Detour (a House/Cameron Round Robin Fanfic)

A/N: Hi everyone. The story that follows was written by a group of extremely talented House/Cameron writers on the LiveJournal community lines_crossed. It is a Round Robin fic, which means each author wrote their section, building on the one before, but taking the plot in whatever way their imaginations led them. I am only one of the twelve authors, but I've been elected to post it here for your reading pleasure. Each section is credited to its respective author, and credit for the title goes to my good friend athousandsmiles. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it.


It's a beautiful day in July, much too nice to be ill, but unsurprisingly the clinic at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital is overrun with sick people. And understaffed. And hot. Much more surprising is the fact that Dr. Gregory House is in the thick of the chaos, leaning nonchalantly against the nurses' desk. The two women staffing the desk huddle in the corner furthest away from him, whispering and glancing. How dare he loiter and not help. Someone should really call Dr. Cuddy. Someone other than them, of course. They aren't about to risk drawing his wrath.

To say the man is ignoring them would imply that he acknowledges their existence. Which, of course, he does not. He is holding his right arm out in front of him, his hand in a pincher grasp, forefinger about an inch above his thumb. One of his eyes is closed and he's peering intently through the gap between his thumb and forefinger at the patients in the waiting area. Suddenly he brings the two digits together and a smirk appears on his face.

"What the hell are you doing?"Dr. James Wilson asks, approaching unnoticed from an exam room where he, unlike his friend, has been earning his keep.

"Squishing their heads." House laughs somewhat maniacally, and brings his fingers together again.

An exasperated look appears on Wilson's face and he opens his mouth to speak, before giving his head a quick shake and rolling his eyes. Never mind.

"What are you doing down here?" he asks instead.


"No, you're not."

"No, I'm not," House agrees genially.

"Then what…"

Just then, the outside door opens and an attractive, young brunette stumbles in, loaded down with a purse, a laptop bag, and a carryout tray containing four paper coffee cups. Blowing her long hair out of her eyes, she starts toward the elevator, unaware that she's being watched.

House holds his hand up, interrupting Wilson's attempt at questioning him, speed limps towards her, and grabs her elbow.

Cameron nearly drops her coffees in her surprise at being accosted on her way to work. Recovering, she looks up and meets the piercing blue eyes of her employer. "Dr. House, what are you…"

"Need you. Now," he says, pulling her off in the direction opposite the one she was heading.


They find themselves in an unoccupied examining room, which is refreshingly cool against their skins. Cameron gingerly rubs her elbow and fixes him with what she hopes is a look of disapproval. "What do you want, House?"

House leans forward so that his tall frame towers even more dauntingly over her. "I want . . . you."

Cameron's face crimsons, and her stomach jolts unnaturally. "What?" she manages to sputter, as her purse tips seemingly of its own accord out of her arms, spilling its contents everywhere.

House smirks. "Gosh, you're so easy!" Before she can retaliate with what he is sure will be a pathetic comeback, he adds, "As the resident doormat of my team, I was thinking you could do my clinic hours for me." He blinks his eyes rapidly, trying to simulate an imploring look.

For an instant she is lost in his baby blues, an irresistible pull bridging the already small gap between them. And then his words register. "What do you mean I'm a doormat?" she demands, setting the rest of her contents on the examining table. She crosses her arms against her chest in full defense mode.

House shrugs and redistributes the weight in his legs, favoring his injured one more. "You're so eager to please everybody that you'd do just about anything within the law to get what you think you need."

Cameron's temper flares at this insolence of this arrogant man, yet she finds herself inexplicably fascinated by him as well. What is the reason for his hostility? Why must he analyze everyone's motives? Why is House . . . House? "That makes me a people pleaser, not a pushover," she counters.

"To-may-toe. To-mah-toe."

"One can be assertive and be nice to people," she protests.

"That's true," he concedes, "But you're not."

"I can be assertive when I want to."

House scoffs, the corners of his mouth turning up into a cocky simper. "Puh-lease. I've seen coma patients more assertive than you.

"Now, will you take over in the clinic for me? I was supposed to start working an hour ago." He points at his watch to illustrate his point.

Cameron fights back tears of frustration and embarrassment. Instead of telling him that he could have used the last hour to work instead of searching for her, she bends down to collect her purse—and her thoughts.

"Fine. I'll just get the brown-nosing wombat to do my bidding." He makes to leave and is surprised she doesn't stop him. He's halfway out the door when she finally calls to him.

"Wait." She stands and faces him, confidence brimming from her slight frame. "How much are you willing to bet?"

House blinks in confusion. "Bet on what?"

A coy smile tugs on her lips. "On me."


"Betting on you?" House isn't sure he's heard that correctly. After all, there are a lot of nurses bustling around carrying charts. Well, if two counts as 'a lot'.

"That's right," Cameron answers, not backing down. "I can break the rules just as well as you can, I just never showed it because I'm not an some people," she finishes with a devilish gleam in her eye.

For a second, House is taken aback, but he quickly recovers.

"So moral indignation really is jealousy with a halo, huh?"

"Right. I'm so green with envy over your A-list misanthropy that I can't keep from being a saint."

He considers. If she's going to take off the halo for him, there has to be something in it for her. And not -

"This doesn't mean I'm going to come over all sugary-sweet," he warns. "I can't pull the maple-sugar act off very well. Never did like Canada, eh."

"And if you did I think Cuddy would check to make sure time wasn't running backward," Cameron counters. "If I lose, I do your clinic hours for the next week. If I win, I get the same five hours of your time, to spend in your company as I see fit."

House groans theatrically at this statement.

"No, no, and no! Freshness is key in salads, differential diagnoses, and ideas! Didn't we already try this once?"

Cameron steps closer, as much as to keep the discussion from attracting anyone else's attention as to throw House off balance from the unexpected proximity. Lowering her voice, she says in an earnest tone, "One time we didn't have fun, and one time we did. The time we did, I didn't hear any mention of cripples or canes, just monster trucks. So what are you afraid of? If I can break rules, you can venture outside your comfort zone. Do what all good cynics do, House - question."

Stepping back, she ends the discussion with a final word. "But out of good faith, I'll do your clinic hours today; spare the brown-nosing wombat from having to scrub his face."


Cameron arrives at the elevator. Is she fuming? Mad? Scared? A mix of it all. House has forced her to take actions. Well, indirectly. He did not see her move coming. She's willing to do some work here.

She passes Cuddy's office while looking for files at the nurse's station. If anyone can help her, Cuddy is it. After all, there is also a 'girl code'. But does she need Cuddy as a friend? Or Cuddy, the Dean that will make House stay in the limits, on his very own terms of decency?

She decides not to dwell too much on that now. First, the patients. But as she walks towards a patient, an idea springs. It's a weak one, but a good start to show House she plans on going for her A game by starting to break the most important rules: his rules. "Brenda, please page Dr. House in the clinic." She turns around to make eye contact with said nurse. "Until he actually is here."


Cuddy can't believe it. Actually, she can. House is being paged to the clinic but, of course, he's not going to the clinic. She takes her lab coat and leaves her office, going to House's. "Dr. House, clinic. Now."

"But I se..."

"You s-what? We're going down, now. And if I see a single one of your ducklings playing 'I-impersonate-my-boss', you're doing scut work for 2 weeks!"

House has no other choice than to obey, and follows Cuddy downstairs.

As they arrive, both he and Cuddy nervously look for Nurse Brenda.

"What is the problem?" Cuddy asks.

"There is a patient for Dr. House in room 2."

Cuddy quirks an eyebrow and motions for House to go in. They open the door and a woman with a child is sitting in the exam room. "You asked for Dr. House?"

"Oh yes!" The woman was very agitated…happily agitated. "Oh. Dr. House, thank you so much! You saved my son's life! Here." She shoves two tickets at him to see monster trucks. "Your assistant Dr. Cameron said it's been a while you had a mind for challenges and told me all about your hobby here."

House took the cards but did not know what to say exactly. So Cuddy nudged him.
"Er ... thank you…Miss."

"No thank you Dr. House. You saved our family. And you and Dr. Cameron enjoy!"
The woman leaves, accompanied by a speechless and clueless Cuddy.

As he closes the door of the exam room with a quizzical look, House sees Cameron near the elevators. Looking at him with an evil grin. His evil grin.

Rule number 1: do not embarrass your boss in front of his boss…


"You have to take Cameron," Wilson exclaims, after listening to House's vague retelling of the events of the day, and feeling like he had whiplash from trying to follow along.

"No, I don't. Just 'cause she proved she can be a little manipulative, doesn't mean she won the bet," he answers, muttering "yet" under his breath when he finishes.

"I heard that. You... You want her to win the bet." Wilson stands from behind his desk with a knowing smile. "It's good, House. Girls are good. Spending time with girls is good. I'm pretty sure you're immune to cooties at your age. Besides, I don't even like monster trucks."

"Since when do you not like monster trucks?" House asks, ignoring the jibe about girls and cooties.

"Since... forever." Wilson rolls his eyes at the look of betrayal on House's face, and continues, "I've been cheating on you with Cuddy, taking her to museums and art shows. You know, culture."

"Culture is something you grow in a petri dish," House scoffs. "But if you'd rather spend time with the devil, I'll just find someone else who prefers my company. Like Carl from bookkeeping."

"His name is Kevin. And the only other person who prefers your company is Cameron."

"Whatever," House replies, one hand on the doorknob. "By the way, hope you've insured what's left of your testicles. Cuddy the she-devil demands a sacrifice after mating." With that, he limps out of Wilson's office and heads for his own to do some thinking.


House sinks into the Aeron chair, massaging his leg with the heel of his hand. The pain spikes as the day progresses. Bright July sunlight swamps his office and severs his features. He locates sunglasses in his briefcase and puts them on, then scoots back in the chair, closing the blinds with a snap. Tables, chairs, the white board, the medical tomes, the oversized ball, the phrenology head -- everything ordinary dims behind the tinted lenses. Darkness is morphine. A cloak dulling the blade of his brain. For good measure, a dose of Vicodin. His thoughts are loopholes and red tape. I need a case.

Instead, he has a backlog of paperwork. And a sophomoric bet with Cameron. The thought of it exhausts him. There are times when he tires of the games he sets in motion, the intricately crocheted schemes and shenanigans that pass for puzzles on slow days. Reclining, legs propped on his desktop, he closes his eyes.

He wakes to the sound of the door sliding open and the swish of her trousers. Cameron. A slim shape, poised in the center of the room. For a moment, he studies her form: A Degas dancer without the tutu. She crosses the distance between them, cocking her head and scrutinizing his dark glasses with the kind of mild inquisitiveness reserved for his antics.

"I can't see. Differential diagnoses?" He rises from the comfort of the chair and grabs his cane.

"Could be Ray Charles syndrome, if you only had a keyboard. And ebony skin." She reaches up, removing his sunglasses as she speaks. Her hands brush the planes of his face and the faint smell of hand lotion lingers. He catches her wrist, wresting the eyewear from her. His fingers are handcuffs: lock, unlock. To hell with the glasses. It is what it is: An excuse to touch her. A bone he allows himself.

"About the bet. You said to bet on you. Already did that. I gambled on you when I hired you. The question is, did it pay off?"

"Since I still work for you, I assume that it did."

"Since you still work for me, why do you need to hide behind a bet?"

"I'm not hiding. You already know how I feel about you. I like you."

Three simple words, two combinations:

Bet on me.

I like you.

"The bet? I thought it would engage you," she adds, pulling her hand from his clutch.

"Forget about the bet!" His voice is louder than he intended and laced with an edge. She doesn't even flinch. "The bet is boring. Five hours to pick you apart or have my way with you? Less boring. Besides, if you believed me when I said you were a pushover, a people-pleaser, all that proves is that you're naive and malleable."

She smiles and shrugs, stepping around him and walking over to his desk, where she throws his files into his briefcase and snaps it shut, and then removes his blue button-down from the back of the chair.

"Here." She hands him both the shirt and the briefcase. "You ready?"

"Depends. If by 'ready' you mean we've moved from foreplay to the Big Bang, then count me in."

"You and me. Figured we'd hit the carnival. I hear that the main attraction includes double-jointed siamese twins on the high wire. I'm sure you saw them in last month's Playboy."

Her voice brushes his skin. It's almost as good as skin on skin.

The differential is immaterial.


She doesn't know how she gets him to leave.

There's less of an exchange of words, even as he takes his things from her, and they fall into step down to the elevator. Her mind is spinning and she's trying to come to terms with a few things too late.

But outside, they're quiet.

The parking lot is too still, the flow of traffic unfaithful to the time of day. Then again, she thinks, she's never left this early. But cars are spread and pocketed with empty spaces. There's an exchange of students coming and going, cutting through to head deeper into the city for a break. House coughs, tense, and shuffles forward with a tight grip on his cane.

There's no particular sense of what's really going on; between him and her, it's always been this odd display of intention and then nothing. They don't have a set pattern. Here, they feel like two nervous teenagers, drifting in between what's been set into motion and what still hasn't been addressed. She's never been this impulsive, as it's been smarter to keep herself aware and frank around House and whatever facets of their relationship decide to show.

"You're not backing out," he mutters. It's not a question or an observation, but there's clear discomfort. It doesn't mean the same thing anymore.

She hides her surprise though, her car coming into view. It's in the corner of the lot; she was early this morning, settled still in this midweek haze she's still facing from last week. But she ignores the feeling.

"I'm not backing out."

She looks up at him, frowning. Her mouth opens, but she stops herself. She knows better, she thinks. Engaging at his level is never a smart idea and it's not about him either – she knows herself. She's too personal, too private, and any of this is going to come back to her.

In the back of her mind, too, there's that date, the one date where she's carried her embarrassment from ever since. That was impulsive. And, if she's honest, she never thought he'd even agree to that. Or this. It's an odd memory to return to. House is House. She just doesn't know what to expect.

Then again, she's really stepped away from that too. She knows she has. There's nothing left to transition over or in between; the frustrating part about all of this is that he pulls her back, back down to her level and when she knows, know she could really say something – he pushes.

Cameron bites her lip, "Are you?"

He says nothing, shrugging. House doesn't look at her either; his gaze downcast as he sets himself into a frown.

"I'm not backing out."

She's quiet. So, she thinks, this is really going to happen. There's a level of anticipation that she can't quite understand. Her throat tightens, her fingers are too tense. It's not the place for it though, she's beginning to think. She agreed to do this. She agreed to do this. But what is this - there's no bet, there are no walls, and this is quickly becoming something else.

It's just to make sure.

"All right," she murmurs then. She reaches forward, letting her fingers brush against his hand. They slide slowly over his palm and along his wrist as she steps closer. She can feel him then, watch her even as the air starts to shift.

Her gaze stays straight ahead.


And so she walks straight ahead. On to that corner spot, where her car stays sullen and lonely.

She doesn't remember anything from their earlier conversation regarding whose car should be used. Still, behind her, the thumping of his cane follows and resonates through the parking lot.

Their "I'm not backing out" rings in her ears suddenly, as she takes her steps forward and finally arrives next to her car. The sound behind her slows down but stops not.

"I'm driving," Cameron calls out. She isn't sure why she does that; it's not like House can drive it. You know, with him being a cripple and all—

House seems to be as bewildered. He stays silent at first, frowning at her as he rounds the back of the car.

It's slow to come but the scoffing appears at long last. "Who would want to drive this junk anyway?"

Cameron ignores him, unlocking the doors of the vehicle with a swift turn of the key. She glides inside and fastens her seatbelt, as House takes his place on the passenger's seat.

Her hands move to grip on to the steer. "Buckle up," she says, turning her face halfway towards House.

The frown is there again, although less visible. He doesn't have a rejoinder coming with that, though, reaching for the leather belt and slowly fastening it around his body. She knows he's eyeing her all the while but watching his cane limping between his legs is, at this time, preferable.

There's a click and the cane is then unhandled no more. Cameron looks at the fists that are now occupying it before averting her eyes to the owner's face. He's looking back at her still and she's wondering what she should say—or if she should say. Things.

He makes it easier for her. "I'll run the clock," he points out, tapping at his watch. Something she has said earlier about 5 hours suddenly makes her palms sweaty, and so she turns the ignition key—to turn on the AC.

The cool air brushes past them as she maneuvers the car out of the lot. Away from the hospital. To the carnival.

They haven't been on the road for—what it seems to be—one minute when House mutters next to her. "Where is this carnival, anyway?" he says, as if he's reading her mind.

She takes her time, watching the smooth asphalt before her instead. "You'll see," Cameron answers briefly.

Her reply vaporizes away with the AC, leaving them freezing and rigid once again. The silence brings her to contemplating. She has been so good today but she is, too, curious. The rear-view mirror hangs there, inviting and mocking at her at the same time.

She gives in and looks up.

House's eyes are there already, waiting for hers. Cameron hears a quiet gasp that seems to be coming from her and quickly switches her view back to the road.

Beside her, House is fidgeting. And smirking, maybe. She never checks again to make sure. The objects in mirror are indeed larger than they appear.

She switches on the radio instead if only to have something in tune. There's no music coming out of the speakers; only a shrill voice of a male host. Hurried and out of breath, he reports, "—by this windy weather. A tree has fallen, everybody! Blocking roads, wrecking a car and hurting three people inside it and all. Stay with us—"


"Turn off," House instructs quickly. "There."

She frowns as she follows the line of his finger to the road up ahead.


"Do you seriously think that I won't grab the wheel?" he offers disbelievingly. "We have a better chance of not dying in a flaming wreck if you just do as you're told."

Cameron obeys, flicking the blinker on and then taking the road on her right. She learnt early on that you need to pick your battles with House because, as far as you're willing to go, he'll always take that one step further. It has to be worth it. After a brief silence, she states the obvious.

"We're heading in the wrong direction."

"Wrong direction for what? For the carnival? For the World's Biggest Ball of Twine? Where's your sense of adventure, Cameron? Maybe this is the right direction and we just don't know it." He waggles his eyebrows at her briefly before pursing his mouth in disgust. "Ugh. I never should have stolen those fortune cookies from Wilson at lunch. They always seem to make me philosophical. Confucius say, man who spit in wind get own back."

The tiny snicker slips out before she can stop it and he rolls his eyes. "We're not going anywhere near a car wreck and a tree across the road. I could see your Good Samaritan buttons being pushed and I'm not wasting part of my five hours sitting in the car while you get out and 'tend'." He drags the last word out like it makes his mouth feel dirty. "Let the paramedics scrape up the roadkill; it's what they get paid for. I didn't escape the Tenth Circle of Hell only to be dragged back because your conscience can't shut up."

"There's a Tenth Circle now?" she asks, amused by his impassioned rant.

"Dante never had to work in a free clinic," he asserts matter-of-factly before glancing over at her slyly. "Want to go back to my place and start booking a place in the Second Circle?"

It takes her a moment to recall that the Second Circle was reserved to punish those overcome by lust.


Cameron gives a tiny scoff at his implication. It's nothing he hasn't said before just to get a rise out of her or to study her reaction. But suddenly she feels a bit of relief that even though she's got her hands on the wheel he's placed himself in the metaphorical driver's seat. Playing games with House wasn't her forte, she'd learned well enough to play along but she'd left attempting to be the game master behind her some time ago. But in a moment of desperation to prove to him that she was no longer the person he'd hired; pushover, people-pleaser and her favorites, naïve and malleable, as he so eloquently put it, she'd taken a chance even she wasn't prepared for. Finding herself driving with no direction, literally and metaphorically.

"Is that where we're headed? Your place?" she asks with nonchalant confidence, looking forward, suddenly aware that she's gripping the wheel much tighter than necessary.

She feels his eyes on her, studying her, as she waits for his answer and it's finally what unnerves her. It's not until she has the courage to meet them then look away that he offers, "Detour," flatly. She knows he's reading her every move as they continue aimlessly down the country road. It's uncomfortable and familiar but it makes her pulse quicken in a way that she'd never want to admit.

"Disappointed?" his eyes still trained on her.

She feels the blood rush up her neck to flush her cheeks and she can't believe she's letting him do this to her, again. She can't hide from him. She never could and she knows it. If she lies, he'll know and will only serve to prolong a game that she can't win.

"Maybe I am," surprisingly comes out with a casual shrug, like it's somehow an epiphany even to her, but it's only a vain attempt to keep him from winning so easily. That is if his winning is defined by her answering yes, which she's still uncertain of. Then she hides the mental shake of her head to clear the manipulative haze from her thoughts with renewed determination to end his game simply by not playing.

A breath she was unaware was trapped in her chest releases when his eyes fall from hers and with both hands fingering his cane, he taps it against the floor of her car as they approach an intersection requiring them to stop.

"Left means no and right means yes," he states cryptically as the car slows. Cameron only takes a moment, biting carefully on her bottom lip, then feels a rush of adventure wash over her when their direction reveals her choice.


Cameron knows that House intentionally put her on the spot. She knows she has to make a choice, and do it quickly. The light won't stay red forever. Luckily, or not, this is one of those intersections where you can't turn right on red. She knows that the sign saying so wouldn't have stopped House, but she's painfully aware that she's not House. And it's as good an excuse as any.

She's sure it won't help to ask House to explain what he meant by turning right meaning 'yes' and turning left meaning 'no'. 'Yes' to what? Going to his place? To the carnival? But then, what does 'no' mean? What was that about a detour? If she asks him any of these questions, he's bound to give an answer that would confuse the situation even more. She won't try to get into his head. She'd get lost in that rat's maze he calls a brain, and might never get out.

So she has to decide what she wants. She wants to show that she's decisive. Whenever she has been in the past, taken control of a situation and acted independently, there was always a glimmer of admiration in House's bright blue eyes. She yearns to see that approval again.

Cameron looks at the street sign, Gibson Street. Has she ever been on it before? What's to the right? To the left?

The light changes, and she turns right. "Mind if we make a stop along the way?" she asks and out of the corner of her eye she catches a look of surprise on his face.

They drive several blocks before she catches sight of the building she remembers. Once they reach it, she pulls into the crowded parking lot. She finds a spot to park and turns off the ignition. As she opens the door and starts to get out, she turns back to House and asks, "Are you coming?"

The look of approval she desires is there, accompanied by one of total amusement. "I wouldn't miss this for the world."


She understands how she ends up here.

Right feels right. Her mouth curls up in a ghost of a smile as she laughs at her own insight. Of course he catches the smile, when has he ever missed anything?

"Think that this is still a game?" His voice takes on a sardonic tone.

She doesn't smile as she waits for him to catch up to her, "Isn't it always a game? You bet, I bet and it doesn't matter who wins or who loses. It's about the game."

"When did you become so cynical?"

"I learn fast."

They arrive at the front door and her breath catches slightly. She isn't sure she is quite ready for whatever this brings. She understands that she started this but she feels a bit out of her depth.

Just a little bit.

Beside her she feels him move closer; closing the gap between them. Cameron scarcely has a moment to pull in a breath before his lips touches hers. A whisper of a kiss. So soft and warm and fleeting, she thinks she simply imagined it. But then his mouth touches hers again and her eyelids flutter close. This is no dream. This is what she thinks she's waited for.

House's lips press to hers for only a heartbeat before they simultaneously opened their mouths. His tongue slips past her teeth and sweeps over hers. His free hand cups her cheek as his body melds boldly to hers. Their clothes, the moist skin, the heat that arcs between them does a wicked number on her insides. Her entire body is settling into sensory overload. His tongue delves deeper, teasing hers, tangling with it in a sensual dance that leaves her molten and damn near singed to the core.

She pulls away reluctantly, forcing her eyes to open. She wants to keep them closed and stay in the wonderful bubble of emotions he helped to create. But reality is always calling and this game isn't over.

"Are you ready for what's next?"


"I'm ready for more of the same," he says, pulling her back to him. She nearly allows it, how can she not when it's what she's wanted for so long? But somehow she finds the strength within herself to raise her right hand and flatten her palm to his chest.

"Later," she promises, before turning and pushing the door open. "I think you're going to want to see this." She doesn't have to look back to know he's following. She can sense a change in the air and in the dynamic between them. It's as if her seemingly nonchalant choice of right, of yes, has impressed him. Impressed him enough to allow her some small measure of control. He's willing to let her take the lead; the kiss was his concession. But not his capitulation - This is only an experiment, if she screws up, she's out of chances. This, she knows.

"What is this place?" he asks.

"You'll see."

His long legs allow him to quickly catch up to her and he rests his left hand low on her back, hooking his thumb through her belt loop, his fingers brushing lower. She smiles to herself at his sudden willingness to touch her. She imagines his hand in the same place, but without the thin material of her pants to separate them and she feels the heat once again threatening to overtake her.

They are getting closer to their destination. There are more and more people, passing them in both directions, and the noise level increases with every step they take.

"It's just through there," she says, gesturing towards the double doors at the end of the corridor. He drops his hand from her back and in two long strides, he's at the door and pushing it open. He enters without waiting for her to catch up and she can hear him whistle, long and low, at the sight in front of him.


House surveys the room, and then his eyes come to rest on Cameron's smug face. "This is so not the carnival," he remarks dryly.

They are in a spacious but dimly lit room that has been converted into a theater. A platform made from crude plywood serves as the stage, and battered, stained folding chairs outline a lopsided aisle down the center. Some people stand around, talking quietly amongst themselves, while others perch uncomfortably on their seats. A couple squeezes around House and Cameron, who are still blocking the entrance, and gives them a curious stare.

If House is to guess, they have arrived either during the intermission or just in time for the beginning of the program. He hopes it's neither. He hopes they've missed the god-awful show altogether.

Cameron supplies him with an answer. "Oh good. We're in time to see the second act."

"Like hell we are." House is on the verge of yelling, whatever romantic inclinations he might have had swept away by his impatience and annoyance. "What are we doing here?"

"I promised my cousin Maggie that I would come see her perform if I wasn't too busy." She provides two tickets as physical proof. "I didn't think you'd want to see it, or I would've brought it up sooner."

House fixes her with an incredulous look. "Of all the places you could have taken me—a strip club, your place, a strip club, some seedy bar, a strip club—you choose a backwaters theater?"


Her "yes" says it all. It lets him know that she's still in charge and still expects him to enjoy whatever madness she thrusts upon him. It's strangely a turn-on.

"We'll leave as soon as it's over," she promises. "I won't make you meet Maggie or do anything remotely sociable."

He grunts his assent, and they make their way to two vacant chairs. House wriggles around, trying to find a comfortable spot, but the chairs weren't made for comfort. They were obviously designed to keep their occupants wide awake and peevish.

"What is this play, anyways?" he mutters.

Cameron's grin is far too nefarious for his liking. "You'll see."

"Goodie. More surprises."

The dim lights dim even further, if at all possible, and the second act begins. The play itself isn't half bad—it's one of Neil Simon's early works—but the acting is horrendous. House finds himself snickering, not at the witty dialogue, but at the execution of the lines. The worst part is that no one, save Cameron and himself, seems to notice or care that the play is a complete desecration of Simon's genius.

About twenty minutes into the show, House leans over until his lips are brushing her ear. "Cameron," he whispers, "You are soooo going to pay for this."

Cameron's not quite sure what his punishment will entail, but she hopes it involves more of their earlier endeavors. "Make it good," she murmurs in a dulcet tone. He does a double take, and noticing that her expression is sincere, grins in return.

Thirty minutes in, House reaches into his pocket and pulls out his phone.

"What are you doing?" Cameron hisses, though she is secretly relieved at the interruption from the atrocious performance going on around her.

"You'll see," House whispers, a smirk adorning his scraggily features.


It is one of those phrases which, with House, always means "Danger! Do Not Push This Big Honking Red Button!" For that reason, Cameron leans over to look, only to be poked away by House.

House's phone lights up, and he sits back and waits. Sure enough, in about half a minute their section of the theater is treated to a 20-second clip of Call Me When You're Sober. The man behind House kicks his chair, earning a solid death glare in response.

"And now that I've thoroughly annoyed our part of the crowd, I think it's time to go."

"House! It's only ten minutes to intermission!"

"Which will make it harder for us to leave when it happens!" House whispers back, grasping her arm and dragging her out of her seat.

That line sets her radar off, but she knows better than to cause a commotion while they're leaving. She walks down the aisle toward the side door; going through it, she turns expecting to find him just behind her. Instead, all she sees is the door swinging shut soundlessly. She fumes, wondering just what kind of rabbit he's going to pull out of the hat now.


House quickly sneaks up behind the double doors that leads into the little hall, that itself leads to the big commercial hall. It's all dark there. He hears Cameron approach by the furious thuds on the carpet. She pushes the doors and passes by. Before she can go through the second set of doors, House grabs her waist from the back, turns her around and pins her against the wall. He forcefully rushes his hands up and down her blouse, riffling it out of her pants on the way, he sensually moves her leg around his own waist.

Cameron has no time to think about his bad leg. She's too busy being taunted by House's lips licking hers and kissing them repeatedly. It isn't until he grabs her butt and pushes her even more against the wall to not loose balance that she sighs. How often had she dreamt of House and herself against something. Of feeling the rush he gives her every time he looks deeply in her eyes. She craves him. His sweetness and his bitterness at the same time. She knows he has both. He hides one by the other, but he should know by now that she knows better. But this isn't good. This isn't how she wants it. Well at some point, but not for a first.

She slightly pushes him back. "Now believe me, this is my top fantasy, but I don't think we should be annoying the crowd inside here anymore than you already have."

She thought he'd tell her she was backing out. She thought he'd tell her how weak she was to not stop thinking for a moment. She thought of a lot of things, but what he says isn't any of what she had in mind.

"By top fantasy, you mean me, right? Because there is no way the wombat ever pulls this off."

A smile on her lips. Her hand in his. And gone they were.


The last time Cameron went to a carnival she was ten. She consumed an elephant ear, a small cloud of cotton candy, a bucket of popcorn, and several sodas. And then she rode the Witches Wheel, which spun her sideways and upside down and round and round with nothing but a few metal bars and momentum holding her in place. Her brother told her later that he could hear her laughing from the ground below for the entire ride. She only remembers feeling deliriously happy and a little bit sick all at the same time, wishing the ride could go on and on. The giant wheel stirred the air and made it flow over her body as if the wind was softly kissing her skin. If she could have, she would have peeled off her clothes so she could have that touch of wind on every part of her.

She rode it three more times after that, and then she ran out of tickets.

The feeling of House's hand holding hers is akin to that. She can only wonder what further skin to skin contact would be like; how much more intense the pleasure of feeling all of him on all of her without barriers. Anticipation builds, her stomach flips and loops around like the Witches Wheel, and her panties dampen further as her imaginations kicks into overdrive.

He releases her hand as they arrive at the car, and the loss is immediate. Ride over, she thinks. But only for now, she promises herself as she slides behind the steering wheel.

Only for now.


He's been here before.

So has she. So have they.

It's all so similar, yet so different at the same time. Her grips on the steering wheel; his on the cane. She driving; he occupying the passenger's seat. It's happened before. Not so long ago. Recently.

And the road is familiar too.

But he feels like rolling back the carpet he just laid before. The odd-looking stop sign, crooked in a funny angle (at least it's funny to him), which had stood on his right earlier, now waves at him from the left side of the road.

They're going back.

He glances sideways, watching Cameron as she's focusing her eyes on the tarmac. And he finds himself rectifying: They're not going back; she's driving them back.

To where? Well, he's not the one sitting on the driver's seat, is he? He's just as oblivious as… As anyone who's not sitting on the driver's seat, that is.

He needs to find a better metaphor.

"Don't forget to—" It is House.

"Take the alternative route. Got it," Cameron replies from beside him.

At that, he frowns. She was quick just now and this, for now, for him, still counts as unexpected. Because there are tables he requires to fill once in a while. And there are the others, in which she is clustered. And she's not supposed to be behind the wheel. There's not supposed to be a carnival. There's no need of a theater.

She's not supposed to drive them back.

But they're here anyway. And he's figuring out still, staring at Cameron instead. It's the blush on her cheek that gives her away, letting him know that she's, after all, aware. And he likes to believe that this is why his eyes stay, tracing the lines of her nose. Mapping out the dull edges of her forehead. Circling the brunette waves.

But he doesn't notice the ever slowing pace. He should; he knows he should. Yet he doesn't. And before he realizes it, he has stopped. They have stopped.

And she's quick again, meeting his eyes with a swift turn of her head. The short intake of his breath becomes an indication of his... Unripeness.

He thinks she's smiling too. Maybe, maybe not. Besides, he's already looking away.

Around him, around them, it's the same difference all over again. He's exhaling slowly.

They have arrived.


His townhouse stands mere feet from them and all that it implies. It would be easy to let her inside, into his home and his bed. God knows he wants that. It was what comes after that terrifies him because Cameron will never be a one night stand for him. The idea of letting her into his life, into him, was what kept him motionless in his car seat, hand poised, frozen, over the seat belt release. To cover his momentary indecision and to keep her from seeing things he isn't quite ready to reveal yet, he turns to her in the driver's seat, giving her the option of remaining in control of what is, for him, rapidly spinning into entropy. Even though he'd made the suggestion before and then had kissed her, some part of his mind had thought it to be a bit of a game, one where she's the first to realise that they are going to cross an invisible boundary and pull back, leaving him smug and safe. That doesn't seem to be happening.

"Bold move, Dr. Cameron. Some might even say aggressive. What if I'm not that kind of girl? This is our first date and you haven't even bought me dinner. My mother taught me better than that because who's going to buy the cow when I'm giving away the milk for free?"

She smiles back at him, looking calmer than she has a right to and, he suspects, seeing clear through him. Damn it, she needs to stop doing that.

"Which one of us is the cow in that particular scenario?" she asks, continuing without waiting for an answer. "Not that it matters because my mother taught me that if I want something, I should go after it."

She leaves it there, the unspoken "and you're what I want" hanging in the air and practically making the atmosphere crackle between them. All he can think about right now is kissing her.


He finally opens his seat belt, gets out of the car, leads her to his apartment, and opens the door. Once inside he turns to her, still eager to kiss her.

He's kissed her before. But this time neither of them has an ulterior motive. Her soft, sweet lips part at the slightest pressure from his tongue and allow it to dance with hers. He pulls her closer, and runs his large hands along the sides of her slender body.

He lifts one hand to deftly open the buttons of her blouse. As his long fingers brush the thin fabric, he thinks about the robot he'd used to perform a similar task, but this time it's real. This time when she gasps as he touches the soft skin above the curve of her breasts, he can feel the warmth of her breath.

He smiles when he sees that her bra is similar to the one he'd imagined. He unhooks it to release the small but perfect breasts.

Her sighs of pleasure as he traces each nipple with a finger spur him on. He finds that the area around her naval is ticklish, so he moves lower, unbuttoning her slacks and slowly sliding the zipper down.

Cameron's hands aren't idle either. He pauses to let her pull his T-shirt over his head, to run her hands over his bare chest. Then he coaxes her slacks over her narrow hips, and she begins to open his jeans. They both know there's no turning back now. Whatever reservations either of them have had over the years have been discarded.

Once they've shed their clothes, they survey each other and are pleased with what they see. House reaches out a hand and leads Cameron to the bedroom, then pulls her close. As their bodies touch, their growing passion blocks out all rational thought.

Consequences be damned, there is only the two of them in this moment in time.

They find themselves in the bed, urgently groping, passionately kissing, their only desire to become one. As they join at last, all the barriers between them disappear.


From behind closed eyelids, Cameron can sense the room the room getting brighter as the sun gradually ascends in the sky. She's not sleeping; in fact, she hasn't slept at all. She's always had trouble sleeping in beds not her own. The pillows are never fluffy enough, or the blankets are scratchy, or the mattress has lumps in unfamiliar places. It's always something. This time, however, it's not a matter of being physically uncomfortable. Instead, it's an emotional disquiet. Yesterday was, hands down, the most unusual day of her life. One of the best days, to be sure, but so improbable that she spent the hours since House fell asleep opening her eyes every fifteen minutes or so, just to verify that he was really there beside her.

Opening them yet again, she finds the room has lightened enough that she can see it clearly for the first time. It's just as she would have imagined his bedroom, had she ever done so - and of course, she had. Cluttered, but not unclean; masculine, but not in an off-putting way; it's a room she could come to feel very at home in.

There's danger in that thought and she recognizes it immediately. It's unlikely that she'll ever spend enough time in this room to feel at home. In fact, it's doubtful that she'll ever see it again after she leaves it this morning. Yesterday was an anomaly. To expect it to be anything else is sheer folly.

If she were smart, she would creep out of bed right now, gather up every bit of evidence that she had ever been here, and slip right out the door and back into real life. Because this isn't real; she doesn't belong here. Staying too long, being here when he awakens, will shatter whatever magical spell had allowed yesterday to happen.

She doesn't want that. She wants to be able to tuck their time away in a treasure chest in her memory so she can pull it out whenever she has a difficult time with being just his employee. She wants to be able to remind herself that, for one day at least, she was so much more.

Looking over at the man sleeping peacefully beside her, she tries to memorize every detail of him – the way one arm is slung across his forehead, the dark hair curling across his bare chest, the sound of his even breathing. Eventually, regretfully, she pulls back the blankets and, carefully so as not to awaken him, slips out of the bed.


There's something cold and damning about waking up alone, especially after a spontaneous copulation with a friend. Aquaintance. Coworker. Well, what does it matter what Cameron means to him? She's gone, the displaced blankets and lingering scent of her cologne the only evidence of her former presence. House knows better than to hope she has merely meandered into another corner of his apartment. His time spent with hookers has made him an expert at differentiating the one-night-stands from the meaningful trysts. And this has "one-night-stand" written all over it. Just as well. Making a hasty exit is what any sensible woman would do.

Since the young doctor started working for him, House often wondered why she liked him. Satirical and abrasive as he was, there was nothing to recommend him to the compassionate woman with the bothersome moral compass, unless it was his weathered looks and pathetic gimp. Often he tried to broach the subject with her, find out exactly what it was about him that was so appealing, but she dismissed his demand—except for the one time. Cameron's green eyes bore a hole in his skull as she tremulously declared that she liked him because he did what was right.

And now she clearly feels their love affair is a lapse of judgment on his part. Fine. Whatever.

House lets his anger, like his potent Vicodin, spread through his body, covering the pain until it resembles a dull ache. Vindictive thoughts of firing Cameron—or better yet, making her job a living hell—rattle his brain. His machinations eventually exhaust him, and he succumbs to a restless sleep. Even his dreams are angry, but House is strangely relieved: Anger prevents him from feeling anything else.


Dawn doesn't make anything better. The damned sunlight coming in through his damned blinds and hitting him full in the face just points out that everywhere else the world is doing just fine, but there are jet-black storm clouds gathering inside 221B Baker Street.

He rips the blanket off the bed and throws it across the room in a fit of rage rivaling anything he'd felt during the trouble with Tritter. So she thought of him as a lapse in judgment? He couldn't possibly be worse than a benighted wanna-be Brit with floppy hair. And besides, if she trusted him to do the right thing, then just what was this BS? Leaving without a word wasn't exactly the highest form of praise for his - anybody's - value set.

He looks around for his Vicodin, before he remembers that he left it in his coat, which was dropped carelessly somewhere in the hallway. He looks around for his cane, but even that small form of mercy is denied him as he spies it on the floor ten feet away. Stumbling out of bed, he sits down on the floor and slides across to the stick, using the bed as a stand. Vicodin first, then a quick clean-up, then more sleep.

When he wakes up, it is much later in the day. Judging by the shadows edging into his doorway, it's late afternoon. He's overslept for the first time in fifteen years. No doubt Cuddy has had a coronary and will have another one when he finally shows up, even if there is no case.

He checks the answering machine by reflex. One from Cuddy. Five from Wilson, acting as the she-devil's mouthpiece.

Nothing from Cameron. Not that he expected a peep out of her.

He dresses, grabs the keys to his bike, and swings open the door...and there she is, face-to-chest with him.


Standing outside House's door with a bag of bagels and cream cheese in her right hand and a cardboard carrier with two mocha frappacinos in her left, she suddenly feels like a little girl again. And not the little girl who rode the Witches Wheel with such abandon, but more like the little girl who spilled an entire bucket of paint on her parent's brand new car when she was eleven. It's like she's waiting to face whatever punishment will be doled out. Except her parents weren't nearly as formidable as House.

She's not even sure she can knock. Not because she has her hands full, but because fear has paralyzed her for the moment. Her peace offering suddenly seems foolish now that she's here on his threshold, uncertain of what lies in wait for her on the other side of the door. If he's angry... well, she can't blame him for that, and berates herself for her cowardice in leaving. Worst case scenario in her mind, though, is that he's behind that door completely oblivious to her dilemma, uncaring that she left, maybe even relieved. Indifference would be an insurmountable obstacle between them. She'd rather face anger.

Leaving was foolish. She knows that now. Even if she had been one hundred percent certain that he would kick her out in the morning, she should have stayed. Should have let him be the one to decide where to go from there. It might have hurt, but at least there would be no doubt, no self-recriminations to go along with the pain.

Shifting the bag until it's tucked under her left arm, she raises her right hand to knock when the door swings open almost violently. And there he is. His face is a freight train ready to roll right over her; she can practically see the steam rising from his ears. Taking a deep breath, she steps out of the path of danger, moving around him until she's hovering in front of his couch waiting for him to turn around.

"Thought you might be hungry," she says, inwardly cursing herself for how sheepish she sounds. It's hard to look him in the eye, but she does; she needs to in order to gauge his reaction, to prepare for the onslaught. His eyes are narrowed, zoned in on her with more than their usual intensity. She wants to sit down, open the bag and pull out a bagel like nothing is amiss, but she's pinned in place by the heat of his stare.

Moving toward her, he snatches the bag from her grasp, peers inside and then brings that steely gaze back to her.

"Bagels?" he says with disdain, dropping the bag on the coffee table. He then grabs one of the drinks from the carrier in her hand, and the loss of balance almost causes the other to tumble out. She grabs it just before it spills, and follows her sigh of annoyance with a chastising, "House!"

Without breaking eye contact, he takes a long sip of the drink, finishing with a loud popping noise as the straw drops from his mouth. "We've talked about this before," he says, shaking the plastic cup in her direction. "Less lip, more whip. If you're going to bribe me for forgiveness, you're going to have to do better than this."

And just like that the steam evaporates; the freight train has been derailed for the moment. They will still have to deal with the wreckage at some point, she knows, but it can wait.

The danger has passed.


Cameron studies House's familiar face as they each take a bagel, overfilled with cream cheese. She knows the future won't be easy. Any relationship with House would be filled with ups and downs, bumps in the road, and detours fraught with danger.

But for the first time in recent years, she can feel the exhilaration of hope.

Can she make him happy? Perhaps, at least for a while. That's what she's always wanted, not to fix him but to banish his underlying sadness.

Is he ready to accept her love? To believe she can love him? Maybe. But even more than convincing him that she can, she wants him to learn to love himself.

Does he love her? Could he? She knows he can care about another human being. She'd concluded once that he could even love someone, just not her. Had that changed?

House studies Cameron lovely face as they eat the chewy bagels, dripping with cream cheese. He knows she'll hurt him eventually, and he'll just as certainly hurt her.

But he's tired of playing a defensive game. He'll tackle any problems as they occur. Right now he's just relieved that he no longer has to hide his feelings.

Can he make her happy? He's never been good at doing that for anyone, not even himself, but the desire to please her is strong.

Does she really love him? He'd always thought that she needed him as a charity case. Or if she really did love him, she was either a masochist or crazy. But he'd found that none of those hypotheses was true.

Does he love her? He isn't even sure what that should feel like but he does know that she touches him physically and emotionally the way no one ever has.

Their eyes meet, as they've done so often. The connection is undeniable.

"Do you want the last bagel?" he asks without breaking eye contact.

"Let's share it," she suggests and he knows she's not just talking about breakfast.