Dedication: To Jessica and Lola. Hope you guys enjoy this Chase/Cameron story. I have to admit, it's my first – but I hope you like it anyways. (P.S. Thanks for the quotes and the inspiration.)
Cameron leaned back into the cushions of her couch and brought the glass of wine to her lips. It seemed a bit strange to be having take-out and wine at the same time, but Cameron really loved her wine. It relaxed her after a hectic day of work, especially when that day of work involved dealing with House and convincing him to take on a case of hers. No matter how hard she tried not to let the man she used to have feelings for get to her, he never failed to get under her skin. And if she were honest with herself, she'd always have some feelings for House. But now she was with Chase; and Chase made her feel happy in ways that House never could. Chase was kind and sweet – qualities that House kept hidden in that lockbox of his heart.
"You ready for your fortune cookie?" Chase asked, handing her one of the fortune cookies.
Cameron smiled and set down her wine glass on the coffee table before accepting the fortune cookie from Chase. "These things never tell fortunes. Why are they called fortune cookies?" Cameron asked as she opened hers.
"Don't think so hard. What does yours say?"
"Um…" Cameron replied as she brushed off the crumbs from the tiny slip of paper. "It says, 'The best way to love is to love like you have never been hurt.'" Cameron immediately went quiet, and there was an awkward silence between them. Chase had told her that he loved her last week, and she had yet to respond in kind. Though he had brushed it off as though it was no big deal, she could tell that it had hurt him when she didn't say it back. But Cameron didn't want to say it until she knew she was sure – she didn't believe in casually tossing around those three little words. Because when she did say it to Chase, she wanted him to know that she meant it with all her heart.
Chase, not wanting Cameron to feel uncomfortable, cleared his throat and read his out loud. "'If an idea's worth having once, it's worth having twice,'" Chase said. "You're right. These things really don't tell fortunes. That's a Tom Stoppard quote."
Cameron looked at him in surprise. Chase saw the incredulous look on her face and responded to it. "What? I can read, you know."
Cameron laughed, thankful that Chase had once again made light of an awkward situation. It was times like these that she realized how grateful she was that she had chosen Chase instead of waiting around for the misanthropic House. She tucked her fortune into the pocket of her pants then leaned over to give Chase a kiss. She kissed him because he made her happy. But most importantly, if she was kissing him, she didn't have to worry about things she didn't say.
Cameron sat in her office looking at the slip of paper with her "fortune" again. She wished she could follow its words; but she had been hurt before – twice. Once, when she lost her husband to cancer; and again when House told her bluntly that she didn't love, she fixed and took on charity cases. It had been her choice to marry her husband, and it wasn't his fault that he died. It had been her choice to pursue House, and it wasn't his fault that he was miserable and unable to return her feelings.
She genuinely cared for Chase. He didn't pressure her into doing things she wasn't ready for. He loved her – and Cameron hadn't felt this loved in a long time.
"Your patient is doing all better now. Shouldn't I get some kind of reward for helping you out on yet another case?" House asked, barging in without warning.
Cameron quickly sat up in her chair, trying to hide what was in her hand so that House wouldn't notice it. But House was an observant man – and a surprisingly quick one at that. He grabbed her fortune out of her hand before she could stop him and held it out of reach as he read it.
"'The best way to love is to love like you have never been hurt.'" House gave Cameron a pointed look. "Interesting thing to be carrying around, Cameron."
Cameron sighed, refusing to be baited by House. He was probably the last person she wanted to talk about past loves with – since he was one. But because she knew this was House, Cameron reluctantly prepared herself to being asked prying questions – once House got a sniff of a puzzle or a mystery, he was unrelenting in getting to the bottom of it. She knew that if she didn't answer him now, he'd keep pestering her until she did – and she'd rather not waste time.
"So, did wittle Chasey-poo tell you that he wuved you?" House said, speaking in a tone more befitting of someone talking to a child or an infant.
Cameron rolled her eyes but answered honestly. House could always tell when she was lying – and she wasn't a good liar in the first place, anyways. "Yes."
House showed a brief look of surprise: even though he'd expected that things between Chase and Cameron were getting serious, it still didn't seem real until now. There was a time when he had feelings for Cameron – feelings that were nowhere near the same intensity as hers were for his. But they had been there. Even though he'd denied it and pushed her away, they had been there. House quickly recovered and continued on with a tone that was probably rougher and colder than necessary, but he couldn't help it. "So, what's the problem?"
"I didn't say it back," Cameron replied, not looking House in the eye. Instead, she chose to look down at her desk.
"Why not? You two are perfect together. With your matching blonde hair and good looks – a match made in heaven." House couldn't keep out all the bitterness from his voice, but Cameron was too distracted to even notice.
It went beyond simple jealousy – House didn't believe that it had anything to do with the fact that he possibly still had some residual feelings for Cameron. He was still attracted to her – but who could really blame him? She was a gorgeous woman; and once upon a time, she'd had the hots for him. No, House was feeling the way he did because deep down he recognized the fact that this could've been him: that had he been a different, less damaged man, it could have been him who was anxiously awaiting to see if Cameron loved him back – though, House admittedly would have unlikely been the first one to say those three little words. If he had been a different man, he could have been the one in a relationship that was actually going somewhere. But he wasn't – and that was why he was bitter.
"It's not that easy. I'm not like you, House. I can't just move on when I've been hurt. I can't pretend that I'm not afraid that I'll be hurt again." Cameron pinched the bridge of her nose, feeling an immense amount of pressure in her head from having thought about her relationship with Chase all day. She wanted desperately to be able to jump forward in this relationship wholeheartedly and carefree; but she was a reasonable and logical woman who stopped believing in fairytale endings and happily ever afters long ago.
"This quote is stupid anyways. No one can go on as if they've never been hurt." Cameron looked up as he spoke. House paused, debating whether or not he should stop and just brush things off as he normally did or finish the conversation in a rare moment of sympathy. Seeing how upset Cameron was, he chose the latter. "You wouldn't be the person you are today if it weren't for the people you loved or the people that hurt you. They've made you stronger."
Cameron stared at House in shock, unable to believe that he was actually trying to comfort her in his own way. That he was showing a hint of caring. House returned her gaze for a moment, handed back the slip of paper, then limped out of her office. Cameron tilted her head in thought, pondering what House had said. He was right. Her relationships with her husband and House had made her stronger. She never would have known how much she could handle if it hadn't been for them. And should things end with Chase, she would be able to survive that, too. So, there was really no excuse or reason for her not to open herself up to the possibility of finding love again or letting Chase know what she really felt for him.
Chase made his way casually towards Cuddy. Leaning against the counter, Chase spoke without so much as an introduction. "Do you think Cameron is still in love with House?"
Cuddy looked at him in surprise, having barely registered that he was there and was a bit startled to hear him talk out of nowhere. After getting over the initial shock of the question, Cuddy replied, "That's just ridiculous. She's in love with you."
Chase scoffed. "It sure doesn't seem like it. I told her that I loved her, and she still hasn't said it back. And that was a week ago. And recently, she has been working on a case with House – again. Even though she doesn't work for him, she still seems to always be around House and his team for some reason or another."
"I don't think that's all Cameron's doing, though, Chase. You know House. He really likes to annoy people, and Cameron is one of his favorite people to pick on. It doesn't help that she once had a crush on him."
"I'm pretty sure it was more than just a crush."
"Well, that's all in the past now. She wouldn't have gotten into a relationship with you if she still had feelings for House. Cameron doesn't seem like that type of person."
Chase stopped to think about what Cuddy was saying. Cameron really did not seem like the type of woman to be in a relationship with someone while she was secretly pining for someone else. She was resistant to moving things along – but he felt that it had more to do with the fact that the last committed relationship she'd been in had not ended so well. But Chase didn't plan on dying anytime soon, so he felt that that fact should have alleviated some of her worries.
"You know, I had to hound her every week just to get her to consider going out with me."
"I remember that. You'd tell her that you liked her every Tuesday. That was very sweet of you."
"More like persistent. Sometimes I feel like she didn't even really want to get into a relationship with me, but she did so just to get me to stop," Chase said forlornly.
"Don't think like that. Plus, wasn't it finally Cameron who resigned from House's team and went to your doorstep to tell you that she had feelings for you as well?"
Chase smiled a bit at the memory of that night. He'd been at home, slightly freaked out over having been fired by House, when he'd heard someone at his door. When he'd seen Cameron there, he had tried to keep from getting his hopes up; but the moment she'd said, "It's Tuesday," he had known that things were going to just fine. That she had come to realize that they were more than just two coworkers who had slept together.
"Yeah," Chase finally replied. "I don't know. I think this waiting is really getting to me."
Cuddy turned to the younger man and placed a hand on his arm. "She may not have said the words yet, Chase, but I'm certain that it's there." With one last sympathetic look, she took the charts and walked back to her office, leaving Chase to contemplate his situation with Cameron on his own.
Chase lounged on his couch, flipping through the channels as he waited for his food to come. He and Cameron hadn't had any plans for the night; and in all honesty, he wanted some time by himself because he was afraid he'd push Cameron beyond her level of comfort if he talked to her tonight. And the last thing he wanted to do was to push Cameron away. So, this was why he was in his apartment by himself, trying to come to terms with the fact that Cameron just wasn't ready to tell him if she loved him – he wasn't as certain as Cuddy was that Cameron did love him.
The doorbell rang, and Chase padded across the wooden floor in his bare feet and walked towards the door with his wallet in hand.
"How much do I owe you again?" Chase asked as he opened the door.
Chase immediately stopped taking out his money when he saw that it was not delivery man on the other side but Cameron. Cameron gave him a tiny smile at being mistaken for the delivery man before a sheepish, slightly embarrassed look settled on her face. Cameron stood there nervously, having finally mustered up the courage to come here after silently debating with herself in her car for an hour.
"Uh, hi," Cameron said finally.
"Hi," Chase replied, not sure of what else to say. He was still surprised to see Cameron on his doorstep. It reminded him of another time she'd waited nervously outside on his doorstep, but he didn't want to get his hopes up.
Cameron fished something from her coat pocket and handed it to Chase. Chase looked down and recognized her fortune from last night. He looked up at her, confused.
Cameron took a deep breath. "I can't pretend that I haven't been hurt before, but it wouldn't be fair to you if my fears of getting hurt again keep me from being involved with you one hundred percent."
"Okay…" Chase said, not really sure where Cameron was going with her speech – well, he had an inkling but he didn't want to risk making false assumptions.
Cameron continued. "I care about you a lot, Chase. You've been patient and kind. And sometimes, I'll catch myself wondering how I got to be so lucky to have found someone like you."
Chase made a move to interrupt her, wanting to say that he was the lucky one, not her; but Cameron put up a hand and stopped him from saying the words.
"No, let me finish. If I stop now, I won't be able to go on. You took a job at Princeton-Plainsboro again for me. You don't say a word when I hesitate in taking this relationship one step further." Cameron paused, unable to look Chase in the eye. "Do you remember what your fortune cookie said?"
"Yeah. Something about if an idea is worth having, it's worth having twice."
Cameron nodded. Taking a deep breath, she looked up to meet his gaze. There was a slight twinkle to her eyes. "It's Tuesday, Chase. And I love you."