Category: Drama, along with snarky humour
Rating: FRT (Fan Rated Suitable for Teenagers)
Spoilers: Sports Medicine, Control
Summary: House is ordered to take a vacation. How to keep from going insane with boredom?
Disclaimer: House and its characters are not mine. The story itself is, however, so please don't archive without my permission.
Author's notes: For Misty, who wanted me to write a House/Cameron fic.
I'd already started writing this fic before the episode Control aired, but it wasn't really getting anywhere. Then I saw Control, and it just clicked. This had to be an episode fix! And yes, I really do believe that his "no" was a complete lie. This is just my take on it. ;)
Btw, in order to set this fic straight after Control, I had to mess around with the time line a bit. The festival mentioned is a real event held in Cape May, New Jersey, and it's scheduled for the weekend of April 15, 2005. The episode Control originally aired on March 15, 2005, so there's a bit of a discrepancy there, heh heh. Just ignore that, 'k? ;)
Also, I know next to nothing about New Jersey, its landscape, and its people. Every single piece of information I have about it was gathered either from television or the internet, so you can pretty much bet that it's not one hundred percent accurate. I did my best, though! Please don't hurt me if I got something wrong. ;)
"I hope you realize that I know more than one thousand ways to kill a person slowly and painfully, and that I'm not afraid to use this knowledge for my own personal gain."
Dr. Moulton just gave me a blank look. "You really think threats are going to help you here, Dr. House?"
I shrugged. "It's worth a try," I said, trying not to let it show how disappointed I was that the comment had fallen flat. Damn, and I'd been saving that one for a special occasion.
"Look, I told you, I don't know anything, okay? Can I please go now?"
I studied him carefully, looking closely for any sign of deceit on his pudgy little face. Those shifty eyes... the sweat forming on his brow... oh, he was hiding something, alright. "Not until you hand it over, you little weasel," I said menacingly. I had just decided that perhaps use of the cane was in order when I heard high heels clicking on the floor behind me.
"Dr. House, what the hell are you doing?"
Dr. Moulton took the opportunity to scoot from the room, so I was left facing the dragon alone. Oh yeah, I was petrified.
"What does it look like I'm doing?" I challenged. "I'm doing time in the clinic, per your order. Unless you have something better in mind..."
"I mean, what were you doing to Dr. Moulton? It looked like you were about to cane him or something."
I offered her my most innocent expression and laid a hand on my chest in feigned shock. "Me? Never. I was merely... asking him a question." Yeah, that's right...
Cuddy folded her arms across her ample chest and gave me The Look. "What question?"
I tried to think up a suitable cover story, but finally settled for the truth. "He stole my Gameboy."
Cuddy stared at me for a second before she burst out laughing. "He stole your Gameboy?" she repeated. "Dr. Moulton stole your Gameboy?"
The nerve. She was making fun of me. "Well, somebody did," I said defensively. "And he's been hovering around here all day, so either he took it or knows who did. I tried asking nicely, and I tried asking not so nicely, but he won't even throw me a bone."
Cuddy smirked. "A dog metaphor. How fitting."
"Woof." It was the best comeback I could think of, as my brain was still fuming over the unfairness of it all.
She gave me that look that I've come to realize is her attempt at figuring me out. She never really does, but she gives it her best shot every time, bless her. "Is there something bothering you?" she asked.
Bothering me? What kind of question was that? "Yes, there is," I said. "My Gameboy is missing. And dammit, I nearly had those space monkeys beat." Duh.
"No, this isn't about the Gameboy," she said. "You've been even more ornery than usual the past few days."
"Yes, ornery. You've been snapping at your patients..."
"That's what I do."
"...quarrelling with other doctors..."
"...you made a little girl cry yesterday just by looking at her."
"She was picking her nose! It was disgusting!"
"And what about your team?"
I froze mid-comeback as these words sank in. Yes, my team. For once, Foreman was the only one who could look at me straight after what had happened the week before. Still, I feigned innocence. "What about them?"
Cuddy shot me a disappointed glare. "You think I haven't noticed? Dr. Chase has been walking on eggshells lately for fear that you're going to fire him, Dr. Cameron has barely said a word, and Dr. Foreman..."
"Maybe so, but my question is, what have you been doing to them?"
I sighed and rolled my eyes. "Chase screwed up. You know that as well as I do."
"And you're just going to hold this over his head forever? People make mistakes..."
"Are we done?" I'd just about lost patience with the conversation, and I still had a Gameboy to find.
"No, we're not done," she said. "When's the last time you took a vacation?"
I blinked at her, sure that I couldn't have heard her correctly. "What?"
Cuddy half-smiled. "Wow, it's been so long that you've forgotten what the word means," she said.
"I know what the word means," I said, annoyed that she'd managed to catch me off guard. "I meant... what does that have to do with anything?"
"You're stressed out," she said matter-of-factly. "You need a break. I'm sure that getting away from here for a few days will be good for you."
"I'm not stressed out! Well... no more than usual... but I don't need a vacation. I'm fine."
"I can make it an order if you want."
"What is this, the military? If you're implying that I work too much, I think you're contradicting yourself. You're usually at me to work more. And if you're implying that I never get out, you're wrong there, too. I had that monster truck thing a couple weeks ago..."
"So, go to another one," she said.
I rolled my eyes again. "Yeah, five hundred bucks a ticket... I should do it every day." Women...
Cuddy gave me her no-nonsense glare. It doesn't usually work on me, but somehow she'd gained the upper hand in this conversation, and it actually did make me feel as though I had to do what she said. I hate when that happens. "Take a vacation," she said with an air of finality. "Do something fun for a few days."
I followed her as she started for the door. "Like what?" I asked.
"I don't know... go to a baseball game, play golf, go for a drive in the country, take up skydiving... just do something that isn't here."
"Look," she said, turning around to face me again with that same glare magnified tenfold, "I want you out of my hospital for at least the next week, is that clear?"
My jaw just about hit the floor. "A week? What if there's an emergency? What if a patient's life is hanging in the balance, and I'm the only one capable of saving them?"
"Yeah, like you even care," she said as she swung the door open and stepped out into the main area of the clinic.
"I care!" I said before I really thought about it. Okay, so that wasn't exactly my usual M.O. "I... care that I might miss out on something cool, but I care," I finished.
Cuddy glared again and pointed for the door. "Out!"
It was like talking to a wall. "Fine," I grumbled. "I'll be out of your hair within the hour." I turned to go, but threw back over my shoulder, "But I'd better find that Gameboy. No way am I surviving a whole week's vacation time without it."
I grumbled my way from the clinic to my office, cursing everyone from Cuddy to Vogler to Wilson... but especially Vogler. If I was really feeling more stressed out than usual, it was all thanks to him. "Lab coat my ass," I mumbled as I pushed open my office door. It seemed to be his mission in life to make me miserable.
No sooner had I approached my desk and started gathering my stuff than Wilson appeared at the door. "There you are," he said. "I've been looking for you."
I glared at him without raising my head - my favourite intimidation tactic. One that never works on Wilson, I might add. "I was in the clinic," I said.
"Oh... well, that was actually the one place I didn't look."
Smart ass. "What do you want?"
He stepped forward and held something out to me. "I came to give this back."
I stared at it for a moment, not fully believing my eyes. When I finally convinced myself that I wasn't imagining things, I raised my gaze back to Wilson. "You didn't."
He smirked. Yes, Mr. Nice Guy, goody-two-shoes, butter-wouldn't-melt-in-his-mouth, little Jimmy Wilson smirked. At me. Greg House. He was so dead.
"I did," he said smugly. "I needed something to do on my lunch break, and that just happened to be close at hand."
"How many times have I told you not to touch my stuff without permission?" I demanded as I snatched my precious back from his dirty little paws.
"Obviously not often enough," he said. "But come on, it's not like I didn't bring it back."
"Yeah, well, thanks to you, Cuddy has demanded that I take a vacation."
"She caught me as I was about to beat the truth out of Dr. Moulton as to what he'd done with it, and told me I seemed more stressed out than usual and needed a break," I told him. "So, thank you very much. Now I'm going to have a whole week of nothing to do."
"Hey, it's hardly my fault. I wasn't the one getting violent with another doctor."
"No, oh no," I scoffed, "you have more civil ways of torturing your friends and colleagues." As proof of this, I waved the Gameboy at him and then stuffed it in my bag. "You're the one who should be punished, not me."
"Punished?" Wilson said with a laugh. "How is a week's vacation punishment?"
"Vacation?" said Foreman's voice from the doorway. "I could do with one of those about now."
I rolled my eyes and returned to my packing as Foreman, Chase, and Cameron entered the room. "Wanna trade?"
They all gave me identical blank looks. They're all so adorable when they're clueless. "You'd rather be here working than on vacation?" Foreman asked.
"Frankly, yes," I replied. "It's not like I've made plans or anything. Then it would be different. No, Cuddy has 'ordered' me to take a few days off at short notice. I'll probably die of boredom in the meantime, but maybe that's exactly what she wants. All part of her evil plan to get rid of me."
"Wow, it'll really be short-staffed here for the next few days," Chase mused aloud. "I'm leaving for Switzerland, Dr. Wilson has a conference, and... Cameron, aren't you going to that jazz festival this weekend?"
Cameron whirled around and swatted his arm. "Shh!"
But it was too late. I was interested. "Oh?" I said. "What jazz festival?"
Cameron looked like she'd been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. "It's... the Cape May jazz festival. An old friend of mine is playing in one of the bands, and he gave me free tickets. I'm sure I told..." She stopped before she could finish her sentence.
I knew what she'd been about to say, though. She was going to say that she thought she'd told me, but then she realized that she hadn't been telling me anything at all lately, outside of stuff related to the job. To be honest, I was starting to miss the chatter. "Well, it... sounds like fun," I said, trying my best to sound cheerful. "I'm sure you'll be having a much better time than I will this weekend. Although, I have been meaning to give the refrigerator a good clean. That should kill a few hours, at least."
Okay, so the cheerful thing wasn't really working out.
"I'm sure you'll find something to keep you occupied," Wilson said as he edged towards the door. "Have you tried golfing?"
"Oh, you're so helpful," I grumbled at his back as he left the room.
"Well, we'd just stopped by to offer you a new case, but since you're leaving..." Foreman saluted and turned to go. "Have a fun vacation, Dr. House."
I could have sworn he sounded victorious. Now I was left wondering what I was going to be missing out on.
"Yeah, have fun," Chase echoed. "You, too, Cameron, in case I don't see you later."
"Thanks," she said.
I didn't bother saying a word.
Cameron slowly followed after Foreman and Chase, but once they were out of sight, she stopped. I watched her curiously as she stood there at the door with her back towards me for a second, wondering what the hell she was waiting for. Then suddenly she sighed, turned around, and said, "I have two tickets and was only going to use one, so... if you want the other one..."
I felt a pang of guilt at the look on her face. I couldn't remember ever seeing her look at me like that before. It was like she was feeling sad, hurt, betrayed, guilty, convicted, scared, and resigned all at once. I didn't like it at all.
"That's okay," I said. "You go, have fun. You don't need your boss tagging along after you. Besides, the hotels in the area are probably already booked."
"It's just that I know you love jazz, so I'd feel bad if..."
"Really, it's fine," I cut her off. "I'll find something to do. I always do." I grabbed my bag and my cane and started for the door, hoping to get out of there before the conversation went any further.
Damn leg. I'm never fast enough.
"I really wouldn't mind you 'tagging along,' and I'm sure the friend I'm staying with wouldn't mind taking you in, too."
I stopped dead in my tracks and studied her closely. It looked as though the words she'd just said were positively painful for her. As much as the situation was making me uncomfortable, I had to admire that. Let it never be said that Dr. Allison Cameron doesn't have guts.
So, how could I possibly refuse?
"What do I wear?" I asked, hoping she would pick up on the reference. She'd said the same to me a couple weeks earlier when I'd asked her to the monster truck rally. Hopefully she would take it for the tension breaker I'd intended it to be.
She looked confused for a second, but then realization dawned. The ghost of a smile flitted across her face, but then it vanished. "I, um... I'll be leaving tomorrow morning, so if you want me to drive you down, or want to follow me in your car, then you should be ready by nine."
I nodded. "I've learned from past experience that following someone else's car never goes quite as planned," I said tentatively.
"Then... you can ride with me," she said. Before I even had a chance to respond, she slipped out of the room and disappeared down the hall.
It was then that I started to wonder just what I'd gotten myself into.