A/N: Not too proud of this chapter, especially since the first part seems a little too mushy but ah well. I'll see if I can do better next time. It starts off taking place during the previous chapter, basically showing what some of the other characters were doing. If anyone wants me to do a little scene from one character's perspective in particular, and it can be any character from the show, just ask and I'll see what I can do.
Thanks a bunch for the reviews.
. . .
Benny Hadley watched his sister closely, looking out for any sign that something more was going to go wrong. He was a coward – it was a conclusion he'd come to shortly after arriving. He'd taken a couple of steps inside Remy's room, seen the full extent of her condition, and had backtracked quietly out whilst his father remained distracted. He still had yet to go back in and it had already been two hours.
"How is she?" a soft, gentle voice asked as the speaker came up beside him.
The Priest closed his eyes for a moment, revelling in that voice. When Cameron had shown up back in his life two months ago he had been more than overjoyed to see her again, considering she had disappeared not too long after his sister. It was comforting to know that at least one of them could come back and if Allison managed it then why couldn't his sister? He also had a soft spot in his heart for the young doctor and had a feeling he always would.
She was the only woman he had ever been in love with and for that reason alone she would always be special.
"No change," he responded quietly, turning his head slightly to look at her. She looked as tired as he felt. "Where's Claire?"
"I hope I wasn't overstepping my bounds but Taub offered to take her back home with him to his wife. I realize I probably should have asked your permission first but he was leaving and Claire really didn't look like she wanted to hang around," Allison babbled, gazing at him anxiously.
Benny shook his head. "No, it's fine. I think you made the right decision and I trust your judgement of people. I'm sure Dr. Taub and his wife will take good care of her." He sighed, thinking about the little girl. "She's not happy."
The blonde smiled sympathetically at him. "No, she's not. But she's young; she doesn't understand everything that's happened."
Benny's lips quirked slightly at that comment. "I'm an adult and even I don't understand everything that's happened."
There was a long pause in which their shared smiles faded away and Allison shifted uncomfortably beside him. He could tell she was preparing herself for something. "I'm sorry I never told you where she was."
The young man shook his head. "I'm glad you didn't." At her surprised look, he continued. "Don't get me wrong, nothing would have made me happier than to see my sister again, it was what I wanted more than anything in the world. But I wanted her to come home on her own, going after her would have just made her run again. It wouldn't have changed anything."
"Still . . . I'm sorry."
Benny just nodded and turned his gaze back on his sister. To the outside viewer she looked just like she was sleeping, simple and as non-life-threatening as that. "It's been years since the last time I saw her, she's grown up so much, but I still see the little girl that used to put spiders in my hair. Is that strange?"
"Which part?" Cameron asked with a small smile. "The part where a little girl actually chose to go anywhere near spiders let alone put them in her brother's hair or the part where you still see her as that little girl?"
"Well, I already know the first is strange; Remy's always been a bit odd. I was just wondering whether I was just as strange." He didn't think he'd mind that too much. Having something in common with his sister wasn't an idea he despised. Maybe it would make him understand her a little better, like he never had before.
Allison shook her head with a gentle smile. "It's not strange. You love her, when you look at her you see her at her best. There's nothing wrong with that. Just because she's a grown up now doesn't mean you have to see her as one."
He nodded his head, considering that. His father brushed a stray strand of hair out of Remy's face through the window and she still gave no sign that she knew he was there. "She has Huntington's, doesn't she?" he guessed quietly.
Allison looked startled. "How did you-"
"Even after she disappeared from our lives she used to send me regular letters, phone calls; just to let us know she was alright. Almost two years ago, they just stopped. I couldn't think of any reasons why she would do that unless she had decided to sever all ties with us. And the only thing I could think of for why she would do that is because she had Huntington's." He glanced over at the blonde who was now gnawing nervously on her bottom lip. It was answer enough. "I guess I was right."
She gazed at him for a moment, mouth open but no words coming out. It was clear she didn't know what to say to that and seemed to be battling over the right response in her head. "I am so sorry."
Benny didn't respond to that. "I know I have to go in there. She's my little sister and I need to be there for her. But I can't. Because if she's dying, I don't want this to be how I remember her. If I stay out here I can still see the little girl with spiders. If I go inside, that disappears."
Allison's eyes welled up and, hesitantly, she reached out and took his hand. "She's not going to die."
She'd always been a good liar and it was only now that he appreciated the skill.
. . .
Claire picked absentmindedly at her breakfast cereal, watching as the Taubs went about their normal morning routine. This included Dr. Taub trying on various ties and asking his wife's advice whilst Rachael went about making them both breakfast. The blonde found that she liked the Taubs. They weren't overly false like some of her friend's parents who put on happy shows like they were trying to convince not only the world but themselves that everything was alright. The Taubs were just very real, she could sense that. And they were nice, even if it was clear that neither one of them had any idea what to do with a kid once they got a hold of one.
"Don't you like your cereal?" Dr. Taub asked in concern, finally settling on a plain black tie.
"I'm just not very hungry."
Rachael glanced at her sympathetically from her position beside the toaster. "Worried about your sister?"
Claire scowled at the reminder of Remy Hadley. "No." The couple exchanged a glance and the little girl's frown deepened. "Why should I be? I don't even know her."
"That's a fair point," Taub agreed a moment before the toast popped up. "So are you not worried because you're not worried or because you don't think you should be?"
"I'm not worried," Claire began, stabbing at her cereal with her spoon, "because she doesn't deserve to be worried about."
Dr. Taub sighed and glanced at his wife. "House would be overjoyed if he was in my position right now," he commented, finding the nine-year-old girl very similar to one of his boss's favourite Rubik's Cubes.
. . .
Taub walked into the differential room to find everyone else already there, including Cameron who was seated as far away as possible from Chase who was next to Foreman. Taking pity on the newly returned doctor, Taub pulled up the chair beside her.
From what he could tell, Chase seemed to be suffering from the common monster known as a hangover and Taub felt immediately sorry for him. Especially since House seemed to have noticed this as well and was using every possible chance to make loud noises around the blonde's head.
"Where's Claire?" Cameron asked, worry coming into her eyes.
"Rachael doesn't have work today so she said it would be alright if Claire stayed with her, I hope you don't mind. She really didn't want to come back here," Chris explained with an apologetic look.
Cameron sighed and forced a smile. "No, that's fine. Tell your wife, 'thanks'."
"Not from me," House spoke up. "I've been hanging out to see Thirteen Jr. all day. She has such spunk for a kid."
The blonde woman rolled her eyes and turned back to face her former boss. "Please, I'd die before I left her alone with you for a morning."
House pretended to look hurt. "What is it that you think I'd do to her? I swear I mean her no harm." His only response was unimpressed looks all around and, giving up, House turned back to his white board. "Did you run another MRI?"
Foreman nodded. "I did when I came in this morning. Nothing showed up. Her brain's fine. No trauma, no masses, nothing."
"Which means the coma has to have been caused by something else," he said thoughtfully, gazing at the whiteboard.
"What about Melioidosis?" Taub suggested. "It explains the fever, the headaches and the abdominal pain. And it can cause comas if untreated."
"But not the nosebleeds, hallucinations or the fainting. She also hasn't been coughing, no shortness of breath either," House responded, tossing the idea aside. "Keep guessing."
"Meningitis," Cameron stated. "Causes high fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and confusion. Even coma."
"It also causes photophobia and stiff neck. Anyone notice if she has any light sensitivity?" House retorted.
"We should at least test for it," the blonde persisted. "If we're wrong and pass this over she could get brain damage, she could die." Everyone in the room stilled, taking in her words. "Maybe she does have those symptoms and she just didn't tell us about them. It's not like we can ask her now that she's in a coma. We need to check."
House thought about it for a moment before finally relenting. "Go run a blood culture, see if she has any bacteria in her blood stream. But if you're wrong then you just wasted valuable time."
Cameron rose from her seat, unperturbed. "If I'm right, then I just saved Thirteen's life."
. . .
Rachael gazed at the young girl who sat opposite her at the dining room table, drawing studiously on a piece of paper. Her pencils and the pyjamas she still wore had come along with her suitcase that Chris had taken off Cameron.
"What are you drawing?" she asked, surmising that it seemed like an appropriate question in a situation like this.
Claire shrugged her shoulders. "Don't know yet." She glanced up at her, a curious expression on her face. "Do you have kids?"
Rachael shook her head hastily. "No."
"Do you want them?"
She was reminded of the conversation she'd had with Chris last year, in which she'd been seriously afraid for their marriage if his answer to that question was, 'yes'. She still was, a little bit. "No. I'm happy with my life how it is."
Claire nodded her head and returned to her drawing. "That's smart. Kids ruin everything."
Rachael frowned disbelievingly. "I don't think they ruin everything. I just don't think I'd be ready for the responsibility."
The little blonde just shook her head. "They ruin everything."
Frown deepening, the woman rose from her seat and walked around the table until she was beside Claire. The little girl didn't glance up as she continued to draw and Rachael could make out the shape of a little black bird, and over towards the edge of the page a flock of white doves flying away. It was very good for a nine-year-old.
Rachael smiled. "You're very talented." Claire glanced up, a wide beam on her face as her earlier foul mood dissipated.
"Do you want to help me colour in?"
Rachael nodded and pulled out the chair beside her, taking a seat. Reaching for a green pencil she grinned. "I haven't done this since I was a kid."
"You should do it more often. It's fun."
Fun; Rachael had almost forgotten the meaning of that word.
. . .
House frowned through the window at Thirteen, who for once since her family had arrived was alone. It always surprised him how much like being asleep a person in a coma could look, or a person who was dead. It seemed to go against some kind of universal rule – a person should look how they were. He'd thought the same thing after Kutner died; how could someone who was so miserable as to kill themselves look so jolly day in and day out? It was stupid and frustrating but House doubted that the universe would take pity on him and fix the problem just because he thought it was, so he stopped.
He'd never admit it, least of all to himself (and especially not to Wilson because he would never let him live it down) but he was worried. House was worried about Thirteen. He cocked his head to the side; it had a funny sort of ring to it. House was not worried about Thirteen but rather about the fact that all of his employees seemed to be dropping like flies and if word got out to young future House fellows he might one day be out of people to torture; Yes, that sounded more like him. House was worried because Cuddy hadn't been wearing too many low-cut tops lately; much better.
Just as long as he kept on believing that, everything would be fine.
The doctor's eyes strayed over to the heart monitor in Thirteen's room and he watched the steady rise and fall of the lines across the screen. At least her heart seemed to be doing OK. That was one thing off the list of stuff to worry about.
Now, back to the problem with Cuddy and her cleavage . . .
House was distracted from his train of thought by none other than Lucas, who was walking towards him like an over-excited puppy. The doctor was sorely tempted to say, 'Stay dog. Sit! That's a good doggy,' but somehow restrained himself. He also had to resist the urge to trip the guy over with his cane. He'd do it another day when he didn't actually need the P.I.
"I got that file you wanted," Lucas informed him and House felt a grin tug at his lips; excellent.
"Have you looked at it yet?"
The guy looked at him like he was crazy and handed over the folder in his hand. "Are you kidding? I feel bad enough digging up dirt on one of your employees who's currently in a coma. I'm not about to read the dirt on top of that." He shrugged and smiled sheepishly. "Besides, she gave me a cookie once."
House accepted the folder and raised an eyebrow at him. "How touching," he deadpanned before flipping the file open to get a look at its juicy contents.
Lucas didn't seem to take any offence and instead glanced nervously over at Thirteen through the window as if she could somehow see what they were doing. Idiot. "How is she?"
"Still in a coma," he replied distractedly, eyes scanning through one page in particular. 'Child's name: Claire-Alice Annie Hadley
D.O.B: . . .' House's lips thinned into a tight line as he continued to read, searching out the information he desired.
"Anything interesting?" Lucas asked.
House resisted the urge to hit the guy as he was interrupted and instead decided on a glare. "If there was, you would know; trust me, I'd have one of those maniac grins on my face that always come up on those good vs. evil movies and the bad guy thinks he wins, which, let's be honest, if those movies were at all realistic he would. Now, shut-up and let me keep reading."
Lucas didn't look at all chagrined and, resigned to the fact, the doctor returned his gaze to the file.
"Anything now?" he asked after a pause.
"Would you shut-up?"
. . .