Chapter 1: Successor
Aisha looks around the clinic, at the pale yellow walls and the simple but beautiful leather couch at the reception area. Alfie is lazily scrolling through his phone, making sure to let out a huff of annoyance every once in a while to let their mother know how pointless and time consuming him being here is. Adrian has chosen to read one of the magazines from the coffee table, his short legs pumping as he reads through what he can understand. His eyes suddenly shine at an interesting article and he taps at the back of the tabby cat on his lap.
"Griz, look!" Adrian says, as if the cat would understand him. "It says here that your tongue is like a comb so it makes it easier for you to clean yourself." He giggles and pokes Griz some more. "No wonder your kisses tickle."
Griz's only answer is to yawn, and Adrian ooh's at her tongue.
Alfie scoffs for the third time. "I literally could have just waited at the house. I didn't need to come with."
Maya is uncharacteristically slouched in her seat, eyes closed as if she were asleep. She doesn't open her eyes when she says, "I'm not letting ny eyes off you, boy. Who knows where you'll go when we're hours away from moving?"
Maya doesn't mention that Aisha didn't need to come either. She just... felt like going for some reason. Aisha stands and walks away from the hushed argument. Cacti lined on the windowsill catches her attention. She doesn't think she had seen any before. She's curious, and her hand moves before she could second guess herself.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you."
Aisha startles and looks at the woman suddenly beside her. Dark hair just past her shoulders, pristine white coat over her scrubs. Her gold name tag shines despite the hidden sun.
"Had a friend do that just because," the doctor says. Then she whispers, "It hurt like a bitch, or so she said. So just... dont."
"Sorry," Aisha sheepishly mutters.
"It's fine." Her brown eyes sweep over the only people in the reception area. "The Campbell family, right? Let me have a look at the patient."
Alfie suddenly looks interested with the arrival of the doctor. He trails behind them slowly as he blatantly checks out the older woman. Aisha rolls her eyes.
"Hot damn," Alfie says under his breath.
Aisha's eyes trail downward. She smirks and elbows her older brother. "She's married, dum-dum."
"What?" His face contorts at the ring on the doctor's finger. "That ain't right. I don't think wedding rings usually look like that."
Aisha shrugs. "Not like you have a chance anyway."
Alfie pulls at both her cheeks. "Brat."
"Becuff we' moofing!" she clarifies.
Maya's eyes turn to them. The two teenagers straighten up as soon as they feel their mother's glare on them.
"Congratulations," the doctor suddenly says. "She's pregnant."
Adrian gasps. Maya is schooling her features, but she forces a smile on her face when her little boy looks her way.
Alfie clicks his tongue and bends to tell the clueless cat, "You irresponsible girl. You didn't use protection."
"Alfonso!" Maya hisses but Alfie isn't chastised. In fact, he shoots Aisha a smug grin because he just made the pretty doctor smile with her teeth showing.
"How many kittens are there?" Maya asks.
The doctor messes around with the ultrasound for a bit, points at the shapes on the screen. "There's three of them. See?"
Aisha doesn't, and she suspects her mother only sees grey and white blobs, too, but the woman nods. Adrian is bouncing in excitement at the news of getting three more kittens. Not even Alfie has the heart to say that they probably won't keep them. The doctor and Maya talk for a bit about caring for Griz and possibly spaying her.
"Oh, we probably won't have her spayed here," Maya says when the doctor assures them that she has done numerous successful operations before. "We're moving back to my hometown."
The doctor nods in understanding. "Well, if they don't have a vet clinic, you can schedule an appointment with me over the phone." She taps at her knee three times, then two, as if it were a habit. "Be careful on your way. It's probably going to rain."
"Thank you for everything, Ma'am!" Adrian says. He beams at Griz, who is cradled in his arms. "You're going to be a mom. And I'm going to be a granpa!"
The doctor laughs, a much more impressive feat than what Alfie accomplished. When the doctor fondly rubs at Adrian's curly hair to say, "You'd make a wonderful granpa, kid," Aisha makes sure to side-eye her jealous older brother who lightly shoves her.
It does rain, thankfully when they are finally in their car on their way to Angel Grove. Adrian is pouting, now notified that they can't keep the kittens and will most likely give them away.
"And who will take care of them?"
"I will!" Adrian whines, just a few exchanges away from having a tantrum. Considering they will be stuck together in this car for hours until they get to Angel Grove, Aisha isn't looking forward to it.
"I wonder if we'll get to see the Power Rangers," Aisha says and the distraction works when Adrian goes on a tangent to discuss how cool they are.
"Don't look forward to seeing any of them," Maya says. Understandable, considering their appearance means danger is around the corner.
"Who's your favorite, Aisha?" Adrian asks."Mine's Blue."
Aisha lets her temple rest against the window as she hums in thought. "The yellow one, I guess."
Adrian's head tilts to the side. "But isn't she the one who died with the Green Ranger in that big battle?"
Aisha nods. They only ever saw it on news stations. It was terrifying. So many civilian lives were lost. No one saw the bodies, but everyone assumes that Yellow and Green died protecting who they could. No one saw them again, after all.
"What about you?" Adrian turns to their older brother. A child like him can't understand how dreadful the death of a hero is yet.
"Does it matter? They all have the same ugly alien faces."
"How would you know if they have helmets on?"
Aisha is in the passenger seat, but she can practically hear Alfie rolling his eyes. "They're not helmets, stupid."
If Aisha knew about the yellow coin that showed up in her pocket as soon as they passed the Welcome to Angel Grove! sign, if she knew what fate or whatever the Morphing Grid works with had planned for her... she would have laughed at Alfie's face for how wrong he is.
III III III III
"What the heck?" Aisha pulls out the yellow coin from her pocket. She thought she left this at home after hours of contemplating where she got it from in the first place. She tosses it into her locker, the mysterious item making a clanging sound against the metal surface.
Aisha turns from her locker to see a tall girl staring down at her. Short hair with long fringes covers half her face, her right eye completely covered. The eye that she can see is forest green, and Aisha swears she's seen this girl before. She's just older, and taller. Her hair is no longer tied up in a pony tail, and her body looks lean but strong, not the lanky form she used to have.
Aisha blinks. "Tommy?"
Tommy laughs in delight. "Ahhhyeeeshaaa!" she exclaims as she picks up the younger girl and twirls her around. Aisha is impressed at how easily Tommy does so, but at the moment she's more embarassed than anything.
"Put me down! Idiot, put me down!"
"I'm sorry," Tommy says but she's still laughing as she does as Aisha asked.
"Oh my god."
Another girl approaches them. This time Aisha easily recognizes her, and she beams. "Kat! Hey."
"You're back!" Katherine embraces Aisha, but she thankfully doesn't pick her up like Tommy did. "Oh gosh, I can't believe you're back in Angel Grove."
Aisha blushes, self-conscious at the gaze of her old friends. "I can't believe you guys remember me."
Aisha is two years younger than the two of them, but they became playmates and close friends because she lived nextto the Oliver's home while Katherine lived across the street. Moving away and leaving the two of them was difficult, keeping in touch tad more so. There just came a day when communication dulled, too busy wuth their own seperate lives to keep their connection anymore. She didn't think she'd still have friends in Angel Grove who would remember her. She was gone for five years after all.
"Of course we didn't," Katherine says before patting Aisha's head. "How could we forget our baby? You don't even look any older than before."
Aisha scowls and swats Katherine's hand away. It was a callback to all the times Aisha would be the two's daughter whenever they played house, and she doesn't appreciate that Katherine is implying how tiny Aisha still is. "When you're all old raisins and I still look fresh, you're going to be jealous of me."
Katherine laughs, pointing at Aisha as she tells Tommy. "I missed this kid."
Aisha rolls her eyes. Everyone else thought Aisha was too meek to push back, but these two knew better, and Katherine loved that about her. There's a smile on her face, though. It's nice to know that there are people who miss her. "I'm glad you two are still friends." Not a lot of childhood friends stay close when high school starts.
Tommy grins and pulls Katherine into her with an arm around her shoulders. "She'll never get rid of me. She joined the cheer squad but not even those meanie cheerleaders will do the job."
Their cheeks are almost smushed together, and Aisha watches with amusement as Katherine pushes Tommy off with a red face. "Fuck off, Oliver. I can't breathe."
"Heh, my bad."
"Oh my god," Aisha gasps. Tommy's hair got messed up by Katherine's struggling, and Aisha can now see what Tommy intentionally covered with her fringes. She moves closer to her old friend. "What happened to your eye?"
Tommy flushes, and she bashfully runs her fingers through her fringes so that they could cover the scars and her glassy eye. "It's a long story. Well, not really. Just... heavy."
Katherine's arms move to hug herself. She gives Aisha a somber smile. "How about we get a table and some food first?"
Tommy's scars are from the battle where the Yellow and Green Ranger were said to have perished, they later tell her. "I'm completely blind here now," Tommy says as she points at her right eye. "It sucks 'cause I can't pitch properly anymore, but, hey. At least I'm still alive." Tommy tries to make light of it. She always does. When Tommy's mother died, Aisha never even saw Tommy cry.
Katherine doesn't try to hide her contempt the whole time they talk about it. "Serves that Zedd or whatever that dick's name is that Pink killed him. If I had the power, I would have done the same."
"Awe, now don't say that."
Aisha has a feeling Tommy could only smile as much as she does because Katherine always made sure to show how upset she was in Tommy's behalf. In Mrs. Oliver's funeral, young Katherine forsoke keeping a pretty and dignified face and cried until her eyes swelled despite barely knowing the woman. But Aisha can still see that there were more than physical scars left by that day. She's sure Katherine can, too, which is why Aisha understands her ire.
"I'm not kidding," Katherine swears. "You could have died. Other people died. If I had power like they did, I wouldn't hesitate to do the right thing." She turns to Aisha. "You get me, right?"
There's this heat in Aisha's pocket and somehow she knows that annoying coin is there. "I don't know. What are the odds that would even happen?"
III III III III
Griz gives birth to three healthy babies without a hitch. By that time, Aisha has adjusted to being back in Angel Grove. So many things have changed, like the crater where Krispey Kreme used to be and the monument they erected in honor of those who perished. These sites, aside from Angel Grove being the Power Ranger's homebase, pulls in many tourists to the small fishing town. Though tourists have increased, Aisha can tell that their tiny population has diminished even more. It's likely that many people moved out due to the danger of being in this town.
Aisha has kids her grade that she can consider friends, but she just isn't as close to them as she is with Tommy and Katherine. At least not yet. It just kind of sucks when the people you're closest to aren't in the same grade as you.
"You have kittens?" Tommy asks as she practically bounces in her seat. Katherine isn't sitting with them. She's with the cheerleaders today.
"Oh, yeah. How did you know?" She doesn't think she ever mentioned them.
"Alfie posted on facebook that you were looking for people to adopt them."
Aisha makes a tiny 'ah' sound. Maya asked him to be in charge of finding people who would adopt while Aisha helped Adrian take care of the kittens since he was the more social sibling.
"You haven't accepted my friend request, by the way." Tommy pokes Aisha's cheek. "What's up with that?"
"I don't really go on facebook, sorry." She shrugs. "We already text. So did you wanna take one?" One of Alfie's classmates already took one for their younger sibling, so only two are left. Getting Adrian to cheer up after saying good bye to that one was a challenge, but Aisha managed.
Tommy shakes her head. "No, but I think I have a friend who needs one."
Aisha quirks a brow as she chews her bite of sandwich. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"She's been lonely. She could use the company."
"I didn't think you had other friends aside from me and Kat."
Tommy pokes her again. "Rude."
"Stop with the damn poking."
"I have friends outside of school. You'd know if you went on social media like a normal teenager. What do you do to entertain yourself?"
"T.V. and movies."
"Fair. Look, I'll text you if she says she wants it, okay?"
"Just tell Alfie." So she won't have to be the one to tell him that they only need one cat to be adopted. Saves her the trouble of talking to her brother.
"Nah. He tried hitting on me and I'd rather not give him more excuse to talk to me so soon."
Aisha almost chokes on a piece of lettuce. "Oh my God." They used to always fight but it seems Alfie no longer sees Tommy the same way he did when they were children. Puberty really did Tommy a lot of favors. "I'm so sorry that had to happen to you. That must have been traumatizing."
Tommy places a hand on her chest and wipes an imaginary tear from her eye. "Worse than when I was blinded. Every lesbian's worst fear."
Aisha smiles. It's good that Tommy can joke about it, right?
III III III III
"I can't do it. I'm not ready to say good bye."
Adrian has the two kittens in his lap, and he's staring down an unaffected Aisha. The ginger one has her amber eyes narrowed at her while the white and light orange one is just licking herself, either clueless or couldn't care less about their separation-anxious "granpa".
"I can't just give my grandchildren away," Adrian says. He gestures a hand at Griz who is curled up at the other end of the couch. "Can't you see how devastated Griz is?"
The cat, predictably, licks her own butt. "Oh, yeah, it's heart breaking," Aisha deadpans. "Come on, Adrian. You already said it was okay last night. You're being a brat."
"And you're being mean!"
"Oh my God," Aisha groans as she drags her hands over her face. She can't believe she's about to say this. She is so going to regret this. "How about we make a deal?" Adrian looks up at her with interest. She crouches so that she could be level with him. "You let Tommy's friend take one of them, give them a new loving home..." she sighs, "... and I take whoever's left."
Aisha is already the one in charge of Griz half the time. What's another cat? "Really."
Adrian wraps his short arms around Aisha's neck. It startles the kittens and they scramble away from the siblings. "Thank you, Aisha! You're the best!"
Aisha pats his back. "Yeah, yeah."
"Oh wow, sister of the year," Alfie drawls from his perch in the love seat. "You are so gonna regret that."
Shut up, she mouths at him. Someone rings their doorbell then. She makes sure to ask Adrian before going for the door, "You'll be okay?". Adrian longingly looks at the kittens playing with each other on the carpet before giving her two thumbs up and Aisha takes that as her cue.
She opens the door to a grinning Tommy, wearing her signature white and green letterman jacket and that hat with the word TOMBOY cheekily sewn on it.
"Hey, Aisha." Tommy juts a thumb at the woman behind her. "Meet Kim Hart."
The introduction was unnecessary. Of course Aisha knows about Kimberly Hart. In a small town like Angel Grove, watching the high school games was one of the few eventful things you can partake in. Kimberly was easy to notice among the other cheerleaders, and even if Aisha didn't Alfie always made sure to point out how pretty she was.
"Uh, hi. Ma'am," Aisha murmurs, maybe a tad bit wonder struck. Kimberly is no longer the adolescent she used to see. She is older, and her age only did wonders to add to her beauty. Aisha wonders if she'll ever be that pretty one day. Then she starts asking herself how the heck Tommy managed to be Kimberly's friend.
Aisha pointedly ignores the increasing heat in her pocket.
Kimberly smiles softly, and Aisha kind of understands why Tommy would prefer girls over boys. "Just Kimberly. No need to call me 'ma'am'."
"Right. Come in, go ahead."
Tommy lets Kimberly inside first, if only to shoot Aisha a dubious - and amused - look. "Was that a sexual awakening I saw? Don't worry, you're probably not her first victim."
Aisha makes sure to elbow Tommy's side. "Shut up. How are you friends with Kimberly Hart?"
Tommy is taken aback. She looks up at the ceiling as if she'll find her answer there. "I don't remember?" When Aisha only narrows her eyes, she adds, "Hey, I got blinded by alien monsters." She pouts and has the audacity flutter her eyelashes. "I probably lost some memories too."
Aisha huffs. Unfair. "Fine, keep your secrets," she mutters before following Kimberly to their living room.
It's a bit surreal to see her there, fond smile on her lips as she watches the kittens play. Alfie must be thinking of the same thing because his jaw is slack as he stares at Kimberly Hart, his childhood crush, in their house.
"Do you know which one you want?" Aisha asks.
"How about this one?" Tommy suggests, crouching opposite Kimberly to also get a better look at the kittens. "It's yellow and tiny."
Kimberly shoots her a look; the same look Maya would give Alfie whenever he would cuss.
Tommy looks appropriately chastised and shrinks into herself. "Just... Just a suggestion."
"Do they have names yet?" Kimberly asks Aisha but Adrian is the one who answers.
"Rajah and Winnie," he says, pointing at the ginger and light orange one respectively.
Kimberly seems amused by the names. "Rajah? Like the tiger in Aladdin?"
"I liked the movie," Adrian explains. "I like tigers."
Kimberly softly scratches at Rajah's chin. "Yeah, me, too." Rajah indulges in a a few more scratches before she rubs against Kimberly's shin. "Is it okay if I take Rajah home with me?"
Adrian buries half his face into the pillow he's hugging. Without saying a word, he nods. He's probably holding back tears. Aisha is so proud.
"Bye, Rajah," Adrian says with a pout when Kimberly is about to leave. "Remember that Granpa will always love you."
Kimberly is obviously confused but she doesn't bother asking. Aisha watches through the window as she leaves, unable to shake off this pull she feels towards the other woman. It's not a sudden "sexual awakening" like Tommy teases her with. It's a dull, unfamiliar longing, as if the feeling weren't hers and just passed onto her.
III III III III
"What the heck are you?"
Aisha glares at the coin in her hand. The object always materializes in Aisha's pocket even if she left it somewhere else and it's starting to freak her out. It seems to have a mind of its own because when she decided to show it to Maya, she somehow couldn't find it anymore. She only irritated her mother who still had quizzes to grade. So she went to the docks and threw it as far as she could into the sea. But she only gets as far as the local park's playground before she feels a familiar heat in her pocket come back.
She shoves it back into her pocket, has half a mind to head to the church and get the thing exorcised. "I better not be in a horror movie," she grumbles. She is not gonna be that black girl in a horror movie. No way.
The heat in her pocket intensifies and Aisha groans. "What now?" She starts feeling this pull again, and her eyes turn a different direction, as if attracted by a magnet. She stares at the road that leads to the mountain. She's suddenly overwhelmed by anxiety, and she starts feeling like she has to walk along this path.
Now, if this were a scene in a movie, Aisha would be screaming at the screen for the idiotic main character to turn around and go home instead. But Aisha isn't watching the movie, and it seems that she's the idiotic main character. Or at least the fodder who is first to die. Aisha huffs and starts walking with her hand on her phone, hoping that she's the former.
The autumn wind adds to the chill in Aisha's spine, and the dark clouds due to the sun having set does nothing to lighten the mood. Aisha is moving by pure instincts now, logic and common sense in the back of her mind as they scream for Aisha to notice how desolate this path is.
She's at the foot of the mountain when she finally hears something and Aisha freezes. The source of the sound is in a direction that deviates from the path. This really should be where she turns tail and goes home, but it seems that she threw her brain into the sea instead of the mysterious coin.
"I hope it's just some teenagers having a sexcapade in the forest," Aisha mumbles to herself. "Maybe then the trauma will shock some sense into me? Yeah, yeah."
But deep down, in a part of herself that Aisha has yet to discover, she knows that this feeling of impending danger is real. So when she passes numerous trees and sees the monster made of earth in a clearing, her first reaction is resignation to whatever sixth sense she has developed.
The monster is most definitely twice her size, and Aisha's knees tremble at the thought of how painful a blow dealt by it would be. It's back is to her, so it isn't too late to run yet. She takes one step back when the creature starts talking.
"The universe is vast," the creature says, its voice bone-rattling deep. "More of us will come so long as the crystal rests here. Did you think this peace was going to last?"
Someone scoffs, and that's when Aisha notices that the creature has someone pressed against a tree. The creature's body is blocking Aisha's view, but she can hear a woman's familiar voice.
"Why do you think we're still here, dumbass?"
The creature growls and suddenly swings its fist, the woman crashing to the ground from the impact a few feet away. Aisha gasps when she sees who it is, curtain of dark hair now messy because of her fall onto the forest ground. Kimberly Hart blows the hair away from her face, looking far more irritated than hurt.
The creature lets out a howl and charges for Kimberly. Aisha feels the coin's heat become almost unbearable. All she sees is Kimberly crouching on the ground, so much smaller compared to the alien creature coming straight for her. She doesn't know what help she would be. She's tinier than Kimberly, and she's a fly compared to the beast. But she didn't have the time to think about those things.
All she does is run to the stranger's aid. She stands in front of Kimberly and faces the monster. Neither have the time to react. The monster's arm is already raised for another strike. Aisha feels the coin's heat spread through her body. She catches the arm with strength she never knew she had, and she takes a moment to marvel in the look of surprise that morphs the beast's expression before pulling a little bit more from that strength and tossing the monster right into a tree that it crashes through.
Aisha pants, adrenaline rushing through her veins as she watches the beast groan from where it crashed. She looks down at her hands, sees them and her whole body covered in a sort of familiar armor. This is the warmth she felt. But she doesn't feel like she's covered. More like her skin hardened into something stronger than steel. It's hard to tell colors from the opaque visor, but she has a feeling she knows what color she's sporting. She turns to check on Kimberly. The woman looks as confused and surprised as Aisha feels.
But there's no time for that. The creatures howls again and directs its ire at Aisha. "You! He already destroyed you!"
Aisha mimics the fighting stance she frequently sees from movies: fists clenched in front of her and knees slightly bent. The only difference? Said fists and knees are trembling.
"No matter how many times you come back, we'll -"
A beam of energy is shot through the creature's mouth, literally leaving it speechless. Aisha barely makes out a shape resembling an arrow before the light disappears. The creature sputters and gurgles before it crashes on the ground with a loud thud. Aisha very soon follows.
Her heavy breathing against the mask and the crunching of leaves from behind are the only things Aisha can hear. Her eyes trained on the ground sees Kimberly's feet first. She slowly looks up, lets her eyes trail from the magnificent bow Kimberly is holding to the woman's face. She looks at Aisha with a mix of emotions: surprise, confusion, hurt, and a tiny bit of hope.
"Trini?" Kimberly whispers the name in lieu of any other question, chokes it out as if it's something she hadn't said in a long time.
The warmth drains out of Aisha's body, and she feels her face and vision free of the helmet at the same time she feels the heat settle back into her pocket. "I don't... I don't know who that is."
Kimberly's face was juggling through a mix of emotions, but when Aisha's mask dissolves, she settles on disappointment and heartbreak. The bow dissolves into the air at the same time Kimberly lets herself fall to her knees.
III III III III
Kimberly takes a shaken Aisha back to her apartment. She sees Rajah perched on a pink bean bag, now sporting a yellow collar around her neck. Aisha is seated on the couch opposite the bean bag, left staring at the cat when Kimberly left to put away her back pack and change out of her dirtied clothes.
"Hi," she says and Rajah meows back.
Kimberly comes back with clean clothes, long hair tied up in a pony tail. "I'm sorry, I should have offered you something to drink."
"No, it's fine."
Kimberly sighs, leans against her kitchen counter. "So I should do some explaining now, huh?"
Aisha waits patiently for Kimberly to get her bearings. It's strange, because she doesn't know why she looks so shaken. She doesn't think it's because of the monster. She has a feeling Kimberly is used to encounters with those kind of creatures. So she pulls out the yellow coin, the one Aisha suspects to be the culprit.
She seems to have the correct answer when she sees Kimberly clench her jaw as soon as it's pulled out. "That's a power coin. It's what..." Kimberly reaches into the pocket of her hoodie and pulls out a matching coin, this time one with a pink gem. "Every Power Ranger has one. It's kind of where the, uh, power comes from." Kimberly chuckles. "That's a lot of 'power'."
Aisha stares wide-eyed at the coin in her hand. She expected it. When she saw the armor around her own body, she knew. It's just still jarring to actually hear a confirmation. "You're a Power Ranger. And I have one, too. So I'm... Oh my God." She drops it on the coffee table and the sudden clatter makes Rajah flinch and jump out of her perch. She stands and points at the strange coin. "This is a mistake. It's gotta be."
"The coin chooses whoever it thinks is worthy. Or, that's what we were told. We don't know if it could make a mistake. But mistake or not, it chose to give you that power."
"But I'm just a kid!"
Kimberly's face softens, sympathy and understanding written all over it. "I know. We were just starting our senior year when we got chosen." She look down at the coin in her hand. "This shit's really fucked up." Aisha desperately looks to Kimberly who grimaces at her own words. "Sorry, I'm not helping." She pulls at her pony tail. "I'm not really the best with these sort of things. Maybe Tommy will do a better job at it."
A knock on the door interrupts them, and Kimberly is quick to run to the door and open it. Tommy appears, takes one look at the yellow coin on the coffee table, and embraces Aisha in a warm hug. "'You okay?" she asks when she pulls away.
"No," is Aisha's honest answer.
III III III
"Kimberly Hart and her friends are the Power Rangers," Aisha says around the quiet of Tommy's car. "She's Pink. And you're one, too?"
"Used to be. I was Green."
Aisha looks at her friend and sees her under a whole new light. The battle was shown all over the news. The Rangers barely won. Clips of Yellow and Green being beaten like a rag doll by Zedd were all over the internet.
"Tommy, you were fourteen. You almost died, you lost your eye... Oh god." Aisha wipes at her cheeks. She's started crying, just thinking about what Tommy had to go through makes her heart ache.
"Oh, shit." Aisha feels the car stop despite still being a few blocks away from her house. "Hey, it's okay..." Tommy rubs Aisha's arms. "I'm okay. I'm here aren't I?"
It takes a moment for Aisha to calm down. "I'm scared, Tommy." She takes out the coin. "This thing chose me. What, am I supposed to be a superhero now?"
Tommy's shrug doesn't help. "That coin chose you for a reason. I don't doubt that you deserve to be a hero... or whatever you wanna call it. But I also understand why the thought of being one would scare you. I know Kimberly and the others do, too. So we're not gonna force this on you, okay?"
Aisha nods. "What about you? Why aren't you a Ranger anymore?"
"Oh, this one's forced retirement." She gives a wry smile. "Zedd destroyed my power coin. The Green Ranger before me was his friend. He said that I didn't deserve it, no one else did. So he destroyed my coin." Tommy goes back to the wheel and continues their drive to their block. "Don't let that happen to you, by the way." She laughs. "That shit hurt more than my eye."
"Does Kat know about it?"
"I never told her. Are you kidding? She probably wouldn't have let me become a superhero if I did."
That gets a smile out of Aisha. A smirk, actually. "Right. She's your over-protective wife."
Tommy's nose crinkles. "Don't tell her that. The idea of being married to me disgusts her." A pause, then, "in a not homophobic way."
Aisha chuckles. "It's cool, I get it."
A lull in the conversation settles, and neither girls mind. Aisha looks down at her hands. She still remembers how it felt to have the armor over her skin.
"There's something else bothering me," Aisha says. "When Kimberly saw me in my armor, she called me 'Trini'."
"Oh." Aisha can't tell what expression Tommy is wearing. The damn hair is in the way. "She was the Yellow Ranger before you. Kim, uh, probably thought you were her."
"Yeah, I figured." She asks the next question carefully, afraid of what the answer might be. "Where is she?"
"She's... not in Angel Grove anymore. She gave the coin up. Trini just lost too much in that battle. And I don't blame her for leaving."
Tommy doesn't tell any more than that, and Aisha doesn't ask for an elaboration. Tommy may not act like it, but she can tell that talking about it hurts.
It's not long before they park Tommy's car in the Olivers' garage. "Kimberly wanted you to know that the other Rangers want to meet you tomorrow," Tommy says. "After your church service, of course. Don't worry," she adds when Aisha starts looking nervous. "They just want to meet who the coin's new... person is. I'll take you to them. Whether you want to commit to this is up to you. You can tell them tomorrow, okay?"
Tommy's smile is so genuine, so sincere. Aisha can't help but return it. She surprises her friend when she stands on her toes and gives her a hug. She's grateful that she has Tommy who can relate to this craziness and comfort her. But she's also sad that Tommy had to go through all those things at all. "Thank you,' she whispers.
Tommy rubs Aisha's back. "Of course."
When she pulls away, she asks, "Would you go back if you could? Would you become a Ranger again?"
Tommy's hands dig into the pocket of her letterman jacket. "I doubt I'll become one again, and I'm not so sure I deserve it anymore." Her head briefly turns to the house across the street, where Katherine lives. "But if I get another chance, I would. If it means I have the power to protect the people I care about, I will."
Aisha nods, holds up her power coin. "'You cool with yellow?"
Tommy laughs. "I don't think it works that way."
"Can't blame a girl for trying."
III III III III
"Where were you all day?" Maya asks from the kitchen.
Aisha takes off her coat, lets their home's warmth wash over her. Winnie whines and rubs against her leg. She bends down to scratch his head. "Hung out with Tommy."
Maya doesn't look away from the sauce she's stirring when she asks, "Are you two dating?"
Alfie's phone, which had been in front of his face when Aisha arrived, suddenly drops onto his lap. Even Adrian looks interested.
Aisha is surprised though. Maya had no problem with Aisha having a lesbian friend, but Aisha wasn't sure that she'd be fine with a daughter who likes girls. "You'd be okay with that?"
Maya tastes the sauce, makes a satisfied expression. "Why not? So,are you?"
"No, we're just friends." Aisha flops on the couch beside Alfie. It makes his phone bounce and drop to the carpet. He narrows his eyes at her. Brat, he mouths and she merely shrugs.
"I thought you'd be okay with it?"
"Yeah, but I bet the other teachers that she'll date Kat before they graduate."
Aisha laughs and Alfie looks horrified. "Mom, what the hell?"
"The faculty bets on the students' love life?" Aisha asks, forearms resting on the back of the couch so she can better face Maya. "Is that allowed?"
"Money's not on the line. It's just for fun."
Aisha isn't convinced. "Uh-huh."
"... and free Krispey Kreme coffee for a whole semester."
Adrian shakes his head, talks all sage-like when he says, "Teachers."
III III III III
Tommy is waiting for her when Aisha comes back from church. "Have you thought about it?"
She has. She looks over the fence and watches her brothers go inside their house, Adrian tugging at Alfie's shirt and undoubtedly annoying their older brother. Maya notices her looking at them and waves at her and Tommy, says, "Have fun."
"Yeah," she answers.
Tommy brings her to the abandoned mines. When the car can no longer drive along the rocky path, they walk and arrive on top of a cliff where four people are waiting just at the edge of it. Aisha recognizes Kimberly, the woman's hair flowing against the wind. Alfie would probably sigh at the sight. The three others are men the same age as Kimberly. The blonde man is having a hushed conversation with the black man with glasses. The asian man was also listening until he spots Tommy and Aisha.
"Tom Girl!" he exclaims and surprises the three other adults when he sprints and tackles Tommy with a hug. "It's been a while, huh?"
"Sorry, Zack. Senior year's been keeping me busy."
"It's cool." The man, Zack, turns his attention to Aisha. "Is this her?"
Kimberly and the two men come closer, and they shoot welcoming smiles her way. Aisha feels the coin in her pocket burn, almost as if it were excited to be here, finally relieved. Tommy nudges her with an elbow to the arm as she whispers, "Introduce yourself, dude."
Aisha flushes, suddenly feeling bashful with all this attention on her. "I'm Aisha Campbell. The new Yellow Ranger."
Zack claps her on the shoulder. "Welcome to the team!" He takes her hand and eagerly shakes it. "Zack Taylor."
"N-Nice to meet you, sir."
Zack gasps, faces the two men as he still shakes Aisha's hand. "I just got called 'sir'."
The blonde man pulls Zacks hand away from Aisha's. "Quit it. You're being weird. I'm Jason Scott. I'm sorry. We're not all like that."
"I'm Billy Scott," the one with glasses says next and merely waves. Aisha notices the ring on his finger and looks at Jason's hand, too. "I'm also Jason's husband."
"Oh." Aisha can't help but smile. Billy looks like he'll never get sick of saying that.
"Hey, Kimmy, get over here," Zack says and tries to wave the woman over. She's considerably farther from them. "Introduce yourself."
Kimberly rolls her eyes. "I already did." She turns and walks back toward the edge of the cliff. "Come on, Zordon and Alpha are waiting."
"Right, right." With a wink, Zack tells Aisha, "Making the Wall-Dad mad isn't fun."
"Who now?" Aisha dubiously asks Tommy but the jerk only snickers.
As if Aisha weren't confused enough, Zack runs off, past Kimberly, and jumps off the cliff. "Show off!" Kimberly yells down the precipice.
"What the heck!"
"The entrance to the ship is through there," Billy explains, but it only gives Aisha more questions to ask. "Don't worry, you're going to be okay. You're a Ranger now." With that, Jason and Billy give Tommy a parting hug before the follow Zack.
"Make sure she gets there!" Jason tells Kimberly before they fall.
Kimberly sighs, looks to Aisha and cocks her head to the ravine. "Come on, kid."
"Please tell me this is a joke," Aisha tells Tommy.
"Sorry. Part of the superhero biz. Go ahead and scream. It's fun that way."
"I hate you." Reluctantly, she steps closer until she's beside Kimberly. A cloud of dust and gravel and dust fall into the dark pit and Aisha's eyes try to follow it. She swallows. Dang, that's deep. "I-I don't think I can do this."
"Do you want to be a Ranger?" Kimberly asks.
Aisha shakes her head. "I don't know. Yes, I do." It felt exilirating, to have that armor around her and be strong enough to lift a monster twice her size. If needed, she wants to use that power to protect the people she cares about. "But I'm scared."
"It's okay. I was, too."
Aisha takes her eyes off the dark void that is apparently the entrance to their "ship". "How did you do it?"
Kimberly smirks, shrugs. "Pulled someone in with me."
Aisha laughs, but there's a tremble due to the nerves. "Sounds like a jerk move. So, this is really embarrassing to ask, but can you hold my hand?"
Kimberly grips Aisha's hand before she says an amused, "Sure."
Aisha takes a deep breath, squeezes the hand in hers, and nods. Together, they fall in. She screams, because what else is there to do when you're jumping into uncertainty?
Chapter 2: Mantle
haha so uh... this looked shorter when i had an outline going. anyway, i promise, third chapter will be the last one and ALL remaining questions will be answered. for now, hope you like this one.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Ah, fish on a stick!" Aisha's hand immediately flies up to her eye. Having her body changed by the power coin made her a lot more durable, sure, but a fist straight to the eyeball still hurts.
She hears Zack snort from the far side of the pit, followed by Jason smacking him on the head.
Billy winces and stills his other hand, about to deal another blow. "Sorry, Aisha. You have to be aware of where your enemy would strike you, too. Offense is important but you can't forget to defend and evade. Focus. If you keep your focus, you have a better chance of winning."
"Right. Right." She jumps in place, trying to pump herself up. Dealing with Billy's precise attacks is hard, even though she's sparred with him multiple times now for training. He's the tallest of them, and he has a longer reach. She has to keep herself on her toes to keep up. "It's okay, let's keep going."
Billy nods and wastes no time hitting Aisha with a series of jabs. She dodges them all, anticipates the elbow coming her way when she avoids the fourth punch. She grabs hold while the other hand goes for Billy's shirt. She attempts to throw him over her shoulder but he anticipates the move and kicks at her feet. She loses balance and he uses the momentum and her hold on him to push her with her back on the ground. Aisha gets the wind knocked out of her with the impact, forced to let go of Billy. The arm she was previously holding is now pushed on her chest. She's been pinned.
"Crap," she gasps out. "I give."
Billy lets go and pulls her to her feet. "Don't be so sad. You're actually improving."
"I have a question," Zack pipes up with a finger raised."Do teenagers not swear anymore?"
Aisha's nose crinkles as she pats at her dust covered thighs. Katherine's very colorful vocabulary suddenly comes to mind. "Yes, they do. I just prefer not to do it so often."
"You should. Helps relieve some stress."
"Excellent advice," Kimberly says, legs nonchallantly swinging from where she's seated."You're an amazing role model, Zack Taylor."
Zack shrugs. "I'm just saying. Repression's not good for you. Expressing the pain helps with the pain."
Aisha goes to her bag and grabs her water bottle. "I'm not repressed. I just think that swear words lose their meaning if you use them too often. When I curse at you, ya'll are in for it," she specifically tells Zack before taking a sip of water. She makes sure to keep a blank look on him.
She doesn't actually mean anything by that. She just likes seeing a grown man like Zack squirm.
Zack stares back at her for a few seconds before saying, "You scare me sometimes." He tells Jason, "Was the Yellow Ranger in Zordon's team scary, too, because I swear it's a Yellow thing."
Jason briefly glances to Kim who remains silent. He shrugs. "I think we can cut training here. You did great, Aisha."
Aisha blinks. "Really? What about sword training with you?"
"Billy and I have to meet with a social worker today."
Oh. Right. The adoption thing. "Are you getting a boy or a girl?"
Billy and Jason exchange a look before the former smiles at her."We didn't have a preference at first, but we think it'd be great to get a girl."
"Oh, wow." She smiles back. "You guys are gonna be great dads."
Jason chuckles. "Thanks. Gotta get a kid first. Anyway, we're gonna go. You guys staying?"
"Nah," Zack says. "I have a date. Was gonna leave early anyway." He tells Aisha, "I still got it."
"I've never thought about whether you still had 'it'," Aisha says with a grimace. "And I never want to so please stop with the updates."
"It's the insecurity," Kimberly says with a smirk. "He's a man in his thirties, you gotta be patient with him."
"We're literally the same age."
"I'm not insecure about it."
"Oh my God!" Jason groans, hands flying in the air in exasperation. "We get it, you're both still pretty. Billy and I are leaving." He grabs Billy's hand and they make their way up the ship. Aisha hears him grumble, "Twelve years of this shit..."
Aisha realizes then that Kimberly didn't say that she had any plans. She's never sparred with her before. Maybe she can ask now. But Kimberly is already waving at them, playfully shoving Zack before following Jason and Billy up the stairs into the ship.
Next time, maybe.
"'You need a ride, Yellow?" Zack asks Aisha. "I can drop you off."
Aisha shakes her head. "I wanna train against some putties before I head home."
"Awe... and to think, just a few weeks ago you were so scared of jumping into the cliff that Kim had to hold your hand. I'm a proud, Dad."
"Ew," she says but she turns away and morphs into her armor so he doesn't see the smile on her face.
"Trini would like you."
Aisha stills. The team doesn't mention Trini very often, at least not about non-Ranger stuff. Kimberly doesn't participate in conversations like that at all. Aisha tries not to think about the fact that Kimberly barely talks to her. Aisha doesn't ask about her either. She knows better than to bring up sore subjects.
"You don't have to say things like that to make me feel better."
"Oh, that's what I was doing?"
"You're sharper than you make yourself out to be."
"That is probably the best compliment I've ever gotten."
Aisha sighs and turns back to the pit. "Whatever."
"Alright, then. Why would I want to make you feel better? Anything troubling you?"
Aisha takes a moment to reflect on what she said, then grimaces when she realizes that she really did walk into that one. She hates Zack.
"I've never beaten you guys when we spar, even though you obviously go easy on me," Aisha says, not without a defeated tone in her voice. She kicks at a small rock for good measure. "I haven't summoned my weapon yet, so Jason lets me borrow a normal sword. I know I'm not a real Ranger yet even if I have the uniform." Aisha puts away the visor so Zack can see her properly. "So, yeah. You don't have to patronize me. I've seen how great of a Ranger Trini was through the Morphing Grid. I'm a disappointment. Kimberly can barely even look at me."
"What? No, you're not. If we've never said it, don't assume it. Just the fact that you unlocked your armor so early is impressive enough! And as for Kimberly..." he scratches at his head. "She's got her issues."
Aisha nods. "Right." She wills the visor back on and sets up the simulation for the putties.
"Ah-ah. Don't stay too long today." Before Aisha could reply, he adds, "Don't think I haven't noticed you staying behind every day to do some extra training. Jason and Billy have been too distracted by the adoption thing and Kimmy's been pretty out of it, so I'm stepping up. Tommy says you've been tired in school. Don't tire yourself out to death before you even go on your first mission."
Aisha waves a hand dismissively, "Yeah, yeah. Go on your date already. Being a strict dad doesn't fit you."
III III III III
Aisha is exhausted, panting on the rocky floor of the pit by the time she's done with the simulation. She didn't expect herself to be on the same level as her teammates when they first started cramming training for eleven days as teenagers. She isn't like Billy who could apply his intelligence where he lacked in combat experience, Kimberly and Zack who were nimble and agile, or Jason and Trini who knew martial arts before they even got superpowers. No, all Aisha knew to do in the face of conflict was stay quiet or throw dry remarks at Alfie. She had no previous innate skill or talent to rely on aside from the strength her coin gave her, and she knows that alone won't be enough to be a hero. The scars she sees on Tommy's face is reminder of that. Still, the slow pace of her progress is frustrating.
She can't protect her family from galactic threats with such mediocrity.
She makes her way back into the ship with plans to look through the records the Morphing Grid has of the Power Rangers. All she knows of Trini is the bare minimum that the others have told her. The strange light projecting their history at the center of their pedestals has told her most about her predecessor, and she's very grateful, even if seeing the way she used to fight is all she would probably know about Trini.
Aisha walks along the eerie halls of their ship, turns a corner for the morphing grid. She stops in her tracks when she sees that the room isn't empty. Kimberly is sitting on her pedestal, legs swinging at the edge of it. Aisha thought she already left, but she apparently didn't.
Kimberly is watching the light of the morphing grid dance, yellow and pink forming a majority of it. Aisha watches, too, sees Kimberly and Trini in their armor, fighting seamlessly together, as if they shared one mind.
There it is again - that dull longing. Zordon and Jason already explained that Aisha would soon sense the others' emotions through the bond. Even pain, if intense enough. It was hard to differentiate them from what she herself feels during the first few days, but Kimberly's longing had always been so strong that Aisha would find herself tearing up if she didn't keep herself aware of it. She has a feeling it has to do with who used to own the coin she's tethered to.
Kimberly looks at the projection of Trini with dazed attention. Her hand rises at one point, attempting to touch the yellow armor only for her fingers to phase through. Kimberly is snapped out of her trance when it happens, and Aisha's heart aches when she sees the dawn of realization and disappointment on Kimberly's face. Aisha looks away, pressing her back against the cold, metal wall.
Ah, there goes the tears. She just isn't sure if it's only because of the bond this time.
III III III III
"No training today! The bar is closed and we get to party while no one's away!"
Aisha blankly looks at Zack from her pedestal, the book she was reading through as she waited for them ignored on her lap. He's wearing a party hat as he obnoxiously stands by the entryway. Alpha is beside him, hat also tied around his head as he holds a kazoo and mumbles , "how fascinating."
Zordon materializes on the wall behind Aisha and says, "Party?" with the same disgust as Katherine would mention homework.
Aisha, who was surprised by Zordon's sudden appearance, squeaks out a, "Sweet baby Jesus!"
"Ooh, where?" Alpha asks.
"Jason and Billy finally found a mom who would let them adopt the baby," Zack explains and a smile finally stretches Aisha's lips. "That's something to celebrate, right?"
"...yes, I suppose so," Zordon replies.
Aisha digs through her bag. She almost forgot. She pulls out The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle and holds up the book for Zordon to see. "I borrowed another one from my mom for you guys to read."
Zordon stares with his usual stoic look, but Aisha swears some of the pixels in his face twitch to briefly form a small smile. "Thank you."
Alpha is the one who takes it since Zordon can't. "More Sherlock Holmes!" he announces with glee.
"You guys liked the last one, so I figured I'd ask my mom if she has more." Aisha turns away from the happy robot and to Zack. "Let's go."
"Here," Zack puts a party hat on her head. When Aisha glares at him, he says, "Hey, every one has to. Don't be such a party pooper. Jason and Billy are gonna be dads!"
So she begrudgingly keeps it on.
Zack and Jason's bar is named Tusk 'n Rex because they are about as subtle as their color coded outfits. The excuse that they are Ranger fans is good enough, Zack says, so no one questions the fact that they have a framed picture of the Rangers posing in front of the establishment displayed on their wall for every patron to see.
Aisha has never been to a bar herself, but she's seen them in movies and shows. They were always dimly lit with people drinking and dancing away their woes. Tonight, the empty bar has a country song playing through the speakers, likely Billy's doing. Jason is manning the bar, his only companions Kimberly, Billy, and a giddy Tommy. Even Billy looks a bit intoxicated. He must be so happy that he and Jason will finally get the addition to their family that they've wanted. No one else is wearing a party hat, though, and Aisha throws it at Zack with a red face. Tommy picks it up and wears it instead.
"I can drink?" Aisha meekly asks when Jason asks her what she wants. "I'm only fifteen."
"Sure, why not?" Jason replies nonchalantly and Aisha balks. Is this really the leader she knows?
"We drank underage in parties, too. Haven't you?"
"No. I've never went to high school parties."
"Really?" Jason looks disbelievingly at her and he turns to Tommy who giggles. She's already tipsy.
"Not every teenager was wild like you guys," Tommy says. She wraps an arm around Aisha and says, "Jason did some crazy shit. He snuck into -"
"Ah!" Jason slides a glass of water in front of her. His ears are red. "That's enough. The past is in the past."
"I'll tell you later," Tommy whispers and Aisha returns the fist bump. She looks forward to it. "Hey, Zack! Billy! Let's play with the karaoke!"
"You don't have to if you don't want," Kimberly pipes up. "Just know that you're safe here, and we'd rather you try stuff like that under our supervision instead of with other teenagers."
Something about Kimberly being the one to tell her that has Aisha determined to try. So she turns back to Jason and says, "Can I try a beer?"
Jason chuckles and opens a bottle for her. She stares at the lip for a few seconds before throwing caution to the wind and taking a sip. "Eurgh."
Jason laughs and Aisha feels her ears burn. She looks to Kimberly for her reaction, but her stool is empty. She joined Zack and is now singing along with him. Aisha sighs.
"Want juice instead?" Jason asks.
Aisha shakes her head. The second sip is just as bitter as the first.
III III III III
"Are you sure she only had one bottle?"
"Kim, I'm sure. I kept an eye on her."
"Heh, Aisha's a lightweight."
"Tommy, how much have you had?"
"You're not the boss of me anymore. I'm retired!"
A chuckle. "Alright. Jason, get your car keys. We're taking these kids home."
III III III III
Aisha feels light. Her mind is all foggy and every other word Jason and Kimberly speak between themselves in the quiet of the car makes Aisha want to giggle. Her eyes are closed and Tommy is already snoring on her shoulder. In any other time, she would have pushed her away. Tommy's probably drooling on her now.
"I'll take Tommy," Jason says when Aisha feels the car come to a stop. "You take Aisha home."
Someone takes her into their arms and Aisha snuggles into their chest, takes in the scent of jasmine. Oh.
"Hi, Kimberly," Aisha finds herself saying. "Is it bed time?"
Kimberly let's out a huff of laughter. "Yeah. I'm gonna carry you up to your room so you're parents won't see you drunk as hell. Sorry, I didn't think you'd get drunk so easily."
She feels Kimberly use her powers to jump onto their roof when she tells her where her room is.
"You have a cactus in your room," Kimberly remarks when they get in. Aisha isn't sure why she even notices them, but she nods anyway.
"Saw some before we moved." Aisha cracks her eyes open and sees gold around Kimberly's neck, hidden beneath the collar of her shirt. "Thought they looked pretty."
"Mm, I guess they do - what are you doing?"
"There's a ring here." Aisha pulls at the chain so she can take a better look at the ring. She giggles. "It's so weird when people don't where it on their finger. Hey, why do you hide it? Oof!"
Aisha blinks up at her ceiling. Kimberly just dropped her on her bed. She giggles again. Guess she giggles when she's intoxicated. She turns to look at Kimberly, but she isn't amused. She hastens to hide the ring back in her shirt.
"Oh." Aisha smile sobers up. She suddenly feels like crying. "Sorry. I did a bad thing. Trini probably gave you that or something."
Kimberly freezes. "What makes you say that?"
Aisha feels the urge to cry become unbearable. She lies there and lets her forearms cover her eyes. Stupid bond. Stupid alcohol for making it worse. "I guessed. Not that hard. Not hard to figure out that you hate that I'm replacing her."
"I don't hate you."
"You don't have to say that to make me feel better."
A hand comes up to pat Aisha's hair. "Make sure to drink some water," Kimberly says before she leaves.
III III III III
Ms. Kimberly Hart: are you feeling ok?
yes. thank you for asking
Me: im really sorry if i said stuff that made you uncomfortable last night
Ms. Kimberly Hart: its fine
Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
"Geeze, Aisha. It's just homecoming. If you're so bummed about not having a date, I'll take you."
"What?" Katherine looks up from her lunch. "I thought you always take me."
Tommy shrugs. "We'll all be each other's dates."
Aisha groans again and lets her forehead slam on the table.
"Oh, we're not good enough?" Tommy says with faux hurt.
"You know the cafeteria table's dirty, right."
That gets her seated upright. "I'm not going," Aisha says.
"What? Come on, Aisha," Tommy whines. "It's our last year with you. Let's enjoy it."
Aisha subtly looks at Katherine. She knows her friend wants to have Tommy to herself for that dance. "It's cool. I don't have anything to wear, anyway."
"I can let you borrow some stuff," Katherine suggests. Her way of telling Aisha it's okay.
But then a boy approaches their table. He smiles at Aisha. "Hi. I'm, uh, in some of your classes."
"Oh, yeah. Rocky."
He beams when she remembers him. "Yeah, that's me."
"Hey, Rocky," Katherine greets in a much too peppy tone. "Whatcha doing here?"
"Want something?" Tommy asks.
Rocky nervously looks between the two seniors, both with reputations to not be messed with. Katherine is a cheerleader with a fierce personality and although Tommy wouldn't hurt an innocent fly, her scar and resting bitch face makes her look more intimidating than she actually is. Aisha feels like a cub with two over-protective momma bears.
"Did you want some help with homework or something?" Aisha asks when Rocky fails to do anything else but gulp.
"Y-Yeah. I was wondering... if you'd like to, um, go to homecoming. With me! Would you like to go to homecoming with me?"
"Oh." Aisha feels her face flush. She feels her face go hotter when she sees Tommy and Katherine's amused grins. "Okay."
Rocky's nerves go away, now replaced with relief. "Oh! Cool, cool. Thanks, I'll..." he points a thumb at his table where his friends Tanya Sloan and Adam Park are seated, watching the whole thing with interest and second-hand embarrassment. "... go back to my table now."
He runs back to them and they can hear Tanya say, "Boy, don't come near me. I have never felt so ashamed."
"But I got a yes!"
Aisha turns back to her own friends who have teasing smirks on their faces. Katherine opens her mouth to say something but Aisha sees a cheerleader approach them. "Oh hey look, Kat, Alex wants to talk to you."
Katherine groans when she sees Alex wave her over. "We'll talk about that little exchange later," she says before she leaves their table.
"So," Tommy starts and Aisha expects her to ask about Rocky but then she says, "Is the thing bothering you Ranger related?"
It would be so easy to say that no, it was just about homecoming. But she's held off talking about it long enough. "Kimberly hates me."
"What? No, she doesn't!" Tommy is quick to say.
"She does! I can feel it."
"You can feel it?"
"Through the bond," Aisha explains with her head in her hands. "I've been getting a hang of tuning them out so I don't get over-whelmed, but no matter what I do I always feel her. Sometimes it's dull enough for me to ignore, but sometimes it's just... intense, you know? Her longing, her pain... the hate and disgust..." Aisha almost doesn't notice that tears have started leaking at the corner of her eyes. She's quick to wipe them away. "I get it. I'm not Trini. I'm not... She misses her a lot and I can't fill in for someone she loved that much."
"I'm sorry," Tommy offers emphatically. "I know that can be hard."
"I even said stupid stuff last night. I saw this ring she wears around her neck and said that Trini gave it to her or something."
"Yeah. A plain gold band. Something was probably engraved in it but I didn't get a good enough look. She looked upset that I noticed it."
"Oh... Oh man..." Tommy rubs the back of her neck. "Trini didn't give it to her. Kimberly bought it with a matching one. You know... engagement rings. I guess she still has it."
Aisha groans into her hands. "I'm the replacement of her fiance. Who she's still very much in love with. Ugh." What did this stupid coin get herself into? "I don't get it. If she loves Trini so much, why didn't she just follow her out of Angel Grove and be with her?"
Tommy shakes her head. "It's not that simple. Kim can't just leave no matter how much she wants to."
Aisha huffs in frustration. "Then why was it so easy for Trini to leave? Why did she leave Angel Grove and Kim?"
Why did Aisha have to inherit this stupid coin and her burdens?
A look passes over Tommy. Frustration, despair, and remorse are written all over her face. "It wasn't easy. I told you! She lost too much, she -!" Tommy pales and cups her bad eye. "Sorry. I shouldn't have raised my voice..."
Aisha's frustration dies down when she sees Tommy look so small and vulnerable. "I'm sorry. No, I shouldn't have... I know talking about it is hard for you."
She shouldn't have prodded. She should have let things happen the way they should. No interference. Kimberly's life isn't her business, even if she is deeply affected by it. Now she's bothering her friend.
"I'm just so frustrated," Aisha admits. "They all feel these things, and I can feel them too, but I don't even know where their coming from because no one tells me." She sighs. "For a team that relies on connection, I don't feel that connected at all."
Tommy gives her a strained smile. "I understand." When Aisha shoots her a skeptical look, she adds, "I told you the one who owned the green coin before me was bad, right?"
Aisha nods. "Rita." She doesn't dare say the rest of her name. It's just so ridiculous. She just assumes it sounds better in Rita's own alien language.
"Can you imagine?" Tommy says. "I come into the group, inheriting the powers of the first person they ever fought against. Someone who almost killed them. Killed Billy."
Aisha swallows. "It must have been hard."
"They were understanding. But Trini and Billy took a while to really warm up to me. Especially Trini. I thought she hated me. But she was just finding it hard to separate her view of me from Rita. She just needed time to separate the past from me. To remind themselves that I had nothing to do with Rita."
III III III III
Aisha was doing her homework when the light in her room goes out. She hears Alfie's frustrated cries and Aisha figures out that it's not her bulb that's the problem. Angel Grove is experiencing a power outage.
"Stay here," Maya says with a flashlight in her hand. She and many other adults are on their way to the Mayor. "Keep the doors and windows locked."
Just Aisha's luck, her phone has just died when she goes to check on it. She should have remembered to charge it before she got started on her essay. Something heats up in her pocket and she knows it's her power coin trying to tell her something. Her heartbeat picks up speed.
"I'm going to my room," Aisha tells Alfie and Adrian who are playing with the cats in the living room.
"Don't forget to blow the candle out before you go to sleep," Alfie reminds her.
She locks the door of her room and gives herself a moment to breathe and collect herself before she lets the her helmet form around her head. Her vision immediately changes, the visor adjusting so she can see in the dark of her room. Alien technology is lovely.
She turns on the communication link that connects her to the other Rangers and immediately hears Jason's commanding voice.
"Aisha? You there, kid?"
"Yeah," she answers. Winnie, who followed her into her room, looks confused at Aisha's head wear. She merely waves at him. "I'm guessing this is an alien's doing?"
"I think it might be a Kuriedan," Billy chimes in. "It's a race that feeds on electricity to make themselves stronger. I saw them in the Morphing Grid's records."
"I was gonna say that," Zack says. "It was so obvious."
"Really, Zack?" Kimberly feigns being convinced. "What do they look like?"
Aisha hears Zack make noises before he says, "They glow, duh."
Kimberly laughs until Billy says, "Actually that's right," and Kimberly huffs out, "well, son of a bitch," over Zack's victorious cackling.
"So what are we gonna do?" Aisha interrupts. She knows her teammates have been through many missions before so they can easily banter through situations like these, but this is Aisha's first mission. Her first real test as a hero. Nervous is an understatement.
"Billy and I are already on our way to the power plant," Jason explains. He must be driving. "Let's meet there."
Aisha nods until she realizes that Jason can't see her. "Roger," she says and regrets it. No, that feels ridiculous.
"Keep in mind what I told you."
Right. Stay close to them. If they split, stick to the biggest number so they can look out for her. No problem.
Winnie whines at her when she morphs out of her helmet and heads for the window. "Sorry, man," she whispers. "Gotta beat up an alien and all that." She's gingerly walking on her roof, trying not to make a sound that her brothers would notice, when she hears a whistle. It's Tommy, peaking out of her own window to give Aisha an encouraging smile.
Good luck, she mouths and Aisha can only reply with a thumbs up.
It's a good thing that she can run almost as fast as a car because cutting through the forest on foot to Angel Grove's power plant is a better route than the streets filled with frustrated and confused townsfolk. She morphs into her armor as soon as the woods get thicker and the helmet's night vision help her navigate through them. It's a good thing Billy helped her know every inch of Angel Grove. Easy navigation within their town is important to get to the scene of battle on time.
"Hey, Yellow!" she hears Zack's voice before he catches up to her and runs by her side. "Don't worry about the glowing Pikachu so much. We got your back, okay?"
He must have sensed her nerves. "Does it even look like a Pikachu?" she deflects.
He laughs. "I don't know. It's just the first thing I thought of."
They see the glow of electricity before they even get to the power plant. The brilliant sparks are almost blinding, raining down on the building as Jason and Billy fight the glowing creature at the foreground.
"That's... That's not a Pikachu," Aisha mumbles as they watch Jason try to slash his sword at the alien who easily dodges.
It's a lanky, humanoid creature with huge, bug-like eyes. The linings on its body glow a brilliant blue, the light spreading as if it were made of it when it dashes around the Red and Blue Ranger. It's fast, incredibly so. Aisha only sees a line of blue light before it collides with Billy and shocks him.
"Billy!" Jason shouts through the scream of his husband.
"Shit!" Zack hisses and charges to Billy and Jason's aid, but a flash of yellow light tackles him. "What the fuck!"
Aisha is rooted to the ground as she watches a second Kuriedan takes its solid form. It's shorter and a tad bulkier, with the same buggy eyes looking down at Zack.
"Not a solo mission," the yellow Kuriedan says, its voice tinny and shrill. Its gaze lands on Aisha next, and its head tilts to the side, almost as if it were curious. "Yellow." It points a bony finger at its glowing chest. "We match."
Aisha takes a fighting stance. "Glad you noticed."
Another scream pierces the air, and they turn to see the blue Kuriedan with an arrow made of pink energy buried in its eye. The yellow one lets out a shrill hiss, the light covering its body once again and Aisha is reminded of a cat with its fur standing on end. The yellow Kuriedan's head turns to the direction where the arrow came from and spots Kimberly perched on a tree armed with her bow. It hisses again and zooms at Kimberly, dragging her into the forest.
"Kimberly!" Aisha cries at the slowly disappearing trail of light. She forgets about the nerves and fear and goes after them. She jumps and rips out a thick branch from one of the trees she passes. She has to improvise since she doesn't have a weapon yet.
She finds Kimberly holding off the monster fairly well. Close combat isn't Kimberly's specialty, but that doesn't mean she isn't competent at it. Her bow is straighter, string phased out so it could form a staff that she can fight with. When the yellow Kuriedan has Kimberly backed up against a tree, Aisha charges with a cry.
Big mistake, because the creature notices her and zooms out of the way, making Aisha hit Kimberly instead.
"I'm sorry!" Aisha immediately apologizes.
Laughter echoes from with the trees. "A newbie," the Kuriedan remarks and Aisha huffs in frustration.
"What are you doing here?!" Kimberly frantically asks.
"I... helping you?"
"You should've stayed with them!"
"But that thing took you, I -"
"I can handle myself. Shit, get down!" Kimberly warns before she pushes Aisha down on the ground. Aisha feels a current of electricity grazed her shoulder as they dodge the Kuriedan's attack.
"Baby Ranger, baby ranger," it taunts.
"Go back!" Kimberly tells Aisha but she shakes her head.
"I'm not leaving you!"
Kimberly groans and bends her weapon back into a bow. "Fine." She says in a low voice, "I can't shoot it with my arrow if it speeds off like that. And I can't hit it with my bow if I don't want to be shocked. It wants to take you out first since you're the easier target, so distract it while I find an opportunity. Just don't let it touch you."
"Right." Easy. But then Kimberly surprises Aisha when she runs off. "W-Where are you going?!"
"Trust me!" she says before the trees hide her away from sight.
Did she just get ditched?
Aisha hears that distinct crackle of electricity and ducks to the ground by instinct. The Kuriedan laughs. "Left behind?" it asks. "Extra baggage. Not needed, not wanted," it taunts as it zooms in and out of Aisha's sight.
She's really getting tired of this bitch. She holds her stance and waits for another attack. He zooms at her, and Aisha doesn't flinch away. It doesn't expect her to meet it head on and she lands her fist on it's head before it can even move out of the way.
"Ah!" Aisha shakes the fist she just used. It felt like the bones in her fist and arm just vibrated and painfully rubbed against each other. The Kuriedan zoomed out of sight again but Aisha feels a twinge of satisfaction knowing that she dealt some damage.
It attacks again, this time tackling her legs. She falls on the ground. She barely has time to react before it zooms down again, using prolonged contact to electrocute her. She screams in pain, even more frustrating is hearing it gleefully laugh as its buggy eyes leer at her.
She can't do anything but spasm, thinking about her brothers and mother, if they'll find out the next day that she got fried by an alien. It dashes out again, leaving Aisha on the ground. It doesn't stay in one place for more than five seconds.
No, she can't make Adrian cry again. Alfie can't take care of Winnie, he's terrible with animals. She can't trouble her mother with a funeral after what she just went through. She has to win against this one, and every alien after that.
When the Kuriedan comes back to attack, Aisha surprises it by grabbing hold of its arm. The current is stronger this way, but Aisha needs to hold it down so Kimberly gets her chance.
"Let go! Let go!" it screams but she doesn't listen.
With a cry, Aisha flings the Kuriedan over her shoulder and tosses it to the ground, making the earth crack with the impact. Aisha keeps holding it down and screams, "Kimberly, do it now!"
An arrow immediately makes its way to the creature's chest. It stiffens, and Aisha hears it have its breath stolen before the light in its body dies down and the electricity running from its body to Aisha's disappears.
Aisha collapses to the ground, too exhausted to even keep her eyes open.
III III III III
Aisha wakes up in the ship's medical bay. The sterile and cool air of the room soothes the burning skin of her arm. She looks down, sees that it's been bandaged.
"She's awake! Master Aisha, how do you feel?"
Aisha opens her eyes and sees the Rangers in the clothes they were wearing before they morphed into their armor. Billy is worried, Jason is relieved, Zack is proudly grinning, while Kimberly has an unreadable look on her face.
"Not as bad as I thought I'd be," Aisha finally answers. She flexes her fingers. "My hand hurts a little."
Alpha nods. "That's to be expected. You grabbed a charged Kuriedan! It's a good thing that your body has been modified to be more durable. And the armor helped protect you. Give yourself a day, and you'll be fully healed. If you were a normal terran, you would have been - as Zack put it - toast!"
Speaking of Zack, he moves to hug Aisha as soon as she sits up. "Our little firecracker. I can't believe you held that beast down just so Kim can get a hit. I'm so proud."
"Zack... let go..."
"Ah, sorry." He moves away. "Sorry."
"It was impressive, but Aisha," Jason starts, "that wasn't what we talked about."
She looks down at her lap. "I know."
"You went off on your own. You should have taken Zack with you."
"He was still reeling from the alien's attack," Aisha reasons. "Kimberly was alone, I needed to help."
"You didn't," Kimberly interjects. "I can handle myself. You needed to stick to the plan so we can protect you."
"I'm a Ranger," she says defensively." I can handle myself, too."
"No, you can't! Look what happened to you! You should have trusted me, your team."
Aisha feels frustration rise in her. Why is Kimberly so mad? "That injuries come with the job! And you guys talk about being a team and connection, but I don't feel that at all with you! How can you know to trust me when you can't even look at me?"
The three boys and Alpha are silently watching with unease. They wait for Kimberly's reply. She gapes for a moment before she says, "I don't know what you're talking about."
"You avoid me, I know you do. You don't talk to me outside of training. You don't like seeing me in Trini's armor." When she sees Kimberly flinch, Aisha knows she got it right. "I get it. I can't take her place, and I don't want to either. I just... want to feel welcomed to be a part of this."
"I can sense a worrying rise in heart rate," Alpha interrupts. "This line of conversation may not be good for Master Aisha's recovery. And Master Billy isn't doing well either."
Billy is pressing his back against the wall, as if he wants to sink himself in it. Jason is rubbing his arm, trying to soothe his troubled husband. Aisha feels a twinge of guilt for making him feel that way.
"I'm sorry," Aisha says.
"Get some rest first," Jason tells Aisha. He looks at the rest of the Rangers and seems to wordlessly give them an order as he and Billy make their way out of the room and the others follow.
Aisha lets her head drop on the pillow. At least her first mission is a success.
III III III III
Jason lets Aisha off of training for the next few days. The three men would check in on her, but she hasn't heard anything from Kimberly since. She tries not to think about her sudden outburst at her teammate and instead focus on the incoming dance. A good thing, too, since she almost forgot about it. Rocky sure picked a lousy date since she basically forgot about him.
Though, to be fair. Ranger duties would have been a good enough excuse if she were allowed to tell him.
Every dress she owned is laid out on her bed. Choosing what to wear should be simple enough. She never had trouble choosing what to wear before, but this is her first time going to a formal with a date. She can feel a tiny bit of pressure.
Time to call a friend.
She quickly looks for Katherine's number in her contact list and presses call. "Hey, can you help me out? I don't know what to wear for homecoming." She puts her phone between her ear and shoulder and holds one of her many sun dresses over herself so she can see in the mirror. "You said you have stuff I can borrow, right?"
"... I don't think my clothes would fit you."
Aisha drops the sun dress. She slowly takes her phone back and looks at the caller I.D.
Kimberly fucking Hart. Oh, holy cheeseballs.
"I am so sorry," Aisha stammers out. "I was gonna call my friend but accidentally got you instead!"
"No, it's okay," Kimberly replies. There's a few seconds of silence on Kimberly's end where Aisha prays she could turn back time and freaking check before calling. "I only need to get some stuff done in the studio, but I have some free time after."
"Oh, um." She has no idea where Kimberly's going with this. "That's great."
"I can take you to the mall later for dress shopping."
"What? No, you don't have to," she hastily says.
"It'll be my treat," Kimberly insists. "I'll come pick you up in an hour."
Kimberly hangs up, leaving Aisha to stare at her phone. Winnie whines at her from where he's laying on her bed.
"Kimberly just asked me to hang out with her," she says as if to answer a question.
Winnie replies by yawning, wide-mouthed.
III III III III
Nothing makes a teenager feel more humble about her appearance than walking beside a gorgeous woman like Kimberly Hart. Kimberly is only wearing black pants with a plain white shirt under a pink leather jacket, her long hair tied in a ponytail, but Aisha feels incredibly under dressed in her overalls. It doesn't help that she would often catch men and women staring at Kimberly.
Kimberly takes her to a store that she seems to be a regular of. Employees greet her by name and Kimberly casually says, "I'm just checking some stuff out for my little friend here."
"Thank you," Aisha says as Kimberly picks at a few dresses in a rack. "You really didn't have to do this."
"No, I do. You're right. I... haven't been fair to you."
"No, I was out of line. I don't know what came over me. You don't have to force yourself to spend time with me just because I threw a tantrum."
"You were frustrated, and I totally understand." Kimberly suddenly chuckles. She takes out an orange dress and holds it over Aisha's figure. "Kind of reminded me of when I was younger."
"Really?" It's a bit embarrassing that her saying that makes Aisha happy.
Kimberly doesn't put the dress back on the rack and lets it hang by her forearm instead. "Yeah. I kinda had a similar conversation with Trini."
"Oh." Aisha feels anticipation take over her as Kimberly finally opens up. About Trini, no less.
"It was more like an argument," Kimberly admits, but there's a fond smile on her face as she looks for more dresses. "She didn't like me, even though she barely knew me."
"I was a cheerleader." One of Kimberly's brows quirks up. "Tell me, how are Angel Grove teenagers in your generation?"
"I have a friend who's a cheerleader. She's not so bad." Aisha pulls at her short braids. "But the others... Racism never dies, I guess."
Kimberly offers a soft look. "I'm sorry. That's not a period in my life I'm proud of, to be honest. Trini knew how much of a bully I was. But I only really met her after we found the coins. I already wanted to change for the better by that time, but she always avoided me because of how she knew me. It was really frustrating, but I didn't want to give up becoming her friend."
Aisha feels a smirk grow on her lips. She folds her hands behind her back and shifts on the balls of her feet. "You had a crush on her."
Aisha never saw Kimberly flustered. Even when Zack would tease and annoy her, she was always smug and confidently turning the table on him. But this time, she sees Kimberly sport her Ranger color on her cheeks and ears. Kimberly tucks a stray lock of hair behind a rosy ear. "Yeah," she says with a bashful smile and a shrug. "What can I do, right? She was gorgeous."
Aisha feels all of Kimberly's affection through morphing grid. The woman's fond emotions alone makes Aisha's chest feel warm.
"I may have swooned when I first saw her put Zack on a choke hold," Kimberly adds and that makes Aisha laugh. "So, when I got fed up, I cornered her after the bio class we shared and told her I won't stop annoying her until she agreed to have coffee with me."
"That's a way to ask someone out."
"Hey, all I asked for was a chance and I got results," she indignantly says. "And that's what I'm giving us. I'm not forcing anything." After going through the last rack she hands the pile to Aisha. Any one else would have had trouble carrying it, but she and Kimberly can easily hold the clothes up. "Now try those on."
III III III III
"I finally get why Tommy calls you a sugar mommy," Aisha says when Kimberly pays for the two dresses Aisha liked. Kimberly wanted to buy everything for her, but Aisha begged her no to. "Thank you again. This is a lot."
Kimberly dismissively waves a hand. "Don't mention it. This is for your homecoming dance, right? You have a date?"
"Yeah," she says around her ice cream. Kimberly felt like buying one so they bought some from a stand at the food court. Just a classmate."
Kimberly purses her lips. "Do you have a condom?"
Aisha forgets about her super strength and crushes the cone in her hand. Her hand is now covered in cookies and cream but she can't focus on that right now. "W-Why would I?!"
Kimberly holds up both her hands. "I was a teenager before. I know what happens. I'm not stopping you from doing anything. Just reminding you to keep yourself protec--"
"I'm not gonna!" Aisha adamantly says. "He's just a classmate!"
"Fine, fine," Kimberly says. The smirk she's wearing makes Aisha suspect that she's just teasing. She hands Aisha a pack of wet wipes from her bag as a peace offering. "Don't let him pressure you into doing anything, then. And if he forces you, knee him where it counts and punch his teeth out."
"You're a worse role model than Zack."
Kimberly gasps. "Take that back."
III III III III
"Macaroniguacamole!!"she screams after colliding with yet another rock face.
She hears Zack laugh through the communication link. She hates that he's the one assigned to teach her how to use a zord.
"Are you this bad at driving, too?" he asks and Aisha growls.
"Hey, take a break from driver's ed for a moment," they hear Kimberly's voice invade the link. "Jason and Billy are back."
Aisha makes her excitable zord stop for a moment and looks down from the cockpit to see Kimberly with her helmet on, emerging from the secluded tunnel connected to where the ship is. She morphs it off her face and walks to where Zack is, out of the way of Aisha's Sabertoothed Tiger. Aisha opens the latch of the cockpit and jumps down. After patting the zord's paw for a moment and giving it permission to wander off before going back to their lair, she morphs out of her suit and joins Kimberly and Zack.
"Do they have the baby?" Aisha excitedly asks.
Kimberly grins. "Wanna see her?"
They go to Jason and Billy's home near the docks. Luckily, neither men's parents know about their arrival yet so they can have the baby to themselves for a moment. Kimberly practically shoved Zack out of the way so she can have little Wendy in her arms.
"Oh, I hope she likes her room," Billy says. He's so happy that he's almost jumping in place. "I even made her crib with Alpha's help." He proudly pats at his chest. "That thing's sturider than any Ikea furniture, I'm sure of it."
Zack grins. "Does it have rocket launchers?"
Jason scowls. He'd been protectively hovering over an annoyed Kimberly. "Why would my baby's crib have fucking rocket launchers?"
"Jason!" Billy hisses. "Go put a dollar in the swear jar!"
"Shit, right," Jason mumbles then flinches. He leaves Kimberly and goes to the kitchen where Aisha presumes said swear jar is.
"She smells so good," Kimberly coos, her nose nuzzled against Wendy's temple.
Zack snorts. "Dude, are you sniffing the baby?"
"You don't understand, Zack. She smells like milk."
"She's adorable." Aisha carefully presses a finger against Wendy's chubby littles cheeks. Her dark skin is incredibly soft against her now calloused hands. Wendy makes this tiny, bubbly sound that makes Aisha melt a little inside. "That's it. I'm dead."
Kimberly chuckles. "Wanna hold her?"
"You're not gonna bite my arm off?"
"Alright." Kimberly holds the baby away from her. "Too bad. You just missed your chance."
"No, no, no," Aisha whines and makes grabby hands at Wendy. "Gimme her!"
Kimberly rolls her eyes. "Fine, here. Support her head. There."
Aisha, Kimberly, and Zack get to pass Wendy among themselves ("I'm not crying, Kimmy! Shut up!") before Jason's parents and Billy's mom arrives to get a look at their grandchild. Jason's sister would have been there, too, but Pearl is out of town for college. Tommy floods Aisha's phone with text messages the whole time, asking for pictures of Wendy every other minute. Aisha feels sorry for her, Tommy is stuck with her father on a trip to the city.
Tommy: god she's adorable! i wish i was there!! ;-;
Aisha looks up from her phone. Jason's mother is holding Wendy now. Mr. Scott is chatting amicably with Jason and Billy. Zack is catching up with Mrs. Cranston, the woman who took him in after his own mother died. Aisha smiles at the sight before her, even if she feels a bit detached. She wishes Tommy was here, too, so she can have someone her age here. The only other kid here is a literal toddler.
But then Aisha notices someone who isn't in the living room with the other adults. Aisha goes to the kitchen and finds Kimberly at the kitchen counter, fingers playing with the ring at the chain around her neck. Kimberly's face isn't visible to Aisha in this angle, but she can easily imagine the look on her face. She and Trini were ready to get married, like Jason and Billy. Maybe have a baby of their own.
"Hey," Aisha softly says to announce her presence. "'About to put a dollar in the jar? I know you're a bit of a potty mouth."
Kimberly's head whips around. Aisha doesn't miss the tears in her eyes, she looks away. Kimberly hastily hides the ring back and rubs at her eyes. She tries to laugh and holds up the jar. "Oh yeah. I plan on labeling it 'Wendy's College Fund'."
III III III III
"Are you going somewhere?" Maya asks when she sees Aisha putting on rubber shoes.
"Yeah. I'm gonna go jog and hike. My friend Kimberly's taking me, dont worry."
Maya hums. "Have you been playing a sport without telling me? You look... tougher."
Aisha smiles. "Puberty, I guess."
Maya doesn't buy it, but she lets the topic go. "You're not doing anything tomorrow right? We're taking Griz and Winnie to the vet."
"I know, Mom." She gives Maya a parting kiss on the cheek. "I didn't forget."
She's been jogging with Kimberly ever since the older woman told her that she should work on developing her stamina. Aisha refuses to wake up early, so Kimberly compromised by agreeing to schedule it every dusk.
"You're slowing down, Campbell," Kimberly mocks, having the audacity to jog backwards so she can face a lagging Aisha.
"It's our tenth lap!" Aisha gasps out. "And I have corgi legs!"
Kimberly laughs. Just as she's about to turn to face forward, her head hits the pole of a stop sign. Aisha cracks up, knees bent in laughter. The only thing damaged is Kimberly's ego and the bent pole. A man smoking by his porch gapes at the damaged steel. Kimberly just sheepishly mumbles an excuse about old, crappy public utilities before dragging away a still giggling Aisha.
"Let's cool off for now," Kimberly says after the twelfth lap and Aisha almost lets herself crash on the ground until she remembers that doing so would be bad for her. "Still up for a hike?"
"Ugh. Kill me now."
"No, can do," Kimberly lightly says as she pulls a reluctant Aisha by the wrist. "Training another Yellow Ranger so soon would be a pain."
Kimberly finally lets Aisha sit down when they get to the spot Kimberly frequents, the entirety of Angel Grove just below them.
"All that's worth this beauty right?" Kimberly says. It's unfair that she's barely out of breath.
After a generous gulp from her water bottle, Aisha replies, "No, not at all."
Kimberly shakes her head. "Kids these days," she mutters and Aisha squeezes on her bottle so water would squirt on Kimberly's face. "Hey!"
"You're just crazy."
"I used to come here with Trini all the time."
Aisha's eyes narrow. If her legs weren't so tired, she would have stood up. "This isn't, like, your hook up spot, is it?"
Kimberly lets out a guffaw of laughter. "Don't worry. I had a car."
"You started it!"
"Jason and I have been thinking about giving up our coins soon."
Aisha sits up straighter. She's suddenly forgotten how tired she is. "You are?"
Kimberly taps at Aisha's cheek. "Don't look so sad. It won't be tomorrow. Jason just needs to think about his daughter now. They'll still be in Angel Grove so he can train the next Red Ranger."
"What about you?"
Kimberly gives her a sad smile. "I actually didn't plan on leaving for while until we got to train you. You've been doing a great job, and I think it's time someone else took the mantle. God, I can't believe I've been doing this shit for twelve years. I've wanted to move somewhere else for a bigger studio, too."
"But..." It hasn't even been long since she became a Ranger. What will she do when they're gone? "You're really leaving?"
"Hey, kid," Kimberly wipes at Aisha's cheek. "You're crying. It's like you're gonna miss me or something."
Aisha faces away from her and rubs at her eyes. "I am. I will." She peeks at Kimberly and she flushes at the look on her face. "Don't look so happy about it!"
Kimberly laughs. "I'm sorry. Don't worry, Aisha. You're gonna kick ass, even without us. I know Trini would be proud if she ever sees the new Yellow Ranger on the news."
Aisha looks down at the lights. She's drawn to the yellow lights without thinking about it. "Are you doing okay?"
Kimberly hums, lets her chin rest in her palm. "I'm doing better."
"Don't you..." Aisha bites her lip. "Don't you want to go to her? If you still love her, then why not go be with her? After you give the coin up, you can go look for her again."
Aisha took a bit of a risk by saying that. She isn't sure how Kimberly would react. But Kimberly keeps the small smile on her face. "I can't do something so selfish anymore. Leaving me was her choice and I'm going to respect that."
Aisha could only nod. It's not like she can offer any advice. "I'm sorry. I just... want you to be happy."
"I am happy." When Aisha doesn't look convinced, Kimberly adds. "Well, shit, kid, I can't smile twenty-four seven. Of course I still get sad. But I can't have my world revolve around Trini. Things would be so much better if she's here, but she's not. I still have my career and my family. Including you guys."
Aisha blinks. "Me, too?"
"Of course!" Kimberly wraps an arm around Aisha and pulls her to her side. "You're our baby Ranger."
Aisha pouts. "Let go. You're sweaty."
Kimberly chuckles and lets her go. "I swear you sound like her sometimes. Explains why Zack loves annoying you so much."
"You guys always say that but I don't even know what she looks like."
"Oh, really?" Kimberly pulls her phone out of her hoodie's pocket. "That's weird. I guess we never really had pictures in the ship. Here."
Kimberly has a picture of two girls pulled up. Kinberly looks younger with her hair styled in a wavy bob cut. She has her lips pressed against latina's cheek. Trini has sharp brown eyes, long dark hair falling over her shoulder. She's trying to supress a smile, but Aisha can still see howhappy she is.
There's this feeling that she's seen her before, but Aisha chalks it up to the assumption that she's probably seen her around Angel Grove when she was younger before their first move.
"You sure chose a cheesy pic," Aisha remarks.
Kimberly scoffs. "You don't get it yet. When you're in love, cheesiness doesn't matter."
Aisha thinks about the picture until she gets home. She just can't shake this feeling of familiarity. She's finished her shower and playing with Griz and Winnie on the couch when Maya finds her again.
"Don't stay up too late," Maya reminds her. "We're going to the city for the cats' appointment early."
That's when it finally hits Aisha. She feels so stupid.
III III III III
"It's good to see you again, Mrs. Campbell."
The doctor finally enters the clinic's small operating room where Maya and Aisha are waiting. She's still wearing her scrubs under her white coat, golden nametag shining under the flourescent bulbs. When she spots Aisha, she offers a small smile. Aisha feels the heat in her pocket become almost unbearable. This is ridiculous.
"Hi," Aisha greets Trini.
i mean... it was pretty obvious
Chapter 3: Predecessor
Lmao remember when i said this'll be the last one? Surprised me too.
This chapter also seems to be cursed cuz ive had multiple times where i accidentally deleted huge chunks of this chapter wtf. Im just glad i made it here.
Trigger warning for blood. And a tiny bit of gore. It's pretty action-filled, soo...
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Aisha startles Griz and Winnie when she suddenly stands from the couch. "Oh my gosh."
"What's wrong, hun?" Maya asks. Then suddenly, "You got your period? I just bought--"
"What?" Aisha shakes her head. "No, uh... I just remembered that I have homework."
Maya quirks a brow. "You don't have classes tomorrow."
Shoot. "Yeah, right." She chuckles. "Homecoming."
Maya shoots her a weird look before kissing her on the temple. "How about you just go sleep early tonight?"
She watches Maya settle herself on the spot she left. "What about you?"
"I'll wait for your brother. If he comes home past his curfew again, that boy's in trouble."
Aisha curls her lips inwards and nods, her mind quietly swirling with thoughts. She runs up the stairs into her room to get to her laptop. She hasn't logged into facebook in a while, and she winces when she sees the huge number in her notification. She ignores the bell.
She taps Kimberly's name on the search bar and immediately goes to the gallery. She is briefly distracted by the numerous pictures of Rajah Kimberly has, all beautifully taken, as expected of a professional photographer like Kimberly. The woman even took the effort to hold a photo shoot for her damn cat in her studio. She keeps getting distracted, scrolling through pictures she wishes she had personally witnessed - Jason and Billy's wedding; the Rangers with Tommy posing in front of her car the day she finally gets one; some sneaky candid pictures of Tommy with Katherine; Kimberly and Zack pulling funny faces at the camera while in Tusk 'n Rex on Valentine's Day and captioning it with "Single Awareness Day". It's the life they had before Aisha came (back) to Angel Grove and after Trini left. She looks at them wistfully, proud of how happy they managed to make themselves despite losing someone so important in their lives. Aisha quietly gasps when she gets to the picture she'd hoped to find.
She said YES!!!!!! Meet the future Mrs. Trini Hart <3, the caption says. Aisha rolls her eyes at the pun and ignores the moisture in her eyes. Walking down Kimberly's memory lane has made her a bit emotional.
It's a simple selfie picture, Kimberly's arm wrapped around Trini as she's pulled to her side. Kimberly's mouth is open in exaggerated delight as she looks at the camera as if to say, "Can you believe this?!" Trini is looking fondly at the face Kimberly is making, hand raised and fingers spread to show the ring.
Now, Aisha isn't very good at remembering faces. Especially not the face of someone she only saw once in an appointment to a vet clinic. The fact that Dr. Gomez wore glasses certainly doesn't help. But Aisha does remember what the ring the doctor wore looked like. A simple pink band.
That's it, isn't it?
Aisha suddenly hears music. She looks to her window and sees Tommy's across from hers. The curtains are drawn, but Tommy is definitely playing with the flute her mother left behind. Aisha fetches her phone and dials Tommy's number as she goes to her open window. The soft music stops.
"Hey girl, nervous about tomorrow?" Tommy cheekily asks over the phone before Aisha hears Here comes the bride from Tommy's flute. She must have been put on speaker.
"Forget about that." Homecoming isn't even a big deal. "Was Trini's engagement ring pink?"
The music stops. "Yeah. Rose gold. Me and Zack were with Kim when she was picking them out. Why?"
Aisha's feeling of slight triumph gets cut short by the question. Somehow, she didn't think about Tommy asking any questions. A bit foolish of her, really. "Nothing, just... curious if Kim was big enough of a dork to do that."
Tommy's white curtain is suddenly pulled aside. Tommy hums out an, "Uh-huh," at the phone on her hand as she shoots Aisha a half-lidded, totally-not-convinced look.
Aisha considers telling Tommy that she knows where Trini is and has actually already met her. But she knows how Tommy would get. Tommy talks so fondly about her, but at the same time Aisha has noticed that Tommy struggles with discussing her. Trini was the one who took Tommy under her wing. They were together in the last battle they ever fought in as Rangers. Aisha has a feeling Tommy saw in Trini the mother she lost. Knowing about the life Trini has now would pre-occupy Tommy's mind for a while. Tomorrow is her night with Katherine and Aisha doesn't want to take that away from her friends. Not with metaphorical ghosts. At least not for now.
"I can't tell you yet," Aisha finally says. "But I promise I will. Maybe after tomorrow."
Tommy gives her that same weird look that Maya gave her but nods. "Fine."
"Did Trini give Kim the ring back?" Aisha asks next because it could very well be a different one. She tries to not think about the implications if the answer is yes.
"I don't think so. Can't be too sure. When Kim and Trini were, uh, falling apart... I was still recovering myself." Tommy's eye starts looking vacant, downcast. "I was still in the hospital when they broke up and Trini left. Not being a Ranger anymore made healing take longer for me, so."
Aisha winces. "Right. Sorry."
"It's cool. Kim's wearing hers on a chain around her neck, right? Wouldn't Trini's be there if she gave it back?"
"Maybe. But she could have kept it somewhere else."
"Why don't you ask Kim herself?"
Aisha bites her lip. "I can't." Not yet, not yet.
"What's with you? On a secret mission or something?" Tommy is still suspicious, but she masks it with playfulness.
"Oh yeah. I'm calling it Code Yellow."
Tommy blinks. "Don't you mean Operation Yellow?"
"What's the flipping difference?!"
III III III III
"It's good to see you again, Mrs. Campbell."
"Just Maya, please."
"Sure thing, Maya."
The doctor catches Aisha's eye and the young girl almost jumps. She resists the urge to hiss when she feels the coin heat up. Well, if that isn't enough of a confirmation...
"Hello," Trini greets with a nod.
Aisha replies with a quiet, "Hi." Trini and Maya discuss the surgery while Aisha stares as discreetly as she could. She's forced to look away when a man and another woman enter the room wearing scrubs similar to Trini's.
"Don't worry," Trini says. Aisha thinks she's about to approach her, but the doctor leans down to scratch at Griz's head. "We'll take good care of you. I wouldn't want to upset your granpa."
"Oh, you remember," Aisha finds herself saying.
Trini takes off her coat. "He was a cute kid." She smiles at her. "You're very lucky."
Maya and Aisha wait in the reception area for the surgery to be over. Her mother is on her phone as they pass the time. Aisha tries to do the same, but her mind is consumed with thoughts.
She didn't see Trini wearing the ring. She should have expected so. A ring would have been in the way of the surgery. But Aisha needed to see it. If Trini was still wearing it, it would mean that she's still in love with Kimberly, right? Aisha glances at her mother, stares at Maya's bare ring finger. Yes, that would definitely be the case.
After a while of waiting, a new person enters the clinic. He's a young man, maybe in his early twenties. He walks to the receptionist who smiles at him as if they know each other.
"She's conducting a surgery right now," the receptionist says before the man could even speak. "But she should be finished soon."
"Cool." He walks backwards further inside. "I'll just go wait in her office."
The receptionist shakes her head, bemused. "Don't touch her stuff, okay? You know what happened last time."
The man turns his back on her and waves a hand as he turns a corner. "I can handle a grumpy midget, Sandra."
Aisha gets distracted by a chime from her phone. It's from Kimberly. It's a text message with a picture of a frowning Zack holding Rajah attached to it. They must be hanging out in Kimberly' apartment.
zack's mad that he didnt know about homecoming and your date. he wants to give him The Talk
Aisha bites her lip. Her thumbs hover over the keypad. It would be so easy.
I know where Trini is. I'm with her, actually. She's our cats' vet. Oh, and by the way, Kim, I've got a feeling that she's still hung up on you 'cause I totally saw her wearing the engagement ring you gave her. So, you should definitely get on that.
But Aisha's fingers don't move. Kimberly's trying to move on. Even with the way she's felt after all these years, she hasn't tried to find Trini. And what about Trini? She knows where Angel Grove is. If she feels the same, then why didn't she go back? How would she feel if Kimberly suddenly came here, if Aisha could even convince Kimberly to face the woman who left her?
Aisha groans. Romance is hard. She's not even directly involved, but this is giving her a headache.
"You've been groaning a lot," Maya remarks from beside Aisha. She forgot that her mother was still there. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Just... stressing over some stuff."
Maya puts her phone on her lap. "Your homecoming date?"
Aisha almost groans again. "No. Why do people keep mentioning that? I barely even know the guy." And she's pretty sure that, even though Rocky was the one who asked her, he doesn't like her in any way that they may insinuate.
"Then what is it?"
"Would it... Would it be so bad to push two people to be together already? If I could help them be happy together, shouldn't I?"
Maya blinks at her. But then her eyes soften with a lingering sadness. "Is this about the divorce? Because I've told you, baby. It's not -"
Aisha's eyes widen. "No!" she's quick to say.
But later at home, she'll rethink her answer. Question herself if being hung up over Kimberly's lost love is due to feeling responsible for a failed marriage. Maybe it's not just this connection she feels because of owning the coin that was once Trini's. Maybe it's not just because she wants Kimberly to be happier.
Back to the present, Aisha says, "It's not like that. I have a friend. And she's still in love with her fiance who left her. I just... don't understand why she doesn't just go to her."
Maya takes a moment to compose herself from her failed assumption. Aisha notices her mother's finger brush at a tan line where a ring used to be. "She's probably trying to move on. If her fiance doesn't want to be with her anymore, then that's the best option... for both of them."
But that's just it. Aisha isn't sure if that's the case. Aisha's eyes lock on Trini's hand when the surgery's finished. It's right there. The ring Kimberly gave her when they decided it was time for them to spend whatever time they have left together.
"Take good care of them," Trini says after reviewing with Maya how to care for Winnie and Griz.
Aisha keeps her head down in Trini's presence. Even if Trini is unaware of who Aisha is, she can't help but feel intimidated. She wants to tell her, let her know that she's taken over the mantle Trini left, but that feeling of inadequacy holds her back - aside from the fact that her mother is just right there. Aisha leaves the clinic with a feeling of disappointment, though there's an underlying hope at the sight of the rose gold ring on Trini's finger.
Griz and Winnie are in their cages and Aisha puts them at the backseat while Maya gets the car started. She hears her phone chime in her pocket and Aisha absentmindedly digs it out as she reaches for the passenger side's door. Something shiny falls out and she sees that it's her power coin that is rolling on the pavement away from her. She clicks her tongue and follows the item on a slight crouch until the coin hits someone's foot. Aisha blinks at another person's hand swooping down to take the coin before she could. She straightens herself and her heart stops when she sees that it's Trini in front of her. The woman has one hand holding her phone to her ear, the other wrapped around the yellow power coin. Surprise and recognition are in Trini's eyes as she ignores another woman's inaudible voice from her phone.
"Um, that-that's mine," Aisha stutters out and she internally winces. What an incredibly lame way to reveal your identity to your predecessor, she chastises herself.
Trini's eyes volley from Aisha to the coin then back to Aisha. Her mouth opens and closes like a fish out of water. It would have been a comical sight if Aisha herself didn't feel like she were having a stomachache.
With such a compromising situation, Aisha doesn't respond well. In her panicked state, she quickly snatches the coin from Trini and, without another word, runs to her mother's car and shuts the door. She tells Maya that they should leave now, and her mother thankfully doesn't question the strange behavior. She sees Trini stare at them from the rear view mirror, the man coming outside to talk to Trini once they have turned a corner.
III III III III
Aisha has never looked forward to school dances. At her old high school, no one asked her to be their date and she didn't have any close friends to come with her in solidarity. Tonight she has her two childhood friends back and a date in Rocky, but Aisha still keeps herself glued to her seat, like the usual wallflower she is. She and Rocky tried to dance, but unfortunately neither of them are the kind to enjoy such a thing. So after five minutes of jumping in place, waving their arms around, and feeling ridiculous, they have decided to give up and go back to their table.
"The punch tastes terrible," Rocky muses only now when he has emptied his cup.
"Yup," Aisha agrees, popping the 'p' for added effect.
After half a minute of silence, he says, "I'm gonna go get some more. You want me to refill yours, too?"
Aisha holds back a snort. "No. Go ahead."
Her eyes follow him, mostly because she's lost sight of Tommy and Katherine on the dance floor and she has nothing else to do. She maybe should feel bad for being such a disappointing date, but she just couldn't stop thinking about Trini and the fact that the woman now knows who she is. She shakes her head at a vain attempt to rid it of any Ranger related thoughts. Jason told her that, even if she is now a superhero, she shouldn't forget that she's still a teenager with a life separate from alien crime-fighting.
Enjoy the life you have when you're not in your armor, he had told her.
She holds onto those words and watches Rocky, telling herself to at least make an effort to enjoy the night with her date. Until she sees that Rocky didn't even go to the punch bowl. He's paces away from it, chatting with a boy that Aisha doubts is in their grade. Aisha tilts her head at Rocky's body language. He looks bashful, although nervous he doesn't seem to want to stop his conversation with the other boy.
"Hey, do you mind if I sit here?" someone asks and almost surprises Aisha. A blonde girl is pointing at the seat in front of her, the one Tommy vacated before Katherine pulled her into the dance floor. "It'll only be for a sec," the girl says and points at her heels. "My feet are killing me."
"Sure," Aisha replies and the girl shoots her a grateful smile.
The stranger groans when she slips off her shoes and massages her sore foot. "Sucks to be a girl, right?"
Aisha was still watching Rocky's interaction with the boy, so she slightly jumps at the question. When she catches up to what the girl said, she replies with, "Oh, well, not for me." She extends a leg so the other girl could see that she wore sneakers despite being in a dress. "No rule against this, last time I checked." Hours ago, Maya only chuckled at the sight of her daughter's footwear, interested in what her coworkers would think.
An amused grin stretches the blonde's lips. "I guess not." Still barefoot, she stands. "Hey. Wanna dance?"
"Not really." The girl pouts, so Aisha adds, "I don't like it so much." She juts a thumb at the direction where Rocky is. "And it's probably rude to just let my date come back to an empty table." The girl nods in understanding and walks off to the dance floor. Aisha's eyes flit from the shoes left behind to the girl. "Hey, what about your shoes?"
The girl dismissively waves a hand. "Don't need them anymore."
Aisha is left there in disbelief when Rocky comes back. "Why're there shoes in my chair?" he asks, confused.
"Some... crazy girl left it." She eyes Rocky's empty cup. "I thought you were gonna refill that."
"Oh." His face flushes. "I forgot."
Aisha follows his eyes and they land on the same boy he was talking to. He's standing alone at the table filled with finger food, preferring to munch on the stuff instead of joining the other teenagers on the dance floor.
"You can just go talk to him you know," Aisha says and Rocky flushes a deeper shade of red. Interesting.
"No," Rocky shakes his head. "I'll stay with you." He tries to sit but forgets the pair of heels that has now just poked his butt and Aisha has to stifle a giggle.
"Seriously, go," Aisha insists.
Rocky stares at her, but then his eyes shoot down to his own feet. "It's not what you think. I know you're friends with Tommy Oliver but it's not what you think."
Aisha just feigns ignorance for his sake. Rocky is terrible at this. "I'm not thinking anything."
He stares again. "It's really okay?"
"Really. At least one of us should enjoy the night."
Rocky beams, thanks Aisha with a hug that surprises her, and makes a beeline for the boy. Aisha smiles at the look on both boys' faces.
See?, Aisha wishes she could tell Kimberly. Going after someone you want isn't so hard.
"Hey, where's your date?"
Tommy and Katherine are back. They both chose to wear suits tonight. With Aisha pairing her dress up with sneakers, the trio received strange looks from teachers and students alike. Aisha had to hold back Katherine when they heard Bulk mutter "Dykes" under his breath. Who knows, though. Katherine may have hunted him down when Aisha lost sight of her.
"I set him free," Aisha nonchalantly says, briefly enjoying her confused friends' faces. "We weren't having fun together," she explains.
Tommy frowns and looks around until she spots Rocky. "That jerk ditched you just like that?" Aisha is already pulling on Tommy's arm before she could charge at the poor boy. She easily sets her down the chair, it's legs squeaking at the impact. Tommy's good eye widens. "That's against Ranger rules," she says under her breath about Aisha's super strength.
Aisha rolls her eyes. "I told Rocky it's okay. I wanna go home already, anyway."
"What?" Tommy pouts. "Really?"
"Oh my gosh," Katherine interrupts. She's holding up the shoes Barefoot Girl left behind. "Whose are these? They're adorable."
"I don't know. Some girl sat here for a minute cuz her feet hurt. I showed her my sneakers and told her that she doesn't have to be uncomfortable and she just..." she shrugs, "took them off."
"You think she'll come back for them?" Katherine asks and Tommy chastises her.
Aisha doesn't think so, but Katherine whines when she realizes they're too small for her anyway. Right. Katherine's pretty tall, and that girl's probably as small as Aisha.
"Aisha's going home early," Tommy tells Katherine before she shows them her phone, her father's caller I.D. on display. "He wants to check on me. I'll be back," she says before going outside where the music won't drown out her father's voice.
"Hey, no way. Seriously?"
"Yeah, I'm pretty tired." Aisha pauses, considers if she should say what she's about to. Ah, screw it. "You should ask Tommy out."
Katherine almost chokes on her shoddy punch. When she's done coughing she slaps Aisha on the arm. Aisha barely feels it, but she acts out a wince.
"Bitch, are you trying to drown me?" Katherine hisses.
"I'm telling you to ask Tommy out."
Katherine crosses her arms. Oh, she has her stubborn face on. "It's not that easy."
"Sure," Aisha shrugs. "But keep in mind that you guys are about to graduate. The clock's ticking, girl."
"Yeah, whatever." Katherine watches Aisha take Barefoot Girl's discarded shoes. "Ooh, you're keeping them?"
"Nah, they'd kill me. I'm giving them back to the owner. I'm bound to see them at school, right?"
"Sure, Prince Charming. Good luck finding Cinderella."
"Good luck getting a girlfriend, chicken."
III III III III
Katherine asked Tommy out. Tommy, predictably, said yes. Everyone is happy, Maya included. Aisha likes to think fueling Katherine's spite helped motivate her friend. She likes to think her little push helped, because then, maybe, if she helped push this heavier rock, then two certain people would end up happier than they could have been apart.
"You met Trini?"
Tommy's good eye is impossibly wide. Winnie is whining at her in her lap, but she ignores the kitten in favor of staring disbelievingly at Aisha.
"Yeah." Aisha picks at a loose thread from her bed's comforter. "She's a vet in the city I came from. I actually met her right before I came back to Angel Grove. Funny, right?" She looks up and tenses when she sees that Tommy is wiping tears from her eye. "Tommy?" she crawls across her bed to rub Tommy's back.
"You're right, that's hilarious," Tommy says through her tears.
"Hey, Tom," Aisha whispers. "Why are you crying?"
Tommy sniffs. "It was my fault. Zedd tore her to pieces. I couldn't be there for her because I wasn't good enough."
Aisha's heart breaks at the crack in Tommy's voice. She continues to rub her back, clueless as to what she could do to bring back the smile in Tommy's face. "I'm sure that's not true."
"You weren't there."
Aisha bites her lip. "I'm sure Trini doesn't feel that way."
"I wouldn't know. She left before I was strong enough to leave my bed. She never visited me. Never when I was awake."
Aisha can only hug Tommy. What could she say when she wasn't even there? When she doesn't even know who Trini was beyond her armor?
"I'm happy for her," Tommy soon says when the tears have subsided. "She's probably a kickass vet." She chuckles. "It's definitely killing Kim that she can't see Dr. Gomez in action. Wait. Why did you ask me about Trini's engagement ring?"
Aisha almost forgot. Hugging your crying bestfriend can be a bit distracting. "Trini's still wearing it. I thought she was married when I first met her. But then I saw her again. I'm pretty sure it's the same ring Kim gave her."
"Oh my god," Tommy gasps. "She's still... And Kim... You have to tell Kim. You gotta bring her there!"
"But Kim already told me she won't chase after Trini."
"That makes no sense. Kim always runs after Trini. It's like..." Tommy gestures wildy, "... their thing!"
That makes Aisha smile. "Really? That's adorable." Then her smile disappears. "Seriously, though. Kim said that it was Trini's choice to leave her. And that she's going to accept that."
"Pssh! Bullshit. And Trini's not over her, right?"
"Maybe?" Aisha scratches her head. "Honestly, assuming that from an old engagement ring is a bit of a leap, isn't it? What if she's just wearing it cuz it's pretty?"
"It's just the right amount of leap. And Trini isn't that kind of girl. Look, I don't know what would make Kim think Trini can't love her anymore, but I'm sure that there's no way that's the case."
"Yeah?" Tommy would know better, right?
"Well, if you wanna make sure, you can just ask Trini."
"What? No. No way. You do it. It's why I told you in the first place."
"I can't! I'll be a crying mess! And-And I'm scared to see her."
A crying and nervous Tommy is a rare sight, but Aisha doubts what Tommy says won't happen. Still. "Why would she even talk to me?"
"Duh. You're the Yellow Ranger now!"
Aisha throws a pillow at her face and hisses, "Not so loud, dum-dum!"
"Ow, my nose." Tommy hugs the pillow. "Come on. You're, like, her successor, right? You have a connection. If anything, you're the one thing connecting Trini and Kim to each other right now. It's like you're meant to bring them together."
"You believe in that junk?"
"As much as I believe in space coins that somehow always chooses teenagers to save the world."
Aisha scoffs. "I don't even believe in those things. And just because I have Trini's coin now won't mean she'd be interested in talking to me."
"She will. Trust me."
Aisha raises her brows. "Would you talk to Rita?"
Tommy twists her mouth to the side. "That's not a fair comparison. You're cuter than Rita."
Aisha throws a weak punch at Tommy's shoulder, but there's a quirk in her lips. "Be serious."
"Honestly? Yeah. I'd want to talk to her." When she sees the surprise in Aisha's face, Tommy plows on, "I know, it won't be a good idea. I'm not saying I wanna chat with her over tea or anything. I'd just wanna ask her some stuff. Unlike you though, I know I can't do that."
Aisha lets her back fall on her bed. "Won't it be imposing of me? Won't I be intervening or something?"
Tommy moves closer to Aisha, her stomach on the mattress and her elbows supporting her. "I'm not saying you should do anything parent-trappy. Just tell her that you want to get to know her. And then... maaaaybeee... mention Kim somewhere there and see how she reacts? Better yet she might ask about her herself." Tommy chuckles. "It feels like we're talking about our divorced parents."
Aisha's breath catches. "Mm, yeah."
"Oh," Tommy's voice drops, serious. "Sorry. I didn't mean to -"
Aisha shoots Tommy what she hopes is a reassuring smile. "No, it's okay."
"Your dad still doesn't contact you guys?"
"No. He just sends the money." Aisha can tell Tommy is holding back spitting out a string of curses for her sake. She bumps her shoulder with Tommy's elbow. "It's fine. You can say what's on your mind."
Tommy shakes her head. "How's Adrian taking it?" she asks instead.
She doesn't bother asking about Alfie since they're in the same grade. Tommy has noticed how much more irritable Alfie had become. He's more often out with "friends" than he is at home. And Tommy knows better than to ask Aisha how she's doing .
"He's doing better," Aisha answers. "He used to cry a lot... But ever since Mom got him Griz he's been happier. He's been really attached to the cats. He promised that he's gonna be a great dad and all that."
"Wow. 'Lucky he let Kim adopt Rajah."
"Yeah. I've seen the pictures. She turned her cat into a supermodel."
Tommy laughs. "That's Kim Hart for ya." After a brief lull in the conversation where Tommy just pets Winnie, she says, "So when are you gonna tell the others?"
Aisha squirms. "I don't know... Maybe after Kim comes back. She left yesterday for a client's event."
"You gotta do it before that, then. You gotta talk to Trini."
Aisha sighs. This feels a lot like intruding into something that isn't her business, but she genuinely does want to get to know the woman she succeeded. And if she can help Kimberly in the process, then that's a bonus, right? There's just this one thing that's bothering her...
"Hey. What did you mean when you said Zedd tore Trini apart?"
Tommy's face falls. "Oh."
III III III III
Aisha comes back to the clinic ready with the excuse Tommy prepared for her.
"Say you were in the city visiting your dad," Tommy suggested. "So you thought you might as well pass by the clinic and ask the doctor some questions if she was free."
It only occured to Aisha on the bus getting there that she would have suspiciously sounded like a teenager with a hopeless crush on her cat's veterinarian. But it's too late to back out now. She only hoped that Trini wasn't busy with an appointment.
Fortunately, Aisha didn't need to spout out some lame excuse. Trini apparently expected Aisha to come back. Sandra the receptionist recognizes her when she enters the clinic and leads her to Trini's office further inside.
"She's checking on the Marsh family's dog right now," Sandra says as she opens the door to the office, revealing it to be empty. "But she'll almost be done with them. She says you can wait here."
She thanks Sandra who leaves with a kind smile. After five minutes of trying to sit still, she stands to walk off her nerves.
"It's okay, Aisha," she tells herself. "It's just Trini Gomez." Aisha suddenly spots Trini's framed degree on the wall. "Dr. Trini Gomez. She worked her ass off for that title. Don't forget."
"It's cool. Trini's fine," a second voice says.
Aisha jumps like a startled mouse. Trini is nonchalantly leaning against the door frame, hands tucked into her coat's pockets and head tilted to the side in amusement.
"Oh!" Aisha tucks her arms at her side, then internally winces. What is she, a soldier?
(Well, kind of, yeah.)
"Um, okay... uh, hi."
"Hey." Trini closes her door and takes her seat, motions for Aisha to do the same. She takes off her glasses and looks at Aisha with those amber eyes. "So. You're the new Yellow?"
A meek nod.
"After I first met you actually." She pulls out the coin. "Found this in my pocket when we got to Angel Grove. Freaked me out when I couldn't get rid of it. And every time I wanted to show it to my mom, it'll magically disappear."
Trini smirks, but Aisha can see the nostalgia in her eyes when they see the familiar coin. "Yeah, it does that."
She tucks the coin back into her pocket. "Thank you for letting me talk to you. I'm sure you're busy."
"Don't worry about it. I understand. If I could, I'd want to meet the Yellow Ranger before me, too. Jason's the only one lucky enough to. Well." Trini smiles wryly. "As lucky as he could be with Zordon."
"He's not so bad anymore. At least Zack says so." He reminds Aisha of her late grandfather. A tad grumpy, hides how lonely he actually is. "Tommy told me he'll like me if I bring him and Alpha books to read. He really likes Sherlock Holmes. We've all been bringing them books lately, actually. But the other day Kim thought it'd be funny to give them Fifty Shades of Gray so now she's not allowed to lend them any book at all."
Aisha's hand flies to her mouth as soon as she realizes whose name came out of it. She was so caught up in trying to make a good impression that she didn't think about what she was saying. She tries to decipher the expression in Trini's face, but she has a blank enough look that Aisha can't tell if she isn't pleased. Tommy and Zack has told her about this before.
"Crazy Girl's a hard book to read if you don't know her well," Zack had said.
"That sounds like Kim alright," Trini eventually says and Aisha lets out the breath she didn't know she was holding. "How are they treating you?"
"They're great," she replies, and finds herself smiling for the first time despite the nervousness. "Jason's teaching me how to use a sword since I can't summon my weapon yet. I've been learning a lot about the aliens they've encountered before from Billy, just in case I get to face off against them, too. Zack teaches me how to pilot my zord, but he teases me more than anything."
Trini chuckles. She leans back in her chair, looking a bit more relaxed. "He can be an ass."
Aisha chastises herself for almost forgetting an important update. "Jason and Billy have a daughter now."
Trini's expression turns into something soft. Her usual smirk is replaced by a genuine grin. "Really?"
Aisha pulls out her phone. "Do you want to see her?" She thinks she sees a flash of hesitation in Trini's face. But Aisha already has the picture of Billy and Jason holding their baby on the screen. "Her name's Wendy."
For whatever reason, Aisha knows Trini was about to refuse. But the words Trini wanted to say doesn't get to come out when she sees the picture of the Scott family. The hard, guarded exterior of Dr. Trini Gomez crumbles for a moment. She turns soft at the sight of Wendy. "She's beautiful."
How foolish of Aisha. She should have known to start with a baby to break the tension. She swipes at the screen to show more of the pictures she took to send to Tommy when the poor girl was with her father and couldn't visit. "There was almost a fight over who gets to hold her the longest. It got worse when Jason and Billy's parents arrived." A picture of Kimberly with Wendy slides in next and Aisha's heart almost jumps in her throat. "Ah, s-sorry."
Trini forces out a chuckle. That tension is back. "It's fine. You know about me and Kim, huh?"
Aisha considers the possible responses in her head, but she sees no point in beating around the bush when the opportunity to present what she came for is right in front of her. She sets the phone on her lap.
"Yes. I didn't just come here to get to know you. I actually came here because of Kim."
Trini's brows rise. "She sent you to talk to me?"
"No!" Aisha quickly shakes her head. "They don't even know that you're here. Actually, only Tommy knows that I've already met you."
"I don't know why you left them. But whatever the reason is, it must be important you, right? Just in case, I didn't want to get ahead of myself and just tell them where you were until I've talked to you about it first. I didn't want to... intrude in your life or anything like that. Especially since it's not my business. I didn't want to bother you."
Trini nods as she absorbs everything Aisha said. "Then why are you here?"
Aisha's fingers dig into the skin of her thighs. Trini sure is an intimidating woman. "Could you... If it's okay with you, will come to Angel Grove and visit them? Talk to Kim?"
Trini wavers, eyes breaking eye contact. "You know, I was expecting you to say that. Actually hearing it is pretty jarring though. So you really came all the way here to convince me to see Kim?"
"Well, not just Kim," Aisha says defensively, but she breaks under Trini's gaze. "Okay, yes, mainly because of Kim."
The look Trini shoots her almost looks teasing. "She charmed you that much, huh?"
Aisha shifts in her seat. "I'm not admitting to that. Kim's head is big enough as it is."
Trini rolls her eyes. "Oh, yeah." She pauses, her eyes on her lap. The table is in the way, but Aisha knows Trini's looking at the ring Aisha saw on her finger.
"You have to be considering it," Aisha says, breaking the silence Trini seemed lost in. "You wouldn't be a bus ride away from Angel Grove if you weren't."
"What if I have another reason?"
Aisha's heart aches when she remembers what Tommy said. How much Trini lost.
"Right, but then... Why would you keep wearing her ring?"
Trini breaks into a grin. Her hands raise in surrender and Aisha's eyes land on the ring again. "Damn. You got me there. Yeah, I do plan on talking to her."
Aisha couldn't help but huff, frustrated. "You could've just admitted to that, you know."
"I was trying to get to know what kind of person you were, Aisha." She sits back in her seat again, fingers twisting the ring in her finger. "If you knew, then why even come here to convince me?"
Aisha shrugs. "I wanted to make sure?"
People need a little push sometimes, she's come to learn.
"I am. I will go see her, and Zack, and Billy and Jason." Trini pauses, and in the lull Aisha feels anxiety crawl it's way out of no where into Aisha's mind. "I just have a lot to say. Things I have to apologize for. It's just hard." A wry smile twists her lips. "Though I may have been procrastinating."
"But you are gonna right? You'll see them again?"
"I am. But in time."
Aisha nods. "That's all I wanted to know."
Trini's phone suddenly rings then. When she sees who the caller is, she offers Aisha an apologetic look. "It's my brother. He's on his way here, so..."
"Oh, no, it's okay." Aisha stands. She suddenly realizes that those feelings of mixed anxiety and delight isn't hers, undoubtedly second hand feelings from the Bond. She pushes it back. She didn't think the Bond reached this far. "I'll take that as my cue to go. Thank you again, for letting me talk to you."
Trini is still letting her phone ring. She offers Aisha another genuine smile. Aisha returns it and makes her leave, but Trini says one last thing before she's out the door.
Aisha turns back, question ready on her tongue. But Trini isn't facing her, talking to her brother on the phone.
Aisha leaves Trini's office feeling accomplished. She'd said what she wanted to say. Whether it helped or not, Aisha just hopes everything turns out well. Or at the very least, not any worse.
When the realization finally sinks in, Aisha almost wants to laugh at the ridiculousness of it. She runs to the end of the narrow hallway until she reaches the reception area. A woman wearing a pink leather jacket with her hair tied up to a high ponytail is talking to Sandra. She turns around, smile bright when she sees Aisha. She thanks Sandra for her help before going to Aisha with the clinic's flier in her hand.
Leaning close, she whispers, "Knew it was you I felt."
"Kim, what are you doing here?"
Kimberly is too distracted by the flier to notice Aisha's distress. "I was on my way back to Angel Grove so I stopped by to see if you needed a ride. I also need a vet for Rajah. Angel Grove doesn't have one. Figures. I've just been putting it off, so..." she sighs suddenly. Aisha can imagine why she had been putting it off. "So are you ready to go?" Kimberly eyes Aisha, now noticing that her person is absent of any pets. "Where're your cats?"
"I... didn't bring them with me."
"Then why are you..."
Aisha suddenly feels like Kimberly is dissecting her through the bond. Because she most likely is. Aisha can tell from Kimberly's face the exact moment the pieces came together.
"Aisha, what's your vet's name?"
"... Dr. Gomez."
Kimberly's expression hardens. "Dr. Trinity Gomez?"
"Kimmy?" a third voice interrupts. They turn around to see the man from Aisha's last visit. "It's me, Gabby? Remember?"
Kimberly lets out a short laugh. But Aisha can easily tell that it isn't genuine. "Of course, I do. How could I forget?"
Aisha almost doubles over when she is suddenly overwhelmed by a wave of negative emotions that are filled with hate, hate, hate. Just so much hatred that it makes Aisha want to puke. Keeping a straight face through it takes difficulty and the source of it all isn't faring any better.
"Ah, right," the man, Gabby, scratches his cheek. It seems none of them are comfortable with this meeting. "It's probably easier to tell apart by now. Guess you're here for my sister? That's good! She's been--"
"No!" Kimberly interrupts. She must regret raising her voice because her hand suddenly flies up to her mouth. "Sorry. I... I have to go."
Kimberly high tails it out of there, and Gabby's confusion increases when he finally notices Aisha's presence. The teenager only offers a meek goodbye before running after Kimberly. Fortunately, Kimberly's car is still there, though not completely out of willingness to stay. Aisha finds Kimberly hunched over the steering wheel, shoulders heaving and knuckles white as her fingers wrap around the wheel.
"Can you drive?" Kimberly struggles to say through the panic attack.
"Y-Yeah." Tommy's been teaching her. "But I don't have a license yet."
"I don't care. You don't have to drive all the way to Angel Grove. Just away from here." Kimberly finally pulls her face away from the wheel, revealing her tear-stricken cheeks. "Please."
So Aisha takes the keys.
Aisha never thought that her first time actually driving a car would be like this. But she does as told while Kimberly brings herself down from her panic attack. When they pass the city limits on the long stretch of road leading to Angel Grove, Aisha pulls the car over to the side until conrcrete turns into dirt and gravel. Kimberly has calmed down considerably by now, but her eyes are blankly staring at the window. Despite the empty look, the tears don't lie and the Bond certainly can't be deceived. There's still a worrying amount of negative feelings, and the hatred has Aisha sensing tears behind her own eyes.
Kimberly's eyes close, and she takes a deep breath in before she releases it. "You knew who she was?"
"Not until the other day, when you showed me a picture of her. I went there to make sure it was her... and talk. About you. I asked her to come back to Angel Grove."
Kimberly's palms press at her eyes. "She's not coming back, Aisha. Not for me."
"But she said she will. It'll just take her some time to --"
"She's not coming back!"
Aisha flinches at Kimberly's voice and the look of frustration and sorrow in her eyes. Kimberly notices Aisha visibly shrink in fear, so she leans back in her seat, tired.
"She's not coming back for me," Kimberly repeats, defeatedly. "She won't come back to me."
"I'm sorry. I just..." Aisha wipes at the tears that have escaped. "I just wanted to help."
After a moment, Kimberly says, "I know." She leans over the console and helps wipe the tears from Aisha's face. Despite her inner turmoil, Kimberly sends a reassuring smile Aisha's way. "Let's just go home."
On the rest of the drive back, Aisha realizes her mistake. Back then, the despise she felt from Kimberly through the Bond wasn't directed towards Aisha. It wasn't directed to anyone at all. The person Kimberly hates is herself.
III III III
Tommy is just as confused as Aisha when she tells her what happened at the clinic. She doesn't know what would prompt Kimberly to think Trini would feel that way. Something else must have happened in the battle with Zedd, and if Tommy doesn't know, it's highly likely the other Rangers don't either.
Aisha and Tommy are both a mess the next day in school, and of course Katherine notices.
"What's wrong with you two?" Katherine asks. "You've been really quiet."
Aisha and Tommy exchange a look. Aisha can tell that Tommy feels bad for keeping secrets from Katherine. Aisha, in turn, feels guilty for being the cause of this chain of events.
"Just Monday Blues, babe," Tommy says with a smile, adding that last part likely to distract Katherine. It works, Katherine's cheeks now sporting the color pink. "So, have you found your Barefoot Cinderella yet?" Tommy asks Aisha.
Aisha shakes her head. She does one last sweeping look across the cafeteria again, but sees no sign of her. "She must be either a junior or freshman."
"Or maybe you just don't remember her right," Katherine suggests. "You're pretty bad with faces."
Aisha frowns. She can't even deny that, darn.
"What does she look like again?" Tommy asks.
"Blonde, white, with blue eyes."
All three of them look around, and they count at least twelve girls with the same description."That doesn't help," says Katherine, white girl with blonde hair and blue eyes herself.
Aisha shrugs. "Her hair was pretty short. Up until her chin I think."
They look around again, brings it down to seven. But it isn't any of them.
"You know what? You should just keep it," Tommy says.
"I don't wear heels."
"'Afraid of heights?" Katherine quips.
"You're only smug 'cause you had a growth spurt," Aisha huffs.
"Who knows?" Tommy grins. "You might get one, too."
If only Aisha got that growth spurt instead of superpowers. Then again, she wouldn't have gotten acquainted with Kimberly, Jason, Billy, and Zack if it weren't for the coin. Is it really worth all the imminent danger though?
III III III III
Aisha is dragging her feet by the end of the school day. For the first time since her first week as the Yellow Ranger, she's anxious to get to the ship. She'd asked Kimberly if they should tell the others about Trini, and Kimberly only replied with an empty, "Do whatever you want."
She knows that she should tell them. They also loved Trini, they had the right to know. She's just a little scared that they would be upset that she kept it to herself for days.
Aisha's by the gates leading to the quarry when she hears the rev of a motorcycle headed her way. She turns to see the rider pull up in front of her, yellow helmet hiding everything but blue eyes from Aisha.
"Hey, uh, you know you're not allowed to go there, right?" the stranger says, letting Aisha know that the rider is female. "Plus it's pretty dangerous."
Aisha points at the vehicle. "That's dangerous, too, but I don't think that's stopping you."
Her blue eyes crinkle, Aisha can guess in amusement. "Touche. 'Just thought I'd check you're not just lost or something." She kicks the stand away and shrugs. "You should probably tie your laces up before your hike though, Sneakers."
Aisha looks down and sighs when she sees that they are untied. She crouches to lace them up while she hears the stranger drive away.
Suddenly, Aisha feels a surge of urgency overcome her at the same time she feels her coin heat up. A crash from the sky and the sound of cracking pavement later, she finds out what it is she detected. Something has fallen along the road from the quarry, and Aisha's heart picks up speed when she remembers that the rider was headed in that direction. She runs until she sees the pulverised road. Dust and smoke hides whatever crashed on Angel Grove, but she already has an idea what it may be; or at the very least what it's after.
The rider is crumpled on the ground yards away from her bike. Aisha is immediately beside her, hoping that the stranger didn't break anything. No limb seems to be out of place, but there's a wound on her leg that is slowly soaking her pant leg with blood. Aisha tries hard to ignore the uneasiness in her chest at the sight. She has to remain calm if she doesn't want this civilian to sustain anymore injuries.
"Hey!" Aisha pulls the stranger into her arms and takes the helmet off of her. Out comes spilling short blonde hair and the face of a girl around Aisha's age. "Wait, you're..."
The girl's closed lids scrunch up before they groggily open. Blue eyes hazily stare up at her. "Hey, Sneakers, what's up--" She suddenly curls up in pain. She must have only now registered her leg injury. "Ah, shit. The hell was that?"
They both look back at the crash behind them, the dust cloud now dispersed enough to reveal a black sphhere. A crack starts forming, an opening for whatever it is that's inside the pod. Judging by the growl coming from inside, Aisha doesn't think she wants to meet the the creature; not with an innocent civilian here with her.
Crap, she should have put on her armor before she came to her.
"We need to get out of here!" Aisha pulls the girl up, but she suddenly jerks with a grunt of pain.
"I-I can't! My leg's..!"
Something comes flying past them, and Aisha sees what seems to be a door slide across the side of the road with a screech. A roar resounds next, and they see the impatient creature come out of the pod.
It's covered in thick black fur with yellow stripes. Though as big as a bear, the head reminds Aisha of a dog, except the snout is much wider and the ears bigger. Six smokey grey eyes look around, standing on six legs and body ending with a long thick tail.
"H-Holy shit!" the girl clings to Aisha's arm with a grip that would have hurt if not for her durability.
"We have to go!"
In one quick motion, Aisha puts an arm across the girl's back and below her legs. She takes off into the direction of the quarry. She can't go to the town, people will get hurt. The beast fortunately follows with a growl, but that's a whole other problem to solve.
The girl is treated to a view of the creature running after them as she's being carried, and the sight of it has her spitting out a slew of curses. "Shit, shit, shit, not that you're not already running freakishly fast, but you gotta go faster!"
She's right. Aisha can hear its pants and snarls coming nearer. Aisha sends a distress call through the Bond, but she has a feeling that all that the others have already felt her distress.
With a quick turn, Aisha runs into the forest. Being in an open space gives the creature an advatage. In the forest Aisha will need to weave around trees, but she can use that against the much bigger monster.
Once they have lost the monster, Aisha takes a moment to lean against a tree and catch her breath.
"There's three more!"
The two of them look up to the sky and see three more pods shooting down into Angel Grove.
Oh, for the love of...
Judging from the trajectory, the two other pods will land closer to the center of town. Where there are people. Shit.
Aisha hears the pounding of its feet before it pounces, so she is able to jump away from its claws. The heat in her coin doesn't let up even as she continues to run. She can feel her armor crawling just underneath her skin, begging to come out and protect her. She can't morph in front of this girl, but is her secret really worth both of their lives?
"Ah!" Aisha screams. One of the beast's claws has swiped her back. She falls to the ground, holding the girl against her so she can take the brunt of the fall.
"Sneakers!" the girl frantically clutches her shoulder. "Oh my god. Get up, Sneakers!"
Aisha can only grunt. She tries to stand. With her powers, carrying a girl in her arms wouldn't have been a problem,but the deep cuts on her back makes her falter and fall to her knees. The beast is behind them, just watching as its prey can no longer run away.
Aisha lets out a deep sigh. She has no choice. Screw this secret identity.
But before Aisha can do anything else, the girl pulls away from her and stands between her and the beast, bleeding leg and all.
"What are you doing?" Aisha asks, bewildered.
"Go and run away already!" the girl says. Her legs are shaking and her voice is trembling, but she seems to have no plans of moving away. "Just hurry up so at least one of us survives!"
Wow. What a hero.
The beast has waited long enough. It charges and so does Aisha.
(She hopes Zordon will forgive her. She'll just give him a new book later.)
She catches the beast's open jaw in her hands. One hand on the top and one on the bottom, the only reason Aisha's fingers aren't falling off right now is because she has finally let the armor cover her hands and fore arms.
Aisha's nose scrunches in disgust. "You... stink!" she grunts as she throws it by the jaw - she's sure the action also caused it to break.
Aisha winces when she hears it whimper from the impact... until she remembers that it's still trying to kill her.
"What the fuck?!"
Aisha lets herself see the girl's reaction. She's on her knees, looking from Aisha to the recovering beast with wide eyes. Those eyes trail downwards and widen even more when she sees the yellow armor.
"You're a Ranger?" comes the girl's disbelieving whisper.
"Still a Ranger-in-training, actually."
They hear a crack and they both watch in horror as the monster's jaw snaps itself into place. That's much faster than her own healing factor.
"Great," Aisha drawls as she morphs into her armor. "Just great."
She hears the other Ranger's voices as soon as the helmet slips into place.
"What the fuck," Zack's voice comes in a hiss. "This is probably the fugliest alien we've ever faced."
"They look pretty cool, actually," Billy says.
Zack suddenly screams in distress. "I think it understood what I said!"
"Fuck's sake, Zack," Jason groans.
Aisha tunes herself out of the comm link. She'll chat later. She's glad that the other Rangers are already dealing with the other pods.
Aisha charges at the monster again. This time Aisha dodges its jaw before she elbows its neck. It goes on like that for Aisha; dodge then attack, dodge then attack. But no matter how many blows she lands, no matter how many bones she breaks, the monster always comes back.
Maybe if she had a weapon or something...
The beast's thick tail manages to hit her on the back and Aisha cries with the additional stinging of her open wound. She falls to the ground and she hears the biker call out to her. She hurries to right herself when she hears it pounce after her.
Aisha hears a familiar sound and she can't help the smile on her face when the beast crashes with its back covered in arrows made of hard light. The Pink Ranger appears and, smug as ever, places a foot on the monster's back.
"Hey," Kimberly casually says. When she notices the biker, a pink gloved hand points at her. "And who're you?"
"I'm her schoolmate," the girl in question replies, if a bit starstruck.
Kimberly is silent for a second before her head snaps back to Aisha. "And how does she know that a Power Ranger attends school?"
Aisha suddenly feels even smaller. "I morphed in front of her."
She can't see Kimberly's expression behind the visor, but based on the pose she has adopted - hand on a cocked hip, head tilted to the side - she must have her "what the fuck, girl?!" look on.
"I had no choice!"
"We're gonna talk about this later," Kimberly says.
Aisha shrugs and mumbles, "We kinda have a lot to talk about."
Kimberly is interrupted when the monster under her foot stirs. Despite all of the arrows Kimberly landed it's still alive.
Kimberly flips away when the monster jerks its torso to get her off its back. "Fuck, that healing factor's gonna be a bitch to deal with. Go take the girl somewhere safe. I'll deal with it."
Kimberly pulls up her bow to aim. Hard light arrows materialize and Kimberly perfectly shoots a arrows to all six eyes.
"What? No, I can help! Are we seriously going to have this conversation again?!"
"You're injured. I can feel it. You don't even have your weapon yet. You can't just do what you did last time and risk damaging yourself everytime you fight these things!"
Aisha's hands clench into fists at her sides. She's being treated like a kid again; like a kid that doesn't know any better. She can't help but glare at the ground. She sees Kimberly's feet come closer and a hand comes up to her shoulder. She looks up at the Pink Ranger.
"A Ranger's first priority is to protect, Aisha. Right now, it's your job to protect her. Understand?"
Aisha stills feels like they're words meant to placate her, but Kimberly's right that Aisha needs to protect her schoolmate. So she nods and wordlessly takes the girl in her arms again.
"Where are we going?" the girl asks.
"Hospital. You need to get your leg treated. And it's far from where those pods landed. Hey, uh... I'm gonna need you to keep this a secret, okay? The whole Ranger thing."
Her expression shifts into something playful. "What will I get in return?"
Aisha shrugs. She jumps from the rock face and grins when the girl shrieks and clings to her. "How about I don't drop you?"
They land smoothly and Aisha continues running. The girl pouts at her. "We both know you won't do that," she says but her arms wrap tighter around Aisha's neck.
"I'll give your shoes back? I have it in my locker."
The girl clicks her tongue, disappointed. "Lame."
There are people evacuating, and some look and point as the Yellow Ranger runs across town with a girl in her arms. Aisha slows down when they see an ambulance on stand by in the streets. A few policemen are also there, telling people what's going on and preventing them from going where the fight is.
"Is it okay if I leave you here?" Aisha says as she's already letting go of the girl and helping her to her feet. "I need to go back."
Aisha turns around, but a hand holds her back. She looks back at frustrated blue eyes. "The hell are you talking about? You need to get those cuts on your back treated too!"
Aisha cautiously looks around at the people watching with curiosity. She leans closer and says, "I'm not taking my armor off in front of anyone. And I need to help my friends. I need to do my job."
The girl looks like she wants to argue further, but she eventually says, "Fine. Then I want your name in return."
Aisha's head tilts curiously at this girl. Going against what Zordon has told her, she says, "Aisha Campbell."
The girl lets go of her arm in favor of holding out a hand. Aisha awkwardly shakes it. "Summer Landsdown." She smiles. "Thank you for saving my life, Aisha."
Oh. That's a really nice thing to hear.
III III III III
The Rangers, tired and worn, later find themselves back in the ship with Zordon. Aisha has just gotten the worst of her wounds treated by Zack, sitting at the edge of her pedestal. Jason told her to go home, but she can't. She has yet to tell them about Trini.
"Laians," Zordon ominously says. "Strange. They aren't sentient enough creatures to even desire power. They're more like the pet dogs and alligators of your planet."
"Humans don't have alligators for pets, Zordon," Billy points out.
Zordon frowns. "Well, that's a shame."
"If they're pets, then they'd have a master, right?" Jason muses.
"That's very likely, yes," Zordon nods. "They could have been the one to put them in the pods and send them here."
"But they had no master," Zack says. "It was just the space mutts."
"Not one we noticed," Kimberly adds. "The dogs could have been a distraction. Or a way to get to know us and what we're capable of."
"Alpha didn't sense a fifth object enter the atmosphere," Billy says.
"Then the second one. He used them to scout us. See what we're capable of."
Aisha looks down at her lap. Her wounds have yet to close and she merely assisted Kimberly who shot arrows at the Laian until its own healing factor wore its body out. "They probably think I'm the weakest one of us."
"Whaaat?" Zack jumps from his pedestal to hers. "Don't think like that. We've been doing this schtik for years and let me tell you; all that matters is you beat the bad guy. No one's keeping count of how much damage you're dealt here."
"And you shouldn't compare yourself to us," Billy says. "Try comparing yourself to the you from weeks ago and you'd be impressed."
"And we are," Zordon suddenly says. "Impressed, I mean."
All five of them look at Zordon with wide eyes. Jason is the first to break the silence, though he's barely comprehensible. "You... you just. Did you just?"
"Wow," Zack smirks. "Playing favorites now, Zordon?"
Zordon scowls, but the pixels he's made of quivering makes Aisha think that he's flustered. "Go home and rest, Rangers," is his farewell before hiding back into the ship's walls.
"Aisha's the favorite, who knew?" Zack muses. "Jealous, Jason?"
"I'm a grown man, Taylor."
"And a father, too," Billy tangles his fingers with Jason's. "We better go. Mom's having a blast with Wendy but I wanna see her already."
"Yeah, me too." Jason tells Zack, "Go check on the bar."
Zack grimaces. "I'm still hung over from last night, but yeah, okay."
Aisha frowns. "Why are you hung over?"
He shoots Kimberly a look. "Because Kimmy over here decided that we should get drunk off our asses last night. God, I thought I can't get drunk anymore, but I guess aging still affects us in some way."
Jason and Billy halt in their way to the exit. Jason glances at a quiet Kimberly curiously. "Why did you get drunk? Did something happen?"
Kimberly shrugs. "Can't I just do it for fun?"
"Because you haven't thought getting drunk's fun since high school. Unless..."
Kimberly's eyes stray to Aisha who can only silently look back. She knows Kimberly wants Aisha to be the one to tell them, but she doesn't think she should. Kimberly sighs.
"Aisha knows Trini. She's apparently their cat's vet. I... almost saw her again."
A pregnant silence overtakes the room. Zordon can hear their conversation, Aisha knows he can, but he has chosen to remain quiet, too. Jason and Billy are having a silent conversation of their own. Zack is looking from Aisha to Kimberly with an unreadable look on his face.
"You've met her?" Zack asks Aisha. "You've seen her?"
Aisha nods. It's unnerving to see Zack so serious, so unlike his usual self. "I didn't know at first. I realized it was her when Kim showed me a picture of her. So I went back to her clinic to talk."
"And yesterday..." Zack trails off. His face hardens. He stands and leaves Aisha to approach Kimberly. "Why didn't you tell me? All these years that we've been there for each other after she left... why didn't you tell me?"
Kimberly pinches the bridge of her nose. "I didn't want to talk about her, Zack."
"The fuck, Kim?" He shakes his head. He forces back a smile on his face, but it looks desperate and strained. "If you told me about it, I would have driven you up to Trini instead! Come on, let's go see her. Let's... We can go buy a bunch of flowers and... No, she doesn't like that. Bring Rajah and --"
"I told you that I'm not going to," Kimberly interrupts. "She hates me now. It's better if we just stay the way we are now and move on."
Zack's face hardens. "The hell are you talking about? Sure, what happened with Zedd was hard. Trini was... she was a mess, we were all a mess. But we're okay now! Things can go back to the way they used to be!"
"Things can't go back to the way they used to be, Zack. Trini doesn't want to come back. We should all just leave her alone and let her live her life. I never expect her to come back anyway."
"Then what about us?!" Zack's voice rising makes Aisha jump in her seat. "We missed her too! And we're supposed to accept that? Her leaving may have been for the best back then, but this is getting ridiculous, Kim."
"This is none of your business, Zack," Kimberly says as she leaves her pedestal, but Zack follows her across the bridge, a hand on her wrist to hold her back from leaving.
"Bullshit. You're my family. So get your fucking shit together because I'm sick of this! I'm sick of always losing family and I at least want both of you back while I still can!"
Aisha is confused by the guilt she feels from Jason and Billy through the Bond until she reasses what Zack said. Zack no longer has his mother. He and Tommy are still the siblings each other wished to have, but without Ranger duties connecting them they just aren't as close as they used to be. Billy and Jason are married and focusing on building a family of their own. Trini left and took a part of Kimberly's heart with her.
Zack has been left behind, the only one unwilling to accept the changes made by the passage of time. Aisha can epathize with Kimberly's reluctance to face another heartbreak, but she can also understand Zack's desperation and frustration. It's hard to see your family fall apart.
"Guys, let's just... calm down, okay?" Aisha steps between Zack and Kimberly. Jason is trying to ground Billy, so she has taken the initiative. "We shouldn't be fighting about this."
Kimberly takes this as her chance to finally leave.
"So you're gonna start acting like her now?!" Zack says over Aisha's shoulder. "You're gonna run away like she always does?!"
"Zack, stop," Billy sharply says. It sounded so uncharacteristic that Aisha is taken aback.
But Zack ignores him. "You're taking the easy way out!"
Something in Kimberly snaps then. She turns back and ignores Aisha who's standing between them to grip the front of Zack's shirt. "You think this is easy for me?! Even if I want to do anything, I can't!"
Aisha's head hurts. She can't even tell whose feelings are whose anymore.
"You're not doing anything cuz you're afraid of whatever it is you did! Don't think I never noticed your guilt! You did something, so own up to it!"
Frustration. Anger. Loneliness. Longing.
"You don't understand!"
Self-hatred. Shame. Guilt. Grief.
"Then make me understand!"
That's when Aisha notices that Kimberly and Zack's armor has slowly been materializing. If it's because of their strong emotions making them lose control or that a full-on fight is about to break out, she isn't sure. Zack has joked about things like these always happening before Aisha came, usually between Jason and Zack. But Aisha's here now, and she can't let two full grown adults do something so childish.
She isn't sure which one of them causes it, but through the struggle all three of them end up tripping. They fall off the bridge and into the gaping hole at the center of the pedestals. The wispy lights of the Morphing Grid engulfs Aisha. Among the haze of colored lights she sees pink, and her hand instinctually reaches out.
She grips the coin and falls
III III III III
Her head hurts. Did she fall? No, not exactly. She crashed.
She lets the back of her head fall back into her seat before she slowly opens her eyes. The cockpit of her Pterodactyl Zord comes into view; screens are blaring with warnings of the damage sustained, cracks are appearing on the windshield, and through it she can see the rubble from the likely crater their crash made. Her zord makes a crooning sound and she sighs, placing a hand on the control board as if the zord could feel it.
"I'm glad you're okay, girl."
She groans and disconnects her suit from the zord so she can twist to check on her passenger. She had her zord adjust its interior to make room for another.
"You okay back there, Robbie?"
Robbie is a boy is in his late teens. There's dried blood caking the side of his head, and her worry increases the longer the boy is unresponsive. But then he holds up a thumb with a cheeky, though strained, smile.
"Could be worse, Kimmy," he croaks out. Then he gives her a funny look. "Though, no offense, I'd also feel so much better without seeing the the helmet. Your mask still looks freaky. I swear it looked so much cooler when I was a kid."
Kimberly morphs the helmet away to give the boy her own cheeky grin. "Better?"
A double thumbs up this time. "So much. Trini's very lucky."
"I don't know what you're talking about." She unbuckles the seatbelt for him and opens the cockpit. "I'm the lucky one."
Kimberly jumps down first and she easily catches Robbie. They take a moment to observe their surroundings. They flew far enough from the center of the battle in Angel Grove and over the other side of the mountain. Kimberly was going to go straight for the hospital at the edge of town, but Zedd's ship shot her down. She looks up at the sky and watches Tommy's dragon zord face off with its turrets. And just below that...
"Is Trini going to be okay?"
Robbie's voice brings Kimberly back to where they are.
"She is. Tommy's with her."
Robbie searches her face. "You don't look sure."
"I'd just feel better if I was there with her."
"Then go with her. Whatcha waiting for, cuñada?"
She smiles for him. "Not until you're safe. If I come running back there before I make sure of that, Trini would kill me."
She goes back to her zord and slides a hand along the nose. It can only respond with a low hum. She wanted to get back in the air and help the Dragon Zord after taking Robbie to safety, but that doesn't seem to be an option anymore.
"I'm sorry. I'll come back after all of this. Then Alpha and Billy will fix you up, make you better than ever."
They make their way down the mountain as quickly as they could. The more time passes, the more anxious Kimberly gets. She puts her helmet back on to hear the others.
"I'm evacuating the last of them, but there's this dude getting in my way!" Zack says, his grunts occassionally interrupting him. "Fucking hell, leave me alone!"
"Go straight to Tommy and Trini when you're finished there," Jason orders. "There's a fucking minotaur bothering me and Billy."
"No exactly a minotaur. It's got four arms. And its horns are all weir -- Oh, Jason look out!" Billy warns him before they all become too busy to talk through the comms.
Tommy and Trini have disconnected themselves to focus on fighting Zedd. Kimberly knows they're alright. She would have felt it if something's wrong. But the silence doesn't help ease her anxiety.
"You should go, Kimmy," Robbie offers again. "I can handle myself."
Kimberly almost takes the offer until she notices movement by the corner of a building. They have evacuated the residents, so any life present in town could very likely be alien. She materializes her Power Bow and aims, creating a hard light arrow.
She's met with silence first. Robbie is hiding behind her, but he's holding the bent pole of a destroyed street sign in his hands for self-defense. Just when Robbie lets his guard down, glass from a window shatters and out comes a purple skinned alien with sharp golden eyes.
But Kimberly kept her eye out for them. She adjusts her aim and shoots right in the middle of its eyes. The alien has barely hit the ground before two more come out to attack. They have come too close, so Kimberly unfolds her bow to become a staff. She keeps Robbie behind her as she defends against the two aliens. When she gets one to stumble back, she stabs the end of her bow through the other one's eye and pushes until its head makes a sickening crack on the pavement. She wastes no time pulling back on the strings and simultaneously shooting two arrows through the mouth and chest before the second one could even recover.
"Oh, that was brutal," Robbie gasps out as he observes the carnage Kimberly left. He grimaces,"I can't believe I once dreamed to be a Power Ranger."
Kimberly looks solemnly at him. She knows how he feels. She can't believe they were around his age when they started all of this. They really were only children.
"Sorry. I got carried away."
She didn't want to do something so violent in front of Trini's brother. Other people would probably assume that Zack or Trini is the most ruthless fighter among them, but that title belongs to Kimberly. She isn't proud of it, but as a long range fighter, she's had to make up with the handicap of fighting short range through sheer brutality.
"It's okay. Comes with the job, right?"
Kimberly shakes her head. "I didn't want to look like that in front of family."
Robbie beams. It's the same as Trini's smile when she lets herself be sincere.
The sound of gunshot harshly cuts the moment short. Kimberly hears the thud of a body hitting the floor behind her and she turns to look at a fourth alien lying in a pool of blue blood.
They see Tony Gomez run across the street, the gun that was just shot held at his side. Sheriff Mills is just behind him, eyes on the look out for anything amiss.
"Dad!" Robbie exclaims with relieved glee as he hugs his father. "Thank God you're okay. Where are Mom and Gab?"
"They're already safe. The Scotts are there, too, so Pearl is fine." Tony eyes the Sheriff, who is still keeping look out, before telling Kim, "Madison stayed at the hospital helping anyone who needed immediate treatment. Ted stayed with her."
Kimberly nods. "Thank you. Now let's go and get you to safe --"
Suddenly, Kimberly feels the breath get knocked out of her. She crumples to the ground, and she only knows that her armor has disappeared because she can feel the rough pavement on her bruised and sweat-cold skin. First comes the pain, excruciating pain, then emptiness, as if a part of her has just been taken. She's gasping lungfuls of air, and she can barely hear Tony and Robbie's voices over the ringing in her ears.
She can feel Trini's overwhelming anger, but even more worrying...
She can't feel Tommy.
She'd found comfort in Tommy's aura through the bond. Her sheer positivity that almost rivals Billy's is just so infectious. But right now she can't feel anything from her. Even pain would be relieving. At least then Kimberly would know that Tommy's alive. But she feels nothing.
And that would mean Trini's alone with Zedd.
Kimberly has yet to recover, but she immediately covers herself in armor once again.
The sheriff is freaking out with stuttered words ("-- oh, oh my God! Miss Hart --") but Kimberly ignores the fact that her identity has just been revealed in front of Angel Grove's sheriff.
Zack's panicked voice is the first thing Kimberly hears from the comm link. "Tom?! Tommy?! I'm on my way! Fuck, please be okay. I swear, I won't tease you about Katherine again, just please be okay!"
Tears are streaming down Kimberly's face. She morphs her helmet away to wipe them off and not hear any more of Zack's desperate cries.
"What's wrong?" Robbie asks.
"I can't feel Tommy," Kimberly says, clear tremor in her voice. "I could always feel them, know they're okay, but Tommy... Tommy's just gone."
She can't believe this is happening. This is their fault. Tommy was too young for all of this. They knew that and yet they let her don that green armor.
Robbie looks grief stricken at the knews. He and Gabby have become Tommy's friend because of their connection to Trini. She was like a younger sister to them.
"You have to go," Robbie says. "If Tommy's really..." he swallows. A tear rolls down his cheek. He's always been the softer sibling compared to Trini and Gabby. "... then Trini's alone. You have to help her."
"I can't! I have to take you to safety first! I promised Trini --"
"And Robbie will be safe with me," Tony interjects with a hand on the boy's shoulder. "I may be retired from military, but I can still defend my son. Sheriff Mills is here, too."
The sheriff stands straighter. "Yes! Of course. You can count on me, ma'am."
Kimberly looks to where Trini is with Zedd. The ship is too damaged to do anything but keep itself afloat. The Dragon Zord is nowhere to be seen, out of commission, just like Tommy is.
The helmet snaps back over her face.
"I'll bring her back," Kimberly promises. "Then after this, we're getting married. Asap."
Tony grins despite the situation. Despite Kimberly's tears - but he doesn't know about those. "You're not gonna wait until she finishes vet school like she wanted?"
"I can't wait anymore."
So Kimberly moves. She runs as fast as her enhanced speed could take her. Her bow is at her side, no hesitation shooting every alien in her way as soon as she sees them. The destruction increases the closer she gets to the battle front. The Krispey Kreme is gone and she doesn't think they'll rebuild there anymore. A huge crater has formed around its perimeter. She sees Zedd's back first. Tommy is sprawled on the ground yards away. Her armor is nowhere to be seen, blood and bruises covering her body and long hair hiding her face away.
With gritted teeth, Kimberly pulls on her string. Her anger is out of control, the arrow she's creating crackling with energy so strong that her arms and hands are burned through her armor.
But then she feels pain so excruciating that her arrow disppears. Her bow clatters to the ground and she curls around her left leg. She feels everything and nothing. Through the pain she hears someone scream.
She looks up, and its with despair that she sees Zedd hold something up. A detached, bleeding limb, covered in yellow armor until is slowly disappears.
Zedd turns, a purple face devoid of humane empathy stares back at her. He throws the leg away as if it weren't anything of importance. He steps away from the body in front of him and Kimberly's heart lurches at the sight of Trini on the ground, looking defiant even as her armor is damaged and her leg ripped out from the knee. The only thing keeping Trini alive is her wrath and the coin.
Kimberly can feel her pain. Though it may only be a portion of it, the ache in Kimberly's heart for the woman she loves more than makes up for what she can't physically feel.
She came too late. She wasn't fast enough and now her fiancè is in pieces.
"Don't look so mad," Zedd says. He looks down and Kimberly finally notices that he's missing an arm. "This is payback."
"That's for Tommy," Trini growls.
"And that," Zedd replies, "was for Rita."
Kimberly shoots an arrow. She's in no mood for banter. Zedd takes the hit, and it barely manages to crack his armor. He lets out an impressed hum. It seems she expected her to make no damage at all.
He charges to close the distance between them. Kimberly grits her teeth and unfolds her bow. Even with only one arm, he's a force to be reckoned with his staff.
When Kimberly finds an opening, she strikes with everything she has, energy building up in her bow. She didn't turn it into a solid arrow, so when the bow makes contact with Zedd's head the energy explodes. Kimberly steps back. Her right arm is bare, bleeding from the shoulder and dripping past her fingers. Zedd's helmet is gone now and Kimberly has to hope that it was worth it.
"Nice one, Kimmy!"
Zack jumps into the fight, battle ax in his hand. He swings and Zedd is so caught by surprise that he barely manages to block with his staff. Though Zack lacks Kimberly's precision and grace, he has advantage over physical strength. Zedd couldn't properly push back, only redirect Zack's blow from his neck to his shoulder. Zedd grunts and kicks Zack away.
Kimberly wants to check on Trini, desperately. But she can still feel her through the Bond, and that has to be enough to get her through this fight.
"Sturdy! Motherfucking! Raisin!" Zack bellows with every blow Zedd blocks. He jumps and gives another huge swing with his ax. "Die already!"
Zedd waits for the right moment to deal a swing of his own with his staff at Zack's torso. He goes flying but Kimberly uses this as her chance to shoot again. She aims for his head, the only vulnerable part of him, but it's harder to hit, even more so with an injured arm. So Zedd easily dodges every single arrow.
Kimberly's going to need a bigger target. Or a stronger arrow.
She's distracted by movement among the sprawled bodies, and its brief enough for Zedd to close in on Kimberly and land another hit. She goes flying with the force of it and lands near the center of the crater. She can feel the Crystal, just like she did back when they first formed the Megazord. It's raw power in it's physical form.
Kimberly can understand the tiniest bit why galactic threats want it.
Zack comes fighting again with the desperation of a mad man. And Kimberly watches, body and mind exhausted. They're all exhausted. Zedd sent countless soldiers to weaken them, have them busy themselves with protecting the townsfolk before coming down himself. They were separated before this, too busy fighting the stronger variety of aliens under Zedd's command to come to Trini and Tommy's aid. Even Jason and Billy have yet to defeat their opponent. Even with all of them, she isn't sure if they can defeat Zedd in their condition.
Kimberly feels something beckon to her again. She walks up to the center of the crater, once again gets a taste of the power a whole universe of beings crave.
Would it be such a sin to borrow even the tiniest bit of it?
Maybe. She doesn't care. Kimberly has always been a sinner anyway.
So Kimberly takes a deep breath, poised with her bow aimed at the enemy. She concentrates on that feeling, lets that power that has once helped her when she was burning flow through her once again.
"Terran, what do you think you're doing?!" comes Zedd's accusing voice.
"Nuh-uh!" Zack blocks Zedd out of his way to Kimberly. "Eyes only on me!"
Zack likely has no fucking clue what Kimberly is doing. But he trusts her enough. It's the Rangers' greatest strength and the reason why Rita was the weakest link.
Kimberly lets out a pained scream. Holding power with your bare hands is painful, very painful, it turns out. Her bleeding arm goes for the string and she screams again as she harnesses the energy into an arrow. Even the armor in her left arm has cracked away.
"Kimmy!" Zack finds the time to call out to her even as he's too busy fighting. "Are you trying to fucking kill yourself back there!?"
"Out of the way, annoying terran!"
"Just keep him busy!" Kimberly screams through gritted teeth.
It's hard to form such unstable energy into something solid. If she doesn't turn it into something she can direct, the energy might explode in all of their faces.
"You don't deserve that power!" Zedd bellows.
Zack manages to hit him hard enough in the torso that he drops his staff. But with unbridled fury, he takes Zack's ax and hits him with his own weapon. Zack drops to the ground and Zedd takes the opportunity to swing downwards.
Kimberly almost loses control until Zedd screams.
The ax drops blade first onto the ground. Zedd is almost flailing in pain, the staff that was his weapon impaled through the stump where his arm was cut.
Zedd glares at the human girl standing before him, her long hair in disaray, and forest green eyes worn but sharp with fury.
"Still think I'm not worthy?" Tommy taunts.
The sight of Tommy alive and kicking is enough for Kimberly to bring back control. She focuses on reshaping the energy and ignores the pain in her limbs.
"With every bit of my being," Zedd answers before his arm swings at Tommy's face.
Kimberly ignores the blood. She ignores the fact that Tommy wasn't in her armor when she received the hit. She just aims and shoots.
Kimberly didn't have enough strength to see if her shot even landed. Her face is on the ground, hands bleeding and body sore. Her armor has receded back into her skin, no power left to do anything but help her heal.
It's a miracle that she can even stand. She takes in the sight of Zedd's corpse in the ground. She doesn't let herself dwell on the victory. Her eyes immediately stray to one woman, like they always do.
"Trini..." Kimberly croaks out. She stumbles a few times along the way, but she doesn't care how undignified she may look.
Just like Kimberly's, Trini's armor has long receded back into her skin. Kimberly chokes back a sob at the sight of all the blood. They may have super healing, but Trini's body is likely too tired to self-heal. She isn't even sure if they can bring back missing limbs.
"Trini?" she takes her into her arms, a thumb brushing against Trini's cheek. "Baby, please, open your eyes."
Slowly, she sees Trini's lids flutter open with as much effort it takes to lift a car. But her eyes are drained, almost lifeless. "Did we win?"
Kimberly nods, too choked up to talk.
"Good," Trini says and her eyes close again.
"No! Keep your eyes open, Trini!"
"... but 'm tired..."
Kimberly shakes her head. She carefully settles Trini back to the ground and rips out one of her own pant legs. She may not be as skilled as she mother in the medical field, but she can at least stop as much bleeding as she could.
"Stay with me, please," Kimberly pleads as she ties the fabric around the stump that is left of Trini's leg. She tries not to cry too much. "Bitch, don't fucking die on me! We're not even married yet, Trin!"
Trini chuckles weakly. "Mom would kill me."
"So, please, don't leave me." Kimberly's forehead falls ontop of Trini's faintly breathing chest. "Please, don't leave."
A hand comes up to hold her head closer. "I know you won't let me. You'll chase me through hell if you have to."
Kimberly sniffs against her. "Damn right."
"We have to go," Zack's voice interrupts them. His eyes are red from crying himself. He looks down at Tommy in his arms. Her face is covered in blood. "Tommy needs a hospital, quick." He holds up a mangled piece of metal and crushed shards of rock. "He destroyed her power coin."
Kimberly wipes her eyes and nods. She carries Trini despite her bleeding arms, runs though town despite her shaking legs. They just need to make it to the hospital. If they make it, they'll be fine. Trini can survive with her power coin. She won't get her leg back, but they'll manage. Kimberly will be there to help her stand. They just need to make it.
It' a relief to see the zords Trini and Zack left behind to guard the hospital. Trini's sabertooth tiger is worried, but Kimberly tries to dispel its worries with a smile.
"Help!" Zack yells as soon as they enter the emergency ward. "We need help!"
It's crowded inside, and the doctors and nurses look as tired as the Rangers themselves. But whoever are available immediately take Tommy and Trini from Zack and Kimberly.
"I'm gonna go find Jason and Billy," Zack says with a hard look on his face. "There's still a bunch of those freaks running around. I just can't stay in a hospital. Not like this again. Contact me as soon as anything happens?"
Kimberly nods without taking her eyes off of Trini. They're going to be okay, Kimberly repeats to herself.
"Miss, you need to get those treated," a nurse tells Kimberly. "That blood's yours, isn't it?"
"I'm fine." She can't leave Trini. "It's not--"
Through the chaos of white coats and green scrubs, Kimberly notices a familiar woman. Her face looks grim, but Kimberly pays it no mind as she runs toward her.
"Mom!" she calls out and Madison immediately lets herself get wrapped up in Kimberly's arms.
"Thank God you're okay," Madison sighs out as she tightens her hold on Kimberly. "Did you win?"
"Yeah, but Trini..." the sobs come out as soon as she's in her mother's arms. "She lost her leg, Mom. And our friend Tommy's in a bad shape..."
"I am so sorry... I have..." she pulls away to hold her daughter at arms length. "Something's happened."
That's when Kimberly notices how red Madison's eyes are. She'd been crying, a lot. Blood has stained her scrubs and they're not from her. She looks over her shoulder at the section Madison came from. The nurses are cleaning up, preparing to wheel away the person they could no longer save.
There in that hospital bed, covered in blood, is Robbie Gomez.
"I'm sorry," Madison whispers. "I did everything I could."
Kimberly feels numb. Just minutes ago Robbie was smiling at her. She can barely hear everything else her mother is saying.
"Deputy Hardy found him with the Sheriff and Tony. They were already dead. I tried to save the boy, but he's lost too much blood."
Her eyes wander back to Trini. What would she say? How would she feel? Robbie was only sixteen. He was going to follow Trini and become a vet, just like her.
And Tony... he looked forward to walking Trini down the aisle.
Kimberly's knees buckle beneath her, but Madison is there to catch her. She pulls them aside so they're not in the way. She cries into her mother's chest, two words repeatedly leaving her lips like a mantra.
"I'm sorry... I'm sorry..."
III III III III III
"I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I'm sorry..."
Aisha sobs into her hands. Someone is holding her, but she looks up and sees that it's Kimberly.
"I'm sorry," Aisha repeats.
Ok. Scream at me.
Edit: if youd like more pain, listen to Happier by Marshmello and One Love by Marianas Trench, cuz those were the songs that inspired me to write this fic :D