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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6. I don't know how to be fine when I'm not.

It gets dark quicker than usual tonight. The overcast shadowing the full moon makes the sky a melancholy shade of grey, strategically hiding any color radiating from the sunset off in the horizon. A storm's coming, there's no doubting that. Nevertheless, it doesn't change the minds of the dozens of customers who decide to spend their evening at the restaurant, putting Kennedy through one of the busiest shifts she's had this season. She's been on her feet for nearly twelve hours, forcing smiles and faking enthusiasm. She's taken so many orders on her notepad, her scrawly handwriting has become illegible even to her own eye. The night is never ending, but she sticks around well past her shift for the extra tips. The more money, the better, and that means her utter exhaustion takes a backseat.

After the rush is the first time all day she's had a moment to catch her breath. The restaurant is nearing closing time. She taps her worn fingers on the back counter, patiently waiting for the last pair of customers to finish their meal so she can pick up their dishes and call it a night. Of course, they take their sweet time. She wouldn't mind so much if she wasn't so tired. They're one of her regulars. An elderly couple. Mr. and Mrs. Derek D'Angelo. They come in every week for what they like to call a date night. It makes her smile to see them blush at each other and even more so to catch them holding hands under the table or sharing their pasta. Today, Mrs. D'Angelo complimented Kennedy on her lipstick even though she's not wearing any, gushing over how it brings out her eyes. It's typical of her. The woman always finds something gracious to say about her usual waitress, and when she can't, she makes one up, which would be cute to Kennedy if it wasn't so humiliating at the same time.

After Mr. D'Angelo finishes up the last bit of his chicken Parmesan, he turns his head in search of Kennedy and she promptly jogs over to the table, trying not to drag her tired feet too much.

They send their usual compliments to the chef and tell Kennedy to keep the change when they leave a generous tip. She thanks them warmly and scrapes up the bills as soon as they depart, hand-in-hand, still in love after a baffling 51 years.

After untying the black apron from around her waist and sluggishly pulling on her coat, Kennedy bids goodbye to the few of her remaining coworkers.

''Get some rest, Ellis,'' they tell her, ''And give Addie our love.''

She assures them she will the moment she gets home if she doesn't pass out on her way there. They laugh, but no one offers her a ride or at least an escort down the dark alleys she has to walk through to get home. They care on the surface, but deep down there's no real compassion. She's learned that's true about everyone.

Well, maybe with one exception.

Upon exiting the restaurant and stepping out into the brisk air, she notices a familiar car parked on the street and leaning against the familiar car stands a familiar head of hair she could easily point out in any crowd.

''Harry?'' She notes how he's burying his chin into the collar of his jacket and tensing his shoulders as a shield against the cold. ''What are you doing here?''

''Just in the area,'' he replies cheekily, his hands tucked into his jean pockets, ''Are you hungry?''

She raises a curious eyebrow. ''Are you going to make me dinner now as well?''

''I could,'' he smiles, ''Or we could go and get something, up to you.''

She's obviously hesitant at first, but he doesn't pressure her. If he's being honest with himself, he doesn't know why he's here. It seemed like the better thing to do when his only other option was to sit at home and watch reruns on television. He'll be fine if all she'd like him to do is take her home, but he'll admit part of him is hoping her answer to dinner is yes.

''Alright,'' she nods, deciding quicker than he expected, ''Just let me call Edith and let her know.''

It takes her too long to pull the phone out of her bag with her near frozen hands and he takes that as a sign to swing open the passenger's side door.

''I drive carefully, I promise.''

She smiles at him on her way to the seat. ''I know you do.''

The warmth of the car comforts her. She wonders how long he's kept the engine running with the heat on just so it would be like this when she came out.

After informing Edith she'll be an hour or so late and giving her the green light to tuck Addison into bed, she turns to Harry sitting on the driver's side and makes him promise not to take her anywhere expensive.

''Deal,'' he exclaims as he begins to drive, ''Nando's isn't too posh, is it?''

''It's perfect,'' she laughs.

Once they arrive, she tries not to be self-conscious about what she looks like. She catches her exhausted reflection in the car window and wonders why the hell she lets herself go out in public like this. Being with Harry so casually like this makes her feel like an awkward teenager again, complete with the anxious nerves and embarrassment over tiny things like if she's laughing too much or talking too fast. It's a strange feeling. Frankly everything with him lately has felt strange in one way or another.

Harry orders for her, remembering what she always used to get and surprisingly getting it right. For the first few minutes, Kennedy is silent. It's no surprise considering how fast she's downing her salad. Harry can only look on, quite amused.

''You're enjoying that,'' he chuckles after swallowing a bit of his chicken.

She eyes him and suddenly realizes how much of her meal has disappeared compared to his.

''Sorry,'' she rushes to contain herself, setting down her fork.

''No, it's okay. Go on.''

She shakes her head.

''Kenn, I'm serious,'' he laughs, ''Eat.''

With a sigh in surrender, she continues, but much slower this time. She's mindful of every bite, suspicious that he's watching her the entire time.

''Can I ask you something?'' he speaks up after some time.

''I haven't had Nando's in a while,'' she tells him quickly and quietly, assuming he's wondering why she's acting like she hasn't eaten in weeks, ''And you know money's tight, so I have to focus on feeding Addis---''

''That's not what I was going to ask.''

She's staring down at her hands, away from his sympathetic eyes. He takes her silence as a cue to continue.

''I was going to ask if you like working at that restaurant.''

She tips her head from side to side. ''It's okay. I never had a preference to what I wanted to spend my life doing, so I guess I can't complain.''

''So you think you'll always be a waitress, then.''

She smiles, but it's not a smile out of amusement. ''What else can I do?''

''You finished school, didn't you? You got your degree.''

''I can't get a normal job, Harry. I have to get something flexible so that I can be home with Addie. I have to sacrifice.''

''No, not anymore,'' he objects, ''I'm here.''

She meets his eyes but only for a brief moment before she's hiding again.

''I can't count on something that's not set in stone.''

''I'm staying,'' he says firmly, ''That's set in stone. I told you that.''

Kennedy doesn't answer. She's not sure how to. She's used to people giving her the cold shoulder. That's just how life is. Everyone does their own thing. No one cared when she was seven months pregnant walking up the steep stairs to her flat. No one cared when she had to take herself to the hospital when she was going into labor. No one cared when they saw her crying on the building floor, holding her infant in her arms and begging her to make a sound so she'd know she wasn't dead. No one ever cares, and now she's supposed to believe that he will. It's hard because he does now. She doesn't doubt that part. But will he in a year? Three years? Ten years? She's changed his entire life in a matter of weeks. She can't count on the hope he'll stick around. Especially after things start to get worse.


 

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