then Zack directs his next question at Billy.

“How’s your mom, and also would she be down for a… movie night?”

Trini, currently leaning on Kimberly, rolls her eyes. “I swear to god, Zack. I can’t get away with another movie night right now. Last time I barely had enough time to get in my house, be seen by my parents, and jump out the window to catch up with you guys.”

“I thought we were going to Jason’s again to continue watching The Land Before Time with Pearl,” Billy says.

Well , I wanted to invite Tommy,” he says, throwing a look in her direction. “And I feel like we should start something new to ease her into the place. Jason’s can get chaotic, and Billy’s mom makes the absolute best snacks.”

Kimberly waits for them to mention her place, but it doesn’t come up. “Wow, okay. Why don’t you just get on with it and say my place sucks?”

“It doesn’t suck; you’re just specific about when you let us come over.” Zack pauses, glancing at Trini before adding in a lower voice, “ Some of us, anyway.”

“I think she’d be fine with it, but I’ll have to ask to be sure,” Billy says. “What would we watch?”

“First of all, Tommy would you be down for that? No hard feelings if you aren’t.”

Tommy shrugs, looking around the group at all of them. “Uh, sure…? I mean, if you want me there, then I don’t see why not.”

“What kind of movies do you like?”

“I dunno. I’m not picky.” She pauses. “That’s a lie; I’m super picky. Mostly just indecisive. You’d be better off choosing something on your own.”

“Okay. B, why don’t you choose something this time?”

“Oh. Okay. I’ll look at what I have and get back to you with some options.”

“Sweet.”

Billy looks up at the train, having decided who he’d question. “Trini, have you…? Trini?”

“I think she’s out, dude,” Tommy says, also looking in that direction.

Zack almost doesn’t buy it because she was just talking to them. But, he also knows how out of whack her sleep schedule can be. It isn’t that far-fetched that she’d be able to fall asleep that quickly.

“Seriously?” Kim asks, trying to look down at Trini, but not succeeding. She thought Trini felt oddly calm, but wasn’t questioning it because she didn’t want to jinx anything.

“Yeah, just let her be. She could use the sleep,” Jason says. And he really means it, but he also knows that Trini wouldn’t have taken it seriously if she had been awake to hear it. But if he wants to be a good leader--a good friend --he needs to apologize for being a dick.

Billy ends up asking Jason a question instead, and from there they move on. It doesn’t last much longer; mostly because they run out of good questions to ask each other and it’s starting to get dark. Before they wake Trini up and head home, Tommy holds everyone up to tell them something.

“I just wanna… I don’t mean to be sappy, but I just wanna thank you guys for sort of… taking me into your group when you really didn’t have to. That was… that was really cool. I’m not used to this sort of thing.”

Zack almost jumps out of his chair. “You’re awesome. Why wouldn’t we want to hang out with you?”

Tommy smiles, but shakes her head. “You barely know me, dude.”

“I know you’re awesome. That’s good enough for me.”

“Alright, well… Thanks.”

“Yeah. We’ve got you, buddy.”

 

---

 

The five of them “talking about Jason and Billy later” ends up just being Trini getting information solely from Billy. Before she can jump into another one on one with Jason, Trini would rather have a general idea of what’s going on with him. And now that their thing is out in the open, Billy can talk about it all he wants.

“All he wants” turns out to be a lot.

For a while he was just talking about how the two of them got closer, and the conversations they had before Jason asked if they could be more official and exclusive. Trini stopped him when he mentioned the first time they kissed. She tried redirecting the topic to why Jason was keeping it a secret and why he’s been acting so… not himself.

“He’s scared to tell people,” Billy says simply. “We’ve talked about it a lot, he told me it isn’t because he’s ashamed of me or being with me, but he said he’s scared of how people at school and how his family would react. Well, how his dad might react. Because right now everything’s between us, and it’s nice and there isn’t anything we have to worry about. He doesn’t like pressure.”

“I can understand being scared, but I don’t know if I can believe that’s all that’s going on with him. Did he say why , or… Did something happen?” Trini isn’t sure of what direction she needs to take with these questions, so she’s winging it.

Billy hesitates before shaking his head. “He doesn’t want me to tell you that…”

“Okay, but why would he be afraid to tell us ? I know that you know we have your backs.”

“I asked him that, too, and he said everyone else has their own problems that they’re dealing with. Zack and his mom, you and your nightmares, and Kim and the rough patches she’s been having. And I haven’t been doing as well as Jason said I am. He was over exaggerating because he was upset.”

Jason keeping his problems to himself because he doesn’t want to make anyone else’s problems worse? That seems to be something they all have a problem with doing.

“I tried to tell him that we would still be here for him like we always have been, but he just wanted time… When you found out about us, he freaked out because you weren’t finding out from either of us. But he didn’t address it, so all of the stress was building up to him being irritable and rude and eventually blowing up at you. He wants to apologize, but he’s trying to come up with the best way to do it.”

Trini sighs. “We have so many problems…”

“We do.”

“Thanks for talking to me, B.”

Billy nods. “It’s no problem, but I think you should talk to Jason, too. Maybe when he apologizes, because if he can tell you the stuff he didn’t want me to tell you, you might understand what happened better.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll hear him out.”

 

---

 

Jason rubs the back of his neck, glancing at the ground as if it has the answers for what he needs to say. It isn’t that he doesn’t like owning up to his mistakes; it just isn’t easy to say it . “Look, Trini, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said any of that stuff about you tearing the team apart, and I shouldn’t have hit you back. I… I haven’t been in a good place, and I wasn’t handling it like I should have.”

Damn right. Trini nods, keeping a straight face. “What’s been going on, dude? Billy tried explaining stuff, but he said there were things you’d want to tell me yourself. And don’t brush that off; you need to talk to us, too.”

He looks back and forth at her and Kim, and glances back at Billy once before sighing. “Alright, I uh… I got into an arguement with my dad a couple of weeks ago. He was home, and I guess the news was on so we were talking about politics. I kept pushing the conversation, and… Long story short, he isn’t going to be buying the house a rainbow flag anytime soon. I don’t know what might happen if he finds out about me and Billy, and having that in my head bled into how I thought about everything else. I know I don’t have to worry about you guys or Zack, and my mom and Pearl are most likely on my side, too. That’s all that should matter to me. It was dumb, but it wasn’t on purpose.”

“That’s not dumb, J. We get it.”

Jason nods. “Yeah, but that’s not everything. I’ve been on both of your backs about not punching people--among other things--but you aren’t the violent ones. I am. I know that. I latched onto how Kim broke that guy’s nose, and ran with it to keep myself distracted. I’m really sorry.”

Jason’s waiting on one of them to respond, but Trini’s still watching him, waiting in case he wants to add something more. Kim has to nudge her to get her to realize what Jason is pausing for.

“Oh, uh. Apology accepted, I guess.”

Kim nods. “Same here.”

“I think someone needs to take over my leader position for a while,” Jason says, finally relieved at getting everything out on the table.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Kimberly starts to say, but Trini doesn’t agree.

“Actually, that might not be a bad idea. It makes more sense for us to trade off every once in awhile instead of Jason shouldering everything all the time.”

Jason nods in agreement. “Does anyone want to take the lead?”

“Even though I’d be great at leading you guys, I can’t handle that stress right now,” Trini says. “But… just hear me out, because I know how this sounds. And don’t tell him I’m the one who said this, but I think we should consider the fact that Zack can almost fully morph right now. He knows what he’s doing more than any of us do.”

Kimberly nods. “Yeah, you don’t want me as a leader. I’d end up blowing the Pit up somehow.”

“I could do it, but I think Zack would do a better job at keeping us on track because even now Jason sometimes has to let me know when I should slow down and save an explanation for later,” Billy adds.

“So we just need to make sure he’s okay with that. Do you think he’ll be up for it?” Jason asks, and Trini shrugs.

“No idea. Let’s just go find him and figure this out now.”

It doesn’t take them long to meet up with Zack and pitch their idea of him taking the reigns to lead the team. At first, he doesn’t have a reaction. And then he smiles and almost quietly says, “Are you serious?”

“Very serious, dude. Swear.” Jason reaches out to pat him on the back a couple of times.

So they can assume that the smile means a yes ?

“Zack? Are you crying?” Trini asks, but instead of getting an answer, Zack pulls her and Jason--the two people closest to him--into a hug.

“If my arms were longer I’d grab B and K, too,” he says, smiling even more. “I love you guys so much; I won’t let you down.”

“I hope we’re right about this,” Trini mumbles. By “we” she’s mostly referring to herself. It was technically her idea.

“As my first order of business…” Zack lowers his arms and takes a step back. “I think we should go walk around town and see if we notice anything weird. We haven't seen or heard any activity since the last Putty attack, and there's still the new Green Ranger out there that we need to pin down. If we can at least figure out who they are or where they're staying… maybe we can do something to keep them under wraps until the evil wears off. Sound good?”

Okay, so maybe Zack as a leader really is a good idea.

 

---

 

They don’t find anything out of the ordinary on their first patrol of the town, but Zack still thinks they should check again a couple more times. It doesn’t make sense that they’d get two incidents of Putties coming back into town and see a flash of the new Ranger, and then have everything go back to normal. Is it possible that Zordon was right and the “evil energy” could’ve drained itself out by now? Maybe. But none of them believe that. They aren’t going to make the mistake of letting their guard down just because things look okay.

It’s something they try not to think about during school. Not only do they need to focus on work, but now that they’re spending time with Tommy they don’t need to slip up and say something Ranger related around her.

But slipping up doesn’t turn out to be the hard part for Trini. She was trying to stay calm and give Tommy an actual chance--especially since everyone else likes her and she hasn’t done anything to send up any red flags. And for the most part things are going okay. But that meaningless flirting that Tommy likes to do? Trini just doesn’t get it.

It isn’t directed towards Billy anymore, and Jason rarely gets a comment thrown his way--mostly because Billy and Jason are now (low key) an official thing and she doesn’t want to overstep or make anyone uncomfortable. And now she’s backing off of Trini because she knows how to read a situation, and Trini’s reactions to the flirting are mostly confusion and silence or a quiet, “Yeah…”

Maybe an internal, “What the hell did that wink mean?” or wondering what the deal is with Tommy calling her Gomez . Last names just seem to be a thing with her.

But that leaves Zack and Kimberly who are totally into it and usually flirt back.

It gets weird on the days Zack isn’t there.

Weird for Trini--not anyone else.

It doesn’t even make sense. Trini knows that she needs to get over it, and try to talk to her at the very least. Having another friend isn’t going to be a bad thing. And having another female friend would probably be nice. She makes a silent deal with herself to chill the fuck out and be civil for a while shortly before Kim calls her out for the way she has been acting.

She says that the excuse of them not knowing each other isn’t really working anymore--the way Trini acted around them the first few days of knowing each other is different from the way she’s acting around Tommy now. In Kim’s words, Trini’s “kind of being a bitch”.

She kind of is. Trini isn’t going to argue with that.

Kimberly also says that she can’t come up with very many explanations for why she’s being so “less than friendly”. Trini recognizes what the look on Kim’s face means, and she shakes her head.

“I honestly thought it was jealousy at first, but I don’t think that’s what it really is. I just get a weird feeling from her.” It’d be so much easier if jealousy was all it was. Is it a part of it? Yes, but it isn’t everything. There’s something else.

“What kind of weird feeling? What does that mean?”

“I don’t know. I just…” She shakes her head again. “I don’t know. I’m being dumb.”

“Yeah, maybe a little.”

Between the morphing, and the relationship drama, and what’s going on in all of their heads, there’s a lot that isn’t exactly going well for any of them. “Look, I’ll chill out and give her a chance. That’s all I can promise right now.”

Kimberly might be able to understand Trini’s hesitance if she actually had a reason for it, but she doesn’t. Nothing that isn’t just a vague hand wave described as a weird feeling . That doesn’t mean much. “Okay.”

 

---

 

Black and Yellow

[lil z | trini//]

lil z: you want me to be honest and spill the beans??

lil z: you want me to BARE MY SOUL to u?

lil z: is that what u want, t???

trini//: what

lil z: you want answers abt my love life and why i’m quote unquote “acting weirder than usual every now and then”

trini//: Zack, you don’t have to say quote unquote if you’re actually using quotation marks around the phrase. That’s normally a verbal thing

trini//: also, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to…?

lil z: so i love u and kim

trini//: ok…

lil z: but i low key (high key) SUPER love jason and billy

lil z: nbd, but unless a miracle happens, i am just to be on the sidelines… watching from afar

trini//: you’re into Jason and Billy?

lil z: i am

trini//: the way Jason and Billy are already into each other?

lil z: yes

trini//: oh dude

lil z: yep

trini//: maybe you should talk to them abt it

lil z: trini, i have one simple question for u

lil z: are you INSANE?

trini//: you still call me “crazy girl” so I think u can answer ur own question. And it was just a suggestion. It’s better than doing nothing and suffering

lil z: i mean…

lil z: I’ll think abt it...

trini//: there you go, buddy

lil z: what do u think my chances are

trini//: honestly? No idea

trini//: I've got a lot on my mind, dude. I haven't rlly been paying attention to how u 3 act around e/o. Sorry

lil z: that's ok

lil z: i'm just glad u aren't calling me dumb 4 falling for both of them

trini//: calling u dumb bc u fell for a teammate/fellow ranger?

trini//: 'cause it's not like I know ANYTHING abt what that's like

lil z: it's sorta different, t

lil z: but i suppose u have a point

trini//: it wasn't one-sided for me w/ Kim, or for Jason/Billy. Even if they're already w/ e/o, I'd say ur odds aren't looking too bad

lil z: are we ignoring that I flirted w/ you the first 5 days we knew e/o or that Jason and Kim almost thought about being a thing

trini//: we choose to ignore our mistakes, Zack

trini//: as a team we have chosen to become better, gayer, and not focus on the rocky start of our friendships

lil z: ok just checking

lil z: anyway, I'll let u know if I go for it and say smth

trini//: cool. Good luck

 

---

 

Trini almost doesn’t realize that the combination of panic and nervousness she’s feeling isn’t actually coming from her. It’s been such a constant presence in her life recently that she’s just gotten used to it. But there’s just a slight hint that just feels like Jason , and there isn’t anything she can think of that should be making her anxious. She confirms that it is coming from someone else when Kim asks if she’s also feeling something from one of the guys.

Kimberly thinks he must be terrified about something, but as far as she knew, he was on his way to the school this morning. Wondering what could’ve happened between then and now makes her more nervous than she’s already feeling.

They try texting the group chat first, just in case it isn’t a huge emergency. The one answer they get is Jason telling them everything’s fine and that he’ll explain later.

He walked into school holding Billy’s hand.

It’s a normal enough action, but being Jason Scott and Billy Cranston at this school, it makes a statement. Him being a little (a lot) nervous to more or less go public is understandable.

There’s a mixed reaction. Plenty of people being dicks--having the reactions they were expecting--but also a lot who are kind of into it. Not for the right reasons, but it’s better than everyone targeting them again.

“I'm glad that they can at least walk through the halls without too much happening. It isn't perfect, but... It’d really suck if the school had double the ammo against them. They don’t deserve that,” Trini says offhandedly as she and Kimberly get ready to leave the school.

“How different would it be for us? If we ever…?”

She’s thought about it more than she’d like to admit. “Very. Neither of us are going to have a perfect wonderland, but… Some of the ‘popular’ girls think they’re cute, so they’ve got a lot of the school on their side. You know how it is. We’re girls. It’s different.”

Kimberly nods, glancing at the ground. “I never really thought about it like that.”

“Yeah. It’s fake. But a peaceful fake,” she says. The kind of fake support Jason and Billy are getting is better than real hatred , so she wouldn’t be the one to complain about it. “And if we go public, I think it’s going to take more than just holding your hand for people to get the hint.”

“That sucks. I don't care what they think about me anymore, but..."

"I know. It sucks. It still gets to me too, sometimes." Trini nods. "But I've got you, the boys, and my brothers, and that's all that matters to me. Alpha's kinda cool, too."

Kim laughs. "And what? Zordon can just choke?"

"Yes," Trini says, a completely serious expression on her face. "You're saying that like a joke, Kim, but that's exactly how I feel. If he had a physical form, I'd have beat him up by now."

"No, I believe you. 'Cause I'd have done that, too."

"He's lucky he's stuck in that ship. I think Billy's the only one who wouldn't have tried to deck him at least once." Trini would really like to see Zordon get hit by a Putty. See how he likes it. "What do you think would happen if we tried to punch the wall?"

Kim has thought about that before, but unless the pin art wall has pain receptors, it wouldn't be worth it. "I think it'd hurt you more than it'd hurt Zordon."

"Okay, but you think it would hurt him? Like, just a little?"

"Trini."

It wouldn't be that bad if she just tried it out, would it? Maybe? It's really tempting. "I'll ask Alpha the next time we're down there."

"Oh my god."

 

---

 

Group

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | toliver | princess.hart | trini//]

trini//: what is this

lil z: new gc

lil z: w/ our homegirl tommy

toliver: Oh, hey

lil z: toliver

lil z: to liver?

lil z: ?

trini//: oh my god, zack

lil z: ?

toliver: It's my name

toliver: T. Oliver

toliver: My last name is Oliver

lil z: ohhhhhh

lil z: see, that makes more sense

lil z: i didn't know what was up w/ u and liver, but I was gonna roll with it

lil z: huzzah! to liver!

toliver: "Huzzah"

trini//: "to liver"

princess.hart: Oh my god

toliver: That's the funniest thing that's happened to me all day

lil z: ur welcome

lil z: anyway, welcome to the chat

toliver: Thanks

billyc: The group needs a name

lil z: right u are, billy

 

lil z changed the group name to Misfit Toys

 

lil z: it’s a placeholder, don’t worry. U guys can have at it

trini//: good, ‘cause that’s sorta boring

princess.hart: I’d suggest “Detention Squad” but that’s too similar to another gc I have

 

trini// changed the group name to Gay Squad™

 

toliver: That could work. I’m kinda here for it…

 

lil z changed the group name to Breakfast Club (& Tommy)

 

toliver: Now that’s just rude

 

trini// changed the group name to Life Sucks Sometimes

 

trini//: not to be a pessimist or anything

 

lil z changed the group name to Life is Beautiful

 

lil z: to be an optimist

 

princess.hart changed the group name to Love [ multicolor series of heart emojis ]

 

princess.hart: That’s a joke

princess.hart: Sort of

toliver: In that case, pls don’t take this personally

 

toliver changed the group name to Shut up [ series of knife emojis ]

 

trini//: ok wait, i kind of like that one

princess.hart: Of course u do

princess.hart: Oh my god, wait

 

princess.hart changed their name to kimberly [ heart emoji ]

 

kimberly [ heart ]: I can't believe I've wasted so much time not seizing this opportunity

lil z: how have u not made that pun before

kimberly [ heart ]: I don't know. I'm ashamed of myself

toliver: You've never made a pun w/ ur last name before???

kimberly [ heart ]: No, I have. Just not with an emoji

toliver: ...still

kimberly [ heart ]: But I made a promise to Trini a while ago, so this'll have to be used somewhere else

trini//: what

 

kimberly [ heart ] changed their name to it'skimberly!

 

trini//: oh my god, I can't believe you remember that

it'skimberly!: How could I possibly forget such an iconic moment

it'skimberly!: Since you created mine, do I get to come up w/ ur new screen name

trini//: sure, I guess

trini//: but you can do that later

lil z: ok, now that u two are done, shut up knife emojis is great, but it can’t be the actual name of our group, lbr

 

toliver changed the group name to * Long Drawn Out Sigh*

 

toliver: I honestly think u guys might be more indecisive than I am, and that’s really saying something

lil z: there’s just so many good options...

trini//: honestly i don’t care what we’re called anymore

it'skimberly!: Tbh I think this one works

it'skimberly!: Bc honestly?

it'skimberly!: Mood

goldenboi: We can always change it later.

billyc: Or we can keep it

lil z: ^^

toliver: I appreciate u guys connecting to the emotions that can only be described through a long sigh

trini//: that's like 90% of my emotions when we're at school

toliver: Sameeee

toliver: No offence but ur school kind of sucks

goldenboi: It really does

goldenboi: but we're learning, so that's all I'm asking for

it'skimberly!: Since when do you care abt learning

goldenboi: Since I had to quit football, and now can't fall back on athletics to coast through life

it'skimberly!: Okay then

goldenboi: Speaking of, I have homework. Talk to you guys later

trini//: ughhhhh

trini//: I hate you but also love you for reminding me that I also have hw

it'skimberly!: Same :(

toliver: I finished mine in study hall

toliver: Do we know each other well enough for me to gloat abt that?

toliver: Imma do it anyway

toliver: Have fun suffering, motherfuckers

billyc: I finished mine too, so if anyone needs help again, I'm free!

trini//: thank you Billy

trini//: honestly I might take u up on that offer

trini//: i'll let u know

it'skimberly!: @toliver I hate u for not having any work, but, like, in a friendly way... So, yeah, I think we're close enough for u to gloat

toliver: Sweet. I'm gonna take advantage of you saying that in the future

it'skimberly!: Great...

toliver: Alright. Y'all have fun. I'm gonna go not do homework

trini//: if I could send a glare through text, I'd do that rn

 

---

 

Rainbow Rangers

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | it'skimberly! | trini//]

lil z: ok guys, i love tommy, wbu??

goldenboi: I think she’s cool

it'skimberly!: ^^

billyc: Yeah, I like her

lil z: do u think we should invite her to a Bonding Session. Like, we bonded, but that was for fun and we didn’t get into the deep stuff. It’d be like our Official Campfires,, except not at a fire

lil z: it’ll be like an initiation

lil z: she’s like a part of the group now

goldenboi: Sure

it'skimberly!: Where would it be? When?

lil z: idk, whenever

lil z: we can meet up somewhere… or just talk over text. Sometimes it’s easier when u can’t see the ppl ur talking to

trini//: let us know when u talk to her and what she says

goldenboi: ^^

lil z: aight

 

lil z: ok SO,

lil z: she said she’s down to get real as long as we’re all talking and it isn’t just her throwing her life story at us

goldenboi: That’s reasonable

lil z: also she said she’d be more comfortable talking over text

lil z: less pressure and all that

trini//: cool

lil z: we can figure out a time in the other gc

billyc: Okay

 

---

 

Pink Lemonade

[it'skimberly! | trini//]

trini//: hey what are u doing?

trini//: I guess u might be asleep, but I thought I was feeling smth not good coming from u

trini//: but if you’re fine, just disregard this

 

Not getting an answer within the next half hour starts to make Trini anxious. It is possible that Kim’s asleep, but keeping her phone sound on is also kind of her thing. Normally that would wake her up. Trini can tell that Kim's emotions haven’t changed much--that it’s been a steady state of nothing for about an hour and a half now. She's debating on whether or not it'd be a good idea to run over to Kim's house like she did the last time this happened. But last time she didn't even need to show up in person. Kim had asked her to leave almost as soon as she got there. She might be overreacting.

She might not be.

It doesn't look like she'll get much sleep at this point anyway, so she could just go check on her.

 

it'skimberly!: Sorry, I was swimming. Are you ok?

trini//: yeah, i was just a little worried. But if ur good, that’s good

it'skimberly!: Ok. But are you sure you’re good? I got out of the water to check my phone bc I felt ur nerves

trini//: I think I’ll be fine

trini//: But I’m actually having a rough night. Is ur window open? Even if you aren’t there rn? I just need to get out of my room

it'skimberly!: It’s open, but I can be back in 5 minutes

trini//: you can take your time. I’ll probably fall asleep before u get back anyway

 

They both end up taking their time, but Trini still gets to Kim's room first. She's a bit surprised, but also relieved to have the place to herself for a while. Being alone means she can try to get to sleep without feeling like she and Kim need to talk.

Kimberly doesn't want to talk either, so she's relieved to see Trini already passed out when she gets back. If they really need to, they can talk later. Right now it's time for both of them to finally get some sleep.

 

---

 

*Long Drawn Out Sigh*

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | toliver | it'skimberly! | trini//]

lil z: ok let’s get to the deep stuff

lil z: i’ll break the ice 4 u guys

lil z: my name is zack, my life is a mess, and I’m terrified of dolphins

trini//: why dolphins?

lil z: IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHY DOLPHINS ARE EVIL THEN YOU PROBABLY DON’T WANT TO KNOW

lil z: TRUST ME

lil z: i can’t type that out myself you’ll have to google it

lil z: but i have to warn u that it’s gruesome

billyc: I don’t understand why people like dolphins so much when they’re aggressive carnivores and aren’t inherently good at all

goldenboi: But they’re so cute?

trini//: ho ly hsit

trini//: @goldenboi THEY AREN’T CUTE ANYMORE

toliver: When you said we’d “really get to know e/o” this is not what I was expecting

lil z: u have a right to know of these horrors

trini//: can we talk abt human stuff now? I really regret looking that up

goldenboi: I googled it and everything I know is a lie

goldenboi: Planet Earth is a terrible terrible place

it'skimberly!: You know what? I think I’m just going to take your word for it and NOT get the details

trini//: if i could go back in time 10 minutes and stop myself from typing the words “why are dolphins” and clicking search after it autofilled the word “evil” I would

goldenboi: OKAY moving on now

goldenboi: pls

lil z: gladly

lil z: any q's for us, tommy?

toliver: Yeah. Not one that's rlly personal, but I'm just curious if any of you have seen the power rangers in person?

goldenboi: Yeah, we've sort of seen them. From a distance.

toliver: That's cool

lil z: they're cool

toliver: I have to agree

lil z: do u have a favorite?

toliver: I guess? I mean... I think I have a leaning towards black since he runs the Twitter account, but when he described everyone else I kinda feel a connection to yellow? "could kill you w/ one glare" rlly gets me

it'skimberly!: Yeah, I like yellow too

goldenboi: I'm a fan of blue

goldenboi: and also black

billyc: I like blue

billyc: But I also like red and black

billyc: And yellow and pink

toliver: That's all of them

billyc: Yeah, I like all of them

toliver: Zack?

lil z: ...black... that guy seems chill...

toliver: Trini?

trini//: I don't rlly pay attention to that stuff

lil z: bullshit

trini//: idk, they're all just kinda there doing the same things

it'skimberly!: Really? Hm

lil z: u don't have to pretend to be cooler than us, t. we know ur a secret power rangers fan

trini//: shut up

trini//: ...I like pink, don't make a big deal out of it

lil z: see that wasn't so hard

toliver: As much as this town can kind of suck sometimes, it's kind of cool that you have your very own superheroes protecting everything

toliver: Protecting people. Most of the buildings don't look like they survived that first attack

goldenboi: Also, I think it might've been difficult to stop a giant sentient gold thing from throwing molten gold in random directions

toliver: True

billyc: I'm sure they tried their best to keep everything safe

lil z: ^^

 

lil z: okay, tommy, we've been goin back and forth, and now

lil z: i think we've hit all the Big Stuff

toliver: Yeah, I guess so

lil z: however, we are not yet done here

toliver: Didn't think we were

trini//: why do you always have to be so dramatic, z?? Can you ever just get to ur point right away?

lil z: no, i need suspense

lil z: i just wanted to mention that first lunch we had together

toliver: Ohhhh, no, I think I know what you're talking about

toliver: The nickname thing?

lil z: yes. i know why, but i was just wondering why u aren't a fan of ANY nickname. all nicknames.

toliver: Honestly, after I stopped using the name that "Tommy" was attached to, I wanted to stick w/ one thing for a while. Just one thing /I/ want to be called, u know? And for now I still want to keep it that way. Esp being in a new place. I'd rather ppl get used to "Tommy" than coming up with their own thing to call me. Nothing personal against your nicknames, Z

lil z: no, i get it

lil z: don’t worry

toliver: I figured u guys would be cool abt it. Half the douchebags at school are on our backs for a lot of the same reasons

it'skimberly!: That’s true

toliver: None of us are straight, most of us aren’t white, I’m not cis, Billy’s autistic. Really, it’s just a great big party wherever we go. Tbh there's also probably more we could throw in, but to save time and my phone battery, I'll refrain from getting into details

it'skimberly!: Thank god we found each other

lil z: we ARE a big party. turn up guys

trini//: I love your enthusiasm, z

lil z: i don't need ur sarcasm

trini//: that wasn't sarcasm

lil z: o h

lil z: th ank you t

lil z: ok one more q, tommy. what did that guy say to u to get u in detention??

toliver: It really wasn’t original

goldenboi: Wallace is kind of our resident stereotypical bully. He’s tougher physically than verbally

toliver: He told me to get out of his country and go back home. I called him a dumbass and told him to go home bc my ppl were here first. I don’t know where he thought I was from, but?? Idk, he didn’t want to back off, so that’s when I shoved him

trini//: nice

it'skimberly!: Honestly, I’m surprised he’s still going after people? I thought he’d at least lay low for a while after Billy knocked him out

toliver: I’m sorry, Billy did WHAT

billyc: It was an accident!

toliver: I totally believe you, but HOW do you accidentally knock someone out

toliver: Okay, you can’t just not respond for 5 entire minutes when I know none of you are doing anything other than talking in this chat

goldenboi: It’s just hard to explain?

billyc: I didn’t realize I was that strong. He tried to headbutt me, but it backfired and hurt him more than it hurt me.

goldenboi: Okay, I guess it wasn’t as hard to explain as I thought

toliver: Oh, damn. Ok

toliver: So are u keeping count, or…? Billy: knocked 1 guy out. Kim: punched out a tooth and broke someone’s nose. Jason: ? Trini: ? Zack: ?

toliver: Looks like Kim’s winning so far

toliver: Or losing, depending on how u look at it

trini//: if u ask me, I think she’s winning

trini//: makes sense, actually. The amount of times Kim’s talked me out of punching someone?? It was all to keep me from taking her place as the Most Badass of the group

trini//: i’m onto u Kimberly

lil z: *on top of

lil z: actually, more like *under

it'skimberly!: I was about to say, don’t slander my name by implying I’m a bottom

goldenboi: This conversation just took a sharp turn that I wasn’t expecting

trini//: this is why I never talk in these chats

trini//: friendship ended w/ Zack and Kimberly. Now Jason, Billy, and Tommy are my best friends

lil z: *offended gasp*

toliver: Dope

it'skimberly!: What did I do this time?

trini//: you encouraged him

it'skimberly!: I defended myself

lil z: your two best friends… you just cast us aside… kimberly i can understand… but me?

it'skimberly!: “Kimberly you can understand”???

lil z: well, yes

lil z: obviously i’m amazing

trini//: sometimes I rlly can’t stand you two

billyc: Are you joking right now?

trini//: yes, Billy, I’m joking. But still mildly annoyed

toliver: Is “I rlly can’t stand you two” code for “I love both of you with my entire heart”

it'skimberly!: YES

lil z: hahahhahahahahaha

trini//: stop

lil z: no she’s right

it'skimberly!: You love us the most [ heart emoji ]

trini//: I thought this was “get to know e/o” night, not “call Trini out” night

lil z: ¿por qué no los dos?

trini//: you don’t get points for using spanish

lil z: ¿por qué?

trini//: stop

lil z: no

lil z: (that’s a spanish “no”)

toliver: This is so entertaining

it'skimberly!: You love us Triniiii

trini//: shut up

lil z: i love u too, t

lil z: i love all 5 of u

trini//: do u just love to see me embarrassed or smth

lil z: yes

it'skimberly!: You're cute when you're embarrassed

 

trini// has left *Long Drawn Out Sigh*

 

it'skimberly!: Oops

toliver: Damn, y'all don't mess around

goldenboi: Wait, we can LEAVE these groups??? I didn't even know that was possible

lil z: can we add her back in?

billyc: We can, but I don't want to add her if she just chose to leave

lil z: do it anyway, and if she leaves again, we'll let her go

 

billyc added trini// to *Long Drawn Out Sigh*

 

trini//: those 2 minutes of peace were rlly great

lil z: we're sorry trini

trini//: I know

trini//: I just wanted to take a page out of Kim's book and be a little extra for a minute

it'skimberly!: Wow

trini//: don't play like that. You know ur a dramatic ass ho

toliver: "Dramatic ass ho" That's one I haven't heard in a while

lil z: silly t. u know Kim's gotta be extra abt u calling her extra

trini//: again

 

it'skimberly! left *Long Drawn Out Sigh*

 

trini//: of course

goldenboi: Seriously?

toliver: "Again" So smth like this happened before?

trini//: we had a fight abt which of us was more extra, and Kim was the winner

toliver: Oh. It sounds like all of y'all's fights are fun

lil z: "all of y'all's"

goldenboi: Can we just get Kim back before she gets upset that we let her leave

lil z: billy?

 

billyc added it'skimberly! to *Long Drawn Out Sigh*

 

it'skimberly!: Thanks, B

goldenboi: I really relate to our group name rn. This is exhausting

trini//: it isn't as dramatic when I do it first Kim

it'skimberly!: I was just taking a page out of ur book, T

trini//: I second Jason's comment

it'skimberly!: Toss me your phone. I just came up w/ your new screen name

lil z: do u guys ever spend time at your own house w/out the other there too

it'skimberly!: Not recently, no

toliver: I can't believe you've been in the same room this entire time, having full separate conversations IN THIS CHAT when you could've been talking to e/o out loud

billyc: That's what it's like to be in a group chat with Trini and Kimberly

 

trini// changed their name to dramatic.ass.ho

 

lil z: kim omg

dramatic.ass.ho: are u serious

it'skimberly!: You're welcome

dramatic.ass.ho: remind me why I like you again

it'skimberly!: Because of moments like these

toliver: Aw man. Now I have Kelly Clarkson stuck in my head

lil z: we're learning a lot abt u tommy. first u use the phrase "all of y'all's" and now u listen to kelly clarkson

toliver: A Moment Like This is a bop, and I stand by that statement

lil z: i respect ur unwavering loyalty

goldenboi: There are 20 different conversations happening at once rn, I need to leave

goldenboi: This is too confusing

it'skimberly!: Bye Jace

toliver: It is getting pretty late. I should prob get some sleep too

lil z: thank u for joining us today

toliver: Thanks for having me?

lil z: ur welc

lil z: goodnight friends

dramatic.ass.ho: how long do I have to keep this my name

lil z: at least 24 hours

dramatic.ass.ho: :(

 

---

 

Trini doesn't understand how she's making it happen, but she's able to morph now. Not completely, but it's more than nothing. She assumes fixing things with Jason probably helped, and maybe the Tommy thing is connected, too. With everyone being open and friendly except for Trini, that could've been causing even more of a rift in their connection. After she said she'd give Tommy a chance [an actual chance], she started to warm up to her. And then in that group chat the other night, it felt like the six of them were getting more comfortable with each other.

She thought she had made progress and moved past whatever weird feeling she was getting, but when Kim tells her that "Tommy might've done something to screw them over," it starts to look like being wary was the right move. But Kim wants to "hear her out" because it was probably just a misunderstanding. She doesn't seem like someone who would do that for no reason. But Trini can't calm herself down enough to confront her casually.

“What the hell, Tommy?” Trini says as soon as she's close enough to be within earshot. She's going to try to keep her cool since they're in the school parking lot, but most people who don't have to stay after for some reason have already left.

Tommy looks up, confused, and then glances around to see the others slowly approaching behind Trini. “What?”

“You know what I’m talking about.”

“... No . I don’t .”

“You made that fucking deal with that stupid Brad guy,” Trini says. “Tell me that was a joke.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t play dumb. Kim heard you.”

Tommy looks away from Trini to Kimberly. “What is she talking about?”

“Look, all you have to say is that you were humoring him. Because I don’t know if I believe that you’d seriously make a deal with an asshole and stab me in the back like that,” Kim says calmly.

“I’m serious. I have no idea what’s going on right now.” Tommy stands up straighter, looking at each of them, suddenly feeling like she needs to defend herself. “I haven’t done anything. So you guys better be the ones who are messing with me.”

“Tommy--”

“I didn’t stab anyone in the back. I don’t even know a guy named Brad.”

“Tommy, I heard you--”

Tommy takes a step closer to Kimberly. “What exactly did you hear? Really. I’d like to know.”

Billy still hangs back with the guys, but he takes a small step forward as if he's ready to jump in the middle of another fight. “Hey, guys. We should all calm down for a second…”

“I was calm. But now I don’t know what the hell you think you’re accusing me of. Look, I had a pretty good idea of why I didn’t have any friends before now, but I don’t know what I did to piss the two of you off so much.”

Trini shakes her head. “You didn’t just piss us off; you went behind our backs. And now you’re lying about it.”

“What the fuck am I lying about?”

Kim pauses to take a deep breath. Is it annoying that Tommy's denying that any of this happened? Absolutely. But they aren't going to get anything figured out if they don't stay calm. “Brad told you that he’d get his buddies and the football players to stop messing with you if you’d help him get back at me. And you said yes.”

“What?”

“I was there, Tommy. I saw it. I heard it. I wanted to wait and hear you out before I did something stupid, but you aren’t exactly proving me right here.”

Tommy stares at her like she’s lost it. “That never happened.”

Kim sighs. “Yes it did. What would I have to gain from making that up?”

“I have no fucking clue. That’s why I’m confused.”

Zack holds his hands up to get their attention, but also signal that he doesn't want things to get aggressive between them. Violence aside, they have Ranger strength that doesn't need to be tested out on Tommy in the middle of a public parking lot. [Or at all, but in public is worse.] “This has to be a misunderstanding.”

“She’s denying that it even happened. How is that a misunderstanding?”

“I don’t know…”

“When do you think this happened?” Tommy asks.

Today ," Kim says. "Like twenty minutes ago.”

“I think I’d remember something like that happening twenty minutes ago.”

“I know what I saw, Tommy. If I pulled that Brad guy aside, he’d say the two of you were talking, too.”

“And I know where I’ve been and who I’ve talked to. Unless I blacked out and started sleep walking and talking, then I know you’re making this up. I don’t know why, but I’m starting to not care. And that sucks because I really liked you guys.”

“If you liked us, you wouldn’t pretend like this didn’t happen.”

Tommy takes another couple of steps forward, getting much closer to Kimberly than before. Closer than any of them would like. If Tommy throws the first punch, they know Kim isn't just going to let it happen. She'd probably hold back, but she wouldn't do nothing. “I’m not the one making shit up, Hart. If you don’t want me in your group anymore, you can just say so. I’m not going to push when I’m not wanted.”

“That’s not what’s happening.”

“That’s not what it looks like.”

Jason shakes his head. “Guys, this is getting ridiculous. Obviously something’s going on here, and we aren’t going about it in the right way.”

“We tried going about it the right way, Jason. Tommy just doesn’t want to cooperate.”

I don’t want to cooperate?” Tommy asks, and she looks like she’s about to make another move. Like get even more in Kim’s space, or maybe throw a punch.

Trini takes the chance to move forward, getting in between them the best she can and shoving Tommy back. She might’ve been a little more rough than she should have. Like, “a little bit of Ranger strength” rough. “Back off.”

Tommy stumbles for a moment, but recovers quickly enough to shove Trini, too. It happens with a force that Trini isn’t expecting, so Kim has to grab onto her to keep her from falling. That on its own is weird enough, but the movement from all of that shoving also made something fall out of Tommy’s jacket pocket.

All six of them now have their eyes on the object, but Tommy’s the only one who doesn’t have a big reaction. Trini slowly turns back to Tommy, shaking her head and saying, “I fucking knew it,” while the other four are stuck in shock.

It was by accident, but they finally found what they were looking for.

The green Power Coin.

Great.

Chapter Text

“You have the green Power Coin,” Billy says after another stretch of silence.

Tommy grabs the coin, looking at the others in confusion. “What? This thing?”

Trini shakes her head again. “I told you guys something was off about her.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about you stabbing us in the back.”

Billy looks over Tommy’s jacket, and then turns his attention to the ground. “She does wear so much green…”

The other three are silent--Zack feeling crushed, and Kimberly feeling especially dumb for completely ignoring Trini. Jason, however, still feels like there’s something else going on. That they’re missing something and they don’t know the full story yet.

“How did I betray you? Because I didn’t tell you about this?” Tommy asks, holding the coin up. “That doesn’t make any sense. It’s just some random rock… crystal thing that I found in the middle of nowhere. What the fuck is a Power Coin?”

“Don’t play dumb. You’re the one attacking the city again,” Trini says, and Jason attempts to step in.

“Trini, I don’t think--”

“That’s exactly what’s happening, Jason. She wouldn’t have the coin otherwise. She got close to us on purpose so we’d let our guard down, let her in, and not see it coming when she actually wanted to do something about it.”

Tommy shakes her head. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I found this thing, and I might be sort of stronger now, I guess. But it isn’t even possible for me to be behind the attacks. I blacked out the last time one happened, and I’m pretty sure it was from one of those rock things knocking me out. And I don’t get how that has anything to do with you .”

“Are you saying you didn’t know we were the Power Rangers?” Billy asks.

That’s one way to cut to the chase.

Tommy pauses for a second, looking at all five of them with wide eyes. “ You’re the Power Rangers?!

Billy nods slowly. “She didn’t know. Jason, did I just break a Ranger rule?”

“No, I don’t think it counts this time.”

Tommy turns away from them, trying to go over this information. “Of course you’re the fucking Power Rangers. Dad friend? Small but feisty? And you wear the colors like you’re in their fanclub. I can’t believe this.”

“That’s what I was trying to say, Trini,” Jason says. “I don’t think she remembers actually doing any of that.”

It’d be easy for her to lie about it, so it’s going to take more than that to convince Trini. “How are we supposed to know that for sure?”

While the five of them attempt to figure out what’s going on, Tommy’s still off to the side, silently freaking out. She can’t take much more of this. So she starts to walk away before the focus jumps back to her again.

“Um, guys…” Billy says. “Tommy’s leaving.”

They all turn, cutting off their conversation to follow her. She hadn’t gotten very far, though, so they don’t have to move much.

“Where the hell are you going?” Trini asks.

“I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what’s happening. I just don’t know .”

“Well you can’t leave .”

Tommy shrugs. “You’re the Power Rangers. Why don’t you just stop me?”

“Okay. Gladly.”

Jason shakes his head. “Trini…”

“What? She’s a Ranger, too. She can take it.”

“I’m a what ?”

There’s definitely a better way they could be handling this. Maybe not yelling about it in the middle of the--now empty--school parking lot. Maybe they could approach telling Tommy all of these details better, too, because it’s starting to look like she really doesn’t know what the hell is going on. Or, she’s a really good actress. Either way, this isn’t going well.

“We need to take her to Zordon. As soon as we’re down there, we can figure this out,” Zack says. He’s trying to stay optimistic. Hoping that Tommy’s been telling the truth.

“What the fuck is Zordon ?”

“Oh, Zordon is,” Billy starts, but everyone turns to him, Jason shaking his head slightly, so he stops. “Nevermind.”

“Did you all take something before we met up down here? You have to be high.”

Jason takes a deep breath, holding his hands out. “Tommy… We need you to come with us.”

Trini's reasoning for being so against that is that they're basically bringing their enemy right to the one place she could do some real damage. Even if Tommy isn't in control, what would stop that switch from flipping as soon as they're underground? Why should they risk it?

Jason thinks it'd be safer to have her down there. There isn't much she could actually do down there. And even if she could, it'd still be five (plus a robot and talking wall) against one. It's a risk he's willing to take so they can figure some of this out.

And, apparently, the others agree with him.

Tommy shakes her head. “Fuck that.”

“Wait.” He pulls his own coin out of his pocket and holds it out for her to see. “If you come with us for a few minutes, we can explain everything and figure out what’s going on. But if you walk away right now, all of us are just going to get more confused, and more people might get hurt.”

Tommy’s still mostly confused, but she hesitates for a moment. “People might get hurt? I don’t…”

“I think that coin has something to do with the attacks. I’m not saying it’s you , but… Just give us this.”

“I really want to believe you, Tommy,” Zack says. “I honestly do. But I can’t do that unless we get a second opinion on what’s happening.”

After another pause, Tommy sighs. “You can have tonight. But if I don’t like what I see or hear, I’m leaving. I’m gonna go home, fall asleep, and hope to god this was all some mass hallucination that’ll be behind us in the morning.”

“I can live with that.”

The level of tension stays about the same on their trip down to the cliffs, and by the time they get there, Tommy’s only more confused. She doesn’t know what’s going on, but she’s hoping that it’ll be over soon if she just lets everything happen instead of asking twenty questions all at once.

She can handle keeping quiet until they reach the cliff and she realizes that they aren’t slowing down as they approach the edge.

“Wait a minute. We’re going down there? ” She asks, and then shakes her head. “Hell no.”

Zack throws his hands up, walking backwards towards the cliff. “It’s harmless. Watch.”

After watching Zack do a flip and fall out of sight--even if his screaming is enthusiastic--Tommy isn’t any more excited to follow behind him.

“I was scared at first, too,” Billy says. “But… mine was also an accident and we thought I was falling to my death. But that didn’t happen. There’s water and we’re all fine.”

“Trini didn’t want to follow us, either,” Jason adds. “We can always do with you what we did to get her down there.”

“And what was that?” Tommy asks, almost hesitantly.

Jason looks to Kimberly.

Kimberly turns to Trini.

Trini turns to Tommy.

“Give me your phone.”

Tommy pulls her phone out of her pocket, but keeps it behind her back. “Why?”

While the attention isn’t on her, Kim moves to grab Tommy’s phone out of her hands, and steps back. Tommy doesn’t have a very physical reaction because she’s standing pretty close to the cliff edge. Accidentally falling down there is the last thing she wants to do.

“Hey!”

Kim holds the phone up. “You’ll thank me later.”

“You know what?” Trini says. “If I can’t get my revenge on Kim, I might as well just do it to you.”

“What does that mean?”

Trini puts a hand on Tommy’s shoulder. “I can’t think of anything witty to say, so just be ready to hold your breath.”

Tommy has just enough time to turn to Trini with wide eyes before Trini’s grabbing her other shoulder and pulling the both of them off of the cliff. The other three aren’t far behind them.

The whole situation leaves Trini feeling conflicted. Because possession definitely seems likely. But she also isn’t going to be the one to let her guard down.

“What the fuck ?” Tommy asks, pushing her hair out of her face as she resurfaces.

“Come on, T,” Kim says, swimming closer to Trini. “You can’t tell me it wasn’t a little fun throwing her off of the cliff like that.”

Trini shakes her head. “No comment.”

“Yes! Crazy girl one, two, and three!” Zack calls out, and Tommy can only stare at the five of them with wide eyes. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s a little too late to attempt getting back up the cliff and away from them.

“You people are insane .”

Kim motions towards the sky. “Hey, at least now your phone is safe up there, and not ruined from water damage.”

Small victories.

“Alright. Hold your breath again and follow us down there,” Jason says before diving under.

At this point she might as well just do it because it's becoming more and more obvious that they aren't giving her any answers until they get to wherever the fuck they're supposed to be going. She hopes that this gravity defying underwater cave thing is as weird as it's going to get.

It isn't.

It gets weirder.

Tommy stumbles backwards, almost falling against Jason, as soon as they walk into view of the ship. Zack even has to reach out to keep her from falling over any more.

“I think I'm gonna pass out.”

“Could you maybe postpone that for five minutes?” Zack asks, and Tommy slowly shakes her head.

“Probably not.”

She's hesitant to get any closer to the ship, so actually walking into it is a whole other journey. It can't be real. No way. The super strength stuff that she got from that coin is one thing, but this ? When the short little robot rolls into view, Tommy's almost positive that she isn't gonna make it home without knowing what a heart attack feels like first.

It's worse when it starts talking, so she reacts on impulse. Which means jumping behind Kimberly (if Tommy trusts any of them to be able to protect her, it would honestly probably be her), and sort of holding Kim by the shoulders so she can stay hidden.

“What the hell is that?

“That’s Alpha 5,” Jason says. “You don’t have to hide; he won’t hurt you.”

Billy nods, but adds, “Unless you spar with him. He’s gotten some hits in with me… He doesn’t hold back, and robot arms are surprisingly strong.”

“You found the new Ranger?” Alpha asks excitedly, rolling along beside Jason as he leads them closer to the morphing grid room. “This is so exciting!”

“Yeah. Um… Zordon?” Jason says. “We need to talk to you about this.”

Zordon’s face springs up into view, and there’s a bit of a booming echo. Tommy had been attempting to stay hidden, and seeing this just makes her grip on Kim’s shoulders tighten to keep herself from falling over.

Holy shit … What did you guys slip me?” She asks. “I’m tripping. I have to be.”

Jason glances back once, and then sighs. “She’s freaking out.”

Trini rolls her eyes. “You’re saying that like it isn’t a normal reaction.”

“Well, we took it better.”

“We threatened to kill Alpha and were completely terrified the entire time,” Kimberly says, and Zack nods.

“And we’re weird and kinda just accepted that aliens were a thing pretty quickly.”

“Also, we left as soon as Trini figured out how to open the door. You’re the only one who didn’t run out of here,” Billy adds.

That all might be true, but… still .

Jason just shakes his head and turns back to Zordon. “We found the new Ranger. Is it possible that she wouldn’t be in control or aware of what’s going on when the coin is taking over?”

“I believe we’ve established that almost anything is ‘possible’.”

Leave it to Zordon to sound so full of wisdom, but simultaneously keep everything cryptic and never give them any actual answers.

“But is there a way we can know-- for sure --if she’s telling the truth or not?”

“Oh! I can monitor her! I’ll keep an eye on her heart rate and blood pressure, among other things, and that should help,” Alpha adds, throwing his little robot arms up in the air.

Zack smiles. “Alpha doubles as a lie detector test… This is so gonna come in handy later.”

“Not the time, Zack,” Jason says, and then turns around again. “Tommy.”

They all turn to her, Kim waiting to be let go before she attempts to move at all. And Tommy only stares back, slightly disappointed at having lost Kim as a shield.

“I have no idea what’s going on.”

“You don’t remember finding the coin? Becoming a Ranger? Morphing?” Jason asks, and she pulls out her coin.

“I remember finding this . But nothing else. I don’t understand what half of the stuff you’re saying means.”

Zack gestures towards her and nods. “So what happened with the coin?”

“I… I found it sort of in the middle of nowhere while I was walking, thought it looked cool, and went home to sleep ‘cause I was exhausted. Woke up, felt kind of terrible, went to take a shower and almost tore my bathroom door off its hinges, but I was half asleep, so I didn’t think much of it,” Tommy says. “I got to school and everything seemed normal enough? But I stopped at a vending machine because I didn’t grab breakfast at my house, and the granola bar got stuck, so I hit the machine--like any normal person would--and… it dented and like ten bars and three bags of chips fell. I freaked out because I didn’t want to get caught so I just… ran before someone could see me.”

“You’re the reason I got free snacks from that broken machine?” Zack asks, smiling. “Thanks, buddy.”

Tommy shakes her head as she moves on. “And I found this thing in my pocket, freaked out again, tried throwing it away after school, and it kept coming back? I tried throwing it out into the ocean and it still came back. I didn’t know what was happening. But I didn’t… I didn’t think of this as an explanation. I just thought I found some weird radioactive crystal.”

“Like that’s any less weird…” Trini mumbles.

“I didn’t attack the town. I didn’t know you were the Rangers. I didn’t know I was a Ranger. I didn’t know anything, and I still don’t know anything now.”

After a beat of silence, Alpha speaks up. “I’m not detecting anything out of the ordinary.”

Tommy gestures towards him. “See? You believe me now?”

“But that’s the thing,” Jason says, scratching the back of his head. “Even if you aren’t in control or aware of what’s going on, it’s still your body that Rita is using to carry out all of this chaos.”

“Rita?” she asks. “Come on, guys. You’ve gotta give me some more information with what’s going on. I’m completely lost.”

They’re hesitant to get any more specific, since they don’t know what information might potentially be used against them, but end up deciding it might be worse to keep Tommy completely in the dark. So they try to fill her in the best they can without overwhelming her. [And also without revealing too much.]

“This is too much to process in one afternoon,” Tommy says, closing her eyes. “I’m getting a headache.”

“All we can do is wait for the energy to wear off,” Zordon says. “Possibly.”

“What do you mean, ‘possibly’ ?” Kim asks, crossing her arms.

“This has never happened before. The information we have on this type of situation is limited.”

Tommy looks back and forth at everyone, lingering on Zordon for a second because that is still freaking her out. “So, what? You guys have to lock me up so I don’t hurt anyone?”

Trini shrugs. “Works for me.”

“No.” Zack shakes his head. “There has to be another way to figure this out.”

“I wasn’t being serious ,” Tommy says, turning to Trini. “What the hell, guys?”

Trini pauses, shaking her head. “You’re still dangerous. We don’t know if that stuff in that coin has worn off yet.”

“We can't just keep her here against her will,” Jason adds. “She has classes and a family and she can't just not be there. She isn’t Rita. Imprisoning her down here is unrealistic and unfair to her. If something happens and she attacks again, we can stop her. The odds are in our favor.”

“How are we supposed to know when it’s all gone, then?”

“Maybe we’ll just know…?” Billy offers.

“Yes. It is likely that you’ll be able to tell through the connection,” Zordon says.

That seems a little too open-ended to them, but it’s better than nothing.

“Wait a minute, you said the odds are in our favor?” Kim asks, moving closer to Jason and lowering her voice. “We’re still having trouble morphing . That’s not in our favor.”

“That’s…” Jason starts. “That’s a good point. I forgot about that.”

“I say we get to whatever you're talking about later, and right now we get Tommy home before she has a breakdown.” Zack gestures in her direction. “She looks like she’s about to lose it.”

Tommy nods. “I am. Like, five more minutes, and I’m done .”

“Right. We, uh… We could all probably use some sleep after this,” Jason says.

Zack gives the, “I’m watching you,” gesture to Tommy as he slowly backs away. “Don’t leave town, Tommy…”

“Honestly, I don’t think that’ll be a problem.” Leaving town? Not currently on her mind. The fact that she’s now a superhero and also somehow a bit of a super villain? That’s gonna keep her up tonight.

 

---

 

Rainbow Rangers

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | it’skimberly! | dramatic.ass.ho]

lil z: so…

lil z: today was interesting

dramatic.ass.ho: that’s one way to put it

lil z: go ahead and get ur gloating out of the way

dramatic.ass.ho: I’m not gonna gloat. I know all of you trusted her, and if I yelled at u abt how right I was, I’d be an ass. Tbh, I wanted to trust her for a while there, too, so…

dramatic.ass.ho: even if I was right abt smth being off, I’m not happy abt it. I didn’t /want/ to be right

goldenboi: We appreciate that, T

lil z: ok i’ll do it for u

lil z: just this once

lil z: [ pretends to be shocked.gif ]

dramatic.ass.ho: ...nice choice

lil z: ty

dramatic.ass.ho: and even though we know /she's/ not evil, I think it's going to take a while before I can fully warm up to her

dramatic.ass.ho: I'll try not to be a bitch again, but

dramatic.ass.ho: it's weird to think about

goldenboi: I get what you mean

billyc: So, what do we do now? How do we morph again?

dramatic.ass.ho: @lil z

lil z: o right

lil z: forgot i was the leader

lil z: well, i guess we keep practicing and opening ourselves up to the grid and the connection or w/e. that’s the only way i can think of

billyc: What about Tommy?

lil z: what do u mean, blue?

billyc: When we train, is she going to come along, too? And are we going to talk to her about joining us as soon as the energy has left her coin? How involved is she going to be?

dramatic.ass.ho: ah, the big questions

lil z: idk b, i think we just need to talk to her abt it

lil z: but maybe we start by texting her tmrw or the day after so she has time to process everything

billyc: Okay

dramatic.ass.ho: u know what? It’s been over 24 hours and Kim still hasn’t given me a REAL new screen name, so I’m going back to my old one

 

dramatic.ass.ho changed their name to trini//

 

lil z: rip dramatic ass ho

lil z: speaking of, where is kim??

goldenboi: Don’t know

billyc: She said she was tired. She might’ve already gone to bed.

lil z: well @trini// ???

trini//: I don’t know. I haven’t talked to her since we left the mtns

lil z: what

lil z: but ur always with her?

lil z: and when u aren’t, u at least know where she is?

trini//: ...sorry?

trini//: I mean, I can go check on her, but I think Billy’s right. I’m not feeling anything weird coming from her rn, so she’s prob asleep

lil z: ...ok then

lil z: this team meeting is now over, thank u all for coming

trini//: I didn’t realize this was a team meeting

lil z: it was implied

trini//: by u

lil z: yes, me, the team leader

lil z: and u dare to question the authority that YOU gave me??

goldenboi: Wow. Get rekt, Trini.

trini//: I can’t believe we’ve let both of u be in charge of us

lil z: sounds like fate to me

trini//: sure

trini//: that must be it

 

---

 

Kimberly drags Trini off to the side of the hallway, glancing around the area before she turns back and begins to speak. “Can I talk to you about something? It’s stupid, but it’s kind of been bothering me…”

“Uh… I guess…?”

Trini’s really starting to wonder how they--all five (six) of the rangers--end up having so many “meaningful conversations” on school property. They might as well go ahead and set up something in the computer lab so they can talk to Alpha and Zordon from here, too.

Now she’s wondering if they were ever to video chat with Zordon, if it’d still be considered FaceTime when it isn’t on an Apple device. Face time. ‘Cause he’s a giant face.

...She has too many unnecessary thoughts.

“You remember that whole thing with Amanda and Harper in the bathroom?”

She nods. That isn’t something she’ll be forgetting anytime soon, even if it has been some time since it happened.

“Right, so…” Kim continues. “Amanda said something about me stabbing you guys in the back, and that you shouldn’t be surprised when I did it. And you said you wouldn’t be.”

Okay, well that part she doesn’t exactly remember. “That was awhile ago, Kim…”

“Yeah, I… I know. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and it’s just gonna stay in the back of my head if I don’t bring it up.”

“But why didn’t you say anything before?”

She shrugs. “I forgot at first. And then when I remembered… It didn’t seem important anymore. But now… You don’t have to lie and say you didn’t mean it if you did. I get why you would.”

Trini shakes her head. “I did mean it. A little. But it wasn’t like I was waiting for you to screw up. In my head it sounded like it made sense. Because Amanda was your best friend, and you did grow up together. That’s a bond that you wouldn’t really expect to blow up so fast. But honestly? If you had done something fucked up again, I would have been surprised. We’ve been through a lot together, and I know we’re all gonna make mistakes… But I don’t see you turning your back on us. And even if you still screw up, we aren’t going anywhere. It’d take a lot to scare us away by this point.”

Kim nods, letting out a deep breath.

“How long has that been on your mind?”

Way too long.”

That's not very reassuring. "And you're going to be okay?"

"Yeah. Thanks."

They really should be getting to class now, but something makes Trini pause. "Do you feel that?"

Kim looks around. "Feel what?"

"I'm feeling something that you aren't?" Trini asks. "Nice to be on the other side of that for once."

She rolls her eyes. "No. I don't feel anything."

"Okay... That's... weird."

"Good weird, or bad weird?"

What kind of a question is that? "I don't know. Weird weird."

Okay, so the answer wasn't much better.

"Alright. If it isn't dire, I'm gonna go to class. Text me if you need me."

That's a great idea and all, but if she's going to do that, she'd rather not be the reason for Kim getting in trouble midway through class. "Is your sound off?"

Kim gives her a look that says, "seriously," but what she really says is, "Yes. I can learn from my mistakes, T."

"If you say so."

Kimberly waits for Trini to walk in front of her before pulling her phone out and actually putting it on silent.

"You just turned the sound off, didn't you?" Trini says, not even pausing to look back at her.

"You can't even see me; how would you know that?"

"It was a guess and you just proved me right."

 

---

 

*Long Drawn Out Sigh*

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | toliver | it’skimberly! | trini//]

lil z: yo @toliver

lil z: what’s good homegirl

toliver: Please tell me that was all a dream

lil z: if ur talking abt being a superhero and visiting an underground spaceship, I, unfortunately, cannot

toliver: I was afraid of that

toliver: I am… in distress

goldenboi: You’ve at least had time for everything to settle in, right?

toliver: Yeah, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less INSANE

it’skimberly!: This does get pretty intense

toliver: So… I know you’ve told me everything, but… What does it all mean? Like, do I have to fight things now? Am I supposed to be a part of your group?

lil z: supposed to? yes

trini//: we can’t force you to do anything, and other than what’s in that coin, there isn’t anything urgently dangerous for you to get involved in

toliver: You mean I can just…? Refuse to be a Ranger?

billyc: I don’t think that’s how it works

goldenboi: We were all chosen to be Rangers for a reason. I don’t think it can just… go away

it’skimberly!: Well, yeah. But the five of us sort of got thrown into this against our will and slowly got used to it. The least we can do is give Tommy a little bit of a choice. You probably won’t stop being a Ranger, but that doesn’t mean you have to join our team.

lil z: but we know u love us, so

lil z: is there rlly a question here?

toliver: Honestly, I couldn’t deal with this on my own, and y’all are kind of my only real friends right now

toliver: So

toliver: I don’t think I’m going anywhere…

lil z: fuck yeah!

toliver: But are we sure that this possession stuff is going to wear off? Because you guys didn’t sound too sure of yourselves

billyc: It has to wear off because the coin doesn’t belong to Rita anymore. Even if she had something left over, she’s gone now. So it doesn’t make sense that it would continue to last

lil z: also, we couldn’t feel rita through the link, and i’m p sure i’ve gotten some of ur emotions recently

lil z: nothing strong, but it was smth

trini//: I think I’ve been able to feel her too

trini//: I didn’t mean that in a creepy/sexual way

trini//: just, like… her presence…

lil z: omg, t, stop

it’skimberly!: It didn’t sound creepy until you said it wasn’t

trini//: great (sarcasm)

trini//: sorry

lil z: lmao

toliver: No worries

toliver: I’m flattered, honestly

toliver: And, while we’re on the subject, WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU COULD FEEL MY EMOTIONS?

toliver: WHAT FUCKING LINK??

lil z: aw shit i knew we were forgetting smth

toliver: Of all the things you told me, how was THAT the thing you forgot?

goldenboi: We’ve gotten so used to it, it’s hard to remember that it wasn’t always there

lil z: anyway, we’re all connected through the morphin grid, so we’re on the same wavelength and you’ll eventually be able to feel our emotions and stuff

lil z: it’s a lil more complicated than that, but we’ll explain it all in detail later

goldenboi: ...um *morphing ?

lil z: no it’s morphin’

trini//: wait what

toliver: You’ve been superheroes for how long, and you still don’t even know your own lingo?

goldenboi: ...are you serious?

lil z: yes

billyc: It’s Morphin’

trini//: whAT

it’skimberly!: What is happening?

billyc: I didn’t realize Zack and I were the only ones who knew this

lil z: the girls i can understand, but j how did you not know?

trini//: idk if I should be insulted, but… I’m too confused to care rn

goldenboi: ??? How did you know?

lil z: it’s in the ranger handbook

goldenboi: The what

goldenboi: But… morphin isn’t a word

lil z: tell that to the ranger gods

goldenboi: Okay, now THAT’S fake

lil z: ...is it?

trini//: so when we morph, are we morphing or morphin’

toliver: I am so genuinely confused by this conversation

billyc: We’re morphing, but we’re connected to the Morphin’ Grid, and when Jason says it’s time to morph, he’s supposed to be saying “It’s Morphin’ Time!”

goldenboi: I MADE THAT UP, WHAT DO YOU MEAN I’M “SUPPOSED TO SAY IT” THAT WAY

it’skimberly!: Wow, Jace. You’re TAKIN’ this very seriously

lil z: ya, stop MAKIN’ a fool of urself

toliver: Idk what y’all are FUCKIN’ TALKIN’ abt, but it’s rlly enterTAININ’

trini//: damn, Tommy

billyc: That was AMAZIN’

lil z: i love all of u so much omrg

trini//: do I want to ask what that means?

lil z: oh my ranger gods

trini//: right. Obviously

toliver: Okay, but seriously. Is there really a ranger handbook? ‘Cause I’d be down to read that during detention

toliver: Guys?

it’skimberly!: I don’t know if it’s real, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were

it’skimberly!: Zack’ll probably write you one if you ask nicely

trini//: with help from Billy bc Z would get distracted halfway through and accidentally abandon it

it’skimberly!: ^^

toliver: But where did they go?

trini//: no idea

it’skimberly!: Yeah, that was kind of weird

toliver: ...alright?

 

lil z: a book?

lil z: i’m on it

it’skimberly!: If this ends badly, it wasn’t my idea

toliver: Where did the three of you go? It's been 4 hours since that last convo??

toliver: Is no one going to answer me? Again?

toliver: All 5 of you this time?

toliver: I see how it is

toliver: :(

 

---

 

Punch Your Problems

[toliver | it’skimberly!]

it'skimberly!: Okay, the first time the boys disappeared it was an accident, but now Zack's asked everyone not to respond for a while because he's thinking up a good way to mess with you. To "initiate you into the team" or smth

toliver: What???

it'skimberly!: Yeah, it's kind of mean. But he was only going to wait another hour before talking to you again

it'skimberly!: Honestly, I don't really know what he's doing.

toliver: Wow

toliver: Okay, wait. I just got an idea

 

 

Operation: Zack Taylor is a Jerk

[toliver | it’skimberly! | trini//]

trini//: nice name

trini//: what's going on?

toliver: If Zack thinks he can take a shot at me and get away w/ it, he's delusional

toliver: But if I'm gonna fire back, I need both of your help

it'skimberly!: I'm a little bit terrified right now

toliver: There's plenty of time. I've gotta wait for him to fire first before we do anything.

trini//: I'll help, but only if the target stays off of me

toliver: Don't worry. It should just look like it's coming from me.

toliver: But, we'll see

 

---

 

 "Do you think it was a mistake to bring her down here?" Trini asks from the rock she's sitting on. The other four are sparring with each other, so it might not be the best moment to start up a conversation with them.

Zack ducks a punch from Billy. "Why would it be a mistake?"

"We weren't getting anywhere before we got down here and explained everything," Jason adds. "And, you know... Seeing is believing."

"But we don't know how aware the 'Rita' part of her is. We could've just made a huge mistake by showing her our base of operations and telling her almost everything we know about being Rangers," Trini says.

The other four still have their heads mostly in the fight, so it takes a moment for another response. Zack glances at her to shake his head.

"Is it really dangerous? What could she do aside from attack us? It might even be better if she did attack here. If we can't morph, we can't fight up on the surface in front of people."

"Zordon didn't seem to think it was a problem," Billy says.

Trini doesn't exactly trust Zordon's judgement. She shrugs, looking at the ground to kick at a few rocks. "It was just a question. I don't know."

"Well," Kimberly says, pausing to grab Jason by the arm and flip him onto his back. She looks back up, putting her hands on her hips while Jason lies on the ground attempting to catch his breath. "If it was a mistake, I'm sure we'll find out sooner than later."

While Kim's still distracted, Jason takes the opportunity to swipe his leg under her feet, causing her to fall too.

"Isn't it dishonorable to attack an opponent when their back is to you?"

Jason scoffs. "Your back wasn't to me; you just weren't looking at the ground."

"Same thing."

They both stay flat on their backs, Zack and Billy still fighting a few feet away.

"How long do you think this evil magic stuff is supposed to last, anyway?" Zack asks, and Trini shakes her head.

"That's the problem. We won't know until it's actually gone."

Chapter Text


Black and Yellow

[lil z | trini//]

lil z: i’m offended

lil z: trini why didn’t you tell me

trini//: tell u what?

lil z: that u and kim finally KISSED

trini//: how the hell would you know that??

lil z: one mr. billiam cranston!!!

trini//: how did he find out?

lil z: hmm, well if it wasn’t from u, i really wonder who it POSSIBLY could have come from

trini//: look z, it wasn’t on purpose. There’s been a lot going on recently

lil z: ...ok

lil z: so what was it like

trini//: I’m not giving you a play by play

lil z: trini!!!!

trini//: no

lil z: mend my lonely heart…

trini//: absolutely not

lil z:

lil z: ok fine

lil z: i’m not telling u if i ever fix my love life, then

trini//: ok

lil z: t

lil z: ur supposed to be more disappointed abt that

trini//: Zack, I love you. I really do. But you rlly need to learn how to chill out a little

lil z: perhaps

trini//: ok, but are u serious? Did u talk to ur boys?

lil z: “my boys”

lil z: why should i tell u?

trini//: bc I know u want to

lil z: ok ur right

lil z: i sort of talked to them

trini//: ?

lil z: it’s complicated

trini//: ...ya, sounds like it

lil z: i’ll update u when smth happens

trini//: ok?

lil z: ALSO UPDATE ME W/ U AND KIM

trini//: how much is there for me to possibly update u on?

lil z: plenty?

lil z: it’s ok, you’ll learn

 

---

 

Pink Lemonade

[it’skimberly! | trini//]

trini//: Kimberly

it’skimberly!: What’s with the full name?

trini//: Zack just asked me why I didn’t tell him that we kissed

it’skimberly!: Oh

trini//: I asked how he knew and he said Billy told him

trini//: how did Billy find out, Kim?

it’skimberly!: Right. Well.

it’skimberly!: I told him

trini//: but why

it’skimberly!: Billy’s super easy to talk to

it’skimberly!: I needed to talk through some stuff, and it just came out, and he didn’t make a big deal about it so I sort of forgot that it happened

it’skimberly!: Sorry

trini//: I mean, I’m not upset that they know now, I just would’ve liked to have some say over how people found out. Zack’s low key heartbroken that he didn’t find out from me

it’skimberly!: I am curious about how that came up in a conversation, though

trini//: idk, Zack was prob talking abt how we need to get it together and kiss already, and then Billy would say, “Oh, that already happened” or smth

it’skimberly!: Speaking of the boys, I’m getting the feeling that Jason likes another member of our team in addition to Billy

trini//: I’m gonna hope and assume u mean Zack

it’skimberly!: Yeah. It’s Zack.

it’skimberly!: Just to make everything going on rn a little more complicated

trini//: actually that might not go as terribly as you’d think

trini//: hold up let me text him and make sure I’m allowed to tell u

it’skimberly!: Oh come on

it’skimberly!: Why would you say something if you don’t know??

it’skimberly!: Triniiiii

it’skimberly!: If you find out you can’t tell me idk if I’ll be able to forgive you

it’skimberly!: I’m not the kind of person who can just let smth go and be at peace w/ knowing I’ll never know

trini//: what?

trini//: dude, I was barely gone for 2 minutes, chill out

trini//: he said I could tell u tho

it’skimberly!: Thank god

trini//: yea, so Zack likes J and B

it’skimberly!: Oh

it’skimberly!: OH

it’skimberly!: Aw, our boys love e/o

trini//: well we don’t know abt Billy

it’skimberly!: That’s true. But they’re still cute

it’skimberly!: Also, it can work even if Billy doesn’t like Zack

trini//: yeah

trini//: get it Jason

trini//: I regretted typing that as soon as I sent it

it’skimberly!: You’re right though

it’skimberly!: Zordon the matchmaker

trini//: I can’t believe you typed that

it’skimberly!: Yeah, I kind of regret it

trini//: ok I gtg

it’skimberly!: Seriously, pls forget that I ever sent that

it’skimberly!: Zordon doesn’t deserve the credit

trini//: no he doesn’t

trini//: if I’m thanking anyone it’s the coins

it’skimberly!: Or your water bottle

trini//: are u really prepared to bring that up again

it’skimberly!: ...No?

trini//: didn’t think so

trini//: seeya later

it’skimberly!: [ heart emoji ]

trini//: you’re way too sappy

it’skimberly!: [ three heart emojis ]

trini//: why do I like you

it’skimberly!: [ yellow heart ] [ pink sparkle heart ]

trini//: Kim

it’skimberly!: [ multicolored series of heart emojis ]

trini//: oh my god

trini//: [ heart emoji ]

it’skimberly!: Yay!

it’skimberly!: Thank you

trini//: I hope u understand that I’ve gotta really like you to use a heart emoji for u

it’skimberly!: I do

it’skimberly!: The significance isn’t lost on me. I’ll remember this

trini//: u better

trini//: srsly have to go now, bye

it’skimberly!: [ heart emoji ]

 

---

 

“Look, it’s working,” Zack says, holding his arms out as his armor begins to cover them. And then the armor stops abruptly and Zack shakes his hands out, hoping that’ll kick start the morphing again. Nothing changes. “Uh… Nevermind.”

“So, here’s the thing,” Trini says. “If this isn’t working because Tommy’s in the link, but this Rita thing is blocking us from being totally connected… What the hell are we supposed to do? We can’t morph until Tommy’s free from that space-bitch, but we need to morph to keep the town safe from her.”

Kimberly nods. “Sounds like we’re screwed.”

“Yeah, that might be an understatement.”

“If we’re lucky, it’ll wear off before she gets the chance to attack again.” Jason sighs.

“We can’t keep counting on luck to get us out of these situations,” Kim says.

They all know that she’s right. That a lot of the reason the five of them are still standing there, unharmed and alive, has a lot to do with being lucky. But they also don’t have much of a choice of doing anything else.

“So what’s more important? Protecting everyone, or protecting our identities?” Jason asks, but he already knows which one he would choose.

Zack gives them all a look, like he can’t believe it isn’t obvious to them. “We protect the town. Right?”

“Well…” Billy starts. “I agree that we shouldn’t let anyone get hurt, but keeping it a secret that we’re Rangers is a rule that we’re supposed to follow. But there is no rule stating that we have to put other people’s safety before our own.”

“Really? But isn’t that what we do ? We protect people,” Kimberly says, but it’s obvious that she isn’t very confident with the statement.

Trini shakes her head. “No, he’s right. We’re just supposed to protect the crystal.”

Jason crosses his arms, shaking his head too. “Sacrificing few to save the many? I don’t like that. I’d rather lose my powers than let innocent people die just so we don’t get found out.”

“I don’t think that’ll be a problem. We have to protect the crystal, so we’ll be saving everyone else by default.”

“Unless she doesn’t go for the crystal and just wants to cause destruction. Then we’d be expected to stand down until we can morph again.”

Kim sighs, running a hand through her hair. “This is messed up…”

“Actually…” Zack starts. “If we can’t morph because Tommy’s a part of the link now… Doesn’t that mean she shouldn’t be able to morph either?”

The other four look at each other.

Jason nods. “I think that’s what we need to hope for.”

“Why doesn’t she have a platform?” Trini asks, glancing around the room at their five separate stations. If the Green Ranger was always a part of the Ranger Squad , there should be another platform for her. Unless Zordon and co. had just given up on Rita (and any future replacement) and tore the thing right out of the ship.

She’d say that’d be a bit dramatic, but if she had to describe her own team in one word? Dramatic wouldn’t be a bad choice.

Billy looks around the room, too, slightly confused. Even if they had removed a sixth platform, the way everything is spaced out still wouldn’t make sense. “Was there never a sixth platform?”

“There is a sixth station for the Green Ranger,” Zordon says, but Zack looks up at him in disbelief.

“Then where is it?” The expression on his face fades a bit, and a smile replaces it. “ Wait . Is it invisible? Out of all the things you could make invisible, that one would be a little boring as far as wow factor goes, but it’d still be pretty sick.”

“It’s not invisible,” Zordon says, ignoring Zack’s disappointment. “It will appear once Tommy is fully connected to the five of you. The Morphin’ Grid will reinstall it.”

Morphin’ ” Trini mumbles, but Jason can still hear it.

He shoots her a look. “Don’t.”

“Okay, well,” Zack says. “I guess if we’re just wasting our time here, we might as well go train in the Pit for a while, right? Maybe we can try partially morphing and punch each other where we don’t have armor just to see what it feels like.”

Trini nods. “Cool. I’m in.”

Jason watches as they jump down from their platforms and head over to the door. It hurts enough when they’re just hitting each other without any of their armor, but this ? Yeah, this is gonna hurt.

 

---

 

It turns out that “hiding” in the school hallway to keep an eye on Tommy’s locker isn’t as easy as Zack was hoping it would be. He doesn’t want to miss seeing his genius plan play out, but he also can’t look too suspicious before it even happens.

Okay, so genius plan might be a little bit of an over exaggeration.

It’s actually kind of dumb.

But did he have fun setting it up? Absolutely. And that’s all that matters, right?

Tommy rounds the corner, going straight for her locker with an almost bored look on her face. The combination is in, the lock is off, she’s pushing up the handle to open the door, and…

Dozens of doughnuts fall out, all hitting Tommy on the way down because she’s just standing there, frozen, until it stops.

Thankfully they aren’t glazed or iced, but… still. Where did someone get this many doughnuts just to stuff them in her locker? And how did they get into her locker to do it? Also, if they weren’t going to spring for some chocolate sprinkled (at the very least), they could’ve just used bagels and it would’ve had the same effect. Circular bread. Even if they are made from different dough.

“What… the hell?”

“Whoa, Tommy,” Zack says, smiling as he walks towards her. “Didn’t realize you liked doughnuts that much…”

Tommy slowly turns to look at him.

“I think it’s unsanitary not keeping those in some sort of container, though…”

“What is this, Taylor?”

Zack shrugs. “A bunch of doughnuts in your locker.”

“But why ?”

“Oh, Tommy…”

Zack . I’m not cleaning this up.”

He shakes his head. “No, I didn’t expect you to. I’ve got it, don’t worry.”

“What was the point?”

Zack sighs. “ Well . Mostly to see the look on your face, and that was gold . But, I also thought you should understand how… important doughnuts are to the five of us. The answer is very . Also, don’t eat any of them. They’re from the reject pile at work, and I got them for free, so I wouldn’t take my chances.”

Tommy nods, still slightly confused. “How’d you get in there, and what did you do with my stuff?”

“Oh. I got your combo from Billy, and your stuff is in my locker. My, Trini, and Kim’s locker.”

“You’re fitting four people’s things in one locker?”

Zack shakes his head. “Nah, just three. All my stuff’s at home.”

It wasn't as terrible as she was expecting, but if this is his way of initiating her into the Ranger Squad, she still needs to fire back. She isn't entirely sure how she'll do that yet, but it's gonna happen. "This was really unnecessary."

"Unnecessary is my middle name," Zack says, and then pauses. He was expecting her to call him extra; Zachary "Extra" Taylor has a much better ring to it. "Wow, that was sad."

"Yeah, you walked into that one." She spins on her heel to walk away. "I'm leaving."

"Alright. Welcome to the team, Tommy!"

Tommy shakes her head. "Have fun cleaning that up, Taylor."

 

---

 

*Long Drawn Out Sigh*

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | toliver | it’skimberly! | trini//]

toliver: Um… guys…

toliver: So when you feel that stuff from the link thing…

toliver: It’s like? You just sorta KNOW it’s not coming from you, right?

toliver: That’s how it happens?

lil z: yeah, p much

lil z: whatcha feelin, girl?

toliver: Uh

toliver: Idk, a little terrified? It’s faint, but I can tell it isn’t coming from me.

lil z: oh… well… my guess is someone’s havin a nightmare

toliver: Yeah, I was asleep, so I sorta figured.

toliver: Do you know who?

lil z: well there’s a one in four chance that a guess would be correct

goldenboi: It isn’t from me, and I’m not w/ any of the others rn

goldenboi: But I don’t think it’s from Billy

lil z: ya, me either

goldenboi: ur that in sync w/ him too?

lil z: apparently so

toliver: So that narrows it down

lil z: it’s prob trini. but if it’s kim, either way they’ll be w/ each other, so we don’t have to worry abt anything

toliver: Are u sure? Bc I know you guys said my connection to y’all would be weaker at first, and this is p uncomfortable

goldenboi: Oh, well… I think Trini’s nightmare situation in particular is a little complicated for *us* to explain

lil z: ya, that’s 4 t to talk abt if she wants to

toliver: Oh. Alright, I guess

toliver: Guess I’m back to sleep, then

lil z: bye, have better dreams this time

 

 

Double T

[toliver | trini//]

toliver: Hey, I’m starting to feel stuff through the link and the guys said it was probably you having a nightmare. Are you okay?

 

---

 

They’re both sitting on Trini’s bed, facing each other on either end instead of side by side. It isn’t the worst nightmare she’s had, and she did manage to get a good amount of sleep, but it’s still taking a while for her to calm down from all of that adrenaline.

Kim’s phone constantly going off doesn’t make it much easier.

The only reason she can’t immediately turn the ringer off is because she left her phone on the desk after she first climbed through the window. That wouldn’t be a problem if she could remember what Trini keeps telling her and just turned the sound off before it could become a problem. But that’s easier said than done. She’s used to hearing her phone; not having to check it or respond to the buzzing from being on vibrate.

Once it is off, they can more clearly hear Trini’s phone buzzing instead. That goes off a couple more times before it stops, and they’re sitting in silence again.

And then it buzzes one more time , and Kim notices that her own screen isn’t lighting up.

“That one’s just to you; I didn’t get another notification.”

Trini takes a deep breath before grabbing her phone to check it, clicking the power button once before just throwing it onto the space in front of her. “It’s Tommy.”

“You don’t have to answer any of them right now. You just need to focus on staying calm.”

Staying calm is exactly what she wants to do. But right now all she can focus on is how… confused she is. Tommy was sort of in her nightmare. Maybe not Tommy , maybe just RitaPossessed! Tommy, but either way it’s still the same face. And now Tommy’s texting her, but that’s not normal . Tommy never messages just her . The timing is… it just doesn’t feel right.

“I have to bring it up eventually,” Trini says, mostly to herself. “It’d probably save a lot of confusion, and I guess… she sort of deserves to know.”

Kimberly doesn’t really know what she’s talking about, but it isn’t hard to take a leap and guess. Tommy knows about their history with Rita, but she doesn’t know Trini’s . [They didn’t mention what happened with Billy, either. She had just found out about being a Ranger; throwing that heavy stuff out there on top of that seemed like too much.]

But Tommy’s involved now, so she deserves to know what happened and how it now relates to her. Trini needs her to understand that she doesn’t hate her, but that she still can’t get past the thought that Rita has some sort of hold on her. The last time she was face to face with Rita it was bad enough. And before that, when she was attacked in her room, it was worse. She was helpless and couldn’t do anything--back then she couldn’t morph yet.

She can’t morph (completely) now either. That’s probably what the nightmare was about. It’s like history is repeating itself and she’s trying not to put that all on Tommy, but… It’s not easy.

It’s not fair, either. To any of them.

“I don’t think I can tell her about this stuff in person,” Trini says, and then pauses to elaborate. But she can’t come up with the words to explain what she means. That physically being in front of Tommy while talking about Rita would be too much.

“Text her tomorrow and explain it then.”

She still feels weird about it, but just accepts it’s the best thing she can do.

Kim waits a moment before speaking again. “Do you want me to text them and let them know you’re alright?”

“I don’t know. Sure?”

As she unlocks her phone to pull up the group chat, Kim glances up once. “What are the chances of you getting some sleep before morning?”

Trini sighs, shrugging. “Not high, but not impossible.”

Not impossible is better than nothing.

 

---

 

Double T

[toliver | trini//]

trini//: I’m fine, but thanks for checking in

trini//: I’ll explain what they were talking abt later tho

trini//: it’s kinda complicated

 

---

 

When they invited Tommy over to Billy’s house for an after school hang out, they didn’t take the proper precautions to double check the area for anything they didn’t want to be found. And when she asked if she could be nosy and look around the place, Billy said he didn’t mind as long as she didn’t touch anything. It isn’t the end of the world. Not technically.

But it might as well be with the image they have before them.

Tommy, now looking at them after having found something on one of Billy’s desks, and a slight smile on her face as she says, “Did I just find your mixtape or something?”

That’s a very good question. That they don’t want to answer.

Because the answer is yes.

[Not technically a mixtape , but a CD.]

The one song that Jason secretly recorded.

They were careless… Leaving it out in the open like that.

Honestly, they deserve to be exposed for not being smart enough to hide it.

“Uh. Yes,” Zack says.

“Wait, so this is really all of you? You’re playing music on this thing?”

Trini nods. “Unfortunately.”

“Is that a condition of being on your Ranger team? I’ve gotta join the band?” she asks, crossing her arms.

Jason’s about to say no , but Tommy still looks like she’s ready to say something.

“I mean… I don’t have much to offer musically, but I can rock a mean triangle.”

“Actually…” Zack starts to say, but the look Trini’s giving him makes him stop. “No, it was just something we did for fun back when we had free time.”

“Free time and extra energy,” Kim adds.

Billy nods. “It was fun while it lasted. I kind of miss it, but Kim’s right. We don’t have the energy for it even when we aren’t busy. A triangle would be interesting to add to the composition, though.”

“What did you write songs about?” she asks. “Saving the world, secret identities, being super gay for eachother?”

“Unfortunately most of those songs were taken. Hannah Montana beat us to the cut.” Kimberly shakes her head sadly.

Zack jumps a little, making an enthusiastic noise. “Ah! My taco song!”

“You wrote a song about tacos?” Tommy asks, more amused than anything.

“No, please don’t bring that up again.” Trini shakes her head. “I had almost forgotten about it completely.”

“It was actually a good song,” Billy says, and Zack smiles at him before sticking his tongue out at Trini.

Tommy’s still smiling. “Okay, now you have to share it with me. Zack Taylor the secret poet? I’ve gotta hear that.”

“Unfortunately it was never recorded. It only exists on paper. Or, through text,” Jason says.

“I want to read it, then.”

Zack throws some finger guns in her direction. “Don’t worry; I’ve got you.”

He has to sift through some stuff on his phone for a while, but eventually he finds his “masterpiece,” and sends it to Tommy. She takes her time looking through it, and, as Zack would say, completely immersing herself in his artistic genius. While he’s thinking about it, he should probably give it a real name. Not that The Taco Song is terrible, but something that great deserves a more… poetic title. He’ll have to take his time on that one.

“This…” Tommy says, lowering her phone. “Is amazing. You are truly talented.”

“Yes! Thank you!”

Trini stares at her. “Are you serious?”

She nods. “Yeah. I honestly kind of love it.”

“Art recognizes art, T.” Zack smiles, and Trini shakes her head.

“You have no idea what you’re saying.”

Tommy turns back to Billy’s desk, looking over everything again. “Am I gonna come across more stuff like that if I keep looking? Please say yes.”

They really really hope not.

And they mostly means Jason and Trini. The others don’t really care what she finds.

 

---

 

"He filled your locker... with doughnuts...?" Kimberly says slowly. The more she thinks about it, the more it actually makes sense.  Or, it doesn't make sense, but the fact that Zack did it does.

Tommy suddenly looks a lot less confused, and a little more relieved. "So that isn't normal?"

Trini shakes her head. "I don't know if anything Zack does is normal."

“That’s pretty resourceful, though,” Kim says. “I’ve gotta give him credit for that.”

“So what do we do?” Tommy asks, looking back and forth at the two of them.

“Were Jason and Billy in on it?”

“He said Billy’s the one who got him into my locker, so. Yeah, probably.”

Trini sits up a bit, surprised. “He got Billy in on it? Wow.”

“Did you have any ideas?” Kim asks, crossing her arms.

Tommy nods. “Yeah, a couple…”

They wait for her to continue, but just end up sitting in silence. Trini leans forward, raising her eyebrows. “Care to enlighten us…?”

“No, I want your ideas first.”

“But that’s so complicated. Why wouldn’t you just tell us what you already have?”

“If I tell you my ideas, it’ll change the way you’re thinking. I need unbiased thoughts first.”

Kim glances at Trini, but she looks just as confused. “...What?”

“It makes sense, trust me.”

“How are you and Zack so similar but so different at the same time?” Trini asks, shaking her head.

“So you’ll help me?”

Kim nods. “Uh, a chance to mess with Zack? Hell yeah.”

“Nice!” Tommy puts a hand in the air so the two of them can high five, and Trini sits back, slightly worried about where this is going.

“Why do I feel like I’m babysitting right now?”

“T. Come on.” Kim gives her a meaningful look. “You can’t tell me you don’t want to mess with him.”

“I didn’t say I didn’t want to. I’m just saying the two of you are high maintenance, and one of us has to be thinking straight so we don’t get arrested.”

Tommy attempts to hold back a smile. “You should’ve used a different expression, because I’ve got dozens of straight jokes running through my head right now, and I desperately want to use a few.”

“We won’t get arrested,” Kim says. “He put doughnuts in her locker; we don’t need to retaliate with anything too serious.”

Trini’s going to agree to help out because she does want the chance to mess with Zack (after the hundreds of times he’s gotten away with messing with her), but they don’t need to know how committed to this she is. But she stands by her statement that Kimberly and Tommy are high maintenance; she is serious about one of them needing to be the responsible one. And, honestly, she doesn’t have a problem with that person being her .

She kind of prefers it that way.

 

---

 

Double T

[toliver | trini//]

trini//: look, I get a lot of nightmares. We all do, but it’s a little more of a problem for me and billy

trini//: we kind of had our own encounters w/ Rita before she attacked all of us

toliver: Oh. I’m sorry; you don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to. I get that it’s weird.

trini//: it /is/ weird, but you’re a part of it now, so u should know why I’m acting like a bitch to you all the time

trini//: Rita broke into my house while I was sleeping and attacked me before any of us could morph. She almost killed me. And then bc of that, I accidentally lead everyone else to a trap she was planning, and she killed Billy. He drowned. But we carried him back to the ship, and Zordon transferred the extra energy from the morphing grid to bring him back

trini//: we got lucky. So it’s a little more personal for the two of us. But Billy’s better at separating the two of you in his head.

trini//: I think u can get why I wasn’t jumping at the chance to believe u were innocent

toliver: No, I understand why you wouldn’t trust me. You guys have been through a lot; I wouldn’t want to take any chances either.

toliver: Actually, I’m a little surprised you’ve all trusted me as much as you have. I haven’t done anything to prove that I’m on your side

trini//: yeah, that wasn’t from me. You can thank the others for that

trini//: Zack has a big heart

trini//: they all do

toliver: I know you didn’t have to tell me about any of that, but thanks for doing it anyway.

toliver: Kinda feel like garbage knowing her coin chose me as a replacement

toliver: But if I can do anything to keep that “evil energy” or w/e it’s called at bay, then I will

trini//: thanks

toliver: Thank y’all for not locking me up down in that ship

trini//: don’t thank me for that either

toliver: Ok, you don’t have to tell me every time you haven’t been on my side

toliver: I mean that in the most lighthearted way possible

trini//: hey, I don’t have anything against you as a person, Tommy

trini//: I want to get Rita out of your coin too

toliver: Let’s hope that happens sooner than later

trini//: definitely

 

---

 

*Long Drawn Out Sigh*

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | toliver | it’skimberly! | trini//]

lil z: hey, guys

lil z: fun fact

lil z: we’re still connected by the link, and the last time smth like this happened it was very VERY uncomfortable, so keep it in ur pants?

lil z: k thnx bye

toliver: Oh, god. We’re connected THAT way, too?

lil z: sorry to be the one to break it to u

lil z: literally, tho. @trimberly i’m w/ the boys and this isn’t from tommy

lil z: like, congrats, but also, pls stop

trini//: we aren’t doing anything

lil z: evidence says otherwise

it’skimberly!: Hey, another fun fact: if you just stop focusing on everyone else’s emotions, they’ll just… go away

it’skimberly!: Mind blowing, I know

lil z: whEN DID U FIGURE THIS OUT?

it’skimberly!: Shortly after “the last time smth like this happened”

toliver: I'm sorry, what?

toliver: "Trimberly"

toliver: What happened to "We're really close, but you're assumption is WRONG"????

lil z: hmm, good question

toliver: Oh my god...

toliver: I just realized when I brought up the power rangers before I knew they were you, Kim said her favorite ranger was yellow...

toliver: And Trini, reluctantly, said pink was her fave...

lil z: they've been flirting w/ e/o all the time how are u just now questioning it

toliver: I'm a naturally flirty person; I just assumed it was normal for all of you to flirt w/ each other.

lil z: to an extent, but nothing they do is platonic anymore

toliver: Funny that they've just disappeared again...

lil z: "we aren't doing anything"

lil z: you're only proving us right by leaving

 

---

 

“So we’re making this official?”

Trini nods. “Looks that way, yeah.”

“But, like… official official? Or just official?”

“Is that how you and your cheer buddies labeled things, because I don’t understand what you mean…?”

Kimberly rolls her eyes, pushing herself up into a sitting position. Trini doesn’t move from how she’s lying on her side of the bed. “I mean, are we official just to our friends? Or are we going public? Or semi -public?”

“Oh. Semi-public sounds okay to me.”

“Okay. So what about family stuff?” Kim glances down and to the side to see Trini’s eyes widen, and she quickly shakes her head. “No, I mean… Your brothers already sort of know. But it’s fine if I don’t keep it from my parents anymore?”

“Yeah, that’s totally up to you. I thought you said they weren’t that involved in your life right now, though? That all they care about is you staying out of trouble so you don’t get barred from every decent college you might apply to.”

Kim nods. “No, that’s right. But I still talk to them when I can. They don’t want to cut me off, and I’m supposed to… try being more open with them. My relationship with them is complicated.” She pauses. “But what about your parents? Is anything happening with them?”

Trini’s hesitant to say anything because she doesn’t really know how to answer that. Her relationship with her parents is also complicated. “Not really. My mom said she was okay when everything first went down, but if I told her, or she somehow found out about us… I think it’d get a lot more real for her. Maybe too real. I don’t know.”

Things are getting too real for all of them.

This isn’t how their high school years were supposed to go.

Sometimes they forget about how messed up everything is for them compared to other people.

“So are we going to respond to them now?” Kim asks, gesturing to their phones lying in between them on the bed.

“Oh.” Trini grabs for hers. “Right. I forgot about that.”

 

---

 

*Long Drawn Out Sigh*

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | toliver | it’skimberly! | trini//]

it’skimberly!: We still didn’t really know what we were, and we had just met you. That seemed like smth a little too complicated to explain on the spot like that

toliver: Ok… I guess that makes sense.

toliver: I stand by my earlier statement that you’d be cute together. I was right.

trini//: when did you say that??

toliver: Maybe I just said it in my head.

toliver: Oh well. It’s out there now.

trini//: ...thanks?

lil z: u totally changed the subject. If this is smth we’re feeling, we have the right to know. You don’t get to deny smth like that… don’t discredit our feelings…

goldenboi: We may have the right to know, but I would prefer NOT to. Pls and thank you.

billyc: Zack said they first experienced that aspect of our connection because of me and you, Jason. I don’t think they wanted to know about that, either, but they didn’t get the choice.

lil z: exactly

trini//: woww, so z and k felt stuff from you guys, and tommy saw you, and I’m over here. Blessed w/ not having to experience any of that

it’skimberly!: Whatever, you don’t have the right to know anything Zack. Just tune out w/e you’re feeling

lil z: kimberly

lil z: i’m hurt

trini//: dude, we deserve SOME privacy

lil z: well that i do agree with

lil z: however

lil z: we didn't know that was possible until kim told us a half hour ago

lil z: so u still have smth to answer for

trini//: honestly Zack. We weren't doing anything

lil z: maybe, but u were THINKING abt doing smth weren't u

trini//: ok THAT is actually none of ur business

it'skimberly!: I get that we're close, guys. But I'm not sure I want us to be close enough to feel comfortable talking about *this*

goldenboi: Me either

lil z: no, I don't think any of us WANT that, it's just smth that comes w the job

trini//: this job sucks

itskimberly!: How about we just make a pact that we'll work on tuning e/o's emotions out when it's necessary?

lil z: that I can agree to

lil z: ty

 

---

 

When Trini grabs for a potato chip to throw at Zack, he quickly throws his hands up in defense and tells her to wait as Kim chimes in to add that she’s having a good hair day and doesn’t want to sit through a food fight. They’ve been able to throw things at each other before--a crumpled up napkin or stray fry--but they aren’t taking any chances today. Trini settles for kicking him under the table.

Billy had been helping Jason to stack their plastic utensils with other random objects they could find in the cafeteria, but the movement from the kick shakes the table enough to make their creation fall over.

“Aw, Trini,” Jason says sadly, but Billy barely pauses before he begins to reconstruct it.

“Sorry guys.”

Tommy’s sort of staring off into space, not paying any attention to what’s going on around the table.

Zack notices, glancing at her once before turning back to his food. “Yo, Tommy. What’s up? You’re lookin’ a little spaced.”

Tommy blinks a couple of times, her eyes glowing green for a second, and then looks back at the others, seemingly back to normal. “Sorry. What?”

No one seems to notice what just happened except for Trini, and even she’s doubting that it wasn’t her imagination. It only lasted for a second , and nothing else looks like it’s off at all. But her eyes looked exactly like Rita’s. The image of them is still permanently stuck in her mind; that isn’t something she would easily forget.

But that doesn’t mean it was real.

“Trini,” Jason says. “Are you okay?”

“Are any of us?” Zack asks. “First Tommy, now T. Am I missing something?”

She doesn’t really know how to process it, and she doesn’t know how to even approach telling them what’s going on. Especially with Tommy sitting right there. She has no idea if Tommy’s Tommy right now, because apparently she looks exactly the same when Rita’s taking over. Not that she would know that first hand, but if Tommy was able to go through school possessed without anyone noticing anything off, then it’s safe to assume she looks exactly the same.

The green eyes could be the signal for when her consciousness shifts.

Should she stay quiet? She might be able to make it to the end of lunch without freaking out too much. But then again, if Tommy’s Rita, she doesn’t want to be anywhere near her.

But that’s putting everyone else in danger.

She’s sort of stuck.

She ends up nodding so Jason doesn’t keep questioning her, and that’s enough to get her through the rest of lunch.

But Kimberly isn’t convinced that everything’s fine. She’s asking if Trini’s okay before they can make it out into the hallway.

There’s a big part of her that wants to ignore it. She’s had hallucinations like these before, so it’s very possible that that’s all it is now. But it’s also very possible that it was real .

When she still can’t give an answer, Kim pulls her into the nearest bathroom and then waits until it sounds like the halls have cleared out. Just to ensure they’ll be alone for now. Neither of them need to be ditching anymore, but this’ll have to be an exception.

“What the hell is going on?” she asks. “Please talk to me. You’re freaking out right now.”

“I thought…” Trini starts to say, but then shakes her head. “I don’t know.”

“Trini.”

She takes a moment to figure out how to word it. “Tommy’s eyes were green.”

“Ok… A lot of people have green eyes, Trin. It’s just a funny coincidence.”

She shakes her head. “No. Tommy doesn’t have green eyes. And even if she did, they wouldn’t look like… that.”

Kim tries to think that over, but isn’t coming up with anything. “What does that mean?”

“I don’t know.”

“Are you sure that’s what you saw?”

“No. That’s why I didn’t say anything.”

“But they were green. Like, Rita green?”

Trini nods. “When she broke into my room and morphed in front of me, that’s exactly what she looked like.”

“So she could be dangerous right now.”

I don’t know , Kim.”

Kim steps forward, putting her hands on Trini’s shoulders to steady her. “Alright, I’ll text the guys and tell them to be on guard, but you need to calm down. We can’t figure anything out if you aren’t thinking clearly.”

“Okay. Fine.” After Kim lets go of her, she moves back, looking around the bathroom before pushing herself up to sit on one of the sinks. “God, why can’t we just fix her stupid coin? I fucking hate this.”

Trini .”

What?

“Look, I don’t have a speech to give you to convince you to listen to me, so can you just… do me a favor and try to relax? For five minutes?”

Trini finally pauses to take a deep breath, and then she nods. “Yeah.”

“Thank you.”

They both take the time (and silence) to calm down and recollect their thoughts. And that helps them both to realize there isn’t anything they can do while the others are still in class. They can’t exactly pull Tommy out of Math with the excuse that they just want to check and see if she’s evil right now.

“Are we going back to class?” Kim ends up asking.

“We should.”

“But are we?”

Trini only shrugs in response.

“I don’t need to get into anymore trouble. You can stay, but I’m going back.”

She doesn’t even need to think about it to know that she’s leaving and going back with Kim. Even if ditching is much more appealing.

They don’t make it very far from the bathroom before running into another obstacle.

An administrator who happened to be roaming the area spots them from the other end of the hall, and then calls out to ask if they have a hall pass.

Kimberly sighs, muttering, “Fuck me,” under her breath as the admin walks closer to them.

Trini barely has enough time to whisper back, “Tempting, but I don’t think this is the time or place.”

Kim tries to elbow her as subtly as possible, and then finally tells the guy that she was taking Trini to the nurse because she wasn't feeling well. It's the only excuse she could come up with on the spot.

He nods, gesturing behind them. “The nurse’s office is that way.”

“Oh,” Kim turns, nodding. “Right. Thanks.”

So the upside is that they don’t get in trouble. The downside is that Kim actually has to take Trini to the nurse because it’s in the same direction the administrator is going.

That’s one really awkward walk across the school.

 

---

 

The car ride home Trini takes with her mom isn’t much better. It’s quiet for the first five minutes of the ride, and then her mom finally breaks the silence.

“You don’t look sick. Was this just a way to get out of class?”

Trini sighs, shaking her head. “No.”

“Why am I picking you up then?”

“I don’t know. I’ve had a bad day, I don’t feel good, and I’m not gonna get any work done if I stay.”

Her mom nods slowly for a moment. “You’re going to make up everything you miss.”

“Yeah. I know.”

They aren’t too far from home now, but the silence that fills the car again is terrible . If they at least had the radio on it wouldn’t be so bad, but at this point she’s too afraid to that turning music on will launch them into some sort of argument. About what? She has no idea. But she doesn’t doubt that it would happen.

“What are you going to do when we get home?”

“I don’t know. Sleep, probably.”

“Then you don’t feel well enough to need your phone. Hand it over.”

Trini knows that her mom’s way of saying, “You’re getting out of class, so you have to give something up in return.”

Giving up her phone isn’t the worst thing. She has a passcode on it, and her messages just show up as Text Message instead of displaying what it actually says, so she shouldn’t have to worry about anything popping up on it to get her into trouble. But she’s still hesitant. “You aren’t going to look through my stuff are you?”

“Why? Do you have something to hide?”

“Just the number of my drug dealer.” Or the fact that she’s a superhero and has a girlfriend.

Her mom glares at her, and it lasts long enough to scare Trini a little. They’re still driving, and the amount of time she has her eyes off the road is slightly worrying.

“Bad joke. Sorry,” she says. “No, I don’t have anything to hide.”

“Good.”

She sends off a message in the group chat that she won’t have her phone before she hands it over.

Things stay as boring as she had expected it would be without her phone. When they get home she does try to sleep--because catching up on that would be nice--but doesn’t have any luck. And it might be boring, but having some time just to herself isn’t the worst thing that could happen. It’s a nice excuse to do nothing for a while.

Oddly enough, the solitude doesn’t even last very long.

She’s pretty sure she’s actually hallucinating when she hears a knock and sees Zack pop up in her doorway. Zack in her house? In her room? Without using the window and having to bypass her mother downstairs? No way.

“‘Sup, Crazy Girl?”

Trini looks around her room--not for anything in particular, but maybe something to explain what’s going on. “Uh… How the hell did you get in here?”

“Your mom let me in,” he says, shrugging.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Your mom,” he says again. “Let me in.”

She has to take a moment to process that. “Why? What did you say to her?”

“I just asked if you were home, if you were okay, and if you could talk.”

“...And she let you in?”

He smiles. “Yeah. Now you’re getting it.”

Actually, the more she thinks about it, the more it makes sense. Of course her mom would let Zack in. He knows how to come off as charming and responsible in certain situations, and this one in particular seemed to convince her mother that he’s one of the good ones . Just thinking about that makes her smile and start to laugh a little.

“What’s happening? I wanna laugh too.”

She shakes her head. “No, it really isn’t funny at all.”

Zack finally walks farther into her room, jumping onto the foot of her bed. “Try me.”

“Okay… You and Kim are the only people who have come by my house the normal way and met my mom. When Kim came by, my mom didn’t let her in the house at all , and sat at the door interrogating her for ten minutes when all she was trying to do was drop off schoolwork. Now you’re here, asking to talk to me , and she let you up into my room. It’s not funny. It’s terrible.”

“No. That’s hilarious.” Zack smiles. “You wanna make it even better? She told me you have an open door policy.”

“Oh my god.” She gets it. She really does. But the idea of her needing an open door policy with Zack over?

“I’m glad I didn’t risk using your window this time,” he continues. “And you know, I thought she was a little intense, but with the way you described how she was with Kim? I think your mom must actually like me.”

Trini nods. “Well, yeah. She let you into my room; that’s pretty much her giving you her blessing.”

“Even with the open door?”

Especially with the open door. Are you kidding me?”

“You have to admit… Our kids would be adorable.”

She moves to kick him, but he easily dodges.

“Actually, that’s kind of why I’m here.”

To talk about… their figurative children? “What?”

“I’m talking about my love life.”

Oh.

Yeah, she’d much rather talk about that.

“Okay. Lay it on me.”

Zack stares at her, a neutral expression on his face.

“Dude?”

This time he nods. “Okay, I’m gonna tell you exactly what happened.”

She waits for another stretch of silence, and he doesn’t make any move to continue. “Really? ‘Cause it looks like you’re stalling.”

“No, I’m gonna tell you,” he says, and then takes a deep breath. “I was ready to talk to the guys. So I met up with them to get it over with, but they wanted to talk to me about something first, so I told them to go ahead. I wasn’t in any rush. And they beat me to it. They told me they were into me.”

...What?

“And then I said, ‘Cool. Me too,’ and made up an excuse to leave.”

“You…” Trini trails off, staring at him. “Let me get this straight. They told you that they were both into you. You said, ‘Cool. Me too.’ And ran away.”

He nods.

“But you don’t run from your problems, Z. That’s my thing.”

“Yeah, that’s why I came to you.”

Well that doesn’t make any sense at all . She’s having a hard time understanding that he ran when they were returning his feelings. Especially since he was preparing to tell them the same thing at the exact same time . Not that she’s an expert, but that doesn’t seem like a Zack type of reaction.

“Oh my god. Zack, you’re an idiot.”

“Yep.”

“Why did you run?” she asks, and he shrugs.

“I wasn’t expecting it. I was prepared for rejection; I had no gameplan for them feeling the same way.”

“Dude…”

“So what do I do?”

The answer seems pretty obvious to her, so she has no idea why he came here . “You go find them and talk to them.”

“Okay.” He nods.

“I can’t believe you didn’t think they were into you at all .”

Zack crosses his arms. “Now isn’t the time to judge my denial, T. But if we are throwing around judgement… I’ve noticed that you are wearing cartoon cacti on your pajama pants.”

Trini looks down at her pants, then back up at him with a very serious expression on her face. “What of it?”

“Nothing. I think they’re cute,” he says with a smile.

She keeps staring at him, eventually just shaking her head because she’s ready to move on. Zack needs to go after Jason and Billy and figure things out with them, and leave Trini’s room so her mom doesn’t start getting nosy.

They can address her cactus pants later.

 

---

 

Rainbow Rangers

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | it’skimberly! | trini//]

lil z: btw, tommy seemed fine for the rest of today

trini//: figured

it’skimberly!: Even if we’re wrong, it’s better to be prepared

trini//: still

trini//: do you think there might be a way we can do smth abt this? Instead of doing nothing but waiting around?

goldenboi: Maybe. But we don’t really know how this stuff works. If it’s just through the coin, or if it’s in our link and the grid

billyc: We can try to work through all of our options, but the energy might wear off before we figure anything out.

lil z: that’s tru

trini//: alright :/

 

---

 

Zack’s train is actually a really nice place to sit down and think about things without worrying about interruptions or responsibilities. It’s why Tommy winds up down here--on one of the logs by the fire pit instead of on top of the train--turning her power coin over in her hands. It’s supposed to be her way of figuring things out or coming to terms with everything that’s happened. It isn’t really working.

No interruptions isn’t true either. Jason finds her there, walking over to their little campfire area to join her.

“Hey. What are you doing out here?”

Tommy shrugs, only looking up once before turning back to her coin. “I don’t know. Trying to figure this out? I guess now that I know she’s… in my head, and I know what she’s done, this is all a lot scarier than it used to be.”

He nods, taking a seat near her. Not right next to her, but close enough that he isn’t invading personal space or acting like he needs to be as far as possible because she’s dangerous or something. “Yeah… I know it’s gotta be a lot to handle. The ranger thing on its own was hard for all of us, but your coin came with something the rest of us didn’t have to deal with.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

Jason pulls his coin out of his pocket, looking over it before he holds it out to Tommy so they can compare both of theirs.

Tommy stares at both of them, eyebrows drawn together. “They don’t look that different. Color thing aside.”

“Were you expecting something else?”

She nods. “Yeah, maybe a white aura around yours to signify that you’re one of the good guys.”

“You aren’t a bad person, Tommy.”

That isn’t something she’s ready to agree with. “Then why did this thing choose me? Y’all are always saying it’s the coin who chooses us. It’s who the coin deems to be worthy. This coin… it said Rita was worthy. So I’m… There’s no reason that I should think I’m any better than her.”

“Maybe. But I don’t think it chooses based on who it knows you’ll become. I think it chooses based on potential. And it’s up to you to prove it right or wrong,” he says. “Rita wasted her chance and became power hungry and cynical and destructive. We’re all capable of taking the wrong path. Here.”

Jason holds his coin out until Tommy opens her other hand, allowing him to place it there.

“You said it yourself,” he says. “They’re the same. You can make the same mistakes she did. But you don’t have to.”

Tommy looks down at the two coins, slowly shaking her head. “That’s one damn good pep talk, Scott.”

“Yeah. I’m kind of known for them.”

“Why does mine look cleaner than yours?”

Jason leans forward to look at the coins too. “Our coins were buried underground in rock for millions of years. Yours was at the bottom of the ocean.”

“Oh.” She starts to rub her thumb over his coin, testing to see if the dirt is actually ingrained in the thing, or if Jason’s just too lazy to grab a rag and wipe it down.

Jason sits back, slowly being overcome with an odd discomfort that he can’t really explain. And then it isn’t just uncomfortable, there’s a sharp pain. “ Ow .”

Tommy almost jumps. “What?”

Jason stares at her, a hand on his chest as he tries to figure out what just happened. The pain only lasted for a moment, but the discomfort is still there. He can’t focus very well, but the one thing he can see is his coin still in Tommy’s hand. And that’s the only thing that seems out of place.

Drop my coin.

She lets go of it immediately, the coin falling to the ground as Jason sort of slides out of his seat and down onto his knees. He’s taking deep breaths, so he’s probably fine now, but Tommy’s still freaking out.

“Shit. What did I do?”

 

---

 

*Long Drawn Out Sigh*

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | toliver | it’skimberly! | trini//]

trini//: is that Jason??

it’skimberly!: What the hell

billyc: What was that?

trini//: do u guys know if he’s ok?

lil z: it feels like he’s calming down

lil z: blue?

billyc: Yeah, it feels like he’s relaxing

trini//: but? What?

it’skimberly!: Where is he?

billyc: I don’t know

lil z: so?? what do we do??

trini//: if he doesn’t respond we should prob go look for him

toliver: I don’t know what happened, but I think it was my fault

lil z: what?

toliver: I don’t know?

toliver: He’s fine, but we’re at the train car

it’skimberly!: Otw

trini//: ^^

lil z: ^

billyc: I’m on my way too

 

---

 

“What do you mean? You were just holding his coin and he collapsed?” Trini asks, completely unconvinced by the story.

“No,” Tommy says. “I was holding it, he said ‘Ow,’ and he told me to drop the coin, so I did and he was okay again. Sort of.”

“Something else had to happen for that to hurt him,” Billy says, slightly confused.

Tommy shrugs. “I don’t know what you want me to say. That’s what happened.”

Jason nods. “That is what happened.”

But Billy’s right. It doesn’t make sense that she could be holding the coin, and then it randomly hurts Jason. Nothing triggering it; it just happened. They’re all throwing their ideas out in the open, but it isn’t getting them anywhere. At this point they’re just arguing to argue.

Kimberly has had enough of it, saying loud enough for the others to pay attention to her, “Oh my god. There’s an easier way we can figure this out. Here .”

She places her coin in Tommy’s hand, stepping back and crossing her arms to wait. Every one of them stares at the coin.

“Is something happening?” Zack asks, and Kim shakes her head.

“I don’t feel anything.”

“What does that mean…?”

Jason clears his throat. “She wasn’t… just holding it. She was sort of… rubbing it…”

“What?”

“She was trying to clean it.”

Trini finds that hard to believe. She randomly wants to clean Jason’s Power Coin? That totally makes sense. “Why?”

“I don’t know.” Tommy shrugs.

“Do the same thing to mine, then,” Kim says, gesturing to her coin.

“Are you sure?”

She nods.

So Tommy does that, but Kimberly isn’t feeling any different. She gives it a minute before shaking her head. “Nothing’s happening.”

“Are you sure that’s all you were doing?” Billy asks.

“No. I don’t remember what I was doing. My mind blanked as soon as I realized he was hurt,” Tommy says, and she might be starting to freak out. Just a little.

“Alright,” Kim says, holding her hand out. “Give me your coin.”

Once Tommy hands that to her, Kim begins to turn it over in her hands, scratching at it, pressing into it, just random things to get some sort of reaction out of it.

“Fuck. Ow,” Tommy says, taking a step back. “What’d you do?”

Kim looks back and forth at Tommy and the coin, and then she presses down on the middle of the coin again.

Stop . God, Kim. What the hell?”

“That’s weird…”

Tommy’s trying to catch her breath now. “What is happening?”

“I don’t know. You put pressure on the color part of someone’s coin, and it… hurts. For some reason.”

“You mean for all of us?” Zack asks. “Or just because Tommy has Rita in her coin?”

“Does someone want to volunteer to test it out?” Jason asks.

Kim doesn’t even pause before she switches out her coin with Tommy’s, and then continues to hand hers to Trini. Trini shakes her head.

“What? I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Just do it. I’ll be fine.”

And Trini does.

And nothing happens.

“There’s your answer,” Kim says to Zack, and then all five of them turn to Tommy.

They know that this isn’t technically her fault, but it is something else they need to look out for. If Tommy gets possessed again, she’ll know to go for their coins for an easy way to hurt them.

This just keeps getting more and more complicated.

“Tommy,” Jason says, but Tommy’s turning around and walking away.

“Nope.”

“We’ll figure this out.”

She shakes her head, walking faster, hoping they’ll just let her go. She doesn’t have the energy to listen to them say things are gonna be fine, and they just need to stick together . That might work for them. But she isn’t really a part of the team yet. She won’t be until Rita’s completely gone. Or until she gives them a reason to trust her. But she’s pretty sure she can’t do that until everything else is over with.

She’s better off just leaving right now.

The others watch her leave, but Jason isn’t ready to give up just yet. He was getting somewhere earlier. The coin thing got in the way, but he’s almost positive he was helping her figure this out before that happened. It’s his leader instincts kicking in--he doesn’t want to watch a teammate leave like that, thinking everything is her fault.

He made that mistake with Trini already.

“Should we go after her, or…?” Zack asks, and instead of answering, Jason starts walking after her. Zack nods slowly. “So that’s a yes?”

“Am I the only one that feels like this is about to go terribly?” Trini asks.

Kim shakes her head. “No, I’m right there with you.”

It isn’t hard to catch up to Tommy. She didn’t think they’d follow, so she hadn’t gone any faster than just walking. She regrets that decision as soon as she hears Jason call out for her to stop.

“No.”

“Tommy, come on.”

Tommy stops walking, spinning around to yell, “What’s the fucking point, Jason? Because I don’t get it. Why are you so set on following me and getting me to talk? Why is it so hard for you to let me leave?”

“You’re one of us. You’re a part of the team now, and you don’t have to go through all of this alo--”

“You can tell me I’m one of you as much as you want, but I am not a part of this team. I’m just not .” Tommy shakes her head. “They know it. You know it… I get that you’re trying to say you have my back, and that’s fine. I appreciate it. But right now… I’m just half of a Ranger.”

She pauses, but none of them say anything in the open space. They can tell she isn’t done yet.

“I’ve got some evil alien essence thing in my head taking up the other half of me, and I just… can’t . I can’t do this right now. I am alone in this. You’re all scared of me. I’m scared of myself. There’s nothing you can say to convince me that this is something I don’t have to get through on my own.”

“Tommy, we--” Jason tries to say again, but she only shakes her head.

“You aren’t scared of me , you’re scared of the thing trying to take over my coin? That doesn’t matter. Because not one of you can hand me your coin right now and tell me you’d feel totally safe with it in my hands. It’s too dangerous. And I understand that… I said there’s nothing you can say to convince me. That wasn’t an exaggeration.”

The sad thing is, she isn’t wrong. As much as they want to say they’re on her side, there’s no way they’d be completely comfortable around her until they know Rita’s out of the picture for good.

Tommy sighs, looking at the ground.

“Okay,” Jason says. “We’ll let you go. Sorry.”

She looks back up like she’s ready to say something more, but decides against it and instead runs a hand over her face. “All of this arguing is giving me a headache.”

She keeps her eyes closed for a second, taking a few deep breaths, and the others are letting her take her time. Just in case she wants to add something.

When she opens her eyes, she doesn’t have anything to say, but she does look a little out of it. Similar to what Trini saw happen at lunch.

The blinking. The flash of green in her eyes.

Except this time she isn’t the only one who notices.

Kimberly’s standing close enough that Trini can feel her take a step backwards in surprise. She can hear Zack’s, “What the hell?” and Billy mutter questions about what’s going on and how it’s possible. Jason’s completely still and silent. Just like she is.

When the green disappears for good, Tommy still isn’t looking at them. She’s staring at nothing, not saying anything or moving much at all.

Trini can feel how on edge they all are.

Because right now, they can’t tell if this is Tommy standing in front of them or not.

Chapter Text

They all sit in silence, too afraid that moving will cause something to happen. That Tommy isn’t Tommy , and she’ll lash out, or… something worse. Tommy blinks a couple more times, and then she looks up, focussing on them instead of nothing. And then she turns around, walking away just as she had been a few moments go.

“Tommy?” Billy asks. “Are you okay?”

“Yes.”

The five look at each other, and then Jason calls out, “Where are you going?”

“I’m leaving.”

It might not mean anything. But there’s something that still feels off. Like all of the emotions that Tommy had just been feeling--and showing in her facial expressions and body language--aren’t there anymore. Like a clean slate.

They don’t know if they should try following her again.

“You all saw that right?” Zack asks, pointing off in Tommy’s direction. “Her eyes glew . Glowed ? I don’t know. They were fucking green , guys.”

Trini nods. “Yeah…”

“Do we know if that means anything?” Billy asks. “Trini said she saw it happen before, but Tommy’s seemed fine until now.”

“It could be a side effect of the coin still having a hold over her. Maybe it’s… trying to activate, but it can’t.” Jason shrugs.

“Maybe the energy is dying out?” Zack offers, trying to remain hopeful.

Kim shakes her head. “Maybe we’re wrong and she’s adapted to not standing out while she’s… not herself.”

“Freaky…” Zack says. “So we don’t follow her?”

Jason sighs, crossing his arms. “If we’re wrong, we’re being nosy and intrusive. But if we’re right, we’re being cautious and careful. I think it’d be best if we took that risk.”

“Maybe we can walk around town and make sure she went home, and isn’t going back the the Krispy Kreme. The under construction Krispy Kreme,” Bully adds. “She can’t do much damage if she’s at home.”

“I dunno,” Zack says. “Even if she went home, I don’t doubt that Rita would hurt her family without thinking twice about it. But, I do think you’re right. Who’s up first?”

 

---

 

They all agreed that it would be safest to go out in pairs. And then, somehow, ended up at the decision that Kimberly and Zack would be together, and they’d go out first. Kim still thinks their reasoning for the match up is a little ridiculous.

“I can’t believe you’re splitting me and Trini up because you don’t want us to get distracted ,” she says, shaking her head.

“Um, excuse me. You told us that none of the boys could be paired up for the same reason.”

“Yeah, that’s your own fault. We wouldn’t have said that if you hadn’t specifically split us up.”

Zack rolls his eyes. “Admit it. You love being out here with me.”

Kimberly looks at him, pausing for a moment, and then looks forward as they continue walking.

“You love to hurt me, don’t you?”

She smiles. “It’s all in good fun, Taylor.”

“Tommy calls me Taylor,” he says.

“Tommy calls everyone by their last name.”

“Are you girls plotting against me?”

Kim almost stops walking, the subject change catches her so off guard. But she settles for giving him a questioning look instead.

“I filled her locker with doughnuts. I know she isn’t just letting that happen.”

“I'm not telling you anything. These lips are sealed.”

Zack shakes his head at her. “Sure. For everyone except T.”

That was definitely supposed to be suggestive, but she isn’t in the mood to play along. She can agree, but that’s it. “Mhmm.”

“Hey, tell me about that. What’s going on with you two? Trini’s stubborn and secretive and won’t tell me anything .”

“What makes you think I’ll tell you anything?”

Zack gives her a look, and she sighs.

“Okay, fine. What do you mean? Tell you about what?”

“Just… the deets , Hart. You know what I mean.”

Honestly, she really doesn’t. “I don’t know. We’re… semi-official now.”

“What does that mean?”

“Sort of out. Sort of not.”

Zack stares at her, tilting his head a bit. “What?”

“We’re out to you guys and Tommy, and Trini’s brothers, and now we’re prepared to be out at school, too. Like Jason and Billy. And you now too, I guess?” she says. “If people ask or assume, then we’ll tell them.”

“Okay, I getcha. That’s chill.” Zack nods. “Trini’s cool with that?”

Kim rolls her eyes and smiles. “Yes, Zack. We had a long conversation about it the other night. She’s cool with it.”

“Cool.” He assumed there would've been a conversation, but he's still gotta look out for his tiny best friend. Double checking that things are going well is a part of his best friend duties. “But T’s parents…?”

Kim takes a breath before shaking her head. “I think it’s too soon. She doesn’t say much about her dad, but her mom’s still trying to get used to the idea of her being gay. It’d be different if she found out she was dating someone.”

Zack’s quiet for a moment, and when Kim looks to the side to check on him, she sees that he’s smiling. “From what I’ve heard Momma Gomez isn’t your number one fan…”

“Oh my god, I met her once . And that wasn’t even a real meeting. That was right after Trini came out to them; things were already tense.”

“So you need to meet her again. Properly,” he says, still smiling.

“I want to say yes, but I don’t like that look in your eye.”

Zack shrugs. “If you ask me, I think her mom needs to meet all of us. She already likes me; seeing that T has friends who really care about her might get her mom to mellow out a bit.”

“Yeah… She told me that if she was still in the closet, you’d be the perfect beard around her family. But meeting the rest of us? I don’t know.”

“It could help.”

Something tells her that Trini wouldn’t see it that way. “It sounds like something she’d hate.”

“Okay, you got me there.” He nods. “Although… I was invited over for dinner ‘sometime soon,’ so maybe I can do everything myself. Lay some groundwork…”

“Oh my god. Zack. No.”

Zack clears his throat, adopting what he likes to call a sophisticated accent . “‘Yes, Mrs. Gomez. Actually, myself and my two boyfriends are very fond of your daughter. She’s a wonderful friend. Very supportive, and kind, and the whole package, really. The girl who wins her heart--’ Or the Hart she wins.” He nudges Kim, winking at her. “‘Will be so very lucky. Oh, Dante, could you please pass the bread? Thank you.’”

Kimberly’s shaking her head, attempting to keep her laughter toned down, but slightly failing.

“It’d be effective, I think.”

“Trini would literally hate you if you did that.”

“It’s a risk I’m willing to take, Kim,” he says. And because Kim still hasn’t stopped laughing, he can’t stop smiling either. “I’m really glad you appreciate my humor.”

“Yeah,” she says, actually calming down now. “Don’t get used to it.”

“Alright. So what about you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Your parents.”

“Oh.” Kim pauses, thinking that over. “I want to tell them.”

Zack waits for her to continue. She doesn’t. “But…?”

But , I’m kind of scared to.”

“You don’t have to be Kimberly ‘Badass’ Hart all the time,” he says. “It’s normal to be scared about stuff like that.”

“But is it? I’m already out to them. Telling them I have a girlfriend shouldn’t be that hard. It should be… I don’t know. Casually thrown out there.”

“Like during dinner?” He asks, but she just glares at him. “Sorry. Continue.”

“For Trini it makes sense that she wants to keep it from her parents. I don’t have any reason to.”

Zack genuinely attempts to think up a way to help her out. It looks like this is actually bothering her, so the jokes can come later. “Well… So you’ve never had a girlfriend before?”

“Not officially.” She can sense the questions that’s going to prompt, so she quickly adds, “That’s a story for another time. Keep talking.”

“Okay, so…” He stops walking, waiting for Kim to stop too so they can talk face to face. “Maybe you’re still thinking that they don’t believe the bi thing. Telling them about Trini makes it real. It’s like coming out all over again.”

That’s… definitely possible. “Maybe… How did your mom take it? When you came out to her?”

Zack hesitates a bit, but then smiles. “Amazingly well. She told me to be proud of who I am, but be careful of who I share that part of myself with. You know… Not to hide, but be safe.”

“Wow. Your mom is… the best.”

He nods. “She is.”

They fall into a lapse of silence after that, silently hoping that they will find something. If they don't, then they'll only be worrying about it all night. But it doesn't look like there's anything noteworthy going on.

“I don’t think we’re going to find anything out here,” Kim says, looking around at their eerily quiet surroundings.

“Same.” Zack nods. “I’m thinking she just went home. Actually… I just realized we don’t know where her home is .”

“We haven’t known her that long.”

That’s true, but it also wasn’t his point. “Yeah, but we can’t be sure and find her if we don’t know where she is.”

“I think it’s fine as long as she isn’t out here .”

He wants to keep pushing the conversation. Emphasize that it’s the mystery that counts. But he gets that it’s been a long day, and Kim is obviously tired and ready to go home. “I feel like we’re in a horror movie.”

Kim’s pretty sure their lives might qualify as a horror movie.

“If we were in a horror movie, which of us do you think would die first?”

“Jason.”

He’s slightly caught off guard by her quick reply. “I meant between us two, but you’re right. T and B are both way too smart; they’d make it at least halfway through, if not to the end. And Jason’s, like, stupidly brave and self-sacrificing.”

“Out of us?” Kim asks. “We’re both pretty reckless. But I think I’m more impulsive than you. And it’s dumb impulsive, so probably me.”

Okay, but he did steal his zord for a joyride and almost run over a van of nuns that one time. That was pretty stupidly impulsive.

Zack thinks they’re even on the scale of impulsivity. But if he gets to survive longer in their hypothetical horror movie? He’ll take it.

“I expected you to take longer to admit that… Anyway, you’re right. It’s time to tag in the next duo.”

“Who is it? Trini and?”

“My boy, Billy.”

“They’ll make way more progress than we ever could.” It isn't that she thinks Jason wouldn't make any progress; but... if it's between Jason and Billy and which one of them would do better in this situation, she's gotta give it to Billy.

Zack completely agrees with her. “The sad truth.”

 

---

 

*Long Drawn Out Sigh*

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | toliver | it’skimberly! | trini//]

lil z: hey tommy, r u good?

lil z: just wanna check in

toliver: Yeah, I’m alright. Thanks.

lil z: ok cool

goldenboi: Will you be at school tomorrow, or do you need a day off?

toliver: Don’t know yet.

goldenboi: Ok, then I guess we might see you tomorrow/might not

toliver: Yeah

lil z: hey we're still here 4 u

lil z: if u need us

lil z: btw

toliver: Right. Thanks.

 

---

 

Rainbow Rangers

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | it’skimberly! | trini//]

lil z: i'm kinda worried abt tommy

it'skimberly!: I think we all are

lil z: i mean, the way she was responding in the other chat?

lil z: she's usually more upbeat

lil z: even if she isn't in a good mood

goldenboi: She's scared of hurting people, and not having control over her own body. She told me it's getting worse now that she's aware of everything going on.

it'skimberly!: She feels like she's completely alone. That isn't an easy thing to shoulder.

lil z: then what do we do??

goldenboi: I think we're doing everything we can. Keeping an eye on her, but also telling her we're here for her.

billyc: If she doesn't go to school and Rita takes over again, what would we do? We wouldn't know anything was wrong, would we?

lil z: unless she's getting more connected in the link and we can feel smth change

lil z: ?

goldenboi: I don't know

it'skimberly!: More uncertain hoping

lil z: luck has been on our side recently

lil z: so that doesn't seem too unlikely

trini//: we need to get our lives together

it'skimberly!: Ok, understatement of the year

lil z: [stitch crying in the rain.gif ]

billyc: I agree with Zack

 

---

 

It’s too real to be a nightmare.

Her nightmares have made her feel like she was dying plenty of times before, but this … This is different.

This is real.

And it isn’t coming from her .

It’s Kim.

Trini doesn’t have the focus to really comprehend what’s going on. The only thing she knows for sure is that, for some reason, Kimberly is in some intense pain right now, and she has no idea why.

It's been a few days since they saw Tommy's eyes flashing green, but everything ended up being fine that night. Something had to have changed. Probably with Tommy. Something bad.

Somehow she finds enough strength to get up and out of her window, and maybe half stumbles off of her roof. She’s pretty sure that it wouldn’t hurt with her ranger strength anyway, but with this… whatever the hell this pain is, she doesn’t think she’d notice any other sort of discomfort. She puts all of her available focus on getting to Kim’s house.

She isn’t there. Getting to her house was Trini’s entire plan; now she has no idea where she’s supposed to go.

But thankfully the pain lessens a bit, and she can make the decision to check around their campfire area. It’s a good sign that she can feel Kim trying to relax, right? At least she doesn’t seem to be in danger anymore.

There is still this lingering feeling of being on edge .

Should she look down in the ship? Get in contact with the guys? If Kim’s already down underground, though, then Alpha should be able to help her… It might be better for her to stay up here.

Unfortunately she didn’t manage to grab her phone before leaving, but she does think finding the boys is the best plan of action. So she runs to Billy’s. All three of them are there, but no sign of Kim or Tommy.

That doesn’t seem like a good sign.

Billy’s pacing, and Zack’s staring at his phone like Kim or Tommy are going to call at any second. Jason’s sitting down, trying to keep calm.

“You don’t know where she is?” Zack asks. “She isn’t answering her phone.”

“No. I checked her house, and the cliffs, and…” Trini shakes her head.

Jason gives them a determined look. “Then we’ll spread out. I’ll go down to the ship, and you three split up around town. We’ll cover more ground that way.”

“Right. Because splitting up is always the best idea,” Zack says, rolling his eyes. “Kim was right. You really would be the first to die in a horror movie.”

The other three stare at him.

He clears his throat and nods. “Not the time. Sorry.”

“Alright. Let’s go,” Trini says, and in an attempt to leave ends up stumbling a bit. She hasn’t fully recovered yet.

“Are you sure you should leave, Trini?” Billy asks. “Maybe you should stay here.”

She shakes her head. “Hell no.”

“Trini,” Zack tries to say, but she doesn’t let him finish.

No .”

They don’t try to stop her anymore after that.

When they leave, Trini goes straight for the under construction Krispy Kreme. If this has anything to do with Rita… Tommy-Rita? If it has to do with that, it makes sense that they might be somewhere near the crystal. That’s what she’s hoping for, because if they aren’t there, she has no idea where else to look.

About halfway there the pain hits her again, but she keeps moving. Not easily, but by this point she knows how to push past it.

She doesn’t find them at the Krispy Kreme. But it’s close. Both Kim and Tommy standing right in front of each other; Kim has her hands on Tommy’s shoulders, and she’s saying something, but it’s low enough that Trini can’t hear it.

She came here to figure out what was going on and provide some sort of backup. But now she’s afraid that stepping in might disrupt any progress Kim’s making. It seems like she’s trying to talk Tommy down.

Kim’s coin is in Tommy’s hands, so that solves the mystery of where the pain was coming from. What’s sort of surprising is how Kim isn’t trying to get her coin back. She’s still focusing on helping Tommy.

Whatever she’s been saying must have worked, because something changes in Tommy’s expression. She looks down at her hands, sees the coin, and then immediately drops it. Shortly after, Kim and Tommy both fall to their knees out of relief.

Kim because her coin isn’t slowly getting crushed anymore, and Tommy because she just broke herself out of a possession and is realizing that she was this close to severely injuring her friend--or worse. Trini stays back, calming down on her own, and lets them have their moment. She wasn’t here for most of it, but whatever went down… it had to be a lot .

Everything catches up to Tommy in that moment. She hasn’t cried over any of this yet, but right now she doesn’t feel so strong anymore and she’s drained and weak and can’t do anything to stop the tears from falling.

She almost freezes in shock when Kim pulls her into a hug. Tommy almost just killed her. Even if she was possessed, she doesn't get why Kim would take the chance of getting so close to her again. Even Trini’s a little surprised, but, overall, she gets it. It isn’t Tommy’s fault. She doesn’t have anyone outside the five of them, and now that they’re obviously scared of her, she probably doesn’t feel like she has anyone .

It’s risky, but Tommy needs it.

In the time that they take to calm down, Trini realizes that they need to fill the boys in on what's going on. And she still doesn't have her phone. Eventually, when she checks in with the other two, she finds out that neither of them have theirs either.

But it's late and they're all tired. Physically. Emotionally. In every sense of the word, really. So, with a promise to explain everything that went down later and a plan to get in contact with the guys, they head back to their own homes.

 

---

 

Trini reluctantly makes her way back to her house. She knows she left in a bit of a hurry and probably made a mess of her room on her way out, but the thought of getting some sleep--after a night this exhausting--is strong enough to get her moving.

She gets up on the roof and through the window, halfway on her desk when she realizes something is off. She looks to the side to see her parents--both of them, wide awake--sitting on her bed, staring at her.

Now that she thinks about it, she knows she didn’t turn her light on before leaving, and it was on when she climbed up. She also definitely should’ve seen her parents there before she opened the window. But she’s half asleep. There probably could’ve been a zord parked in the driveway and she wouldn’t have noticed.

But… This isn’t good. There’s no way she can get herself out of this one.

They stare at each other in silence for a good few minutes. It's long enough that Trini wonders if she can get away with leaving again, and suffering the consequences later. So she slowly starts to back out of the window again.

It doesn't work. Her father gives her another look and says, "Trini," and she stops and gets back in the room. Completely this time. Not just hovering over her desk.

Apparently they heard her leaving, since she basically fell out of her window, and then her phone was going off, vibrating against her desk enough that it sent some faint buzzing through to the hardwood floors. They could hear that too. They got up to make sure there wasn't someone breaking into the house, and then realized that it was most likely just Trini sneaking out. Although, they were worried to find that she left her phone behind.

"Where did you go?" Her mom asks. "What were you doing?"

Her father adds on before she can answer. "Did you sneak out to be with your friends? Go to a party?"

"To see a girl?"

She never thought she'd hear that coming from her mother. Her tone wasn't even... It wasn't the worst. Wow.

The big thing, though, is that she doesn't know if she can get away with explaining that this was a life or death situation. The only thing she didn't leave for is a party. She did sneak out to be with her friends, and she did sneak out to see a girl. Just not in the context they're thinking of.

"Why are you still in pajamas?"

"Why do you look like you were just in some sort of fight?" Her mom asks. "Were you in a fight? Are you in a midnight pajama street gang?"

She at least has enough energy to say no to that. "I was..."

The simplest thing would be to say a friend was in an accident. But then her parents would want to know which friend, and if they're okay, and she should've woken them up and they could've taken her to the hospital if that's what's going on. She wouldn't be surprised if they offered to take her to the hospital now, so they can talk to her friend's parents, and blah blah blah.

She could say her friend's mom is sick, but she isn't going to drag Zack or his mom into this. She can handle a punishment instead of using that as an excuse.

Also, since she left her phone, there isn't a lot she can say that won't sound off to them.

"Uh... I was with my friends...?"

Her father gestures at her clothes with a questioning look.

"It was a pajama party," she says. "Billy wanted a movie night..."

They don't look too convinced.

Her mother crosses her arms. "Billy who?"

"Cranston."

"Who else was there?" After listing everyone, her mother's still suspicious. "We haven't heard you mention a Tommy before."

"She's new."

There's a look that flashes across her mother's face, and she can't tell if it's because she wants to comment on the name, or if she's thinking about how that's another girl in Trini's friend group. A friend that potentially might be more than a friend. Instead of commenting on that, she says, "If we call Billy's parents, will they be able to confirm?"

Yikes. Well. She hadn't thought about parental verification. "Uh... yes. And it's just his mom."

"Why would you sneak out instead of asking us if you can go? If it's just a movie night?" her father asks.

She hadn't thought about that either. "Because... I knew mom wouldn't let me go to someone's house if she hasn't met them, and I... Didn't want to ask Billy to do to that."

It's a very flimsy argument, but it seems like her parents are buying it. Because her relationship with her mother is odd, and it makes sense that she'd be embarrassed to bring friends over, even if it is just to meet them. The two friends that have stopped by before did so on their own without Trini having any idea about it. It sort of, a little bit, kind of makes sense.

She honestly can't believe any of that worked, even if she still has to sit through a bit of a lecture now.

They ground her for a week and say they'll put a lock on her window. [Also, her mom asks to smell her breath to make sure she hasn't been drinking.] And they say that if they catch her sneaking out again--or getting into trouble--they won't hesitate to take away all of her privileges.

It could be worse. Way worse. She has to keep telling herself that.

 

---

 

*Long Drawn Out Sigh*

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | toliver | it’skimberly! | trini//]

trini//: hey, so I got grounded last night and I've got a lock on my window now. How was the rest of all of your nights?

lil z: yikes t

lil z: how'd they finally catch u

trini//: I didn't exactly leave very gracefully

trini//: I felt like I was dying, so I kind of fell off the roof

lil z: wow

lil z: "falling off of roofs"

lil z: "just trini things"

toliver: What kind of lock are they using?

trini//: not sure. Why?

toliver: I know how to pick a lock

trini//: really?

lil z: dope

toliver: I just think that since it's sort of my fault all of that happened, I can help you out? Picking the lock would be safer than breaking it, I'd think

trini//: ya, for sure

lil z: wait, is it roofs or rooves

trini//: do we always have to have these conversations where someone realizes something (that doesn't actually matter) has been a big lie their whole lives?

lil z: yes

toliver: Pretty sure it's roofs

lil z: i feel like i've heard someone say rooves before tho

lil z: like i've got a distinct sound of the v in my mind rn

trini//: u could always google it

lil z: tru

lil z: ok so tommy's right

toliver: Of course I am

lil z: but ppl did say rooves back in the day

trini//: this is riveting stuff

trini//: so interesting

lil z: no need to be sarcastic t

billyc: I think it's interesting, Zack

lil z: thank you

lil z: i have the billy stamp of approval, so t and all the other haters can go home

trini//: I am home

trini//: I'm grounded, remember?

lil z: w/e i don't need ur negativity in my life

trini//: ok bye

 

trini// left *Long Drawn Out Sigh*

 

lil z: srsly

lil z: again

lil z: bruh

it'skimberly!: And she tries to argue that she isn't extra

toliver: Throwback to "dramatic ass ho"

billyc: Do you want me to add her back in?

lil z: yes pls

 

billyc added trini// to *Long Drawn Out Sigh*

 

 

trini//: thanks

lil z: i'm sorry, but

lil z: trini

lil z: WHERE is your chill?

trini//: idk, but if you find it let me know

it'skimberly!: Relatable

lil z: ...

lil z: ok

lil z: what's the plan now? t's grounded, is that gonna be a problem?

it'skimberly!: Probably

trini//: even if I get the lock picked, sneaking out is gonna have to be timed really specifically

trini//: esp when it's still during the day

trini//: they want me home straight after school, and I doubt they'll just let me lock myself up in my room until dinner

lil z: tru tru

goldenboi: We also have everything else we've been trying to focus on

billyc: We always have so much going on, and lately we rarely get any breaks

lil z: sad face

trini//: did you just

trini//: did you just type out "sad face" instead of sending an emoji or a reaction gif?

lil z: it more accurately represents my emotions rn

toliver: So what I'm gathering is, "Everything is a mess, you don't know what to do, and that's a regular occurrence in your lives"

toliver: ?

lil z: ya, p much

toliver: Okay, cool. So it isn't just me.

lil z: nope, we're all screwed up

toliver: Nice.

Chapter Text

Double T

[toliver | trini//]

trini//: so Tommy

trini//: what was the plan as far as picking my lock?

toliver: Whatcha mean?

trini//: my parents locked it from the outside

trini//: so I guess u can climb up to unlock it urself, but how the hell do I lock it back when I get in the house?

toliver: Ah. Right.

toliver: Idk, you’ll just have to have a lock buddy.

trini//: ok then

trini//: so my lock buddy needs to know how to pick it. Every time

toliver: Yep

trini//: you’re the only one who knows how

trini//: at least, I’m pretty sure

toliver: Oh, right. Well it isn’t that hard. I can teach the others. Or I’ll just always be ur buddy.

toliver: But it’s probably best that I teach someone else

toliver: Like, Kim at least

trini//: ya probably

trini//: thanks

toliver: No problem

toliver: *finger guns*

 

---

 

The downside of this new lock situation means that--even though she has a way to get rid of it--Trini still has to sit up in solitude for a couple of days to watch for patterns. How many times her parents “check on her,” what time it is when that happens, how many excuses they'll make up to be upstairs by her room. It's been two days without any progress. But that's the problem. As soon as she notices a routine, it'll have been a week, and she won't be grounded anymore. Then all she'll need to worry about is at night, because even though she'll be allowed out of the house again, that lock isn't going anywhere.

Thankfully Tommy does help Kim out with getting into Trini’s room, but they have to wait until it’s late enough that the rest of the house has gone to sleep. Kimberly still needs to relay what went down the other night, and if they don’t have to talk about it over the phone, they’re gonna do it in person. But it has to be a little private, and Trini isn’t dumb enough to risk sneaking out again so soon. Her room will work well enough for the conversation.

“So, what happened?” Trini asks. “Tommy pulled a Jekyll and Hyde, you tried to help, she went for your coin, and then I saw the rest?”

“Well… Yeah. Kind of.” Kim shrugs, pausing for a moment. “I was already awake when I felt… I don’t know how to describe it, but something in the link changed. I knew it wasn’t from any of you, so I tried looking for Tommy and--after a while--I ran into her in the middle of town on the way to Krispy Kreme.”

So, basically what she figured had happened.

“It wasn’t really her. And it wasn’t exactly Rita, either. She was… like a zombie? Like, she responded when I tried talking to her, but everything was rigid and fake. No change in facial expression, no feelings, it was like she wasn’t even there. I got too close trying to talk to her, she got my coin off of me, and I wasn’t prepared for it. She took off.”

So that explains why the pain was so staggered out. But if she got away with Kim’s coin for so long… she’s probably lucky it didn’t get worse.

“She was letting up instead of just crushing it completely, so I thought that might mean she didn’t care about me . All she wanted was the crystal. When I caught up to her, I put myself in her path to slow her down, and it worked. She started messing with my coin to get me to move, but at that point it seemed like I could get through to her.”

“And then I showed up?” Trini asks, raising her eyebrows.

“And then you showed up.” Kim nods. “You saw the rest.”

She was hoping for a slightly more detailed account than that, but, to be fair, if Kim was in so much pain, she might not have retained too many specifics. “What did you say to her?”

“What snapped her out of it?” Kim asks, and then she shrugs. “I was telling her that I knew she could still hear me, that she was stronger than whatever hold Rita had over her. That we all believed in her. Stuff like that.”

“And it worked… I think she needed that. I mean… She needed to know that she isn’t as alone as she thinks she is.”

Kimberly isn’t too quick to agree with her, but eventually she does end up nodding. “I still feel a block in the link. There’s still something going on with her coin, so this isn’t over yet.”

“At least we know there’s a way to snap her out of it.”

“Yeah. At least .”

She was trying to make a point about this not being hopeless, but she can’t blame Kim for feeling otherwise. They know they can stall and buy some time, but it was hard enough for her to do that . There’s no telling what else might happen, or even if they’ll even be strong enough to handle it.

They should probably call it a night and talk about something less stressful. Or do something less stressful. Like sleep.

Then again, this definitely isn’t the time to risk another sleepover.

 

--- 

 

Her mom wants to meet Billy.

Realistically, it shouldn't be too terrible. But, even though everything went great with Zack, Trini still doesn't want to chance how the meeting will go. Any number of things could go wrong; and most of them wouldn't even be Billy's fault. She just knows her mother likes to push things. She wants to have answers, whether or not she's going to like them. Because once she knows something isn't “right,” she'll do everything she can to fix it.

“Invite him over for dinner.”

There's really no way for her to get out of this. She got lucky with using him as an excuse-slash-alibi, so she shouldn't have expected her mom to drop it right then and never pick it back up.

But there's no harm in trying, right?

“Is that really the best idea…?”

For her? No. For her mother? Yes.

Her mother nods. “Why wouldn't it be?”

Trini sighs. She didn't think her argument out this far.

“Okay. How about you invite all of your friends over?”

Wait. Where the hell did that come from? “Uh… What?”

“Why not? If you’re so against any of them meeting me, or exposing them to your horrible family , then you might as well do it all at once to get it over with.”

Well, when she puts it that way it does make some sense. She still doesn’t want it to happen, but ripping the band-aid off has a little bit of an appeal. “I can’t tell if you’re being serious.”

Instead of responding, or confirming that the idea was genuine, she stays silent. Clearly waiting for Trini to come to the conclusion on her own.

“You want all five of them over here?” For dinner? Assuming that includes her brothers and both of her parents, that’d be ten people having--or attempting to have--a meal together. Without anything going wrong. That sounds like an absolute disaster.

Her mother shakes her head. “It’s up to you, Trini. I would like to meet each of them at some point, and I would like to meet Billy sooner rather than later. If he’s the reason you were sneaking out--movie night, or not--then I don’t think that’s too much to ask for. Think about it.”

Think about it.

That's gotta be the biggest backfire she's ever experienced.

This is going to happen whether she likes it or not--and she very much so doesn't like it. But maybe if she plans it out well enough, they can get through this with minimal trouble. First off, there's no way in hell all of them are coming over at the same time. It's too many people, too much potential chaos, and she'd have a very little amount of control of what happens. It's too risky.

But deciding how to divide it isn't easy either.

Billy has to come over first. Jason should probably come with him, because when they're together they're nice and charming and she wouldn't worry too much about one of them saying something wrong. She's a little worried Billy might accidentally slip up and mention her and Kim, but she has to risk that in every scenario. They have to come over first.

But by having Zack, Kimberly, and Tommy taking up that second spot, she's putting three wild cards together. Her mom likes Zack, though, so he could even things out. He can change the subject if her mom starts interrogating Kim and Tommy. Because there's too many ways this could go wrong if her mom is alone with the two of them.

Maybe it'd be safer to have Tommy come over with Billy and Jason?

It might be, but if she factors in how things have been going recently, she knows that Tommy is closer with Zack and Kim.

And, yeah, she could invite them over one by one, but... that doesn't sound good either.

God, this is complicated.

 

---

 

*Long Drawn Out Sigh*

[lil z | billyc | goldenboi | toliver | it’skimberly! | trini//]

trini//: how much do all of you love me?

lil z: somehow this feels like a trap...

it'skimberly!: It definitely is a trap.

lil z: i'd ask if someone stole her phone, but i don't have it. and kim doesn't have it. tommy would be the only other possible option

toliver: I don't have her phone

trini//: how is this a trap?

it'skimberly!: People don't ask that unless they want something. And it's extra suspicious bc you hate talking about feelings.

lil z: you want smth from ALL of us? this has to be big

lil z: u have my attention

lil z: what's this about

trini//: I don't /hate/ talking about feelings. You're exaggerating

it'skimberly!: Bullshit

it'skimberly!: The last time we had a big bonding session and we were all saying how much we loved e/o, you didn't say ANYTHING

it'skimberly!: Not until you noticed we were waiting for you, and then you just looked at the ground and said "ok, yeah, sure, I love you guys or whatever"

trini//: ...that's hardly proof

it'skimberly!: Oh my god

goldenboi: What is going on??

trini//: ok fine

trini//: my mom wants to meet all of u and have u over for dinner

trini//: i know it's a lot

trini//: u don't have to do it

trini//: actually she kind of said Billy did have to come over

trini//: but, it's still optional

lil z: hold up

lil z: ALL of us?

lil z: one by one or all at once???

trini//: she said it was up to me to decide, but I think it'd be best to split u up into two groups

it'skimberly!: Your brothers will be there too?

trini//: yeah

goldenboi: Did you have an idea of how you'd split us up?

trini//: Billy and Jason first and then Zack, Kim, and Tommy

toliver: Whoa, hold the fuck up

toliver: I'M included in this????

trini//: ya sorry

lil z: now u rlly are a part of the team

toliver: What does this mean? Is your mom strict or smth?

trini//: lately i'm not sure how to describe her

trini//: she's trying? But that doesn't mean this won't go terribly

trini//: one plus side is we already know she likes Zack for some reason

lil z: it's bc i'm charming

billyc: When is the dinner happening? Is it at your house?

billyc: I think I can go. As long as I have enough information beforehand.

trini//: the date isn't set, but yeah, it's at my house

goldenboi: I'll go too. So if it's just Billy and me, are we supposed to NOT mention our relationship?

trini//: no i'm going to tell her that you're together. That seems safer than accidentally letting it slip halfway through dinner just in case she says something offensive or embarassing

goldenboi: What about Zack?

trini//: I'll tell her all three of u are together and just hope it goes well

goldenboi: But DON'T mention you and Kim

trini//: exactly

trini//: I want to see how the second dinner goes before I consider telling her abt us. Assuming you go, Kim

it'skimberly: No, I'll go

lil z: me too!

lil z: can't disappoint ur mom

lil z: i'm sure she'll be thrilled to have me over again

trini//: that sounds sarcastic, but I know you're being totally serious

toliver: Ok, but do I have anything to worry about? Is your mom going to be questioning us?

trini//: probably

toliver: About what exactly?

trini//: idk yet

trini//: you don't have to go, Tommy

toliver: If I don't go I'll feel left out

toliver: And if I'm with Z and K, then the spotlight is mostly gonna be off of me, right?

trini//: as far as I know

lil z: so does this answer ur question abt how much we love u

trini//: yes

trini//: we should probably go over a few more things before any of this actually happens, but

trini//: thanks for

trini//: u know. Everything

it'skimberly!: "I don't /hate/ talking about feelings" -Trini, like, 20 minutes ago

trini//: shut up

 

---

 

Operation: Zack Taylor is a Jerk

[toliver | it’skimberly! | trini//]

toliver: Hey, so I have a plan

toliver: It isn't as wild as filling a locker w/ doughnuts, but it'll have to do

it'skimberly!: What is it?

toliver: Just meet me at the cliffs tomorrow after school and I'll explain

trini//: ominous

trini//: if it isn't that wild, then why do we need to wait

toliver: If I just tell u right now then it isn't any fun :/

it'skimberly!: We'll be there

toliver: Cool

toliver: Seeya then

trini//: ok, but aren't the guys going to be there at the same time too?

toliver: No they have a doughnut date

it'skimberly!: Aw, cute

toliver: But they're still coming down to the ship afterwards, so it'll work

toliver: Trust me

trini//: ok

trini//: but if this somehow goes badly, then I was never apart of it

toliver: Noted.