Dreams Unwind

[f i v e]

>> I think you should come over.

I frown down at my phone then glance back up to make sure Professor Callen hasn’t noticed he no longer has everyone’s attention. It’s been two days since I last saw Harry, and we’ve texted back and forth a few times, but there has been no indication that he would ever want to hang out, much less in anything other than a public space. I tap my index finger against the side of my phone as I think about what to say back. I decide on the truth instead of asking the dozens of questions I have.

<< I’m in class rn.

>> Oh! I thought it was out already
>> Okay well, come over when you’re done

<< Okay???


The only response I get is an address, so I send back a thumbs-up then try to focus on the lecture. It isn’t easy, and I just know I’m going to have to ask one of my classmates for a copy of their notes. Callen eventually dismisses the class, which is for the best. Over half the students in the room are barely awake even though it’s the middle of the afternoon, and the rest of them look like they are about ten seconds of boring droning away from running straight through the walls in their attempts to escape. I shove my laptop into my bag and join the rush out the door; my confusion at Harry’s text won’t allow me to lag behind as I normally do.

I bring up the address in the Maps, press the button to start the route, and reverse out of the parking spot. It takes nearly an hour to reach the destination due to traffic - and one wrong turn. By the time I pull up into the half-circle drive, my frustration is through the roof, and I’m cursing Harry under my breath. I make sure my bag is tucked under the passenger seat before I step out of the car, locking the doors before I turn to face the house in front of me.

I clap a hand over my mouth to muffle the squeak that threatens to come out. What I’m staring at is something I could never even dream of stepping foot into, but here I am, about to knock on the front door. A floating kind of headiness takes residence in my brain, and I let myself enjoy it just for a moment before squashing it down. Feet planted firmly on solid ground once more, I make my way up the short sidewalk and ignore the twinge of embarrassment that reminds me I’m seriously under-dressed to be entering a home like this. I hadn’t planned on this when I’d gotten dressed this morning, so my cut-off jean shorts and faded Bon Jovi T-shirt are going to have to do. And Harry will just have to deal with how unimpressive my outfit is.

Harry opens the door before I even get the chance to knock. I frown at the way he glances behind me then over his shoulder; his grip isn’t exactly gentle like I’m used to when he tugs me into the foyer and shuts the door with a slam. He turns to stare at me, a smile fighting to break free. His green eyes are brighter than I’ve seen them before, and there are two splotches of red high up on his sharp cheekbones. I raise a brow when it becomes apparent that he isn’t going to speak.

“Uh, Harry? What’s going on?”

“I, uh, I have something for you.”

“I swear to god, if you’re going to try to murder me, at least let me change into something a little more respectable first,” I mutter darkly even as I follow him through the archway to what appears to be a living room.

“No murder, I swear. But… you might die.”

“That’s not help - holy fucking shit, Tubs?”

“I found him about an hour ago,” Harry announces as he bounces on the balls of his feet, clearly pleased with the surprise, and Tubs streaks to the other side of the room at the high pitch of my voice. “He evidently remembered how to get back to the vet’s office, because he was in the bushes when I went back to look for him.”

I pivot on my heel to stare at him, wide-eyed and awestruck. My hands come up to cup his cheeks. “Fucking Hell, Harry, I could kiss you right now.”

Before I can overthink it, I stretch up on my tiptoes and press my lips firmly to his. It’s a quick thing, contact then gone, and then I turn and cross the living room, drop to my knees on the floor in front of the ornate display case. Tubs hisses from his hiding place, and I lean over until my head rests on the floor to stare at my cat.

“You utter bastard, how dare you make me worry like this. C’mon, fat man, I think it’s time you come on home.”

Tubs yowls and curls himself into an even tighter ball, scooting further away from me. I roll my eyes, but I can’t deny the affection I feel for the cantankerous feline - nor can I blame him for his behaviour. I’d probably be just as freaked out as he is if I was in his shoes. Or fur. I stretch out to lie on my back, staring at the ceiling, leaving my hand near Tubs for whenever he decides to come out. Harry’s feet pit-pat across the cold tile as he moves about.

The house is silent, eerily so, for almost twenty minutes. I bite back a squeak when something cold and wet presses to my fingertips, force myself to stay relaxed as Tubs confirms my existence. Harry snorts off to my right when I groan loudly at the sudden addition of an extra eighteen pounds on my belly, and I lift my head to look at my cat. His purring is so comforting after so long without him, and he stares at me through half-closed eyes. I run a finger lightly over the bridge of his nose, blinking back tears when he makes that chirping noise of his that I love.

“You dick, you aren’t supposed to scare me like that. What would I do if you didn’t come back? Did you think about that, Mister McFatty?” I slowly sit up, though Tubs doesn’t make it easy. “I swear, I’m getting you a fucking leash. I’m not doing this again.”

Tubs merely gazes at me, his yellow-green eyes calm and peaceful, and I duck my head to kiss the top of his skull. Muttering that he’s an asshole again, I scritch beneath his chin as I turn my head to catch Harry’s attention. His expression clears up as soon as he registers that I’m looking at him; the divot between his brows disappears, and I know I can’t prove it, but the smile he gives me is definitely forced.

“Thank you so much, Harry. I, I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to repay you.”

His lips thin with his confusion. “Why would you need to?”

“You - do you really not understand?” I shake my head, carefully slip my hands under my cat to lift him as I stand. Harry shifts over to give me more space to sit on the sofa. “No one would ever have helped a complete stranger the way you have. Sure, they might have, y’know, helped look for a few minutes, but they certainly wouldn’t have continued to look once I was gone, or put up posters, or kept me distracted when I was on the verge of panic attacks. You didn’t bother to ask me why my cat is so important to me. You just knew he was, and you helped.”

“Well, I’m glad I could.”

“I appreciate everything you’ve done, and I swear that I will manage to pay you back somehow.”

He laughs softly, shrugging. “I’m not worried. Are you going to need help getting him to your car?”

I pause, stare down at the cat sleeping in my lap, before lifting my gaze to meet Harry’s with a sheepish nod. He chuckles and rises to his feet, leaving the room on quite footsteps. I run my fingers through Tubs’s fur. The fear that’s been a constant presence since his disappearance has faded; my relief at having him back is overwhelming, heady. I sniff back the tears that spring to my eyes. Between the panic and the guilt, I don’t think it’ll take long at all tonight to fall asleep - I’m utterly exhausted.

Harry comes back with a box in his hands, and he passes it over, rolling his eyes when I don’t immediately take it. The wetness in my eyes spills over as I look over the pictures on the box. He’s bought a carrier identical to the one that broke. My breathing is unsteady while I pull the item from its box, and Tubs wakes, ears flattening against his skull. Thankfully, Harry is there to catch the cat before he can jump off my lap, and even though he winces, Harry doesn’t let go despite Tubs’s violent wiggling and the way his skin is being torn by my cat’s claws. I get the carrier set up properly, hold it open so Harry can force Tubs in, and then rapidly zip it up.

“Thank you. So much.”

I initiate the hug this time; I don’t miss the shocked expression on Harry’s face as I step forward, snaking my arms around his middle. He holds me close and tight for a long moment, and I breathe in deeply, let the scent of him consume me. His warmth lingers on my skin even after I pull away. His hand is gentle on my lower back as he walks with me through the foyer and out to my car. Once I’ve gotten Tubs and the carrier buckled in the front passenger seat, I face Harry again. My words dry up in my throat, and I shrug awkwardly.

“Thanks.”

“You can stop thanking me now, Jo,” he says on a laugh. “I’m just glad he’s going back home.”

Another embrace, then I’m sliding in behind the steering wheel and starting the car up. Harry waits on the porch until I pull out of his driveway, the evening sunlight glinting gold off the glass in the door as he closes it. I adjust my sun-visor and turn on the radio to drown out Tubs’s vocal displeasure.