Title: Don’t leave me this way – part 5
Disclaimer: Neither the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to CBS. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time.
Summary: Sequel to ‘Worries, hesitancy and too much thinking’.
AN: I know, it’s been a while since I last updated this. So here’s a short summary of the previous events. Our favorite couple wanted to get married, but at the wedding Penelope broke down. She was brought to the hospital, and Dr. House found out that she has a hemorrhagic fever (CCHF, to be precise). To make matters worse (at least in this situation), Penelope is pregnant. At the end of the last chapter it turned out that Kevin infected her when he failed to kidnap her, and she tried to stop the bleeding from his shot wound.
Thank you for being so patient and hanging in there with me. I know, you always do, and you’re never complaining about delays. I can’t thank you enough for that.
Thank you to my beta-reader, Jenny. I fear, I will never entirely get the rules of the English grammar, so I’m very much dependent on her.
Now, enjoy (and don’t kill me)! ;)
Derek sighed as he stood outside the glass door to Penelope’s room. He was sure that the good news would be able to lighten her mood, at least to some extent. And it would certainly make it easier for her to endure all this if she knew that the people she loved were all well.
Even so, all that didn’t make it one bit easier for him to have to watch her suffer and cough up blood, or almost suffocate because of the liquid in her lungs. He’d heard that the most dangerous thing about hemorrhagic fevers was that the virus was thinning the blood. That made the patients bleed literally everywhere. Most people just bled to death internally.
He could see a tube leading to her nose, certainly providing her with oxygen. The volume of her lungs was now small enough that the concentration of oxygen in the air just wasn’t enough to keep her from suffocating. A nurse had explained all that to him after the incident a few hours ago.
Hours. Derek felt like it had been months since she’d broken down on their wedding day. But it hadn’t been more than a week. It was one thing having to see her condition getting worse each day. But now it seemed to become worse each hour, hell, even each goddamn second.
How was he supposed to handle this?! He should be strong right now, strong for her, able to comfort her as well as he could. The fact that there was absolutely nothing he could do to help her, to take the pain away, was driving him crazy. What if it got even worse? What if she got to be in even more pain than she already was? What if…
There were just too many what ifs, and Derek didn’t like the probable outcome of any of them. Most of all, he hated this feeling of powerlessness. He was a man of action. He needed to do something to help, not just stand there and watch as the person he held most dear in the world was suffering and maybe even… dying.
He shook this thought off quickly. She couldn’t be dying, not now, not after he finally had the guts to make a move on her and change both their lives for the better. He wasn’t willing to let her go. Not only was he not willing, he also wasn’t able to do so. He needed her too much. He knew he could never survive a single day without her.
Besides, there was so much they had to look forward to. Their wedding, a child, living together. Their time together had only just begun, and it simply couldn’t be over already. This just wasn’t fair. Not to him and not to Penelope, and especially not the their child growing inside of her.
Carefully, Derek opened the door and stepped inside. Penelope was sleeping, and he didn’t want to wake her, because being awake just meant pain for her.
When he stepped closer, he noticed the stand next to her bed. There were two blood bags hanging there to compensate for the loss of blood Penelope had suffered due to the fever. It had to be really bad if they were taking such drastic measures. Derek couldn’t help but wonder what they hadn’t told them about Penelope’s condition.
He slowly sat down on the chair waiting for him right next to her bed; the chair he’d spent most of the past week in. Not knowing what else to do, he soon found himself praying – at least the best way of praying he could manage. He wasn’t very practiced.
God. It just still didn’t sit right with him to address Him with ‘Dear God’. He wasn’t even sure if he was ready to not feel abandoned by Him anymore, to start believing and praying again – but calling Him ‘dear’ was too much.
God, I know I don’t talk to you very often. Call me resentful, but I still do have my problems with praying. Nonetheless, I’m addressing you now, and I’m rather sure you know what it’s about, since you’re omniscient and all.
This is not about me. If you don’t think that I deserve to be happy, fine. I understand and I’m gonna except it. But that has nothing to do with Penelope. She doesn’t deserve to suffer as much as she is at the moment. So, please, if you have to take her away from me, find a way that’s less painful for her. Even though if you do, I’m not sure I’m gonna survive it if I lose her.
Quite a while ago, a priest told me that you never give us more than we can handle. Guess what? I can’t handle this.
“Oh, you’re back already,” Derek heard a voice behind him. A voice that had become all too familiar.
“Go away,” was his simple reply. He really wasn’t in the mood.
“Wow, you’re really in a bad mood, huh?” House limped around the bed and leaned against one of the cabinets holding medications.
“What do you want?” Derek felt like yelling at this guy invading their privacy so much, but he didn’t want to wake up Penelope. She needed to rest.
House grimaced. “I’m just checking on my patient.”
“Like hell you are,” Derek grunted. “They told me that you hardly ever talk to patients, let alone their family. Yet you walk in here at least twice a day. Why don’t you just leave us alone, as you do with every other patient?”
House thought about the question for a moment, and let his gaze wander to the sleeping woman in the hospital bed and then back to Derek. “What exactly do you see in her?”
Derek raised his head to look at House and frowned. “Pardon?”
“Seriously,” House insisted, pointing his head towards Penelope, “what is it that keeps you with her?”
“I love her.” Much to Derek’s own surprise, there was no anger in his answer, even though he could have killed House for daring to question his intentions. His voice was calm and full of truth. “Something you don’t seem to understand.”
“I don’t believe in love,” House shrugged.
“Yeah, me neither.” This caught House’s attention. But he didn’t have to press Derek, since he went on, “I never thought I could love someone. I didn’t even believe that this kind of love existed. But I love Penelope more than anything in the world. You ask me why? All I can say is, why not? There’s nothing about her that’s not worth being loved.”
“Don’t you care what people think?” House raised an eyebrow at Derek.
The latter just snorted. “I never cared what people thought about me – except for what Penelope might think about me.”
“Interesting,” the doctor mumbled.
Derek breathed out audibly. This was really getting annoying. “What exactly do you want?”
“I’ve met a lot of couples over the years,” he replied, and limped around the room a bit. “And when one of them got ill, it usually was about drugs, or cheating, or both. Sooner or later, it always turned out that one of them had taken drugs, causing their condition as an aftereffect, or that one partner had cheated on the other and got infected with some STD.”
“So you’re still trying to find evidence that one of us cheated on the other?” Derek snorted again.
“No,” House assured, “I believe that you didn’t. I’m just wondering why not.”
“Why would I want to cheat on her?” Now Derek really had to gather all his self-control not to yell at the man opposite the bed. “Because that’s what people do, cheat on the one they love? Well, here’s news for you. There are people in the world who are content with their lives and don’t need to try and escape. People who love their partners and are faithful to them without getting anything from them but being loved back. For some people, that’s enough to be happy.”
“So she’s not gonna come into a lot of money shortly?” House teased.
Derek clenched his fists but remained silent. He didn’t want to punch this guy in front of his Baby Girl. Not even when she was asleep. “Why don’t you finally leave us alone?” he snarled through gritted teeth.
“You’re pretty quick-tempered, aren’t you?” House grinned at him.
“What, now am I beating her?”
“No,” House quickly replied, “you’re acting very much differently with her than you do with others. In fact, I haven’t seen you act so tender and caring with anyone but her. That’s… fascinating.”
“What are we to you, some kind of lab rats?” Derek couldn’t stand it anymore, and raised his voice. He quickly looked at the bed, but Penelope still seemed sound asleep.
“Actually, I understand,” House went on, ignoring Derek’s question. “She’s special. What I don’t understand is how you came to realize that.”
Derek’s first intention was to yell at House, ask him what the hell this guy thought he knew about Derek. But he had to admit that it was true. It had taken him too damn long to realize what he had in Penelope – maybe it had already been too late.
Both men turned their attention to the bed when they heard whooping coming from that direction.
“Hey, beautiful,” Derek smiled and took her hand in his. Once again, he found himself wishing he could take off the stupid mask and kiss her, or at least the gloves so he could touch her.
“Hey,” her husky voice replied, and then she had to cough again. “How are… the others?”
“They’re alright,” Derek told her and squeezed her hand gently. “None of us are infected.”
They didn’t even notice House silently leaving the room. Maybe because that wasn’t like him, or maybe just because they were too engaged with each other.
“That’s… good,” Penelope barely whispered, before drawing in a heavy breath.
“You still have breathing problems?” Derek asked, his voice full of concern. He let the thumb of his gloved hand ran over the back of hers.
“It’s… not that… bad,” she lied and had to cough again. The attacks were getting worse, and certainly more painful.
“We… found out where you got infected,” he told her, mostly to take his own mind off the fact how much she was suffering at the moment.
“Wh… where?” she whispered.
Derek squeezed her hand once again and looked down. “It was Kevin,” he said, and then remained silent for a few moments.
Penelope could see how he clenched his teeth. She could almost feel the anger radiating from his body, and squeezed his hand weakly in an attempt to soothe him. But she also knew that her present condition didn’t make it one bit easier for him.
“He… certainly knew that he had CCHF when he kidnapped you, which makes it a… malicious injury.”
“Derek,” Penelope whispered, which made him look up at her again. “You… have to… promise me something.”
He leaned a bit closer, because it became harder to understand her as it obviously became harder for her to speak. Maybe she shouldn’t talk at all.
“No matter… what happens… don’t hurt… Kevin,” she gasped out.
“Baby…” he tried. He just couldn’t promise what he knew he couldn’t keep.
But Penelope tightened the grip of his hand and insisted, “Promise me… Derek!”
“I’m… really not sure that I can,” he whispered and looked down again.
Penelope tried to raise from the bed a little, and once again demanded, “Promise!”
“Okay,” he nodded reluctantly. He had to admit defeat, because he knew that he would keep that promise – because he had given it to her. It killed him to know that. He felt like betraying her, even though he knew she wouldn’t want him to take revenge for her.
When she opened her mouth to speak again and drew in another heavy breath, she suddenly felt like her lungs were full of water. She coughed heavily and had to lean forward so she didn’t inhale the blood she was coughing up.
Derek almost panicked at the sight of the blood on the white blanket of her hospital bed, and reached for the alarm knob. “I’ll call a nurse.”
But Penelope held him back. It was already getting better, she could breathe again – and the last thing she wanted was another one sticking a needle into her lungs just to make her breathing insignificantly easier. “It’s… okay,” she assured him.
“No, it’s not,” Derek whispered, and let himself fall back on the chair. “It’s not.”
Penelope wanted to reach out and stroke his cheek, but then reconsidered it. She knew she still wasn’t allowed to touch him. It was a great concession that he was allowed to be in the same room with her at all.
Derek squeezed her hand again. “I love you so much, Penelope,” he started, and she could hear the tears in his voice, even though he’d been able to hold them back so far. “It’s killing me to watch you suffer and not be able to do anything about it. You know, after you were shot, I made a promise to myself to keep you safe no matter what. I never thought that we’d be fighting an invisible, and obviously unconquerable, enemy. I just… can’t lose you.”
“You will… move on,” she replied, and grimaced in pain as she took another shallow breath. “I… don’t want you… to… stop living… because… of me.”
“My life began when I met you,” Derek told her, and wiped away a tear that ran down his cheek. “I never thought I would fall in love, let alone thought about marrying someone and having a child. I was always careful so I didn’t get one of my flings pregnant. I just didn’t want to bring a child into this world. I… had lost my faith in it, I guess.
“But everything changed when I met you. You changed me. You not only gave me faith that there is more than evil in the world, but that a child can grow up unharmed and loved. I’d never met a person as good-hearted as you before, and I thought that if this world generated someone as good as you, it couldn’t be entirely evil. So tell me, how am I supposed to live without you?”
“You will… learn.”
“But I don’t want to learn that,” he whispered and kissed her hand through the mask he was wearing. If only he could touch her. For some reason, he felt like this would make it all better for them. Her touch had always soothed him.
“I’m… so… sorry, Derek,” her raspy voice said as she closed her eyes for a moment.
Derek’s first intention was to wake her up, but he knew how much she needed to rest. She passed out every once in a while, and it frequently scared the hell out of him, because he knew there was the possibility she wouldn’t wake up again. He got the impression that these sudden sleep attacks were coming at shorter and shorter intervals.
Her eyes opened again and Penelope gave him a weak smile, “I should stop… falling asleep… on you.”
“It’s okay, sweetness,” he assured and stroked the back of her hand again, “as long as you keep waking up again.”
“I’m… so… sorry.” she repeated. “I wanted… to marry you so… badly. I wanted… this child. I’m… sorry, that I… cut us… out of that.”
“That’s not true,” Derek objected, refusing to accept the inevitable truth. “We can still get married, and we will have a whole bunch of children.”
“I… wish I could… kiss you… one last… time,” she rattled.
“Don’t,” Derek almost yelled at her, and another tear ran down his cheek, “don’t talk like that, Baby Girl! You can’t just die on me, you hear me?”
“Tell… the others… that I… will miss them,” she instructed. “Tell them… that I didn’t… suffer! Tell… them that… I… was… not… afraid!”
He closed his eyes for another moment. How could she talk like that – and how could she be so strong at a moment like this? She wasn’t dying, she couldn’t be. He wouldn’t let her!
“De…rek,” her raspy voice made him look back up at her again. She was so unbelievably pale, her skin almost gray. Her eyes were dark and somehow glassy.
Penelope took in another painful, heavy breath, and painstakingly brought out the next words, “I love… you… so… m…”
Suddenly, there was no movement in her at all. Her body went limp and her eyes just blankly stared into space. She’d stopped breathing.
“Baby Girl?” Derek almost yelled, his voice cracking. “Penelope? Come on, don’t do that to me!” He shook her in a desperate attempt to get a response from her, but there was nothing. “HELP!” he yelled as loudly as he could. “Somebody, HELP ME!”