A/N: Tommy's ready. For reals. So he's going to let you in a little. ;]
THANKS: to you.
Gabbs: Thank you for your review. I'm surprised you got that far into the story with that attitude. I couldn't agree more. As for the reviews, I think they're based on my winning personality more than the story being great. But what do I know? ;]
Guest: Here's your more!
Disclaimer: A/N at the bottom. Don't own Vancouver or Pearson International.
R&R or R&L please.
She laid her head down on her pillow, listening to the song fade. Her eyes began to water, but she didn't stop the tears. She pressed repeat and again, the sound of a piano filled her room.
She closed her eyes and tightened her grip on her blanket. Her breathing steadied and Tommy's voice carried her into sleep.
Don't Stand So Close To Me
"A Trip Around The World"
The waiting. It was killing her slowly. She just didn't have the patience for such a simple task.
Not when she knew what was waiting for her on the other end of the walkway.
Or who rather.
She'd barely been asleep for three hours when her phone beeped. She had been so pissed, but seeing the name on the text stopped her breath in her throat.
She'd opened it immediately and poured over the words. Then she checked her e-mail. Waiting patiently, more than she felt now, was a boarding pass. To Vancouver. A place she'd never been and never thought to go.
She glanced down once more at the paper in her hand, the creases worn into it like it had lived a long life. Anxiousness built in her stomach, causing her to bounce on the balls of her feet. She wanted to know why he'd asked her to come. Why now? When all she really wanted to do was run back the other way. She glanced at the backs of people's heads, trying to pass the time as First Class boarded the plane.
"Fuck my life, why is this taking so long?" Jude rolled her eyes and clenched her jaw.
A head of brunette ringlets popped up from the shoulder of the woman in front of her and it was as if time had stopped. Jude could see it happening even before the little girl opened her mouth. Jude openly cringed.
"Fuck my life, mommy! Why is this taking so long?"
Jude bit back a laugh as the little girl smiled at her. She was missing a front tooth and with her blue eyes, Jude couldn't think of one thing she'd ever seen that was as cute. Other than someone else with blue eyes just as bright. Although she was sure he had all his teeth.
The mother turned around, a glare painting her face. Jude couldn't mutter an apology fast enough as the little girl continued to say "Fuck my life" repeatedly. The mother's glare turned embarrassed and she placed a hand over the little girl's mouth, hoping to silence her. But it didn't work.
The brunette took her mother's hand off her mouth and continued to spout the obscenity. After a few stares from other passengers, the mother got out of line and walked to the back.
Jude felt her face flush. She hadn't been that embarrassed in a very long time. But she didn't have much time to process the embarrassment as a flight attendant called out to her.
She was next.
After getting her ticket scanned, she followed suit behind the other patrons and boarded the plane. Then she remembered the reason why she was getting on a plane in the first place.
And it was as if just thinking his name had conjured him out of thin air. Sitting three rows back in First Class was a fully rested, calm Tom Quincy. Completely unlike what she felt at the moment.
She stopped in front of him and it took him a few seconds to register her presence. He lifted his head from its downward position as he was looking over his iPod. A beat passed. Then a wide smile, displaying a full mouth of pearly whites, Jude observed, filled his face.
Jude felt her chest clench and before she could say a word, he had gotten out of his seat and engulfed her into a bear hug. "You came," he whispered into her hair.
The thought alone that he had been waiting for her caused a smile to form on her face. This was what she hadn't known she had been hoping for.
The brunette curls bounced again. He snorted. She slapped his arm. How he was still laughing was beyond her. She had told him about her mishap in line 30 minutes ago, only for him to respond with "Is that the little girl up there?"
Her eyes had locked on a seat, two rows up. Her checks bloomed pink and she confirmed it was. The little girl, in turn, began bouncing up and down on her chair, peeking her eyes over the back of her seat.
He glanced at her, laughter still stuck in his throat. "Fuck My Life?"
Hearing him say it out loud caused her to smile. "Okay, so it was not the smartest thing to say in front of a child, but I – "
"You were nervous. I get it."
She studied him for a beat. "Do you? Cause a part of me thinks you have no clue as to how big this actually is. I've waited forever for you to open up and then you ask me to leave with you?"
A smile painted his face. "I have a thing for whisking you away on your birthday, don't I?"
"I'm being serious, Tommy," she said with a pointed look.
"Okay, serious Tommy," he said. She rolled her eyes. He cleared his throat. He didn't really want to get into this on the plane…especially when they hadn't even taken off yet. But did he think they were just going to ignore each other until they touched down in Vancouver? Right. "I don't actually know how hard this is for you. I've never had to open up. It was too hard. But I meant what I said. You asked for the truth…for me to let you in. I – I couldn't do that before, but I'm ready now."
She stared at him, a million thoughts running through her mind. She had been waiting forever for him to say those words. I'm ready now. It was one thing for him to say it on a piece of paper…in a text. But now it was out in the open…out of his mouth. "Why now? Why Vancouver?"
He sighed. "Why now?" She didn't say anything, waiting for him to continue. "I went to rehab."
A confused look painted her face. Rehab? Kwest never mentioned rehab. Was that what it was the whole time? "For what? And why do you think it worked this time and not before?"
It was Tommy's turn to look confused. He'd barely started his explanation and she was already throwing things in his face that he had no idea she knew. "Wait, before? How do you know about – "
Jude cleared her throat. She shouldn't feel guilty, but it was there. "Kwest told me you'd left before – that this wasn't the first time. He wanted to know if I'd forgotten about Angie, which I took to mean that you'd gone somewhere for her, like you did…for me." Jude wanted to roll her eyes. Is that really what she thought? That this was like what he had done for Angie? Whatever it was he'd done. Maybe.
"What else do you know?" he said through clenched teeth. He didn't want to be angry, but he was in a way. He thought he had control over the whole situation, but that was far from the truth. Maybe this was a test. To prove just how much he had changed. He had to be completely honest with her. This was the only way it would work.
"Only what Kwest told me. That he set everything up and he knew you'd leave. It was your MO. And that you'd always come back," she said, folding her arms over chest. Shit. She really wanted a drink. This was only going to get harder.
"I've been to rehab a few times. Six – seven times since I've known Angie. I don't have an alcohol or drug problem. It's – it's never been that. It's – "
She had been watching his face closely. The way his eyes closed off, the tension in his jaw. She wanted to run her hands over his face to smooth out all the harsh lines. But she felt his hand move. They clenched into fists, his fingers bent at such a tight angle she though he was going to break them if he added any more pressure. The skin over his knuckles turned white and she couldn't take it anymore. She placed her hands over his and squeezed. His eyes flitted towards her and she swallowed hard.
He wasn't looking at her – he was looking through her.
"Tommy," she whispered. She squeezed his hand one more time.
He closed his eyes and unclenched his fist, causing her hands to fall. He reached for her face. She froze, unsure what to do. He wasn't hers anymore. His hands landed on the sides of her face, his thumbs brushing over her cheeks. Then he opened his eyes.
He was back. Her Tommy.
He rested his forehead against her and she reached up to his hands, landing on his wrists. "Please don't make me do this now. I will tell you everything when we land, but not here. Please not here," he whispered, his voice cracking with a pain she had never heard before.
She couldn't say anything. Her voice was caught in her throat. Instead, she nodded. A few seconds passed and she said, "I can wait." Tommy smiled, rough laughter pouring out of his lips. "I can be patient when I want to be!" she said, punching him in the arm.
"I'm sure," he said, closing his eyes and leaning back in his chair.
As he took long, deep breaths, the stress of their conversation faded from his face. She kept his left hand in hers, the pads of her guitar-calloused thumbs rubbing the skin above his wrist. They stayed like that through take-off and the first hour of their flight…until Jude had to use the restroom. She tried to let go of his hand, resting it on his thigh when he opened one of his eyes.
"I'm just using the bathroom. I'll be back," she whispered. He nodded and let go of her hand.
It was a while later when she finally settled back into her aisle seat – the one Tommy gave her because he'd thought she would need to use the restroom often. Men. Tommy glanced at her expectantly, but she only smiled. She was not about to admit that she'd practically puked out all of the coffee she had consumed that morning because she was so nervous about their trip. She'd spent a number of minutes convincing herself that she had only come for answers. It wasn't until a woman's face flashed before her eyes that she realized she was wrong. Samantha's visage haunted her all the way back to her seat. Tommy took off his earphones and turned toward her in his seat. A silence filled their small bubble and Jude's nervousness grew tenfold.
"Jude – "
"I – "
A sheepish smile formed on Tom's face and he let her speak first.
"I don't have anything to say. It was just too quiet."
Tom laughed. "This is going to take some getting used to, right?"
Jude nodded, biting her bottom lip. "But not if people have changed, right?" She winked.
Tom smiled. "Right."
She closed her eyes for a beat and then said, "I actually do have a question to ask you."
"So much for your patience," he muttered, his smile widening.
She ignored his remark and instead said, "It's about Samantha."
His smile faded. "What do you want to know?"
Jude clenched her jaw and folded her arms across her chest. "I was joking," he said, pulling her arms away from her body and resting them on the sides of her chair. "I will tell you everything." She cocked an eyebrow. "After I get myself a drink."
A blonde attendant stopped at their row and took their drinks orders; Jude's a mimosa, Tom's a Bloody Mary. It was still morning, after all. Jude proudly showed off her ID when the attendant carded her. But when she made a reference to her youthful appearance, Tommy nearly choked on his own breath. Jude did not look 15! The attendant left and the laughter Jude had been holding back came pouring out of her lips. Tommy shuddered, shaking his head.
"Don't even start," he said.
"I'm not going to say anything," Jude said with a smile.
They wait for the attendant to come back before speaking again. Jude took a sip of her drink and smiled. "Awesome." Tommy shook his head, smiling. "So Samantha."
"She thinks this is a work trip – which it could end up being if you want."
Jude bit her bottom lip. "Does she know about us?"
"What did you tell her?"
"That you're my artist and I'm your producer."
"And she believed you?"
"She's very trusting. She's simple. She doesn't ask anything of me."
Jude scoffed. "Sounds like the perfect woman."
"You are the perfect woman."
Jude rolled her eyes. "Flattery isn't going to get you anywhere, Quincy."
"I said it because it's the truth, Jude. She and I aren't right for each other. I knew that going in."
"But you did it anyway."
"She was there when no one else was. I met her in rehab."
"Oh, my god. You have no shame!" Jude said.
"She was my teacher." Jude broke out in laughter. He ignored her and continued. "We were told that we had to do some kind of extracurricular activity and Art was the only thing left. So I went to her class and did some sketch. Hated every second of it. She, of course, complimented me every step of the way."
"Is your ego going to fit in that seat much longer?" Jude said, smiling.
"Ha ha ha. We got to talking and I told her I probably wouldn't be coming back to her class. She seemed fine with it. I ended up finding the music room next door and that started around routine. She covered for me and I got to write and play. It was therapeutic. I played her Glory of Love."
Jude's jaw clenched. "I'm sorry," he said, taking her hand in his. "I just couldn't stop thinking about you and that song kept playing in my head."
"What did you tell her it was about?"
"I didn't. I said it was something I just thought of."
Jude nodded her head. She understood the practice of keeping their relationship under wraps. It was all they had done the entire time they had been together. "Continue."
"I kept writing and she kept her class. Then the class was over and she was no longer needed. But she found a reason to keep coming by. One day about four months into rehab I was told I had a visitor. I thought it was you. Then I remembered you had no idea where I was, so I thought it was Kwest. I got to the waiting room and there she was. She said she thought there was a connection between us and she wanted to see where it went. So I let her."
"Does she know about Angie?"
"Even less than you do. I didn't tell her about the abortion. Just that we were together and she cheated on. I think she might hate her more than I do." Jude smiled. "When she realized I could leave whenever I want, she asked me out. We went to the movies and concerts. It was a nice balance to all the craziness in rehab.
"Shortly after her birthday, Kwest came to visit me. He told me that Georgia was willing to offer me my job back at G-Major when I was ready. I told him I was."
"Your job back?"
"It's a longer story that we can talk about later, but I worked at G-Major before I became a teacher."
"Makes sense, I guess," she said. "You look at home there."
Tommy nodded. "I waited a bit longer before leaving. I wanted to make sure my ducks were all in a row. Then it came to telling Sam. She was not thrilled, but she understood."
"Like the perfect woman," Jude said, smirking.
"Right. The night I was ready to leave, she showed up. With her bags and a ticket to New York."
Jude covered her face with her hands, her body shaking with laughter. "How cute," she said, sitting up when the laughter stopped.
Tommy gave her a pointed look. "We'd been in New York about a week when I saw you for the first time. And that's the whole story."
Jude nodded. "Okay."
"I distinctly remember you telling me about a guy you hooked up with get over me. I want to know all about…Matt? Mick? Whatever his – "
Jude rolled her eyes. "It was Mike. And we can do it later," she said, smiling.
Tommy opened his mouth, ready to retort when the announcement was made that they had made it to Vancouver and their descent onto the runway was to begin.
"Saved by the bell."
Once the plane landed, the rush to get off began. Tommy pulled his carry-on out from under his seat and they got out of their chairs. He grabbed her hand and they waited in line with the rest of the plane.
As they passed the first row of First Class, the little brunette girl from earlier in the morning stared at them. Tommy raised his free hand and waved to the little girl. Her eyes lit up and Jude's heart clenched.
She was just one more reminder that there was more to learn about Tommy if Jude wanted a future with him.
Don't Stand So Close To Me
"Laying It All Out"
Teasers will be posted. Check my profile for them. :]