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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15. In another life, I would make you stay. part 2


Having Gemma active in her life once more gives Kennedy more of a backbone. She has someone she can rely on who's proven to be trustworthy and quite the advice giver in the past. The only possible flaw in any of it is that she's so close to Harry, she's literally blood. In the event of a feud between them, it's clear and understandable that Gemma will always side with her brother. Whether that'll get in the way of her friendship with Kennedy given the circumstances is up for speculation.

As Gemma sits on the floor of the dining room in front of Addie and her toys, there's something special about the way she looks at the child. It's strange for her to think that the bubbly little girl who has finally overcome her shyness with her new friend is her niece. She's her baby brother's baby, and it's hard to wrap her head around that fact.

Kennedy watches the pair from the corner of her eye as she washes up dishes in the kitchen. It's the second night this week that Gemma has come over for dinner and volunteered to make the meal.

She gets to know Addison similarly to how Harry did. But whereas Harry's friendship with the child was nearly instantaneous, it's taken Gemma a bit longer to convince Addison that she's safe to open up to.

''So this is Charlie,'' Gemma points to the bear having already been introduced to him, ''But who is this?''

Addison hugs the pink rabbit closer to her heart and smiles. ''This is Henry. Harry gave him to me.''

''Oh, how sweet of him. You know once he gave me a bracelet for my birthday?'' She shows her one of the silver chains on her wrist decorated in charms. ''See, it's this one.''

''Wow, that's pretty,'' Addison grins, marveling over the bright embellishments that catch the light and sparkle.

''Would you like to wear it?''

Her eyes, the ones that shock Gemma as they look so much like Harry's with the exception of their color, light up at her offer.

''Yes, please,'' she smiles.

Gemma unhooks the bracelet and wraps it twice around Addison's thin wrist so that it fits.

''That looks almost as lovely as you,'' she compliments her.

After excitedly thanking her dozens of times, Addie goes on talking even more to Gemma, rarely ever seeming to stop. Most of her stories revolve around Harry. It's clear she's become attached to him, but she doesn't talk about him like he's her father and it concerns Gemma that she doesn't know yet. Before she has the chance to politely excuse herself from her play date and have a serious talk with Kennedy, the obnoxious doorbell rings.

“Remind me to get a new bell or yank it out,'' Kennedy smirks as she dries her hands on the front of her jeans.

Gemma laughs and lets her tend to the door. Kennedy turns the knob and of course, she's greeted by the one person she's been trying to avoid. Dressed in an outfit that seems far too formal than anything she knows he owns, complete with a blazer and beige khaki pants, he stands before her looking like he's just come from a date. But he definitely didn't dress himself, that's for sure. Kennedy almost laughs at how ridiculous he looks.

''Hello,'' Harry greets her blandly, ''I told Addison I'd come to see her.''

''She's a bit preoccupied at the moment.'' Kennedy keeps her eyes averted from his. A peculiar thing happens whenever she looks at his face now. She sees the face of a stranger and that's not just because his hair is suddenly perfectly hairsprayed into place rather than the disheveled waves she's so used to. There's an entirely different person who she hasn't had the discomfort of meeting yet standing in her doorway.

''With what?'' he asks, slightly bewildered.

''Babe, you left your phone in the car,'' an amused voice nears them from around the corner and Kennedy's eyes widen.

''You brought her? To my house? Are you mad?''

He rushes to hush her as Miranda emerges and stands beside him, suggestively slipping the phone into his back pocket. She's dressed quite outrageously as well, but Kennedy expects it from her.

''Hello,'' she greets Kennedy, but it's neither pleasant nor well-intended. Kennedy doesn't say a word, keeping her eyes narrowed.

''Anyway,'' she turns back to Harry, ''Like I said, she's preoccupied right now. You can come back later. Alone.''

''What?'' Miranda glares.

''You heard me.''

It doesn't go unnoticed that Kennedy uses the same insolent line that was used on her the day she saw the woman for the first time.

''What's going on?'' Gemma arrives behind Kennedy after catching the last defensive bit of the conversation and deciding now might be the proper time to intrude.

''Gemma?'' Harry creases his eyebrows, ''What are you doing here?''

''Uh, long story, really. Meant to call. Sorry.''

''You know her?'' Miranda asks him, ready to get angry at yet another woman in his life she doesn't know about.

''Ran, you know her, too.'' He stares at her incredulously. Kennedy smirks. Is she daft or what?

''Oh,'' Miranda suddenly realizes, ''Gemma, hi! You look...different. Did you cut your hair?''

Gemma shakes her head. ''No, but it's been a while.'' She laughs in an attempt to be the mediator. She isn't Miranda's biggest fan either, but she can't let that show and especially not now when you could cut the tension between them all with a knife.

There's a long moment of silence during which none of the four say a word and it isn't broken until Gemma clears her throat nervously and comes to the rescue.

''So, uh, Miranda, long time no see, yeah? I think I've lost your number when I changed phones... Mind stepping out and giving it to me?''

Before she can object, Gemma's ushering her out past the landing and through the main door, purposely giving Kennedy and Harry a moment to themselves.

''I can't believe you,'' Kennedy sighs as she turns back into flat.

''Save the lecture.'' He stiffly follows her and shuts the door behind him.

''How dare you bring her to my place,'' she says, crossing her arms over each other, ''I don't want her here.''

''You sure are picky about what you want and don't want.''

''Seriously? That's what this is about?'' she scoffs, ''If you can't handle rejection, Harry, you're going nowhere in life.''

He turns to glare at her. ''That's not what this is about. I'm happy where I am. I just came by to see Addison and instead I get you blowing up at me.''

''What else do you expect when you show up unannounced with your girlfriend?''

''Since when do you hate her guts? Just a while ago, you were telling me how awful you felt for screaming at her.''

''Yeah, well, people change.''

He scoffs quietly. ''You would know.''

She's taken aback by the severity of his defenses tonight. That last one hit her hard and she's at a loss of a comeback that cruel. Her hand flies up to her temples, feeling a migraine coming on already.

''Look,'' he sighs, ''I'm here to see Addison and that's it.''

When Kennedy speaks, her voice is low and hurt. ''Gemma put her in the room. See her and then get out.''

She turns her back to him to secretly wipe the buildup of tears in her eyes at his insults, and for a moment he feels his hard shell begin to soften. But he doesn't have time to act on it when Gemma returns, evidently leaving Miranda outside.

''I told her to wait by the car,'' she informs them. Judging by the tension of their stances, she draws the conclusion that she's just walked in on an argument.

''Didn't you hear me?'' Kennedy asks thickly.

''Kenn, don't be like that.''

She whips around to show him her reddening face. ''Be like what? Hurt? Because that's what I am.''

His eyes that have held glares for so long these past few days are suddenly showing hints of sympathy.

''I don’t even know who you are anymore. I never thought you'd do this to me,'' she cries, ''You promised me I wasn't alone and that you'd be here. You said you forgave me.''

She violently swipes the backs of her hands over her cheeks.

''I've fucked you over, I know,'' she admits, ''Everyone knows. Maybe I deserve this. But I can tell you I never expected it from you.''

Quicker than any of them can catch it, Harry returns to his narrow eyes, open chest, and tight fists.

''You expected me to chase you everywhere you went, but I'm done doing that, Kennedy. I'm done running after you when you leave. Maybe a taste of your own medicine is what you needed.''

''Harry,'' Gemma firmly calls him out as if warning him to watch what he's saying.

''Are you guys fighting?''

The tiny voice from the tiny toddler standing by the door she's pushed open is whimpering in fear having overheard some of the shouting. Kennedy immediately turns her face away in shame.

''No, Addie, we're not fighting,'' Harry rushes to tell her, his voice considerably softer than seconds earlier.

''You were yelling,'' she tells him with a quivering lip.

No one corrects her because she's right. Kennedy quickly crosses the room to scoop her up into her arms and press her head to her shoulder.

''Go home,'' Kennedy tells Harry threateningly, ''And don't come back.''

She departs into the bedroom, locking it behind her so she can comfort her daughter in peace. Out of anger, Harry reaches for the front door and slams it behind him, escaping onto the landing.

Gemma follows him and keeps him from going where Miranda can see him. She tells him the cold truth he needs to hear.

''You're both acting like children,'' she says with a shake of her head, ''And it's about time you focus less on your stupid ego and more on that little girl.''

''You don't know what she did to me, Gemma,'' he accuses, turning to stare her down with powerful eyes.

''You're right. I don't have a bloody clue how you feel at all. But your feelings mean nothing next to the wellbeing of that child, do you hear me? Get your act together.''

''You're not my mother.''

She scoffs disbelievingly. ''And you think Mum would be proud to see you acting like this? What the hell is wrong with you? Look at you, you've gone mad.''

''Yeah, I have! Mad for her, Gemma! I always have been!''

He runs his hands through his hair, pulling at the strands hard enough to hopefully knock some sense into him.

''Then what are you with that crackshot for? God, your relationships are still childish even four years later!''

''Because,'' he sighs, defeated, ''I'm tired. I waited nearly four years, Gemma. Four years. For nothing. I can't fight for her anymore. It's too much. I have to move on.''

''Well you're doing a proper shit job at it. Moving on isn't rubbing the new girlfriend in the old girlfriend's face, you idiot. Were you trying to make her jealous bringing Miranda out here like that?''

''No,'' he says quietly, ''Yes. I don't know...''

She approaches him, placing her hands on his tall shoulders.

''You know better than this,'' she reminds him, ''And I know you know none of this is right. So fix it.''

''How?''

''If you honestly like Miranda, and I can't fathom why, no offense, then you need to be serious about her. Don't just drag her to every encounter you have with Kenn. And speaking of Kenn, you need to talk to her. Properly. No yelling and no rude comments. What you said back there was awful, Harry, honestly.''

''I was angry.''

''Clearly.''

''What am I supposed to do when the person I want to be with doesn't want to be with me, Gemma? It's impossible to be in the same room as her and not feel anything for her,'' he admits in a rushed whisper. He can't afford either side, the woman in the flat or the woman out by the car, to hear this.

''I don't think she knows what she wants.''

''Is that what she told you?'' his eyes brighten, ''What else did she say?''

Gemma shakes her head. ''She hasn't told me a thing. Look, I just got here, alright? I didn't know you people had a bloody soap opera going on...''

He groans, hiding his face in his hands for a moment. ''I hate this. I want things to go back to normal.''

''Says the kid in a blazer,'' she laughs, ''What the hell are you wearing, Haz?''

He pulls carelessly at the hem. ''Miranda got it for me.''

''Oh, joy.''

''She's not so bad, alright?'' he tells her matter-of-factly, ''At least she doesn't lie to me.''

''Look, if she makes you happy, I'm happy,'' her voice softens, ''But like I said, the way you're going about this is wrong. So, so, wrong. You need to---''

Before she can conclude her sentence, the flat door opens and out runs a red faced Addison, sprinting directly for Harry with Charlie gripped in her hand.

''Harry, don't go,'' she sobs, ''Please.''

He kneels and opens his arms for her, scooping her against his chest. She rests her head in the crook of his neck and clings to him the hardest he's ever felt. He and Gemma look toward the doorway and spot Kennedy holding it open, her face swollen and her eyes bleak. She walks away slowly and silently, leaving the door open for whenever Addie chooses to come back inside.

''Mama was crying again,'' Addie cries into him, ''You have to make it better.''

Harry's face is twisted in agony as he tries to comfort her, rocking her back and forth. Gemma holds the tensed spot between her eyes.

''I'll try,'' he promises the child, ''I promise.''

 



The thick steam filling the bathroom is making him lightheaded, but the hot water hitting his face from the overhead shower brings him back to earth. His head aches and his muscles are tense after a harsh, sleepless night. He could think of nothing but the pain on Kennedy’s and Addison’s face for hours. Even now, he can’t get the images out of his mind. Even the sight of Gemma’s disappointment in him has his heart racing in shame.

After ceasing the water and stepping out onto the humid floor, he grabs a towel and leans on the sink to kill time. Miranda’s just outside, likely waiting for him, and he’s not sure if he can deal with her right now. He wipes the fog off the mirror and sees an unknown staring back at him.

Kennedy’s words suddenly make sense. I don’t know who you are anymore.

He doesn’t recognize his reflection. There’s a darkness in his eyes that wasn’t there a few days ago. His cheekbones are sleeker from scarcely eating out of stress and he looks at least five years older.

“I hate when Gemma’s right,” he mumbles to himself, turning on his heel and escaping out into the clear air of the bedroom.

He eyes the maroon button-up and pair of dark wash trousers laid out on the bed and chooses to ignore him. Miranda will learn eventually that she can’t dress him like a doll. Instead he settles on a t-shirt and jeans, all black and all satisfyingly rebellious.

“Good morning,” Miranda sings when she hears him open and shut the bedroom door, “Guess who made breakfast!”

He enters the kitchen to find her in front of the counter on her cell phone. There are plates on the table with single pieces of bread on them and glasses of orange juice beside them.

“You made toast,” he points.

“Yeah,” she seems thoroughly proud of herself when she turns to him, but her smile is quickly wiped off, “What have you done to your hair?”

“Nothing,” he tells her honestly. He pushed it back into a beanie and decided it was as good as it was going to get today.

“Alright, then.”

He picks ups a slice of toast and takes a bite. “You’re going to work?”

“Not until noon.” She smiles and approaches him, wrapping her arms around his waist. “We have a few hours to ourselves.”

“Actually,” he says between chews, “I’m going to see Addison.”

“Oh, lovely, I’m wearing that blouse I wanted to show her.”

“Miranda,” he sighs, “I don’t think you should come with me. It’s just a bit chaotic right now. You understand, right?”

The dissatisfaction in her is obvious, but she nods and loosens her arms. “Yeah, I understand.”

With a kiss atop her head, he thanks her for the toast and tells her he’ll see her later.

“We’ll grab dinner, alright? Whatever you want.” He quickly zips up his jacket and reaches for his car keys.

“Harry?” she calls to him before he reaches the door.

He turns.

“Never mind,” she tries to smile, “See you.”
 

 

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