Summary: Accusations are made. Loyalties will be tested. House and his team attend a conference in Las Vegas, and he is accused of murder. CSI-crossover.
Author's Note: This is a crossover between my two favourite shows, House and CSI, though it will be dominantly House, which is why it is posted in this section. (Though I'm toying with the idea of making one chapter House, one chapter CSI, depending on your thoughts). This is a very odd, very fun experiment. I have no idea what kind of reception this fic will get, and whether or not the shift from the world of House to the world of CSI will be seamless and believable. But it'll be fun to try, right?
Author's Note 2: Potential for CSI spoilers up to the end of the last season. I have seen House up to the episode 'Histories' and after the feedback for my last fic, I have attempted to make as many revisions as possible on my characterisations. I apologise for any inaccuracies.
To clear up any doubts, I also want to make it clear that I am a House/Cameron and Grissom/Sara shipper and these pairings will be making themselves known in further chapters.
Okay, now I've finished with that long spiel, enjoy, and let me know what you think!
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Sure, he'd been expecting some kind of karmic retribution for agreeing to attend a conference in Vegas for the sole reason that it was in Vegas, but nothing of this magnitude.
Cuddy had persuaded him to attend the Annual Conference of Diagnostic Medicine in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the promise that it would ensure his freedom from clinic duty for a full week. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how much they were annoying him that week, he was asked to invite two of his staff to attend. He chose Chase and Cameron; Chase, because he had no doubt the boy had grown up with experience in similar professional situations; and Cameron, because she was universally well liked, and her attendance would at least temporarily appease Cuddy, who had entrusted 'the reputation of the hospital' on his shoulders.
Riiiight. She really didn't give him a lot of credit.
Foreman took it as a personal insult that he was left behind to hold up the home front, just as House had expected him too. His frustration only amused him, and he conveniently failed to mention that he had left him in charge because he trusted him to run things smoothly, should a case miraculously make itself known in the next five days. He rarely encouraged his team because that was not the way to produce capable doctors. If they wanted softening up, they should have thought about other careers. Wilson had likewise promised he would pitch in if needed, but House doubted that would be necessary.
The flight from the Trenton-Mercer Airport to the Las Vegas Mccarran International Airport went off without a hitch, and considering his past experiences with airlines, he should have expected some kind of payback for getting off so easily. But, he didn't, and he sat in his seat with his headphones on, steadfastly ignoring both Cameron and Chase beside him as the rock tunes of the Who, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin blasted his ears.
They landed in Las Vegas at 5:30pm, and he fazed out Chase and Cameron's mingled twattering about the city as they neared their hotel. They had reservations at the Four Seasons. Trust those old fogeys to pick the only hotel on the Strip without a damn casino.
They stood on the sidewalk outside, in a collective moment of admiration or criticism, depending on the party, taking in the surrounding glitter and bustle of the Strip before entering the hotel.
"Ah, Las Vegas", House observed fondly; drawing in a deep breath, cane thwacking the ground at his feet. "You can practically just smell the sin, can't you?"
"You must feel right at home", Cameron murmured cheekily.
The immunologist quietly observed the bustling area around them as House forced Chase to head up to the front desk to collect their room keys. He leant heavily on his cane, feeling the full brunt of his usual pain after such excessive travelling. He riffled in his pocket, popping a Vicodin in his mouth and praying for its numbing effects. Cameron, meanwhile, was riveted with a sort of childlike fascination to the imposing lobby, and he had no doubt this was her first time in the city of sin. It would have been against all laws of fairies and nature otherwise.
He too, glanced around, but with much less animation. He spotted several stuffy, suited men no doubt in attendance for the conference, and he thanked God Cameron had not convinced him to change out of the Stones t-shirt under his suede coat. His relief was short-lived, however, when he glimpsed a familiar figure making his way from the row of elevator banks on their right.
"Oh, crap", he muttered, wondering if he could dive behind a nearby fern in time to save himself.
No such luck.
"Dr. House", a booming voice erupted pleasantly. Cameron's head spun, blinking at the figure who approached them with such energy, unable to associate the enthusiasm behind his name.
"I'll give you fifty bucks to lift your shirt and create a distraction while I make a break for the elevators", he muttered out of the corner of his mouth. Cameron shot him a look, straightening as the man neared and came to a halt in front of them.
"House", he repeated, smiling widely. "What a surprise. I had no idea you would be attending this year".
"Neither did I", House answered, with no small amount of sarcasm.
The man seemed oblivious to it, a feat Cameron thought quite impossible. "How's the hospital? Cuddy still running things?"
"Oh yeah, she's a slavedriver", House replied, and Cameron had no doubt he was entirely serious.
He wore a blue pinstriped suit, an outfit even she had to cringe at, one that begged for House's ridicule. The bitter diagnostician, however, remained uncharacteristically silent. The man was several years older than him, with grey at his temples and wrinkles tugging at his eyes, but they looked like wrinkles from laughter rather than wrinkles from age. Cameron estimated him to be in his early fifties, and the robust, jovial older man appeared to be genuinely pleased to see House, a fondness she had rarely seen in anyone but Wilson, who hid it behind offhanded repartee much more on House's level.
He turned his curious attention to Cameron, lifting an eyebrow at her expectantly. "Aren't you going to introduce me to your lovely young colleague, House?"
House fairly rolled his eyes, waving a hand in Cameron's general direction. "Allison Cameron", he muttered. "Dr. Paul Goodard."
"Ah. A member of your elite, handpicked team, I presume?"
House was annoyed at the admiration he directed her way, grunting an affirmative. It was difficult for men not to notice her beauty, as House himself had used to his advantage many times- when a case called for that extra dressing. However, Goodard was old enough to be her father, and he was one of those few people who had the ability to completely ignore House's barbs—thus causing his unending irritation.
Goodard extended a hand, which Cameron graciously accepted, blinking at House oddly. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Cameron. You must be thrilled to be learning from the esteemed Dr. House".
"Oh, ah, yes. I am. It's very nice to meet you too", she responded politely, unable to think of anything else to say, wondering what kind of bizarre fantasy version of House this man appeared to have.
On the other hand, she couldn't understand why House was holding back with his sarcasm. Maybe Goodard finally had the antidote for dealing with it; ignore it completely.
They made a few more minutes small talk before Goodard departed, and House shot daggers at his back as Chase reapproached them.
He frowned; eyes flitting curiously in the direction they were both staring. "Who was that?"
"No one", House answered shortly.
Cameron lifted an eyebrow, intrigued by House's reaction. "It didn't look like it to me".
"Well, I could see why the pinstriped suit would fool you, but he's no one important. An old colleague".
Chase cleared his throat, attempting to clear the unexpected tension. "I've got our rooms".
House shot her one last withering look, blithely snatching the keycard from Chase's outstretched hand. "Great. Now I can raid the mini bar and make the two of you look slightly more appealing. If Cuddy's springing for this, we might as well make it a party."
Cameron frowned, disapproval evident. "Remember that you promised Dr. Cuddy you would go to the mixer tonight."
House tapped the tip of the card impatiently against his chin, annoyed that she clearly felt it her need to play babysitter for the night. "Well, lucky for us, big brother is no longer watching. Or big momma. Whatever. Unless either of you plan on tattling, she just doesn't have to know about this. Later, kids".
They watched him limp off, exchanging a sideways glance before following him to the elevators.
House retreated quickly to his room, welcoming its solace and leaning against the door in place of his cane. It was easy to dissuade his co-workers with the excuse of avoiding all social activity, when in reality his leg hurt like hell and he needed to rest it. He resented showing any sign of weakness, and his physical shortcomings were enough of one without drawing further attention to them. He'd prefer them to think of him as a lazy, antisocial bastard than a man in pain.
His reprieve was short-lived, however, as a gentle, hesitant rapping sounded at his door an hour later. He groaned, wincing against his palm as he rose from the armchair by his bed, interrupted in the midst of intent channel surfing.
Cameron stood uncertainly on the other side, which was hardly a surprise. He had almost considered leaving her in Princeton, knowing the confines they would be in over the next five days, but his only hesitation was the fact that she lacked the confidence to run the Diagnostics Department in his absence. She was young, beautiful, and for whatever reason, she seemed to like him. It annoyed the hell out of him, and he wasn't sure if it was because he was simply too bitter to like her, or because she was a real temptation, and an unneeded complication in his already messy life.
"We wanted to know if you were coming down".
He leant against the doorjamb, blinking at her irritably. Any fantasies he had envisioned involving her appearance at his door usually included much less clothing, and had not started quite like this.
"Well, you see, there's bed calling my name a lot more loudly than you are", he answered dryly. "Of course, that could change…"
She folded her arms. "You are not desperate enough to proposition me yet".
"Yet?" he repeated, quirking an eyebrow. "So the lady has hope?"
She flicked her hair behind her ear, a sign of mounting impatience. Without her crisp white lab coat, she was clad in a professional black suit jacket and tight fitting slacks. The symbolism of the black did not make it past him, and he shifted irritably. Virginal white was really much more her colour. He pursed his lips, vaguely wondering if Cuddy would be more tempted to fire him if she knew what kind of dark thoughts he was having about his much younger employee.
Cameron continued to stare at him with her wide grey eyes, and he got the impression— as he did during most of his interactions with her— that refusing her would be like hurting a puppy.
"Fine", he snapped shortly, turning to flick the TV off and snatch up his cane. Cameron blinked; obviously surprised it had been so easy to persuade him. He sighed. The prospect of numbing himself to Vicodin or alcohol- or both- was starting to look far too remote.
However, Cameron continued to hover in the doorway when he moved forward, eyeing him over uncertainly. He glared back at her when she didn't move from his path, patience reaching its limit. "What?"
"It's… sort of a semi-formal event."
Oh, she was definitely on his last nerve. "Egad! You mean my Stones shirt won't impress people?"
She rolled her eyes, looking faintly agitated. The girl really needed to find some kind of hobby. "Dr. Cuddy won't be very happy if you don't make a good impression".
"What, did she give you a license to dress me?"
She sighed, but she looked awkward. He inwardly smirked. He enjoyed making her feel uncomfortable.
"Do you like making things this difficult?"
She could make him go down there, but she was not about to win this battle. "Not so much as I enjoy the cute little frown on your face when you get mad. And you're the one making things difficult."
Said frown deepened considerably, but she looked suitably resigned. "Fine."
"Fine", he repeated, satisfied with her frustration.
The conference hall was a rustle of pretentious activity, with a string quartet in the corner and a white swathed table lined with refreshments hugging the wall. Cameron wasn't kidding about the dress code, but House didn't feel mildly bothered. He swung his cane by his side as he stopped in place, wondering when the vacant bar in the corner was going to start serving. Cameron was also quiet, and he was sure she was intimidated by the collective mass of such renowned diagnosticians.
House had to admit he had could understand her idealism. She was at the start of her career, and before her was a world of opportunities. The people in this room were solid proof of the things she could accomplish, and he gave her the moment of awed silence, scanning the crowd for Chase's familiar droopy haircut.
He spotted him a moment later, guarding the refreshment table and looking completely fascinated by the people around him. He blended into the crowd with effortless ease and comfort, and House had no doubt Cuddy would rest easier tonight, knowing at least two of her representatives were making a positive impression.
He, on the other hand, could not care less. His participation at these functions might once have been met with endless enthusiasm, decades ago. Now he was tired, crabby, and missing The OC. His dedication to the ostentatious side of his career had faded long ago. These people were here for one reason only, and it wasn't for a mingled 'we save lives, oh happy day' kind of celebration. They were here to slap each other on the back and make a lot of self-congratulatory speeches. That was it.
"Wow", Chase murmured as they neared his side, fingering his glass with vague attention. "This is impressive".
"Oh no, he's going to start salivating".
Chase glanced at him, so accustomed to his jabs they merely rolled off his back. "Have you worked with any of these people?"
His awe must have addled his brain, if he was expressing his curiosity to House, of all people. He shrugged, glancing around with a noticeable disinterest. "A few".
"Apparently Dr. Michael Windsor is scheduled to talk at tomorrow morning's session", Cameron offered, accepting the glass of champagne House mutely held in her direction before retrieving one for himself.
"The Harvard professor?" Chase asked, eyes widening eagerly. "He's renowned for his theories on Huntington's disease. I used to read his papers in medical school all the time".
"Oh, down boy", House interrupted sarcastically. "I'm sure he'll sign your stethoscope if you ask him really nicely".
"Look, here comes that doctor you don't like", Cameron said suddenly.
House blinked, glancing at her a moment. "Which one?"
He followed the direction she pointed, and rolled his eyes at the sight of Paul Goodard. Oh. That one. Thankfully he appeared not to have seen them, and dissolved into the crowd, a patch on his head shining briefly in the overhead light.
Chase glanced at House sideways. "Why don't you like him? I mean, apart from the obvious fact that you are you. He looked like a nice enough bloke to me".
House tipped the glass of champagne to his lips in response, wincing at the sickly sweet taste. "Because he's an ass", he said flatly. "And about as credible as one. Since when do I have to have a reason not to like people?"
"Point taken", Chase muttered.
His two companions eventually melded off into the crowd, fulfilling Cuddy's orders like good little up-and-coming doctors, and House hung back, retreating to the bar when a server started taking drinks.
He nursed his cold scotch against his side, thumping his cane against his left leg with the other, surveying his surroundings. Five days of interacting with other doctors might as well have been five days in hell. He could barely remember why Cuddy's offer looked so appealing in comparison to this, and wondered how long he would be missed if he slipped out to a neighbouring casino.
He spotted Chase and Cameron talking to a diagnostician he vaguely recognised, and felt a vague sense of pleasure when he noticed how well they were responding to him. At least nobody would be able to question his ability to teach them.
He felt a presence at his elbow, and glanced around, inwardly grimacing when he realised Paul Goodard had managed to sneak up to him.
"Goodard", he acknowledged, taking another sip from his drink, wondering if he could make him disappear with the power of his will.
Goodard ordered his own drink, smiling serenely, placing his elbows on the smooth bar behind them. "I have to say, you've done a fine job with those doctors of yours, House. I just had a very stimulating conversation with that young man a few minutes ago".
"Thanks", House grumbled.
"It's good to see that you've been able to get around your… physical disability".
House shifted, glancing at him with an extremely irate frown. "Yeah well, it quashed my dreams to baseball stardom, so I guess I just had to settle".
Goodard frowned. "Now House, you know I didn't mean it like that…"
"Right. Of course you didn't."
"I just meant that I think it's very admirable that you've been able to move on with your life. Not many of us could, after…"
"Becoming a cripple?" House supplied, slamming his glass back on the bar and swivelling his cane to face Goodard fully. "Well thanks for the upper, Goodard. It's been swell and motivational and all, but I have rounds to make. You know Dr. Cuddy. She's always on us to keep pushing that envelope".
He took a final swig from his glass, turning from the patronising doctor and striding off with a skilful twirl of his cane.
Until twenty minutes later, he didn't realise just how many people had witnessed that particular exchange of his long and boring night.
He didn't realise that because of it, he would soon become suspect numero uno in a murder investigation, either.