With the papers signed, House headed back to the conference room. Cameron and Foreman had arrived and stood around waiting for him. It also looked as though Cameron had had a chat with her soon to be ex-boyfriend Neil.
"Can I talk to you privately?" she asked, just barely keeping her tone civil.
House turned to leave. "Can't right now. I need to deliver these papers to Cuddy."
Cameron snatched the folder from his hand and shoved it into Foreman's arms. "Foreman can deliver them."
The eyebrows of House, Foreman and Chase reached their hairlines. House pursed his lips and considered the situation. "I really think I should deliver them myself," he said.
"Did you call Neil?" she demanded in a shrill tone. "And tell him there were several very good reasons he didn't want to be involved with me?"
House leaned in and said in a stage whisper, "Not in front of the kids, honey!" He motioned towards Foreman and Chase who both watched the exchange with interest.
She stomped off into his office, and with a shrug in the other two men's direction, he reluctantly followed her. Better late than never went the saying, but right now he would choose never over late.
"Do you know there are 51 Neil and N Jacksons in the area?" he asked, trying to diffuse the situation with some humor. It didn't appear to work though because she just got more irritated.
"Did you call all of them?" she shrieked.
"23 always was my lucky number."
"I cannot believe that you did—no, no I completely believe that you did this," Cameron amended. "He said you told him I had herpes, among other things!"
"He probably won't want you going to LA with him now," House said, trying to sound nonchalant. He sat down on the edge of his desk and watched her pace back and forth across the room.
"House, you cannot do this. You cannot mess with my personal life like this."
He decided it was time to play his trump card. So she didn't want anyone meddling with her life? "Did you know he booked you a ticket to LA with him?"
Her mouth fell open just like he had envisioned. "He what? But he left for LA this morning."
"He meant to give it to you last night at dinner, but you got called away before he could. He wanted you to pick up and leave with him immediately."
"I can't do that. I have a job and friends and—"
"Me. You have me," he told her earnestly. She stared at him, clearly at a loss for words. "Don't worry; I took the trouble of calling the airline and canceling it for you."
A knock on the door leading to his balcony interrupted her. Wilson stuck his head in. "I'm back from my conference. How did things go with—oh," he said, glimpsing a very angry Cameron. She stormed out of the office. House let her go, deciding it was better to let her cool off before explaining the inherent sense to his actions. He was only thinking of her. With him. Her and him.
Cameron stormed from House's office. She didn't think about where she was going. She just walked. And walked. And walked some more. Until she literally walked into Cuddy.
"Dr. Cameron," Cuddy said, starting to walk away, off to whatever meeting she had scheduled, but then she paused. "Are you okay?" she asked.
Cameron nodded, and then reconsidered and shook her head. Cuddy ushered her into a empty room and made her spill her beans. It wasn't hard. Cameron was itching to confess her problems with House to someone who would understand the complexities involved.
"What do you want?" Cuddy asked her.
Cameron shook her head. "I—I'm not sure. I wanted House to notice me and want me for so long that it seems impossible now that I have his attention."
"He just needed something to poke him into action, something to remind him not to take advantage of you," Cuddy suggested. Cameron nodded, taking it all in.
"But how do I keep his interest? I can't threaten to run off to LA every other month."
"Once he has you, he isn't the type to let go," Cuddy told her.
Cameron shook her head. "He left Stacey," she whispered.
"Stacey left him," Cuddy argued. "And in his mind, she betrayed him. He acts arrogant and self-confident but deep down inside is a scared little boy who thinks no one will like him if he turns out to be wrong or if he's not perfect."
"He can't see past his handicap," Cameron said, more to herself than to Cuddy.
"It's a risk you have to decide if you're willing to take. There's no mistake that he is a hard, demanding, and thoroughly irritating man. But you have to admit that there is an intensity of feeling and humanity underneath his cold shell, if you think you can coax it out of him." Cuddy eyed her. "You're the only one I can imagine putting up with him, that's one thing for sure."
"Really?" Cameron asked.
"You've always struck me as a masochist," Cuddy said. She looked at her watch, patted Cameron on the shoulder, wished her luck, and whisked off. Cameron watched as she went and wondered what in the name of anything and everything holy was she going to do.
She was right. Cameron was a masochist. She couldn't help but find the hardest way to do things, even falling in love.
Walking to the OR, she decided to see how Camille's surgery was going. Foreman stood in the gallery. Down below, Chase handed the surgeon the saw.
"Do you think it will work?" Cameron asked.
"Removing her hand or you being with House?" Foreman said, not bothering to take his eyes off the scene before them.
Cameron looked at him in surprise, though she should have been. She had been yelling loud enough in House's office. The whole floor probably heard her side of their argument and could guess at his side's.
"Either. Both," she said.
Foreman looked over at her. "I think it will," he said.
House sat in his chair, waiting for one of his underlings to tell him about Camille's surgery and listening to his Ipod. Beethoven's fifth rang in his ears, drowning out any distractions like the feel of Cameron's lips on his, or how soft her hair looked, or…
Someone tapped him on the shoulder. He reached up and took out one earphone.
"Camille is going to be okay," Cameron said. "With a prosthesis and some physical therapy she'll make a full recovery."
"And her kidneys?" House asked, not bothering to open his eyes.
"Not great, but not hopeless. We're monitoring her progress, but she appears to be getting better. She's off dialysis."
"Good." He waited to hear her walk away but it never came. He opened his eyes to see her still standing there.
"I want you to stay," he said, pausing to take a breath before he continued on, "with me," he finished.
She nodded. "I want to stay too. But I can't continue like this. Something needs to change."
He regarded her seriously. He had been so miserable the last few years of his life that he didn't know how to be anything else, but he knew he wanted her, wanted a chance to make her happy.
"I'm willing to chop off my arm if that's what you mean," he told her.
She smiled and laughed, sitting on the edge of his footstool. She reached out her hand and ran it down his arm. He was glad he had decided on long sleeves that day so she couldn't see the goose bumps that rose up at her touch. "I'd rather you wouldn't. I like your arm."
"Some other appendage then? I'd offer up my leg, but that doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice."
"I even like your leg. How about those high walls you put up to keep everyone out?"
"I've worked very hard on those walls," he said.
"Sometimes you have to give up something in order in order to save something else," Cameron reminded him, leaning in closer. He could smell her perfume and he reveled in the smooth feel of her palm as she cupped his cheek.
"Just for you," he said.
"Just for me," she answered, finally kissing him. This was so much better than the last time. This time she kissed him back. This time she sighed in pleasure when he ran his tongue over her teeth. This time she didn't pull away until they were both breathless. He reached up and grabbed her shoulder to steady them both.
"I'm still not a nice man," he said.
"I don't want to change you, House. I just want to see you for who you are." She ran her hand up and down his chest and he settled his arm around her, cradling her against him. It felt comfortable and right. And in about five minutes, his arm was going to fall asleep and he would have to throw her in the floor. But he decided to worry about that later.
"Whatever happened to Ned?" he asked, changing the subject. It was getting a bit serious around here. They would have plenty of time to talk later about all that.
"Neil," she corrected.
"He left for LA this morning. He said he hoped I joined him."
"That was it? He can't love you that much."
She laughed. "No, if he really loved me, he would have pleaded with me, called every Greg House in the phonebook, and called the airline to re-book the ticket you cancelled."
"What an amateur," he scoffed. After a pause, he continued, "You don't hate me for all of that, do you?" He didn't think she might since she had just kissed him into oblivion but it didn't hurt to check. He wanted to hear it out loud.
"Strangely enough, I love you for it. I want someone who will fight for me."
"This is your one and only chance to go. I'm not letting go after this," he warned her, squeezing her.
She clutched him tighter. "I don't want you to let go."
They lay like that for several more minutes until it more than House could stand. His arm prickled under her weight. "Okay, I'm letting go, but only in a physical sense."
Cameron laughed and sat up. He rubbed at his arm, trying to get the circulation flowing again.
"I need to go check in on our patient anyway. Meet me in exam room two later?" she asked with a smile. He loved her smile.
"I think I'm going to need my head checked out," she said with a smirk.
"Only if it's a full exam," he said.
"Oh it will be." She sashayed out of his office, leaving him there thanking any and every god he could think of for the divine luck that brought him Allison Cameron. She made him feel like a new man.
Camille left later in the day. With her vitals stable, they were transferring her to a rehab clinic closer to her home. House stood in the corner and watched as Cameron and Chase wheeled her downstairs to meet her parents. He didn't normally say much to his patients or their families when they left, but Mrs. Brown approached him.
"I love my husband," she told him. House just nodded. "I always have," she continued. "The other man was just a distraction. If anything it made me realize how much more I loved Rick."
"Right," he said skeptically, but then he glanced over at Cameron who stood at the desk chatting with Yolanda, and wondered how closely mirrored were the two women's situations. "And your daughter?"
"I love her too."
"Then you should talk to her," House suggested.
Mrs. Brown nodded. "I'm sure we'll have a lot to talk about here soon."
With a amputatee, there would be lots to talk about. She would have to earn her daughter's forgiveness first. That he knew from personal experience. But they might make it. Not everyone was like him. And with Cameron promising to "examine" him later, he was feeling unusually optimistic and pleased with the world.
Mrs. Brown joined her husband and her daughter, walking beside them as Mr. Brown wheeled Camille out to the car. House watched them go, and then joined Cameron at the nurses' station.
"I got patients that need seen," Yolanda said, wagging her finger at him as he came up. House shook his head.
"I've got a patient already," he told her.
"She just left," she retorted.
House looked knowingly at Cameron, at Allison. "Not her. In exam room two."
Yolanda narrowed her eyes and muttered an "alright then." House started to walk away, turning around to say, "Dr. Cameron, would you mind consulting?"
"With pleasure," she said with a smile, joining him.
"Make it quick!" Yolanda yelled after them. "I got a bloody diarrhea waiting when you're done."
'Probably will be,' House thought. This time anyway. But he planned on taking Allison home later and showing her just how much he appreciated her sticking around.