Disclaimer: I do not own House, etc.
A/N: A little something for Valentine's Day. It's taken a while to get up because has been misbehaving... :(
Allison Cameron was fully aware of the fact that most people at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital assumed Valentine's Day was a holiday she celebrated readily. Sure, she liked to bring in candy canes for Christmas and mini candy bars for Halloween. Heck, if she was in an especially cheery mood, she even wore green on St. Patrick's Day. But Valentine's Day? She couldn't imagine anything worse. Why did you need a particular day to celebrate love? And, if it's a day to celebrate love, why do so many people give out superficial, meaningless cards? But the expectation was there, and so, on February 13th, Allison Cameron holed up in her living room and made valentines for all the people she worked with.
Frustrated, Cameron tried to pick up her beer with only two fingers so she wouldn't cover the bottle with glue. That's right, because even though she could easily buy cards from a store, Allison Cameron had to make all her valentines by hand. But it was worth it, in the end, just to brighten someone's day. Three and a half years working for Greg House couldn't manage to stamp that out of her. She smiled to herself, thinking of House's eye rolls over the years as she'd handed him his valentine. Cameron considered it a victory that though House accepted his card with his usual degree of uncertainty—as whenever she did something nice for him—it never ended up in the trash at the office. Maybe he went home and threw it out immediately, but at least he waited until she wasn't there to see. He always ate the small box of chocolates with alacrity. After realizing the first year that he didn't eat any chocolates with nuts, Cameron always made sure to handpick his chocolates.
Speaking of which, she hadn't made House's card yet. Three beers into the night was about the time Cameron discovered the guts to make it—how does one make a valentine for a man who really doesn't want one? And, she thought ruefully, how does one make a valentine for a man who she actually likes but has no interest in her? She usually saved his for last, though now that she wasn't his employee she wondered if she should bother at all. Of course she should, right? Why stop now? They still worked at the same hospital, after all. Cameron sighed loudly, staring at the red construction paper in front of her.
Almost all of the other cards were covered in stickers and bright silver letters—cheery, fake expressions of Cameron's decidedly dampened enthusiasm for the holiday. Those would go to the various nurses and doctors that she knew mostly in passing. Wilson usually got a very simple card and a small box of chocolates. After being caught unawares the first year, Wilson always returned the favor, and Cameron had to admit she looked forward to his sweet, if platonic, notes. Foreman—second only to House in the Completely Uninterested Department—only received chocolates. Chase, well… Cameron had broken up with Chase just a few weeks earlier. Normally he'd get a card (more ostentatious than Wilson's) and chocolates, but a post-break up valentine was probably not a good idea.
House. House. House. What to write for House?
Maybe another beer first. Cameron downed the rest of the beer she had, and then she immediately stood up to grab herself another one. While standing in front of the open fridge, Cameron continued to ponder her card to House.
"Dear House, I know I don't work for you anymore, but here's a valentine anyway. Because, you know, we're close and all." Cameron spoke aloud and made annoyed faces the entire time, as if someone was in the room with her and had to interpret her words. "Dear House, I know you think I give you valentines because I'm madly in love with you. It's true. I am. So, please take this card and fall in love with me. It's that simple." She smiled at that one, but, at the same time, she imagined that House could believe that was her motivation. "Dear House, I hate you. Love, Cameron." That might be somewhat cathartic, if not exactly true, but it was not exactly in the spirit of Valentine's Day.
Then, suddenly, Cameron knew what to write.
As he walked through the lobby of the hospital, House was reminded that he hated Valentine's Day. Sure, he wasn't a holiday type of guy to begin with, but there was something particularly obnoxious about Valentine's Day. Wilson, by this point, had given up on trying to point out that House probably felt that way because he was lonely—Wilson was never in need of a special valentine, as it turned out—but House didn't think that was the case. Why did someone need a particular day to celebrate love? He was by no means a romantic, but House simply didn't see the logic behind it. If you wanted to go out for a special dinner with your girlfriend, why don't you just do it? More importantly, why did he have to suffer through pink decorations and candy hearts just because you're a giant pussy? Man up, make reservations, and leave him the Hell alone.
The one thing he'd had to look forward to on Valentine's Day for the past few years was Cameron's chocolates. Now she wasn't working for him anymore. Oh, to be sure Kutner would be sucking up to him, but he by no means would ever be observant enough to realize exactly which chocolates House liked and which he did not. Last year Cameron had somehow managed to outdo herself and had given him twelve small pieces of Heaven. His mouth watered even thinking about it.
So it was with some consternation that House reached four o'clock without a glimpse of Cameron or her chocolates.
"Wilson!" House whined through Wilson's locked door. "Wilson, where are you?" When he heard Wilson's frustrated sigh, House couldn't help but grin.
"What is it House?" Wilson grumbled, throwing open his door.
"What, did the Bitch dump you already?" House pushed through Wilson and entered the office. Immediately he noticed the now-empty box of chocolates that Cameron had undoubtedly given Wilson.
"No, I just have a lot of work to do, and I have to be out of here at five on the dot if I want to make our reservations." Wilson sighed and flopped down in his seat. He picked up a few folders and continued to work. House watched him for a moment, intrigued by the almost desperate way that Wilson was forging ahead through his work.
"You're not going to propose, are you?" Wilson looked up at House in surprise.
"Of course not. Why would you ask that?"
"Why does this dinner mean so much to you, then?"
"Because I want to make it nice. It's Valentine's Day."
"So why isn't every other day nice?"
"What?" Wilson put down his pen for a moment, staring at his best friend. House felt a little uncomfortable underneath Wilson's level gaze, so he started to fidget slightly.
"Why do you need this day to be nice? There's no reason why this day is more important than others, despite what greeting card companies and chocolate makers try to tell us. If you're not happy, then what is this day going to do for you? Nothing."
"But if we arehappy—and we are—then why not celebrate it?"
"Why celebrate ittoday?"
"I'm not going to argue with you about this." House had him, and they both knew it. He stopped fidgeting and leaned forward toward Wilson, who flat out refused to look at him.
"She expectssomething today, so, in the end, it doesn't mean anything. It'll mean something in two weeks when you bring her roses just because. Or, in her case, I imagine it would be something more along the lines of a Venus Fly Trap. I'm guessing that Paulie Finkelstein from seventh grade was kidding when he told me there are man-eating plants, because otherwise that would be perfect." He leaned back in his chair, tone growing wistful as he pondered just what Amber Volakis would do with a man-eating plant. Oh, the possibilities…
"Gregory House, I do believe you're a closet romantic." Wilson grinned as he picked up his pen to continue working.
"Wrong, as usual. I'm just aware of how dumb all of this is."
"Keep telling yourself that."
"I'm leaving now."
"You do that." House grumbled as he left the room, fully aware of Wilson's obnoxious grin and triumphant tone.
"Oh, and tell Cameron I said thanks for the chocolates!"
House would never, ever be sure how Wilson would know these things.
The back of Cameron's neck tingled as she felt the weight of a new presence in the ER. Although she was near the end of her shift, she would never be tired enough to miss the appearance of this particular presence anywhere in her near vicinity. He certainly didn't make it easy. When she turned to face him, House was leaning against the wall in a rather debonair fashion, a mischievous grin on his face.
"You didn't give me my chocolates," he accused.
"Who says I got you any?" she shot back, crossing her arms over her chest. They both knew the argument was for appearance's sake only, but they both enjoyed the banter regardless.
"Gimme," he demanded, holding out his hand. Cameron stared at his palm for a moment before she relented.
"Stay here. I'll be right back." House watched as she slipped into the ER locker room, and waited somewhat patiently for her to return. He couldn't help the fact that his cane seemed to tap against the floor on its own, somehow mimicking his heartbeat. The tempo picked up every second that she was gone, and he imagined what it would be like to see her again. When he saw the door open once more, the cane slowed, and when she finally reached him, it stopped completely.
Without a word, Cameron held out the box and the card.
"Happy Valentine's Day, House," she whispered. House watched her face carefully as he took the box from her hand. For the briefest of seconds their fingers brushed, and House noticed a blush blossom in her cheeks. Cameron lingered for a moment longer, staring at House's face with barely concealed longing, and then she straightened her posture and resumed working.
After a minute more of spying, House left. It wouldn't do for the nurses to catch him staring at Cameron with similarly unconcealed longing. He waited until he was safely ensconced in his office before taking the card out of the envelope. The front was blank, which surprised House—he usually expected glitter and stickers from Cameron, even if she'd never made him such a card. Gingerly, House opened the card and read what was inside.
As it happens, I accept chocolate 365 days a year. Just a thought.
There was a long beat as he let the words sink in; then he grinned.
The next day, Cameron was surprised to see a bright red card in her locker, propped up by a small bag of chocolate-covered pretzels—her favorite, though no one had ever seemed to notice that. After a slight hesitation, Cameron picked up the card. She took a quick peek around the room, as if there were a possibility that the person who left it there would jump out from behind a locker and announce his or her intentions. When no one appeared, Cameron slowly opened the card. Her heart began to beat wildly in her chest when she recognized the handwriting.
As it happens, so do I. I also never turn down a free meal delivered to my apartment after 7pm. Just a thought.
Cameron grinned, and immediately started to look forward to Chinese and good company at the end of her day.