IMPORTANT A/N: I must “halt proceedings”, briefly, at this point, to offer a tremendous thanks to blackmare_9. Since Chapter 27, she’s been suddenly, involuntarily, and unexpectedly thrust into the role of sole first reader (didn’t do it on purpose—my other first reader apparently grew tired of the story), and she’s cheerfully stepped up to the plate, made time to comment, criticize, praise, and encourage, despite her own hectic life and even her own writing projects. And there are… just not enough words to convey how very much that sacrifice means to me; friends like her are priceless. Were it not for her, I would’ve had to halt proceedings for real after chapter 26, for an indeterminate amount of time. SOOO, a hearty round of applause for blackmare_9, please! mjf
CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE: SIGHT
Cameron approaches the bed; she’s holding a syringe.
“What’s that?” he asks. His posture makes it clear that Cameron’s overstepped her bounds, and Cameron is insulted.
“Dr. Cameron,” Cuddy intervenes, “Dr. Wilson will be questioning everything you do; get used to it. He’s the closest thing we have to House right now; you’re not to begin any new treatment without checking with him first.”
Cameron nods her grudging understanding, and turns to
“It’s not been widely studied,” Cameron admits. “But the risks are minimal, and it could really help.” She hands
Cameron looks to Cuddy for help; Cuddy says nothing, simply inclines her head towards the door.
Once Cameron has left,
“You’re very good with him,” Cuddy observes quietly.
“Never know how much he’s aware of,”
“Credit, for finally doing the right thing? Doesn’t work that way. No bonus points for doing too late what I should’ve been doing all along. You know when I blew it? Long time ago. His first week back at work, when he came to me and told me he was in pain. And I… laughed at him. Really; I laughed, told him he’d taken so much Vicodin he couldn’t even recognize the normal aches and pains of middle age.”
“But that was probably the truth!” Cuddy interjects.
“We’ll never know. And the reason we’ll never know is, I let the window close. Hell, it didn’t just close, it slammed shut. Told you back then that we had a small window of time when he might be healthy enough to change. What I didn’t realize was, House was giving me a window, too. And I consciously closed it—locked it and threw away the key. And then… I drew the blinds over it!”
“What are you talking about?”
“When House showed up in my office. He didn’t come in there as a friend; he actually presented himself as a patient—a frightened patient. Didn’t make any jokes; wasn’t at all casual. Hell—he wouldn’t even look at me! When I asked him how bad the pain was, know what he said? Said, ‘Bad enough that I’m telling you.’ If one of my oncology patients had come in, scared that his cancer had returned, and I’d laughed in his face, my practice wouldn’t last very long—I wouldn’t deserve to have a practice.”
“But it’s understandable that you wouldn’t know how to react; House had never come to you as a patient before.”
“And that only makes my behavior more inexcusable. There he was, giving me that opportunity to help him medically. Doing what I’d been after him for years to do, actually talking seriously about his condition. I laugh, blow off his concerns, wave my prescription pad at him and make sure he sees me put it away. What I did to him, it was… cruel.”
Cuddy realizes that there’s nothing she can say;
“The worst thing about all that,”
“Did it ever occur to you,” Cuddy says thoughtfully, “that it was your caring and concern that made you act as you did? It’s a perfectly normal reaction for us to want the people we love not to be suffering. Maybe you just… weren’t ready to face it, that despite the treatment, nothing had changed for him. That’s certainly understandable.”
“I’ll do my best,” she promises.
“I… had a nightmare. Forced me to take a look at a few things. But I want to know. Am I still in denial? Have I done the wrong thing? Am I still being selfish?”
Cuddy thinks for quite a while before she answers. “I don’t think so, not based on all that you’ve told me. Because… if you’d followed your heart months ago, when all this started, I think you’d have just naturally made the right decisions. Same for me. But what we did was… we punished House, for the misbehavior of his body. In the last few days, though, it’s been different. This crisis has stripped away right and wrong. What it’s left you with is… an inability to do anything except follow your own instincts. There’s no denial now, no good versus bad, no personal agendas. All you’ve got to go on is… what’s true. And House—well, he values honesty above all else. So….”