Some things you never grow out of, but may learn to love more…
Sorry guys would have this to you yesterday but had internet problems. This is it. Thanks for waiting patiently for the past year. I hope you enjoyed this story as much I enjoyed writing it. Rugrats and All grown up will always go down as two of my favourite shows.
Rugrat /All grown up
Chapter 18: All in… Part 2 (Conclusion)
Disclaimer: I do not own Rugrat/ All Grown up or any of their characters
Phil stuffed his hands as he resumed his journey across the endless path that swept through the park. Except this time he held a destination in mind, unlike the other aimless steps his feet paid forward. It was as if as closer he got the more beautiful she seemed to get. It was obvious, he was a dying man. He had to be, stooping to the lowly cliché sappy hopeless romantic antics he would rather chop off his tongue than entertain. He chuckled at his own insanity before taking in a sharp breath when her hazel eyes met his. His feet stopped moving all together as they watched each other …
The next thing he knew was a little blonde boy was sprinting across the field, his elated giggles traveling in the wind. Phil's grin could have split his entire face as he engulfed the little boy in a tight embrace lifting him up. "My little man."
"Phil!" Brian's grinned wide as he cupped the chef's slightly stubble cheeks. "Did you come to play with me?"
"I sure did…" Phil placed a sloppy kiss to the boy's forehead eliciting another giggle from him. He stomped over to the edge of the sandbox and Brian began showing the chef the proper way of digging a hole with his plastic shovel.
Phil smiled at him rubbing a hand through the boy's golden locks. He turned and met Angelica's gaze once more, their eyes saying so many things. He whispered something into the boy's ear, earning an impossibly bigger grin and a stern nod. Smirking himself, he rose and strolled the small distance to where the younger mother sat on the green park bench. He took a seat on the opposite end in silence as they both continued to stare at Brian surrounded by many other kids.
Finally, Phil spoke up. "He is getting bigger by the day."
Angelica sighed wistfully. "You have no idea… It's as if just now he will start school and then graduate high school and finally I'll be waving him off to college." She imagined her son's life fly through her head.
Phil shuddered at the thought and shook his head. "No. None of that… He is not allowed to grow up past five." He groaned when he spied Angelica's amused gaze through the corner of his eyes. "Okay fine… Six, but that's my final offer!" He crossed his arms over his chest adamantly.
Angelica laughed causing him to laugh as well. They just laughed for a moment for no particular reason. For how everything landed them up here sitting on the same park bench with the same unknown illness in their heart. Eventually their laughter died down leaving in its place, the musical giggles of playing children not far from them. Angelica smiled, her head back to where Brian resided wielding his mighty shovel in his current adventure. Phil matched her smile but his eyes were on her, caressing the sunshine of her golden hair.
"You know I keep wondering…" He voiced, his blatant stares causing her to face him.
"What?" She asked getting lost in his smiling eyes.
"Oh you know…" His smile turned thin. "If I didn't let you storm out that night. If I ran after you… What would have happened? Where would we have been?"
Angelica turned away and swallowed the sudden clump that formed in her throat. "Phil, I'm over it…"
"But what if I'm not?"
"Why wouldn't you be?" She adjusted her head, staring at him curiously.
"Because…" He shifted a little closer watching Brian fondly. He chuckled a little sadly. "Because I keep going through these last few months from the day Tommy came back up until now. A lot has happened in our little gang since then. But the more I think about it there is only one thing that is apparent." His pale eyes sailed over the small distance between them and held her gaze, softly. "The only thing that has been constant and I still find myself wanting is you."
"You don't mean that…" She whispered, warily.
He just smiled. "Why? Because I'm Phil –playboy extraordinaire? Or because you're Angelica –resolute strong-minded woman?" He laughed, ruefully. "You think I don't feel insane about this? I mean, you're Angelica Pickles and I'm Philip De-Ville. We couldn't be any more contradicting if we tried." She met his smile with a small one of her own. Then both his eyes and smile fell. He stared at the wooden space between them. "That you night you told me you had no reason to be angry at me… Because we hadn't defined what we were to each other…" His voice was low and sober. "You had every reason to be angry at me, Angelica."
"Why is that?"
"True enough, I didn't kiss Wally. And the fact that she was involved was unfortunate. But you should be angry because we hadn't defined what we were to each other… I had played down what you mean me for a while." He moved up the final distance until their thighs were touching and searched the soft features of her face. "I mean, I've been careless and callous for a very long time. By not defining it, I guess I tried to pretend it wasn't real. That my feelings weren't real." He placed his hand over hers that rested on her thigh. "That you weren't real..." He murmured their faces a breath apart.
She tore her gaze away, feeling the moist sting behind her eyes. "Why are you doing this, Phil?"
He squeezed his eyes shut as he helplessly nuzzled into the blonde hair behind her ear. "Because I should have told you this a long time ago… Because I want you to know that I think about you and Brian all the time. I find myself wanting to be with you guys all the time. And when I'm not it hurts right here." He placed their linked hands over his heart that was pounding away furiously. They both leaned back watching each other. "Sometimes I'm sloppy with emotions. I closed mine up a long time ago. And I don't exactly have the best track record with women. They were just a game to me. I was slick, charismatic and if I wanted someone, they usually came freely. I know all the tricks in the book. I'm a freaking mastermind when it comes to women. But I've never cheated on anyone. Not that I had a reason to be loyal either. I've never really found someone worth the trouble…"
She chuckled, shakily. "Seriously, that's your winning argument…"
He let out a half laugh himself. "Yeah… It needs a little work, doesn't it?" Then all the amusement died from his eyes. "I haven't been with anyone else since the night before we fell asleep innocently on the couch…"
"What?" He mouth slightly parted at her shock.
He felt his vulnerability soar through him but he came this far, he was not backing down. "I know what I said shouldn't really make a difference. But whenever I look at you, I want to tell you what I feel. I've never wanted to be emotionally attached to anyone ever again. But with you I can't help but feel. " He pinched the bridge before his eyes sincerely met hers. "And everything I feel comes down to this…" He stole the last distance between their lips, cupping her face, drawing her into the most promising kiss enflamed by passion. He drew back to see a dazed expression in her eyes. "I'm in love with you…" He kissed her again and pointed to Brian, giggling away. "I love you and that little boy over there more than I ever thought possible." He pulled back, standing, his soul bared in his eyes.
Angelica could only stare, stunned. Unable to form words in the mess of her head. "Phil… I–"
"It's okay…" He interrupted with a finger to her lips and a sad smile sensing the blonde's panic. Feeling so hollowed out, in being so long since he had felt this emotionally bled. He knew he wouldn't be able to withstand the blow of a verbal rejection. "I just thought you should know…" He whispered giving her the easy out. At the momentary silence, his smile grew painfully. He turned to journey back the way he came leaving her simply staring at him motionless until he disappeared…
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Phil slammed himself into his apartment. Tossing his keys into the wooden bowl in the passageway, he stormed into the kitchen. He ravaged all the cupboards until he found the bottle scotch he was looking for. He poured a generous amount into a glass before downing it. The raw burn spreading through his throat doing nothing to sooth the spent ache his heart pulsed out. He never knew it could feel like this. With Wally, it broke his heart. But Angelica, God, it felt like his whole person was broken. If he survived, never again. Never again…
About to pour himself another glass, he startled, almost dropping the bottle at the thunderous banging on his door.
"I know you're in there De-Ville! Open the goddamn door!" Roared from outside his apartment.
He stepped into his passageway dumbfounded, there was no doubt who was behind his door. That same aggressive tone tormented him and his friends right through childhood. Wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans he opened the door to a hundred and twenty pounds of fuming blonde.
"What the hell is your problem!"
Phil flinched. "Excuse me?"
Angelica pushed past him into his home, waving her hands in her tantrum. "You heard me. I asked you what the hell your problem is!"
He shut the door behind them knowing his neighbors didn't have to hear this. He felt his own anger soar at her furious tone. What did she have to be angry for? She wasn't the one in love with an unreciprocated person. "Can you be more specific? Clearly, I have a lot of problems." His anger unsuccessfully masked in his obnoxious tone.
Angelica whirled around to face him and ran a hand through her hair. "God, you're so annoying, you think you know everything. That you always know all the right things to say. That every woman will just run into your arms because you're the irresistible charismatic Chef Philipe De-Ville…"
He wanted to say not every woman, but he held his tongue. "So you came here to yell at me for being who I am?"
"Yes!" She frowned at her answer and immediately backtracked. "No, I mean no."
"Which is it?" He raised a high brow.
"I don't know…Both!" She blew out a frustrated sigh. "How can I be in love with you!" She let out exasperated, more to herself.
"I don't expect you to. I didn't tell you how I felt because I expect you to settle for me! I told you because I guess somewhere inside of me hoped…" He paused squeezing the arch of his nose. "Look, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you by telling you."
"Jesus, Phil. I'm not mad at you for telling me you love me. I'm mad at you for walking away. For not giving me a chance to say anything."
He let out a sadistic chuckle. "Why so you can squash my heart with words too? So you can always have the last words?" He laughed again, bitterness seeping through. "Typical, Miss Angelica Pickles always wants to be the last one to voice her thoughts and control the entire situation." He took an intimidating step towards, causing her to retreat at the hard look in his eyes. She stopped when her back hit the wall and he was pressed against her. "Go ahead then. Tell me you don't want me…" His murmur was low and hard. "Go ahead and tell me how you feel…" His eyes piercing through hers. "Go ahead and say it!" He yelled for all it was worth.
"I love you…" She reached up and crushed her lips to his in a brutal kiss that left them both breathless. Phil's arms immediately wrapped around her waist as her hands ran through his hair gripping him in place. The lips engaged in a violent assault contradicting the healing coursing through the blood. The kiss ended naturally with their foreheads leaning together, eye shut, panting heavily. She opened her eyes, smiling when he did the same.
"You do?" He whispered.
"Yes. I love you Phil. For the past few weeks I've tried not to. Because the first time I did, it was to a man who I'd given everything to. Ethan betrayed me in every sense in the word." Phil opened his mouth to interrupt but she put her palm over his lips, shaking her head. "But you're not him. You're Phil. You're annoying and a know it all. You can't help being charming. And you love Brian enough to want to be his secret dad." His eye widened because he didn't think she knew about that. The tears glimmered in her eyes. "How can I not be in love with you?" She slowly dropped her hand from his mouth.
A smile burst across his face as if in this one moment he could die happy and not have a care in the world. He nuzzled into her neck recapturing the scent that drove him wild. "God, I love you…" He squeezed her and lifted her up to straddle his hips.
"So now, you go ahead and put me on your list of women that find you irresistible…" She said dryly, though a smile played on her face.
He laughed, shaking his head. "No, I think I'll put you on an entirely different list."
"What list is that?"
"The only one I want…"
She chuckled at the ticking sensation at the tiny millions of kisses she received to the nape of her neck. But mostly because she felt happy. Simple and utter bliss. She cupped his face pushing it back to look down into the grinning eyes of the man she loved. The man she finally gave to trust with her heart again. And she said it again. "I love you…"
"I love you too." He captured her mouth in a series of fast kisses then deepened the last one. After what felt like an eternity of making out in his passageway, they pulled back. "I do have one question, though?"
"Where is Brian? I hope you didn't lose him on my behalf." He smiled teasingly.
"Of course not." She chuckled. "I left him with Mrs. Thompson down the hall on my way to yell at you."
"I see…" He bit his bottom lip in thought. "And how long did you tell her you'll be?"
"I never specify, she wasn't going out." She raised a brow at the devilish twinkle in his eye. "Why?"
He just smirked as he procured a more secure hold of the woman in his arms. The only woman he wanted in his arms. He began their trek from the passageway. "No reason…"
When his strides directed towards his bedroom, she just laughed. "God, De-Ville, you're not going to take advantage of an old woman's time, are you?" There was playfulness in her voice as she began nipping a path down his neck.
He stared at her, aghast. "To make love to the woman I love?" Then his devious grin peeked out. "You bet…"
They both just chuckled as they fell onto the bed, the midday sun covering them in a warm curtain of love…
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Later that night…
The Charity Ball
Kimi stepped into the town hall with Dil right behind her. The warm inviting air hitting her immediately and the low sounding music drawing her. Her eyes scanned the entire setting, surprised at how much detail went into creating this event. But with Angelica as the coordinator did she really expect anything less?
It was still an hour before the formalities actually started but as usual her friends were here helping out. Lil and Phil were arguing at the bar whereas Suzie was busy attending to the floral arrangement on each table. Chuck was far away from her at the music box, since he was still plagued with allergies from his youth. She smiled at Angelica who was shouting out orders in her small headset. A night with her friends was exactly what she needed. The gang, never really growing out of their youthful roles. Everything was where it was supposed to be… Except for one major part that was also the cause to her heart ache. Their leader…
As if sensing her sudden melancholy, Dil squeezed her shoulders, giving her an understanding smile. She gave him a sad smile back.
Angelica walked up to them, in a strapless black number that screamed classy –out of your league –temptress. She stopped with her clipboard in hand to take in the journalist who was dressed in a violet dress that emphasized all the right curves. Kimi was stunning in a word. She smiled, appreciatively. "Very nice Finster…" She then eyed out her cousin who was in a surprisingly –nothing odd with it –tuxedo. "You too, Dil."
"Pickles gene's…" The ginger head shrugged.
Kimi didn't know why she was holding her breath but she let it out. As if she was getting the thumbs up she wanted. "Thanks, but I don't come any way close to you…"
"Very few do… But tonight, you've come pretty close." The blonde showed a hint of a smirk. Kimi would have rolled her eyes if it wasn't true. "That's enough compliments, both of you get to work." She handed Kimi the clipboard that contained the guest list and seating plan. "I need you to double check that." She turned to Dil. "There are some boxes in the kitchen that need to be put behind the bar. Grab Chuck, he seems to be doing nothing and get going."
"But why do I –" Dil's protest was cut off by a challenging raise of a blonde brow. "Fine…" He grumbled and dragged himself towards the redhead. Angelica watched him go, shaking her head at the large 'Alien's Rock' Logo on the back of his jacket. So much for nothing weird.
Kimi was grateful for the distraction following Angelica as she went over the list. They went through each table scanning nametags and making adjustments. Once that task was complete they headed over to the bar where the twins were tormenting each other.
Phil's grin broke out when he saw them. "Kimi, wow… Two beautiful dresses in a span of less than six months? I must be dreaming."
Kimi actually broke out in small genuine laugh. "Yeah, I walked in thinking the same thing."
"Regardless, you look amazing." Phil winked.
"Yeah Kimi… On this instance I agree with this idiot." Lil added pinching her brother's cheek.
"Lil, Kimi just help Suzie bring in the extra floral arrangements back to the bar." Angelica ordered looking at her watch. "We're about to start in fifteen minutes." Both Ladies nodded before seeking out Suzie.
Left alone with Chef, a blonde brow arched. "Get back to the kitchen, De-Ville. We're not paying you to slack off, you know."
The Chef barked out a laugh and jumped over the bar counter in one swift motion. "Oh so bossy…" He teased wrapping his arms around her from behind and nuzzled into her hair.
"Phil, we're supposed to be working…" She whispered, helplessly arching her head to the sensation.
"I'll get back to work on one condition…" He whispered into her ear sending tingles down her entire body.
She turned in his embrace and wrapped her arms around his neck. She tilted her head. "Which is?"
"Hmmm…" Phil wrinkled his nose. "Kiss me."
She couldn't help but match his glorious smile and leaned in fusing their mouths in a slow sensual kiss. "There..." She whispered, nipping his bottom lip.
He needed a moment to gain his composure after that. Opening his eyes, he noticed the smug glint in her eyes. "Again…"
"That's two conditions…" She said, her voice, slightly husky.
"So, I've never really played by the rules, anyway…" He shrugged and dipped her slightly, placing his lips on hers in a languid kiss trying to even out the playing field. They broke apart at the sound of clapping around them and a clatter of boxes. Both of them covered in matching blushes when they spied their friends, who all wore wide grins. Apart from Chuck whose jaw almost touched the floor with a spilt box at his feet.
The redhead jerked his head staring at both of them sharply before averting his gaze to his fiancé. "Did you see that?"
Suzie grinned and pecked Chuck's cheek. "What dear?"
"They, they kissed… Phil and Angelica kissed!" He exclaimed and pointed at the couple, causing them all to break out in laughter.
"Yes… They did."
"But, but…" His eyes widened when everyone else seemed unfazed. "You mean, you knew?"
The singer smiled warmly at Angelica. "Oh yeah…"
He stared at the soccer star. "Lil?"
"Twin-lepathy, Chuck… I always know what's going on in Phil's life. It's about time they became public." Lil answered and gave her brother a thumbs up. He returned it.
"Mailmen know everything, bro." Dil simply shrugged.
"I was actually the first one to know." Kim told her brother.
"You guys all suck…" He crossed his arms over his chest and pouted making everyone laugh again.
Angelica shook her head. "Enough of Chuck's sparse knowledge about our love life and let's get back to work." She eyed the box at Chuck feet and shot him a dangerous glare that made him think of his childhood bully. It had him taking a defensive step back. "You better hope nothing is broken in that." With that said, she began her trek over the dance floor with the ladies on her heels.
Chuck waited for her to be out of earshot and nudged Phil. "Seriously, you're dating that?"
"No man…" Phil chuckled and patted the redhead on the back. Then his eyes were back on the blonde. "I love that..."
… … … … … … … … … … … … …
With the crowd settling down in their appropriate places, Angelica took the stage. Her eyes were a soft hazel that glimmered under the harsh stage lights. But only a few people were privileged enough to know that twinkle was due to more to the tonight's Chef.
Kimi was one of them, watching in awe as her friend seemed almost free. Something she was unsure she would ever obtain. Sure she was happy for Angelica and Phil, for Suzie and Chuckie, for every other sappy love story couple. But her own heart burned with every breath she took, trying to heal the wounds that were cut open yet again. If there were anything she learnt through all of this is that there is no escape. If your heart was meant to break, you couldn't stop it. If your heart was meant to mend, well you had to wait and see… Unconsciously, digging into her purse for a tissue, she felt a smooth sheet of paper graze along her hand. Frowning at the foreign object, she pulled it out to reveal the small mustard envelope folded in half. Her heart began to pound unrelentingly in the confines of her chest. She knew what it was, but her hand helplessly skimmed over the opening. She pulled out the ticket, reading the small printed words. It was the ticket to LA for tonight. That was about to leave in one hour to be precise.
Suddenly, there was an applause that broke Kimi out of her own world. Forcefully, she stuck the ticket back in its confines buts she never let go. Instead, she pressed it between her hands, wondering what the blonde had said. She cursed herself for not paying attention because she was writing the performance piece on the event. By the look of the handshakes going around, she was probably thanking the contributors. So that wasn't too bad. With much difficulty, she managed to haul her thoughts away for the director and focus on the event proceedings in front of her.
Angelica was back at the podium, standing tall and elegant. "I'd just like to thank our contributors one more time." Her voice rang through the speakers setting precedence for the applause that followed. She smiled, now. "As most of you know there is one last formality of the night before the food is served. Yes, I know, thank God." She said dramatically drawing chuckles from the crowd. "But I like to think of this as the most important part. Of which we give thanks to one of the biggest contributors that not only make a difference to the community by their wealth but by also contributing their time and skills. And I take great pleasure in announcing this year's Golden Contributor as none other than my own cousin, Thomas Pickles." There was an enormous applause that roared from the crowd, many people on their feet as Tommy's picture floated from the projectors onto the white screen. When the commotion finally died down, Angelica hung her head. "Unfortunately for us though, he was unable to attend tonight's event so instead Kimi Finster will be talking about him and what he does."
Kimi almost swallowed her tongue, as her eyes saucered. "What!" The whole gang was shocked themselves. The journalist getting a few wary glares from neighboring tables around them. She looked up at Angelica, who held her gaze with pleading eyes. She mouthed a 'No', but suddenly the spotlight was on her.
Suzie nudged Kimi with her shoulder. "Kimi… You have to go up there…"
"I can't…" She huffed. "What am I supposed to say?"
"You're the journalist, you'll figure it out."
Angelica spoke into the mike again. "Give it up for Kimi Finster…"
Then the clapping started again, Kimi glaring at the blonde's dirty trick before grudgingly walking towards the stage, the mustard envelope still in hand.
Angelica made sure to exit the stage on the other end to avoid any confrontation with the pissed journalist. She moved to the gangs table up in front, sitting between Phil and Suzie.
"What are you doing?" Both Phil and Suzie hissed together.
Angelica smiled faintly. "Helping…"
"Helping, how?" Suzie wondered.
"Just wait and see…" The blonde stated confidently. "Just wait and see…"
And that is what they did. All eyes were on Kimi as she took center stage. The journalist smiled weakly as the harsh lights drilled into her from above. The rest of the hall consumed in darkness that she could barely make out her friends' faces. The only face she could make out was the one hovering on the white screen in front of her. His smirk reaching the crinkles in his eyes. His eyes full of youth and life. Full of the less burdened man, she once knew. The man she knew still existed in him. The drumming in her ears faded slowly as she smiled getting lost in what she knew.
Her smile was unconsciously warm. "Thomas Pickles… What can I tell you about Tommy Pickles?" She let out a half chuckle. "Actually, a more accurate statement would be what can't I tell you about him. I've known him all my life. I read an article about him that described him as a God among mortals. And though I can't fault them about his skills in directing, it couldn't be any more wrong when it comes to the man. Tommy Pickles is human. More human than any of you can begin to imagine. When you cut him, he bleeds. Yet despite that fact, he always is going beyond call of duty. Just months ago, he created a Mitchell foundation in communities that supports children with unfortunate circumstances to further their studies in arts. He gave hope to a community that lost their rising star in an unfortunate accident. More often than not he always puts others beyond himself. That is what makes him such a great man. That is what makes him such a great leader. A great leader even in simple times in our little group of friends. Ever since I can remember, Tommy was our go-to-guy when trouble lurks, when monsters attack, when you feel as if your life is crumbling. And that is him just on the outside. There are many more layers to the director, that despite knowing him all my life, I can honestly tell you that I've only been privileged to them in recent months."
She paused as her mind raced through the past few months with Tommy. "I've learnt that he is exactly like the rest of us. Yes, I know that sounds absurd because he is always on the front line when someone needs to be saved." Her eyes went soft and her words gentle. "But other times, no matter how strong he appears to be… maybe he is the one who needs to be saved." She said quietly almost to herself, her heart resolving to that thought.
Her wide eyes rose to the crowd. "And… And… And, I'm sorry but I've got a plane to catch!" The mike made a horrible ping sound as it was slammed onto its stand. She sprinted towards the stairs as if she knew what she was meant to do. Where she was meant to be…
She reached the end of the stage only to be caught by Dil who was barricading her way.
"Move Dil, I'm gonna miss the flight!"
He shook his head. "I'm sorry Kimi but I can't do that."
"What! Why?" She struggled against him trying to get by. He simply grabbed her shoulders and forced her to turn around. Then her breath caught, her limbs dropped all fight, when her eyes strayed to the lone figure that resided in the middle of the hall.
"You did save me…" A familiar voice echoed through the building. The entire hall followed her gaze until Tommy stepped out of the shadows.
His gaze sharpened and focused on the journalist as if she was the only woman in the entire area. The slightest of smiles graced his face. Then he found a hand laid out in front of him holding a headset. He smiled at Angelica before putting on the mike. "Thanks…"
"Good luck…" Were her only words as she resumed her seat next to Phil. Before Phil could whisper a question in her ear she answered in a hushed tone. "No, I didn't know he was here… I just wanted to help Kimi realize what was in her heart." The Chef was about to ask another question, when she interrupted him again with a smirk. "Yes, I did steal your psychic ability." He just grinned shaking his head and settled for a kiss.
All eyes were back on Tommy as he stepped further into the light. "You did save me…" He repeated staring at the frozen journalist. He circled, observing all curious eyes on him. "You did…" He murmured into the tiny mike. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you've ever seen a dying man, it was me. A man beyond help, drowning in his own self pity." At the tiny gasps, he hung his head making his way up on stage. "Yes, I was always so in control of my life, of everything I did. I selfish and goal driven. Then one day it slipped. Just like that, me on the side of the road, holding a bleeding nineteen year old boy in my arms." Standing on the opposite end of the stage, his eyes glistened with painful memories as he ignored the hushed murmurs of the crowd, knowing he had to get it out there. "A boy whose last wish humbled me. That haunted me… until I found myself on a plane home, a broken man that never deserved the love and acceptance I received. By the friends and family I have a long time neglected. And I'll simply say I'm sorry…" He said it sincerely, his eyes lifting to meet Kimi's.
"I know it's open-ended because there are a lot of things I'm sorry for. But there are also a lot of things I'm not sorry for. I'm not sorry for wanting to be a part of your life Kimi. I'm not sorry for coming home." A slight curl of his lips became more distinct as he began his trek towards her.
"Because someone has reminded me that there are worse things than death. And that is living a life I don't want to. And I don't want to live my life without you…" He stopped when they were a foot apart gauging her gentle expression. "When I first came back, my reasons were unclear as to why it was. Even to myself. I never lie, no. But I wasn't entirely truthful either. But today, I stand here before everyone, ready to tell you some truth. The only truth I know. And the truth is that I can give you a million reasons why you shouldn't be with me, Kimi. But I can only give you one reason why you should…"
His eyes blazed through hers as the murmurs left his lips. "I love you Kimberly Finster… I've always loved you. Reminding myself of that has made me feel more alive in these last few months than I have felt in the last six years… So I repeat, you did save me…" His eyes doing that twinkling thing that made her melt every time.
A round of awww's sounded off in every part of the room that had Kimi shaking her head with a rueful smile. Grandpa Lou's words coming back into her head. Tommy Pickles was the death of her because she couldn't help the love for him that swam through her blood. And she was done trying…
Looking into the eyes of the man she loved, she smiled. "You know, I've been wanting to do this for a very long time." Then suddenly as Tommy's smile grew, his face was met with a fist straight to his eye.
"Ooo…" The whole town cringed as he stumbled back into the mike stand, barely regaining his footing before he crumbled to the floor. Okay, so maybe he deserved that for everything he put her through. He held a hand over his throbbing eye, reminded of the left hook she could throw. Blinking a few times, he turned back to face her again knowing he had to.
"That's for making me fall in love with you again…" Kimi announced harshly and stepped towards him again.
He stiffened, not even making an attempt to block the next punch he was sure would come. It never did… Instead, he felt soft lips against his in the most soothing kiss he ever experienced. His eyes shut, taken over by a warm sensation that flooded his entire body. They lips just held in that moment. Then she released him. He opened his eyes cautiously seeing a hint of wistfulness in the deep pools of hers.
"What was that for?" He asked quietly, when he finally found his voice.
Kimi could only smile and reached up to cup his cheeks. "That's for making me fall in love with you again…" This time her tone was soft and full of acceptance.
He's lips quirked as he was pulled back down to her lips again. His tender eye forgotten as his arms possessed her hips, deepening the kiss, tongues brushing in a promise of love. Their lips curling together into grins at the round of applause that echoed through the entire building. But their eyes never stray away from each other.
"I love you too." She said against his lips.
"Thank God! I was worried for a moment there…" Tommy let out a shaky laugh. "I thought I would have to find a ticket back to LA."
Kimi giggled. "Not going to happen. I'm not letting you out of my sight for at least the next ten years…" She buried her nose into his neck. "No more running away…"
He pulled back, until he was looking into her eyes. Unbreakable promises vowed in his. "No more running away…"
… … … … … … … … … … … … …
Hours after the event took place the gang found themselves all seated around the living room of the Finster's home. Lil and Dil were seated crossed legged on the plush rug. Chuck was on the single seater sipping his beer with Suzie snuggled into his lap. Angelica's head rested against Phil's neck and his arm draped around her shoulder on the double seater. Whereas Tommy was sprawled across the three seater and his head laying on Kimi's lap, while she held the frozen bag of peas to his injured eye.
The journalist removed the bag from Tommy's eye, running a hand through his hair.
"How does it look?" Tommy asked leaning into the comfort of her touch.
Kimi frowned at the pink swollen eye knowing it would be a genuine shiner in the morning. "Maybe, I could have hit you a little softer…"
Everyone just burst out laughing at that.
"That mean left hook?" Phil said, his voice full of awe. "Any softer? No way…"
"Yeah, I felt my face vibrate with that." Chuck cupped his cheeks. Suzie giggled and smacked his arm, affectionately.
"Hey, I'm sorry that of all the Finster's, I wasn't the one who was taught to hit like a girl." She smiled sheepishly.
Chuck stopped midway in his chuckle. "Hey!"
The music of everyone's laughter sounded again as Kimi smiled lovingly down at the man she loved.
"Unfortunately for me…" Tommy just laughed, wincing at the pain that shot through his eye. "I tell you what though… You're just going to have to kiss it better, every ten minutes or so."
Kimi pretended to consider her options. That wasn't so bad. In fact... "Deal." She made good on one right then.
Suzie cleared her throat sensing the new lovers needed some alone time. "Boy, am I tired…" She rose with a yawn, stretching her arms in the air. She pulled on Chuck's arm. "Let's go to bed, baby."
Angelica caught on too dragging Phil to his feet. "We should get going too."
"Yeah… It's getting kind of late." Phil answered with a yawn of his own. "Goodnight everyone." They left with Lil and Dil on their heels.
"Goodnight…" Suzie said as she yanked Chuck up the stairs leaving Kimi and Tommy alone in the living room.
After a moment of silence, they both let out a half chuckle eying each other out. Tommy sat up nudging Kimi with his shoulder. "They're weren't really tired, were they?"
"Nope…" Kimi shook her head with an unrelenting grin.
"I thought so…" Tommy returned the smirk. He took her hand in his and looked into her eyes. "So what do you think they were hoping to achieve by leaving us alone to our own devices?" He wiggled his brows.
"You can never know with them, they're a crazy bunch."
"True but they're our crazy bunch." Tommy whispered as he leaned forward, their lips barely touching.
Kimi felt her eyes slowly drop closed as Tommy's warm alluring breath tickled her face. "Ours…" She agreed against his lips, drawing him into a languorous kiss, her hands running through the dark locks of his hair. He pinned her down against the couch, his body pressed tightly against hers, as his hands grazed up her sides.
"You think this is what they had in mind?" He said in between kisses.
Kimi's hands slid down the planes of the firm muscles of his back. "Knowing them, probably…"
Tommy smirked, drawing back far enough to start a hot trail of wet kisses on her neck. Kimi moaned, arching her neck. Her mind in a delirious state of arousal and happiness. "Well, whatever they meant, just know that I'm at your service."
Kimi giggled, her thoughts turning to mush. "My own personal slave, huh?"
Tommy chuckled finding it hard to breath. "Yes ma'am, anything you want."
"Anything I want? Hmmm…" Kimi glided her hands back to cup his face. She pushed him back slowly until his hazy eyes met hers. "Tell me, you love me."
"I love you." He punctuated with a tender kiss to her lips.
"Tell me, you want me."
"I want you…" He murmured, the desire pouring from his eyes to hers.
She smiled gripping the back of his head yanking his lips to hers. "Now, show me how much…"
And that's exactly what he did, until morning light announced the birth of a new day…
… … … … … … … … … … … … …
A few years later:
"Meet your son." The nurse handed Tommy the baby the seemed to be suckling on his fist. Tommy couldn't help but beam at the tiny being.
"He is beautiful."
The nurse smiled. "Yes he is. You two did well."
Tommy gently pressed his lips to his baby's forehead and then settled him in Kimi's arms. "She did well." He looked at his wife lovingly.
Kimi smiled back, a bit worn out and sweaty. "No we, but I did do most of the work." They all chuckled at that.
The nurse had a clipboard in her hands. "So have you two thought of a name?"
They both looked each other. "Nathan." They said in unison and smiled.
"Ah, Nate Pickles…" The nurse smiled. They both grinned liking the nickname. "Would Nate like to meet his family for the first time? They are all standing behind the glass window over there."
Tommy smiled, gently picking up Nate. "Be right back…" He placed a soft kiss on Kimi's lips.
"Okay…" She smiled into the kiss.
He pulled back staring adoringly at his wife. "You know I love you, right?"
"You might have mentioned it before you passed out." She gave him a teasing grin.
He rolled his eyes. "I didn't pass out. I just had a spasm in my knee…"
"Of course…" She humored him and laughed.
He halted on his way to the door and shot her a pleading look over his shoulder. "We're not telling the guys, right?"
"Wouldn't dream of it…"
Six years after that: Tommy and Kimi Pickles' Home,
"But of course your aunt Kimi went and told the whole world." Tommy groused, staring at the new generation of rugrats seated on the floor who were listening attentively to him. As on every Christmas everyone had gathered together at the Pickles' home.
"I'm sorry but it was too funny to keep it to myself." Kimi giggled, nuzzling their one year old son coddled in the crook of her arm, blowing raspberries.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah…" He rolled his eyes, picking up their three year old daughter, Chloe and settling her on his lap.
"So are you happy you came back, Uncle Tommy?" Seven year old Maddie asked who was seated between Nathan and Brian. She had Suzie's eyes and Chuck's wild red hair.
Tommy chuckled turning to face Kimi, only pure love shining in his eyes. "What are you kidding me? Of course, I was happy. I loved your aunt Kimi and secretly prayed she loved me too. Turns out she did. So I peg myself the luckiest man in the world." He winked at his wife who rolled her eyes.
"Nice try Pickles, you're still not getting that extra piece of Christmas pudding…"
"Aww, Luke you want daddy to have extra Christmas pudding, don't you?" He tickled their infant's belly getting a tiny giggle out of him. "See…"
"Well, I'm glad you came back daddy, I would have really missed you." Chloe wrapped her tiny arms around her father's neck.
"You wouldn't have missed him, Chloe, you wouldn't have been born." Four year old Tyler snickered. He looked like a mini version of Phil with Angelica's hazel eyes and youthful attitude.
"What?" She gasped as if it was the most impossible idea in the world.
"Tyler, be nice to your cousin…" Angelica shouted from across the room, feeding their two year old Nikki that was fussing on Phil's thigh.
"Yes, mommy." Tyler cringed and Chloe stuck a taunting tongue out at him. Everyone simply laughed.
Tommy grinned again, looking at the room full of kids, full of parents, full of grandparents. Full of his growing family. "You know kids, through all of this, the biggest lesson I've learnt in life is that there are just some things you never grow out of…" He and Kimi shared a fond smile. "And the most important one is love…"
Thank you for reading…
Until next time
I'm just your friendly neighborhood