AN: Written for the Kickstarters challenge on the LJ community Houseficpens, using the prompt:

"Nobody ever said this was going to be easy," House said. "You wanted me. Next time be careful what you ask for."

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Cameron's mother loves to tell stories about how serious Allison was as a baby.

"Always looking," she says. "Always curious. Even before she could sit up on her own, she would be studying everyone, taking everything in."

Cameron just sighs and doesn't interrupt. She knows it is the role her family sees her in -- the wise one, the observer. Jamie is the athlete, Katie the comedian. Cameron was the brain, the professor, the one who had to know and see everything.

That curiosity, that ability to observe what was happening, was the one thing her husband relied on during his last few weeks, when he was too weak to go out.

"Tell me what it's like outside," Brad would say. "I thought I heard rain. Is it cold?"

"Have the leaves started to turn?"

"Are they selling cider at the farmer's market yet?"

"How does it taste?"

"Was there frost on the window today?"

"Have they started carving jack o'lanterns?"

During the last days, when he could no longer ask, Cameron described the sights, the sounds, the smells of the world beyond the walls of his room. She told herself that she could give him this -- give him this part of herself that sees more, that soaks up the world outside.

Even now, years after his funeral, she finds herself still recording the details around her, seeing the world for both of them.

She always thought she was good at noticing details, but when she starts working with House she begins to think she's been walking through life with blinders on.

If she notices that a person complaining of leg pain wears running shoes, he takes in the wear pattern on the sole and says that the guy just needs to break down and buy a pair of shoes designed for overpronators.

When Cameron notices a rash in addition to the wheezing of a patient diagnosed with a latex allergy -- but who swears she hasn't been near any latex -- she thinks she's found a new symptom. House merely glances at the woman through the open blinds in the exam room.

"Papaya," he says.

"Papaya?"

"Confirming the diagnosis. Good move." He begins to walk away and Cameron stops him.

"Papaya?"

"OK, three times is overkill." He shakes his head at her look of puzzlement. "She's got a tan, in February. In New Jersey. So I'm guessing a vacation someplace warm, eating an insane amount of tropical fruits."

"Like papaya ..." Cameron considers it then tries to recall the details from one of her old textbooks. "Which contains the enzyme papain, which is also part of latex production." She looks up at House.

"Tell her to stick to the mangoes and she'll be fine."

Cameron begins to study House, trying to see what he sees, the secrets that seem to reveal themselves only to him.

She learns how he takes his coffee, the rooms he uses when he's trying to avoid clinic duty and the halls he'll walk when he needs to stretch his leg.

She watches the way Dr. Wilson watches him, and begins to understand that studying the way House holds himself is the best way to judge how he's feeling. She sees how he walks in the mornings, compared to the afternoons and the evenings.

She finds herself paying more attention to everything, wondering what quirk he'll use the next time he wants to goad someone into a bet.

Now House is in the middle of a metaphor -- something about Hannibal and elephants -- during a discussion of how to fight off an infection in their latest patient when he walks out of the conference room. She wonders briefly if he expects them to follow him, but is pretty certain he doesn't.

It can be hard to tell, but he doesn't return to the room to yell at them to keep up, so Cameron assumes that they're fine.

She glances around the table to see what the others are doing. Chase pushes himself away from the table, crosses the room to the coffee maker and pours himself a cup.

Foreman is busy jotting down notes from their conversation. He took up the habit after the biopsy to make sure he doesn't forget anything. Although Cameron hasn't seen his short term memory issues interfere with his abilities, she also knows he doesn't want to be the person at fault if anything goes wrong.

She turns her attention back to Chase, watches him as he pours the coffee, but he doesn't return to his seat. Rather than picking up the paper and looking over the puzzles, he steps closer to the window and stares out between the blinds.

Whenever Cameron needs to think, she finds something to do, something to keep her hands occupied while her thoughts roam free. Foreman reads old case files. Chase just gets quiet.

Like now.

"If you want to talk it over..." she says, but Chase shakes his head.

"I'm fine."

Chase always says he's fine. He was "fine," when his father came to visit and "fine" when he was handed his suspension after the hearing involving Kayla. He never even told her about his father's death -- he hadn't told anyone for months. Cameron thinks it would do him good to talk about it. She asked him if he wanted to go out for a drink once he finally spoke up, but he shrugged off the invitation.

At least this time she knows what's happening. She and Foreman were both sitting at the table with Chase the day before when he opened an interoffice mail envelope to find an offer from House to extend Chase's fellowship for another two years.

"I thought he only offered three-year fellowships," she said.

"He does," Chase said. "Or he did."

He read over the three pages, then read them over again.

"Don't tell me you're actually thinking of signing up for another tour of duty in hell with House," Foreman said.

"Could do worse," Chase said. "Better the devil you know, right?"

Foreman took the papers from Chase's hand and read them over. "He's probably just pulling your chain," he said. "It's his idea of a joke. He'll wait until you sign another year-long lease on your apartment, then pull the offer."

Cameron didn't think this was something that House would joke about, but she didn't say anything.

Chase had the envelope in his hand this morning when House came in at a little after 9 o'clock. He stepped forward, blocking the way to the coffee maker. He held it out in front of him.

"Did you mean this?"

House took the envelope out of Chase's hand and pulled out the papers. He glanced at them, and gave a slight nod before handing them back over. "You have reason to doubt me?"

Chase looked down at the papers and shook his head. "I thought, maybe, after everything with Kayla ..."

"Why, you have another father out there who's going to die unexpectedly -- leaving you so upset you make another massive screwup?"

Chase frowned and crossed his arms across his chest, the papers crinkled between his fingers.

"Then I guess we can call what happened a one-time occurrence, right? Just a fluke?"

Chase nodded slightly and House stepped around him to step up to the coffee pot.

House poured his coffee and added sugar. He took two steps toward his office before Chase stopped him again.

"So if I sign on for another two years, do I get a pay raise?"

"Nope."

"Better hours?"

"Doubt it."

"My own parking space?"

"If you pay for it."

House walked around Chase again. He was at the door separating his office from the conference room when Chase spoke up again.

"So if I stay, it's going to be the same crappy pay and the same abuse?"

"Nobody ever said this was going to be easy," House said. "You wanted me. Next time be careful what you ask for."

Now Chase steps away from the window and back to the table. He pulls a pen from his pocket, and takes the papers out of the envelope. He hesitates for just a moment, then signs them.

"I can't believe you," Foreman says. "He treats you like dirt. Why do you want to spend more time around him?"

"Why didn't you take the partnership back in California when you had the chance?" Chase says and slides the papers back into the envelope. He seals it and puts it in the interoffice mail pile.

Cameron stares at it there. She isn't surprised Chase would agree to the extension, but she wouldn't have been surprised if he'd turned it down either.

She is a little surprised though House would offer it. For a moment, she wonders if there will be a similar envelope for her in about six months.

"I suppose you think I'm crazy too," Chase says and she turns toward him.

Cameron shakes her head. "No," she says. "Not crazy. I'm just curious."

"About what?"

She shrugs. "Everything."