Author's Note: I am in an angsty Hameron mood. This time, we're going mix in a little bit of post season 3 canon with the AU (I know it's a shock) and have House run into Cameron 3 years after she left the Wombat (like a BOSS) and after his relationship with Cuddy fizzles and dies (like it will after the novelty of having sex wears off) at a medical conference. Of course, they'll get into some form of together in the end but it won't happen until they get raw and honest like they needed to on the show. Enjoy.
Disclaimer; "Honestly, it's not mine!"
When he saw her bopping to whatever up tempo music was in her iPod in the elevator, his mouth went bone dry. Who was this woman? This poised, confident…happy woman? It couldn't possibly be Dr. Allison Cameron. It couldn't be the woman who had left PPTH like a kicked puppy, never to return again in person. The last contact she had made had been in the form of a Vulcan like divorce attorney who practically forced Wombat Boy to sign the papers 3 years before. Yet, it was her. The name on her "Hi, my name is…" tag confirmed it, even if her appearance was 100% different,
She was a brunette again and was sporting a Peter Pan haircut. A white graphic tee with an intricate Chinese dragon on the left side hugged fuller but still pert curves, a steel grey pleated skirt clinged desperately to her ass, and the knee high black boots that matched her hip length cardigan ought to be illegal. What struck Dr. Gregory House hardest was the serene, mischievous gleam in her sky blue eyes. This was a woman who didn't just survive day to day but lived and lived happily.
How? How had this happened…and what the hell was her secret?
When she finally registered he was next to her, she looked surprised but not angry or horrified. She even gave him a little smile like he was just an old acquaintance she hadn't seen in years instead of…
"You ruined him... So he can't even see right from wrong. Can't even see the sanctity of human life any more. I loved you. And I loved Chase. I'm sorry for both of you. For what you've become. Because there's no way back for either of you."
As they descended to the hotel lobby, he could faintly hear the distinctive guitar riffs of Blue Oyster Cult's The Red and the Black and she was mouthing the lyrics like a typical iPoder. She was holding her hospital's lab coat so she was presumably here for the same reason he was: to talk to medical students at the University of Chicago. House remained in pace with her as she headed into the bustling lobby, her stride long and confident and sexy. So sexy…
Once they were clear of the masses, she pivoted on her heels and he nearly collided with her as she looked curiously up into his eyes.
"So, what horrible blackmail did Cuddy have on you to make you show up?"
"Huh?" she mocked lightly. "House, you hate medical conferences and lecturing at universities. The only thing that you avoid with more passion is Clinic Work. The fact that you're here means that either Cuddy's got some serious dirt on you or threatened to cut you off if you didn't come speak. Which is it?"
'The only woman I have to worry about cutting me off is Thumbelina and that's only if I have a stroke. Cuddles and I called it quits eons ago."
"Hm. I would say that I was surprised but then I'd be lying. A person can never make their lightning rod of hatred or the booty-call into someone they can have a lasting relationship with. Learned that the hard way…" she replied with a bemused shake of her head "So, that leaves blackmail. What'd you do?"
"Can't tell you. Then, you'd be able to do it too."
She chuckled and checked the gold pocket watch on her left hip.
"I have to go. I'm one of the first doctors speaking today. It…I'm glad to see you again, House. Really."
"Despite what I've become?" he sneered, reminding her of her parting remarks.
The gleam in her eyes dimmed for a split second but then it was restored with a small shrug.
"Yeah. I look forward to your part."
And then, she was off, leaving him behind once again.
"House, I'm not faking a heart attack so you can…"
"I saw Cameron today. She's here and different and…and…happy."
Dr. James Wilson chuckled despite himself and replied, "House, she's one of the top Immunologists in the country and she lives in the area. Of course, she's going to be there and of course, she's going to be different. You haven't seen the woman for over 3 years."
"As usual, you don't get it! She's Cameron, for fuck's sake! She's damaged and fragile and idealistically emo! How the hell can she be so happy after all the shit that happened with that murdering marsupial? Maybe she's on something…"
"Or maybe she's just found a healthy way to get past it all. Here's a novel idea: how about talking to her about it?"
"I don't wanna to talk to her about it!" his friend whined like a 6 year old being told to eat his brussel sprouts.
Wilson rolled his eyes with disgusted amusement as the sound of House knocking a lamp over with a pillow sounded over the line.
"Yes, you do. You're just being an idiot. Don't call back until you talk to her."
He hung up on his friend's indignant yelling and sighed as a hand ghosted across his bare hip.
"How much did you hear?"
Dr. Lisa Cuddy propped herself up on one arm and replied, "Enough to agree with you. He does need to talk to her and he is being an idiot. I don't get it, James. After her first really big article came out, he became absolutely fixated on her and now that he's finally got her within his reach, he's running."
"He's House, Lisa. Vicodin free or not, he's still a hurting, self destructive bastard. Seeing Cameron again and knowing that she doesn't hate him has got to turn his world upside down. And you know very well what happens next…"
After over a year of pursuit and of courting, House and Lisa had gotten together like everyone had expected. They had been doing fine until Lisa brought up the subject of marriage and adopting Rachel. And then, Cameron had become The Dr. Allison Cameron and the end of House and Lisa's relationship came in the form of a barely legal hooker and a relapse. Main Idea: Once Gregory House got a whiff of something good staying and lasting, he found a royal way to fuck it up.
"Yeah. Well, I hope it works out for them anyway. It should have before…"
Pressing a kiss to her bare shoulder, he let her fall back asleep with her head on his chest.
He followed shortly thereafter.
She told herself that she wasn't looking for him every time the food area door opened but she knew it was a bald faced lie. Although she was outwardly calm, seeing House again had been like a punch to a gut and a kick to the heart.
He still had the buzz cut but he had dropped a few pounds, restoring him to his earlier build. He had on an ancient Rolling Stones t-shirt, dark wash jeans, and his Nikes, along with a black cane with silver and blue flames on the bottom. His ever present pill bottle was gone but the utter misery in his eyes remained, intriguing her. According to everyone, Cuddy was supposed to be the antidote to all of that. Why on Earth weren't they together after all those years of cat and mouse and bullshit?
And why the fuck did she even care? After all, she was over the…all right, no she wasn't. She never got over House but it was one of those fact of life things. The sky was blue. Having her period made her freebase chocolate. She loved Gregory House. No matter how many years passed, no matter how many miles she put between them, it wasn't going away.
That resignation had given her the poise needed to banter with him and stay strong after he brought up what she said to him. Her words hadn't been incorrect then and they still weren't now, apparently. If House had even a bit of human empathy left, then he and Cuddy would've worked. Instinctively, she knew that the failure of the relationship was due to yet another one of his self destructive spirals. But, the way he looked at her, like she was a bit of hope, then maybe, just maybe…
Allison shook her head and continued eating her frittata. Now wasn't the time to go over what ifs. She had prospective doctors to speak to…
"What? No iPod, today?"
How House had managed to find a Reuben at 7 in the morning was beyond her.
"It's out of charge. Why have you decided to grace me with your presence?"
"I can't talk to an old friend?" House asked with mock hurt.
"What friendship? I wanted you, you pushed me away, you ruined my marriage, and you broke my spirit. That's not friendship, that's just you being a selfish hurtful ass and my taking it." she replied with brutal honesty.
To her surprise, a flash of hurt went through his gaze but instead of replying, he began to eat. Cameron shrugged and did the same, careful not to look directly at him. It was a habit from long ago, when the feelings were at their peak. Looking at him head on would give her away or cause her to pounce on him…
"Yeah. Yeah, I did break your spirit. But now you're not broken, anymore. Why?"
"I'm not obligated to be one of your puzzles, anymore. If you wanna know why I'm seemingly fixed, then you can figure it out on your own. I have to go."
"You're staying here until you tell me why."
She remembered that tone. That tone could get her to sit down and keep working a case, even when it was absolutely fruitless. It kept her from walking out time and time again but not this time. Even though her overall feelings hadn't changed, she had enough to grow a backbone.
"You sit here if you want to. I'm not staying. A colleague of mine is giving a presentation on the advancements in trauma surgery and I want to hear it. Goodbye, House."
Why was walking away from him still so damn hard?
Okay, so not only was she happy (well, happier than she should be), she had also decided to grow a defiant streak. Fine. He could play her game, her little "I'm over you" game. She wasn't. Not by a long shot. What was different was that she accepted that. She didn't try to stammer out a denial (or run off and marry a marsupial) anymore. It was more like a "So what?" thing with her now.
House would show her just what because whether he liked it or not, those stupid little feelings for her hadn't gone away either. They had been cast aside and locked away but never left the minefield that was his brain. He didn't love her. He didn't fucking know how to love anyone, even when he really tried to (the thing with Cuddy proved that) but there was something about her, between them…
She was sitting attentively as the woman prattled on about some new tumor treatment and even taking notes. Today, she had on a pair of black slacks, a steel grey blouse with cap sleeves, and a royal blue jacket. A pair of purple and silver glasses softened the consummate professional look and when he sat next to her, her arched brow rivaled Spock's.
"We never did finish our conversation, Cameron."
She rolled her eyes and returned her attention to the lecture, her handwriting as neat and girly as ever.
"I'm not going to be ignored, Dan. The sooner you talk to me, the sooner I'll leave you alone…that is if you want me to."
Cameron didn't even bother to roll her eyes this time, irking him. Why was she being so difficult? All she had to do was tell him what drug she was on or what new man she was fucking and then he'd shut up. It was simple…
He started poking her free arm and after a minute, she grabbed his finger and bent it back sharply, making him growl out a curse.
"Abusing cripples is illegal, you know."
A student shushed him and he flipped them off swiftly, returning his gaze to her profile. Other than a couple of new wrinkles, her face was still as youthful and open as it had been when she walked in for her interview. Her eyes held all the changes. There was steel there but what he couldn't get past (and what he envied) was the peace. He wanted that peace and the fact that she refused to tell him exactly how she got it pissed him off.
The house lights raised and she slid her little legal pad back into her messenger's bag before standing up. This time when she made to walk away, he did what his instincts always screamed at him to do…
He grabbed her wrist….hard. With a tiny frown, she tried to pull it out of his grip but he wasn't budging. When she tried to speak, the words tumbled out of him barely loud enough to hear but loud as a gunshot…
"Don't walk away from me. Not again."
She was an idiot.
How could she have fooled herself into thinking that she could resist his persistence? And then, then he decide to show a little bit of underbelly. Great. Just fucking great. Now, he was sitting on her couch and drinking her beer and she was letting him. Well, fine! If she was going to put herself back on House's Hell Train, then she would get her own answers…
"Why didn't you and Cuddy work?"
"I'm supposed to be…"
"Look, just because you've decided in your infinite generosity to open your special little heart, the least you can do is answer the stupid question. Unless you'd like to walk…excuse me, limp back to your hotel." she cut off frostily while tossing him his cane.
This time the hurt stayed but it was tempered with admiration? The hell?
"Bitch.", he labeled her approvingly. "I'm glad. You were too passive for your own good in Princeton…"
"Why. Didn't. You. And. Cuddy. Work?"
He heaved a ragged sigh through his teeth and leaned back heavily on the plush upholstery.
"Same reason why nothing in my life works: I fucked it up on purpose. Literally. I hired a hooker and she found me with her and a half empty bottle of Vicodin. She'd forgive cheating or a relapse but not both. I got scared when she started talking about marriage and adoption and all the family shit I know I'll suck royally at so I found a way out. It's okay. She's with Wilson, now and way better off with him. And better her than that Sam bitch, anyway."
"The first former Mrs. Wilson. Now, will you just answer my damn question?"
"Why aren't you as miserable as you should be? Your husband murdered someone and you're alone in a different time zone from everyone you remotely gave a fuck about."
"Like you?" she brought out significantly, looking at him head on regardless of the consequences.
"We're not talking about that." he evaded yet again, thoroughly pissing her off at last.
"Why the fuck not? It's been damn near 10 years and I still love your sorry ass and you feel something for me too, whether you like it or not!"
"You said that you didn't anymore when you left! I loved you… loved...as in past tense!"
If looks could kill, then House would be a pile of ashes.
"And you have the nerve to call me an idiot…what was I supposed to say, House? Oh, it's okay…even though you twisted my husband into thinking murder is the best course of action, I still love you?"
"Something like that would've been nice!"
Cameron pinched the bridge of her nose and declared, "What I said and what I didn't say is your fault! If you hadn't been so determined to be miserable, then maybe I could've been honest with you! You did this to us, not me and you're a real fucker for trying to make all this shit my fault!"
A beat and then, "I know that, Cameron and I'm not trying to say that it wasn't my fault. I...I just need an answer."
He sounded utterly defeated and instead of taking satisfaction from that, she felt sick. Why did this man manage to do this to her every time? What the hell was wrong with her that she couldn't just get away from him for good? She downed the rest of her beer and finally decided to tell him.
"The reason I'm not as messed up as you and everyone else thinks I should be is that I made a decision not to be. Shut up, I'm not finished! You wanted an answer, I'm giving you it! Once I made that decision, I acted in accordance with it, which is the key difference between you and me. I saw a shrink, I made friends, and I didn't dwell on my weaknesses or on what ifs. I kept my focus on the present and the future and it's kept me happy and sane before you decided to Spartan kick your way back into my life. There. Your puzzle's now solved. Happy, now?"
"Well, too bad. That's the best way I can put it."
"I accept your answer but no. No, I'm not happy."
"And whose fault is that?" she asked with that razor sharp edge that made him flinch.
"Mine, damn it. Don't rub it in." House grumbled as he absently traced the flame design on his cane.
After a couple of minutes, her bare feet came into his field of vision and he met her weary gaze.
"What the hell do you really want from me, House?"
"I don't know. I just do know that…things don't suck as badly when I'm around you."
She blinked owlishly and then she seemed to collapse in on herself. He took the opportunity to pull her down into a kiss, deep and full of promise…
"I still think you're a bastard."
"I can live with that."
"If I let you screw me, then you're going to have to make an effort not to sabotage it afterwards."
"I can try."
A beat and then, "That's good enough for now."
Met with her grudging approval, he resumed their kissing.
He actually felt a little better and although he didn't feel happy, he didn't feel confused anymore…and he had Cameron.
It was better than nothing.