Summary: From bookgodess15's prompt #7: Cameron learns why it's never a good idea to listen in on other people's conversations.
A/N: This is a long-delayed sequel to "Honesty Is Not Always Best", in response to reader requests. The two stories stand alone pretty well, though, IMO. Variations on this bunny have been running through my head ever since that episode last season when Chase publicly challenged Cameron about sleeping with House.
Warnings: Not nice to Cameron here. Although really, I'm not being all that mean to her as a writer. She's not being a bitch, and Chase will absolutely tell her the truth the next time he sees her anyway.
Disclaimer: Does anyone think I would leave Chase out of the show? Didn't think so.
"Did you sleep with him?"
"You did, didn't you?"
Cameron couldn't believe that Chase had challenged her in front of Foreman and the others. It was nobody's damn business whether she had slept with House. OK, maybe Chase had a right to know whether he'd been exposed to an STD, but why did he have to bring it up in public? There had been moments in their relationship when she could see that Chase was jealous of House because of her previous infatuation, especially when those documentary people were filming. But in all their time together, Chase had never asked how close she'd really gotten to their former boss.
Of course, she hadn't slept with House, so Chase didn't have anything to worry about. House had been polite (for him) about turning down her overtures, and remarkably discrete in not mentioning them to the others, but he hadn't expressed any interest in pursuing a personal relationship. Eventually she had to admit that the whole idea wasn't very sensible given the work situation, so she moved on to a co-worker rather than her boss.
But now Chase was storming off the hospital patio and she had a bad feeling that he was headed to House's office to confront him. That was a conversation that wasn't likely to go well. No matter what House said, Chase wasn't going to accept it, and she could easily imagine House messing with Chase's head. She really needed to get there fast and clear this mess up with Chase. It was annoying that he had forced her hand like this, though.
As she rounded the corner by the Diagnostics department, she could hear that Chase had indeed found House in his office. As the office door closed, Chase's voice faded in volume so that she needed to move up to the glass wall to hear the muffled words. Luckily there was a convenient support to conceal her presence. She'd used it years ago when Stacy was around and she was trying to figure out their relationship. It wasn't really eavesdropping, exactly. It just never hurt to know what was going on before charging into House's office.
"—hell are you playing at, House?" Chase sounded furious.
A peek around the corner revealed that House was at his desk tossing his stupid ball up and down while Chase loomed over him with his hands on his hips. Wow, she thought, Chase usually isn't that confrontational. He must be seriously pissed off about this. I hope House isn't going to make things worse. She had already found out that Chase became coldly formal and distant when he was upset(bet he got that behavior from his father) and she really didn't want to put up with that for the next few days.
Unfortunately, she also saw that House had on his mock-innocent "Who, me?" expression. She straightened up and decided she had better just listen before someone spotted her.
Sure enough, House blandly responded, "Something bothering you?"
"Goddamn right something's bothering me! (Uh oh, she thought, Chase doesn't resort to profanity very often.)
"And what would that be?"
"Don't play innocent with me, House. It doesn't suit you. What the hell are you doing, pretending to have neurosyphilis?"
Cameron frowned. What did Chase mean, 'pretending'? House wouldn't fake another illness, especially that one. Why would Chase sound so sure he was faking? And if he was sure, why had he hassled her about her relationship with House?
"Whatever do you mean, Dr. Chase?" House said in an indulgent tone. "First of all, there's this thing called confidentiality, so what makes you think I have neurosyphilis? Second, why do you think I don't have neurosyphilis?"
Chase let out a short, anything-but-mirthful laugh. "You can bloody well guess how I heard about it. Technically, you're not anyone's patient, so confidentiality isn't required, Apparently discretion isn't, either. And neurosyphilis takes years to develop and we both know you're clean."
Now Cameron was really confused. How would Chase know anything about House being 'clean'? Of course, there had been some talk over the years about hookers. Maybe Chase or Foreman had insisted that House get tested for STDs. Of course, if that was the case, then Chase was right; House was manipulating his Fellows into thinking he was ill.
Chase continued, "Or maybe you were lying about your earlier blood test results? Should I be worried?"
After a pause, House said, "No, you're fine."
"Well, that's good to hear. Cameron's completely flustered by this, you know. She thinks the reason you're a great doctor is that you're an arse with Swiss cheese for brains."
"Sounds about right," House snorted. "Does she think antibiotics will reform me?"
"Something like that. She's certainly overreacting to this, though." A pause. "Did you actually have sex with her?"
Cameron was thoroughly puzzled at this point. Chase had entered House's office yelling, but he was now asking the question she expected in a rather calm voice. She ventured another peek into the office. Chase was now standing in a more relaxed posture and had moved around the desk to look out the window.
"Nah. Never even made out with her," House replied. "Kissed her once. Or rather, she kissed me. Fun, but uninspiring."
OK, now that was insulting. Admittedly, she had kissed House in order to get a blood sample, but he had definitely kissed her back.
House continued, "So why the interest now? You never asked me about sleeping with Cameron before."
"Didn't want to know. It wasn't going to change anything."
"I guess not," House replied quietly.
There was a long silence, then Chase said, "So why trick the new guys with neurosyphilis? It won't get you any good drugs."
"Not about the drugs this time. I'm just trying to make a point."
"I see. I'm not even going to ask what that might be."
"Good idea. It would just confuse you."
"Thanks. Your confidence is overwhelming." Cameron could hear the note of dry amusement in Chase's voice. "I presume you want me to keep my mouth shut."
"For the moment. My plan has a Part B that I haven't carried out yet."
"And I don't want to know about that either, House."
After another moment of silence, House said, "You know, what I don't understand is why you came in here blowing smoke out of your ears. I don't think it was just the manipulated diagnosis. I think you were jealous that I might have had sex with Cameron."
Cameron had to smile at that. Could it really have taken House this long to figure that out?
Chase replied, "I suppose I was. Is that so odd?"
"Wellll," House drawled, "you had sex with her. Did it ever occur to you that I might be jealous?"
"You don't have the right to be jealous, House." Chase's tone had sharpened. "This is all your doing."
"Don't be ridiculous. I didn't tell you to start dating Cameron." Now House sounded displeased too.
"No, but you bloody well knew something like this was going to happen." Chase fell silent, and Cameron frowned. Something about this made no sense. Until Chase's next words left her thoroughly confused.
"You know, I miss you sometimes."
Cameron shook her head. Chase has never said anything about wanting to work with House again.
After a long pause, House said, "I guess there are times when I'm not totally indifferent to your absence either."
Chase chuckled. "Yeah, I love you too, House."
"Yeah, well, don't get carried away about it. That better be a joke." Cameron could hear the smile in House's voice.
"It's been a while, Chase. I would think you'd have smartened up by now. Besides, you're with Cameron."
"Yeah, and I care about her. It's just not…the same with her."
Cameron's eyes widened. What the hell are they talking about?
"Well, being a doctor, I'm sure even you would have noticed the anatomical differences."
"That's not what I meant, House."
"I know," House replied.
Now Cameron was starting to feel nauseous. This can't be what it sounds like. It can't. There's no way.
"The only reason we're not together anymore is that you dumped me," Chase said. "It wasn't my choice."
"Yeah, well, it was for your own good, so you should be making the best of it."
"And how would being dumped supposedly improve my lot in life? You told me you didn't care about me or our relationship, which wasn't exactly a positive experience," Chase said, the puzzlement clear in his voice.
"Come on, it wasn't as if you had any trouble replacing me," House replied.
"I found someone to fill a void in my life. I didn't replace you. If I wanted to be with you, Cameron isn't exactly an obvious substitute. I suspect that I make a much better substitution for you in her life."
"Is that how it is?"
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure. I doubt she'd think twice about kicking me to the curb if she thought you were available."
Cameron scowled. I wouldn't do that. Would I? She had a bad feeling that she might.
"I'm sorry to hear that. If I wanted to be with you, she wouldn't make a good Chase substitute either, so you have nothing to worry about."
After another short silence, Chase said quietly, "So why do you think I'm better off without you?"
House snorted. "That's a long list, as I'm sure you already know. How about finding someone closer to your own age?"
Chase gave a sharp laugh. "You may have a point there. Can't say I've ever had a predilection for twelve-year-olds before. Moving on to someone more mature was certainly a change."
"Very funny. How about finding someone without all the baggage? Someone just a tiny bit more nurturing, if possible."
"Come off it, House. When has anyone in my past ever nurtured me? I wouldn't know how to handle it."
"OK," House said a bit sharply, "so you're saying you enjoyed putting up with my drinking and Vicodin habit?"
Cameron ventured another peek around the corner. Chase and House were now standing face to face behind House's desk. Standing closer than either of them usually allowed anyone else to venture.
"Of course not. That behavior is definitely the weakest point in our relationship. But you know what? It's something I have experience with, and to be honest, you aren't even in the same league as my mother. You can function most of the time, you mostly puke in the toilet, you don't turn mean when you're indulging, and you never lie about it. Dealing with you is a walk in the park."
"You never mentioned it was that bad," House said softly.
"Yeah, well, I usually leave it out of my conversations." Chase paused. "So what's next?"
"I don't know. Are you telling me you want to give this another try?"
"Gee, I don't know, House. Are you going to try to nurture me?"
Both men laughed. "That's Wilson's department," House chuckled. "You'll want to talk to him about that."
Chase's voice turned serious. "I don't want Wilson. I want you."
"Are you forgetting that we just discussed the fact that I'm not nurturing?"
"Well, House, that depends on how you…define nurturing, doesn't it? I can think of some things you might do to improve my mood." A pause. "If you want."
"Oh, I'm pretty sure I want," House replied.
Cameron slid down the wall to sit on the floor with her head on her arms, as she heard the distinct sound of House's office blinds being drawn.