Title: Debreeding the Wound
Disclaimer: If I owned House, I'd never get out of bed long enough to write this.
Summary: He says things to her he shouldn't. But maybe they can clear the air
A/N: Written as part of a House fic-a-thon, for my friend Jane. Fic to include:
1. Wilson/House goodness, preferably W telling House what's good for him.
2. Strong, smart Cameron. Oh and she's caught by House reading Harry Potter.
3. House/Cameron goodness without smut.
"He was a bastard." Icy blue eyes caught her in a stare.
"Wh..." She stared at him in shock, a single syllable all she could choke out. Nothing he said to her should come as a surprise anymore, but this did. It hurt, in a 'insert knife, then twist' kind of way. Not the usual dull aches she had become used to when his pointed comments were aimed in her direction, or worse, when he ignored her.
"What he did to you..."
"He didn't do anything to me. Whatever I did, whatever happened between us, was because I loved him. It also has nothing to do with you." She couldn't let him continue, let him dissect her the way he did everyone else. Not again. "I'm going home now. I'll see you on Monday."
She might have slammed the door behind her as she left, but his office door was glass and she was afraid it would shatter. Passing the elevator she pulled open the door to the stairs instead. Cameron hoped that walking the flights of stair would serve duel purposes; working of the worst of her anger before getting behind the wheel of her car and getting her away from House that much quicker. She didn't want to be standing in front of the elevator if he should decided to come after her, not that he would. When she reached the lobby she didn't slow down, but headed straight for the doors and out of the hospital.
"Boy, did you mess that up spectacularly. Did you plan to do that, or was it pure luck? I don't think I've seen a woman so angry since I told my first wife about my first affair."
"Not in the mood, Wilson." House reached for his iPod, intending to blast music until Wilson got the hint and left. Knowing his friend all too well, Wilson snatched the mp3 player out of its cradle and slipped it into the pocket of his lab coat. Leaning back in his chair, House picked the oversized red tennis ball of his desk and began throwing it back and forth between his hands.
"Okay, give it to me. Whatever sage advice you have for this occasion, impart it now so I can nod my head and you can feel better. I was just about to leave. Steve is expecting me, and he gets upset if I don't call and let him know I'm going to be late."
"Good to see you have your priorities straight," Wilson rolled his eyes. "Heaven forbid you take a minute to consider the people around you."
"Rats are people too," House replied, raising one eyebrow. Wilson wisely decided to ignore him.
"Why did you do that?" he asked, more then ready to bypass the obligatory banter part of their conversation.
"Do what?" House faked a confused look, knowing it wouldn't help him.
"Cameron. Don't you think she's having a hard enough time without you rubbing salt in her wounds? She lost a patient today."
"If she's going to do this job she needs to learn to toughen up. It's not my job to make life easier for my employes."
"It's not your job to make it more difficult either, but you do a fine job at that."
"Yeah, but that's fun for me." The look in Cam's eyes before she left suddenly flashed before him. Anger and pain. He pushed the image away. "Especially taunting Chase. Look Wilson..."
"You should apologize," Wilson interrupted. "It's the right thing to do."
"To Cameron. You took memories of the most painful time in her life and used them to hurt her. And on top of that you called her husband, a man she loved, a bastard. I'm still don't understand where that came from." It had seemed harsh, even for him, and Wilson had been shocked that House would hurt Cameron so deliberately.
"He used her. He was already dying when they met, and still he let her fall in love with him and go through that pain. In my book, that makes him a bastard." House set the ball he had been playing with back on the desk and reached for the amber colored bottle in his pocket. Shaking a single pill into his hand he popped it into his mouth and swallowed.
"So it would be better if he had pushed her away?" With sudden clarity Wilson understood where House was coming from. He was identifying with Cameron's husband, and Wilson had to fight away a smile. It was one more piece of evidence to support his theory that House was in love with the pretty young doctor. Now if only he would cut out the elementary school bulling, and tell her.
"Yes. He should have spared her that." Yanking his cane from its position leaning against the desk, House raised himself from his chair. "Are we done here? Because I just bought Serenity today, and I'm really in the mood for a good old fashioned cowboy space movie. Wanna come over?"
"No thanks. I just watched it last week. Besides, you talk through all the best parts."
"Think about what I said." Wilson offered one last comment before he walked out of the office.
House told himself that he wouldn't. It had been a long day and all he intended to do was go home and watch his movie. He didn't want to think about Cameron, or the case they had solved too late this time. Didn't want to think about death or any pain except the one in his leg that he would dull with Vicodin and brandy. But he would, damn it. Scowling, House limped down the hall end to the elevator.
The first thing she had done when she had gotten home was shed her work clothes. After changing into bike shorts and a sports bra she had run five miles, relying on her tread mill since snowy sidewalks made running outside unsafe and unpleasant. A hot shower washed away the sweat and relaxed her muscles. Today had been hell, and that had been before her 'conversation' with House. Realizing that she hadn't eaten since breakfast, Cameron made herself a turkey sandwich and a bowl of soup. Finding nothing on the television she curled up on the couch with a book.
It was almost midnight when a knock on the door pulled her out of the mystical world of Hogwarts. Curious about who would be at her door this late she put down the book and walked across the room. Caution had her looking through the peep hole, and she was glad for the instinct. It had taken her hours to calm down after her last confrontation with the man standing outside her apartment, and there was no way she was facing him again tonight. As she stood there he knocked again, and she calmly walked away from the door and returned to her seat on the couch.
"I know you're in there, Cameron. The light is on, and I'm sure you're as contentious about wasting electricity as you are about everything else." Momentary silence was followed by a third set of knocking. Doing her best to ignore the noise, Cameron picked up her book. She was able to read almost a chapter before his voice sounded again. "I'm not going away until you open the door."
She expected him to continue knocking. She pictured him rapping at the door, threatening to make enough noise that the neighbors would complain. When nothing happened she assumed that he had taken the hint and left. Or gotten bored. A few minutes was all it took to finish the chapter she had been reading, and she decided that it was time to head for bed. To say that it had been a long day would have been a huge understatement.
She wasn't sure why she looked outside before she went to bed. At first he blended into the shadows, and if he hadn't moved she wouldn't have seen him. He sat on the top step, almost completely still except for the cane moving back and forth between his hands. Cameron looked at the clock and noted that almost forty-five minutes had passed since House had first knocked on her door. She was tempted to leave him where he was. He didn't deserve her consideration, especially today. Even as she told herself that she was going to bed, though, Cameron reached for the dead bolt. House was just stubborn enough (childish enough, she muttered) to stay outside all night.
"It's about time. A man could freeze out here."
"Go home, House." She stood in the open doorway, arms crossed both to convey her mood and ward off the chill. Snow was in the forecast for tonight, and from the smell in the air it wouldn't be long before the first flake fell.
"I need to talk to you first." House raised himself from where he sat, stumbling in the process. Catching himself with a hand on the wall and another wrapped around his cane, he took a minute to massage his thigh muscle before straightening up to his full height.
"We can talk in the morning."
"Tomorrow is Saturday. Somehow, I doubt you'll show up to work on your day off just to talk to me." He took a couple of steps toward her, and she reluctantly stepped aside and allow him to enter her apartment. He limped into the living room, his eyes sweeping the room before he turned to face her. "You've moved a few things around."
"Yeah, well I bought a new chair, and..." she paused and shook her head. It was late, she was tired, and she refused to let him draw her into inane conversation. "You know what, House? I'm not doing this right now. Say whatever it is that you think you need to say, and then leave."
"Wilson thinks I should apologize."
"Wilson. He thinks I should apologize for what I said to you earlier." Without waiting to be asked, House settled himself down on the couch. Cam joined him, frowning as she sat as far away as possible.
"I got that part. I don't understand what it has to do with you showing up at my place at this hour." She didn't think she'd ever heard House admit to making a mistake, except for a lighthearted 'oops.'
"Maybe he's right."
"So you came here to apologize?"
"No, I said maybe I should. If I was kind or polite, or thought I'd lied, I would. I didn't lie, and we both know that kindness and courtesy aren't things I'm ever accused of."
"So you drove here in the middle of the night and sat out in the cold to tell me that you aren't really sorry for calling my dead husband a bastard? Thanks and goodnight." She stood up and started to leave the room. If she didn't get away from House she was going to say things she would regret; possibly words that would end any chance she had of continuing at her job.
"He hurt you." She froze at his words, uttered in a low and even tone. Almost emotionless, someone who didn't know him would think.
"He loved me." She didn't turn around, but continued out of the room and down the hall to her bedroom. Before the door closed behind her, she thought she heard him mutter "same thing."
As she changed into her pajamas and washed her face she listened for the tell tale sound of the front door opening and closing. It didn't come. Leaving her room, she told herself that she probably just hadn't heard it. House, when he wanted to, could be rather quiet. She was halfway into the kitchen for a glass of water when she saw him out of the corner of her eye. He was standing next to the couch, a book in his hand.
"Harry Potter?" he smirked. She had the sudden urge to tear the book out of his hands and hit him over the head with it, so she continued on to the kitchen without answering him. A few minutes later she returned, a mug of tea in each hand. The time, and the calming ritual of preparing the tea, had prepared her to face the man who refused to leave. He was still standing in the same place, but now he held a framed photo instead of the book.
"This is him," he commented, all traces of joking gone from his voice. Cameron stepped behind him and withdrew the picture from his hold. It was a candid shot of the two of them, taken on their wedding day. They were seated on a park bench outside city hall, and her new husband's head was resting on her shoulder. A sweet gesture, except that it was because he was to tired to do anything else.
"That was him," she confirmed. She didn't even notice the change in tense, present to past.
"How long after this was taken did he..." Never one to tiptoe around things, he would have finished his question. However, Cameron picked that moment to hand his the steaming cup of tea. The sudden gesture coupled with the ceramic almost burning his skin was enough to make him loose his train of thought.
"I'm not talking to you about this. Not tonight, and not anytime in the near future. My husband and my marriage are both off limits to you."
"Well now, that's sure to stop me. I never talk about things I shouldn't." He should let it go, drop the subject, but for some reason he couldn't. Maybe because he had gone to far already. It was like debreeding a wound. He had already exposed the pain, now he was intent on getting rid of the poison.
"Why did you marry him?" When she pressed her lip together and refused to answer, he tried another tact. "Did you fall in love with him before or after the wedding?"
"Why do you want to know? You think he's a bastard and I'm a fool, so why does it matter?"
"I never called you a fool. Naive, maybe. And you're definitely too soft. But never a fool." He took back the photo and returned it to the shelf. "But your more then that. Your..."
"Don't tell me I'm damaged again. You make me sound like a piece of machinery or a child's toy; something to be discarded." She raised a hand, wanting to lash out at him but knowing that she wouldn't. He surprised her by grabbing it and clasping it to his chest, forcing her to take a step in his direction.
"No one gets through life without being damaged. We all have scars, you just can't always see them. And that's not what I was going to say."
"I don't care..."
"You are compassionate and empathetic and sweet."
"And that's bad." She prepared herself for one of his lectures, making sure she knew the location of the Harry Potter book in case she did decide to hit him over the head.
"As characteristics of Allison, no. But for Dr. Cameron they can be. You have to stop identifying with the patients. You couldn't save your husband and you can't save everyone who comes through our door."
"So I should stop caring about people, like you?" She tried to pull away from him, but he responded by pulling her even closer.
"Every time we lose a patient, I go home and pore myself a double scotch. Just because I don't show it doesn't mean I don't care." If his words surprised her she had no time to register it. He was only inches from her now and he quickly closed that distance, covering her lips with his own. He lingered there, not deepening the kiss but just holding her there. When he tried to end the kiss Cameron reached around and grasped his neck, keeping him where he was. When they finally broke apart, it was a minute before either of them spoke.
"I'll hurt you," he cautioned.
"I know." She had always known that any kind of relationship with House would carry a price.
"Probably more then he did." He wasn't sure if he was trying to prepare her or scare her away.
"Maybe you will." she remembered all the things he had said to her, today and in the past. Barbs about low cut jeans, about damage, about her husband. But then she remembered him calling her "my girl" and the grin when he allowed her to write of his board. The feel of his lips on hers. "Or maybe we can help each other heal"