Gregory House, M.D. (doctorgreghouse) wrote in willingtoliefor,
Gregory House, M.D.
doctorgreghouse
willingtoliefor

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Sometimes Good Just Isn't Enough

[[Note: I'm formatting this the way I'd gotten used to, since there are quite a few interconnected threads going and I wanted to make sure I remembered.]

House, open to Cameron[potentially a surprise visitor, if one is plotwise so inclined]
Middle-of-the-night, after his shouting match with Cuddy and his argument with Wilson. Before this thread.

Note: Some rather adult themes in this one.]



If you don't expect things to work out, if you always expect to have control, then one of two things will invariably happen: you'll either have a much easier life than the rest of the ant farm... or everything, sooner or later, is going to blow up in your face.

Gregory House understood the desire for control.

It made sense to him, made everything fall into neat little boxes, quantifiable data. Take everything that's scattered around your feet in pieces, and put it together into a pattern. Find the thing that's pushing your buttons, and strangle it into a harness, make it work for you.

Control.

Unfortunately, this time it wasn't that easy.

He'd spent the better part of the time brooding viciously about his argument with Cuddy in her office; every time he did think about it, the urge to find her wherever she happened to be at that particular time of day and smack her was deliciously tempting. He kept telling himself -- and it was the honest truth, actually -- that he was less worried about the slam to his ego than about the stupidity she was stupidly letting herself get carried away with.

And yeah, part of it might be selfish, too: she was the boss, after all. And no matter how much he pushed and provoked her, she'd kept him on the payroll: four other administrators had long ago decided that his snark wasn't worth his salary. And if he lost the job, he really had nothing to buffer him, to keep him going, nothing to keep his mind off the pain and to bolster his sense of usefulness, no puzzle to throw up between him and the world he hated so badly. No function for Dr. House.

Nothing to keep you alive, you mean. Let's be honest, here, Greg.

But that wasn't all of it, and he spent most of the afternoon and early evening fervently denying that to himself: bemused as he screwed around in his office for the last couple hours, swallowed two Vicodin with the last of the coffee, threw his crap into his knapsack and crutched his way to the parking lot; irritated as he kicked his bike up to sixty-five, then seventy, on the freeway, taking a much longer and dangerous route than he actually needed to take.

Frustrated and bitter, as he cane-paced his silent apartment, spent forty minutes pounding out his fury on the piano -- composing, scrapping, playing a random medley of notes fast and loud and carelessly -- and downed the first of many amber shots from a plastic drive-through cup. Irate, as he waited for the pain in his leg to ease, waited for the pain in his leg to ease, and finally sprawled himself out on the sofa to part pale skin with the tapered edge of a needle, dark red flowers blooming in the barrel and blessed, whitewashed relief... for a little less than an hour.




By the time he got to irate, he already had a hand on the phone.

By the time the door opened, exactly fifty-seven minutes later, he'd been drinking directly from the bottle and watching Steve McQueen sniff aimlessly at a few stale potato chips as House himself worked one fist, over and over: open, closed. Open. Closed. Open.

Closed.

In the history of humankind, there have been many murderously bad ideas.

This... turned out to be one of them.

He hadn't expected it to take long; by the time the girl showed up at his door it was already late, he was already half out of his mind, and all he needed was a distraction. Simple. Easy. No complications. Besides, his mind was as rich and varied and intense as it ever was at a podium or in the Diagnostics office, and by the time they'd dispensed with the pseudo-small talk he was already, painfully hard.


What he hadn't counted on were the surprises.


Everything went fine, sure; there was the usual rote come-on, the usual rote answer, the usual rote promise of things to come... but House wasn't interested in foreplay. He'd gotten out of his sportcoat and sneakers, she was half-straddling him on the sofa, check -- his leg would have been a screaming agony by now if it hadn't been for the opiates and the bourbon: it was worth it, because he simply never let any of them see the ruin of his right leg. He'd learned his lesson in one sole encounter, that way: the resulting look of disgust that even a professional hadn't been able to completely conceal or turn into a faux-lustful look had ended that night REAL quick. He'd thrown a hundred-dollar bill at her and told her to Get the hell out, just get OUT, NOW, and shut the fucking door BEHIND you.

...with her one hand under his red T-shirt and the other at his belt, and everything was simple, was supposed to be simple, everything was fine until the world stopped, Hell froze over and Gregory House found himself -- alcohol, drugs, exhaustion, fury, stress -- almost outside himself... realizing that no, this was not what he wanted.

Or who he wanted, at any rate.

That realization left him cold, disgusted, wanting to laugh and scream and then laugh some more -- he was fairly convinced that that wasn't even true, what the fuck, how could it be? But this... this... girl, with her overdone makeup and her forced leer, wasn't it, any way you sliced it.

He'd shoved her off harder than he intended -- he might be a bastard, but he wasn't an abuser -- and she'd started in on him right away, what the fuck's wrong with you, you stupid son of a bitch, what's your damage, is it only your leg that doesn't work? and he'd grabbed her by the shoulders, and afterward he wasn't even ever sure if he'd managed to make peace with her and compromise, or what. He was pretty sure that he had, after all: he was good that way.

And it wasn't as if he didn't have experience.


Twenty minutes later, she'd gotten up, given him that long, oh-so-professional "smoldering look" that girls seemed to think horny men wanted[when House had, in fact, found that particular look to be more bizarrely bemusing than anything; he preferred realistic, thank you very much], straightened her vinyl skirt, and gone into his bathroom to... well. He assumed it was something involving his last quarter-inch of mouthwash, but he didn't like to ponder that too hard. And even now, the fury, the frustration, weren't even tamped down.

They had merely abated a little.


And now they had begun to move into maudlin.


It must have been only a few minutes after that when House, still clenching one fist with his head sprawled back against the sofa and gritting his teeth at the ceiling, had decided to get up -- the girl was putting the last pieces of her oh-so-stylish outfit back together, including this strange little black hat -- and take a shower, peeling off his shirt as he went. He wasn't particularly worried about his "companion" stealing anything from the house: he was a good customer, after all, and it wasn't as if he couldn't afford to replace it.

Plus, the Vicodin was safely stashed in his jacket, discarded carelessly in his bedroom.

He'd limp-dragged just to the hallway when someone pounded on the front door. What the hell? Maybe if I ignore them they'll just go away... but even as he stood there, the knock came again -- louder, more insistent this time.

"Just... see who it is on your way out," he told her, shrugging: right now, he was utterly beyond Giving A Shit and about five miles out from Pure Apathy. "If it's Wilson, send 'im in. I'll be in the shower."

He dropped a wad of bills from his wallet onto the counter, and headed for the bathroom.
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Cameron was never sure what to expect when House opened his door --- zoo animals careening in the background, Wilson strung up like a pinata, and a hoard of rats were all legitimate possibilities, she figured --- but seeing a woman of a certain color behind the door wasn't quite it. Before she had time to fully process the image, her jaw dropped slightly and her hands flew up to cover her mouth. "I'll --- I'll come back."

"Are you Wilson?" the woman replied, pulling at her top. "House said to send you in." There was a note of boredom in the woman's voice and she was hitching up her purse as she delivered the message.

Well, this was interesting on multiple levels, Cameron thought: Foreman and Chase were right about the hookers, and Wilson already knew. This was very interesting, but also a bit disgusting, disconcerting, and generally off-putting. Shoving that aside, Cameron regained the power of speech enough to say, "Yes, I'm Wilson." The woman moved out of the doorway to admit her, then walked out. "It was nice meeting you," Cameron called behind her.

Inside House's apartment, Cameron shut the door behind her and leaned against it for a moment, trying to regain her breath and composure. "House?" she said into the empty room. There was a mostly empty bottle on the table and a pill bottle; Cameron flinched instinctively. House was either going to be very, very hungover or very, very happy when he finally appeared, but either way, it was unlikely this confrontation would go well.

"House?" she said again, taking a few steps into the room and toward the hallway. "House, it's Cameron. We---we need to talk. Where are you?"
Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

He'd managed to get out of his jeans -- oddly, they smelled faintly of bourbon and, less oddly, that weirdly unique and persistent hospital smell that never quite went away -- and his rumpled, currently half-twisted boxers, turning the shower on as hot as he could stand it and finally dragging himself in, groaning when the heat hit his tightly-wound shoulders.

For a long few minutes he simply stood there, leaning against the wall, head bent to allow the water to pound at the back of his neck, eyes closed.

Distractions. Where you went when you wanted everything to stop being so goddamn sloppy, so messily complicated. When you wanted to clear your head. But even now, three-quarters loaded and tired, his head didn't feel much closer to clear.

I need a case, he thought fiercely, holding onto that thought as he tipped his head down and let the brutally hot water run into his hair. That's what's wrong with me. The hell with the rest of this bullshit, it's my mind that's the problem. I'm spinning gears and there aren't any trucks to roll over. Just... something, pieces to put together. Something to give me back my focus.

And, he thought with wry amusement, that obviously-new-on-the-roster working girl hadn't been it.

He wouldn't think about any of this. He wouldn't think about any of this, and when he was done in here he'd go and finish the rest of his booze, crawl into bed, and set his alarm a little later than usual. He was pretty sure he could slip by with getting to the hospital just before eleven, maybe even eleven-thirty; his death sentence, er, clinic hours weren't supposed to start until noon.

As he was rubbing almost trance-like at his shoulder, enjoying the tactile pleasure of hot water, he heard faint footsteps and an even more faintly familiar voice: but beneath the thunder of the shower, he couldn't quite make it out. "Wilson?" he shouted, tilting his head. "I'm down here, since when are you shy? Come in!"
It was nice apartment Cameron thought. She'd known that the first time she'd seen it, but that was brief. The temptation to stay in the main room for a moment was strong -- there was the piano to inspect, the bookcases to scan, the furniture to admire -- but she decided against it, focusing on the alcohol instead. This was just like any other patient's home: look for what's relevant, ignore the furnishings. And it wasn't as if House was going to be any happier to see her if she complemented his taste in furniture.

She began down the hallway, noticing the state of the kitchen as she passed, then went into the bedroom. Hearing the shower, she quickly turned away, staring at anything but the bathroom door. Since when are you shy? she heard, and under the water and through the door, it sounded like another one of House's mocking questions.

Cameron took a deep breath and opened the bathroom door. Some small part of her brain chanted Please don't let him be high on acid again but she stood her ground. "House!" she said firmly. "We need to talk."
Mmmmph. The hot water was starting to do its work, relaxing the tense lines of his shoulders and battering the frustration out of his limbs. He'd stood there and faintly zoned for a few minutes - although, he mostly lost track of exactly how long - letting alcohol and opiates buffer out the fact that he felt like he'd simply implode if he didn't so something soon.

He rubbed at tired muscles, making sure to clean up after his dubious adventures[they had used a condom, of course - which now that he thought about it in his booze-hazed way he thought was probably still discarded in the toilet - but hygiene was always a good thing], scrubbing at his hair. He was in the process of briefly pondering just dropping down to sit under the relaxing overhot water until he dozed off right where he was, when he heard a voice from outside and jumped, just a little. Damn you, Wilson.

But... that didn't sound like Wilson.

It had, actually, sounded like Cameron, but there was no way in hell she could even have gotten in here, so...

We need to talk, said the voice, and holy fucking hell, it was Cameron. Wow. Neat. And I'm not even hallucinating. He was only slightly more inclined to be amused by her persistence than to be furious at this invasion of his privacy, so he heaved a sigh and reluctantly cranked the water off.

Snaking an arm out to snatch a towel and shake the water out of his hair before sticking his head out, the towel pressed to his hips. "Well. This is a surprise. Is it my birthday already?"

"No, House," Cameron replied evenly. Turning angry would solve nothing, after all, and compared to most of his remarks, that was fairly benign. She refrained from crossing her arms -- remain neutral, remember the book -- and waited for House to emerge from the shower. "Why don't you get dressed while I wait in the living room? We need to talk," she said again, emphasizing the words in case he'd missed her message the first two times.
House hoisted an eyebrow. Whatever it was, it must be something interesting; to not only make Cameron show up at this hour, but to make her show up with this attitude, as well. Drunk and stoned, with only a sliver of his frustration shaved down by his furtive encounter, he was curious, as well.

"No need," he told her brightly, tying the towel rather haphazardly around his hips and stepping out, shaking the rest of the water out of his eyes. You want to barge into my place? Fine. Take what you get, then. "I'm decent. Well, fairly, anyway." He didn't bother to pause and make sure the towel dropped at least far enough to cover his thigh; he was frankly more interested in making a statement, and he was just a little too comfortably buzzed and a lot too tired to think about it like he usually would.

Least his immediate frustration wouldn't be as obvious as it had been before the hooker showed up.

"So. It's the middle of the night. Either someone died, or you've been agonizing all night over something to do with me. Or both. Or wishing I'd died, also likely. So what gives?"
As House stepped out of the shower, Cameron averted her eyes, turning her head to stare at the wall while taking an instinctive step backward. In her peripheral vision, she saw a flash of the scar but managed to keep from flinching; House was just another patient right now, that was all.

"You know I didn't wish you death," Cameron said, voice steady and hands at her sides, although her fingers were curling slightly. "I have not been agonizing. I" -- and others -- "have been worried. You're -- I'm worried. And I am going into the living room. We can discuss this there." If your intent is to humiliate me was on the tip of her tongue, but she held back: the important thing now was to keep this from escalating before the actual confrontation started.
Okay. That's about it. Now I'm getting pissed.

"Cameron," and there was no mistaking the shift in tone as he used another towel to wipe his face and straightened up, snagging his cane from where he'd hooked it over one of the shelves and winding his fingers almost white-knuckled around the handle. "You come storming in here at whatever the hell time it is, and then you tell me that I'm going to have whatever conversation you've currently taken up arms over... and not only that, but where I'm going to have it. In my own house."

Fuck it. He grabbed his jeans again, from where he'd left them piled, and fought his way into them - oblivious of whether Cameron got either a good look at his blasted thigh or much too good of a look at the space between. Serve her right, if she gets an eyeful. Not like she hasn't been after it, anyway. One way or another. Bare-chested, scowling, he raised an eyebrow at her.

"Now what the hell's the problem?"
At the sound of her surname wrapped in that tone, Cameron turned her head, stepping closer to the edge between what she wanted to say and what she knew she should. "House," she replied, "let's at least record events accurately. I did not storm in here. I knocked, I entered, and I called your name. You summoned me into the bathroom. And I think this conversation would be best suited for another---"

As House's towel fell down, Cameron flinched -- not because of the scar, but because she wasn't quite prepared to see her boss naked -- and instantly focused her gaze on the ceiling while fumbling for the door. "---location," she finished, lamely, the shock taking the power out of her voice. That said, she continued backward into the bedroom, out of House's line of sight.

"We need to talk about you," she continued after a moment, speaking loudly enough that House could hear her as he dressed. "And your --- we need to talk about you, all right? This can't keep on."
"Yeah, yeah, you're a peach, Cameron, everything's fine and dandy. Except that it's--" -squinting at his watch, abandoned on the sink- "--after one in the morning, now, and you're still standing there."

He had a fleeting hot flash of satisfaction as he saw the look on her face; let her stew, let her deal with the way things really were.

Not the way she thought they should be.

Wrapped in damp jeans, now, shoving his feet into his sneakers, he crutched to the bathroom door and nearly shoved past her, headed from zero to irritated pretty goddamn fast. At the living room sofa he found his button-down lying where he'd tossed it and shrugged into it, leaving it open. "You're talking to me like I'm a child. So either get in with it, or go find someone else to rescue."
"Goddamnit, House," Cameron managed after a moment, still standing in the bedroom after he'd breezed by. Gathering her irritation for courage, she walked into the main room, ready for the fight. She stood a few feet across from him, one hand on her hip as she began to speak: "Fine. You don't want to be treated like a child? Then stop acting like one!" The phrase nearly burst forth, and Cameron leaned forward a bit as she spat it out.

She took a breath, the continued, voice remaining intense. "You refuse to take on new cases. You refuse to talk to me. You refuse to talk to Wilson, apparently. You're angry all the time, no matter what I do, no matter what anyone does, and all of our conversations end with you sexually harassing me. You're acting like a three year old. Something's wrong," she continued, softening now, her voice acquiring an almost pleading note. "I thought it was just your leg, but your leg doesn't leave you like this. This is different. And don't lie to me and tell me it's not. I'm not stupid. You need to --- tell me what's wrong, or get help, or deal with whatever it is, or just learn to swallow your feelings like everyone else, because I can't work with you. You won't even let us do work."

More quietly now: "Please, House, tell me what's wrong. You can laugh at me for this, but I just want to help. Something's seriously wrong and you can't keep going like this."
Somehow, he should have known this was coming. And he had, really, in one way or another... but, as was his way, he'd simply continued on doing what he did, just existing as best he could, doing his job when he needed to and trying to leave everyone else fucking out of the drama. But Cameron's nearly-obsessive[at least to House] interest in his life and motivations had apparently become contagious in the last year or two, and his team -- and Wilson, as well, but at least that much was typical -- never let anything go, anymore. He acted more crabby, pushed with more vitriol, than usual? There must be something wrong.

He was an extra hour late, or five minutes early, to the Diagnostics office? He must be coming down with something. And House was so sorely tempted to simply tell her he was dying, or that his parents were dying, something bitter and violent and disturbing... just to shut her up.

Her anger fueled his anger, though, and he rounded on her as soon as she was close enough to fully appreciate his expression. "What cases? I'd be thrilled to be working, if only to get you all off my fucking back for three days!" He pulled his lip back from his teeth and nearly strangled the cane in one fist.

Drunk, you're drunk, remember that. But he didn't want to remember that. He was fucking sick of this, sick of this whole mess. It'd fucking serve Cuddy right if I spilled her cute little secret.

But unfortunately, it wasn't Cuddy's baby -- or desire for one, anyway -- that was fucking him up. And House himself had barely even registered, understood, or even accepted the pure brutal truth of that fact.

"In case you hadn't noticed, Cameron," through his teeth, "I don't talk to anyone anyway. I'm not like you! I don't go around telling everyone that I spent the morning crying in my coffee because the hem on my panties was a half-inch too high, and God, that makes me such a failure! Fuck Wilson, anyway, I should have figured you two were off gabbing about me... 'Ooooh, what could possibly be wrong with House? He's not kissing ass and he's made 0.092 percent more lewd jokes on average than the usual week, so maybe he's smoking crack! Go, Team Moral Save-age! Engage!' "

He snarled out a vicious laugh. "If you're telling me that you 'can't work with me' as long as I'm having some issue, then you'd better let me know now, because fellowship applicants are fucking hell to have to weed through. Worse than answering mail, really. And if you think this is going to miraculously clear up if we hug and cry and learn and grow," he snorted, finding a bottle with a few inches of bourbon left in it and downing it without looking, fumbling for the Vicodin bottle[Screw this], "You're out of luck as long as I'm stuck working in the Seventh Circle of Hell because there isn't another hospital around that isn't intimidated by the brilliance of Dr. Gregory House."

To anyone else, the vague reference might have gone unnoticed.

This was new. And a little frightening, but Cameron held her ground: she knew that if she displayed any weakness, this would only deteriorate further. And some part of her mind was screaming He wants a fight? Then give him one.

Another deep breath, and then she began: "You talk to everyone -- you talk at instead of with, but you talk. You insult, but you need people to mock so you never, ever have to think about your own inadequacies, your problems, your pain. You can deny it all you want, but you need to be around people. And you need to work for the same reason, but you refuse to take on cases even though I bring you plenty of options. And not to destroy your ego, but this isn't some campaign."

She paused, trying to gather her thoughts. After a moment, she continued speaking, her hands at her sides and her voice shifting into a brisk, clinical tone. "This has nothing to do with any one thing or trying to save you. I know why you think I'm here, but I don't care. I'm concerned. You're more hostile than usual, which I know you think isn't possible, but something has changed. The way you talk to me, the way you act in general, this new isolation: this is different and you know it. You won't work, or you can't work, and I don't know which it is. Now you're drunk and drinking more, and you're mixing the alcohol with Vicodin, which you know is a bad idea. You're going to wake up tomorrow hungover and miserable and be late to work, so you'll have a self-destructive fight with Cuddy. Then you'll sit in your office and make Chase cover your clinic hours, and I'll sort your mail and turn down a dozen referrals, some of them quite interesting. Then you'll go home and do it again. And if you don't understand, or just refuse to see that this is self-destructive, then" --- she stared at him, clearly at her major point --- "then I don't think there's anything anyone can do but watch you drown."

Quietly: "You're going to kill yourself, House, if you don't face this. You're going to get fired. Your reputation is good, but how long will you last without someone like Cuddy to deal with you? You'll be fired again, considered a 'mad genius,' then what? You'll stay here and play on the piano, get drunk and take too much Vicodin until you pass out, until you cripple your body entirely? That can't be what you want.

"You're not in the seventh circle. You're in purgatory, but you want to go to Hell." All of the words finally out, she exhaled and looked to the ceiling for a moment, then turned her gaze back to House.
None of this was really new to him. He'd heard it a thousand times before, really, in a thousand variations, a thousand different choruses in the same damn key.

You're going to kill yourself. Well, so what if he was? Not like anyone would actually miss him. Sure, maybe a few patients would kick off... so what? Not like there weren't other hospitals, other diagnosticians. And as much as he loathed to admit it -- and never would, not to any of their faces -- his team wasn't half-bad. They'd manage.

And sure, maybe there'd be a few weeks of guilt. Wilson, especially -- I should have paid more attention, boo-fucking-hoo -- and maybe even Stacy. But in the end, House thought coldly to himself, most of them would think they were better off. Not having to deal with him.

"The last thing I need," he hissed at Cameron, one hand on the wall, "is an intervention." His voice nearly dripping with resentment and bile. And throughout her entire "concerned monologue", his overpowering impulse, really, was to laugh.

But... had it gotten that bad? Really? As far as he'd noticed, sure, he'd been testy. A little less likely to have the capacity to deal with idiocy... so what else was new? And he wasn't, really wasn't, refusing to work. What he had been refusing was to take on a simple case. He needed his puzzle, needed something intricate and difficult, something to which he could devote his entire attention, something at which he could shine... and forget all of the rest of this bullshit.

None of them cared, really. Cameron had probably just drawn the short straw over drinks with the rest of them. And that thought did absolutely nothing to placate his anger.

"Maybe I don't give a shit!" he exploded back at her, disgusted with this entire conversation. "I'm glad you have my life all planned out for me, Cameron. I'm really, really glad! And you know what? I'll take it under advisory. Because maybe if I did get fired, I could get the fuck away from Cuddy. Then maybe I'd be sane."

It might have been an oops moment, if he'd been paying any attention.

"Now go home. Just leave me the hell alone."
"Well, good, because you aren't getting an intervention," Cameron snapped, hands on her hips and voice sharp. "You're getting a smack to the side of the head, which is what you need."

She stood like that a moment, almost hissing. "Oh, don't give that 'I don't care' routine. I'm not an idiot, despite your statements to the contrary. You care. You care more than I do --- you just show it differently. You pretend to be distant but if you are so much better than the rest of us, so much more removed, then you wouldn't be standing here drunk and high, screaming at the top of your lungs about how much you don't care. Methinks the doctor doth protest too much." Suck on that! was faintly implied in her voice and posture.

"And if you ever left Cuddy, then you'd be insane, not sane. Oh, yes, the clinic, it's so terribly difficult, but she is the only administrator who would tolerate you. You have no idea how good you have it. Maybe you should try working at another hospital. You're brilliant and you have moments of this amazing empathy, but you wouldn't last a day anywhere else. Cuddy is the only person who would ever let you get away with all that you do --- violating a DNR? Throwing over Vogler to keep you and Wilson?" She shook her head, faintly disgusted. "How much have you had to drink?" --- a rhetorical question, like the others. "You must have gone through the whole cabinet to think leaving is a good idea."
"Oh, just shut up!" he was already shouting at her, before she'd barely even finished. His arm came up without his own full volition, hurling the cane across the room -- DAMN this, damn the leg, damn them all and their self-righteous BULLSHIT. "You think you know me SO WELL! You STAND there and you... you... mock me, oh, Cameron's got it all figured OUT, and the rest of us are just cynical assholes who can't appreciate the good things in life! Count our blessings!"

His voice had modulated, cracked high into a cruel and unfair impression of her tone. "Sure! Yeah! Wonderful! I've got it so good here, with you and Chase and Foreman and Cuddy, oh yeah, Cuddy's a fucking godsend, she lets me get away with everything except giving a shit about her, and I'm just so completely sane sitting here watching her treat me like the embarrassing genius child that you lock in the closet when company comes to visit, and everybody knows that Greg House is just a heartless bastard, so let's just tear it out and take a look to confirm THAT diagnosis! Because obviously I'm not good enough!"

A moment's rage, and he kicked at the table with his bad leg, snarling at the blinding bolt of pain that resulted. Mindless, absolutely oblivious, to the rant that was coming out of his mouth. Leave me ALONE, goddamn it Cameron, just leave the the fuck ALONE.
Cameron flinched as the cane went flying, shielding her face with her arms for a moment. It was instinct, and partial fear, but once House had kicked the table and finished screaming, she found herself able to hear his words. Looking at him from around her still-raised hands, she began speaking, slowly and quietly, the way one would try to talk to a skunk that appeared ready to attack.

"That's it, isn't it?" she said. "That's what's going on: you care about Cuddy. You ... like her," Cameron managed. "You love her, even. You want to leave her because it hurts but you can't because you care too much. You want her to love you back and she doesn't know it." She resisted the temptation to laugh bitterly: this seemed so familiar somehow. There was a kind of disappointed curling at the edges of her thoughts, but she let it go, trying to tell herself that it was better that House love someone than no one, given that loving her would apparently never be an option.

At House's muttered "leave me alone," she rolled her eyes, but refrained from commenting. There was a chance House would start throwing crockery next, and she wasn't up for dodging it. "Do--" she began, then broke off, knowing House would take her offer to fetch his cane as a simple 'let's all insult the cripple!' moment, rather than the 'calm down, it's going to be okay' gesture she intended it to be.
Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.

Too late, House's own words trickled back through his sodden remnants of consciousness. His own furious, screaming tirade. Something in his stomach curled and blackened as he realized that, out of all the people who might have accidentally come to this conclusion, it had to be Cameron.

If I have been trying to kill myself, I should have fucking tried a little harder. Because now, I might as well be dead. For all intents and purposes.

"Just shut up," he rasped at her, barely audible now, dragging his now-screaming leg closer to the sofa. He dug through the pockets of his jeans for his Vicodin, realized belatedly that it was still n his sportcoat, and nearly fell twice trying to get to the bedroom and back for the bottle. Swallowing two with the remnants of the bourbon.

You love her, even. You want to leave her because it hurts but you can't because you care too much. You want her to love you back and she doesn't know it.

So. Just like that.

Jesus Christ, is that even true? Is that what this has all, all of this, has been about?

Booze, exhaustion, drugs or frustration and fury, disgust with himself, his eyes had started to burn even before he dropped onto the sofa and covered his face with one hand in abject, miserable weariness.

"Go home, Cameron." One last time. "You've made your point. Congratulations."


Cameron watched House stumble toward his bedroom, reaching out at one point, but stopping her hand just short of touching him. With everything that had gone flying so far, she didn't want to be next to hit the (physical) wall. She looked on as House swallowed still more alcohol and booze, horrified and knowing she was right: this was the instinct House had trained her to recognize in all their DDX sessions, after all. She opened her mouth to say stop or don't, but gave up; there was nothing good that would come of it. Honesty followed by self-destruction: here we go again, she thought, exhausted but faintly pleased. She'd cracked the House code, done what Wilson hadn't. That had to be worth something.

"Go to bed, House," she said. "I'm not leaving until I'm sure you're not going to slit your wrists or swallow a bottle of Drano. Chase doesn't need to see you in the ICU first thing in the morning."
House choked off a laugh -- or maybe it was half a sob, who knew, and he was drunk, anyway, that was for sure, so it didn't really matter. He'd be exempt from emo-mocking in the morning. "I'm not fourteen, and my boyfriend didn't just break up with me for the head cheerleader. I'll pass out eventually. Go home."


Please at least respect me enough not to sit and watch this. You got what you fucking came for.
Cameron lifted up her hands, as if to say, 'What can you do?' "Fine," she muttered. "Just go to bed, all right? You might get lucky --- someone could turn up with the plague again." It was a cheap shot, but then she softened. "Take care of yourself, House." And with that final mock-worthy remark, she began heading for the door, carefully picking her way over the debris from the evening.
Don't tell her, might have been on his lips, Leave me that much dignity, Cameron. Just... don't... tell her.

But by the time the thought had formed, opening his mouth seemed like far too much of an effort, and all he could do was drag his bad leg up onto the sofa, shifting his shoulders and dropping his head into the crook of his arm. He'd be sore in the morning, sore and hungover and sick, but for right now there was nothing for it: no worries, no anger, no frustration and blessedly, no dreams.

For now.