Cameron stood at the machine, staring at its screen, waiting for the test results. In her head, she could hear the rhythmic chant of her own voice, "Please be negative. Please be negative. Be negative." A positive result would mean a fairly quick and painful death for House's current patient. It was not a death sentence Cameron wanted the responsibility of knowing about, or of having to inform the patient about. A negative result still left the boy in question mysteriously ill, but with hope for a diagnosis that was treatable. "Be negative," she murmured.
Cameron's head snapped up and she looked over her shoulder as House pushed through the door. She had known it would be House; she always seemed to be able to sense his presence moments before she actually knew of it. A wave of irritation flashed through her. He always caught her when she was vulnerable or upset. Did he have some sort of radar? She thought she detected both anger and irritation in his eyes. She could feel a slight flush warming her cheeks and a tensing of her muscles as he neared. Part of her reaction was in response to his attitude. But the cause of the rest of her tension… well, that was too much—and too familiar—for her to deal with at the moment. She turned back towards the screen without a word.
House waited for Cameron to look away before allowing his eyes to roam down her figure, then back up. She stood rigid with nerves. The cause of her tension, however, was more ambiguous. Just how much of it was her anticipation of the test results? How much was due to his presence?
A familiar aching anger rolled through House as he watched the distress on Cameron's face. She was always doing this to herself, caring too much. Then hurting too much. Investing so much into people when people, House knew, were seldom worth the effort. In this case, however, the patient was a rather endearing young boy whose symptoms were getting critical. No one on the team was having an easy time with this case and House almost resented the puzzle that had attracted him to it. Especially if the imminent results confirmed the current theory.
They needed a distraction, he thought, and decided to explore his curiosity. Just how much of Cameron's tension was due to his presence, and how could he use that to distract her? His gaze dropped to Cameron's profile, hovering on her lips before pulling them back up to her eyes. Yes, he thought to himself, the eyes, and the worry he saw in them. He decided to go with the easiest and most assured method of distraction: anger. Anger, he could always do. Anger, he was good at.
"Results in yet?" he asked, though he knew they weren't.
"Any minute now," Cameron replied, her eyes fixated on the screen.
House waited a beat. He loved leaving beats in conversations. It always made it seem more dramatic when he spoke. "Care to make a bet on the results? I say the kid dies." He kept his focus on Cameron's face, ready to meet the anger in her eyes as she turned to face him.
"Unlike you," Cameron spoke slowly without looking at him, "I don't take pleasure—or profit—from someone else's troubles."
House pushed his cane to the side a bit as he leaned forward. "Why not? What's he gonna care?" He paused, knowing they had been through this argument before. When he spoke again, it was with the sharp edge of sarcasm. "Oh, come now. Have some fun! High stakes betting! Winner claims whatever they want!" He paused again for dramatic effect. House knew the dramatics would irritate Cameron all the more. "I say it's positive," he continued. "Kid's dying. You don't agree. The question is, how willing are you to stand by your diagnosis?"
House let the question hang. He didn't expect Cameron to take the bet, but he did expect her to argue about it. Cameron, however, wasn't rising to his bait quite so easily these days. She stood in silence, back still turned to him. "No bet?" House bit out, frustrated in his inability to bait her. He turned and headed toward the door. "I hope you had more conviction when you spoke with that kid's parents earlier, trying to give them hope as you bargained for these tests."
House had just reached out to push through the doors when Cameron replied. She spoke quietly, but it was enough to cause House to stop in surprise. "Fine," she said. "It's a bet."