DISCLAIMER: I don't own House, but if I did... boy, would things be different.
AN. I know House needing chase's number from Cameron's address book is kinda lame, but its the only way I could think of for him to accidentally find her diary.
"Where are you going?"
Cameron looked over at House as she was halfway out the conference room door. They were the first words he'd spoken to her all morning, but she was beyond caring today after having hardly slept the night before.
"I'm going to the clinic, it's packed today and Cuddy wants some help. Why?" she asked tiredly.
"My phone died, I need Chase's cell number," he replied, holding up his dead phone.
Cameron pointed to her shoulder bag lying under her desk. "It's in my address book."
House nodded and limped over to the desk, without another word. Cameron sighed quietly and left the room. House pulled out her bag with his cane and dumped it on the desk, zipping it open. He frowned slightly as he pulled out two similar notebooks. One was obviously the address book, and he couldn't think what the other one could be. He picked one randomly and flicked it open, seeing from the first glance that it wasn't an address book. He went to close it, when something caught his notice in his peripheral vision- his name. Repeatedly.
He blinked and scanned the page quickly, and then the date registered in his mind- the most recent entry was dated at one o'clock that morning. House paused for only an instant, debating his chances of being caught reading Cameron's diary. Cameron herself was in the clinic, Foreman was up in neurology giving a consult and Chase was... actually, House wasn't sure where Chase was, which is why he was looking for his cell phone number. But he was pretty sure wherever he was, he wouldn't be returning to Diagnostics for awhile.
Just to be on the safe side, House brought Cameron's diary into his office, locked the door and closed the blinds before he sat down and read Cameron's most recent entry. The more he read, the more an overwhelming sense of déjà vu came over him. He couldn't quite place why it seemed so familiar, until one particular phrase jogged his memory.
"House will more than likely be alone if he keeps pushing the people who care about him away... I'd be satisfied just if he used to look at me the way he used to... I deserve to be with someone who isn't going to push me away... I love being with him, but just being with him isn't enough."
House swallowed as he remembered where he'd heard those words said to him before- right as Stacy walked out the door and out of his life. Abruptly, he stood up, diary in hand, and left his office.
Wilson, reviewing a stack of new patient files at his desk, looked up when his door opened without knocking. It didn't surprise him it was House in the doorway. What did surprise him was the look on his face.
"What's up?" he asked in concern.
House crossed the room, plopped himself in the chair opposite Wilson's desk and handed him the diary.
"What is it?" Wilson asked curiously.
Without looking, Wilson immediately closed it and handed it back to him. "Oh, no, no, no. It's bad enough you're reading Cameron's diary, but don't ask me to."
House rolled his eyes. "Don't be such a baby. There's nothing personal in the part I want you to read, it's just about me."
Reluctantly, but intrigued, Wilson slowly re-opened the diary and read the last entry. The more he read, he was both confused and enlightened as to why House had come to him.
"Wait, Cameron told you she loved you? When did this happen?" he asked in amazement when he'd finished.
House sighed, knowing how his friend would react. "About four days ago."
As he'd thought, Wilson was horrified. "Wait, four days ago? And you've been freezing her out since?"
"I panicked," House defended himself. "It just came out of the blue, and I don't know what to do. So, I just reacted instinctively."
"By acting like an ass," Wilson finished. "What exactly did she say?"
House told him the story, about the soap operas and their conversation and Cameron's exact words that had started the whole mess.
Wilson scowled at him. "That's it? There was no big declaration of love? No expectations from you for anything? Just 'for some reason I still love you'? For God's sake, House!"
House glared at him. "I don't exactly say it a lot, and I haven't heard it in awhile. The last woman who claimed to love me gave consent for an operation I didn't want!"
"I know that House; and I also know the last man Cameron loved died in front of her!" Wilson said pointedly.
House sighed, in truth, he had forgotten that small detail. "Love is a big generalisation," he muttered. "Isn't it traditional for the man to say it first anyway?"
Wilson scoffed. "Nothing about you and Cameron is traditional, House."
"True," he admitted.
Wilson paused for a moment, and decided he was possibly being a tad too harsh on his friend.
"Look House," he said gently. "I know Stacy hurt you, big time. I know you had a crappy childhood. But I also know Cameron is the best thing that's ever happened to you; and I'd hate to see you lose that. Cameron makes some really good points in here, and I think it's a pity she feels she can't say them to you. What it really comes down to, is... do you love her?"
House hesitated. After all, it had only been four months, and how do you really know when you love someone anyway? He must have unconsciously muttered these thoughts out loud, because Wilson answered quietly.
"It may only be four months, but you've had feelings for her long before that."
That was true, House admitted to himself. But there was still that big question- how did you know when, or if, it was love? He had loved Stacy, he was sure of that, but he couldn't remember a moment in the five years they were together that he had come upon that realisation. She had just said one day, I love you and House had replied with the generic "You too." He could probably count on one hand the number of times he had actually said the words to her.
But he was a different person now, and Cameron certainly wasn't Stacy. Cameron was Cameron, and House was sure he cared about her. He didn't ask anyone who quit to come back, but was it love?
Wilson interrupted his musings after a few moments. "House, I'm going to tell you something that my brother told me once. If after three months with someone, you can't see a long term future with them, it's probably not love. And if that's the case with Cameron, it's probably best to let her go. She's got a great career ahead of her, even more so after working for you for so long. But she's made a very good point in the diary entry. She deserves to be with someone who can give her the future she wants. Marriage, children... I know I've been pushing for you two to get together for a long time, but I think it's for the best."
Dazed, House nodded numbly in agreement, and then a vision entered his head. The office, Cameron's desk, empty; Cameron in a white dress and veil marrying a blank faced stranger; Cameron, her stomach protruding and jostling by the movements of someone within her; Cameron, happy, loved, and smiling- but not with him.
He inhaled sharply as realisation struck and Wilson watched him cautiously as his expression changed.
"I love her," he said, meeting Wilson's gaze.
Wilson paused for a moment and then grinned. "Yeah, I knew you did."
This startled House and he blinked at his friend in bewilderment. "What?"
Wilson shrugged. "I knew if I suggested you let her go, you'd realise it too. Because even if you didn't know it, you wouldn't want her with anyone else."
"You used reverse psychology on me?" House spluttered and Wilson grinned.
"Yeah. Now, go tell this to your girlfriend!" he ordered.
"You are so dead," House scowled as he left the office.
He managed to put Cameron's diary back without being caught; found her address book and made the call to Chase; and then retreated into his office to prepare himself. Cameron returned at lunchtime, and was just getting money out of her wallet when House entered the room.
"Do you want to go to dinner tonight?"
Cameron was startled, she hadn't been expecting House to say anything to her, and it was such a turnaround from his behaviour of the past few days that she was confused.
"Dinner?" she repeated.
After four days of practically ignoring her, House was suddenly aware of just how he had been treating her, and the look of bewilderment on her face now summed it up, and he felt a surge of guilt that kept him from making a sarcastic comment.
"Yeah. What do you say?"
This was now more than he had said to her in almost a week, so Cameron merely nodded numbly. "Ok. What's the occasion?" she asked him lightly.
House paused. "Just thought we could talk," he shrugged. "I'll pick you up from yours at seven."
Cameron was still puzzled as she left the office and headed down to the cafeteria. She froze abruptly as she realised the only reason House would suddenly ask her to dinner.
"Oh my god, he's breaking up with me!" she whispered, all the colour draining from her face.
Her appetite suddenly gone, she turned around and headed outside to the courtyard. There, she half-collapsed onto a bench and took several deep breaths.
Really, she shouldn't be that surprised, she tried to convince herself. After all, she was surprised it had lasted this long.
"Damn, I'm going to have to move," she moaned quietly. There was no way she could stay in New Jersey after this, 'which is what happens when you date your boss,' she mentally scolded herself.
All afternoon Cameron was distracted, so she was thankful they didn't have a patient at the moment. She even left half an hour than usual, which House agreed to, assuming she needed extra time to get ready for dinner.
Cameron then spent half an hour in front of her closet, wondering what to wear for a break-up dinner; and hoping House did it at the beginning of dinner not at the end, because she couldn't imagine eating anything at the moment. Well, she couldn't imagine eating anything without bringing it right back up.
Finally, she decided on a wine-coloured cocktail length dress, which tied at the back of her neck. She swept her long hair up and clipped it up, leaving loose tendrils in curls at the nape of her neck and gently framing her face.
Since his revelation with Wilson a few hours prior, House was still getting his head around the idea as he drove to Cameron's building. He loved her. That was a big deal, even more so for House, because it meant he wasn't just dating and sleeping with Cameron. He was in a relationship with her, and wanted a future with her. He wasn't sure what that future entailed exactly, but he figured they had plenty of time to figure that out later. But a relationship meant that he had to step up, and take note of what Cameron had written in her diary and what Wilson had told him before he left that evening. He had to trust Cameron, and actually open himself up to her.
When Cameron opened her door to answer House's knock however, he was suddenly overwhelmed by that fact that he loved her. No, he was in love with her, and he didn't think he had ever been in love with anyone before.
"Hi," Cameron said quietly and House blinked for a moment, then held up the white wrist corsage he held in his hand.
"Hi. You look... beautiful," he said sincerely and an odd expression crossed Cameron's face for a moment, then she whispered a 'thank you' as he handed her the flower.
The drive was mostly silent, until House parked and Cameron looked to see where they were and her mouth went dry.
The restaurant where House had torn her down; had told her that she didn't really love her husband, but married him out of pity? This was where he was going to break up with her?
"I like the pasta," House shrugged and got out of the car.
Cameron felt like she was about to vomit, and she was shaking slightly with apprehension as she somehow staggered out of the car. House glanced sideways at her as they crossed the road, and noticed she was practically gray. It was only then it occurred to him Cameron had no idea what the dinner was for.
They were only a few feet away from the restaurant's front door when Cameron realised her legs could take her no further and she stopped abruptly.
"What's wrong?" House asked as he noticed her stop.
"You said that you wanted to talk," Cameron managed to get out hoarsely. "Can we just talk first?"
House hesitated. He really didn't want to do this on the side of the street, but Cameron looked as though she were about to vomit or faint.
"Please?" she asked faintly, and House nodded.
"Sure, I guess. Uh... come over here, though," he said pointing with his cane to a low brick wall that ran the perimeter of a vacant lot just two buildings away from the restaurant. They made their way over and Cameron sat down shakily, facing House and reminding herself to breathe, and whatever he did, whatever he said, not to cry.
House cleared his throat and forced himself to meet her gaze. "Cameron, I owe you.... well, actually, I owe you fifty bucks."
Cameron blinked at him, stunned. "Wait? What?"
"Yeah, from the soap opera thing," House continued sheepishly. "You were right, Heather stole a sperm sample from Rick, and they've got a kid."
It took Cameron a moment to remember what he was talking about. "Oh," she said finally. Good job, Allison- good use of your vocabulary, a small voice in her head said sarcastically.
House took a deep breath and tapped his cane on the ground. "I also owe you an apology."
Cameron had never heard those words from House before, merely dreamed of them, but now that the opportunity had come, she had no answer.
For thinking that we could be together; for wasting my time for the past four months; for not doing this sooner, was what Cameron was expecting.
"For the way I've been acting the past few days," House finished, and his tone was so sincere tears immediately sprung into Cameron's eyes.
"I panicked... not that that's a very good explanation," he admitted. "I've been trying so hard for as long as I can remember to avoid.... those words, because I've never really been sure what they meant. Once you get... love... involved, it means that we're in a relationship. And I haven't had the best track record with relationships."
Cameron nodded silently, unsure what to say. She was so busy trying to think of something to say that she almost missed House's next words.
"But I do."
Cameron frowned slightly in confusion. "Do what?" she asked.
House took her hands in his. "I- I love you," he said seriously and Cameron was sure she stopped breathing.
"I love you, and I haven't said that a lot. Because if you say it... to me, love just means that you have something to lose. And I've come close to losing you before, and it's not fun," he said bluntly and Cameron couldn't help but smile faintly.
"So... I don't want to lose you."
Cameron laughed as her tears spilled over and House gave a small smile in return.
"You forgive me?"
Cameron nodded as she wiped her eyes and House leaned over and kissed her. "I love you," she told him and he nodded.
"Good. So... dinner?" he asked, gesturing to the restaurant.
Cameron grinned and stood up, suddenly starved and slightly light-headed. "Yeah, definitely."
House casually grasped her hand as they walked towards the door. "So, why did you look like you were about to pass out two minutes ago?" he asked her.
"What did you think this was about?"
Cameron hesitated and stared at the ground as she answered. "I thought we were here for you to break up with me," she admitted and House came to a standstill, so abruptly that Cameron almost fell over.
"Ok, I'm in heels here," she complained, but House took no notice.
"You thought I was breaking up with you?"
Cameron nodded solemnly. "Well, yeah. I mean, you've been acting so weird... and after what happened the last time we were here..."
She was silenced as House leaned down and kissed her. "Allison, when a man is dating someone way out of his league, he doesn't break up with her. He waits for her to realise she's out of his league and then dumps him. As for the last time we were here... the plan was to replace a crappy memory with a better memory," he said sheepishly.
"And don't expect to hear it often, but I love you. So you're stuck with me," he added and Cameron smiled softly.
"I can probably handle that," she replied and House grinned.
He kissed her once more and then led her into the restaurant for dinner.