[personal profile] athousandsmiles posting in [community profile] lines_crossed
Author: [livejournal.com profile] teenwitch77
Title: The Great Unknown
Rating: PG
Genre:
Summary: There were still layers of his usual snark and sarcasm about him, but he seemed… lighter. Nicer. It was kind of freaking her out.




The dim room was a welcome reprieve from the buzz of conversation outside. She let the door close quietly behind her, leaning against it and exhaling softly.

Unlike most men, Wilson’s bedroom didn’t indicate a lot about his personality. It was as innately guarded as the man himself. She examined the sparse belongings set on his bedside table and the adjacent chest of drawers, distracting herself with idle curiosity. Indulging herself in being anti-social.

Wilson was holding an impromptu ‘housewarming’ party for his new apartment, though she strongly suspected it was just a way for him to meet single (or not-so-single) women. She had never actually seen him in action before, but he was a very subtle flirt. There was something so premeditated about his actions they were almost predatory, and yet he was so naturally earnest and gentle, it was hard to see any danger in it. It was a volatile mix, and she pitied the woman to fall for his charms.

She slumped on the edge of the bed, folding one leg under the other, examining a photograph on the bedside table. It was of Wilson and a younger man who looked so eerily similar to him she assumed it was his brother. A lovable looking golden retriever was curled up near their feet. They looked happy and at ease. She couldn’t remember seeing Wilson ever look that happy before.

Time changed them.

Her eyes shifted upwards as the door opened, and someone she had not expected to see, let alone speak to that night, stepped into the room.

House slanted an eyebrow down at her and closed the door behind him.

“I don’t even want to know what you’re doing in here.”

“Hiding,” she replied quickly. “Marvin from accounting keeps trying to grope me.”

A faint smirk tugged at his mouth, and he crossed the room. His hold on his cane was noticeably lighter, and it made her pause, eyes widening imperceptibly. 

They had spoken very little since the shooting, and he had yet to return to work. As well as the rigorous physical therapy Cuddy was forcing him through, she had demanded he take at least a month off work. He had agreed with surprising little protest. The three of them were running the department in his absence.

If she was entirely honest with herself, the minute chance of seeing him tonight was probably the only reason she had come at all.

(She still couldn’t face the fact that their story might be over.)

“What are you doing in here?” she asked, forcing a casual, conversational tone.

He cast a glance back at her as he reached the window. “Well, no one’s tried to grope me yet, but the night is still young.“ He slid the blinds idly apart, glancing down at the street below. “Do I need a reason to escape a social gathering?”

Her mouth quirked faintly, and she looked down at the plain, white carpet. “True.”

The silence stretched between them, furling around the room with unspoken intent, and she could hear slivers of conversation from the living room drifting through the walls. She cleared her throat, tapping her index finger against the mattress beside her. “So, uh… how are you?”

Another wry look overtook House’s features, and he levelled her with his stare. That blatant, voyeuristic stare that sent the hairs on the back of her neck on end. “I was wondering how long you could go without asking that question.”

She frowned. “I just meant… I haven’t seen you in a while…”

“Since I got shot in the gut?”

She sighed exasperatedly. “I’m just saying the polite thing here.”

“That wasn’t how you meant it.”

She rolled her eyes, fixing her gaze firmly on the opposite wall. Conversations with him always came to these standstills. Absence between them had made it even more so. She could see him shift in the corner of her eye, and he slowly stepped into her line of sight.

“I’m fine,” he said succinctly. “I hope you three haven’t let my department fall into unwieldy chaos without me.”

She shifted, turning her head to the side. Her long brown hair slid over her shoulder, strands coiling together, and she leant back against her palm, letting her body sink into the mattress. She should have felt uncomfortably aware of the bed beneath her, and his presence above her, but she wasn’t. There was something entirely too surreal about being in such a social setting with him.

“I assumed you had Wilson keeping tabs on us,” she said coyly.

His mouth twitched. He looked faintly amused with her, and she wasn‘t altogether familiar with that look. More often than not she annoyed him. “Oh, I do. But he doesn’t see everything.”

His eyes travelled over her, and he seemed to be taking her in, appraising her silently. She stared back at him, waiting for some kind of inevitable sarcastic remark. “Like the new hair,” he said, at last, nodding at her bangs.

She frowned, taken aback, unconsciously fingering the shortened hair. It was a change she had allowed herself this year, a conscious effort to shed her old image.

It was not what she had been expecting from him.

“Oh. Uh... thanks.”

He nodded, turning his attention back to the pictures she had been examining earlier. She swallowed, eyeing him uncertainly. At least he was displaying some behaviour akin to the old House. Furrowing out clues about his friend’s life and habits, information he would inevitably use to some greater purpose later. There were still layers of his usual snark and sarcasm about him, but he seemed… lighter. Nicer.

It was kind of freaking her out.

Once, she might have accepted the change willingly, but now she eyed him cautiously, waiting for some kind of confirmation that this was the same man she knew. She remembered him saying that near death experiences altered your outlook on life for a few months after the event. She wondered if that was what was happening now. 

“Stop frowning, Cameron. Your face will stick that way.”

She blinked, realising he had turned his head to glance at her again, that he had caught her staring. She pursed her lips, averting her eyes. “Uh… are you going to go back out there?” she asked after a moment, twining her hands on her knee.

He shrugged, fingering the handle of his cane as he stepped across the room. He slumped on the bed beside her. “Hadn’t planned on it.”

The mattress dipped under his added weight, and she turned her head to him slowly, still eyeing him with a mild amount of bemusement. He rolled his eyes.

“What is it, Cameron?”

She frowned. She was worried. She wished she could stop doing that. “Nothing… You’re just… are you sure you’re okay?”

He snorted. “Trust you to take a compliment as some sign of neurological damage.”

“Coming from you? Yes.”

He smirked, swivelling the cane absently in his hands. Somehow, it looked out of place now, like he held it differently. Which was ridiculous, because she had never known him without it. He glanced down at it slowly, thumb caressing the smooth polished wood. “I’m starting to think I could almost ditch this thing.”

She blinked in surprise, consciously aware of his side warming her knee. “The pain has gone that much?”

He tilted his head. “Well obviously there’s still a hunk of missing muscle left to contend with.” He looked oddly sombre. “But yeah. It has.”

She was amazed. Both that the ketamine seemed to have had some kind of miraculous healing effect on him (that it had changed him so drastically), and that they were having such an open conversation.

She shifted to the side, keeping her legs folded under her in an almost childlike position. Her eyes grazed him uncertainly. “I can’t believe it… worked.”

He nodded, keeping his own fixed on the floor. He spoke slowly. “I guess I should thank you for that.”

She frowned, opening her mouth to tell him that she had done nothing, just followed his wishes, when the door opened again, and the raucous laughter from outside filtered abruptly into the room.

Chase’s silhouette appeared, and his eyes zeroed in on them, widening subtly. “Oh, uh, sorry…”

His gaze darted away, and he quickly stepped back, closing the door behind him.

Cameron blinked, and House scoffed humourlessly.

“Oh, I can’t wait to hear what he comes up with for that one.”

She shifted awkwardly, swivelling her feet to the carpet. The corrosive tone of his voice both comforted and disappointed her at the same time. His closeness was making her nervous, and the quiet intimacy of the room had only increased tenfold by Chase‘s brief appearance.

She started to move to her feet, but House’s cane slid in front of her, blocking her frame.

“Cameron.”

She stilled, turning slowly. Staring at him because he was staring back at her like… that. He reached forward, fingers sliding slowly over her cheek, tilting her chin slightly. He bent forward, pressing a languid, chaste kiss to her mouth. From anyone else it could have been a sign of friendly affection, but from him... it meant something different altogether.

His stubble chafed against her cheeks, and his blue eyes pierced hers a moment before he drew away. She didn’t have to ask what it was for. She read the hidden message in his eyes.

He released his hold on the cane, giving her the space to stand. She did, rising slowly, still tasting the hint of scotch from his lips.

Something was new here. Something she didn’t know how to name.

She left the room first, unable to hide her smile.
 
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