Title: Tommy and Jason's European Adventure
Chapter Eight — Amsterdam Assault
Original Posting Date: September 17, 2009
Tommy searched the dance floor high and low for any sign of Kimberly, but she was nowhere to be seen. He had been on the verge of storming back towards the kitchen in search of her when his rational side kicked in. Perhaps she had just gone to use the restroom, he reasoned. Yes, that had to be it.
Deciding that he was likely overreacting, Tommy returned to the place where he had left her, certain that she would soon reappear. As he waited for her to return, he planned out what he was going to say to her upon her arrival.
Oh, how "worried" he was going to be about where she had gone off to and what had happened to her. Closing his eyes, he could imagine the apology kiss he would be getting from her any minute now.
Any minute now…
"Okay, not even a monster shit could take that long," muttered Tommy, his expression littered with worry after some fifteen minutes of standing in the same spot. He had since finished off his beer and — though he would never admit it to any of the other Rangers — Kimberly's Cosmopolitan as well.
He gave the room one last rotating scan just to be sure that he had not missed her and, with still no sign of her, he turned and started back towards the kitchen on the other side of the room. She was not there either. Nor was she in the sitting room, the game room, the restrooms, the lines for the restrooms, or any other room that seemed to be housing party guests.
Something was seriously wrong.
Pulling out his cell phone, Tommy quickly dialed Kimberly's number as he searched for a quiet corner. He found a spot without much trouble, but Kimberly did not answer. After five rings, her voicemail clicked on.
"Hey, it's Kim," her voice said perkily. Tommy unconsciously smiled as she went on, "If I didn't intentionally ignore your call, I'm sorry I missed you. Leave a message and I'll call ya back. Bye!"
"Kim, its Tommy," he spoke. "I've been looking all over for you and I can't find you anywhere. I — I'm worried, Kim. Please, call me as soon as you can. Okay, bye."
Sighing, Tommy closed his eyes and found one last glimmer of hope. He sprinted to the front door and nearly took out a dozen people on his way. He burst out the door and ran to the sidewalk, looking left and right, sprinting a few hundred yards to the left before doing the same on the right side of the house.
Nothing, absolutely nothing.
Though he knew there was still a chance that he had simply missed her inside, something that was innately "Tommy" told him that this was not the case. It was, as Hayley had called it, his Tommy-Sense, something of a sixth-sense that gave him the ability to sense danger in ways that were, quite frankly, inhuman. Four colors, five years, and six power changes had gone a long way in honing this ability.
He was halfway up the path to the front door when it opened and Jason walked out. Their eyes met and it was as though something had immediately clicked. Jason could tell from the fear in his best friend's eyes that that something had an awful lot to do with Kimberly.
"What's going on?" said Jason, as he and Tommy met halfway.
"I don't know, man," murmured Tommy, shaking his head. He then launched into an explanation of what had been going on for last thirty minutes, all the while Jason's expression growing more and more worrisome. "I'm honestly freaking out, Jase; I know it's weird, but somehow I just know that something's not right. Hayley calls it my Tommy-Sense."
"Your Tommy-Sense?" repeated Jason, raising an eyebrow while attempting unsuccessfully to hide his grin.
"Yeah, I know, its lame," said Tommy. "Still, I just — I can tell when something bad is happening. I know it sounds crazy, but —"
"No, it doesn't," interjected Jason, with a shake of his head. "I know exactly what you're talking about. Maybe it's one of those things that all Ranger leaders have or something like that. Who knows? Either way, I had a bad feeling too, that's why I came out here looking for you or Kim. I couldn't find either one of you inside."
Tommy, who was slightly disappointed that his ability was not as unique as he had thought, immediately pushed those feelings aside to suggest that they continue to search the house for Kimberly. They had, after all, only explored the common areas. There was much more of the house that had yet to be searched.
"Do you think we're overreacting?" asked Tommy, as they walked back inside.
"I don't know," answered Jason. "I think we probably both are, but you never know. As much as I know Kim can take care of herself, you have to admit —"
"She's always been a target," finished Tommy, remembering all the times he had had to rescue Kimberly from the likes of Rita, Lord Zedd, and Divatox. "We need to find her, now!"
Jason simply nodded. They decided to search the common areas one more time just to be sure that they had not missed her, but she was still nowhere to be seen. Upon reconvening near the kitchen, Tommy led Jason to the quiet corner he had used previously and retrieved his cell phone to see that Kimberly had not yet returned his call.
"I'm calling her one more time," said Tommy. "If she doesn't answer, I'm tearing this house apart until I find her and, if by some chance she's not here, I'm going Zeo Five and tearing this whole goddamn city apart."
Jason suddenly scratched the small of his back in a gesture that Tommy acknowledged with a silent nod. It was always there, just in case…
When Kimberly's recorded message came on once more, Tommy merely hung up and returned his phone to his pocket. "Let's go," he said to Jason. It was all that needed to be said.
Twenty minutes of useless searching later, Tommy was seriously considering giving into the nagging voice in the back of his head. A simple flick of his wrists was all it would take — but no, he would not resort to that yet, no matter how badly he wanted to.
Then, as if by some amazing work of divine intervention, Tommy found what he was looking for. Standing just beyond the entrance into the house-proper, he could not help but feeling like Jason had been right in proclaiming himself the better leader. Hidden in the corner of the unused sitting room on his left was a barely visible darkened hallway. If not for the faintest glimmer of moonlight creeping in through a nearby window, to passerby the hallway would have merely looked like a very shadowy corner.
"She's down there," said Tommy, pointing towards the corner. "I know it, bro."
"Let's check it out then," replied Jason.
They started off in that direction, but halfway there a voice called out, "Hey, Tommy! Jason!" The pair froze and slowly turned around to find David walking towards them. "Where are you guys off to?"
"What's down there?" said Tommy, pointing once more.
"Nothing," said David, his brow furrowed, "Just a few bedrooms, a bathroom, and the staircases to the basement and the second-story. Why? What's going on?"
Tommy did not answer. Instead, he simply turned back around and continued towards the hallway with Jason right behind him. Unfortunately, David was quick to cut them off.
"Guys, guys, slow down," said David. "The party is over there. Felix and I really don't want people in the bedrooms."
Tommy looked to Jason with an expression of impatience, and then turned to David and said, "How much has Kimberly told you about us?"
David, whose confusion was growing by the moment, replied, "I — I don't know. Quite a bit, I suppose, but what's that got to —"
"Good," interrupted Tommy, his tone becoming extremely firm as he continued, "Then you know that Jason and I are both more than capable of kicking your head clear into the Amstel River. Kimberly's gone missing, she's not answering her phone, and we can't find her. Now, if you like your head attached to your neck, you'll get the fuck out of my way."
David gulped and stepped aside just as Tommy had begun to lower himself into a fighting stance. Standing straight, Tommy nodded and murmured a thank you as he and Jason continued into the hallway. They flipped on lights as they passed the switches and searched two of the bedrooms and the bathroom with no luck. They were just about to enter the third bedroom when Tommy's phone suddenly rang.
Freezing on the spot, Tommy pulled out his phone to see that it was Kimberly calling. His heart skipped a beat as he answered, "Hello?"
"Tommy!" screamed Kimberly, her voice so distant that Tommy could tell the phone was nowhere near her ear. "Tommy, help!"
Then he heard a deep, masculine voice mutter something in a language Tommy could not understand. Next moment there was a loud crack as Kimberly screamed once more. A second later, the line went dead.
Horror did not do justice to the look on Tommy's face as he turned to Jason. "Someone's got her, bro. Someone's got her and I have no idea where she is."
Jason rolled his eyes. "Come on," he grumbled, sprinting down the hallway while muttering something that sounded distinctly like, "Worst leader ever."
Tommy soon caught up to him and said, "Where are we going?"
"She's upstairs, dude," replied Jason, rounding a corner into another hallway, this one much shorter than the one they had just come out of. This one also led to the staircase up to the second-story. "How did you not hear that?"
"U-upstairs?" stammered Tommy, Jason nodding. "I — I was so focused on the phone call, I guess I must not have been listening to what was going on around me."
"Understandable," said Jason, he and Tommy taking the steps two and three at a time.
"Get ready, just in case," said Tommy, and with that, he flicked his wrists and summoned his Zeonizers, the wrist-mounted tools that would allow him to transform into Zeo Ranger V — Red, while Jason reached behind his back and retrieved his Power Morpher, ready to bellow for the protection of the Tyrannosaurus for the first time in three years.
Upstairs was shrouded in darkness; Jason pulled out his cell phone and used the backlight to scan the walls for a light switch. He soon found one, but Tommy reached out and seized Jason's wrist just before Jason had illuminated the hallway.
"If he sees light, he'll know we're coming," said Tommy.
"Shit, good point, bro," said Jason. "I didn't even think about that. Maybe you aren't such a bad leader after all."
"Thanks," said Tommy, rolling his eyes. "Just be quiet and listen for anything that sounds weird."
Soon they were creeping through the hallway as though on some kind of top secret reconnaissance mission. They stopped at each door they passed and listened carefully at all of them, but they could not hear anything.
"He may hear us, but if she's not in this one, we're just going to have to start ripping all the doors open," said Tommy, as he and Jason approached the last door in the hallway.
Jason was on the verge of replying when a muffled noise reached their ears, causing him to fall silent. Their eyes met in a moment of speechless understanding, and in a flash Tommy had kicked the door right off the hinges. Though the room was far too dark to see anything, Tommy heard a startled sound and instantly ran to where the noise had come from, his shoulder lowered as his mind flickered back to the days when Ernie, the owner of the Youth Center back in Angel Grove, had taught him the proper way to hit a tackling dummy.
Whether it was Kimberly or someone else he was running towards, he did not know, but either way she was not going to be in danger much longer. Suddenly Tommy dove forward, driving his shoulder into what was undoubtedly another human being. There was a very masculine groan, which told Tommy that he had not hit Kimberly, and as he took the other person to the ground, Tommy rolled on top and cocked his fist back, pinning the man down with his free hand.
As he cocked his fist back high above his head, for the briefest of moments Tommy thought of the respect and honor systems that he had learned in two decades of studying the martial arts. Then images popped into his head of what may or may not have happened to Kimberly, and any semblance of self-control went out the window, replaced by the most pure and raw of emotions.
"Lights!" barked Tommy, driving his fist straight into the man's face.
Three punches later, Jason had managed to find and turn on the lights in the room. Tommy, who was using his knees to keep the man's arms pinned to the ground, looked into the bloodied and bruised face and punched again; and again…and again…until finally Jason came up behind him and grabbed Tommy's arm. Try as he might, though, Jason could not pull Tommy free. In fact, an effortless shift from Tommy of his arm pushed Jason back and onto his butt.
Tommy's face was beet red, his eyes wet with threatening tears as he continued to hit this man repeatedly. Every curse word and insulting name he could think of flew from Tommy's mouth; he was entirely out of body by this point, unable to contain his emotions as the worst of thoughts and images surrounding Kimberly continued to attack his psyche.
Behind him he could hear shuffling, but Tommy paid this no mind. Grabbing the man by the collar of his shirt, Tommy stood tall and hoisted the man onto his feet, driving him into the nearest wall and holding him there, his feet dangling inches above the floor.
"Look at me," muttered Tommy, his neck flaring. "LOOK AT ME!" he yelled again. Slowly, the man turned his head, barely able to open his swollen eyes. He was bleeding from the mouth and nose, and his face was bruised beyond recognition.
"Do you have any fucking idea what you just did?" continued Tommy angrily. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't throw you out this window right now."
The man's lips twitched as he attempted to speak. "P-p-please," he pleaded, his voice heavily accented, "M-mercy."
Tommy smirked. "Maybe you should have thought about that first, huh?"
Behind him, Jason had just untied Kimberly from where she had been lying on the bed moments before. Mostly unharmed — at least in the physical sense — as soon as Jason had freed her she ran to Tommy, who was preparing to deliver yet another powerful punch.
"Tommy, no!" yelled Kimberly, but it was too late.
Tommy cocked back as hard as he could and unintentionally drove his elbow right into Kimberly's nose as she came at him from behind. Immediately, Tommy's blurred state-of-mind snapped into focus as he realized what he had just done. His hold slackened on the man — who slid down the wall in a collapsed heap — and Tommy slowly turned around to find Kimberly lying on the floor, clutching her bleeding nose, wearing nothing but the red tee shirt that Jason, who was now shirtless, had just been wearing.
"Oh my god," breathed Tommy, rushing to take a knee at her side. "Kim — Kim, are you okay? Oh my god, Kim, I'm so sorry."
A pained moan escaped her lips as she struggled to move into a sitting position, one of Tommy's hands behind her head and the other at the small of her back. "Why are there so many of you?" she groaned, rubbing her forehead gingerly. "I can't keep up with four Tommy's."
Tommy briefly flashed a grin towards Jason — who was tying the man to the bed with the same ropes that had been used on Kim — then brought his attention back to Kim and said, "I'm so, so sorry, Beautiful. I — I didn't mean to hit you, I swear."
"I know," muttered Kimberly, her eyes watery from the pain. "It's okay. I'm fine."
"Did he hurt you at all?" asked Tommy, inspecting her carefully. There were signs of a few small bruises starting to show, as well as an inch-long cut on her shoulder, but other than that, Tommy could not see any serious signs of damage. Still, he gave a sigh of relief when Kimberly shook her head.
"No," she answered. "But you did. That elbow hurts like a son-of-a-bitch."
Tommy winced, blinking back tears. He had been trying to help her, not hurt her; the fact that he had likely broken her nose left him with an incredibly pained sense of guilt, as though he would never be able to forgive himself for what he had done to her.
Apparently noticing this, Kimberly sat forward the rest of the way and said, "Hey, its okay, Tommy. After all these years, I should have known better than to run at you from behind like that. I was pretty much asking for it."
Tommy shook his head. "No, you weren't," he replied adamantly. "I totally lost control. All I needed to do was get that guy away from you and keep him down, but once I started hitting him, I just couldn't stop. All I could think was that, what if he had, you know —?"
"He didn't," said Kimberly, although she could not help but grimace. "It was definitely his intention, though. For a minute there I thought —"
Kimberly broke off abruptly, and suddenly was bursting into tears, her face buried in her hands. Tommy gathered her up quickly in his arms, holding her against his chest as he whispered, "Shh, its okay now, Kim. Everything's going to be okay."
Jason, who did not want to interfere but still wanted to be there for his two best friends, stood at their side and placed one hand on Tommy's shoulder and one on Kimberly's. "Someone should probably call the police," he murmured.
Kimberly did not look up, but Tommy did. "Do you really think that's a good idea, bro? I beat the guy half to death, you know."
Jason nodded. "That's why we need to get our stories straight," he replied. "Kim, can you tell us what happened?"
Sniffling loudly, Kimberly wiped her nose on the back of her hand and managed a small nod. "I-I think so."
Slowly lowering himself into a cross-legged seat on the floor, Jason gave Kimberly's back a soft rub as he said, "Why don't you start at the beginning, after Tommy left to go get drinks. I know it's probably not going to be easy, but we need as much information about what happened as possible, okay?"
Kimberly nodded once more as Tommy squeezed her comfortingly. His embrace and a deep breath were all that she needed to explain everything.
"After Tommy left, I stayed in the same spot for awhile, probably ten minutes or so, but then I had to use the bathroom, so I left. The lines were really long, though, so I found David and asked if there was another bathroom I could use. He told me where to go, so I did. I was in the bathroom in the downstairs hallway; when I came out, something hit me really hard on the back of my head. I don't know how long I was out, but when I woke up I was in here, lying on the bed, and that…pig was on top of me."
"How did you manage to call me?" said Tommy softly.
"I'm getting there," answered Kimberly. Sniffling once more, she dabbed at her eyes for a moment and continued, "Well, obviously I had an idea of what he wanted and there was no way I was going to let that happen. I managed to get him off me for a few seconds and that's when I called you. I tossed the phone on the floor so he couldn't take it away and held him off for as long as I could."
"That was pretty smart of you," murmured Jason, giving Kimberly an encouraging smile.
"Yeah," added Tommy, with a smile of his own. "I don't know if I would have thought to do something like that. I'm impressed, Kim."
Kimberly shrugged. "Anyway, he backhanded me pretty good and knocked me down, at which point he stomped on my phone," she said, pointing towards the shattered remains of her cell phone in the far corner of the room. "I think at that point he decided I really wasn't going to play nicely and that's when he tied me up. After that, well…there's a reason I'm wearing Jason's shirt. Mine's over there…and there's a bit over there, too…and that looks like part of it, too…oh, and that's definitely a piece of my skirt over there, as well."
"But he didn't…you know —?" said Tommy, gently squeezing her hand.
Kimberly shook her head. "No," she replied, "But he was damn close. If you guys hadn't shown up when you did —" She hiccoughed loudly.
"Alright, I think that's enough, bro," said Tommy, to a nodding Jason.
"Yeah, for sure," said Jason. "Now we just need to figure out what we're going to tell the cops."
"We can't call the cops, Jase," said Kimberly. "It's Felix's birthday. They'll break up the party and everything."
"The party's over, Kim," said David, whose unnoticed position in the doorjamb caused the trio to jump when he spoke. "Sorry, guys; didn't mean to startle you," he added, returning his attention to Kimberly as he went on, "When I ran into Tommy and Jason, they told me you were missing. Seeing as how they thought you were somewhere in the house, I figured it was best to just send everyone home."
"But Felix —" started Kimberly.
"Felix understood that finding you was more important than his birthday party," said David.
"How much did you hear?" Kimberly asked.
David shrugged. "Long enough to know that something really bad happened here tonight," he answered. "Guys, I can't tell you enough how sorry I am. I invited you into my home and then this happened…oh my god, is that — is that the guy who —?"
"Looks like it was a good thing I got out of the way then," murmured David, looking away from the still unconscious man.
"Do you have any idea who that guy is?" said Tommy.
David shook his head. "I've never seen him before in my life. There were so many people here tonight…I can't imagine it would have been too terribly hard for him to just slip in with the rest of the crowd, you know?"
"Yeah, you're probably right," said Jason, who then turned to Tommy and continued, "I really think we should call the police, bro. This guy deserves whatever punishment the Dutch have for his crime."
"But what about my crime?" questioned Tommy; he did not sound nervous, merely curious. "I'm not going to lie, man; spending time in a foreign jail wasn't exactly how I planned on spending my trip to Europe."
Jason shrugged helplessly. "I don't know bro. Honestly, I think if three people are willing to corroborate that all you were doing was defending Kim then you should be all right. I mean, I'm no expert on the laws of the Dutch, but if pot and hash are legal here, I can't imagine you'll go to jail for this."
Releasing his hold on Kimberly, Tommy rose to his feet and started walking to the furthest corner in the room while running his hand through his hair. Upon reaching his destination, he lowered himself into a squat, resting his elbows on his knees and his chin atop his clenched and touching fists.
For nearly two minutes he simply sat there in silence, locked in a deep sense of contemplation over his choices in what was clearly a very complicated matter. Then he stood straight, turned around to face his friends, and sighed. "Make the call," he murmured, shaking his head. "Can I at least hit him one more time then? I mean, they're not going to be able to tell the difference if it's just one more."
Kimberly rolled her eyes and chidingly groaned, "Tommy."
"Alright, alright, fine," said Tommy, holding up his hands. "I'm just saying —"
Looking fiercely into Tommy's eyes, Kimberly shook her head and the subject was permanently dropped. From that point on they waited in nervous anticipation for the police to arrive. Felix — a tall, muscular man with a model's physique, wavy blonde hair, and steel blue eyes — entered the room at one point, but Kimberly, Jason, and Tommy paid him no mind. They were not trying to be rude; it was simply hard to care about anything else after what had just happened, along with what awaited them any moment now.
Then, after ten minutes of waiting, the sound of rapidly approaching sirens could be heard in the distance.
As it turned out, the Amsterdam police were more along the lines of what Jason had been expecting, though this actually had more to do with the fact that Tommy told the officers that he had only hit the man three times than anything else. The officers had been very much disbelieving of this, but a fifteen second display of martial arts in the front yard proved Tommy's falsified point to them rather quickly.
All three were needed at the station to give statements, but were allowed to go free a few hours later. Tommy, of course, had been ecstatic. Kimberly, on the other hand, had not been nearly as happy; in fact, her mood had grown distant and saddened shortly after she had finished delivering her own statement.
Seeing as how they had been transported to and from the police station in police issued-and-driven vehicles, he had not had the opportunity to discuss this with her. He had tried after being dropped back off at their hostel, but she had immediately gone into her room and locked the door, refusing to answer it, as well as her phone on the multiple occasions when Tommy attempted to call and text message her.
"Dude, you need to let it go for tonight," said Jason, seated against the wall at the head of his bed. "Something's obviously bugging her that she doesn't want to talk about right now. Give her some time to chill out and then try again in the morning. I can tell you from experience, bro; pushing her too hard now is just going to make her push back harder."
Tommy, who had been lying in his own bed, sat up to glower at Jason from across the room and proceeded to call Kimberly again. When she did not answer, he let out a sigh and said, "Looks like I don't have much of a choice, huh?"
Jason shrugged. "Sorry, bro," he replied nonchalantly. "Just go to sleep and deal with it tomorrow."
"Yeah, alright," muttered Tommy, flopping back down.
It was not long after that when Jason's thunderous snores filled the room. In the past few days, this had been the time when Tommy would sneak off to Kimberly's room; now, however, he was forced to attempt sleeping in the midst of what sounded like a horrifically powerful earthquake, not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.
It took nearly an hour for Tommy to fall into an uneasy sleep, plagued by nightmares that woke him up constantly and which seemed to show what would have happened earlier had he and Jason not intervened. It was one of the most restless nights he had ever had.
At the first glimpse of sunrise, he was up and out of bed.
After brushing his teeth and splashing some water on his face to wake up, he made his way back into the room — where Jason was still sound asleep — and fumbled through his backpack until he found what he was looking for: a pair of loose-fitting, black karate pants. He pulled them on, along with a black tank top, and then quietly slipped out of the bedroom and into the hallway.
Once downstairs, Tommy moved through the reception area and passed the kitchen — where a continental breakfast was being set up — to a single white door that led into something of a backyard area. The spacious lawn bore a speckled series of large oak trees, but it was not the size of the trees that had captivated Tommy's attention as he stepped onto a small patio.
Kimberly was out there on the lawn, wearing grey sweats and a soft-pink tank top as she moved gracefully through what was quite clearly a very detailed and complicated gymnastics routine. Even with the morning dew beneath her feet, she never once slipped or stumbled.
If watching her on television had not been enough, Tommy now fully understood why she had been the face of American gymnastics ever since winning four gold medals at her first Pan Global Games.
Whether she knew that he was there or not, Tommy was not entirely sure, but she was certainly acting like she had not yet noticed his presence. Tommy did not mind, however; though he had been planning on a light kata, he found much more enjoyment in watching Kimberly's gymnastics display.
Still, she was bound to notice him eventually, and two minutes later she did. Standing straight, she looked at Tommy as he walked towards her as though he were the very last person in the world she wanted to see at that moment.
Tommy did not flinch or seem bothered in the slightest. Deep down, he knew that her expression did not accurately depict her true feelings. "That was great, Kim," he commented, once he was within earshot.
"Thanks," murmured Kimberly distantly, patting her face with a white towel that was obviously taken from her bathroom.
Tommy nodded as an idea suddenly struck him. "Are you still as good a fighter as you are a gymnast?"
Kimberly shrugged. "I haven't practiced karate in years."
"That's okay. It's just like riding a bike," replied Tommy. "Why don't you show me what you've got?"
If Tommy was the last person she wanted to see, practicing karate in front of him was the last thing she wanted to do. "I really don't feel like it," she answered honestly.
"Just humor me for a few minutes, okay?" said Tommy, taking her by the hands and leading her to a spot away from the oak tree they had been standing next to.
"Tommy," grumbled Kimberly, as he dragged her along. "I really don't want to."
"What's the matter?" said Tommy. "Afraid I'm going to kick your ass like its Jason's?"
Kimberly rolled her eyes. "Still as cocky as ever," she muttered to herself. Deciding it would be easier to just play along for a few minutes instead of trying to argue her way out, she looked at Tommy as they stopped at a more open patch of grass and said, "Fine, I'll humor you, but only for a few minutes."
"Great," said Tommy, flashing a wide grin before getting in a quick stretch. He then lowered himself into a defensive stance and continued, "Come on, let's see what you've got."
"What, we're just going to spar?" said Kimberly indignantly. "Tommy, did you not hear me? I haven't done karate in years."
"That's fine," said Tommy, giving Kimberly a come-and-get-me wave of his hand. "I promise I'll go easy on you."
Kimberly rolled her eyes, but took up a fighting stance of her own nonetheless. "Alright, then, let's do it."
Bowing, Tommy gave Kimberly a confident smirk and then murmured, "Ladies first."
He was not given a chance to think on this offer, as a moment later Kimberly had sprung towards him with a knee aimed right at his head. Tommy effortlessly ducked her attempt and seized her around the waist, flipping her over his back and onto her own in a Judo hold called the O Goshi.
Groaning on impact, Kimberly gazed up at Tommy and said, "I thought you were going to take it easy."
"That was easy," said Tommy, who had maintained his hold on Kimberly's wrist after the toss and used it to hoist her back onto his feet. "I'm not going to let you take my head off, at least not without earning it."
Kimberly grumbled a few choice curse words under her breath, but Tommy had already retreated and did not hear them. Retaking her stance once more as Tommy did the same, Kimberly silently made the decision to let him strike first this time.
When he came at her with a flying side kick, Kimberly somersaulted beneath his leg and popped back onto her feet. He then attempted to take her down with a standing leg sweep aimed at her ankles, but Kimberly threw her body into a back-tuck and avoided the kick with ease. Still not deterred, Tommy tried another low kick and missed; his follow-up roundhouse was ducked as well, leaving his stomach exposed to Kimberly's knee and a floating leg takedown to his chest that left Tommy flat on his back with Kimberly's legs locked around his chest like a scissors.
"A few years my ass," said Tommy, as Kimberly released her hold and did a backwards somersault onto her feet before helping him up.
"If I recall correctly, you were the one who said it was just like riding a bike," replied Kimberly.
"I didn't actually mean it," said Tommy, dropping back into position. "I was just trying to get you to spar with me."
That having been said, Tommy launched into a series of forwardly progressing tornado kicks that Kimberly was forced to backpedal in order to avoid. As she moved, she timed his kicks, and when he landed after the fourth one, she dropped him with a snapping side kick to the stomach.
"Alright," grunted Tommy, kipping-up into a standing position. "No more Mr. Nice Guy."
"Ooh," said Kimberly, waving her hands in mocking dramatics. "I'm shaking in my pink spandex skirt."
"Oh, you will be," replied Tommy.
They took up their positions once more, and this time it was Tommy who prevailed. He ran at Kimberly as though to attack only to front flip over her head; once landed, dropping her with a short leg sweep was no problem.
Kimberly wiped the grass from her butt as she popped back onto her feet, refusing Tommy's offered hand with a look that said all semblances of playing nice had ceased at that moment. Tommy simply grinned and assumed his fighting stance.
Glaring at each other fiercely, they both sprung forward with side kicks that missed wide of their targets. Whirling back around, Tommy deflected an attempted punch with his forearm and then watched in surprise as Kimberly did the same to his return strike. Back and forth they went, until finally Tommy realized that neither was going to win this way.
He threw a knee at Kimberly's chest, but she side-stepped his attack and gave three rapid back-handsprings to move herself away from Tommy's striking distance. Charging, he tried another knee, but Kimberly was barely able to duck it.
Their hearts thudded in unison as they continued to go at each other, neither willing to give an inch to the other or show any sign of weakness. In the end, after a poorly timed kick from Kimberly, the fight came to a cease soon Tommy attempted another O Goshi.
This time, though, just as Tommy made to lift her over his back, Kimberly wrapped a leg around Tommy's ankle and used it to keep herself grounded. She then grabbed Tommy around the shoulder and attempted to pull him down, but he was too heavy. Their different motions ended up taking both of them down, and as they fell, Tommy took hold of Kimberly and moved his body to insure that it was he who landed on top.
As it was, Kimberly had the same idea in mind, and as a result, they ended up landing on their sides, face-to-face, but their momentum kept them moving. Holding onto each other, they rolled across the lawn while constantly alternating the dominant position. If not for the unexpected pain from a sharp and hidden rock jabbing into Tommy's ribs, they may never have stopped.
Both were breathing incredibly hard and, with Kimberly hovering over him, her knees just below his arms and her hands planted on either side of his head, Tommy looked up into her reddened face, and for a moment thought about kissing her. Then her arm support suddenly gave way and she collapsed against his chest. A moment later she began crying hysterically.
Subconsciously he had been expecting this. In fact, it had been the main reason behind wanting her to spar with him in the first place. There was just something that came with the release of taking your frustrations out on another person like she had just done.
Holding her close, Tommy scooted himself into a sitting position while Kimberly kept her arms wrapped firmly around his neck. "Just let it out, Kim," he whispered soothingly as he rubbed her back gently. "I've got you now, Beautiful."
"You didn't see any of it, Tommy," sobbed Kimberly, her fists clenched as she pushed enough away to look him in his eyes. "You didn't see what he did to me!"
Tommy appeared startled. "I — but I thought you said he didn't —"
"He didn't," replied Kimberly, sniffling. "But he started kissing my neck and then he — he touched me. He ripped my panties off and he — oh god!" she wailed. All of the sudden, she was beating her fists against Tommy's chest as she went on, "You were supposed to be there! You were supposed to protect me! You — you promised me, Tommy!"
A not-so-great memory and the fact that she was assaulting him made it so that it took Tommy a few moments to recall the promise she spoke of, for he had not promised her anything recently that he could remember. But then it was there, as plain as day.
There he was, sitting in a small wooden chair next to Kimberly as she lay in her hospital bed following her tumble from the balance beam. She had Caesar the Dragon in one hand; the other was being held by Tommy, his thumb softly caressing the top of her hand.
"I promise, Kim, I'm never going to let anything hurt you ever again."
In retrospect it had been a foolish and equally impossible promise, fueled solely by an impulsive rush of emotion that came from seeing her like that, especially after everything that they had been through with Lord Zedd and Rita in the days leading up to her accident. On top of that, he had been damn sure at the time that she was asleep and had not heard him, though that was now clearly not the case.
Tommy allowed her to unleash her rage for a couple more seconds before seizing her wrists so quickly it made Kimberly gasp. "I'm sorry, Kim," he murmured, looking her square in her eyes. "I am so, so sorry. I — I should have been there. I should have stopped him sooner."
It was in that moment, as doe met chocolate in a long gaze, that Kimberly realized what she had in Tommy. He knew that what had happened was not his fault just as surely as she did, yet he was willing to take everything she could throw at him — both physically and verbally — just to make her feel better.
Surprisingly, at least to Tommy, a chuckle escaped her lips as she moved to wipe her eyes. "No, you shouldn't have," she replied. "I'm just an idiot that doesn't think before she speaks. You did everything you could to stop him, and you did in the end. I will always love you for that."
Tommy, who looked utterly relieved that she seemed to have gotten over her anger so quickly, smiled down at her and said, "You hit pretty hard, you know that?"
"Did I mention I'm also an idiot that doesn't think before she hits the man who saved her?" countered Kimberly, grinning impishly as she rubbed his chest momentarily. Then, touching the side of his face softly, she continued, "You always were my White Knight, Tommy. Even when we weren't together, somehow I knew that you would be there if I ever needed you."
"Weren't together? Like, in the past tense?" said Tommy. "So does that mean we're 'together' now?"
Kimberly shrugged. "Do you want to be?"
Tommy rolled his eyes; even though he had thoroughly enjoyed watching Kimberly squirm when he had given her similar treatment, the answering of a question with another question was not something he was particularly patient with while on the receiving end. Still, now was not the time to be frustrated.
"This is the way I look at it, Kim," replied Tommy calmly. "We've still got something like two more weeks in Europe. I don't know about you, but there's no one else I'm planning on being with besides you. So if you feel the same way, I think we should just play it as it comes, you know? Like you said before, we live on opposite ends of the country. I think if we're going to make any kind of serious commitment, we need to figure out the logistics of it first."
"There you go again, always thinking with your head," muttered Kimberly.
Tommy gave a short laugh. "It's always kept me out of trouble," he said.
"Yeah, and thinking with my head always gets me into trouble," argued Kimberly. "It was my head that told me to break up with you in the first place. My heart, on the other hand, kept telling me what a dumbass I was being for even considering it. Ten years later, I'm positive which one was right. It was right back then and it's still right now."
"Tommy, I know what I'm talking about here," said Kimberly. "I haven't dated seriously at all since the Halloween party, you know that? I know it sounds crazy — hell, it sounds crazy to me, too — but somehow I knew that our paths would cross again, and when they did, I wanted to have a clear path to you. Now I have it and I'm not going to give it up without a fight."
"But your school —" started Tommy, though again his efforts were futile at best.
"I can open a gymnastics school anywhere, Tommy," said Kimberly, over the top of him. "What I have in Florida — it's nothing compared to what I have with you. Besides, why are you so against this? I thought this was what you wanted, something more serious…."
"It was," said Tommy before quickly amending, "I mean, it is; it is. I just — I don't want you to make a decision now that you might regret somewhere down the road. Impulsive decisions like that have a tendency of coming back around to bite people, you know what I mean?"
Kimberly nodded. "Yeah, I do, but this isn't an impulsive decision; at least not for me, anyway. Look, Tommy, I don't need you to be happy. But the truth is that I've always been happier when you're around. I want to be with you, Tommy, and if that means leaving Florida and starting again in California, then I'm willing to do that."
Tommy smiled and wiped a stray tear as it slid down Kimberly's cheek. She was clearly adamant in her decision; nothing he said or did outside of severing all ties with her completely was going to make her back down. "You know I can't ask you to do that, Kim," he whispered.
"I know," said Kimberly, nodding once more. "That's why I'm offering. This was the one thing holding us back before, and now that I've had some time to realize what's truly important in my life, I'm willing to make it a non-issue."
"So this is the big Are-we-official?-conversation, eh?" murmured Tommy, sitting back on his elbows. "I mean, I had a feeling it was bound to happen eventually, but I'll be honest, this isn't what I was picturing."
"Stop dancing around the issue, Tommy," replied Kimberly sternly.
"I'm not dancing around the issue, Kim," said Tommy, rising to his feet. Kimberly did the same as he continued, "I just — I feel like you're trying to make a decision in the heat of the moment and I don't want you to do something that you'll reg —"
Any further argument was lost when Kimberly took his face in her hands, pulled him down to her level, and kissed him hard and full. A few seconds later, she pulled back and very calmly said, "Yes or no, Tommy?"
"Fuck yes," breathed Tommy, touching his fingertips to his lips.
"Yeah?" said Kimberly, smiling sweetly.
"Yeah," said Tommy, nodding whilst grinning like a madman.
Next moment Kimberly had leapt into his arms, her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck. "Good," she replied before kissing him once again. "Just so you know, though, I'm a terrible girlfriend: I can't cook to save my life, cleaning house is always at the bottom of my list of shit to do, and I have a bad habit of watching Lifetime movies with Ben, Jerry, and a spoon for hours on end."
"Wow, we're ten seconds in and I'm already starting to question this relationship," said Tommy, smirking playfully.
Though she knew he had been kidding, Kimberly still felt it necessary to smack his shoulder. "Hey, I have some good qualities too, you know," she said matter-of-factly. "One of which I believe I promised you yesterday night and never got a chance to make good on."
"We've still got thirty minutes or so until Jason wakes up," said Tommy, unable to contain his smile, a smile that was matched equally by Kimberly.
"Trust me," said Kimberly, kissing him, "You won't last ten."
"Is that a challenge?" questioned Tommy, with a raised eyebrow.
Kimberly shook her head. "Nope, it's a guarantee."
"We'll see about that," replied Tommy confidently.
Three minutes later they were in her room. Seven minutes and eighteen seconds after that, she had proven her point.
Unfortunately the rest of the day was not nearly as eventful. Midway through breakfast, two uniformed police officers had entered the dining area, requesting the trio's presence at the police station immediately.
As it turned out, the man from the night before had been the suspect in a line of similar crimes throughout the city, most of which had been more successful than his attempt on Kimberly. Because of this, he was likely to be tried for all his crimes at once, which was also likely to mean a very long and drawn out trial process should Kimberly decide to press charges. This, of course, meant having to stay in Amsterdam for the entire time in order to testify, something she simply could not do.
While part of her desperately wanted to stay and see the man receive his punishment for what he had done to her, she also knew that his other crimes would bring his just comeuppance. Choosing not to press charges had certainly not been an easy decision, but in her eyes she did not see any other options.
At four o'clock that afternoon when they were finally allowed to leave, Kimberly made a beeline for the exit, Tommy and Jason jogging to catch up with her, which they finally did at the large stone staircase leading from the door to the sidewalk.
"We're leaving Amsterdam now," she declared, "And I'm never coming back."
"That sounds fair," said Jason lowly. "I'm ready to go somewhere where I can speak the language again, anyway. To Germany, then?" he asked, clasping the shoulder on either side of him.
"Sounds good to me," said Tommy, "Kim?"
Kimberly nodded. "Anywhere but here is fine with me," she replied.
"Good," said Jason, as they hit the sidewalk. "Let's get going then."