Kirsten tried blocking out the sunlight pouring over her face by squeezing her eyes tight, but it was no use. The sun was too bright, and she was already wide awake. Wondering why she didn’t pull her curtains shut before she went to bed, she opened her eyes and found herself surrounded not by her usual taupe walls but by familiar blue ones.
Realizing she was in Cameron’s room, Kirsten’s senses began picking up on the details around her. The softness of his silk sheets caressed her skin. The sounds of the busy city filled her ears: car horns and the crunch of tires over asphalt, slamming doors and the faint ding of the elevator as the occupants of the building left for the day. The smell of Cameron’s signature wood-scented shampoo wafted into her nose as she turned her head in search of him. His side of the bed was made, as if he hadn’t slept there. Kirsten began to wonder why until the events of the last few days started to trickle in.
The Kiss, Blair, finding out her mother was still alive, almost losing herself in the stitch - in her own mind - Cameron’s promise to never leave her … So much had happened in the last seventy-two hours. Kirsten had experienced so many new emotions, tremendous highs and devastating lows, disbelief, ecstasy, pain to the point she almost couldn’t breath … Even though she was lying still, her head started to spin. Shaking the thoughts loose, Kirsten threw the covers back and swung her feet over the side of the bed, her muscles screaming with every move she made.
Sitting on the edge, Kirsten stretched her arms over her head, her eye catching sight of the heavy blue material covering her arms. Looking down at herself, Kirsten was dressed in one of Cameron’s thermals and a pair of his boxers, just like the first time she’d woken up at his apartment. She couldn’t help but smile at the memory.
Rolling her neck a few times, Kirsten turned her head from left to right and back again, rolling her shoulders forward to try and work out some of the stiffness. Her joints cracked as she extended and contracted each leg a few times. She could feel tightness in her back as she pushed her shoulder blades together. Doing a quick physical inventory of her pain, Kirsten continued to knead and stretch the parts of her body that hurt the most before making her way towards the living room.
Kirsten slid the door to Cameron’s bedroom open to find him sitting on the couch, legs propped up and crossed on his living room table, a bowl of cereal in his lap. An episode of Rachael Ray was playing on the television.
Falling into the opposite side of the couch, Kirsten pulled her knees to her chest and gave Cameron a small smile.
Putting the show on pause, Cameron turned his body towards her and returned her smile. He softly said, “Morning, Sunshine. How ya feeling?”
As her pseudo-doctor and her best friend, Kirsten knew this conversation was coming. Cameron was always so concerned with her well-being, but it was too early and she wasn’t ready to have that talk.
She shrugged and said, “Morning. Haven’t had any coffee yet.” Hoping to navigate the conversation away from her, she nudged Cameron with her foot and continued, “Should I be more worried about you? You have a house guest and there’s no breakfast buffet awaiting!”
Setting his bowl aside, Cameron jumped off the couch with a big smile. “I can make you anything you want: eggs, bacon, sausage, Nutella pancakes, waffles, or - ooh! Crepes!” His face became more and more animated as he listed off the dishes he could prepare.
Chuckling, Kirsten waved him down. “I’m just kidding. I’m not very hungry, but if you have any coffee, I will take a cup.”
“You know I always have a pot brewing just for you. One cup of coffee coming right up!”
Kirsten followed Cameron across the floor and into the kitchenette, taking a seat at the island. She watched as he pulled a mug out of one of the cabinets above the stove.
When he set the cup down in front of her, he cocked his head to the side and said with concerned eyes, “So really, Stretch, how ya doing?”
Kirsten took a long sip of her coffee. She’d hoped that her not-so-subtle aversion to the question earlier would have been enough of a hint that she didn’t want to talk, but Kirsten knew Maggie, Ayo, Fisher, Camille and probably the rest of the lab were waiting for him to report. Sitting the cup down, she shrugged and said, “I don’t really feel anything.”
Standing on the opposite side of the island, hands planted firmly on the marble countertop, Cameron’s eyebrows furrowed, his eyes flooded with apprehension.
“Like temporal dysplasia don’t feel anything?”
Kirsten shook her head no. “It’s just,” she started, wrapping her hands around her mug, “in light of all that’s happened, I feel like I should be feeling more, but there’s nothing really there. No anger, no sadness, no joy nor pain. No anxiety. At least, not at the moment. Is that a thing? You feel so much that you don’t feel anything at all?”
“It can happen.” The V on his forehead became more prominent as his eyebrows almost became one. “But you remember everything that happened?”
Looking into her mug, she nodded and said, “Everything. Meeting my sister. Losing my dad. Finding out my mother is not only still alive, but is some kind of secret NSA asset. Everything with Blair, Stamperson, and the lab infiltration. Almost committing ‘suicide by stitch’.” Meeting his eyes, Kirsten continued, “Kissing you.”
Cameron’s eyes never left hers, and though he kept his composure, a slight blush rose in his cheeks. He cleared his throat before he spoke again.
“Staying in the stitch too long didn’t seem to damage anything vital, as far as I can tell. We got you out of the lab so quickly; there wasn’t enough time to run an in depth analysis, so we still have a lot to talk about. Maggie and Ayo are waiting for me to get back to them.”
“I figured, but I’m alive and mostly well.” Reaching across the counter, Kirsten squeezed Cameron’s hand. “Can’t it wait for a few hours? Since you didn’t wake me and circumstances that be, I’m guessing we have the day off. We can do whatever you want! Binge watch a new show on Netflix; visit a museum; go to that noodle shop you’ve been talking about - assuming you don’t already have plans with Nina or something.”
Cameron finally averted his eyes. “Actually, I ended things with Nina.”
She felt her eyes widen in shock. They had chalked their kiss up to awkward and intense in-the-moment emotions, so Kirsten was surprised to hear that Cameron had broken things off, especially when they seemed to be getting along so well. She was almost afraid to ask what happened - thinking it could have had something to do with her, but she wanted to keep the focus off of her for as long as possible. Plus, Cameron was her friend and she wanted to make sure he was okay.
Giving his hand another squeeze, she asked, “Really? Why?”
He gave a tiny shrug. “The job was getting in the way of our relationship. Maggie said it would. Not being able to tell Nina the truth was becoming problematic, and …” he trailed off.
Kirsten waited for him to continue, but when he didn’t, she prompted, “And?”
Looking back up at her, he said, “Don’t get me wrong, I cared about Nina, but I’ve come to realize that my feelings for her were kind of just a placeholder for my feelings for you. Right now, it’s you, Kirsten. I said our kiss was much needed awkwardness because you seemed horrified and I immediately felt bad about Nina, but if that was your way of letting me know that you feel the same way, then,” squeezing her hand in return, “I would like to see where us goes. That is, if you’re not too overwhelmed by everything.”
Kirsten was having déjà vu, her mind flashing back to the Delaney case. Not realizing until too late, Cameron had invited the serial killer back to his apartment. Dr. Blake had threatened to take Cameron’s life, and after having stared death in the face once again, he realized he no longer wanted to live his life in fear; he wanted to live unafraid, confessing that and his feelings for Kirsten to her.
At the time, her temporal dysplasia had recently departed and she didn’t want to give Cameron false hope that she’d be able to reciprocate his feelings, but now? She couldn’t deny that his being with Nina had made her question how she felt about him, but she wasn’t sure if that was out of true jealousy or just missing her best friend. And the kiss? She had been extremely emotional, her usual impeccable judgment and rationale clouded, but in her crazy, mixed up haze, Cameron had been her one point of reference, her true North, the one person she wanted to be with, to talk to. Which had to mean something, right? But Kirsten also knew herself, and had been getting to know herself in ways she’d never imagined possible. Even though they worked well as partners, she didn’t know if they - if she - could make anything more work.
“I -” she said, eyes wide, grasping for words that seemed so far out of reach at the moment. “Our relationship is the most important one in my life right now, and I don’t want anything to compromise that.”
Kirsten watched as Cameron’s face begin to fall. He pulled his hand back from hers.
“If you’re saying you need more time, that’s fine, but we’ve kind of had this conversation before. So if you’re trying to tell me that you don’t feel the same way a -”
“No, that’s not it!” Kirsten cut him short, surprising both him and herself.
Cameron raised his eyebrows in expectation.
Kirsten took Cameron’s hand into both of her own. “I can’t lose you, and I feel like being in a relationship might be the catalyst that makes that happen. You have this heart of gold, Cameron Goodkin, whereas mine is made up of fragmented pieces that don’t really fit together. I don’t know how to be what you need. My whole relationship with Liam was a farce, so technically I’ve never really done the whole girlfriend thing. I don’t want to make you a promise I can’t keep. I don’t want to be responsible for tarnishing that beautiful heart of yours.”
She was scared. It wasn’t a feeling she’d experienced much since she’d become reacquainted with her emotions, but she knew the sensation well enough: accelerated heart rate, dry mouth, sweaty palms. Cameron was the most important person in her life, and she didn’t want her inadequacies to ruin something that was already so amazing.
Cameron walked around the island and sat on the stool beside her. Their knees touched, skin to fabric, and Kirsten’s heartbeat picked up. She was scared of what Cameron was going to say, good or bad, but she knew that wasn’t the only reason her pulse had started to race.
He took both of her hands in his. Ducking his head, he looked up through his lashes. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but was that your way of saying you do have feelings for me?”
Considering the way her body was reacting to a simple bump of the knees, Kirsten could do nothing but nod.
He continued, “But you think you might break my heart?”
Kirsten shrugged. “I’m damaged goods, Goodkin.”
Cameron scooted his stool closer so their touching knees became intertwined legs, and Kirsten had to swallow the lump in her throat in order to breathe. She didn’t understand how not wanting to talk had turned into such an intimate conversation, but it was too late to turn back.
Readjusting his grip on her hands, Cameron said, “Neither of us has had normal lives. You because of your temporal dysplasia, and me because of my heart. I’ve almost died, multiple times, because of the ol’ ticker, and you’ve missed out on this messy but beautiful and vibrant world because of a condition you’ve had no control over. If you’re damaged goods, then I’m like the stale bread Ralph’s sits on the discount display that no one buys.
“Trust me when I say that I am pretty confident I know what being in a relationship with you will be like. You may be the most stubborn person I’ve ever met. I thought not knowing personal boundaries was a symptom of temporary dysplasia, but that wasn’t something that went away when your TD did.” He gave her a genuine smile and winked, “Besides, I don’t really mind it. I would always need to keep extra Nutella on hand, and I would be doing most of the cooking on the nights we stay in. I understand that there are concepts and emotions that I still might have to explain to you. Even after all that, God help me, I still want you, Kirsten.”
Cameron’s words echoed in her head I still want you, Kirsten, reinforced by the admiration in his eyes. She’d known the feeling of being wanted before, but it was usually just for her brain and what she could do for others. But here this amazing man sat in front of her saying that he wanted her for her and an indescribable warmth filled her body. Kirsten thought her soul might be smiling.
“If you need more time, take all the time you need. If you want to take things slow, just let me -” Kirsten closed what little distance there was between them, bringing her lips to his. This time there was no hesitation. Cameron cupped her face, but he didn’t push forward. He allowed her to take the lead, and as much as her body wanted to go full steam ahead, her mind was, surprisingly, much more clear.
Breaking the kiss, Kirsten rest her forehead against Cameron’s and smiled. She said, “I don’t need more time, but I think we should take this slow. I don’t want to rush headlong into a relationship with so much uncertainty ahead of us.”
“The odds may not be in our favor, but you and I have faced bigger ones. If anyone can make this work, it’s us, KC.”
Kirsten gave Cameron another slow kiss, savoring the feel of his warm lips on hers, the lingering taste of honey on his tongue.
“I hope you’re right,” she said when she pulled away. “But all this talking has made me hungry. How about those Nutella crepes, now?”
Grinning, Cameron pecked Kirsten on the forehead and said, “Coming right up.”
Had this sitting in my Google Docs for a while, but decided to finish it in light of getting a season three! Yay! (Feels a little rusty, but whatevs.) Happy Stitchers S3!