Title: Don’t leave me this way – part 18
Fandom: Criminal Minds
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: Penelope is about to remember parts of the past three years – and discovers something shocking.
She was crying so hard, she could barely see where she was going or who passed her on her way.
That was why she didn’t see the older man limping by, nor the strange look he gave her. She didn’t even notice that he followed her.
“Uh oh, trouble in paradise?” he asked.
Penelope stopped and turned to look at him. “What?” she whispered.
House frowned at her. Glancing around, he saw a small bench at the entrance of the nearby park. “Come on,” he told her. “Let’s sit down there.”
Reluctantly, Penelope followed him to the bench and sat down next to him. She didn’t want to talk to him about what happened. She really didn’t want to talk to anyone.
“What happened?” House asked her.
“Why would you care?” she sniffled, looking down at her hands.
“Because you’re still my patient,” he replied. Realizing that she didn’t believe him, he added, “And because I’m curious. You seemed to be rather pleased with your caretaker.”
“You know it’s his baby.” It was more a statement than a question she was sure House knew the truth.
“And…that’s a problem?” he guessed. For all he knew, he would have expected Derek to be the one not happy about the fact that he was the father.
Penelope laughed wryly. “Derek is…not exactly the family kind of guy.”
“And you think he never wanted the child,” House concluded. “Why are you so sure about that?”
This time, she didn’t answer.
House thought about the situation for a moment. Then he asked, “What did he tell you about the father?”
Penelope raised her head and looked at him strangely. “What?”
“Well, since you couldn’t remember anything and it wasn’t certain whether or not your memory was going to return, he could have told you anything,” House explained with a shrug. “He could have told you that the father of the baby was gone or dead. He could have told you the father had dumped you. So, what did he tell you?”
“That… That he couldn’t tell me everything, but that the father of the baby loved me and…wanted to marry me,” she mumbled.
“And he never told you anything else? His name, where he lived, what he did for a living?” House pressed her.
Penelope shook her head.
House frowned at her. “Okay, let me see if I have this right… He told you the father of the baby loved you. He told you said man wanted to marry you and wanted the baby, correct?”
“All right, let’s assume the baby was…an accident. Why wouldn’t he tell you the father was some black guy you met at work, at a coffee shop, or wherever else you usually go? I mean, would you have questioned it and insisted on a paternity test?”
Penelope just shrugged.
Smirking, House nudged her. “You don’t think it’s possible, do you?”
Penelope just sniffled.
“You really still don’t think that he loves you?” Sighing, he let his eyes wander across the street. “You know that he spent every second with you while you were in coma?”
Her head shot up, and she looked back at him.
“Every single day,” House continued. “He didn’t even leave at night. Most of the time, he slept on a chair, until Thirteen insisted on pushing another bed into your room so he could rest properly.”
“And he…never left?” Penelope asked, surprised.
House shook his head. “Well, once – when he thought you’d died, he went to kill the guy who’d infected you.”
“Kevin?” she exclaimed. “Did he…?”
“No,” House replied with a chuckle. “The guy really died because of the CCHF. Even though it was just thanks to your boss your fiancée didn’t hasten the process.”
Penelope’s eyes widened. “Fiancée?”
House frowned. “I thought he told you that the father of the baby was planning to marry you.”
Once again, she didn’t answer.
Nodding knowingly, House added, “But you didn’t believe him.”
“I honestly don’t know what to believe anymore,” she mumbled.
“What do you remember?” House asked her.
Penelope just frowned at him.
“I mean, what exactly do you remember? How did you figure out that Agent Morgan was the baby’s father?”
Taking a deep breath, she replied, “I…remembered that we spent a night together.”
House raised an eyebrow at her. “And that’s it? Just one night?”
“Well, I… I don’t know,” she mumbled. “Everything is so…blurry and surreal. I don’t know whether I really remember anything.”
“You mean you’ve been dreaming about it?” he guessed.
Penelope nodded. “Sometimes. I also have some sort of…flashbacks, but usually I dream about something. Then I asked Derek whether it really happened, but…”
“You couldn’t ask him when you dreamed about your passionate nights,” House remarked with a smirk.
Penelope rolled her eyes.
“You know, since the day I accepted your case, I was sure that Agent Morgan didn’t love you,” House told her. “But after the past few months, I’m not so sure anymore.”
“I know that he loves me,” Penelope told him quietly. “I just…never thought he could love me like this.”
“So you think he only took care of you because of the child?” House asked with a frown.
Penelope shrugged. “He certainly would have taken care of me anyway, but…”
“Why would he do that if he didn’t love you?” House pointed out.
“I… This… This is far more complicated,” she told him with a sigh.
House just shrugged. “For me, it looks pretty simple. You go back to him and talk to him. Maybe he can help you remember all the details.”
“I don’t know…” she mumbled.
“Or you spend another night with him,” House suggested with a shrug. “That might help you remember.”
Penelope slapped his arm, trying hard not to blush. “And here I thought you were showing your nice side.”
“I don’t have a nice side,” he replied with a shrug. “I was just talking to you out of curiosity.”
Penelope let her eyes wander back to the empty street. “You know, I remember that it was…perfect. And… And the cuddling afterwards.”
“Do you remember anything you talked about?” he pressed her.
Penelope frowned and then shook her head. “I only remember how he took me to the house and showed me around.”
“Did he tell you anything about the house?” he asked. “I mean, after you left the hospital.”
“He told me that I had moved there with the baby’s father,” she replied.
House raised an eyebrow at her. “He told you that you had moved into a house with the baby’s father. You remembered the house and how he took you there… And you still don’t believe he’s serious?”
Penelope looked down, but once more didn’t say anything in return.
“You didn’t think you were worth it,” House guessed.
Penelope snorted. “When did you take your exam in psychology?”
“I’m the one who’s responsible for the sarcastic comments,” House scolded.
“You said it yourself,” Penelope mumbled.
House raised an eyebrow at her. “Pardon?”
Looking back at him, she quietly added, “You didn’t believe that Derek could really love me.”
“That’s just because I don’t believe in love in general,” House put her off. “That didn’t have anything to do with you in particular.”
“Is that the reason you’re single?” she asked quietly. “Because someone hurt you so much that you don’t believe in love anymore?”
House grimaced. “Like you said, that’s far more complicated.”
“I think it’s rather simple,” Penelope objected. “You don’t commit yourself to anyone, so you can’t get hurt. And it gets worse the more often you’re betrayed. Trust me, I understand that.”
House just smirked, but decided to drop the matter. “Can I take you back to him now so that you can reconcile?”
“Why are you playing the matchmaker if you don’t believe in love?” Penelope asked, raising an eyebrow at him.
“I just want to see you fail,” he told her with a shrug and stood up.
“Yeah, that sounds like you,” Penelope mumbled, taking the hand he offered and letting him help her to her feet. “What were you doing here anyway?”
“Believe it or not, my hotel is just around the corner,” he replied.
Penelope frowned at him.
“It’s true,” House assured her. “It’s just two blocks from here. You can go in and ask if I have a room there or not.”
Penelope skeptically examined the façade of the hotel. It looked rather cheap, not very inviting – and it definitely didn’t look like a place you would expect a doctor to stay.
“And it’s merely a coincidence that your hotel is only a few blocks away from our house?” Penelope pressed him.
House defensively raised a hand. “Hey, I had already checked in when you were brought to the hospital. Besides, how should I have known where you lived?”
“Oh, yeah, how should you have known, since it doesn’t say anything about it on the patient chart,” Penelope replied, giving him a challenging look.
House smirked. “My manners seem to have rubbed off on you.”
“Oh, God, please no!” Penelope rolled her eyes theatrically. “Now Derek’s surely gonna leave me.”
“Speaking of that, I probably shouldn’t escort you to the door,” House said, stopping at the corner.
“Don’t worry. Derek’s just barking; he won’t bite,” Penelope teased, trying to calm him down.
“Yeah, I saw that when he went after Melvin,” he mumbled.
“Kevin,” Penelope corrected him, walking into the narrow street. “That was…different.”
“Because the guy almost killed you,” House said, giving her a knowing smile as he limped after her.
Penelope tried not to blush and decided she’d better change the topic. “Why don’t you believe in love?”
House smiled wryly at her. “I just don’t. It’s as simple as that.”
Frowning, Penelope stopped and turned toward him once more. She tried to read from his face what was going on, but eventually decided to drop the matter. “Fine,” she said with a sigh. “You don’t want to talk about it.”
“We’re there, anyway,” he told her, pointing at the house only a few meters from where they were standing.
Narrowing her eyes, she asked, “How do you know which house it is – since you had no idea it was just around the corner of your cozy hotel?”
“You told me enough about the house for me to recognize it,” he replied with a shrug.
“Oh, really, and when did I tell you all that?” she questioned him.
“Before you slipped into the coma,” he insisted.
Crossing her arms in front of her chest, Penelope eyed him. “So when I found out I was probably dying of hemorrhagic fever, I told you about my house?”
“What is it with you FBI people that you always need to ask questions like you’re interrogating someone?” House asked, rolling his eyes.
Penelope shook her head in obvious amusement, but decided to let the matter drop.
“That’s it,” he said with a grin, opening the front gate for Penelope. “You go and get your happy ending.”
“You really like to see relationships fail, don’t you?” she asked bitterly.
House shrugged. “Makes me feel less lonely.”
“You know, if you didn’t try so hard to make people dislike you, you wouldn’t have to feel lonely,” she told him with a sigh.
“As much as I hate to disappoint you, you’re not going to change me,” he told her with a grin.
“I didn’t expect that anyway,” she mumbled, slowing walking toward the door and reaching for the bell.
Hesitating, she turned back to House, who gave her an encouraging nod. “Thank you,” she whispered, before finally pushing the button.
The door was pretty much ripped open instantly, and Derek stared at her for a second before he let out the breath he had been holding, and smiled at her with relief.
“Hey,” she whispered, not sure what she was supposed to say now.
“Thank goodness,” Derek mumbled, immediately pulling her into his arms.
“I’m sorry I ran away,” Penelope whispered against his chest. “I was just so…shocked…confused… I’m not sure what I was.”
“It’s all right,” Derek assured her, gently pulling her in. “Come in. It’s freezing outside.”
Seeing the man he had least expected by his gate, he frowned. Had House actually brought her back here?
The doctor nodded before turning to leave.
Derek repeated the other man’s gesture and then closed the door behind him.
Don't leave me this way - part 18
Title: Don’t leave me this way – part 18