AN: Hello again. Sorry for the delay, life happens. A confrontation approaches, maybe even more than one and more wedding nonsense! Please Read and Review! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
October 1st, 2008
Supreme Nails Salon & Spa
A day of pampering was a thing of joy…sort of.
Kim examined her nails with one scrutinizing eye. Her other eye was shut, nuzzled against the massage table's pillow.
Aisha's first duty as the Maid of Honor, was booking the traditional beauty treatments they were receiving. The salon offered a "Supreme Bridal Package", complete with an hour massage, optional sauna steam bath, and of course the deluxe manicure and pedicure. Annie had been given an offer to accompany her mom and aunt but declined, claiming she had ''too much work to do". The older women knew the girl was still a bit gun shy after the bridal shop incident, not to mention the teen's anxiety over practicing her wedding song.
So the adults went it alone, with the possibility of Katherine joining them a little later. They had opted to start with the massage, skip the sauna and end with their nails.
They'd deal with hair and makeup later in the week. Aisha already had appointments for both of those. She was a responsible Maid of Honor after all.
"Should I do pink or flesh tone, Sha?" Kim wondered absently, still considering her nails.
Aisha involuntarily groaned as the masseuse kneaded a particularly large knot on her side.
"How pink are we talking?" Aisha asked.
Kim shut her eyes as her own masseuse rolled her hands up Kim's spine. It was that halfway point between stabbing pain and immense relief.
"Light pink," Kim ground out as the masseuse continued to tenderize her back, "Like my dress."
Her words hummed as her mouth vibrated against the table from the massage. Kim never knew if the discomfort she felt during these things was supposed to happen or if it was a sign of something wrong. She said nothing about it, grateful for the gift Aisha had provided. But damn it if her masseuse wasn't awfully rough.
"Well, I have to go bright pink," Aisha piped up.
Unlike Kim, she loved the pain that came naturally to a deep massage. She wanted all the kinks and knots eliminated. And however hard that meant you had to knead and pull and rub, so much the better.
"I know this is a new color for you," Kim said as cheekily as she could. It sounded more pathetic with her face smashed against the table, but Aisha caught her tone nonetheless.
"At least the dress is cute," Aisha snickered, "I guess that makes up for it."
"What time is it?" Kim asked.
The masseuse glanced at the clock and informed her it was half past one already. Another half hour of punishment or pleasure, depending on your perspective.
"I hope Kat gets back in time to get her nails done with us," Kim added.
Aisha grunted, "It was her choice to go down to L.A. and pick up your dress."
"Sha…" Kim warned gently. Kat's effusiveness was wearing thin. But Kim knew the real reason for this latest trip.
"How many times has she made that trip in the last three days?" Aisha continued, "Even Jason thought it was sketchy."
"I think she's trying to avoid Billy for a little longer," Kim explained, "Give Jason a chance to see him first without her there."
"Billy won't care," Aisha supplied, "Nothing like a hot date to ease your pain."
Kim winced as the skin along her neck was pulled. The masseuse seemed to catch this particular cry and moved lower instead.
"Kat cheated on him with his close friend," Kim reasoned, "One date with a new woman is not going to erase that."
"Zack said Billy was pretty jazzed," Aisha sang, "They're going out after the wedding."
"I know everything that you know," Kim reminded her, "Tommy and Zack were like two giggling school girls."
Aisha's muffled laughter created a hollow echo in the small room. She turned her head to face Kim.
"They were pretty cute about it," Aisha giggled, "In that obnoxious way."
Kim's eyes were watering. She couldn't tell if the pain in her chest was from her trying to laugh or from her lockdown position for the past thirty minutes.
"I just want the drama to be over," Kim whined.
"Oh it will," Aisha assured her, "One way or another, this shit will end."
Kim grumbled and buried her head fully into her pillow.
October 1st, 2008
Technically, Annie should have gone with Aisha and her mother to the salon, seeing as she too was in the wedding party. But statistically, Annie figured it was safer to avoid any more outings with the girls. Though the shoplifting incident grew dimmer every day, Annie decided to not take any chances.
Besides, running errands with her dad was proving fun. Not to mention stopping for lunch with Zack and Billy.
They were trying to take photos while seated at their table. Tommy was holding the camera at a skewed angle, refusing to simply ask a kind stranger to take the photo for them.
"It's more fun this way," he insisted, twisting his arm to reposition the lens.
Zack leaned in while Billy stood from his seat, per Tommy's direction. Annie timidly poked her head into frame.
Tommy counted down and pressed the button. His laughter echoed off the walls as Zack and Annie immediately returned to their seats while Billy and Tommy examined the photo.
"What's left for today?" Zack wondered aloud, munching on the remains of his sandwich.
Tommy handed off the camera to Billy for perusal before reaching for his planner and stack of memos.
"Adam and Tanya are coming in around three," Tommy muttered as he scanned his notes.
"Their accommodations are two doors down from mine," Billy chimed in absently, still examining the photos.
Tommy nodded, "They're checking out the stage space for the music."
"You said I could go with them, right?" Annie asked.
"Of course," Tommy nodded once more.
Zack wiped his hands clean with a napkin, nodding along as he finished chewing. "Then all that's left is bachelor party planning when Jas-"
Zack caught himself as Tommy shot him a nervous look. Billy just snickered and set down the camera.
"I will be more than happy to excuse myself from that if it would make everyone more comfortable."
Tommy cringed but forced himself to look at Billy. He didn't want the man excluded from anything, but he shamefully supposed it would be easier.
It was Zack's turn to snicker. "Billy-man, of course you'll be at the bachelor party. If planning this type of thing isn't for you, no problem," Zack assured him.
"What is a bachelor party, like, actually?" Annie wondered.
The three men looked between each other, grasping for an appropriate answer. Surprisingly, Billy calmly cleared his throat, adjusted his glasses and spoke.
"It is a pre-nuptial celebration wherein the typically all male designated portion of the wedding party gathers for a ceremonial binging of somewhat provocative behavior as a metaphorical rite of passage for the bridegroom."
Annie's brow furrowed into an unintentional scowl as she tried to follow her uncle's exhaustive answer. Zack barely stifled a laugh and Tommy had an almost identical expression as his daughter.
"It's a party for the groom," Tommy cut in, trying to ease Annie's frustration, or perhaps his own.
Annie rolled her eyes, "I got that part."
Billy too rolled his eyes, "I thought that aspect was elucidated."
He didn't know precisely why this exact moment set him off, but Tommy had had enough. Maybe it was all the tension mounting from the inevitable reunion of his combative friends, maybe it simply wedding stress, either way, Tommy was done. He exhaled dramatically and raised his hands in defeat.
"Fine. I'll stop trying to translate," he announced to the table, directing each statement at the respective individuals in front of him.
"Annie, yes, it's a party. Zack, you can stop giggling at any time. And Billy, I'd love for you to be a part of the bachelor party. But Jason is obviously going to be there and help plan it. So we might as well get this drama over with it before the actual wedding."
His speech wasn't terribly revelatory, nor was it the angriest he'd ever been. But it was always a bit startling to see Tommy in a mood that brooked no argument. He was very serious in those moments and his humor absent.
He stood from his place, grabbed his planner and notes and stalked off to the parking lot. Zack, despite Tommy's tepid warning, kept chuckling to himself. Billy had the grace to look somewhat embarrassed, and Annie crossed her arms in want of protest before deciding to follow her father.
October 1st, 2008
Supreme Nails Salon & Spa
"It matches perfectly!" Kim squealed, holding her hand up to the dress.
Kat smiled as she looked over her shoulder. Since she'd arrived late, she only just started getting her own manicure. After massages and manicures of their own, Aisha and Kim were already drying their feet from the pedicures they'd also received.
Kim's wedding dress, encased in its clear plastic garment bag, was carefully draped across her lap as she mused happily at the color coordination of the gown to her polish.
"The dress looks good?" Kat wondered as the technician filed away at her hand.
"Yes, it looks perfect," Kim gushed.
Aisha rolled her eyes and snickered, flipping another page of her magazine. She wiggled her toes beneath the UV lamp by her feet. Another five minutes and they'd be properly primped.
"Oh Kim, " Kat called out, "I also picked up that other thing while I was there."
Kim's eyes became misty as she and Kat shared a look. "Thank you, Kat."
Aisha looked up from her magazine and scrutinized the two other women.
"What other thing?" Aisha asked.
Kat smiled sheepishly, turning her head to avoid Aisha's glare.
Kim bit her lip, "A dress," Kim explained with a shrug, "For Annie."
Aisha's eyes went wide, "A dress? You bought her a dress?" Aisha looked between Kat and Kim, "The same one she stole?"
"Tried to steal," Kim corrected, "And I didn't buy it. Kat did."
"Really?" Aisha mused, turning back to glare at Kat once more.
Kat could feel the former yellow Ranger's eyes on her. It was suddenly more apparent than ever why Aisha's ninjetti animal had been the Bear.
Kat slowly turned again to face the woman.
"I thought it'd be gesture of good faith," Kat supplied.
"And I agreed," Kim backed her up.
"A gesture of good faith for who?" Aisha muttered under breath.
Kim idly smacked Aisha's arm, "Stop it," Kim whispered.
Aisha cleared her throat loudly, "So, Kat, how was L.A.?"
Kim groaned as Kat put on a sly smile, "I went alone, Aisha. You know that."
Aisha feigned innocence, "I know I know, I just meant, you've been going back and forth so much, I was just asking how it was...for the eighth time this week."
Kat bit her tongue. Aisha's recent cattiness toward her was tiresome, not to mention hurtful. After all, if Kim could forgive her, why couldn't Aisha? And if Aisha's sudden backlash wasn't about the affair with Jason, then what was it about? Katherine supposed she had been a bit saccharine with Kimberly's affections after they'd made amends. But hadn't Kat already explained she felt guilty? It certainly wasn't as though Kat thought she could replace Aisha. Nor would she want to. She was just trying to help where she could.
"Just trying to avoid the drama," Kat intoned, giving Aisha a pointed look.
Despite the tension, Kim laughed at Kat's barb as Aisha scoffed.
"Right, Sha?" Kim mused, "One way or another, this shit will end?"
Aisha rolled her eyes at the bride-to-be and zeroed in on Kat once more.
"Avoid the drama or delay it?"
Kat snickered, though the comment stung, "Aisha, why do you care? It's not any of your business whether or not Billy and I make up."
"Sure it is," Aisha threw back, "It could potentially disrupt this wedding and I don't want to see that happen."
Kim felt obliged to chime in, "Now wait, Sha," she started, "I don't think Kat or Billy or anybody wants that either."
"Of course not," Kat nodded.
"But the longer you keep hiding the worse it's gonna get," Aisha warned.
Kim sat up and placed a halting arm on Aisha, "Whoa, whoa, whoa! What happened to 'Billy won't care'?" Kim reminded her.
"I mean, he might not, but what if he sees Kat and just flips?" Aisha countered.
"Do you honestly think Billy would do that?" Kat asked.
"I don't know!" Aisha shrieked, "I never expected Billy to punch Jason but there ya go!"
"That was different," Kat reasoned.
"Yeah, that was immediately after finding out," Kim added.
Aisha shot Kim an incredulous look, "What about you? What happened to "Kat cheated' and 'one date won't erase that'?"
Kat eyes went wide as Kim looked frantically between the two women. She chose to answer Aisha's questioning gaze first.
"I just meant that Billy wouldn't completely dismiss Kat, that's all," Kim stated plainly as Kat's expectant stare burned through her.
"Billy has a—a date," Kim added slowly, "With the woman who—who—owns the café."
"Tommy and Kim set it up," Aisha chimed in, receiving a withering glare from Kim.
Kat looked pensive, though to her credit, she remained calm. Kim exhaled deeply. She was relieved in a way to have had all this come out now. Though part of her also wanted to throttle Aisha a bit too.
Kim cleared her throat, "Kat, we just thought maybe if he met someone new…"
Kat stopped her with a nod, "I understand, Kimberly. It was very thoughtful of you guys to want that for Billy."
"God," Kimberly exhaled, "I'm sorry if that makes seeing him any harder."
"Why should it? She's the one that cheated," Aisha piped up, "She has no right to feel bad if Billy wants to move on."
"Aisha, lay off!" Kim practically shouted, "Kat's not a threat to anyone. Just shut up and stop it already. You're being obnoxious."
Aisha winced but had the decency to look ashamed as she mumbled, "Sorry…"
Kat shook her head, "No, Kim, she's not wrong. You've no reason to accommodate my feelings about this. No reason to check in with me. He deserves every happiness after what I did. I hope he is—or at least, will be."
"I hope so too," Kim quietly agreed.
October 1st, 2008
Haley's Cyber Café
"Damn it," Tommy grumbled, "The box of place cards is still in the car."
"I'll grab 'em," Jason offered, setting his stack of supplies down by the door.
"How is Kat?" Zack asked, holding the door for Tommy.
Jason shot Zack a knowing look. Tommy just rolled his eyes and headed inside. The original black Ranger was fishing for information, as much for himself as for Aisha.
But to Jason's credit, he kept his answer plain.
"Kat's doing great," Jason replied, "She picked up Kim's dress and headed straight to the salon to meet up with the girls."
Zack chuckled as Tommy returned, grabbing Jason's former stack of boxes left on the ground.
As Jason sprinted back to the car he called out, "Where are Tanya and Adam?"
Tommy checked his watch precariously as he balanced the items in his hand, "They got in a half hour ago," Tommy called back, "They stopped at the hotel to check in and unload first."
"Should be here shortly," Zack added.
"Right on," Jason yelled back, " Can't wait to see them."
"Me either!" Tommy shouted, heading back inside.
"Grab my water bottle too, will ya?" Zack asked as he followed Tommy indoors.
Jason snickered as he reached Tommy's jeep and popped the trunk gate open.
The sound of a car approaching caught his attention. He lifted his gaze to see three familiar faces rounding out of a blue sedan.
His excitement upon seeing Adam and Tanya was cut short by the appearance of the third face, but he hoped to play off his anxiety.
"Hey, you made it!" He announced, louder than necessary.
Tanya reached him first as Adam followed, carrying a guitar case in his hands.
"Good to see you again," Jason said as Tanya's slender arms came to wrap him in a hug.
"You too," came Tanya's muffled reply as her face became buried in his chest.
"Hey Jase," was Adam's soft greeting, coming up behind the pair.
Tanya and Jason broke their embrace as Adam reached out a friendly hand.
The men shook hands before laughing as Jason pulled Adam in for a one armed hug.
"Good to see you, bro," Jason said absently as Adam nodded. The last remaining arrival now clearly in his view.
Adam caught Jason's gaze and saw the fear in his eyes. Adam cleared his throat.
"Is everyone else inside?" Adam asked loudly.
Jason broke his stare and looked back at the couple with a nervous smile, "Yep. Annie's been anxious to see you guys."
Tanya and Adam laughed as they nodded and started for the door, but not before throwing a quick glance between Jason and the man that had driven them to the café.
"Well," Tanya said quickly, "Better not keep her waiting any longer."
Adam snuck a last supportive clap onto Jason's shoulder before heading inside with his wife.
Jason watched them disappear through the door for a moment longer. Wanting to prolong this next inevitable reunion.
After what seemed like an eternity, Jason finally managed to turn his head back to the car. The man he had avoided for so long a mere ten feet away. Billy remained by the driver's side door, having stepped out of the car when he'd arrived but not moved from his spot.
The two estranged friends just locked eyes for a while, both silently assessing the other.
Whether it spoke to his character, or perhaps simply just his guilt, Jason was the first to finally speak.
"Hey," he choked out with a nod.
Jason could see Billy's eyes squint, as if judging the other man's fairly ineloquent greeting.
Jason gritted his teeth. This was already proving difficult. Not that he expected anything less, nor did he think he deserved better, but Billy's terse tone was far more intimidating than a lot of things he'd encountered in his life. And that was definitely saying something. Jason's only hope was that while Billy didn't seem terribly pleased, he hadn't left either.
"So, you drove Adam and Tanya here?" Jason asked with a grimace, immediately recognizing the absurdity of his painfully obvious question.
Billy just nodded silently.
"You pick them up from the airport?" Jason wondered.
"The hotel," Billy corrected, "We're all staying there."
Jason smiled sheepishly as he nodded. Six words weren't bad. Better than before.
"So, the wedding, huh?" Jason spewed out suddenly with a laugh.
Billy rolled his eyes, "Jason…"
Jason swallowed the rest of his laughter, nodding knowingly. He knew he was stalling. They both did.
"I know, Billy," Jason said quietly after a moment, "I know."
"As amusing as it is watching you stumble through these platitudes, I believe some acknowledgement of what has transpired between us is necessary at this juncture. Either to reinforce the deterioration of this friendship or to enable a reconciliation."
Jason found himself genuinely smiling. He'd missed Billy's overwrought explanations, the big words: the always slightly condescending tone. In spite of it all, he'd really missed his friend.
"Billy," he started slowly, "I don't—saying 'I'm sorry' doesn't even begin—"
"No, it doesn't," Billy said curtly.
"But you gotta know that I am," Jason rushed to continue, "Billy I am so sorry."
"Are you?" Billy asked, receiving a puzzled look from Jason. Billy sighed and clarified, "You're not sorry about being with Kat."
Jason ducked his head, "No, I'm not sorry about that," he confirmed, "I love her."
Billy inhaled sharply, "So did I."
Jason nodded, "I know."
"I'm not—" Billy started, his voice beginning to crack. Jason lifted his eyes once more at the sound.
"I'm not the worldliest guy in terms of women," Billy started again, choking on his awkward admission. "Katherine was a lot of firsts for me."
Jason nodded, "I know."
"I'm not like you, Jason," Billy added, his tears now fully realized, "Or like Zack or Tommy or any of you. I can't act as though this transgression didn't devastate me."
Jason nodded, "I know."
"Stop saying that!" Billy shouted, "Acknowledging trespass does not guarantee integrity!"
Jason winced. He understood enough of what that meant to say nothing this time.
"However," Billy calmed himself, "I recognize the fraternal bond we've had preceded Katherine and I acknowledge that your ratio of good deeds put forth in said fraternal bond far outweighs the bad. In fact, I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that this affair with Katherine was the only bad thing you've ever committed, at least toward me and our friendship."
Jason wanted to nod. Wanted to acknowledge that his affair with Katherine was indeed the worst thing he'd ever done to Billy.
"Furthermore," Billy went on, "I am content with my current circumstances. Far more content than I initially thought I would be. This does not dismiss the betrayal and hurt that your actions have inflicted, but I suppose it does put them into perspective. I can't say I will be overly ingratiating when it comes to your relationship with Katherine but I will certainly not go out of my way to interfere either. "
Jason braved a small look in Billy's direction. "I'm sorry we lied to you."
It was Billy's turn to nod this time. He flashed Jason a smirk, "I know."
Jason managed a tiny chuckle, "I never meant to hurt anyone. Least of all you."
Billy nodded, "It was an absolutely asinine handling of the situation."
"Yeah…" Jason said glumly.
"But I didn't react much better," Billy admitted, "Hitting you might have temporarily relieved my frustrations but it certainly wasn't a solution."
"It was a really good punch," Jason mused, instinctually rubbing his jaw.
Billy laughed to himself, "Perhaps I am more like you than I thought."
"Oh yeah!" Jason agreed, "If I was you, I'd have punch me too."
Billy smiled, "You know, that's actually good to know."
"You're a low brow cretin like the rest of us," Jason chuckled.
Billy shot him a look to which Jason held up his hands.
"Sorry, are we not back to joking yet?" Jason asked seriously.
Billy raised a scrutinizing eyebrow, "For the sake of Tommy and Kimberly's nuptials, I suppose it would behoove us to attempt amnesty."
"Just for the wedding's sake?" Jason worried, "Not for us? Our friendship?"
Billy considered the question. "Let this week's festivities determine if our friendship is sustainable. Our best behavior is in accordance anyway, and we will see."
"I guess that's fair," Jason mumbled.
"You're not the only one who misses the camaraderie, Jason," Billy informed him, "And I certainly don't want to avoid you or Kat forever, but this whole reconciliation might be a slow process."
"And I've never been good at patience," Jason conceded.
"No," Billy shot him a knowing look, "Patience is not your virtue."
Jason laughed bitterly, "That was a loaded comment."
Billy shrugged, "It could have been worse."
"You could have punched me again," Jason considered.
Billy snickered, "Yes."
An awkward but far less tense silence fell between them for a moment. Both men realizing they hadn't moved from their initial spots since they began their conversation. Billy finally broke the silence and nudged his chin in the direction of the jeep.
"Were you bringing more supplies inside?"
Jason snapped out of his daze and nodded, "Yeah. Box of place cards."
Billy walked over to his side as Jason reached for the box.
"So, I hear you got a date with this Haley woman?" Jason braved.
Billy shot him a wry smile, "Keep away."
It took all of three seconds for Jason to abandon the item and grab Billy instead.
The two locked in an aggressive hug, Jason's eyes watering with all the guilt he'd been harboring for the last several months.
Billy was surprisingly stoic, having cried months before and getting slightly emotional earlier today. He sighed gruffly as Jason squeezed his apology into him.
"I can't tell you I forgive you yet," Billy whispered.
Jason nodded as he pulled away, his hands still on Billy's shoulders.
"I'll take what I can get."
Billy nodded as Jason finally released him, offering to carry the box with outstretched arms.
"Thanks," Jason said, handing off the box as he then remembered to grab Zack's water bottle. They both knew Jason wasn't talking about the box, but neither said another word.
Billy started for the door as Jason closed the trunk and ran to follow his friend inside.
AN: Well, there it was. The "showdown" between Billy and Jason. Hope you weren't disappointed it wasn't more violent or explosive. And what is Aisha's problem? Hopefully Kim will forgive her quickly! Catch ya on the flipside!