Chapter 5

DISCLAIMER: House is the creation of David Shore, not me.

"I need a minute. Just make yourself comfortable," Cameron said to House as they entered Cameron's childhood home.

House nodded wordlessly as Cameron took the grocery bags into the kitchen, stuck the lasagne in the oven to cook and headed upstairs. House was moving into the living room when he heard running water from upstairs, and figured Cameron was having a shower.

House could never resist the opportunity to find out more about his fellow's personal lives, and to be left unattended in Cameron's family home was almost too much for him to bear, like a child left alone in a candy store. The living room was a well- lit room, filled with family photos from over the years. House moved into the room and his attention was drawn to the opposite wall. Two large photo frames took up most of the wall, those frames that held about a dozen photos each. There was one for Brendan, and one for Cameron.

The centre photo for each was a baby picture, and House studied Cameron's intently, looking for a trace of the Cameron he knew today. It was in her eyes, House decided with satisfaction. Even as a baby, her eyes had the same worldliness and depth that House saw in them now. They appeared gray in this picture, and House blinked, drawing his attention to the other pictures in the frame.

There was Cameron, only maybe three or four, in a pink tutu, flowers in her hair; Cameron, aged five and planting a kiss on Brendan's cheek, who was wearing a birthday hat; aged eight and giggling as she sat on Sarah's lap in a rocking chair as Sarah read from a large book; aged twelve and pictured with Lindsay, arms linked and beaming smiles on their faces; thirteen, at Halloween with Brendan, Lindsay and Matt- Brendan as Batman, Matt as Superman and pretending to fight, Lindsay as an angel and Cameron as Belle from Beauty and the Beast; fourteen, in pajamas and eating ice-cream sundae with Jack, both making faces at the camera; sixteen, in a white ballet costume standing on pointe; seventeen and in her emerald green prom dress, pictured with Lindsay, Matt and another boy; aged seventeen, and standing at the top of the staircase in her graduation cap and gown, striking a pose; eighteen and with Lindsay at the airport, both girls with plane tickets and striking a pose; and finally, Cameron, in her wedding gown, her face alight with happiness, arm in arm with her husband.

He was sitting down watching television when Cameron emerged, fresh clothes, wet hair and seemingly more refreshed, and just in time to cook the chips to serve with the lasagne. When they at last sat down to eat, they were silent for a time and then Cameron decided to bite the bullet.

"Why are you here, House?"

House swallowed his mouthful, took a sip of soda and sighed. "To apologise."

Cameron looked surprised and it was evident on her face.

"What?"

She smiled slightly, and leaned back in her chair. "Three years.... never had a single apology from you before."

House ignored that and continued his apology. "I was just frustrated about the case... I want you to come back to work."

Cameron's expression was guarded as she put down her knife and fork. "House... I'm not sure," she said uncertainly.

"If you're after another date, you have a serious problem," House retorted and she glared at him.

"And right there, is exactly why I'm not sure," she said in annoyance.

"What does that mean?" House demanded.

She sighed. For a moment she tried to find words to say it gently, but decided to forgo that and just give it to him straight, like he always had to her.

"It means... I'm tired of all the bullshit," she looked him straight in the eye and spoke calmly.

"I'm tired of the mind games, and the bets, and the manipulation. I'm tired of being the only woman, and having to be your secretary! I'm tired of you turning up on my doorstep in the middle of the night, and then ignoring me for three weeks! I'm tired of getting no vacation time, and not getting to see my family and friends! I'm tired of having no private life, and that the whole world has to revolve around you! And I'm really tired of being constantly underestimated and underappreciated."

She realised her voice was growing louder and made an effort to soften her tone as she continued.

"You keep going on about how much you know me. If that was true, you should know that my family comes before anything else. Before work, and before you. But putting my family first, doesn't mean that I'm going to ignore my responsibilities to our patients!"

House was speechless and she finished speaking and took a drink of her soda.

"First of all," he began, raising a finger and Cameron met his gaze steadily. "I only showed up in the middle of the night once; all the other times I came by were in daylight. Secondly..."

Cameron waited in expectation as House paused, then sighed heavily, making a face as though what he was about to say was incredibly painful.

"I know... how important our patients are to you. I know you put them first. That's why I keep you around," he admitted. "And... you're right. We take you for granted, sometimes."

"We?" Cameron asked raising an eyebrow.

"Ok, me," House glared at her. "I already apologised! What do you want me to do?"

Cameron hesitated. They both had an instant flashback to a time before, House asking a similar question and Cameron asking for dinner in return.

"I want you to remember that I have a life outside of you," she said finally. "I have family, who I actually like spending time with, and I have friends. More than one, and they don't work next door to me," she smiled faintly.

"Ouch," House said, wincing and Cameron couldn't help but laugh.

"So you're coming back?" House asked hopefully and Cameron sighed.

"I'm probably going to regret this... yes, I'm coming back."

House smiled smugly to himself. "You can wait till your Dad's home before you come back, I guess," he offered.

Cameron rolled her eyes. "How gracious of you," she said sarcastically.

House watched her in silence as she cleaned the kitchen, then suddenly remarked,

"I think this was actually a good thing."

Cameron stopped and stared at him incredulously. "I'm sorry, which part of this was a good thing?"

House shrugged. "Shows how much you've grown. Three years ago, you probably would've stayed."

Cameron paused, thinking about that and smiled faintly. "I would've," she admitted and they shared a faint smile.

House disappeared as Cameron loaded the dishwasher, and when she was done, Cameron found him in the living room, once again studying the photos of her childhood on the wall.

"You've been an ass for the past three weeks," Cameron spoke suddenly.

House startled slightly, turned his head to look at her, and then turned back to the photos. "Yep. Have you not met me before?"

She rolled her eyes. "You were an ass to me. You're always an ass."

"Thank you," House replied, raising an eyebrow.

Cameron continued to simply watch him expectantly, until her gaze forced House to say something more.

"I was slightly drunk," he began slowly, trying to talk about it without actually talking about it.

"Shock horror," Cameron interrupted and he glared at her.

"Not drunk enough I didn't know what I was doing; but drunk enough not to care. You didn't seem to mind too much," he said pointedly.

"It was two in the morning and you woke me up to tell me to forget something I've been trying to forget for two years," she replied coolly.

House shrugged. "Yeah ok."

He finally turned away from the wall to face her and tapped his cane against the ground.

"I kinda liked it," he said finally, as though they were talking about a movie or food and not a kiss. "I'm not used to that, so I freaked. Probably could've handled it better..." he said thoughtfully and Cameron rolled her eyes.

"That's the understatement of the year," she muttered.

House surprised her by closing the gap between them and kissing her.

"What was that for?" she asked when he pulled away, slightly breathless.

House paused thoughtfully. "I'm not sure yet."

Cameron resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "You wanna let me know when you do?" she asked him lightly.

"OK," House agreed and kissed her again.

THE END

AN. I wasn't really sure how to end this, so I'm not sure if I'm happy with the ending.

Currently, I'm working on 7 stories. Well, I have 7 planned, I'm writing 4 at once. One is the sequel to "Endless Love" named "The Proposal"; one is "40 Weeks" the sequel to "Luck of the Irish", and then there's "The Other Side of Me" (title may change, but probably won't) and "The Ultimate Sacrifice" (same deal).

WARNING: The Ultimate Sacrifice might be a sad one. I'm very intrigued by the whole breaking up when you don't really want to thing. Actually, this story came about because I'm obsessed with BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at the moment, and I love the moment when The Beast tells Cogsworth he had to let Belle go to her father because he loved her. Makes me cry every time. On a random note, I recently discovered the Beast's name is Adam. How random is that? It doesn't really seem to fit.

There is a chance that "The Ultimate Sacrifice" may be one of those rare stories of mine i post before it's finished, because i'm not sure how to end it. I have a few ideas, but not sure where i'm going with it. If anyone's interested in helping, contact me!