Knock.

Just do it, you coward!

He's right there! Right through this door! Do it!

Her inner dialogue continued to berate her as she stood there, her forehead resting against the wooden door. He was right there; just a few feet away. All she had to do was knock and she'd see him again.

Why wasn't she doing it? Did she not just run four blocks to get here, battling traffic and sprinting through the parking lot? Had she not been waiting for this moment since the day Alison Cameron died?

Taking a slow, steadying breath, Alison finally got the nerve to knock and rapped on the door. Her heart thudded in her ears, her palms' sweat practically dripping, her breath coming in shuddering intervals. This was the moment; this was the instant where she saw her long lost love. This was it.

She stood there, waiting.
There was no answer.

Bugger.

Filled with a surge of courage, she started banging on the door, the sound resonating throughout the apartment hallway. She knew he was here; she saw his bike. If he didn't answer soon—

"Go away," his familiar voice called suddenly from within, and the familiarity of his voice made her freeze. Suddenly everything became real: he was really in there, on the other side of that door. He was real.

"House," she called softly, her head still leaning against the door. There was silence for a moment, then she heard a soft thump. Silence.

"House?" she called again, becoming more and more alarmed. Was he ok? Did he fall or something?

After a moment's hesitation she finally got the nerve to open the door.

His apartment was engulfed in darkness. She stood in the doorway for a moment, allowing her eyes to adjust until she could make out the table, the couch… the man sitting on it.

"You're late, Cameron," he whispered in the darkness. Her eyes flew open in surprise. That was unexpected. Rage and indignation she could handle, and had even expected, but that? House really was an enigma. But then, how could he not have known she was back? Knowing Wilson, he probably called House the moment she left his office. House probably knew everything. House always knows everything.

"House. I can explain," she murmured as she walked slowly up to him. He turned slightly, smiling at her in the darkness. Alison couldn't help but notice the disarray his apartment had fallen into. Empty bottles and trash seemed to cover every square inch of it, and the air was thick with the scent of alcohol.

She watched his silhouette as he patted the seat next to him on the couch, wordlessly instructing her to sit down. After a moment of hesitation, she complied.

Silence reigned as he stared at her in the relative darkness, a slightly crooked smirk decorating his face. A blush was creeping up her skin at the way his eyes were locked on her, and even in the darkness she could sense the force of his eyes on her.

Her hyperawareness of his every movement made her freeze as he started inching towards her and her breath caught as his hand lifted slowly, delicately, before resting on her cheek.

"You're late," he whispered again, and her face was blasted with the powerful scent of alcohol. That was when she realized just how wasted he truly was. Staring at him cautiously, she started to speak again,

"I'm sorry, I just-"

She was cut off by him suddenly grabbing her arm, pulling her onto his lap. She couldn't do anything but gasp as he pulled her to his chest, his arm draped over her shoulders, his head resting on hers.

"I've been wasted for at least an hour. You usually appear faster than that."

Ok, now she was confused. She started to speak up but stopped when he began rubbing gentle circles on her arm, his face nuzzling into her hair. She could barely control her breathing, let alone protest or speak.

"You usually don't let me touch you, Cameron," he slurred, his drunken state now incredibly obvious.

"You usually just stand by me, watching silently as I drink. But it's ok, because I get to see you.

"I think my mind must be getting old, though, because I've never changed your hair color before," he murmured, holding her hair in his hands. She remained silent, still not sure what he was talking about.

"Am I losing my mind then?" his words were slurring as he pulled her further into his arms, running his hands haphazardly over her.

"Has my memory of you faded so much that I can't even remember your hair?"

And then she understood. This wasn't real for him. That distant, glazed look in his eyes as he clung to her told her he was stuck back in long lost years. This moment, her in his lap, his arms around her, was nothing more than a hallucination to him.

"I'm not dead, House," she whispered against him, moving her face up to his.

"Of course not," he replied, not at all convincing. She couldn't stand this, couldn't stand to see the distance and pain in his eyes. The pain her 'death' had caused.

"Really," she insisted, "I'm not dead. I'm in the witness protect-" she was cut off as his lips crashed against hers, powerful and possessive. She couldn't help but respond, pulling him against her and gripping his shirt in her hands.

His kisses traveled down her jaw as he whispered,

"Shh, shhh. You've never let me go this far before. Don't ruin it now by talking."

She was quickly pushed back onto the couch and she could feel his hands slipping their way under her shirt. She shuddered under his touch, enjoying the distantly familiar caress she'd been craving for years. How is it possible for a touch she'd felt only once in her life years ago to be so incredibly familiar?

"House," she breathed, wrapping her arms around his neck. He murmured something unintelligible, pushing sloppy kisses across her collarbone. Alison knew this was what she wanted, knew he was what she wanted. This was the life she'd left and she desperately wanted it back.
Just not like this.

"Stop," she finally managed again, though her ability to hold a coherent thought was quickly fading under his skilled hands.

"Please, stop," she begged in a barely audible whisper, gently trying to push him off her. She wanted to give in so badly, needed to give in, but she knew this wasn't right. He needed to know she was really here, not just some drunken hallucination. He deserved that.

Her efforts to stop him, however, were cut short in an instant when he quickly grabbed her wrists, pinning them beside her head. She opened her mouth to protest only to have it covered by his, and her protest died off into a low rasping moan.

Her fight disappeared as their clothes were shed.

--------------------------------------

The lab results were in.

The team all stood around in anticipation, awaiting the outcome of their bets. They stared at the paper that contained the answer, none making a move, until Thirteen finally sighed and grabbed it up, quickly skimming the results.

She barely glanced at Cop Face's results, not at all surprised to see that he was .021% likely to be the father. That's a big negative. Her eyes instead glided down to House's results, only to freeze.

51.986%
POS

Thirteen stood there, a look of pure shock on her face. Taub watched her expression and grinned triumphantly, mumbling,

"I was right, wasn't I?" Thirteen opened her mouth, but closed it again, unable to find the words.

"It's… positive," she finally managed, looking up at them with shock still in her eyes. Kutner laughed, saying,

"So we were right! We win the bet!" Thirteen shook her head, still struggling to form words.

"No, guys. It's not positive for the agent." She tossed the paper to them, shaking her head.

"It's positive for House. He's the father."

--------------------------

House woke up on his living room floor.
Typical, he thought to himself as he attempted to stretch his aching limbs. Was it sad that waking up naked on the living room floor was a regular occurrence in his life?

He just sighed again, before rolling to his left to get more comfortable—and nearly rolling on top of the body lying beside him. His eyes widened as he took in the sight of her: tussled blonde hair, porcelain skin. A shapely backside that just barely peaked out from beneath the couch's blanket.

That's certainly new.

He closed his eyes, trying to remember the night before.

It had started out typical, at least, as he had drunken himself into a stupor in hopes of reaching that euphoric state.
That state where he saw her.
And he had reached it, he recalled. He remembered seeing her, right?
Or was that her?

He remembered blonde hair, someone talking. She looked so much like her…
Almost-Cameron.

That's when it hit him. He stared down at the blonde hair, the somewhat familiar curves. The woman next to him wasn't Cameron; it was Almost-Cameron. His patient's mother.
Perfect.

How had he managed to sleep with his patient's mother? Sure, he knew he could be a bit crazy when drunk, but really? Clearly things were out of control. Focusing once more, he fought to remember just what happened.

She had said something, but he hadn't been listening. How had she known where he lived? He remembered grabbing her, clinging to her. Pushing her down roughly. Whimpering, she kept whimpering. He remembered her pushing back, struggling against his lecherous hands.

House, stop. Please stop.

Oh no.
His hand flew to his mouth and he felt the urge to gag, staring at the body in horror.
Had he… no, he couldn't have!
Had he forced himself on the poor girl?

Burying his face in his hands, he fought to control his frantic breathing. This was it. He'd finally done it; his addiction had finally pushed him too far. This was just… this was his patient's mother! This would be the end of the road for House. He'd go to jail, lose his license, his—

His self-deprecating thoughts faded as the body shifted in sleep, turning to face him with a soft sigh. Her peaceful face was fully revealed to him for the first time, her hair framing her face as she slept on, unaware of his horrified eyes.

He just sat there for what felt like centuries, staring down at her with a gaping mouth. He couldn't believe it.
It was Cameron.
Not a hallucination, not an Almost. It was real. She was real.
He just stared at her sleeping form, shaking his head.
How the hell?

He contemplated waking her up, whether to scream at her or kiss her, but it turned out he didn't need to, as she was already starting to stir. House sat in silence, watching as she slowly woke up.

-----------------------------

Alison slowly felt herself drifting back into consciousness. She shifted slightly, noticing with annoyance that she was on some floor. Her back ached from the uncomfortable sleeping place, and she let out an agitated groan as she started to pull herself up.

"So it's not every day I wake up next to a dead girl," a voice clipped suddenly, piercing her early morning haze. She slowly glanced up, peeking through her cascading hair at the familiar man who now sat perched on the edge of his seat, his elbows resting on his knees and his face in his hands.

"Does this make me a necrophiliac?"

He stared at her with cold, angry eyes.

"House," she whispered, sitting up completely. His anger disappeared for a moment as his eyes dropped, and she quickly realized that the blanket wrapped around her had fallen and exposed her bare chest to him. He smirked as she flushed, yanking the blanket around her quickly, earning herself an eye roll.

"Nothing I haven't seen before." He pulled himself up with an exhausted groan, limping towards his kitchen with an aged slowness that Alison had never seen in him before. Had he really aged so much in these past few years?

"House, I can explain," she starts slowly, following him with her eyes. She hears his sarcastic bark of a laugh from his place within the kitchen.

"Explain, huh? Explain what? Explain how you go from being nothing more than a drunken hallucination to a living, breathing, blonde person!? No thanks, not interested." He couldn't even fathom this. She's alive? How? After all this, after everything…

She sighed, taking a slow and careful breath.

"Please, House, I need to tell you… I … I need you to know."

There was silence for a moment and she could hear him moving around the kitchen, slamming things. Finally he paused, and she could faintly hear him sigh. She turned to see him shuffling back from the kitchen before sitting down on the couch beside her, as far away from her as physically possible.

"Fine. This better be one hell of an explanation."

Taking that as acquiescence, Alison quickly told him about the day after, the day her apartment was destroyed. The day their lives were destroyed. House didn't say a word; he just stood silently in the kitchen as she retold the horrors of losing her identity, of having to start over. She hesitated, however, before mentioning Jayden. How does one tell someone that they actually have a four year old son?

Just as she started to gather the courage to tell him about his little boy, House appeared from within the kitchen, a confused expression marring his features.

"Why are you here now, then? If this gangster is still after you-"

"He's not," she cut off, rubbing her eyes wearily. House watched her for a moment before asking,

"Why is that?" This forced her to pause, however, as she prepared to deliver this blow.

"He's dead."

Silence.
A few moments passed.

"Dead?" She nodded. "How long?"

"Three years…" He laughed bitterly at that, shaking his head in near disgust as he started pacing the room, refusing to meet her eyes.

"So you've been in this program for all these years when you didn't even need to be?" He sounded so angry, truly angry at her for being gone so long. How dare she leave him like that? Alison took in a shuddering breath, saying,

"My… marshal decided that it was necessary for me to stay in the program even with him dead. Hart never even told me about his death."

House stared at her, horrified.

"How did you go three years without knowing he was dead? Did you never think to look him up?"

She shook her head, holding her hands out in vague gestures in an effort to show what she's trying to say.

"I just… House, I was so afraid, you don't even know. I mean… just the thought of that man was enough to…" she paused, shivering at the thought. "I barely had the courage to think about the man, let alone look him up on the internet. Gah, if I'd only had a little courage…"

Tears started slowly sliding from her eyes, and House watched her uncomfortably before slowly, awkwardly reaching a hand out to rest on her shoulder. It was a forced gesture, but Alison still took comfort in it. She had to fight her instinct to lean into his touch, though she couldn't stop the soft sigh from escaping her lips. She had missed him.

After a few moments he pulled away, staring down at her. Things were finally working out. Everything was, in its own twisted way, starting to make sense. So she was in the program, gone in some other state. And she came back here because…

And then he froze as something even more terrifying hit him:

This was Cameron, yes, but she was also Almost-Cameron.
She was his patient's mother.

"Cameron...," he whispered, a rush of thoughts hitting him. "Did you get pregnant?"
She was silent for what felt like ages, her eyes looking everywhere but him.

"I," she paused as her voice cracked, and she cleared her throat, "I don't expect anything from you, financially speaking. I raised Jayden by myself for the last 5 years; I can certainly handle him alone. I'm not going to try and trap you or anything like that…."

She tried to keep the shakes from her voice, failing miserably, and House just watched her with a wounded expression before raking his hands over his eyes with a slow, agonized sigh.

"I can't be a dad, Cameron," he whispered. "I can't… I can't be that guy. The family man."

Cameron closed her eyes slowly, painfully, trying to calm her erratic breathing.

"I'm not going to force you to be in his life, House," she paused before adding in a whisper, "Or mine."

His eyes shot up then, his horrified expression locked onto her sad, closed eyes. Not be a part of her life? Did she not realize that after she… that after her he had no life? Her memory became his life. Every movement she'd ever made, every word she'd ever spoken had consumed him, had motivated him. Everything he had done had been in the pursuit of her memory.

Did she not understand that the day she died she became his life?

"No," he shouted suddenly, and her eyes jerked open in surprise.

"No?"

"Do you really think I'm just going to let you walk out of my life, after all this?" he was almost yelling at her now, glaring down at her predatorily. Her mouth did a quick fish-out-of-water impression as she sputtered wordlessly at him, her eyes wide in surprise.

"I… I…"

He moved to her on the couch, turning his attention to her fully.

"I want you in my life," he declared slowly, his eyes locked on her. She felt the blood rushing to her cheeks and she had to focus to form rational thoughts. The old Alison, the one that had shown up at this very same apartment all those years ago, would have melted instantly and swooned all over him.

But that Alison didn't exist anymore.

Instead, she had to focus on what had become the most important thing in her life: her son.

"What about Jayden?"

House leaned back slowly, staring at her.

"What about him?"

"This is a package deal, House. If you want me, you've got to want him, too." She stared at him steadily, the tears evident in her eyes. He watched her, a slight look of annoyance dashing across his eyes.

"I… I care about you so much, House, but… if I have to choose between you or my son, don't… don't think I'm going to choose you." Her voice shook terribly as she spoke, her heart literally breaking with the words. She loved House. Desperately. She'd always loved him and, in all truth, probably always would. But her son always came first, even before her own feelings.

He turned away from her then, leaning back on the couch with a thoughtful expression. She watched him silently for a few minutes, watched as the gears obviously moved behind his eyes as he contemplated everything he'd just discovered. After ages of silence, he spoke.

"So," he murmured slowly, glancing at her. "Jayden, huh?"
She nodded, her eyes locked on his.

"Gregory Jayden," she whispered back. He grunted softly in acknowledgement before averting his eyes and clearing his throat.

"I can live with that."

She smiled.
He offered her a weak smirk and they sat in a comfortable silence.

Glancing at the clock, she noticed just how late it already was. She needed to go check on Jayden and Hart.

"Well, um. Now that that is settled…" she started after a few minutes, slowly standing up. Now seemed like an appropriate time to go back to the hospital. She was fairly certain House had reached his quota for socializing and revelations for the day.

As she started to move past him, however, a cane shot up suddenly, blocking her path, and House glared at her in annoyance.

"Where do you think you're going?" he murmured, almost angrily. His deep stare locked onto hers and she felt her coherency fading fast. Alison stared at him with wide-eyes, that familiar look of intensity stirring up old feelings. She fumbled saying,

"I was gonna.. um… I mean… Jayden…" How did this man have the power to make her stumble like a moron? Just one look into his eyes and she lost her ability to form basic sentences.

"The kid can wait an hour," he announced, pulling her back to the couch and moving over to her cautiously. She watched, frozen, as he leaned in, his lips barely grazing hers. The whimper that escaped at his gentle touch broke the silence and she quickly reciprocated, opening her mouth to him and wrapping her arms around his neck. In an instant he had her beneath him on the couch, his lips attached to her throat as she gasped breathlessly.

"Or three," he finished, pulling once more at her shirt.

------------------------------------------

The man had never held much stock in fate.

Life wasn't a predestined thing; you made your own destiny. Considering the career path he'd chosen, he saw personally that fate was a myth. Really, was he fated to kill people? And what of the people, were they simply fated to die? It was all very sketchy, this fate business.

Still, even a skeptic like himself had to see that being here, at this hospital, that day, was fate.

It had been five years since he'd been commissioned to kill Doctor Alison Cameron. Five years of searching and searching, only to come up empty-handed. He had almost given up, really. It killed him to admit it, as he was very controlling, but sometimes things just get out of hand. She escaped from him, and that was that.

Or he thought it was, at least, until she came walking right back into his life. It truly had to be fate that brought him to this hospital, her hospital, that day. He'd been monitoring it continually over the years, checking the news and watching the staff, just in case she decided to reappear.

He always doubted she would, of course. She was a doctor, so he assumed she'd be smart enough to know that she could never return to this life, not when there was a hit out on her.

Clearly he was wrong. She'd waltzed right into the lobby, bruised and bloody, and he'd made her instantly. She tried to change her appearance, he could tell, as her hair was a different color and she wore disguising clothes.

But he knew. Oh, did he know. He knew her; he'd memorized her picture years ago. Every morning, every night, he would stare at her picture, memorizing her.

The one that got away.

The unfinished job.

It had haunted him these last few years, torn at him. He could have killed her that night, so long ago, but he'd been young then. Foolish. He'd fallen for her beauty and let her get away. Medici had been furious, had blamed him for it.

Medici was right, of course. It had been his fault, he'd let her escape, but he had always despised being spoken down to.

That's why he'd killed him, right then. Two to the heart, one to the head. Very militaristic, very neat, just the way the man liked it. He'd dumped the body in a gutter by the trash, right where it belonged.

He thought killing Medici would give him some closure, some finality. It hadn't. Even after his death he saw her face, saw her in his dreams. He wanted to retire, wanted to leave with the millions he'd earned over his years as a gun-for-hire, but no matter where he went and no matter what he did she was always there, like a shadow over him.

That was why he had stayed in Princeton. That is why he had visited the teaching hospital religiously, always lurking around the lobby.

That was why he had been there that day when she'd come in, a long ago memory come back to life, racing back to allow him the sweet relief of a finished job.

Maybe there really was something to this fate thing.

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A/N Sorry for the late-ness.
Life has been… distracting.
It's a touch longer than usual, though, which is my way of sucking up (:

Sorry if the style seems inconsistent between the sections. I wrote the first scene and the assassin scene a long time ago, back when I first started working on this story, so this chapter wasn't written all in one sitting.