Notes Towards A Story That Will Never Be Told
by Charlotte

This is how it starts:

"I'm not asking you if he likes me," Cameron says with her mouth full. She's done something different to her bangs; her hair keeps getting lighter and lighter. She'll be blonde by the end of the month, by which time Wilson might know why they're friends now. It doesn't seem likely. "What is this, middle school?"

"So what are you asking?" He knows what the answer is, though -- no, not really, not now, not for you, no. Grow up and get over it.

Her fork stabs through cafeteria salad. "I want to know," she says, so even she must have practiced, "who's going to get hurt." Her voice is like glass; the blinds are pulled down in her eyes. It's a mask he can't see behind, and this is new too: she was hired for the way she stammered, her ankles twined around the legs of her chair. (Insecure and lovely -- looks great on a whiteboard.) She used to be raw.

"From what?" He already knows. Everyone does -- bad news is air around here, and everyone breathes it. House and Stacy took their fight on the road this morning, and he watched Cameron sit on her hands and bite her lip after they left the conference room.

"She shouldn't be working here," she says. "I'm not just saying that because -- I'm not just saying that. You knew both of them before. Who's going to get hurt?" She says it like someone who wasn't there when it happened, someone who thinks she knows.

"It might be nothing." He can believe this as he says it: nothing will happen. House is a miserable bastard, and Stacy loves her husband, and they've both been burned. Sooner or later, she'll quit, or they'll learn to coexist; the tension will just stop building. The dam doesn't have to break.

Until Cameron sighs, he believes that.


This is how it happens:

There's a stack of charts on the table between them, a blue pen. She volunteered -- she says she doesn't mind, it's something to do. (Something House could thank her for. Coffee and clinic hours -- it won't work, and she knows it.)

She says, "I asked him how he felt." They're in an old discussion, one so worn-down and allusive that Wilson barely knows what it's about; just now it was Stacy, who they never mentioned.

"That was brave." This isn't really talking, it's showing interest: Really, and then what. I'm sorry. It's what he shouldn't be doing."What did he tell you?"

"The truth." She stands up and turns her back; she pours two cups of coffee, her head tilted, and he can't stop looking. "As far as he knows."

"As far as he knows about you? Or --" The light in here is thin and bright, and it's all wrong. Without House, this isn't his. "What did he say?" Seeing the line the minute he crosses it.

She turns. "You don't -- love," and her voice is hypnotic. "You need. And . . . you think you can fix me." She sets a cup of coffee down before him. "That's what he said."

For a minute, Wilson's sure he'll laugh. He can see what House saw, when he followed her home: a puzzle with too many pieces. So obvious, you wonder what she's hiding. "Well, if you put it like that," he says: he keeps thinking about Vogler. About House deciding tact's a lie, what he'll give up for the truth. About Stacy with her smoker's hands, who he thought could cut her losses.

What he wants to say is, look at who you're trusting. What he says is, "Nobody's motives --" and, before she reacts, "What are we doing here?"

What he wants to say is, see where you'll end up?


This is the part he'll remember:

Too much wine at dinner. How experienced and careless she pretends to be, inviting him in. Fumbling in her purse for the key. Her teeth in his bottom lip. The row of buttons down the back of her dress. How her knees part and her hips cant up. The sweet-salt taste of her cunt. The flutter in her breath as she twists against his mouth. Her fingers curled into the mattress. Her startled face. Her shy little mouth. Her leg hooked around his waist. Her hand flat on his back. That she actually says "oh," over and over, when she's near the edge.

"You should go home," she says, meaning just that; he should, but she won't force him. A lot of the things she says, she says to save herself: if things go wrong, she can always claim she tried. He's known that for a while.

"I'll tell Julie I slept at the office." Her face looks smudged and blurry in the dark. She turns and snuggles back against him; her hair smells like sex and rosemary.

"And she'll believe that?" she says.

He closes his eyes. "She won't care."

This is almost stable. This is close to safe. This could last.


This is how it goes:

Stripped down to the bone, but no different. Sebastian's on TV again, condescending to some hairsprayed morning news anchor in a pink suit. House changes the channel.

"Don't you want to know how many people you saved?" Wilson asks, not caring. He called Julie twenty minutes ago: at 10:45 she was still in bed, and when he said "There's something I should tell you," she hung up.

"No." House flicks through five different channels -- more news, more news, something with puppets -- and lands on a Spanish soap opera. "Shut up."

A woman in green shoves another woman down a flight of stairs. A group of men in white suits have the world's slowest conversation in a living room that looks like a set from an 80's porn movie. Wilson, who doesn't speak Spanish, wonders what he's doing here.

"Oh, that Carmen," House says at the commercial. "What a troublemaker." He crumples his empty chip bag. "So how's the sex? Worth putting up with her for? Should I be kicking myself about now?"

It's not the question that shocks him. It's the tone: it's that House waited. (Two weeks, and up until now -- unless Allison's not telling? -- nothing. Not a word) It's the sense of springing a trap. Whatever they had, he's not safe now.

The commercial's over: the woman in green is rolling around on a bed, surrounded by candles, with one of the men in suits, but neither of them is watching.

Wilson says, "I won't have this conversation."

He could up the melodrama quotient -- something like You had your chance, which wouldn't help. Something like I won't forget you said that, but he will; they've forgiven each other so much that forget is all they can do. And the jokes aren't as funny, and the silence goes on; nothing's really changed, but it's settled. The balance shifts. That's all, that's really all.

He still needs this.


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