Disclaimer: I don't own Summerland or any of the characters.
Author's Note (General): Hey everybody! Oh my God it's been…a long time since I've posted anything. Here's what happened: I didn't like most of the stories I was going to post and my Summerland fic was really similar to another, so I went back and wrote entirely new ones based on the old ones. This Summerland fic is the same general idea of the other and takes place after Safe House, but I made it more my own and removed/changed some scenes that were too similar to others. Please let me know if anyone has any complaints about this one, because I can change it more, but please wait a couple chapters because the first are mainly just connecting Safe House to my story, and I know this way has been done before (and by better authors) but I just can't picture it happening any other way. Anyway, please review if you can, as any advice helps. Happy reading!
Author's Note (Special): Unfortunately, it has been a long time since I've seen Summerland, so I don't remember certain things like minor character names, eye colors, minor details, etc. Also, I really don't remember the last few episodes in detail, and I forget exactly what happened with Bradin, so I'm just going to assume that he is still around like normal in this fic, as it is mainly a Nikki/Cam story. Oh, one more thing: the chapter titles aren't so much titles as helpful hints to see what happens in each chapter. I like this because I can never remember what happens when and I tend to lose my favorite parts of a story. Well, I guess that's it. Please let me know if I'm wrong about something important, and enjoy! Or tell me if it's terrible!
Cameron Bale stared silently out the window, enjoying the calm silence of the clear California night. The slight breeze was the only comfort he had, as his mind was anything but calm. His thoughts raced and though he was desperately trying to ignore them, more questions kept coming. What would become of him now? Where would he go? Would he have to return to his father? Would he return to his mother? Where would he stay while those are answered? Could he stay with Nikki and her Aunt Ava?
It was too much; he couldn't handle the bombardment. Finally turning from the window, he dove onto Nikki's bed and shoved his head under the pillow, hoping that somehow the cool softness would help comfort his mind as well as his head. It wasn't working. He wanted nothing more than to fall asleep and to give in to his fatigue and let the darkness come so he would think no more, but how could he simply fall asleep after all that had happened? When there were so many questions, so many things left undone, so many thoughts racing through his mind, sleep was impossible. Rest of any kind was. This was going to be a very long night.
He glanced up at the clock and sighed. He had hours left before anyone would wake up. He rolled over, wincing as his weight shifted to his bruised shoulder. The questions started up again. He felt tears start to fall down onto the pillow as he rubbed his shoulder gently, trying and failing yet again to ignore the thoughts that simply would not stop.
Finally, unable to continue waiting alone for morning to come, he quietly inched the door open and slid silently down the steps, slipping outside into the cool night air. Somehow, he already felt better, as if just being alone outside was better than being alone in the bedroom. The dark still, the glistening starts, the soft breeze—all of these were something far more pleasant than his thoughts to focus on, and they were finally allowing him to forget the worries that were on his mind mere minutes ago.
Cameron started walking slowly, allowing his mind to wander. Where he was walking, he didn't know or care, but somehow it was helping, and that was all that mattered. Somehow, he found his way to the hammock in the back yard. He laid down on it and made a mental note not to stay too much longer; he knew he would not be able to prevent himself from falling asleep much longer, and he didn't want to spend the night in a hammock outside.
He let his mind drift again in an attempt to find some thought that could comfortably keep him awake for a little while longer. He started thinking of Nikki. God, what did she think of all of this? Could she possibly understand what it was like for him? Had she truly forgiven him for keeping it from her and for being so distant? And even more important to Cameron, what did she think of him now? For the first time ever in his life, the thought of just ending it all had crossed his mind, and he had told her! She knew, and she had immediately put an end to that thought. She had also been the first girl ever to see him cry. What could she possibly think of him after that?
Shocked back into reality, Cameron frantically looked up, though he already knew who it was.
Nikki looked back at him, her warm brown eyes showing only concern. In her hand was a small bowl filled with ice cream and a few Oreos. Cameron couldn't suppress a chuckle.
"Ice cream and Oreos?"
"You're one to talk—you eat everything!"
He smiled. "This is true."
He sat up and slid over to make room for her. "You sure we're not going to get caught?" he asked.
Nikki sat down next to him and set the bowl on her lap. "I don't think so; they're all up in their rooms sleeping." She took a bite of ice cream and Cameron grabbed an Oreo.
"So," Nikki began, looking back up at him. "What are you doing out here?"
Cameron sighed and looked up at the stars. "I don't know, I guess. I just thought being outside would be a little better than being alone in your room."
"And is it?"
He nodded. "Yeah, it is. I don't know why exactly, but there's something about the air at night that's comforting when I can't seem to stop thinking."
Nikki nodded in agreement. "I know. This is the first time in my life I ever wanted to stop thinking about something, and the only way I know to do it is to grab a snack and sit out here."
Cameron looked at her questioningly. "I thought you did that when you needed to think."
She chuckled. "Or that. It just depends on what I need, but ice cream and Oreos always help."
"I suppose that's true."
"So are you holding up okay?"
Cameron looked up again. "I don't know…I don't know what to do, or to think. Right now I'm just trying to ignore it all, just to get by. You know?"
Nikki slipped her small hand into his. "I wish I did. I wish I could do more to help you, but I just…don't know what to do either, I guess."
Cameron finally looked back into her eyes. "You've already helped a lot, more than you know, I'm sure." He squeezed her hand gently. "If you hadn't told when you did, I don't know what would've happened. It might have gone on for a while, and I don't think I would have said anything. I just…I didn't want to believe that he couldn't stop, and I didn't want to think about everything that would happen if someone knew."
Cameron saw tears in Nikki's eyes, and that brought fresh ones to his. "Cameron," she said softly. "I'm so sorry this had to happen to you; you didn't deserve it." He saw a tear slide down her cheek.
"Thank you, Nikki, for everything," he whispered, almost more to himself than to her. "I just wish I knew what will happen next." He sighed and looked down at their hands.
"Well," Nikki said, reverting to her studious we-should-be-able-to-figure-this-out attitude. "Tomorrow, your dad will come looking for you and we'll have to confront him then."
"Ugh," Cameron sighed. "I'm dreading that. I just…I don't want to face him already. What will I say? What will he say? I just don't think I'm ready for that conversation."
"It will be fine," Nikki said, looking straight into his eyes. "Just tell him how you feel and say what your heart tells you to. I promise you, I will be right there. You won't be alone."
I haven't been very good about that lately, he thought to himself as he looked at Nikki. "I know, Nik. Thank you." He pulled her into a tight hug, finally allowing his own tears to fall. He winced slightly when her fingers found the bruise on his shoulder, another reminder of all that he'd been through over the past few days. He hoped she hadn't noticed, though he felt some of her tears as well through the sleeve on his shirt.
After a few minutes, the two finally recovered and looked back into each other's eyes. "Well," Nikki said. "I suppose we should get back to bed, huh?"
Cameron nodded and stood up slowly, offering his hand. "I guess we should. But we have so much more to figure out," he said, falling back onto the hammock with his hands over his eyes.
Nikki grabbed his hand and pulled him back out of the hammock. "We don't have to worry tonight. We'll cross all those bridges as they come, okay? But I think we would be far better off after a good night's sleep."
Cameron smiled at her, chuckling slightly as he remembered the time. "I think it's a bit too late for that." He quietly held the door open.
"Than will do the best we can," she said simply, quietly walking inside.
"I suppose that's all we can do," he said as he strode in after her.
Meanwhile, Ava and Johnny stood in their upstairs bedroom watching this entire scene unfold, though they were unable to hear anything due to the distance and the window.
Johnny looked at Ava softly. "Do you think they're okay?" he asked her, unsure of what else to say.
After a moment, Ava simply shrugged. "I don't know. You saw Cam; he's so scared. I don't know what to do to help."
Johnny looked out the window again and pointed to the two teenagers in the hammock. "I think Nikki's got that covered," he said with a slight smirk.
Ava lightly elbowed him. "Johnny, I'm serious. Cameron is not alright. He was abused by his father! How is he going to get over that? We'll all have to confront him soon—probably tomorrow—and none of us are ready, especially Cameron. What can we do? And even after we sort that out, what's going to happen to him? He can't stay here and I know he never got along with his mom." She looked at Johnny, her eyes almost pleading, "What do we do?"
Johnny pulled Ava into a hug. "We'll figure it out. To be honest, I don't think we're going to have much say in how it happens. With my mom, it just sort of…all came out at once. I'm not saying it's going to be easy—far from it, in fact—but there's nothing we can do to prevent it. We'll just have to be there to help Cam through it and after that, we'll work something out. Maybe Cameron has other relatives, or maybe he can even tolerate staying with his mom. Who knows, after this they might get along better."
Ava looked up at Johnny, holding his gaze despite a few glistening tears in her eyes. "How do you do it? You always seem to know what to say."
He shook his head. "No, I've just been down this path before."
"I know, and I'm sorry. But in a way, I'm glad you have."
He smiled. "Me to."
"Johnny, do you think you could talk to Cam tomorrow if you get the chance? I think he might need your help. You're the only one who would understand what he's going through, I think."
"Yeah, sure, of course." They looked out the window again and watched as Nikki and Cameron went back inside, and Johnny remembered. "Hey Ava, where are we going to sleep? I mean, Cameron took Nikki's room and she took yours, so…"
"Well if I know Susannah, she'll be at Matt's all night, and I'll sleep in her room."
Johnny quickly did the math. "What about me?"
Ava smirked. "Couch."
Cameron awoke the next morning already dreading the day. He knew that today was going to be the day he'd have to confront his father, the day he'd have to answer all of the previous night's questions, the day he'd learn what would become of him in the very near future. He was terrified. Every thought, every question, every fear forgotten from the night before returned to him with a vengeance, and he was scared to death of what the day had in store for him.
After a shower, Cameron headed downstairs for a surprisingly awkward breakfast since neither Bradin nor Derrick had any idea why he was here. The day was already starting rough, and he knew it wasn't going to get any better. After breakfast, he pulled Nikki into the living room.
"Hey Cam," she said as the sat down on the couch. "What's up?"
Cameron looked at her seriously. "I really don't want to see him today. I'm dreading it. I—" Nikki cut him off with a nod and one finger. "Aunt Ava," she yelled. "Cam and I and going for a walk."
"Okay, but be back soon," she said as she walked in. "I'm sorry Cam, but I think it would be best if you're here if and when your dad comes." The look on her face said she knew just how much she was asking, but it also said that she wouldn't have asked if she didn't think it was really important.
Cameron nodded slowly before he grabbed Nikki's hand and the two of them walked outside.
Nikki looked up at him. "I can't even imagine what this is like for you, but I really, really think you'd be better off if you just confronted him. You have to tell him what he's doing to you, and he has to realize how much pain he's causing you. It has to be done, and we'll all be there."
Cameron couldn't hold her gaze. "I know, and I want to but…I don't know if I can." He looked down.
Nikki pulled him into a tight hug. "I know you can."
Cameron smiled. "Thanks, Nik. I hope you're right."
The two of them walked hand-in-hand into the kitchen, contemplating what to do for lunch.
"Okay," Nikki began as she looked around and starting figure out what their options were. "How about I make us some sandwiches and you run upstairs and grab a book for me," she suggested.
Cameron laughed. "Sounds good to me, but I just have one question. Are you always reading?"
"Just about, yes," she answered laughing.
"Alright, alright. Which one?" He asked.
"A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce."
Cameron groaned. "Oh my God, you're actually reading Joyce?! Doesn't that make you some sort of higher being?"
Nikki grinned. "I think the hype is worse than the actual book, although I don't know about Ulysses. I hear that one's really hard."
Cameron just shrugged. "Whatever, Nik. I still think you've lost your mind."
Cameron ran upstairs and grabbed the book for her. It was easy to find, of course, as Nikki has always kept her bookshelf alphabetized, and Cameron couldn't help but notice that she already had Ulysses waiting on the shelf for the day that she would be ready to tackle it.
Half way down the stairway, Cameron saw Johnny heading his direction. He wasn't ready to see Johnny. He knew he would have to talk about his thoughts and feelings and he just wanted to enjoy a little time with Nikki before his dad comes barging in looking for him.
He started to head back, stopping only when he realized how obvious it would look if he just turned around and left, so he remained standing on the bottom step for the moment.
"Oh, I was just leaving," Johnny started.
"No, no," Cameron added frantically, trying to backtrack. "I've got to go upstairs and grab something anyway."
"Oh. Look, Cam," Johnny began. "I just want to say that I know how tough this is for you…"
The conversation went on from there, and in the next minute or so Cameron learned that Johnny, too, had gone through everything he had. In that short conversation, it started to click for Cameron. He wasn't alone, and he certainly wasn't the first person to ever experience this. He started to see that he need to talk to his dad, otherwise things would never get better. For a moment, he pictured it: him talking to his dad and telling him everything he felt.
Then the fear hit him again. He couldn't tell his dad. What would he think? Would he ever forgive him? He blurted it out to Johnny. "Yeah, but…I can't do that. I can't tell him. He'd hate me!" He heard his voice start to crack as he said it, but he didn't care. For a moment, everything had seemed better, achievable. Then everything returned and he found himself afraid yet again and unwilling to confront his father.
Johnny immediately picked up on Cameron's fear. "No, Cameron, No, he won't hate you. He will never hate you!" Johnny hugged Cameron as the tears started to fall again. Every fear and questioned returned and combined with the certainty that he would have to face his father soon, and Cameron couldn't take it. So he allowed Johnny to hug and comfort him for a moment before he returned to the kitchen with Nikki.
Nikki looked at him and frowned. "Cameron, are you okay."
"I don't know," he answered honestly. "Come on, let's go upstairs."
Nikki knew better than to argue. She nodded and grabbed their lunches as they headed upstairs.
"Cameron, what happened?"
"I talked to Johnny."
Nikki nodded, understanding. "Oh." She grabbed his hand and intertwined her fingers with his.
Cameron gently tightened his grip. "I'm glad we talked but, I'm still…I'm still scared," he admitted. He felt his hands start to shake, and he knew Nikki felt it, too.
"It's okay, Cam, we'll do it together. Ava and Johnny can try and convince him to get help, but it will be a lot more effective if he sees you. And stop worrying so much. We don't even know if he's coming today. He was pretty drunk last night; you said so yourself. He might not even come looking for you yet."
As if on cue, they heard a very recognizable voice shout "Cameron, come on, we're getting out of here!" from the floor beneath them.
Cameron's face dropped. "So much for that theory."
Together, the two of them raced downstairs.
They came to a halt at the bottom of the stairway, staring at Kyle Bale. Nikki caught the pained look on Cameron's face and squeezed his hand gently, unable to think of anything else to do for him.
Cameron stood on that step and watched. He heard Nikki say something, but he was only half listening. His eyes were glued to his father. He watched, remembering all the good days from years ago. He watched, remembering the far worse days from only days ago. He watched, realizing how much his father had changed over the years. And he watched, realizing how much his missed the old days and the old father he had grown to love. As he watched him start to fall apart, Cameron let go of Nikki's hand and stepped down towards his father.
Kyle looked up, into his son's pained eyes.
"I need you to do this," he started, unsure of exactly what to say. "We both need you to do it." He paused for a moment, gathering his strength to say one final thing. "I want my dad back."
In that moment, both father and son alike broke down, losing all control. Nikki, Ava, and Johnny could only watch as the two of them hugged each other, cried and finally confessed everything that had been going through their heads for the past few months. After so long, after everything that had happened, they could finally understand. And now they could finally start to move forward.