Title: Don’t leave me this way – part 10
Disclaimer: Neither the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to CBS. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time.
AN: I know, I know, it’s been a long time again. I really thought things would get better after my exam, but I was mistaken. First of all, I was so exhausted that I really couldn’t write anything – or do anything else for that matter. Secondly, I was pretty disappointed (to say the least) with the results of my exam. So my muse, who doesn’t seem to like such internal conflicts, left me until I finally decided I didn’t want to walk around angry anymore.
Then, I had to look for a new job. My traineeship, if you want to call it that, ended on January, 28, after all. They were looking for a maths and chemistry teacher at the school where I was, but I honestly didn’t want to stay there. Why? Well, that’s a story that requires several chapters to be told appropriately.
So, I went to the job center (yeah, that’s what I spent eight years of studying for) to file for unemployment. The same evening, I got a call from a principal of a school near my place inviting me for an interview. On February 7, I can start working there. Yay!
But there’s just so much I need to get before I can start working there, it’s unbelievable! I hardly spend any time at home, but only in numerous offices. Besides, I’m unemployed for one week – which just means more paper work… *sighs*
Anyway, here’s the next chapter of my sequel to ‘Worries, hesitancy and too much thinking’. Yes, it ends with another cliffhanger, sort of. I just couldn’t resist. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy the chapter. Due to the fact that it’s easier to read, I wrote cohesive words and sentences, so imagine Penelope to be stuttering, okay?!
Thanks so much for your patience! Thank you for all the reviews/comments I received! And a big thanks to my beta-reader once again!
Three months later:
“So, I see you’re still here,” House said as he limped into the room.
Derek sighed. He wasn’t going to give up, was he?! “Don’t even think about going there again! I’m not in the mood.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” House assured him, shrugging, and leaned against a nearby locker. “It was a mere statement.”
“What do you want?” Derek asked, not even trying to hide his annoyance.
“I just wanted to check on my patient.” House leaned closer to Penelope. “I see there’s still no change.”
“You never check on any patients,” Derek snorted. “You’re just here to annoy me. I wonder why.”
“You’re the profiler,” House grinned at him. “You tell me.”
“You really want to know what I’m thinking?!” Derek leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms in front of his chest, and eyed the other man. “You just can’t stand the fact that there are people happier than you are. People who found someone who’s important enough to them to give up their lives just for this one person.
“You don’t grant anyone what you can’t have. Someone you love and someone who loves you, with no strings attached. It’s satisfying for you to see relationships break apart, because you’re unable to keep up any yourself. That’s why you keep coming here. You hope that I’ll give up one day and leave Penelope alone. But that’s not gonna happen.”
“Ah, wrong!” House rolled his eyes. “You might be right about the part where I like to see other peoples’ lives breaking apart because it makes me feel better. But I’m here because of Penelope. I don’t care if you’re here or not.”
“Yeah, sure,” Derek snorted again, turning his attention back to his Baby Girl.
“Have there been any signs that her condition has changed?” House asked, his voice softer now.
Derek frowned at him. Sometimes he got the feeling that House really seemed to care about Penelope, as unlikely as it seemed. “No,” he sighed, looking back at her again. “She hasn’t stirred, not even to move a single muscle.”
“She will eventually wake up,” House stated.
“My mom already told me you were sure about this.” Derek frowned at him. “I wonder how you know that.”
“I’m a doctor,” House said with a shrug. “I know everything.”
“Oh, do you? So tell me, when will she wake up? Will there be any damages, or will she be all right?” Derek snarled at him. “Tell me, oh omniscient doctor!”
“Okay, okay.” House defensively raised his hands. “I might not know everything. But I know that Penelope is strong, and she’s a fighter. She’s breathing on her own, and she overcame the CCHF. She will wake up.”
Derek just nodded and turned his attention back to Penelope once more. If only House was right! He couldn’t stand sitting here, not being able to do anything to change his Baby Girl’s condition any longer.
“Why do you love her so much?” House asked.
Derek turned to stare at him. “What?” he snorted. How could someone not love Penelope?!
“I posed the question wrong,” House mumbled. “What do you love most about her?”
Derek sighed. “Why the hell do you think we’re your business?”
“Because you are.” House shrugged. “I mean, at least Penelope is. I’m just curious.”
“You don’t say,” Derek grumbled.
“That’s certainly why I became a doctor.” House moved a chair closer to Penelope’s bed and sat down. “You know, I love to get to the bottom of things – diseases, mostly. But every once in a while, I get curious about people, too.”
Derek knew he would regret it, but even though it was House talking to him, he was grateful about the change in his daily routine. He’d been sitting here for three months, after all, day by day. The others had gone back to work and were only stopping by for a few minutes a day. Derek’s throat was sore from reading and talking to Penelope – and his mind was sore from getting no response.
“You want to know why I love her?” Derek asked with a sigh. “Because she’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I can’t think of a single reason not to love her. She knows me better than anyone else, and still she loves me unconditionally. Is that enough reasons for you?”
“It’s just that… men like you usually don’t fall for women like her,” House replied with a shrug. “That’s why I asked.”
Derek just snorted. “You don’t know anything about me,” he mumbled, turning back to Penelope.
“You’re good-looking and smart, with a steady job, certainly a good income. You’re charming, and you’re a womanizer. Every nurse in this building has fallen for you already.” House looked at Derek, who pretended to ignore him, but from the look on the agent’s face, he could tell that he was right. “So, I guess you could have any woman. I was just wondering…”
“Listen!” Derek harshly interrupted him. “I don’t care if you were disappointed by life or by a woman you loved. I don’t care if you’re disabled and in constant pain. If you don’t stop annoying me with your wannabe psychology, I’m gonna kick your ass out of here, understood?!”
House defensively raised his hands, grinning inwardly. “Hey, I was just trying to make some small talk. If you’re not in the mood, just tell me, and I’ll…”
He was interrupted by Derek, who in a sudden movement, turned his head towards Penelope, staring at where his hand held hers.
“What?” House asked, leaning forward.
“She… She squeezed my hand,” Derek replied almost voicelessly.
House frowned, and then took a look at the machines monitoring her vital signs. There didn’t seem to be any change in her condition. “Are you sure?”
“I don’t imagine things,” Derek snarled. “I know what I felt.”
“Okay, maybe you really felt something,” House granted him. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s…”
“Look!” Derek interrupted him, pointing at Penelope’s hand. “She’s moving.”
Again, House leaned closer to take a look at Penelope’s hand. There was a slight movement, almost as if it was shaking. “This doesn’t have to mean anything, I’m sorry,” House mumbled to Derek.
“But… she’s moving,” Derek objected. This had to mean something. For months, he’d been sitting here by her side, and Penelope hadn’t moved a single muscle in her body. This had to mean something.
“Movement is a transmission of electro-chemical signals that can basically be caused by anything,” House tried to explain. “It could mean something, but it doesn’t have to.”
Derek took a deep breath. He knew what he had seen, and he knew this meant something, but he really wasn’t in the mood to argue with House at the moment. The doctor was convinced that Penelope would eventually wake up; he’d said it himself. She was about to wake up. Derek knew it.
House opened Penelope’s eyes and checked the reaction of her pupils to his flashlight. Frowning, he turned to the monitors again. “There’s no significant change in her condition,” he stated.
“She moved,” Derek insisted.
“Yes, I believe she did,” House said, sighing. “But like I said, it doesn’t necessarily mean any…”
A sudden sound coming from Penelope stopped him mid-sentence. House and Derek both turned to Penelope, staring at her in expectation.
She moved again, moaning slightly, as if she was in pain. Then, there was nothing.
House frowned, and then suddenly turned around and limped out of the door.
“Hey, where’re you going?” Derek yelled after him.
“Getting Thirteen,” House replied, his voice sounding stressed now.
Derek turned back to Penelope, clutching her hand. “Baby Girl?” he whispered into her ear. “I know you can hear me. I need you to wake up, okay? Come back to me!”
The door swung open, and House and Thirteen stepped in. “She’s waking up.”
Derek grimaced. “Weren’t you the one saying there was no significant change in her condition?”
“Yeah, well, now there is,” House snapped back at him.
Thirteen stepped closer to the bed. “Penelope, can you hear me?”
She moved her head, but her eyes remained close. Moaning again, she tossed and turned, as if she was having a nightmare.
“Is she in pain?” Derek asked, worriedly.
“There’s no way to be sure until she entirely wakes up,” Thirteen said, giving him a somewhat helpless smile. “We can’t give her anything yet.”
“Baby Girl,” Derek softly spoke to her. “I need you to wake up now, you hear me?”
She moved again. Her eyes fluttered open for a moment, but she squeezed them shut again.
“There you go,” Derek encouraged her, smiling. “Open those beautiful eyes for me, goddess!”
She opened her eyes again, but she seemed to be unable to fix her gaze on anyone or anything.
“Baby,” Derek tried to call her. “Look at me, sweetness!”
Her eyes wandered through the room, to Thirteen and House, before they finally came to rest on Derek.
“Hey.” He smiled at her, his hand softly stroking her hair. “You know who I am?”
She nodded and opened her mouth to croak something that faintly reminded him of his name.
“Yeah, that’s my girl,” Derek said. “Do you know where you are?”
She let her eyes wander around the room again. “Ho… sp… pi…tal,” she guessed.
Derek nodded. “And do you remember how you got here?”
Penelope shook her head and closed her eyes for a moment. “S… So… t… tired.”
“It’s okay, Baby Girl,” Derek assured her. “Just go back to sleep.”
“The speaking problems are normal after such a long time in coma,” Thirteen explained, smiling at Derek. “It’s a good sign that she remembers your name.”
“I need to call my family and the team and tell them that Penelope woke up.” Derek ran a hand over his face. He wasn’t sure if he was really glad. They still couldn’t be sure there weren’t any long-term effects resulting from the coma.
“We already called them,” Thirteen told him. “They’ll be here tomorrow. Within the next few hours, Penelope will certainly alternate between sleeping and being awake. The periods where she’s awake will become longer, but it takes some time. Tomorrow, we’ll run a few tests to see if there was any damage caused by the lack of oxygen she suffered from.”
“Tomorrow,” Derek repeated. That was a long wait.
“As I said, the fact that she remembers your name is a good sign,” Thirteen assured him, giving him a reassuring smile.
It was the first night Derek was unable to get any sleep since the day Penelope had slipped into the coma. Thirteen had been right; she was frequently waking up from an otherwise pretty restless sleep.
Mostly, she was awake for only a few seconds, sometimes a minute. But a few times, she was awake for almost five minutes. Nonetheless, it was hard for her to talk. She had problems forming understandable words, let alone coherent sentences. It was obvious that she knew what she wanted to say, but somewhere between her brain and her mouth, something went wrong, and she just couldn’t get the words out of her mouth.
It was frustrating, especially since he could see how Penelope was starting to get frustrated. But it certainly was a good sign that the problem didn’t seem to be that she didn’t know better.
“M… Mor… ning,” a voice from the bed interrupted Derek’s thoughts.
“Hey, girl,” he greeted, leaning closer to her to give her his best reassuring smile. “How are you feeling today?”
“B… Bet… ter,” she stuttered.
A cautious knock on the door caught their attention. A second later, Thirteen stepped in, smiling at both of them. “It’s time for a few tests,” she told Penelope. “It’s just routine after you spend such a long time in a coma.”
Thirteen started with her tactile sense, testing if Penelope could feel her touch and move her arms and legs properly. Everything seemed to be fine.
“All right, that’s good.” Thirteen smiled at her. “Now, I’m gonna test your memory, okay?”
Again, Penelope nodded as an answer.
“I know, it’s still hard for you to speak, but that’s okay; it’ll come back, believe me.” Thirteen stepped closer to the heads of Penelope’s bed. “I’ll keep the answers as short and simple as possible,” she promised, and then turned to Derek. “I’m gonna need your help with a few questions.”
“Okay,” he agreed, his voice sounding tense.
“Penelope, can you tell me your full name, please?”
“P… Penelope… G… Garcia,” she whispered.
Smiling, Thirteen tallied something on her list. “Do you know your date of birth?”
“July 7, 1977,” she replied, clipped.
“Okay, can you tell me about your parents or where you grew up?” Thirteen wanted to know.
Thirteen looked at Derek, who just nodded slightly. “Good,” she said, smiling at Penelope. “Your long-term memory doesn’t seem to be affected. What is the last thing you remember?”
“That’s… hard to tell.” Penelope sighed. She wasn’t sure what really was the last thing she could remember.
A knock on the door interrupted them.
Thirteen turned around, to find Derek’s and Penelope’s colleagues outside the door. Smiling, she turned back at Penelope. “We can continue the tests later. Do you feel strong enough for some visitors?”
“Sure,” Penelope assured her.
“All right, I’ll tell the first two of them to come in.” She turned to Derek. “Make sure they don’t stay too long.”
“Let them all in,” Penelope croaked, trying to sit up a little.
Frowning at her in concern, Derek asked, “Are you sure?”
“They’re my friends.” She rolled her eyes at him. “I can handle them.”
“Okay,” Thirteen agreed, and opened the door for Penelope’s co-workers. “Just don’t overdo it!”
“Hey,” JJ said softly, tears filling her eyes, and leaned down to kiss her forehead. “You scared the hell out of us, you know that?”
“Sorry,” Penelope whispered.
“We’re glad you’re on the road to recovery.” Hotch, too, stepped closer and leaned down to peck her cheek.
“Wow,” she croaked. “It must have been really bad.”
Her team-mates chuckled slightly.
“God, how we missed you,” Emily said, smiling at Penelope.
“Only my sense of humor?” she pouted.
“And a lot of other things,” Derek assured her, gently stroking her cheek. “But especially the way you make us feel better.”
“Not to mention your computer skills,” Rossi added, smirking.
Penelope gave him an insecure smile. Then she looked at Derek, seeking help.
“Are you okay?” he asked, appalled by the look on her face.
She bit her lip, and then turned back to Rossi. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, “but… Do I know you?”