Notes: My love to wholesomelymid for the beta. Deviates from canon after 'Euphoria pt2'. Title from Jobim's Aguas de Marco. Please don't archive without permission.
On the day Foreman gets up, they're all there and not even House is pretending it's because of some crisis in the area. Foreman rolls his eyes at them, says something sarcastic, but it barely registers. All she can hear is the shuffle of his feet on the linoleum. You did good, she thinks, and it doesn't quite feel hollow.
He passes her, and their eyes meet. He looks at her, gratitude and apology and a hundred other things she can't place.
She looks away first, and lets out a breath she didn't know she was holding.
They move around each other awkwardly, stumbling across new angles where there were none before. Still, they function, almost in the same they always have. It's not perfect, but it works.
Works. A working relationship. She shouldn't have to keep reminding herself of that.
The MRI observation room never used to seem this small before. But now hulking emotion crowds the space around her, until she can't breathe air that isn't his.
A small, rational part of her insists they're going to have to deal with it at some point, but she ignores it in favour of staring at their faded reflections in the dark glass. Their faces are transparent, overlaying the shadowed space-age construction of the MRI. He doesn't notice her watching him.
He leans closer to the screen, and she can see the small pale scars on the back of his head.
Some point. They've got time.
Closing time, and no one's dying on their watch for once. It's a refreshing feeling. Foreman holds her coat for her, and she shrugs it on with a murmured thank you. He smiles, bright white teeth and easy manner like she hasn't seen in a long while, says he'll see her tomorrow.
The door swings shut behind him, and she's left behind in the darkened office, half-formed questions crowding at her like shadows.
It's just them and the lab and a dozen tests to run, blurring together into blood samples and white counts and negative. He's bent over the microscope, humming a tune she doesn't recognize. He's got a nice voice, and it seems strange to her that she never knew that before. She doesn't realize she's staring until he looks up, and she finds herself scrutinized, pinned down by his gaze.
"Cameron, I know I never thanked you properly-" he begins, but she cuts him off.
"Eric, that's not necessary-" his eyes go wide, and the echo of his first name feels odd in her mouth. She's not sure who she surprised more with that, him or herself. She sets her jaw, doesn't apologize. She saved his life. She figures she has a right.
The CAT scan printouts weigh heavily in her hands. They're an inoperable cancer diagnosis for a woman of fifty-four, and she's volunteered to be the one to give her the news. She doesn't flick through them (knows them by heart already), though it takes a concentrated effort of will.
A hand at her elbow stops her single-minded march down the hallway. "Off in your own little world?" he asks. She smiles ruefully, hands him the folder.
"Inoperable cancer in a fifty-four year old woman," he doesn't look through it, just hands her a coffee mug instead.
"I heard. Thought you might want that." He says, indicating the mug in her hand. He doesn't say anything about being an emotional masochist or overinvolved, just gives the folder back to her. "Allison, try not to be so hard on yourself," he says quietly as he walks away.
The shock of her first name leaves her stunned for a moment, a fixed point in the swirling movement of the hallway. She allows herself to be shuffled along in the human traffic, bearing her towards her grim destination. She grips the handle of the coffee cup, and feels a little lighter.
"Want to get a drink or something?" she asks, and wonders immediately if she's gone mad. He considers for a moment, smiles in a way that lights him from the inside.
Her mother would probably ask if she's planning on sleeping with all her coworkers, or just the male ones. But her mother's not here and Eric is warm and he smells good, and she finds herself leaning in a little closer and smiling a little wider. She lets him buy her a drink and it's probably not wise, but she's sick of carrying around every fucking thing around like her own personal albatross. Decides that just this once, the world isn't going to fall apart if she lets it go just a little bit.
More importantly, he smiles back.
Later, his hand is warm on the small of her back as he ushers her into a cab. She wonders if she's supposed to feel guilty, but the best she can manage is warm and content and a little buzzed.
He's framed in the half-open car door, and she considers for a brief instant inviting him in, but something stalls her. Perhaps it's the line of his body or the lamplight pooling on the sidewalk or the wind picking up that speaks of not yet. So she settles for "see you Monday" and a smile that comes easily.
He grins. "Yeah."