She didn't recognise the knock but she knew it was him, even without the usual rap of his cane against the wood door. It was late but silly things like time didn't matter to House, though, time wasn't always important to a lot of doctors, with the shifts they kept sometimes. She wondered if days merged together for him, day and night, weekdays and weekend. He did what he liked, when he liked. He was in miserable and in pain 24/7, that much she knew.
She pulled her door open, steeling herself for a confrontation. Her hair was pulled back into a clip, a few strands loose from where she'd been lying on it, and her pyjamas were pink; baby pink, and she knew he would jump on that, pink pyjama bottoms and matching camisole.
He was waiting for her to speak.
"What do you want House, it's," she looked back at her clock, nine fifteen, not so late after all. Time was becoming irrelevant to her too. "What can I do for you?" His lips quirked at the corner.
"I already said no."
"That was a year ago, I'm damaged again."
"I don't think you're damaged," she said, crossing her arms.
"I'm asking again," he said, ignoring her comment.
"And I'm saying no. Again."
"If at first you don't succeed..." he said with a sigh.
"Try, try until I get a restraining order?" The quirk grew.
"Why won't you have dinner with me?" he asked.
"Dating you is bad for the heart," she said, looking away from him, his eyes were always too intense for her.
"Dating is in general," he told her.
"Maybe," she waited for a reply, for something but he remained still in her hallway, long dark overcoat hiding the slight twitch of pain she suspected was there, the long sleeves hiding the white knuckles gripping his cane. She knew him but she didn't quite understand the reasons behind this. because she'd quit? Because he was bored? Was finally willing to accept change?
Willing to change?
"Go home House."
"Cute pyjamas," he said, walking away. Cameron sighed, the comment was expected, but the lack of bite to his words had left her feeling a little out of place in her own apartment.
She should've known he wouldn't give up, should've known he'd find her. She glanced up when he sat down. Keeping her head buried in her book, her eyes flicking over the top of her glasses to see him settle into the chair opposite her and lean his cane by the wall. The coffee shop was empty, almost closing, but then, he wouldn't be there at all if she wasn't there.
After a moment the waitress set a coffee down in front of him and he added some sugar. He didn't speak, and neither did she, knowing she'd crack first anyway. She could at least finish her chapter.
If she could concentrate on anything but his face as he watched her trying to read.
"How d'you know I was here?" she asked.
"You weren't home, nearest coffee shop to your house."
"I could've had a date."
"But you didn't."
"No," she stuttered the word and sighed. It frustrated her that he knew everything. "Dating you would be pointless," she said, putting her book down, "functionary. You already know everything."
"So we just skip to the hot sex. I have beer in the fridge." A blush spread over her pale skin.
"Doesn't it get boring? Knowing everything?"
"No." He sipped his coffee, eyes never leaving her. His face was hard, eyes burning her because she was rejecting him again and this was how he dealt with it. Dealt with everything. Steal eyes and heart to match. "I thought you wanted me for who I am?"
"Too late huh?"
"Sor.." she paused, no apologies, she thought, she didn't have to apologise because he was too late. "'Fraid so." She smiled and so did House. He confused the hell out of her.
"Great, we'll just be friends, have you eaten?" His whole demeanor changed as he spoke, straightening his back and brightening his face. It was all false, she knew, this was plastic House almost. Putting on a show for whoever may need convincing that he's a nice guy or a good doctor. Or a team player. Cameron knew better, knew him
"You don't have friends," she reminded him.
"He's your pet." He laughed then, an alien sound to them both, and she smiled too. He liked Cameron like this. A little spunky, and he had to wonder what exactly had done it, which of his fuck-ups had sparked off this change in her. He loved that he affected her so much, had the ability and influence to change her like this. It was a power trip.
"Let's go have something to eat," he said, downing his coffee, not reacting to the hot liquid except for a flicker of pain on his face out of time to the rest of the pain he always felt. If she didn't know him so well, she wouldn't have noticed. She had once loved that knowledge, revelled in it. Now it was a curse, something that kept her in tune to him even when she didn't want that.
"I've already eaten," she said, "it's past nine." She picked her book up again, "I'm going to read another two chapters and then go to bed."
"Exciting, chick lit and sleep, how do you contain your enthusiasm for life?" She ignored him, and bent her head to re-read the page she'd been on when House had sat at her table.
"What are you going to do now?" he asked.
"Get another job." He drummed his fingers on the table, tapping his foot in time with with music playing quietly in the background, and she was trying so hard to ignore him she wasn't reading a word of her book. And they both knew it. She wasn't sure if he was waiting for her to say something else, she could never tell what was going on behind those perfect blue eyes, except pain. He let everyone see the pain, wanted everyone to see the pain he was in.
"Why won't you date me? Really?" he asked.
She looked up at him again, book in one hand, taking her glasses off to hold in the other. She'd see that look a handful of times, the House version of sincerity. He wanted the truth, and wanted to believe whatever she had to say. Her stomach did a little flip.
"Because I could fall in love," she said, voice low, hoping he wouldn't hear, praying he wouldn't ask her to repeat herself. House was a bad guy to fall in love with, she knew that now.
He didn't say anything, instead he retrieved his cane and stood up. As he limped away, she reached out and grabbed his arm, stopping him, her hold light. She rubbed her thumb over the black leather.
"Why do you want to date me so badly?" she asked. She just needed to know one more thing. He looked at her face, then back at the hand on his arm.
"Because I could fall in love," he echoed.
Her hand fell away from his arm and he limped out of the coffee shop, leaving her with a book that she didn't think she would ever be able to finish now.
She was patient with him, so few people were, once they knew him, once they knew he wasn't just a cripple. That he was a pain in the ass cripple. Cameron was eternally patient, with everyone, with him, and waited a full five minutes before knocking again. He opened the door a second later and she didn't call him on it, like he knew she wouldn't but almost wished she would.
He didn't say anything, leaning against his door frame, waiting for her to explain her visit at nine thirty on a Saturday evening. Dateless again, he could say, but he didn't. He kept silent, and watched her as she thought about what she wanted to say, watched her formulate the decision, her eyes flickering frantically with whatever internal struggle she had took on to come and see him.
The she leaned into his space, quicker than he remembered from before, but still slow, and kiss him on the lips. The soft slide of her lips against his, the taste of strawberry lip gloss almost had him falling from where he was leaning heavily on the door frame, had him falling onto her, but she held onto him, grabbing fistfuls of his shirts and sliding her tongue into his mouth to taste whiskey. It was horrible and wonderful all at once, and she loved kissing him, despite the fact that as soon as she broke away, a crass comment would spill from his mouth. About skipping to the hot sex.
Which she was against, but dating him was pointless, they already knew each other too well. Everything else was trivial.
Some point during the last few months, few years, she'd realised that she didn't know why she wanted House, what she really expected any relationship with him to be like. She'd realised, that it wouldn't be normal, wouldn't necessarily be fun, or good, or nice. Or even very long.
At some point during the last few few hours, few moments, she'd remembered why she had wanted him in the first place. The feel of him leaning on her, pressing into her, his lips on her, reminded her that he was funny, and gorgeous, and smarter than every doctor in Princeton Plainsboro put together. At least in her opinion, and considering she was leaning into him as heavily (two good legs but one weak heart) she knew she could be biased.
She'd never really been a forward looking person, she wasn't about futures. Not her own at least. She liked to live in the now, get what enjoyment she could get, when and while she could get it. She'd married based on that reason. Love was not in her future, love was her present.
When he pulled away from her, breathless, hands in her dark hair, body pressed against hers, she smiled at him. His were almost closed, but he was still watching every movement of her face, her every reaction.
"Are you coming in?" he asked, he did serious and sarcastic, and she wasn't entirely sure which this was.
"No," she whispered, either way, she was going home. She hadn't forgotten about Chase, and how, a few days ago she'd promised to give him everything he wanted, she had to think. Had to clear her head of House, and her heart.
"Even if I say please?" She laughed and took a step back, away from his warmth. He went to take a step forward, but glanced back at his cane by the sofa, he was already holding tight to the door frame.
"Good night House," she said, turning away
Chase was never going to forgive her, but then, she'd never forgive herself for a her next word, "Maybe." He almost smiled then. He was getting somewhere.
She knew she could never truly clear her heart of House. No more than she could stop loving her husband.
"At least help me back to my sofa."
"You'll manage," she threw the words over her shoulder.
"You're going to let an ol' cripple struggle." She laughed and turned back to smile at him.
"Yes," she said.
"Christ, what the hell did I do to you?"
"You fell in love with me," she said, leaving his building. He watched the empty doorway for a few moments before limping back to the sofa, and crashing onto it. He had gotten somewhere and they were getting somewhere. He was going to treat himself to an extra Vicodin and have sweet opiate dreams.
He deserved it, he'd earned it.
He'd earned her.