Afterwards, she thinks a lot more.

She thinks about love and need. Ravioli and puttanesca. Delusions. Flowers that have been crushed, figuratively and not-so. Mostly, she comes back to the first. Love and need.

You're wrong are the words she clings to, and she'd like to believe they're true. More true than his words, anyway.

It's hard.

-

I want to know how you feel. About me.

About me.

About me.

-

He acts like nothing ever happened. It's what she expected and it surprises her.

She tries to follow his lead, without really knowing why. Maybe it's to impress him. Maybe it's because it's right.

Whatever the case, she acts as normal as can be expected, all things considered.

But sometimes she stares at him, and other times he catches her, fixing her with a look—plastic, purposeless—too familiar for comfort.

-

Over hospital cafeteria food and absently-prepared coffee, she thinks about his words. She views them in fragments.

Delusion. Love. Need. Damaged.

Something picks at her, constantly. She isn't sure what it is, but it's there—vague, nagging, steady. It keeps on, there, pulsing quietly beneath the surface. She doesn't have any idea how to find it or what to do with it if she ever does find it.

It's all too much. Too much.

-

She feels fragmented herself, after everything. Like the whole world is made of little shards that don't fit together all the time and never make sense. Her heart fell into pieces and she put it back together with tape and glue; only those things only work in grade school. Not in the real world. Not here.

-

One day, she's in the lab recalibrating yet another centrifuge and she suddenly starts crying.

Her hand shakes as she presses it to her mouth. She blinks quickly, several times, and shakes her head, trying to clear it up. She doesn't understand at all. What the hell is wrong with her?

She lets out a long sigh.

From behind her, he says, "Done with that yet?"

She jumps, badly startled. She bumps something and hears the tinkle of glass on glass. Shit. Why does he always find her here? Is it some kind of curse, or—

"Cameron?"

She lets out a shaky breath. "Hi." Her voice wavers, too much. "What's up?"

She can practically hear his eyes narrowing, his brain clicking. "Nothing. You?"

"Nothing. Just finishing up with this." She gestures somewhere in the general direction of the place in front of her. She takes in a breath.

She doesn't hear him until he's right behind her, and his hand is on her shoulder, and then he's turning her around and looking right into her widened eyes. She stares right at him, stunned. His eyes are blue and crystal and piercing. Looking at her.

Looking right at her.

After several long seconds, he takes his hand away. His eyes are still on her. "What's going on?"

She keeps her gaze fixed on him. She is not willing to let this go. Not yet. She has his eyes on her and she is not letting it go. "It's nothing," she replies, quiet.

"Just because you say the words with certainty doesn't mean I'll listen."

"I know."

"Well, then."

There's a silence.

"You wouldn't listen anyway," she tells him eventually, looking at him one last time as she steps around and leaves the lab.

-

You live under the delusion—

No, she thinks. Stop.

Just. Stop.

-

The next day, she approaches him in the office and, in the most neutral tone she can manage, she announces, "I'm mad at you."

He looks up at her. Again. "Okay," he says carefully after a moment.

Okay? No. Not this time.

"I'm not done," she says, a little louder as she walks up to his desk and locks on him, harder.

He glances down briefly, then back up. "Okay," he says again.

She takes in a deep breath.

And then she stops.

She wants to yell at him. She wants nothing more than to scream and slap him and let him know just how confused she is—just how confused he's making her. She wants to kill him. She wants to kiss him. She wants everything to go back and she wants it to stay right here.

But more than anything, she just wants to stop. Just for a moment.

"Well?" His look is expectant. "You going to yell at me? Tell me how hurt you are that I don't return your feelings?"

"Stop it," she murmurs, almost in a dream.

He stands up. "You knew what was going to happen when you went out with me. So why are you surprised?"

She tries to think. Breathe in. Breathe out.

He's in front of her now, and their gazes meet. His is quietly observant, reading.

And she can't take it. Because he doesn't have the right to know, does he?

He gave up. He gave her up. And so he does not get to know.

Before she knows what's going on, she slaps him across the face, hard.

-

I have one evening with you. One chance.

You don't love. You need.

I'm damaged.

-

I meant what I said.

-

The next day, she only looks at him long enough to see that she didn't leave a mark on his face. It doesn't surprise her. She never leaves a mark.

She's about to leave with Foreman and Chase when House stops her with a motion. "You. In my office."

She bites her lip. Foreman and Chase look from him to her. Confused, a little. Worried. A little.

Finally, they all stand up. She follows him into his office. The others leave.

She slips her hands into her pockets. "What?" she asks curtly.

"You hit me yesterday. I want to know that it won't happen again."

"I quit, you know," she tells him. "I could quit again if I wanted to. Is that what you want?"

"You won't quit again. Not for now, at least."

Her eyes narrow darkly. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"You blackmailed me into a date when you could have stayed home alone in your cozy apartment," he says, stepping carefully towards her. Circling, she thinks. "You could have gone to that other job you had. But you didn't. You came back because you wanted to. Because you didn't really want to leave."

"I did want to leave," she insists. "I—"

"You came back."

"But I won't always."

That gives him pause. She sees it and grabs on fast, continues. "I won't always come back. One day I'll just—I'll stop coming back. And I won't be here anymore. I won't always be here. It's the truth, whether you care or not."

He sighs. "I know."

She takes a step toward him, shaking. "Then why?"

She doesn't know what she's just asked. She doesn't know what she's asking for. Still, she's confused.

He doesn't know what she's asked, either. Or maybe he does.

She still can't read him, even after everything.

"I don't know," he says.

-

You're wrong.

You're wrong.

I believe that you are wrong.

-

It's all sudden, and fast, and later, she will not remember the moments between her standing in front of him and her mouth crushing his.

She kisses him hard, furiously, pushing all the anger and lust and self she has, through his lips and down his throat. She twists her fingers in his hair—brutally, with half a mind to tear him apart right there. She kisses with her teeth and she's practically snarling at him as he pushes right back at her.

Between their lips, she inhales sharply as he drops a hand to the small of her back and pulls her closer. She's panting and shaky, breathing heavily as he presses into her.

His lips brush softly against her ear. A whisper.

"You'll stay. For now, you'll stay."

-

What are you doing here?

I work here.

Please tell me you took him to the cleaners?

No.

Then…why'd you do it?

-

He's right, she thinks.

It always comes back to him being right.


Oh, I love this episode. It's full of angst. I do love my angst. :)

I was originally thinking that maybe I'd write a sequel to i carved your name across my eyelids. It still can be—if you squint, you will find a couple of veiled references. But this is written to be a stand-alone post-ep, so reading the previous one isn't required (though I wouldn't mind if you did, lol).

For some reason, I seem to like writing Brunette!Cameron better than Blonde!Cameron. Hmm…

Well, that's about all. Thanks for reading, folks!