A/N: This is AU, and yet, not AU. Trippy.


And the next day it was as if nothing had happened. They spoke to one another as usual, with deftly inserted comments and insinuations laced with passion or malice or innuendo. Or a twisted combination of all three that somehow always caused Allison's head to spin. It was wonderful. It was the basis of her entire existance -- and the fact that Gregory always remained the same was a part of it.

She was convinced, by two weeks after their visit to the monster truck rally (which was marvelous and violent and explosive and all the things she couldn't be), that he never really knew what he was saying to her. Of course, that was a bit of a logical conundrum, because Gregory knew everything. But, as always, she counted the little things.

The little, idealistically over-analyzed things.

WE'RE GOING TO PLAY A GAME and YOU'RE MY KIND OF GIRL and CRYING OVER CALIBRATED CENTRIFUGES and, just perhaps, YOU SHOULDN'T THINK ABOUT THAT.

She shouldn't have thought about that. Because, once she did, the constantly-multiplying possibilities for interpretation were bouncing off the walls of her apartment, spoken by the chapped lips and strained vocal chords of a girl who really had no idea what to do with herself.

Am I supposed to be heartbroken? Allison asked the possibilities. Am I supposed to be flattered?

They just came back at her with YOU ARE DAMAGED, AREN'T YOU? and she hated him for approximately three seconds.

By the time Vogler showed up, she was losing quite a lot of patience with Gregory. He was always such a block for her, emotionally. He made her feel so repressed and defensive, bones aching with adoration while lungs filled themselves with naive hope. It was pathetic. She witnessed her husband's death at twenty-one years old, and this was the growth she'd been "blessed" with.

I've learned so much from life, she said, the sarcasm in her tone echoing vastly in her still bedroom.

And yet. . .

Maybe I should just quit.

AND HOW WOULD THAT HELP ANYTHING? he asked, drumming bitten fingernails on the edge of his desk. Jeff Buckley thrummed through the speakers of an iPod to his left, and though she couldn't place the song she knew immediately that everything was drowning in it. Gregory's lips were saturated in deep-red angst -- she wanted to kiss them until they bled white.

I'd be out of here, Allison replied, hoping that her attempt at Bitter was effective. I'd be able to stand going to work in the morning.

He paused, obviously waiting for the Allison Cameron Show to head for a commercial break. . . But she wasn't going to give that to him today. Her eyes, she was certain, made him very uncomfortable.

IF LIFE WERE MADE UP OF TOLERABLE EXPERIENCES, Gregory said, WOULD ANY OF US BE HERE?

Don't change the subject.

OOH. SOMEONE'S GROWN A SPINE.

They looked at each other. Monster trucks were visible in his eyes, crashing pyrotechnics mixed with unintelligible screaming and the sickening crunch of metal-on-metal. The two of them were seated just behind his pupils, reveling in mass destruction. It seemed like such a long time ago that they had laughed with each other and enjoyed something.

I'm not going to be your last chance at rebellion, she said suddenly, causing Gregory to lose rhythm with the music in the background. You can't keep me here just because it will annoy Vogler.

He smiled sardonically. DON'T BE SO SURE. YOU'RE IN MY HANDS NOW, CAMERON.

Don't say that, she commanded. The mental imagery was just too much.

(. . . AND IT SEEMS I HAVE YOU JUST WHERE I WANT YOU.)

The next day was full of clinic hours and minor colds. Allison filed charts and filled papers and generally avoided Gregory's presence, because she knew she wouldn't be able to take much more. She was pushing the limits by trying to understand his endlessly confusing maze of sentences and monologues -- working with him would take everything out of her.

Her heart was saturated in deep-blue pain and she knew it was being clenched between his pianists' fingers.

Allison tried to hide from him. She took the stairs rather than the elevator, talked to obscure nurses rather than the usual desk assistants, took the most boring clinic patients. But he had always been much too clever for anyone, and he found her just an hour before she was set to head for home.

They walked down a hall together, turning no corners and making no sound. She could feel her lungs constricting, blood pounding through veins that suddenly seemed much too small.

And then, as they began to near a medical supplies closet, he surprised her by reaching out for her hand.

The closet was not particularly large, and it smelled like a combination of ammonia and latex gloves. Her head spun, both from the shocking touch of his skin and his abrupt proximity, and then from the brush of his breath on her face.

Gregory looked at her.

DR. CAMERON, he said in a very low voice.

Dr. House, what the hell are you doing? Her stomach hurt her terribly.

REBELLING. CARE TO BE MY METHOD?