Title: Don’t leave me this way – part 9
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, but also some hope at the end
AN: Hey there, I know, it’s been a long time again since I last updated this story. You know how crazy my life is, so I’m not gonna rant about that again. :) I still hope it’s getting better one day… A girl can dream, right?
Anyway, you don’t need to be afraid that I’ll forget about any of my stories. I won’t, really. Sometimes I’m stuck, though. Sometimes my muse leaves me, but I’ll never forget about any story. So they’ll all be finished one day. Some sooner, some later. ;)
Thanks again for all the encouraging reviews, for everyone who put this story on their alert lists and, last but not least, to my beta-reader Jenny! My stories would be less fun to read without her – because of all the mistakes. LOL
Now, enjoy this chapter. As I promised, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. And no, it’s not the approaching train. ;)
Derek ran a hand over his face. How was he supposed to tell her their baby hadn’t made it? This was going to kill her, and maybe even their relationship. Was there a chance they would get through this? Would she feel guilty? He did. He hadn’t protected her; he hadn’t protected their child. Tears started to run down his face.
Suddenly, a fast and steady whooshing sound filled the room.
“There you go.” Thirteen smiled, sighing with relief. “Your little one did a pretty good job hiding from me.”
Derek looked at her, tears still streaming down his face. Could it be true? The baby was alive?
“You know, when they’re this small, it can be hard to find the heartbeat.” Thirteen gave him an understanding look. “Your little one seems to like to scare the hell out of us. I bet you’re gonna have much fun with him – or her.”
“So…” Derek had to swallow to stop his voice from breaking. “The baby…”
“…is alive,” Thirteen finished the sentence for him. “So far, we can’t tell if it’s entirely healthy, but considering the fact the heartbeat is pretty strong and sounds normal, I guess there’s a good chance it is.”
“You hear that, Baby Girl?” Derek whispered, leaning down to kiss her forehead through the fabric of the mask. One minute ago, he’d been glad she wasn’t awake – now he wished she was. This was the first time an ultrasound was done, the first time they could see a picture of their child, the first time they could hear its heartbeat. They should have been able to share this moment.
“I’m gonna print a picture for you,” Thirteen offered. “You can show it to Penelope once she wakes up.”
“Thank you,” Derek whispered, nodding in agreement. “Can I…” He fished in his pocket, his hands shaking with excitement when he took out his cell phone. “Can I record the heartbeat?”
“Sure.” Thirteen smiled at him and turned the device so that Derek could hold the phone nearer to the speaker.
For a minute, there was only the sound of their baby’s heart beating filling the room, while Derek recorded it on his cell phone. This was crazy. This should be one of the happiest moments in his life, but it was one of the saddest.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t happy the baby was alive. He also was happy they were expecting a baby at all. For the first time in weeks, he felt like everything was about to get better. He had hope Penelope and the baby would make it; and his heart jumped at the sound of his baby’s heartbeat. But there was no one he could share this moment with.
“Your friends arrived about five minutes ago to check on you two,” Thirteen told him as if she had read his mind.
Derek looked at her, and then nodded, a small smile appearing on his face. Even though there were moments he didn’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone, he really wasn’t sure how he would survive this without his family and friends.
His mom would like to see the picture and hear the baby’s heartbeat. And JJ and Emily would melt away if he showed them.
“I’ll get another blood sample so we can check whether she’s still contagious.” Thirteen took out a syringe. “Once she’s through the fever, there’s a good chance she’ll wake up soon.”
Yeah, but if she wasn’t healed, there still was a good chance she wasn’t going to make it. Derek sighed. Why did this have to happen to her?! Why not to him? She’d been in so much pain before she’d slipped into the coma – and there was no way to tell she wasn’t feeling any pain right now.
“Hey,” Fran greeted as she entered the room.
Derek looked up at her and realized that Thirteen had already left. He hadn’t even noticed. “Hey.” He tried to give her a smile.
“I heard there’s some good news.” She stepped closer to hug her son. “I knew your baby was strong.”
“Yeah.” Derek sighed again. He knew he should be glad, and he was, in a way. But there still was the worry about his Baby Girl.
“Come on.” Fran slightly slapped his shoulders. “Get up! Your team is waiting for some news, and I know they’ll like what you have to tell them.”
“Mom, I…” Derek tried to object, but he wasn’t sure how to find words that could explain how he was feeling at the moment. “I really don’t think I want to see anyone right now.”
“What? You have an ultrasound picture to show around, not to mention the baby’s heartbeat you recorded.” Fran winked at him.
“Mom, I’m really not in the mood to talk to anyone,” Derek grumbled. He knew he shouldn’t snap at his mother like that, but sometimes he hated that she still treated him like he was a kid.
Much to his surprise, she didn’t rebuke him for his behavior, but calmly replied, “I understand that, but I can’t let you bury yourself in here to hide from the rest of the world. I understand that you’re scared of losing her, but it won’t get better if you stay in here singing the blues. Even though we can’t be sure whether Penelope will wake up anytime soon, you have some good news to share. So go and share it!”
Derek looked back at Penelope and whispered, “Do you think she’s going to wake up?”
Fran gently placed her hands on her son’s shoulders. “Yes, I do,” she replied. “Penelope’s strong. She’s made it so far, she’ll hang in there. I don’t know how long it’ll take, but I’m sure she’ll wake up eventually.” She hesitated for a moment, before she added, “House also thinks she’s going to make it.”
“Did he say that?” Derek asked, surprised.
Fran chuckled. “Yeah, right after he asked me out.”
Derek jumped up from his chair and spun around to stare at his mother. “He did what?”
Fran giggled softly. “He asked me out.” She shrugged. “What? You don’t think men are still interested in me?”
Derek rolled his eyes. “I know they are. Pete, the butcher, the postman––Mr. Jenkins… Don’t think I missed that you flirt with them. But House?! You… You blew him off, right?”
“Of course I did.” Fran slapped his chest. “What do you think of me?”
Suddenly, Derek grinned. “Penelope’s gonna love this.”
“Don’t you dare tell her!” Fran threatened.
“That will be the first thing I tell her when she wakes up.” Derek grinned.
A warm smile appeared on Fran’s face. “See, that’s the right mindset. Now, go and show the ultrasound picture around. Sarah and Des are going to freak about it.”
Derek’s eyes became darker again as he turned back to Penelope. “I don’t know.”
“Go,” Fran told him. “I’ll stay here with her and tell her some stories from your childhood.”
Derek chuckled slightly. “Do you think she can hear us?”
“I’m sure she can,” Fran replied without hesitation. “And she’ll surely kick your butt for doubting that she’s gonna make it.”
“Thank you.” Derek smiled and hugged his mother on his way out of the room.
As she’d told him, he found his sisters and the rest of the team in the waiting room, everyone on the edge of their seats.
“Any news?” JJ and Sarah asked simultaneously.
“Not on Penelope,” Derek sighed. “She’s still in a coma. Right now, they’re testing her blood to see if she’s still contagious.”
JJ took a deep breath. “If… if she’s healthy, there is a good chance she’ll wake up soon, right?” She looked at Derek, then at Reid, expecting the latter to know the statistics.
“Well, I… I don’t know the actual statistics, but I’m sure there’s a good chance she will,” Reid stuttered. He didn’t think it was a good idea to tell them there were no accurate statistics and that no one could be sure when – of if – Penelope would wake up.
“I… just got something I wanted to show you.” Derek handed JJ the ultrasound picture.
As his mother had predicted, his two sisters squeed at the picture. JJ and Emily were over excited, too. There was a lot of awing, and they were all smiling, looking at the picture in their hands. Derek couldn’t help but smile himself.
“How are you feeling?” Hotch asked quietly.
Derek hadn’t even noticed how the other man had separated from the others and stepped beside him. “I’m not important right now,” Derek replied.
“I’m the leader of this team,” Hotch told him. “It’s my job to care about all my agents.”
Derek sighed. “I honestly don’t know how I am. I just… I’ve been so worried about Penelope and the baby that I forgot to ask myself how I am feeling. I guess it really isn’t important.”
“Of course it is,” Hotch objected. “Garcia will need you fit and healthy once she wakes up. You should take better care of yourself.”
“What if she doesn’t wake up?” Derek whispered. “How do you… how do you manage to raise Jack without Haley?”
“You don’t have to worry about that,” Hotch put him off. “Not right now, anyway. If Garcia doesn’t make it – and if I know her, I’m sure she will – we can have that conversation.”
“How can everyone be so sure that she’ll survive?” Derek asked.
Smiling warmly, Hotch put a hand on his agent’s back. “Because that’s what helps us deal with the situation. We are all afraid that she will never wake up, but we want to believe she will. So we tell ourselves that everything is going to be all right – and that if it isn’t, we can still start to worry.”
Derek nodded. Of course, it wasn’t helping anyone to be pessimistic, least of all him. But he was so afraid to lose her that he couldn’t think about anything else.
“You know that there are no statistics to tell you how likely it is for her to wake up.” Hotch led him a few feet away so the others didn’t hear what he was saying. “You also know that there is a fifty percent chance she’ll survive the CCHF. She’s made it so far. She’s strong, and she’s a fighter. She proved that before.
“I know that it gets harder each day. I know the longer she is in the coma, the less her chances are of waking up. I also know that there’ve been people waking up after more than ten years in a coma. So I believe you shouldn’t give up hope.”
“I know I shouldn’t,” Derek sighed. “But I honestly don’t know how not to give up hope. This is… just too much sometimes. She suffered so much, she was in so much pain, and now…”
“Now you should think about the future.” Hotch tilted his head to the others, who were still awing about the ultrasound picture.
Derek smiled at the sight in front of them. “Did you know that House asked my mom out?”
Hotch stared at him in disbelief. “You’re kidding me.”
“No, she told me herself,” Derek assured him. “She blew him off, of course.”
“Are you sure she’ll like the fact that you’re telling me this?”
Derek shrugged. “She just told me not to tell Penelope when she wakes up.”
“I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean you were allowed to tell us instead.” Hotch couldn’t help but grin at the image of Fran Morgan being asked out by House, of all people.
“I know, I just felt I had to tell someone to be able to believe it myself.” Derek chuckled. “I mean, this guy is hitting on my mother.”
“She’s an attractive woman,” Hotch said, shrugging.
Derek rolled his eyes. “I know that, but… come on, how can he possibly believe that she would go out with him?!”
“He seems to be a narcissist,” Hotch diagnosed. “Or he knew very well your mother would blow him off, and he’s a masochist. Or both.”
“Or maybe he just wanted to piss me off some more,” Derek grumbled.
The corner of Hotch’s mouth went up slightly as he put a hand on Derek’s back to lead him back inside.
“It’s so cute,” Sarah hugged her brother exuberantly. “You really did a great job.”
“To be honest,” Reid mumbled, “I can’t even tell for sure which dot on the picture could be a fetus.”
Sarah rolled her eyes, while JJ and Emily just giggled.
“It’s not what you can or cannot see,” Rossi tried to explain. “It’s what you know is there.”
“Maybe this is more for you.” Derek grinned, fished his cell phone out of his pocket, and played the heart sounds of the baby he’d recorded to them.
For a few seconds, it was dead silent in the room, except for the gentle whooshing sound coming out of Derek’s cell phone.
The girls were awing again. “Play it again!” JJ demanded.
“I didn’t know you could hear the baby’s heart sound when it’s that little.” Reid’s voice was barely above a whisper.
“You didn’t know?” JJ and Emily said simultaneously, and then burst out laughing.
Derek just chuckled, something he hadn’t felt like doing in a couple of weeks. Suddenly, he realized that his mother was right. He had wanted to hide from the rest of the world, knowing that Penelope was the only person who could really make him feel better; but his friends could help him get through this. They hadn’t given up hope, and he shouldn’t, either.
“So, will you play it again, please?” JJ begged.
Grinning, Derek hit a few keys on his phone, and the whooshing sound could be heard again, followed by loud awing from the girls.
The rather peaceful moment was interrupted by Thirteen entering the room. She smiled at the expectant faces staring at her. It was silent in the room again. Sometimes, Thirteen hated that she always had that effect on people, but that came with her profession.
Derek felt a lump in his throat. Something was wrong, terribly wrong. Otherwise Thirteen wouldn’t have come here; she’d have waited for him to go back to Penelope’s room.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you,” Thirteen apologized. “I just got the test results back from Penelope’s blood test and wanted to inform you immediately.”
Immediately… That meant it was really bad. Had she developed another disease going with the hemorrhagic fever or her weakened immune system? What else could they have discovered from taking a blood sample?
“I thought you’d like to hear some more good news as soon as possible.” Thirteen smiled brightly at Derek.
More good news? What did that mean?
“There is no evidence of the CCHF in her blood anymore,” Thirteen informed them. “She made it through the disease.”
Everyone in the room sighed with relief.
“That means… she’ll wake up soon, right?” JJ asked, carefully.
Thirteen frowned slightly. “We can’t tell when Penelope will wake up. We reanimated her for more than five minutes, and it’s likely her brain didn’t get a sufficient oxygen supply during that time. We can’t be sure how much damage was done during that time.”
“Damage?” Sarah asked, appalled. “You mean damage to her brain? So she might be… mentally handicapped or something?”Thirteen gave them an inscrutable smile. “We’ll see when she wakes up.”