Summary: Cameron's got bad ideas, but she thinks she's also got some answers.
Follows 'Bad Ideas' - House of Cards series.
Disclaimer: Not mine: Fox, House, Cameron, the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Tragic.
No profit here. And I don't know anything about medicine.
It was a bad idea, and she didn't quite know why she'd done it. Well, alright, she did know, scientifically, technically, psychologically. Need for approval, forcing his hand, genuine curiosity and a heartbreakingly deeply buried emotion that she shouldn't have let herself cultivate.
Intimacy led to catastrophe. Anyone who knew anything about medicine knew that.
He'd said no. Of course he'd said no. What had she expected? An explanation? An apology? A declaration of undying love? What was she, twelve?
It stung, but she could live with it. It would be easier, knowing that he didn't feel the same way. She could forget about it, move on with her life.
"I don't get it," Chase declared en route to the MRI.
Scowling, Cameron kept a pace ahead of him. "There's a lot of things you don't get. Like how to keep your mouth shut, for example."
"Oh, because the fact that you have a thing for House is such a well-kept secret," he said scathingly.
Why had she ever thought it was a good idea to tell Chase about this, of all people? "Case in point. What, exactly, don't you understand? And narrow it down to the recent conversation, please."
"He makes you miserable!"
"House makes everyone miserable," Cameron pointed out. "Anyway, Wilson likes him." She yanked open the door of the imaging room with more force than was probably necessary.
Chase followed her in apparent disbelief. "Right, Wilson likes him. That's such a good basis for a relationship. Can't believe I didn't see that before."
"Fine!" she said, hackles finally raised, and turned on him, cheeks flushed. "You want to know why I like him? I'll tell you."
"This should be good," Chase muttered before she cut him off again.
"I'm curious. In fact I'm fascinated. How can someone so embittered survive? Does anything actually get through the skin of his ego? I wonder if deep down, he's just a big teddy bear that wants his mommy."
An open-mouthed stare was her only response for a moment. "Why did I think you were going to give me a straight answer?"
"Stupidity? Naivete? Lack of psychoanalytical skill?"
"God! How can you be so exactly like him?"
Cameron's lips made a thin line, the ends of which curled slightly downwards. "Now you're finally getting it."
"It's a bad idea."
Trying her best not to get irritated, Cameron just gritted her teeth. "That seems to be the general consensus, yes. God, what did Chase do, take out a newspaper ad?" Wilson looked confused. Cameron cringed, started her samples and sighed deeply. "Oh. House told you."
"It's not like he's got anyone else to talk to."
A half-felt snappy retort died on her lips. "You have a point." She scrolled through the test results Foreman had started earlier as they began to appear on the screen. Nothing, nothing, and nothing showing up on the tox screens, the white blood cell count was almost normal. The kid was going to need a full body scan to find out what was wrong with him. "Do you want me to back off so you don't have to hear about it?"
That got her attention. Wilson shifted under her gaze. "No? No, you don't want me to back off, or no, that's not what you meant?"
"It's not a difficult decision. There are two possibilities. One of them is a lie. And before you ask, yes, I do think you would lie to me. But I don't think it's in anyone's best interest."
He turned his head away and shoved his hands in his coat pockets. "House is rubbing off on you."
As if she hadn't heard that before. "Work on your misdirection. Answer the question, Dr. Wilson."
Wilson sighed. "No, you don't need to back off."
"I put everyone in a really awkward situation, didn't I?"
Something about that comment seemed to amuse him. "What, by being a better person than we are? I don't think anyone's going to blame you, although most of them will think you're crazy."
She shook her head. "Even I think I'm crazy." She went back to her tests.
A few minutes later, Wilson's answer actually sank in. "What did you mean, when you said…"
Sighing heavily as he slipped off the stool, Wilson kept his gaze focused on anything but her. "Okay, but first acknowledge that I told you what a bad idea it was."
"Your concern is duly noted." Tap, tap, tap on the keyboard. Nothing, nothing, nothing noteworthy. She tried to keep her hands from shaking. "Now would you please explain?" Pretending to be less interested than she was proved difficult.
Even Wilson's response was a typical non-response. "It's been a long time for him."
"Umm." Well, she hadn't really expected Wilson to rat on House- if he even knew anything. Still, a little more information would have been useful.
The kid's tests were normal, normal, normal, what was wrong with him? What was wrong with her? "How long?"
Cameron pushed her glasses up her nose with the back of her hand and closed her eyes. Six years would be about right. She knew from experience that it wasn't long enough to be used to being lonely. "Six years isn't all that long."
"Look, the point is that if you're going to employ some sort of typical three-strikes rule, you might as well forget about it. House isn't… He doesn't…."
"Doesn't, in fact, even like me," she reminded him- and herself- and grabbed the printed reports, heading for the kid's room. "Frustrating and yet fascinating. Just another day at work. Say hi to your patients for me, Dr. Wilson."
She really, really needed a Motrin. Or some chocolate.
"He needs an MRI," Cameron insisted, falling into step with House on the way back to the lounge.
"Everyone needs an MRI," he pointed out, not bothering to hold the door for her. She hardly even noticed. "Unfortunately for all of us, until one of you is fired, we are too much of a drain on resources to be allowed to have one."
That didn't make any sense. "What? But it would be covered-"
"By his parents' medical insurance, yes, I know. However, under the tight reign of Vogler we are all just labrats and he's waiting to see how much I can take before I crack and start running in neurotic little rat circles."
Cameron had thought House was cracked from the very beginning, but she didn't say that. What she said, entirely without intending to say anything, was, "Why don't you like me?"
For a moment the expression of pain on his face was bad enough that she thought she might have gone too far, but then he reached for the Vicodin. "Are you in on this, too?"
"What, on Vogler's obvious attempt to get all of us fired for worrying too much about our jobs and not enough about our patients? No, it sounds a little too much like a soap opera."
"I always knew you were a closet fan."
She rolled her eyes, exasperated. "Misdirection only works on Wilson anymore. Can't a person get any answers around here? Why don't you like me?"
He looked at her directly for the first time all day. "Why don't you hate me?"
Ouch. I see you, she wanted to say to throw him off. You can't hide from me. But if he wasn't going to be honest, then neither was she. Instead she said, "I never liked taking the easy way out. Something to prove, remember?" Then she headed for the door.
"Where are you going?"
"To see Vogler," she said grimly. She was pretty sure she was about to ruin any chances of him liking her, ever.
It was far too easy to get Cuddy to agree to her scheme.
"I want a resignation on the record," she said firmly. "There's no way this is getting in the way of my career. I'll cite personal reasons- any doctor who's heard of House will believe that."
Cuddy nodded, crossed her arms and tilted her head up. "Except me."
Cameron steeled herself. "Look, the kid needs an MRI. If we can't figure out what's wrong with him, he's going to die. So get Vogler to think House fired me, keep the two of them apart for awhile, get the kid his MRI, and at the end of the day I go home and don't come back."
"Okay. That's a good way to cover the bases. House loses, but Vogler doesn't necessarily win, either." Then she leaned forward slightly. "But it still doesn't explain why it has to be you. Why are you really resigning?"
Despite the seriousness of the situation, her headache, and the impending doom hanging over the head of the patient, she felt the corner of her mouth twitch. "Personal reasons."
She left Cuddy speechless. House would have been so proud.
"Run the MRI," she told him, practically forcing the file she was holding into his hands. "And the EKG and anything else really expensive you can think of." If she was going to be 'fired', she was going to cost them.
Three sets of eyes followed her across the room. Typically, House found his voice first. "A purposeful drain on hospital resources? Dr. Cameron, I've never seen this side of you. I wish you'd introduced us sooner."
Foreman narrowed his gaze. "Wait a minute. You talked down Vogler? When two different department heads, an administrator and a sick university student couldn't do it? What's your secret?"
She put on her sweetest face. "I'm better looking."
"No… she has a point," said House, but he was looking at her suspiciously.
Misdirection. All three sets of eyes were on her again. "Um, patient? Sick? Dying? Let's go."
In the end it turned out there was nothing they could do.
"Time of death, twelve fifteen a.m."
Cameron watched Chase put down the defibrillator. It had essentially been useless- if they had started the steroids earlier, he might have survived. But that was earlier as in months earlier- the tissue damage was too great.
The impact of the day's events finally hit her then, without the impending threat of the patient's death to keep them at bay. She'd given up her job, another year of specialist training and a lot of pride and it hadn't helped anyone. The kid had died anyway. House would continue to be miserable. Vogler would continue to be antagonistic. Chase would continue to be insufferably smug.
Apparently there were limits to the good self-sacrifice could do.
She pulled the sheet over the patient's head quietly. She hadn't bothered to learn his name this time- he'd even looked a little like Paul, before the cancer turned him into a stranger.
Oh. She had forgotten the others were even there. She swallowed hard as she met House's gaze, knowing he was probably thinking of her dead husband, too. That almost made it easier to accept that she was leaving. At least she would escape his pity- it was such a human emotion, and it was so much easier to deal with him when he was cold and distant.
"Go home," he said quietly.
Home. She nodded her head in response, feeling defeated. Home. Empty apartment, empty refrigerator, cold bed. At least the idea of a warm shower was appealing.
Silently, she gathered her things from the lounge. Coat, glasses, stethoscope, coffee mug. Nothing there was distinctively hers except the box of fruit-flavoured teabags sitting on the counter. She left it because she knew House drank it when no one else was looking.
He was standing in the doorway as she left, and she was possessed of the urge to say something. I quit or I'm sorry or I wish it had turned out differently, or some other stupid empty epigram that wouldn't make him understand. He looked like he was about to say something sincere, something that was likely to set her emotions even further off-balance, so she cut him off before he could open his mouth. "See you tomorrow," she lied, knowing he'd caught her, and headed for the stairwell.
She left her pager in Cuddy's inbox.
Wherehad she parked? She was exhausted. All she wanted was to be home where she could stop pretending.
Deep breaths. It was counterproductive to think of how much she would miss it here- Wilson's sarcasm, Chase's skepticism, Foreman's cynicism. House's half-honest intensity.
Keys, get your keys.Her fingers shook as she reached into her purse. Keep it together. Ten minute drive home. It'll be fine.
A shadow from nowhere rushed towards her then, knocking her into the nearest car. She was too shocked to let out a cry as her assailant tried to rip her purse from her hands. Cameron held fast, not ready yet for her day to get any worse.
Then the world went very still and she watched in seeming slow-motion as someone else's body, someone else who looked just like her, fell to the ground, bleeding all over. She didn't hurt.
When she saw House come around the corner, she knew she was dying.