Vignette 6 – Mended

Tommy searched for her after the fight, finding her sitting on one of the benches in the park with her journal. She smiled as he approached, closing the notebook and sliding over to offer him a seat. "Hey."

"Hey," he settled himself next to her, leaning forward to brace his forearms on his knees. "How're you doing?"

"Oh, I'm good. I hear you guys have saved the shelter with that money you won."

"Yeah. It's really great, huh?" He paused. "Kim?"

She cocked her head at him with a half-smile. "Something on your mind, Tommy?"

"Something," his agreement was vague. "How've you been?"

"Since coming out of my spell daze or in general?"

"In general." He didn't look at her. "Are you happy, Kim?"

She cocked her head. "Define happy, Tommy."

He smiled faintly. "Do you like where you are and who you're with?"

"I've always enjoyed the Angel Grove Park - and your company is never boring."

"I mean back in Florida."

"Oh." She straightened. "Well, I'm enjoying the challenges that coach gives me. I live on my own – but Jason's just down the hall."

"Jason." Tommy quirked a small smile. "I guess he must be your new guy then."

"Jason?" She cocked her head at him. "Tommy, I'm not dating Jason – I'm not dating anyone right now."

"I guess things fell through for you then." He lifted his head to look at her. "What happened to the guy from your letter?"

"He wasn't as wonderful as I thought he was." She shrugged, smiling faintly. "Tommy, why'd you come looking for me? Kat's back with the gang celebrating – you should be with her, not me."

"I can be with her, Kim, but not with her." He looked away. "But you're right – I shouldn't be here. Despite that, I'm here."

"Then why'd you come find me, Tommy?"

His lips twitched humorlessly. "I've never been able to stay away from you, Kim – you know that. I just wanted to talk to you. I wanted to know that things were going well and that you were happy with your choices."

"No one is ever happy with all of their choices and neither am I, but I'm content. I'm following my dream. How many teenagers can say that?"

Tommy weaved his fingers together, squeezing them. "Not many. I'm glad you feel you made the right decision in going to Florida. I know you would have eventually regretted staying here if you had."

Her hand slid onto his shoulder, squeezing until he looked up at her. Her expression was soft, her eyes shadowed by memories. "You didn't come find me to talk, Tommy Oliver. Why'd you come after me?"

"I miss you, Kim." He looked away, back to his hands. "Things aren't the same without you."

"I'm not here to stay, Tommy."

"I know." He squeezed his fingers together until his knuckles began turning white. "I wouldn't ask you to – I know how much your dream means to you." He took a deep breath. "That doesn't change the fact that I miss you. I miss talking to you on the phone, trading letters and your trips home. I miss knowing how things are with you – I don't like being cut out of your life."

She squeezed his shoulder and then dropped her hand. "That was your choice, Tommy."

"And one I regret." He lifted his head again. "I meant what I said when you left, Kim; I didn't want to lose you – and I feel I have - in every way."

Kimberly slid forward, wrapping her arms around his neck and leaning her forehead against the side of his head. His hands shifted, unlocking and coming up to wrap loosely about her arm. "I meant what I said to you before I left too, you know. No matter what happens, I will always be here for you. In whatever capacity you want me."

"Except the one we had." He bowed his head for a moment and then shifted, sliding his arms around her waist and drawing her into a hug.

She returned it, sitting with him for long minutes like that. When she pulled back she managed a weak smile. "Maybe someday, Tommy – when we're both in the same place again. Until then, let's just be friends, alright?"

"Friends." He smiled, but the pain in his eyes had eased. Friendship was a start.

fin