Chapter 28: Why?
"You were awesome up there tonight," Adam told Tanya in his words of highest praise as they got into her limousine after the show. "And it looks your amazing talent has done amazing thing for you."
Tanya laughed. "Yeah, I was pretty wide-eyed at the limousine first too, but now it's just like driving around in any old car for me," mused Tanya before turning beat red. "I'm sorry. I must sound so spoiled."
"Nah, you just sound like the diva you are," said Adam. "The diva you deserve to be."
"Adam," sighed Tanya softly as she reached up to stroke his check.
Quickly turning his head away, Adam pretended to focused on the view outside the window as Tanya slumped over in her seat. She had expected there to be awkwardness between them and even still anger on Adam's part for the way she'd left things with him upon moving to New York City. But things tonight over a year later had been flowing so naturally between them like old times, all the unease Tanya had expected had almost been a non-factor up until this moment.
Plus, she had forgotten Adam took affection much more seriously than she did. Not that she, given her current romantic status, should have been getting flirty with another man anyway. Tanya decided they needed something to settle the mood… or at least the butterflies in their stomachs.
"How about grabbing a bite to eat?" suggested Tanya in an overly enthusiastic manner.
"Sounds great," said Adam with obvious relief. "Where do artists number one on the charts eat? French restaurants? Steak houses? Or do you just buy cartons of caviar at the stores?"
"Make a right here," Tanya instructed to the driver as they pulled into a driveway.
"McDonald's!" gaped Adam in surprise. "But…"
"They shove so much flambés and brulées down my throat these days that good 'ole fashioned fast food is what now tastes gourmet to me!" grinned Tanya.
The two spent the next hour munching on milkshake, burgers and fries as they drove in the limo around Angel Grove, catching up on each other's lives and reminiscing fondly as they passed by old hangouts.
"Aww, the old Angel Grove high baseball field," cooed Tanya as fond memories filled her. "I so kicked ass out there."
"You sure did," agreed Adam. "Not to mention kicking Shawn's ass as well. Do you still see him at all? I know he moved to New York City to try-out for the Yankees."
"Like I'd really go to see Shawn play baseball," snorted Tanya indignantly. "But no, I actually do see him around more than you'd think."
"Really," said Adam sitting up in surprise. "Why?" he asked, trying to sound casual as his heart raced in fear. "You two aren't…dating… again, are you?"
"NO!" burst out Tanya laughing. "Shawn's uncle works for SC Records, so he often comes by the offices. We do lunch sometimes and talk. More like I sit around and listen to Shawn talk… about himself, of course."
Adam grinned somewhat in relief, making Tanya smiled as well. "So," began Adam slowly. "You…don't, have a boyfriend?"
Tanya's smile slowly faded. "Well…" started Tanya, fidgeting nervously.
"No, that's great," cut in Adam with a slight forced cheeriness to his voice. "I'm happy for you really. Who is the lucky guy?"
Tanya mumbled something incoherent. "Who?" asked Adam again.
"Vincent," replied Tanya a little sheepishly. "Mr. Vincent Nova."
"You're manager?" chuckled Adam, smiling genuinely at the humor in the situation. "You mean the guy who recruited you back at Angel Grove High when you used to sing at Ernie's?"
"Yeah," said Tanya still sheepish. "What can I say?"
"Well, I do remember you telling Bulk you always liked the sophisticated type," mused Adam in joking mockery.
"Don't make fun of Vinnie!" retorted Tanya, trying to seem mad despite her inability to stop smiling at Adam.
"Vinnie?" replied Adam, raising an eyebrow coyly. "Was it Vinnie's beret that really did it for you?"
"Adam!" gasped Tanya in embarrassment while still laughing at the situation. "Stop it!" she shrieked as Adam began to tickle her in the backseat of limo.
"Or was it Vinnie's purple silk shirts?" teased Adam as he continued to tickle her. "Or those alligator shoes he always had on? Did that make Vinnie seem all wordly to you?"
"If you don't stop tickling me…" threatened Tanya, but she never finished as Adam's cell phone suddenly started ringing. Tanya saw Adam's face drawn into a state of discomfort.
"Hey Ronnie," Tanya heard Adam answer. "How'd it go training the new Angel Grove cheerleaders?"
"Ronnie?" thought Tanya to herself curiously. "We never knew a Ronnie that was a cheerleader. Unless he's talking to… oh noooo! That can't be who it is!"
"I'm sorry I can't come over tonight," Tanya heard Adam apologize over the phone. "It's just, no it's like that Ronnie. No Ronnie, I promise I'll come over first thing in the morning. You gotta believe me, Babe."
"BABE!" thought Tanya to herself in a mixture of shock and jealousy. "Adam can't possibly be dating… VERONICA!"
"Don't be mad, Babe," Adam pleaded over the phone. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Whatever," Tanya heard Veronica whine through the speaker. "I love you, Adam."
"Bye Ronnie," Adam muttered, surprising Tanya with his missing declaration of love to Veronica back.
"Ronnie?" asked Tanya, raising an eyebrow coyly.
"You call your boyfriend Vinnie!" retorted Adam sheepishly.
"Yeah, but I don't call him Sweetie," replied Tanya instinctively, turning away and blushing while Adam felt his heart skip a beat at the mention of her old nickname for him from when they were dating.
"Anyway," continued Tanya, deciding to delve a little deeper. "Why didn't you tell Veronica you're hanging out with me tonight?"
"Ronnie's kinda the jealous type," explained Adam.
"Why are you with her anyway?" burst out Tanya, suddenly letting her emotions get the best of her. "I mean, geez, it's Veronica! Do you not remember what she's like?"
"Yes, but the places I can put up with her more than enough make up for the places that I can't," said Adam grinning slyly as Tanya caught on to the more sexual connotations of his comment.
"Adam!" gaped Tanya in surprise before starting to laugh and shake her head.
"What?" asked Adam, grinning widely. "I've always liked aggressive women! Besides," added Adam, growing serious again. "Veronica's not as bad as used to be. Some people turn out to be better. And then some don't. After all, everyone changes."
Tanya shifted uncomfortably at Adam's offhanded jab, now clearly realizing how still very bitter he was about the way they'd left things. "I wish I could go back," whispered Tanya softly.
"What do you mean?" questioned Adam.
"Back to when things were simpler," continued Tanya. "When all of us were together, playing on the baseball team, chilling at Ernie's, dancing at the Youth Center. I mean, who would have thought life would have been less complicated for us during our days as Power Rangers?"
"I was just thinking the same thing last week after I morphed again," concurred Adam, thinking back to the previous week when he'd become the Black Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger to help out the Black Space Ranger, Carlos.
"So," continued Adam. "Are you not happy in New York?"
"Of course I am," replied Tanya, though rather unconvincingly. "I love singing."
"Tanya…" pressed Adam gently.
"I just wish for one second things could be again like they were," sighed Tanya longingly. "When things were so… perfect."
Adam grinned at the girl coyly. "I think I can help you with that!"
"Huh?" perked up Tanya in surprise, but Adam was already giving directions to the driver.
"You'll see," said Adam smiling broadly as he sat down back beside her. "Just have a little patience."
Tanya ten minutes later was shocked to see Adam had taken her to the place where patience hadn't always been her greatest virtue: their old martial arts practice spot by Angel Grove Lake. The sight of the familiar rippling body of water and trees whispering in the wind brought tears to Tanya's eyes. It hadn't hit her until that moment how much she full missed home amongst other things… and other people.
"This is where you told me I had to learn to be patient," said Tanya as she playfully took an upper-cut punch at Adam.
"Apparently I wasn't a very good teacher," joked Adam.
"Don't kid about that!" urged Tanya seriously. "I wouldn't have been any good as a ranger if it wasn't for you."
"Do you still do spar at all?" asked Adam, inquiring about her martial arts pratice.
"Of course," replied Tanya. "A star's gotta stay in shape."
"You do look great, Tanya," said Adam softly, looking away so she wouldn't see him blushing. "But I'm glad you still do martial arts," he continued turning back to her. "I'm glad I gave you something good after all our years together."
"You gave me so much Adam," contended Tanya. "More than you'll ever know."
Despite the tranquil lake and peaceful wind, Adam's emotions were filled with turbulence. Despite his lingering anger over the way Tanya had left, other feelings were overtaking any remaining bitterness. Adam couldn't deny it to himself: he was still so in love with Tanya. And now seeing her here in Angel Grove again, looking so beautiful in a spot where they had shared so many wonderful times, made Adam long for her even more.
Yet while Tanya seemingly still hadn't mastered the art of patience, Adam's confidence level when it came to girls, he realized, still apparently hadn't improved a lot either. Unsure to as to what Tanya was feeling, Adam knew there was no way he would be able to find it in himself to confess his feelings to her. Despite his bravery during his ranger days, Adam knew he didn't have the courage to put his heart on the line before Tanya. He was too scared to hear that she might not feel the same way.
"So tell more about New York City and the…" started Adam instead.
"Adam, why did we break up?" cut in Tanya suddenly, looking at her ex-boyfriend urgently.
"We moved apart," answered Adam, looking at her as though the answer were obvious.
"No, that's too easy," pressed Tanya. "We could have made it work if we had both actually tried. Why really did things not work out between us?"
Adam paused for what to both of them felt like eternity before he finally answered.
"I honestly don't know."