Rating:PG-13 (just a little groping)
Warnings:Total fluff. Sappy. Basically, dripping with House/Cameron goo.

Summary:Companion piece to Coward - House POV

Disclaimer: They're not mine.

You shift your back against the bar, wishing for the millionth time you'd told Cuddy to go to hell when she said you had to attend this stupid party. The rail of the bar is digging into your back painfully, but not as painfully as your leg would be protesting if you stood up straight. This whole stupid party is painful.

You're annoyed from the moment you arrive. You want to arrive late, but it seems Cuddy has finally gotten one over on you. The invitation that is currently crumpled up in your tuxedo coat pocket says the event begins at seven o'clock. You arrive at nine only to find you are one of the first guests there. Worse than being on time, you are now forced to greet or at least acknowledge everyone who comes in the door. Cuddy will pay for this treachery, you vow.

At nearly ten the room is full enough that you are able to break away from Cuddy's evil clutches and make your way to the bar. You order a scotch and down it upon arrival, quickly signaling for its replacement. Your second drink in hand, you turn to survey the room.

That's when she shows up. Punctuality is one of her more annoying personality traits. She's late, but you don't wonder why. You stare at her, like so many other men in the room. She is wearing red. Very little other thought is possible at this point. The dress is … very little other thought is possible at this point.

She sees you from across the room and stares back for just a moment. It's far too little time, in your opinion. You watch her make her way to the head table, and you're not sure that your jaw didn't actually drop a little when the back of the dress, or lack thereof, came into your view. You tilt your head to better appreciate her. Damn.

Your eyes follow her across the room as she goes to stand with Chase and Foreman. You continue watching her as she listens to the boys blabber on about New Year's Resolutions. You've been practicing your lip reading, and it's coming in very handy. You strain to see her better when she speaks, but the angle is wrong and you can't see what her resolution is.

Wilson comes and stands next to you at the bar. You don't acknowledge him. He looks in the general direction you're staring in and you know you see his jaw drop at the sight of her. You elbow him in the stomach.

"It's not polite to stare," you say. You finish your drink and place the empty glass on the bar.

"Since when have you cared what is or isn't polite?" he retorts. "And what would you call what you're doing?"

"Research," you say.

"Researching the way that dress shows off her as-s-s…ets?" Wilson drawls out.

You turn to him finally, and give him the blandest look you can muster. Apparently it's not so bland, because he reacts in a highly predictable Wilson way.

"Are we going to go through this again?" he asks in that long suffering way he has.

"Nope," you reply. You push yourself off the bar and walk toward the balcony. You try not to draw attention to yourself for once. You have to walk fairly close to her to get outside and at the moment you don't think you really want to talk to her.

You stand outside alone for a few minutes, just enjoying the quiet and the chance to clear your head of her. You don't like the way she's been lingering in there. And not just tonight, if you're going to be honest. She's been popping into your head at the most inopportune times lately: while you're watching TV, trying to read a book or worse trying to fall asleep. You know tonight, despite your best efforts, that dress will be the last thing you see before sleep.

You hear footsteps behind you, and you slink into the far corner of the balcony hoping not to be spotted.

It's her.

You watch as she sinks into a chair and sighs. You know her feet must hurt; those heels were probably designed by some misogynist bastard. They do make her ass look great though.

You don't know why you limp over to speak to her. As she reclines in the chair and tips her head back her chest is pushed more firmly against the deep red satin of her gown and you can see her nipples clearly.

"Is it cold out here, or are you just happy to see me?" you ask. She hesitates before answering, and you wonder if you've said the wrong thing already.

"House, please."

"Begging already?" you ask in amusement. Sometimes she's so cute when she's frustrated even you can't deny it. She sighs and stands to leave without even taking her drink.

You don't want her to go. Not yet. You reach out and grab hold of her arm.

"Sit," you tell her. You know her feet hurt, and if she asks that is the excuse you plan to use but really you'd rather talk to her than avoid the party alone.

You look around the balcony for another chair. You want to talk to her, but you don't want to suffer for it. You spy one in the corner where you were lurking and you drag it next to her, loving the horrific screeching noise is makes and hoping you're driving Cuddy nuts.

She seems intent on ignoring you. You can't have that.

"Make any New Year's Resolutions?" you ask and she whips her head around to face you. She can't know you were 'eavesdropping' on her conversation with Dumb and Dumber. It's New Year's Eve. What else would he ask to strike up a conversation?

"I haven't decided yet," she says and you nod.

She's lying. Everyone has a tell, and she's no different. Hers has gotten harder to read over the past few years, an inevitable side effect of working for you, but you still notice it. She looks through you, not at you. It's a very subtle difference, but you notice.

"You?" she asks. Her tone is light and perfectly acceptable for casual conversation, but that's not what this is. You've never had a casual conversation with her and this is no different.

"Sure," you say easily. "I'm going to bomb the clinic, convince Wilson he's gay and set Cuddy up with Foreman. Oh no wait, those are my evils plans, scratch that."

She laughs and damn if you don't smile just a little. You turn to say something witty about Wilson's shoes and notice she's shivering. She crosses her arms, giving you a great glimpse of her cleavage, and tries to rub away the goose bumps but it's freezing out and she'll never stay warm that way.

You don't want her to go back inside yet. You don't want to do it, but she's moving in her chair again like she's going to get up and before she can, you take off your tuxedo coat and put it over her shoulders.

She turns toward you and unless she ate a fruit salad thirty seconds before she came out on the balcony she's wearing scented lip gloss. Strawberries. You wonder if it tastes like strawberries too.

"You'll freeze," you say and she nods. She pulls the coat tighter around herself. You don't back away. You like invading her personal space. It makes this dance that the two of you do seem a little more real. A little more like something might actually happen.

A little less like an annoying dream.

She's kissing you. Her lips are cold, icy almost, but they send a wave of heat racing through you that you haven't felt in a long time. People don't often surprise you, but she definitely got you this time. She kisses you for nearly thirty seconds before you have the presence of mind to kiss her back. She opens her lips and you dart out your tongue quickly. She moans and suddenly the kiss is lot more intense.

And she does taste like strawberries.

Your hands are moving ahead of your brain and it isn't until the cool satin makes contact with your palm that you realize you're touching her breast.

"House," she says against your lips. "What are you doing?"

"Checking your pockets for needles," you say, your lips still so close that they brush hers as you speak. You immediately wish you hadn't said that and prepare to be slapped across the face.

"That's not my pocket," she says instead.


You feel her lips stretch in a grin and press in for another kiss. You don't know what she thought she was doing by starting this, but you aren't about to let her forget who she's dealing with here.

When you finally separate, you look at her expectantly.

"I decided," she says.

You frown. Decided what?

"My resolution."

You raise an eyebrow. Behind you a loud cheer erupts and fireworks being to fly overhead.

It's midnight.

"I'm going to stop being such a coward," she says.

You look away for a moment, and you panic, wondering how she knew exactly what to say. You always said she was stupid for wearing her heart on her sleeve. You're only stupid if it backfires. If it works, you're brave.

That was her. Braveheart.

You turn back and you can see the reflection of fireworks in her eyes.

"Me too," you say, and kiss her softly.

You think maybe that dress will be the last thing you see before sleep tonight. You hope it's draped over the foot of your bed.