What Hurts the Most
Last updated- 4/3/08
A/N- Okay all, here it is, just many, many, many pages later and FINALLY, I got it finished! I absolutely loved writing this piece! It was also my first time writing for said couple. I want to dedicate this story to three people. Pink and Enigmaforum, both of you are absolutely amazing and I love ya both dearly! To Destiny45- I finally did it! I loved doing this for you, and I loved working with you and trying to decide how we should do this. Love ya, girlie!
You might have seen the vid on youtube for TJ/Cassie, done by Destiny45. If you haven't, there's a link to it on her profile, go check it out! It's what brought about this wonderful idea!
T.J.'s point of view
A groan escaped from his lips as the phone rang. He picked the cell phone up, ready to curse the person who was calling him at such an ungodly time, before glancing at the caller ID. A smile drifted onto his lips as he flipped the phone open and held it up to his ear.
"Hey. How are you?"
He attempted to stifle a yawn and failed. "I was kind of sleeping before you called. I was resting up for a game tomorrow."
"Oh god, TJ. I didn't even think about what time it was there. I'm so sorry," came Cassie's reply.
"It's fine. We haven't talked in awhile anyhow. How are you?"
"Honestly? Completely exhausted. I can't wait till I can come home and relax in your arms. I've missed you so much."
"I know, I've missed you too. When's the next time that you get a break from the tour?" T.J. asked.
"In a couple of weeks, I think. Why, what's up?"
"Well, I was kind of hoping that I could cook something for us for dinner, maybe rent a movie your first night back."
Cassie looked at her schedule and grinned happily. "Nope, I'm good. How does the second night that I'm back sound to you? I kinda just want to get to get back into the swing of things, ya know?"
"Yeah, I know how you feel. So Saturday night, my place, around six thirty or so?"
"Count on it. I'll talk to you later, Teej. Love you," Cassie told him as she penned the event onto her calendar.
"Love you, too. I'll give you a call later," he yawned as she spoke her affirmative and said goodbye. He voiced a goodbye back to her before snapping the phone shut, and with a smile, closed his eyes happily and drifted off to slumber.
"What do you mean, you can't make it?" T.J. asked tersely, having a hard time keeping his anger in check.
"I mean, I can't make it. My manager scheduled me to make an appearance at a music store in this city called Briarwood, about an hour and a half from Angel Grove. I'm so sorry, T.J. I'm pissed off that he would go and schedule that without talking to me, but I can't not go, now that it seems like I've made a commitment. You know?"
He sighed deeply and nodded, even though she couldn't see him. He understood about commitments, as did she. They both understood what it meant to have a commitment and to stick by it. Being Power Rangers had taught them plenty about that. "I know. I'm sorry for getting mad."
"It's okay, I'm a little mad myself. Listen, let me call you back once I've looked over my schedule and tried to sort this all out, okay?"
"Yeah, no problem. Talk to you later?"
"Yeah, I'll call you then," she replied.
Cassie's point of view
"Please tell me that you're just calling me to tell me that you're running late," Cassie joked half seriously.
T.J. sighed. "I wish I could. It seems that the coach and the team manager set up a charity game for us tonight, and everyone's required to be there, no matter what. You know that I'd be there if I could be. I've been looking forward to this for a long time, getting to see you again," he swore.
It was Cassie's turn to sigh as her head dropped to her chest. Tonight hadn't been the first time that they'd had to break off a date. Since she had come back to Angel Grove, it seemed that every time that they were supposed to meet, it never worked out. Either she was in the studio or making an appearance when he was free, and he had to practice or go to a game when she was free. Although Cassie loved him deeply, she also knew that she couldn't take it any longer. While she didn't want to break up with him, she knew it was the only thing that she could do right then. She hoped, deep down, that T.J. would be able to forgive her someday.
"I-I know, and I have been too, I'm just not so sure that I can keep doing this."
"Keep doing what? Keep seeing each other?" T.J. asked with confusion in his tone.
"Yeah. That and the whole not seeing each other part too. T.J., I love you so much, but I can't keep doing this. Our careers are taking us both in different directions, and we have no time for us."
"So, that's it? You're breaking up with me?"
"You honestly think that I want to break up with you? It's killing me to do this, especially over the phone, which I wouldn't normally do. I will always love you, T.J., and all I can do is hope that you'll be able to forgive me someday," Cassie told him in a wavering voice before ending the call. Her knees gave out from underneath her as the tears began to fall from her dark eyes. She wasn't sure how long she cried for, but she was still crying when Ashley walked in, using the key that Cassie had given her. In a second, Ashley was on her knees with Cassie in her arms, asking the still sobbing girl what was wrong. The only words that Ashley managed to discern were T.J. and break up before knowing what was going on: her two best friends had just broken up, and unfortunately, because of both T.J.'s and Cassie's hectic schedules, Ashley had seen it coming. Ashley quickly called Andros and let him know what was going on, describing what had happened briefly. Her husband fully agreed with her when she said that she should stay with Cassie until her friend was better. "I just hope she'll be fine, Andros," Ashley said into the phone.
"She will be, eventually. If she and T.J. are meant to be together, then it will happen. There's nothing that we can do," Cassie heard Andros' response and began to cry even more. She had never thought that it was going to hurt this bad, and had she known, she might have rethought her decision that would separate them for years.
Ten Years Later
T.J. took a deep breath and put his hands on the steering wheel, trying to reign in his emotions. It had been ten years since the last time that he'd seen her, and he knew that if he didn't get some control over himself and he went into the house and saw her with someone that wasn't him, he knew that he'd lose it entirely. He took another deep breath before getting out of his red convertible and hitting the button to lock it before walking up the front walk to the door. It was a modest two-story home, decorated in greens and blues with a porch swing hanging by the door. He tentatively raised his hand to the doorbell before pushing it, the chime echoing through the see-through paned door.
"I got it!" came a deep voice on the other side of the door. A second later and a figure in blue jeans, a black t-shirt, and white tennis shoes opened the door. "T.J.! You came!"
"Hey, Tommy! You know I wouldn't miss this for anything in the world," T.J. grinned widely as they greeted each other. "So, where is everyone? It's way too quiet in here."
"They're all out back. Kinda figured it'd be easier to clean up later and it was a big enough space," Tommy grinned back as he led the way into the spacious backyard. They walked past the pool to get to the rest of the backyard where a stage with music equipment had been set up, along with picnic blankets, tables, chairs, and an enormous amount of food and drinks were, along with every other living Ranger.
"T.J.!" Ashley exclaimed as she jumped out of her seat and ran toward him, wrapping her arms around his neck somewhat awkwardly, her growing stomach getting in the way. "How've you been?"
"Not too bad. How are things going with you and Andros?" he asked.
"They're great. Actually, you'll be an uncle soon; I'm pregnant as you can see," Ashley told him with a wide grin as Andros came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her.
The pain of seeing them together shot through T.J. as he remembered what it had been like so many years before to be with Cassie. He shook his head to clear it of the thoughts that were running rampantly. "Congratulations! Do you know what it is yet?"
Ashley shook her head. "No, not yet. We're thinking about just letting it be a surprise."
Before T.J. could respond, Carlos walked over. "Hey, man! Didn't know if you were gonna show."
"Like I'd miss this!" T.J. chuckled as they greeted each other.
"Come on, let me introduce you to some of the other teams," Carlos suggested, getting a nod from T.J. When both were out of earshot, Andros turned to Ashley.
"Is she coming?"
"She didn't say for sure, but she had better, or I'll kick her butt," Ashley replied calmly with just a hint of anger in her tone.
After a few minutes of hanging out with some of the other Reds that he'd gone to the moon with, he managed to get away long enough to get some food. He returned to the picnic table and sat down across from Carlos. The two talked cordially, not having seen each other for a few years, the last time being Ashley and Andros' wedding.
"So it sounds like baseball's going great for you," Carlos said.
"Yeah, it's been great. We're in an off season right now, but it's supposed to pick up soon. I'm glad to have the break though. It gets way too hectic."
"I hear you on that, man. Doing soccer isn't much better, but like everything, you just roll with the punches, right?"
"Yeah," TJ replied.
Carlos' attention shifted from TJ to the figure coming up behind his friend. "No way. What are you doing here?"
"Spring break, thought I'd come home for a bit from college," the voice answered, making TJ turn around in shock, recognizing who it was immediately.
The young man in question grinned widely as he walked up to his friends, giving them both awkward, one-armed hugs and greeting them. "Man, is it good to see you guys."
"Great to see you too, but I thought that you weren't on break till next week," Carlos emphasized.
"Long story on that one, you don't want to know," Justin replied. "So what have you both been up to? How've things been?"
"Things have been good. I'm off on a break from baseball for awhile until they call me back," TJ replied with a wide grin, happy to see Justin, who he hadn't seen in years.
"That's awesome. How are things going between you and Cassie? The last I heard, you and she were dating," Justin queried with a mischievous grin.
The grin instantly disappeared from the former Red and Blue Ranger's face as his head swam with thoughts of his former love. Carlos' head snapped up at the mention of her name, making him look at Justin and shake his head.
"Hey Justin, why don't we go get you something to eat?" Carlos suggested, wanting to talk to Justin and tell him what had happened instead of TJ having to do it.
"Thanks anyway, but I'll tell him," TJ sighed. "Cassie and I….we, uh, we broke up a long while back over an issue," TJ responded tightly, his voice choked with emotion.
Immediately, Justin looked ashamed. "Oh, wow. I mean…that's just…..whoa. I'm sorry, Teej."
"Nah, it's okay. I'll survive," TJ replied with a tiny smile.
Justin smiled comfortingly as he clapped his friend on the shoulder. "Hey, I'm gonna go and grab some food, meet some of the other teams here. Catch up with you guys later?"
"You got it!" TJ confirmed as Justin began to walk off. Carlos warily looked at his friend and realized that he needed to start talking about something to take his friend's mind off of what had just happened and fast.
Though Carlos was keeping up a constant stream of talking, TJ's head wasn't in the conversation. He sighed as he looked off to the side at nothing in particular. Carlos followed his friend's line of vision until he realized that TJ was just thinking about things.
"You in there, TJ?"
"What? Yea, I'm here. Just thinking," TJ replied as he snapped out of his self induced reverie.
"About Cassie, you mean?" Carlos retorted.
"No, I wasn't thinking about her," he replied defensively.
"Sure, you weren't. You forget that even if we haven't seen each other in a few years that we're still best friends and that we've kept in touch. You might be able to lie to some of the other people here, but you can't lie to me," Carlos said with a grin.
TJ's shoulders dropped as he inwardly admitted defeat. "Yeah, I was thinking about her. Just wishing that we were still together and that things hadn't gone bottom up like they did."
"You're still in love with her, then? You never got over her?"
TJ shook his head. "Believe me, I tried and I couldn't do it. Tried dating other girls too, and all I could think about was her and how it somehow felt like I was betraying her."
Carlos gave him a comforting smile. "You'll be fine, bro. It's normal. What do you say we get your mind off of her and go meet some of the newbies?"
"Yeah, that sounds like a good idea," TJ replied with a nod as he stood up. He followed Carlos over to a group of five people.
"Hey, guys. This is TJ, and TJ, this is the Ninja Storm team. That's Blake, Hunter, Cam, Tori, Shane, and Dustin," Carlos said as he pointed out each one of them and TJ was greeted with a "Hey" or "Hi" from each person. He also noted that Dustin wore yellow while Tori wore a bright blue.
"Next to Dustin is Chip, who was Yellow and is from the Mystic Force team out in Briarwood. That's his girlfriend, Clare. Vida and Xander, who I'm pretty sure are dating from the way they're looking at each other, are the Green and Pink Rangers of their team, while Nick, who was Red and Maddy who was Blue, are on their right and they're also together," Carlos relayed to a slightly confused TJ. "What's wrong, man?"
"I thought that guys were blue and girls were yellow," TJ replied.
Dustin, Chip, Tori, and Madison just shrugged their shoulders. "We kinda just learned to go with the colors we were given and not ask any questions. It was definitely easier that way," Madison replied, with Tori, Chip and Dustin nodding in agreement.
"I don't know if Tommy told you, but he ended up having his own team of Rangers," Carlos chuckled.
TJ chuckled at that. "Figures that he would. I'm guessing that that would be them over there?" TJ asked as he gestured toward a tree.
"Yeah. Connor's the one in Red, Kira's yellow, Ethan's the one in Blue, Trent was White, and Tommy decided to come out of retirement and go Black," Carlos replied.
TJ laughed when he heard that. "Man, is there any color that he hasn't been yet?"
"He hasn't hit Pink yet, thank God," Katherine teased as she came over. The two friends hugged warmly before glancing the other over. "You look great."
"Thanks. So do you. And I think that the image of Tommy as a Pink Ranger has officially scarred me for life," TJ laughed.
Kat giggled and shook her head. "It's good to see you here."
"Good to see you, too. I'll see you a little bit later?" TJ inquired.
"Yeah, definitely," the Australian responded as she headed over and sat down next to Jason before kissing him on the cheek.
"Any other teams I should know about?" TJ said resignedly.
"The last team to go into "retirement" would be Operation Overdrive," Tommy supplied as he came up next to them. "That's them over there," he said as he motioned to one of the picnic tables close to the small stage that had been set up. "Mack, their Red, and Rose, their Pink, I want to say that they're dating. Ronny, who was yellow and Will who was black, are definitely dating, which leaves Dax, their Blue, and Mira, who was one of their enemies," Tommy told him.
"Dax and Mira are dating and so are Mack and Rose," Kim supplied as she walked up, having overheard the conversation. She and TJ hugged as well, the two having met and knowing each other because of Tommy. "It's good to see you here."
"Yeah, it's great to see you, too," he replied, watching as she and Tommy shared a quick kiss. "I take it that you two finally got back together again?"
"Yeah, long story though. We finally got it right, didn't we, Beautiful?" Tommy asked with a happy smile as he held her in his arms.
"Yeah, we did. Maybe there's still hope for you and Cassie, then," she said hopefully to TJ.
"I honestly don't know. Things were really…" he trailed off, getting a weird feeling. He turned around, trying to pinpoint where it was coming from. When he turned toward the house, he realized what it was: she was there. His heart began to hammer wildly in his chest as he watched her enter the backyard. His breath caught in his throat as he saw that she was even more beautiful than the last time that they'd seen each other at Ashley's wedding. Her clothes were simple; a pair of jeans with some tennis shoes and a pink tank top, her hair up in a ponytail, but she had never looked better. He took a deep breath to calm himself down, not wanting to lose it in front of everyone. 'Just chill, TJ. Everything's going to be fine. You can both act like normal adults and be completely okay.'
Cassie walked into the backyard, taken aback at how many people were there. She and Ashley caught sight of each other and Cassie walked over to meet her. "Hey! How are you feeling?"
Ashley rubbed her swollen stomach and sighed. "I'm not doing too badly. Better than Taylor, that's for sure. She's killing Eric over there," Ashley giggled as both looked at the aforementioned couple who were sitting together. Eric looked tired and Taylor looked like she was ready to hurt him.
Cassie could only chuckle as she turned back to Ashley, intent on talking to her friend. She stopped in mid-turn, seeing a tall, dark skinned gentleman that she had previously dated many years before. Their eyes connected across the yard before both looked away. Cassie quickly spun around to face Ashley. "You did this on purpose, didn't you?" she accused.
"Did what? I have no idea what you're talking about," Ashley replied with a straight face.
"Oh yes, you do. You knew that TJ was going to show up, didn't you?"
"He never said for sure if he was coming or not, so when you asked, that's why I just told you no. Otherwise, if I had told you yes, you would have run for the hills. Now, I'm sure that you'll somehow survive without killing each other. Besides, you're still in love with him, aren't you?" Ashley asked very matter-of-factly.
"That's beside the point, and completely off topic!" Cassie sputtered.
"No, it isn't. Denial isn't just a river in Egypt, Cass," Ashley laughed.
"You're evil, you know that?" Cassie groaned.
"Yup, that's why you love me. Now that I have you both in the same area at one time, you two will get back together," Ashley nearly commanded.
"Whoa! Hey, back up there. No one ever said anything about TJ and me getting back together. For all I know, he's already moved on," Cassie replied, sounding slightly sad.
Ashley let out a frustrated groan. "You two are so stubborn and stupid it's not even funny! He hasn't moved on, Cassie. He might have tried to, but he hasn't been able to. I don't get why you won't just make up with him and get back together. Both of you are miserable," Ashley told her friend softly.
Before Cassie could deny what Ashley had said, Kim, Kat, Madison, Rose, Tanya, and Ronny come up. "Is everything okay?" Ronny asked.
"No, it isn't," Ashley replied quickly before Cassie could lie. "I need your help and maybe some of the other girls too." Ashley quickly explained the situation to them, telling them only the important parts and what they would need to know.
After she finished, all of them were quiet before they asked questions.
"Do you miss him?" Madison asked.
"Do you still love him?" Tanya inquired.
"Do you regret doing it?" Kim asked.
"Would you have done things differently?" Kat queried.
"Do you still think about him all the time?" Ronny asked.
"Do you ever wonder 'what if'?" Rose inquired.
Cassie sighed heavily. "Yes, I miss him, and I still love him. I regret that I did it every day, I would have made sure that we had done it face-to-face and not over the phone. I do think about him a lot, and yeah, I wonder what would have happened if we had stayed together," Cassie replied softly.
"So then what's wrong? You love him and you miss him," Madison simplified.
"I only wish that it was that easy, really. I don't know, I just need to think," Cassie told them before breaking away and getting some food.
Ronny and Rose made to go after her, but Kim stopped them. "No, let her go. I have an idea," she grinned as she motioned them all closer to her.
Once she reached the tables where the food was, Cassie breathed a sigh of relief. She grabbed a plate and began to put food on it, her thoughts centered on the conversation that she'd just been having with her friends. She shook her head to clear it before moving to a seat at a picnic table.
"Is this seat taken?" a voice spoke.
Cassie sighed and looked up before grinning widely. "Carlos!"
He grinned as she jumped up and they hugged briefly before she gestured to the seat across from her. "It's all yours."
He sat down across from her and smiled. "Great to see you here. You look good," he told her.
"Thanks. Same goes for you. How've you been?"
"Not too bad. I just told T.J. that soccer's in an off season, so I've been able to get a bit of a break," he replied, noting that she tensed when he mentioned his friend. "So, have you talked to T.J. since you got here?"
"Oh no, don't you start in on me, too," she moaned, holding her head in her hands.
Carlos chuckled and decided to drop his former pretenses. "Why haven't you talked to him yet, Cass? You know that you still love him and he loves you."
"Carlos, the last time he and I talked, it was probably one of the most uncomfortable ones I've ever had in my life, coming in second to my mom trying to tell me about the birds and the bees. The time before that that we talked was when I broke up with him over the phone, as much as I didn't want to. Any talk that we had would just end up being horribly and incredibly awkward, so I'm trying to avoid it at all costs," she explained.
"Looks like you won't be able to avoid it much longer because here he comes," Carlos said with a nod behind her. She turned around and there he was, headed toward them. Carlos' hand darted out and grabbed her own, making her groan. "Just go talk to him. It's not like you can run away now," he laughed.
"I am so killing you for this," she growled out before T.J. came up to the table.
"Hey, Carlos. Um, do you think I could talk to Cassie for a minute?" T.J. asked awkwardly.
"Sure. Take as much time as you need," Carlos replied, silently telling her to get up and go with T.J. She inwardly groaned but followed the man that she still loved, hoping to get this over with quickly.
"So uh, how are things going for you?" he asked when they were out earshot of Carlos.
"They're-they're good. I'm on a break right now, so I'm thinking about making another album with some of the other female Rangers that are musicians," she replied, confusion evident as she wondered why this wasn't awkward. "You?"
"Right now, we're in an off season, so I'm on break until they call us back for training," he replied before shifting. "Everything's cool with us, I just wanted you to know that."
Cassie sighed, knowing they were finally in awkward territory. "T.J., I want to apologize. That was horrible of me to do over the phone, and I should have done it a different way. I'm sorry," she told him softly.
He nodded before pulling her gently into a hug. She tensed for a few seconds before relaxing and hugging him back. Both reveled in the feel of the other, but a voice coming from the stage caused them to break apart.
"Hey guys, can I get your attention?" Tanya asked everyone, speaking into the mic, making everyone quiet down. "I hope you guys are having a great time. I just wanted to thank Tommy and Kim for setting this up so we could all meet each other. Anyhow, I talked to someone that was also a Yellow and a fellow musician, and I managed to get her to agree to play for us here today. I'm not sure what she's going to play, so give it up for Kira Ford!"
Cheers and hollers erupted as Kira walked onto the stage, thanking Tanya. "Hey, everyone. The song that I'm gonna play is one that, more likely than not, a lot of you are familiar with. I love the song "What Hurts the Most" by Rascal Flatts, so I decided to give it my own little twist. Hope you all like it," she said with a smile. "Go ahead, V," she told the former Pink Ranger. Vida nodded and hit a button to start a track before getting off the stage. Kira began to strum the opening of the song as most of the Rangers that had a significant other that was present began to dance.
T.J. and Cassie laughed awkwardly for a moment before he held a hand out to her. "Want to dance?"
She hesitated for a second before taking his hand. "Sure, why not?"
He spun her in a circle before pulling her close to him. To the surprise of both, it wasn't as awkward as they had thought it would be. Her arms went around his neck, her hands clasped together, while his hands were on her waist. The pair danced quietly together as they listened to Kira sing.
What hurts the most
Is being so close
And having so much to say
And watching you walk away
And never knowing
What could have been
And not seeing that loving you
Is what I was trying to do
The words struck TJ as he realized how true they were. He sighed as he held her closely, savoring it for as long as he could. "Hey, TJ?"
"Do you ever….ever think about what it would be like between us if we were still together?" Cassie asked tentatively as she rested her head on his chest.
He exhaled before nodding. "Yeah, I do. All the time."
"Where do you think we'd be if we were together?"
He chuckled lightly. "We'd probably be married, have had a few kids of our own, settled down, the whole works."
She sniffled and let out a shaky breath. "I'm sorry."
"For being an idiot and hurting you. For ever even letting you go in the first place," she murmured.
"It's okay. It's better that you did. It saved us both from getting hurt even more down the road," he replied with a twinge of regret in his tone.
When Cassie raised her head slightly to look up at him, her mouth was so close to his she could feel his breath on her lips. She licked her lips and even though she was telling herself not to, her head seemed to move of its own accord, closer and closer to his until their lips met in a soft kiss. His own lips softly caressed hers, feeling like silk. When the need for air became apparent, he pulled away so they could both catch their breath, her forehead resting against his.
She shook her head sharply, practically knowing what he was about to say. "No. I'm sorry, but I can't do this again. I love you too much to hurt you like I did."
Tears fell from her eyes as she pulled away from him, her bottom lip trembling. Their eyes connected again before she turned around and ran, leaving him standing alone amongst the other couples and his heart feeling like she'd broken it all over again.
"Cassie, you have to talk to him," Ashley persisted.
"I can't! Things between us before were already insanely awkward, and now they'd be even worse. No, I can't and I won't. Besides, my plane leaves tomorrow to take me to New York. Even if I talked to him, he'd want to see me again, and that would lead to….I just can't."
Kim's hands went to her hips. "Have you completely lost your mind?"
"Then what the hell are you doing? Because the last time I checked, you were still very much in love with him and him with you."
Cassie sighed and shook her head. "It's not that I don't love him, you guys. It's just that I can't stand to hurt him again, not like I did last time."
"Don't you think that you might have hurt him by leaving him standing there like you did?" Ronny asked.
"And it hurt for me to just leave him standing there! You have no idea as to how much I just wanted to stay right there, in his arms, letting him hold me, but I wasn't going to give him any false hope," Cassie replied.
"I just can't believe that you're not going to even give it another shot, Cass. I mean, you guys weren't together that long before you broke up. Both of you are older, more mature, and your careers are a lot calmer than they were," Tanya rationalized.
"I know. I just have to think about it, that's all," she replied, making them all nod.
While they all continued to talk, Ashley crept away from the group and used the phone. She quickly gave the person on the other end instructions to just listen to her and what to do before she hung up and went back to the group.
"Well, I should be going. I've got to catch up on some sleep before I leave tomorrow," Cassie apologized.
"No, it's okay. Listen, there's a surprise waiting for you back at your hotel, okay?" Ashley informed her as they hugged.
"A surprise, huh? What kind of surprise?"
"That kinda defeats the whole purpose of it being one if she tells you," Rose replied, making Cassie roll her eyes and hug some of the other girls in the room.
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Listen, keep in touch, all of you. And thanks for the talk earlier. It meant a lot," Cassie told them honestly.
"Happy to do it any time," Kim responded.
Cassie grinned and bade them goodbyes as she walked out to her car. Tommy came up behind Kim to wrap his arms around her middle, having overheard the last part of their conversation. "All right, what are all of you up to?"
"Nothing. Just a little surprise for Cassie when she gets back to her hotel," Kim replied with a grin to the others before kissing Tommy gently.
Cassie was headed to her hotel when she noticed the sky growing dark. "Great, it's going to rain," she sighed out. She had always hated driving in the rain, which made her drive a bit faster, hoping to get to her destination before it started.
Several minutes later, she pulled into the hotel and parked, jumping when a loud crack of thunder startled her. She hit the lock on her car keys and looked up to see someone standing there.
"What are you doing here?"
"Ashley called me, told me that I was, and these are her words, "in no uncertain terms are you going to not listen." She told me that I was to stop whatever I was doing, get my ass over here, and talk things out with you," TJ replied.
"We already talked about this. It can't happen," she retorted.
"Oh really? I seem to remember you telling me that it couldn't before walking away from me and actually talking about it," he told her coolly.
She had the decency to look ashamed as she bowed her head. Before she could say anything back to him, rain began falling to the ground, getting them both wet. She groaned before trying to walk past him, only to be stopped by his hand on her arm. "TJ, what are you doing?"
"Do you love me?"
"What?" she gasped out with wide eyes.
"I said, do you love me? Still, that is?" he repeated.
"This isn't the time for that. We need to get inside before we catch colds," she yelled over the thunder.
"Look me in the eye and tell me you don't, that you felt nothing when I kissed you. Give me one, damn good reason as to why we can't be together now, and I'll walk away," he told her.
Cassie opened her mouth, all of the reasons at the ready, and no sound came out. She made a small noise, hoping that her mouth would work, but to no avail. Before she knew it, he had pulled her close and his mouth was on her own. She gasped in shock before her hands went to the back of his head to hold him to her. After several moments of kisses that left her head swimming, she gently pushed back from him.
"Come on, come inside and we'll talk."
He nodded and took her hand in his own, following her as she lead him to her room. Once they were inside, she quickly retrieved a towel and handed one to him so he could dry off. "If you want, you can stay here. There's another bed," she told him, nodding toward it.
"I wouldn't be offering it if I wasn't, TJ."
He bit his lip reluctantly before nodding. "All right. I'll be right back then. I'm just gonna grab a bag that I keep in case of emergencies," he told her.
"Okay," she replied, watching him as he left her alone to think. She breathed in deeply, trying to get the butterflies in her stomach to go away. 'Would you stop already, Cassie? It's nothing. You two are just sharing a room, not a bed, even if you've already done the second one already. Nothing's going to happen, nothing will happen." She repeated that over and over to herself as she changed into a simple pair of shorts and a tank top, so lost so much in thought that she jumped when she heard a knock on her door.
She quickly opened it to find TJ standing there with a bag in hand and looking even wetter than before. "Come on in. The bathroom's that way."
"Thanks. I mean it."
"Don't mention it. We're friends, right?"
He nodded and slipped into the bathroom. He re-emerged a few moments later, wearing a pair of grey sweatpants. Cassie's eyes fell to his chest, as though calling to her. A blush appeared on her cheeks and she quickly looked away, making TJ realize what was wrong.
"Here, let me put a shirt on."
"It's okay, you don't have to do that," she insisted.
"Cassie, I'll be fine. I don't want to impose on you or make you feel uncomfortable, okay?" he said softly as he pulled on a blue t-shirt.
She nodded in response before sitting down on the couch, drawing her knees up and putting her arms around them. He sat down next to her, the silence so filled with tension that it could have been cut with a knife.
"I need to tell you something," Cassie started. "And I need you to not say anything until I'm done, okay?"
She took a deep breath and exhaled. "I've missed you a lot over the years."
"I've missed you too," he replied to get a glare from her. "Sorry, go on."
"I've missed you a lot over the years, and I do wonder what things would have been like if we were still together now. Things would be a lot different between us than they are now. I'm sorry for breaking up with you the way I did; it wasn't right and it wasn't fair to you, so I do regret it," she told him, pausing to take a breath before continuing. "You asked me earlier if I still loved you. As much as I tried to move on and get over you, I couldn't and it was driving me crazy. God forbid I visit with Andros and Ashley, because it just hurt too much to see them together and think about us. I guess what I'm saying is that my answer is yes. Yes, I do still love you, TJ. I did before and I still do now."
His eyes widened slightly at her confession before he smiled. "You guess? You're not sure?"
She playfully smacked his arm. "You know what I mean when I say that."
He grinned and nodded. "Yeah, I do. I never got over you either, for that matter, so I kinda still love you."
She grinned. "Touché. So you still love me and I still love you, but what does that mean for us?"
He pulled her close to rest on his chest. "Well, if you want to give us being together another shot, I was thinking that we could take it slow. I know that I'm still on vacation for awhile, but Ashley told me that you were catching a plane tomorrow out of here," he said sadly.
She knowingly smirked at him. "Actually, I'm not anymore."
"What do you mean? You don't have to go into the studio, no appearances for a show?"
"Nope. I was planning on leaving, just to get as much distance between me and this guy that I know as possible."
"Oh, really?" he replied as he played along, quirking an eyebrow.
"Mmmhmm. Until said guy caught up with me, making me realize something."
"Oh? And what was that?"
"That we were both older and more mature, and that we could try to work things out so we could be together," she told him with a smile.
"Glad to know I could help," he replied with a happy grin as he pulled her to him so she could lay her head on his chest, his arms wrapped around her. "I love you, Cassie."
"I love you, too," she said as she snuggled closer to him. The pair fell asleep in each other's arms, happy and content knowing that everything would work between them.
WOW! Okay, for starters, I had absolutely ZERO expectations when I started this. Destiny and I had never worked together before, so it was definitely a fun experience. As to if she and I will do any other projects together, it depends on a lot, but we'll have to see. Things have been completely crazy for me, so I'm extremely sorry that it's taken so long for me to get this written. I hope you all liked it!