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Objects in motion

Objects in Motion
You can't always get what you want.but lies and sabotage make a pretty good start. Cameron moveson. House is passive-aggressive. Wilson is amused. And they say romance is dead. (Too bad about the patients, though.) 1 - But Not For Me
Summary: You can't always get what you want.but lies and sabotage make a pretty good start.
Cameron moves on. House is passive-aggressive. Wilson is amused. And they say romance is dead.
(Too bad about the patients, though.)--------------------------------------- None of that adolescent bubblegum crap squeaked out by someone named Britney or Avril or someother cute name that inspires pom-poms, cheerleading outfits and chants of 'Oh, Mickey, you're so fine'-- that's more Chase's style. Not that he would normally ever protest cheerleaders, especially paired withtrampolines, but tonight.tonight, he's feeling a bit more nostalgic.
Nocturne No. 9 in B rings out, slow and sad, through the soft hammers of his baby grand. He plays itwhen he's feeling a bit melancholy, even though he's really more Beethoven than Chopin.
Just as Stacy is to Liszt, Valle d'Obermann, specifically. The mountain storm. Intense. Tumultuous, butnot without big, flashy displays of showmanship. Wilson.another Wilson. Meredith's slick, baby-facedHarold Hill; The Sadder, Wiser Girl for him. Foreman. Eh. Probably some dead rapper named after aninanimate object. Emcee-Daddy-Dawg-Bling-Bling-Stan.
Fingers drift over the first few notes, random patterns that eventually coalesce into Rhapsody in Blue.
Interesting. Overly-sentimental, unabashed, painfully romantic pap. Sounds about right up a certainimmunologist's alley. Unconsciously, the music begins to segue into But Not For Me.
The silence isn't quite there when he abruptly tugs the fallboard down, grimace accompanying the lastfew notes lingering in the air, until the sounds finally dissipate.
Reflexes urge his fingers to search for the bottle tucked away in his pocket, and as he works the bitterpill in his mouth, tumbling it over his tongue, he stares out into the empty space of his living room andthinks musicians must be the saddest creatures in the world.
------------------------------------- It's nine-twenty on a Monday morning when he first notices. It. That. Right over her levator scapulae, tobe specific. An oval, dime-sized blotch. He sees it when she turns to murmur something to Foreman.
The incongruity of the idea twirls thoughtfully in his head even as the marker moves in sharp strokes on "Thirty-five year old woman comes into ER complaining of dizziness, sore throat and chest palpitations."He turns. (There. Near the curve of her collar bone. Petechia, broken capillaries under the skin causedby a focused point of pressure.) "Patient has several rashes, a fever, some unusual bruising. Like that hickey on Dr. Cameron's neck." (Oops. Did he say the last part out loud?) There's a moment of appreciative pause at the sudden and abrupt shift in direction, before both Chaseand Foreman turn to appraise their charmingly mortified colleague.
"Panic disorder," Cameron mutters weakly, self-consciously pulling the lapels of her lab coat closer.
The left side of House's lip curls up thoughtfully as he strokes his chin; a sound akin to rubbingsandpaper. "Advances have been made in psychiatric care. With regular therapy and antidepressantmedication, one you might day be able overcome your—oh." A thumb jerks back at the whiteboard.
"You're talking about her. Doesn't explain the rash." "Symptoms aren't degenerative," supplies Foreman. "Could be an allergy, could be nothing." "That's great. Chase, give her a couple of Tylenol, a paper bag to breathe into and send her on her way.
Case solved. Let's go get a beer." Hobbling with surprising speed towards the door, there's a pause ashe swivels, snapping his fingers. "I almost forgot. Patient's also diaphoretic and hypotensive with a heartrate of 250. Oh, and the palpitation's progressed to pulmonary distress." Ah, silence. Precious, stunned silence. Sometimes, it's just too easy.
"Still wanna go get that beer?" Three pairs of eyes shift to the floor. Sadistic streak suitably appeased,he stumps back to the whiteboard. "Okay, then. Differential diagnosis?" "Lyme disease," Chase tosses out.
"Dilated cardiomyopathy." Foreman.
"Still doesn't explain the rash." "Pulmonary sarcoidosis sometimes presents as DCM." And Dr. Cameron's finally found her voice.
"Now that would explain the rash. And the bruising." At that, she clutches her coat a fraction tighter. He'd be amused if he weren't, for some reason,inexplicably irritated.
"Get her started on antibiotics just in case it's Lyme. Corticosteroids for the sarcoidosis. Echo the heartand test for ACE. Go." Without further word, the great and powerful House toddles to his office.
Chase is the first out the door, snatching up the case file on the way, leaving the other two behind.
"Good weekend?" There's a slow, knowing smile from Foreman that makes Cameron flush as shecloses the lid on her laptop.
"Kind of," she admits with a small smile.
"I'm glad. The whole thing with House was a bad idea from the get–go. It's good to see you're movingon." (There's a slight frown on her face, eyebrows beetling together, but she doesn't reply.) "As for him.
He's just being an asshat. A kid throwing a tantrum when he realizes he doesn't have your full attentionanymore." "Yo, MTV Raps!" comes the bellow from said asshat leaning in the adjoining doorway. "Let's get a moveon." See? Foreman mouths, eyebrows accentuating his point. With a quick, sympathetic hand on hershoulder, he also makes his exit.
Dropping her eyes, Cameron returns to packing her laptop. When she looks up again, she nearly yelpsat how he's managed to swiftly (and surprisingly) sneak up on her without the obnoxious telltaletap–tap–taps that usually precede his arrival.
Leaning far into her personal space, his head tilts to the right as he gives her a quizzical, contemplativelook, before his gaze trails down to her neck once again.
(Her skin is a little pinker than usual, the smattering of freckles on her shoulder standing out in contrast.
He inhales briefly, a swift, cunning breath; she smells like sea–salt and the sun.) Who is he? he doesn't ask, because it sounds needy and desperate. New boytoy? sounds needy andbitter, and he's not terribly interested in the specifics of some anonymous hickey–producing he–man,anyhow; he knows all the mechanics of making one.
"You're wearing a low–cut blouse." It's blunt, almost accusatory. "Not that I don't appreciate the view.
However, your lab coat was a little loose as well, a bit off your shoulders. You wanted me to see that." Cameron's learned, when it comes to things personal, not to trust anything he says; not his words, notwith the way he beats, twists and shapes them into submission. At the moment, though, it's the flutter ofhis breath on her neck that's making her carotid pulse cannonball (and she finds fleeting amusement atthe idea of House being single–handedly responsible for Corrigan's p).
He's pointing. He does that. Point. Even hovers, sometimes, close enough to make her itch. Like he'sdoing now. But he doesn't touch. With the exception of that single handshake, he's never touched her.
And for good reason. Touching invariably progresses to.more touching. Handshakes. Handholding.
Even more touching; of the sweaty, sticky, fumbling type. Against the bookcase. Over the conference room table. Atop his desk. (Not that House has thought of that. Well, not often; he is, after all, male andbreathing.) "I didn't even know it was there." It comes out darker, lower than intended and she curses herself forsounding a little too breathless.
He leans back and there's that head tilt again, accompanied by something blank and enigmatic. It makesher distinctly uneasy. "You're learning to lie." A nod. "That's interesting." And then, there's only the clickof his cane against the linoleum fading out as he stumps away.
When she buckles the straps on her valise, Cameron is dismayed to find her hands shaking.
2 - The Girl With Colitis Goes By
-----------------------------------------2
----------------------------------------- He's in a peculiar mood for the rest of the day; it doesn't improve by the time he reaches the clinic.
Snapping out his clock-in time of eleven fifty-five at the nursing station, he even ignores Cuddy staring,in mute shock, at his presence without all the usual preamble (of cajoling, threatening, bribery,blackmail; if he's especially lucky, sometimes he gets the whole quartet).
First patient of the day's a kid with green, spiky hair, facial piercings and more eyeliner than a Maybellinecommercial. The unwashed air around him reeks of cigarettes, sweat and old Miller Lite. Rough,calloused fingers on his left hand strum against the safety pin on his jeans.
Probably in a band with "meat" somewhere in its name.
"Stomach ache," House notes, perusing the chart.
Post-adolescent punk shifts, stammers and mumbles, "Not exactly." "Not exactly's kinda general. You're going to have to help me out a bit here. IBS? Diarrhea?Constipation? Something Radiology's going to have a good giggle over?" There's a sigh, a twitch, then, sounds of metal clanking heavily to the floor, as the kid unbuckles anddrops his pants.
"Now I may have only gone to medical school, and maybe things have changed since the stone age. Butfrom what I recall of anatomy classes, the stomach's actually twelve inches north of that." And what a sad little thing that is. Limp, black-and-blue, and bent to the side; the proud Prince Albertleading a trail of piercings down to the perineum. He figures there's got to be a half-pound of jewelrythere.
"I think it's broken," comes the whine.
"Yeaaah," House agrees, with a kick of twang. "I'll say." "My girlfriend's a little.wild. We were going at it, and she, like, swung around and there was a.pop. Ithought I was gonna die." "And you probably wanted to as well. There's a reason why it's called a boner. Bend it the wrong way, alittle too hard, and the corpus cavernosum goes snap." He crosses out something on the chart andscribbles something else in. "Any blood when you urinate?" More near-illegible scratches. "I'll schedule you in for a corpus cavernosography to see if there's anytearing. Lots of poking with a bunch of small needles and one very large one." Eyes widen, accompaniedby a shiver of mock anticipation. "You'll like that. From the looks of it though, you'll probably needsurgery." "Surgery? Aw, man." Seems nervous. Go fig.
"More sharp instruments. I thought you'd be ecstatic." "Can't I just get a splint or something?" Oh Lord, there's the whining again.
"Sure." He slips the clipboard under his arm. "I could send you home with an ice pack and some pills,and the next time your girlfriend goes to fake karate with Little Elvis, blood's going to end up in places it'snot supposed to. Scars will form. You'll begin losing sensation. Eventually she's going to start calling youDroopy." The cane begins tapping rapid patterns out on the floor, like an agitated metronome. "One dayyou come home to find her gone, with a letter. A letter--" Each syllable is punctuated by a click. "--tellingyou she couldn't take it anymore --even though she's the one that broke--" Gestures vaguely in the kid'sdirection. "--that in the first place. But, hey, that's not the issue because she was--" (air quotes) "--lonelywhenever she was with you, so she's moving in with the drummer from that other band, instead.
Because he's got her name tattooed on his @$$." Discarding the cane, he leans against the wall, arms crossed, looking somewhere off to the side.
"Maybe it won't matter anyway, since you probably already piss sitting down. Maybe you already knew itwas over for a while. So you go back to your band, you play your music, and you're really good at, buteverybody's wondering if that's all you've got left, and maybe it is, because maybe you aren't good foranyone anyway. You deal with that, understand that, maybe even accept it." His head snaps back, andthe kid's genitals make an impressive attempt to retract like landing gear. "Until one day you find yourselfplaying Gershwin in the middle of the night!" Johnny Rotten Junior looks like he's about to cry; incoherent mumbles of "sorry" burbling out over histwitching lower lip. Must've been something he said.
"What are you apologizing to me for? You should be apologizing to Gershwin. He's the one oscillating inhis grave." Grabbing his cane again, he hauls himself upright. "So do all of us and poor, dead George afavor and get the damn exploratory, all right?" The "okay" that finally squeaks out is barely audible (possibly due to the crushing weight of that flappinglabret), and with a curt nod, Dr. House hobbles out the door.
A glance at his watch tells him it's twelve-fifteen. He wonders what Wilson's doing at the moment.
----------------------------------------- "Aren't you supposed to be in the clinic right now?" There's Jimmy Wilson, Master of the Obvious, for you. Like the good oncologist he is, he doesn't look upfrom the Physician's Desk Reference, but instead jots down a few more notes into a lined compositionbook. Alimony for two (soon to be three) is a hefty burden.
(One has to admire the tenacity and ease with which Wilson falls in and out of love. How he pickshimself up out of every romantic disaster with barely a scratch and, with that boyish smile, starts all overagain. Nothing ruined, nothing lost, save a third of his paycheck at the end of every month. He's alwaysbeen lucky that way.
Greg House is known for many things, medical brilliance being one of them; another, his spectacularability to crash and burn. He carries the remnants of his last affair in his limp, his cane, the pill case inhis pocket; he's reminded of it six times a day.) "Nothing gets past you, does it?" Planted impatiently in the doorframe, he swings his cane in a dramaticupward arc. "I'm thinking.an extended lunch." (A persistent dwarf has taken up residence in Wilson's skull; at the present, it's performing flamenco onhis occipital lobe.) With a deep, set-upon sigh, he slaps the PDR shut.
"I just want to know if I need to change into my running shoes for when Cuddy goes on the warpath." (After all, there's no point in playing hooky without an aid and abettor.) "Don't worry. I can sense when she approaches. It's like an evil omen. 'By the twitching of my pri--'" The chair slides back noisily. "That's not how it goes." "What? No! Next you'll be telling me the lyrics aren't 'the girl with colitis goes by.'" A facial contortionlater, House mutters something out of the side of his mouth like he's sharing a tawdry, little secret. "I putin an early show. Even saw a patient." "Voluntarily? Well, at least Cuddy was in the right place when she went into cardiac arrest." "She's probably still standing there as we speak." An impatient tap of his watch. "I figure we've gotapproximately two hours before the initial shock wears off."----------------------------------------- Wilson doesn't comment when they take the long, circuitous route to the elevators. He assumes it's toavoid the inevitable trail of destruction bound by a certain Dean of Medicine, when she finally breaks outof her stupor. He reconsiders when the lab comes into view.
Ah. Dr. Cameron's probably inside, peering into a microscope. They'll linger for a moment, and thenpass.
House does indeed slow, but then, he also stops altogether. Watches. There's a frown on his face, likehe's puzzling out a mental Rubik's cube; dissecting her motivations, parsing her psychological makeup.
Painting a picture of what he thinks she thinks.
("I don't get it," he'd admitted, in one brief, bewildered moment. "I'm a walking Jenga tower. Why wouldanyone want to be anywhere near me?") Sensing something, Cameron stiffens and looks up.
And right now, Mr. Self Destruct's thinking about what he's going to say, because his jaw's doing thatself-conscious little twitch. In an ostentatious gesture of dramatic fortitude, he straightens his shouldersand pushes through the door.
"Anything?" House casually asks, once situated inside.
"Lungs are clean. ACE levels normal." "Normal as well. No swelling, no presence of granulomas." It's all very cool, very professional sounding, except for the fact that she noticeably tenses when hereaches over her shoulder for the videotape of the echo; that he stands closer to her than whatnecessity, or propriety, dictates. He does, however, take a half-step back when the other two-thirds of the Diagnostics crew come thundering down the hall. "Patient's gone bradycardic," informs Chase.
Cameron's quick flip through the patient's history reveals: "Digitalis." "When combined with prednisone, would result in a severe depletion of potassium, thus the decreasedheart rate." The cane thumps rhythmically on the floor. "Foreman, what would you say would be the sideeffects of digoxin?" "Hallucinations, loss of appetite, headaches, diarrhea." It then dawns on Chase. ".skin rashes." More page flipping. "Blood work's clean. If she's been taking it, it hasn't been recently." "Digoxin is mostly concentrated in the tissues. But Dr. Cameron has a point. What happens when yousuddenly stop taking digitalis?" "Heart rate shoots back up." Foreman nods once, briefly.
"DigiFab, twenty vials over thirty minutes. Use a pacing wire. Phenytoin for ventricular arrhythmia. Giveher potassium supplements as well," House calls out after the trio as they pile out the door.
"What? Making them dance like puppets? Maybe. A little. Okay, a lot." Turning back to Wilson, heshakes the videotape enticingly. "How's lunch and a movie sound?"----------------------------------------- "You doctors are all alike. I take you to a nice place, you complain about the food and scenery." (Dodge, backtrack, and down the hall; it's the next leg in the Amazing Race to Avoid Clinic Duty.) "Because I've never been to the OB-GYN lounge before. And I bought lunch." "Nag, nag, nag." Sucking on the remains of his pop, House bites thoughtfully down on the straw. "She'sgot normal heart dimensions. No signs of cardiomyopathy or mitral valve prolapse." "Ditto for Ebstein's anomaly and vessel transposition. It might have just been the digitalis." Soda turns to air; House pitches the cup into a nearby garbage can.
"Those effects are all secondary. The fact that she was taking it in the first place spells out a history ofmisdiagnosed arrhythmia." Tap, a shuffle; they round a corner.
There's a woman a few doors down with digitalis poisoning and arrhythmia and Dr. Cameron's gettingroses from some square-headed Rico Suave in a three-piece suit. She blushes fetchingly and smiles,something gorgeous, brilliant and bright (and he thinks he's seen it somewhere before; just can'tremember when).
Still, she seems embarrassed, uneasy with all the attention, the tittering nurses, and the ooh-ing and aah-ing over the ostentatious and extravagant PDA.
Like the big old cat of the block, House stumps on over with his homeys --homey--okay, Wilson-- in tow.
Besides, what could be more gratifying than the sudden trapped-and-tied-on-the-train tracks expressionthat descends when she spots the two of them converging like kestrels? When Cameron's Teutonic new boyfriend pumps the oncologist's hand in a familiar, friendly shake with a"Good to see you again, Dr. Wilson," he shoots off an expression that spells out, in hundred-point font,'you've got some 'splainin to do.' "Matt, this is my boss," she pronounces every bit like she's picking something unpleasant out of herteeth, "Dr. House." (ooh, now that sounded like a dirty word) And the Great Aryan Hope swings the fullforce of his charm right on over.
"Matthew Lee Michaels." Up close, he seems pleasant enough, if rather bland. Handshake's also a bitlimp. (Matt. Matty. Saint Matthew, either the burned, stoned or beheaded. Audiences are still out on that.
Rarely has he witnessed such a stunningly whitebread specimen of the unimpressive. Yawn.) It smiles,even. "I've heard quite a bit about you." "Whatever Dr. Cameron's told you about me.it's completely true. Well, maybe not all of it." He leansconspiratorially in. "The eating babies thing? Total exaggeration. I only get those when they run out ofpuppies." Laugher (yeah, he would), light and inoffensive. He's going to need atropine after this encounter.
"No, nothing like that. Allison has nothing but compliments and the utmost respect." "Huh." He attempts to smile; it comes out all teeth. "That's funny, because Allison hasn't mentioned anything about you." "Dr. House." A hiss. His teeth grow.
"I'm just saying. You seem like such a swell guy. She should have shown you off sooner." "Okay!" Wilson claps his hands together. "I think it's time for everyone to head back to work. You know how doctors are, with the.doctoring.and all." Three-First-Names turns back to Cameron. "I'll see you tonight, then?" House looks away when Milquetoast gives her a quick peck on the cheek. It's so saccharine, he can feelhis kidneys complain.
"I may need to head down to dialysis after that display," he remarks after the guy disappears through thedoors. "Must be nice to be the exciting one for a change, though." Her glare doesn't quite say 'You're a dick' (but the sentiment's all too clear), before she snatches up herbouquet and stalks off.
There's a chuckle. "You really know how to charm 'em, cowboy." Ah, yes. Homey.
"'Good to see you again, Dr. Wilson?'" "Yeah.about that. Let's get back to my office first." As they amble towards the elevator, House senses the presence of a giant shoot-eating grin creepingacross Wilson's face. Yep, there it is. And he's humming. Humming. Uh, oh. That can only mean.
"Ya got trouble." It starts off as a barely audible trickle that rapidly escalates into a full-productionnumber, "with a capital 'T,' and that rhymes with 'C,' and that stands for--" "--the cane I'm going to beat you with, if you don't stop serenading me with musicals."----------------------------------------- When James Wilson looks back on this, these will have been the two most entertaining hours of hookyhe's ever engaged in. Really. If he'd known how much fun it'd be, he'd have let House talk him into itsooner.
"He's a wimp!" (He observes, with great interest, the delinquent in question, pacing a stump-footedtrench in front of his desk.) "If she wanted someone spineless, she should date Chase! At least theirchildren will be pretty." Oh, but he can't help but be amused. Entertainment at it's finest. "You'd rather she didn't date at all. Andwhat does it matter? I thought you weren't interested." "I'm not. But she's a doctor. Which means she has certain responsibilities." Flopping ungracefully intothe chair opposite Wilson, he slaps the business end of his cane onto the desk. "She's a doctor and he'san idiot. With three first names. Do you know what sort of people have three first names?" (Oh, he can't wait to hear this one. Aaaaand, House doesn't disappoint.) "Surprisingly enough, a lot of people who aren't serial killers also have them. Like.Seann William Scott." "Could be. C and R are right next to each other on a keyboard." The fingers of Wilson's left hand move in the air for several seconds before an indignant, "They are not!"shoots back.
"But you thought they might have been." The ceiling comes fast into clarity as House's head thumpsback against the headrest. "Stifler. She's dating Stifler." "You admit to the possibility of my theory, then." And we have a winner. There's the trifecta of gape, a bewildered you have lost it look, followed by thespastic twitching of Wilson's eyebrows conducting the Toreador March from Carmen.
"In the space of three minutes you've just compared Cameron's boyfriend to a serial killer and Hitler'sbookkeeper. I think that's a record there, buddy." "I constantly strive to outdo myself." A beleaguered sigh from Wilson. "He's.good looking. Well dressed. Educated. Financially secure. Itmight rock your world to realize that some people find stability an attractive quality." Like Mark Warner, he almost says, but doesn't. He might as well have, because House easily picksthose thoughts right out of his head.
"Well, gosh, he's just perfect, isn't he?" Pressing sullenly back into his chair, House spins the cane in hishands like a slow propeller. "He'll bore her to death. They'll have nice, boring dates, leading up to a nice,boring wedding, a home and white picket fence in some boring suburb with a brood of yapping no-necksthat can add really well. Years will pass. Wonderbread begins working longer hours, finding excuses tostay away from home. Maybe the new administrative assistant, fresh out of college, catches his eye.
She'll work longer hours too, unwilling to sit at home bored, staring out the window, wondering why herhusband's never there. One weekend, while he's away at a "conference", she'll realize she's been oglingthe barely-legal, shirtless boy mowing her lawn for the past twenty minutes, invite him inside forlemonade, and discover not only is his name Rodolfo but also he's hung like a prize thoroughbred." "You've.thought about this way too much. All that from a single glance at the guy?" "He had a limp handshake." The cane stops, its end pointed in a path leading straight to Wilson'sforehead. He pulls an imaginary trigger on the handle. "How do you know he's an accountant?" "Cardiology conference. You know, the one you gave your so-very enlightening speech at." Wilson's rewarded with a slow, grizzled smile.
"Especially the part where you ran away like a little girl and hid. While you were busy dodging the big,angry man, Matt came over to our table, they chatted a bit and he gave her his card. I guess she finallycalled him back." A look. "What? She talks to me occasionally." "You're my friend. She doesn't get to talk to you." "Now, now, you'll just have to share. There's enough of me to go around." "Yeeeaaaah, I hear that about you a lot. Mostly from the nurses in your department." Teeth work hislower lip. "One of Vogler's employees." Hm. "I give the speech of doom, and one of his cronies movesright in. Interesting." "Because no guy would ever be interested Dr. Cameron. Come on. Even you can see you're reachinghere." Leaning back on his hands, Wilson props his legs on the desk. "Need some help popping that armback in its socket? You're making even less sense than usual." "I always make sense. It's everyone else who doesn't understand me." "You're still interested in her, aren't you?" Eyes narrow. "Oh, that's a nice one, Jimbo. Why don't you ask 'if I've stopped beating my wife yet' whileyou're at it?" "Right, right." Wilson waves a placating hand. "I keep forgetting. You don't want her, but you won't standto see her with someone else either. You can't have it both ways." "What is it with you? You're as bad as she is. I. Don't. Care. who Cameron dates. As far as I'mconcerned, she's free to go right on ahead and marry that idiot-whatshisface Mark." Pause. A significant one. Eyes shift to the floor. The wall.
Slumping further in the chair, House rubs his now-pounding forehead with his first knuckle. DamnWilson's clog-dancing dwarf. It's now banging on his brain like the National Tour of Stomp. See if he'llever listen to Jimmy-boy and what passes for his version of reason and logic, ever again.
Cracking an eye open, he sees the oncologist looking at him with something akin to.God, please let it "His name is Matt," Wilson finally says, not unkindly.
"Whatever."----------------------------------------- 3 - Long Walk to. (1)
-----------------------------------------3a ----------------------------------------- Ostentatious displays of affection do not impress her, especially in matters she would rather keepprivate, away from loose lips of prying co-workers and one particular, overbearing boss. Still, they are,undoubtedly pretty.
"I don't think it was the digitalis," Cameron announces, upon entering the conference room.
"And you said it with flowers," Chase gushes, clapping his hands together in a disturbingly girlishmanner. "I'm touched." Her mouth forms a fake little 'ha' before she drops the bouquet and patient folder on the table.
"Serum digoxin levels are supposed to rise when you administer DigiFab. That didn't happen." "I think she was already stabilizing by the time we paced her." Flowers and boyfriends already a distantthought, she settles into the chair next to Chase before reaching into her valise.
"Digoxinlike immunoreactive substances?" Incisors thoughtfully worry the end of a ball-point pen. "Bit ofa stretch, isn't it?" There's only a shrug in reply as Cameron plunks her laptop on the table. "Not too many other options.
Foreman's taking first watch to see if there's any change." "That's what I'd like to know." From the doorway, the Dean of Medicine looms like an extremely iratecumulonimbus formation. "I gather you two haven't run into him, then." "He was downstairs twenty minutes ago," Cameron volunteers, with the tiniest bit of spite.
"Which, in concrete terms, would mean." Cuddy's wrist works in an impatient circle of get to the point,folks.
"Differential diagnosis," Cameron begins, a quirk curling her lips. "Not in clinic. Not in the office. It's tooearly for his soaps, so he's probably not hiding out in any of the patient rooms. Where else could he be?" It's a fifteen-letter crossword epiphany for the intensivist, as he flips the pen out of his mouth and points.
"Dr. Wilson's office." "He should be there for another." A quick glance at her watch before tossing it back to Chase, "ten?" Agreed. "Fifteen minutes, or so." "You two have been working with House for too long," Cuddy finally manages to sputter, her gaze flittingincredulously back and forth between the doctors. "Did you work out a schedule?" "Much as House likes to think he's being clever and spontaneous," Chase chuckles, slipping the penback between his teeth, "he's actually a bit predictable." A sigh. "If only he spent half as much effort in treating patients as does shirking clinic." "Probably wouldn't be as much fun," offers Cameron sympathetically.
"Probably. Nice flowers, by the way," the Dean of Medicine notes before disappearing down the hallway,back and hot on the trail.
"Did it work?" Chase asks, once Cuddy's out of sight.
He knows Cameron's avoiding the question (and quite badly at that), but gestures anyway.
"Those. Either you were ambushed by a florist in the hallway, or someone gave them to you. Might evenbe the same someone who gave you that. His finger moves from bouquet to her neck connecting theshortest distance between two suggestions.
"I can't help it. It's so.noticeable." Even as he fights the mighty battle not to laugh out loud. "How didHouse take it? Succeed in making him jealous?" "I wasn't trying to make him anything. He just showed up. He has a radar for these things." Plucking herglasses from their case, she primly settles them across the bridge of her nose. "And no, he's not jealous.
Varying degrees of apathy does not equate with jealousy." "By that, I'm guessing your date didn't go as well as you suggested." From behind those librarian glasses, Chase is hit with a haymaker that squeezes a don't want to talkabout it and back off into one neat glare. He retreats, hands raised in surrender.
The resultant snort signals her disbelief, as she firmly tucks herself behind the screen of her iBook. "Isuppose you're going to blab to Foreman now?" "Hell no. I already won a hundred off him." And, oh, is this floating into all sorts of dangerous and murkyterritory, but as Chase assumes (correctly), he has nowhere to go but up. "I figured House wasn't stupidenough to not.er.well, say no.however he feels about." Silence. Dead. Except for the ominous tapping of her fingers on the keyboard.
More silence; taps grow exponentially louder as Cameron stabs away at the keys, simmering threedegrees below full percolation.
"Did you at least take my advice and jump him?" "No!" She whips around, pushing her glasses back up as they slip precariously down her nose. "Ofcourse not." "Maybe you should have."----------------------------------------- See the stare of disbelief? It's there for a reason.
"Because I reacted with slightly less apathy than usual," House repeats, slowly. Incredulously. "You thinkI'm jealous?" He scans sharply through the nooks and crannies of the oncologist's office for illegal drugs, bongs, orother instruments of pharmaceutical pleasure. Because the man is obviously stoned.
"You couldn't have gotten any more territorial if you pissed on the guy's shoes." "That was going to be my next plan of action." "You see?" As Wilson's right hand flexes excitedly in a warm-up to working itself into a finger-point, House finds himself inwardly cringing in apprehension of what's going to come flying out of his mouthnext. (An undoubtedly goopy sentiment like, 'You totally like her,' or something else equally inane.) "Youliked it when she paid attention to you. You enjoyed being the center of her universe. And now thatyou're not, it bugs you to no end." "That doesn't make me jealous," he retorts mildly. "That just makes me an attention whore. There's ahuge difference." "Speaking of huge, you see the size of that bouquet?" Off House's scowl, Wilson begins furiouslybackpedaling as he finds himself skidding into quicksand. "Not that size is." Lined with poison-ivy. "Allthat important." And brambles. "Because what truly matters is." In conclusion: "It was a very nicecorsage." The scowl only deepens. "You're worse than a teenage girl at a slumber party." "I'm not the one keeping tabs on the love life of my staff. You gonna set up curfew next?" Wilson's voicerises to a sweet falsetto,"'Dr. House, can I go on a date?'" "You seem to be far more interested in this subject than I am. What's the matter, Jimmy? Not getting anyat home?" "Have you forgotten? I'm married." Duh. He sighs. "Of course I'm not getting any." "So.you have to live your sex life vicariously through mine?" His lips make a fat 'pah' sound. "Hell no. You're not getting any either." "We should set up a losers club. Cuddy can be president. 'Cause I'm pretty sure she's." Fascinating, how Wilson alternates between several stages of pale and cherry as he snatches thePhysician's Desk reference from the corner of his desk, flipping it open to a random page.
". standing right behind me, isn't she?" (Cialis (tadalafil), a new selective inhibitor of cyclic guanosine monophosphate-specificphosphodiesterase type 5 indicated for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.) --leaving House to stare accusingly down at his lap, profoundly disturbed by the apparent betrayal ofpersonal warning receptors. "I didn't even feel a twinge." The "Dr. House" that cuts the air behind him promises a whole library of retribution in three sharpsyllables.
"Ah, there it is."----------------------------------------- See House argue. Loudly. Belligerently.
See Cuddy ignore, ignore and ignore.
See bodies in the clinic part like the Red Sea before Moses.
Locating the spot with the best acoustics, feet and cane plant mulishly in place as he bellows, "I have apatient who needs me." That, at least, seems to give Cuddy moment for pause. Until she swivels, slapping the full power of theadministrative death glare on him.
"You have three doctors looking after her. You can afford to spend a few hours taking care of peoplewho need you here." "Those idiots?" he protests, with all the sincerity he can muster (which, granted, isn't a whole lot, buthey, trying). "She really needs me. Desperately. In fact, I'm the only one who can do anything for her." "Really." Cuddy seems strangely unconvinced. "What's her name?" "Uh." Oh, damn. Gears in his head make loud, protesting groans, chugging through a moldy mentalRolodex as he hunts the overhead fluorescents for inspiration. "It's on the tip of my tongue." "Yeah. I thought so." Chart in hand, she begins directing him towards an examination room.
"Abigail," he tosses, offhand.
"Are you actually going to attempt the entire alphabet?" "Oh, look, here we are." With that, Cuddy opens the door and shoves the chart into his hands. "I savedthis one especially for you." Stumping dejectedly inside, he stops and turns. With the shark-like smile of a parent dropping her hellionoff at daycare, Cuddy waves buh-bye and quickly shuts the door.
Defeated, he reads, "Spontaneous bleeding of the head." Looks up.
And there it is. A small stream of blood trickling down the scalp of a man in his fifties. He looks fit.
Tanned and well-traveled. Probably owns a copy of every Lonely Planet guide in print.
"Been to any interesting places lately? Say, Central or South America?" House queries, slipping on apair of latex gloves. Parting the guy's hair, he shines a pen light onto his scalp.
"Lots of interesting creatures down there. Mosquitoes that infect you with malaria. Catfish that swim upyour urethra. Monkeys that give you Herpes." Three scalp lesions. Two bleeding. Settling back into a chair, he pulls out his cell phone.
Twenty minutes later, a knock at the door signals Chase's arrival. Furtively sliding in, he untucks thepaper bag from under his arm and places it on the counter. Pulls out a six-pack and a Camels.
"Beer and cigarettes." Holds a bottle out to his boss. "Extra Special Bitter." "Aren't you precious?" Uncapping it, House offers the bottle to Spontaneous Bleeding Head Wound,before taking the second for himself.
"Are you going to tell me what's wrong with me?" "Yep." He takes a long pull. "I'm even going to fix it for you. But," and gestures with the bottle, "you needto finish that first." With six bottles of beer quickly polished off between three men, House leans back with a sigh of satisfaction, unwraps the pack of cigarettes and lights up.
"I thought you weren't supposed to smoke in hospitals." "That is true. And yet, every afternoon at one-fifteen, the fire stairwell on the east wing goes up like achimney." "Post-lunch fix," comes the confirmation.
One deep puff later, House blows smoke down the neck of the empty bottle, trapping it there with histhumb. A jerk of his chin and Chase moves in. "Glove up and put your fingers here," he points to eachside of the lesion, "and here. When I tell you, squeeze as hard as you can." There's another drag for good measure, before he finally explains. "Dermatobia hominis. Also known asthe Human Botfly. Their larvae set up little shanty-towns in your skin. These little lesions on your head?Home sweet home." Inverting the beer bottle, he presses it directly over the reddened bump. "Let'ssmoke 'em out." "I'm getting a cramp," Chase complains, shifting from foot to foot, hands still pressed on the man's scalp.
More minutes pass. Just as Chase opens his mouth to lodge yet another protest, the tiny pale head of agrub pokes out of the hole.
He squeezes, pressing down and in, and with a surprisingly solid plink, something shoots out and hitsthe back of the bottle.
Two episodes of smoking, squeezing and scalp torture later, the results tally up to three wiggly crittersconfined in solitary. Taking a last drag off his cigarette, House thinks, this clinic duty thing wouldn't be sobad if every remedy involved liberal doses of alcohol and smokes.
"I'm thinking about naming them," he suggests, when the walking Botfly nursery is gone. "How do Violet,Klaus and Sunny sound?" "How did you know how to get these things out?" Chase curiously peers down the neck of the bottle,watching the grub twist and curl like a dry Tequila worm.
A vague, "old Army trick," is the only answer he gets.
House tilts his head, amused. "Just so you know, those things are capable of jumping up to six feet inthe air." Jerking the bottle away from his eye, Chase slaps the bottle cap back on and plunks it gingerly back onthe counter. Clears his throat.
"About Elaine Sutton," he begins.
Only to be promptly rewarded with a blank stare.
"The patient." Still nada. "The one with the rash and arrhythmia?" "Oh, her." Eyebrows furrow. "Elaine." Followed by a despondent sigh. "I was almost there." Unbelievable. "May I point out, you were the one who brought this case to us?" "Tch." An impatient wave of hand as House leans back in his chair. "You can't expect me to remembereverything." "Well, we gave her the DigiFab. She stabilized, but now we've got new signs. Symptomatic hypokalemia.
Electrolyte abnormalities." A shrug-- "That's to be expected." "Elevated cortisol, decreased aldosterone." --that morphs into a frown. "That's not." "Cameron doesn't think it was the digitalis." "Really." His tongue clicks against the roof of his mouth. "Well then, if Dr. Cameron doesn't think it wasthe digitalis, then she can spin the urine again and get some blood as well. Have her run an ultrasoundand CT. Check for pseudoaldosteronism." "Can't." House looks up. "She's left already. Has something going on tonight. You want me to run thetests?" He nods, distracted. "Get the patient on a Holter monitor while you're at it." After Chase leaves, he pulls out his cell phone and dials. The tone on the other side chirps once andpunts to voice mail. Sneaky. With a smile, House brings up the pager on his speed dial and hits SEND.
----------------------------------------- See House. See House call. See Allison come running.
He spies her a moment before she sees him, and in that infinitesimal parcel of time, allows himself toappreciate the sight of her in jeans and blouse striding through the clinic, coat thrown over hershoulders, and valise in hand. Her hair is unbound, a little mussed, actually, as if she'd been interruptedfrom some activity involving.a great deal of hair mussing.
When Cameron finally locates him, hovering (of all places) near the nurses' station, he leans forward,both hands pressed atop his cane, and fixes her with a stare.
"You don't think it was the digitalis." She is beautiful and artless in her bewilderment, and he thinks he likes that very much.
"You paged me four times just to tell me that?" And she can only stare back, self-consciously tucking an errant lock of hair behind her ear.
"No, no, I think you're right; I don't think it's digitalis either. But there is something that it is, and I'mthinking we probably should find out what." As always, all roads eventually lead to: "A bit of B and E?" "Listen to you." He pops a pill. "Gettin' down with the homeys. After casing the joint, I say we headdowntown and boost us some Hondas." Allison Cameron, of the impossibly patient and compassionate nature, does not call him a giant dork.
"No time. Besides, he's busy. Date, or something. Think he might be running low on Claritin samples?" "It's not as if you have anything better to do." Phony shock, consternation of the worst kind, flittersacross his face. "Did you? My bad. But since you're the one who's here now," Slinging his bag over hisshoulder, he nods towards the glass doors, "you're driving."----------------------------------------- Cane tucked under his arm, both hands pull on the railing as he hops one-legged, up the flight of stairsleading to the front deck of the Sutton residence, grumbling bitterly all along the way. Cameron following quietly behind, only vaguely tunes in to his long-winded and needlessly pedantic complaints and curses,treading mental waters between irritation, anxiety, and gradually increasing suspicions regarding herboss.
When they near the top, he pauses. Whips his cane back out and pokes at the wood with its tip. Beneaththe brief bit pressure, the stair creaks and bows with a wet moan.
"Watch the last step," he warns, before hauling himself up and over.
At the door, he works slowly, laconically juggling the lockpick tools between his fingers like long, sharpneedles. He's taking far too long, and it's beginning to rain.
"Not meaning to rush you or anything," Cameron lifts her hand to stave the drops of water plinking downon her, "but are you going to be done any time soon?" The end of the tension tool flicks up and down in his mouth as he blinks. "Are you going to rust?" "Yeah, well, Foreman has a lot more experience with the illegal search and seizure." The wind scatters a few wet leaves in their direction as Cameron impatiently pulls her coat closeraround.
"Do you even know how to do this?" A roll of eyes. "Maybe if I weren't being constantly interrupted by a back-seat burglar." Pulling thetension wrench from between his teeth, he slips it into the lock. "It's been a while." "Right." She watches with no small amount of distraction, his hands. House's hands. House's fingersdelicately finessing the bit of steel in the door. "When you were my age, you had to walk twenty miles inthe snow, uphill, both ways, to find a convenience store to knock over." "Nice," comes the drawl. "You're a lot of fun when you're in a bad mood." "I'm a lot more fun when I'm in a good mood. And while your skills are undoubtedly mad and leet," Amoment of fishing in her valise unearths an EZ snap gun, which Cameron proffers. "I'd rather not tostand out here any longer than I have to." "Aren't you the happy little hooligan?" he murmurs, taking it from her. "Foreman get you this forChristmas?" His face is a mask of mock hurt. "He never gave me anything for my birthday." "Except," and he lifts a finger for this, "when they involve presents. And cake. Can't say no to cake." Seconds later, the door clicks open.
The inside is warm, homey, if a little messy. There's a piano in living room, upright, unlike his babygrand, and it occurs to House in a strange and rather abrupt manner that the only other time he's shareda non-public space with Cameron was at his own apartment.
You like me. Why? he'd asked. She'd answered before she left. He suspected it was only a fragment ofthe truth.
How do you feel about me? she'd turned back on him.
(Wear the blue. Mention her shoes. Be a jerk. DHA. Do her, or you're gay. I think she likes lame. Somerelationships aren't meant to happen. Sittin' in a tree.) It was all very vague, the strange little dance he didn't (wouldn't) fully comprehend, all sorts of sharpedges and dark corners filled with groping couples.
(And this is what has always been between them, a series of self-indulgent monologues. From him.
From her. They assume. They project. She presses pop psychology on him, and he comes backswinging, hitting below the belt, telling her in no uncertain terms: she's damaged, he's damaged; thesum of their interactions little more than a series of snipes, half-baked analyses and crayon-paintedpictures.) Leaving Cameron to (and he notes, quite efficiently) tear up the main room, he moves to the kitchen,using the time and distance to collect all the bits and pieces of thought scattered in his head.
He wants to ask again: Why? - this time without the peer pressure or threat of impending doom. For hisown edification, of course.
When he opens the refrigerator door, what pops out of his mouth instead, is: "When's the wedding?" (Whoa. He's really got to get a better translation unit.) Something breaks in the living room. "What?" "Isn't it how that usually happens?" (Ground beef. Sausages. Ricotta Cheese. Butter. Whole milk. Hemakes a mental note to schedule Elaine Sutton for a future triple bypass.) "Dating. Moving in. Gettinghitched and living happily ever after. I bet you've already got china patterns picked out." As he shuts the fridge, Cameron comes back to the kitchen with a handful of glass chunks that wereprobably part of something obnoxiously cute in their former incarnation.
"Think she's going to miss this one?" Her eyebrows beetle in an adorably guilty expression. Poor widdle "I'm ashamed of you, Dr. Cameron. Somewhere in the world, there's a virgin crying herself to sleep overits demise." Foot pressed to the lid release, she lets the pieces fall into the trash and watches the cover drop backdown.
"Fifty more back there last time I checked." "In that case, you're safe. Not that many virgins left in the world. I'd advise against touching any moreunicorns, though." His voice lowers, sly and dark, as one eyebrow arches for the ceiling. "They seem toknow." Moving to a cabinet, he finds a box of tea. Opens it up and sniffs its contents. "So. Let's discuss yourimpending nuptials." "Actually, let's not. Unless you were planning to get me a present." He pulls a half-used tin of Copenhagen smokeless from a shelf. Twirls it thoughtfully between hisfingers.
"I'll buy the both of you a spoon." A quick, sideways glance reveals that Cameron appears to be fixated by his hands. Looking up, sheseems to realize this as well, and abruptly turns away.
"You don't get to do this." Stalking to the sink, she roughly yanks a drawer open. "You don't get to pushme away and then try to dictate my personal life. This has nothing to do with you. Who I see is none ofyour business." "Okay," he responds blandly. In a way that's anything but. "Seems to me though, you moved on prettyfast, especially after all that 'being in love' crap you dumped into my lap." The drawer slams shut. "That was three months ago. And I never said I was in--no." Cameron kneels,raising a hand, before opening the cabinet underneath. "I'm not having this conversation with you.
Circumstances change. People move on. But I guess you wouldn't know anything about that." He's still staring at the box of chew. Musing. Tea and tobacco. "You need to space out your assumptionsa little more." "And you need to stop stealing from Vonnegut. Unfortunately, we can't always get what we--" She jumps at the sudden bang, nearly concussing herself against the underside of the sink. Peeringover the kitchen island, she finds House, hands pressed against the cabinet door, eyes shut, and a sicklittle grin pulling at the corners his mouth. When he opens them again, "hand slipped," is all he offers,before moving on.
The rest of the ransacking continues in tense silence, with him poking through the upper shelves, herrifling through the lower ones.
"Licorice cough drops," Cameron mutters, as she comes across an impressive stash of junk food next toa ten pound bag of rice. "Licorice candy. She certainly likes licorice." That seems to pique House's interest. "Check her liquor cabinet. Ten to one there's Sambuca in it." Several minutes and one room later, it's confirmed. Behind her, House tears open the top of a bag ofcandy. Pops a piece into his mouth, chewing thoughtfully, before offering it to her.
Her face scrunches in disgust as she declines. "What is it with you guys eating other people's food?" "What?" he mumbles innocently, diving once more through the bag. "It was unopened." As another piecedisappears into his mouth, there's an appreciative nod for the finer things. "This is really good stuff." Cameron only sighs. Through the picture frame window, she sees the rain has temporarily stopped.
Opening the door, she steps out onto the deck.
"Watch out for the step," he reminds her, too late. Her foot catches on the uneven groove, wood bucklingbeneath her foot, and she finds herself stumbling, falling forward, as an arm whips itself around herwaist. His free hand clutches the doorjamb for purchase, with the other planted firmly over her hipbone,and they both hover, momentarily suspended, teetering on the brink of mutual collapse, before balancereasserts itself and he pulls her back against him.
"It's a doozy," he murmurs, the movement of his unshaven jaw prickling her ears. And she finds itsuddenly difficult to hear through the pulse ricocheting in her head. He moves fast. Faster than any manwith a limp has any right to. He's surprisingly strong. His hands are shockingly warm. And the handle ofhis cane is digging into her ribs.
Turning her head ever-so slightly tosses her into the beguiling thought that if he moves, and she moves,and they both move together, they could connect.
(But of course they never do. She pulls, he pushes, and even in this moment where everything's flippedon its side, this constant tug-of-war between them invariably, always goes nowhere.) So she swings back into safer territory instead, focusing on the single faulty step and says, "I was goingto check the garage." They linger in this position for a little longer, before he loosens his hold. Slowly. Like a deflating bloodpressure cuff. Once assured of her proper footing, he drops his arm completely.
"No need. Found what I was looking for." Of course, House doesn't bother to elucidate. Much more fun this way. For him, at least. Moving past herand hopping easily down the stairs, he stumps towards the car, leaving Cameron to trail along behind,shaking her head in bemusement.
4 - Long Walk to. (2)
-----------------------------------------3b ----------------------------------------- Those flowers again. Pretty roses perched in an equally pretty vase. In contrast with the drab conferenceroom; a dark, deep pink, unlike like the two blood-red coffee mugs beside it.
They're the first thing his eyes gravitate to; what halts him abruptly in mid-step.
Cameron makes a soft sound as she nearly collides with his back, shooting a mixed, quizzical glance hisway before joining Foreman and Chase at the table. House merely throttles his cane. Looks at his feet,then away.
"Glycyrrhiza glabra; Greek for 'sweet root,'" begins the lecture, as he fascinates himself with fiddling inhis pocket. "Found in teas, chewing tobacco, anisette, and," Pulls out his bag of purloined goods,offering it all around, "candy." "Stuff's nasty," Foreman declares, turning his nose up. Chase, naturally, takes a piece for himself.
"Licorice produced in the United States, though, doesn't contain any glycyrrhizic acid. It's all that fakestuff. If you want the real thing, you have to import it from places like--" Flipping the bag over, he squintsat the label, "--Freiburg." Seals and tosses the rest to Chase. "While full of tasty goodness, large dosesof real licorice results in hypertension, rhabdomylosis, hives and, uh." Two fingers twirl in the air, beforesnapping together. "Impotence." A piece of wet, masticated candy shoots across the room, as Foreman crosses his arms with a smirk.
"Relax, Aqualung. You'd have to eat a whole lot more." "That's it?" The disappointment is nearly palpable. "It was the licorice?" "Apparently this bores Dr. Foreman." Sidling up to the neurologist, House stage whispers," Don't worry,there's still a good chance she'll go into acute renal failure. In the meantime, while Kevorkian here waitsfor our patient to flatline," The cane arcs in a line drive towards the door. "Get her on Spironolactone forthe rhabdomylosis, Mucomyst for her kidneys and monitor her electrolytes. See that the only thing thatgoes into her mouth has hooves and comes in seven fruity flavors." Completing the circle, the tip pops under Chase's hand. Flicking the bag of licorice up and out, Housecasually swipes it from midair.
As the three trudge off to do his bidding, he circles the table slowly, distrustfully eyeing the centerpiece like a Claymore mine. Or one of Cameron's Christmas decorations.
"Pink," Consonants at both ends of the word stress as Cameron pauses in the doorway, "meansgratitude. Matthew the Grateful," he mouths, trying the title on for size, "patron saint of accountants.
Doesn't really seem to be your type." "And what exactly is my 'type'?" Her inflection informs House in no uncertain terms just how close he'swinging to a no-fly zone.
"Terminal." No-fly zone? That sucker's headed for the side of a large, pointy building. Looming a littlecloser, he draws up that few extra inches of advantage over her. "Or maybe he is. So what's he have?Six months? A year?" Silence. Fingers clutch the doorjamb. "Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis," drops out in short, clipped bursts.
"It's the usual. Riluzole causes nausea. Amitryptiline, depression. Sometimes it's so bad, not even theTramadol." She fixes such a long, suffering glare on him. "You can be such a jerk." Oh. No. No, no, no. Chin meets chest. "You have got to be--" "Actually, yes, I was kidding." His head snaps up. "Except for the part where you're a jerk. That's stilltrue." Without offering any chance of a rejoinder, Cameron stalks off around the corner, leaving House in thewake of that little polar ice cap, and thinking she really ought to get angry more often.
"Wow, Greg," a familar dulcet voice pricks at his ears, "with all that charm you're pouring on, it's awonder she doesn't go flying straight to your arms." Great. Fan-tastic. Neck tilting back, eyes slip shut as his head taps against the wall. "Worked on you,didn't it?" "Yes, but confrontations are my thing. Bartering. Negotiations. Mutually beneficial agreements." StacyWarner's gaze flickers over to the now empty hallway. "That.wasn't really a negotiation, though. Morelike an attempt at a hostile takeover, if you ask me." "I think I hear an ambulance out front. Why don't you go check on it?" There's an impending migrainethundering out on his horizon, and right now her voice feels like four fracking bullets in his skull. "Whatare you doing back here anyway? Didn't Cuddy fire you?" "Ha ha. Mark's here for an overnight follow-up." "And the dutiful wife's decided to accompany him. Hold his hand while he gets poked and prodded. Hownice. Five weeks ago, you were all but ready to ditch the big dip." off her sneer, the last syllable slurs,".per. Or maybe it's because it was the little one? Why you're here on this floor is another matter. Eitheryou're still feeling extremely guilty and being the ever-so supporting spouse or," he scratches his chinlugubriously for effect, "you just can't stay away." Crossing her arms, she shakes her head and leans beside him against the partition.
"To think, I almost missed it here." A grunt. "Good times, no?" The eye closest to her slides open as a nebulous (and probably bad) ideatakes shape. "Still have those contacts at the DA's?" "Think you can run a background check run on someone? See if there's any history of familydisturbances. Child abuse. Alcoholism. Find out if he's set fire to any kittens. That sort of thing." One eyebrow lifts. "Moved on from death-row inmates to serial killers?" With a click of his tongue, House shoots her a lopsided grin. "You've been watching CSI reruns again,haven't you? I'd like to think of this as more of a precautionary measure." That thinly-veiled, dubious stare again. How he's missed it so.
"Oh, come on. What good are exes for if not committing questionable ethical breaches? It's not like I'masking you to do anything illegal," quickly amended with, "this time." That eyebrow thing's still going on.
His smile drifts into something subtly unfriendly. And for that moment, resentment bubbles up, thick andugly, before settling back into the usual, familiar insouciance. "Fine. See if I ever shove a syringe intoyour husband's bladder again." A scoff. "Please. You'd do it again, just for kicks." "Yeah," he concedes. "Probably." Nearly effortlessly, he banks and swerves, shifting tactics. "Think of allthose poor, flammable kittens." Stacy's mouth draws tight, pressed into a thin little line. "I'll ask around." (His little victory smirk nearly makes her take it all back, but he seems so inordinately pleased withhimself, that she doesn't have the heart to.) And then. and then. Nothing. In the sudden absence of conversation, he fidgets, groping for words,apologies and other foreign terms, but she beats him to the lip.
She cuts him off. "I get it. I do. Life with you is.was.an extended debate. We fought. We competed.
We were passionate and we had great--" He turns to her. "You don't think.?" "Just checking." It seems to her, though, his heart's not really in it.
"Like you said," she says softly. "Some things change." "Yeah. Some don't. And sometimes it doesn't matter how right or perfect it is," Stacy looks at him. Hestill hurts, just a little bit. So does she. And she thinks, it's always going to hurt a little bit. Taking hishand, she curls her fingers between his, reminiscing, remembering how they used to fit. "Sometimes it'sjust not enough."----------------------------------------- "He's so cool!" Chase flicks his index finger against the hanging IV. "Can I be his friend too?" Foreman doesn't bother to look up from monitors. "You haven't got a high enough tolerance for pain." Patterns of shallow dents run up Elaine Sutton's face and chest, finger-sized impressions slowly refillingwith fluids. Cameron gently taps below the zygomatic, leaving another set of indentations to linger in herbloated and sweaty skin.
"Sorry he had to pull you off your date too." "House said you were out with Sharon." Stethoscope to the patient's chest, she frowns. Focuses on theabnormal pattern of thumps before motioning Chase over. "Listen to this. Does this sound odd to you?" A minute later, "I don't hear anything out of the ordinary." "I've got nothing," concurs Foreman.
"I could have." But no. Perhaps she's hearing things.
"And I wasn't on a date," he adds.
"This is funny for you?" Cameron snaps, at Chase's ill-concealed snicker.
"Actually, it is. For the first time, House isn't fixated on torturing me. Keep doing whatever it is you'redoing to piss him off. I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts."----------------------------------------- Thoughtful, in the most unimaginative manner. Romantic enough to make a baby barf. Deeply ingrainedparanoia shambles to the surface as House contemplates the vase and all its cloying contents.
They're plotting something. Oh, yes they are. All bunched together, their evil fluffy heads bowed in adark pink huddle, undoubtedly hatching some Voglerian plot of Diagnostics-room domination.
"She's positive for Chvostek's sign. We're running an ELISA and HPLC to confirm the diagnosis." They're talking. Communicating. They're actually - He half-turns from the conference table. Oh. Cameron. A quick, guilty glance back. Well, of coursethey're not saying anything. That would be insane.
"Who's staying with our squishy patient?" "Foreman's with her until Chase gets back, since he apparently wasn't busy tonight." "He lied to me?" Stunned, really. Appalled. And a gaggle of other expressions he's doing a lousy job oflooking remotely convincing at. "I'm shocked." Not even Cameron buys it. "Foreman isn't the one who feels the need to lie all the time." "Really. Ask him about the tattoos sometime. They're not gang, they're zen. Where's Chase?" "Changing. Partway through diuresis, Elaine developed tachycardia and vomited on him." "That's different. Usually the patients puke on you." "Comes with the exchange, I guess. Since you've apparently decided to." And her mouth suddenlysnaps shut.
Unfortunately, before he can wheedle or bully more out of her, Cameron conveniently develops asoundtrack; one starring.a, a balalaika?.strumming out something that sounds revoltingly like Dr.
Zhivago
. Four measures float by before House realizes it's actually not all in his head; in fact, it's comingfrom her pants.
She blinks once before reaching down into her pocket, taking a few steps off to a slightly more privatecorner. Snippets here and there of the one-sided conversation reach him at random intervals, none ofwhich, thankfully, involve murmured sweet nothings.
"Yeah." A look shoots his way, as she wraps up the call. "I'm done here." And she is. Efficiently packed and nearly out the door, Cameron pauses only when he calls out hername.
She follows the line of sight from shoulder, down his arm, across his cane, to the rubber tip stoppedinches away from the vase.
As events of the day finally come to a crawling halt, Cameron decides, uncharity can swing both ways,and what better place to begin than at home? "No.I think I'll leave them here." And with a cheery smile she's far more successful at faking, twists themetaphorical thorns in further, "It'll be a nice change, brighten the place up a little."----------------------------------------- Like any creature of habit, he loathes each and every instance.
Despite the dimmed lights, he can sense those flowers brightening up the conference room; can taste itin the air. Insidious and unwelcome, slick and bold on the tip of his tongue.
Change brought his infarction and five years of shedding loved ones, friends, alienating anyone,everyone who couldn't watch him fall apart any longer. It left him one year of relative peace with theillusion of equilibrium. Then change brought Vogler and Stacy sailing through his life again.
Dragging the chair across the office, one leg at a time, House rolls slowly over to the blinds. Reaches forthe drawstring. Twirling the cord around his index finger, he hesitates.
The future for him, change, as far as he can see, only offers increased pain, the slow and systematicdestruction of vital organs. Thinning hair. Tooth decay. Gradual loss of the world he used to know, aworld where he was clever and brilliant, where he still had something to offer. People. Things. Alleventually fading away, to be forgotten by everyone. Even him.
Inevitable, and invariably unavoidable.
Hell if he's going to let some three-named serial-killing accountant get away with it, though.
With a firm yank, he draws the blinds tightly shut.
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