You're All I Have
"There is a darkness deep in you
A frightening magic I cling to"
Shoe one, shoe two, jacket, purse.
She sometimes just stopped, shaking her head, about her stupid little rituals. She can be so messy sometimes – most people around her wouldn't believe –, why she has to have these regular rushes of accurateness then? Counting her steps in the street, onetwothreefour-fivesixseveneight – she's not even into music too much. Counting how many times the comb brushes through her hair. Or, like now, admitting the steps of arriving home to herself.
She pulled an index finger through the edge of a shelf. Could be worse. No cleaning up today. (Not as if anyone would complain, even the landlord hadn't come around for months now.) No way. Not after today. She merited the rest.
Stretching her legs finally, with a (normally) totally distracting book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, she still couldn't stop her thoughts from violently revolving around one particular moment of the day.
I don't want you to be giddy with success.
This one and only sentence had been all she finally had managed to force out of him. It had been said in a most phlegmatic way, not even said, just thrown somewhere into her direction, with a let me go tone.
Not a truly satisfying explanation from a boss.
But the reason she couldn't get rid of these thoughts of an unlikely hidden meaning was not that simple.
He knew she still was a probationer and he knew the choice would be hers whether to stay or leave. She had three excellent positions offered up her sleeve: with Markson at Johns Hopkins, with Lauren at St. Luke's and with Yule at Jefferson. But despite the intimidating reputation, she couldn't resist accepting the one with The Dr. House.
Who now, for some reason, tries to discourage her, that's for sure.
First she hadn't taken it personally. She had seen one or two things from superiors, and heard some about her present boss' beside manner. He's having a rainy day, she had explained the unashamed and almost wicked innuendos in the first days. But later on she had been getting unsure. Can a man have a bad day everyday? She'd already known though that behavior wasn't everything. She knew he was an excellent doctor, he can allow himself not to bother with politeness, at least not when alone with his employees. He must be doing this for better efficiency: let's leave the babble out, get straight to the point and cure the patient. Moreover his pushing had been quite inspiring too, for her and obviously for her two co-workers as well. When you have to prove your competence each and every second of the differential, your brain comes up with ideas you would never think of if you worked half-heartedly.
These excuses had worked perfectly until the first comment about Foreman's criminal record (moreover with an unveiled racist message), followed by one about Chase's accent in a dizzyingly short time. First she hadn't believed her ears and had been short of breath. There can't be a pardon for a personal attack, committed clearly for its own sake. She couldn't help giving House a killing look. She never had been good in disguising what on her heart was. To her shock, he'd returned it with a totally unexpected one. In the narrowed steel-blue eyes there had been smugness, challenge and – curiosity?! As if he had directed his words straight to her, to see what her reaction would be. But that's foolish: why he wanted to taunt her, her of all people? She hadn't even seen a sign of him noticing she was a woman. Or that she would be different in any way.
After a few seconds, he'd been the one breaking the eye contact, returning to the white board. She had raised an eyebrow, but then focused her thoughts back on the patient's file.
Days passed and sarcastic verbal pokes stayed by. Except towards her. She had been confused and getting slightly annoyed, already dreaded when the guys would spot this kind of preferring and start mocking (or worse, envying or hating) her being House's pet. He hadn't had the right to keep her in such an uncomfortable situation. But the thing that had made her upset the most had been that she had had no clue about his intentions for doing that. Of course there had been the obvious, but that hadn't been there. It had crossed her mind, but after a few days of keen observation she had had to state he didn't give a damn about her as a woman. Honestly, he didn't seem to give a damn about anybody as a woman. Not counting the ever-present comments about Cuddy's – Dean of Medicine – cleavage, but those were clearly just for pissing her off, which seemed to be one of his favorite occupations. This obvious asexuality and the amount of time spent with Dr. James Wilson, head of Oncology, started a train of thoughts (not only for her, but also boosted the hospital gossip mill), but she dropped this option as well when she heard about Wilson's particular interest in (female) nurses. Not to mention that she could hardly picture her grumpy boss skipping through a meadow, hand in hand with a man, with cheery squeals.
Couldn't he dig up anything embarrassing about her? She doubted that. His basic instinct of spotting the slightest details made him close to a genius. And he had a particular talent for smelling lies.
She sat up, tucked her legs beneath herself and wrinkled her brow anxiously. Had he figured out something? He doesn't treat her like crap because – he's sorry for her?!
She shook her head. She wouldn't want that. She had learnt to separate work from personal life – at least while doing the previous. Those brief but regular periods of time spent sobbing in an outlying area of the hospital were a horse of another color.
She couldn't help getting seized by an ice-cold dread each time she had to face death. Not the sudden one that shot like God capturing a pawn in some giant chess game (not that she didn't feel extremely small feeling the spark of a mystery called life going out between her helpless hands), but she hated to see that indefinable something in people's eyes who knew the inevitable was close. That their future was not an open horizon anymore, like for the rest of us. And she hated that she had to see they didn't become any special by the closeness of death. They accurately followed the well-defined stages of grief. They lost their individuality in the end.
She wiped her eyes with the heel of her hand. Now she'll never know why she couldn't leave this attitude: because she subconsciously drew a parallel with her own life or that was just what her nature was like. Not sure, because she couldn't remember what it felt like to be younger than 21 anymore.
"Foreman: do an MRI. Chase: tox screen. Cameron: get a family history – this time a useable one, adverting to children's illnesses. On you marks, get set, go!" – with this, he returned to the white board, his brain working hard to figure out what they were missing. Honestly, he just sent his ducklings away to be able to think without any distraction. True, their ideas were not that foolish either, but he was almost sure that none of these tests would come back positive. Would be too evident. And Occam's razor doesn't work on this case.
But something distracted him anyway. A tiny sound, almost like a tweet. He turned around and noticed that the source of it was nothing but his youngest and most silent employee, clearing her throat. He gave her a reproachful look.
"I didn't know my voice had become inaudible for females. Interesting phenomenon. Maybe I should write an article about it! Or do you want it? You seem more a typing kind."
She didn't recoil, kept staring with decided eyes straight into his, but was giving away her nervousness with licking her lips and hands visibly knuckled in her lab coat pockets. He rolled his eyes. He knew this was coming, could predict weeks ago from the angry sparks in her eyes and the disappointed voice whenever she tried to contradict him and failed. They have to get over this.
"Oh for sure if you're immune to my voice, you couldn't hear my last sentences either. What..." – he drew a huge question mark into the air with his cane-free hand – "...can I..." – he pointed to his chest – "...do..." – he almost made a completely indecent movement, but stopped in mid-air – "...for you?" – instead of an index finger, he held out his palm towards her, with a fake politeness, slightly bowing his head.
Cameron's mouth twitched, but she managed to suppress her smile. Yet she rolled her eyes – a boss fooling around in such an exaggerated way was still odd for her.
"We have to talk." – she finally declared.
Great, she found the one sentence he hated to hear the most.
He sighed, grabbed a chair from the table and lumped down into it. He sat back comfortably and started to swing, balancing with his good leg. He smirked contentedly and cheeky at how much this stunt was scaring her.
"We don't have to, but we will. About...?"
"Not sure which part of it you mean exactly. But I suppose you're not pissed off about the way I brushed my teeth in the morning."
"I was right. I was the one figuring out she was lying about birth pills. I know, we are a team, but..."
"You have a point there..."
"But you twisted the whole thing so that in the end it seemed as if you were the genius coming up with the idea!"
"I'm older. I'm taller. Probably I'm stronger too. I have a primacy with ideas."
"Okay listen now. This is how we work. That's what differential diagnosis is all about. Your idea, my idea, ninety percent is proven to be nonsense; one is the right one we can cure the patient with. Almost an accident. You're not any smarter or a better doctor if you are the one coming up with that right one. You're just the lucky one."
"If it works the way you're saying, why don't you just work with computers that give you random explanations for input symptoms?"
"Because that's not how medicine works. We have general schemes, but each case is individual and changing each moment. Especially in our department. And you have to be able to react immediately to the change, throw your whole theory away, if necessary, and start it all over again. Or even gather information, which seem totally irrelevant, and add to or subtract them from the puzzle. Machines can't do that."
"Are you trying to say there must be humans to treat humans?"
"No. Treating illnesses is why we became doctors, treating patients is what makes most doctors miserable."
There was a moment of silence. Then her indignation surfaced again.
"Anyway, you embarrassed me. In front of my colleagues, who can spread gossips about me, and spoil my reputation I'm trying hard to build. You know I'm still not sure where to end working."
"But momentarily I'm your boss."
"Exactly. And I don't feel that you would appreciate me or my ideas too much. You don't even let me show what I can do."
"It's possible you're a bit lost. We're saving lives in here. Doing our best to solve the puzzle before we run out of time. This is a call, not just a good springboard. If you need to be cherished and praised every moment of the work, this is just not the right place for you."
These were hard words for her to hear, but she knew she was close and she couldn't let herself be outfaced now. In contrast with her last, almost shouted sentences, she continued in a forced calm, low voice.
"Then why don't you mock me like the others? Why don't you try to make me stronger?"
There was a sharp sound as House's chair tipped back on the floor. He stood up, turned his back to Cameron and started pouring himself some coffee, visibly just as concentrated as performing brain surgery.
She was waiting patiently for some seconds. But when she understood she wouldn't get any answer, she couldn't stop the question that didn't leave her alone for days, from bubbling over.
"Why did you hire me?"