Sitting alone in his apartment that night had given him plenty of time to think. Wilson had been right. Cameron was going to leave if he didn't fix this. The problem was he didn't know how to fix it. She was angry and she had a right to be.

House sighed and filled another glass of scotch before bringing it to his lips. The cab ride home had been far too sobering and he was in need of a pick me up, because if he didn't get some alcohol in his system he knew the events of the night would come back to him.

The vision of Cameron looking gorgeous in that red dress. The bone chilling looks between the two of them when she made eye contact with him on the runway. The feel of her skin beneath his when he dragged her out into the hallway. The rush of emotions when she had slapped him. And the look of contempt on her face when she quit. None of them were memories he wanted to relive.

The knowledge that she rarely said something she didn't mean was enough to depress him. He sighed sadly and poured another drink. If he was going to be depressed over Cameron, he surely didn't want to remember it.

xxxxxx

Morning came quickly and House's pager rattled from beside him. He reached over for his Vicodin and swallowed two before sitting up. His hangover was bad, but he knew the Vicodin would take care of it as well. Deciding that he had some damage control to take care of he reached out and picked up his phone to answer Cuddy's page.

xxxxxx

(Bargaining)

An hour later, he found himself entering the hospital. Groaning as he noticed everyone watching him, he immediately headed up to the Diagnostic Department. He had expected to be alone and not to see Cameron, but the second he walked up he could see her through the glass walls. House watched her pack her belongings sadly. "What are you doing?"

Cameron looked at him confused. "You fired me."

"Come on, you know I didn't mean it."

Cameron sighed. "I also quit. And I did mean that," Cameron said going back to packing.

House walked over to her and grabbed her arm stopping her. "You can't take this job, Allison. You can't go to Africa with Sebastian Charles."

"Why not?" she asked "Give me one reason why I shouldn't, House."

"Because you'll be miserable."
Cameron shook her head. "You don't know that."

"I do. I do know that. If you leave this hospital and get on that plane you'll be making a huge mistake."

"House..."

"What will it take to keep you here? A raise? More benefits? You're own office? A parking space?"

"Those things didn't work the last time I quit. What makes you think they'll work this time?"

"Then what? A date?"

"House..." she snapped displeasingly.

"Damn it Allison, what will it take? What do you want? Name it and it's yours."

Cameron sighed sadly and shook her head. "You can't give me what I want, Greg."

House clenched his hands into fists before sighing angrily. "And Sebastian Charles can?"

"Maybe. At least he can give me something."

"And I can't? Is that it?"

"NO. It's not that you can't. It's that you won't. You won't give me anything," she said sadly.

House stood silent unable to move, unable to think. His silence was damning.

"Can you honestly tell me that if I stayed something would change?" Cameron pleaded.

House still stood silent. His brain trying desperately to form the words she needed to hear.

Cameron shook her head. "I didn't think so. Goodbye Greg," she said walking towards the exit. She stopped and turned back to face him. "I'll miss you." she said softly. "You have no idea how much I'll miss you." she said before leaving.

House finally broke out of his stupor after she left. "I'll miss you too," he said softly.

xxxxxx

(Depression)

House walked down to the clinic sadly. He had known there was a chance she'd actually leave. He had admitted it to himself the night before, but that didn't mean he actually thought she'd really leave.
He didn't even have the heart to give the nurses a hard time on his way into Exam Room One. He simply grabbed a chart, called the patient and led them back.

Denial

He was in the room for all of two minutes with the patient before Wilson barged in. "I'm terribly sorry to interrupt," he directed at the patient before turning to House, "Can I borrow you for a second?"

House knew what he wanted to talk about. "I'm with a patient." he said mechanically.

Wilson rolled his eyes and pulled House to the corner of the room. "So guess what I found when I went in to see Cuddy about five minutes ago."

"I'm guessing a puppy."

"Close. Dr. Cameron."

"She's more like a teddy bear than a puppy."

"You let her quit!" Wilson snapped.

"I didn't let her do anything. She made her own decisions. The fact that she stuck to them was also her decision. I rescinded her termination and she still chose to leave."

"You let her go!"

"I asked her stay!" House yelled loudly.

Wilson shrunk back. "You what?"

"I asked her to stay. I didn't want her to go. I offered her everything I could to stay. She turned it down. Now get out so I can treat my patient." House ordered.

Wilson sighed. "I told you this would happen. I told you that you'd lose her. That she'd get tired of waiting for you to make up your mind about what you want."

"Out!"

"She's in love with you. She would have stayed for the right reason."

"I'm not going to marry her just so she'll stick around and be my favorite immunologist."

"She wasn't asking you to marry her, House. She was asking you to quit treating her like crap."

"I don't treat her like crap. If anything I treat her with more respect than the other two." House defended.

"No, you treat Foreman with respect and Chase with disdain. But Cameron, you disconnect so you don't have to treat her one way or another. You keep thinking that if you don't acknowledge her she'll go away."

"It worked didn't it? She's gone."

"But not because you ignored her. Because you lied to her. You let her believe you were dying House!"

"That was an accident..."

"You knew though! You knew and you never once set her straight! Do you have any idea what she, what they all went through trying to save you?"

"I told them to stay out of it. I told them not to worry about me."

Wilson shook his head angrily. "And you thought that was enough?"

"I..."

"You what? Unless you said to her 'Cameron I'm not dying. Don't worry about me.' it's not good enough House." he yelled furiously.

"Look James..."

"And the kiss, House! What was with the kiss? Why would you let her kiss you! What is wrong with you!"

"Have you seen Allison Cameron. You'd be asking me the same question if hadn't let her kiss me."

Wilson looked away from House trying to regain his composure and saw the patient. "I'm sorry, this was an inappropriate conversation to have in front of you. Excuse me," he said before exiting.

House turned back to the patient, a young girl of about twenty years and frowned. "What's wrong with you?"

"Didn't you read my chart?"

"Did you see me read your chart?"

"No."

"Then from that we could draw the conclusion that I don't care about your chart. Now I repeat, What's wrong with you?"

"Was Dr. Cameron your girlfriend?"

"No."

"Was she your lover?"

"No."

"You seem awful sad that she's gone."

"And you've concluded that from the two-minute conversation I had with Dr. Wilson?" he snapped annoyed, "Now what are you doing in my exam room?"

"I have a cough."

"You haven't coughed once since you've been in here," House stated plainly.

"It comes and goes."

House nodded. "You have a cough that comes and goes."

"Exactly."

House sighed. "You know..."

"If you didn't want her to leave then why didn't you make her stay."

"Listen kid..."

"I mean, it's obvious you care about her. I don't even know you or her and I can tell."

"I don't..."

"Did you really let her think you were dying?"

"Is that any of your business?"

"That's pretty cruel. Especially if the two of you are in love with each other."

"I'm not in love with Dr. Cameron."

"But you kissed her?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Because she's hot," House snapped. "Are you actually sick?"

The girl sighed. "I had a chemistry lab this morning. I didn't go. I needed a doctors excuse," she admitted.

House sighed. "Come on," he said leading her to the nurse's desk. "Write Ms..." House paused to look at her chart, "Parker an absentee note please."

The nurse behind the desk nodded and began to do so as House walked away. "Thank you," the girl called out.

House ignored her and headed back towards the exam room. "Dr. House do you want another patient?" Nurse Brenda called out.

"No," he shouted before shutting and locking the door. He wanted to be alone to brood.

xxxxxx

(Acceptance)

Somewhere between winning level 15 and 16 on his Game Boy, House stopped denying the simple fact that he had pushed Cameron away. All she had wanted was to know that something was going to change between the two of them. And even he couldn't deny that something already had. He would never be able to look at her the same after the kiss. He had already had trouble looking at her after the poker tournament when he'd seen her in that red dress without feeling somewhat flustered, but now after the kiss all he could think of was what it would be like to do it again. What it would feel like to feel her skin flush against his own.

Now she was gone, and it would never happen. She'd move to Africa and take Sebastian Charles' job offer. Charles would get to hold her hand, and kiss her lips and make love to her every night. They'd probably fall in love, get married, have a few children, and then die old together.

House sighed sadly running his hand through his hair. Cameron falling in love with him had been unexpected. He hadn't hired her for that reason. He hadn't wanted her to do it, and he certainly had never wanted to reciprocate any of the feelings she had for him. He got scared after their trip to see Gravedigger when he realized that he'd actually had fun with her, and hadn't wanted the night to end.

He had purposely sabotaged their date when they had gone to Café Spilleto. He had known she was excited about it. It was why she couldn't keep her mouth shut about it to the rest of the hospital. And he had been nervous. And when she had given him the opportunity to kill the date he took it.

The first time Sebastian Charles came to Princeton, he could feel her slipping away. It was an irrational problem. He had wanted her to stop caring about him, but when he was faced with it he didn't like it one bit. He hadn't liked seeing her holding Charles' hand when he walked in the room, and he certainly didn't like to see Charles' dancing and holding her now.

The night of the poker tournament she had walked in the room and literally taken his breath away. He couldn't remember what he had been saying or thinking. All he knew was she was beautiful and he couldn't tear his eyes away from her. And then when Foreman had purposely exposed her to the disease they couldn't diagnose he had joked about her shooting Foreman, but in reality he had wanted to do it himself.

His hallucination was something entirely different. He hadn't been able to see her the same way again. She had been the first thing he had seen when he woke up in the hallucination and when he came out of his hallucination. He was disappointed when he'd woken up from the Ketamine treatment and she hadn't been there. He'd allowed himself to entertain the idea of him and Cameron together until she had shot him down when he'd come back to work.

But he was still unable to treat her the same. When she had helped Ezra Powell die if it had been Foreman or Chase who had done it he never would have sought them out. But he did for her. He had to let her know he was proud of her. He took as many opportunities to sit near her as he could. He was always standing over her...always watching her.

She had been on his side when Tritter had went after him and had even stood up to Wilson about it. He knew the reason why she refused to go to his trial was because she couldn't bare to see him go to prison if it had gone the other way.

But then he had faked the cancer. He had hurt her badly. He knew it. He also knew he'd never get the kiss out of his mind. Shaking his head and pulling himself out of his self reflection, he closed the Game Boy and turned it off. He quickly began gathering his stuff and then left the hospital. He had to see her.

xxxxxx

Cameron was sitting on her couch when a knock on her door pulled her out of her thoughts. She walked over to it and looked out the peep hole. Smiling, she opened the door and let Sebastian in. "Come in."

"Thank you." he said happily entering the apartment.

Cameron closed the door behind him. "How are you?"

"I'm fine."

"So last night was interesting."

Sebastian nodded. "Yeah. House sure knows how to make a scene."

Cameron nodded. "Yeah."

"So have you decided on my job offer?"

Cameron sighed. "I don't know."

"House told me that you wouldn't take it. That you wouldn't want to leave him," Charles prodded, "which I of course think is ridiculous..."

"I don't want to leave him," Cameron stated interrupting him.

Charles looked at her closely. "Then why did you quit?"

"I can't keep going the way I'm going. I don't want to hate him. If I stay and things stay the way they are, I will."

Charles was about to speak when a knock sounded on the door. "Excuse me." Cameron said moving to open it. She didn't even bother with the peep hole, she knew who it was. No one knocked the way House did. She opened the door and sighed. "I'm really not in the mood for round two right now House."

House moved past her anyway. "So I was thinking..." he started but stopped when he saw Charles. "Oh. I'm interrupting something."

"Yeah. You are," Charles said smugly.

Cameron shot Charles a look of aggravation. "No you're not. Why are you here?"

House shot Cameron a look and then looked back to Charles. "Can we have a moment?"

Cameron took one look at House's face and nodded. "Sebastian why don't you go in the kitchen and make some coffee. It's right there," she said pointing to the kitchen. "We're just going to go in the living room," she said leading House that way.

House followed her, smiling at the fact that she had chosen him over Charles again.

"So you've been thinking?" Cameron asked.

House nodded, suddenly nervous. He had the words in his head but he couldn't get them out.

"House? If you're just going to stand there then..."

"I don't want you to go." House said suddenly.

Cameron sighed. "We've been over this House. You won't give me what I need."

"What if I do?" House asked.

Cameron stopped breathing for a moment. "What?" she asked when she had finally recovered.

"I've been denying you for years and I can't keep doing it. I care about you. I care about you more than I ever wanted to."

"House..."

"When I was shot I had a hallucination."

"Ok."

"About you," House admitted.

Cameron looked at him closely. "About me?"

House nodded. He had told Wilson about the hallucination, but never the part that involved Cameron. "In my hallucination, when I woke up you were the first thing I saw. You'd been there the entire time I was out. And when I came out of the hallucination you were still the first thing I saw."

Tears filled Cameron's eyes. "I was so scared that day."

House nodded. "I know you were. When he shot me I remember thinking that at least he had known who you were because he could have shot you, and it would have been my fault."

"House..."

"I tried to push you away. I tried to kill any chance we had two years ago and you wouldn't let me. You kept pushing and pushing..."

"I..."

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry for so many things. I'm sorry for pushing you away. I'm sorry for hurting you. And I am so unbelievably sorry about the cancer stunt. I hadn't intended for any of you to find out, especially you. But you did, and I should have told you but I couldn't. And then you kissed me." House said pausing to wipe tears off her face, "You kissed me and for a moment I thought I could have what I wanted for a change. So I kissed you back. Because I wanted to kiss you back. If you leave now, nothing will ever be the same. Not for you and certainly not for me."

Cameron smiled. "I shouldn't have gone for the needle."

"If you hadn't gone and tried to take that needle, I still would have stopped it."

"But..."

"Make no mistake I wouldn't have wanted to. But I would have."

"I don't understand."

"You asked me today to tell you that if you stayed something would change. Things have been changing from the day we met. And if you stay I promise things will keep changing. I don't want you to go."

Cameron just stood watching him, not making a sound.

"I mean who's going to make my coffee? You're the only one who knows where the sugar is." He said watching Cameron smile. "Who's going to push me to diagnose people I don't even want to treat?"

"That's all well and good House, but what about me? You say you don't want to change your coffee routine, but what about me? Everything you say you'll miss can be accomplished by hiring a secretary. And seriously I can tell you where the sugar is."

House sighed. "You're not funny."

"I'm not trying to be. I'm just asking questions. This new found revelation of yours has come from nowhere."

"I'm trying to tell you that it hasn't."

"No, you're telling me why having me around makes your life easier, not better."

House sighed in frustration. "I know exactly what I want to say, I know exactly how I want it to come across. I just can't pull it out of my head."

"House..."

"What am I supposed to do if you're gone Allison? I can't explain it to you. I only know that I'll be miserable if you leave."

Cameron looked at House trying to read the expression on his face. The only thing she could come up with was genuine pain. A tear slipped from her eye and she went to open her mouth and speak but they were interrupted by Sebastian. "Allison?"

Cameron heard him but she never let her eyes leave House's. "Can we maybe finish this tomorrow Sebastian?" she said not even looking at him.

Charles sighed and picked up his jacket. He knew that he had lost her when she hadn't even looked at him while asking him to leave. "I'll call you tomorrow."

Cameron and House barely acknowledged the door shutting . Cameron could see House struggling to maintain eye contact but was surprised when he looked to the floor and didn't look back up. "You'll be miserable?" Cameron questioned.

House still locked his eyes to the floor. "Come on it was hard enough to say the first time and now you want me to repeat it?"

Cameron scoffed. "You've put me through a lot House. You've been denying me for years. And I realize that someday you'll hold this moment against me for making you admit what you're feeling, but I need to hear it. I need to hear it because if I don't I'm going to have to move on. I can't keep standing still with you. This boat either needs to move forward or I'm getting off."

House looked up at her for a moment. "Remember when I told you there were five stages of death."

"Yeah."

"Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance."

"I know the five stages of death, House."

"I've been watching my pride die for years. Denial. I've been denying you since the day I met you. I denied that I was jealous when you slept with Chase. I denied it when Wilson told me I liked you. And despite the fact that I'm trying pour my heart out to you a part of me is still denying that all I really want to do is kiss you."

Cameron smiled. "I don't think you need to go into specifics with the Anger portion."

House smiled back. "No I don't think so. Bargaining though, I've been trying to make deals with myself and you. Bargaining with you to come back to work both times you've left. Bargaining with myself that if I keep ignoring what I feel, I won't end up like I did when Stacy left when you inevitably leave."

"I'm not Stacy House." Cameron pointed out.

House nodded. "I know you're not." he said softly. "I'm not good enough for you Cameron."

"Yes you are."

House shook his head. "No I'm not. And I never will be. And not only am I not good enough for you, I'm not good for you period. You deserve someone ten times better than me. You deserve someone who's not addicted to Vicodin. Someone who can run with you. Someone who won't drive you to the brink of misery and poke at you until you want to run screaming in the other direction. I know I'm going to end up hurting you. And that knowledge is enough to make anyone depressed---hence, the Depression stage."

Cameron reached out and grabbed his hand. "I don't need someone who can run with me. I don't even really like running. I'd rather have someone to walk beside me and be there when I need them."

"Is that what you told your dying husband to comfort him too?"

"No... it's what I'm telling you." Cameron said forcefully, "I don't care about your disability, House! I love you. Nothing you can do is going to change that. Even if I'm in Africa, I'm still going to love you. I've tried not to. I've tried to hate you. It doesn't work. It won't ever work. You can say you're not good enough for me if you want to, but all you're doing is hiding. Hiding from me, hiding from how you feel about me."

House looked up at her, her words paralyzing him. He couldn't move, he couldn't speak and he could hardly breathe. He knew that if he said anything right now it would ruin everything. He had a choice. He knew that much. He could do what he always did and just let her go or he could accept that she loved him and that despite his best efforts he had fallen for her as well. He barely had time to choose before his body reacted. Using the hand she was still gripping, he yanked her closer to him; then, he cupped her cheek with his other and pressed his lips against hers.

She responded instantly, deepening the kiss while pulling him as close to her as she could get him. Her fingers tangled in his hair as he expertly worked his lips over hers. She couldn't ever remember anything feeling as perfect as this kiss. Her lungs burned for oxygen by the time he pulled his lips away.

Their foreheads touched as House sucked in a quick breath of oxygen and closed his eyes. His deep voice rumbled softly, "The last stage of death..."

"Acceptance." Cameron muttered in response.

"And Charles' job offer?"

Cameron smiled. "I'm not going anywhere."

"Fantastic." House murmured before pulling her back to him. His lips quickly found hers again, and Cameron's wasted no time inviting him in. Their tongues tangled with lazy sensuousness as House began pulling her towards the couch. He felt her moan deep within his body as he pressed her back against the couch.

Her hands slowly caressed and found their way beneath his shirt. Her fingers examining each finely toned inch of his chest before breaking the kiss to pull his shirt off. She let out a hiss of pleasure as his lips claimed a spot on her neck and his own hands had made their way beneath her shirt.

House trailed slow kisses down her neck. He could feel her pulse racing as his lips pressed against her pulse point. Reaching to remove her shirt he nearly came unglued when she moaned 'Greg ' as his hand grazed her breast.

Cameron pulled him back to her in a sweltering kiss designed to leave them both breathless as she moved her hands back down his chest and over his firm stomach to rest on the button of his jeans. She was about to undo it when he pulled away suddenly.

"What's wrong?"

House smiled warmly. "Nothing." he said leaning down to kiss her gently. He pulled back to look at her and all he saw were her half-lidded eyes filled with passion and want. "This place have a bed somewhere in it?" he asked pulling her up off the couch with him.

Cameron nodded and was about to tell him where when House pulled her in for another kiss, this time removing the elastic band which secured her pony tail. "I like your hair better down," he whispered huskily, his hot breath trailing across her slender, alabaster neck.

Cameron leaned back to look at him for a moment. The air around them sizzled with electricity, and all she could see was his desire for her. It felt like she had been waiting for this moment all her life. With the smile of a wanton vixen, she reached out, curled her hand around his, and gently pulled him down the hallway towards her room.

Cameron looked back at House as soon as they got to her bedroom door.

He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively and spoke in a deep gravely voice."You think your boss will mind you missing work tomorrow?"

xxxxxx

"I can't accept you're job offer." Cameron told Sebastian when she called him. Her admiring eyes never leaving House's toned physique as he headed into her living room the next day. Only half dressed, she could see his broad muscular shoulders and trim waist. He was sex on legs, and barefoot at that.

"You're kidding right?" Charles snapped.

"No. I'm going to stay in Princeton," she said looking over at House sitting on her couch and fiddling with her TIVO remote. His long, lean jean encased legs were propped upon her living room table, while his other arm was casually draped across the couch backing. I finally have exactly what I want, I'm not goinganywhere.

"You have a chance to do some real good in Africa, Allison." Charles pleaded.

"And I have a chance to be really happy in Princeton Sebastian," she said a little annoyed with his persistence.

Sebastian sighed loudly. "You're not staying in Princeton for you, you're staying in Princeton for him."

"I love him."

"He'll never love you back Allison," Charles rationalized.

"I think he will. I think he does."

"Someone has to stop you from making the biggest mistake of your life."

"Someone already did. He stopped me from leaving him. Goodbye, Sebastian," she replied firmly before hanging up the phone.

Cameron looked back over in House's direction watching him as he watched her TV and sighed contentedly. She walked over and plopped down on the couch next to him. "What are you watching?"

House smiled. "America's Next Top Model."

Cameron laughed and House pulled her closer, both content. She saw the smile on House's face and knew that this was going to work. Chuckling slightly, she gained House's attention.

"What?"

Cameron laughed. "Nothing, it's just I never imagined that the five stages of death could lead to paradise."

Fini