A/N: Rating is primarily an ED/ Self harm mild trigger warning. This is my first attempt at fanfic, so please be gentle :p
This is a requested piece for a friend.
House taps his cane thoughtfully against the whiteboard, his back to the three younger doctors occupying the diagnostics outer office. He lets the irate argument between the two men behind him continue for a while longer, hoping that at least one of the suggestions made will spark a theory before it gets shot down by the other.
"It's too risky; the patient won't make it through surgery like that."
"Unless we get a marrow transplant, all of the tests you've come up with only give us the results after the patient's in the morgue!'
"A transplant will only buy us time, not cure him!"
"Exactly! We use that time to perform the tests!"
House turns to regard Foreman and Chase; both of whom are lent over the table towards each other in this newest and most futile of sparring matches.
"Oh, you two", House chides, wagging his finger at them, "finally coming to an agreement. I was worried I was going to have to give one of you a time out."
Foreman rolls his eyes and checks the papers in front of him.
"Parents adopted the patient and younger sister at ten years. We can check them for a lucky match, but it's unlikely. We should check the sister first, she's the best bet."
"And would probably like to celebrate her fourteenth birthday in the company of her brother!"
House groans inwardly and waits for his third employee to pipe up at this and join the debate. When Cameron's retort doesn't come in its usual 'guns-a-blazin: no cripple, dying woman or orphaned child left behind' manner, House glances over in her direction curiously. Her back is turned to them as she busies herself with the coffee machine, spooning the grounds into the filter. He notices a slight trembling of her hands which is something he's picked up on recently, and, while the current case is relatively interesting, the flutter of his youngest protege's pale fingers- now coupled with her lack of sickly sweet moral guidance- is intriguing.
"An excellent point, Dr Foreman, I suggest we make the parents see it the same way. Cameron, go get consent."
He prepares himself for an argument, but is distracted by a hard rap at the door. Cuddy pokes her head into the room and glares at them angrily.
"Despite the impression you all seem to have, clinic duty is not an optional part of the job. I have two patients downstairs sitting in otherwise empty exam rooms. They've been there for over half an hour!"
"Ah, Dr Cuddy, I see the hormones have kicked in a little early this month. Unless they're dying, thirty minutes isn't the be-all-and-end-all of their health."
He turns back to his team in time to see two things; Chase opening his mouth to express a- no doubt pathetic- excuse, and Cameron bent low over the counter; her hand tightly gripping the cream surface in danger of sending the freshly brewed coffee onto the floor.
"Foreman, Chase, get down to the clinic."
Cuddy barks, before marching off, saving House the trouble of another argument. They gather up their things and leave, grumbling. House ignores them as they brush past, blue eyes boring into Cameron, who still has her back turned to him, and is now exhibiting a slightly more pronounced tremor, with her head bent so low that her long hair spills onto the counter.
"Dr Cameron, care to return to the here and now and go do your job?"
He inquires silkily.
She turns to face him, but it is a slow movement- her hand still gripping the counter for what he now realizes is support- staggering into the motion ever so slightly. Her face is ashen apart from sickly, purple bruising under her eyes, and a thin sheen of sweat stands out on her brow.
He limps towards her quickly and presses two fingers to her throat, but rather then being agitated by his invasion of her personal space, she merely seems confused; eyes not quite focused on his own. Her skin is clammy and her pulse is erratic. House hooks his cane swiftly around the leg of the closest chair and drags it over.
It's a command, and when she doesn't react, House takes a hold of her shoulder to guide her. This firmer touch seems to connect her back to reality, and she shakes her head distractedly, taking a step back.
"It's ok, I'm fine, I-"
Her knees give way suddenly, and House clumsily grabs hold of her upper arms, his fingers digging deep bruises into her flesh through her lab-coat and sweater, his cane rolling under the table. He doesn't succeed in stopping her from hitting the floor, but he slows everything down, and his hold on her arms stops her hitting her head as hard as she would have done on the cabinet behind her.
Her eyes are closed and her breathing is distressingly shallow. House brushes away the hair that has fallen into her face and notes a disconcerting, blue tinge to her lips. He takes her wrist to try for her pulse again, and despite her thick woolen sweater under her lab coat, her skin is icy.
He reaches for his fallen cane in order to head for the door and call for a crash cart. A groan behind him causes him to look back. Cameron blinks at him blearily, before struggling to get up. Realising that this isn't going to be an immediate possibility, she settles for propping herself awkwardly against the counter.
He smiles at her dryly, slowing his pace to the door.
"The princess awakes! Stay put, I am alerting the Calvary."
The way it comes out, it's less of a word than a yelp, and House turns back to her with an eyebrow raised in curiosity. Cameron's eyes are wide as she regards him pleadingly, but he is encouraged to see that she appears to be trying to regain some sort of composure with the rest of her being.
"I mean... I'd really rather you didn't."
"Sorry, Doctor, it's sort of protocol around here to help the weak and sick."
He answers sternly; emphasizing the last three words with jabs of his finger in her direction. She is relieved to see that he is nevertheless walking back towards her again, rather than to the door.
"I'm not weak, and I'm not sick; I'm fine. I just got dizzy, and it's already passing."
She grumbles and pulls her hair clumsily back into a ponytail. He presumes the desired affect is to give herself an air of control, but without makeup and with her current peaky complexion she now looks about twelve.
House takes a seat, back to front, on the chair he had originally pulled out for her to fall into and crosses his arms on the backrest, looking down at her with only partially veiled curiosity. She remains sat against the counter; long legs now pulled into her chest with her arms wrapped tightly round them. She looks up above her awkwardly and House- following her gaze- raises an eyebrow, but leans over her head to carefully fetch the coffee mug and hand it to her. Silence draws out and she sips it tentatively, aware that his gaze is still intently upon her. He rubs the rough stubble at his jaw thoughtfully as he watches faint patches of color return to her cheeks.
"Now, I'm only a doctor, but rudely passing out during a differential is not usually charted as 'fine'. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it was something one should get checked out, incase it is decidedly un-fine... What's interesting, is that you seem very opposed to this piece of medical advice."
She regards him warily from her position on the floor, and dislikes how her current location allows him to look down at her. She tries again to get up, and this time is successful; the sugary coffee giving her a somewhat feverish energy boost. It's not the most agile movement she's ever made, but she manages to make her short journey over to Foreman's recently vacated chair relatively graceful. House continues to study her shrewdly.
"See something green?"
"...Of course, there are two reasons why you wouldn't want me to fetch the girls in pink pajamas; either you don't want to know what's wrong with you, which, as well as making you unbelievably moronic would also suggest you'd be well off considering a career change... Or you know exactly what's wrong with you, but would rather keep that information private..."
"You mean so my boss doesn't spend the next few weeks trying to come up with snarky remarks about how I am, how did you put it? Un-fine?"
"He sounds like a complete bastard; he'll clearly do that anyway."
Cameron surprises him by laughing softly at this before she gets up and saunters over to the door. House watches the enticing swish of her coat thoughtfully.
"So which is it?"
She regards him over her shoulder, raising shaped brows over tired eyes.
"Neither. You're forgetting the third reason; I really did just feel momentarily dizzy- slightly disconcerting but hardly rare- and am now absolutely fine... True, it doesn't provide you with a puzzle, but sometimes things really are just that simple."
"Well then, Dr Cameron, as you're so clearly fighting fit, get your little ass out of here and get the parent's consent on the transplant."
"No; it's completely unethical!"
She snaps, marching smartly out the room, her dark ponytail bouncing pleasantly as she lets the door swing shut behind her. House doesn't bother following her with an argument; he knows her objection is simply childish defiance. If the transplant will save the lives of both children she will do her part, but the fact that she's indulging him by playing to her given stereotype is oddly encouraging.