More Bonds of Steele
Part 5
by Jen

Time: After 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.

That morning, Harry got up when the toddler, Dominic, and a six-year-old whom he wasn't quite sure belonged to jumped onto his bed and tried to forcibly pull him out of it. He pretended to resist and fall asleep on top of them, but it wasn't really bothering him, as he'd been contemplating whether or not to arise for a couple of hours now. He'd awoken around four thirty, laying in his bed and staring out the window. From his position, he could see that it was going to be a bright and sunny day, clear skies all around. The only other visible object was the uppermost trunk of a tree. It reminded him of Laura, and he briefly wondered why it would do that, before quickly calling up images of chasing her through a park and trapping her against just such a tree. Before she'd slipped away yet again.

Closing his eyes, he'd indulged in self-pity for a little while, tearing up his mind and heart with crude little scenarios where somehow he ended up alone, and she was elsewhere. He ran through all the possibilities, the men to which she'd turn now, probably having wanted them secretly all along. Maybe she'd been with them, every night that she spent out of his arms. Maybe…he opened his eyes with a start, feeling slightly sick. He was being stupid, he angrily told himself. It was all very well to try and remove himself like that, but for one thing, Laura would never have been dishonest with him. And for the other, there was no point in pretending that he would never be with her again. Or rather, that he'd willingly stay away from her. He loved her; he'd already admitted that and there was no point in keeping it a secret. Staying here, moping around, was only prolonging his misery. At some point, he'd have to go back, and better to face the music now than to do so months or years later, maybe too late. Even if she wouldn't have him.

But…maybe he could wait a little while longer. He was still emotionally vulnerable, and more so than ever, really. Laura's last great tirade, combined with the splinters from all the harangues that she'd delivered him since knowing him, had too ghostly a resemblance to some of the ones he'd undergone as a child. She couldn't know that, of course, as he repeatedly told himself, but it didn't help that so many times, such shouting and anger directed at him had presaged his own exile from whatever foster home or orphanage he happened to be in. If things ever were straightened out between them, then she would need to know some of those things that really hit him hard. And, he decided, soon he would try and straighten them out.

All of this was a bit tiresome to contemplate over and over, so he was secretly glad when the children tackled him. "Whoops, I'm falling asleep again, oh no!" He shut his eyes and fell backward on the squirming six-year-old, Natalie. She shrieked and tried to scramble out from under him. He started tickling her, but was distracted by Dominic tugging insistently on his arm. "What is it, old boy?" Harry asked, pulling him onto his lap.

Dominic tried to pull him in the direction of the door. "Where are we going?" elicited no response from him, but Nat piped up enthusiastically as she climbed from the bedside table onto Harry's shoulders.

"Mama Chiara says you got to go to breakfast, Harry. Can I climb on your shoulders?" (The question was void, as she was already there.)

"Alright, I'll come, no need to rush so. Get off so I can put on a robe, and I'll carry you downstairs. What time is it, anyway? Ok, ok, I'll carry you too, Dominic. If you don't pull my arm off first."
Breakfast in Laura's small rented room was an affair of an entirely smaller scale. In fact, all she did was order a muffin and some strawberries with juice, and only the strawberries ended up getting eaten anyhow. After making her call to the villa, she realized that, while now she had an opportunity at least to talk, what she needed to do was figure out what she was actually going to say. A tiny, doubtful part of her wondered if Mr. Steele -- Harry -- even wanted her to chase him again. What Daniel had mentioned to Harry had occurred to her, briefly. The notion that it was easy to say…what he said…if one left right afterwards. But she'd quickly chastened herself for that; whatever else she knew about her not-such-a-mystery man, she knew that it was not in his nature to even conceive of such a plan. Which left her immediately with one conclusion: he meant it. He loved her.

And if he said that, then he was sure of it, too. Mr. Steele never tried to hurt her purposely, and knowing of her past relationships, he would not have admitted it unless he was quite certain that his feelings were not something that could dissipate with time or argument.

The one thing she had to consider, though, was that if he did not believe she loved him in return, she knew he would retreat behind his protective walls and possibly never admit to caring for her again. Or admit anything past that, anyway. Laura had seen it happen too many times, and a lot of those times were at least partially her fault, for not knowing when or how she needed to respond, or simply being afraid to.

So, she thought. That leaves me with very little elbow room today. If I want him to continue to express his feelings for me, then he has to know I feel the same way. And he should have realized it by now, too! Why else would I do this, chase him so far?

She laughed, a little sadly, as she realized the meaning of her thought: that he should know her feelings through her deeds and not her words. Ha. What a sad irony.

Alright, then, so now he needed words as much as she had. Well, good. Today, she decided on a sudden burst of spirit, she'd prove it to him however he needed it. I love you, she thought with a private grin. Whoever you are.
End Part 5
To Part 6

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