House - Straw Into Gold 3: Follow if You Lead

Title: Follow if You Lead
Series: Straw Into Gold
Part: 3 of 9
Word Count: 985
Rating: R
POV: House
Summary: Maybe what Cameron wants isn’t so silly after all.

Will I lose a friend, trying to pretend?
Will I destroy this trust, when I want the best for us?
Should I hold your hand, no matter what you plan?
For every hour you need, I will follow if you lead.

He knows he is acting strange by the looks he is getting from all of them. Foreman is the most obvious, his gaze darting from House to Cameron, instinctively knowing that whatever is causing his boss’s odd attitude must have something to do with her. Cameron is trying to pretend she doesn’t notice Foreman’s looks or House’s attitude. Chase doesn’t seem to care as long as the weird looks aren’t about him in any way.

They’re sitting around the table in his office, reviewing the case they’ve just finished. It’s become a tradition for them to do this, to look back at the clues they missed and the things they misinterpreted. It’s supposed to keep them from making the same mistake twice.

Greg wishes it was that easy with Cameron. He knows he screwed up in his office earlier with his harsh words. She’s had the wounded puppy look on her face all evening. He wants to apologize, to make it up to her, somehow. But he’s afraid that if he tries, he’ll just end up putting his foot in his mouth again.

“Class dismissed,” he says finally, drawing chuckles from the guys. They all stand and gather their belongings as he limps back to his desk.

“Hey, Cam,” Foreman says. “You going to join us for a beer?”

Greg looks up to see how she’ll respond. He knows his ducklings generally go out for a celebratory drink after a successful case. They’ve invited him in the past, but he’s never joined them, opting to maintain a professional relationship with them. But if she says yes, he might just invite himself along.

She glances at him and seems startled to find him watching. It rattles her a little and she finally turns to Foreman. “No, thanks, I’m pretty beat. I think I’ll just head home.”

Foreman looks at her closely and glances at House but says nothing. “Let’s go, Chase,” he says as the two leave the office.

“Good night, Dr. House,” Allison says as she starts to leave.

“Cameron… Allison… wait,” he stumbles over his words. She stops and looks at him expectantly, a hint of the wounded puppy look still in her eyes.

“You must be hungry,” he finally says. “Why don’t we grab some dinner?”

Her eyes widen and he can easily read the confusion in her face.

“I owe you an apology,” he continues to ramble. “I shouldn’t have said the things I said earlier in my office.”

She looks conflicted but finally nods. “Okay.”

He forces himself to maintain a casual demeanor as they make their plans. It’s such a nice evening that she decides to leave her car at the hospital and ride with him in the convertible. She seems surprised when he holds the door open for her.

They ride to the restaurant in silence. He has things he wants to say, but he doesn’t want to be distracted while he’s driving. He keeps sneaking glimpses of her out of the corner of his eye and he can tell that she’s confused by his change of attitude and uncertain of what exactly they are doing by having dinner together. But she doesn’t speak, he assumes she is waiting for him to say something since he invited her out.

Once they’re settled in a booth with drinks and have placed their order, he knows he can’t wait any longer.

“Allison,” he says.

She looks at him, obviously surprised by his use of her first name again. But she still doesn’t speak.

“Look, I’m sorry about what I said in my office. You were right.”

“I was?” She looks confused. “About what?”

“That I can’t see past my fears.”

She is obviously surprised and was not expecting this revelation.

“I do like you,” he admits. Her cheeks flush a little. “But I’m afraid.”

“Why?” she asks, and he can tell her curiosity is genuine.

“Because the last woman I trusted left me when this happened,” he says, allowing a slight tinge of bitterness to enter his voice as he points at his leg.

A look of sadness crosses her face. “So you’re going to judge all women by her reaction?”

He bites his lip, unsure what to say. “I guess that’s not fair.”

She shakes her head. “No, it’s not. I’m not some naïve little girl, you know,” she reminds him. “I was married and I watched my husband die. I know what I’m getting myself into.”

He sighs. “I just don’t want to hurt you.” She seems just as surprised by his honesty as he is.

“Don’t worry, I won’t let you.”

Her statement causes them both to laugh. Their conversation ends with the arrival of their dinners. They enjoy their food and ease into lighter topics of conversation, hospital gossip mostly. He’s surprised by how comfortable he is with her now that everything is out in the open.

They argue briefly over the bill, but he prevails by pointing out that she was out of a job for a week.

As they’re walking out, he makes a bold decision and takes her hand with his free one. She meets his eye and smiles. Her smile makes his heart flutter in a weird way, but he smiles back.

“Thanks for dinner, Greg,” she says once they’re back in the car. Her use of his first name throws him a little.

“You’re welcome, Allison,” he responds. They share another warm smile.

“So now what?” she asks.

“Want to come to my place for a nightcap?” He hopes his suggestion doesn’t seem too forward.

She looks conflicted. “I’d like to,” she finally says. “But I really should get my car from the hospital and go home.”

“Well,” he thinks out loud, “you don’t live that far from me. I could always swing by and pick you up in the morning.”

She considers this. “Okay,” she finally agrees. “Let’s have a nightcap.”