I never told you that I loved you. That was my biggest mistake. I never told you that I see you. I see you even when I'm not awake. I never told you that I hear you. Even when you're not even near. I never told you that I hate you. It was something you could already feel. I never told you how much you disappointed me. Every time you turned around. I never told you because we had so much time. And then it came too soon. I never told you because I was afraid. Never would I have thought you were too. I never told you why I stayed. But then again, neither did you. I never told you why I cry. But you already knew. I never told you that my heart broke. But it wasn't why you cared. I never told you why I lied. Nothing would ever change. I never told you that you were my life. Something I treasured above all others. I never told you that I loved you. You, and no one else. I never told you any of these things. Because you were all I had.

They should never have even been together this long. She knows it. House knows it. Living on what could be borrowed time, never was her strong point. This isn't so hard, though. Shouldn't that make her sad to some extent?

As she drops her bag onto the bed, her eye catches the soft white paper lying drowsily on its side on the floor. Her hands pick it up carelessly, almost cold-like, and she sits on the edge of the lonely bed still made. She reads each word, not realizing at first how much everything hides behind small and simple letters. This is him. This is her. Every sentence is something about him, something that could easily about her, something about them both.

A tear begins to form without her noticing it, wondering how he could write this without letting her know. Is he still that afraid of her? It's a simple poem, filled with truth, riddled with fear, pieced together with regret, and held together by nothing.

She doesn't hear the uneven footsteps and the unmistakable sound that will always seem to follow her, or for her to follow. She doesn't hear the sharp intake of breath of someone embarrassed and pained. She doesn't hear at all.

He watches as she suddenly raises her head, letting her hands release precious cargo that falls almost dreamily to his bare feet. Intending to bend down and regain possession of it, a sense of deja-vu overcomes him. But he's a man who doesn't believe in that sensation, and he's a man who's forgotten a dream from so long ago. He shakes the feeling off, attributing it to humiliation or something of the kind.

"What'd you do with him?"

"Threw him away."

"What?" She stands, wanting to know how he feels.

"He's just a rat, Cameron. What'd you expect?"

"He was Steve McQueen to you, House. It's alright to feel upset."

"No, Steve McQueen was Steve McQueen to me. And I'm not upset. He's an animal, animals die. Though with you around I'm sure he thought he'd live forever."

She wants to fold her arms, decides against it, and instead places her thumbs into her pockets. What can she say? She'd grown to like the rat, though not as much as she'd loved her own dog nearly fifteen years ago. But her mind no longer rests upon their dead rat, her mind lingers on that piece of paper he's folded up and put in his pocket.

"House…" Can she approach it? "Did you write that?"

There's an image come to mind as she asks him that. The mouse with the cheese cringing against the corner, back to the wall, with murderous cat ready to pounce on easy prey. He'll be damned if he's prey.

"Steve's funeral. Thought I'd write up a eulogy for the old bat…rat. I'm so good at rhyming."

"You didn't even know he was dead until five minutes ago."

"What can I say? I am brilliantly brilliant and quickly quick."

He turns around, limping his way back toward the kitchen, trying to find some way to make her forget what she'd just read. How could he have been stupid enough to just leave it by the bed? He can hear her sock covered feet slowly making way across the strong floor. The small hairs on the back of his neck rise in response to the inevitability of what will come.

"We're not talking about it."

"About what?"

Glancing up, he pulls his cup closer to him. "You know what."

Of course she knows. He wants to let go of the poem. He wants her to forget that she'd read what he'd written. How can she however, when it means forgetting what they've trudged through?

So, she doesn't. She feels along the edge of the island counter until she's standing beside his still tense body. Carefully, she props herself onto the counter, forcing him to finally have to look up to her. Being with him for so long, she knows she has to give before she can take.

Softly, "House, I'm going to tell you why I stayed."

For a moment, he's not sure what she's talking about. She's decided to stay with him more than once, so how can he pinpoint one? Her hand lightly fingering the tips of his hair, he simply says nothing while making sure his own right hand stays the scant inch away from her thigh.

"Stacy was your true love and you know it." She looks down at him, wishing she could see his thoughts behind clear blue eyes. "I don't believe in true love, but I do believe in real love. I came back because I already know what true love feels like. Not real love, though."

Tension rises as they each look at the other, wondering what's true and what's not. For as long as they've been together, this is what it usually comes down to. Fact v. fiction.

"That's," he pauses to shake his head. "A load of crap."

She can't help but laugh sharply because maybe he's right. Then again, she knows he's not.

"You're not always right."

"I'm never wrong," he replies as he somewhat drags her across the counter so that he stands casually between her legs. It's an intimate position, one he barely allows himself because it leaves him mostly on one leg and her on none.

"I'm telling the truth, House."

"Yeah," he sighs, "you always are."

"You wrote that."

"I did."

"I think it's nice."

"I think it's trying to hard."

"No…but I think it's broken."

"I know I'm going to regret this, but why?"

"It's not finished."

"It's finished."

"I don't think so."

"Well, so?"

"Will you let me see it?"

Hesitation never runs through him at work, but when he's with her, it's all he can do. He's not the same man he was over a year ago though. This is why he pulls the paper out of his pocket, and it's why he gives it to her, and only her.

Reaching over for a pencil lying distractedly beside the napkins, she writes one simple sentence at the end before handing the now wrinkled sheet to him.

He reads the print so different from his own, reminded that not everything is about him anymore.

I never told you until now.

"You know…I really do hate you sometimes."

She nods her head and leans closer to him. "You know you love me."

"No, I hate you."

"I love you."

"I hate you."

"I love you."

"I hate you."

"Well, I hate you too."

"I love you."

This is the truth. This is him proving himself wrong when he'd told her long ago that they would never weather the storm. And for once, he could care less.

.end.


A/N: There! We're done! Well, I had to keep y'all on your toes with the last chap. I'm evil like that I suppose. But now you know...it was Steve. Hated to kill him, but it had to come. Anyways, sorry for the lateness. After Tuesday's finale, I kinda just...lost my wind there for a while. Thanks to everybody for reading. Hope you enjoyed this behemoth...story. Thanks.