A/N: Sorry about the wait everyone! This was originally going to be a two segment chapter, but I was taking so long with it and it's already pretty long so I just decided to post it. I hope you all enjoy it!
Thanks so much for all of your wonderful reviews last chapter!
ColorOfAngels & Limaccia: The bullet hole thing was one of those plot points that just hit me upside the head while I was writing the chapter and it became something kind of special to me about that chappie, so I'm happy that it stood out to you too.
Chapter Fourteen: Still Broken
Allison Cameron awoke in the middle of the night and for a moment, she couldn't figure out why. Then she understood. The bed beside her was empty and House was nowhere to be found. Over the course of the last week, she had gotten used to waking up beside him. Technically, she wasn't living with him, but that didn't stop them from finding all manner of excuses for her to turn up each night. And now, here she was again. But this time, she was alone.
Cameron stood up and made her way quietly across the floor. The bathroom door was open and the light was off, so that possibility was discarded. She continued down the hall toward the living room but no lights were on anywhere that she could see. She began to get worried. As she entered the living room, she felt his presence and glanced instinctively toward the baby grand piano that adorned the far corner. There he was; silhouetted by moonlight that was streaming in the window.
House was staring at the keys without playing a single note. His posture was tense and rigid and finding him this way did little to relieve her concern. She turned on a lamp and he looked up in surprise as if he hadn't even noticed her arrival despite his usually hyper-acute attention to detail.
"House…?" Cameron began in a worried tone. She started toward him without another thought. "Greg, what's wrong?"
She noticed his limbs were shaking slightly and one hand gripped spasmodically at his damaged thigh. His breathing was tight as well and just a little too shallow. She laid her hands gently on his shoulders, feeling the muscles there knotted with tension.
"What's happening?" she asked, fighting down the note of panic that threatened to crack her voice. "Is it your leg?"
House nodded tightly.
"Not again…?" she asked in horror.
"Not that bad," he managed to respond.
"How bad, then?"
"Bad. The Vicoden isn't doing its job." His voice, like his breathing, was sharp and a little erratic.
Cameron leaned against him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders from behind. She could feel the beginnings of a cold sweat, dampening his skin. She realized that she didn't know what to do for him.
"Is there something that you need? Something I can do?"
"Nothing to do but wait it out."
"This has happened before?" She felt startled at the thought.
"It happens from time to time. Just go back to bed. I'll be in, in a minute."
Allison hesitated. It didn't feel right to leave him like this but she knew that he didn't want to be coddled, no matter what condition he was in. So, she pressed a gentle kiss to his neck and left him to sort it out alone.
Later that night, Cameron lay in bed, caught up in indecision. On the one hand, she knew House wanted his space to deal with this and she didn't want him to feel like she was hovering over him. On the other hand, she was determined to barge straight back into the living room to reassure herself that he was no worse off than when she'd left him. For two hours she had debated this within her head. He said he'd come back to bed and he hasn't. What if he couldn't get up? What if he had passed out? What if… But here her less emotional side would step in. He's a grown man and he can take care of himself. And he's only about a hundred feet away in any case. If he needed help, he would call for it. …But what if he wouldn't? What if he just didn't want her to know? She wouldn't put it past him…
Finally, she couldn't take it anymore and she jumped out of bed, prowling toward the glow of the lamp that she had left turned on. She found him asleep on the couch, features relaxed, chest rising and falling with steady regularity. She breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Then she saw it. On the coffee table next to him, a box sat open. Next to that was a glass bottle mostly filled with a clear liquid. She inched around the couch and her stomach clenched at what she saw: A tourniquet, still hanging loosely from one hand; a syringe lay discarded on the floor. She leaned over and picked up the bottle. Morphine. Her heart sank.
House woke to find the first rays of sunlight playing on the wall. He stretched languidly, enjoying the fact that his pain had receded to its usual, manageable state. As he moved to sit up, he got the distinct impression that he wasn't alone. There was Cameron, curled up in the chair across from him. The bottle of morphine was sitting on the table, closer to her than to him. He knew that he'd been caught. For a moment, he was reminded of the morning he had awoken in the hospital to find her beside him, but the image faded when she opened her eyes. In them, he saw, not relief and joy this time, but sadness and confusion and a certain amount of betrayal. He sighed inwardly, bracing himself for the hell that was about to break loose.
But it never came. Allison Cameron wasn't interested in telling him off. In fact, she didn't even seem to know what to say. Somehow, that only made it worse.
"Why?" she finally asked him; big hazel eyes, more green than blue today, pierced his solemnly.
"I told you, the Vicoden wasn't working…"
"There had to be something else. There had to be a better way."
"There wasn't!" he yelled, feeling defensive.
"Yeah, of course. Not any way as easy as that at least. For someone who's always pushing people to take risks, you sure do take the high road every chance you get."
"I was in pain!" he bellowed. "You have no idea what it's like. What I did was necessary!"
"What you did was illegal. Where did you get that shit anyway? I guess you stole it from the hospital, huh?"
"So what if I did?" He was loosing steam though; growing uncomfortable with the direction this was taking.
"Right. Well I'm getting rid of it." Cameron grabbed the bottle and headed to the sink.
"I don't think so," House growled, intercepting her roughly. Then he stopped abruptly, the bruising grip on her upper arms falling slack when he saw her face. He felt the bottom drop out of his stomach when he realized what it meant. She was afraid of him.
All of the times they had argued, all the times they had gotten in each other's faces, even when he had backed her into a corner, she had never looked at him like that. Regardless of the stupid shit he'd done, she had always trusted him. The look in her eyes now told him that she wasn't sure anymore. And that scared the crap out of him. What must he have looked like, coming after her, when he had been thinking only of the drugs and the pain? What would it have taken for her to loose faith in him so quickly?
Cameron swallowed hard and stared at House, trying to stay calm and stand her ground. Her body was tense under his aggressive hold. She always tried to give him the benefit of the doubt; and even now, deep down, she didn't think he was capable of anything too horrible. But she was aware that she was skating on thin ice and she couldn't help but feel uncomfortable with that fact.
She didn't know what the story was with the morphine, except that it couldn't be too bad since he hadn't shown any of the tell-tale signs of a drug addiction so serious. Beyond that, she didn't need to know right now. What she did know was that pain makes people do stupid things; House most especially. And so, in this moment in time, she allowed herself to prepare for the worst.
She wished that he weren't quite so tall.
House shuddered and dropped his hands from her arms. Stepping back, he couldn't look her in the eye; afraid of what he'd see there.
"Go…go ahead," he acquiesced quietly. As she walked to the sink on shaky legs, he dropped back onto the couch. His leg was yelling at him again but he knew better than to think it was a physical affliction. His leg had a pesky habit of acting as a moral compass and it was letting him know he had screwed up. Badly. House scrubbed a hand across his face, rubbed his eyes with his fists, and then rested his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands; allowing his punishment to wash over him.
He supposed it had been a pretty stupid thing to do; although, he had been known to do stupider things than that when he was in pain. No, he wasn't particularly sorry about the morphine, though part of him was sorry about how Cameron had taken it. The only thing he truly regretted was his reaction to her. He had come across like a crazed addict. He definitely could have handled it better.
The truth was; he wasn't really addicted to the morphine. It was more of a fail-safe, and he had only used it two times before. What had caused his reaction was the fear of not having that safety net to fall back on when the pain got bad. The pain could be mind-numbing; soul-crushing when it wanted to be and he was afraid to be left alone with it. No one knew what it was like, to have it haunt you the way it did; to never know when it would rear its ugly head. He had used this as an excuse for many of the crazy, stupid, awful things he'd done through the years, but not even his twisted psyche could think of an excuse to justify what he had seen in Cameron's eyes. Allison's eyes. Would he lose her over this? Or would they hang on a little longer? How badly was this going to end? He sighed and pushed the thought away, refusing to deal with it now.
When Cameron returned, the steely glint was back in her eyes. At least she had stopped looking nervous. That was a definite improvement. She was still "clenched" though and he didn't know what to do about it. He wasn't sure there was anything he could do about it. He didn't know if he would say he was sorry. He didn't want to. If she didn't make him, then he wouldn't, he decided.
"Just…prove to me that there's a reason I'm not telling anyone. Don't do this again," she pleaded quietly.
House nodded tersely, staring at the floor.
"You'll be alright without it," she asserted. "You've just been overdoing it lately. Just take it easy and consider actually following a few of the doctors' orders," here she laughed dryly as though she doubted it, "and things will go back to the way they were."
"Can they?" They both knew he wasn't talking about his leg.
"Yes," Cameron said resolutely. "I know you wouldn't hurt me. But you did have me freaked out for a second there."
House nodded again and made to stand up. His leg refused to bear the weight though and he stumbled alarmingly for a moment. Allison rushed forward, grabbing him before he hit the ground.
"I'm getting better at this," she smirked.
He rolled his eyes in mild annoyance with this statement but his gaze softened when he felt her lean her head against his chest. Slowly, instinctively, his long arms wound their way around her body, pulling her closer. He could feel her breathing and smell her shampoo and for an instant he knew that this had to last because he didn't know what he would do if it didn't.
"I'm sorry," he murmured against her hair, and it annoyed him that he meant it.
It also bothered him that she didn't sound surprised. That was something he was just going to have to get used to, he supposed.
"C'mon, it's Saturday and I'm still tired. Let's go back to bed."
He couldn't disagree with that, so after finding his cane propped against the couch, he hobbled down the hall after her, noticing that his leg felt a little better already. The damn thing was worse than Wilson.
A/N: Okie-dokey. Bit of angst there. I don't know if I'm really going to address the drug thing with this story or not…I'm leaning towards 'not' because I sort of feel like there's been enough trouble already, but I'm open to suggestions. Really, I just wanted to show that he's still the same guy with the same problems and the Cameron is willing to deal with that and not let it destroy what they've got. And at least for now, that is where it begins and ends.
Also, all you Wilson fans out there will be happy to know that a large part of the next chappie has been planned from Wilson's POV. That's always a good time. :D