By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: Not mine, unfortunately. Not any of yours, either. We all weep, I'm sure.
Summary: "You know how I hate a mystery," he hears himself say, finally, before capturing her mouth with his and finally getting to feel those fingers digging into his hips and somehow through some fumbling and murmured reminders that he does, in fact, love her and does need her more than he ever thought he'd need anyone and it...hurts.
Rating: R, for the obvious reasons, but because it's not as dirty as it probably could be.

He waits as she walks away from her window, staring at the ticking of the seconds on his watch. Five, four, three, two, one.

The window opens again and she looks out at him. Her towel is damp in his hand and he's fairly sure that if they weren't soaked with water, his shorts would be damp, too. Her pajamas are light and airy. By all rights, they should be transparent. They're not.

Shame, he thinks, clenching the towel as she bites her lip at him in that way that always--ah--he sucks in a breath as his cock does that little twitch thing it always does whenever she bites her lips or swings her hips.

Getting poetic now, are you? He thinks to himself, a satisfied little smirk on his face as she disappears from the window. He takes his time walking around the side of the house to her front door and has to fight the widening grin on his face when the door is already open as he makes his way up the walk. He wants to take his time. Even now, two months and no Vicodin later, a tiny little part of him still feels the need to pace himself for everything. Have to do things the right way or he'll pay for it later.

So he does, because he doesn't want to fuck this up like does so many other things. Like he has so many other times between them. He can't lose her trust, her faith, even if he has lost that of so many others.

Because for some reason that he can't figure out--and isn't quite sure he wants to--it matters to him, this woman's belief in him and he'll do anything not to shake it.

"I only want my towel back," she says, only she doesn't protest as he walks back into her house where he's been so many times before. She doesn't block him or stop him from removing his shoes and socks. He always loved walking barefoot on her hardwood floors. Something about the cold made him feel more alert and, yet, relaxed all at the same time. He can't explain it and doesn't try. It's only another thing on a long list of things that make a certain kind of sense with her and no one else.

He doesn't talk much, really. Never has. No one knows that except a handful of people. None of the doctors or nurses he works with (with the exception of Wilson) would ever believe it. He works hard to keep himself to himself. It's exhausting work with little reward, so it's a damned good thing he doesn't care about that sort of thing or he'd be sorely disappointed.

He remembers the first time they slept together like it was a photograph often-studied. Or maybe a video would be more accurate. High-resolution with surround sound.

Whatever he'd meant to happen, the sensation of her slick skin sliding across his and her lips on every inch of him is something he'll never share with anyone. She is his, damn it, and everyone always says he is possessive. They don't know the half of it.

He smiles a little as she takes the towel from him and disappears into what he knows is her laundry room. He knows her home like she knows his. It's the sort of intimate knowledge that comes from his easing down her hallway at two in the morning because he felt like raiding her fridge. Her perched on his wheeled kitchen stool eating Häagen-Dazs at one in the afternoon on one of their weekends.

They appreciate that what they have is theirs and they don't feel the need to broadcast it to the world. They like their own universe just fine.

He's still smiling as she comes back into the foyer and is frowning at him for dripping water and sweat all over her nice, dry floor. It only makes him smile more.

"What the hell are you smiling at?" She asks, getting cranky now. "I thought you weren't a morning person."

"It's two o'clock," he counters, padding smoothly over to her (leather) couch and flopping down on it, earning a glare in return. "It hardly counts as morning. And, as I believe you should recall, I am a night person. Always have been, which you well know."

He sighs and shifts a bit because she still hasn't put on a robe and he never renewed his Skinemax subscription after a month ago and he'd like nothing better than to feel her digging her fingers into the crevices and hollows of his hips and shoulders. He'll have to settle for feeling them around his wrist as she urges him back up off her precious couch.

"You're soaking wet, in case you hadn't noticed," she says, but her rebuke lacks the venom it might otherwise have because this is him and she knows him and understands that her battles have to be chosen carefully and it is just a couch.

"I noticed," he says carelessly, giving her a shameless once-over. She rolls her eyes and sighs at his lack of scruples when it came to staring at her.

"You know, you'd think you'd be a little less blatant when trying to get under the boss's skirt, but this is you, so--"

"You're not wearing a skirt," he counters and she rolls her eyes again, because she walked right into that trap of obviousness. She's known him long enough to know that he is like a little boy in his teasing and selfishness. She's tried to pretend that it irritates her, but knows that it is a futile attempt. She's tried to pretend a lot of things with him but, as always, they never seem to work out. She loves him far too much to say otherwise for long.

She sighs and gives up for the night. "You could at least have a shower. You're starting to smell."

"The fountain--"

"Is not a shower. You smell."

"If I asked you to join me--"

"I'd tell you you're lucky I don't toss you out on your ass, now go shower."

He pouts insincerely and gets heavily to his feet. He's not tired, she knows. Something else is going on that he'd rather not admit to yet. She won't push him into it, but she watches as he begins to shed the clingy, slightly less sodden clothes he came here with and sees the tense bearing in his back muscles.

She suddenly has an intense urge to rub and mold them. To ease the tightness away. She bites her lip momentarily and follows him to her bedroom where she watches him disappear into her bathroom and listens to the comforting hiss of water start a moment later.

Reaching into the top drawer of her wardrobe--he always teases her for not having any closets, saying that this was America and that wardrobes are for the British oppressors that we don't have anymore--and pulls out a clean black t-shirt and a pair of boxer briefs for him. They match. He'll tease her about that, too. She listens with comfort as he begins to hum the refrains of some Miles Davis piece or another that she can never remember the titles to no matter how often he insists on telling her. Charlie Parker was playing the day she walked into his apartment for the first time, she remembers. That, she'll never forget. He had been appalled that she hadn't ever seen any of the Star Wars movies and sought to rectify that situation as soon as possible.

He was a secret geek, her House.

She smiles as she hears the water stop abruptly and his heavy footfalls as he steps out of her shower. The lights are still dimmed. He only keeps them on that much because he knows she worries. He swears he doesn't need them. She's always thought it ridiculous that he kept the lights off if he showered at her house late at night. She'd rather be kept awake for a little while than risk him falling and breaking a hip. But he turns the lights down regardless of her protests and while she loves him for it, she wants very much to hit him as well. But he has yet to fall, much to her relief. The only upside is that she gets to call him an idiot herself yet again as he slides into bed beside her. He has ignored the underclothes she left out for him, instead wrapping his long lean body around her and nuzzling her back with that gentle scratch that sends shivers and shocks racing through her whether she wants them or not.

And she'd be a liar if she said she didn't.

"Go to sleep," she tries to whisper, but the insistent poke in her back says that that's the last thing on his mind.

"I love you," he rumbles in reply and she shivers again as his hands slide up to move her hair out of the way. His musician's fingers trail wings over her shoulder blades and it's all she can do to ignore him and not turn over.

His skin is still damp from the shower and he smells like her soap and hot water. She never knew that water could smell so nice until she met him.

"Want to know what was on the Discovery Health Channel on Monday?" he asks absently and she wants to giggle because he's the only person she knows who can talk about documentaries while trying to seduce her.

"Babies," she whispers, and she can feel his nod in the faint moonlight that still filters through her window. "I thought you hated all the babies being born all day?"

"If you've seen one birth, you've seen them all," he whispers, playing her backbone like the baby grand that sits in his living room. "The real interesting stuff comes on at night, you know."

"Ah, yes. Dead bodies and freak accidents," she agrees and her breath hitches as he trails one of those lovely fingers over her hipbone and down her thigh. It's a moment before she realizes he's dipped that finger inside her shorts, slowly but persistently pushing them downward.

"But I got to watching earlier because it was my day off and General Hospital wasn't on yet. And there were all the babies and all their parents. Well, their mommies at any rate. Idiot daddies were nowhere to be found half the damned time. Bastards."

He's rubbing the inside of her thigh now and she wants more than anything to turn over, but she can't let him have what he wants so easily. Not when it's what she wants, too. And she's always needed to work for what she wanted, hasn't she?

"Anyway, there were all these babies. All these fingers..." he trails his up to her collarbone and she hisses even though she doesn't want to. She bites her lip again and tries to ignore his appreciative chuckle. "All these toes. Little fingernails barely bigger than that little dot on the alarm clock that says it's afternoon. Tiny."

He shifts and his cock rubs against her thigh. She is losing the battle, damn it, but it isn't such a bad thing. There aren't going to be any losers here, but...still.

"And I started thinking--I think a lot, don't I?" he asks and she chuckles before she can stop herself and that's when he knows he's won and damn him.

And she gives up the fight then, no longer resisting as he moves that hand up and gently turns her to face him. "The case can wait. We have other unresolved matters, if I recall correctly."

"You usually do," she says, arresting the momentum he started and pulling him to let him rest atop her instead. She always loved the warm, heavy weight of him on her loves the feeling of his heartbeat thudding down into her chest. She takes a moment to kiss his forehead. "And yes, you'd be right."

"You came to my office to tell me 'thank you,' or so I thought. I asked." He kisses her then, feather light and somehow miles deep, and takes a moment to admire her eyelashes--reaching up to touch them one by one. Her eyes close and those fingers on her eyes and that heart on her chest and those words in her ears are the most beautiful thing she's ever felt or heard and she wants to cry all of a sudden.

He watches as tears appear in her eyes and it takes him a moment to realize that he's whispering to her now. He doesn't even know what he's saying but, whatever it is, it must be good because she's biting her lip again in that way that he loves more than anything and she's reaching up to tangle her fingers in his hair as he divests her of the clothes that have gotten in his way ever since he showed up outside that window.

"You know how I hate a mystery," he hears himself say, finally, before capturing her mouth with his and finally getting to feel those fingers digging into his hips and somehow through some fumbling and murmured reminders that he does, in fact, love her and does need her more than he ever thought he'd need anyone and it...hurts. It actually hurts him when they fight--real fights and not the snarky banter that fills their days and leaves him laughing inside even when he halfway feels like he hates her for the things she does to him and the way she makes him want to behave half the time even though they both know it'll never last for long--and say nasty things to each other that make him want to drink his way through his liquor cabinet and fall into an oblivion where he can just forget.

The arguments about things like Stacy and how sometimes he feels like the hospital might mean more to her than he does and he says these things in his own spectacular way that leaves her throwing scotch glasses at him and has him ducking out of the way and clutching his thigh in agony later because he always has to pay the toll for every emotion he feels and those he drags out of her.

The apologies that come later not so much in words, but in looks and little touches on her shoulder and his thigh late at night when he thinks she's asleep and the way she allows him to saunter in at damned near twelve in the afternoon because she knows more than anyone exactly what happened the night before.

His excuses about hookers and bar fights don't mean any more to her than hers of needing to make sure he behaved for the donors. She knows he didn't and she knows he won't.

He doesn't talk much, really, so when he does he makes sure he means it.

They're moving now, slowly, her moans filling his ears and his teeth grazing along her neck followed by licks to sooth and comfort. She urges him on, deeper, faster. Needing him as close as she can get him. It's like pulling teeth to get him to say these things to her, so she takes them where she can get them: in his actions and deeds, his moans and analogies vague and obscure to most ears--even hers. It annoys him when he has to explain, she knows. That's half the fun.

She moans herself, because now he's reading sonnets and lyrics to songs she doesn't know into her skin and the feeling of his lips as he moves slowly, torturously down her body is more than she can take, almost. He's whispering in languages she doesn't know and some she does as he reaches up to take hold of her hand and move it to his mouth. He kisses her palm, whispering the formations of words she only barely recognizes is she so far gone.

Ani ohev otach, he mouths into her palm and she shivers. Main tumse pyar karta hoon, his mouth says to her hand and she vaguely registers the words themselves. Taim i' ngra leat, this man's lips press into her skin. I love you in so many ways, so many tongues, shapes, patterns. His hands come up to spell it with his hands at one point and she finds herself shocked.

His index and little finger extended before her eyes, the middle and ring held restrained and the thumb extended to the side. I love you.

And it's then that she does cry, audibly and visibly, wanting nothing more than to envelop him inside her--like the life they're trying to create--and protect him as she knows he'd protect her.

They move and it feels like hours, days pass and she drowns inside him. He likes to take his time, he always said, and proves himself a man of his word. She'd like nothing better than to hurry him along, because she's sinking and she needs him to rescue her. But he won't be rushed. Twenty years have taught her that this is one of the most complacent men alive. She was a fine meal, he said, and he wouldn't rushed.

So when she feels his pace finally beginning to pick up, she's barely on the edge of reason. He is a gentleman, despite all evidence to the contrary, and has made her pleasure paramount, but there's only so long he can hold out. He's moving faster now, all the energy she's surprised he hasn't used up over the last few days is propelling him forward and she is being happily dragged along for the ride. She falls headfirst into the abyss she's been asking for, hearing and feeling him follow moments later.

When the colors end, he lies on her chest, placid and more still than he usually is on nights like this. He turns his head and looks at her with a haze having fallen over those eyes that shine like icebergs in the pale light of the room.

She feels a lazy smile grow on her lips and drags a hand gently along the side of his face before reaching up and repeating his actions from earlier herself, adding at the end two index fingers touching at their tips.

I love you, too.

He smiles his tiny smirk of a grin, then, and she laughs softly at the enormous yawn that follows. His yawns seem to take whatever he has left out of him and this is proven as his head drops back down to her chest, heavy and weighted with sated exhaustion.

She stretches forward a little to find his mouth--that beautiful mouth that entrances and infuriates her all in one swift turn--and takes his bottom lip in hers, nibbling gently in that way she knows he loves. Sure enough, those eyes brighten for a moment before the lids close and he starts to drift off. She's somewhat dismayed that his full weight on her feels so slight. She worries when he tells her he's not hungry. But right now, he's sleeping softly and more deeply than she's seen in years and for that she's thankful.

She hopes he has found some sort of peace.