See the Sun
Disclaimer: I'll be repeating myself, but okay. House does not belong to me. Kapesh?
Summary: House is somehow coerced into attending Cameron's birthday celebration, and finds himself involuntarily bonding with his team in the process. House/Cameron.
Spoilers: Anything up to 'The Socratic Method' is fair game.
Author's Note: I'd like to thank those of you who gave me feedback for my previous two House fics. This one's a little longer, and involves more of the characters. This is the first time I've attempted to write Chase or Foreman, and House gets harder all the time. Let me know what you think.
Generally speaking, House didn't like visitors to his office. The only exceptions he was willing to make were if they had some particularly interesting news about one of his cases, or if they had some kind of snack offering with them.
That being said, he had a fairly accurate idea about who it was that hovered over his desk, before he had even lifted his gaze.
Cuddy would have burst into his office immediately demanding his attention, if she had ever bothered to make the trek to his office at all. Wilson would have opened with some dry one-liner, striding confidently to his desk with the ease that came from being his one and only friend, probably mocking his work ethic in the process. And Cameron would have hesitated shyly in the doorway, knocking politely until he acknowledged her presence.
Which left only two people who had the gall to enter uninvited, but who lacked the assurance to speak until he noticed them, neither of whom he was in the mood to deal with at that moment. He was never really in the mood to deal with anyone, but the other two doctors on his staff were certainly at the bottom ten percent of his list.
His neurologist Eric Foreman stood calmly above him, arms folded over his crisp white lab coat, expression neutral. House rolled his eyes, anticipating the meaningless conversation that was sure to follow.
"Do I have to ask you if you want something? Because I… really don't care".
Foreman remained somehow impervious to his sarcasm, which usually only served to make House kick it up several more notches.
"Hey, look, I'm here against my own free will, okay?" Foreman said quickly.
House lifted an eyebrow, intrigued by this statement. The careful square of his shoulders certainly supported that claim. Cuddy hadn't sent him in to do her bidding, had she?
"Well, I didn't think Dr. Cuddy would ever resort to this. She really likes to get her own hands dirty, if you know what I mean".
Foreman rolled his eyes, looking tired. "I'm not here for Dr. Cuddy, I'm here for Cameron".
House's eyebrows continued to rise. He suspected the idealistic young immunologist had some kind of crush on him, but for some unknown reason, he had difficulty shooting her down like he usually would have. Even his trusty sarcasm abandoned him when she did something particularly unexpected, like give him a Christmas gift or spread good cheer about his birthday. She had a kind of niceness that was contagious, and he attempted to avoid her, in case it really was catching.
"Can't get enough of me, huh?" he said, doing what he usually did when a situation made him uncomfortable – joke about it. "Well, I'm sure there's some kind of ethical issue working against you, but if you feel you can risk it—"
"It's Cameron's birthday tomorrow".
House gazed at him blankly. "I see. So I guess it's a myth that the beautiful don't age".
Foreman shot him a look of impatience. "Chase thought it would be a good idea if we met for dinner somewhere, and did something to celebrate since she still doesn't know that many people in the city. We wanted to know if you would come".
House could see how difficult it was for Foreman to get the words out, and he smirked in genuine enjoyment, prolonging the neurologist's suffering. "This was Chase's idea, huh? Well, what do you know, the little rascal actually likes me!"
Foreman sighed heavily. "Look, Dr. House, this is strictly for Cameron's benefit. For whatever reason, she seems to like you, and we thought she might want you to be there".
House frowned. "What makes you think I want to be there?"
"Do I have to remind you that Cameron was the only one who bothered telling anyone about your birthday? She didn't have to; she just did it because it was a nice thing to do. The least you can do is be there".
House twisted his mouth, distasteful at the very thought. He moved his cane against his foot, reluctantly realising that Foreman was right about the act of kindness Cameron had done him, wanted or not. "What time do I have to be there?" he asked irritably.
Foreman looked taken aback by his speedy response, and took a moment to answer. "Seven. At the Blue Point Grill."
Foreman obviously knew not to push the issue any further, and nodded before leaving the room. House sighed, regarding his cane vaguely as he realised what he had just agreed to. He had never felt obligated to attend any of the number of social gatherings the staff held before, so why was he going to this one, exactly?
Well, it couldn't be that bad. They would have scotch, wouldn't they?
"So I hear you're actually doing something social tonight".
House glanced up, narrowing his eyes irritably at Wilson as he limped down the hall towards the clinic. He had never wanted to reach it faster.
"I don't know where you hear these things, but that is an unsubstantiated rumour."
Wilson smirked knowingly. "I never thought they'd badger you into it".
House turned in the hallway, shooting Wilson a withering glare. "You knew about this?"
"Of course. Who do you think encouraged Foreman to ask you about it?"
"Chase", House scoffed under his breath. "Why did I believe that?"
"I didn't really think you would agree to it, though".
House frowned at his friend, who looked entirely too amused at the situation. "Well, it was a close call, but there's something to be said for getting drunk on expensive scotch instead of the cheap stuff. And there's always the chance Dr. Cameron will dazzle us all in a tiny black number. That was a possibility I just couldn't pass up".
Wilson smiled to himself, following House as he continued down the hall. Hospital staff members dodged them on the way, but Wilson thought it was more because they were afraid of him than courtesy to his leg. People rarely viewed House as a man with a disability. His acerbic wit more than made up for the fact that he didn't have full use of his leg.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were starting to get soft, House".
"You're right. You don't know any better".
He swept through the glass doors into the clinic, and Wilson loitered back in the hall, watching him go with a vague smirk on his face.
House abruptly entered exam room one, frowning at the patient he encountered inside.
He had long blonde hair twisted in a thick, unruly wad of dreadlocks, so thick he clearly had difficulty seeing through them. He shifted uncomfortably on the exam table, clad in a bright striped shirt and baggy pants. To top off the ensemble, he had a striped tea cosy like hat on his head.
House lifted an eyebrow, scanning him before popping several Vicodin pills in his mouth.
"What, you hurt your binky playing your bongo drums?"
The patient glared back at him, and House wondered how someone could be so insulted about their appearance when they dressed like one of the Baha Men.
"No. I have a really serious problem".
House leant heavily on his cane, blinking at the man expectantly. "You don't say?"
Clearly about as intelligent as his level of colour coordination, he nodded, completely missing House's obvious sarcasm. "I started loosing my hair about a week ago."
House blinked, leaning against the medical cabinets. It was going to be a long day. "Hmm. Really?"
"Yeah. And lately, I've been getting a lot of headaches."
"When did those start?" he asked, feigning interest as he glanced at the anatomy poster on the wall behind him.
"At my girlfriend's concert last Friday".
House rolled his eyes. Cuddy was going to pay for this one.
"I mean, I know I haven't had many symptoms, but do you think you know what it could be?"
House sighed. "Well, call me crazy, but I think this is more of a hairdresser's specialty."
The patient stared at him blankly. "What?"
"Cut your hair, you idiot."
"What? What about my headaches?"
"Get some earplugs."
He looked more upset about House's recommendation than at his own stupidity. "Cut my hair? My girlfriend is gonna freak, man".
"Well, unless she wants a bald boyfriend she's going to have to deal about it."
House turned to leave, shooting one more scathing comment over his shoulder with his hand on the doorknob. "Love is all about sacrifices".
He frowned as he left the room, wondering where the hell he pulled that statement. He shrugged it off, wondering if he could slip past the reception desk without someone reporting to Cuddy that he had gone.
As if they heard his thoughts, one of the nurses on staff passed him, giving him a pointed look on her way. Clearly one of Cuddy's many minions. He rolled his eyes, turning back to his exam room, wondering exactly how many additional hours of boredom he would have to endure today because of Cameron's birthday dinner.
The Blue Point Grill was a surprisingly comfortable place, not at all like the sort of location House had imagined Chase or Foreman to choose. Soft jazz music filtered from the jukebox in the corner, and brown leather booths hugged the walls. A bar dominated one edge of the room, and a group of pool tables clustered near the other. The interior was slightly smoky, but not annoyingly so, and House fingered his self-promised glass of scotch, idly studying the room as Chase sat quietly across from him.
Obviously, the blonde doctor wasn't terribly happy about him being there. It heightened his enjoyment considerably. Though all three of his doctors on staff obviously had mingled feelings about him as their boss, Chase was the only one who seemed to have strong feelings against him.
Of course, if he was made to think about it, which he would certainly never do, he could admit that there were certain things about each of his doctors that he admired. Despite his selection criteria, they were all excellent in their fields, and they all had personal qualities that added to their value. Foreman was unwavering in his integrity, and had the courage to go over House's head if it meant a patient's recovery. Chase was charming, often deceptively so, and had the ability to be manipulative with his people skills, if it was required. And Cameron was excessively nice, which automatically led to the trust and approval of everyone she met.
They were his handpicked team, and they were individually irreplaceable. They just didn't need to know that.
Chase shifted as the door to the bar opened, and Foreman allowed Cameron to enter before striding in after her.
She wasn't, unfortunately, in a little black dress, but her slender fitting black jacket and brown pants were flattering nonetheless, and he took the time to admire her. Her dark, raven black locks flowed freely down her back, framing her pretty features, which were flushed slightly from the stuffiness of the bar. He always found it somewhat unnatural when women as beautiful as she was were also graced with intelligence. It made them seem almost unattainable.
She didn't look surprised to see him, and had obviously been braced by Foreman about his presence, but she smiled at him anyway, and looked pleased to see him there. It was a foreign reaction, and he forced himself not to linger on it.
"Hey guys. Thanks for doing this for me".
She slid into the booth beside House, and Foreman sat beside Chase, quickly starting up the usual small talk.
House sat back silently; content to watch them exchange useless information, grunting a response whenever anyone directly addressed him. He wasn't entirely sure how it happened, but he found himself drawn into the ridiculousness of the conversation about halfway through their meal.
"Please. Track is not a team sport. It's not even a good sport".
How they had even got onto the topic, House wasn't sure, but he was going to enjoy proving Foreman wrong.
Foreman lifted an eyebrow at him across the table, resting his fork on his plate. "And what would you consider a team sport?"
"Baseball", he shot back.
Chase rolled his eyes. "That's the best you could come up with?"
"You're Australian. You don't even have baseball".
"Excuse me, we do too have baseball. It just isn't as revered as it is here. We prefer something that has actual strategy involved, like football".
"You mean soccer", House retorted, smirking as Chase narrowed his eyes.
"Australian football is a lot better than the American version. You don't even use your feet, for God's sake".
Foreman scoffed, and Cameron stifled her smile by sipping her drink. Chase scowled, but he didn't really look annoyed. "Okay. What kind of sport did you ever play?"
He frowned, as if realising his question might be provoking a sensitive topic, but it wasn't as if any of them had ever attempted to be sensitive with him before. He wouldn't allow it. "Well, before the unfortunate little issue of loosing full use of my leg, I actually did used to play baseball".
Foreman smirked. "Figures".
"What about you, Foreman?" Cameron spoke up.
House smirked. "Street boxing?" he spoke up dryly.
Foreman gave him a look. "Actually, I was much more into gambling. Sports weren't big in my neighbourhood."
House continued to smirk, glancing at Cameron briefly beside him. "Okay. I'll bet you twenty bucks that Cameron was a cheerleader."
Chase laughed openly. "I'm not going to argue with that".
Cameron frowned defensively. "Why do you automatically assume that I was a cheerleader?"
"That's a yes", Foreman noted.
Cameron narrowed her eyes. It never really made much of an effect on her face, House thought. She could never really come across as threatening. "Well, what would be wrong with that if I was?"
"Well, take out the cute little skirts and it's not really much of a sport", House taunted. "Then again, I wouldn't be against it if you decided to bring out the old uniform. Wear it to the hospital. That'd really jazz things up".
Cameron rolled her eyes, like she usually did when he made a sexually charged comment. "Well, for your information, I was a cheerleader. And there was nothing wrong with it".
House found this new information amusing. It was always good to be prepared with new cannon fodder.
He could feel the warmth of the scotch sliding down his throat, and Foreman suggested a game of pool. Chase agreed, stretching his legs as he slid out of the booth after his colleague. He glanced down at House questioningly, and House realised that some dynamic between them had shifted in the last hour or so if he felt comfortable enough to ask him if he wanted to play.
He turned them down quickly, shifting against the discomfort in his leg that even the soft leather couldn't starve. "Not really my game. One stick's enough for me, thanks."
Chase glanced at Cameron, who also hadn't made an effort to move. "Cameron?"
"No thanks. I might start cheerleading", she said cheekily
Chase smirked, following Foreman to the pool tables, and House riffled in his pocket, producing his Vicodin, which he quickly swallowed before turning to look at Cameron. "I wonder if I'm starting to have an influence on you, Dr. Cameron".
She shrugged, sliding her finger delicately around the rim of her drink. House felt strangely relaxed as he sat beside her, allowing his gaze to wander around the room. The two of them sat in comfortable silence for a while, watching Chase and Foreman across the room as they started their game.
"Thanks for coming tonight", she said suddenly, glancing at him and tucking a strand of hair behind one ear. "I know you probably didn't want to, but I'm glad you did".
He lifted a shoulder in a vague shrug, wondering how her piercing blue eyes managed to make him so tongue-tied. It wasn't something he was used to. "I suppose since you're the only one who remembered mine, it's only fair".
Cameron smiled slightly. "I thought you hated that".
"Of course I hated that. Birthdays aren't much of a thrill once you're over thirty".
She rolled her eyes, but she didn't look insulted. "If you ever find anything that does make you happy, I'd love to hear about it".
House sighed irritably. Her continual attempts to coerce him from his gruff mood were one thing he found difficult to tolerate about her. Well, there were a lot of things he found difficult to tolerate about her, but that was definitely number one. "Happiness is overrated".
"That's hard to say when you don't know the difference."
"I think I'm seeing flashes to your cheerleader days".
She leant back in the booth, allowing her head to loll against the back of the seat. She looked casual, relaxed, and despite his best efforts, unbothered by his attempts to dissuade her. "Why did you come tonight?"
He frowned. "Do I have to have a reason?"
"Knowing you, yes. I thought you would have avoided this like the plague".
"Well, I'm wacky that way".
She studied him silently, tilting her head against the leather backing. "I don't get you".
"You're not the first woman to tell me that."
The track on the jukebox had shifted from the typical jazz that had been playing all night, to a rock song by the Who. House absently tapped his fingers in time to the beat on the edge of the table.
Cameron blinked at him, and he allowed his gaze to wander to her empty drink instead of meeting her insistent stare. "How much have you had to drink?" he asked. The thought of Allison Cameron drunk nearly made him crack a smile.
Cameron frowned. "Not that much", she said, yawning slightly.
She appeared to have given up on her analysis, and closed her eyes, taking in the muted sounds of the bar. "House?" she asked softly, keeping her eyes closed.
He glanced at her, again struck by her beauty. Her dark eyelashes contrasted against her porcelain skin, and he sighed deeply. He could admit he was attracted to her. He could admit to everyone he was attracted to her. But the fact that she appeared to be attracted back was a bigger problem. He could brush people off with trivial insults, but he was human. Knowingly hurting someone didn't get any easier with practice. And Cameron, despite her inner flaws and her eyes that reflected some hidden inner turmoil, was as innocent to the world as he was not. He didn't want to hurt her and that worried him most of all.
"Yeah?" he asked tiredly, voice low and hoarse.
"I'll understand if you want to leave".
She kept her eyes closed, probably to protect herself from his agreement. He surprised both of them.
"No", he said, quietly.
She opened her eyes, glancing at him for a moment.
He shrugged, uncertain if he was doing her a favour or if he really wanted to stay. "Happy birthday".
She smiled slightly, a small, pleasant smile that tugged at his heart in a way he wasn't prepared for. She reminded him of the sun, blinding in her beauty but deadly if he got too close.
As if she sensed she was making him uncomfortable, she fluidly shifted in her seat, turning her attention back to Chase and Foreman, now heavily involved in a competitive game of pool across the room. She didn't ask for a reason, and he didn't give one, and they just sat there, silently enjoying each other's company.