Title: "The Glory Days"
Chapter 3/?
Written by: Shawn

Summary: Kim accompanies Tommy back to California when news of a
horrible accident places a loved in mortal danger. And just how close
is to close when you're trying to comfort someone?"

Category: Drama/Romance
Rating: M. Adult language, adult situations, and sexual encounters.
Chapters containing sex scenes will be marked accordingly.
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to the PR universe. If I did I'd be
living in a mansion.

Timeline: Everything up to the end of Dino Thunder is canon. Kim's
background post-"Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie" is all my creation.
This story is set in January 2008.

Email: dayshawn1974@gmail.com

Special Notes: This is being written in Kim's POV, thus it is Kim-
centric with a heavy emphasis on other characters and relationships
as well.

Authors Notes 1. Sit back, relax, and pretend you're about to watch a
new television show airing its series premier. Oh yeah, its on cable.
It's featuring characters you grew up with and some new ones I hope
you grow to love. None of them are perfect, so don't expect cookie-
cutter characters who always say, act, think, and react in a Brady
Bunch sort of way. They're human and that's why we love them.

Authors Notes 2: All details as to the how and why things are the way
they are will be expiated in the story. Trust me, answers are coming.

Authors Notes 3: No chapter in this series will feature more than two
scenes in order to make it easier to update more frequently. Also you
might see other PR authors dip into this little universe from time to
time writing their own chapters. I know how and when certain things
will happen, but there is no definitive end to this series. It's
ongoing until... well, until.

Authors Notes 4: TK fans... its gonna be a slow burn. But you know
me 'wink'

Authors Notes 5: Expect in the near future for me to allow other PR
authors a chance to write chapters in this ongoing universe. I have
three lined up so far and there may be more, so we'll see. At some
point I might start taking applications if anyone wants to try their
hand.

Authors Notes 6: Most chapters in this series will contain only 2
scenes, but this one requires three. Other's may as well.

Beta Read by: The most amazing, beautiful, captivating, woman in the
world. My fiancee, Gina.

~~~~~~

"We all want to fall in love. Why? Because that experience makes us
feel completely alive. Where every sense is heightened, every emotion
is magnified, our everyday reality is shattered, and we are flying
into the heavens. It may only last a moment, and hour, an afternoon.
But that doesn't diminish its value. Because we are left with
memories that we treasure for the rest of our lives."
- Unknown

"For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are those 'It might
have been.'"
- John Greenleaf Whittier

"Love is friendship, friendship is love. If love fails, friendship
should remain. For friendship is the foundation of love"
- Unknown

~~~~~~

~~ Episode 3 "Whispers in the Dark"

An unseen announcer speaks over the end of the credits for the
previous program. "Up next, 'The Glory Days'."

(Voice over begins with the show's theme song, Bon Jovi's "It's My
Life" playing in the background.)

"Once upon a time there was a little girl growing up in sunny
California who wanted a typical life." (Footage of a little girl with
curly brown hair chasing an older brother who's stealing her Barbie
dolls, then kicking him hard in the balls when she catches him.) "She
entertained dreams of being the worlds greatest gymnast." (Footage of
the young girl, about ten years old now, racing doing jumps and flips
under her father's instruction in the backyard of a nice house.) "She
was blessed with the best friends a girl could ever want." (Footage
of the young girl, a boy with sandy blond hair, two others with dark
hair, and a pretty Asian girl-all smiling bright for the
camera.) "Like I said, she wanted what she got, a typical life. That
was until high school and the monumental occasion that opened a brave
new world: her first gymnastics competition." (Footage of the teenage
girl preparing for her first meet, looking nervous but
determined..) "Her first true love." (Standing with her best friend,
the girl catches sight of a handsome boy practicing during a martial
arts tournament. He takes her breath away.) "And the absolute most
shocking experience of her young life." (Black and white footage with
the words "TOP SECRET" scrolling across the bottom of the screen...a
Pink Ranger battling alongside her teammates...flying
Zords...fighting against and then along side a Green Ranger...gazing
lovingly at the white-clad martial artist.)

"Then her typical life turned upside down when her parents divorced."
(Shots of the girl seated on a couch during a heart-wrenching talk
with her parents, then a tearful goodbye at an airport with her
mother and another man.) "An opportunity of a lifetime that would
separate her from her friends and her boyfriend." (Images of Coach
Schmidt, the girl addressing her fellow Rangers, walking with Tommy
along the shore, then transferring her powers to a tall blond
girl.) "As one door closed, another opened to a new adventure that
sent her places she never expected to go." (Fast-moving images of a
girl getting off a plane in Florida...training hard...sitting in
classes...talking on the phone to her boyfriend...preparing for the
international gymnastics competition...meeting with the press...an
introduction to a new male friend...a deeply powerful kiss with the
new guy under moonlight...sobbing while writing a letter...more
training...the Pan Global games...breaking up with the new
guy...getting her first apartment...a tense meeting with her ex-
boyfriend after a trip back home...the two of them finally making
peace at a funeral for a dear friend...finishing college with
honors.) "The next phase in her already amazing life came in the form
of a great job opportunity in New York, NY." (Shots of her stepping
off another plane, of gazing out the window of a taxi at the Big
Apple while smiling brightly.) "As it often does when you least
expect it, her life began to take many new twists and turns."
(Meeting some guys at the office...them practicing together in a
band...performing on stage again for the first time in years.) "And
most astonishing of all, a one-in-a-million chance encounter with the
man of her... with someone very special." (Shocked expressions on an
older Tommy and Kim's face at a apartment showing, both worrying over
not being able to pay the rent individually, an idea struck up over
coffee, arguing over moving in and who's stuff goes where, accidental
awkward moments in the bathroom, an almost-kiss in the rain.) "She
wanted a typical life and yet lived anything but. Angel Grove was
chapter one." (Footage of Angel Grove High and the Power Rangers
Command Center
.) "Florida was chapter 2." (Footage of Coach Schmidt's
training compound, the girl's dorm room, and the beach.) "New York is
the latest chapter." (Daytime skyline flyover of the big city
followed by the grown woman walking the streets of NY, looking sharp,
her shoulder length brown hair blowing in the wind, determined and
focused on the life ahead of her.) (On-screen credits read 'Created
and written by Shawn'.) "That young girl who wanted a typical life
grew up to be me. My name is Kimberly Ann Hart and this is my story.
The Glory Days of my life."

~~~~~~

******

******

Kim's pearl white 2008 Dodge Charger
On her way home from work
Thursday, February 28, 2008 5:35 PM
New York, NY

"'Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars... And live in hilltop
houses driving fifteen cars... The girls come easy and the drugs come
cheap... We'll all stay skinny 'cause we just won't eat... And we'll
hang out in the coolest bars... In the VIP with the movie stars...
Every good gold digger's... Gonna wind up there... Every Playboy
bunny... With her bleach blond hair... Hey, hey I wanna be a
rockstar... Hey, hey I wanna be a rockstar." Damn, I sound good in my
new car.

Hitting yet another green light, my great day continues. I'm blasting
Nickleback's "Rockstar" with my foot on the gas, speed limit be
damned. Three whole weeks of long days and late nights at the office
pouring over proposal after proposal resulted in three straight
rejections of my team's finance plans for this bullshit apartment
complex in Buffalo. Thankfully, our latest loan proposal was accepted
today and we all celebrated by not doing one damn thing all
afternoon.

Sometimes my life is pretty kick-ass.

And that fat bonus check I have coming doesn't hurt either.

So my music's blasting loud, I'm singing along, and the green lights
seem to all wait for me today. And to top it off, I met a guy. A real
guy...not that I routinely just imagine guys. I don't. It's just that
I haven't had much luck with them in like..forever! I am the goddess
when it comes to having guy friends. I have so many it doesn't make
sense. Sometimes I think I have too many. But relationship-wise the
guy-fountain has been bone dry for so long my social life resembles
the Sahara Desert.

I was in severe Armageddon Date-Mode.

Enter Jack Carlson.

Mmmm, Jack.

The twenty-eight year old attorney with whom I've worked oh-so-
closely with for the last couple of weeks on this project, who always
brings me coffee the way that I like it, and who understands that
opening doors for women is a very big plus. My love for pretty boys
lives on with him and his mesmerizing green eyes that I'd just love
to gaze into all day. His curly dark hair is calling out for me to
twirl around my fingers, and he's also just such a sweet guy. We've
had drinks twice already after work and his conversation skills are
out of sight. Biggest shock of all, tomorrow night he's making me
dinner at his place!

Yes, a man is about to cook dinner for me, something that hasn't
happened since my father microwaved me a TV dinner when I was
fifteen. Sad, but true.

Like I said, I've been in severe Armageddon Date-Mode...possibly for
years.

Okay, let's recap.

Handsome, never-been-married nice guy with a great career, doesn't
live with his mom, have any kids or addictions, thinks I am
enchanting (his words, mind you), and is cooking me dinner tomorrow
night at his place. He has stated boldly that his goal is to romance
me.

I might have to jump on that.

Literally!

I'm jamming to my tunes and seriously considering getting laid
tomorrow night. Considering how long its been since I had sex, I just
hope I remember what it was I was good at and how to do it. If the
chemistry is right and the dinner is good I might take him for a ride
on Space Mountain.

Uh huh, you heard me. I call it Space Mountain. Hey! Zack says guys
name their dicks all the time.

We'll see what happens. Tommy-the-jerk sure as hell didn't mind
getting some a week ago. I know I shouldn't call him a jerk for doing
what any single guy would do, but still. He did it and now I might do
it, too, but not because he did it, but because I haven't done it in
a long time and I miss it. But definitely NOT just because he did it.

That makes perfectly good sense to me.

The beeping in my bluetooth ear piece lets me know a call's coming. I
tap the little button and say, "Whoever you are, you had better not
be calling me with bad news. I'm having too great a day and nothing's
going to get me down."

"Kim, you sound kinda high."

Rocky. Good ole' Rocky. "I'm high off life, mister. What can I do for
you?"

"Nothing. I'm just killing time until Aisha's plane lands. I tried
Jason, Adam, and Trini before you. None of them picked up, so you're
the lucky winner of the DeSantos sweepstakes."

"Yay me...Hey! Why was I your fourth choice? Shouldn't I have been
first? I actually slept with you."

"If you consider your leg brushing against my foot under the covers
one time sleeping with a guy, then I think we need to have the birds
and the bees talk, Ms. Hart."

Typical silly, sweet Rocky. Who I'm sure is nervous as hell right
now. "Every thing's going to be fine, Rocky." I hear him sigh as he
realizes I see straight through him and this call. I wouldn't be a
good friend if I pretended otherwise. "A little space is necessary
sometimes. But `Sha misses you and now you guys can work things out
in person and get back to what counts as normal for you two."

"Arguing and lots of make-up sex?"

"Yep, and the fact that you two love each other. You just took
forever to get together, but whatever floats your boat."

"Thanks, Kim." He exhales in relief and I hope I somehow made him
feel better. He knows I've spoken to Aisha so if I'm being positive
he probably figures things are going to go well with her. His
relationship with her is barely a year old. They hit a snag like
people do, she took some time away, and now they're ready to patch
things up. He loves her, but contrary to most women's beliefs, men
can have bouts of insecurity too. Not like us women, but they do feel
it. "I just miss her is all. Once you go black you never go back,
yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah."

I can't help but to laugh at that. "I know, I know. Just relax."

"So how have you been lately? Had any bouts of road rage? Any lesbian
experiences you videotaped and want to show me just to make sure you
did it right? Bone Tommy yet?"

The male mind is just stuck on horny. "I have engaged in no such
Tommy-boning, nor is any planned. Thank you very much," I explained
politely. "I'm doing good, Rocky. No complaints on my end. I just
pulled up in my parking garage and I'm exhausted. How about we catch
up this weekend, k?"

"Sounds good to me, Kim. Take care and thanks again. I love ya."

"Anytime, and I adore you, too. Just don't call me fourth anymore.
I'm a number one sorta girl." He laughed and hung up on me. Hopefully
he'll be knee deep in `Sha-love tonight. He and my girl deserve it.
As for me, I park, grab my briefcase, and that's all she wrote. I'm
crashing tonight. Gonna watch a good movie, get reacquainted with Ben
and Jerry, and lay around in my very comfortable and most unsexy
pajamas.

The long elevator ride to my floor is relaxing in a strange sort of
way. I can finally breathe again now that this long work project is
over with. It's the first big one I've been a part of since joining
the company and its success certainly makes me look good. My next
assignment won't begin until next week, and with my date tomorrow
night, I'm on Cloud 9.

That is, until I walked through my front door and felt this wave
of... I'm not sure exactly. Something intense. Then I caught sight of
Tommy on his cell phone pacing our living room wearing an expression
I can only describe as crippling. The color was drained from his
normally bronzed face in a way I've never seen before. I'm suddenly
terrified. "Tommy?"

He barely registers my presence when he looks up, but I can see
unshed tears in his eyes. He's shaking... I only catch brief snippets
of what he says to whomever he is talking to.

"When did it happen?... Are you sure?... How bad is?... Is she?...
But it's bad, right? Really bad?... What hospital is she did they
take her to?... I'll be there as soon as I can."

I watch the cell phone fall to the floor from Tommy's trembling hand.
I'm at his side that very second, grabbing his arm, forcing him to
look at me. "What happened?"

His eyes are vacant, his voice as fragile as I have ever heard
it. "My...my mother was hit by a drunk driver. She's in critical
condition."

Dear God!

My world slows to a somber crawl while watching my best friend's
agony. He's so close to his mother and I know this is killing him. I
can't think about anything except easing his suffering. Nothing else
matters except being by his side. "I'll make the arrangements, Tommy.
We'll fly out as soon as we can tonight."

******

******

Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center and Orthopedic Hospital
Surgical Intensive Care
Fifth floor
1250 16th Street
Friday, February 29, 2008 3:30 AM
Santa Monica, CA

It always seems that life chooses the most unexpected of times to
remind you that time isn't promised to you, and that no one person is
any more special than any other.

No matter what church you attend, or if you don't believe in a higher
power at all. No matter what political party you belong too, or if
you could care less about the whole governmental system. No matter
what country you come from, your race, age, sexual preference, social
status, or bank account balance, the grim reaper might have you down
as next on his list. It's only a matter of time. So I think the
lesson I'm supposed to take away from what happened tonight is that
each and every day is precious unto itself and should be lived to the
fullest. No one is guaranteed sixty years of a wonderful marriage,
amazing children, adorable grandchildren, perfect health and a fairy
tale ending until our final breath.

At the end of the day, our loved ones are our lives.

While my balancing skills are best put to use on a gymnastics beam,
my three-coffees-and-a-small-bag-of-donuts act isn't being aided by
my tired eyes at this extremely late hour. As if the agonizingly
long, last-minute flight to California in economy class that Tommy
and I got stuck in wasn't bad enough, this stupid elevator feels like
it only ascends one floor per hour. Then again, I hate hospitals. I
mean I really hate them. Despise them, even. When I was seven yeas
old, my parents brought me to see my grandmother one last time before
cancer claimed her life. From that moment on I have hated hospitals
with a passion.

I hate the way they look, the way they smell, and the potential
devastation that awaits you almost every time you get that call
saying a loved one has been admitted.

Alas, it's time to push my personal feelings aside. I know tonight
isn't about me, but about someone very close to someone I am very
close too. Elizabeth Oliver's car accident nearly killed her and that
would have killed Tommy and her dear husband. Some fucking drunk
driver slammed his out of control S.U.V. into her car at nearly one
hundred miles per hour. Its a miracle she escaped with the injuries
she did, but they're still pretty substantial.

At least she's alive and will recover in time, but it isn't going to
be easy or quick. The first time I laid eyes on Mrs. Oliver after her
surgery she was so bruised and was hooked up to so many machines that
I barely recognized her. Tommy was squeezing my hand so hard I almost
lost feeling in it. His dad and David told us as much as they knew
about the accident and her condition, but the sight of that fragile,
unconscious woman in that hospital bed will forever haunt me.

The drunk driver was killed on impact. That might be a blessing in
disguise for him seeing as how Tommy swore he would have killed him
himself if he had gotten the chance. That one outburst was the only
emotion as he's shown thus far, although I know he's dying inside.
He's suffering quietly, trying to remain strong for his dad while I
remain strong for him.

I feel this sense of responsibility and protectiveness towards him
tonight, more than I ever have before.

Thankfully, Tommy's far from alone. David's been wonderful and I
truly wish this first time I met him would have come under different
circumstances. He's a great guy and I see the resemblance to his
little brother in his warm brown eyes. As soon as Tommy called him
about his mother's accident, David was at the hospital within thirty
minutes and is still here eight hours later. His loyalty to Tommy
shows in how he regards his younger brother's adoptive mother as his
own. He's a Licensed Physical Therapist who's also in his third year
of medical school. His knowledge of medical procedure has made this
ordeal easier for all of us to understand.

While down the cafeteria, I suddenly felt the urge to call my mom and
dad and leave messages for them to tell them I love them and also
about what happened to Mrs. Oliver. I just needed to hear them, even
if it was only their voices on the answering machine. This tragic
accident has really shaken me up and I don't want to take anything
for granted anymore.

The bing chime precedes the opening of the elevator doors. I escape
down a long hall trying to ignore the sterile smell and forcing my
eyes to look straight ahead as to not catch any stray glimpses of
sick people in their hospital beds. I turn the corner towards
Elizabeth's room and find David and Mr. Oliver conversing privately.
My eyes search for Tommy as I pass the nurse's station. It seems the
kindly lady on night duty noticed, now favoring me with a
compassionate expression.

"I think your husband went to the bathroom."

Her assumption stuns me at first, and on more than one level. My feet
stop on a dime, but then I consider how I've closely shadowed Tommy
since we arrived. If it weren't commonly known that we're not a
couple, anyone could easily mistake our relationship. I don't correct
her, but just offer a polite "thank you."

I find it curious that I don't want to correct her, but now's not the
time to begin the long process of working that out in my head.

"Guys, we have caffeine and donuts." David greets me with a yawn and
takes the donuts while Tommy's dad, Robert Oliver, relieves me of
all the coffees and sets them on a small table. "Eat up."

A soothing groan escapes Robert's lips, savoring the hot coffee's
rich flavor. His smile is as endearing now as it was when Tommy and I
were dating all those years ago. "Thank you so much, Kim. For
everything."

"It was my pleasure."

"I think we all needed you tonight," David added while stretching the
kinks out of his neck. "Especially Tommy."

They both took turns giving me a big hugs that I reciprocated
accordingly. I'm suddenly taken back to the first time I was invited
to dinner at the Oliver's house and how they made me feel like family
right from the start. I was comfortable the moment I sat down,
despite my nervous jitters. Elizabeth even took me to the mall the
next day so we could get to know each other. God, I was so scared I
was going to say something stupid or walk into a door or otherwise
make a fool out of myself. We had the best talk ever over hot dogs
and fries about boys, school, dating, and make-up. It's one of my
most cherished memories. She was amazingly patient and completely
understood that Tommy was the first guy I had ever really dated and I
was a nervous wreck when it came to his parents.

Of course, a couple of years later I broke her son's heart with a
stupid letter. After that, I drank a big glass of coward and never
even so much as sent the Oliver's a Christmas card from then on. I
had always heard that mothers never, ever forgot who hurt their
children no matter how many years passed. Perhaps that's a bit naive,
but like I said, I drank a big glass of coward. Anyway, she called
the week I moved in with Tommy and we talked for two and half hours
as if nothing had ever happened. The past was the past and I had
thought about it a million times more than Tommy's parents ever had.

I felt like a part of their family again, and I really liked that.

"So when does Hillary's flight get in?" David asked Robert. Aunt
Hillary was Elizabeth's only sister and lives in Nevada. "'Cause if
you can't do it, I can pick her up at the airport."

Clearly exhausted after one of the longest days of his life, Robert
seemed almost apologetic. "David, that would be a big help. I think
she arrives at 10:00 AM. I'll get you her flight information in the
morning, but only if you're sure it wouldn't be a problem?"

"Think nothing of it. Just call my cell."

I leave them behind for a moment as I struggle to keep my tired eyes
open when footsteps approach. A hand brushes over mine for a brief
second and I know it's Tommy before I even see him. "Coffee and
donuts," I present to him as cheerfully as I can muster, but he
politely declines. I know this mood. When he's lost in his thoughts
he shuts everything else out, he's far from ready to talk about what
he's feeling, but that's okay by me. I already know what he's
feeling. I just know him. "Tommy, eat something, please?"

I get his mildly annoyed expression because even asking once is
pushing him. "Kim, I'm not..."

"For me?"

A heartbeat passes. Then another. I know Robert and David are within
earshot and I'm sure I've piqued their interest where Tommy and I are
concerned, but that's not important right now. I grab a frosted donut
and hold it out for my ex-boyfriend. This is pure manipulation and
I'm fine with it. I know I'm using that part of him that deeply loves
me in whatever way.

As if resigned to his fate, Tommy takes the donut and devours it in
three big bites. The scene makes me smile as I wonder if that's how
he ate as a child. I knew he was starving. Sorry Mr. Oliver, but you
can't live off worry.

When David mumbles a cute little "whipped" remark to Tommy he laughs
for the first time in hours. His dad does too. Perhaps its time to
start enjoying the fact that Elizabeth will recover instead of
brooding over how it happened. As strange as this sounds, it was her
air bag and seatbelt that caused her internal bleeding and broken
collar bone. Ironically enough, they saved her life, but according to
the nurse, they're the indirect culprits in a ton of severe injuries
from automobile accidents. Color me surprised.

Nonetheless, despite the bruises and surgery, Elizabeth Oliver will
recover. And that's worth celebrating when the time is right. For now
a smile will do.

"Bro, why don't you go on home and call it a night?" Tommy said with
his hands on David's shoulders. "Go get some sleep."

"Tommy, I'm fine."

"No, you've done enough. Your eyes are bloodshot red and you're about
to pass out. Please. Just go get some sleep. And thank you again. I
love you, man. For everything."

"Love you too, bro." David and Tommy hug tight, and then after a
polite goodbye to Robert and I, he disappears around the corner on
his way home. I guess men can only show emotion at certain times and
when a mother is in danger it's perfectly okay for a man to say he
loves another. Guys are dumb that way, but oh well.

It's so clear to me where Tommy got his walk when I watch his father,
even though they are not blood related. Robert dumped his coffee in
the trash bin and then came over to Tommy and I. "I've got a
comfortable lounge chair in Liz's room. I'm going to try and get some
rest before I pass out," he said to us in a way that I'm sure was to
convey he's going to be alright. The worse is over. "I suggest you
two catch some shut eye. I'll call you if anything changes, alright?"

I can see Tommy's rebuttal about leaving appear on his face, so I
speak up for him, taking his hand. "I'll make sure he gets some
sleep, Mr. Oliver." My roommate's not pleased with my answering for
him, but he holds his tongue just the same.

Robert gives me a fatherly wink, much to Tommy's dismay. "Thank you
again, Kim. I won't ever forget this."

We hug one more time and exchange goodbyes. The door to Elizabeth's
room shuts behind him.

I almost expect a fight, but a weary sigh draws my attention. Tommy's
eyes are shut and his head is bowed as if he's on the verge of
collapsing from the emotional roller coaster ride his soul's been on
today. I don't know why the urge to walk into him and lay my head
over his heart is too strong to resist, so I do it anyway. "You
alright?"

His strong arms closed tight around me, sealing us together, and it
feels more intimate than any sex I've ever had. I can feel his
heartbeat, and the sound is so comforting. "I am now," he whispered
into my hair, pressing his face there and visibly relaxing. We stay
that way for a time, enjoying the emotionally powerful connection
that's between us, the depths of which I'm still terrified to
acknowledge.

Tommy sort of guides us to the couch. We're leaving soon, but for now
he seems to have something to say. "Kim, I can't thank you enough for
what you've done. I mean, its a big deal flying all the way across
the country and I'm... I'm just really happy you're here."

`Where else would I be?' is dancing on the tip of my tongue, but I'm
afraid to say it. I'm also afraid of how it will feel when he lets go
of my hand. "That's what best friends are for."

He favors me with the most sincere smile... and a bit more. "I never
once asked how your day was."

"You'll be happy to know that the project from hell is finally
finished and approved. I got a nice bonus, so you're likely to get
one hell of a birthday present."

"Congratulations. You deserve it. I know how hard you've been
working." This feels nice, talking to him late at night. Its like
he's the end of my day. Poetic, and yet, meant to be. "So what's new
with Jacks?"

"Who?"

"Jacks," he laughs at me. "Your potential new boy toy?"

"Oh, him..." I'm clearly embarrassed that I forgot his name. I shrug
some sort of reply. "Things are... they're fine, I guess. New, but
fine."

"I'm happy for you. I hope it works out." Do you? Really? Your eyes
say something else. But is that real, or just something I secretly
wish to see?

I do need to get some sleep, I know that much for certain. "Tommy,
lets go." I'm smiling while tugging on his hand to force him to
stand. He makes an exaggerated pose, acting as if he's fighting it.
The nurse at her station is smiling at us again. "It's time for me to
get you in bed."

"Why couldn't you have said that to me when I was seventeen?"

There's that daring Tommy I love so much. "You couldn't handle it
back then."

"And you think I can now?"

I playfully swat his arm while remaining close to him. "You need
rest."

"No, I need you."

I'm leaning against him as we get in the elevator, my head on his
shoulder, still a bit high after hearing that line. "You have me,"
quietly passes my lips before the elevator doors close.

******

******

The home of Robert and Elizabeth Oliver
1551 Ocenan Ave
One of two guest rooms
Friday, February 29, 2008 4:50 AM
Santa Monica, CA

The last time I was up this late I was so drunk I couldn't see
straight.

That rhymes, but I'm so tired that even remembering the college
graduation party where I drank myself silly would take more energy
than I have to spare. Thankfully for me, that was the last time I
ever toasted the sky until I forgot where I was. My petite frame was
simply not built for a future life of AA meetings. Nonetheless, as
far as drinks go, I could certainly have used one tonight. Actually,
make that this morning, since it's almost 5:00 A.M.

But since I'm sadly devoid of alcohol, two aspirin and a glass of
water will have to do for my headache and restless state. The king-
sized bed in the Oliver's guest room certainly provides a world of
comfort, but I'm still wide awake for some insane reason. My body
feels like death warmed over and my brain just won't shut down. I
hate when that happens. And I chipped a nail today. I really hate
when that happens. Oh, and I also found a gray hair.

Old folks home, here I come. Now where are my false teeth?

Joking aside, since I'm only a couple years shy of thirty, these
things were bound to happen. And as those gray hairs appear, I will
cut them, color them, and use any other means necessary to eliminate
their existence. Yes, I am so worn out that I'm having this
conversation with myself. My body wanted to collapse, and it did just
as soon as I was in my PJ's. My head just won't cooperate to give me
the sleepy time I need. Add that to the fact that my back, neck, and
feet hurt. I need some really good ice cream, some really good sex,
and a full body massage, though not necessarily in that order. A
drink certainly wouldn't hurt either.

Oh well, despite this irritating bout of insomnia, at least Mrs.
Oliver is doing much better. That's all that matters to me. If she
had died... I just don't want to think of what that would have done
to Tommy. He's such a quiet, dear soul and I couldn't take it if he
lost her. Their relationship is a joy to behold, just so amazing.
Elizabeth's a fighter and I know she's going to make a full recovery.
Soon, she'll be right back to leaving Tommy those cute little
messages on his answering machine, you know, like reminding him to
wear clean underwear every day and that if he ever runs into Paris
Hilton, he needs to just keep right on walking. No spoiled, nose-
candy-loving socialites for her boy.

Okay brain, time to shut down. We've done enough thinking for the
next two years. Just give me a couple of yawns and I'll do the rest.

Come on...

Tick, tock, tick, tick, tock, tick, tock...

... FUCK!

I'm just lying here in the dark staring up at the ceiling and it's so
quiet I can practically hear myself talking in my own head. I would
have to pick the guest room with no TV or radio. Just my luck. And to
think I was pretty damn hopeful that sometime later today I would be
getting laid! Mmmm....Jacks!

A faint knock at my door yanked me from my solo pity party. Whoever
could it be?

"Kim, you awake?" Spoken quietly, just in case I was asleep.

I wish. "Unfortunately, yes."

"Are you decent?"

Ever the gentleman, I'm reminded. Pushing the covers back, I sit up
against the headboard and sigh. "Why don't you open the door and find
out." Teasing him is one of my favorite pastimes, but my teasing mood
soon faded when he carefully opened the door. Shirtless with just an
old pair of sweat pants, the shadows love the muscled lines of his
lithe body...he looks good enough to eat. Great. Just fucking great.
He walks in all Greek God-like and here I am with a horrific case of
bed-head perfectly complimenting my Dora the Explorer jammies.
Hey!...They're soft, comfortable, cheap and not one percent sexy in
any way, shape, or form.

Tommy's eyes grace over my sleeping attire. "Those pajama's are so
hot."

I'd throw a sock at him if I had only remembered to pack some. Alas,
he's exhausted too and even when I want to smack him, I still love it
when he's around. "Victoria's Secret was having a sale." I thumbed
the hem of my top for effect. "Did you know that Dora the Explorer
was named the sexiest female animated character of 2007? She beat out
Lois from The Family Guy and that hologram chick from Halo 3." He's
laughing with his head tilted to the side and that's a good sign as
far as I'm concerned. "Can't sleep?"

"Not even a little bit," he confessed, stretching his arms out above
his head, clearly enjoying the pull of tired muscle. Damn those
shadows gracing the contours of his tight abs. It's not that I'm
drooling over him, but I am wearing a pair of PJ's with a cartoon
character on them. I kinda, sorta want him to want me, even though
together-wise we don't want each other, in a relationship sense, if
that makes any sense. It's late and my thoughts are all over the
place. The sound of his voice clears my head for a moment. "Do you
mind some company?"

Snark just bubbles out of me. "Tommy, are you coming onto me?"

His arms cross as if he's mildly offended. "In those pajamas? No, not
hardly."

He's still smiling, so all's well. I pat my hand on the edge of the
bed, inviting him to approach. He does, then lays down sideways, and
it's cozy having him so close in the dark. There's a warm intimacy to
us that I've always enjoyed. "How do you feel?"

"I feel like I've been run over by a Mack truck, but I'll live." I
see I'm not the only one with a sore neck from the way he's massaging
the back of his. I know he's still dealing with a heavy heart too.

"It'll only get better from now on," I hear myself promise him. He
nods as if that was exactly the reassurance he needed. I feel honored
I have that affect on him. "I wish I could stay longer, but I have to
fly out tomorrow night," I unfortunately have to remind him.

My apologetic tone touches him. It's all there in the way his eyes
lock with mine and won't let go. "I'm staying until next Friday."
It's his turn to sound apologetic. He's staying without me and I'm
going to miss him. I miss him already. Then he adds, "I'm going to
miss you."

"And my Dora the Explorer pajama's?"

The pleased tenderness in his expression relaxed us both. "Yes, but
mostly you." We're quiet for a heart beat... We don't want to be
apart right now for whatever mysterious reason. When he sits up
straight, his mood turns sincere and serious. "You've been so
wonderful to me and my family today, Kim. I really needed you and you
came through for me. I won't ever forget that. It's a big deal just
picking up and flying across the country on a moment's notice. I
can't tell you how much I appreciate what you did."

His praise humbles me. "You would have done the same for me."

"In a heartbeat."

I know that. I've always known that. He's as reliable as they come
and a dear friend. My dearest friend these days, if I'm honest with
myself. Maybe even more. It seems the late hours have softened my
hard-nosed stance on thinking about him in inappropriate ways. I'm
acutely aware of his breathing and how close my foot is to his thigh.
And I can feel his gaze fall all over me. I like it more than I care
to admit. "Where's your shirt?" His smirk means he either forgot it
or wanted to get a reaction out of me. Neither of us will follow up
on my question. It'll just hang in the air like so many other things
between us.

Then out of the blue the jerk tickles my foot, causing me to
squirm. "I always knew you had a foot fetish. I caught you staring at
my red patent leather stiletto heels once and..." Okay, that's so not
fair. Where did this man learn to give such a soothing foot massage
and can I send the girl who taught him a bouquet of roses? The
wonderful pleasure he's working through my feet has me almost
humming. Oh boy, I am humming. This man is working some
magic. "Indulge that fetish of your's all you want."

His soft laughter in the dark charms me. "Feel good?"

"Better than good..."

"I always knew I could please you in bed."

I give him the middle finger for that one, despite agreeing silently.
I'm blessed with a couple more minutes of foot massage bliss until he
lets them go and moves over the bed. When he invades my personal
space I can't resist my lips curling seductively. He gently brushed
some of my hair off my neck. The tenderness of his affection made me
blush. "What are you doing?"

"Your diamond earrings," he gave a nod, all the while his warm hand
remained on my neck, his thumb grazing softly over my cheek. Why is
my heart beating so fast? "I love the design. Where did you get
them?"

"You bought them for me for Christmas." He mocks me by acting as if
he forgot. It dawns on me that he's so close I can smell mint on his
breath. He brushed his teeth before coming in here, and now I'm
ducking my head because of the simmering tension growing between us.
Have I gone without sex for so long that a simple caress on the back
of my neck has me practically purring? "That's was a pretty lame
excuse to use to get close to me."

"I thought I was already close to you."

"I mean this close." My voice turned all whisperish without my
consent, and he's smiling that gorgeous smile of his. The one that
used to make my tummy do back flips. The one that still does, despite
our friendship. I should probably ask if caressing your best friend's
neck while staring deeply into her eyes is in the "friendship"
handbook. He's doing that too. "Are you going to stop that?"

"Do you want me to?"

I shouldn't want what I want. "It feels good, but..."

"You'd rather Jacks was the one touching you?"

I blink at his assumption. "I'm not opposed to it." His hand moves
immediately from my neck. He has the nerve to look mildly
annoyed. "Considering your romp last week with Sara you have no..."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Don't play dumb."

He doesn't, leaving any retort buried in his throat. We can't talk
about the possessiveness we still carry toward each other. I can't
admit that I lost sleep over him banging Sara. It did bother me. And
he can't tell me, even though his eyes betray him, that my interest
in Jacks bothers him.

"Just be careful," he finally offers, a somewhat guilty expression on
his face. Good. "Do we need to have the `birds and the bees' talk?"

My eyes roll. "I know exactly where everything goes, what it does,
and how it feels, Dad."

"Oh, so I'm not even your brother anymore?"

"Are we about to bring up the letter again, dear brother?" We're
enjoying the easy flirtatious banter that's just a part of who we are
to each other. "Since neither of us can get to sleep, I want to ask
you a question."

We rearrange ourselves, lying down facing each other. "Ask away."

"Tell me about your first time." He wasn't expecting that, clearly
curious as to why I asked. Join the club. I just always wanted to
know.

"It was with Katherine."

"I know." And still I hate that despite all the years that have
passed and the life I've lived. "When, where, and why?"

His eyes shut as he reminisces back to the last day of his innocence,
and I'm not sure if I like the expression on his face, like a `once
upon a time' fondness. "My parents were out of town one weekend, so
Kat lied to her parents about staying over at Tanya's house. We
hadn't planned for that night to be our first time, but she was on
the pill and I had condoms. I think after dating for five months we
knew something was going to happen sooner or later. We were each
other's first that night." He paused for a moment. "It was very
special."

At the end of the day, I'm happy he enjoyed his first sexual
experience and that it was with someone he loved at the time. Even if
I still feel a pang or two of jealousy. "I suppose you want to hear
about mine now?"

He shook his head. "No."

"Why not?"

He was smiling as he said, "because a very immature part of me is
still jealous your first time wasn't with me, alright? There, I said
it!"

"And you think I'm not jealous of you and Kat?"

"You could have had me, but you dumped me. So no, I doubt my first
time means to you what yours means to me."

"You're wrong." It's so stupid for us to be having this argument
after all the years that have passed, and yet some old wounds never
fade. Some regrets, while shaping who you ultimately become, are
still that: regrets. While looking at each other, I sorely wish I
knew what he was thinking, what he was feeling. "My first time wasn't
a bad experience at all, Tommy, but I do wish it had been with you. I
always imagined you to be my first, and I'll always regret that you
weren't."

"Likewise." I suddenly feel vindicated in some strange way. At one
time I was the center of his universe and I miss being the center of
someone's universe. I know he does too. That's why we're lying here
together instead of him being here with a girlfriend and me being
back home with a boyfriend. We haven't found those special someones
just yet, but we have each other and that's enough for now.

Tommy lifted my chin with the tip of his finger."You're quiet."

"So are you." It's dark, so very late, and we've just shared a very
emotionally draining day. The bond between is so strong, no matter
how different it is from in the past, and some day it will change
again when one of us falls in love with someone else. For now,
though, he's mine. I don't like to think about the day that I'll have
to share him, or worse, let him go. I wonder if he ever thinks of me
that way. What happens when the day arrives that I can't just up and
hop on a plane because he needs me?

"What's on your mind, Kim?"

"It's late and I'm zoning out or something."

"Do you want me to read you a bedtime story?" he teases.

I'm playing with fire tonight and just can't seem to stop. "You
finally get me in bed and you want to read to me?"

"I didn't know I had any other options."

I should tell him he doesn't. I should wipe that smirk off his
handsome face with a witty comeback. I need to create some distance
between us because he looks so warm and inviting to me tonight. I'm
lonely and tired and he knows what makes me laugh and cry. There's a
part of me that wants to be touched so badly. Maybe that's why I ask
him the very last thing I should've asked. "What option would you
want?"

His answer came by drawing me to him and curling his powerful arms
around my waist. I didn't pull away. I couldn't. I savored the
feeling of being pressed snugly to his chest, soaking up the heat of
his body. It felt so good my eyes involuntarily closed. My cool
facade is as broken as my will to resist this elemental pull I feel
towards him tonight. All the banter and flirting have led to this
moment. I'm lying in his arms while holding him in mine. His embrace
shouldn't feel this alluring. The adoration I feel from him makes me
feel so beautiful.

We're speechless in the dark, conveying messages through touch. Yes,
I do want you. Yes, this is a mistake. Yes, I know you want me too.

And I love you.

My lips parted in silence. I couldn't tell him to stop because I
didn't want to. Tommy bowed his head and I felt his lips brush once,
then once again, over my throat. I swear my whole body quivered. His
tender kisses traveled slowly, giving me ample time to push him away,
until they reached my neck, just over my pulse point. The mattress
dipped as he positioned above me, his solid weight covering my body.

Where I should have pushed him away, I felt my hand cup the back of
his head, holding him to me while he French kissed the length of my
neck, his heart beating against mine. The feeling of his open mouth
making love to my skin had my hands roaming over his muscled back. I
was moaning into his ear, and I know it turned him on. I wanted him
to burn for me. Lord have mercy...shudders literally rippled up and
down my spine courtesy of his agile tongue.

I can feel how badly he wants me. Pressed against where my body
desires him, my mind flashes images of him surging inside me. I'm
moaning when his mouth crosses over my throat again. My legs part,
allowing him to center between them. I can feel all of him, and God,
it feels so good. His kisses trail over my jaw, edging closer to my
lips. I feel his forehead press to mine, the warmth of his breath
caressing my mouth.

I have simply lost my mind. Desire's burning me from the inside out.
I gave up loving this man so many years ago, but I still know his
soul as well as I know my own. Dammit, I do want him.

I want him all over me... inside me... marking me as his.

But this is wrong. The reasons are all messed up. No matter what my
body and heart are begging for, I know the real reason we're here,
just seconds away from making love for the very first time. I might
be as far from perfect as a person can be, but I manage to produce
well under pressure. I'm going to do the right thing no matter how
wrong it feels. This is going to kill me, but I gently push at his
chest. His body lifts slowly as our eyes meet. Mine, apologetic. His,
dark with passion.

"Kim, please."

Even his voice is making love to me. "Tommy, I do love you. I always
have and I always will, but this isn't us." He's waiting for me to
explain while I try to sort out a jumble of thoughts while wanting to
rip his sweats off and let him fuck my brains out. "We've seen each
other in our underwear plenty of times. We get annoyed when the other
person has a great date. We've had accidental shower mishaps and
every other TV show cliche that precedes a couple getting together.
We never once stepped over the line, not in over half a year's time.
But tonight we're so connected over your mom's accident, the stress
and the closeness we shared has our emotions seeking some sort of
comfort. That's still not reason enough for us to make love. That's
the wrong reason, just like sleeping together because we're lonely or
horny, or just bored, would be the wrong reason. We've been living
together for months now with nothing stopping us from doing anything.
Ask yourself why tonight of all nights this happens?"

I can see the war raging in his eyes. He can't stand my reasoning,
and yet it hits close to home. I can tell he almost hates that he's
revealed that he wants me. Join the club. "I could never just have
sex with you, Kim. Not with you. Not like that. I'd want it to mean
so much more." I know what he means, and I instantly miss his body
when he moves off me. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be. You didn't do anything I didn't want you to do." He's lost
in his thoughts, probably trying to process what almost happened. "I
just don't want us to do something that might ruin our friendship. I
value you in my life, Tommy. I don't want to mess up what we have by
indulging our bodies instead of using our heads."

A smile rises over his face. "I value you too, Kim. It's just...
you're incredibly beautiful and sexy. I lost my head."

And I was about to lose my top. Thank goodness I don't say that out
loud. "It's cool. How about we just chalk it up as one of those crazy
moments?"

"Sounds like a plan."

My body is still humming, but I'm finally yawning. I can feel
sleepiness taking over at last. When I sense Tommy about to get up
off the bed, my hand grabs his. I don't verbally ask, but with a
simple tug he descends under the covers and curls around me in a
lose, but affectionate, embrace.

I needed him tonight as badly as he needed me. Whatever that
ultimately means is a topic for another day. But for tonight, I need
to know he's alright. I want him close. I want to be there for him.

"Kim?" he whispers in the dark.

"Hmmm?"

"You're going to regret that."

Just before I drift off into sleep, I whisper back with a smile, "I
already do."

******

******

(Closing credits roll while voice over previewing the next episode
begins)
'Next on The Glory Days.' ""

Suggested listening music for Episode 3:

1. It's My Life Bon Jovi *
2. Simple Man Amy Jo Johnson *
3. Through The Rain Mariah Carey *
4. Ghosts Nick Lachey
5. Alicia Keys - Diary
6: Nickleback - Far Away
7: Phil Collins - One More Night