Short hair was never a look she’d imaged seeing on the blond.
But standing there in the Arizona Airport, Kim was certain it was her. She had filled out a bit, and her hair was cropped into a short bob around her chin. She looked cute, reading her Arts and Leisure magazine as though she were impervious to the world. Kim noted there was no morpher on her wrist, and no teenagers anywhere in sight.
It seemed Kat had, at last, laid the power down and moved on.
“Hey hey good looking.”
The look on Kat’s face as she looked up was well worth the cheesy quote. Almost immediately the look of shock turned to a pleasantly surprised smile.
“Kimberly?” The accent had calmed down a bit, Kim noticed. Consequence of living in the US for too long, she imagined.
“The very same!” Kim grinned, and Kat stood up to hug her. Kat wasn’t wearing heals, but she seemed taller than when Kim had last seen her in Angel Grove.
“My god, you look brilliant.” Kat looked her up and down as they pulled apart, still gripping her shoulders lightly. “How long has it been? Your hair is so long!”
Kim laughed, flipping her long caramel hair over her shoulder. “I haven’t seen anyone since the Tournament, so a few years at least. I almost didn’t recognize you!”
With that Kim tapped Kat’s wrist suggestively, and Kat nodded. “Two years ago, actually. Just a few months after graduation.”
“Well, congratulations. How does it feel to be a free woman?” Kim joked, knowing both the feeling of loss and the weight that lifted off ones shoulders when the morpher came off.
“Liberating, really. It almost feels like a lifetime ago.” Kat agreed, but crossed her arms over her chest protectively. “So, what are you up to?”
“On my way to a youth gymnastics conference. You know, everyone loves the nice Pan Global gymnast instructing the ten year olds. Day layover before I head off to Nevada.” Kim was far less interested in talking about herself than about Kat. “How are you? How’s everyone?”
“I’m doing well. I’m actually headed to New York for a Julliard audition. I just got back from London a few weeks ago. I tried calling everyone, but they’re all so busy. Rocky has his own Dojo now, Adam and Tanya are working on a new outreach program for troubled kids. I thought Tommy was still racing but all his phones have been disconnected and no one seems to have a forwarding address for him, so.” Kat supplied, and Kim thought that was odd. Surely if Kat and Tommy were still a thing Kat would know where he was?
“So you two called it quits, huh?” Kim asked, and Kat gave her a small half smile.
“We all know how hard the long distance thing can be.”
Kim nodded, and they momentarily fell silent. So they were both single now, in an airport about to head in different directions again. She may never get another chance.
“We should go get lunch, or something. How long til your flight?” Kim asked casually.
“Actually I have about 8 hours. I was just planning on sitting here and reading, so lunch would be great.” Kat agreed, and Kim helped her grab her bags.
So they headed to one of the airport cafes, Kim bought them lunch, and they sat and talked. The airport atmosphere was hardly the most conducive for more than casual conversation, so they kept it light. There were things Kim wanted to know, jokes she wanted to make about their shared romantic past, segues she didn’t dare try. She wondered how much Aisha had shared with Kat in their brief time together as rangers, if she had ever confided in Kat about their relationship. She wondered if Aisha’s suspicions about Kat had ever proven true.
She thought absently about how ironic it would be if two of Tommy’s girlfriends had ended up preferring women instead.
It was the hair, she thought. Behind all the rippling muscles and the strong manly scent he carried, Kim had always loved his long hair. His long eyelashes and his hair made it easy to imagine one was sleeping with a woman instead of a man, though as Kim had later learned, sex with a woman was quite a different experience than sex with Tommy Oliver.
“You’re kidding? They’re getting married?” Kat stammered.
“Next October. I know, it took everyone by complete surprise. Kind of like when Billy went off and decided to marry an alien.” Kim giggled at the thought.
“Oh, speaking of, I have something to show you!” Kat gasped, and rummaged in her purse. She pulled out a photograph which, upon closer inspection, showed to be some kind of sonogram. “They’re going to name it Terra if it’s a girl, Terran if it’s a boy.”
Kim was momentarily speechless. How could she have not known about this? “Clearly, lines of communication between former rangers have gotten somewhat muddled.” Kim made herself a note to call everyone once she was back in Florida. “I wish we weren’t all so far apart. It makes it so hard to keep in touch. I know, that just makes me sound lazy.”
“Billy keeps trying to get us all to sign up on this new internet site, something about social networking… He says it’s a good way to keep in touch, but I’m use the internet even less than I use the phone.” Kat laughed, sipping at her tea.
Kim grinned. That sounded like Billy, always at the forefront of the new technology. “You think maybe we all do it on purpose?” Kim wondered aloud, and Kat frowned. She elaborated. “That we all disconnect after we set down the power. I mean, we spend years of our lives never apart for more than a few moments, and we have to, and it’s great while we’re in it. But after… everyone just sort of…”
“Drifts,” Kat agreed. “At first the phone calls are every night, then once a week, then few and far between. Letters are even rarer. Maybe you’re right. Maybe we spend all that time clinging so tightly to each other that when it’s all over we pull away so we can… learn to breathe on our own again. It makes perfect sense.”
“Still sad, though,” Kim slurped her soft drink through the straw, having finished it moments before but needing something to do. “I guess that means there is no reason you and I can’t be friends now, right?”
Kat tilted her head, and Kim thought she saw a wistful look in her eyes. “I always wanted to be your friend. We never got much time to actually be friends, what with everything that happened and…”
“And Tommy,” Kim teased, sticking her tongue out at the blond.
“And Tommy,” Kat agreed, grinning now. “If we weren’t about to head in different directions all over again I’d love to give it a shot.”
“So why don’t we just drop our plans and buy new tickets?” Kim grinned mischievously. “We could run off to Fiji together!”
Kim could see it now, both of them in tiny bikini’s, nestled in some sea shanty on a beach with crystal clear water… like an advertisement in a magazine. For a moment, it looked as though Kat could see it, too.
“Fiji?” Kat grinned, and then shook her head. “How about something less cliché? Why don’t we go to the Rocky Mountains and build ourselves a little cabin and tame the wildlife with your singing voice?”
Kim giggled and smacked the table. It was not the first time she had been compared to a Disney character. “And once they’re tamed you can teach them to dance!”
“They can’t be any harder than the kids at the youth center,” Kat sniggered.
They laughed together for a few moments, and then fell silent. The mood shifted, and Kim picked at her mostly empty plate. Kat sipped her tea.
“I guess that’s what I miss most,” Kim said after thinking a moment. “Feeling like I could do anything, just because I wanted to.” Like steal a kiss from Katherine Hillard, she added silently.
Kat nodded. “Hey, Billy married an alien. The impossible is still possible.”
“So you agree then? We’ll really do those things someday?” Kim teased, reaching across the table to offer Kat a proverbial pinky swear.
Kat glanced at it and bit her lip, and Kim wondered what made her hesitate. Was it apprehension, of excitement?
Finally Kat reached out to take Kim’s pinky with her own. “Someday, sure.”