Title: Don’t leave me this way – part 12
Disclaimer: Please, read the disclaimer of 'Worries, hesitancy and too much thinking'.
Summary: Sequel to ‘Worries, hesitancy and too much thinking’.
AN: I almost can’t believe this is part 12 already. It’s really amazing – especially considering the fact that this story is far from finished. LOL
Anyway, once again I’m sorry for the delay. It took me more than a week to correct this chapter my beta-reader betaed for me (thanks so much for that). I just can’t stop being busy. :) But I hope it was worth the wait.
Of course, I couldn’t make it too easy for our favorite couple. So you shouldn’t expect a miracle. Still I hope you’ll enjoy reading. I know I enjoyed writing. ;)
Five weeks later:
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Derek mumbled, while he pushed Penelope’s wheelchair towards the exit. “I mean, wouldn’t it be better to wait until she’s fully recovered?”
Penelope didn’t bother waiting for House to respond. “Honey, you know I don’t like hospitals. Five weeks are more than enough. And I’m fine, right?”
“It certainly depends how you define that term,” House answered with a shrug.
Derek gave Penelope his best ‘I told you so’ look. “See?”
“But from the medical point of view, you are cleared to go,” House added, giving Derek a wry grin. “You just have to attend physical therapy and the weekly check-ups, and even though you’re allowed to take a few steps on your own, I recommend the wheelchair for everyday use.”
“Thank you, doctor,” Penelope said, appeased, before turning back to Derek. “Hot Stuff, I’m completely fine. Not to mention that I’ll have you around to take care of me the whole day long.”
“Yeah, and don’t even hope that I’ll let you break your back. You will be resting for the next couple of days. That’s an order!” Derek told her in a stern voice.
Penelope rolled her eyes. “I heard you, Dad.”
Sighing, Derek turned her wheelchair around so that she had to look at him. “I’m just worried about you, okay? After all you’ve been through, you shouldn’t get carried away.”
“Okay, I got it,” Penelope mumbled, smiling coyly at him. “I promise, I’ll take care of myself.”
“You won’t have to.” Derek grinned and gently nudged her nose. “Because I’m gonna be there to take care of you the whole time.”
Penelope didn’t say anything in return, but her heart started beating faster at the prospect of having her chocolate Adonis all to herself for the next couple of days.
However, when he pulled the SUV into the parking lot, Penelope looked at the house, a little puzzled. This wasn’t her apartment building – and it wasn’t Derek’s, either. Where on earth had he taken her?
“Um, cupcake, are you sure we didn’t take a wrong turn somewhere?” she asked carefully.
Chuckling, Derek got out of the SUV and hurried to open the door for Penelope and help her out of the vehicle.
“Don’t worry, beautiful. We’re exactly where we are supposed to be,” he assured her.
“Being?” she pressed him, eyeing the entrance suspiciously.
“We’re staying at JJ’s place for a couple of days,” Derek informed her.
Penelope frowned at him. “And why again would we do that?”
“Because neither your place nor mine is accessible for wheelchairs,” he replied with a nonchalant shrug. It wasn’t a lie – but of course, it wasn’t the only reason they’d changed places with JJ. He couldn’t just bring her into their house, with their photos lying around…
Frowning, Penelope eyed him. He wouldn’t lie to her, would he? But it sounded like a lie – or at least, it seemed like he was keeping something from her.
“Now, come on in,” he softly commanded. “It’s cold outside, and I don’t want you to get the flu or anything.”
“And where exactly is JJ staying?” Penelope questioned, as Derek pushed her wheelchair through the door. She sighed inwardly. As much as she enjoyed having her chocolate god around to take care of her, it was frustrating to sit in that stupid chair. She had always been able to take care of herself well, and now…
“She’s staying at your place for the time being,” Derek replied. “Stop worrying about everyone else, sweetness. I promise, no one’s going to any trouble because of you.”
“Of course you are,” she objected. “You’re putting yourself out on my account, JJ is, and I…”
Derek turned her wheelchair around so that Penelope was facing him. “Okay, girl, hush and listen to me. All we want to do is help you, because we love you and because we want you to be as comfortable as possible until you’re back to your old self. And you aren’t a burden to anyone. Understood?”
“Yeah.” She nodded, blushing slightly. “I just…”
Derek silenced her by putting his finger over her mouth. “Hush, girl!” he scolded. “I’m looking forward to taking care of you for the next couple of days, and I’m sure you’ll be back at your feet in no time at all.”
“But I don’t want you to feel obliged to,” she told him. “I mean, you certainly have much nicer company at your feet than a handicapped leech, who can’t even make it to the bathroom on her own.”
“Will you stop trying to get rid of me, Baby Girl!?” Derek demanded playfully, as he helped her settle on the couch. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be. That’s a fact.” Smiling, he leaned down to kiss her forehead.
“Okay,” she whispered. “But you would tell me if it were any different, right?”
“I told you the truth,” he assured her. “Now, I want you to relax while I take care of dinner.” Smiling, he turned around and headed for the kitchen.
“Would you mind getting me a drink first? After everything that happened, I could really use one right now,” Penelope mumbled.
Derek froze in the middle of the movement and slowly turned back to her.
“What? Did I say something wrong?” Penelope frowned at the shocked expression on Derek’s face. “I’m not going to become an alcoholic; I just really need a drink right now.”
“You… You shouldn’t drink,” Derek stuttered, his voice coaxing. “Not in your current condition, anyway.”
“Come on, I’m fine,” Penelope exclaimed. “Okay, I still can’t fully move my legs, but how can one drink hurt?”
Derek sat down next to her on the couch and carefully took her hands in his. “It’s not because of your motion problems.”
“Okay,” she said slowly, trying to find an answer in his face. He was keeping something from her. Now she was sure about it.
“Just trust me when I say you shouldn’t drink at the moment, okay?” he begged her.
“No, it’s not okay,” Penelope said angrily, freeing her hands from his grip. “You’re keeping something from me, and I want to know what.”
“I told you not to baby me,” Penelope interrupted him. “Tell me what’s going on. I can deal with it; I’m sure I can. What I can’t deal with is you lying to me all the time.”
“I’m not lying to you,” Derek assured her.
Penelope rolled her eyes. “Yeah, but you aren’t telling me the truth, either.”
“Okay,” Derek sighed, running a hand over his face. What was he supposed to do? House had told him not to tell her anything, unless she remembered at least parts of it – but Derek couldn’t stand it if Penelope was mad at him. Besides, she wouldn’t let him talk her out of taking a drink. He needed to tell her the truth. Once she had her next appointment with the gynecologist, he needed to tell her about the pregnancy anyway.
“I honestly don’t know how to break the news carefully,” he started, “so I think it’s best if I just tell you.”
Penelope frowned at him once more. He wasn’t trying to make something up to avoid telling her the truth, was he?
Derek took a deep breath. “Baby Girl, you shouldn’t drink at the moment, because you’re pregnant.”
She stared at him for a second, and then she burst out laughing. “Yeah, like hell I am,” she exclaimed.
Sighing, Derek looked down. He should have known she wouldn’t believe him.
When Penelope saw the expression on Derek’s face, her jaw dropped and her skin went pale. “Oh, my God,” she whispered. “It’s… It’s true… I’m… pregnant?”
Derek just nodded.
“But… how… I mean, what… why…?” she stuttered.
Derek remained silent. What was he supposed to say to that? He couldn’t tell her about the baby’s father, for obvious reasons, but maybe he could make it easier for him to believe it.
“I… I got something for you,” he carefully told her. Reaching into his pocket, he took out a few pictures and his cell phone. He handed her the pictures. “Here are some ultrasound pictures that were taken while you were in the coma.” Pressing a few buttons on his cell phone, he held it out to her. “And this is the baby’s heartbeat.”
She heard the whooshing sound and saw the baby’s features becoming clearer as she looked through the ultrasound pictures. On the last one, she could even see the face and the tiny fingers.
Penelope place a hand over her stomach. It was true. She tried her best to hold back the tears that were springing to her eyes, but she couldn’t suppress a sob.
Derek’s heart cramped at that sound. Carefully, he laid a hand on her shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” Penelope sniffled. “This is just… too shocking.”
Frowning, Derek replied, “But… I thought you always wanted children.”
“I do,” she assured him. “I just… Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought I would be married before I… you know.”
Derek tried to give her a hopefully comforting smile. He couldn’t tell her anything, could he? After all, she was still thinking it had been his wedding she'd been attending when she had collapsed, due to the fact that his mother had been at the hospital. If he told her now that it had been her wedding, she could put two and two together, couldn’t she?
“What about the father?” Penelope asked.
Derek bit his lip. Of course she had to ask that question. Who wouldn’t, in her place? But how was he supposed to answer it?
“I… I’m not sure I should tell you about him,” Derek replied. “It’s not good if your memory is forced to come back, you know. It might be too much.”
“Did House tell you that?” Penelope asked, a bit suspiciously.
“Yes, and believe it or not, I agree with him on this one,” Derek told her in all seriousness. Considering what had happened during the years her mind had made her forget, it would surely be too much – and she certainly wouldn’t even believe half of it. But he wanted to tell her. He wanted to have her back, completely.
Penelope nodded, understanding, but obviously disappointed.
“I’m sorry,” Derek said quietly.
“Can’t you… at least tell me what he’s like?” she pleaded.
Derek thought about the request for a moment. He could probably tell her the truth, without giving her too many details. This way, he wouldn’t force her memory to come back, would he? Besides, if he were in her condition, he would want to know as much as possible about such an important person in his life.
“Okay,” Derek gave in with a sigh. “I can’t tell you his name or any other personal information. But I can tell you that he loves you, very much, and he is looking forward to having a family with you. At the moment, he’s glad that you’re on the road to recovery; and he hopes you’ll get your memory back soon so that everything is back to as it was before you got ill.”
“Really?” she asked, smiling. “And do you like him?”
Derek couldn’t help but smile at that question. “Most of the time I do,” he answered.
“What's he like?” she wanted to know. “I mean, is he sweet and caring, like a real gentleman?”
“He tries his best to be,” he told her. “At least, you always say that he's sweet and caring. I’m not sure about the gentleman, though.”
“And he loves me?” she repeated.
“Yes, he does love you,” Derek affirmed. “He cares much more about you than about anyone or anything else in the world.”
“Are you sure?” Penelope pressed him, new tears springing to her eyes.
“Without a doubt,” Derek assured her.
“And is he… good looking?” she asked, blushing slightly.
Derek chuckled. “Well, I’d say he’s pretty handsome. Everyone says he is, anyway. And as far as I know, you think he’s smoking hot.”
Penelope thought about Derek’s words for a moment. A handsome guy who loved her more than anything else in the world and was obviously attracted to her – at least enough to get her pregnant. That was all she’d ever wanted, wasn’t it?! Apart from the fact that she’d always pictured Derek to be that man.
After all, it had been Derek she’d first seen in the hospital when she had woken up. It had been him who had stayed with her the whole time she’d been in a coma. That had to mean something.
Yeah, Penelope, keep dreaming!
Apparently, sometime during the past three years, she had decided to finally move on and stop keeping up the false hope for something that simply wasn’t going to happen. But…
“Why hasn’t he been at the hospital?” she suddenly asked.
Derek blinked at her, confused for a moment. “Huh?”
“The father,” Penelope told him. “He never came to the hospital. I mean, you said I don’t remember him, so I certainly wouldn’t have recognized him. But the only people I didn’t know were Rossi and your mom.”
“Oh,” Derek mumbled. Now he had to lie to her. “He was there a lot,” he assured her. “He just… He’s very busy… jobwise, but he tried to be there as often as he could.”
“Oh,” Penelope mumbled, frowning to herself. “I… understand.” To be quite honest, she didn’t understand anything anymore. In fact, she started thinking that this ominous good-looking, caring, and lovely father of the baby didn’t exist.
What was it that Derek was keeping from her? Was it a one night stand who had gotten her pregnant?
No, very unlikely.
Had the guy dumped her afterwards?
More likely, but still…
Had she been raped?
God, hopefully not. She couldn’t give birth to the child of a rapist – and it was too late for an abortion now.
“Baby Girl?” Derek’s soft voice interrupted her thoughts.
She turned to him, the confusion and the insecurity written all over her face.
Once again, Derek took her hands in his. “I promise you will understand once your memory is back, but I can’t tell you more right now. I know it’s confusing and some things don’t make sense to you at the moment, but I can’t explain everything. You just have to trust me.”
“But… this child,” she carefully started. “I… I wanted it – and so did the father, right?”
“Yes,” he assured her, smiling. “Absolutely.”
Penelope took a deep breath. She needed to believe Derek. He would tell her the truth when the time was right. Whenever that was. She was pregnant, and the father of the baby loved her and wanted the child.
“I’m sorry,” Derek told her with a sigh. “This must be very confusing and frustrating for you. I really wish I could do something to make it better.”
“You’re here,” she said quietly. “That’s more than I can ask.”
Smiling, Derek pulled her into a tight embrace. God, it felt so good to finally hold her again. He never wanted to let go of her.
Sighing contently, Penelope closed her eyes. As always when he held her, Derek managed to make her feel safe and secure – like nothing could ever happen to her, even if the world went down. It was a feeling only Derek could give her. And if she hadn’t known better, she’d have said that Derek enjoyed this as well, and… had he actually just sniffed her hair?
But suddenly, it hit her. “Um… Don’t you think the father of the baby would mind you being so close to me?” Not that she wanted this embrace to end anytime soon…
“No, I’m sure he doesn’t mind,” Derek assured her.
Penelope frowned, but she decided not to think about his words or what they could mean. At the moment, she had everything she needed.Well, almost…