Disclaimer: I do not own House M.D. or any of the characters from the series. I do, however, own my imagination (though the government may have partial ownership of that as well and I'm just too naive to know it). Rachel happens to be a product of said imagination, and as far as I know, she's mine. No touche.
A/N: I highly recommend reading Not As All Seems before attempting to read this story. Otherwise, you may start off - and end up - very confused, as this is the second in a series.
Chapter 1: Surrender
The water was hot. Steam crept lazily from the surface, painting the white walls with a mist and cleansing her black conscience with a fogginess. Every muscle relaxed; every elbow, finger, and toe surrendered as she settled back in the warmth of the tub - in the serenity of the silence. Cameron's eyes drifted closed and the candlelight flickered against her eyelids.
An aroma of Green Tea and Ginger lingered in a cloud around the bathtub, and for an hour, the world stood still for Cameron. She didn't think; she didn't analyze. She simply lay there - all but her face, her knees, and the tips of her breasts submerged beneath the surface.
The steady rhythm of her heartbeat echoed through the medium of water and assaulted her left ear with the sound. (Both ears were immersed, but only the left one could hear it - she had ruptured the eardrum as a kid, and that ear had been more sensitive ever since.) The sound was louder than it should have been; it became the only thing she could hear, bouncing off the walls of the tub and throbbing through her body. A heartbeat couldn't be that loud. A fat man stomping on the floor of her bathroom, maybe. But not a delicate heartbeat. It was like she felt its very song within her - pulsing through her. Thick, red, and unredeemed.
She decided to play with the rhythm. Her eyes still resting closed, she took a breath - slow and deep - then released it even slower. Her heartbeat stalled and then . . . pump . . . pump . . . in a calm and steady meter. She inhaled again and held it, paying close attention as the stomping of the fat man quickened - slightly at first, and then more-so. Ten seconds turned into twenty. Twenty turned into thirty-five. Her chest began to tighten - her little heart pounding against her rib cage in desperation. Forty, forty-one, forty-two . . . She couldn't help but count; she was a doctor, and "more obsessive than she thinks she is". Upon hitting forty-five, her brain told her to release it and breathe again; but she found herself unable. She couldn't bring herself to release it. For a moment, she entertained the thought of never releasing it.
But too soon, Cameron realized what she was doing. And that's when she unhitched her breath and gasped for some much-needed air. Her lungs immediately filled with steam and her body twitched under the water. She was shocked by the implications. Had she really just thought about causing herself to pass out and drown in the tub?
Cameron unstopped the drain and crawled from the warmth of the water. She couldn't stay there. She was a danger to herself in a way she never wished she could be. Wrapping a large towel around her dripping body in the dark, she left a candle burning on the edge of the tub and briskly walked to the bedroom. The apartment air was cold against her moist and soggy skin, but she didn't feel it. She felt like she was sweating.
She stumbled over a high-heeled boot that lay crumpled on the darkened floor of her bedroom. Cameron unraveled from her towel - now damp - and spread it diagonally over the sheets and blankets on her bed. She lay on top of it, flat on her stomach, naked and vulnerable to anything. And that was how she wanted it.
And still refusing to think.
Every muscle in her body relaxed, and she felt like a bowl of Jello. A warm, careless bowl of Jello. The bath had done its job; the therapeutic heat had healed her. Or she wished it had.
But she had no right to be healed. And she had no right to relax - not after last Friday. Not after hearing a little, red Corvette speed away with a frightened girl that should have been her.
Yet here you stand - cold metal in hand.
Dead body on the floor.
In your head - this war,
That never will end.
Because redemption is nowhere.
The words kept playing in her mind. Like a foreign, but oh-so-familiar, dance. One she didn't know the moves to - but the moves definitely knew her. She had heard it somewhere, read it somewhere . . . Or maybe she made it up. Maybe it was simply catchy.
Sleep was unexpected, and that's why it finally came. Because it only comes when it's unexpected. Cameron drifted off - still naked, still vulnerable.
Four hours into the night, she awoke to find herself in the sheets. She must have gotten cold and pulled them out from under her. Her wet towel lay in a pitiful heap on the floor, and her wet hair was now a mass of tangles. She'd fix it in the morning. Right now, she didn't care. Her pillow was wet, her body was Jello, and her neck was . . . pouring with sweat. She felt it with her hand. Yes, it was definitely sweat. She must have been dreaming again - her subconscious's way of winning an argument. It always did get the last word. Cameron couldn't fight back in her sleep.
She dreamt of things she didn't want to think about. And only because she couldn't control it.
She tried to go back to sleep. But she was trying too hard, and sleep had gone too far. It was nowhere to be found now as she lay staring up at the ceiling, sheet pulled up to her chin. Now Cameron couldn't help but think. The night was unforgiving in that it raped all from the girl but her fears, and she had nothing left to dwell on. No facades left to hide her from the pain.
It was just her and the dark, and four very lonely walls. She saw a face. She would like to at least say she saw faces, but the only one she could see was House's. And his eyes were blue. Very blue. Too blue for something so terrible.
What about Rachel's? Cameron never even saw Rachel's eyes. And the thug - what color were his? No doubt his eyes were black. His heart sure was.
"Change the world for me! " was all Cameron could hear, resounding over and over again in her head. It was Rachel's last plea. But Cameron couldn't bear it. She couldn't possibly live up to it. Before, her life had been worth something; but her life had never been worth Rachel's. Nor would it ever be. And Cameron was not meant to takeRachel's place. To be 'meant' to do anything would mean that there was a God. And Cameron was an atheist.
Even more than she didn't believe there was a God, she didn't want to believe there was a God. Because if there was a God, He was unmistakably cruel. Just like House, Cameron chose to believe in chance. Because chance can't be cruel or unmerciful. She found it more comforting to believe that "this isn't simply a test", that people like Rachel weren't lab rats.
But it left her with no one to blame. And so she blamed House. She lay blaming him every night for the guilt he'd left her to bear. And the hopelessness he daily refused to acknowledge. A glib smirk, a bright blue flash of his eyes, and life was only a game. A sick game he left twisting at her soul. Did it not twist at his own soul the same?
Cameron snored lightly and the scruffy face disappeared. The bright blue eyes went with it. Only the darkness was left.