Title: Strings

Author: EvaRose

Rating: M

Disclaimer: I know you might find it hard to believe but I do not own House M.D. or any of it's characters.

Beta: starhawk2005 and elliemaehudson


"I hate this," Cameron said aloud to the empty conference room.

Foreman and Chase were both down in the clinic and House was off somewhere hiding from Dr. Cuddy because, surprise, surprise, he too was scheduled for clinic duty. So she knew she'd have the room to herself for a little while. With a deep sigh she picked up the phone and dialled a number that, even though she only called it once a year, she still knew as well as her own.

It was her own fault, she knew. She had made this phone call the first year after he had died, and the next, until it had become a ritual, a ritual she just couldn't find it in herself to break. House would say that was one of her biggest weaknesses. Always doing for everyone else, making sure everyone else was taken care of. Always worrying about what other people needed and never taking for herself.

Sighing again, Cameron listened as the line began to ring.


"Hi, Caroline."

"Oh, Allison. Perfect timing, I'm just putting the finishing touches on his cake right now."

Cameron closed her eyes and willed herself to remain calm.

"So how have you been, Caroline?"

"Oh, you know how it is, dear, these old bones just keep getting older. One of these days they're just going to give out entirely."

Cameron made a thin-lipped smile at the familiar response, and gave the same reply she always did.

"Nonsense, you're looking more beautiful than ever."

It was an odd response, given that she hadn't actually laid eyes on the older woman since a week after the funeral, but it was part of the ritual, and oddly comforting.

"So how's work, dear?"

"Good," she lied.

"Meet any nice, young doctors?"

"No. I don't have any time for that sort of thing."

"You should make the time, Allison. You can't live in the past forever, you know?"

Then why the hell do we do this every year? Cameron thought to herself.

She heard the strike of a match on the other end of the line and, squeezing her eyes tightly shut, took another calming breath.

Almost over, almost over, almost over.

"Okay, I'm all set. Ready?"

"Ready." She was proud at how steady her voice sounded.

Slowly, hesitantly she started to sing along with the older woman.

Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday dear Paul,

Happy Birthday to you.

"He would have been 36 this year. A mother should never have to outlive her children."

"I know, Caroline," she answered softly. She could tell the other woman was crying now, but didn't say anything else.

"He loved you so much, Allison."

"I loved him too." More ritual.

"Well, I should let you go dear. I'm sure you have patients to take care of."


"Next year?"

"Of course, Caroline."

"Okay, bye, then."


Cameron hung up the phone, and buried her face in her hands for a moment.

"I hate this," she said to the empty room.


House limped down the hall towards his office, feeling rather proud of himself. He had managed to ditch the clinic and make it all the way up here without running into Cuddy. He entered his office and was on his way to his computer for a rousing game of Suduko, when he heard Cameron's soft voice coming from the conference room, and pulled up short. Her back was to him and he couldn't quite make out what she was saying through the glass, but he could tell by her posture that it wasn't a happy call.

Never a man to respect another's privacy, he hobbled up to the glass door and cracked it open, as quietly as possible, so he could listen in on Cameron's side of the conversation.

"No, I don't have time for that sort of thing."

What sort of thing?


Ready for what? House wondered, and then much to his surprise, Cameron began singing 'Happy Birthday'. Who the hell is Paul?

"I know, Caroline."


"I loved him too."


House listened as she ended her conversation and hung up the phone, then watched as she buried her face in her hands.

"I hate this," he heard her say, and the sadness in her voice almost made him feel bad for what he was about to do. Almost.

"I thought birthdays were supposed to be a cause for celebration," he said gruffly, limping into the room.

"House!" Cameron's head popped up and she looked at him with wide, startled eyes. "How long have you been here?"

"Long enough to know that you shouldn't give up your day job to become a singer. You have an awful voice." He made a face and shuddered dramatically for effect.

"You know, in some circles, it's considered rude to eavesdrop on someone's private conversation," she said coldly, refusing to look at him. "But, this is you we're talking about, so I don't know why I'm surprised."

"You're right, you shouldn't be surprised, and I wasn't eavesdropping," he replied, as he hobbled over to the coffee pot.

After pouring himself a cup and adding the required amount of sugar, he turned around and regarded her with a steady gaze.

"You know, I don't pay you to sit around, making personal phone calls all day." He took a sip of his coffee, continuing to watch her over the rim of his red mug.

"House, please," her voice was tight and her hands balled into fists, "I'm not in any kind of mood to put up with you today, so please don't."

Well he couldn't exactly let that go unchallenged, now could he?

"So, who's Paul? Your dead husband?" He regretted it as soon as it was out of his mouth, but he'd never been one to let a little thing like regret stop him from alienating everyone around him?

Cameron slammed her hands down on her desk, and stood up so quickly that the chair she had just occupied skidded across the floor and crashed into the wall behind her. She stood there for a moment, hands braced on the desk, head bowed, trembling in her effort to control her anger.

She had taken her hair out of its customary bun while she was on the phone; a nervous habit - she liked to be able to twirl it around her fingers when she was upset. Now, she was grateful for the curtain it created, shielding her from House's cool, penetrating eyes.

She knew that if she looked up at him she would snap, and the consequences would be disastrous for both of them. There was only so much pushing one person could take. And boy, had he been pushing her lately. Most days she would just let his nasty words roll off her. In her time working for House, she had become pretty immune to his barbs. She'd had no choice. She would never have survived him, otherwise. But today, apparently, she had reached her limit.

He enjoyed watching people fall apart, she knew this. He experimented with people's emotions, determining which buttons to push, to produce the quickest and most dramatic results. It was a game to him. A game she resolutely refused to play.

"Do you always celebrate your dead husband's birthday?" House continued, in a casual, chitchat-around-the-water-cooler tone of voice. As if he was oblivious to the effect his words were having on her.

"In fact, I do," Cameron spat out as she pushed herself upright. Without sparing another word or glance in his direction, she began collecting her things.

House looked at his watch then back at her with a puzzled look.

"Where do you think you're going?" he asked.


"It's only two o'clock."

"Very good, Dr. House!" she said, using a tone of voice that a teacher might use on a not-so-bright student, one who had actually gotten something right for a change. "When the small hand is on the two, and the big hand is on the twelve, that means it's two o'clock. I'll make sure to bring you in a cookie tomorrow, for being such a smart boy." She shoved her arms into the sleeves of her winter coat, before cramming her toque on her head and wrapping her scarf around her neck.

House fought to keep a straight face. "You know, they say that 'sarcasm is the refuge of a shallow soul'.

"Makes sense, seeing as you're the shallowest person I know," she snarked back, turning to finally look at him, in an effort to drive her words home.

"Nice," was all he said in return. This was why he enjoyed pissing her off so much. Allison Cameron was feisty when she was angry. "But that still doesn't mean you can go home at two o'clock in the afternoon."

"We don't have a patient."

"So. You have clin-"

"I did my clinic hours this morning."


Cameron slammed her laptop shut and met his scowl with her own, equally powerful glare.

"I'm. Going. Home."

Taking her laptop and purse in hand, she turned and headed for the door.

"You're not going anywhere, Dr. Cameron."

His voice had a dangerous quality to it, one that Cameron hadn't heard before. For reasons she couldn't quite understand, it sent a shiver of excitement through her body. She stopped and turned around, meeting his eyes once again. She regarded him for a moment, watched as that smug smirk appeared, the one that always showed up when he felt like he'd won. He really needed to learn, that just because he was her boss, didn't mean that she was going to cower, and jump to do his bidding, every time he 'put his cane down'.

Letting a small, ambiguous smile grace her lips, she slowly, almost seductively, walked toward him. She didn't stop until she had invaded his personal space, and he was forced to incline his head down to look at her.

"If you don't like it," she said, letting the smile slip away, "Fire me!" This last was said with enough force that House's face was covered in a fine mist of her spittle.

Turning on her heel, Cameron marched out of the room without looking back.

House stood there for a moment, stunned, before wiping the moisture from his face with his hand. Okay, maybe he'd pushed her a little too far. He still wasn't going to regret it.


"What did you do this time?" Dr. Wilson poked his head into House's office, favoring his friend with his patented look of disapproval, before sauntering in and making himself comfortable in the easy chair in front of House's desk.

House caught his oversized tennis ball in mid-bounce and glared at the younger doctor.

"What is it with you? Why do you always show up immediately after I do something stupid?"

"Didn't I tell you? I had an alarm installed in my office. It goes off every time you make an ass out of yourself. I've had to change the batteries twice already."

House rolled his eyes. "Ha ha, very funny."

Reaching into his pocket, he took out his pill bottle and popped the lid off with practised ease. Palming two of the tablets, he popped them into his mouth and crunched noisily.

"You know, that's really not good for you," Wilson stated, clearly referring to the pill- chewing.

"Neither are all your affairs, but that doesn't seem to stop you."

Wilson just rolled his eyes at this. He refused to let himself be drawn into another argument about his inability to commit to only one woman. It might be true, but it wasn't why he was here.

"So, are you going to tell me what you did willingly, or am I going to have to nag you, like I usually do, until you cave? It would save a lot of time if you would just spill now. I have a patient in an hour."

"Is the patient dying?"

Wilson sighed deeply, his hand unconsciously rubbing at the back of his neck.


"Well, then, I don't want to deny you your chance to earn $10." House sat back in his chair and carefully propped his bad leg on his desk. "It was Cameron's husband's birthday today."

"Uh huh, and somehow you found out and went about torturing her with the information."

"Something like that, yeah." He wasn't about to tell him that he'd eavesdropped on her conversation with her mother-in-law. Just because Wilson was his best friend, his only friend, didn't mean he had to tell him everything.

Wilson rubbed his hand over his face and sighed wearily. "That's low, even for you. You know that, right?"

House met Wilson's eyes briefly, then looked away. He shrugged, but didn't say anything.

"So…? What are you going to do?"

"What do you mean, 'What am I going to do'? I'm not going to do anything. She'll come back on her own. She always does."

"Oh, really? What about the time she quit?"

"She came back, didn't she? That was just her trying to get into my pants-"

"How disappointed she would've been if she'd succeeded."

Suddenly, the tennis ball that had previously occupied House's hand came whipping at Wilson's head with enough force to hurt, but Wilson was ready for it and caught it easily in his own hand.

House glared at the shit-eating grin Wilson wore, already plotting his revenge for that wisecrack.

"She would've come back on her own eventually," he finished.

"What about Yule?"

"What about him?"

"He called me for a reference and offered her a position. She accepted."

"Wait, wait, wait. He called you for a reference? I'm her boss. Why the hell would he call you?"

Wilson shrugged. "I guess she didn't trust you to do it."

At that moment Wilson's pager went off, and he unclipped it from his belt, giving it a quick glance.

"My patient. He's early," he said, standing up. "Look, here's my unsolicited advice for the day."

"Yeah, big surprise, there," House scoffed, rolling his eyes.

This time it was Wilson who threw the ball at House, but with much less force. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you looked at it, his aim was off and the ball floated harmlessly past the latter's head.

"Apologize. I don't know what you said exactly, but I know you owe her an apology."

Giving his friend a meaningful look Wilson left, to tell another patient that they were going to die. He really hoped they wouldn't thank him; he didn't need the ten bucks that badly.

House just sat there, thinking about what his friend had said. Coming to a decision, he grabbed his cane and hoisted himself to his feet.

"I don't apologize," he mumbled, as he limped out of his office.


Cameron didn't actually go home right away. Instead, she drove around aimlessly for about an hour, stopped for coffee, and then drove around some more. She'd started doing this kind of thing shortly after her husband had died, when it had become too difficult to sit alone in her empty apartment. She found she did her best thinking while she was driving.

She thought about House, the argument they'd had, the words they'd shot at each other. The more she thought about it, the more her anger began to slip away. The man was a bastard; she knew that, he knew that. He never tried to deny it and she never tried to change it. She couldn't be mad at him for just being him. Not for long, anyway.

Besides, his ability to push her buttons, and anger her so easily, was paradoxically one of the things that attracted her to him. Not since Paul, had another man been able to fire her passion and piss her off so royally.

She thought about Paul, and compared the love she'd felt for him, to the feelings she had for House. They were two very different things. The relationship she'd had with Paul, although they'd had some terrible fights at times, had been mostly calm, almost peaceful. They'd known from the beginning that there would be no possibility of a future together, so therefore there had been no disappointments, no letting each other down, and no broken promises. They had been able to just be themselves, completely open and honest with each other, because in the end, it wouldn't matter.

But the feelings she had for House were a different animal entirely. One minute it was hate, the next love, one minute it was laughing, the next crying, one minute it was soft-spoken words, the next cruel and spiteful sarcasm. With House, she never knew if she was coming or going. She never knew what to expect. And although she was pretty sure that any hopes for a future between them were as doomed as they'd been with Paul, if for different reasons, it didn't stop the disappointments or let downs.

She gave herself a mental shake, bringing herself back to the present. Driving might be conductive to good thinking, but this kind of thinking was not conductive to good driving. Somewhere along the way, it had gotten dark and started to snow quite heavily, so she turned her car for home. By the time she pulled into her driveway, everything was covered in a thin blanket of white. She'd been so busy concentrating on driving in the slippery conditions, that she didn't notice the snow covered motorcycle until she pulled into her parking space.

Groaning inwardly, she got out of her car and scanned the area for the bike's owner. She found him sitting on a bench in the courtyard of her apartment building, also covered in snow.

"House, what the hell are you doing?"

"Freezing my nads off," came the caustic reply.


"I'm not sure. The cold seems to have impaired my ability to think straight, not to mention my ability to produce offspring."

Cameron rolled her eyes, but couldn't quite contain a little smile. "Yeah right, you and offspring. The idea terrifies me."

"Me, too," he said, making a 'scared' face. He bounced his cane on the ground a couple times, causing sparkling clouds of snow to float off his coat sleeves.

"Well, are you going to invite me in, or are you going to make me sit out here to get frostbite on my manly bits?" He looked up at her, lips pursed, eyebrow cocked.

She hesitated for a second, looking around the dimly lit courtyard. She wasn't sure if she wanted to invite him in. She knew she'd forgiven him, but she was tired and didn't really feel up to dealing with him and his ever-present sarcasm tonight. On the other hand, she couldn't, in good conscience, leave him out here in the cold. He'd probably let himself get frostbite, just to spite her.

"Wait a minute, you rode your bike in this weather?" she asked, suddenly remembering his chosen method of transportation.

"Well, it wasn't snowing when I left the hospital."

"It's been snowing for over an hour."

"Hence the frozen testicles," he remarked dryly, pointing at the offended anatomy with one gloved finger.

Cameron chuckled and pulled her keys out of her pocket.

"Fine, come on. I'll make you a cup of coffee, but I'm not warming your testicles for you. You're on your own there."

"Oh, come on, Dr. Cameron," he replied with a leer, "Where's your sense of adventure?" He let out a small grunt as he pulled himself to his feet, his tongue poking out between his lips with the effort.

She didn't say anything, just chuckled again as she let herself into her apartment. She held the door open for him, smiling at his futile attempt to brush the snow off of himself before coming in. It was then that she noticed the slight grimace on his face, and that he was limping more heavily than usual. She immediately jumped into 'concerned' mode.

"That was pretty stupid, sitting out in the cold, with your leg, like that," she commented, reaching up to pull his leather jacket off of his shoulders, after he had unzipped it.

"Well, I can't exactly sit without my leg, now can I?" he snarked back.

"House, quit being an ass. Now, lean on me and take your shoes off."

When he didn't move, just looked at her as if she'd grown a third eye, Cameron gave an exasperated sigh.

"Look, there's no way I'm letting you track snow across my floor. So you can either lean on me and take you shoes off or you can put your coat back on and leave. What's it gonna be?" She could just have gone into her kitchen and grabbed a chair for him to use but she kind of liked this arrangement better. Besides turning the tables, and making him feel uncomfortable for a change, would do him good.

So, she watched as he nervously tapped his cane on her floor, and his eyes flitted around the room, looking up at her for a split second, then looking away again.

"Oh, for God's sake, House." She took the situation into her own hands and grabbed his arm, draped it around her shoulder, and tucked her arm around his waist. "Shoes. Off. Now." She didn't let herself think about how nice it felt to have his arm around her, even in this most innocent of contacts. House didn't argue, just toed his shoes off as quickly as possible.

"Now, your jeans are all wet. You have to get out of them before you catch pneumonia." She let go of him slowly, so he wouldn't loose his balance. Certainly not because she didn't want to lose the contact.

"Are you suggesting I let you strip me naked, now?"

Cameron blushed, but made a show of contemplating his suggestion before letting him off the hook with a smile. "Last time my brother was here, he left a few things behind. I'll see if I can find something for you to wear."

She disappeared down the hall, into her bedroom, then came back a few minutes later with a pair of faded track pants.

"He's a little shorter that you, but these'll be better than your wet jeans," she said holding them out to him.

House took the offered garment with a nod.

"The bathroom is right here," she pointing at a closed door just down the hall. "Just hang your jeans on the shower rod to dry."

"What, next to your brassieres and panty hose?"

Cameron just chuckled and watched him limp into her bathroom.

When he came back out of the bathroom, she was still standing in the hall, waiting for him. She had to turn away and stifle her giggle behind a cough when she saw the two-inches of exposed leg between the top of his socks and the bottom of the track-pants. Her brother was only 5'6".

"Are we expecting a flood?" he asked, shifting awkwardly from foot to cane, and looking down at his bony ankles.

"Nah, I just have an ankle fetish," she teased, wagging her eyebrows in an awful attempt at a leer.

"Ah, well, since we're sharing our sexual predilections, I have a breast fetish. Do you have any too-small tank tops you could run and put on?"

"Yeah, I have them hanging next to my spandex and low-riders."

She laughed openly this time, pleased that she was the cause of the quick grin that spread across his face before he had the chance to hide it.

"Come on," she said, still laughing, as she turned and lead him into her living room. She gestured at her couch and told him to sit, grabbing a pillow and placing it on her coffee table, so he would have somewhere comfortable to prop his leg.

"Did you take your Vicodin?" she asked, watching him struggle to get comfortable.

"Yeah, I took two while I was snooping through your medicine cabinet," he quipped.

Cameron knew that her hovering would make him uncomfortable, but she didn't really care. This was her home, he was her, technically uninvited, guest, so she would hover if she wanted too. She wasn't at all surprised when he chose to cover his discomfort with his trademark smirk and sarcasm.

"Jeez, Wilson usually wins the Mother Hen of the Year Award, but I think this year you're giving him a run for his money."

Suddenly, her good humour was gone, and there was a hint of sadness in her voice.

"Taking care of people is what I do, House. It's part of who I am. You can't change me anymore than I can change you."

As she spoke, she slowly, deliberately, reached out and brushed some of the moisture from his hair. She knew he wouldn't be expecting her to touch him. She knew he wouldn't like it. Hell, she wouldn't be surprised if he jumped up and ran out of her apartment as quickly as possible. Well, hobbled as quickly as possible, anyway. But she just didn't care. They weren't at work. He had come to her apartment. She was just so tired of pretending, of lying. He'd probably make her pay for it the next day at work but she'd deal with it then.

House did, indeed, jump at the physical contact, just as she'd known he would. But what she hadn't anticipated, was the intensity of his gaze, as his eyes shot up to hers.

Blue eyes held green eyes, for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, with a great effort, she tore her eyes away, and turned towards her kitchen.

"I'll go get us that coffee now."


House nearly jumped out of his skin, when she brushed her fingers through his hair. She had never touched him like that before. Well, technically she had never really touched him at all. Maybe a brush of fingers when she'd past him that awful herbal tea crap or a touch of shoulders when the elevator was too crowded, but never anything … deliberate. Even when she'd helped him take off his shoes, the contact hadn't held any deeper meaning. At least, that's what he kept telling himself.

But this touch had been different. He'd felt it, and he knew she'd felt it too. The atmosphere had become charged, intense. He'd felt like a deer caught in headlights, frozen and completely confused as to what to do. Did he jump left? Did he jump right? Or did he just stand there and get creamed by the oncoming truck? He didn't like that feeling. He hated not being in control.

He hadn't been able to form and response to her comment about change. Normally, he would have been able to come up with something witty, and effectively belittling. But it seemed that, the over-developed sarcasm centre of his brain had shut down momentarily.

He'd been relieved when she'd left to go make the coffee. Apparently, he needed a couple moments to collect himself, before he made even more of an ass out of himself than he already had.

What was it about Cameron that made him feel so…awkward? He was beginning to discover that he only had two ways of dealing with her. Neither of which made him feel very good. He would either be all nervous and uncomfortable, like he was now, like that time when he'd asked her to go with him to the Monster Truck Rally. Leaving himself vulnerable, his guard dropping just enough for her to reach in with those damned, empathetic eyes of hers, and steal another piece of him. A piece he could hardly afford to lose.

He wondered briefly what she did with those little bits of him that she stole. Did she keep them safe, hidden behind lock and key, maybe in a favored childhood music box, with the little ballerina that twirled endlessly to a tinny and off key "FürElise"? Or did she leave them carelessly lying around, to be trodden on and crushed into dust? He feared it was the latter, but rather believed it was the former.

The only other way he knew how to deal with Allison Cameron was by, in the words of that neurotic Emeril Lagasse, 'kicking it up a notch'. He would fortify his defences against her by upping the snark, and lacing everything he said to her with even more cutting sarcasm than he usually used against everyone else. Whereas how he treated Foreman and Chase could be considered funny, if you were psychotic enough, that is, the way he treated Cameron was just plain mean. Anyone who didn't know him probably wouldn't be able to see the difference between how he treated her, and how he treated everyone else in his limited circle of 'people'. But he could, Wilson could, Foreman and Chase could, and most importantly, she could.

And yet, here he was, in her apartment, sitting on her couch, completely forgiven for being a dumbass, while she was in the kitchen making him coffee. Of course he hadn't really given her much choice. He'd ridden his motorcycle here and now it was snowing like a bugger outside, so he couldn't exactly ride home. And how pathetic must he have looked, sitting on that bench covered in snow? Cameron couldn't have turned him away any more than she could have turned away a stray puppy… with three legs…and no tail.

The thing with Allison Cameron was, she always forgave him. It was one of her weaknesses. Apparently, his weakness was Allison Cameron, among others.


Cameron poured the steaming coffee into two oversized Looney Tunes mugs. Taz for him, Tweedy for her. She then added a generous dollop of Larressingle VSOP Armagnac brandy, that she kept for when she had company. She refused to let herself think about the last time she'd had company. Let's just say she'd spent too many nights pretending it had never happened, to dwell on it now.

She took the two mugs in hand and made her way back out to the living room. House was obviously lost in thought, as he didn't seem to hear her enter the room. She took the opportunity to look at him in this unguarded state. His head was slightly bowed, and he had an unreadable expression on his face. His hair was still damp and sticking up in every direction from where he'd obviously run his hands through it. His long legs, clad in a pair of much too short track pants, were propped up on her table. He'd never looked more beautiful to her.

"So, Paul's birthday, huh?"

Apparently, he wasn't as lost in thought as she'd believed.

Cameron sighed and shook her head. She decided she might as well just answer him. She knew him well enough to know he wouldn't let it go until she did.

"Yeah, he would have been 36 today. I call his mother every year on this day. She bakes a cake that she will never eat, we sing. That's it. Does that satisfy your curiosity?"

"Curious? Who's curious? I was just trying to make conversation."

"Uh huh, well, change the subject," she said, walking over to him and handing him his coffee.

He accepted the coffee with a grunt of thanks, watching her out of the corner of his eye while she sat beside him, not touching him, but close.


"It suits you," Cameron answered with a shrug.

Another grunt.

His third grunt was one of appreciation, at the added liquor in the coffee.

After that, there was no more grunting or other communication of any kind, for a while. Just tiny slurps as they both sipped their coffee. Eventually, the silence became too much for House to bear, and he reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone.

"I think I'll just call a cab. I'll send a truck over in the morning to pick up my bike."

"Wait." She put her hand on his arm to stop him from dialling, and took his now-empty cup from him, placing it, along with hers, back on the table. She shifted on the couch, tucking one leg up underneath her so that she was facing him.

"I don't want you to leave," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.


"I don't know. I…I just…" Sighing in frustration, she closed her eyes, trying to collect her thoughts. When she opened them again, she met his eyes with an intensity that equalled his own.

"Don't you ever get tired of all this? The lies, the denial, the bullshit? Don't you ever just get tired of being alone?"

This time, House was the first to break eye contact. He didn't know how to answer her. He knew what she wanted to hear, but he was afraid to give her what she wanted. Afraid that if he did, that piece, that he voluntarily gave her, would be all she needed to complete her puzzle and there just wouldn't be anything left for him. He wasn't ready to give himself away like that again.

When he looked back up at her all the snark, all the sarcasm, all the bullshit was gone. "It's all I know anymore," he said, simply.

Cameron brought her other leg up underneath her, so that she was kneeling in front of him, and reached out to cup his face in her hands. She understood what he was feeling. She had been alone for a long time as well. She knew how easy it was, how safe it felt, to just let yourself hide within that loneliness. To wrap it around yourself, like a cocoon, in hopes that it will protect you from getting hurt. But what House didn't know, and what she, herself, was just starting to figure out, was that this wasn't living, it was existing. She had an opportunity here, they both did, to find a little reprieve from that loneliness. Knowing that this would probably the last time she ever had him alone in her apartment like this, she decided to take the risk. She was confident that he would let her know if she was making a monumental mistake.

She gently stroked his lower lip with her thumb, before slowly, ever so slowly, lowering her mouth to his.

House watched her as she slowly came towards him, his eyes locked with hers. A part of him, a very large part, was screaming at him to push her away, to get up and leave, to walk home if necessary, but he didn't do any of those things. Instead he held his breath as she got closer, and told himself that this was just an experiment. How far would she take this? He was always interested in discovering people's limits and that's all this was. When would Cameron swerve in this little game of 'chicken' she was playing?

Of course, that was a load of crap. What it really came down to, in the end, was that Cameron was right. He'd never admit it, but he really was tired of being alone.


The first touch of their lips was just that, a touch. When he didn't pull away or try to stop her, she put more pressure behind the touch. She let her tongue slip out and lightly sweep along his lips. He gasped, but still didn't pull away, so she pushed her tongue fully into his mouth and began a slow, leisurely exploration. He tasted like coffee and brandy, and something that was uniquely him.

She could tell he didn't know what to do with his hand, so she grabbed his arms and coaxed them around her waist. This seemed to pull him out of his stupor, because he suddenly began to respond. His tongue began duelling with hers. His arms tightened around her waist, and he started stroking his hands gently up and down her back.

House could feel his mind quickly shutting down. It had been a long time since a woman had kissed him like this; he'd forgotten how good it felt. He knew he was losing himself to the sensations, and he was surprised to realize, he liked it. He wrapped his arms around her more tightly and raised the white flag.

Someone groaned, someone gasped. The kiss grew in intensity. Lips began bruising and teeth began nibbling. Cameron had one arm around his neck, while the other braced her against his chest. House, in his desire to get a better taste of her, tangled his hands in her hair and tried to pull her closer, but this caused her to lose her balance and fall across his bad leg.


"Oh shit, House." She scrambled off his lap as quickly as she could, putting as little pressure on his right thigh as possible. "Oh God, oh God, House, are you okay?"

"NO, I'm not fucking okay!" he yelled. His eyes were closed and his teeth clenched, as he tried to breath through the pain.

After a few moments, he opened his eyes again and looked at her. Her expression was so stricken that he immediately felt guilty.

"I'm…" he sighed and closed his eyes again. "Pain makes me say stupid things. I'll be okay in a moment. I guess I got a little carried away."

"Come to bed with me."

His eyes snapped back open and he looked at her, dumbfounded.

"That's rather forward, don't you think?"

"There is less chance of me hurting you in bed," she said by way of explanation.

House wasn't sure how true that statement really was. In fact, the chances of him getting hurt would grow exponentially if he agreed to go to bed with her. In that moment, he felt so very old. He was nothing but an ugly, old, cripple with the emotional sustenance of a recluse. What the hell did he have to offer her? But when he looked at her, he saw her desire for him clearly written on her face. Dark, lust filled eyes, flushed skin, it was all because of him. She wanted him, scars and all. If he were a gambling man, which he was, he'd have to say that the odds were stacked in his favour.

He didn't say anything, just simply gave her a single nod and let her help him to his feet. Her supporting him on the left, with an arm around his waist, while he used his cane on the right, they slowly made their way to her bedroom.

When they reached her bedroom, Cameron let go, and walked in ahead of him, leaving him to decide to cross the threshold on his own. She didn't turn on any lights; just let the light from the hallway serve as illumination. When she reached her bed, she stopped, with her back to him, and waited.

House stood in the doorway of her bedroom, leaning heavily on his cane. He looked around the dimly lit room, at the surprisingly non-girly décor, before fixing his eyes on the bed. It was a big bed, which was good, and there were no frilly pillows, or stuffed animals to be seen, which was also good. But he still couldn't get himself to walk into the room. Not without being absolutely sure. Taking a deep breath, he shifted his gaze to Cameron's too-stiff back.

"Are you sure this is what you want?" he asked.

She didn't answer him right away, just reached down and pulled the covers back on the bed. Then she turned, and gave him one of those big smiles that she used to give him, before everything went to hell during that stupid date. He'd missed those smiles.

"I'm sure, this is what I want." She said it in such a way that insisted it had to be what he wanted as well.

Answering her unspoken question with another single nod, he slowly limped into the room. He stopped when he was standing in front of her, feeling like a complete idiot because he hadn't the slightest clue what to do next. Thankfully, Cameron did, because she had her hands on his waist, and was urging him to take a seat on her bed.

"How's the leg?" she asked.

House shrugged, he really didn't want to think about his bloody leg, but he knew she was worried about hurting him further.

"It hurts, but the Vicodin I took when I got here, is taking the edge off."

"I'll be careful then," she replied, manoeuvring herself between his spread legs, and leaning more to his left. She ran her hands up his arms, to the base on his neck, and threaded her fingers threw his soft hair. She leaned down to kiss him at exactly the same moment that he decided to reach up to kiss her. What resulted was teeth clashing together with an alarmingly loud 'clink'.



Cameron took a quick step back, putting a hand to her mouth and watched as House did the same with his hand.

"I think you chipped my tooth," he muttered, although it came out kind of muffled, because he had his fingers in his mouth, checking to see if his teeth were still there, and in one piece.

"I guess it's a good thing the hospital has such a good dental plan," she answered, running her tongue across her own teeth. They both chuckled and Cameron resumed her position between his knees. "Okay, I'm going to kiss you now so don't move.

House smirked but did what he was told.

The kiss was slow at first, both feeling a little awkward, but neither willing to give up. Eventually, things heated up; passion built, tongues clashed, hands roamed. When Cameron's need for oxygen became too great, she pulled away and took a step back. Smiling at his questioning look, she began to undress. Slowly, teasingly, peeling one article of clothing off at a time, until she stood before him in nothing but plain pink panties and matching bra. She wasn't quite sure want possessed her into this impromptu striptease, but his glazed, lust-filled eyes, and the large bulge straining against the front of his jeans, told her that it had achieved the desired effect. Knowing that she was able to arouse him like this, filled her with a sense of power that was quite intoxicating.

She moved back in front of him and began, just as slowly, to remove his clothes. House wasn't quite sure what he was supposed to be doing. Was he supposed to help? Was he supposed to be touching the body that she had so enticingly exposed for him? He was actually a little afraid to touch her. Watching her strip had made him feel like a horny teenager. He was afraid he'd explode in his jeans if he so much as touched her.

No one had ever done this for him before. No one had ever taken the time to seduce him. Certainly Stacy hadn't. With her, it had always been about him seducing her, her needs, her pleasure. The role of the passive was new to him so he just sat there for the time being and let Cameron undress him.

She started by first unbuttoning, and pushing his button-down off his shoulders, then untucking his faded Stones t-shirt from his jeans and pulling it over his head. When she had him naked from the waist up, she began to explore his body with her hands. She ran them over his chest, through the sparse, salt and pepper hair, up to his strong, sinewy shoulders. She then trailed them down his upper arms, enjoying the definition she felt there. Leaning over slightly, giving him a nice view of her cleavage, she stroked her way down his forearms and grabbed his hands, lifting them and placing them on her breasts.

She watched as he swallowed thickly, an uncertainty filling his eyes. She discovered something about Gregory House in that moment; outside of the hospital, his cocky attitude was really just a ruse to cover up a vulnerable and lonely man. Her heart filled with sadness for him. She didn't pity him, as he believed, because she knew he had mostly done this to himself. And she wasn't naïve enough to think that her sleeping with him would make everything better. All she wanted to do was give him this. This moment. To make him feel desirable and wanted, even if it was only for this one night.

She flinched slightly, when he started massaging her breasts a little too roughly. He immediately tried to pull away but she stopped him by placing her hands over his and showed him how she liked to be touched. Satisfied that he wasn't going to hurt her, she left his hands on her breasts, and took his face in her hands. Tilting his head up so that he was looking at her, she leaned down and kissed him hard on the mouth, before trailing her lips along his jaw in little nipping kisses. His stubble burned her skin, and she idly thought about the extra makeup she'd have to wear in the morning to cover up the marks.

Reaching his ear, she caressed it with her tongue for a moment, before taking the lobe in her mouth and suckling. She grinned when his whole body jerked, and he let out a strangled moan.

"I want you, House," she whispered seductively in his ear, reaching down to stoke his straining erection.

She removed one of his hands from her chest and placed it on the sodden crotch of her panties.

"This is how much I want you."

Suddenly, House was done playing the passive. His cock was throbbing, his heart was pounding, and his breathing was ragged. Feeling the moisture, and the heat coming from her centre, something primitive awoke in him. He grabbed a hold of the side of Cameron's panties and yanked – hard enough to pull her off balance, again, and have her falling over his left (thank God) thigh, just not hard enough to rip them, as had been his plan.

"Well, that's a lot more difficult than they make it look in the movies."

From her place across House's leg, with her face mashed into her mattress, and her ass sticking in the air, Cameron burst into a fit of giggles. House chuckled along with her for a moment, actually glad for the break in tension. That was until he noticed the still cotton clad ass in his lap and the hip pressing against his cock. He started caressing said ass, timidly at first, but then with more confidence as her giggles tapered off, into a soft mewling sound.

"What are we doing Cameron?" House asked softy, pushing his hand under her panties, all the way down, to gently tease her slick folds. When she didn't answer him right away, he stroked his finger the entire length of her pussy, starting at her entrance and ending with a little flick at her clit. He repeated this caress over and over again. "You don't really think that this will change anything do you?" he asked.

"No. I don't think this will change anything." She was having a hard time forming coherent thoughts, let alone speech, due to the pleasure he was giving her, but she had to make sure he understood. "I just want to ease our loneliness. Just for tonight. No strings attached. I promise. OH, FUCK!"

On the word 'promise', he inserted two fingers into her dripping pussy and she was helpless to control the orgasm that over took her.

He continued to stoke her while she writhed and jerked in his lap, inevitably jarring his leg a couple times, but his pain pills were working well enough that he was able to just grit his teeth, and bear it.

When she finally relaxed, she slid from his lap into a heap on the floor. Her body was covered in a thin sheen of perspiration, her eyes were closed, and there was a contented smile playing across her lips.

He watched her, while she slowly came back to herself, and her eyes fluttered open.

"That good huh?" he asked with a smirk.

Cameron chuckled, and climbed to her feet with a grunt. She gave him a lazy smile and motioned for him to stand up, which he did. He once again thanked the Vicodin Gods, because the throbbing pain in his leg had been reduced to a dull ache, which he knew from experience he could tolerate.

His thoughts were abruptly torn away from his legs, by her hands tugging on his belt. She quickly had his jeans open and was about to get on her knees to pull them down, when he stopped her with a hand on her shoulder.

"I'd rather you didn't," was all he said.

He didn't have to say anything else, she knew he worried about her seeing his leg. So instead of dropping to her knees, she wrapped her arms around his waist, and pressed herself against him.

"Don't worry, it's not the leg I'm interested in," she whispered seductively, giving the bulge in his jeans a firm squeeze, so that there was no mistaking what she was talking about.

When he groaned his approval she began exploring his chest some more, this time with her mouth and tongue, making sure to pay special attention to his nipples. He had very sensitive nipples and every time she bit one it sent a jolt straight to his groin, causing him to thrust uncontrollably against her. He was relieved when she reached under his jeans, into the waistband of his boxers, and started to push them down. When they reached about mid thigh, gravity took over and they fell in a heap at his feet.

He held onto her for balance, as he clumsily stepped out of his jeans and scooted onto the bed, using his left leg to push himself back. He watched her, with open admiration, as she removed her bra and panties and climbed up after him. They took a few awkward moments, trying to figure out how to arrange themselves, so they could both touch each other, without any fear of his leg getting hit. Finally, they settled with her straddling him, resting her weight on his stomach, with his cock twitching against her ass.

He placed his hands on her thighs, and tried to stroke the soft skin he found there, but his palms were so sweaty, that they kind of skipped along rather that caressed. He gave her a sheepish look, before wiping his hands on the bed, and trying again. This time he started at her hips sliding his hands up, slowly following the contours of her waist. She started to giggle when his thumbs brushed lightly along her navel, so he moved his hands down and did it again.

Finally his hands reached her breasts. He began by caressing the sensitive undersides, before cupping them fully in his hands, testing their weight. When he was satisfied that he'd given them a thorough inspection, he moved on to her nipples, teasing them into hard little nubs.

Cameron was beginning to get frustrated. She appreciated the attention he was giving her body, in fact she was quite enjoying it, but she was getting eager to move things forward. She couldn't help wondering if maybe he was stalling. She knew he was aroused, as was evident by the erection pressing against her ass. Maybe he just needed a little more encouragement.

"Are you quite finished with your…examination, Dr. House?" She slid back a little and ground her pelvis down against his to make sure he got the point.

"Getting impatient, Dr. Cameron?" he returned, mimicking her use of his title. "You know how thorough I like to be. Besides, what is it that they say? 'Patience is a virtue?'" he said, wagging his eyebrows at her and still teasing her nipples.

"They also say 'Carpe Diem' - 'seize the day'. But I have something else I'd rather seize."

As she spoke, she reached behind her and grabbed hold of his cock, giving it a couple long, slow strokes.

"Shit," House threw his head back and Cameron could see the tendons in his neck standing out.

Lifting herself slightly, she positioned herself over his cock and slowly slid down onto him. It had also been a long time for her, so her body needed a few moments to adjust to having him inside her. She bent forward and took his mouth in a searing kiss. After a moment he pushed her away, and she could feel him trembling underneath her.

"Shit, Cameron. I can't… I'm going to…" unexpectedly, House's mind flashed back to what Wilson has said earlier, about Cameron being disappointed when she finally did get into his pants, and he feared he was about to prove him right.

Cameron knew he was going to come, so she started moving over him in long, slow strokes, trying to draw it out as long as she could for him. But after only three strokes, his body went completely rigid and she could feel him spilling into her as he roared her name. She clenched her walls around him, trying to draw every ounce of pleasure from him that she could, and didn't stop until she felt him relax underneath her.

She leaned down and gave him a gentle kiss, before resting her head on his chest, listening to his racing heartbeat. She knew she wouldn't be able to stay like this for long, because of his leg. When his breathing slowed and his pulse returned to something resembling normal, she carefully lifted herself off and laid beside him. She watched his face in the dim light. His eyes were still closed but she knew he wasn't sleeping.

When he didn't move, or say anything after a few minutes, Cameron started to wonder if he was already regretting what had just happened. She had hoped that the regret wouldn't settle in until the next morning, but now she was beginning to feel scared.

"House?" she asked, reaching over to softly caress his rough, stubble-covered cheek.

His eyes opened, but he still wouldn't look at her, instead staring straight up at the ceiling.

"Cameron, I'm… I don't…"

"Shhh," Cameron rose up on one elbow and put a finger across his lips, effectively silencing him. "You don't need to say anything. You have nothing to feel bad about."

He was looking at her now, and she made sure the truth of what she was saying was there for him to see.

"That's just never happened before," he mumbled around the finger that was still pressed to his lips.

"What? You've never had an orgasm before?" she asked with a cheeky grin.

She giggled when he rolled his eyes and made a face at her.

"Of course I've had an orgasm before, just… never that fast. At least not since I was 16 and hiding in the closet with my dad's Playboy magazine."

Cameron giggled again, and reached down to give him a kiss.

"Trust me," she said between kisses, "you didn't leave me wanting. And if it makes you feel any better, I usually don't come so quickly, either," referring to the mind-blowing orgasm he'd given her earlier.

She gave him another quick kiss, then reached down to pull the covers over them. She rolled over with her back towards him. She was pretty sure he wasn't the cuddly type, and she didn't want to make him any more uncomfortable than he already was.

"Besides," she added, "you can make it up to me in the morning." She kept her voice light so he'd know she was teasing.

"Morning?" he questioned gruffly.

"Mmm hmmm."

"Well, if you expect me to service you in the morning, you'll need to know that I like my eggs over easy."

"Good night, House," she replied, smiling into her pillow.

They were both surprised when he reached over and placed a hand on her hip, giving it a squeeze.

"Good night, Cameron."

Cameron fell asleep, thinking about how nice it was not to be lonely for the first time in so long.

House fell asleep, thinking about the possibility of maybe attaching strings.

The End.