a/n: This is it! The final chapter. The fluff is back as promised. This chapter is Pamela/Foreman, Chase/Cameron centric.
"I was surprised to hear from you Pamela."
Pamela plastered on her best insincere smile for her belligerent guest. "Why Jerry, so glad you could come. Can I get you a beverage?"
"Will it take time?"
"A few minutes, yes."
"Then forget it. Go on."
Pamela shrugged and took a seat behind her desk, handing him her prepared report in the process. The first page contained the 'cut-to-the-chase' summary that all execs loved to see. His face wrinkled in confusion.
"You're only cutting loose two physicians. Why these two? Their bottom lines are good."
"They are up on ethics violations charges, in which one has already pleaded guilty. We don't need that in our network."
"So underperformers get a pass?"
"For now, yes. If we truly want to be committed to quality community based health care, we need to start with our physicians. We treat them well, they treat the community well. I found that the main problems with most practices were soaring malpractice premiums and shrinking reimbursement rates. Good doctors are leaving the business, yet we are screaming over a shortage of reliable doctors. I bullet pointed for you my ideas for improvement on page 3."
Jerry flipped to page three and read the recommendations. His blank reaction didn't indicate either way if he liked or disliked what he saw. "You want a liaison staff?"
"Yes, these people would be responsible for building communication between the doctors and administration and creating assistance programs. They will offer training and education on new advancements, help with collections for delinquent accounts, negotiate group rates on malpractice premiums, and collect input from the various practices on reimbursement issues when its time to negotiate new contract rates. I know that won't work for Medicare or Medicaid, but every bit we can negotiate will help."
"What makes you think we have such bargaining power?"
Pamela scoffed. "Don't give me that. Our physicians as well as I do know that Trinity has a major enough presence where these companies need to do business with us. We are even powerful enough to lobby state lawmakers into passing favorable malpractice legislation as well. We are not the helpless victims here. If doctors in our network still don't choose to cooperate or work with us, then we can cut them loose. But let's at least give them a chance."
Jerry leafed through the remaining packet, skimming over the data provided. He put the papers down. "Okay."
Jerry stood up. "Yep, we do it your way."
"Don't you want to review the supporting numbers and all the pretty charts I prepared?"
"Nope, I trust you."
Pamela knew she shouldn't be surprised by this, but she was floored. "Okay, since you are being agreeable, there's one more thing. I can't be your assistant and run this hospital. Lisa maybe out of her coma, but she'll be spending the next few months in a rehab facility, and she'll have to work her way back slowly. You need to hire someone new."
"Great, pick what job you want, and I'll hire someone else."
"I get to choose?"
"Those are decisions I usually defer to my assistant."
Pamela couldn't come up with anything clever to say. "Can I think about it?"
"Sure, have at it. The faster you decide though, the faster you get some help."
Pamela held out her hand to shake his goodbye. "As usual Jerry, it's been an experience."
He casually shrugged and left.
The stress from the past few months was taking its toll. Foreman and Pamela had a rare day off, and chose to do something simple to get away from it all. Both were a little weathered from being the only solid rocks in a pool of insanity. They loaded themselves into Foreman's BMW and went for a nice relaxing drive. It was a sunny day, the birds were singing, the butterflies were fluttering, and Pamela just couldn't think of any other example to describe what a freaking beautiful day it was.
Normal people liked to drive in the country and take in the tranquil rolling hills or go to the ocean and feel the cool refreshing breeze hit them in the face. They were different. They liked patrolling the upscale suburbs. They were looking for Tony Soprano's house. They didn't really know what they would do once they found it, but it was a fun idea at the time.
"Plenty of eye candy," Pamela said joyfully over the rows of immaculate designed homes with their lush, landscaped lawns. "Oh, a golf course community. Let's see what's there."
Foreman laughed at the idea, but pulled in for fun. "Plenty of golf cart crossings." No golf carts though, since it was still too early in the season.
"Yeah, I'd rather hang out in that clubhouse there." To the right was a 19th century style colonial with ornate grandeur that overlooked a large man-made pond, tennis courts, and a swimming area. Once they passed that complex, they were barraged by one luxurious and prestigious home after another. Some were mansions, most were large homes, but all were elaborate in their own unique way.
"Stop the car!" Pamela ordered.
"What's wrong?" Foreman asked, freaked out by her sudden outburst.
In front of one of more eye-appealing homes in the neighborhood was a big 'For Sale' sign and another sign too, the one that got Pamela's attention. 'Open House.'
"Come on, let's go inside and pretend we're rich people searching for a new home. Aren't you dying to see what's inside?"
Foreman gave the home a scrutinizing look. "We don't need to pretend. We aren't exactly poor." Pamela's un-approving glare told him that wasn't the right answer. "Okay, why not? It seems nice, and they are setting themselves up for all types of crackpots with an open house."
"Want to bet we'll be hounded since we're black?"
"I'm pulling up in a BMW, they have to know we have status."
"$100 bucks that honky in there thinks we stole it," Pamela challenged.
"You're the best wife a man could ask for." Chase knew sinking to giving compliments was low, but he didn't know how else to get her to calm down.
"Bite me." Cameron replied, heading down the hall toward Pamela's office.
"You know how important this is to me. I'm pleased that you're willing to compromise."
She stopped and turned around in a fury. "Compromise! I've been doing a lot of that lately. It's bad enough I just traded my fuel efficient car for the gas guzzling mini-van. I feel like a damn soccer mom."
"How can you relate the two things? They don't even compare."
Cameron gave him the evil eye before opening Pamela's door without knocking. Foreman was there with her, and both knew when a disagreement was in session. They gave her a cautious greeting.
Cameron placed the small envelope in front of Pamela. Chase stood behind her, showing his approval over her follow through on her commitment.
"What's this?" Pamela asked with excitement, noticing it was the size of an invitation. She opened it before she even got an answer. "A Christening?"
"Yep." Cameron replied, showing her lack of enthusiasm.
Foreman laughed. "At the Catholic Church nonetheless. You found one to do it even though Cameron's agnostic?"
"I associate with a liberal branch of the Catholic church," Chase answered. "All the rituals with none of the uptight rules. A child is never turned away for Baptism in this church."
Foreman turned to Cameron. "How in the world did he convince you to do this?"
"He threatened to divorce me. Apparently it wasn't negotiable."
"Ah, the spirit of compromise in marriage. Ain't that a bitch?" Pamela teased.
"That's not the only thing," Cameron bitterly replied. "Apparently, these Catholics, even the supposedly liberal ones, require we have godparents."
"These Catholics?" Chase exclaimed. "We're hardly a cult. Godparents are a sensible idea."
Pamela and Foreman looked at each other. She was smiling, he was dreading what was coming next.
Cameron hoped Pamela and Foreman would accept without her asking, but they weren't taking the bait. "Would you both do us-"
"We'd love to," Pamela answered without hesitation. Foreman looked at her like she was nuts. He actually thought about the awesome responsibility involved. "Will they allow non-Catholic Godparents?"
"Yep. Christians will do." Chase answered.
Pamela looked at the date on the card. "Oh Eric, it's six weeks from now. This is one of the possible dates."
He looked at the invitation. "That's the date then."
Chase and Cameron both looked at them confused.
"We have an announcement of our own to make." Foreman said proudly. "We were planning a party for around then, so we can do it that day to celebrate the Christening as well."
"Will our guests and yours fit in your town home?" Chase wasn't sure how their idea would work.
"It won't be at the town home. It will be at our new home." Pamela replied.
"You bought a new house?" Cameron was surprised.
"More like a 4,000 square foot estate in a country club community, but you could call it a house."
Chase and Cameron's jaws both dropped. "Why?" They asked in unison.
"We saw it at an open house, but it turned out the house was up for auction because it was seized by the feds. We ended up outbidding everyone and still walking away with a steal." Foreman bragged.
"Seized by the feds? Cameron asked. "Uh, did it involve some mobster who was whacked?"
Pamela laughed. "Oh, you watch too much Sopranos. They weren't mobsters, they were drug dealers. Anyway, would you allow us the honor of throwing you a party?"
"How are you planning throw a party and be godparents at a Christening in the same day?"
"It will be a fully catered event. We just have to be there in time to greet guests."
"Well then," Chase answered, "as long as you accept, so do we."
Cameron couldn't object. "I'm going to be in a church and a country club estate on the same day. It can be my personal seventh circle of hell."
"Then we're all set!" Pamela replied, sealing the deal.
They left the house ten minutes ago, and Cameron still hadn't said a word. She frowned while looking outside the window, still in a pout over having to do this.
Chase wasn't sure what to say. In the back of his mind he knew that they would face situations like this ever since they said 'I do', but there were some sacraments he couldn't ignore. "You've got to admit, they look adorable in their outfits."
Cameron couldn't argue that. She let out a smile. "I did have fun shopping for them. I just got annoyed every time to clerks told me how blessed this damn event was."
"It's a lovely ceremony. You'd be surprised."
"I'm going to be the only one in that cathedral that will not understand the significance of what's happening, and it's happening with my children. Pardon me if I'm not pleased."
"We've been through this already. Baptism of infants is a purification of their souls. They are granted strength and safety as they are accepted in front of family and the entire congregation into His mystical body. I'm not saying the kids have to be raised Catholic or start going to church every Sunday. They just need to be taken into God's protection."
"This means a lot to me."
She toned down her defiant attitude. "I know, that's why I agreed to do it. I just don't have to like it, that's all."
They pulled into the church parking lot. Chase leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "You may not understand, but in a strange way they will, and it will carry significance for the rest of their lives. Try to be open to it."
"I will." She saw Foreman and Pamela at the entrance. "Come on, our public awaits."
For a lifelong Catholic, even if he was a fallen one, this was a moment he'd always wished for. Chase could recite some of the Baptismal prayers from memory, and to hear them spoken for his own children gave him overwhelming joy.
He held up well when Pamela and Foreman presented two white silk handkerchiefs as vesture, and during the presentation and exorcism. Every word of the liturgy was riveting to him, as well as the symbolism throughout the sacrament.
To this end is the sacrament of holy Baptism ordained, that in His name the Church may give welcome and blessing to them that is newly come into this world of pilgrimage, and that their souls may dwell in a body purified from the taint of evil and set apart for the service of almighty God.
He was so pleased to see Allison smiling at times. He hoped she would feel all the joy in the room over their babies being received into the kingdom of God. A tear or two slipped by him during the first anointment. The priest took the oil to his right thumb and made crosses at their throats and the nape of their necks, and then did the two signs of the cross over their entire bodies, one front and one back.
"In the Name of Christ our Lord, I anoint thee with oil for safeguarding, may His holy Angel, go before thee, and follow after thee, may he be with thee in thy downsitting and thine uprising and keep thee in all thy ways."
By the time the priest got to the Baptism, it occurred to Chase that the children were doing so well. That was about to change.
"Emily Amanda Chase, I baptize the in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
He poured the water on her head and forehead three times while Pamela held her over the basin. Emily broke into a furious cry, which set off her brother before it was even his turn.
Foreman stepped up with Ethan next.
"Ethan Christopher Chase, I baptize the in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
Since he was already crying, the water only made it worse. Chase laughed slightly over the precious moment and turned to find Cameron doing the same. Pamela and Foreman eventually got the two to calm down.
When the priest did the anointing with chrism, Chase felt a few more tears run down his cheek. It was probably from the declaration.
..His strength may prevent thee in thy going out and thy coming in, and may guide thee into life everlasting. Be thou closed.
He was still overwhelmed when the priest did the reception, welcoming his children into Christ's Holy Church and placing each handkerchief he blessed on their shoulders. He pulled himself together, knowing it would all be over soon and he'd have to face the congregation.
The priest delivered the candles, symbolizing the ever-burning light of their spirits, and finally closed the Baptism by placing his hands on their heads. Emily, Ethan, go in peace and may the Lord be with thee.
Both children were handed back to an overjoyed Chase, who held both of them proudly while the priest finished his parting message to the congregation. He was now charged as the parent responsible for their spiritual guidance, and after today he was more than up to the task.
"I still can't believe they bought that house," Cameron said while they were on their way to the party after the service. They had seen the house just before Foreman and Pamela had moved in, and considering it had far more square feet, the idea that many of those rooms were furnished now was laughable.
"It's a good investment," Chase replied. "Would you turn down a house like that for the price they got it?"
Cameron shook her head, still trying to figure out why they did it. "What in the world are two people going to do with five bedrooms, a guest house, and 4,000 square feet of living space? Plus Foreman doesn't play golf, so why a golf course community with a country club membership?"
"It's about time he learned. Besides, the only requirement in those communities is to be good socialites, and Pamela fits the bill there."
"Easy for you to say, rich boy."
Chase glared at her, disappointed that she knew that was never the case for him but she made the comment anyway. "Besides, the house I grew up in was bigger."
"Oh, go ahead, mention that to Foreman. Next thing you know they'll be upgrading to a bigger mansion down the road."
They pulled up into the half circle drive in front of the modern brick home. They were greeted by a valet. Chase took Ethan out of the car, while Cameron got Emily.
"They're certainly going out of their way to impress us." Chase said, handing the young man his keys.
They stepped up the brick entrance into the grand foyer inside. Pamela and Foreman were there to greet guests and direct traffic, fake smiles painted on to the hilt.
"Oh, so glad you are here." Pamela said with gritted teeth.
"I'm not buying the act," Cameron snarled. Pamela could be a socialite with everyone else.
"Sorry," she said shaking off her manners. "I was too lost in the part. So, how you doing girlfriend?"
"That's better," Cameron said, with a smile.
Chase shook Foreman's hand. He saw that the adjoining rooms were not empty. "Where'd all the furniture come from?"
"Our catering service actually brings in rented furniture for parties. It all goes back when this is done."
"This is costing you dearly, isn't it?" Chase laughed.
"Tell miss party planner over here. It's her salary paying for it anyway, so I'm just going to enjoy it."
"You bring swim suits?" Pamela asked. "I heard that babies love swimming."
"We did. This will actually be their first time in a pool." Cameron answered.
"They are six months old. How have you not taken them swimming yet?"
"Uh, winter, New Jersey, remember?"
"Oh, that makes sense, since there are no indoor pools in this state. We'll be sure to get out our cameras, especially when Emily starts screaming her fool head off."
Cameron wanted to say something snide, but Pamela was right.
"Food and drink are that way." Pamela pointed to the kitchen and two story great room. "Help yourself, mingle, get crazy drunk, I don't care. We have plenty of guest rooms, just as long as you don't mind sleeping on the floor."
"What about your guest house?"
"Oh, that's been rented out."
"Rented out? To who?"
"Yo, yo momma. How's it hanging?" A voice sneaking up behind Pamela said.
"You're letting Jamal live here?"
"Sure, as long as he pays the rent. He's quite harmless if he stays in his space."
"I've got a bet with her that he gets kicked out in two months," Foreman added.
"Come on Chase tribe," Jamal said. "I have appointed myself ambassador emeritus of the Foreman crib. Allow me to give y'all the grand tour."
Pamela threw them both a pleading glance, since she needed someone to keep Jamal out of trouble. Both shrugged and decided to follow. After all, a tour with Jamal had to be colorful.
Pamela and Foreman were elated to see their next guests. "Oh, Lisa, James, you made it!"
Cuddy had Michael in her arms, while Wilson pushed her in a wheelchair. Pamela looked behind them, noticing someone was missing.
"Our other child is hassling the valet right now." Wilson explained.
Sure enough, in limped in House, with a pissed off look on his face. "Never trust a greasy faced teenager with a foreign car."
"Right," said Wilson. "Especially my foreign car."
"I've got your back. What are best buds for?" House scanned the room full circle and his eyes landed on Pamela and Foreman. "Whoa, I'm sure the neighborhood association is having a field day now that they have their token black couple to brag about. A bit upscale for your tastes, don't you think?"
"We got to spend our money on something," Foreman said. He looked and noticed House had a paper grocery bag in his hand with something strangely shaped in it. "Let me guess, a housewarming gift? It wouldn't happen to be a singing bass, would it?"
House smiled impishly. "Oh, you know me too well."
"You already gave us one at the last housewarming," Pamela reminded him.
"Yeah, but with a house this big, I figured you needed two." House's eyes jumped as he looked straight ahead. "No need to show me around. The bar has been spotted. I'm all set for the night."
Pamela waved him off and turned toward the others. "I heard you're home now Lisa."
"Yes. I've been spending my days with both James and Michael and it's been wonderful. How's my hospital?"
"Great. Still going strong. We already had thousands of applications submitted for the diagnostics program at the med school. Jerry's little pet project seems to be taking off."
Wilson took the baby from Cuddy's arms, put him in his right arm and held out his left for Cuddy. She grabbed it and climbed out of the chair.
"Oh, you're walking now!" Pamela exclaimed excitedly.
"Yes, with some help. I wanted to surprise everyone."
"There are a number of people from the hospital in there that will be so thrilled to see you."
Cuddy smiled at Wilson and took in a deep breath. "Okay, let's make our entrance." They entered into the main room and Pamela and Foreman heard all the happy greetings from the foyer.
"I think the party is going to be a hit." Pamela said.
They noticed House already making a scene at that bar.
"I'm on it." Foreman briskly walked into the other room, leaving Pamela behind to laugh. A party with House was never boring.
The entire Chase family emerged from the house in their swimwear. The pool was all fixed up and ready to go, looking practically brand new. Pamela had told them how the pool had fallen into disrepair and some work had to be put into it. They noticed a guest making a ruckus at the poolside bar, and had to say hello.
"Oh how cute, you've all got matching outfits. I guess the stretch marks had you abandoning the bikini, huh Cameron?" House commented, scanning over her new one piece.
"So nice of you to make the Christening," Cameron replied sarcastically. "Catholics too intimidating?"
"I was too busy stopping by the convenience store getting you gift." He reached in his pocket and handed Cameron two tickets. "You see, its religious themed."
"The Holy Rollers instant lottery. Don't I remember you giving us lottery tickets before?"
"I'm in a rut with gifts, but this is different. I was nice enough to scratch off the boxes for you."
Chase looked at the tickets. "He did give us a different gift. This one's a one dollar winner. He's never given a winning ticket before."
"You see, now you can start a college fund or something."
"Oh that was so thoughtful, thanks." Cameron sardonically commented. "Later House."
They headed over to the pool. "Okay, let's see how they do." Cameron climbed in the pool with Emily, Chase had Ethan. Both infants looked busily around at their surroundings, but weren't shocked by the water.
Cameron was giddy. "Oh, they like it."
Together they moved cautiously with babies through the water. Emily let out a euphoric smile.
"Oh, how sweet!" Cameron said. "Did you see her?"
"I certainly did," Chase replied, giving her his own smile. She gave him another big one in response.
Cameron held onto Emily tightly, swaying her back and forth, and got lost in thought. It must have been a pleasant memory, judging by the happy look.
"What'd you thinking about?"
"I remember the day I found out I was pregnant. I sat in the clinic and cried. Now it seems so silly, because I can't imagine life without these two."
"I can't either, nor would I want to." Chase happily agreed.
"I'll admit, the Christening today was really incredible. For the first time, I get why people do it. I almost cried when he presented them to the church as the newest members. Everyone was so thrilled, I just felt the love."
Chase leaned in and kissed her. She just made this great day even more special.
"Cannonball!" That was the last thing they heard before being pelted with waves of water. The twins started bawling.
"Jamal! What are you doing?" Cameron asked in outrage, water streaming off the top of her head.
"He paid me fifty bucks." They looked to where he was pointing, to see House there taking pictures.
"Got to record the big family moment." House said.
"I have ways of making you suffer!" Cameron threatened.
"Yeah, but I'm too busy laughing now to care." House zoomed in on Cameron's annoyed face for the next few shots. Next thing he knew, he felt someone from behind take the camera out of his hand and two other hands push him into the pool.
Foreman stood where House did before, with Chase next to him holding a camera in one hand Ethan in the other. They laughed hysterically, and Ethan broke into a huge baby giggle over their humor. Chase started taking his own pictures of a doused House. "You're right, getting this on film is a great idea."
Pamela came over to join the commotion, as well as Wilson, Cuddy and Michael. None could contain their laughter.
"I'll give you credit for one thing," Cameron said, brushing the water off of a now calm Emily's face, who was mesmerized the strange fully clothed man in the pool with her. "You know how to rally a crowd."
"Look at everyone around here mocking you House," Chase said. "With everything that's happened, we are all prime examples of the one of the important lessons of humanity that you've sadly forgotten."
"What's that?" House asked, treading water and spraying a mouthful upward like a fountain.
"When you least expect it, expect it."
a/n: I wish I could say I'm all weepy over this being done, but I feel a huge accomplishment actually. This was in the area of 110,000 words, making it by far the largest thing I'd ever written. The ideas were getting thin.
Thank you everyone for all your very kind reviews, your support, reading this and not rolling your eyes (at least I hope you weren't). I know I go over the top with the fluff sometimes, so I'm happy that so many people stuck with this to the end. I'll never eliminate the possibility of a sequel, but it will be a few months before that is even possible. In the meantime, it's time to get ready for the 4th season. I'm keeping an open mind. Happy new season everyone!