A long oneshot cowritten with The Sarcastic Polar Bear around the time when Fox announced that House was ending. We decided that the only way the show could end was with his death, so that's what we wrote. There is Hameron, and Hilson friendship. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: Not ours!
Allison Cameron's eyes filled with tears as her phone slid from her hand and hit the floor with an odd clattering noise.
James Wilson's voice rang sharply in her ears, his words playing over and over like a broken record that she couldn't fix.
She hadn't lived in New Jersey for five years, and she hadn't seen him since then. She had just packed up one night and left, and since then she had only heard his voice once in a message on her answering machine. She had deleted it almost immediately, but not before shedding a few tears for what she had lost.
A year ago, Wilson had called her and told her that House had been diagnosed with lupus, and she had almost laughed at the irony. It didn't matter. He would get through it.
How wrong she had been.
Looking down, she saw the phone lying in pieces on the floor. And in that moment, she made up her mind. She packed a bag, made the arrangements, and within a couple of hours she was on the first flight to New Jersey.
But she wasn't alone.
Miles away, Lisa Cuddy was sitting in a private hospital room, her eyes filled with tears that wouldn't fall. Across from her, Wilson was sitting in the only other chair, his face grim. And between them, in a specially ordered hospital bed (one that Wilson had paid for out of his own pocket) was Gregory House. His features were gaunt and pale, and his frail form was hidden beneath numerous blankets brought from his apartment. Beside the bed, the heart monitor beeped steadily. Of all the ways he could have gone out, this was one they never would have predicted. He was wasting away, something Cuddy never thought House would have tolerated. She had honestly thought he would have taken his own life before he let it get to the point that he needed someone to tend to his most personal needs.
But she suspected he was waiting on something, and Wilson had confirmed that thought for her earlier when he pulled her out of the room and told her that Allison Cameron was on her way. House was not a romantic by any stretch of the imagination, but when she had left without so much as a goodbye, it had taken a toll on him.
Now he was dying, but in his true style, he wasn't going quietly or easily. Even now, the same fire that was in his eyes when she first met him burned just as brightly, despite his impending death.
Wilson suddenly stood. "I'll be right back," he murmured, briefly meeting Cuddy's eyes.
Exhaling deeply, Wilson stepped out of the room. Maybe it hadn't been the best idea to call Cameron and ask her to come back, but House missed her, even if he would never admit it. On more than one occasion, Wilson had walked into House's room only to hear his best friend call out for the woman that had disappeared from his life. And on many levels, he resented Cameron for that. But he knew how House felt about her, and with the minutes slowly ticking away, he knew that House needed to see her again.
Five minutes later, like a mirage across the desert, Cameron appeared down the hall. His eyes widened as she came closer, and he realized that she wasn't alone.
Cameron finally came to a stop in front of Wilson, and her heart ached. She had missed this place and these people more than she realized. But House... She had missed him with every fiber of her being. "Jimmy..." She let go of the hand she was holding and dropped her bag, then wrapped her arms firmly around his neck.
Wilson hesitated before bringing his arms around her and hugging her back. They stood still for several long moments before he finally pulled away. He bit his lip nervously. "He's barely hanging in there," he whispered.
"Thank you for calling me." A small noise behind her drew her away from Wilson, and she motioned to the small child with large blue eyes and a pink jumper. "Jimmy...this is my daughter, Sarah."
Wilson blinked for a moment. The little girl was the spitting image of her mother, but the child's eyes were mirror images of House's baby blue irises. He put on a friendly smile. "Hi there."
Sarah gave him a shy smile before hiding behind her mother's legs.
Cameron smiled just a little, then looked at the door Wilson had been guarding. "He's in there...?"
He nodded. "Yep."
She swallowed hard, the knot in her gut tightening. "Sarah..." She looked down at her little girl. "Honey, this is Jimmy. He's my friend. Can you stay here with him for just a minute while Mommy goes in there?"
Sarah hesitantly nodded.
Smiling sadly, Cameron ruffled her daughter's dark hair. Then she took her tiny hand and placed it in Wilson's. "I'll be right back." She wanted to see House for a minute and talk to him before she dropped the bomb that he had a daughter, and that Cameron had kept her hidden. Wilson looked at her with a mixture of sympathy and anger, and she squeezed his arm before walking into House's hospital room.
Cuddy was still sitting beside House when the door opened, and her eyes grew wide. "What...?"
House didn't speak, but his gaze locked on Cameron as she slipped into the room.
Cameron's breathing came a little faster as she took in House's form for the first time in five years. His blue eyes were sunken and haunted, his lips were dry and cracked, and his body was barely visible under the blankets. "House," she breathed, her knees shaking.
"Who did you expect?" he coughed. "Bugs Bunny?"
Cameron looked at Cuddy. "Can I have a few minutes with him?" Her voice was soft, but she wasn't making a request.
Cuddy balked and looked at House. "I don't know..."
House stared at Cameron before weakly gesturing for Cuddy to leave. "Listen to the lady."
Huffing, Cuddy got up and left the room.
The door closed behind her, and Cameron slowly approached the bed. He was impossibly frail, but the fire in his eyes that had captured her almost a decade ago was still there.
An uncomfortable silence lingered between them before he finally spoke. "My lady knight in shining armor?"
She almost smiled as she reached the bed. "Wilson called me. I got here as fast as I could." She studied his hand for a moment before gently slipping her hand into his. His skin was surprisingly warm, and before she could stop herself, she raised her free hand and gently traced his jaw with her finger.
It took him a moment to respond, and he curled his fingers around her lithe hand.
Her lips curled up in a soft smile, but there were tears in her eyes. "House, I have to tell you something..."
The door opened, and a tiny voice spoke. "Mommy?"
Cameron turned around quickly. "Sarah, what are you doing?"
The little girl approached the bed, her eyes widening with each step she took.
Before her mother could stop her, Sarah crossed the floor and climbed into the empty chair by the bed. Then she leaned over and studied House intently. "Hi."
House stared at the child blankly. "Hi."
Her look softened as her daughter looked at her father for the first time. "House, this is my daughter, Sarah."
House was silent for a long moment. He still remembered the night before Cameron had left, and Sarah had his eyes. It didn't take him long for the thought to register. "I can tell," he finally said.
Cameron moved her gaze to her daughter. "Sarah, go back into the hall with Jimmy."
The little girl pouted in a way that was very familiar to House.
"Jimmy will buy you as many cookies as you want, and he loves to act like an idiot," House encouraged.
Sarah finally climbed off of the chair, but before she walked away, she gave House a disapproving look. "That's not a nice word," she informed him.
Cameron bit back a laugh as the little girl skipped out of the room.
Alone with her again, House eyed Cameron. "Well?"
"She's yours, but I think you already know that."
"Unless there's someone else out there with eyes this handsome." He felt hurt that she hadn't spoken to him, but deep down he couldn't blame her. Both Cameron and Sarah deserved better than a selfish bastard like himself.
Her hand slid back into his. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you about her." And now, Sarah wouldn't get the chance to really know him. Cameron's heart broke again at the thought."Why didn't you?"
That was a harder question for her to answer, and she struggled with it for a while. "I left before I knew I was pregnant. When I found out about her... I didn't know what to do. I had a new job, a new life. I knew she was yours, and I tried to call you a few times. But you never answered." Her thumb moved slowly over the back of his hand.
"I know," he admitted.
Her gaze dropped to their entwined hands. "She looks like you."
"Let's just hope she acts like me." A smirk started to spread across his face.
Letting out a slow breath, Cameron met House's eyes again. "How are you feeling?" she asked, changing the topic of conversation. But immediately she realized what a ridiculous question it was. He was dying.
"Like any other dying person."
A tear finally rolled down her cheek. "I should have come back sooner..."
"I guess. But nobody ever told you to."
"That doesn't matter!" She let go of his hand and stood up, her slender frame trembling. "I should have done something." Sarah deserved to know her father. "I should have made you listen to me."
He was so calm, so accepting, and it only angered her more. "I don't know. But I should have tried."
"And I would have done my own thing."
"But you would have known that you had a child."
He suddenly started to cough, and without thinking she moved back to the bed and helped him onto his side. Then she leaned down and patted his back until the coughing fit passed.
Beneath her hands, he was frighteningly fragile. She could feel his bones beneath his skin, and muscles that had sparked attraction in her years ago had wasted away. She let her free hand settle gently against his head.
"Thanks," he muttered lowly.
Lowering herself until she was face to face with him, she whispered, "Don't thank me." She certainly didn't deserve it.
"Alright. I take it back."
The weak smile that played across his handsome features made a lump form in her throat. Shaking her head, she closed the distance between them and tentatively brushed her lips against his.
It took him a while to respond, but he closed his eyes and leaned into her soft kiss, deepening it gradually.
Neither of them noticed the door open, or Wilson and Sarah as they crept across the floor. When he saw them kissing, Wilson almost ushered the little girl out of the room. But now that he knew Sarah knew House was her father, he didn't feel that it was right to keep them apart. So he cleared his throat.
Cameron pulled away from House reluctantly, her cheeks blushing. But she kept her hand on the back of his neck as she turned her head toward the intruder.
Grinning, Sarah scurried across the floor and pushed herself into her mother's lap.
Cameron finally let go of House and wrapped her arms around her little girl. Their little girl.
House studied his daughter closely. "I bet you're not as mean as I am. Shame."
Cameron almost laughed when Sarah scowled at him. "I don' wanna be mean," she informed him.
"Uh oh. That means you're like your mom, which is bad."
Wilson smothered a laugh.
Cameron absently ran her hand over her daughter's thick hair. "Sarah, do you remember when I told you we were coming here so you could meet your daddy?"
Cameron motioned to House. "That's your daddy." A fresh surge of guilt hit her. She should have done this years ago.
The little girl looked intrigued, and she studied his face intently.
"Is it that big of a shocker?" he teased before stifling a cough.
Her cerulean eyes widened. "Are you sick?" Even at just four years old, she was very intelligent.
"Sure am," he responded as the little girl continued to stare at him in awe.
Before Cameron could stop her, Sarah leaned over and climbed onto the hospital bed. Then she leaned over and kissed House's cheek. "Mommy's kisses al'ays make me feel better."
Cameron started to pick Sarah up, but after debating with herself for a moment, she leaned back in her chair. "Sarah... he's more sick than you were, baby."
"She's right," House added.
Sarah looked at her mother, then back at her daddy. "How come?"
"Wow, you ask a lot of questions. And sometimes people just get really sick."
"When are you gonna get better?"
Cameron shifted uncomfortably. "Sarah..."
Sarah recognized her mother's tone. It was the same tone she used when Sarah asked where babies came from, or what happened to her pet goldfish.
"I'm not." House didn't know if Sarah would understand, so he used the simplest terms he could think of.
fell quiet as she absorbed that as best as she could. After a minute, she reached out and grasped his large hand with both of her tiny hands.
House hesitated before squeezing gently. "Thanks, midget."
A smile slowly crept across her little face. Scooting closer to his head, she looked at his eyes. "Your eyes are like mine!" she declared exuberantly.
"Yup. If you make your eyes big and stick your lip out, anybody will get you anything."
"Mommy says my eyes are pretty!" She leaned back against his pillow and watched him intently.
"Good. That makes the trick even better, especially on Jimmy. He's a big softy."
She giggled. "I like Jimmy!"
Cameron had to smile. Of course she liked Wilson.
"He's my friend. And he has toys hidden in his office."
"Mommy has a piano," she informed him.
That surprised him. "She does?"
"Yeah! And I have a tiny one in my room!"
"I have one in my living room." He hadn't had the strength to play his piano in months, and simply talking about it hurt.
Sensing his sadness, Sarah leaned over and wrapped her arm around his neck, hugging him tightly.
Cameron was surprised by Sarah's affection. She was a happy and affectionate child, just not with people she had met less than an hour ago.
He shifted uncomfortably, unsure of how to respond to the child's embrace. Finally he put one arm around her tiny body.
Sarah snuggled closer to him, her actions guided by the natural affection she felt for him. Her mother leaned closer to the bed, not sure of what to do.
Finally Cameron reached for her daughter. "Sarah, come here, sweetheart. He needs to rest..."
"She's fine," he said after a moment's hesitation.
Sarah smiled and nestled even closer to him.
Surprised, Cameron leaned back again and watched Sarah and House. Her own anger toward herself bubbled up again. How could she have kept them apart?
After a few minutes, House's eyelids started to droop. Cameron noticed this, and she hesitated briefly before extending her hand and running her fingers through his hair. "Rest," she murmured. "We're not going anywhere."
He closed his eyes. "Alright..."
She watched him with sad eyes as he drifted off to sleep. Soon after, Sarah fell asleep cuddled against him. But Cameron remained awake, determined to watch over the two of them.
House startled awake later that night, not sure what had awoken him. Cameron had been reading a book, but the moment she realized he was awake, she closed the book and leaned over until she was close enough to touch him. "Hey..."
"Hey," he yawned.
When his eyes scanned his surroundings, Cameron almost smiled. "Wilson took her to his apartment."
"Don't be surprised if she comes back with half the toys in the world."
"I'm sure that's exactly what will happen." Slowly, as if awaiting rejection, Cameron moved from her chair to sit on the edge of his bed.
A silence fell between them for a moment. "Where did you go?"
She thought about that as she made herself comfortable beside him. "Pennsylvania."
Even after the nap, he still looked exhausted, and her chest tightened. When Wilson offered to take Sarah to his apartment, he had quietly told Cameron that he didn't think House would make it to the end of the week.
"I bet you never found a more awesome boss."
"You would be right." There would never be another person who came close.
"I always am."
"Of course." She leaned over and poured a glass of water. Then she raised the bed until he was comfortably upright. "Drink some of this." She placed a straw in the glass, then held it to his dry lips.
He took a long sip. The cool liquid felt refreshing as it slipped down his throat, and he rested back against the pillows.
Setting the glass aside, Cameron pulled a blanket tighter around him. Then she gently smoothed his hair back. "It's still late. Do you want to try to go back to sleep?"
He shrugged. "I dunno. I was having this really sexy dream I'd like to get back to."
She chuckled softly. "What was it about?"
"We may have gotten a little excited at a beach."
"Fun times." She reached behind him and adjusted his pillows.
"Yep." He watched as she sat back down. "What did you do in Pennsylvania? Hot dates and stripper clubs?"
"No. I worked and took care of Sarah."
"Good. I'd be pretty disappointed if you were having fun without me."
They both paused at his words, and a lump formed in Cameron's throat. For almost five years she had managed to live without him. So why did the idea of a future without him suddenly seem so terrifying?
Suddenly she felt his hand on her arm, and without thinking, she buried herself in his embrace.
He was taken aback, but he wrapped his arms around her slim frame.
Beneath her ear, she could hear his heart beating erratically. This wasn't supposed to happen. House was one of those people, a force to be reckoned with. He wasn't supposed to die.
Despite his exhaustion, House rubbed her back comfortingly. "It's okay..." he said gruffly.
"It's not," she whispered, burying her face in his neck. Of course it wasn't okay. He was dying. He was dying, and she never should have left New Jersey.
He didn't say anything. He just held her as she cried. What was he supposed to say?
Finally she grew quiet, but she maintained her grip on him. She had barely been there a day, but already she could see the changes as he continued to deteriorate. Slowly her arms slipped around him, and her embrace turned protective and comforting.
He rested his head against her shoulder, his eyelids growing heavy.
She rested her head gently against his. "Sleep," she whispered into his ear. "If you're up to it, I'll have Wilson bring Sarah back in the morning."
He nodded wearily. "Okay," he murmured.
"Good." And just a few moments later, he fell asleep in her arms. She didn't have the heart to move him, so she laid back against the pillows with him and closed her eyes.
Now that she finally had him, how could she ever let him go?
He slept straight through the night, and when he awoke, Cameron was in the chair by his bed. And in her lap, Sarah was holding a Dr. Seuss book and listening to her mother read it.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
Though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hacken-Cracks howl
Onward up many
A frightening creek
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
Sarah was the first to notice that her daddy was awake, and she quietly closed the book.
Cameron looked at her daughter. "What's wrong, baby?"
The little girl pointed to the bed, and Cameron smiled sadly.
"What? It's not polite to point," House scoffed.
Sarah looked at her mother, then climbed out of her lap and made her way over to the bed. Her tiny shirt had AC/DC written on the front, and she smiled as she climbed onto the bed with him. "Hi."
"Nice shirt," he commented.
"Wilson bought it for her," Cameron volunteered.
Sarah nodded, grinning. "And a kitty!"
"Let me guess, Wilson's in debt after going shopping with you."
"That would be a safe assumption."
Giggling, Sarah snuggled into his side.
Cameron watched them with a soft smile. She didn't have the heart to tell Sarah that he would never leave that bed, and that one day all she would have would be misty memories.
House put his arm around his daughter, who smiled and snuggled deeper into his side.
Unnoticed at the door, Wilson held up a camera and snapped a few pictures. After spending the day with the little girl, he had bonded with her. She deserved to have a few pictures with her father that she could look back on later in life and know he cared about her.
House shifted uncomfortably, his hand absently resting on his right thigh.
Noticing this, Cameron got out of her chair and moved Sarah onto House's other side. Then she gently moved his hand away and peeled back the blanket enough so that she could see his leg. "Sarah, why don't you tell your daddy about your new kitty?" she murmured, hoping to distract the little girl. Her hands settled on House's bad leg and gently began kneading.
She hadn't seen his bad leg since that fateful night, and the sight of it formed a knot in her stomach. Almost all of the muscle had wasted away, and she realized that the pain had to be excruciating. But he was already receiving the highest dose of morphine that was medically safe and wouldn't put him in a coma for the rest of the time he had left. Though, she couldn't help wondering why he didn't choose that, or even why he hadn't taken his own life when he found out that he was going to die.
Sarah beamed at her father. "Jimmy got me a black kitty. I named her Boo!"
"Teach it how to pee on Wilson's chair."
Sarah giggled wildly. "She's a stuffed kitty!"
House rolled his eyes. "Of course Wilson would wuss out instead of getting you a real one."
"Mommy said no."
Cameron chuckled as her fingers manipulated House's damaged leg.
"I bet she says no to a lot of cool things." He let out a small sigh of relief as the pain in his leg decreased.
Sarah watched his face intently. "When are you gonna go home? I wanna show you my piano!"
The room was deathly silent. He looked at Cameron, unsure of how to answer.
Suddenly sick, Cameron looked at their daughter. "Sarah... your dad is very sick. He's... He's not going to be able to come home."
"She's right. I'm stuck here," he said softly.
The little girl looked confused and upset. "But... you gotta get better so I can have a daddy!"
"Sarah..." Fresh tears welled up in Cameron's eyes.
"I'm sorry," he said sincerely. "I would if I could."
With a soft cry, she launched herself into his arms and buried her face in his chest. Her tiny arms went around his neck, and she clung to him as tightly as she could.
Her reaction surprised him, and he held the child close.
Too choked up to speak, Cameron covered his leg again. Then she slid off of the bed and walked over to the window on the other side of the room.
House brushed his fingers over Sarah's dark hair in an attempt at comfort.
Sarah pressed her face into his chest and clutched his shirt in her tiny fingers. "I don' want you to go..."
"I'm gonna have to," he whispered.
"But..." Her tiny body started to shake. "But if you wen' with us, Mommy wouldn' be sad no more, and she'll play her piano! And I can play mine, too!"
He sighed. "I'm sorry..."
Tears rolled down Cameron's cheek as Sarah hugged her father tighter and cried. She felt just as helpless as her little daughter, and there was no end in sight.
Three days after their arrival in New Jersey, House's health was quickly declining. During the days, Cameron allowed Wilson to bring Sarah to House's room, and they would spend hours together. The little girl was still having trouble understanding that he wouldn't be leaving the hospital, but to his credit, he comforted her every time she cried. And when he simply didn't have any strength left, Cameron would call Wilson to take Sarah back to his apartment for the night. She trusted Wilson implicitly, and that trust allowed her to stay all night in House's room, talking to him or simply comforting him in silence. For the first time, he was actually opening up to her, and she learned things that no one else knew about him. And even more surprising, he didn't seem bitter about any of it. He just accepted his impending demise in a very matter-of-fact manner. It seemed that she cried more tears over his condition than he did.
On the fourth day, Cameron was trying to convince him to eat a little broth when he said something that caught her completely off guard. He wanted her and Sarah to have his apartment and everything in it. Her mouth fell slightly agape when he told her that he had already signed the papers and revised his will (he actually had a will?) to make sure that his child would have every advantage.
"House, I don't know what to say..."
"Then don't say anything."
"Are you sure about this?" She reached out and ran her fingers lightly through his hair. That was another thing that had changed before she even realized. There were no physical boundaries anymore. Anytime she had the inclination, she reached over and took his hand or touched his cheek. And he did the same, something she never thought would have happen.
She sighed softly, searching his eyes for any sign of deception. But all she found was sadness and...affection? Caring? It surprised her, and her hand paused in his hair. "Okay."
"What? You don't like it?"
"No, no. It's fine," she assured him, smiling sadly. Her thumb moved slowly along his jawline.
His hand caught hers, and he squeezed it for a moment.
With a soft smile, she brought his hand up to her mouth and kissed his knuckles. Then she eased onto the bed with him and let him lean against her side. "I gave her your name," she murmured as he rested his head on her shoulder and she slid her arm around him.
"Good. It sounds better," he teased.
Cameron chuckled quietly. "Her full name is Sarah Riley House."
"Nice ring to it."
She drew a blanket tighter around him. He was quieter than usual, and she continued trying to draw him out. "She loves my piano. She's had a few formal lessons already, and her teacher thinks that she has a lot of potential." Her fingers trailed slowly up and down his arm.
"I'm sure she does if she's anything like me."
"Trust me, she's so much like you, it's frightening."
He sighed exaggeratedly. "That's a relief."
Her hand settled over his chest, where his heart beat slowly. He shifted until his head was under her chin, and without thinking she kissed the top of his head and closed her eyes. "When she was a baby, she was always happy and making noise. I don't think she ever actually cried."
He didn't respond, and her eyes flew open. "Greg?" Without hesitation, she moved her fingers to his neck. His pulse was weak, but it was there. He had just fallen asleep. That was becoming more and more common. Stifling a soft groan, she held him tighter and kissed the side of his head.
It was the beginning of the end, and in that moment, she would have given anything to stop it.
On the fifth day Cameron was at the hospital, early in the morning, she awoke to House coughing and shaking in her arms. She had spent the past two nights sleeping beside him after he developed difficulty breathing at night. He refused an oxygen mask, so Cameron told the nursing staff that no one was allowed in after nine p.m., so he wouldn't be disturbed if he was actually sleeping well. Since there was nothing to do aside from keeping him comfortable, Wilson took it a step further and made sure that no one bothered them. Cameron was with him, and he knew that she was doing her best to take care of him.
Speaking softly to him, she helped House sit up and waited until his breathing was more regular before she reached for the phone. None of this was a surprise, but she still felt as though the wind had been knocked out of her as she called Wilson and told him to bring Sarah to the hospital. He agreed and promised to call Cuddy, and finally she hung up the phone and watched House's face. What little color he had the previous night was gone, and the look in his eyes told her that he knew what was happening, as well. Blinking back tears, she closed the distance between them and kissed him softly. Then she urged him to lie back down while they waited for Wilson to bring Sarah up.
Wilson showed up with Sarah a half-hour later, and he was surprised to see House sitting up in the bed, obviously enjoying the attention Cameron was lavishing on him. For a brief moment he was thrilled, but it quickly changed when he was silently reminded that before death, patients could often experience a short period of alertness and energy. This usually came a day or even hours before death occurred. Forcing a smile, he let go of Sarah's hand and watched as she skipped over to the bed where her parents were.
Grinning, Sarah pulled herself up onto the bed and hugged her mother. Then she scooted over to her father and nestled her tiny body into his side.
"Hey, squirt," he greeted.
"Hi, Daddy!" She looked up at him with big blue eyes that mirrored his own, and she smiled. "Jimmy said I get to see you!"
"Oh? What else has Jimmy been doing? He likes to play with dolls."
"Yeah! He played with my Barbie."
Wilson smiled and leaned against the wall.
"I bet he had fun with that."
"Uh huh." Grasping his arm gently, she leaned up and kissed his stubbled cheek. "He said you're his bes' friend!"
"I am. Even though he's a bit of a girl sometimes."
She giggled and patted his cheek with her tiny hand. "You're silly."
Wilson felt Cuddy join him, and he slid an arm around her, hugging her to his side.
"Yeah, yeah, I've heard that before," he scoffed playfully, squeezing her hand.
She looked down at their hands, then back up at his face. "I'm gonna miss you." Her little voice was full of sadness.
"I'll miss you, too," he said after a moment's hesitation.
Sniffling, she leaned up and wrapped her arms firmly around his neck.
He hugged her. "You'll be fine, kiddo."
Resting her head in the crook of his neck, she sighed softly. Her little fingers played with the material of his hospital gown. "I love you, Daddy."
Cameron turned her head to hide the tears in her blue-green eyes.
The words rang in his ears. I love you... Those three words had always been nearly impossible for him to speak, almost as if they didn't exist in his language. "Love you, too..."
Sarah smiled, and Cameron drew both of them into a hug. It was the one thing she had wanted, for her daughter to know her father, and now it was ending all too soon.
A silent tear slid down her cheek as she mourned his impending death and the loss of what could have been.
A half hour later, House's energy was fading. With a deep sadness and reluctance, she watched Sarah kiss his cheek and hug him again as she whispered, "I love you, Daddy," into his ear. He returned the sentiment, and Wilson lifted Sarah out of the bed and carried her out of the room. Cuddy followed close behind.
The door closed, and Cameron turned to face the man who had captured her heart years ago and had never let it go. Even though he was dying, his mind and spirit were just as strong as ever. He was facing one of the great unknowns in life with more courage and strength than anyone she had ever known, not that she would have expected anything less from Gregory House.
"Guess we're alone now."
She couldn't help noticing that he was breathing harder than he had been, and she situated him against the pillows. "Yes, we are." Then she brushed her lips lightly against his forehead.
He let out a long, uneasy breath. "Perfect time for feel better sex."
"That's what you'd like." She pulled his blanket up and tucked it around him.
"You better believe it. I haven't gotten any in a year."
Chuckling softly, she gently smoothed his hair back. Then she slid her arm around him, allowing him to rest against her. "What am I going to do without you?" she whispered.
"Take a picture and tape it to your ceiling?"
"Hmm." He moved his head to her shoulder and she kissed him softly. "You know that I... I love you, right?" she murmured. It was the one thing she had withheld, but it was becoming painfully clear that he could, at any moment, close his eyes and never open them again.
"Yeah," he said softly.
"Good." Her fingertips trailed lightly up and down his arm.
"I guess the feeling's mutual."
"I kind of hoped so."
He started to respond, but a coughing fit interrupted, shaking his entire body.
Cameron held him tighter, running her hand over his chest. "Easy... Try to breathe." But fear laced her voice.
He shuddered and grabbed her shirt tightly, grimacing in pain.
"Shh..." She wrapped her arms firmly around him, letting him hold onto her. "I've got you."
He groaned, resting against her warm body. Her hand gently rubbed his back, and he focused on her sea-green eyes.
She smiled tearfully as their gazes locked. Without him having to say it, she knew he was afraid to be alone. Having spent most of his life pushing people away, it was a feeling he was familiar with. But during his final minutes, there was no other place either of them would rather be.
Her hand came up and gently cradled his head. It was bittersweet knowing that they had talked, kissed and touched more in these past few days than they ever had in the decade they had known each other. But she had to be grateful that she would always have this.
He shivered, suddenly cold despite the fact that the thermostat was turned up and he was wrapped up in her arms. He closed his eyes and pressed his face into the crook of her neck.
Cameron rested her head against his and closed her eyes. After a while, his breathing slowed and became more even. But there was still a deep rattling in his chest every time he drew a breath.
His breaths grew more and more sporadic and difficult, each one bringing a sharp pain as he inhaled.
Cameron could feel his body tense each time he inhaled, and she stubbornly tried to hide her tears. "Shh...you don't have to fight anymore." She kissed his head again and tangled her fingers in his damp hair. She wasn't sure if he was waiting on something or fighting to stay with her, but she couldn't stand seeing him in pain anymore, even for just a few minutes more with him.
He nodded slightly. "I know..."
Even as he said that, he pressed himself even tighter against her. His arm weakly went around her.
She shushed him again, listening to his breathing for a minute. "Things won't be the same without you. Life...life won't be the same without you." She would never be the same again.
"I am pretty memorable."
"Of course you are." But she had their daughter, and through Sarah, she would always have a living, breathing piece of him.
"Make sure Sarah remembers me... Unless you want me to haunt you."
What she didn't say was that he would haunt her anyway. The memory of his touch had haunted her ever since she first left New Jersey, and him. "I'd never let her forget you," she whispered.
"Good." He let out a long breath and opened his eyes for a moment.
Cameron returned his gaze, and her grip tightened on him protectively.
He rested his head against her chest, his eyelids fluttering. His hand curled around hers tightly.
She squeezed his hand reassuringly. "I'm not letting go, Greg."
"Thanks..." he mumbled.
"It's okay. It's okay." She kissed his head again, unsure of who she was trying to comfort. Him or herself. He relaxed even more against her, and a soft sigh of contentment passed his lips. His pain was gone, and his awareness was almost gone as well. Cameron briefly glanced at the heart monitor by his bed.
His heart rate had dropped rapidly since Sarah had left, and now his heart was barely beating. She wiggled her finger and pressed it lightly against the inside of his wrist. His pulse flickered weakly against the tip of her finger. He was still with her, but he wouldn't be much longer.
He was barely able to keep his eyes open or speak or breathe. The past few days had been long and painful, but now he felt nothing at all. Finally he gave up and stiffened for a moment before allowing himself to go limp against her.
Cameron cradled him against her and a weak sigh reached her ears. She waited for him to take another breath, but instead the harsh whine of a flat-line was all she could hear.
Allison Cameron looked up from the book she was reading. "What is it, baby?" She was sitting on the couch in her living room, her legs tucked neatly beneath herself.
A few moments later, Sarah burst into the living room exuberantly.
Cameron smiled. Sarah was twelve years old, and every bit her father's child. Sometimes she couldn't believe it had been eight years since House died, since the last time she had held him in her arms.
Stopping in front of her mother, Sarah held up a box. "What's this?"
Immediately recognizing the box, Cameron hesitated. Was she ready for this? Was Sarah? Sarah had asked questions about her father, and she knew that he was a doctor, loved the piano, and he loved her. She had even gone with her mother to the cemetery where he was buried.
Realizing that Sarah was waiting for her answer, she reached out and took the box. Then she pulled her daughter onto the couch with her and slowly opened the box. Inside of the box were pictures, faded tickets to a monster truck rally, a tarnished necklace and a navy tie.
"Sarah, these are all the things I kept that remind me of your dad."
Sarah's eyes widened. "My dad?"
"Yes, sweetheart. He wasn't the nicest man, but I loved him so much. We met when I applied for a job at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital…"
A/N: Yes, the only true ending to this show would be his death. Lupus would just be ironic. LOL. Here's hoping that Cam comes back for the finale. Thanks for reading, and please review!