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30 June 2009 @ 01:56 am
seven letter word for liar 14/19  
She wondered if Chase knew where her mind was. She wondered if he cared. She wondered if she should feel guilty that they silent tears welling up in her eyes had little to do with Kutner. She wondered if it would be rude to leave. house, md. part 14

 

xXx

Cameron brushed past Foreman and House’s fellows, quickly pushing her way into House’s office and interrupting him from watching his favorite soap opera. His expression was anything but pleasant.

“What was Cuddy’s bet?” she asked, not bothering to hide her curiosity. The question had prodded her all day long and while she was embarrassed to ask it aloud, especially to House, she really wanted to know the answer.

House leaned to the left, making an obvious attempt to ignore her and continue watching his show.

Cameron’s eyes narrowed in recognition of his attempt to dismiss her.

“Shhh!” he remarked over-dramatically, holding a finger up to his lips.

Cameron rolled her eyes, turning around and hitting the ‘power’ button on the television. She set her hands on her hips and she spun back around to glare at him.

His eyes widened with his usual amusement. “Can’t you find someone else to irritate? Wilson? Cuddy?” He licked his lips slyly. “Chase?”

Cameron refused to give him the satisfaction of knowing that his words had stung.

“Are you going to answer me or are we going to play games?” she asked, exasperated.

“All work and no play keeps the doctor away,” he grinned devilishly.

Cameron smirked. “I think you’re mixing up mantras again,” she replied cooly. She peered out through the glass wall and found Foreman reading a medical journal with vague indifference in his eyes. Kutner sat at the computer, no doubt playing some sort of online game, and Taub hung up his phone, eyeing the computer screen with no particular interest. Thirteen seemed to be nursing a headache, arms folded across the conference table and head resting comfortably on top. Cameron squinted. Or maybe she was sleeping?

Hey,” House snapped. “If you’re going to bug me, then at least allow me the small honor of being the only one you hone your attention in on,” he replied, feigning insult to her looking around the office.

Cameron turned back to him, annoyed. “They get paid for this?”

“Oh, don’t sound so surprised,” House remarked, looking at her curiously. “We don’t have a case. You remember how slow some days were. Or maybe you don’t, what with your old tendencies to sort through my mail and answer my email. Or perhaps you and Chase were too busy smiling dumbly at each other to notice you weren’t doing anything?”

Cameron managed to look unaffected by his harshness. “So you’re insulting me for actually opting to work when we were slow?”

House shrugged. “You got paid either way. Chase did those silly puzzles of his, Foreman either read or pretended not to be sleeping, but you did everything there was left to do.”

“Yeah, you’re right, I have a serious problem,” she remarked, rolling her eyes.

“Actually I have a box full of unopened mail and twelve pages full of unanswered emails, so if you’re not doing anything...”

“My shift starts in ten minutes,” Cameron remarked, ignoring his condescending tone.

“Pity,” House remarked, leaning back in his chair to look at Thirteen. “Thirteen’s useless when it comes to organization. Easy on the eyes like you, but it ends there...”

Cameron sighed, showing her disapproval of his judging Thirteen, although she couldn’t stop a small smile from creeping across her face. “Bye House,” she said lightly, questioning why she’d even bothered to show up in the first place.

“Oh, come on,” House replied, grinning from ear to ear. “That’s it? You’ve given up that easily?”

Cameron shrugged. “I’ve learned that when your mind’s made up, there’s nothing I can do, short of blackmail and bribery to persuade you to do otherwise.”

“You forgot bondage,” he teased.

Cameron rolled her eyes.

House let out an overly dramatic sigh. “Cuddy bet that you would end the relationship,” he said slowly, as if it was killing him to reveal this information.

Cameron perked up. “Really?” she asked, startled.

House nodded. “She said she didn’t think you two would breakup, but if you did, it would be because you realized you were in love with someone else.”

Cameron narrowed her eyes. “She did not.”

House leaned forward, folding his hands together. “Now, the question is...did she win or lose?”

xXx

Cameron’s eyes zoned in on Cuddy, and she quickly snapped her chart shut. She walked quickly over to the administrator, trying to get House’s voice out of her head.

“Cuddy, got a second?” she asked, mustering up as much niceness as she could gather. Her smile, normally natural and easy, looked strange and offsetting.

Cuddy nodded, leading Cameron into a lightly trafficked hallway. “Everything all right, Dr. Cameron?” she asked, always the epitome of professionalism at work.

Cameron nodded slowly. “Yeah, I mean, I’d still take a few more nurses if you could convince the budget committee to spare...”

Cuddy sighed. “We’ve been through this. You were on the budget committee. You know how they work. They won’t consent to...”

“I know, I know,” Cameron said quickly, wondering why she was dodging her main point. “I um...Chase and I...”

“I heard,” Cuddy said simply, but not unsympathetically. “He came to me to get authorization on a risky surgery, and it just sort of spilled out.” She locked eyes with Cameron. “He wants to be with you.”

Cameron nodded solemnly. “I know.” She did.

Cuddy smiled. “You should talk to him.”

“I know,” Cameron repeated.

Cuddy finally began to notice Cameron’s anxiousness. “Is there something else you wanted to ask me?”

Cameron began hesitantly. “It’s about House.”

Cuddy’s eyes brightened. “Oh?”

“He uh, had this...bet,” she began, looking down at the ground and then back up, focusing in on the wall, anywhere but Cuddy’s piercing eyes. “It was a typical House type bet, you know, exciting and completely none of his business, and rather insulting...”

“Sounds familiar,” Cuddy joked.

Cameron smiled. “Were you...it’s just...he said that you were in on it.”

Cuddy blinked and her surprise was genuine. “I don’t think so,” she replied seriously. “Why? What was the wager?”

Cameron shook her head, relief flooding through her. “Never mind,” she insisted, nodding gratefully. “He was just messing with me and being...being...”

“House?” Cuddy offered.

Cameron nodded. “Uh, Dr. Cuddy?”

“Yes?”

“Could you maybe, not say anything to House about this? Wouldn’t want him to think I played right into his childish game.”

“Even though you did?” Cuddy replied, humor in her words.

Cameron nodded.

Cuddy smiled. “Not a problem,” she agreed, walking away.

“Thanks,” Cameron called after her, agitated that House still had the power to make her seem desperate and girlish.

XxX

It seemed unfathomable. Just a day before she’d strolled leisurely into House’s office to procure information from him, and Kutner had been sitting at the computer, same as always, looking a little tired, but mostly pleasant. He’d been sitting there all day long and then he left and went home, like always. Cameron had actually walked out with him, but her beeper went off before they exited the doors. He started to say something to her, and she yelled, “what?”, having already been too far away to hear him, and then he shook his head and yelled, “See you tomorrow”.

So, of course, she wondered if maybe she could have stopped him. Maybe she could have prevented this. Her husband...she couldn’t save him. But Kutner...he had no reason to...

It was strange. They were hardly even friends, barely more than associates, but she wondered if during that brief walk to the hospital parking lot he’d been trying to connect with her, to reach out. He was there when Amber died, and he knew House had enlisted her to help Wilson. Maybe he thought she could help him.

Or maybe she was just thinking too far into things. Maybe he had started to say goodbye, and just repeated himself.

Of course, it didn’t matter...not to anyone, except her. She sometimes hated her role as a doctor, because it placed her among the ranks of generally emotionally stunted people as associates. They would tell her that there was no use dwelling over this scene, replaying it over and over again, because it wouldn’t change anything. He was still dead, and even if she ever figured out an answer, he still would be dead.

It didn’t matter.

But for some strange reason, it did matter to her. She wasn’t feeling guilty. She knew better now. Guilt would get her nowhere and it wasn’t her fault. She knew that much. But the need to know the whole truth tore her up inside.

XxX

She went out to the parking lot, sun blinding her as she squinted, trying to remember where she’d parked. Her new position was supposed to have come with a set parking space, but Cuddy had never gotten around to giving her one. And, not being one to complain, she politely asked once, and then let it go. It wasn’t a huge issue.

Before she could spot her car, a figure stepped in her way. She offered a weak half-smile, unable to muster much else. Too much had happened. She wasn’t in the mood for conversation.

Without saying a word, she followed Chase to his car, opening the door, closing the door, adjusting the seatbelt; all of her responses automatic. She thought about resting her hand on his, but also felt the strong desire to be alone in her grief. She was glad he’d been looking for her, and glad he had found her, but she wasn’t ready to make amends just yet.

They hadn’t talked since that night, the night he’d left that message, and that had been nearly two weeks ago. She called him twice, only twice, and hung up halfway through the third ring. He had caller id. She knew he’d know she'd tried to contact him, then changed her mind.

They rode in silence, and when they arrived at the church, Cameron stepped outside, head reeling. She knew it wasn’t fair, but every funeral reminded her of her husband. Was it right that all she could relate her former husband with was death? He had been a great man, but now, all she could equate him with was absence.

She wondered if Chase knew where her mind was. She wondered if he cared. She wondered if she should feel guilty that they silent tears welling up in her eyes had little to do with Kutner. She wondered if it would be rude to leave.

She saw Cuddy and Wilson, Foreman, and Thirteen. Several nurses from the ER were present, but she made no move to greet them. You didn’t greet people at a funeral. You weren’t glad they were there.

As the speeches went on, she watched as Cuddy bit her lip, struggling to remain in control of her own actions. She saw Wilson’s eyes glaze over and she found comfort in the fact that she wasn’t the only one being transported back in time, back to a more personal tragedy. She saw Thirteen’s body tremble ever so slightly and watched as Foreman stood, torn between comforting her, or playing the House card.

House and Taub weren’t present. This didn’t surprise her.

At the cemetery, she felt Chase by her side, but still, they never said a word. Cuddy seemed more controlled now, eyes looking out blankly and numbly. Wilson seemed worse, and she fought the urge to hug him, to share in his pain, to be understood.

The last coherent thought she could recall having happened the moment Foreman broke through his barrier and clasped Thirteen’s hand, registering a look of shock, and finally relief from her sad face. This familiar gesture made Cameron feel miles away from Chase, as he stood beside her, patiently, trying to do what he thought she wanted him to do. If she reached out her hand for his, all would be forgiven. Even more than that, he’d know that she was ready to let him in, completely. One seemingly insignificant gesture could say so much.

But, Cameron didn’t feel like talking, so she crossed her arms and stared straight ahead.

xxx

She found the ring that night. She was shivering and opened his drawer, looking for warm clothes, mainly thick socks.

It wasn’t even hidden. It was almost as if he wanted her to know it was there, wanted her to know that if she wanted to stay in this thing, he wanted all of her.

She felt no desire to open the box and look at the ring. She didn’t care what it looked like, just what it meant.

She couldn’t sit on her hands forever. She had to decide what was important to her and what wasn’t. She couldn’t bask in grief forever, claiming, she’d loved once and that was enough.

But she couldn’t help but wonder whether Chase deserved more than she could give him. It was ultimately impossible for her to give him everything. She didn’t have it all left to give. She’d surrendered to someone else, and when he died, he took pieces out of her...pieces she’d never be able to repair. Yes, House was right, she was damaged. And maybe she looked for damaged people because she knew she wouldn’t feel guilty about not being able to give all of herself to them...because they couldn’t do the same for her.

Chase was scarred, surely. He was bruised and battered, emotionally worn and spent. But he wasn’t beyond repair. He recovered quite quickly. He was resilient. He’d refused to let anyone take away parts of him. He’d kept intact all of these years, surviving through more than Cameron had ever been through.

Yet, here he was ready to lay it all down on the line, and for her. Wasn’t this supposed to be a dream come true? Shouldn’t she feel elated, and not nauseous?

Her stomach churned as she reached for the phone, undecided which number she would dial. Wilson seemed safest. He’d no doubt be in the same spirit she was in, and he’d help her make a rational decision. He had always been the only one in the hospital who had ever bothered to look out for her. Sure, Foreman had changed a bit, grown. He acted as her big brother some times, but she wasn’t looking for protection, just insight. And deep conversations weren’t Foreman’s strong point.

Of course she could call Chase and try to break through some barriers. In fact, she knew that this was what she ought to do. He was willing to try to make their relationship right. He was willing to fight for her.

Surely her fingers just slipped and hit the wrong buttons. Perhaps in her heightened state of vulnerability she merely managed to dial the wrong memorized number. Perhaps her memory was jumbled. Maybe she didn’t even fully realize what she’d done, until it was completed.

No matter the reasons, a moment later, an audible click could be heard, and Cameron heard the light static and silence that signified someone else was on the line with her.

He didn’t say “hello” and she found herself grateful for the lack of words. Whether he wasn’t speaking because he knew she needed the silence and feeling of being connected with another human being, or because he needed the very same thing, she’d never know.

But she fell asleep on the couch to the sound of his nothingness.

 
 
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