Moonlight trickled in through the open curtains, dappling the small, sparse room. An ivory glow settled on a human outline in the corner, shadows dipping in where her body was curled up tight. The faint sound of cicadas was carried in on the gentle wind, a repetitive symphony that played every sleepless night.
Trini was hunched against the wall, knees pulled up to her chest. Her head twitched, trying to push away the images crowding her mind. Rita, bearing down on her with a snarl. Her hand clenched around Trini’s neck. Trini’s thoughts turning to her friends, wondering if Rita would go after them next. Then Rita letting go. Rita, letting Trini live. But leaving her with the knowledge that she was the one Rita believed would betray the Rangers, just like Rita herself did. Leaving Trini knowing that she was the weakest link.
The Yellow Ranger. Less sunshine, more acid.
It wasn’t just that she was terrified of Rita and what she was capable of. It was that with every punch, every growl, every harsh word that Rita had spat at her – Trini was reminded of how worthless she was. She saw the words everywhere; scrawled on her locker, scribbled onto notes that were tossed at her head, scratched into her desk.
For so long she’d been trying not to let them get to her. Hoping that if she kept her walls up then no one would be able to hurt her, not really. She didn’t want friends. Didn’t need them. Friends meant caring, and caring about people always lead to someone getting hurt. No, Trini was fine eating alone in the library and occasionally being shoved into lockers and pretending everything was okay.
Well, she used to be. But then the Power Rangers happened and now… now she wasn’t so sure if being alone was the easiest option. Because it was 2am and she was alone as usual, and all she could think about was how much of a coward she was. And how it would be her fault if anything happened to her team – her friends – because she wasn’t strong enough to stop Rita.
Every night she sat, sweat-drenched and shaking, memories swimming across her eyelids no matter how hard she tried to blink them away. Rita, mutating into one of her tormentors from school, evil cackles reverberating around her skull, before becoming Rita again, claws scraping across Trini’s skin. Every night she was alone, her family fast asleep, oblivious as usual. And every night she’d eventually drift into a restless sleep, waking on and off throughout the night until her alarm blared and she had to drag her aching body out of bed, eyes bleary and weak.
Eyes shut and arms wrapped firmly around herself, she shook a little as she shrunk further back against the wall. Little mewls escaped her quivering lips as she began whispering the same words as she did the night before, and the night before that.
“Loser. Ugly. Die. Loser. Ugly. Die. Loser. Ugly…”
Only this time, she wasn’t alone.
A particularly violent shudder wracked her body, and then… a hand came to rest on her shoulder.
Trini tensed immediately, expecting pain.
But the hand was gentle, slowly moving up to cup her cheek.
She relaxed slightly.
Fidgeted once more.
Opened her eyes.
And found Kimberly, of all people, crouched in front of her, eyes wide.
"Trini?" Her voice was soft, and kind, and… worried?
Trini's eyes widened a little, panic and relief fighting within them. Panic won and she shrugged Kimberly off, brushing her friend’s hand away before raking trembling fingers through her hair.
“Trin, what’s wrong?” Kimberly backed up a little, leaning against Trini’s desk.
"Nothing. I'm fine."
Kimberly's eyebrows pulled together. "No, you're not."
"It's nothing, I swear,” Trini insisted, blood pounding in her ears.
“Doesn’t seem like nothing.”
“I’m worried about you.”
“Just drop it.”
But Kimberly was not to be dissuaded, holding her gaze until Trini had to look away because she couldn't stand to see the concern clouding Kimberly’s eyes.
"You can talk to me," Kimberly said, taking a step closer.
Trini shrank back, lips clamped into a firm line. "There's nothing to talk about."
Kimberly looked as though she was about to argue, but then her eyes flitted over Trini's set jaw and blank eyes and knew it was useless to push her any further.
Trini's eyebrows rose almost unnoticeably.
"Whatever, y'know? I was just trying to help."
And with that, Kimberly turned on her heel and deftly climbed out of the large window opposite, dropping to the dewy grass with a soft thump. Then Trini was alone again, blanketed by a silence so loud, it was almost deafening.
A few days passed and the girls still hadn't spoken properly since their encounter in Trini’s room.
Kimberly had debated approaching Trini a couple of times in the hallway or during lunch, but she'd seen her guarded eyes and pursed lips and pushed the thought away with a sigh. Billy quickly noticed the tension in the air, asking Kimberly about it in detention a few days later. But she just smiled it away, telling him it was nothing to worry about. Billy being Billy, he just nodded and smiled, happy to hear that nothing bad was happening with his friends. Jason, however, was not so easy to placate, and he cornered Kimberly after class one day, eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"What’s going on?"
Kimberly shook her head, feigning innocence. “I don’t know what you’re talki—”
"What's going on with you and Trini?"
Kimberly bristled at the sound of the other girl’s name. The action didn't go unnoticed by Jason.
"You two have a fight or something?"
"It's nothing, Jason."
He frowned. "It's obviously something. Been almost a week now and you've hardly looked at each other, even in training."
Kimberly opened her mouth to deny his claims, but was quickly silenced by his stern expression.
"Don't try to lie about it. The others have noticed too."
She took a deep breath, eyes glancing down to the floor before meeting his.
“Come on, Kim. You know we’ve all had that weird Rangers–telepathy thing ever since we learned how to morph. We can feel when something’s off with one of the team.”
Kimberly sighed in defeat, crossing her arms over her chest. "Fine, yeah. Things are a bit... weird between us, I guess."
Jason’s eyebrows furrowed a little. "Okay, why?"
She threw her hands up into the air. "I don't know why, that's the problem. I had a weird Ranger–whatever–feeling the other night so I went to her place to check on her and she seemed freaked out about something. I tried to calm her down, which seemed to work for about five seconds, but then she got all closed-off and distant and basically told me to fuck off."
“You’re really bothered about this, huh?”
Kimberly faltered. “Well, yeah, I mean, she’s— she’s my friend…”
Jason smirked, knowingly.
"It's not funny, Jason," Kimberly glared.
"I know, I know. It's just... you really don't see it, do you?"
He shook his head, still smiling. "Just go talk to her."
"But she doesn't want to—"
"Do it. Trust me."
Their conversation was interrupted by the ringing of the school bell.
"See ya later!"
Suddenly the corridors were filled with students, the hubbub building to a crescendo as Kimberly leaned against the lockers and tried to make sense of the conversation she'd just had.
Two classes later and she still didn’t understand Trini’s behaviour or Jason’s cryptic words. Students spilled into the corridors as she left her last class of the day, turning words over in her mind as if she’d suddenly find meaning if she looked at them from a different angle. But nothing worked.
She let out a frustrated sigh, making a beeline for her favourite bathroom. It hadn’t always been her favourite – that label was once reserved for the bathroom in the locker rooms, where she’d gossip with the other cheerleaders as they primped their hair and talked shit about other people. But now, she headed towards the bottom floor of the tiered building, to a small hallway on the other side of some broken lockers. Tucked away from the drama and excitement of the rest of the school, it was rarely used – and Kimberly preferred it that way.
She strode in, expecting to be greeted by the slow drip-drip-drip of the taps and the soft gurgles that emanated from the drains. What she wasn’t expecting was to see Trini perched up on the sinks, dabbing at her eye with a paper towel.
Her head whipped up.
“Shit, what happened to you?”
She glanced down at the crimson-stained tissue in her hand. “Nothing.”
Kimberly clenched her jaw. “Don’t do that.”
“Push me away.”
Trini was surprised to hear the hurt in Kimberly’s voice.
“It’s not a big deal, Kim, really—”
“You’re bleeding pretty bad.”
“Yeah. I, uh, I fell.”
Kimberly pursed her lips. “You fell?”
“Into a locker.”
The taller girl took a few steps forward, one eyebrow quirked. “You mean to tell me that the Yellow Power Ranger, who happens to be the least clumsy out of all of us, got injured by falling into a locker?”
Trini nodded hesitantly.
“Wow. I know I’m not the brightest sometimes, but come on, Trin.”
A smile tugged at the corner of Kimberly’s mouth, and Trini couldn’t help but smile back, wincing when a trickle of blood oozed out of the slash on her temple.
“Shit, here,” Kimberly rushed over, grabbing some clean paper towels before holding them ever-so-carefully against Trini’s head.
They stayed silent for a little while, Kimberly occasionally moving to run the tissues under the tap or to grab more clean ones. Trini stayed sitting atop the sinks with her legs dangling on either side of her friend's waist.
“You know,” Kimberly said, “You may as well tell me who did this so I can deal with them sooner rather than later.”
Trini fought back an eye roll.
“Was it Rita?” Kimberly’s jokey façade fell away as her eyes widened. “Did she come back to your house?”
“Then who? Another bad guy? Y’know, we don’t even know who else could be out there—”
“It wasn’t some evil villain, Kim.”
Trini shuffled awkwardly, folding her hands in her lap.
“Who was it, Trini?”
The smaller girl took a deep breath before bringing her eyes up to meet Kimberly’s.
“The same people that have been doing this to me since I moved here.”
“I know, I know. It’s ridiculous, one of the almighty Power Rangers having her ass kicked by some high school jerks.”
“Trini, I had no idea—”
“Of course you didn’t,” she smiled, somewhat bitterly. “You didn’t even know my name until we found those damn coins.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Kimberly could practically see Trini’s walls rising up again. “Nothing. Forget it.”
They stared each other down, Trini relenting and tearing her eyes away before she said something she might regret.
“What does that mean, Trini?”
Trini sighed defeatedly. “It means that if we weren’t friends now, you might’ve been involved in this lovely little game,” she gestured to her injured head, “that happened today.”
“Wha— the cheerleaders did this?!”
Trini was surprised to see rage smouldering in Kimberly’s admittedly pretty eyes.
“Kim, it’s okay—”
“No, it fucking isn’t.”
“You, uh, you just swore.”
“You’ve never sworn before.”
“I’ve never wanted to defend anyone before, either. Guess it’s a day for new discoveries,” Kimberly muttered, slinging her bag over her shoulder with a determined nod.
Trini hopped down off the sinks. “Kimberly, hold up a secon—”
But her words were cut off by the resounding slam of the bathroom door as Kimberly stormed out.
The cheer squad was out of action for an entire month after Kimberly got to them.
Obviously she denied doing anything, despite the girls’ adamant claims that she had interrupted practice and, to quote the head cheerleader herself, “beat the living shit out of them”, and with no actual proof that she had done it, the principal had no choice but to let her off.
Most of the Rangers were baffled to hear about the events in the gym, quizzing Kimberly about it but only receiving vague, noncommittal answers. Trini was the only one who stayed quiet. She was conflicted – part of her felt guilty, like it was her fault that the girls had been hurt. But the other part, the part that fluttered when Kimberly stood too close to her and couldn’t stop thinking about her pretty eyes and the way she’d held Trini’s face when she was taking care of her in that bathroom – that part felt almost giddy with pride, pride that someone had stood up for her for the first time in her life.
They’d begun mending their friendship after their talk in the bathroom. They no longer avoided each other in training sessions, instead choosing to battle against each other in the Pit on a regular basis. Trini’s speed plus Kimberly’s agility always made for an entertaining fight, and the boys would often stop what they were doing to watch, eyes flitting between the Pink and Yellow ranger as they sparred across the dirt floor.
A few weeks later saw the Rangers engaging in a training session that was more intense than usual, which resulted in them losing track of time and staying much later than they usually would have. After realising the time, Jason and Billy quickly gathered their belongings, bidding the others goodbye before racing out towards the cave exit. Zack left soon after, waving to the girls with a cheeky smirk.
Then it was just Trini and Kimberly left, their laboured breathing even louder now that it was just the two of them standing in the large cave.
“Good work today,” Kimberly panted.
Trini raised her eyebrows in response.
“Y’know, it wouldn’t kill you to compliment me every once in a while.”
Trini then turned to face Kimberly, whose face seemed stuck between half-serious and half-amused.
“What?” she huffed. “I’m always saying nice things about you, and—”
Kimberly stilled as Trini stared at her.
“You’re always saying nice things about me? To who?”
Trini swore she actually saw Kimberly gulp, like a cartoon character.
“No one. And not always. Just the guys, sometimes. I don’t…” she trailed off, eyes glued to the gravel beneath her feet.
“How come I never hear these nice things?”
Trini tried to keep her voice light, but there was an edge to it. Desperation? Kimberly picked up on this, halting for a second before stepping closer to the centre of the pit.
“Why are you so eager to know?”
Trini’s turn to take a step.
“Not eager. Just… curious.”
Another step for Kimberly.
“I don’t know. How you fee— what you think about me.”
Kimberly took another step.
“Why don’t you go first?”
One more step and Trini would be basically pressed up against Kimberly’s body. The taller girl noticed this, arching an eyebrow in a way that was obviously a challenge. And Trini was not the type of person to back down from a challenge.
Another step and they were pressed together, Kimberly’s breath hitting Trini’s flushed cheeks as they locked eyes.
“Why did you do that?”
“The cheerleaders. They haven’t bothered me at all since… I just don’t know why you’d do that for me.”
Kimberly was torn between laughing at how obvious it was or crying because she was so stupid for not seeing it sooner. Jason’s words echoed in her ears.
“You really don’t see it, do you?”
Trini frowned. “See what?”
And with one more deep breath, Kimberly closed the small gap between them and kissed Trini in a way that made it feel like they were floating up towards the sky. Trini’s hands came up to rest on Kimberly’s hips and Kimberly’s fingers tangled in Trini’s hair and god, why hadn’t they done this sooner?
Trini pulled back a minute or so later, eyes dazed. “Oh.”
“My god,” Kimberly finished.
They smiled at each other, sappy grins turning to shy giggles as Kimberly wrapped a piece of Trini’s hair around her finger.
“You still haven’t answered my question, y’know,” Trini said.
“I’d much rather just kiss you again.”
Trini couldn’t really argue with that, cheeks flushing pink as Kimberly pulled her close once more and kissed her, deeper this time. A small moan slipped out from between Trini’s lips, which only made Kimberly kiss her harder (she really wanted to hear her make that noise again).
Kimberly broke the kiss just for a moment, to whisper against Trini’s trembling lips:
“I did it because I care about you.”
Those words, that simple sentence. It ignited something within Trini, something she’d never felt before. She felt strong, but it was a different kind of strength than the strength she felt when wearing her power suit. It was a strength that flowed through her veins and filled her heart; and then Kimberly’s legs were wrapped around her waist and Trini was pinning her up against the wall and everything felt right.
Their frantic kissing eventually slowed to lazy pecks, Kimberly unhooking herself from around Trini’s waist before sliding down the cave wall, pulling the smaller girl down with her. They rested in silence for a while, Trini tentatively shuffling over to rest her head on Kimberly's shoulder.
(She chose not to point out how she heard Kim’s heartbeat spike when she reached over and laced their fingers together).
They glanced at each other, Kimberly's smirk matching Trini's coy smile.
“Oh, crap,” Trini said, head falling back to lean on the cave wall.
“You know the boys are never going to let us hear the end of this.”
Kimberly let out a laugh. “Something tells me they already know.”
“They’re more perceptive than we thought.”
“Huh. Well, I guess that saves us the effort of having to make a big announcement.”
“Figured you’d appreciate that.”
They settled back into comfortable quiet, Trini finding herself soothed by the steady sound of Kimberly’s breathing. They stayed there for another hour, only interrupted once by a slightly befuddled Alpha enquiring about the whereabouts of the other Rangers. Then it was time for them to head home too, Kimberly jumping to her feet so she could hold out her hand for Trini.
“Such a gentleman,” Trini smirked, taking Kimberly's hand and savouring the feel of Kimberly's thumb brushing across her knuckles.
They walked out hand-in-hand, getting to the top of the mountain in time to see the last dregs of the sunset slipping away into the night. Trini paused, pulling Kimberly back gently.
“Thanks. For… y’know.”
Kimberly smiled again, squeezing Trini's hand. “Of course.”
They walked a little way down the trail before Kimberly paused, turning to face Trini with a grin.
“I have an idea.”
“I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked up quite an appetite.”
Trini's smile grew. Excitement danced in Kimberly’s hazel eyes.
“You thinking what I’m thinking?”
Trini raised her eyebrows. “Waffles?”
Kimberly nodded, her smile bright enough to light up even the darkest of nights in Angel Grove. “Waffles.”