Disclaimer: The Power Rangers don't belong to me, they belong to
Saban the Dread and Puissant; I'm just borrowing them for a while.
Authors Note: Thank you, Jeremy, for knowing all along what Kat was good at.
"Here's a good spot." Tommy announced, bringing the assembly to a halt. He had chosen an empty area of the park with shade trees surrounding a flat, clear stretch of ground. Rocky unfolded the blanket he was carrying and spread it out underneath a tree. As Rocky, Aisha and Adam settled onto the blanket and pulled out their weekend homework, Tommy drew Katherine out into the sunlight.
"You ready?" He asked her. Katherine looked a little nervous, but she nodded. Tommy smiled reassuringly at her, then got down to the business of teaching their newest Ranger the fine art of self-defense.
"She's not doing too good." Aisha commented sympathetically. She had finished her English paper and paused to watch before starting on her Latin worksheet.
"Well, she's never done martial arts before." Rocky reminded, not taking his eyes off of his writing tablet. "Can't expect miracles in just...." He glanced briefly at his watch. "An hour."
"No, she's right." Adam said pensively. He had stopped to watch the pair when Aisha first commented. "Something's wrong. Look."
Rocky turned his attention to the clearing. Katherine, looking anxious, was awkwardly attempting to follow the basic stance and motions that Tommy was illustrating. She was so off-balance that she was actually wobbly. "What the heck?" Rocky exclaimed, not believing his eyes. "Katherine's not clumsy!"
"She looks really nervous." Adam noted. "Maybe Tommy's a little too intimidating for her."
"Yeah, he is a bit much for a newbie." Aisha agreed. "Rocky, maybe you should be out there with her instead. You're a good karate teacher." She grinned and pinched his cheek as she added, "And you're so darned lovable." Rocky grinned at her good-natured teasing and swatted her hand away. "She's bound to feel a lot less self-conscious with you."
Just then, Tommy and Katherine stopped to take a break. Kat reached the blanket first, and Rocky handed her a bottle of water as she sat. Behind her, Tommy shook his head, looking more puzzled than anything else.
When the rest break was over, Rocky volunteered to work with her. "My style of karate is a little looser than Tommy's." Rocky explained. "Maybe that'll be easier for you to start with."
So Rocky and Katherine stepped out onto the grass and began, while the others resumed their schoolwork.
"Aw, man!" Tommy lamented quietly a short time later, his Biology notes lying forgotten on his lap as he watched the karate lesson's progress. "She looks even worse from here than she did up close." His statement drew the attention of his teammates around him.
Rocky was looking over Katherine's stance. It was obviously not centered; any little push would knock her over. And her arms, which she held up in a defensive position before her, looked weak. She didn't appear quite as nervous as before, but that wasn't helping her abysmal attempt at karate.
"I just don't get it." Tommy said, shaking his head. "She's athletic. She has a good sense of balance. Why is she having so much trouble learning this?"
"Maybe karate's all wrong for her." Aisha mused aloud, cocking her head and squinting one eye as she watched Rocky poke lightly at Kat and totally disintegrate her stance. "Remember when you first started teaching me martial arts?" She directed her question at Adam.
"Oh, yeah." Adam answered, thinking back. "I started out trying to teach you kung fu, but you didn't do so hot with it. You really improved in leaps and bounds when Rocky suggested we switch to teaching you karate."
"That's it!" Tommy said, smiling. "We've been teaching her the wrong thing! Adam, why don't you try teaching her kung fu? Maybe that'll suit her better."
"I'm game." Adam replied. He set his books down and got to his feet, walking out to the duo on the grass.
By the time Adam had worked with her for about forty-five minutes, the trio on the blanket had stopped trying to study and was watching them instead. Katherine wasn't fairing much better with kung fu. They all winced when her long, coltish legs somehow managed to get tangled around each other, tripping her up.
"She does ballet, doesn't she?" Rocky asked rhetorically. "How can she...." He shrugged helplessly, hating to say it. "....be so bad at this?"
They watched Adam reach out and catch her arm, to steady her as she stumbled. Then he seemed to indicate that a break was in order. She looked so dejected as they walked over to the blanket to rest.
Katherine kicked at a rock in frustration as she approached. The motion of her leg swinging at the stone caught Aisha's attention. There's something in that, Aisha thought, furrowing her brow at the elusive twinge in her mind. Kat sat down heavily and sighed. Adam stood next to the group, hands on hips, staring at the ground as he chewed on his lip thoughtfully.
"It's no use." Kat declared, shoulders slumping. "You're all trying so hard; and I just can't....."
"Don't even think like that, girl." Aisha cut her off with finality. "You can learn this! We've just got to find...."
"Wait a minute!" Adam interrupted, looking up as a thought struck him. He focused his attention on Kat. "You take ballet, right?" She nodded in confirmation.
"And I was a diver for a long time too." She reminded, since he seemed to be listing her physical activities.
"Leg strength." He said simply. "Both of those use a lot of leg strength."
"And you do have long legs." Aisha pointed out, before any of the boys could make the comment.
"So let's try a style that emphasizes leg strength." Adam concluded.
Everybody's perked-up expressions and enthusiastic nods gave Katherine a morale boost. And Adam's assessment made sense. She smiled a little, climbing to her feet, feeling a ray of hope for the first time in hours.
"Why don't we try some shoto kan?" He suggested, as he led her back out into the clearing.
Kat shifted her weight onto her back leg and gave a pretty creditable front snap-kick.
"Better." Tommy noted aloud.
"But her arms are still weak." Rocky indicated. "Just look at how she holds them." Katherine had her hands balled into fists and her arms pressed tightly to her torso, a useless position for blocking or punching.
"It's still not quite the right style for her." Aisha sighed. A heavy silence hung between the trio as they all tried to think of something for Kat. She needed to learn to defend herself. Rangers got attacked by surprise often enough; she would need some defensive skills to buy herself breathing room to Morph.
Aisha's mind wandered back to the image of Katherine's long leg swinging almost straight out to kick the rock. Then she watched the way the Pink Ranger was currently moving. She tried to recall where she had seen a long legged woman kicking wide and straight before; she just knew somebody with Kat's build and center of gravity was familiar from somewhere. An exhibition, maybe? She let her mind drift around in the memories of tournaments from when she had been competing as a team with Rocky and Adam. It suddenly occurred to her what Katherine's few good moves reminded her of.
"Kickboxing!" She blurted.
"Yeah!" Rocky and Tommy cried in unison. As soon as Aisha had said it, they both could see the similarities between that discipline and the more successful movements of their newest teammate.
"Adam!" Tommy shouted, levering himself up. "Hold up! Aisha's thought of something; I think she's got it!"
"....And she was right." Kat told Tanya as they sat in the Youth Center sipping smoothies, watching Tommy and Rocky spar. "Kickboxing was just perfect for me. They helped me find a good kickboxing teacher; and after that, I had a good basis for learning some other things from the team. I just needed the right place to start." She laughed as she added, "And I did eventually learn to do something useful with my arms."
Tanya visibly relaxed. She smiled at her new roommate and said, "So I don't have anything to be nervous about, then?"
"No worries, Tanya." Katherine smiled. She placed her hand reassuringly on Tanya's forearm briefly as she told her, "You're in good hands. And if kung fu isn't right for you, we'll just try something else." Just then, Adam walked up to the table.
"Hey, ladies." He greeted.
"Hi Adam." Kat smiled, looking up at the Green Zeo Ranger.
"Kat was just telling me the story of her first martial arts lesson." Tanya informed him, her eyes twinkling with mirth.
"We all learned a valuable lesson that day." Adam replied, chuckling ruefully at the memory. "I promise that if kung fu doesn't suit you, I'll notice soon enough and try something else. And if what I can teach isn't right for you, we'll just keep trying with the rest of the guysor someone else entirely, like Kat ended up doinguntil we find what is right for you."
"Thanks, you guys." Tanya smiled gratefully at them both. "I feel a lot less nervous about this now."
"We're a team." Kat said emphatically, returning the smile. "That's what we're here for. You can always count on us, Tanya. We'll never give up on you. So don't give up on yourself."
"Are you ready for your first lesson?" He asked.
"Yeah." Tanya smiled with confidence. "I think I am."
As the new Yellow Ranger rose from her seat, she asked, "So, where are we going?"
Their conversation drifted to their blond teammate as she watched them leave. "This place up in the hills I know. You'll like it. It's got a great view; it's really calming, and good for helping you focus."
Katherine picked up her strawberry/kiwi smoothie and took a sip as Tommy and Rocky sat down to join her.
"Adam and Tanya are off, I see." Tommy said, noticing the bright green and yellow shirts disappearing out the door.
"Maybe we'll get lucky this time around," Rocky quipped, claiming Tanya's banana smoothie. "And get it right the first time."