Secrets of the Chambers

DT Express

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Written By: Ultra Sonic

Chapter 9-Show Preparations and Gift-

I don’t love her
I try to tell myself
But you can see it in my eyes
So don’t deny
I can’t fool no one else
The truth is in the tears I cry cause

If it isn’t love
Why do I feel this way
Why does she stay on my mind
If it isn’t love
Why does it hurt so bad
Make me feel so sad inside

“If it isn’t love”
Performed by New Edition

Though I’ve tried before to tell her
Of the feelings I have for her in my heart
Everytime that I come near her
I just lose my nerve
As I’ve done from the start

“Every Little Thing She Does is Magic”
Performed by Sting


“Exams are over, thank God.” Ethan mused as he, Kira and Trent entered Hayley’s Cyberspace.

“I’ll second that.” Kira agreed as they found a table to sit. Though it was only a quarter to one, the cyber café was still as alive as it usually would be on a weekend. “Although I thought Conner was the one that was paranoid about bombing his exams.”

“Oh, he wasn’t the only one,” Ethan replied as he gestured to himself and Trent. “Some of us are actually better at hiding it than others.”

“True.” Kira said.

“Hi guys.” Hayley said as she came up to the trio’s table.

“Oh, hi Hayley.” Ethan replied.

“So how did your exams go?”

“Well, I’d say we did pretty good.” Ethan replied. “Well, as good as can be expected, anyway.”

“Hey, as long as you guys did your best, you can’t have done worse than that.” Hayley said to which the three teens nodded in agreement. “So is there anything I can get you guys?”

“Right now I’m good.” Ethan replied.

“I’ll have some hot chocolate.” Kira said.

“Same here.” Trent said.

“Okay.” Hayley said as she checked off her list. As she turned and headed back to the main counter, Trent got up from his chair to join her.

“Actually Hayley, wait up, I’ll give you a hand.”

“Trent, it’s all right. Your shift doesn’t start for another hour.” Hayley said.

“I know, but…”


Trent then began to feel somewhat tongue-tied as he tried to think of what to say without making what he really wanted to say obvious.

“Well…could I at least help out with taking the drinks to the table?”

Hayley raised an eyebrow and gave Trent a small smile. He didn’t need to say anything else to her, Hayley already knew, or at least suspected.

“Come on.” She said as she took him behind the counter.

“So have you got anything in mind gift-wise for you-know-who?” Hayley asked slyly as she took two packages of Nestle hot cocoa mix w/mini marshmallows, opened up one of them and poured the mix into one of two medium-sized cups.

“Well, I’ve got something I’m working on, but it’s still not ready yet though.” Trent replied as he did the same thing with the second cup.

“You wouldn’t happen to be second-guessing yourself, would you?” Hayley asked.

Trent sighed. “Well, I wouldn’t put it like that, but…”

Before he could continue, Trent then stopped midway as he saw Hayley looking at him with a questioning look.

“Okay, maybe a little.” He admitted. “It’s just that I want this thing that I’m working on to be good. Strike that, I want it to be really good. More than the other ones I’ve done.”

As he spoke, Hayley then walked over to a bin and pulled out two plastic spoons to stir the hot chocolate.

“Does she mean a lot to you?” Hayley asked as she handed Trent a spoon.

Trent didn’t say anything at first, he just kept his head somewhat bowed in an attempt to hide the small blush that was already spreading across his face as he quickly found himself getting more interested in the chocolate he was stirring.

“Sorry,” Hayley said, thinking she might have made him uncomfortable by mentioning Kira, even though she didn’t say her name per se, and it was in an indirect way.

“No, it’s all right.” Trent said suddenly as he finished stirring and placed a foil top on top of the cup so it wouldn’t spill. “It’s kind of hard to explain, but…it’s like…whenever I’m around her, or if I’m even just talking to her…I don’t know what it is, but I always feel…more than just friendship for her. Don’t know why it is or why I feel this way about her, but…I just do.”

“Well, if that’s the case,” Hayley said as she took the two cups and placed them on a tray. “-don’t let those feelings make you doubt yourself; rather, let them give you something to shoot for instead.” She concluded as she gave Trent the tray.

Trent was silent for a moment or two as he thought about what Hayley said to him, then he looked at his boss/friend and smiled. “Thanks, Hayley.”

“No problem.” Hayley replied nonchalantly.

“Oh yeah, one more thing…” Trent then placed the tray on the counter and dug in his pocket to get his wallet out. Once he did he fished out a $5 and handed it to Hayley.


“It’s for Kira’s hot chocolate and mine. Put it on my tab.”

“Okay.” Hayley said as she took the five and put it in the register.

With the tray in tow Trent came striding back to the table where Kira and Ethan were and placed it in the middle of the table so it wouldn’t touch the two computers. “Two hot chocolates, made to order.” He said as he took his seat by Kira.

“Oh, thanks Trent.” Kira said as she reached for one cup. “Oh damn, I forgot to give Hayley the money-”

“Oh, don’t worry, I took care of that.” Trent said.

“You did?”

“Yeah, I paid for it along with mine.”

“Oh, thanks. That’s sweet.” Kira said with a smile.

Trent smiled back and shrugged. “You’re welcome.” He replied as he reached for the other cup.

Ethan, who was watching the exchange kept his eyes glued on the computer and tried not to grin so widely.

“So how are your song rehearsals coming along?” Trent asked.

“Oh, they’re coming along pretty good.” Kira said as she sipped her hot chocolate. “I’m still working on a few of the hooks on the few songs I’m doing, but so far so good. How about you? Any new drawings you’ve come up with?”

“Well…sort of,” Trent replied. “I’m still working on them though (one in particular), but I think I’ve almost got them down.”

“You want to show me one of them when you’re done?”

“Definitely.” Trent said as he nodded and smiled lightly.

“Hi guys.” Hayley said as she came up to the table. “Mind if I take this tray off your hands?”

“Sure.” Kira said.

“Go ahead.” Ethan said, still engrossed in the computer.

As Hayley took the tray Ethan then cursed. “Damn it!”

“What happened?” Trent asked.

“Oh, nothing much, other than just getting my ass handed to me again on Xevious.” Ethan said casually.

“Ouch.” Trent said.

“Yeah, double ouch. And just when I was ten points away from beating the current online high score. Not 800, not 1,000 or 2,000, but 10!”

“Well, look on the bright side.” Kira said. “It could have been worse, you could have been 2,000 points away.”

“True.” Ethan said as he got out of the site and logged off. Once he did he then looked at his watch and saw the time. “Hmm. I wonder where Conner is.”

“Yeah, where is he anyway?” Trent asked.

“Actually you’d be surprised.” Hayley said as she cleared a nearby table that had a few pieces of food and soda cans on it.

“Do you know where he is Hayley?” Ethan asked.

“Well, I’m not gonna say I know for sure, but I think I have a pretty good idea as to where he might be.”

“Where?” Trent asked.

“Well, I think he went along with Tommy to the civic center downtown to help with getting the ‘Nutcracker’ show ready.”

“What?” Trent, Kira, and Ethan said in unison.

“Okay, now I understand Dr. O wanting to help (After all, Kat’s involved in that), but Conner?” Ethan asked. “What the hell would he be doing there?”

“I have no idea.” Hayley replied.

“Okay, Dr. O helping Kat out with the preparations is pretty self-explanatory, but why would Conner want to go?” Kira asked.

“Yeah, I mean, unless there was a girl over there-”

Trent then stopped himself in mid-sentence as it all dawned on him. “Holy smoke.”

“What is it?” Ethan asked.

“Do you guys remember last Saturday when Kat was telling us about the show she and the others are working on at the dance school?”

Kira and Ethan nodded.

“Well, Kat had mentioned a girl that was doing the lead role of the character Marie.”

“Okay, so…” Ethan began.

“Who do you think the name of the girl was?” Trent asked rhetorically.

In the brief second that Ethan and Kira thought this they then remembered Conner snapping to attention at the mention of the girls’ name.

“Krista,” Ethan and Kira said.

“Exactly, Krista.” Trent said.

“Well, that explains Conner not being able to be here to un-grace us with his presence.” Ethan said.

“Well, if he’s over there, let’s just hope he doesn’t make too much of a complete klutz of himself.” Kira said.

No sooner did she say that did she, Trent, and Ethan look at each other and smile widely as they tried not to laugh, mainly because they knew that at one point or another, Conner was going to unintentionally do just that.


“All right, here we go…” Tommy said to himself as he walked over to a hollowed-out plastic column and picked it up. Though the column was taller than he was, it was surprisingly light and pretty easy to carry.

“Hey Dr O, are you sure you got that?” Conner asked as he carried a box filled with props and other things he couldn’t recognize.

“Don’t worry Conner, it’s not as heavy as it looks.” Tommy said to his student as he hitched the column up a little bit so he had a better grip on it.

Lucky you, doc. Conner thought. I just wish I could say the same thing about what I’m carrying.

“Conner, are you sure you’ve got that box?” Katherine asked.

“Yeah, don’t worry Kat, I’ve got everything completely under control-”

He didn’t finish his sentence, for just as he was about to, Conner ended up hitting the front doors of the civic center hard, causing him to trip and fall, as well as lose his grip on the box, which caused all the contents to spill out and cover him completely.

“Oh my goodness…” Kat said as she walked up and tried to help him out. “Conner, are you all right?”

“Well, I’m not physically hurt; mentally though, well…”

Kat just chuckled. “All right, come on. Let’s just put this stuff back in the box.”

“Whoa, Miss Hillard, what happened?” Krista asked as she saw Kat picking up some props on the ground and went over to see what was going on.

“Oh, nothing much. Just trying to see if bumping into doors will give these props a confetti effect.” Conner said sarcastically as he took a piece of cloth off his head.

Krista raised an eyebrow. “Conner? What are you doing here?”

“Well, I heard from Dr. O that you guys needed help so I asked Dr. O and Kat if I could come along and lend a hand and whatnot.”

“When he somehow ran right into the doors.” Kat said as she took a plastic Advent wreath (which wasn’t broken) and put it back in the box.

Krista just sighed. “Conner, I swear, we ought to nickname you ‘Dopey’ or something.”

“Oh thanks, I’ll take that as a compliment.” Conner replied with a smile as he helped the two put the rest of the props back in the box. Once they were done he then picked the box back up. “Okay, this time I got it for sure.” He said just before he saw Krista walk over and grab one end of the box so he wouldn’t have to hold the thing by himself.

“Well, actually, now you do.” Krista said with a smile on her face.

Conner couldn’t help but smile back as they both carried the box through the doors with Kat holding the doors. Once they entered the building they saw some banners and many other Christmas things already placed in different areas around the interior. Since the show was going to literally take place tomorrow Linda, Victoria, Jessica, and Kat had already gone ahead the past few days and put up as many props and materials as they could put to get ready for the show. Rehearsals had also been taking place at a very vigorous pace over the past couple of days as well so as a result Linda had to require extra commitment from her students. While this did cause a few girls to complain and rant a bit, it didn’t deter them, Krista especially. If anything in her case it gave her an incentive to work even harder.

“Alright, so where does this box go?” Conner asked.

“You can bring it right over here.” Linda called from the front of the makeshift stage as she was just getting finished putting evergreen leaves around one of the columns. Once she was done she then picked a clipboard that was nearby and took a look at it. “All right, guess that’s that.” She said to herself as she reached for her pen that hanging off her ear and checked something off from it. Once she was done she then headed over to where Conner, Krista, and Kat were. Tommy had also joined them after he finished placing the column where it was supposed to go and wrapping the evergreen around it (or at least as best as he could.). “So what have we got here?” Linda asked.

“Well, we got props, props…and some more props.” Conner replied.

Linda looked inside the box and skimmed through some of the things inside. “Hmm. Looks like we may have ordered one too many things here.” She mused.

“Can we use them still or should we just put them in the back someplace?” Kat asked as she looked around. “I mean, from what I can tell everything looks show-ready to me.”

Linda nodded. “Yeah, you’re right, everything’s all set, but even though we can’t use all of the things in here, I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t use a few things in this box.” Linda replied as she looked inside the box again.

“But which things though, and where?” Krista asked.

Linda then stopped looking in the box and looked around the place before turning back to Krista. “Well, I guess that’s the million dollar question, now isn’t it?” She asked rhetorically as she looked at everyone standing there by her. “Well, I say that for the moment we just take this box and just put it in the back. There’s really not else we can do. And like Krista said, as to which props we can use and where we can put them…hell, even I don’t know.”

So with Linda showing the way to the backstage Tommy and his student picked up the box and followed her with Kat and Krista following close behind.

“So where does it go specifically?” Tommy asked.

“Bring it right here.” Linda said as she pointed to a small space next to some stacked chairs which Tommy and Conner walked towards and placed the box there.

“So we’re just going to keep it there for now?” Krista asked.

“Yeah, pretty much. Hopefully next year we’ll be able to use some of this stuff and not just have it there collecting dust.” Linda replied

“So prep-wise, is that basically it or…?” Tommy asked.


Linda then took a look around the entire set up for the “Nutcracker” for a long while, looking at every single detail, top to bottom. Once she saw everything she then turned back to the group.

“In a nutshell, I say we’re golden.”

“So basically we’re all set for tomorrow?” Krista asked.

“Pretty much.” Linda said with a smile as she and the others headed for the front doors. “So go home and rest up, Krista. We’ve got a big day tomorrow. And to Tommy and…sorry, I keep forgetting your name-what was it again?”


“To Tommy and Conner, thank you so much for helping out. You have no idea how much me, Kat, and Krista appreciate that.”

Tommy shrugged and smiled. “You’re welcome.”

Conner also wanted to say “you’re welcome” as well, but as he looked at Krista for that millisecond he suddenly found himself feeling…tongue-tied again. Fortunately he snapped out of it and smiled brightly at Krista. “Hey, anytime.” He said semi-charismatically, though he couldn’t help but feel a slight blush rising across his cheeks.

Okay, that’s it. I really need to quit hanging out with Trent so much; his sensitivity’s rubbing off on me just a little too well.

“Well, like I said before, Kat, Krista, I’ll see you two tomorrow; and Tommy and Conner, if you guys are able to come to the show tomorrow night, please don’t be strangers.” Linda said.

“Okay.” Tommy replied.

“Sure.” Conner said.

“Well, take it easy you guys.” Linda said. “I’m going to go find the owner of the civic center and ask them to close up.”

“Oh, all right.” Kat said.

“See you tomorrow Miss Dawson.” Krista said.

“See you tomorrow.” Linda replied as she went back inside. After she closed the doors Krista’s cell phone began to ring.

“It’s mine.” She said to Kat who instinctively reached for hers as soon as she heard the ring.

“Hello?” Krista answered into her phone. “Oh, hi mom. Yeah, I just got out. You still haven’t gotten the gift for him yet? Oh, man. All right, I’ll be there as soon as Kevin-it’s still giving him trouble?”

“Krista, is something wrong?” Conner asked.

“Mom, hold on.” Krista said as she covered the mouthpiece with her hand. “My mom still has to get a gift for my dad and she needs my help with that. Now my brother Kevin was supposed to come by and drop me off by my house, but his car’s still giving him guff even he supposedly took it to Pep Boys to get it fixed.”

“In other words, he can’t give you a ride home, right?” Conner asked.


“Well, if you want, tell them I can give you a ride there. That way your folks and your brother won’t have to worry about a thing.” Conner offered.

“Y’ know what, that might be a good idea.” Krista said as she uncovered her cell’s mouthpiece. “Mom, mom, it’s okay, I’m still here…No, I’m not being held prisoner or anything like that…Look, a classmate of mine just said he’ll give me a ride home…No, he goes to Reefside High…Yeah, He was just helping out with getting the final preparations on the show done along with Dr. Oliver…Yeah, I told you about that…Okay, I know, minus the Conner part…All right, I’ll see you soon.” Krista said as she hung up and put her cell phone back in her pocket.

“So what did she say?” Conner asked.

“She said alright, but to hurry up and not ‘dawdle around’.” Krista replied.

“Okay, let’s go.”

“Conner, hold on.” Kat said as she reached into her pocket and pulled out four tickets. “Let me just give you these just before you go.”

“Are these the tickets for tomorrow’s show?” Conner asked as he took the tickets she handed him.

“Yeah,” Kat answered. “I didn’t know if you, Ethan, Trent and Kira would be able to go or if you guys would want to, so I scrapped a few for you guys just in case you did.”

“Oh, thanks Kat.” Conner said as he pocketed the tickets. “Although somehow I get the feeling that they’re going to want to check it out too. But even if they weren’t-” he then looked at Krista with a warm smile. “-I personally wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.”

Now it was Krista that was fighting to keep from blushing slightly as she lowered her head slightly, but then she raised her head and grinned up at him.

“Be there!” She said in a mock-threat.

“I will. Now come on, let’s get you home before your mom decides to report you missing.” Conner said as he and Krista headed for the parking lot. “Kat, Dr. O, I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”

“See you Conner.” Tommy called out.

“Bye.” Kat said.

“So your mom’s that paranoid when it comes to someone else giving you a ride home?” Conner asked Krista as they walked off.

“Well, not really; but when it comes to jocks (no offense), she tends to be just a little bit weary.” Krista replied.

While Conner and Krista headed for Conner’s car, Tommy and Kat headed for Tommy’s jeep.

“So…is there…anyplace you want to go to or…” Tommy asked Kat in a nonchalant way, though he couldn’t help but stammer a bit.

“Well, I am a little hungry…how about you?”

“I’m a little hungry myself.” Tommy said as he unconsciously found himself staring once again into Kat’s beautiful blue eyes.

Tommy, you’re turning into a broken record, man. Either say something, or just go up and kiss her, take your pick.

Kat wasn’t faring any better herself, for as soon as Tommy’s eyes locked with hers she lost herself in his gaze again.

Oh, what the hell is wrong with me? Why can’t I just go up to him and…?

“Do you want to-?” Tommy and Kat both said at once which caused them to laugh a bit.

“You go first.” Kat said.

“Do you want to go to Hayley’s for a bite?” Tommy asked.

Kat just smiled and nodded. “Sure.”


“Y’ know, I don’t think this place could be anymore in the Christmas spirit than it already is.” Kat said as she looked around the café.

“You can say that again.” Tommy said in agreement.

“Hi guys.” Hayley said as she came up to the two.

“Hi Hayley.” Kat and Tommy said.

“So I take it everything at the civic center’s ready for tomorrow?”

“Pretty much. Or at least as ready as it’s going to be.” Kat replied as she and Tommy sat down by a table.

“Oh yeah, Hayley, have you seen Ethan, Kira, and Trent?” Tommy asked.

“Well, last time I checked, they were around-oh yeah, there they are.” Hayley then pointed over to a corner of the café to where Ethan was engrossed in the computer screen. Kira was sitting at a nearby table plunking at her guitar and jotting something down on a piece of paper. Trent of course was busy with his waiting duties carrying a tray with food/drinks and bringing them to people.

“Was Conner with you guys?” Hayley asked.

“Yeah, he was.” Tommy replied.

“Y’ know, I have to say, I didn’t think he would be one to help so eagerly with this.” Kat said.

“Somehow I think it was more for a certain red-haired girl than anything else.” Tommy said slyly.

“So is there anything I can get for you guys?” Hayley asked.

“Uh, yeah. I’ll have a…”


The rest of the afternoon went by very briskly, with Tommy and Kat having their lunch and chatting. Later after they finished their lunch Kat wanted to try her hand at the foosball machines. Having never really played them at all during his teen days (since he played on arcades mostly) Tommy wasn’t so sure, but after seeing Kat give him a sort of pout he caved in and played along with her.

After a while of playing (not to mention losing ¾ games) Tommy gave up and was on the verge of proclaiming Kat champion. But then when Kira, Ethan, and Trent (once his shift ended) joined up with Kira taking Kat’s side and Trent and Ethan taking their teacher’s, Tommy didn’t have much choice other than to join back in. When it was all over, the final results were with Tommy, Ethan and Trent winning 5 games, and Kira and Kat winning 7. Needless to say, the bemused looks on the guys’ faces were priceless.

It was getting late into the afternoon when Kira decided to call it a day and decided to head for home so she could continue to practice her songs a little more and also not to worry her folks. Trent agreed for he had his own little Christmas project to work on himself, so he went with her. Ethan, on the other hand decided to stay and surf the net at the cyber café for a while longer. Kat, feeling a little tired from helping out at the civic center (she had gotten there early in the morning to help finish preparing everything before Tommy and Conner showed up to help) wanted to head back to her apartment to relax a bit and also talk to Tanya. Since Tommy was planning to go back to his house anyway, he was more than willing to give her a ride back to her apartment.

“So, tomorrow night’s the big night, huh?” Tommy asked as he and Kat rode in his jeep.

“Yeah, pretty much.” Kat said as she adjusted the seat so she could lie back a little bit. “Y’ know, it’s funny, even though I’ve done many different performances over the years, I still can’t help but get a little…”

“-nervous?” Tommy supplied as they stopped at a red light.

“Yeah.” Kat said.

“Well Kat, I may not know much about dancing, but the way I see it, I don’t think you would be any less of a great dancer (or in this case now, a teacher) if you were a teensy bit nervous, in fact, if anything it would probably make you even more greater.”

Kat blushed slightly as she smiled. “Thanks Tommy.” She said.

Tommy smiled back. “You’re welcome.” He replied as the traffic light turned green and they were able to go.

“Well, at least the weather’s the way it’s supposed to be: cold, as opposed to Florida’s weather right now.” Tommy mused as they drove down the highway.

“Florida’s not cold?” Kat asked with half-sleepy eyes.

“Nope. From what I’ve heard on the radio it still feels like early June down there for some reason.” Tommy replied. “Now, it’s tough enough that the only snowmen people can make over there is sandmen, but for it to be warm enough to where you can wear shorts for Christmas…I don’t know, it’s just weird. Now it doesn’t have to be cold like up in New York, but come on, seriously, let it be a little cool down there too, y’ know?”

Kat chuckled lightly. “That is very true.”

“And speaking of Christmas…” Tommy then adjusted the volume knob as John Lennon’s “So this is Christmas” started to play from the radio.

As the music played and as Tommy drove he would at times look at Kat napping comfortably in the passenger seat and he would just smile. Hell, if it weren’t for the fact that he was driving the jeep he would have been happy to just stare at her all day.

A while later, Tommy turned onto Bullard Ave. and found Kat’s apartment with no trouble.

“Kat, we’re here.” Tommy said once he parked the jeep.

Kat didn’t answer. When Tommy turned towards her he saw her sleeping soundly on the reclined seat, her chest rising and falling as she breathed.

Tommy smiled as he gently tapped Katherine on her shoulder in an attempt to wake her up.

“Hmm?” Kat murmured as she blinked her sleepy eyes and saw a blurry vision of Tommy looking at her closely.

“We’re already there?” She asked.

“Yeah,” Tommy replied.

Kat smiled and her eyes closed once again as she fell back into a deep sleep.

Man, she’s really out. Tommy thought to himself as he looked from Kat to the stair case that led up to where her apartment was. Making his decision Tommy then got out of his side of the jeep and then headed over to the passenger’s side of the jeep. Once he opened the door he then unbuckled Katherine’s seat belt and then slid his right arm under her legs and his left arm around her waist as he gently picked her up. Kat’s arms instinctively went around Tommy’s neck as he carried her out of the jeep, closed the door and headed up the stairs.

Once they got to Kat’s front door Tommy pulled out a spare key that Kat had given him a few days ago out of his pocket and tried to unlock the door which was surprisingly easy.

Once he opened the door he then went inside, closed it, and carried Kat all the way to her bedroom where he gently laid her down on the bed. Kat sighed and blinked her eyes a little bit as she saw Tommy kneeling by the bed with what looked like a wistful look on his face, or at least that’s what she thought it looked like.

“Hi, sleeping beauty.” Tommy said as he gently brushed back a strand of blonde hair from Kat’s face.

“Hi,” Kat replied dreamily. “Are we…?”

“Yeah, we’re in your apartment.” Tommy answered. “You were pretty much out, so…I carried you over.”

“Thanks,” Kat said.

“No problem.”

If the walls were giant magnets, they would not have been able to pull the two away any more than a hair’s width, for it seemed that with every second Tommy and Kat couldn’t (or wouldn’t) seem to take their eyes off each other.

“I should…go.” Tommy said a few minutes later, unconvincingly.

Though she was tired, Kat took her left hand and placed it over Tommy’s left hand.

“Stay a while.” She said, a look of longing in her blue eyes.

Tommy didn’t say anything, but as he looked right into those sapphire pools he found that anything he would have said wouldn’t have come out. So all he did was place his right hand over Kat’s left one and smile brightly. Then as he got up Kat was almost afraid that he was going to leave but then when she saw him moving onto the bed she then moved aside so he could join her. Once Tommy was comfortable he then felt Kat moving alongside him, trying to snuggle as close to him as possible. Tommy then instinctively wrapped his right arm around Kat, and she snuggled against his right shoulder, feeling safe and happy as she hadn’t been in a very long time.

Though a small part of Tommy’s brain was asking as to what the hell he was doing, Tommy paid it no heed. While he wasn’t sure as to why he was all of a sudden cuddling up with Kat in her apartment, in her own room practically…for some reason, he didn’t really care. In fact, it felt…right.

As he felt Kat’s right hand encircle his left one, Tommy closed his eyes and let sleep overtake him.

And the late afternoon slept on.


How long he had slept Tommy didn’t know, but when he woke up he saw from Kat’s bedroom window that it was already night time.

His gaze then went to the clock on Kat’s bedside table and the dial read 8:51 PM.

I was asleep for four hours? Damn, I must have really been bushed.

As he looked to his right he saw Kat still asleep, still tightly snuggled against him, her breathing practically hypnotizing him as she slept.

As much as he didn’t want to wake her up (let alone leave), Tommy knew he had to get back to his house, so he reluctantly moved his arms away from Kat as he tried to get up from the bed.

He had just straightened his khakis jacket when he heard Kat’s voice.


“Hey,” Tommy said as he turned to Kat and smiled at her as she tried to focus her eyes.

“How long were we asleep?”

“I think it was about four hours according to the clock.” Tommy replied as he ran a hand through his hair.

“So you have to head back, huh?”

“Yeah.” Tommy said reluctantly.

Kat nodded slowly. “Oh yeah, just before I forget…” she then reached into her pocket and pulled out something before she handed it to Tommy.

When Tommy took a look at what she handed him he saw that it was the same kind of ticket that she had given to Conner.

“It was actually while I was setting aside some for you; Tanya, Adam; and Jason and Emily that I was able set aside some for your students. I wanted to give this to you earlier, but since we were busy, I sort of forgot, sorry.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it.” Tommy said assuringly as he pocketed the ticket. “Besides, you would have to hog-tie me to a million-pound weight to keep me from coming to see this.”

Kat couldn’t help but smile as she heard Tommy say that; inside, she was jumping up and down and screaming in delight.

“Well…I better get going.” Tommy said.

“Oh, right.” Kat said as she and Tommy walked to the door.

“Thanks for the ride Tommy.” Kat said.

“Hey, anytime.” Tommy replied sincerely.

Since she was standing so close to him Tommy was finding himself going into his eye-staring trance again. He quickly blinked a few times hoping to snap himself out of it. Fortunately, it worked.

“Well…good night, Kat.”

“Good night, Tommy.”

At that moment Tommy didn’t know specifically why, but for some reason he then moved his head towards Kat’s face and kissed her on her cheek. When he moved his face away he saw Kat looking at him with a light blush on her cheeks and a warm smile. Almost unconsciously Tommy took his left hand and stroked her cheek gently.

“Good night.” Tommy said with a small, gentle smile as he gently stepped out through the doorway and outside the apartment. Kat closed it slowly as she saw him head down the hall and down the stairs. Once she closed the door Kat gently touched the side of her face where Tommy had kissed her and was suddenly feeling a lot more awake now than she was a few minutes ago, and much warmer.


Okay, it’s official. I really am a broken record. Tommy thought for the sixteenth time as he stepped into his house, feeling like jumping three feet into the air but also feeling like he may have just breached a barrier of etiquette, though he wasn’t exactly sure.

Why the hell did I do that? Am I just wanting to jump the gun here or am I just insane?

Despite the fact that he felt that maybe he shouldn’t have kissed Kat on the cheek, Tommy had wanted to nonetheless, all cautions be damned.

I mean, what if-okay, you know what Tommy, stop it with the what-ifs, just stop it, man.

Once again, his brain was just on too much emotional overload that Tommy almost wanted to bump his forehead on the wall repeatedly.

After he hung up his keys along with his jacket Tommy then collapsed on his bed, feeling more tired than before, but since his brain was emotionally full, he was teetering between sleepy and awake.

And I still haven’t gotten dinner yet. He thought as he stared off into empty space as he looked up at the ceiling.


Sighing to himself, Tommy got up and headed for his portable phone and answered it. “Hello?”

“Bro, what’s up?”

“Hi Jase,” Tommy said. “How’s it going?”

“Oh, not much over here.” Jason replied. “Emily and I just got back from doing our Christmas shopping, and we were just getting finished with wrapping the gifts we bought.”

“Kat told me she gave you guys tickets for the show tomorrow.” Tommy pointed out.

“Yeah, she did. Well, actually during the week she had given them to Tanya, and then she in turn gave them to Rocky, Emily and myself.”


“Yeah, so I’d say we’re pretty much all set for tomorrow.”

“That’s good.” Tommy said.

Though Tommy was appearing calm and somewhat fatigued, Jason could tell that there was something in the tone of his best friend’s voice that said that there was something heavy on Tommy’s mind.

“Bro, are you all right?” Jason asked.

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?”

“Because you sound a little bit…tense. Either that or there’s something that’s weighing pretty heavy on your mind.”

Tommy tried to brush it off. “It’s nothing, Jason.”

“Oh, it isn’t nothing, bro. Come on, what’s eating you?”

Tommy sighed. “Where do you want me to start?”

“Hey, I don’t care.”

“Well, earlier today, after the last day for midterms let out, I went to the civic center to help Kat with the final preparations for the show tomorrow.”

“Well, that was nice.” Jason said.

“Yeah, so after we got done Kat and I headed to Hayley’s for a bite. It wasn’t anything serious, just me and her hanging out, talking, and playing foosball.” Tommy answered. “Even though yeah, I ended up getting my ass handed to me a lot of times on that game (even with Ethan and Trent’s help) we still had a good time.”

“Oh, I would imagine.” Jason mused. “So, what happened after that?”

“Well, after a while Kat wanted to head back to her place, so I gave her a ride back and Kat napped all the way there since she had gotten to the civic center early in the morning. Once we got to her apartment I saw that she was pretty much out, so…”

“So you pretty much swept her off her feet and carried her off in style to her apartment, even though she was napping, right?” Jason asked slyly.

“Bro, do you want me to explain this to you or not?” Tommy asked.

“Sorry man, couldn’t help it.” Jason apologized.

“Well, anyway, yeah, I did carry her to her apartment and once we were inside I laid her down on her bed so she could sleep. Right after which she then woke up a little bit and saw me, and…she asked me to stay for a little bit and so…I curled up next to her on the bed and we both napped.”

“Well, well, well, looks like someone’s finally taking some chances.”

Tommy just smiled. “So a few hours later I woke up and I saw that it was getting late so sadly I had to get up. I tried not to wake Kat up, but that was impossible.”

“Was that basically it?” Jason asked.



Tommy sighed defeatedly. He knew he couldn’t win this one. “Just before I left her apartment I…kissed her.”

This almost made Jason fall out of his chair. “What?” He asked with a very wide grin on his face. “You kissed her?”

“Yeah, I did. I mean, look, it was just a peck on the cheek, it wasn’t anything serious.”

Bro, what the hell are you waiting for? “Well, at least it’s a start.”

“It’s just that I don’t know what I was thinking at time or if I was even thinking at all, but…I just wanted to.”

Now it was Jason’s turn to sigh. “Tommy, take it from a married person: When it comes to things like that, we don’t think, we just feel.”

“Okay, have you been watching Star Wars again?” Tommy asked sarcastically.

“Sort of, but that’s besides the point.” Jason replied. “Look, let me ask you a question: Did Kat look offended after you kissed her?”


“And do you regret kissing her?”


“Then the way I see it, you didn’t do anything wrong. But I think since a couple of weeks have gone by, don’t you think maybe it’s time you did yourself (namely your heart) a favor and just tell Kat how you feel?”

Tommy felt like he had just been floored. “But…how…I mean…I didn’t…”

“Tommy, with the way you are around her (or at least from what me, Emily, Adam and the others saw when we stopped by last week) and with the way you’re acting right now, you really want to ask me how I know?” Jason asked rhetorically. “Now I don’t know the whole nine yards between the two of you, but from what I’ve seen…I mean, if those moments don’t prove what I’ve kind of suspected for the past few weeks now, then I don’t know what does. Hell, I’m willing to bet that even your students can see it too.”

Tommy sighed but he didn’t say anything, for he knew that his best friend was right, and not just about one thing, but everything concerning his feelings for Kat. And he didn’t even need to think about it all that much. The only reason (albeit a stupid one) he held himself back was because he wasn’t completely sure if she felt the same way about him, even though the times he had spent with Kat had felt more than just friendly interactions.

Either that or maybe I’ve just gotten too used to being on my own after all these years.

Knowing his friend was considering everything he told him Jason continued. “Tommy, I don’t think it’s really much of a question of how you feel about her, but I think the real question is are you going to step up to the plate and tell her or not? And considering the fact that Christmas ain’t too far away…y’ know, you couldn’t really think of a better time.”

“Jason, what am I supposed to do? I haven’t dated since Kat and I had our last date before she left for London, and that was practically ten years ago. Unlike you and Adam with your respective ladies, I’ve pretty much been a hermit for most of the past decade. What could I possibly do? And even more important, what Christmas gift could I get her that would be special and yet…from my heart?”

Bro, you really have been a hermit for way too long. “Tommy, I may have been married for several years now, but even I don’t know everything; and I can’t tell you what you can and cannot do. But I do think you owe it to yourself (and to her) to at least try. And speaking of gifts, I think whatever you get her would probably be great, especially since it would be from you. But if you think that’s not going to work, then just basically ask yourself this question: What gift do you think you could give Katherine that would mean more to her than anything you could possibly get her from a store?”

Tommy stayed quiet, but it wasn’t because he didn’t know the answer, but it was because he probably already knew the answer.

“Just think about it, bro.” Jason said helpfully.

After staying quiet for a while longer, Tommy spoke. “Thanks Jason.”

“No problem.” Jason replied.

“Jason, could you come here for a second?” Emily called from the living room.

“I’ll be right there, honey.” Jason called.

“Well, I’ll let you get back.” Tommy said.

“All right. Just think about what I said though, all right? And you know what, if nothing else, just go with it, follow your gut instincts, that much I can tell you to do.”

“All right, I’ll…I’ll think about it”

“All right. See you tomorrow Tommy.”

“See ya.” Tommy replied as he hung up.

After putting the phone back on the charger Tommy spent a long while staring up at the ceiling completely lost in thought, thinking about the talk he and Jason had and what Jason had said. Almost instinctively he then reached into his pocket and pulled out the ticket that Kat had given him earlier and looked at it for a while.

What gift do you think you could give Katherine that would mean more to her than anything you could possibly get her from a store?”

As he then turned his gaze away from the ticket Tommy then grew thoughtful, then when he looked at the ticket again a small smile began to spread across his face as he then realized what he had to do.

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