WARNINGS: Spoilers for Season Five through The Itch; sex.

NOTE: This story was originally written to be rated NC17. The unedited version can be found linked in my profile.

White Wine and Lacy Underwear

It's nearly midnight by the time the case is wrapped up, and dinner has been reduced to empty Chinese takeout containers on Cameron's living room table. The candles she lit earlier in anxious anticipation have burned down, fingers of wax reaching up around the barely-glowing wicks like grasping hands of loneliness. They sit in silence for a long while after the food is gone, caught in the quiet limbo of exhaustion and contentment that's become the nightly accompaniment of a completed day's work. She's always told people that she finds her job satisfying, but there is no way to communicate in words this feeling of satisfaction that comes from one more last-minute miracle, one more life that would no longer exist if it weren't for her intervention.

Shaking herself a little, Cameron leans forward and blows out the dying candles, before they actually have a chance to drown. This night is about living; she hasn't given much thought to symbolism in years, but suddenly it's as though that part of her has come back to life as well.

Chase clears his throat and sits a little straighter, glancing sideways at her as he has all throughout dinner. Sometimes she has the sneaking suspicion that he can see into her mind, can read her weakness in the tension of her neck and the slight twitch of her eyelashes when she tries to blink them away. But then perhaps that hunch is simply wishful thinking, because if it were true then he would know that his own fears are unfounded.

"So," Chase starts, fingers playing with the cardboard edge of the closest container, "are we gonna—" He breaks off and shrugs, eyes carefully avoiding the duffel bag that's been sitting on the edge of the table all evening, like the proverbial elephant in the room.

It's time now, Cameron knows, to go through with this. It's a small step, but monumental, and suddenly she finds herself wishing that it could just be done already, and on to the celebration.

"Yeah," she says after a moment, getting up and taking the empty food containers to the trash. She can feel Chase's eyes on her back as she finishes cleaning up, and she's halfway to the bedroom with her still-full wine glass before realizing that he isn't following her. "Coming?" she calls over her shoulder, pausing in the doorway. "You know, your bag can't stay there. I need my table."

Chase gets to his feet in a hurry, then looks lost for a moment, like it actually has been so long since they've stayed here that he's forgotten his bearings. He looks at her questioningly, then scoops up the duffel and follows, watching her expectantly.

"That one," Cameron says softly, pointing to the middle dresser drawer.

Chase stares at it for a long moment, a slow smile spreading over his face like before, as though he's hearing this again for the first time. Cameron climbs onto her bed as he crosses the room, slowly opening the drawer like it's a package on Christmas morning.

Cameron half holds her breath as he kneels, letting the bag swing from his shoulder to the floor, then slowly looks into the drawer, as if he's maybe expecting that it won't actually be empty and this is all just some cruel joke. Chase glances over his shoulder again, still smiling, and she shakes herself enough to return it this time, satisfied that he isn't going to reject her or her offering.

"So?" Cameron asks, kicking off her shoes and shifting a little further forward on the edge of the bed to get a better view. "Are you going to unpack? You could probably fit your whole bag in there, but that would be cheating."

Chase turns to look at her again, eyes shining in the low light as he finally meets hers, and suddenly it's like the invisible wall of expectation and anticipation that's sprung up between them tonight has come tumbling down.

"No way," he says lightly, unzipping the duffel. "I need my bag."

His grin turns wicked as he peers into the bag, and Cameron finds herself leaning further forward to see what he's looking at. She's barely managed to get a glimpse of the object in question when he sends it flying through the air toward her. She catches it instinctively, managing not to slosh any wine over the side of her glass in the process. It takes her a moment to realize that Chase's projectile is a pair of her underwear, and one that's been missing for several weeks. She pauses for a moment before tossing them back, expecting him to catch them, and maybe put them in her underwear drawer. Instead he ducks slightly, letting the underwear land in the drawer he's currently filling before covering them with a pile of his shirts, apparently content to let them stay indefinitely lost among his things.

"Planning on keeping those?" Cameron asks, forcing herself not to cringe as he shoves things haphazardly into the drawer. She's perpetually surprised by how well Chase's tendency toward chaos complements the order of her life. Maybe it won't be such a bad thing to have one drawer in her dresser where things aren't neatly folded and categorized.

"Maybe," Chase says as he transfers the last pair of pants from bag to drawer and gets to his feet. "I like them. I like them better on you, though."

"Yeah?" Cameron asks, leaning further forward and snaking her arms around his waist as he saunters up to the edge of the bed. "I could model them for you."

Chase hooks his fingers in her belt loops and takes the wine glass out of her hand, balancing it deftly on top of the chest at the foot of her bed. "Think you're already modeling too many clothes," he murmurs against her ear.

Chase runs his hands over her back as he leans in to kiss her, and Cameron feels a fresh wave of the morning's guilt come swimming back up in the pit of her stomach. He always touches her like he may never have the chance again. She's found it endearing all along, but in the new light of his confessions, it seems only heartbreaking.

"I'm sorry," she says softly, leaning up to press her forehead into the curve of his neck. "I never meant for you to feel like I didn't--" But the rest of the words still won't come, choked back by fear and shame.

"It's okay," he says quickly, before she can even try to force out the rest of the words. "I should have told you."

"No," Cameron insists, grateful for his forgiveness, but frustrated with her inability still to express the extent of her feelings. "I should have noticed." She wants to tell him that she loves him, wants him in her life all the time. But if she speaks those words aloud, then they'll be real, be tangible, and real things can break.

"Okay," Chase says warmly, his lips brushing the edge of her earlobe. "We've both been terribly in the wrong. Will you forgive yourself now?"

Cameron looks at him for a very long moment before shaking her head. It's almost worse having him so ready to forgive everything; it seems a little like it might be easier to pay penance than to simply let him accept two years of hurt.

"Well, in that case…" Chase slips a hand beneath the hem of her shirt before she's had a chance to break out of her thoughts, his fingers tickling along her side shattering her reverie and sending her sprawling reflexively back across the bed.

"Hey!" Cameron yelps as Chase pounces again, hands relentless on either side of her stomach now, leaving her helplessly laughing despite everything.

"What?" he asks innocently, pulling back just a little to look at her face and grinning once again. "You seemed to want me to make you pay, so…."

"Not what I had in mind!" Cameron tries to squirm away as his onslaught begins again, finally grabbing one of the pillows from the head of the bed and clobbering him with it until he rolls away in escape, now laughing right along with her.

Catching her breath, Cameron turns onto her side and sits up on one elbow, looking down at him as she blinks back tears of mirth. Chase raises an eyebrow at her as he returns her gaze, and then suddenly he's moving again, rolling them over and nudging her back against the bed so that he's on top, hands on either side of her shoulders. Cameron sucks in a surprised breath as he leans down to kiss her, the previous moment's mischief shifting into a different intensity.

"What?" Chase asks, kissing the tip of her nose.

"I'm just—I really am sorry," Cameron insists, the last niggling doubts still sitting in the pit of her stomach. "I didn't—"

But Chase kisses her before she has a chance to finish the sentence, leaving her breathless and scrambling for words as he pulls away.

"I want—" she tries, but Chase stops her again, this time with a finger to her lips and the quirk of an eyebrow.

"Allison," he says warmly, waiting for her silent acknowledgment before continuing. "If you really want to make it up to me, would you please shut up and kiss me? I haven't seen you all week."

"That's a gross exaggeration," Cameron teases when he pulls his finger away. "You've seen me every day."

"At work. That doesn't count. Or at least, it doesn't count anymore."

"Fine." Cameron weaves her fingers into his hair, pulling his head down to kiss him deeply. Chase makes a little noise in the back of his throat, and shifts on top of her, trailing kisses down the side of her neck. For a moment she lets him, rolling her head back into the pillow to give him better access. "How exactly should I make this up to you?"

Chase doesn't look up, just keeps moving his lips downward, sucking lightly on the skin over her collarbone and making her shiver. The neck of her shirt dips low, and he kisses along the edge of it, down until his chin brushes the tops of her breasts, and then back up to the top of her shoulder.

"You could start by taking this off," he murmurs huskily.

"Okay." Sitting up, she pulls the shirt over her head and lets it fall to the floor beside the bed before looking back at him. "Now what?"

"This too." Chase tugs at her bra, slipping a finger beneath the lace and stroking just enough to send a jolt of anticipation through her.

"No way," Cameron teases, arching her back a little into his hand. "That's your job."

"Oh?" Chase grins and slides his hands along her sides and up her back, deftly opening the clasp and slipping the bra off. Cameron gasps softly as his tongue strokes hungrily across her skin, running her hands up his back and trying to get them under the hem of his shirt, but he keeps moving just a little too much. After only a brief moment he moves on, leaving her aching for more. Chase has always known just how to tease, to find in her the things she's tried for so long to hide from, to rationalize away.

"Wait," Cameron breathes when he reaches the waistband of her jeans, fingers playing at the button. Chase goes still and looks up, surprised. "This is—I want this to be about you."

"Okay." Chase nods, then turns his attention back to her jeans, undoing the button and zipper, then working them carefully down her legs. He curls his hands around her hips, and brushes his lips low across her abdomen, raising a myriad of goose bumps on her skin.

"Chase," Cameron tries again, the guilt starting to rise in her chest anew. "I'm serious. Tonight is about what you want."

Dragging her pants down a little further, Chase stops just long enough to glance up at her through his eyelashes. "This is what I want. Right now. Would you please help me get these off?" He tugs at her jeans again, waiting until she lifts her legs so that he can slip them off all the way, making her shiver in the sudden coolness of the air.

She opens her mouth one more time to protest, but then his hands are guiding her legs to the sides, lips tracing her inner thigh, and all she can think about is his mouth. Chase runs his tongue along the crease where her leg meets her hip. Cameron sucks in a breath, biting her lower lip as he strokes a fingertip between her legs. He's right, she knows, it's been a long week and she hasn't had a spare moment to take care of herself, much less see him for anything other than medical consultation.

"Like that?" Chase asks, glancing up at her, and smiling when she jerks her hips reflexively. He repeats the motion before she has a chance to answer and Cameron makes a little noise of frustration in the back of her throat, suddenly torn between wanting to please him and begging for more.

"It's all right," she manages finally, breathing hard. This is their usual game, the push and pull and thrill of dragging each other to the edge and back.

"Really?" Chase does it a third time before pulling away. "Just okay? Well, in that case I won't waste your time."

Cameron groans impatiently as he pretends to stop, sitting up just enough to grab a handful of his hair, tugging his head back down to where she wants it. Chase can't stop the feral growl that escapes from deep within as he settles back into place, grazing his teeth across her hip before flicking out with his tongue.

"Don't stop," Cameron orders breathily, giving up on taking control from him. If this is what he wants, then she's more than willing to go along with it; she'll have plenty of time to repay him later.

Chase raises his head one last time to look her in the eye, the barest hint of a gloat behind his smile indicating that he's won this round. Then he ducks his head again, and all she can think about is the heat of his mouth, sending a jolt through her entire body, making her even more desperate for the next touch. Cameron rolls her head back on the pillow and Chase grabs her hips when she can't keep them still any longer, holding her against the bed. When she's so close that she can practically feel her orgasm coming in every brush of his skin against hers, Chase goes maddeningly still, dragging a sound of desperate frustration from her throat.

He looks up at her, eyes dancing in the low light of her bedroom. He smiles, slowly and widely, and for a split second she can see a hint of possessiveness before he's moving again. She can feel the barest hint of his nails pressing into her hip as his tongue strokes furiously until all coherent thoughts are overpowered by the shockwaves of orgasm. It feels as though every sensation has been transformed instantly to pleasure, sending her sinking into the mattress and momentarily unsure that she'll ever be able to move again.

Cameron can't say whether it's seconds or minutes before she catches her breath and finds strength in her limbs again, but when she manages to sit up, Chase is there, lounging on his side watching her, still fully dressed.

Cameron raises an eyebrow. "My turn?"

Chase shifts a little on the bed, stretching out on his back with his arms above his head, smiling lazily at her. "Still feel guilty?"

"Terribly, horribly guilty," Cameron murmurs, sitting up and sending an appraising glance over his body. His arousal is already obvious, though he's doing his best to look completely casual and relaxed. Her answer is a response to his challenge, to the smug grin and the look of amusement in his eyes, but it's also in part the truth. This is her turn, her chance—and perhaps the last—to make known in actions what she still can't say in words.

"Yeah?" Chase shifts a little, clasping his hands behind his head as if in invitation of the fact that his entire body is ready and waiting for her. "Well then, what shall we do about that?"

Cameron turns onto her side, regarding him as he did her a moment before. Never taking her eyes from his, she slips her hand beneath the hem of his shirt, ghosting her fingertips across the skin of his stomach as she tugs at the thick fabric suggestively. "You could start by taking this off."

"You'll feel less guilty—" Chase pauses to pull the garment over his head, letting it fall on top of the pile of Cameron's shoes next to the bed, "if I take my shirt off?"

"Yes," Cameron purrs, pushing him back against the bed as she straddles his hips. He makes a little noise of protest that she's left his jeans in place, but doesn't actually say anything. Cameron smiles sweetly; this is her game now, and they both know it.

Chase swallows visibly before speaking again, struggling to keep his voice even as she moves her lips and tongue slowly down the smooth skin of his neck. "How does taking my shirt off help?"

"Because," Cameron lifts her head enough to be able to look into his eyes again, "it means that I can do this." Keeping her gaze locked with his, she brings one hand up and lightly brushes the pad of her thumb across his nipple. His entire body jerks under her at even the slightest touch, his involuntary movements increasing in tandem with her deliberate ones until he's practically rocking into the mattress, that damned grin replaced with a look of anticipation.

It takes Chase a full moment to speak when she stops, his breathing noticeably faster. "But if that helps…" He swallows again, taking one hand from behind his head and fumbling ineffectually with the button on his jeans, "Wouldn't taking these off help even more?"

Ordinarily she would drag this out, would tease him to his absolute limit. And prior to this night, she would have known that he loved every second of it. But now the doubt is there again, under her skin like some ubiquitous parasite, stealing her confidence and making her wonder about everything she's known this entire time.

"That—might help, yeah," she manages, hiding the moment's hesitation by looking down to undo his button and zipper, moving momentarily to slide pants and boxers down his legs. Chase moans softly as she crawls back up his body to kiss him, nipping at his lower lip until his hands tangle in her hair, urging her to move lower.

Moving downward again, she kisses a line down his stomach until she's back where she started. Stretching out beside him, Cameron ghosts her lips up his inner thigh to the crease where it meets his hip, then curls her tongue around his hipbone.

"Fuck," Chase whispers roughly, sitting up until he can hold the side of her face, eyes alight with a particular intensity she's not sure she's ever seen before. "I love you, you know that?"

For a moment it's like he's taken her breath away again, left her caught between elation and fear. And it's not like he's never said it before, but this time is different. He's always been casual about it before, playful, so the line between quip and confession stayed blurred. But there is no question now; this deserves a response, and it's one she's not yet ready to give.

"Yeah," she answers finally, then pulls away to trail her lips across his abdomen so she doesn't have to see his eyes.

Chase gives a strangled moan as she wraps her hand around him. He responds by flopping heavily back against the pillows, surrendering completely to her touch. Shifting to grasp hold of his hips, Cameron takes him into her mouth, relishing the sounds he makes.

She lets her eyes slip half closed as she continues, losing herself in the feel and sound of him. She is safe in this moment; he's here with her and right this second she is everything he wants or needs. She can hear in the sound of his quickened breathing that right now he's not thinking about closet space or keys or confessions gone unanswered. This is what she can be for him, can do for him, and she's never really considered before that it might not be enough.

"Stop," Chase manages finally, sitting up shakily and brushing a hand against her cheek, shattering her thoughts, and Cameron finds herself swallowing a sharp pang of disappointment as she's brought back to reality.

She finds herself barely able to meet his eyes when she looks up again, aching for him in a way that she hasn't allowed herself to feel in a very long time. It's suddenly as though the past year and a half hasn't happened, as though he hasn't just worshipped her and told her he loves her. Finally the last bit of her armor is stripped away, leaving her feeling naked in front of him in a way that she never has before, desperate for confirmation that it's not too late.

"Lie down," Chase says softly, brushing his fingers down the side of her neck and shoulder, giving her the uncanny feeling that he can tell what she's thinking.

Cameron looks at him one more time before stretching out on her side, moaning softly when he positions himself behind her. Chase kisses the nape of her neck once before gently pushing her leg forward and sliding into her with a soft, desperate noise. Cameron turns over her shoulder, craning her neck to find his lips as he starts to move.

"It's okay," Chase whispers against her ear, his hand traveling down her front. Cameron bites her lip as he begins stroking rhythmically.

In this moment it seems more intense than anything she's ever felt before, and she finds herself surprised by the wetness of tears on her cheeks. Chase is impossibly everywhere at once, fingers and lips caressing together until she's nearly overwhelmed by the feel of him, his body and his skin and his voice stripping away at the thickness of her scars until there's nothing left but heat.

"It's okay," he repeats, his movements quickening as they both near the edge, together this time. And it is and it isn't, the epiphany both fantastic and terrible as she finally sees clearly in this moment of ragged breath and sudden tears that as certainly as she wants every bit of this relationship, it could tear her apart in an instant.

Chase slides his arm beneath her shoulders, cradling her tightly against his chest and pressing his face into the hollow of her neck as his breathing reaches the fever pitch she knows means he's close.

"It's okay," he murmurs a final time, and just before losing all coherent thought in orgasm, Cameron has the brief realization that he's crying, too.

Time goes fluid again, vanishing into shuddering breaths, and the soothing caress of Chase's hand against her side before she's aware enough to find her muscles, to pull away for the brief second it takes to turn and face him. His eyes are as raw and vulnerable as she feels, but there is no guilt in seeing him like this now. It fits somehow, as well as his body interweaves with hers.

"Thank you," Chase mouths, then kisses her very gently.

"I—" Cameron swallows, willing herself to find the words. 'Love' still won't quite come, lost in the remaining fear somewhere between her heart and her lips. For tonight, catastrophe has been evaded, in beginning trust and baby steps. She understands now that she will face this precipice again, perhaps soon and perhaps painfully. But in this moment, it is enough.

She takes a long breath and smiles. "I'm really glad you're here."