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.

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7. I don't know how to be fine when I'm not. part 2

''Did you tell Miranda yet?'' she asks him suddenly. It catches him off guard.

He bites down on his lip. ''I tried.''

''What does that mean?''

He takes a deep breath, suddenly very thirsty and taking frequent sips of his soda to buy himself a moment to think of a proper answer.

''I just need more time,'' he says.

She doesn't press the subject. Experience tells her he'll learn that time is never on his side. Soon enough.

''Was it this hard for you?''

''Honestly,'' she says as she pushes away the empty salad bowl, ''Apart from a few excruciating things I've had to do, it was definitely the hardest.''

''What excruciating things?''

''Childbirth,'' she answers casually, ''Leaving home.''

She looks up from her tray and finds him already staring at her.

''Leaving you.''

''Then why did you?''

Her eyes are averted once again. He can't put a finger on why she does that.

''I told you,'' she answers, ''I was scared. And stupid. Very, very stupid.''

He's about to ask her something vital. Something he's been waiting almost four years to ask. Was anything you said in that field true? But she interrupts him, blocking the question just as it was on its way out.

''How are things with Miranda?''

It's become obvious that she brings Miranda up whenever things get far too focused on her own issues.

''Good,'' he tells her, ''They're good.''

''How did you two meet?'' Kennedy doesn't seem genuinely interested, but she does want an answer for the sake of conversation among other reasons.

''She was one of Gemma's friends at uni. Gemma figured she'd play matchmaker.''

She nods, finishing up her water bottle and tightening the cap before crossing her hands on the table and looking him square in the eye.

''I want you to know,'' she tells him, ''I'm happy for you. I'm glad you have her and you're happy and you've found someone who treats you well.''

There's so much he wants to object to. No, he's not happy. He's just not unhappy. He's just there. Just Harry, never moving forward, constantly in the same place. Constantly doing the same thing day after day with the same person who thinks she knows him but really can't tell the difference between his hair before and after a haircut, something Kennedy can spot a mile away and he knows it.

''You treated me well,'' he says, but his voice is so quiet he admits it's not even slightly believable.

She shakes her head. ''I treated you like shit. I hurt you. I'm still hurting you. But it's just like when we were in that field, Harry. You can't see it.''

Her eyes are impossible to read. They're a mixture of sadness and disbelief and shame, all rolled together into quite a pitiful concoction of emotion. And yet there's something raw and revealing about them, and he can't figure out why.

The waiter comes by to pick up the plates and even when he leaves, there's silence at the table for far too long.

''God, why does it feel like we have to get to know each other all over again?'' she asks, leaning back in her chair, ''Why does all of this feel so different now?''

''Because we're different.''

''Not when you think about it,'' Kennedy refutes, ''You're still the same. Caring. Responsible. Damn near adorable. You haven't changed.''

''Near adorable?'' he asks cheekily.

''Okay, right on adorable.''

''You're different, then,'' he tells her when his rosy blush wears off, ''You've been through a lot. It's natural.''

Her head shakes again. ''I'm still hard to manage. Perfectionist. Insomniac. Thoroughly mental. My parents got what they wanted.''

''Have you spoken to them at all?''

''They don't care about me, Harry. You know that. I haven't heard from them longer than I've been away from home. We were under the same bloody roof and still didn't speak.''

''They don't know about Addison?''

''I called them the day she was born,'' she says quietly, ''Left them a message. Told them they have a granddaughter and that she's beautiful. And that if they wanted to see her, they could and I would explain everything. But they never called back.''

''Maybe they never got it.''

Kennedy subtly thanks the waiter who delivers the check and scurries away without wanting to interfere in what seems like an important conversation.

''Maybe,'' she sighs, digging into her oversized bag, ''But ignoring me is more likely, wouldn't you say?''

She pulls out her wallet and Harry rushes to wave it away.

''I can pay for myself,'' she assures him, ''You don't have to do that.''

''I want to.''

She's about to object and push her way into paying for her meal, but he's already tucked his card into the holder. He keeps it in his grasp, pressed against his chest and away from her reach until the waiter returns for it.

''This isn't a date,'' she tells him bemusedly.

''Doesn't mean I can't be polite.''

''Why do you do that?'' she asks.

''What?''

''Take care of me.'' Her eyes are staring back at him incredulously. The fact that he treats her so well is beyond her comprehension. ''I was awful to you. I don't deserve this.''

''You were awful,'' he says simply.

She didn't expect the words to cut like knives.

''But we were kids,'' he goes on, ''I know I keep telling you that I wish you would have told me, but honestly, if I was in your shoes I would've done the same thing. I would've run.''

She shakes her head. ''No, you wouldn't have. You're not a coward.''

''Neither are you. Listen, I know you've been through shit. I know you were taught that you have to be perfect and anything shy of it isn't worth anything. I remember that luncheon we had. Your dad said it all.''

Her memory recognizes that day too clearly for her liking. All the yelling and screaming in front of half of her class, Harry included. Her father made it clear to everyone that he resented her. She cried in her room all night.

''But Kenn, listen to me. You don't have to be perfect. It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to ask for help. You have to remember that.''

''It's hard for me,'' she admits quietly, ''I can't, and I know it's a shitty message to send to Addison, but I can't change who I am and what I've done. I hurt you, Harry. Badly. Heartlessly. Stop trying to pretend it didn't happen.''

''I'm not.''

''Yes, you are. You make me breakfast and take me to dinner and spend time with me like everything on that field was just erased from your memory. You got down on your knees,Harry. You begged me. I think about that every day and I can't live with myself.''

He's quiet for a moment, letting her get a hold of herself and properly bottle in her feelings like she always seems to do, especially now. He doesn't say a word to the waiter when his card is brought back. He merely nods, never removing his soft eyes from the woman coming apart across from him. She knows he's pitying her and that's the worst part of it all.

''I forgive you, Kenn.''

She wipes across her bottom lashes and laughs at him humorlessly.

''I don't deserve your forgiveness.''

''Well you have it regardless,'' he says, ''I forgive you. I mean it. That doesn't mean everything can go back to normal, but it does mean you can stop thinking you don't deserve to be treated well. And you can try to tell me otherwise all you want, but I promise you'll lose this argument. I can go on for days."

She sniffles, looking up at him. He's smiling.

''Now before you say another ridiculous word, let's take you home. You look bloody awful.''

A hot, embarrassed blush touches her face and he laughs.

''You say all those nice things and then you have to ruin it by pointing that out.''

With a chuckle, he rises from his seat and helps her put her coat back on.
 



Riding in his car takes Kennedy back to their school days. As he turns down the street from the restaurant, he palms the wheel with one hand, obviously more skilled than the teenager she used to accompany on driving practice days. Most of the conversation on the way to her flat is focused on the car itself. Still emanating with that delightful new car smell, the silver Honda seems to be his most prized possession, and she can't blame him. It's a nice car, one he's always wanted.

Much to her surprise, when her flat building comes into view in the near distance, she's reluctant. She hates to admit it, but she'd much rather stay in his company than bid him goodbye so soon.

"Do you want to come in and say goodnight to Addie?" she asks when he parks along the side street.

"Isn't she asleep?"

"She usually pretends with Edith," she laughs, "When I come home after a late shift, she's up the moment Edith steps out."

Harry chuckles and removes the key from the ignition. "She's cheeky," he grins, "Probably gets that from me, sorry."

Kennedy tries to smile at the idea, but her guilt makes it hard.

Once inside, he waits in the living room as Kennedy makes small talk with Edith. Unexpectedly, Edith turns out to be a teenager. Barely sixteen, Harry predicts. But it's obvious she cares for Addison by the way she briefs Kennedy on every single thing she did today. She explains how much food the child ate, how much medication she gave her, and how many naps she took right down to the smallest detail. Kennedy thanks her and, before she mutters her final farewell for the night, she's introduced to Harry. Edith merely waves shyly and departs before he has the chance to greet her in response.

"She, uh," Kennedy snickers after shutting the door, "She has a little crush on you."

His eyebrows raise in realization. "Oh, lovely."

Kennedy continues to laugh quietly, ushering him in the direction of the bedroom. Once inside, Addison seems to open her eyes the moment she senses them standing above her.

"I knew Harry was here," she smiles. It's faint and her skin seems almost translucent this evening, even in the dim light of the room.

"How did you know?" Kennedy asks her, reaching down to brush a piece of hair from her face. Her voice always gets soft when she talks to Addison, and for reasons he can't explain it comforts Harry.

"Just a feeling."

Harry grins and notes the pink rabbit clutched loosely in her hands.

"Are you sleeping over again?" Addison asks him, pausing for too long between each word.

"I can't," he tells her sadly, "But I'll be back to visit soon, I promise."

"Can we play the fruit game again?"

"Absolutely."

"I really like that game."

Kennedy smiles when Addison's eyelids seem to flutter. "Okay, gorgeous, past your bedtime. Say night night to Harry."

"Goodnight, Harry," she whispers.

"Goodnight." He squeezes her hand lightly and waits until her eyes are closed in sleep to leave the room.

Quietly, they leave the toddler to her dreams, keeping the door open a crack as usual.

"We upped one of her meds today," Kennedy informs him as they near the front door out in the hall, "She's usually not so sluggish." Her hand pulls nervously at her neck and it's obvious how scared she is.

"Hey," he makes sure she's listening closely, "She'll be fine, okay? Don't worry."

She nods even though it's impossible for her not to worry about such a thing.

"Get some rest, Kenn. I'll call you tomorrow."

"Okay," she says, turning the knob, "I'll walk you out."

They stride past the landing and reach the main door of the building, but before Kennedy can open it, Harry speaks up.

"I meant what I said before," he reminds her, "Remember that."

She doesn't want to because she's still fully convinced she doesn't deserve even a sliver of the faith he seems to have in her, and he'll realize that soon enough.

"Thanks for dinner, Harry."

He catches her off guard when he leans down, kisses her cheek, and pulls back like there was nothing to it. With half a smile, he wraps his hand around the door handle and pushes it open, but behind it is something he surely did not see coming nor is he prepared for right now.

Clad in her brown trench coat and skinny jeans with her hair as platinum blonde as ever.

"Miranda?"

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