Back Home CaseBook
- More Bonds
- Part 2
- by Jen
Bonds. I couldn't help myself and I joined the ranks of the many.
Summary: Like I said, just another postscript to Bonds. I saw
the episode and was sitting at the computer, and was in a depressed
mood to boot. Feedback is welcome, though this isn't exactly
the epitome of talent. I'm not sure whether to add more or let
it stand on its own where you can make up the rest; you tell
me. Whether or not I finish depends on feedback.
- Daniel touched the door gently, and it
moved silently inward. It didn't surprise him that it was not
only unlocked but partially open. He took a tentative step onto
the old wooden floorboards, knowing they had a predilection towards
loud complaints at inopportune moments. He paused and smiled
to himself at the pretentious and extravagant phrase used merely
to say the floor was creaky. It sounded a bit like something
Harry would say, equally for his love of the colloquial as for
his tendency towards the flamboyant. The smile disintegrated
and Daniel was forced to adjust the thought: It sounded like
something Harry would've said. That is, before Salvatore had
called Daniel in the middle of the night with some interesting
news. It seemed Salvatore's sister had discovered a close friend
of Daniel's lying on a bench in the park where she'd taken her
children one morning. Initially Harry had refused to move, but
at the request of Magdalena, Chiara's six-year-old girl, he'd
agreed to return to Salvatore's villa, on the threshold of which
Daniel now paused.
Daniel had told Laura over the phone that all he had was a lead,
instead of the actual flesh and blood. He'd felt guilty about
it, guilty enough to call her by her true name, but he knew that
at this point, it was necessary. Salvatore and his much younger
sister Chiara had gone into great detail about Harry's condition.
Mentally, he seemed worn out, completely exhausted. Physically,
he didn't get much exercise, was wandering listlessly around
the house, and was sleeping more than was healthy. But perhaps,
thought Daniel grimly, he wasn't really sleeping. Just rerunning
everything in his head, trying to process powerful emotions like
squeezing one end of a balloon so that air bubbled hugely on
the other side, and back, without ever really popping. He could
recall with a shudder times that Harry had acted just like this,
as a teenager who couldn't always push back the first half of
his life. There was no way Laura could see him yet, not until
Harry was conditioned to deal with her. For her to see him now
would be like shoving a band-aid onto an open wound and then
ripping it off seconds later -- nothing was healed, and your
skin stung from the glue.
His contemplation was split by the realization that a pair of
overly large, bright black eyes were staring mutely up from the
height of his knees. The child was clad in a grey sweater and
little else besides a comically large hat that obscured most
of his fine black hair. Before Daniel could say anything, he
toddled away and was promptly scooped up by a short black-haired
woman of medium build. "Hello, Chiara," he said.
"You're late," she replied, stepping in to give him
a brief hug while still holding the boy. "Although perhaps
that is because you like to open doors and then stand there staring
into space, hmm?"
"It's not my fault; my plane was delayed. Fog in London."
"When is there not? Come all the way in, or a draft will
come through." She turned and walked into a hallway to the
right, where he knew a warm kitchen existed. Instead of following
her, he meandered into an adjoining room and gazed out an open
window. The wharf could just be seen, over a knoll. He could
see a lankier, more awkward version of Harry trying to work knots
out there when they had come here on vacation. Harry had insisted
he knew perfectly well how to do it and didn't need any help.
It was only later that summer, when one of the smaller boats
drifted away, that he was told he was no longer allowed to tie
anything up until he let one of the men teach him how. When his
pride wouldn't allow that, he had secretly started leaving early
every morning to meet one of the old fishermen for lessons. Two
weeks later, he had proudly demonstrated his new power to the
amazed eyes of the men at Salvatore's home. Only Daniel had seen
Harry leave and followed him; to everyone else, the child was
a prodigy who had miraculously learned the skills of nautical
knots. And Daniel had never told; he knew that was exactly how
Harry wanted it.
He turned and strolled out the other side of the room. Coming
to a door on the right of the dark hallway, he was about to knock
when it opened almost in his face. A startled young girl knocked
into him and looked up. "Daniel?"
He grinned in recognition. "Corinna! What have you been
up to, young lady? Seems you've grown a few inches since I last
She rolled her eyes, but hugged him anyway. "Everyone says
"Well, maybe next time I can think up a more creative way
to say it, eh?"
"Mmn. Are you here to see Harry? He's really sad. He doesn't
play with us like he used to. I wish he'd come out of his room
"And just which room might that be?"
She directed him up the stairs to the attic room and then sped
off to answer a phone call. Daniel climbed the well-worn staircase
alone, trying with little success to remember which steps creaked
where. There used to be a little ditty that one of the children
had made up for it, but that was over ten years ago, and even
if he could remember it now, it probably wouldn't be helpful.
It didn't matter, thought Daniel ruefully at the top stair. By
now Harry'd probably heard him coming anyway. It wouldn't make
a big difference. He walked a few more steps at the top of the
landing and knocked softly on Harry's door.
It swung open, having not been completely closed in the first
place, which was more unusual for a place where Harry resided
than for one where Sal did. Daniel peered into the half-light
coming from the drably covered window.
"So they've sent for you to come after me. Or was it Laura
searching for me? I wondered if she'd come a second time."
Harry was looking at him almost accusingly, curled up near the
Daniel felt a small pang at his disinterested glare. "Both,
actually. But I've also come because I'm worried, too. I...I
sort of wish you'd said something to me; it wasn't altogether
pleasant when Laura called after you left. You didn't have to
end up, well, on the street again --"
"For the last time, I wasn't going back to the streets!"
Harry interrupted forcefully. "I was going to meet an old
friend, but I think I had the wrong park or something. I would've
spent the night at his place." He stopped suddenly as Daniel's
earlier comment sunk in. "Wait...why did Laura call you?
Was she just trying to find out where I went, just in case or
something, or -- well, why?"
Daniel put on a surprised expression for Harry's benefit, as
though astonished Laura would even think of not being lost and
upset. About which, frankly, he had no idea; Laura seemed to
be coming from all directions possible when it came to Harry.
He pushed the thought from his mind and concentrated on surprised
innocence. "Why Harry, how could you even ask? She's been
losing sleep and wringing her hands about you ever since you
left. Calling everyone in or recently out of the business, anyone
associated with you, anyone you smiled at on the street."
Harry started to look warily hopeful then was struck by something.
"You didn't tell her where I was, did you?"
Well. That could be a rather ambiguous statement. "Of course
not. My loyalty is always to you. I had to check for your permission
first. Now, why would that bother you? Do you not want her to
come for you?"
Harry hesitated, the breath caught in his throat. Daniel could
sense some sort of conflict going on in him. When he did speak,
he seemed nearly unsure of himself. Another strikingly salient
contrast to the normal Harry. "Well...I mean, it's not that
I don't want to be with her. Oh god, you have to believe I do.
I'm completely in love with her -- it's just, I -- I don't quite
know how she feels about me, and I left her with all my defenses
down and all of hers fortified by my shortcomings."
To Daniel, the words fortified by my shortcomings seemed
suddenly of great consequence in the outside-looking-in viewpoint
he'd had of Laura and Harry's relationship over the years. Fortified
by his shortcomings. No wonder it wasn't working out. He wondered
briefly if Harry really realized what he'd just said, how succinctly
and perfectly he'd placed the relationship, or if Laura knew
it when she did it, and whether she did or didn't care. Part
of love was learning to accept and even embrace another's shortcomings,
wasn't it? He smiled fondly, a leap of memory taking him back
over thirty years ago to a wistful, black-haired Irish lass...and
then mentally shook himself for continually drifting between
past and present in his old age.
Harry had figured out what he wanted to say. "Right now,
she's got all the power, and I'm vulnerable to attack, and when
that's happened before, she hasn't always been gentle to me.
If that should happen right now, I don't know that I could handle
it at all..." He looked up at Daniel, and suddenly his solemn
face broke into a weak smile, almost childlike. "Tell me,
how is she?"
"Not very good," answered Daniel, taking a seat on
the ancient couch opposite him. "I think you've really shaken
her, Harry. You left once, and she came to find you -- maybe
it was easier then, because it didn't mean so much. But now,
it's devastatingly final, because everything that you'd held
back, you've finally given her, in a way, at least, by admitting
your love. But it can't work for long."
Harry looked surprised. "What do you mean? What can't work?
I've given her that "proof" she wanted of my commitment,
the commitment that's been there for nearly five years now."
"Was there, Harry. It's not proof if the commitment is no
longer present, and it doesn't look to her like it is anymore,
since you've left."
"But she wanted me gone! I'm only giving her what she wanted!
I've done every stupid thing she's ever asked, jumped through
every stupid hoop, and I can't tell which ones I'm not actually
supposed to go through! I want to be there with her, showing
her how much I care, every minute of my life, but she's the one
who won't let me! I love her, damn it, and I've told her that.
Why isn't that enough now?"
"I know, Harry. But there's a good reason it isn't quite
enough to be her "proof" yet, at least to someone like
her for whom the words are so important."
"Well, what is it already? I don't understand her!"
"The problem, Harry, is that it's too easy to say "I
love you" if you leave immediately after."
End Part 2
- To Part 3