House - Straw into Gold 2: Heart on Her Sleeve

Title: Heart on Her Sleeve
Series: Straw Into Gold
Part: 2 of 9
Word Count: 1,015
Rating: R
POV: House
Summary: He knows what Cameron wants and he tries to convince her it’s a bad idea. So why does he feel so bad?

She’ll stand here before you with no pride or prejudice.
Just steadfast and certain that she’ll land on her own two feet.
You’ll think you can break her, cause you think that she’s crazy and weak,
But her power will defy you when she wears her heart on her sleeve.

As soon as the words are out of his mouth, he wishes he could take them back. It was a total accident, but he can see in her eyes that she thinks it was more. He tries to cover, to pretend it wasn’t a big deal, but they both know it’s a lie. ‘After all,’ he thinks bitterly, ‘I’m the one that always says everybody lies.’

He hightails it out of the lab as fast as his bum leg will allow him and retreats to the relative safety of his office. Idly, he flips on the television and hears the opening credits of General Hospital. It should keep him suitably distracted from thinking about her.

Yeah, right.

He just doesn’t understand why a young, attractive woman like her would be interested in a bitter, old cripple like him. She should be after a guy like Chase; young, affluent, and charming. Granted, Chase can be a prick, but nice girls like her are supposed to go for the boys that will break their hearts.

Wait. That line of thinking discounts his arguments against her liking him.

He shakes his head, wondering when his life became so complicated.

“Tough case?” He hadn’t even heard the door open, but he looks up to find his best friend standing in front of him with an amused grin on his face.

“No, Cameron figured out what was wrong,” he said, uncharacteristically stumbling over her name. “The ducklings are busy saving another life.”

“Cameron figured it out?” Wilson says, grin still firmly in place.

House glares at him but Wilson just laughs.

“I’m glad you find this so amusing.”

“I never thought I’d see the day where Gregory House was smitten with some pretty, young thing.”

“I’m not smitten,” he says, “And don’t call her a thing, she’s an extremely capable doctor and a nice young woman.”

Wilson laughs again. “Sorry, didn’t mean to offend.”

“Don’t you have patients to take care of, Dr. Wilson?”

“Nope,” he says, plopping down in a chair and putting his feet on Greg’s desk. “So we can gossip about the lovely Dr. Cameron all you want.”

“I don’t want and get your feet off my desk.”

“Why are you in denial about this, Greg? You nearly took my head off last month when I teased you about asking her out myself. You begged her to take her job back after we got rid of Vogler. It’s obvious that you have some interest in her and it’s equally obvious that the feeling is mutual. So why are you so resistant?”

He closes his eyes, trying to collect his thoughts. Everything his best friend said is true. He doesn’t know how to express his feelings though, which is probably part of the problem with the whole Cameron situation.

When he opens his eyes, he almost hopes that Wilson has given up and left the office. No such luck. He finds his best friend sitting in the same spot, watching him expectantly.

He sighs. “She deserves better than anything I have to offer,” he finally says, believing whole-heartedly that this is true.

“What makes you think you can judge what she wants or needs?” Wilson retorts. “She has decided she wants you and she’s not delusional, she knows you, has seen you at your worst. Why can’t you accept that?”

He ponders this. He knows he doesn’t have a good answer. His own fears are the only thing holding him back and he certainly doesn’t want to admit that to Wilson.

He’s saved from answering the question by the appearance of Dr. Cameron. Wilson shoots him a look that tells Greg he’s being ridiculous and Greg sends back one of his own, telling James to mind his own damn business for once.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Cameron says, as if she can sense the tension in the office.

“No big deal, Cameron,” Wilson says as he stands up. “I was just wasting some time with the good doctor here. I need to get back up to the oncology floor.” He leaves the office and Greg suddenly wishes he would have stayed and served as a buffer between them.

“What’s up, Cameron?” he asks, careful not to slip and call her Allison again.

“Something isn’t right with these cultures I’m growing,” she tells him, handing him some printouts from the computer in the lab. He studies them, trying to ignore the feeling of her eyes boring holes through him.

His mind is clouded by her presence and by his internal turmoil. He’s missing something obvious, he knows, as he scans the printouts again.

“Bingo,” he says softly, the anomaly jumping out at him. He picks up the phone and dials the patient’s room, giving Foreman new instructions.

“Good catch,” he tells her when he hangs up the phone.

“Thanks,” she responds, her gaze everywhere but on him.

“Look, about before,” he says impulsively. “I… well, I don’t want you to read anything into the fact that I called you by your first name.”

Her cheeks instantly turn red. “I wasn’t planning to.”

“I know you think that you can save the mean old, bitter, cripple with lots of tender loving care, but it doesn’t work that way in real life,” he says, an edge in his voice.

She lets out a harsh laugh. “It doesn’t work that way because you won’t let it,” she lashes out. “When I look at you, I don’t see a cripple, I see an intelligent man who has overcome a lot of hardship in his life. I see a man who cares, despite the façade he puts up of disinterest. Too bad you can’t look past your own fears and see him too.” She turns and runs out of his office.

He considers going after her, but realizes that he’d never catch her and besides, what would he say. He knows deep down that everything she said is true. He feels bad because he knows he hurt her feelings. He doesn’t want to care for her.

But he can’t help it. And that scares him.