Hi there again. :)
I actually didn't think I'd be writing anymore on here but, well, maybe this one last time. I've got this little story sitting on my computer for a while now and so I thought I should just upload it. I suppose I adore Camteen way too much.
Anyways. I'm not sure if this will turn into something more, or how long it will end up being. But we'll see. :)
Disclaimer: I do not own House M.D. and its characters.
Death. You've been witness to it far too many times to count. And yet, not enough times to make you feel numb when you realize that your patient is at the point of no recovery. After being a doctor for so many years, you would think that you'd be used to it all by now. It's something you face everyday. It's on your mind when you're at home, when you're at work. It runs through your veins.
I wonder what dying feels like.
More specifically, that final moment – that final breath. You've always wondered. And other people are probably just as curious. Except you think about it far more than the average person.
Maybe... Maybe you won't even feel it at all. Maybe it's like falling asleep. Every other second that passes, your senses gradually go numb. You close your eyes and then you're gone. Just like that.
Or maybe it's painful. Maybe, as your disease would have progressed so much, you would be lying on the floor of your apartment or on a hospital bed, completely out of control. Out of your mind. Perhaps you would feel as if you were drowning, gasping for breath, and this time you know it won't be an asthma attack because your inhaler would be obsolete.
A fretful death. Maybe that's how you would die.
It'll be in a decade, more or less. Unlike everyone else around you, your CAG count doesn't lie.
What should you do with yourself 'til then? You've tried every single type of drug you could by now. You've drank until you passed out. You've fucked countless nameless and faceless girls. Sure there were difficulties in the challenge, but you still managed to take someone home every time you tried.
Instantaneous gratification. That's what you live off of. Anything else would take too much time, and time is the only thing you lack.
Funny how things turn out. You sometimes reminisce about all the plans you made when you were still in high school – all those countries you wanted to visit, places you wanted to see, things you wanted to do. You tried, you really did. And it was fun. You had a couple of great and amazing experiences, things you'd never forget. But you tend not to hold on to them for too long, not allowing yourself to become too attached to any particular memory, because what's done is in the past, checked off the list, and you don't need to dwell too much on it anymore once it's over. Because you know you shouldn't.
You can't get too attached to life. It'll only be so much harder when you leave.
But you've gotten used to it by now. You've acknowledged and accepted your death sentence. You had over two years to do that.
Has it really been two years?
Time flies and you try not to remind yourself about it too much because you've learned that optimism can make a difference, however little. You've always been a realist, but there are times when you get tired...so tired of the truth. Sometimes... sometimes you just need a break, a temporary delusion, even if it's just for a little while, to assure yourself that things are going to be okay. You know for a fact that they aren't, but there's no point in wasting your time and energy sulking when you can use it to go out and enjoy yourself.
There are times – times like this, when you slip out of the Diagnostics room to the balcony outside, and lean your arms against the cool metal railing, alone with the company of your thoughts and the stars and the night sky – times like this when you think so much, you forget for a moment who you are. And you welcome this brief relapse because it distracts you with profound questions and theories, taking the focus off yourself for the time being.
Today was one of those days.
Your knuckles are white from gripping at the rail so tightly, but you don't even notice. Instead, your eyes are up, intently roaming about, jumping from one twinkle of a star to another. You begin to think of what they're made of, and our relation to them as human beings. You once read somewhere a while ago that we are made of the same things that they are. There's the connection you were looking for.
But how did they end up there, and how did we end up here?
Again, you feel yourself slowly getting pulled into the vortex of existentialism. You've thought about it so frequently that it often wore you out. Once you begin, one question leads to another before you could even answer the first, and they all pile up until they tip and spill all over your feet, creating a huge mess. A mess you can't do anything about.
Like your disease.
I wonder if House will come to my funeral. A sudden thought pops into your head. Its randomness doesn't surprise you, since your thoughts had been so scattered in the first place.
He probably wouldn't. He might not handle it too well. You and him... you've got a connection. And you know that despite his outward demeanor and all that obstinate denial, a part of him, however tiny, actually cares. You know so.
I think... I think I'd really like him to be there. Maybe he could do my eulogy so that it wouldn't be too boring. Throw in a bisexual joke or two.
You actually find yourself chuckling at that thought, because you can totally see him pull one of his antics at your funeral.
Yes, I'd definitely want him to be there.
Out of nowhere, a sound from behind snaps you out of your musings. The balcony's glass door slides open. You whip your head around and try not to show that you were startled, trying to slow down your increased heart rate.
A single brow rises when you realize who the intruder is. It surprises you, but at the same time, not. You can't help but feel rather indifferent as Doctor Cameron joins you at the balcony, her cautious grey eyes watching you intently. You wait for her to greet you first before you decide to say anything. But she doesn't say anything, and so you turn your attention back to the sky above.
You stand like that for a long while, neither of you speaking up.
There is a slight breeze tonight, but it isn't too chilly. The hospital is fairly quiet and the rest of the Diagnostics team, including your boss of course, have been long gone. And yet, despite the attempts to concentrate on the stars, you find yourself curiously wondering what Cameron is still doing here.
Figuring that you should at least make an attempt to be a little social and friendly, you eventually decide to speak up.
"Slow night at the ER?"
The blonde next to you snaps her head up, as if surprised that you were speaking to her. You notice that she watches you carefully. "Yeah... just taking a break," she responds quietly with a light exhale of breath.
You look back up at the night sky as silence hung over you two again. This time, you feel her gaze on you, and wonder what she might be thinking about. Probably all the rumors and gossips she's heard about promiscuous Doctor Hadley. You find yourself frowning slightly at that thought, and then frowning a little more at the realization that you care about what she thinks of you. Because you shouldn't.
A brief thought flickers across your mind as you consider asking the woman why she was here, but then thought better of it. She has as much right to be on this balcony as you do. And it's not as if you mind her presence too much.
A soft sound of Cameron clearing her throat catches your attention. "I heard you guys just solved a case today." She's clearly trying to strike up a conversation, and you could see that she was not as interested in the subject as she wants to be. But at least she's showing that she wants to talk to you. After a moment of thinking, you decide that you're too tired to play elusive Thirteen at the moment, and so you choose to answer her. "Yes we did. It turned out that the girl didn't have cancer after all."
You watch as the blonde raised both her brows and let out a breath. "That's a relief."
"Yes," you agree wholeheartedly. But you really can't help adding bittersweetly, "She's lucky."
Perhaps you are too tired to cover up your obvious tone, or perhaps Cameron's intuition is just that strong. Her concerned eyes settle on you and bore into the side of your face. A part of you sighs internally as you brace yourself for the upcoming questions about your Huntington's. If it was any other person, you'd feel like shoving them away and out of your face, because you don't even want to think of their pity. But then Cameron... Cameron. All you know about her are stories you've heard from House and your colleagues, and not to mention, rumors running around the hospital. To be completely honest, you've always been a bit curious about her. The things she's been through make her interesting to you. Instead of closing off immediately, you find yourself wanting to talk for once. And though you might not like to admit it at first, a part of you also wants to know what Doctor Cameron's renowned tender loving care was like.
"Do you still love your husband?"
It came out a little too direct, and you curse yourself mentally as soon as you see the shocked and slightly hurt look on the blonde's face. "I'm sorry," you apologize quickly. You wish you were more focused on your word choice and mental filters this evening, but this was one of those days when you didn't feel like yourself. You try explaining, "I've heard from House..." You trail off, unable to find a reason to justify why you've asked her such a personal question when you've barely had a conversation with her that lasted over three minutes.
You watch cautiously as Cameron's expression shifted from shocked, to crestfallen, to uncertain. You replay what had just happened in the past few moments and realize your mistake. You attempt to shake yourself out of your world of stars and try to sober up a little. "I'm sorry. I'm not in a position to ask..."
But almost as soon as you finish speaking your sentence, she responds. "I'll always love him."
A couple minutes of silence as you process her words and the entire situation. You notice that her hands are clasped together on the railing, and that her gaze was no longer up at the sky. She's now staring off somewhere into the mass of trees down below. Reminiscing.
"I can't...imagine," you speak quietly. It must have been unbearable. "Why did you do it?"
You are aware that people might have asked her the same question millions of times already, and that she is probably exhausted from having to answer again and again, talking about a decision so personal and heart-wrenching that it kills her a little every time she speaks about it. But you want to know. You want to hear it from her.
"I was... I was in love with him. I wanted him to be happy... He deserved so much. I did it because I could. And I'd do it all over again if I had to."
You seriously think that it's impossible to have a heart with that great a capacity – to be so willing to love... so unafraid to be hurt and wounded and strewn aside. To be able to do all that and continue living. You think to yourself that it was admirable and extremely idiotic and messed up at the same time. Cameron's heart clearly lacked the instinct of self-preservation.
"What?" She looks up at you incredulously, looking increasingly offended by the second, as expected.
"You willingly put yourself through all of that. Willingly went through all those years of heartbreak. Voluntarily. When you could have avoided it all together."
"Doctor Hadley," the blonde is fuming now. "I understand that you may have a strong tendency to voice your opinions, but you do not have a right to speak about my decision like that, especially when you know so little about me and my past." She glares at you most demeaningly and turns away, crossing her arms tightly across her chest.
For a second, you fear that she would turn around and leave. Watching her, you feel guilty for putting such a strain on your relationship as coworkers, and for offending her so. You wish you could've just kept your mouth shut this entire time, instead of being unusually blunt.
"I'm sorry..." you said once more, but the attempt at an apology was lame even to your own ears. "It's just... How are you able to live with it? You could have chosen not to have your heart broken... And him!" You subconsciously raise your voice as indignation fills you. "How could he even think of doing this to someone! I don't get it! How the hell can you marry someone knowing that you're going to die!"
"Stop it, Thirteen! Just stop it!" She almost shouts at you. Painfully, you turn to face her and saw that indeed there were tears forming behind her eyes, and you were the one who put them there. You tilt your head down and cast your eyes to the floor, feeling extremely ashamed all of a sudden.
"His life was just as precious as any other person's..." she whispers shakily.
You're afraid to speak up again, afraid to make her cry even more, but you are so caught up right now, all thoughts of self-restraint are non-existent. "His connection with you caused you to be hurt."
"That doesn't mean he didn't deserve happiness like everyone else," Allison snaps shakily.
"But he was dying..."
You dare to look up at Cameron and find that she looks as if she wanted to slap you. And you know totally deserve it too, which was why part of you wants her to slap you, as punishment. But she doesn't. Instead, she stares you down. "Isn't that all the more reason why his happiness was important...?" she says harshly.
Your gaze lock for what seemed like hours. Her stare never wavers and neither does yours. Seeing her eyes glisten though, makes you feel terrible. You suddenly realize that you wish you had the capacity to love as big as Cameron's. It's all becoming too much, and you have to look away.
"I don't think it is. On a grander scale of things, I don't think it matters..." You trail off and fall quiet for a moment. "I'd just drag everyone down with me."
You don't see the surprised look of realization on her face as it dawns upon her that you were identifying with her deceased husband. But a small gasp and the stillness in the air that came afterwards told you that she finally managed to make that connection.
Neither of you speak in a long time. You are still consumed in your thoughts while you're sure that Allison is silently pitying you at the other end of the balcony. She's probably searching for something to say, something that is supposed to make you feel better. But you both know that it would be a waste of effort and time, because there is nothing. She can't do anything about it.
As you stand there for a while longer, you suddenly regret speaking so much. You regret letting this side of you show, and regret that you've allowed yourself to appear so vulnerable in front of somebody else, and in front of Cameron no less. The blonde didn't need to hear any of that, and didn't deserve to be put in such a position either.
She surprises you by speaking. You find it ironic that she spoke with such concern, and yet, she failed to address you by your actual name. You secretly forgive her though, because she probably didn't know your real name in the first place.
But even after she's called you, you don't turn to look at her. Stubbornly, you continue looking up at starry night sky.
She knows that you're listening though. "You need to allow yourself some form of self-worth." Her voice has changed drastically from the sharp, angered tone she had previously used to scold you. But even her soft reassurance fails to elicit a reaction. You've heard things like this countless times, and you've become exasperatingly tired of it all. If this is the kind of thing Cameron planned to say, you don't want to hear it.
You thought your lack of response would somehow convince her to back off and walk away.
"You need to stop thinking that you're doing everyone a favor by keeping yourself closed off."
What? What did she just say? You blink a couple of times, slightly taken aback by the unexpected comment. What got to you the most was that what she said was spot on, and it didn't even take her that long to figure it out. She saw through your facade and knew exactly what you were doing.
"You think it makes it easier for the people around you. You think it makes you the bigger person."
You feel her eyes on you, but you absolutely refuse to look at her.
"But you know what? You're only human. You need to realize that people are willing to help you if you let them. Not everyone is asking you to do them that favor."
But she doesn't know. She doesn't understand how it feels to be the one on the other side, to be the one causing the pain. You don't want to be the one to make those close to you suffer. You don't want to be your mother.
But even as those thoughts flood your head, you remain silent and keep your retort to yourself.
The fact that she actually knew your first name makes you look up to meet her eyes.
"You didn't choose this life, and you most certainly don't deserve it. Nobody does..." she trails off a bit. "But no matter how long or how short, you're given this chance to live, and you have to understand that you have a right to happiness just as anyone else does."
"How can I find happiness when I'm going to end up alone?" you couldn't resist arguing. Your sudden interruption surprises her.
"You don't have to be alone."
"I have no choice."
You feel yourself flinch a little as you hear her curse harshly. You have never heard Allison Cameron speak so vulgarly in the few years you've worked at the hospital, and it unnerves you somewhat.
"Why can't you just allow yourself something as simple as having friends?"
"It's not like they'll stick around when they find out I'm dying," you answer sarcastically in an offhand way.
"Not everybody includes lifespan as a criteria when searching for friendship," Allison retorts roughly.
Her sudden insensitivity gets to you, and for a brief moment, you feel ashamed of your resistance and for upsetting the blonde. She meant well and was only trying to help...
You exhale tiredly. "Look, it's just hard to believe that someone would care enough to bother."
"You can talk to me."
Your head snaps up to look at her at that suggestion. Did she just offer to befriend you? Apparently, she seems unamused by your unwilling expression.
"I'm serious," she persists. "Everybody needs someone to talk to. Everybody needs to have some sort of consult, or a stable friendship at least."
You watch her with bittersweet amusement.
"I'm sorry Cameron," you chuckle bitingly. "But I don't think a simple friendship is going to be worth my time."
"What do you mean...?"
"My therapist said that a stable relationship would probably be most ideal right now," you remark tartly, with a hint of bitter amusement.
A string of silence hangs between the both of you momentarily as the words sink in.
"In that case... I... I don't know if I am able to help much with that..." Allison answered tentatively with a small blush. "But I'm always here if you need to talk," she added quickly. You chuckle lightly at her sudden bashfulness. Although very subtle – almost unnoticeable – you feel an unexpected shift in the mood between the both of you, one that you can't really describe.
"Don't worry, Cameron," you reassure her. You take a few steps away from the railing and turn towards the glass balcony door, intent of bringing the conversation to a long overdue end. "I am well aware of your reputation, but I could never bring myself to do that to you."
You reach out to slide the door open, eager to just call it a night and go home.
"Do...what?" you hear the timid voice behind you ask, right before you step inside. You sigh.
You turn halfway around and see that she's leaning with her back against the railing now, arms crossed and head tilted, watching you with this expression you can't quite put a finger on.
"Do what?" Cameron repeated when you failed to respond the first time.
You clear your throat a little and run a hand through your long, brown hair out of habit. You're increasingly hesitant about answering her honestly because you aren't sure if what you had in mind should be said, and because you are fully aware of the slightest implications of those words and what it could mean for you. In any case, you decide it'd be most appropriate to work around it.
"You don't deserve to get hurt again."
Your voice was slightly above a whisper, your eyes concentrating on the darkness behind her.
The two of you stand there for what seems like an eternity. A gush of wind passes through, rustling the trees, blowing into the Diagnostics room and causing the blinds to clutter a little. You stand there, still as a stone, waiting. You aren't even sure what you're waiting for – maybe a reaction or some form of response. It's one of those moments when you're caught in between two points, when you don't want to leave quite yet, and so you're just waiting... Waiting for something.
A sudden step forward catches your attention. The blonde woman is now standing close to you; you wonder vaguely what it is that she is going to say.
"What if I can't help but care?"
Her quiet words catch you off guard.
In a moment, the two of you come to the same conclusion, even if you may not realize it. Cameron's got her own problem too.
"Give it to someone who deserves it."
"You think you don't?" she challenges.
You blink a couple of times. "I think you'd be wasting your time and effort. I'm not a charity case."
You turn back around and take a step across the threshold.
"You can't fix me Doctor Cameron."