House had skipped his office and headed straight for Wilson's office. He still had Stacy's strange behavior on his mind and needed to talk to Wilson.
"She seems perfectly normal to me. Well, as normal as can be expected. Her husband is dying in case you hadn't noticed."
"I know her husband is dying. Why does everybody feel the need to remind me of this? I am his doctor."
"Not the greatest idea I've ever heard." Wilson mumbled, and quickly tried to cover it up with more talking. "Have you talked to Stacy about it?"
"I can't. She came on to me last night. I tried to talk her out of it, but she was like an animal."
"Right, let me get this straight. A hot woman threw herself at you and you tried to talk her out of it? Come on House, I'm not buying it." Wilson couldn't believe what he was hearing. He was a nice guy, sweetest guy you'll ever meet, but fidelity was a very hard concept for him to grasp.
"I, it wasn't right." House was stumbling over his words. He had a hard time buying it too. "You had to be there."
"I wish I was. I wouldn't have turned her down." Wilson meant it more than he cared to admit.
"You're married." House often felt he needed to remind his friend of this small detail. He thought the ring on Wilson's finger might do it, but apparently not.
"Oh, I see, you're all faithful now, don't want to cheat on the girlfriend."
"She's not my girlfriend." House spat it out. His quick response betrayed his words.
"You're sleeping with her, right?" House confirmed this. "You're always together, right?" House confirmed this too. "And you like her, right?" Begrudgingly House admitted to that one as well. "So just go out with her already."
House thought for a moment. It seemed strange to think that he and Cuddy hadn't actually gone out on a date. They spent so much time together that he just sort of took it for granted that they had, but they hadn't.
He looked over and noticed that Wilson was holding his phone up to his ear. "What are you doing?"
"Nothing." The way he said it clearly meant he was doing something and just didn't want House to know about it. Someone must have picked up the other end because he started a conversation. "Hey, House wants to know..." he was interrupted by House reaching over the desk and trying to grab the phone. Wilson was glad he'd chosen to use is mobile instead of his land line. He pulled it out of House's reach. "If you..." House lunged at him again, and Wilson had to jump back out of his seat to avoid him. "Will go out..." House was coming around the desk now, so Wilson scurried off in the other direction. "With him on..." They were now playing a game of chicken. House would lunge one way, and Wilson would dart the other. House tried to trick Wilson by pretending to lunge one way and quickly switching. Wilson nearly dropped the phone on that move. He scrambled to get it back up to his ear and mouth. "Friday." Wilson had to make a run for it as House finally managed to pull off the bluff. "eight o'clock." House grabbed the phone. It was too late. There was nothing but dead air on the other end. "She said to pick her up at her house at 8."
"I'm going to kill you." House sank into his chair. He couldn't believe he was going on another date. He had gone five years without going on a single date, and now in three months he had been on two. He really hoped this one would go better than the last.
"Awe, just name you're first born after me." Wilson ducked as his phone came flying at his head. "That cost $500."
"Bummer." House popped a couple Vicodin. All that activity had caused his leg to flare up, and the thought of a date with Cuddy had caused his nerves to flair up.
"So, where are you going to take her?" Wilson was as giddy as a schoolgirl.
"I don't know." How was he supposed to come up with something that fast.
"There's that new restaurant, The Black Pearl, it's supposed to be very romantic." Wilson was thoroughly enjoying himself.
"What kind of food is it?"
"Asian fusion, very chic."
"Asian what? I'm not eating fused food." House was shaking his head.
"Cuddy will love it. I'll make your reservation." Wilson whipped out his mobile again. He wasn't going to let House squirm out of this date easily. He put his ear up to the phone, then brought it back down and hit it against his palm a few times. He tried again. The phone was dead. "You killed it." He looked accusingly at House, and then picked up his office phone.
It didn't take long for news to travel through PPTH. Gossip was sometimes the only thing doctors had to relieve the stress of a tough day, and gossip the likes of this was worth its weight in gold. It didn't take long for Jodi to inform her friends about House's other victim. As was usual with young people, she had let her imagination run away with her. What had been a simple comment about her blouse had grown in proportion by the time she was done talking to Stacy.
By the time it worked its way out of the interns inner circle, House was ogling her, and making lascivious comments, and Jodi had feared what he might do to her. After a wild game of he said she said, House was practically a rapist.
It didn't take long for the news to spread from the interns to the nurses to the residents, fellows, doctors and administration. Stacy listened to the gossip stone-faced, but inside she was popping Champaign and celebrating her victory, but this was only the beginning.
If she was going to cause maximum damage, she would have to infiltrate House's inner circle. Wilson and Cuddy were out. They would stay devoted to House no matter what. She would have to go after his Fellows. Foreman didn't seem to care for her very much, so he would be skeptical of anything she had to say. That left Chase and Cameron.
The obvious choice would have been Chase. He was already fed up with House, and had proven that he could betray him if necessary. She could play on Chase's insecurities and easily convince him of the worst. The trouble with Chase was that no one would take him seriously. He didn't have the impact she was looking for.
Cameron, on the other hand, would have great impact. She worshiped House. If Stacy could turn her against him, people would take notice. The down side was that she would be very hard to convince. Stacy would have to use all her skills in psychology and manipulation to pull this one off.
Cameron was surprised to see Stacy in the lab. She was probably looking for House. "He's not here."
"Who?" Stacy looked dazed.
"House. He's probably in his office." Cameron remembered the last time she was alone in a room with Stacy. She was dying to get more information out of her. Last time she had gotten very little. "Could, could I ask you a question?" She didn't know what question she wanted to ask yet, but she knew she wanted to ask many.
"I don't know, is this about House? I really don't want to talk about him right now." She looked like she was about to cry.
"Is everything OK? I mean, is, did something happen to Mark?" Cameron went into Florence Nightingale mode. She took Stacy by the shoulders and led her to a chair.
"Mark is dying." She nearly shouted it. She needed to come across as a passionately loving wife. There could be no possibility that she wanted House back in the slightest. "Greg won't help him."
"Dr. House is doing everything he can. He is very close now. Don't give up hope." Cameron pulled up a chair facing Stacy's and held her hands as she started to cry.
"Greg isn't doing everything he can. He wants Mark to die. He's just biding his time."
"House would never want a patient to die." Cameron was stunned by the accusation.
"This isn't just any patient. It's my husband. Greg can't deal with that. He still thinks theirs a chance. He..." she let herself trail off and put her head in her hands. The tears came easily. She had always been a natural born actress. It was a gift that served her well as a lawyer.
"What? Did he say something to you?" Cameron's curiosity got the better of her. She was falling hook line and sinker.
"He didn't just say something..." She had to be careful. This was the tricky part. "I still can't believe it." She wanted to pat herself on the back. That was a nice touch if she did think so herself.
"What did he do?" Cameron was frightened now. She knew House was capable of some pretty awful things, at least by other people's standards, but for Stacy, who knew him and loved him to say he'd done something terrible, well that really meant something.
"I should never have come back here. Mark warned me. I think he would rather have died than have me back in House's life. He was right. I just didn't realize, I thought House was over it. I thought he could handle it."
Cameron was fighting to keep from yelling. She thought she might burst if she didn't find out what Stacy was talking about. "You can tell me. It might make you feel better." She affected her nurturing tone, but inside she was screaming.
"I can't. You wouldn't believe me. You look up to him. No, you would never believe me. You are too far under his spell. God, I remember what that was like." Stacy knew that Cameron would do anything to prove she wasn't just some girl with a crush. Stacy was counting on it.
"I am not under a spell. I do respect Dr. House, but I know he isn't without sin. No one is." Remorse entered her voice, but she pushed it back out.
"I'm sure you've heard the rumors." She had hoped that was all she'd need to say, but Cameron was holding back. She wasn't ready to give up on her hero worship just yet. "Well, they're more than just rumors." She threw in a nice cry for effect. It seemed to work. Cameron reached out and put an arm around her.
"Are you...you're the one he...he..." She couldn't bring herself to say it.
"You don't have to say it." Stacy was sobbing openly now. "I don't think I can say it. I told you once that he was the same as I remembered him, but that wasn't exactly true. There is something different about him. He seems so, hollow, so empty. I don't even know if the Greg I loved is in there anymore."
"He's been hurt, we all have. I can't believe..." she didn't get to finish.
"I knew you wouldn't believe me." Stacy burst into even more tears. She couldn't believe Cameron had fallen into that one. That was priceless.
"I...I do believe you. It's just, it's hard. I mean, I don't know House as well as you do, but I find it hard to see him doing anything like that." She was backpedaling big time, but all she was really doing was digging herself in deeper.
"No one ever looks at someone they know and thinks "this guy could be a rapist", but every rapist knows someone."
Cameron went pale. She couldn't believe Stacy had uttered the word rape. "He didn't..." She couldn't finish. If she did, she might faint.
"No, he didn't have the chance. Cuddy showed up. I don't know what he was intending to do, and I don't want to know." She was coming to the end, so she lessened the water works to a quiet trickle. "I wouldn't have thought anything of it, dismissed it as too many drinks or getting lost in the past, but when I heard about the other cases, I knew I had to do something. Those girls are too young to stand up for themselves. I have to do this for them. He has to be stopped, for his own good." She threw that last bit in knowing Cameron would have protested. It seemed to do the trick.
Stacy had practiced this over and over again. She had timed everything perfectly. She took a sneak peak at her watch. She had cut it close. The grand finale would occur in three...two...one...
The lab door swung open and House walked in. He did not like the looks of the scene before him. Cameron and Stacy were sitting face to face, and each was wiping her eyes.
"Uh, sorry about the other night." House said the only thing he could think of. This wasn't the moment for a snarky comment, and this was definitely not the audience to appreciate one.
Stacy shot out of her seat. She stormed over to him before he had time to notice she'd gotten up. "You bastard!" She slapped him hard across the face. He thought Cameron would rush to his defense, but she just sat there, an odd mix of disappointment and rage on her face.
Cameron was in no mood for Happy Hour with the boys that evening, but Dr. Chase cornered her outside. "Give you a lift?" He wasn't taking no for an answer, so she finally caved in and went with him.
Cameron tried to keep the subject on anything but work. She'd had enough of the hospital and more than enough of House for one day. She was finding it hard to believe what Stacy had told her, but she was finding it harder to disbelieve it.
After several drinks and some Smalltalk, Foreman got to the topic she was trying so hard to avoid. "So, what's with you and House?"
"There is nothing going on between me and House." She felt the alcohol running through her veins and loosing her tongue.
"Why do you hate him all of a sudden?" Foreman wasn't going to let it drop.
"What did he do?" Chase wasn't about to be left out of the conversation.
"He didn't do anything to me." Foreman paid close attention to her words, and how she used them.
"What?" Cameron's mind wasn't working as fast as it should be.
"If he didn't do anything to you, then who did he do it to?"
"And what?" Chase was as curious as his colleague.
Cameron could feel the words rising up to her lips. She tried to stop them, but it was too late. "Stacy, he tried to, he attacked her." They were out, and she could never take them back.
"You're joking." Chase looked at her with eyes wide. "Thanks Sheila." He had thickened his Australian accent as he spoke to the well endowed waitress who just put down the next round of drinks.
"My names Ginger, sweetie. See it, here on my name tag?" She thrust a large, round breast in his face, and he could clearly read the name Ginger on the tiny tag attached to it.
"Ginger, got it." He was not impressed. She had no sense of humor. Aussies called all hot chicks Sheila. It was like saying hey babe. Whatever.
Chase was sure he'd missed part of the conversation because Cameron and Foreman were now arguing.
"You don't really believe it? You think that man walks on water."
"I do not think he walks on water." Cameron found herself once again having to defend her faith in House. This time, however, her heart wasn't really in it. "And why are you so quick to defend him? You challenge ever decision he makes."
"I question his decisions when I think he's wrong. Just because I think he's an arrogant jerk doesn't mean I think he's morally bankrupt."
"You think Stacy's lying?" Cameron really wished he could convince her of it.
"She's a lawyer. Lawyers can't be trusted."
"You're as bad as House."
Chase had been unnoticeably absent from the conversation. Not until there was a lull did the others notice his silence. "Hey Chase," Foreman called to him. "You in there?"
Chase spun his head around and whispered to Foreman, "I think that chick digs me." He nudged his head to where three women were sitting at the bar, then he looked over at Cameron, but she wasn't paying attention. He should have said it louder.
Foreman looked at the three women. One looked like she could crush Chase with one thigh. Given Chase's reaction to a heavy female patient they'd had not too long ago, Foreman figured he wasn't a chubby chaser, so he checked out the next girl. She was checking out the girl next to her, and no matter how feminine Chase seemed to him, Foreman thought he was still too much man for this girl. He looked at the last one. She was pretty, if not a little slutty looking. She gave them a little wave, which Chase responded to. Foreman had found a winner.
"Go over and talk to her." Foreman egged his friend on. It would be a nice diversion from the recently discussed topic to watch Chase get shot down. "She's clearly interested."
Sick of listening to Foreman and Cameron argue, Chase decided to take the formers advice, and walked over to the girl, leaving Cameron and Foreman alone. Cameron was fidgeting with her glass, trying to work up the courage to speak.
"Why would she lie?" Please give me a good reason, please.
If it had been anything else he was being accused of, she would have jumped to his defense without batting an eye, but this was serious. She knew all too well what it was like to be sexually molested by you trust. She had been just a girl, and the man had been a family friend. She found it hard to believe someone would make something like this up. If only she could find a motive, then she could believe in him again.
"I really don't know. House says everyone lies." He wasn't sure what to say, but he figured a general statement and quote from House would appease her. It didn't. She started to cry.
"They love each other. Why would she say something so horrible about someone she loves unless it's true? I just don't get it. No one should lie about something like that." She was still crying. This was hitting way too close to home for her.
"But people do, Allison. I know it isn't fair and it isn't nice, but sometimes like is cruel and unfair, and so are people." He put an arm around her. She reminded him of his little sister. He couldn't bear to see her hurt like this.
"At least Cuddy showed up to stop him." She was wiping away the tears. That's right, she'd forgotten that part. House didn't actually do anything. Maybe he wasn't going to. Maybe Stacy misinterpreted his actions. Maybe it was all just a big misunderstanding.
"Cuddy was there?" Foreman wasn't expecting that. "If she was there, just ask her, and she can clear this all up." Foreman wasn't sure Cuddy wouldn't lie to protect House, but still it might make Cameron feel better.
Chase came back and slunk into his seat, trying to go unnoticed. He was surprised to find Cameron crying. "What'd you do to her?"
"Didn't work out with the Sheila?" Foreman needed a change of subject, so he went out and got one.
"She was a guy." Chase mumbled it so quietly it almost escaped Foreman's notice. It didn't escape Cameron's however, and in desperate need of a good laugh, she was grateful for the news.
She started laughing through her tears. "You hit on a guy?"
It was finally Friday. House walked briskly down the hall mumbling something under his breath and bobbing his head. A couple of interns were headed toward him. Seeing House, they stopped for a moment. One whispered something into the others ear and they scurried past him, staying as close to the wall and as far from House as possible. They watched him as if they expected him to jump at them at any moment. Once they were past him, they seemed to break into a run.
House shook his head. He was oblivious to the gossip going around. His mind had been busy with other things, so he didn't know the reason behind their nervousness. He didn't know that he was the poster boy for lechery at PPTH.
House walked into his office, not noticing anything, or anyone around him. Without warning he opened his mouth and burst out at the top of his lungs, "Won't get fooled again," and started playing air guitar.
Dr. Cameron, who had been putting the mail on his desk, jumped about three feet, and the mail flew everywhere.
Startled, House pulled the earbuds out of his ears. "Dropped something." He thought he was being helpful by pointing to the mess of papers on the floor, but Cameron looked like she very much didn't want his help.
"How can you be so flippant?" She still had a headache from the night before, but she had to get this out in the open.
"Did I do something?" House had thought his Cameron drama was over, apparently not.
Cameron looked like she was trying to stay calm. Her face remained unchanged, but her voice had gotten higher, and angrier. "Haven't you heard all the talking? Haven't you seen how people are looking at you?"
"I'm a god among men, of course people will stare. Who can blame then." House did a little twist to show her his fine physique.
"Do you take anything seriously?" Cameron was loosing patience.
"Do you ever smile?" House wasn't exactly busting with patience himself.
Cameron had had enough. She walked out. House didn't follow her. He welcomed the peace and quiet. It wasn't long before the revolving door that seemed to be his office spun once again, and this time Wilson walked in.
"Do you have any idea how much trouble you're in?" Wilson asked as he walked.
"Did Cuddy read what I wrote about her on the men's room wall again? I told her to stay out of there." House finally sat down.
"You really have no clue, do you?" Wilson was surprised House could manage to stay so far out of the loop that he didn't even know when he was the center of a scandal.
"OK, Vanna, can I buy a vowel?"
"You want a vowel, how about u." Wilson was really in no mood to play games, but he also wasn't in the mood to tell House what was going on. He kind of thought he wouldn't have to.
"I think I'll spin."
"U R Being…"
"Being isn't a letter."
"You're being sued, House."
"Again? I thought you were going to tell me something interesting." House picked up a magazine and started flipping through it.
"Fine, let's see how this tickles your fancy. An intern says you sexually harassed her."
"Is she cute?"
"I don't know if she's cute, but I do know she is going to get you fired." Wilson knew House well, and should have been used to this sort of flippant reaction from his friend, but is still unsettled him every time.
"Better get working on my resume." He looked at Wilson pointedly. Wilson wasn't moving. "Do you mind?" He motioned Wilson to leave, which he did, but not before giving House a long, loud sign of exasperation.
House sat in silence after Wilson left. This was unexpected. He racked his brain trying to think of what he had done to prompt this. It wasn't the first time some silly young thing had misunderstood his humor. It wouldn't be the last. But Cuddy always cut it off before words like sue started getting bandied about. Why hadn't Cuddy stopped it this time? Did she believe this one? She couldn't.
House pulled out a copy of his resume just in case. It was terribly out of date. He really didn't like the font he'd used, and that wasn't even his address anymore. He sighed and threw the copy in the trash. Getting a new job was just such a hassle. He'd have to find a way to keep this one.
House avoided leaving his office for the rest of the day, and was relieved that no one came looking for him. He went home nearly forgetting about his date with Cuddy. It wasn't until Wilson showed up to get him ready that he remembered what tonight was.
"She likes you in blue. Wear this." Wilson pulled a nice blue shirt out of House's closet, and tried to find a tie to match.
"I'm not wearing a tie." House looked disgusted as Wilson gave up the search and pulled a nice navy blue tie out of his pocket.
"I thought you wouldn't have anything good so I brought this just in case." He handed the tie to House.
"I don't want it." House refused to take if from Wilson.
"What is Cuddy going to think if you can't even put on a tie for her?"
"I don't care. She…" he didn't want to say the words.
"She what?" Wilson wanted to hear them, so he asked.
"She doesn't love me. How could she?"
"Why would you say that?"
"She isn't stopping that suit, is she?" Everything had gotten so out of hand. House didn't like this feeling. He felt like he'd fallen down the rabbit hole and nothing was what it seemed anymore. Ever since Stacy got here, things had gone wrong.
"Maybe she can't. Did you think of that? Maybe she tried, maybe she doesn't know about it yet; maybe she already took care of it. House, there's no point in worrying about it. Just talk to her tonight. Just chill out." It was so unlike Wilson to tell House to chill out that it diffused the tension in the air.
"Do you really think she'll like the tie?" House held it up to his neck, wrinkling his nose in distaste.
"She'll love it. Now hurry up or you'll be late."
House arrived at Cuddy's door with just a minute to spare. To his surprise, she came out the door before he'd had a chance to get out of the car. "Hi." She walked over to him, and kissed him on the cheek.
She looked beautiful. She was wearing a knee length, low cut navy blue dress, not the typical black dress of a woman who just wants to fit in. Her hair was pulled back and piled on top of her head. House didn't much like it. He liked her hair down, with that little bit of curl at the ends. She wore a sapphire necklace that brought out the blue in their eyes. House wondered if Wilson had consulted them both as they got ready. They matched perfectly.
"You look nice." She smiled at him as he opened the car door for her.
"So do you." This was so awkward. They were both on their best behavior. He felt like he was in high school. At least he knew he would get lucky, so that was one less thing to worry about.
House had put the top down on his convertible, not expecting Cuddy to have her hair up. "I can put up the roof," he said reluctantly. It was such a nice night it would really be a shame.
"Don't bother. Just give me a minute." She turned the rear view mirror so she could see it, and started removing pins from her hair. "It's not great, but it will do," she said of her now down hair.
"I like it down." House spoke so softly he thought she couldn't hear him, but she did, and she bit her lip to keep from grinning.
House started the car and drove it down the street. Whenever he hand wasn't on the gear shift, it was tugging at his tie. He really hated the damn things. What purpose did they serve anyway?
"Take it off if it's bothering you that much." He was surprised by Cuddy's voice. They hadn't been speaking during the short ride to the restaurant, both lost in the enjoyment of the cool night air, so her voice came as something of a shock.
"It's fine." He was trying to make a good impression. He made a mental note to stop pulling at his tie. He shouldn't have bothered. With a heavy sign, Cuddy reached out and untied the tie, slipping it off his neck and tossing it on the floor. "Hey, that's Wilson's tie." House protested.
"Oh." She picked it up, folded it neatly and put it in the glove box.
"Oh, so if it's mine you toss it on the floor, but if it's Wilson's you treat it like a delicate flower. Nice." He pulled his eyes back to the road as he heard a horn behind him.
The Black Pearl was a fairly new restaurant, and therefore packed. House was glad that Wilson had made reservations for them. As it was, they had to wait ten minutes for their table. It was worth the wait. The table overlooked the marina, the lights dancing off the water, and the boats swaying rhythmically in the breeze that came in through the open window.
"House, as much as I would love to pretend that everything is fine and this is just a nice, romantic dinner, I think we need to…" House cut her off.
"Don't say it! Don't say those dreaded words." House had spoken so loudly that several heads turned in their direction, and Cuddy sunk down in her seat.
"Just because I don't say it doesn't mean we aren't going to talk." House cringed as she said the last word.
"Aw, you said it." House stuffed some Asian fusion into his mouth. It really wasn't all that bad. It was just fancy Chinese food from what he could see.
"An official complaint has been sent to Dean Stanton. This is serious."
"Why does everyone feel the need to remind me that this is serious? Am I an idiot? I can see this is serious. I'm crippled, I'm not blind." He was sick of this whole mess, and just wanted it to go away. He was tired.
Cuddy had no answer. She didn't know why everyone was reminding him, or even who everyone was. She knew why she was telling him this was serious. She was seriously scared. She didn't want to loose him.
"So, what are we going to do about it?" House didn't have a plan; he was hoping that Cuddy had one.
"The only thing we can do is buy some extra time."
"And how do we do that? Run down to the time store and throw down some cash?"
"Yeah, that's exactly how." Cuddy rolled her eyes. They were done with their meal and the waitress just arrived for their dessert order. House started to open his mouth to order, but Cuddy stopped him by telling the waitress they weren't having dessert this evening. House looked crestfallen.
"What's the rush? Can't keep your hands off me can you?" Even though he made the funny remark, he wasn't feeling all that humorous, and it fell flat.
"We have something more important to do." She was acting very mysteriously. House kinda liked it. What did she have up her sleeve?
House paid the bill and they walked to the car. House was bombarding Cuddy with questions about her mysterious plans, but she kept brushing him off with a non-committal, "you'll see."