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A Different Kind of Dangerous

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Kimberly Hart had always had this ability. Ever since she could remember, she could see the numbers floating over people’s heads, her mother was a 2 while her father was a 3, the highest number she knew of so far. When she told her parents about the numbers they waved it off as part of her imagination, ignoring her if she asked again. She learnt not to ask.

But she didn’t know what the numbers meant until she was eleven years old, hiking with her father, the same hills and mountains that they had trekked every other weekend since Kim was seven years old. They hadn’t run into anyone else before, the path being quite removed from the others, but they had come across some animals before, mainly small rabbits but a couple of times they had managed to catch a glimpse of deer.

Kim liked animals, they didn’t have any numbers anywhere near them, and they didn’t ignore her when she spoke to them. She just had to hold some food in her hand and they’d stay with her until she ran out. Today she was excited. Her dad had said that they might see more deer this time, he had seen one on the way home from work. But they had to be very quiet, otherwise they might run away.

Kim was just beginning to become tired when her dad grabbed her wrist, pulling her over so she could see through the gap in the woods. There was a deer about 50 feet away from them, it had bigger ears than the one she had seen last time, and this one had antlers behind them, coming up to create a bunch of Y shapes.

“That’s a mule deer, Kimmy. Isn’t he beautiful?” asked her dad from somewhere above her. All Kim could do was nod, staring with wide eyes, resembling the deer that she couldn’t look away from. It was leant down, nibbling on a patch of grass, the whole mountain seemed to stand still, somewhere in the distance she could hear a bird flap its wings as it flew from one branch to the other. The deer’s head lifted up, its ears twitched, and the silence was ruined.

Kimberly’s dad had heard the bang at the same time as her, but reacted before she could even move, turning her around and pulling her face into his chest, hiding her from the sight of the crumpled animal.

It was too late. She had already seen it.

They heard a cry of triumph from the direction of the shot’s origins, before hearing loud rustling as a middle aged man made his way down from the hill. Kim lifted her head, trying to catch a glimpse of the man with the gun without looking at the dead animal.

He had a 7 over his head.

***
When she was twelve years old, Kim signed up for cheerleading at junior high. There she met Mandy. They were both the best at cartwheels, so they decided to become best friends. Mandy was a 2, and a yellow belt in karate. Kim begged her parents to let her take karate lessons, she wanted to spend more time with her best friend.

Her first lesson she was looking around in awe at all the different numbers on people’s heads. Apart from that man on the mountain, she had never seen anyone above a number 3, but there were people in blue and purple belts with big 4’s over their heads, and they were a lot younger than her dad. Their instructor was a black belt, and she had a 6 on top of her head. When Kim saw her flip two people upside down at the same time, while keeping a passive facial expression, she confirmed her theory that these numbers measured how dangerous a person could be, she also confirmed that their sensei was amazing.

Kimberly found karate fascinating, and quickly rose to a green belt, two belts above Mandy who hadn’t moved from her yellow in all the lessons they had. Straight after Kim got her green belt, Mandy quit, saying that karate was boring, and she’d much rather spend her time doing cheerleading so that she could be part of the team in high school.

“I wanna hang out with our friends Kimber, you can’t talk to each other in karate.” Mandy said in a condescending voice the next day at school.

Kim quit the next day.

***

The summer before starting high school, Kim was in India, visiting her mother’s family for her eldest cousin’s wedding, so she hadn’t seen Mandy since they graduated from junior high. She was very shocked when she saw her beside her locker, with a 3 above her head. This was the first time she had noticed anyone’s number change, it made her wonder how Mandy could become dangerous.

Mandy didn’t want to be called “Mandy” anymore.

“It sounds like a little girl’s name” she told everyone to call her Amanda.

Kim didn’t like Amanda as much. They were still best friends, still had sleepovers every other weekend, but Amanda wasn’t the same girl that she used to know. She hated how Amanda and the rest of the cheerleaders liked to make fun of the other girls in their school. She hated how they would spread nasty rumours about that one girl who tried to stand up to them, she hated hearing that girl crying in the bathroom the next day. She hated herself for joining in.

Kimberly wanted to stay with her friends, she liked to feel wanted, she liked being popular. So she kept cheerleading, she still tried to do well in school, but she went to parties every other weekend, Amanda took advantage of the fact that her parents were hardly ever home and decided to throw some parties at Kim’s house, which led to her holding back Amanda’s hair in bathrooms and trying to stay away from the large men in the nightclubs they sometimes visited with 6s and 7s over their heads. This continued until senior year.

***

Kimberly had been moved up into A.P Biology for her final year at Angel Grove High. She had a couple other cheerleader friends there, but Amanda had stayed behind. Kimberly sat in the centre of the room, a cheerleader either side of her, she had her head on the desk, hair creating a wall between her and the fifty year old teacher, who was talking about who knows what, she didn’t have to listen today, it was only the first lesson.

She heard a knock on the door and lifted her head slightly to see the teacher go over to open the it. He started talking to whoever was behind it, whoever it was too short for Kim to see, so she turned to look at her friends, exchanging looks with each other.

“So, this is going to be your new classmate, everyone please give a warm welcome to Miss Trini Kwan.” he finally moved out of the way, allowing Kim’s eyes to be drawn to a short latina girl, braids across the side of her head, wearing a yellow jacket, grey shirt, and dark, ripped jeans. She was beautiful, large eyes, and a shy smile, but what drew Kim’s gaze was the large number hovering above her head, not allowing Kim to take her eyes off of her until she sat down at the back of the room and their teacher called for their attention.

She was a 10.

***

Kim kept an eye on the back of the classroom throughout the year.

She started going out with Ty a couple of months into Senior Year. He was the quarterback and Amanda said that they were “couple goals” so she said yes when he asked her to Homecoming and they were dating after that. She noticed Trini looking at her and Ty with a strange expression in the halls, making her wonder what she was thinking.

What was it that made her dangerous?

Trini never got into trouble, she never did anything out of line, she was polite to the teachers, handed in her homework on time, didn’t date any of the guys that Kim would consider trouble, didn’t date any guys at all really, and she kept out of the gossip mill. Or she tried to anyway.

Kim got a text from Amanda halfway through biology,

Bathroom. Now.

She quickly told the teacher where she was going, not waiting for a reply before leaving the room and strolling through the deserted hallway to the bathroom closest to her locker. It had been their meeting place since they started high school, perfectly in between both of her and Amanda’s lockers.

When she entered she saw Amanda laughing with another cheerleader, Holly or Molly or something like that. She quickly took her place by Amanda’s right side and leant closer to the mirror, fixing her hair. “What happened? I was in Bio.” she looked over her shoulder to ask Amanda why she had been removed from her lesson.

“Found out that the new girl was in your class, I was saving you babes.” Amanda had a merry tune to her voice, as if the reason she had taken her out of the class was obvious and just so hilarious.

The word “saving” got Kim’s attention, did Amanda find out some information about Trini that Kim didn’t know about? Did Amanda find out what was so dangerous about her? If she did then why did she seem to think it was funny?

“What do you mean?” Kim tried to act like she didn’t really care about what Amanda was about to say, and started making sure that not even a single strand of her hair was out of place.

“You honestly don’t know? Oh Kimber, you naive little girl.” Amanda said, patronisingly, “That girl is a fucking dyke. We shouldn’t be around her, who knows what she’d do.” Kim looked up quickly at Amanda’s words, she knew that they were extremely offensive, but she also knew that she couldn’t say anything against her, would never say anything against Amanda.

“How do you know?”

“Duh, the internet.” Amanda’s crony piped in.

“Well, she won’t do anything to us, she doesn’t talk to anyone anyway.” Kim had been observing Trini for a while now, she would have noticed if the girl had a crush on any of her fellow cheerleaders.

“Yeah, it’s weird. She doesn’t even hang out with the other losers, she’s just always alone.” Amanda touched up her lipstick before turning around, “Anyway, you should get back, we don’t want you to miss practice ‘cause of some stupid detention, do we Kimber?”

“Course not Amanda.” Kim waved at Holly/Molly before spinning and walking out of the bathroom and back to her lesson, not having missed anything. She allowed a single glance to the back of the room before sitting down, Trini had lifted her head to see who came in but other than that she was in the exact same position that Kim had left her in.

The next day the news of Trini’s sexuality had been spread all around the school, the words appeared on her locker, the taunts followed her in the hallways, boys jeering and girls side eyeing her like she was a predator. Kim wondered if this would be what finally tipped her over the edge, if Trini would show everyone just how dangerous she was any day now.

Trini never did anything, and the topic of interest died down, not yet completely gone, but no longer talked about as much. Trini was as quiet as ever.

***

Kimberly was stupid.

She was so so stupid.

It had taken less than 24 hours for her life to shatter into a million pieces, and there was no one to blame but herself. She should have ignored it when she saw Amanda flirting with Ty. She should have ignored the picture that Amanda sent her, asking for her approval. She should have ignored Ty’s comments about him not wanting Kim to meet his family yet. She shouldn’t have been so stupid.

But as she sat outside the headmaster's office after punching Ty’s tooth out, she didn’t feel as bad as she should have. It made her wonder what kind of person she was.

It made her wonder, for the first time, what would her number be?

***

Her parents said she got off easy. She had to be in Saturday detention for the next few months. Amanda’s parents had chosen not to call the police on her. They said it was a silly mistake but at least it was over now.

Kimberly wondered if feeling this way was worth having her parents in town for the first time in months. She decided it wasn’t. Her parents looked at her like she had thrown her whole life away. She heard her mother talking on the phone, telling one her aunts “I don’t know how we’re going to find her a husband. She’s not bothered with anything.”

Kim threw herself into her studies. She would try to raise her grades so high that no university could refuse her, despite the black mark on her permanent record. She had always been naturally gifted at schoolwork, but hadn’t been bothering much with it, instead favouring the idea of having a good time with Amanda. That was over now. She hadn’t talked to Amanda in weeks. If her teachers were impressed by her sudden spike in achievements then they didn’t show it, still giving her furtive glances in the middle of lessons.

She felt suffocated by the judging glances of everyone around her. Her parents had stayed in town for two whole weeks, a new record, but they had barely spoken in the whole time they were in the house. Kim would shut herself in her room before climbing out of her window and finding her way to the mountains that she used to climb with her father, back before everything went to shit.

She decided to ignore her usual path that day, in favour of one that she and her parents had found one time, when her mother had decided to try and play hide and seek with her. Kim had hidden behind a tree that was about 20 feet away from where she had run from her parents, but as she caught her breath on the other side of the wide oak, she had noticed a slight opening through the trees. She had decided to ignore it at the time, more interested in the game they were playing, but had frequently gone back when she needed some space.

Kim had found herself in that opening almost every night for the past few weeks, a little grassy area near the edge of the cliff. Sometimes she just sat down, legs hanging over the edge, observing the small town that could give her so much misery, waiting until she could get away. Most days however, she stripped down to her swim suit that she wore underneath her clothes, and dove down into the stream below, it helped because she was unable to think about anything but staying focused on herself. One wrong move and she could be seriously injured, so she made sure to clear her head before taking the plunge.

In that moment she didn’t have to worry about anything except her own breathing.

It was freeing.

***

Kim didn’t feel as suffocated at detention. Everyone else there had screwed up just as much, if not more than her. She stood at the top of the stairs and gazed down at the room full of 3’s and 4’s when her gaze was drawn to someone new in the room. She saw a dark skinned boy sitting alone with his head lowered, rearranging the pens on his desk into some sort of colour order.

Billy, her mind supplied. She had been in one of her classes last year but was quickly transferred out a few weeks in. She hadn’t paid much attention to him before, and wasn’t sure what number he had been earlier, but now there was a 6 hovering over his head, making her wonder what this unassuming boy could do. From what she could remember, Billy was a nerd in every sense of the word, so how did he get a detention? How was Billy dangerous?

She took a seat near the stairs, thinking about what she would do in during her detention as she had already finished all of her homework and some extra credit assignments. She decided that she would just listen to music and got out her phone in order to figure out a playlist. That was when she noticed a text notification at the top of the screen, from Amanda, a couple of minutes ago.

Bathroom. Now.

Kim felt relief surge through her as she saw the familiar words on her screen, had she been forgiven? She quickly marched up the stairs, ignoring the teacher when he called out to her, simply throwing out an excuse and rushing to their meeting place.

Kim was wrong.

She hadn’t been forgiven. Far from it. She had literally and figuratively been cut out of her friends lives. 5 years of friendship with Amanda, gone in an instant. And it was her fault, no denying it.

She looked at the scissors embedded in the wall and considered what her next move should be. It would be so easy to just end it all, alone in the increasingly small bathroom, but as she tore the blades out of the space between the mirrors she realised she didn’t want to.

She didn’t want to be the kind of person who lived in fear, hiding behind people, trying to fit in. She didn’t want to die knowing that she hadn’t done anything worthwhile in her life, knowing that in 10 years, people would remember her as the bully who killed herself.

She wanted to leave that person behind. And so, in an act of impulsive behaviour, she started snipping off locks of the long hair that she’d had since she could remember, watching them fall into the white sink. It was symbolic, like she was watching the last few years of her life detach from her, she was separating herself.

The girl she used to be was gone.

***

She was diving again.

Or she was about to. She was in her suit, but usually she spent a bit of time just sitting on the edge of the cliff, watching the stars as she heard the steady sounds of the water flowing beneath her.

However, this time, she was not alone. She had grown accustomed to the sounds of the mountains, she knew when there was something out of place. And she could hear the heavy footsteps of a man trying to be quiet. She knew that it wasn’t a hunter, so she wouldn’t be in danger. Chances were that it was just another person on a hike, like her.

Her gaze swept over the line of trees that were visible, figuring that she’d be able to spot the person if she could hear them, but they seemed to be hidden amongst the trees, perhaps spying on her. This gave her the idea to give them a fright, they probably didn’t know this part of the mountains as well as she did, so they didn’t know that the fall from the cliff was survivable. She grinned to herself before leaping off the cliff, the air rushing through her hair, she felt like she was flying.

She swam as low as she could get before moving with the current to an area slightly downstream, which would be out of sight from most points on the cliff, but easy to get back up. She heard the sounds of some sort of struggle and quickly made her way to the top once more to see Jason Scott, former football legend, shucking off his clothes, with the obvious intention to save her.

Her eyes ran over him, making note of the 6 above his head, making him and Billy tied in second place of the most dangerous person their age, the first being Trini. She called out to him before he dove after her, in order to save him the trouble, though old Kim would have let him, most likely followed him down in order to taunt him, perhaps even flirt. But this Kim wasn’t interested in that. She no longer had anyone to prove herself too. And she didn’t know why that thought made her feel that empty.

As she ranted to Jason about life in a small town and the need to escape, she wondered why. Why was she baring her soul to this practical stranger that she had only talked to a couple of times before in her life? Had she really lost the ability to talk to anyone else in her life that she resorted to the first person that showed even the tiniest hint of compassion? It seemed so.

***

It seems like the new Kim was incredibly reckless.

She and four other teenagers, including a stranger, Jason, Billy, and, most surprisingly, Trini, had all met up somehow in the middle of the night and gotten into a car crash. But not before finding these strange coins embedded into the cliffs, and having to run from the site workers because, oh yeah, it was a restricted area.

The other boy that they met seemed to fulfill the entire, outcast, teen angst, stereotype, dressed in all black, leather jacket, and a manic personality to boot. It wasn’t that hard to accept the 7 over his head. She was still wary though.

However, despite the bad ending of that night, Kimberly woke up in her bed, not a scratch on her. But she had changed. She was incredibly strong now, able to crush her phone with her bare hands. She met up with Jason and Billy the next day, still cautious around Trini, and the three of them agreed to go back to the mountains that day.

And then they found out they were superheros.

***

Training was odd for Kimberly. She saw the boys’ numbers steadily rise every day. They were all 7 within 3 days, due to the advanced fighting skills they had acquired, Zack was able to adapt his previous martial arts training in order to suit Alpha’s directions, showing her why he had been higher than the other two to begin with.

However, Trini stayed at a 10, no matter how much better at fighting she got.

They weren’t able to morph, because they weren’t connected. Kim felt that it was her fault. Not only was she hiding secrets from the team, she was still constantly on edge around Trini, causing her to force herself to spend more time with her. She moved slightly closer to her in Biology, not yet on the same table but close enough that she just had to lean over in order to talk to her.

They started going places together, and Kim realised that she had been judging Trini on her number too harshly. She quickly saw how cute Trini was, despite the hard exterior. Fighting over the last donut at Krispy Kreme, taking advantage of their new reflexes opened up a whole new problem when she saw Trini giggling at their activities.

Kim had a crush. And it was bad.

***

Soon enough all she could think about was Trini, but in a different way than before. She no longer wondered how best to avoid her, just in case she was finally tipped over the edge, and started wondering how she could persuade her to go to places that Kim wanted to take her to. She was quickly blurring the line between what was and wasn’t a date, hoping that Trini would catch on soon, but she seemed to be oblivious.

She didn’t want Trini nor the rest of the guys to judge her for her bad decisions the way that she had judges Trini for her number, so she asked them to skip her during their campfire confession session. She wanted to hold on to the friendships she had made for just a little while longer, she didn’t want to be cut out again.

But it was eating at her. She knew that they wouldn’t be able to move forward unless she addressed the problem. She had originally decided to go to Trini, and tell her everything, but she chickened out at the last minute, and made her way to Jason’s instead. She wished she hadn’t.

Perhaps if she had gone to Trini then she would have been able to stop Rita from hurting her. She saw the bruises across Trini’s neck and a rage ignited within her, despite knowing that they would heal in a few hours, she wanted to hurt Rita just as badly. So she all too readily agreed with Jason’s plan to take her on, despite having not morphed yet, which led to them being captured, and led to Billy dying.

All because she hadn’t been with Trini.

***

These thoughts plagued her, even after Billy came back to life. Even after they had managed to defeat Rita, she realised that Trini was perhaps her greatest weakness, and the idea scared her. If something happened to Trini then she didn’t know what she would do, she didn’t know how dangerous that made her.

Trini was dangerous.

She had already known it. She had been cursed with that knowledge her whole life. But Trini was a different kind of dangerous. She wasn’t harmful to anyone, except for Kim. Because Kim would die for any of the rangers, but she would burn down the entire world for Trini, which was the most dangerous part of this whole adventure.

And later, when she finally had enough courage to kiss her for the first time, the feelings impossibly grew, and Kim well and truly knew that she was entirely fucked.

Because Trini Kwan was the most dangerous woman she ever met, and she was so thankful that she did.