Head over heels
No time to think
The whole world's out of sync
Been running so hard
When what I need is to unwind
The voice of reason
Is one I left so far behind
I waited so long
So long to play this part
And just remembered
That I'd forgotten about my heart
"You know the whole point of having a security force," he muttered as shook the loose snow off his overcoat, "is so that they handle this kind of bullshit and you don't have to." Todd glanced up at the young man in uniform as he held the door open for him to enter. "Did someone forget to tell you that part of the job?"
"No sir, I didn't ... I just ..." He hesitated and glanced back towards the office. "I just wasn't really sure how you'd want to handle this one."
"It's pretty straight forward. Someone breaks into the building and gets caught trying to get into one of the offices, especially my office ... You could have waited to call me after the cops hauled them off."
"I know ... I know that's normally the way I would have handled it, but this is ..."
"Are you gonna tell me what's going on or are we gonna sit here and have a coffee clatch?"
"I just thought you might want to handle this one personally. She's in there." He pointed to the small vacant office down the hall.
"You just left her in there by herself? You have no idea what she might be doing or ..."
"I really don't think you need to worry about that. Why don't you just ..."
He was already half way down the hall as the words rang out through the spacious room. Todd looked back over his shoulder as he stood in front of the door. "You might want to spend the rest of tonight polishing up your resume. You're gonna be looking for a new line of work." He watched as the young man's shoulders rose and feel with a deep sigh. "Idiot," he muttered before pulling the door open.
She at the small table in the corner, her back to the door. He could see the light of some sort of device reflecting around her. 'Wonder where she stole that?' he thought to himself as he stepped farther into the room.
"Anything you want to tell me before I call the police?" He watched as her entire body froze, his voice obviously triggering something in her. Her hand moved to her face and he studied the tremble of her fingertips as she brushed something away. For a moment, he felt a wave of dread. He'd walked into this room completely unprepared for what he might find. She could have a gun. What if she did? What would he do? Where would he ... And then all thoughts vanished.
"Kelly?" The word came out in an almost spurt of laughter, a mixture of relief and absurdity. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Her cheeks burned with rage, shame, and any number of other emotions that churned inside of her. "I ..." She stopped. Explaining anything to Todd would be completely pointless. He didn't understand. He couldn't. And even if he did, he wouldn't care. He had no feelings, at least no discernable ones she'd ever been able to see. "Does it matter?"
"Well, you can tell me or you can tell the cops?" He half smiled as he walked over towards her.
"You're gonna call the cops?"
"That's generally what people do when their offices are broken into."
"That's not what I was doing ... I mean, not because I was ..." She felt her insides begin to churn again. "I didn't break in here because I was going to ..."
"Let me guess, one of those damn Buchanans asked you to come here and look for something and like the good little soldier you are, you fell right back in line. You know, Kelly you really are a disappointment. I would have expected better of you. You used to be a free spirit. You were your own person. Weird as hell for sure, but you weren't one of the minions. Now, look at you. They've turned you into one of their goons."
"This isn't about the Buchanans. They didn't ask me to come. They wouldn't do that." She huffed as she watched his eyes roll dramatically. "I'm telling you the truth, Todd. Believe it or don't, your choice."
"Why wouldn't I believe the woman that just hijacked her way into my offices?"
"If you're not going to listen to me then why they hell am I wasting my time talking to you?" She moved to walk past him and felt his hand reach around her arm.
"In case you've forgotten," he said with a smug grin, "I could still call the cops and have you hauled out of here in handcuffs."
The threat was almost funny as the words rang out inside her head, the truth of her alternatives suddenly settling within her. "Go ahead. It's probably the lesser of the evils anyway. Go ahead and call the police. Let them lock me up. Jail or somewhere else, what's the damn difference?"
The words were so strange that they left him standing silent and almost unaware of the fact that she'd walked right past him and into the hallway. "Kelly!" He walked quickly behind her. "Wait a minute! You can't just ..." He stopped and watched as she walked into his now open office door and took a seat on the sofa inside. "What are you doing?" he asked, completely miffed by her actions.
"I thought you said you were calling the cops," she shrugged. "I figured I might as well wait in here for them."
"Well I ..." He shook his head, allowing the jumbled thoughts inside his head a physical attempt at an adjustment. "I can wait until you ... You never did say exactly what you came here for."
"It doesn't matter."
He could hear the ever so slight crack in her voice and her eyes bore the unmistakable sheen of unshed tears. Kelly was a bit of an enigma. For Blair she'd been a rival, at times a sworn enemy, but not for him. For him, Kelly had been equal parts amusing, entertaining, and intriguing. There was something almost charming about her ability to turn the entire town on its head with a plastic pink jacket and enough hair spray to single handedly destroy the ozone layer. And later, as she demolished the Buchanan family, bedding both brothers and leaving a wake of destruction in her path, he'd felt something akin to admiration for her moxy. Still, he'd never really felt like he had any idea who or what she really was.
Looking at her now, he could still remember all of those things ... Maybe even spot little glimpses of them. The wild, unencumbered girl that burst into Llanview would certainly have had no problem breaking into The Sun for any number of reasons, even for kicks probably. The Kelly left broken hearts in her wake had no doubt cried many tears. But the Kelly he saw tonight was different. He could see something else entirely ... something he might even recognize. Something almost broken.
"Maybe it does matter. Why don't you tell me?"
She scoffed. "You don't give a damn, Todd. Don't sit here and act like you do. I know you better than that, remember. I've seen your movie. I know the kind of person you are. You don't care about anyone but yourself."
The words were like a slap in the face. "You know what, Kelly? You're right. You do know me. You know all about me. You've seen all the terrible things I've done. What was I thinking? Why don't I just make the phone call and press charges and have you thrown in jail. I have no heart. No soul."
He saw her flinch as he stood to his feet and stormed across the room. The sound of her slightly shaky breath made him clench his teeth. He hated that sound. He had that effect on people.
"My mother's dead."
He turned around slowly as she said the words. Her eyes were wide and earnest as they stared up at him. His steps were slow as he moved back towards the sofa and lowered himself down beside her. He nodded. "I know," he said softly. "I came to the church, remember?"
She shook her head. "I know, but ... I went to the clinic to collect her things and there were ..." Her eyes closed at the memory, the horrible realization that had put all of this in motion now replaying over and over in her head. She felt the sting of tears rushing back to her eyes. Her body flinched as she felt the unexpected touch of his hand.
"What?" His voice was soft, almost unnaturally as he looked at her.
She swallowed hard as she tried to blink back the tears. "There was a reporter there and he'd been talking to the nurses and some of the patients and I tried to stop him but he rushed out of there before I could …" She sighed heavily. "One of the orderlies told me he was from The Sun, so …" The look of confusion on his face gave her a small surge of relief. At least he hadn't known about this. At least it hadn't been his idea to send a vulture out at the first hint of a salacious story. "I know how this goes," she said sadly, "And I could only imagine what the headline was going to be so I thought maybe if I could come in and stop it before it hit the presses then …"
It was stupid. It was shortsighted and if she'd given herself even a few minutes to think it through, she would have figured that out, but she hadn't been thinking at all. She'd been feeling the same empty, hopeless feeling she'd felt since the moment she'd gotten the call. Her entire life, she'd felt as if she'd somehow been on the outside. No matter how many people promised her that she was a part of the family, no matter how many people promised her that she was loved, she still knew she didn't have what most normal people have. She didn't have a family, a real family, a mother and a father and a home. Her mother was crazy and her father was God knows where and now her mother was gone. Forever.
"Why didn't you just call me and tell me what was going on?"
"Pfft." She ran her hand through her hair and tucked it behind her ear. Her back fell against the sofa as she breathed out heavily. "Do I have a sign on my back that reads kick me? I know how you operate. I know that you're not about to do anything that doesn't benefit you and this would be a way to get a good shot in at …"
"At who? At you? Why do you think I want to hurt you?"
"Because I'm a Cramer. Because doing this would royally piss off Kevin and Joey and nothing pleases you more than that …"
"Kelly." He sighed as he stood up and walked over to the desk. "I didn't know anything about this if that's what you're thinking …"
She let her head tilt a bit to the side. "It crossed my mind," she admitted. "But honestly, when I read the headline, I thought you'd have a little more creativity than this …" She reached into her bag and pulled out a stack of notes.
He couldn't help but smile as he saw the slight hint of victory in her eyes. "So you found it?"
"Well, if I was going to go to jail," she scoffed, "I wanted it to be for a reason." Her eyes settled on the printed words on the top of the page. The sickening feeling raged inside her again. "Crazy Cramer Checks Out. Padded Room Not so Protected?" She looked up at him and again and let the paper fall back into her lap. "Not exactly award winning stuff, is it?"
"It's uh … It's …"
"It's gross, Todd. It's completely and totally disgusting, and it makes a mockery of my mother's death and the investigation and …" She could feel the tears as they spilled out of her eyes despite her best efforts to maintain her composure. "I shouldn't have to deal with this right now. It's bad enough that …"
"Alright. Alright. You gotta stop that. Come on. Please. You don't need to cry like that. That's not you, right? The Kelly I know is all dance parties and fur boas. Come on."
She took a tissue from the box he thrust at her. "Sorry to disappoint you," she sniffled. "That Kelly is long gone. Pretty much every memory I have of my mother involves her being in a hospital or needing to be in a hospital. She was about the age I am now when this all started and I can't help thinking … My Aunt Addie, my mom … I …"
"Dorian isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for sanity either." He saw the stunned look on her face. "Sorry," he said quickly. "Dorian's great."
"I just …" She dabbed at her face once more. "Isn't that the way things work? Nature vs nurture or something like that? Well, I'm screwed either way. My mother's a nutcase and my childhood was a disaster so …"
"Alright, I can see you're not going to make this easy on me. Just wait here? Okay?"
"What are you doing?" She eyed him cautiously. "Where are you going?"
"Just wait. I'll be back."
Her eyes showed her surprise as she took the scotch from his hand.
"What?" he said as he settled down next to her on the sofa and took a small drink from his own glass.
"Honestly, I thought you were probably calling the police," she admitted.
"I was sending the security guys home," he answered. "And getting a couple of menus from the breakroom. I'm guessing since you were busy planning your felonious event, you probably didn't have a chance to have dinner tonight."
"You want me to have dinner with you?"
"Well don't make it sound so appealing?"
His words actually made her feel a bit guilty. She imagined this was his version of being sympathetic if he was indeed capable. "Sorry, I just … I'm surprised. I'm not used to see you be …"
"Nice?" He shrugged. "It's been known to happen. On occasion. In the first month of the year when the full moon rises in the night sky and the white wolf howls it's …"
"Alright, Alright. You're made your point. I'm sorry I didn't give you any credit. You're actually being very …" She searched her mind for the right words. "Human tonight."
"I feel like I should write that down or something."
"You might want to. It's probably the best compliment you'll get from me for a while." She gestured towards the menus in his hand. "You gonna let me look at those or have you already ordered for me?"
"You think I'm one of those? Is that what you like? Is that what the Buchanan men do?"
"Stop it," she said succinctly. "You don't need to do that. You don't always have to be nasty and sarcastic."
"It's what I do," he said, his voice actually earnest. "You know, you're not the only one who saw a lot of crap when they were growing up. And maybe it does mess us up, maybe it does make us a little damaged, but maybe it also makes us stronger. It's harder to shake someone that already been shaken so much, you know?"
She considered the words as she took another small sip of the scotch. "Maybe," she whispered. "But my damage ends up locked up in an institution. Crazy and damaged isn't exactly the same thing."
"The last thing you are is crazy, at least not in the clinical sense. I question your choices in friends and God knows your pick of relationships needs to be explained but as far as your actual mental capacity, you're as sane as they come. You get that life sucks. The crazy ones are the ones that think things are going to be okay. You know better. You're in on the joke." He could see tears still spilling down her face as he reached out to touch her arm. "You're not crazy."
"I'm sitting here with Todd Manning and he's actually being nice," she managed. "This is a textbook hallucination if I've ever heard it."
"The good news is if you tell anyone about this, that's exactly what they'll think so I'm pretty sure my secret's safe." He let his hand linger on hers for a moment, enjoying the warmth of her skin beneath his. Maybe it was the scotch. Maybe it was kismet. Or maybe it was simply spending a moment with someone that had been through stuff, someone that understood life wasn't easy. It wasn't fair and it wasn't going to be – at least not anytime soon. The realization that she hadn't pulled away now dawned on him and he wondered for a moment what, if anything, this might mean.
"I am kind of starving." Her words suddenly broke the silence in the room.
"Right," he breathed, letting his hand slide away from hers. "We can order whatever you want, my treat."
"Your treat?" She smiled as she blinked back at him.
Her eyes were like sparkling green emeralds. How had he never noticed this before? "Well, it's the least I can do since my guys were kind of jackasses about your mom."
"I don't know what to say except … I was looking at the salads, but let's turn over to this lobster over here." She smiled brightly at him again, her eyes dancing as she giggled a bit.
"Go ahead," he nodded. "Just one thing."
"Okay, here it is." She leaned back and waited.
"No. It's nothing big. It's just a little something that'll keep my cold, dead heart warm at night." He pulled out his cell phone and moved closer to her. He let his arm drape around her and pulled her a bit closer. Her confused expression made him smile and he laughed a bit in spite of himself as he held the phone out in front of them. "I think a night like this deserves to be commemorated."
She furrowed her brow. "You want to take a picture? Of us? For what?"
"Well, I have a bad habit of not connecting with my family and with the Buchanans being family and all …"
"I should have known," she sighed, shaking her head with a knowing smile as the click of the phone sounded.
"You know me," he smiled. He reached for the menu she'd marked and stood up. "I'll go call this in." He saw her smile back at him as he headed for the door. His eyes moved to the picture now captured forever on his phone. Kevin would never see this and neither would Joey. This memory was just for him.