Ch 1

House had no problem letting her waltz right out his door. She took the problem from him. The one he alone had created and made it her own. She knew that someone would have to go. She knew that the second after he walked on the stage, and so did he. House wanted desperately to believe that he could find another way to get them all out of danger, to make sure that they all kept their jobs. But even as he was telling himself he could and would find a way, he knew he couldn't and wouldn't.

He had told her before that he wouldn't crush her. House had meant that. He never had any intention of letting her go. He wanted Chase gone, not Cameron. Chase had betrayed him; and at the same time, House still couldn't help but respect the younger doctor at least a small bit. Chase knew his job was in danger. He knew that when it was time to choose who left; he would be leaving without hesitation. Chase knew that House would never let a brilliant doctor like Foreman go. And even more, he knew that his boss would never entertain the idea of letting Cameron go. So, he did what he had to do to keep his job. And House could respect that, but he certainly didn't condone it.

When House opened his door and saw Cameron there, he knew she was leaving. He didn't even need her to tell him. He knew it. He could see it in her eyes. And he knew what she was asking. She wanted him to ask her to stay, to tell her that he would find another way, to tell her that he would have never gotten rid of her. And House wanted to tell her all of that. He wanted to remind her that he said he wouldn't crush her, but in the moment she was standing in front of him, he knew he had. He knew telling her those things would more than likely make it all worse.

Cameron stood there with her arm stretched out, wanting House to shake her hand. He could see tears rolling down her face and he wanted nothing more than to reach out and take her hand firmly in his own, but something stopped him. He didn't know what it was, but it was definitely there. Unable to meet her eye, he watched with his peripheral vision as she slowly pulled her arm back and whispered goodbye.

The second he heard the door shut, House whispered his own goodbye and sunk back down onto his piano bench. His fingers grazed the keys and nothing came to mind to play except for some random bars from a few requiems. All of which seemed appropriate for the moment, the mourning he was sure he would start experiencing as soon as the shock wore off.

A large sigh left House's mouth and before he knew it, a bone chilling feeling rushed through his body. He knew that he wanted to go after her, say everything that she had both wanted and needed him to say, but he didn't. Instead, he got up from his piano and limped into his kitchen.

Not bothering with a glass, House reached out and opened a large bottle of scotch, taking a large gulp before walking back into his living room, bottle still in hand. His hand shook slightly as he turned his TV on. He scanned through his Tivo.

Although his favorite shows were all on there, House found himself oddly uninterested in the comings and goings of The OC, bored by the thoughts of Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Stars' latest plan, and unexcited about the idea of whatever was going to happen on The L Word this week. He groaned and took another long swallow of his scotch before flipping his TV off and reaching over for the telephone.

House's fingers dialed Cameron's number, but hesitated before hitting the call button then almost instantly hit the end button. He sighed before dialing Wilson's number and waited patiently as it rang. His friend answered on the third ring sounding exasperated.

"Hello?" Wilson said, his voice filled with annoyance.

"My staff of three is now a staff of two." House told him. His voice steady and in complete contradiction to the rest of him.

"House?" Wilson said stating the obvious.

"Yeah, it's me. Did you hear what I said?"

"Who'd you fire?" Wilson asked curiously. He knew that House had been agonizing over the decision for weeks and was pissed when he finally made a decision and was told no.

House took a deep breath. "I..." he said stressing the I, "didn't fire anybody."

Wilson shook his head confused. "Then..."

"Cameron quit."

"She did what!" Wilson yelled.

"Easy on the ears Jimmy. She quit. She came over here and gave me her resignation. Said something about protecting herself."

"From what? You weren't going to fire her."

House shook his head. "I don't know. Maybe I was. I'm not sure. I may not like Foreman half the time, but he was probably one of the best applicants I saw and he's a great doctor. I couldn't have gotten rid of him. And I can't get rid of Chase no matter how badly I want to. And I had to fire someone. Cameron was the obvious..."

"No she wasn't. You weren't going to fire her. You practically told her that."

"What?" House asked confused.

"You told her you weren't going to crush her. If you were going to fire her, you would have never said that to her." Wilson snapped.

"I wouldn't have wanted to that's for sure. I still don't want to." House said before taking a deep breath, his fingers pressing against the bridge of his nose, "I should have just given the damn speech Vogler wanted me to give. Then there wouldn't be a problem."

"Yeah. You should have." Wilson readily agreed.

"Do you know she came to me twice and thanked me for doing this for them? She wanted me to know that she appreciated me doing something I so clearly didn't want to and would never have done before, just so that they all could keep their jobs."


"And then she walks in here and she tells me that she understands why I did what I did. That I did what I thought was best and that she's taking herself out of the equation." House said, anger starting to become evident in his voice.

"Why are you so upset?" Wilson asked curiously.

House opened his mouth to say something but his brain couldn't comprehend what he wanted to say. "I... I... I don't like being told what to do. You know that."

"She didn't tell you what to do. She took care of it for you. Which is something you always like for people to do, handle your problems so you don't have to." Wilson reminded his friend.

House wanted to scream--She wasn't a problem I wanted handled!--but he stopped himself. "Still." He said lamely, "Why were you so angry when you answered the phone?" He added remembering that Wilson had sounded annoyed when he answered.

Wilson sighed. "I'm not going to ignore the fact that you're changing the subject; but if you must know, Julie and I got into another fight."

"Well, most wives don't enjoy it when their husbands are having an affair." House said obviously.

"For the last time I'm not having an affair House!" Wilson yelled.

House nodded. "You say that, but I have to wonder... how's Debbie from accounting?" He asked cheekily.

"You know you called me because you're obviously upset about Dr. Cameron leaving and you want to inadvertently talk about it; and now all you're doing is being an ass. So I'm just going to hang up now and we'll talk tomorrow." Wilson snapped.

"Don't..." House said but was already met with a dial tone.