DISCLAIMER: See the Prolouge since I'm too lazy to put one up every chapter.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed; I truly appreciate it, especially to those who have reviewed every chapter, an extra special thanks! Also, I would like to thank my new beta, SimpleNClean92, for helping me iron out this chapter. Also, I would like to let you know that this chapter takes place not long after the events in the PROLOUGE. The rest of the story will alternate between the Cameron in the coma, and Cameron with the kids.
A couple quick notes; I think I mentioned this in Chapter One, but in my world, Cameron didn't take her dead husband'sname; she kept her maiden name, so that might explain some confusion. Also aWARNING: I got a little extreme on language in this chapter; my T rating wasn't for nothing.
SPOILERS: Detox, Love Hurts specifically that I recall (it's 2:30 in the morning, give me a break) and anything else from season one is possible.
The monitor beeped at a steady rhythm; House wasn't sure if the noise was comforting or ominous. On one hand, the steady beeping meant that Cameron was not getting any worse or having irregularities. On the other, she was in a coma, so maybe a change in the monitors would be welcome; it might signal that she was waking up.
The noise in the hospital had died down; the rush of visitors between five and ten had dwindled until only a precious few were visiting the others in the extended-stay ICU. House knew it was pointless to continue to sit with Cameron; she was most likely never going to come out of her coma, but he couldn't risk not being nearby if she were. Maybe he would be able to tell her what he felt.
House scowled at that thought. He doubted that he would manage to find the courage to ever tell her how much she meant to him. It didn't matter that she was in a comatose state; he was still a coward. He had been a coward for five years, ever since Stacy had left and drained his heart of any emotion and made him unable to trust.
Footsteps echoed in the hall, but House paid no attention to them. He didn't think that there was anyone else in the hospital that would be interested in visiting Cameron. He had Wilson call her parents to tell them of the situation, but Wilson had said they wouldn't be able to make it out until the next day. House had simply nodded; nothing was all that important right then.
The footsteps stopped nearby, and House glanced up from the floor. Wilson stood in the doorway; he looked exhausted and stressed. "How is she?" he asked.
"I haven't been able to ask her, but I'll mention that you were concerned," House said scathingly. He was on his last nerve and didn't have the patience for stupid questions.
"The same, I take it," Wilson interpreted, stepping farther into the room. For a moment, silence descended again and House returned to staring at the floor. "Are you going to stay here all night?"
"I might," House responded ambiguously. "It depends if the hospital gets the SOAP Network; since they replay General Hospital at 3AM, at least they do at home, and I didn't get to see it yesterday."
Wilson pulled a chair up to the other side of the bed and sat down. "They probably do; I don't think the SOAP Network changes its schedule just for hospitals." There was another pause in the conversation and House waited for the bomb to drop. "How are you?"
"I'm not the one in the coma," House replied. "So, I'm just chipper."
Wilson sighed. "Why do you do this? Does it really matter all that much if you actually care about her, House? We both know that she loves you."
House was silent. He knew that Wilson was right. Wilson knew him better than anyone else in the world, and House still couldn't open up to him. "I have a reputation to maintain," House said as if Wilson had pressed a button of automated responses. "People wouldn't look at me the same if they knew I actually cared about someone."
Wilson studied him for a moment, and House tried not to squirm, not something he was prone to do. Why could Wilson make him feel like such an ass sometimes? The only other person who could do that was Cameron. "Does your reputation really matter more to you than she does?" Wilson indicated the sleeping form of Cameron on the bed between them.
House looked down at Cameron, peacefully oblivious to the turmoil around her. Well, maybe not outward turmoil, but his mind was in turmoil. She had done things to him since the day she had walked in for her interview, self confident and perky. He had made some comments, and he had watched her deflate before him. He was surprised to how unsatisfied he felt as he watched her crumple before him. So, in a rash decision, he had decided to hire her. Sure, there were more qualified people, but he had seen something in her that had connected with him, and he wanted to know what.
Now, he was forced to believe that he might actually care about the girl; all right, he did care about her, a lot; why else would he be in a hospital he despised at midnight when not working on a case? "No," House finally whispered. "But what can I do for her now? Whatever it is, is almost guaranteed not to have a treatment of any kind. So, now I have to watch her die?"
"Yes," Wilson answered simply. "Because if the roles were reversed, she would be sitting her, biting her nails and praying that you would come out of it." Wilson stood up and pushed the chair over into the corner. He turned to leave and then paused. "Try to get some sleep; Cuddy's expecting you to work tomorrow."
House rolled his eyes as Wilson left. Of course, Cuddy was expecting him to work. Cuddy had him work while he was detoxing, for God's sake, a little thing like Cameron in a coma wasn't going to get him out of clinic duty.
House turned his attention back to the gorgeous young doctor in front of him. Cameron puzzled him, while thrilling him. What did she see in him? He had done everything to dissuade her from the notion he might be attracted to her. He had dismissed her Freudian logic, even as his heart saw the truth in the statement. No, he wasn't nice to anyone, but she certainly got him to apologize more than anyone else did.
Watching her breathe, House wondered how things might be different if he hadn't pushed her away. She probably wouldn't be in a coma, for one thing, he noted bitterly. He knew whatever she had would have shown symptoms before now, and she had probably hid them from everyone; and if he had only, then he might have…
No, he couldn't blame himself, as tempting as it was. Well, he could blame himself, but House didn't think that it would make him feel any better. There was no reason to feel like shit if he didn't have to; an unfortunate lesson that his Vicodin addiction had taught him. Or maybe he was just selfish? House wasn't sure.
House leaned back in the chair, hospital chairs were always uncomfortable, and thought about the current situation. He knew that Cameron could be in a coma for a few more hours or a few more years, especially since they were unsure how she had gone into the coma in the first place.
House gently took her hand; it was warm. He leaned back in the ungodly uncomfortable chair and knew that his leg would be killing him in the morning. He didn't care; he wasn't going to leave Cameron there alone; so if his leg hurt like hell, well, he could deal with it. He needed to do this, but he wasn't sure why.
Another thing he could figure out in the morning. House closed his eyes and thought about all the things he wanted to say to Cameron when she woke up. There were so many, but soon his head drooped, and in no time at all, House had fallen asleep next to the woman he wouldn't admit he loved.
Amanda Cameron impatiently waited for her bag to drop down the chute at baggage claim. Her husband had gone off in search of their rental car, and she was left to collect their single checked bag. Amanda cursed herself again for even checking a bag; she needed to see her daughter, and she needed to see her now.
She had had a hard enough time accepting the fact that they wouldn't be getting to New Jersey until over twelve hours after her daughter had gone into a coma, but now that she was so close; she didn't want to wait anymore. Amanda noticed a bag that looked like theirs, but a couple of young kids grabbed it before she could see, it was theirs. Amanda ground her teeth; hurry up!
After five more agonizing minutes, Amanda had their bag in hand and went off in search of her husband. She stood outside the single terminal airport and anxiously awaited her husband's arrival. She knew it couldn't be taking too long, but her little girl might be dying or dead!
Irving Cameron pulled up in their rented car; Amanda threw their things in the back and told him to get to the hospital, but it was seven o'clock in the morning and they had hit rush hour traffic. By the time they reached the hospital, Amanda had nearly had a panic attack, and it now fast approaching eight.
By the time they were in the hospital, it had taken forever to find a place to park, it was now eight fifteen. Amanda and Irving hurried into the main lobby, nearly colliding with an attractive middle-aged woman, "Sorry," she had apologized, and then turned her attention back to a young black doctor, "he was there…"
Amanda accosted the poor nurse at the front desk. "Where's Allison Cameron?"
The nurse looked confused for a moment. "Oh, Dr. Cameron," Amanda nodded impatiently. "She's in ICU, on the fourth floor, room 4123."
"Thanks," Amanda said tersely. She just wanted to see her daughter. She dragged her husband over to the elevators and impatiently pressed the 'UP' button. A couple of doctors joined them in waiting for the elevator, one was very young and Australian, the other was approaching forty and very good-looking, Amanda noticed, even in her state of distress. "So, he was there all night long?" the Australian was saying.
"Yes," the other doctor replied. "He said something about General Hospital and the SOAP Network when we talked around midnight, but I knew he wasn't leaving."
"So, is he awake now?" The elevator dinged and other people got off, Amanda bustled in and pressed '4' on the panel. The other two doctors followed them in, still talking. The older of the two looked at the panel, but didn't press anything.
"Foreman said he's not," the name Foreman struck Amanda as familiar, but she couldn't recall where she had heard it before. "I want a picture; can you take pictures with your cell phone?"
"No," the other doctor said ruefully. "It would be great blackmail."
"You're telling me," the older doctor said. "He's not acted like this in years. After the detoxing episode a few months ago, I figured that he had said goodbye to all emotional attachments a long time ago."
"So, he really was detoxing then? Why didn't Cuddy pull the pills or threaten his job or something else?"
The elevator dinged again, they were on the fourth floor. The elevator's four occupants all disembarked. The two doctors headed over to the nurse's station while Amanda and Irving followed the wall's directions to their daughter's room.
Another pair of doctors, a woman and man, passed them as they headed in the direction of their daughter's room. Both were talking animatedly and smiling; Amanda wondered how anyone could smile in a hospital; they were such dark and depressing places.
They had almost reached Allison's room, when a scruffy and irate man walked up, limping with a cane in hand. "Cuddy!" he yelled. "Don't think that just because you're my boss I won't hit you with my cane! If you post those pictures of me, I swear to God that––"
"That you'll what?" a female voice from behind them said; Amanda turned to see the middle-aged woman doctor she had nearly run into downstairs standing there. "Spread stories about me to the nurses, House? God, can you grow up?"
"I'm not the one who was taking pictures of me while I was asleep to use as blackmail," the other doctor, House, who Amanda remembered was the name of Allison's boss, snapped. "I think that's relatively childish and immature." House turned his piercing blue eyes to her, and Amanda felt herself blush. "What do you want?"
"I'm here to see my daughter…" Amanda started to say, but the rest of what she was saying died; the look in House's eyes was cold, irritated and disturbed.
"Her name's Allison Cameron," Irving said in her wake, and House gave them both a look of appraisal. Amanda tried hard not to squirm; no wonder her daughter mentioned how unnerving he could be.
"She's in there." He motioned to the door at his back. "There's no change in her condition since Wilson talked to you. She's in a coma, and we don't know why." His words came out as almost bitter, and Amanda sensed a lot of unresolved guilt in the man standing before her.
House stepped aside, and Amanda rushed into the room. Her daughter lay on the bed, alive and breathing, but unresponsive. Amanda felt tears form in her eyes; it was her baby girl lying here, and there was nothing she could do.
Irving wrapped his arms around his wife, and Amanda leaned into him. He would be strong for her, just like he had for the past thirty-five years. But what about Allison; who would be strong for her? There were more footsteps outside the room, as Amanda stared at her daughter's motionless form. What could she do for her?
Someone cleared their throat behind them, and they turned. Standing in the doorway was the older doctor that had rode up in the elevator with them. "Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Cameron, I'm Dr. James Wilson," he introduced. "I'm your daughter's doctor."
"What's making her sick?" Amanda asked, hoping that they would have some news.
Wilson glanced furtively at House, still waiting outside the room. "We don't have most of the tests back yet, but we're hoping to have some idea in the next couple of hours."
"So, is that good or bad?" Irving wanted to know.
Wilson froze for a moment. "We don't know," House said, stepping up in Wilson's absence. "She could get better or she could get worse; but since we don't know what's causing it, we can't treat it."
Amanda nodded; she thought she understood what she was saying, but it didn't make it any easier to sit there and watch her daughter possibly fade away before her eyes. "You'll keep us updated?" Amanda said hopefully.
Wilson fielded this question, since it appeared House had said all he was going to. "We will," Wilson promised. "Now, if you'll excuse me." Wilson turned to leave, and after a long moment, House followed him down the hall.
Amanda watched the doctors walk away; they had hardly given her any news, but both of them had tried to be reassuring. She thanked them for that; it made some things easier to deal with. A pair of doctors, one of them the young doctor on the elevator, walked up to them. "Hello, Mrs. Cameron?" the black one said hesitantly. Amanda nodded. "Hello, I'm Eric Foreman, this is Robert Chase," he motioned to the other doctor. "We work with your daughter. We just wanted you to know that if you need anything just let us know."
Amanda smiled at them weakly; it was clear that Foreman saw her daughter as a sister of sorts. Allison had mentioned him, that's why the name Foreman had sounded familiar, many times, and she always had good things to say about him. "Thank you, Eric," Amanda said quietly. "I'll keep it in mind."
Foreman nodded, and Amanda felt even better. Her daughter was obviously surrounded by people who cared about her, and she suddenly felt much more confident that her baby girl would get better.
"What the hell was that?" Wilson asked House, once they were out of earshot of the Camerons. Wilson was confused by House's actions; House never showed empathy to anyone, and to say that they couldn't treat it without knowing what was causing it was very un-House like; in fact, it was anti-House.
"What? I didn't check out her mother like you did, sorry, I'm not that––" House said mildly; although Wilson was sure that House knew what he meant.
"Shut up, that's not what I meant. We can't treat it without know what it is?" Wilson surmised. "Who the hell are you and what have you done with House?"
"We both know what it looks like," House said, stopping the middle of the hallway to look at him. "Do you want me to tell them that it appears their daughter has rabies? The whole fucking world knows that there's no real treatment for rabies. Plus, we can't even start her on treatment because if it's not rabies, the medication we give her will kill her."
"If it was anyone else you would have told them," Wilson challenged. No matter what House thought; he was acting differently because it was Cameron.
"Maybe," House replied after a space. "Of course, it might be because I'm in denial over what it is or I just don't give bad news well; people tend to punch me. I need to change into different clothes." House limped off, and Wilson watched, helpless. House had just admitted actual feelings and now needed to change.
Wilson shook his head and head off in the other direction. He was going down to clinic duty; since Cuddy had roped him in for a few hours of Cameron's usual shift. He went down the stairs, not wanting to meet House again at the elevators.
Wilson walked into the crowded lobby and groaned; of course, it had to be busy. "How is he?" a quiet feminine voice asked from behind him. Wilson turned to see Cuddy standing right there.
"He admitted he cared for her in some way last night," Wilson said with a sigh. Cuddy raised a dark eyebrow in surprise. "He won't tell them what he thinks it is, but I don't want to either. And it's not his job; it's mine."
Cuddy smiled sympathetically. "She's too young and she actually makes House pleasant," Cuddy said softly. "I didn't think anyone could do that, and he obviously likes her because he went on a date to get her back. He wouldn't do that for anyone."
"A date I heard from Foreman he screwed up horribly," Wilson pointed out. Wilson shook his head, clearing all the unpleasant thoughts away. Maybe the menial tasks in the clinic would do him good today, because he wasn't sure if he could tell anyone they were going to die today without breaking down. "So, what's up with them?"
Cuddy rolled her eyes. "Probably sneezed funny and want to make sure they don't have Yellow Fever or something." It was surprising how similar her views of clinic duty was to House's; she just didn't want him to know that she didn't like it either then he could complain. She handed him a clipboard and a folder. "Have fun." She walked off her to her office.
Wilson glanced down at the chart; a suspected strained tendon, hurray! "Lin, Jacob!" he called out into the waiting room. A tall, thin Asian man stood up and limped after him into Exam Room three. It was going to be a long day.
Chapter Four should be up around Thursday; it's back with Cameron in the future. Oh, and I adore reviews. :) Also, I'd love feedback on how I'm writing House; he's tricky and any suggestions or critiques would be welcome.