Part 14

"What do you mean by that?" Tom glanced around Ioki's apartment. As usual, the place was meticulous. Nothing out of place. He wondered when Ioki found the time to clean and if he'd be willing to share some tips.

"By what?" Harry all but barked. He jerked the top off a bottle of beer and flipped it into the trash can a few inches from Tom's feet. "You're here to play nice, too. Go ahead. Ease your conscience and get out. I've had my fill of visitors today."

Tom frowned. "Who else has been here?"

"As if you don't know." Harry rolled his eyes as he raised the bottle to his mouth. After he swallowed, he said, "There's nothing either of you can say that can change things."

"Either of us?" Tom scratched the side of his head. "I don't know what you're talking about. Or who you're talking about."

"Dammit! Judy, okay! Judy was here not too long ago."

"Shit." Tom shook his head. "I asked her not to. I told her I'd handle things."

"I'm not something to be handled! I suppose Dorothy and Doug told you everything. Well, you don't have to worry about me. I'll be fine as soon as everyone gets out of my face!"

"It's not that easy--"

"What do you know about it? You got the girl."

"Let's not make this about Judy. You accused me of being an asshole. I'm here to set the record straight."

Harry released a harsh laugh as he dropped onto the sofa. He balanced the beer bottle on his knee and gave Tom an unfriendly smile. "So, Hanson's upset about his reputation. Boo hoo."

Tom recoiled from the sarcastic tone in Harry's voice. "Man, don't do this. We're friends."

"Maybe that's not working out for me."

Tom moved to sit on the chair across from him. "I don't believe that. You wouldn't be so mad if you didn't care."

"You don't have a clue."

"Judy's a special woman. It's no surprise that we all care so much about her. Look, Harry, I'm not the asshole you're making me out to be. I've had relationships that didn't work out, but things are different with Judy. It's like we are meant to be."

Hurt flickered across Harry's stoic features. "Lucky you."

"Yeah," Tom agreed. "I am lucky. I count my blessings every day that Judy and I are together. That she didn't blow me off when I asked her out and that each day together is better than the last."

Harry looked away.

"Look, I won't apologize for what we have. I love her."

"I love her, too."

The words were spoken softly, but Tom heard them.

"This anger between us hurts her. I love her enough to salvage what's left of our friendship. Do you?"

Harry set the bottle on a coaster. He stood and moved toward the window. His shoulders drooped as if the weight of the world rested there. His pain was obvious. "Why do you care so much about our friendship? What difference does it make?"

"I was never an outgoing guy," Tom explained. "Jump Street changed me. We all bonded in ways I never imagined. You all are like family to me. Basically, Harry, I don't know how to quit our friendship. I don't want to lose that. I don't see why I have to."

"So, it's all about you." Harry released a short laugh.

"And you. You're a loner, too."

"I know what I am."

"Then, you know how empty it can be." Tom rose and joined Harry near the window. "It doesn't have to be. No one has to choose sides here. We can still be friends, but that's up to you."

A long silence followed until Harry said, "I just need some time."


Tom left Harry's apartment filled with hope that maybe all was not lost. As he settled inside the Mustang, he remembered what Harry said about Judy. She went against his wishes and saw Harry anyway. What the hell did she think she'd accomplish? Why couldn't she let him handle it? For just once, trust him enough to let him do the right thing.

His hands gripped the steering wheel as he guided the vintage vehicle home. By the time he found a parking space, he was a little more than annoyed with Judy. Sure, his love was just as strong, but if she couldn't trust him, what chance did they have?

He raced up the steps and jabbed his key into the lock with a vengeance. Fire brewed inside him. He was all set to unleash when he opened the door. The sight on the other side stopped him in his tracks. The anger fled. Awe replaced it.

Did Judy do all this for him?

Part 15