Author: EnchantedApril PM
A continuation of Second Date...If he fumbled his way around to a mature relationship, she’d be ready… assuming he didn’t take too long. Contains spoilers for current episodes. FINAL chapter added Nov24th.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - G. House & A. Cameron - Chapters: 4 - Words: 13,333 - Reviews: 50 - Favs: 41 - Follows: 8 - Updated: 11-23-05 - Published: 11-05-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2647599
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
As the title might suggest, this is a continuation from my short story, 'Second Date'. Reading it is probably necessary if you want to really catch all the nuances of this one. Be forewarned that, like 'Second Date', this story does refer to current season episodes, so if you don't want to be spoiled, keep away.
On a more personal note, I've received so many nice comments about my stories, and quite a few have also inquired about my health. I have my up and down days, but I definitely feel better than I did, and I have more energy. The achiness persists, and I'm hopeful that after my next appt (in another week or so) I'll get another medication that will help with it. I think I mentioned that I had to cut my hair short and it was a bit traumatic, but now I love it... short and curly and very perky. It helps that everyone else seems to like it better this way too! Okay, enough about me... on with the story.
Forecast for the day: sunny with a high of sixty-eight. Almost two weeks of cold and wet weather had ended in an unusual segue into a late Indian Summer. Cameron hummed along to the radio, her voice carried away on the wind. She had her windows open to let the air in. Her hair would be a mess by the time she got to work, but she didn't much care. She'd been wearing it pulled back lately anyway. More professional, she told herself, while at the same time admitting that it hurt just a little to give up the innocent girl look she'd unknowingly been cultivating.
She pulled into the garage, parked in her usual spot and headed inside. Half-way there, she spotted House's car. The top was down. Hopefully that was a good sign. Maybe the weather would put him in a better mood. The past week and a half had seen her almost give up on judging them. It had been that long since their second date, and he hadn't mentioned it, or the possibility of a third, since that day in the lunchroom.
Any number of self-help books would have told her to forget about him. Her few friends would no doubt have joined in with a similar chorus. Cameron hadn't bothered referring to any of them. Her new watchwords were patience and strength.
If he fumbled his way around to a mature relationship, she'd be ready… assuming he didn't take too long. In the meantime, she was done with turning herself into the cutest, sweetest, best version of herself. Was it the concrete knowledge that whatever he did, she would always be right about his feelings for her, or was it just the confidence that came naturally from over a year of working some of the most challenging cases she'd ever seen? It didn't really matter. She no longer held back when giving her medical opinion. She could be just as stubborn as him, and more stubborn than either Foreman or Chase. Their latest patient had been a good example of that, although she didn't have to wonder if Sebastian Charles was part of the reason House hadn't said more that a handful of personal sentences to her. Sebastian Charles had been good for her ego, which meant he had been bad for House's.
As soon as she'd met him in the conference room, bedraggled and ridiculous looking in bare feet and a hospital issue robe, she'd known exactly how things would progress. He was everything House despised. Outwardly good and giving, moralistic, idealistic, handsome, witty. In other words, too good to be true. Cameron knew that she shared some of those characteristics and she wondered sometimes if House hated her for them too, or if he just attributed them to whatever damage she'd suffered, thus making them acceptable as evidence of her dysfunctional personality.
House hadn't hidden his dislike of the Good Doctor, as he called him, with capital letters clearly implied, and Cameron hadn't hidden her exasperation over it. If circumstances had been different… if they had been different… it would have been amusing. Jealous boyfriend taking an instant dislike to the interloper. Only House wasn't her boyfriend (oh, what a terrible word) and with each day that passed she became less sure that he ever would be.
That last day, the day of Sebastian's release, had given her some hope, but it had been two days since then, and House had spent them holed up in his office pretending to work on a piece for some little-read medical journal. That left Cameron and the others to pick up his slack in the clinic and handle the paperwork. Still plenty of time for unbidden dwelling.
"So, are you going to go out with him?"
Said so casually, but with a look and a tone of voice that was rarely heard. Anticipation and nervousness and a boyish, lilting, hope. It had been unexpected. How had he even known Sebastian had asked her out? Chase. He was the only one who knew. Had he gone running to House with the news? An attempt to dig his way into House's good graces with some gossip? The suggestion that he wasn't the only one who could betray House for greener, or more equatorial, pastures?
Had he actually thought she'd go out with him? She'd quickly asked if it was any of his business. The one push she'd given in a week. The one little prod. Tell me that I shouldn't. Tell me why it matters to you. Tell me. Of course they were in the middle of the hospital hallway, and she knew his track record for admitting his feelings in those. His 'no' had been expected. She wondered if hers had been.
He'd gone into a rambling explanation about why she'd turned him down, as if he held the secret decoder ring to her thoughts. It amused her to let him talk himself into an explanation that couldn't have been further from the truth. Labels. That was House's thing, not hers. He had her labeled as damaged, and Sebastian as a martyr and himself… for himself he kept a drawer full of labels and swapped them out depending on his mood. It would take more than two dates for him to accept that she was probably one of the few who didn't use them. She'd never seen him as just an ass or just a cripple. Her husband had been more than just a dying man, and she… she was so much more than the simplistic labels he wanted to be able to pin her down with.
She wondered if House had seen Sebastian kiss her. She wondered if he'd seen her smile. She wondered if he knew she'd liked it. Liked being attractive and desirable and worthy, without having to work so damn hard for it. She wondered if he knew that she'd wished those lips had been his, and that if he hadn't become part of her life, she might, she just might, have found herself boarding a plane bound for Africa.
With thoughts wandering, Cameron stepped out of the elevator onto the third floor, unable to remember the steps that had brought her there. She hitched her laptop case higher on her shoulder and released a soft sigh. Time to go through the motions once more. Maybe they'd get lucky and have a patient, or maybe she'd get lucky and House would come to some point of agreement in his mind.
As she neared the diagnostics department's main conference room, she heard raucous laughter coming from within. Strike one. No new patient. She pushed the door open and they tried to stifle their amusement. That meant one of two things. They were trading dirty jokes, or they were talking about her. Dirty jokes seemed the most likely. Chase could be an ass, but he wasn't mean about it, and Foreman had that overabundance of protective testosterone. They might tease her to her face, but they wouldn't laugh at her behind her back.
"Something amusing, guys?"
"No, nothing, Cam," Foreman answered quickly.
"Just making phallic references about House's cane," Chase piped in, earning himself a glare from the other man.
Ah. Making fun of House behind his back. That, she could believe. She was more surprised by Foreman's apparent reluctance to admit it. They both knew, or presumed to know, how she felt about House, but she thought her recent actions would have dispelled any belief in her as the avenging defender of his honor.
"Good to know that penis jokes don't die out in college. Got any good ones about farts and other bodily functions?" She let a bright sarcastic smile decorate her face and the two men stared at her in silence for a second before hastily shaking their heads.
She nodded in apparent disappointment and walked to her desk. She ignored the muffled whispers from the other end of the room, but grinned despite herself. She did like to keep them on their toes. A few minutes later and they waved and muttered goodbye before heading downstairs to the clinic.
Fifteen minutes after that, and her morning routine was completed. Computer plugged in and logged on. Coffee made, and first cup drunk. The good stuff. The stuff he'd bought after their second date. Emails were read and answered, paperwork sorted, and now a small stack of forms was perched on the corner of her desk.
She stared at them for a full two minutes before gathering them up and marching into House's office.
He was at his desk, as usual, with his iPod plugged in, as usual, staring out the window at the beautiful fall day.
"Nice weather," Cameron said, hoping to start things off well.
"What would you like, Cameron?" he asked, keeping his eyes focused on a particularly colorful branch of leaves.
"Maybe he'll just get better."
"You'd like that, wouldn't you."
House's words caused the scene from four days earlier to play through her mind. You'd like that, wouldn't you. It hadn't been a question. Or had it? Had he been waiting for her to deny it? To deny that she felt something that he thought she must be feeling? He could never just tell her what he was thinking. It was always questions with him, half of them inappropriate, all of them probing without giving anything away. She had never really contemplated the quirks of his insecurity.
"Well?" He swiveled in his chair and she grimaced, annoyed that she had been caught up in her thoughts.
The paperwork she'd brought in to give to him was currently being crumpled between her folded arms and her chest. Paper armor to shield against his rapier wit, his rapier gaze. A flicker in his eyes when he blinked, and she wondered if patience was really what was needed here.
"What would I like? I'd like things between us to go back to the way they were last Monday, when I thought we'd agreed to move forward," she said, careful to keep her eyes fixed on his face. No weakness allowed. "For the moment, I'll settle for having you sign these forms. Dr. Cuddy said they need to be to accounting by noon."
Cameron dropped the handful of forms in the center of his desk and waited to see if he'd say anything. When he didn't, she spun around and headed towards the door.
Her name with the seldom used honorific cut the air as her hand wrapped around the cool metal door handle. She pivoted half-way and looked at him without letting go.
"Are you so sure third time's the charm?" He had picked up his cane and was twirling it to give his fingers something to do. Something to make him look nonchalant.
One carefully sculpted eyebrow quirked upwards. "No, not really. But I'm ready to risk it."
The cane thumped against the ground and strong fingers drummed along the curved handle. He tore his eyes from her too stoic, too calm, too certain face, and instead followed the line of the thick vein on the back of his hand. Knuckles to wrist and disappearing into a rolled up sleeve.
"Yeah, that's sort of your schtick."
Labels once again. She released the handle to fold her arms across her chest again. "And what's yours?" she challenged. "I thought risk-taking was your middle name."
"No. That falls more under my medical specialty." He tried to quip, but it fell flat.
A short sniff and a narrowing of pink lips. "And personally?"
He cocked his head and looked at her with one eye. "Still trying to figure that out," he muttered, and she wondered if he was cursing himself for giving even a semi-direct answer.
She wouldn't allow her relieved sigh freedom. She really had no reason to be relieved. "Well, glad to hear you're working at it," she said instead, and turned back to the door.
"Keep your weekend free... just in case," he said perfunctorily, just as she was about to pass through the door.
This time she didn't look back. She didn't want him to see the look on her face.
"I'll pencil you in," she replied, just as casually, and waited until she was at her desk to let even a half-smile pass quickly over her lips.