The title is from the quotation "there is no greater act of courage than being the one who kisses first," by Janeane Garofalo

Chapters will be patchy because my net access is patchy. But I hope you like it and stick with me.

Cat

III

Cameron lay awake, staring at the ceiling. She wondered if she should get up and do something. Part of her told her to stay in bed or she'd be exhausted for work tomorrow, but the other part of her was sick of lying there, listening to Chase breath.

In the end she decided to get up. If she was going to stay awake, she might as well find something to occupier her. In the kitchen, she poured herself some milk and sat at the kitchen table.

Her head was spinning. How could he have done that? Lied like that, to everyone?

More to the point, why did she have to care so much?

She sighed as she heard Chase begin to snore.

Why couldn't she fall for someone like Chase. He wasn't a bad guy. Well, if you discounted the lack of character, he wasn't such a bad guy. He was her age, handsome, easy going, good in bed. What was wrong with her that she felt nothing for him, yet was head over heals in love with her boss, someone as difficult and complicated as it was possible for a man to be!

Earlier she'd been disgusted with House and what he'd done. Not only had he lied, the very act cheapened what genuine cancer sufferers went through.

She'd been stunned at first, in shock. After she'd left his apartment and was sharing a drink with Chase and Foreman, she'd grown angry. Very angry. She felt like his actions had been a personal affront against her husband and all the suffering he'd bravely borne.

Chase and Foreman just listened to her rant, agreeing with her. Or at least nodding along so as not to upset her more.

A few drinks had helped calm her down and, as happened two or three times a week now, Chase had gone home with her.

But as Chase slept her thoughts were full of House again. She wasn't angry this time.

That kiss… It had been even more prefect than she'd ever imagined and had awoken more feelings within her. She would never admit it but she was desperate fore more.

And maybe there could have been more, he had kissed back after all. Only he had now given her yet another reminder why she should stay away from him.

Sleeping with Chase hadn't been a good idea, she decided. The lack of emotion between them only served to highlight the well of feelings she had for House.

Cameron sighed and returned to bed. She should try and get some sleep before work tomorrow.

III

House had finished his clinic duty for the morning and was sitting behind his desk, wondering what to do next. He wanted to get his game boy out but something was stopping him.

Correction, Wilson was stopping him. House couldn't put what he'd said out of his mind. He knew Wilson was right, he just wasn't ready to admit it, either to himself or anyone else. But the words kept coming back, buzzing around his head like an unwanted fly.

House sighed and reached for the folder Cameron had left on his desk weeks ago. Maybe if he did a little penance his conscience would leave him alone for a while.

III

Cameron was writing up the notes from her clinic duty that morning when her folder landed in front of her. She looked up at House, quizzically. She hadn't expected to ever see that folder again. And she wasn't particularly keen to have a chat with House. So far they'd only said good morning to each other.

"It's all signed," he told her.

Cameron's surprise grew. "You read it?"

"No. But I signed it. You can submit it to wherever you want now."

Her voice was tight. "Thank you."

"Wow, such gratitude."

Cameron snapped. "You want me to be grateful for you doing your job? Your job is to read it too, or did you forget that bit?"

"Oh, this is great." He told her, turning back to his own office.

Cameron stood up. "Well, what did you expect?"

"Hey, I'm not the one who went snooping in other peoples business."

"So what did you want us to do?"

"Respect my privacy."

"So you could lie your way into a drug trial."

"What I do with my life is my business."

Cameron shook her head, sadly. "That's right, you don't care about anyone, so why should they care about you." She sat down and continued her charting.

House looked at her for a moment, then left.

III

House couldn't believe he was actually waiting for a case, anticipating it, even.

Ever since his stunt a few days ago, people had been cool with him.

Wilson ended their conversations as soon as possible, pleading overwork. Cuddy had ignored him completely, even though he skipped his clinic duty yesterday. In the end he'd gone to see her.

"I can't help you, House." She told him sadly as he entered.

"Who said I wanted help?"

"No one. And you don't want it, you need it. But you need more than I can give you. I'm sorry House, but from here on out our relationship is strictly professional. I'm assigning you a lawyer, he'll keep an eye on you, dock your pay for time not worked or duty's missed. You can go to him next time you want to get around hospital policy."

"Where's the fun in haranguing a lawyer when I could be haranguing you?" House asked.

"This isn't fun for me any more, House. You crossed a line, personally, professionally, morally… I always knew you were dependant on the pills. I guess I just never realised you were an addict." She looked at him, searching for any sign he might be aware of the severity of what he'd done. She found nothing. "Get out of my office, House."

Foreman and Cameron were speaking as little as possible to him. They answered him professionally, but no more. Chase was petulant and grumpy.

He needed a case. If they had to work together, things would get back to normal in no time.

"You got any weird cases?" he asked Wilson, sitting opposite him.

"Nope." Wilson didn't look up from his paperwork.

"Anyone else got any? This is a hospital, someone must have one."

"From what I understand, you've already asked pretty much everyone."

"I'm bored."

"Wrong." He put his pen down and looked up. House was looking worse than usual. "You are never bored. You have 101 things to do to keep you occupied and not one of them includes work. You think if you have a case, people will forget what you did faster."

House shrugged. "So what's your advice, Oh Wise One?"

"If it were anyone else, I'd say apologise, since it's you… just try and reach out to someone. Make a connection, be unselfish for a change."

"I think I'd rather be lonely."

III

"Is this seat taken?"

Cameron looked up to see Dr Wilson waiting with his lunch tray to sit at her table. She gestured for him to sit down. "Go ahead."

"So, how's things?" he asked.

Cameron put her knife and fork down. "We both know why you're here." She told him, not unkindly. When Wilson looked surprised she continued. "We aren't friends, we don't have nice chats over lunch. We don't share a specialty, so that means you must be here about the one thing we do have in common, House."

"He's really rubbing off on you."

Cameron couldn't help a small smile at that. "So what's up?"

"I'm worried about him."

"Look, Dr Wilson, what he did-"

"Please, hear me out." Cameron nodded so Wilson continued. "You remember that girl who was raped?" Cameron nodded. "I don't know what happened there, but I think that opened up some old wounds for him. He now has two choices. He can deal with whatever it is, try and move on, or he can bury it behind drugs and alcohol. Based on the last few weeks, I'm worried it'll be the latter."

"You think he might hurt himself?"

Wilson remembered finding the drugged out House on the floor, next to his own vomit. And that was before he'd met the rape victim. He could so easily have aspirated on it and killed himself. "Yeah. I think that's a real possibility."

"So what do you want me to do? I can't force help on him, he has to want that."

"I think he does, I just don't think he can ask for it."

Cameron was conflicted. "So why come to me?"

"There's a connection between you and House. He opens up to you. I know you worry about him and I think you still have feelings for him. I've tried helping him, I'm obviously not enough."

"What do you want me to do?"

"Just reach out to him. Invite him for a drink, or a meal, or ask for his help with something."

"And if he turns me down?"

Wilson sighed. "At least you tried."

III

"Want to come over later?"

Cameron continued pouring the coffee but didn't turn around. "Um, not tonight. I'm pretty tired." She'd been avoiding seeing Chase. It was nothing to do with him, but having him on hand only served as a reminder of what she didn't have, a real relationship. It wasn't fun for her any more. She wished she could just switch off her thoughts and enjoy it like she had at first.

"You've been tired for the last 4 nights." Chase said, impatiently.

"Chase, we're not dating."

"Then what are we doing?"

"Having sex. Friends with perks, fuck buddies, call it what you want, but we have no right to put demands on each other. You aren't my boyfriend."

"Fine, enjoy your early night."

"Chase, don't get huffy. It works both ways. If you want to go to a bar tonight and pick some random girl up, that's fine."

Chase looked surprised. "That wouldn't upset you?"

"No. We use protection, why should it?"

Chase processed this information for a few seconds. "Oh. Okay. Enjoy your evening then." This time he meant it.

Cameron couldn't help but smile. "You too."

III

Cameron was about to leave for the evening. She decided to see House before she left.

She stood in the doorway of his office, not really knowing where to start.

House didn't look up from his Game Boy. "I assume by your hesitant stature that you're here to tell me off again, in which case, go home. I'm not interested."

"Wrong."

House finally looked up at her. "Then why are you here?"

"There's this… thing, Saturday night. I wondered if you wanted to go with me."

"What kind of thing?"

"A charity ball, in support of the Make a Wish Foundation."

House got up and pulled his coat on. "And?"

"And I'm asking you to go with me."

House shook his head. "What's the catch? You wouldn't be so hesitant for just a charity ball."

They began walking towards the lifts. "It's a… costume party."

House smiled. "What on earth would make you think I'd be interested it that?"

"Just asking."

"Yeah. Just trying to get incriminating photo's of me to use as blackmail material."

"I am not!" they entered the lift. "Basement" she told him and he duly pressed the button for her.

They were silent for a while.

"What's the theme?" he asked.

"Heroes and villains."

House grunted.

"Is the blackmail thing the only reason you're saying no?"

"It's a consideration."

"Fine, if you go, at the end of the evening I'll tell you something embarrassing about me. That way if I tell on you, you can tell on me."

"Aah, but what if we get to the end if the evening and you refuse? You give me an embarrassing story now, then I have ammunition."

"And you can turn around and say you aren't going." Cameron was surprised to find she was enjoying this.

The lift doors opened at the underground car park. Cameron stood in the open doors and faced House, blocking his exit.

"Here's the deal. I'll pick you up at 7.30. If you're dressed and ready to go, I'll tell you my embarrassing incident. If I don't tell you, you can turn around and not go. Deal?"

"Where am I supposed to get a costume by tomorrow night?"

"Phone book. Do we have a deal?"

"What are you going as?"

"Not telling. Deal?"

"OK, fine. Deal."

Cameron smiled as she walked away.

"But I'm not kissing you goodnight!" he yelled after her.

"Thank god!" she called back.

House stared after her, surprised to find a smile spreading across his face.

III