Title: Don’t leave me this way – part 7
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’.
warnings: some more angst, I couldn’t help it, but there’s some light at the end of the tunnel
AN: Yes, there really is some light at the end of the tunnel, not only concerning this story, but also concerning my crazy life. I just hope it’s not the train. ;)
It’s about time I really write a story about it. Well, I found out that if I didn’t think it was more fun to write about criminals and murders, I would certainly become a serial killer myself. Good thing for all the people who frequently go on my nerves that I’m such a good person. LOL
You will read about all of it once I finished most of the challenges I signed up for. I don’t know yet if it will also be a ‘real’ MG story, but there will definitely be a lot of both of them in there. I somehow need a new challenge, though, and a real case centric story seems to be a good idea.
I’m sorry, I didn’t reply to all the wonderful reviews/comments I got so far. It’s not because I don’t appreciate them, I do, very much. It was really just due to a lack of time – and energy since I suffered from a bad, bad summer flu. :/
Now, I hope you’ll enjoy this chapter! I’m sorry, it took me forever to get it right, but it wasn’t that easy for me to write a whole chapter about the emotions Derek is going through and make it sound authentic (at least for me). Then I experienced something that helped me emphasize with Derek, but that’s a different story. ;)
Derek wasn’t sure he was ready for whatever he had to face. Had they covered her? Had they closed her eyes? He’d seen bodies before, even of recently murdered victims. He knew the difference between sleeping and dead, the limpness of a dead body.
Would his mind be able to process that she was dead, and not just sleeping? He’d witnessed this before, even with Hotch and Haley, how relatives held the bodies, sometimes even shook them, hoping that they’d wake up, as unlikely as it was.
They say there are five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. At the moment, Derek wasn’t sure he’d ever get past the denial. This simply couldn’t be happening.
Considering the fact he’d wanted to kill Lynch, he could also be at the stage of anger already. Or maybe he was jumping back and forth between the two stages.
When Derek turned the corner to Penelope’s room, he saw House coming through the door, and he stopped. Derek wasn’t sure he could really go in there and see her lifeless body. He wasn’t ready to face this. All he wanted to do was run away and hide somewhere until this was over.
Only that it wouldn’t be over, ever.
Derek felt his mother take his hand in hers, squeezing it reassuringly. Taking a deep breath, he stepped closer.
Through the glass doors, he could see Penelope still lying in the bed, now attached to more machines than Derek could count. What were those good for? If she was dead, they wouldn’t need these machines, would they? Hope was clambering through his heart as he turned to House, looking for an answer to his unspoken question.
House breathed out audibly. “We brought her back,” he informed Derek.
A wave of relief washed through Derek’s veins, followed by new worry. The tubes, House’s face… Something was wrong. This wasn’t over yet.
He stared at the doctor, then at his Baby Girl, and finally back at House. He could read the ‘but’ on the other man’s face.
“She’s been dead for almost three minutes,” House went on, “and now she’s in a coma. We can’t be sure whether there is any brain damage, due to the lack of oxygen, or other long-lasting effects. We won’t be able to tell until she wakes up.”
“If she wakes up at all,” Derek added bluntly.
“What are her chances of pulling through?” Derek asked.
“We still have to worry about the CCHF,” House replied, sounding unusually compassionate. “She’s still running a high fever, and it’s possible her heart will stop beating again. We might not be able to bring her back next time.”
Derek nodded. He wasn’t sure how to feel right now; relieved she was still alive? Was she? From the sight of her, it seemed more like she was somewhere between life and death.
“What about… our baby?” Derek carefully asked.
“We can’t tell for sure yet,” House replied. “The ultrasound wasn’t very telling, but in a few days, we should be able to hear the heartbeat.”
If it’s still there.
“What if… What if the baby didn’t make it?” Derek wanted to know.
“We’ll have to remove the embryo then, or it might poison her body,” House explained, “but a surgery like that is a high risk in her condition.”
Derek walked up to the glass door and stared at the bed for a few more moments. He wasn’t sure whether he should be glad or not. Sure, Penelope was still alive. But was she still with him? Silently, he took the mask and gloves that were standing ready outside the door to Penelope’s room and stepped inside.
“You like her,” Fran stated after her son had closed the door to Penelope’s room behind him.
House didn’t answer.
“You really sounded afflicted when you were talking about her condition,” she pressed.
“I just don’t like losing a patient,” he shrugged. “Soils my reputation.”
“What a pity… I was about to believe you were human,” Fran sighed.
House didn’t say anything in return. As much as he liked some teasing, this wasn’t the time, and even he accepted that. They both watched as Derek sat back down next to Penelope’s bed and took her hand in his.
“Hey, Baby Girl,” Derek whispered. “You scared the hell outta me, you know that?!”
There was no noticeable reaction. No tremor of her eyelids or mouth telling him she heard him. Her chest was rising and falling in the steady rhythm the machine dictated.
There were so many tubes and wires attached to her body. A large tube was taped to her mouth, providing her with oxygen. There was another, smaller tube draining the blood from her lungs.
Derek was sure it must feel uncomfortable to be lying there like this. Did she even feel anything? Did she feel how he was taking her hand, squeezing it carefully?
When Derek carefully took her hand in his, he was almost surprised that it was warm. It was warm, but limp. Somehow, that didn’t seem to go together. Of course, he knew that technically she was alive, but somehow he’d expected her hand to be cold. A sign that she wasn’t really alive, but somewhere in between.
Or was she?
Was it just the machines keeping the blood running through her veins, keeping her body functioning? Was she somewhere else already? Was there even a place the soul went after death, or was there just a dark nothing?
“Where are you, Baby Girl?” he whispered more to himself than to her.
There was no way to be sure she was still there. It was possible that she would never wake up. How long would they agree on leaving her alive? A couple of months? A year? Ten years?
How long was he able to cope with this? Would he at all? He couldn’t sit here next to her bed, waiting for her to wake up, hoping for a miracle that may never occur.
Thinking about all the ifs and buts, Derek felt new tears springing to his eyes. This time, he blinked them away. There was no way House would see him cry, especially not when there was still hope.
He would cling to this last bit of hope, and not worry whether Penelope was ever going to wake up again. He wouldn’t worry about the possible aftereffects of the flat lining, either. She was alive. That was all that mattered, for now.
The problem was, he couldn’t stop thinking about all these questions. They were running through his mind over and over and over again, whenever he looked at her figure on the hospital bed or touched her lifeless hand.
He was caught between hope and despair, just as Penelope was caught between life and death. It was unbearable. Whenever he looked at her, it was mainly to check whether she was still breathing and if there was any reaction on her face.
Whenever the heart monitor made a sound other than the steady beep, Derek’s heart almost stopped, fearing it was the announcement of the next flat lining.
This was crazy, surreal, and driving him to desperation. He needed to do something other than sitting here, staring at the heart monitor or at Penelope’s lifeless body. He still wanted to punch anything – or anyone, but instead, he tried something he really wasn’t good at. It was the only thing he could think of doing at the moment.
“Do you remember the first time we met?” he asked, chuckling to himself. He just needed to talk to her to chase away the unbearable silence, and to stop himself from worrying about the thousand questions in his head; if she was still there, if the baby was all right, and if she was ever going to wake up again.
“When I first saw you, I knew right away that there was something special between us, because I knew you were special, I could see it in your eyes,” he went on. “I’ve never met anyone like you before – and I’ll certainly never meet anyone like you again. I can’t lose you.”
Derek remained silent for a moment, and watched Penelope’s figure on the bed. He suddenly remembered a theoretic experiment they’d once talked about at school. Something about a cat in a box which was dead and alive at the same time, until someone opened the box to be sure.
Of course, Penelope’s current condition wasn’t comparable to the cat in the box, and yet, for Derek, it felt this way. If it had been his cat in the box, he wasn’t sure he’d dared to open the box and check if the cat was still alive – because there also was the possibility that the cat was dead.
As torturing as it was not to knew whether Penelope would ever wake up and be healthy again, or if her condition was going to become worse until she eventually died, Derek wasn’t sure he wanted an answer. The answer could mean the end, after all. The end of her life, the end of their time together, and thus the end of his life.
No, he didn’t want to know the answer. He wanted to cling to the last bit of hope that Penelope and the baby were going to make it.
He carefully places his hand on her abdomen, realizing there were more than just two possibilities.
What if Penelope survived, and the baby didn’t? Were they able to deal with that? How was he supposed to tell Penelope when she woke up and maybe didn’t even remember she’d been pregnant?
Derek ran a hand over his face and leaned back in the chair, closing his eyes for a moment. What if the baby survived, and Penelope didn’t?
He wasn’t sure how to deal with that, either. Was he even able to be a single dad? To raise a child? He’d have to quit his job with the BAU, that much was for sure. And then? What if the baby looked like Penelope? Could he deal with seeing her face every day and being reminded of what he had lost?
The child would eventually start asking questions about its mother. How was he supposed to answer any of them? Would he ever be able to talk about her and their time together?
Derek opened his eyes to look at his Baby Girl again. She was still there. For the time being, she was alive, and as long as she was, there was hope. He would worry about everything else when he had to.
He leaned forward again, taking Penelope’s hand in his, and suddenly he felt tears springing to his eyes. Tears of relief? Of despair? He wasn’t sure, and he honestly didn’t care. He blinked them back, knowing that House and his mother were still watching him. He didn’t want to cry now. Not here. He wanted to hope.
“Have you told him the truth?” Fran wanted to know as she saw Derek placing a hand on Penelope’s abdomen.
“Yes,” House nodded. “We can’t be sure if the baby is still alive until we are able to hear a heartbeat. Usually, you can hear the heartbeat of a baby after the twenty-first day of pregnancy, which is in three days. We’ll have to wait until then, maybe even a week, to be sure.”
“What do you think?” she insisted. “Is there a chance that the baby survived?”
House opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted when the rest of the FBI team arrived.
Fran’s face became serious again. “Excuse me,” she mumbled.
He watched her walk over to Penelope’s friends and brief them about the situation. They seemed relieved and worried at the same time, a reaction he’d often seen before.
His eyes wandered back to the figure on the bed. Fran Morgan was right; he’d refused to let Penelope go, not only because he hated to lose a patient, but because she was special. She’d trusted him to heal her, and for some reason, that meant a lot to him. House wondered if she had such an effect on everyone she met. He couldn’t remember a patient having so much people around worrying about them, after all.
“So… what are her chances?” JJ asked quietly.
Fran took a deep breath. “Not that good, apparently. She’s still not healed of the CCHF, and there’s no guarantee she’ll live.”
“How is Derek?” Des asked quietly.
Fran gave her a sad smile. “How would you be?”
“He should get some rest,” Rossi advised. “He looks like he needs a break from all this.”
“As much as I agree with you, I really doubt Derek would listen. Nothing on earth could ever make him leave her side.” Fran sighed as she turned to look at her son. He was sitting next to Penelope’s bed, holding her hand again.
She was going to try it anyway.
The door opened, and Derek’s mother stepped inside. “Shouldn’t you go home and get some rest?” she asked softly.
“I can’t,” Derek replied, without taking his eyes from Penelope. “I can’t leave her alone, not now. Never.”
Fran nodded and comfortingly placed both her hands on her son’s broad shoulders. “Can I get you anything?”
“A book,” he answered.
Fran smiled slightly, very well knowing why Derek had asked for that. “Any preferences?”
“A love novel,” he told her in a low voice. “Penelope likes love novels. Something funny, with a happy ending.”
“Sure,” she nodded, “but you will have to promise me something.”
Now, Derek turned his head into his mother’s direction and raised both his eyebrows.
“You’ll go and have lunch with me every day,” she told him, “and you’ll sleep in a real bed at least twice a week.”
“No, Derek, that’s not a point of discussion,” she interrupted him. “If Penelope wakes up – and I pray she will every day – she’s gonna need you rested and healthy. The last thing she’ll need is having to worry about you.”
He sighed. There was no argument against that, and he knew that.
“Not to mention that if you haven’t eaten and rested enough, you’ll certainly be more prone to the CCHF. It’s enough to have to worry about one of you.”
“It’s all right, Mom, I got your point,” Derek gave in. “I know Penelope wouldn’t want me to stay with her the whole time, that she’d want me to eat properly and get enough sleep. But I also know she’d do the same if I were lying in that bed.”
“I know that, Derek,” Fran softly replied. “I also know that Penelope, too, would have people taking care of her, making sure she also worried about herself, at least a little.”
“Yeah, you’re right about that.” Derek smiled sadly.
“I’ll get you a nice book now,” she promised, softly kissing her son’s temple. “I’ll be back in an hour.”“I’ll be here.” Derek leaned forward again, taking Penelope’s hand back in his. Where else would he go, anyway?