DISCLAIMER: I don't own House, but if I did... boy, would things be different.
Boy, long time no see, huh? I'm sorry, but I have a very good excuse. I had this big plan, once uni finished for the year (2 credits and a distinction, thank you very much), I would finish a whole bunch of the stories I started through the year and then post them together as a Christmas present for all of you. Good idea... and then my computer broke. Well, didn't break so much as my cord broke so it wouldn't charge. A month later, here we are. So... Merry Christmas!!! A special shout out to Kirunavaara: the ONLY person to review 'Twenty three minutes'.
So, this story... I got the idea after listening to one of my favourite songs by Delta Goodrem called Woman (duh); and reflecting for the millionth time it reminded me of Hameron. So, here we are. Not the whole story is based on the song, mainly chapters 2 and 3, 3 especially.
And another shout out about how awesome Delta is. I've mentioned her in a few stories now, because she is totally awesome, and everyone should listen to her music. Delta and her fiancée are my hope that one day I will find love, the ultimate couple; and those long time readers will know that my greatest fear is that I'll never experience love. (19 and eternally single, people). Delta (and JK Rowling) are my role models, and Delta's music is constantly inspiring me and getting me through the bad spots in my life. Such as now, when my family is still living with my grandparents after 7 months (it was supposed to be 2 weeks), and we still can't find a house to rent. I miss my stuff, I miss my space (I'm sharing a room with my 13 yr old brother), and I'm losing hope we'll ever find somewhere to live. So please review and be nice to me!!!
"What are you doing?"
House looked up from the television in his office where he was watching his soap (thankfully at that moment it was only a commercial), to see her watching him from the doorway, half-amused, half-exasperated. House took a moment to admire her, her long brown hair loose and straight today, and her black pantsuit fitted yet professional. For what felt like the millionth time in the past four months, House marvelled at the fact that he was dating Allison Cameron.
After three years of working together, and just under three years of finding reasons why he should avoid the temptation to succumb to the ever-growing feelings he felt for his beautiful, intelligent, and caring (not to mention fourteen years his junior) immunologist; House had had the matter taken out of his hands.
Just over four months ago, Cameron had received a phone call at work, which had completely distracted her from her work. When she disappeared for lunch and didn't return, House went searching for her, ever curious about the happenings of his fellows' personal lives. He eventually found her outside in the deserted park down the road from the hospital on the empty swings, freezing without a coat in the middle of January, and crying her eyes out. House had sighed heavily at the sight, dry-swallowed two Vicodin and sat down on the next swing silently.
"What was the phone call?" he'd asked her finally, and she'd met his gaze as she wiped her eyes.
"None of your business, House," she'd replied hoarsely.
House shrugged. "I'm pretty sure it is."
Cameron had sighed in annoyance. "Trust me, this has nothing to do with you. Please, just leave me alone. Just this once," she'd pleaded, but pleading or manners never had any effect on House.
"Come on, it can't be that bad," House had reasoned.
"You're right," she'd admitted, to House's surprise. "It's probably not that bad, but I'm upset anyway, I need to be allowed to be upset over this; and I don't need your theories on the subject, OK? Now can you please go?"
"I have great theories," House had defended himself and Cameron had snorted sceptically.
"I know I live for them," she replied sarcastically. "I've already heard your opinion on this particular subject, House and I don't need a reminder," she'd muttered, and House had caught her wince slightly, as though recalling a painful memory or reliving it.
House was quiet for a moment as he reviewed the things he had said to Cameron that she might be referring to, and came to the conclusion that most of what he had said to her over the years had been relating to one particular subject. The memory of it made him wince too, that god-awful date.
"How old are you?"
Cameron had looked across at him, in confusion and annoyance. "I'm guessing you know exactly how old I am, House. Just because you don't remember your own birthday, doesn't stop you from knowing everyone else's."
She would be thirty-one in eight months, House knew; so he didn't bother answering.
"I'm just thinking of what news about your husband could get you this upset after nearly a decade later."
That he had pieced it together so quickly shocked Cameron and she gazed at him, open-mouth for a moment.
House had shrugged modestly. "I only make fun of you guys for one reason. Chase's daddy issues; Foreman's criminal past; and your attraction to damaged people, especially the cancer husband. Wasn't really that hard to guess."
Cameron thought about that for a moment and had to admit to herself that he was right. She even surprised herself by the next words that came out of her mouth.
"The phone call was from Joe, he was my husband's best friend."
This gave House no clue as to why she was upset, so he merely looked at her expectantly, waiting for her to continue.
"He and his wife just found out they're having a little boy," she said and House nodded, thinking he understood.
"No. They've got three girls- Melody, Kiara and Jane," Cameron replied, smiling softly.
House had been completely mystified. "Ok, so did you burst into hysterical tears for them too?"
Cameron rolled her eyes. "I am not hysterical.... and no, I didn't."
"So what's the difference between now and then?" he'd asked and Cameron hesitated before answering.
"They asked me if it was okay with me if they named him Andrew," she'd said softly, closing her red eyes and resting her head against the chain of the swing; and finally, House had understood.
She'd nodded. "Yeah. I told them yes... but I wasn't really expecting it."
"Have you been in touch much since he died?" House had asked bluntly and Cameron had winced slightly, but made an effort to answer casually.
"Yeah, not a lot. Christmas cards, phone calls occasionally... it's hard, for both of us. I don't really like to talk about Drew that much," she'd said softly.
Eventually, after a few moments of sitting in silence, House had stood up and ordered her to go home before she caught pneumonia. Cameron had been surprised but agreed; and had been even more surprised when House had turned up on her doorstep that night with Chinese takeout.
That had been their first date, although House wouldn't admit it for a month and a half; and Cameron liked to tease him and say that only House wouldn't even bother to actually ask, just turn up like it was planned. Now four months later, House was suddenly jerked back to reality to find her watching him from his office doorway.
"That's a stupid question," he replied.
Cameron rolled her eyes gently. "You do know Cuddy's called three times for you? You're supposed to be in the clinic at the moment."
"Can't do clinic duty," House shook his head in mock sadness. "Got a case."
Cameron raised an eyebrow. "No we don't."
"We will, I can feel it coming. Soon. So it would be a pointless use of my time and the clinic patients time for me to go down there; because I'd only have to come back up."
"Oh, so you're psychic now?" Cameron laughed.
"Don't mock me. Otherwise I might begin to see grave loneliness and severe lack of sex in your immediate future," House warned her and she laughed even harder.
"Riiight. I'll believe that when I see it," she smirked and turned to leave.
"Where are you going? You're not going to watch with me?" House demanded.
"No, you have a huge stack of mail I have to go through," Cameron replied.
House shook his head. "No, you have to watch it with me. Because if you don't, you'll miss things, and then all through tomorrow's show you'll want me to explain things to you, which you know I hate."
Cameron highly doubted that she would miss anything she couldn't catch up on in one episode, it was a soap opera after all, but she decided to humour House.
"Ok, I'll be there in a sec, I'll just get my coffee," she told him and House nodded.
"Hurry up, commercial's almost over!" he called after her.
She returned in due time, with an additional cup of coffee for House, which he hadn't realised he wanted until he had it. Cameron was always doing things like that.
They didn't talk much throughout the show, but sat together in comfortable silence until the end of the episode. It ended with one of House's favourite characters, Arwen, being told by Xander McAllister, a private investigator and her half-brother that he had uncovered some disturbing information about her husband, Rick. If there was anything more House loved than his daily cliff-hanger, it was guessing what twist the storyline would take next, and he was usually right, although he had to admit Cameron had a knack for it.
"So, what do your psychic powers see for tomorrow's episode?" Cameron asked him teasingly, as House switched off the TV.
House closed his eyes, held his finger to his temple and paused for a long moment before answering her.
"Ladies first, what's your theory?"
Cameron sighed thoughtfully. "I reckon he's got a kid with Heather that he's hiding from Arwen."
House was startled, that possibility had never entered his mind. "What gave you that idea?"
She scoffed. "Oh, please, it's obvious. Heather's always had a thing for him."
"Yes, but she's in the asylum," House pointed out. "Plus, she can't have kids because of the car accident she was in."
"You didn't let me finish," she admonished him. "She's was Rick's nurse when he was shot, and she came on to him when he was coming out of the anaesthesia. And then she was seen meeting with that woman, who then disappeared but kept contacting Heather with text messages. Heather only wants Rick so she can have revenge on Arwen- her ex-step sister; because her father likes Arwen better than Heather. I reckon she stole a sperm sample from Rick in the hospital, blackmailed Lindsey into mixing it with some of her eggs; because we know Lindsey's been having an affair with the Dean of Medicine. I think the woman was a surrogate, who ran off with the baby when Heather went crazy and held Arwen and Xander hostage, and killed Michael; and now the surrogate's come back and told Rick about the baby for financial support."
House considered her theory for a moment, and then rolled his eyes dismissively.
"Your entire theory is based on one meeting Heather had with a random lady, who's never been seen since? Why would she blackmail Lindsey over sleeping with the Dean? And yes, she came on to Rick in the hospital and almost slept with him, but he called her 'Arwen' and she left, remember? If that was happening, they would have shown her taking the sample and blackmailing Lindsey, so the audience knows what's happening."
"Not necessarily," Cameron argued. "It's a bigger shock if no one see's it coming, and then they do flashbacks to reveal it all."
House was sceptical and Cameron rolled her eyes. "Ok, what's your theory?"
"Arwen and Rick are related," House said confidently.
Cameron frowned. "You think she married her... what, brother, cousin?"
"Half-brother," House corrected. "We know Arwen's father and Rick's mom were high school sweethearts; Camille was emotionally blackmailed by her father to marry her husband to save the family business; and she met up with George the night before the wedding when he tried to convince her to elope. They conceived Rick, Camille passed him off as her husband's kid. She didn't want Arwen marrying Rick, remember? They're related."
Cameron stared at him for a moment. "You watch way too many soaps. That's insane! They've spent two years keeping Arwen and Rick apart, why would they make them related?"
"Twenty bucks says they're related," House replied.
"Fifty," Cameron answered and they shook hands to seal the deal.
"I can't believe you think they're related," she muttered. "Actually, I can't believe you've got me into these insane and totally unrealistic stories!"
House grinned. "Hey, you were forewarned. You knew this about me before we hooked up."
She rolled her eyes as she reached for his empty coffee cup and stood up. "And yet for some reason, I still love you."
Cameron realised a second too late what she'd said, and by then it was too late to stop it. There was no hope House might have missed it either, despite the casual tone in which it was said. He had clenched instantly and his jaw slackened. For an instant Cameron considered attempting to fix it; but really, how could she? She froze for a moment, and decided the best thing to do was act normal. She silently eased his coffee cup out of his hand, cleared her throat and left the office.
Cameron busied herself throughout the afternoon by answering the stack of mail on her desk; mentally cursing herself for not thinking before she spoke. Although it was certainly no secret that she did, in fact, love House and had had feelings for him even before they began dating; she had never actually told him before, and she certainly never would have dreamed of saying 'the L word' before he did. It had just... slipped out, she sighed to herself; and try as she liked, she couldn't erase the image from her mind of House's stunned, deer in headlights expression that had crossed his face the minute the words were out there.
As the clock hit four, House entered the conference room from his office, with his backpack and bike helmet in his hands, and Cameron looked up at him.
"Hey," she greeted him cautiously.
Cameron racked her brain to think of something casual to say that could in no way be linked back to 'the incident'; but House spoke first, rubbing his forehead with his thumb and forefinger when he was thinking.
"Listen, I was talking to Wilson earlier and he said something about watching a game tonight. So maybe you should just stay at yours tonight?"
Cameron nodded, although she knew perfectly well that there was no game on tonight.
"OK, I've got stuff to do anyway," she said quietly. House nodded shortly, drummed his cane awkwardly on the ground for a moment, then left.
Cameron let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding when he'd left. As far as awkward situations could go with House, that hadn't been too bad. Cameron figured that House just needed a bit of space for a day or two, and then everything would be fine. And she hadn't been lying, Cameron tried to convince herself; she did have laundry and some correspondence to catch up on and tonight would be a perfect time to do it.
She wasn't sure she believed herself though.