Safe & Sound

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​I remember you said,
"Don't leave me here alone."
But all that's dead and gone and passed tonight.


10. All this time I was wasting, hoping you would come around. part 2

The atmosphere in the room tonight is serene. It's been a rough, grueling day for everyone, and as Kennedy stands over Addison sleeping peacefully, she takes a deep breath at the sight of her dry face, free of any tears. The monitors beside the crib beep steadily and the cool silence makes her feel a sense of relief she's been waiting for all day.

Quietly, she turns and starts for the door, taking one more look at the child in slumber before exiting. On her couch sits Harry and dealing with him tonight is a whole other story.

''How are you doing?'' she asks, taking a seat beside him.

He doesn't answer. His wide eyes stay glued to the off television a few feet away and for nearly an hour he hasn't moved from this spot.

''Harry, you're scaring me,'' she tells him, ''Talk to me.''

He begins to shake his head merely centimeters back and forth, narrowing his eyes.

''When you watch TV,'' he begins so quietly she can barely hear him, ''They show those adverts for the children in the hospital with all these diseases. Cancer, malaria, HIV.'' He counts off on his fingers in disgust. ''And it’s always sad. But it never really hits you like it would if it was your own kid, your blood in that room with those tubes and machines.''

Slowly, he turns to her.

''I was wrong,'' he admits, ''I can't pretend it doesn't hurt. It kills me to see her like that. Why her, Kenn? I don't understand.''

''I don't either, but you have to realize that you'll never get an answer, Harry.''

''It's not fair,'' he cries, ''She's never done a thing. She hasn't even been alive for three years. Why does she have to go through so much?''

She takes his hand and envelopes it between her own. ''Don't do this to yourself. It doesn't make anything better.''

Hurriedly, he runs the sleeve on his free arm over his eyes.

''No,'' she says, taking his face in her hands and forcing him to look at her, tears and all. ''You are allowed to cry. There's nothing wrong with that.''

They begin to fall faster now and he sinks his forehead onto her shoulder, surrendering to every emotion he's been keeping chained down inside him all day. They surface all at once, making him tremble against her, but she welcomes them. She knows he needs to cry it out now if he's ever going to get a handle on all this.

''How do you do it?'' he asks, his voice muffled by her blouse.

''Do what?''

''Everything. How are you this strong?''

''I'm not.''

He reemerges to meet her gaze, keeping his hands resting on hers.

''Yes, you are. I don't know how you've done this by yourself all this time. You're so composed. You know what you're doing, Kenn, whether you want to admit it or not.''

''I have no idea what I'm doing.''

It’s the first time she’s properly admitting it.

''I have no clue. You might as well know. Why do you think I called you? Besides the fact that you deserved to know about all this. I can't do it by myself. I'm going insane. I spent that hour in the bathroom at the hospital crying my eyes out in a stall until I couldn't breathe.''

She suddenly can't look at him and this time it's she who turns to stare at the blank screen on the television.

''You know what song I sing to her when she cries?'' she asks, '' 'You Are My Sunshine.' Because that's what she is, and for more reasons than you know. But when I sing that song to her, I sing it all but the last line.''

He can see drops on her eyelashes and remembers the lyric. Please don’t take my sunshine away.

''Because it kills me,'' she goes on, ''That line. It kills me, really. I'm so afraid that one day, something really is going to take my sunshine away and I don't know if I'll be able to live after that, Harry.''

She turns to him again and lets him tightly weave his fingers into hers.

''So I'm not strong. I don't do anything but lie to her that everything's fine and then I go get upset behind closed doors. I would kill myself if she died and I mean that with my entire heart.''

A surge of cold rushes through his bones when the idea of Addie dying crosses his mind. He sees how very possible it is. It was just a concept before. Something he couldn't put an image to that would make it real in his head. But now he imagines it so vividly that it makes him shake with a terrifying anxiety.

''You need to know,'' Kennedy continues, ''That this will never get better. This feeling right now that comes when you see her like that will never go away. And when it's at its worse, I'm not going to lie to you and say it's alright and nothing's going to happen. I won't do that to you. But I'll tell you you're not alone in this. That I can do. Every day.''

He nods rigidly, accepting the inevitable fact that he has to endure this full-on until the end.

It's quiet for a long moment. Kennedy keeps her eyes down on her hands intertwined with his on her lap, trying not to remember the last time she saw this familiar sight.

''You're amazing,'' he breaks the silence.

She turns to catch him looking at her with eyes she only used to see when the sparkling pupils inside them belonged to a teenager. He admires her. To him, she's slowly becoming the model of everything he ever wanted the mother of his children to be. He’s staring at her like she’s a gem, and to her it’s not deserved.

Before he realizes it, he's inching forward bit by bit. And much to each of their surprise, so is she. It happens in a matter of seconds and his face angles to the right, fitting into hers like a puzzle. The force pulling them together is strong, nearly magnetic. She can feel the heat of his skin radiating onto hers.

But it never touches.

She remembers what she did to him, what she's still doing to him every day, and moves away. She thinks of Miranda and his life before she so rudely intruded on it, and she sees he's only doing this for one reason.

''Harry,'' she sighs, turning away from him. He remains in his original position, biting down on his lip. ''We can't.''

Her eyes stay closed and she unwinds her fingers from his.

''We can,'' he softly objects.

''You don't have to feel obligated,'' she tells him painfully, ''Just because we're her parents doesn't mean this has to happen.''

He reaches for her cold hand once more.

''You think I did that because of Addie? I'm not like that. It has nothing to do with that.''

''If not that, then what? It's obvious.''

He tries to smile a tiny smile even though she won't turn around to see it.

''Can you think of no other reason?'' he asks.

The thought is finally sparked in her brain and it's the last thought she ever wanted to think. She looks at him, shaking her head.

''I'm not who you think I am,'' she tells him, ''The best thing for you is to distance yourself, Harry. You have Miranda and your family and like you said, a life. Stay in that one.''

''I want to be in this one. I know you. Stop acting like we've only just met.''

''You know seventeen-year-old me,'' she admits sadly, ''I'm not the same person I was back then. You don't know me.''

There's no doubting that she's hurt him with her words.

''How can you say that?''

''Because it's true,'' she says, ''And you'll realize it soon.''

''Why do you do this? Why do you make it all so hard? Why can't you accept that you're not a horrible person and you deserve to be happy? We were happy, Kenn. We can still be happy now. You have no reason other than self-doubt to say that we can't.''

She frees her hand back and looks away once more, unable to see his face when the words come out.

''I do. I don't want this.''

His breath hitches in the back of his throat, replaced by the burn of rejection.

''What?'' he softly asks.

''I don't want to be with you, Harry,'' she murmurs against the side of her worn sleeve, ''You're Addie's father and that's it. That's all it's ever going to be. I'm sorry.''

Without a look at his face to confirm the knife she's just stabbed into his chest, she rises and excuses herself into the bathroom, locking the door behind her.

Harry remains on the couch, letting the confession sink in. He tries to answer to whether or not he'll be able to be around her without feeling this way, knowing she doesn't anymore. He wonders how he'll manage treating her like strictly Addie's mother, nothing more to him. He can't force an answer. He has nothing. He settles on grasping the jacket draped over the chair and taking a last look at the shut bathroom door, fighting the urge to knock on it and beg her to reconsider.

But he's done now. He can't handle the pain of knowing she doesn't want him anymore. So he turns, enters the bedroom to kiss his daughter goodnight, and leaves the flat, not knowing when he will be strong enough to return.    
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