The following story was written as a result of my frustration at not being able to find two stories which were written two years ago, and a plot bunny. It is a one shot. Different from a lot of what I've written in the past, but true to a lot of my usual pairings. Oh, and I am a major Tommy Kimberly fan, although many people may find this a bit untrue to that.
Disclaimer: The usual, I don't claim to own anything you may recognize so do not sue me.
Lightning Never Strikes Twice
He should have known better than to travel around the country in the middle of the winter. Granted, he should have known a lot of things, but that didn't mean that he did. Quite the contrary, there were many things he was sure he didn't know, nor would he ever know, nor did he even want to know. Among those things was why he was consistently punished by the higher powers that ruled the universe despite all the good and hard work he had done in his life, this only being the newest on the list of punishments.
He shoved his hand deep into his pocket as he read the arriving and departing flight list again, his laptop bag strung across his chest and resting heavily beside his waist. He had a medium sized rolling suitcase clutched in the hand that wasn't in his pocket, fearful that if he checked the bag, with his luck, it would get lost, at least until he went out and bought all new clothing and then it would turn up again. He wasn't going to tempt it.
He'd been traveling for a few weeks now, and thus far things had gone smoothly. This was the problem he found with having friends who lived all over the country. Why they all couldn't stay put, he hadn't figured out, but it was getting annoying, not to mention expensive, to fly all over the place.
"Excuse me sir, but could I please see your id?" The airport security guard asked him. It was a different one from the one who'd asked him for proof of identity five hours before. He sighed and handed the plastic card over for the second time since his flight had gotten delayed for the third time, and he still had an hour more to go before the flight to New York even started boarding. He'd have to call Kira and Trent and tell them he'd be late, yet again, although, if the blizzard in New York continued, he was sure they would already know.
"Thank you, Mr. Oliver," the security guard said handing back the id. Tommy just rolled his eyes; it wasn't worth correcting the young officer with his correct title. He nodded as the man left him alone once again, and glanced at his watch before deciding to head back to the food court and get his eighth cup of coffee. He would either have to pee very badly when he got on the plane, or he'd end up completely broke, considering he'd spent most of his cash while visiting Ethan and Conner at Florida State.
He ordered his drink from the same woman he'd ordered the last few from. She even had it just as he wanted it, and gave him a sympathetic look as if she knew what it was like to be stranded in a strange airport for several hours desperately waiting for a flight that you had a gut feeling would ultimately get canceled. He thanked her as he placed the few bills and change on the counter in front of her, and taking his receipt which he stuffed down into his pocket along with all the others and made his over to one of the too small round tables with the uncomfortably stiff chairs and pulled out a newspaper from his laptop bag, only to read the articles he'd already read at least once before.
The sound of a child laughing caused Tommy to look up. Who would have booked a flight this late at night with a small child, unless of course their flight had been canceled as well. He watched for a moment as the laughing child began running backwards, straight into a young woman who dropped the notebook she was carrying, scattering papers everywhere. Tommy winced as the child looked at the woman with fear in his eyes and then took off running back to his parents who were across on the other side of the food court not even paying attention to their son, although that could be because their baby was screaming its head off.
Tommy sighed, and folded his news paper, stuffing it back into its bag and stepping over to the woman to help her. He glanced at one of the papers as he gathered those closest to him. They had leotard designs on them; those that a gymnast might wear. They were both practical and stylish, and if the idea was to catch someone's eyes, they had most certainly succeeded.
He gathered up the last of the fallen papers and brought them back to the woman who was kneeling, making her own stack from the sheets that hadn't gone farther away from her and mumbling about rude children. Not that she hated children; in fact, she loved children, at least the well behaved ones. When she heard his feet approach she looked up at him, as he offered a hand down to assist her in standing under the weight of the bags she carried. She had a bag similar to his own laptop case, and an overly large purse that would have looked more at home on an elderly woman than it did on the petite frame of the lady in front of him.
"Thank you," she muttered as she straightened at the knees once again, and smoothed her skirt, before brushing a strand of stick straight brown hair from his eyes and looked at the gallant man who had rendered service to her. There weren't many people left who would selflessly help another person anymore, which often caused her to feel disappointed at man kind. She frown for a moment as she searched his face which was sending alarm bells off in her mind. She knew this man, and she knew exactly from where. The woman drew a sharp intake of breath and let a smile cross her lips. "Tommy! Is it really you?"
He smiled back, a little uneasy. He'd known who she was just from the way she'd pouted when her pages had been scattered around the food court of the airport, but he'd sort of hoped he'd be able to stay anonymous, although, he'd known all along that would be impossible. They'd been too close in their past to be able to forget one another in a mere fourteen year span of absence.
"It's good to see you, Kimberly," he eased from his throat, secretly having to force the air across his voice box. She made him as nervous now as she had when they were kids; maybe even more so now.
"It's good to see you too," was her nearly silent response. Her glee at seeing him a moment ago had nearly vanished as an uneasy silence began to descend on the duo who had been brought to the same place by chance. "What are you doing here?" she managed to ask.
He gave her another small, shy smile. "My flight's been delayed," he replied, then paused for a moment, debating his next move in the awkward conversation that was taking place between them. "Do you want to sit down?" he asked, although immediately regretted the suggestion a moment later, unsure exactly what could be accomplished by sitting down in a nearly empty airport food area with the one woman in the universe who could bring him to his knees begging for mercy. Yet she was the exact same woman that part of his heart would always long to be with, no matter how many miles separated them or how many years they spent apart, only to be brought together by friends or random chance events, as they had just been.
"Sure," she replied, glancing at her watch. She still had a while until her own flight, though she didn't mention that to him. He nodded and began to lead the way to where he'd left his bags and now cooling cup of coffee, only to realize that he still had the sketched clasped between his fingers, which he suddenly, sheepishly, handed back to her. "Thanks," she muttered, sliding them into the portfolio she carried, which had once been neat and now resembled the locker she'd owned when she'd first met Tommy, years ago in high school.
Tommy gently pulled the chair out for her when they reached the table, unconsciously, and his action made both of them blush slightly. He forced the redness from his cheeks as he swept around to the other side of the table and resumed his seat, taking a casual sip from his coffee, trying to appear calm and collected although his insides were screaming at him to run in the opposite direction, and possibly take the next flight to Tahiti.
"So…" Kimberly said, pursing her lips together at the end of the single syllable, not wanting the dreaded awkward silence to overtake them yet again, finally realizing that chance may have actually intended for them to meet, and maybe there was some remote, divine, interference that wanted them together at that uncomfortable table, which was becoming more uncomfortable by the minute.
Tommy on the other hand was cursing his bad luck yet again, possibly wondering if he should have checked the bag beside him to appease the spirits that followed him. He figured that if they couldn't get him one way, they were probably just making new ways on their own to torture him. He also figured meeting Kimberly in the airport was definitely not a divine interference, but possibly one that came from a little known power called the morphing grid. He'd have to ask Trini if that was possible, and if she didn't know, he'd track down Billy on Aquitar. Someone would have to have an answer for him.
"So," he repeated back, taking another sip of his warm coffee which had seemingly lost its taste. "Are you going somewhere?" He knew it wasn't the most intelligent question to ask someone when meeting them in an airport terminal, but brain function was not something Tommy prided himself on when he came into contact with ex-girlfriends over a decade after he'd last seen them. And Kimberly was anything but an ordinary ex-girlfriend. She was the ex-girlfriend, the one he'd let go that he knew he never should have. He was the one he regretted and she was one of the few he'd ever dreamed of being with once more.
"L.A," she replied simply. "And you?"
"New York," was his reply. He didn't mention that he was going to visit two old teammate who were just now in their last year of college, and would be graduating in the spring. He didn't mention that they were engaged either and that he'd promised he'd visit them for New Years after spending Christmas with the other half of that team. Nor did mention his reluctance to go back home to his empty house in Reefside where his best friend cavorted around with her newest boyfriend; who despite all of Tommy's over protectiveness, was actually sticking around. "What are those sketches? They're good," he told her.
Kimberly blushed slightly at the randomly placed compliment, regarding it as more just Tommy being his usual sweet self and not really a true praise of her work. Reminded of the papers, she opened the portfolio and began the menial task of reorganizing them, her thumbs nimbly pulling the pages apart. "Designs for American Olympic gymnastic team for the summer games next year," she told him.
"They start this early?" he asked, not sounding the least bit curious as to why she of all people would have countless images of clothing. Last he knew she'd been a stylish teenager training for the pan globals in Tampa. Now she looked like a professional business woman with her entire career in front of her, and Tommy figured he looked shabby and unlearned next to her, despite the credentials that hung on the wall in his office; his very messy, earthquake shook, office.
"They do," she remarked.
"Oh," came his quiet reply as he took his eyes away from her and cast them back at his coffee.
"Never mind," she whispered, casting her eyes towards her lap where her hands fumbled uselessly. She couldn't remember what she was going to say, nor why she'd felt the need to say something in the first place to the man sitting across from her. In ways he appeared the same Tommy Oliver she'd loved in high school, and in others he was different. There was a darker presence about him. Not an evil feeling, but more of one who'd suffered and experienced more heartache than he should have.
His face told her that he'd grown up since she'd last kissed his lips. She'd known that much only about a year later when she'd gone to surprise him with Jason. Unfortunately the surprise had been ruined when they'd gotten kidnapped and Tommy had to save her ass once again. Kimberly tried to remember if he'd seemed this sad, this tired then too. She decided he hadn't, but that the spark had probably been there. He certainly seemed more sarcastic.
"I- uh," she started, trying to find her voice once again, as her eyes passed over the silver and pink wrist watch she wore in place of her old communicator on her wrist. She no longer needed it now that her time as a super hero was long gone. However, she kept a cell phone planted in her purse and she wouldn't hesitate to call up one of her old friends randomly just to talk. Tommy knew she had. He stayed in contact with them too, and occasionally one of them would slip, intentionally or unintentionally, that they had spoken to Kimberly recently. It had always bothered him how they'd never actually managed to stay in contact. "My flight's going to be boarding soon. I guess I should go," she finished.
"Wouldn't want to miss your flight," he agreed. His face wore a smile, but she could hear a bit of disappointment in his smooth voice as he spoke to her. He stood at the same time she did, pushing in his chair and gathering his belongings. He tossed the near empty cup of coffee into the trash can, catching the coffee girl's eye once more. She smiled at him, and Tommy gave a nod of farewell to her, hoping he wouldn't be coming aback for a ninth cup of coffee.
They walked together quietly toward the gates, his footsteps in time with her own. The only sound was the rolling of his luggage wheels and the rhythm as her heals made a soft clack against the marble flooring, and then a soft shhh sound as the path traded over to carpet until they came to a fork. Instinctively they knew they would split here. They usually did when they came to a divide in their lives' courses.
"It was nice seeing you again," Tommy told her, stuffing his hand free hand into his pocket. He nodded to her, the same way he had to the coffee girl, as if he hardly knew her better, and turned to go down towards his own gate.
"Wait," Kimberly called after him. He turned back around, faster than he intended to, which made Kimberly's heart skip a beat, after the hurt he'd caused by his abrupt and seemingly cruel goodbye. She yanked open her portfolio, scribbled something onto a sheet of paper and tore it out of the packet, then balancing the book and her sketches on one arm, she extended the scrap toward him. He took a few steps closer and wrapped his fingers around the paper, the tips of his fingers lightly brushing against her own. "Call me sometime," she added.
Tommy looked down at the tiny sheet of paper he now held, and studied the ten digits she'd scribbled down almost illegibly. Had he not studied her handwriting when they were younger, he wouldn't have been able to tell her sevens from ones. In the corner of the paper was the characteristic heart she used in a lot of her notes to him. Bellow the numbers, in the same scrawled writing he made out "Kimberly's Cell". He nodded briefly, looking back at her. "I will," he replied.
"Good. Have a safe fly," she told him, before turning around and walking off triumphantly, leaving Tommy standing alone, staring after her. How had she so neatly snatched the right to turn his back on her away from him and then do so herself? He smiled a bit, knowing she was probably grinning happily as she marched away, her shoes still making quiet noises on the carpeting.
He shoved the scrap of paper deep into his pocket along with the endless pile of coffee receipts and turned toward his own gate. The arrival and departure board showed that his flight was still planning to leave at the same time it had before he'd gotten the coffee. His eyes quickly searched for Kimberly's flight to L.A. Part of him was disappointed that he couldn't use the excuse of another delay to go and talk to her some more; and yet part of him was relieved. He now knew what it would be like to meet Kimberly again.
He'd loved her more than anything when they were teenagers. He'd have happily died protecting her from whatever evil it was that threatened the world. Part of him had even re-dawned the uniform only four years before in order to protect not only the world, but Kimberly. His thoughts had always found their way back to her when he had nothing else to keep his mind busy. But now he knew.
He sat down in a chair at the gate, far enough that he didn't appear too eager to leave, and close enough that he could still hear when he was called to board. He closed his eyes and listened to the music that played from the speakers quietly above the soft chatter that filled the terminal. It was at that moment in time that he knew what it truly meant for something to be over. He knew that lightning never strikes twice.
Spend all your time waiting
For that second chance
For a break that would make it okay
There's always one reason
To feel not good enough
And it's hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
Oh beautiful release
Memory seeps from my veins
Let me be empty
And weightless and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight
Not my usual stuff, but I does hold true to one thing I like: lots of emotion. Hope you all liked, but even if you didn't. Oh well. I satisfied my plot bunny.