The Silent Treatment

Eureka, he'd done it! Convinced her to give up her quest to fix him, heal him, screw him, whatever. She'd seen the err of her ways. He was free.

This sense of celebration lasted exactly three minutes.

At which time it was replaced by a vague sense of foreboding, and a definite sense of indignation.

Sure, he'd expected her to mope around for a little while, especially considering how badly their date had ended. After his monologue diagnosing her "pathology," she'd finally raised her eyes to his, her expression haunted. But there were no tears, no arguments to his logic, and no recriminations. Instead, with an almost preternatural calmness, she picked up the napkin from her lap, folded it neatly and set it on the table, stood up, and walked away without a backward glance.

And he let her, to prove to both of them just how much of a bastard he was.

Once he realized that she was doing her level best to avoid him, he figured it was her attempt to use the tried and true punishment technique employed by women the world over—the silent treatment. So he made it his mission to thwart her efforts.

Leaning casually on her desk as she typed diligently on her laptop, eyes fixed on its screen, he would ask after cases or make a snide comment about a faulty diagnosis suggested earlier by Chase or Foreman. She would answer politely, or just nod, and then make an excuse to leave the room.

The first few days of "Operation Ice Queen Melteth" proved to be pretty entertaining, the next few days frustrating. In fact, Cameron was withdrawing further, if that was possible. Wilson, Foreman, and even Chase had all commented on it on separate occasions.

The thing was, it wasn't affecting her work. She continued to work obsessively on cases, contribute to their white board sessions, and cover her clinic sessions (Cuddy absolutely adored her detailed charting). Which meant House couldn't use her on-the-job performance as an excuse to broach the subject of her dour demeanor, and his pride wouldn't let him just come out and ask her if she was OK.

So he did the next best thing, plied her with alcohol, which so far had elicited two sentences, despite the fact that she had downed three fingers of top shelf vodka. House found this especially alarming, considering that generally Cameron was afflicted by some sort of emotional Tourettes Syndrome, blurting out all kinds of gibberish about feelings and emotions at the most inappropriate and inopportune times.

Since anger often seemed to do the trick, he decided to piss her off.

"I know it sucks about that kid, but you've got to able to put that sort of thing behind you," he said, using his cane for leverage to lift him off his chair so he could half sit-half lean on his desk. "If giving bad news screws with you this much, maybe you should consider a different specialty, research maybe" he added, baiting her with Wilson's suggestion from several months before.

The thing was, he knew she'd handled the mom perfectly, at least according to Wilson, who while he knew had a soft spot for "the pretty ingénue," wouldn't lie to protect her to the detriment of a patient.

Instead of outrage, she simply turned toward him and said quietly, "I always thought that when it became easy telling parents that their children were going to die, that would be when I should consider going into a different field."

Touche, he thought. Followed by, more vodka, stat.

He bent painfully down to his mini-fridge, liberated his bottle of Kettel, and limped over to Cameron. She silently held out her now empty glass. He poured in another three, make that four, fingers and settled back on the edge of his desk, nursing his first glass.

He decided to try a new tack, a direct question. "So, is it this one case that's got you questioning your calling, or something else?"

The question surprised her. "It's not the case, and I'm not questioning being a doctor," she told him, somehow managing not to answer his question.

"You said not three minutes ago that you didn't want this job," he reminded her.

She took a long sip of her drink, summoning some liquid courage, but not managing to meet his eyes, settling for somewhere between his Adams apple and stubble covered chin. "Yes, this job. At this hospital. With you."

Though he didn't at all like her answer, House could have cheered. At least she was talking. And if she was talking, he could change her mind.

"Aw, c'mon Cameron," he said cajolingly. It was one crappy date. An experiment gone wrong. I don't hold it against you."

If it was possible, Cameron became even more still. House found himself wondering, what was more still then a statue? A picture of a statue?

He didn't have much time to ponder this, since Cameron swiveled toward him and she caught his eyes in an unflinching stare. He watched her jaw clamp down so hard he could swear he heard the TMJ setting in.

"You don't hold it against me?" she asked, between clenched teeth.

House recognized dangerous territory when he saw it, but in for a penny, in for a pound. "Sure. You had good intentions, just misdirected. And really, who could blame you. There's a lot of ladies out there looking to tap this ass. So you got it out of your system. No need to be all gloomy about it."

He was relieved to see there was no more vodka in her glass, since based on the vice like grip she had on her glass, he would have otherwise been wearing it.

Instead she set the glass on the little side table, stood up, and headed toward the door, only to be stopped by House's cane, extended across the gap between his desk and the glass wall, blocking her path.

"Get your cane out of my way or I swear to whatever deity you might believe in, I'll beat you with it," she spat out.

House felt a twinge of panic. Not that she would actually beat him with his cane, though he wouldn't put it past her, but that he really had screwed this up beyond repair. He didn't bother to consider what "this" was.

"Violence is never the answer," he said, an attempt at levity. The tears that Cameron was too stubborn to let fall clued him in that it wasn't working. "OK, truce. Let's both go back to our corners and try this again."

Cameron, whose eyes had been trained on the cane that was preventing her escape, looked up to catch House's hopeful gaze.

"Go to hell."