House decided that today was the day.

House decided that today was the day. He would tell her about Stacey. He couldn't go on with her fantasy. If it wasn't today, it would be tomorrow or a week from today, or a month from today. He wasn't going to go a whole lifetime worrying when the day would come that he was going to disappoint her for the last time. But without a doubt it would come. He felt old and decrepit around her. Nothing he did seemed to vary on that theme. She was so young and had so much to offer. He had absolutely no idea why she fixated on him. His answer of 'no' was supposed to nip all this crap in the bud. That worked out real well. He mocked himself. Damn, but she was persistent.

He needed to end this now. He wasn't looking forward to having a conversation with her. Well he would keep it as one-sided as possible. The most he'd ever said was a gruff word or sentence. He felt at war with himself. He felt like there were two people inside of him, but that other person was just really, really small. He needed to quash it. Unfortunately, Allison Cameron had awakened Teeny. His feelings were close the same level as when he was with Stacey. He could be happy with her, he knew. He had such a great time last night. However Gregory House was not a young man any more. Dr. Allison Cameron would want children. He most definitely, did not. He pondered those few facts before dialing Allison Cameron's number.

………………………………………………………………………………..

Cam woke up in a triumphant mood. She had done it. She had shown House how she felt about him and got him to reciprocate in kind. If getting Gregory House to show his feelings was some elusive magic trick, then she was a master magician. Her mind floated back loftily to the kiss from the previous night. Yes, there was definitely feeling there.

Perhaps she could fix House after all. It would be Allison Cameron who overcame Gregory House, with a temper like a grizzly bear. There was some pride to be had in that, Cam could not deny herself. She let her imagination play on the scene in her head for a few moments. Suddenly, the phone rang. She picked up the wireless receiver, her heart beating a million miles a minute.

"Hello?" it was him. She knew it was.

He cleared his throat before speaking. "Dr. Cameron, we should probably talk. I'm ready to open up about my past with you." House put on a face to go with the voice. Acting was something he did rather well.

"Okay, do you want to come over? I could make some tea."

Inwardly House cringed, he could never stand any sort of tea, he couldn't ever really taste it unless he put in sugar, and then he always ruined it. He answered "That sounds great. I'll be right over," And hung up.

He couldn't stand to hear the hope in her voice. Her bright, shiny voice, like the promise of a new summer day.

He pictured a laundry commercial and realized that it wasn't too far from the truth. He couldn't work with heady thoughts of Allison Cameron. She stole his thoughts. While he was frittering his afternoon away, thinking of her bright blue eyes or shiny, dark hair, someone could very well die, and PPTH couldn't very well have that on her hands. He'd blame her, of course.

Life was about endings, but not all of them were happy. Cameron had to stop living in a fantasy world eventually; it might as well be now.

Cameron had just put the kettle (she loved tea kettles, microwaves could be so impersonal sometimes) when she heard a knock at her door. It was House of course. She went up to kiss him, and he accepted a light kiss between them and then gently, with a hand on either shoulder, pushed her away.

"House, what's wrong?" Cameron sensed his agitation.

"I can't commit to you. I'm here to tell you why. I'm a hopeless bachelor, and frankly, I'm not sure I could keep up with you." It was stretching the truth a little bit, he could run circles around her and drink her under the table to boot, but he knew how delicate she was. She needed to empathize and sympathize with him.

Cam led him over to the furniture where they sat the night previous. Suddenly, the tea kettle began to whistle.

"That will be the tea." Cameron said, her mood dampened. She prepared two mugs and added the teabags. This wasn't going exactly how she'd planned. She won. That meant she got to live happily ever after, didn't it? Who cares if your knight in shining armor uses a cane, and doesn't shave, he was her knight in shining armor. Not that he was rescuing her, she didn't need rescuing. She began to confuse herself. House also had that ability. He could twist her words and thoughts, so she no longer had any idea where she was coming from.

House made himself at home flipping through magazines. Cam came to him and set the steaming mug in front of him on the coffee table.

"So you are ready to open up and tell me why can't be together. Go for it." Cam's face was deadpan. She really didn't want to hear this.

"Well as you know I was not married, but I did live with someone, as I mentioned before. My feelings for this person are complicated and duplicitous. She made a decision for me that was not okay with me. I was in a lot of pain. Rather than death or amputation, she opted to let the surgeons cut me open like a turkey and remove the necrotic tissue instead.

Stacey was a firm believer that if there are mountains rather than going around there must always be a way through. The removal of the necrotic tissue was painful as well. It may not have even worked. In fact, I knew the odds; I fully expected death as a result. I couldn't forgive her for doing this. I cared about her, but I couldn't get past the decision she made, like I was a child, or someone not fully in control of their mental faculties.

I resented her and as the years grew it was like an open wound. I am alone because of her, I drink because of her, and because of her I am addicted to these accursed pain pills. I endured painful therapy; I walk with a cane like some 80 year old invalid. I used to be vital, I ran in the morning before work every day. Stacey and I had our routine we were happy, and suddenly I was not and I blame her. When she left I was lonely. There is no doubt about that, but if she were to walk right through that door this very minute, I'm afraid I'd have to go back to her. Angry though I am"

House laid it all out on the line. If he couldn't make Cam disappear by saying one word, he would make her disappear by saying too many. True he had no idea how he felt about Stacey. He did hate her though, of that he was sure. Would he sleep with her? Possibly. Their love life was something his co-workers were jealous of. But live with her again, love her? He doubted very much that that would ever be the case again.

Cam forced herself to be calm throughout House's diatribe. She had won. She knew she had won. On some level, she did still feel triumphant, but this was definitely a blow. For her own good, she supposed it was best to let him go. What was the saying, right? 'If you love them, let them go'? Still, House cared. He cared enough to let her down gently, and that meant a lot. He could have decided never to speak to her again and that would definitely have killed her, she knew. Yet, she felt the need to fight for what she wanted.

"But House, Stacey is far away, you don't have to think about the past. Let it go or it will it eat away at you," she pleaded. House winced at her tone. It was like kicking a puppy. But like a puppy, this needed to be discouraged or the behavior would continue.

"I'm afraid it's too late for that, the erosion has begun. Five years is a long time to let things fester."

"I know now that you care, you can't hide that from me now."

"I don't know what I feel . . .protective, possibly, like an older brother. You bruise easily, and I won't be responsible for the bruising. Eventually, you would grow to resent me, as soon as you find out I can't be fixed."

"You know that's not true," I don't want anyone but you, she thought. Instead she said. "Well, thank you for sharing and being frank with me. I know more now than I did. I'm glad you chose to confide in me." She stood and offered House her hand. He stood with the aide of his cane and shook her tiny hand. Cameron walked him to the door.

"House-," he turned and she kissed him for one last time, sharing the feelings more honestly between them in the kiss than with his words. She broke the kiss and said ," I'll see you at work on Monday?"

House merely nodded still dazed by the kiss. He padded out her door and got in the elevator.

Cam turned around and shut the door with an air of finality. Time to move on to other things. Still, a small voice nagged at her, No, this definitely isn't over.

FIN

A/N: Based on how the seasons following this story went I felt it best to end this way for now. However, should the arc pick up again, you can be sure there will be a sequel.