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.


8. It's not much of a life you're living.

Harry's shoulders stiffen the moment his eyes land on her. He curses at himself under his breath, agonized over the fact that fate is being so cruel to him today. He's not ready to tell her. Not now, not like this.

''Wow,'' Miranda scoffs in disbelief at the pair that stand pale-faced before her, ''Brilliant. Just brilliant.''

He struggles to find his voice at first, and when it finally emerges it’s small and quiet. ''What are you doing here?''

''I came by to see how you were,'' she tells him, sounding strangely calm. It makes Harry think of the slow ticks of a bomb before it detonates. ''And I saw you leaving.''

''So you followed me.’'

He doesn’t realize he sounds harshly accusatory until the words come out.

''I needed to see where the hell you go when you cancel all the damn time!'' she suddenly shrieks.


''Or better yet, when you stand me up, for Christ's sake!''

Kennedy tries to stay out of the situation entirely and pretend she’s not here, inconveniently trapped against the door. She can do nothing but stare at the wall, nervously shuffling her feet.

“I’ve never stood you up, Miranda, that’s ridiculous.”

“You don’t even know what you’re doing lately! Your head’s always in the bloody clouds!”

''My head is  not in the clouds. And I can't believe you followed me,'' he tells her when he suddenly realizes what she did. His voice is surprisingly quite steady considering he can't feel his legs.

''Well,'' she huffs, ''I'm glad I did, I'll tell you that. I had my suspicions, Harry, but this? This never crossed my mind. I thought you were different.”

She's gripping the leather strap of her handbag so tightly, even from a distance Kennedy can see her knuckles turning white.

''What are you talking about?''

''You know just fucking well what I'm talking about!'' she screams, ''I bet you're gonna say she's just a friend, yeah? Who is she?'' She nods in disgust in Kennedy's direction.

''Never mind her,'' Harry tries to avert bringing Kennedy into this, ''I don't know what you're implying, Ran, but---''

''Never mind her, he says. You think I'm an idiot? You want to know what I think you are? A two-timing piece of shit, that's what!''

Kennedy's eyes shut tight at the accusation. She knew this was coming the moment Harry swung open the door.

''What?'' Harry is just as astounded. ''You think I'm  cheating on you?''

''I  know you are.'' When he opens his mouth to object, she raises her voice even more. ''Don't lie to me, Styles! I saw you kiss her in the window!''

''No, you don't understand. It's not what you---''

''And a waitress? Really? You couldn't find anyone better? Bit cheap, don't you think?'' She scoffs at the uniform.

''Excuse me?'' Kennedy's mind is screaming.  No, no, shut up, shut up. Stay in your little indifferent corner or else. But her stubborn head makes her mouth move and blood boil without her consent.

''You heard what I said!'' Miranda shrieks, staring her down in disbelief that she has the nerve to talk to her.

Kennedy pushes a few inches past Harry and glares at the woman she's officially decided she definitely does not like.

''Go to hell,'' she mocks.

Clumsily, balanced on too-high ankle boots nowhere near ideal for a fight, Miranda climbs the steps of the building and lunges for Kennedy, calling her a whore.

''Whoa, whoa, take it easy! That's enough!'' Harry forces his way between them before any contact is made. Much to Miranda's dismay, he protectively ushers Kennedy behind him, guarding her with his broad and now very defensive stature.

All Miranda can do is stare. The fiery anger that was raging in the dark pupils of her eyes just moments ago has been replaced by sheer disappointment in him that's only just now begun to surface.

She sighs quietly, moving her gaze back and forth between his face and the still fuming Kennedy shielded behind him. She's never seen him act like this before, not even to protect her. His eyes are wide and threatening, but the way his arms create a gentle barricade around Kennedy tells Miranda that he's not angry. He's afraid. For Kennedy’s safety.

She watches his lips begin to part cautiously with something he wants to say, but she doesn't want to hear it. Quicker than any of them realize, she raises a hand and slaps it hard against his face, producing a noise that only sounds when skin meets skin in an excruciating pain. But despite the stinging on his cheek, he does nothing in response. He keeps his head turned the other way for a moment, pausing to accept that he probably deserved that. Kennedy merely looks on, sending livid glares at Miranda from her peeks over his shoulder.

''Miranda...'' he says monotonously.

But she won't listen. She turns on her heel, wiping away tears as she stalks down the stairs and back onto the sidewalk.

''Miranda, wait!'' he yells after her.

Swiftly, he turns and sets his hands on the sides of Kennedy's arms. ''Go inside,'' he tells her.

She's reluctant, but Harry begs.

''Please. I need to talk to her and sort this out.''

His desperate face, half of it still red from Miranda's assault, is enough to convince her. She nods and returns to her flat, taking one last look at his unpromising smile before going inside.

She leans back against the shut front door, trying to numb the feeling of her speeding heart. That was brutal. Deep down, she knows she should've have snapped so easily. Miranda was misinformed and hurt. The way she slapped Harry and had the nerve to insult her so deeply about her work didn't sit well with Kennedy in the slightest, but she should have been the bigger person and it takes her until now, when it's too late, to realize that.

In search of some comfort, she enters the quiet bedroom and checks on Addison. Thankfully she wasn't awakened by any of the childish arguing going on just a few feet from where she lays. She's sleeping quite soundly actually, and there seems to be a tiny smile on her face. Kennedy hopes she's dreaming about something beautiful and that it brings her some relief.

The mattress in the corner calls out to her and she takes a seat against the pillows. Her day has been chaos and a bed, even one as uncomfortable as this, feels like heaven against her sore muscles. But no amount of rest right now can ease the throbbing of her brain. She lets her face fall into her hands and mind drift off to whatever must be going on with the moody couple she's just left.

She imagines Harry taking off running for Miranda after she strut over to her car parked hidden off the back street. They must be arguing still. He must be begging her to understand like the noble man he is, so unlike Kennedy in her cowardice. He must be coming clean about his daughter and the illness and everything. And, at least in Kennedy's mind, Miranda must be shocked. Overwhelmed. Completely and utterly bewildered. Maybe she thinks he's lying. Maybe not. Whichever the case, it's enough of a living nightmare to make Kennedy's eyes heavier and close without her consent. Still dressed in her work uniform and white trainers, she falls asleep, and she doesn't reawaken until her ears are nearly bursting from Addison's wails.

Hurriedly, she checks the cell phone on the desk for the time.  3:46am. She groans. But underneath reads five missed calls, each of them from Harry and each made every hour since he left. She makes a mental note to touch base with him but not now. There's someone else who needs her attention far more.

''Mama,'' Addison screams helplessly, ''Why does it feel different?''

''I'm sorry,'' Kennedy is quick to cross the room and pull her against her chest, ''I know it hurts.''

''More,'' the child cries, ''It hurts more. Why?''

It breaks Kennedy's heart not to have an answer for her. She merely takes a seat back against her sinking pillows with the trembling toddler still clinging to her.

''It'll get better in a moment, I promise,'' she says, ''Just think of something happy, okay? Something that makes you smile.''

A forced tremor surges through Addison's tiny body and she sobs harder, hiding her face in her mother's shirt.

''Make it go away,'' she pleads.

''Okay,'' Kennedy tries to fight her burning eyes, ''Okay, Mama's going to make it go away. Here we go.''

Her hand rests on the back of Addison's head and she starts to rock her like she used to do when she was an infant. Once the lullaby begins, Addison's cries don't soften right away and Kennedy knows it's going to take a lot tonight to get her to calm down.

'' You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,'' she sings to her gently,  '' You make me happy when skies are grey.''

Addison almost can't hear the song over the ringing in her ears and it upsets her. She's trying so hard to listen, but her own body won't let her and that's the most painful part.

''You'll never know, dear,'' Kennedy goes on after placing a kiss on her forehead,  ''How much I love you.'' She finishes the lullaby in a hum and starts again, repeating the lyrics over and over again until Addison can finally hear them.

It takes an hour, maybe two to pacify her sobs. The sun is beginning to rise in warm colors outside the window. But Addison is still now, her body limp but finally tranquil in her mother's arms. She wants to go back to sleep. Her eyes are just about to when the cell phone vibrates and Kennedy nearly curses at it, rushing to silence the startling sound.

But it's Harry and she knows he's probably worried that she hasn't answered, so she obliges, speaking softly so as to not disrupt Addison.

''Hello?'' she whispers into the receiver as she gently rolls Addison off her shoulder and onto the mattress below, safely near her so she can sleep in peace.

''Are you alright?'' is the first thing he asks.

''I'm fine, I fell asleep.''

''Oh, good,'' he sighs.

''Are  you alright? How’s your face?''

''It's nothing,'' he dismisses it, ''I'm okay. Sorry about what happened. I didn't want you to be pulled into it like that.''

Kennedy is about to rise from the bed and depart into the living room to continue the conversation when Addison takes the free hand she didn't realize was twitching out of nerves. It's her way of asking her to stay, and that's something she can't say no to.

''I was bound to become a part of it,'' she chuckles humorlessly, ''Besides, it's not your fault.''

''It is. It wouldn't have happened if I'd just told her the truth when I had the chance.''

She sighs deeply before reminding him of something he once told her.

''Things happen.''

''It was still wrong of her to talk to you like that,'' he admits, ''I told her it was, too.''

''What else did you tell her?''

He knows what she's hinting at and it makes the pit of his stomach feel hollow.

''I told her that she didn't understand. Asked her to let me explain,'' he answers as if he's rehearsed this bit, ''She didn't really let me, but I did it anyway and hopefully some of it got through to her.''

''You told her about Addison?''

''Yeah,'' he says, ''And about you and how I’m  not cheating. I made it clear that I found it offensive how little she trusts me.''

''What did she say?''

''I'm, uh, not sure if she believes me about any of it,'' he replies quietly, ''She asked for some time to think, so I said okay and she drove away.''

''I'm sorry,'' she sighs, ''She'll come around.''

''Yeah, probably.''

''As strange as it sounds, I think she's handling it quite well.''

''Yeah,'' he laughs, ''You could say that.''

''I feel awful for snapping at her.''

''Oh, come off it, Kenn. She deserved it.''

''How can you say that? She was hurt. I probably would've lunged at me, too, if I were in her position.''

''I doubt that. You're just too good of a person.''

She tries not to dwell on the irony of his statement.

''By the way,'' he throws in, ''What are you doing up? You're off today, aren't you?''

She sighs. She hasn't had a day off in years. Any time not spent at the restaurant is spent in the hospital, waiting for Addison to finish suffering through one of the harshest medical treatments in existence. There is never a moment's peace in her life.

''Addie woke up,'' is all she has to say.

''Is she back asleep now?''

Kennedy eyes her daughter absentmindedly playing with her fingers, all the while seeming to fight the urge to doze off against the pillow.

''Kind of,'' Kennedy smiles.

''Is that Harry?'' Addison asks in a small, sleepy voice, half muffled by the pillow beneath her head.

''Yes, it is.''

''Can I talk to him, please?''

Kennedy smiles and scoots down to lie beside her. ''She wants to talk to you,'' she tells Harry, ''I'm giving her the phone. Not for long though. She needs her sleep.''

Harry agrees and waits to hear the sweet, high-pitched voice that always seems to make him smile.

''Hi,'' she sings softly. Kennedy holds the large phone over her tiny face so she can speak.

''Hey,'' Harry grins, ''How are you feeling?''

''Fine,'' she yawns, ''I saw you in my dream.''

He can't help but close his eyes and imagine that he's with her.

''What was I doing?'' he asks.

''I don't remember,'' Addison says, gently creasing her eyebrows together, ''But I think we were playing with Charlie.''

''Charlie's your best mate, yeah?'' he smiles, ''I like him.''

''He stays with me when I feel bad,'' she says, still twiddling with Kennedy's fingers, ''Harry?''


''When are you coming back?''

There's something tiny and heartbreaking about the way she asks him and he can’t put a finger on why.

''Whenever you want me to.''

''Will you come tomorrow?'' she asks, suddenly hopeful, ''I'm going to the doctor. They give me stickers. You can get one, too.''

''Absolutely,'' he promises, ''I'll be there.''


She can hear the smile in his voice when he responds. “Really.”

Beside the toddler, Kennedy’s heart falls at the possibility that Harry will soon witness Addison at her worst. At her most vulnerable and afraid. She’s suddenly terrified of what he’ll think and how he’ll react and how the hell she’s going to tell him that everything will be okay when, no matter how hard she tries, she can’t even believe that herself.    
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