Title: And Unto Him She Shall Return (15/15)

Characters: Cameron/House

Spoilers: None

Summary: She would always return.

a/n: Thank you all so much for the comments! Each brightened my day and kept me going to finish this!

There's no use deceiving

Neither of us want to be alone

"Lonelily" – Damien Rice

The next morning, when Wilson went to let himself into his office, he found the door unlocked. He proceeded with caution, finding the lights out and at first glance perceiving things to be generally in order. His sizable desk chair was facing away from the door, and he strained to better hear the faint sound of someone else's breathing.

Eyes widened in alarm, he bit his bottom lip as he silently dropped his bag, glancing around him for something to use as a defensive tool. Gingerly settling on the spare umbrella hanging on his coat rack, he crept noiselessly toward the chair. He wasn't sure what he was going to do after reaching his destination, but he figured that he'd cross that bridge when he came to it. In about four seconds.

"Put down the umbrella you idiot," House's distinctive scratchy voice drawled as he indolently turned the chair around. Wilson's jaw dropped as his arms fell limply to his sides.

"Wha- how did you know?"

"Reflection in the glass you moron," House muttered in reply. He was twirling Wilson's pen – one of his good pens – between his fingers idly.

"Why the hell are you breaking into my office? If you have something to say to me, why can't you just come talk to me like a normal person?" At House's confused, inquisitive expression, Wilson relented with pressure-releasing chortle. "Why am I even saying this?" he mused to himself. He busied himself with removing his coat as House scrutinized him.

"We slept together once, you know," he said, as if testing the waters. Confused for a moment about whom House was referring to, Wilson stilled.

"I'm not interested in continuing this conversation from yesterday," Wilson said firmly.

"Whoa there Jimmy," House seemed a little surprised at Wilson's firmness. He paused a little – a sure sign that he was working up to something else. "I'm not here about that."

"What a relief," Wilson chimed in sarcasm. House shot him a look of veiled disdain that didn't quite manage to cover his troubled anxiousness. He restlessly rose from Wilson's desk to stand near the bookcase, absently running his fingers through the thin layer of dust. Wilson started once again at the sight of House moving about sans cane. It gave the metaphor in his mind of past and future colliding such an appropriate visual representation.

He took the now vacant seat behind his desk, reorganizing the objects House had moved. As he waited for House to speak he marveled for what seemed like the infinite time at the twisted nature of their friendship. The episode from yesterday, the things House had said – all were now brushed aside in House's mind, as easily as if they'd meant nothing. Wilson wondered why he was okay with this time and again without fail; he wondered what it said about him.

As always, before he could wonder too deeply, House said cryptically, "I'm thinking of doing something. But it's…" He trailed off, and moved to sit in front of Wilson's desk. "What did she say to you?" Wilson replied with a depreciating look and a silent snicker. "Alright, fine." He tapped the edge of Wilson's desk and his motions heightened once again the absence of his cane. "She's leaving."

"I know," Wilson said slowly, his head pointed down at his desk, his eyes peering up at the mentally distant House.

"I wanted to see if I'd changed." The last word came out as a bitter taste in his mouth. "Wanted to see if she would notice. If it would last." His eyes darted around, unseeing – as if he wasn't really paying attention to what he was saying, so that later he could plausibility claim deniability concerning his utterances. House rose once again, this time heading for the door to their shared balcony.

"Why don't you just-" Wilson called after him. But when House turned, finally revealing the expression on his face, Wilson stopped cold. He'd changed? Not that much after all. "Look, I know this all seems mentally impossible for you, too riddled with change to be worth any kind of effort or struggle. But even at the very worst you'd come out better than before: you can walk."

House nodded a little, then turned and opened the door. "That's what's weird," he muttered. "It's me, but it's not just-" Leaving his thought unfinished, he continued out the door, into the melting slush.

"Got a second?" Cameron asked, poking her head through Wilson's slightly ajar door.

"Of course," he said genially. As she sunk into the plush leather chair, she marveled at the ease with which she slipped back into former habits. It was years since they'd had a chat like this, though it seemed only days. Phone conversations and e-mails couldn't compete with the background of Wilson's subdued bookshelves and menagerie of cancer patient gift trinkets.

She tried not to fidget, but found herself twisting a ring on her right hand. She looked down at it, glad for the reminder. She'd dug it out of one of the unpacked boxes this morning, slipped it onto her finger for the first time in years. It had glided on in an effortlessly smooth stroke, pissing her off. The past should not come back to us that easily, she'd thought. Glancing up at Wilson, she silently willed him to speak.

"Still…leaving?" She waited a beat, expecting something more.

"That's the best you can do?" she said, wincing in mock disappointment. He faintly smiled, breathing out something between a sigh and a chuckle. "You remember when we used to just…say whatever we wanted to about him here? How you thought we should do weekly sweeps for bugs?"

"Not weekly," he muttered in meek protestation, earning a bemused look of reflection from her in return.

"It's times like these I wish he was right about all that 'nothing ever changes' crap," she said softly. She could sense Wilson's hesitation, his uncertainty about what to say, why she'd come, or where her thoughts lie. She wished that she could help him – desperately so – for if she could give him a clue, might she not come closer to understanding herself? "He said…he said you can't want someone without needing them. That the two are somehow integral parts of each other."

"Well," he drew out the word, brow furrowed. "I want to eat a gallon of ice cream a day, but I certainly don't need to." She shot him a worried look.

"You want to eat a gallon of ice cream a day?"

"It's an example," he sighed, peering up at her from under that furrowed dark brow.

"But it's not people. His argument was people who want each other need each other." She paused, twisting the ring once more. "Do you…do you need Cuddy?" Wilson's face as he looked up in surprise was so open and calmly happy that she couldn't help breaking into a soft smile.

"I –," he stopped, as if considering the issue for the first time and so wanting to cover all the angles. "Yes." He seemed both amazed and pleased with himself all at once. Coming down from his cloud, he took in her expectant face and added, "I guess I didn't…know it until I…wanted her. But I-" He brought a hand up to his chin, cupping it in a posture of deep thought. "But I guess I always did. Huh."

"I didn't need my husband," she admitted in a low voice. Wilson gazed at her intently.

"Well then, I guess the question is: did you want him?"

"I married him," she replied in a slightly irritated tone of exasperation.

"So…you wanted him until death did you part?" Cameron glared at what she perceived to be his audacity. She was about to protest when he cut her off by saying, "Are you saying that you wanted forever with him?" Her gaze retreated back to one of contemplation. Years – many years – later and she still had trouble facing the answer to that question.

"I think," Wilson continued tentatively, "that he went after you that day because you're…you're like a litmus test for him." Bemused, she urged him to go on with a small shake of the head in confusion. "He knows how to get the truth from you. You're like some kind of constant for him. Usually the leg and the pain are the constants, but this time…so he needed you. To check."

Far from feeling enlightened, she scrunched up her face a little, rising from the chair. For once she didn't want to tell Wilson everything, didn't want him to know that she truly had no idea how she was going to leave yet again, how she was going to stay away. She heard herself mumble a thanks, say something mundane about him and Cuddy but her thoughts remained locked on a single moment of expressed need that had been answered with surprising tenderness and equal desire.

She had somehow been granted access to something in House that night that she'd never been able to fully get at before. And now she was to give it up. But better now, she thought, then after having made it part of herself. Better now when all she had to forget were his handprints on her skin. Better now before he would have time to leave new scars on her heart.

"Cameron," Wilson called out as she reached the door. "He thinks he doesn't need people. But you and I both…what I mean to say is that yes, he needed someone to be his litmus test. He could have gone after…he could've gone after a number of people. But he went after – he wanted you." He paused, standing up and moving to join her at the door. "His life has been relatively the same for how many years? And now, within a short time, the center of what his life has been has vanished. He's gonna cling to anything and everything else left from that life in order to avoid change."

"I don't expect him to change who he is," she protested, "Why does no one ever believe me when I say that?"

"I'm just asking you to…to think about giving him some time."

"How much time Wilson?" she sighed, blue eyes searchingly meeting brown. "Forever?" A ghost of a tragically sardonic smile graced her face once more as she slipped through the door into the long, empty hallway.

House felt like a mouse sniffing around a trap filled with poisoned cheese as he rounded the corner and Cameron's office came into view. His hand squeezed the air, searching for his cane.

"Damn it," he muttered. He'd been doing it all day. That cane had become like an extended fifth limb over the years, not just making up for the leg, but providing a plethora of added bonuses, the lack of which House was having a hard time adjusting to. And yet, how could he complain about no longer having to use the cane? It was a perfect paradox of misery.

He crept closer to her office, gingerly inching his head into the doorway to survey the room. She was half-sitting on her desk, gazing out the window at nothing. Her hair was pulled back in that no nonsense way she utilized during tougher than usual cases and in instances of extreme annoyance with House. Good, he thought. And it was good. If she could be annoyed with him, then-

But he wouldn't think that just now. He'd follow the plan, the script he'd written in his mind. Silently entering the room, he said softly and pointedly, "So, was it the leg?"

Though he carefully observed her, he noted no sign of surprise, no dawning of awareness at the sound of his voice. She merely lowered her eyes from the window to the wall before replying in a tired, placating voice, "Was what the leg?"

"Why you left. Before. Not the first time – that was because of your 'feelings feelings deep inside.' But this last time…"

"Did I leave because of your leg?" She was looking at him now, finally, her face scrunched up in confusion.

"Yeah. Maybe you decided to do a one-eighty and only go for non-damaged guys. Would also explain why you came back."

"Except I didn't know about your leg when I agreed to come back, remember? You lied to everyone, including your best friend and boss, allowing them to believe that you were still suffering from a debilitating disability when in fact you had been healed."

"Well yeah, but have you seen my parking spot?" Her face softened at his sarcastic barb and he felt a tinge of…something. She appeared lost in her thoughts for some time, and House began to worry that he might have to say more.

"I left…because I was afraid." She looked down at her hands while she spoke and he noticed her fingers twisting a ring he'd never seen before. "Do you remember – what am I saying? You remember everything. Joel. Dr. Grey. When he – when I – that was the beginning. It was the beginning of – I didn't want to be you, House, at the end of the day, I didn't want to be you. A better doctor, yes, but I found myself trying to – and I think it was because I thought I could somehow reach you that way. Like maybe if I were on the other side – on your side – you'd finally…see me."

He watched her bring her hand up to her mouth, gently trace her lips. She was lost in thoughts again after her outburst, lost in memories that House could now guess at because they were his too. He wouldn't think too hard just now about what she'd said – he couldn't. Not if he wanted to keep his resolve anyway.

"I was wrong," she said softly, meeting his eyes. He could feel her letting go of him in a way he never had before, and it bothered him. "I was wrong, and I'm sorry." It was all he could do dip his head once in a nod.

Maybe he'd been wrong. Well, not wrong, but…you know. To keep her all those years. To let her become more like him – hell, to help her become more like him. He'd known what was going on. He, who saw things that no one else could, had watched her walk that thin rope in the air, knowing how far she had to fall. And maybe that had been his own, selfish, cruel form of hope – letting her do that.

Maybe so.

But they were both on the ground now, he for the first time in years. It was shaky at best, and he still woke every morning with the fear that it would drop out from under him once again. He wondered if she felt it too. If she would really walk away. If he would let her.

The sun had melted the snow on the sidewalks into a thick slush and it was through this that Cameron trudged on the way to her apartment. She gave a little snort at the thought of her newly leased residence. She'd finally found the perfect place in Princeton – a feat she had attempted many times in the past without success – and she was going to end up ditching it after a few days.

It was an irony only House could love.

She paused a moment, in the middle of the sidewalk, as it all hit her again. House. Their night. Her ultimatum. The fact that she was here at all. Her mental safeguards had been working overtime in her repeated denial of reality, and every time she realized again the exact situation she was in, she had to catch her breath.

She had been certain before when he had appeared in her office that he was going to tell her to leave. She dreaded it but at the same time clung to a faint and most likely imagined notion of closure that she told herself would be enough. And then he hadn't. He'd left as wordlessly as he'd come and she was now faced with carrying out the tougher half of her challenge – accepting silence as a edict to leave.

"Ali, thank God!" Her head snapped up and she took in Richard's overcoat clad form coming toward her. Her mouth hung open a little and she squinted, trying to piece together her reality once again. Richard had left, hadn't he? That hadn't just been in her mind. House's prophesy rang in her ears as Richard continued to talk.

"What?" she managed to get out.

"I said didn't you get my phone messages?" Richard queried. "Your super wouldn't let me into the apartment – actually, I'm pretty sure he now thinks you've got an abusive boyfriend hunting you down." He waited a moment – for a smile? – and then added, "I play the role of the abusive boyfriend in this scenario."

"Richard, what are you doing here?"

"Ali, don't say anything for a minute, okay? Just – just listen, hear me out. I know that's asking more than I've done for you lately, but…Ali, I got half-way home when I realized that I…I have to have you in my life. You help me tick. You…you drive me mad sometimes. But I even – I guess I even need that." He grinned and she felt her features soften in the face of his good will.

"I know we said horrible things to each other. I know you think I'm an idiot for being jealous of House – hell, I think I'm an idiot for being jealous of House. But Ali, you can't give up on this, you just can't. I want us to make a life together – we had plans to make a life together Ali, you and me. One life. Whatever I've done, whatever I've said – I was an idiot Ali. Because that's all there is, you and me." He paused, as though reviewing his speech for anything he might have left out. Finally he shrugged a little, the all-knowing half grin that had drawn her to him the first time they met emerging slyly.

"Till death do us part, Ali. Though I don't know if I deserve that from you. But just the same, I'm offering it – me. Everything I have, anything I can do. And you don't have to answer everything now. I just want to know – I need to know if you think – if you want to – try."

She looked down into the soupy snow at her feet. The lawn a few yards away was still covered in what looked to be a solid layer of snow – the kind of snow that was perfect for snowballs and snowmen. She frowned at that snow, wanting to plunge her foot through its pristine crust, to test if it was as solid as it looked. For the sun had shone on it all day too, hadn't it?

"Ali?" Richard pulled her from her thoughts, back into reality. The reality where one smart, handsome doctor was offering her tomorrow, while another was freeing her from yesterday.

He wondered if she was paying for heat. Of course she was paying for heat – she wouldn't pay for an apartment with no heat. Would she? How had she slept here last night? It was so damn cold that he felt his leg stiffening. A pain shot through him. When it reached his leg, an icicle of fear formed in his heart. Normal, he had to remind himself. It was a normal reaction to this fucking bitter cold. That was the type of person he was now, one who had normal reactions.

He wasn't sure he liked that.

Leaning back against Cameron's couch, he surveyed her darkened apartment. The couch, unlike the stuffed armchair across the room, had its plastic sheet removed, and he wondered if she'd slept on it the night before. He saw her suitcase propped on top of a stack of boxes, open and picked through. Only one of the boxes was open, its contents scattered haphazardly on the floor around it, as though she'd torn through the box in haste.

The fact that he'd broken into her apartment didn't weigh on his mind as much as the ease with which he'd broken in did. She was going to have to find someplace safer to live if she stayed. (If she stayed.) The thought echoed in his mind, drawing him back to his purpose in coming.

It was crazy, he knew. Insane and selfish. Well, he wasn't entirely sure about the selfish part. He had pushed Stacey away "for her own good," and Wilson had called him on his selfishness. So, he'd have to check with Wilson on this one before making an official decision. Being with Cameron would, in the end, probably fuck both of them up beyond salvation. But the great thing was that he no longer cared.

If she wanted to walk down this path with him, who was he to stop her? She said she couldn't help coming back. Well, if this thing ended in misery, she'd have that problem solved at least. And if it turned out then that he couldn't have her, at least he'd have his misery to languish in. The old. The familiar.

Then again.

He wasn't sure how to do this. In fact, he was pretty sure there was an entire side to this that he was avoiding. He might have lived with the avoidance, however, if the phone hadn't gone off. The fact that Cameron somehow had a phone and phone service in her new apartment, but no heat, was so emblematic of her that he found himself snickering, even as the automated voice of her answering machine instructed the caller to leave their message.

"Ali," the voice of the weasel bleated. On and on he rambled about mistakes and need and love. He "couldn't live" without her. He'd "do anything" to set it all right. House's sneer slowly shifted into a grimace as the dingbat's speech went on. Fake as this loser was, he'd genuinely fallen under Cameron's spell, that was evident.

In a striking moment of selfless clarity, House found himself wondering why the hell he thought he had more of a right to Cameron than the Dick. He couldn't claim to be the better man. The better doctor? Sure. But not the better man. He couldn't claim anything like wanting what was best for Cameron. And the word "future" was nowhere to be found in the lexicon of Them.

The original resolve he'd formed the other night after they'd slept together slowly crept back into his thoughts. It consumed him, roaring in his ears relentlessly against the silence of the room. Minutes alternately dragged on and sped by as he contemplated leaving. She most likely deserved something more, but life had never quite given him what he deserved, and who was he to set the scales right? His torrent of thoughts continued, muddying any clear, logical plans his mind tried to organize. It could not, however, drown out the sound of a key turning in the lock, the gentle sweep of the door as it opened.

He looked up as she entered, feeling wholly unprepared, frustrated at his lack of control. She did not immediately see him, for after letting herself in and closing the door she rested her forehead against it, back facing him, while she breathed an enormous sigh. She slumped against the door a little, dropping her bag carelessly by her feet and he began to worry that she was crying. He had enough right now – he didn't need crying in the mix.

She breathed a more determined sigh and, standing straight, turned toward him. The moonlight, which caught the nuances of repressed hope in her shocked expression, also granted him relief at the sight of her tearless face. She said nothing, though he felt her mind searching for a beginning to the conversation – the confrontation – that they were about to have.

"You…broke…into…my apartment." She seemed more surprised at her lack of foresight than the actual deed. Or so he chose to interpret.

"Well, I didn't have a key," he said, "And waiting in hallways isn't really my thing." He was frustrated by the level of appeasement in his tone and in what he was saying. He was being kind, he was being…pedestrian. It wasn't Them. Not for a moment like this, it wasn't.

"What are you doing-"

"I came to tell you to go." It was through sheer willpower that he didn't wince at the inanity of his own words, at their desperate undertone. She narrowed her eyes.

"You came here, broke into my apartment, and waited God knows how long to tell me to do something that I was going to do anyway, even if you'd done nothing at all?" He looked at her, face expressionless as possible. So she knew him. A bit. He knew her better.

"Wanted to make sure you'd do it." Though she kept up her icy exterior well – he would give her that – he could see the small pang of pain he'd caused. He watched it ripple through her, half fascinated as she firmly kept it from her guarded surface. Good – if she was going to detach herself, it would make it easier for him to do so as well.

"You're a bastard, House," she said softly, and he knew it wasn't what she meant to say. She meant to say a hundred other, sad, things – arrows that would pierce him the way she knew he could pierce her. But he also knew that, being her, she couldn't – wouldn't – take herself there. "Just get out."

He nodded a little, looking around for where he'd set his gloves. As he bent to pick them up, he caught sight of the answering machine, its blinking red light validating his actions. He glanced over at Cameron who had turned away from him, arms crossed tightly. "You got a message…uh…while you were gone," he said simply before noiselessly heading for the door.

"Wait," her voice echoed off the walls. He could feel a shift in her posture, even without seeing her. He stiffened, but did as she commanded. He heard her walk up behind him, footsteps sharp against the cold silence. "Look at me." He turned to find an accusatory look on her face, eyes squinted slightly. "Richard. You heard my message from Richard."

House hesitated. There were too many unknowns at this point. The situation was, he felt, about to veer off course. He shrugged. "Yeah, maybe. How should I know? Some fool babbling incessantly – probably him. By the way, I think you owe me some money." His attempt to deflate the intensity of the moment had an opposite effect as Cameron took a determined step forward.

"Everyone lies," she said, a weary yet eerily calm look on her face.

He was screwed. There was now only one way out.

"Ah, and now the conversion is complete. Congratulations, sorry there's no diploma. Now go forth and antagonize people," he quipped. His words blurred together for her, however, as she focused on his jaw, on the way his mouth quirked upwards. It had been a moment – one stupid failure of thought on his part, but through that one inadvertent crack she'd seen enough.

"You didn't come here to tell me to go," she said, gaining certainty with every word. "House, you didn't come here to tell me that."

"Cameron," he warned. She felt him draw back, add another layer – but it was, for once, too late.

"You came here to ask me to stay," she breathed, still a little in awe. She looked away for a moment, gathering her thoughts in the face of this unexpected development. She began to realize just how much she had pushed hope from her mind, how deep she'd buried what she wanted but thought she'd never have. "Why?" She triumphantly noted how her question caught him off guard.

"How did you know it was Richard who left the message?" he countered.

"I saw him outside," she began openly. She would hold nothing back now. She would fight, yes, but as herself. And this time, if he walked away, it would truly be because of her. "You were right. He came back, came after me. Wants me to forgive him, to go back with him. To marry him."


"So?" she smiled helplessly. "So, I don't love him!" House rolled his eyes, looking greatly unimpressed. "You see this?" She held up her right hand, clad in a simple gold ring. "I dug this up and wore it today – today of all days – to remind me of something. To remind me of a time when I did what I should. When I cared more for others than I did for myself. I won't do that again House. Not now, not this time."

"Don't be an idiot Cameron. Love – love is for fools, for masochists. He can give you a life."

"A life? What kind of life? You're not listening to me: I don't love him!"

"Oh stop being a child. He can give you things."

"Like what?"

"Things. Marriage. A home. Children. A future." House ticked off the list so neatly that it gave her pause and she found herself searching for breath.

"Things…things that you can't give me. Is that what you're trying to say?" He looked slightly uncomfortable and a little pissed at her pointed question. "House, who says I even want those things?" She instinctively reached out a hand toward his arm, but he equally instinctively recoiled, giving her pause.

"You will," he said. His voice was gravelly and low, his eyes intensely locked onto her own. I know this, they said, I know you. She felt herself losing ground.

"You don't know that," she insisted. Desperation began to tug at her as she watched and felt House begin to detach himself. That was how he would win, she knew. Even if it went against what he wanted, he would do it to punish himself. To save her. "And even if I did want…things…some day, how do you know?"

"Know what?" He was tired, resigned. The inclination to beg, to plead surged in her. Something she promised herself she would never do – for him or anyone – ever again. The feeling terrified her, increasing her desire to fight now not only for him, but for herself. She took another step forward, running her arms up his chest, over his shoulders, and cupping his face in her hands. He tried to fidget and brush her off, but she was determined.

"How do you know you can't give those things?"

"Cameron." One simple word he kept saying, yet she could read the paragraphs behind it every time. There was admonishment in his voice, disappointment that she would be so foolish to even ask such a question.

"No," she caressed his face slightly with her thumb, "No, I don't believe that. As much as I don't know what I want, you don't know what you can give."

"I know."

"No. Maybe you've just never been asked before."

"I've been asked."

"Not by me."

"I know what you're asking."

"No you don't. I don't. That's just it. I don't know what forever means House. I never have. I just know that every time I leave here, every time I leave you, I return again and again. I don't come back for the hospital, I don't come back for the patients. I come back for you. And I hate it! I hate myself for doing it."

"Then why do you?" He was engaged again, and she subconsciously breathed a sigh of relief. For the first time, she could glimpse a kind of victory. It was frightening. It was breathtaking.

"The same reason you can't push me away," she said softly, "Even though you can't ask me to stay." For the briefest of moments she saw a struggle in him. And then suddenly his hands were pulling her hands firmly down, away from him. His gaze shifted to the side.

"Go, Cameron. Go." Her mouth opened the slightest as she bowed her head, trying to control the dizzy feeling she was experiencing. It took a moment for his words to register, and another for her to vow that she would not end this night with anything but strength to match his own.

"Fine. Fine, but you first look at me – look me in the eye and tell me you don't love me. Tell me you came for me that day because you were bored or curious or out of some sick need to stop other people from being happy. Tell me!"

"Cameron." There was that one word again. This time it was full of pity – a pity that almost made her sick. Like a bucket of cold water or a slap to the face, it gave her pause, slowed down time.

Not saying anything more, not even venturing to look at him, she walked to the door. She put her shaking hand on the doorknob, clutching it tightly but not yet turning it. "You came that day because you thought you were finally whole," she said softly. "But you're not. I don't know if you'll ever be. But…House…that never mattered to me. I don't want all of you. I never have. I don't even know if that's possible. I just…I wanted some of you. Any part of you. I know there are things you can't give me, House, but they are things I would never ask you for."

She felt a burden lift from her after saying that, found it easier to turn the knob and begin to open the door. But faster than she could do so, he was behind her, his arm reaching out in front of her to firmly push the door shut again. She'd never known him to move so fast. Once – a very long time ago. But then life had gone back to usual and the memories of that House had been buried much like her hopes.

She was still – so still – while his breath blew strands of her hair against her left ear. "Stay," he breathed so softly that she was nearly certain she'd imagined it. His tone was one of defeat that broke her heart. She marveled at how they came together in their hate and fury, they saved themselves in misery and loss.

Releasing the knob, she caught his arm, still braced against the door, pulling it across her. His right arm wrapped around her other side, hesitantly. They shared a sigh as he settled his chin in the slope where her neck met her shoulder. She turned her head at last, resting her forehead against his cheek.

"I'm…going to destroy you, you know that," he feebly attempted to resume his argument.

"And I'm going to break your heart," she said with a small smile. He turned his head, locking eyes with her. The smallest ghost of a smirk flirted with his features.

"Okay then," he said.

And, for a moment, it was.