Disclaimer: Don't own House.
A/N: Writer's block is so not fun.
"Foreman, I'm fine!" Cameron exclaimed, unable to keep the frustration out of her tone. She'd been prodded and poked all morning long, and now that she was finally feeling better, Foreman was trying to convince her to stay in the hospital for at least another day. Apparently he thought shining a light in her eyes and wearing a lab coat would make his case.
"Cameron, you had a pretty bad concussion, so, please, let me do my job and make sure that you're okay." Foreman had his arms crossed over his chest, and his expression told Cameron he wasn't going to take no for an answer.
"Just let me go home! Call and check up on me every hour! I'm a doctor, too, you know." Foreman hesitated, and Cameron knew she had him. "I'm fine. Really."
"All right, all right. But I am going to call you every hour to check on you, and if you don't answer then I'm going to come by you apartment and drag you back to the hospital." His way-too-cheery tone garnered a glare from Cameron.
"Deal," Cameron agreed, grinning suddenly. She couldn't wait to get out of here and enjoy a couple of days off.
"Where's Foreman?" House asked, suddenly realizing that his number two wasn't in the conference room sending him disapproving looks every two seconds.
"He's checking up on Dr. Cameron, I believe," Taub answered, clicking his pen an obscene number of times as he looked through an old textbook.
"Can't he get a nurse to do that?" Kutner asked, making a face.
"Have you seen Dr. Cameron?" House interjected. "Given the choice between staring at her and staring at your ugly mugs all day, I'd go with Cameron. No offense, Thirteen. You're hot, too."
"None taken," Thirteen replied, keeping her gaze focused on the journal open in front of her. House noticed her smirk, however, and he shot her a glare. Even though she still refused to glance in his direction, her smirk morphed into a knowing smile. "But you know, Dr. House, Dr. Cameron left the hospital this morning and Foreman is only talking to her on the telephone."
"What? He let her go home?" House exclaimed. When his three fellows turned to look at him, he cleared his throat. "I guess I'd better cancel the naughty nurse I hired to come and give her a sponge bath, if you know what I mean." All three fellows groaned and rolled their eyes, which is exactly House expected them to do. So, during their Pavlovian reaction, House slipped out the door and disappeared around the corner.
Cameron groaned when she heard a knock on her door. She picked herself up off the couch, and threw open the door.
"Foreman, you just called me…" Her voice trailed off as she realized that it wasn't Foreman standing in front of her door. "House?" He looked her up and down, taking in her tight yoga pants and t-shirt as well as her abused face.
"You're not dead. Just checking. I'll see you later," he grumbled, turning to leave.
"Wait!" When House grudgingly turned around to face her, Cameron realized that she hadn't planned anything beyond that. When in doubt, improvise. "You see, I have a dilemma, and I think maybe you can help me out. My head still hurts a bit, so I don't really feel like cooking, but I should really eat lunch, right? But if I can't cook, then I need to order out. The funny thing is that it seems I don't have any menus here—I guess I always go out to eat." Okay, so it wasn't completely true, but House's resolve seemed to be wavering. "Something tells me you know by heart the number of any Chinese restaurant in the area. So, if you could help me order, then I'll pay for your lunch. What do you say?"
House stared at her for a long moment, his mind whirling with possibilities. "You know, you look like shit," he said, focusing his gaze on her black eye.
"All the more reason why I need someone else here to open the door for the delivery guy." She didn't miss a beat, and he had to give her some credit for that.
"Fine. Show me to the phone."
A few minutes later, after House had expertly ordered Chinese— somehow knowing exactly what Cameron wanted—the two sat on Cameron's couch, flipping through TV channels. Cameron couldn't help but notice that they sat as far apart as possible, and it brought to mind a few awkward dates in high school. As Cameron lingered on a rerun of a Project Runway episode, House groaned and lunged for the remote. He caught Cameron completely by surprise, so the remote was his with a minimal amount of struggling.
Cameron glared at him, but he only smirked in response as he sped through the channels, barely giving her a split second to register what was on the screen before he moved on. After a few more moments of silence, Cameron spoke.
"What did you see when you died?" House froze, and she knew she'd hit a nerve. "When you stuck a knife in a socket, House. Technically, I guess you didn't die die." He sighed and relaxed, and even the incessant channel changing stopped for a moment to linger on Sports Center. The look of relief on his face told her that he believed he'd dodged a bullet, but of course she didn't know what he wasn't telling her.
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing."
"That's too bad," Cameron responded, frowning. House forgot the remote for a moment, and turned to look at her.
"Wait, what? Aren't you an atheist?"
"Sure, but that doesn't necessarily mean I relish the idea that I'm going to die and never see anything or anyone again. I'd like to see my mother again, or even my father."
"The whole point of there being nothing after death is that it makes this life right here all the more significant. We don't get do-overs," House grumbled, madly flipping through the channels once more. "And why your mother? Hell, why your father? Why not your ex-husband?" A beat. "You see what I did there? I made a pun on the word 'ex-husband', because, you know, yours is dead."
"I see that, House," Cameron replied, surprisingly unfazed. "Of course I'd like to see him again, but in general I don't feel as if we had any unfinished business. He died, and I wish he hadn't, but I said everything that I wanted to say. He knew I loved him, and I knew he loved me."
"But you don't feel that way about your parents."
"No, of course I don't."
"And you want to encounter them in the afterlife to…reassure yourself?"
"No, House. I'd want to…" she trailed off, looking off into the distance. For a moment, House just looked at her. He loved these moments when she wasn't aware of him—when she wasn't trying to impress him, or help him, or scold him, or even challenge him. No, he loved to just watch her be her. In these moments, Allison Cameron was a completely different person. For some reason, she always struck him as much stronger than she ever had at work. There was some inner quality that seemed to have been worn away over the years, but which always remained. Then she became aware of him once more, and he saw the tension return to her shoulders. "I'd want to know who they really were—underneath the alcoholism, temper, and depression. They were people, and I never really got to know who they were. And I never will, I guess, and that makes me sad. You're right, House, we don't get do-overs, but don't you ever wish we did?"
House took so long to reply that she was sure he wouldn't. "I don't see how it would help."
"Do-overs. We'd be completely different people if that were the case."
"True, but maybe that'd be a good thing."
"Hardly," House scoffed.
"Say you hadn't married your husband. You wouldn't have gone through the whole process of watching him die, right? So you would have kept some measure of the innocence, or hope or some other quality that you lost when you…When he…You know. Some would say that would be a good thing, because why should someone so young have to go through so much? And yet, what would have happened the next time you went up against something difficult? You wouldn't have been as prepared and who knows what would have happened. There's no way of knowing, nor should we waste time wondering. You're you, and that's it. What's happened has happened and nothing you do could possibly change that." House didn't feel like watching TV anymore, so he shut it off and threw the remote onto the coffee table in front of him. Leaning back in the couch, he snuck a quick glance at Cameron.
"But what if you hadn't sent Stacy away? Or if you…"
"Or if I what? If I hadn't said what I said on our date?" He let out a harsh bark of laughter. Then he stilled, thinking back on various memories. "Stacy is something different. She would never have been completely happy with me, so in the end I couldn't have been happy. We might have spent more time together, or we might have spent the rest of our lives together, but at some point it would have turned into a sham."
"And me?" She had to ask, however stupid it might be. House frowned. His eyes caught hers, and she saw the various emotions swimming at the surface of his soul. Hesitantly, Cameron reached out and lightly grasped his hand.
"I don't know," he whispered, obviously hating himself for speaking. "I don't know, Cameron."
"Kiss me." The words flew out of her mouth before she could stop them. Oh, those two words were probably the two dumbest words she could have said to House besides "marriage" and "lupus."
"What?" He'd certainly heard her, so she could only guess his reasoning for asking her to repeat it: either he was giving her a way out, or he needed to hear it again.
"Kiss me, House. Stop thinking about it, and just kiss me." Cameron smiled at him, a shy yet honest smile. "No do-overs, right?"
"No do-overs," he repeated stupidly, scooting closer to her. It was ridiculous, but it seemed so simple when she put it like that…
Cameron leaned forward, one hand still grasping his and the other reaching out to cup his cheek. House stared at her, obviously confused but still intrigued. When he felt her cool fingertips against his cheek, he closed his eyes and sucked in his breath.
"Open your eyes, House," Cameron ordered, her voice surprisingly shaky. But House did as he was told, and noticed that her face was several inches closer to his than it had been mere seconds ago. The two sat still for a moment, both content with the feeling of Cameron's fingers lightly caressing House's cheek. Then House closed the distance between them, pressing his lips reverently against hers.
They were both hesitant at first, each expecting to be rejected with every new breath. But slowly they relaxed as Cameron's lips parted, allowing House's tongue to graze hers. Cameron's hand wandered from House's cheek down to his chest, and House placed an insistent arm around her waist, drawing her ever closer to him. She was surprised by how soft his lips were despite having tasted them twice before. Well, "before" had been different; "before" hadn't meant anything. Now she was able to enjoy the moment.
When she moaned, House urged her onto her back. Cameron smiled against House's lips as she realized that none of her awkward dates in high school had quite ended up like this. But her smile was quickly wiped off of her face when House's hand slipped under her t-shirt.
"Oh, God," she whispered, opening her eyes as House's mouth wandered to her neck. All reason seemed to leave her; all she could think about was the weight of House's body pushing her down into the couch, or the softness of his hand caressing her stomach, or the roughness of his beard against her chin as he kissed her. Desperately, she pulled his shirt up so that their bare stomachs could finally touch. They both breathed a sigh of relief as skin met skin.
Then the doorbell rang. Startled, the two froze in place, staring at each other.
"Of course," he mumbled. "I think you'll need to get the door."
"What? But I have a black eye!"
"Cameron," he growled, "I think that at this moment I will get a much more bizarre look than you will."
"Oh," she replied, blushing.
"Yeah." After a slight hesitation House sat up, freeing Cameron. She walked to the door as if in a daze, handing the delivery guy a tip much larger than she would have given him even in her best of moods. Slowly she made her way to the kitchen with the Chinese food, preternaturally aware of House's gaze, his breath, even, she could swear, his heartbeat. So she was not surprised to find him behind her, taking the food from her grasp and placing it to the side before wrapping his arms around her, drawing her closer for another kiss.
He was much more confident this time; he knew that she won't reject him, though Cameron briefly wondered how he could ever think that she would. But though this kiss was much more brief, it also promised so much more.
"You need to eat," he whispered, placing his forehead against hers. "The food will get cold."
"That's what a microwave is for," she countered, threading her index fingers through his belt loops and tugging him closer to her. House smiled and placed a soft kiss against her forehead.
"Food now," he ordered. He quickly stepped away from her.
"Okay," she acquiesced. But throughout the entire meal the two couldn't keep their eyes off of each other. House observed her as if she were a lab rat, noting her intake of food and the color of her cheeks. He noted her smile and her renewed confidence. Cameron, on the other hand, observed House in a completely different fashion. She watched his hands as he elegantly used chopsticks to eat his food and his tongue as he caught errant drops of soy sauce on his upper lip. Her heart began to beat quicker as she watched the workings of his throat as he swallowed. Funny how something so simple could turn her on.
When Foreman called once more, Cameron frowned.
"Can I tell him you're here so he'll stop calling?" House nodded once in reply, but he looked away from Cameron and she knew immediately that he was a little embarrassed by the notion that Foreman would know where he was. "Foreman," she said by way of greeting.
"Hey Cam. Is House still there?"
"Uh, yes," she replied, drawing out the "s" as she looked across the table at her lunch date.
"Am I going to need to call you later?" Cameron could hear the slight smirk in his voice.
"I don't think so, but I'll let you know. Or not."
"Okay then. Just don't…"
"Bye Foreman!" Without bothering to listen to Foreman's protestations, Cameron shut off the phone. House was watching her with a raised eyebrow.
"What was that about?" he asked.
"Well, apparently Foreman is psychic." She stood up and began clearing the table. House wanted very much to pretend that he didn't enjoy this moment of domesticity, but he did enjoy watching Cameron clean the dishes in her yoga pants, wondering how it would be to come up behind her and kiss her neck. Would she lose her focus and lean against him, whispering—no—moaning his name? Would she smile and teasingly wiggle her bottom against his increasingly excited groin? Maybe she would sigh happily and shut off the water before turning towards him and wrapping her arms around his neck. And in that moment, House knew he could be happy with Cameron. Oh, it wouldn't always be easy; he also knew that much. But in this very moment—such a simple, meaningless moment—House had never been more content. It was a moment full of so many perfect possibilities.
And, of course, that scared him. Without even turning to face him, Cameron felt the sudden change in mood, and she shut off the water in the sink with a quick flick of her hand.
"House…" she warned. "Don't." Then without sparing him a glance, she turned the water back on and finished cleaning the dishes. So House decided to find out what exactly she would do. He came up behind her and placed his hands on either side of her waist. Cameron hesitated for a split second, but continued to clean up. Undeterred, House brushed her hair to the side and began placing light kisses on the back of her neck. She shivered underneath his fingers, and he couldn't help his triumphant grin. Once he grazed his teeth against her jaw, Cameron finally shut off the water and turned to face House. The mischievous twinkle in his eye nearly made her heart stop.
"We should probably take this slow," House said, teasingly running his hand up her body before stopping right beneath her breast.
"Ah, that's probably a good idea," Cameron agreed, leaning her head back so House could kiss her neck.
"How about we start with dinner? Tomorrow night?" That stopped Cameron in her tracks.
"You want to have dinner," she repeated.
"Don't you?" he replied, thoroughly confused.
"Not if it ends up like every other time we make plans to go out somewhere. Well, except for the monster trucks date."
"That was not…"
"Okay, then: the monster trucks outing."
"Well, what do you want to do then?"
"I want to do something that you want to do—something completely different."
"I hate it when women give answers like that," he grumbled. "That means absolutely nothing to me."
"Well, it should. What I want, I suppose, is this: if you want to sit on your couch and watch bad TV with me, then I want to do that. If you want to go to a fancy restaurant and have dinner, then I want to do that. If you want to go shopping at the mall, then I want to do that. I just don't want to have to fake it."
"I don't want you to fake it, either," he whispered, pressing against her. Cameron moaned loudly.
"No, no. I mean, I want to know you." She could almost feel House roll his eyes, but he held himself back. "Show me something new, House."
"Fine, fine, woman," he exclaimed. "I'll try."
"Good. That's all I ask," she said, placing a light kiss on the tip of House's nose. "How about we watch a movie?"
"Deal," House agreed. He could feel some of his panic well up again, but he did his best to quash it. One step at a time, Greg, he admonished himself, one small, painful, limp at a time…