Author’s notes: Credit for some inspiration goes to Nightscape by Kristel S. Oxley-Johns in the X-Files fanfic world.
Duty & Honor – Part 8
Tommy walked through the halls of Reefside High School, noting the looks from his fellow teachers and the general student body.
Word had spread in the week he had been given leave as to why the normally happy science teacher looked tired and despondent. He and his wife had lost their child.
Carefully weaving past a horde of football players, Tommy made his way to the office to check in before his first class. It was strange to be back into the swing of things, after everything that had happened, but what was more bizarre was the fact that he was finding the normalcy helpful. Distracting. Even… healing.
His eyes hit Susan James, the ever polite secretary who made sure the administration of the school was humming along without a glitch. The blond haired woman noticed his arrival and smiled sympathetically.
“Hello Dr. Oliver. We’re glad to have you back. How are you and Kim doing?” she asked pleasantly, moving to meet him at the counter, where he signed his name in a the daily ledger of teachers and assistance, showing that he was on campus.
“As well as can be expected, I guess,” he murmured out reflexively.
It was becoming rote now.
The ‘We’re doing better’ and the ‘thank you’s’ and the other various comments that people said when they were asked or consoled on a loss.
Yet in his heart, the sincerity everyone had was being lost on him.
For in the end, they’d never really known their child. Never seen an ultrasound or heard their heart beat. After talking more in depth with Dr. Button before she’d released Kim from the hospital, they’d gotten the impression that while it was a hard loss, it was one most couples would get over after a while.
Sighing, Tommy fought not to run a hand through his hair, identifying for all his internal strife.
“Are you ready for giving your finals Tommy?” questioned Principal Preston Ramsey as he walked out from his office, having heard the voice of his formerly absent science teacher.
“Certainly. I had them prepared… I have to hope they’re ready to take them.”
Preston nodded with a look that spoke of a long time teacher and administrator. Students were never really ready for their finals. And far less ready for what graduation brought them.
“Well then, first period is in five minutes… you had better get going.”
Tommy nodded, lifting his briefcase off the counter and turning towards the door. Before he got halfway there, he heard Preston call after him, and turned slightly to face him.
“It’s good to have you back Tommy.”
With that said, Tommy inclined his head in acknowledgement and headed out the door and down the hall to his first class. He had his team and the rest of the students to see, and finals to give. There was more than enough to do to keep his mind of his love, his wife still home and waiting for his return.
Tommy arrived home after a full day of finals and acknowledging everyone’s well wishes to find Kim where she had been most days since her release from the hospital – sitting curled on the couch. For the last three days of being home, Kim had gone from bed to couch and back again. She had appropriated one of his sweatshirts along with her own sweatpants and socks and moved as little as possible.
He knew the decision on her part to remain mostly immobile was in fact not physical more than mental. It was one thing that he’d done that Kim wasn’t aware of… he’d actually asked Dr. Button about what they, well, he would be dealing with in regards to Kim’s mental state in the days and weeks following the miscarriage. And she had come pretty close to describing Kim’s reaction exactly.
Loss of appetite.
And she barely touched him.
And out of concern, confusion and fear, he hadn’t really pushed the issue.
But now, nearly a week after the miscarriage, he knew they needed to address this, talk about it some more, and if nothing else, he needed to get her a bath, a decent meal and to wrap her in his arms for the next two days.
He wanted his wife back.
“Hey Kim, I’m home,” he announced as if it was just another day.
Her eyes glanced up, and he saw the start of a smile touch her lips, but it never made it’s way to her eyes.
“How was school?” she asked in a tone that fell short of any real interest.
“Good. I think Ethan will probably ace the final. He was buzzing through it like he knew it all.”
“Well, he is smart enough to do it.”
Tossing his briefcase to the floor, he moved to ditch his glasses and suit jacket. There were days that he really hated being older and more mature. Heading towards Kim, he sat on the couch beside her and reached out to catch her hand in his. She jerked away slightly, but allowed the light pressure of his hand over hers.
“I thought that I’d grade the finals later this weekend and that tonight I’d make us some dinner… how does that sound?”
“I’m not really all that hungry.”
“When did you eat Kim?”
“Do I need to go into the kitchen and look in the trash to prove it?” Tommy asked her seriously. He knew for a fact she ate only when he did, and then not much.
“No. You should just take my word for it that I did,” Kim snapped, pulling her hand from his.
“Why? So you can keep hiding that you actually aren’t eating? Just like you’re not sleeping and how you haven’t taken my sweatshirt off since you got home?”
“I just want you to leave me alone!”
With that she nearly jumped up, her arm swinging so it moved right in front of Tommy, and he caught it quickly. She spun her head around to stare at him, shock written all over her face.
“Let me go,” she said with a whisper that didn’t sound as convinced that she wanted him to let her go as her words did.
“No. We need to talk Kim. You can’t just keep this up. You need to eat, sleep… let me touch you.”
“Why the hell not Kim? You’re my wife, I love you… I need to kiss you, hold you… make love to you. I want you to smile and laugh and be happy. Is that so wrong?”
“What?” he stammered uncomprehendingly, the shock of her statement not fully registering in his mind.
Suddenly she was on the couch beside him again, her face filled with pain and anger and guilt.
“How can you want this?” she asked, her hand pressing against her stomach. “How can you want to be with the person who lost your child?”
“What are you saying?”
“I lost our child. You asked me to be safe and I argued with you. I was too intent in being a ranger, being myself to realize what I was doing… and I got punished for it.”
“Kim, you know that’s not true. Dr. Button said it’s common…”
“So? What if it’s not common. What if for some reason I can’t carry your children? I just… I think maybe you should have found someone else… married Kat or Hayley or any of the dozen or so women that have wanted you over the years that could bear you children.”
Tommy bolted from the couch faster than her eyes could track. She could see his body shake…
He looked down on her, his own pain, guilt, anger coming out… That she would even suggest that he should have married someone else infuriated him. Damn it, how many times did he have to prove to her that he only wanted her, only her, always.
“Kim, we both lost a lot of years when we were apart, and I regret that, but I would never give up the time we have now just to make things ‘easier’,” he said harshly. “I love *you*! And yes, having children is important to me, but I wouldn’t want them with anyone else. And if we have to adopt… that’s fine.”
“No buts,” Tommy said quickly, sinking back onto the couch, taking Kim’s hands firmly in his.
This time she didn’t pull away.
“Kim, look… I… we, we lost the baby. And while I know it hurts you, hurts me… we need each other to get through this. We have to if we want to keep what we have. And I lost you once… I refuse to let you go again.”
“I know… I.. I don’t want to lose you, I love you…” she said heartrendingly and Tommy tightened his grip on her fingers.
“Then let’s get through this together. No more hiding, no more not eating…”
“First, how about a bath?” he asked, looking over at her, prompting Kim to pick at his sweatshirt in sudden distain.
With that, Tommy stood up and helped Kim up, their bodies brushing against one another ash she came automatically into his space. Turning quickly, she headed for the bathroom, leaving Tommy to follow. He strode across the room and into the bathroom, finding Kim standing there, staring at the shower curtain , one of their bath towels in her hands. Purposefully he moved to pull the curtain aside, and turned on the faucets, starting the water flowing. After a moment, he flipped the switch on the faucet to redirect the liquid to the shower head, the spray hitting the linoleum of the bathtub with a sudden sound.
Turning back, Tommy found Kim in exactly the same position that he’d left her. Thinking that maybe she was waiting for him to take the initiative to undress her as he had in previous times, he reached for the hem of her sweatshirt and she backed up out of his grasp.
“I can do it,” she said softly, setting the towel aside on the top of the toilet seat.
Tommy nodded and stepped to one side, watching the way she moved. It was slow, halting and frightened. As if…
“Don’t look at me.”
Stunned, Tommy stepped back, his back hitting the far wall as he fought not to stare at Kim as turned her back to him as she stripped off the clothes she’d been wearing for days, avoiding any direct eye contact with him.
“Kim?” he asked nervously. He’d never seen him like this around him.
“I don’t… I, it failed us, and I hate it…” she stammered out, the last of her clothes hitting the floor as she covered her body with her limbs, the hot water steaming the shower curtain in front of her.
Once the words had escaped her mouth, he knew.
He’d known that she’d been wearing his old sweats, but it hadn’t been until just now, as she covered her body with her hands as he stood with her in the bathroom, the hot water from the shower running that he realized just why. She was concealing herself, hiding her body from both his eyes, and more than likely her own.
She was looking at her body as failing them, in not being able to sustain her pregnancy. And in that view, she hated herself. Had been covering herself to keep him and herself from seeing it.
She didn’t realize that he didn’t look at her like that… he looked at her, clothes or no and still saw the beautiful woman he’d fallen in love with at sixteen. He just had to assure her that all he felt when he looked at her was love… and passion.
“Beautiful…” he said simply, putting the whole of his feelings for her into that once simple word.
She quickly looked up and saw the smile in his eyes.
“You haven’t failed me.”
The look of pain he found in her eyes ripped through his heart.
“I love you Kim. All of you. And I want to prove to you. Let me do that?”
She nodded slowly and he moved to her, wrapping his arms around her waist, pulling her tightly to him. The feel of her there, so close and real sparked every nerve ending he had, and he moved towards the shower, intent now on getting her cleaned up and showing her how much he loved her, wanted her.
Barely releasing her for a second, he pushed the curtain aside and lifted her up over the rim of the tub and directly into the spray. She gasped slightly, and he immediately felt the hot water sluice down her skin and over his arms and dress shirt cuffs.
With that, he quickly stepped back, stripping his shirt, pants, shoes and socks and briefs before climbing into the shower behind her. Moving into the hot water, they let it soak over them. Reaching around her, Tommy grabbed her scrub and the liquid soap she preferred over his bar of Dial. Squeezing out a dollop of the lavender smelling gel, he started rubbing it into the sponge. Then in smooth, slow strokes he started cleaning her off.
“Oh that feels so good.”
“That’s the idea.”
Kim pushed back into him, letting him wash away the tension that she hadn’t realized that was there. She’d kept so much to herself, internalized it all, looking to shield Tommy from pain, blame, guilt… that she’d alienated him from her. They’d shared the hopes for their child together, but she had been hiding her grief within herself.
She had been being selfish.
Turning to face him, Kim took the sponge and wiped it across Tommy’s chest, seeing him raise his eyebrows.
“What? Don’t you like how I smell?” she asked with a real smile that lightened his heart.
“I’d just rather smell it on you than on me,” he replied simply, grinning back at her as he moved closer to her upturned face.
The moment their lips touched, it was if an electrical circuit had been switched on. They opened their mouths, allowing the communion, the reconnection to fill them as their tongues swept forward, meeting and retreating. Tommy dropped the sponge to the floor of the shower, pushing her back farther into the spray. As the water poured over them, their held each other tightly, healing the cracks in their hearts by simply being with each other.
Before things could get out of hand, the water turned cold, and they both nearly jumped.
“Ah yes, the small hot water heater,” Kim remarked with a shake of her head as she pushed the curtain aside and stepped out onto the bath mat beside the tub.
“But the place does make up for it in other areas,” replied Tommy, following her and reaching quickly for the towel to dry her, and then himself off with a cursory set of movements. “Feel better?”
“Yeah… I’m sorry Tommy, I… I was wallowing in my own pain, not thinking of how it was affecting you.”
“No, it’s not,” she said quickly, reaching out and grabbing his hands in hers. “You lost the baby too. I know you wanted it… and then you lost your wife…”
He swallowed hard and pulled her into his embrace. They stood there, towel forgotten on the floor and let go of the pain, put it in the past and found a way to reconnect with one another, to return to themselves.
“But I have you back…” he said thickly as he pulled away, running the pad of his thumb under her eyes and wiping away the tears that hovered at her lashes. “All I need is you. And someday, when we can both hand our duty to someone else… we’ll try again.”
Nodding, Kim flashed him an understanding smile, her hands caressing the bare muscles of his shoulders. Their nearness, the fact that they’d been together yet apart for nearly a week and their overwhelming need for one another started to take affect, and Tommy and Kim both found themselves becoming more than slightly aroused at their position.
“Let’s go to bed.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” Kim answered, her voice like liquid honey as he pulled her to him tighter.
With her verbal consent, he hoisted her into his arms and carried her to the bedroom, vowing that before the night was over they would be back where they’d started before this nightmare had ever happened.
The knock on the Oliver’s front door Saturday afternoon wasn’t unexpected. The team had been waiting patiently for Tommy to give them the okay to come by and visit. His return to school had been that announcement. Getting up off the couch where he’d been laying on Kim’s lap, grading papers while she read a book, Tommy moved to the door, and opened it without any hesitation.
On the other side, four familiar faces stood, looking for all the world like they were breaking in on their parents having a romantic moment.
“Hi Dr. O… can we come in?” asked Conner, his hand on Kira’s shoulder where she stood before him.
“Yeah, we thought we’d come by…” Ethan piped up, looking around the door jam to see where Kim had put down the novel she was reading and moved towards the door.
“Kim,” Kira said suddenly, moving away from Conner and nearly flying across the room to embrace the older woman who had been like a sister to her in her arms.
“Kira…” Kim let out, holding the teenager tight in her embrace.
“Come on in everyone,” Tommy announced, smiling as he watched the guys move to join in with Kira.
“We were really worried Kim,” Trent remarked, prompting a smile from Kim as she hugged the male members of the team, Conner quickly getting his hug and then shifting to wrap Kira in his arms.
“That’s guys. I… we’re okay… or at least we will be,” Kim remarked, looking to Tommy as he moved to her side, wrapping his arm around her shoulder, letting her head rest on his shoulder.
“That’s good. Things are always better when you guys are…well, happy and all,” Ethan commented, prompting Kim to look up at Tommy in surprise.
“They mentioned that before,” said Tommy as he answered Kim’s unspoken question. “It was when we were fighting earlier…”
She knew immediately when he was referring to, and nodded slowly.
“And from what I got out of Aisha while she was here for the wedding, that’s pretty much how it always has been. You guys are happy, the team is good; you fight, the team gets whipped,” said Kira with a smile.
“Which means that we’ve got a good chance to kicking Xondar’s ass outta town soon,” Trent offered up, looking from Kim and Tommy to Conner with Kira.
The mention of Xondar brought back for Kim and Tommy the reality of their other problems. There had been a lull in Xondar’s quest for revenge that had allowed Tommy and Kim to spend the time healing while the rest of the team had been studying for their finals. But whether it had been a time out for their sake, both of them doubted.
More than likely, it was the lull before the next approaching storm.
“You mean because Kim’s gonna be back in uniform?” Ethan asked Trent, trying to figure out the white ranger’s reasoning.
“Are you ready to do that Beautiful?” Tommy asked Kim suddenly, knowing that it was the one thing they hadn’t discussed yet.
“I’m fine. I’ll be going back to work on Monday, so if the team has to go out… I’ll be going with you.”
“That’s great. That means you can keep an eye on Dr. O, considering he lets you cover him more than the rest of us,” Kira remarked with a grin.
Kim sighed and looked at her husband. Some things never changed.
As she was about to open her mouth to tell the team one of the funnier stories about her rescuing the greatest ranger ever, the alarm sounded in the basement, permeating the floorboards of the kitchen and directing everyone’s eyes towards the trap door.
“Well, looks like it’s time for that ass kicking,” Kim said simply, smiling up at Tommy.
Then she turned and rushed for the stairs, her husband and the others following right behind. It was time for the personal chit chat to be put away for more serious matters – saving themselves from the being that wanted them dead.
FYI: The schedule will be erratic for a while… I don’t have a lot of free time right now, so the chapters will be posted within the 2 week window as I get them done. Sorry.
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