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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17. Seventeen

March 2018

 

Mason took it for granted – having Harry to herself every single night they were gone. She took it for granted and now she didn’t have him at all. It was made blatantly clear that night. Harry was never hers. She was merely borrowing him.

She rode the subway home from his apartment, doing her best to not make eye contact with anyone. Her eyes were blotchy and red, and she didn’t need anyone asking her what could possibly be the matter. She didn’t want to talk. She didn’t want to think. She didn’t want to do anything. She wished she was unconscious for that purpose alone. She didn’t want to feel the agonizing pain in her chest. She didn’t want to think about what tomorrow would hold, or what the future held because she knew Harry couldn’t be in it. They were too reckless for too long and now they were suffering the consequences. They were hurting people they had no business hurting. They were selfish. That’s all they were. They were too focused on their own lives to even think about how their actions would affect the people around them. And now it was too late to salvage anything or anyone. They were all going down in flames.

When Mason got back to her empty apartment she noticed she had a voicemail on her phone from Harry. A part of her wanted to delete it. She knew she probably couldn’t handle hearing his voice anymore that night. But she also knew she wouldn’t be able to restrain herself and before she even really thought about it, she brought the phone up to her ear as his recorded voice came through on the other end.

“Hey, Mason… can you call me? I just… I need you to call me. I don’t want you thinking this was your fault. None of this is your fault, it’s mine. It’s mine, okay. Just… call me, please. I want to know you’re alright. I’m going to call you again in a little while if you don’t call me, okay. I just… please, Mase. Call me,” Harry’s voicemail ended and Mason’s heart weighed heavily in her chest. 

She didn’t know whether it was a good idea to call him or not. A clean break – that’s what she needed. She just needed to be done. She couldn’t do this to either of them anymore. She needed to be strong without him. She wasn’t sure how well her plan would work, but she was certain it had to. 

Her thoughts were startled by the phone vibrating in her hand. It was Harry and her heart nearly broke in her chest. It seemed to be the right time to get it all out in the open. She had to do it. She had to tell him her decision to end their arrangement. She took a deep breath and answered before she lost her nerve. 

“Harry,” she breathed lowly.

Mason—hey. Hey, I’m glad you answered,” Harry said breathlessly, sounding relieved he actually reached her.

“Harry, this is—” Mason choked, her voice cutting off the words she so desperately needed to say.

“You don’t have to say anything, okay. Tonight was fucked up. I know that, okay. But, just—” Harry talked fast, and it wasn’t easy to interrupt, but she knew she had to.

“This isn’t a good time,” she finally cut in, even though it wasn’t what she initially meant to say. She lost her nerve with just the sound of his voice.

“Uh, okay. Um, do you want to talk tomorrow then?” He asked eagerly.

“Uh… sure,” she sighed as she pinched the bridge of her nose with her index finger and thumb.

It wasn’t going to be easy – whether she did it tonight or tomorrow. It would hurt the same, she was sure of it. But she had nothing left in her tonight. So she let the words get caught on the tip of her tongue.

“Okay,” he said quietly, letting his end of the phone line go quiet. And Mason didn’t know what else to say, so she stayed quiet as well. And they were like that for far too long, making the pain in her chest grow.

Mason squeezed her eyes shut, trying to block the tears before they came, but it was no use.

“This isn’t your fault, Mason,” Harry said barely above a whisper, breaking their silence.

“I know,” she mewled, her emotions distorting her voice slightly.

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” he said finally with a light sigh.

“Yeah,” she whispered, biting at her lip to hold off from completely breaking down.

“Goodnight, Mason,” Harry breathed, sounding unbearably sad and it tore at her.

“Night,” she managed to croak before she pulled the phone away and ended the call as quickly as she could.

Mason let out a cry that echoed off of every wall in her tiny apartment before burying her face in her pillow. She cried herself to sleep that night and woke up the next day just as miserable. 

She didn’t eat anything for breakfast. She didn’t have the patience for anything. She knew she needed to do something to keep her mind off of things, so she went to the café she worked at to speak with her boss about getting back on the schedule.

She felt completely drained as she rode the subway and she was certain people could see it all over her face, even read it in her body language. She would never be the same after Harry. She was just starting to feel like her life was on the verge of being slightly normal – she had a boy she liked and he seemed to like her back – that was normal, right? But then reality crashed down on her again. And she knew she would never be normal – that she couldn’t have normal. Not when she chose to live in the most untraditional, abnormal ways. She couldn’t just sleep with someone’s boyfriend for two years and not expect any consequences when they got caught. What were they even thinking? Truth was, they weren’t. They were selfish. That was all it came down to in the end.

As Mason walked into the tiny restaurant where she worked, she was met with a full dining room and she knew just by the atmosphere that her fellow workers were in over their heads. The morning rush had blown in and Janice and the few other waitresses on duty looked like they’d been running ragged since the doors opened.

“Janice…” Mason said as she walked up to her at the counter. Janice spun on her feet, eyes wide looking at her.

“Mason! Holy—wow. A sight for sore eyes!” She said, smiling widely as she dried her hands on the small apron tied to her waist before wrapping her arms around Mason’s shoulders in a quick, tight hug.

“It’s good to see you too,” Mason said, smiling bashfully at her.

“We’ve missed you around here, as you can tell,” Janice said with a smirk as she waved her hand at the full dining room where the majority of the patronage sat.

“That’s, uh… that’s why I’m here. I was hoping I could start working again,” Mason told her as she twisted her fingers together anxiously.

“Can you start now?” She asked, heightening her eyebrows.

“Well, yeah. Of course,” Mason nodded, giving her a small smile.

“You’re on,” Janice said, tossing her a rag so she could start busing tables.

“Thank you,” Mason said, smiling at her as she walked behind the counter to clock-in.

The morning passed quickly while Mason got back into her grove at the café. She and Janice were like a well-oiled machine when they worked together. There was no bullshit. They got things done and it felt good to be back. 

Mason didn’t take a break until mid-afternoon and all she felt was relief over the fact that she was able to keep her mind off her personal life the whole time. But as soon as she sat down in the back room, April walked in, ready to start her shift and Mason’s issues entrapped her once again. She would never escape her problems, no matter how much deflection she mustered up on a daily basis. 

April froze in her footsteps at the sight of Mason and all they could do was stare back at one another. Mason had so much she wanted to say, but then again, she wasn’t the type of person who would ever say it. And being the type of person April was, it was odd that she wasn’t saying anything or even just screaming in Mason’s face for being such a terrible human being. She deserved it. Instead, April bypassed her altogether, depositing her purse in the back office before knotting up her hair in a ponytail on the top of her head.

“I’m sorry,” Mason said quietly as she watched April tie on her apron before turning to send Mason a short glare before she went back to ignoring her.

“I know you probably hate me now. And what we did – what I did was really fucked up, but—” Mason started to apologize.

“But what?” April sneered at her.

“But, I’m sorry,” Mason pressed, hating the fact that her only friend couldn’t even stand to look at her anymore.

“Nothing you say is going to justify what you did,” April snapped at her.

“It’s all so fucked up, April. I know,” Mason sighed, hanging her head.

“Why did you do it? What could possibly make you sleep with another girl’s boyfriend? Casey is a mess,” April spoke fast, her eyes flaring with anger.

“Harry and I… we met three years ago. Before… before Casey,” Mason admitted quietly.

“I already know all this. Casey talked to Harry this morning. He admitted to everything. And it doesn’t matter if you met him first. He was hers, Mason. It doesn’t give you the right!” April nearly growled at her.

“I know,” Mason said quietly, realizing what a shitty person she’d been to just about everyone in her life.

“This is so fucked up,” April said under her breath.

“You have no idea,” Mason agreed. Everything having to do with her and Harry was fucked up – past and present.

“You two… you’re disgusting. Why even… why would he even date Casey if he was screwing you all along?” April scoffed. It was Harry’s brother’s exact reaction too and it made Mason realize it seemed simple to everyone else, but to the two of them, it was never that simple.

“Not everything in this world is butterflies and rainbows. People are fucked up. People have issues you can’t see on the surface, April. Harry and I are those kinds of people. Harry – he’s messed up. Things are… messed up,” Mason explained, feeling frustrated by her fucked up life and she didn’t even have the balls to say it out loud. She could only mention Harry’s, because she made her past into this big secret that followed her around so shamefully. She knew what happened to her wasn’t her fault, yet it still made her feel ashamed enough to not speak out loud about it.

“There is no excuse for what you two did,” April scowled at her. Mason honestly wasn’t trying to make an excuse. She knew things would never be the same between her and April ever again, so it would be of no use. She was just trying to get her point across, even though she didn’t really know how. Words were never her thing.

“There is no excuse. But you’re living in a world of naivety – Casey too. If she was so naïve to not see—I just… Harry is screwed up. He doesn’t… he doesn’t feel normally, he doesn’t live a normal life. He’s not normal. He had a fucked up childhood. Fucked up things happened to him – things that neither of you could ever comprehend with the silver spoon lifestyles you lead. And I’m not saying that’s either of your faults. I’m just saying there is so much you don’t even know – so much darkness. And through that, Harry was my light and I was his,” Mason said finally, actually realizing it herself in that moment, causing tears to form in her eyes. Harry always pulled her out of her darkness. He was the only one who ever could.

“Whether or not he was your ‘light’ – or whatever, he wasn’t yours to have, Mason. And it’s fucked up that you would do something like that. I thought I knew you. I thought I made better decisions about who I called a friend,” April spat, missing Mason’s point by a mile.

“I get it. I completely get it,” Mason said quietly, conceding from continuing the argument any further. She knew her words were falling on deaf ears. April didn’t want to hear it and Mason wasn’t going to waste her breath on trying.

“No, I don’t think you do,” April seethed, narrowing her eyes at Mason before she spun on her heels.

“I’m not going to see him anymore,” Mason said, just loud enough for April to hear, stopping her in her tracks again.

“A little too late, don’t you think?” She snapped, before walking out to the dining room, leaving Mason alone to spend the last miserable minutes of her break alone.

Tensions were high as Mason worked the rest of her shift, staying an extra couple of hours, until the dinner rush tapered off. There was nowhere she would have rather been. Working – even working in such close proximity to April – kept her mind occupied. She knew the minute she stepped foot into her apartment she was going to dwell on things. And she just didn’t want that.

Instead of taking the subway home, Mason decided to walk. It was only ten blocks and it was a pretty decent night weather-wise. The sounds of the city were lulling her into a peaceful mindset as she walked, but she knew it was only a matter of time before her mind betrayed her once again.

Turning into the nearest Duane Reade drugstore, she located the sleep-aid aisle and purchased a box, knowing she wouldn’t make it through the night without some sort of help to nod her off. She also invested in a large bottle of water and a pack of cigarettes. She didn’t even smoke, but she needed something else to focus on. It was a bad habit to worm her way into, but at that point, she was the queen of all things bad.

After she inhaled the first puff of smoke, she let it out in a large cough, not used to cigarette smoke polluting her lungs. It made her long for one of Harry’s joints and the soothing nature the weed always had to calm her nerves. No wonder Harry always smoked when he was feeling out of control.

And just like that, her mind brought her back to him – and all the pain associated with it. She sucked on the cigarette a little harder, wishing for death so she didn’t have to feel the way she felt for the rest of her life. But she knew the only death these little cancer sticks would ever give her would be a slow agonizing one.

No one would understand what she and Harry did for each other or why they did it. And in the end, they would always be the bad guys for feeling the way they did and for the decisions they made. From victims to villains.

When Mason got home, she swallowed two sleep-aid tablets, sucking them down with a large gulp of the water before she turned on the TV. She figured she could numb her mind with pointless television as she waited for the pills to do their job. And for the next three days and nights, it was exactly what she did. She avoided Harry’s calls. She worked long hours at the café until her feet throbbed and her body ached. And once she got home at night, she would drug herself to sleep. 

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Three nights came and went and she thought she was getting the hang of it – of keeping away from Harry. Her nightmares died off since the road trip, which seemed like a good sign to her. And not having the nightmares helped to decrease the need to take the subway halfway across town to Harry’s doorstep. Maybe if the nightmares were gone, then she wouldn’t need Harry. Maybe it would be easier than she thought to ax him out of her life. But she knew it wouldn’t be, because she still saw Harry’s face in her dreams. And it was almost as agonizing as any nightmare she could ever have.

 

 

Mason was exhausted – physically, mentally, and emotionally. She just wanted to be unconscious. But before she even got the chance to down the little snooze-inducers, there was a wild set of knocks on her door, startling her completely.

She knew almost immediately who it was. He was the only person who ever had any reason to show up at her door, even more so now that she and April were on the outs. She knew it would never be her standing on the other side of her door anymore. 

Mason bit her lip roughly as she looked at the door, wondering if maybe she could just avoid him a little bit longer. But she knew three days was stretching it. She was going to have to face him sooner or later – and like she said before, it was going to hurt the same no matter how long she held off.

She slowly pulled the door open and saw her instinct was right. Harry was standing on the other side, looking at her hopefully.

“Mason,” he said immediately, causing her heart to beat a little faster and she knew it was because she missed him.

Her mouth was so dry and she knew even if she opened it, no words would come out. She hadn’t really fully prepared herself for this, mainly because she spent all her waking hours pushing thoughts of him out of her brain. Whatever she said to him was destined to be a mess and she knew whatever he said would ultimately leave her in shreds. She wasn’t prepared. 

“What’s going on? You can talk to me, you know that, right?” He said, giving her a knowing look that ate her alive.

“Mason, you know that, right?” Harry pressed for an answer. She could do nothing but close her eyes tightly as her breathing became ragged and the tightness in her chest increased.

“Please don’t do that,” he said quietly, an air of distress hanging at the end of each word.

Mason opened her eyes to look at him, finding sadness in his. And she could see the way his lips fought so hard to stay in a straight line rather than the frown that was battling its way onto his expression.

“I’m not doing anything,” she whispered, her voice slightly cracking.

“You’re pulling away,” he retorted, watching her carefully.

“We can’t—” Mason said, shaking her head as her eyes dropped to the floor and her emotions got the better of her.

“Don’t do that,” he said more sternly, catching her off guard. Her wide-eyes found his fiery ones and it caused her to tremble.

“God, Mason. After everything we just went through together. You were opening up. You let me—you let me in. You let me—gahhh,” he sighed, running his hands quickly through his hair.

“This isn’t… we just… this isn’t right. I don’t think we should see each other anymore, Harry. I just don’t think—this isn’t…” Mason stammered before her words trailed off, knowing she didn’t even believe half of what she said.

“You can’t do that, Mason. You can’t just—god! Why are you doing this?” He erupted and she could hear the defense in his words. He was fighting to hold onto anything and everything they had. And she couldn’t blame him for that. He was like an addiction for her and it wouldn’t surprise her if he felt the same way about her.

“Did I even mean anything to you at all? Did anything we did with each other, anything we said – did it mean anything?” He asked, looking at her incredulously.

Of course it did. But she couldn’t tell him that. Not when she was trying so hard to let him down gently. She didn’t want to hurt him. He was the last person on earth that she wanted to hurt.

“I can’t, Harry. I just – it’s not fair. I can’t,” she said, on the verge of tears.

“You can’t? What is that supposed to mean? You’re just gonna drop me like I meant nothing to you?” He asked as tears filled his eyes.

Oh, Jesus. She wasn’t sure she could handle seeing him cry. She never could. It always drained her. His pain was hers – immediately. 

“We are nothing to each other, Harry,” she said quietly as her first tears fell and streaked her cheeks, speaking a truth neither of them had ever acknowledged out loud. She was not his and he sure as hell wasn’t hers.

“You know that’s not true,” he breathed, looking more somber than she had ever seen him.

Mason couldn’t look at him anymore. She had to look away. She knew she had to let it go – to just rip it off like a Band-Aid. But just as she was about to open her mouth to really throw in the towel, Harry’s temper got the better of him.

“Don’t act like you’re just another warm body for me to stick it in, Mason. Because you know there’s more to us than that. There is so much more than that,” Harry spouted as the anger and annoyance exploded with his words.

“I… I… Harry…” Mason stammered as she tried to fight off her tears.

“You’re scared, so you’re running away. That’s it, right?” He pointed out angrily. It wasn’t the first time he called her out on her bullshit, but it still surprised her. And it annoyed her, even though they both knew he was right.

“You’re scared. But you don’t have to be, Mason. God. Why—why are you running from me?” He asked, his voice almost pleading, letting the anger fall away completely. Mason’s tears were relentless as her gaze was glued to the floor. She couldn’t handle looking into his eyes. She couldn’t do it.

“What would you do—what would you do right now if I just wasn’t in your life anymore? How would you feel, Mason?” Harry asked, taking on another tactic to get her to open up to him. When she didn’t answer, he got impatient with her again.

Huh, Mason? What would you do? Who would you run to?” He pressed, making the blood itch in her veins. She didn’t know how to answer him. She had no one.

“I don’t know,” she breathed quietly, still unable to look up at him.

“You don’t know?” He growled, frustrated with her again.

“I don’t know!” She yelled back, just as frustrated.

“You do know. You’re just scared. Stop being fucking scared, Mason. God damn it. Just let yourself be free. Let it go. Let me love you!” He snapped. He was worked up and spoke fast, and she could tell his words took even him by surprise.

Mason took in a sharp breath, looking at him incredulously, her annoyance dissipating immediately, replaced only with a sickness in gut.

“Mason,” Harry sighed, shaking his head. She couldn’t tell if it was regret or something else that was plastered on his face, but when he finally looked away from her, it was enough of an out for her to back away.

“Mason, please don’t,” he sighed, looking up to see her retreating.

“I can’t, Harry. I just… I can’t,” she told him finally, backing further into her apartment.

Their eyes connected one last time before she shut the door on him and all she could see was the sadness plaguing him. Only this time she wouldn’t be there to run to him, to make him feel better. Too much had come between them. There was too much baggage in both of their lives. She couldn’t handle her own with his weighing her down too.

Mason took two sleeping pills and curled up on her bed, letting the tears and sadness envelop her. She wasn’t aware of time. The lingering sun finally set in the sky, leaving her apartment completely dark, but she wasn’t even sure if she was conscious. She was just there, lying in the darkness, wrapped up in it like a cocoon.

She barely heard the soft knock on her apartment door. Before she knew it, she was sitting up in bed, turning the bedside lamp on. Everything felt like it was in slow motion – from the way she pulled herself out of bed, to the slow strides she took to the door. Another knock came right before she reached out for the handle. And when the door was finally opened, she was certain she was in a dream. Her uncle stood in front of her, only an arm’s length away.

The panic immediately swelled in her chest, realizing her nightmares didn’t really go away. Was she still having them all along, even though she didn’t remember them in the morning? Did the sleeping pills help push them out of her conscious mind? If so, they weren’t doing a very good job now.

“You can’t hurt me anymore. You can’t—” Mason mumbled as she stared wide-eyed at him. She blinked a couple of time to see if the image of him would distort or just go away, but he didn’t move. He didn’t even flinch.

“Mason…” He breathed, but his voice wasn’t the slimy, vile sound it usually was in her nightmares. It sounded sad and remorseful.

It was nothing like the hallucinations she had of him. In them, he was always the villain, but there he stood in front of her, and all she could think was he looked like a shell of the man he used to be.

“You’re really here,” she gasped at the realization, feeling the anxiety swell in her chest to levels she was sure she wasn’t equipped to handle.

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