The night was over. This time for real. Vanessa's killer was officially in the hands of Fisher and the police. Another victory for the Stitchers team but to Cameron, this one, tasted bittersweet. It was hard for him to admit, but he was the one who did't want her to go home tonight, he was the one who wanted her to avoid Liam for as long as possible. He tried to push her before Mia appeared.
“What, are you my therapist now?” she said to him with the typical annoyed tone that she used every time he brought up the topic.
“No, but debating your answer ever since he proposed, not once have I heard you mention love. “ He was holding the stone that Jessica – Vanessa's co-host – gave him earlier that day, hoping it would protect his heart. “Do you love him?”
She stopped walking and his heart was so loud in his ear he was scared he wouldn't be able to hear her answer. But she did't answer. When she turned her gaze was stolen by Mia.
They were now in the parking lot “Do you need a ride, Stretch? I can't see your car” he said looking around.
She nodded walking toward his convertible. They both had the same thought: maybe we can keep on driving and never turn back, but it was just a fantasy.
She tiredly fell into his passenger seat and just like that she was gone. She was in her living room with Liam, giving him that answer, and Cameron's chest started aching at the thought. He drove slowly. He kept looking over at her to see if she was still next to him, the light on the street caressing her skin so gently in a way he would never be able to do, not after tonight. Before there was at least the fantasy, maybe the hope even, but everything was about to change. She was still absorbed in thought when he stopped the car in front of her driveway. The light in the living room was on. Liam was waiting.
She looked at him confused. Both his hands on the wheel facing something outside, she followed his gaze just to notice her own house. Were they here already? She felt like she just sat down but it was already time to go. She should have been used to that feeling but usually she was trying to force herself to find a way to feel the passage of time, like counting how many seconds were passing between Cameron's nicknames. Another thought hit her mind. During their whole drive home they hadn't said a word to each other. Cameron never shut up. When he was driving her home from the lab he was able to go on and on about the tech and what it can do, and when he was driving her back after a case he would always ask her how she felt, if everything was alright, and how reckless she had been. She usually would just roll her eyes and give him some annoyed but clever answer but none of it happened this time and it felt off.
“That was fast” she said after a couple of seconds of silence. Cameron turned to face her and just smiled. It was a weak smile the kind that doesn't reach his eyes, a smile she thought she saw before but she couldn't place it. Her eyes got wider and filled up with questions.
“This is your stop, Princess. Your carriage has reached its destination”
It was fast, he felt it too, but he wasn't affected by temporal dyspepsia. His condition was all too common, all too normal, even boring compared to hers. A memory invaded him for a second.
“Is this what love is? Intense connection and then heartbreaking loss?”
Yes it was. For him at least. He didn't know back then, he thought it was just his sense of responsibility that urge to protect her, to face the danger like he thought he would never be able to do. He wasn't one of the brave kids growing up. Before the accident he constantly got bullied and never stood up for himself, so his parents paid for private tutoring. In college no one even noticed him. He was the nerdy guy with the spiky hair who had no friends. The Stitchers program changed all that, and now some guy who had disappeared for two years, was about to take everything away from him, to take her away from him. Rage shook him and his hands clenched the wheel.
He was just fooling himself, she never was his, she was always someone else's girlfriend and in just a couple of minutes she would become someone else's fiancee.
He wanted to stop the time and then jump forward where his sensitive heart wasn't breaking anymore. He felt the stone in his jacket pocket pressing against his shirt. It didn't help, not that he expected it to work anyway.
He looked at Kirsten one more time and said “Goodnight, Stretch.” She smiled in response.
“Talk to you tomorrow?” she opened the door still looking at him waiting for an answer, like she wasn't sure she would ever see him again, and a wave of fear swept over her unexpectedly, it was like she could see him disappearing in front of her, another flash of Vanessa's vision of him unconscious in the corpse cassette in the lab. He brought her back to reality by saying “Of course”. She stepped out of the car and he watched her walking away. He reached for the stone in his pocket as Kirsten closed the door behind her. He crushed the stone into his palm so hard that a jagged edge broke the skin and when he opened his hand the stone was stained with his blood. He was lost in thought when he heard a knock.
“Hey there, sorcerer, are you about to cast a spell or something?”
He looked up and he saw Camille grinning down at him. He put the stone back in his pocket embarrassed, trying to quickly think about what to say. She saved him the trouble.
“Are you okay?” the look on his face made her worry “Is Kirsten okay?” she looked toward the house.
“Yes” he answered “Our Lois Lane solved another case” he smiled but, again, it didn't came out quite right, Camille looked at him with a raised eyebrows, her hands on her hips. He cleared his voice “I just dropped her off, she's in there with Liam now, probably giving him his answer”.
“Oh. Did she decided yet?”.
“Well, I don't know what the answer will be...”
She cut him off “Even Kirsten can't say no to that pretty package”. She regretted her words as soon as they came out of her mouth.
“How was your evening?” she would love to have been saved by a change of topic, but this was't the case. She didn't want to talk about that evening, she didn't even wanted to think about it.
She had a great time with Linus and his parents. She felt like she belonged there and like she was wanted, but when she crossed the threshold on her way out she was back in the real world, a world where she knew she was only good at one thing: screwing things up. It didn't take long.
As the door closed behind them, Linus stepped next to her taking a deep breath “Wow, that was... wow”.
“Yes” was all she was able to say, hugging herself, moving her hands frenetically over her arms as if to warm herself up, even thought the night wasn't cold at all.
Linus didn't notice, he was ecstatic. Camille met his parents and they liked her. She just had to be herself, the script he worked on for a whole day wasn't needed after all, things were going perfectly in Linus' life: he had a great job, the best parents in the world and the most gorgeous girlfriend on the planet. He was a lucky dude. He started walking toward his car and Camille followed. He kept talking but she wasn't listening, the sound of her inner voice was too loud “You will screw this up. You are not fitting in this picture. You are a lone wolf. You don't rely on other people. People suck. You are going to screw this up and you are going to get hurt”.
Linus opened the door for her, still talking. He was so happy. She looked at his smile and all she could think about was that it would't last for long.
He sat next to her and finally stopped. He was looking at her, waiting for an answer.
She blinked and looked back at him.
“Your place or my place?”
She wasn't ready for it.
“Listen Linus. Tonight I had fun, but let's be honest. I came here to help a friend, nothing more than that. I am not girlfriend material, we agreed this was a one time only deal.”
Linus was now confused.
“But... I thought...” he started without knowing how to finish the sentence.
“You thought what, Linus? I was clear from the beginning. I am not that kind of girl. I just want to have fun. You decided a long time ago that it was your mission to change me but I don't want to be changed... I don't need to be fixed”, she was angry now.
Linus wasn't sure where all this was coming from. They were happy just a couple of minutes before, did he say something wrong? “Camille... I... I'm sorry if I said something wrong, I don't want you to change, I like you exactly the way you are”
“The way you are”, that hit her harder than she expected. “You are going to screw it up, Camille, that's who you are, you are a mess, he is going to find out soon enough”.
“You wanted to change me Linus, you wrote a script for me, do you understand? A script! You wanted me to lie about who I am because you thought I wasn't enough” he was right, her brain was shouting at her and she raised her voice to cover the sound of her own thoughts “You don't know who I am... You just know who you want me to be”. There was a minute of silence that went on for what felt like much longer. “I am sorry Linus. It was nice, but now it's over.” She took a deep breath and she stepped out of the car.
“Camille, where are you going?” Linus got off of the car with a jump.
“I'm going home, Linus. You should go home too”.
She saw the lights of a car coming in their direction. A cab. What a perfect coincidence, like a message that leaving was the right thing to do. Without hesitation she lifted her hand and the cab slowed down. “I'm sorry” she said before stepping into the yellow car.
“I need a drink, and from the look on your face, you need one too, my friend”. She jumped in the passenger seat of Cameron's convertible. “I've always wanted to do that”.
Cameron looked at her astonished. Did he have something better to do? Somewhere else to be? Was someone waiting for him? No, no and again no.
“Where are we headed?”
“I know a place not too far from here”
Cameron started the car and left tread marks on the ground. He drove fast like he was running away, and Camille did't have any problem with that... she was on the run too, after all.
The dirt on the ground where Cameron's car was parked hadn't settled yet when Liam stormed out of Kirsten's apartment with his bag on his shoulder.