Dear Reader, This is the last of the story...I'm giving it to you all at once so that it doesn't ruin the fast pace of the finish. Please leave a review and let me know if you liked the ending.

CHAPTER 7

CHECKMATE

House wasn't going to call her...ever. He had managed to stay away from the phone for over a month, but it was a real test of his will power. He was angry that she had kicked him out without an explanation. He wanted to punish her; he wanted her to be the first to make a move.

If she really thinks she's protecting me, she won't call. Ah, she'll give in. She has to give in. If not, I've got to figure out a way to see her. Why not just call her? Yeah, remember the last time you chased her down? She's kicked you out twice, without a single reason.

Despite his attempts to drum up images of a naked Angelina Jolie, Shiela, Honey, or even Cameron when he'd beat off, he ended up climaxing to his memory of her that night. It made him angry, but he could still feel being inside her when she had her orgasm and see her face when it traveled through her. The image that put him over the edge in the shower was always the thought of her breasts. Worse though, was that he kept going over and over their conversations, watching her bake, hearing her laugh. He missed her.

Even now, sitting in his office in broad daylight, his body was responding to the thought of her. He shook his head in defeat, picked up the receiver, and called her cell phone. House was surprised when Mercy answered.

"Hello Greg."

He paused, waiting to make sure he said the right thing. "I want to see you." He wanted to tell her more. I want to see you. I want to hold you. I want to be around you. I want to make you laugh.

She lowered her voice, trying to control her emotions, "I want to see you too. I've been thinking a lot about you and I realize that you deserve an explanation. You need to know something about me; after you do, you won't want to see me. You'll be glad we're not together."

"Alright, tell me." He braced himself for the worse.

She subconsciously shook her head at the receiver, "No, I need to tell you in person. I'll be over later this afternoon. Will you be in your office?"

"If I'm not, you'll find me somewhere around here."

"Okay, I'll swing by around four."

At four House made sure he was in his office going through the latest journals. He kept looking out for her, but there wasn't any sign of Mercy. His watch said that it was 4:30 pm. House's team was next door finishing the charting on the last patient. Just when he didn't think she was going to show, he saw her walking towards his office. He felt his heart quicken, happy to see her push through the glass door. He quickly wiped the smile off his face when he saw how desperately unhappy she looked.

She smiled and sat down. He noticed that the cast was gone, "Hi."

He said nothing.

She couldn't look him in the eye. She looked around and then down at her shoes. "Greg, I'm not going to waste anymore of your time." She looked up into his eyes, hers brimming with tears, "My ex-boyfriend lives in France. He didn't break my arm."

Now he was curious. He leaned back, "Who did?"

"I need to tell you a little bit of history." She squirmed, leaning an elbow on the arm of the chair and resting her forehead on it. "Two years ago my brother's wife died. When she did, my brother went into a tailspin, not focusing on his company, not caring about the bakery, drinking, partying and eventually gambling. When he got in too deep with the gambling, he sold me his half of the bakery for half its worth just so he could pay back his bookie. Instead of learning a lesson, he got in deeper. The guy who broke my arm the other night was a collector, trying to send my brother a message to pay up."

"But it's not your debt." House was puzzled, but then he nodded, "Ah, I get it. Your brother skipped town and they were hoping you'd know where he was." He looked for some reaction.

She nodded. "Yes, they want to know where he is. But, there's more. My brother is even worse than before. He's really lost it. He was the one who had the painting destroyed. He thinks that, if he couldn't protect his wife, he has to at least protect me. But in his mind, he's failed. He doesn't think he's protected me from his bookies, you, from Flannery, from the horrible people in the world that he thinks are taking advantage of me."

A lightbulb came on, "Oh, I see. You're in contact, so you do know where he's at."

She held up a hand to stop him, "There's more. The police are also looking for my brother."

"Because of the gambling? The mob?"

She shook her head, looking down at her shoes, letting out a huge sigh.

"Why?"

"He shot a man."

"His bookie?"

"No. He shot a good guy. I felt horrible about it. I didn't understand why he did it, until I finally realized he'd had a psychotic break. The man he shot hadn't really been responsible for his wife's death, but he kept blaming him. I should have warned the man when my brother kept threatening to do it, but I didn't really think he would go through with it. But, he did. My brother's not really a criminal, he's just very sick." She was crying, tears flooding down her cheeks. "I kept having nightmares about the shooting, about the man he shot. I felt so guilt, so I..." She paused, unable to go on.

House leaned forward, "You did what?"

She looked up at House, "I started sending the man birthday cakes and cakes at holidays. I wanted him to know that I wasn't my brother, that I was so sorry for what had happened."

The color drained out of House's face, he started to shake his head slightly in disbelief, "You...you can't be ... you're Moriarty's sister?"

"James Moriarty is my brother. I kept my mother's name, the name of the bakery. The female line in my family does."

House stood up, shaking with anger, "You knew your brother wanted to shoot me? You know where he is now and you think cakes can make it all better?"

"No. I know now how absurd it was. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry for not telling you sooner. And, I know he's in Jersey, but he's moves around. I don't really know where he is right now." She looked at him, wiping the tears. "Well, now you know. It's not my old boyfriend watching me; it's the mob, the police, my brother...I'm mostly afraid of my brother. If he finds out that I've slept with you, that I have feelings for you..."

"Feelings?" he snickered, "What, you felt obliged to fill the holes your brother put in me with chocolate Kahlua glaze? I don't believe for one minute that you have real feelings for me. I don't need your guilt or your pity." He walked to the side of the office by the x-ray back-light.

"Greg, I feel more than that for you. But, now you can see why we can't be together. My brother knows something, he left a message yesterday, he was talking so fast it sounded like jibberish. I couldn't understand it. I came to explain why we can't be together."

His voice was angry, sarcastic, "No great loss is it?"

House looked up and saw a figure walking quickly towards his office. He jumped towards the phone to call security. Mercy looked behind her just in time to see her brother walk through the door. His eyes were darting around, unable to fix on any one thing in the room. He had a hand gun and was shaking.

Mercy jumped up, "No! James, no!"

Moriarty was sweating, clearly angry and confused, not calm like he had been the last time he had confronted House with a gun. With his nostrils flaring and his chest heaving he motioned with the gun, "Put the phone down or I shoot her." He aimed the revolver at his sister.

House didn't put the phone down, but he didn't dial either. He saw his team freeze next door. Chris Taub secretly pulled out a cell phone and calmly dialed 911. He didn't dare put it up to his ear or Moriarty would see him. He simply kept the connection open. The team couldn't hear much coming from House's office, but they could see the woman with House was being threatened with a gun.

House said with disgust, "You're not going to shoot your own sister."

Moriarty screamed, "How do you know? She's a disappointment. I know she's sleeping with you, I saw you at her house! I've been following her, waiting for when I'd find the two of you together. I wanted you to see what you've done to me. What you've turned me into." He turned to Mercy, "How could you sleep with this scum? Don't you care how I feel?"

"Yes, of course I care how you feel, but you don't understand James, I can't let you hurt him. Please, I beg of you, don't hurt him again."

"Yeah, I trusted you and look what happened, you start screwing the man who killed Melanie."

House yelled at him, "I didn't kill your wife. Your wife's disease was too far along for me to help her –"

"Greg, no! Don't upset him–" Mercy could see that her brother wasn't in touch with reality, that House was driving him crazy.

But House couldn't shut up, "If you had paid more attention to her, to what she was saying, instead of blowing your money on horses, you would have known she was ill long before she came in to see me."

Moriarty shook his head, "You sshole, you're the doctor. You should have cured her." There was an abrupt change in Moriarty's demeanor; he smiled. He seemed calm, as calm as he was when he shot House the first time. He slowly turned the gun from Mercy to House. She could see his finger start to pull the trigger. She looked at House just standing there, waiting. She threw herself in front of House, heard several pops and felt the hot metal pierce her back and her arm. A shot rang through the glass in the door, behind her brother. Moriarty stumbled forward. As Mercy fell into House, sliding down, she looked up into his eyes, begging for his forgiveness.

House was speechless, stunned. He watched her crumble to the floor, her brother already resting at her feet. The team burst through the door and started to work on Mercy. House looked at his shirt and saw that it was covered in her blood. He backed up against the credenza, looking down at the small bleeding woman at his feet. He was unable to fully appreciate what had just happened.

"House! House!" Cameron yelled as she shook him. "Are you okay? Is any of that blood yours?"

House stared at her, then blinked. Glancing down at his clothes, he shook his head. He whispered, "Mercy."

"Mercy? You don't need to ask for Mercy, Moriarty is going to prison now. He won't be able to touch you anymore."

House came out of his stupor, "No! I mean Mercy. Is she okay?"

"Oh, is that the name of the woman?" They both stared at Mercy as the doctors tried to perform triage. Cameron said softly, "I don't know, it looks bad. Moriarty is still alive, but he has a gun shot to the stomach, pretty painful."

"Good." House spat.

Moriarty looked up at House, "It should have been you. Why did she do it? Why protect you? I never meant to hurt her. She's never hurt anyone. She deserves better than you." He took a deep breath. He started screaming in pain when they lifted him on a gurney and rolled him off to surgery.

House bent down and kneeled next to Mercy. Her eyes were closed and he couldn't hear any breathing. "Does she have a pulse?" He asked the team.

Chris nodded, "Yeah, we have a pulse, but it's thready. She's got to get to surgery."

House started screaming, "Jesus Christ, get her to surgery, now!"

No one was really listening to House, they were already preparing to take Mercy away, they just had to get her brother's gurney out the door before they could take her too. Cameron and House watched as they started running with Mercy's gurney towards the elevator.

"Let me check you over." Cameron pushed him back to the desk. He sat down on it and let her examine him. Cuddy came running in past the police who were now milling around taking statements and measurements.

"House, are you okay?"

He nodded, "Mercy took the bullets."

"Mercy? The baker?"

"Yes. But why, why would she do that?"

One of the cops, a thin dark haired man in a ball cap and round toed boots, spoke up, "Well, the little bitch had it coming, she's been protecting her brother all this time. It was about time she found out that what she was doing would end badly."

House jumped to his feet, his fist flying through the air, landing on the detective's jaw before anyone saw it coming. The detective was flattened. He looked up from the floor as Chris, Cuddy and Cameron held House back.

House tried to kick him, "You son of a b!tch. She almost got killed protecting me. You're talking about the woman I love."

Cameron and Cuddy looked at each other, their eyes wide and mouths open in shock. They all pulled House into the side office and pushed him down into a chair.

He tried to calm his breathing, "Which operating room is she in?"

Cuddy shrugged, "I don't know, but I'll find out."

Several hours later, a very irate detective had been convinced by all involved that his comments had been out of line and in light of what Dr. House had been through, an assault charge probably wouldn't get too far in the system. House watched from the observatory as Mercy's vitals began to fade on the operating table. Cuddy and Cameron sat on either side of him patting his arm and leg from time to time. Wilson finally arrived back from a seminar in Philadelphia and made his way to the observation room.

"House, how is she?" Wilson asked.

House jumped up, "They're losing her." He grabbed his cane and hobbled down to surgery. Without scrubbing, he grabbed a mask and burst inside.

Chase yelled at him, "House get out of here, you're not sterile."

House said nothing back as he rushed straight over to Mercy. Holding the mask up to his face he leaned down to her ears. "Mercy, you can't do this to me. I finally found the best breasts in America and now you're giving up? Come on, we've got a lot of fighting to do between us. Don't give up. I do want you around. I don't want it to end, do you understand?"

Chase, who was busy trying to save her, sighed, "For God's sake House, tell her you love her and get your a$s out of here."

House looked at Chase in shock and then nodded. He looked down at her pale face and choked, "Mercy, I love you. Don't give up. Please." He stood up and walked out of the door, throwing the mask away and walking back to his office where he waited for Chase to tell him the news.

Chase was still in his scrubs, covered with blood. He walked into House's office, his hands on his hips, "She's lost a lot of blood and we had to remove her spleen, I managed to get all the bleeders sewn up. If she doesn't get an infection, she might just pull through. I'll keep you updated." He turned to go, but then faced House and gently said, "You can see her if you want." Then he pushed the door open. Once again he turned back to House, "Oh by the way, her brother died."

House nodded and stood up fast. He was wobbly from all the drama. He grabbed his cane and walked quickly to recovery. She was hooked up to saline, antibiotics and a unit of blood. Her eyes were sunken, her lips white and crusted, her hair matted. Her skin was translucent. He picked up her hand and stroked it."I'm here Mercy, I'm here." He was staring into space when he felt it, the faint squeeze of her hand in his. He snorted, looked up to the ceiling with relief and swallowed. He tried to speak but his throat closed down. His voice came out strained and worried, "Ah, thank God. I was wondering who was going to bake my birthday cake."

The End

Epilogue

"You've put on weight." Cuddy said smiling at him.

He sneered at her, "You try living with a woman who creates Nirvana out of sugar and chocolate. Every night she makes me try a new recipe, each one better than the night before. I've gained ten pounds in the last month."

"Oh, let me get out my violin. You're lucky a woman wants to live with you. I have serious concerns about her mental stability."

"It's all that sugar, it's gone to her head...thank God. If it weren't for the Twinkie effect, I don't think we'd be together." House said.

Cuddy rolled her eyes. "I like Mercy, but does she really know what she's doing?"

"I can vouch for the fact that she knows what she's doing. Have you ever had chocolate fraiche glaze poured all over your body and then licked off?"

Cuddy held a hand up to stop him.

House guffawed, "Well, you wanted to know why I was gaining weight."

"House! Just shut up." They got onto the elevator. "How is she feeling?"

"We compare wounds every once in awhile, but otherwise she's in good shape...very good shape."

"So I guess she'll bake the cake for the wedding?"

"She's already designing it."

"House, you're spoilt."

"I guess you might say that by marrying a baker I can have my cake and eat it too."