Wilson wakes up in the middle of the night. His neck is sore. He's fallen asleep in House's armchair. To be precise he not so much fell asleep as passed out because after his first glass of scotch he had a couple of more. He had not planned on getting drunk and philosophizing with House about grave stuff like the sense of life, women and why take away pizza always tastes better when eaten right out of the box. Speaking of the devil...he's looking around for House, expecting him to be lying right over there on the couch, but he's not there. He straightens a bit in his armchair to be able to better look around the living room. Getting up doesn't seem advisable at this point. The apartment door is open, House is nowhere in sight, so he draws his conclusions. Ill-humoredly he heaves his tired bones over to the door and closes it. "I hope he's not stupid enough to drive in his condition," he thinks before he collapses on the couch and falls asleep again.

*

House has finally arrived at his destination. Since walking down the corridor of his apartment building had already proven difficult he had decided against his initial plans of taking his bike or Wilson's car. For once in his life he had chosen to do the responsible thing. He'd called a taxi. The drawback of the whole thing was just that the cab driver seemed to be incredibly dense. How could he not know where to drive when he had clearly told him that he wanted to go to Cameron's place? Very dense indeed and circumstantial. Well, anyway he had managed to arrive where he wanted to go. It had taken longer than he expected. But what went as expected these days?

Again with the corridors… This one is giving him even more trouble than the one at home. He can't find the light switch right away and accidentally rings the door bell of some rude guy that hisses "asshole" at his retreating back before he closes the door again angrily. He's more careful now and finally arrives at Cameron's door. He rings. Once. Twice. Three times. No one answers. He's mildly disappointed and decides to ring again. More insistently this time. Maybe if he leaves his finger on the button it will increase the effect. What do you know? It worked. Finally he hears the padding of feet, then everything's silent again for a short moment. She's probably looking through the spy hole. He waves at her dutifully. A long drown sigh of exasperation can be heard from the other side of the door. She finally opens and lets him in. He stumbles over the threshold clumsily, smiling a stupid, but triumphant drunk smile. He feels like Odysseus who's just come home to Ithaca after a long and tedious odyssey.

She standing there looking at him in disbelieve. Actually she's kind of cute in her loose cotton pajama pants and her black tank top. Her hair is swept up in a messy bun; apparently she just wanted to get it out of her face not caring what she looked like. She seems to be irritated about something. He wonders what it might be and finally decides to ask her about it.

"You're drunk," she says accusatory.

"Really?" he laughs. "I didn't notice." His own jokes are even funnier now that he has downed half a bottle of Scotch.

"You don't talk to me for days and then you show up at my door in the middle of the night and you're drunk." She has summed up the whole situation quite accurately in a few words. He's proud of her.

"Exactly," he smiles smugly. "But I've showed up."

"I'm not impressed. If you don't mind, I'd very much like to get back to bed. In case you haven't noticed, it's 4 am."

"Well, going back to bed sounds fine to me."

"Yes, except that I'll be going there alone. You can sleep on the couch."

"The couch? I'm hurt," he actually pouts like a little boy.

"Yes, the couch," she tells him sternly. "That's all you can expect. It's certainly more than you deserve."

"Ouch, you're certainly nasty today."

"If I was nasty, I would have slammed the door in your face, House," she informs him coolly. "Now go to sleep!"

"Yes, Ma'am!" He mock salutes. She just shakes her head in disapproval. A look of helpless disbelief crosses her face but it disappears again just as quickly. She turns around and walks back into her bedroom.

"Just so you know, I'm going to snore lot and purposefully," he calls at her retreating back.

"Don't you always do that?" she answers in a mildly amused tone before she closes the bedroom door, effectively ending their conversation.

*

Cameron wakes up from peaceful sleep, not to the sound of House's loud snoring. No. She has the distinct feeling of being watched. It's not unpleasant as such. The gaze that lingers on her doesn't feel hostile, but it won't allow her to sleep peacefully either. She turns around, emitting a little groan of displeasure. That's all she's capable of right now. Minutes ago she wrapped in pleasantly dreamless slumber. Now the drowsiness is slowly subsiding, allowing her to perceive more and more of her environment. She's not shocked to find somebody sitting next to her in bed. She's by now used to his presence there. Unconsciously she snuggles close to him. He seems to be pleased by that. His fingers start caressing her hair almost immediately. It's a gesture he's used to. He does that sometimes when they are lying in bed together, slowly drifting away. She's almost about to fall asleep again, his caress is rather comforting, but before she can everything returns to her. The last few days during which he has so relentlessly ignored her, him showing up at her doorstep complete drunk. She stiffens in his embrace. He sighs and stops stroking her hair.

"Didn't I tell you to go sleep on the couch?" she says ill-humoredly. She reaches for the switch of the lamp sitting on the bedside table. She finds it eventually. The light is warm and orange, but it blinds her eyes nevertheless. She crosses her arms over her chest and leans against the headboard, glaring at him disapprovingly. Right now she's general disapproving of everything he does. Nobody can hold that against her after the week she's been through.

"You're not there," he explains. He appears to be remarkably more sober now. As if he had had time to think it through and feel sorry about his bad entrance from earlier.

"Well, that was the whole point of you sleeping on the couch."

"I was lonely there and my leg hurt." He gives her his best puppy dog eyes.

"And I've been lonely the better part of last week."

"Yeah, about that," he embarrassedly rubs the back of his neck, "that was really stupid."

She says nothing. Her face looks impassive and devoid of emotions, but he knows for a fact inside she is anything but unfazed.

"Seems that I'm doing a lot of apologizing lately…," he laughs nervously.

She turns around to look at him. Her eyes are full off anger. She fires the next words at him as if they were torpedoes. "Maybe that's something you should think about then."

"What are you so angry about?" The words have hardly left his mouth and he already knows that that was a bad move.

"I could explain but you wouldn't understand."

"Try me."

"Alright," she takes a deep breath. This conversation seems to rather annoy her. But who is he to blame her? He's woken her twice in the middle of the night. You can't hardly expect anyone to be in a particular good mood after that. "So, you tell me that you love me and right the next day you decide you don't want to talk to me or even see me anymore. Do you have any idea how that made me feel?"

"No," he lowers his head ashamedly, "but I do have an inkling."

"You've made me feel worthless and insecure. Like I had gone insane and started imaging things. You told me you loved me. Why did you do that? You don't do something like that to people you love." The anger in her eyes has been replaced by something akin to despair. He hasn't realized how much he hurt her until now. The way she looks at him now is like a punch to the stomach and what is worse, he knows he deserves to feel bad for what he's done to her.

"You're right you don't do that to people you love." She visible stiffens when she hears him say those word, poised for the next blow. "I do that to people I love." He has trouble saying those words, but the fear of losing her forces him to say them.

"That doesn't even make any sense." She's clearly disappointed with his answer which makes him fear he has to elaborate further to really make her understand. He's not sure he wants to allow her glimpsing into the abyss that is his psyche that much, but right now he has no other option.

"It does make sense in a very illogical, twisted sense if you think about it." He's trying to stir her in the right direction so he won't have to say those words himself. "It's sort of a protection mechanism."

"You're trying to protect yourself from what? From being happy?"

He shakes his head. She doesn't get it. Not because she's not smart enough to do so, but because her mind is too clouded by emotion right now to allow for rational thought.

"No, from losing you."

Initially she frowns at his words, but then realization starts spreading on her face. "You want to protect yourself from losing me by pushing me away? Why do you think you would lose me?"

He won't answer that. He doesn't need to. There is something in his eyes. She's seen glimpses of it a lot in the last couple of years. It's sometimes there when he lets his guard down, which doesn't happen very often, so one has to be rather lucky to catch it. It's despair. Despair and misery. She knows that his outlook on life is not rosy, that he doesn't see humanity in a very positive light, but now an old suspicion is confirmed she's always harbored in the last couple of years. Yes, he despises humanity, but the person he despises most of all is himself. This discovery makes her unable to hate him, she has never been capable of doing so to begin with. She can't even hold a grudge against him anymore. All she wants to do right now is take him into her arms and make it better, although she knows she can't possibly fix him. She's not some kind of wand brandishing Fairy Godmother. He has to fix himself.

Maybe even saying those next couple of words is senseless, but she says them anyway and she will say them a thousand times more because she loves him. "You're not a bad person."

"I am," he insists. "I hurt you."

"I can take care of myself. I'm a big girl," she reassures him.

"But eventually there will be point where you can't take it anymore. You'll be fed up with me and then you'll tell me to go to hell," he's desperate to bring his point across as clearly as he can. She doesn't seem to have understood yet.

"Maybe there will be, but I don't see that happening anywhere in the near future. I'm in this relationship because I love you. You don't need to protect me. I have a pretty good idea of who you are and probably half of the hospital will want to institutionalize me for what I'm going to say next, but I love you just the way you are."

He smiles affectionately at her. "That sounds very good."

"It does, doesn't it?"

"Yeah, almost too good," he sighs. He would very much like to quit being the eternal sceptic but it's in his nature to ask the next question. "Then why do I have the sneaking suspicion you don't know what you're getting yourself into?"

She lets out an incredulous little laugh. "Please, House! Don't offend me. I'm way passed that phase in my life where I have some girlish fantasies about 'and they lived happily ever after.' Life doesn't work that way. There are usually more downs than ups. But it tends to suck less when there's someone there to hold your hand."

"Spoken like the true romantic you are."

"Spoken like the true pessimist you are."

He gives her a disbelieving look.

"Listen, I think that's the whole problem here. You're entirely too pessimistic for your own good. You give up before you've even tried. This is only the beginning. We're only at the beginning."

"The thing you don't seem to understand, Cameron," he hesitates and takes a deep breath before he continues to speak, "what you don't understand that I don't want to lose you. I tried going a week without you and see where it's gotten me? I turn up drunk at your doorstep."

She smiles. "Yeah, the highlight of the week."

"Don't make fun of me," he says softly.

"I'm not. And just for the record I don't want to lose you either." She snuggles closer to him. Her head is resting on his chest where she can hear his heartbeat. It's rather fast. His relatively calm exterior didn't let on how upset he really was by this whole conversation. She starts stroking his arms to calm him, partially to calm herself. Lying there in the semi dark of her bedroom is something comfortingly familiar to her.

"We're so cheesy, it's disgusting," he says amusedly after a while.

"If this here is too cheesy for you, you can always go back to sleeping on the couch," she suggests with a smile on her face. He looks down at her and takes in her disheveled hair, her closed eyes, the way her face is so relaxed and serenely beautiful. He doesn't want to be anywhere but here.

"Nah, I think I can cope with the cheesiness under the circumstance."

"Thought so."