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House Secret Santa: On Winter and Booze

Title: On Winter and Booze
Author: Cassandra Elise
Beta-reader: worbeest
Rating: PG
Description: Story for imissimissyou, who asked for 1.Winter 2. House's Office 3. A Kiss.
This is my attempt at fluff, which isn't really fluff, since House and fluff don't really mix. Let's call it "damaged fluff" like the two characters in the story. Enjoy.


 

Cameron hated winter. As a child, growing up in a southern climate, the idea of snow had been magical and appealing. Now that she knew what accompanied the powdery, white stuff—the ice, the freezing temperatures and the bleak, grey days—she despised winter with a passion she normally reserved for Doctor Gregory House.

On this particularly morning, though, Cameron found she had a hidden appreciate for the dreary weather. A snowstorm was winding its way through the east coast of the US, leaving devastation and 12 to 20 inches of snow in its wake. The inclement weather prevented the usual hypochondriacs from bombarding the ER with their complaints of neck pain (which was clearly a sign of meningitis!) and runny noses (which was indubitably a symptom of avian flu!). With their absence, Cameron had much more time to devote to the really serious cases. She spent a productive morning stitching up wounds and setting bones and didn’t even notice the snow squall getting worse as the hours wore on. The rest of the world noticed, however.

By midmorning the freeways were a sheet of ice, which made them a magnet for accidents of both the fatal and nonfatal variety. As lunchtime approached, the hospital was besieged with crash victims from all across the state. Cameron had been working in the ER for six months and had never seen so many injuries. Victims with multiple bone fractures, concussions, and large gashes filled every empty space in the ER and spilled out into the corridors where nurses dashed around creating makeshift beds for those in the worst condition. The most critical by far was the one man who had a large piece of his windshield embedded in his chest, merely a few precious centimeters from his heart. After the delicate operation which removed the object, Cameron was ready to leave the rest of the grueling work to her subordinates . . . but that was before the power went out.

“What now?” she muttered as the emergency lights flickered on. Barking out orders, Cameron made a quick round of the ER before heading to Dr. Cuddy’s office to ascertain any information on the power outage. I. Hate. Winter. Her thoughts were in tandem with the stomping of her feet.

Dr. Cuddy was as helpless as the rest of them. “It’s a bad snowstorm,” she unnecessarily explained. “It’s taken out countless power lines. The emergency generators are in use and should work for several hours. We’ll just have to sit tight and wait.”

All of the doctors nodded in understanding—all but one. House groaned and moaned in his most melodramatic presentation to date. “I hate waiting!” he whined. “You’re such a slacker, Cuddy! There must be something you can do.”

A blotchy flush covering her cheeks, Cuddy gritted her teeth. “I’m doing my best under the circumstances.”

“It’s because you didn’t wear a low cut blouse to work,” House concluded. He glanced around conspiratorially at the fellow doctors in the office. “Her knockers have magical powers,” he said in a stage whisper. “But only when they’re exposed for the whole world to delight in.” Cameron and countless other physicians rolled their eyes at the slur. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m needed elsewhere.”

“Yes. Go tend to your patient,” Cuddy snapped.

“Actually, I was talking about my team,” House explained. “They get so lonely when I’m not there to hold their hands.”

Cameron unfortunately smirked just as House caught her gaze. He seemed pleased that she had enjoyed his quip and rewarded her with a smirk of his own before quitting the room. For the next few hours Cameron berated herself for encouraging House’s immature and egomaniacal behavior.

She had been so proud for distancing herself from House over the last several months. Leaving her job had been one of the best decisions of her life. Since she had quit, she hadn’t given in to House’s childish demands or fallen for his devious manipulations. The visible and invisible gap between them had given her time to evaluate their relationship, or lack thereof, and to realize just how dependent on House she had grown during her three-year internship. It was good to escape his shadow and forge her own path without relying on his unhealthy influence on her.

There was just one problem with her new job and new life: she missed House. And why? For the same hackneyed reason she had been using for years now. She loved him. Despite his flaws, or maybe because of his flaws, she was drawn to him. And no amount of ER work and no number of romantic evenings with Chase were going to erase those feelings.

She looked at the clock above the nurses’ station. 4:00 pm. She’d been there for twelve straight hours with no reprieve of any kind, save for the few minutes she had spent in Cuddy’s office. Arching her back and stretching her arms high above her tawny head, she yawned. It was time to go home. The howling wind reminded her of the inclement weather outside. She hoped she could get home.

Cameron spouted several unladylike maledictions when she saw the parking lot. It was covered in a foot of snow. Only a path leading to the ER entrance had been plowed and not very well. Cameron trudged through the snow in her sneakers, cursing some more as the cold wet stung her unprotected ankles. “I should have worn boots,” she mumbled through chattering teeth.

“Yeah, you should’ve,” a gravelly voice replied. “Are you a glutton for punishment?”

Cameron tried not to roll her eyes as she turned to face House. “What are you doing here?”

“My patient miraculously recovered.”

She eyed him suspiciously. “Oh really?”

“Yup, after I loaded him up with the right drugs.”

 Cameron noticed the motorcycle helmet under his arm. “Are you crazy? You can’t drive a motorcycle in this weather!”

“I rode it to work,” he answered, shrugging his shoulders noncommittally. “Besides, I’m only going down to the bar on the corner . . . for now.”

“So you’re going to get drunk and then drive home in this weather? Remind me to stay clear of you when you’re on the road.” Feeling a tad smug at her jab, Cameron took a step toward her car—a step onto a hidden ice patch. She felt her feet fly out from under her as she hit the snow and ice-covered cement. She landed hard on her backside and for a few brief moments, didn’t even notice the cold seeping into her pants over the excruciating pain. Breathing slowly, she shut her eyes and willed herself not to pass out. When her eyelids finally opened, she saw House peering over her with a look of utmost concern etched onto his rugged features.

“You need a doctor?” he asked, not even meaning to be ironic.

“I think . . .” she panted. “I think I just bruised my coccyx.”

House simpered. “Want me to check it out for you?”

Cameron managed to sigh in exasperation, which House took as a sign that she was feeling better. He extended an arm to her and hefted her to her feet. “What you need is a drink.”

“Didn’t we just have this conversation?” Cameron leaned her weight into House, which was rather awkward given the fact that he was sporting a bum leg.

“We don’t need to go to the bar for the libations I’m talking about.” Cameron watched out of the corner of her eye as House wiggled his brows suggestively.

They were a sorry pair, gimping down the hospital floor to the X-ray room. Once they had determined that Cameron’s assumption was correct—she’d only bruised her coccyx and not fractured it—they somehow managed to make it to his office where House revealed his secret stash of “libation.”

“Why would you go to the bar if you have alcohol here?” Cameron wondered aloud. Her bum was perched degradingly in a circular pillow that resembled the life saver on a cruise ship.

“Because I can’t keep beer kegs at the office! They wouldn’t fit in the fridge.” He scoffed, as if his answer was completely obvious. He poured a liberal serving of scotch into a tumbler and passed it to her. “Drink up.”

Cameron examined the drink from all angles, as if she was afraid he had somehow managed to slip a Mickey into it. “Come on,” he cajoled. “The sooner you get drunk, the sooner you’ll forget how completely embarrassing you look sitting in that cushion.”

“Gee, thanks, House. When you put it that way . . .” She downed a good percent of her drink. House was visibly impressed and took a large swig to catch up.

Cameron surveyed her desperate situation: she was drinking with the pure intention of getting wasted with the one man who could simultaneously infuriate and fascinate her. And her butt hurt. All lot. This day couldn’t get any worse.

“Your color’s come back,” House suddenly said.

“What?”

“When you fell, you got really pale. I thought you were going to faint on me.”

As House examined her curiously, Cameron was sure her face was becoming the opposite of pale. “Pardon me for being in pain.” Her voice took a defiant tone.

House was nonplussed. “I wasn’t blaming you. You can’t help it that you have a bony ass. There was nothing to cushion the fall.” He didn’t even notice, or maybe he didn’t care, that his words were little consolation to her.

Cameron felt a twinge in the afore-mentioned body part and swallowed more scotch to dull the ache—and the humiliation. Not only was she mortified that she’d been careless enough to slip on the ice, she was embarrassed that she’d injured a part of her body that was bound to be the butt—no pun intended—of many jokes. Most importantly, she was mortified that House had witnessed it all; House, who had no bedside manners and no patience for idiots, which she was proving to be.

“Need a refill?” House motioned with his own empty glass.

Cameron nodded and was grateful when House hobbled over to her, instead of making her move from her spot on his desk chair. Finished with pouring the drinks, House returned to his easy chair and reclined back with his legs up on his ottoman.

They sat in a discomfiting quiet, imbibing their and contemplating their respective situation. Cameron cast her gaze out the office window. Thick snowflakes, the size of sea pearls, were tumbling down in quick succession, spattering the window with their fluffy, uneven bodies. The few flakes that melted upon impact created little rivulets on the frosted glass, resembling the tears of frustration Cameron wished to shed.

“I hate winter.”

“What?”

Had she spoken aloud?

House’s lips curled up in a simper. “Little Miss Sunshine actually hates something? I didn’t think it was physically possible.”

Cameron groaned. She had spoken aloud. Dammit.

“Not everything about winter is bad.”

She marveled at his newly acquired optimism. “Like what?” she demanded.

He took a collected sip. “In what other season can you use weather as an excuse not to go to work?” Cameron tilted her head from side to side, considering his words.

“And think of all the sick days you can take when you’re not really sick, and no one thinks anything of it, because winter is ‘the flu bug season’ and ‘the cold season’ and ‘any disease known to man season.’”

Cameron cracked a smile. “You have a point.” She lifted her glass. “Here’s to not-really-sick days.” House returned her gesture, and they both finished their second glass. They stared at each other, and Cameron felt herself being pulled into the endless depths of his blue eyes. She was drowning, not even fighting to surface. The air was being sucked from her lungs, her heart was racing with panic . . . and she was enjoying every second of it.

House shook his head to clear his thoughts—and to rid his memory of her piercing gaze. He was about to supply her with a third round of liquor when Wilson tapped lightly on his door. “Any moron can see it’s open!” House shouted in way of a greeting.

Wilson tentatively stepped into the room. “I heard about your accident,” he said to Cameron. “How are you doing?”

Cameron opened her mouth, but House interrupted. “She’ll be fine after she’s finished taking her medicine.”

Wilson eyed the half-empty scotch bottle. “I see.”

“Yeah, I’ll be better in no time,” Cameron weakly joked.

Wilson sighed and ran a hand through his brown hair. “Just . . . don’t get carried away.”

House gulped down another shot. “Did you come in here just to lecture us?”

 Wilson glared at House and then turned a compassionate eye on Cameron. “Do you need a ride home?”

Cameron emphatically shook her head, which was a bad mistake. The alcohol had settled on her empty stomach and was now making her head swim. She suddenly wished she had eaten lunch that afternoon. Wilson didn’t seem to notice, but House, in his observant way, did.

Once Wilson had left the room muttering “can’t lead fools away from their own folly,” House winked knowingly at her. “I see the ‘medicine’ is taking affect.”

“Ugh.” Cameron’s head slumped onto the desk, disrupting his red ball and nearly knocking over his computer monitor. Now not only did her butt hurt, but her head was spinning and her stomach was churning. “How could I let you talk me into this?”

“I’ve always had that mesmerizing affect on you.” He was only half-joking.

“I thought I had gotten over you . . .” She blanched. “I—I mean your terrible influence over me. That is—“

House snorted and rose to put away his secret stash in his desk drawer. “You can’t change your personality just by bleaching your hair.”

She glared at him from her position on his desk, and then he disappeared from view, preventing him from getting the full blast of her steely gaze. She didn’t want to be here—not with him. Not when she was in pain and intoxicated. Not when she was sober and whole. In the presence of Gregory House her perceptions became skewed. Right was wrong, left was right and winter was summer, her favorite season. “Well, you can’t change your personality just by changing your team members.” She thought her retort was beyond pathetic, but she seemed to have struck a chord with House. Maybe the liquor was affecting him as well.

He came back into her line of vision, a look of shame on his countenance. “Would it make you feel better if I said my new ducklings sucked compared to you?” he whispered hoarsely.

Cameron felt the familiar sensation of hope seize her heart, the feeling she got every time he opened up to her. She struggled to raise her head and looked deeply into his eyes. He wasn’t lying. Her hope grew with each beat of her heart. “I’m sorry I quit.”

He snorted again. “I’m not.” Confusion spread across her visage. “You needed to branch out on your own,” he explained.

She nodded. She knew he was right.

“You needed to see that you could do it without me,” he continued. “And you can.” He smiled ruefully. “You don’t need me anymore.”

Cameron forced herself to stand and take painful, tentative steps toward him. “I needed you this afternoon.”

He dismissed his kind behavior with a shrug. “I was only doing my job.”

“You showed compassion,” she persisted.

He studied her like she was a specimen under his microscope. “I guess you’ve rubbed off on me.”

She reached out and shyly placed a hand on his chest. “I guess you need me,” she murmured. She felt the heat of his body and his staggered breath on her forehead. He inched forward until his lips were centimeters from her hair. They both knew the alcohol was impeding their judgment and removing their inhibitions.

They both knew, and they didn’t care. His lips danced across her forehead and traced a pathway to her lips. Her eyes fluttered shut just before her lips locked with his. The kiss started out hesitant and awkward (the liquor probably contributed most to the awkwardness). After the initial hesitancy, their mouths seemed to act on their own accord, building momentum as they continued to pursue each other with a ravenous hunger.

Their hands explored unknown territory, gripping at clothing and stroking hair and cheeks. It lasted forever. It lasted a moment. Their lips were wet and sore when they finally broke apart, mouths panting and hands fumbling.

The wind moaned and a chill settled on the room, but Cameron didn’t care. She didn’t care that a snowstorm was raging outside or that she had fallen on an icy patch and gotten injured. It could be freezing cold for the rest of her life. It could be dreary and depressing. She wouldn’t complain. Cameron loved winter.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
imissimissyou
Dec. 17th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you thank you thank you!!! =D

I loved it! (love)

I loved how it started with hate and ended with love! =d
cassandra_elise
Dec. 18th, 2008 01:28 am (UTC)
Oh good, I'm glad you enjoyed. :D

*Hugs* Happy Christmas!
skybound2
Dec. 17th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, very very lovely interlude :-)
cassandra_elise
Dec. 18th, 2008 01:28 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
ally_cam
Dec. 17th, 2008 10:04 pm (UTC)
Yay, new story! I love it, your damaged fluff is amazing!
cassandra_elise
Dec. 18th, 2008 01:30 am (UTC)
your damaged fluff is amazing!

Hee hee. Thanks. Enjoy the holidays!
sharp2799
Dec. 18th, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)
Tipsy!Cam is a winner--hey, she got to kiss House!

:)
cassandra_elise
Dec. 18th, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
Tipsy!Cam is a winner

Yes, indeed. ;) I'm glad you liked it.
wfugrad
Dec. 18th, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
My favorite kind of fic: one where House and Cameron end up kssing! Thanks for posting this!
cassandra_elise
Dec. 18th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this!

No problem. Everybody loves a good kissing scene. ;D
hilandmum
Dec. 18th, 2008 04:33 am (UTC)
Very nicely handled. Just the right amount of humor. And the whole hate winter/love winter was perfect.

Mum
cassandra_elise
Dec. 18th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
*blushes* Thank you. I'm pleased as Christmas punch that you enjoyed it.
soulwoman
Dec. 18th, 2008 09:19 am (UTC)
thankyou!
cassandra_elise
Dec. 18th, 2008 05:16 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )