Summary: A bad day for Cameron turns dramatically worse, and House is guilt-stricken.

Disclaimer: I don't own them (wish I did!)

"Cameron, go draw the guy's blood," House demanded.

"Can't…can't Chase or Foreman do it? I got a weird vibe the last time I was in his room. I don't think he likes me."

"Oh, boo hoo. Somebody doesn't like me. You're not running for head cheerleader, you're trying to save the guy's life. Go."

"I just…"

"Stop the incessant whining and DO IT!" House shouted. Cameron was visibly shaken and hurt. She fumbled with the door and finally was able to yank it open. She exited quickly, her eyes on the floor as she left. House sighed and gripped his leg, trying futilely to rub away the pain. It was shaping up to be that kind of a day.

"Sir, if you just hold still, it'll only take me a minute…" Cameron pleaded.

"I said to get away from me, you little bitch." The patient glowered hatefully at his young doctor.

Cameron's eyes stung, and she quickly blinked back her tears. Everybody just keeps heaping on the abuse, she thought to herself. Well, keep it coming. I can take whatever you want to dish out. I won't let you see me cry.

Suddenly, before she knew what was happening, the patient's fist swung around and connected with the side of her face. The blow sent Cameron hurtling to the ground. She looked up in shock and saw the patient standing over her, his eyes burning with hatred. Cameron instinctively put her hands up to protect her face, but this did nothing to ward off the swift kicks he delivered to her torso. She gasped as the breath left her body. She saw dark spots floating before her eyes, and then nothing. The last sounds she heard were the patient's bare feet slapping on the linoleum as he ran from the room.

"House, it's okay. She's going to be okay. House?" Cuddy gasped and tried to keep up as House hobbled through the hallways at breakneck speed. She was panicked and babbling, but trying to keep up the pretense that she was calm and in control. He ignored her as he raced to Cameron's room.

"House, hold on! I have to warn you, she looks worse than she actually is. She's just…"

"Yeah, just beaten up, a few broken ribs…no big deal." House glared at Cuddy over his shoulder. There were no words that were going to placate him. He rounded the corner and nearly tripped as he came to a stop. He was standing outside of Cameron's hospital room. He put his hand on the doorknob, but he couldn't will his body to move any further. He stood there, frozen, until Cuddy gently touched his shoulder.

"Go to her. You'll see she's okay," Cuddy said softly. House nodded and slowly opened the door. He wasn't prepared for the sight before him.

There was Cameron, his Cameron, broken and bloody in the narrow hospital bed. Her dark, silken hair spread across the white bed linens, contrasting with the pallor of her skin. He didn't think he'd ever seen her so pale, with the exception of the angry red and purple bruising on her cheek, and the trickle of dried blood that had leaked from her nose.

He was taken aback by how young and helpless she looked as she lay there sleeping. The rough, cotton hospital gown was swimming on her thin frame. She looked like a child, even more so than when she wore her babyish, puffy-sleeved shirts that he hated, and his heart flooded with fear and concern.

"Oh, Cameron," he whispered, drawing a hand over his face as his lips quivered. He took a deep breath and pulled himself together, limping around the room until he found a washcloth. He took it over to the sink and dipped it underneath the faucet, soaking it with warm water. He wrung out the cloth and walked to Cameron's bedside.

With gentle strokes, he ran the warm cloth softly over her face, wishing he could remove the nightmare of what happened to her as easily as he wiped away the blood. She shivered as the air hit her damp face and slowly opened her eyes—one perfect, the other painfully swollen. A tear glistened and then fell, rolling it's way down her cheek only to be joined by another. House followed the trail of the tears with the washcloth, wiping them away before they could drip down her chin and onto her neck.

Cameron smiled weakly, lopsidedly, her bruised cheek limiting the motion of her lips. She stretched out a hand, grasping for human contact. She ached to be touched gently, to be soothed. House looked at the thin, pitiful little hand reaching toward him. He hesitated for a moment, and then wrapped his fingers around hers. Her hand was freezing, and he rubbed it briskly to try to warm it. He then pulled her blanket up over her shoulders, tucking it softly underneath her chin. Her crooked smile widened slightly, filled with gratitude.

"Thanks," she whispered hoarsely. His mouth smiled back at her, but the expression in his eyes was haunted, full of pain.

"Anything…" his voice caught, and he swallowed and tried again. "Anything for you."

Chase and Foreman stood outside of Cameron's room. They had been prepared to enter and visit with their teammate, bearing offerings from the hospital gift shop. Chase held a stuffed animal (cheesy, but she would appreciate it) and Foreman held a small bouquet of roses. But as they looked through the window and saw Cameron's hand in House's, the intensity of his gaze as he kept watch over her, they silently walked away from the room. Though no words were exchanged between them, each knew what the other was thinking—that it would be best to save their visit until later.