Disclaimer: Power Ranger belong to Saban. Yadda Yadda Yadda. I wrote this because I have yet to find an explanation for Tommy and Kim's break-up that I like. Even this doesn't quite do it for me, but what are you gonna do? Let me know what you think.

Starting as Friends
by Ken Chrysler

It was a beautiful day in Angel Grove. It was late spring, and the temperature was at that perfect place; not too cool, not too hot. The sky was brilliant, with hardly a cloud in it. It was the type of day that made people want to be outdoors. And Tommy Oliver was no exception.

He had spent most of the morning by himself in the park. Usually he would be with his friends, and his girlfriend Kat, having a picnic, playing volleyball, or something like that. But he had felt like he needed a little time to himself to think.

As he went slowly through an elaborate kata, he though about the Turbo rangers, the friends he missed, his current girlfriend; but mostly he thought about his former girlfriend, Kimberly. 'Why did you do it to me, Kim? Why did you break up with me? Why wouldn't you talk to me?' he thought to himself. Although he cared a great deal about Kat, he just couldn't seem to develop the same feelings for her that he had for Kim. 'I wish Jason were around so I could talk to him. Or Billy. Man, I miss them.'

He was so engrossed that he didn't hear the footsteps that slowly approached. Finally, a voice spoke. "Hey... Oliver. You in there, man?"

Startled, Tommy came out of the trance-like state he had been deep into. "Jeez, you startled me! Hey, Steve... What's up?" Although Steve was a friend, Tommy didn't consider him to be a really close one. Most of his close friends knew better than to bother him when he was doing a kata.

"Not much. Just saw you over here, and wondered where the rest of the group was. Don't usually see you without them." Steve glanced around as if looking for them.

"Tommy sighed. "Ah... I just felt like I needed a little time to myself, you know?"

"Sure, I guess," came the reply. "I just figured that with Kim in town..."

"WHAT?!? Kim's in town?" Tommy practically shouted at the startled boy. "Where is she?"

"I thought you knew. That's why I wondered where your gang was. I thought you all would be hangin' together. You all were pretty tight."

" We were, once. Things changed. But I don't think any of us knew she was coming back to town." Tommy thought for a moment, then said, "No. I know they didn't know. They would have said something. Even thought they knew I..."

"Anyway," Steve broke in before Tommy could finish his thought. "She's over at the bridge by the pond. Just saw her not ten minutes ago. She's all by herself. That's why I was wondering..."

"Thanks, Steve," Tommy said quietly. "I'll let the rest of the guys know. Do me a favor?"

"Sure," Steve said, wondering what was going on.

"Just don't mention this to the guys if you see them. I want to surprise them, myself."

"Don't mention it," Steve said as he turned to walk away. "Hey...Tommy?"

"Yeah, Steve?"

"Good luck with Kim. I know what it feels like to get dumped."

"Thanks, man."

As Steve walked away, Tommy quickly gathered up his stuff, and began to walk towards the pond. "Relax, Oliver," he said to himself softly. "It's not like she sent you an invitation, or anything. I mean, just because she's at the spot where you first kissed her doesn't mean..."

He slowed down as he approached the bridge that crossed the pond. Suddenly, he saw her, and the breath exploded from his lungs in a short, sharp burst. 'My God, she's beautiful!' He thought as he stared at her. She was sitting on a rock with her back to him, but he could tell it was definitely her. She was wearing a purple and yellow flowered sundress, and the Doc Martin's she loved so much. He had been with her the day she had bought that pair. The sun reflected off of her soft, mouse-brown hair, and he could tell that it had gotten a little longer since he had seen he last.

After a few moments of just standing there watching her, he got up enough nerve to cross the bridge and move towards where she was sitting. He stood a few for a few moments longer, just watching her back. He was watching her so intensely that he was startled when her soft voice suddenly spoke. "Hello, Tommy."

He took a short step backwards. 'How did she know it was me?' Then, he gained his composure, and returned her greeting. "Hello, Kim. It's really good to see you."

She turned around to look at him. "Thanks, I guess. So, where's the rest of the gang? I thought you went everywhere together," she said with a touch of bitterness.

"I don't know," he replied, wondering why she sounded so angry. "I needed some time to myself. Why didn't you let anyone know..."

"Because I wasn't wanting to see any of you, yet. That's why. I was hoping to have a little time to myself, too. Ya' know?" She was almost crying, and her voice was all choked up.

"No, Kim. I don't know. I don't know at all. I don't know why you wrote the letter. I don't know why you wouldn't talk to me after the Muranthis thing happened. I don't know why Jason wouldn't tell me what's going on with you. All I do know is that I've missed you terribly!"

"You've missed me! Tommy, don't make me laugh! You really expect me to believe that you've missed me!"

"I have, Kim! Why do you find that so hard to believe?"

"Maybe because you fell into Kat's arms so quickly. That could have something to do with it," she practically spit out at him.

"Kim, that happened after you sent the letter! I never cheated on you, if that's what you're implying..."

"No, Tommy. It's not what I'm implying. Ok... Maybe it is time to talk. My shrink said that I'd have to do it sooner or later. I guess it should be sooner."

"Shrink? What happened? Are you alright?" Tommy said worriedly.

Kim nodded her head. "Yeah. Now, just sit down, and shut up for a minute. This is going to be hard. And I need to prepare myself."

Kim put her head between her knees, which were drawn up to her chest. Tommy sat down next to her, close enough to reach out a hand to touch her, but not close enough to invade her space. After a few moments, Kim started speaking softly, and Tommy had to strain to hear her.

"When I first got to Florida," she started, "I was sooo excited! I was sad to be leaving you guys, but excited about the future. I could hardly wait to meet the others, and to start training. But when I did meet the others, I got a big shock

"Tommy, they were nothing like me. I have been into gymnastics since I was a little girl, but these guys lived gymnastics. They ate, drank, slept, and breathed gymnastics. I felt so out of place. None of the girls had other interests, not even shopping! I never felt like I fit in.

"Practices were even worse. Coach turned out to be a total tyrant. He yelled at us all the time. He worked us until our hands bled. He complained about our weight, our lack of concentration, our discipline. You name it; he was yelling at us about it. My god, it was awful!"

"Kim, I'm so sorry! Why didn't you tell us...me?" Tommy said, trying to comfort her with his voice.

"When did I have the time? When did you have the time? With all the Power Ranger stuff, I never knew when you were going to be home for me to call you. Even when you were, I never got to finish a conversation with you because of some attack. I felt so lousy, and I didn't have anybody to talk to. Billy had left for Aquitar, and I didn't know yet that Jason was back. I didn't have anybody to talk to... That's when I sent the letter." Kim was openly crying now.

Tommy looked away for a moment, trying to gather his thoughts. Here was the moment he had been waiting for for so long. "Kim, why did you send a letter? Why didn't you tell me yourself?"

Kim laughed through her tears. "You don't get it, do you? You just don't get it. Why didn't you call me? Didn't you want to find out?"

Tommy stared at her, then finally answered, "Of course I did! Lord, Kim. I nearly drove myself crazy trying to figure out what I had done to drive you away...to drive you into the arms of another man!"

"THERE WAS NO OTHER MAN!" Kim exploded. "You are so thick, sometimes! I just wanted you to call me so we could have an uninterrupted conversation! I assumed that you would call to find out what had happened. To try to talk me into giving you another chance. If you had done that, I would have told you that there wasn't anyone else! But, I assumed wrong, didn't I? I waited for a call that never came!" She looked to see that Tommy had his head between his knees, and was shaking slightly. He looked up, and she could see that he was crying.

"I'm so sorry," he whispered. "I didn't know. I really didn't know. I wanted to let you have some space. I just wanted you to be happy. I just didn't think..."

"It's not all your fault, Tommy. I know that now. I didn't expect the guys to understand; they know less about women than you do. Kat or Tanya might have said something, but they didn't."

"Are you saying that Kat purposely..."

"No Tommy." Kim sighed. "Not purposely. But maybe subconsciously... I know she liked you before I left. Maybe she just didn't think about it. I just don't know. All I do know is that I waited weeks for a call that never came. I cried myself to sleep every night."

"Why didn't you just call me? I would have talked to you!"

"Tommy, you're missing the point. I wanted you to call me. I wanted you to show me that you still cared... that you still needed me. Not to mention all the stress I was under from Coach and having no friends. And then the Muranthis thing happened. When I saw how happy you were with Kat, I..." At this, Kim started crying again. Tommy reached out his hand to calm her, but she pulled away. "NO!"

Tommy flinched, pulling his hand back quickly. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to..."

Kim shook her head. "I'm...I'm sorry. I just don't want to be touched. Not by you. Not yet."

"It's OK, Kim," Tommy said. "I understand, I think."

"No, Tommy, you don't understand. This is the hard part." She got her tears under control, then started again. "After Muranthis, I went back to Florida to train. But I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it! Something inside of me just snapped. One evening, after an incredibly grueling workout, a bunch of the girls found me sitting fully clothed under a freezing cold shower. I wasn't moving; I wasn't talking. They said I was catatonic. Coach called my Mom, and she came all the way from Paris to see me in the hospital. Tommy, I had a nervous breakdown."

Tommy looked at her with his hands over his mouth. Finally, he spoke. "My god, Kim! Were... are you alright? Is there anything I can do to..."

"Actually Tommy, you're doing it. I got lucky. I have a really great shrink. We did a lot of talking. And I got a lot of things off of my chest. I even told her about being a Power Ranger."

"What? Kim, you didn't..."

She smiled at that. "Don't worry, Tommy. I didn't tell her who any of the rest of you were. Just me. I asked Zordon before he left, and he said that it would be all right. Besides, she can't tell anyone, anyway. Doctor-patient privilege, and all that. I got a lot of thing worked out. Except for my feelings about you. She said that I wouldn't be able to clear those up until I talked to you."

"So, have you? Cleared up your feelings for me, I mean? Because I still love you, Kim. I always will. Say the word, and I'll break up with Kat."

"Tommy...No. I have cleared up my feelings. But, you won't like what I have to say."

Tommy felt his heart drop. 'She's going to do it to me, again,' he thought to himself. 'She's going to break my heart again.'

"Tommy," she began, "I know now that you love me. I still love you. But, I love the old you. Not the person you are now. I don't know this you. And you love the old me. I've changed a lot since I left. I am not the same person I used to be. We can't just pick up where we left off based on that. Besides, that wouldn't be fair to Kat. I know she really loves you. Speaking of Kat...How do you feel about her?"

Tommy thought for a moment, then said, "I care about Kat a lot. She's really great..."

"But you don't love her," Kim finished for him.

"But I don't love her," Tommy echoed back. "God, what do I do?"

"Tommy, you have to decide that for yourself. But if I can make a suggestion... Don't string her along. It's not right. She deserves a chance at happiness with someone who will really love her, not just like her a whole lot."

Tommy looked at the ground, then slowly looked back at her. "You're right. I'll end it tonight. But what about us? She'll think I broke up with her because of..."

"Because of me? I don't think so. Because I'm not ready for a relationship with you yet. I may not be for a while. I just want to be friends for now."

"Friends." Tommy shook his head. "Wonderful. Friends. Just what I want. Do you have any idea how hard that's going to be?"

"Of course I do," she shot back. "But we have to start somewhere. Who knows what the future holds? So, what do you say? Friends?"

Tommy looked up at the sky for a moment. 'I guess I need to break up with Kat tonight. I really wish I didn't have to hurt her. She's been so good to me. But Kim's right. I can't just leave her hanging in the wind with no hope of a future for us.' He looked back at Kim. 'And Kim. I suppose being friends with her is a start. And if she's willing to make the effort, so am I. So here goes nothing.'

"Ok. Friends. So, friend... what do you want to do now?"

Kim smiled and run to him, giving him a small hug. "What do you say we find the gang and have a picnic?"

Tommy thought, 'Well, that may be the perfect place to have my talk with Kat.' To Kim, he said, "Sounds great. Let's go."

And with that, they left the park to find their friends, and to begin the new phase of their lives as friends.
The End