A/N: Finally. An update to this story including THE cat fight. Or not. I'll let you decide. And yes, in answer to your question, I am evil.
86 – ". . . what would I do if he came back and wanted you? Just runnin' scared, feelin' low. Runnin' scared, you love him so. Just runnin' scared, afraid to lose. If he came back, which one would 'he' choose?" – "Running Scared" – Roy Orbison
As Cameron turned, Cuddy got her first good look at her former employee. Sudden realization upon seeing Cameron's rounded frame shot through Cuddy like lighting through steel, leaving in its wake a not unfamiliar ache in her heart and a hollow feeling in her womb.
There before her stood Allison Cameron. Cameron who at this point in time embodied nearly everything Cuddy herself had ever desired. Cameron was successful, prettier, younger and, most devastating of all, pregnant with House's child.
Hard core rage born of a fierce jealousy bubbled up inside her. Cuddy felt utterly powerless in the grips of her need to violently lash out like a wounded animal.
But the one thought that was able to fight through her disappointment and pain, the one idea that she clutched to her rational mind above the clamor of her own shrieking inner villain who was ceaselessly crying out for revenge was the knowledge that a wholly irrational response would get her nowhere. Cuddy may have been a wounded animal but she was not an unthinking wounded animal.
On the contrary, she was an intelligent woman who knew what she wanted. Or rather, who she wanted.
But oh how she wanted to strike Cameron down. How she wanted to humiliate and crush this unworthy, conniving usurper of House's love. How she wanted to use the younger woman as an example and throw her into the face of a world that had so cruelly denied her the one thing she wanted above all else. How in that moment she wanted to be the means of Cameron's utter destruction and leave her wrecked and barren on some distant shore far from PPTH, far from House.
For Cameron's presence at House's bedside could only mean one thing; she had returned to claim him.
Standing there, flaunting the life inside her, the life that Cuddy had failed to create and that Cameron had seemingly so easily conceived, the life that must of necessity permanently bind her to the man Cuddy loved, filled Lisa with a deep sense of foreboding even as it illuminated the lengths she herself would go to in order to keep House a part of her life.
In that moment in time, Cuddy made her decision. She was not about to let Allison Cameron, pregnant or not, stand in her way now, now that she knew she was in love with House.
She took a wider stance and squared her narrow shoulders, readying herself for a fight. Though emotional, Cuddy was still coherent. She could still make rational choices.
And her choice now was to fight whatever or whoever stood between her and the man she loved, between herself and House. In the immediacy and tension of the moment, Cuddy chose to fight tooth and nail for him, whatever it would take.
That sense of purpose calmed her. It was the quiet before the storm that allowed Cuddy to set herself up in her most lethal persona yet. Lisa Cuddy, woman in love became Lisa Cuddy, high-riding bitch.
"I think before you and House talk, you and I should have a little chat first. Don't you agree?" Cuddy said quietly after taking a steadying breath.
Cameron narrowed her eyes at Cuddy. She felt the strange dichotomy between the quiet of the Dean of Medicine's voice and the thunder of her words. Cameron also noticed Cuddy was standing in front of the door, blocking any chance for escape. Yet escape was the furthest thing from Cameron's mind.
"What did you do to him? Drug him?" she spat.
"This is MY hospital and Gregory House is MY patient. I will do whatever I see fit to protect him."
Cameron chuckled bitterly. "That's rich. You only drugged him so that you could protect yourself and your own . . . interests." She stepped back against House's bed and placed a tentative hand upon his outstretched arm.
Cuddy inhaled deeply, lifting her chin and pushing her shoulders even further back as she did so. "Fine. You want to play it that way? I won't deny it. Yes, I DO have an interest in House. Also in what's BEST for him."
"What's best for House? Or what's best for you alone?"
"Maybe the two aren't mutually exclusive," Cuddy said smiling tightly.
"And you don't think him knowing about his son is best? In what universe is that true?"
"In the universe that is House. In the universe that he's hardly father material."
"So what exactly were you planning to do with your daughter after you two got together?" Cameron countered. "Send her to boarding school until she turns 18?"
"That's none of your business."
"Just as it's none of yours how and when I tell House he has a son."
Cuddy waivered a moment. A son. Cameron was pregnant with House's son. The son she herself had longed to give him. The child she had wanted to give birth to. She shook her head, forcing herself to focus and dive back into the argument.
"And how do we even know it IS House's child? Maybe this is just another of your immature manipulations. Another of your childish fan-girl fawnings over a man who's always been far superior to you in every respect. In intellect, in renown, in . . ."
"Is that what you think?" Cameron let loose a trilling laugh. "How stupid do you think I am? Or he is?"
"How stupid do you think I am to believe that you wouldn't try to entrap House by making him think you're carrying his son when in reality you're really carrying another man's child?"
"Even if I did stoop that low, you don't honestly think that I wouldn't be able to provide House with a DNA test? Him, not you. I don't have to prove anything to you."
Cuddy folded her arms over her chest. "Tests can be faked. And yeah, if you stooped low enough to seduce him months ago when he was vulnerable then there's no end to how low you'd go to try and lure him back to your bed."
Cameron's face lit up with an almost triumphant smile. "So you admit that we made love?"
Cuddy's eyes widened in shock at her own slip before she narrowed them again in determination. "You're still just a little girl with a stupid crush on a man who means nothing more to you than some replacement father figure. Why don't you grow up? Make love? Don't make me laugh. If anything happened, then you f**ked him. And now you're trying to screw him over again. Just like you did two weeks ago at Princeton General when your selfish crush nearly killed him."
Cameron took a step back, reeling slightly. "When I nearly killed him? I saved his life! And it wasn't MY boyfriend who crashed into House's motorcycle and then stabbed him to try and finish the job!"
Cuddy's eyes lessened to mere slits. "How much did Wilson tell you?" she said between gritted teeth.
Cameron laughed again, one short, sharp bark. "You really ARE paranoid aren't you? Wilson didn't tell me anything. He didn't have to. I got all the information I need from other sources."
"Oh that's right. You probably got that from your new best friend Detective Tritter. Whose hatred of House would NEVER make him lie about anything concerning House. Whose stories I'd trust just about as far as I could throw him which is just about as far as I'd trust anything you have to say too. You'll stop at nothing to get what you want. You don't care who you hurt. You led Chase around like a lost little puppy, even tricked him into marrying you and for what? Just to make House jealous? That blew up in your face didn't it? Poor Chase. And now you're trying to do the same thing with Wilson and get him on your side. Worst of all, you're using your own unborn baby as a pawn in your egocentric games. When's it ever going to be enough? When House is shackled to you out of some unrealistic sense of paternal obligation? That's rich! You're barking up the wrong tree with that angle where House is concerned."
"Am I? Then why are you so scared Lisa?" Cameron paused and took a step closer. As she did so, her face darkened.
"Or is this all just a smokescreen? Because if you really thought that, you wouldn't have felt the need to drug him would you?"
Cameron's heart beat faster and her breath came in shorter gasps as she saw an opening in her opponent's formidable defenses. "And even if you DO believe all that, then the sad truth is that you know nothing at all about House. You're in complete ignorance of who House really is as a man, as a human being just as you've always been. You're just narcissistically projecting onto him what you would do, what you think should happen. You're the one being egocentric and petty. Because you're afraid that once House finds out the truth, you could lose him forever."
Cuddy felt a chill go to the marrow of her bones. "I won't lose him. It's not true!"
"It is. And just because you can't have exactly what you want the way you want it, you don't want anyone else to have it either. You know you can never give him a child. I can. I will. And that's what's eating you alive, isn't it?"
Cameron boldly took another step closer. She began speaking lower and more softly as her anger was replaced by pity, pity for the woman who now felt what Cameron had for so many years; that she would never have the man she loved. "You already chose Lucas over House, to adopt a child instead of have one with him. And now, when I can have it all, when I can make House truly happy and give him a son, now you step up to deny him that?"
"You have no guarantee that House will choose you, baby or no baby."
"No. There's no guarantees. The only difference between you and I is that I'm willing to GIVE House a choice."
Cuddy inhaled deeply and held the breath before letting it out and saying very quickly, "You mean to tell me that you intend to tell House that you're carrying his child and then let HIM decide whether he'll come back to you?"
Cameron felt her throat tighten. Unable to speak, she simply nodded her head.
Cuddy stood there stunned and blinking before she was able to sputter, "And you're willing to live with his decision? Even though he's already rejected you a thousand times before, even after he dumped you right after you say you slept with him?"
Cameron still silent, nodded once more.
Cuddy's eyes widened. There seemed to flit there in the blue-green depths all the fear and pain of losing House. But now there was also a new emotion. She looked at Cameron with respect. The hateful beast within her was mollified as she saw in Cameron the same fears and flaws that lived within her own breast, saw in her who she once was so long ago in Michigan: a woman who had fallen desperately in love with a man who'd never called her, never written after one night of giving him her all.
In many ways, there were so many parallels. They were the same she and Cameron, united in their imperfect love for a very imperfect man.
"All right," Cuddy said quietly. "I don't know . . . I don't see how . . . if you prove the child you're carrying really is House's. Wilson as an impartial judge can order the DNA tests. If it turns out you're carrying House's . . ." Cuddy felt her own throat constrict with emotion. ". . . baby. And you're STILL willing to let House make his own decision, then . . . then there's nothing I can do about that. I won't be the one to stand in his way. I won't keep anyone from their own child."
Cameron stood there dumbfounded.
"BUT, you listen to me. If it turns out your baby is NOT his. Or if House DOESN'T choose you, you have to promise that you'll stop all this . . . all these games. All this energy spent on something and someone you'll never have. You have to promise to give him up. Forever."
The tears came quickly to Cameron's eyes once more as she nodded her agreement for the last time.
Cuddy felt her own eyes welling up as she looked again at the younger woman and all that she was in that moment. For in that moment, she was all that Cuddy had found she ever wanted to be.
"If your baby is House's," Cuddy said, her voice breaking, "And he still doesn't choose you, then you also have to promise to let him see his son, let him be a part of his life. That's not only in your baby's best interests, but House's as well. Do you promise to do that too?"
"The baby IS House's. And House WILL choose us," Cameron said, her voice barely above a whisper.
"But if he doesn't?"
Cuddy nodded. "Okay. House should be asleep for another couple of hours. Do you want to wait here or do you want to . . ."
Cameron coughed. "I'll wait here. I have to get this over with. House deserves to know the truth, for his sake, for all our sakes."
Cuddy nodded again. "Do you want to rest awhile? You can use the couch in my office."
"I'd rather go down to the cafeteria and get something to eat."
"I'll have Wilson call you as soon as House wakes up."
"'kay," Cameron whispered as she turned to leave.
Cuddy wanted to say something but the words just wouldn't come. Instead, she simply watched as the younger image of her own life, what could have been if things had gone differently in Michigan slid the door closed behind her and walked away, taking every last vestige of hope that Cuddy possessed with her.
Cameron's head was spinning as she stepped onto the elevator. Her hopes of talking with House, hearing his voice as sacred as a prayer had been completely destroyed by Cuddy's shrill attack upon her. And yet, Cuddy had in the end, agreed to let House decide, to trust House.
The elevator arrived at her floor and she walked out. It was impossible. The only thing that could make Cuddy relinquish control was only . . . Cameron felt sick to her stomach. They were all, all so deeply committed and all in danger of being washed away by the fears and doubts of their own selfish needs.
Her mouth was unbearably dry by the time she reached the cafeteria so the first thing she did was take a bottled water from the cooler near the cashier. She cracked it open and took a swig before paying for it. Yet the cooling liquid did nothing to quench her thirst.
Oh no. The last voice she wanted to hear and yet at the same time, the one she needed to hear. The familiar lilt of an Aussie accent still reverberated in her ears as she slowly turned to see Chase, a look of utter surprise on his face, hurrying toward her.
The surprise was replaced by a smile as bright as the noonday sun that crossed her ex-husband's handsome features and made her smile in reply. Chase. With all the questions and tumult that surrounded her, his love for her had never wavered, had never been in doubt.
Her heart felt lighter as she looked into his eyes and saw the love that still existed there wrap her in its warm embrace like an old familiar blanket. His bright smile and look of affection were the last things she saw as a white hot shock of pain flashed through her head.
There was nothing she could do. She closed her eyes in response to the pain as she heard the sounds of Chase's accented voice yelling for help and the soft thud of her own body crumpling heavily to the floor.