A/N: The lyrics are from "The Outsider" by A Perfect Circle – so not mine... For a standard disclaimer see my profile. This is a missing scene after "Half-Wit", go watch it before you read it, or it won't make any sense and it will spoil one of the best episodes of the show for you.
"Help me if you can,
it's just that this, this is not the way I'm wired.
So could you please
help me understand why
you've given in to all these reckless, dark desires?"
I don't know for how long I have been standing there. Must have been a while, because the guy sitting at the nearest table actually comes up to me, opens the door and asks if I'm all right. I'm about to tell him to leave me the hell alone, and close the damn door before half the people inside catch a cold. At least some of them would come to the clinic and I would end up looking up their runny noses, which, let me tell you, is not my idea of fun.
But then Cameron starts to turn towards the door and I have just one second to decide whether to push past the annoying moron and join the Ducklings, or bolt. For some inexplicable reason I choose the former.
Cameron notices me and of course the rest of the kids turn as well, to see what made her face scrunch up in disgust. Level seven on my personal scale – Greg House, somewhere between six - a head-on car crash, and eight - an infected scrotum.
Foreman's expression almost matches hers, but not quite, which cheers me up a bit. It's always better to be classified in the same category as a fatal accident than the swollen genitals.
Chase looks like someone shot his favorite dog. Or as if he just learned his father is a drunk looser. That boy has to finally realize I'm not his, or anybody else's for that matter, father-figure. I really don't understand how on Earth could anyone know me longer than two minutes and think about me that way. Maybe it's because he's Australian?
I look at him again. Disillusioned. That's the word.
"House," says Cameron. I wonder if the patrons of the pub could possibly catch that cold from the ice in her voice. "And this was such a pleasant evening."
"Someone dying?" asks Foreman. "No pun intended," he adds after a moment of silence. Normally I would have told him that I'm the only one allowed to do sarcasm around here, and then say something insensitive about his homies. Normally.
"Well?" Cameron again.
Now is the time to say something. That's what I came here for, right? That's why I'm drugged to my eyeballs with those sweet little babies that make you not give a damn about anything at all. They give the stuff to trauma victims who are about to go into shock. Better living through chemistry – that's my specialty.
By then they are all glaring at me, though Chase still seems more embarrassed and sad than angry. He's the one who finally breaks the silence. "Maybe we should go somewhere else," he says and I can see that Cameron is about to chastise him. The boy is whipped, and they are not even a couple. That's just wrong.
Them leaving now would also be wrong, so I speak, before Cameron starts defending their constitutional right to have a drink at any pub they choose, without being bugged by pathetic miserable bastards.
"No, I think you should stay," I say, and almost wince, because it sounds like an order.
"House..." starts Cameron and if I let her continue, she will be screaming before she reaches the end of the first sentence.
That stops them. Somewhere behind the soft insulation of the pills I took, I'm wondering why the hell I would say 'please' to anyone, those three especially, and I'm getting quite pissed off at myself. Here and now, I don't give a damn one way or the other.
"There's something I want you to hear," I say.
"What if we don't feel like listening?" snaps Foreman.
"Okay, let me rephrase that – there's something I want to say to you." There, better? This way gives them the option of telling me to go to hell, while not sounding like I'm actually asking them to hear me out. That I don't think I can do, even with the pills.
"Is this gonna take long?" asks Foreman. "Because my neck is starting to hurt from looking up." Sweet. The polite version of 'Sit down or fuck off'.
I don't really know how long this is going to take, I don't have a speech written down. My leg is starting to really bother me, so I decide to sit. Cameron rolls her eyes, apparently convinced they won't be free of me for the rest of the night.
Okay, here goes.
"Wilson told me to start small," I say and I can see their confusion. Poor little things have no idea what I'm talking about. "There's one thing I need to clear up with you, if we're going to continue working together. I have to tell you why I faked cancer."
Cameron almost jumps out of her seat. "We already know that!" she says and I can hear her straining to keep her voice low. "You wanted to trick the doctors in Boston into sticking a needle in your brain!"
"Do you know why I wanted to do that?"
"To get high, why else? What, Vicodin got boring?" she asks, contempt radiating from her in waves.
"No, Vicodin is pretty much the same these days – takes the edge off, makes me nauseous every time I move my head, seriously messes with my digestion and works hard on killing my liver. Not what most people would call 'recreational drug', but hey, I think we agree that I'm not most people." Something must be getting past those pills, I think. I didn't mean to be sarcastic, but it looks like it worked. I guess they weren't expecting anything that personal from me. Unless I was wrong about the dosage and those things stop working in a minute, they're in for a ride, I think and almost smile.
"I wanted them to stick a needle in my brain because that way I would live mostly pain-free for the next two to three months," I say.
"You wanted to risk an invasive experimental procedure on your brain, because your leg hurts?" asks Foreman with disbelief.
"No. Because I feel as if I had a rusty piece of barbed wire wrapped around my thigh, every second of every day. And night."
They just sit there, staring at me. Then Chase speaks. "And Vicodin doesn't help? At all?"
"That is how it feels with Vicodin. Without it I can't move, can't sleep, can't think. Can't do pretty much anything, except curl in a ball, try not to bite through my lip and pray to pass out soon." I give them a moment to digest it. Then I lean close and hope they believe me.
"I know I can't win this one, but I can hold my own. As long as I have a minute to take a deep breath here and there."
There's a long moment of stunned silence.
"This wasn't supposed to be recreational. It was supposed to be a break, a couple months of relative normalcy, time to regroup. You took that chance away."
"Why didn't you tell anyone it got so bad?!" asks Foreman. He's equally angry at me for being an emotionally repressed idiot and at himself for not noticing the symptoms.
"I did. I told you, I told Cuddy, I told Wilson. For some reason when I complain about pain people think I'm a lying junkie looking for a fix."
They all look guilty now – Cameron the most, Foreman the least, Chase hiding behind the relief that I'm not an unmitigated son-of-a-bitch after all. I have to say something before they start apologizing. I take out the meds and shake the bottle, making the pills rattle inside.
"I had to take six of those babies to even be able to consider telling you the next part, so bear with me, please," I say and both Chase and Cameron reach out and grab my wrists to check the pulse. "I'm fine, I checked the dosage. I'm still at least four pills away from the OD." Foreman actually smiles at that.
"Ready?" I ask, when they finally let go of me. I have to repeat the question in my head. Ready. Am I really?
"Ready," says Cameron and gives me a tearful smile. I should ridicule her now, tell her to go hug one of Wilson's bald brats or something. The pills tell me to shut the fuck up and get on with the show. So I do.
"When you came to tell me I didn't have cancer I was too pissed off at you to actually notice, but later I remembered you had looked... happy. Because I wasn't dying. I realize it's pretty pathetic, but I honestly wasn't expecting anyone, except maybe Wilson and my mom, to be happy about me being alive. I usually get the opposite reaction."
Great. I made Chase cry. In some distant part of my brain I'm grinning and planning on never, not ever letting him live it down. I squash that little part down and sit on it.
"Then you figured out I was faking it. One second and you were sure you knew the reason and I was back to my regular position – a pathetic mean bastard. It took me a while, but I figured out I felt worse about that than about losing a chance to go to Boston. If that's true, then as long as I can have you three not hating my guts, I can live without my brain's pleasure center telling my leg that it doesn't really hurt. I have all the breathing room I need, right here. If you let me."
They take a collective breath, and from their expressions I can tell they are about to say something along the lines of 'Of course! We're so sorry!'. I need to finish this though, so I don't give them the chance.
"I basically bullied myself into admitting that I had to talk to you about all this and I knew I would not do this under any kind of normal circumstances. So, with a little help from my friends," I shake the little orange bottle again, "I made them abnormal."
Abnormal. That should be my favorite word. I shake the thought off and continue, before they pull me into a group hug or do something else I would have to kill them for, once I'm myself again.
"Which means that once those pills wear off, I will do something really ugly and exquisitely painful to anyone who ever mentions this conversation. Pretend it was all a seriously fucked-up dream – I know I will. It also means that if you want to hug me, tell me you're sorry, express your sympathy, cry on my shoulder or have hot therapeutic sex with me," I wink at Cameron and pretend I don't see Chase shooting a worried glance in her direction, "this is your one and only chance."
There is a short moment when they all sit completely still, and then they are all talking at once and laughing, and Chase and Cameron are trying very hard not to cry. Foreman doesn't, of course, he just gives me a manly pat on the shoulder, because he's above the teary demonstrations of affection. Works for me.
I can feel the unfamiliar warmth somewhere inside me. I hold it and point it out to that part of me that spent the last half an hour alternately raging behind the thick wall of numbing meds and congratulating me on the truly masterful manipulation. Shut up and enjoy the feeling, I tell it.
I give the kids a few minutes and then I get up. Cameron looks at me with surprise. "Where are you going?"
"Home. I'm way too stoned to be out and about. I might accidentally start being nice to people and where would we all be then?"
"But... I thought you'd stay..." she stutters.
"I have to get out of here before the meds wear off or there will be a triple murder-suicide."
They all smile. "Start small with what?" asks Chase.
"At the beginning, you said 'Wilson told me to start small'."
"Ah, that." I get up and have to lean heavily on my cane. I can see Cameron itching to help me and I shoot her a warning glare. "This whole mushy feelings stuff. Opening up, being friendly and all that crap."
Cameron's eyes widen and Foreman laughs out loud. "You call that small?"
I put on my gloves and take a first step towards the door. "I never said I would listen to him, did I? You should know by now, I don't do small."