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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14. In another life, I would make you stay.

Kennedy stares for a moment, unable to grasp the fact that she's standing in front of her. They've spent years apart, but Gemma looks the same. She has the same rich dark brown hair, the same gentle eyes, and the same friendly smile that Harry and apparently now Addison share. But there's uncertainty in the way she carries herself, nervous to be here after such a long time spent being hopelessly furious at her old friend.

''Maybe I shouldn't have come...'' Gemma doubts herself, taking a step toward the exit.

''No, wait.'' Kennedy makes her cease her getaway. ''Please, come inside.''

Quickly, before Gemma has time to change her mind again and leave, Kennedy starts for the door. As she unlocks it, Addison keeps her face hidden in her mother's hair, away from Gemma who can recognize the child almost instantly as the one her brother told her about on the phone.

''I didn't mean to show up unannounced. Harry, uh, gave me the address. I was afraid you wouldn’t even be home,'' Gemma tells her on her way into the flat. She's speaking awfully fast, something she's done when she's nervous since she was Addison's age, but Kennedy catches every word.

''It's alright,'' she assures her, ''I hope you weren't waiting long.''

''Um, about an hour. Enough time to debate leaving a good fifteen times.''

Gemma laughs humorlessly and watches as Kennedy sets the child in her arms down on the floor, beginning to unzip her jacket and untie her shoes.

''Addie, do you know who this is?'' Kennedy asks her in an attempt to lure her out of her chronic shyness.

Addison uneasily shakes her head. Once the outerwear is draped over a chair, she’s scooped back up and encouraged to look at Gemma's face, which for a reason she can't understand is beginning to resemble someone else’s in her memory.

''This is our friend Harry's big sister,'' Kennedy tells her, ''Gemma. Can you say hi to Gemma?''

It takes a moment, but Addison looks the new face in the eye and greets her, ''Hi.''

Gemma seems to be at a loss for words at first. There's so much of Harry in the child, it's astounding.

''Hello,'' she waves.

''Do you play the fruit game, too?''

Kennedy laughs at Addison's bizarre question, explaining to Gemma that it's merely something she associates Harry with and she doesn’t need to answer.

''Okay, silly. Time for your nap. We'll talk to Gemma more later, alright?''

Addison nods and Kennedy excuses herself for a moment to tuck her into bed. Tonight, she clutches more at the pink rabbit Harry gave her, whom she's named Henry for whatever reason, and the last thing she says before she drifts off to sleep is ''I hope Harry was sick like me, so I'll get better soon, too.'' Kennedy tries not to get upset over it, not with Gemma visiting. But it’s difficult, and it’s even harder to promise her that she will get better. Someday.

Back in the living room, Kennedy brushes off the idea and offers Gemma something to drink. ''I'm out of tea and coffee. It should be a crime, I know... But I have enough juice to supply an army. And water.”

Gemma chuckles, meeting her in the kitchen as she rifles through the fridge. ''Either one is fine.''

Kennedy searches through too many cabinets for some glasses, not used to needing to serve drinks to anyone. Lately she’s been doing quite a lot of that. After finding glasses that aren’t chipped or plastered with cartoons, she pulls out the half gallon carton of apple juice and pours it out. They drinks are set on the kitchen table and she takes a seat across from Gemma.

''How have you been?'' Kennedy asks nervously, “I heard you were doing well in school.''

''Arguably,'' she nods bemusedly, ''I’m working on my Master's.''

''That's wonderful.”

Gemma smiles at her with sparkling eyes. ''She's beautiful, you know.''

''Yeah, she is,'' she agrees, staring down at the untouched glass in her hands.

''You're probably wondering why I'm here.''

Among the millions of questions she wants to ask, that is definitely one of them. ''A bit.''

''Harry called me a while back,'' Gemma explains, ''He told me you had invited him out for coffee. I didn’t believe him at first. Thought he was pulling a prank.”

Kennedy bites her tongue at the thought of how Gemma must have felt to hear such news. Furious, probably.

''I told him not to go...'' she admits, ''But then he said he'd already went and that he'd found out something.''

Gemma is looking at Kennedy in an ambiguous expression and Kennedy holds her breath.

''He told me about Addison,'' she explains softly, ''And how she was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.''

''I bet he told you what an awful person I am, keeping her from him.''

Gemma shakes her head. ''He told me you were incredible, especially with taking care of her.''

It’s obvious by the dark sadness in her eyes that Harry also told her about Addison's condition and how serious it is.

''Listen,'' she sighs, ''Honestly, I didn't ever plan on coming here. I've spent so many years angry. It was strange to suddenly turn a switch and change.''

She reaches across the table to take one of Kennedy's cold hands.

''But when he told me all of that, I had to see you. I had to apologize, Kenn, for being so wrong for so long. I had no idea that was why you left. I'm so sorry.''

Kennedy is quick to refute. ''You were right to hate me.''

''You were pregnant and alone. What other choice did you have? I remember your parents and how bloody awful they treated you. Sorry if that's blunt but it's the cold truth. Harry might have gotten upset that you didn't tell him, but I understand why you ran. I get it, Kenn. And that's why I'm so sorry. I've wronged you and wasted all of these years without my best friend.''

''I should have answered the phone,'' Kennedy reminds her quietly, already feeling tears building in the back of her eyes.

''You were terrified! I can't even imagine what you had to go through. You didn't do anything wrong, love.''

She wants to get down on her knees and beg Gemma not to tell her that. She's doneeverything wrong. But after today, when one person has so abruptly opted out of her life, another has come to offer her a rekindling of friendship and the timing of such a reunion is the best thing she could have asked for.

''When Harry told me everything,'' Gemma continues her explanation, ''The first thing I told him was he has to stay with you and be a proper father. I even advised him to end it with Miranda. It wasn’t worth anything to begin with.''

''I thought Miranda was a friend of yours.''

''Friend? I wouldn’t say that. Just an old roommate. She can be sweet, but she drove me mad if I'm being honest.''

Kennedy's confusion is obvious on her face. ''Then why set them up?''

''I didn't think it'd last long at all,'' she defends, ''Since you left, he hadn't gone anywhere or done a single thing. He sat at home every day watching telly like a miserable old man. I figured she'd take him out a few places and show him what he's been missing out in the world. I even told her that that was her only job. I don't think she listened.''

''He brought her to the hospital today.''

Gemma's eyes nearly pop out of her skull. ''He's still with her?''

Kennedy nods.

''The sneaky rat, he told me he wasn't.''

''I think they were separated for a bit after he told her about me and Addie. But as of,'' she double-checks her watch, ''five hours ago, they're together.''

''Unbelievable.''

Kennedy's quizzical face prompts her to explain why this is all so hard for her to accept.

''He told me he was going to leave her like I told him,'' she admits, “And try to be with you.”

It only confirms that today's awful incident was her own fault. Kennedy returns to staring down at her still untouched beverage.

''That was never going to happen, Gemma.''

''Why not?''

She sighs. ''I told him I didn't want to be with him.''

''Why would go and tell him a lie like that? Come on, Kenn, you were crazy about each other. He wouldn’t ever shut up about you. It was sickening, quite frankly,'' she laughs, ''But sort of beautiful at the same time. All of that can't be erased in four years.''

''It's complicated...''

''Is it really? Or is it just that you don't want to tell me?''

Kennedy stirs in her seat uneasily. ''It's not that I don't want to be with him. Having him here has made everything feel so...easy. And right. But I can't be with him like that. Not with after what I did.''

''He told me you were never going to get over that…'' Gemma points.

''I'm not. It's not something you just move on from.''

''Why isn't it? Tell me, Kenn, because I don't understand. Maybe it's the psychologist in me coming out now, but staying so hung up on something like this isn't healthy.''

Kennedy looks her straight in the eye.

''If I told you, I would lose you all over again.''

Gemma tightens her grip on her hand. ''I'm not going anywhere. Clearly you know by now that there's no breaking the Styles-Ellis bond. It always finds its way back together,'' she smiles.

She searches for any hint of dishonesty or deceit in Gemma's eyes and finds none. But what scares her is that one day those green eyes, the same ones she saw in Harry today, will turn on her.

''When I'm ready,'' Kennedy proposes, ''I'll explain everything. From the beginning.''

''I'll bring the Cadbury and shoulder to cry on,'' Gemma offers, grinning at her with a smile so big it's contagious.

''It's really so good to see you,'' Kennedy tells her honestly.

''And you, love. But you have to promise me something.''

''Anything.''

''If I call you, will you answer the phone from now on?'' she teases.

Kennedy laughs and with a nod, she says, ''Of course.''

 


 

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