"Congratulations, Dr. Chase." Foreman held up his beer in a toast. Cameron and Chase mirrored the gesture in kind as they all sat together at a local bar.
"So now you have to deal with House forever. At this point I don't know who is crazier. You both deserve each other." Foreman joked.
Cameron was in complete agreement. "You will be at this point same time next year. I know I now have something to actually work for."
"I'm not sure House is someone I can work under forever. I'm keeping an open mind, but as of right now I see myself moving in a different direction." Foreman always knew this was a short term opportunity.
"House knows that." Chase remarked. Cameron and Foreman looked at him surprised by that observation. "He also knows you don't like him very much."
"I don't hate him. I'm just not afraid of him and his complete lack of respect for the rules. If he sees my persistence as hate, so be it." Foreman clarified.
"I didn't say hate," specified Chase. "He knows as a person you don't like him very much. As a doctor, he thinks you are in awe of him. He thinks that of everyone though."
As Foreman was trying to come up for an answer, Cameron decided to change the subject. "So, if you had to write the review, how would you rate the great Dr. House?" Cameron asked with a little devilish grin on her face.
Foreman's face lit up. Now this was a question he would answer with delight. "If I were writing his review, I would comment extensively on his reckless propensity for short cuts. His impatience will bite him one day."
"How do you know it hasn't already?" Chase smiled at the notion.
"Good point." Foreman believed that statement. "It did get him kicked out of Hopkins. It must have happened again sometime in his medical career. I just don't understand his luck. How is it that he has been able to have such a blatant disregard for boundaries and procedures and not be fired or ruined? I'm sure that has come up on his performance reviews countless times. How is it that not only does he manage to still have a career, but a brilliant one? He even got the board to bounce a huge benefactor in Vogler rather than lose his job. Is he that good?"
"Yes." Cameron always believed the genius of her mentor. "Although, you have to admit his luck is amazing. You often wonder if it will run out one day. Law of averages if anything."
Chase had an easy answer for Cameron. "It isn't luck. He's a strategist. He knows exactly what to do to ensure his survival. You think he puts up with Cuddy for fun? Okay, he does, but he also knows it is to his benefit to have her around. As long as she is there to protect him, he can do what he wants. They work each other brilliantly."
"You weren't thinking that when you went to Vogler." Foreman threw that back at Chase.
Cameron was surprised to hear that come from Foreman. She looked at Chase who didn't even flinch by the comment.
"I was an idiot." Chase responded in a humble tone. "I doubted House once and paid dearly for it. I will never do that again. Time and time again, he has always come through."
"Even so, that doesn't excuse his disregard for rules. His obsessive nature to solve a problem at all costs is dangerous to the patients, the hospital, and us." Foreman argued.
"Ah, but that is exactly why we are here." Cameron countered. "He built a team that could throw those roadblocks in front of him so he wouldn't go too far. We are the perfect compliment to his weaknesses."
Foreman still wasn't buying it. "In the end he always gets the final word. He can't be controlled or stopped once he is convinced he is right, so we only work to a point. His contempt for patients and their pain is insulting."
"That's not true." Cameron couldn't disagree more. "He cares about patient's pain very much. I have seen him. When someone is in pain, he actually empathizes. He knows pain better than anyone. He won't let pain though stop him from getting to the bottom of the disease though. He thinks he is serving the greater good by fixing the problem."
"You mean unraveling the mystery. He doesn't treat patients or their families with any respect. He doesn't want to take time to stop to tell people what he is doing and why he is doing it. He would avoid so much more conflict and strife if he just took that time." Foreman didn't understand House's mindset.
"Yeah, but that is not who he is," jumped in Chase. "You can't force someone who has a lifetime of underdeveloped social skills to suddenly play nice. He has likely been alienated from people his entire life because he was different. We know he was never in one place growing up. He got into medicine because of the science, not the people. I suspect that he never even wanted to be a doctor, but found out at some point he was actually good at it."
Cameron and Foreman looked at Chase like he was on something. Foreman disagreed. "House, not knowing what he wanted? I don't buy it."
Cameron had another question. "What about his inability to learn from his own mistakes? He seemed to do a great job blasting us on that."
Chase had a quick answer. "He blasted us for not knowing how to capitalize on each other's strengths when our weaknesses were exposed. You have to give him credit. He knows his limitations and does what he can to get other people to stretch where he can't. Of course in pursuit of pushing limits he can be abusive, degrading, mean, manipulative, and just plain crazy, but he gets results. I'm still surprised by all he can pull off."
Cameron and Foreman paused to think about Chase's comment. They had to admit, he was right.
"So then, do you think he respects us or needs us?" Cameron continued. "I often have trouble understanding his behavior in that regard. He's so damn inconsistent."
"He doesn't respect anybody." Foreman answered. "On that alone, he needs us. Even House knows that a good doctor can't go it alone, even if he prefers it."
Cameron and Foreman then looked at Chase who remained quiet. "What?" Chase felt like he was being accused of something.
"Where's the psychoanalysis? You surely have to have that one figured out." Foreman asked.
"He respects us and needs us. I'm leaving it at that."
"Chicken." Cameron teased. They all took a collective pause, realizing that deconstructing House was an exhausting and mind-numbing effort.
"How can anyone respect anybody if they have no respect for themselves?" Cameron was obviously still thinking about the point.
"I don't want to go there." Foreman said. "If House wants to destroy himself, so be it, just as long as he doesn't kill a patient doing it."
"Shouldn't we be trying to prevent that though?" Cameron was very concerned. "Would you mention anything in his review about his vicodin use? We know that it has likely progressed from pain management to addiction, yet no one seems to make it an issue with him. Do you think he would make good decisions without it?"
Foreman chose to avoid intense speculation. "That's a fine line that luckily we haven't had to cross yet. I would never put that on a review though unless a patient was harmed and we have no evidence of that. I think we are going to have to address it eventually, or at least Chase here. Hopefully I'll be gone by the time he crashes."
"House knows that we are watching the signs." Chase knew the mentality of his boss. "Maybe that is one reason why he gave all the negative comments about not being observant. He wants us to know when he has gone too far without having to tell us."
"Wow that is scary. Do you think any one of us will end up like House?" Cameron asked.
"What a brilliant doctor or miserable and alone?" Chase needed clarification.
"Both. Maybe you can't be one without the other."
"Of course you can be a brilliant doctor without being a mild sociopath." Foreman noted. "All geniuses have their eccentricities, but they aren't like that."
"Which one of us is most like him now?" Cameron showed her wicked smile again.
They all paused for a long moment to ponder that question. "None of us are close," Foreman replied. "I have respect for the rules, you have a high moral standard, and Chase has a superior beside manner. House has none of that."
"I said most like," clarified Cameron, "not exactly like. Who follows his patterned thinking, his ability to manipulate, and his reckless pursuit of the truth? Who knows how to work people to get what they need without getting fired?"
They all looked at each other again. Despite the plausibility of the question, they were pursuing it anyway because it was a curious notion.
"Chase. If you use that criteria, he is the closest." Foreman declared confidently.
"How so?" Chase was surprised and not convinced. "When it comes to being stubborn and not backing down, you and him are most alike."
Foreman clarified his answer. "House has the ability to get into people's heads. So do you, even though you are much quieter and far less arrogant about it. House has the ability to think outside of what is likely and quickly analyze all the variables no matter how remote. So do you and often haven't argued with him about a diagnosis because you believed he was right. House is able to bully people into getting what he wants. You don't bully, but you do manipulate. Your nature is far more affable though as you get to people through kindness and sympathy. When it comes to a reckless pursuit of the truth though, Cameron has you beat there."
"Me?" It was Cameron's turn to be surprised. "How do you think that?"
"I might be in House's face all the time and match his arrogance, but face it, out of all of us, you are the most stubborn and won't stop at anything if you believe the cause is right. Don't worry though, it works to your advantage here."
Cameron tried to speak but stumbled on her words. "You brought it up, not me." Foreman said defending his answer. Chase just sat there smiling.
"Okay, fine. What else haven't we covered?" Cameron asked.
Foreman took a few seconds to think about it. "I don't know, but I don't ever want to be Cuddy. If I had to do House's review or be responsible for his antics on a permanent basis, I would be completely insane in no time. Hell, I went insane after 4 weeks."
"Funny, because I always pictured you having Cuddy's job one day." Chase told Foreman. "You have everything it takes to be a great hospital administrator. Let's hope House is dead before you get that job."
"Who do you think I'm likely to end up like?" Cameron asked Chase. "Since you decided to go down that slippery slope, so far we have you most like House, and Foreman will be the next Cuddy, so I am…"
"Huh." Cameron processed that response. A smile drew on her face. "I actually like that. You see a lot of Dr. Wilson in me?"
Chase and Foreman both chimed in together. "Yes."
"Well, we have to survive our time with Dr. House first." Cameron didn't want to get too far ahead of herself.
"Isn't it strange that House doesn't want us to be exactly like him, even though he is trying to groom us to think exactly like him." Chase wore an antagonistic smile. "Kind of fascinating isn't it, being part of that double standard."
"I need another beer to face that prospect. Anyone else want one?" Cameron grabbed for some money in her pocket.
"Yeah, I'll have another." Chase went for his wallet.
Foreman finished his beer and got up to leave. "Sorry to bail on this little celebration, but I have a date tonight. Thanks for the completely disturbing conversation."
"Later." Cameron and Chase said in unison as Foreman left the bar.
Cameron got the two beers and came back to the table. "In the mood for a little pool? I'll let you break." Chase challenged her with a big smile.
Cameron smiled. "Why yes, but you know I suck at it. You just like winning."
Cameron and Chase headed over to the pool table with beers in hand. He put the quarters in the slots, retrieved the balls then lined them up in a perfect triangle on the table. Cameron took her breaking shot. It was weak and not one ball fell into a pocket.
"My turn." Chase grinned knowing his competitive advantage. "This looks like it will be easy."
As Cameron watched Chase sink one ball after another, she got the urge to bring up something that had been troubling her for days.
"Your mother was an alcoholic." Cameron told Chase as he lined up to take the next shot.
He stood up, stared at her blankly and said nothing.
"I thought about it and looked at all the signs. You have all the symptoms of an adult child of an alcoholic. I know it couldn't be your father since he was such a skilled doctor."
Chase bent down and resumed lining up his shot with the pool cue and stick. "I'm surprised it took you this long to figure it out." He sunk another ball in the right corner pocket and then calmly walked over to Cameron. "Especially since your dad was a drunk too."
Cameron's sunken eyes popped out of her head and her mouth hung wide open. "How did you…?"
"Shh," he said as he put his fingers to her lips. "Remember one of the classic signs is that we don't like to talk about it."
Chase continued his turn at the pool table while Cameron stood there stunned. House was right. He did know way more than she thought.