In Transit || Harry Styles AU

When Mason meets a mysterious guy at a club and goes home with him, she doesn’t ever expect to see him again. But when their paths cross again two years later, they both instantly feel the undeniable force between them. Mason is desperate to forget the demons of her past, while Harry lives a life fighting off his own. But after a life-changing revelation, he is determined to free them once and for all, and hopes he can help Mason in the same way she has helped him.

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7. Seven


February 2018

Mason’s breathing was heavy, her legs felt weak. She didn’t think she could do this again. She didn’t think she could go on this endless journey to try and find Harry when she knew the outcome. Even in her nightmares, she knew she was in a nightmare. But despite that, she could never wake herself up. She wouldn’t even know where to begin.

“Mason. Mason, you’re not trying very hard. I’m right here,” she heard Harry’s bored voice as she slowed on her feet.

She spun quickly in a circle, confused on where the voice came from. And in a split second the scenery changed in her mind. She was suddenly standing on a crowded street, people walking all around her.

“Harry?” She called.

“Mason. Mason. Mason,” his voice echoing in her ears, taunting her.

“Harry?” She asked, gripping onto the shoulder of a man resembling him from behind.

The man, who wasn’t Harry, turned and looked at her with a look of disgust before shrugging her off.

“Mason!” Harry snapped loudly, and she went to grab another man by the arm and spun him around, but it wasn’t Harry either.

“WHERE ARE YOU!?” She yelled, frustrated that every man she approached wasn’t him.

“FIND ME!” He yelled and it echoed in her skull, knocking the wind out of her with his anger.

When she looked up, her eyes met with a pair of blue eyes. They were exactly like her mothers, but they weren’t her mothers.

“No, no, no,” she whimpered seeing the man of her nightmares standing just a short distance from her. His eyes were piercing through her. Suddenly, without warning, the street was empty – it was just the two of them.

“Find me,” she watched his mouth move, but it wasn’t his voice, it was Harry’s.

“It was you, all along?” She whimpered as her heart crushed in her chest, a single tear sliding down her cheek.

“Mason,” he breathed, and it was the slithery seductive-like voice of her uncle. Mason’s skin crawled as her breathing shuddered in her throat.

“He doesn’t love you. No one will ever love you,” Brian’s voice taunted her cruelly. Her uncle wasn’t an evil man in real life, just mixed-up. But in her nightmares, his tone was always murderous, vengeful even.

“Harry, where are you?” Mason asked quietly, hoping Brian wouldn’t hear her.

“He’s not here, Mason. Are you that naïve? Who could ever love a girl who can’t seem to love herself?” Brian taunted menacingly.

“Harry, please,” she whimpered, closing her eyes tightly, trying to feel his presence. She needed him to save her. She needed him like always. She needed him now more than ever.

“It’s too late for you,” she heard and her eyes burst open, just as Brian tugged at her, causing her to fall. 

She screamed, but she just kept falling, falling, falling…

 

 

“Mason! Mason, wake up! WAKE UP!” Harry yelped, gripping onto her arms, trying to get her to still – to stop thrashing outwardly.

“Mason, it’s me. It’s me,” Harry’s voice lowered from panicked to soothing as her body stilled and her eyes finally opened. Her chest heaved as she tried to catch her breath, dragging precious air into her lungs.

“Mason, it’s me,” his voice nearing a whisper, his own breathing out of control as he sat upright next to her, looking down into her wild eyes.

“Harry,” she breathed, barely audible as she realized she was broken out of her nightmare.

Jesus—” He sighed, running a hand through his unruly hair.

“I’m sorry,” she croaked as she sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. As she did, she noticed she was still naked from the sex she and Harry had before they fell asleep.

“Are you okay?” He asked, concerned.

“Just a nightmare,” she murmured, wiping her hands down her face, still reeling from the imaginary images she just lived through.

“About him?” He questioned carefully.

“Mm,” she hummed in quiet affirmation.

“You’re okay now,” Harry tried to reassure her as he reached out and touched her shoulder blade. But it only caused her to flinch from his touch and retreat backward like a wounded animal.

“You’re okay, Mason,” Harry reassured her, but didn’t try to touch her again.

“I need water,” she spoke quietly as she stood on her feet and walked quickly toward the bathroom on her tip-toes, closing the door behind her.

The light was harsh on her eyes, the coolness of the tile cold on her feet. But she didn’t care. She felt like she was suffocating in the darkness that surrounded her out there, with him. She quietly slid her back down the door and sat down on the frigidly cold tiles, her body shivering – maybe from cold, maybe from the nightmare, maybe from both. It didn’t matter. All that mattered as she pulled her legs up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them was the emptiness she felt in her heart.

She didn’t know how long she sat there dazed out of her mind. She was only brought back to reality by a soft knock at the bathroom door.

“Mason, are you okay?” She heard Harry’s voice through the door. When she didn’t answer, his voice became panicked.

“Mason, I’m coming in,” he said louder. She didn’t think to lock the door, so when the door moved against her back, it startled her.

She slid away from it and let him open it fully. She was still naked, and she was shivering, and she probably looked pathetic. But she didn’t have a need to be bothered by it.

“Mason,” Harry gasped, finding her nearly lifeless on the floor, except for the chattering of her teeth and the raised goose bumps on her flesh. He grabbed a towel from the rack and slung it over her shoulders before he started to help her up from the floor.

“Come on. Let’s get you back in bed,” he spoke caringly, like someone would speak to a frightened child.

Once she was on her feet, her eyes focused on him, looking into his. He paused momentarily to look back into hers.

“How do you know so much about compassion and love? Your father…” Mason choked out, remembering the night Harry broke down and told her about how his father physically and mentally abused him for most of his life.

“Growing up – it wasn’t all bad,” he corrected, the corner of his lips tugging up into a hint of a smile.

“My mother – she loved me very much. She still does,” Harry went on, his hands warming her as he slowly slid them up and down her arms.

“Did she know?” Mason questioned, her eyebrows furrowing. Harry took a deep breath and let it out shakily.

“My mother is a naïve woman. I think she likes to be that way so she doesn’t have to see the bad in people. I’m not saying she turned her head at it, but I think she was more afraid of him than even I was,” he explained.

“He abused her?” She questioned.

“I don’t know,” Harry said quietly, a somber look passing over his face.

“And your sister and brother?” She asked curiously.

“Never. Not that I know of. But I made sure to always protect Reese. He was my baby brother, and I knew I had a duty as his big brother. I think I learned most of my compassion from them – Gemma and Reese,” Harry confessed, making her heart flourish and long for something like that.

“Come,” he said, coaxing her out of the bathroom and back into the bedroom, where the bedside light was now on.

“Would you like to get dressed?” He asked quietly.

“Yes,” she told him.

“I’ll grab you some water while you put on some clothes,” he said quietly, moving back into the bathroom.

Mason located her suitcase on the floor and dropped to her knees in front of it before unzipping it and rifling inside for something to wear to bed. She was fully dressed and sitting on top of the mattress with her legs tucked up against her chest, her arms around them before Harry came back in the room. She was certain he took extra-long in the bathroom to give her privacy while she dressed.

“Here,” he said quietly, handing her a cup of water.

“Thank you,” she said quietly, stretching out her legs as she took the cup from him before gulping it down.

Harry slid into the bed next to her and she noticed he was now wearing pajama pants. Maybe he was before – or all along, she didn’t know.

“Tell me what it was like before your parents were gone,” Harry asked boldly, and Mason’s head turned to him, her eyes staring into his. She felt frozen.

He was the first person to ask her something like that. Maybe it was because he was the first person to know the turmoil her life had fallen into.

“Uhh…” She fumbled with her words, her breathing slightly labored.

“Does it hurt to think of them?” He asked, his voice even and inviting.

“No. Sometime. I guess,” she stammered, not really knowing how she felt.

“What were their names?” He asked.

“S-Sarah and John,” she stuttered, having not spoken of them in so long. Harry nodded, taking it in.

“For eighteen years, they were all I ever knew of love,” she told him, her gaze falling to her hands.

“And now?” He asked.

“I don’t feel it,” she said matter-of-factly.

“Because of what happened after?” He questioned, referring to what her uncle did to her.

“I don’t know,” she whispered uncomfortably.

“And your grandmother?” Harry pressed on.

“What about her?” Mason asked, unsure of what he wanted to know.

“She must love you,” he continued.

“I don’t know,” she said, shaking her head.

“Just because she might not say it, doesn’t mean she doesn’t. She took you in when you needed someone the most,” Harry went on.

“I guess,” she whispered, nodding lightly. 

Her grandmother took care of her even when she couldn’t take care of herself. She stayed by her even after her suicide attempt. She sheltered her and provided for her even when she’d rather have seen herself dead than living.

“Love exists, Mason,” Harry insisted. His words echoed in her head. But it only brought on the words her uncle spoke to her in her nightmare. He doesn’t love you. No one will ever love you. If love existed, she knew she wasn’t worthy of it.

“I’d like to go back to bed now,” she said as she set the cup of water on the bedside table.

“Okay,” Harry said quietly as Mason sunk back against the mattress, her back to him as she pulled the blankets up to her chin.

“Please, can we keep the light on?” Mason asked.

“Sure, Mason,” Harry obliged. She felt the mattress shift next to her as he settled in bed.

 

 

The next morning Mason woke up in a dim hotel room – the shades still drawn, but the light still on next to her. As she looked around the room, she realized the TV was on too, but Harry was not in sight. She took a deep breath and quietly sat up in the bed.

“Good morning,” she heard and saw Harry’s head peek up from the foot of the bed. 

He was sitting on the floor watching the muted TV. After further examination, Mason saw subtitles rolling across the screen. He was reading the television just so he wouldn’t wake her. Her cheeks heated up with the realization. His actions weighed on her heart. She hated being a burden on anyone.

“Morning,” she squeaked, her voice not yet ready to speak.

“Did you sleep okay? I mean after—” Harry asked, cutting himself off as he came up to sit on the edge of the bed.

“I slept fine. What time is it?” She asked, changing the subject.

“Almost noon,” he told her.

“Harry!” Mason yelped, throwing the blankets off of her as she darted out of the bed.

“What?” He chuckled lightly.

“Noon!? We have to get on the road,” she said frantically as she grabbed her suitcase and tossed it onto the bed where moments before she comfortably laid.

“It’s okay. There is no rush,” he chuckled.

“We still have a ways to go, Harry. We shouldn’t be wasting time like this,” Mason told him as she dug around for something to wear.

“Alright,” he said with a smirk, turning off the television with the remote.

The two of them quietly got ready before they both piled back into the vehicle.

After the first hour of awkward silence between them – probably more on her part than his – Mason climbed in the backseat so she could pass the time sleeping after the night she spent tossing and turning in bed.

“What are you doing?” Harry questioned as she propped up a sweatshirt against the door and settled herself.

“I’m going to nap,” she told him.

“Okay. Sweet dreams,” he told her and she could hear a slight chuckle in his voice.

“Yeah,” she breathed, hoping she might get a solid sleep of sweet dreams.

Mason was in and out of consciousness all afternoon as she tried to find comfort in a backseat that wasn’t made for sleeping. It was uncomfortable and hard, and the contours of the actual seat came up in the center, causing her body to lay awkwardly. But she managed to get some sleep.

When her eyes finally fluttered open, the setting sun was casting odd shadows in the car. There was soft music playing through the speakers, but it wasn’t until Harry began to sing along that she knew the song.

“Jesus freaks out in the street, handing tickets out for God. Turning back she just laughs. The boulevard is not that bad. Piano man. He makes his stand in the auditorium. Looking on she sings the songs. The words she knows. The tune she hums,” his voice sang along perfectly with Elton John’s Tiny Dancer.

It was beautiful – his voice, listening to him sing, everything. And once the chorus kicked in, Mason couldn’t help but smile softly to herself as his voice tried to match Elton’s pitch.

“Hold me closer tiny dancer. Count the headlights on the highway. Lay me down in sheets of linen. You had a busy day today,” he sang, not too loud, but loud enough for her to hear.

Mason could’ve listened to him sing all night. He could’ve sung her back to sleep if she let him, but the seat she was lying on would not allow it. She sat up cautiously, not wanting to scare him. Their eyes met in the rearview mirror and Harry smiled at her.

“Don’t stop because of me,” Mason said, smirking at him, and she was rewarded with an animated chuckle as she crawled back into the passenger seat.

“Did you sleep okay?” He asked for the second time that day as he turned his head, sending her a genuine smile.

“Not really. It was off and on for the last few hours. Where are we?” She asked, looking out the windshield at nothing but fields and farmland.

“Almost out of Texas – near the border,” Harry hummed, looking tired himself.

“New Mexico!?” Mason choked, it taking her by surprise when she knew it shouldn’t. But only two days before, she was safely in her apartment in New York City.

“Yeah,” he chuckled looking over at her with an amused expression.

Jesus. All of Texas in one day,” she mumbled, looking out at the landscape.

“All of Texas in under nine hours,” Harry corrected her.

“How close are we?” She asked cautiously.

“Well, to be honest, I took the long way,” he said, sending her a tiny look of embarrassment, and she could read how difficult it was for him.

“That’s okay,” she told him quietly, understanding his pain.

“Could you replay that song?” Mason asked him, changing the subject to help ease the tension that was building.

“Sure,” he said, pressing a button on his iPod, bringing the opening bars of Tiny Dancer upon them once again.

“Thank you,” she said quietly.

“You’re welcome,” he said politely as she rested her head against the window, listening contently.

Nearly twenty minutes passed before either of them spoke again. And it wasn’t Mason who broke the silence.

“I went through a phase, too,” Harry spoke up, looking over at her. Her eyebrows knit together in question as she looked at him.

“Partying and drinking and going to clubs,” he elaborated. Mason nodded her head in understanding, really understanding what he was about to get at. Anxiety bubbled inside of her as he began to speak again.

“When I saw you, Mason, I thought you were so beautiful, and wild and… and tragic,” Harry confessed causing her breath to shudder in her throat.

“It was the first time I ever did something like that – you know, take a woman home with me. I saw you and I was immediately drawn to you. I don’t know why. I just was. And here we are almost three years later. But it’s like neither of us can break away from the tragedy of our lives,” he continued to explain.

“Harry,” Mason breathed, wanting him to stop more than anything.

“I’m glad I met you, Mason. You have no idea how much you’ve helped… with everything,” he told her.

“Don’t, Harry,” she huffed.

“Don’t what?” He asked, his eyebrows furrowing as he looked over at her.

“I can feel you changing,” she said quietly.

“What do you mean? Changing?” He asked confused.

“You’re changing how you look at me. You’re changing how you think about me. You’re changing who you are. I can feel it,” she said, unable to focus her eyes on anything in particular.

“Mason,” Harry said, shaking his head slightly.

“Just don’t,” she said quietly, biting on the end of her thumbnail as she looked out the passenger window, the scenery passing by in a blur. 

Harry went silent, and Mason was relieved.

“No. You know what, Mason. No. That’s bullshit,” he said, his voice rising angrily, catching her off guard. Mason’s head snapped to look at him incredulously.

“Don’t start doing this,” he said, shaking his head and she could see him clenching and unclenching his jaw with displaced anger.

“Don’t start what?” She snapped at him.

“Don’t start making up excuses to push me away just because you’re uncomfortable about sharing what you did. Just remember what you told me – you’re the master of deflection, right? Don’t do it,” he said with a warning in his tone.

“Push you away? Pretty sure none of this matters anyway,” she scoffed, looking away from him again, feeling the annoyance bubble up inside of her as she hugged her arms to her chest. He had a girlfriend at home and he was worried about her pushing him away. Bastard.

“None of this matters? Are you kidding me? The past two years haven’t mattered? Now I know you’re lying,” he spat.

“You know what, whatever,” she scoffed at him as she pulled her legs up and tucked her arms around them.

“Stop retreating inward! You’re not a turtle, Mason,” Harry snapped, pushing her knee almost forcibly so her foot fell back down to the floorboard.

Mason turned to face him, giving him a menacing glare as she dropped her other leg down too.

“Stop being scared, okay. I’m not going to hurt you, Mason. You should know that by now,” Harry said, his voice sounding more powerful than maybe he even meant it to.

“What the hell do you want from me!?” She spat at him as the anger bubbled up in her chest.

“I want you to stop hiding!” He scowled at her.

“Hiding!?” She screamed back at him.

“Yeah!” He huffed.

“How am I hiding!?” She shrieked at him, feeling every atom in her body tingle with anger and regret.

“You do it every day. I’m sure you’ve done it every day for the past four years,” he called her out, speaking of the time since her parent’s deaths.

“Fuck you,” she snarled at him, tightening her arms around herself as she fumed silently, looking out the passenger window.

Case… in… point,” he growled each syllable, still calling her out.

Tears pricked her eyes as she heard the anger rumble out with Harry’s words. She had never seen him this angry at her – ever. As a matter of fact, he was never angry at her in all the time she knew him. She brought him to his breaking point – his frustrations overflowing. Mason quietly bit her lip trying to stifle her emotions, but she couldn’t hold them back. Soon tears were streaming out of her eyes as her face fell into her hands. 

“Mason,” Harry sighed, his voice soft and calm once again. But she couldn’t respond.

“Mason, I’m sorry,” he said, his voice pleading with her as she felt his hand softly touch her upper thigh. 

She didn’t flinch or push his hand away. She just cried into her hands. She wept for Harry. She wept for all her short-comings. She wept for the way she was so inept that she was slowly pushing away the one person who understood her and accepted her. 

She didn’t respond to anything until she felt the car stop. She silently looked up to see they were parked in a Travelodge parking lot.

“Listen, Mason. I’m sorry,” Harry said after he took the keys out of the ignition. She didn’t respond, she just looked out the windshield at the building in front of her as the overcast sky darkened slowly all around them.

“I’m going to go get us a room,” he continued.

“Okay,” she said quietly and waited until he was out of the car and out of sight before she broke down again. 

She thought about just running away. It would have been so much easier. She could maybe hitch a ride to the airport and just go. But she knew she never would. She would never do that to Harry no matter how uncomfortable or upset he made her.

After Harry came back nearly ten minutes later, Mason’s tears subsided and she was once again stuck in a daze, looking at the exterior of the building. He slid back into the driver seat shutting the door beside him, but he didn’t say anything. The two of them sat silently next to one another for a few long moments before Mason finally worked up the nerve to speak. 

“I used to have dreams, Harry – about you. I still do,” she confessed quietly as she wiped at the few straggling tears that fell from her eyes. She could tell she caught him off guard because he looked over at her, his mouth slightly agape.

“Dreams?” He asked cautiously.

“More like nightmares. They are always the same,” she told him.

“Nightmares?” He questioned, sounding slightly panicked.

“I have these nightmares where… where I keep running to you, trying to save you, but I can never reach you. I never can. You always just disappear. And you’re always screaming, telling me you need me. But I can never get to you,” Mason explained, feeling a stale panic in her chest having to relive the details of the horrendous dreams.

Harry stayed quiet. She could feel his eyes on her, but she was sure he wanted her to elaborate – like maybe he thought if he interrupted, she might just stop talking. And she probably would have.

“Funny thing is, these nightmares started after the first night we met,” she said with a dark chuckle.

“What?” Harry choked out.

“Yeah,” she said, finally looking up into his wide, questioning eyes.

“I felt your sadness in my bones, Harry. I could see it in your eyes. I could see it in everything you did. In the way you were looking for an escape. In everything. I saw it and it haunted me,” Mason confessed to him as a few tears trickled from her eyes. She quickly wiped them away.

“Mason,” he breathed.

“I’ve been having the same dream for almost three years and… and now… now here we are – we’re so close to where all of your sadness started, where it can be fixed. We’re almost there and there’s a big chance that… that you might be happy for the first time in your life and… and I just still feel so empty,” she said as she began to cry into her hands.

“Mason, no, no. Mason, please stop crying,” Harry sighed, gripping onto her wrist to pull her to him.

“Just–god. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m a mess. I shouldn’t be… I shouldn’t—” She cried.

“Mason, please. Shhhh,” Harry cooed, wrapping his arms tightly around her, his quiet plea whispered into her ear, warming her, sending goose bumps all over her skin.

She tried her best to get her emotions under control. She didn’t need to fall apart on him like this all over again. He didn’t need this shit. She pulled back away from him, wiping haphazardly at her tears.

“Let’s go inside,” Harry suggested and Mason nodded her head.

He carried her bag like she was incapable of doing it on her own, which kind of made her feel uncomfortable, but she knew he was doing it to be chivalrous. She was not used to that kind of attention to detail or care from another human being. And she was realizing Harry had it all along, she just chose not to acknowledge it.

“Are you okay?” Harry asked once they were inside their room.

“I’m fine,” she said as she awkwardly dug through her bag just so she had something to do to occupy her mind.

She heard Harry sigh lightly and she quickly grabbed her pajamas went into the bathroom, away from him.

As she looked into the mirror, she saw a sad, forlorn girl standing in front of her who had never been loved and who didn’t know how to return love even if someone did love her. She was a pathetic sight, and Mason closed her eyes so she didn’t have to look into their red, bloodshot, blotchiness any longer. She took a deep breath and stripped out of her clothes, replacing them with the fresh ones she just chose. And once she was dressed, she knew she would have to go back out there to face Harry.

Mason slowly opened the door and turned off the lights, making her way back to her suitcase to deposit her worn clothes. 

“Mason?” She heard Harry’s thoughtful voice.

“Hmm,” she hummed, avoiding his gaze completely.

“I’m sorry for what I said earlier,” he told her.

“You were right,” she admitted quietly.

“Even so, it shouldn’t have come out like that,” he said as she felt his presence next to her.

“It’s okay,” she told him, cautiously looking up into his eyes.

His eyes darted between hers as he carefully watched her. Her cheeks heated up under his gaze and she wondered what he was seeing in her that he needed to look so attentively at her.

“Have you ever made love, Mason?” He asked, catching her completely off guard with his question.

“What?” She choked out, forever feeling like she was not prepared for the twists and turns life brought her way.

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