Disclaimer: Yeah, no chance of me owning this.
AN: This is a fluffy piece with a little angst in the beginning. It was written as a Christmas present for Bubbles1994. It was a challenge, as fluff is nowadays, but I think it turned out okay. Let me know what you think!
She lost five people today.
And it's not the number of the patients or the reek of death embedded in her scrubs that get to her. It's the fact that in a week she'll forget it all, and in a day she'll do it again.
And the emergency room's different, too different. It's unfamiliar and lonely and dark, despite the screaming bright lights. The air is heavy with failures yet to occur but will be unavoidable once they arrive. They're constantly preparing for a battle that they're sure to lose. The goal is no longer to save people, it's to do your best, try your hardest. Expectations are low and she's not used to these predetermined failures.
She knows this should wait as she does it, but a part of her feels that it really can't. She packs her bag and heads up to surgery, because even though he's probably in the middle of more important things, she needs something to lean on and he's all she's got.
She stands in the observation window and watches him work away in silence. It's a while before he notices her standing over him, and he mouths an "I'll be right there" before focusing once more. She sighs as she turns to go wait outside the operating room. She's jealous, really. The ER's the lowest floor, lowest status. House was right: Chase's path is less pathetic, and she almost wishes for a blind moment that she'd never become a doctor in the first place.
Chase finally emerges through the doors with such sincere concern in his eyes that makes her feel like someone really does care. He removes his bloodstained clothes, washes his hands as quickly as he can, and turns to face her, the small of his back pressing against the cool counter. Her desperation must be etched on her face, she thinks, and wishes she could be as collected as he is.
There's a moment's pause and then he closes the distance between them, wrapping his arms around Cameron's shoulders as she buries her face in him. The warmth of his touch seeps into her chilled bones and the baggage and exhaustion from the day are pushed away for an instant.
"What's the matter?" he asks gently, his fingers lightly dancing across her locks of soft, golden hair.
"Rough day," she mumbles into his chest, then pulls back, ashamed of such vulnerability.
"Let's just get out of here." He doesn't question it any further but he knows she's still shadowing what's really there. He rests his arm across her shoulder and she shifts closer in the silence as they leave their worlds behind without another glance.
Chase drives to his place, and she tumbles onto the couch while he disappears into the kitchen. She hears the microwave faintly humming and he soon returns with a warm mug of tea.
She accepts it with a smile and remembers the same sort of concern from her mother, forever ago. And now she's found someone to fill the gap; it's so much better than the countless nights in the past few years when she was left to comfort herself.
The first sip washes away the grueling work of the day and she feels much lighter, happier, now. Chase eases himself down next to her and she presses her heart into him as the pain from earlier evaporates with the warm steam from her mug. He extracts a blanket from somewhere underneath them and wraps it around their beautifully intertwined bodies. Her head drops to his chest and she listens to the steady, rhythmic repetition of his heartbeat. She could get used to this, she realizes, as he lovingly strokes her hair and brushes his lips across the top of her head as if there was no one else in the world today.
It's a while before they stir once more. Cameron finally lifts her head to find Chase staring blankly at the TV.
"You feel better?"
And she reaches the reality that he honestly cares, and there's something about that sort of sincerity that's so hard to find it makes her want to stay in this moment forever. She sits up fully and presses her lips to his, slowly; it's a silent display of gratitude that says what words alone can't.
He returns her kiss with the same loving sweetness in their realm of fantasy until she breaks away and hugs his shoulders tightly, with a hint of urgency, and whispers a gentle "I love you" in his ear.
Softly, with the same quiet intensity of holding a butterfly's wings, he cups her chin in his hand, fixes his eyes to hers, and hoarsely replies, "I love you too".
And they've said it before, in many ways, but this one speaks volumes from their souls and erases any ounce of doubt that had been left behind up to this instant. It's sincere and honest and infinitely real; it's the truth.
Chase makes dinner while Cameron showers away the filth of death ingrained under her nails. He's not much of a cook, but the pot of spaghetti in blood red sauce tastes perfect to her.
"Well, you get to clean up then," he says as they finish, winking across the small, worn table at her.
"Oh no. It's definitely your turn," she tosses back, fighting to keep the grin off her face.
"I made dinner. You get to clean up." He leans back comfortably in his seat, challenging her with a playful gleam in his eyes that a year ago he'd never known to exist.
For a minute she pouts, and he knows that if she asks one more time he won't be able to turn her down. "Will you help?" she pleads innocently, a quality of her voice she's recently rediscovered from too many years ago and doesn't want to lose again.
He smiles slowly and gives a shiver of a nod, almost of approval, then brushes his foot across hers before standing to clear their plates. This time her grin does escape but he misses it.
She joins him at the sink with the pot in her hands and quickly packages the leftovers. There's a spot of sauce left on her thumb, so she innocently brushes it past his lip with a playful twinkle in her eye.
He turns sharply, not expecting the acidic taste that is now seeping into his mouth. His lips part slightly as he stares at the childish delight on her face.
"Oh, sorry," Cameron says sweetly. "Let me get that." And suddenly her lips smother his in such a contrast to the innocence of seconds before. In the moment it takes for him to fall in, she pulls back abruptly.
"Got it all, I think." She inspects his lips briefly and turns back to face the sink.
"No, I still taste some," he replies surely and grabs her waist and kisses her until his head spins and he can't make sense of anything anymore. His wet, soapy hand grazes her cheek and he draws in deeper.
Cameron pulls back, grinning widely while wiping her cheek. "Hey." Her voice is barely above a whisper but suddenly there's water flying at him and laughter fills the air; all worries and self-doubt and unspoken troubles melt into the water fight surrounding them.
Chase aims the faucet at Cameron as she shrieks and attempts to toss a fistful of bubbles at him. But they drift leisurely to the floor just as she does, halfheartedly ducking his next splash at her.
The floor is soaking and the neighbors are sure to complain, but in the here and now it doesn't matter- nothing matters but this, them. They face each other head-on, the island between them as a neutral ground. But they drop to their knees and circle around, until Chase changes directions and rounds a corner sharply and crashes his lips to hers intentionally and everything everywhere melts into puddles of pure water at their knees.
When at long last they break apart, Cameron lets an uncharacteristic giggle escape her lips. "We really made a mess, didn't we?"
Chase glances through the wet hair hanging limply in his eyes at the drenched, soapy floor, Cameron's soaking body, and the dirty dishes still filling the sink. It's not a mess- it cleanses, it washes away the sorrow and despair and defeat from before.
"I don't care," he replies stubbornly, too drawn in to let this moment pass. He kisses her again, and this time it's drastically slower and holds much more meaning. It's the bond that keeps their promises true, the link that keeps their friendship alive, the knot that keeps their love sincere.
She knows, then and there, that this is how fate works; her trust and faith in him are solid and real. she chose him for the reason that she now understands entirely, perfectly.
She saved herself today. And she's sure not to forget it.
AN: How'd you like it? All I want for Christmas are reviews :) Happy holidays! Let me know what you think!