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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12. Twelve

February 2018

 

The drive back to New York covered the same distance, the same roads, yet it took them less time. Harry drove longer through the nights before stopping. There was less talking, and less sex. They were just existing. From Texas to the east coast, they didn’t lay a hand on one another. The days and nights felt lonely by his side, but Harry had his own demons he was trying to work through and Mason didn’t want to get in the way. He wasn’t reaching out, and she didn’t know how to help him along any better than she knew how to help herself.

As they drove through Virginia, Mason couldn’t help but be amazed by the beauty America held, and how liberating it was to have gone on a nearly coast-to-coast excursion like she and Harry did – even if there were dark under-tones along the way. The country-side was awe-inspiring literally everywhere they traveled – places she never had a chance to see, nor would she probably ever see again. She felt good for a few long moments as she soaked up the last few rays of sunshine before the icy weather of February hit them again as they travelled further North East. Their trip was almost over and she was not looking forward to going back to her lonely apartment; back to her mediocre job; back to her uneventful shitty existence.

But thus was life. 

“Do you realize we spent part of Valentine’s Day together?” Mason heard Harry quietly ask over the light hum of the radio as he drove a particularly long stretch of highway.

“What?” She choked out. She was sure she heard him right, but it threw her off that he was even bringing it up.

She didn’t bother to even acknowledge Valentine’s Day since the eighth grade when she dated her last boyfriend – and even then it sucked. 

“We did,” he said, looking over at her momentarily before his eyes fell back onto the road.

“Oh,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper as her cheeks heated up thinking about being with him on a day made for true lovers.

She racked her brain wondering when the hell he was talking about. She knew when Valentine’s Day was calendar-wise, but lately all the days blended together into one big cluster-fuck.

“It was the day after my parent’s anniversary,” he told her, his eyes still on the road.

“Oh,” she said again, flinching when he spoke of his parents, her stomach turning violently thinking about everything.

“The night you came to me in New Jersey,” he clarified, even though she already understood.

“It was already Valentine’s Day by the time you got there,” he reminded her. 

She didn’t even know what to say. How was she supposed to react to something like that?

“I spent Valentine’s sleeping with you rather than being with my girlfriend,” he said, and her nerves continued to ravage her body and mind.

“Casey called that morning because she wanted to have brunch with me – a Valentine’s brunch, but I was literally so wrapped up in you, and my own head and… and I just… I didn’t even fucking remember it was Valentine’s Day. Casey was pissed at me – incredibly pissed. And then—then we left on this road trip a few days later and I broke up with her a few days after that,” Harry said, shaking his head.

“Harry, why are you telling me this?” Mason asked him quietly. He looked over at her with big round, vulnerable eyes before he shook his head and went back to watching the road.

“I don’t know. I don’t—it’s whatever,” he said, shrugging his shoulders, virtually closing himself off. She felt bad immediately. She only ever wanted to help him, and somehow now she was hindering him.

The silence between them was deafening. Mason regretted cutting him off, but it physically plagued her to hear him speak about them on Valentine’s Day, and Casey. It was never good for her when the hole in her heart filled with unrelenting pressure from thoughts and feelings she didn’t want to deal with. But that was what she was left with.

“What was it like—the… the sex with Casey?” Mason found herself stammering, feeding her self-sabotaging, masochistic mind. It was inappropriate and she regretted it the second it fell from her lips, but she couldn’t get herself to cut him off before he had a chance to answer.

“What?” Harry choked, his head snapping in her direction with a look of pure panic on his face.

“I mean… I-I overheard her talking about it—I mean, I don’t know. Jesus Christ, Harry. Don’t make me repeat the question,” Mason said, stumbling over her words and the thoughts in her head.

“Why—why would you want to know something like that?” He asked, his voice laced with shock and awe.

“I don’t know. I’ve always been kind of curious. Jesus. I don’t know. I’ve shared you with her for years, Harry. I’ve wondered, okay. Just—I don’t know,” Mason said, feeling sick over their conversation as her face dropped into her hands. She felt like the most foolish person on planet earth in that moment, but it was true – she always wondered.

“It—I don’t know. It was just sex,” he said, and she caught the shrug of his shoulders out of the corner of her eye.

“Just sex?” Mason breathed, wondering if he felt that way about what they did with each other.

“It’s not the same as with you, Mason,” he said, looking over at her, like he was reading her god damn mind.

“Not the same?” She whispered, meeting his gaze for the first time since she started this miserable conversation.

“Sex with you serves a purpose,” he told her, refocusing on the long stretch of highway in front of them.

“So… you were using one of us – and right now I’m really failing to comprehend which one it was. Or was it both?” Mason asked him evenly.

She wasn’t accusing him. She knew all along their relationship had some level of exploitation, but it went both ways – and she was on board with it as much as he was.

“Sex with you serves a purpose, Mason. You feel it just as much as I do – you need it that bad too,” Harry reiterated, looking at her as his eyes became slightly fiery as he got defensive, which she did not mean to bring about in him.

“I wasn’t accusing, Harry. I was just wondering. I know what our sex means. I’ve known from the beginning, and I have been a willing participant from the very first day,” Mason explained to him, trying to soothe his mood. He sighed, running his free hand down his face as the fight drained out of him.

“She… she thought you were cheating on her – or at least she was starting to catch on, because you know… you were,” Mason breathed, confessing something she held onto for nearly two months.

“What?” He asked, looking at her wide-eyed.

“After New Year’s… Casey—she told April she thought you were cheating on her because you left the party early and… and you weren’t having sex with her very much… or at all. I don’t know. I can’t remember which one it was,” Mason said, shaking her head, trying to remember the day it all came about.

“She… she said that?” He asked, looking pale-faced.

“Yeah. She said you had been distant,” Mason said quietly, looking out the window, looking away from the remorse she could see on his face.

“Casey was a façade – my whole relationship with her,” Harry said quietly, causing Mason to look at him as he explained his side – a side she learned so well just by being around the two of them. But she never heard Harry admit to it, or explain it.

“I met her and she… she was so into me, and I thought, yeah—maybe I could do this. Maybe I could pretend. And the pretending just came so easily, and I realized it helped to ease people’s minds about me. My mom and Gemma and Reese stopped constantly asking me if I was okay, or trying to help me through life every fucking second. I had a girlfriend, and I could pretend to be happy even if I didn’t feel it with her. She was a front I put up to block everyone out. But then—then you came along. I saw you that night at that party and I just, I felt like I could breathe again. I don’t even know how to explain it. I remember meeting you at that club, Mason. I remembered so much about you. You were trying to forget, just as much as I was. And I took you home and I felt like we really connected, but then you were gone in the morning. I didn’t even know your name. It took me a while to even comprehend it even happened, that I even met you. I thought I made you up in a dream or something. But then I saw you at that party and all those feelings came back to me, and I was just relieved,” Harry explained, his voice coming out exasperated at points.

Mason stared at the side of his face as he spoke, her mouth agape and her heart clenched in her chest, because everything he explained – every word he spoke about them – was exactly how she felt.

“And I knew after getting to know you again that you weren’t ready for anything to really transpire between us – anything besides the sex, the getting each other off, you know, filling the needs inside of us. I knew you weren’t ready, so I never pushed it. And I was selfish, Mason. I should have never asked for so much from you when I was still stringing Casey along. But I was selfish, and I couldn’t let you go. And I couldn’t let her go, because I couldn’t go back to the way my mom and them looked at me. I couldn’t stand their pity. But you—you looked at me, and saw me, Mason. You saw me for who I was, not for the part I played; and I will never break away from that. You saw me when no one else could. You saw the pain I lived with, and you did everything you could to help me. And no one has ever done that for me. No one has ever known me down to my soul like you have, Mason. And I was selfish. I was so selfish. I’m sorry, Mason. I’m so sorry,” Harry’s words tore through her, along with his emotions as he began to cry. Tears streaked down her face as her heart shredded into pieces.

“I’m sorry,” he said again, wiping at his eyes.

Mason reached out, pulling his hand away from his face as she slid her hand down his, palm-to-palm, intertwining their fingers.

“It’s okay, Harry,” Mason whispered, bringing the back of his hand up to her lips for a tiny kiss before she brought it back down, holding it between them.

“I’m sorry,” he whimpered, plaguing her further.

“It’s okay,” she told him once again, resting her head against his shoulder, letting him know without words she was there for him. 

They rode in silence as the sun burned hot in the sky overhead. Their tears subsided, but Mason knew both of their hearts and minds were plagued with the past they shared together. And she knew there was really nothing either of them could do about it but move on. But she also knew, like most things in life, it was easier said than done.

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