Rating: strong R
Word Count: 3215
Summary: Bad Catholics who forget to pray and follow the rules don't go to hell. But they don't get to go to heaven either. Cameron doesn't believe in God but she's still stuck in the middle. And she's not alone. AU from 2.07 on. Cameron/Chase.
Author's Note: This is my first foray into the House fandom, so go easy on me. This little fic is rather bleak but I find Cameron to be rather bleak, so I guess it's fitting. And that's really all there is to say, so, please, do, read, review and enjoy! Thanks!
"…and it struck me then that I liked him because he looked, well, slutty. A boy who'd been around. A boy who couldn't remember if he was Catholic or not."
- The Rules of Attraction
The drunk kids, the Catholics
They're all about the same
They're waiting for someone
Hoping to be saved
- "Drunk Kid Catholic" Bright Eyes
"All this hate…it's toxic."
"Then stay away."
In retrospect, she probably should have because it's not the hate that's airborne. Rather, it's the apathy that gets you in the end.
He's too pretty for this to last for long. And she's too stubborn for this to be anything short and brief and breezy.
The Greeks scribble words like doomed and Roman empires fall apart and Shakespeare likes the phrase star-crossed because there's a remote kind of beauty in that, and Cameron, she of all people understands that.
He's what they call beautiful and she's what they refer to as stupid and there's no way this can end without a dramatic fanfare at the end.
She'll tell you. She doesn't really care.
The radio speaks of traffic jams and trucks that jack-knife on the turnpike and Cameron turns the car off with a flick of the wrist and a shuddering stop and rain has led to hydroplaning and traffic might be at a standstill.
The parking lot is wet and her shoes are strangely quiet. She makes her way inside and everything looks the same.
There should be some kind of comfort in that. There isn't.
She stares at the whiteboard before her, a scramble of symptoms written in black, reading but not remembering and she can hear the footsteps and she knows he's there behind her. Chase. Dr. Chase. Dr. Robert Chase.
She doesn't say hello and out of the corner of her eye she sees him nod a silent greeting in her direction.
She knew he had a reputation, she knew that the women swooned and the nurses cooed and even the patients ran the risk of elevated heart rate just from his simple presence, but really, she thought that he'd be small and she thought he'd be mildly ineffective in bed. And the reasoning is rather simple. It's the ties and the shirts and the fact he's from Australia and his voice sounds a bit like music and he has better hair than her, Cuddy and Stacy combined, and that just has to add up to an effeminate sum and he has to be lacking somewhere because no one is perfect and there is always a flaw and if he gets to be the great doctor with the great familial legacy and the great hair he doesn't get to be great in bed, too.
But he does, and he is. And it was then: mid-orgasm, mid-moan, mid-crystal meth trip she decided that life is anything but fair.
In the room the doctors come and go, talking of vaccines for polio.
They crack a case, and a patient lives this week.
They fuck it up, misdiagnose, and a patient dies next week.
Cameron thinks of teacups and the ocean and the word "futility" comes to mind.
The day ends before the sun sets and the humidity settles into something bearable and the puddles still stand on the pavement and the parking garage is still dark and muggy.
Chase follows her to her car and she'd ask him what he was doing, but she already kind of knows and her suspicions are confirmed when his hand fits itself around his waist – dark alcove, corner parking spot – and he's dragging her body to his.
He kisses her. And they are in the parking lot. And it's kind of sort of sordid and should definitely not be happening (not after last time and not after the looks everyone gave them, together or apart) but he's kissing her and she is kissing him back.
His body presses harder into hers and she hopes the security cameras aren't catching a single second of this because she doubts she will ever want to be reminded of this moment, regardless of how good it feels and how almost right it seems.
They kiss and there's the sound of slamming car doors and the smell of car exhaust hangs thickly on the air.
They say she's always nice (and she doubts they mean it in a good way) but she's pretty sure that nice girls don't make out with coworkers in dirty parking lots in a dirty kind of dusk for no other reason than that he's there and she's there and pent-up energy has to be spent at some point.
If Cameron is a nice girl, then thinking in euphemisms makes all the more sense.
He breathes "your house?" against her cheek and for a second it means nothing and it's just a jumble and she only hears 'house' and doesn't know what he means, but she's nodding all the same, keys in her hand, one last loud kiss and she's starting up her car.
Halfway home the weight of his words sink in, the fact that she agreed, and she finds it easier, swinging into the drive, to simply just not care.
It's not like the last time.
For one thing there is no pounding, decibel-shaking music to distract her away from him. For another there are no drugs and there are no dilated pupils and no life-shattering news to blame her actions on.
It's different from the last time and will be different from the next. It's a kind of lack of stasis and she should be used to that by now.
They make it to her bed, and she remembers this, the back of her legs hitting the bed frame and the slow-motion topple over and onto the mattress; the resulting protesting shriek of the springs and the feel of his hard cock against her leg. She remembers this.
His hand skids down her thigh, pants hanging off one of her ankles, and it almost feels better than last time. The word 'consequences' rings through her head, alarm bell-style, but she ignores it and her teeth latch onto his collarbone. He moans. And she likes it.
His pants and boxers slide down his pale hips and they lie across the bed, her feet hanging down, not touching the floor. He holds her steady, panting slightly, and as he enters sharply, no prelude, she thinks this isn't like the last time because this time, this time they both need this.
She gasps loudly.
He speaks the word 'fuck' as a continuous mantra, the sound getting lost in the thickness of his accent and caught on the crest of moans and heady pants, lending the word an almost lyrical quality.
Cameron just tries to breathe.
Her first-time was with a frat boy she has forgotten in a bed with dull sheets and the fuzzy taste of cheap beer on their lips; Dave Matthews Band played too loud on the stereo, making the walls feel as though they were close to caving in.
Her second time was with her dead husband, back when he was alive and well and kind of drunk, but so was she, and intimacy just works all the better when chemicals other than hormones and fear are involved.
They say that the third time is the charm, and if that bromide is indeed correct, then Chase is the one and just the thought is enough to make her stomach churn.
Friday night and the green sign on the highway announces the arrival of Atlantic City in a handful of miles and her knuckles are white, fingers wrapped around the purse in her lap.
They left the hospital at five, bored and tired and kind of dangerous, each returning to their respective homes. Six o'clock rolled around and Chase was at her door and it wasn't like last time or the time before, it was something else, maybe desperate (always desperate), and he asked if she wanted to get out of town for the weekend. If that wasn't a blatant invitation for sex, she's not sure what is. But she said yes and she blames his voice and she blames his eyes and she blames the fact that sometimes being near him is enough to make her hopeless and something akin to stupid.
She didn't take his hand as they walked the steps down to his car. She walked one step behind him and told herself that she's a smart girl and she's a doctor and she's accomplished and there's nothing wrong with living a little.
She gets that those were all lies as he opens the door to a hotel room and she walks inside.
A lone window opens up on a concrete wall and she laughs a little, the sound getting caught in her throat, because, really, only they would be given a view like this. She wrenches the curtains shut and walks away.
He tastes like expensive bourbon and she is almost a little surprised. She hides it with a sharp bite to his lip and the copper blends nicely with the booze.
She's pretty sure she married him because she knew the life sentence only applied to one of them.
She got her feet wet in the marriage pond, she got to experience marital bliss but she knew there was that escape at the end of the road. That eventually she would go back to Miss instead of Mrs. and no one could think the less of her because her husband died and there were no irreconcilable differences or divorce courts to sully what they had.
That's not nostalgia and loss pulling at her heartstrings; it's a gut-wrenching sense of guilt.
If she's learned anything, she's learned two. Nothing is as it seems and if that rule is true, then something deeper is buried in the simple saying.
Those aren't the hiccups. It's more like some stage or the other of previously undetected esophageal cancer. You're not pregnant; you're carrying a tumor the size of Charlie Brown's great pumpkin. It's not old age; it's dementia.
Contrary to what they say, you're not really living. You're kind of actually dying.
The city glows below them and she wonders why they're here. Las Vegas.
"Want to get out of here?" he had said, and she had laughed, because, really, it doesn't get more clichéd than this. She didn't think he meant they would fly across the country because fucking in the familiar is too much for either of the two to handle very well even though they'd never confess it out loud.
She remembers his hand on her elbow in the airport, the strange impatience of waiting for the plane to roll across the runway, hot tarmac and glaring sun. And she had known. The entire time she had known that all she had to do was rise, stand, grab her small bag and tell him no. She can't do this anymore. This isn't her. It isn't right. It's all a lie.
She buckled her seatbelt and joked about sitting next to the emergency exit and that even here, 10,000 feet above the ground, lives were somehow still in their hands. He didn't laugh.
She stares at the city down below, all neon lights and miniscule, moving people. Twenty-eight stories above the blaring traffic and the boozed up gamblers and the tacky hookers, and it all looks so tiny and it all looks so far away.
Fingers grip her hips, too tightly, uncomfortably and he breathes into her hair. Her own clutch the windowsill before her and she watches the lights dance before her, out on the Strip.
Her bends her over slightly, her ass flush against his groin and they both moan at the contact. Her grip on the sill tightens as his fingers dig in deeper, tense on her hipbones. Her cheek rests against the hot glass pane of the window and she shudders as he undresses her.
He fucks her from behind, her breath fogging up the window and he comes with her last name hanging off his tongue.
As she comes she realizes she can't see a single thing, not a thing, but a heavy fog upon the glass and the angry smear of light and color.
She walks out of the bathroom to find him sprawled across the bed, halfway between sitting up and lying down, legs stretched long and languid. She walks out of the bathroom to find him on a half-made bed, stroking his cock, hair in his eyes, barely audible TV illuminating the room and she hates herself because her mouth is dry and she aches in an all too familiar way and his eyes never cross the room to her.
She sucks him off and the weatherman warns of increasing temperatures and forest fires to the west. He tastes like bad decisions and when he kisses her she hopes he thinks the same.
He never asks her to call him by his first name. So she never does.
The newspapers scream of divorcing celebrities and Middle Eastern schemers with a chip on their collective shoulder the size and shape of Israel.
He thinks she's in love with House.
They think she's in love with Chase.
Her parents think she's still enamored with her dead husband. But widows aren't always old and they don't always wear black and sometimes they're sorry for all the wrong reasons. She knows this.
Lonely late night television advertises cock-tease call girls and phone sex lines stocked with barely legal whores.
Click of the remote and Cameron thinks they all have it wrong, and really, she's just out of love.
She makes coffee and Foreman watches and she'd ask if this was a test of some sorts but she doesn't because she knows it's not and it's not even a very clever thing to say.
She pours him a cup and hands it to him and she wonders if she has always had this much difficulty with eye contact or if it's a new development or maybe she's simply noticing it now.
"Do you love him?"
"You didn't even ask me who."
"It doesn't matter. The answer's still the same."
Maybe this is why eye contact hurts so much.
The coffee burns as it slips down and she is almost positive it tastes the same as battery acid.
Billboards announce the best new cell phone plan and flyers flap about, begging the return of Fido and Fluffy and Frankie.
She calls him and he comes over, and as she opens the door, she thinks, yes, this is like the first time. This is like the first time because this is a mistake and they both know it.
She's fucked up too many times and Chase is just the most recent addition to the list.
She doesn't believe in God and she doesn't believe in religion so really there's no place for her to fall from here and there's no final judgment for her to fear. Chase has Catholic schoolboy tattooed on his past and the sign of the cross wouldn't be an out of character mannerism for him.
She wonders what a man who believes in faith is doing with a woman like her. Then she realizes, or maybe just recalls, that what they're doing is really nothing, or so they say, and buying into that is easier than shaping it all into something real.
He presses her against the wall, and it's like the first all over again: it's the first time in reverse and it's her head colliding with the wall and it's his hands holding her back and holding her in place.
They fuck and they aren't in love and she doesn't love House, she didn't love her husband; she gets it: she just doesn't love. She's maybe unfeeling, maybe glacial at the center of it all: the good and the bad, the life and the death.
Or maybe that's too easy and too wrong of an explanation.
She's in her own purgatory, a self-built prison she has no desire to escape because that would mean change and that would mean feeling and it's just easier to watch it all slip away and move around while she charges forward, flat-lining, going nowhere but across.
He fucks her against the wall and it's like the first and is definitely the last.
He pulls on his pants and the look on his face announces the ending. And it would of course end like this: full circle and kind of hollowed out and empty. He's what you call untouchable and she's really just a mess.
"Would it be better if I said I loved you?"
"Would you mean it?"
"Then don't bother."
"Can we just go back to the part where we lie and fuck and pretend that none of this matters?"
"I don't really think we were ever there, Cameron."
She wonders what Allison would sound like falling from his lips. She's not going to ask him to say it. And he's never going to offer.
The history books talk of Cold War days, of a bloodless clash between one ideology and the next. They talk of casualties racked up, never on either side, but proxies they used as shields, as self-defense and they write of arms races and nuclear defense and missiles and wars that never came. They use words like stalemate and they mean it because really that's all it ever was.
And it only ever ended when the walls came tumbling down. It only ever ended when one side recognized defeat and caved and the world was whole once again.
Cameron was never very good at history. And as Chase walks away, unreadable and maybe kind of empty, she is reminded that she was never very good at common sense either.
And she'll smile a little, that same sad smile she uses whether you're joking or not, if it's funny or ironic or the saddest thing imaginable. But she'll smile and she'll think that of course he was right, of course things get complicated and of course, this hurts like hell.
The view out the window is frighteningly clear and the trees dance on a wind she can see but can't feel and she wants to. She wants to but she can't and she's afraid and she's stupid and he was right, and, really, he's probably every kind of right she's standing here missing.
The neighbors speak of love and war and babies born and old men buried. Chase starts his car and drives away. Cameron brushes her teeth and says good night and as David Letterman cracks a joke, she slowly starts to cry.