DISCLAIMER: House isn't mine. But Chloe is.
AUTHORS NOTE: hey everyone. remember in June (i think it was June) when i finished posting 'the excpetion' and said i had heaps of stories to write whilst i was on uni holidays? Well, this is the only one i've finished. to be honest, i didn't get a lot of writing done. This is because of a PM i got from someone (I won't name names... coz i don't remember who it was) from a very observant reader who had noted on my bio that i've never dated even at 19. They then went on to say that because i haven't experienced love or even a date, i have no right to be writing love stories. This hurt a lot, and i didn't write for about a month. hence, partly, the delay.
so, this is the long awaited sequel to SLAUGHTER and it follows Chloe, on her 18th birthday and how everyone has coped with Cameron's death. it wasn't supposed to be sad, but neither was SLAUGHTER. i'm not really happy with the end, but i hope you like it. I didn't really plan this story, it just happened. Enjoy.
It was a beautiful summer's morning, not a cloud in the sky. I slightly regretted my decision to skip my morning run as I got out of the car and the sun hit my bare shoulders, but I knew that I had purposefully skipped my run for a reason- besides the obvious fact that no normal person wants to do exercise on their birthday, especially those born in the middle of summer.
The streets were quiet, but I could hear a distant hum of traffic as I carefully picked up the small bouquet of lilies that lay on the passenger seat. The sweet fragrance of the flowers was swept up in the slight breeze as I walked through the gates, leaving the path to forge my way to my destination.
"Hi, Momma," I said quietly, stopping at the grave and placing my flowers on top of the tombstone.
I sat down on the ground and folded my legs underneath me, not saying anything. It never got any easier, coming to a stone and making conversation. After nearly twelve years, you would think I'd know how to start a conversation, right? That's why I only came once a month now, or if I really needed to vent. My Dad still came twice a week, sometimes more, but well... I suppose he has more memories of her than I do. I was only six when she died.
Finally, I cleared my throat and started talking. "Well... it's my birthday," I said simply, although I'm not sure why. I did this every year, and I still have no idea why I do it. If she had been alive, she would know it's my birthday, and it's not like I expect a cake to magically appear before the grave, some ghostly birthday celebration from beyond. God, that would be creepy. I have to stop reading scary ghost stories, otherwise I'll never be able to come here again.
"I haven't seen Dad yet," I continued. "He was already at the hospital when I got up, but he did leave me a note."
I rolled my eyes as I remembered his words. "You know the usual, happy birthday tadpole! I can't believe my little girl's eighteen now. How does it feel? Have a great day and I'll see you tonight. Love Dad." He really has to stop calling me 'tadpole', but he hasn't listened for the past five years I've told him, so I don't really expect him to start now. And I don't see how eighteen is supposed to feel any different than seventeen."
A thought occurred to me and I shrugged. "Well, except for the fact I'm done with school. I still can't believe I've graduated! I never have to do algebra again!"
I was still so proud of that simple fact, but then I remembered Dad saying that Mom would have said the same thing; math wasn't her strong point either.
"I suppose Dad told you all about graduation... and that I got into Princeton. I think he's told everyone at PPTH, and at least half of Melbourne. Dad said we'll probably go down for a week or two next month."
That wasn't said with much enthusiasm, I admit. I love Australia, and the few family I have there, but to leave summer here, when it's winter there? Depressing. At least it's not as cold in Melbourne as winter here- no snow anyway.
"I'm still trying to convince him to spend a few days in Sydney before we come home after Melbourne, but he just says "We'll see, mate.""
I can imitate my Dad's accent pretty good, if I do say so myself. Better than Dr. House anyway. He always just moans that's because I have a slight Aussie accent naturally, so it's not imitating, just exaggerating; but he's just a sore loser.
"I'm going to do a degree in social work and welfare," I said aloud. "I want to help kids with HIV, I think. Or kids who lose a parent... any kids really. Dr. House said that was a bad idea, because with my genetics I'd end up fostering a dozen troubled kids. I think it was supposed to be a dig at you or Dad, but I'm not really sure," I shrugged. "Probably you more than Dad, because he got that weird look on his face after he said it; but I still don't understand it."
Dr. House did this often, make cryptic comments and then get this strange look in his eyes. I was probably eight or nine when I realised the look was linked to my mother, but I've never understood it. But I don't understand half of what he says anyway, so it's no big deal.
There's really only so much you can say to a headstone, so eventually I said goodbye and drove home to my empty house. I was kind of dreading the moment my Dad came home, because I knew what would happen. He'd hug me, give me my presents, and let me get whatever I want for dinner, (that part I'm not complaining about). But afterwards, he'd give me another letter.
I don't want it to sound like I don't like hearing from my mother, however long she's been dead... but it doesn't make it hurt any less the fact that she is dead. As in not here. These letters and a few memories are all I have left of her.
It's different for my Dad, he has me. Of course, that doesn't stop him from missing her. It's been nearly twelve years, but he's never dated, as far as I know, never thought about it. I know Uncle Eric's tried to get him to get out more, but it's a lost cause. My Dad's life revolves around work and me. Once my grandmother suggested that we move away from New Jersey, but that was immediately shot down; and not just from my Dad and I.
I have a lot of different relationships in my life. There's my Dad; my grandparents; my Aunts and Uncles and cousins in Chicago; my friends; my colleagues at the music shop I work part time; and then there's the doctors who worked with my mother before I was born.
Uncle Eric's also my godfather, and he's pretty cool. He got married when I was ten and I was their flower girl. Then he and his wife, Emma (who's super cool) had a daughter three years later. He actually asked Dad and I if it would be okay with us if they called her Allison. He and Dad had a weird moment, and Dr. House asked if they were going to kiss. Dad and Uncle Eric rolled their eyes, but I actually thought he had a point. I baby-sit Allie heaps, she's almost five now and so cute!
I hang out with Rachel a lot- that's the kid Lisa adopted not long after Mom died. She's nearly twelve now, and we call ourselves 'surrogate sisters'. When Allie's old enough, she'll probably join in too. Lisa says that Mom's death made her realise life's too short not to go after her dreams. Dr. House said by that philosophy, he should be getting serviced by Angelina Jolie on the beaches of Barbados. Or something to that affect anyway, Dad covered my ears but I got the gist of it. I was six, not stupid.
James is great, if I'm having a really hard time with life, or Dad, I go to him. Dad tried to make me see this counsellor a few times through the years, but I prefer talking to James. Dr. House does, and he's way more messed up than I am; so I think if he can talk to James, I can. Plus he knows heaps of stuff about my mom, and is like the only one who doesn't get all teary-eyed when he talks about her. There was a time when I decided I didn't want to talk about her anymore, and he was cool with that too. Everyone else fed me the 'you can't forget about your mom' talk, but James was like "hey, you loved her. She's gone, and sometimes it's easier not to talk about the people we love who are gone."
I would have to say, the weirdest relationship I have in my entire life, is my relationship with Dr. House. When Dad first came back to work, I didn't want to go to school and be 'the kid whose mom died of HIV', so I'd go to hospital with him. And somehow, within the week, I was hanging out in diagnostic's with Dr. House. Half the time, we don't even talk. But Dad's in the surgery department now, has been for years, and he knows I'll usually be hanging out in Diagnostic's even now. At the start, Dr. House used to make comments about it, that it was something my mom would do; but the one day I didn't go, he was wondering where I was. When I was in my 'don't mention my mother' phase, he didn't really do anything. Eventually I asked him for his opinion on the matter, and he just quoted Dumbledore.
You know that part in The Prisoner of Azkaban where he says "The people we love never truly leave us?" (Or whatever to that affect). Then he just shushed me because the commercials were over. But even when I didn't want to talk about her, I never cared when he brought mom up. It was just something in the way he spoke about her... like I said, half the time I never know what he's talking about anyway, so it doesn't hurt.