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A Call for Dr. Goodkin

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            It was late. Any enthusiasm for the current case had worn off hours ago as the team puzzled over what Kirsten’s latest stitch could mean and where the clues would lead. Cameron was exhausted to say the least, so when his phone rang and he saw “Mom” pop up on the screen, he let out a long sigh.

            I do not have the energy for a fight tonight, Mom. Keep it civil.

            Despite himself, Cameron answered the phone, “Hey, Mom.”

            “Hi my sweet, Cameron. How are you?” She cooed.

            “I’m good. Tired but good.” He answered truthfully. “How are you?”

            “Busy.”

            “Okay. Listen, I really should go- “

            “The research position at MIT has opened up again. I think you should take it.”

            “Mom. I already have a job here. And a life.”

            “Being stuck in a government lab in a random basement is not a life.”

            “I have friends.”

            “Have you met someone?”

            “Not exactly.”

            “Cameron.”

            “Mom.

            “I think you should at least consider it. You’ve always loved the east coast, and your salary would increase exponentially. And you’d be at the forefront of neuroscience research and technology. The field would be lucky to have you.”

            “Mom I- “

            “Don’t let your talents waste away.” Click. Marion hung up without so much as a goodbye. Typical.


            The next morning, Cameron sat at a table in the breakroom clutching a cup of coffee and staring off into space.

            Kirsten shuffled in, bleary-eyed from a restless night obsessing over finding Stinger, and made a beeline for the coffeemaker. As she brewed herself a large, extra-strong cup, she muttered, “Good morning” over her shoulder to Cameron who didn’t answer.

            She turned to look at him as he sat there lost in space and sat down in front of him with her freshly brewed coffee. She nudged his leg gently with her foot. “Earth to Cameron.”

            “Sorry, what?” He asked, coming out of his reverie.

            “You okay?” She asked.

            “Yeah, no. Yeah.”

            “That’s not very convincing.”

            “I know.”

            “What’s up?”

            “I got a call from my mom last night,” Cameron finally answered.

            “Oh.” I understand. “Is everything alright?”

            “Yeah. She just called to tell me about a research position that opened up. It’s a dream position for me, really. But I passed it up years ago to join the Stitchers program. And here I am.”

            “Here you are. Where’s the position at?”

            “MIT.”

            “Wow. That’s so impressive.”

            “It’s also so far away.”

            “You’re not scared are you.” It wasn’t so much a question as a challenge.

            “That’s not it.”

            “Then what’s stopping you from chasing your dream?”

            Cameron gives Kirsten a meaningful look, which she deftly ignored.

            Eventually Cameron said, “Nothing…I guess.”

            “I think it’s really great Cameron. You should go for it.” Kirsten said, trying to mean it.

            “You think so?”

            More convincing this time, “Yeah. You should at least think about it.”

            “Okay, I will. Thanks,” Cameron said, still a little deflated. Nevertheless, he forced a smile as he stood up and headed to his workstation.

            Kirsten remained seated, watching him go, the light gone from her eyes and an unfamiliar pressure in her chest.


            A few weeks passed without mention of the research job. But one morning Cameron practically bounced into the lab. He rushed up to Kirsten and exclaimed, “I got the job!” He enveloped her in a tight bear hug.

            “Cameron that’s great. I’m so proud of you,” she said as he released her from his grasp.

            “Thanks. I can’t believe it’s actually happening.”

            “I can.”

            Linus and Camille walked up to them.

            “Congrats, bro!”

            “Congratulations, Cameron!” They cheered.

            “Thanks, guys!”

            “Have you told Maggie yet?” Camille asked.

            Cameron paled at the thought. “No, not yet,” he muttered quietly.

            Just then Maggie entered the lab. “What are you doing? Conference room now,” her voice as sharp and commanding as ever.

            “Cameron needs to talk to you,” Camille said, effectively throwing him under the bus.

            Cameron glared at Camille, but she just shrugged and said, “You’d never have done it on your own.”

            “Very true,” Linus chimed in.

            “That’s fair,” Cameron said at the same time.

            “Fine. My office. Conference room in five,” Maggie said. Cameron followed her into her office. She closed the door behind him and sat behind her desk.

            “Take a seat.”

            “I’m okay.”

            “Sit.”

            Cameron sat.

            Maggie said nothing.

            “I got the research job at MIT,” he finally squeaked out.

            “I know.”

            “Right. Of course.” Maggie knows everything.

            “When do you leave?”

            “A few weeks.”

            “Good. Then you’ll find us a replacement.” It wasn’t a request. It was an order.

            “Yes, ma’am.” Cameron nodded a little too enthusiastically.

            With that settled, Maggie led Cameron into the conference room.

            “How did it go?” Kirsten asked.

            “She took it pretty well, I think,” Cameron said.

            “No, dude. She’s furious,” Camille chimed in. The three of them looked towards Maggie, whose facial expression was cold and unreadable.

            “Definitely furious,” Kirsten agreed.

            “Yup. I’m a dead man,” Cameron nodded.


            Another case solved. More mind-mapping. And Kirsten and Cameron had barely talked since he first told her about the job opening. But with a day off and the weekend approaching, they finally had time to breathe and to be.  The rest of the team made their way toward the elevator, but Cameron and Kirsten hung back.

            As the elevator doors sealed shut, Kirsten joined Cameron at his desk and said, “Nice work out there.”

            “You too, Stretch.”

            Kirsten smiled at the nickname. “You know, it’s not going to be the same here without you.”

            “Don’t worry. Harry’s excellent. It’ll be like I never left,” Cameron reassured her.

            “I’m not worried about the program. I’m just…going…to…miss you,” Kirsten finally forced out, her face unreadable.

            “I’ll miss you too.” Cameron reached over, covering her hand with his, and gave it a tight squeeze. Kirsten opened her mouth as if to say something, but before she could get it out, the elevator dinged open and Linus came running back into the lab. Cameron and Kirsten both jerked their hands away, but not before he clocked their connection.

            “Oh, hey guys. Don’t mind me. Forgot my replica Star Wars jacket,” Linus explained as he speed-walked across the lab to his workstation.

            “We were actually just heading out,” Kirsten said, standing.

            “Ahem, yeah,” Cameron echoed.

            “Oh cool. Can you give me a ride then?” Linus asked Cameron.

            “Sure.”

            On the ride up to ground level, Kirsten turned to Cameron and said, “I’m really happy you’re going and living your dream. This is going to be perfect for you!”

            “Pretty much perfect.” Cameron smiled at Kirsten.

Kirsten flashed him a bright grin and said, “Bye Cameron, bye Linus. See you next week.”


            On the drive home, Cameron was unusually quiet. He barely reacted when Linus began rambling about Doctor Who. Linus stopped mid-sentence and said, “What’s wrong?”

            Cameron let out a long sigh. “Nothing.”

            “Well that definitely wasn’t convincing,” Linus said. “Spill it.”

            “Everything’s good. Kirsten’s been really supportive of me getting this job,” Cameron said.

            “She will miss you. We all will,” Linus said.

            “I just thought there was maybe something between us,” Cameron finally admitted.

            “We all did.”

            “What?” Cameron turned to Linus.

            “Nothing.”

            “Linus.”

            “It’s not like your feelings were a secret. This whole move though did put a wrench in our pool. I lost five hundred dollars,” Linus said.

            “You made bets on us getting together?!” Cameron cried.

            “It seemed inevitable,” Linus shrugged. “Guess I was wrong. Sorry, Cameron.”

            “Me too.” Cameron and Linus fell into a contemplative silence.

            “I made the right decision, right?” Cameron asked after a minute.

            “Are you excited about the job?” Linus asked.

            “Ecstatic.”

            “Then, yes. You did.”                                                                                                                                                   


            Kirsten climbed into the fish tank. Alex prepared the body in the corpse cassette. Linus double-checked the mind-mapping of the sample. Cameron stood at the helm, showing Harry the ropes.

            “You want to call it?” Cameron asked Harry after everyone was ready.

            “Sure,” Harry said, taking the earpiece from Cameron.

            “Engineering?”

            “Go.”

            “Life-Sci?”

            “Go.”

            “Medical?”

            “Go.”

            “Communications?”

            “Go.”

            “Kirsten?”

            Kirsten’s eyes flashed open at the use of her name rather than a nickname.

            “Kirsten?” Harry asked again.

            “Go.”

            “Commence Stitch Neurosync on my count. Three, two, Stitch!” Harry shouted enthusiastically. Everyone manned their stations as Harry navigated Kirsten through the sample’s memories. “Do you see anything, Kirsten?”

            “Of course, I do,” she practically snapped.

            “Great! Tell us what you discover whenever you’re ready.”

            “I always do.”

            After the stitch, Cameron pulled Kirsten aside. “What’s your problem?”

            “Nothing.”

            “Harry’s excellent.”

            “Yeah, sure.” Kirsten’s sarcasm was obvious.

            “He is qualified, kind, and everyone else likes him. So you’re just going to have to get used to him, cupcake.” This time it wasn’t the term of endearment it usually was but an insult. Cameron stormed off, not giving Kirsten time to respond.  


            “I can’t believe we just worked our last case together,” Kirsten said as she helped Cameron finish the paperwork on their latest case, the air still a little tense from their fight earlier in the week.

            “I know right?!”

            “We need to have a going away party,” Kirsten said.

            Just then, Camille walked by and said, “Oh, Linus and I already have that covered. Be here at five tomorrow evening.” Camille turned to Kirsten, “And don’t dress how you normally dress. Dress more like me. In fact, just pull something out of my closet.” Camille continued walking towards the elevator.

            “Alright, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow at five,” Kirsten said before following Camille. “Hold the door!” She called.

            When Cameron walked off the elevator at five the next evening, the entire Stitch lab had been transformed. The emergency lights flashed, and the other lights were dimmed. A hand-painted banner was draped over the corpse cassette, reading “Good Luck Cameron!!!” Streamers hung from the ceiling, and a huge cake lay on the table in the conference room. The team cheered as he entered the lab.

            “Congrats Cameron!”

            “Thanks, guys!”

            Camille popped the champagne and began filling flute glasses and passing them around to everyone. Harry cut the cake and brought slices out to everyone. When he presented one to Kirsten, she said, “No, thanks. I’m not big on chocolate.”

            Cameron looked at her but said nothing and took the cake from Harry. “Thanks, man.”

            “You’re welcome,” Harry said. He lingered with them, awkwardness building.

            “So-“ Kirsten began.

            “I think I’m gonna go,” Harry said at the same time.

            “Right,” Kirsten said.

            Harry turned abruptly and walked away.

            “K-“ Cameron began.

            “I know,” Kirsten said before walking away. Cameron walked over to his now empty desk and sat on the edge. Linus and Camille came and sat beside him.

            Camille raised her glass and said, “Here’s to new places and new adventures. Here’s to Cameron.”

            Linus and Cameron dinked their glasses with Camille, and Linus said, “To Cameron, forever my bro.”  They each took a sip, and moments later Kirsten returned and joined them around his desk. She had a slice of chocolate cake in her hand. Cameron looked from Kirsten’s face down to the cake and back up again. He raised his eyebrows but said nothing. Kirsten avoided his gaze, knowingly.

           “Who wants to do shots?” Kirsten asked, filling the silence.

            “Literally always,” Camille cheered, setting down her now empty champagne glass.

            “Shots! Shots! Shots!” Linus cheered.

            “Come with me,” Camille said, grabbing Kirsten by the arm and dragging her towards the breakroom. They returned with shot glasses and expensive tequila. Camille poured the tequila into the glasses, grabbed one, and took a shot. Kirsten, Cameron, and Linus all followed suit.

            Five, six, seven shots later, they were all sitting down, backs pressed against the concrete wall. “Alright Kirsten. Truth or dare?” Cameron asked.

            “Truth.” Kirsten took another shot.

            “Do you miss Liam?”

            “No.”

            Cameron looked away from the group to hide the smile he unsuccessfully tried to suppress.

            “Camille?” Kirsten asked.

            “Dare. Of course,” Camille answered.

            “Okay, I dare you to kiss someone you’ve never kissed before,” Kirsten said.

            “What are we? Twelve?” Camille asked. Kirsten simply raised her eyebrows, waiting. Camille leaned over Linus and gently kissed Cameron on the cheek. “I’m going to miss you, Goodkin.”

            Everyone stared at her, surprised and sobered by the reminder of Cameron’s leaving.

            “I’m sorry, I’ll be right back,” Kirsten said. She stood and made a beeline to the bathroom.

            “I’ll go check on her,” Camille said before following Kirsten.

            Kirsten was splashing her face with cold water when Camille entered the bathroom.

            “You okay?” She asked.

            “Yeah,” Kirsten answered. She grabbed a handful of paper towels and rubbed her face dry.

            “Why don’t you just tell him?” Camille asked.

            “I can’t.”

            “Why not?”

            “He’s about to leave.”

            “That’s exactly why you should tell him.”

            “It’s too late.”

            “It’s not too late until he’s on that plane.” Camille slung an arm around Kirsten’s shoulders. “Come on. You need one more round of truth or dare.”

            Kirsten smiled as she let Camille lead her out of the bathroom, but when they made their way over to where they had been sitting, Cameron and Linus were gone. Camille and Kirsten looked around the lab but couldn’t find either one of them. Camille walked over to Fisher and asked, “Where’s Cameron?”

            “He left just a few minutes ago.”

            Camille stared at him.

            “For the airport.”

            Camille still didn’t respond.

            “His flight leaves in an hour,” Fisher said. “Camille!”

            She finally snapped out of her shock and grabbed Kirsten by the arm, dragging her to the elevator. “Thanks, Fishy!” She called over her shoulder.


            Camille sped down the freeway. Kirsten sat in the passenger seat, the phone pressed to her ear.

            “He’s not answering.”

            “Try again.”

            “What if he doesn’t pick up?”

            “We’ll figure it out. Just keep trying.”


            Cameron paced at the gate, waiting to board the plane.

            Did I make the right decision?

            “I think it’s really great Cameron. You should go for it.”

            Yes.

            “I’m just…going…to…miss you.”

            No.

            “You should go for it.”

            Yes.

            “Going to miss you.”

            No.

            “Go.”

            Yes.

            “Miss you.”

            No.

            The only thing that broke Cameron out of his trance was hearing his name over the loudspeaker. “A call for Dr. Goodkin! A call for Dr. Goodkin!” The gate agent kept repeating.

            “That’s me,” Cameron said, rushing up to the counter and flashing his ID. The agent motioned to him, and he stepped around the counter and took the phone from the agent.

            “Cameron!” Kirsten practically screamed through the receiver.

            “Stretch, is everything okay?” His brow furrowed and the concern was evident in his voice.

            “No!” Kirsten practically sobbed.

            “What’s wrong?”

            “Turn around.”

            “What?”

            “Turn around.”

            Cameron turned and there stood Kirsten, phone pressed to her ear, tears streaming down her face. Cameron rushed over to her and cradled her face in his hands.

            “Kirsten, what’s going on-“ Cameron began.

            Kirsten cut him off before he could finish, saying all in one breath, “Iloveyou.”

            “What?”

            “I love you.” Tears continued to flow down Kirsten’s cheeks, and tears sprang to Cameron’s eyes as well.

            “I love you too,” he all but whispered before kissing her gently on the lips. When they kissed, everyone at the gate cheered, clapped, and hollered. They broke apart, laughing at the response. Kirsten smiled sheepishly, but Cameron beamed.

            “Come on, Stretch. Let’s get out of here,” Cameron took Kirsten’s hand in his and lead her towards the exit.

            “You’re really staying here for me?”

            “For us,” Cameron kissed Kirsten again and they both smiled as they walked into the crowd.