amber_v: How daaaaaaaaare you (suspicious)
amber_v ([personal profile] amber_v) wrote in [community profile] alwaysright2009-07-25 10:16 pm

29 October 2007 - Evening

Amber refused to spend the weekend moping. Friday night, when she got back home, frozen and light-headed from the cosmopolitan she'd practically inhaled, she just stripped off her clothes and climbed into bed. She'd been running low on sleep, from days of solving a case and then staying up all night fucking Eric, so she went out quickly.

Saturday morning came with a low-level headache. But she plowed on anyway; an idle moment could lead to reminiscing and regretting what hadn't ever come to be, and Amber wouldn't put up with self-pity. There was plenty to do: laundry she'd been meaning to get around to for embarrassingly long, grocery shopping to replenish her emptying shelves, and a more thorough cleaning of the areas of her apartment she'd normally ignore. Chores kept her thankfully busy all day.

She'd hoped House would page her with a case that couldn't wait until Monday. That'd keep her mind off melodramatic woes. However, no urgent message of a diagnostic emergency came in to save her from her thoughts.

Sunday was worse. With her apartment spotless and all errands she could imagine done, Amber was taskless. Normally she’d appreciate a free moment to read or watch TV, but… it seemed too lonely, whiling away her time in her apartment. She took with her a number of medical journals—leaving behind any related to neurology—and spent a few hours at a café. Though she was still alone, at least she was surrounded by chatter.

By the time Monday rolled around, Amber hadn’t let herself indulge in thinking about Eric, even though her brain hadn’t cooperated. Eric might’ve been surprised to discover he’d become a pink elephant: he was a banned subject, but she couldn’t help remembering him. Everything seemed to lead back to him, even the soap bars she’d picked up at the supermarket (he’d had the same scent, after they’d showered together).

Amber walked into the classroom with a heavy heart. Normally she loved her work, with its constant promise of new challenges to conquer, but-- he’d be there. And—she just had to act cool. That was all. She was sure he’d do the same. He’d have no reason to tell everyone what had happened—unless he wanted House to fire her. But he wouldn’t do that, would he? Or maybe he would. It wouldn’t be out of line, from what she knew of him. If he was willing to string her along for a weekend just for his own fun, why wouldn’t he drop a few words that’d get rid of the unpleasant presence of an “ex”?

She sat primly in the center of the front row, not talking to any of the others. They made no effort to talk with her, either. Fortunately, House came in almost on time; he seemed unusually focused, introducing their new case as soon as he came in.

Listening carefully to every word out of House’s mouth, Amber wondered when Eric would come in.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - eyebrow raised (eyebrow)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-07-29 12:16 am (UTC)(link)
Foreman had a miserable weekend. Instead of going home with Amber--following up the kisses and touches they'd stolen in the middle of the bar, building on the connection they'd had on Thursday night--he'd come home to his dark apartment, tossed his keys onto his kitchen counter, and had absolutely nothing to occupy his attention for the rest of the night. He'd stopped drinking after only three beers, and paid his half of the bill, leaving a good tip. It would have been stupid to stay longer, humiliated and crying into his beer. He wasn't going to be an idiot about this. He'd known it couldn't last between him and Amber. He didn't have any right to be upset that it had ended sooner than it needed to. Amber's last words--that he was less trustworthy than House--still rang in his ears, stinging him with guilt.

He'd spent the summer perfecting his ability to ignore the fact that he felt like a failure. When he couldn't get his mind off his career, he'd gone to the gym and worked out until the physical ache was stronger than the repetitive thoughts. He tried that again, but Amber kept popping back up in his mind--how she looked naked, or sleeping, or grinning up at him as she prepared to whip his ass at mini-golf. It shouldn't be this difficult to forget her. Foreman had had more than enough practice at pushing distractions aside. Focusing on his career demanded it. He just needed to try harder.

Monday came--finally--and Foreman dressed his best, as if he hadn't already landed this job. He drove in to work and parked in his usual spot, and that alone felt like he'd spiralled back around, going in circles and not getting anywhere. He refused to show it when he arrived in Cuddy's office. She dismissed her assistant and led the way to one of the lecture halls, showing him the chart of House's latest patient as they went. "House has six possibilities left," she said. "Part of your job will be to encourage him to fire them sooner rather than later." She rolled her eyes. "Don't tell him that, or he'll take it as license to keep them all for another month. The budget's already screaming."

Foreman nodded, but his attention wasn't on Cuddy. He wondered if Amber's weekend had been as dismal as his. What she'd look like. He doubted she'd acknowledge him at all. Haughty and proud and distant. He'd have to do the same, not show even by a flicker of his expression that he knew her. He pulled his thoughts back to the case. As soon as they walked into the lecture theatre, his eyes went automatically to Amber--Christ, he wasn't going to think about whether she was paler than he remembered--and he had to yank his attention back to the symptoms on the board. He had to focus on the case. "Laryngospasm," he said, interrupting House with his theory.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - angry (angry)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-07-29 05:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Foreman realized as soon as House started in on him that there had been at least one advantage to thinking about Amber all weekend--he hadn't even had time to worry about House. He hadn't spent even a moment considering what little games House would try to play with him, all the little humiliations that House would throw at him because Foreman would be supervising his insane little game. Foreman glared at Cuddy when she made it clear that she was tossing him into the shark pool without so much as a warning. She didn't need to do this in public. She should have told House what was happening before springing it on him. This would only make him more stubborn.

Foreman stiffened when Amber immediately piped up with the same question she'd thrown at him in the bar. Probably that was the only thing she'd been worried about all weekend. They'd ended it, and that was the last consideration she had for him. All that mattered to her now was whether she'd get the job.

"Dr. House will still be making those decisions," Cuddy said. "But Dr. Foreman will be reporting to me on treatment decisions."

She wasn't leaving them with any doubt. Foreman was a spy. They weren't going to respect him, least of all Amber. There was no point in getting pissed off about it. Either way House would make him miserable, and there wasn't anything Foreman could do to improve the situation. He'd known that when he'd come crawling back to Cuddy for his job. House sneered at him as Cuddy left, and Foreman sighed, resigned.

"Well, at least somebody's idea actually incorporated all the symptoms," House said. "Don't worry, it took him three years to get to the point of indiscriminately killing patients--you're all still ahead of the curve."

Foreman glared at him and made his way to the front of the classroom. House took him in at a glance--he had to see just how much Foreman hated being here. "Everyone who made a stupid suggestion, go to the clinic and make yourselves useful where no one really cares if you're getting things wrong," House said. "Everyone who made no suggestions, go with Dr. Foreman and see if he still remembers how to run a methacholine challenge."
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - eyebrow raised (eyebrow)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-07-30 12:04 am (UTC)(link)
As soon as House had finished barking orders, there was a general shuffle as the candidates gathered their things and left the lecture theatre. A few of them--the other woman, the Indian guy--gave him curious glances as they passed. They seemed to be evaluating him in the light that now four of them would be fired instead of three. Foreman didn't really care. It was a stupid hiring method anyway; they should have known there wasn't much hope, no matter how far they got by jumping through House's hoops.

House was still studying Foreman when he turned to follow Amber. His eyes were narrowed, a hint of a smirk hiding at the corner of his mouth. "You're going to quit again," he said. "You're going to be miserable."

Foreman had no idea if House had seen something between him and Amber--if there was a reason behind the assignment he'd made. Maybe whatever had happened before he'd come into the theatre had put Amber in the 'favoured' position. Maybe House just had an instinct for what would be the least comfortable arrangement. Foreman wouldn't put it past him. "I'm already miserable," he shot back at House, before he pushed his way out the door.

Amber had headed out ahead of him, purposefully, and Foreman wasn't eager to catch up with her, but he found her before she'd gone into the patient's room. "Look," he said, and then realized he had absolutely nothing to follow that up with. Anything he wanted to say sounded pathetic. He shook his head, letting his shoulders slump. He was an idiot. That was all there was to it. "I'm sorry."
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - eyebrow raised (eyebrow)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-07-30 02:45 am (UTC)(link)
Foreman's resolution to act perfectly professional had fallen apart less than a minute after he'd found himself alone with Amber. Seeing her reminded him all over again of how she'd looked in other circumstances. The low, soft light in the Blue Velvet. The feel of her arms wrapped around his neck when they'd kissed--so lightly--for the first time. All of it compounded just how much of a mistake he'd made. He didn't date coworkers, and this was why. He got distracted. Which Amber reminded him, when she let his apology fall between them like a rock sinking out of sight in a pool. "Yeah. Fine," he said, pushing open the door.

Their patient was a John Doe. He had a low affect, staring at the two of them blankly as they stepped into the room, blinking at them as if he wasn't sure who they were--or why he was there. "I'm Dr. Foreman, and this is Dr. Volakis," Foreman said, checking the chart to see if there had been any recent changes in the man's condition. "We're going to be taking you for some tests, to see if we can find out why you stopped breathing."
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - eyebrow raised (eyebrow)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-07-30 11:36 pm (UTC)(link)
Foreman's eyes widened as he clipped the chart back to the patient's bed. His behaviour had changed completely just in the few seconds they'd been in the room. Foreman glanced at Amber when she gave her answer, but it didn't stop the man from trying to call for better service. It was odd, but Foreman had dealt with worse patients over the years. "Our boss is the one who thinks these tests are necessary," Foreman said. Not to mention, he hadn't hired either of them--Amber was still on trial, and Cuddy had inserted Foreman into House's department on a pretext.

The man eyed him with a faint sneer on his face, as if he expected Foreman to fold under his stare, but he took his hand away from the phone. "This had better not take long," he said, but he was already standing up and moving to the wheelchair. There was a hint of a defiant toss of his head, which seemed out of place even as it made him look even more disdainful. He tilted his chin up and stared at them once he was seated, as if he expected them to jump to attention the second he was ready.

Foreman took the handles of the wheelchair and backed out the door before heading for the elevator. The patient was suddenly passive again, or at least not complaining. The quick changes probably weren't coincidences--if they thought that, House would eviscerate them for being unobservant. "He's showing neurological symptoms," Foreman said to Amber.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - angry (angry)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-07-31 05:26 am (UTC)(link)
Once they had gotten on the elevator, Foreman felt the awkwardness between them even more strongly. Amber had been sending him the occasional look while they were still in the patient's room, and Foreman had so far avoided getting caught when he'd glanced in her direction. The softness of her voice when she'd agreed with him on his assessment of the patient's symptoms was too familiar, and Foreman cleared his throat to avoid thinking about it. There had to be something he could say that would dispel the feeling that they'd never been closer than strangers on a bus. On Friday Amber had asked for tips, something that would help her deal with House. Foreman had more than enough insider information, and, as soon as he heard her question, he realized she needed it.

"Do you think it's that simple?" he asked. "House knows me. He knows what I'm likely to come up with. If you go to him with one of my ideas, he'll ignore anything you have to say from now on. He wants originality, even if you're wrong." He glanced over at her, raising an eyebrow. During their mini-golf game, she'd shown that she'd rather follow him and be as close to right as possible, than risk making a mistake. "Especially if you're wrong," he said. "House will expect you to lose for his sake." Foreman had already lost more because of House than he'd ever planned on, and House had treated the whole situation as a joke.

"Yeah, and I should know," their patient suddenly piped up. "You're not going to get anywhere just by being manipulative."
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - skeptical (skeptical)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-07-31 05:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Foreman didn't answer Amber's comments right away. He'd tried to help her and she hadn't simply shot him down, she didn't believe that he was right or that he was trying to give her the best advice he had. Her ambition was getting in the way of what she wanted, and she couldn't see that. He should just stop giving her advice altogether. House would fire her soon enough. Then, maybe, they could try again. Really, the best scenario for him would be Amber losing the job, the sooner the better. But he knew she'd never accept that. If she got fired now, after Foreman had taken one of the fellowship spots, she'd blame him whether it was true or not.

After Amber's nearly scoffing question, the patient looked honestly confused, as if he'd already forgotten what he'd said a few seconds ago. Foreman watched him closely, wondering if he really had forgotten--it might be another symptom. But, after a quick look at Amber's face, the patient straightened up in the wheelchair and met her challenge with a stubborn look of his own. "Of course it does," he said imperiously. "If I get what I want, then it worked, didn't it?"

The elevator opened at that moment, and Foreman, curious to see what would happen, pushed the wheelchair out ahead of Amber. As soon as the patient wasn't looking at her anymore, he slumped down in the chair. Foreman was willing to bet he'd gone blank again. He'd been imitating Amber. Some amnesia patients did that, as a way to camouflage the fact that they had no memories. Korsakoff's syndrome, maybe, although usually that presented as lies, not actually mimicking the people around them. Foreman wasn't about to suggest that to Amber, though. The patient's imitation had given him a pretty good idea of what mattered most to Amber, and it wasn't the patient's interests.

"You know," Foreman said, as he pushed the wheelchair towards the labs, "you don't get it." He shook his head, chuckling incredulously. "You think you understand House. But you'd rather win than listen to me on what will help you win." He sighed. There wasn't any point in antagonizing her further, but what he had to say was the simple truth. "I know you want the job. I'm not going to sabotage you." Even if that would make it simpler if he ever wanted to see if they really did have the kind of potential that he'd thought he felt on Thursday. "You're already doing that well enough on your own."
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - angry (angry)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-08-01 04:32 am (UTC)(link)
Why should I believe you? Those words, spoken quietly, still managed to feel cutting and cold. Foreman turned away from Amber slightly, so she wouldn't see any sign of it on his face. He should be above any accusations like that. If she didn't trust him, then she didn't trust him, and there was nothing he could do about it. It was his fault, but he still felt like she was putting too much of the blame on him. As if he should have ruined their morning together by bringing this shit up, when in any ordinary department, it wouldn't matter nearly this much. Amber shouldn't be able to hurt him at all. What she thought of him shouldn't matter. But the more she showed how much he'd managed to hurt her with that one omission, the worse he felt. Guilty and defensive. "I didn't want to lie to you," he said, matching her quiet tone, feeling resentful that she clearly wouldn't believe him again. "I'm sorry I did. I'm not lying now--"

Before he could finish, she burst out with a defense of her tactics. Foreman clenched his jaw, shaking his head through her recitation. "You're here because he's playing with you," he snapped. Christ, did she think he didn't know? He'd spent three years as House's glorified chewtoy, and all he had to show for it was a resume that was toxic to every hospital on the Eastern Seaboard. He was pissed off, and hurt, and he wasn't interested in sugar-coating the truth. "This is a game, and you don't win by being the best. You win because you amuse House. I hope you enjoy jumping through his hoops, but personally, I'm sick of it."

They'd reached the labs, and Foreman left Amber behind to go in and set up the test. The patient seemed to understandd Foreman's instructions, putting the breathing tube in his mouth and getting up on the treadmill. Even if the methacholine challenge was invalidated by the neurological symptoms, House would still want to know that they'd run it, and what the results were. Foreman took a deep breath, trying to push away his anger, and then he joined Amber in the control booth.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - angry (angry)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-08-04 06:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Foreman took his seat next to Amber, hoping that she'd let the argument drop so that they could do the damn test. He wasn't surprised when she didn't, though. He clenched his jaw and shook his head. "That's what you think of your abilities as a doctor? You're good enough as long as you're entertaining?" She wasn't talking about patients' interests now. Foreman hated the fucking reality-TV competition that House had started, because this was exactly what it would lead to. All of this was made for television, not for any sort of responsible medical practice. House had never been responsible, but now he'd be imposing his values on his new fellows, until they'd go along with him and never think to call him on his goddamn lack of professional ethics.

Foreman had never wanted what happened to him at Mercy to become an object lesson for someone else. He'd wanted to keep it private, not have his shame spread around the whole damn hospital. Cuddy and House already knew--and since House knew, it was just as likely that he'd deliberately let the wrong word slip into the wrong ears. Foreman wouldn't be saving himself any embarrassment by telling Amber now, and maybe she'd actually hear what he was saying. So far it didn't seem like she believed him--that he wasn't trying to hurt her chances, that he was, in fact, giving her a push in the right direction. But it wouldn't be his fault if she didn't act on what he said. "There's a difference between giving up and choosing something different," Foreman said. "I was head of Diagnostics at Mercy General. Until I fucked it up by acting like House." He'd thought he'd been above hospital policy, that no rules applied to him because he'd been right. Resentment burned through him, even though he could understand Dr. Schaffer's position. But, for God's sake, he'd saved a patient's life. And got nothing to show for it. Worse than nothing. "If that's what you're hoping to learn, congratulations."
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - eyebrow raised (eyebrow)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-08-05 07:09 pm (UTC)(link)
It was a good thing the patient wasn't actually susceptible to laryngospasms, because right now Foreman was having a hard time concentrating on the test. It didn't matter--the patient's tidal volume was holding, and Foreman increased the dose to sixteen milligrams per millilitre, since House would always ask if they'd pushed the test as far as it could go. And that was the problem. Amber was exactly the sort of person who'd push too far, vault over lines, if she thought she could win or be better. Every word she said only emphasized that. Foreman didn't think he'd ever forget the way Matty had screamed when Foreman had been tearing as much marrow out of the kid's bones as he needed to save his brother. He'd gone too far. He didn't expect Amber to understand that. Maybe she'd never been in a position like that, seeing something like that. He wanted to believe that she hadn't--if she had, and she still felt this way, then the argument was more than pointless. "You don't need to imitate him. You already think being right matters more," he said. "I learned it doesn't, probably too late." It wasn't about whether he could hold on to a job. It was about his own personal lines, what was more important to him.

He slumped back in his seat, feeling defeated. Amber's mention of imitating House reminded him of the patient's newest symptoms. Even with the increased methacholine dosage, their John Doe hadn't shown any changes. Maybe it was some form of Munchausen's syndrome; that might explain some of his faked personality, if not the imitation. "This is pointless," he said. After everything he'd heard from Amber, he wanted to move on. Get back to the differential. Away from the argument, away from having his failures thrown in his face as if they were weaknesses instead of bad luck, bad circumstances. He'd expected as much from House, but he'd never wanted to hear it from Amber.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - skeptical (skeptical)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-08-07 02:59 am (UTC)(link)
Foreman rushed out of the control booth and into the main room. Their patient had fallen off the treadmill and he was curled in the fetal position, clutching at his abdomen. When Foreman rolled him over to face him, the blank look on his face had returned. Foreman hauled him up bodily and sat him back down in the wheelchair. They'd have to get him back to his room as fast as possible and hook him back up to the monitors so that they'd have an idea of what kind of effect was happening, even if they didn't yet know the cause. The patient was grimacing and leaning forward, but the initial spasm of pain seemed to have passed--luckily for them, it looked like he wouldn't simply drop dead before they'd diagnosed him.

Foreman took the handles of the wheel chair and headed for the doors. If he and Amber really were working together professionally, then he trusted her to have saved the test results, even if they were inconclusive, so he didn't waste time by going back to double check her work. "He's stable," he told her. "We'll get him back upstairs and page House."

He headed for the elevator again, slightly faster this time--he wanted to be sure that they'd be within range of a crash cart if the patient suddenly developed more symptoms. Even so, he was still scoffing mentally at Amber's last words. Being right hadn't helped him reach his goals; in fact, it had gotten directly in his way. It had been his first big case at Mercy; if he'd developed a reputation, if he'd documented his ideas and recorded his objections to Dr. Schaeffer's hesitation, he could have been on record as being right--when the patient died. If he'd been as career-driven as Amber seemed to be, maybe he would have let her die. He still didn't know if he'd acted for himself or for her, and Foreman found himself wondering what Amber would do in the same situation. Whether getting fired would have been worth that woman's life to her. "If being right was all that mattered, I'd still be in New York," he said. "I guess neither of us have learned how to win by being wrong."
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - eyebrow raised (eyebrow)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-08-07 10:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Foreman didn't answer Amber at first. It was easy to set her question aside while they rode in the elevator--he was monitoring the patient, and the last thing he wanted was for John Doe to catch them by surprise with haematemesis or something worse.

He wasn't trying to avoid what she was asking. He'd lied once and lost out on more than he'd bargained for. Even if Amber wouldn't believe him again, Foreman wanted to be honest with her. It wasn't easy. He didn't really know himself how to answer her question. He hadn't considered if he'd call it winning, to solve his case and stay at Mercy. It would have made him proud, to make the right call and be recognized for it. He'd be a damn sight more content than he was now...or so he'd thought.

The fact of the matter was, Foreman didn't think much of being bitter. He'd rather move forward--well, he'd rather move up, and his move back to Princeton was neither, but there was no point in living in the past. If he hadn't come back, he never would have met Amber at all. As brief as it had been, it had been worthwhile. More than that. It had been good. And, hell, right now, what was he doing? Working one of House's cases, confronted directly with half a dozen symptoms he couldn't explain. He should be happy. Intrigued, interested, hooked by the case until he could piece the puzzle, or at least some of the pieces, together. He was right back at the hub of the action. Instead of having most of his cases diverted to Princeton-Plainsboro, leaving him with only minor mysteries he'd learned to solve in his sleep, he was at the forefront of the field. Teaching had felt uncomfortable to him, unnatural; he'd been resisting most of what he wanted to say, to point out to his students everything that was obvious, that was right in front of their faces. It astounded him what they couldn't see, and it was hard to praise them every time they took a baby step.

Once they were back on the main floor, Foreman rushed the patient back to his room, grabbing a couple of orderlies on his way to help them shift him onto the bed and hook up the monitors. John Doe hadn't complained again, and by the time they got him back to his room, he seemed both vacant and asymptomatic again. Foreman shook his head and picked up his chart to make a notation of what he'd observed when they were in the lab. It was only then that he turned back to Amber. They had a few minutes before the rest of the team would be assembling in the lecture theatre. He stopped to meet her eyes, to show he was serious. "No," he said. After all, he could have been fired just as easily for incompetence as he had been for overstepping his bounds. "If I'd been wrong, I wouldn't have met you."
eric_foreman: (happy foreman)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-08-08 02:41 pm (UTC)(link)
"Then we're not that different," Foreman said. It felt good--satisfying--to see Amber's reaction. Her blush and the quick way her hand went to her hair, as if to smooth it into place. He supposed it had been a line, and a pretty cheesy one at that, but he'd surprised even himself at how much he meant it. Amber's flustered response was quick enough, and honest enough, that it felt like she had forgiven him, and wasn't going to hold a grudge.

That meant more to him than he'd expected. Foreman had been trying to convince himself since Friday that it was a hookup, a one night stand, and it shouldn't mean anything that it hadn't worked out. But he was smiling softly at her, despite himself, despite trying to hold it back--House or one of the other candidates could walk in on them at any moment. Foreman wanted to reach out to Amber, let his hands settle on her waist as if it was completely natural to hold her that way. To meet her eyes; feel her hands linking behind his neck as she smiled back; the way he had when they'd been dancing.

It was too much to hope for, he knew, and impossible in this setting. Foreman didn't want to let the moment pass and have them fall right back into the same argument again. "I know I lost on Friday," he said--directly, but without overemphasizing anything. He wanted Amber to believe him, in a way that she hadn't appeared to believe his apologies. The most likely outcome was that they still wouldn't be able to get back to where they had been, but one thing working at Mercy had taught Foreman was that he was tired of not trying. He'd gotten shot down professionally, and it had hurt--it still hurt--but he'd lived through it. It had been a long time since he'd taken that kind of risk with a relationship, and it was crazy to think that this one--that Amber--was worth putting himself out there for. But crazy or not, it was how he felt.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - skeptical (skeptical)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-08-11 06:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Foreman had to look away from Amber's smile almost immediately. She hadn't cut him down and made him feel like an idiot for daring to say anything, but he had a feeling he'd only make more of a fool of himself if he let himself take in her full response. A second later when the door opened, he wasn't surprised that she brushed past him to sit down without letting any sign show that they'd been speaking to each other. Their conversation might have been innocent and completely related to the case, but Amber wasn't willing to even take the chance of being seen with him. She might believe him, she might forgive him, but that was the extent of it. He'd been right. He couldn't expect more.

Foreman made his way to the front of the theatre, where he could write up the new symptoms on the board. Amber explained what had happened, and Foreman pushed the other candidates to come up with explanations. He tried to look past Amber's glances at him. If she couldn't even stand next to him, then he didn't feel like meeting her eyes. It wouldn't be that bad, pretending like this, if there actually was anything to hide. Foreman could be discreet--he'd proved that by winning the bet with House that Wilson wasn't in a relationship with Wendy. But when there was nothing to hide, it was pointless, and more depressing because of that.

And of course, with his luck, things had to get worse. House pushed open the theatre doors and headed straight for the seat next to Amber, taking a seat and slouching in the chair, his legs stretched out in front of him. The suggestions dried up immediately, and House blinked and looked around as though he was shocked that his entrance had anything to do with it.

"Lungs, stomach, numbness?" Foreman prompted them, determined not to actually roll his eyes at House's antics.

House looked over his shoulder at the rest of the candidates when no one spoke up. "Carry on, he's the boss," he said, and proceeded to stare at Foreman wide-eyed as if he really felt he was about to have a learning experience.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - angry (angry)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-08-18 06:44 am (UTC)(link)
There was another prolonged silence even after House told the candidates to keep going. Of course, from his tone, they probably all assumed--correctly--that he didn't consider Foreman anything like his superior, in name or in fact. Foreman wasn't going to start a staring contest with House now, over something so childish, when there was an actual patient at risk. That was the reason they were here and Foreman was going to remember it, even if House refused to. Foreman had learned his lesson. There was no point in expecting House to learn anything--to act as if he gave a rat's ass about the patient when his own dignity, in the form of having Cuddy place Foreman over him, was at stake. But Foreman was determined not to repeat his mistakes. He tried to give House his best untouchable look. He wouldn't stare him down or refuse to meet his eyes: either one would fuel House's speculations. He simply let his eyes pass over House and return to the rest of the candidates, expectantly.

There was no way he'd counted on Amber being the first to speak up. For a long second, her suggestion hung in the air, completely untenable by the facts--it didn't include the patient's attempts at imitating others at all--and House glared at her for daring to speak. But then, a second later, Brennan called out, "Dissecting aortic aneurysm." Immediately, Taub tried to top him with a spinal cord lesion. House rolled his eyes, but he set to work shutting all of them down. "I'm pretty sure Dr. Foreman--" There was still a hint of a sneer on Foreman's name, but he ignored it. "--had three symptoms for you. I know you can count at least that high, because it's the number of job openings I have. Oh, wait. It isn't." He smirked at Amber. "Maybe that's what confused you."

"Can we stick to the medicine?" Foreman asked. He doubted Amber needed him jumping to her defense, and he quelled the part of him that wanted to snap at least she can manage that much. Amber might be ambitious, but she was better than House at sticking to the topic that mattered. He hoped.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - skeptical (skeptical)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-08-19 07:33 pm (UTC)(link)
From the half-horrified, half-furious look on Amber's face, she didn't realize that she'd said exactly the right thing. Her suggestion was wrong, and she had to know it; she'd had more contact with the patient than any of the others, and she'd completely missed one of the symptoms. She was trying her best not to show any emotion, but Foreman could tell she felt humiliated. She'd drawn in on herself instead of holding her back straight and proud. She didn't know that House's mockery wasn't a bad thing--he was happy to have suggestions he could belittle, because it meant that there were suggestions. Amber had kick-started the other candidates' competitive streak again. Being wrong wasn't the end of the world. House was always wrong until he was right.

No one, including Cuddy, was willing to acknowledge that House was wrong right now. Wrong in how he was approaching hiring a new team. His taunts might be making Amber that much more determined, but he was never going to get any cooperation out of them. At least Foreman had managed that much with Cameron and Chase on occasion. Foreman set his jaw when House turned on him. He'd been wondering when House was going to start slapping him down in front of the others. Trying to humiliate him. Of course it suited House's ego to have five, or a dozen, or forty doctors all competing for the supposed honour of working for him. Foreman clung to the fact that he'd stood up to House. Left on his own terms--even if he'd come back on someone else's. He glanced at Amber, wondering what she thought of this. She looked happy enough to have him under the microscope now. Foreman tightened his lips and stared back at House. "Turns out there are worse things in the world than coming back to work for you," he said. Amber might get the double meaning. House would probably assume Foreman was referring to the impossibility of getting hired anywhere else after becoming too similar to him. "And Munchausen's could explain all the symptoms, including the lack of history and the fact that John Doe imitates whoever happens to be in front of him."
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - skeptical (skeptical)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-08-20 01:39 am (UTC)(link)
Foreman didn't have a chance to answer House's question before Amber interrupted. If she'd lost her footing momentarily, she'd regained it with barely a pause. Her points were on-target, and this time, for the first time, Foreman found himself raising his eyebrows, impressed. So far she'd been pumping him for information about House's game, trying to copy his ideas, maneuvering more than doctoring. She'd been competent with the patient and the lab tests, but anyone who was truly useless never would have made it this far--House wasn't that clueless about his candidates. But the way she'd smacked down his idea showed poise, intelligence, and a very unsurprising desire to go straight for his throat.

It really shouldn't have been that hot.

House blinked at Amber, taking in her argument with more seriousness than he'd shown yet today, and then looked back at Foreman. A smirk started to tug at the corner of his mouth. Foreman's stomach sank. House had clearly figured something out that amused the hell out of him, and that could only mean bad news for the rest of them. "Which one of you was he imitating?" he asked.
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - angry (angry)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-08-20 02:50 am (UTC)(link)
House's glee was spreading. Amber showed it too, a second after she'd answered his question, its significance seeming to hit her a moment later. Foreman glared at House, still catching up. By the time Amber blurted out mirror syndrome, Foreman had figured it out, and he could feel a blush heating his face. Fuck. Like he needed that spread around--it was bad enough that he felt that way. Amber had been the one to talk to him first, to ask him out to her bar, to take him back to her place, to--to fuck him, for Christ's sake, and then, a day later, to dump him the second she'd found out he might be standing in her way at work. This morning he'd been following her around like a kicked puppy, with apologies and flattery, as if he was begging her to reconsider, or at least not hate him for what he'd done.

Foreman couldn't help clenching his hands the more House taunted him. Every word served to show him what a dupe he'd been, a pathetic idiot acting like he had a hope--like he was the hero in some kind of bodice ripper, and things might improve if he just tried hard enough. Hadn't his life told him that didn't happen? He'd been smacked down too often in the last few weeks, but he'd thought he understood why, professionally, he was untouchable. He'd never had that kind of trouble romantically. With women he wanted. And it wasn't just that he wanted Amber--he knew she'd been interested too, that she cared, otherwise she wouldn't have dumped him so spectacularly on Friday. It was fucking unfair, but he thought he'd had a chance, however dim, of making it right. Obviously he didn't--he'd been mooning like a lovesick teenager, that was all. Act professional? He couldn't even stop himself from complimenting her, reacting to her, when they were in the middle of a fucking differential.

Now Amber was laughing at him too, and Foreman could see a smirk on Taub's face, Thirteen lowering her head to hid her smile, and Kutner grinning at him unabashedly, as if he was watching his favourite soap opera. Foreman was so pissed off he almost missed the change of House's expression, the sudden hungry, assessing stare as he leaned forward. Foreman still had his stony glare, and he could shut House up when he really needed to, but when Amber's laughter cut off abruptly, Foreman's attention went to her automatically, his eyes widening slightly. It was too late to warn her. House's gaze flicked to her quickly, and then he started grinning in earnest.

"Oh my God," he said, looking back and forth between them, gaping like he'd just heard the most astonishing, hilarious thing in his life. "Seriously?"
eric_foreman: Eric Foreman from House - angry (angry)

[personal profile] eric_foreman 2009-08-21 12:10 am (UTC)(link)
Foreman had never been good at dealing with humiliation. This was worse. Mortification. He was a private person, and he'd never let House or anyone else work their way this deeply into his personal life. More than anything, he regretted that he'd let Amber see so much. That he'd trusted her. He was certain that she was going to break that trust now.

He wanted to blame Amber. That would at least make it simple. She was the one who'd caught House's attention. Made him start guessing. Fuck, at least Foreman could hide what he felt--if not from Amber, then from House. That bastard considered them all his toys, and Foreman had always been determined to give him as little satisfaction as he could, to make sure that House learned the least about him. The only times he'd broken that resolution were the moments when showing House some part of his personal life worked out so that Foreman could get the better of him. Show him up. Prove that House didn't have all the answers, that his fucking deductions weren't always on target.

Amber was the one who'd put them on the target this time. She'd made House curious, and there was nothing more dangerous than that. He'd be hounding them for days now, weeks, putting Foreman on the spot and asking, in his stupid insinuating voice, whether he liked strong women, whether he'd really slept with Amber or if she'd slipped a little something in his drink and taken advantage. Right now that was exactly what it felt like, that she'd taken advantage, but even as he thought it Foreman knew it was a lie. They'd both enjoyed themselves. It had been good. House would try his damnedest to ruin it, the way he ruined everything--Foreman's career included--but Foreman wasn't willing to let him. He wasn't willing to turn this into some Prisonner's Dilemma; he had more integrity than to start telling lurid stories about Amber for anyone's amusement, least of all House's. The problem was, he didn't know if Amber felt the same way. He suspected she'd be more than happy to let all the details spill out, catch House's prurient interest. Foreman stared at her, the laughter of the other candidates fading as he concentrated on her. He shook his head, as slightly as possible, wanting to ask her--to beg her, and fuck, she really was the one in control; Foreman had no power to influence anything she decided she wanted to do--he wanted her not to speak, not, for God's sake, to tell everyone in the room what she'd done to him. That would be tantamount to telling the whole fucking hospital. Foreman was miserable enough here as it was. He didn't need the snickers behind his back, people whispering that he took it up the ass. That he'd liked it. That felt like the biggest betrayal of all, from his own goddamn body.

Amber started speaking, and Foreman clenched his jaw, glaring down, waiting for House's scorn, the laughter from the rest of the candidates--the people he was supposed to be in charge of, as if they'd ever accept his authority now--but it didn't come. Foreman met Amber's eyes after she hesitated, anger still burning in his chest, but at least she hadn't said more than necessary. At least that.

It was still bad enough. House started in on the jokes immediately. Fury stopped Foreman from answering him, and he wasn't going to run out of the room as if he couldn't handle this. He needed an escape.

It came in the form of half a dozen pagers going off at once. Foreman unclipped his from his belt automatically. "The patient's crashing," he said. He looked up at the candidates, all of them clearly still hanging on the more amusing drama in front of them. "Get going," he snapped, and without waiting to see if they'd jump at his order, he stalked out of the room.