Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Note: I cannot believe I wrote this at work.
Warnings: Miscarriage, angst, masturbation, sex.
"There once was a time I was sure of the bond; when my hands and my tongue and my thoughts were enough. We are the same but our lives move along, and the third one between replaces what once was love."
Three weeks, two days.
Cameron hasn't cried since it happened.
Chase puts the car into park outside their building and silently reaches for her hand. He doesn't know what to say, or if he should be saying anything at all; afraid to look at her, knowing she'll still be just as pale and fragile as when they left the hospital, thin and trembling as he helped her from the wheelchair to the passenger seat. Her fingers are cold against his palm and he muses that he should have brought her some gloves to bar against the chill of the impending snow.
"You know," he says finally, eyes fixed on the first few flakes falling and melting against the windshield. "We can always try again, when you're better."
Silence for a moment, and then, "It's cold," she says. "Let's go inside."
One month, two weeks, three days.
The sound of purring wakes him, and he wipes the fur from his lips as the kitten curls close to his face where Cameron usually sleeps. It's maybe the fifth time this has happened since they came home, and Chase wonders, gazing through the open door to the light spilling from the nursery into the hall, if maybe she'd take the time to mourn if he just let her be.
But minutes turn into hours, and he should be leaving for work soon. He finds her standing at the window wearing his favorite rugby sweatshirt, watching the sun peer over the horizon.
There's still newspaper lining the edges of the floor, and a bucket of paint and some stencils collecting dust in the corner. Chase chokes up when he catches sight of the empty crib, and the wooden rocking chair he'd bought her the day after she handed him the positive test.
"I don't think I want to try again," Cameron says, voice firm and resolute.
His heart breaks at that, but he knows this is hard for her in ways he could never imagine. Maybe she'll come home one Tuesday and tell him she wants a baby – he knows how to wait her out. "Okay. That's – that's okay."
She looks at him over her shoulder, dry-eyed and broken. "No, it's not."
When he comes home from work that night, a dozen roses in hand, the nursery is in boxes. The newspapers are stuffed in what was meant to be a diaper bin, and a single piece of paper is left on the rocker.
"Went to my parents' house. Don't worry about me."
Chase can't help but try her cell phone and pager a dozen times before realizing they're both still charging on her nightstand.
Three months, two days.
He comes home from work to find Cameron on the floor, busy playing with the cat, too fat and spoiled now to possibly be considered a kitten. He ruffles her hair briefly, and scratches the ball of fur as he walks past her and into the kitchen; they haven't talked much since she came back to him.
She comes to help him lay out the takeout on the kitchen table, somewhat out of reach from greedy feline paws.
"So, I was thinking we could get another kitten," Chase says, handing her a pair of chopsticks. "Or a puppy, if you want." He knows it's a desperate move to make her happy again, and more than a bit of a long shot, but he'll do anything to see her smile again, to hear her laugh. Even just to see her cry.
Cameron sees right through it of course. "Do we really have time for another pet?" And she's right; he hasn't seen her for more than an hour or two at a time since she went back to work.
"I just thought-"
She cuts him off quickly – "I know" – and takes her vegetables with her into the living room.
Three months, three weeks, five days.
Cameron sends Chase a text message to say she's hung up at work and not to wait up for her.
He feels awful because he's more than a little worried that she's left her wedding ring on her nightstand.
Four months, one week, six days.
Chase comes home with a tray of colorful flowers and a bag of potting soil, and for the first time in months, he sees Cameron smile. It takes her no time at all to pull on a ratty pair of jeans and a t-shirt that dangles off her thin frame, and lay out garbage bags to keep from making a mess. She's finally talking to him – babbling about some strange cases that came into the ER, and explaining that she's been helping Foreman shop for an engagement ring – and he can't help but grin foolishly and sit on the windowsill, enthralled at the sound of her voice after so long.
When she's up to her elbows in potting soil, he ventures shyly, "So I did good?" and glances at the half-full window box.
Cameron smiles warmly, and takes his face in her hands, still cool and moist with dirt. "You did great," she says, and kisses him.
After a moment, he pulls back to wipe a clump from her cheek. "Happy anniversary, babe."
Six months, three weeks, one day.
The night is warmer than usual, as they sit up in bed reading. Part of him thinks that they've grown old together far too quickly; having replaced near-nightly escapades between the sheets with medical journals read side-by-side. He glances over at her – her hair cut shorter and dyed back to its original brown – and he sees just a few strands of grey hair, the beginnings of lines are showing around her eyes. She's scarcely older than him, and yet somehow the combination of the tragedies of the past year has hit her much harder; or maybe she shows her pain differently – betraying her feelings only in her physical appearance, but outwardly pretending nothing has happened, that they hadn't suffered so great a loss, as he's sure he does every day a child dies on his table.
"I destroyed it," she says abruptly, eyes still focused on the page before her.
"The sperm," she clarifies, and looks up at him, taking off her glasses. "I destroyed it."
A year ago, those words would have sent a wave of relief through him. But now all he feels is heartbreak, watching another piece of Allison Cameron die. "Why?"
She shrugs, and turns over to return her things to the nightstand, her shoulder blades pressing painfully against her skin. "It was stupid to keep it anyway. I thought you'd be happy, or relieved or something."
"I would have been," he says quietly, and sets aside his own reading, turning off the lamp, "a year ago."
Somehow, this doesn't seem to surprise her, as she curls up with her back to him and sighs.
"I love you," he says at last, and stuffs a pillow in his arms.
Nine months, two weeks.
Chase knows this is a stupid idea.
He's been smart about it until now, of course, only engaging while she's at work and he's left at home with a surprisingly lethargic cat. It's nothing special now, stroking himself as roughly as he can to get the job done. He would much prefer her hand, or her mouth, or any sign of physical affection. But this way, he reasons, she'll never have to know, though he's sure she knows regardless. But it's as it should be – unspoken.
That is until she wanders in from the bathroom, one towel wrapped firmly around her and the other fluffing her hair dry. She freezes, staring at him as he stares back. He doesn't even have time to cover himself and scramble out of bed before she's left, slamming the bedroom door on her way out.
He finds her curled up tightly and trembling on the couch. "Babe," he breathes, and moves to touch her shoulder, but she flinches away as if he's hit her. "I didn't mean for you to-"
"I knew," she says, voice small and fragile.
"I'm sorry." She doesn't respond for a long while, and he wonders if this is what their lives are going to be – barely making it through each day without throwing each other over the edge. There once was a time none of this would have even mattered, when she would have laughed it off and coerced him into making it up to her – smiling at him as he'd fumbled with the buttons on her blouse – but now everything is walking on eggshells, ice so thin he knows it's going to break. "We should . . . talk about this."
"I'm sorry," she whispers, and her voice breaks for the first time in months. Nine months and two weeks, he recalls, since she's cried. "I'm so sorry. I failed you."
"Ally," he says, choking back a sob. "It wasn't your fault, okay? It wasn't."
"I should have listened to you!" she cries, and it's practically a wail, haunted and chilling him to his very core. "I shouldn't have gone into work that day. I should have known."
"You couldn't have known," he pleads. "It would have happened regardless of where you -- God, Allison, I don't-" but he never finishes, all words and thoughts lost in her kiss, crying softly as she tugs him down by his hair, clutching desperately.
"I've missed you," she confesses, pulling his shirt off in a rush, one stubborn button popping off in the process. Chase hums in response, mouth too busy nibbling down the side of her neck. She's quick to rid him of his pants and boxers, but he's already found his way inside her towel, kissing along her ribcage – each bone frighteningly pronounced.
"I love you," she gasps. "Need you."
He thinks they should be taking this slower, that they should be mindful of how frail she's gotten, but his emotion gets the better of him, and he's soon lost inside her, moving slowly to give her time to adjust. Her nails leave angry scrapes down his back, clawing to draw him closer as he muffles sobs against her neck. She comes with him, whimpering against his ear.
"It's not fair," she says bitterly, once she's caught her breath. "We deserve to be happy. It's not fair."
"We will be," he promises, surprising himself with the certainty in his voice.
Cameron breaks down again, trembling and pitiful in his arms. "I'm broken. Please don't leave me?" she begs, and he knows he never could.
Their lives are finally normal again – or at least as normal as they've ever been. Cameron is back to sleeping in his underwear, and ordering salads in the cafeteria only to pick French fries off his plate when she thinks he's not looking. He's back to spending his breaks in the ER, failing at distracting her from paperwork and stealing kisses when it's most likely to make her blush. They're back to sneaking quickies in the janitor's closet, and busting Foreman and Thirteen when they try to do the same.
They're happy, Chase reasons, despite everything.
"Looks like you have a visitor," Taub says one day when he's elbow deep in a thirty-two year old male's intestines.
Chase looks to the door, where he can see Cameron standing just beyond the glass, wisps of blonde hair spilling out from beneath her cap.
"It's Tuesday," she says shyly, once he's able to meet her.
"Yeah," he frowns, assuring himself that indeed yesterday was Monday and tomorrow is Wednesday.
"No," she sighs, frustrated. "It's Tuesday. And I-" she lowers her voice, eyes focused on her clasped hands, "I want a baby."
"A baby?" he mouths, finding himself too stunned to come up with anything even slightly more intelligent.
"Yeah," she smiles softly. "I want to try again. That is – that is if you do."
"Now?" he gapes, glancing down to his surgical gown and gloves.
She laughs, and it's the most beautiful sound he's heard in a year. "Well, close the poor guy up first. And wash your hands."
He's back in the operating room by the time the sheer magnitude of what she's just said hits him, and he finds himself fighting back tears as he closes.
"You okay?" Taub asks, hesitantly.
"Yeah," Chase beams. "I'm great."
When he comes out of surgery, Cameron's waiting for him, smiling and ready.
Sometimes terrible things happen, he thinks, but those are the things that make you stronger. And maybe for Cameron, weakness – the ability to lean on someone – is the greatest strength she'll ever learn. She once told him that she needs to be needed – as House had told her, she needs someone to fix, someone broken. But as she closes the distance between them, arms winding round his neck while she hides her tears in his shirt, he realizes that all he ever wanted was to be the man to piece her back together.