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you gotta fix yourself up (before taking off)

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...

The nightmares only get worse when Rita is gone for good.

The green power coin is crushed in her hand in each of the dreams, the dust scattering to the ground and then rising in the wind—sparkling green crystals and then choking her. Getting in her mouth, making it so she can’t breathe.

Rita is there, always. Laughing in front of her. Alive and well and saying, I was an outsider like you, I was just like you.

Sometimes Tommy is there. Sometimes Tommy is on the ground.

Sometimes she’s breaking his arm and sometimes he’s screaming.

But Tommy doesn’t remember at all. Tommy just said, What happened? Where am I? and the doctors had chalked the memory loss up to a concussion sustained from a falling brick or something.

Something likely.

Tommy is alive. Rita is dead.

The only part of the dream that doesn’t fit is the power coin—the green one—which rests in her nightstand at night and in her pocket every day. Heavy and hot and just as linked to her now that she’d taken it, since she’d been the one to free Tommy, to kill Rita, in the first place.

Heavy and hot and just as linked to her as her own coin.

Not crushed at all, but perfectly intact.

There’s another part, too.

Sometimes Kim is there.

Sometimes Kim’s throat is being crushed in her hand and she's saying, Don’t give in! Fight her!

She tries not to think about it. Tries not to put much stock in dreams or nightmares or the way it all feels so real.

Tries. But mostly, she fails.

..

It’s Jason’s idea, but it’s Trini who finds the house a couple of weeks before her and Kim graduate.

It’s only two streets over from her own and she passes by one day when the owner is outside hammering in a For Rent sign.

The garage got caved in during that last fight with Rita and the foundation has a couple of cracks apparently, but he says, “I’ll cut rent in half if you can fix it up,” when she asks and, yeah.

Her dad got her a set of power tools for her sixteenth birthday instead of a car and she’s spent the last ten years of her life helping him flip houses and then moving so—

Jason says, “If only,” when she calls him and she doesn’t think it’s going to go anywhere and has a lot on her mind, anyway. Graduation, destiny, Kim, and her mom.

She’s busy as she has been the past four months. Heavy. Laden down by something she can’t see and doesn’t really want to pinpoint, scared of what she’ll find if she does.

.

But things with her mom finally, finally, come to a head.

It’s been almost two years. Two years of sneaking around to meet the guys for training. Two years of washing blood out of her own clothes in the middle of the night. Two years of her not answering the questions about where all those bruises are coming from and Why won’t you answer me?

Almost a year of Did you send out college applications? that slowly began to turn into Are you going to waste your entire life, Trinidad?

It’s the middle of the night when it finally happens. When she’s coming through the front door, her face scrubbed free of graduation-day-makeup that she’d let Kim apply earlier that morning before the ceremony.

Her lip is split because Zack had punched her during what was supposed to be a friendly sparring match to blow off post-diploma-getting energy and turned into an angry - Trini vs. laughing-Zack sparring match when he kept moaning like some porn-star-wannabe imitation of her and saying, “Oh, Kimberly!” in this really gross voice.

Jason laughing and Billy looking confused—Kim just looking downright embarrassed—had only made things worse and, yeah. She’d gotten distracted.

Big whoop. It happens sometimes.

Especially when Kimberly Hart decides to wear a dress that barely brushes her knees.

Her mom is waiting for her in the living room, arms crossed over her bathrobe and looking like she’d like very much to snatch Trini’s hair out at the scalp—though Trini doubts very much that she would ever actually do that.

It starts out as, “Where have you been?” and, “Talk to me, mija!” and turns into a screaming match when her mom brings up the gay thing. The Kim thing.

The, “This is because you’ve been hanging out with that girl ,” thing.

That’s all it takes for Trini to start yelling back, loud enough to wake up her brothers, who stand at the top of the stairs gripping the rails and watching fearfully as their sister and mother throw sharp jabs at one another’s weak spots.

It makes Trini feel awful. Feel guilty.

Makes the power coin burn hot in the pocket of Jason’s jacket--the one he’d put around her shoulders before sending her home.

And her mom is crying and shouting and then Trini just feels numb.

“Where is my daughter? Where is she? I don’t see her in you anymore!” her mom yells.

“I’m still your daughter! Whether you like what you see or not!” she hollers back, because there’s nothing else to do . “I’m not going to change who I am just to make you happy!”

And it falls silent.

Deathly so. Alex sniffles on the stairs.

“I don’t think I can live here anymore,” Trini says so quietly, so raw because her voice and her throat are tired from all of this.

And she’s expecting her mom to apologize then, to take it all back when faced with the idea of her daughter leaving for good.

But she doesn’t.

She says, “I don’t think you can either.”

And, well. That’s that then.

.

K-Money: what do you mean they’re kicking you out?

K-Money: call me

K-Money: it takes me like 5 minutes to get there you kno

K-Money: fuk boundries girl, i’m heading over

K-Money: you totally could have kill me pushing me out of that window but

K-Money: i love you anyway

K-Money: jase is gonna cal you he says he’s a “man with a plan” and i

                said he’s barely a man

You: turn on your spell check. your texting habits are atrocious.

.

It’s not that she hadn’t been planning on moving out eventually .

It’s just that she hadn’t expected it to be so soon.

Mostly, it had just been some sort of release. Some form of venting with Jason because he spent the last year after him and Billy graduated saying, “My dad is driving me crazy,” and, “I need to find my own place.”

And Jason always understood that sort of thing—the unexpectedly heavy expectations on their shoulders that their parents kept adjusting whenever they started to slide off. Jason understood it before he screwed up at the start of his senior year and things only got worse when his dad realized that, not only was his son not going to college, but he wasn’t even moving out of the house.

So Trini had said, “Yeah, I know the feeling,” in return all those times and it somehow turned into a plan.

Some pipe dream ideal world where they could afford a place to live on his summers-on-a-fishing-boat only salary and her hourly wage at her mall-gig. Someplace where her room could be yellow and his could be red and they’d get an orange couch for the living room and three spares keys to hand out.

And then they’re back at that house together and signing a rental agreement and Jason is picking at the chipped paint on the stairway.

It’s not a dream anymore.

“Sure we can fix this place up?” he asks and Trini stares at him.

Smiles.

Says, “I have many skills,” in this deep Xena impression that makes Jason grin like an idiot.

.

She moves out the next morning.

Waits until her mom pulls out of the driveway with her brothers for soccer practice and her dad is at work and then the guys arrive, piled into Jason’s truck, and she opens the door to let them in.

“Weird coming in through the front,” Kim jokes and Zack wiggles his eyebrows at Trini who punches him in the arm.

“That’s what she said,” Billy says and then grins when Jason laughs. “Did that one work?”

And it’s nice, somehow. Trini’s felt heavy all morning. All week.

But these idiots make her smile and she says, “Yeah, L’il Bill. That one worked.”

.

She takes everything. All of it.

Leaves the mattress behind with a note she spent all night writing that just says Sorry .

The green power coin rests in her pocket--clinks occasionally against her yellow one--even though she’d packed it in the first duffle bag Jason took down to the truck.

Kim stands beside her in the empty room and offers her this sad little smile and a warm hand that Trini takes. Squeezes.

She’s moved before. Lots of times. This isn’t anything new.

But it feels different this time because her brothers aren’t running around screaming and hiding in boxes and her mom isn’t going overboard labeling everything so it doesn’t get lost or set down in the wrong room at the new house.

It feels like maybe she’s never done this before.

And it’s a nice bedroom. The walls have long since been patched and painted to hide the effects of Rita’s little attack two years prior.

She’d fixed it up well with her dad’s tools, but not his help, because he’d said, You’ve seen me do this a million times before, Trinidad, so have a little faith in yourself.

Downstairs, she takes her jacket off the hook by the door and slips it on even though it’s ninety-degrees outside.

Thankfully, the guys know enough to not say anything.

She looks around the house one last time before she leaves and it doesn’t look that different without her things in it and maybe that was the problem to begin with.

.

In Jason’s truck, she sits on Kim’s lap to save space and Zack lies flat in the bed between her boxes and bags—occasionally raps his knuckles against the back window to tell them to turn the radio up.

Billy sits in the middle of the bench, talking about buying curtains and a couch and plates because Trini is eighteen and Jason is just barely pushing twenty and the only time either of them has owned those things is when they belonged to their parents.

“I’ll be picking those out,” Kim says, her hands warm on Trini’s hips. She wiggles her fingers through Trini’s belt loops, making her squirm a little, and smiles. “These two will probably try to buy those little plastic plate sets they make for kids.”

“Those ones have Spiderman on them,” Jason grumbles and when Kim laughs, Trini slides further into her.

.

Trini Ortiz-Kwan @whatsfortrinner – 2h

oh god. @GrreatScott snores. k i l l  m e 

 

Trini Ortiz-Kwan @whatsfortrinner – June 8

#same

        Kimberly Hart @himberlykart

        Replying to @whatsfortrinner

        like @Zackipedia makes me wanna get hit

        by a train?? sometimes?? again??

.

Her first night in the new house goes a lot like how she expected.

It’s hot, despite the late hour and the brisk summer chill outside. Like the heat has been trapped somewhere in the walls all day and chosen, just now, to try and suffocate her.

Her box fan blows hot air at her ineffectually from across the room and the crickets outside are so loud and—

It’s been a long time since that last move three years ago.

She’d forgotten how these kinds of houses sound before they’re fixed—before the hum of central air conditioning and the muted distance of cars past closed windows.

If she pricks her ears enough—somehow changes her focus to the sounds beyond the passing cars and her fan—she thinks she can still distantly hear Jason snoring.

And she thinks:

At least one of them can get some sleep.

She keeps up the pretense for two hours.

Long enough to be considered a good try, a trial run, and then she sits up in bed and winces at the way her shirt sticks to her lower back as she kicks off the covers angrily.

Reaches for her phone.

Ten minutes later, her you up, loser? has still gone unanswered, unread, so she calls instead.

And there’s no reason for it, really. It’s 2 AM and she should just let Kim sleep, but the distant memory of Rita Repulsa dripping seawater on her face from her old bedroom ceiling keeps her from hanging up.

But Kim answers after the second ring anyway. Always does. Night or day.

“What’s up?” she greets, probably trying to sound upbeat but the gravel in her voice gives her away immediately.

“I woke you up,” Trini states, obviously.

And it’s not a question, but Kim says, “What? No. I’ve been awake for, like…All day.”

There’s the sound of something shifting, of Kim sitting up and pressing her back into her headboard and Trini closes her eyes and leans back on her right elbow. Tries to picture it.

“Do you smell that?” Trini asks, biting her lip to keep from smirking as if Kim is in the room with her and not in her own bedroom across town.

“Smell what?”

“Is that smoke?” She thinks she can hear Kim grinning into the phone, thinks she might be catching on as she says, “Kimberly Ann Hart, are your pants on fire?”

A motorcycle passes, too loud for the early hour, but Trini focuses, instead, on the way Kim is laughing into her ear.

With her eyes closed, Trini can imagine her there. Lying on the bed with her.

Laughing like that.

“Can’t sleep?”

And, no, she can’t.

And maybe calls like this should be weird in their distant urgency. Maybe things would be different if Kim was just a friend from high school who helped her dissect a frog in biology junior year and who signed up for anatomy the next year even though they’d had to dissect a cat .

Just a friend who’d cried the entire time and made Trini rattle off the various official terms for each part of said cat for their final.

But Kim helped her move today. Kim folded her clothes on Trini’s bed and said, You’ve got like six of the same flannel, like she was fond of the fact. Kim is the other arm of their Mega-Zord, the anchor to that weird combo spin-kick-thing Alpha-5 helped them block last week.

It was Kim who went after her when the group nearly broke up entirely the year before—when Trini called Jason a lot of things she didn’t mean because of the Tommy- turning-them-and-the-city-against-them thing and she’d pushed Zack out of the way. It was Kim who insisted that she could push the boys away but not her. Never her.

Trini had held Kim’s seemingly lifeless body in her arms moments before she’d defeated Rita—and Tommy —on her own, with only Zack for aid—and half-aid, at that, because his leg was broken. She’d held Kim’s body in her arms as Kim woke up and said Did I miss anything? and she’d felt it as Kim’s broken little smile started to stitch her world back together.

Kim is the best friend she’s ever had and she always answers the phone.

No matter what time it is.

“Not really.”

Kim is her best friend.

She’s more than that, though, and maybe she always has been or always will be or something equally cliché that makes Trini sort of want to fake-gag on principle.

Even if they end up never doing anything about it. Even if she keeps waiting, biding her time, only for nothing to happen.

Except Kim says, “I’ll be there in 10,” and hangs up and that’s something.

That’s Kim for you at least.

.

She hoists herself in the open window like a fucking maniac though and Trini chucks a pillow at her head in a brief moment of panic.

“Yo, not cool, my dude,” Kim says as she rights herself, leaning down to pick up the pillow and toss it back on Trini’s bed.

“There’s a door, you know,” Trini tells her. “Two of ‘em actually. And you happen to have a key that opens both.”

Kim smirks and jingles said keys before tossing them on Trini’s nightstand like they belong there. “Didn’t want to wake our fearless leader.”

“Okay, weirdo,” Trini concedes, but she’s smiling anyway.

Remembering all those times this past year-and-a-half that Kim had hoisted herself into Trini’s old bedroom with a bag from Krispy Kreme held between her teeth.

She’s doesn’t have donuts now. Now, all she has is a sinful pair of shorts on and an oversized crewneck Trini is 90% positive she stole when she was “helping fold” earlier.

But Trini lets her into the bed anyway.

.

Jason doesn’t even seem surprised to see Kim in their kitchen the next morning. He hardly even looks up from his Pop-Tart, even though she ruffles his hair on her way to the coffee pot.

“How’d you sleep?” he asks Trini when she comes shuffling in behind Kim, running her fingers embarrassedly through her bed-wrangled hair (even though Jason’s seen it plenty of times after countless group sleepovers, intended or otherwise).

Trini’s eyes turn from him to Kim, who is bouncing her way around, moving boxes and grinning triumphantly when she locates three mugs.

She says, “Fine,” and it’s not a lie.

The nightmares are never as bad when she has Kim to wake up to--alive and whole and well.

.

She spends the day on the old beanbag chair in her new barren living room with the pitiful TV turned on to some basic cable channel.

Kim left early, but not as early as Jason, for a flight lesson with her uncle.

But I’ll be back later, she’d also said and ruffled Trini’s hair in a way that made her wonder if maybe she’d been intending to kiss her on the cheek instead for a moment.

She spends those first couple hours that she’s alone beating herself up for thinking things like that.

Letting it get to her. Letting it complicate this thing with Kim.

Around noon, there’s a knock on the door that can’t be Jason and probably isn’t Kim because it’s barely been two hours and her lessons are never done this early. Zack is at work and Billy is probably out being Billy somewhere, but she gets up anyway and answers it with an angry, “What?”

It’s Jason’s mom.

Jason’s mom who is staring at her with wide eyes and a sort of panicked look on her face.

“Hi, um…Deedee, right?” she asks, and twists the straps of the duffle bag in her hands.

“Trini,” she corrects, resisting the urge to roll her eyes.

Mrs. Scott nods and sets her lips into this really weird smile like she feels bad about the name mix-up and then she laughs a little, which just makes it all the more awkward. “Um, I brought this by. I know Jason is out on the boat until later, but I thought—”

Trini isn’t really sure what Jason’s mom thought, but she takes the bag anyway.

And nearly falls over from the unexpected weight of it, superpowers or not.

“It’s just some stuff Jason forgot in his bedroom.”

Trini straightens up and clicks her tongue. Says, “Okay.”

“The house is very nice,” is what Mrs. Scott says next and behind her, Trini can see her car parked in the driveway—can see Katie, Jason’s sister, sticking her head out of the window to watch this whole exchange.

The house isn’t nice. That’s a blatant lie. The porch she’s standing on is ready to collapse under her weight.

“Well...Give Jason my love.”

And then Mrs. Scott is heading back towards her car, giving this weird, little wave as she backs out of the driveway.

Trini clicks the door shut behind her and sets the bag down at the base of the stairs before flopping back down on the bean bag chair.

For a moment, she’d thought it may have been her own mother at the door.

Coming to apologize.

But…

No such luck.

.

You: your mom stopped by with your shit

Basket-Jase: cool thank u

You: i deserve a raise if I’mma be your personal secretary btw

Basket-Jase: lol

You: bring me home a fish

.

Kim does come calling later.

And she actually uses her damn keys to get in instead of coming in through the window.

Trini doesn’t even get up until Kim snatches her beanie off of her head and says, “It’s a hundred degrees in here,” and then, “You need some sun.”

Normally, she’d argue. But it’s Kim and she’s wearing this pair of shorts that just—

Trini follows her outside with hardly a complaint.

.

Kim buys her ice cream, at least, and only asks if she fixed the shower head—not that huge hole in the wall in the hallway or the sagging railing on the porch steps.

So that’s something.

.

When they get back to the house, Zack is already there lounging on the beanbag chair like he owns the place.

“I regret giving you a key,” is how Trini greets him, kicking him off the chair so she can sit down on it instead.

“Jason gave me a key,” he corrects her, grinning stupidly.

“Well, I regret Jason being born, then.”

Billy comes out of the kitchen then with a full plate of pizza and she smiles at him reflexively, even as he says, “I saw your mom at the park with your brothers today. She didn’t wave back.”

It’s a lot to process, and not like it usually is when Billy says things she doesn’t know how to begin understanding.

And Kim understands. Kicks off her shoes and crosses the room to flop down on Trini’s lap as a distraction, wraps her arms around Trini’s neck like she needs an anchor and Trini swallows even as Zack is smirking.

Even as Billy sits down on the orange, shag carpeting the house had come with beside them.

It works, too. Kim sitting on her lap.

Trini is so busy keeping her arms around Kim’s waist—keeping her steady as she kicks Zack’s ass at some weird video game of Jason’s—that she hardly even thinks about what Billy had said.

Hardly even wonders at it.

Barely notices the extra green coin in her pocket and the way it digs into her leg every time Kim moves.

.

Because the thing is, she’d run if she could, right?

That’s what she used to do, anyway.

Hell, her parents used to help her with it.

Things get tough? Things get weird? Things get a little too gay and you’re not sure how to confront your daughter about that girl you caught her kissing?

Just run away from it.

That’s not healthy, though, Kim had told her years ago, sitting cross-legged in her living room with some movie they weren’t watching playing on the TV.

And this was the new Kim. The Kim who cut her hair in some sort of Rapunzel-freeing-herself-from-the-tower act of defiance against society and who she was before.

The Kim who told all of them about the Amanda thing in the interest of facing things head on.

The Kim who jumped across a cliff after Trini when Trini had tried to run.

But this was still a while away from the Tommy thing. The Rita-coming-back thing and Trini being positive that there was no point in running anyway because Kim was lying on the ground, broken and bloody, and Billy was ten feet away in a similar position.

And Jason, too. Seemingly lifeless in a pile of rubble.

But she can’t run now. There’s nowhere to go.

A piece of some alien crystal shackled itself to her and now the chain barely even reaches one town over.

If things were different—if she weren’t superpowered or destiny-heavy—she would probably have hitchhiked to L.A. already to stay with that aunt of hers who always bitches about her mom at family events.

She’d have ditched her phone and her life and her friends (if she would have even had them without this stupid coin in her pocket—her own and not this new one, this strange one that is only hers now by extension) and moved on.

But she can’t.

So she doesn’t.

It’s more than that, too. More than just wanting to leave. She thinks if she’d met these kids--her weird new brothers and Kim --she wouldn’t have it in her to leave anyway.

.

Jason doesn’t get in until late that night, after Billy has passed out in a pile of blankets on the floor and Zack has already ducked out for the night.

“Long day?” she asks and Kim is sitting on the floor between Trini’s legs, back against the beanbag chair and playing some weird cartoon-knight game.

She leans back as Trini speaks, as if asking for something without wanting to interrupt and Trini’s fingers curl gently in the ends of Kim’s hair on basic instinct, brushing against the warm skin of her neck.

She doesn’t mean to do it.

Jason just grunts in response and then goes into the kitchen, returning with a piece of pizza that he eats tiredly standing in the doorway, picking off the pineapple chunks and chucking them onto Billy’s empty plate.

Trini wants to ask him how things were with his dad—if the long days out on the waves are any better for communicating, like his dad had said at the start of last summer—but Billy is snoring and Kim is fighting some sort of giant cat-beast in a river, and it doesn’t seem like the right time.

.

She fixes that damn shower head the next morning after Kim wakes her up with a shrill scream at the water temperature.

.

Trini Ortiz-Kwan @whatsfortrinner – 1h

@himberlykart  Being woken up by a loud-mouthed girl in the NOT fun way pretty much sucks  

 

Kimberly Hart @himberlykart – 1h

@whatsfortrinner   don’t fight our love, trini #meanttobe #romeoandjuliet #withoutthedeath  

 

Trini Ortiz-Kwan @whatsfortrinner – 1h

@himberlykart   1) You gotta start capitalizing, dude 2) Fuck off

 

Billy Cranston @WilliamCranston2000

@whatsfortrinner @himberlykart   :)

.

Jason gets a rare day off that second Tuesday in the house and they paint the living room together.

They spend hours in Home Depot that morning trying to decide on a color—bickering over yellow and red, just because they’re both so terribly stubborn—until Kim says, “Oh my god!” in exasperation and asks the guy working there for two gallons of something called “corlsbud canyon” which—

“Looks like a cat threw up on the walls,” Jason says when they’re done, making this face like he’s about to mimic the actions of said imaginary cat.

He’s got a streak of it up by his hairline like some teen-movie-cliché and Trini is just about to roast him for it when there’s a knock at the door.

It’s Zack, who grins when he sees her in one of Jason’s old football shirts that she got a good deal of the paint on. “Look at you,” he coos and pushes past her into the house.

And then he spends the next twenty minutes saying different variations of, “It’s like your Ranger colors had a baby. An ugly baby,” while Jason laughs and makes plans to go get another color later in the week.

Trini stands in the corner and nods until Kim shows up with Billy saying, “I like it. It’s got…character.”

And the look Jason gives her when she says, “Yeah, me too,” makes her turn the same color as the walls.

.

Her mom never calls.

She doesn’t write either, though Trini understands—logically—that her mom doesn’t even have the address to write to.

Trini wants to visit. Wants to hold her brothers and play with them and listen to how their summer is going, but something in her chest stops her every time she almost gives in.

Every time she’s about to walk those two streets over to see them.

Something that feels a lot like guilt.

That same feeling she gets whenever she feels her eyes linger on the curve of Kim’s jaw, the shape of her hips when she’s walking just ahead.

The same feeling she has whenever she leaves that stupid green coin in a drawer, in a stack of shirts, and maybe has ten or so seconds before she feels it appear heavily in her pocket. Always.

.

Alpha-5 tells her that there’s something wrong with her the second week of summer.

Stops training to say something about her hypothalamus secreting more corticotrophin-releasing hormones than usual and Trini wants to say duh .

Of course her hormones are wack.

Because fight or flight and there’s a fucking huge putty coming straight at her but Alpha-5 is a creep who can tell these things and he’s probably been monitoring her and the others since this all started, so he knows her usual body responses to this sort of thing.

He says something about her cortisol levels staying too high, her blood pressure at a scary level for an eighteen-year-old girl, when it’s all finished and Kim is handing her a towel and that plastic Ziploc bag for her phone for the jump back up through the water.

She flips Alpha-5 off and jumps before Jason can scold her.

She’s not depressed.

.

“You’re depressed,” Billy says one night when she’s sitting in the backyard of the house and she’d thought he was inside somewhere with the others.

Thought— hoped— that the approaching sounds were Kim, but stargazing with Kim after an emotional day wouldn’t end well.

Might end with her doing something dumb, like leaning in and kissing her or--

Something else that could throw off the group dynamic if it weren’t well-received.

“You really know how to compliment a girl,” she says dryly as he sits down beside her. “Been working on that one long?”

Billy sits with his legs bent, his arms wrapped around them and he doesn’t look at her or the sky, where she’s looking. He just says, “When my dad died, I got really sad but I didn’t know how talk to my mom about it. Because she was hurting too, you know? And it felt like a burden. I wasn’t the only one who was sad, so I kept it quiet.”

Trini finally swivels her head to look at him, because Billy talks about his dad a lot—with this easy use of past-tense that shows how he’s begun to move on with his life—but it’s never like this.

“And then one day my buddy Carl—you know Carl—”

She does know Carl. Met him twice in high school because Billy was better at having friends outside their weird, incestuous circle than any of the rest of them were.

“He was complaining about his dad. I don’t remember about what, just that I was so angry. That he had a dad to complain about and I didn’t anymore. So I pushed him off the jungle gym.”

And Trini doesn’t mean to laugh at the image of it—of a ten-year-old Billy shoving some poor kid off the jungle gym—but she does and immediately covers her mouth to muffle the sound.

But Billy smiles, too. “Nah, it’s okay. It was pretty funny. He wasn’t hurt or anything. But…They called my mom, right? And I was so worried…that she was going to be disappointed in me. But she wasn’t. She didn’t even ground me.”

Trini looks away from him—from the softness in Billy’s eyes that she never feels worthy of—and Billy reaches out and puts a hand on hers, right there in the grass. Just for a second.

Then he pulls away.

“It’s okay to not be okay,” he tells her.

It’s silent again.

Trini can distantly hear Zack yelling something that sounds like a somewhat amused, “You goddamn bitch!” and Kim cackling, probably at his expense, the sound of Jason jumping in to break it up.

And then Billy says, “We should throw a party.”

.

William Cranston invited you to his event Let’s Have a Kiki, Mother.

JUN    Let’s Have a Kiki, Mother

17     Fri 7 PM – 112 Buckley Dr, Angel Grove, California

        William Cranston, Kimberly Hart, and Jason Scott are going.

.

Billy drags her to the store with him, with a two-page list of things they need for the party to be a success the morning of.

The list just has a lot of candy on it.

Like a kid who’s parents are going out of town for the weekend.

“Zack’s in charge of beer,” Billy says in the chip aisle of Target and Trini raises an eyebrow at this.

“You’re okay with underage drinking?”

And she’s known him for two years now—been chained to his destiny the same way he has been to hers and they both have been to the others—but the smile he gives her surprises her.

He looks downright mischievous.

“You gotta have fun sometime,” is his answer.

Apparently the fun starts with buying twelve bags of Doritos.

.

Kim shows up to the house three hours early and tells Trini to stop freaking out as she rummages through Trini’s closet, looking for something to wear.

“Don’t you have your own clothes?” Trini asks from her bed, trying to ignore the flutter in her chest when Kim says, “I like yours better,” from in between the hangers.

She emerges with one of Trini’s yellow flannels on overtop of her baggy pink shirt and rolls the sleeves up—Trini does not look at Kim’s forearms—before saying, “How do I look?”

Kim crosses the room as she says it, presses her knees into the edge of the bed until Trini is imagining her crawling across the mattress to hover overtop of her, Kim’s lips on her jaw and her neck and her own hands gripping that stupid flannel to get her closer.

There’s a loud, shouted greeting downstairs. A voice that sounds like one of the boys saying something as the front door closes.

Trini’s able to squeak out a, “You look good,” but just barely.

And then, “You better return that fucking flannel, Hart,” and Kim just smirks.

.

The only people who arrive right at seven o’clock are some of Billy’s friends from high school—the nice but nerdy ones with the awkward smiles who say, “Hey, Billy!” and who Billy lets hug him in greeting.

Unburdened in a way that his hugs with them never are.

No expectations.

No being tied down.

Kim sits on the couch they just got on Tuesday—the one Trini is self-conscious about because it’s orange and secondhand—and yells for Jason to play something other than Pet Shop Boys.

“You good?” Kim asks when Jason flips her off, but changes the music anyway, and she’s smiling again. Happy.

Light.

Trini’s hand goes to the back of her head as she attempts to rearrange her hair, feeling suddenly on display with Kim looking at her like that. “Yeah,” she says and it’s only barely a lie.

.

The doorbell rings around nine and everyone but Zack is already there—sitting around the living room or in the kitchen.

Not more than fifteen people because Billy only had four friends in high school other than them and Trini had none— and so did Kim after the picture incident—but Jason still knows some people.

And Trini invited that girl from work that makes Jason get all red in the face.

Mostly she sits on the couch with Kim who has been fiddling on her phone for the past hour, posted a picture of Trini glaring at her on Instagram with the caption How’s This For Capitalization? #suckstosuck #grammarbitch

“I’m not getting that,” Carly, Trini’s friend from work, says and she’s smiling, joking.

Makes Jason laugh like it’s the first joke he’s ever heard from his seat on the couch and Kim makes a face at him.

So Trini gets it. Answers the door with Billy at her side, only to be met with the sight of two guys she’s never met before, who push past her into the house.

“This is a private residence,” Billy tells him, but they keep moving.

Ask, “You got beer?” on their way.

Zack appears on the porch a second later with a huge keg held in front of him like it’s nothing.

“Ready to party?” he asks and like twenty more people show up behind him.

“Stop glaring at Zack so much, weirdo,” Kim says a few minutes later, looking over the flyer Zack must have drawn himself with crayons and photocopied at Staples. “This is terrible for someone his age.”

It has a horrible drawing of Trini’s face—if that’s what you can call a drawing—with the house’s address on it scrawled under the word PARTY. In all caps. Just like that.

She imagines him standing on street corners and plastering them on the bulletin board outside the local grocery store.

“I hate him.”

Kim’s mouth melts into a smirk. “No, you don’t. You don’t even hate parties. Remember when we crashed Amanda’s party last year and you said—”

Trini’s ears have never turned so red in so fast in her life. She remembers that night. Remembers Kim dancing against her in the dark living room. Remembers standing in the corner with Kim’s breath on her face, hot as she said, This is stupid. Parties are stupid , and how she’d been certain they were going to kiss so Trini had said, No they’re not.

She elbows Kim in the side on her way back to her couch, where she can sit and avoid conversations in peace.

.

Trini Ortiz-Kwan @whatsfortrinner – 1m

I love having my home being taken over by @Zackipedia ’s new flyer-friends.

 

Zack ‘Attack’ Taylor @Zackipedia – 1m

@whatsfortrinner stop moping and come do a body shot off Kimmy

.

Zack takes control of the music after about ten seconds of being there and suddenly most of the lights are off and everyone is dancing.

Trini loses Kim in the midst of it—loses Billy, too—but she thinks she can see Jason, because he’s huge comparatively, in the middle of the dance floor with Carly.

She stands in the corner of the room, leaned back against the wall, for a long while—not thinking about how much of being a high schooler she must have missed by running away.

By moving.

By becoming a superhero.

How she’ll never do this at college either because this isn’t Sunnydale and Angel Grove doesn’t have its own university and the only way she can get a degree is if she doesn’t have to leave town to do it.

And, even then, it’s sort of like—

Then what?

Some alien demon bent on destroying the world is probably going to end up killing her before she’s thirty anyway.

She watches Jason with his arms around Carly’s waist. Imagines him playing college football somewhere and sleeping in a dorm room instead of a run-down bedroom in a house they share.

She imagines Billy dominating MIT and going on to cure cancer or create teleportation or be the first person to time travel or something . And then imagines him living in that house with his mom for the rest of his life.

She finally sees Kim dancing with someone familiar, someone she can just make out in the darkness, their bodies close and—

“You okay?” Zack asks when she stumbles into the kitchen.

Zack who memorizes puns to make her smile on the bad days and introduced her to his mother just a month after they met. Who trusts her and hugs her when she needs it and took over this party and invited Tommy fucking Oliver.

He’s setting out Solo cups on the table for a game of beer pong that hasn’t started yet and she loves him implicitly and fiercely—with everything in her, the way she loves all of them—but she can’t even look at him right now.

Can’t manage it without picturing him lying on the ground, armor cracked around his leg, screaming You can do this! over the sound of that Dragon Zord toppling more buildings. People screaming.

Tommy Oliver laughing with Rita behind him.

The coin burns in her pocket. The green one. Her yellow one feels abnormally cold.

Her chest is empty, as if she’s been hollowed out and is about to be scrapped for parts. Like she’s a shell of something and no one knows of what exactly.

“Just peachy,” she says, and she pushes her way out the backdoor and into the yard.

.

“You’re so good at partying, Trini. Seriously. Blows my mind.”

Inside, the music throbs through the house. Something with a lot of bass in a weird, erratic pattern and Trini doesn’t even turn around. Knows who it is.

“Hey, flannel-snatcher.”

Kim grins and asks for permission first—says, “Can I sit down?” and waits for Trini to nod before she does it.

The lights in the kitchen behind them are on, but the sky is black and the town is quiet for a Friday because Angel Grove doesn’t have a very big night-life scene. Pretty soon, someone will complain about the noise and the cops will come shut the party down and they’ll probably be lucky if they don’t get busted for underage drinking, but Trini doesn’t care.

Doesn’t want to think about that because she doesn’t want to think about anything.

Can’t look at Kim without imagining Tommy’s tall body pressed into hers in the darkness, Kim’s hands resting on his shoulders.

“Are you mad at me?” Kim asks, and her voice sounds so small that Trini nearly breaks.

Trini nearly looks.

“What?” she asks, trying to sound nonchalant. “Dude, no.”

Because she isn’t.

Not really.

That’s not what this is.

This is the part where she thinks about how much she wanted to dance with Kim like that, press herself into Kim’s body and feel the heat of her skin again, and how she can’t do that. Not the way Tommy fucking Oliver can.

Tommy fucking Oliver who can leave this city whenever he damn well pleases, freed from the burden—and even the memory—of his time as a ranger. Tommy fucking Oliver who tried to kill them more than once and dismantled their group for the better part of two months and then up and forgot when it was over.

When she’d killed Rita for good and that stupid green coin had flickered out and Tommy was just Tommy—no Green Ranger involved.

Just a seventeen-year-old boy who didn’t remember snapping Zack’s leg like a twig and kicking him to the ground. Who couldn’t recall smashing that huge piece of drywall over Jason’s head, leaving him bleeding on the ground, or kicking Kim so hard in the chest that Alpha-5 had reported a disturbance in her heartbeat over their intercoms.

Said the word dead and made Trini’s heart stop, too.

Tommy who said, What happened? and looked up at Trini in her armor asking for answers she didn’t have when all she wanted to do was snap his neck right there.

And now he’s at this stupid party.

Grinding on Kimberly Hart, that hot girl he graduated with and later came to the same party as him.

“Then tell me what’s going on,” Kim urges. She rests her head on Trini’s shoulder, her hair tickling against Trini’s neck a little as she shifts.

“It’s…” For a fleeting moment, Trini thinks about spilling her guts, spewing ever little secret she’s ever kept from Kim—about being stuck here and this thing with her mom and missing her dad, her brothers; about how she still has nightmares about that day Tommy had almost won, when Rita had almost won; about how she knows they’re dancing around something here, but she’s not certain how to broach the topic—but she barely understands any of that herself, so she doesn’t.

She just says, “It’s nothing.”

Instead she says, “Just tired.”

Instead, she says what Kim wants to hear, “I just really hate Zack’s like... club music. It all sounds the same. This is why you should just be in charge all the time.”

It’s as close as she can get to saying what she wants platonically, but Kim doesn’t seem to mind.

Kim smiles and pulls herself upright so they can look at each other. “At least you can really say that Daft Punk is playing at your house.”

Trini laughs—this light sound that she doesn’t even recognize—and then it gets quiet.

Or, as quiet as it can get with the music and the voices seeping through the walls.

And then Kim says, “Do you ever feel selfish for wishing…I don’t know, that this hadn’t happened to us? That we were just normal teenagers?”

An image comes to mind of her grinding with Tommy again and Trini’s stomach churns.

She manages to say, “Sometimes.”

Kim nods and leans into her side a little. “Yeah. Me too.”

There’s nothing for her to say so she just nods and lets the silence take back over. Kim shivers and Trini briefly imagines putting an arm around her, but doesn't think it would end in any way that doesn't seem like a come-on. And besides, Kim is wearing her flannel right now. She doesn't owe her any more warmth than that.

“You okay?” she manages this a moment later and Kim looks at her, dark eyes shimmering just so in the light leaking out from the house.

And Kim shakes her head. She says, “I just hate that we’re stuck here, you know? Like…We can’t leave. Not ever. Not with that stupid crystal in the ground.”

This could be the time to tell someone. To bring up the coin that she’s been stuck with for four months now. Since Rita died.

Since she’d crushed Rita’s neck in her hands and left her lying there.

Now could be the time to talk about what happened. What it means. How it felt to think she was alone, that the others were dead and it was just going to be her and Rita after all.

That she’d really won and Trini had really lost and then she had one and she still has nightmares about it. Is still being punished for it maybe.

“Fucking Krispy Kreme,” Trini says instead, more for the act of saying something, but Kim doesn’t laugh.

Doesn’t even smile.

Says, “We’re not…We’re not as lucky as Tommy. I wish I could forget. I wish I could crush this stupid coin into pieces and get in my car and just…drive.”

Trini nods. She agrees of course. Wishes she could do the same. “Yeah.”

They’ve never spoken about this before. That’s the thing.

Two years of this weight on their backs, cracking them into the ground, and Trini doesn’t think any of them have ever come close to saying it aloud.

“You’re not alone though,” Trini tells her, and she’s telling herself too.

Thinking of the boys in the house that are more like brothers than friends.

More like family than her own mother felt towards the end there.

Kim rearranges herself for a second and Trini is watching her, watching Kim’s face. The faint light catches her and she looks…Trini doesn’t know what emotion that is, actually, but it makes her ache so deeply that she’s not even really sure what to do with her hands.

“No,” Kim says, her lips quirking up just the tiniest bit. “I’m not.”

Trini’s not sure what makes her say it, but something does. “Run away with me, then.”

A look of confused delight comes over Kim’s face, as if she can’t believe what she’s hearing. “What?”

Trini shrugs, looks away and down at the dark backyard spreading out in front of them--the worn out shed in the corner of the yard and the moon up above them, the stars flickering up there in the distance. “You and me. You’ve got a nice car. We can scrap mine for gas money.”

Kim laughs and leans into Trini’s shoulder. “Okay. Where are we going?”

“I hear Maine is nice.”

“I hear Maine is cold .”

It’s Trini’s turn to laugh. “How’s that song go? I’ve got your love to keep me warm ? Or something?”

Kim is nodding. Trini can see it in her peripheral vision. She hums the melody a little distantly, just over the sound of the music inside the house.

“What about our destiny?” she asks. “Gonna trust the boys to take care of it?”

“Yeah,” Trini says. “Why not? We can live somewhere nice on the water. Somewhere quiet. Get a cat or something.”

“Name him Beans,” Kim adds, nodding and smiling.

Trini smiles, too. “Obviously. It’ll be good. Better than.”

Kim bumps her. Says, “Sounds perfect.”

Silence again. Kim hums that song again.

“You’re not the first person to ask me to run away with them.”

It’s jealousy, maybe, that Trini is feeling, but she can’t be sure. Because she’s pretty sure Kim is kidding anyway--that there’s no reason to be jealous in the first place.

“Who else?” she asks, trying to sound like she doesn’t care, but she’s pretty sure she fails.

“Jason, actually,” is Kim’s answer and Trini nods like she already knew that. Tries not to think about it. “Before all of this, actually. Before we found the coins. Always wondered what might have happened if we’d actually done it.”

Trini wants to ask if Kim will wonder about this offer. Tonight. If she’ll sit at home in a week and wonder where they could be driving to now. All the things they could be seeing if they just up and left this town, if they piled up enough reasons to just give up and leave.

“But then I wouldn’t be sitting here with you,” Kim says, and it draws Trini’s eyes over to her again, the mood suddenly so serious comparatively.

As if this all of that shit they went through--all the bruises and blood and almost-dying, almost-losing--was worth it just so she could be sitting on this stupid back porch right now.

“I guess that’s true,” Trini breathes.

And maybe it’s the distant sounds of Stay playing inside the house and all those thoughts she’s had over the past years--all the times that her eyes have lingered just the tiniest bit too long on Kim’s fingers in classes they shared; those moments in the morning, when she woke up first, and Kim’s face was close ( so close) and she always pulled away; those times when they fought together, back-to-back and Kim was just a hairsbreadth away--that have her leaning in before she even realizes what she’s doing.

But it doesn’t matter anyway, because Kim is leaning in too.

Their eyes meet for a moment--just a moment--before it happens and she can see in Kim’s eyes what’s going to happen next.

Her eyes flicker closed and Kim kisses her.

Or, she kisses Kim.

Or--

Either way, they’re kissing.

And the world either slows down considerably, playing everything in slow motion, or it speeds up so quickly that it feels like it’s standing still. It doesn’t matter which it is--Trini is left horribly off balance under Kim’s lips.

She tilts her head a little and steadies herself by reaching out with her right hand, resting her palm and fingers on the fabric of her own shirt on Kim and Kim scoots forward against her lips, trying to get closer.

She’s kissing Kim. They’re kissing. And it’s--

It’s really, really, really --

Kim tilts her head now, too.

And, god...Her tongue is in Trini’s mouth. Trini moans a little. She can hear herself and normally she’d be embarrassed, but then Kim’s hand is resting on hers, on Kim’s hip, and she’s squeezing Trini’s fingers and they’re suddenly kissing harder. Sloppier.

Desperately.

Like they’re trying to make up for lost time.

Kim’s right hand finds Trini’s jaw, angling the kiss a little, and rests there, with her fingertips brushing her ear.

She thinks she’s been wanting to do this for forever and it’s so much better than she imagined. She could die like this, she thinks dramatically. She could die kissing Kimberly Hart--dragging her bottom lip with her teeth and tugging and feeling that gasp that’s exhaled into her mouth--and she’d be perfectly happy.

She’s thinking about this, about how much she’s wanted this, when there’s a voice behind them, someone opening the back door to the porch.

One or both of them pull away, disentangling themselves and Trini can feel the absence, the lack of Kim against her, suddenly and violently in her chest.

Which seems silly, but her power coin--the green one, she thinks, in her left pocket--is shaking a little. Feels hotter than normal.

She presses her fingertips into it through the fabric of her jeans just as Zack emerges from the house.

“Okay,” he says. “I’ve given you plenty of time to brood out here with your bestie, but if you don’t come in here and do some Jell-O shots, Shortcake, we’re gonna have some issues.”

Trini stands on shaky legs and grabs that rotting railing at her side to keep herself steady. “Sure,” she says, with no real reason to say no.

Kim stays on the steps, watching her and Trini doesn’t know where this leaves them—how this will change things and that’s why she hadn’t kissed her two years ago in that stupid bakery just a week after meeting her.

“Are you—?” she starts to say, but Zack is there and that makes things worse somehow. Makes her feel self-conscious about her bruised lips and the way she’s trembling a little, and not from the cold.

“Yeah,” Kim says, quietly, in a voice that’s not her own. “Give me a sec.”

Zack leads her inside.

Her mind is on Kim.

Obviously.

On Kim’s lips and tongue and her warm palm on the back of Trini’s hand.

She does a Jell-O shot with Jason--one that’s not completely solidified--and Jason gags and then finds an empty Jell-O mix box in the trash and reads the instructions to Zack, who just shrugs and defends himself in words Trini can’t focus on.

Her eyes move around the party for what feels like forever, but she never sees Kim slip back inside. Not until the chorus of Kissing Strangers when she thinks she sees her in the corner talking to Jason and then slipping out the front door.

She longs--aches, really--to go after her, but then Zack is dragging her back to the table he set up for beer pong to watch him go up against Billy and--

When it’s over, when it’s 2AM, she slips upstairs and lays on her bed.

Contemplates texting Kim to see if she’s okay or ask her what that meant. She even types out a few possibilities and then deletes them just as quickly.

But Kim must have the message open too, because those little dots appear on her side of the conversation and Trini curses, backs out of the message just in time for Kim to send it.

All it says is, Actually did end up stealing your shirt! Sorry!

And she must have really thought that out, too. Kim never capitalizes like that. She’s never so serious.

Trini leaves it unread.

..

Chapter Text

..

 

It must be destiny or something, but everything with Trini lately has been, hasn’t it?

A fucking armed robbery in the middle of her shift.

Like the planets aligning or something.

Of course.

She’s been at work for two hours when it happens, when the alarms blare over the loudspeakers in the hallways of the mall and Carly is in the corner of the store explaining matcha to someone.

Their manager, Evan, flips his long hair dramatically as he goes to close the gate and he says, “Everyone in the back!” which means their dingy stockroom that two awkward, wrong-place-wrong-time customers are going to have to huddle in with them.

It’s probably one of the more terrifying moments she’s existed inside and she can imagine that normal-Trini--that lucky version of her that exists in some parallel universe with no superpowers--would be really scared right now.

This Trini, though, isn't.

And she’s in a tea store. That’s where she works.

The most boring, non-dangerous place on earth but now someone is robbing the jewelry store down the hall—which is all the proof you need that they’re shit at decision making—and Trini is a bundle of energy.

Nervous. Angry. Pathetic.

Two days after that stupid kiss and that stupid party and Kim being aloof and normal and not even discussing it—this stupid pile of extra-awkward on her already super weird and depressing summer. She needs to hit something, needs her knuckles to ache and her hands to stop shaking.

She rolls under the gate when everyone is distracted.

And she’s morphing before she gets to her feet.

.

Honestly, it takes her like five seconds.

Once she finds the guy(s) that is.

There’s only two of them, which is nothing compared to a giant molten monster stomping across her city and a super-charged Power Ranger with some serious bloodlust being mind-controlled by a pissed-off alien.

They’re holding up the store and she aches at the sight of a few potential customers hunkered down on the floor. They’re also wearing ski masks which is super crazy for a lot of reasons, but especially nuts given how hot it is outside. One of them is holding a gun to no one in particular--just kinda pointing it up in the air to prove he has one. The other one is forcing an employee to open up as many cabinets as possible so he can slide everything into this ugly, black bag he brought with him.

Her skin feels hot under her armor and they don’t see her at first, but then they do.

Then they look absolutely terrified and Trini really wishes she could smile under her mask in a way that they could see.

“Oh, shit,” the guy with the gun says. “Is that--?”

And Trini says, “Yes, it is,” in this voice that doesn’t sound like her because the drama of the moment is too much to ignore.

It’s almost too easy to take them out. They go down practically without a fight.

But she imagines, as she’s sweeping one of their legs out from under his body, breaking them into a hundred tiny pieces. Snapping his arm and smashing in his head and leaving him there and when she’s done--when it’s over--her hands are still shaking.

Something is burning tightly in her stomach and she doesn’t want to look down at her coin, where it’s lodged in her armor. Too scared to see if it’s green.

And she actually hadn’t even known her armor was bulletproof, but, like.

Score.

.

“What the hell were you thinking?” Jason roars when he finds her in the parking lot of the mall after they’ve all been evacuated.

Her skin is still buzzing faintly, her armor aching to come back out, but she’s surrounded by terrified shoppers and retail workers and that would probably end up being an even bigger recipe for disaster.

“It’s all over the news!” Billy sounds excited, not disappointed, or terrified like Jason and Zack looks proud just behind him, his arms crossed over his chest as he smirks.

“They had guns, Jason,” she says and shakes his grip off of her upper arms. “I wasn’t going to just let them get away with it.”

And, no, she wasn’t.

But all that excess energy had needed somewhere to be funneled, too and sometimes you need a real adversary.

Someone other than your teammates or mud monsters a prehistoric robot raises for you to get your ass kicked by.

“They tried to rob a store in a mall , Trin,” Jason says. “I’m pretty sure they weren’t going to get away with it no matter what.”

And, he has a point but Trini doesn’t hear it.

She’s too focused on Kim, finally joining them--jogging up from where she must have parked the car--and looking distantly relieved as she leans against Billy’s arm. Like she maybe had wanted to hug Trini or something but decided not to before she could.

She’s biting her lip—the same one that Trini had just two days ago—and then flicking her tongue out against it and Trini watches the movement. Watches Kim watching her watch it.

Which is confusing.

“You have to be more careful,” Jason is saying when she finally tunes back in.

Trini flips him off.

.

Police: CA officers aided in arrest of armed robbers by masked vigilante

Updated 1 hr 45 mins ago

Police officers responding to an armed robbery in Alameda County arrived

at the scene to find suspects already taken into custody by one of the masked

vigilantes spotted in Angel Grove just five months ago. According to the Pleasanton…

.

“Are you kidding me?”

“Here we go.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

“Dude, you need to calm the hell down.”

“Zordon is going to lose his shit.”

Trini smirks and takes a picture of Jason’s face, watching the news scroll another feature about the robbery at the Stoneridge Mall the day before. She sends it out in their group text with the caption, freaking out about wall-dad.

“What if someone saw you morph Trini? What if someone—”

He’s cut off by Trini’s phone vibrating angrily in her hand, signaling an incoming call. She looks down at it, expecting to see Zack’s picture, or Billy’s—probably not Kim’s—but is met by her dad’s picture instead.

“Pause the rant for a second, okay?” Trini says, and she takes the call in the kitchen.

.

It’s not a long phone call.

Maybe thirty seconds. Long enough for her dad to say, “I heard it on the news, honey. Were you safe?”

And, “Your mother was so worried.”

Apparently not worried enough to call herself.

He puts Diego and Alex on the phone and they yell for a minute and a half about how cool the Yellow Power Ranger is and she smiles so wide she has to try to clamp it down by biting her lip.

Jason reaches over and puts a hand on her arm and she lets him rest it there.

“You need to call more,” her dad says when he gets back on. Then, “I love you, Trini.”

There’s this ache in her chest, this burning from the green coin, because it feels a lot like she moved two states over rather than two streets.

She ends the call with, “You, too,” and she probably means it in response to both of those things.

.

Kim brings her flannel back when she finally returns to work.

When she comes home, she finds it sitting on her bed and it’s ninety degrees, but she puts it on and tugs the sleeves down over her wrists, curls them into her palms.

It feels different, somehow. As if being worn by Kim has changed its molecular structure. It smells like their flowery detergent, those dryer sheets that are supposed to smell like clean linens that Kim’s mom always uses.

She sits down on her bed and curls up into it. Turns the fan in the corner on 4 and tries not to think about how good it had felt to punch that stupid white boy in the face, snap back his wrist so he dropped the gun and knock one of the other guy’s legs from under his body. To knock them out and wait for the police to arrive to take them away and then slip back into the recesses of the mall—the hidden back hallways so she could drop the armor and get out before anyone saw her.

It’s hard, but not as hard as it is to think about Kim.

To think about how she should just clear the air and reset everything back to normal.

So she can have her brain back. Because Kim clearly regrets it.

Regrets kissing Trini in the dark, regrets all of it maybe and it had been a relief when her armor slid up at all because there are a lot of things unsaid right now and that affects her abilities.

All of their abilities, actually.

But, as it is, she can hardly go two minutes without thinking about the way Kim had felt against her. How warm she was despite the evening chill.

It’s not solving anything.

.

She dreams that something is burning. That someone is screaming. She dreams that it’s her.

And then Rita is there, Rita bearing down. Rita in her bedroom, pressing her into the wall until Trini can feel the plaster and boards snap beneath her shoulderblades.

I’ve already won, Rita is saying but it sounds like it’s coming from Trini instead. Sounds like her voice.

She wakes up.

.

K-Money: hey, i’m glad you’re okay.

.

She’s still on edge and shaky when she reads it, her mouth feeling impossibly dry and her nerves so on end that the fabric of the flannel aches against her arms.

She reads it again. Thinks about Kim lying in her bedroom typing that out. She imagines Kim staring at the little Read 6:57 PM that must be there under it.

And then she types back, That makes two of us and gets the thumbs up emoji in return.

She tosses her phone in the drawer by her nightstand and leaves it there the rest of the night. Presses her power coin into her leg through the fabric of her pants until it hurts a little.

Until she knows it’ll bruise.

.

“You’re being crazy right now,” Zack says, a simple reminder of his presence on the edge of the cliff.

Trini is either sweaty or still damp from the climb up from the pit, but it’s been hours in the hot summer sun and Zack is probably going to be super sunburnt but he insists on sitting with her when she’s brooding these days.

And then berating her for brooding.

She nods. Thinks of Kim skipping training for the second time in a week with some flimsy excuse she’d only deemed Jason worthy of receiving.

Thinks of Kim sitting in her room, disgusted with herself or something.

The coin vibrates in her pocket. She tries not to think about her yellow one in her right pocket, tries not to recognize that it’s the green one these days--always the green one--that reacts like this.

That’s so in tune with her emotions, it seems.

“I know,” she says.

.

When the front door opens that night, Trini is fairly certain she’s going to die. It’s not even 3 AM yet and she must have fallen asleep on the couch--to afraid of prior experience in bedrooms to sleep there tonight--and she knows Jason is asleep upstairs.

But then the door creaks open.

She’s like five seconds from morphing and kicking some ass when she sees Kim, looking bedraggled and tired, come sliding into the living room.

“Hey, it’s me,” she says, like that will quell the pounding of Trini’s heart.

Newsflash: it makes it worse.

Trini relaxes though. Visibly. So that Kim knows she’s relaxing.

That she’s super chill right now.

No big deal.

“What are you doing here?” she asks, and she’s tired too. Her hair is probably a mess but she resists the urge to try and fix it, worried that Kim might take it as a sign of weakness or something equally ridiculous.

“I, uh,” Kim starts, and then swallows after those noises. Shoves her hands into the pocket of her hoodie and looks away. “I wanted to talk to you. I feel like we haven’t talked in forever.”

It’s actually been a week.

A busy week.

Trini stopped a crime, after all, and talked to 3/4ths of her family, to boot.

Actually, it’s just been a busy summer. A busy two years.

God, a lot has happened.

Trini says, “Yeah,” but doesn’t bring up the whole Kim-avoiding-her thing.

And then they just stand there, neither of them looking at each other, until Kim says, “Okay, seriously,” and Trini looks up.

Kim looks serious, tired. She shakes her head. “This is really stupid,” she says. “I’m sorry about the party. I’m sorry it upset you. I…I don’t want this to suddenly become some super awkward thing, okay? And it...It already has and I...I was so worried about you, Trini. When I thought--” She swallows and shakes her head, looks away. “I’m just so glad you’re okay.”

And everything inside of Trini drops just the tiniest bit.

“I don’t...We have some stuff we need to talk about, I think. But...You’re my best friend, Trini and I want to be able to talk to you again.”

On the TV screen, Blanche is laughing at something Dorothy has just said and Trini’s hands are shaking.

She swallows around the lump in her throat.

Thinks, Don’t ruin this, asshole. You’re stuck together for the rest of your lives.

“Yeah, definitely...Like, for sure,” she says and Kim smiles.

Not fully. Unfiltered. But she smiles, all the same.

And then she’s crossing the room and pulling Trini into her arms.

Thankfully, Trini’s body reacts on autopilot and she does what she always used to when Kim hugged her--hugs her back tightly.

Kim feels right in her arms. A little tall, but that’s not news. She smells like the flannel that’s now hung up in Trini’s closet and this is how it’s supposed to be.

Where they were trying to keep things before the kiss.

“So,” Kim says when they’re sitting on the couch together, “what’s changed about you in the past week that I missed?”

And it’s not normal, by any means. They’re sitting on opposite ends, for one, and Kim usually invades Trini’s space in every aspect of their relationship. Normally, she’d practically be sprawled across Trini.

There’s also the way that Kim carefully avoids the subject of why she missed it. Why they weren’t talking, really.

She says it in a teasing way, but there’s something else underneath it that Trini can hear. Some part of Kim, maybe, that’s worried that she’s changed so much or will change and they won’t necessarily be strictly good or bad. They’ll just be changes she won’t be able to keep up with.

Trini looks at her, this beautiful girl who is curled up on her side of the couch with her knees tucked under her chin, her hair messy and moving in the breeze coming in through the window. This beautiful girl that Trini hasn’t seen in, like, a week which is the longest she’s gone without seeing her in two years other than that time she’d rather forget.

The time with Tommy when Trini had bailed because she couldn’t--

And she hadn’t talked to any of them in a while, not even in school, which was impossible, really, but she managed and--

Kim is staring at her expectantly. Trini looks away and bites her lip. Tries to think of something.

She wants to ask about Tommy. About why everyone is so happy to forgive and forget when it comes to him. Wants to say that she understands, a bit, that he hadn’t been in control, but that it doesn’t change anything when you’re standing there, on your own, certain you’re going to die and certain that your team--your family --is already dying or dead behind you.

She swallows thickly and Kim looks panicked, leans forward a bit.

But Trini says, “Well, I don’t know if you heard, but the Yellow Power Ranger--the hot one--stopped an armed robbery the other day.”

And then Kim laughs, that closed mouth laugh of hers that means that she thinks Trini’s being ridiculous, but she can’t help it anyway.

“So you’re telling me that the Yellow Ranger--the hot one--”

Trini blushes just the slightest bit at this, even though it’s just a repetition of what she just said.

“--is so starved for a good fight that she’s now practically picking them?”

“Yes,” Trini says. “That does seem to be what’s happening.”

It’s a joke, but part of it feels right--like it’s more truthful than she’d planned on being today and it makes her feel a little sore from it.

But then Kim reaches out across the distance between them and takes Trini’s hand. Her skin is warm and welcoming and Trini realizes that she’s spent these past few days missing Kim so much that she’s exhausted herself from it.

She pushes her fingers between Kim’s and she smiles. Kim smiles back.

“I missed you,” she thinks she hears Kim say, but it’s quiet, even as Kim squeezes her fingers in time with the words.

They fall asleep there and in the morning, it’s like nothing has changed. Kim makes enough coffee for all of them--Jason, too--and Jason actually shares some of his toaster strudels for once.

It’s a gorgeous morning and Trini lets herself feel it, ignores the power coin snuggled down in the tiny pocket of her shorts.

Lets Kim steal a bite of her breakfast and wipes some of the excess strawberry jam spilling down her chin away for her.

.

L’il Bill: Hey, Trini, it’s Billy.

L’il Bill: Just checking in. I know you’re probably at work.

L’il Bill: I’m glad you didn’t die, by the way. Dying isn’t fun.

L’il Bill: Have you been doing any better since the last time we talked? I know that things are

 really rough for you right now, but I’d be happy to listen and offer advice whenever.

L’il Bill: As an unrelated side note, I wanted to ask about you and Kimberly kissing at the

 party last week. I know it’s not strictly my business, but I’d be happy to talk about

 that too, if you want. :) I wasn’t sure if you guys are dating, so I waited to bring it up.

L’il Bill: Anyway, have fun at work. I’ll talk to you later, okay? :)

.

Oh, fuck.

Trini’s heart jumps up into her throat as she collects her phone from her locker at the end of her shift.

“You okay?” Carly says somewhere behind her, but Trini doesn’t answer.

She just books it out of the store and to her car.

.

“Hello?”

Billy answers on the third ring. It sounds quiet wherever he is, which probably means he’s alone, so Trini feels comfortable saying, “What all did you see?”

“Huh?” Billy asks, and then says, “Oh.” He’s silent for a long moment and then he says, “At the party, right? Well, not a lot. I just...Zack wanted me to go out and talk to you because he said you were moping and I went to go outside and saw through the window that Kim already went out. And then I happened to see that the two of you were kissing. It’s okay.”

Trini is silent. She’s pretty sure she’s having a heart attack and she doesn’t really want to go into the details on why this is bothering her so much.

“You’re not angry, are you?” Billy asks and he sounds so nervous about it that she wants to have this conversation in person. Because she’s not mad, just having a panic attack or something. “I’m sorry if you are. I know it was an invasion of your privacy, even if I didn’t mean, too. Like when my mom goes through my bedroom on laundry day and--”

“Billy, hey,” Trini cuts in, “I’d love to hear about that sometime, but can we get back on track, please?”

She can practically hear him nodding. “Sure. So, are you and Kimberly in love?”

Wrong track.

Completely fucking wrong track.

It’s hot in Trini’s car, stiflingly so. She rolls the windows down and blasts the air and pushes her hair out of her face. “What?”

It’s like she can’t breathe in here.

“I’m not…No, Billy, you’ve got—”

What? He’s got it all wrong?

She never even finishes the sentence.

“Oh. Sorry. I just assumed.” He clicks his tongue a couple of times and she can hear him swiveling in that chair he has down in the basement.

Trini swallows, but can’t get anything out. Not a single word.

“It just looked like you enjoyed it a lot. I’ve never seen anyone kiss like that in real life. It looked really dramatic, like maybe there should have been better music than Zack’s playing during it? Or it should have been raining?” He pauses. “I didn’t watch for long. I swear.”

Trini closes her eyes against the hot, California sun and presses her forehead into her scalding steering wheel—feeling the burn of it against her skin. “Thanks,” she says, means it a little, but can’t think. “Look...Kim and I haven’t really talked about what it means, yet, okay? It could mean nothing. Like...Like a friendly kiss. Between friends.”

Even she doesn’t fully believe that.

“Only the protagonist and the romantic interest ever kiss in the rain, though, Trini.”

“We didn’t kiss in the rain!” she hisses, feeling the heat creeping up her neck. “We’re…not talking about this anymore, okay?”

“Zack always says that your voice only gets shrill like that when you’re nervous. Are you nervous?”

He’s approaching it like some kind of private detective and honestly Trini is pretty sure she’s going to combust any moment now.

“And, we’re done,” she says. And she hangs up.

.

When she gets home, she tries to stomp her way up to her bedroom and ends up accidentally putting her foot through one of the steps.

Jason is probably going to kill her for that, but she just tugs her foot out of her sneaker—which stays in the hole—and wobbles up the remainder of the stairs in one shoe before slamming her door (gently) and flopping down (also gently) on her bed.

She presses her face into the mattress until she can’t breathe and briefly considers letting herself pass out. Her power coin will probably heal purposeful asphyxiation anyway.

But then she rolls over onto her back at the last second and tugs out her phone, fully intending to delete the messages.

She ends up staring at the message for a long time.

I wasn’t sure if you guys are dating.

And then deletes it anyway.

Chucks both coins at the wall before either of them can burn her.

She’s fine.

.

Jason Scott @GrreatScott – 30m

Looking for Cinderella? I think I found her shoe. #ManiacRoommate #SaveMe

Zack Attack Taylor @Zackipedia – 29m

@GrreatScott knew ur eyes were 2 blue 2 not be a disney prince  

 

Jason Scott @GrreatScott – 10m

@Zackipedia Thank you :D

.

It takes three hours of her time and $120 she doesn’t have to replace the boards she broke on the stairs.

Jason helps her.

And by “help”, she means looks up, like, ten youtube videos on how to replace it and pulls up the WikiHow article on his phone.

None of that works.

She improvises.

“There,” she says when it’s done and fixed.

Jason looks proud for a moment, like maybe he’s going to hug or something, but then he just says, “Let’s not do that again,” and pats her on the head as he heads up the stairs.

.

The nightmare comes again that night.

One of them, anyway. Kim lying on the ground, not breathing, and Trini can’t get to her fast enough because she can’t run. Like she’s stuck in quicksand or something.

And then she does get there and she pulls Kim’s mask up and it’s—

It’s Rita instead. Rita who laughs and wraps her hand around Trini’s throat until she knows nothing but the cool touch of gold to her skin.

.

She doesn’t morph for training the next day.

Refuses to, even as the others argue—as Jason tells her how unsafe it is and Alpha-5 lists of various injuries that it could lead to.

She doesn’t care. That’s the thing. She needs to feel the pain of it when that first putty smashes its rocky fist into her shoulder. Needs the bite of the dirt against the side of her face when she’s knocked to the ground.

Mostly, she needs to smash them. All of them.

Needs to break them apart and forget Rita in her head and the fucking coin she hasn’t told anyone about yet.

It takes five minutes. She takes down ten of them and the others are silent when she’s done. Just standing there with a split lip and a possibly dislocated shoulder, panting and trying to catch her breath.

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” she mutters when someone tries to touch her shoulder, tries to pull her out of it.

“Trini--”

She thinks it’s Kim but she can’t be sure.

And then she remembers--can practically see--her lying on the ground. She can feel Kim’s neck beneath her hand--like that vision she had two years ago, when all of this started--and she leaves before she finds out.

.

Trini Ortiz-Kwan @whatsfortrinner – 1h

Note to self: don’t eat anything citrus-y with a busted lip

Jason Scott @GrreatScott – 20m

@whatsfortrinner you got more oranges then? did you happen to get milk too?  

 

Trini Ortiz-Kwan @whatsfortrinner – 10m

@GrreatScott No, I’m eating raw lemons. This is why texting exists, asshole

.

She needs to get out of the house that night, so she goes to Billy’s because Zack is too far and too aloof and she’d rather not walk all that way and end up alone anyway.

And Jason is snoring in his room, preparing for another long day with his dad, or Trini would wake him up and talk to him about this.

And Kim—

Well, Kim isn’t really an option right now anyway. Not with her fingers shaking from the dreams, the memories, everything feeling so real.

Billy is up when she gets there.

She can tell from the dim basement light flickering just past the shrubs, half-sunk into the ground. There’s this moment of hesitation right before she knocks where she’s almost certain that she’ll be bothering him—imagines all these scenarios where she won’t be wanted, just like she always does, even after two years being stuck with these kids.

Of course, that’s ridiculous.

None of them have ever turned her away and Billy loves the company.

Loves having someone to hold a pair of plyers while he does something ridiculously beyond what she’s capable of understanding.

Loves having someone to talk about his dad and his mom with.

Opens the window not two seconds after she knocks.

“Hey, Trini!” he says excitedly.

It’s midnight, but he doesn’t question her presence. He just lets her right in.

.

He’s working on something big.

That’s what he tells her when she sits on the dingy couch in the corner of the room. But he won’t say what. Or maybe he had and she just hadn’t understood what those words meant in that particular order.

This pang of longing settles deep inside of her chest as she imagines the kind of man William Cranston could become if he could only move outside of this stupid town.

“Are you mad at me?” Billy asks eventually.

She’s not sure how much later it is, how long she’s been sitting there, but it must have been a while because Billy looks a little more tired than usual.

“No, Billy. I’ve never been mad you,” she says and it’s true. She doesn’t have anything more to give than that.

“Is it about Kimberly?” he asks next, and it helps a little that he’s not looking at her.

Instinctually, she wants to say no. That it’s not.

But that would be a lie. It is, of course. But not just Kim.

This stupid mess of a situation with Kim is just the icing on top of a very large cake of crap that is her personal life.

“I don’t understand why you won’t date her.”

This is such an unexpected statement that Trini doesn’t pick up on its being said for maybe a full minute or two.

And then, of course, she does and she nearly chokes despite not having just had a drink of anything. “What?”

“It makes no sense,” Billy says, and he seems frustrated by it. “You’re friends. You said so.” He looks up and Trini just nods dumbly. “You’re both very pretty and you’re good friends.” He flails his hands a little as if that gesture is meant to convey how confusing the whole thing is. “And now there’s kissing involved. I don’t get it.”

“Billy, no—” Trini stops, flustered, and sits up on the couch so that she’s leaning her elbows heavily on her knees. “Wait.” She pauses in thought for a second. “You think I’m pretty?”

“I think you’re terrified of the possibility of anyone providing you happiness,” Billy says, wrinkling his nose, and he’s focused on whatever he’s making—some big black disc-shaped thing that looks really complicated. “But, yes. You’re pretty, too.”

“Are you hitting on me, L’il Bill?” Trini squints at him, trying to get the heat off of herself and back on somebody else. “Because I’m gay.”

Billy looks up, his lips twisted down into a scowl—which is certainly the first time she’s ever seen this expression on him. “Trini, be serious for a second.”

This is what stage fright must feel like, Trini decides, because she’s felt it before.

Second grade during the production of Little Red Riding Hood when she’d played the Granny and had nearly barfed on the stage when she’d forgotten her first line.

Her hands are trembling and she looks up at Billy expecting some kind of reprieve and gets none.

Just Billy staring back, completely serious.

“Honestly, Billy,” she starts, grudgingly. “I guess there’s always been…I don’t know, I thought something unspoken between me and Kim. But…we’ve always been... careful .”

“Careful about what?”

He looks confused again and Trini looks away.

“To not--” She swallows and looks away. “To not, like...We never talked about it,” she decides finally. “We never acted on it. Not really. I mean...we’re friendly, I guess, but...We never did anything about it.”

“Why?”

She’s not expecting that, but Billy looks cautious. Careful and curious.

She shuffles her feet against the floor. “Because we’re stuck together, Bill,” she tells him. “You and me and Kim and Jason and Zack. All of us. We’re...stuck in this town, stuck being superheros. And...what if it doesn’t work out? It would complicate all of this. Everything we have. Our... destiny.

She spits the last word out like it’s the most disgusting thing she’s ever had to say.

Billy is quiet and she’s not looking when he gets up, crosses the room, and takes a seat beside her, but she appreciates the weight of his arm around her shoulders, drawing her in.

Zack and Jason do this all the time, thoughtlessly, but it always means a lot more when it comes from Billy.

Billy who doesn’t dole out affection freely.

“And now everything is so weird,” Trini says really quietly. “Like…I lost my mom…my dad…my brothers, too, and now I’m scared I’m losing Kim. My nightmares are getting worse, and usually she’s just a phone call away at night when I can’t sleep, but--” She swallows. Shakes her head. “And all I want to do is just tell my best friend about all of this except—”

“Kimberly is your best friend,” Billy finishes for her.

Trini nods quietly. She’s dangerously close to crying and that’s not something she wants to deal with right now.

Something about Billy makes her want to bare her darkest of secrets and she’s left raw from it, pained and saddened by each new admission.

“Well,” Billy says, “you can always talk to me about it.”

Trini laughs. Not at him or the offer, but because it’s probably one of the sweetest things she’s ever heard.

“And you should talk to Kimberly, too. She loves you, Trini. In whatever way that means between the two of you.”

She is crying now. Can’t help it. Leans further into Billy’s half-embrace.

“Can I hug you?” she asks and Billy is smiling when she looks at him.

“Yeah,” he says and he hugs her back.

.

L’il Bill: Can you let me know that you got back to your house

        safely please?

You: I’m home.

You: Thank you, by the way. I don’t know what I would do without

        you. I don’t say that enough.

L’il Bill: :) You say it plenty.

.

She doesn’t know what to say to that, so she sends him one of his own patented smiley faces in lieu of an answer.

.

When the nightmare comes back a couple days later, she fights herself for an hour and ends up calling Kim anyway.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Kim asks, when she’s lying in Trini’s hot bedroom twenty minutes after hanging up with a firm, Be there soon .

Trini’s hands shake and Kim takes them into her own under the blankets, breathes across the distance between where they’re heads are resting. “I don’t know,” she says, because she doesn’t want to go into the whole ‘burden of truth’ thing.

Kim reaches out and brushes some of Trini’s hair away from her face. Says something like, “You can tell me these things, you know.”

And Trini nods. She does know and she briefly considers talking about the other coin, about the Tommy and forgiveness thing, but Kim’s mere presence has made her tired, almost drugged with safety and warmth.

As always, the nightmares stay away the moment Kimberly Hart is in her bed.

.

The days pass by slowly, dragging on in the summer heat.

Jason buys five box fans from Wal-Mart one afternoon and they put them in all of the major rooms, creating this long path of blowing air.

It’s deafening the first day and comforting the next.

Anyway, Trini is grateful for the movement, at least.

She fixes the sink in the kitchen and replaces the tiles in the bathroom with something she lets Kim pick out.

Billy finishes what he’d been working on. Some sort of teleportation that Alpha-5 assisted him with, linked up to these weird, metal bracelets that respond to signals in the box he’d been building that night in his basement and set up in the ship. A press of a button and none of them have to get soaked to the bone just to get down to the ship.

“Couldn’t have made this two years ago, Bill?” Zack jokes and Billy starts to explain what all went into it--that rebuilding foreign technology that’s trillions of years old isn’t easy , but gets the joke just in time to save himself the air.

Time passes and Trini thinks she could very nearly forget, if her heart didn’t pound like that whenever Kim comes into the same room as her. If Kim didn’t answer on the second ring every other night now and then appear at Trini’s window a little while later, slipping into her bed to hold her so she can sleep. If she couldn’t feel herself falling so suddenly, so fiercely, that it must have started years ago.

It’s like she can feel the earth moving under her feet, slipping away.

She could very nearly forget if she didn’t see the same thing in Kim’s eyes, feel it in the way their hands brush together when they’re walking or how warm she is against Trini’s back most nights, in the way they’re drifting back into each other like they always do.

But things are never easy for long and she’d forgotten.

It’s late June and she has maybe three more days before everything falls apart.

..

Chapter Text

..

 

“What’s going on with you?”

Trini is sitting in the food court swirling a pretzel in her cheese dip and she doesn’t even look up when Jason says it because she doesn’t have to. She knows what face he’s making, how his lips are probably drawn. She knows that he’s still got those bags under his eyes from his three day stint the other day and probably from all that time spent with his dad, too.

“Oh, cool. I’m being ignored,” he says, and she can hear the irritation in his voice. “Love it.”

Finally, she looks up and takes a bite of her pretzel just so she can have a moment to think of an answer.

“I’m not ignoring you,” she says around her food and Jason grimaces. “I’m just—” She swallows. “I’m fine.”

“Are you?” Jason asks and she can see why he’d think that.

She wonders if he can feel it—that something is off—because she can feel it sometimes when he’s lying awake down the hall from her, playing over the day and heavy with guilt or disappointment because of something his dad said.

She can feel it when Zack is worrying over his mother—can practically see him pacing outside his trailer and shooting furtive looks at the windows of his mom’s room.

And she can feel Billy too, the rush of excitement during training when he lands a good hit, or sees one of them pull of something impressive while he’s watching from the sidelines.

It’s possible that he can feel whatever this hurricane is inside of her—the storm that hits every time she thinks of her brothers, of her father, and especially her mother. The quiet eye of the storm when Kim says her name or looks at her with some veiled emotion that Trini doesn’t have the patience to decipher.

It’s even more possible that he can feel what Kim is feeling because sometimes she’s certain she can. Sometimes she’s certain that she can’t always feel it because it feels the same as her own mess of emotions.

But she just says, “Yeah, dude. Like, I’m good.”

And gives him this really half-hearted thumbs up.

Jason sighs heavily and flops backwards in his chair, squeaking it across the linoleum floor. “How much time do you have left on your break?”

She checks her phone and sees three messages from Zack. “Ten minutes.”

She swipes them away. Zack can wait.

Jason leans forward on the table and says, “Okay. So enough time for this,” he starts and Trini resists the urge to roll her eyes because she can feel one of his patented hope-speeches coming. “I know you’re going through a lot of stuff, okay?” he starts and Trini looks away.

Can’t meet his eyes as he says this.

“I…I only understand some of it. I’ll be the first to admit it. But, Trini…You’re not alone. You’ve got me and Billy and Zack and Kimberly.”

She’s glad she’s looking away for that last name. Feels that heavy emptiness in her chest at the thought of the other girl.

“I know that we’ve all been really distant lately cause we’re dealing with all sorts of stuff…” He sounds dangerously close to tears and part of her wonders if it’s the sleep deprivation or the subject matter. “Just talk to me if you need too, okay? I’m here. I mean…Like I’m not physically here all the time because—”

She finally looks up and it’s to see Jason tripping over his words, looking embarrassed. “Your piracy gets in the way of quality time, Scott. I get it,” she finishes for him and he cracks this sideways smile that takes back a bit of that heavy emptiness.

“Right.” His hand covers hers on the table and she lets it.

And she almost tells him right there about all this stuff with Kim. About the Tommy thing and about how she can feel Rita on the edge of her dreams each night, at the corner of her mind most mornings—because she can’t forget the feeling of Rita’s neck in her hand.

Of breaking Tommy the way she had and watching him fall to his knees as his armor dropped away for good.

Feeling the others—all four of them—fading in and out behind her.

How she’d almost lost this—Jason Scott sitting across the table from her, making dinner with her some nights and lounging on the couch, paying half the internet bill and coordinating schedules so they can go to the laundromat together.

And this thing with Kim. Her mother . All this stuff with her family.

Almost tells him that she’s pretty sure her whole life is crushing in on itself.

But Jason has this Fix-It Felix attitude about his teammates and he’ll offer a thousand solutions and then insist on watching all of them play out until one of them sticks.

He walks her back to her store and gives this sheepish wave to Carly that she returns.

“See you at home?” he says, a question she’ll always have an answer for.

No thinking involved.

“Well, yeah. I live there.”

His lips are warm on her forehead and she watches him round the corner before she goes inside.

.

Assface: we’re going out tonight booster seat. all of us. no excuses.

Assface: tired of ur moping

Assface: bring ur dancing shoes

You: Why don’t you just kill me instead?

.

Apparently, he texted the others too because everyone is already at the house when she pulls up in the driveway.

Kim’s Honda is parked on the street and Jason’s truck is actually up by the garage for once and she can see Zack through the window laughing with his whole body.

She almost doesn’t go in, too afraid of what it is that Zack has planned and the last time her and Kim had gotten caught in one of his party schemes.

“Crazy Girl!” Zack yells when she steps inside the house and kicks off her shoes.

His arms are around her in a moment, and he lifts her in the air and spins her around.

“Put me down,” she says and whacks him in the shoulder until he does.

“It’s been a while,” he says and finally sets her down. “I missed you hitting me.”

Trini lets him keep his arm around her because she missed him too, though she’d never admit that to his face. She wiggles her socks into the carpet by the door and looks at the worn floorboards just past it instead of at Kim, who is sitting on the couch in the living room and probably trying to catch her eye.

“Where are we going?” Billy asks, sliding into the room and shooting Trini a wave that she just barely sees without looking up.

“Oh, about that,” Zack starts and he sounds conniving. So conniving that Trini looks up finally to watch him pull away and head over to Billy, clapping him on the back. “Me and Billy cooked up a little something in preparation for tonight.”

Jason is half-asleep on the couch with his head in Kim’s lap and he looks up at this and groans. “Oh, God. What?”

And Trini just happens to meet Kim’s eyes the moment Zack pulls out five fake I.D.s.

.

Zack ‘Attack’ Taylor with Jason Scott and 2 others at The Street Club and

Bar.

26 mins – Pleasonton, CA –

the dancing queen was only 17 so I think we have a leg up on her already #ifyouknowwhatimean #youngandsweet #exceptTrini #shesadick

.

Zack is pressed into Trini’s side at the table. She’s crushed him between and Jason and she digs her elbows into their sides, trying to get more room.

“I’m just saying, you could have a little more faith in me. And hell, if not me, then our boy Bill, because—”

The fake I.D.’s worked just fine. The bouncer had hardly even spared them a second glance and Trini had chalked that up to the fact that Billy Cranston is smart enough to give all of them realistic, sounding names.

Unlike TV shows and movies usually do when it comes to fake I.D.’s.

The club is loud—some song that’s ninety percent bass thudding through Trini’s body and making her feel like she maybe has really bad tremors—and Zack is probably about twenty seconds and one more shot away from dragging her out on the dance floor.

Jason shoots her a sympathetic look and sips at his beer like he doesn’t quite like the taste.

She can’t blame him. Bud Light tastes like ass.

On the other side of the booth, Kim is talking to Billy who keeps shooting these sympathetic looks at Trini that she’s not sure how to handle.

Jason rolls his eyes and Zack just grins at him.

She’d been hoping to just go home after a long day, after another unnecessary heart-to-heart with one of her teammates that left her feeling raw and vaguely disappointed in herself for deeming it necessary. Visions of her bed, hot and stuffy though the house may be, shoot through her head and make it pound with longing.

Mostly, she’s just hoping she’ll be able to go home soon.

.

What she really, really hates about this club—and it’s her first clubbing experience, don’t get her wrong—is that it’s oddly exactly like all those school dances her mother had forced her to attend.

Everyone is sloppy on the dance floor and you can’t really hear yourself think but none of that matters anyway because you’re probably not supposed to be thinking at all. You’re supposed to be grinding with the first guy who buys you a drink.

Fortunately, it also mirrors prom in that Trini isn’t alone. Billy sits at the booth with her and neither of them feel like dancing. She’s lucky it’s Billy, too, because otherwise some no-good guy might come up simpering for her number.

Jason would probably do something embarrassing that she would never live down if that happened while she was caught with him.

Like pretend to be her boyfriend. Or worse.

Zack would probably crack some joke about the guy not being “her type”, which wouldn't be wrong, but would be the slightest bit humiliating. Mostly because Zack would cackle at himself loudly enough that she’d never even get the chance to hide.

Billy, on the other hand, would just tell the guy to back off. Especially now that he’s on board with this whole her-and-Kim thing.

“You okay?” Billy practically shouts over whatever song is thumping through the room.

Trini looks up at him and nods. “Yeah. Why?”

Billy’s answer is a simple look thrown out at the dance floor where Kim is dancing with Zack and Jason.

It’s innocent.

Mostly.

If there can be an innocent form of dancing these days.

Kim just likes to dance and Jason and Zack are there. Better them than Tommy Oliver, like it had been last time.

And she understands logically that there’s nothing going on between Jason and Kim, even as his hands find her hips, her hand pressed into his chest. Not her and Zack either, though he’s dancing just behind her a little too close for Trini’s comfort.

There’s nothing going on. Because Zack and Jason dance like that with each other, too, just five seconds later. Maybe not the hip-touching thing but everything else.

And Jason is too busy with his job and his dad and this whole superhero thing.

Zack is more interested in people he wouldn’t have to call the next morning, who won’t complicate things by sticking around.

And both of them, she thinks, know that starting anything like that with Kim would just make everything harder.

Just as much as she knows it.

“I’m fine, Billy.” It’s not a lie.

By all laws of reason, she is fine.

Kim looks up just then from where she’s dancing near Jason and some other people Trini can’t make out nearly as well in the darkness of the room. Her eyes meet Trini’s and Trini’s not really certain what she’s supposed to do—if she’s supposed to look away—but she can’t. Doesn’t.

Couldn’t anyway.

It’s hot in the club, stuffy, and Kim smiles faintly, almost like a flash of light in the darkness and Trini is pretty sure that the tug in her heart right then, the way she feels hot under Kim’s gaze, means that she’ll never want anyone else.

But then Jason says something that draws Kim’s gaze back up and she smiles at him, utterly distracted again.

Zack saunters over a couple seconds later and steals the remainder of Trini’s drink.

That’s fine, too.

She wasn’t really drinking it anyway.

“How do you manage to be a party pooper everywhere you go, Trini?” he asks, but he doesn’t sound malicious. Just honest. Just curious.

“Sorry,” she mumbles sincerely.

Kim is just out there with Jason now and she’s remembering him with Tommy.

Remembering that boy’s hands on her and his face so close and—

“I’m just worried about you, man. You need to get laid,” Zack is saying. “I’m worried you’re gonna like...dry up your lady bits or something.”

Trini gets up.

She can’t handle this. Feels like her chest is constricting, like she’s running out of air.

The green coin burning her hip.

Says, “Please don't talk about my vagina again,” and books it to the bathroom.

.

In the bathroom, she leans heavily on the sink with her hands on either side of the bowl. She doesn’t look up at the mirror.

Doesn’t want to see herself.

Too many things are scrambling around in her mind, trying to gain purchase over one another.

Remembering Kim on the porch and Kim in her bed and Kim dying in the street.

Kim and Tommy. Kim and Jason.

Kim and anyone that can be more to her than Trini can.

She’s pretty sure she’s screwed from the way her palms are sweating. The way she can’t even think right now, can’t trust herself to drink or have a good time because she’s worried she’ll end up shouting or punching things or calling her mom or kissing Kim and making everything that much more complicated.

If she could, she’d just leave. Just call an Uber and go back to the house and pull the blankets over her head so that she doesn’t have to worry about any of this.

This whole night. This whole life.

Trini sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose between her fingers, trying to breathe properly.

She’s fine.

It’ll be fine.

The door opens behind her.

“Trini? Zack said you stormed off. You good?”

Crap.

Kim stands by the door with her hands deep in her pockets. She’s wearing a baggy yellow t-shirt that Trini knows is hers. Recognizes even though it’s been missing for a year and a half.

And Trini doesn’t want to think about what that might mean—if it’s some message Kim was trying to send her that she’s just not picking up on.

“Fine. You having fun?” Trini asks.

Kim looks at the floor and then crosses the room to lean on the sinks beside her. Trini tries not to look at her jeans, the way they’re shaped around Kim’s legs. Averts her eyes.

After a moment, Kim sighs, and says, “Yeah. It’s good.”

Trini just makes herself meet Kim’s eyes. “You don’t seem sure.”

Kim just shrugs. “I thought...I just thought we were doing okay again and now I feel like you’re maybe avoiding me?”

It’s unfair, really, the way Trini’s breath seems to catch just from looking at Kim. Kim who stares at her for just a second too long and it feels inevitably familiar now.

She feels guilty. Heavy.

Like she’s punishing Kim instead of herself and maybe this is all her fault in the first place.

“Do you wanna dance?” she asks, before she can chicken out.

Completely avoiding answering the question itself.

But Kim’s smile is real—she can tell—and she says, “I’d love that.”

.

It isn’t until they’re at the edge of the dance floor that Trini sees the boys at the table—sees Zack talking to some girl who’s gotta be at least twenty-five and Jason knocking back what looks like whiskey in a glass and leaning his head heavily on Billy’s shoulder—and realizes what she’s about to do.

Because it’s just couples on the dance floor now and about 90% of them are full-out grinding.

Her heart is racing at the prospect because, yeah, she’s danced with Kim before but that was before they’d kissed. Before she knew what Kim’s lips tasted like on some ordinary, toss-away Friday night.

“You okay?” Kim asks and she sounds mildly amused. Trini can just hear it over the music.

“Yeah. Fine. Not a good dancer though. Watch your toes.”

Kim laughs. Tosses her head back into it. “Rock on,” she says and then reaches out to grab Trini’s hips. “Is this okay?”

Her hands are warm and Trini can’t speak around the lump that has suddenly appeared in her throat so she just nods dumbly.

Lifts her arms up to go around Kim’s neck like they’re at some sort of middle school dance and then—

Kim shifts her feet and there’s no space between them anymore.

So much for leaving room for Jesus.

Kim’s hips start to move to the bass line of the song and Trini is certain that Jesus has left the building completely because holy fuck .

And it’s not obscene or anything. It’s actually still somewhat platonic, but Trini’s face is bright red. She’s certain of it and she’s been imagining this for weeks—for years, probably, but especially since Tommy at the party and it’s almost like everything is hitting her at once.

All of her stress and all of her fear and all of her desire set on a collision course straight towards her already spinning head.

And maybe that’s why she says, “You...You ask me this a lot, but are you okay?” when she sees Kim watching her even though this, by all rights, is not the time for this sort of thing.

Because clearly Kim isn’t. She’s not okay. None of them are.

Trini included. And she understands this logically and she wants to discuss it because they need to discuss it, but apparently her self-destructive nature has decided to attempt to attack the moment they’re sharing right now. Possibly make Kim sad enough to stop doing that little hip roll thing she’s doing right now that is starting to drive Trini crazy.

And she’s talked about it with Billy about this already. She’s talked about it with Jason and she’s certain that Zack is already aware of his own personal shortcomings—of the things he’ll never do now that he’s tied to this town. But he, unlike them, was already tied to it before.

He has other things to think about.

And she’s certain, absolutely positive, that no one has asked Kim that in any serious way ever.

That no one has taken the time to actually listen.

Even her.

“I don’t think any of us are,” Kim says honestly, and her Long Island Iced Tea earlier must have made her honest, carefree in her answers. But then she gets quiet, draws herself a little closer to Trini’s face. Says, “But I don’t notice it as much when I’m with you.”

And the boundaries of their safe zone are so, so close to exploding completely but Trini feels frozen at Kim’s admission.

It’s something she’s never let herself consider.

That maybe she makes Kim as happy as Kim makes her. Maybe this wouldn’t complicate things.

Maybe this would make things easier.

But, of course, some stupid, sweaty dude-bro chooses that moment to appear and get a little too close to Kim for her liking. He must be drunk, or else he’s just an absolutely terrible dancer which is a definite possibility.

Either way, Kim pulls back just enough to step a little too hard on his toes and he yelps and staggers back off. Kim rolls her eyes and Trini laughs and says, “Does that count as using your powers to benefit yourself?” just loud enough to be heard over the music.

Kim laughs too and then leans down, brushes her lips over the shell of Trini’s ear and says, “I won’t tell if you don’t,” and then, “Just dance with me.”

As she says it, the music changes and suddenly the bass is a lot faster. The couples around them start to move more quickly and Trini manages to bite her own lip at the tone of voice Kim had just used before Kim is flipping her around and looping an arm around her waist, pulling Trini close against her, back to Kim’s front.

And they’re grinding.

Trini is grinding with Kimberly Hart.

She tries not to think about the boys at the table. Possibly watching.

Doesn’t think about Tommy Oliver or her mother or her brothers.

Doesn’t think about the next day and the fact that Kim might not ever mention this again.

She just lets instinct take over.

The music pounds on.

Kim is an amazing dancer—though that was never up in the air what with the cheerleader thing. She’d seen it at two separate proms and about three other parties, but it’s somehow different when you experience it up close.

She’s lucky, maybe—or possibly unlucky with the way it sends shivers down her spine—that Kim takes charge, guides Trini’s arm back around her neck and then lowers that hand back down to Trini’s hips.

One of Kim’s thumbs trails along the line of her shorts, just under her shirt, and Trini shivers at the short puffs of air being breathed against her neck.

Trini wants to dissect this, figure out what it means.

Holy fucking God, she wants to figure out what this means, but it’s impossible to do anything more than feel and wonder why she ever fought against this.

She wants, has to, see Kim’s face again. She moves. Kim’s arms immediately drop and the space between them increases dramatically.

“Shit, Trin, I don’t—” Kim begins. Her eyes are wide, her hands up in front of her and Trini realizes that Kim thinks she pulled away because of where her hands just were.

“Stop,” Trini mutters and grabs the front of Kim’s— her —shirt to pull her close and, fuck. “Please don’t apologize.”

And Kim doesn’t. Kim just lets Trini slide a knee between her legs and they rock together to the beat. Gives her a smile that Trini returns.

This is stupid, of course. So, so stupid and tomorrow she’s going to have to deal with the fallout, but she’s tired of running away from this. This time she’s going to—

Kim smiles and says, “I know the offer might not stand anymore, but do you still wanna run away with me?” Her fingers squeeze Trini’s hips and Trini fights the urge to let her eyes roll back into her head. “Maybe back to your house?”

All she can consider in the moment is the implication--what this usually means to two people grinding in a club.

And she’s still powerless to do anything but nod.

.

It’s easy enough to ditch the boys.

They aren’t paying attention and Billy is the only one who’s still sober.

Jason is three sheets to the wind and Zack is slouched in the seat beside him looking like he’s about to pass out. Jason cheers as they approach and jerks forward across the table to grab Trini’s hand.

“Hi,” he says grinning. “You should have some of this.” He shakes his empty rocks glass on the table.

She squeezes his hand and says, “No thanks, Jase,” and she’d probably get a video of this to blackmail him with but Kim has a hand on the small of her back and she can’t think right now.

So she turns to Billy. “Can you make sure they get home safe?”

Billy nods.

He’s been working on his driving and he’s careful. Sometimes too careful. Goes just under the speed limit and comes to full stops at stop signs.

They’ll be fine.

He doesn’t question why they’re leaving together but he sends Trini a thumbs up as Kim leads the way outside to their waiting Uber.

And that’s something at least.

.

The car ride is silent.

Maybe it’s the Uber driver and the way he’d said, “Where to?” The way Trini had hesitated just so before rattling off her address because she wasn’t sure if they were meant to be taking Kim home after all. If that brief moment with Billy staring at them like he knew had maybe ruined it all and now—

But Kim hadn’t protested. Hadn’t listed another address.

And the car doesn’t pull over to get anyone else, which Trini is grateful for.

It’s maybe a 30 minute drive and one that Trini makes five days a week to get to her job, but tonight it feels impossibly longer. Like it’s been stretched out in one of those funhouse mirrors and sent twirling back and forth to shake her and Kim off the path.

Or something.

She’s not sure what’s allowed here, so she doesn’t grab for Kim’s hand. She just stares at out the window at the night life scrolling by and tries not to set her expectations too high for when they finally get to her house.

Because her brain is playing out every scenario that could possibly play out the moment that she gets home with Kim—

Kim kissing her against the door.

Kim pressing her into her bed.

Kim slapping her.

Kim just going home, disappearing into the darkness.

There are two many variables and Trini was never good at math—she never quite figured out the equation for probability but she’s pretty sure she knows her own luck, knows what she deserves, and she’s almost entirely positive that it isn’t Kimberly Hart.

.

Thankfully, at the house, it’s Kim who breaks the silence.

“Do you mind if I get changed or something?” she asks, and she gestures vaguely at her jeans and that shirt she stole.

Trini nods and unlocks the door, opens it and lets Kim inside.

Upstairs, she hands over a stack of clothes baggy enough on her that they’ll fit Kim perfectly. Just shorts. Just another shirt. Just a pair of socks with Hedwig from Harry Potter on them.

“Don’t steal these,” she says, trying to joke, trying not to remember Kim’s lips against her ear. “They’re my favorite socks.”

And Kim stares at her for a moment her bottom lip caught between her teeth (and since when did she do that so often? Trini is almost positive she never did that before or maybe she’s just noticing the movement now that it’s one she’d like to try out on Kim herself). She laughs, winks and skirts her way out of Trini’s bedroom.

Trini changes with the door closed. Kim is changing in the bathroom down the hall.

Like this is just some normal sleepover. Like they haven’t been ride or die with each other for two years now and Trini has seen some of it before—not all of it because she always averted her eyes when Kim changed in front of her—but it feels like it’s drawing attention to this thing going on between them by avoiding each other this way.

She sits on her bed for a while. Listens to the water run in the bathroom down the hall. Wonders if she could maybe just feign exhaustion and give Kim a stack of blankets for the couch. Leave it at all.

But that’s ridiculous. They’re adults now. And Kim deserves better than that.

So Trini goes downstairs, turns off the lights in the living room and turns on the Food Network.

Smiles when Kim descends the stairs, wearing Trini’s ratty clothes like some kind of fucking grunge model.

Trini doesn’t need to do any of that, but, with Kim, it’s like she can never quite help herself.

.

Basket-Jase: heey hey

Basket-Jase: did you leave

Basket-Jase: wait did kimmy leave where are you guys

Basket-Jase: zack says you hae us is that true

You: I’m just home, Jason. Kim is with me. I don’t hate you

     but if you keep drunk-texting me, that might change

Basket-Jase: lol

Basket-Jase: have fun ;)

.

“Jason drunk-texting you too?”

Kim nods without looking up from her phone. “Yep.”

“Anything good?” Trini asks as Kim sits down down beside her on the couch.

She’s trying to pretend this is easy, things are normal. They hadn’t practically humped each other in a dance club, like, half an hour ago and Kim hadn’t asked her to come back here and then (maybe) chickened out on whatever she’d had planned.

Kim finally looks up and tosses her phone onto the coffee table. “Not really, no.” She says it a little distractedly, like there’s more to the story than just that but Trini doesn’t push. Never really likes pushing anyway.

“I hate this show.”

“And yet you’re the one that turned it on. I think you’re just really into Guy Fieri secretly. I think you wanna marry him.”

With that, Kim flops her legs over Trini’s lap and maybe things are normal. Maybe this kissing thing was just a fluke and the dancing thing a somehow worse fluke and they’ll be able to move on like normal soon because—

“Dude, no. Ew.”

Kim smirks. “You love him. Face it. It’s the hair.”

Trini’s nose scrunches up and she says, “Shut up, I hate him.”

And Kim lets out this really bright laugh that Trini hasn’t heard in weeks and she feels light, happy, for the first time in forever. “Just not into goatees?” she asks.

“I hate you now, too,” she says and it’s a joke because she doesn’t. She used to say it all the time.

When Kim would drag her to school dances, when Kim insisted on doing her graduation day makeup, when Kim bought her that hideous Christmas sweater for the Harts’ annual Christmas party last year and made her put it on in front of her so she could be sure Trini would actually wear it.

“No, you don’t.”

“I do, Kimmy. I really do.”

She’s not looking, but she’s positive of Kim’s smirk, of the way she shifts her legs on Trini’s lap a little at the nickname. “Oh, you are mad.”

It happens in a movement that’s so blink-and-you-missed-it that it leaves Trini’s head feeling a little too dizzy, but Kim pulls her legs away and is suddenly straddling Trini’s waist.

And—

This is certainly new.

Kim is warm on her lap and her hair is a little messy from a long day and she’s maybe inches away from Trini’s face, saying, “I’m pretty sure you don’t hate me. I buy you pretty things and I make you coffee in the morning and I don’t put up with your bullshit.”

Trini really wants to laugh and say what pretty things? But she can’t even manage a coherent thought with how close Kim is right now. So she just sputters out a quasi-sarcastic, “I mean, that is the bar to which all pretty girls are set.” Kim’s breath pushes across the distance between them and it’s minty somehow (did she brush her teeth?). “Take me now.”

Kim grins. “We should probably tell the boys or something. They deserve to hear it from us, then. What with you having to settle the dowry debate with our mutual father, Jason.”

“Fine. Then I’m blaming you when Zordon completely combusts and destroys the morphing grid and the entire world sets aflame without the mighty Power Rangers,” Trini says, trying to sound dry and unaffected.

“Zordon would be supportive. He loves me.”

This comment apparently warrants her moving closer and then their faces are impossibly near to one another.

If this were normal—if they were just friends like she told Billy or if they’d never kissed at that party—she’s pretty sure the next minute or would go like this:

Trini would laugh, say, I don’t think he feels human emotion, and eventually Kim would slide off and resume her seat on the other side of the couch.

They’d watch more TV. Trini would suffer a couple more Guy Fieri jokes at her own expense.

Then, sleep. Sleep in Trini’s bed to be specific. Because in this world they never kissed at that party and they never even danced tonight and sleeping in the same bed would have drastically different connotations for them than it does right now.

But this isn’t normal and they have kissed and Trini knows what Kim’s arms feel like around her waist in a different sort of way than experience in friendly cuddling previously provided.

And Kim is straddling her waist and looking at her like she’s the only thing in the world and—

It’s an awful lot of pressure.

“Yes. You are Wall-Dad’s favorite. Hence my eternal and desperate hatred,” she manages somehow.

“And we’re back at the start of it,” Kim says. “Come on. I’m your favorite, too. You love me.”

She’s right of course. Trini couldn’t hate her if she actively tried her best.

She tries to swallow the lump in her throat and she’s pretty sure she’s about five seconds from completely exploding from how much she’s shaking with nervousness, with anticipation. “Yeah,” she says, but it sounds too serious for the moment. Too real. And she hates herself for it, hates that this is the moment she chooses to unleash this. “I do.”

Kim’s smile slips off a little—just, like, sags to the side and she twitches.

They’re so fucking close. When did they get this close?

Holy shit.

A couple more inches and a more careless, caution-to-the-wind attitude and they’d be kissing.

It would be easier if she could just disappear or something—if she'd thought ahead enough to not take off that bracelet Billy made her to connect to that teleportation to the ship and she could activate it and just leave .

“What are we doing?” she asks it because she can’t think of anything else to fill the silence with and the question just kinda slips out all at once, in one breath.

Kim is biting her lower lip again and her eyes are moving over Trini’s face like she’s looking for something she doesn’t even expect to find. The mood has suddenly become deathly serious and Trini isn’t sure what to do with that.

But neither, it seems, does Kim. Kim who is just kinda staring at her, breathing into the space between them.

She expects something dramatic. For Kim to say, What we were always going to do, or something like that and maybe what she gets isn’t half bad anyway.

What she gets is Kim whispering, “This,” and then replacing the space between them with herself.

Trini’s actually not sure anymore if that last kiss had been this good because this? She’s pretty sure she’s dying from how it makes her feel.

Her hands are shaking, but so are Kim’s when she reaches down to palm Trini’s jaw and pull her closer. Trini can feel them trembling against her neck, fingertips pressed firmly and she should stop.

They should stop.

Fuck .

Trini can’t breathe and she opens her mouth to catch her breath and finds Kim’s tongue instead, slipping inside to run along her bottom lip.

She wants to—

God.

So she opens her mouth a little wider instead, meets Kim’s tongue for a second and then Kim lets out this moan that makes her lean back, startled at the sound of it.

It’s the most powerless she’s felt since Tommy, since Rita, since her teammates—and Kim —lying helpless and battered behind her with Kim straddling her like this. Part of her wants to do the same to Kim, make her feel as weak as she does in the moment, and she takes what she can when her hand finds the warm skin of Kim’s thighs, when Kim shudders and presses down into Trini’s lap further.

The sound she makes, the press of her thighs into her hips, makes Trini stop for a moment—all of her really, but especially her heart. Kim senses the change and pulls away but doesn’t full retreat. Just rests their foreheads together and says, “Sorry,” in a way that sounds a lot like she isn’t sure what to be sorry for.

But Trini just shakes her head. Says, “Don’t be,” and tries not to think of why she fought this, of the boys across town and her family not talking to her, really. Her crappy job and Tommy fucking Oliver with his stupid boy-hands on Kim’s waist like hers are now.

Tommy fucking Oliver and the fact that he can have a life outside of this.

Outside of them.

“Yikes,” Kim says suddenly and when Trini looks up she’s smiling a little. “I don’t usually make girls look so sad when I kiss them.”

It’s a joke of course, meant to lighten the mood. Trini knows a joke when she hears one.

She says, “You don’t usually kiss girls, I don’t think.”

Kim’s mouth twists up a little, trying to look thoughtful. “True facts.”

There’s no time to relish in the moment, no point in it anyway.

Because they’re already kissing again. More fiercely than before and Kim is rocking her body down and making this sound that Trini hadn’t thought she’d ever hear from a girl when she’s involved.

Yet, here she is.

“Fuck,” Kim whispers raggedly when Trini juts her hips up a bit to meet her and Trini wonders if this is really happening.

If she might have sex with Kimberly Hart on this couch tonight.

Kim pulls her lips away and trails them down Trini’s jaw and Trini grabs her hips, pulls her down harder with thumbs pressed into the bone beneath them and she’s certain there will be bruises tomorrow. She hears herself groan a little when Kim finds the scars from two years ago, from Rita’s surprise attack, and kisses them gently.

And then Kim is blindly grabbing for one of Trini’s hands and guiding it upwards, pressing it to the hem of her shirt and then further up and—

Holy God in Heaven.

She’s touching Kim’s breast.

Shit, Trini,” Kim mumbles into the curve of Trini’s neck. “ Jesus. Is this okay?”

If this were any other day or Kimberly was any other girl, Trini would probably make some wisecrack right there. Something like, It’s perfect and I’m flattered, but you can call me Trini . Or something like that, but it isn’t any other girl. It’s Kim.

Her best friend. Her teammate. Her first call and last thought each day. The girl who she’d followed blindly into battle twice and held in her arms more times than she can count on both hands at the same time, but not like this.

Never like this.

“Yeah, it’s great,” she hears herself squeak out. “Is this okay with you?”

Kim drops her head down and nods into Trini’s shoulder and her hips are moving faster as she breathes hard into Trini’s ear, “More than. Please don’t stop.”

Trini has only touched, like, one breast before this and it was brief and she was 15 and that was before Angel Grove.

Before being a superhero sort of took over her life and flipped everything upside down.

But she’s pretty sure she knows what to do. At least, her hand seems to anyway because it’s moving and her fingers are doing things that are making Kim breathe even more harshly into Trini’s open mouth in some sloppy version of a kiss.

God, Trini,” Kim rasps out, groaning as Trini uses her free hand--the one on Kim’s hip--to tug her down so she can meet her gentle thrusts downward. She moves it over a little, then presses it up between Kim’s legs, over her shorts and Kim hisses out a breath and then bites Trini’s lower lip for good measure. “You feel so--”

But it’s because of her luck—all those time she’s fucked up and never paid the return on—that Kim never gets to finish.

Trini will think this later, when she’s in bed alone and Kim is still down on the couch or maybe already across town, having slipped out.

She really does have the shittiest luck.

Kim freezes and a second later Trini hears it, too. Voices at the door. Keys jingling.

Goddamn it.

In an instant, Kim is off of her lap and onto the side of the couch and Trini is pulling herself onto shaky legs that nearly give out on her right there. She throws a blanket over Kim, as if she were planning on just spending the night there on the couch instead of maybe five seconds away from having sex on it.

Sex. With Trini.

Trini bounds up the steps as quickly as she can, listening to the soft, admonishing cadence of Billy’s voice outside as the sound of something clanging onto the porch sounds out.

Jason, no doubt. Dropping his keys.

She just barely has time to make it into her room before the door opens and she listens with the door open as Billy says something to Kim that sounds like an apology. When she hears footsteps on the stairs, she closes the door quietly, hoping that the creaking of the floorboards will cover the click as it latches shut.

It takes a minute, maybe two, for Billy to get Jason into his room and into bed. He closes the door behind himself and she thinks says something else to Kim on his way out, but Trini isn’t sure what it is.

Can’t think of anything other than Kim on the couch. Lying there. Maybe waiting for Trini to sneak out of her bedroom and down to her.

But Trini doesn’t.

She stays where she is.

.

She dreams that she’s waiting in line for something. That she doesn’t know what. She has blood on her fist and she’s just kind of standing there in the middle of a store.

Waiting.

Someone laughs, but it sounds light. It sounds carefree and when she turns her head it’s Tommy Oliver, sliding in through the doors with his head thrown back. Laughing.

Trini.

Someone says her name and Trini looks away from Tommy. Turns around.

And her mother is standing in front of her, with her back to her.

Are you okay?

Her hand reaches out, trembles. She touches her mother’s shoulder to turn her around, but it’s not her mother and cold eyes meet hers, sharp teeth appearing in an angry snarl.

Did you miss me?

And she shoots up in her bed.

.

She lays there for a long time. She’s not sure how long. Listens to the fans moving all that air around the house.

Wonders if she should go wake Kim up. If she’s still allowed after abandoning her hours ago.

The shadows in her room make her muscles shake and she’s jumpy enough after a while to get up and slip into the hallway. But she doesn’t go downstairs.

Doesn’t even really head towards the steps at all.

Jason is sound asleep in bed when she slips in and she’s slept beside him before, but not without the others there, so maybe it’s a little weird to slide onto the bed beside him. Or maybe not because she’d die for him—almost did twice —and she thinks he’d do the same for her.

It’s not weird because he’s her family in the same way the others are and he just happens to be the closest in proximity. The easiest to get to.

And she hasn’t nearly gotten him off on the couch in the past five hours.

He snores. She’d known that already.

But somehow it’s comforting like this.

It only takes twenty minutes to fall asleep after that.

..

Chapter Text

..

It takes about fifteen full seconds of being awake for Trini to remember the night before. For it to come crashing back into her brain like some of hurtling, high-speed train crushing the Cranston family minivan into a Rubik’s cube.

Her phone says its only eight o’clock which is certainly early for her considering the time at which she fell asleep. Jason is still snoring on the other side of the bed and all of the covers are on his side as he dangles his head over the edge.

She reaches over and guides it back to the mattress so he won’t have a muscle cramp for the rest of the day and pats his head as her hand retreats.

That same hand then reaches up to her lips, as if searching for any evidence that Kim’s lips had been there the night before.

She’s nervous to go downstairs, doesn’t really want to face Kim because she’s not sure what all that will entail.

If they’ll fight about it or if they’ll kiss again.

Either way, her morning breath might end up being an issue.

Jason doesn’t have mints or gum in his bedside drawer, but he has those minty Tums, which, you know.

Two birds, one stone.

She shoves three of them into her mouth and chews sullenly as she gets up and attempts to pat her hair down into something semi-attractive.

In all honesty, she could just hide all morning. She could pretend to be asleep and text Kim later, after she’s gone, and apologize or something.

Say, Sorry about running last night! It’s what I do! Also, apologies for almost fornicating with you on the couch.

But that wouldn’t work. Eventually, she’d have to face Kim anyway.

The stairs creak slightly on her way down and she nervously peeks her head around the corner before descending entirely, trying to gain a view of the couch before she makes her presence known.

The empty couch.

Fuck.

Kim’s already gone.

Trini stands in the living room for a second or two, just trying to weigh out her options because Kim ditching already means something bad, right? It means she wants to forget about it like they kinda, sorta tried to last time before failing.

Epically.

She can’t even look at the couch. As if she’s done a great misdeed to it.

Which, she thinks, she sort of almost did. Because Kim was on her, moving on her, and they’d very nearly--

“Hey.”

Trini nearly jumps out of her skin, whipping around to the doorway to the kitchen to see Kim standing there in the clothes she’d been wearing the night before.

“Shit,” she says on reflex. And then, “Hey.”

Kim looks just as startled as Trini feels to see her and she wrings her hands together as she takes a tentative step forward. “I, um…I put your clothes on your bed. Scout’s honor.”

She even holds up her right hand in that stupid little scout signal.

“Oh,” Trini says. “Thanks.”

Kim nods. “You weren’t in bed. Did you go out?”

Trini shakes her head. “No, I, um…I was checking on Jason.” Kim looks like she wants to question it, but Trini barrels on before she can. “Are you leaving?” She tries not to sound like she’s pushing her out—she really isn’t—she’s just curious about what might have happened if she’d never come down.

Would Kim already be halfway home?

“Yeah…I, um, I have a flying lesson with my uncle at ten, so I thought--”

Trini nearly forgot about the flying lessons. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning at 10 o’clock sharp.

Good ol’ Uncle Steve.

“We need to talk still?” It sounds like a question, but Trini isn’t sure she’s meant to have an answer. And anyway, they do. The answer is an emphatic yes .

“And, like,” Kim continues, “I’m having a really hard time...not just pushing you into the wall right now, so I thought...Yeah.”

There’s a tingling in the space between them. Different than usual but somehow so similar that it’s terrifying in that moment.

Trini understands the feeling, but her stomach bottoms out at the thought of Kim doing just that.

It hurts, of course, but she’s right. They keep jumping into this without talking about it and maybe they need to wrap their heads around whatever is going on with themselves before adding in this fun, new twist.

“I know what you mean,” Trini says and she looks away. Tugs nervously on the hem of her shirt.

“Okay.”

A hand reaches out and adjusts the collar of Trini’s shirt, brushes through the ends of her hair and then just rests mildly on her neck, thumb stroking at the skin that’s found there.

And she’s trying not to read into it, trying to think of a time when she’s seen Kim touch the boys like this, but--

She’s pretty sure she hasn’t.

And it’s Trini who initiates it this time. That she’s sure of.

Because it’s only been, like, one complete minute of fighting this so far today and she’s already weak from it. So she leans up, rocks forward on her toes just the slightest bit, and presses her mouth to Kim’s.

There’s no hesitation from Kim before she’s kissing Trini back, trailing her hand up to cup the back of Trini’s head and draw her closer. Trini grabs at the belt loop of Kim’s jeans until they’re pressed together and Kim is gasping, tilting her head, opening her mouth.

She tastes minty just like she did last night.

She has a spare toothbrush in the bathroom upstairs. All of them do.

It’s pink and it’s new and Trini thinks she must have only used it twice before and that would make this the third time. Kim prepared for this.

She’s not the only one who wants this and she can’t even think.

So she settles for sliding her hand up Kim’s shirt so her palm is resting on bare skin.

Kim bites at Trini’s bottom lip and Trini remembers that at some point, they’re going to have to talk about this. They’re going to have to sit down and hash out what this means for them, for the team, for the fate of the universe and it’s barely eight o’clock in the morning.

She really can’t wrap her head around that right now.

She slows the kiss down and Kim must realize it because she pulls away and for a second they just breathe into each other’s space. Then Kim kisses her just once more. Softly.

“We might be in trouble,” Kim whispers and Trini nods.

There’s no point in arguing.

“We usually are.”

Kim is quiet, her eyes dropping down to look at the floor and Trini reaches up automatically--in a motion she’s positive she’s done nearly constantly over the years, but always had the presence of mind to stop herself from finishing--to cup the side of her face, brush a thumb across her chin.

Bring her eyes back up.

“Don’t tell me I suck that bad,” Trini jokes, not even really sure where inside of herself she found the words, but grateful for it, at least.

Kim smiles. Shakes her head. “Hardly,” she says and a swell of pride bubbles up in Trini’s chest. “I just--” Kim stops and clears her throat. Says, “I can’t go back to pretending this didn’t mean anything again.”

And it’s sort of like--

Freeze frame.

Everything stops.

Trini can see Kim in front of her, feel her skin under her fingers. She can hear the box fans blowing--one at the top of the stairs, the other by the couch. She can hear the birds outside and Jason snoring distantly. Someone mowing their lawn down the street.

She feels strong. Impossibly strong. And everything comes swinging back into motion.

“I can’t either,” she whispers and Kim’s dark eyes light up at this and she’s smiling, lips spreading wide under Trini’s thumb just seconds before she puckers them to kiss the digit away so she can lean forward.

So she can rest their foreheads together.

“You can’t?” she asks and Trini wonders if Kim is serious.

If she’s accidentally been playing the role of some smooth operator when, really, she’s been about ten seconds away from a heart attack since last night.

She rolls her eyes, but can’t fight her smile. Can’t look fully disengaged. “No,” she says. “I can’t. I wanted you...Last night, I thought we were going to...I wanted to come back downstairs, but I think…” She doesn't mention her nightmare. Doesn't want to. Says, “I think it’s better that I didn't for now. Until we talk.”

They’re maybe ten seconds away from kissing again and Kim really does have to go. Which is how Trini finds herself standing on the porch in the early morning heat, watching Kim head out to her car in the driveway.

“Hey!” she yells as the door opens, just as Kim is about to disappear behind the wheel.

Kim stops and looks at her, carefully. Calculating. Like she’s just as fucking terrified of this as Trini is and that’s maybe more comforting than it should be.

“Can you, like…You can talk to me today if you want. That would be neat. Like, text me and stuff.”

There’s a second of hesitation as this settles in and then Kim smiles and nods. Says, “Yeah, of course,” and then she’s waving as she backs down the driveway.

Trini feels lightheaded as she closes the door.

.

You: I really need to talk to you

L’il Bill: Good morning. And okay :)

You: You home?

L’il Bill: Yeah

You: Be there in 5

L’il Bill: Cool :)

You: Practice looking surprised, because you’re not allowed to say

        “I told you so”

.

Billy is sitting on his front stoop when Trini pulls up, parks her car in the street just in front of the house, and gets out to join him. It’s early but he’s always bright-eyed and more prepared for the day at six in the morning than anyone Trini ever knew before him.

He grins as she approaches and waves, says, “Good morning!” in this really happy chirp that makes Trini feel immediately guilty for everything she’s about to dump on him.

She sits down on the step beside him and settles back on her elbows, trying to look nonchalant. Her heart is beating like a rabbit that’s like ten seconds away from a heart attack , though, so she doubts the pose really proves much.

“Morning, Bill,” she says and she tries to sound genuine, hopes it comes out okay.

“How are you doing?”

Like it’s any other morning.

And, yeah, so she wasn’t expecting that question and she’s not really sure what the answer is, so she just fakes it.

“I’m great. Amazing, actually. The usual.”

Billy bobs his head like he doesn’t quite believe her, but like that isn’t a real issue either way. “So last night was okay?”

It’s like he’s trying to prod her along which Trini really does appreciate because she’s having a lot of trouble finding the words she wanted to say in the first place now that she’s actually been confronted by Billy himself. Like the tables have turned or something.

She shrugs. “Yeah. It was fine.”

Billy nods again. “Okay. That’s cool. I’m glad it was fine, because things might get awkward otherwise, you know?”

And...huh?

“What?” Trini asks, her eyebrows hunkered down over her eyes, trying to figure out what he’s just said and coming up short. “What do you mean?”

Billy frowns. “You know, with the sex.”

It’s probably a lot like being shot.

Trini isn’t sure. The only time she’s been shot, her armor had protected her.

But this is just as shocking. Especially because she’s immediately back on that couch again, underneath Kim, hands on her waist, hearing her sigh, hearing that breathy, Trini , in her ear.

“We--”

--didn’t have sex, she goes to say, but can’t get her mouth to form the words.

Fortunately, Billy seems to understand this if his wide-eyed, embarrassed expression is anything to go by. “Oh...Oh, crap. I’m sorry!”

“It’s okay.”

“I just sorta thought ‘cause she was there when I dropped Jason off and you guys sorta ditched us and--”

“It’s fine, Billy,” Trini says, but she knows she looks like she’s just been deprived of oxygen for the past five minutes. She can feel how hot her face has become. “We, um…” She trails off and clears her throat, feeling so on display that she shivers and wishes she’d brought a coat though it’s already pushing ninety degrees outside. “We…”

But the words don’t come.

What she’s not sure of is if she should, because Kim doesn’t know that Billy knows and she does. And what if Kim finds out and is angry that Trini didn’t immediately tell her? And shouldn’t she be having this conversation with Kim first, anyway?

“Do you want to talk about it?” Billy asks and he looks disappointed in himself, but a good deal less embarrassed than before. “I thought it might be difficult, too. So I wrote down some talking points.”

Trini makes a face. “You—What?”

Billy shuffles his feet a little and pulls out a small, pocket-sized notebook from the pocket of his jeans and flips through it, humming to himself. He finally settles on a page and gives Trini this little smile before reading, “Point number one: you and Kimberly are good together. It might be hard because of our Ranger duties, and all, but you’re in love and you deserve happiness.”

He looks back up again and Trini’s chest is warm, face bright red.

She wants to thank him, but she’s not sure for what yet, so she just says, “Why do you keep saying the ‘L’ word?”

“What ‘L’ word? ‘Lesbian’? I haven’t said that.” He’s quiet for a second and then says. “Oh. Because you love each other. Was I not supposed to know that?”

Trini slouches so her elbows are resting on her knees and is quiet for a moment.

Thinking.

Trying not to snap or say something she’ll regret later because maybe she does love Kim. Maybe she’s even in love with her, but she’s never said it out loud. Never told Kim.

Isn’t sure what Kim would even say back if she did.

“Did you talk to her about it?” Billy whispers, as if afraid someone might be listening in.

But Trini doesn’t answer, which is maybe answer enough.

“Okay,” Billy is nodding in her peripheral vision, scanning through his notebook. “So, are you guys still kissing, then?”

There’s a loud sigh that’s blown past Trini’s lips and then she says, “Yeah.” She coughs into her fist awkwardly. “Yeah, we kissed again.”

She’s immediately warm at the thought and stops shivering immediately.

“Okay, so you guys should really talk about this,” Billy says eventually. “There’s only so much I can do and the one thing I can’t do is agree for Kim to date you. I’m not in charge of her.”

“Yeah, Bill, I think you’re right.” She takes a deep breath and tries to flatten her feet to the pavement so the world will stop spinning so much. “Thanks for...everything, I guess.”

He nods and then his hand is really soft on her back, comforting. “I can keep what I wrote down, if you want. I go into Zordon in a big way around point three and maybe we can discuss that sometime?”

Trini nods. “Yeah, Billy. Definitely.”

They sit there in silence for a while and Billy keeps patting her back and it’s nice.

After a minute, she says, “Do you ever--” then cuts herself off, watches some kids pass by across the streets, riding their bikes. Swallows and tries again. “Do you ever feel guilty for wanting to be normal? Like…”

She’s not sure how to finish it, what it’s like really, but Billy seems to consider it for a moment.

“Sometimes,” he says. “But...You’re allowed to want things, Trini. Even if it makes you feel bad for wanting them. We--” His voice sounds as raw as she feels and she looks up at him, at his strong profile highlighted by the early sun. “We have it...really rough. Rougher than usual. You’re allowed to be resentful sometimes.”

She thinks of Kim and driving out of this town. Never looking back.

The power coin--one of them, the green one probably--burns as hot as always in her pocket.

.

She just drives for a while, lets herself feel the gravity of the situation she’s in—the weight of it all. Past her house—her parents’ cars aren’t in the driveway—and then the park down the street—she doesn’t see Diego or Alex, so she keeps going.

Part of her wants to Google what counts as completely fucked?

But she already knows the answer.

It’s being stuck in this town until she dies. It’s having no family except the one that she sort of taped together with her own hands, with her own dumb luck, with her stupid superpowers.

It’s Jason spending every summer on his dad’s fishing boat because he needs the money and doesn’t have much experience with anything else. It’s Jason thinking he’ll never be the kind of man he should be.

It’s Zack working three jobs and saving up to get the cheapest car he can buy in case his mom needs to get to the hospital in the middle of the night because they can’t afford ambulance costs. It’s Zack thinking he’s a burden to them.

It’s Billy sitting in his childhood bedroom writing down talking points for a conversation he shouldn’t have to have just because she can’t figure out how to handle this herself. It’s Billy feeling like a hindrance, like he doesn’t understand everything like they do when he’s the smartest out of all of them.

And it’s Kim.

It’s Kim and her flying lessons with her uncle because she doesn’t have anything else to do and Kim and her parents and that U.C. Berkeley banner she took off the wall by her bed last year, right before college applications started being sent out. It’s Kim thinking she’s just bad enough a person to not deserve even the slightest bit of a break.

It’s Kim pressing her down into the couch and kissing her and maybe loving her when Trini doesn’t deserve it.

She doesn’t deserve it.

She wishes there were an easy way out--that she could just tape a note to her part of the morphing grid that says, Hey, sorry about fucking all you guys over and wasting your time. Hope you function okay as a super-team of 4!

But, no.

That’s selfish. That’s the most selfish thing in the world because, ultimately, what she wants doesn’t matter. What she wants won’t save lives when more murderous baddies come knocking on the door of the Krispy Kreme. What she wants is always going to be effectively dwarfed by what’s right .

How’s that Spock line her dad used to say in his weird Leonard Nimoy impersonation go?

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few ?

Or something?

She’s pretty sure that applies here.

And she doesn’t realize that she’s crying, that the coin is searing itself into her skin, until she gets to the docks and parks her car.

It’s early afternoon still, the sun high in the sky and it’s so hot when she gets out that she feels herself immediately begin to shrivel in the heat.

She’s—stupidly—wearing the shirt Kim had been wearing last night. Found it on her bed before she’d driven to Billy’s and slipped it on after just staring at it for a second.

Everything is falling apart.

It took two damn years and more than a handful of close calls and now Trini is pretty sure she’s having a complete meltdown and she’s going to be left standing with nothing, with no one, with no sense of self pretty soon.

The waves are crashing against the docks and she squints at the horizon, at the sunlight bouncing off the water, to see if she can make out a tiny blob that might be Jason. But she can’t.

And he’s home, anyway. Won’t be going out until later this evening.

He’d told her why yesterday, when he’d met her for her break at work. Now she can’t remember.

There’s a vibrating in her pocket and Trini completely ignores it, thinks it’s that stupid coin for a minute, and then realizes it’s coming from the back. From the wrong pocket.

It’s her phone.

Kim is calling her.

She hesitates just so, not sure if she’s allowed to answer or not, but then she does anyway because Kim will probably just keep calling if she doesn’t.

“Hey,” she says, trying to sound nonchalant. Trying to sound like she hadn’t just been crying.

“Hi,” Kim says and it makes Trini wish she were there in that moment. The need--the want-- for her to be there is so consuming, Trini can’t breathe for a second. “I, uh...I thought we could talk.”

Trini nods. Can’t answer. Leans back against the hood of her car and jumps back up when the metal burns her legs.

“You’re not at work, right?”

She shakes her head, and then remembers that Kim can’t see her. So she says, “No, I’m...I’m not. We can talk.” She swallow thickly. Winces. Closes her eyes for a second. “What did you want to talk about?”

It’s because she’s expecting the worst--expecting Kim wanting to hash out the meaning of what they’re doing right there and then--that she’s so relieved that Kim doesn’t say that.

That she says, “I don’t know, I--” and then clears her throat. “I just wanted to hear your voice.”

She sounds as nervous as Trini feels and she can’t help but imagine her face, her hair, the shape her lips are making.

“Oh,” Trini says. “Okay.”

“Which would be easier if you’d say more than one word at a time.”

It’s a joke. Trini laughs. Forces herself to.

“Right, um...sorry. How’s Uncle Steve?” she asks.

She can hear Kim smiling as she says, “Uncle Steve is good. Sends his love. How’s everything on your end?”

Trini shrugs. “I don’t know. Fine, I guess.”

“Are you at the shore? I can hear the waves.”

“Yeah. It’s, um…” Trini flounders for words, for adjectives, for anything, and then settles on, “...hot.”

Kim laughs--this warm sound that sort of seems like it’s accidental. “Well, you know, it is June.”

“Shut up,” Trini grumbles, but she’s smiling and it’s probably only a few words away from what she means--from that I miss you she has no right to say after a four hour separation.

“Sorry, sorry,” Kim says, but she doesn’t sound like she means it.

Trini tugs at the hem of that stupid shirt. If she were a stronger person, a better person, she would be able to tell Kim what she means.

That she thinks she does love her. That she never meant to but she does now and maybe it happened the moment they met or when that stupid train almost killed them. Or maybe it happened so slowly that it took two full years--that it was a hundred moments and not just one that led them here.

“Did I tell you about that lady who wanted decaf pure black tea the other day?” she asks and Kim laughs automatically.

“Does that exist?”

Trini laughs too and says, “No. No, it does not. You ready for this? She was a piece of work.”

And Kim sounds younger by years when she laughs, when she says, “Alright. Hit me,” like it’s easy again and Trini loves her.

.

Assface: pretty sure I died last night

You: Pretty sure you deserved it

Assface: ow my feelings

Assface: y must u hurt me in this way

You: Can any of you type? Is it just me?

Assface: shut up and meet me at the mine in like 20 mins

Assface: want 2 punch some stuff in the gawgus sunlight

Assface: come kick my beautiful ass

.

Jason is downstairs when Trini goes home to change, when she’s about to head right out to the mine to meet Zack. He’s home for once and tired, slouched on the couch with the TV on and he hasn’t changed out of what he was wearing last night.

He has an icepack pressed to his neck and she rolls her eyes because she’d tried to help that, but apparently it hadn’t worked.

“Hey,” he says when she gets in. “Thought you didn’t work today.”

She shrugs and shoves her hands deep into the pockets of her shorts. Or, as deep as they’ll go. Which is just barely past the tips of her fingers. “I don’t. Went out to meet Billy. Going to meet Zack now.”

Jason nods and then glances back at the TV before looking back up at her with this quizzical look on his face that makes her uneasy, cuts her giddy feeling over her conversation with Kim short.

“What?” she snaps, sounding meaner than she means to and immediately shrinking back into herself in guilt the moment she hears herself.

It’s Jason who shrugs now and adjusts the ice pack on his neck. “Did Kim stay over last night? I think I remember seeing her.”

His voice has that tone to it—that I’m not mad, I’m disappointed dad voice that she hates. It’s the same one he used during midterms when she’d cracked a joke about not studying for her and Kim’s anatomy exam.

And then a second later when Zack cracked a different kind of joke about their anatomy exam and “studying” for it.

She nods and looks away, suddenly finding the railing of the stairs intriguing enough to inspect further. “Yeah, she did.”

Jason doesn’t say anything for a good minute or so, letting Trini believe briefly that there’s no follow-up, but then there is. When she looks up, he’s smiling the way Billy has been the past few weeks. “You know, I think she looked a little flustered when I came in. Any idea why?”

God .

“Jason, oh my god. Stop talking.”

He actually listens, which is surprising enough. He closes his mouth, stares at the TV and says, “I fixed the railing on the back porch this morning,” like that’s what he meant to say in the first place.

“Rad.”

“Mhm.”

Trini sighs out hotly and then moves further into the living room. “Just say what you’re going to, Jase. Stop dodging what you’re getting at like a twerp.”

“I’m not saying anything.”

Trini glares at him and his stupid self-satisfied smile. “Want the deets, then? That Kim and I left last night because it was that or get thrown out for public indecency like ten minutes later? That we came back here and almost had sex on the couch until you—”

The face he makes--that wide-eyed look--makes her laugh.

He jumps a bit, like he’d rather get up from the couch and never sit on it again, but if he does that, it would mean letting Trini win and Jason is nothing if not stubborn. “That’s—That’s too much information, thanks.”

And that feels pretty good.

“I’m gonna go meet Zack.”

She doesn’t even change. She just leaves.

.

Zack is sitting on the edge of the cliff when she arrives, like they don’t have a better way to get down there with these wristbands now. He’s dangling his feet over the edge and looking for all the world like a normal teenage boy.

“Took you long enough,” he says.

He doesn’t turn around to say it. He must feel her getting closer the way she can feel him, humming just a couple feet away.

Like when you rub a balloon on your arm and then hold it out above your head.

There’s no feeling in your hair, of course, but you can tell that it’s lifting.

“Our dad keeps trying to have heart-to-hearts with me.”

Zack snorts and then swings around to look at her, grinning wildly in that way she thinks he must reserve just for her. “Sounds about right. Have fun last night?”

He wiggles his eyebrows and holy shit.

These boys are going to be the death of her.

“Yeah, sure. Did you? You were pretty trashed when I left.”

Classic Trini tactic. Avoidance and pushing the spotlight towards somebody else.

“That was the whole point, Crazy Girl.”

She shrugs. “I guess.”

“Why’re you so mopey? It’s getting on my nerves.” He’s on his feet now, dusting off the seat of his jeans and then moving closer to her, dropping a heavy arm around her shoulders.

He doesn’t mean it. She can tell because of his tone and because he’s Zack and he says things like this to show that he cares.

But she’s not sure. She’s certain there’s no reason now for the heaviness in her chest, the sinking in her stomach. Except for her mother, her father, her brothers.

The whole never-leaving thing.

But there’s Kim, too. Kim and the way she laughed on the phone at all the right parts of her stupid story. The way she’d kissed her this morning.

And yet, there the heaviness is.

There’s that deep lack in the heart of her that’s been there for months. Been growing steadily into some sort of heavy, clawing maw.

“I don’t know,” she says honestly.

Zack nods. He seems to understand this. Always does seem to get her when even she doesn’t get herself.

They’re silent for a moment, just Zack with his arm around her shoulders standing in the middle of fucking nowhere in the summer heat.

“You know what might make you feel better?” Zack asks after a moment.

She looks up at him curiously and he grins with all of his teeth, his eyes crinkling just the tiniest bit.

“You should punch me in the face.”

And Trini has to laugh because Zack’s solution is always to punch something or someone.

But, then, of course, she punches him in the face.

.

“What’s that?” Zack asks when they’re in between hits, when Trini bends over to tie the laces of her sneaker and the stupid green power coin slides out of her pocket and onto the dirt like the fucking One Ring, forcing its way to Bilbo when it got sick of Gollum.

“Nothin’,” she says and she scoops it up and slips it into her pocket again.

But Zack is serious. Zack has dropped his fists and he’s not bouncing back and forth on his toes anymore. He’s even got his head tilted to the side in thought.

“My coin,” she tries, but Zack shakes his head.

“I smell bullshit,” he sing-songs and steps forward.

She imagines telling him then. About this stupid coin and the fact that it won’t go away. That she’s been terrified to tell anyone, but especially Zordon, because she doesn’t really want to think about what it might mean.

She imagines telling him, coming clean, and Zack being there for her with answers or maybe not. Maybe he won’t have any answers just like she doesn’t.

So she doesn’t tell him.

She punches him in the face again and the coin vibrates, burns hot in her pocket.

.

And, okay, maybe she punches him too hard.

But in all fairness, he’s the one that tackled her after that second right-hook.

And now his nose is bleeding like a faucet and he’s got his head tipped back, a wad of tissues pressed to it as she drives them as quickly as she can manage to the pharmacy at the edge of town.

He’s laughing wildly with the wind whipping in the windows and Trini is babbling all sorts of apologies that can’t even be heard over Zack anyway.

“Stay here,” she commands when she pulls into the parking lot and throws the car into park.

Zack nods. Says, “Fine, but hurry. Before I bleed out,” and then cackles like it’s the funniest thing in the entire world.

Trini hurries inside and makes her way to the first aid aisle, searching for gauze. Searching for ice packs. Searching for anything to stop the bleeding.

Grabs some trash bags, too, for the bloody wad of tissues sitting on the passenger side of her car now.

His power coin will have him healed in just a couple of hours. Always does.

But in the meantime, he’s going to keep bleeding because she’s pretty sure she broke his nose and there’s no point in going to the hospital if his nose will magically reset itself while they’re trying to fix it.

She fingers her own power coin in her pocket, where it always is. Ignores the press of the green one in her other pocket.

Shakes her head and makes her way to the front.

She’s thinking about Kim when it happens and maybe that’s why she doesn’t expect. Her mind is abuzz with Zack bleeding in her car and Kim sitting at home and maybe, possibly, loving her back.

Of things maybe heading in the right direction for once.

She’s not expecting it when the woman in front of her turns as she waits. Says, “Trini?” in this quiet voice, like she’s just seen a ghost.

Doesn’t expect to see her mother here of all places.

Her hands start trembling. That’s the first thing she notices and her mother is watching her as the items drop from her hands and fall to the floor. The coins in her pockets are burning brightly, hot. Boiling against her skin.

“Trini? Are you okay?” her mother sounds worried now.

Panicked.

Trini doesn’t have an answer. Couldn’t give her one anyway.

Because everything slips away and all she knows is darkness.

Only darkness.

..

Chapter Text

..

Hot. Too hot. Under her skin. In her head.

She’s outside. Breathing. Trying to breathe. Can’t manage it and someone laughs, faint and quiet. Carried on the wind, on the air that’s fallen dead in the air around her.

“Who’s there?”

She’s shaking. Her whole body is trembling.

Can’t breathe.

“What’s happening to me?”

She’s dead maybe. Has to be.

Rita is standing in front of her, in the mouth of the alleyway.

“Did you miss me?”

Her teeth are sharp. Like a feral animal. Like she’s already won.

Can’t breathe.

“You’re dead.”

“Yes.” Rita laughing again and again. “I am. She is.”

Zack. She needs Zack.

Or--

“What are you?”

Something is burning her. Hot at her leg. Someone’s screaming.

It’s her.

It’s the power coin. The green one. She throws it. It comes back. She tosses it down to stomp on it.

“Right now,” Rita says, much closer now, coming closer still, “I am you.”

The heat is too much. Can’t breathe.

The darkness takes her again.

.

PHONE       7m ago

Taylor Slow

Missed Call & Voicemail (7)

.

“Kim, I don’t know why you chose today to not have your fucking phone glued to your hand but I need you to call me back the second you get this, okay? Jason’s not answering and I can’t get ahold of Billy and--It’s your girl, K. Something’s wrong. Call me back.”

.

Kim is in the grocery store parking lot when she hears gets the first message, standing in the space between the open door of her mom’s SUV and the passenger side seat. She’s supposed to be inside, helping her mom pick out a brand of bread for toast this week, but they always go with Wonder Bread anyway and she’d left her phone in the car.

So she came out to get it.

By Zack’s fourth voicemail, he’s dropped his word count significantly and just says, “Fuck, Kim. Pick up ,” before the line goes dead.

She calls him back and he answers immediately.

Says, “Fucking finally, Hart,” and he sounds out of breath and she can hear the distant rumble of cars passing by.

“What’s wrong?” she asks, hating the shrill tone of her voice. Hating the way it bounces around inside the car, sounding tinny and obsolete. “Is Trini okay? What happened?”

She’s the kind of girl who, anytime she got a note to go to the office, immediately assumed she was about to be expelled, though it usually just ended in her getting a pat on the back for making honor roll or something. Or it was just a textbook her mom dropped off because she’d forgotten it at home.

And then, the one time she’d been called into the principal’s office and actually had been in trouble, it had been enough to make her tremble the rest of the year.

Now, her mind is conjuring images of Trini’s broken body. Those scratches on her neck after Rita or a car coming out of nowhere to crush around her body.

The logical part of her brain attempts to argue that they’d all five been hit by a train once, two years ago, and that certainly hadn’t stopped them. But then--

If that hadn’t been enough to hurt them, what could be happening now?

“I don’t fucking even know, Kim,” Zack says finally and the whole world, everything around her, just stops . “She just bailed.”

Something churns in her stomach, and maybe it’s the Starbucks her and her mom stopped for on the way, maybe it’s the feeling of sickness she’s been repressing all fucking year, maybe it’s because she’s just figuring out all this stuff with Trini, but being terrified of losing her isn’t new, and it doesn’t change the fact that she can’t--she can’t --

Her heart is pounding out a crazy beat and she can’t really breathe, and Zack is saying her name distantly.

“What do you mean she bailed?” she hears herself say, though she can’t recall finding the words on her own.

“We were at the drug store ‘cause she punched me a little too hard and--I don’t know, she felt bad or something. Wanted to get gauze.” He’s moving around, she can hear it and he sounds panicked. “I was in the car and I don’t know she just...I saw all these people come running out and when I went in to see what happened, like, half the aisles were knocked straight over like some sort of mega-putty smashed into them and she was--”

She was gone.

Kim’s mouth feels numb and she shakes her head, presses her phone further into her ear until it hurts. “Where are you now?” she asks.

“I’m by that laundromat on Maple, I figured--”

Kim doesn’t let him finish. She says, “Give me five minutes, okay?” and then she hangs up.

.

She’s having a panic attack. She’s certain of it.

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what is her powers--what’s just runoff from excess energy or unutilized strength--and what’s just in her head.

But this is something else. This is terrifying. This is tunnel vision and sweaty palms and she can’t breathe.

It’s easy enough to find Zack. She gets there in less than three minutes and she’s never run so fast in her life. Briefly, she considers the whole never let anyone find out your secret identity thing because she was really booking it down the street and there are cars and people out because it’s a beautiful summer afternoon and everything should be normal, but--

“Where the hell is she?” she practically roars when she sees him.

Zack shakes his head, the empty look in his eyes reflecting her own. “I don’t even know.”

.

Somewhere. She’s not sure where. Can’t hear. Can’t really see.

Rita is laughing, following her. She can’t see her.

Doesn’t know where she’s going. Needs to find Kim. Needs to get to Zordon.

Needs to get away.

People nearby, maybe. Can’t be sure.

And then--

“Are you okay?”

When she turns, it’s him--Tommy Oliver--and Rita is laughing still. Louder.

She’s shaking. Can’t breathe.

“Trini, right? You don’t look good. Do you need me to call someone?”

His eyes. Dark. His hands at his side. The hands that hit Billy. Hit Jason. Broke Zack’s leg.

Nearly killed Kimberly.

“Whoa, maybe you should sit down?”

Moving closer. Tommy Oliver. Brown eyes. Worried, maybe.

People around. She’s sure of it. Can’t see them. Her vision is swimming.

“He was stronger than you, Yellow,” Rita is cooing near her ear. “He almost won.”

“He didn’t.”

“What?”

Tommy. Looking confused. Trini pushes past him.

Roughly. Hears him curse in pain. Keeps moving.

.

Trini isn’t anywhere.

Jason picks up when Kim calls him for the eighteenth time in two minutes and she can hear how tired he is just from his voice, but it doesn’t matter. He seems to understand, inherently, that something must be wrong.

Obviously.

Maybe he can feel the disconnect--the lack --that she does.

“What happened?” he asks, the waves rolling in the background just under the sound of his voice. He hasn’t left yet, still by the dock waiting to head out and it’s lucky, then, because he should be able to get away. He should be able to help.

“Get to Zordon,” is the answer he comes up with when he’s filled in--when Zack takes the phone away and explains because Kim can’t even manage it, can’t even catch her breath standing there on the sidewalk and getting strange looks from the people passing by. “He might know where she is.”

So they get to Zordon.

.

She’s cold even though she’s dry and she thinks she can feel something deep in her chest, something foreboding coming up from inside of her.

Taking her over with a shivering chill as she stands by the morphing grid, staring up at Zordon.

It’s like she can feel Trini, but she can’t explain it. Couldn’t if she tried.

Couldn’t explain the ice in her veins, moving too fast, too dangerously, for how still she’s standing.

“I had thought it might come to this,” Zordon says, sounding defeated already and Kim doesn’t even know what that means . If it’s meant to mean anything.

“What are you talking about? What’s happening?” she presses and she can feel Zack reach out to grab her arm, to pull her back, and tugs herself free so that she can get closer. “Can you stop being cryptic for once and just fucking tell us ? Is it Rita? Is she back?”

She thinks of Trini in the football stadium with blood on her shirt, looking like she’d love nothing more than to spend the rest of her days safe underground. She thinks of Trini after everything with Tommy, with Rita, was really over. Thinks of her standing in the medical bay of the ship over Kim’s bed and saying, Had me scared for a second, princess, in this voice that didn’t sound like her at all .

It’s always Trini that’s targeted with Rita, she thinks. Always Trini standing alone against her.

This time is no different.

But Zordon looks like he’d shake his head if he were corporeal and a head wasn’t all he was.

“I’m afraid that you are far off in your assumptions, Kimberly,” he says. “Trini wasn’t taken by anything. Not in the literal sense of the word, but it would appear that Rita is back.”

There’s silence as this sinks in, so long and oppressive that even Alpha-5 seems to notice it. He fidgets, sliding metal-pronged fingers together, and lets out an uneasy beeping noise.

“What do you mean she’s back?” Zack asks. “Trini killed her, didn’t she?”

And Trini had . Kim saw the body.

Buried it deep in the middle of mine, far from the crystal and where no one would find it with Tommy’s Zord--well, what remained of it after it had been dismantled by them.

Saw the purpled neck with bruises shaped like fingers and looked away. Ignored it.

Tried to talk about it with Trini a few days later, but dropped it when Trini said, Please. I can’t talk about this yet , and never really brought it up again for fear that Trini would run.

“Yes, Rita Repulsa is dead, but what remains of her life force attached itself to her power coin--the one she used to control the green ranger--when she perished. Your coins are an extension of you, the way your Zords are. They connect you to the grid wherever you may be. They are not meant to exist without a host. When the green coin lost both hosts, it saw an opportunity to latch onto the strongest and closest force and it took it.”

Kim is shivering even more violently now. She wraps her arms around her middle, presses fingers into her stomach and says, “What are you saying?”

Zordon sighs, if possible. Alpha-5 putters around the room, moving just the tiniest bit closer.

“I’m saying,” he starts, “that what remains of Rita Repulsa has been feeding off of Trini’s life force since she came into possession of it and that it may have finally gained enough power to come into possession of her .”

“I--” Zack starts, but can’t finish and it’s too much, Kim realizes with a pang.

“What can we do? How do we save her?”

Kim isn’t even really sure what any of this means, but she’s understood enough to gather that Trini is in trouble. That Trini needs help.

That she needs rescuing.

More silence. “The Rita Repulsa we knew is gone, and with it goes her power. It is unlikely that she is even half as strong as she once was while she inhabits Trini's body. She will try to dampen what is left of Trini and take complete control. But killing Rita could mean killing Trini. I am not sure there is a way for her to come out of this fight unscathed,” Zordon tells them and Zack slides an arm around Kim’s shoulders and she tries not to jump when his fingers tighten around her wrist.

.

She’s sitting somewhere. On the ground. Alone.

Another alley. Behind a restaurant. She can smell the dumpster she’s sitting beside.

Rita is gone, but Rita isn’t gone. Something inside her veins. Something is taking control.

She can’t see much. Doesn’t want to.

“No, no, no, no.”

Might be rocking back and forth.

Can’t be sure.

“What do you want ?”

And there Rita is. Smelling of death and coming closer. Walking down the alley towards her.

Gliding. Choppy movements. Closer still.

“You killed me. I want to return the favor.”

Trini says it. She’s certain of it. But it’s Rita’s answer all the same.

And Rita is gone again.

The something in her veins is her armor, sliding up her arms and down her legs and covering her face. Trying to protect her from something that’s not there.

It’s hot. Constricting.

Doesn’t recall trying to morph.

Yet here she is.

There are explosions in her head, behind her eyes. Sounds like Goldar crushing in on her Zord.

Like Goldar smashing buildings or Tommy cracking plaster over Jason’s head.

Kim’s body hitting the pavement.

Can’t fucking breathe.

.

Trini killed her .

For some reason, it takes four months and this phrase from Zack for it to really hit Kim what’s happened here. How Trini was able to save all of them, to stop her.

She doesn’t remember much. Remembers before. Remembers after.

Thinks she can just barely recall Jason falling, Billy being pushed back by Tommy in that green armor, Zack giving him a good enough fight and then screaming as his leg was broken.

Briefly recalls Tommy saying, Your turn, Pink, and the way it had felt to be kicked that far backwards. Right in the chest.

But then, nothing. Just waking up in Trini’s arms in the middle of the ruined street. Trini saying, It’s over now. You’re okay, you’re okay , and believing her.

Believing every word.

They’d asked how she’d done it. Why she’d come back when she’d dropped them, disengaged from the group entirely once things started to fall apart thanks to Tommy’s attacks both in and out of the armor. When he’d turned them all against each other and it had been much to handle and she’d run. They ask why she ran in the first place.

That’s what I do, she’d said after. Then, I’m sorry.

And Kim had pressed into her. Billy had too. And Jason said, Just try to run slow enough that we can keep up next time, yeah?

But Trini never had a good answer for why she came back and they hadn’t really needed one anyway. Because they’re a team. Because if Rita Repulsa comes back and controls someone twice as powerful as all of them combined and conditions him to destroy everything they’ve built, you come back.

You save your teammates.

You fight. You die, if you have to.

Logically, Kim’s mind had made the connection that Rita’s power source had to have been cut off for Tommy to have a blank slate the way he did. For his memory to be wiped so completely that he had no clue what he was even doing in Angel Grove, let alone the middle of the street.

She just hadn’t known it had involved all of this.

.

Jason arrives with Billy in tow and there’s nothing new to say, no new information that will change what’s already been put into motion.

Zordon says, “Find her. Try to bring her back over. Try to save her, but if you cannot--” like she’s some sort of lost cause or something, like she’s gone dark completely and she’s not even Trini anymore.

But none of them seem to know where to start.

“Zack, why don’t you and I go back downtown where you last saw her?” Jason suggests, and he looks exhausted. The sun is beginning to go down and Kim watches it instead of the boys, tries to remember the way Trini sounded on the phone earlier--so light and carefree.

All of this lightyears away and still hours away from crashing down.

“Where do you want me, Jase?” Billy asks, sounding eager to help. Eager to fix this.

Jason’s eyes dart to Kim. She can feel it, but she doesn’t look.

“Why don’t you try our house?” he says and Billy’s nod is eager.

.

She’s going somewhere. Doesn’t know where.

People are pointing. She can hear them talking.

Doesn’t care.

“This day keeps getting weirder.”

Stops. Turns.

And it’s Tommy again.

Tommy again always.

She isn’t herself. Not anymore. She can feel the edges of her armor burning green, the color spiking up around her hands and she’s shaking when she steps towards him.

Tommy takes a frightened step back.

And then he’s lifting. Feet off the ground. Grabbing at his throat. He can’t breathe either.

“Stop! Le-Let me go! What are you doing?”

Voice thick. Can’t talk.

Panic spikes under her skin.

“I’m not…”

Rita is beside her. Teeth sharp. Smiling. Rita is choking Tommy, hand around his throat . Rita gripping his arm, snapping the bone under the skin and making Tommy scream.

“Stop!”

She’s shouting. Loud. Armor dampening the noise.

Not Rita.

She’s choking Tommy. It’s her hand around his neck.

“You first,” Rita says, laughing. Gone again.

She drops him.

She runs.

.

Wally Cleaver: keep me posted pls

Taylor Slow: deep breaths, girl. we’ll find her.

Mother Dearest: Call me. Now.

.

There’s no point in texting Trini but she does it anyway. Stares at her open message with her for the longest time as Billy drives them to the house.

Her mom had been angry on the phone, her tone tinged with the faintest hints of worry. Kim remembers too late, too long after the initial, “Where did you go?” that she’s greeted with that she left her mom at the grocery store and never even texted her an excuse.

She manages to keep the call under five minutes somehow and then stares at Trini’s contact picture--this dorky thing she’d snapped and then edited herself out of one evening where Trini is scowling into the camera.

Kim’s last message went unread. Just says, don’t hit Zack too hard, okay? let me kno if you want me to come over later.

She sends another.

Trini, answer me. Where are you? Please just answer.

It’s probably the most effort she’s put into texting Trini in months because she knows how much it gets under Trini’s skin that she never capitalizes, that she doesn’t punctuate correctly, and she loves to make Trini squirm.

But now she just wants Trini home.

“We’ll find her,” Billy says when he parks his mom’s van. “She’s going to be fine.”

He lets the engine idle as he unbuckles and Kim just sits there. Presses her feet flat into the plush car mat beneath her shoes. “How do you know?”

Billy doesn’t have an answer for that and one of the reasons she loves him so much is because he never makes one up when he runs out of words.

.

Trini’s not home either. Obviously.

Kim sits on her bed for a minute or two. Looks around the room at the posters on the walls in frames she picked out--because At some point you get too old to have posters on your walls outside of frames, Trini . Looks at the pretty, yellow color Zack picked out for her and then helped her slather on the walls that first Saturday in the house.

Trini didn’t make her bed and the covers are in disarray, thrashed around as if she’d had a nightmare the night before. Kim curls her fingers around the edge of the blankets and tugs one of Trini’s patented beanies from under the pillow on the side of the bed she always occupies.

Puts it on.

She can hear Billy downstairs, walking around and talking to Jason on the phone.

Saying, “We can run by the school, maybe? Check around by the docks while we’re at it.”

Then, “How do you know it was her? I mean, no...She doesn’t like Tommy. But try to kill him?”

Normally, this would be easy. She can sense the others. They can sense her.

But somehow this is different, more like when Rita had first come to town, before they’d figured out what any of this destiny crap really meant. When the only sign she was there were some weird stories on the news, a police officer’s funeral, and this very thick, very oppressive feeling that sort of just took up in the heart of the town.

It’s nearly as bad as that. Not quite.

She can still feel some semblance of the dark though where she can usually feel Trini, just on the outskirts of her mind. It’s replacing that distantly lost feeling that’s usually there, the occasional spike of adrenaline that usually accompanies occupying the same space as one another. The hammering of her heartbeat and fear and lust tangled up together when Kim had been on top of her, when Trini had been moving beneath her, hand under her shirt.

“Come on, Trini,” she whispers without meaning to.

Tries to think of where else she could be, where else would have some sort of meaningful background perfect for hiding away.

And then she realizes.

.

She’s in her old bedroom.

Doesn’t know why. Doesn’t know how she got there. Rocking on the floor.

She can feel herself slipping away.

Armor retreating because it can’t protect her anyway. Not from this.

Bombs going off in her head. Bursts of sound in her ears.

Holds her breath. Tries to hold on.

Rita beside her. Rita on the ceiling. Rita pushing her into the fucking wall.

Rita in her ear saying, “My turn.”

And then nothing.

Darkness again.

.

Billy is easy to leave behind, though it leaves Kim’s heart beating out a steady stream of heady guilt as she makes her way across those few streets to the Ortiz-Kwan residence.

The sky is orange now, tinged with pink and the streetlamps are starting to flicker on, but there’s nobody home. No lights on in the living room and no cars parked in the driveway. Kim doesn’t know how to pick locks, but she knows how to force doors open.

Her super strength is certainly an added bonus.

She doesn’t turn on any lights, just steps inside and closes the door behind herself as quietly as she can manage. The house feels sick and empty, like something sick is fading distantly away. Dying in one of the upstairs rooms.

At the foot of the stairs, she closes her eyes, pricks her ears for any noises outside of normal house-settling ones. Maybe she’s expecting more of a fight or for it to be more difficult than it is, but she can hear some creaking upstairs that shouldn’t be happening.

Her legs feel weak, but she manages the journey.

At Trini’s old bedroom door, she hesitates for a moment, the hallway silent and full of shadows. Kim doesn’t know what she’d expected. Trini waiting for her downstairs, normal and asking where she’s been all day, perhaps. Welcoming her with careful hands and tentative lips that turn hungry after a kiss or two.

She opens the door and Trini is standing by the window with her back to her.

There’s an edge of relief in her chest when she sees her there, standing so still. She’d thought she might be here, thought she might return to the place where Rita first cornered her if this is really about Rita after all.

Like it always is.

Her armor buzzes under her skin, dying to come out, and Kim lets her hands tremble.

Lets herself be frightened.

Says, “Thought I might find you here.”

“Pink Ranger,” Trini says, shrouded in darkness across the room, and Kim’s stomach bottoms out at the phrase, at the way it sounds like Trini still but comes out with Rita’s timbre. Comes out with her revulsion and hatred and bloodlust . “ I thought it would be you who would find her here.”

Kim takes a step forward before she can really decide to, more because her body is so accustomed by now to immediately going to Trini. To just falling into her.

Because Trini is her teammate, her best friend, and maybe she’s taken what Trini is going through for granted. Maybe she didn’t help anything. Maybe she could have made it easier for Trini to come to her with issues like these so it wouldn’t--

(Because she could have held Trini’s hands in her own after Tommy and said, Trini, please, listen to me .

She could have easily said, This isn’t your fault, this isn’t your cross to bear alone. I can help you, I can help , or...)

And it’s only now that she sees this Trini, the Trini who carries those battles with Rita with her even in her sleep and Kim has failed her entirely, hasn’t she?

“Perfect place for her to die, don’t you think?” The voice, the words, raise the hairs on the back of Kim’s neck and she fights the urge to shiver. “The place where I should have killed her that first time.”

“Who am I talking to?” Kim asks, but she knows the answer. Of course she does. She can feel it in every single hair that’s raised on her body.

Something like a mallet hits her in the chest and she’s being thrown across the room, slamming into the wall and sliding down to the floor. Trini is in front of her in a moment, swimming in Kim’s vision, her eyes dark and murderous and flashing green and gold.

“You know exactly who you’re talking to.”

“Rita,” Kim spits out, but she can’t look at Trini when she says it. Looks away.

And then a hand is wrapping around her throat, tugging her back up to her feet. Trini lets out a laugh that Kim has heard before--that echoes in her dreams sometimes--and she says, “Did you think it would be easy? Fighting me in your lover’s body?”

Kim’s eyes rove over Trini’s face, searching for something inside of her that can recognize what she’s doing. “Stop,” she manages and struggles a little to free herself, gasps because Trini is strong , her fingers a firm vice grip on her neck.

Trini is strong and this is how she’d killed the real Rita. This is how she fed that stupid coin long enough to bring her back in one form or another.

She mumbles a quiet, “Sorry,” and then kicks Trini in the knee so that she’s dropped to the floor.

It’s a stiff movement, held back a good deal because she doesn’t want to hurt her. Trini catches the punch she throws and becomes so preoccupied in squeezing it to break it that Kim is able to connect her knee to Trini’s stomach and drop her to the ground.

She’s fought Trini before. She’s duked it out in the pit and thrown punches, been punched, but it was never like this. Nothing could have prepared her for a fight like this.

“Did you know your lover was hiding something from you?” Trini-- Rita --taunts from the floor. “Did you know she was hiding me? That she was keeping me from you?”

Kim throws another punch and Trini rolls out of the way just in time, swiveling gracefully back to her feet.

“You don’t make her happy, Pink,” Rita tries next. “Not happy enough to forget me. And for months I fed on that unhappiness, fed on her insecurities. Every moment where she wasn’t enough, where you weren’t enough.”

Kim sweeps a leg out, tries to knock Rita off Trini’s feet again--as confusing as the thought seems--and wants the boys to figure it out. Wants them to come knocking or for Trini’s parents to arrive home so that this could--

So she could have the upperhand.

“I don’t need my body to kill you. This one is slower and weaker than I was, but it will do just fine.”

She’s trying not to listen. Trying not to think about all the things Trini has been through in the past year or so. Longer, maybe. Tries not to think of that green power coin, taking in all those moments where she didn’t feel like enough. Leeching off of her like some sort of parasite.

“I had someone like you once. Just like your precious Yellow Ranger, I was. An outsider. Different. Such an easy, easy target. So thoughtless and eager in my devotion,” Rita says and she punches Kim in the face.

Makes her swear and spit out some blood a second later. And then another burst of energy comes slamming out of Trini’s body and shoves Kim into the wall. Hard.

She feels it crack beneath her.

“But he was a failure. Just like you. Turned against me with Zordon and the others. But I made him pay for it.” Trini is crossing the room now in swift movements that aren’t her own. “I’ll make you pay, too, Pink.”

Her skin is sallow somehow, looking sick and she’s grinning like it hurts.

Kim moves her tongue uncomfortably in her mouth, swirling some of that blood against the backs of her teeth. “I would never turn on her,” she says, the words sounding wet and tired. “You’ll have to kill me, Rita. I’m not leaving. That’s a promise.”

She quirks an eyebrow and laughs. “A promise? How trite. You’ve left her alone against me three times. You let her kill me. Let her feed me. Let her bring me back. And now you’ll never leave? Tell me, Pink; what’s your promise worth?”

Kim’s feet are dangling above the floor and she presses her heels back into the wall as Trini comes closer, as that hand wraps around her neck again.

“You can’t even make her feel she belongs,” Trini says with a scowl. “What good are you?”

“I’m not leaving her, Rita. I let her down. We all did. I should have been there for her, should have listened or made her talk. Made her belong. Loved her the way she deserves. I…” She swallows as well as she can, tries not to cry. Tries not to look at Trini in front of her. “I--I’m not leaving her now. Not again. If you’re going to kill Trini, then take me with her. Please .”

She gasps this last part out, the air beginning to escape her lungs and she feels that hand tighten around her neck. The same hand she’s had in her hair, under her shirt, holding hers.

“That can be arranged,” Trini says.

Trini who she loves, who she loves more than she ever thought herself capable of. Trini who she won’t ever leave is about to kill her.

She closes her eyes in anticipation and then opens them back up, wants to look at Trini when she goes, even if it’s not Trini at all.

“At least--” She chokes, gags, and never gets the rest of it out.

Wants to say that she’s glad to be looking at Trini when she goes.

Puts thoughts of the boys finding her like this, of Trini inside that body still, fighting to get out, far behind her.

Reaches up a hand to join Trini’s around her throat and gasps for air just once.

And then--

She falls to the floor on her knees, struggling to get her breath back.

When the room stops spinning, when she can look again, she sees Trini by the window and she’s--

Shaking .

Crying out, “ No ! No! Stop !”

Kim scrambles to her feet and takes a step forward, saying, “Trini?” because that hadn’t sounded like Rita. Not at all.

She keeps shaking. Keeps trembling, fingers clawing at her head and she says, “Get out !” just once before she stills completely.

It’s not silly to be scared, Kim tells herself. To not want to go any closer, but she manages it somehow. Sinks to the floorboards three feet away and says, “Trini?” again as quietly as she can manage.

Trini’s face is turned away, her fingers still firm in her hair and she’s quiet for a moment before whispering, “She loves you.”

Kim is certain she’s heard this wrong and her throat is bruised, her head dizzy. “What?”

“This silly girl loves you so ardently, her heart reeks of it.” She looks up, eyes narrowed. Still murderous, still angry. Still alone. “She won’t let me kill you.”

“Is she in there?” Kim asks. “Can she hear me?”

Her voice sounds terrified. Eager and shaky and she resists the urge to reach out and grab hold of Trini’s wrist because, even if she is in there, so is Rita. And Rita is in control right now.

And it’s Rita, she thinks, that is on her feet in an instant, raising her fists. It’s Rita who hits her and it’s Rtia that knocks her backwards.

Knocks her out.

.

Kimberly .

She’s trying to yell, trying to fight, but she’s certain she can’t manage it. Everything feel slowed down, like she’s stuck in quicksand or mud or worse. Like she can’t move her feet or her legs.

But she is moving. Rita is moving her.

They’re downtown now. Not in her old bedroom. Downtown.

Right by the crystal.

“Do you feel that?”

It’s her voice, but it sounds distant. She’s not the one saying this.

“Do you feel it?”

But she does. She can feel the crystal in the ground, that glimmer of light that it’s igniting in her chest just beyond the darkness. Like she can move her feet just the slightest bit.

“It’s making you stronger.”

She imagines it would--makes her feel light and ready, but like she can’t get to her arms, still can’t control herself.

“Making me stronger.”

And she feels that, too. Feels Rita at the reigns, moving her towards the rebuilt Krispy Kreme. Feels Rita’s strength pushing in on where her chest should be.

“Strong enough to kill you.”

Her hand is moving, but she’s not controlling it. It’s tugging out her coin-- her coin. The yellow one and flipping it around in her fingers.

“You don’t want to miss this one, Yellow.”

And then those fingers, that hand, forms a fist around the coin. And squeeze .

.

“Kimberly? Kimberly?”

It’s Billy’s voice that wakes her, but it’s Zack who’s shaking her, Jason who is running fingers through her hair, brushing a thumb over the bruise swelling on her cheekbone.

They’re still in Trini’s old bedroom and she’s half lying on the floor, half lying on Jason’s lap, and it’s still dark--the only light coming in through the window from the streetlamps outside.

She can hear herself mumbling something and it takes her a second to realize that it’s Trini’s name, that she’s asking for her, asking where she went.

“She’s not here,” Zack is saying. “She’s not here. What happened? What did this?”

“It was Rita,” she says and she’s being pulled upright by one of them.

Billy is inspecting her face, shining the light from his phone into her pupils. She follows his fingers with her eyes, trying not to wince at the pain in her head that blossoms at the sudden pupil dilation.

“She’s...I don’t know...She’s possessing Trini through that coin, I think. Feeding off of her.”

It’s what Zordon said, but it’s like it’s just now dawning on them all what this means.

“Why? What does she want?” Jason’s voice sound as shaky and terrified as she feels and she looks up at him and shakes her head.

“I--” She swallows, thinks of Trini inside there, too. Fighting back. Trying to regain control. “I think she’s going to kill her. I think she’s going to take her over for good.”

.

It’s Billy’s idea to go to the crystal after Trini’s bedroom. Jason had suggested the docks, wondering if perhaps Rita was retracing her steps from those first encounters, if that would be her next stop.

The thought had made Kim uncomfortable and queasy, made her grab Billy’s hand in hers at the thought of returning there for the first time in two years--since they’d very nearly lost Billy for good.

“The crystal is the source of life, though,” Billy says. “If she’s trying to take control, she’s going to need a lot of power, right? Like a recharge.”

So they go downtown.

The streets are empty and Kim realizes, walking between the boys, that she has no idea what time it is. How much time has passed since this morning.

It feels like it’s been months or possibly years since she’d been kissing Trini at the door of her and Jason’s house.

“Do we morph?” Zack asks and Kim can see the bright neon sign of the Krispy Kreme just ahead. “Like...what’s the protocol here? Was she in her armor?”

“No,” Kim says, because she hadn’t been. She’d just been Trini. Trini in the same clothes she must have been wearing when they spoke on the phone earlier. “She wasn’t.”

“I don’t understand--why now?” Billy says and he’s still holding Kim’s hand in his.

“What do you mean?” Jason asks.

“She’s had that coin since she killed Rita, right? That’s what Zordon said, anyway. That means...It’s been feeding off of her for four months. Why activate now?”

Kim thinks of Rita’s-- Trini’s --hand around her throat and feels like she might be sick right there in the middle of the sidewalk.

An older couple passes them walking their dog, talking hurriedly amongst themselves about something that seems to have them spooked. Even the dog seems on edge, whimpering a little, and Kim wonders if it’s Trini--if she’s up by the building right now and--

Billy squeezes her hand.

Jason doesn’t seem to know, and neither does Zack. They look between each other and Billy and Kim leans against Jason’s arm, just to feel his warm skin against hers.

“Something must have happened to trigger it, right?” Billy asks. “Like...I don’t know, actually. What could have triggered it?”

She’s not sure, but she’s fairly certain he throws a look her way and she wonders if it’s an implication. Wonders if he knows about last night. The party, on the porch. This morning and all those times in the past few weeks that Kim has very nearly pounced on Trini for doing something as simple as looking at her.

How much she’s fought herself because the timing never seemed right, never seemed good enough to risk everything--their friendship, the fate of the world, the dynamic of their team--even when she’d been certain she’s never wanted someone the way she wants Trini.

Even when she’d been surprised because she hadn’t known she could love someone like this.

“Why don’t we just focus on making sure she doesn’t die tonight and then we can ask about the specifics of why Rita decided now was the perfect time to take control?”

Zack doesn’t sound angry. Doesn’t sound bitter. Just worried. Anxious.

They’re less than a block away now and they’re not moving quickly enough, Kim is certain of it.

She imagines them reaching the Krispy Kreme only to find Trini’s body on the ground, lying in the gutter. Lifeless.

And then she’s running.

She can hear the boys behind her.

Jason saying, “Kimberly!”

But she doesn’t stop. She can feel her armor begging to come out, but she keeps it down.

Trini is there, standing by the store, and she has her back to Kim but she’d recognize her anywhere. Anyplace.

Anytime.

She wants to yell for her, wants to say her name, but she just stops running and she can hear the boys’ thundering footsteps behind her as they catch up.

The building is still roped off, still wrapped in caution tape, after another near collapse to the structure during Tommy’s attack. The crystal was never unearthed, though, and they’d done a thorough job of smashing down dirt on top of it the time before that. Still, it’s enough.

Kim can feel energy pulsing through the ground from where it’s buried, vibrating up through the soles of her shoes and making her muscles tremble.

There’s maybe twenty feet of distance between them, but she can see Trini’s arm outstretched, holding something in her fist, and she can hear her as she says, “So you brought backup? How charming.”

“What are you doing?” Zack bellows and Kim can feel Billy brushing against her shoulder as he comes to a stop.

“Trini?” Billy says, and then Trini-- Rita --lets out a loud cackle that makes all of them stop cold.

“Oh, she’s in here,” Trini says. “For now.”

And she turns around.

Kim presses her palms flat to her thighs and takes a step forward, shaking and exhausted and waiting. Waiting for something she can do.

“Please,” she starts and Trini lets out another blood-chilling laugh.

“Begging won’t save her.”

Her fist is still outstretched and Kim can see that she’s clenching it--that her knuckles are white from the effort. Like she’s trying to crush something.

“We’re not going to let you kill her!” Jason cuts in and he’s moving forward, trying to get to Trini, but Kim stops him with an arm across his chest to keep him from taking another step.

Another laugh. “Silly boy. Thinking you have a choice.”

Her fist, the clenched one, tightens and then Trini screams. Trini, not Rita.

Trini lets out a pained cry and stumbles over a little and Kim moves forward. This time, it’s Jason who stops her .

His hand warm around her upper arm. Holding her back.

In a moment, Rita is back on her feet and she says, “You’ll feel it when she goes. When I’ve crushed her coin and cut her from your team entirely. When I’ve broken her body and sucked out every last grain of her miserable life, you will never stop feeling it. And then I will kill you, too. Every one of you. And it’ll be my eyes--dear Yellow’s eyes--that you see last before you go”

She’s crying. Trini is. Rita is fine, her voice cold. Her voice triumphant.

She squeezes again and Trini cries out.

“We have to stop her,” Zack is saying, but none of them know how.

None of them can think of a way to stop her without hurting Trini in the process.

Kim steps forward, wrenches her arm free so she can. “Trini,” she starts, and she can hear the tremble in her voice. “Please.”

Trini’s smiling. Says, “Fool,” in this tired, choppy way. As if the connection is fading. “It’s too late.”

Kim shakes her head. “Trini, you’re in there. You’re in there, too.” She takes another step forward and her body is aching, her eyes exhausted, and her hands are trembling as she fights the urge to reach out and pull Trini into her arms.

She feels so sick, like she’s still teetering on the brink of throwing up and she reaches up to tug the beanie she’s wearing--Trini’s beanie--down over her ears.

“Wake up,” she hears herself whisper. “Come back to me.”

Something comes across Trini’s face then, in her eyes, as if she’s coming back, coming awake.

Taking control.

And then it’s quickly suffocated again.

“You know,” Trini says and she’s not Trini anymore--she’s Rita and she’s smiling, “As much as I’d love to kill your lover in front of your friends, I think the audience is perhaps a bit too distracting.”

Her hand juts out suddenly and fingers grip tight into the collar of Kim’s shirt--the one she stole from Trini a year ago because it smelled like her, snuck it out in her backpack after doing their homework together--and the boys are loud behind her.

Shouting for her.

Trying to get to her.

But it doesn’t matter.

Trini says, “Don’t you?”

Jason comes barreling up and she can just see Trini thrust out her right hand, clenched around whatever is in it, to smash him backwards. Kim can hear him go flying back, landing against the wall of the building across the street.

“Jason!” Billy yells and Kim chokes on his name, can’t say it.

Trini smiles. Says, “That’s more like it.”

And she taps that metal bracelet on her wrist, then grips Kim’s wrist to do the same to hers.

And it’s like the wind picked up--as if it’s Rita after all and not some Rita-remains feeding off of Trini--because the street around them fades away and they’re--

.

At the mine.

They’re at the mine and Kim hits the ground.

Hard.

She cries out as her knees hit the rocks, ripping them apart and she can feel the warmth of blood pooling around the torn knee of her jeans. When she looks up, Trini is at the edge of the cliff above the ship, her hand still around that power coin. She’s leaning over a little, as if winded, and Kim wonders how close to the end this is.

How much time she has.

Because the transportation system Billy rigged up with Alpha-5 is meant to feed on your energy, to carry you from Point A to Point B and if they only made it this far, even with Kim tagging along, even with the crystal right there --

There’s not much left. Perhaps none left for the two of them in the same body, fighting over whatever remains.

The boys are nowhere to be seen and she thinks of them in the middle of the street.

Thinks of Jason. Hopes he’s okay. Knows that he will be because he always is--always has been in the past.

Even if they knew where they went--where Rita just took them somehow--it could take a while to get here. Especially if they make it to the point in the ship they’re meant to once they figure out where they’ve gone. It could take as long as ten minutes.

And it doesn’t seem like they have that kind of time.

“No time,” she thinks Trini is mumbling. “Nothing left. Nothing left.”

Kim pushes herself to her feet carefully, slowly. Trying not to startle her.

There’s no stopping this.

“Do not test me!”

Kim stops moving and reaches out her hands, as if trying to stop Trini’s backward steps towards the edge of the cliff with just her hands. She can see Trini’s sneakers knock a couple of loose rocks back, tip them over the edge, as she stumbles to right herself.

“One more step, Pink and--”

She’s threatening her. Rita is threatening her.

She’s going to cut Trini off at the source of her powers and send her over the edge.

And Rita needs Trini to live, needs her to be the vessel she returns it, but does Trini have to be alive for that? Could she continue to live on in Trini’s body if that body is dead?

Would she just be the mangled version of her with Rita’s mind, Rita’s cold vengeance?

“Please--” Kim starts again, but Trini’s so close to the edge and she stumbles a little bit.

“I had plans to kill you, Pink, but I’ll settle for killing her in front of you for now. I’ll settle for sending your lover off the edge of this cliff and letting you hear it as her body breaks against the rocks.”

Kim is crying, but she doesn’t realize it until she feels something wet slide down her neck. She reaches up to swipe at it.

Thinks of Trini in her Zord two years ago and the heat --Goldar crushing the wings of her own Zord--and thinking, This is it . And then that second time, when Tommy had been too strong to really fight at all. When the real Rita had been laughing behind him, his Zord leveling buildings nearby, and she’d stepped forward as Jason was knocked backwards and she wasn’t used to fighting without Trini fighting behind her and it had been so easy to just be knocked back too.

“She’s fading,” Rita says and she’s crushing that coin again. Kim can see the yellow glint in her hand, shining a little in the moonlight. “I can feel her flickering out. She’s stopped fighting. You’ve failed .”

Kim wishes words could fix this. Wish she could talk her away from the edge. Wishes she’d done something more to prevent this from even happening.

She should have asked more, checked in more. She should have called or told Trini what she means to her. That’s she’s not alone.

That she loves her.

This is her fault.

All of them. They let her down. And she wishes words could fix this but she’s positive they won’t.

“Take me instead,” Kim hears herself saying. “Please...If you’re going to kill someone, kill me. I’m just as good. I’m just as strong. You can have my body. Take me.”

Rita laughs. Throws Trini’s head back and laughs. “I am afraid you’re entirely missing the point.”

“Please, don’t, I…” She wants to say that it would kill her, too, if Trini died, but she supposes that would just feed into the point. Feed into what Rita is planning to do.

She takes another step forward. “Trini, please...Please...You can fight this.”

Rita is silent, stepping closer to the edge, but she thinks there’s fear in her eyes and it’s not entirely Trini. It’s Rita, too.

Her body jerks forward suddenly. Violently. And then again to the side.

Rita is frightened. Her eyes wide in panic, in shock.

Trini is fighting back again, has found some strength inside after all.

Kim feels relief flood through her and she tries to tamp it down, tries to gain control. “Don’t give up, Trini,” she says. “Don’t give in. Fight it. Fight her .”

“Fight me? I’ve already won!” Rita roars this and she’s stepping forward--back in control--to wrap her free hand around Kim’s throat again and it’s Rita, she knows, because she dreamt this.

(Talked about it with Trini once. That dream Zordon had given them all.

Standing in the middle of the desolate street with her family disintegrating behind her, Rita’s hand wrapped around her throat. Feeling her life beginning to slip away.

She remembers Trini shaking her head in the darkness of Kim’s bedroom, on the other side of the bed, and tugging the blankets to her chin.

Quiet for a long while when Kim asked, What did you see?

Because she thought she knew the answer. Thought she’d say what the boys said--describe a vision so like her own.

But, after a long minute, Trini said, I was at the cliffs. I saw you. I saw her choking you. Killing you.

And it had been shocking, to say the least. To hear this from her best friend a year after that first fight.

After a moment, Trini had added an, I think I was Rita .

And Kim made a joke out of it. Thanked Trini for not killing her or something and they never talked about it again.

Now, she wishes they had.)

“I will always win,” Rita says and Kim has time to think, This is it. Just like before.

It’s over.

She’s going to die now.

And, this time, there won’t be some sort of fiery metamorphosis or Trini coming to take out Tommy to get her out of it.

Except, maybe--

Because it doesn’t come. Instead, she’s released a second time and thrown backwards so that she lands on the ground painfully again, hands reaching down to brace herself and pebbles cut into her palms.

When she looks up, Trini is standing there, chest heaving as she sucks in air and then looks over at her hand where that yellow power coin is resting. Hands trembling, looking weighed down by something heavy. As if someone is fighting every single movement.

“Trini?” she says, but Trini just says, “ No .”

And then she slips it away, digs that green power coin out of her pocket instead. Holds it in the hand she’d had the yellow one in moments before.

Kim is frozen in place, stunned into inaction--but what can she do ?

Trini holds the power coin in her hand and then looks up at Kim and she can see in Trini’s eyes that it’s actually her. She’s in there.

Trini smiles a little, small and scared and there’s some sort of energy buzzing between them, everything they’ve wanted to do and say and didn’t have the time moving around them in the wind.  “Third time’s the charm, right?” She smiles just the slightest bit, so careless, like she doesn’t care about getting out of this anymore. “Thank you for trying, Kim.”

Kim can barely hear her over the pounding in her head, of her heart, as if she’s in a long tunnel and she watches as Trini takes the coin into her hand and squeezes .

She remembers that first night at the mine, when Zack had been wielding that pickaxe and someone had told him not to break those coins.

But he couldn’t anyway. The pick had rebounded. Too strong to be crushed.

She has time to think, This won’t work .

She has time to think, No, not like this .

That Rita had planned to kill her by crushing the power coin she’d been originally linked to and cutting her away from her powers. Perhaps throwing her off the cliff then, letting the fall do her in.

But this coin is linked to her, too, and it may kill Rita for good but it might take Trini with her.

Might not be any better.

Might not fix anything without killing her first anyway.

Trini is watching her, eyes sad, eyes wide and she’s bent over in pain, trembling from the effort.

“Trini, no!” Kim yells and she’s scrambling to her feet, trying to get to her, trying to stop this but--

She’s too late.

The power coin is dust in Trini’s hand, falling to the rocks below and spreading out in the wind.

Scattering.

And Trini is falling, tipping off the edge of the cliff and disappearing into the darkness.

..

Chapter Text

..

She’s in a room and it’s dark and she’s not sure what’s happening but she thinks she’s wet.

Thinks she can hear someone crying, someone saying her name over and over again like they’ve mistaken it for a prayer, or the answer to a question they’ve long since forgotten how to ask.

Zordon is there. She’s sure of it. She can see him--his whole body--in front of her, stepping closer through the darkness and for a moment she thinks it might be Jason because he’s in his armor, but then he’s saying, Your time is far from finished.

And that’s not Jason, of course. Jason is never so serious, so dark.

She wants to ask how he knows this--how he got out of the wall in the first place--but also wants desperately to give into the darkness surrounding them. When she opens her mouth, water falls out, drenching her further and she sputters for air and finds none.

But Zordon must sense this, says, Do not stop fighting. They cannot lose another member of their team. Fight this. You aren’t finished yet.

Warm hands are on her cheeks and she thinks someone is pressing in on her chest repeatedly. Singing Dancing Queen under their breath.

Like listening to it play from another room.

She looks up from the shadows and Zordon is further away. Slipping into the furthest corners of wherever she is.

Go back, she hears him saying, Wake up . Go back to them.

And someone else is saying, “Come on, come on ,” and there’s something soft on her lips, someone tilting her head back.

Breathing for her.

She can taste blood on her lips, water in her mouth.

She hears a sob. Counts ten more compressions against her chest.

And then she’s choking, coughing the water out of her lungs and Zordon is gone.

Above her is the wall of water, hanging above and dripping down and she catches her breath as warm arms circle her and someone says, “Back up, give her space.”

The warmth leaves and she’s alone. Shivering. Trying to sit up.

Her eyes are blurry and it takes a while--too long--to realize that she’s in the cave with them. That she must have fallen down, into the water, and that she didn’t die by crushing that coin after all.

Her mouth feels heavy and numb, like her lips aren’t moving right, and her throat is raw, but she thinks she’s saying, “Kim, Kimberly, I have to--”

And then those arms are back and steady, lips pressed to her forehead.

Kim’s voice saying, “Stupid. You’re so stupid. Don’t you ever do that to me again.”

Her eyes are unfocused, vision blurry, and everything in her feels like she should have after that train hit them two years ago.

But she can see Kim--bruises around her neck, nose swollen, one of her lips split open.

She feels herself smile, drop her weight against Kim’s arms tiredly, and reach up with shaky hands to cup her jaw, to run her thumb over Kim’s lip to wipe away some of the blood that’s smeared there. “Not so fun, is it?” she croaks and Kim lets out this relieved laugh, kissing Trini’s thumb.

“No,” she says. “Not even a little.”

And they’re hugging. Kim is tugging Trini into her further and breathing into her shoulder and she can hear Billy behind them.

Billy saying, “I told you. Compressions to the beat of Dancing Queen .”

Zack laughing. A sound that might be him clapping Billy on the back. “Why do I ever doubt you, Bill? Or ABBA?”

Trini opens her eyes because she needs to see them, needs to see Jason looking like her tired older brother that never gets enough sleep and Zack trying to make the most of the moment, trying to laugh. Billy looking down at her with more love than she thinks she’ll ever have earned in her lifetime.

They rush to her in a wave of excited innocence that she doesn’t think any of them have held within themselves in months. Possibly years, now. Jason’s arms around her and Kim, Zack’s hand on the small of her back, Billy exhaling a breathy laugh into the part of her hair.

Rita is gone. She feels light in a way she hasn’t since before that first power coin, that first night--since Rita’s hands around her neck and then Tommy . Feels the boys around her--Zack’s heartbeat against her arm, Jason’s eyes bright and green as he looks at her, Billy shuffling his knees to get closer to them all.

“How?” she asks and then the images return to her--crushing that coin into dust (and she hadn’t known that was possible) and Kim, always Kim , saying all the right things.

Kim presses a kiss into Trini’s hair. “You fought,” she says. “You fought her. You won.”

.

The boys move her to the medical bay, where Alpha-5 whirs around her nervously, checking her vitals on machines no one but Billy understands.

“We were so worried about you, Trini,” Billy tells her, his arms loose around her shoulders.

Zack ruffles her hair. “That’s the last time I let you punch me,” he says, “especially if it’s gonna send you off the deep end.”

Eventually, Jason pulls them off, says something about her needing space, Alpha-5 needing room to work,and then they stand in the corner while Zordon looks down at them from the wall. He doesn’t pull Kim away, though. Seems to know better.

She sits on the edge of the bed and holds Trini’s hand, running a thumb along Trini’s knuckles like she can’t believe she’s there.

“Master Trini,” Alpha beeps happily and he’s messing with a lot of little machines around her. “The others were worried about you.”

“You fought well,” Zordon tells her, the wall pulsing as he says it.

And she’s not sure if he’s talking about the fight with Rita, or the room. The darkness.

The way she was brought back, but she feels Kim’s careful, cold fingertips press under the collar of her shirt and against the skin at the junction of her shoulder. She leans into the touch, tilts her head down to nudge Kim’s hand with her chin.

“You would do well to trust your teammates in the future, though,” he says and she wonders for a moment if he knew the whole time--if he had an idea that the green power coin had latched onto her, had been feeding off of her for that long, resurrecting Rita in whatever form it could manage. “You were never meant to be alone. And as long as you are a part of this team, you never will be.”

“I know,” she says. Means every word.

Is glad, is lucky, to be alive.

.

Phone 13h ago

Mom

Missed Call & Voicemail (3)

.

She calls her mom back from the bed she’s in, lets Kim press into her side as she says, “I’m sorry, Mom,” into the phone.

Her mom says a lot. Most of it is made up of apologies.

Trini accepts them. Smiles. Tries not to cry.

Doesn’t think about the storm that had been building in her for the last two years, finally erupting when she’d run into her mom at the pharmacy of all places. All of those insecurities crashing into her like wave after wave. And now it’s passed in a way she never thought it would.

Her brothers come on the phone. Say, “Trini! I passed my swimming evaluation!” and, “When are you coming home?”

She smiles and lets herself cry. Answers all the questions she can manage.

Her mom, when she goes to hang up, says, “I love you so much, mija,” and Kim presses a warm hand into the side of her face, brings Trini close enough to kiss her forehead as Trini says, “I love you too, Mom.”

There’s a lot they need to discuss still. A lot of time that will need to pass before Trini is able to forgive her for those words--all those late nights in the darkness of her bedroom thinking she’d never be good enough for her family. She’ll never forget, she doesn’t think, but this is progress.

The first progress her and her mother have made in years.

She wonders if maybe half her issues recently were because of the coin and she doesn’t miss it moving in her pocket, on her nightstand.

She never will.

.

Alpha-5 and Zordon clear her to leave a few hours later.

“It will take time for your strength to return. Defeating Rita took much from you,” Zordon says. “You’d do well to rest.”

“I’ll make sure she does,” Kim butts in and there’s a jacket--Zack’s--being pressed over Trini’s shoulders.

She burrows into it.

And she is weak, her legs shaky, when she stands, but it doesn’t matter either way. Kim is there to support half her weight.

Jason carries her on his back because it’s not a good idea to transport her when she’s weak like this--when she might not make it--and Kim climbs right beside them, Billy and Zack close behind and they do it like they do everything.

Together.

.

They set her up on the couch, the sun just beginning to peak up past the houses adjacent. Jason puts too many blankets on her, but she lets it slide since it’s a cooler morning.

He says, “We’ll buy AC units soon,” on his way to the kitchen, handing her the remote.

Billy says, “There’s probably nothing on this early,” from where he’s sitting cross-legged on the floor and she hands the remote over so he can find an old rerun of Sesame Street .

Zack is in the kitchen, rifling through their fridge from the sound of it. She can’t hear all of what he’s saying to Jason, but she definitely hears, “Why do you guys have so many avocados?”

Kim comes puttering back in with a bowl of cereal and mostly-charred bacon she must have made and Trini scoots so she can sit on the couch with her, curl up as much as possible and feed her the particularly scorched pieces she breaks off.

It’s only twenty minutes of everyone sitting around before the boys fall asleep--Jason in the old beat-up recliner his dad dropped off last week, Zack on the floor with Billy’s arm as a pillow and Billy curled up with one of the extra blankets from the couch under his head.

“I should probably find Tommy and apologize for breaking his arm, right?” Trini whispers a little later.

Kim isn’t asleep--she can tell from her breathing--and she’s silent for a second. Then she says, “I mean...He did try to kill us, under Rita’s spell or not. I think you could probably get away with a heartfelt card. Besides, he didn’t see your face. He’s just gonna be super scared of the Yellow Power Ranger now.”

It’s not funny, but it kind of is.

Trini laughs anyway and when she gets up a little later, goes to her room to change because her clothes don’t feel right, didn’t dry correctly and she needs some space, Kim follows her.

Shuts the bedroom door behind them and then crosses the room to where Trini is standing by her closet, tugging on a clean t-shirt.

“Sure you wanna be stuck in another bedroom with me so soon?” Trini asks, making a show of smiling in order to make it seem less than what it is.

“Shut it, shorty,” Kim says and she grabs Trini by the sleeves of her shirt. They’re close and this is perfect, somehow. “You almost died. When I thought you--” She looks away and shakes her head. “Forgive me if I’m a little clingy for a while.”

Trini brushes a thumb across the skin of Kim’s arm and presses their foreheads together.

It’s possible that this is what will be her end, rather than some weird Horcux-ghost of Rita Repulsa, which seems so, so fitting. Her heart hammers in her chest, head feeling light and dizzy as she stands there with Kim’s hands on her hips.

She feels brave and wide, like her arms could stretch the entire length of this town she’s stuck in. Like there’d never be enough room for her even if she could travel the entire world. Even if she could leave.

She almost died today. Didn’t. Almost ran out of time and now she has days and years she’s not sure what to do with.

“I know we haven’t... talked and now might not be the best time, but--” Trini says, her voice so quiet she can barely hear herself, “What she was said...I do. I’m in love with you. That wasn’t some--”

Trick , she wants to say, but doesn’t.

Says instead, “But, yeah. I love you, Kim. Like...an ass-ton.”

Kim laughs and scrunches her nose, looking so perfect that Trini can just barely keep breathing. Can barely stand upright. “Are these official units of measurement we’re using?” she asks. “I’m afraid I’m not familiar.”

Trini shakes her head and says, “Shut up,” because it’s embarrassing, but Kim kisses her a second later. Kisses her firmly and slowly and it’s so much better than Trini remembers it being.

Every single time.

They could have died last night, but they didn’t, and Trini kisses her back because she’s grateful for that. So, so grateful to be alive and breathing and kissing Kimberly Hart in her bedroom.

Her hands are steady. They don’t shake even the slightest bit.

She grabs Kim’s hips and pulls her closer and Kim smiles against Trini’s lips and says, “For the record, I love you, too. Like, an ass-ton.”

Trini laughs into Kim’s mouth, kisses her impossibly harder, and she isn’t alone.

She never was.

.

Trini Ortiz-Kwan @whatsfortrinner -- 10m

Home sweet fucking home

 

Kimberly Hart @himberlykart -- 8m

@whatsfortrinner Stop trolling Twitter and come reward me for my superb spelling :*

 

Jason Scott @GrreatScott -- 5m

@himberlykart @whatsfortrinner get a room

 

Kimberly Hart @himberlykart -- 3m

@GrreatScott why? we have yours ;)

 

Zack ‘Attack’ Taylor @Zackipedia -- 3m

@GrreatScott do you guys have any chocolate milk left or nah? if not, i vote Trini goes to get it since she’s the one who nearly KILLED US ALL

 

Billy Cranston @WilliamCranston2000 -- 2m

@whatsfortrinner :)

 

Trini Ortiz-Kwan @whatsfortrinner -- 1m

There’s too many of you to link in, but you’re all the worst (except you, Billy). The rest of you nerds suck.

 

Kimberly Hart @himberlykart -- 1m

@whatsfortrinner shut up, you love us (me especially)

 

Trini Ortiz-Kwan @whatsfortrinner -- 11s

@himberlykart   The worst part is that I really, really do

...