Author's Note: This is the first fic in a two part series. Any comments are always welcome. Enjoy the fic!
She found Cassie sitting at their table, right in the center, as always. Her friend was staring into space with a thoughtful expression on her face.
"Hey, Cassie? Um, are you okay?"
Cassie looked up blankly. "Huh? Oh, yeah, I'm fine." She sighed.
"Maybe we could catch a movie tonight and hang out afterwards or something," Ashley said.
An unreadable expression took over Cassie's face. "Actually, I sort of had plans for tonight. It's kind of important to me," she said softly.
"Oh, well that's okay. Maybe tomorrow."
Cassie smiled brightly. "Yeah, I can hang out tomorrow." She looked at the clock. "Uh, look, I really gotta go." With that, she hurried out the door.
Ashley looked after her friend. What is going on with you, Cass? she thought.
Cassie walked a long way that night, through downtown Angel Grove, through the woods, through a small clearing, and past the border of Angel Grove and Southside. She sat down on a little bench at a bus stop. This is it, she thought. It was November 8th, exactly one year ago, at around this spot that she had met her best friend, TJ Johnson. She stared at a picture, taken by a fellow tourist. In it, Cassie and TJ were hugging, their faces turned towards the camera with bright, happy smiles. I would have ended up in Stone Canyon, she thought, remembering. The memory made her cry. What would have happened if I hadn't come back to help him? She remembered TJ fighting to save two people who were perfect strangers to him. His kind heart had always given way to his better judgement, ever since she had known him. He had put up with her harsh attitude and straightforwardness better than anyone.
She remembered wanting to live in Stone Canyon, then giving up her dreams to make sure her new friend was okay. Now her dreams were changed, still similar, but also different. Her life had changed. Her heart had changed. I love him, she admitted. Suddenly the warm night air grew cold. Cassie wrapped her arms tightly around herself, still clutching the picture. Where are you right now, TJ? Are you thinking of me? Do you remember this day? Oh, I wish I could hold you.
Fresh tears cascaded down Cassie's cheeks as she realized that she'd always loved him, since the day she saw him sitting next to her on that bus. But nothing would ever come of it. She could never ask him out. What if he said no? It would change everything between them, and Cassie desperately needed the closeness the two already shared.
TJ, she thought. Do you ever wish that we- Her thoughts were cut off by a sound behind her. Approaching footsteps. Cassie's body tensed, but she stayed where she was. It was probably nothing. Cassie continued to stare longingly at the picture.
"Cassie?" It was TJ.
"TJ!" Cassie said happily. She had an unmistakable urge to throw herself into his arms, and uncontrollably, she did just that.
"Whoa, take it easy," TJ laughed, catching her. He sat down on the bench and pulled her down beside him. "So what are you-" TJ didn't finish. He already knew why she was here, in Southside, so far away from home on this day. She remembered. It was November 8th, the one year anniversary of the two of them shaking hands for the first time on the Canterbury Transportation City Bus.
"Cassie," he whispered, drawing her close to him. "You're shaking."
"I'm just cold," she whispered back, trembling with emotion.
"Oh, baby." TJ buried his face in her hair. He had been waiting so long to hold her like this, to feel her warmth against his body. He closed his eyes, kissing her forehead gently.
Cassie squeezed her own eyes shut, pressing her face against his chest. "Hold me," she whimpered softly. "Don't let go."
"No," TJ said, his voice filling with pent up emotion. "I finally have you. I'm never gonna let you go." And his lips found hers.
Ashley, Carlos, Justin, and Andros drove through Angel Grove, heading towards Southside. They were going to see a movie in Stone Canyon, which came up after Southside.
"Whoa, check it out," Justin said, pointing to a couple making out on a bench.
"Oh, my God!" Andros exclaimed. "That's Teej and Cassie!"
"Finally," Ashley said. The other three nodded in astounded agreement.
Carlos smirked mischieviously. "I give it a week," he joked.
Ashley laughed, then grew serious. "I think they'll always be together, because that's the way they were meant to be, together forever."
And as Carlos watched the happy, unsuspecting couple kissing affectionately, he realized that Ashley's words were true.