Deep in December

The doubts are worst at night, floating up to haunt her when everything is still and un-dulled by the background noise of the day. There's gossip in the ER, always, like the lowest rung of the social ladder rumbling about all the higher-ups. House's new team is doing so well. He actually seems to like them. They're more efficient than ever, and whatever you do, don't let the boss hear, because didn't you know she's still bitter about leaving?

Cameron flips on the ten o'clock news and curls up on the couch with the quilt her grandmother made. The curtains are askew and she can see snow falling out of the corner of her eye, not much, just a few flakes at a time, sparkling in the streetlight like tiny fairies. She's not really paying attention to anything at all, except for the fact that the important music and tension-filled voices of the anchors are blurring her thoughts beyond any kind of coherence. Mission accomplished, at least for now.

She's half asleep by the time the doorbell rings, shattering the quiet that's settled over her. Cameron wraps the quilt around her shoulders and goes to answer it, shivering as her bare feet touch the cold wood floor.

"Hey," says Chase very softly, when she opens the door. There are snowflakes nestled in his hair, and she can't tell whether his eyes are red from cold or crying.

"Did you walk here?" she asks, surprised. His coat isn't nearly thick enough, and his car is at the hospital besides.

Chase shrugs wordlessly and steps inside, closing the door against a gust of icy air. He runs a hand through his hair, sending bits of ice tumbling onto her doormat. There's something wrong, she notices, his defenses up, the blue of his eyes oddly vulnerable.

"What happened?" she tries, taking his coat and scarf and hanging them in the hall closet. He's still wearing scrubs, she notices, as he steps into the light from her kitchen.

"Nothing." But his entire body is taut, and something has obviously upset him enough to make him walk here through the snow, car forgotten in the hospital's garage.

"I don't believe you," says Cameron, brushing back damp bangs and pressing a hand to his forehead.

He makes a face and jerks away skittishly. "Fine. Don't believe me." End of conversation.

A year ago she knows she would have pushed him, would have needled and prodded until he'd run away or gotten truly angry. She's learned her lesson there, she thinks.

"Fine," says Cameron. She unwinds the quilt from her shoulders and hands it to him, going back to the couch. She turns the volume up a little since they obviously aren't going to talk, and curls up in the corner with her feet under her.

Chase joins her a moment later, wrapping the quilt around both of them. He's still shivering, but some of the tension has gone, and she dares to wrap an arm around him now. His scent is clean and familiar as he settles against her side, head resting in the hollow above her collarbone. Cameron leans her head down to kiss his forehead very gently, feeling a swell of affection as he shudders a little, then snuggles closer.

The doubts are worst at night, settling into her bones like soreness. A year ago, she would never have pictured herself here, silently stroking Chase's hair while fluffy Coca Cola bears party with penguins on her television. A year ago, she would have laughed off the prospect of loving anyone, least of all him. And she does love him, she thinks, though she's still afraid to say it.

The doubts are worst at night, except when he's here, reminding her what it feels like to not be alone. Cameron shifts so that she's facing him, her back to the television. She wraps both arms around him and buries her face against his shoulder, melting like the ice he's dropped in her front hall.