Safe & Sound

its new, hope u guys like it!!
​I remember you said,
"Don't leave me here alone."
But all that's dead and gone and passed tonight.

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2. How the hell did we wind up like this?

The draining of his body heat happens slowly, starting at his pale face, moving past his quickening heart, and ending at the numbness gathering around his legs. The sudden lack of color in his cheeks makes Kennedy thankful she told him while he was sitting down.

“I thought…”

His voice is much too quiet as he speaks.

“I thought we were always safe. We always made sure we were safe. I always double checked that…”

“You didn’t do anything wrong, Harry,” she assures him.

He can’t tear his suddenly stinging eyes from Addison. With every second that passes, he finds a new detail about her that screams she must be his. He sees her differently now than when she first came into the room.

But he’s afraid. Terrified, even. How could this happen?

He rises from the couch, desperate for some blood flow in his muscles that have gone rigid with shock. He begins to pace, sticking a hand roughly in his hair.

“Harry, it’s okay,” Kennedy tries to calm him, “You don’t need to do anything.”

Suddenly, he turns to her and his face is the most hurt she’s ever seen it.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

She's quiet for a moment, averting her eyes toward her lap.

"Why didn't you tell me, Kennedy?" he raises his voice, "All these years and you didn't think once to let me know?"

"I did," she speaks up, "It was all I ever thought about."

She meets his eyes, already rimming with tears. But soon his hard gaze softens and falls to the toddler running toward her mother, setting her small hands on Kennedy's knees and asking for something he doesn't catch.

Kennedy picks the child up and takes her into the kitchen, setting her in a chair and politely asking her to stay there. She hopes the small bowl of dry Cheerios will distract her enough while the Harry situation is dealt with. The last thing she wants is for her daughter to hear this fight.

Once back in the living room, Kennedy positions herself in front of him, close enough so they can talk without Addison being able to decipher their words and far enough to keep a distance just in case.

"I should have told you," she sighs, "I know I should have, but I didn't know what to say. How do you tell someone something like this? I couldn't even imagine how I would get it out."

"So, running away and keeping it a secret for three and half years was the only option," he scoffs, unable to look her in the eye anymore.

"Harry, listen, I couldn't---"

"You think you can just spring something like this on me and think it's okay?" he bursts out, "Honestly, Kennedy, can you honestly look me in the eye and say that you expected this to go well? I have a life. I have a family and a girlfriend and---oh, God, what's Miranda going to say?"

She can't help her heart falling a bit at the sound of another's woman's unexpected name. But she admits she was foolish to think he would never move on from her after how heartless she'd acted towards him.

"I told you that you don't have to do anything," she reminds him.

"Then what was the point? You thought you'd invite me over, tell me, and then that's it? We go back to our separate lives?"

"No, not exactly..."

"Then  what? Why tell me now?"

"Because, Harry," she pleads, "She needs you."

For a moment, he can't find his voice again. He still has a number of strong words he'd like to tell her. But he can't seem to get them out. He just stares at her, angry, confused, and utterly helpless all at the same time.

"I need air," he mutters out of suffocation, "I can't handle this right now."

He sets off for the front door and she wants to stop him. Beg him to stay. Do  something to keep him from walking out. But she's frozen in her spot against the wall. The moment the door shuts, she buries her face in her hands, trying not to ignore the soft murmurs of her name coming from the kitchen.

The child is patient. She awaits her mother quietly, and when she comes into the room, her watery eyes don't go unnoticed.

"Are you crying, Mama?"

Kennedy shakes her head, gripping the empty Cheerios bowl and setting it in the sink.

"No, sweetie. Mama's okay."

"Did I make you sad?"

Her heart swells inside and she rushes to lift Addison into her arms, kissing the top of her head.

"Never," she assures her.

She remains unmoved for a while, content with the feeling of her daughter resting comfortably against her chest.

Her worst fear with confessing to Harry came true. He left. But she's thankful that at least she didn't get Addison attached to him before. She's thankful he didn't make a more permanent place for himself in Addison's life because while Kennedy's heartbreak over him leaving is manageable, Addison's would have been tragic.

The pair sit down by the mat full of toys in the dining room and, suddenly keen on making her mother smile, Addison shows her all the different things she can do with her animals, including cartwheels and jumps off the table. It's magical how the child can mend Kennedy's troubles nearly instantly.

But one particular trouble is rekindled when the doorbell rings once again.

"Stay here, Addie," she tells the distracted toddler before approaching the door.

Behind it stands someone that a hopeful part of her expected to return. Most of the color of his face has been restored from the few hours he took processing the new information, but his eyes seem permanently widened.

Neither person says a word, but Kennedy knows he's yearning to come back inside. She allows him, watching humbly as he goes straight to the dining room, removes his jacket, and sits cross-legged in front of Addison.

"That's a nice bear you have," she hears him say, "What's his name?"

Addison takes a moment to respond, but when she does her voice is surprisingly steady.

"Charlie."

"Hi, Charlie. I'm Harry."
 

The kettle goes off and Kennedy pours equal amounts of boiled water into each mug. While letting the tea brew, she smiles at the gentle sounds of Harry and Addison conversing in the other room. She's reluctant to interrupt them and tries to enter their company holding the hot drinks as quietly as possible.

"You slide your finger over the fruit like this," Harry demonstrates how to play a certain game on his cell phone, "Yeah, you got it. Good job."

He gives up the device, letting the child take over. Once Kennedy places his cup of tea on the table, he rises to take a seat on the couch beside her, leaving an enthralled Addison on the floor.

"Thank you." He takes a sip, but doesn't remove his eyes from the little girl.

"I've never seen her so comfortable with someone new before," Kennedy tells him, "You've only been playing for an hour and she talks to you like she's known you for years."

His grin grows. "Do you not get visitors often?"

She shakes her head.

He can see there's still a lot to this story that he hasn't been told. The proof is written in her eyes. He just has to fish it out of her.

After leaning back against the cushions and waiting until Addison is properly out of earshot, he turns to her.

"Be honest with me. What happened, Kenn?"

She's reluctant to answer at first. She's been reluctant all day.

"You owe me that much," he tells her, "Please."

After a deep breath, she comes to the conclusion that he's right. She owes him an explanation for all this.

"When I found out," she begins, "I knew I couldn't tell my parents. I was terrified of what they'd think. I didn't want them to tell your parents either. You were doing so well in school and I just...I couldn't ruin that for you. That last day I saw you, I wanted to tell you. I swear I did. But Harry, you can't even imagine how scared I was. I wanted to die right there. I know there must have been better ways to end things with you than how I did it, but at the time I thought I had no choice."

Memories of her as a young teenager flood her mind. So much has changed since then.

"So, after I told you we needed to see other people, I left," she admits, "I finished school online and found this place when Addie was born. I know it's small and cheap, but it's enough for us. I got a job waitressing at a restaurant down the street. Edith is my babysitter and she watches Addie for half her usual price because she lives so close."

Her eyes meet his and she can't tell if they're resentful or sympathetic.

"We get by," she assures, "We're okay."

Harry sighs, turning to Addison and telling Kennedy something he never wants her to forget.

"I wish you would have told me."

She can't seem to swallow the lump in her throat.

"I could've helped," he says, "We could've figured it out together."

"We were seventeen, Harry. We couldn't even figure out our calculus homework.

He chuckles, remembering when they both nearly failed that class.

"But we're here now," she sighs, "And what I said earlier still stands. You don't have to do anything. It's your decision what you want to do."

Sudden seriousness on his face takes over and she knows the words coming from his lips are nothing short of the truth.

"I'll do anything you need me to do," he promises, "I'm sorry for leaving earlier. I was scared. I'm still scared. But I'm here now and I'm her...father. And I want to be a part of her life."

When the word is finally sounded in his voice, it becomes real. Father. It's a daunting concept. Nerve racking and unexpected and a complete shock.

But strangely, he loves the sound of it.    
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