Stolen Cinderella - Chapter 20 Part 2
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Nov. 23rd, 2008 | 04:00 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.”
And here's part 2!
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
“How’s she doing?”
Cameron looked up and managed to offer a weak smile to Danny as he slowly entered the room. The worry was as clear on his face as it was on hers. Over the months he’d become a kind of surrogate father to Faith, the only constant male figure in her life, in the same way that she had become the maternal figure for Charlie. Nothing had happened between Danny and Cameron, but there was always the subtext that they never quite got round to addressing. Cameron never seemed to recognise it existed, but he certainly felt it every single time.
He was careful, almost cautious, with her, still. After finding out about her ordeal months ago, she could tell he half expected her to freak out at any given moment. But she’d become a lot better at handling panic attacks now. She still had the medication at home, did she need it, but she’d so far managed to get three panic attacks under control without resorting to the drugs. That in itself made her feel much more confident in her ability to manage, and Danny backed her up every step of the way.
He’d witnessed a few of her near misses when it came to panic attacks. But he’d also watched her progression into controlling and dealing with them when they arose. He’d never admit it to her, but he’d definitely fallen hard for Allison Cameron. And as much as he thought he’d had it well hidden, Kate seemed to pick up on every little glance, every lingering hug and the way his smile would be that much brighter if she was the cause.
Sometimes, as sad and pathetic as it seemed to him, Danny would often find himself pretending there was something more than a very close friendship between them, imagining waking up beside her every morning and raising their kids together…a family. Just like he’d always dreamed. After Julianna, he’d been so sure he’d never love another woman like that again. She’d been his fire, his reason to get up in the morning. And what scared him was that gradually, almost undetected in its progress, he’d come to feel close to that with Cameron.
Every time he came close to bringing up the subject of ‘maybe we should make this something’, they got sidetracked, or he chickened out. There was never the perfect moment, and he needed it to be right.
When she’d mentioned to him that she was considering going back home to Wisconsin, he was sure part of his heart, whatever was left after Julianna died, had broken and he felt his stomach churn in a way he hadn’t since waiting for news of Charlie’s birth.
And what had terrified him even more was the fact that before he’d even thought about the implications, words had been passing his lips.
“We’ll come with you. A new start for all of us would probably be the best thing in the world that we could do.”
And she’d been just as shocked at him as he was at himself. She had been astounded that he would leave the little family he had in New Jersey, the secure job he loved, to move halfway across the country to a state he was completely unfamiliar with. But what struck him was how blind she was. It didn’t even hit her that he’d move because of his feelings for her, because he couldn’t bear to lose her.
“They’re still testing her for whatever crazy diagnosis House comes up with-”
Danny sat beside her on the arm of the chair, his hand finding hers as he gave it a reassuring squeeze. She let out a shaky breath and returned the gesture, her eyes remaining on her daughter. It was almost becoming routine now that some terrifying ordeal would follow them around, and as Faith’s monitor began to speed up again, Cameron jumped up, once again unable to separate doctor from mother. Faith’s cheeks were red and she was hyperventilating, unable to breathe.
House, with Foreman and Kendall in tow, had just entered the room moments before the respiratory attack, and Foreman was intubating the six-month-old patient before House even had time to make a snarky comment about Danny’s presence. It grated on him that the man was still a part of Cameron’s life, but really he knew it was only down to his own shortcomings that Danny was sticking around.
“So we can add respiratory failure to our nice little list?”
He didn’t even seem to care that things were getting more and more serious for Faith. The machine she’d been attached to was breathing for her and silent tears were streaking tracks down Cameron’s cheeks. She couldn’t bear to look, turning away to find Danny’s arms already circling her, pulling her to him as though trying to protect her from it all. To anyone on the outside looking in, they appeared to be just another young couple terrified of losing their child.
House’s face darkened and he tore his gaze from the two, jealousy coursing through him at Danny’s ability to so easily show Cameron affection and comfort. She needed that, and he wasn’t an affectionate kind of guy. She knew it, he knew it; hell, everyone knew it. Yet at this moment, when he actually felt the desire to hold her like that, he knew that the only way he could help ease that pain would be to solve this puzzle. And that was a win-win situation. He got to pour all his energy into a case, obsess about it without anyone so much as blinking, and he would be providing more relief to Cameron than Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Italian could with his affection and endless comforting words.
“Cameron, we need a kidney biopsy. I don’t think I need to explain the ins and outs.”
Cameron turned out of Danny’s embrace, regarding House carefully through hazy, tear-filled eyes, and sighed softly, arms folded in her own self-preservative action.
“You’re testing her renal functions on the basis of respiratory failure? What grounds do you have for me to agree to you taking a piece of my daughter’s kidneys? ‘Higher end of normal’ LFT results don’t indicate full-blown renal failure, House.”
She sounded a lot stronger than he’d expected, though his surprise was contained well.
“And if her DNA was 'higher end of normal' she'd be a dolphin. Let me do this.”
He kept an intense gaze trained on her, silently asking why she felt a need to ask, when half of his ideas were seemingly unfounded yet always yielded some kind of answers. And she'd always trusted him before, so why should that change now? Because this time the patient was her own daughter? That should be more of a reason for her to trust him implicitly, in his mind. But on the other hand, the fact that this was her daughter and not some random patient played the main role in why she was questioning him. And as much as he had no clue what unconditional protective love was like to experience, he could understand what she must be feeling.
Defeated, her shoulders slumped and she nodded wearily, the strain of it all weighing heavy on her.
“Just…find out what’s wrong with her, House. Please don’t let this be one of the puzzles that you can’t fix…”
He broke his gaze away from her, the desperation in her voice slicing through him. His eyes flickered to rest on the baby, attached to various different monitors, her chest rising and falling in rhythm with the ventilator.
“We’ll do a CT as well, just to rule out possible stroke.”
“I just need some reassurance on this one. I need to hear from someone else that I’m doing the right thing.”
Cameron didn’t even say hello as she entered Wilson’s office, startling him a little as the door flew open in her wake. Her eyes were still red and her cheeks damp from anxious tears but she didn’t care. She was past the point of being bothered if mascara was staining her cheeks.
Wilson slowly put his pen down; pushing aside the files he was working on and folding his hands atop the desk. Even without an explanation, he understood. He’d heard Cameron’s situation already. Word travelled faster than disease in this hospital after all. He gestured to his sofa and Cameron didn’t hesitate, closing the door and making her way to the welcoming comfort of the sofa and dropping heavily down onto it, as though all the weight in the world was on her shoulders and she was struggling to carry it.
Pausing a moment to study the understandable fear and worry on Cameron’s face, torment playing over her features, he made his way round his desk and sat beside her. She immediately crumbled, covering her face with her hands as she rode out the emotions. They came in waves, crescendos of blinding fear swirling beneath the surface that she usually managed to keep behind the mask she’d learned to perfect over the years.
He reached for her, arms circling her as her tiny body trembled, his hands rubbing soothing circles on her back as Chase had done earlier, but Wilson was less awkward with the action, no uneasy, still-raw history creating a canyon between them. He was attempting to comfort in the only way he could right now. She needed to let it out before she could reasonably talk things through.
As her sobs subsided, she managed a grateful smile as he let go of her. Grasping her hand, he looked earnestly back at her and spoke carefully.
“You’re doing the right thing. House is brilliant, and you know that as well as anyone. Better than anyone in fact. If he has some whacked out idea…just let him run with it. Try to be objective, Cameron. I know that’s nearly impossible when it’s your own child, but if you can separate medical from personal, you’ll get through this. And Faith is going to get through it. After everything you’ve both been through already, you’ve seen how strong she is. She takes after her mother on that one.”
He smiled softly, giving her hand a squeeze and she sighed with a weariness she’d accrued over the past year of continual and taunting hardship. It just seemed to be one thing after the other.
“It’s like it’s not enough that she’s partially blind and brain damaged…things just keep…happening. And I feel completely useless. What kind of mother am I if I can’t even protect my child after everything she’s already suffered because of me?”
She knew her thoughts weren’t rational. But she was going through the stages. She’d already been through denial long ago. She’d had to get past that quickly. And then the anger had assaulted her. Why her? Why did everything go wrong in her life? What had she ever done that was so bad? And if she really was such a bad person, why did House constantly shoot her down for being ‘too nice’? She hadn’t been able to answer her own questions, and nobody had simply handed the answers over. It wasn’t that simple.
Guilt had accompanied the anger and she was riding this out as best she could. It was lucid in its passing, as though she knew which stage she was in, as though she could see the light at the end of each stage’s tunnel. Right now, she was stuck in the terrible limbo of anger and despair. There was nothing she could physically do to help Faith. Banned from involvement in her daughter’s case for ethics sake (though since when did House care about ethics?) all she could do was stand and watch. Helpless on the sidelines. The anger and despair were tearing her apart and she was simply praying for acceptance to arrive soon.
“You know none of this is your fault, Cameron. I don’t even need to tell you that, because deep down you know that none of what you went through was in any way down to you. And none of what’s happened to Faith is your fault either.”
She was staring absently out of the window, as though her eyes were trained on some invisible angel perched high on a cloud, watching over everything and keeping Faith from any more harm.
“Every time…” her voice hitched and she swallowed the lump in her throat, “Every time I try to leave this place…something always drags me back. I need to get away from here.”
There was an edge to her voice, a quiet and simmering determination that was blurred and yet sharpened at the same time by the current anguish she was drowning in. He regarded her carefully.
“The hurt won’t just go away because you leave, y’know. You’ll still be a single mom and Faith will still have the problems she has-”
“I’ve already had this lecture, Wilson. ‘At least everyone here knows; at least you don’t have to pretend with us; at least we know you’. I know how that song goes; I’ve heard it plenty. But if I go, I won’t have the constant reminder of…how it came to this. I’ll have people around me who actually do give a damn without being clouded by the fact that I was raped,”
There was a flat edge to her voice, as though she was distancing herself from her words to make them hurt her less.
“No offence, that wasn’t directed at you. I get the sympathetic looks and the ‘how are you today, Dr. Cameron?’ as though they expect me to break down right in front of them. I know they mean well, but it tears me down a bit every time I feel the stares and every time I hear the whispers and the rumours of nurses betting on how long it’ll be before I turn up to work with a semi-automatic and take everyone out. I need to get out of this place. And I need to be away from…him. Too much has happened and there’s too much we can’t get past. It’s better if I just give up this fight.”
Wilson frowned. House hadn’t mentioned anything to him about Cameron; at least not in the past few weeks. When she’d first been found after…the incident (as they tactfully referred to it as now), he’d been sure House was on the verge of finally confronting his feelings for Cameron. In fact, that had been the Bet of the Month with the nurses. Everyone had been sure he’d crack and finally some kind of admission would slip from him, one secret out of many to finally see the light. But they hadn’t gained any kind of gratification with their bet and it was still unruled. If anything had ever happened, the nurses were still in the dark, much to their annoyance. Wilson had the nagging feeling Stacy’s presence had made his walls instinctively go up again.
So for him to now hear that some of the rumours surging through the gossip mill might have had some actual relevance and truth shocked Wilson. The way she’d said it, it definitely sounded as though something had happened between her and House. So why hadn’t House told him? It wasn’t something he’d usually keep from his best friend. Unless it meant more to him than he would ever have been willing to admit.
“House…already tried to convince me to stay, in his special way that comes out more as a string of insults. I shot him down. He backed off. I was finally leaving, for real and not just as an idle threat, and…this happens.”
“Well, I think he’s right. You shouldn’t leave. You think this is a rational choice, you think the worst is over. And then, six months later you look back and you realize…you didn’t know what you were doing.”
She remained quiet for a moment, her eyes holding his as she searched for some kind of comfort that he was withholding right now.
“Are you saying this pain won’t go away?”
“It might get easier to handle. With time everything does. But it won’t be in two months, probably not in two years. Sure, you’ll have your sisters, your parents…that might help. Then again it might not. You could talk to them, maybe that will help. I mean, they'll understand, with everything you've gone through, how hard it all is for you.”
She dropped her gaze, guilt simmering beneath a weary surface. He looked at her incredulously.
“They don't know? You haven't told them? Cameron, they're your family-”
“And you don't know what my family are like!” Her voice was shrill and he could tell this was a touchy subject. He didn't know why and now probably wasn't the best time to go into it, “My family don't talk about problems. We repress it all and we don't ever consider therapy because, well, why tell a stranger your problems when you can use them to hurt the ones you have the problems with?!”
There was a deafening silence for a moment, Cameron's ragged intakes of breath the only sound in the room breaking the tension. Wilson finally met her eyes. He decided to steer that subject away from her outburst and back to the main issue.
“But the pain of raising a brain damaged and blind child isn't going to go away, and you need your family to help you through it if you're going to leave here. If they don't know why Faith's got the problems she has, how can they really help you? What's not going to change is how hard it is, if they know or not, whether you leave or not. What’s not going to change is how you feel when you look at her and remember everything that’s happened. You can live round the corner, or you can live five hundred miles from here…that won’t alter your memories. Something will always remind you and trigger them.”
He looked away, training his eyes on the files on his desk. This wasn’t a pleasant conversation. But it had to be said.
“I see this every week, Cameron. I diagnose terminal cancer and I see the stages. I see the kind of pain, anger, resentment, and fear in you that I see in them. Some of them try to run. But you can’t outrun this. This is like your cancer. It’s not going to kill you, but it’s causing the same symptoms.”
“I-I need to do something.”
She swallowed hard, the lump in her throat back again and refusing the move.
“Then do it. But don’t think it’s the right choice, because…there isn’t one.”
“What are the results?”
“Are you her parent? No. I’m not discussing this with you. Where’s Cameron?”
House had entered Faith’s room to find Danny anxiously sat on the chair, hands clasped in front of him as he rested his elbows on his knees. Charlie was fast asleep in his carry-chair beside his father, looking as though not even an atom bomb exploding could wake him up. As the door was pushed open, Danny rose to his feet; an expectant and hopeful look on his face. He’d been there for two hours now and was as eager for any news as Cameron was.
“Allison just stepped out about a quarter of an hour ago. She should be back in a minute,” he frowned, looking back at Faith and then finding House’s gaze again, “I’m practically her father, why can’t you tell me what’s going on?”
This caused a surge of contempt to course through House and he stepped forward, into Danny’s personal space. He didn’t like the guy, never had. And he didn’t like the way he was apparently so close to Cameron that he considered himself ‘practically Faith’s father’. It grated too, how it struck him how much of a happy little family they appeared to be, with the two kids and the shared concern.
“She’s not your kid and Cameron’s not yours either. Results are confidential. You’re not suddenly granted a free pass just because you’re hot for the kid’s mom.”
Danny was taken aback by the venom in House’s voice, and his eyes widened as the words sank in. It suddenly occurred to him that he clearly wasn't the only one who was ‘hot for’ Cameron, as House had so nicely put it. There were definitely some tacit feelings hidden underneath the acerbic surface of this man and he couldn’t help but wonder if he had something to do with why Cameron had suddenly wanted to pack up and leave so quickly. Had something happened between them? That thought shouldered its way through Danny’s mind and caused a feeling of disquiet to settle over him.
He’d seen them interact before and, though he’d never really pinpointed it then, never having any reason to think there was more than just a professional relationship between them, he distinctly remembered the awkward ease they had between them, the tense discernment that they shared, which only they could relate to and everyone else outside their invisible realm was oblivious to it until it was pointed out. It was a kind of strained understanding of boundaries and perhaps emotions that ran deeper than what they would allow themselves to acknowledge.
“Dr. House...I don't know what you think is going on, but I'm not insinuating that Allison and I are...involved. We're very close, but...there's nothing else going on,” he said it carefully, trying to hide the strain in his voice that would give away how much he so wished there was something going on with her.
House steadied an intense gaze on him for a few endless moments and Danny could almost see the wheels in his head turning. But no emotion passed across his face to betray whatever he'd concluded.
It was that moment that Cameron chose to reappear, her mouth opened to speak as she walked through the door, but closing instantly as she saw the two men, toe-to-toe, in the middle of the room. She shot House a warning glance, hoping he hadn't already been too abusive. Danny looked a mixture of surprised and confused, which made Cameron wonder what exactly was going on.
Her tone clearly signalled that she was in no mood for any abrasive or sarcastic behaviour from him. He said nothing and not even a flicker of feeling passed over his features as he took a step back from Danny. But that was enough for Cameron and she sighed, shaking her head.
“I'm assuming you're here with some results? Probably results that say her renal function has nothing to do with this.”
There was a determined capability behind her weariness that belied a fragile surface, which made her look as though she would break at any second. But she never did. She always fought on, never backed down. She had an inner strength that even House admired...silently, of course.
He looked over at the child sleeping, breathing with the aid of the ventilator, before finding her eyes again. He wouldn't tell her she was right...because she wasn't. After the respiratory attack earlier, it hadn't been good news. Faith had developed an arrhythmia, so he'd sent Kendall off to check ECGs and chest X-rays of the child. The liver functions had increased again and he was puzzling the pieces together slowly but surely.
They were keeping an eye on her heart too, which is why they'd almost anticipated the cardiac arrest that screamed through the air and shattered the tension between Danny, House and Cameron. Danny held Cameron back, keeping her enough distance away from the bed that she was straining to be closer to her daughter. But there was no good she could do crowding the bed. Nurses had rushed in and House was delivering shocks via the defibs. It was painful to watch, the baby's body jerking helplessly as the electrical currents passed through her.
It was at the point when they were sure they'd lost her, when one last shock suddenly silenced the room for a moment and the heart monitor showed a relatively normal heartbeat.
Cameron almost collapsed with relief, grateful that Danny was supporting her as her legs gave way. She'd been so terrifyingly close to losing her child and the thought made her dizzy. House replaced the defibrillators, leaving the nurses to tend to the baby as he turned back to Cameron.
“We'll check for clots, make sure that won't keep happening. Can't be much fun to nearly die. If it is a clot we'll go in and make sure it's just a slow bus in the centre lane and not a ten-car pileup-”
Danny looked utterly baffled by the metaphor but Cameron distinctly remembered him using that one before. As she kept her gaze on him, the look dawned on his face that she knew very well. Realisation. Her heart skipped a beat and she pulled out of Danny's arms, moving closer to House, standing right in front of him with eyes full of the naïve hope that he could still save the world. Or, at least, her world.
But he didn't give her an explanation; limping towards the door with that look of sheer single-mindedness he had when he knew he'd cracked it. Now she was just praying it wouldn't be something terminal.
“She has Reye's Syndrome.”
Kendall had been the one sent to deliver the news and Cameron almost felt sorry for her. She'd been thrown right into the middle of this and had no clue of anything preceding her arrival. All she knew was that Faith wasn't just any patient and Cameron meant something to all of them, perhaps most significantly to House, despite the fact that he'd never verbally acknowledged it, at least not in Kendall's presence.
Cameron's hands covered her mouth as she took in what she was being told. She'd been a doctor longer than Kendall had and she didn't need Reye's Syndrome explaining to her, but she shockwaves that were rippling through her caused her to sit silently as Kendall spoke.
“-We looked at her full body scans again and when we'd re-tested her brain we'd noticed mild encephalopathy. That kept increasing but we've managed to stem the encephalitis and luckily we slowed it in time. Her heart wasn't throwing clots like we'd initially thought but her brain was. A clot had caused the seizures earlier. The first seizure was febrile but after that the clots caused a lot of the symptoms. Dr. Cameron...I know you're a doctor so I don't need to explain this but...there's no definitive cure for this. There are treatments, and we've already started her on intravenous IV-G solution and fluids. With those she should recover brilliantly, but along with her other...problems...”
Her calm was unnerving. She'd even unsettled herself with how steady her voice came out, when inside she was slowly breaking, piece by piece. Danny was stood beside the chair, squeezing her shoulder supportively, as Kate and Stella stood at the end of Faith's bed, silently taking in the news.
After Kendall left, the four adults remained silent, the diagnosis still hanging in the air between them, punctuated by the steady beeping from Faith's heart monitor.
“We'll give you some time with her, Ally.”
Kate said softly, finally dragging them back to their harsh reality. Danny and Stella both nodded, cautiously making their way toward the door as Cameron just stared into space, her elbows resting on her knees. She didn't even seem to hear them, their words swimming through her mind but seeming incoherent to her right now.
Alone in the room with just her daughter, Cameron stood on shaking legs and leaned heavily on the child's bed, looking down with shining eyes at the little girl sleeping peacefully. They'd never had it easy and it didn't look as if they ever would.
Every second in this place seemed to force upon them another affliction of cruelty. It was suffocating her, reminding her with each passing second that this was her life now and no matter what she did, no matter how 'nice' she was, the brunt of a cold world seemed to fall upon her and her daughter.
But perhaps Wilson was right. After all, she couldn't talk to her parents about what had happened to her, or Faith. She'd be hiding and dodging questions and when the truth finally came out, which it would eventually if she was around her very persuasive and forceful mother long enough, then it would only make things ten times worse.
And there it was, the eternal tug-of-war her emotions were raging on her every minute of the day. It was only intensified by the fact that she'd almost lost her child in this mess.
At least here she had Danny. Even when her sisters left to finally return to their families at home, he'd still be here. But then again he'd been willing to move with her. Though, what good would that do if they were both hiding her secret? The godforsaken secret that would tear her family apart. She couldn't ask that of Danny. She had no right.
So, maybe for now she would stay. Maybe for now she could try to sort the tatters of her life out and then when things were settled down she could move back home, with Danny and Charlie too. After all, if she had a man with her, it would certainly distract her mother enough for incessant questions to be sidetracked for a little while. If she took home a man who wasn't visibly and overtly 'damaged' in some way, that would definitely deflect her mother's interrogation for a while.
And once again here she was, back at square one. She was staying in Princeton. But she made a silent vow to herself, that if one more thing tipped the scales, she was gone. She was leaving and not even Wilson's arguments could sway her. That was a reasonable compromise, right?