A/N: Set after "Broken," at Halloween, after the end of Cameron's marriage. You don't have to have seen the last couple seasons for this story to work for you. Romance/smut.
Glowing pumpkins carved into demons and ghouls decorated every stoop but his, she noticed, as she gripped her paper sack shaped like Casper-the-Ghost and closed her blood-red mouth around the plastic fangs.
She'd be late for the hospital costume party if she stopped for him -- if he chose to invite her into his crypt. In a leather strapless mini-dress, silvery tresses coiffed, and face ashen with a dusting of powder, he would take one long look through the slit of the door before slamming it and dismissing her.
So be it, she thought as she walked across the street, one long leg in front of the other. One night per year, she had the chance to cross over from idealistic, principled doctor living a dutiful life to Queen of the Undead, on the wrong side of the grave, hungry in every sense, and not remotely sated.
The thought of being around him in vampire guise was deliciously dangerous.
The townhouse was dark as she came upon it. A boy dressed as a cowboy and a girl dressed as a fairy passed by, their plastic pumpkin candy containers swinging like lanterns. Leaves scraped the sidewalk and spiraled from a tree, lit like ghosts by the streetlamp. Her tongue slid over the fangs as her fist hit the hard wood of his door. Feedback from an amp and the squeal of a guitar were followed by an impromptu rendition of the theme song from Scooby Doo. She knocked again, keeping time with the melody, and eventually the door swung open.
House stood in an old pair of jeans and a white T-shirt, an electric guitar, lightning emblazoned on its veneer, slung around his torso. He was the dish on the menu she always had to order. I'll take this, thank you. Flicking his tongue across his lower lip, he surveyed her as if she was a comatose patient who'd had the gall to wake up during a pivotal scene on his soap.
She met his eyes, baring her sharpened teeth with exaggeration. "Trick or treat."
He stepped back, making a cross with his index fingers and hissing at her. She advanced, toes over the threshold, and reached out to trace a cross of her own over his chest. "A cross won't do much to get rid of me, House. Atheist, remember?" She said softly.
He dropped his hands and shrugged, resting them on the body of the guitar. "And me without my garlic chain and silver bullets."
"You know the only candy I have on offer comes in pharmaceutical form," he added.
"Your carotid artery looks appetizing," she responded, moving closer and boldly tracing a fingertip over the rhythmically pulsing point on his throat. It was what the undead would do if hungry, thirsty, horny. "I can see your heartbeat."
He rolled his eyes, ignoring her antics, and placed two fingers beneath her jaw until she knew he could tell if she'd reached her target heart rate.
"Best I can do without a blood test, but you seem clean." At her puzzled glance, he added, "No meth."
"You think I can't have fun without drugs?"
"You really want to know what I think?"
Flashing her fangs at him, she extended hot red lacquered fingernails.
"That's what I thought," he said, nodding his head toward the darkened interior of his home as she stepped inside and kicked off her boots. He mounted the guitar on a rack, pausing to turn up a light so the dim room took shape.
She followed him into the kitchen where he produced a bottle of red and a couple of wine glasses, his bare forearm brushing against her breast as he negotiated drinks.
"But back to the matter at hand. Trick," he bit off the word with a snap, "or treat?" He burned her body with his eyes, following the silhouette of the skintight dress. She opened her mouth to speak but he stopped her with a look.
She returned his stare until he blinked.
"How about 'trick'? As in 'turn a trick.' 'Cause if you want to see something pulse, we can play show and tell," he said, unruffled.
His fingers moved to the top button of his jeans and then stopped, eyes on hers, amusement and something more at play.
Her mask slipped at his crude action and sadness crept up under the carefully applied vampire makeup. You're not that guy, she thought. The guy who slung rude remarks at colleagues, yelled at patients, and whose idea of conversation was a burst of verbal acrobatics. You're the guy behind that guy.
As if in response to her expression, a vulnerability superseded his leer, softening his face into artlessness. Cross over, she silently implored. Fold up the man-of-constant-sorrow persona and stick it deep in your wardrobe for tomorrow.
Leaning against the counter, he dropped the act, his hands moving down his body to massage his leg. He lowered his chin, looking down at his own bare feet. It was as if someone sliced open her chest, reached in, and squeezed her heart: She hurt for him.
Oh, House, she thought. You can't keep this up. Something's going to give.
"Not interested in tricks," she said.
Stepping closer, she rested her hands on his shoulders and held his eyes as she lightly, swiftly kissed him.
"Rather have a simple treat," she said, stepping back and exploring his face for a reaction.
Silently, he looked down at her with the hint of a smile tugging his lips. Warmth crept into the cool blue of his eyes.
"Never took much to make you happy."
It was his turn to take a tentative step closer to Cameron.
"Don't freak out on me."
With those words of warning, he drew her to him and put his arms around her, hands moving up her spine. Beneath the thin cotton of his shirt, his body was warm, with a give to it that contradicted the musculature. She relaxed in his embrace, leaning into him.
He pulled away.
"Aren't you going to thank me?"
She grinned. "Maybe later."
"Not going to shrink my head with your Freudian theories?"
With a wider smile, she shook her head.
"Open your mouth," he said. When she complied, he tugged the plastic set of fangs out and threw them in the sink. A smudge of dark red lipstick stained his fingers and white makeup came off on his hand. A bubble of blood appeared on the tip of his finger where the deceptively sharp fangs had penetrated his skin.
They stood looking at each other. With his other hand he circled his wrist protectively as if it was a bird with a broken wing. She laid a hand over his, estimating how deeply he'd been pricked.
"Go ahead, sucker," he said, staring as the blood-bubble grew and spilled over. "Drink from me. Must be feeding time for your kind."
His words made her pulse race. She shot a quick glance in his direction and touched his blood so she could see the red life that filled him bright against her own fair skin. Their eyes met as she turned on the spigot and placed his hand under cold water until the bleeding stopped.
"I'm thirsty," she admitted, refocusing on the pulsing point on his neck. House, his arms tied to a bed: the image formed and expanded until she was crawling up his body, her lips nuzzling the artery carrying his lifeblood, her tongue lapping at that spot to her content.
With a deft twist of his wrist and an elegant flourish, he uncorked the wine and poured two glasses, handing her one. He hobbled over to the piano, grasping the head of his cane and rubbing at the smooth worn wood with his fingertips before slinging it to rest on top of the instrument.
He took a seat on the piano bench and opened the piano. "Gonna sit?" He swept a sheaf of music and a diagnostics journal to the floor and patted the shiny black patch of bench beside him.
"Gonna play?" Knees pinched together, she perched carefully, aware of the length of her hem and blood throbbing between her legs in perfect time with each beat of her heart. Goosebumps marred the smooth cool skin of her limbs as the warmth of his thigh brushed against her flesh.
He stared down at the ivories and spoke to the piano. "If you were a vampire," he mused, "what would you sound like?"
"Minor chords are too obvious. Licking, biting," he looked at Cameron, "and sucking creamy necks and thighs sounds like good times."
He spread his legs wider, adjusting his feet on the pedals. His jeans felt soft against her thigh.
At first, a flurry of scale-driven ditties flirted with darkness and desire under his ministrations at the keyboard. She tasted the wine, deep and earthy and red as it rolled over her tongue. A bright hank of hair loosed itself and framed her face as she watched him. His eyes were closed, brows lifted as he played.
"Thing about vampires," he said without sentiment as a note lingered and died. "They never know what they've lost until it's too late."
The span of both his hands touched down on the keys producing a chord in which beauty and hurt collided, desire and pain joined hands.
In the notes and chords that followed, it became clear. In the melodies and arrangements, improvised and played for her, House offered a close-up of the guy who lived inside. Along with the hug, it was his treat to her. No matter that she had come in a disguise.
Abruptly, the music stopped and he stood, looking down at her Halloween get-up.
"Vamp couture. You wear it well," he observed as she got to her feet, pushing the piano bench back in the process. "But you didn't have to do this," he touched her hip with his fingertips, caressing the leather of the dress, then wiped red lipstick from her mouth with a thumb, "to come here."
Trapped between the piano and the piano bench, crowded close to House, who drank calmly from his wine glass, she flushed.
"Curt Cobain had it right when he said, 'come as you are.'"
"It's Halloween. It's supposed to be fun," she expressed, though the dress squeezed her ribs and she felt corseted and short of breath.
"Don't you ever want to slip out of your skin? Trade in the life you have for something different, just for a little while?"
"Halloween is for weenies," he said, avoiding the question.
From the street outside, choruses of children singing the holiday's refrain of "trick or treat" bled through the door.
Staring past her, his gaze fixed on a painting, he cleared his throat and answered:
"Every day of my life."
She remembered the lost look on his face, the absent smile in his high school yearbook photograph.
There was a time she might have pressed him for more, probed and picked at the rare revelation, but she left it where he'd left it: an open page between them.
"Reality TV has proven that being a freak show is the American way," he added after a moment. He scrubbed a palm across the shadow of his beard. "You just learn to live with it."
At that moment his cane crashed from its perch atop the piano to the floor, and she swung toward the sound, accidentally launching wine from her glass. Burgundy splashed across his breast and bled into the white cotton of his T-shirt as she gasped.
They both looked at the stain as it spread. The neat point of his nipple stood out against the wet material and she badly wanted what happened next.
"There are other ways to get me to do this," he said, peeling the shirt up and over his head in a fluid motion. A drop of wine trickled down his naked chest skimming his taut stomach and disappearing beneath the waistband of his jeans.
Bending down to grab his cane with a wince, he limped off in the direction of his bedroom as she studied the spot where his spine dipped down toward the hard curve of his ass. She let out her breath with a hiss, aware of the twinge of desire knotting down low in her belly.
Gathering the wine glasses, she slipped into the kitchen and filled one for him before padding toward the dim bedroom.
House stood in the soft glow of a small bedside lamp buttoning a blue shirt over his naked chest. The room was all dark wood and heavy, masculine furnishings. Made for a man.
"Sorry," she managed, though her throat constricted at the sight of him.
She worried her bottom lip, hesitating just inside the doorway. Tossing the cane on the coverlet, he limped over to her and took the glass from her hand.
"The party. Want to go?" House took a sip of the wine and swallowed, avoiding her eyes. She stared at his Adam's apple and the five o'clock shadow darkening his throat. The collar of his blue shirt made her fingers itch. He hadn't bothered to fasten the top three buttons and on one side, the collar was askew.
"I'd rather stay here, with you," she said lowering her voice to a soft pitch appropriate for the bedroom.
She reached out and turned the collar right-side up, her fingertips grazing the hollow of his clavicle and brushing against the Oxford cloth. If the next button was loosed, she could slip her hand inside and stroke his skin.
He looked down at her hands fussing with his shirt and swallowed again. "Might be fun," he continued. "My sources tell me that last year, Wilson went as Freud, Cuddy as the Mata Hari, and Chase wore a dog collar and a leash." Creases formed around his mouth.
"Wouldn't know," she confessed, buttoning up one of his buttons because the thought of the alternative made it hard for her to stand.
He grabbed her hands, cupping them between his as if they were butterflies. Where were you?"
"At home, at first. I put on my costume. Got ready to go. Knew you wouldn't be there. For a while, I waited, hoping you'd just ... show up. Later I drove over. Got out. Made it as far as your stoop, and then chickened out."
Tugging her up against his chest, he leaned down to explore her lips. One hand snuck up to touch the side of her face. So close to him, she felt the rise and fall of each breath. When his tongue skidded across her lower lip, it felt like a flame.
"I want this," he said close to her ear as if the kiss hadn't said the words for him. His hands landed on her bare shoulders, forcing her to look up and into the blue fire of his eyes.
Crumpled on the floor was his wine-stained T-shirt and she broke away from him and picked it up. "Needs to soak," she began.
The garment slipped from her hand as he grasped her wrist, pulling her so close their bodies touched. "We need to talk, about this."
Warm breath teased her ear and his teeth grazed her lobe. Gentler than she could have imagined, his tongue traced the shape of her ear with excruciating patience as her legs relaxed and parted and she grabbed at a handful of his shirt for balance.
"This?" she echoed while unbuttoning his shirt and tracing his collar bone, fingertips skimming firm muscle, bare skin.
He shrugged out of the shirt, breaking contact, and they stood, breath audible in the quiet of the room.
"Want to know what took you so long," he said as she shivered.
"Never thought I could push you away." He toyed with the hairpins and freed her hair, tugging at a lock of it and letting it slip through his fingers. He ran a hand through his own hair, agitated.
"Everyone else, maybe, but you? I always thought you'd come for me. Thought you'd see through me. Thought you'd know that I never mean what I say."
With a soft fingertip, she circled his nipple precisely, watching his poker face. Down over his ribs and softly, softly across his belly, she touched him, pausing at the bulk of his cock straining his jeans.
"So if it weren't for me, we'd have been together years ago," she whispered in his ear as she discovered the shape of his erection. "I don't buy it."
"Didn't think you would. Doesn't make it less true."
He restricted her hand when she tried for his button-fly, turning his attention to her clothing instead.
The leather hugged her body, but he yanked the stubborn material, releasing her small upturned breasts with nipples standing on end, ready for him. He backed her up to the edge of the bed and pushed her down on the mattress, following as his body hovered over hers. The first touch was the pad of his thumb barely brushing the hard point of her nipple. He looked down at her emphatically, eyes knowing.
She saw raw need and bare-bones want. He lowered his head and tasted her breast, just one swipe as a sample. He came back for more, controlling the pressure as his tongue circled and deepened and he pulled her tip into his mouth.
Her hands gripped the hem of the dress and shimmied out of it, laying herself bare.
Panties didn't fit under the costume. Vamps didn't wear panties.
He probed at her nipple with his tongue, nipped and sucked it with a languor that made her want to jam his eye out one moment and climb onto his cock and ride him the next.
"We should talk about this," he repeated as she tugged his head from her breast to read his craggy, scruff-shadowed face.
Her lips quieted his with a soft, exploring kiss -- the kind where mouths touch, nibble, and tease before the kissers pull back from one another to catch their breath, haggard from desire.
Rolling to his side on the bed, he stared at her long, lean legs, his hand journeying from the gentle curves of her waist and hip and grazing tender inner thighs with light, sure strokes that led closer to her center -- closer to the spot her panties would cover if only she had worn them.
The pressure of his hands skimming her flesh deepened as his fingers neared her engorged clit and its sensitive, surrounding area. At the first touch -- a single finger deliberately placed upon her bud -- she tensed up as the pain of wanting troubled her.
He elbowed her knees apart, staring down at her nakedness, the expanse of silky skin and the loveliness between her thighs without a trace of a second thought. One hand went to the button-fly of his pants and he freed his aching hard-on while she watched, mouth parted and breath coming in short, needy spurts.
The boxer-briefs couldn't contain him. The head of his cock strained from the waistband and when he tossed the briefs aside, she sighed.
"I'm waiting," he said when she continued to ignore his need for talk. To prove it, his finger remained still, pressed against her clit, the lightest promise of more seeping from its warmth. She felt herself open up and spread her legs wider for him. "You shouldn't have. Waited. For me, for this."
Breathless, she touched his hand, grasping his fingers and moving them over her wanton flesh. Arching her back, she rubbed herself against him, shameless with desire.
"I waited for you. I waited for you to be ready, for me," she whispered. "Are you? Ready for me?"
Evidently, the answer was affirmative. His own breath quickened as he freed his hand from hers and roamed at will over her swollen sex. She felt his other hand slip up her thigh over the curve of her hip and palm her belly possessively.
With his middle finger, he pushed inside her, stroking her sensitive spot until she squirmed beneath his movements. When he pulled out, his finger was wet. Lightly, he rubbed lazy circles around her clit with his knuckles until she said please, though manners had never mattered when it came to him.
Thumbing the head of his prick, stroking up and down his shaft -- first quickly, then slowly, knowingly -- she learned its shape, its heft. Like the rest of his body, it was beautiful, big.
Rolling on top of her so she could feel the weight of his nakedness for the first time, he took his cock and pushed against her, a question. She spread her legs, opening up to take him, and he inched inside of her so deeply she felt that no one had ever gone so far before. "Hurt?" He grunted. She shook her head no, wanting every inch of him to fill her.
He fucked her, loved her, thrust himself inside her in a slowly building rhythm, his hands pinning one of her arms behind her head. Her body rose to meet his movements and she leaned up and kissed him, sucking the tip of his tongue into her mouth. They couldn't stop kissing as she caressed his face with her free hand, the reality of him moving in and out of her.
He came first with a curse and a deep kiss, fingers tangled in her hair. She felt his release inside her, but he kept thrusting, still hard, as the heat spread between her legs and over the edge into orgasm.
Aftershocks rocked her as they lay together, still entwined. He licked a drop of sweat from her brow. Her hand crept down to touch the place where he still fit inside her.
Reluctantly, he drew his length from her and took her in his arms. Pressed against him, her sex still throbbing, she touched his face and whispered the words that had always meant something to her. "Thank you."
She hoped they meant something to him.