Word Count: 961
Characters/Pairings: A little House/Stacy, House/Cameron
Rating: PG-13, may get up to R
Warnings: Character death, angst, set in the S3 universe, in the future (probably won't be any spoilers, though)
Summary: When Stacy is murdered on a night out with House, Cameron is left to pick up the pieces.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Author's Notes: This installment took way longer to write than it should have. I blame Thanksgiving. Oh, and I would love a beta!
He can't bring himself to get up and leave the waiting room, to walk out of the hospital, to check into a hotel, to leave Stacy all alone (Mark doesn't count, he decides) in the stark, unfriendly hospital. At last a nurse gives him a sympathetic smile and tells him that he has to leave, as visiting hours ended long before he arrived, and, as he is not actually a relative of a patient, he can't stay over night.
He wanders listlessly downtown, watching a drunk on the other side of Fifth Avenue, the Central Park side, stumble back and forth. The moon is a half circle hanging low in the sky, covering the city in a silver film. A lonely bus snakes its way along the street, totally empty, bright green digital letter on its front proclaiming that it is "Out of Service."
Even New York, the city that never sleeps, is deserted at four o'clock in the morning, especially in this upper middle class residential neighborhood, where bored teenagers really are prosecuted for loitering outside multimillion dollar condos. He peers into the dimly lit lobby of one such building as he passes under its long green awning. There is a twenty four hour doorman, but right now he is fast asleep, ridiculous black top hat pulled over his face, feet (ensconced in leather dress shoes) propped up on the desk. On another night, House would have made a game out of waking up the doorman and asking questions about the building's residents. Tonight, however, he can't seem to get into the mood for mischief (something he has never thought possible) and instead continues on his search for a decent hotel room.
By the time he reaches 86th street, he has almost given up. He had passed a grand total of one seedy boardinghouse that didn't have any vacancies, anyway. It's late; his thigh is killing him. He is prepared to camp out on a park bench alongside the homeless junkies when he spots something that looks suitable. The Franklin Hotel. It looks pricey and quietly Victorian. But a bed's a bed, and he has his credit card. He can worry about borrowing the money from Wilson later. Stepping into the hotel lobby, he is surprised to see Cameron sitting in a pink-upholstered armchair, reading. He freezes and moves to quietly back out of the hotel, but it's too late. She's seen him. She puts down her book and shoots him a coy smile.
"Fancy meeting you here," she says as she walks over to him.
"I am flattered by your stalking, Cameron, but really--" He is distracted when her sweater slips off one shoulder, revealing creamy flesh and the black lace of her bra. Who let her out of her room dressed like that? Apparently unaware of his lingering glance, she grins up at him. He realizes that the faint pressure on his arm is her hand and he is led further into the lobby. At this he protests, and stops stubbornly in the middle of the room. "I'm finding another hotel."
"House, it's late. I'm tired. You're tired. Don't make this difficult."
He chuckles because it sure as hell can't be easy, now (that Stacy is gone). Everything has suddenly changed, inexplicably. It's not like he was living with Stacy, or even seeing her regularly. But now, he will never be able to exchange cutting remarks with her again. The first time she left, he won her back with relative ease, letting years pass, waiting for her to come to him, using her sick husband as an excuse (he told himself that was all it was). The second time, after he shoved her away, he simply called her up and turned on the charm. A few days later they were in New York, eating at a restaurant like civilized human beings. Death, though, he could not fight with, argue with, convince in any way. This time, she was gone for good.
Cameron seems to think she can help him get over Stacy's death by distracting him with her feminine wiles. It's not going to work. He does have some principles.
"I'm not sleeping with you," he informs Cameron.
For some reason, she gapes at him in shock. "You think I'm trying to seduce you, House?" He doesn't say anything. What is there to say? "I wouldn't do that. Not now. I--I know you loved Stacy. It's not easy to lose someone you love like that."
"You would know," he says pointedly, watching the pain surface in her eyes. She is far too easy to manipulate, to infuriate, to devastate. Tonight she is stronger than usual, though, and remains firmly at his side.
"This isn't about me. I don't want anything from you. Not sympathy, and certainly not sex."
"Ah, so the cleavage is just a friendly gesture? You plan to help me get through the bad times by flashing me every so often?" He eyes the exposed curve of her breasts appreciatively. "I could go for that. Just don't give Wilson any ideas."
She looks down and blushes furiously. Her fingers fly to her chest and hastily fasten the top few buttons. "I didn't mean to--I'm not--"
"Relax." He rolls his eyes at her. "Where's that room you mentioned earlier?"
"It's on the second floor, but there's an elevator." The relief is obvious in her face. They are silent as they walk to the elevator, get in, and then walk along the hallway to Cameron's hotel room. She unlocks the door and lets him inside. A lone queen size bed stands in the middle of the room. He stares accusingly at her.
"That doesn't look like two beds to me."
"Oh, there's a cot underneath it." She pauses, sensing his uncertainty. "And yes, I do plan on letting you take the real bed."
He grunts in reply.