This story was written as a birthday present for my bestest friend Jo. Happy birthday chica! I love ya! Thanks go to "lostforhouse" for being the fastest, most grammatically accurate beta in the land.

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With a long stretch of her arm, Cameron placed the angel on the top of her Christmas tree. After plugging in the lights, she stood back to admire her handiwork. The tree sparkled and glittered like jewels, with every ornament placed lovingly on just the right branch. It was perfect.

She poured a second glass of wine and sat down heavily on the couch, curling her feet underneath her body. She focused intently on the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas that surrounded her. Fat snowflakes fell lazily from the night sky and collected on her windowsills, while Bing Crosby crooned carols in the background. The crisp scent of wood smoke filled her apartment, the warmth of the fire emanated from the fireplace and wrapped around her like a blanket. She grabbed a real blanket off the back of the couch, draped it across her body, and snuggled into the softness.

This time last year, things in my life weren't so warm and fuzzy. House was self-destructing and Tritter was making all our lives hell.

She thought about how much things had changed over the last year. She and the others had left their fellowships with House and moved on to other departments in the hospital. After failing to keep Chase from falling in love with her during their "arrangement", she had tried to have a real relationship with him. And then, realizing that she was only deluding herself, she broke it off completely with him. She preferred solitude over lies. Now her days were filled with car accident and gunshot wound victims, and the occasional plea from House to help him narrow down his choices for new fellows.

But through all the changes, House was still a drug addict, a jerk, stubborn, brilliant and beautiful. Cameron was tired of always putting forth so much effort with him. She knew that nothing would ever be easy when dealing with House, but she didn't understand why he had to make everything so damn hard. If only he would drop the sarcasm for one minute, she might be able to have a real conversation with him, to let him know that he didn't have to be alone. To let him know that she didn't want to be alone.

As Cameron pondered these things, the wine crept its way through her body and made her eyelids heavy. She let herself sink further into the couch, wrapping the blanket tighter around her shoulders. As she drifted off, she allowed herself to indulge in her fantasy world in which House was joining her there on her couch.

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House downed the last sip of beer and placed the empty bottle on top of his piano. His fingers moved of their own volition, dancing across the keys in a solemn medley of Christmas carols. This wasn't the first time he had spent a Christmas season alone in his townhouse, with nobody and nothing but his Steinway, Vicodin, and booze to keep him company.

Well, it sure as hell beats lying on the cold hardwood floor in a pool of my own vomit, like last year.

His thoughts drifted to Cameron, as they often did when he had too much time on his hands. So much had changed over the last year, and Cameron herself was no exception. When she left the diagnostics department, House had assumed he would never see sweet, naïve Cameron again. In a way, he was right. She had returned three weeks later, with a sassy new hair color and an attitude to match. He saw glimpses of the old Cameron: she was still sweet and caring, and she still tried to see the best in everyone. But the new Cameron was stronger, bolder, more confident, less willing to take shit from anybody. Even more beautiful, if that was possible. And as much as he tried not to think about it, he found these changes absolutely irresistible.

House wondered what Cameron might be doing at that moment. He imagined her visiting family, hugging great aunts and giggling with nieces and nephews. Or maybe, now that she was single again, she would be spending a night on the town with girlfriends, sipping neon-colored drinks and flirting with boys who were barely old enough to get into the bars.

But what if she wasn't doing any of those things? She had always been a bit of a loner. Maybe not quite on par with him, but he had never known her to be a social butterfly. What if Cameron was at home, right now, spending this quiet Christmas night by herself? What if he didn't want to be alone tonight any more than she did?

House brought the lilting tune to an abrupt halt and gathered his resolve. The snow had been falling for over an hour, but the roads looked clear enough to go for a ride. Perhaps he would find himself parked in front of Cameron's apartment. And if her light was on, he might even find the nerve to go inside, maybe even knock on her door.

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Cameron slowly came to from her dream-filled slumber. The sound of wood rapping on wood broke through her fuzzy mind until she awoke fully and sat upright, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. She stumbled her way to the front door and glanced through the peephole to reveal House, dressed for the weather in a black wool coat and cabby hat, and looking very unsure of himself.

"House?" she said as she opened the door to him. "What are you doing here? Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, I was just out tonight and thought I'd stop by. You know, to, uh… say… hi." His voice trailed off as he looked around the apartment behind her, focusing his gaze on anything but her face.

Cameron looked at him quizzically, amused and intrigued by his strange behavior. "Oh. Well, hi, I guess. I'm sorry, would you like to come in?"

"Are you busy?"

"No."

"Okay."

House wiped his tennis shoes off on the welcome mat and then stepped inside the apartment. He was immediately assaulted by Christmas spirit and cheer from all directions.

"I had just finished decorating when I fell asleep on the couch," Cameron said as she made her way to the fireplace. "I'll get the fire going again, you can hang your coat up in the closet."

After hanging up his coat and hat, he walked over to the tree and admired the ornaments. He took notice of the lack of any presents under the tree, and was suddenly glad he had come over tonight. As he absentmindedly traced the delicate details of a tiny wooden replica of a violin, he felt the warmth of her body come up close to his.

"My parents gave me that one when I was in high school, the year I made first chair violin in the concert band."

"I didn't know you played."

"Twelve years of lessons. I don't play much anymore. My neighbors aren't fans of music."

"You should bring it over to my place sometime. My neighbors have learned to live with the noise."

At that moment their gazes met, and neither one knew what to say next. It was obvious that House hadn't just been in the neighborhood. She knew he had made a special trip to her apartment.

Cameron spoke first; it was easiest for her. "We don't see each other much anymore. How are you?"

"Fine. Good. Bored." The last word was accompanied by a sideways grin, one she didn't often have the pleasure of seeing. It softened his features and made her grin, too.

"You miss us."

"No," he lied.

"You're allowed to admit it," she teased. "It's just you and me. I won't tell."

Taking a deep breath to build up courage, he stepped closer to her, invading her personal space. "I miss you," he said with a hint of vulnerability in his voice from the sheer honesty of the statement.

Cameron exhaled, seemingly the very breath that House had been holding. "I miss you too." And then her arms were around his waist and her face was buried in his chest, and he held her so tightly, and tucked the top of her head underneath his chin. They swayed to their own music, and he engraved this moment in his mind because it was better than anything that had ever come before.

When they had held each other for an eternity, House pulled back and tipped her chin up with two fingers. His lips curved in a sad smile, an apology for all the arguments and sarcasm and avoidance and missed opportunities. And then he placed his lips against hers, and she accepted him with the sweetest of kisses.

House deepened the kiss, threading his fingers through her blond hair and whispering her name, her first name, against her lips. She couldn't remember him ever calling her that, and the sound of "Allison" leaving his mouth in his deep, gravelly voice literally took her breath away and made her knees go weak.

"Come here," he said as he placed kisses on her forehead, cheeks, throat.

They reluctantly broke apart as he took her by the hand to stand in front of the fireplace. Gesturing for her to wait there, House went to the couch and grabbed the blanket and a few throw pillows. He came back and spread the blanket on the carpet in front of the mantel and tossed the pillows on top of it.

"Not exactly a bear skin rug," he smirked, his head cocked to the side, "but it'll do."

"It's perfect." Cameron's eyes sparkled with joy.

They stepped back into each other's arms and eagerly resumed kissing. Hands started wandering and glanced underneath clothing, brushing sensitive skin, bringing forth gasps of pleasure. House grew bold, lifted Cameron's shirt over her head, and nuzzled her lace-covered breasts with his stubbled cheek. She cupped his face with her slender fingers as she tilted her head back and whispered, "Please."

At her plea, House guided their bodies to the floor, placing a pillow underneath Cameron's head. His nimble fingers quickly unclasped her bra and unzipped her jeans; his clothing immediately followed. Finally, they were skin to skin, his larger frame hovering over her petite curves. He took in the smooth creamy skin laid out before him, and touched her with reverence. His fingers glided across her ribcage like she was the keyboard of his piano.

"So beautiful," he breathed against her ear.

Even with the blazing fire, there was still a slight chill in the room. Cameron's nipples pebbled, begging House to lick them. He wrapped his lips around one, lightly sucking, while his fingers toyed with the other one. Her hands rested on the back of his head, holding him to her. He pulled away when she sighed his name.

Again, their eyes met. "You ok?" asked House.

Cameron nodded furiously and pulled him towards her to crush her lips against his own. Her tongue snaked its way into his mouth, just as her hand snaked its way down his body, tracing the trail of fine hairs below his navel to grasp his erection. House moaned into her mouth and thrust into her hand, unable to control the movements of his hips as she thumbed the head. Cameron tried to convince herself this was all real, as she guided him to her entrance. She could feel her wetness collecting there, spreading onto him and easing his way inside her. He tilted his hips forward, pushed deeper, and she wrapped her legs around his waist.

Cameron forced herself to open her eyes, to pay attention to this, to remember every second. When she lifted her heavy lids, she was met with the breathtaking sight of House's sky blue eyes staring intently at her, consuming her with their passion. How many times had she met his gaze, stood up to the fire that lurked just beneath the surface? She had never felt more exposed to him, yet she knew that this time, he would not crush her.

Unable to withstand House's stare any longer, Cameron wrapped her arms around his neck and began to move with his thrusts. She moaned his name, "Greg", and he placed his lips on her skin, one kiss for every thrust.

Her lips.

Chin.

Forehead.

Nose.

Neck.

Oh god, her neck. I've fantasized about kissing her right here, tasting the sweetness of her skin, inhaling her scent.

Cameron slipped her hand between their bodies, began touching herself. House rocked into her fast, losing any sense of rhythm he had going, and suddenly Cameron was biting down on his shoulder and cried out, spasming around him.

He cursed, willing himself to hold out for just a few more seconds, then grunted "Look at me, Allison."

And when she looked at him with tears in her eyes, House claimed her mouth with his once more as he spilled into her, holding her delicate body in his embrace.

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­Cameron woke up for the second time that night, and drowsily saw that the clock beside her bed read 2:47am. Though her bladder protested, she snuggled into the warmth of the man sleeping soundly with his arm placed protectively across her stomach.

He looked, for once, peaceful and completely unburdened by loneliness. And come to think of it, she also felt at peace. It was almost unbelievable that just a few hours ago she was alone in this very apartment, pining for companionship and love.

House stirred a bit in his sleep, made a cute face that he would probably find embarrassing and juvenile. Cameron couldn't resist placing a soft kiss to his forehead before reluctantly slipping out of the covers.

After using the bathroom, she made her way through the apartment to get a drink of water before heading back to the side of the man she loved. As she passed the tree, still lit up and twinkling, she noticed a small rectangular package nestled under the lowest branches. Tucked next to the elaborate bow, taped to the decadent gold wrapping paper, was a card that simply read:

To Allison

Love, Greg