This is a back up story for the Secret Santa ficathon on LJ, written for Pyewacket75, because under my watch everyone gets a story. Somehow I always end up coming back this little series. This one picks up right where the last chapter left off.

Pyewacket75's wish list:

Things I want in my story:

1. House and Cameron snuggling in front of a crackling fire

2. Champagne

3. A walk(or drive) around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights.

Things I do NOT want:

1. Any references to House's team as "ducklings"

2. Cuddy trying to interfere in House/Cameron's happiness

3. Wilson being girly

They must have dozed off, Cameron warm against him in the arm chair and the fire dying down until there's nothing but glowing embers. His stomach rumbles and Cameron stirs, setting off pinprick tingles in his good leg where it's gone numb under her weight.

"I guess we fell asleep," she says on a yawn, swiveling to plant her feet on the floor and rise. "I'll put the chicken in the oven."

"Wait," he murmurs, still caught up in a maelstrom of emotion as he pulls her back down and cuddles her against his chest, her hair tickling his chin. "Not yet."

"Your leg must be asleep by now," she says, snuggling into him again.

"Don't care," he says. 'I need you,' is what he doesn't say.

She sighs with a contentment that surprises him. Not that he doesn't think her capable of that kind of contentment, but rather, what surprises him is that he could so easily induce it.

"This is nice," she says, taking one of his hands in hers and fitting her fingers between his. She studies them carefully, as if mentally cataloging the way their hands look, fingers entwined as they are. The look on her face is one of wonder, as if she can't believe that these two hands are really hers and his. It makes him realize what an ass he's been to her, and to himself really, for putting her off for so long.

Laying her head in the crook of his neck again, her breath falls warm against him, raising goosebumps on his skin. His scalp tingles from the sheer joy of this simple moment, the woman he loves in his arms, the quiet intimacy, the peace.

And then her stomach rumbles too, signaling that dinner is long overdue. He feels as if he could stay this way forever, but he supposes that is physically impossible, so he releases the hold his arms have on her, but not the one in his heart.

"Tell you what," he says, "you go throw the food in, and I'll get the fire going again."

"Okay," she replies, pressing a kiss to his neck before she rises, and he can't help but stare after her with what is likely that same wonder on his face that she had only moments before.

He stands and stretches, working out the kinks in both his damaged thigh and his good one, pops a couple of Vicodin and sets to work rebuilding the fire until he's got a cheery blaze going that warms his chilled bones, now bereft of her warmth.

Moments later, she comes back with two plates and sets them down, only to return to the kitchen again. She emerges seconds later with a bottle of champagne and two champagne flutes.

"Been saving this for a special occasion," she says, with a little shrug and an expression of vulnerability, as if she's suddenly uncertain of her place with him.

"Perfect," he says, smiling with as much reassurance as he can muster. He plucks the bottle from her and pops the cork, watching it land across the room near Dickens', who immediately bats at it like it's a new toy.

She holds the flutes as he pours, laughing as some of the foam bubbles over onto the carpet. Dickens is there immediately, lapping at the wet spot with his little pink tongue.

"He'll be drunk in about thirty seconds," House says with a comical quirk of his lips, and Cameron just laughs and clinks her glass against his own, saying, "Merry Christmas, House."

All he can do is nod. The preponderance of Christmas lights in the room is making his eyes watery. Or maybe it's the heat from the fire.

Once they've eaten and consumed nearly all of the champagne, he pulls her into his lap again, watching as the cat gobbles up the remains of their meal from the plates they've set aside.

"The little Dickens is eating like royalty tonight," he notes, his voice a low rumble of humor.

Cameron murmurs a little "mmm," in reply and begins kissing his neck again, and just like that, he's forgotten all about the kitten, and just about everything else including his own name.


The next day at work, Wilson accuses him of glowing, to which he just offers up a half-hearted scowl. He tries his best to be his normal grumpy self all day, but every time he sees Cameron or gets a whiff of that soft, feminine fragrance that is unique to her, he's lost in memories of her body and all her satiny smooth skin and the little sounds of pleasure she makes when he touches her just right. He recalls how she fits against him, how it feels to hold her, the contentment of just sitting quietly with her, and he can't maintain any facade of irritability.

He probably is glowing. Damn Wilson.

"You busy tonight?" he asks her quietly, as they're wrapping up the day. She's sitting at the desk in the conference room, lit only by the lamp and the light from her laptop. Her hair is coming loose from her ponytail; he hopes she'll take it down altogether, because he loves the way it falls over her shoulders, and the way it feels sifting through his fingers.

"No," she answers with a smile. "You want to come over for dinner again?"

"Thought we'd go out," he says. "Something casual, if that's all right with you."

"I'd like that," she replies, tucking files away and shutting down her computer.

He takes her to a little Thai restaurant tucked into a corner of a strip mall. It's not much to look at, but the food is delicious and the service is excellent. The company is beyond compare. He especially likes how easy it is to make her laugh.

When their meal is done, he drives right past her apartment building. He can feel her questioning gaze as she studies him, and he waits for the question.

"Where are we going?"

And there it is, right on time. "You'll see," he says, smiling at her.

Moments later, he turns down Fairview Avenue, and right into a Christmas wonderland of lights. Every house on the block is lit up, some so bright they rival the Griswold's. Cameron's smile lights up just as bright as she glances from one house to another.

"I know how much you like all this Christmas cheer," he tells her, carefully skirting the pedestrians who've come out to see the displays.

"It's beautiful," she murmurs, with the kind of reverent awe one would normally reserve for something sacred. "Thank you."

He takes his time, coasting along the street until they reach the end and then turning around and going back the way they came, so she can see the houses along the other side.

When they reach her apartment building again, he parks and waits and she asks, "Are you... coming up?"

"Yup," he answers with a little grin. "Just making sure I was invited."

"You're always invited," she replies, and he kisses her right there and then, because it's Christmas, and because he can. He's a stray she's rescued and taken in, just like that little furball, Dickens, that started it all. He's got a sudden fondness for cats. Maybe he'll even let the little fleabag nap on his leg.

It is Christmas after all.

A/N: Merry Christmas or whatever you may celebrate.