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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11. So long, my luckless romance. My back is turned on you.

He doesn’t fully understand why he’s doing this to himself. If someone were to walk in and witness this depression, he wouldn't have a reason should they ask what he's doing this for. It’s salt in his wounds. Piles of it. But he can’t fight off the desire he has to see them. He has to take them out from their hideout one last time. He stares with unfocused vision at the photo albums scattered around the floor, each of them opened to still scenes of him and Kennedy captured in moments he didn’t think would someday bring him so much heartache.

Each glossy photograph punches a new hole in his chest. From the shot that caught her by chance lying in their field with her hair bordering her face in dancing spirals like he always loved to the one of them at their first dance with her on his arm in the most stunning white dress he’d ever seen, every single print in the books pulls at the stress lines on his forehead. Aggressively, he wipes half his face with his hand in an attempt to erase the anguish she’s caused him, but he fails. These are years of his life in these books and to know he'll never have them again cuts like a knife.

He feels stupid. Worse, he finally sees he’s wasted these four years waiting for something that was never going to happen. Waiting for someone who no longer exists. Every hopeful day he spent still trusting that she’d return to him has been thrown out the window. What they had is over. Kennedy was right. She’s not the person he sees in these photographs. She’s lost the youth in her eyes and the admiration that used to shine through her smile whenever she grinned at the camera he held in front of her face. He wants so badly for these pictures to come alive so he can jump back in time and do it all over. Prevent her from ever leaving him in the first place and stay with her through Addison and the leukemia and the rest of their lives. The three of them as one family forever. But he can’t. It’s too late, and living in the past is doing nothing but lying to him. He’s stopping from this point on. The Kennedy he knew and loved is trapped in these paper images, two-dimensional and far from his reach, and it’s about time he gave up finding her in this life for good.

The abrupt buzzer beside the front door rings and pries his tired eyes away from the albums for the first time in hours. He rises to his feet, hopping over the piles of laundry he’s been meaning to do scattered around the bedroom floor. The books and CD’s spread over the living room coffee table tell him how careless he’s been the past few days about the wellbeing of his flat. He brushes it all off for now, stuffing his hands into the worn hoodie he’s been wearing for two days straight.

“Yes?” he speaks blandly into the intercom after pushing the receiver button.

“Harry? It’s me.” The voice originating from downstairs startles him at first. He was expecting a mailman or someone generic and far less confrontational.

“Miranda,” he mutters, “Hey.”

“Hey, um, I think we should talk. Is that okay?”

The smaller part in Harry, the one still hung up on his current issues with Kennedy, is insisting in his mind that no, it’s definitely not okay. Not now. Not ever, in fact. But the other part, and it scares him how dominant that part has become in the past few seconds, is what makes him speak.

“Yeah, come on up.”

After pressing the door button and overhearing the sound of it opening downstairs, he sprints back into the bedroom. Quickly he shoves the photo albums under the bed, shoeboxes and all, and pulls his hoodie over his head, double-checking his hair and the state of his t-shirt in the mirror. His curls are flat against his head even after a few aggressive shakes, but it’ll have to do when he hears a soft knock. He runs back to the door and grants her entrance.

“Hi,” she greets him. Her smile is brighter with her hair pulled back like this, so much more pleasant than the last time he saw her.

“Hi, come in.” He motions her inside and shuts the door behind her.

“Wow,” she sighs after scanning the room, “Didn’t know a tornado blew through London this morning.”

“Funny,” he laughs, “Sorry, I’ve been a bit…busy.”

“I brought dinner.” She raises the two plastic bags in her hands. “Burgers, if that’s alright. Been craving them.”

“Is it dinner time already?” He eyes the watch on his wrist, puzzled by the fact that it reads nearly half past seven in the evening. Last time he checked, it was noon.

She rolls her eyes bemusedly in his direction before turning towards the kitchen.

“Wait! Um, over here’s fine,” he points to the coffee table to save her from seeing the stacks of dishes in the sink he hasn't yet washed. But then he remembers the books and CD’s, and thankfully Miranda suggests that the carpeted floor is just fine, like old days when they'd have their dates with Chinese food and black-and-white films on the rug back at her place.

Nervously, he takes a seat beside her, their backs pressed against the bottom of the couch. She doesn’t start serving the fast food but rather sits it on the side and turns to him with her fingers crossed against each other. If she's going to say it, she figures now is the best time.

“I’m sorry,” she sighs deeply.

“Ran, listen, I---”

“Let me finish.” She turns to the junction of her hands and doesn’t remove her eyes from them until her apology is through. “I’m sorry I jumped to conclusions. I should’ve trusted you, you’re right. Even though it looked like I couldn't be more right, I should’ve talked to you first instead of yelling at you and your…friend. I’m not sure what to call her, sorry.”

“Yeah, I don't either…” he murmurs quietly.

“The point is next time I’ll ask, although I’m hoping there is no next time. Unless you have more kids I don’t know about,” she laughs.

“Not that I know of,” he chuckles with her, “There won’t be a next time, Ran. I promise.”

Slowly but surely, he reaches for one of her tightly sealed hands and relaxes it in his.

“My turn?” he asks, “You were right as well. My head has been in the clouds lately. I just didn’t know how to tell you and none of the words would come out right. Plus, all of this has been driving me mad. I’ll admit it.”

Miranda gingerly cups the half of his face she slapped not too long ago and smiles.

“You’ll be alright,” she assures him, “And for what it’s worth, I understand. I’m happy for you two.”

He searches back and forth between her eyes. “What are you talking about?”

“You aren’t getting together?”

The deep, reluctant sigh tells her no before his words come out. “No,” he says, “Kennedy and I are just friends. If you can even call it that.”

“Oh.”

“But I understand if you want to see other people,” he’s quick to point, “Regardless of that, Addison and I are still sort of a package deal now, and two-for-one is a big decision, so yeah, I understand. Absolutely.”

“Well,” Miranda smiles, “I’ve had some time to think and I still want this, Harry. Addison and all.”

“Really?” he asks.

With a run of her finger over a lock of his hair, she nods.

“Because,'' she pauses, holding her breath and then letting it out in a confession he's never heard from her before, ''I love you.''

The glow on her face and the rosiness in her cheeks show she’s been wanting to say this for a while. She’s awaiting his response with a mix of uneasiness and hope in her eyes. He cares for her wellbeing. That’s something he can’t deny. With Kennedy out of the picture now, he can focus more on her. But is that crazy, wonderful four-letter word, one that he’s only ever used with one other person in that sense, something he can say to her?

He rests his forehead against hers and lets her slowly realize he’s not about to repeat it.

“I’m not okay right now,” he whispers, “Everything is off, and I don’t want to say those words until everything is perfect.”

She’s motionless for a moment, but soon she thaws out and wraps her arms around his neck.

“I know,” she tells him, “I got it.”
 



The hospital room is colder than usual today and it’s felt this way for a week straight. Addison lies in bed, clutching Charlie against her chest as she rests. The nurses have left extra blankets but none of them have soothed the child’s trembles. Kennedy wraps her hand around hers, blowing hot air against her tiny icy fingers, hoping something will help bring up her body temperature. All the while she hums her lullaby, occasionally moving strands of thin wavy hair away from her face. The thought of her soon losing those waves breaks her heart.

“Mama, Charlie’s cold, too,” Addison tells her in a soft, raspy voice.

“Oh, no, not Charlie.” Kennedy grips the bear and tucks him into the blankets as well. “Is that better?''

“He says yes, thank you.”

Kennedy smiles half a smile and presses a kiss to her insipid forehead.

“Can Charlie have a kiss as well?”

“Of course.” The bear gets a peck on his button nose and Kennedy looks to her daughter, hoping she’ll have sparked a smile by now, but her face is just as blank as it was yesterday and the day before. Kennedy knows exactly why, and that’s what hurts the most.

“Mama, I miss Harry,” she says it for nearly the tenth time this week.

Kennedy is quiet, silently scorning him for upsetting her like this. He hasn’t come to see her for days and he’s the only thing she’s been able to talk about ever since.

“He’s coming back soon,” she tells him, not certain if it’s a lie yet or not.

“Where did he go? Is he sick?”

Kennedy bites down on her lower lip. “Yes,” she tells her to save her the disappointment, “He’ll be well enough to visit soon.”

“Oh,” Addison’s eyes fall, “Can we make him a card?”

She nods, seeing the genuine concern written all over the toddler’s face. “Yes.”

Another shiver rips through Addison’s spine and her lip quivers in discomfort. Today’s treatment wasn’t as unforgiving as the usual, but with the harshness of having one right after the other nowadays, her tolerance for the pain is low.

“You’ll be alright, sweetheart,” Kennedy wrongfully assures her when her eyes begin to water, “Remember that time you were with Edith and had to come to the doctor without me? You were so brave. Like a big girl. You’ll always be alright, Addie.”

“You promise?” she whimpers.

With a moment of guilt-ridden hesitation, Kennedy nods. “I promise.”

She watches as Addison blinks in understanding, batting down her long eyelashes coated with tears from before. But quicker than Kennedy hears the open door being knocked on, the eyes of the child that have been dull for so many days virtually light up in illuminating beams.

“Harry!” she exclaims, smiling as hard as she possibly can.

Kennedy whips her head around to meet their visitor, unable to contain her own keen curiosity. She lands her eyes on him as his attention is directed only to Addison, grinning at her as if he’s missed her just as much as she’s missed him. He doesn’t acknowledge Kennedy at first and she doesn’t blame him, but it isn’t until someone comes in after him that she realizes the real reason behind that. Dressed in a pantsuit far too posh for a hospital, Miranda struts into the room holding a brightly colored balloon between her French manicured fingers.

“Hello, gorgeous,” Harry greets Addison, placing a kiss atop her head, “How’ve you been?”

“Good,” she happily answers, “Are you feeling better?”

He chooses that moment to meet Kennedy’s eyes for the first time, silently conveying the question of why the toddler is asking such a question. Kennedy merely nods as if to tell him to play along. She seems like the only one fighting the awkwardness of this situation. Both he and Miranda appear as indifferent ever, mostly because they prefer to ignore her presence for the most part.

“Yes,” he tells her animatedly, “I’m feeling great. Thank you for asking.” He turns to present his guest, holding her by the waist, and Kennedy takes that as her cue to get up from her seat near them and move to the far wall. “This is my friend, Miranda.”

“Hi, Addie,” Miranda greets her, “Nice to meet you.”

Addison doesn’t respond to the greeting, too shy and too unfamiliar with the dark lipstick-wearing, designer purse-carrying woman before her. Miranda remembers the warning about the child’s timid nature and tries not to take it personally.

“This is for you,” she says, showing her the balloon. Addison is enthralled in the neon patterns of stars on it and grips the string immediately.

“What do you say, Addie?” Kennedy reminds her quietly from her unfitting spot away from the group.

“Thank you,” the child utters in a soft voice, keeping her eyes shyly averted from her new acquaintance.



She’s never had to sit outside before. It’s always been her and Addie, together forever in that hospital room. It’s always been her job to comfort the child in her hour of need, singing her the lullabies and holding her hand through the trembles. She’s always there to spoon the applesauce into her mouth when she can’t hold up her arm and climb into bed with her when she can’t sleep from the noise of the machines constantly beeping. That’s why now, having to sit outside like this turns out to be more difficult than she thought. She’s not waiting in a chair by the door for the sake of giving Harry and Miranda time with her daughter. She escaped because it’s impossible to be in their company without losing her mind entirely. They ignore her completely, looking past her even toward the wall behind her head as if she’s invisible. It’s sickening to see them interact and it’s even worse to see Addison trying to converse with the woman when she’s so distracted by the intricate shades of her bright eyeshadow.

Kennedy’s conflicted because it’s not that shocking of a situation. She’s the one who told him to stay with Miranda, but she didn’t expect it to feel like this and she definitely didn’t expect him to bring her here, suddenly incorporating her into their life with Addison as if he wants her to become a permanent part someday. Surprisingly, that thought angers her. There’s no way in hell Miranda will replace her. If that’s his plan, he doesn’t know what’s coming to him.

She digs into her pocket and pulls out the folded foil dispenser of pills she’s been working on for the past week, in search of another painkiller to ease the throbbing in her head. Much to her frustration, it’s empty. All of the contents have saved her this week, but there’s no more when she needs them the most.

Just when her troubles couldn’t get any worse, she sees familiar trainers in the corner of her eye as she holds her head in her hands, pointed towards the floor. The shoes walk around her and she feels their owner take a seat beside her, the scent of his cologne identifying him immediately.

“No offense, but I really don’t want to talk to you right now,” she warns him.

“I don’t want to talk to you either.”

She raises her face and sees he’s sitting in the next seat over, leaving the one between them empty.

“You’re awful, you know that?” she says.

“I thought you weren’t talking to me.”

“You broke her heart leaving all of a sudden. She asked about where you were every single day.''

He doesn’t make eye contact, but the guilt stings inside him. The last person on the planet that he wants to hurt is Addison.

“It won’t happen again,” he assures.

“And what the hell are you thinking bringing her here?”

He turns to her then, slightly narrowing his eyes. “I can bring whoever I want.”

“What happened to you?” she asks, appalled.

“A reality check. Look, I’m here for Addison. Just like you said, that’s all I’ll ever be. And you know what? I’m alright with that. That’s all I need. And Miranda is important to me, so I wanted her to meet Addison. That’s not a crime.”

Kennedy wants to yell and scream for the old Harry to come back. The Harry who would never do such nonsense. But she realizes that, in a way, she asked for this. She caused this to happen by telling him he’d never be anything more to her than Addison’s father, and by that fact she can’t object anymore.

“Fine,” she mutters.

His gaze moves back to the busy white room before him full of scattered nurses talking amongst each other, some filing paperwork and some typing on computers.

“Why did you even come out here?” Kennedy asks, her voice sounding purposely rude.

He sighs deeply before rising to his feet and starting for the door again.

“To talk to you,” he answers as he walks past her.

 

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