"I can't accept you in your new role." Cameron blurted out as she saw Chase alone in the conference room.
"I can't accept me in my new role either," replied Chase. "What are we going to do about it?" Then he flashed a smile unable to keep up the serious facade.
"I'm not kidding around Chase," said Cameron.
"It will get better with time. Adjustment is hard." Cameron flashed him a scolding glare. "Okay, no more joking." he replied ready to take her seriously.
"At this point, I should probably cut my losses and move on," she said with hopeless resignation.
"Is that what you really want?" asked Chase.
"No, but that is what House wants."
"How do you know that?"
"He told me."
Chase looked at her very skeptically. She wasn't telling the entire story.
"Okay, he told me in so many words after I ticked him off. I don't know where my attitude comes from sometimes. I still don't know when to bite my tongue. I have never seen him that mad."
"He didn't mean it," replied Chase.
"Oh, he meant it. He's probably right. Maybe I'm just not ready for the huge responsibilities that we have to face now."
"That is a bunch of crap," countered Chase not buying into her "woe is me" routine. "You aren't afraid of responsibility. You are afraid of standing up to House."
"I stand up to him all the time," replied Cameron.
"No, what you do is have hissy fits over his lack of morals and complain to the point where he either humors you or avoids you so you will shut up. Have you ever really gotten what you wanted by doing that?"
"He needs to know when something he is doing is wrong, especially ethically."
"He doesn't want an ethics lesson. He knows the difference between right and wrong and decides he doesn't give a damn. Sure, we do need to let him know, often in an arrogant way, when he is going too far but once he gets the point and chooses not to listen we need to move on."
"I still don't see how my objections are hurting my career," Cameron replied unwilling to back down. "Someone needs to stand up to doctors with God complexes. He'll end up killing someone if I don't stand up for the welfare of the patient."
"I would agree with that, if we were actually talking about patients," Chase argued. "Most of your comments actually get in the way of the welfare of the patient. How about when Foreman stole your paper? What did you think was going to happen by complaining about it to everyone, especially in front of patients? You think House was going to feel sorry for you and fix things? No, all you were doing was pissing him off, and many of us around you. Your protests weren't going to change what happened, and they were making you look emotionally unstable. How was that helping the patient?"
"I don't know why you defend him," Cameron snapped back. "For over two years he has done nothing but knock you down and make you feel completely worthless. He has everyone in this hospital convinced that you are about the worst doctor that had ever lived. You are selling out because he gave you a promotion."
"Throw it back at me. I'm the bad guy now. I personally have ruined your career." Chase replied defensively. Then he stopped for just a second to talk in a slightly calmer tone. He knew being belligerent with Cameron was a no win situation. "I'm not sure why everyone thinks that I walked into this so called promotion. I'll admit, this wasn't on my career plan, but then again, I never had a career plan. I have learned to take advantage of opportunities that are in front of me whether I expect them or not. I don't defend House, I just often agree with him and I have always done that. It doesn't matter what I say though because he still makes me look like the worst doctor that ever lived. This new job changes nothing as far as I'm concerned."
"I'm sorry, you are right." Cameron said backing down. She stopped to choose her next words carefully. The conversation was getting a little antagonistic and she wanted some useful information out of this talk. "Let's be hypothetical. If you were my boss, what would you tell me to do to turn things around?"
"Oh, I'm not going there," replied Chase. "The last thing I need is you jumping down my throat at the slightest critical comment, constructive though it might be."
"I promise, I'll keep my mouth shut and listen to what you have to say." Cameron pleaded.
"I don't believe you can do that."
"Please, I'll be an adult."
Chase looked at her carefully. He had no reason to believe she was lying, but he still had doubts about her self control.
"Okay, I can't believe I'm agreeing to this." Chase looked down trying to figure out where to start. "You will never have respect if you still faithfully answer House's messages, do his scheduling and handle his mail. You are a highly skilled doctor, not his secretary. He has been waiting almost two years for you to tell him that. As long as you play into his sexist stereotypes, you will not get the opportunities you think you deserve."
"House is a sexist jerk." Cameron quickly replied.
"All doctors are sexist jerks. Even Cuddy plays that card because she has to. You have to accept such realities and know how to play them or you will never make it in medicine."
Cameron gritted her teeth, offended by the mentality of sexism in the medical profession. Still, she promised Chase she would hold back. "Point taken, go ahead," she stated calmly.
"How long do you plan on being a doctor where you actually treat patients?" Chase asked.
"Forever. I didn't work this hard not to and working in a lab all the time would drive me insane." replied Cameron.
"Then you need to learn to control your emotional reactions. Personally I think you have gotten way better with that since you got here, but you need to know when your emotions are clouding your judgment. Patients and their families respect doctors that can show empathy, but they get a little freaked out by emotional train wrecks. They need to know the doctor is in control."
Cameron stayed silent, being true to her word.
"Okay, so far so good," said Chase taking Cameron's silence as a good sign. "You are jeopardizing so far what has been a brilliant and focused career by not accepting the primary House diagnostics principle. Cure the patient. Do everything in your power to make sure that happens. Actually, he cares more about the disease than the patient, but you do score points for not killing someone. He doesn't even care if you make mistakes in the process. You just need to do everything you can to reach that goal, even if it means stretching yourself."
"Yes and where I can't stretch, that is where my team comes in. He covered that well in my last review."
"He may have covered it, but he doesn't think you believe it. I don't think you do either just by the roadblocks you put up all the time. Until you jump in and change that perception, you will always be weak in his mind."
"Changing perception is not easy." Cameron observed.
"Trust me, I know. Perception in our group is especially hard when you, me and Foreman spend too much time trying to tell whether House is using his cruel and erratic antics as a way to teach us or for his own personal amusement."
"You got that one right," Cameron replied jadedly.
Chase continued. "I would be remiss if I didn't point out your exceptional qualities. After all, I'm not one to break spirits like House. You are a brilliant doctor and your abilities in diagnosis are outstanding. When you aren't judging them, the patients and their families like you and feel comfortable around you. I personally think that you considering other options would be a great loss to this team, but I also don't want to see you hold yourself back. Working for House longer term may not be the career move you dream of. There are no high honors, praise, glory or achievement as long as he is your boss."
Cameron sat down, taking some time to absorb the comments. Despite all that was said, there was still one thing that was missing. "Chase, do you find your career personally fulfilling?" she asked.
"Really? You really believe that your career is offering everything you need?"
"Until something better or different comes along, yes, this is all I need."
"I thought that being a doctor, a highly prominent and well respected doctor, was all I needed. It was everything to me and I worked so hard to get where I am now. Now that I've gone this far, it all feels so empty. Probably because all I ever hear is how everybody lies and see how so many people are deceptive to each other. It all makes me sick."
"House thinks your greatest weakness is your clouded view of the human condition," Chase commented. "He so wants to put a major kink into that view. There is good out there, but the reality is that humanity is cruel. Being a doctor exposes you more to that reality than any other profession. You can't change human nature no matter how hard you try. The harder you do try the more disappointment you are setting yourself up for."
"How can you live accepting that?" asked Cameron. "Having that cynical view of humanity would consume me."
"Having a rose colored view is already consuming you," replied Chase. "You need to find your balance. That is called life."
Cameron took a deep breath in utter frustration. She didn't know what to think. "I'm not sure I'll ever find happiness."
"Happiness, that is a different story." Chase said with raised eyebrows. "You asked about fulfillment. Just about everyone you work with is very fulfilled with their careers." Then he looked at her straight in the eye. "None of us are happy."
Chase then walked away, where a stunned Cameron stood alone to grasp that notion.
"So Estelle is leaving today," Foreman asked Chase as he saw him standing in the clinic lobby.
"Yes," replied Chase. "Everything looks good post op and for once the medicines seem to be working. She even admits that she has less pain now than she ever did."
"Physical pain, how is her emotional state?" Foreman asked with concern.
"Today seems better. She was deeply depressed the last few days, but the psychologist has been working on positive thinking exercises. They finally seem to be helping."
"Is her son going with her in the ambulance?"
"No," replied Chase, "He is already at the center getting things ready there. There will be a good amount of family there to welcome her when she arrives.
"I'm going to stop by right now then and wish her luck." Foreman said.
"Tell her I'll be there in a half hour to take her down to the ambulance." Chase replied.
Foreman nodded and started heading toward the elevator. After a few steps he paused, turned around, and said to Chase, "Despite all that will happen, she will never forget her gratitude for what you did for her."
Chase gave a slight look of appreciation to Foreman as he headed back toward the elevator.
Chase arrived in Estelle's room a half hour later delivering on his promise to take her downstairs. The nurses already had her in the wheelchair with all items packed. There she sat with a smile on her face.
"It looks like you are doing much better today," Chase told Estelle. "You ready now?"
"Yes, I'm more than ready. I want to get started." Estelle optimistically replied.
"I'm sure you are really glad to be leaving here," Chase told Estelle as he started to wheel her down the hall. "This place gets on everyone's nerves after a few weeks."
"Yes, I never knew how much I missed my family," Estelle replied. "I talked to my sister last night. She assured me that everything would be in its perfect place by the time I got there. She was always so good to me. I don't know why I didn't talk to her more often."
"Distance has a way of keeping you away from those that care. In times of crisis though, you learn quickly who you can count on, no matter how far away." Chase observed.
"I'll have to consider that to be a fact then, since you know a lot about distance," replied Estelle. "I looked up Australia on the map. It is on the exact opposite side of the world. How did you end up here?"
"I wonder myself," Chase replied.
They arrived at the entrance where the ambulance was waiting for them. Chase turned toward Estelle and looked at her with intense sincerity. "I wish you nothing but the best," he said.
"I have never met anybody that has cared about my welfare so much," Estelle said emotionally. "I'm not sure why God finally sent you now. I could have used you years ago."
Chase accepted her comments with a small smile. "I have to admit, I question God's timing quite a bit myself."
"Thank you Dr. Chase. I'm very grateful."
Chase gave Estelle an assuring glance as they loaded her into the ambulance. He turned around and started walking back through the hospital corridor. He had to admit, that bee sting was likely the best thing that ever happened to her.
"Chase!" a voice rang loudly from the other end of the hallway.
He looked over to see House limping along carrying two files.
"Patient gone?" House asked.
"Yep, she's officially discharged."
"Great, we have two new cases. You get this one." He handed Chase the file.
"An old executive that gave us some money," House explained. "Cuddy is personally overseeing his care so don't screw up. It looks rather routine and boring, your type of case."
"You said two cases." Chase inquired.
"This one is mine," House said as he held up the file. "Gorgeous young blonde woman with a bad tummy ache. She gets to tell Dr. House where it hurts. Good luck with the old guy's prostate. If you need help, ask Cameron."
As House left Chase alone in the hall holding the file of his new case, Chase let a small smile slip. Things were finally getting back to normal.
Thank you so much for taking your time to read and send comments for both this story and A House Assessment. The reactions have been wonderful. I had no idea that a simple idea about performance reviews would go this far. The things we can come up with waiting for the new season to begin.
Any future sequels will likely involve Cameron resolving her career issues, so we will see what comes of that.
Thanks again everybody! This has been a great experience.