Title: Don’t leave me this way – part 11
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, you have been waiting for this update for quite some time now. It wasn’t easy to get this chapter done. But hopefully, since the story is heading where I wanted to take it now, I’ll be faster next time. :)
This chapter continues right after the last one started. So remember that I left you hanging when Penelope asked who the hell Rossi was. Now you’ll find out what she has forgotten and what she remembers. Hope you’ll enjoy the chapter. There’s also some fluff in there. ;)
“You don’t remember Rossi?” Derek asked, trying to keep the worry out of his voice.
Penelope looked at him, searching for help, and slowly shook her head. “What… happened to me?” she asked.
“You passed out,” JJ softly replied. “At your…”
“At a wedding,” Fran quickly jumped in, interrupting JJ. She didn’t know much about amnesia, but it certainly wasn’t the best thing to tell Penelope that she had been about to get married when all this had happened.
Penelope turned to Derek again.
“That’s my mom,” he explained. Of course if Penelope didn’t remember Rossi, she wouldn’t remember his mother or sisters, either. “You met her at the wedding.”
“I… I spoiled it, right?” she asked huskily.
“Don’t worry, sweetness.” Derek smiled at her, taking her hand and gently rubbing its back with his thumb. “The wedding will take place once you’re fully recovered.”
“Was it… your wedding?” she questioned.
Everyone in the room looked at each other, not knowing how to answer that question.
But Derek just smiled at her. “Stop worrying, Baby Girl. I promise, you didn’t ruin anything for anyone. This wasn’t your fault – and the most important thing is that you’re about to get better. That’s all that really matters.”
“But… How… What…?” she stuttered.
Sighing, Derek pulled his chair closer to Penelope’s bed and sat down. Taking her hand again, he let his head sink.
Penelope carefully squeezed his hand, trying to encourage him to tell her what had happened to make her end up here in a hospital bed with some major gaps in her memory. Why wasn’t he just telling her what had happened? Did he really think she couldn’t take it?
Or was he mad at her? If his mother was here, it had certainly been his wedding – and she had spoiled it by passing out. He must be mad at her. Why else didn’t he talk to her and tell her what was going on?!
She should just ask him. Maybe then he would finally talk to her. “Are you… mad at me?” she asked quietly.
Derek’s head shot up, and he stared at her, a questioning look on his face. “No, sweetness. Of course not. Why would I be mad at you?”
“Why… aren’t you talking to me?” She frowned at him and swallowed hard. It was still difficult to speak. Her throat was sore.
Derek handed her a glass of water and helped her take a sip. “I just… don’t know how to explain everything to you,” he mumbled contritely.
“Don’t baby me!” She gave him a somewhat angry look. “I have a right to know what happened to me.”
Sighing once more, Derek gave in. “Okay, I… I’m not sure where to start.”
“Start with Lynch,” Hotch recommended.
Derek nodded and took a deep breath. “There was this guy working at the bureau,” he explained. “His name was Kevin Lynch.”
Penelope frowned. “Doesn’t sound familiar.”
“He was interested in you.” Derek couldn’t help but clench his fist, hoping that Penelope didn’t notice. “You blew him off, but apparently, he wasn’t willing to take no for an answer. About four months ago, he tried to kidnap you.”
“Tried?” she repeated.
“He was almost successful,” Derek admitted, running a hand over his face. “But Richard, the security guy, noticed that something was wrong and managed to shoot Lynch. He was pretty badly hurt, but still he tried to run and take you with him.”
“Richard?” Penelope asked.
“You remember him?” Derek raised both his eyebrows at her.
“He’s been working with the bureau for almost six years now,” Hotch told him.
“Oh,” was all Derek mumbled. He’d hoped that she at least remembered something from the past three years. “Well, Richard was shot, too, but he’s fine. He was really lucky.”
“And Lynch?” she pressed him.
Derek smiled at her. That was his Baby Girl, always worrying about everyone else.
“You saved his life,” Derek told her. “He lost quite a lot of blood, and at some point, he passed out. You called us so that we could find you – and meanwhile, you tried to staunch the flow of blood.”
This time, she just nodded, waiting for Derek to continue.
“He survived,” he said, and then sighed. “But… apparently he was infected with a disease called CCHF – Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever. It’s similar to Ebola.”
“And… I got infected?” Penelope guessed.
Derek nodded, stroking her hand with his thumb again.
“It was… pretty bad, huh?” She didn’t even need to ask; she could see the answer all over his face. It was touching that he still cared so much about her.
“We came close to losing you,” he replied. “Really close. You… Your heart stopped beating, and… the doctors almost weren’t able to bring you back. After that, you slipped into a coma.”
“And… how long… have I been unconscious?” Considering the fact that she had some major trouble articulating herself, it must have been quite a long time.
“About three months,” Derek told her. “After you slipped into the coma, it took quite a while until you had overcome the CCHF.”
“And Lynch?” she asked again. “Did he survive?”
Derek shook his head. “He died about two weeks ago. Apparently, the blood loss from the gunshot wound and the CCHF were too much for his body to deal with.”
“Did he know that… he was ill, when he… attacked me?” Her voice sounded unfamiliar in her ears, reminding her of an old woman. Her throat was sore again.
Once again, Derek handed her a glass of water without even being asked for it.
“We believe that he must have had developed the first symptoms by then,” he told her. “So he probably knew that he was infected. Maybe he even knew about the CCHF. If he hadn’t died beforehand, we would have charged him with malicious injury.”
“Did I… infect anyone else?” If she’d been infected by Lynch, it had to be pretty contagious.
“No,” Derek assured her, smiling at her. “Don’t worry, Baby Girl, you didn’t infect anybody. We all got tested several times to make sure we were okay.”
“Several… times?” She frowned at him in confusion.
“Those of us who kept having close contact with you needed to get tested regularly,” JJ explained, winking at Derek. “Derek had to donate quite a bit of blood during the past few months.”
Frowning again, Penelope asked, “Have you stayed here the whole time?” Certainly not. He surely had much better things to do than babysit her day after day for three months.
“Well, I…” he stuttered, giving JJ a death glare. “I couldn’t just leave you alone in here.” Besides, I didn’t know where else to go.
Penelope wasn’t sure what to say in return. She couldn’t believe Derek would really stay with her for months, waiting for her to wake up. Why would he do that?! Did she really mean that much to him?!
So, apparently it hadn’t been his wedding. Otherwise, he would surely have rather spent the past months with his future bride than with her, right?! But what was his mother doing here?
Someone opened the door, interrupting Penelope’s musings about what it meant that Derek hadn’t left her side within the past months, even putting himself on the risk of getting infected with the CCHF. A man limped inside the room.
“Thirteen told me you were doing much better than we expected,” he said to Penelope, coming to a halt right beside her bed.
“But apparently she doesn’t remember the past three years,” Derek told him, before House could add anything, “meaning she also doesn’t remember you.”
“And I really thought I was unforgettable,” House mumbled.
Once again, Penelope turned to Derek, searching for help.
“This is Dr. House,” Derek told her with a sigh. “Believe it or not, he’s a doctor.”
“Don’t forget to mention that I was the one who found out it was CCHF, and I saved her life when she was about to bite the dust,” House added sulkily.
“Yeah, and his social manners leave a lot to be desired,” Derek grumbled.
“Penelope likes me,” House said, triumphantly. Then he admitted, “Well, she did before she forgot all about it.”
“Because she finds the good side in everyone, no matter how well they can hide it,” Derek snarled through gritted teeth.
“How did you two manage not to kill each other during the past three months?” Penelope managed to ask with difficulty, making everyone laugh slightly.
“So, you have gaps in your memory?” House turned to Penelope, all serious again.
She just nodded.
“I know it’s still hard for you to speak, but can you tell me everything you remember?” House asked in an unusually soft voice.
Penelope swallowed again, and gratefully accepted the water Derek immediately offered. “I… remember I grew up in
“Do you have any siblings?” House asked.
Penelope nodded. “I have four brothers. Step-brothers. My step-dad brought them to the family.”
“So your parents were divorced?” House pressed her, trying to find out if there were any gaps in her memory further back than three years.
“Never married,” Penelope replied. Then there was a long pause before she could speak again. “My mother was pretty young when I was born.”
“How old exactly?” he wanted to know.
“Twenty-one,” Penelope told him. “She and my dad met at a party, but never heard from each other again.”
“When did your mother marry your step-father?”
“When I was eight.” Penelope closed her eyes for a moment.
“Would you stop that?” Derek snarled at House. “She’s exhausted.”
Penelope placed her hand on his arm to gain his attention. “It’s okay,” she assured him.
“Why did you leave
Derek took a deep breath. This was like an interrogation.
“I never got along that well with my step-brothers,” she whispered.
House frowned. “But you got along with your step-father?”
Penelope just nodded.
“Did you ever see your biological father?” he asked.
This time, she shook her head.
House thought about this for a second. Apparently, she remembered her past pretty well. “What did you do afterwards?”
“Went underground,” she said. “Taught myself code and hacked computers, till the FBI hired me to work for them.”
Nodding more to himself than to Penelope, House rubbed his chin. “One last question,” he promised, before posing it. “How did you meet Derek?”
Penelope smiled at the memory. “At the bureau. I was new, and he didn’t know my name, so he called me Baby Girl to get my attention. He still calls me that.”
Frowning once more, House turned to Derek. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”
“What’s wrong?” Penelope asked, appalled.
“Don’t worry, sweetness,” Derek tried to calm her. “We just have to sort something out.”
“Don’t kill him,” she begged, her voice rasping.
Derek smiled and leaned down to kiss her forehead. “I’ll be right back,” he promised.
“Try to get some sleep,” JJ commanded, kissing Penelope’s cheek. “See you tomorrow.”
The rest of Penelope’s visitors bowed out, as well.
She didn’t really feel like sleeping. She hadn’t even noticed that she was exhausted. But when the door was closed, her eyes fell shut and she even forgot about worrying what House might want to tell Derek in private.
“What happened three years ago?” House asked after he had closed the door to Penelope’s room.
Derek frowned at him. “What do you mean?”
“Apparently, she can remember everything that happened before that time perfectly well,” House replied. “That means something happened three years ago. Something her subconscious might want to forget. That’s why it suppressed the memory of it. Something traumatic. Does that ring a bell?”
Sighing, Derek ran a hand over his face and leaned against the wall. “There was this guy,” he said, his voice strained. “He asked her out to get to her, and at the end of the evening, he shot her. She almost didn’t make it.”
“I count that as traumatic,” House mumbled.
“It was shortly after Rossi joined our team,” Derek added. “Only a few moths after that.”
“Maybe, for some reason, her mind connected the memory of him to the one of the shooting,” House guessed. “That would explain why she forgot about him, too. I’m not a psychologist, but I’ve seen that happen before.”
“What do you think?” Derek almost didn’t dare pose the question. “Will her memory return?”
“Time will tell,” House replied with a shrug. “I’m sorry, but there’s no way to be sure about that. What I am sure about is that you shouldn’t try and force it.”
“I won’t,” Derek assured him. “If I told her about the past few years, she certainly wouldn’t believe me anyway.”
“She needs time to recover,” House said. “Physically, and mentally. But I’m sure things will work out – one way or the other.” That being said, he left Derek alone.
Yeah, one way or the other. Derek ran a hand over his head again. Penelope was three months pregnant with his child, their engagement ring was in the drawer next to her hospital bed – and she didn’t even remember they had been an item at all.
His life had never been so messed up before.