failegaidin: (Default)
Yes! I finally finished Kony! Hope you all enjoy!!! Definitely NC-17.

            As soon as Kim was gone, Jack got into his car, automatically heading for Chloe's. He needed to tell her what had just happened, and she was the only one who could confirm his suspicions.
            He knocked on the door and waited anxiously, his brain still struggling to deal with everything. Never had he thought that Kim might fall in love with Tony. But at the same time, he wasn't as surprised as he thought he would be. They spent all their time together, they told each other everything, and they made each other laugh – something that both of them desperately needed.
            Chloe opened the door then, interrupting his thoughts. He stared at her for a minute, his reasons for coming momentarily forgotten. But then he could see Kim's tear-stained face again, and he shook himself out of his reverie.
            "We need to talk."
            Chloe's expression grew wary. "What did I do?"
            Jack frowned in confusion. "What do you mean?"
            "We need to talk usually means it's going to be a painful and awkward conversation where you tell someone something they don't want to hear."
            Jack gave her a soft smile. "Relax, Chloe. This has nothing to do with us."
            "Oh." He could have sworn he saw a flash of disappointment in her eyes. "Come in, then."
            As she shut the door behind him, he turned to look at her.
            "I know about Kim and Tony."
            Her eyes widened. "Oh."
            He saw her flounder for something to say. Reaching out, he gently took her hand and led her over to the couch. They sat down, Jack still holding her hand.
            "Kim told me she's in love with Tony," he began quietly.
            "Are you okay with that?"
            He leaned back against the couch, nodding. "Yeah. I think I am. It's a little…unnerving. He's my best friend. He's older than her." Jack took a deep breath. "But there's no one I'd trust more with her. And he makes her happy…She's not my little girl anymore. I can't make her decisions for her. And if Tony is what she wants…well, she's still my daughter and he's still my best friend. I'll just have to deal with it."
            When he finished talking, he looked over to see Chloe smiling warmly at him.
            "I'm very proud of you."
            "But I have something to ask you, Chloe."
            She frowned. "What?"
            "Does he love her back?"
            "You don't know?"
            "I think I do. But Kim came over this morning and told me he was mean to her last night – cold and distant."
            Chloe sighed. "I was afraid of that." When Jack stared at her, she continued. "He loves her, Jack. That's what's been eating at him. You and Kim are his best friends and he couldn't go to either of you. He's afraid she doesn't feel the same. He's scared to death that you'll hate him. And on top of all that, he's been dealing with the guilt of loving someone else after Michelle. That's why he's been coming to me. He had nowhere else to go."
            It was Jack's turn to sigh. "I need to talk to him. Before he hurts Kim any more. Before he hurts himself."
            Chloe nodded. "He needs to know you'll still be friends."
            He narrowed his eyes at her. "When I first got here, you thought I was here to talk about us. Is there something we need to talk about?"
            "No. I mean…I don't know."
            "Chloe. If there's something bothering you…please. Don't shut me out."
            She frowned, looking down at their hands, still entwined. "Tony and I…we talked a lot. When he was coming over. He…he told me something. About you. And I need to know if it's true."
            She felt him stiffen immediately. "What did he tell you?"
            Chloe raised her eyes to his, forcing herself to look at him. "Do you love me?"
            He found that he couldn't breathe. But her eyes were staring at him with…fear, and he knew that he had to answer her.
            "Yes," he whispered.
            "That way? Like…more than just a friend."
            "Yes."
            She nodded. Then she was leaning towards him, her lips brushing lightly over his. He gasped at the contact, completely unprepared for her response. Her lips pressed more firmly against his and her tongue ran along his lips until he opened to her, letting her fully explore his mouth. He moaned, one hand wrapping around her waist while the other moved to tangle itself in her dark hair. Then she was leaning against him, pushing him back down onto the cushions and bringing her body to lay atop his. Their kisses grew deeper and more passionate as they moved against each other, their sighs and groans melding together.
            Jack's phone ringing caused them to jump apart. He gave her a smile and kissed her once more before pulling his cell out and answering it.
            "Bauer."
            "Daddy?"
            He sat up suddenly. "Kim? What's wrong?"
            "He's gone."
            "Tony?"
            She nodded even though he couldn't see her. "I went into his room. All his stuff is gone and there's a note. He left."
            Jack sighed. "Okay, Kim. I need you to breathe. I think I know where he went. I'll go talk to him. Everything's going to be alright."
            "How do you know?"
            "Trust me, baby. I know what's wrong with him. I'll talk to him." He paused. "Do you want someone to come stay with you for now?"
            She sniffed. "No. I'm okay. Will you call me? Let me know what's going on?"
            "If everything goes well, I won't need to. Get some rest, Kim. Everything will be okay."
            He hung up and saw Chloe's questioning look.
            "Tony left," he explained. "I think I know where he went. I'm going to go talk to him."
            "Where do you think he is?"
            "Michelle's grave," he answered as he threw on his coat. Looking back at her, he walked over and kissed her again. "I'll be back later. Is that okay?"
            She nodded, smiling at him. "I'll be here."
            He kissed her once more and was out the door.
 
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            Tony was right where he thought he'd be. He sat on a bench near Michelle's grave, his head in his hands. Jack's heart broke at the sight of him – he knew exactly what that felt like. He had visited Teri's grave multiple times with that same hopelessness and despair and guilt. That kind of pain could kill a man.
            He got out of the car and walked over to his friend, taking a seat next to him. They sat in silence for a long time, Tony never lifting his head and Jack staring straight ahead. Finally, he rested a hand on the other man's shoulder, pulling him out of his isolation.
            "Tony."
            "What are you doing here?" he asked hoarsely, raising his tear-stained face.
            "Kim called me. Told me you left. Told me what happened last night." He paused. "I know you're in love with her."
            "Oh God, Jack. I'm so sorry."
            "It's okay, Tony."
            "I never meant to. I know she's your daughter. I know she's off-limits-"
            "Tony, stop."
            The other man fell silent, not knowing what else he could say.
            "You didn't betray me."
            His eyes snapped up at Jack's words. "I didn't?"
            Jack shook his head. "No. You make her happy, Tony. I've never seen her so happy than in the past few months you two have been living together. I'm not going to stand in the way of that."
            Tony's eyes widened in surprise. "But she doesn't…"
            "She loves you. She told me herself."
            His eyes drifted to his wife's gravestone. Jack's gaze followed and they sat for another long while without speaking.
            "Am I betraying her?"
            Jack shook his head. "No. I know it feels like it. But she would never want you to be alone, Tony. Punishing yourself isn't going to bring her back. It's just going to make you and the people who care about you miserable." He paused. "Although I think Michelle would laugh at you for falling for my daughter."
            Tony smiled faintly. "I think you're right."
            "I understand why you didn't tell me. I probably would have yelled, gotten upset and told you to get out of my sight and stay away from my daughter. But…it was easier coming from Kim. I just want to see her happy. And now she'll have a boyfriend I actually like. So…go back. Tell her how you feel. Apologize profusely for being a complete ass. And make her happy. That's all I want for her, Tony. I want her to be happy."
            "And us? Are we okay?"
            "You're still my best friend. I told you nothing would change that or make me think less of you. I meant that."
            "I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner."
            Jack shrugged. "I know what it's like, Tony. I nearly broke when I got together with Kate. She was the first after Teri. Just…don't ever expect Kim to be a replacement for Michelle. She's a completely different person, and I'm sure you love her for completely different reasons. Just remember that. Because sometimes she'll compare herself to Michelle and it's going to hurt her and she's going to need you there to remind her that you love her. That you'll always love Michelle, but that there's no reason for comparison. You can love them both at the same time."
            Tony nodded. "Thank you."
            "Yeah yeah. Now get off your ass and go fix things with my daughter. You make her cry like that again and I'll kill you."
            "Where are you going?"
            "I'm going to go have sex with Chloe."
            Tony's eyes widened. "Really?"
            "We'd probably be having sex right now if Kim hadn't called and told me you were stupid and had taken off."
            "She finally told you? How she feels?"
            "No. She finally asked me how I felt."
            "About damn time."
            "Go home, Almeida. Before my daughter gives up on you."
            Tony nodded and got up, heading for his car.
 
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            The knock on the door startled her. Fear leapt up in her, threatening to choke her. She thought that it must be her dad, coming by to tell her that he couldn't find Tony. Or worse – that he had found Tony and the other man wasn't coming back. Trying to steady herself, she got up from the couch and moved to the door on shaky legs.
            Kim nearly sobbed when she found Tony standing on the other side. He looked haggard and worn and afraid, but there was something in his eyes that hadn't been there the night before – hope.
            "Tony?"
            He came in then, reaching for her face and crashing his lips against hers. She sank into him immediately, relief flooding through her veins. He kicked the door shut behind him as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her body flush against his. His tongue nudged at her lips until she opened her mouth, letting him in completely. She moaned roughly, the sound swallowed as their kisses grew more urgent. Then Tony pulled back suddenly, and she almost whimpered at the loss of contact.
            "I'm sorry," he gasped, his breathing heavy. "I didn't think you…I thought Jack…" He took a deep breath. "I was scared."
            "Me too."
            He looked at her deeply. "I love you," he said quietly.
            "I love you too," she whispered.
            She kissed him again and it was different from the other times they'd done this. There was no sense of wrongdoing or betrayal. There was no deep-seated grief that they were trying to hide from. They reveled in the touch of the other and took their time as they moved into Kim's bedroom.
            Tony's hands were everywhere, running along the contours of her body through her clothing. Then he wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her until she had no choice but to wrap her legs around him. Slipping his shoes off, he moved to kneel on the bed until he could lay her down, his body over hers. He kissed her deeply as his hands slid under her t-shirt, his fingers dancing along her bra-less breasts. Kim moaned, pressing herself closer to him. Pulling back to breathe, Tony pulled the t-shirt off of her completely and found himself staring at her in awe. She smiled, her hands moving to lift up his shirt as well so that she could let her fingers roam over his chest. He closed his eyes at the feeling before pushing her back down and bringing his mouth to her breasts. He drew his tongue around one nipple as he used his hand to squeeze her other breast, his fingers teasing her hardened nipple. Kim groaned loudly, her fingers tangling in his hair as she held his head against her.
            After he had moved his mouth to her other breast, he moved his kisses lower, traveling across her stomach and down to the edge of her jeans. Without hesitation, he undid her pants and slid them off, along with her underwear. Seeing her completely naked before him made him even harder and he found himself speechless. Choking back the emotion welling up in his throat, he let one hand drift down to her core, staring into her eyes as he thrust a finger up inside her. She arched against him, gasping at the sensation. Smiling, he slowly moved his face down until he could taste her. His tongue moved inside her and her squirming increased as she could feel her orgasm building. She moaned his name breathlessly, anxious for him to let her come. His thumb scraped against her clit urgently and she felt herself climax suddenly as she yelled his name and sagged against the bed.
            He moved back up her body, giving her soothing kisses as he went. When he reached her mouth he kissed her deeply, letting her recover from her high. Pulling back, he moved his mouth to her ear.
            "You okay?"
            She nodded. "Very much so."
            Shifting slightly, she felt his arousal pressing more firmly against her. She gave him a soft smile before pushing him off of her and onto his back. Her nimble fingers did away with his belt quickly and then she was sliding his pants and boxers off, dropping them to the floor. She planted kisses up and down his thighs, her tongue sliding along his skin. Tony groaned deeply, his hips bucking as he felt her mouth getting closer and closer to his cock. Then her hands were there, moving slowly up and down his shaft as she took him in her mouth completely. All coherent thought was lost as he felt her tongue move against him. He struggled to maintain some control, but he could feel himself about to fall over the edge.
            Her mouth left him suddenly and she kissed her way up his chest and back to his mouth. Tony tried to get his breathing regulated as he stared at her.
            "Geez, Kim. Are you trying to kill me?"
            She smiled coyly. "Are you saying you didn't enjoy it?"
            He grinned as he rolled her over and pinned her to the bed. "That is exactly the opposite of what I'm saying."
            She giggled as he kissed her again, his tongue exploring her mouth as he positioned himself at her entrance. He pulled back so that he could look in her eyes, making sure that she was ready. Kim nodded, and he leaned down to kiss her again, pushing slowly into her body. She moaned into his mouth as he filled her completely. They paused for a  moment, adjusting to the fit, but then they were moving again, their rhythm coming naturally. Tony moved one hand down and pinched her clit, their bodies moving faster as he thrust into her harder. Kim wrapped her legs around his waist, holding him to her as tightly as she could. Breathlessly calling each other's names they came together, her muscles clenching around him and bringing him over the edge with her. He slumped against her, holding himself up by his elbows before rolling off and pulling her close to him. She reached out a hand to cup his face.
            "Are you alright?" she asked seriously.
            He nodded, giving her a small smile. "Yeah, Kim. I'm alright."
            "I know it's hard. But you can talk to me…about that stuff. I can handle it."
            "I know. And I'll try. I promise."
            "No more running away?"
            He kissed her forehead and covered them both with blankets. "No more running away," he promised.
           
 
           
failegaidin: (Default)
            They settled down to watch "Indian Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark." Tony had been appalled when he found out Kim had never seen it, and it was immediately put on their watch list. But his excitement was gone tonight, and Kim noticed the change. He had barely spoken to her, obviously lost in his thoughts. At one point she had reached over to lay a hand on his arm, but he had flinched so hard it was like a slap in the face.
            Her immediate reaction was to become just as cold, to say or do something that would hurt him back. But she had been working on her anger in therapy, and she knew that it would only cause more problems. And she really didn't want to hurt Tony – it was already killing her that something was bothering him and he wouldn't talk to her about it.
            Since they had moved in together, they had talked about everything. She had gone into more detail about Barry and the baby, and had talked to him constantly about her father and what had gone wrong between them. It had taken some time, but Tony had eventually told her about his time on the run, and then finally about Michelle. They cried a lot at first, and it had only strengthened the friendship they never thought would work.
            But now he was refusing to talk, and it was slowly eating away at Kim. She wanted to beg him to tell her, to turn off the movie and make him face whatever demon this was. But she was afraid he would pull away, distancing himself from her even further.
            As the opening credits finished, she moved closer to him, placing a kiss on his cheek before moving her mouth to his ear.
            "It'll be okay, Tony," she whispered.
            Not noticing the pained expression on his face, Kim snuggled against him, one arm draped around his torso. Tony closed his eyes at the fell of her body against his, his hand moving to settle on her hip automatically.
 
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            "Haven't seen you in awhile," Jack commented as they stood in the kitchen, cleaning up after the game was over.
            Tony shrugged. "Been busy."
            "What's wrong?"
            "Nothing."
            "You're lying."
            "Just leave it, Jack."
            "Tony-"
            "I said leave it."
            Jack turned the water off, then faced his friend. "No. Something is wrong. You've been in a shit mood for the past month, and I'm not the only one that's noticed. Kim says you won't tell her what's wrong either."
            "Well maybe Kim needs to mind her business."
            Jack moved quickly, grabbing the collar of Tony's shirt and pushing him up against the nearest wall.
            "Don't do that. Don't be mean to her just because you can't work out your own shit. You two are friends. She cares about you. Don't ruin that."
            Tony pushed him off. "Come off it, Jack. Nobody made you face your demons while you were mourning Teri."
            "Is that what this is about? Michelle?"
            "I don't want to talk about it!"
            Jack's shoulders slumped. "Tony, I thought we were friends."
            "We are," Tony gritted, unable to look him in the eye. "But that doesn't mean there aren't things I can't talk to you about."
            He surged forward then, moving toward the living room. Jack's hand shot out, clamping down on his arm and stopping him.
            "That's not true, Tony," he said quietly. "Nothing you tell me could make me stop being your friend. Nothing could make me think less of you."
            Tony looked at him then, and Jack was shocked at the pain he saw in his eyes.
            "I wouldn't bet on that, Jack."
            Pulling his arm back, he moved out of the kitchen and through the living room until he was out the door and back in his car.
 
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            Tony was starting to become a permanent fixture on Chloe's couch at all hours of the day and night. He would knock on her door, refusing her offers of making him a key, and then he would move into her living room silently, sitting down and staring at nothing.
            "Why do you keep coming here?" Chloe finally asked. "You hardly talk, and I know I'm not exactly a comforting presence."
            "I can't sit with her all day, watching her, feeling…I can't do it. It drives me crazy. And Jack…every time I see him I feel like I'm betraying him. If I don't come here…sitting here with you keeps me from going out and getting drunk again."
            Chloe nodded in understanding and took a seat next to him. "You're always welcome here, Tony. Even if it is awkward and I have no idea how to help you."
            He gave her the faintest of smiles. "Just you being here is enough, Chloe."
            She frowned, obviously struggling with her thoughts. "I think she has feelings for you."
            "Don't."
            "She does. I've seen the way she looks at you. It's…"
            "What?"
            "It's the way I look at Jack," she whispered.
            Tony looked over at her, reaching out and squeezing her hand. "You should tell him."
            "We're talking about you."
            "We'll go back to that after. You need to tell him. He-"
            "Stop."
            "He loves you, Chloe."
            "He can't."
            "He does."
            "No."
            "He told me. Point blank, Chloe. He loves you. He's just scared to death of losing you if you don't feel the same."
            She looked up at him defiantly. "I'll tell Jack when you tell Kim."
            He pulled his hand away. "That's not fair."
            "Yes it is."
            "They're completely different situations. Jack loves you."
            "And Kim loves you."
            "You don't know that."
            "So…what? You're just going to sit here and slowly sink into abject misery and depression? You're going to keep snapping at Kim and Jack until you push them away completely and you just don't have to deal with it anymore? That's a crap plan, Tony."
            "I don’t have any other choice."
            "Tell Kim. Tell Jack. Maybe they'd appreciate some honesty."
            "So that Kim can ask me to move out? So that I lose both of my best friends and probably get murdered by Jack? No thanks, Chloe."
            "You're pathetic," Chloe sighed as she flopped back against the couch.
            "I know," he mumbled.
            Chloe shrugged. "Don't feel too bad. We both are."
 
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            After Tony had left, Chloe puttered around the apartment, tidying up a little and trying to figure out a way that she could help him. But short of telling everybody the truth, she could see no way out. And she really had no right to be lecturing him on honesty…she had been in love with Jack for almost ten years and she had never made a move.
            A sudden pounding on her door shook her out of her thoughts. Frowning, she moved across the room, startled when an angry Jack Bauer pushed into her apartment the moment she opened the door.
            "Why was Tony here?" he asked, not even bothering to greet her properly.
            "How is that any of your business?" Chloe shot back, her surprise hardening into an anger that matched his.
            "You and Tony aren't friends. Why would he be here?"
            "We are, actually."
            "What?"
            "Friends. Tony and I. We talk. We hang out. I think that makes us friends."
            Some of his anger seemed to seep out of him and Chloe noticed that his shoulders were slumped in defeat. He shook his head before looking at her with sad eyes.
            "Did he tell you? What's bothering him?"
            Chloe sighed. "Yes."
            He looked at her sharply. "He did?"
            "Yes."
            "What is it?"
            She bit her lip. "I can't tell you, Jack."
            "Excuse me?"
            "It's not my place. I told him I wouldn't tell anyone and I intend on keeping that promise."
            "Please, Chloe…" he begged. "I just want to help him."
            She shook her head, trying to ignore the pain in his eyes. "I'm sorry, Jack," she whispered. "I can't. I promised."
            Hanging his head, he moved over to her couch, flopping down in the same spot Tony had occupied earlier.
            "I just don't get it," he sighed.
            "Get what?" she asked softly, sitting next to him.
            "Why he won't tell me. I get the feeling it has to do with Michelle, but he just won't open up…I know what it's like to lose your wife. I could help."
            "Maybe it's not just about Michelle. Maybe he thinks you won't understand," Chloe ventured.
            "Can I just ask you one thing?"
            "You can ask anything Jack. If I can, I'll answer it."
            He stared down at his hands, rubbing his thumb in circles against his other palm. "Is he mad at me? Or Kim?"
            Chloe reached over and took one of his hands in hers, pulling it over to her lap, where she ran her fingers over the back of it. She looked him straight in the eye. "No, Jack. He's not mad at either of you. I can promise you that."
            He stared at their hands for a moment before he leaned back and rested his head on her shoulder.
            "I'm worried about him," he whispered.
            "I know, Jack. I know."
 
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            He was late. And not just by a little bit. They always started movie night around six o'clock, and it was nearing eleven. Kim had ordered the pizza and brought out the beers hours ago, and they still sat on the coffee table, the former cold and the latter warm. She tried not to worry, told herself that he had just gotten held up somewhere, that he would be home any minute with a smile and an apology. But as the night inched toward morning, she knew that something was wrong.
            She must have dozed off. When the door opened, she nearly jumped out of her skin. She stood, staring at him as he stood in the doorway. There was something strange in his eyes, and she didn't like it.
            "Where have you been?" she asked.
            He tore his eyes away from her and closed the door, taking off his jacket and moving to hang it in the closet.
            "Out."
            "Obviously. But it's movie night. I thought you'd be home hours ago."
            He shrugged. "I had other plans."
            Kim hated that he wouldn't look at her, she hated the tone in his voice. There was most definitely something wrong.
            "You could have called."
            "Sorry. I didn't realize I had to clear all my activities with you first."
            She bit her lip to keep from crying. "I just wish you had let me know. You've never missed a movie night."
            "Yeah, well, Kim…did you ever think that maybe I get sick of sitting around with you every Friday night? That maybe I'd like a life of my own?"
            He heard the catch in her breath. He couldn't look up, couldn't meet her eyes – he knew that would be the end of him. Instead he moved down the hall and waited until he was almost to his room before throwing a rough "goodnight" over his shoulder.
            When his door closed, Kim sank onto the couch and cried.
 
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            Tony could hear her sobs through his door, and they were like a knife. He dropped his face into his hands as he sank to the floor, telling himself that he couldn't go back out to her, no matter how much he wanted to comfort her.
 
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            "Hey, sweetheart," Jack greeted as he opened the door to find Kim standing outside.
            She didn't answer him, didn't even raise her eyes to meet her. Frowning, he moved to the side, giving her room to come in. She did, her arms wrapped around herself, and she moved silently into the living room, sinking down onto the couch. Jack took a seat next to her, a hand on her shoulder.
            "Kim, what's wrong?"
            "Tony," she whispered.
            It was then that she looked up. Jack's heart broke as he saw how red her eyes were, how puffy her face was. She must have been crying for hours and he did the only thing he knew to do – he gathered her in his arms and rocked her gently.
            "Oh honey, what happened?"
            She started crying again. "He was so mean, Dad. He just…he was different. His voice was cold and he refused to look at me. When I asked him where he had been, he just shrugged it off, like I was being over sensitive about it. But I just…something's wrong and he won't tell me, Daddy."
            "I know, Kim," he whispered. "He won't tell me either."
            "But we talk about everything…Michelle, Barry, Chase…we don't keep things from each other."
            Jack looked at his daughter closely, taking in how distressed she was. "Kim…" he said slowly. "There's something else, isn't there?"
            She frowned at him, pulling back slightly. "What do you mean?"
            He reached out a shaky hand to brush the hair out of her face. "You…you have feelings for him, don't you? You've fallen for Tony."
            The fear in her eyes shocked him. Her bottom lip trembled and he hurried to reassure her.
            "Honey, that's not a bad thing."
            She looked at him sharply. "It's not?"
            He gave her a soft smile. "No. I should have seen it earlier. You guys spend all your time together…you make each other laugh…it all makes sense now."
            "You're not mad?"
            He shook his head. "No. I'll admit it's…weird. A little. But if he makes you happy, Kim…that's all that matters."
            She laid her head on his shoulder. "But he doesn't feel the same way, Daddy. You should have heard him last night. He wanted nothing to do with me."
            Jack sighed. "Yeah, well. I think I understand what's been bothering him now."
            "You do?"
            "Yeah. Let me talk to him."
            "Dad, no…"
            "Not as your father, Kim. As his friend. I can tell him that I figured out what's wrong and that he needs to knock it off."
            "Can you tell me? What's bothering him?"
            "Let me talk to him first, sweetheart. Don't worry. I think we can fix this."
            "I don't want to lose him," she whispered.
            He hugged her against him. "You won't, baby."
 
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            Kim felt better after talking to her father, and as she let herself into her apartment, she decided to look in on Tony and at least try to talk to him. Even if he pushed her away again, she resolved to not be discouraged. He was her best friend and she wasn't going to walk away just because he hurt her feelings.
            When she opened the door to his room, her heart immediately dropped into her stomach like a lead weight. His things were gone, and there was a note on the bed.
            "I'm sorry," was all it said.

Broken (2)

Jul. 18th, 2007 05:25 pm
failegaidin: (Default)

Chapter 2 of my Kony story....


            Jack had an odd look on his face as he handed Tony a bottle of water and took a seat next to him on the couch. A baseball game was playing on the TV, but neither was particularly invested in it since neither the Cubs nor the Dodgers were playing. But there was nothing else on, and it felt awkward to sit there without any background noise to cover their lack of conversation. As the Angels scored a run, Jack cleared his throat loudly.
            "So how are you doing?" he asked. "With the not drinking?"
            Tony smirked at him. "It's taken you six innings to figure out how to ask, hasn't it?"
            "Yeah, well. I didn't know if it was any of my business. I remember snapping at you any time you asked about my heroin withdrawal."
            "You always were a cranky bastard." He paused, a serious look coming over his face. "It's going okay."
            "How long has it been?"
            "Six months."
            "That's good, Tony. That's really good." Jack stopped then, fiddling with the remote as he tried to find the right words. "I found out about the hotel," he finally said.
            "What?"
            He sighed. "I know you've been living at the hotel. I probably shouldn't have, but I tracked you down."
            "Why would you do that?"
            "I was worried about you, Tony. I knew you were drinking too much, and you refused to tell me where you were staying. I wanted to be able to keep any eye on you."
            "I'm doing better, though."
            "I know. But the sudden turnaround made me curious, too. I wanted to know what had made you stop drinking. So I kept looking. And I found the hotel." He looked at the other man. "You should have told me. You could have stayed with me. I could have helped."
            Tony sighed. "I didn't want to be helped."
            "So what changed?"
            He shrugged, trying to find a way out of the question. "Don't know."
            "You're lying."
            "Does it really matter? I stopped drinking. I don't live at the hotel anymore. I'm getting better."
            "So where are you living now?"
            "With a friend."
            "Could you be more specific?"
            "Not right now. No."
            "Is it a woman?"
            Tony glared at him. "Yes. But it's not like that. We're just friends."
            "I wasn't judging. It would be fine if-"
            "We're just friends. I have my own room and everything."
            "Tony-"
            "Look, Jack. You're my best friend. You really are, and if it weren't for you, I probably wouldn't have survived the first few months I was back. But I can't talk about where I'm living yet. It's too…complicated. Please."
            Jack stared at him for a minute before finally nodding. "Okay. I'll back off." He paused. "You'll still come over to watch the game though, right?"
            Tony laughed. "Yeah. She doesn't like baseball. Says it's a silly sport."
            "Women," Jack muttered.
 
***
 
            "I saw your dad today," Tony said quietly as he and Kim made dinner.
            "How is he?" she asked quietly.
            "Lonely, I think," he answered. "He found out that I was living in the hotel after I got back and he wanted to know why I didn't let him help me."
            "Does he know you don't live there anymore?"
            He watched her carefully. "Yeah. But don't worry, Kim. I didn't tell him I was living with you. I'm not entirely sure how he would handle that." He paused. "He misses you."
            "I don't miss him."
            He sighed. "That's a lie, and you know it, Kim. You can't push him away forever. I'm not even sure why you're doing it anymore."
            "It's complicated-"
            "No. It's not. He's your father. You love him. You don't blame him anymore…" He trailed off, staring at her. "You're embarrassed, aren't you? You're ashamed to tell him about all the stuff that happened to you. You're afraid he'll think less of you or that he won't love you anymore."
            She was fighting back tears, her hands shaking as she tried to cut the potatoes sitting in front of her. Moving closer to her, Tony gently took the knife from her and set it down, pulling her into his arms. She clung to him, sobbing into his shoulder as he whispered soothing words into her ear. Eventually her cries subsided and Tony placed a gentle kiss to the top of her head as he continued to hold her.
            "I think you it's time you saw someone, Kim."
            She pulled back to look at him with a frown. "What do you mean?"
            He hesitated slightly. "You need someone to talk to. A professional."
            Kim pulled back more, trying to free herself from his arms. "What, it's too much for you? If you didn't want to hear it, Tony, you should have just said something-"
            "No, no, no," he rushed to assure. "That's not what I meant at all. I will always be here to listen. I want you to tell me what's wrong. But I can only do so much…I have trouble keeping myself together some days. I can't put you back together, as much as I want to. You need someone to help you sort through everything – Barry, the baby, your dad."
            "What about you?" she shot back. "Why don't you need someone to talk to?"
            "I go every Wednesday morning at nine."
            Kim frowned. "I thought you were running then."
            "I do every other morning. On Wednesdays I go see James – my therapist."
            "You really see a shrink?"
            Tony laughed at her expression. "Almost as soon as I got back, your dad forced my ass into therapy. He knew from experience that I would need someone to talk to."
            Kim nodded, moving herself until she leaning against his chest again, his arms around her.
            "I'm scared," she whispered.
            "Because of Barry?"
            She nodded again. "I trusted him, Tony, and I let him take advantage of me. How do I keep that from happening again?"
            "We'll find you a woman to talk to. And if anything weird or bad happens, you tell me and we'll fix it, okay?"
            "You really think I can do this?"
            Tony smiled at her gently. "I know you can. And you don't have to do it alone. I'm going to be here. Every step of the way."
            She returned his smile. "Why are you being so helpful?"
            "I seem to remember something about you giving me a place to live other than the hotel and kicking my ass until I stopped drinking. You've been a good friend, Kim. I'm just making sure I do the same for you."
            "We did it, didn't we?"
            "What?"
            "We became friends. Good friends."
            "Yeah," he smiled. "we did."
           
***
 
            "You should just go to bed," Tony informed her as they sat together on the couch.
            Kim shook her head firmly. "It's movie night. I'm not missing movie night just because I have a cold."
            "Kim, you look awful. You're running a fever. You need sleep."
            "Gee, thanks Tony," she said, rolling her eyes. "Why don't you just grab the beers and the pizza and put the movie in?"
            Tony sighed and got up, heading to the kitchen. Kim leaned her head back against the couch, closing her eyes. She really didn't feel well. But Tony had seemed out of sorts all week, and she wanted to spend some time with him, see if she could help him at all. Her mind drifted, and she found herself marveling at how close they had become. He had been living with her for almost seven months now, and there was no awkwardness between them. They ate most meals together and had designated Friday as movie night. They would order pizza and drink beers, sometimes falling asleep on the couch, still sitting next to each other. They would wake up a few hours later and each stumble to their own bedrooms. She never thought that they could actually be friends, but now she couldn't imagine living without him.
            She jerked awake a moment later when she felt something being laid over her. Opening her eyes, she saw Tony moving to sit beside her, having just covered her with a blue fleece blanket. She smiled at him warmly.
            "Thank you."
            He shrugged. "You looked cold."
            Kim didn't make it very far into the movie. She was soon fast asleep, the blanket wrapped tight around her and her head resting on Tony's shoulder. He continued to watch the movie, casting glances at her now and then, smiling every time. She looked so peaceful while she slept, and Tony was glad that she was getting some rest.
            When the movie was over, he shut the TV off and turned to look at her again. She hadn't stirred at all in the past hour and he knew that he should wake her so that she could sleep in her bed. Hesitating slightly, he reached out a hand to brush a piece of hair out of her face, tucking it gently behind her ear. He suddenly didn't want to wake her. He wanted to just let her sleep there on his shoulder for the rest of the night. But he knew that she couldn't be comfortable, and that things would be weird when she finally did wake up.
            Sighing, he moved her gently so that her head was once again resting against the back of the couch. He stood then, smiling at her again before bending down to scoop her up into his arms. Using his elbow to flip off the lights, he carried her to her bed.
 
***
 
            "I'm glad you called," Jack said quietly as he sat across from his daughter.
            They had agreed to meet for lunch that day at an outdoor café. Kim was dressed in jeans and a tank top, while Jack had agonized over what to wear. He had finally settled on a dress shirt and khakis. He knew that the café was casual, but he also wanted to show his daughter that he was doing okay, that he could take care of himself, despite that being far from the truth…he had called Chloe in a moment of desperation, begging her to come over and pick out his outfit.
            Kim shrugged. "I figured it was time we actually talked."
            Jack froze. "Are you going to tell me to stay out of your life again?"
            It was then that Kim saw the fear in her father's eyes. She hadn't realized what a toll her silence had taken on him, and her heart broke for all the pain that she had caused him. Silently, she vowed to try her hardest to make this work. Reaching over, she took his hand in hers.
            "No, Daddy. I don't want you out of my life."
            His sigh of relief was audible, and he smiled at her warmly as he squeezed her hand.
            "What made you decide to call me?"
            Kim rolled her eyes. "My shrink."
            She saw his jaw clench. "Barry?" He tried to keep his voice even.
            Biting her lip, she tried to calm the butterflies in her stomach. "No. Barry and I…we broke up, Dad. I have a new therapist now. A woman," she added, seeing the worry in his eyes. "She told me I was ready to talk to you. To tell you about what's happened to me over the past few years."
            The worry in his eyes only grew. "What do you mean?"
            She frowned, staring down at her plate. "Barry…he wasn't very good for me, Dad. He wasn't…good to me."
            "What did he do?" Jack growled.
            Kim looked around, taking in all the people around them. "Maybe…maybe we could go for a walk?"
            Seeing the fear in her eyes, he struggled to soften his features. He reached into his wallet to pay for the sandwiches they had barely touched and then stood up, reaching out his hand to her.
            "Come on," he said softly.
            There was a small park across the street, and they walked side by side down one of its lanes. Jack tentatively wrapped an arm around her shoulders, smiling when he felt her lean into him.
            "Talk to me," he urged.
            Kim led them over to a bench and sat down, turning her body so that she was facing her father. But she couldn't meet his eyes, instead keeping her gaze locked on the bench.
            "He…he hit me." She could feel him tense up next to her immediately, but was surprised by the gentleness with which he took her hand. "Not every day. But often enough. I don’t know why I didn't leave. I was…scared. I didn't know where else to go. When it first happened, you were in China, and then…I was too afraid to go to you once you got back."
            "Afraid?" he asked, lifting her chin with his finger.
            She nodded. "All those things I said to you…I know how badly I hurt you, and you didn't deserve it. And I had screwed up so badly with Barry and I didn't know how to fix things."
            Jack squeezed her hand before cupping her face and locking his gaze on hers. "Kim, there is nothing you could do to make me stop loving you. No matter how far you fall, sweetheart, I am always going to be here for you."
            She looked at him through watery eyes. "I got pregnant," she whispered. He nodded for her to continue and she took a deep breath. "Barry didn't want any kids…he blamed me. Said I did it on purpose. We had a fight. He…" Her words were lost as the emotion choked her.
            "Did he hurt you?" her father asked gently, straining to keep any roughness out of his voice.
            Kim nodded. "I lost the baby," she whispered, so quietly that Jack could barely hear her.
            His jaw clenched and he had to restrain himself from flying off the bench and hunting down the son of a bitch. Kim needed him to be supportive, not angry and vengeful. Reaching over, he dragged her against his chest, holding her tightly as she started to cry. He ran his fingers through her hair, whispering soothing words to her, wishing that he could do something to take away her pain. Finally her sobs subsided, but she kept leaning against him.
            "I left after that. I was afraid he'd kill me."
            "Then what did you do?"
            "I thought about finding Chase and trying to make things right with him…but he had already moved on. He got married. He has a family now."
            "I'm sorry, Kim."
            She shrugged. "Then I just started drinking and being angry all the time. It was all I could do to keep from curling into a ball and crying."
            "What made you stop?"
            "Tony."
            Jack pulled back from her in surprise, his eyes wide as he looked down at her.
            "Tony?"
            She nodded. "I ran into him at a bar one night. At the hotel he was staying at. I was trashed. He refused to let me drive home, telling me I could just crash in his room. When we got up there, I…I broke down. I smashed his mirror and started crying. He just bandaged me up and took care of me…sitting with me until I fell asleep."
            Jack frowned. "He never told me."
            "He was afraid to. He knew that it would hurt you to know that I was willing to talk to him and not to you."
            He nodded. "So you still talk to him."
            Kim smiled. "He's my roommate."
            "What?"
            "I couldn't let him live in that hotel anymore. Part of him was too ashamed to ask you if he could move in…"
            "I would have gladly-"
            "I know, Dad. But you'd already helped him out before…after Michelle left him."
            Jack frowned at her, trying to take it all in. "So you and Tony are…friends?"
            She nodded. "Yep. He moved in about seven months ago. He's the one that made me go see a therapist. He's taken good care of me." She paused. "Are you okay with that? With me and him being friends?"
            He smiled at her. "Of course I am. It's just…unexpected. I guess I never thought of you and Tony having anything in common."
            "Neither did we. Until it turned out that we both hurting so much. We bonded over the pain. And now…we just hang out. We watch movies and stuff…and talk. We get along really well."
            "You're what made him stop drinking," Jack said as he finally put the pieces together.
            She nodded. "We fought a lot at first. We were both angry and we tried to push each other away. But then I took all the alcohol out of the house and stole his car keys. Getting sober was hard, but he's done a really good job with it." She narrowed her eyes at him. "You're not mad, are you? At Tony?"
            He gave her a smile. "No, sweetheart. I'm glad he was there to help. And I'm glad you could help him. It just takes a little effort to wrap my brain around it. He's always been my friend."
            Kim smirked up at him. "And he still is, Daddy. You're his best friend. He just didn't want to hurt your feelings. He thought it would be better coming from me."
            "He was right about that. I wouldn't have handled it well, knowing that he got to talk to you and I didn't." He paused. "So…are we okay? I know we still have a ways to go, but…can we see each other? Maybe have dinner sometimes?"
            She hugged him against her tightly. "Of course, Dad. You can always come over or call me. I've missed you."
            Jack hugged her back, his eyes misty as he kissed the top of her head. "I've missed you too, sweetheart."
 
***
 
            Tony froze when he opened the apartment door to find Jack standing on the other side. His throat went dry and he suddenly found himself devoid of words. Kim had told him that Jack knew he was living there, and that he had seemed fine with it, but Tony knew that Jack had a way of hiding his anger until faced with the source.
            "Hi Tony."
            "Jack."
            "Can I come in?"
            "Yeah, sure."
            Tony stepped aside, letting the older man through. Jack moved to the couch, sitting down, making himself at home.
            "You got anything to drink?"
            "Um…milk. Juice. Water."
            "Water sounds good."
            Tony nodded, his mind racing as he moved to the kitchen. As he pulled two bottles of water from the fridge, he reasoned that if Jack was going to kill him, he probably would have done it right away. On the other hand, he had seen Jack lull suspects into a sense of security before pouncing on them and ripping their throats out. His stomach was a mess by the time he came back out to the living room, and he noticed that his hand shook as he handed Jack the bottle of water and sat next to him.
            "Relax, Tony. I'm not here to kill you."
            Tony glanced at him sideways. "Promise?"
            Jack laughed, leaning over to pick up the remote. "Yeah. I promise." He stopped and turned to his friend. "Thank you."
            "For what?"
            "For taking care of her while I couldn't. For being a friend when she needed one. You guys really get along well. I can hear it in her voice when she talks about you."
            Tony relaxed a little. "We were both surprised that it worked. But I do care about her Jack. She's one of my closest friends now. Probably only second to you."
            "Good to know I still get first place."
            "Yeah, yeah. You're my best friend. Now we've had our Hallmark moment."
            Jack laughed out loud, switching on the TV and finding a baseball game.
            "You'll still take care of her right?"
            "Always, Jack. Always."
 
***
 
            Tony was probably one of the last people that Chloe ever expected to see on her doorstep. It was pouring outside, and he was drenched to the bone, but he just stood there, staring at her.
            "Tony?"
            He swallowed hard, looking as though he were near tears. "I need to talk to someone."
            "And you came to me? Wouldn't Jack make more sense?"
            "He'll kill me," he said quietly.
            Confused by his words, Chloe grabbed his arm and dragged him inside. He dripped all over her floor, shivering with cold, but he just stared at the floor as though he had just lost his best friend.
            Uncertain of what she was supposed to do, Chloe moved down the hall, grabbing some clothes that Morris had left behind and a towel, handing them to Tony when she got back to the door. He took them silently, staring at them as though he didn’t know what to do with them.
            "Bathroom's down the hall on your right," Chloe explained. "You need to get dry before you tell me…whatever it is you came to tell me."
            He nodded, moving down the hall and into the bathroom. When the door was closed, Chloe breathed a sigh of relief. She was terrible in normal social situations, but the complicated ones threw her off even more. Muttering to herself about awkward situations, she stomped off to the kitchen, figuring that coffee would probably be a good thing to have waiting for him.
            He was sitting on the couch in her living room by the time the coffee was ready, his hair still wet. Chloe handed him a mug and he took it silently before she moved to sit next to him nervously.
            "Tony?"
            He looked up at her.
            "Why are you here?"
            "I didn’t mean to," he whispered.
            "Mean to what? Come here?"
            He shook his head. "No. I'm sorry, Chloe. I shouldn't have-"
            "Stop it, Tony. You're here. You need to talk and for some reason you can't go to Jack. That's fine. But I'm not good at this stuff, so you're just going to have to tell me whatever it is you came to talk about."
            "I didn't mean to fall in love with her," he said, his voice so quiet that she strained to hear him.
            As she struggled to put his words into context, Chloe's eyes widened as things clicked together. Jack had told her about Tony's new living situation, about the unexpected friendship…
            "Kim?"
            He nodded, his head hanging low. "I didn't mean to, Chloe. I swear. We were just supposed to be friends."
            Hesitating, she lifted a hand and placed it on his shoulder. "I know, Tony."
            He kept talking as though he hadn't heard her. "But I can't stop thinking about her. Every time I see her, she makes me smile. I stop hurting when she laughs, or when her hand brushes against mine. I just want to kiss her again-"
            "Again?" Chloe interrupted. "When did you and Kim kiss?"
            "When we first ran into each other at the hotel. She was too drunk to drive home, so I made her come up to my room. She…she punched the bathroom mirror and I went in to see if she was okay. I just…we were both hurting so much. We needed comfort, and we couldn't accept it from anybody else…"
            "Wait," Chloe said. "Are you telling me that you and Kim slept together?"
            Tony nodded, avoiding her gaze. "Yeah. And once before that. A long time ago."
            Chloe's mind had completely exploded at his words. Never in a million years had she imagined that she would be having this conversation with Tony – especially about Kim. Then her mind grasped onto the last thing he said.
            "What do you mean a long time ago?"
            When his eyes met hers, there was genuine fear in them. "I don't want you to hate me. You're the only person I can talk to about this."
            "Just tell me, Tony."
            He took a deep breath. "Her eighteenth birthday…she got arrested and called CTU. I went to bail her out…"
            "And you slept with her?" Chloe asked.
            "I didn't plan it."
            She took a deep breath, letting her brain assimilate all the information swimming around in it. Tony just sat there, hands wrapped around his mug, as he waited for her to yell at him.
            "Okay," she finally said.
            His head snapped up. "Okay?"
            Chloe nodded. "Okay. I see now why you couldn't go to Jack."
            "You're not going to yell at me?"
            She rolled her eyes. "Tony, Kim has always had a mind of her own. I highly doubt you took advantage of her. It's not in your nature. In fact, I bet she started things, right?"
            He nodded.
            "That's what I thought. And Kim is used to getting what she wants."
            Tony opened his mouth to defend her, but Chloe cut him off. "I'm not being mean, Tony. It's the truth. But the fact that she let you move in with her as a friend and is talking to Jack again means that she's grown up a lot since the last time I saw her." She looked at him closely. "Is it really such a bad thing that you've fallen in love with her?"
            "Jack will never forgive me."
            "Yes he will."
            "Chloe, this is his daughter-"
            "And he's finally starting to realize that it's her life and she can do what she wants with it."
            "Exactly. Which means he'll forgive her. Not me."
            "So instead of risking it you're just going to sit there, loving her, watching her live her life?"
            Tony shrugged. "It's not the only problem I'm having."
            "Michelle?"
            Tears sprung to his eyes at the mention of her name. "How could I have fallen in love with someone else? She meant the world to me. She was everything I had," he whispered brokenly.
            Arguing with herself silently for a minute, Chloe reached out and took his hand in hers. "Look, Tony. Loving someone new doesn't mean you loved Michelle any less. She wouldn't expect you to sit around moping and drinking for the rest of your life. She would understand that we all need somebody in our lives. We're not meant to be alone." She paused. "You're not suppose to punish yourself for the rest of your life just because you survived."
            Her last words broke him. His hands came up to cover his face as his cries overtook him. Chloe had never had a crying person sitting on her couch before, but she couldn't stand to just watch him as his shoulders shook with the force of his sobs. Cursing her social ineptitude, she scooted closer to him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and pulling his head against her chest.
            "It's gonna be okay, Tony. We'll figure something out."
            He cried until he fell asleep.
           
           
           
           
           
 
 
             

Broken

Jul. 5th, 2007 10:38 am
failegaidin: (Default)
That's right, another Kony story. Set three years after S6. There should be a chapter 2 at some point...

            She was quite honestly the last person he expected to see at the bar. At first he didn't recognize her – her hair fell to the middle of her back and the ends curled. He almost walked away, thinking that the mini-bar in his room would be just as good. But then he saw her throw back a shot of whiskey and immediately order another one. Moving before his brain could convince him that it was a bad idea, he took the empty stool next to her.
            "I'll have what she's having," he informed the bartender when the man came up to him.
            "I always thought you'd be more of a scotch guy," she said, not even looking at him.
            "And I always thought you'd be a fruity mix drink kind of girl," he replied, draining his shot and signaling for another. "Shows how much we know."
            "Touché," she muttered, finishing another shot.
            They sat there for a half hour, just drinking. He knew that he should say something, but he had no words and the alcohol was quickly working its way thought his veins. He looked over at her, noting the red that tipped her ears and crept up her neck. Studying her profile, his breath caught as he saw how beautiful she was. It had been years since he had seen her, and he had forgotten just how attractive she was. His gaze traveled down her body and then back to her face, noting the hard set to her jaw and the bitter twist to her lips. He was struck by the sudden knowledge that the past few years had been no kinder to her than they had been to him.
            "Like what you see?" she asked, glaring at him.
            "I just-"
            "What are you doing here, Tony?"
            Staring at his empty glass, he set it down with a sigh and signaled to the bartender that he was done. "I live here," he said quietly.
            She stared at him. "Why?"
            He shrugged, running one hand through his hair. "Never got around to finding a place."
            "Tony…you've been back three years. Are you saying you've been here the whole time?"
            He nodded. "The manager knows me. I had my wedding reception here." Seeing her features soften, he quickly moved on. "What are you doing here, Kim?"
            She remained silent as she finished another drink. Tony raised his hand and took the glass from her gently, setting it down next to his. She watched his movements, but quickly looked ahead when his eyes met hers.
            "Why are you here, Kim?" he asked again in a softer tone.
            "Why do you care?" she snapped.
            "I always cared," he whispered. A bitter laugh escaped her mouth, and she went to reach for her glass. Tony's hand shot out and grabbed her wrist. "Your father's my best friend, Kim. I'm always going to care."
            Hissing, Kim yanked her arm out of his grasp. "Is that the only reason, Tony? Because of my father? Seems if he were really your friend, you wouldn't have fucked his daughter behind his back."
            Tony's gaze narrowed. "So now you're rushing to Jack's side? That's funny. He told me this morning that you still weren't talking to him."
            He watched as her jaw clenched and her entire expression tightened. Sliding off of the stool, she bent down to get her purse. "You know what? I don't want to talk to you anymore."
            As she stood up, she stumbled, everything suddenly rushing to her head. Then his hands were on her waist as he held her up and steadied her. She fell into him, her hands grabbing his arms and her head leaning on his chest. She took a moment to enjoy the warmth of him, to breathe him in, before she was pushing away and trying to extricate herself from his hold.
            "Let me go."
            "No. Kim, I'm not letting you drive like this."
            "I'm fine, Tony. Just let me go. I don't want to talk to you. I don't want to see you."
            "You'll get yourself killed. Let's just go up to my room. You can sleep it off."
            She looked up at him with a frown. "Are you suggesting-"
            "I'm suggesting you sleep in the bed while I crash on the floor. I'm not taking no for an answer, Kim. If I could, I'd take you home. But I'm not in any condition to drive either."
            "You only had two drinks."
            "Just now, yeah. I've been drinking since I woke up this morning. We could both use some sobering up."
            She opened her mouth to ask another question, but then closed it, deciding that now wasn't the time. Unable to come up with any better ideas, she finally nodded.
            "Fine."
            Tony breathed a sigh of relief. Wrapping one arm around her waist to support her, he ignored the fact that she automatically tensed at his touch and then led her upstairs.
 
***
 
            Once inside the room, they stood there silently, both avoiding the other's gaze. Kim looked around, noting that there were almost no personal touches to the room that he had been living in for three years. One picture of Michelle sat by the bed, and sadness for the man standing there suddenly engulfed her. Swallowing back the lump in her throat, she turned to him.
            "Would it…could I take a shower?" she asked, looking down at her hands.
            He gave her a gentle smile. "Of course. The bathroom's to your right. Take as long as you need. But I will probably knock once in awhile to make sure you haven't drowned."
            "Thank you," she whispered, trying desperately to return his smile, but failing. With a small nod, she turned and walked into the bathroom, shutting the door firmly behind her.
 
***
 
            Kim stared at herself in the mirror, the hot water running behind her in the shower causing the glass to steam up. As the corners grew fuzzy, she replayed the scene in the bar downstairs with Tony. She hadn't expected to see him there; hell, he had barely even crossed her mind over the past five years. Her words to him echoed in her head and she winced at the pain she had seen flash across his eyes.
            The steam was clouding more of her reflection as she pulled her long hair to the side and examined the bruise that crawled up from her shoulder and ran along the base of her neck. She closed her eyes as she remembered how hard the wall was when she flew into it, how painful the coffee table had been as it pushed into her back. She could still hear the glass shattering and Barry yelling as the vase on the table had tumbled to the floor and broken into innumerable pieces.
            Slowly, she undid the buttons of her shirt, leaning into the sink to keep her balance against the alcohol in her blood. As she slid the shirt off her shoulders, she was greeted by the sight of bruises along her hips and ribs, and one on her left breast. Her hands began to shake and she gripped the edges of the sink in an effort to still them. As the humid air danced around her, her head swam, images and words flashing across her mind from a past she had tried so hard to drown. One hand moved to cover her stomach as the sobs came, her shoulders shaking. The memories came flooding back and Kim was left in their path, helplessly wondering how things had come to this. Looking back up at her reflection, she realized that she hated herself – every single part of her. So she did the only thing she could think to do. With a look of determination and pain, she pulled back her arm and slammed her fist into the mirror.
 
***
 
            As soon as the bathroom door had shut, Tony marched over to the mini bar. The seal had long been broken, and it didn’t take him long to fish out the Jack Daniels. Laying back on the bed, he took Michelle’s picture in his hand as he started in on the bottle. This was what he did every night – drowning in his past, dreaming of Michelle and remembering a time when he had known how to smile. He always drifted to sleep clutching her picture, the empty bottle forgotten on the floor.
            But tonight was different. Seeing Kim had brought back things long since buried. He found himself remembering how soft her hair was, and how her skin positively glowed after an orgasm. And he hated himself for those memories, and he hated himself for not being able to rid his mind of the images.
            He hadn’t expected her harsh words or bitter tone. He was even more surprised by that he wasn’t angry with her for those words. The pain in her eyes cut through him, making him want to hold her, to comfort her. But she could barely stand to be in the same room with him, let alone be touched by him.
            Tony’s thoughts drifted as he wondered what had happened to her. It was obvious that it wasn’t just her strained relationship with Jack. He could see it in her eyes; she had been through hell, and she was still fighting her way out. He recognized that look all too well – she was just as lost as he was.
            The sound of glass breaking snapped him out of his thoughts. He was off the bed immediately, the picture and bottle tossed onto the nightstand. He practically hit the bathroom door at a run, but it was locked. Growling in frustration and worry, he banged on the door loudly.
            “Kim? Kim! Let me in! What happened?”
            His pleas were met with silence. Looking around desperately, he realized that he was going to have to break the door down. When he found nothing in the room that could help him, he slammed his shoulder into the door, ignoring the pain that increased with each hit.
            And then he was inside. Kim was sitting against the bathtub, shirtless and sobbing, glass shards and steam surrounding her. His eyes traveled over her, stopping when he saw the blood running through the fingers of her right hand.
            “Shit, Kim,” he cursed.
            Reaching above the toilet, he grabbed a towel and soaked it in the shower before turning off the water. Then he knelt between her legs and took her injured hand gently, wrapping the towel around it and applying pressure.
            “Shhh…it’s going to be alright, Kim. Just breath,” he soothed.
            She cried even harder. “I can’t do this anymore, Tony. It hurts too much. It all just hurts too much.”
            He opened his mouth to comfort her, but stopped as his eyes rested on the bruises covering her torso. He had been so distracted by the blood that he had missed them at first.
            “Oh God, Kim,” he whispered, trailing his fingers over the black and blue marks.
            Her left hand clutched at the collar of his shirt, twisting it in her fingers. “I just don’t get it,” she whispered, her tone bringing his eyes to hers. “I don’t understand how everything became so broken.”
            Tony knew exactly what he was doing when he leaned in and placed his lips against hers. This was about comfort, and they both needed it desperately. Kim automatically leaned into him as she returned his kiss. Her lips moved against his with surety, and soon his tongue was nudging her mouth open and toying with hers. They stayed like that for a long time, just kissing and pressing against each other. Their bodies soaked in the closeness, tension easing out of their muscles.
            Finally Tony pulled back, staring into her eyes before standing. He reached down, pulling her up with him, and then took her hand to lead her out of the bathroom. As he pushed her back onto the bed, Kim reveled in how comfortable this all felt. She knew she was safe with Tony. He had been so gentle and careful with her her first time, that having his body pressed against hers was like coming home.
            He moved his lips down her neck and chest, pausing when he neared her bruises. She watched him with teary eyes as he traced the edges of them softly before leaning down to kiss them. Her breath caught in her throat at his gentleness, the sound causing his head to snap up. Seeing the tears spilling down her cheeks, he crawled back up her body and kissed her slowly, his tongue exploring her mouth as she clung to him.
            Her emotions threatening to overwhelm her, Kim reached for the buttons of his shirt, undoing them quickly with shaking hands. She got stuck on the bottom one, and Tony laid his hands over hers and helped her release the button. Taking the shirt off, he reached behind her and slowly undid her bra clasp, sliding the straps down her shoulders. The bra gone, he stared at her breasts for a minute before taking one in his hand and squeezing gently. She arched against him as his fingers pinched her nipple, sending shockwaves of heat through her body. Seeing some of the earlier pain leave her eyes, Tony moved his mouth to her other breast, desperate to help her forget, even if it was only for a short time. Her moans grew louder as he nipped at her skin, her hands tangling in his dark hair and holding is head against her.
            Then his mouth was moving lower, skimming her stomach as his hands undid her pants. Dragging his lips away from her body, he pulled the rest of her clothes down, throwing them to the floor. He turned back to her, running his hands up and down her sides as she squirmed, desperate to be closer to him. His heartbeat spiked at the moan that escaped her when he placed a kiss to her core. Her hands once again tangled in his hair as his tongue snaked out to taste her. Her hips bucked as he moved against her clit, the ministrations of his tongue bringing her closer and closer to the edge. He felt her about to come and then pulled his mouth away, giving her a reassuring smile as he stood up to remove his own pants.
            Moments later he was on top of her again, his mouth moving slowly against hers as they sank into one another, forgetting anything and everything that existed outside of that room. As his tongue coaxed her lips apart, he slowly pushed into her, kissing her harder as she groaned into his mouth at the feel of him inside of her. They moved together as though they had done this only yesterday, finding their rhythm easily. Her nails scraped along his back as she thrust toward him, throwing her head back as he reached down and pinched her clit. They moved faster as they neared the edge, both sobbing the other’s name as Kim’s muscles clenched around him and they came together.
            Tony collapsed beside her, instantly pulling her body against his, needing her warmth and presence. She laid her head against his shoulder as she caught her breath, her fingers drawing lazy circles against his skin. He ran his fingers through her hair, and up and down her bare back, unwilling to break contact with her.
            “Talk to me, Kim,” he urged quietly. “What happened?”
            "Does it really matter?" she asked, her eyes refusing to meet his.
            "Yes. It does."
            "What about you?"
            Tony sighed. "We know what happened to me, Kim. I want to know about you. Last time I saw you, you were with that guy…the shrink."
            "Barry."
            "Right, Barry. What happened with him?"'
            "It didn't work."
            "Kim," he sighed. "Please. Just talk to me. You don't have to be afraid or embarrassed. There's no way you've fallen any lower than I have."
            He felt her curl tighter against him, her head lowering in the crook of his neck. Her hands came up to clench his shoulders and he felt her breathing become shaky as she fought back sobs.
            "I got pregnant," she whispered.
            "What happened?"
            "Barry said…he said he never wanted kids. He blamed me. Told me that I had gotten pregnant on purpose so that he could never leave me." She looked up at him, tears falling from her eyes. "But I wouldn't do that, Tony. I wouldn't do that to anybody."
            "Hey, hey. I know. Shhh…it's okay, Kim."
            She leaned her head against him again. "He was so mad. He…he…the bruises…I lost the baby," she ended in a strangled whisper.
            Tony's arms instinctively wrapped around her tighter as he tried to give her any comfort that he could. She was shaking, and all he could do was rock her gently and run his hands along her back, whispering soothing words in her ear. Finally her cries subsided and she took a deep breath.
            "I came back, realizing that I should never have left Chase. I thought…I thought maybe if I apologized for how badly I'd hurt him, maybe we could…work things out. Try again. But then I found him and he…he was married. He found somebody else. I was too late."
            Then she cried again and Tony once again found himself at a loss for words. Nothing he could say would bring her baby back, or make her bruises fade, or make Chase come back to her. All he had to give her was his presence – as broken and worthless as that might be. But she clung to him, taking everything that he offered.
            "I’m sorry," she whispered when her breathing had returned to normal.
            "Don't be," he murmured in her ear. "We both needed this."
            Kim nodded. "Do we have to go years without speaking again though?"
            Tony chuckled. "No. In fact, we could try to be friends."
            She wrinkled her nose in thought. "You think we could do that?"
            "Yeah. I do."
            Kim nodded. "Okay then, friends it is. And my first action as your friend, Tony, is to tell you that you cannot stay here anymore. You need a real place."
            "I'm fine here…"
            "No. You're not. Especially not with your own little mini-bar next to the bed." He winced at her words. "I'm sorry, but it's the truth, Tony. We need to get you sober and back to…some semblance of normalcy. You can stay with me until you find a place of your own."
            Tony looked at her in shock. "Just a couple hours ago you were telling me you never wanted to see me again. Now you're offering me a place to stay?"
            Kim shrugged. "I was angry. I was drunk. I just wanted to make somebody hurt as much as I did. You were there. You were an easy target." She looked up at him. "I'm sorry."
            "I wasn’t too kind either," he replied. "Start over?"
            She gave him a small smile. "Yeah. We'll start over."
 

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December 2011

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