Thanks again to all those who were so supportive
of my first fan fic effort, "The Favor." I hope you like this as well; and rtlemurs, I hope you don't mind but I used your
name from Tuition for Cameron's husband. Didn't want the guy to have a bunch of aliases!
The early morning sun
seeped through the blinds in House's office. He tapped slowly on the computer keyboard, dragging out the work as long as possible;
only clinic duty awaited him once his work was done. The dread at that prospect began to sour his mood when he heard a gentle
tap at his door. He knew who it was without looking up; she was the only one who ever knocked.
"Dr. House, are you
busy?" asked Cameron as she stepped inside the door.
"Just looking through internet porn,"
he replied, "I'm a lonely guy you know."
Cameron stole a glance
at the computer screen, half expecting her boss to be telling the truth. "My dad's in town with my mom for a business conference
"And you were wondering
if you could have the day off," House picked up. He gave Cameron a look sufficiently stern enough to make her nervous about
the request. It's not that he minded giving her the day off; he just didn't want it getting around that such a request would
be an easy one
"No," replied Cameron,
much to House's surprise, "my parents are going to stop by the hospital around
3 and I wanted them to meet you, Foreman, and Chase."
"Why?" asked House.
Meeting a girl's parents is never fun, whether you're the boyfriend or the boss.
"You know how parents
are. They like to know who their kids are hanging out with. They don't want me falling in with a bad crowd."
"Then you definitely
don't want them meeting me," said House, hoping that would get him out of the unwanted invitation.
"Chase and Foreman
are meeting me downstairs in the lobby at 3. Please. I promise it will only take a few minutes. Then you can get back to your
I'll be there," said House. "Now let me get back to work and you get back to yours. I'm not paying you to stand around with
your hands in your pockets."
Cameron left, satisfied
that her request had been granted. House sulked, pissed he had granted it.
The three young doctors
stood around in a tight circle in the lobby.
Cameron glanced at
the clock; it was almost 10 after and neither Dr. House nor her parents were there. The small talk had died a couple of minutes
before and she could tell that Chase and Foreman were getting ansy.
The sound of a cell phone broke the silence;
Cameron reached into her pocket.
"Hello. Mom! Where are you guys? Did you get lost? Oh...ok...sure I understand. At 6? I'll see you then. Love you.
Cameron hung up the
phone just as the elevator doors opened and Dr.
House stepped off. As he walked towards
his team, he noticed the sullen look on their faces, particularly Cameron's.
"Why so sad? Did I
miss the big moment? I do so love parent and child reunions."
"They're not coming,"
replied Cameron, trying to sound nonchalant through her disappointment. "My dad ran into a couple of business associates he
needed to speak to. I'm meeting them for dinner later."
"Sorry to hear it.
Not the dinner part, the other thing." House turned to leave as Chase and Foreman said their good-byes. Cameron came up behind
him, just as he reached the elevator.
"Dr. House, would you
like to have dinner with us tonight? It's nothing fancy, just the resturaunt at the hotel where mom and dad are staying"
House pivoted slightly
on his cane. He looked down at Cameron's pleading eyes. He was unmoved.
"No. Go ask Chase or
Foreman if you want the additional company." He got on the elevator and turned to face Cameron. She looked like she was about
to cry; the damaged part of her soul was fighting it's way to the surface. "Take the rest of the day off to get ready for
your dinner date.
Unless J. Lo has started a new trend, I
don't think jeans and a lab coat are the most fashionable choice for the occassion."
As the elevator doors closed, Cameron headed
to her little office to get her things. She kept her head down, hoping no one would notice the start of tears welling in her
Cameron pulled her
car into the hotel parking lot. The place was packed with rentals, probably belonging to her dad's fellow business travelers,
but she managed to find a space fairly close to the hotel entrance. She pulled the visor mirror down and gave her make-up
and hair one last check before she got out. She stood outside her car for a moment,
trying to check her dress in the sideview mirror. She smoothed the few creases
left from driving and headed towards the hotel's front entrance.
"Ally!" Cameron's mom
yelled across the hotel lobby. Cameron blushed as the strangers milling around looked up to watch her walk into her mother's
outstretched arms. As they hugged, the spectators turned back to their own affairs in an attempt to give the two women some
privacy in this very public place.
Cameron's mom pulled
away and looked proudly at her little girl. She had accomplished so much and words could never express how much that meant
to her. She surpressed the urge to cry because she knew it would start a chain reaction and both of them would have ruined
"You're dad's going
to be so happy to see you! He's waitng for us in bar. Come on." She led her daughter by the hand towards the resturaunt.
"Hal! Ally's here!"
A gentlemen with salt
and pepper hair peaked around the other patrons sitting at the bar. He smiled broadly and walked over to the two women.
"There's my girl!"
he said as he embraced Cameron.
"Doesn't she look wonderful?"
her mom gushed.
"She certainly looks
like she's eating well. Put on a couple of pounds since the last time we saw you."
Cameron pulled her
wrap around her shoulders a little tighter and managed a weak smile. "You look good dad. Is that a new suit?" She knew it
wasn't; her dad still had the same suits hanging in his closet that were there when she was in high school. They were just
as out-of-style then as they were now but there was nothing wrong with giving the old man's ego a boost.
"Come on, lets eat.
I'm starving." Hal called the waiter over. As they made their way to the table, Cameron noticed some of the men in the room
looking at her. Nothing wrong with a little ego boost for herself. After they were seated, the waiter took their drink orders
and left them to look over the menus.
"Oh, Ally, I can't
tell you how happy I am to see you again. It's been way too long." Her mom reached out and touched Cameron's cheek.
"Dottie, stop babying
her. She's a grown woman," Hal chastised, breaking the tender moment. Dottie pulled her hand away and opened her menu. Cameron
saw the hurt look in her mom's eyes and wished she had said something to her dad. The moment, however, was now gone so she
too began to look over the menu. The waiter soon appeared with their drinks, ready to take their orders.
"I'll just have the
chicken caesar salad," said Cameron. She could have eaten a porterhouse steak; her only meal that day had been a pack of crackers
from the vending machine at the hospital. She still felt the sting of her father's comment about her weight, however, and
decided she could always grab a late-night snack when she got home.
"Tell us all about
your new job, sweetie," Dottie said as the waiter walked away. Cameron eagerly launced into a description of her work at the
hospital. She told them about Foreman and Chase and what great doctors they were. She told them about Dr. House, although
she left out some of the more colorful aspects of his personality. She told them what a brilliant oncologist Dr. Wilson was
and what a tough administrator Dr. Cuddy was. She even told them about a few of the more interesting cases she had worked
on, like Lucy's Wilson's disease and John Henry's missed AVM. The waiter bringing the food was the only reason she finished
"Sounds like a good
job," said her father, cutting into his steak, "but if you'd taken that job at Duke University medical center, you'd probably
have all that plus a bigger salary."
"Well, money isn't
everything, dad. Besides, I make enough." said Cameron, disappointed that her dad didn't share her enthusiasm.
"I'll remember that
the next time you call home to ask for financial help," her father replied as if that circumstance was inevitable.
They continued to eat,
making small talk until the conversation came round to her mother's favorite subject: Cameron's love life. "Are you seeing
anyone special," she asked, trying not to sound too hopeful. Cameron gave them the usual excuse: Work took up too much of
her time to have much of a social life at the moment. Her mother tried unsuccessfully to hide the disappointment on her face.
"I'm sorry to pry,
honey. I just worry about you being lonely."
"She wouldn't have
to worry about that if she had married someone who was healthy the first go round."
Cameron sat stunned.
She knew her dad had never approved of her marriage to Jamie. "You're just asking to be hurt," he'd told her at the time but
she couldn't believe he would say something so hurtful.
"Hal, please," Dottie
implored but either the heat of the moment or the three rum and Cokes Hal had downed made him keep going, keep twisting the
knife into the most wounded part of Cameron's soul.
"Well, it's true. Made
no sense at all for an attractive young girl like you to waste your time marrying someone who was going to die before the
ink on the marriage certificate was dry."
"I loved him, dad,"
Cameron managed to stammer out in a soft whisper. She could feel the heat rising in her cheeks. She waited, praying her mom
would step in and defend her the way she did when her daughter had told them about the marriage. Her mother sat silent, her
head down, avoiding the gaze of both her husband and her daughter.
"Well, contrary to
popular belief, love does not conquer all, especially cancer. But you had to find that out the hard way."
"How do you know how
hard it was for me!" The words practically burst from Cameron's soul like air from an over-filled balloon. "You didn't even
come to his funeral or bother to send a lousy sympathy card!" The other patrons turned towards the commotion in the same way
people slow down to see a traffic accident.
"Ally, please!" her
mother implored, looking around at the people now treating their domestic dispute as a free show with their dinner. She reached
out and touched her daughter's arm. Cameron pulled away as she pushed her chair back and stood to face her father.
"How dare you treat
my marriage like one of your business deals gone bad! We lived more in the few months we had together than most people who've
been married decades! But you wouldn't know that because you never made the time to get to know Jamie or us as a couple. And
if you had ever bothered to take the time to get to know me, you would have never said those things!" Cameron grabbed her
wrap and headed towards the door.
"Come back her, young
lady! Don't you walk away like that!" Hal yelled after her as the initial shock of his daughters defiance wore off. It was
too late. Cameron was in her car, pulling out of the parking lot before her parents had gathered their wits enough to try
House pushed the chair
back from his desk. He was going to be here all night trying to catch up on this damn clinic paperwork. It wasn't enough that
Cuddy tortured him by making him work in that dungeon, she wanted him to put the details in writing. He doubted she even read
them; he'd thought of putting little things in there like, "By the way, the skirt you wore today was a bit short, don't you
think," or "Don't hold me to this because I had Scotch for lunch and I don't know what the hell is going on!" just to see
if she bothered to even pick up his files. That would mean taking even more time to do the paperwork, however, and his time
was too precious to waste, no matter how much the additions would annoy Cuddy. He grabbed his cane and pushed himself up.
His leg protested for a moment as he cursed at it under his breath. A quick walk around the hallways would clear his mind
and loosen the stiff muscles caused by working at the computer.
He was rounding the
corner to head back to his office when something caught his eye. A solitary figure sat in Cameron's office, looking at files
and typing notes into the computer. Once his eyes adjusted to the dim lighting within, he realized it was indeed Cameron.
He hadn't recognized her at first; she was wearing a deep purple dress, modestly cut. She had kicked off her shoes, which
lay where they had fallen near the front of her desk. Her hair was down, partially covering the side of her face. She'd obviously
made it to dinner with her parents. House looked at his watch. He stood for a moment watching her as she read the same page
over and over again. Taking a deep breath, he opened her door. She didn't look up or acknowledge his prescence in any way.
He cleared his throat. Still no response.
"Now that's what you
wear for dinner with your parents. Stylish but still modest enough to keep them from knowing you turn into a girl gone wild
when they're not around." He approached closer to the desk. As he did, Cameron turned her face away as if she was looking
for something on the other side. House grabbed a chair and sat down. Eventually, she'd have to turn back around. As she did,
House saw the tell-tale tear streaks through her make-up.
"Was the food that
bad? Remind me never to go to that resturaunt."
"The food was fine,"
Cameron said blankly.
"Then the service must
have been lousy. I hope you didn't leave a tip. Maybe you should call the manager."
"Service was fine,"
she said in the same blank manner, her eyes still focused on the same page she'd been reading since House had first spotted
"The only thing left
is the conversation." House could tell he had hit a nerve by the way Cameron took in a breath and straightened in her chair.
"It's nothing. My dad
I just had a disagreement." she said.
"Unless you and you're
dad are freakishly agreeable people, I imagine it's not the first time that's happened. What was different about this one?"
Cameron didn't answer,
not with words anyway. House watched as her she began to unconsciously twist an invisible wedding band around her left ring
"Your dad never approved
of your husband, did he?"
Cameron's eyes widened
in surprise; then she looked down and saw the same thing House did. She defensively covered her left hand with her right but
her secret was out.
"No he didn't. He thought
I was wasting my time marrying someone who was terminally ill."
"I guess I could see
that. He's a businessman. In his world, everything has a specific purpose. What would be the purpose of marrying someone who
"Because I loved him,"
snapped Cameron feeling the same heat returning to her cheeks. If House thought she wouldn't let him have it the same way
she did her father, he was one thoughtless remark away from finding out how wrong he was.
"Then you think you
did the right thing?" asked House.
"Of course I do!" said
"Then why the hell
do you care what your father thinks?"
Cameron was taken aback.
"Because he's...he's my dad." she stammered
"So? Doesn't make him
any less of an asshole." House let this sink in before he continued. "If you go through life caring about what the assholes
of the world think, you're never going to reach you're full potential, as a doctor, a person, or anything else. As long as
you do what you think is right, who cares what you're dad or me or anyone else says."
Cameron thought for
a moment. "So you include yourself among the assholes of the world," she said, wiping away her few remaining tears.
"Of course. But I'm
proud of that title," House said, pushing himself up from the chair. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a few things I need
to add to my clinic reports." What the hell, he thought. It might take a little more time but it would give Cuddy something
to yell at him about which would make her happy. That's what he was there for--to spread happiness. He pulled the door open
and Cameron watched him disappear down the hall.
She sat at her desk
for a few more minutes, contemplating what to do next. She figured she'd better give her dad a chance to cool down before
she called. She decided, however, she wasn't going to apologize. She meant what she had said and hopefully, her father would
come to accept and respect that. Maybe they could reach a mutual understanding until then. She pulled open her desk drawer
and took out a picture of her and Jamie just after they'd gotten married. It had been too painful to keep it out in the open
before but now it was time to have it by her side again. She placed it beside her computer, letting her finger linger on his
face for a moment. She stood, put her shoes on, grabbed her wrap and headed out the door, ready to face whatever the assholes
of the world had to throw at her.