Chapter 1: Stealing Goodbye
Allison couldn't believe she was doing this. It was the end of the semester and she had just finished all of her finals for the fall semester of her final year of undergraduate work. On top of that stress, she had to figure out a way to break into a secure room in a bank in order to steal money to pay off her loans. If it wasn't for the fact that I borrowed from the mob, I wouldn't be doing this she thought as she mentally cursed herself. She sighed softly as she waited for the reader to go through the codes to open the vault, looking around as she felt the hair on the back of her neck rise. She saw a guard turn a corner and whimpered "Shit."
"Hey!" The guard said but it was the last word he could before Eliot hit him hard in the back of the head. He moved over to her, looking around. "Last one of the guards. How much longer?"
"Another second or two," she whispered to him and kissed his cheek. "Thank you."
"The sooner we get out of here, the better it'll be," he said quietly as he looked at her oddly. "So does this mean we're not broken up?"
"No, we're still broken up on the account of you being an ass," she replied in a whisper.
"How am I being an ass?" He countered.
"Because I asked you to stay and instead you're taking off and telling me I can't come with. That's how you're being an ass," she hissed.
"Do we really have to talk about this now?" He asked, mentally kicking himself for telling her she couldn't come. On the other hand, he was going off to Ireland and somehow the IRA and Allison didn't fit together.
"No," she replied as the lock clicked. "Done," she whispered as she opened the door and smiled. Just as predicted, there was more than enough money in there for what they needed. "Get as much as you can and we'll go," she said as she handed a bag to him.
"yeah," he said as he took the bag and started to do what she said. It wasn't as high tech or exciting as some of his other jobs, but he knew that wasn't what she wanted. "Alli," he said quietly.
"What?" She asked, nearly snapping at him.
"This is a lot more low tech than everything else you've done," he pointed out.
"And?" She asked.
"I'm just wondering why," he said.
"Because I want to get in and out and not have the mob plus the police on my tail," she pointed out quietly. "There were only two guards, one camera which we dodged, a short keypad hack, and lots of cash. It's exactly what I needed."
"Oh," he said quietly and just helped her get the money and get out. When they were back at the car, he smiled a bit at her. "So this is it?"
"Unless you want to change your mind," she said.
"Nope," he said as he took his part of the money. "Thanks though."
"Yeah," she said as she moved to get into her car.
He gently grabbed her arm and stopped her from going. "Alli," he said quietly. "Please reconsider."
"What? Going with you or having to wait for you?" She asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Waiting for me," he said quietly.
"Are you going to reconsider staying?" She asked of him.
"No," he admitted quietly.
"Then we're done," she said and softly kissed his lips. "We had a good thing, but you need to go and can't stay. I don't want to wait for you because I don't know if you're going to come back. Or if you're going to come back whole."
"I'm going to be physically fine," he pointed out.
"I'm not talking about physically fine," she said gently as she looks up at him. "I love you, Eliot. But I can't wait for you. Not when I want to get out of this and go to med school."
"Right," he whispered. "Good luck on that."
"Thank you," she said quietly as they shared one last kiss. He gently let her go as he watched her drive away. He quickly went to the mob boss that Allison owed, paying off her debt for her, along with all the interest that was due. It was the best going away present that he could give the woman he loved and would probably never see again.
Chapter 2: First Signs of Illness
Nate woke up in his bed, alone like usual, but he felt like his head was going to cave in at any moment. It was one of the worst headaches he had in a while and he hadn't even been drinking lately. In fact, it was a worse headache then when he was actively drinking and having hangovers on a regular basis. He slowly got up and closed the blinds, which helped for a while. He slowly walked into the bathroom, not really sure what he was doing. He did his morning bathroom business before looking around in the cabinets for some sort of pain killer. He knew he had some and was rewarded as his hand closed around the bottle of Advil. He just downed them without any ceremony and decided to go back to bed. It was easy for him to curl up and go back to sleep.
It was nine am and the rest of the team knew something was wrong. Nate had not been down to make breakfast and he was known for rising early since the team got back together. It made it so he could have a bit of alone time, but they usually started around nine or ten – depended around the time that Hardison decided to come in. Sophie sighed and looked at the rest of the group. "Did anyone see him last night?" She asked quietly.
"No," Parker said as she curled up into a small ball on her part of the couch. "Do you think he went back to drinking?" She whispered.
"No," Eliot replied. "If he was, he'd be down here and we'd be able to see him. I think something worse is happening."
"Maybe we should go upstairs and see if he's dead?" Hardison offered.
Sophie gave Hardison a look but got up from her seat. "I'll go see what is happening. Hopefully it is nothing like that. He could just be sick."
"Good point," Hardison said as Sophie went up the stairs. Eliot moved and stole Sophie's seat before anybody else could. He never did like sitting between those two.
"Nate?" Sophie asked as she softly knocked on the door to his bedroom before going in. All she could see was the curled up body of his under the cover. "Nate?" She asked again as she went and gently shook him. "It's nine am."
All he could utter was a grumble as he pulled back the covers. "Sophie?" He asked quietly.
"Yes, it's me," Sophie said with a soft smile. "Have you been drinking again?" She didn't want to ask, but at the same time, she had to. She didn't see any bottles around the bed, but that didn't mean that they weren't hiding under the bed. He had done that before.
"No," Nate replied truthfully. "I feel horrible."
"Do you want to come downstairs? I'll make you breakfast – Eliot, Hardison, and Parker are downstairs too. They're worried about you," Sophie said quietly. She could say that even though the trio hadn't voiced it. She just knew that the children were worried about the one that they kind of saw as a father figure.
Nate nodded a yes as he slowly sat up. Sophie went into the closet and got him a warm robe. "I don't know why I feel so sick," he said quietly. "And I feel like I have the worst headache ever." He left out the part where he felt like he was going to throw up and the pain that was in his lower stomach and abdomen.
"And you're sure you haven't touched a drop?" Sophie asked, trying to keep her voice free of nagging. She knew that he didn't need her nagging. At least not yet, anyways. If she needed to, she would nag at him later to get some rest, if it could really be called nagging. She just wanted to make sure that he got better and not sicker.
"Yes Sophie," Nate replied as he got into the robe that she brought over to him. "Thank you," he said quietly as she helped him up.
"Don't thank me yet – we've still got stairs to go down," Sophie said as she looked at Nate worriedly. She touched his forehead and sighed. "You've got a fever as well. I think you're full blown sick."
"Don't we have a con we're going to start today?" Nate asked quietly.
"Not if you're sick we aren't," Sophie said. "It's not a con where we have a client to report to. All the clients for it are dead and the families were too afraid to speak to us, remember?"
"Oh right," Nate said quietly. "I can still help with that." He moved to start to go downstairs. "We should still start the recon work."
"If you're sick, you're getting bed rest and nothing else," Sophie said, a bit sterner than she meant to. "We can't have you sick where you won't get better, Nate. That doesn't help anyone."
"You're right," Nate said quietly as he let Sophie lead him down the stairs. "The stairs started spinning."
"When you get downstairs you can sit," Sophie said as they started down the stairs. She went ahead of Nate to lead him down, going slow for his benefit. She didn't want him to fall down the stairs and break something. That would be worse for him to be sick and have a broken bone at the same time.
"Thank you Sophie," Nate said quietly as he stopped for a moment to get his balance before they went more down the stairs. Sophie was patient and let Nate set the pace for how fast he wanted to go.
Parker's head turned towards the sound on the stairs. She moved and jumped over the other side of the couch to stand up. She quickly went over to the stairs and helped Nate down the rest of them. "I've got him," she said to Sophie as Sophie went towards the kitchen. Eliot got up to give Nate the chair as Parker made him sit down. "You look horrible," Parker said quietly but only meant it in concern. It was the only thing that she could really think of saying.
"Thanks," Nate said as he leaned back against the chair. It wasn't lying down in the comfortable bed upstairs, but it would have to do for now. "Hardison, do you want to start the information?"
Hardison took one look at Nate and then towards where Sophie was. "Are you sure you want to? Parker's right – you look horrible. We'll take it a step further and say that you look a bit like death warmed up." He winced internally after the words were out of his mouth. He didn't really mean to say that but once it was out, he couldn't really take it back.
Nate gave Hardison a glare. He knew that the master hacker still needed to grow up and learn more social clues, but even that was harsh. "Thanks for the concern. And why are you thinking of asking her? I'm still in charge, right? That didn't change, did it?"
"It only does when you decide to be drunk or sick," Eliot said quietly as he sat down in his normal place in the middle of the couch. "And if you're sick, you're not going to be thinking clearly. If you're not thinking clearly, we might get caught. So we're a bit worried about making sure that you're fine before we start on what we have to do." He couldn't keep the concern out of his voice, even though he was supposed to be tough.
"I just need to wake up more," Nate replied as he smiled at Sophie putting a cup of tea into his hands. The warmth felt good and tea was her answer to everything. Silly Brit, he thought to himself.
"If that was true, you'd not look like you'll fall asleep at any moment," Sophie pointed out to him, the concern coming out more and more in her voice as she talked to Nate. "The people were after are not going anywhere unless they get a whiff of something bad happening. Therefore, we can wait a few days for you to get better."
"We can," Parker said with a smile but the concern was in her voice as well. "Just get better."
"I will," Nate said as he drank a bit of the cup of tea. As the tea hit his stomach, bile came up to meet it. The bile went up his throat as he threw up. Parker jumped away from the vomit as Eliot went to go for cleaning supplies. The next part came when Nate started to vomit blood and Sophie yelled for Eliot to just dial 911 and get them an ambulance quickly. It felt like hours when it was only seconds that the ambulance came and took them to Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital.
Chapter 3: Morning Rituals
House woke up in Wilson's guest room, just staring up at the ceiling. He knew he had another fifteen to twenty minutes before he could get up. Wilson liked to get up earlier than him and use the bathroom for as long as he liked. He wasn't sure what woke him up this morning – if it was the singing or just the fact that the water was running. It really could have been anything, but at least he knew it was real. The fact that he nearly thought he was hearing things before made him realize that he needed to be more aware of his surroundings. He liked the way that the lights in the room made it so it seemed like something was playing on his ceiling. It was relaxing to watch, especially when he didn't want to get up at all.
A knock at his door woke him more and made him sit up. "House, your turn," Wilson called through the door before walking off.
"Thanks," House called in a somewhat muttered voice, looking at the time. It was a full hour later than when he had woken up the first time. He sighed and got out of bed, stretching as he did so. He went through the motions of the morning and went out for breakfast. He smiled as he saw pancakes waiting for him. "I didn't think you had time to cook in the morning," he said to Wilson.
"I felt like it today," Wilson replied as he ate his pancakes while reading the paper. "Just a different change of pace. Plus, Cameron couldn't meet with us this morning. It's why I let you sleep that extra hour."
"Oh," House said, smiling about that. "I'll see her later. Maybe ask about dinner for tonight."
"Might be a good idea – I think Chase has a late thing," Wilson said. "It's sad that they're married such a short time and there's already a problem."
"It's Chase's fault and we knew that he was going to be the one to make the marriage fail," House said and sighed. "Too bad – I heard she destroyed her dead husband's sperm."
"How do you know about that?" Wilson asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I hear things around the hospital and I ask," House replied. "You seem to know more about it than I do."
"She didn't really destroy it," Wilson said. "It's just sitting in the freezer and she's making him think that she destroyed it."
"Just goes to show you – everybody lies," House said. "Even Cameron, who I didn't think could."
"People change, House," Wilson pointed out. "Plus, I don't think she really falls into the everyone of your statement."
"She's close enough to it," House said and sighed. "What's your schedule for the day?"
"Work, mostly," Wilson said with a grin. "Usual schedule. Poker game isn't until tomorrow night if we're not working."
"Good point," House said with a sigh and looked outside. "When did it start raining?"
"Right before you got into the shower," Wilson replied. "I called and said I would be late. I'm glad that I don't have an appointment first thing. I was planning on doing paperwork which can wait for later. I'll drive you in."
"Thanks," House said as he fiddled around with the pancakes on his plate.
"What are you worried about?" Wilson asked, knowing this was not usual for his friend and somewhat lover.
"I don't know if I want to get my license back," House replied quietly. "I like just taking a backseat and letting Foreman do everything. He's better with the power than I could ever be. Plus, I'm worried that the power might make me – well, make me take a backwards step."
Wilson nodded a yes. "I think you need to let it be what it is going to be," he said. "I'm here for you and I know the signs to look for. So does Cuddy and so does Cameron. You have a support system and you don't need to worry about anything. You're still seeing Doctor Nolan and I think it might be best if you bring up your concerns with him as well. He might be able to give more insight than I could ever do."
House nodded a yes. "I do have an appointment with him soon," he said quietly with a sigh. "I guess I'll do that. Thanks Wilson."
"You're welcome," Wilson replied and went back to the paper. When he looked back up a few minutes later, he saw a check by his plate. "What is this for?"
"New exercise," House said quietly. "Dr Nolan thinks I should start paying you back all the money that I owe you."
"Really?" Wilson asked.
"Yes, really," House replied.
"I'm liking Doctor Nolan more and more," Wilson said with a smile. "Thank you House. I don't need it, if you want to take it back."
"I don't want to take it back. I gave it to you for a reason. I have more than enough money. I have the money from my father's death and from work."
"…How do you have money from your father's death?" Wilson asked.
"I told my mother I didn't want to take the money. She said to do so or she'd disown me. Since I like my mother, I took it," House replied. "And she knows – about my father not really being my father. I still think your idea about talking to him isn't working."
"Are you sleeping better at nights?" Wilson asked.
"Yes," House admitted.
"Then it's working," Wilson replied as he finished his pancakes. "I'm thinking just soaking the dishes and letting them wait until later."
"I'm going to agree with you on that," House replied as he went with the change in conversation topics. "It's my turn tonight, isn't it?"
"Yes, but I'd still thought I'd ask," Wilson replied.
"It's fine," House said.
"I already cleaned the griddle, so that's one less thing you'll have to deal with tonight," Wilson said as he left the dishes to soak in the sink. "Are you almost done?"
House finished up his last bite and nodded a yes to Wilson. "I'm ready," he said as he put his own dishes in the water to soak. "I hope that it's a full day today. If not, I'll just get a ride back in a cab or something."
"Or wait until lunch time and I'll bring you home," Wilson said with a smile. "I don't mind using my lunch time."
"Are you sure?" House asked with a smile. "Thanks Wilson."
"You're welcome," Wilson said. "This is mostly because you're actually becoming a human being, House. Your little bit of sarcasm needs to go away, but I can deal with it if it never does."
"Thanks," House said with a smile and kissed Wilson's cheek. It was something he hadn't done in a long time but he felt it needed to be done. He was surprised when Wilson didn't back away from the kiss or give him something that was a glare but yet not at the same time. He was happy for that.
"You're welcome," Wilson said with a smile. "I've been talking to Amber about the two of us getting back together. I think – I think it might nearly be time." His words were shaky when they came out of his mouth but he was glad that he said them.
House smiled at that. "You should take all the time you want, Wilson. I know I'm an ass and I know you loved her. I don't want to rush you back into something that you may not want. I nearly lost you for that. Hell, I nearly lost you for a lot of reasons. You take as much time or as little time as you want."
"I do want it though," Wilson said quietly. "I've wanted it ever since you moved off the couch and more into a permanent figure here. I just haven't made a move because I didn't know if you wanted to pick up where we left off. I thought you did, but it's always better to ask than assume."
"Okay," House said with a nod. "I do want it. I've always wanted you back Wilson. But I'm going to let you make the first move. If that's today or tomorrow, great. If it's longer than that, that's fine too. I don't want to mess what we have up ever again. I nearly lost it and I don't want lose you, Wilson. I never want to lose you again." He never thought that he would mean every word of what he just said, but he did.
Wilson smiled and kissed House's lips softly as he recognized the truth in House's words. He wasn't surprised when House kissed back and they shared a small moment together. They walked out to the car, sharing an umbrella as Wilson made sure that House got into the car okay. He got into the car himself and drove them to work.
Chapter 4: New Patient
Cameron walked into House's office and looked to see if he was there. Seeing that he was not and the other two were in the meeting area, she walked in there with the folder she had from the emergency room. She was quiet and just went over to the coffee pot to pour herself some. "House isn't here yet?" She asked quietly.
"No," Foreman replied. "It's raining – he might be a bit later than we thought. Do you have a case?" He asked.
"I might," Cameron said, not looking at either Chase or Foreman. She didn't trust either of them right now.
Chase got up and moved over to Cameron. "What's wrong?" He asked quietly as he touched her shoulder.
"Nothing," Cameron replied as she looked up at him and smiled a small bit. She would try to get through this, due to the fact that Chase was her husband, but she was beginning to regret the entire situation. Ever since the Dibala case, their entire situation was tense. He had been spending long hours with Foreman, first over presenting the case to the hospital at large and now over different little things. They couldn't talk about it – God knows she had tried again and again – and she was getting done with it. She knew they should talk to someone, but she really didn't want to. "Maybe we should just talk about the case and fill House in when he gets here."
"Fill me in on what?" House asked as he hobbled into the room. "You have a folder from the emergency room."
"That I do," Cameron said with a smile as she handed the cup of coffee she made to House. In not thinking, she had made the coffee to the way he wanted it. "Nathan Ford – forty five year old man who came in with puking blood, along with a headache and dizziness. All the usual tests are negative that something is wrong with him, so Cuddy wants you to take the case," she said as she handed House the file.
"Did they check for food poisoning and an ulcer?" House asked as he opened the file to look at what was already done. "He doesn't remember eating anything strange and negative for an ulcer. So what usually brings these symptoms?"
"Tuberculosis," Chase answered immediately.
"Cancer of the lung and pancreas," Foreman also replied.
"Could be gastric distress," Cameron replied.
"He doesn't have a high enough fever," House said to counter Chase's answer of tuberculosis. "Chase – get a medical and family history – see if he's been coughing or any of the other signs of tuberculosis. While you're there, stick a tube down his throat to check on the lining. Foreman, scan the lungs and the pancreas and come back when you find something. Also, find out if he's been in any sort of accident lately."
Chase and Foreman got up and left the room as House had instructed. Cameron looked at House as they were left alone. "You didn't want me to get the family history?"
"You're too tense today," House replied. "You might set the patient or whoever came with the patient off. Don't worry, you'll get to go to bat soon enough." He moved to go back into his office with his coffee cup.
"What if I don't want to go to bat on this?" Cameron asked. "What if I just want to give it all up?"
"You mean quit?" House asked as he turned to look at her. "I think you've tried that before. It didn't work that well then. I doubt it's going to work when you try it this time. Also, where would you go?"
"I would go to a different hospital," Cameron answered simply and smoothly. "I need our work to be separate for a while or I'm going to go insane. I thought it would be nice to work with him for a while but I can't do it anymore," she said as she looked down at the floor. She couldn't even look at him. She wanted to say more, but she stopped there. It was best for her stop there for the moment.
"There's something more," House said as he looked at her. "We are alone and you could talk to me."
"It's not just one thing," Cameron said as there was a loud knock at the door. "I should go help with the tests. Cuddy wants to talk to you." And she left quickly through the door in the room.
House watched her go before going into the office where Cuddy was waiting for him. "Hello," he said, his mind still stuck on the small conversation he just had with Cameron.
"That's a normal response for you," Cuddy said and sighed. "I'm really sorry to have to do this, but I need you to pee in a cup."
House blinked before looking up at her. "What?"
"You heard me the first time," Cuddy responded to his question. "Please just do this and make it easy on me."
"You've decided to stop trusting me?" House asked.
"It is not me who does not trust you," Cuddy replied. "It is the board of directors. Please just do it."
"And if I don't?" House asked, wondering what the threat could be this time.
"They won't let you have your privileges back here, even if you do get your license back," Cuddy replied. "Foreman will stay in charge and I will have to ask you to fully leave. Even though I don't want to, I will."
House nodded a yes, looking at the cup that Cuddy had placed on his desk. "So, would you like me to do it now and you'll help keep the cup steady?"
"And here I thought you would know that I'm not into that," Cuddy replied as she turned on her heel to leave. "Get it to the lab before you leave for the day."
"Of course," House said as he just looked at the cup. He didn't have anything to worry about. He wasn't back on the vicodin that put him into Mayfield in the first place. He didn't need it, even though some days he did wish he still had it. He knew that he had to fight that on a daily basis, like alcoholics fought off wanting to get a drink. He sighed as he got up with the help of his cane, put the cup in his pocket, and took the long walk down to the bathroom. He would like the day to be over with already, but there was still the patient to deal with. He needed to stay until most of his curiosity was cured with the ducklings help. He went into the washroom, whistling an old Irish tune as he went.
"So we need to get a family history," Chase said as he walked into the room and looked up at the people there.
"I thought that was already given?" Parker asked as she looked oddly at the doctor.
"No, it wasn't Parker," Nate gently said. "I was spitting up blood, so I couldn't really talk. And Sophie wasn't completely sure on what to tell them. So we'll just do that now."
"Thank you," Chase said with a nod. "Your name is Nathan Ford?"
"Yes," Nate replied. "Born August 16, 1960."
Chase wrote down his date of birth. "Are you allergic to any medication such as aspirin, penicillin, or sulfa?"
"No," Nate replied.
"Are you on any medication that you take on a permanent or semi-permanent basis?" Chase asked.
"No," Nate replied.
"Have you ever had a seizure?" Chase asked.
"No," Nate replied.
"Have you ever been told by a doctor that you have epilepsy?" Chase asked, knowing the answer would be no, but wanting to ask everything.
"No," Nate replied with a chuckle.
"Sorry, I just have to ask everything," Chase replied to the chuckle. "Have you even been treated for diabetes?"
"No," Nate replied.
"Have you ever been told by a doctor that you are or were anemic?" Chase asked.
"No," Nate replied.
"What about if you were ever diagnosed for sickle cell anemia?" Chase asked.
"No," Nate said and coughed a small bit. "Sorry," he said and drank a bit of water.
"That's alright – is that from talking?" Chase asked.
"Yes," Nate replied. "Sometimes I just get a bit dry and need a bit of water."
Chase nodded a yes to that. "Do you have or have you ever had high blood pressure?"
"I was borderline once, but I got it down through diet," Nate replied truthfully.
Chase made a note of that. "When was that?"
"About six years ago," Nate replied. "I was making bad choices and it just got up there."
"What sort of bad choices?" Chase asked.
"Drinking, eating whatever I could get my hands on, a lot of different things," Nate replied. "My son died and I needed an outlet. Being destructive was that outlet."
"I'm sorry for your loss," Chase said with a bit of a soft smile.
Sophie smiled at that, starting to like Chase a small bit. She could tell that the sympathy was genuine. "He's changed though," she said quietly. "Could that be the reason why he's sick?"
"That depends," Chase replied to Sophie's question. "How many years did you drink?"
"Five," Nate replied. "I just quit recently. They," he said and meant the rest of the group, "are happy for it. So am I. And there's no going back that way. I've already gotten through the DTs and everything."
"A bit of congratulations then," Chase said with a smile. "Now, do you have any of the following diseases – any sort of heart disease, which could be heart murmur, rheumatic fever, heart attack – any of that sort?"
"No," Nate replied.
"Any sort of lung disease and have you ever smoked?" Chase asked.
"No, but I did smoke during the same period when I drank," Nate replied. "That was only for a year though."
Chase made those notes then. "What about any sort of kidney disease?"
"No," Nate replied as he shifted on the bed.
"Any sort of liver disease?" Chase asked. "Or any diseases like mononucleosis or hepatitis?"
"No," Nate says. "I just recently had a check of everything down there. They gave me a clean bill of health."
"We'll run that test again. Sometimes things are missed and we do want to make sure that you get well," Chase said. "Have you ever had a hernia?"
"No," Nate replied.
"Have you ever been knocked out or become unconscious in the past three years?" Chase asked. "Along with that, have you had a concussion or other head injury in the past three years? Or have you stayed overnight in a hospital due to a head injury?"
"I have not been knocked out – I got into a spot of trouble with some people from my old neighborhood and I got hit a bit upside the head then. Otherwise, all the questions are no," Nate replied.
Chase made a few more notes at those mentions. "How about a neck injury?"
"No," Nate replied with a shake of his head.
"Is there anything else that we should be aware about?" Chase asked.
"I don't think so," Nate replied. "Thank you Doctor Chase."
"You're welcome," Chase replied. "And you have set up who will take charge of your medical decisions if necessary?"
"That would be me," Sophie replied. "The other three – Eliot, Hardison, and Parker – have the password to get information."
"Thank you, Mrs. Ford," Chase said with a smile. "We'll be coming back to run some tests soon." He said as he checked Nate's vitals before heading out of the room.
Hardison was able to keep his laughter in until Chase was gone. Eliot and Parker joined in with the laughter, very much amused that someone would just assume that Sophie was Nate's wife. "Oh stop it, all of you," Sophie said with a bit of a glare.
"It is funny," Nate said and got a gentle whap to his hand. "Ow. Be nice, I'm sick."
"For the moment," Sophie replied. "You will be getting better, Nathan Ford."
"I will," Nate said with a smile to Sophie. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," Sophie said with a sigh. "And I mean it."
"I do too," Parker said quietly from where she was sitting. "You do need to get better," she said as she moved over to sit by Nate.
"I will get better," Nate promised as he took Parker's hand. "But thank you."
"You're welcome," Parker said quietly, curling up in the chair as the rest of the team let the silence fall over them.
Chapter 5: Surprises
House tossed his ball up in the air, his mind going quickly through the certain scenarios that could be out there. It could be that there was more than one Nathan Ford in the world. It could be that something or someone was mocking him. The second thought was less likely, mostly due to the fact that nobody really knew about him. Sure, they knew about the treatment but nobody could know the back story. That was the odd thought about it. Nobody knew and yet Cameron came to him with that name on a patient. Maybe it was time to give up his cynicism and think that there might be something of a higher power out there. Doubtful he thought to himself as he caught the ball one last time. He put the ball down on his desk as he slowly got up out of the chair. He made his way out of his office and down to Wilson's office. He knocked on the door before walking in, a bit out of character for him but this was an out of character visit.
"So we've gotten to knocking – are you going to learn to wait for an answer before coming in?" Wilson asked as he didn't look up from the paperwork he was finishing.
"No," House said as he moved to sit down in one of the chairs that faced Wilson's desk. He rubbed his leg before answering. "I have a new patient."
"Well, congratulations? It means you won't have to do as much clinic duty," Wilson pointed out, still not looking up.
"It's Nathan Ford," House said, hoping the name would make Wilson look up from the paperwork he was doing. He didn't mind that Wilson decided that this was the best time for multitasking, but he did want the man's undivided attention.
Wilson did stop and looked up at House. "The Nathan Ford? You went and looked?"
"Well, no," House replied. "But how many people in the world have the name of Nathan Ford?"
"Aside from the world of football?" Wilson asked. "How do you know?"
"White male, forty five years old. Oh and I did go see him but didn't go in," House replied. "It really is him."
"Did you send anything to the funeral?" Wilson asked as he put down his pen.
"Do I ever send anything to any funeral?" House countered as he watched Wilson get up and put on his white coat. "He looks more relaxed then when we saw him last though. And has a different family around him. Different wife too."
"Just proves that you were right about Nathan and his wife divorcing," Wilson said and then looked to House with a grin on his face. "I owe you money for that, don't I?"
"Yes you do," House said with a satisfied smirk as he got out of the chair. "However, I am working on that."
Wilson raised an eyebrow at that. "So the last time you bet on a patient?"
"Before I went to Mayfield," House said with a grin. "Unless you want to place a wager now?"
"No. I am not going to enable you," Wilson said and grinned. "And instead of paying you, how about dinner?"
"At home or out?" House asked. "If it's at home, I've got a new recipe I made last night that I put in the refrigerator for later."
"Home would be better," Wilson said and just looked at House. "I did mean what I said this morning."
"I know," House said with a smile. "Otherwise you wouldn't have said it. Let's go see the patient."
"Right," Wilson said and looked at House. "Do you still have the ring?"
"The one you tried to propose to me with at the dinner?" House asked with a chuckle. "Yeah, why?"
"I want to take back the part where it's fake and make it where it is a real proposal," Wilson replied quietly.
House just looked at Wilson as he heard that. "There are a million and one women who would take you up on that offer, fake or not. You could have the fourth Mrs. Wilson in a heartbeat. Why me? And why now? You were not like this at breakfast. You were somewhat quiet and reflective at breakfast."
"Because some things do need to come at you out of left field sometimes," Wilson replied. "You can just say no if you want to though. Which is what I thought that you were going to say first. Does this mean you actually want to try and have a meaningful relationship? What about the fact that you could just crash into anybody out on the street and make them into your doormat?"
"Touché," House said with a sigh. "I don't know what I want, save for the fact that I want you to make sure that you want this. Because if you don't and it ends in breakup, that might end us. Then again, probably not because I thought Amber dying was going to break us."
"It nearly did," Wilson pointed out. "Until your father died."
"Fake father," House said with a sigh and looked to Wilson. "I reserve the right to think about it."
"Don't take too long," Wilson said with a grin. "But it's better than I thought your response would be."
"You were expecting a no and got a maybe. How is that better? I could dangle you out for eternity," House said.
"Because I'm not giving you the rest of time for an answer before I take it back," Wilson says. "I'm giving you until you solve whatever is wrong with Nathan Ford. To which, we should go see him and talk to him. It might give some more insight into what is happening with him."
"I think its cancer," House said quietly. "It's just finally showing itself to his system and we might be in the second or third stage though."
"We can certainly check for it," Wilson said as he moved out of his office with House behind him and then at his side. "What type of cancer though?"
"Foreman thinks that it's either lung or pancreas," House replied. "He came in puking blood, a headache, and dizziness. And there's no ulcer, but there's nothing say that it is hiding on us."
"Good point," Wilson replied as they walked a bit more to get to Nate's room. Wilson looked first and smiled a bit. "You are right – different wife, but he seems to be happier than he was."
"His child was dying the last time we saw him," House pointed out. "I think anybody would be happy after a couple of years to cope with the death and get a new woman in the picture."
"New wife you mean," Wilson said.
"I don't see any wedding bands, do you?" House asked.
"No, but I don't have the sight of an eagle," Wilson countered as his beeper went off. "Tell me how it goes – I need to go see a patient."
House nodded a yes. "See you at home or see you for lunch?"
"More like home," Wilson said as he walked off.
House sighed softly as he watched Wilson go off before looking straight ahead of him. He thought about going into the room for a while, mostly due to the other people being there. But it was best if he did so, due to the fact that he did need to know about what was going on in the patient's life. He sighed softly and hobbled over to the room, sliding the door open. "Hello," he said as he walked into the room.
"Doctor House," Nate said. "It's been a while."
"Well, usually people don't come to see doctors unless they're sick," House countered as he looked around the room.
"Are you here to help Nate?" Parker asked of House, looking oddly at the man. "What's wrong with your leg?"
"Parker," Sophie said quietly to her.
"It's okay," Nate said to Sophie. "You might find this interesting."
"Infarction. What happened with your mind?" House asked.
Parker grinned. "I like him."
"You would," Nate replied with a chuckle. "So that is Parker, Alec Hardison, Eliot Spencer, and Sophie Devereaux."
"Odder crowd than you were with a few years ago," House said. "Finally woke up to the fact that IYS is crap?"
"I like him now too," Eliot said with Hardison nodding a yes.
"What do you think it is, Doctor?" Sophie asked of House.
"We're thinking cancer, along with other things," House replied. "I'll be around when I can, but trust my staff. I think you've met Chase, but there's also Cameron and Foreman. Even though they are idiots from time to time, they are an extension of me. Wilson'll be around sometime."
"Due to it possibly being cancer," Nate said quietly. "Only the best?"
"For you, yes," House said with a nod. "I'll be about," he said and left the room.
Parker grinned as she watched the House doctor leave. "I really like him."
"That's because he's a bit like you," Nate said.
"He's really a mix of you and Parker," Eliot said. "I'm surprised the world hasn't exploded yet from him."
"That's because the itch for him is in medicine, not in anything illegal," Nate replied to Eliot and sighed. "I'll see you guys in a bit," he said as he started to close his eyes.
Sophie smiled softly and ushered Parker, Hardison, and Eliot out of the room. "I will see you later as well," she said as she closed the door. She went back to sit at Nate's side.
"She's worried," Parker said quietly after they were left alone in the hallway.
"Yeah," Hardison said quietly. "I hope it's just cancer. It's treatable."
"Sometimes," Eliot said quietly as he looked down the hallway. "Can't be," he said quietly as he quickly went down the hallway. "Allison?!" He called, skidding to a stop as he watched a doctor's retreating back. He thought he knew who he saw, even though she dyed her hair blonde.
Cameron turned and smiled, a bit confused when she saw him. "Eliot? What are you doing here?"
"Because of Nate – Nathan Ford," Eliot replied. "My employer."
"I didn't see you in the ER earlier," Cameron said. "I was the one who saw him and got his case brought to Doctor House."
"Thank you for that," Eliot said with a smile. "Cancer though?"
"Or other causes – we're looking," Cameron said as her beeper went off. "I have to go – there's a bar around here. It's called the Common Book. Meet me there around seven for drinks?"
"Sure," Eliot said and watched her run off to what she was needed for. He grinned to himself and went back to Hardison and Parker. He dodged their questions about what he just did, looking happier than he normally did. He waited out the time until he got up and left for the bar.
Chapter 6: The Common Book
Cameron walked into the Common Book, looking around as she unbuttoned her coat for Eliot. She smiled as she saw him sitting at a stool at a bar. She walked over to him, not surprised when he turned around on the stool to see her. She had noticed the mirror on the bar that he was looking through to see the door and all the other exits. She understood that he had been trained that way and she was glad that he had given her some of an education about it when they had been together. As she looked at him, she thought about how much she liked the fact that he was dressed up with a nice shirt, slacks, and his hair back in a ponytail. She remembered when she first met him that first day of advanced ethics. The pair of them were out of place and drifted towards each other. It was the best semester of her college career and he just left her high and dry when he graduated. "Have you been waiting long?" She asked as she sat down on the stool next to him.
"Not horribly long," Eliot replied with a smile to her. He could tell that she came right from the hospital due to the fact that she wore the nice pink shirt and white slacks that she had on from earlier in the day. "Can you stay for a drink? I don't want to take you away from anything you have to do."
"I wouldn't have scheduled for drinks if I didn't think I could make it," Cameron pointed out. "I'm only needed if there's an emergency right now and there isn't. Plus, there's only patient on my radar, so I'm good." She stopped for a moment and looked at the rest of the room. "Do you want to grab a table or sit at the bar some more? I'm up for either."
"Let's go to a table," he said as he got up and offered her a hand.
"Okay," she said and took his hand. She kept it as they went to a booth, sliding into the booth and watching him take the other side. She relaxed a bit as she hid behind the menu even though she was going to order the same thing she did when she usually came here. It was the semi-usual haunt, instead of the one that she always went to with Foreman and Chase. She put her menu down and broke the small bit of silence first. "So, what have you been up to? I know you said you were employed by Mister Ford, but what else?"
"I've been going around the world," he said as he looked up from the menu to her. "What I usually did when I first met you. With Nate – well, it's just been doing individual jobs. We help actual people who get into bad situations."
"So you're a fixer now?" she asked curiously.
"In a way," he replied. "I work with everyone in the room – Parker, Hardison, Sophie, and Nate – but I have my own set of skills. It helps when they get into trouble and need back up. Or if I have to take care of a problem, I just go in and do it."
"With your fists," she said.
"Best way that I know how," he replied with a grin. "I remember you liking my hands."
She blushed a small bit as she remembered what he did to her and was glad when the waitress came up with the usual greeting. She ordered an appletini as well as the mini pub burgers with bacon and fries. She liked when she noticed that her order put him off guard, considering he probably thought that she was going to get a salad. She waited as he ordered the house steak and a refill on the beer he was drinking. She settled back into the booth and grinned at him. "You thought I was going to go for the safe order."
"Considering when we were together years ago you usually ordered salads? Of course I did," he replied with a shrug. "You got married."
"Not really," she said with a sigh. "I wanted to get together with someone but the paperwork never came through. Since I was the one who was in charge of that, I made it look like it did. So this is a bit fake, but I like it that way."
"You like being fake?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.
"No," she replied. "I just didn't want to back out on the marriage but at the same time, I didn't want to be fully bound to a man who thought it was right to ask me to destroy my first husband's sperm. If there was sperm in the first place."
He blinked at her, wondering if this really was the same person he spent a good five months with before going off to do a job. "You're kidding, right?"
"No," she replied. "I needed a cover and a way for people to feel sorry for me. It just helped in getting a job. I was good but it's the fact that the medical community does not like women in power."
"I remember always liking you on top," he said with a grin.
"You are shameless," she said with a chuckle as their drinks arrived. She took a sip of her drink before continuing. "So I made myself into the woman with a tragic past, mostly because you hurt me by just up and disappearing."
"So I become the dead first husband? Really?" He asked, not liking this at all.
"I thought I was never going to run into you ever again, so yes, you did," she countered, glaring at him. "Why do you even care, Eliot? I never thought I was going to see you again. You made that clear that we were over, considering that you left and never called. You never wrote me. I thought you were dead and therefore I made you that way. So congratulations, you were my first husband, considering the fact that if you had asked me, I would have said yes! And I thought you were going to with the way that we were going on with it."
He just looked at her, looking a bit shocked. He hadn't expected to become the guy who would be the fake dead husband. "So you're still conning," he said quietly. "You're just not doing it for money."
"No, never again for money," she said quietly as she just looked down into her drink. "Considering the last time nearly killed me because I thought I could double cross the Russian mob with forgoing on the loan."
"I got you out of it though," he whispered as he took her hand. "And I didn't think it would turn out that way. I am sorry."
"It's not your fault though," she said quietly and smiled at him. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," he said quietly as he kept a hold of her hand. "So you got everything you wanted."
"If you mean med school and a good career, yes," she replied with a smile. "If you mean what I really need in my life, then no."
"Then why didn't you go after what you really wanted?" He asked quietly.
"You disappeared," she whispered as she gently let go of his hand. "And I really shouldn't be here, but I did want to see you. I wanted to know where you went off to and if I meant anything to you."
"You meant everything," he admitted after a long silence. "I just didn't have the time to stop and think. I was done with the college credit and I had to go onto the next job. I just couldn't stop and think. And I didn't think that you would come with me."
"All you had to do was ask," she whispered as she looked down at her drink. She really couldn't look at him right now, considering all the conflicting emotions inside of her. Part of her wanted to throw her drink at him and storm out. The other half of her wanted to just go over to him and snuggle close before kissing his lips. She tried to bury both feelings down deep, but the second feeling kept on coming up. She remembered being safe in his arms. She remembered the fact that he was the one that always made her feel loved. Chase did none of those things and neither did House or Wilson. "Are you just staying until Mister Ford gets better?" She finally asked.
"Yes," he replied. "But I want you to come with me this time."
She blinked at him. "You're several years too late to ask for that."
"I know," he replied. "I thought I'd ask it anyways."
"Right," she said as she downed the rest of her drink. She was glad their food came at that moment and she nodded a yes to the offer of a refill on her appletini. They ate in a bit of silence and she downed the next drink as soon as it came. She saw Eliot raise an eyebrow and she slowed herself down on the third drink. She let him steal a fry as she smiled at him. She relaxed a bit more into the booth as she felt the alcohol and the fact that she was full hit her at the same time. She sighed softly and watched him smile.
"Having a good time over there?" He asked with a chuckle.
"Always," she said with a contented sigh and a long sip of her drink. "I don't think I want desert though."
"I could always be your desert," he said and chuckled at himself. "Sorry, that was a bad line."
"I'm thinking on it though, so it could be a very good line for your future," she said with a grin.
"You're "married" though," he said, complete with the air quotes.
"And that matters how?" She asked as she got out of her part of the booth and went over to his. He moved over to let her sit down and wrapped an arm around her as she snuggled close to him.
"I missed this," he whispered as he kept her close, softly kissing her hair. "You still smell like roses and rubbing alcohol though."
"And you still smell like sweat," she said with a soft chuckle.
"Everyone's a critic," he said quietly as he kept her close. He nodded to the waitress as she asked if they wanted the bill and stole another fry off of Cameron's plate. "Alli," he said quietly.
"I haven't been called that in a long while," she whispered as she looked up at him.
"I know," he said quietly. "Come back with me to the hotel? I know we can't go to your place and I want to be with you. Even if you only grant me one night, it's one thing better than I ever had before. I really thought I lost you when I couldn't find you again. I wasn't about to ask for anyone's help."
"You think its fate that brought us back together?" She asked of him, sort of knowing where his mind was going.
"A bit," he replied as he pulled out a credit card to pay for the bill. "Do you really mind that it is fate?"
"No," she replied as she looked up at him. "I wish we could have back the years we missed."
"I know," he replied quietly. "But you'll grant me one night?"
"Yes," she whispered even though she knew that she should have said no. She could have an easy alibi for where she had been – she could easily just ask House or Wilson to cover for her. "I can't stay that I'll be able to stay for the entire night though."
"Okay," he whispered. "Even a few hours would work. I know that you have appearances to keep up now."
"I wish I didn't," she admitted quietly as she reached up and kissed his cheek softly. She smiled as he turned his head after the kiss and softly kissed her lips. They made sure the bill was paid before heading back towards Eliot's hotel room. She kept close to him as they walked and closer still when went up the elevator. They made swift work of the short time they had together, making every moment and climax last.
Chapter 7: A Quiet Night Until the Pager Goes Off
House was standing and looking at the white board filled with the patient's problems. He was still going over the fact that Cameron came to him to ask to have the night off and how willing he had been to give it to her. He didn't mind the fact that Foreman and Chase were going to be up all night working on the blood work. If anything, it just amused him to torture the two men on his team. He sat down and re-read everything on the board before getting up and hobbling over to underline cancer. He knew that the scans that were done showed there was no cancer shown there. But he felt in his bones that it had to be cancer, even if nobody believed him right now. Nobody usually does he thought to himself as he sat down with a sigh. He turned his head to the sound of someone coming into the room though. "What?"
"I was just coming to see if you were ready to go," Wilson said as he came up beside House. "You still think it is cancer?" he asked.
"Yeah," House replied with a sigh. "I know the scans don't show anything, but I think it is."
"Are you basing that on the facts you know or because you want the easy way out?" Wilson asked gently as he came up to House's side and offered the cane. "I think you need a break though."
House nodded a yes as he took the cane. He didn't get up as Wilson went to go get House's coat and bag. "The cancer could be hiding in the bones," he said as he thought on it. "Or it could be the state before it decides to show itself."
"House, let's go home so you can get some rest," Wilson gently said as he helped to get House up and the coat on. He gently led House out of the room. "You're not in charge anymore, remember? And most of the times when you don't sleep, you doubled your usage."
"So you're worried a sleepless night worrying about the patient will put me back on? It takes more than that," House said and sighed. "It's hurting again."
"Considering I had to help you up, I know," Wilson replied quietly with a soft smile. "Did you think on it?"
"I haven't had time today," House counters. "Maybe I should stay here if you're just going to ask me about that all night."
"Not all night," Wilson said and looked at House. "Why is it wrong that I want an answer?"
"Because it is not just one answer," House pointed out. "It is one answer and then a million others that come after it due to the fact that we are now committed beyond getting away from each other without creating a major rift."
"You're still afraid of loss," Wilson said after a long moment of silence.
"Gee, that's a shocker," House said as he moved into the elevator that open its doors for them. He sort of glared at Wilson as Wilson got into the elevator before pressing the button for the bottom floor. He wasn't sure why this rubbed him the wrong way, but it did. Maybe Wilson was right in the fact that he didn't want to commit to something that, if it went wrong, would cost him his best friend. But, on the same hand, he didn't want to admit that he needed Wilson that much. He didn't want to admit that he needed anybody that much, especially after just losing Cuddy to another guy. He didn't want the same situation happening with Wilson. "How long are you going to wait for an answer again?"
"Until your case is done," Wilson replied as the elevator reached their floor and held the door open for House to walk through. "Which is going to be a couple days and you're always saying that you can tackle a few things at once. So why not this on top of everything else?"
"Because I didn't know the patient was going to be the one that I tried to help before and failed," House said with a sigh. "Fine – after this case is done."
"Thank you," Wilson said as he looked at House. "You're becoming more agreeable."
"I blame you," House replied as they quickly walked through the lobby and out the door of the hospital. "Did you say home or restaurant?"
"Do you want to cook or do you think the food can wait until tomorrow?" Wilson asked as he unlocked the car.
"It can wait," House said as he got into the car. He turned to ask Wilson something and didn't mind when instead he got a full kiss on the lips. He kissed Wilson back before gently breaking the kiss to let the both of them breathe. "We've needed that all day."
"Yeah," Wilson said quietly as he moved to properly sit in his seat, buckle himself in, and drove to their favorite restaurant.
"Where's Cameron?" Foreman asked as he looked up from the microscope to Chase. He slowly realized that his colleague had been quiet nearly the entire time they had been in the lab. "Are you two doing any better?"
"She's out with an old college friend," Chase replied to the first question and ignored the second as he did his own little work in his space. He knew that Cameron and himself were having a rough patch at the moment. He tried to remind himself that all couples had rough patches, but he knew that he was the one who was making his marriage fall apart. It was his fault, nearly all of it.
"So a yes for the second question?" Foreman asked. "Or a no?"
"No," Chase replied quietly. "And I don't know if I want the marriage to be fixed. Maybe it was wrong to get married. I chased her for the entire thing and she didn't once chase me. Save for a small part, but everything was on my shoulders. I wonder if I left her to her own devices if we would be married in the first place."
Foreman checked to see if someone was coming before going over to Chase and gently hugging him. "It'll be alright," he said quietly. "And if not, there are always other options."
"Right," Chase said quietly as a buzzer went off on one of the tests. "Go look at it – we need to get done in order to get some sleep."
"Yeah," Foreman said as he left Chase to his own devices. He let the silence speak as it was comfortably wrapping around both of them.
Eliot sat up in bed as he heard something odd going off. His eyes were already adjusted to the dark with the knife in his hand that he kept beneath his pillow. He turned on the light, his eyes adjusting quickly as he realized that nobody else was in the room. "What the hell then?" He asked quietly to himself as he put the knife down on the nightstand.
"Hrm?" Cameron asked as she blinked awake. "Oh, that's me," she said as she got up and went over to her purse. She didn't mind going without the sheet – she had nothing to be ashamed of and he had seen it before anyways. She got out her pager and looked it over before throwing it back in. She got dressed in a hurry.
"Nate?" He asked of her, looking worried.
"Yeah," she admitted quietly and didn't even blink when he was ready in five minutes. What she wasn't expecting was, when they got into the car Eliot rented for the trip, pulling out the police light and siren that he used in order to speed to the hospital. She just made sure that her seatbelt was secure and that she held onto anything she could. She got out of the car quickly with Eliot on her heels as they used the stairs to get up to the floor. She moved into the room, putting on gloves as she moved to help Foreman get the tube down Nate's throat. "Foreman move!" She yelled as she tilted Nate so that he threw up on the floor.
"His liver is failing," Foreman said. "We need to get more oxygen in and stabilize him!" It took a few more minutes before the two doctors were able to stabilize Nate and get the oxygen into him via the nose line.
Eliot just watched what they were doing, looking tense. He turned to Sophie and quietly said "He's my half brother. I want to be in there and you need to know in case something happens and I just take over."
Sophie nodded a yes to what Eliot said and turned to look at Hardison. "Where's Parker?" She asked.
"I'll find her," Hardison said as he went off to do so.
"Thanks," Sophie said quietly as she moved and gave Eliot a motherly hug. She was worried as well but she wouldn't let it show. She just hoped that the doctors knew what they were doing in the end. She went in with Eliot when they were allowed in, raising an eyebrow as she heard Nate start to cough. "Is that normal?"
"Yes – he's getting used to the oxygen," Cameron said with a soft smile to Sophie. She felt a bit more relaxed talking to Sophie. Sophie had a feel like Eliot and something else she couldn't put her finger on. She wasn't going to question it though and tried to make Nate a bit more comfortable. "Better?" She asked of him.
"Yeah," Nate said as he breathed deeply before starting to cough again.
"Foreman," Cameron said as she pulled over an ultrasound.
"Folks, you might want to leave the room. We need to double check on something," Foreman said.
"No," Eliot said as he stood his ground. "He's my brother. I'm not going anywhere."
Cameron looked at Eliot a bit shocked before she broke out of it to help Foreman. "Pleurisy," she said quietly as she saw the tell-tale sign of the fluid around the heart.
"We need to get him into an OR and get that pressure off of his heart," Foreman said as he started to wheel the bed out of the room. "We're going to get him in and out as soon as we can."
"Eliot," Nate said quietly and waited for Eliot to get over there. "Call mom," he said as he took the man's hand and squeezed it. "Call her."
Eliot just stared at Nate in shock as Nate was wheeled off to surgery. The last thing he felt was Sophie taking him, along with the help of Parker and Hardison, off to a waiting area. He sat down and waved them off to just be by himself.
Chapter 8: Family In All But Blood
"His liver is failing," Chase announced as he walked into the room as House looked to him from throwing his ball up in the air.
"Along with a stomach ulcer that we didn't catch earlier," Cameron said as she came into the room behind Chase. "We were able to fix the ulcer, but he won't survive long unless we fix the liver."
"Then why aren't you with the family along with the consent forms?" House asked as he stopped watching the ball go up and down in the air to Cameron. "I'll go talk to Cuddy about the giving the drunk a new liver."
"It wouldn't be completely new," Cameron points out. "He'd only need about half if we could find a living donor."
"Yes, but that's more risky," Chase pointed out. "A complete liver would help with the healing process."
"He might not have time to wait on the transplant list for a complete liver," Cameron said sharply as she turned to Chase. "Half of a healthy liver from a living donor gives him a better chance sooner than trying to have him stay alive to have a whole one."
House looked at the two of them, noting the fact that Cameron looked like she would punch Chase if the right buttons were pushed. As amusing as that would have been for him, he really didn't need the side show at the moment. "I'll take both ideas to Cuddy," he said as he put the ball down and picked up his cane. "Cameron, talk to the family. Chase, go figure out why – oh never mind," he said as Foreman came in. "You're late."
"Sorry – the patient's heart rate –" Foreman started but was interrupted by Cameron.
"His name is Nathan Ford and it seems to be helpful to use his full name," Cameron said.
"Thanks," Foreman replied, continuing from where he left off. "It was getting a bit elevated but then he started coughing. He had shortness of breath – a quick CT of his heart showed pleurisy."
"So a stomach ulcer, liver failure, and now pleurisy," House said as he hobbled into the next room. He wrote the symptoms on the board, along with flu like symptoms, blood puking and other notes.
"Why is cancer still on the board?" Chase asked.
"Family history," House replied as he turned around to his team. "So we have the stomach, the liver, the heart, and something that might be able to explain it but we can't find. Go."
"Liver failure isn't really a symptom due to the fact that he's an alcoholic," Chase replied.
"Yes, but the body is still reacting to it," Cameron said to Chase. "Autoimmune."
"As you nearly always say," House said and looked to the other two. "Anybody else?"
"Environmental," Chase said. "Maybe fungus or a parasite."
"Lung cancer," Foreman said as he looked at the complete board. "But we should still get him a liver. Or half a healthy liver."
"Thank you," Cameron said as she heard someone finally agree with her about the living donor.
"I just never got to sit in on one," Foreman said.
"So you're in for the coolness factor," House said as he looked at the board. "Cameron, get the approval for all of the tests we need to do. Foreman, do a scan of the lungs, liver, and take another one of the heart. Chase, you get to be the lucky bastard that goes to their hotel room to see if something's there."
"Not the home?" Chase asked.
"No," House replied. "If it is a fungus or a parasite, it's acting fast. A bit too fast. This wasn't something that was around the home base. It either traveled with them or is in the hotel room. So, go break into the hotel room."
"Why isn't Foreman doing this?" Chase asked as Cameron and Foreman both got up.
"I hear they're staying at a very nice place," House replied. "You'll fit in better as part of management. With Foreman, they're going to think that he's out to steal the silver. So he's going to do the scans and Cameron has her own things to do. I have Cuddy to woo, so go and do your job."
"Right," Chase said as he left the room. Foreman left as well, going the same way. Cameron hung back for a bit, watching as Foreman said something to Chase that she couldn't hear. She could hear the laughter and see the smile that Foreman was able to get out of Chase. It didn't make her feel better about what she had done, but it did make her feel better that she did make a choice.
"Is he going to be alright?" was the first question out of Sophie's mouth for Cameron. She was glad that it was her instead of the other two. She felt more comfortable with Cameron, like she didn't have to lie. It was the feeling that she got around other thieves or grifters that shared the same goal as she did when they were on a con. It was an odd sort of feeling and she hadn't shared her thoughts with the others yet. She would have to soon and they would need to deal with the information that Nate and Eliot were brothers.
"Yes," Cameron said and was about to go into all of the medical information that usually came with notifying the family. The only reason why she stopped was seeing Eliot sitting alone in the waiting room part of the floor. "Excuse me," she said quietly to Sophie and just went over to Eliot. She sat down next to him and simply took his hand when he didn't look up at her. "He's going to be okay," she whispered to him. "We were able to stop the bleeding, but it's still bad." She didn't want to lie to him. She did it for the others – for the ones who couldn't deal with emotions logically – but she knew that he could. She knew that he would think before rambling off questions or just breaking down into tears.
"How bad?" Eliot asked quietly as he finally raised his head to look at her. "He said to call mom. He's only said that once before. It's when he broke his arm in three places and they had to put pins in. I was the one who did it – he was eighteen and I was ten. We were rough housing away from home, out on a trail because it was summer and he was home, and we got into a fight. I couldn't get him home, so I got help and the ambulance came. It was after that we went our separate ways. He went to college back east and I stayed where I was. We just let the distance grow until his kid died. I sent a card, told mom about it, and just – he can't die, Alli. Please don't let him die."
"I won't," Cameron whispered as she moved and gently wrapped her arms around him to hug him. She didn't mean to do so, but felt like it was appropriate for the situation. Well, that it was need more than anything else. She knew that, even more so as she saw Parker enter the room, along with Alec and Sophie. Sophie closed the blinds and closed the door. Hardison and Parker sat down together on the couch that was next to the couch that she was sitting on with Eliot.
Sophie moved over a chair and sat in front of Cameron. "What's happening with Nate?" She asked quietly.
"A lot of different things," Cameron said quietly. "His liver is failing, due to the alcoholism. The lining around his heart, the pleura, is inflamed and we need to get the fluid out before a lung collapses or the pressure is too much on his heart. The blood that he was puking was from the ulcer we found and the fact that his stomach was trying to get out some bad food he ate. We're not sure what is connecting all of these factors, but we are thinking that it is cancer. Doctor Foreman is doing a scan to double check for lung cancer, along with getting pictures of the heart. We need whoever is either next of kin or can speak as such to sign documents so that we can do all these tests." She stopped for a moment to let her words sink in and wait for questions.
Parker nodded a yes to all of this. "But you can fix him?" She asked quietly with fear in her voice.
"We are trying our best," Cameron said with a smile.
"What about the liver?" Sophie asked quietly. "How much damage is there?"
"His liver is close to end stage, so enough that he does need a transplant," Cameron replied quietly. "We are thinking either waiting until a full healthy liver is found or doing a living donor transplant."
"I've heard about that," Hardison said. "There's a lot of success with that right now. What about the time it would take for the half to attach itself to what is left of the healthy part?"
"It depends on Nate," Cameron replied quietly. "That is the case in all transplant cases. I can give you a ballpark figure but it could be to the outside on either side."
"Alli," Eliot said as he looked at her. "I can be a donor. We have the same blood type – AB. We also share a mother, so I'm a half sibling. You'll have to do your tests, but I want to do it."
"If we can, we will," Cameron said with a smile.
"I want to get tested too," Parker said as she nodded a yes. "Just in case. Nate would do it for us."
"Me too," Hardison said as Sophie nodded that she would consent to testing to be a donor as well.
"Okay," Cameron said with a smile. "Let me go tell Doctor House and we will start the screening process immediately."
"Thank you," Eliot said quietly. "And I'll sign the forms that you have. If something happens to me though, Sophie makes all the decisions."
"Good to know," Cameron said as she gently let go of Eliot to get her forms. She instructed him on where to sign and made sure all the papers were in order. "I'll go tell Doctor House and we'll be on our way."
"Thanks," Eliot said quietly. "Alli – the cancer diagnosis – is that because they know about his kid?"
"Yeah," Cameron replied with a nod of her head. "Doctor House and Doctor Wilson were the ones to find the treatment. After hearing about what a bastard IYS was being, they just told Nate to get his son there and they would take care of it. Considering both of them, they would."
"You trust them?" Parker asked quietly.
Cameron nodded a yes. "I know you guys might not like House, he is a bit of a bastard. He is the best at what he does. We look at –" she stopped as Hardison's phone started beeping loudly.
"Uh – excuse me," Hardison said as he pulled out his cell phone and looked at it. "What the fuck?"
"What happened?" Parker asked as she looked curiously at the phone.
"Someone tried to get into the room," Hardison replied. "This is why I do not trust hotel locks, people. Far too easy to break into."
Cameron looked amused. "That would be Chase. He was told to go to the hotel and check for anything that would be an environmental or other cause."
"Why didn't – ooo House is like Nate! I told you!" Parker said happily.
Sophie smiled at seeing Parker happy. It had been too long since her younger partner had a bit of her own happy expressions. "We would let any of you in if you asked."
"No, we wouldn't," Hardison said. "Doctor Cameron seems trustworthy though."
"I need to be here to make sure that everything goes smoothly with the transplant," Cameron replied. "But thank you."
"Coming from him, it is a lot," Parker said as she looked at Cameron. "Do you think it'll be okay? What we want to do for Nate?"
"Yes," Cameron replied as she got up and left the room. She noted that Eliot was behind her as she gently took his hand and gave it a reassuring double squeeze. It was their signal that everything would be alright, and it was one he would trust for now.
Chapter 9: Afraid of Needles
Hardison, Eliot, and Parker were waiting in a small office on the same floor that Nate was staying on now. They were all worried for their leader but didn't talk about it. Eliot was reading a magazine as Hardison played on his phone. As for Parker – well, she was a bit of a nervous wreck. Parker tapped her fingers on her upper leg, her eyes darting around the room as she kept up the rhythm on her leg. She didn't like where she was. Hospitals were something to hate and she thought the feeling was mutual. Sure, she was here for Nate, but that didn't mean that she had to like it. At all. She just wanted out from where she was, but Nate needed blood. Since she couldn't remember her blood type and Hardison couldn't find it, she had to give blood. There was also talk about the liver she thought to herself as she continued to tap. She moved from that to biting and picking on her nails. She could fix them later.
"Parker," Hardison said quietly as he touched her shoulder. He had been watching for the past five minutes, considering he caught the movement out of the corner of his eye. He knew it was one of her nervous ticks though. "It'll be alright," he said comforting as he took the hand she was focused on biting and picking on. "It's just a small prick and they get a lot from you. It'll be over in twenty minutes top."
"I don't mind that," Parker whispered in a bit of a hiss to him. "I don't like needles." As she said the word, her hand tightened on his into somewhat of a death grip.
Hardison blinked and just stared at her. So did Eliot, making sure that his jaw stayed off of the floor. "You can jump off of buildings, break into unbreakable vaults and you're scared of needles?" he asked in a hissed whisper.
"Yes!" Parker said quietly and sighed. "I never liked them. I just don't. I can't explain it but I don't want them near me or going into my body. The only reason why I'm doing this is for Nate. We all owe him everything and he would be doing this for any one of us if we were in his spot. So I've got to do it and I hate doing it all in the same time."
"Parker," Hardison said, his voice showing a bit of pain.
"What?!" Parker asked him.
"My hand," Hardison said.
"Oh," Parker said as she let go of his hand. She watched him shake his hand out and smiled at him. "Would you go in with me? When they take the blood?"
Hardison smiled. "Sure," he said with a grin. "We can also tell the nurse or whoever is taking the blood about your – your quirk."
"We're calling it a quirk now?" Parker asked.
Eliot raised an eyebrow at that. "Since when did you two become a couple?" He could kick himself that he didn't catch on the signal until now. Sure, there were little things here and there, but at the same time, he was surprised by it. Mostly due to the fact that Hardison would act on it – even more that Parker would.
There was a long silence before Parker admitted quietly "It's been on and off. Just – don't tell Nate? He's got enough on his plate right now."
"Don't tell Nate what?" Sophie asked as she walked into the room to look at all of them.
"About her and Hardison," Eliot replied without a second thought.
"He's known that for a month now," Sophie said. "Are you two finally coming out of the hypothetical closet?"
"…How did everyone know but me?!" Eliot asked.
"Maybe because you decided not to listen or look?" Sophie teased Eliot as she sat down next to him. Eliot rolled his eyes at Sophie, gently hitting her with the magazine he was reading. Sophie laughed at him. 'Be nice," she reminded him.
"I am being nice," Eliot said as Cameron walked into the room. Eliot's eyes followed Cameron, looking up from the bottom to her top. He did it when he could, when he knew that she wasn't looking. He had been lucky that night that he met her in the bar and kept her sober enough to know what they were doing. They had fun that night – both of them did. He knew that, for her, he would give up everything to be with her if she wanted him. He got up and went over to her. "Hey," he said quietly.
Cameron looked up at him. "Hi," she said and motioned to the chair for him to sit. "First victim?"
"For the blood? Sure," Eliot responded as he saw the obvious cover up that she was doing in order to cover up that she wanted to talk to him. "So, what about the other night?" He asked for only her to hear.
"What about it?" Cameron asked back, getting on her gloves as she did the pre tests before drawing blood.
"We're just going to treat it as a one night stand then?" Eliot asked quietly.
Cameron looked at him as he asked that. She didn't want to treat it that way. She wanted to run to him, that she hadn't had that great of a night of sex since she had been married. Sure, there had been some nights but most nights were getting colder in their bed. There were nights when she was the only one in them. "I don't know," she whispered as she looked away from him and at the small bit of blood. "There," she said quietly as she moved to take blood from him.
"Why?" He asked with the same charming smile that he had given her at the bar. It made her knees weak when he did that, even though she would never admit it. She couldn't, at least not now.
"Because I'm married," she said quietly to him. "And he'll take this very hard if I ever tried to explain it," she said as she made sure there were no kinks in the tubes and the bag was open to receive blood.
"Then don't tell him and you told me that the marriage has gone south," Eliot whispered to her. "Cameron… be with me," he whispered. "I know it was only one night, but I did feel like we had a connection."
"It was one night," Cameron whispered. "And I can't have another with you. I'm married. I have to respect that."
Eliot was about to say something when the door open and if, on cue, Chase walked into the room. Eliot watched Chase as he took Sophie to another chair to get her ready to donate blood to Nate's cause. He didn't trust himself to say anything with him in the room. He took a sip of paper and wrote something on it, waiting until he was fully done giving blood to give it to her.
Cameron looked at it, her heart beating a bit faster as she did. It was the address of a small little Italian place and an eight pm meeting time. She folded it and put it in a pocket before she cleaned up her station. She went over to the two remaining people and smiled at them. "Are you ready?" She asked in a nice calm voice.
"No," Parker whispered. "I don't think I should. Hardison, I don't want to. I'm sorry, but I don't think I can."
"Parker – it's just –" Hardison sighed softly and looked to Cameron. "She's afraid of needles."
Cameron smiled at Parker, a reassuring smile that she used on most, if not all, of her patients. "I promise that you won't feel a thing," she reassured Parker. "However, if she doesn't want to give blood, she doesn't have to."
Parker looked at Cameron, seeing the compassion there. She recognized it, as it was a bit rare in her life that she still received some. "Okay," she whispered. "Could he be with me?" she asked.
"Of course," Cameron said with a smile. She moved both of them over to the chair and set up on the left arm. "So, what do you do, Parker?" She asked.
Parker bit down on her lower lip. She didn't want to lie, but she had to. "Odd jobs here and there. Mostly for Nate," she replied.
"So he's your employer?" Cameron asked.
"More like a father figure than an employer," Parker said as she kept her eyes away from what Cameron was doing. "I guess you could say that he's both."
"I wish I could say mine is both," Cameron said with a chuckle.
"Dr House?" Parker asked.
"Yes," Cameron replied. "Most of the time, he's a jerk."
"He's being honest," Parker said quietly. "And that's a good thing. Nate used to be a bit of a jerk until he stopped drinking. Then he turned kind of nice unless he got stressed. But when we all get stressed we get a bit nasty to each other. We don't mean it, but it just happens."
"Which is understandable," Cameron said as she sat back to look at Parker. "You think he's being honest?"
"Yes," Parker said quietly. "He's a mastermind and yeah, he might be a jerk to you, but he knows what he's doing. And when a mastermind knows what they're doing, then you listen and go with their plan. Because if you don't, then it all blows to hell."
"What if the mastermind isn't sure about what the plan is?" Cameron asked of Parker.
"Not sure?" Parker asked as she thought on that. "They're always sure."
"You know how we keep on trying different treatments on Nate and some aren't right?" Cameron asked.
"Yeah," Parker said quietly. "But you're trying."
"We are," Cameron admits quietly. "I wish we could find a solution faster."
"I know he does too," Parker says quietly. "He hates hospitals."
"I heard about his son," Cameron said quietly. "Dr House and Dr Wilson were working on a new cure for him. It's worked in other kids with the same type of cancer. Dr Wilson named it the Ford cure."
"He did?" Parker asked, grinning. "That's kind of cute."
"I know," Cameron said as she moved and took out the needle. "And you are done. You're a fast bleeder," she said as she moved the needle out of sight and put a band aid where it had been.
"I am?" Parker asked, in a bit of disbelief. "Wow – thank you. Thank you," she said again with a grin.
"You're welcome," Cameron said as she got up. "Doctor Chase can take your blood if you want him to," she offered to Hardison.
"Oh, thanks," Hardison said and looked to Parker. "Are you going to be alright?"
"Yeah," Parker said as she moved and kissed Hardison's cheek before letting him go to give blood.
Cameron smiled at that, thinking on the small bits of love that Chase had given her over the years. She hid her face from view as she realized that those came less and less now. When they did happen, they seemed automatic and not full of love like they used to be. She stood and walked out of the room, startled by seeing Eliot still standing there. "You were waiting?"
"Yes," Eliot said. "It's what I do sometimes."
Cameron nodded a yes and turned to walk by him. She got a few steps away before she turned back and walked to him. "Yes," she said.
"What?" Eliot asked, turning to look at her.
"Yes to the dinner," Cameron said quietly and turned on her heel, walking away quickly. She didn't want to just turn around and say no. She hurried away, trying to think on an excuse to not be around for a few hours. She sighed as she realized that she didn't need one. Chase and Foreman were working on a seminar to give together and would be working on the slides while watching the patient. She just smiled to herself as she went to go see what House would need before she left and then to get ready for a date that she was looking forward to.
Chapter 10: Throwing Punches and Taking Out Diseases
It had been a few days since the liver transplant. They were able to use part of Eliot's liver in order to save Nate before time ran out. Cameron had been staying with the group more than she was spending time with Chase, but she didn't care if he found out. She liked being with them, even if it did bring back memories of her past life. She didn't care, as she felt more comfortable than ever. Sure, House took away some of the discomfort, but she was beginning to wonder if she had ever made the right decision. It didn't help that she was starting to steal time away with Eliot in different parts of the hospital so they didn't get caught. It just helped to be near him, even if she wasn't ready to give everything up. She was just happy to have him. "Thank you," she whispered to him during one of their stolen moments while Nate was having a scan done.
"For?" Eliot asked as he wrapped an arm around her as she watched the scan. "I should be the one thanking you. You're letting me come in and keep a close eye on him."
"He's your brother though," Cameron replied as she sighed softly. "I'm glad just we haven't found anything yet. Even though it means everything is still up in the air, it means that he's stable and we have time."
"Yeah," Eliot said quietly with a sigh. "It is getting a bit frustrating though, especially for Sophie."
"Well, just remind her that no news is good news," Cameron pointed out to him. "And we are trying everything. It's just that all the blood tests are negative so far, there's nothing environmental, and the only thing wrong was his liver."
"Could it just be that his liver was dying and that was the main reason behind everything?" Eliot asked. "I know he doesn't like hospitals and would like nothing more than to leave, but we're getting him to stay. I just know that if you go back to him with there's nothing else there, he's going to do everything in his power to get out of here."
"I know," Cameron replied quietly. "We can keep him here without him just disappearing under his own power for at least another week, if not two. That's due to the transplant surgery."
"Okay," Eliot said as he watched the slab of the MRI machine slide out with Nate lying on it. He let Cameron go, watching from behind the glass as he watched Cameron helped Nate to sit up. He had thought about asking her to come with them after they left the hospital, due to the fact that he didn't think Nate would ever fully recover. It was a fair question to ask her as she was somebody that everyone on the team seemed to like. Parker liked her because she felt like an older sister, while Sophie liked the fact that she felt she could be honest around her. Hardison had his own reasons, as did Nate, but Eliot didn't care as much. He just wanted her. Everyone else has someone in the team, why shouldn't I bring the one I want in?
"Eliot!" Cameron yelled as he jerked his head up. He could see Cameron struggling with Nate, who was shaking like a leaf. Only it wasn't due to cold, it was due to a seizure. "Push the button for a nurse!" She yelled.
Eliot quickly found the button and pressed it several times as he watched nurses rush into the room. He watched as Cameron was ordering them about, forever grateful that she was there to help Nate. He knew he had to ask her to go with him now and turned as he heard someone else come into the room. "Sorry?" He asked of Chase.
"You're not supposed to be in here, so out," Chase said as he pointed to the door.
"She said I could be in here though," Eliot said and motioned to where Cameron was. "So why don't you go help her and make sure that he doesn't die?"
Chase just turned to where Cameron was helping the patient, seeing that she had it under control with help from the nurses. "She has it under control, so why don't you leave?" He asked as he took Eliot's arm a bit too tightly to get him physically out the door.
"No," Eliot said in a growl as he twisted his arm out of Chase's grasp and pushed him hard away. Chase moved in to punch Eliot as Eliot ducked and moved to punch back. The only problem was that he hit the person who was walking in behind Chase – Doctor House. Eliot stopped in his tracks and got hit hard by Chase in the jaw, knocking him to the ground.
"Chase!" House said, in shock and anger. "Out!" He said as he moved over to Eliot and offered a hand. He was satisfied when Chase left with the stretcher that the patient was moving out with Cameron. He got Eliot in the chair and felt around the man's jaw. "Stay still," he somewhat barked.
Eliot did, glaring at where the other doctor went before looking up at House. "Sorry," he said quietly.
"Most people wait until I say something to hit me," House retorted as he sighed. "Nothing broken – you're going to have a nasty bruise."
"I'm used to that," Eliot said with a shrug. "Thanks Doc."
"You're welcome," House said as he limped out.
"Yeah," Eliot said as he watched the doctor leave. He waited a few minutes before getting up and going to Nate's room. He sank down into a chair, just shaking off the questions from Sophie on what happened to him. He fell into silence, preferring to listen to everyone around him for the moment.
"What the hell were you doing?!" Cameron asked of Chase as they went into House's office.
"I was getting a person who shouldn't be in the room out of the room!" Chase said back to Cameron as he looked at her oddly. "Why was he there, Cameron?"
Cameron opened her mouth to answer as House cleared his throat. "What?" She snapped at House.
"What did happen to the patient?" House asked.
"Seizure after a MRI scan," Cameron replied as she watched House put the word seizure on the white board. "It's the first thing that's been wrong with him since the liver transplant."
"Which was a complete success," Foreman said from where he was sitting. He had been talking to House about what was on the white board before the pair came in. Also, he had been able to take a look at House's injury to know that House would be fine.
"It was," House replied. "What are we missing?"
"Nothing," Cameron said. "I think we should run an autoimmune panel."
"There is nothing up there to suggest autoimmune," Chase said argumently.
"So you're still suggesting cancer when there's nothing there?" Cameron asked.
"There might be something there but we're just not looking hard enough or in the right place," Foreman said. "Maybe we should look in the brain."
"We can't go through another MRI. He might seize again," Cameron pointed out.
Chase was about to say something when his beeper went off. He clicked it off and went out of the room with Cameron and Foreman following. They went to the patient's room and Chase stayed out to talk to the nurse while Foreman and Cameron went in.
"What's wrong?" Cameron asked gently as she went over to Nate's side.
"Everything hurts – it feels like I'm having a heart attack," Nate said through clenched teeth.
Foreman grabbed the ultrasound, pulling down the top of the gown as he started to scan. He pulled back as he heard a yelp of pain from Nate. "What's wrong?" He asked.
"You were pressing down too hard," Nate replied. "Sorry."
"It's okay," Cameron said as she looked at the stats. "It's not high enough to be a heart attack," she said to Foreman.
Foreman looked and nodded a yes. "What is it then?"
"Arthritis," Cameron said as she pointed at Nate's elbow. "It's swelling and I can feel something in there as well. I'm going to bet that it's liquid."
Chase came in and handed Foreman a needle filled with medicine. "Steroids," he said.
"Good idea," Foreman said as he put it through in the IV. He turned to say something to Cameron but he could see that she was already talking to the rest of the family. He shrugged his shoulders and walked out of the room with Chase behind him. They went back to House's office. "He now has arthritis," he said.
House added it to the list, standing back to look at the board. He blinked as he read it for the second time. "Can't be," he said quietly. He turned to look at the two. "Where's Cameron?"
"Why?" Chase asked.
Cameron walked in a moment later. "I still think it's autoimmune," she said without missing a beat.
"I agree," House replied. "Run an ANA test. If it's positive, we have Lupis. If not, it's not Lupis."
"Right," Cameron said quietly as she left the room. She kept her smile off of her face. She knew how much House hated the diagnosis.
"He only had one seizure though," Foreman pointed out. "One does not mean Lupis."
"Yes, but he had it immediately coming out of a tube of light," House countered. "Which is photosensitivity. Or do you need to go back to med school?"
"No," Foreman said as he put up his hands. He got up and left the room with Chase behind him.
House sighed and waited for the results of the test, which Cameron brought in a hour later. He nodded as he saw the positive result for the ANA test. "Go tell the family," he said quietly.
"Are we sure about this though?" Cameron asked of House. "I know how much you hate this diagnosis."
"There's no other explanation," House replied. "Start him on the DMARDs, considering he's in the starting stage of it."
"Of course," Cameron said as she left the office to do so. She went to get the drugs and then went to Nate's room. She gently touched Eliot's arm and smiled at him. "Lupis," she said quietly to him.
Eliot blinked and smiled at Cameron before hugging her. "Thank you," he whispered. "Thank you Alli."
Cameron hugged him back, careful of the medicine. "You're welcome," she said quietly before she gently let go of the hug to go in and give Nate the medicine. She gave the news to the rest of the group as she gave Nate the medicine, seeing the relief on everyone's faces. She smiled as she sat with them, noting that the drugs were helping immediately along with the steroids to help get Nate better.
Chapter 11: Stealing Hello
Sophie waited until Nate was in the bathroom and a bit out of ear shot before turning to the kids in the room. She was going to need them on board to help her with her plan, especially Eliot but she wanted Parker and Hardison on board too. He was the key to making sure they got all the help they could. "We're going to need someone to help Nate," she said quietly to them as Nate was in the bathroom changing. "We can only do so much on our own."
"Eliot should ask Doctor Cameron," Parker said without missing a beat. "He trusts her and she's nice. Plus she knows what she's doing or it looks like that."
Eliot looked at Parker. "We can't ask her to give up her life though."
"She would if it was coming from you," Sophie said with a smile. "You two seem quite the pair."
"I've asked her to do that once before and she told me no," Eliot said quietly.
"Yeah, but now you have something more concrete," Hardison pointed out. "Along with that you're more stable now than you were how many years ago now?"
"Fine," Eliot said as he put up his hands. "I'll ask her. Alright?"
"I think it is best," Nate said with a smile. "If she says yes. Just make sure she does."
"You really think you need her?" Eliot asked.
"I might," Nate said quietly and looked to everyone. "I know what the doctors told you but you should know from me too. I am going to have good days and bad days. It might happen when we're on a job. I might freak out one or more of you. So this is your chance. If you want to get out, then go now. I will understand and there will be no hard feelings. I don't know how much longer I'm going to have."
Hardison listened and nodded a yes. "Well, we go until you can't anymore and then finish it."
"Yeah," Parker said quietly in agreement.
"And you'll have a doctor who will be able to help you have a lot of good days, boss," Eliot said quietly.
Sophie gently took Nate's hand. "We'll be here to help you through it. You broke us, remember? We're going to stick with you until the glue comes apart."
"Thank you," Nate said quietly with a smile. "And with that, I'm going to sit down until I'm able to leave." He moved to sit down on the bed and Sophie followed him.
"Do you need me to get one of the doctors?" Sophie asked quietly. "Do you need something?" She tried to figure out from the look on his face if it was pain or if it was something else that he might need.
"I got everything I need in this room," Nate said quietly with a smile as he kept Sophie's hand before softly kissing it. Eliot slipped out of the room to find Cameron as Parker and Hardison got the room together.
Cameron smiled as she saw that Hardison and Parker were cleaning up Nate's room so he could go home. They were all surprised by the diagnosis, considering that House usually said it was never Lupis, but the man would survive. He would need the DMARDs for the rest of his life, but that was the least of her worries. She more worried about the fact that her life would go back to normal due to the fact that Eliot was leaving. She knew that this would have to happen, but she wished he would be around longer. She sighed and turned to walk to House's office, nearly literally running into Eliot. "Oh….hi," she said quietly, moving a bit of her hair behind her ear.
"Hi," Eliot said with a smile, giving her a single red rose. "He gets to go home."
"He does," she replied with a chuckle. "I'm glad that we were able to save him."
"We are too," he replied and chuckled. "Sophie left a very nice present for Doctor House, but I did want to thank him myself. And you."
"He probably won't take your thank you," she said with a chuckle. "He doesn't like them coming from patients."
"Oh," he said and looked at her. "So, I wanted to talk to you about something."
"If it was how you're leaving, I already knew that," she said with a grin.
"No – I want you to come with us," he replied as he looked at her, softly touching her cheek. "Please, come with us. We're going to need a doctor for Nate and you have a good way of lying that we could use for the rest of the team. You know what we are, you have the past like we have, but you're a doctor too. Hardison could fine tune your computer skills, Sophie can help with your con artist – hell, Parker would even teach you how to use a zip line if you wanted to. I just want you to come with us. You know how I feel about you."
"I can't," she whispered as she looked down. She couldn't bring herself to look him in the eyes. "I have duties here. I have friends here. I even have someone who loves me here as well and thinks that I'm married to him. I can't just leave with you."
He gently put his hand under his chin, making her look up at him. He could see the tears that were making her eyes sparkle and smiled. "Then why are you crying?"
"Because I don't want you to leave," she whispered. "And because I love you but I can't go back to that life. I can't go back to living from con to con, wondering when I'm going to get caught. It's why I left and went straight in the first place."
"We don't just go from con to con," he said quietly to her. "We're more than that. You know what we do. Don't you want to be a part of it? It wouldn't be as grand as your saving lives here, but we make a difference. We make it better. Please Alli, come with us. I don't know what I would do without you."
She looked up at him, sniffling softly as she did. "You would go on. You don't need me to keep on going, Eliot. You never did before now," she said as she turned to walk away from him.
"Only because you were the one to get away from me before," he whispered as he gently caught her hand. "I don't want to go through that again. You don't know how it kills me to not have you. To go without you for as long as I did. Please come with us. Please."
She bit her lower lip, turning and moving closer to him. As she did, she softly kissed his lips as she wrapped her arms around him. She smiled to herself as he wrapped his arms around her as well. "You have to promise me that you'll come home every night."
"I promise," he whispered as he stayed close to her. "You should go tell your boss that you're leaving with us. And meet us around six at the hotel that I took you to. All of us have rooms there. The big room is 794."
"Okay," she whispered as she softly kissed his lips again before moving away from him. She smiled as she twirled the rose between her fingers, happier than she had ever been when walking the corridors here. She listed the people she would have to tell. She would tell House first, of course, and then go from there. She knew that he had to be the first to be told or he would always be angry at her. That was something that she could not live the rest of her life with.
In the hallway behind her, Chase just turned and stalked off in the other direction. He knew that he had lost and he had only just gotten used to having Cameron love him back. He was angry at the man, but not angry enough to take any action. He was the coward that way and he knew that he would always be that.
Parker came out of the room to look at Eliot. "She's coming with then?" She asked with a grin.
Eliot turned and nodded a yes at Parker. "Do we have everything?"
"We do," Hardison replied from within the room as Sophie came up next to Eliot, wheeling Nate in the wheelchair.
"She's coming with," Eliot said to Sophie.
"Good," Sophie replied as she gently took Eliot's hand and squeezed it gently in congratulations. "Are we waiting for her or is she going to catch up with us at the hotel tonight?"
"She's going to come to the hotel tonight around six," Eliot replied as the rest of the team came out into the hallway. They turned and walked down to the elevator, making their way out of the hospital. Hardison had taken care to make sure that all the bills for what Nate went through had been paid in full while Parker made sure that everything was clean. It was now that they could leave without anybody really saying that they were here.
"So, the patient is saved and you have nothing on your plate," Wilson said as he watched House play with the ball. It was mostly to make sure that House wasn't going to aim it at his head. "You also still have the ring. So, what is your answer?"
"Whoever said that I was going to have an answer for you?" House asked, dancing around the issue. It was more to the fact that the last time that he nearly got married to someone, they decided to do something against his wishes.
"You promised," Wilson pointed out and sighed. "What's the problem here?"
"I would think that you would know that already," House said as he put the ball down on the desk. "Unless you have gotten to the point where you can't see in front of your nose. I never thought we would get to that though."
"I don't think I don't know what you're trying to do when you get cryptic," Wilson replied. "House, I do want an answer. I don't want to get out of the closet. I'm quite comfortable there. But I would like to have more than a friendship with you. More than the friends with benefits we've both given ourselves over the years. It's time for us to stop being little boys and be men."
"Manly men or just men?" House asked with a bit of a smile. He liked pull Wilson's chain every now and then. "Would it be worse if I told you that I'm not sure what I want?"
"No," Wilson said with a sigh. "Because it would be an answer, but I know you House. I know that is not your final answer. I just – Is it so hard to say yes or no to me? I'm not that fragile."
"I'm worried about what would happen if I did say no," House admitted.
"We'd go back to being friends and sometimes friends with benefits," Wilson said quietly. "I wouldn't like it, but I'd respect your decision."
"Hrm," House said and looked up as he saw Cameron coming. "Incoming,' he said with a smile.
"Either Cuddy or Cameron," Wilson said as he turned his head as he saw Cameron come in. "Cameron then."
"Am I interrupting something?" Cameron asked as she looked at the two of them.
"Just my waffling," House admitted with a smile. "The patient is saved, so why are you here? You have nothing to complain about."
"I'm leaving," Cameron replied quietly. "I have an offer and I'm going to take it, effective immediately. I'm sorry I'm leaving you short staffed, but I need to go."
"No, you aren't," House said with a sigh. "What's the deal?"
"Private doctor to the patient who just left," Cameron said. "Along with having someone stable and loving in my life."
"The hitter one?" House asked.
"He has a name," Cameron replied with a bit of a sigh.
"I know," House said with a grin. "It's just that I like to wind you up sometimes."
"I should remember that," Cameron said and hugged Wilson. "I'm going to miss you."
Wilson hugged her back. "I'm going to miss you too. Now it's back to one sane person and one insane person."
"And sometimes we can't tell which is which," House quipped. "I'm going to miss you too. Don't break Chase too much. I do actually need the Aussie to work from time to time."
"Thanks," Cameron said with a smile. "And I won't. I don't really want to tell him, but I know I have to."
"Good luck," Wilson says. "There really is no bad way to say no," he said as he looked to House.
"We're going to continue our conversation once that one has left, thank you," House replied to Wilson.
"What's going on?" Cameron asked, looking confused.
"A few weeks ago, Wilson proposed to me," House said. "It was originally to spoof our neighbor, but turns out that he meant it. So, in about a year, I'm going to be ex-Mrs. Wilson number four. Or is it five? I kind of lost count."
"You're an ass and I should just take it off the table so you don't have to make a choice," Wilson said, a bit sharply.
House sighed and looked at Cameron, who was smiling at him. "What?"
"Are you going to tell people that the two of you are exclusive now?" Cameron asked with a grin.
"No," House and Wilson said at the same time.
"Then just say yes House and stop being an ass," Cameron replied with a chuckle. "Otherwise, you're going to miss out to turn the best person in your life into an even better experience."
"What are you on and where do I get some?" House asked.
"You are not allowed to have drugs," Wilson said and sighed. "House, I really just want you to say yes. Why is it so hard? Are you really afraid of the fact that I might leave you? I nearly did and came back to you after Amber died. I don't think that I can really leave you now. You are the one constant in my life and I want to make that even more so. So could you please say yes or let me out of my misery and say no so I can go off your balcony?" He asked the last part in jest. He would never take his own life, but he had to make House see how much it hurt for House not to give him a straight answer.
House sighed and looked out the window for a moment before turning back to Wilson. He simply got up, moved over to him and kissed Wilson's lips lovingly. "Yes," he said before moving to go into the meeting part of his office.
Wilson sat there in shock for a long moment before a grin broke out on his face. "He said yes," he said quietly as he looked up to Cameron.
"Good luck," Cameron said as she kissed Wilson's cheek before leaving the office to go and find Chase.
Cameron was at her wits end with the way this was going about. She had seen every person she needed to talk to but Chase. It was like he was avoiding her or ducking out of her line of sight before she could see him. Everyone hadn't seen him since that morning and she knew that he wasn't in surgery. Cuddy confirmed that Chase did not have any clinic hours that day so she knew that he wasn't there. She had one more place where she was going to look and then call off the search. It didn't help that it was getting towards five and she wanted to leave soon to quickly pack before going to meet Eliot. She went down to the hospital café, smiling as she saw Chase sitting at one of the booths. She went over to it and slid in across from him. "I've been looking for you," she said simply as she looked at him.
"I haven't really wanted to see you," Chase replied as he kept from looking up at her. His cup of coffee was more interesting at the moment. Plus there was the fact that he was drunk and trying to get sober in case he was needed. He wished that he hadn't had so much to drink but since seeing the love of his life and that asshole kiss – he needed it. "Why did you do it? I mean – I thought we were alright. I thought we were happily married and you go and blow it on that guy. Why?"
She sighed as she looked at him. She could easily tell he was drunk, mostly due to the fact that she could smell it off of his breath. She didn't want to tell him while he was drunk, but she really didn't have the time to wait for him to sober up. "Because I love him, Chase. I love him more than I love you. I know I'm going to have problems with him, but I need to follow him. I need to go with him and see where it goes."
"Yeah," he replied with a sarcastic cough. "You go ahead and do that. Throw your life and your career in the fucking toilet for that guy who we know is wanted all over the world. For that entire team that is wanted. You're going to end up in jail for being his girlfriend or wife. And I'm not going to come and help you. I'd let you rot."
"Considering that I'd never ask for your help, that's good to know," she replied as she took off the ring that Chase had given her. "I could have just gone, Chase. But I wanted you to know that it isn't your fault. The reason behind the paperwork failing was me. I got cold feet and didn't want to tell you. So you go and have a great life because I am about to do the same," she said as she got up from the table, leaving her ring where she was. She walked away with her head held high. She was starting a new part of her life, where she could be as cold or as warm as she wanted to be towards the people she had to con. She didn't have to be the good girl that she had built her reputation around. For the first time in her life, she was free to do what she wanted.
In the words of Nina Simone – it was a new dawn, a new day, a new life – and it felt damn good.