Into Temptation, Chapter 1
A/N: Thanks to my fab beta athousandsmiles! The best bits are thanks to her. The mistakes are all mine.
Disclaimer: I don't own House, Cameron or any other fictional doctors.
The car idles at the curb, headlights illuminating the dark and windswept street. Drops of condensation form and slide down the insides of the car windows. They've been sitting this way for far too long. Chase faces straight ahead, arms rigid, hands gripping the steering wheel. He stares at the wipers swishing the driving rain to and fro across the foggy windshield. Cameron watches him, frustrated by his sullenness, but holding her tongue so as not to make things worse. She's been doing that a lot lately it seems. She rests her head against the headrest as she tries to come up with the magic words that will end this silent standoff. But there just aren't any. Or at least none she's prepared to say. Chase, I'm sorry. (But I haven't done anything.) Chase, I love you. (I'm trying to love you.) Chase, please look at me. (I can't do this anymore.) Her fingernails make small crescent-shaped dents in her palms and she considers just giving up and getting out.
Before she can, at last he speaks. "Well? Are you going in? I'd like to get home some time tonight." When she turns her head to face him, she can see his eyes following the wipers. Back and forth, back and forth, like he's mesmerized. He still won't look at her.
"Chase, stop this. Please. Cuddy asked me to come here as a personal favour to her. I had no choice."
"Oh, you had a choice. Babysitting him is no longer in your job description." He laughs humourlessly. "It never was, believe it or not."
"I know that!" she practically shouts in her frustration, startling him into finally turning his head in her direction. She takes a deep, cleansing breath and continues. "It's not my job. I know that. But my boss, our boss, decided that it is. What else can I do? And I still don't see why you're so upset about it. It's just paperwork. I've helped him catch up countless times before and you didn't care."
"Right. At the hospital. Not at his house in the middle of the night. It's inappropriate!"
She stares at him. Opens her mouth. Closes it and opens it again. "You still don't trust me," she says finally. "I don't believe it. This is just...just...beyond ridiculous! When are you going to get over this crazy inferiority complex? I don't want House. He doesn't want me. I'm here to work and the only reason I'm doing it here and now instead of at the hospital is because of some stupid power play between him and Cuddy. It's bad enough being caught in the middle of the two of them without you making it worse!" With that she grabs her laptop bag and slams out of the car, rushing through the deluge to the meagre shelter offered by the doorway of House's building.
The car squeals and roars away into the night, but she doesn't look back before wrenching the door open and entering the building.
He's startled out of a dead sleep by an obnoxious knocking on his apartment door. For a moment he's confused, unable to reconcile the loud, masculine banging with the slight, feminine visitor he's expecting. Did he order food before falling asleep? Shaking his head to clear the last remaining cobwebs, he rises and limps toward the door, right hand pushing hard against right thigh. Just as he reaches the door, it bursts open and a very wet Cameron appears, almost crashing into him. "Why knock if you're just going to barge in," he starts to whine before switching courses when he registers the state she's in. He eyes her up and down. Her blond hair is plastered to her head and it drips down into her face and onto her leather jacket. The legs of her dark washed jeans are damp and her black high-heeled boots are splattered with mud. He decides she's never looked hotter; she should walk around soaked all the time. "Oh look, my own personal wet t-shirt contest," he jokes. "Little tip though, next time take off the jacket before they dump the water over you."
"Shut up, House." she growls, stripping off her wet jacket and hanging it off the doorknob.
He turns and limps back to the sofa, throws himself down and reaches for the television remote. "Ooh, cranky. What, are you on the rag?"
"No, I'm not on the rag," she repeats, mimicking his insulting tone. "I'm wet, I'm pissed off and I think I'm getting a cold." As if to punctuate her diagnosis, she sneezes. "Can we please just get this over with? You, not talking, would be a big help. And don't you dare turn on the damned television."
He makes a big show of setting the remote back down on the table. "Yeah yeah. Look, I'm not any happier about this than you are, but we're stuck with each other. So how 'bout you shut up and go get me a beer."
Muttering random curses under her breath, she drops her bag beside the sofa and stalks off to the kitchen, returning a few seconds later carrying two bottles of beer in one hand and blotting her damp hair with a paper towel. She sets one bottle on the table in front of him, with slightly more force than is strictly necessary, and sits down. She twists off the cap of her bottle and takes a large, rather unladylike gulp.
He watches her from the corner of his eye as she sets the bottle down and then combs her fingers through her drying hair. He knows from Cuddy that she's not thrilled about being forced to come here, but even so, he's puzzled by her attitude. The Cameron he knows doesn't take bullshit from anyone, not even him, but she's usually cool and unruffled while she's not taking it. This blatant bitchiness is out of character. It intrigues him.
"I'm sure I'm going to regret asking this, but what the hell's the matter with you?" he questions. "I know you think me godlike, but I assure you I'm not responsible for the weather, so there's no reason to take it out on me. Have you never heard of this nifty new invention called an umbrella? You hold it over your head and it keeps the rain off. All the cool kids have one."
She glares at him before leaning over and reaching for her computer bag. "I know what an umbrella is, House. And while you may not have caused the rain, it is most assuredly your fault that I was out in it in the first place. Again, can we please just get this over with? Where's your laptop?" She stands and starts for his desk.
He reaches out and grabs her wrist to stop her. If he hadn't already noticed how worked up she was, the fluttering of her pulse against his fingers would have given her away. "Whoa, slow down. You haven't seen me in awhile; why spoil this lovely reunion with work? Anyway, a few years ago you would've been thrilled at the prospect of spending a whole evening with me."
She yanks her arm away from him. "A few years ago I was an idiot. And I didn't have a boyfriend who doesn't trust me to be alone in the same room with you. And you were slightly more tolerable company back then. What the hell's the matter with you anyway? Refusing to go to work? And what the hell's the matter with Cuddy for lusting after you instead of just firing your ass?"
He frowns at her. Something is obviously wrong. It's not like her to leave him with so many openings to jab. Not these days anyway. There are so many parts of what she just said that need addressing that he doesn't know where to start. But it would be very unlike him to just leave it alone, so after mentally tossing a coin, he goes for the obvious.
"Chase doesn't trust you to behave around me. Kid's smarter than I gave him credit for," he says.
"What?" she demands. "That's bullshit! He has no reason not to trust me, with you or anyone else. I'm not a cheater!"
He shrugs. "Maybe not under normal circumstances, but we both know how you feel about me. Stuck here with me, alone, all night, you know you wouldn't be able to resist if I decided to seduce you."