Just two people…starting over…
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Autumn knew it was high hopes for Charlie to have known anything. Of course her brother wasn’t telling her if he was kissing his best friend. That would have been weird, and totally inappropriate. God, why would she even ask a question like that? It was clear Charlie had teased the pair about liking each other in the past, considering she mentioned teasing him about girls in general. But hearing he could possibly have a crush on her gave her even just a glimmer of hope, her eyes lighting up when she heard that statement leave the woman’s lips. Just that was enough for her at this moment.
Just as Charlie seemed to want to tell her something, Autumn turned toward her with a goofy smile on her lips, one that seemed to match Henry’s almost identically. That’s when she jumped at the sound of Jared’s voice and the door slamming against the wall when it was thrown open. She turned quickly as he began talking, but her lips closed immediately. Her face began to heat up in embarrassment and nervousness. Her heart rate increased almost immediately, before she let her eyes be glued to the ground.
Autumn listened as the two went back and forth, Charlie saving her by saying the she had picked her up, not Henry. God, thank you Charlie she thought to herself, before her eyes shot up to Jared when he said her name. A bag? No, she didn’t want that. “Before I left, they said I should go home and be around my stuff. Help me regain memories and everythin-'' Autumn started, but Jared’s harsh stare caused her to stop mid sentence. She looked from him to Charlie, before taking a breath and heading into her room to pack.
Everything Charlie said rang true, Autumn was terrified to be with Jared alone. She didn’t know why, he was her boyfriend. She should be ecstatic to be around him for the whole day…right? She should want to be spending time with him. Instead, she was dreading it as she folded clothes and placed them in a bag she found in the bottom of the closet. She heard Jared yell at her to ‘pack something cute’, so she made sure to pack something ‘cute’. She didn’t know what that meant, but she thought a dress could at least suffice. Considering the limited amount of dresses she actually owned, it seemed like dresses weren't her normal. The clothes mostly consisted of athleisure and leotards; Henry was right about the amount of dance she did usually. Right now, she’d give anything to have Henry in the apartment.
As Autumn finished packing, Jared came into her room and grabbed her wrist to pull her out of the room. As they left her room, his hand slid from her wrist to her hand, making himself look better than he had before. “Well, we’re leaving. So, get out of my girlfriend’s apartment so we can get going.” Jared spoke, his voice smug. It sounded like both Charlie and him knew something Autumn did not. Autumn stared at Charlie, swallowing hard before her hands grip tightened on her bag she was holding. She felt Jared’s hand squeeze her own, Jared pushing her to say something to Charlie. “Oh, uh, yeah. We have to go.” was all Autumn could muster at the point. She made it a point to wave her phone to Charlie, showing her she could still reach her while she was with Jared. “C’mon babe. Be excited. You always loved coming to my place.”
The ‘couple’ followed Charlie into the hallway, before Jared tugged her to come with him down the hallway. Autumn waved to Charlie, before getting tugged by her arm once more by Jared, who practically dragged her down the hallway.
Jared had the common sense to wait until they were in the privacy of his car before tearing into Autumn. “Do you know how disrespectful it is for you to go directly behind my back like this?” His driving was erratic, zipping in and out of afternoon traffic. “I tell you one simple thing and you can’t even abide by it. I’ve taken the next two weeks off, out of the goodness of my heart, just to take care of you and the thanks I get is you fraternizing with the Monaghans.”
His temper only permeated the vehicle for the remainder of the drive to his condo. Not once did he let go of her hand until they were through the threshold and even then it was only to snatch her overnight bag away. “Take your shoes off, I won’t have you ruining my carpet with more selfishness.”
The apartment was just like Jared; cold and clinical. Unlike Henry’s home there wasn’t a single throw blanket to be found, nor any art adorning the walls. What wasn’t a stale grey was either black or white, and not in a good way. “There are going to be rules that I expect you to abide by while you’re in my house, Autumn,” he called from the bedroom. “I don’t care what you do in your own apartment but I have standards here that I expect to uphold.”
He re-entered the space and sauntered straight to her purse. “First thing’s first,” he rooted around until he secured what he was looking for. “No screens. I’m taking your phone to make sure you don’t break that rule. Doctor’s orders, babe. It’ll only make your head worse and we don’t need you back in the hospital because it’s boring enough without waiting around for you to wake up. Secondly, no television. Again, screens.”
There was little for entertainment other than two pieces of literature: a men’s fitness magazine and a homemade printed book of Jared’s ballet performances. Ideal for precisely no one. “And I was thinking,” he moved closer, taking her chin between his fingers to pull her gaze up to his own. “About how nice it is of me to take you in like this. That kind of loving boyfriend stuff deserves a reward, don’t you think? I wonder how exactly you’re going to come up with a way to pay me back for all this generosity.”
Autumn just let Jared yell at her as they drove through the streets. This seemed seriously dangerous, weaving around cars in such a busy area. She could barely speak anyway, as she closed her eyes tightly and held onto the door as he drove. This was so much worse than her drive back to her apartment with Henry, it was truly terrifying. His interior was stiff and uncomfortable, and stark white. His car was as obnoxious as he was, while she felt comfortable in Henry’s car. She felt comfortable around Henry in general.
The moment they got out of the car, his hand was holding hers tightly, practically pulling her behind him up the stairs. As soon as she walked in, he barked orders at her before pulling her bag out of her hands. She took her shoes off quickly, placing them on the mat next to his door. She knew she should try and stay on his good side, she’d rather this be as easy as possible. She made her way to his living room area, sitting on his couch, her back barely touching the back of the couch, her feet pointed on the ground. His apartment felt cold, clinical, like the hospital. It was ‘modern’, but in no way a home. Even her own place was warm and inviting, but this made her skin crawl.
“There are going to be rules that I expect you to abide by while you’re in my house, Autumn,” he called from the bedroom. “I don’t care what you do in your own apartment but I have standards here that I expect to uphold.”
“First thing’s first,” Jared picked up her purse and searched around until he secured what he was looking for. “No screens. I’m taking your phone to make sure you don’t break that rule. Doctor’s orders, babe. It’ll only make your head worse and we don’t need you back in the hospital because it’s boring enough without waiting around for you to wake up. Secondly, no television. Again, screens.”
“Jared, I need my phone. I don’t think it’s fair for me not to have it. What if someone reaches out to me or something?” Autumn spoke, her words a bit rambly as she wanted to be able to contact both Charlotte or Henry if she needed them. This is exactly what her and Charlotte had just spoken about. What was he capable of when the two of them were completely alone.
Jared seemed to not listen to what she was saying as he didn’t comment on her questions before making his way over to her. His hand slid down her face before he held her face in his hand. “Yes, it was really nice of you to have me over.” she spoke, his eyes boring into her own. He clearly wanted something a little more than she was willing to do at this moment. It was clear by the look in his eyes what he actually wanted.
“How about a kiss for now? Or even a few kisses. I’d like to have time to get ready for something more than that.” Autumn spoke, leaning up and pressing her lips against his. Kissing Jared gave her nothing. No butterflies, no warm feeling, no blushing like she felt before. Like she felt with Henry. She hoped her comments would get her out of anything else Jared wanted to do. “Did you have anything you wanted to do today? Or anything that we could do? Maybe something that could help jumpstart some memories?” Autumn asked, hoping they could go somewhere where she wasn’t so alone.
Jaw muscle twitching, Jared forced a smile. “Kisses, hm? Seems like a pretty mild form of payment for all the hardship I’ve been going through for your sake.”
He allowed her another few moments to reconsider. Surely she wouldn’t refuse him this little bit of pleasure for the excuse of a headache? When Autumn made no attempt to try again, he held her chin just a little tighter. “What a loving boyfriend I am,” he sighed. “Fine. Kisses will have to do, until you can really make it up to me.”
He’d leave her so breathless that the pathetic Monaghan boy wouldn’t cross her mind again. If he was nothing else, Jared was a raging narcissist and truly believed that his presence alone was going to make Autumn see sense and come running right into his masculine arms. What did Henry have that he didn’t, anyway? She probably got sucked in with the sob story of a single parent and it was downhill from there. The jackass probably expected her to care for his kid too. How could something like that ever compare to the self-sufficient, charming, and athletic physique that was Jared?
“I’m going to order us dinner. I still want you to watch your weight even if you can’t work right now, so it’ll be a salad for you. Don’t need to pack on pounds just to have to lose them all when you’re cleared to dance again. While I’m doing that, you can get yourself a little more presentable for our kissing session. I expect perfection.”
Her purse still dangling from his other hand, Jared disappeared into the kitchen and fished around in the bag until he located her credit card. No sense racking up a charge on his own bill just to feed her. Out of the goodness of his heart he even picked out a fancier restaurant to be sure the food was delicious. “We’ve got a good thirty minutes before dinner arrives. I wonder what we can get up to until then,” he undid two buttons on his shirt. “I feel like we’re wearing too many clothes, don’t you? If we’re going to make out, at least let’s make it a bit more enticing for me. What do you say, buttercup?”
Chest completely waxed hairless, it was ridiculous how many abs one person could hold. Jared wasn’t about to let the mood shift again so he took control and grabbed her face again, forcing a kiss before she could voice her discomfort. “Spark any memories?” he smirked down at her.
The tightening hold on her chin made her heart beat faster in her chest, but more in an anxious way and less of a flustered way. Autumn nodded to his agreement for kisses, before he let go of her chin before walking away from her. Her hand went to her neck once he walked away from her, now even more nervous about what he thought ‘kisses’ were. Was he expecting something more than she wanted to give, probably. But, why was she acting like this? Jared was her long term boyfriend. She should want this intimacy with him. Maybe she was just blowing this whole thing out of proportion. She never thought if maybe Jared was right, and the Monaghan’s were truly trying to sabotage their relationship. Maybe this was the right idea…
And as soon as she thought that, it was shot down by his dig at her weight. She had been having memories of her old disordered eating, and Jared’s words didn’t help how she felt. But, maybe he was right. She should watch her weight, considering she had gained weight since the photos Henry showed her from her dancing. Jared was just looking out for her…right?
The food though was too in her mind when he spoke of ‘getting ready’ for their kissing session. She stood, heading into his bedroom to her bag. She really didn’t have anything that screamed ‘sexy’, which she should have thought of beforehand. Instead, she could at least put on a little bit of makeup, as well as putting her hair down and letting it sit by her shoulders. She did a very simple makeup look, some eyeliner and mascara and a little bit of concealer. It wasn’t a lot, but it was something. She re-entered the living space, and quickly pulled off the sweater she was wearing, leaving herself in a simple black tank top.
“I took off my sweater. Did you want me to take off my tank top too?” Autumn asked, before watching him take off his shirt. He was fit, very fit. It was clear he was a dancer and took care of himself, but it also seemed as though he knew he looked good. The use of the nickname buttercup was a nice touch, and it did make her feel good. She used his question as an answer to her own, taking off her tank top. She used her hands to cover her exposed stomach under her bralette, which she was thankful was cut longer than just a bra. “Is this what you were thinking?” she asked, trying to enjoy this time. If she imagined she could have a decent time, maybe she would.
Jared pulled her in for a rough kiss, before pulling back. No sparks, nothing between them in the kiss. “Sorry, no memories yet.” she spoke awkwardly. She knew it was coming, and she might as well be open minded. He was right, it could possibly spark some memories of their relationship. The doctor did say relationships with people would be one of the last things to come back, so she would try anything.
Autumn let Jared have his ‘makeout session’, and she tried to enjoy it. By the sounds coming from him, it sounded like he enjoyed it. As he pulled back as the doorbell rang, Autumn waited ‘til he walked away to wipe her mouth off. She sat up, finger brushing her hair as it got messed up from Jared grabbing it a couple of times before she asked him to stop, which he groaned about.
Autumn threw her tank top back on as the delivery man came to give them the food. Even to delivery people he was rude, and even yelled at the man for possibly looking at Autumn. He handed over the salad to Autumn, piled high with veggies and a lite vinaigrette on the side. Autumn did like salads, but this was little to nothing for dinner. No protein or anything to make the salad a little more interesting, but she would deal. It was good for her anyway. She picked at the salad as she looked over at Jared’s much more interesting meal. It was healthy as well, Salmon, baked potato and roasted veggies; but much more exciting than her ‘box of lettuce’.
“Did you, uh, enjoy the kisses?” Autumn asked as she stabbed a cherry tomato with her fork before placing it in her mouth. “So, you dance too? Have we done any dances together, or worked together before?” she asked, attempting to get to know him a bit more. She was desperate for memories, and hopefully she could pull information from him. She heard her phone vibrate, as it sat on the counter just out of reach. “Oh, would you just check who it is and what they said? I don’t want to worry anyone.” she asked, hopefully that would at least grant her some use of her phone, even if it was through high supervision.
The last thing he wanted to do was check her phone but he also didn't want to deal with her whining about it all night. “I'm sure it's nobody as important as who is sitting in front of you right now,” he grumbled, reaching for her phone and scowling at the screen. About a dozen missed messages from Henry and the newest one from Charlotte, all wanted to hear back to ensure she was fine. Jared deleted them in quick succession, tucking her phone into his pocket. “Told you. Not important. Now, I'm tired and since things aren't going anywhere I'd hoped tonight, I'm just going to sleep.”
He cleared the table not even caring that she wasn't finished her salad before he snatched it up and pitched the takeout containers into the trash. If she wasn't going to give him what he wanted, she certainly wasn't going to get anything either. One pillow and a thin cotton sheet was all he dropped on the sofa for her. “My bed is for action only. You can sleep here tonight and reconsider my offer. Tomorrow if you behave and do what I say, then you can join me in bed.”
In his own apartment across town, Henry was dialing and re-dialing Autumn's number with no success, not realizing Jared had turned her phone off. The idea that she was alone with him at the hospital was bad enough but when Charlie told him that the prick had run off with her where they couldn't get her to safety, his heart nearly stopped. He couldn't even get angry and cuss out loud because Maggie was finally asleep in her room just down the hall after a meltdown of epic proportions when he told her that they couldn't visit Autumn again that night.
“What the fuck am I supposed to do, just sit here and hope to god that nothing bad happens to her?” He gripped at his hair, stomach curdling as he whisper-yelled at his sister over the phone.
“I'm not saying any of that, what I'm saying is give me some goddamn time for Rowan to figure this out. No one knows a damn thing about this guy in our circle so we have to branch out and use our resources.”
“Charlie, talk to me. What resources?”
“Okay look, I may have convinced Rowan to get her police buddies to do a background check on this guy, including where he lives.”
“Is…is that even legal? I mean it's genius and I'm eternally grateful to Rowan, even if saying that makes me want to throw up in my mouth."
“Give us until the morning, we'll have something for you.”
Autumn wasn’t as surprised that he threw away her food in the same way when he plopped down a blanket and a pillow for her to sleep on the couch. She watched him walk away and rolled her eyes. She entered the bedroom, seeing Jared’s smug smile looking at her as she stood near the door. “I need to get my pajamas.” she spoke, going to her bag and grabbing a pair of shorts, a tank top, and her toiletry bag before heading out back into the living room. She had no issues being an ass to him if he was going to do it back, especially since she could walk away. His smile immediately dropped as she grabbed her stuff and walked off.
“Don’t fucking talk to me like that in my house. God, you’re so smug and shit.” Jared yelled from his room, his tone almost terrifying. Autumn took a deep breath as she heard him yell, glad at least the worst he did was yell and did come after her. She closed the door and locked it, before dressing into her pajamas and getting ready for bed, washing off her makeup and brushing her teeth. She exited, folding her clothes from the day and set them neatly on the floor. She wanted as little argument as much.
As she set up her thin pillow and blanket in his already freezing house, she saw him leaning against the doorway. “Is everything alright, babe?” she asked, sitting up and looking at him. She hoped the babe would help in making him less combative, which is what it seemed like he wanted. “Don’t babe me, now. If I ever hear or see you acting smug again…you don’t want to know what will happen.” Jared spoke, his arms crossed over his bare chest. “Anyway, we’re going out tomorrow on a proper date. And when we get home, we’re going straight to bed…if you know what I mean. I’m going to show you exactly what you have been missing. I’ll drop you off at your apartment to get ready and pick you up when it’s time to go.” he spoke, before approaching her, taking hold of her chin as he did before. “Good night.” he spoke, before roughly pressing his lips against hers. “Good night.” she spoke softly before he released her chin roughly, before closing the door to his room.
Autumn leaned down, looking outside of his large living room window, the tinkling lights of the small amount of stars she could see allowed her to smile before she closed her eyes, falling asleep.
It had no be no earlier than 6 am when the sound of the blender whirling woke her up. She sat up, her surprise caused her to sit up. “Finally, you're up. Get up, it’s gym time.” he spoke, while Autumn rubbed her eyes confused. “What? What time is it?” she asked, reaching for the phone not in her possession anymore due to Jared keeping it. “It’s like 6 am, now get up.”
Jared put Autumn through the ringer in the apartment gym, weights and machines. He did let her restrain from running on the treadmill for her head, but made sure she walked for an hour to ‘make sure she would still burn the calories’. She was stronger than she imagined she’d be, but she didn’t expect her first jump back into working out would be this hard of a circuit. After their gym session, they headed upstairs and Jared leaned against the doorframe of the apartment. “Wanna shower together?” he asked, walking up behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist. “C’mon, it’ll be fun.”
“But it’ll take away from tonight. We want it to be special, right?” Autumn thought over her response quickly before deciding on it. At least she could spend the day getting ready now, right. He let go over her waist, heading to his room. “I guess you’re right. I’ll go first and you can hop in next.” he winked, before heading in the shower.
Autumn sighed as she relaxed back onto the couch, her deep breathing calming slightly. If the workout didn’t wind her, the 10 flights of stairs he made her do after definitely did as he went up the elevator. She was able to relax, closing her eyes for a small nap before he whipped a towel at her to wake her up. “It's your turn.” Jared spoke, his towel wrapped around his waist, but hung very low enough to show off…almost everything. As she tried to slid past him, he held her arm and pressed a kiss to her lips. “Let’s have a good day, okay?” he spoke, almost saying it like ‘don’t fuck up’. She nodded, before he released her and she could get into the shower.
The warm water of the shower was nice, definitely warming her body and now aching muscles. Being alone and warm, it had been the best moment since she arrived here.
Domestic assault, two counts. An ex-girlfriend from only a handful of years back, restraining order still valid. Henry’s stomach was in knots. “I need you to just breathe and not do anything stupid,” Charlotte’s voice echoed over the bluetooth connection in his Jeep.
“I’m not leaving her there with him, Charlie! You can’t ask me to do that!”
“I’m not saying leave her there, I’m saying wait until we have a better plan of action. This dude is legitimately dangerous.”
“You’re acting like I’ve not been in my share of fights.”
Another sigh. “I don’t want you to go to jail, Henry.”
Without saying goodbye, he hung up and focused on the road. His sister tried calling back twice in a row but seemed to give up when he didn’t answer either call. Rowan had gotten a home address and his criminal record, that was all he needed to know before leaving Maggie in their care and punching the address into his GPS. Autumn wasn’t staying with Jared another second, not if he had anything to say about it.
Of course the apartment building was new and sleek, unlike their own crumbling historic building. Henry was nearly to the door when he spotted Jared storming out, cell phone pressed to his ear and arguing with whomever it was on the other line. Luckily whatever the argument was offered enough of a distraction that he didn’t notice Henry duck back against the window and then slipped through the door behind him. Jared had keys in his free hand, a good omen. If he wasn’t back for a while that would give him plenty of time to get Autumn free.
Everything was so…shiny. The marble floor of the elevator glistened up at him, almost taunting his brokenness in comparison to Jared’s apparent wealth. Surely Autumn wasn’t falling for this charade of elite life? The condo wasn’t exactly a penthouse but it sure as hell was high enough for a skyline view. “Come on come on come on,” he muttered to himself along the hallway until he came to the door.
Glancing around, he ensured no one was watching before trying the handle. By some absolute miracle it was unlocked, which only meant that someone - Autumn - was still inside. Jesus Christ, you could fit two of his own apartments in this one alone, he was momentarily distracted by the vast open concept space. It was exactly what he imaged Jared’s interior decorating skills to be like; cold and void of any personality.
“Autumn?” he called only to receive no response.
Door one was a closet. Door two was a home office, just off the pantry. “Autumn?” he tried door number three, adrenaline pumping in his ears too loudly for him to notice the sound of running water.
Or precisely, the showering girl in front of him, clear as day through the glass wall of the shower. “Fuck, I am so sorry!” His eyes trailed her body - force of habit - until he forced them closed and slammed his hand over for extra measure.
Autumn was actually enjoying her shower now that Jared wasn’t yelling at his assistant over the phone. What mediocre dancer has an assistant? But of course, Jared had to think he was better than anyone else. I think the large shirtless photo of him in the living room told that better than anything else.
Apparently, getting a reservation at one of the five star restaurants in town wasn’t as easy as he expected. So, Jared decided to take it out on his poor assistant who was only able to get them at a reservation at a four star restaurant. But once he left, Autumn could finally relax in the warmth of the shower.
Sooner than expected, a voice called out her name. She was about why Jared would wonder where she was, so she just stayed quiet. Her head underneath the water muffled the second call before she noticed the abrupt door opening. She turned toward the door, her eyes widening as she saw Henry staring back at her. His eyes trailing her body before he shut them, covering them also with his hand. She turned off the water, grabbing a towel and wrapping it around her body quickly. “What the fuck are you doing here?” she asked abruptly, before hearing Jared enter the apartment again.
“You do not leave. You do not move.” Autumn spoke roughly, before walking out of the room, closing the door to hide Henry. She was pissed and confused why he was here, but she also didn’t want a fight to break out. “Baaabe, I forgot my hairbrush in your car last night and I was wondering if you’d grab it for me?” Autumn spoke, knowing exactly how to act to get her way with Jared. “I don’t know, what do I get for doing that for you?” he asked, his eyes motioning down to her towel. Knowing Henry was in the next room and she needed him out of here, she grabbed the two edges of the towel, opening them to expose herself for less than a second before covering herself again. “Only a preview…” she spoke, her voice teasing. “Damnnnnn. Okay, okay, yes, I’ll go get it.” Jared spoke, pressing a kiss to her lips before heading back out of the apartment.
As soon as Autumn knew he was at least on the elevator. She reentered the bedroom. “Get the fuck out of here. Now.” Autumn dragged him to the door. “Breaking into my boyfriend’s place, AND walking in on me in the shower. I thought we were friends.” she spoke, before pushing him the rest of the way out of the door before shutting the door in his face. She ran a hand over her face, before re-entering the bathroom. She didn’t know how she felt right now. Why was Henry here? How, and why, did he come all the way to Jared’s apartment, which was a good 30 minutes from their older building with the NY traffic.
Jared reentered the apartment, “Autumn, are you stupid? You’re hairbrush wasn’t even in the car.” he spoke, walking into his bedroom and going into her bag. “It’s right here! God, you are such an idiot.” he slammed the brush down in front of her. “Try t h i n k i n g next time, okay?” he spoke, slowing his speech on ‘thinking’ to really drive it home. He was inches from her face, in the most threatening way.
Autumn was able to get through most of the afternoon without much reprimanding from Jared, except when she asked if they were going to eat lunch. He was pissed she was even asking that as he was about to drop hundreds on dinner. He dropped her off at her apartment, saying he was going to pick her up in two and a half hours, not a minute later, so as not to waste time. Autumn agreed, before heading up to her apartment. Before she went into her own apartment, she knocked on the door to Henry’s, before testing the handle that was unlocked.
“I don’t think I’d need to knock now! Are you serious? Stalking me and my boyfriend! Seriously?” Autumn spoke, her voice and body language heightened. “And seeing me in the shower?! Why! Why would you do that?! Why were you even in the apartment? How?!”
Henry couldn’t get the image of hurt and anger on Autumn’s face out of his head. The venom in her voice killed any explanation for his actions, ousting him from the condo before Jared returned, only it wasn’t out of concern for his safety. He’d prepped Charlotte on the phone during his drive back home, desperate for advice that might help his cause but even his sister failed to come up with anything that might save his ass.
“How do you accidentally see someone naked?” She paced his living room, fingers rubbing circles into her temples. “How did you not hear the shower running?”
They’d banished Maggie to her bedroom to play while they worked through the events of the day. Henry was slumped on the couch, head in his hands. “I don’t know, it was like I couldn’t hear past the adrenaline!”
“I don’t think Autumn is going to accept that as an excuse, seeing as you deliberately broke into her boyfriend’s house.”
“I’m her boyfriend!”
“Not to her, you dingus! Not right now! So not only did you commit a felony, you oggled her goodies while committing said felony.”
There was no good way to spin this in his favour. Autumn was going to hate him and he would just have to deal with that for the rest of his life, no matter how much it pained him. “I-”
“I don’t think I’d need to knock now!” The woman in question burst through the door, making both twins jump in shock. “Are you serious? Stalking me and my boyfriend? Seriously?”
“Autumn listen, it’s not like how you think it is!”
Fuck what the doctors had to say about it, he couldn’t continue to lie to her if it was only going to make her hate him. “And seeing me in the shower?! Why? Why would you do that? Why were you even in the apartment? How?”
Charlotte muttered an excuse behind him, hurrying off to Maggie’s room to keep the toddler busy - and hopefully drown out the fight. Henry tried to keep track of the accusations and questions Autumn was throwing at him but his brain wasn’t able to keep up or figure out a logical reason that would make sense to her before blurting out, “Because I love you and you’re my girlfriend, not his!”
Christ, he was just digging the grave deeper and deeper for himself. “I know you think I’m some creep right now but Jared isn’t your boyfriend! He was your emergency contact when you got hurt and the hospital called him instead of me so he got to lie to you and get in your head that you’re together with him but he’s an abusive monster who is manipulating you! He’s got domestic violence charges against him, did you know that? I had someone look into his background so that I could track you down before he hurt you!”
To any rational human being, it sounded like a complete fabrication. The ramblings of a mad man, really. Henry took a step forward and reached for her hands. “We’ve been dating for six months, Autumn, please remember that! I don’t know how to make you remember but please just trust me until you do. You aren't safe with Jared, he's going to hurt you. Charlotte can vouch for me, she was there in the hospital when you came around. She knows what he's doing too!"
So far he'd admitted to not only breaking and entering someone's home, but also that he'd illegally ran a background check on the man she believed she was dating. Henry looked like a grade A stalker. That was how she saw him, he realized, fueling his panic. “If you just give me a minute I can show you everything,” he reached for his phone, fumbling to unlock it. “Just look at the pictures I have, please!”
Autumn crossed her arms over her chest, waiting for answers. She wasn’t sure what she actually wanted to hear, but she wanted something. Something that would explain the totally insane thing Henry did. She watched as Charlotte headed toward another room, which was probably for the best. She seemed to have a look that showed she knew everything that was happening, but it wasn’t her battle to fight. It was Henry’s. And at this point, she didn’t care who was around while she figured it out.
That’s when he said it. “Because I love you and you’re my girlfriend, not his!”
What. WHAT?! Was he insane? They weren’t-- they couldn’t be--. She stared at him, wide eyes, just blinking. Her whole body felt like it froze, and time was in slow motion. He started talking faster than she could comprehend, and adding on so many things about Jared that just sounded like lies. He was a stalker, and Jared was right about Henry. She should have just stayed away from him from the beginning. Jared had been so, so right.
“Stop.” Autumn spoke, holding her hand up to stop him from getting anywhere near her, and to stop moving. “Henry, you understand how crazy everything you’re saying sounds, right? Right now, everything I thought I knew about you had gone fully out the window.” she spoke, stepping one step back from the spot she had been frozen in. One hand wrapped around her waist, one in front of her, creating a barrier between the two. “All you sound like is someone trying to manipulate someone who lost all of her memories into being your girlfriend because you have a crush. I’m sorry Henry, but I am in a relationship.” she spoke, before looking at her watch, lucky she had plenty of time still to get ready for the date with her boyfriend.
“I appreciate what you did for me, picking me up from the hospital and everything, but I think you should just leave me alone. Leave us alone. I will live my life and you will live yours. But please, just leave me alone.” Autumn spoke, letting out a deep breath. “I have to go. Goodbye Henry.” And with that, she closed the door to Henry’s apartment.
Autumn made her way into her own apartment, going into her bedroom to get started on getting ready. She started doing makeup, using some videos Jared had sent her to follow. After doing all the makeup and thinking she looked too fake, she took some of it off and toned down the makeup. The red lipstick and black eye makeup was still there, but the overdone contour and overlined lips were no longer there. It was the most done up than she had ever seen, even in the pictures she scrolled through on her phone. She worked on her hair next, Jared suggesting she curled it. She added a few curls to the ends of her hair, brushing them out so they were looser. She felt very overdressed, but this is what Jared wanted. And at this point, she would do whatever Jared wanted for dealing with the Monaghan's.
Going into her semi walk-in closet, Autumn began looking through dresses. Lot’s of them seemed not formal enough, sundresses and rompers. She knew she needed something that was a little bit sexy, and something fancy for their expensive date. At the very back of her closet was a black dress, a slit on either side of the waist. That dress seemed good enough, so she pulled it down, before setting it in her room to get ready.
Autumn could tell this dress was old, as it seemed she hadn’t worn it in a while. The dry cleaning tag was dated at least three years ago, so she knew it would be special. She slid the dress over her body, fitting her like a glove. She went in front of her mirror to look at her entire ensemble. She looked up at herself, before being hit with a huge wave of memories.
Terrible, terrible memories. All of them are related to Jared.
Jared wasn’t her boyfriend. He had never been her boyfriend. He was aggressive, mean, and pressured her into sleeping with him on their first (and only date) three years ago. He was also the one who caused her to hit in the head in the first place. But if this was the case..then Henry. There was no way he was completely telling the truth, but some of it was truthful.
Then why in the hell did he wait ‘til now to tell her?! Until she was hours away from sleeping with him. Living with him?!
Autumn, still completely dressed, barged into Henry's apartment once more. “Why in the HELL did you wait until TODAY to tell me that Jared is a psychopath?! Charlotte, Rowan, and you, Henry, played along with this monster pretending to be my boyfriend! This fucking dress made every memory of Jared come back and I can’t believe someone who claims to ‘love me’ would let me be around this person! And you can’t say that I ‘kicked you out’ or anything, because you played along until t o d a y!” Autumn spoke, pacing around as she spoke, making sure to point at Henry whenever was necessary, her New York accent which is normally hidden, coming out thick in her anger.
Placing her hands on her hips, Autumn stared daggers at the man. “And don’t think just because I know about Jared means everything you said is true! One man manipulated me into a relationship, you could be trying to do the same thing!” she spoke. She took a second, her hands dropping to her sides, before tangling themselves in her hair. Her voice breaking as she looked at him, her hands ripping from her hair, “Why would you let him trick me? He’s been pushing me the moment I stepped into his place to sleep with him! And I was here thinking I was a bad girlfriend for not wanting to do that! You were the only person who could have told me…and you didn’t.” She spoke, before walking to the door. “Fuck you, Henry Monaghan.” Autumn spoke, before opening his apartment door and slammed it shut behind her.
Fuck. Fuck. He'd gone and done the exact thing they were advised against and in one spectacular blaze, any hope he had of reuniting with Autumn went up in flames. She was asking him to leave her alone and every bone in his body was protesting that he do something for god's sake before he lost her forever, only Henry managed to just stand there with tears in his eyes and mouth incapable of speech. “I have to go. Goodbye Henry.”
Those words slapped him harder than if she'd physically struck him. God, he wanted to throw up. He wanted to break everything in sight and scream into the silence but he was still frozen to the spot like an idiot. “Hen?” Charlotte approached after hearing nothing over the last few minutes. “Henry, I want you to sit okay? Just sit and take a few minutes.”
He let her guide him to the sofa, barely registering the fact that she sat down beside him and began rubbing her hand in circles on his back like when they were kids and he was upset. “That was…that was awful, I know. It's going to be okay. Maybe she just needs some time to process everything, it's a lot all at once. And besides, she doesn't have her memories back yet. As soon as she does I'm sure everything will go right back to being the way it was.”
But would it? She'd accused him of being some pervert stalker, disdain clear as day on her face. Autumn didn't trust him anymore. And after their kiss, his outburst had only fueled that guilt. What had he been thinking? She didn't even have full control of her mental faculties yet and he'd upended her world for the second time in as many days. “I don't think it's going to be that easy, Charlie.”
They stayed like that for over an hour. Charlotte continued to try and bolster his spirits but Henry's head stayed in his hands, replaying the scene like a horror movie come to life. Maggie had only come out once to ask for a drink but one look at her father had set off alarm bells in the young girl's head. “Why is Daddy upset?”
“Daddy just needs to calm down okay Mags? Why don't you go finish your movie in your room and we'll get dinner later.”
The toddler wasn't overly convinced but did as she was told. She'd heard Autumn's voice but didn't see her. Was that why Daddy was upset? Maggie brushed it off, too engrossed in her movie to pay it much more attention until she definitely heard Autumn's voice only this time she was shouting. Patting down the hallway as quietly as she could, she watched as her favourite princess absolutely laid in to her father, who was alone while Charlie took a phone call from Rowan on the balcony. “Why would you let him trick me? He’s been pushing me the moment I stepped into his place to sleep with him! And I was here thinking I was a bad girlfriend for not wanting to do that! You were the only person who could have told me…and you didn’t.” She spoke, before walking to the door. “Fuck you, Henry Monaghan.” Autumn spoke, before opening his apartment door and slammed it shut behind her.
“Daddy?” Maggie's voice quivered as she watched his breathing pick up speed. “Auntie Charlie!”
“What's- Henry? Henry, breathe!”
Charlotte rushed back inside at the sound of her niece calling, heart sinking as she took in Henry's gasps. A panic attack. He used to suffer with them as a teenager and this one had struck full-force. “Maggie go to your room!” she ordered, guiding him back to the couch and trying to coach his breathing to slow. “Henry, look at me. You're here, everything is okay. You're going to be fine!”
Maggie watched with tears brimming in her eyes, not understanding what was going on. Why was her dad being so scary? Was he sick? Autumn's face popped in her head suddenly and the tears turned to anger. Autumn had done this! Her daddy was fine until Autumn came in and started yelling! Eyeing her dad's phone forgotten on the TV stand, the toddler's plan was cemented. She would give Autumn a piece of her little mind! Phone in hand she snuck out the door and stomped across the hall. Going on tiptoe again she turned the handle and stomped her barefeet across the floor until she found who she was looking for. “You said a bad word and now Daddy is crying! Friends don't make friends cry!”
She stood as tall as her two foot frame allowed her, one fist clenched and the other clutching the phone tightly. “You were my favourite but now you're just a meanie! My daddy loves you and you made him sad!” Her little fingers punched in the code to unlock his phone - her birthday of course - and scrolled until she found the photos app. “Daddy doesn't lie!” Maggie held up the phone triumphantly. “You're in a spaceship!”
Autumn slammed her own door closed, bringing her hands into her hair. She knew she was harsh, but she didn’t know what else to do. She was furious, and now she knew that soon she was going to have to deal with Jared herself. He was going to come in looking for the stupid girl he was worming his way into, and find her. She knew she wasn’t strong enough to take him herself, maybe she could call the police and let them know he would be coming? That might work. She sat down on her couch, a hand still tangled in her hair as she looked through for the non-emergency line before she heard the door open.
“Henry, I-” Autumn started, before looking over and not seeing anyone at the door as she looked over. Raising an eyebrow, she stood up and saw the tiny blonde march her way over to her. She knew it had to be Henry’s daughter, what was her name? Madison? Madeline? Maggie! “Maggie, what are you doing h-” Autumn started, before the little one began yelling at her. She must have heard her come over and yell at her father. It took Autumn a moment before she registered what she was saying. Henry was crying?
“Maggie, you don’t under-” Autumn tried to say before the little one yelled again. Even Maggie knows about him ‘loving’ me? Why would she know about that? “I think you-” she stopped again when the little girl shoved the phone toward her, an album of pictures showing in her face. Wait, did she say spaceship? “Do you mean, relationship?” Autumn asked, before looking back at the phone, taking it softly into her own hands. “That’s what I said! A spaceship! Daddy loves you, I don’t know why you're being mean like this! You don’t act like this ever.” Maggie replied, crawling up onto the couch to look at the photos with Autumn.
Autumn swiped through the photos, taking a moment to look through each one. They looked so happy together. She looked happy. Henry had never lied to her, he had been trying to protect her this whole time. Well, he lied about Jared, but it was so she wouldn’t freak out like she had. He knew she would have freaked out if she found out in the hospital, and was trying to let her memories come back on their own. Each picture made her regret how she treated him even more, tears pooling to her eyes.
“Wait…why you crying?” Maggie asked, looking at Autumn’s face. Sure, she came over to make sure Autumn knew what she did was wrong, but she didn’t want her to cry. She wanted her to say sorry, not be sad herself. “Oh, I just did something really mean. I was really mean to your daddy.” she spoke, her voice cracking as she pushed tears away as they fell down her face. Maggie straightened up, “Yeah, you were! You need to apologize.”
“I don’t think he’d take my apology at this point.”
“He would! You’re all dressed up, why don’t you and daddy have a playdate!”
Autumn couldn’t entertain the fact that Henry would ever forgive her for how she acted. She had blown everything out of proportion and didn’t even let him speak. She broke into his home twice, and he never even spoke when she was there. She was terrible, awful. She went back to the photos, looking at all the photos of the two of them together. Videos of kisses, hugs, compliments, everything. She wished she could be that happy again. Henry and her, but she ruined that. And his daughter was here to shove it in her face…wait…
“Wait, Maggie. Does Daddy know you're over here?”
It was another ten minutes of Charlotte guiding him through breathing exercises for Henry’s panic attack to subside. His lungs burned from the lack of air and his eyes were red from crying - from both Autumn’s vicious words and the fear of being unable to breathe properly. “She’s gone Charlie, she’s never going to hear me out now.”
“I don’t want you to think about Autumn right now. You are the priority. What’s done is done, we need to focus on getting your head on straight before you come up with whatever game plan you want,” she returned with a glass of ice water for him.
She was right. Maggie was there, he needed to get his shit together before he scared her. Oh god, she’d seen him starting to break down. Those little eyes of hers looked terrified as she cried for Charlie. She was probably worried sick. “I need to check on Maggie,” he forced himself off the couch.
“Mags, are you-” he froze in the doorway. “Maggie?”
Maybe she was hiding in his room, a habit when she was scared. No such luck. Panic set in again. “Charlotte, where's Maggie?”
“I sent her back to her room, why?”
“Because she’s not fucking there, Charlotte! Oh god, she’s missing. My daughter is missing,” Henry scoured the apartment in a hurry, going from bathroom to linen closet, and triple checking the two bedrooms with no success.
“Have you considered that she may be at Autumn’s?”
Henry froze. The last thing he needed at that moment was for his (ex?)girlfriend finding his daughter on her doorstep because he was incapable of functioning. Normally he’d rather chew nails then willingly enter an awkward situation but with his daughter on the line, he would bite the bullet. He had the courtesy to knock twice before barging in, hand slapped over his eyes for good measure. “Autumn I’m sorry, have you seen Maggie?”
Charlotte waltzed in behind him. “Why the hell are your eyes covered? Maggie’s right there!”
“I didn’t want to walk in on anyone naked again!”
“Nobody shows their privates to anyone else, right Daddy?” Maggie joined the conversation with zero help to his embarrassment.
Figuring if his kid was there, no nakedness was a threat. “Maggie you can’t just leave the apartment, what are you even doing here?” Henry crouched, throwing his arms around her out of sheer relief that she wasn’t in fact missing.
“I fix it!”
“You fixed what?”
“Oh god,” Charlie flushed red. “She means relationship. I told her as a joke that Rowan and I were in a spaceship. Maggie what did you do?”
It was then that Henry spotted his cell phone, opened and flaunting the pictures he’d tried to desperately to keep a secret for Autumn’s sake. She’d been right, he never should have played along and kept everything from her, no matter what the doctor had said. He’d let her walk right into Jared’s arms and who knows what could have happened to her!
“I’m really sorry about her,” he rose to his feet, unable to meet Autumn’s eyes. “I’ll just take her home and we’ll stay away.”
“Daddy, no! I don’t wanna stay away!”
“Magnolia Charlotte, you will do as I say. Don’t think you’re not in trouble for running away!”
“You know what, I’m just going to take her back to the apartment while you guys chat,” Charlotte stepped in and swooped up her niece. “Take your time, I think you need it.”
“I’m really sorry about her, I’ll just take her home and we’ll stay away.”
“Daddy, no! I don’t wanna stay away!”
“Magnolia Charlotte, you will do as I say. Don’t think you’re not in trouble for running away!”
“You know what, I’m just going to take her back to the apartment while you guys chat. Take your time, I think you need it.”
And the door closed behind Charlotte as she took a pouting Maggie out of Autumn’s home and back to Henry’s apartment. Everything happened so fast from when Henry and Charlotte barged in to when they left she could barely comprehend it all. All she knew now was Henry and her were alone. Actually alone. Autumn took a deep breath, before letting her eyes drift up to Henry, the man who was actually her boyfriend and had actually been worried about her this whole time. The one she screamed at for absolutely no reason about 20 minutes ago.
“Henry…” Autumn approached him, reaching a hand out before pulling it back to her. She knew she had truly hurt him, and she needed to be careful with her words. “I understand if you don’t accept this, but I need to do it. I’m so sorry.” she spoke, and as she did when she was nervous, the words just tumbled out of her mouth. “I didn’t take a moment to let you explain yourself and just painted you as some terrible person when in reality, you are nothing like that at all. You have been my boyfriend this whole time…Maggie told me.” she spoke, a small smile on her lips at her Maggie comment.
“Now, I don’t have all my memories back and I truly don’t have anything about you before the hospital, but I knew that we had a connection when we met. And when I kissed you, it felt like I was supposed to and then the only reason I made you leave was because I was worried I’d do it again. But what I do know is that I don’t want to be anywhere near Jared after all he’s done and tried to do to me. I know he’s dangerous, and he’s the reason I lost my memories in the first place. He cornered me in an empty dance studio and I fell.”
Autumn’s hands went into her hair, pushing it back from her face. “I feel so stupid! How would I believe he would be my boyfriend? He didn’t know anything about me. He made me sleep on his couch last night because I wouldn’t sleep with him.” she spoke. She walked up to Henry, meeting his eyes with her own. “Henry, I am the worst person in the world, and it seems like an even worse girlfriend. You have been trying to protect me and I haven’t let you explain once. I understand if you never want to see me again.” she spoke, before taking his hand in hers softly.
“But, if you can find it in your heart to forgive me, I’d like to try and remember what we’ve had. Our ‘spaceship’.” Autumn smiled, giving his hand a careful squeeze, looking up at him with a smile.
“What the FUCK are you doing?!” Jared spoke, slamming Autumn’s door open roughly. “I TOLD you. I TOLD YOU I’d be here in two hours and you better be fucking ready. And I come up to pick you up for our special date and you’re HAND IN HAND with a MONAGHAN. You think I’m gonna let this slide again?” Jared spoke, taking long strides up to Autumn, grabbing her wrist and pulling her roughly from Henry’s hands. He took her chin in his hand, his hold on her tight and rough. “What do I have to do to make you understand?! You are m i n e.” he spoke, letting go of her hand and raising his hand to slap her across the face.
The whole time Autumn interacted with Jared, she froze. Her face, her voices, her body was overcome with terror. She had seen him mad, but not THIS mad. “N-no!” she yelled, making Jared’s raised hand stop. “I know what you’ve done to me. I have my memories of you back! Get away from me, I don’t want to see you anymore! I’ll call the cops!” Autumn spoke, her old spunk coming back to her. Jared looked dumbfounded at her, his raised hand now falling to his side, before he laughed. He was laughing?
“This fucking guy really convinced you, huh? You understand I’m rich, I have a killer body, I’m hot, I can give you everything. Henry is a 6 at best and wants you to mother his fucking kid. He’s living in the same shit apartment building you do. Why in the world would you not want me?”
Jared turned from Autumn to Henry. “You think you're some tough guy, huh? Why don’t all of you Monaghan's and your brat leave us alone, hm? I could beat your ass anyway, so maybe you should go so you don’t embarrass yourself.” Jared spoke, before being almost nose to nose with him.
“I have to take my girlfriend out before I sleep with her, and you're in the way.”
“You don't have anything to be sorry for,” Henry hurriedly assured her, torn between pulling her into an embrace and leaving that cautious space between them. “We were told by the doctors to let you go along with what you believed to be the truth and you didn't remember me so I couldn't tell you that Jared was lying but I wanted to! We didn't want to let you go with him and I never should have, knowing what he's capable of.”
“But, if you can find it in your heart to forgive me, I’d like to try and remember what we’ve had. Our ‘spaceship’.” Autumn smiled, giving his hand a careful squeeze, looking up at him with a smile.
Of fucking course Jared had to barge in like he owned the place, right as he and Autumn were making massive strides in rekindling their relationship. Henry saw red the moment that prick laid his hands on her. “You're not going anywhere with her,” he positioned himself between them and the door. Like fuck was Jared leaving in one piece.
Jared turned from Autumn to Henry. “You think you're some tough guy, huh? Why don’t all of you Monaghan's and your brat leave us alone, hm? I could beat your ass anyway, so maybe you should go so you don’t embarrass yourself.” Jared spoke, before being almost nose to nose with him. “I have to take my girlfriend out before I sleep with her, and you're in the way.”
Henry was planning on throwing a punch anyway but hearing his daughter be called a brat might have made him put a little extra pepper to the punch. It caught Jared off-kilter as he'd been hoping, quickly following up with another punch. “She's not going anywhere with you, do you understand?”
Instead of swinging back Jared caught him around the middle, slamming him backwards into the drywall. Safe to say Autumn was about to lose her security deposit. The muscle wasn't all for show it turned out because Jared's following punch managed to break Henry's nose. “I'll have you fucking arrested,” Jared grappled with him.
“Call them, we'll tell them all about your priors you fucking psychopath!” Henry jabbed a punch right to Jared's liver, causing him to buckle over.
The two men went toe to toe with one another. Henry would land a few good punches but Jared would counter with a knee or a kick, and at one point they both toppled over and crushed Autumn's coffee table. Blood was spattered along her furniture and carpet, pouring down Henry's face and Jared's gashed forehead. “Alright enough!” A new voice joined the fight.
In one heave Rowan had Jared pulled off Henry and tossed sideways, pinning him to the floor. “You're done, you hear me? You wanna go down on kidnapping charges? Then shut up and stay put.”
Henry's head was woozy but he liked to think he came out the victor of the fight. Jared looked like death warmed over with already two black eyes blooming and a busted lip to match the cut on his head. It had been years since he'd had his last boxing match and he was feeling the pain in his red and swollen hands. As long as Autumn stayed right there with him, everything would be fine again. “Call the police,” Henry wiped his nose, wincing. “He put his hands on her, I had no choice but to intervene.”
“I'll kill you, you son of a bitch!” Jared wriggled.
Rowan shoved him back down. “What did I just tell you? Autum, call 9-1-1.”
Of course it was the doctors. From what she could tell about Henry, he truly cared about her and would only do what he thought was in her best interest. It was never his decision to leave her in Jared’s care, it wasn’t any of their decisions. She couldn’t tell anyone how wonderful it felt to be hand in hand with Henry. The way he looked at her, she felt like the most important person in the world. She knew that from this moment on, she’d do anything to remember her life with him.
Jared burst in at the worst fucking time, and she was completely sick of him. But, that didn’t mean he wasn’t bigger and stronger than she was. But, Henry, who had an inch or two on Jared, stood up for her the moment that Jared touched her. As Jared approached Henry, Autumn stepped off to the side, nervous to see what would happen between the two. Henry had been so sweet, she could never imagine…
The punch surprised Autumn as much as it surprised Jared, who attempted to retaliate immediately. Henry was shoved into the wall, the wall slightly denting where Henry landed, and soon his nose was broken with another swing. Autumn didn’t want to watch, but she couldn’t stop. Henry was fighting for her, and wouldn’t let Jared get anywhere near Autumn, who was pressed against the door to her bedroom.
Her apartment was wrecked; blood everywhere, furniture toppled over and broken, her wall dented. She knew she was going to spend a pretty penny to get it all fixed, but nothing would compare to the compassion she felt for Henry. The woman’s voice broke her out of her stares at the men fighting in her apartment, Rowan picking Jared up like a sack of potatoes, throwing him off Henry. Autumn’s eyes went wide as she watched Rowan pin him down, not moving until she knew Jared couldn’t move from his pinned position.
Going toward Henry, she took his head in her hands. She looked at him, her eyes full of concern as she looked at his swollen nose, the area turning more purple by the moment. She nodded at Rowan, calling 911, having the police come to report Jared for trespassing and for fighting. “I didn’t fucking break in, you bitch! Stop lying!” Jared yelled from the floor, Rowan pinning him tighter to the floor. “You need to stop talking. Autumn, let me talk to them.” Rowan spoke.
Autumn made her way to Rowan, holding the phone as she held him down. “Hello this is the Assistant Chief of NYC Fire, can I have an officer down here as soon as possible. I know you guys have some information on Jared Fisher and now he has broken into my friend’s apartment and beat up her boyfriend. I need someone here immediately.” Rowan spoke into the phone, frantic talk on the other line agreed, saying someone would be there in just a few minutes.
Autumn reapproached Henry, as Rowan took Jared into the hallway, and led him downstairs to get him as far away from Henry and Autumn as possible. Autumn sat him down on the ground, propped up against the wall, before running to her freezer to find anything to put on his swollen nose and hands. She came back with an ice pack and two bags of frozen veggies, putting the veggies on his hands, while holding the ice pack carefully to his nose. “Are you alright?” she asked softly brushing his hair back from his face. “I didn’t know you could fight like that…” she spoke, her voice soft but a light pink hue appeared on her cheeks. “There is a lot of swelling on your nose.” Autumn spoke, moving the ice pack off before going to the bathroom to grab a washcloth. “This is gonna hurt, but I will try and be careful.” she spoke, before carefully wiping the blood off of his face, his own and Jared’s that was smeared across his nose and cheeks.
“I appreciate you sticking up for me like you did, but next time, please don’t battle royale in my living room, okay?” she teased, before leaning over and pressing a soft kiss to his cheek, making sure not to apply too much pressure to his swollen face. As she pulled back, she leaned in and pressed a kiss to his lips, the feeling was just like she had when she did it a few days ago. She shivered at the feeling, and wanted to pull him in closer but was worried about the pain in his face and nose.
“Do you need me to take you to the hospital or anything?” Rowan said as she reentered the apartment, but coughed when she caught sight of their lips pressed together. “Sorry, am I interrupting something? I didn’t know you guys were back together?”
“It’s complicated, but we’re figuring out our spaceship.”
Henry winced as Autumn held his face. “It's not exactly something I'm proud of but I'm happy if it helps keep you safe in any way,” he murmured. “I haven't fought in years.”
Hurt didn't even begin to describe the pain he felt while she cleaned and iced his nose. Every slight graze ignited a burst of ache he'd long forgotten about. Tears welled in his eyes though he fought them back, not wanting to give Jared a reason to mock him. He'd won the fight but crying in front of her ex was something he'd never live down. Mostly it was just tears from the pain but a little bit was out of relief that it was finally over.
“I'm uh…I'm real sorry about the mess,” he took in the destruction that they had caused. Their landlord was going to be pissed. “I'll fix the drywall and clean the carpets, I promise.”
Rowan's offer of the hospital was tempting but he didn't want to be away from Autumn any longer than he had to be. “Can you set it? You're trained in medical stuff as a firefighter, right?”
“I can set it but without good pain meds it's going to hurt like a bitch.”
“It already hurts like a bitch. Let's just get it over with here.”
Rowan counted down but Henry only tensed up the closer she got to one. It was another few minutes of coaching, and then annoyance before she managed to push his nose as straight as she could. “It doesn't look crooked but it's going to swell even more now with the extra trauma. Probably a good idea if we take Maggie for the night so you don't freak her out with your face. Plus I'm sure you two have a lot to talk about.”
“Just make sure you tell Maggie that she succeeded in fixing our spaceship,” Henry requested.
Once they were alone again, he pulled Autumn in close, not thinking that he might be getting blood on her clothes. “I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that with him. It killed me to let you leave with him but we honestly thought the doctors were right and we needed to let you figure it out on your own. That's why I stormed over there this morning when we found out about his prior record. I wasn't going to put you in danger anymore. I'm also very sorry I saw you naked without your permission."
God it was humiliating to even think about his moment of heroics. All it brought was a major fight and potentially the end of any relationship with her, friendship or romantic. “Do you want to stay at my house tonight? And then I can get this cleaned up first thing in the morning?”
He'd sleep on the couch if it made her more comfortable. After all she still didn't remember their relationship together so sleeping in the same bed might have been pushing it. “Maybe uh…maybe we could get coffee or a lunch date tomorrow? I know you still don't remember much and I don't want to rush you, but it might be nice to just spend time together?”
Autumn had to cover her ears when Rowan set Henry’s nose, as she couldn’t stand the sound of bones popping. She was able to move back next to him once his nose was set, a smile on Autumn’s lips as Henry mentioned to tell Maggie she had fixed their ‘spaceship’. She knew that would forever be part of their story.
Autumn turned to him but before she could react, he had pulled her into him and she was easily able to relax. She listened to his words, wrapping her own arms around him, not concerned about whether or not she was getting blood or anything on her. She could shower, but nothing could ruin this moment for her. She was planning on burning this dress anyway, it was a terrible reminder of Jared and who he was. The only good thing about it was how it made her remember who that monster truly was. She closed her eyes, just relishing his voice and his kind words to her. “You don’t have to apologize. I was too blind to see how I would never choose a man like that to be in my life. And besides, I’m gonna guess that wasn’t the first time you’ve seen me that way. It wasn’t like you were trying to find me that way, it was out of concern for me.”
When he mentioned staying in his place, she smiled. “I’d actually love that.” she spoke. She looked over to her coffee table that was now shattered into pieces. “We also need to get me a new coffee table, hm. I might have to drag you shopping with me as well. But I think coffee and lunch would be nice. I would like to meet the man I am actually in a spaceship with. He’s much nicer, and hopefully won’t wake me at 5 for two hours in the gym.” Autumn smirked, before taking his hand to help him stand up.
“How about you get cleaned up at your place, and I’ll take all of this off and get more comfortable. We can order in something and have a date of our own. I’ll meet you over at your place in a little bit. Okay?” Autumn spoke as she adjusted the dress she was wearing, ready to rid it from her life forever. She pressed a kiss to his cheek, before leading him to the door. “I promise, I’ll be over soon.” she smiled, before closing the door softly behind her.
Rushing into her own room, she threw a quick bag together, luckily she brought her bag from Jared’s home so she’d never have to go back again. She pulled on a simple pair of leggings and a crop top, and actually felt pretty good about how she looked. She knew she probably lost a bit of water weight from not eating anything the last two days, but pushed that from her mind. She knew how Henry felt about her eating and had been working on it, like he mentioned.
Taking off the immense makeup and brushing her hair out from the hairstyle Jared had told her to do, Autumn felt a lot more comfortable. She went to her cabinets and fridge, finding some beers and popcorn stashed away, and thought she could at least provide some snacks.
Autumn headed over, knocking before pushing the door open carefully. She really hadn’t looked at his apartment when she barged in before, but now she had a chance. A gallery wall of pictures of his parents, Maggie, and a few of him and his sister dotted the wall. She found a photo of the two of them sitting on a side table as well, and a smile rose to her lips as she looked at it. Knocking on his bedroom door, the door opened on it’s own before she covered her eyes as he did in her apartment. “I just wanted you to know I was here. I’ll be in the living room.” she spoke, having a feeling she knew this space, even though it felt like the first time seeing it. She sat, feeling cozy the second she did. The complete opposite of Jared’s ‘man-cave’ apartment, and she loved it.
Henry didn't think he ever cleaned as quickly as he did once he was back in his own apartment. He felt awful about the state of Autumn's place but realistically knew that there was nothing they could do nearing eight o'clock on a Saturday evening, so the least he could do was make his home as welcoming and comfortable for her as possible. That included battle number two of the evening with trying to get a fresh duvet cover on in the bedroom with the rest of the clean bedding. He'd sleep on the couch or in Maggie's room if she wanted but there was zero chance she was going to have to sleep in anything but fresh linen.
“Welcome back,” he greeted her when he stepped back into the living room. His hands fidgeted at his sides, unsure of what to do now that they were alone and supposed to be relaxing. “I'm going to be completely honest here, I have no idea what I'm doing right now because I don't want to come on too strong but I'm dying to give you a hug.”
It felt like a first date all over again. Hell, he supposed it was. And what a date it was going to be with his swollen nose and her traumatic experience less than an hour ago. Still, she seemed happier and more at ease already which he was taking as a positive sign. “I see you've brought drinks, excellent choice. I think a little liquid courage is just what we're going to need,” he smiled, shoulders losing some of their tension. “Please tell me I'm not alone in being completely out of my element here. It's been an eventful day and I don't know where to start with tonight.”
He sat a respectable distance away and reached for one of the drinks, relishing in the ice cold beer. They could do this. Everything was on track to being alright. “So Maggie just kind of burst into your place? I'm really sorry about that, I'd say I have no idea where she got it from but I'm ninety percent sure that it's from being around Charlie and Rowan so much. She's a little firecracker.”
Henry was well aware that he was rambling but the buzzing energy in his system refused to let him shut up. Not to mention he wasn't altogether too sorry about Maggie's interference, given how it did serve to fix the broken spaceship. He was going to buy that little girl whatever she wanted the next time they went to a toy store. Hell, maybe even a pony. “How are you doing? Today was…fucked up, to say the least. We'll make sure that Jared stays away this time, I promise.”
Autumn was just as awkward as it seemed Henry felt in this moment. The moment he spoke, her head turned from looking at his apartment to him, and she stood up. For what? She wasn’t sure, but she stared back at him as his hands fidgeted at his sides. Her arms slowly crossed in front of her, rubbing her forearms as she did when she was nervous. His words seemed to relax her a bit, her shoulder’s releasing a bit of tension as he spoke about wanting to give her a hug. She wished she remembered all the things Maggie had shown her in those photos, and remembered how she felt when she looked at him the way she did in those photos. As of right now, she did like Henry. But she only liked him, like a crush. Like a new boy she met in school.
It was nice to see him seem to relax, grabbing a beer herself. “No, I completely agree.” Autumn spoke, cracking open the can and taking a sip. “I probably should start with sorry, for being an asshole and everything. I’ve barged in and berated you for no reason at all. I shouldn’t have done that.” she apologized, taking another sip of beer. She hated that she felt like this, and that she felt like she was in someone else's body, in someone else's life. A life she barely knew anything about.
Autumn couldn’t help but let a chuckle out as he spoke about Maggie. “Yeah. That little lady barged her way in and let me know how much of a meanie I was and that it was my fault you were crying. I didn’t mean to do that, I’m sorry.” she spoke, leaning toward him on the couch. She realized the distance that he had put between them, and took a moment to scoot closer. “I can sit closer to you, right? Is that okay?”
Autumn took another sip from the can as she was asked another thing from Henry. “I’m okay. I’m still a little overwhelmed but okay. Happy to be home instead of at his place. It was like a shine to himself there, the only books he had were just photo albums of himself.” she spoke, slight disgust in her voice as she spoke about Jared’s place. But as she looked around, she smiled, “I like your place. It’s cozy. And you have some nice throw blankets and it feels like home.” she commented.
“Henry…” Autumn spoke, knowing that the conversation right now would be weird, but she would eventually remember everything, right? She really just wanted to fall back into a rhythm and hopefully her memories would come back too. “I just wanted to say that, I know you are supposed to be my boyfriend and everything but I don’t want to be intimate right now. I feel like it wouldn’t be fair to you. But you did mention a hug and that I would be okay with. And a kiss would be fine, I kind of did it first anyway.” she teased. She hoped her request would be better taken by Henry, as Jared was trying to sleep with her the moment she arrived at his apartment.
“Why don’t you tell me about you? Maybe it will jog my memory a bit. We really haven’t been able to just talk, so let’s do that.” Autumn spoke, finding her way right next to him on the couch, her hand placing on top of his by accident first, and she flinched slightly, before putting her hand back down purposely on his.
“I like your place. It’s cozy. And you have some nice throw blankets and it feels like home.” she commented.
Henry twisted around and snatched up his favourite throw - the one she picked at the thrift shop. “You actually helped me pick this out. I use it every night,” he spread it over their laps.
“Henry…I just wanted to say that, I know you are supposed to be my boyfriend and everything but I don’t want to be intimate right now. I feel like it wouldn’t be fair to you. But you did mention a hug and that I would be okay with. And a kiss would be fine, I kind of did it first anyway.”
He went to put his hand on hers but pulled back at the last second, not wanting to give her the wrong idea. “We can take it as slow as we need to,” Henry assured her, his face completely open and honest. “I don't care if I have to spend the rest of my life waiting for it, I'll gladly take as long as you need to make sure you're comfortable. I'm okay even just holding your hand, Autumn, honestly. I'd never expect anything you weren't ready for. You're still healing as well, there's no need to rush into anything we aren't prepared to handle.”
“Why don’t you tell me about you? Maybe it will jog my memory a bit. We really haven’t been able to just talk, so let’s do that,” Autumn took his hand.
Henry settled back against the couch and just enjoyed the feel of her skin against his palm. “About me, huh? Let's see…I'm the better twin of the set, that's clearly a given. I'm the younger one too. My parents are John and Carol, they were here recently actually. You got to meet them before your accident. Things were a bit rocky to start because my mom can be overbearing but it all worked out by the end of their trip. You know I've got a daughter, Maggie. I'm a graphic designer at my sister's company and I moved here about six months ago from Michigan. I used to box when I was in college because I felt completely lost and that was the only way I was able to make a name for myself as Henry, not just ‘Charlotte’s brother'.”
His life wasn't the most entertaining story in the world but Henry put as much detail as he could into reminding her about things that she knew of. “You were the first friend I made here. I'm still struggling to really meet people but you've brought me out of my comfort zone a bit more since knowing each other. You've been the highlight of this entire move. Maggie and I are both absolutely smitten with you.”
Henry wanted to do whatever was in his power to show Autumn just how much he cared without scaring her away by blurting out the ‘L' word too soon…again. “If we get coffee tomorrow, I'd like to take you back to our first date spot,” he rubbed his thumb along her hand. “Not to pressure you or anything. It was just such a happy memory for me, maybe we can make another good memory there. What do you think?”
He was so damn in love with her that if she only wanted to sit on the balcony and talk instead of going on a ‘date’, he'd be just as content. Charlotte said that she'd take Maggie for as long as he needed so they'd have enough time to do anything they pleased. “We'll have to tell the landlord about your apartment but I can get it fixed if I explain to him what happened. I'll buy the supplies and fix it tomorrow if he lets me. It's my fault so I'll take whatever blame he throws our way."
God, could this man get any more perfect?
Autumn rested her head against the couch as she listened to him, her eyes gleamed as if he were the most important thing in the world. A smile formed on her lips, and it would pull whenever he would make a small joke or his words were more playful. She felt so happy, truly, for the first time since she woke up in the hospital. Just being here with him, the fact that he made sure she knew she was acknowledged, even just by his thumb running across his hand.
It felt nice to know more about him, especially because she felt bad that everything she had learned about him since he moved here she didn’t remember. “Me? I’m the highlight? I’m flattered but I don’t think I could really be that great.” Autumn brushed him off slightly, but moved on as he spoke about getting coffee the next day. The fact that he had remembered their first date spot was nice, and that he wanted to bring her back to spots that would regain her memories. How did she ever think Jared was her boyfriend when he did nothing like that for her?
“I would love that. If it was our first date, it’s gotta have good memories tied to it.” Autumn smiled, loving that he included there was no pressure. Even though Henry told her there was no pressure, as she was still a bit unnerved by the way that Jared had acted. But she knew, after watching him protect her from Jared, that Henry was nothing like him and would do anything for the people he cared about. And she happens to be one of them.
Autumn smirked as he brought up the landlord and the wall. “I hope he’s not too mad about it.” she spoke, before meeting his eyes. “Look, I feel like I never was able to properly say thank you for what you did back there.” Autumn spoke, tightening her grip on his hand. “So, really, thank you so much Henry. If you weren’t there, I don’t think I would have been able to stick up for myself. So, really, thank you so much.” she smiled, taking her hand from his, before shifting her body to be next to his, before leaning some of her body weight against him. His warmth calmed her more than his apartment already did. She looked up to him, their faces inches away, “I hope this is alright, I can move if you want me to.”
A yawn escaped her lips as Autumn got comfortable next to Henry. The day had been long, and she was exhausted after everything. Her eyes fluttered a few times, before she sat up a bit more, trying to keep her eyes open instead of becoming too comfortable. Autumn looked around, trying to find something she could do to keep herself awake for at least a little longer. She turned, seeing the balcony door nearby. “Can we go outside? I want to look at the stars and the moon, if we can see it.”
Autumn got up from the couch, taking Henry’s hand as they walked to the balcony. The cool breeze hit her as the two of them, and Autumn made her way to the railing. She leaned a bit, looking up to see if she could see the moon and the stars. There were barely any stars, the light of NYC was too bright for stars to show. But she did see the moon, and that was nice at least. It made her feel calm as well, must have been something from childhood that she couldn’t remember at the moment.
“Did Michigan have a lot of stars?” Autumn asked, leaning against the male again. “What is Michigan like? Is it really different from the city?” she asked looking up slightly, her body leaning against his chest, her hand finding his to take in her own hand.
If Autumn really wanted to spend her evening on the balcony watching what they could of the stars, then Henry would gladly accept all of the mosquito bites to make it happen. It was hard to see through the light pollution of New York City but they could just make out the brighter stars if they looked hard enough. “We lived near Kalamazoo so we were still pretty close to the city but we could see tons more stars than here. My hometown isn't super big and everyone knows everyone's business so it's pretty different than here but it's kind of nice knowing that you have neighbours you can count on if you're in trouble. It's a lot less hectic, too. Everyone here is in a hurry but everyone back home goes at a turtle's pace."
The night was fairly mild but she warmed him right up where she was leaning against him. Henry slipped an arm around her shoulders to return the favour, savouring that they were getting to do this again. Everything had almost collapsed around them but they dug their way through and came right back together. “Seeing meteor showers in person is breathtaking. I’ll have to take you out of the city and into the country for some real stargazing. A little road trip out to the country, just you and I. We can get away from the city and recuperate in the fresh air without the hustle and bustle of New York. Maggie can stay with Charlotte for a girls weekend, she’d love it. What do you think?”
He wasn’t necessarily thinking of camping but at the very least there had to be cabins somewhere in upstate New York where they could lodge for a long weekend. Maybe even horseback riding! Henry hadn’t been since he was a kid, he’d love the chance to get to ride again. Not only that but a romantic trail ride just the two of them sounded like a Hallmark movie moment waiting to happen.
Thoughts completely elsewhere, Henry pressed a kiss to her temple like it was second nature. “I’m sorry,” he let his arm slip off. “I didn’t mean to do that, I was distracted. It won’t happen again. At least not until we’ve had our first date re-do.”
Right, the coffee shop. Henry even debated taking her back to the thrift store for some fun afterwards but given how emotional the two of them might be just re-tracing their footsteps, he wasn’t sure it was a good idea just yet. Besides, who knew when or if they would be up for continuing the date after coffee? Oh god, what if she decided she didn’t want to continue the date? What if she hated it? What if after the adrenaline and shock of the night’s events left her system she was still angry with him and didn’t want to be around him?
“This isn’t temporary, is it?” he voiced his concerns. “I mean…I’m not going to wake up tomorrow and you’ll be ready to cut ties with me? I don’t know if I could handle that a second time in twenty-four hours. A man is only so strong,” he tried to play it off with a laugh.
Autumn could stay like this with Henry forever. Feeling his arm snake around her shoulders, his warmth causing goose bumps along her arms was her best feeling in the world at that moment. She could have listened to him speak about Michigan for hours. She was pulled out of her completely relaxed state when he mentioned a trip. Just the two of them out in the country. From what she could remember, she had never been out of the city in her life. All the stars she could imagine, clean fresh air, and just time away from New York City. She looked up to him, a smile on her lips. “That sounds amazing.”
Autumn’s mind immediately wondered what kinds of things you would do in the country. In the city, there was always something to do. Broadway shows, millions of restaurants and tourist attractions to fill time; there was truly never a dull moment. But…what did people do in the woods? She would have to make sure she packed a book or something, knowing her mind might race a bit being away. She rested against him once more, looking out to the lights of the city, releasing a deep breath and she closed her eyes for just a moment.
The brunette’s eyes shot open when she felt his lips press against her temple, and an apology right after. She took a step away as he moved his arm from her shoulders, rubbing her now clammy hands on her thighs. The kiss didn’t bother her, she just knew how awkward they both felt about the situation they were currently in. She was starting to get memories back slowly, but she had no memory of Henry or their (current?) relationship. “Y-you…it’s alright,” she swallowed hard, “Our date re-do. Right.”
Without her memories, all Autumn’s mind could do was race. And now, it was racing with all of the thoughts about their first date. Sure, it was just coffee and wasn’t anything fancy, but Autumn did want to impress Henry, at least a little bit. Maybe a cute outfit or something simple, just to make it feel like a real date. She didn’t have to worry this much about a coffee date, it was simple.
Autumn’s head turned to face him quickly as he questioned her if this was temporary. It wasn’t a bad question. She wished she could give him an honest answer, but she didn’t know. She didn’t know when her memories would return, and if they would reveal something to her like they did about Jared. Right now, she adored the male and had no doubts that she wanted to continue their relationship. But…she couldn’t tell the future.
Autumn took Henry’s hand to bring him inside, needing the noises of the city to be gone so she could focus. “Henry…” she spoke, letting go of his hand as she sat on the arm of the couch. “Right now, I have no doubt that we will be able to continue where we left off in our relationship once my memories return. But I don’t know where we were. My memories revealed my true feelings about Jared, and I don’t know what my memories could reveal about you. We need to take this one day at a time…okay?” she spoke. She stood, walking right up to Henry, their bodies almost pressed against each other. “I have loved nothing more these past few days getting to know you. I believe that we will be fine, I trust you completely. Besides, I think Maggie would have to come in and yell at me again if anything happened. And I’d like to avoid being on the bad side of that little girl.” Autumn’s lips curled into a smile, a small laugh breaking out as she rested her head on Henry’s chest. She let her hands wrap around his torso, a smile resting on her lips.
“I’m getting tired. You’re going to stay with me, right?” Autumn asked, looking up at him, her arms still wrapped around him. After the day she had, she didn’t want to be alone at all. “I mean…if you’re okay with it. We can put pillows between us if that makes you feel better. But I wouldn’t be opposed to a bit of cuddling.” she smiled, taking his hand as she led him into his bedroom.
Even though she hadn’t been in his room before, Autumn felt like she knew this room. It was so familiar, yet completely new to her. Autumn found her way into the covers, before patting the spot next to her. She shimmied her way under the covers, turning over to look at Henry. A small yawn escaped her lips, her eyes a bit hooded. “I’ll try to stay up at least a little bit, I don’t know how long I’ll be able to last.”
This was the moment he was dreading. Bedtime. But instead of being adamant that he was to sleep on the couch, Autumn was…inviting him? Her hand burned his skin where she held tightly and he was more than willing to follow her to his bedroom. “I don't think a wall of pillows will be necessary,” his voice cracked slightly. “I've been more or less looking forward to the chance to hold you again. That's as far as I'll go tonight, I promise.”
Henry even disappeared into the bathroom to change in private. If she was as on-edge as he was, the last thing he wanted to do was tempt her with a show of half-nakedness. “You don't have to stay awake,” he assured her while sliding into the bed. “It's been an exhausting few days. You've been running on high alert since you left the hospital, the least I can do is promise that you're safe and can let your guard down to sleep.”
Adjusting the pillow behind him, he raised an arm to gently pull her closer so she could rest her head on his chest. “Goodnight, Autumn.”
Had it not been for the sheer relief that she was finding her way back to him, it would have been the best sleep Henry had ever had. As it was, he spent half the night waiting for the hammering on his door of Jared coming to look for her. Autumn was tucked against his side as close as they could get to one another, but it still worried him that if he even so much as got up for a glass of water, when he returned she would be gone all over again. So, he stayed right where he was in that annoying state of limbo where true sleep was just out of reach.
By sunrise he slipped back out of the bed and padded to the kitchen. Coffee would do the trick. Eagerness bubbled up in his chest at the thought of their date later on. Henry felt like a kid on Christmas. Had it not been six o'clock in the morning, he might have even gone in to wake Autumn up for an earlier start to their day. The only thing stopping him was her potentially cancelling the date for waking her up before the sun was fully in the sky. Mind keeping the little monster for the day? he texted Charlotte.
Will do, little brother.
Why are you awake at such an ungodly hour?
Quickie with Rowan before work.
I regret opening this conversation and talking to you.
Henry had the decency to sit on the balcony and scroll his phone until a much more reasonable hour before waking her up. “I've got coffee and toast, if you're hungry,” he sat beside her on the bed, hand rubbing circles on her back while she blinked away the sleep.
“I've missed this,” he murmured, tucking a lock of hair away from her face. “This is my favourite version of you. All adorable and sleepy with bedhead.”
Autumn smiled a sleepy smile to him as he spoke, just wanting her to relax and not have to worry about anything bad happening to her. She had been so stressed since she woke up in the hospital, and he was giving her what she had wanted all along. Rest. And safe, uninterrupted rest at that. She watched as he readjusted himself, and she moved to rest her head on his chest. Everything about Henry caused her body to immediately relax, the sound of his heartbeat putting her to sleep. “Goodnight to you t-” she spoke slowly, not even finishing her sentence before she was asleep.
That night, Autumn didn’t dream. Instead, the memories she had played back like a movie. Everything from her actual first date with Jared, moving into her apartment, the day she fell and hit her head. Her face scrunched as she was sleeping, until she started getting the good memories. Dancing on stage, her time at Ballet school as a child, and the past day with Henry which transformed her uncomfortable face with a smile. She began to wake as she felt a soft hand rubbing her back, her eyes fluttering open as Henry’s words flooded her ears.
Autumn rubbed her eyes from the first real night’s sleep since before her accident. She sat up a bit, a smile on her lips. “I’d love some coffee and toast, actually. I don’t remember the last time I ate actually.” she spoke, remembering her half eaten salad Jared had thrown away being the last thing she really ate. She felt Henry’s hand push back a piece of her hair, a small blush rising to her cheeks at his gesture and compliments. A bit embarrassed about her bedhead, she did use her hands to comb through her hair slightly.
The brunette pushed herself to fully sit, crossing her legs as she stretched her arms over her head, pushing back some hair from her face as her arms came back down. “Do you have anything you need to do today? I don’t want you to worry about me so much you aren’t getting what needs to be done, done.” Autumn attempted to brush off the fact of how helpless she really was without her memories. At this point, she couldn’t work, she could barely leave home without getting lost, and now she was out of a phone because Jared and Henry’s fight caused it to shatter into pieces. “Maybe if I get a new phone we’ll both feel better. My last one isn’t functional anymore. It’s in the glass pile that was my coffee table.” she teased. She would never be mad at Henry for what happened, he had protected her more than she could have ever asked for.
Autumn pushed herself out of bed, talking Henry’s hand as she walked to the kitchen to the smell of coffee and perfectly done toast. She grabbed a piece of toast, before pouring herself a cup of coffee. “Do you have any caramel? Since you gave me that caramel coffee right after the hospital, it’s all I’ve been thinking about.” she laughed, before taking a bite of her toast.
“So…” Autumn spoke, sitting up on his counter and leaned over toward Henry. “When are we going out on our date?” she said sing-songy. She enjoyed being flirty and being able to smile truthfully.
“The only thing I have to do today is spend as much time with you as I can. I already spoke with my sister, she's going to keep Maggie for the day and bring her home later. So, you have the better Monaghan twin all to yourself. I wonder what you can do with him,” he teased, taking a sip of coffee.
“Maybe if I get a new phone we’ll both feel better. My last one isn’t functional anymore. It’s in the glass pile that was my coffee table," she teased.
Henry winced. “I'll get you a new one. Phone and table. You're right, I'd feel more secure if you had a cell on you at all times in case of any danger when I'm not around."
It was reassuring to have her there with him to see physically for himself that she was okay, but that was unrealistic to expect all the time. Autumn was going to have to have her space too, and she would eventually return to work. They couldn't be glued at the hip. At least with a phone they could update one another throughout the day. “We can pick you one up today,” he slid the bottle of caramel coffee syrup over to her. “The sooner, the better I think.”
“So…” Autumn spoke, sitting up on his counter and leaned over toward Henry. “When are we going out on our date?” she said sing-songy.
Henry grinned, fluffing his hair into more of a mess than it already was. ‘Why? Getting excited?" he flirted right back. “Careful or I might think you’re getting attached to me. Then again, I'd welcome that with open arms.”
Truth be told, he didn't want to wait any longer for their date than they needed to. If they got ready after finishing their coffee they could have enough time to swing by the thrift store after the cafe. The perfect recreation of their first date together. Well, their unofficial first date. “How about once we're done breakfast we'll get ready to go? As much as I don't mind this coffee, I think you'll enjoy this cafe much better than Folgers.”
Henry picked out the exact outfit he wore the first time around. It was simple but sentimental. He wished he had enough time to run out and get flowers but she still had the bouquet he'd gotten her a few days ago so he'd improvise with something else while they were out. “Shall we?” he offered his arm with a smile when he collected her at her doorstep.
It was impossible since they were in New York City but he could swear the air even smelled cleaner as they walked down the street. Henry was bursting at the seams with excitement. There was something fun growing out of the challenge to make Autumn fall in love with him all over again. Not many people got to experience that feeling with the loves of their lives. He just wished it wasn't the result of trauma she'd experienced. The butterflies grew more intense when the cafe came into view.
“Alright when we get inside, I'll grab the drinks and you go grab us a table on the balcony. This place is amazing, you're going to love it!”
It felt just as welcoming as when Autumn had introduced him to it. The aroma of coffee mixed with the buttery pastries, teasing the senses while people waited in line to order. Henry bounced on his heels, waiting for his two iced coffees to be ready while sneaking glances up to the balcony trying to catch a glimpse of Autumn. Every footstep on the stairs felt like it took ages until he reached the top, beaming when he realized she'd picked the exact table from their first date.
Autumn smiled grew two sizes when Henry mentioned starting their date after breakfast, which caused her to shove the rest of the piece of toast she had into her mouth, before rushing out of his front door into her own apartment, shooting him a wink before she disappeared. She was able to avoid the glass on the floor as she went into her room, grabbing a simple floral sundress. If this was a first date re-do, I might as well dress up a little bit. She kept her hair down and simple, along with a minimal amount of makeup. He had arrived at her doorstep almost the minute she was ready to go. Opening the door, her smile was back quickly as she took his arm and the two were off.
The two were able to navigate the streets of New York with only a little bit of difficulty. The foot traffic, along with the two both not truly knowing the directions, but they were able to find their way through the Big Apple. Approaching the cafe, Autumn could feel a huge sense of déjà vu. This place felt comforting and relaxing to her, somewhere she had been many times before. As soon as Henry left to get their coffee and sent her to get a table, she could feel the headache set into her temple.
The stairs were a workout, along with the growing headache she was experiencing. She had to stop half-way, grabbing the wall and her head to try and stop the pain. She was able to push herself, getting up to the top of the stairs and looking up over the entire cafe. As she did, every memory of her life that had been non-existent just moments ago flooded her mind. Henry, ballet, Maggie, Rowan and Charlotte, his parents visit, their first visit to this very cafe.
Autumn’s hand flew to her mouth as she wanted to cry, she was so happy to feel like herself again. Even though her head was still pounding, she was so overwhelmed with joy she didn’t mind it too much. She pushed her happy tears away, before finding the table the two sat at on their very first date. She couldn’t help but smile as she saw Henry getting them coffee, her love from watching him do whatever he could to help her kept her smile bright on her lips.
Autumn was ecstatic to tell Henry she remembered everything now. As she saw him have the coffee and leave to find her upstairs, she was practically vibrating in her seat. As Autumn felt Henry near the table, she turned her head, her smile brighter than it had been all day. Her eyes had a certain gleam in them, a very familiar gleam. The thing that had been lost since her accident.
As Henry placed the coffees down, Autumn couldn’t help herself and stood up, wrapping her arms tightly around the man’s shoulders. Fuck, she was so in love and needed to be as close to the man she had forgotten all about until about 10 minutes ago. She pulled back, keeping her arms wrapped around him, but just enough to see his face. “God damn, I love you.” she spoke, hoping her words would be enough for him to understand what she was really telling him.
Autumn was back.
“God damn, I love you.”
Henry laughed, hugging her back. “It's just coffee but I'll take it.”
Realization didn't dawn on him until she pulled back and he saw the shine in her eyes. Wait- “Are you…”
Emotions surged up in his chest and came bubbling out in a massive embrace, spinning her around as he held her tightly. “You remembered!”
All eyes were turning to stare but he couldn't bring himself to care one ounce. “She remembered! Holy fuck, she remembered!”
“There are kids in here, asshole, watch your language!”
Henry placed a hand on either side of her face and pulled her in for a kiss. It was a movie magic moment, and everything that Hallmark movies were written to be. “None of that in here! Take it somewhere else!”
Getting kicked out of their favourite cafe hadn't been on the list of plans for the day but he was happier than he could remember being in the last week. Well, happier than he had been since she got injured. “Come on,” he grabbed their coffees, handing hers off so he could slide his free hand into hers.
Out on the street he lasted all of thirty seconds before he found himself kissing her again. “I've been going crazy trying to be patient but I missed you so fucking much,” he murmured against her lips. “Holy fuck am I glad that you're back. I was ready to spend the rest of my life trying to help you remember. Notebook-style.”
Henry pulled back to look at her, puppy eyes taking over and staring like a lovesick fool. Which he was, and he was proud to admit it. “I love you, Autumn. More than I thought was possible for me to feel. I know that this is fast and I'm not saying this out of guilt but I'd like for you to stay with me while we get your apartment fixed. I don't want to be apart from you any more than I have to be. Especially now that I just got you back. I'm afraid if I look away or leave a room you're going to be gone all over again.”
He already knew that Maggie would be ecstatic to have Autumn stay over. The little girl would plan nonstop movie nights with her, carefully selecting stuffies for them each to hold as they work their way through her Disney collection. “I'm torn between wanting to go for a walk with you and wanting to get you back to the apartment to show you just how much I've missed you,” he grinned.
Autumn knew at the beginning that Henry didn’t immediately understand what she meant. But once their eyes met, she could see the lightbulb go off in his eyes. Her smile grew even larger as he picked her up, spinning her around in the middle of the cafe. She could help but laugh as he spun her, before yelling to everyone about how she remembered. Before she could even think, his hands pulled her face to his, letting herself melt into the kiss with Henry. She loved kissing Henry and having her memories back made this kiss so much better. That is, until they were kicked out of the cafe. At least it was only for today, unless they ‘pulled that shit again in the cafe’. At this point, Autumn couldn’t care less.
Once they were on the street once more, it only took a minute before they were kissing again. Losing her memory was one of the hardest things Autumn had ever been through, but having everything back felt absolutely amazing. She let one hand rest on one side of Henry’s face as they kissed, moving them to the side of the building so they wouldn’t be in the way of the foot traffic she knew so well. “I’m so glad to be back. Thank you for taking such good care of me and making sure I was safe.” she smiled, looking at Henry with such admiration in her eyes.
“I love you too, Hen.” Autumn was a bit surprised when Henry offered for her to stay at his place until her apartment was fixed. “Are you sure, Henry? I don’t want to be a burden to you.” Autumn spoke, but the more he explained it the better she felt about it. And how long would it really take to fix the drywall? It would only be a week or so, and she wouldn’t be too much of an intruder in his apartment. And it would be nice to give Maggie some extra attention now that she remembered her and was in a good place with her dad. “Okay, if you’re sure.”
When Henry mentioned his two ideas, Autumn couldn’t help but let her eyes narrow a bit. “I have quite a few ideas of what I’d like to do to show you how much I missed you and how thankful I am.” Autumn spoke, taking Henry’s hand and directing him back to their apartment. She finished about half of her coffee on the walk back, the two just being able to talk about nothing, how they had always been able to do since they met. Autumn and Henry never had an awkward moment between them, for the most part. They had always been comfortable around each other.
Once inside Henry’s apartment, Autumn shut the door behind her and pushed him straight to his bedroom. “Go sit on the bed, love.” She went immediately to where the lighter for the candles was, lighting up the candles that rested on his dresser. The lights were dimmed and not long after, Autumn pulled her dress off over her head, before climbing onto a seated Henry. “Thank you so much, Henry.” she spoke softly, leaning down to kiss his lips.
After Autumn and Henry reminded each other how much they missed and loved each other, Autumn rested her head on his shoulder as they covered their bodies with the duvet. “Henry! Henry, where are you?” Charlotte spoke from his entryway, Autumn softly cursing that she didn’t lock the front door when they came in. “I wanted to check on you, how’s Autumn do--HENRY WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!” Charlotte spoke, pushing open the door to see very clearly what happened between the two.
“You know she doesn’t remember anything! You can’t do shit like this while she is still healing!! Get the fuck out of that bed right now! Autumn, I am so sorry Henry crossed this line with you.” Charlie spoke as she entered the room, demanding Henry get out of the bed. Autumn pulled the duvet over her head, her face flushed with embarrassment. Thank god it was only Charlotte, and not Maggie or Rowan as well.
“Charlie, it’s okay. I got my memories back. I remember.” Autumn spoke front under the duvet. Charlotte’s lips curled into a smile, hitting Henry in the chest. “Why didn’t you tell me?” the other Monaghan twin exclaimed, crawling up on the bed to hug her friend. Autumn pulled the duvet up to cover herself as Charlotte came up to hug her. “Hen, why didn’t you tell me?” Charlotte spoke, getting herself comfortable on the bed.
Nothing causes an instant buzzkill like your sibling bursting in on you and your partner post-intimacy. “Why the hell would I tell you when it literally happened about five minutes before we…did things!”
Charlotte had zero concept of tact sometimes, and this was one of those moments. “There are about a dozen other things I'd be doing right now than having this conversation with you while standing in my underwear. You're literally in my bed damnit!”
“Please, I've seen you in less.”
“When we were literal children, Charlie!”
“Why are you getting upset? This is good news, Autumn is back!”
“I can't deal with you right now. This is my nightmare come to life. Remind me to cockblock you the next time Rowan gets frisky,” Henry groaned, leaving the room to get coffee.
“No one under the age of sixty uses the term ‘getting frisky’ anymore, Hen!” she called after him.
Settling deeper into the blanket and pillows, Charlotte flopped on her side to prop her head up on her hand. “Okay, you need to spill. What the absolute hell, Autumn! You remembered? Did something spark it? Oh god, did doing it spark your memories? If that's the case, I don't think we can continue this conversation.”
Henry returned with a bathrobe on, leaning against the doorway with a mug in hand. “We weren't going to continue this conversation in the first place. Do you have a reason for being here?”
“You've been dodging my calls all day, I wanted to check to make sure you weren't in the midst of another panic attack or something. So sue me for being a worried big sister.”
His eyes rolled. “Autumn, aren't you delighted that you now get to remember what a real pain in the ass my sister is? I bet you missed her invasive questions and lack of personal space. Wait a second, where's my daughter?”
“Relax, Rowan is watching her.”
“Believe it or not, that does very little to actually reassure me. What if they're starting a fire somewhere?”
“Rowan's a literal firefighter, they'll be fine. Stop, drop, and roll, and all that mess.”
Putting his mug down on his dresser, Henry crossed the room and grabbed Charlie by the ankles, dragging her to the edge of the bed until he could lift her over his shoulder in a fireman carry. 'Time to go, Charlotte. Go and rescue my kid from your terrifying girlfriend. Thanks for stopping by, now go."
Ducking his head back in the room, he pointed his free hand at Autumn. “Don't you move, I'll be right back!”
“EW, don't flirt while you're throwing me out!”
One door slam later, the apartment was peaceful once again. “Remind me to put another five locks on that door to make sure no one can get in,” he stripped the robe back off to climb back into bed beside her. “I'm getting real tired of being interrupted when I'm making out with you,” his boyish grin flashed nothing but mischief. “I think we were just at the part where we stay in this bed all day and ignore the rest of the world. What do you say?”
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