"Five years."

He didn't turn to the sound of her voice, but she knew he had heard her. She knew that he had heard the door to the roof and the sound of her heels clattering and knew he knew it was her. She wasn't sure if she had expected him to turn to her. As a matter of fact, she didn't know anything for now. Stacy Warner had thought that he wanted her, had seen that look in his eyes when he said he didn't want her to go. It had been the last straw after that little kiss, its memory still simmering in her mind and lips, for her to just… give in to her own needs –– the ones Mark hadn't cared about at all the last few months –– and let him take her to bed. She was emotionally more raw than she had let on the last few months, and she suspected he knew. Stacy both loved and hated him for it… but not as much as she hated herself for not being able to stop loving him no matter what, for letting him worm his way in her heart again so easily, so effortlessly, if he had ever left it to begin with, She hated herself for wanting and needing him, and for the fact that he was right all along –– she loved him more.

She slowly leaned back, resting her weight against the cold door and closing her eyes, feeling the nightly chill come upon her. A part of her wanted to walk over to him and embrace him tightly, let him hold her tighter. It was the first thing that crossed her mind to get warmer, and it scared her that it was that. Another, small part of her couldn't bear being close to him right now. It had always been just like this –– it had always been a game of love and hate. She guessed that it was part of what made Gregory House so mysterious and attractive, part of what made their relationship so addictive. Stacy's professional life didn't hold a lot of surprises nor did her love life with Mark really. Then there was a Greg who was always unpredictable and could give her the thrills she craved, piquing her emotions.

She needed to tell him. She had been too taken aback to say much when he told her not to do it, but her overactive mind and heart hadn't stopped battling when she collected her belongings, and now she couldn't let herself walk away without telling him once more. She just couldn't. She wasn't sure whether she expected him to change his mind, whether maybe it was a half-hearted try to convince him not to be this way.

"I lived with you for five years. I was happy with you for those five years, never needed more than what you gave me."

"That was before you––"

"Before I gave them permission to save you, yes! I know!"

He turned to her finally, she saw through the tears blurring her eyes. The shrieking of her voice must have done it, she guessed. It had sounded foreign even to her own ears. She thought it fit with the turmoil she felt boiling inside her somehow, though. Sucking her bottom lip underneath her teeth and biting down to stop herself from crying right then and there, Stacy pushed away from the door and walked over to him slowly, eyes never leaving his and his never leaving hers. She sat down right beside him, leaving just enough space between them so they weren't touching each other. She then exhaled a long, shaky breath.

"I regret what it did to us and to our relationship and that it sentenced you to a lifetime of pain, but I don't regret saving your life," she whispered, her voice calm again.

At that, he looked away and sighed deeply himself. He knew that she didn't regret it, and she knew he didn't quite know how to feel about that nor what he should say about that. Her hazel eyes fell upon his hand as he restlessly fingered his cane. She knew he did this when he was bored, but he, too, did it when he was between fires emotionally –– the very small level of emotion he seemed to possess taken in consideration.

"You're contradicting yourself," she continued, unashamedly hugging herself as the wind blew about her and only contributed to how cold she felt. "You say that you are the same; that you haven't changed. Still, you always mention your leg as if it did change everything." She took a breath, finally taking her eyes off of him. She knew that she was taking a leap with this, but she couldn't contain it any longer now. What difference would it really make? She had gotten hurt already anyway.

"Stacy, don't."

Her eyes met his again. "What? Am I getting too close to the truth, Greg? You were always one who liked to chase, who liked the hunt better, impossibly fascinated by mystery, no longer interested once everything's unraveled. Yet, you did live with me for five years and unless you are a good actor, I do believe you were happy with me as well. Your surgery, did it make you realize you aren't that heartless man you so desperately wish to be? You never told me you loved me again, and you never touched me intimately again –– until yesterday. I know you will never forgive me for what I did if only to save your life, but it wasn't the touch of someone who doesn't love me."

He looked at her once more, regarding her with his deep blue eyes. "You're accusing me of having feelings?"

She closed her eyes for a second longer than necessary. She could feel her hand itch, wanted to slap him across the cheek so bad now. She needed to push on now and say what she felt if she didn't want to have regrets, whatever came from it. She absolutely hated his sarcasm, though.

"Maybe it scared you, that you couldn't really forgive me yet you could still love me? I never wanted anything else than what you could give me, but you always pushing me away… I couldn't bear it any longer. I want you no matter how crazy it sounds, though, and I know you want me, too. I felt it so much, Greg. The way your eyes fluttered right before you came and how you breathed my name yesterday was already enough."

Stacy could see his blue eyes soften just a tad in that moment, felt him soften by the lack of sarcastic retort upon what she had just said. It confirmed that she was right, and she desperately hoped that whatever he said next wouldn't disappoint her. Please, she begged, let it be one of his rare, human flares.

"You're insane," House finally said, "and you always manage to ruin my entire reputation."

"Your reputation of the heartless jerk?"


She leaned her head upon his shoulder and sighed. If it had been a half-hearted try of hers to convince House to just let her love him, it had definitely worked. She didn't like being a heartbreaker, and as such she didn't look forward to telling Mark that she was going to stay in Princeton. It wouldn't be fair going back with him while she had left her heart there, though. Maybe it had never been fair of her at all to be with Mark while she knew that she wasn't over House and never would be. She was fully aware that it might not last forever this time either with him, but maybe she just needed to run straight into the wall to finally learn her lesson and hate him enough not to want him anymore.