When House hired Dr. Cameron he thought she might have a little thing for him, but he knew that once she got to know him, she would get over it. Seems he was wrong. If anything, she had gone from a schoolgirl crush to full fledged love. She must be some sort of masochist.
House had done everything he could to get her to realize he didn't feel the same way. He told her repeatedly, he demonstrated it every chance he got. He was doing everything he could to get her past it, and focused on her career, which he thought could be great if she'd only harden up a little.
If House ever decided to be truthful with himself, he'd admit that he had done one or two things to lead her on. The monster truck rally and the date she pushed him into were just a couple. But, as House said, everyone lies, and he was fully prepared to continue lying to himself if it freed him of his guilt.
House was firing away on his Game Boy while he pondered all this, so he didn't notice Cameron standing in front of him until the heat from her staring eyes bore into the top of his skull. "Ouch!" Although it was a metaphor, his head was feeling a little too warm for comfort.
"What happened?" Cameron rushed around the desk and put her hands all over him. Was she feeling for broken bones, he wondered?
"I'm fine. Get off me." He pushed her away and she looked hurt. The only way House could tell she looked hurt was that her brow was slightly more furrowed than normal. It's a good thing he had a keen sense of observation or it might have gone unnoticed.
She always looked hurt when he pushed her away. But lately there was something behind the hurt looking brow was something he just couldn't figure out. It intrigued him. He didn't like things he couldn't figure out until he figured them out.
"Are you OK?" She seemed to have not heard him say he was fine. She was standing far too close to him for his comfort, though he figured she was rather enjoying it.
"I said I'm fine. That means I'm OK in English." He shook his head. He would never understand the young. He didn't understand them when he was one of them.
"I brought you flowers." She pulled a bunch of perfect daisies out of, well, House wasn't quite sure where they came from. Did she have them behind her back? No, he remembered feeling her hands crawling all over him just a minute ago, and there weren't any flowers then.
"Thanks." He was almost afraid to not say it, though he really didn't want a big bunch of daisies anywhere near him. "But I'm allergic." Ah, the perfect escape. He even threw in a sneeze for good measure.
"Oh no, I'm so sorry. I didn't know." She ran out of the office, taking the flowers as far away from House as she could. House put his feet up on the desk and resumed his game of Astro Blaster.
House headed to the grocery store before heading home. As much as he hated going grocery shopping, he hated starving a lot more. House pushed the cart through each aisle. He had no idea where anything was. A couple of times he turned around quickly. People looked at him as if he were crazy, and several old women with big white hairdos moved to the next aisle quickly when they saw him.
House was getting paranoid in his old age. That was the only logical explanation. Either that, or he was being followed. He quite preferred the idea that he was paranoid, so he decided to go with that one. He had to change his mind when the smiling face of Dr. Cameron shot out from behind a box of Captain Crunch. "Hi there." She was too chipper to be allowed out in public. "I didn't know you shopped here."
House grumbled something incoherent under his breath. If it had been coherent it would sound like "the hell you didn't", for this was not the first time Allison Cameron had popped up at him like a love struck Jack in the Box. She had shown up at his dentist's office on the day of his appointment, said she was shopping around for a new dentist. She walked past the barber shop where he got his hair cut once a year. OK, he got his hair cut more frequently than that, but not much more frequently. She had even been at Blockbuster the night he and Wilson decided to stock up for a movie marathon. It was getting a little creepy.
"I don't shop here; I just come here for the atmosphere." House tried to push past her, but she was now pawing the items in his cart.
"Such an unhealthy diet," she put the Oreo's she'd taken from his cart onto a shelf. House took them and put them back in his cart. "You shouldn't be eating stuff like that. Do you know what's in these?" She was holding his Oreo's again.
"Put down the Oreo's and no one gets hurt." House was holding up the toilet brush he was planning on buying in a threatening manner. She cocked her head to one side and tried frowning but her mouth was already as far down as it was going to go. She put the Oreo's back into the cart. House rolled his eyes, shifted it into reverse, and hightailed himself and his cart the hell out of there.
She followed him into the checkout line. House was quick to notice that the only thing she was holding was the box of Captain Crunch. She ragged on him about Oreo's but she was about to purchase a box of oh so healthy Captain Crunch? He suspected she'd just grabbed the first thing she saw on the shelf, and wasn't really there to shop.
"That's all you're getting?" He wanted to confirm his suspicions.
"That's all I needed." She put the box on the conveyor belt behind the little separator that would keep her item away from all of House's "unhealthy" food.
"You had a Captain Crunch emergency? Just had to rush out to a store no where near where you live. Are you afraid of your neighbors catching you with something so unhealthy?" It was the only other theory House had, though he knew it was as lame as a wingless duck with a clubbed foot.
"Yes." It's a good thing House knew that everybody lies, or he just might have fallen for that persuasive answer. But he was a big boy, and he knew better. She was there to see him. House felt a sudden urge to get home and shower.
House stormed into Cuddy's office. He couldn't take it anymore. Cameron had brought him a bagel and coffee, not the regular office coffee, but some fancy concoction from Starbucks. Normally this wouldn't bother him so much, getting free stuff was always fun, but things had gotten out of hand. If she had given them to him in his office, that would have been just fine, but finding her on his doorstep, a cup in one hand and small back in the other nearly made him jump out of his skin. The girl was just not well.
"What is it now?" Cuddy had been doing some sort of girly thing with a mirror and a shiny metal thing that looked like some sort of torture device for eyelashes. She was not very happy to be interrupted.
"Cameron bought me coffee." Oops, that's not what he was supposed to say. Man that sounded stupid.
Realizing the severity of the conversation, Cuddy went back to what she was doing, which seemed to be torturing her eyelashes. House wondered what they'd done to deserve it. "Really? Was it too hot, the wrong flavor?" Cuddy was sure there must be some explanation.
"She gave it to me on my front door. She's stalking me!" House would have broken down at the addition if he was the type of person who broke down, but he wasn't, so he just looked at Cuddy. It was the kind of look that said, come on, now, fix this.
"You're over reacting. Maybe she was trying to apologize for something." Cuddy thought it was a little strange, but she wasn't ready to jump to stalking, until House relayed all the other instances of Cameron showing up wherever he was.
"Now tell me I'm over reacting." He was exhausted by the long and precise account of Cameron's actions. He slammed his butt into a chair, a bit harder than he'd intended, and let out a little eep of pain. He swallowed two Vicodin, and signed happily.
"Well, that is a bit odd." Cuddy didn't quite know what to do. She had dealt with some very strange things in her position as administrator, and many of them involved House, but this was just weird. "I'll see what I can do."
"Don't see what you can do, do it. Talk to her, get her a shrink; just get her off my back."
"I'll see what I can do." Maybe he hadn't heard her the first time.
Cuddy called Cameron into her office. Maybe the girl just didn't realize how inappropriate her actions were. As Cameron sat before her, expressionless, Cuddy tried to tactfully handle the situation. She couldn't remember taking a class on how to stop one employee from stalking another. She was on her own with this one.
"Dr. House feels a little uncomfortable with you attentions lately." Cameron hadn't been getting all of Cuddy's subtle hints, so she had to get more direct.
"It isn't my fault that he can't handle his feelings for me." Cameron's face was deadpan.
"OK." Cuddy realized she'd have to be even more direct. "Stop following him."
"I'm taking care of him. He needs someone to take care of him." She was immovable.
"Huh." Cuddy wasn't getting anywhere, though she was half way down the road to frustration. "He does not want you following him."
"His words say he doesn't, but his eyes tell a different story." She was a rock.
"His eyes can't talk." Cuddy flew past the exit to frustration and was well on her way to annoyance. "Look, if you don't want to be charged with harassment, I suggest you back off."
"He will just have to learn to deal with his feeling for me."
Cuddy wondered if Cameron was even in this conversation or if she was having one of her own. "Are you listening?" Cuddy waved an arm in front of Cameron's face.
"I am listening. You are jealous because House is interested in me and not you."
The exit to annoyance was left in the dust. Cuddy was speeding toward anger. "House is only interested in getting you to leave him alone."
"You tell your self whatever helps you sleep at night. House and I know the truth."
It took all the strength Cuddy had not to hurl the heaviest object she could find at the girl sitting across from her. She had never really cared much for Dr. Cameron. She was a mediocre doctor, and way too emotional with the patients, but she never realized she was also a nutcase. "Just go." Cuddy felt like she could use about 10 stiff drinks right about now, but it was only ten in the morning, so she picked up the phone instead.
"Hi, Fox, I need you to investigate someone for me."
Fox Mulder put down the receiver. Wow, he hadn't heard from Lisa in years. His mind wandered back to those crazy high school days. She'd been his first. You always remembered your first. They had so much fun together back then. He didn't know why they fell out of touch.
Scully was looking over at him. He realized he had a silly grin on his face, which he promptly wiped off. "Who was that?" She asked, thinking it was someone she'd really like to know about.
"Nobody." He had his reasons for not wanting Scully on this case with him. For starters, it wasn't much of a case. Lisa just wanted a background check on some girl named Allison Cameron. Nothing special, just check out her files, look for cases of mental illness, criminal records, that sort of thing. She only called him because she knew he was with the FBI and could get access to that sort of stuff.
It didn't take long for her files to come back. There was nothing out of the ordinary. She seemed like a perfectly normal young woman. When he told Lisa this, she didn't seem relieved. Instead she seemed more worried.
"You know what?" Mulder had a gut feeling about this one. "I'm not really working on anything right now, why don't I come down and check her out for you. It'd give us a chance to catch up as well."
"If you don't mind." Cuddy didn't want to impose. She really was beginning to think that House had blown things out of proportion, but it would be nice to see Fox again, catch up.
"Not at all. I'll be down in a couple days." They both hung up with the agreement that he would arrive in two days, and would spend the week. She would find a way to give him access to Cameron without her knowing she was being investigated. It was all planned. All except one thing.
"So, Mulder, what's the case?" Scully had heard the conversation.
"It's for an old friend. Nothing really."
"Is this a guy friend?" The green monster was turning Scully a slight shade of jealous.
"I don't see what difference that makes." Mulder's defenses were up.
"It doesn't. Just wondering." She went back to her work.
Wilson stuck his head out of the men's room door and looked both ways. The hallway was empty. "All clear."
House came threw the door nervously, and dashed down the hallway. His cane tapped a quick rhythm against the cold tile floor. He pushed Wilson through the door and into Wilson's office, closing the door quickly once they were both safe inside. "Thanks," he said breathlessly.
"Don't mention it." Wilson was amused. "Do you really think all this is necessary?"
"Have you ever had an obsessed fan? Ask me again when you do." House started avoiding his own office whenever he could. She always seemed to be lurking just beyond the doorway, and would pop in on him as soon as he sat down. He knew it wouldn't be long before she tracked him to Wilson's office, but for now….
"There you are." Cameron had her hands on her hips, looking like a scolding mother. "I was looking for you."
"Every minute of my life," House mumbled so only Wilson could hear him. Wilson tried to hide a laugh by turning it into a cough.
"You mentioned you were a little chilly the other day, so I knitted you this sweater." She thrust a fuzzy, baby blue concoction into his hands. She must have been up all night, because he said he was chilly yesterday.
House tossed the sweater to Wilson. "I don't need a sweater."
"Sure you do, you just don't know it yet. Don't worry, I am here to help you." She was starting to sound more and more like a Stepford Wife.
"Let me restate that. I don't need a sweater from you. Nor do I need any home cooked meals, books of poetry, flowers, stuffed animals or "just because" cards. All I need from you is to be left alone."
She forced the corners of her mouth up slightly into what looked like it was supposed to be a smile. "Don't worry Greg, I will never leave you alone." She turned and walked out.
"Spooky." Wilson was holding up the sweater, but he wasn't referring to it, he was referring to her behavior. "She wasn't always like this?"
"Do you think I would have hired her if she was like this?" House thought he might, because he did love a good puzzle, and this was about the most puzzling thing he'd ever witnessed.
"Right, well, isn't Cuddy's friend supposed to get here today?" Cuddy had told House, who had told Wilson, of course, all about Fox Mulder, FBI agent extraordinaire, and his plan to come and shrink the head of Miss Allison I've finally gone off the deep end Cameron.
Fox Mulder walked through the door to Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital with a great whoosh. He liked doors that whooshed, so he went back out and came in again. Whoosh.
"Mulder." A deep voice behind him admonished him for his juvenile behavior. "We're not here to play."
"Maybe I am." Mulder looked back at his boss. "Anyway, I don't remember asking you to come." Skinner hadn't been asked to join Mulder on his journey to New Jersey, but here he was. He had, as he put it, business to attend to. Mulder suspected that business was keeping an eye on him, but he didn't say anything.
"I have business I have to take care of." Mulder gave him an 'I already know that' look.
"Fox, you made it." Lisa came through a glass door that claimed to be the entrance to the clinic. Mulder believed it because doors don't usually lie. "I'm so happy to see you." She gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek, both of which he quite liked. "Who's this?" It wasn't easy to overlook the formidable man standing beside Mulder.
"This is Walter Skinner, my babysitter."
"Mulder," Skinner growled.
"He's my boss at the agency."
Cuddy leaned in. "Not so loud. I don't want anyone to know where you work. They are going to think you are a donor."
"You didn't call me down here just to steal my kidneys did you?" Fox loved his sense of humor, and if he remembered correctly, so did Lisa.
"No." She tried not to laugh. She was trying to make a powerful first impression. This was her hospital and she ran it. She wanted that to come across to her guests. "A financial donor." She rolled her eyes. Mulder had that sort of effect on people. Skinner didn't want to feel left out, so he rolled his too.
Cuddy took her guests on a tour of the hospital which was short, and pretty pointless since they really had no interest in it, but it was part of the financial donor act they were putting on. It also gave Mulder and Cuddy a chance to catch up, which Skinner trailed behind them, possibly taking notes.
"And this is the lab." Cuddy knew Cameron would be in the lab. House had deliberately given her lab work to do today, all part of the set up. "Oh, Dr. Cameron. I'd like you to meet Mr. Mulder and his partner, Mr. Skinner. They are donating several million dollars to our hospital."
"Never seen anything like it," Mulder looked around the lab, while never taking his eyes off Cameron. She seemed normal enough, in he overlook the frown on her face. "Something wrong?" He moved closer to her, the better to see you my dear.
Cuddy pulled Skinner aside and pretended to be showing him all the really neat medical equipment in the lab. He pretended to be interested by touching stuff and ooing and ahing a lot. Thus giving Mulder time to probe Cameron.
"I've heard a lot about this Dr. House. Cuddy says he's the best." That's it, Mulder thought to himself, get her talking about House, watch her reactions.
Her reaction was one of shear bliss, at least that's what he assumed by the chance in her voice. Her face remained as bleak as ever. "Dr. House is the best." She yammered on about how wonderful her boss was, but Mulder ignored her words. They weren't important. He was too busy being fascinated by the fact that, no matter how excited she got, she still seemed to have that miserable frown on her face, even when she talked. How could anyone frown while they talked? Mulder would have to practice it in the mirror later.
His gut feeling had been right. There was something funny going on. He was determined to get to the bottom of it. His slump was over. Finally a real X-File. This girl wasn't just in love, she was out of her mind, or out of her body. House really hoped it was the later, that would be way cooler.
House ran down the hall to Cuddy's office, a hat pulled low on his head. He couldn't believe she made him run the risk of getting caught by Cameron. Imagine his surprise when Cameron was sitting on Cuddy's couch. "You could have warned me," he shouted at Cuddy before he noticed the other two men sitting opposite Cuddy and Cameron. "Hello."
"Hi, I'm Fox Mulder." Mulder stood up to shake House's hand, but seeing that House had no intention of shaking it back, Mulder sat down again.
"Who's he?" House knew all about Mulder, and about the whole financial donor story, but he wasn't expecting a second man. This one was going to be trouble. House could see the skepticism oozing from his pours.
"He's my partner." Mulder was quite enjoying demoting his boss down to partner. He was sure Skinner would get him for it later, but who knows, they could be abducted by aliens later and Skinner would forget all about this. Anal probes had a way of making other things slip your mind. Mulder unconfidently reached toward his backside but caught himself just in time to stop.
The first thing Mulder had noticed was House's adverse reaction to seeing Cameron. She hadn't said or done anything yet, but he blanched when he saw her sitting there, and was careful to position himself as far away from her as possible. Cuddy had filled him in on the details, and he could see House's concern, but this seemed a much more visceral reaction.
"Dr. Cameron has told me all about you." Mulder watched House cringe. "She says you are the best." House cringed again. Mulder looked over at Cameron who was beaming. The scowl on her face barely noticeable this time.
They spoke of the hospital, of money, of research. It was all very boring to Mulder and Skinner, but the others seemed quite involved. Well, not all the others. Cameron seemed to shut down once the focus of the conversation had moved away from House. The once chatty Cathy was silent as a really silent thing and staring intently at House.
Mulder took a quick glance at House. He was OK looking, a little scruffy, but he really didn't see the appeal. Now Mulder himself was something to look at, yet she hadn't even given him a second glance. He tried to think, had there even been a first glance?
House's body convulsed as a chill ran down his spine. Mulder's eyes shot back to Cameron in time to see her giving House an air kiss. Mulder felt a chill run down his spine too, luckily she was too besotted with House to notice, though out of the corner of his eye he saw Cuddy chuckling.
For the next few days Mulder went all stealthy. He had to watch Cameron in action when she didn't know he was looking. This meant tailing House, not an idea he particularly liked, but he had told Lisa he'd help.
House led a rather dull life outside the hospital. He left late most nights, drove home, sometimes stopping for food, sometimes porn, Mulder just imagined it was porn because House seemed the type, but it could have been some chick flick or a war movie, but porn sounded more interesting. Then he'd sit in his favorite chair, eat, read, watch TV, and listen to music. Sometimes he'd get up and play piano.
Mulder sat in the drivers seat munching on a doughnut. Skinner was next to him, drumming his fingers on a file folder on his lap. It was another boring night of House.
A car pulled up slowly. It stopped in front of House's building. Mulder sat up in his seat. This was it. He hit Skinner in the arm. "Here she is." They both watched as Cameron got out of the car. She was carrying a strange box with holes in it. She walked up to the door, trying to keep the box straight. It seemed to have a mind of it's own.
She rang the doorbell, and House answered, as he'd been instructed to do. He'd put up a hell of a fight about it, but in the end Cuddy promised to cut his Clinic duty if he stopped avoiding Cameron, so he relented. "Hi." She smiled through her frown. He didn't say anything, but let her in.
Mulder and Skinner ran up to the window. They had requested that House leave it open for their eavesdropping convenience, and were happy to see that he'd actually done so.
"You are all alone in this small apartment," Cameron was finishing whatever thought she had already started. "I just thought you could use a little companionship."
Mulder tried pulling himself up to the window to have a look, but he couldn't quite reach. "Give me a boost." Skinner looked at him like he was going to fire his arse when the got back to the office. Against his better judgment, he pushed Mulder up to the window. All the while wishing he could drop him on his head.
"It's a kitten," Mulder whispered down to Skinner. "She got him a kitten. It's kind of cute." Skinner rolled his eyes, which messed with his balance and almost made him drop Mulder on his head. "Steady down there." Mulder tightened his grip on the windowsill.
House slammed a box on Cuddy's desk. "She bought me a damn cat." He glared at Cuddy. "You take it. It's your fault I have it."
"And how exactly did you figure that one out?"
"It's your guy who told me to open the damn door."
"Right. I'm allergic." She pushed the box away.
"I already tried that line. It didn't work." He pushed it back.
"I'm not taking your cat." She pushed it back toward him. "Give it back to her if you don't want it."
"I'm not…oh, good idea." He walked out, not saying what, exactly, the good idea was. He never even noticed the two men sitting at Cuddy's desk, or if he did, he pretended not to.
Cuddy turned to Mulder. "Do you have any idea what's going on?" She looked desperate.
"Not yet, but I'm getting there." Mulder spit a sunflower seed into the trashcan.
Cuddy met Mulder and Skinner for dinner that evening. Coincidentally they met only two tables away from where House was dining with Wilson, which was only a table away from where Cameron was stalking House.
"How long do we have to pretend that there aren't a bunch of people around us watching our every move?" Wilson was starting to feel weirded out by the whole thing.
"Until Cameron gets over me." House knew it sounded kind of narcissistic, but he didn't care. This had gone way too far. She gave him candies the other day. They were homemade and each had a different letter on it, which spelled out 'Greg loves Allison' when you put them all together.
That still wasn't as bad as the sandwich she'd brought him for lunch. She gave him a Rueben, which he must admit used to be his favorite, though he didn't think he could ever look at one the same way again. When he unwrapped the sandwich she had toasted it so that the words Greg and Allison 4ever were burned into the bread. It gave him chills just thinking about it.
"The girl is clearly off the deep end if she's crazy about you." Wilson stuffed his mouth full of salad.
"My point exactly." House wasn't even going to argue with him. He had a bad feeling that Cameron was already picking out baby names.
Meanwhile, at the FBI table Cuddy was enjoying Mulder's company, and Skinners, though he seemed distracted. "What's on your mind?" She felt bad leaving him out of the conversation.
"I've been thinking about someone."
"Skinners got a girlfriend," Mulder teased him.
"She's not my girlfriend. She's a friend."
"She's a girl isn't she?" Mulder was still teasing him. It wasn't often that Mulder got a glimpse into Skinners personal life, so this was a real treat.
"She's a woman."
"Oh, she's a woman." Mulder was laying it on thick now.
"What's her name?" Cuddy kicked Mulder under the table. She could tell Skinner was lovesick. It wasn't nice to tease someone in that condition.
"Rosie. She's a great gal. We're, we're in the middle of planning something, and I had to come down here, and, I, I just miss her." He glared at Mulder as if to say 'you ever talk about this again and I will kill you'. Mulder got the hint.
"That's sweet." Cuddy really did think that was sweet. The type of men she dated were too busy checking on their portfolios to miss anyone.
And over at the solo table…. Cameron ordered her meal without taking her eyes off House. She hadn't even looked at the menu. It wasn't too difficult. It was an Italian restaurant, and she'd never been to an Italian restaurant that didn't have Linguini Alfredo, so that's what she ordered, whatever it was.
Everyone was done with dinner. House put his bill on Cuddy's tab. Cameron paid her own. She hadn't touched her meal. It was hard to eat pasta while staring at the back of the man of your dreams' head. She kept missing her mouth and poking her cheek with her fork. People were beginning to stare, not that she noticed.
House pulled back his chair and stood up, and 5 people stood up with him. It must have looked quite comical to the other diners. House led the parade to the front of the restaurant and out the door. House, then Wilson, then Cameron, then Cuddy, then Mulder and lastly Skinner filed out the restaurant door and waited for their cars.
They all knew each other, they all were aware of each others presence, yet none of them spoke. In fairness, Cameron was an exception to both these rules. She didn't seem to realize anyone but House was present, and she tried to talk to him. "How was your meal?" She sounded like his waitress.
"A little awkward and uncomfortable, yours?"
"Wonderful." She gazed up at him.
"You know Dr. Wilson, don't you?" House motioned toward Wilson, quite sure she hadn't seen him standing right next to House.
"Hi." She didn't move her eyes off House. He turned away. He was feeling kind of dizzy all of a sudden.
Mulder stopped and watched. He saw the color draining from House's face. It wasn't just a case of feeling uncomfortable. The man looked like he was about to pass out. Mulder rushed to his side just in time to help Wilson catch House.
Cameron smiled and pushed her way to the prone House. She grabbed his nose and leaned in for mouth to mouth, but Cuddy practically tackled her. "I don't think so." Cuddy said, allowing Wilson to administer the kiss of life while Cuddy struggled to hold Cameron back.
"Ouch!" Cuddy grabbed her hand. Cameron, now free of her nemesis' grip disappeared into the night. "She bit me." Cuddy held out her bleeding hand. House was awake now, and laughing right along with Mulder who found the whole situation hilarious.
Skinner rushed to Cuddy's aide, using his tie to stop the flow of blood.
"That's it," Cuddy declared, "that girls going down!"
Mulder followed Cameron home. Of course they stopped off at House's apartment so Cameron could get a little stalking in before bedtime. She got out of her car, walked up the fire escape of a neighboring building, pulled out her binoculars, and settled in for a nice evening of House TV.
The FBI agents didn't bother getting out of their car. They really didn't care what House did in his spare time, though if he was watching that porno Mulder imagined he'd rented, it might be worth a peek.
Before Mulder had worked up a burning curiosity to see what House was up to, Cameron was climbing down from her observation tower. The lights in House's apartment were out, and he must have gone to bed. Cameron was in her car on the way home.
Mulder didn't bother driving stealthily. She was so lost in her own delusional fantasyland that she wouldn't notice if a Sherman tank was following her down the road.
Once they reached their destination and Cameron got out and went in, Mulder started looking around for a good vantage point. All he could find was a big oak tree. "You've got to be kidding," Skinner replied when Mulder told him where they were going.
"Come on. It will take your mind off Rosie." Mulder had glanced at the folder Skinner had been going through. It was full of clippings of cakes and dresses and tuxes and all the accoutrements of a wedding. There was also a small photograph of Skinner with a woman. Skinner with a woman! Just the thought of it made Mulder snicker. It was always weird imagining your stoic boss as an actual human being.
The two men made complete fools of themselves by climbing their middle aged arses up the tree. It was a good thing it was the middle of the night and everyone seemed to be tucked away in bed. No witnesses were still too many for this disaster waiting to happen.
Mulder perched himself comfortably on a steady branch. "Tweet, tweet," he said, as Skinner balanced himself a branch away.
"This is insane, Mulder. Let's just get down now before we hurt ourselves." Skinner did not look like he was enjoying himself.
"Just a minute. I can see in, I can see…" His face went ghost white. His eyes stopped blinking. For a moment Skinner thought he was dead.
"Mulder?" Skinner shook his companion.
"Holy shyte!" Mulder scrambled back down the tree. He couldn't even tell Skinner what he'd seen, no matter how many times Skinner asked. It made for a very long ride back to the hotel.
"What was it, Mulder?" Skinner was now driving, not trusting a Mulder to get behind the wheel in his condition.
Cameron bounced into work the next day oblivious to her secret getting out. Actually, it wasn't all that far out. Mulder hadn't told Skinner or anyone else what he'd seen. He just couldn't. It was too weird.
"Good morning Greg." Cameron rushed over to House before he could find a place to hide, and kissed him on the cheek. "You'll thank me later."
"Thank you for what? Getting your psycho germs on me? I don't think I'll ever thank you for that." He wiped the kiss off with the corner of Cuddy's lab coat. She happened to be standing right next to him.
"Give me that." Cuddy yanked the coat out of his hands and looked at the lipstick smudge in disgust. "That's not gonna come out."
"Give that coat to House." Cameron's pout became more pronounced. "That kiss was meant for him."
Cuddy looked down at the mark on her coat and then at Cameron in disbelief. "It's a smudge. It's not a kiss. Anyway, he didn't want it." She had had it with Cameron and her crush.
"Give it to him!" Cameron's frown turned into a frowning scowl. It was quite unsettling. "Give it to him now!" She said the last word with such fire that Cuddy was afraid the girls head would explode. Maintenance was already threatening to go on strike. If they had to clean exploded brain off the lobby floor that might just push them over the edge.
"Take it." She pulled off her lab coat and thrust it at House. He took it with a smile. Cuddy had been keeping it buttoned up for a reason and that reason was hot.
"I'm going out later. Don't look at me like that." Cuddy saw the way House was looking at her and liked it, though she knew she should pretend not to.
"Don't look at her!" Cameron had steam coming out of her ears. No, really, there was some sort of strange precipitation pouring out of her ears. House and Cuddy watched in horror.
"Don't look at her." For a moment House thought Cameron's voice had dropped, but he realized it was Mulder speaking when the man crashed into them, knocking him and Cuddy to the floor.
"Look at me, Greg. Love me Greg." Cameron was starting to lean toward them.
Skinner had come in with Mulder and watched the scene. He had worked with Mulder long enough to know the man could sense danger, and he was definitely sensing it right now. He grabbed a wheelchair someone had just vacated at the front door and raced it toward the trio on the floor. "House, get in." House, who couldn't move so fast was hoisted into the wheelchair by Mulder and Cuddy, and they sped off down the hall, Cameron walking slowly toward them. "You love me Greg. Don't deny it anymore."
They ducked into the first door they could find and locked it behind them. "What the hell was that?" House asked, feeling out of breath even though he was in a wheelchair.
Mulder got Skinner's help and pushed anything in the room that moved in front of the door. Unfortunately, the room they'd run into was the ladies room, and there wasn't much that could be moved other than a large trash can. At least it was a really heavy trash can.
"Maybe you didn't hear me. What the hell was that?" House wasn't giving up on his question so quickly. He thought it had a great deal of merit and was worth repeating.
"That's not Dr. Cameron. At least, it's not the Dr. Cameron you're used to." Mulder tried his best to explain, but he wasn't entirely sure what he was talking about yet.
"Then who was it?" Cuddy wasn't buying any of this. Cameron had always had a little thing for House, who didn't? Cuddy wasn't immune to House's charms. She was getting off track. Cameron had always had a thing for House, and House had lead her on. Cuddy knew it would blow up in his face some day, she just didn't realize it would make this big a boom.
The door handle was rattling. The rattling was followed by some banging. The banging was followed by more rattling and the vicious cycle continued. "We've got to get out of here. I'll explain later." Mulder was looking around frantically for an escape route. The trouble with public bathrooms, however, is that they were not often equipped with escape hatches. Mulder blamed naive architects for the flaw.
The only option available to them, which didn't have a psychotic love sick Cameron on the other side of it, was the large window at the far end of the bathroom. "We go through there." Mulder pointed up to the window triumphantly, as everyone else in the room looked up at the window doubtfully.
"It's awful high." Cuddy tried to reason. "And it's probably painted shut." She never did trust maintenance to do a good job.
"And if you haven't noticed, I'm not exactly Spiderman," House wanted to tap his leg with his cane, but his cane was out in the hallway with Psycho Barbie.
"If you would rather open the door and deal with Dr. Cameron, be my guest, but let me get the hell out of here first." Mulder was examining the window. It was about 6 feet off the ground. None of them could reach it from the ground, they would need a way up. Mulder looked at the wheelchair House was still sitting in. "Get up."
"What?" House looked annoyed.
"Get up. I need the chair." Mulder was pulling at the handles.
"I need the chair." House grabbed the arm rests.
"House, get out of the chair." Cuddy broke the tie. House, grimaced at her, pulled a Cameron pout, and got up; making sure that everyone knew how much pain he was in.
Mulder pushed the chair under the window. Of course the wheels were going to be a problem. He was finding it hard to formulate a plan with that incessant banging. "Isn't she tired yet?" He asked no one, so no one answered. "Does anyone have some gum?" Everyone thought he must be talking to someone else, so none of them answered. "Thanks for your help."
Mulder started pacing the room. While he did that, Cuddy went into a toilet stall. "Do you want us to leave?" House asked, having no intention of leaving if she said yes. She didn't say yes or no. Instead she walked out carrying two huge wads of toilet paper. She shoved one wad into the spokes of one wheel and another wad into the spokes of the other wheel, jamming both wheels effectively.
Mulder ran over and gave her a hug. "Just like old times, huh?" He said, kissing her on the cheek. House noticed that she was blushing slightly.
Mulder got up on the chair, testing it for movement. "Spot me," he said to Skinner, who grabbed the arms. With great effort, Mulder managed to get the window open, not much, but enough for each of them to fit through.
The banging continued. It was so monotonous now that Mulder was starting to drown it out.
"Ladies first?" He wasn't sure Cuddy would be willing to take the first plunge, but he had to be a gentleman. She was more willing than he'd thought. She got up on the chair, pulled herself into the door frame, seemed suddenly aware that they could all see up her skirt, and flung herself over the other side.
After a big thud and a moment of silence, her voice called out. "I'm OK. There's a nice soft bush here."
One by one they climbed threw the window. Mulder followed Cuddy, and then Skinner pushed House through the window. Skinner was the last to make it threw. They couldn't hear the banging from out here. Mulder silenced the others and listened carefully. He could hear a faint banging. "Good, she's still on the other side of the door. We need a safe place."
Cuddy suggested Mulder or Skinner's hotel room, assuming they weren't sharing one. They all thought this was a good idea, since Cameron knew where House lived and could easily find out where Cuddy lived. They all jumped into their own cars, House was shoved into his, and sped off to the hotel. Mulder could still hear the banging, but he knew it was just in his head now. It would probably be there for some time to come.
"For God's sake, man, what's going on?" They were safe in the hotel and House was ready for some answers.
"I saw something last night. Something I can't explain." Mulder really did like being all mysterious.
"Come on, Mulder, you can explain anything. What's going on?" Skinner was at the end of his rope. Climbing out bathroom windows did that to him.
Mulder's bubble was popped. He sulked on the bed. Cuddy sat down beside him and put her arm around him. "If you know what's going on, you have to tell us."
House shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "If you two want to be alone Skinner and I can run down to the gift store." Cuddy glared at him.
"The problem is, I don't know what's going on, not yet."
"Tell us what you do know?" Skinner was seconds away from smacking Mulder upside the head.
"Last night, she was alone in her apartment…"
"This isn't going to get dirty is it?" House had perked up a bit at the thought.
Mulder ignored him. "She did something, said something, I couldn't quite make it out. But she conjured up this big whirlpool, vortex type thing." Mulder was so eloquent. "Then she was talking to it, or to someone inside it."
"Rosie." The name escaped Skinners lips and a look of total sadness crossed his face.
"You're fiancé?" Mulder hadn't expected that.
"That's why I'm here. Rosie had a conference at Princeton. She vanished. No one has seen her since, but someone at the conference mentioned something about a vortex."
"What are you doing wasting your time with us?" Cuddy was glad he was here, but he should be out looking for his Rosie.
"I thought the cases might be connected. Rosie was acting strangely toward the end. Not as strange as your Dr. Cameron, but she wasn't quite herself. In our last phone call, she mentioned that she came to your clinic for a checkup. I thought there must be a connection." Skinner was fighting back the tears. He had waited so long for a woman like Rosie to enter his life, and now he may have lost her forever.
"You should have said something." Mulder knew that Skinner liked to play his cards close to his vest, but Skinner didn't even wear a vest. Mulder realized that made no sense, but he was stressed. He didn't do well under stress.
"I…" it was all he could say. It was enough.
"Well, we are going to get to the bottom of this, and we will find Rosie." Cuddy showed a plucky determination that was sort of turning Mulder on. He liked his women feisty.
They all rattled off various ideas of what this vortex might be, but most of it was pretty ridiculous and not worth the readers time or effort. It was late into the night when they finally decided to call it a night. They were kind of slow on that one, since the sun had gone down several hours ago.
Cuddy looked nervously from one to the other of the men. One of them was going to be her bunkmate for the night. She knew which two she would pick, but she didn't think they'd be into that sort of thing. Without picking any of them, she headed for the other room.
With Cuddy gone, the three men looked at each other. Both rooms had a king sized bed and a couch. Their options were few. Either two guys slept on this bed and one on the couch, or one of the guys went to Cuddy's room. "Draw straws?" That was House's brilliant suggestion. He wasn't too keen on the idea of Mulder heading off to Cuddy's room, as it appeared Mulder was about to do.
"I'll sleep in the other room, you too stay here." It was Skinner who spoke. He had no interest in Cuddy, and thought she might prove distracting to either of the other two men.
The next morning they all woke up groggy. No one had gotten a good night sleep. The day was spent trying not to trip over one another as they stayed in their rooms and ordered room service and worked up a game plan.
It was obvious that Skinner had to find his Rosie. It was a pretty good guess that Cameron had something to do with Rosie's disappearance, and it was a certainty that that Vortex was at the center of it all. There was nothing else to do, they had to get into Cameron's apartment and open the Vortex.
The plan was like this. House would be bait. He would lure Cameron out of her apartment. The others would sneak in and find a way to open the vortex. Mulder thought he could remember some of the words she had said before it opened. Skinner would go into the vortex, tied to a chain, and get Rosie, then Mulder and Cuddy would reel them back to reality. It wasn't the best plan, but it was the only one they had.
Why it hadn't occurred to them to sneak in while Cameron was at work would never be discussed. They jumped on the plan at hand, and waited for nightfall. These things just seemed to need to be done at nightfall. No one knew why, the just waited in ignorance.
When night came, the plan went into action. House and Cuddy had gone to work as usual, but avoided Cameron at all costs, and went everywhere together. It was kind of awkward when someone else was in the bathroom, but they managed. When the day was over, House went home and waited to be stalked.
Mulder and Skinner watched from a car across the street. The back door of the car opened and Cuddy climbed in. "Anything yet?" She was as anxious as they all were.
"Here she comes now." Cameron still seemed oblivious to their spying.
She pulled up in front of House's building, got out and climbed up her trusty fire escape. All was set. House was going to stay up late, keeping Cameron in position as long as possible.
Mulder slowly drove the car away. They got to Cameron's house in record time. Mulder took a moment to pick the lock with his Government Issue lock pick. He loved being an FBI agent. They got the coolest toys.
Within seconds the trio was inside the small apartment. There was no sign of a Vortex, or that there had ever been a Vortex, but there were certainly signs that the apartment was inhabited by a nut case.
Everywhere they looked were pictures of House. House walking down the halls of the hospital, House in his car, House at the gas station, House in his shower, Cuddy glanced at the two men and grabbed that picture when they weren't looking. She tried to justify it by saying she was saving House from the humiliation of anyone seeing it, but she had no intention of destroying the picture. She put it safely in her pocket.
"Stand back everyone." Mulder held out his arms to push the others back. He was in the very spot he had seen Cameron that night and it was all coming back to him. He started muttering something neither of them could understand. The rug, so neat and clean seemed to be getting fuzzy. It's subtle pattern began to swirl around. Cuddy felt dizzy, Skinner felt dizzy, Mulder felt a swell of euphoria erupting around him. The Vortex was opening.
Cuddy and Skinner stood with their mouths agape. He'd done it. Mulder had opened the Vortex. It was real. The truth of that hit them like a ton of bricks. Skinner collapsed into a chair. His Rosie was in that thing. Could she still be alive in there?
He looked down into the Vortex. All he could see was grey, all he could feel was a cold rush of air, and something else. A strange sort of feeling, like someone tugging at his shirt. The tugging became stronger, he felt his weight shifting toward the Vortex. It was pulling him in.
"Skinner, no!" Mulder shouted as he watched his friend being pulled toward the Vortex. "Cuddy, hold on to something." There was still time for her to save herself. Skinner needed him. Mulder dropped down to the floor and grabbed the corner of the coffee table. With his other hand he grabbed Skinner by the arm. "Skinner, take my arm."
Skinner was struggling to fight the Vortex but it was strong. He managed to grab Mulder by the sleeve. "I've got you, pull!" He had to yell to be heard over the strong whooshing sound of the Vortex.
Fox Mulder had never pulled so hard in his life. Skinner had become so much more to him over the years than just a boss. He wasn't going to let the man go without a fight.
Cuddy watched helplessly as the two men struggled to break free of the Vortex. She wanted to help, but every time she tried to move, she felt the Vortex pulling her in. She had to stay where she was. She would be no use to anyone if she got herself sucked in.
Finally Mulder was able to pull Skinner free of the Vortex. They both latched on to the coffee table. "We have to get out of here." Mulder hadn't realized just what they were dealing with. The Vortex was too much for them to take on. There had to be another way.
"What the hell is that thing?" Skinner was looking down into the Vortex, but hugging the coffee table like his life depended on it, which it did.
"I did some research and I can't be sure, but I think it's the Vortex of Academia."
"The what?" Cuddy shouted over the dull roar of the Vortex.
"The Vortex of Academia. It's a sort of temporal phenomenon that occurs around individuals who are suffering academic burnout. I've only ever heard of two other cases of it. It's very unusual." Mulder was looking into the Vortex in awe. It wasn't every day one got to experience something like this.
"How do we stop it?" Skinner wasn't nearly as awestruck as Mulder. He just wanted to get Rosie out of there and get them both the hell out of Princeton.
"I don't know." Mulder was almost smiling. It was beautiful when you really looked at it.
"I'm going in. Do you have the chain?" Skinner's only thought was of his beautiful Rosie. He had to save her. He had told her not to study so hard, but she didn't listen. She was going for her PHD. She would be the first one in her family to get a PHD, her parents were so proud. She was pushing herself too hard, but she kept saying it was just a little bit longer, just a little bit longer.
"You can't go in there?" Cuddy had thought it sounded like a great idea when she was in the comfort of the Hyatt Regency, but laying on Cameron's floor clutching a coffee table while a great big Vortex tried to swallow them whole had made it seem like a very bad idea all of a sudden.
"There's no choice. I have to save Rosie." Skinner tied the end of the chain around his waist, and let go of the coffee table. There was a huge whoosh sound, and he was gone, just a chain heading into oblivion.
House didn't know how much more television he could watch. The first three hours of the Fifth Wheel marathon had been highly entertaining. Now it was mind numbing. He couldn't get over what people were willing to do to get on television, or who they were willing to do. There were some pretty scary people in the world.
Cameron was quite content on her fire escape. She could watch House watch television all night long. All that mattered was that she be near House. She had a vague recollection of once having a life, but that life was full of dead husbands and miscarriages and people who yelled at her.
Ever since she'd discovered the Vortex, things had been different. Her life had meaning. Suddenly everything was so clear. As long as she kept feeding the Vortex, she would get what she wanted. She would get House.
That last sacrifice should have done the trick. House should have been shouting his undying love from the rooftops. Something had gone wrong. She just didn't know what.
She sat on her perch, waiting for the effect of the sacrifice to hit House, waiting for him to come looking for her, ready to profess his love. She would have a very long wait.
"I think I see something." Cuddy had been staring into the Vortex for so long now she wasn't sure if it was just her eyes playing tricks on her or what.
"I see it too." Mulder tightened his grip on the chain. "I think it's a hand." They waited breathlessly until they were about to pass out, then waited while breathing. It was much better that way.
"It's a hand!" Cuddy started to clap with joy, but when she let go of the table she felt herself being pulled toward the Vortex, so she gave up the whole clapping thing and grabbed the table again.
"Grab it." Mulder had his hands busy pulling on the chain. He wrapped one arm around the leg of the coffee table so he could pull with both hands.
Cuddy wrapped her legs around the coffee table's leg and grabbed at the hand with both of hers. She was stretching her body as much as she could, but she wasn't quite close enough. The hand flailed around searching for hers.
She could hear faint sounds coming out of the Vortex. 'Hold on, honey, I've got you,' and that sort of thing. It sounded like Skinner. "I think it's him." She doubled her efforts and finally caught his hand.
"Hold on!" She shouted into the Vortex. With all her strength she pulled. Mulder was reeling in the chain and together they caused something to happen. The top of Skinners head reflected in the dull light of the living room. Soon his face was visible, a look of great effort on it. There was another face too, a woman, it must have been Rosie. It didn't seem likely that Skinner would leave Rosie behind and take someone else out of the Vortex.
With one last, great effort, Skinner and Rosie were pulled out of the Vortex. They clutched their rescuers gratefully. "Now what?" Skinner was looking back into the Vortex with fear.
Mulder couldn't help himself. "What was it like in there?"
"Fox!" Cuddy yelled at him. Sometimes he could be so insensitive. "We've got to shut that thing and get out of here."
"I don't think we can shut that thing." Mulder hadn't given any thought to that part. In all his research he'd figured out what it was and where it came from, but he still didn't know how to stop it.
"We have to do something." Cuddy didn't like the idea of this big gaping Vortex just hanging out in the middle of Princeton. It seemed unsafe.
"I say we get out of here. She can close it when she gets home." Skinner was done with the whole thing. He was clutching Rosie and the coffee table, which wasn't all that easy. He didn't want to push poor Rosie into the table, but he had no choice. It was the only way to get a firm grip.
Poor Rosie was still in a daze. She'd been in that Vortex a long time and it seemed to have done a number on her. Skinner looked at her sadly. His beautiful bride. They had everything all planned. It was going to be a storybook wedding. Now he wasn't sure she would be up to it. He was afraid it might take years for her to come back to her old, wonderful self. The thought made him cry.
"You can do that later." Mulder wanted to be sympathetic, but the Vortex seemed to be moving toward them, and saving their lives was more important right now than saving their feelings. "Let's go. Make a human chain, stay close to the wall. Hold on to the carpet if you have to, just hold on. Skinner, you got Rosie?" Rosie didn't look like she could hold on to anything right now. She was a couple of nose tubes away from a coma.
It seemed to take them forever, but the band of adventurers made it to the door. It took great effort to get the door open. Why on earth did it swing out? Mulder had a sneaking suspicion that the architects had made it that way just in case a life sucking Vortex opened up in the room. It was like an anti-escape hatch. Damn architects. First the ladies room with only one door, and now this. Doors were not his friend.
With the Vortex behind the shut door that was behind them, they all breathed a sigh of relieve, except Rosie who was having enough trouble breathing a regular breath of air. Mulder called House to tell him he could go to bed. There was no answer. Mulder really didn't like that. Had House fallen asleep already? If so, where was Cameron?
"What's wrong?" Cuddy didn't like the look on Mulder's face.
"Nothing." He didn't have the heart to tell her his suspicions.
"He isn't picking up." She was one smart cookie, though it was pretty obvious he hadn't picked up since Mulder hadn't said anything to him. If House had picked up, Mulder would have had reason to speak, but House didn't pick up, so Mulder didn't speak. "We have to get over there." Mulder's silence had told Cuddy all she needed to not hear.
They rushed to House's apartment. Everything seemed fine on the surface. The lights were still on, but Cameron was missing from her perch. Did she finally make her move?
"Um, there's something I should tell you about the Vortex." Mulder spoke nervously.
"Just one thing?" Cuddy loved him to death, but sometimes she just wanted to kick him where she knew it would really hurt.
"The Vortex grows as it's fed."
"Fed?" Skinner joined Cuddy for a duet.
"It needs souls. It feeds off their energy. If the Keeper, I believe that's Cameron in this case, gives it the souls it needs, it will fulfill her deepest desire."
"House!" A look of panic crossed Cuddy's face.
House went to the piano, he sat down and plunked a few keys, but his heart wasn't in it. He was tired, and he was worried about the others. Why hadn't they called yet? Did something go wrong?
He heard a sound outside the window. It wasn't a good sound like the chirping of cute little birdies or the gentile rain tapping against a tin roof. It was an intrusive sound like a crazed stalker breaking the window of their idols new Porsche. But in this case the glass that broke wasn't from a car, it was much closer than that. It was coming from his bedroom.
His first instinct had been to run, but that was wasn't going to happen, so he had to go with his second instinct, which was to go and see what had caused the noise. This was a really bad idea, but it was definitely more interesting than what he was doing, which was nothing.
He grabbed his cane, it wasn't his favorite cane, that was still somewhere in the hospital, or, more likely, at Cameron's house in a place of honor, but it got the job done. He slowly pushed open the bedroom door. He thought about flipping on the light, but realized he didn't have to, it was already on and illuminated the scariest sight he'd ever had in his life.
Cameron was laying in his bed. She was in her underclothes. House averted his eyes. It somehow seemed wrong, like catching your stepdaughter coming out of the shower or something. This was so wrong. "What are you doing?" He shouldn't have engaged her in conversation, he knew no good could come of it, and yet he couldn't help himself. Curse his curiosity.
"Waiting for you. You can't deny your feelings any longer Greg. I can see it all in your eyes. You're shy, it's OK. I don't mind doing the pursuing if that's what you need." She was getting up, on all fours now, she crawled across the bed like a cheetah stalking its prey.
"Waiting for me to what?" He didn't even want to touch the whole shy thing.
"Waiting for you to realize how you feel." Duh, he really should have seen that one coming.
"I feel like being sick." It was a great reply so he had to say it, but there was some truth to it as well. He wasn't feeling very good at the moment. The room felt like it was spinning, not fast, but very, very slowly, like those revolving restaurants at the top of very high buildings. One rotation an hour. It was reeking havoc on his sense of balance, and reality.
"I can help you with that." She was sitting in front of him now. How did he get so close to the bed? He didn't remember walking over there. "Just let Ally make it all better." She stood up and started rubbing his temples. It did seem to help a little.
House banged his fist into his bad thigh. The pain shot through him like a rocket going off in his leg. 'Stay focused,' he yelled in his head. It was louder than he thought a voiceless yell could be, and it seemed to ring in his ears. He got the point. He had to stay focused.
Cameron noticed his face contorting in pain. She tried to look comforting by turning the corners of her mouth up until it hurt and she had to lower the corners again. "Denying your feelings has given you such pain. I understand. If you just say you love me, the pain can go away." House wondered if she really believed all this. God he hoped not.
There was nothing left for him to do. She wasn't going to give up. He could tell her he hated her and damn her to hell and she would say he was just in denial. There was nothing he could do. He couldn't overpower her. She worked out, he'd seen her doing it once, she was way stronger than he was. There was no point in fighting anymore.
"Let me just freshen up for you." He made his voice as sweet as it would go, which wasn't all that sweet, but hey, she said she liked him just the way he was. He hobbled to the bathroom.
The counter was lined with girly things. She'd been planning this. She came prepared. He took a moment to look at the different potions and gadgets. It looked like she was planning on staying a while. He had to get out of this.
He looked at the window. What were the odds that Gregory House, crippled, would climb through two bathroom windows in one day? Pretty slim. He would have laid down money at 100 to 1 against it. Yet here he was, in his own bathroom, which he hardly recognized, contemplating the two story drop that awaited him on the other side.
"You can't hide from me." Cameron's voice came through the door. It was close, really close, like she was just on the other side of the door. The handle rattled. Oh crap, House said as he tossed himself out the window. He would deal with the two story drop, but he could not deal with the horny young lady on the other side of that door.
"Ouch." House hit the trash hard. He never knew there was a dumpster just outside his bathroom window. That did explain the smell in his bathroom during the summer though.
House picked some trash off himself and held his breath. He looked up to see Cameron smiling down at him. "Playing hard to get? That's so cute." The girl was relentless. House knew he only had moments to get the hell out of there before she came after him. Her head had disappeared from the window. He was already loosing the race.
If the inhabitants of Maple Street had happened to look out their window that warm spring night, they would have been greeted with a very strange sight. A middle aged man went limping down the street at full speed, followed by a slow walking young woman in her Victoria's Secret finest. Fortunately no one did look out their window and House was spared the humiliation of being hunted down in the street like a dog.
Mulder and Cuddy rode in the front seat, while Skinner comforted Rosie in the back. "Is she talking yet?" Mulder asked over his shoulder. He was really hoping she could give them some useful information.
"Not yet." Skinner was getting tired of being asked that question. It's all Mulder had said since leaving the apartment and the Vortex.
"She could know something that will help us." Cuddy was getting more and more worried. She knew that Cameron's deepest desire was that House love her. What could the Vortex do to make that happen? Had House been brainwashed or was he being held against his will? Cuddy knew he would not like either of those options.
They sped across town to House's place. None of them knew what they would find when they got there and they were all feeling a little guilty about leaving him alone to deal with Cameron.
Cuddy tried calling him again, but there was still no answer. She paged him but got no reply. She was getting seriously worried when Mulder slammed on the breaks. It wasn't the slamming of the breaks that had her worried, but her worry was pushed aside when she saw why he slammed on the breaks.
They'd just pulled onto House's street. It was a long street, and there were a few blocks away still, which is why it was so surprising to see House running straight toward the car. Mulder slammed the breaks on just in time.
House was panting heavily and gripping his leg. Skinner got out of the backseat, sorry to leave Rosie even for a moment, but knowing that House needed him more at the moment. He helped House into the car.
Cameron was a few feet away. She was walking slowly toward the car. "He needs me," she was saying to the air. "He needs me. I'm the only one who understands him. I'm the only one who really knows him."
Mulder put the car in reverse and slammed on the gas. The wheels screeched angrily as they gripped the pavement and sent the car hurtling backwards.
"Are you OK?" Cuddy was leaning over the seat to House. He looked a mess. He was sweating horribly and his face was a portrait of pain. If you looked up pain in the dictionary, this was the face you would see. It broke her heart.
"I don't have my pills." It was all he could manage to say. The pain was killing him, and he'd left his pills on the coffee table. Why hadn't he put them in his pocket? Because he thought he was spending a relatively safe, if not entirely private, night at home.
"We've got to do something about that Vortex." Mulder sympathized with House's plight, really he did, but there were bigger matters to attend to.
"I thought you said Dr. Cameron could do it." Skinner was growing tired of Mulder's consistently withholding vital information until the very last minute so he could look all smart and clever and save the day and impress the girl. It was getting a little old.
"I don't think that's an option anymore." As they turned the corner, Mulder had noticed Cameron collapse in the middle of the street. He wasn't sure what had happened to her, but he thought that pulling someone out of the Vortex had really pissed it off, and it was seeking revenge on the one person it was closest to, not physically of course, because it was alone in her apartment right now, but it really felt a deep, spiritual bond with Cameron. She was, after all, the one to give it life. She'd be oh so sweet to it, and then she'd taken her gift away. The Vortex was not happy, and it wasn't going to take this lying down.
"We have to go back there and stop it." Mulder had made his decision, and since he was driving, his decision was everybody's decision.
"What are we going to do?" Cuddy just wanted this whole nightmare to end. She was never eating Mexican food right before bed again.
"It needs a soul." Everyone's head shot over to Rosie, even Mulder's, which wasn't very good for his driving. It was the first time they had heard her speak since coming out of the Vortex. Mulder spun his head back around when the windshield was lit up like a bonfire by an oncoming bus. He quickly returned the car to the proper lane and continued on.
"It needs her, it wants her." Rosie sounded like she was in a trance, or worse, like she had some sort of mind connection with the Vortex.
"How do you know this?" Mulder wanted specifics before he got all carried away.
"It wants revenge. You pulled me out, so now you must put someone else in. Then the Vortex will close." A tear was running down her cheek. She knew what the Vortex of Academia was like, and she wouldn't wish that on anyone. It was so cold and clinical there, and she'd been worked like a dog, writing and writing, reading book after book. The questions, the tests, it was agony. She broke down in tears.
Mulder turned the car around. If the Vortex wanted Cameron, the Vortex would get Cameron. She was in no condition to argue the point. She was still laying in the road where they'd left her. Mulder and Skinner dragged her limp body into the car. She was alive, that they knew because she was mumbling something under her breath. "I'll find you another, I promise." When they passed the front of the car, she looked up at Cuddy, looked right into her eyes, and flashed a smile that sent ice through Cuddy's veins. "I'll give you her," Cameron said through her maniacal smile. "I'd love to give you her."
The car sped down the road. Mulder didn't stop at the five red lights or the dozen stop signs. He wouldn't have stopped if the police had noticed and made a big stink about it, but they were too busy buying jelly doughnuts and coffee to notice a non-descript Ford Taurus zipping down the streets of Princeton with a crippled, a psychopath and a near zombie in the backseat. Those must have been really good jelly doughnuts.
Cameron's apartment was much as they left it. In other words, there was a big gapping hole in the middle of her living room waiting to suck anything that lived into it's not so soft and gooey center.
Cameron was in Mulder's arms. She looked like a passed out bride being carried over the threshold, only in this case it was the threshold to hell, and the bride was the bride of Chucky.
They all stopped in the door, toppling over one another as they each realized that to go in the room would be to go in the Vortex. It was stronger than they remembered. House didn't remember it at all, but he would easily believe that it had gotten stronger if they'd told him.
"Just throw her in." Cuddy was in no mood to be nice to poor little Cameron.
"I can't just throw her in." Mulder looked at the unconscious girl in his arms. She looked so innocent, so helpless. Maybe this wasn't her fault. Maybe she'd gotten in over her head.
House gave him a little shove. "Either you throw her in or I'm pushing you both in." He wasn't joking either. He looked ready to push.
Mulder shook his head in remorse. Why did it have to end like this? He tried to think of a way to save her, but while he was thinking, Cuddy and House came around each side of him, grabbed a bit of Cameron and tossed her into the Vortex.
There was a huge flash of light, a large whoomp sound, and the Vortex closed in on itself in a hurry. With the strong wind of the Vortex gone, the entire ensemble fell back onto one another.
Several days passed before any of them were back to normal. Cuddy and House returned to work the following week. They were each given an invitation to Skinner and Rosie's wedding, which was to go on as planned, at Rosie's request. After what she'd been through, she just wanted to move on with her life.
Mulder, Rosie and Skinner all returned home. Skinner swore he would never step foot in New Jersey again. Rosie shushed him because she was smart enough to know that whenever someone said they wouldn't so something ever again, they were setting themselves up for failure. Some way, some how, Rosie knew Skinner would have to come back to New Jersey now that he'd made that statement.
Skinner and Rosie would go on to have many children. Two of which they named Greg and Lisa. None of which they named Allison. Rosie had wanted to name their second son Fox, after Mulder who helped save her life, but Skinner refused to saddle his son with such an unfortunate name. Fox Skinner would never be, and Walter Skinner Jr was very grateful for that.
As for the good doctors, House and Cuddy, they went back to life as normal. When questions started arising about Dr. Cameron's disappearance, they did not mention the Vortex of Academia, or House's roll in the dumpster, or that look Cameron gave Cuddy shortly before the end. Cuddy still woke up in a cold sweat thinking about that look sometimes. Mostly after eating Mexican food late at night, which she kept swearing never to do again, which she always seemed to forget. She just loved a good burrito.
Eventually the investigation slowed, and Dr. Allison Cameron became another file deep in the archives of the Princeton Police Records. Everyone that knew her remembered her fondly, that sweet little girl who hated breaking bad news, and always tried to cheer House up. House and Cuddy remembered quite a different Allison Cameron, but they never spoke of her.
And deep in the Vortex of Academia, where ever it currently lies, Allison sits at a desk, pouring over her medical journals. Her eyes are bleary and her hand aches from all the notes she's had to take, but still she pours over her books. Somewhere in the vast Vortex library there must be an answer on how to win House back. It was here somewhere and she was determined to find it.
Then all she had to do was find some poor student, studying the night away, to open the Vortex and set her free. Universities were full of students who could set her free, she just had to wait until she found the answer she was looking for. She was patient, and studious. If the answer was here, she would find it, then she would become Mrs. Gregory House, and no one would get in her way this time.