NOTES: This story is inspired by a discussion I overheard while working at a hospital, about how people who grow up on a rigorous career path don't learn the same things about life that others might. This is a story about family and independence, and growing up when you thought you already had. I think you'll see what I mean by that as it unfolds.

Chapter One

"Close your eyes," Chase orders as the elevator comes to a stop on their floor.

Cameron gives him a look that says he just might be crazy, then turns and glances at her reflection in the mirrored wall of the elevator. Her hair has started coming down to hang in little tendrils around her face, makeup just slightly less fresh than at the beginning of the reception. But the white of her dress seems to almost glow, radiant even in the fluorescent lights.

"Are you trying to make me break my ankle?" she asks playfully, stepping off onto their floor and ignoring his instructions for the moment. "Because I'm pretty sure waiting for hours in some strange ER isn't how you've dreamt of spending your wedding night."

"Come on," Chase coaxes, catching up. "Trust me."

Cameron pauses and turns to look at him again, a mixture of nervousness and excitement fluttering up in her stomach. They've agreed that this weekend should be low-key and relaxing, just a nice few days in New York City. There will be time for a more extravagant honeymoon later, when they can both afford more than a few days off. But Chase clearly has something in mind now; there'd be no reason to close her eyes simply to enter a standard hotel suite.

"Fine," she says at last, giving in to the infectiousness of his enthusiasm and the warm glow of the day. "But you'd better catch me if I trip."

"Of course." Chase offers her his most disarming grin, and finally excitement wins out in the war over her doubts. She's gladly committed her life to him this day; it seems ridiculous in comparison to question his ability to guide her twenty feet down a hallway.

Closing her eyes at last, Cameron waits for the comforting warmth of his arm around her shoulders before taking a few tentative steps, letting him lead until she hears his cardkey scrape in the lock and the door slide open. Chase coaxes her the last small distance inside before stopping her with his hands on her waist.

"Okay," he murmurs, breath brushing the side of her neck. "You made it here in one piece. You can look now."

Cameron opens her eyes, blinking in the sudden dimness of the light, and gasps softly. Chase has booked the honeymoon suite, she realizes instantly, despite the fact that she's told him it wasn't necessary, that any nice hotel room would do. She's been hesitant in the planning of this entire day, not because she's doubted for a second that she wants to marry Chase, but in deference to the memories of her first hurried, somber wedding. She'd given up her dreams for the day then, and it's seemed almost disrespectful to her husband's death to plan something extravagant now.

But this—the surprise of this room is perfect, appealing to every bit of the naïve romantic side she's learned to hide so well over the past few years. The fact that Chase has arranged it without her asking keeps the guilt at bay as she looks around, nearly overwhelmed by affection for him. The walls are a rich dark red, lit by a series of small lamps meant to emulate candle light. Several real candles sit on the dresser, waiting to be lit, next to a tray with champagne and chocolates. Scattered all over the room are flowers she knows instantly Chase must have ordered specially. There are at least a dozen bouquets of roses, the same as the one he'd left on top of Cameron's locker three years ago. Tentatively she moves over to the bed, where the largest arrangement is nestled amongst the many pillows, and picks up the card that's attached to the stems.

Definitely not stolen, it proclaims in ornately looped handwriting.

When Cameron looks back at Chase, he's regarding her anxiously, his eyes wide and vulnerable in the low light. She sees this fear in him sometimes, like he still somehow expects to be rejected at any moment. It makes her heart ache for him, and at the same time further endears him to her, making her want to prove his doubts unfounded.

"It's beautiful," she breathes. "I love it. Thank you."

Chase relaxes visibly, exhaling a long breath and closing the distance between them to put his arms around her from behind. Turning in his embrace, Cameron kisses him, running her hands back through his hair.

"We got married," he says, almost as though he doesn't really believe it yet.

"Really?" Cameron teases, "because I thought we just spent the past six months planning a really, really big birthday party."

Chase laughs, momentarily stepping away from her to pour the champagne. Moving the flowers over to the nightstand, Cameron sits on the edge of the bed and starts pulling the pins from her hair. It comes down in long blonde ringlets, brushing her bare shoulders and sending goose bumps across her neck. Finishing, she looks up to find Chase watching her, two glasses in his hands.

"You look beautiful," he says after a moment, shaking himself and coming over to sit beside her.

Smiling, Cameron takes the champagne and clinks the edge of her glass against his, taking a few sips before setting it on the nightstand. She's already pleasantly warm and light-headed from the wine at the reception, appreciative of the symbolism of toasting now, but far more interested in Chase than in the drink itself.

"You're Dr. Chase now," he says, echoing House's speech with a goofy grin.

"Good thing we don't work in the same department anymore. Everyone would be so confused." Changing her name is a strange feeling, as though her life has leapt ahead by miles while the person she's become over the past six years is still waiting to catch up. Still, it's for the best, she tells herself. Chase hasn't complained once about being the second man in her life to have earned these milestones, but he still deserves something of his own, she thinks. Her name is something she didn't give away the first time, despite everything, unwilling to live the rest of her life under the mark of a man who would inevitably leave her too soon. Taking Chase's name is her unspoken promise to both of them that this will be forever in a way her previous marriage never could have been.

Setting his own glass down, Chase turns and kisses her again, carding his fingers through her hair. He is breathless and slightly flushed when he pulls back to look at her again, from the alcohol or the contact, she's not sure.

"So?" he asks, raising an eyebrow suggestively. His hair is disheveled, a few pieces falling into his eyes in the way that Cameron has grown to love, though she remembers wanting to cut it off with scissors when she first met him. His tie hangs loosely around his neck, shirt unbuttoned at the top, taunting her to open it further.

"Yeah?" Cameron breathes, already leaning closer to him.

"It's our wedding night." Chase smiles again, face slowly lighting up with a mischief that makes her want to reply by throwing him back against the bed on the spot, nevermind what else he has to say. But she forces herself to be patient, letting him finish his thought. "Isn't this the part where we're supposed to pretend we've been virtuous all along and need to consummate our marriage?"

Cameron snorts and rolls her eyes. "Or we could just have really fantastic sex."

Chase laughs softly, a warm breath tickling her neck and making her shiver as he leans in to kiss the spot just behind her ear. "Or that," he murmurs with his lips against her skin.

Cameron pushes his jacket from his shoulders, letting it crumple to the bed behind him. The cool silk of his tie slithers through her hands as she pulls it off as well, leaning up to kiss him again hungrily. Chase's hands brush her hair over one shoulder, long fingers fumbling with the zipper of her dress as he continues kissing her, teeth gently playing along her lower lip.

"Having trouble there?" Cameron mumbles against his lips when several minutes have passed and her dress still remains zipped.

"You're very good at distracting me." Chase pulls back for a second, holding her face in both hands. Sitting up straighter, he caresses her cheek, trailing his fingers over the side of her neck and between the swells of her shoulder blades to find her zipper again, moving with more certainty this time. Slowly and smoothly he works it down, his skin gliding warmly against hers as his hand travels. When he gets to the bottom of the zipper, Chase leans back to watch, and Cameron gets to her feet, slipping the straps from her shoulders and stepping out of the dress. He sucks in a quiet gasp as she momentarily turns away to drape the garment over the chair next to the bed, fully revealing the delicate white lace of the lingerie she's been wearing under it all day.

"Oh, god," he murmurs. Cameron takes a few steps toward the bed again, moving to stand between his knees. Chase puts his hands on her waist and urges her closer still, stroking his thumbs over her sides. She leans down to rest her forehead against his for a moment before straightening and working her way down the buttons of his crisp, white shirt. Chase pushes the bottom of her camisole up, gliding his palm along the flat plane of her stomach.

"I thought you'd like it," Cameron says softly, massaging the back of his neck. Chase tips his head up to look at her, his eyes wide and strikingly open and filled with need for her. Taking hold of his wrists, Cameron pulls his hands to her lips, kissing his fingertips, then releases them, pushing his shirt from his shoulders. Chase shrugs out of it, letting it pool on top of his jacket. Pushing him back against the bed, Cameron waits for him to settle and then climbs up, straddling him and ducking her head to kiss his neck. He moans softly as she grazes her teeth over his clavicle, sucking gently. His hands come up to play over her back, warm as he slips them under the lace again, stroking upward and then back down again, this time pushing under the waistband of her panties and over her bottom. Cameron shudders, and he responds by curling his thumbs forward to rub tantalizing circles over her hipbones.

Shifting against him, she works her lips down his chest, pausing to circle his left nipple with her tongue, working her fingers in tandem on the other side. Chase sucks in a sharp breath and groans, his hips jerking slightly under her. Crawling back up his body, Cameron kisses him again messily. He takes the hem of her top firmly in his hands, finally managing to get it over her head in a tangle of limbs and laughter and eagerness. Sitting up against the pillows, he pulls her onto his lap and leans forward, nuzzling the hollow between her breasts and sending goose bumps over her stomach.

Chase plants little kisses over her chest, at the same time trailing his hands downward and taking hold of her hips. Cameron rocks against him, watching his eyelids flutter half-closed in pleasure. His soft exhalation of breath sends a thrill through her and she runs her hands up his back. Chase slips his fingers just beneath the lacy waistband of her panties, brushing her abdomen and then lower, pushing the thin fabric down her hips. Cameron moans as he finds her, angling herself into his grasp. His brow furrows in concentration as he builds a slow rhythm, his movements sending waves of heat radiating through her core. Chase keeps his eyes locked with hers, enthralled by the changes he's creating in her.

"Talk to me," he murmurs huskily.

For a moment, she can't find her voice, or remember any words to say. Her head is swimming, lost in the sensation of him. "I want you," she manages at last. Three words she once never imagined herself saying aloud to him, much less the romanticisms she's prone to when he has her so utterly at the mercy of her own pleasure. "I want you just like this, every day for the rest of my life."

"Well, in that case," Chase breathes, his tone bordering on possessive, "you can have me." Sitting up further, he pulls his hand away, leaving her quivering on the edge of fulfillment, and desperately hungry for more. Fumbling with his belt buckle for a second, Cameron gets his pants undone, his soft groan of relief sending a fresh shudder through her.

Carefully, he takes hold of her shoulders, guiding her to lie back against the bed beside him, and then stripping off his pants and boxers before crawling atop her body. Stretching upward, he touches his forehead to hers in a reversal of her earlier gesture. Everything is turned tonight; in the beginning it was against her rules to let him be in control, but now, in this moment, it's the only place she wants him.

Taking hold of his hips, Cameron helps him into position, and Chase makes a soft, needy noise as he sinks into her. Cameron rolls her head back into the pillow as he starts to move, gliding her hands over his back. The feeling of his body is overwhelming, skin and warmth all around until she loses track of everything else and minutes seem to stretch into eternity. This whole day has been about ritual, about completing the journey that started with the bizarre vulnerability brought about by drugs and ended on the altar this afternoon, when she committed herself to this relationship in front of everyone who matters in her life.

In this instant, and this night, it is as though the world has expanded, and everything she's known so far is only a tiny speck in the unending universe of experience. She's spent years telling people she had the perfect marriage and the perfect man before; now she feels certain it's been a lie all along. But the shame which once would have been wrapped up in that thought is gone, precluded by hope as Chase brings his lips to hers once more and she climaxes with a soft cry into his mouth. He joins her a moment later, burying his face in her neck, and she can feel his body quivering with the force of his orgasm.

"I love you," Cameron murmurs breathlessly as he lifts himself off of her and sinks heavily into the mattress by her side. She curls into him, resting her head on his chest and listening to the pounding of his heart.

"Yeah?" Chase asks softly, pressing a kiss to her forehead.

"Definitely." Reaching across the nightstand and switching off the light, Cameron watches her ring pick up glints from cars passing on the dark street below.

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