Tommy and Brittany.
It’s hard for me to pick scenes that are my favorite because I look at Tommy and Brittany as always having been with me. I actually found my first sketches of the character of Brittany and they were from 1989. She looked nothing like she does today, but the core of her character and the reason I wanted to write her has never changed.
Tommy and Brittany’s story is unique to the series because we have watched them from their first meeting to the family they are today. The other characters have lapses in time where we don’t see anything, and with Tommy and Red, we have been a party to everything. That brings a lot of pressure as a writer, to stay true to what I feel is right and to honor the legacy of the characters you have grown to love.
I decided to pick a few points where I felt especially honored to write these people. The first is when Tommy found out Brittany was HIV positive. I can’t tell you how long I struggled with that scene. I tried to imagine when he would find out and how. I always knew what his reaction would be, but I needed it to be profound.
Then it occurred to me that Brittany would simply tell him, testing him in a way, waiting for him to run.
His reaction was simply to continue the conversation. It wasn’t that it didn’t affect him, but he truly didn’t look at her any differently. He still wanted to get to know her. He still wanted to see her. He still wanted to have dinner.
Brittany felt her heart sink. “Tommy, there is something else you should know about me.”
He looked at her. “Okay.”
“I am HIV positive,” she said and waited for the response.
Tommy heard her and the gravity of what she went through sank in. He didn’t know what to say. “Okay, but you still have to eat.”
She looked at him and smiled. “That’s true.”
Another scene or moment I love is the first time we truly see Tommy’s feelings for Brittany. I spent a lot of time on the monologue Tommy has as he searches for her in the storm and I felt it was important for their story to see from both of their perspectives, how connected they were becoming.
It was hard to breathe through the thick air and Tommy had been walking for over an hour. He was wet and tired and exhausted and lost. He had tried his cell phone a few times but received no signal. The winds were picking up and he felt the rain droplets smack against his face. The smell of rain permeated his nostrils and he wasn’t sure if he was walking in circles or in a line. The cold air went to his bones and he looked for shelter, not knowing what else to do. He saw an area of the trees where it was open and he went and saw a cave. It wasn’t really a cave, but more like a large piece of rock that had been hollowed out. He could walk easily into the area about 10 feet and at least be protected from the rain. He thought about starting a fire, but realized he needed some wood. He left his bag there and headed out to gather some materials.
“Nothing like remembering how to be a boy scout while you are out searching for your girlfriend who isn’t really your girlfriend,” he said out loud. He shook his head and pushed his aching legs forward. The rain pelted him harder and he was about to turn back when he saw an area of water that had some nice rotted branches on the ground. He knew that would make for a nice fire. He turned to go over to the area when he lost his footing. “Shit,” he swore as he fell on his knees in the mud. His weight pressed his knees deep into the mud and almost thought about just sitting there for a minute, but something made him look up and he saw a sight that stopped his heart. There was a figure on the ground near the trees, half in the water. He grabbed his flashlight and aimed it on the figure, getting up; he sprinted through the mud.
Oh God, he thought as he saw it was Brittany. His heart was in his throat as he gently lifted her lifeless body and turned her over. There was mud on her face and his hands were shaking as he felt for a pulse. Her skin was like ice and the pelting rain that was now steady prevented him from getting a read. He gathered her clumsily in his arms and made his way back towards the cave and into the shelter, gently placing her down. He couldn’t tell if his face was covered with rain or his own tears. He leaned down and listened for breathing, but he felt nothing. He grabbed his bag and pulled out his stethoscope. He listened and heard a faint heartbeat. His heart leaped at the sound. Holding her face in his hands he spoke to her. “Brittany, please look at me, can you hear me?” There was no reply. He needed to do something. He saw she was injured and had areas that needed attention, but worse was the cold. She was hypothermic and he needed to warm her. He needed to start a fire. He left her to run out and grab some wood.
Tommy could barely control himself. His hands seemed to stop working correctly and he fumbled the wood all over the ground. “Fuck,” he swore. He grabbed what he could and made his way back, dropping the wood a safe distance from her and fumbling in his backpack for a lighter. He lit the wood and carefully arranged it to gather a good flame. Pulling off his coat, he moved back to her. His hands hung above her body, waiting for his mind to work, but he didn’t know where to start. “You’re okay now; I’m so sorry I let this happen,” he spoke to her without thinking, as he evaluated what he could. He cursed his cell phone again as he looked at it and found no signal. He had to get her to a hospital, but he knew there would be no moving her tonight. He felt the warmth from the fire and took out his blanket from his bag, happy at least for his survival kit. He moved to her and brushed the wet clumps of her hair, which covered her cheeks. He had to get her dry and warm.
Looking at the torn up gown she wore, he felt sick at the thought of why she had it on. He also saw the gash near her abdomen and the bloodstain. He pulled out his knife and cut the fabric away, removing the gown and leaving her scrubs underneath. Putting on his gloves, he carefully cut away at the fabric covering the wound. She had sustained a deep tear, but the bleeding seemed to have eased, probably because her body temperature had dipped so low. He took out some gauze and covered the wound, taping it as best as he could. He looked her over some more and saw her foot that was uncovered. She had numerous cuts to her foot and he could only imagine how she had run away like that. He didn’t care that tears were running down his face as he covered her foot with more gauze. He saw her arms were scratched from the trees and although it would be painful, there were no open wounds on her arms. He moved to her face and saw the bruise on her cheek and eye where she had been struck. Again, nothing he could do for that at the moment. He sat back and put his head in his hands, unsure of what to do next.
“I need some help,” he screamed into the air. “I don’t know what to do,” he sat there, breathing heavily. “Okay, you’re a fucking doctor, you know what to do,” he said to himself. She needed to get warm. He needed to bring her body temperature back up. He turned to her. “Okay, I know you won’t like this, but you have to get warm and the only way I know to do that is to get rid of the wet clothes. I promise I won’t hurt you. I am a doctor and I am always professional. I won’t look at anything and I won’t disrespect you. You can trust me,” he spoke gently to her as he cut away her clothes. “You’re a doctor, you will understand,” he removed the scrub top and sat her up in his arms to pull off the back. He gently moved her to the blanket and cut off her pants. He was careful not to move the bandage he had placed on her abdomen. He fought the urge to vomit as he saw the bruises she had sustained on her back, probably from being tied to a chair. He moved her body close to the fire and covered her as best he could with the blanket. Suddenly she began to cry, although still unresponsive.
“Hey, it’s alright, you’re safe now,” Tommy said to her. He figured it was involuntary on her part, but it made him feel worse, if that was possible. He touched her skin and realized she was still freezing. He was worried she wouldn’t make it through the night. He took a deep breath. The best source of heat was from the fire and from him. He knew what he had to do. He pulled off his clothes and moved onto the blanket. He pulled her to him and wrapped his body around hers, trying to keep her warm. He held her there while the storm raged outside and his heart broke. He rubbed her arms and back and tried to keep her warm. He used his body to protect her and shield her as he had wished he could have before.
Although Tommy had his work cut out for him with getting through the walls Brittany built around her heart, he wasn’t so easy to crack, either. One of my favorite moments was when she tried for the millionth time to get him to leave ‘for his own good’ and he told her just what he thought of that.
“I got her! This has to be her.” The man yelled before the police tackled him. They cuffed him and placed him under arrest for intimidation and trespassing. The cop nodded his apology and reached in to close the door to the room.
Tommy looked at Brittany. She was sitting in her bed with her eyes wide. She looked at him. “This isn’t real. This can’t be happening,” she said to herself.
He walked to the bed and sat down. “It’s okay, we can deal with this. No one has to know anything you don’t want them to know.”
She looked at him. “You don’t understand,” she had a cold look on her face, almost detached. “I think I want to be alone for a bit, if you don’t mind. I am feeling better, so you don’t have to worry so much. Why don’t you go home, have dinner with Julie and Bill and relax.”
“I don’t want to leave you,” he said simply. “Why can’t it be what I want? You know, you’re all cryptic about your life and what you’ve been through, but you’re not the only one who has a past. I may not be famous, but I have had a hell of a lot to deal with in my life, too. You act like I can’t possibly understand what you are going through, and maybe you’re right, but you also don’t know what I go through. I am not even sure you care,” he paced around the room. “You know what? You’re right; I am leaving. I am going to go home and spend a nice quiet evening away from all of things that I can’t ‘understand’,” he turned and stormed out of her room, slamming the door behind him.
Finally, one of my most favorite scenes that people probably don’t focus on happened during the television interview Brittany gave. She became overwhelmed and ran to the bathroom for a minute. Tommy went to follow and the reporter told him not to. His response spoke volumes for who they were becoming as a couple.
Tommy saw Brittany shudder. He went to stand up but Jack held him back. He sat down and ran his hand through his hair. “I was assaulted numerous times. I got away and got help,” she looked at Danielle. “Can we take a break?”
Danielle nodded and signaled for them to cut. Brittany pulled the mic off and got up quickly, walking on her cast to the safety of the bathroom. She went in and made her way to a stall and emptied the contents of her stomach. She sat down on the carpeted floor after she cleaned herself up and sobbed into her hands.
Tommy ran after her and Danielle stopped him. “Maybe she needs a moment alone,” she said and he looked at her.
“Maybe she needs me,” he said. “I think enough people have left her alone when she needed them the most. This isn’t just a story, this is her life,” he walked to the bathroom and went in.
His heart broke as he saw her, sitting on the floor, her head in her hands, the long red locks flowing around her, covering her fingers. He flashed back to the time he found her on the roof after Jack was shot and she was so vulnerable and so alone. He knew how she felt because he had felt the same way. They had been through so much since that moment, and he never wanted either one of them to go back to that sad and lonely place. He made his way over to her and sat down, reaching over and moving her hair behind her shoulder. She looked up at him; her blue eyes brimming with unshed tears. She shrugged and didn’t speak. He pulled her into his arms and held her. She wrapped her arms around him and held on tightly as he rocked her. “I’m so sorry, baby,” he repeated over and over.
I could go on and on with them, and these scenes are only from book 2. I would love to post more if you are interested, and if you want me to go deeper into a specific couple, I would be happy to do so.
Thank you so much!