Disclaimer: House left his cane in my living room when he visited me. Really.
Spoilers: Major for ep Hunting
A/N: I posted this at my LJ last week, but thought I'd put it here too. House and Cam and New Years...
There was no coffee in the coffee pot. That was the excuse he planned on using when he found her. In truth, she had been gone for almost an hour and he was getting worried. The weak reason she had given when leaving the room earlier, about checking test results, should have taken ten minutes. No more then twenty. When he looked up from his Gameboy to realize that she was still gone, he decided it was time to go find her.
Neither Chase nor Foreman were in today, or else he might have guilted one of them into playing this game of hide and seek. It was New Year's Eve, and the fact that they had no major case meant that not all of them were needed to work. Two days ago he had told the three young doctors that two of them could have the night off, but that he wasn't holding down the entire department by himself. One of them would have to come in. It surprised him this morning to find that that person was Cameron, though he wasn't sure why. It was just like her to be nobel and self sacrificing, giving her coworkers the time off. He grumbled when he first saw her, complaining that he hoped it was Chase who had come in, so he could get in a few more jabs before the year ended. Sorry, you're stuck with me, she had shrugged.
She wasn't in the lab. The cafeteria was empty. So was the woman's rest room (glad for that, didn't want to have to explain to anyone what he was doing in there.) He stood in the middle of the empty hallway, debating whether he should check the roof or the clinic next. The first would cause him physical pain , but the second was risker. If Cuddy caught him skulking around she might put him to work. He was not in the mood to deal with stupid people today. Not that he ever was.
He had just about settled on a trek to the roof when he heard a sound. It was so quiet that if it hadn't been for the absolute stillness of the abandoned hall he would have missed it. Leaning heavily on his cane he listened more carefully. It came again, the low muffled sound of someone crying but trying to hide it. He had made that sound before, face almost smothered in a hospital pillow. Limping down the hall he went to see who was making it now.
The door to the supply closet was open a crack, and it took him no more then a second to debate whether he should continue past or open it further. Fortunately, someone had greased the hinges and it didn't creak as he swung it open. It was as he expected, even though he hoped that he had been wrong. Turned away from him, brunette head bowed and shoulders slumped, Cameron stood in the middle of the closet softly weeping. Wrapped in her own emotion, she seemed to be oblivious to his presence. He watched her as long as he could bear (thirty seconds, give or take) before letting her know of his presence.
"Just because you had to give up some hot date to come into work is no reason to hide in the corner and sulk." There was an extra bite to his tone, as he struggled to hide how he really felt.
"House." She turned around, quickly wiping a hand over each cheek in a failed attempt to hide the tears that had fallen.
"It's just one holiday. There's always Valentine's day in a month and a half. Or Chase, if you're really desperate." He hoped if nothing else his barbs would replace the haunted look in her eyes with one of annoyance or anger.
"Yeah, that's me. Real party girl." She winced at his words, remembering the last time she had 'partied.' Remembering the reason, the same one that had her hiding in a supply closet on New Year's Eve.
"What's that?" Now that she was facing him, House could see the envelope sticking out of her lab coat pocket.
Following his gaze, Cam shook her head. "It's nothing. Nothing important."
She tried to shove it farther into her pocket, but House moved quicker then she expected and snatched it from her. The Princeton Plainsburogh letterhead didn't alarm him. The letter could be anything from a pointless memo to a paycheck. From the look on her face, he doubted it was either of those. Withdrawing the single sheet of paper from the envelope, he quickly scanned it. Words seemed to pop out at him. Reminder. AIDS test. January 2nd.
"Just a precaution. Six weeks, three months, six months. This is the first one." She tried to sound casual.
"Of course. Nothing to sweat." He wondered if he should say more. He had, for the last six weeks, avoided the whole topic. Part of him wanted to ask about the drugs she was taking, and side effects she might be having. Part of him wanted to grab her and hold on tightly, telling her that everything would be okay, that the chances of her actually having the disease were slim to none. Mostly, though, he wanted to pretend that it didn't exist. Erase that whole week from his memory; Kalvin and AIDs and Cameron sleeping with Chase. And that's what he did, how he coped.
"We're out of coffee," he said as he handed the letter back to her.
"What?" She looked puzzled at the sudden change of topic.
"Coffee. We are out of it, and I want to drink some. You make it better then I do." He turned at started to walk out of the closet, pausing to look over his shoulder. "Well, you coming? The coffee's not going to make itself."
Shaking her head, Cameron followed House out of the closet and down the hall. It wasn't until she was in the office measuring out ground beans, that she realized that she actually felt a little better. Whether it was the crying jag or House's casual reassurances, she couldn't say. Turning to pick up a pair of coffee mugs, she was surprise to find that next to House's red mug sat a new one of pale pink. Stuck to the rim was a yellow post it note. Happy New Year, it read.