Endorphins

Climbing down the stones steps that led up to her boss's apartment, Cameron heard the door slam softly shut behind her. He hadn't been mad at her for showing up, but the desperation in his normally vibrant eyes made her heart break. And not into two nice, neat pieces that fit together like a silly friendship necklace with "Be Fri" on one half and "est ends" on the other. Instead the organ broke to the point of no possible repair. Shattered and jagged, the pieces of her heart slashed at the soft pink flesh of her tender insides, making her whole body scream out in pain and agony.

On her drive over to House's apartment, Cameron had told herself to expect the worst. To be prepared for the hollow echo of a human being to be on the other side of the door. But when he finally answered her soft knock, she was only able to utter two words on a quaking exhale.

"Oh God." The words were pitiful and cliché. Nothing important or earth shattering, but the syllables had slipped from her lips without her consent and were left hanging in the fraction of a moment between the two of them.

Now driving away from the man's house, Cameron's fingers gripped the steering wheel of her car with more force than was necessary. Alternating between flexing and clenching the normally steady digits, the immunologist watched as her knuckles faded from pink to white, pink to white, conscious of the fact that she had taken her eyes off of the road.

With each stretch of muscle and tendon, the woman felt the glass shards that were her insides slowly, but surely turn to a bubbling hot wax. With each image of her boss that floated through her thoughts, a bit of wax would drip into the acid of her stomach, forming tiny, solid droplets of nausea and heart ache.

Once again, the phrase slipped from her lips. Lacking the shock of earlier, the words were now laced with traces of sorrow that she had yet to really allow to seep into her thoughts. "Oh God."

Allison was hoping to use the relatively short drive back to the hospital to clear her head, purge the scenes from her brain. But as the face that was mentally staring back at her began to turn a sickening shade of red, the woman couldn't help but clench her jaw savagely. Her first instinct had been to close her eyes, squeeze the vision out of her thoughts, but she had already taken her eyes off the road once, and she wasn't about to that again.

Releasing the muscles, Cameron focused her eyes on the bleak expanse of pavement before her. Wishing that she could drown herself in the blinding pools of light that flooded forth from the plastic red and yellow lights of her Buick, the woman imagined what it would feel like to sink into the vast expanse of asphalt for just a little while.

The past few weeks had been so hard. So ridiculously painful and the fact the whole situation with Tritter could have been prevented if her boss was capable of acting like a human being just made it all worse. Relationships were cracking around the edges, and Allison was worried that if something didn't happen soon, someone would break.

It would be so easy to just spin the wheel of her car and drive in the opposite direction of the hospital. But with a girl dying as she pressed her foot to the gas, Cameron knew that there was no way she would turn the car away from Princeton-Plainsboro.

Shaking the thoughts from her head, Allison came to the conclusion that she could travel to the ends of the earth, but, no matter where she was, the man's icy blue eyes would still haunt her.

Pulling to a halt at a stop light, Cameron took the momentary lapse in movement to truly let her mind wander.

With the bright red light shining down on the hood of her car, the immunologist reached up to wipe the tips of her soft fingers over the apple of her cheek in a pathetic attempt to rid her face of a tear that hadn't even had the chance to fall yet.

Placing the arch of her palm back on the steering wheel, Allison wasn't surprised when she felt a tiny splash on the back of her hand. The tear had come. She had just been a few seconds to soon.

Deep down she understood his reasoning, understood that he only took a blade to his forearm to get the temporary relief of endorphins surging through his aching veins. But that didn't mean…

She didn't even know what it didn't mean.

And the sad part was that she didn't care.

Not right now anyway.

Right now all she knew was that the man she… her boss, had been so desperate for some sort of relief that he had cut himself. It could have been the desperate act of a hopeless junkie looking for a fix. Or it could have been a man in such dire pain that he would have done anything short of cutting off the source of the agony to relieve it. Most likely it was a mix of both.

Either way, he had been desperate, and the blade had eased his suffering.

"Oh God."

She tried to stop herself. Honestly, she did. But before she could shut down that train of thought and refocus her mind on the stop light that was sure to flicker from crimson "stop" to "go" green, a silver sliver sparkled in her mind.

The scene, or what she imagined the scene to be, spilled out before her mossy eyes, like a moment out of some gritty movie. Though there was nothing to allude to the fact, Cameron knew that he had sat on his couch, no music playing in the back round or pedantic television show buzzing from the set near by.

He was sitting in the middle of the couch, not to the far right or left, with his cane propped on the worn expanse of leather next to him. His legs were spread wide, but instead of it being the way a "man" sat, she knew he did it so that he could rest one elbow on his good thigh while he stretched out the leg of the bad one.

As usual, her boss was wearing some t-shirt or other, only instead of being hiply wrinkled, it was bunched and gathered, as if it had been slept in, rolled around in and then scrunched together until it cried out in surrender.

In her mind, Cameron was able to see a half empty glass of scotch on the end table.

An empty bottle of Vicodin lying cap-less on the small table that sat in front of the couch.

So many details.

So many little things that detracted from the main problem.

Every thought that passed through the haze of her mind that wasn't House sitting with a blade over his arm was a distraction. And though the thoughts were a mind-numbing alternative, her brain soon ran out of things to fixate on, and all that was left was her boss and his razor.

To Cameron, it seemed that whenever she wished for a light to hurry up and change, it would take that much longer for one bulb to flicker off while another flickered on. If the light had just changed, she may have been able to escape the thoughts that came after the glass of scotch and after the empty pill bottle. Time, however, was not on her side, and the red light continued to blaze despite her pleading.

Ever so softly, the girl's hands began to shake. It wasn't anything major, just a small twitch that the casual observer would miss. She, however, was not a casual observer, and, in an effort to steady the shaking appendages, she removed them from the wheel, wringing them together a few times.

How had he done it? Had he picked a point on the tender flesh of his forearm and pressed the blade firmly down, or had it taken more time than that? As a doctor, Cameron couldn't help but wonder if he at least sterilized the blade first. He may have been in pain, but Gregory House was one to wash his hands not once but twice when he went to the bathroom. Somehow she knew he had taken the time to run a flame over the sharpened metal.

Taking a deep breath as she pushed her shaking fingers back through her hair, Allison saw House take the blade firmly in his hand and press the edge once against his arm as if testing the skin. The tip of the razor pressed into the layers of flesh and fat, leaving a tiny mark that would guide his following attempts. The first time hadn't been hard enough and so, he pressed down again, almost experimentally.

The third time was the charm.

With the press, a small droplet of crimson blood blossomed out of a tiny hole and quivered for a moment before rolling down the side of his arm like the tear that was rolling down Allison's cheek, leaving a tell tale streak in its place. The only difference was that hers was Revlon's "Blackest Black," and his was B+.

In her mind, Cameron could see the man adjusting his fingers over the sweating handle, and biting down on his bottom lip as the first tiny droplet met the underside of his arm and soaked into the knee of his jeans. With a very slow and purposeful hand, the man carefully drug the blade over the fleshy inside of his arm, even going so far as to keep the cut straight.

When Cameron had cleaned her boss's wounds, she had noticed two things. When the woman first began to clean the wounds, she noticed that the cuts were straight and therefore purposeful. That shocking revelation, however, was not enough to distract her from the fact that there had been three identical inch and a half long gashes all similar in their depth (not so deep that he would need stitches to stem the flow of blood).

The harsh sound of a car honking shook Cameron out of her fitful reverie full of dreaded speculation and fear. Now her weary mind was forced to deal with reality, which in some ways was much worse than her thoughts.

House, always extreme but always rational, had had an explanation for his actions.

Endorphins.

Pressing her foot down on the gas petal after staring up at the light for longer than was truly necessary, Cameron gripped the wheel of her car. Through the vibrations of the steering wheel, the woman felt the shake of her hands begin to slow as they steeled themselves from the worst.

Endorphins.

House had slipped the silvery edge of the razor over his forearm in an effort to release endorphins. To relieve his pain. However, the thing that Allison was still unable to decide was whether House did it because he couldn't stand the constant throbbing in his thigh or because he really was a junkie who was just that desperate.

With the glowing sign of Princeton-Plainsboro teaching hospital looming in the distance, Allison Cameron took one last deep breath preparing herself for what was to come. Her hands were still shaking slightly, and if one looked close enough, they would notice a tiny streak of mascara that had once been a tear.

Cillian Chase's Chart

- Originally, I had no intention of writing a fic based on "Merry Little Christmas". Had Katie not said, 'you should write something based on that episode', I wouldn't have. So…. thank you for the push Katie. And thank you for all of your help with this piece. From beta-ing to advice and everything in between, you've been so much help. :duck: