C.C. gave a heavy sigh getting off the elevator on the 38th floor, carrying her two large carry-on bags. While walking down the hallway, dragging her feet, she enviously thought about how Maxwell and Grace had returned to their big, loving family who were worried sick about them and welcomed them home after their ordeal with open arms. She stopped at her door, one of only three on the floor, and pulled out her key agonizing over the fact that nobody would be on the other side, nobody would be there to make sure she was okay, she would be alone with her paralyzing thoughts. Looking to the floor, she pulled her key out of her pocket and slowly opened the door, immediately she paused and stiffened. A wave of chicken soup captivated her senses and the yellow glow of her living room lights surrounded her. Straight ahead Niles stood with his back turned in the kitchen, stirring the soup on the stove and preparing other foods oblivious to her presence. His coat was draped over her leather couch, entirely unlike his usual self not to have hung it up, but then again this was her place, not his, why would he bother?

Then again, why was he even here in the first place? It's not like he ever cared about her before, if anything, C.C. was surprised he didn't sneak in early to turn the air conditioning on high, it was the middle of a December snowstorm after all, what had gotten into him?

Niles quickly turned around, his eyes looking wrinkled and tired from lack of sleep and too much worry. It took all his strength to stop the tears from forming in his eyes as they gazed upon C.C. standing stunned in the doorway, frozen from shock. Or perhaps…just frozen. Her heavy bags fell out of her hands and hard onto the floor as their eyes met, she didn't seem to notice however. Her hands shook so slightly, she really must still be cold. He hoped he had turned her heater on with enough time for it to be warm enough in her place. Her eyes bore into his, they were full of questions, all he saw was pure exhaustion and the vulnerability she never knew slipped out each time she was over-stressed and over-tired. Barely being able to contain himself he rushed over to where she still stood in the doorway never breaking eye contact.

It seemed like he had moved instantly to her, the concern and relief pouring from his pale blue orbs as he grabbed her into a forceful embrace needing physical proof that she was really there, that she was really okay. Wordlessly, he buckled one arm around her waist and the other firmly held her head to his shoulder, tangling his fingers in her silky hair.

He held her like he hadn't seen her in years, he pressed his face into her hair and inhaled, becoming absolutely intoxicated with her. She felt stiff at first, and as he feared, still physically cold, almost freezing. She relaxed into the embrace in a matter of seconds and buried her face into his neck wrapping her arms under his and around his back, holding him to her longer.

Internally, Niles kicked himself for waiting until she was on the brink of death, to show her the compassion she desperately needed. Everybody in her life, especially him, was guilty of completely neglecting her feelings. He softly kissed the side of her head and her shoulder. It was so tender, C.C. wasn't sure it even really happened. Their bodies were pressed against each other and C.C.'s full breasts were pillowed across Niles' strong chest, abdomen's touching. She felt the tears form in her eyes and rapidly blinked so he wouldn't notice. They loosened their grip on each other a bit, and with a ragged, raspy voice, he whispered how glad he was that she was okay. She pulled away; still surprised at his honesty and that he was showing concern for her. He looked at her for a moment before he cleared his throat and pulled away, motioning for her to sit down.