WARNINGS: Spoilers through 5.23 Under My Skin
NOTES: I promise I have more substantial fics coming in response to the end of this season. Just wanted to get this little piece out while I'm in the process of moving/starting my summer job.
Sunshine after All
The day after the funeral is long and gruesome, filled with worried glances from colleagues in the on-call room, and the bloody aftermath a five-car-pile-up on the operating table. Surgery isn't a depressing place to work most of the time; usually people leave better off than they came in. But today, two of Chase's three patients die, and the survivor has to have both his legs amputated. It seems a crushing blow in light of the past few days' events, and by the time he gets home, the only thing that appeals is stumbling into bed despite the lingering sunlight.
The condo is uncharacteristically warm when Chase walks inside, and the subtle scent of cinnamon from the candle Cameron burns while she's reading her book at night has been replaced by something richer and earthier. It takes him a moment to realize that this is because the living room windows are open, his brain still half-trapped in the sterile world of the operating theater even as the kitten comes to wind around his ankles in wiry-legged greeting.
"Allison?" Chase asks softly, taking a few steps into the living room and wondering why she hasn't said anything yet. Then he gets a better view, and the scene in front of him stops him in his tracks.
Cameron is wearing his oldest pair of boxers, which have developed several holes near the hip, and an oversized t-shirt, and is leaning out the window up to her elbows in the dirt which now fills the previously-empty flower box. The floor around her is covered in newspaper, on top of which sits an assortment of fiery-colored flowers waiting to be planted.
"Allison?" Chase repeats, louder, taking a few quick strides to close the distance between them, and scooping up the kitten before she can succeed in swatting an unsuspecting snapdragon plant.
Cameron jumps a little, then dusts off her hands as best she can and turns to face him. "Hey. You're home? I guess I got carried away."
"I can see that," Chase replies, unable to resist the urge to smile when he notices the smudges on her cheeks. "Big project?"
Cameron shrugs, looking around at the mess she's created and wincing just a little. "It didn't start out that way. But—yes. I wasn't really prepared to do all of this today."
Following her gaze, Chase realizes she's already finished the boxes outside the other two windows, accounting for the stack of empty pots he's failed to notice in the corner by the door.
"What brought this on?" he asks, amused. "The menagerie of houseplants suddenly wasn't enough?" He's been aware of Cameron's love of all things floral for years, but moving in with her has shown him a whole new level.
Sitting back on her heels, Cameron picks up a red snapdragon and delicately pinches off a few dead leaves, not meeting Chase's eyes. "I just—yesterday—got me thinking. There are so many things I keep meaning to do, but then I'm too tired, or I stay late to take just one more patient. And I tell myself I'll do it tomorrow, but then tomorrow comes and it's the same thing all over again. And Kutner—"
"Made you wonder what it would be like if there was no tomorrow?" Chase finishes quietly, finally giving voice to the thought he knows has been on everyone's mind. The kitten mews plaintively, and he sets her back on her feet, watching as she skitters off in pursuit of the shadow of a butterfly cast by the setting sun outside the window.
Cameron nods slowly, turning to scoop out a hole for the snapdragon in the dirt as she speaks. "So today, I passed the one last patient on to the next shift. And I stopped on the way home and bought flowers."
"They're beautiful," Chase says softly, watching intently as she shakes the plant free from its pot and buries the roots in fresh soil. It can't be the first time she's done this, he realizes, though it's one more moment he would never have expected to share with her.
"Yeah?" Picking up the next plant, Cameron moves more to the center of the newspaper, glancing in his direction. "Want to help?"
Making his way cautiously through the small jungle of plants on the floor, Chase kneels beside her and kisses her temple quickly before brushing away some of the dirt on her cheek with a smile.
"What?" Cameron asks, raising her eyebrows in the hint of a challenge.
"You had a smudge," Chase answers, though he knows she has to be aware. "Got a few more, still."
"That's part of gardening," Cameron informs him, then reaches out with a dirt-covered finger and carefully gives him a matching one. "Now you can help."
Laughing, Chase rolls up his sleeves and plunges his hands into the dirt beside hers. Listening to a bird singing somewhere outside, and inhaling the earthy scent of flowers about to blossom, he begins his own list of things to be done in the here and now.