Disclaimer: Not mine.
Beta: ColorOfAngels, who read this after pulling an all-nighter. That's how cool she is. Any errors are mine.
Thanks to Limaccia for some research and information on House's reaction to children, and to AThousandSmiles for being a great sounding board and good friend.
For: Kate J, on her birthday.
Cameron woke with a mild bout of nausea, a contradictory hunger, and a brief moment of disorientation. Where am I? Her eyes scanned the room until she spied the paisley curtains her mom had made.
Oh, yeah. Her family's summer place. Alone. Without House.
She heard the din of crickets, cicadas, and cantankerous crows overlapping the slap of waves hitting the shore as she slowly entered wakefulness. Usually it was the insistent beeping of her pager that hurtled her out of sleep.
As she yawned and stretched her arms above her head, the crisp cotton sheet brushed against the tips of her breasts causing a sensation that hovered between pleasure and pain.
So this is what it feels like, being pregnant.
If pleasure and pain were the components of her condition, then pregnancy was the perfect metaphor for her relationship with House. It seemed to her that the pain was in the past, and the pleasure was just beginning.
Her hand went to her abdomen.
Unbidden, an image of an alien fist bursting through her pregnant belly flashed through Cameron's mind, followed by memories of clone babies from The X-Files. And then there was Marilyn Manson. Charles Manson, too. The whole goddamn Manson family. She shuddered.
Christ. What's wrong with me?
It's just the hormones, Allison, she told herself.
If DNA molecules formed the blueprint for life, then what could she expect from her child? His child?
Despite his protests to the contrary, House wasn't God and she wasn't the Holy Virgin. Both of them were all too human. So, if it worked by osmosis, then the baby would be human by default. Wouldn't it?
As a first year med student, she'd briefly considered obstetrics. Worse than alien offspring by far were the medical textbook photographs of deformed fetuses. They haunted her too, and they were real, not science fiction. She took a couple of deep breaths, exhaling slowly.
The baby will be fine, she reassured herself. Think like a mother to be, not like a medical scientist. No, a mad scientist out of a Mel Brooks movie, she corrected herself with a smile.
Part of her was thankful that House wasn't on hand to witness her insanity. Would he even recognize this version of her, a person who entertained bizarre thoughts of other life forms emerging from her womb? A person who had flashbacks from watching Rosemary's Baby? A doctor who allowed the possibility of birth defects to and fetal anomalies to shake her? Another part of her craved him the way addicts craved crack cocaine.
Thinking about House chased her worries away, replacing them with a keen sense of his absence. If House were here, she could put her crazy thoughts into words, and House would swat her fears away with jokes or his own peculiar logic. He'd use his body to distract her.
It was warm and comforting and hard in all the right places. She liked to wake up with her limbs tangled in his, their feet touching.
Waking House with a kiss had become one of her greatest pleasures since they'd begun sleeping together.
Whenever Cameron spent the night at his place or when he crashed at her apartment, she made sure to wake up first because she loved to watch him sleep. With his eyes closed and his face relaxed, the pain that shadowed him faded. It was as if he'd never been damaged. Propped on an elbow, Cameron would lean over him, letting him sleep until she could stand it no longer and had to touch him. She kissed along his cheekbone, kissed the laugh grooves that framed his mouth and belied the misery people associated with him and, saving the best for last, she kissed his mouth until his lids flew up and his blue eyes regarded her. His eyes gave his feelings away before he became fully awake. They said, is this for real? And then House kissed her back.
His mouth on hers, their lips moving together, it was still so new to her that just the thought of it left Cameron breathless.
A crow squawked right outside the window of the bedroom. The clean smell of the lake came with the breeze from the screen door.
If House were sleeping next to her, she would roll over and kiss him awake.
And then she would tell him about the baby.
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy …
Like that would fly with House, Cameron thought with a laugh. House already had a God complex and he didn't need any encouragement. In fact, when she told him the news, he'd probably make a crack about The Father Almighty. She could just hear it. House had a skewed sense of humor.
Maybe she could turn telling him about the baby into a satirical sci-fi soap opera scene.
"House. There's something you should know." Dramatically, she'd turn from him and face the window, looking out over the vast gray waters of Lake Michigan. Speaking to the horizon line, she'd say, "I stole some of your DNA, added a little of mine … and … we're having a human."
House would gasp, grip her shoulders, and turn her to face him. "But … I was really hoping for … a Vulcan."
"Maybe," she'd pause for effect, "if it's a boy, we could call him Spock."
There was no way to script telling House about the baby, Cameron concluded with a sigh. She would have to improvise.
Snuggling deeper into the comfort of her old double bed, she curled up, watching the driftwood mobile circling gently above her. She'd made it the summer she turned 13; the same summer she had gotten her period for the first time. Her mom had given her a hot water bottle and some aspirin for the cramps along with a brief talk about the responsibilities that accompanied the pleasures of "sexual intercourse."
Could a less inviting term be found for the act of love? Cameron wondered. "Intercourse" sounded vaguely like some rigorous military exercise involving an obstacle course and a senior officer yelling insults into your ear. At least her mom had used the adjective, "pleasure." It had given Cameron some hope that sex wasn't as scary as it sounded. The look in her mother's eyes as they'd drifted over to Cameron's dark-haired, handsome father who was calmly reading in the corner armchair, had made her think. Maybe sex wasn't so much a fright as it was a thrill, like a riding a roller coaster. You screamed and screamed, holding on for dear life, laughing maniacally, and then you went back, stood in line, and did it all over again.
There were so many ways of doing it and so many terms to describe it.
Making love sounded poetic, as if love was a duet performed by two artists.
That term, oft considered crass, never failed to turn her on.
Coupling brought to mind two beautiful bodies entwined in dizzying poses like gymnasts.
All three worked when it came to her and House and what they did together.
It had only been, she counted, two days since she'd seen House and yet his name had a physical impact. A pang in her belly spread downward as his face crowded all other thoughts from Cameron's consciousness. She kept remembering the way he'd looked up at her from between her legs after making her come with his mouth, tongue, and deft hands. It was hard to tell if the mild morning nausea was from her young pregnancy or from desire.
Her hand returned to her abdomen, still flat and toned from her daily runs and weight training. Lower, her clit throbbed.
Time to get up, she thought.
Under the showerhead, the stream of water stung her sensitive breasts. She washed between her legs remembering House's hands soaping her body.
The week before, she'd returned to her apartment from a long run to find House leaning against his motorcycle, waiting for her. One look in his eyes and Cameron knew what he'd come for.
What he wanted.
With a gentle yet deliberate touch, he scrubbed the sweat from her skin and pulled her back against his nakedness so she could feel the effect her wet nudity had on him. Hip leaning against the handrail, House's slippery, soapy hands cupped her breasts and made careful circles until the suds frothed and her nipples stood on end. She pressed herself harder against him with a little moan as he moved on to her stomach, caressing her abdomen with the palms of his hands. House directed his attention to her clit as his erection bumped against her ass.
"Jesus, House," she cried out.
"It's either him or me," he replied, turning her to face him.
He gripped her rump and took her up against the handrail, thrusting once, twice, before pulling her out of the shower and down onto the floor of her bedroom. Naked, dripping and lathered up, Cameron lay beneath him on the blue carpet as he found her again, easing back inside her slowly at first, his eyes always on hers, questioning.
After she came, he dried her off with a big red towel. Hopping up on her bed, she crossed and uncrossed her legs staring at him as he stood, naked and wet, his erection still viable. Meeting his eyes, Cameron gave him a one word prompt.
As a lover, she considered, House was precise. He could be passionate and energetic at turns and then slow, imaginative, and intentional about the way he loved her.
Sometimes he'd yank her legs apart and bury himself inside her with one long thrust as she'd urge him on harder, faster, deeper. To fuck her. So the next day, at work, she could feel that he had been there, inside her. Marked her as his personal property.
Other times he'd tease her with his cock, toy with her clit, and made her beg until she practically frothed at the mouth. He knew how to flirt with her where it counted, when to proceed, and when to hold back.
One thing was constant.
House was never indifferent to her body.
Stepping out of the steamy room, Cameron massaged light sesame body oil into her skin patting herself dry with a towel and shimmying into a kelly green tee that accentuated her curves and the indeterminate color of her eyes. Pairing the shirt with ecru shorts that showed off her long, toned legs, Cameron slipped her feet into a pair of Candies, noting that her French pedicure was wearing off.
Foregoing coffee – no more caffeine for her – she dunked a bag of decaf Earl Gray in a mug of hot water and plopped on a plate a lemon poppy seed scone she'd picked up at the Stone House bakery in Leland the night before.
She carried the refreshments out to the deck, placing them next to her old transistor radio on a small round table under a beach umbrella. Cameron went back inside for her book, a behemoth that had taken up an entire seat in her rental car.
The volume contained images taken by the Swedish medical and scientific photographer, Lennart Nilsson, who had published the first picture of a living human embryo. Originally, it had been featured on the cover of a 1965 issue of Life magazine.
The first time Cameron saw it she was a gawky science nerd leafing through her parents' collection of old magazines. The cover had stunned her. In it a fetus floated, anchored to its mother by the umbilical chord – but no, it was more than a fetus, she'd thought. It was clearly a living human baby. Unborn, perhaps, but certainly alive. Just 14, Cameron could hardly fathom the beauty and sanctity that was this … life. Already she had dismissed the notion of a Creator of the Universe. You didn't have to believe in God to possess a reverence for life.
That photograph had begun her fascination with medicine. Using the most powerful electron microscope in the world, Nilsson had photographed human fertilization. Sperm and ovum, hormones and chromosomes were magnified until they were beautiful abstractions that rivaled surrealism as a period in art history, she thought.
Slipping her reading glasses from the top of her head to her nose, she sat to look at the images while the morning sun warmed her limbs. The layered cut of her hair was growing back out to one length, the way House liked it best. True, it made her look younger, but he seemed to prefer her the way he had first met her. A young woman, who remembered his birthday, who never forgot to say thank-you, and who persisted in caring. House had told her about the night she came to his home to resign, how he'd longed to touch the nape of her neck and feel all that heavy brown hair, to lift it up and let it fall again. But he'd been paralyzed.
Traffic zoomed by on M-22, the road that ran along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Shoreline, and she could discern the occasional cluster of bicyclists pedal past en route to Glen Arbor, but for the most part, it was quiet.
Cameron flipped through the pages of Nilsson's book. In the photos, estrogen became a crystal hit by a beam of sunlight creating a prism. A double-exposed dragonfly. Fireworks in every color spread out against a sky. Estrogen paled when compared to progesterone, which, in the picture looked like kite shaped kaleidoscopes. Chromosomes looked like fuzzy caterpillars. Sperm resembled the forefinger of an alien, elongated and top heavy, its blue tip filled with tiny gold nuggets. X and Y-chromosomes were a string of Christmas lights, bulbs green and glowing. Other photos brought sea coral and anemone to mind.
A motorcycle droned as it sped by on the county road, shattering the stillness. Another rider bent for Fishtown and a slab of fudge or some smoked chubs, she thought, closing the book and leaning back in her chair. A couple of Mergansers flew overhead, making for the water. A Monarch butterfly landed on her hand, and she admired its bold orange and black pattern. The roar of another motorcycle jarred the stillness. Its rider had the audacity to rev the engine and it slowed, pulling into the gravel driveway.
She stood, peering through the pines and poplars to the path that led up to the house. A Harley hog? She thought as the rider cut the engine. Not House's style. Not House's bike. Not House.
It was House.
The sound of his voice hit her in the gut. When she didn't immediately respond, he yelled out her name again.
If anyone in the cluster of cottages had been attempting a nap, they'd be awake now. House hollered her name at top decibel, like Stanley in "A Streetcar Named Desire," but without the desperation.
Her stomach fluttered. This was it. The moment of truth.
She walked down the path to meet him, trying to calm herself.
Had he ever looked so attractive and devilish? House leaned against the huge Harley wearing his Repsol jacket over a t-shirt, leather chaps over his jeans, and a pair of boots instead of the usual pair of sneakers. The ear buds from his iPod dangled around his neck. In one hand he held a helmet. In the other he gripped his cane. A bag of groceries and a duffle bag were strapped to the back of the bike.
"Nice Harley. Seems a little slow for you." She folded her arms across her chest and cocked her head at him.
"What it lacks in speed it makes up for in sex appeal."
He lowered his chin and raised his eyes to take in Cameron, slim and feminine in the shorts and tee that ended just above her navel. That little patch of naked skin was like a rash he had to itch. There was something about her belly that made him want to reach out and place his whole hand over it. Mine.
"Last time I checked, you can't rent motorcycles." Her eyes roved over his scruffy face and then dipped to his throat. I want to bite and kiss you.
"Nope. But you can buy one." He sniffed the pine-tinged air suspiciously, and scanned the sky for antennas or Direct TV satellites. All he saw were the tops of the firs and aspens, and in the distance, the glittering water of Lake Michigan.
"You … bought a Harley just to come find me?" She wore the same perplexed look she gave him whenever he suggested draining all the blood from a patient's body and replacing it with the blood of a pig.
"I didn't buy a thing. Wilson, on the other hand? Well, he's always been a big spender."
Cameron gave him a look, like, yeah, right.
"I swiped his credit card and replaced it with a condom," House continued, pushing himself off the bike and fiddling with the ties on his luggage, such as it was. "Wish I could be there when he whips it out to pay for a new tie. Are you going to help me with the groceries? I am a cripple."
Cameron took the brown bag from his arms and grasped the handle of his tote. Leaning on his cane, he followed her to the kitchen with its rows of windows and clean light, watching her ass as she walked and resisting the urge to palm it.
Cameron set the bag down on the table and started removing items. "What's all this?" She unpacked a bag of Idaho potatoes, a loaf of bread, a package of chocolate chip cookies, a box of pasta, a couple of New York Strips, marshmallows, and a gallon of chocolate ice cream that dripped in the afternoon sun.
"Cuddy thinks you're too skinny. I brought you carbs. Atkins is a moron."
"Atkins is dead, and most women prefer the word 'slender.'"
"No TV?" House ignored her correction. "I didn't see any antennas."
"That a problem?" Cameron hoped he'd packed plenty of Vicodin, because along with the pain throbbing in his leg, he'd have to deal with withdrawal from the boob tube. It couldn't be a pretty sight.
"Depends on whether you prove to be enough of a distraction for me." A breeze blew up from the lake and House watched as her nipples stiffened, poking from the thin fabric of the tee. Once more he looked at her belly. He wanted to place his lips on her skin and blow into her naval.
"I guess we'll see. How did you find me?" Her hand went to her chin, and her mouth curved upwards.
"You lied to me," he blew off her question as she repacked the groceries and led him down to the kitchen. He leaned against the sink and stretched out his right leg, popping Vicodin and massaging it as pain from his long motorcycle ride caught up with the offending limb.
Cameron stared back at him. "I omitted information. I didn't lie." She exhaled as she admired his biking attire. House in leather chaps. Umm.
"Nope. You lied." House looked at her arms folded across her chest, then down the length of her legs. "You said you'd work the sex clinic. You … left me. Alone."
"Uh-huh. All by yourself … with Cuddy, Wilson, pretty nurse Janice and a bunch of horny teenagers to whom you showed no mercy. Am I close?"
"Janice? Hot brunette with fun bags that rival Cuddy's and eyes like a doe? That is so Wilson's next wife," House said, cracking a smile as Cameron laughed.
Soberly, he added, "Me, boss. You, minion. You left without telling me. Why?"
"I … needed to be alone. To think." God that sounded like a soap opera answer she thought, chagrined.
"I think I am."
Narrowing his eyes, he scrutinized her from crown to sole. "You look good."
She touched her hair, smiling. "Thanks."
He limped closer, moving her hair to the side and sniffing her neck. "You smell good." House set his helmet on the kitchen table and took her arm, turning it and kissing the inside of her wrist and along her forearm. All the while he held her gaze. "You taste good."
Cameron's lips parted and she touched his hand, looking up at his face. It was scruffier than usual and he looked tired. Had he flown into Traverse City, bought the Harley, and rode all the way here? Had he slept?
She grabbed the lapel of his jacket, pulling him close and swiping his mouth with hers, the briefest of kisses, and then she let him go. Whew.
"Hey. How did you find me?" Cameron repeated her inquiry while noting the beginnings of an erection form in the front of his jeans.
House watched idly while she put away the groceries. He needed to buy her a pair of short shorts.
"The Mapquest directions you left on the pillow were ever so subtle. Now, the Petoskey stone you placed in my vial of Vicodin, that was a nice touch," House said, referring to clues Cameron had left him. The stone was known throughout Michigan. "But what it really boils down to is that your mother can't keep a secret."
"My mother doesn't know where I am." Cameron swung around to face him.
"No. But your dad does," House volleyed, raising his brows incrementally.
"My dad can keep a secret."
"I believe you. But when I told him that you'd been diagnosed with AIDS and might need a doctor, he caved."
"You told my dad I have AIDS?"
"A full-blown case. But once he spilled the beans and told me how to find you, I changed my story. Don't think I made a great first impression on your old man."
House left out the skeptical tone Cameron's father had adopted when he'd told the man that his daughter was immune compromised. "That's quite a whopper," her dad had opined, drawling out the words like a cowboy in a Western. "Allison tells me that you operate under the assumption that everybody lies, so forgive me if I'm not sold. But, you must want to see her pretty bad if you'd be willing to hurt her family just to do so. Then again, the last few times I've spoken to Allison, she's sounded happy. Just a shot in the dark, but my guess, Dr. House, is that you have something to do with that."
Cameron scoffed, bringing House back to the present. "You think?"
"What did you expect me to do? You'd rather I told him the truth?" House raised his voice out of habit.
"You're doing the nasty with your boss? Just had to get away to … meditate on what a great fuck he is? You tell me," he ordered.
You tell me.
She planned on telling him, at the right moment. Post coital was sounding better and better, and not just because she thought House would be receptive after sex. As much as she'd tried to do so the last few years, Cameron could not remain unmoved by the sheer reality of House, especially when he was standing near her. At work while in close proximity, she had to jam her hands into the pockets of her lab coat to stop herself from touching him.
Then again, it seemed entirely possible that their sex would be better than ever once both of them knew what was at stake. House inside of her, the two of them conjoined, it was such a potent metaphor for the life that grew within her, that Cameron had to close her eyes.
She opened them again. And spoke without thinking.
"The thing is, you're going to be your father … I mean you're going to be a father, not your father." Cameron groaned inwardly. Improvisation was not her forte, it seemed. Thankfully, in an unprecedented turn of events, House hadn't properly processed the information.
He looked at her sideways, squinting. "Steve McQueen knocked up Ali McGraw?"
"You have another rat?" Cameron could not believe House's ability to sidetrack her. Around him, she had to fight to keep her focus. At work, this was possible. Not so in their personal life.
"Sure do, a little girl. Found her the day before yesterday at Wilson's. He's squeamish." House smiled at her. "One is the loneliest number and Steve needed company."
House stood with arms folded, leaning against the kitchen sink, regarding her appreciatively.
Wrinkling her brow, Cameron met his gaze. "House, I'm pregnant," she blurted. And once she opened her mouth, she couldn't stop talking. "We're having a baby. That is, if you want to, with me. It'll be great. You can give pointers on Nintendo and teach the kid how to juggle a cane. Even Mick Jagger has kids. And Angelina Jolie. Children like you. They get you. The autistic boy, our patient? He responded to you. Cancer girl? You let her hug you. You'll be a great father."
Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?! It was a biological impossibility, she realized, but if House were the one who was pregnant and he was trying to tell her, he would surely employ that one-liner from "Rush Hour."
Pregnant? There was a poetic justice to it, House thought. After all, he was the one who had pilfered Cameron's personnel file to find out if she'd ever had a baby. Did she do it on purpose? He dismissed that thought out of hand. She already had him. Gagging at the sentimentality of it, he admitted that, in fact, he was hers. Signed, sealed, and fucking delivered. In his mind's eye he saw her naked body, fresh from the shower, but instead of the toned tummy he loved, her belly was rounded, curved like the slope of a sand dune. The sight of it made his cock stir and all he wanted to do was to touch her swollen belly, to lie with her, his ear to her womb, his arms circling her. He wanted to make her come while she carried their child. He'd hold the head of his prick to her clit and move it up and down, dipping it in just enough to find her soft sensitive spot.
A tiny piece of their love would become real in the form of a child.
The concept was beyond anything he'd allowed himself to hope for, especially since the infarction and being abandoned by Stacy.
Cameron watched as House's eyes moved from her hopeful, worried face to the collection of stones and driftwood that she had arranged on a bureau. They made a pass at a patch of trillium growing among the juniper beyond the windowpane, took in the Frank Lloyd Wright knock off home to the north and then returned to her.
He spoke in a voice that seemed to her ponderous and thoughtful rather than upset and ballistic. "There's no 'dad' in pregnant but there is a 'parent.' In the singular. Of course, there's also 'near,' 'gnat,' 'tear,'" House hesitated. "And 'great.' Can't forget about 'great.'"
House pushed off the sink and took a deliberate step toward her. Reaching for Cameron's shoulders, House kneaded the muscles and tendons in her neck and upper arms. He seemed to look down at her from a towering height. A girl could get vertigo from keeping him in her line of sight, she thought as she tried to read his face. No furrowed brows. That was good, wasn't it?
She stood her ground, looking up at him with the same winsome expression she'd worn when she came to his place to offer to resign after his fuck up with Vogler.
Hers was a face he could never dismiss.
"So, you're not going to burst a blood vessel in your forehead?" she asked, tilting her head a little to the side like a tiny bird. "You're … okay with this?"
House put on his best head of the diagnostic department's voice. "I take it you've found a way to cover my clinic hours, make my coffee, and do my paperwork plus, you know, your job as an immunologist while also caring for my … for our …" House cleared his throat, covering his mouth with a fist and faking a coughing fit.
"Some people call them babies, but I take my cue from Mulder and Scully and refer to them as alien spawn," Cameron joked.
"And you want to … keep this … it," House at a loss for words. If only Wilson could see it, Cameron thought.
"I need to see a gynecologist, obviously. But yes, I want to keep the baby."
"And you want to do this thing … with me? You know, Foreman thinks I'm an ass," he added, sotto voce, giving her grief. "And Wilson might make a better dad."
"Sure. Wilson. Mr. Monogamy. That's what I want for the baby. An adulterous role model like Wilson."
"So what do you want … from me?"
So little, really, in the scheme of things, she thought. "I want you to be … with me. I want you to be a part of us. Both of us. Can you? Do that?" Her eyes scanned his.
"You drive a hard bargain. First it's a date – dinner – before you'll come back to work for me. Now you're saying that the only way I get to keep having sex with you is to raise this zygote." He returned her gaze.
"I think it's an embryo and, you said it, not me." Like she would ever ban him from her body.
The emotion of the moment overcame Cameron and she started to cry, covering her mouth with her small hands, while her eyes lit up with something like happiness. She turned to look out the window, buying herself some time.
House puffed up his cheeks and blew out the air. "This is the part where I'm supposed to go all Jerry Maguire on you and tell you that you complete me. Not going to happen in my lifetime. But …"
His face softened perceptibly as he watched tears of emotion drip down Cameron's face. Cameron and her feelings, he thought irritably as if he didn't have feelings, too. Then again, when she cried, it made him want to tuck her small frame inside his leather coat and press her to his body.
Yanking the tiny ear buds from where they dangled around his neck, House placed them in her ears.
While searching for a song on his iPod, House said, "You want to know what you can expect from me."
He fiddled with the tiny device.
"You can expect chronic pain, because it's what I live with. Those sports metaphors? They're not going anywhere. Just thought you should know. I think we've already covered the part about lying. It's going to happen." House placed a finger on his chin before continuing. "I said I wouldn't crush you. Meant it. When it comes to naming little … so and so, I get to consult the Magic Eight Ball. Chase doesn't get to baby-sit because he kisses little girls and that's just … yucky. Now shut up," House told her, although she hadn't said a thing, "and listen."
He pressed play.
The beautiful, clear voice of Chrissie Hynde singing "I'll Stand By You" swept over Cameron and she shivered as bits and pieces of the lyrics told her all of the things House couldn't bring himself to say.
Nothing you confess could make me love you less
I'll stand by you.
House pulled her back and fitted her body against his, wrapping his arms around her midriff. He pushed the material of her tee out of the way and placed his palm over her abdomen. She felt the heat of his breath against her ear as he said, "You're mine."
Cameron and the baby.
A/N: Reviews and concrit are appreciated. Would you like to see this continue?