Stolen Cinderella - Chapter 20 Part 1
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Nov. 23rd, 2008 | 03:54 pm
Tunage: Colbie Caillat - Oxygen
Title: Stolen Cinderella [Chapter 20/21]
Rating: R for themes, and everything else I could possibly get sued for if I don't include under this.
Pairing: House/Cam of course
Summary: “I just need some reassurance on this one. I need to hear from someone else that I’m doing the right thing.”
This has had to be split into two part because apparently it's "too long"!
Feedback: It's been mooooooonths since I've posted an update for this and it's all finished now. This is the second to last chapter. Feedback would be better than sliced bread, if anyone remembers this fic from pretty much years ago lol.
Disclaimer: The Cameron/Wilson scene has been worded around the wonderful scene in 05x01 so spoilers for that pretty much. Oh, and I don't own them, though they are all on my Christmas list :)
Chapter One - Catalyst
Chapter Two - Hindsight
Chapter Three - Possession
Chapter Four - Cold
Chapter Five - Everywhere
Chapter Six - Nowhere
Chapter Seven - Doubt
Chapter Eight - Touch
Chapter Nine - Personal
Chapter Ten - Hallucinations
Chapter Eleven - Patient
Chapter Twelve - Blessings
Chapter Thirteen - Identity
Chapter Fourteen - Angel
Chapter Fifteen - Complicated
Chapter Sixteen - Connections
Chapter Seventeen - Friends
Chapter Eighteen - Family
Chapter Nineteen - Home
Chapter Twenty – Reasons
“Cameron, you’re back! Thought you were gone for good.”
It felt somewhat like déjà vu; Foreman and Chase greeting her, a warm and friendly embrace from Foreman and a smile and awkward hug from Chase. He still didn’t know how to handle her, and she couldn’t exactly blame him. He seemed to be overly used to her pushing him away if he tried to get close. She felt somewhat guilty that they’d come to this, awkward tension and nervous energy between them, but that was the way it was and they couldn’t exactly go back and change things now. Better to just put it behind them, as much as that was possible when they had a child together.
House barely turned around. Not that she’d really expected anything different. He glanced her way and gave a succinct and barely perceptible nod before grabbing his cane from the table and making for the door.
“Clinic duty calls. Wouldn’t want Mistress Cuddy to come after me with the whips and chains…”
He pulled a face that indicated less-than-pure thoughts were supposed to have been conjured by his words, before he swung open the glass door and left without a backward glance.
Foreman muttered to Cameron, shaking his head at the complete disregard House had shown her. She didn’t look surprised or even remotely fazed by it…but he could never tell these days. She’d become the master of vacant looks and the ‘shrug it off, doesn’t bother me’ attitude. He had a feeling though, that inside it was a bit of a stinging blow. Yet again.
“Do you want me back or not? Don’t blow hot and cold with me, House. I came back because…I thought…”
Cameron had simply let House avoid her all day. Each time she’d seen him disappearing off in the other direction she’d bit back the anger the bubbled inside her and brushed it off. She honestly didn’t know where she stood. It had been three months now since the evening he’d turned up at
Kate had returned again for a week, though she didn’t hide her frustration at her sister’s seesawing indecision when it came to the choice of going back home with them or staying in Princeton. Cameron had simply gone back to work to see whether it would be such a mistake to go home, or whether things really had changed and maybe she had everything she needed right here after all. Kate was looking after Faith, doting on her niece whilst Cameron finally returned to work. Danny was still around though, and Cameron and Kate always took it in turns to mind Charlie for him too.
When Cameron did return to work and found nothing had changed with House, everything that had happened the few months before seemingly forgotten, she knew he’d run out of his chances. She couldn’t stay on this rollercoaster any longer. He’d managed to climb over the walls she’d built up, yet now he was running scared, clambering back over them as though what he’d found on the other side was too grown-up a puzzle for him to figure out. She thought that giving him space for a few months would have maybe helped him come around to her side of thinking, to accept there was something between them that kept them coming back no matter what. But apparently not.
“You thought what, we could play happy families now?”
House glanced up sharply, ice-cold eyes settling on her and causing the tiny hairs on the back of her neck to stand up. She opened her mouth, trying to form words, but nothing passed her lips. He was back to being the cold, misanthropic bastard she knew him so well as. So why the hell did she keep coming back, when she knew this was what he was like?
“Just because you decide to stay here, it doesn’t change anything, Cameron,” his words were a little softer now at least, a slither of regret lacing them as he looked away and trained his gaze blankly out of the window, “You’re still damaged and I’m no father figure. You don’t want Chase, great. But I’m not exactly the flawless model of perfection-”
“And I never said I wanted you to be, how many times do I-?”
“Okay! I get it, you ‘love me as I am’,” and the mocking was back. Overuse of defence mechanisms at its finest, “But you need to think about why you’re really back here. If it’s for me then, what do you expect me to say?”
She didn’t know what to say to him. Should she give him the cliché he was waiting for? The stuttering uncertainty as she tried yet again to convince him they could work? Or should she just do what she had been dreading to admit was right? Letting her gaze fall to his feet, unable to maintain eye contact without him being able to read the pain she was barely able to contain, she summoned every ounce of strength she had in her. Because she was going to need it now.
“I don’t expect anything of you…I was stupid to think I could actually mean anything to you in the first place, I know. I’ve given my resignation letter to Cuddy already, and I’ve written my own reference. It’s on your desk; you just need to sign it. And if you could make sure it gets to Dr. Rubin at Aurora, I’d really appreciate it.”
The cold, curt edge in her voice even mildly startled herself, but she simply turned on her heel and, without glancing back at him once, she made her way back toward the office. She remembered a conversation they’d had, when he’d said she’d never leave, said she couldn’t. A physical incapability. So she knew how she must look, with tears in her eyes and a beat-up heart. But this time she wouldn’t turn around; she was gone for good. He’d blown it.
“Glad to see you’ve finally come to your senses, Ally. Wasted months of your life, but at least you’ve made the right choice.”
Kate pulled up outside the hospital, a reassuring smile at the ready as she leaned to open the door for her little sister. She’d been patient, waiting around and praying she listened to her head and not her heart this time. Because when Allison followed what her heart said, it only ended in tears. Sometimes it was just better to be logical. Allison was a doctor too after all, and Kate was surprised it had taken her so long to come around to the idea that the ties with House were better broken for her own good. Some bridges really should be burned.
Cameron didn’t reply as she put the box containing everything from her desk into the backseat of her sister’s Lexus SUV. Kate was always one for turning heads, and her car was spotless. Despite the fact that she was possibly one of the most hands-on mums Cameron knew, her car was still immaculate. She didn’t know how her older sister managed it, and shook her head as Kate pulled out of the parking lot.
Sensing the tension in the younger woman’s whole posture, Kate chose not to ask how ‘finally resigning’ had gone. She couldn’t stand House, personally, but she knew it had to be hard if Cameron was in love with the guy, to finally accept that some things just weren’t meant to be.
The shrill ringing of a cell phone broke through the dense silence and Cameron fumbled for it with a sigh. Finding it was hers and seeing that it was Danny’s cell phone calling, she frowned, wondering what was so important that it couldn’t wait until she got back in less than five minutes.
“Dan, yeah it’s me…She’s…what?! Oh my God…yeah w-we’ll meet you there.”
She’d barely hung up the phone before Kate swerved into a U-turn and headed back to the hospital. The panic in her sister’s voice had made her stomach turn in knots and she didn’t even have to be told where to go.
“What’s happening, is Danny alright?”
Allison had a hand covering her mouth, clearly trying to contain her panic, and when she spoke her voice was shaking.
“It’s not Danny, it’s Faith. Sh-she’s passed out. He said she spiked a fever about five minutes ago for no apparent reason. He’s on the way to the hospital with her”
When they arrived, it was a blur of faces and fear. Cameron shoved past a few people in the lobby of the ER, wondering why she’d never noticed it was this crowded down here before. But she never went down to the ER, so why would she have noticed that? Diagnostics was pretty much dead – excuse the pun – compared to the bustle of the busy ER. Babies were crying, various people were coughing and spluttering, and one young couple who had obviously been in the midst of getting married were sitting huddled together in the corner, the groom holding a blood-drenched towel to a gash on his bride’s head. As if that wasn’t enough, someone was hysterically trying to get the attention of the already-hassled ER doctors. It was chaos. And Cameron’s passing thought was that she was sure glad she didn’t work in the ER. But her attention immediately focused on her daughter as she saw Danny, a terrified look on his face, a few hundred metres away clutching Faith to him as some nurses hurried over to help. Charlie was crying in his carry-chair, upset by the panic he had suddenly been whipped up into.
“That’s my little girl! L-let me through, I’m a doctor!”
Cameron charged through the masses of people waiting to be seen, who all yelled and protested to her pushing. Her heart was hammering in her chest, both adrenaline and blind fear surging through her as she tried to control herself enough to calmly get to Faith and Danny.
As she reached them, Faith’s tiny body began to shake and Cameron went into doctor-mode. The nurse, who recognised her, helped Cameron by clearing a bed and instantly moving Faith onto it. Cameron pulled off her little girl’s dress and turned her onto her side.
“It’s a febrile seizure, she’s gotta be 101 at least.”
She wasn’t sure how her voice sounded so steady and calm when she felt far from it. As painful and difficult as it was, she knew the only thing she could do was let Faith ride it out. Keeping a close eye on her breathing, but careful not to restrict her daughter’s alarming movements, Cameron counted the seconds. Kate was stood with Danny, both stood beside Cameron in silent support.
After a few endless minutes that seemed to last an eternity, Faith’s jerky movements began to dissipate until the little girl was completely still, in a deep sleep that did nothing to ease the panic.
Checking the baby’s body, Cameron felt her heart sink as she caught sight of the rash that could only have developed after 8am. It had definitely not been there earlier; otherwise Cameron would have noticed it.
Nothing was ever easy. She’d resigned less than half an hour ago and here she was, rushed back to Princeton-Plainsboro on completely different terms.
She wasn’t used to being on the receiving end of all of this. She hated the helpless feeling of her daughter being taken away from her once the seizure had stopped, as her own former co-workers – sort of, the ER staff were still co-workers even if she hadn’t worked there – began their routine tests to tell her if there was any serious underlying reason Faith had seized and developed a rash.
Wrapping her arms around herself, in some kind of symbolic effort to protect herself from any more heartache, Cameron paced the waiting room as she counted the minutes that passed until they came back with any news. Kate was sat watching her, knowing better than to try and calm her sister down. It would only end in hysterical yelling and tears. And that wouldn’t help anyone. She and Danny exchanged worried glances as Cameron stopped pacing and spoke, rapid-fire and anxious.
“They’ll test for meningitis, any infections and probably autoimmune disorders…they haven’t even taken a full clinical history -”
“Ally, they know what they’re doing. You know that, I know that. She had her check up last month, they’ll have the files from then. Has anything changed since?”
Reluctantly, Allison shook her head. She knew Kate was right, as always. She was the rational one; the one who had the frustrating ability to be calm no matter what the situation. She remembered ten years ago when Kate’s daughter Annaleise had developed a rash and the doctors had been quick to query meningitis. Luckily it hadn’t been though, and it turned out she was just allergic to pineapple. Throughout that whole ordeal, Kate had been the epitome of calm. Whilst her husband was panicking and coming up with a dozen different scenarios, Kate had sat calmly, distracting their twins Isaac and Aiden who had been too young to really know what was happening.
Cameron immediately turned to find Brenda – whom she couldn’t fail to recognise after apologising to her for House so many times after a particularly rude comment was aimed the nurse’s way – and silently pleaded that everything was fine and Faith was just allergic to something, praying her niece’s past experience that mimicked this would be repeated in Faith’s outcome.
“We’ve referred Faith upstairs for further tests,” and that’s when the spark of hope she’d been keeping alive was snuffed out, her legs going weak as Brenda continued, “We’ve done a CSF and sedated her but thankfully it doesn’t look like it’s meningitis. We haven’t ruled out an infection yet. If you want to see her, she’s upstairs in Paeds…we can change the attending right away if you like, but at the moment she’s under Dr. House…”
As if her day couldn’t get any worse. All hopes of completely avoiding seeing House again were now gone. And the sensitive nature of her child’s health would do nothing to stop him laying the cold sarcasm on thick and heavy, that was one thing she was sure of. But at the same time, she knew House was the best doctor the hospital had…choosing another attending just to prevent contact with him a) would risk her daughter’s life on the premise of her difficult history with House and b) would not guarantee that he wouldn’t seek her out once he found out she was back here anyway. She simply couldn’t get away from him.
“Didn’t you supposedly just ‘leave’? After that big grand exit, you’ve kind ruined the effect. Couldn’t stay away for more than a minute, Cameron?”
She’d expected the tormenting, the jabs at her apparent inability to actually leave for good no matter how many times she ‘resigned’. It was getting tired now.
But she was in no mood or state of mind to humour him. In this scenario she was the parent, not the doctor. And being qualified as such in no way helped her right now, because she wouldn’t be allowed to work on Faith’s case even if she attempted it. And the worst part was, she knew the stages House would be going through on that white board in the office, with Wilson and Foreman and her own look-alike who was still hanging around. Chase was disallowed access to the case too. After all, he was Faith’s father, and it didn’t matter what the technicalities were.
In her mind she could see so clearly the symptoms she knew would be scrawled on that white board. But as the parent, on the opposite side of it all to where she was used to being, she couldn’t be objective. Every possible diagnosis she came up with, mentally linking to the symptoms in her mind, she discounted simply because she couldn’t bear the thought that this could all end up being fatal.
But that wasn’t how life worked. Just because she refused to accept one of the fatal causes could be the diagnosis, it didn’t mean she really could discount it. And that scared the hell out of her. She was suddenly stripped of all her training and medical knowledge accumulated through the years, until she was pure and simply a mother terrified of losing her child.
“It’s not lupus, even though you probably already knew that, and we did a screen for routine ANA to rule out common auto-immunes. She’s on the higher end of normal for her LFT and we’ll keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t increase. C-reactive protein was relatively normal too so no infection, and cultures haven’t been very helpful yet either.”
His voice cutting through the quiet startled Cameron and she stood up, turning to face him. His lack of sarcasm somewhat surprised her but she decided not to question it. Faith was in her own room, attached to a feeding tube and under mild sedation whilst they carried out their battery of tests. And Cameron hadn’t left her daughter’s side in the past six hours.
It was difficult to ascertain new symptoms related to whatever this could be, from symptoms developed from birth defects, on a child who was already partially brain damaged from birth and had barely pulled through everything else that had already happened to her in the short six months of her life.
Cameron hadn’t been crying, but House could see the anguish in her eyes and the tears she hadn’t yet allowed to fall. He had to look away. He hated it when she got emotional, whatever the cause, because he never knew how to handle her. His instincts told him not to change in any way, to dish out the sarcasm and snark he was so used to throwing at her…but at the same time, part of him that he fought back fiercely, just wanted to make it all stop. He wanted to have the emotional capacity and strength to wrap her up in his arms and prevent anything else like this from slowly breaking her down. But he discounted that notion quickly, mentally scoffing at himself for such pathetic thoughts. Instead, he avoided eye contact and told her the facts and nothing else.
She needed more, but he couldn’t give it. She needed that reassurance that every mother needed when her child was rushed in to hospital. She simply needed him. But she wasn’t stupid enough to think she’d win this one. She’d given up now. After the various times she’d tried and failed, and even worse when she tried and actually found they made progress…only for them to backtrack the next day. It was messing with her head too much.
But something still seemed to be keeping her in Princeton. Every time she walked out, told him she was gone for good, something pulled her back, whether those circumstances where in her control or not. When she’d finally been all set to really leave, her own child dragged her back and suddenly she was trapped again. She couldn’t break the chain that seemingly kept her within a certain distance from House.
He was stood awkwardly between her and the door and when she made no move to reply other than to nod her head, he shuffled closer to the door, about to make his escape.
“Thank you. I feel better knowing you’re on this case…”
She didn’t know how to say it without sounding pathetic to him, and her gaze drifted up to meet his slowly. He gave a short nod in acceptance of her thanks, before leaving without another word.
It didn’t take long before Chase awkwardly slid open the door, his unease clear from the square set of his shoulders. She glanced back at him from her seat next to the crib and forced a small smile of greeting. He had every right to be there, Faith being his child as well, but to Cameron it was clear that he’d been waiting until House had left to enter the room.
He slowly walked over to her, reaching out and squeezing her arm, gently pulling her up to stand and wrapping his arms around her. His weren’t the arms she so desperately wanted around her right now, but they’d do. She let the tears that had been building up fall from her eyes as she buried her face into his shoulder. She was extracting comfort wherever she could get it. Kate and Stella had given her a bit of time alone with Faith but had promised to return later.
With too much time and too much silence forcing too many thoughts to bombard her mind, she was grateful for at least someone to act as her outlet, other than her sisters. He was trying to be soothing, rubbing circles on her back and keeping his arms tightly around her, but all she could think of was how much Faith had been through. And by proxy, how much she had been through alongside her.
Just as her tears were slowly subsiding, the monitors began to beep with increasing speed and Faith’s sharp cries shattered the silence of the room. Cameron pulled back from Chase’s embrace and their instincts took over. Ignoring the fact that they’d been banned from being on their daughter’s case, they were both still doctors and to act immediately was a response instilled in both of them out of their conscious control.
“O2 sats have dropped, heart rate increasing…”
Chase immediately put the oxygen mask over Faith’s mouth, even as the little girl struggled against it. After a moment the sats began to rise again, but Faith was still crying. Her eyes were moving rapidly and this only served to panic the little girl more. She was partially blind as it was, thanks to a difficult birth and further difficulties following it.
“Sh-she’s got nystagmus. And that’s a pain cry, Chase,” at his dubious glance she felt the need to back herself up, “I know her cries. I might just sound like a paranoid mother but I know her cries, ok? Six months of hearing them kinda makes me an expert. The last time she cried like that she’d crawled for the first time and gone headfirst into the coffee table.”
The memory made her smile sadly and Chase felt a pang of guilt and hurt that he’d missed that. Cameron had told him he could be involved with Faith if he wanted to be, but had made it perfectly clear that she wouldn’t be part of the family package. Their relationship was over and having a child together didn’t mean they could try again. She didn’t want it. And he’d had to accept that. As much as he wanted to get to know his little girl, it was still too awkward between himself and Cameron. Maybe when things had fully settled between them, when Faith was a little bit older, he could start being more involved.
But right now she had her sister and Danny there to help her. If they hadn’t been around, he would have stepped up to help her, but when he would most likely feel like a useless third wheel, he’d rather not cause the extra tension. And he still tensed when Danny was around too. He couldn’t help the possessive instinct that surged through him when he caught one of the lingering looks Danny had trained on Cameron. But he had to keep reminding himself that she simply wasn’t his anymore. Danny was a good father to Charlie, a good, constant male presence in Faith’s life and a good friend to Cameron, so what more could he hope for, for her?
Still, missing moments like Faith’s first smile, her first word, her first step…they were things he’d never be able to treasure the memory of and it saddened him. It made him wish that things could have been different for them; that he and Cameron could have tried harder to work things out. But it never really stood a chance anyway. He saw the way she still looked at House, and deep down he knew she’d never really loved him. What was the use in trapping her in a relationship she’d only end up resenting?
“So we add ‘difficulty breathing’ and ‘nystagmus’ to the board. Any suggestions, duckies? Oh and mommy is certain her little sweetheart’s crying indicates pain.”
The tone of his voice clearly scathing, House leaned heavily on his cane, keeping his eyes trained on the marred white board before him, symptoms scrawled onto its surface and mocking him with promises of hidden answers. A diagnosis that he needed this time. This patient should be just another face in the crowd, another sick baby whining and taking up time he could be spending dodging clinic hours and tormenting Cuddy…but it mattered this time. The outcome mattered because Cameron mattered.
Foreman and Wilson exchanged quick glances, the token brunette across the table from them oblivious to their instant analysis of their boss. Dr. Kendall was a well-qualified Immunologist but no one could ignore that her speciality was not the only resemblance between Kendall and Cameron. Foreman had pulled House up on it straight away when he found out who’d been hired to cover Cameron’s maternity leave. Not that House had listened or cared. He’d sharply and succinctly said who he hired was not up to Foreman, and so what if he was replacing lobby art with lobby art? It wasn’t as if Kendall was going to be around very long as it was, with Cameron being such a workaholic.
None of them had factored in that Kendall could end up being a permanent piece to adorn the Diagnostics floor. None of them had accounted for the fact that Cameron might not return. So none of them had really bothered to get to know Kendall that well. She still felt like an outsider, trespassing in territory that someone else’s presence still lingered in. But she was confident in her own abilities and her discomfort around House, unsure of how to handle his derisive and abrasively rude manner, didn’t hinder her medical skills.
“It could be Wallenberg’s.”
Kendall pointed out. Tilting his head to the side, House continued to look at the board, tapping the pen incessantly on the metallic rim as his mind whirred.
“It could be Wall-”
“I heard you.”
House cut her off sharply as she began to repeat her suggestion, and she quickly closed her mouth, dropping her gaze to the table. Foreman and Wilson barely blinked. To them, such discourteous interruption and blatant disregard for her idea was nothing out of the ordinary. They were used to it. She, however, was not. Over the months that Cameron had been away she’d grown more accustomed to it, mostly out of necessity to refrain from either slapping him or bursting into tears, but he still delivered stinging emotional backhands quite often. She didn’t know what she was supposed to have done to get this kind of treatment right from the get-go, and she’d been so very close to resigning so many times already, but she was still standing and determined not to let him beat her.
“Well it’d explain the nystagmus and the difficulty breathing. Autoimmune problems would also account for the rash she presented with.”
“But you’re an immunologist, so you are going to cry ‘autoimmune!’ The kid’s already screwed up from a…difficult pregnancy and birth. Add an autoimmune to the list and they’d have chucked her away with the trash long ago if this was Nazi Germany.”
Kendall didn’t know the entire case notes painfully by heart like the others did. She wasn’t aware of who Faith’s mother was in relation to House and the rest of the team…and she certainly didn’t have any kind of clue as to the seriousness of what mother and child had been through, when House said ‘difficult pregnancy’.
“Blood tests for D-Dimer and Coags, and I want an MRI on the littlest Cameron. Rule out pulmonary embolism and any other problems with the heart or clotting. Oh, and test the CSF again, it’ll still be in the lab, but this time check for viral encephalitis or a subarachnoid. Go.”