Chapter One: Fermat's Enigma

Allison Cameron did not call in sick to work. Other doctors called in sick to work, leaving her with a backup of patients in the ER and a shortage of help. When she was sick, she made sure to change her gloves often and wore a mask to prevent the spread of germs, and along with other precautions, she went about her day.

Allison Cameron also did not take time off from work. Once, Cuddy forced her to take time off since she had accumulated so much, and she had enjoyed herself, but she called to check in every other day and she brought mountains of paperwork with her. Being a department head didn't necessarily mean being like House; in fact, it could mean being quite the opposite.

Chase came into the ER sometime around noon on this particular Thursday, with some silly excuse that he needed to get some gloves since his entire department was out. Cameron had no time for this, since she had just broken up with him less than a week ago. Just as she was turning to pick up another chart, he grabbed her shoulders. She involuntary jerked away from his touch.

"Allison," he said, his accent thick, "Come on, something's wrong. You've lost weight… do you have a fever? Why don't you come over tonight and we can talk about things?"

"Robert, I can't… we can't. I can't keep doing this, and I'm really busy right now, so if you don't mind…" She swayed a little bit.

"Of course not," said Chase, warily defeated. "Go get checked out, though, the flu's going around."

"Bye, Chase," she said as she turned to a new patient, wiping sweat from her brow. She understood it was winter, but did they have to keep it so hot in here?

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Later that night, she found herself in the locker room, in front of the full length mirror, in her underwear. "Nice, Allison," she muttered to herself. It would just happen, of course, that the one time she didn't want to lose weight she happened to drop a few pounds like that.

"Very nice, Allison," said a voice behind her, and she grabbed her towel, damp from her shower, embarrassed.

"Sorry," came the very not-sorry voice of Dr. Greg House, a childish smile on his face.

Cameron blushed and turned towards the other doctor. "No problem. What are you doing here?" she said coolly, long since learned how to deal with awkward situations due to her years with her old boss.

She pulled on her jeans and a tank top, and twisted her damp hair into a bun on top of her head.

"I wanted to know... are you alright?" he asked.

"My-" she began, and then stopped. "Yeah, I'm fine." She couldn't believe she came so close to saying that out loud. Not that he mattered; she just hadn't actually verbalized what happened yet, not even to Chase, before they broke up. Her little secret.

"Your?" asked House, but he didn't expect an answer. Cameron gathered up her bags to go.

"I wanted to know if you want to grab some coffee?"

"Um... Yeah, let's go, who needs sleep when there's coffee," said Cameron with a smile.

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Thirty minutes later, they were seated across from each other in a nearly empty café near the hospital. Cameron slowly sipped her tea while House ate a big cookie.

"You're sick," said House.

"Am not," said Cameron, knowing it was not one of her better comebacks.

"You are sweating, yet you are huddled in your sweater, you have a sore throat, that's why you chose tea over coffee, and your eyes are red and puffy, yet I see no trace of tears. I'm guessing there's also a headache, since your blinking is off and you're touching your temples, and you probably took something for the runny nose at the ER."

"Coffee date is now diagnostics date?" deflected Cameron.

"Is now a date?" asked House with a smirk. "You have the flu."

"I'm fine, the ER is about to be massively busy these next few days, and we're down a few doctors from vacations. I don't have time to be sick. Besides, I take precautions not to infect any patients."

"And why, Dr. Cameron, would you need to take precautions if you weren't sick?" House felt Cameron's forehead and felt, as expected, a moderate fever.

Cameron backed away from her former boss's hand on her forehead, unsure of where her walls suddenly sprang up from. Then, deflecting as always, checked her watch, and realized she needed to get home, though she wasn't sure to what. She had no boyfriend anymore, no pets, no curfew, no… anything.

"I have to go, House, it's been, interesting…"

"Goodbye, Dr. Cameron, take care of yourself."

"Bye, House,"

And then she was gone. He watched her drive out of the parking lot, and looked into her teacup which wasn't even half empty. He knew there were more pieces to this puzzle, He just couldn't see them all yet.