Disclaimer: Everybody lies.
Spoilers: My timeline for this is AU following "Who's Your Daddy?" but there are potential character-insightey spoilers (House's childhood, etc) for all episodes aired in the US.
Author's Notes: Mad props to Houseketeer, dream7me7to7sleep, mishy-mo, RedGrayBall, and all the other incredibly talented writers who got me hooked on the whole House/Cam thing enough to write a fic of my very own. You guys are awesome. Also, no one seems to agree on the age difference between House and Cameron, just that it's considerable. I'm going by stats, which would put them at 27 and about-to-turn-47 at the beginning of this story (spring of 2006).
~ ~ ~ House M.D. ~ ~ ~
Cameron heard the tell-tale squeak-thump of a cane on linoleum behind her, and didn't wait for him to pause melodramatically in the doorway and decide on a suitable sarcastic greeting. "What do you want, House?"
"Do you remember Joey Arnello, A.K.A. Joey Smith?"
The mob boss' gay brother. "Yes."
Bill Arnello has invited himself to the benefit we're having to raise money for a new MRI machine."
"The MRI machine you broke?"
"The very same. He's promised a considerable donation. I'm under strict orders from Cuddy to show up in a tux and be hospitable and friendly."
"I don't see how you disobeying Cuddy involves me," Cameron observed, returning her attention to the pile of charts in front of her.
"Oooh, dry and cutting wit. I have taught you well, young duckling." House chose a chair and rested his chin on the handle of his cane, not taking his eyes off her.
Cameron sighed, already knowing she would agree unless he wanted a kidney-and possibly even then. "What is it?"
"I need a favor. Bill is trying to set me up with his cousin. I have no interest in a live stage version of 'Married To The Mob,' so I need you to pretend to be my girlfriend."
There were so many things wrong with that sentence that at first she couldn't begin to formulate a reply. "Huh?" she managed at last. "Why me?"
"Because you're nice." He spat the word out as though it tasted bad. "Even if you won't do it for the hospital, or to keep me from ending up in cement booties, you'll do it to spare Lucia Arnello's tender feelings."
"Because..." she prompted him.
"Because plan B is damn the torpedoes and tell her to her face, 'no way in hell.' Or possibly using her for sex first, then dumping her. If she's hot."
She knew him well enough to know that he might not be joking. "Why can't I just be your date for the benefit? Why bother with the whole 'fake-girlfriend' thing?"
"Because otherwise Cuddy, who is the devil incarnate, will tell Bill that I'm single." He twirled his cane. "In or out, kid."
"Don't call me kid." Cameron considered. "Two conditions."
"Let's hear it."
"You do my clinic hours for a month."
"You use my name, which in case you didn't know, is Allison."
"Done." They shook on it.
He started it the next morning, much earlier than she was expecting, given that the benefit was more than a month away. He accepted his morning coffee with a kiss on the nape of her neck and an absent, "Thanks, honey."
"Honey?" Foreman echoed incredulously.
"Yes, in case you were unaware, it's an accepted social practice to address someone by pet names when you're dating them," was House's sour reply. "She calls me Gonzo the Magnificent."
Cameron suppressed a snicker. "House..."
His lips pursed. "Party pooper."
"We have a case."
"Oh, fine. She's so strict," he added in an aside to a gobsmacked Chase and Foreman. "I"m sure one of these days she's going to break out the whips and chains."
"Greg!" Cameron growled, blushing furiously.
He rolled his eyes and heaved a sigh. "Yes, dear. Eleven-year-old female presents with vertigo, vomiting, cramps, and tinnitus. Differential diagnosis."
"Does the patient scuba dive? Could be pressure sickness or nitrous oxide poisoning," Chase suggested.
"Checked by the ER. Patient can't swim, NO2 sats are normal, and these are chronic intermittent symptoms."
"Any head injuries?"
House snorted. "Did I list that as a symptom?"
"It could be from a prior injury," Foreman muttered.
"Any family history of similar symptoms? Anything in particular seem to bring on the spells?" Cameron inquired.
"The history was taken by an ER intern, so maybe. And no, no environmental commonalities." He watched her intently. "You've got something."
"Don't be coy," he scolded her. "Share with the class, there's a good girl."
He considered. He'd been leaning toward an injury or deformation of the inner ear himself, but hadn't narrowed it to a specific disease. "Rare and difficult to diagnose. Not to mention she's young for onset of symptoms. I like it. Cameron, go get a patient history, Foreman, get an ENT in for a consult, Chase, do a blood panel just in case it's a chronic ear infection."
"What are you going to do?" Chase was bold enough to demand.
"What I do best. Delegate. Now shoo."
Once the ducklings had scattered, House settled into his office with Thelonious Monk and a Vicodin chaser. He knew it wouldn't be long before either Chase or Foreman (probably Chase) blabbed and Cuddy came to bitch him out. Might as well get it over with.
Sure enough, Cuddy made an appearance before lunch. "House, I heard a disturbing rumour this morning."
"Is it the one about you and the amorous St. Bernard?" he inquired. "Don't worry, bestiality's very chic these days."
"No, it's about you and Dr. Cameron."
"Are you going to tell me what it is, or should I save time and just deny it now?"
Cuddy pinched the bridge of her nose. "Please tell me you're not sleeping with your subordinate."
"You didn't have a problem with it a year ago."
"A year ago she hadn't made herself indispensable. I've got used to you having your mail answered and your charting finished more or less on time. I need Cameron to stay, and I don't see her doing that if you dump her."
"Oh, relax. We're not sleeping together."
She blinked at him, looking incredulous. "You're not?"
"Of course not. Ally's a good girl; she doesn't put out until at least the fifth date."
"You can not be serious."
"Okay, I'm lying," he agreed amiably. "We're screwing like very kinky bunnies. Are we done here?"
"Do you know how it looks for you to be dating your employee?"
"Once again, you didn't have an issue with this a year ago," he pointed out. "And I don't pay her salary; I don't even sign her paychecks. But if the two of you want to go for a little girl-on-girl action, I'd be okay with that. Just please-take lots of pictures."
"This isn't just about appearances. This is about lawsuits. The board will not approve. You could both get fired for this."
House scoffed. "If you were going to fire me you should have done it already. Now I have tenure. You can't get rid of me."
Cuddy crossed her arms over her ample chest. "I can fire her."
"Don't you dare harass Allison about this!" Because she'll fold like yesterday's newspaper and tell you everything.
Cuddy's Queen Bitch Of The Universe expression softened. "You really care about her, don't you?"
Aha! Gotcha! He did a good impression of reluctance, fiddled with his cane, and finally admitted in a low voice, "Yes."
Cuddy was silent a moment. "I'm going to let this slide," she decided at last. "Because Dr. Cameron is not the kind of person who would bring a sexual harassment suit against this hospital out of spite, and because if you're lucky...you might actually end up happy."
House hid his relief and snarked, "This conversation has been almost pleasant, Cuddy...you're losing your touch."
"Oh, go do your clinic hours," she snarled and stalked out.
They were able to diagnose their patient with Meniere's, and spent the rest of the day catching up on paperwork and clinic hours. Cameron saw House grimacing throughout the day, massaging his leg and popping Vicodin like Tic-Tacs. He was even more snarly than usual, mocking Chase and baiting Foreman, in addition to reducing one of the clinic nurses to tears.
By five p.m. she'd had enough. She went up to him where he was leaning heavily on the Admissions counter, placing a hand at the small of his back. For once, she had the opportunity to show that she cared about him without being rebuffed, and even if it was just a ruse, she'd take it. "Why don't we call it a day and go home? I'll make you dinner."
He stiffened, and she thought he was about to refuse, but he said, "My place?"
"Do you have anything remotely resembling food in your fridge?"
"Your place it is."
He followed her home and settled onto her couch like he belonged there, while she poured them each a glass of wine and changed out of her work clothes. Comfy in an ancient pair of jeans and a t-shirt from her brother emblazoned with the sentiment talk nerdy to me, she filled a hot water bottle and came into the living room to set it on House's thigh, hoping he wouldn't make an issue of it. "How do you feel about lasagna?"
"Well, I don't want to marry it or anything, but we get along okay."
Cameron checked the lasagna she'd taken out of the freezer the night before to make sure it was thawed, then turned the oven on. "You can turn on the stereo if you want," she called as she rummaged in the fridge to find the makings for a decent salad.
"It's the silver remote on the coffee table."
A moment, and then the bold notes of Ella Fitzgerald's cover of "Sunshine Of Your Love" filled the silence. Cameron turned, bumping the fridge door closed with her hip, and yelped when she bumped into House, barely retaining her hold on the cucumber. "House!" It was all she could say, pressed against him from shoulder to knee as he steadied her.
"Just wondered if you needed any help," he offered, his voice almost gentle. "Lasagna's a lot of work."
"Already done." She gestured to the foil-wrapped casserole dish on the counter. "When I feel like lasagna, I make two or three extra and freeze them. It is kind of a pain in the ass to make from scratch."
"Do you make your own noodles?"
"I'm not quite that anal. But I do make my own sauce, fresh tomatoes, whole nine yards. My grandmother taught me." She topped off his wine glass while he was there, then ordered him with mock sternness, "Go sit. You're my guest. I'll be done in a couple of minutes."
"Are you ordering me out because I'm a guest, or because I'm a gimp?" he asked with only a trace of his usual ire.
"Both. Also because Wilson says you're a disaster in the kitchen," she replied honestly.
He went without a smartass comment, which was better than she'd expected. He made up for it when she finished the salad and joined him, just in time for the CD player to switch to "I've Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)."
"This is weirdly appropriate."
Cameron was silent as Ella crooned, Never treats me sweet and gentle, the way he should; I've got it bad, and that ain't good...
"Sorry," he offered awkwardly. "Bad joke."
Not willing to have that conversation, and strangely disturbed to sit next to him as a dead singer exposed her deepest secrets, she suggested, "We could watch a movie."
He was silent for long enough that the song changed, to Billie Holiday's "Love For Sale."
"I would have figured you for a Britney Spears fan."
He figured that pretty much summed it up. Every time he thought he had her figured, she threw him a curveball. For someone who couldn't lie to save her life (or a patient's), she had a lot of hidden depths. "What movie?"
She reached for the DVDs she had yet to return to Blockbuster. "I've got...Clueless, Batman Begins, and The Aviator."
He winced. "A cross-section of crap."
"That's pretty insulting, coming from someone who watches General Hospital." She gestured to the cabinet next to the TV.
"You pick, then."
He surprised her by choosing Arsenic And Old Lace. "What, Josephine Hull is a great character actress."
"I think so," Cameron agreed, settling into one corner of the couch with a throw pillow in her lap. "I'm just surprised that you do."
"Well it's good to know that I can still surprise you. Because some days, woman, you confuse the fuck outta me." He sprawled on the couch once more, waiting for the DVD menu to come up.
"Huh. Well, I guess I'll take that as a compliment." She cuddled the pillow against her chest, resting her chin on it, and watched the movie.
House spent the whole night waiting for the domesticity to irritate the hell out of him. He ate her really incredible lasagna, ruining his palate for takeout for at least a week, drank wine, watched the movie. She served fudge cheesecake and irish coffee and they managed to converse without her getting insulted and snapping at him. She made him sleep in her spare room because he'd had too much to drink, and he chose not to tell her that he'd driven with more alcohol in his system. She even re-filled the hot water bottle for the residual ache in his leg that he'd refused to mention.
He decided it was sneaky and underhanded and completely unfair of her to be smart, beautiful, a fantastic cook, and possess the ability to pamper him without pissing him off. She hadn't nagged him for mixing Vicodin and alcohol, either, and there wasn't a single person he knew who didn't love to play that tune. A month of her rubbing that damn niceness all over him, and he'd go soft. Not to mention he had to do her clinic hours.
No doubt about it. Even though it had been his idea, she'd tricked him into it somehow. It was all part of her diabolical master plan. He just knew it.
"You're here early today," James Wilson observed when he came to Diagnostics to raid the coffee pot.
"That's an ugly-ass tie," House shot back, then when his friend scowled, added with mock contrition, "Sorry, I thought it was my turn to say something really obvious."
Wilson sipped his coffee. "What does Cameron put in here? I've never had coffee this good."
"Don't know; she guards her coffee recipe like it's the combination for Fort Knox. I planned to spy on her this morning, but she already had it made when she came in to wake me up."
"You spent the night with her?" Wilson groaned. "Christ, House. And when you dump her and break her heart, you'll lose your best diagnostician, and I'll be spending a small fortune at Starbucks. Thanks a lot."
"Cameron puts up with a fair amount of your crap, House, but even she's got limits."
"No, who says I'm gonna dump her?"
"So, what, you're going to move in together? Tie the knot? Have baby Houses?" Wilson raised one eyebrow. House couldn't contain a shudder at the thought of offspring, and his so-called friend howled with laughter. "How long has this been going on, anyway?"
"It won't last a week!"
House smirked, not looking up from his PSP. "Bet?"
"Absolutely! It'll make a dent in all the money you owe me." He took a sip of his coffee. "Terms?"
"I'll bet you a thousand dollars and a month of clinic duty that we're still together for the Nuclear Medicine benefit next month."
"The one to replace the MRI? You're going to that?"
"The MRI that I broke? Yeah, I kinda have to." Not at all perturbed, he continued to fiddle with the game console. "The Bride Of Satan declared that all department heads must attend."
"Where's the yelling?" Wilson demanded, incredulous. "The projectiles? The tearing of hair? Why aren't you scheming to get out of it? Are you feeling okay?"
"I feel great." A decent sleep, coffee in bed and one of Cameron's omlettes had done a lot to take the edge off his mood, but he wasn't about to tell Wilson that. "Must be all the sex. Exercise, orgasms, feel-good endorphins," he added in a wicked attempt to disgust his friend.
Sure enough... "Excuse me, I need to go bleach my brain." Making a face, he retreated to his own office, leaving House to enjoy coffee and Grand Theft Auto in peace.
By the end of the week, House was counting that thousand, not to mention making plans for a clinic-free month. He'd pushed his own hours off on his ducklings as usual, but he still had Cameron's to do, and he'd managed to repress the memory of how much he hated the medically pedestrian diagnoses, screaming kids and overprotective parents that were featured in the clinic.
And to top it off, when Cuddy got wind of him showing up in the clinic without being escorted at gunpoint, she came to investigate. "What are you doing here?"
"Ah, Cuddy! Taking the twins out for a stroll, are we?"
"Can it, House. What are you doing here?"
"Well, you see, us doctors show up here, and the sick people come in that door over there-" he indicated it with his cane- "and we make them all better."
"Since when do you come to the clinic without me threatening to castrate you? And now you're doing Cameron's hours? You don't even do your own."
Cameron came up behind them to hand off a chart to one of the nurses, then selected another and began making notes. "He lost a bet," she said without looking up. "But don't worry, honey, five times in one night is still very impressive."
Cuddy put one hand to her forehead, muttered, "Suddenly I feel the need for extensive psychotherapy," and fled.
"That was evil," House observed, then sniffled and mimed wiping away a tear. "It makes me so proud."
"Behave yourself, or you'll spend tonight alone eating takeout Chinese."
"And the alternative would be?" he inquired, wondering idly when solitude and takeout had lost its' appeal.
"I'll cook. I'll even do it at your place so you can hog the leftovers."
Leftovers sounded good, but he wasn't sure it was an equal trade for Cameron waking him with her really excellent coffee. "Do you not remember the state of my refrigerator?"
"There's this neat place called a grocery store..."
"I don't do grocery stores, babe."
"All right, all right, no grocery stores-just don't call me babe."
"I can't call you babe, can't call you kid...what do you suggest?"
"How about my name?"
"Okay...Allison." It felt a little weird. He didn't think he'd ever used her first name before. "So what's on the menu?"
"I was thinking sushi, miso soup, gomai-ei, edamame, maybe some gyoza. Nothing fancy."
"Sushi's 'nothing fancy?' I don't think I've met anyone who made good sushi since I lived in Kyoto as a kid."
"My best friend in high school was Yukimi Mitsui. Her dad was a great cook-he taught us." She looked up from her chart. "Does that sound ok, or are you more the meat-and-potatoes type?"
"Honey, however you want to make it is just how I like it," he replied feelingly. Stacy had been a horrific cook-the only times someone had consistently cooked for him since he left home was Wilson, when he was on a post-divorce tour of House's couch.
"Okay." She checked her watch. "And seeing as how I'm doing your clinic hours and not my own, it's time for me to sign out early and go barge into Wilson's office without knocking."
"Is it getting that late already?" he drawled.
"It is. In fact, you're running behind-you should have been overly attached to a patient by now," she countered, eyes sparkling with laughter.
"Hey, let's not go crazy."
House pushed open the door to the conference room just in time to hear the mating call of the cuckolded Australian wombat. "-sleeping your way through the hospital!"
Cameron responded with one hell of a left hook. "Egomaniacal prick!" she spat, as Chase cupped one hand under his nose to catch the blood.
"Allison, no hitting," House admonished her, not bothering to hide his smirk. "Use your words."
Chase spun around. "You're a witness! She hit me! You saw it!" he yelled, voice nasal and distorted.
House tsked. "I saw you call my girlfriend a slut. Then I saw you trip and do a faceplant into the conference table. You really should be more careful."
"She belonged to me first," Chase muttered, sullen.
"The fact that she slept with you because she was high and thought she might be infected with a terminal disease is nothing to brag about," was House's disdainful reply. "Her judgment was impaired and you took advantage; the only thing that makes you is a sick, pathetic bastard." He switched his focus to Cameron, who was deathly pale and looked like she was about to cry. "Come on, Slugger, I'll take you home."
He drove her car, taking her to his place because it was closer and he wanted to get some ice on that hand. She went where he steered her, pupils dilated, breathing unsteady, cradling her right hand to her chest. Definitely in shock. He took her hand gently once they were seated on the couch, palpating it to make sure nothing was broken. The skin had split on one of her knuckles, but other than that she seemed okay.
She still hissed when he pressed the ice-pack against her hand, and it seemed to bring her back. "I've never hit anyone before," she said, not looking at him.
"Well, you did good for a rookie. Didn't even break a nail."
"I don't think I'll be trying it again anytime soon."
"Sure. Next time Chase is an asshole, I'll just trip him with my cane. No guy wants to admit he was beat up by a cripple."
"Once I would've said that you're more of an asshole than Chase could ever be." She bit her lip, then offered him a shaky smile. "Turns out, he just hides it better."
"What else did the little shit say to you?"
"It's not important."
"Unless you tell me, I don't know how long I need to torment him for."
"Well, you heard the last part."
"Something about sleeping your way through the hospital. When you get to Cuddy, can I watch?"
That earned him a watery laugh. "He said that...I must really be desperate for a lay if I'd settle for you...that the whole hospital knows you're just using me for sex, that when it gets out I had an affair with my boss it'll ruin me...that he'll make sure everyone knows I came onto him like a cheap whore, that I'm the staff bike...for a good time, call Allison."
"I shouldn't have asked you to do this. Sorry."
She looked up. "Wow, you didn't even choke on that."
He scowled at her. "Very gracious. See if I ever say it again."
She offered a half-smile. "Don't be sorry. At least now I know what he's really like. He's asked me out a couple of times since...that night. I was thinking about saying yes. I'm really glad I didn't." She shifted the ice-pack on her injured hand. "Is this the part where you tell me that he's just jealous, and he didn't mean any of it? Because I'm pretty sure he did."
"Nope, this is the part where I tell you he's got a fucked-up attitude toward women. He said you belonged to him first, like you're a dog that ran away. That's not normal." He'd missed most of the argument, but the look in Chase's eyes had creeped him right the fuck out. "I want you to tell me if he says or does anything else, and we're reporting this to Cuddy in the morning."
"House-" she protested.
"Unofficially. It's our word against his, and he's going to say that you hit him if we make a big deal out of it."
"I did hit him."
"But he can't prove it if we manage to keep the swelling down." He glanced at her injured hand. "I just want Cuddy aware of the problem in case it happens again. In harassment cases, when the so-called victim is lying, they usually bring up past incidents that they failed to report. Administration sees that behavior as a big red flag, so let's cover our asses just in case."
"It's not like I'm going to sue," she protested.
"No, but I might need just cause to fire him if he keeps it up."
"I didn't expect you to take this so seriously," she admitted.
"I don't like Chase. He's a prick who tries to pretend to be a nice guy. I know from experience that if you're a prick, you don't have to pretend to be a nice guy to get your way, so it makes me suspicious."
"How do you know so much about harassment cases?"
"I pissed off one of the nurses in Cardiology a few years ago, when I first took over Diagnostics. I gave her crap for not following chart instructions that deviated from the normal routine. The patient didn't get monitored often enough on the new meds and went into anaphylaxis-crash cart, tracheotomy, the whole nine yards. She was suspended for two weeks, and apparently I 'humiliated' her in front of the other nurses. She accused me of sexual harassment to get back at me. There was an investigation, and she got fired, but a lot of the nursing staff still figure I'm guilty. That's why they hate me with a firey passion."
Cameron didn't know what to say to that. Faking a charge of rape or sexual harassment was, in her opinion, the most despicable thing a woman could do, and it wasn't fair that House was still being blamed after so many years. On the other hand, she'd seen how he'd acted around Stacy. If that wasn't harassment, it was damned close. "I believe you," she said at last, because she did. He had no reason to lie-as he'd said, he didn't need to pretend to be a nice guy to get his way.
"But..." he added, gesturing for her to continue.
"Ah. So you think my martyrdom is impaired, because I am guilty, just not the way they think."
"That's harsher than I would have expected from you, Dr. Sunshine," he observed, but he didn't seem offended. "If it helps, I may have annoyed the hell out of Stacy, and I definitely accused her of still having feelings for me, but I never called her a whore. Never would have, because she isn't."
"You would know, I guess."
Now, now, Allison, that's very politically incorrect, I'm shocked. The proper term is escort, or sex-trade worker. Lady of the night, if you're feeling poetic."
"I'm not, particularly." She lifted the ice off her hand to check the swelling. "I guess sushi's out."
"I don't expect you to cook for me," he confessed. "I sure as hell don't mind, but you work long hours too."
"I like cooking. It's cheaper than therapy, and you have something to show for it when you're done. Have you ever noticed that they tend to have homemade raisin bread in the maternity staffroom?" He raised an eyebrow, and she nodded. "Whenever you really piss me off, I come home and beat the hell out of some bread dough. If I ate all that raisin bread, I'd weigh five hundred pounds, so I leave it for them."
"You always leave a note-'Thanks for your help. Sincerely, The Stork.' No loopy G's, so I didn't know it was you. Stealthy."
"Greg, it's supposed to be for the nurses," she protested, but she didn't seem annoyed.
"Don't bother pretending that you don't know I nap on their couch when I'm avoiding Cuddy. Your intel's better than that."
"It is. For instance, I know that you don't like raisins. You always pick them out of the cafeteria's cinnamon buns."
"That's because raisins don't belong in cinnamon buns. Or in rice pudding. They do belong in raisin bread-hence the name. I like raisin bread just fine-especially the homemade kind, fresh out of the toaster oven with plenty of butter."
"Well, I'll have to stop leaving it there, then. That's negative reinforcement."
"I'm not a puppy you're trying to obedience train," he remarked, scowling.
"I know that. You're untrainable. Doesn't mean I'm going to reward you for being a jerk. You don't need the encouragement."
"Put the ice back on your hand," he ordered gruffly, glancing around the room for a suitable distraction. "I'll order some food."
"Yes, dear." But she did as she was told, curling up on the couch with her legs tucked under her. "Greg?"
"Don't mention it. Ever. What do you want on your half of the pizza?"
They reported the incident to Cuddy with a minimum of fuss. No disciplinary action requested or taken, just a record of his behavior. Cuddy agreed to schedule a 'discussion' with Chase to remind him, without being specific, that it was PPTH policy to treat co-workers with respect, which included not making negative comments about their personal lives.
Cameron was more openly affectionate afterward, calling him Greg, and not doing that spastic thing where she started to touch him and then stopped herself. Friday night, she did make sushi, laughing at his suggestion that she serve it nyotaimori style. They both drank too much sake and he spent the night in her guest room again. He'd overindulged on purpose, and was pleasantly unsurprised when she woke him at noon by bringing him coffee.
"I could get used to this," he muttered, inhaling the scent. "Really, very used to this."
"If you can make it to the couch, there's a Bugs Bunny marathon on TV."
"Waffles?" he bargained, having seen the waffle iron on her kitchen counter.
"I could do that," she agreed with a playful half-smile.
He was halfway through his second cup of coffee, watching as Wile E. Coyote assembled an ACME contraption, when there was a knock at the door. "Greg, could you get that?" Allison called, elbow-deep in waffle batter. But just as House was getting to his feet, there was the snick-click of a key in the lock and the door opened.
"Hello, my dear, sweet baby sister!" the visitor called out. "I've come to let you make me breakfast! Are you u-" he stopped, staring at House. He took in the coffee cup, and House's bedhead and bare feet. He crossed his arms over his chest and narrowed very familiar blue eyes. "Who are you?" he demanded.
Cameron dashed out of the kitchen and skidded to a halt on the hardwood floor. "Alex! Um, hi! I wasn't expecting you."
"Clearly," he replied with considerable sarcasm.
Cameron crossed her arms too, and glared at her brother. "Behave, or you don't get waffles."
He huffed a sigh and extended a hand to House. "Alex Cameron. I'm Allie's big brother, and I'm a professor at NYU."
House shook. "Greg House. We work together at Princeton-Plainsboro."
"You're House? Her boss?" the older Cameron demanded, looking shocked. "Mom's gonna flip."
"Alex!" Cameron turned pleading Bambi eyes on her brother. "Pleeease don't tell Mom and Dad!"
"She's ashamed of me," House confided to Alex, with his best dejected expression.
"House!" Cameron looked from one to the other, then threw up her hands. "I give up!" she exclaimed dramatically, then stalked back into the kitchen.
"So." Alex studied him some more. "You're a lot older than Allie."
House rolled his eyes. "No shit. Relax, cowboy, your sister plied me with alcohol and then confiscated my keys. I slept in the guest room."
"So you're not sleeping with her?"
A humiliated moan from the kitchen.
"Why do I not believe you?"
"Because everybody lies," was House's helpful reply. "Also, you don't know me at all. But you should know Allison. She's not a first-date kind of girl, or even a third-date kind of girl."
He blinked a couple of times. "No, she isn't. A lot of guys aren't okay with waiting."
"One; I'm not a lot of guys, two; I'm pretty sure she's worth the wait, and three; in the meantime, she's a helluva cook."
"Mhmmm." Alex eyed him up and down. "You don't have a terminal disease, do you?"
"I'm an asshole. So far there's no cure."
"Right." Alex flopped down on the couch. "Well, you're okay by me."
"What?" House wasn't sure he'd heard right.
"You respect her, you're not gonna die on her and break her heart, and you're too prickly for her to be with you out of pity. Allie's a martyr sometimes, but she's not a masochist."
"You sure about that? She seems to have a thing for guys who're damaged."
"Nah." Alex shook his head. "She likes 'em smart, the smarter the better. Most geniuses are damaged somehow." He laughed a little. "She was like God's gift to geeks in high school, pretty cheerleader, homecoming queen, captain of the girls' volleyball team, lead in the school musical...and the guys she'd get crushes on were, like, the ones in astronomy club. Pissed the jocks off to no end, it was fucking hilarious."
"I heard that!" Allison hollered from the kitchen. "Don't you dare tell him embarrassing stories, Alex, or I'll hold your waffles hostage!"
"I don't negotiate with terrorists!" he called back, laughing. "Now bring me some coffee, woman!"
"What's the magic word?"
"You're one smart remark away from a coffee mug upside the head!" was her reply. "Stop showing off for my boyfriend before I tell Mom you don't have company manners anymore!"
House watched the playful exchange like he was at a tennis match. He didn't have any siblings and had always wondered what it would be like-he found himself envying their affectionate teasing. The three of them carried on a pleasant conversation through breakfast and cartoons, and then House made a lame excuse about having paperwork to give Cameron some time alone with her brother.
She rolled her eyes. "Since when do you do paperwork?"
"Christ, Allison, cut me some slack!" he grumped. "I'm trying to be polite. Spend some time with your brother while he's here. I'll have you all to myself again on Monday."
And what are you going to do, go annoy Wilson?"
"Of course. I haven't driven him nearly as crazy since we started dating. He's feeling neglected."
I'm sure," she drawled, but gave him a kiss goodbye anyway. "I'll call you later."
"Please don't. I hate telephones. Just text-message me some hearts, or something equally cheesy."
"You're such a romantic. I don't know how I stand it."
"Hey! I'm romantic like you wouldn't believe!"
"You've got that right," she muttered. "Say hi to Wilson for me."
"Sure," he replied, already plotting how to annoy his friend.
"Allison doesn't think I'm romantic," he complained when Wilson answered the door.
"Well, you're not," was the oncologist's blunt reply.
"Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence, there, Jimmy."
"She seems to like you the way you are," Wilson pointed out. "God knows why. If it isn't broken, don't fuck with it. The last time you did 'romantic' it was a total disaster."
"The date?" House didn't really need confirmation. The whole corsage/suit/fancy restaurant thing had been excruciatingly awful. "I suck at being cheesy. It's boring. That doesn't mean I can't be romantic."
"Actually, that's exactly what it means."
"Well, then, you get to help me."
"Oh, God, I knew I shouldn't have answered the door."
It turned out to be relatively painless. With Wilson's help, it only took a half hour to get things arranged, and then they were free to spend the rest of the weekend watching baseball, eating junk food, and drinking.
"Y'know," Wilson slurred during the seventh-inning stretch. "She's really good for you."
"Who's that, lightweight?"
"Dr. Camma...Came...Allishun. Good f' you. You'f been almosht...y'know..." he waggled one hand. "Happy. 'S good to shee you happy, fer a change. 'S nice. I don' worry 'bout you s'much."
House scowled. "It's not like I'm on suicide watch."
"Sometimesh, y'should be."
And he didn't really have a rebuttal for that.
The guy approached the desk, almost completely hidden by his delivery. "Dr. Allison Cameron?" he asked the nurse at the Admissions desk.
The nurse gaped for a moment. Dr. Cameron was a sweetheart, she definitely deserved flowers, but it was now common knowledge that she was dating Dr. House. Either House had sent her flowers, which was probably a sign of the impending apocalypse, or someone else was trying to steal her away. "Fourth floor, Diagnostics." Not willing to let such a prime opportunity for gossip pass her by, she rounded the counter. "I'll show you. If they're with a patient, there might not be anyone there to sign for it."
"Hey, thanks, lady! That's real nice of you."
Nice, my ass! Like I'm gonna miss this! Joanna offered him her most professional smile. "Right this way."
The conference room was empty, so once Joanna had gotten rid of the delivery man, she took a moment to gawk at the bouquet. The tall spears of the gladiolas were higher than her head when the arrangement was centered on the conference table. There was white foxglove, lush ferns and some exotic-looking lillies, a huge hydrangea in shocking violet, even a branch with glossy dark leaves and a small pear on it. And a card. No envelope.
She glanced quickly into the hallway to be sure she was unobserved, and plucked it from the holder.
"For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named..."
Joanna heaved a sigh. God, that's so romantic! Her own husband had never sent her flowers at work, much less quoted poetry, and they'd been together eight years. Joanna decided he'd be sleeping on the couch for a week, just on principle. She'd barely tucked the card away again when Dr. Cameron entered the conference room.
"Dr. Cameron, these just came for you!"
"Joanna, hi! Thanks for bringing these up. How are you doing? Is your wrist feeling any better?"
"Oh, much better, thanks!" Cameron had not only remembered her name, but the sprain she'd been in the clinic for a month previous. Joanna felt kind of bad for reading the card. "Well, I'd better get back downstairs. You have a good day, Doctor."
"You too!" Cameron took a moment to smell the roses before she read the card. She sighed, then laughed. "You moody bastard; you would quote Edgar Allan Poe."
The flowers bumped Allison's morning up from awful to mostly pleasant. Chase was still sulking over Cuddy's reprimand, and Foreman looked like he hadn't slept all weekend, with a mood to match. She spent most of the day helping out in the Immunology lab before she was paged back to Diagnostics.
She found House with his feet up on his desk, playing Mario Kart. "Where's Dr. Cuddy?"
House checked the clock. "Hmm, 3:17...she's probably having her lesson with the Devil on how to be more evil. I wonder what she charges him?" he mused.
"I don't know, nor do I care. Why?"
"She paged me. New patient?"
"God, I hope so. I'm bored out of my skull."
The office door opened, and Cuddy strode in. "Good, you're both here." Her smile could only be described as devious, as she turned and held the door open. "I found him!"
Cameron swallowed hard as she watched House's parents walk in.
"Greg!" Blythe House enthused, striding forward to give him a hug. "We came down for your birthday!"
"My birthday's on Sunday," House protested, although he returned the embrace.
"We never see you, so we decided to spend the week, right John?"
"It's not every day your only son turns 47," John House rumbled.
"Nope, usually just the one day," House replied, but his tone lacked his normal, biting sarcasm. His eyes darted from his father to his mother, almost panicked. "Mom, Dad, this is my girlfriend Allison!" he announced, nudging her forward and throwing her to the metaphorical wolves.
Cameron found herself being squeezed tight by a woman clearly thinking potential mother of my grandchildren. Over Blythe's shoulder, she mouthed the words 'You owe me BIG time' at her boss.
'Anything,' he mouthed back, his blue eyes pleading for her co-operation.
Cameron smiled when Blythe finally released her. "It's nice to see you again, Mrs. House."
"Please, sweetheart, call me Blythe." She was practically vibrating with excitement. "How long have the two of you been dating?"
"About three weeks," Cameron lied. That was how long the ruse had been going on, and she was just thankful the Houses would be gone before the Nuclear Medicine benefit.
"How exciting! I was beginning to think Greg was never going to get married and give me grandchildren!" the older woman enthused.
"C'mon, Mom, try not to scare her away," House protested, clearly embarrassed.
John House was scowling. "I never figured you for a cradle robber, son."
Cameron winced. It was sort of true, but...well, now she knew that House came by his complete lack of tact honestly. "He isn't, actually," she disagreed, softening the statement with a slight smile. "I've been chasing him for years, and he finally gave in."
"Hmm. No accounting for taste, I suppose."
Wow, that was rude. "My mom always says that the heart doesn't know anything about time. She was seventeen when she met my father, and he was thirty. They're still together, so I guess she knows what she's talking about." Take that, you big jerk, she thought, angling her chin as though daring him to take another verbal pot-shot.
"So that would make your mother..."
"A year older than Greg." Cameron crossed her arms over her chest. "So?"
"So how old are you?"
"Twenty-seven." Her eyes sparked, challenging him.
"He's old enough to be your father!"
"My father was thirty-four when I was born."
"You know damned well what I mean, young lady!" he thundered.
"What I know is that you're not winning any brownie points with that attitude, Major House! I grew up in a military family and I have three older brothers; you couldn't intimidate me on your best day, so mind your damned manners!"
John House burst out laughing. "Damn, Greggo, you picked a feisty one." He gave his son one of those manly back-slapping hugs. "I like her. She won't take any of your crap." He turned back to Cameron. "So, how many grandchildren can I expect out of you?"
She shrugged. "Multiple births run in my family on both sides, so even though I only want three, we might end up with seventeen."
John gaped at her. "She's kidding, Dad." House was actually almost smiling. "Seventeen kids from three pregnancies is statistically impossible. Trust me; I'm a doctor."
"He's right, but we could end up with ten. It happened to my Auntie Cathy on my Dad's side," Cameron revealed. Blythe looked joyous; House looked slightly ill. "Two sets of triplets and a set of quads. All boys."
"I suddenly feel the need for a vasectomy," House observed.
"Greg, stop trying to scare your mother."
"Are you free for dinner, honey?" Blythe asked her son.
Cameron glanced at House, saw an imperceptible nod. "Some of us, who shall remain Greg, still have clinic hours to do. But unless we get an emergency case, we could have dinner. There's a nice steakhouse over on 5th and University."
"I'd really like that." Blythe's eyes were teary. "I have a feeling we'll see a lot more of Greg with you in his life."
Cameron smiled and nodded and felt like a cold-hearted bitch. The occasional dinner clearly meant a lot to the elder Houses, and she doubted the pattern would continue once House no longer needed a fake girlfriend. Well, maybe it would-she could try bribing House with raisin bread.
"Sorry about my dad," House said when they were on their way to dinner. "He's..."
"Stubborn? Tactless? Kind of a jerk?" When House nodded, Cameron teased him, "Gee, that doesn't sound like anyone else I know."
"We butted heads a lot when I was a kid." He pressed his lips together, clearly regretting having revealed even that much.
Cameron chose to change the subject. "Did I ever tell you about the time I went skinny-dipping with my sorority sisters?"
"No, and you definitely should have," House replied, successfully distracted and cheered. "Give me lots of details. Feel free to re-enact it."
"Well, there was this huge fountain in front of the art building, waist-deep with a big bronze sculpture in the middle. People were always putting soap or dye in it, sometimes one of the frats would get a pledge drunk and chain him to the sculpture in his boxers. It was September, it had been boiling hot all week, and we were coming back from a mixer across campus. We were walking, we were drunk, it was three a.m., and we decided to go for a little swim."
"Please tell me there was making out."
"Tasha kissed me; she always was a horny drunk. And then..." Cameron stopped there.
"And then?!" House prompted, visions of naked sorority girls dancing in his head.
"I think that's enough for now," Cameron decided with a judicious nod. "I'll tell you more some other time."
"You are such a tease! What was that?"
"That was a prize for doing all of your own clinic hours for a change, with no litigation threats and minimal bitching."
"I did yours too, if you'll recall."
"That's right, you did. So like I said, Tasha and I made out, at least I'm pretty sure it was Tasha, and we had a water fight. Have you ever tried to dunk a naked woman in water that's only waist-deep?"
"Can't say that I have."
"It's hard when they're all slippery. You have to get a really good grip...just wrap yourself around them and pull," she murmured.
"Is there more?"
"Oh, yeah. Maybe I'll tell you tomorrow."
House leaned his head back against the headrest and sighed. "Was it good for you, too? Now I need a cigarette."
"I don't know what the big deal is; I didn't even tell it well. I should have said something like-" she lowered her voice to a throaty purr- "I could feel her breasts rubbing against mine as she sucked my tongue..."
"Stop," House interrupted, his voice very quiet. Dirty talk was one of his bulletproof kinks and he didn't want to have a hard-on through dinner with his parents.
She blushed. "Sorry. Told you I couldn't tell it well."
Oh, you did fine. In fact, I'll be jerking off to that for weeks.
The restaurant was packed, mostly with university professors, and a couple of students on dates. It was not so loud that his parents asked to leave, but loud enough to preclude much serious conversation; having to half-shout was not the ideal volume for discussing his leg, drug use or refusal to attend family functions, even if John House had the gall to bring it up in front of his new girlfriend. Thankfully, they spent most of dinner chewing and making small talk about the weather.
"So, Allison dear, has Greg met any of your family yet?"
"My parents are still in Wisconsin, but my brother Alex lives in New York; Greg met him last week."
"Oh, really?" Blythe raised one eyebrow. "How did that go?"
"Went fine," House observed around a mouthful of steak. "He's ok. Low standards."
"Meaning he didn't disapprove of you dating his little sister," John House rumbled, brows creased in a frown.
"John." Blythe House gave her husband a gently reproving look.
"You disapprove enough for all of us, Dad," House replied in such a genial tone that it took his father a moment to realize he'd been insulted.
"Greg," Cameron hissed in an identical tone, and the two women glanced at each other and shook their heads, exasperated. "I don't know why I bother. He doesn't hear it."
"I hear what you're saying," House assured her. "I just don't listen."
Blythe laughed. "Does that ever sound familiar."
"Was he like this as a kid?" Cameron inquired, her eyes bright with suppressed laughter.
Blythe made a noncommittal noise and inclined her head subtly in her husband's direction.
House caught it and tried not to laugh. Somehow, an evening with his parents had not been complete torture; and he was pretty sure he had Cameron to thank for that.
On his daily pilgrimage to Diagnostics to cadge Allison's coffee the next day, Wilson asked, "So, how are your parents?"
"You know how they are; you talk to them more than I do," House grumped around a cherry lollipop. "What you really want to know is if I successfully avoided them. Cuddy ambushed me, Dad gave me shit for being a cradle-robber, we went to dinner, and Allison told me a dirty bedtime story. The end."
"She did not," Wilson protested.
"She totally did. Skinny dipping and making out with her sorority sisters."
"Cameron was in a sorority?"
"Apparently. And there's more in the Adventures Of Allison. I get to hear them if I'm a good boy. Ergo me not killing Cuddles."
"So how are things with you and Cameron?"
"Good. She survived my dad, and I met one of her brothers."
"And that wasn't a disaster?"
"I'm not terminally ill, so he likes me fine. Low standards." House crunched the lollipop, then glanced at the clock. "I'm due in the clinic."
"And you're actually going."
"If I don't, she won't tell me the story of the three little sorority girls and the big bad dildo. And that would be a tragedy."
House had found that there were some benefits to getting his clinic hours out of the way in the morning. It tended to be slow that early in the day, and then he didn't have to dread them all afternoon. At least, that was the theory. But when he went downstairs on Tuesday morning, he was greeted by Cuddy and a cluster of baby-docs.
"Interns? Is it that time of year again?" House drawled.
"Oh, relax, Mommy. I promise to share my sandbox and play nice with the other kids."
Cuddy sighed. "If you break them, I'll sic Allison on you."
"Jahwol, mein Fuhrer!" House offered a sarcastic salute, then rounded on the interns. "I am Doctor Gregory House. For the next week, I am your GOD. As such, I have a few commandments. One-no names or personal stories. I don't care. Two-this is Vicodin." He held up the orange plastic bottle. "It's mine. Get your own. Three-if you suggest a moronic diagnosis, you will be mocked. No crying. Four-she is also mine." He indicated Cameron, who was crossing the lobby with an armful of charts and a travel mug of coffee. "No touching. If I catch you ogling her, you'll be on bedpan duty in Psych until five years after you die."
Cameron handed him the coffee. "Behave yourself."
"Yes dear." He pulled her closer with the hook of his cane and gave her a smacking kiss, then glared at the two male interns, who were young and blond and reminded him vaguely of Chase. "Mine."
Cameron tried not to flush. She didn't know if he was just being obnoxious, or what, but she liked the thought of him claiming her as his for real, that someday she would be able to do the same. "I'll see you for lunch. Try not to make anyone cry."
He huffed, pretending to be offended. "You say that like it happens often."
She snorted. "Gee, don't know what I was thinking."
"Oh, hush, woman." He patted her butt and sent her on her way. He heard one of the mini-Chases mutter, How did this grumpy bastard score a hottie like that? but chose to ignore it. After all, he kind of wondered the same thing.
"The cafeteria's closed," Wilson announced the next day when House stopped by his office to con him into paying for lunch.
"Did they poison somebody again?" House snarked.
"A pipe burst. We're going to have to starve. I have an appointment in thirty minutes-no time to leave the hospital."
"She'll do something about it. She's good at that."
"She already handles all your paperwork, House. If HR hears about this-"
"You gonna squeal?"
"Of course not!"
"Well, then?" Wilson followed him wordlessly into the conference room where Cameron was unpacking a paper take-out bag. "See? Told ya."
Cameron glanced up. "There you are. A pipe in the cafeteria burst, so I ordered in."
"From where?" House had noticed her fondness for vegetables and wasn't sure anything in the bag would be edible.
Wilson raised an eyebrow. "They delivered all the way from Trenton?"
She smirked. "I told them that there'd be a lot of hungry doctors here, in addition to the order I placed. They're probably sold out by now."
Wilson glanced at House. "You realize she's gonna be running this hospital some day, right?"
"That's why I plan to stay on her good side. She's very agreeable when she's post-coital."
Cameron ignored him. "One grape and walnut chicken salad-" she handed the wrapped sandwich to Wilson- "one Philly cheesesteak-" that went to Foreman- "one ham, Marmite and honey-" she handed it to Chase with a shudder of disgust- "and one Reuben. Dry, no pickles." She held it out of House's reach. "Uh-uh. There's a fruit salad and a veggie tray. You gotta have some of each first."
"Extortion!" he accused her.
"Extortion is such an ugly word." She grinned. "I prefer blackmail."
"Vegetables?" he whined. "Ally, come on."
"Eat 'em! Or I won't give you the Reuben, and there definitely won't be any nookie for dessert."
"Well, when you put it like that...no way."
Cameron made an attempt to appeal to his better nature (assuming he had one). "Greg, please, I worry about you. You don't eat right, when you bother to eat at all. You're a doctor; you know better."
He grudgingly ate a piece of grapefruit, two cherry tomatoes and a carrot before Cameron relinquished his sandwich. "You realize you've used up your favor for the month."
She smiled, unconcerned. "I'm aware."
"Where did you get that?" Cuddy demanded, having seen their feast through the glass walls and come in to investigate. "The cafeteria's shut down."
House cradled his half-eaten sandwich against his chest. "Mine," he growled. "Get your own."
Cameron smiled. "Dr. Cuddy! I ordered in from the deli. I think they've already sold everything else I suggested they bring, but I saved you a sandwich too." She retrieved it from the bag and held it out. "Tuna salad with sprouts, apple and carrot. And there's fruit salad and veggies too-Greg's treat."
"What?" House yelped. "Since when?"
"Since the Krazynski Deli has your credit card on file. It's about time you paid for a meal, don't you think?"
He grumbled but let it slide, especially since lunch would make it easier to deal with interns.
Cameron invited the Houses, Cuddy and Wilson over for dinner for House's birthday on Sunday. She didn't tell House, only saying that she had a surprise for him. "Well," he drawled when he saw his father ensconced in the armchair with a glass of scotch. "I'm surprised."
"Yeah, yeah, company manners. You owe me, woman." He scowled at her, but remained polite (for him, at least) throughout the pre- and post-dinner socializing, and he limited himself to three generous fingers of scotch.
Blythe and John House gave their son a couple of CDs-Duke Robillard jamming with BB King-and lots of socks. Wilson gave him Knicks tickets; Cuddy gave him a tie and a monogrammed lab coat with the suggestion he wear both to work. Cameron handed him a sealed birthday card.
"A card?" he huffed. "Cop-out."
"How's that sneaker taste?" she teased when he opened it and the contents fell out of the cheesy Hallmark card.
House stared down at the table, barely resisting the urge to gape and rub his eyes like a moron. "Pink Floyd, eighth row center, with backstage passes."
"Yup." Cameron sported a Cheshire grin.
"How did you get these?"
"My brother Alex-you remember him? His girlfriend's dad does pyrotechnics for Madison Square Garden. He worked me a deal." She couldn't contain her giggles at the poleaxed expression on his face. "So you like them?"
"Are you kidding? You're my new best friend!"
"Hey!" Wilson protested.
"Deal with it, she's way hotter than you are, and almost as good of a cook. Plus she's got potential grandkids going for her."
"Three with an option for seventeen, right? We really should get started-I'm not getting any younger." He looked at the tickets again with a delighted little-boy grin on his face. "Or do you need a ring first? 'Cause I could do that."
Cameron set her still-nearly-full glass of wine down on the coffee table. "I really should get the kitchen cleaned up," she said in a colorless voice. "Excuse me."
After a moment of silence, Wilson turned to his friend and asked rather plaintively, "Now what did you do?"
Brow furrowed, House replied, "I have no idea." And it bothered him more than he wanted to admit.
Cameron had made it clear the night before that he was not welcome to stay. A night of tossing and turning and a lack of coffee in bed had him looking forward to Monday with even less enthusiasm than usual. He came into the conference room to find the three ducklings sitting around the table. There was no coffee made, and Cameron was drinking tea. Crap. "I'm sorry," he said, figuring a blanket apology couldn't hurt.
She turned to him and raised an eyebrow. "Do you even know what you did?"
She shook her head. "I know you're not exactly a sensitive guy. I don't expect that. But it would be nice if you could refrain from mocking me in front of my boss and your parents."
"I wasn't!" he protested, appearing genuinely surprised by the accusation.
She just shook her head. "I have clinic hours," she informed him, and left.
Foreman was reading an article in the NEJM, supremely uninterested. Chase, however, was watching avidly with a smug smirk. "Wipe that fucking look off your face or I'll have you doing every STD test and rectal exam that comes into the clinic for the rest of the year."
"You screwed up," Chase replied, seemingly unphased by the threat.
"Yeah, well, you screwed up a lot worse, and she still makes you coffee."
"Still not sure what I did," House complained to Wilson over lunch. "And Allison's not talking."
"Sounds like one of those 'If you don't know what you did, I'm not going to tell you' situations," Wilson replied with the experience of three failed marriages behind him.
House scowled. "Mind games. I hate fucking mind games."
"You love mind games!" Wilson retorted with unsuccessfully muffled derisive laughter.
"Yeah-when I'm the one playing them!"
"And all this after she got you Pink Floyd tickets for your birthday. I don't think flowers are going to cut it this time, House. This might be jewelry."
House snorted. He was already doing a month of her clinic hours-what more did she expect out of a fake relationship? He dug out his pager.
"What are you doing?"
"Paging her to my office."
"Why? So she can yell at you?"
"She's not going to yell at me." He would bet money that Cameron wasn't a screamer.
"Would you just tell me what I did?" he demanded when she finally graced him with her presence twenty minutes after the page.
"You know how I feel about you," she began.
Yeah, but I don't understand it. In fact, I'm pretty sure I should refer you to a good therapist.
"I know that this is temporary, and I'm not getting my hopes up. It's just a...a game."
Saint Cameron not getting her hopes up? Yeah, like I'm going to buy that for a dollar.
"You have zero interest in marriage and children. I would appreciate it if you didn't joke about it."
He offered her a tentative half-smile. "I wasn't trying to mock you, if that helps. Sometimes I don't really think about what I'm saying before I say it."
"Automatic snark mechanism, I know. And yeah, it helps. Thanks."
"So, dinner and a movie tonight? My place?" In a matter of weeks they'd established a comfortable routine, and although some days he still needed to be alone in the sanctuary of his townhouse, it surprised him how often he enjoyed having company.
"What movie?" she inquired, and he could read her enigmatic Mona Lisa smile and see that he was forgiven.
"I'd say your choice, but I've seen your DVD collection. Army of Darkness?"
"I'll bring the popcorn."
"That's my girl." He flashed her a grin so bright it nearly made her dizzy. "I was thinking Korean, there's a new place on Lake I've been wanting to try."
"It's a date." Cameron smiled back and made sure to remind herself that this was only temporary.
They had Tsing-Tao with their food, and House kept topping off Cameron's glass until she was giggly and totally unable to drive.
"I'm drunk," she observed, snickering and leaning on his shoulder.
"All part of my diabolical plan. You're gonna have one hell of a hangover tomorrow."
"Mm-nuh. Don't get hangovers," she argued, nearly faceplanting into the coffee table when she attempted to stand.
"Keep telling yourself that, Stumbleina." He pulled her back onto the couch, where she wasn't a danger to herself or others. "Looks like you're staying here tonight."
"Can't have a sleepover, I di'n bring my jammies," Cameron protested.
"I guess you'll have to borrow mine." House half-led, half-carried her to his room and provided her with a faded Rolling Stones t-shirt and a pair of boxers patterned with pink hearts that had been a gag gift from Wilson and went unworn even on laundry day. "Think you can change without falling on your ass?"
"Hmm." She squinted at the clothing he was holding out. "Fifty-fifty."
"Meaning either you can, or you can't."
"Yup." She began fighting with the buttons on her vest.
"Well, holler if you need me." House vanished into the bathroom with his own sleepwear. After giving her what he considered more than enough time to get decent, he emerged to find her passed out on his bed, the boxers riding low on her hips. "Woman, you're nuts if you think I'm taking the couch. Chivalry's dead," he observed as he nudged her over so he could climb in. He sighed as she flopped back, one arm and one leg draped over him. "All part of my diabolical plan."
Cameron woke slowly. Aside from the fact that her mouth tasted like she'd licked a dirty sidewalk, she felt surprisingly okay. None of what she'd heard were the typical morning-after-the-night-before punishments; nausea, a pounding headache, and waking up on the wrong side of someone else's bed.
Scratch that-she'd either grown a few spare appendages, or there was someone else sharing her pillow, one arm flung possessively over her waist. Oh, right. Army Of Darkness and too much Asian beer. "Greg?" She gently nudged the body spooned against her back with an elbow. "Greg?"
He gave a grunt of protest and hid his face in the back of her neck. "Gggnnnnuh."
"Greg, hey, c'mon, we're gonna be late for work." Cameron attempted to slide out of his embrace so she could see the clock. The arm around her waist tightened and he used one leg to pin hers. Wary of hurting him, she didn't struggle. "If you let me up, I'll make you coffee," she coaxed.
"Mmmsleepinallie," he slurred in whiny protest, but his hold loosened, allowing her to scramble out of the tangle of blankets and head for the living room where she discovered what had woken her up in the first place. Wilson, having grown tired of knocking, was letting himself in with the spare key. "House!" he called. "You're gonna be late, again, if you don't-" He stopped when he saw her standing there in House's boxers and t-shirt, head ducked and bare toes curling against the hardwood. "Cameron."
"Hi, Dr. Wilson." Cameron could feel her cheeks turning bright red.
"I've told you to call me Jim," he chided her gently.
"Right, okay. Do you want some coffee?"
He checked his watch. "Sure, I have time for a cup."
They made uncomfortable small talk for a few minutes while the coffee brewed, until the chit-chat was broken by House calling out, "Allie? Come back to bed," and the familiar squeak-thump of his cane as he came to fetch her. "I'm closer to the hospital than you are, we don't have to get up yet. Hey, Wilson," he added, rubbing the pillow creases out of his cheek. "What are you doing here?"
"Making sure you're up. And I doubt Allison likes to be fashionably late for work."
"I'll have to be-I still need to go home and change."
"What for?" House inquired, looking disgruntled.
"I'm not wearing the same outfit to work two days in a row!"
"Yeah, I guess that's kind of like putting a neon sign on your forehead that says I got laid last night," House observed unhelpfully.
"Something like that." Cameron turned away to fuss with the coffee and hide her blush.
"Well, it's like a half-hour out of our way, so why don't you just borrow one of my shirts?"
Cameron weighed doing the Walk Of Shame versus being late for work and factored in the opportunity to spend the day snuggled in one of House's button-downs. "Okay, thanks. Coffee's ready-I'm gonna go grab a shower." She scurried off to the master bathroom.
"So how are things going with you two?" Wilson asked, adding sugar and cream to his coffee as he heard the shower start. "You out of trouble?"
"I seem to be." House shrugged, then admitted, "I don't really know what I'm doing here."
He snorted. "Yeah, I noticed. But that seems to work for you. I mean, she hasn't kicked you to the curb yet, and we're almost to the benefit."
"Yeah, speaking of that, why are you helping me with Cameron? You've got a lot of money riding on this."
"For the same reason I made the bet in the first place. She's good for you, and I don't want to see you give up on this. I figured engaging your competitive nature..."
"Ah. Gotcha." Wilson had made the bet not because he didn't think House could stick it out with Allison, but rather to ensure he had another reason to. "Counterproductive on your part."
"Not if it makes you happy."
House felt an urge to tell Wilson the truth, but like all his more noble inclinations, it quickly passed.
When Cameron walked into PPTH in yesterday's slacks and House's green button-down, sleeves rolled up, she felt like everyone was staring at her. They weren't-she looked enough to be sure-but she still felt self conscious. It was hard to help it, especially when she had to face Chase.
"You spent the night with him," the blond doctor accused.
"Yeah, usually he stays at my place." Cameron refused to give him the satisfaction of getting offended and snarling that it was none of his business. He wanted details? He could have as many as he could stand.
"He's just going to dump you, you know. He'll dump you, you'll mope until you get fired, and it'll be the end of your career. Is he worth that?"
"Yes," was her defiant reply.
"Are you completely stupid?" he demanded. "Christ, Allison, I thought you had at least half a brain! You're not his and you never will be!"
"That's correct. Because we abolished slavery about a hundred and fifty years ago," House observed from the doorway. "Now get back to work before I fire your smarmy ass."
Chase paused long enough for a lot of hair-flicking, huffing and glaring, but it didn't have any effect. Eventually he gathered up the patient's file and went elsewhere to review it.
"He's really starting to piss me off," House muttered when they were alone again.
"He's just..." Cameron thought for a minute. "Actually, I don't have an excuse. You're right, he's being an asshole."
"You realize, now he's going to hell."
"When even Saint Cameron can't justify it? Definite candidate for the Hellevator Express."
"I'm not a saint, House."
"You're not far off the mark," he countered. "After all, you're with me."
"Because you asked me to be, and I'm getting a month off clinic duty out of it."
"Yeah, but you like clinic duty. And putting up with me is a worse fate than hypochondriacs any day."
She grinned, not about to tell him that he was secretly a snuggler and she didn't really mind his taste in movies. "I suppose you're right. So, I was thinking..."
"I hope you didn't hurt yourself."
She stuck her tongue out at him. "So, I was thinking," she repeated. "You should spend tonight with Wilson. He misses you."
"He's not nearly as much fun as you are," House assured her, leering.
"Well, thank you, but I think I can survive without you for one night."
"Trying to get rid of me already?" He managed to inject a note of hurt into his voice.
"What? No, Greg, of course not," she assured him, one hand stroking soothingly from the nape of his neck to his shoulder.
He snickered. "You're so easy."
"Not for you," she assured him with grim humor. "Not after that remark."
"Oh, like you're not used to me," he scoffed. "I'll have lunch with Wilson. Deal?"
She had that wry twist to her mouth that always appeared when she was trying to resist him. She never could. "All right, fine. But I'm not cooking."
"Don't worry, that's why God invented Domino's."
"So, benefit is this Friday," Wilson observed when his friend was occupied with a mouthful of fries. "Do I need to stop by the bank first?"
"Looks like it. Hell, my Dad got along with her," House added with a snort of derision. "If we break up he's going to disown me and adopt Allie."
"House, come on. Your Dad-"
"Is a prick, admit it."
"All right, fine, he's not my favorite person," Wilson conceded.
"Wow, there's gotta be a box seat in hell reserved for me. I've managed to corrupt both of this hospital's resident saints." House grinned, eight years old again in his glee.
"Child," Wilson chided, shaking his head and trying to hide his smile.
"You're not my conscience, Jimmy Cricket."
"I didn't think you had one."
"Of course I do. I keep it suppressed with plenty of drugs." House emphasized his declaration by dry-swallowing two Vicodin.
"Speaking of, you didn't come by to bug me for a prescription yesterday. I cleared my schedule for the moralistic lecture and everything."
House rattled the vial of pills. "Didn't need it."
"That's a week old!" Wilson snatched the bottle and opened it. "You still have almost half the bottle."
"Pain hasn't been that bad lately. And don't start on how it's all psychosomatic and I've been healed by the love of a good woman," he added before his friend could speak. "It's not in my head, it's in my leg. I'm just having a good week."
"If you say so," Wilson agreed, rolling his eyes.
"I would know. It's my leg."
"Let's just say between interns and you doing Allison's clinic duty I expected you to be taking them whether you needed them or not."
House shrugged as though it didn't matter, even though they both knew it did. "Keep psychoanalyzing me; see if I ever buy you lunch again."
Wilson held up both hands, palm out. "Hey, if you don't want to talk about it..."
House smirked. "I never want to talk about anything. Since when does that stop you?"
"You haven't emotionally scarred anyone lately, and you've been almost happy. Let's call it a free pass."
"I can live with that," House decided.
"Good to know. Next time you're happy, I'm gonna withhold your drugs."
Cuddy also found the time in her busy schedule of impeding necessary experimental medical procedures to nag him about the benefit. "You're going."
"You're not leaving the hospital first. You can change here and help with set-up."
He snorted. "You think I'm going to help?"
She sighed. "Well, you can change here."
"You suck," he accused her.
"I already know Cameron's going, but I don't trust her to be able to threaten you to the point where you actually show up."
There's where you're wrong. "I've been planning on going for nearly a month. I even have my tux dry-cleaned."
"Then you'll have no problem bringing it with you when you come to work at the crack of noon on Friday."
"Have I mentioned the part where you suck?" he inquired.
"Since you can't come up with a decent insult, never mind any kind of excuse, I'm going to assume that's acquiescence."
"It's acquiescence for the benefit. You'll just have to trust me on the rest."
"Not a chance. I'll have orderlies keep you in your office until eight-thirty if I have to," Cuddy assured him.
That means I can't pick up Cameron, he thought but didn't say. The Dean was probably well aware of that and didn't care. "Fine."
"I'm not the one who has a history of not showing up to these things," Cameron reminded him when he'd advised her of Cuddy's orders. "I'll meet you here."
He hadn't wanted it that way, but it didn't look like he had a choice. "All right. Eight-thirty?"
"It's a date."
I hope so.
Cameron went by House's townhouse Thursday night at his request, once she'd slogged through as much paperwork as she could reasonably be expected to complete without her eyes crossing. She arrived to the TV off-for once-and the tantalizing scent of tomato sauce, which she followed into the kitchen. "You're cooking?"
"Spaghetti's not brain surgery," he replied, sounding almost offended. "It isn't like I grew the tomatoes myself or anything."
Sure enough, there was a row of empty cans next to the sink, and as House stirred the sauce, she could see he'd augmented it with onions, ground beef, and plenty of garlic. He dipped a finger in the sauce and licked, made a face. "Needs something."
With a shy grin, Cameron cupped his palm and drew the sauced finger into her mouth. "Needs coffee," she said after a moment.
"Coffee?" he echoed.
"Just a little. It cuts the acidity of the tomatoes."
"You are a very strange girl, Allison Cameron," he observed as she added about a quarter of a cup of leftover Jamaican roast from that morning to the pot.
"Mock all you like. All you'll be eating are your words."
She turned to go back into the living room, and he surprised her by staying her exit with an arm around her waist. "If you're hungry, I can put the pasta on."
"Sure," she agreed, still a little spun by the way he was cuddling her against his right side like he meant to keep her there. "A watched pot never boils, you know," she added when it seemed like he was content to stay in front of the stove.
"Yeah, but ignored sauce scorches," he pointed out, which okay, fair enough. "Stay. I'll set the table."
"I can-" she started to say, a little concerned to see him moving around without his cane.
"Stay," he ordered again, like she was a disobedient puppy. She huffed but obeyed, resisting the urge to snarl and bite when he patted her on the head and added patronizingly, "Good girl."
When they were seated-not in front of the couch, but at the dining room table she'd never seen with anything on it but dust-she said, trying to keep her voice light, "You know, this feels uncomfortably like a date, and we're not good at those."
He snorted. "After two years of putting up with me, I would think you could recognize deliberate sabotage. Even I'm not that socially retarded."
"All right," she said after a moment, not sure how to navigate the conversational minefield. "If I ask why you did it, will you tell me, or will you grouch at me for the rest of the night?"
"Ask," he suggested, which wasn't really an answer.
"Why did you do it?"
"Sooner or later, I was going to say something mean, because I'm not a nice person. And then you'd be done with me. Thought I'd beat the rush."
Love isn't so easily killed, she thought but didn't say. "It was a test. And I failed."
His mouth quirked. "No, you passed. You did the smart thing. You didn't ask me out again."
"So what's all this?" She waved a hand to indicate the last month. "Another test?"
"You could say that."
"How am I doing so far?"
"I'm not testing you." She got up. "What are you doing?"
"I'm going to kiss you."
"This is a bad idea," he warned her, but he still pushed his own chair back, turning to face her as she rounded the table.
"You're not always right," she murmured, before framing his face in her hands and slanting her lips over his. His hands nearly spanned her waist when they rose up to pull her closer, his teeth tugging at her bottom lip, demanding that she let him in.
"Bossy," she chided, then licked into his mouth.
"I am your boss," he said bemusedly when she finally pulled away.
She laughed a little and tugged on his shoulders, pulling him up out of his seat. "Stop. Talking."
"Make me," he suggested, then muffled her protests with his lips and started steering her to his bedroom.
"Can I use a gag?"
His eyes lit with mischief. "Do you want to?"
"Kinks are a fifth-orgasm kind of conversation."
"So later tonight then," was his arrogant reply as he struggled with her vest. "Why do you wear so many damn buttons?"
"To make you think about unbuttoning them," she admitted on a moan as he nipped his way down her throat. "Unnh, Greg."
"Mission accomplished," he assured her as he tugged his t-shirt over his head. "Take off your pants."
She laughed. "And people say romance is dead."
He woke alone, and the ache in his thigh had teeth and claws, expressing its displeasure with the previous night's activity. He grunted as he massaged the damaged muscle, trying and failing to blink the clock on his nightstand into focus. It took him a full minute to realize it was blurry because of the glass of water in front of it, along with his Vicodin and a note.
Take your pills and go back to sleep, I'll try not to burn the place down without you. I took your tux and shoes in with me, so you have NO EXCUSES. xxx Allie.
He did as ordered, but as he lay there waiting for the narcotic haze to kick in, he knew he wouldn't be able to get back to sleep. He still gave it an hour, laying in bed paging through an old issue of the NEJM, before he got up to take a shower and get ready, moving with the care of a man twice his age. For the first time since the infarction, he seriously considered physical therapy. It wouldn't get him off the drugs or magically regrow the muscle in his thigh, but it might help him keep up with a woman twenty years-nineteen years and ten months, an inner voice that sounded disturbingly like Cameron corrected-his junior.
And damn, he wanted to be able to keep up with her. The sex alone was worth the effort.
Cuddy was lying in wait for him at the reception desk. "When I said 'crack of noon,' I was using sarcasm," she informed him, glancing pointedly at her watch. "I'm sure you're familiar with the concept."
"It's called post-coital exhaustion," he replied devilishly, just to watch her flush and huff at him. "You're probably not familiar with the concept, since you haven't had a man in the last decade. Try Wikipedia."
"Dr. Cameron was here at eight. She didn't look exhausted at all."
House scowled. Point for the Mistress of Pain. "We can't all be twenty-seven."
"Where's your tux?"
"Allie brought it in. She's getting manipulative."
"You must be rubbing off on her."
"And here I thought it was you. Don't forget to videotape it next time; there's a lot of money in lesbian porn."
Cuddy rolled her eyes. "Tell you what, next time you can join in."
House was surprised that his first reaction wasn't oooh, hot, but back off, she's MINE.
Cuddy saw it, too, and grinned. "Gotcha."
"You first. Try not to be too obvious in your jealous leering tonight. I can only keep her in your department as long as the Board of Directors can pretend they don't know what's going on."
House snorted. "Like they remember anything after the fifth highball."
"House, I'm serious. They're not going to buy Dr. Cameron's too nice to sue the hospital for sexual harassment, especially if you piss off a donor by punching him for looking at your girlfriend."
"I make no promises," House replied, honest for once and not just trying to get a rise out of her. "If you'd heard what Vanderschoen said about her at Casino Night, you wouldn't ask me to."
"Vanderschoen's a disgusting letch, but his wife keeps his balls in her purse. He won't do more than look."
"No punching Dr. Chase. He can only be clumsy so many times before I have to officially notice it."
House smirked. "Fine, and if Loeffler grabs her ass, I'll sic Foreman on him. He still feels guilty for that whole stealing her article and trying to kill her thing."
"Oh, relax. Like any of their egos could stand the admission that they got taken out by a cripple."
"Dr. Cameron broke Loeffler's finger the last time he cornered her," Cuddy replied evenly. "Said her brothers taught her how to take care of herself. Let her handle it."
"My Allie broke his finger? Which one? Why didn't I hear about it?"
"It was at the PPTH Winter Ball last year, which you didn't attend. And we kept it quiet. He made a very large donation in exchange for our understanding of the effect such news could have on his position in the community."
House smirked. "It must piss you off to no end."
"That I'm the only man you know that you don't have by the short-and-curlies."
She rolled her eyes. "I wouldn't want to touch them unless you were disinfected first. I don't know where you've been."
By eight-thirty, House had been cooling his heels for an hour, resisting the urge to get drunk out of boredom. A competent but uninspired jazz trio was playing at a volume that didn't impede conversation, and Cuddy was working the room like a broke politician. He'd given up on stone-cold sobriety and was nursing three fingers of scotch at the bar when he heard a low whistle from one of the former fratboys next to him.
"Damn," his companion muttered. "Nice legs. When do they open?"
"I'll take one of those to go, definitely."
"Dude, she's coming over here!"
House was half-expecting the hand that settled at the small of his back, and the mellow, amused voice. "Buy me a drink, stranger?"
House turned to see Cameron in a beaded black cocktail dress with a dropped waist. "Can't afford new clothes on your salary?"
She smoothed one manicured hand over the intricate geometric beading and challenged him, "My great-grandmother bought this in Paris on her honeymoon. This dress is a piece of art."
"I think the woman in the dress might have something to do with it." He surveyed her from her strappy stilettos to the intricate updo, a mass of perfect curls accented with three white orchids that made him want to get his hands in it and muss her up, smear that perfect lipstick and get the sparkly dress over her hips.
She grinned. "Thanks. I love the tux, by the way."
He grimaced. "Penguin suit."
"I think you look like James Bond."
"Would that make you Pussy Galore?"
"There could be roleplay later, if you play your cards right," she suggested with a wicked smirk, then leaned past him to address the bartender. "I'll have a whiskey sour."
"No girly cocktail?" House inquired.
"You have a force field of utter disdain that repels girly cocktails," she assured him as she lifted her highball glass. "It's not worth having to go across the room to drink it. Cheers."
"Are you trying to get me drunk and take advantage of me?"
"Do I really have to get you drunk to take advantage of you?"
He grinned. "No, but it can't hurt."
"Hello, Cuddy," he replied with a total lack of enthusiasm after a subtle nudge from Cameron.
"I really like the dress. Is it a reproduction?"
"Paris original, circa 1927."
"I like yours too. The silver is very regal."
Cuddy fussed with the shimmering taffeta. "Thank you."
"Yeah, you don't look like you raided Heidi Fleiss' closet...for once."
Cuddy raised one eyebrow. "I think that was almost fifty percent compliment. A personal best?"
"For you? Probably."
"Try to do better with the McKagans. They're insisting on meeting you." She rolled her eyes. "I tried to discourage them, but as you can see, here I am."
"I'm in a penguin suit, on your orders, Cuddles. Not in the mood to do you favors."
"Greg. You can make polite conversation for five minutes, instead of having Cuddy on the warpath for a week. And maybe...no clinic duty on Friday?" Cameron shot the older woman an inquiring glance.
Cuddy considered it. "Well, since you have been actually seeing patients in the clinic lately, instead of just hiding in an exam room...done. Friday off."
"Aww, that's my girl. All grown up and manipulating people for my benefit." House mimed wiping away a tear. "It makes me so proud."
"All right, point us at the McKagans before he can come up with any snarky one-liners."
Cuddy eeled through the crowd with them in tow, coming to a stop at a table where a couple were holding court like royalty greeting the peons. "Richard, Margaret! This is Doctor-"
"Gregory House!" boomed a man who looked like a bald santa. He nudged his wife, who'd had so many facelifts she wore a permanent expression of surprise. "Dear, this is the maverick I was telling you about!"
"Pleasure," she somehow murmured through her frozen face.
House ditched out as soon as possible, making a limp for it while the McKagans were distracted discussing the Casino Night benefit with Cameron. He cornered Wilson and the two of them loitered by the bar, telling lies and tossing back scotch. "So; you owe me a thousand dollars."
Wilson reached into the breast pocket of his suit and pulled out a check. "Really, I should just deduct this from the money you owe me."
"But that wouldn't be nearly as satisfying a victory," House countered.
"Yeah, whatever. I have to say, I didn't think you'd manage it. I mean, it's Cameron."
"You have much to learn, young Jedi. A month of my clinic duty will set you on the path to enlightenment, but don't expect anything resembling my mad seduction skills."
"It was a bet?" said a low, deadly voice.
House whipped around to see his immunologist looking at him like he was a cockroach, something vile that somehow found its way into her home. "Cameron-"
"You bastard," she hissed. "I actually thought...God, I'm so fucking stupid. Enjoy your winnings. We're done."
House knew with cold certainty that if he let her leave now, she'd never stop cursing him out long enough to listen. He was pretty sure the only reason she hadn't taken a swing at him was because she didn't want to cause a scene.
He didn't give a shit about causing a scene, though. Let 'em watch. "Ladies and gentlemen!" he bellowed at the top of his lungs.
Cameron whipped around and hissed, "Don't!"
"Dance with me and I won't," he murmured in an undertone, before adding, "May I have your attention please!?"
She looked at him like she wanted to claw his eyes out. "One dance."
They shook on it, and House lifted his glass. "I would like to propose a toast!" He bit his lip on a grin when he saw Cuddy slashing her finger across her throat and mouthing, Shut up! Shut up! "To Doctor Lisa Cuddy, for putting together this wonderful benefit on such short notice and making it look easy! Isn't she lovely tonight, folks!"
There was a round of spontaneous applause, and the room chorused, "To Dr. Cuddy!"
Cuddy acknowledged it all with a wobbly smile, looking like she'd just swallowed a goldfish. "I think I've just discovered a new appreciation for psychological warfare," House muttered.
"One dance. Let's go."
House signaled to the jazz trio, who cut Ain't Misbehavin' short by twenty bars with a showy finish. There was a pause, and then a piano broke the silence. Cameron's eyes widened as a spotlight hit Diana Krall and House led her onto the dance floor as the woman crooned in her smoky tenor, "Don't mind telling you, in my humble fash', that you thrill me through, with a tender pash'..."
" 'S wonderful, 's marvelous, that you should care for me..."
"I bet Wilson that we wouldn't still be together for the benefit," House confessed, leaning on her as he led her across the floor, trusting her to hold him up. Trusting her. He was moving a little slower than he would have liked, but he was dancing, for the first time in half a decade. "I know how it looked, but...you can ask Wilson if you don't believe me."
"I believe you."
He hadn't expected that. "Why?"
"If it was really how it looked...you would have just let me go."
"I don't plan on letting you go. Fair warning."
"So I should run now, if I'm going to?" she inquired, resting her head on his shoulder. "Take off, screaming, into the night?"
"If this is your idea of running away, you suck at it."
She laughed and pressed a shaky kiss to his neck, just below his ear. "Well, nobody's perfect."
"I heard that somewhere. Ally..."
"Yes, Greg," she said, answering the question he couldn't bring himself to ask.
"Yes, it is. It took you long enough to figure it out."
"I'm slow, but I do get there." He only lasted one song, limping back to their table as the last notes echoed through the room. He let out a startled bark of laughter when one of Cameron's hands slid down from his waist to pat his ass. "Everyone thinks you're such a good girl."
"Shows what they know."
 Heidi Fleiss, a well known Hollywood madam who was tried for running a high-class prostitution ring.
So that's that! I first started this almost a year ago, and it's been posted on my LJ as the parts were completed, but now that it's done I decided to throw it up on this site too; it's also convenient for anyone who wants the story in one file. I'm planning a sequel, "From Here To Paternity," and it will make it to my LJ before it gets put up here, so you can stalk me on LiveJournal if you're impatient; my username there is mass_hipgnosis.