Tommy had always fancied Kath.
It wasn't anything special, at least, as far as he was concerned. Kath was just so understanding, and compassionate, and how could he ever forget the time she tried comforting him after one of his rages?
Of course, Ruth had caught on, and had tried to do something about it. But he was reluctant, and she was persistent. Tommy knew Ruth was afraid he would drive her and Kath apart, and that was why she tried kissing him on the bench that one afternoon long ago.
But Tommy didn't think Kath fancied him, and that's why he went along with Ruth's silly plot. Oh, he knew she liked him, that was for sure (she was always looking out for him, always worrying about him getting his favorite rugby shirt muddy, knowing he would get horribly upset if that were to happen), but he didn't think she felt the same butterflies he did. Like when he'd given her the Judy Bridgewater tape, and she'd just said thank you and kissed his cheek. He'd spent almost an hour stalling, hundreds of different scenarios and outcomes pouring through his head, and he'd been so nervous giving it to her, and she'd just accepted it so easily. No, Tommy had a strong feeling Kath only saw him as a friend. (Kath didn't seem to like anybody the way he liked her, now that he thought about it. She never seemed to be interested in the other boys. The girls would always whisper about Arthur P., and all Kath would say was, "He's alright, but he isn't my type.") It depressed Tommy, thinking that he spent all that time hoping and worrying for nothing.
When they went to the Cottages, he was still with Ruth, and Kath was there, too; distant, but still there. Tommy savored every moment he could get, jumping with excitement when he could go on a walk with her through the nearby woods. He'd been worried when he'd seen her with the porno mags, but was glad when Ruth merely dismissed it as her trying to learn about sex. (Tommy knew Kath better, though, or at least he thought so. He knew she was looking for her original.)
It always upset Tommy whenever Ruth made them have sex with the door open. It made him uncomfortable, and he was always worried Kath would walk by and see him with Ruth. It was stupid, of course – of course he and Ruth would be having sex; they were a couple. But Tommy didn't want Kath thinking he was Ruth's, because he wasn't.
Tommy still felt unsure of himself whenever he talked to Kath, but he trusted her more than he trusted Ruth (who would have simply laughed at any of his theories on Madame or Hailsham or anything, really), and that was why he told her about his theory on the Gallery and not Ruth. He didn't, however, tell her about wanting to apply with herand not Ruth. He didn't tell her that, if he applied with Ruth, they probably wouldn't have been allowed the deferral.
The Norfolk trip, though, was one of the best days of his life, despite Ruth's outburst and Chrissy and Rodney's obvious manipulation of Ruth. He'd had the chance to find Kath's lost tape for her, to be a hero in her eyes. Unfortunately he'd had to ask Kath for her help finding the tape, as he wasn't much of a shopper. (And he hadn't found the tape, either – Kath beat him to it.) But he was happy all the same because it'd been his idea. (Not to mention how happy Kath had looked running from store to store with him as they searched.) He'd been sad that the tape had been found so soon, though; he'd wanted the adventure to last forever.
And showing Kath his drawings had been one of the proudest moments of his life. He loved the way her face lit up when she saw them, and he'd almost lied when she'd asked if he'd already shown Ruth. That's why he'd been so upset in the churchyard, when Ruth had so blatantly lied to Kath and made her cry. He always resented how that incident had resulted in Kath leaving the Cottages to become a carer. Even though he'd eventually forgiven Ruth, he still saw her as the wedge that had gotten between him and Kath.
Tommy thought he was never going to see Kath after the Cottages, and that was why he was so surprised when he learned of her trip to the boat with Ruth (when he'd first realized he was going to be seeing her again, he'd unconsciously ran a hand over his shaved head, a familiar worrisome sinking of his stomach wondering what she would think, seeing all his hair gone). And if he was being honest, he hadn't been very surprised when Ruth explained why she'd kept Tommy away from Kath, or, as she'd put it, "kept them apart" (he wasn't sure how they could be apart when it was him fancying her, not the other way around).
He'd been sad to hear of Ruth's completion, but it barely eclipsed his joy of having Kath as his carer. She was such a good carer, too, so intuitive and so concerned for her donors. (Tommy had always known, of course, that Kath would be a natural – she'd already been so worried about him at Hailsham). When he and Kath started having sex, it was weird, at first, but he quickly grew to like it, ignoring the sad feeling of everything happening too late. He was happy to finally have Kath with him, to know that she loved him back, that she always had, even since Hailsham (he realized then that was why she worried about him so much back then).
Kath was his source of security, his solid ground when he wasn't sure he had a sure footing on anything. She kept him grounded, soothed him when his previous donations bothered him, and she read to him. Kath would read to Tommy every night. (As she read, he would always just stare at her, his mouth probably hanging open like an idiot, just studying her, admiring her so much.)
Learning the truth about the deferrals had been hard on Tommy, but the thought of the whole world thinking he didn't have a soul was what led to his fit of rage in the road later that night. How could Hailsham have lied to him when it was his only home? Hailsham had been all Tommy knew, and up until then he'd always considered it a safe haven, a place to look back upon fondly, remembering all the fun he'd had (as well as fancying Kath). Of course, Kath had been there to calm him down, and eventually they made it back to the Kingston center.
Tommy wasn't sure why he distanced himself from Kath in the last weeks before his fourth donation. Maybe he was trying to soften the blow of his completion on her, or maybe he was doing the same for himself. (Tommy wasn't sure what he would do if he couldn't see Kath anymore – she was everything to him, and he didn't think he could ever let her go.) He'd had to, though, not wanting her to see him weak, to always remember him as her Tommy, the boy who had a big heart and terrible tantrums. (If he was going to complete on this donation, he wanted to leave Kath with as much dignity as he could muster).
He would always miss her, though.
(In the days before his completion, he would always think of this moment after he'd already completed, where he would be walking across this big field with the wind blowing and the sun low in the sky, and he would keep walking until he saw a figure come up on the horizon. He would walk faster, eventually breaking into a run as soon as he was sure it was Kath. In his mind's eye, she would wave, and he would wave back. Unfortunately, he could never manage to get past that.)