Kelly's mother had been insistent. "What about this one? Greg looks very handsome there, I think." It was "Greg" now, apparently, despite the fact that he'd been "Doctor House" to his face all along. It seemed that saving one family member got you respect, but saving two was what got you on a first name basis.
House had gone back home two weeks ago less a day, but Kelly had determined to stay with her parents until her father was out of the hospital and things had settled down again in the Campbell household. That day was fast approaching, and because Phillip was out of the woods Colleen had turned much of her energy onto her daughter. Her current fixation was on immortalizing their new family hero through a framed picture to be added to their memory wall.
"You think he's handsome in all of them, mother," Kelly sighed. "Do you really need my help with this? It's your house, after all. You're the one that will have to look at it." Kelly was itching to return to the shelter, to the girls, to the life she loved. But she loved her mom, too, and cherished this time they had together. Even if she was an insufferable meddler.
"Well, we'll need to get some framed for you too, honey. You'll want one for your desk at least, won't you?"
They were together on the couch, Kelly's computer balanced on her mother's knee. Kelly had taken a LOT of pictures from their travel days, or had House take them, or had asked complete strangers to take for them, to get them both together. Colleen was pushing for the story behind every one it seemed, and to a degree Kelly was happy to oblige her, but there was so much left unsaid, so much she wasn't ready to put into words, so much meaning yet to be fully realized behind some of those shared moments.
She missed him, and this wasn't helping. She laid back and closed her eyes for a moment as her mother nattered on. It was a sudden silence that brought her attention back.
Kelly remembered this one; couldn't have forgotten it. An accidental shot, offered later by the kind photographer who had shared their table at the crowded dinner theatre, passed on by email that evening at her request when he'd taken her aside and showed her on his camera's tiny screen.
The light had caught them just right, and the crowd around was muted and blurred, as though amongst the happy chaos time had stopped for just the two of them. Intermission, before act 3. The noise of everyone talking and laughing about what they'd just enjoyed. Not wanting to raise her voice, she had leaned toward him to share her own thoughts, and he had leaned in too. Foreheads touching, her hand on his chest, eyes shining. Content. Comfortable.
It hadn't felt as intimate as the image made it look, not in that moment. But looking back now she realized it had all been intimate, as though for those magical days the world had revolved around them.
"This one for your desk, I think," her mother decided quietly, copying the file to another folder on the desktop. "Or maybe somewhere more private. Because a picture like that will have people asking questions."
"Yes, I suppose it would," Kelly acknowledged, revealing nothing.
A pause. "And how would you answer those questions, should they be asked?" Colleen pressed further. They hadn't talked about this yet, not really. Colleen had her hopes, certainly, but her daughter had yet to admit to anything, had yet to say it aloud.
But the picture, this precious time-locked moment, had thrown her off-guard. "I think I wouldn't need to say much. Some things just speak for themselves."
The computer was set aside then as Colleen wrapped her arms around her daughter, pulling her close.