Disclaimer: Don't own them. Just like messing with them every once in a while.
A/N: Wow. I've written a few stories before, but this is the first one I've put on this site. I must also admit that I've only seen a few episodes of this amazing show—sucks how real life can get in the way sometimes, doesn't it? However, even after so few viewings, a story idea wiggled its way into my head, and I just had to write it. This is my way of saying that any mistakes you find—grammatical or pertaining to the show—are entirely my fault, as I don't have a beta and have no medical expertise whatsoever. If anyone wants to tell me if I've gotten anything wrong, I'd appreciate it.
Also, this story does contain spoilers for the last episode. I haven't seen the sides for the finale, but another writer mentioned them in a story, so I'm just going off from there.
Hope everyone enjoys—reviews are always welcome!
House slowly opened his eyes and silently took note of the white ceiling and antiseptic smell of the room he was in. He was obviously in a hospital—he worked in one, for God's sake—but the question was, why was he here? Slowly, the memories filtered through his mind. Ah, yes. Too much Vicodin—too much even for him, and that was saying something—combined with much too much alcohol, and a huge man with iron fists who was much too easy to provoke. House fingered his ribs gingerly. Big Guy stuck to punching and kicking the crap out of his chest and stomach, most likely breaking—no, House winced, definitely breaking—a few ribs in the process. Either he didn't want to mess up House's pretty face, or he'd somehow known where to inflict the most damage. Wonderful.
Before House could assess himself or his room any further, a noise at his left side drew his attention. There, sitting in a chair but bent over onto his bed, with her face on her arms, sound asleep, was Cameron. What the hell was she doing here?
He didn't have long to wait before he could ask his question, as the noise he had been making must have disrupted her sleep. Cameron slowly woke up and straightened, stretching the kinks from her neck. It had to be painful, sleeping bent over like that. When she noticed that House was awake, her eyes widened with relief. "Thank God," she breathed, and reached for the call button.
"No!" House said loudly. Cameron's hand froze over the button. "Pressing that button will only bring in a gaggle of nurses whose sole duty in life is to poke and prod and torture me. I think that can wait. Besides, you're a doctor, and I'm confident in your abilities if I do stop breathing, start hemorrhaging, or start speaking in tongues." He added a wide, obviously fake smile for emphasis. Cameron just smirked, but she did pull her hand back from the button. "There," House said, satisfied. "Now, what are you doing here?"
"A nurse came down trying to find Wilson, since he's your emergency contact, but he's at a conference," Cameron replied. "I gave her the number, then came up here to check on you."
Ah, yes, Wilson and his conferences. How many 'lady friends' was he making during this one, House wondered. But, wait—"Why were you in the office so late?" he asked. She should have gotten off work at the same time he did. By the time they brought him in from the bar, she should have been home for hours.
"I was working on some paperwork. I haven't been able to catch up, we've been too busy with our latest patient…" Cameron trailed off, unsure how to finish her sentence.
She didn't have too—House knew exactly who she meant. Stacy's husband. He looked out the window. Light was just beginning to push its way into the room. He looked back at Cameron, incredulous. "It's nearly morning. You spent the entire night here?"
"I was worried about you!" Cameron protested. "Along with getting beaten half to death, the doctors had to pump your stomach to get all the alcohol and painkillers out of your system. What were you trying to do, get yourself killed?"
No response came from House, not even a sarcastic comment. He just looked down and ran his fingers over the thin, rough blanket covering his legs. Cameron's eyes widened in horror and pain. "Oh, House…"
"Don't 'Oh, House' me," he snapped. "I'm a grown man, I can do whatever I want. Besides, I would think this would make you happy. I'm even more damaged now, more for you to fix. But there's no way I can compete with your husband, is there…"
Cameron's eyes flashed, and House shrunk back into his bed, thinking it quite wise to just stop talking. Whoa. He'd never seen her this angry before, no matter how much he pushed her.
"Yes, House, my husband was dying of cancer when I met him. Does that somehow, in your mind, make him unworthy of or unfit for marriage? I knew going in that he only had a slim chance of living more than a year. Did I marry him because I wanted to fix him?" She threw her hands up in the air. "No!" One hand went to her temple, as if to massage away a headache. "All I know is I loved him so much that I wanted to be his wife, and it didn't matter if it was for years or months or even weeks. And while I understand and accept that at times you need to push me away—I was asking for it on our date the other night—bringing up my husband is a low blow, even for you, and I will not tolerate it anymore!"
Cameron took a shaky breath. They both fell silent, allowing the anger to dissipate from the room. Suddenly, the pain in his leg—which had stayed dormant for this long, thankfully—flared up again with a vengeance. House winced.
Cameron, ever the doctor, was instantly alert, checking the monitors for any signs of distress. "What's wrong?"
He waved her off. "Nothing," he muttered. "Just my leg." At this, Cameron reached into her purse and withdrew a bottle of Vicodin. House eyed the bottle greedily and tried to snatch it out of her hand, but she easily pulled it out of his reach.
"Not so fast," she said. "After everything that's happened, you really think I'm just going to hand you a bottle full of pills?" At least House had the decency to look contrite. As she shook a few of the painkillers out of the bottle, she continued. "You should consider yourself lucky that I found the extra bottle in your desk, and that I'm even giving them to you. The nurses would never do this." With that, she held out her hand.
Damn it, she was right, and House knew it. He mumbled a "Thanks" before taking the proffered pills and quickly swallowing them dry. Some of the pain lessened immediately. He knew it had to be a placebo effect from the act of just swallowing the pills, as there was no way the drugs could be in his system yet, but he was grateful for it nonetheless. He took a breath before speaking again. "You never answered my question—what are you doing here? Is this another attempt to woo me?"
Cameron glared at him. "You made yourself perfectly clear on our date, and I'm mature enough to put my feelings aside. But I still care about you as a friend, and I thought you could use someone to talk to when you woke up. You'd usually talk to Wilson, but he's not here, I'm not sure how close you are to Cuddy, and God knows you wouldn't open up to Foreman or Chase. So here I am." She shrugged.
"Oh, so you're a psychologist now? I don't need to talk to anyone."
"Come on, House!" Cameron exclaimed. "You practically admitted to me that you were trying to get yourself killed last night! You can't keep that type of thing bottled up forever."
House glared at her. "Watch me."
Cameron opened her mouth, as if to say something. Deciding it was of no use, she closed her mouth and shook her head sadly, then grabbed her purse and started to stand. "Fine. You can't say I didn't try."
House panicked. He didn't think she would actually leave! His arm shot out, and he grabbed her wrist, stopping her. "Cameron, wait. Please."
She nodded and sat back down, taking the hand that had grabbed her and holding it in both of hers, running a thumb over his knuckles. The action was soothing, and he closed his eyes for a moment before he spoke.
"I…I keep bringing up your husband, because, I…I'm jealous of him." He glanced over at Cameron to see her reaction. She raised an eyebrow but said nothing, wanting him to continue. "You only knew him when he was sick, and yet you stayed with him until the end. Stacy knew me for a long time before everything with my leg, but when it happened…"
"She left you," Cameron finished, realization dawning on her face.
"Yeah. Way to make a guy feel like shit. And now, after five years, she comes waltzing back into my life—with a husband, no less! And to top it all off—the real kicker—is that she's not leaving him. Oh, no. That honor was mine and mine alone. What is it that makes people want to abandon me? Even you left." He looked at her pointedly.
Her only response was to lift the hand she was holding and press his fingers against her chin. "I came back, though. I might have even if you didn't agree to the date. And just because Stacy left you and not this other guy doesn't mean it's because of you. Maybe they work together better as a couple. Maybe she's just a bitch." That brought a small smile to his face. "The point is, there are plenty of reasons why she left that don't have to do with you."
House stared at his fingers, so close to her mouth. "True. But I wasn't thinking about that last night. Seeing Stacy again brought back a lot of feelings I've spent a lot of time and energy ignoring. I didn't want to feel that way again. I thought the Vicodin and alcohol would make everything go away, but they didn't—damn things—so I picked a fight with some idiot at the bar. 'Cause if there's one thing I know, it's that pain dulls anything else you're feeling, and I was hoping that if I could get enough pain, I wouldn't have to worry about feeling anything else…"
Cameron's eyes were wide with sadness and sympathy and bright with unshed tears. She didn't say anything, just sat there holding his hand, and House stared at her until he could feel moisture building behind his own eyes. He looked away then, blinking furiously. Gregory House did not cry, damn it, and he wasn't going to start now. But it was no use—he couldn't stop the lone tear that slid down his cheek.
It happened so quickly he had no time to react. In one smooth motion Cameron was on the small hospital bed with him, carefully avoiding the tubes and his sore ribs, putting her arms around him and gently drawing him into her embrace, whispering into his ear, "Just let it all out. I'm here."
It was the catch in her voice that did him in, breaking down that last wall. The heart he didn't think he had anymore twisted until it hurt, and suddenly House was sobbing, crying bitter, salty tears into Cameron's shoulder. He cried for the first time in years, for all the times he'd held it in before—his leg, his relationship with Stacy, the life he could have had—and the entire time Cameron kept one hand on his back and the other in his hair, massaging, shushing and soothing and murmuring, "It's okay, let it out. I'm here, just let it all out," keeping him grounded and steady, sharing the pain as it poured out of him in sobs and gulps of air.
Finally, after an eternity—or maybe just a few minutes, it was hard to tell—his tears ended and his breathing went back to normal. Only then did Cameron release him, giving him a few inches of space but still holding his hands, resting the tangle of fingers and palms between them on the bed. They stayed like that for a few seconds, until House broke the silence. "Well, that was thoroughly humiliating."
Cameron just gave him a small smile. "I won't tell anyone," she said softly.
"Thanks." A pause. "This really isn't something friends do for each other."
Cameron threw her head back and laughed, the musical peals washing over him in waves. House's fingers itched to try to recreate the sound on the piano. He definitely needed to make her laugh more often. As her laughter faded, she looked at him again and smiled, bigger this time. "It's something this friend does."
House smiled back at her, and suddenly all he could think about was the fact that her lips were mere inches away from his and how easy it would be to close the distance. His inner cynic started taunting him, listing the reasons why it was a bad idea, and would never work, and would end up just like it did with Stacy…
For the first time in his life, House mentally slapped his inner cynic across the face, tied him up, and threw him in a closet. Emboldened, and with the dissenting voice in his head sufficiently quieted, he leaned in and captured her lips with his.
Cameron responded instantly, but neither tried to deepen the kiss. It was a chaste kiss, sweet and tender and exactly what they both needed at that moment. When they broke apart and House could see her again, her face wore the happiest, most content expression he had ever seen. And he was sure he had one on his face to match.
"I'm still going to be crotchety and stubborn," he told her. Cameron nodded.
"And mean and sarcastic," he added.
She just smiled serenely. "You wouldn't be House if you weren't. I wouldn't expect anything else."
"I'm twice your age."
"Not unless you're pushing sixty." Off his confused expression, she clarified, "I'm only a few years away from thirty, House."
When his eyes widened with astonishment, Cameron grinned. "Oh, forgot how long med school takes, did you? Besides, my mom is ten years younger than my dad. Big age gaps don't bother me."
House nodded, but pressed on. "I'm your boss."
Her smile disappeared at this statement. "That could be a problem," she said slowly. "But if you think this could be real, and you're willing to take the chance, I'm willing to find another job, or put in for a transfer, or just wait, if we have to."
House shook his head. "I don't know exactly what the rules are, but Cuddy didn't seem too mad when she found out about the date, so they can't be that harsh. Besides, Cuddy would probably let me do almost anything to get me to behave, and it's not like I have a record of following the rules." He smiled mischievously, and Cameron laughed.
It was only when House yawned that Cameron remembered where they were, and the ordeal he had just been through. "You need to get some rest," she admonished. "Go to sleep—I'll be here when you wake up."
"You should go home and get some real sleep," he protested.
"I'm young—I'll bounce back," she teased. "Now lean back."
He did as he was told. "The evil nurses will kick you out if they catch you."
Cameron just smiled at him. "Let them try." She leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on his forehead, then laid her head on the pillow and laughed as he squinted in disgust at her. "Sorry—I couldn't help myself." She looked at him tenderly and whispered, "Go to sleep, Greg."
Greg. He smiled as he closed his eyes. He hadn't been called by his first name in a long time. He liked it—a lot.
He heard Cameron's breathing even out and knew that she had fallen asleep. And just before he also slipped back into slumber, he lifted their still intertwined hands and moved them until they rested over his heart.
The heart that had been there all along—he'd just needed some help finding it again.